Wednesday, July 20, 2016

City of Saints and Madmen

With giant sentient squid, "mushroom dwellers," (whatever those are) and general weirdos this is a nutty book. I'm not not at all.  Like Perdido Street Station, City of Saints and Madmen is set in a crazy world where anything is possible and possibly dangerous...very dangerous. In fact, if Ambergris was a real City-State the State Department would put it on the list of places with a travel warning like this: The State Department warns travelers that violent crime is pervasive during the Festival of the Freshwater Squid.  Also, you should be aware if you see red we literally mean red flags....these are signs that the elusive but possibly violent mushroom dwellers are sleeping nearby. Travelers should be wary of spontaneous mushroom growth, because the State Department believes that just can't be good.  

This book is a collection of interconnected (kind of connected) short stories about the city of Ambergris, the city is actually a squid port unlike what my husband calls the waterfront in Toledo. It's very well written and contains a super cool world Jeff Vandermeer creates but dang it.... short stories... just when I'm trying to get into a plot and it either gets resolved real fast, story's over, or it's like, what's happening (squints eyes)? That's the only negative to this book. It has humor, weird stuff, a little gore and violence. Good stuff.

OMG is is super hot right now.  I've been drinking my weight in Dark and Stormys (Stormy in not normally plural--except it in this case-- it totally is).   Anyway, read this with...a Frozen Dark and Stormy: Blend 2 cups ice in a blender with a juice of one lime, a tablespoon of fresh ginger, and one can or bottle of ginger beer. Blend until smooth and pour into two glasses.  Top with two ounces of rum (the darkish kind) it will make this pretty ombre effect. Enjoy the goodness.  

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Memory Wall

This is not the book version of a summer blockbuster action romp. Still with me?  Yeah, I get sick of those too sometimes (well, quite a bit). I know someone who is a Marvel "enthusiast." He probably feels that the box office numbers affirm his worldview. He lives in a Marvel bubble.

Memory Wall has six short stories, well more like four short stories book-ended by two novellas. The two novellas are excellent. The first story has just a tiny touch of sci-fi/dystopia and the last story just a hint of the paranormal. The short stories in the middle ranged from meh to ugh.

Now, these stories are a little sad so if you are sensitive, just lost someone, or someone close to you is super sick then maybe you should skip this. Hey, this is a poignant look at the fragile human condition dammit.

Anthony Doerr is the same author of All the Light We Cannot See. I enjoy his writing. I just gave up on another book that had this really unusual writing which some people really like but as soon as I realized that it sounded exactly like Bigfoot writing the copy for a Coors Light commercial....well, you just can't get past that. I won't tell you which book that is as it will completely ruin it for you.

It's pretty hot out so read this with a Porch Swing (which is a lot like a Pimm's Cup):  1&1/2 ounces of gin, 1&1/2 ounces of Pimm's 1, 1/2 cup lemonade (preferably homemade as you can adjust the sweetness), some lemon-lime soda, and thinly slice cucumber.  Pour the gin, Pimm's and lemonade into a tall glass with ice and then add a splash of the lemon-lime soda. Add the cucumber slices.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Magician: Riftwar Saga Books 1 and 2.

I was tricked.  Not with this book. No, this book is exactly what you think it is....wizards, elves, court intrigue, this is classic high fantasy.  No, I was reading a brand new book labeled fantasy but I should have investigated further.  It had no magic.  The "hero" was an accountant. It was like a young hot Janet Yellen undermining a country's economy...I'll show you...I'll print more money causing inflation. C'mon--no magic but your power is usury? Some people are into freaky stuff like that.

The Riftwar Saga is a tetralogy, a.k.a a four part series. It's a Dungeons and Dragons world but with a twist. There is a cosmic rift in the universe where aliens are invading through the portal and they have wizards too. Yes! You can read books one and two if you don't want a four book commitment as there is a natural resolution to the plot.  Book three has the same characters but with a new story-line.  So far I really like this series.

Raymond Feist made an entire career writing this series.  He published the first book shortly after undergrad the early 80's (it was based on his college D&D games) and finished the last of this series about two years ago.  Yeah, 30 books in this series.  Apparently he's never sold the rights for a movie or series but if they ever do this it will need a little makeover as the female characters are not strong enough.  I guess there is one princess that is pretty tough, I guess, but the women are kind of lame.  There is an Elven queen that ends up with an emotionally abusive husband. I'm thinking: YOU ARE AN ELVEN QUEEN--KICK THAT LOSER TO THE STUMP! (Elves don't really have "curbs" so I had to improvise). It turns out that the husband is actually a nice guy he just had some magical clothing that was turning him into a world-class a-hole.  In his defense, I've had some ill fitting shoes that could have taken me down that path.

Hey it's summer and my basil is up. Why not read this with a Strawberry Basil Bourbon Lemonade? This is enough for a crowd (8 drinks). It's a little work but here it is: 1 lb. strawberries, 1 and 1/2 cup sugar (more or less to taste--the original recipe says 2 cups but I don't like drinks too sweet) 1 cup bourbon, 1 cup ice cold water, 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, 1 ounce bitters, 12 basil leaves and 8 basil springs. Pulse the strawberries and 1/4 cup of water in a food processor and add this puree to the medium saucepan over medium heat and heat until the mixture just begins to boil.  Take off the heat and let cool completely.  Strain and chill in fridge for about a hour. In a large pitcher combine the syrup, water, bourbon, lemon juice, and bitters.  Stir for one minute and add the basil leaves and stir to combine. Strain into 8 tall glasses with ice and garnish with a basil sprig.