iD (Madeline Ashby)

iD is the second Machine Dynasty novel by Madeline Ashby. [Here’s my review of the first book, vN.]

[Trigger Warning: Rape]

Plot:
Javier should be happy, living on Amy’s island with Amy and his sons. But somehow he is still ill at ease, especially since Amy refuses to disengage his failsafe, leaving him vulnerable to humans still. And then just that is used against him and makes his entire world falls apart, leaving Javier to try and pick up the pieces of their lives.

iD was fantastic. The pacing issues that were one of the weakest points in vN, were greatly improved here and with that, the brilliant world building and the way Ashby explores the humanity of AIs, you got a clear winner.

madeline-ashby-id

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Wild Invitation (Nalini Singh)

Wild Invitation is a collection of Psy-Changeling novellas by Nalini Singh. Two of them have been published before (I reviewed them here and here) and two are new.

Plot:
In Beat of Temptation, Tammy and Nate both know that they are meant to mate since Tammy’s fifteenth birthday. Now, she’s nineteen and Nate – afraid that he’ll make Tammy feel locked in and rid her of her youth – still keeps his distance. Which drives Tammy absolutely insane.
In Stroke of Enticement, Annie is a (human) teacher, Zach is the uncle of one of her students and a changeling. When they meet, passion flares. But Annie is determined to only have a fling, while Zach knows that she’s his mate.
In Declaration of Courtship, Grace is one of the most submissive wolves in the den. So when dominant Coop decides to court her, both of them have to be extremely careful with each other.
In Texture of Intimacy, Walker and Lara only recently mated and are now building their lives together. But being mates doesn’t necessarily mean that having a relationship goes without a hitch.

There are a few years between Singh having written Beat of Temptation (the oldest of the stories) and Texture of Intimacy (the newest) and it is rather interesting to see how her world has changed in details, while her writing barely changed at all. But overall the book is exactly what you expect and want for an easy, entertaining read on the beach.

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The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)

The Book Thief is a novel by Markus Zusak.

Plot:
Death tells the story of the Book Thief: Liesel, a young girl who, after the death of her brother, gets dropped off by her mother with a foster family because her mother risks to be carted off to a concentration camp. While World War II takes Liesel’s surroundings in Bavaria and her foster parents hide a Jew, Max, in their basement, she and her best friend Rudy are more taken with a little mischief. And Liesel is inexorably drawn to books, even when or maybe especially when she has to steal them.

It took me the first 100 pages to get into this book. But when I did, it really was worth it. It’s a wonderful, touching thing of beauty.

Zusak_TheBookThief

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Insurgent (Veronica Roth)

Insurgent is the second book in the Divergent Series by Veronica Roth. [Here’s my review of the first book, Divergent.]

Plot [with SPOILERS for Divergent]:
Insurgent picks up directly after Divergent: The Erudite have attacked Abnegation and Tris, Four, Marcus, Caleb and Peter are heading to Amity for a safe place to stay. But the Erudite’s attack is just the beginning of an upheaval in their society in which the Divergent have a huge part to play. But Tris doesn’t know what exactly is going on. She only knows that Marcus knows more than he cares to admit.

Insurgent, much like Divergent, is a quick, nice read. But there are also a few things that don’t work too well. In short, it didn’t blow me away but it was rather entertaining.

roth_insurgent

[SPOILERS}

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Harvest of Art Festival 2013

The Harvest of Art was a one-day festival in Wiesen with shows by Kate Nash, Bloc Party and Arctic Monkeys.
[Here’s my review of last year’s edition of that festival.]

I only attended the short version of the festival (because my sister celebrated her birthday on that day so I only arrived in the middle of Kate Nash’s set), but much as last year it was a wonderful show with even better weather this time round.

harvestofart2013

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Divergent (Veronica Roth)

Divergent is the first novel in the Divergent Series by Veronica Roth.

Plot:
In Beatrice’ world, people are divided into five castes according to their strengths – Abnegation are the selfless, Erudite the intelligence, Candor the truthful, Dauntless the brave and Amity the peaceful. Until their 16th birthday, kids just live in the caste of their parents, but then there’s an aptitude test and they have to choose their own place. For Beatrice that means ending up to choose Dauntless, while her brother chooses Erudite – much to the shock of their parents who practically lose them both since they remain in Abnegation. Adapting to the new caste is a challenge for Beatrice, now Tris, and having a crush on her instructor Four doesn’t help. But there are even bigger things at stake.

Divergent is a book that pulls you in and along, which is a good thing because I wasn’t interested enough that I would have weathered longer periods of drag. But as is, it was quite entertaining.

Divergent

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The Best Man (1999)

The Best Man
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Writer: Malcolm D. Lee
Cast: Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Harold Perrineau, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Monica Calhoun, Melissa De Sousa, Regina Hall

Plot:
Harper (Taye Diggs) is about to publish his autobiographical novel dealing with his time in college. But first there’s a different trip to the past he takes: his best friend from that time, Lance (Morris Chestnut) is getting married to his college sweetheart Mia (Monica Calhoun) and Harper’s the best man. So he travels to New York, leaving his girlfriend Robin (Sanaa Lathan) to join him later in the week. Which gives him the opportunity to reconnect with his friend and missed romantic connection from college Jordan (Nia Long).

The Best Man is interesting because it actually isn’t all that interesting at all: despite being a film that has both race and gender turned on the genre conventions’ head (since RomComs of this kind are usually targeted at and played by white women), it plays out pretty much exactly the same as what we’re used to. Which, from a cinematic pov, isn’t very captivating, but from a sociological pov, there’s much to dissect.

The_Best_Man

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An American Werewolf in Paris (1997)

An American Werewolf in Paris
Director: Anthony Waller
Writer: Tim Burns, Tom Stern, Anthony Waller
Based on: An American Werewolf in London
Cast: Tom Everett Scott, Julie Delpy, Vince Vieluf, Phil Buckman, Julie Bowen, Pierre Cosso

Plot:
Andy (Tom Everett Scott), Brad (Vince Vieluf) and Chris (Phil Buckman) are on holidays in Paris, but with a special twist: they are collecting daredeveil points for certain stunts they pull. That’s also how they end up on the Eiffel tower after closing hour and become witness to Serafine (Julie Delpy) trying to kill herself. But Andy saves her and becomes completely obsessed with her. But there is more to Serafine than meets the eye and soon the guys find themselves daring more than they thought.

Unfortunately An American Werewolf in Paris lacks all the bittersweet charm of An American Werewolf in London. Instead it’s dumb, slightly misogynistic and extremely boring. I guess it falls in the category of movies best forgotten.

american_werewolf_in_paris

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Los amantes pasajeros [I’m So Excited] (2013)

Los amantes pasajeros
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Writer: Pedro Almodóvar
Cast: Javier Cámara, Carlos Areces, Raúl Arévalo, Lola Dueñas, Hugo Silva, Antonio de la Torre, José Luis TorrijoBlanca Suárez, Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas

[TRIGGER WARNING]

Plot:
Peninsula Flight 2549 is in trouble. So instead of going to Mexico, they are flying circles above Toledo, waiting for a specially prepared landing strip. The crew has sedated the tourist class and now has to deal with the increasingly worried and extremely eccentric business class. With the help of drugs and gallows humor, everything is quickly revolving around sex.

Los amantes pasajeros is for the most part pretty funny. But it also drags on, is chock full with stereotypes and has two rapes that are treated not only as a joke but also as the romantic start of a relationship, so I can’t really give it a pass.

Los_amantes_pasajeros

[SPOILER]

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An American Werewolf in London (1981)

An American Werewolf in London
Director: John Landis
Writer: John Landis
Cast: David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, Jenny Agutter, John Woodvine

Plot:
David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are tramping through the UK, where they end up in a small town in the middle of nowhere. After an awkward visit to the local pub, they decide to not stay there. But while they are walking away, they are attacked. Jack dies and David gets bitten by some kind of monster. Three weeks later he wakes up in an hospital room, wiht Nurse Alex (Jenny Agutter) taking care of him. But the nightmare is only just beginning.

The movie was slightly uneven. It starts as more of a horror-comedy and suddenly there is this shift in tone and everything gets super depressing. But in any case, the most outstanding feature are the fantastic special effects – which still look great, even after 30 years.

An_American_Werewolf_in_London

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