Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Book of Life

You got peanut butter in my chocolate!  No, you got chocolate in my peanut butter!  Wait, they taste great together!  This is the main premise of this book.  Of course, replace peanut butter with "witches" and chocolate with "vampires." Now if I recall, the original Reece's Cup commercial has a person walking down the street holding a chocolate bar colliding with someone walking down the street with an open jar of peanut butter.  Who does that? La..di..da…walking in the street with an open peanut butter jar and spoon.  Sicko.

Anyway, if you liked the first two books, you'll be happy this one wraps up the whole series.  It is very plot heavy and there is some kind of crisis going on the whole time.  Our main character, the witch Diana, still has her familiar, a firedrake named Corra.  I don't think people in this book are reacting correctly to seeing a miniature dragon hanging out in the light fixture. Even if  you are a witch or vampire I think you would hear, WHAT IS THAT? Oh, and it can burst out of her body and get subsumed by her body too. I would have to say something along the lines of : "Um, did you just have a miniature dragon burst out of your torso?"

It turns out the familiar is not the only thing that she keeps in her body, by the end of the book her body is more like Carrot Top's prop trunk than anything else.  Crisis crisis crisis, it turns out she is the witch of the millennium, the one we have all been waiting for, the vampire still loves her, the end.  Actually, its not a bad read if you don't mind a little junk food, which is appropriate considering Reece's Cups are my favorite junk food.

Deborah Harkness still loves her wine so her vampires love wine too.  They are rich so they can afford Chateau Lafite and wines that cost more than my car (considering my car is 15 years old--you probably have wine that costs more than my car).  Anyway, drink with a nice Claret or dark wine like a Burgundy.  With a miniature dragon at your feet, of course.

Monday, November 17, 2014


If you are ever reading a weird sci-fi, fantasy/dystopian novel that makes an allusion to sentient plants do not, do not, try to make dinner by cutting a squash.  That thing was both stronger and smarter than me.  First of all, the skin was like Kevlar, I mean how sharp of knife do I need?   Second, I couldn't get my knife through the thing; I was banging the squash like a bludgeon against the kitchen counter.  I'm pretty sure it was laughing at me.  Hey squash, next time you're getting poked all over and burned alive, jerk.

Annihilation is the first in a series of The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer.  Our narrator is a woman on a mission to Area X and only known as "the biologist."  (In our world we refer to them as smart-people-who-don't-get paid-enough-for-their-education-people.)  Area X is a government controlled place where all kinds of freaky and scary things happen.  Think Island of Dr. Moreau meets Lovecraft with some Lost and every nerdy iteration of what can happen in an Eden-like environment.  It's a super tiny book, and a part of a three part series.  They go so fast I could read the next two in the time I can sew on a button.  Considering that my "to be mended" pile ends up in the "Hey, I should really do that but I'll probably never see that thing again" pile, I think that's likely....very likely. 

Why not drink with an Eden Cocktail?  There are a number of Eden-like or "garden of Eden" cocktail recipes that sound really gross.  Eden is supposed to be idyllic, what God would allow a cocktail with both Peach Schnapps and Mountain Dew in one drink?  Not even a Deuteronomy "you've been bad" type God would allow that.  This one sounds much better:  2 oz. of good vodka, 1/2 oz St. Germain, 1&1/2 oz. pressed apple juice (apple--get it?--also, I think apple cider would work just fine).  Put these ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake and strain into a taller glass.  Top with tonic water and then garnish with an orange zest twist. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Tale for the Time Being

What is going on Japan? I mean, I know living on an island makes for some weird culture, England has its mastery of fart jokes, Iceland has Bjork and Australia has hideous, hideous boots. C'mon Japan, why are all your female characters in distress?  Is this like, a thing? I guess it is because Tale of Genji was published about 1000 years ago. I noticed Japan likes cats on the internet--can the next 1000 years ring in a Japanese internet cat millennium instead? (I think it's started).

A Tale for Time Being is a frame story about one character, an author named Ruth (whose life seems just like the real author named Ruth, except a slightly more boring version), who finds a Japanese girl's dairy washed up on the beach on a small Canadian island in the Pacific. Our Japanese girl, Nao, wrote a diary that is interesting but disturbing. She's a suicidal victim of extreme bullying (and other tragedies).  Ruth Ozeki is a Canadian-American author who lived in Japan for a while. She picked up some Murakami style weirdness while she was there.  There is less spaghetti cooking in this book. There is beer and coffee drinking though, so partial credit.

This book has a lot of different stuff, Zen Buddhist nuns, kamikaze pilots, Alzheimer's, the 2011 tsunami, dream traveling, quantum physics, multiple universes and some clam digging. Clam digging is not a euphemism, real clam digging. I picked this for my book club, the subject matter may make the discussion more serious than I anticipated.  My hope is that when you have a situation (or person) that is a comedy black hole, sometimes, just sometimes, you get a gamma ray burst of hilarity.  Fingers crossed.

At the risk of being a bit "on-the-nose" why not drink with a Japanese Cocktail?  Seriously, there is a classic cocktail with that name (it's from a famous olden times cocktail book) it does sound pretty yummy:  2 ounces brandy, 1/2 ounce orgeat, 2 dashes Angostura bitters.  Stir with ice, strain and garnish with a lemon twist.  What the heck is orgeat you ask?  It's an fancy almond syrup.  It can be hard to find a decent version but its one of those things you can make on your own.  Serious eats has a recipe: