BBC America’s Orphan Black

Warning: this post will contain spoilers from season 1 and the first two episodes of season 2 of Orphan Black.  Read at your own risk.

Season two of BBC America’s Orphan Black started back up last week and the first two episodes have not disappointed.

Where to Watch Orphan Black

Image taken from BBC America website

Orphan Black is about Sarah Manning who, after watching a woman who looks just like her jump into the path of a train (from season one), comes to find out she is a clone, and there are several people out there who look like her.  Sarah, forges an at first tenuous relationship with fellow clones Alison, the happy homemaker with a mild drinking problem, and Cosima, the brainy scientist whose been researching all the clones.  Then there’s Helena – the Ukrainian clone who is sadistic, a fundamentalist, seemingly crazy, and murderous.

Season one focused on the reveal of all the clones and the back stories of the characters.  Felix, also known as Fe is Sarah’s “brother” (I believe foster kids together), played a large part in helping Sarah and the clones become real friends. There was a lot of comments online about how Fe was a stereo-typical gay guy, but I’d have to disagree.  He’s very edgy and a bit on the kinky side, I think Modern Family has the much more stereo-typical gay guys (but I do enjoy that show as well).  There were two or three big reveals that played out in season one: Sarah is the only clone who is able to have children (Alison’s are adopted); Helena and Sarah are actually twin sisters (I guess that makes them clone twins? seems a bit redundant, ha!); and the Dyad Institute is actively tracking the clones and wants them all to sign an agreement to participate in the studies. And, oh yeah, Helena was shot and assumed dead.

Season two starts up right at the end of season one – Kira, Sarah’s daughter has been kidnapped and Sarah is desparate to find her.  Cosmia is getting sicker and still does not know why, and Helena makes a surprising comeback.  Although I wasn’t that shocked, she played such an integral part I can’t imagine how the show could continue without her.

The first season of this show was really good – so many revals of the clones and it kept you wondering how many more there were.  Sarah started out as a really unlikable person, but after getting to know her fellow clones, she became much more tolerable.  Her relationship with her daughter also helped to sway viewers on Sarah’s likability.

Tatiana Maslany just KILLS IT in this series.  Her portrayal of each clone is distinct and different.  This is most evident when she plays one clone pretending to be another – Sarah as Cosmia, Alison as Sarah, etc.  The supporting cast does a great job as well, especially when a clone is pretending to be a clone.  It almost makes me wonder if I’m hypnotized by Tatinan’a work and can’t really tell if there is a good story with this show.   Doesn’t really matter because I’m going to keep watching this show.  It’s enjoyable, full of good acting, and has a good pace.   This is why I love BBC America programming, they provide something different and they tend to do a good job at casting.

What are your thoughts on Orphan Black?

Dog Blood and Them Or Us – books 2 and 3 of the Hater Trilogy

20140413_163638Dog Blood and Them Or Us, the 2nd and 3rd books in the Hater trilogy were an interesting continuation and end to the series. Dog Blood seemed more like a filler book, while Them Or Us was slightly anti-climatic, but had a pleasing ending.

Dog Blood starts from the perspective of an Unchanged (those who did not morph into haters).  While I was initially thrown by this, I thought I would be an interesting way to show the difference between haters and unchanged.   Unfortunately the story didn’t progress quite in that fashion.  For most of the book, the story flips between an unchanged and Danny McCoyne, the protagonist hater from the first book.the-mad-reviewer-reading-challenge-button

McCoyne’s story has two main parts – the search for his daughter, who he knows is like him, and his struggle to survive as a hater when he doesn’t share quite the same passion for the relentless killings of his fellow haters.  While the unchanged story focuses on his struggle to not be killed by the haters and to do his part to get food for his family.   An eventual connection between McCoyne and the unchanged man provides the reason for the different perspectives, but Dog Blood lacked the quick pace and wittiness I enjoyed in the first book.  There is major fighting, war actually,  between the haters and the unchanged that ends in an extremely devastating manner for both sides and sets up the story for the final book. Overall I thought the 2nd book had more of a filler role than a book that helped to effectively move the story along.  Not the best 2nd book but not the worst either.

Them or Us starts with “the last English summer” and paints a bleak picture for both “races” (for lack of a better term).  The numbers of haters and unchanged being greatly reduced on both sides and living conditions have become almost impossible.

McCoyne seems depressed and is in bad shape.  He’s living in a town named Lowestoft and, after the fall of a few short-sighted hater leaders, is under the rule of a man named Hinchcliff.   Hinchcliff is a brutal, heartless man who cares only about those who prove useful to him.  McCoyne is part of the rabble that fight for scraps of food each day until his ability to “hold the hate” is brought to Hinchcliff’s attention.   Danny plays a reluctant role for the leader and manages to be considered a valuable person, much to his own dismay.  Much of the book deals with McCoyne’s clear unhappiness about the current state of his life and his environment around him.  He doesn’t see a purpose to the constant fighting and has feelings of guilt about the things he’s done and will have to do.  A chance meeting with a fellow “hold the hater” continues to make Danny question what is going on around him, as well as shows his internal struggle between helping people out and just walking away.

Them or Us comes down to a final confrontation between Danny and Hinchcliff.  It’s this final confrontation that provides a believable and pleasing ending to the series.  It also leaves the reader to wonder if this is how things will go for the human race if we can’t find a way to deal with our differences. I certainly hope not.  Pretty damn depressing if it does.

The series as a whole was enjoyable.  I did think the first book was much better than the final two, but as a whole, a decent, connected story with all three.  David Moody did a good job with McCoyne’s internal struggle and provided an interesting take on human nature.  The first book, Hater, is to become a movie, when I don’t know.  It will be interesting to see how the book translates to a movie.  Hopefully it is able to keep the same wit and pace as the book.

51st post!

On Wednesday when I did my last post I got a notice from WordPress that it was my 50th post.  First I thought it was pretty cool that WP gives you this notice.  Second, I thought it was rather sad that I’ve only had 50 posts so far.  My first post was on September 9, 2012 and my intentions when starting this blog were to do posts on a regular basis.  Given it’s been a year and a half and I’m now up to 51 posts I clearly haven’t lived up to those intentions.

So what can I do to try to be more consistent?  Well, one thing that I’ve done is partake in the Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge and have so far reviewed three books (I’ve read more than that, just haven’t gotten around to reviewing them yet).  After that I’m kind of stuck.  I had been going to school on the weekends and during that time I felt oddly motivated to do posts.  I think it was the procrastinator in me not wanting to work on my homework until the last possible minute, as well as the creative feeling/thoughts I had while being in school.  Now that I’m just working rather than working and going to school, I feel as though I’ve lost the motivation and the creativeness that compelled my posts.  What’s a person to do when they feel as though they’ve lost the drive that helps with creativity.

And then today I read a post by Jack Falcco about motivation and I thought to myself “what’s wrong with you?”  It’s time to stop being so lazy (because, my God, can I be lazy) and get with it!  I have to make a schedule where I post at least once a week.  If I don’t have a topic, make one up, or just start a draft of random things and edit the next day.  I tend to feel the most motivated when under time constraints, hence my tendency to blog rather than do homework while I was in school.  Why do something ahead of time when I can do it hours beforehand and have a stellar product!  I do feel more creative when I have less time.  It’s as if the urgency of the situation brings out the creativity in me.

So, my motivation is time constraints.  And in order to be more consistent with my blog posts I’ll have to schedule a day when I must send out a post.  It’ll work, right?  Well, if I want to be more successful in blogging, it has to work.  I’ll have no one by myself to blame.

I’ll also say THANK YOU to all of those who have read, liked, commented on a post or followed my blog.  Each and every time I one of those things happen I am grateful that you took the time to read what I had to say.  I believe one of the first comments I ever got (from someone I didn’t personally know) was from Sidekick Reviews.  I remember being almost giddy that some stranger read my post and thought enough about it to comment on it.  I still feel that way at every new like, comment, or follow.  Hopefully I’ll have more consistent content to read – as long as I keep myself to those time constraints!

The Lie – by Hesh Kestin

I can’t even begin to describe how much I loved  The Lie by Hesh Kestin.  It’s not that it was some epic book that’s burned into my brain forever, more of me just loving the topic, the fast pace, and the writer’s style.

The Lie is about Dahlia Barr, an Israeli attorney whose focus is on defending Palestinians accused of terrorism, and about Edward Al-Masri, an Arab who grew up in Israel, and how their lives are connected.  Dahlia has staunch beliefs about torture and it’s these beliefs that are put to the ultimate test.

Dahlia is asked by the Israeli security establishment to be the nation’s arbiter on interrogation methods and when it truly necessary to use torture.  In Dahlia’s world, there’s never a need to use torture. She takes the job with the idea of changing the way things are done and ensuring torture is never used.  While Dahlia is adjusting to her job, Edward is arrested at the airport in Israel, accused of smuggling money into the country.  Dahlia has two sons, one of whom, Ari, is in the Israel Defense Forces.  Ari is kidnapped by Hezbollah and taken to Lebanon.  And Edward is the one who can help set Ari free, or send Ari to his death by not helping.  Dahlia’s beliefs are tested in ways she can’t even imagine and the struggle to free her son pushes her to the brink.the-mad-reviewer-reading-challenge-button

The thing I liked  the best about The Lie is the author’s background.   Kestin is a former journalist who reported on war, international security, and terrorism, just to name a few.  He also spent 18 years in the Israel Defense Forces.  This extensive background lent itself to a believable and fast paced story.  Most of the chapters were on the short side but provided good content.  My obsession/love for covert items, defense organizations, and the internal struggle of someone choosing to do the unthinkable also clearly played a part in my enjoyment of this book.

The reveal of the lie wasn’t quite what I expected but given the subject matter and the tension of the region the book takes place in, I can see why Kestin wrote the ending he did.  This was a fast paced and enjoyable book that I would be happy to read again or even give as a gift.  I hope Kestin writes more books like this.