Tag Archives: african geek

Let Them Die Like Lovers

Coming from the mind of Jesse Atlas, Let Them Die Like Lovers is everything you could want in a short film. High emotion, action, love, loyalty and questions of morality all come together to give you a 15 minute experience that you’ll want to have again and again.

I’m told that fans of Black Mirror will likely enjoy this bendy short, which manages to build up and tear down its central characters – two agents living in isolation in a remote wooded area – while making space to introduce us to a host of others who come and go quicker than summer rain showers. Never rushed, Let Them Die Like Lovers paces its action well, letting the audience to really get into the storyline. And what is this sci-fi short about?

A soldier jumps from body to body, but finds that her hardest mission is coming home.

Mood Rating: Do you have exactly 15 minutes in which you’d like to ponder the meaning of identity and the moral vagaries of state-sanctioned execution? Excellent! Watch Let Them Die Like Lovers.

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

The Boondock Saints

There are likely a myriad of reasons why this movie should have aged badly. And yet…

Since I first saw this movie in 2009, a full decade after its initial release, I knew that it would become one of those movies I watched over and over ad infinitum. Fast forward a decade and a year… and I’ve watched The Boondock Saints at least once a year since then, usually around St. Patrick’s Day because well, why not?

Let’s Play A Drinking Game

Seemingly made to see how many times the main characters could light a cigarette, swear, comically shoot someone, or kiss a cross on screen before becoming a caricature, The Boondock Saints was the first movie I ever tried to play a drinking game to. True story. Terrible decision, but true story. The rules seemed simple enough. Anytime the brothers light a cigarette, or swear, you take a swig of your drink. Anytime they kiss a cross, you down the cup.

You begin to see the problem, yes?

Needless to say, this flirtation with alcohol poisoning ended within the first half hour.

I’ve never since tried another drinking game with this movie, though I’ve tried to get others to play one, and lost a lot of people’s trust along the way. But hey, we do what we must to pass the pain along. So, with this ringing endorsement – what’s there to love about this feast of violence of testosterone? Lots of things! Let me count the ways….

  • This is a movie about family: we follow two brothers – twins, even! – as they stumble from danger to danger, dodging feds and mafioso alike. What holds them together and drags them through the thickest of plot inconveniences? Family! Who doesn’t love that?
  • Good triumphing over evil: many times, the thing that holds back the flood of sin and villainy isn’t the institutions meant to protect us, but average men and women who’ve decided that enough is enough. This movie is about two brothers who make that decision.
  • Willem Dafoe: what more do you need?

Sounds like good fun, doesn’t it? And yes, twenty years and change after its release, this movie is great fun. In fact, this movie voted in the poll that determined it to be good fun because even in the USA, The Boondock Saints is old enough that if it were a person it’d be allowed to vote.

Mood Rating: The Boondock Saints is the guy you dated in your early twenties. You have nothing bad to say about him, he was actually kind of great. But even then, you knew it wouldn’t work out. You still hang out every once in a while though, and you love every minute of it.

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

The Strife: Part Five

We’re revving up to the end of this run in The Strife. In this penultimate entry, we catch up with the actors in our play as they each prepare for the rite. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy the musings of Desire, Rava and our outmatched tribute, Zhevicra.

Continued…

Rava considered the idea presented by her most loyal servant and sole Fiend. For the Strife Lords to meet there had to be something very important happening; that much was true. But older gods? That seemed absurd. If older gods existed, why had they waited so long to reveal themselves? And why were they still alive? Strife Lords disliked each other, and there had been hostile takeovers amongst them, but they would never tolerate a threat from outside their ranks.

Desire, her Mother – because there were no other words to describe their relationship – could survive a lot. In Rava’s time and in the time before, She had survived a lot. Memories of the Strife War faded in and out of Rava’s mind and she remembered each incarnation Desire had donned and discarded in turn. The ally of humanity had become the scrappy outsider had become the ruthless traitor had become the shrewd diplomat. Each was Desire and each, Rava could be sure, was only the face of a deeper consciousness.

And with the coming rite, that consciousness would gain more power. More depth. And she would gain…

Rava rubbed her temples, suddenly again tired, and still recovering from the encounter with Desire. She closed her eyes and attempted to retreat into a place of more serenity but Malorus’s words rang in her head.

Not the oldest, apparently… 

Remembered…

Things were roiling. Things which hadn’t roiled in a long time. The Strife Lord now named Desire walked the corner of the earth She called Hers – visible to nothing except maybe the Roiling Things – and thought. She opened her mind, searched deeper, searched for that sensation which had reinstilled fear into the Strife Lords.

There it was, nestled beneath being. It defied closer inspection. Tonight. Tomorrow, when She had feasted on the elemental strength of the Earth itself, this fear would have edges that could be grasped.

Desire walked the borders of Her dominion. Several times, She brushed against the presence of neighbouring Strife Lord Serenity. He chafed in the way that those who are opposite to oneself often do. It reminded Desire that contemplation of the unknown could never be allowed to dwarf awareness of the known. Serenity overstepped his bounds, and the edges of his insolence were easily grasped, easily wrenched this way and that before being tossed back across the border.

“Wage war or maintain peace, you slithering wraith.” Desire spoke with power, permeating the soil. The air rippled in response. Acquiescence… and a hint of mirth.

Prepared…

Zhev had woken up several times in the middle of the night, restless and feeling as though somehow, the Strife Lord was watching him. It was insane, of course, but he couldn’t shake the feeling. People said many things about the Strife Lords and until his meeting with Desire he’d never paid much attention. It had all sounded a bit outlandish.

But with his own eyes he’d seen the Held in the lobby. His body had been invaded by foreign sensations he could not control and, even now, he felt as though there was some part of Desire still with him, curling that same strand of hair and yawning whilst watching him with inscrutable eyes.

How could he know for sure that this wasn’t the case?

The next morning, Zhev followed his normal routine as best he could. He prepared himself meticulously and put on his medal-strewn uniform, then went outside, where the same car from the day before waited for him. The drive seemed shorter this time, the changes in scene less noticeable and meaningful. He tried to distract himself with thoughts of the things he had seen. The Fiends at the doorway, the bored receptionist… the woman.

They came to a halt at that same strange building and Zhev stifled the urge to shiver. It was unbecoming, he scolded himself. Whoever that woman had been she was clearly none of his business and he was clearly no concern of hers. Zhev climbed smoothly out of the black car, which drove off silently. He looked up at the building and took a deep breath. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Desire smiled and curled her hair between her fingers. Zhev walked into the building.

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

The Strife: Part Four

It’s the first Sunday of the Month, and you know what that means… Story Sunday! (Okay, yeah every Sunday is Story Sunday, but you get my meaning)

We’re about to meet the lady with the changing skin. So enjoy, and catch you in the next installment!

Older gods

Rava sat in the still-warm chair and gazed impassively across the table at her mother, hiding her irritation at being summoned. Her skin’s constant shifting slowed to a calm rolling of shades and she relaxed her features, allowing the black rimming to fall from her eyes and display their lightening-streaked amber. Her lips were still pressed thin, though, which betrayed her feelings towards the Strife Lord. Through the centuries the two gods had come to a place of bored animosity towards one another, and now tolerated each other’s company without comment.

Desire straightened her back, showing her superior height and using it to full effect to look down at her daughter, who offered a barely perceptible yawn of defiance in return.

“Rava,” the Strife Lord’s voice reverberated freely now that she was with her own kind. It felt its way through the building, down into the Earth below and… almost… to the sky above, before echoing back slowly to her being and settling. Her use of the command roused something in Rava that forced her compliance.

“Yes, Mother.” Always the capitals, Rava thought privately, which itself was a show of power.

“Tomorrow you perform a rite.”

Rava smiled and didn’t care that it was the wrong way to express displeasure. “So soon after the last.”

Her body had only just recuperated from the effects of the rite performed just a few months earlier. She reached out, trying to make a connection with some part of her mother’s presence and was violently rebuffed. Rava put a hand to her head, which throbbed painfully several times before leaving her with an unpleasant fuzzy sensation.

“I don’t appreciate your insolence, girl.” The Strife Lord thought of very few with capitals, Rava knew this. Still, the disrespect chafed, and she laughed.

“I’m over a millennium old.” Rava chuckled her response, allowing her echo to resonate. “And if I’m to be the vessel for Your power, I’ve every right to want to know why.”

Desire’s huff boomed in the room, turning Rava’s dull fuzziness into sensory confusion for a moment. She was much weaker than she’d initially thought, she realised. Or else her Mother had gained far more from the last rite than she’d been letting on. Either way, the display sent its message and Rava bowed her head in grudging defeat.

Satisfied with the lesser god’s behaviour, the Strife Lord ventured to be gracious. “There’s a meet in three months. I must be strong.” She offered. “Which means You must be strong, Daughter.” A rare admission of dependence, the type which kept Rava assured of her necessity. Small sacrifices, Desire thought.

She allowed her daughter a brief glimpse of the dangers they both faced at this coming meet, siphoning emotions from Rava’s consciousness at the same time. Her ruse worked and she felt her daughter’s reluctance fade away. As much as Rava disliked her mother, she also understood that she was nowhere near as powerful, or as cunning. It was in her best interests to keep Desire in her seat of power, even if it took its toll.

“Is he the giver?” Rava’s question betrayed her interest in the man she had just seen. She watched her Mother closely and saw no obvious signs of disapproval. Instead, Desire shifted in her seat, stroking her neck absently.

“Yes,” came the confirmation. “And after the rite you may keep him, if you wish.” The older god waved a dismissive hand, and Rava took her cue to leave without another word.

Exiting into the waiting area, she could still sense the residual presence of the man. It was unusual, but Rava thought nothing more of it as she walked to the elevator. She got off on the 79th floor and strode past her own secretary without a sideways glance. Once in her office though, she paused, then cooed in irritation, “Come out, Fiend.”

Rava heard the steps before she saw his form appear, striding from her desk. Malorus extended his arms and pulled Rava into an embrace so intimate that she felt a rush from the energy surging from him. When he released her, she moved to sit behind her desk, and he took his place in the chair across.

Malorus’s eyes shone with mischief and he flashed her a charming smile, but it seemed to have no effect. “So cold, mistress.” he teased. “Shall I warm you… Tonight, perhaps?”

Rava suppressed a sneer. “You flatter yourself; any warm body will suffice.” She leaned closer. “Besides, what warmth have you left?” She gave a small laugh then leaned back. Malorus adjusted his tie and sighed. Unlike the gods he served, his tics and mannerisms were very much based in the human nature his ancestors had packed on through generations of intermingling.

“I have news,” he said. “The Strife Lords are having a meet…”

“In three months, I know.” Her eyes asked what use he was.

Malorus blinked, recalibrated, then continued. “Something’s got them all very worried. Word on road is it’s the old Gods.”

Rava grimaced momentarily. “The Strife Lords are the old gods.”

“Not the oldest, apparently.” His smile was genuine, pleased with itself and with its wearer for still being useful. Useful lived, useful held private audiences with the Ravening god.

Malorus didn’t have long to idle in his usefulness. His mistress stood slowly from her chair, her skin shifting through degrees of human colouring, her eyes rimmed gold. “You remain my favourite Fiend, Malorus.” She said this as she came to stand behind him. Her hands rested on his shoulders and applied the barest pressure. The pause seemed to demand a response, so he gave one.

“Thank you, seems appropriate?”

“Indeed.” Her hands smoothed the fabric on his suit, down his arms. They stopped just before his elbows and Rava leaned down to speak her command into his ear. Even before her words came, he thought he felt the slightest shift in atmosphere, a tinge of wet earth in the air. “Keep yourself warm, Fiend.”

With that, Rava released him, body and mind. She heard him leave through the back door, pondered his loyalty a moment before turning her mind to more pressing concerns.

What was older than the Strife Lords?

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

Six Works of SFF Short Fiction that Defy Convention

Anthology time! Curated by Thea James for Tor.com and written by diverse, award winning voices, this collection of short stories is nothing short a work of art,.

This collection is excellent, the fine dining multi-course of science fiction and fantasy a good date with a great imagination would take you to. Even the weakest of the stories (I’m not telling which one that was), lends something to the tableau that makes the whole a joy to take in at once. All the stories are short enough to consume on a break or between tasks, and I’m sure whenever it is you finish the last one, it’ll be with that familiar feeling of loss that accompanies finishing a great book. The stories are all unexpected, sometimes disturbing, mostly mysterious and all so wickedly smart I kept repeating “wow” under my breath.

The best thing about these stories is that they capture my favourite part of fantasy and science fiction: where the magical or fantastic is mundane and almost part of the background, right up till the minute it’s not. Fans of authors like Sarah Addison Allen, Nnedi Okorafor and Sherri S Tepper – all skilled at presenting the magical not as anomalies, but as natural as grass or delightful as a sunny day – will really enjoy the short stories here.

MOOD RATING: The Tor.com compilation article does a good job of explaining a bit of each plot before each story, but honestly the best way to read each is to just go in blind and be surprised at what you find inside. Happy reading!

Author

Delight, AKA Zizi Guru, is a fan of films that go bump in the night. Find her snarking on Twitter @Izeze

The Strife: Part Three

It’s that time again and we’re picking up right where we left off. What’s waiting for Zhev behind that door? A well-deserved reward or something more akin to what he saw in the lobby?

Enjoy, and I’ll catch you on the other side!

Desire

The two men eyed Zhev impassively and allowed him to step through the now-open door. Within it the scene changed. The lighting of Strife Lord Desire’s office wasn’t nearly as stark as that in the rest of the building and seemed to radiate warmth. Zhev stepped in and the door clicked shut behind him, causing Desire’s gaze to shift to where he stood. She smiled, though there was nothing resembling joy in the expression.  

Strife Lords did not experience emotion in any way which humans could understand and, he’d heard, any emotion displayed on their faces was an acquired reaction. That was something else he’d never really believed, but after seeing the Held in the lobby, he was beginning to wonder what else was true about Strife Lords.

“Come, sit.” Desire motioned to the chair in front of her and Zhev crossed the space to it swiftly, trying not to look over-eager. Silence fell as Desire studied him, wearing her same smile. Zhev resisted the urge to shuffle about uncomfortably under her scrutiny, but only just. Then she leaned back and seemed to stifle a yawn.

“Zhevicra, D.” She commented.

“Yes, Strife Lord.”

“You’ve done commendable works in my service.” Her voice was like nothing he’d heard before and he couldn’t quite make out whether it was female, male, some mixture of both or neither. It sounded, ridiculously, like… Earth… moving?

“Thank you, Strife Lord.”

“Tell me,” she continued, almost cutting him off. “Does it pain you to harm your fellow man?” Her eyes glittered with what he would have called malice in a human. Zhev considered the question. Of all the things he’d ever felt whilst interrogating people he doubted that pain was one of them. Perhaps disgust was the closest approximation.

“No, Strife Lord.” He concluded.

She took a long pause which seemed less like purposeful intimidation, and more like she’d forgotten his existence. “And why not?” The Earth moved again.

“They disobey the natural order of things.”

Desire seemed pleased with his answer, her smile beginning to resemble something more genuine and she shifted gracefully in her chair, taking a curl of her hair in hand and caressing it. Zhev thought she looked like a cat, languid yet vigilant, ready to explode in a disproportionate display of power at the slightest provocation. She certainly didn’t seem very human, though she’d chosen for herself a very curvaceous form and wore little to hide it from the world. Zhev wondered if she was capable of feeling cold as he noted that the temperature of the room had him rubbing his hands together for warmth. Desire continued to watch him intently and he attempted to avoid her gaze when it roamed to his face.

He knew that almost all who saw Desire fell under some strange spell of lust for her, and he’d anticipated the event. Yet now, as he sat and took in the scent and sight of her he felt nothing more than the mundane, mostly conditioned stirrings which were so much a part of his life he hardly ever noticed them anymore. The Strife Lord seemed to pick up on his thoughts and laughed softly. She leaned closer to him. “I’ve no need to cast spells,”

She let the curl she’d been toying with fall from her fingers and twirled her hand gracefully. “Do you not know my name? I am desire.” Rocks somewhere underneath the Earth were grinding, grinding, grinding against one another. How could he hear that? Was he hearing that? Or Her? “If I chose it, you’d be abasing yourself simply for the privilege of breathing this air.” Desire held out a hand, accentuating her point by sending a small shiver of longing through Zhev’s body.

The move felt like what it was – the cheap parlour trick of a magician who called the cosmos her stage.

Still, the alien sensation jarred Zhev, who leaned deep into the back of his chair, recoiling from her and from his own body. He wondered if this was all it had taken to rouse Desire to enough anger to Hold those who now decorated her lobby. In the time it took Zhev to regain control of himself, the Strife Lord had fallen silent, and looked contemplative. She shifted her gaze to him again and yawned, taking a curl of hair back between her fingers and twisting.

Zhev stifled the urge to shift in his seat.

“You’ll undergo the rite tomorrow.” She said. “I don’t recommend you do anything strenuous, tonight.” Voice flat like clay disks, eyes laughing like streams. “You must be strong, to survive.” And now, again, grinding rocks.

Assuming that to be the end of their meeting, Zhev got up, bowed deeply and moved to the place where he remembered the door to have been, again trying not to appear hurried. His heart beat loudly in his ears and a chill crept into his mind and then outward to his fingers. The wall parted silently and Zhev suppressed a gasp when he saw the figure on the other side.

She was similar to the Strife Lord in some manner he didn’t understand, since they looked nothing alike. She wore a severe black dress, her skin and features appearing to fade in and out of the various shades of human complexion. Her hair, which was every colour and possibly none, was pulled neatly into a ponytail and swayed like a whip as she moved past him. Zhev took a sharp breath when she cast him a sideways glance, and it suddenly seemed imperative that he leave before he lost… something. Something vital and alive.

So he willed his legs out of their langour, and walked out of the Strife Lord’s office. As the door clicked again behind him, he breathed out a lungful of air he hadn’t been aware of holding.

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

XX Film Review

February is the month of love, right? Wrong. Get your fear on with these four shorts from horror anthology XX, available on Netflix for chill, or DVD if you’re into that.

Why do I love horror shorts?

The format allows us to get straight into the heart of the matter without the distractions of too much character building (I really don’t care about your yin yang relationship with your mysterious twin Gertrude, I just want to see you scream and lose your mind from being haunted by a little Japanese poltergeist) or any of the other fluff and padding they apply to full length horrors these days. (I’m judging you, endless American remakes)

Featuring stories created by women, XX presents some less-explored recurring themes: motherhood, sisterhood, and the female gaze. The first story, by far my favourite, is called The Box, and is based on the short story by the same name by Jack Ketchum. In this story, the focus is on the mother, an affluent white woman with the perfect little family of boy, girl and husband, who slowly starts to lose them one by one because of a mysterious box her son looks into whilst on the subway one day.

The family share a secret that they keep from her, and her role as mother is first eroded by each member’s continued resistance to eat, and then to include her on the mysterious malady affecting them. In the end she is left alone, without the things and people she used to define herself, desperately searching for the man with the box so that she too, can find her end. It’s haunting, disturbing and a perfect modern existential question: who are we as women, without those we were trained to serve and bring up?

The second story, The Birthday Party, attempts to lighten the mood with the funny but macabre story of a mother desperate to give her little girl the Instagram-worthy, Pinterest-inspired party of her dreams. There is only one problem: a man, implied to be mom’s lover and/or the father of the girl has quietly died whilst at his desk in their home. Hilarity ensues in the most horrible way as the hapless mother tries to cover it up but ends up traumatising the birthday girl and every other child in attendance, for life.

The most visually and atmospherically scary short follows, Don’t Fall, which centres on a sister out on a camping and climbing trip with her brother and some friends. She’s the most sensible and fearful of the group: the first to nope it out of there when the ubiquitous mysterious cave drawings are found; and – [redacted]. Watch and decide yourself what you think.

The whole film is brought full circle with the same theme we first encountered: a box, in the sad and unsettling Her Only Living Son. What to do as a doting and devoted single mother when you begin to suspect something is very wrong with your child? What about when everyone insists it’s not as bad as you’re making it out to be? What about when you find a box in your son’s closet that confirms everything and more? Can a mother’s love change a monster, or does love remain steadfast no matter what her child has become?

MOOD RATING:A solid, if slightly too serious, and limited anthology. I do love the change that the female gaze gives to even that most cliché horror settings, and I definitely will aim to look for more. Hopefully with more storylines outside of sad mothers and desperate image-focused women. But hey, baby steps are how we all began.

Author

Delight, AKA Zizi Guru, is a fan of films that go bump in the night. Find her snarking on Twitter @Izeze

The Strife: Part Two

Happy Sunday, all!

This week we get into the story itself. You’ve already read about the beginning, and have a cryptic letter written by a dying man… but what does that have to do with anything? Today, you’ll start to find out.

Enjoy, and see you next week for the next episode.

Preparations

Those who dared to speak of such things insisted that there was a time when the Strife Lords did not rule the world. They said that once, humans were free to govern themselves and that in those times, life had been good and peaceful. Because people, they insisted, are good and kind and peaceful.

This had not been Zhev’s experience of his fellow man. In fact, if he was any indication, the reign of the Strife Lords had done nothing more than channel human cruelty.  And so it mattered little whether there had been a life ‘before’ them. Zhev enjoyed his position of power over other people and noted, with scorn, that the only ones daft enough to say such things were those who had no power themselves.

All these things whirled around in Zhev’s head as he washed himself in preparation for the day to come. Born the runt of a family of six, he’d always been treated as though he was worthless and had been fully expected to die when he joined the ranks of Strife Lord Desire’s army. But instead, his subtle brand of cruelty had distinguished him as a man gifted in extracting truths from those who’d rather not speak them. This was where he’d heard many of these foolish sentiments voiced: from would-be conspirators and failed saboteurs.

He thought over his many interrogations, his many successes, and his heart filled with pride. He richly deserved the reward he would receive today.

Zhev scowled as he opened the doors to his scant wardrobe. Until now he’d needed, and wanted, little more than his uniforms and a few sets of clothes in which to train. For this occasion, he’d had a suit tailored and now looked at it with disappointment. Unlike those worn by the Fiends who’s ranks he aspired to join, Zhev’s suit lacked command and did nothing at all for his impressive form. He cast it aside, deciding it would be best to dress in something more familiar. Carefully he clothed himself in the uniform of an Interrogator. The red collars were decorated with all his many medals which he polished every week to keep in spotless condition.

Zhev looked himself over in the lone mirror which hung in his apartment and nodded approval. The uniform impressed upon all who would pass him both his rank and his stature, which, taken together, made him a rather menacing figure. He strode down the corridors of his apartment complex with his head held high, defying any to look him in the eye as they passed. None did, and he made his way undisturbed to the street.

There, a black car waited to transport him to the Strife Lord’s offices in Sector A. Zhev took in all the sights around him keenly as the car made its way slowly down the streets. A partition separated him from the driver so there was nobody to disturb his silent self-aggrandisement. When the car came to a halt, Zhev let himself out and found that he stood before a building which had no windows and no doors. The structure seemed to be composed of a metallic glass and when he approached it, a section slid silently open before him to reveal a massive entranceway. Zhev stepped in, trying to hide his awe.

Statues dotted the hall, which stood devoid of any other furnishings. Wondering how such human-esque figures had been made, Zhev stepped close to one and realised that it was a human, held perfectly still by some… something. He’d heard that the Strife Lords had the power to do such things but had never truly believed it. He shuddered, chastised himself for it, and continued on his path to the elevators, which he only knew to be there because of the black trim denoting the doors. As he approached, one set of doors slid open. He stepped in, and they closed behind him. He searched around for the button to the 80th floor and only realised after the doors opened again that the elevator had been moving. So, Strife Lord Desire did have a flair for the dramatic, Zhev smiled to himself. Seemed that sometimes, people were correct.

And why not? he thought. If he owned everything within sight he’d have a certain flair, too.

Zhev stepped out into a foyer. His shoes clipped out a rapid staccato as he walked to a desk where a secretary sat, looking both intensely absorbed in and bored by her work. He cleared his throat and she looked up at him. Her eyes, he noted, were purple. She wasn’t human. And neither were the two men who stood guard outside the entrance to Desire’s office, their silver hair lying slick against their heads. The secretary looked down, clicked away at her computer, looked up and nodded, more to herself than him.

Zhev had long ago mastered the nervous need to fill awkward silences, and that was just as well because he didn’t think this woman would respond if he spoke. So he held her eyes, she held his, and held. And held. Finally, she told him he could go in and then was once more absorbed in her tasks.

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

Four Weddings and a Funeral

Sporting an amazing soundtrack, this 2019 TV adaptation of the (arguably) classic 1994 movie of the same name is the best is just about the best thing you can waste some hours watching this leaping month of love.

Why? Well, for many reasons, not least amongst them being that the show is actually really funny, in that painful I’m-in-this-Tweet-and-I-don’t-like-it kind of way that good comedy tends to be.

I did mention the amazing soundtrack, right?

Our cast stars Game of Thrones alum Nathalie Emmanuel alongside the instantly endearing Nikesh Patel. Nathalie’s ever-flawless hair and Nikesh’s patently unfair dimpled smile could have ensured this show’s watchability by themselves. But no, they had to add fuel to the fire with screen-melting chemistry and one of the best supporting casts I’ve ever had the pleasure of secondarily caring about.

As with the original film, this 2019 TV rom-com centres around the lives of a group of friends as they navigate the late stage of their youth and all the associated joys and heartaches that come with. You’ll get to witness, of course, four weddings which have varying levels of success; and one funeral which will break your heart then warm the jagged pieces with a good bit of football hooligan fun.

Nathalie Emmanuel plays Maya, a driven, brilliant young political speechwriter who’s escape from a complicated situation with her boss comes in a form of a holiday in England where she’s attending her best friend’s wedding. Because life doesn’t hand you just one lemon at a time… she arrives at the end of her journey only to find that her bag’s been lost.

Don’t you just believe in these two already??

Enter Kash, who’s at the airport being a dutiful son and trying to get his dad to eat something healthy for lunch. His good deed is punished when said dad volun-tells him to assist the screeching American (because it’s always an American) by taking her down to the depot and finding her incredibly nondescript black travel bag. The pair start off rocky then everything smoothes out and even becomes pleasant as they chat about life, tell a couple lies and fall under the spell of the aforementioned screen-scorching chemistry.

But happy beginnings don’t really make for interesting storylines, do they? So everything goes predictably topsy-turvy as a series of events unfold which help the cast realise that: the K in Kash is very important; open lines of communication with college conquests is a good thing; sometimes the shot you shoot is an airball and that’s okay; and love is rarely, if ever, convenient.

MOOD RATING: Well worth the time it takes to watch, Four Weddings and a Funeral will take you on a roller coaster ride of feelings, tears, sobs and laughs and drop you right back where you started with a burning desire to go visit your old friends and live some new good times. Don’t believe me? The trailer will convince you!

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

Three Parts Dead

From Max Gladstone’s website:

A God has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb.  Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.  Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in.  Her only help is Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead God, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.

But when the duo discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and the city’s slim hope of survival.

I came across Three Parts Dead a few weeks ago when I searched for something along the lines of “What to read if you’re in The Broken Earth withdrawal”. Google, being all-knowing as it is, spat out several interesting suggestions, and I couldn’t help but click on the link that mentioned lawyers riding lightning bolts and resurrecting gods (because… really?!). Falling somewhere in the general realm of urban fantasy territory, the debut novel in The Craft Sequence series seemed like a book that might just wow me, so I bought it and got stuck in.

Friends – you need to read it.

World-Building

As the first published entry (but not chronologically the first story in the series) this book packs in a lot of information about its setting, and manages to never once fall into the trap of info-dumping. From the first scene, where our heroine is literally thrown out of a flying building into a desert, to our introduction to gods and how they work, Three Parts Dead simply keeps it moving along, trusting the reader to understand and sort the information being given. Gladstone manages to straddle the line between informing and badgering his reader through effective use of dialogue, and character perspectives. What the priest knows, our novice Craftswoman Tara Abernathy does not – so he explains. What Tara knows, priest-technician Abelard does not – so she explains. And in this way you’re introduced to a brilliant new world of weird.

Characterisation

No matter what genre you’re writing in, making your characters believable is no walk in the park. They may all exist as fully fleshed out beings in your mind as the writer, but getting that across to the reader without overwhelming them… well.

But just as with his world-building, Max Gladstone works to deliver a main and supporting cast of characters who are their own people (and gods, and entities in between). Their motivations are entirely their own, and he builds his story around them. So when we get to the conclusion of our caper, and all is revealed (wow, are there some revelations going on) you sit there and think… ‘oh yeah, that makes perfect sense, actually. Of course these folks would do that!’

Plot

For much of the story, I was happy to sit back and coast along on the tide of excellent storytelling. Then I’d stop and think… ‘hold on. That’s odd. I could have sworn… oh. OH.’

And really… that’s the best kind of storytelling. Read this book!

A representation of me trying to piece things together VS when they finally come together
(Photos by @mwabonje on pexels.com)

Honourable Mention: Describing Diverse Characters

There is a certain fear that one feels when one sees the kind of beautiful cover art that Three Parts Dead has. Immediate memories of fumbling attempts in creative writing classes where people described Black hair as everything from ‘wiry’ to ‘ coiled like tiny snakes’ (true story) only to see the picture they were trying to paint and think… Am I being Punk’d?! I’m not even going to go into all the things that I’ve read and heard any skin tone darker than an eggshell be compared to. Let’s just say “like fresh mud” is on the better end.

So how excellent was it to get to the end of this book and realise that I’d been given, through narration, self-description and character perspectives an image of what each character looked like and not once cringed? Very excellent, I tell you. Which is no small part of why I’ve decided to read the whole Craft Sequence. So, kudos for not being cringe to Mr. Gladstone.

Mood Rating: First of all, read this book. Second of all, be wowed. Third of all, read the rest of the series. And drink water.

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

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