Review of “The Turn” by Kim Harrison or “How to Eat a Tomato and Die.”

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The dress is tomato red, coincidence I think not.

Kim and me, we are/were buds.

No, not in real life kind of way. Entirely in the “author and rabid fan” kinda way. Her being the author and me being the rabid fan. Her writing is ordinarily fun and exciting with great characters and plot twists, and it isn’t Shakespeare. But, it doesn’t have to be, nor is it ever trying to be. Writing can be fantastic without it being serious or moral. It can just be. For me, her writing is the equivalent of a thick dark chocolate cake that happens to have zero calories and takes the trash out when it is done with you. Her stories make me happy, and we all need more of that in our lives.

However, here comes the sad second paragraph where I go on to say how her latest work has failed me. Authors get to have books that don’t quite shine as glossy as others. It’s alright. It is just a bummer for me because I look forward to her books coming out.

“The Turn” did not shine. I found the characters dull or interchangeably monstrous. AboutIt lacked a real protagonist. It lacked a real villain. The muddled gray areas of life are what everyday people deal with on a daily basis. You read a book like this to immerse yourself in a story to get away from whats real.

banner 2Firstly let us talk about pacing. It was boring. God, it was slowwww. The first 60% of the book is detailing the dreary lives of 1960 scientists working on genetics work. It is like Mad Men without the good stuff. Just men in suits and women in skirts. The last 40% of the book had slightly better pacing, but at this point, I hated the story so much that I was rushing to the finish line.

The characters. Gag me. The unfortunate and the narcissistic, both at the time and interchangeably moronic and monstrous. No one to cheer for, nor to give a shit about; the only saving grace was the pixie. I wanted to know more about her. That’s about it.

The only thing I can say that I liked, was the cameos from characters that are forthcoming. Al, and Quen. Fantastic. Al is very Al.  Quen seems much more emotional in this one. Unlike how stoic he is in the future.

My final verdict is to skip. Forget there ever was a prequel. Or, better yet read October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. Her series is still ongoing, and it is bloody and beautiful full of darkness and light. Not figuratively.

What am I doing this week to amuse myself? Jam, pickles, and a cubic Crap-ton of apricots

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This is my first installment of, “What am I doing this week to amuse myself?” Or as I like to call it, WAIDTWTAM. It’s a working title. Don’t judge.

The last few weeks I have been learning all I can about the semi-forgotten art of canning. Living in the pacific northwest, I have access to a lot of beautiful produce both from my own garden and other peoples gardens as I walk down the street. I kid. I kid. We have lovely farmers markets full of tattooed twenty-somethings that know how to sell a gorgeous tomato. I found myself in a situation of having too much produce in the fridge and it spoiling. So, I set out to learn some preservation techniques which I have been practicing the last few weeks. First of all, I am killing it on the jam front. Jams are my jam. Also, because I can’t do a single thing simply I fancy them up. I have made a spiced strawberry jam, a jelly made of coffee, kiwi jalapeno, raspberry and cardamon, apple whiskey Jam, and peach and rum. It seems like a lot for a family that hardly ever eats jam. It is. Every time I see someone, or an unsuspecting family member walks into my home; I shove a spoon full of jam down their gullet. It is getting to the point that people see me waving a spoon in their direction and they run for the coat closet.

While at my local grocery/produce stand I came across a box of apricots for 3.99. A BOX. It is about 15 pounds of sweet little stonefruits that taste like a peach dipped in honey. They are perishable as hell. I think they were the last of the apricots of the season and they needed to get them out of the store to make room for berries of all sorts. I was like, “Yes gimme! Give me all of the stone fruits so I may look at them and scratch my head.” I have literally spent more accidentally on freeze-dried bull-shit (real poop coming from a bull) from Cards Against Humanity then I would pay for 15 pounds of fruit.

I searched the wonderful world of Pinterest and found all of the recipes for apricots.

Here is the one I chose: (found at Canadian Crafter)

The recipe calls for:

3 Cups Sugar

1 Bottle of the cheapest Neutral Spirit

Apricots

I fancied it up with cinnamon sticks and I used brown sugar instead of white to give it a richer flavor.

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I started with a ton of apricots of various dented-ness.  Not great for eating, but who needs to eat when you are making schnaps.

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Add the most horrible vodka you own. “Tastes like poetry,” Tastes like hobo ass.

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Add brown sugar, stir into a slurry.

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Put apricots into jars with a single cinnamon stick.

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Pour slurry over apricots and cap. Sit on a shelf for a few months and let cure? or whatever. Let sit and get apricotty. I’ll check back when we open in three months and update. Happy drinking.

Review of “This Is a Taco!” by Andrew Cangelose, Josh Shipley (Artist)

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review!

Mmmmm. Tacos. Even the word by itself makes me drool a little. Who doesn’t like tacos, crazy people that’s who!? I can tell you who loves tacos and it is the squirrel.

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Image courtesy of goodreads.com

 

I think this just might be my favorite children’s book ever. I say children’s, but really this book can appeal to all ages. I bet it could get a chuckle out of even the most staunch adults who only read Proust in the original French. This book is so funny, and the illustrations are absolutely marvelous. It reminds me of the humor that one would find online in your weekly webcomics. Concise and to the point. It also breaks the fourth wall a bit, especially when dealing with tacos. So really win-win for all. I see many kids in the future and their parents getting many chuckles from the adventures of the squirrel.

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Review of “Inhuman” (Inhuman (Collected Editions) #1-3) by Charles Soule, Joe Madureira, Ryan Stegman, Pepe Larraz, Andre Araujo

inhumans-marvel-knights-1017842Soule, Charles, et al. Inhuman. Marvel Worldwide, 2016.

Content advisory: scattered F-bombs, some violence, and innuendo. (if you are a long time reader of this blog, you should be used to that.)

Let us start off by saying that we all agree that at one time there existed a tv

I looked for a great quote from the story that would exemplify how good the writing is. “Blah Blah”. I literally couldn’t find one.  B-

show called “Inhumans.” It was based loosely on the comic book characters of the same name. We can just say that the studio that brought forth this atrocity, has since seen the error of their ways and ripped it off of TV. I hate to be so harsh here, but it was as well acted as an episode of Xena the Warrior Princess without all the fun. The source material allows some interesting characters, and interesting they aren’t on the show.

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Must have more Lockjaw. Ahhh You are such a good boy. yes, you are.

Book wise, this is definitely not my favorite set of characters. I tried to like them. Or get attached to them in any way. The least I could say is that I didn’t give a shit about their existence or not. Save for the large pit bull, Lockjaw. Got to love pitties. I just didn’t get it. Maybe this series of stories is written for a younger audience or having stories this disjointed is just comic M.O. I get so lost reading them, even when reading them in the required order. You get little fleeting glimpses of the protagonist or antagonist dealing with the plot line. Then all the sudden another stupid character is waving his arms over here, and saying “look what I made for breakfast!” The reader is basically saying Da Fuq. What stories I could parlay into cohesive thought through manipulation of cross stupid plot lines still sucked and were vapid cheese. C’mon. we can do better here.

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Look at this shit. I mean c’mon. We can do better then this.

I will say however that the artwork is very good. Not Alex Ross, mind you. Just very good artwork that tells a story well. If I had to rate this it would be a solid 2 gorgon stomps out of 5. I finished this story arc, and I am not sure I will be jumping off into the next one. I may read more stories if they come up only to see if it could possibly get better.

What Skills Do You Have?

I am currently watching the TV show Sense8 (screw you Netflix for canceling) and freaking loving it. I have always have been a fan of the Wachowiski sisters. I saw Matrix 8 times at the theater, and I really adore Speed Racer. When I was watching Sesne8, I had an interesting thought based upon the plot.  As an individual, what skill have you cultivated? Who are you? In the story, they are eight very different individuals. Each has a very unique life experience. Each of them brings something to the table. My question is, what do you know how to do that other’s might not know about. sense8-clusters1

I have always been a bit fascinated by this thought. In a world full of people, hell, in a room full of people, we are the stars of our own movie or our own book. In that, we are the main protagonist of our lives. Each of us has gone down many branching paths that have led us to adopt, understand and try new things. Those branches lead an individual to become a combination of infinite things. So who are you, because I am a combination of millions of choices in my 37 years.

I am a tryer. To me, one of the coolest things in life is trying new things. I figure that if I try enough stuff I might come across something that makes my heart explode in delight. Or if it sucks really bad, that’s ok too. It is something new.  This is how I personally battle depression and anxiety. Which I have been dogged with for most of my life. But, that is another story.

So who am I? I am one who tries different things.

I can tell you a little about some things that I can do, and I am curious as a lover of stories, about things that you can do. Everyone has such great stories if they could only tell them. So tell me something. Here are a few about me:

I can juggle like a fiend. I used to work at IKEA in childcare, and it was boring. Boring and insanely stressful at the same time. The coworkers would sit with anonymous children for 8 hours a day and try and figure out things to do to entertain them. We also had a giant ball pit. All kids like playing with balls, and I discovered 99% of children love to watch juggling. It is magical to them. I watched a few youtube videos on basic juggling and taught myself to juggle over the course of a few weeks. I can now juggle 3 balls backward, forwards,  upside down, all sorts of ways. I can juggle 4 balls for a few seconds. But I quit Working there before I got to spend much time doing that. I am infinitely grateful IKEA because they gave me health insurance when my family really needed it, and an opportunity to learn to juggle while getting paid for it.

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Adam the Bawdy Juggler. Image Courtesy of http://www.adamthejuggler.com/imagepage.html

A little proud tidbit. I actually impressed Adam the Bawdy Juggler with my basic juggling skills. He taught me how to do Mills Mess. Well, he showed me Mills Mess, and I dropped all the balls on the floor. Repeatedly.

 

I have read a lot. (Well duh if you read this blog.) Books are this mysterious entity for me. So many stories, true or not, lay inside of flattened, dead trees. The thought itself is kinda magical. When I was younger, I carried a tiny little book inside my purse everywhere I went. It had lists of books that I would like to read. As I went along and read them, I crossed them off with a highlighter. Crossing something off became this fantastic cathartic happy inducing thing. I have graduated on to other means of tracking my lists, but the idea still fascinates me. Electronic means of tracking lists are not as satisfying as a little yellow book that you can carry. I might even go back to that. Very old school. I have read, as of today 1700 books. Of various lengths. That isn’t 1700, 500-page novels. Some were much longer, I am looking at you unabridged version of The Stand by Stephen King, and some were novellas. But Lists and books make my heart sing. Happy happy things.

The third thing I am mentioning today. I have a degree in Landscape Architecture that I do not use professionally but use it every day otherwise. Education is never a waste, and my knowledge has a daily effect on me. I hate when people say to me, “Wow your parents spent 40 grand on a degree that you don’t use. They must be so pissed at you.” First off, you’re a presumptuous prick. Secondly, I am sure my folks would love it if I got back into designing parks and stuff. But, a degree is not like a jug of milk. It doesn’t go bad, and you have to throw it away if you don’t use it. It took me seven years to get my degree. I think I got something out of it I can use on a daily basis. Stop being a prick.

Tell me what you like to do, or part of your story. I want to hear something about you. You are the protagonist, tell me something that changed your story as you lived it. I am all ears, or eyes because you know.. computer.

 

Obligatory apology – I haven’t written in a couple weeks. Every member of my family came down with Pneumonia or bronchitis at the same damn time. Every single one. It was like a damn plague swept through our homes. I have been too sick to get out of bed, let alone write and think. But I am feeling much better now. So here you go. 

 

You Can’t Go Home Again

 

 

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Image courtesy of visitlasvegas.com

When I stepped off of the plane last week and into my hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada, I was assaulted by a familiar cacophony of noise, blaring light, and a hair dryer worth of heat. I felt at both times exhilarated and full of dread although that dread had a helpful tinge of fondness and nostalgia. I left home eight years ago after living in Vegas for 30 years. I had to. I was out of a job, and my husband and I needed to live, so we ripped Las Vegas out of that place in our minds and hearts that held what home is and made for parts unknown. It was one of the most painful and scariest things I have ever done.

 

Now looking back, it is so odd. I am in a sorta limbo. Portland, my new home,  does not have the hometown feel that I used to get from Vegas, but Vegas doesn’t have it either. Vegas is so changed now that I get lost here. The vegas I new is now gone.

It is ok though. The new things to discover are like icing on a nostalgia cake. There are new restaurants, new parks, new things to try and do. So maybe you can’t come home again, because home is not a static place. It lives inside you, in your memories, with your family,  and your past. It has been quite the adventure. I will be here for another week due to a family emergency. Hopefully, I will have a chance between panic attacks to try some new exciting things. Here’s to hoping. Cheers.

 

 

 

Review of “Magic to the Bone” by Annie Bellett

29558243.jpgBellet, Annie. Magic to the Bone. Doomed Muse Press, 2016.

Content advisory: scattered F-bombs, some violence, and innuendo. (if you are a long time reader of this blog, you should be used to that.)

 

Holy crap on a cracker it is boss fight time, but before we get to that let’s talk about what we know beforehand and what is going on with the characters. (scattered spoilers ahead) First off we left our girl Jade Crow in the hands of her father. A Dragon, whatever the hell that means, to basically level up her character. She needs formal training badly. Her friends, the paper characters, are all back at the druid-ranch playing catch-me-if-you-can with Samir’s bodyguards and hired mercenaries. Her ex-boyfriend, the biggest jerkface on the planet, is about to try and make himself a god. He wants to bring back the era of high magic and gods and get rid of all of us puny mortals. Grand plans, but Jade can’t let that happen because of..reasons. We also know that the story arc is coming to head like a giant magical pimple. Most of Jade’s power derives from something deep down into her bones. This is generally glossed over in the first few books, she basically bounces around like she is a magical bubble. Now we know though that deep in her bones is the magic answer to her problems. I am going to try and not give too much away. But it rhymes with pragon. Plot wise it is almost a bit Deus ex machinea for me. She seems very much like an overpowered character in a beginning level. It is anti-climatic and rushed as hell.  Annie Bellet does try to set limitations on her training and power, but they are fuzzy and useless. The guidelines for being a sorceress have always been a bit mutable in this series, but this is ridiculous. What is the point of having the main character so overpowered that it really doesn’t matter? The boss fight that we have waited six books for is over so quickly and easily. There is no drama, at that point, you are really just going through the motions.

Now that I have almost finished this series, inexplicably there is another book, we can talk about how it feels overall. As far as a series goes, it feels a bit uneven. Some books were wow! Others, especially book seven left me feeling very flat. It was way too rushed to be enjoyable. To much has been taken for granted and the build-up really lost steam. What was the point of having all these subsidiary characters if they serve no purpose in the finale? They did nothing to offer anything to the story except a place for the main character to quip off of. It is really disappointing because the first novels were so exciting. One thing that the writer did do well kept to the very serviceable plot device of novice building and growing, discovering something badass about herself, and then killing the big baddy. I can think of a handful of series off the top of my head that does just that. Sookie Stackhouse, The Hallows, Illona Andrews, and even to some extent Dresden Files. It works as a plot device even though it isn’t refreshing.

I know that it sounds like I didn’t wholly like the book, that’s not true. I did like the book and in extension the entire series. Save for the eighth book. I am not even sure what I am supposed to do with that unless the author plans on another story arc. I liked the series, even if it was uneven and ended oddly. It is fun and a quick read. It allows you a couple of hours of fun. It is worth it.