The Abyss Surrounds Us

Any other morning, I’d dive into Durga’s observation bay without hesitation, but this is the day before my life begins.

Scifi pirate lesbians with mutant turtles! In the ocean(s)! Honestly, if that’s not up your alley, I don’t know what else to say to sell you on this (again, short) story.

In a world where huge, mutated sea creatures defend all kind of ships, Cass Leung’s maiden voyage as a trainer of one, goes completely belly up. Yes, because of the previously mentioned pirates.

Emily Skrutskie creates a steampunk-ish, Guillermo del Toro-ish (I’m thinking Pacific Rim) world that’s honestly ripe for the taking by any television-bobo’s, it’s such a complete package. Entertaining, different, diverse characters, fun, action, romance, bam bam boom.

Is there going to be a sequel? Could well be. Is it necessary? Not exactly, if you’re looking for a very quick read (again, just 200 pages in the e-reader), you’re more than fine with this one. After that, pay it forward into the direction of the Hollywood hotshots you know.

The Abyss Surrounds Us, Emily Skrutskie, Flux 2016

Remarkable Creatures

Lightning has struck me all my life.

I don’t particularly feel like going to hunt fossils right now, but I am curious about the small village of Lyme Regis. Tracy Chevalier has a style in this novel that makes you forget you’re reading digital. The pages take on structures, the story adds a physical sensation, like the book shelters touchable details.

Main characters are spinster Elisabeth, wild and poor child Mary, and the beaches, fossils and water of Lyme Regis. In this short story (under 300 pages, which seems to be a common denominator in last books read), the reader goes along for the fossil hunt and discovering skeletons from creatures previously unknown. This is early nineteenth century England, crocodiles are the height of exotic creatures.

It’s a novel for the senses, filled with a variety of female characters. It’s lovely.

Remarkable Creatures, Tracy Chevalier, Penguin Books 2010

Influence

I can admit it freely now.

The author admits that he’s been a patsy for his entire life. Luckily he doesn’t just knows that, but also knows how to get out of situations that try to use that weak spot of his for someone else’s profit.

There’s many ways to persuade, and many varieties of persuasion. Cialdini is a writing professor, making the set up of the book traditionally school book-ish. There’s an anecdote, data, a conclusion. That doesn’t mean that the material is dull, just a bit dense from time to time. A lot of what’s mentioned is recognisable (to me), but the addition of extra layers provide new information.

It took a few chapters before I really had an epiphany, but I guess that completely depends on what knowledge you start with. It’s an accessible insight to the human mind and action, and maybe one day – when buying a car for example – you can use it to get out of situations you’d otherwise be the patsy in.

Influence: the psychology of persuasion, Robert B. Cialdini, HarperCollins 1984

The Big Sick

124 min.

Hallelujah, another romcom. With some coming-of-age elements. And fish-out-of-water, because this romantic comedy largely involves an immigrant family in the USA. Which means there’s people of colour involved as well, score! I know this could be read as sarcastic, but I feel like romantic stories are even more often super white than other The-Big-Sick-postermovie genres.

Kumail and Emily meet when he’s doing a standup show, both decide that this meet up is going to be an one time thing.  Good thing we know there’s way too much chemistry between the two of them to believe that.

Romantic gestures, fights, breaks ups and make ups are (mostly) thrown aside for a much bigger game changer: Emily becomes seriously ill. How does a relationship work with/around that?

Kumail goes through some Life Lessons, while Emily is (more) fleshed out through the presence of her parents. It’s their chemistry that doesn’t make you ask too much questions, just look at the darn cute of them. The other characters are everything you need in a romantic comedy.

The Big Sick, FilmNation Entertainment 2017

The Wedding Party

110 min.

The world is a global village: how else would I have discovered a Nigerian movie (and had been able to watch it through Netflix, thanks Netflix)?

The-Wedding-Party-posterThe glorious years of endless amounts of fun romantic comedies seem to have come and gone, so I take everything recommended. It’s not essential, it adds some fun variety between everything Marvel churns out versus Oscar material. The Wedding Party was recommended with ‘Not as dramatic and all over the place and most Nigerian movies. And cute.’  So yes, sure, why not.
If this wasn’t ‘not as’, I’m curious about the usual level of hysteria and dramatics. Because in this movie there’s plenty of yelling, fake fainting, (muttered) insults and musical introductions. As in – families are introduced with dancing. This might be a regular Nigerian wedding thing, but it definitely changes up the well known wedding mile. Anyway, the drama has a valid reason (of course): the husband’s family doesn’t think his future wife is good enough for him, the wife’s family handles the insult with as much grace as a hippo in a mini pool.
It’s fun though. It’s loud and weird and kind of all over the place, but it’s clear what everyone’s place is and how this story is going to end. In case you need a romantic comedy, here you go.
The Wedding Party, FilmOne 2016

The Readers of Broken Wheel recommend

The strange woman standing on Hope’s main street was so ordinary it was almost scandalous.

Cutely annoying, not annoyingly cute (which I think is weird to say as both a negative or positive critique, by the way). And I say this because the main character takes her time with growing a spine and taking her place in the world, and that her surroundings are one-dimensional small town cliches for a while. This book needs a bit of your patience.

But darn it if it doesn’t turn out to be adorably charming, with just the right amount of quirk to save you from having to roll your eyes.

A Swedish tourist visits a small American town and stays. She comes alive, the town comes alive around her. There’s plenty of love for books, and a belief that there’s a book for everyone. There’s romance, on different levels.

And just like that, the fish-out-of-water plot turns into love-for-life. Life lessons for everyone, cuteness all around, a novel like a biscuit with unexpected great tasting filling.

The Readers of Broken Wheel recommend, Katarina Bivald, Chatto & Windus 2015

Consider the fork

A wooden spoon – most trusty and lovable of kitchen implements – looks like the opposite of “technology,” as the word is normally understood.

Now this is my kind of non-fiction, and not just because of the subject. Clearly written with fun and love for the subject, it’s the kind of books that makes you share facts with a smile. Not a school book, but a book of knowledge.

Consider the fork is about your kitchen, kitchens in the past, kitchens in the future. It’s about ways to prepare food, about utensils, about how certain foods and materials have influenced our diets and diets around the world. It explains why the Japanese are satisfied with using only one knife, while the Western world prides itself on a case full of them. Why the wok was for the poor, and why fridges were looked at with suspicion. It’s a history book through the kitchen.

Bee Wilson adds anecdotes, but never makes the story about her. It’s excitement and facts thrown together, making it a very tasty stew (no, I couldn’t resist such a corny metaphor).

Consider the fork, Bee Wilson, Basic Books 2012