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A Gentleman in Moscow

APPEARANCE OF COUNT ALEXANDER ILYICH ROSTOV BEFORE THE EMERGENCY COMMITTEE OF THE PEOPLE’S COMMISSARIAT FOR INTERNAL AFFAIRS

This was a book like a sofa. I feel like I’ve used this compliment before, which means that I have to go start looking for a new comparison. But spacious, comfortable and easy to stay put in.

Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is a Former Person in the Soviet Union, which basically means that he’s part of all that was awful before the enlightened bolsheviks showed up. Because he wrote an amazing, wonderful, beautiful poem, they can’t just depart him. Instead, they tell him he can’t ever again leave the hotel he’s been staying  in (logical!).

And that’s where the book plays out, in a hotel. But luckily, not just any hotel. And the Count isn’t just any ordinary man. Time moves, people come and go, the Soviet changes, but the gentleman in Moscow is there.

I have yet to find a book involving Russia that doesn’t fascinate slash baffle me. This is one man’s story, this is a part of history. While being an appealing reason to sit down.

A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles, Viking 2016

Wynonna Earp

13 x 40 min.

You want some small town western in your Buffy, with focus on more women than a Firefly? Here you go!

wynonna_earp_posterWynonna Earp needs a bit of an investment, largely because of the grumpy and not instantly love-able title character (hmm, how different would that be if she would have been a guy?). But if you can give her a break (she’s got a proper motivation, after all), you are welcomed into a diverse world full of nasties and a heroine that honestly, completely, excusez-le-mot, doesn’t give a fuck.

This creates a messy thrill, speeding along in such a way that plot bumps or disbeliefs don’t have room for growing. Go for the demon-vigilante with bisexual sidekick ride, yiha!

Wynonna Earp, SyFy 2016 (first season on Netflix)

Caterpillars Can’t Swim

“Go!”

So I discovered something new (NetGalley), and now I’m sure I’ll never want for something to read ever again. If the subscriptions to two international libraries and Overdrive weren’t going to take care of that, of course.

To the book. Young Adult with the main character having cerebral palsy, living in a very small town and saving another male teen that might not want to be saved. But still, pulling someone out of the water creates a connection.

Ryan feels responsible for Jack after that, even though Jack and Ryan’s best friend Cody try to stop making him feel so. Jack’s not the best, most social, fun loving guy around, while Cody is the pretty stereotypical jock.

What Liane Shaw does – and very nicely so – isn’t hurry either of them into a corner. Yes, someone’s disabled, but not his disability. Yes, someone’s gay, but not his sexuality. And yes, the jock can learn. All characters get room for development, and that doesn’t happen often enough.

It makes for a sweet, soft story, and a nice start of my Netgalley experience.

Caterpillars Can’t Swim, Liane Shaw, Second Story Press 2017

Did you hear about the Morgans?

103 min.

Hey, er zijn nog wel onschuldige, niet-frustrerende Hollywood romcoms in deze eeuw gemaakt. In Did you hear about the Morgans? mag Hugh Grant het weer eens proberen, dyhatm posteren doet Sarah Jessica Parker mee als een mildere versie van haar Sex & the City karakter.

Ze spelen een kibbelend stel dat vanuit New York City noodgedwongen vertrekt naar een gat in de MidWest van de VS. Men laat er de autosleutels in de auto’s zitten!

Genoeg elementen om een arsenaal van tenenkrommende clichés te openen, maar iedereen houdt zich in en houdt het bij een charmant plotje dat iedereen menselijk houdt. Men leert zelfs van elkaar.

En zo heb je een film waar je nergens hoeft door te spoelen of weg te kijken, maar gewoon met een zoet en zacht gevoel kan blijven zitten.

Did you hear about the Morgans?, Columbia Pictures 2009

Hex

Stefan de Graaf kwam juist op tijd om de hoek van het parkeerterrein achter de Nico de Witt-supermarkt gerend om te zien hoe Katharina van Wijler werd overreden door een antiek draaiorgel.

Net zoals bij The Library at Mount Char is dit verhaal helemaal klaar voor televisie of film. En ook hier zou het best flink minder kunnen wat betreft geweld, deze keer bijna exclusief gericht op vrouwen.

Beek is geen dorp zoals andere Nederlandse dorpen, Beek heeft een eeuwenoude heks. In het dagelijks leven is ze redelijk rustig, zolang je haar maar met rust laat en het dorp niet te lang verlaat. Natuurlijk gebeuren er meerdere dingen waardoor de rust helemaal en compleet vernietigd wordt.

Maar de weg daar naar toe is vol in detail beschreven geweld en horror. Ja, daar is het dan ook een boek voor uit het horrorgenre. Maar moet het zo van-dik-hout-zaagt-men-planken? De conclusie wordt er ook met dikke spijkers ingeslagen, waardoor je makkelijk hoofdstukken kunt overslaan: het zal later toch nog eens allemaal verteld worden.

Dus ja, spannend materiaal, maar er kan nog wel een (televisieschrijvende) redacteur over heen.

Hex, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Luitingh-Sijthoff 2013

Every Heart a Doorway

The girls were never present for the entrance interviews.

I always feel so fancy when I’m offered books, even though it’s through a subscription and it’s me and a gazillion others. Hey, it’s still a free (e)book!

Every Heart a Doorway had been mentioned in the online reader circles I visit, viewing it as the Messiah of LGBQT-friendly YA versus ‘there was an attempt’. So basically, the usual range of opinions online.

All the characters in this tiny novel (little over 100 pages) once visited a fairy-ish world and are now back in the world as we know it. To deal with this, and to temper their hopes on ever return again, they’re at a school. Some come from gruesome worlds involving death and/or vampires, some lived in technicolour happy worlds.

Like being lost in your supposed home world isn’t enough to deal with, murders start to happen.

I’m on the ‘moh’ side of opinions. This novel feels like a set up for something bigger and possibly better. And LGBQT-friendly? One of the characters seems to be trans*, while an other calls herself asexual. It’s mentioned in passing, not as a main, defining point. Which is good, but I wouldn’t use it as its unique selling point. What is? I don’t really think it has one.

Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire,