P.S. I Still Love You (Jenny Han)

P.S. I Still Love You is the second novel in the To All the Boys series by Jenny Han.
Finished on: 7.2.2020
[Here’s my review of the first novel.]

Plot:
Lara Jean has a love letter to deliver – this time on purpose. And it brings the wanted result: Peter actually wants to be with her. But their new relationship (this time for real!) is shaken when a video of the two of them kissing in a hot tub makes the rounds at school, quickly turning into a story of how the two of them had sex and into a meme. Lara Jean suspects Peter’s ex-girlfriend Genvieve of spreading the video and fears that Peter will take Gen’s side. And then a letter arrives, a reply to one of the letters she wrote that were sent out against her will and that got lost for a while: John Ambrose McClaren soon becomes a regular pen pal for Lara Jean.

P.S. I Still Love You is an entirely satisfying sequel and just a wonderful novel that I really didn’t want to put down and practically didn’t. It’s supersweet.

The book cover showing a girl leaning against a reading nook.
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Re-Read: The Master and Margarita (Mikhail Bulgakov)

The Master and Margarita is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov. I read the German translation (Der Meister und Margarita) by Thomas Reschke.
Finished on: 5.2.2020
[Here’s my last review.]

Plot:
Moscow, 1930. The writers Berlioz and Besdomny are in the middle of a discussion about the existence, or better yet actual non-existence of Jesus, when they are interrupted by a stranger who tells them a story of how he was present during Pontius Pilate’s trial of Jesus. Then the stranger goes on to predict Berlioz rather gruesome death, which promptly happens. Turns out, said stranger is actually the devil. In the guise of the black magician Voland, he and his associates came to wreak havoc in Moscow.

This is actually the third time I read Master and Margarita, and it’s probably the time it worked best for me. But I’d still say, it’s far from being a favorite of mine and it will probably really have been the last time I read it. (Why did I read it three times ? Well, the first time I was too young, so I wanted to read it a second time to really get it. And the third time now was for a Soviet lit class at uni.)

The book cover showing the shadowy profile of a cat.
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The Last Wish (Andrzej Sapkowski)

The Last Wish is the first short story collection/novel in the Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski. I read the English translation by Danusia Stok.
Finished on: 3.2.2020

Plot:
After a mission that injured him, Geralt the Witcher has sought refuge in the temple of Melitele where the head priestess Nenneke takes care of him. While there, Geralt remembers other missions he had and gets a visit from the poet Dandelion, his closest friend. But the local prince doesn’t want Geralt to stay and puts pressure on him and Nenneke to make sure that he leaves town.

I have to admit that I was a little hesitant about reading The Witcher novels because it seemed like such dude-bro fantasy to me – and I mostly avoid that subgenre. But I was very pleasantly surprised by this first book in the series. It’s a very good read.

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Been So Long (2018)

Been So Long
Director: Tinge Krishnan
Writer: Che Walker
Cast: Michaela Coel, Mya Lewis, Arinzé Kene, George MacKay, Jo Martin, Ronke Adekoluejo, Joe Dempsie, Rakie Ayola, Luke Norris
Seen on: 2.2.2020

Plot:
Simone (Michaela Coel) has devoted her life to her daughter Mandy (Mya Lewis) – sacrificing her social life pretty much entirely for her. Her best friend Yvonne (Ronke Adekoluejo) does drag her out every once in a while though and on one of those nights, Simone meets Raymond (Arinzé Kene). He is charming and they hit it off, but he was also just released from prison and still wears an ankle monitor. Now Raymond has to figure out his life in general and Simone has to decide whether she has space for him in hers.

Been So Long is a musical with an interesting central couple and less interesting music. It was nice while it lasted, but I probably won’t remember it for a long time.

The film poster showing Simone (Michaela Coel) and Raymond (Arinzé Kene) leaning in for a kiss.
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Little Women (2019)

Little Women
Director: Greta Gerwig
Writer: Greta Gerwig
Based on: Louisa May Alcott’s novel
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Jayne Houdyshell, Chris Cooper, Meryl Streep
Seen on: 31.1.2020
[Here are my reviews of the 1994 and the 2018 versions.]

Plot:
Meg (Emma Watson), Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Beth (Eliza Scanlen) and Amy (Florence Pugh) are sisters, living with their mother Marmee (Laura Dern) as their father is off fighting in the war. Their lives are spent working or studying and trying to help the even poorer people in the neighborhood. In their sparetime, they like to play creatively. When their neighbor Mr. Lawrence’s (Chris Cooper) grandson Laurie (Timothée Chalamet) moves in with his grandfather, he quickly finds himself included with the girls. Together, they navigate life’s ups and downs.

There are many, many things I really love about this version of Little Women. I enjoyed myself thoroughly as I watched it. And at the same time, there are so many narrative choices here that I hate that it really speaks to the film’s quality that I still liked it a lot.

The film poster showing the four Marsh girls (Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen) looking out a window.
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The Lunatic Ship (Olga Forsh)

The Lunatic Ship is a novel by Olga Forsh. I read the German translation (Russisches Narrenschiff) by Christiane Pöhlmann.
Finished on: 30.1.2020

Plot:
There is a house in Saint Petersburg in the 1920s that is home to the big artists of the time. As one can imagine, things are not necessarily very ordered there – with the colorful and idiosyncratic inhabitants as much as with the new Soviet regime, there’s a lot going on – and the House of Art is caught up in the waves of all that dynamic.

Forsh’s novel has all but disappeared – in Russian as well as in other languages. The German translation only came out this year – and what a good thing that is. I was really impressed with the novel as well as with the translation. It’s beautifully written, evocative, surreal and has a sharp eye for the absurdities of (early) Soviet Russia.

The book cover showing a collage of house parts and author portraits.
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The Boss (ed. by Temptation Press)

The Boss is a short story collection edited by Temptation Press (I couldn’t find a person named as editor).
Finished on: 27.1.2020
[I won this book in a librarything Early Reviewer give-away.]

The seven stories in this short collection are all concerned with bosses in some way and with sex. Other than that, they very widely in tone and pairings – there are even queer stories. What they do have in common, though, is that they all would have needed more editing. I guess there is a reason that no editor is named here. For me, the collection was mostly okay, but it could have been much better.

[Read more about each of the stories after the jump.]

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Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Jojo Rabbit
Director: Taika Waititi
Writer: Taika Waititi
Based on: Christine Leunens‘s book Caging Skies
Cast: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Taika Waititi, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant, Archie Yates
Seen on: 26.1.2020

Plot:
Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) has two best friends in the world: Yorki (Archie Yates) and Adolf (Taika Waititi) – as in Hitler. Of course, Jojo knows that Adolf is imaginary, but that doesn’t make him any less real to him and Adolf’s encouragement as Jojo joins the Hitler Youth is invaluable to him. But Jojo’s life takes a sharp turn after an accident that leaves him unable to be part of the Hitler Youth and he discovers that his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in their home.

I went into Jojo Rabbit with very high expectations. So far, I very much enjoyed Waititi’s films, reviews of the films have been very positive and the trailer looked great. And maybe my expectations were too high, but I left the film with a sinking feeling of disappointment.

The film poster showing the film's main characters.
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1917 (2019)

1917
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Sam Mendes, Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Cast: Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay, Daniel Mays, Colin Firth, Andrew Scott, Mark Strong, Richard McCabe, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Madden
Seen on: 26.1.2020

Plot:
Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) are called on by their superior officer General Erinmore (Colin Firth) to go on a special mission: they learned about a trap set for another battalion and if they aren’t warned, it will mean the death of 1,600 men. As Blake’s brother would be one of them, it falls to Blake and with him Schofield to deliver the message about the trap. The only problem is that they have to do it on foot and moving through enemy territory and if they don’t get there by morning, it will be too late.

I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to see 1917 at all, as my interest in war movies is limited. But I went to see it anyway (because Mendes, Deakins, that cast) and it’s definitely a film that hits home, despite some of my reservations about the general set-up.

The film poster showing two soldiers running into the sunset.
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Hair Love (2019)

Hair Love
Director: Matthew A. Cherry, Everett Downing Jr., Bruce W. Smith
Writer: Matthew A. Cherry
Cast: Issa Rae
Seen on: 23.1.2020
[You can watch it here!]

Plot:
A little girl tries to get her hair ready for school with the help of a video tutorial. But this isn’t as easy as it looks. When her father sees her attempts, he tries to help – but it’s not like he has much more capabilities in that regard either.

Hair Love is a supercute, touching short film that shows black fatherhood in a very different way from what we usually get to see in media: as a caring, gender-boundary breaking love. It has a nice sense of humor, too, and manages to get very emotional in such a short runtime. The only thing that I would have loved is if they hadn’t gotten rid of the mom so permanently to tell this story. But that’s really just nitpicking and I’d give the film all the stars, if I gave stars at all.

The film poster showing the drawing of a father standing behind his daughter looking nonplussed at her hair, a giant afro.