Rock Wedding (Nalini Singh)

Rock Wedding is the fourth (and final) novel in the Rock Kiss series by Nalini Singh.
Finished on: 25.7.2020
[Here are my reviews of the rest of the series.]

Content Note: miscarriages, fat hate

Plot:
Sarah barely got over her divorce from Abe, after a short but intense relationship that involved too much pain and Abe doing drugs. Then Sarah slid into the next bad relationship and only just got out of that. It is time for Sarah to get on safe ground again. But Abe, by now sober and full of regrets, finds that there is an opening for a second chance for them. And Sarah barely dares to hope that this might actually be the case, but hope she still does. But can they leave their tumultous and destructive past behind?

Rock Wedding is the grand finale of the Rock Kiss series and as the title suggests, it is filled with weddings left and right. Now, I’m not so much in to weddings myself and I was also not that much into Abe and Sarah’s story. In the end, Rock Wedding left me a little too cold.

The book cover showing a Black man playing the piano. The shot is in black and white.
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Blood Quantum (2019)

Blood Quantum
Director: Jeff Barnaby
Writer: Jeff Barnaby
Cast: Michael Greyeyes, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Forrest Goodluck, Kiowa Gordon, Olivia Scriven, Stonehorse Lone Goeman, Brandon Oakes, William Belleau, Devery Jacobs, Gary Farmer, Kent McQuaid, Felicia Shulman
Part of: frame[o]ut in cooperation with SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 24.7.2020

Plot:
In the Mi’gmaq Red Crow Reservation, things are brewing. Gutted fish start moving again, dead dogs rise and Reservation sheriff Traylor (Michael Greyeyes) has to divide his attention between that and his own sons – Lysol (Kiowa Gordon) and Joseph (Forrest Goodluck) – who were arrested the night before. What starts as a weird and complicated day turns into an apolayptic event. It turns out that zombies are taking over the world – and it’s only the Mi’gmaq who are immune, turning their Reservation into a sanctuary for survivors. But just because they are immune doesn’t mean that they’re out of danger.

Blood Quantum is a very interesting take on the zombie apocalypse in the light of colonialism, but it does have some issues regarding its character work. Still, it’s enjoyable and also moving.

The film poster showing a masked and armed figure swinging a bloody scythe.
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Das Vorspiel [The Audition] (2019)

Das Vorspiel
Director: Ina Weisse
Writer: Daphne Charizani, Ina Weisse
Cast: Nina Hoss, Simon Abkarian, Jens Albinus, Ilja Monti, Serafin Mishiev, Sophie Rois
Seen on: 24.7.2020

Plot:
Anna (Nina Hoss) is a violin teacher. At the auditions for the music school she works at, she sees – and hears – Alexander (Ilja Monti). She thinks he shows great promise, while her colleague (Sophie Rois) is less convinced. Now Anna has half a year to push Alexander to make his talent obvious to everyone. At the same time, her own son Jonas (Serafin Mishiev) shows less and less interest in his own violin practice and her husband Philippe (Simon Abkarian) struggles with Anna’s increasing distance.

Das Vorspiel is the perfect stage for Nina Hoss to deliver a stunning performance, but storywise it is a little unsatisfying.

The film poster showing Anna (Nina Hoss) hugging her husband Philippe (Simon Abkarian) from behind at the top and below it, Anna playing the violin.
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Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears (2020)

Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears
Director: Tony Tilse
Writer: Deb Cox
Sequel to: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
Cast: Essie Davis, Nathan Page, Rupert Penry-Jones, Miriam Margolyes, Daniel Lapaine, Jacqueline McKenzie, Izabella Yena, Kal Naga, John Waters, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Ashleigh Cummings, Travis McMahon
Seen on: 21.7.2020

Plot:
As usual, Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) is on a mission. This time, her path brought her to Jerusalem where she frees Shirin (Izabella Yena) from prison. Shirin had been locked up because she claims that the British murdered her family and her entire village when she was a child. But things go a little badly and Phryne is claimed to be dead. The news even reaches Australia, where Jack Robinson (Nathan Page) leaves everything to say his goodbye to Phryne in the UK. When Phryne crashes her own funeral, obviously alive, and ready to solve the mystery around Shirin, Jack is both relieved and angry, and lets himself get roped in with the case.

Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears is, basically, the series finale for Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, a fantastic TV show that was cut off too soon and with a not very satisfying ending. This would have been their chance to bring things to a round close, but unfortunately, Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears is not up to snuff and simply not worthy of the show it is supposed to finish.

The film poster showing Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) holding a gun.
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Blue Bloods (Melissa de la Cruz)

Blue Bloods is the first novel in the Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz.
Finished on: 20.7.2020

Content Note: racism

Plot:
Schuyler Van Alen comes from an old family that traces back to the Mayflower. But they have since fallen on hard times and their wealth is pretty much gone. But Schuyler can still attend the Duchesne school, the most prestigious school in New York where she feels thoroughly out of place. Fortunately she has her best friends Oliver and Dylan to brave the school together. But her life gets thoroughly shaken up, when a classmate turns up and Schuyler learns that she is actually a Blue Blood: a vampire – as is the most popular girl in school, Mimi Force and her gorgeous brother Jack. But even though Blue Bloods are supposed to be indestructible, somebody is hunting them.

Blue Bloods is basically Gossip Girl with vampires and if that sounds like your kind of thing, go for it (my niece jumped at the chance). But be prepared that it is also, unfortunately, pretty badly written and racist. I won’t be continuing with the series after this first installment.

The book cover showing a neck with a pearl necklace and bloody vampire bite marks.
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American Honey (2016)

American Honey
Director: Andrea Arnold
Writer: Andrea Arnold
Cast: Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough, Will Patton
Seen on: 19.7.2020

Content Note: sexualized abuse

Plot:
Star (Sasha Lane) takes care of her siblings and has to fend off her stepfather’s abuse, if she can at all, so when she meets Jake (Shia LaBeouf) and he offers her a way out – joining him and a whole bus full of kids to drive around the country selling magazine subscriptions – Star jumps at the chance. Probably would have also jumped if there hadn’t been an instant connection between her and Jake, but that certainly helped her decision. But once they are on the road, things become a little more complicated than Star anticipated.

American Honey is a beautiful coming-of-age road movie with great lead performances, looking at a part of America that rarely gets much attention. I was absolutely captivated by it.

The film poster showing Star (Sasha Lane) from behind, raising her hand to the sky.
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Short Changes (Adrian Tchaikovsky, Keris McDonald)

Short Changes is a short story collection by Adrian Tchaikovsky, with an additional short story he wrote together with Keris McDonald.
Finished on: 18.7.2020

I was curious about Tchaikovsky’s writing, so when he offered this collection of previously published stories for free, I thought it would be a good chance to get an impression of his style and work to determine whether I wanted to get more into it. Having read the collection, I mostly enjoyed it, but nothing really blew me away enough to go out and buy his other writing straight away. But maybe at some point.

There is no book cover, but you can read more about each of the stories after the jump.

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Gretel & Hansel (2020)

Gretel & Hansel
Director: Oz Perkins
Writer: Rob Hayes
Based on: the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel as collected by the Brothers Grimm
Cast: Sophia Lillis, Samuel Leakey, Alice Krige, Jessica De Gouw, Fiona O’Shaughnessy, Donncha Crowley, Charles Babalola
Seen on: 18.7.2020

Plot:
Gretel (Sophia Lillis) and her brother Hansel (Samuel Leakey) are in a dire spot. Their mother (Fiona O’Shaughnessy) doesn’t have the resources to feed them, so she sends them away, hoping that Gretel may have better luck away from home – to find employment and take care of her brother. But that’s easier said than done and Gretel’s hunt for work finally leads the two siblings to the mysterious cottage in the woods where an old lady (Alice Krige) may have everything they need.

Gretel & Hansel really did not work for me. The interesting visuals were completely marred by the incessant semi-spiritual voiceover that was just annoying for me. I would have preferred a silent film.

The film poster showing Gretel (Sophie Lillis) walking through the woods with an oil lamp. Shoes are hanging from the trees and a cabin can be seen in the back.
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Waves (2019)

Waves
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Writer: Trey Edward Shults
Cast: Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Sterling K. Brown, Lucas Hedges, Alexa Demie, Clifton Collins Jr.
Seen on: 18.7.2020

Content Note: domestic abuse

Plot:
The Williams family has it pretty good, and father Ronald (Sterling K. Brown) is proud of their success. He works hard to maintain it and also pushes his son Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) to succeed. Tyler is a promising wrestler, but when a shoulder injury and a possible pregnancy from his girlfriend Alexis (Alexa Demie) threaten all his carefully made plans, his life starts to unravel before his eyes. Meanwhile his sister Emily (Taylor Russell) flies mostly under the radar, but sees her brother struggling, as does his stepmother Catherine (Renée Elise Goldsberry). But neither is sure how to reach him.

Waves tells an interesting story with good characters, but above all, it manges to use all cinema has to offer to create a sensory experience that should be seen, heard and felt on a big screen.

The film poster showing Ronald (Sterling K. Brown) hugging his daughter Emily (Taylor Russell) on a picknick table, water all around them.
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Ancillary Sword (Ann Leckie)

Ancillary Sword is the second novel in the Imperial Radch trilogy by Ann Leckie.
Finished on: 17.7.2020
[Here’s my review of the first novel.]

Plot:
Breq is now the captain of the Mercy of Kalr and she is supposed to the remote Athoek system to see what’s going on there – a mission she gladly accepts because Awn’s sister Basnaaid is there as well. Not that Anaander Mianaai, the Lord of the Radch, left her much choice. She also forced Breq to take on a young lieutenant, Tisarwat, for the mission. But something is off about Tisarwat. And there is also something strange going on in Athoek. Breq is determined to see that justice is restored for everyone.

Ancillary Sword is much less plot-driven and much more character-driven than Ancillary Justice. This change of pace may not agree with everyone, but it certainly agreed with me: I am very content with just deep-diving into Breq’s personality.

The book cover showing a spaceship over a space station.
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