Saturday, September 29, 2012

tomorrow in television

Tomorrow is a crazy packed evening for television. Once Upon a Time has its much-anticipated second season premiere!



Now, I still haven't blogged about the last four episodes of season one (BAD RUTH!), so bear with me...one of my blogging goals for the next week is to get current with that show.

Tomorrow also sees the premiere of Call the Midwife on PBS. This show received fabulous reviews when it aired in the UK and I'm super excited about its debut here!


Watch Call the Midwife - Preview on PBS. See more from Call the Midwife.

Following the premiere of Call the Midwife, Masterpiece is airing an encore marathon of last year's Upstairs Downstairs, season one in advance of the season two premiere next week (check local listings to confirm airings). You can check out my reviews of this thoroughly enjoyable series here: "The Fledging," "The Ladybird," and "The Cuckoo."

Grimm 2.5: "The Good Shepherd"



Grimm finally returned after a short hiatus last night with a brand-new episode, and it was a doozy! Seriously, I didn't think "Quill" could be topped, but it seems like this show is intent on proving that there is no limit to its awesomeness this season. :) The episode opens with Nick (David Giuntoli) meeting Bud (Danny Bruno), the show's resident Eisbiber refrigerator repairman and a Grimm's unlikeliest ally. Bud is understandably uneasy that he nearly let slip Nick's "Grimm" status to Juliette. Nick takes the slip fairly well -- he's distracted by the feeling that someone is watching him. It's the Nucklavee (Jessen Noviello), the horselike-Wesen Renard received a warning phone call about but until this point has been unable to track down. I had a thought at this scene -- could Nick's Grimm "senses" have been warning him of potential danger? I keep thinking that there has to be more to being a Grimm than "just" the ability to see Wesen transformations and fighting skills.

Meanwhile, across town an accountant named Norm is working late at his job, a mulch plant. After he finishes entering data in his laptop, he leaves for his car where he encounters something that terrifies him into transforming into his Wesen self, a Seelengut or sheep-like creature (I actually thought these guys were kinda cute). Norm is knocked out , strong up by one leg from a back hoe, and dropped in a friggin' WOOD CHIPPER. This murderer clearly means business. Also, how random is death-by-wood chipper?? Not to mention gross.

The next day a Reverend Calvin (Jonathan Scarfe) shows up at the precinct to report the theft of all of his church's money -- transfers made online that his bank traced to a laptop owned by poor Norm. Calvin is seriously every bad television preacher caricature rolled into one package, from his hair to his suits to the way he reports the theft to Nick and Hank (Russell Hornsby). Norm is missing, which of course makes him suspect number one -- at least until Nick and Hank talk to his boss at the mulch plant and, conveniently enough, poor Norm's remains are discovered in the chipper during their visit. (Side note: supposedly Norm's metal hip stopped the chipper from crushing him. Wouldn't a machine of that size have been able to crush a little ol' human hip, no matter what it was made of? Just thinking out loud here...) Of course Norm's body casts the case in a different light, and in doing some research Nick and Hank discover that the Reverend Calvin's previous church also had an accountant go missing...a disturbing precedent to say the least.

With Renard's blessing Nick and Hank head to Calvin's church to share the news of Norm's murder and the fact that their missing money is now wrapped up in a homicide investigation. And this is where things get interesting -- if the opening quote to this episode wasn't a big enough clue, Nick and Hank discover that the good reverend is a Blutbad shepherding a flock made up entirely of SHEEP. The episode opens with the quote "Dressed in the skin, the Wolf strolled into the pasture with the Sheep. Soon a little Lamb was following him about and quickly led away to slaughter." It is a nice touch, having an episode involving a Wesen church take its cue quite literally from the famous "beware of wolves in sheep's clothing" idiom. The only question at this point is, given this show's propensity for turning traditional stories on its head is the reverend the wolf of legend, or a true believer, a reformed Blutbad with extraordinary bad luck in accountants?

This question sends Hank and Nick to Monroe's house for information. Now, I'm not sure how much time is supposed to have passed since Hank was "inducted" into the Wesen world, but if this episode is any indication he's coping extraordinarily well. Hilariously so, as he repeated just STARES at Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), hoping to see him transform (which just creeps Monroe out). *wink* The whole idea of a Blutbad associating with Seelengut strikes Monroe as a bit preposterous, but when Hank and Nick suggest he goes undercover at the church, in a strictly off the books investigation, he is THRILLED (the "mano-a-mano" comment cracked me up!). I love the idea of Hank, Nick, and Monroe working together as some sort of crime fighting trio. :)

When Monroe shows up at the church, giving his best performance as a conflicted Blutbad (probably not that far from the truth of his past), he completely freaks out the entire congregation (I'm with Monroe, the herd mentality is a bit freaky lol!). Calvin offers Monroe a spare bed at the church which Monroe accepts. From his room he sees Calvin kissing his assistant, Megan (Kristina Anapau), which leads to a hilarious conversation when he calls Nick to report in and launches into an explanation about how he's not prejudiced, but a Blutbad dating a Seelengut is too twisty for him to comprehend.




At this point I want to back-pedal a bit and discuss Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) and Nick. This episode sees them confront the issue her memory loss has been causing, and the uneasy dance their lives have become, of trying to give her time to recover while at the same time continuing to live their lives, which are in danger of becoming increasingly separate. The latter issue comes into play when earlier in the episode, Nick arrives home to an empty house and discovers that Juliette has gone out with friends for drinks without leaving word. (Given Nick's life I can't say I blame him for being worried.) When one of her friends make a comment to the affect of not understanding why Juliette refused Nick's proposal, she's understandably shocked -- but it gets her to thinking. This leads to an adorable conversation with Nick later in their kitchen where there is much cute awkwardness and they both agree that neither wants to call it quits on what they had by moving out. When Juliette shyly suggest that Nick might join her for dinner, Nick's bemused smile just KILLED me...they are so adorable together. And I love how this episode illustrated their chemistry even in the midst of Juliette's amnesia. (If the preview for the next episode didn't reveal that Juliette apparently remembers Nick, I would love to see them try to rebuild their relationship from this point on -- there is something undeniably romantic about the idea of watching Juliette fall in love with Nick all over again.)


I also want to touch on the Nucklavee's presence in Portland. The horse assassin tails Nick to Aunt Marie's trailer, where he's been updating the Grimm notebooks with his own sketches. I just have to say, something about seeing Nick add to the record is just awesome. It makes you realize just how far he's come -- he's no longer a reluctant Grimm, he's actively participating in learning, researching, and adding to his family's records. Also, seeing as an assassin trailed you to the trailer, do we think it MIGHT BE TIME TO MOVE IT??? That park wasn't secure to begin with, yeesh. :P Anyways, to make a long story short, the horse guy attacks Nick, and I thought it was pretty cool to see that the Wesen version of the horse actually had hooves, and swung his "arms" and kicked his legs much like an actual horse would. Nicely done, special effects people. :) So after beating the horse guy off with a giant hammer, Nick discovers a sketch of Marie's key on his person. I can't wait until the show gets back to THAT. Also, what is this, like the fourth or fifth Wesen whose body Nick has dumped somewhere (again, talk about coming a long way as a Grimm, HA!!).

Back to the current investigation. :) Nick and Hank discover that Calvin's assistant, Megan, was the wife of the missing accountant at the pastor's previous church. They bring her in for questioning and she seems the innocent, potential victim -- even freaking out when she realizes Nick is a Grimm, leaving Hank in the interesting position of reassuring her that his partner is a dedicated cop. But Megan is in on the plot to steal the money -- she wants to leave Portland immediately, but Calvin insists that Monroe is the perfect scapegoat for Norman's murder, and once the police investigate the (apparently) homeless Blutbad, they'll be  in the clear. LITTLE DO YOU KNOW, CALVIN, NO ONE MESSES WITH MONROE. :P

Megan agrees to Calvin's plot until she discovers that he's impregnated another woman in the congregation and then she's just MAD. A woman scorned and all that. (Side note: would the kid be a blutbad or a sheep? can you even HAVE a wolf/sheep hybrid?) All right then -- so just when Calvin thinks he's setting Monroe up to take the fall for Norm's death (and planning to kill him with a friggin' letter opener in the process), Megan tells her fellow congregants that their pastor has been pulling the proverbial wool over all their eyes (sorry, I couldn't resist), conveniently leaving out her complicity in his crimes. They interrupt Calvin's attack on Monroe, and the sheep go all lemming-like and attack him en masse (we've seen a lot on this show, but I have to say death by sheep ranks up there as the most surprising, ha!!). The "herd" then turns on Monroe, which leads to a rather humorous chase through the church with Monroe getting increasingly stressed (he's so cute when he's stressed!), only to be rescued by the timely arrival of Nick and Hank.

Explaining that 25 members of the congregation have taken the blame for Calvin's death to Renard (Sasha Roiz) without explaining their herd mentality is probably one of the funniest case wrap-ups that's ever been featured on this show. Renard does bemused so well. *wink* Speaking of my favorite police captain, earlier in the episode he has a flashback to the moment he kissed Juliette -- and yes, I squealed. As I'd hoped, he's still dealing with the effects of the pure heart potion that he had to drink in order to awaken Juliette from her coma -- now, when will they come face-to-face? I'm thinking there HAS to be some reaction...and that is something I'm dying to see!! This show is SO strong this season...what did you think of this week's installment?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Once Upon a Time Season 2 Cast Photos

Brand-new cast photos were released in advance of Once Upon a Time's second season (debuting this Sunday, 9/30/12), and they are stunning! I love the "twist" of having each of the main characters wearing their fairy tale garb in Storybrooke. :)

Review: Heartless by Gail Carriger


Heartless (Parasol Protectorate #4)
By: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: B0047Y0EZQ

About the book:

Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband's past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux's latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf's clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama's second best closet?


Review:

Roughly six months have passed since Alexia's "disagreement" with her husband, Conall, over their forthcoming child's paternity saw her decamp to the continent, encounter dangerous Templars hoping to control her preternatural ability, and comes ever-closer to understanding her past and what the future holds for the impossible child she carries within her. While the series' preceding volume, Blameless, faltered a bit due to Alexia's lengthy separation from Conall, with the Maccons reconciled Heartless is a fine return to form for Carriger's delightfully quirky realization of Victorian London and its supernatural (and soulless) denizens. With the birth of her child a month away and the impact of a human, albeit preternatural, mother and an immortal werewolf father still uncertain, Alexia learns that in order to guarantee her child's safety she must do the unthinkable and give them up for adoption before they are even born. It is commonly held that Alexia will give birth to a soul-stealer/skin-stalker -- one who can absorb and discard supernatural abilities at will. The Maccons and the lives of their pack are thrown into turmoil preparing for the birth, but an even more pressing matter intrudes -- a ghost, near-poltergeist state, who arrives with the news that there is a plot afoot to assassinate the queen. Ever-practical and never one to let a little thing like eight months' pregnancy stop her, Alexia sets out to uncover the threat and in the process is thrust into a web of conflicting loyalties and painful history. Some secrets are perhaps best kept hidden...

Heartless is perhaps my favorite novel in the Parasol Protectorate series to date, and that is saying something since I've essentially inhaled nothing but this series since I first discovered Soulless. This series is not without its share of issues (stylistically or content-wise), but those are overcome by the spirit of sheer fun Carriger infuses in every aspect of her world-building and her characters. Alexia's adventures are as over-the-top and decadent as Lord Akeldama's best waistcoat, but Carriger's irrepressible sense of humor and genuine affection for even the most light-weight dandy that peoples this world is hard to resist. As such, Heartless is one of the strongest novels in the series, balancing Carriger's trademark humor and sarcasm with just the right amount of peril and fascinating revelations about the history of beloved characters.

Now that all is right in Alexia and Conall's relationship (meaning they are back to their loveably quarrelsome, affectionate selves), Carriger explores the genuine affection the pair feels for each other, the warmth, humor, and -- dare I say it? -- maturity that has come to define their relationship as they've survived everything from constant death threats to trust issues. I loved seeing just how much Conall adores his wife (he has a lot to make up for, considering book #3!), and reciprocally just how much the pragmatic Alexia returns his affection. And when the long-awaited "infant inconvenience" finally debuts? The twist concerning her identity and how that promises to impact Alexia and Conall's lives is, quite simply TO DIE FOR. I have yet to read the fifth and final book in this series, but given that revelation I'm eagerly anticipating Carriger's next Parasol Protectorate series.

Secondary characters who were fun and charming in the first book become stars in their own right here. The enigmatic Woolsey Beta, Professor Lyall, has long been a favorite of mine, and while his buttoned-up exterior apparently masks some questionable predilections, I was blown away by the revelations into his past here. Simply put, he broke my heart, and the way in which his past ties into Alexia's was a thoroughly surprising twist that added layers angst to his character and unexpectedly threatens the future of the pack. I also love Biffy, Akeldama's erstwhile drone and one-time favorite, and the fallout from his shocking induction into the Woolsey Pack is wrenching to witness. But Biffy's turmoil unexpectedly brings out the best in Conall, and I loved how his marriage to Alexia has given him fresh empathy as an Alpha (ironic since, as a soulless, Alexia has issues emoting!).

With Heartless, Carriger is poised to conclude the Parasol Protectorate series (watch for the scene where Ivy is "inducted," it's priceless!) on an extraordinarily strong note. Replete from start to finish with her trademark wit and humor, fast-pacing, and outrageously compelling and likable characters, Alexia's fourth volume of adventures hits a series high. Thank goodness I don't have to wait for the release of book five! :)

Primeval: New World

I completely forgot this was happening...the Primeval spin-off! Not sure if it is going to be airing in the US any time soon...and seeing as the original Primeval hasn't been renewed, maybe it would be more appropriate to call this a re-boot than a spin-off. Thoughts? At least Andrew Lee Potts makes an appearance for continuity's sake.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Grimm 2.4: "Quill"


This episode of Grimm is, without a doubt, one of the best things ever. I mean just look at that picture of Monroe and Rosalee? Could they BE any more adorable?? I really could just leave things at that, because Monroe wins this episode hands down, but let's discuss. :) The episode opens with the ominous words "Death stood behind him, and said, 'follow me, the hour of your departure from this world has come,'" from the Brothers Grimm tale "Death's Messengers." Rather than mirror the original tale (which involves a young man who saves Death from a beating, extracting a promise that Death would warn him when the time for his own passing has come), this episode uses the quote as an ominous harbinger of death coming to Portland -- and perhaps, given recent revelations about Renard's identity and activities, in more ways than one.

Taking the "death" theme and running with it, the episode opens with a Portland Parks & Recreation employee, innocently sitting at a stop light, getting violently rear-ended. When he exits his truck to investigate, he's horrified to discover that the other driver is covered in bloody, scab-like growths, doing his level best impression of a member of the walking dead. This illness -- ICK. It looked like some sort of disgusting fungus, no? Gilko (Kevin Schinick) is understandably horrified, which turns quickly to terror when the second driver attacks him, provoking Gilko to transform into his Wesen identity -- a Stangebar, essentially the Wesen equivalent of a porcupine. He manages to escape and call 911, while the second driver runs into an office building -- a call that conveniently goes straight to Portland PD's Wesen experts. *wink*

Now that Hank (Russell Hornsby) is aware of the existence of the Wesen world, he's eager for further info, and his relief at NOT being crazy seems to be transitioning into a barely-repressed freakout that Wesen exist at all. I'm thinking it is only a matter of time before Hank's lack of a filter when it comes to Nick's unique abilities gets both of them in trouble. Nick (David Giuntoli), to his credit, appears to possess a nearly-unlimited reservoir of patience when it comes to explaining the Grimm world to Hank -- and that really isn't all that surprising, when one considers that his personal life has been in such upheaval with Juliette's Nick-specific amnesia. When the pair arrive at the scene of the zombie-like attack, they are forced to shoot the clearly ill attacker, but not before Nick sees him transform into a Reinigen (rat-like creature). This illness and its effects are weird even by Nick's Grimm standards...


Cut to Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), who is looking adorably domestic sporting an apron while he oils a wooden picnic hamper. Seriously, could the man be any more the antithesis of a big bad wolf? *wink* He receives a surprise call from Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch), who is trying to figure out why she can remember everything about her life pre-coma except Nick. This is getting heartbreaking, people! Juliette even remembers Bud (Danny Bruno), the Eisbiber refrigerator repairman and his freakout, and invites him over for coffee. This leads to a hilariously awkward moment where he assumes Juliette knows that Nick is a Grimm, and has to cover for his slip of the tongue with a transparently bad explanation about how he just means "Nick is a good cop" (HA!!). More than ever I'm wondering about the ramifications of Adalind's spell, and if Juliette and Renard would have some sort of awkward moment should they encounter each other post-curse-breaking kiss. Thoughts?

Speaking of Renard, he receives a phone call from a relation (cousin? who cares, any excuse for Sasha Roiz to speak French!) who warns him that a Nucklavee, which is apparently a horse-like assassin, is heading to Portland. Interestingly enough, Renard and his relative are apparently operating WITHOUT the sanction of "the family." Given the recent revelations about Renard's hexenbiest blood, I'm thinking it is increasingly possible that Renard is attempting to set up a coup of some sort...the only question is, to what end?

But let's set aside issues like assassins and amnesiac girlfriends for a moment, and talk about Monroe and Rosalee (Bree Turner). Because they rocked this episode. Monroe asks Rosalee on a picnic, but only if she is into that sort of thing (seriously, COULD HE BE ANY MORE PERFECT??), and of course she says yes, and his eyes light up, and I nearly DIE OF HAPPINESS. So they head off on their little jaunt through the woods to the perfect picnic locale, and things couldn't be more idyllic -- I half expected them to start humming and skipping, hand-in-hand, through the trees at one point. Things are just starting to get REALLY interesting, as they both comment that they don't want to rush into a relationship, and then THEY ALMOST KISS! Only it is interrupted by Gilko who is in the throes of the Wesen illness which he apparently caught from his attacker. GAH!!!

Rosalee and Monroe return to the spice shop and all seems well -- extraordinarily well, by Monroe's standards, as the encounter seems to have made Rosalee rather *ahem* amorously inclined. :) I love how flustered he gets, and still manages to be a gentleman. Nick, of course, picks this moment to call with news from his research jaunt to Aunt Marie's trailer -- he thinks the Wesen disease is an outbreak of Fluvus Pestilentia, also known as the Yellow Plague, which handily explains why regular humans haven't been infected. Unfortunately for Monroe and Rosalee, the first symptom of infection is a spike in libido, followed by a rapid crash. There is an antidote, and fortunately Monroe is in the spice shop containing all the necessary ingredients -- but just when he needs Rosalee's expertise most, she collapses, and Monroe is left to SAVE HIS WOULD-BE LADY LOVE! I can hardly stand the DRAMA!!
















Here's the thing I love about Monroe (well, one of many things if I'm being honest here)...I love that he is such a gentleman, so considerate, basically the antithesis of what you'd expect from a blutbad. Given the werewolf thing alone you'd think he'd be all Alpha about a potential relationship, but he isn't -- he's more unsure of himself than Rosalee is. And that is ADORABLE. Gah! I MELT, I tell you! So while Monroe is freaking out that his wannabe girlfriend might be dying of the PLAGUE, Nick and Hank show up at the shop with the Parks & Rec employee, out of his head delirious and near death. Oh! I almost forgot...earlier in the episode when Monroe tells Nick about his conversation with Juliette, Nick drops the little bomb that Hank now knows all about the Wesen world. I LOVE how Monroe acts relatively calm about it (after a comment about having a "coming out" party) and then completely FREAKS after Nick leaves.

So, what's interesting about the race to save Rosalee scene is how it forces Hank and Monroe to work together (the former not yet being read in on the fact that Monroe is the very Wesen who started his whole freakout). Monroe (of course) rises to the occasion and mixes the potion, which they first test on Gilko -- and then, when it comes time to administer the dose to Rosalee, his hands are shaking so badly Hank steps in. I thought that was super sweet. :) (Also, the moment when Nick brings Rosalee back into the shop after her escape, during which she attempted to knife him with a wicked-looking pair of scissors), how cute was Monroe freaking out thinking she was dead? I say cute because as a viewer I can rest in the comforting knowledge that there was no real danger of Nick going all Grimm where Rosalee is concerned. I just love seeing Monroe so flustered by his crush. :)

Monroe as Rosalee's knight in shining armor? Yeah this ep is one for the record books. *wink* Their final moments of this episode made me SO HAPPY, where she's all "did we...kiss?" and he's all "welll...but you were so sick" and she's all "I don't think it was just the PLAGUE TALKING." :) They are so cute!

Looking forward, Grimm returns with a brand-new episode this Friday! I can't wait to see what trouble this mysterious stranger -- whose pending arrival even seemed to rattle Renard just a bit! -- brings into Nick's life. Also of interest -- the news recently broke that Claire Coffee, who plays the ex-hexenbiest Adalind, has been promoted to series regular. I'm SO anxious to see what her pending return means for the show. She has a lot to deal with  what with the loss of her powers and her mother's death! Did I miss anything? :)

*Photos copyright Scott Green/NBC

Two Destinies by Elizabeth Musser



This week, the


is introducing


David C. Cook (September 1, 2012)

by



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Elizabeth Musser, author of acclaimed novels such as The Swan House, grew up in Georgia, but now lives in Lyon, France, where she and her husband serve as missionaries with International Teams. Look for Two Testaments, her sequel to Two Crosses, in stores now, and Two Destinies, the third book in the trilogy, set for release in Fall 2012.

A word from Elizabeth:

Recent exciting news is that, finally, the whole trilogy is going to be published in 2012. Many readers have written to me throughout the years to encourage me to keep pursuing getting Two Destinies into print. In a fun twist of fate (really the Lord's perfect timing), David C. Cook (who originally published Two Testaments) has offered me a contract for all three novels. The Secrets of the Cross Trilogy will be published in June 2012 (Two Crosses and Two Testaments) and in September, 2012, Two Destinies will be in the bookstores for the first time!

ABOUT THE BOOK


Now 1994, France faces unrest and rising poverty while neighbor Algeria is in the midst of a blood civil war. RislĂ©ne Namani, a French woman born to Algerian parents, converts to Christianity and falls in love with Eric Hoffmann, a Christian, committing the unpardonable sin in the eyes of her Muslim family. Eric must find a way to rescue her—from a forced marriage in Algeria, or even death.

A powerful, relevant tale of social struggle, heartache, cultural conflict, and faith put to the ultimate test.

If you would like to read the first chapter excerpt of Two Destinies, go HERE.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: Blameless by Gail Carriger


Blameless (Parasol Protectorate #3)
By: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: B003JTHYBW

About the book:

Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto.

Review:

The revelation that Alexia Maccon, a soulless, was pregnant transformed her life from one of newlywed bliss to heartbreak and a struggle for her very survival. Rejected by her husband and accused of infidelity -- for it has long been accepted as unalterable fact that an immortal cannot produce children -- Alexia returns to her mother's home to face societal and familial censure for her apparent indiscretion. But ever-practical even in the midst of heartbreak and emotional upheaval, Alexia determines to prove her faithfulness and clear her name -- though Conall would have to do an awful lot of grovelling before she'd consider taking him back. The key lies in discovering the truth about this impossible child she carries within her (or "infant inconvenience" as she takes to calling it), the child that shouldn't be, the one whose very existence threatens both their lives. For many among London's supernatural set view Alexia's pregnancy as a threat, one they'll go to any length to eliminate. Facing danger from every quarter (including homicidal mechanical ladybugs!) and bereft of the protection once offered by the Woolsey Pack, Alexia and a handful of trusted companions flee London for the continent and her father's old home of Templar-controlled Italy. But the Templars' attitude towards supernaturals could prove to be the greatest threat to Alexia's unborn child, requiring all of that formidable's smarts and parasol-wielding skills in order to survive.

Blameless is a marked change of pace for the Parasol Protectorate series, as Conall and Alexia spend a good ninety percent of the novel separated by large parts of the European continent. As such the spark and fire that made Soulless and Changeless such rollicking good reads is largely absent, replaced by an adventure with the pace and scope of an Indiana Jones film. And the results are decidedly mixed. This novel opens shortly after the heartbreaking finale of Changeless, when Alexia's impossible pregnancy is discovered and Conall subsequently accuses her of adultery, because established science has long held that supernaturals, who have forfeited their humanity for immortality, cannot procreate. Now, while it is absolutely APPALLING that Alexia is convicted without the benefit of a trial, I can understand Carriger's choice to temporarily separate the newlyweds -- after all, in her steampunk universe science, particularly to a soulless like Alexia, would be something akin to a god, infallible and in Alexia's case, damning. So perhaps I'm a bit more forgiving of Conall than I should be, since Carriger makes it so patently obvious that the earl is completely miserable without Alexia.

Chapters roughly alternate between London and Alexia's continental European travels. While I love Alexia's no-nonsense character and independent spirit -- in particular the delicious irony that although she is soulless, she is far from heartless as her ruptured marriage and pregnancy prove -- I found the travelogue chapters a bit of a slow-go when compared to the London-set action. The Maccons' separation gives Carriger an opportunity to really flesh out her supporting characters, and Alexia's best friend Ivy and the Woolsey Beta Professor Lyall fair particularly well. Newly-married to her struggling actor, Ivy has lost none of her joie de vivre and when Alexia is forced to decamp from London Ivy gets the opportunity to reveal some savvy spying skills lurking beneath her air-head demeanor. And Lyall -- he is by far my favorite secondary character, and I loved how his patience is thoroughly tested by Conall's heartbreak (the Alpha drinks ALL the formaldehyde containing the Professor's scientific experiments!), as he is left to keep the Pack in-line while attempting to prove Alexia's innocence (all in a bid to restore normalcy to Woolsey).

Despite the occasionally sluggish chapter due to the absence of sparks between Alexia and Conall, Blameless is a rollicking, two-pronged adventure that sees supernatural affairs reach a new crisis in London and abroad. The breach between Alexia and her recalcitrant husband, while a tad forced and far too long in duration and then too quickly resolved, gives Carriger an opportunity to flesh out her steampunk vision of Victorian England and the cast of colorful characters that people Alexia's world. Carriger's plotting is solid, her pacing (mostly) steady, and her addictive wit present throughout Blameless-- and the promise of far-reaching ramifications for the supernaturals thanks to Alexia's forthcoming child? Too delicious to resist!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Wallander concludes Sunday

Tomorrow Wallander concludes its third series on Masterpiece Mystery (reviews will be coming, someday, lol!). Here's a quick preview of the final episode, Before the Frost:



Has anyone been watching this series of Wallander? Is Kenneth Branagh as fabulous as ever? :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

shameless birthday self-promotion

This is too funny and awesome not to share. Thanks to my dear friend Kaye for this HILARIOUS Grimm-themed birthday card!


I love getting Sasha Roiz and David Giuntoli for my birthday...just sayin'! :)

And while we're talking birthdays, I learned today that I share mine with Renee from Black 'n Gold Girl's Book Spot! Drop by to wish her a happy birthday if you get the chance!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Hobbit - Trailer #2

The second official trailer for The Hobbit was released yesterday, and people it is a beauty:



Can. Not. WAIT.

Apparently the trailer was released with different endings, which have been collected in this video:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Review: Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters


Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody #1)
By: Elizabeth Peters
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 0-445-40651-8

About the book:

Amelia Peabody, that indomitable product of the Victorian age, embarks on her debut Egyptian adventure armed with unshakable self-confidence, a journal to record her thoughts, and, of course, a sturdy umbrella. On her way to Cairo, Amelia rescues young Evelyn Barton-Forbes, who has been abandoned by her scoundrel lover. Together the two women sail up the Nile to an archaeological site run by the Emerson brothers -- the irascible but dashing Radcliffe and the amiable Walter. Soon their little party is increased by one -- one mummy, that is, and singularly lively example of the species. Strange visitations, suspicious accidents, and a botched kidnapping convince Amelia that there is a plot afoot to harm Evelyn. Now Amelia finds herself up against an unknown enemy -- and perilous forces that threaten to make her first Egyptian trip also her last...

Review:

Amelia Peabody is anything but your typical Victorian-era woman. When she inherits her father's sizable estate, she determines to fulfill her life-long dream of traveling the world rather than settling for something more conventional -- like getting married. She travels to Egypt where she meets Evelyn, a young lady with more than her own share of baggage and secrets. Amelia -- purposeful, unflinchingly blunt, and and unfailingly loyal, joins forces with the quiet, shy Evelyn, and the two embark on a Nile tour. Along the way they join an archaeological expedition run by the Emerson brothers -- the gallant Walter and his irascible, surly older brother Radcliffe. When Radcliffe and Amelia meet, sparks fly, but soon sinister forces intrude on the dig site and their delightfully quarrelsome relationship. Evelyn is the target, and Amelia must join forces with Radcliffe or risk losing her dearest friend.

I first read Crocodile in the Sandbank four years ago, and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, one thing led to another and I never pursued subsequent volumes in the series. But since reading Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, featuring another Victorian-era heroine with a propensity for using her parasol as a weapon, I resolved to revisit Amelia's world. This book is SO much fun! It's as if Agatha Christie wrote a female Indiana Jones-style character, with a dash of the humor and spunk that characterizes the character of Evelyn (played by Rachel Weisz) from the films The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. My favorite Christie mysteries were always the ones set in Egypt, and since the number of those books are finite I'm thrilled to have this series to explore -- and I'm determined to progress past the initial volume thanks to this re-read!

Within the pages of Amelia's debut, Peters delivers a rich atmosphere and a veritable wealth of historical detail. Though the villain and resolution of the "Mystery" are a tad obvious, it didn't impact my overall enjoyment of the story since its real strength and draw lies in Amelia's prickly, blunt, forthright character. I absolutely adore watching her budding relationship with Radcliffe Emerson unfold as they butt heads over archaeological and investigative methods. I was struck even moreso on this second reading of the powerful spark to their romance -- the fact that neither Amelia nor Radcliffe possess the qualities normally found in the hero and heroine of a traditional romance novel make their love story, to my mind, all sweeter and entirely more memorable. I cannot wait to see where Amelia's insatiable thirst for adventure takes her next!

******

As mentioned above I originally read Crocodile on the Sandbank in September 2008 -- since that review never made it to this blog, and since I decided I simply HAD to re-read it, I've reworked and expanded my old review a bit...because why leave well enough alone when you can EDIT??? *wink*

Monday, September 17, 2012

a little Jeremy Renner humor...

This is what happens when you get together with two friends who love Jeremy Renner as much as you do...hilarity ensues:























(Context: The above was inspired by a viewing of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.)

Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund


This week, the
 
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
 
is introducing
 
Unending Devotion
 
Bethany House Publishers (September 1, 2012)
 
by
 
Jody Hedlund

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jody has written novels for the last 20 years (with a hiatus when her children were young). After many years of writing and honing her skills, she finally garnered national attention with her double final in the Genesis Contest, a fiction-writing contest for unpublished writers through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).

Her first published book, The Preacher’s Bride (2010 Bethany House Publishers), became a best seller and has won multiple awards.

Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, released in September of 2011, and her third book, Unending Devotion, is out now. She’s currently busy researching and writing another book!

Jody has been married for twenty years to her college sweetheart. Jody has five children ranging in ages from 15 to 6, with a set of twin daughters in the mix to make things more lively.

ABOUT THE BOOK

High-Stakes Drama Meets High-Tension Romance

In 1883 Michigan, Lily Young is on a mission to save her lost sister, or die trying. Heedless of the danger, her searches of logging camps lead her to Harrison and into the sights of Connell McCormick, a man doing his best to add to the hard-earned fortunes of his lumber baron father.

Posing during the day as a photographer's assistant, Lily can't understand why any God-fearing citizen would allow evil to persist and why men like Connell McCormick turn a blind eye to the crime rampant in the town. But Connell is boss-man of three of his father's lumber camps in the area, and like most of the other men, he's interested in clearing the pine and earning a profit. He figures as long as he's living an upright life, that's what matters.

Lily challenges everything he thought he knew, and together they work not only to save her sister but to put an end to the corruption that's dominated Harrison for so long.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Unending Devotion, go HERE.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Once Premiere Photos!

ABC has released a slew of promotional images for the second season premiere of Once Upon a Time (coming September 30th!). You can view all of the images via TVLine or my Once Pinterest board. Here are a few of my favorites:

Source: tvline.com via Ruth on Pinterest


Source: tvline.com via Ruth on Pinterest


Source: tvline.com via Ruth on Pinterest


Source: tvline.com via Ruth on Pinterest


Here is the episode summary:
ONCE UPON A TIME - In the premiere episode, "Broken," reality and myth begin to merge as the fairytale characters awaken from Evil Queen Regina's broken curse and remember who they were. But to their dismay, they aren't transported back to fairytale land. To make matters worse, Rumplestiltskin - aka Mr. Gold - in an effort to gain the upper hand in his power struggle with Regina, has introduced magic into the town. In fairytales magic has its place, but in our world it can have unfathomable consequences. Meanwhile, back in the fairytale land, Prince Phillip awakens his sleeping beauty, Aurora (Sarah Bolger, "The Tudors"), but discovers that he and his traveling companion, Mulan (Jamie Chung, "Sucker Punch," "The Hangover Part II"), will soon have to face a deadly foe, on the Season Premiere of "Once Upon a Time," SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 30 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/JACK ROWAND) JOSH DALLAS, GINNIFER GOODWIN, JARED GILMORE, JENNIFER MORRISON, DAVID ANDERS, LANA PARRILLA
First of all, YAY SLEEPING BEAUTY AND PRINCE PHILLIP!! Secondly...based on this set of photos, I am dying for some theories as to the fairy tale identity of Dr. Whale -- friend or foe? He's looking decidedly angry with Regina in some of these shots...

Here's the Season 2 poster:

Source: tvline.com via Ruth on Pinterest


And because one can never watch this clip too many times, here's the season trailer again:

best news ever

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review: Changeless by Gail Carriger


Changeless (Parasol Protectorate #2)
By: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: B0030I1XFK

About the book:

Alexia Tarabotti, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears - leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can.

She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.

Review:

Alexia Maccon, nee Tarabotti, has left the "scandal" of her bluestocking spinsterhood behind for scandal of a deliciously different sort. Her marriage to Conall Maccon, Earl of Woolsey, werewolf, and head of BUR (Bureau of Unnatural Registry), set the gossipping tongues of London's social scene aflame. And her new position as muhjah to Queen Victoria -- the preternatural or soulless seat on the queen's Shadow Council for supernatural affairs -- keeps her on the cutting edge of vampire-werewolf-human relations and policy. But a mere three months into her marriage, Conall abandons her for Scotland and his former pack's stomping grounds with nary a word of explanation, and Alexia determines to follow. Her husband may be supernatural, and she may be soulless, but this is simply not the way to make a marriage work. When news breaks that a literal plague of humanization is sweeping from London to Scotland, leaving supernaturals human and vulnerable, Alexia's curiousity is more than piqued -- as the only member of the Shadow Council immune to the "plague's" affects, she is tasked with uncovering its source. The stakes are high as Alexia wends her way to Scotland (via dirigible), coping with mysterious Frenchwomen, lovelorn best friends, recalcitrant werewolves, and unknown assassins. With the survival of the empire and her young marriage at stake, Alexia's considerable intellect and propensity for parasol-related weaponry face its greatest challenge yet -- the very survival of those supernaturals who are wired to distrust a soulless...

I thoroughly enjoyed Soulless, Carriger's introduction to Alexia and Conall's world, but oh my word I think its sequel is even better. Marriage hasn't dimmed Alexia and Conall's predisposition for arguing and teasing, in the best Darcy and Elizabeth tradition, and the sparks continue to fly post-nuptials. If anything, the twist of having Alexia adjust to her role of Alpha female for the Woolsey pack adds spice to the relationship, since certain wolfish habits -- like grooming and table manners -- are a constant source of trial when met with Alexia's very proper upbringing. I love Carriger's exploration of both Conall's and Alexia's pasts. Conall's history is particularly interesting since he has a good two centuries of life on Alexia, and Carriger takes full advantage of his trip to Scotland to explore his prickly past history with the Kingair pack and his long-estranged relations. For her part Alexia's position as an Alpha pack female and muhjah to the queen widens her circle of supernatural acquaintances, many of whom knew her long-dead (but apparently infamous and promiscuous) father. Carriger is clearly poised to take her time developing Alexia's antecedents and their impact on her position as one of England's few registered preternaturals, but the hints she drops in this installment of the saga are tantalizing, leaving me eager to see how Alexia's history and role in current supernatural affairs progress throughout subsequent volumes.

The delightful, albeit somewhat one-dimensional characters first introduced in Soulless make their encore and oft-times more successful appearances in the pages of this sequel. Alexia's best friend, Ivy of the horrendous hats, is if possible sillier than ever, but I thoroughly enjoyed her on-again, off-again romance with Conall's werewolf-in-training valet, Tunstell. Even better I loved the reappearance of the flamboyant rove vampire, Lord Akeldama, whose propensity for spying introduces the aethographic transmitter, a replacement for the "troublesome" telegraph, a highly convoluted piece of steampunk technology that figures significantly in Alexia's investigations. The humanization threat even makes unlikely allies of vampires and werewolves, and the cooperation between Akeldama's favorite drone, Biffy, and the Woolsey Beta, the deliciously enigmatic Professor Lyall, is absolutely hilarious.

Where the plot of its predecessor was meandering but nonetheless an enjoyable trip, its sequel is more focused, the plotline more linear and well-developed. There is still plenty of humor, hijinks, and romantic sparks, but Carriger's sophomore effort feels more focused and polished. Alexia is altogether more assertive and sure of herself (though her alleged "susceptibility" to Madame Lefoux felt forced and contrived), and given the killer cliffhanger at the end of this book those are qualities that will stand her in good stead. The cliffhanger -- gah! It BROKE MY HEART. While far from flawless this series is on a roll and I cannot wait to see where Carriger takes Alexia and Conall next. Imaginative world-building, clever, quirky characters and a ton of humor mark Changeless as a page-turning entry in a highly addictive series.

Bond times six...

This is so awesome. All six Bonds, AT THE SAME TIME?? Well edited, Sky Movies, well edited...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bomb Girls trailer

Has anyone seen the television series Bomb Girls? It premieres in the US tonight on Reelz Channel. Here's a trailer:


Bomb Girls

Given my fascination with this time period methinks it is a foregone conclusion that I give this series a try!

The Fairest Beauty trailer

Author Melanie Dickerson's third fairy tale retelling, based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, has a new promotional trailer and it is a beauty (no pun intended!). The Fairest Beauty releases this December:

Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: Muddy Boots and Silk Stockings by Julia Stoneham


By: Julia Stoneham
Publisher: Allison & Busby
ISBN: B0077F5V14

About the book:

England, 1943. The country is at war

With so many men away fighting, it is the women left behind who must keep the country going, and when Alice Todd is abandoned by her husband, she must find a means to provide for herself and her young son. She is offered the job of looking after the group of land girls at Lower Post Stone Farm and soon discovers they each have a story – and some have secrets they’d rather not reveal. The harsh times of war are tempered by the Saturday evening dances in the local hall, but as the hostilities continue, it is clear to Alice that there is more tragedy to follow closer to home.

Muddy Boots and Silk Stockings is the evocative and compelling story of the sacrifices made during wartime and the indomitable spirit of those left behind, from the author of the much-loved drama series The House of Eliot.

Review:

With her marriage disintegrating and the country deep in the throes of World War II, Alice Todd finds she must reinvent herself from the roles wife and mother to mother and breadwinner. In order to support both herself and her young son Edward-John, Alice applies to the Women's Land Army for the position of warden at Lower Post Stone Farm, overseeing a the hostel and its Land Girls, managing the meals and schedules and ensuring that the girls adhere to a code of conduct and behavior befitting their status as representatives of the Land Army. With the reluctant support of the enigmatic farmer owner, Roger Bayliss, and Rose, her prickly assitant, Alice dives into the work and discovers the life of a warden to a group of very different girls is by turns both exhausting and terrifying. But as as her tenure at the farm progresses, Alice and her "girls" become an unexpected and unorthodox family, who must band together in order to survive when the horrors of war find their way to Lower Post Stone Farm.

Oh goodness, where to start. I adore World War II history, and was made aware of and interested in the history of the "Land Girls" through the three-season BBC television series of the same name. While the television show took some hits for historical inaccuracies, on the whole it is a delicious period piece full of atmosphere, suspense, and compelling characters. After finishing the third series I decided to seek out any books on the subject of the Land Girls and their role in the war effort. This novel was my first discovery of fiction in this vein -- and if you're thinking about reading it, let me recommend you stick with the television series instead.

All of the pieces are in place for what could, and should, have been a compelling character piece featuring women exploring new avenues of employment and opportunity thanks to the war and the accompanying need for workers in previous male-only fields. And there are moments of character depth, moments that hint at the possibilities inherent in material of this ilk (but too often sadly unrealized by this novel): the sensitive Jewish painter Andreis, who fled Nazi persecution in his native Netherlands but couldn't start anew in England; the shy Hester, raised in a (overly) strict religious home, who blossoms under the friendship of the other Land Girls and finds romance with a G.I. from North Dakota; the fiery attraction between Georgina, an avowed pacifist, and Christopher, Roger's son and a pilot, who find themselves irrevocably changed by the war and each other's convictions.

But these flashes of promising characterization are lost in a veritable sea of awkward prose, run-on sentences, and stagnant plot development. For example, Stoneham has an unfortunate tendency to repeatedly describe the girls' scent -- instead of being atmospheric it just reads as awkward and off-puttiing. And then, starting around chapter three, every few pages (I read this on my Kindle) contains sentences anywhere from six to ten lines long (one shouldn't become winded when reading!). And sadly there is an over-abundance of "telling" instead of "showing" the action unfolding on the page -- a shame since this time period, and Stoneham's subject matter, are rife with dramatic possibilities. While this novel had potential, and I applaude and appreciate Stoneham's desire to explore a little-discussed aspect of homefront, 1940s-era history, this effort stands in need of stronger characterizations, dynamic plot development, and thorough editing.

Once Upon a Time Season 2 Promo!!!!!!!

What a way to start the week!!! :) Check out the first full length trailer for season two of Once Upon a Time -- complete with lots of Belle & Mr. Gold, Regina looking suitably wicked, and the first glimpses of Sleeping Beauty, Mulan, and Prince Phillip!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Grimm 2.3: "Bad Moon Rising"















This episode of Grimm offered a bit of a reprieve from the two-part season opener's intense OHMYGOSHNICK'SLIFEISFALLINGAPARTATTHESEAMS tone by focusing on Hank (Russell Hornsby) and his long-simmering, troubled reaction to the unexplained glimpse of the Wesen world that he received at the end of the show's first season. Hank has been a bit of an under-used character of late, in my opinion, which is a shame because while he isn't my favorite I do think he's extraordinarily likeable. So I have high hopes for his character arc from this point forward.

This storyline has only a very loose fairy-tale tie in. The episode opens with the quote "Then she began to weep bitterly, and said, ‘What can a poor girl like me do now?’" which is from the Brothers Grimm tale "The Old Woman in the Wood." If you read the Wikipedia summary of that story, it becomes abundantly clear that this script has NOTHING whatsoever to do with the quote's source material, instead opting to lift the relevant quote because of the script's "girl in peril" theme. This hour had very little to do with fairy tales, instead serving as a vehicle for exposing Hank to the full truth of the Wesen world. While I like how that ultimate purpose of the hour played out, I was a bit disappointed (and frankly disgusted) by the whole idea behind this week's investigation -- perhaps that is because in part, it didn't have better, stronger source material on which to rely? ANYWAYS...let's discuss. :)

Carly (Maddie Hasson from the short-lived Fox series The Finder), a high school student, and her father Jarold (Mark Pelligrino) are enjoying a quiet evening at home -- by all appearances, the very definition of average. But their home is being watched, as we see a shady character pull up outside who transforms into a Coyotl, which if appearances are any indication are this show's equivalent of thuggish, countrified hicks. *rollseyes* When Carly heads to her bedroom, she is horrified to discover two of the creatures within, intent on kidnapping her. (Say it with me: ICK!)

Meanwhile, Nick (David Giuntoli) is still quite understandably distraught over the fact that Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) remembers everything about her pre-coma life EXCEPT him -- she only knows him as the police officer who brought her to the hospital (ouch). Now, I totally get WHY Nick brings their laptop to the hospital, loaded with photos of Juliette and him in happier times, but I have to question the advisability of this in a real amnesia situation -- it seems that the emotional overload the photos could trigger, unsupervised, could be more detrimental than helpful. But this is television, what am I thinking? :P Irregardless, Juliette seems remarkably calm about the whole "I-can't-remember-my-boyfriend" thing -- perhaps, even though she doesn't know she's the victim of Adalind's spell, there's a part of her that can sense something is "off," something is blocking her memories of Nick which overwhelming evidence prove should be there. One of my favorite scenes in this episode is when Nick brings Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) to the hospital and both men are SHOCKED when Juliette warmly greets Monroe, and has no idea the two men have a history. The look on Monroe's face was priceless! One gets the impression he really does not like being caught in the middle of "couple problems," nevermind the cause. *wink*


Hank has become increasingly bothered by his monstrous visions and dreams, so much so that he's sought the help of a psychiatrist. He's SO on edge he scares his doctor -- it's clear that at this point he thinks he's teetering on the edge of madness. (Side note: I'm sort of hoping that his doctor makes a return appearance where it's revealed that she's a Wesen -- there was a "pause" in her manner when Hank let slip a comment about seeing people "change." Thoughts?) When he returns to the station he walks in on a meeting between Renard (Sasha Roiz) and Nick, who've mutually agreed that they need to investigate the missing Adalind as a possible suspect in her mother's recent murder (poor Addy...I can't decide if she'd rather be found by Nick or Renard! LOL!). In a conversation shortly following with Nick, Hank expresses his concerns about his ability to do his job -- and you can see that it is driving Nick UP THE WALL that he knows what's tormenting Hank, but he isn't free to discuss it.

Before Hank and Nick can talk further, Jarold arrives at the station -- it turns out that he and Hank are old school friends, and Carly is even Hank's goddaughter. Jarold is out of his mind with worry over his daughter's disappearance, and during the interview with Hank and Nick briefly morphs into a Coyotl -- and the pieces begin to fall into place as to why Carly was snatched to begin with. I LOVE THIS. The show hasn't really explored the idea that those "regular" humans within Nick's circle of friends must know Wesen -- and that being the case, how are those interactions handled? In that respect Jarold is perhaps the most grounded Wesen Nick has met to date -- first of all he has a sense of perspective, in that he doesn't let Nick's status as a Grimm freak him out more than the fact that his daughter is missing. It also becomes clear really quickly that unlike his fellow Coyotls, Jarold has A FRIGGIN' MORAL COMPASS -- disgusted with his pack's lifestyle he and his wife made the decision years earlier to flout tradition and raise their family away from the pack's pernicious influence (good call!). As the investigation progresses, Jarold gradually recognizes the possibility that his extended family members could be out for revenge, and it just so happens SOME OF THEM ARE IN PORTLAND -- though he conveniently glosses over the years-long "blood feud" aspect of pack living for Hank's benefit. :P

Now, I'm really not going to go into the mechanics of the reason Carly was abducted, because honestly that whole aspect of the storyline was sensationalistic even by this show's standards. *rollseyes* And it did absolutely nothing for me except, well, make me feel absolutely revolted. That said, I did appreciate that the show kept Carly's identity as a Coyotl a secret until the end of the episode -- she doesn't transform or seem anything other than horrified by her kidnappers, and that unknown factor added extra tension to those scenes (because let's face it, the idea of the Coyotl "fertility matrix" is horrible enough FOR A COYOTL, but if you weren't one I have to think the ritualistic aspect the whole mess would, perhaps, be even more terrifying). (Side note: Monroe's little "facts of life" speech to Nick in the trailer during their research meeting was HILARIOUS. Also, love the fact that Monroe was "unavailable" because of the whole new moon thing... *wink*)















So, one thing leads to another and Nick and Hank, along with Jarold, follow their investigation into Jarold's shady relatives to an old farm, which ends up in a stand-off/fight that simultaneously managed to remind me of Deliverance and The Twilight Zone. :P All that aside, the best part of this sequence is how the truth of the Wesen world and Nick's role in it are finally revealed to Hank. After rescuing Carly from where her nasty relatives had stashed her IN A WELL, she recognizes Nick as a Grimm and morphs into a Coyotl, which COMPLETELY freaks Hank out. Two elements are in play here, both of which I think were needed to make Hank's intiation into the Grimm world realistic and believable. 1) There's the undeniable creature sighting, only this time it's no random stranger or suspect, it's someone Hank has known for years -- a girl he'd watched grow up. There's a level of history and experience there that Hank has to take into consideration. 2) Nick, his trusted partner, steps in to prevent Hank from shooting Carly and by acknowledging that he can see her her Coyotl form, thus quelling Hank's fears that he's gone completely nuts.

I suspect that subsequent episodes will deal with Hank's newfound knowledge of Wesens in a more substantial manner -- obviously knowing these creatures are out there, but not being able to see them like Nick can, being limited to glimpses of when they choose to reveal themselves or lose control -- one would think that would foster a TON of paranoia. *wink* But for now, I loved the fact that Hank's ridiculously okay with everything because HE'S NOT CRAZY, and if he is, HE HAS COMPANY. So either option works for him at this point. :P

The resolution of the Coyotl stand-off is pretty satisfying as Hayden, the leader of the pack (played by John Pyper-Ferguson, whom I much prefer to watch as baddie Stanton Parish in the SyFy series Alphas) is apparently so full of himself he can't "sense" that Nick is a Grimm. This allows Nick and Hank to set a trap for the Coyotl thugs, and Hank, prepared for the transformation, doesn't blink as he drops Hayden with a well-executed punch. :) While the lack of a fairy tale tie-in to this week's storyline was rather disappointing, I liked this episode for how it brought Hank into Nick's world -- I thought the process was fairly believable all things considered. *wink* So while it's nice to see Nick's circle of Grimm-related allies widening to include Hank, that barely makes an impact balancing out the heartbreak of bringing Juliette home from the hospital, seeing her so visibly ill at ease in Nick's presence. *SOBS* Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on this episode! I'm going to do my best to catch up with a post on episode four (which was STELLAR) in the next few days...