“City of Ashes” by Cassandra Clare

So, I realized recently that I have a terrible track record when it comes to talking about book series. I always have the best intentions, I start off with the first one, promise to talk about the others and then I forget or get distracted by something shiny and then never come back to it. I’m gonna try to be better. So, in the spirit of that, here is my considered opinion of the second book in the Mortal Instruments series- it’s awesome. This should come as no surprise.
So, it picks up not long after the first book ends and everyone is still trying to come to grips with the fact that Valentine, not- Voldemort, has returned and Clary and Jace are trying to cope with the fact that they are brother and sister, which I cannot stress enough isn’t true, but they don’t know that yet. So, they’re still Luke-and-Leia-ing it up, which honestly is really sad. Like, I enjoy a good romance as much as the next girl, maybe more, but this is still just kinda sad. And weird. Definitely weird. Because, I mean, what are you supposed to say? “Oh I wish they could be together”? “Those siblings would be such a cute couple”? Because at this point the reader isn’t supposed to know it either. I just cheated and peeked at a later book. I’m really not sure the author thought this thing all the way through, to be honest.
Anyhow, so the whole Shadowhunter world is in chaos as everyone tries to figure out what Valentine will do next, and what he does next is kill a bunch of people, rather predictably, to be honest. But still, it all is very cool and fairly cinematic the way it is written, it’s very easy to imagine it and the way it will look on screen, whenever it is the second movie comes out. The part on the boat in particular is very, very cool and how Magnus spells Luke’s truck so that it can just drive across the water? Awesome. I want my car to be able to do that. And how Clary uses that rune to completely destroy the boat? Girlfriend packs a mean punch. Oh, yeah, uh, in case you haven’t read the books, or don’t intend to, there are these runes that the Shadowhunters can draw, mostly on themselves, for things like healing, balance, strength or endurance and they’re basically magic. Well, Clary, because she’s awesome and the main character, can pack a whole lot more juice into your average rune than anyone else. She can also create new runes, which no one thought was possible before she started doing it. So, to destroy the boat, she carved the one for “open” into the hull and poured as much as she had into it. The boat was torn apart. Even the rivets flew out, that’s how big of a wallop she has. So, very cool. Makes up for the fact that she still doesn’t really do much fighting and in battle she mostly gets kidnapped and hit upside the head. But, that’s not really her fault, she wasn’t raised as a Shadowhunter, she didn’t even know she was one until recently, so she’s never been trained. You can’t blame someone for not knowing something they never thought they’d need to know.
And then there’s Simon, Clary’s best friend. This is where things get a bit tricky for me. See, this is where the series has me on shaky ground, as there is definite shades of Twilight in that particular storyline. That whole “love triangle, one of whom is her best friend and loves her deeply and faithfully from afar” thing. That is always super annoying. Especially since they’re following the Twilight tradition of the best friend being the one who loses out. Though, I will grant you, watching her genuinely try to be with him was a nice change of pace. You can’t really blame the poor girl- her mom is in a coma, the guy she’s in love with is apparently her brother, her home and everything she owns is destroyed, she’s found out her life is based on a lie and then her best friend leans over and kisses her. What’s she supposed to do? Shove him away? So she tries and it’s sweet and sad that she just can’t be that for him, that all she can think about and all she wants is Jace. And poor Jace, he just fell so hard and so fast. She’s the whole world for him and he can’t have her, and now she’s with this other guy. It just kills him. Honestly, it’s crazy how much he cares about her and worries about her- at one point he runs into the demon of fear, which kills by showing a person what they fear most in all the world. Apparently that much mind- bending terror, magically amplified no doubt, will kill a person pretty quickly. Anyway, what he sees when he sees the demon is Clary dying. Seriously, that is the thing that he is more afraid of than anything else in the world. Well, that and his father, since that’s what he sees the second time he runs into the demon.
Anyway, there’s a nice change of pace from that stupid trope when Simon breaks up with Clary, instead of the other way around. And there really aren’t any bad feelings, he just tells her that he knows it’s not working, he knows she doesn’t feel that way about him and that he would rather have what they’ve always had, a true friendship, than pretend at anything else. He would rather have that truth than a lie that would twist everything about them. So that was nice. Oh, and Simon is turned into a vampire, which I’m not sure how I feel about. I mean, cool, he’s now fully a part of that world, yay awesome, but I’m not a huge fan of vampires. And I don’t really understand those who are. So… neutral. Neutral I suppose.
As I said, I think this book was awesome and it ends on a little bit of a cliffhanger, as someone announces to Clary that they know how to get her mother out of her magically induced coma, so that leads quite nicely into the third book.

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Joss Whedon and Shakespeare Get Together

Well, I’m not entirely sure how well this will go, but it’s one of my favorite plays, if not my favorite play, by Shakespeare and I do love Joss Whedon. I guess we just have to trust him. I just have two reservations about this movie- 1) I really, really loved the earlier one (no idea when it came out and I don’t feel like looking it up but it starred Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington, and the dude who played Wilson on “House”) and 2) I really don’t care for Alexis Denisof, which I realize is prejudiced of me, since he’s done plenty of good things since annoying the crap out of me on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, but that was my first impression of him and I can’t shake it. “Angel” didn’t help the situation either, as the show took a serious turn for the worst once the Irish guy was killed and he showed up. But I did like him “Dollhouse”, the few episodes he was on. And yes, I am a Whedonite. I said I was a nerd.

“City Of Bones” by Cassandra Clare

So I’m gonna be honest- I tore through this series like I haven’t in a while. I very quickly developed a fangirl reaction to not only this series but the trailers for the movie that comes out in August, which btw looks epic. But, first things first, let’s talk about “City of Bones”.
So, it’s another of those “there’s a whole other world beneath our noses” books, which isn’t quite played out, but I feel like it might be getting close to it. I mean, I know it’s a classic way to enter a brand new world, you can’t beat it, it’s the perfect way to introduce the audience to this new world and all it’s weird rules and creatures. But still, do you know how many times I’ve read it? I can’t tell you, because I’ve lost track. But that little quibble aside, and one other that I’ll get to in a minute, I really loved this book. Clary was awesome and brave, and not in the usual way you’d expect in a book about demon- hunting. She wasn’t much for flying sidekicks or whatever, and wouldn’t be for several books, but she’s a fighter and she refused to give up. Her mom was missing, her world was in chaos and she was in danger and there was very little she could do about it, but she didn’t give up and she didn’t even consider giving up. She just kept fighting and trying to protect the people that were important to her.

The whole Shadowhunter thing is pretty cool too. Apparently they’re the Nephilim, the offspring of humans and angels, a thing that I first heard of in an X- Files episode years and years ago. (You can’t say my nerd pedigree isn’t spotless, heh- heh.) There’s also something about Seraphim blades and stuff that I’m honestly a bit fuzzy on because they have to, like, name the Seraphim blade before they can use and that’s never really explained. Does each name confer a certain power on each blade? Are they power levels? Why? How? It’s never explained, and I would really like an explanation. But other than that, I quite liked the world she made. It seems pretty realistic and well- crafted.

The weird thing about these books, among the other thing that I still haven’t mentioned, is that there’s this guy, the bad guy, Valentine, which is a stupid ass name for a bad guy, everything else aside (why name you’re villian after the holiday for love?), and he is basically Voldemort. Seriously, before anyone who’s read these books argues with me, think about it- he’s all about how his hidden kind of human is the best, mundanes/ muggles are terrible, and those with power are the very best. There’s even this thing he says about how the Downworlders, vampires, werewolves and warlocks, aren’t as good as the Shadowhunters because they’re tainted, have dirty blood, mudbloods if you will. It’s crazytown. Did she realize she was doing it when she did it? But that’s not even the weirdest part. The weirdest part is that all of the adults in the book are ex- members of his little gang of not- Deatheaters, called the Circle. And pretty much all of the main characters are the children of ex- Circle members. Not only that, but- spoilers- Clary is the biological daughter of Valentine, not- Voldemort himself. Can you imagine if that had popped up in Harry Potter? It certainly would have livened things up a bit, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, then there’s Jace, the love interest, and he is bad- freaking- ass. Like, seriously, he is a badass. He is an ass- kicker of the first order, great warrior, great demon hunter. Not only that, but the boy is really funny. These are character traits that I really look for in a fictional man. You can’t lose with a funny ass- kicker. Especially when you have one that is so clearly gone over the heroine. It’s really, really sweet. I loved their romance and just watching those two. They are very, very cute together and for once I wasn’t too irritated by the obvious setting up of a love triangle/ forbidden love thing, mostly because of how she did it, which was… weird. And not in a good way, weird. Yeah, this is the thing I was going to get to, spoilers by the way, see the thing is, is that at the end of the book, there’s this big confrontation with Valentine and he tells Clary and Jace, after they have spent the entire book falling in love with each other, that they are brother and sister. That Clary’s older brother did not in fact die all those years ago, like Clary’s mother thought, right before her mother left Valentine forever, barely two months pregnant with Clary. That her brother had survived the fire and that they, Clary and Jace, are in fact, full blooded brother and sister. So, yeah. She went to a weird place. Now, I want it fully understood, that it is not in fact true. Sorry, spoilers. I mean, I knew that ahead of time, because I picked up the first book after browsing through a display of all the ones that have come out already, including the new one that talks about Jace and Clary’s brother Sebastian, so I knew it wasn’t true, that it was all a horrible lie from her horrible father, but still. Yech. Why would she go there? Seriously. Wha- why? I mean, I get the point. Beyond eventually introducing her real brother later on and it also proves what a dick her father is, because he could see they loved each other, he even commented on it, there’s the whole “doomed romance” thing, which is like half the point of the book I think. And this way you don’t have to question either one’s character or strength, or the strength of their love, but still. Couldn’t she have found a less… icky way? The whole thing is weird. But again, it’s all a horrible lie from her dick of a father. So, there’s that.

Anyway, bizarre storytelling choice aside, and how they’ll spin that in the movie I have no freaking clue, it was a really, really good book. I seriously did tear my way through the entire series in no time flat. It was even one of those that, if I had to walk away I spent the entire time thinking about it. One of those where you’re like “You don’t understand! There’s this book!” anytime someone wants to talk to you. It’s one of those. So, really, I can’t recommend it enough and I will totally be in line to see it opening day when the movie finally comes out.

P.S. I figured out how to embed videos! Finally! Yay!

Terry Pratchett Quote

Okay, so if you’ve read my previous post you’ll know that I mentioned a Terry Pratchett idea that is mentioned several times in his books and can be boiled down simply to- “Be yourself. As hard as you can.” Well, I decided I might as well be thorough and tracked one down. It’s a bit lengthy, but I like it and I feel like it says pretty much everything that needs to be said. It’s from Good Omens, which was cowritten by him and Neil Gaiman.

“Then something very strange happened to (Mary)… She discovered, under layers of silliness and eagerness to please, Mary Hodges. She found it quite easy to interpret builders’ estimates and do VAT calculations. She’d got some books from the library, and found finance to be both interesting and uncomplicated. She’d stopped reading the kind of women’s magazine that talks about romance and knitting and started reading the kind of women’s magazine that talked about orgasms, but apart from making a mental note to have one if ever the occasion presented itself she dismissed them as only romance and knitting in a new form. So she’d started reading the kind of magazine that talked about mergers.

After much thought, she’d bought a small home computer from an amused and condescending young dealer in Norton. After a crowded weekend, she took it back. Not, as he thought when she walked back into the shop, to have a plug put on it, but because it didn’t have a 387 co-processor. That bit he understood- he was a dealer, after all,  and could understand quite long words- but after that the conversation rapidly went downhill from his point of view. Mary Hodges produced yet more magazines. most of them had the term “PC” somewhere in their title, and many of them had articles and reviews that she had circled carefully in red ink.

She read about New Women. She hadn’t ever realized that she was an Old Woman, but after some though she decided that titles like that were all one with the romance and the knitting and the orgasms, and the really important thing to be was yourself, just as hard as you could.”

So I’ve Been Thinking

Okay, so I’ve been thinking, as you might have noticed from the title, which I realize is always dangerous for me to do (ba dum bum), but bear with me here. First, I should mention that last semester I took this English class that was like intermediate level and it was introducing all these different ways of analyzing a text, which of course introduced all these different ideas and ways of looking at the world, which is amazingly hard to turn off. I find myself looking at things and thinking “Well, there’s exchange of women”, which isn’t as dirty as it sounds, or “And there’s Orientalization of foreign cultures.” (For the record, exchange of women is the idea that most of the way that men interact and culture itself is based on how men use women. And I’m not just talking about in the olden days, when they would basically sell a woman to cement a treaty, but even nowadays, when guys bond by going out “picking up chicks. Yeah!” And Orientalization of a culture is basically when a country, in this case the U.S. looks at another country or region, like the Middle East, and sees in it all the things it fears about itself, or feminizes it in the worst, most masogynistic way possible. Like, we’re strong and stoic, hardworking and loyal, and they are mysterious, emotional, irrational and untrustworthy. Note that I am not saying that that is what I think, I’m merely explaining the concept, whose originator I cannot remember at the moment but I will likely google later, since I sold back the book. Anyway, there it is, in case anyone at all cared.)
Anyway, moving along. Now, you mix that influx of new ideas with this thing I read and all of a sudden, I’m thinking about something that honestly kind of disturbs me. First, so that you will know what I’m talking about, here is the post in question. It’s from the Ilona Andrew’s blog, whom, if you will remember, I adore.
Gender in YA Books

http://www.ilona-andrews.com/blog/page/6
December 6, 2012 by Ilona ·
Brooke Lago ‏@wonderland449
@ilona_andrews A friend shared this article & as authors w/ strong heroines, I wondered what you would think of it?

The article in question is The Legacy of Katniss, or, Why We Should Stop ‘Protecting’ Manhood and Teach Boys to Embrace the Heroine.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-vail/young-adult-novels_b_2199812.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Brooke also tweeted:

@natasha_lh@justinemusk I shared the article w/ @LKHamilton and@ilona_andrews bc they are two of my fave authors who write strong heroines

I don’t appreciate being put on the spot, because if you ask me something like this, I will answer and that won’t earn me many friends.

This is a giant, giant can of multicolored worms, and I am on a deadline, so I will touch on it only briefly. First of all, saying “strong heroine” is like saying “a free gift.” It’s redundant. Being heroic, by definition, is possessing some strength, most of the time, strength of moral conviction that culminates in you placing yourself in a harm’s way to protect others. Firefighters are heroes. Soldiers are heroes. Heroes are people who have the moral strength to risk or sacrifice themselves for the good of others. It is a gender-neutral occupation.

Heroes can be weak in body, but never in spirit. Otherwise our story ends up being, “He was weak and selfish. The end.”

When we wrote Kate Daniels, I personally didn’t set out to write “a strong woman.” I set out to write a woman whose humanity endures despite her upbringing. With that in mind, let’s try to look at the different worms.

Men and Women Are Different. If a woman comes up to me and says, “I’m a feminist, and men and women are the same,” I will tune out whatever else she has to say, because she is the exact opposite of being a feminist. Being a feminist is understanding the differences between men and women and effectively demonstrating that while differences exist, they shouldn’t dictate unequal treatment.

Women, on average, are physically weaker. We have smaller size, lower bone mass, and less upper body strength. We can compensate for this by training, but we have to work harder than men at achieving the same level of strength. This is a fact.

Men, on average, have higher levels of testosterone. They have greater bone mass. They have greater muscle mass. Some people also attribute increased levels of aggression to testosterone, but I don’t believe a definitive link has been established. We do know that testosterone affects the risk taking level and women are generally more averse to risk. Actually, we didn’t need a study for this. We could just watch World’s Dumbest Daredevils or Most Shocking on TruTV. Ninety nine percent of these clips resulting in bodily harm feature men. Men do things like hit each other in the balls, because they think it’s funny. Can you picture a group of girls punching each other’s breasts and laughing? No, because it hurts.

“Hey, Jane, how about you take off your pants and we’ll stick this firecracker up your butt and light it on fire?”

“What are you, crazy?”

“Hey John, how about that firecracker?”

fireworks

I think we can agree physical differences between men and women exist. Some people link it to evolutionary adaptations. An early male had to take a lot of risk. Here is a sharpened stick. Go poke that mammoth with it. That’s a hell of a risk right there, but somebody had to bring home the mammoth. I’m not super sold on it. The truth is, we don’t quite know why testosterone makes men more reckless.

Society views men and women as different based on their physical differences. When I was a child, I read a nursery rhyme in a Russian book. I was probably seven or so, but it’s stuck in my head because it defined the world. It had a picture of a family on the beach, with muscular dad, a mom in a bikini and two kids. The rhyme said:

The sky is blue

The sea is blue

Dad is strong

Mom is pretty.

That’s the social gender gap in a nutshell. Men are supposed to be strong, women are supposed to be beautiful. Look at the commercials. Men get a “Gain muscle, don’t be a weakling” while women get “Lose weight and paint yourself pretty.” God help you, if you are male and not athletic or female and not beautiful.

The reason why the article affected me so deeply was because even at that age I knew I wasn’t primarily strong or pretty. I was smart. Where the heck do I fit into this family? We’ll come back to this in a minute.

As a society, we extend the physical differences onto how we treat children. In Western society, men are historically the dominant gender. If one analyses this in terms of class-based society structure (USSR education paying off), you can clearly see the dividing lines. The classist theory says that while all class lines are defended, reaching from lower class to higher class is viewed as a lesser wrong. For example, if a girl dresses as a boy, she is imitating men, she’s a tomboy, and it’s cute. If a boy dresses as a girl, it is unacceptable, freaky, and weird. The girl takes a step up, while the boy takes a step down. The dominant societal class must maintain power at all costs. Any downward movement is the surrender of that power.

Women dressed in male clothes are sexy. Men dressed in women clothing are drag queens. A comic featuring scantily clad female superheroes is not lesbian, it appeals to men. A comic featuring scantily clad men is “subtly homoerotic,” because the assumption is only the male audience matters. Women couldn’t possibly be interested in seeing scantily clad men.

scantily clad man

Men are the dominant class, so men are supposed to be providers. It’s a double-edged sword. We, as a society, place crushing burdens on our men and sometimes they fold under pressure and we end up with family annihilators.

Suppose you have a daughter, a sister, or a female friend and she brings her new boyfriend to meet you. You ask him what he plans to do for his living and he says, “I’m planning on finishing high school and then I really just want to be a father. I’d like to be a stay at home dad and putter around.”

OMG, he is some kind of deadbeat.

Suppose it’s a male friend and his girlfriend tells you she wants to be a mother and a homemaker. You may think it’s kind of lame, but most people will likely not think less of her for it. And if you attack her or criticize her on that choice, there will be people who will have a knee jerk reaction to defend her. ”Don’t you dare criticize her choice. Being stay-at-home mom is hard.” So is being a stay-at-home dad! If your daughter wants to be a stay-at-home mom and her boyfriend wants to be a stay-at-home dad, how are they going to feed themselves? Why is it the boy who automatically faces the burden of providing for the family? Is it because the girl is less capable? Is she weaker?

And this is the root of the problem. As long as we tell girls that low expectations are okay, there is no hope of a true equality. None. If my daughters ever date a girl, I expect her to tell me she wants to be a nurse, an astronaut, a teacher, something. I want her to be confident and to have aspirations. There will always be time to stay at home and be a mother, but I hope that at first she has dreams and ambitions. I want her to find something she loves to do and explore it. I want her to be a strong partner for my child.

Just to be clear, before I’m flooded with hate: staying with kids is a perfectly valid, viable choice. I’ve done it and I was a stay at home mom until the kids went to school full time. Our daycare would’ve cost more than what I would’ve earned. But it should be a choice each family makes for themselves and we, as a society, shouldn’t tell boys that they are less male because of it or make the girls feel guilty if they choose to have a career instead.

How does all this relate to YA books?

Remember how I said that smart didn’t fit into the nursery rhyme? It’s because smart is gender-neutral. Kind is also gender-neutral. Being a good friend. Being disciplined. Doing the right thing when it’s difficult, especially when it’s difficult. Having honor and integrity. Those are not the functions of our gender. Those are the functions of our humanity.

So if you want boys to read books with female YA protagonists, stop making getting the boy the point of the book.

But Hunger Games!

Yes. It was brilliant. My kids loved it. What else you’ve got?

By the way, look at the Hunger Games. Look at what happens in the Capital. Katniss is not presented as a warrior to the capital. They present her as a girl and they ask her if there is a special someone. To make her popular, they have to clean the viciousness off and make her more feminine. That’s when the crowd gets fired up – when they know there is a romance. Presence of a boy in her life gives Katniss value in their eyes. It is an exceptionally astute criticism of gender roles.

My girls read Lightning Thief and Harry Potter, not because the protagonists are men but because these books have adventure. They have danger, plot, turns and twists, they have conflict, and they deal with betrayal and love and coming into conflict with adult world.

But girls like to read about romance?

Great. And there are tons of YA books that are about romance and there should be. Some books are meant for a primarily female audience just as some books are aimed at a primarily male audience. But if you are trying to appeal to both, you must accept that women and men view romance from different angles. Boys and girls both fall in love and do desperate things. Romance is exciting and it should be in YA books, because first love is a part of adolescence. But if you want your YA books to have cross-gender appeal, make your books to be more than an exploration of being a girl in love. Make it an exploration of being a human being. You would get more girl readers that way anyway.

Okay, so we have that, which I’ve been meaning to repost anyway, as it’s brilliant, but it got me to thinking about something that I’ve noticed, which is that in tv or movies today, if there is a gay character, it’s always a man. Pretty much always. I mean, there are the exceptions like “The L Word” and whatnot, but those are on paid cable and seem to be kind of niche shows. But broad appeal shows, that are supposedly about the modern world, and embracing differences and whatnot? Always a gay guy. Modern Family, The New Normal, even ones that aren’t about embracing differences, just ridiculous people, like The B in Apartment 23? All gay guys. Not a lesbian among them. At first I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that, since I mean, what does that mean when you don’t have the vocabulary to even really think about it? But you add in what Ilona was saying there and all of a sudden it makes more sense. A male dominated society is trying to come to terms with gay men. It’s trying to assimilate the idea that it’s okay, which is fine. But someone is being left out, someone is being ignored and that is the lesbians. I’m worried that it’s because society, on some level, deems them useless. Because they are not men, and therefore inherently more useful, because of that class system Ilona was talking about, and they can’t be used to solidify male interactions, like in exchange of women, they are being ignored and perhaps shunted to the side. And that’s wrong. You can’t ignore an entire group of people just because they don’t want to have sex with you. I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong, but I honestly don’t see any big part that lesbians are playing in our culture or our cultural conversation about.. is gayness that right word? Queerness? Either one sounds bad. Well, you know what I mean. Because, I mean, that is what tv, books and movies are. They are a conversation we are having with ourselves about who we are, who we were and who we intend to be. It’s how we accept new ideas and let go of old ones. It’s how we come to terms with events, national tragedies and changing times, and lesbians are being left out of that. Drag queens get more air than they do, because, I can only assume, they are male. It’s disturbing, and if it’s for the reasons I’m coming to think, then it’s not right. I realize that this whole thing was kind of off topic for me, but, as I said, I’ve been thinking about this. Let me know if you think I’m wrong or not.

The “Hunter Kiss” series by Marjorie M. Liu

the mortal bone

I have recently added Marjorie M. Liu to my list of favorite authors. I edged around her for years, noting her books in the store, occasionally picking one up but never reading one. They just seemed… not uninteresting but maybe the sort of thing that I wouldn’t really get into. It just didn’t really seem like my kind of thing. But, one day I decided, what the hell? What can it hurt to try? And, obviously, I have not regretted that decision. It also helped that I had read a short story of hers in an anthology, which if you’ll remember one of my earliest posts, is a great way to discover new authors. It’s also a great way to lose valuable brain cells and six or so dollars of your hard earned money, but you roll the dice. Anyway, so I tried Liu out and, amazingly, actually picked up her first book, purely by accident. What are the odds? But that’s not the focus of this, because that’s part of a different series. Here I am talking about her Hunter Kiss series, which starts with a short story and thus far has four books in it. It’s really, really cool. I think I know where she’s going with it, but I cannot imagine how she’ll manage it and that’s always a plus in a series. If you see every twist and turn coming a mile away, what’s the point? Where’s the fun? Where’s the joy, the experience of seeing it all through the character’s eyes as it happens?

Okay, so- Hunter Kiss. Let’s start with this- the world as we know it, is not really the world.  A lot of books start that way and it’s a pretty classic way to start. The world we know is not all there is to know and the author draws back the curtain to include us in this special new view of reality. So far, nothing new in that. And when this curtain is drawn back, it is revealed that demons are real. Also, so far nothing new. Things as far reaching as Buffy the Vampire Slayer have used that. But this one is a bit different, and I’ll tell you why. The person, the one person capable of defending us from the demon hordes is Maxine Kiss, the last Hunter, the last Warden of a dying prison. That prison is here, that prison is Earth. It turns out, humans are so vulnerable to demons, so deeply incapable of defending themselves against them, that our world was turned into a prison just to protect us. And beyond the boundary of our dimension, our world, there are rings of other prisons, holding the demons, with the most harmless closest to us. The “most harmless” being the ones who only possess us, force us to do terrible things and feed off of our pain, just to give you a sense of perspective here. Not that this series is one of those that lovingly dwells on the horror, like some do. Mostly it focuses on Maxine as she tries to protect our world, us, from these creatures as the cracks in the prison walls get larger and start to come crumbling down. She comes from a ten- thousand year old line of hunters, blood bound to five demons who help them, protect them, and fight for them. During the day, these demons live on her skin as tattoos, making her virtually immortal. Like, literally, immortal. You could drop an atomic bomb on her head, bury her alive, set her on fire, push her in front of a bus, and nothing would happen. These are not examples I pulled out of thin air, btw, these are all things that have either happened to her or to women in her bloodline. And when night falls, the demons are free and fight for her. It’s an apocalyptic story, obviously, but it’s also a story of heroics and sacrifice, as well as a love story because obviously she has a love interest and he is also very, very cool and totally worthy to stand by her side.

I do wish that Liu had more of a knack for making things seem epic, but I get that that is a rare gift, I’ve really only read a few authors who could truly pull that off, so I’m trying not to dwell on it too much although it would add so much to the story if she could get just a little of that. As it is, it feels very intimate, obviously, and there’s the sense of one small person against overwhelming odds and you do wonder how she’ll do it, since Maxine is not the bloodthirsty warrior type, and you do truly love all the characters. I just wish that it had more of that epic struggle, grand scale thing going, where you’re reading it going “Holy crap, this is unbelievable” and it just takes your breath away. That said, I still really love this series, and totally recommend it to any and all who are into those kinds of books. I promise, there is no Mary- Sue-ing, a la Laurell K. Hamilton for whom there is just no excuse. Ahem, unless you like Laurell K. Hamilton, in which case I said nothing.

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“The Bourne Legacy”

I have deep and abiding love for this series. I saw the first one when it came out in theatres the first week it came out, cuz it looked awesome, and was just blown away. Just completely blown away. I left it and didn’t say anything to my friend for a full three minutes before saying “I had no idea you could do that with a pen.” So I was nervous about the new movie. I mean, I get that Matt Damon can only do so many of these movies, they’re very physical and he’s in his, what 40s? Also, for the most part, Jason’s part of this story is over. He might need a small part later on, but mostly, his part is done. So I got why they were moving on to another character, especially since there’s so much more story to tell, but I was nervous. I mean, a lot of perfectly good series, both book and movie, have been ruined by this sort of thing. But, when I saw it, I was actually very pleasantly surprised. Especially since pretty much everything I’d read online was complaining endlessly about it. I don’t see why. I mean, okay, so yes, the first hour is kind of slow and you do find yourself going “Geez, we’re still in Alaska? Really?” But they’re building a story here, you have to be patient. Especially since the first part of the story is taking place concurrently with “The Bourne Ultimatum”. But that’s the cool part! It’s like they’re taking you by the shoulders and going, “Okay, yes, all of that has been happening over there, but if you’ll look over here, you’ll see all of this.” Which I thought was really, really awesome and a great way to lead into this part of the story and introduce us to our new guy, Aaron Cross. Who, btw, is really cool, fully as capable as Jason, and appears to actually have a sense of humor. He’s also played by Jeremy Renner, who I now officially love. He’s an incredibly likeable actor and and a really good actor period. He does a great job. Playing, I can’t say opposite so let’s say beside, him is another of my favorite actor’s, Rachel Weisz, whom I’ve loved since “The Mummy”. She’s a really great, smart actress and pretty much always plays great, smart characters and this time was no different. Her character, Marta, is very cool and she actually saves Aaron at least twice. She isn’t just a damsel. I really, really hope that they don’t kill her off like they did Marie.
I won’t give anything else away, since I want everyone to go see so that it makes lots of money and they keep making these movies, just rest assured that I tend to be kind of picky and I’ve seen it twice.

The Bourne Legacy (Two-Disc Combo Pack: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet)