Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

I'm afraid to watch Black Mirror anymore. I'm not crazy about the story-line this world is currently working. I mean, that Nosedive episode is based on the Chinese social rating system. In China, you can lose points for and I'm not making this up: jaywalking, eating junk food, playing video games and get this---insincere apologies. I welcome our new robot overlords. *closes blinds and reads analog books*

Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle seems like an Agatha Christie novel but is really a more like a Black Mirror episode. Also, it is really confusing. Some readers are so confused they are just plain angry. Keep in mind, it's pedal to the metal the whole time. It's not a relaxing cozy mystery. Maybe if you think cocaine laced meth is relaxing. By the way, I just looked up what the name of this concoction might be and there was surprisingly detailed information about combining these drugs on Quora. Over five thousand people had looked at the answer. I'm like what are you guys up to on these internets?  I'm looking up narwhals over here and you all are...I mean. I really don't think they were all doing joke research.

This is different. I'll give you that. The ending is wholly unsatisfying but if you want Downton Abbey set in a dystopian mystery nightmare than this book fits the bill.

This cocktail won a cocktail contest in 1934 but is named after the bartender's wife an not the monarch--c'mon man, that's lame. Queen Elizabeth: 1&1/2 ounces dry vermouth, 3/4 ounce benedictine, 3/4 ounce lime juice. Shake in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a chilled glass.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Ancillary Justice

What was the name of that book? Appurtenance Recompense? No, Concomitant Reparation?  No. These sound like erudite working titles for Die Hard. Well, Ancillary Justice is a weird book title. It's the name of a spaceship and that makes sense because this book is a space opera. (I always say "SPACE OPERA" in a dramatic Sideshow Mel-type voice). This spaceship is more just a ship. You find out right away that the AI is quasi-sentient so that's not a spoiler. I mean at what point does independent decision making make something sentient? When it makes moral decision? Could you program morality into an AI? Maybe someone could put a morality code into some natural born humans I know, because that would be great.

There are some very modern sci-fi concepts to this book. It blurs the lines between our perception between humans and robots, male and female, good and evil. You know, just easy stuff. Also there is an abundance of tea. It's like a British person in Japan tea drinking adventure. Got a problem--drink some tea, feeling homesick--tea, feeling upper middle class today--more tea, feeling superior to others--tea time, stressed--more tea. Beyond tea, there is ninja level fighting, political strategies and well, more much tea. She should have called this Ancillary Bladder. I liked it but didn't love it, there are some slow parts and I confess I'm not a huge SPACE OPERA fan. I know some respectable humans that really liked this. Your programming may vary.

I think you are required to drink a tea based cocktail--Royal Tea: 1&1/2 ounces gin, 2 ounces chilled brewed Earl Grey tea, splash of lemon juice and some sugar to taste. Put all of the ingredients in a chilled glass with ice and stir.  Garnish with a lime wheel.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019


Putting the twee in tweed this quasi-British fantasy novel features a chase scene with proper "Gentlemen" in suits with handlebar mustaches on bikes. I was surprised they didn't throw miniature poodles at each other. Take that, rapscallion! Get 'em Ruffles! Bite his leg...ok, ok, at least pull a single thread out of his bespoke suit! That'll show 'em. No play for Mr. Fray. 

This is a mystery urban fantasy novel set in an alternative Britain after a WWI- type thingy. Only the aristocrats are allowed to do magic and something awfully fishy is going on with these returning soldiers. Maybe our magical doctor can save the day...or can he? There are all kinds of things going in this book, a
LGBT love story, a magical system to set up, an oligarchy, family disputes, workplace issues, ghosts, dead guys and a world class typist. All in 318 pages. Whew. 
Witchmark made some people's best fantasy lists of 2018 but lets not go crazy. It's a perfectly fine fantasy and as a first novel it's good. Best....well...maybe if they put more references to men's capes, boater hats, various puddings, canaries, teas, antique snuff boxes and yes, even more bikes. I think this is just the first one in a series so there is hope yet. 

While it's freezing today I have hope that spring is around the corner. Read this with a bespoke Cucumber Basil Gimlet: Muddle a few basil leaves and two slices of cucumber in a shaker, add ice and 1&1/2 ounces of vodka (I think a nice neutral gin would work just fine too), add one ounce of lemonade and 1/4 ounce of lime juice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass over ice. Drink while picking invisible lint off your lapels.