Rock Hard (Nalini Singh)

Rock Hard is the second novel in the Rock Kiss series by Nalini Singh, though it also ties in with her Hard Play series.
Finished on: 26.3.2020
[Here’s my review of the rest of the series.]

Content Note: abusive relationship, stalking (not in the main couple)

Plot:
Charlie works as a record keeper in a company and just got a new boss, former professional football player and known corporate hard-ass Gabriel Bishop. Their first meeting isn’t very great when he suprises her at the office when she thinks she is alone, her shock and subsequent mortification further increasing her already strong shyness. But Gabriel soon realizes that Charlie is an exceptional worker and promotes her to his personal assistant. As they work together more and more, Gabriel knows that he is falling for Charlie. But Charlie has demons haunting her from the past that may keep her from going for romance.

Charlie and Gabriel’s story is hinted at in Rock Addiction and was the main reason I wanted to continue with this series. And hot damn, it absolutely fulfilled my hopes in being a wonderful read with intriguing characters. I blazed through it.

The book cover showing a guy in a suit, tie undone, shirt open, holding an American football.
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Mermaid’s Key (Amanda Mahan)

Mermaid’s Key is the first novel in a coming series written by Amanda Mahan.
Finished on: 25.3.2020
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Giveaway.]

Plot:
Evan has traveled a lot with his parents and his brother Ross as their parents work as anthropological/archaeological journalists. At the moment they are in Florida. There on the beach, Evan stumbles upon a key that looks very important. When he tells his parents, they want to give it to a colleague for analysis – much to Evan’s chagrin, who always feels at odds with his level-headed, practical family. But when they get stranded on one of the islands in the Florida Keys during a storm and Evan stumbles upon Maera, a softly bioluminiscent, telepathic and infinitely fascinating girl who knows about the key, Evan knows that he has to do something.

Mermaid’s Key is cute in a way that is definitely aimed at younger audiences. I do enjoy young adult novels, but I felt that I was too much of an adult for this one. It’s flaws may be more easily forgiven by a twelve-year-old, but I couldn’t look past a lot of them.

The book cover showing various sea debris (shells, corals, teeth) on a blue background.
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Irreplaceable You (2018)

Irreplaceable You
Director: Stephanie Laing
Writer: Bess Wohl
Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michiel Huisman, Christopher Walken, Brian Tyree Henry, Steve Coogan, Kate McKinnon, Jacki Weaver, Timothy Simons, Merritt Wever
Seen on: 24.3.2020

Content Note: cancer (death)

Plot:
Sam (Michiel Huisman) and Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) have been a couple since they were children and now that Abbie is pregnant, its time to get married. But when Abbie’s pregnancy turns out to be cancer and not a baby, their life is turned upside down. As Abbie has to confront the very real possibility that she will die, all she wants is to make sure that Sam will be okay after her death.

Irreplaceable You is just the right thing if you want to look at beautiful people while having a good cry. It certainly made me bawl, in a nice, cathartic way.

The film poster showing Sam (Michiel Huisman) piggybacking Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw)
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Carrie Pilby (2016)

Carrie Pilby
Director: Susan Johnson
Writer: Kara Holden
Based on: Caren Lissner‘s novel
Cast: Bel Powley, Nathan Lane, Gabriel Byrne, Vanessa Bayer, Colin O’Donoghue, Jason Ritter, William Moseley, Desmin Borges
Seen on: 19.3.2020

Plot:
Carrie (Bel Powley) was a child prodigy. Having graduated Harvard at 18, she is now in New York and pretty much at a loss. She resents her father (Gabriel Byrne) for having sent her away when she was so young and doesn’t really know how to adjust to life outside of education. Her therapist (Nathan Lane) tries to get her to live a little instead of just reading books. When he gives her a list of tasks to fulfill – like going on a date or doing something she liked doing as a child – and at the same time, her father gets her a job as a copyeditor for a law firm, Carrie starts to make new experiences.

Carrie Pilby is a sweet, fun film with a complex female character at its center. It balances humor and serious issues nicely, making it absolutely enjoyable.

The film poster showing a drawing of Carrie's face, looking widely upwards.
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Saga – Volume 5 (Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples)

Saga is a comic series by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples. Volume 5 collects the issues 25-30.
Finished on: 18.3.2020
[Here are my reviews of the other volumes.]

Plot:
Dengo is still holding Alana, Klara and Hazel prisoner, as well as Prince Robot IV’s son. He has his own plans for Hazel – plans that involve the Last Revolution. Meanwhile, Marko, Prince Robot IV, Ghüs and Yuma are going after them, hoping to be able to find them in the hugeness of the universe. And Gwen, Sophie and The Brand are busy trying to get the cure for The Will.

I took a longer break between reading Volume 4 and Volume 5 just to make things last a little longer. But that hasn’t cooled off my absolutely euphoric reaction to the entire series. It’s still fantastic.

The cover showing Sophie and Gewn cowering in a dragon's mouth.

[SPOILERS]

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Rock Courtship (Nalini Singh)

Rock Courtship is a novella set between the first and second novel in the Rock Kiss series by Nalini Singh.
Finished on: 15.3.2020
[Here’s my review of the first novel in the series.]

Plot:
David, drummer of the band Schoolboy Choir, has been in love with their publicist Thea since about forever. His first attempt to ask her out, though, was a catastrophe: she blocked him off so cooly, he barely recovered. When Thea’s half-sister Molly advises him to write her a memo, he decides it’s worth a chance. And his memo does have a great effect on Thea – the question is, can she look past their professional relationship as well as her recent bad break-up to take the plunge with him?

Rock Courtship is a sweet, quick read. In fact, it could have been a little longer – I think it suffered a little from the fact that it was only a novella. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it.

The book cover showing the back of a guy in a shirt, holding drum sticks.
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This Changes Everything (2018)

This Changes Everything
Director: Tom Donahue
Seen on: 15.3.2020

“Plot”:
The documentary looks at gender imbalance and discrimination in the film industry, especially the huge shift in awareness that has occurred in recent years over how the representation of women and also people of color in front and behind the camera is seriously wonky.

This Changes Everything is a good primer for people for people who haven’t yet really thought about the issues it touches on. It gives a good overview for the situation in Hollywood and while it may be a little too optimistic in the end, this is actually pretty nice.

The film poster showing a film role that is extended into a venus sign.
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Sorry We Missed You (2019)

Sorry We Missed You
Director: Ken Loach
Writer: Paul Laverty
Cast: Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood, Rhys Stone, Katie Proctor, Ross Brewster, Charlie Richmond
Seen on: 12.3.2020

Plot:
Ricky (Kris Hitchen) has been struggling job-wise for a while, so he is very excited when he gets the opportunity to start as a subcontractor for a delivery company. It does mean selling his wife Abby’s (Debbie Honeywood) car to buy a truck, complicating her own work day as a carer, going from home visit to home visit. Both are out all day for six days a week to barely get enough money to get by – which is also difficult for their two children, Seb (Rhys Stone) who is in full puberty mode and Liza Jae (Katie Proctor) who is anxious all the time. What looked to be a great possibility for the whole family soon turns out more curse than blessing.

You can always rely on Ken Loach to put the finger where it hurts, to point out exactly the ways in which (neoliberal, capitalist) society is fundamentally broken. Sorry We Missed You is another effective and affective political/sociological analysis in movie form.

The film poster showing the central family standing in front of a brown wall.
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Just Mercy (2019)

Just Mercy
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Writer: Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham,
Based on: Bryan Stevenson‘s memoir Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, Rob Morgan, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Rafe Spall, Tim Blake Nelson, Michael Harding, Hayes Mercure
Seen on: 12.3.2020

Content Note: (criticism of) racism

Plot:
In 1987, Walter McMillian, called Johnny D. (Jamie Foxx), is arrested for the murder of a young, white woman. Despite his protestations of innocence, he is sentenced to death. In 1989, young Harvard graduate Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) opens the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, determined to help prisoners on death row who are often black and have often had only insufficient legal representation. He meets Johnny D. and, convinced of his innocence, takes up the fight to prove it.

Just Mercy is definitely an emotional film and one with an important political point to make, but it does feel a little like it’s trying too hard to stay too clean.

The film poster showing Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) in front of an orange background with various film stills.
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Sex Smells

Sex Smells
Director: Paula Thielecke from Kollektiv Eins
Writer: Paula Thielecke
Cast: Marlene-Sophie Haagen, Fabian Raabe, Carolin Wiedenbröker, Tara Afsah
Seen on: 11.3.2020

Content Note: ableism, suicide

Plot:
The Hot Flamingo Bar is a feminist porn cinema / brothel run by Muschi McMuschi (Marlene-Sophie Haagen), Captain Rodeo (Carolin Wiedenbröker) and Gloria Maria Wurst (Fabian Raabe). But the Bar and its staff are in trouble. Bills can’t be paid, gentrification lurks around the corner – and there is only a very limited amount of time left for them to stop it and keep their place.

Sex Smells has some interesting and some funny moments but overall, I was hoping for a little more from it.

Marlene-Sophie Haagen, Fabian Raabe, Carolin Wiedenbröker on stage
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