Monday, August 29, 2016

Three Parts Dead

Max Gladstone, the author of the Craft Sequence series, (Three Parts Dead is the first in the series), is a young very intelligent author.  It would easy to be a hater, but this book is good so there's no hate. It's creative, smart and action-y.

Gladstone is a Yale graduate. This makes him a Yale-y. To say this properly you need to stick your lower jaw out as far as it can go then say Yale-y all up in your sinuses and in two syllables. He majored in Mandarin.  Now, who spends over $250,000 to major in Chinese except rich people?  People from money. I recently had a conversation with someone from money and these are the tell-tale signs: 1) the shoes are not flashy but seem spectacular nonetheless, 2) the high school they went to has "County Day" as in the name somewhere, as in "The Country Day school of the Village of Country Day," 3) they do not laugh with a great big guffaw where you can see their molars, and 4) they do not interrupt you mid-sentence point to the ceiling and loudly proclaim Awww, wait....this here's my JAM! and then do a kind of shrug the shoulders dance to said music.  If all of the above signs are apparent then you are among the landed gentry.

The first part of a fantasy series, there are already 5 books and I think I'm going to keep going, apparently he's going to write a dozen, but I mean, let's not go too crazy. He's got a couple of interesting characters already set up, a witch-lawyer, a chain-smoking monk that is an expert in HVAC (that's cool...I guess) and a "flawed cop." Ok, two of the three are unique.  Now, I like this series, it's fairly smart and it has a lot of plot.  The only flaw I saw was the "mystery" of the plot ends up in a Matlock-like courtroom scene but I don't remember quite so much fire in Matlock's courtroom.  I'm no expert in Matlock though and admittedly missed some (all) episodes.  

One of the witch lawyers loves vodka tonics.  This is a G&T but I mean--I've got use this recipe called a Witch Cocktail from Nigella Lawson.  Make your gin and tonic the ordinary way using dry gin.  Instead of a splash of lime juice use a (small) splash of creme de cassis.  If you want to get really fancy you can top it with a candied violet.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Punch the ceiling dance!  Punch the floor dance! YES! The long awaited sequel to The Rook is here. The British agents have long been enemies with the dreaded Dutch, now are they allies, but maybe now it's more like frenimies?  I suspect I'm missing some Dutch jokes as a non-European.  According to the Internet, the Dutch have a reputation as a bunch of know-it-all smart-asses. Wow, the Internet must be one big giant instrument for the propagation of the Dutch culture then. I'm pretty sure I have some "friends" that are of Dutch ancestry too.  This happened: "I believe the word you are looking for is unicorn." No, the word I was looking for is the one I used, because chupacabra is much funnier than unicorn. You, on the other hand, are a chupabroma. That's right, a Joke Sucker.

This is not a stand alone novel.  You must read The Rook first and preferably recently. Stiletto, like The Rook, is James Bond meets the X-Men.  All the camp and then some of Bond. Stiletto has a lot of little snarky jokes, most of them work, not all of them, but they are not all Dad jokes, whew. This book is a lot like the first. Fun, not serious and some action scenes.  This was written before the Brexit so even if two supernatural agencies of two European countries could work together that dream is gone.  Sure, I can believe in someone who see through walls but I mean the logistics of a post Brexit union--c'mon now we are talking fantasy there.

There is a character in this book called The Lady. The supernatural agency has it's members named after chess pieces, however in England there is only one Queen.  Why not read this book with a drink called the White Lady. 2 ounces of Plymouth gin, 1/2 ounce Cointreau, 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice and one egg white.  Shake all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice, strain and pour into a chilled cocktail glass.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Left Hand of Darkness

This is not The Martian.  Not that I hated The Martian it just wasn't my thing. This is sophisticated, timeless, philosophical and there are absolutely no boob jokes. Not one. If fact, if you're looking for boobs this is not the book for you. (Try Murakami with a boob description in every book). The residents of this planet (nicknamed "Winter" by earthlings) are sexless except for two days out of the month when they go into an estrus type state. They could turn into a man or a woman depending on who is around I think.  I would imagine that would be challenging it's like, oh's you carry a bra in your briefcase just in case? These important questions were never answered.

Ursula LeGuin's parents were famous anthropologists and intellectuals. I don't think most people get her fancy childhood where your parents host the Illuminati at your house. I know I didn't.  I remember my Dad just yelled at me because I was in his eye-line for the Reds game. We won't even talk about my many many. My house was no Algonquin Round Table. It felt more like living in a zoo among the higher apes.

It's set on a super cold planet so you should read this in the summer. And you should drink this with something cold. [They drink hot beer in this book--no thanks] It's still hot here so try with this very adult lemonade made for a crowd--Limoncello Collins:  16 oz. Limoncello, 12 ounces of gin,  and 8 oz. lemon juice.  Combine these and chill for at least 2 hours. Press three thinly sliced lemon slices in each of your 8 glasses and add ice.  Stir your liquor mix and add to the glass.  Top that with about 2 ounces of club soda.