Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Cutting for Stone

This is one of those big sweeping novels that covers historical events, includes a coming of age novel-within-a-novel, and everything you ever wanted to know about fistulas. DO NOT GOOGLE FISTULAS. Cutting for Stone is a narrative that has a little of everything and a lot of surgery.  If you are very squeamish about medical stuff --skip this.

Set in Ethiopia, the State Department says maybe you shouldn't go to North Africa these days, or Central Africa, or parts of West Africa. The State Department suggests...why not Canada? They seem nice. I've been to Canada many times....someone was rude to us in Montreal...oh, maybe I should have gone to the American consulate. It did involve pastries.

One of the best things about being an avid reader is I get to learn about things like Ethiopia because my knowledge of the country was...not great. The first time I'd heard of Haile Selassie was a joke during the movie Trading Places. I did know that Ethiopians think they have the Ark of the Covenant (for reals). In Raiders they were digging in Egypt. There is a rumor the Well of Souls is in Jerusalem. The State Department doesn't want you going in any of those places....wait, I'm seeing a pattern. Now I'm seeing Rex Tillerson's face melting off...be careful Dude!

This is well written and I suspect that Abraham Verghase is one of those people that can do anything he sets his mind to do. He's still a doctor and professor of medicine and yet this was a best-seller. High achiever much?  In my mind, if I've made homemade croutons I'm Elon Musk. Anyway, this is a fine "modern day classic" type novel but it's not short so keep that in mind.

I'm thinking Africa gets pretty hot.  Also, I think Ethiopian food can be really hot. This seems like it would cool you off as it gets super hot this summer!  This one is not for the dieters. Dang it! That's me! --but I think might be worth it. Coconut Margarita:  1& 1/2 ounces reposodo tequila, 1/2 ounce Cointreau, 1 ounce coconut cream, 1 ounce coconut milk, 1/2 ounce lime juice, a splash of half and half and splash of simple syrup. Shake and strain  into a glass and serve on the rocks with a lime wedge.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Sins of Empire

Whenever I don't like a book that other people like I'm like....am I crazy? Maybe I'm old?  Then I think, that's silly, I'm already old and crazy.  Actually that doesn't normally bother me with books the "norms" like, but a fantasy book?  Well, there is SO MUCH fantasy out there now and it is getting very "niche" which is fine, totally fine, I kind of hope I find my perfect niche. I'm just going to call it my white whale niche.  I guess I like intelligent fantasy that gives you a sense of wonder with extra snacking. You know, Hobbit priorities.

If you like Brandon Sanderson and are a Civil War buff this book may be for you. Brian McClellan is literally a former student of Brandon Sanderson so I'm not kidding. He also went to Orson Scott Card's literary bootcamp.  I'm not sure what they teach at said bootcamp but I'd be nervous about any break-out section entitled "Never Adam and Steve" or "Women and other Mythical Creatures in Stories." Anyway, while there is magic and intrigue in this book, it has a plethora of fight and battle sequences.  At one point there is a blunderbuss appearance.  I would never trust a gun that has a synonym for mistake in it's name, but that's just me.  People on Goodreads love this book but he already has a fan base. It's a taste thing. I love coconut but not Alfredo sauce. It's just that this was my Olive Garden's Alfredo extravaganza.

Brian McClellan has an unintentionally funny bio.  He lives in Cleveland and enjoys making homemade jam and playing video games.  Dude, you are a 31 year old full time fantasy writer living in Cleveland.  We know you like video games.  Next your going to tell me you enjoy pizza and beer perhaps? You've got to come up with some cooler things on your bio.  Learn to play guitar or try martial arts.  Don't tell us the embarrassing things like Brian is currently constructing his own duct tape tuxedo and is trying to make "grey tie" a thing.  Or Brian enjoys trying to train his cat to walk on a leash.  I feel like walking a cat is some sort of metaphor for life.  I need to make Thirsty Narrator boot camp with a breakout session: "Quit Dragging your Cat" and "Waiting for Your Cat to Explore that Tree."

One of the main characters is the book is named Lady Flint. This drink is called the Lady Sybil (I think this a Downton Abbey reference) anyway, I have a fondness for champagne cocktails so here's another one.  1 ounce gin, 3/4 ounce St. Germain liquor. Put these two ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a champagne flute.  Top with champagne.