Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Zombie Survival Guide Review


(from the back of the book)
Don’t be carefree and foolish with your most precious asset – life.  This book is your key to survival against the hordes of undead who may be stalking you right now without you even knowing it.  The Zombie Survival Guide offers complete protection through trusted, proven tips for safeguarding yourself and your loved ones against the living dead.  It is a book that can save your life.



This is for any zombie book lover.  I love the pseudo-serious tone of the book.  It is told with humor but the threat of a zombie attack is presented as a very real problem, something everyone should be prepared for.  There is a lot of information here and you can tell that a lot of thought and possibly even research went into this.  A lot of different weapons and vehicles are described and their strengths and weaknesses explored.  You find out why guns are not always the best defense and what the good and bad points of holding up in a swamp are. It is humor and it makes you laugh.  But part of what makes it funny is that it does not read as a joke.  It is told with sincerity.  You get the impression that if there really was a zombie attack this book would help you survive.  The recorded attacks section in the back makes the point that you are not preparing for some possible issue in the future but that zombies are a present problem and have been a problem for a long time, maybe as far back as 60,000 B.C.  I like the way the evidence for ancient zombies is presented in a way that you can believe that it was happened upon in an archeological dig or something.  It’s just sketchy enough to sound real.  The accounts do get a little monotonous toward the end and some of the information feels like it is told over again as, for example, you get terrain types for ‘On the Run’, ‘On the Attack’ and ‘Living in an Undead World’ and some of the points are the same in each.  But for the most part the book is an interesting, amusing, informative, and entertaining read that keeps you reading.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang Review


The human race is dying out and a small group tries to save it by experiments in cloning.


The story starts when it is already too late to save the world as we know it.  A small group who realized the danger before the rest of the world was willing to accept the truth had started to prepare and plan for the future.  They decide the only way to save the human race is to create clones.  As the clones start to take over from the originals the story starts to explore the importance of individuality, imagination, original thought, and having differences.  It was a quick start and you were soon in the middle of the main issues as the original humans were starting to find themselves obsolete.  And it makes you think about what humanity is as the clones take over and it becomes apparent that they think differently, and do things differently.  The question comes up of whether they have saved the human race or created something completely new.  But even though I found the concept interesting it took me a while to get into this story.  Due to the very nature of the characters there is a lack of emotion at times that I found hard to connect to.  It took longer to get to know these characters and care for them.  In time I did, but it took a while.  I would say that if you are at all interested in post-apocalyptic stories (or clones) you should definitely give this one a try.



(As a side note, in the copy I borrowed from my library some of the pages were in the wrong order.  So if you are reading and the next page doesn’t seem to make sense look at the page numbers.  All the pages were there and never further than one page away from where it should have been so you can read everything in the right order if you realize what in going on at the time.)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday 56 (Feb. 10)

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in the Linky here. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It's that simple.


My book this week is The Zork Chronicles by George Alec Effinger.  Based on the games (which I never played), it is about a hero on the quest to kill an evil wizard.  

Friday 56:

I'm getting no nearer the completion of my great task, I haven't moved the first step in the direction of the lost scroll of my stepfather, and my poor, trusting mother is still unprotected on her rock in the middle of the Sunless Grotto, unaware of the demonic intrigue that Morgrom has set in motion to violate her virtue!

I haven't started this one yet.  It's going to be my next book.  But I needed a book since I'm still readinf Roots and I used that last week.  From this sentence it sounds like it's going to be completely stupid in a good way.  We shall see.  If I ever finish Roots.



Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Marshall and the Madwoman Review


(from the back of the book)
Why would anyone want to murder Clementina, the crazed, destitute old woman who swore a lot and tidies by night the narrow streets of Florence’s San Frediano district?
Starting with no clues, for nothing is known about Clementina, the Marshal sets out in the city’s wilting August heat to reconstruct her past.  His quest takes him into the homes and lives of the people of San Frediano, to a run-down State mental hospital, a fashion export agency, and back twenty-five years to the cataclysmic events that wrecked the old woman’s life.




This is the first book in this series that I have read and I felt I was starting a little behind.  It seemed it was assumed the reader would already know who the Marshal was and what his position was.  Only I didn’t and I had a little trouble figuring out how he fit into the Florence law enforcement structure.  The beginning felt a little slow but that helped set the stage for the slow pace of all of Florence in August.  There are a lot of interesting characters here and they are all written so they feel real and believable.  And the Marshall becomes involved with all of them, as every witness and suspect seems to have a problem that the Marshall tries to fix even though he has a murder to solve.  And as he tries to figure out who this old madwoman was he learns about the floods that devastated lives in years past, delves into the plight of the mentally ill and tries to work within the tight knit community that has its own rules.  So the book has a lot of parts.  But they are all woven in seamlessly so nothing feel extraneous or out of place and the book is about the community and the people and not just this one case.  I liked the writing and the story but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read the others in the series so I would know the history of the characters that I feel like I was missing.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Friday 56 and Book Beginnings (Feb. 3)

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in the Linky here. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It's that simple.
Book Beginning is hosted by Rose City Reader. All you have to do is share the opening line of the book you're reading and what you think about it. Check out the other posts here.





My book this week is Roots by Alex Haley.  I think everyone probably knows what it's about.

Book Beginnings:

Early in the spring of 1750, in the village of Juffure, four days upriver from the coast of The Gambia, West Africa, a manchild was born to Omoro and Binta Kinte.

Friday 56

"Where are you going?" they chattered, scampering on either side of Kunta.  "Is he your fa?"  "Are you Mandinka?"  "What's your village?"  Weary as he was, Kunta felt very mature and important, ignoring them just as his father was doing.

I have not gotten very far yet.  In fact, I'm only on page 18.  So it is kind of hard to judge yet.  I have a long way to go.  And of course my impressions are influenced by the fact that I know where things are headed.  So I think my feelings for the characters might be different than if I didn't know the trouble that was coming.  But at only 18 pages I already feel like I know Kunta's family and community.  I'm already emotionally involved.  So I'm sure the rest of the 500 odd pages will have the same impact.




Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Omen Review

The Omen by David Seltzer

(from the back of the book)
A young nursemaid dies for the sake of little Damien…

A priest is speared to death for revealing the horrifying truth about the birth of Damien…

In a peaceful zoo, animals rend themselves to bits in a death frenzy caused by the sight of Damien…

For a world-renowned diplomat and his wife, “accident” follows “accident,” from Rome to London to Jerusalem, as they stalked by a terror they cannot understand, a terror that centers on their son Damien… and his ominous hidden birthmark.

Is ultimate evil to be released upon an unsuspecting and unprepared world because of Damien?




Right from the beginning the book has an ominous feel.  Seltzer manages to make characters creepy even before they do anything creepy.  So the whole book has a horrible dark feeling even between the big, blatantly scary events.  It was interesting watching Damien’s parents try to come to grips with things that are happening but cannot possibly be real.  The tension builds as things start to go wildly out of control and comes to a head in an exciting climax where you don’t know what will happen until the very end.  It is a fast moving, fast paced story that pulls you along.  And I think it has the right balance of big shocking moments and the dark brooding menace that gives you a good story and doesn’t rely all on shock value.  

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday 56 & Book Beginnings (1/27)

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in the Linky here. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It's that simple.
Book Beginning is hosted by Rose City Reader. All you have to do is share the opening line of the book you're reading and what you think about it. Check out the other posts here.





My book this week is Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm.  When everything in the world goes bad one small group tries to save humanity with clones.

Book Beginnings:

What David always hated most about the Sumner family dinners was the way everyone talked about him as if he were not there.

Friday 56:

They accepted being mated as casually as the cattle did.

This is another book that I'm reading for a challenge.  This one is right up my alley but I don't know that I would have come across it if not for the challenge.  I am only about a quarter of the way through this one.  It is not about how the world came to be in the mess that it is in.  That has already happened before the book starts.  This is all about what the world will look like if it is populated by clones, how will they be different from the people who came before.  It's interesting and I want to keep reading to find out what happens but I'm having trouble feeling anything for any of these characters and that makes it harder to become immersed in that world and therefore less fun to read. For me anyway.  I can see someone saying that the lack of emotion is the point and what makes the book interesting.  To each their own.  The book has endured for forty years so it must be doing something right.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Slapstick Review

Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut

(from the back of the book)
Slapstick presents an apocalyptic vision as seen through the eyes of the current King of Manhattan (and last President of the United States), a wickedly irreverent look at the all-too-possible results of today’s follies.  But even the end of life-as-we-know-it is transformed by Kurt Vonnegut’s pen into hilarious farce – a final slapstick that may be the Almighty’s joke on us all.



Right from the start you are introduced to a world that does not make any sense.  But as the narrator tells his story you start to pick up pieces and it’s fun to try and put them all together.  It is an odd story, told by a man that tends to ramble on a bit so things sometimes seem random.  And it goes back and forth between the present and the past.  So the whole thing ended up having a loosely plotted feel to it.  Like an old man telling a story just as it comes to him.  Which is what the story is supposed to be.  But I wish things hung together a little tighter.  I enjoyed reading it.  It was interesting and a quick read.  But then it was over right when I thought it was actually heading somewhere in particular.  It was a fun way to spend a couple of hours but I’m glad this wasn’t the first Vonnegut book that I read or I probably wouldn’t have read any others.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Birthday Swiss Roll

It was one of my co-worker's birthday and for some reason when I was trying to decide what to make to bring him I decided on a Swiss Roll.  Usually I wouldn't bring something to share with people that I haven't tested before hand but I took the risk this time.  Even though the only other time I tried to make a roll it did not go well.  Spoiler Alert! This time I had much better luck.

I found the recipe on The Kitchenthusiast.  You can find it here.  It is a KitchenAid blog so there is some product placement in the recipe but I'm sure you don't actually have to use a KitchenAid mixer to make this.

You need a jelly roll pan, some parchment paper and a cooling rack.

None of the various pieces are hard to make. It did not seem like I had enough cake batter to spread over the entire pan but I spread it thin and managed it.  The edges were not as thick as the middle and I had to cook it longer than the recipe said so the edges got a little crunchy but I was still able to roll it up without much problem.  But then you have to wait.





You can make the filling while it cools but I was done with the filling before the cake was cool enough to frost.  You add some heavy cream right at the end and beat it a lot.  I did have to add a little extra powered sugar because it was too soupy.  But once I did it turned into a light and fluffy delicious filling.  I wanted to eat it by the spoonful. When I rolled it back up after putting in the filling the edges were not exactly lined up and since the edges were thinner it didn't look that neat on the ends.  Next time I think I will trim the edges just to make it look a little nicer.  But I was just happy that I got it rolled up without it cracking up on me.



When I made the chocolate glaze it seemed way to runny so I put it in the fridge for a while before I tried to put it on the cake.  It was a messy process.  There was chocolate dripping everywhere.  I only ended up putting about half of the glaze on the cake because by that point it was all dripping off and it seemed to have a nice coating anyway.  Then back in the fridge to set everything up.

The finished product was seriously good.  The recipe says to use dark chocolate for the glaze, so I did, even though I'm not really a fan of dark chocolate.  And I'm glad I did.  The filling is really sweet and if I had used a sweeter chocolate I think it would have been too much.


I was a little disappointed because it did not come out round.  As you can see it was oval.  The cake could not support its own weight and ended up slouching.  I don't know why.  I wonder if I did something wrong.  But I didn't worry about it for long.  Because it didn't affect the taste.  Which was awesome.  Just the right balance of everything.  Nice moist fluffy cake and creamy filling.  All the guys at worked loved it.  And I already have a request to make this for another birthday.  This one is a keeper.  It is a little time consuming but it is worth it.

Weekend Cooking is sponsored by Beth Fish Reads.  See the other posts here.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday 56 and Book Beginnings (Jan. 20)

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in the Linky here. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It's that simple.
Book Beginning is hosted by Rose City Reader. All you have to do is share the opening line of the book you're reading and what you think about it. Check out the other posts here.





My book this week is The Omen by David Seltzer.  When a man is told that his child has died moments after his birth he agrees to take a motherless infant in his place.  Unfortunately this foundling child turns out to be the Antichrist.  

Book Beginnings:

It happened in a millisecond.  A movement in the galaxies that should have taken eons occurred in the blinking of an eye.

Friday 56:

He was afraid.  For Katherine, for Damien, and for himself; yet he didn't know why.  There was uncertainty in the air, a feeling that life was suddenly fragile.

This is an unusual pick for me.  I don't think I would have ever picked it up if I hadn't joined a reading challenge to read books published the year I was born.  But I like it more than I thought I would.  Seltzer does a good job of keeping the tension high.  It reads quickly and it is easy to get caught up in the turmoil of the characters.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Grillfish Review


When I told my friends I was going to Washington D.C. one of them suggested GrillFish.  And it turned out not to be far from my hotel so it worked out really well.  It was a cute place but I don’t know that I would have noticed it if I hadn’t been looking for it.  Inside is open and bright.  I was glad to see it was well lit after all the dim and dark restaurants I’ve been in.  It was warm and inviting.
 





With the complimentary bread you get a thyme, rosemary and sage butter.  I usually want my butter to be just butter but I found I liked the fresh herb flavor here.  And there wasn’t so much rosemary that it overcame everything else.  I got a nice cocktail that was just sweet enough.  I can’t remember the name but I liked it enough to get another one later.  And it came with an ice cube with a cherry frozen inside.  







 Bubba, my waiter, suggested I get the fish chowder to start.  So I gave it a shot and I’m glad I did.  It was nice and creamy and had large chunks of fish and lots of them.  It was delicious and not too heavy so it was just enough to start off the meal and still have room to finish it.  For my entrĂ©e I got the arctic char which came with rice and I chose the coconut red curry sauce (which was another Bubba suggestion that I’m glad I took because that sauce was great.)  The fish was moist and flaky and the delicious curry sauce was a wonderful compliment to it.



For dessert I got the mango key lime pie.  I like both of those flavors but had never had them together before but would love to try them again.  It was tart and creamy and I just wanted to keep eating it even though I was full.

The service was good as well.  Bubba was friendly and gave me some very good suggestions without being pushy about anything.  He was there when I needed him but he did not hang around when I didn’t.  So my water glass was always full and I was never sitting too long with an empty plate but I didn’t feel like he was hovering.  Which I hate.

I was pleased with the whole experience.  I would go back if I am ever in D.C. again and suggest you go if you are in the area and in the mood for fish.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Road of the Dead Review

The Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks

(from the back of the book)
When Ruben’s sister Rachel is murdered, he can sense it.  Even though he’s miles away.  Even though he can’t explain it.  He feels her fear.  He feels pain.  And then – her death.

Ruben’s older brother Cole is different from him: darker, harsher, more direct.  As soon as he finds out about Rachel’s death, he has a plan.  Three days later, the two brothers set out to reclaim their sister’s body and uncover the cold truth behind her killing.  It’s a long road that requires a hard and violent journey…with a brutal mystery at its end.




Ruben and Cole go on a quest to find out what happened to their sister.  And it turns into a dark and violent journey.  The brothers set out to bring peace to the family by putting their sister to rest but the story is about much more than that.  There is an interesting relationship between the brothers that is intensified by the tension they are under and I like the way Ruben reacts to his brother, always backing him up even when he’s not sure he likes what he is doing.  There is love between them that has to remain unsaid but is evident in the way they are together.  The family’s whole past gets mixed into the events as they begin to unfold and Ruben has to face some unpleasant truths and figure out what to do about them.  There are parts of the mystery of the murder of their sister that become evident early on but the details and how everything will turn out remain unknown until the end.  There is a lot of violence that is graphic at times and is intense enough that it almost makes you uneasy reading it. Cole is written well so that you want to be on his side but at the same time you are scared of him and what he might do.   There is a tension and suspense to a lot of the story that keeps the reader engaged and eager to keep reading.  And I like that the subjects of justice, motives, revenge and closure are presented as muddled and confusing instead of black and white.  But Ruben’s ability to feel what other people are feeling, interesting at first, starts to go a little too far.  It ends up being a way that Ruben can keep the first person narrative going even when he isn’t where the action is.  And it changes the nature of the nature of his ability at random depending on what the author needs it to do at the moment.  And that makes everything harder to believe.  And maybe after everything it wraps up a little suddenly with a few little holes about what will happen next but the story is strong enough that it doesn’t really matter.  And I like the way the book handles the fields of justice, revenge, motives and closure.  

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Friday 56 and Book Beginnings (Jan. 13)

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in the Linky here. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It's that simple.


Book Beginning is hosted by Rose City Reader. All you have to do is share the opening line of the book you're reading and what you think about it. Check out the other posts here.





My book this week is QB VII by Leon Uris.  Abraham Cady finds himself on trial for libel when his book about the Holocaust accuses Dr. Kelno for horrible acts during the war.

Book Beginnings:

The corporal cadet stepped out of the guard hut and squinted out over the field.  A shadowy figure ran through the knee-high grass toward him.

The Friday 56:

The little olive-skinned man looked up to the doctor with begging eyes.  How to explain that the chief's son would be a hopeless idiot?

I was uncertain if a 426 page book about a trial could hold my attention.  But this one did.  It starts off giving a glimpse into the life of first the plaintiff and then the defendant.  So the whole book does not take place in the courtroom.  But even after we get there it is a tense suspenseful story.  I'm almost done with it now but I'm still not sure how everything will work out.  But I am really interested to find out.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wild Goose Chase Reading Challenge

I'm joining the Wild Goose Chase reading challenge.  It's hosted by The Bookshelf Gargoyle.  The goal is to read one book from each of seven catagories.  To find out all the rules and to sign up yourself go to the Wild Goose Chase post.

The catagories are:



1. A book with a word of phrase relating to wildness in the title:
The Marshal and the Madwoman by Magdalen Nabb

2. A book with a species of bird (or the word “bird”) in the title:
Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm (review)

3. A book with an exotic or far-flung location in the title

4. A book with an object you might hunt for in the title

5. A book with a synonym for chase in the title

6. A book with a means of transport in the title

7. A book with an object you might take on a search or hunt in the title



Birth Year Reading Challenge


I'm joining the Birth Year Reading Challenge.  It is hosted by Hotchpot Cafe.  The point is to find books published in the year you were born and read them.  Well, probably not all of them.  But there are prizes.  And the one who reads the most books will win the grand prize.  So you should get reading right away.  To find out the particulars and to sign up yourself visit the Birth Year Reading Challenge.  You can change your list at any time.  Which is good.  Since I already know that I'm not going to stick to this list.  And maybe even manage to read a few more than this. 

As of right now this is my list:

Original Plan:

Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut - DONE
The Deep by Peter Benchley
Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater
Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart
Promised Land by Robert Parker
Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton
They Came Before Columbus by Ivan Van Sertima
The Boys From Brazil by Ira Levin
The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank by Emma Bombeck
Raise the Titanic by Clive Cussler
Roots by Alex Haley - DONE
Deus Irae by Philip Dick

What I actually read:

1. Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut (review)
2. Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie
3. Omen by David Seltzer (review)
4. In the Frame by Dick Francis
5. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm (review)
6. Roots by Alex Haley



Monday, January 9, 2017

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

I'm joining the 2017 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge.  It is hosted by Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book.  If you would like to join too you can check out the post here.  The challenge is to read a book that has a title that starts with each letter of the alphabet.  (Excluding a, an, and the.)  No reviews needed.  No blog needed.  You can either make a list in advance or just add them as you go along.  For more info or to join up yourself check out the 2017 Alphabet Reading Challenge!  

A. The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen
B.
C.
D.
E. Etta by Gerald Kolpan
F.
G.
H.
I. In The Frame by Dick Francis
J.
K.
L.
M. The Marshal and the Madwoman by Magdalen Nabb
N.
O. Omen by David Seltzer
P.
Q. QB VII by Leon Uris
R. Roots by Alex Haley
S. Straight Man by Richard Russo
T.
U. The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss
V.
W. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm (review)
X.
Y.
Z. The Zork Chronicles by George Alec Effinger

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Books Read in 2017

1. The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen - 406
2. Straight Man by Richard Russo - 391
3. QB VII by Leon Uris - 426
4. Etta by Gerald Kolpan - 316
5. Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut - 274
6. Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie - 296
7. Omen by David Seltzer - 202
8. The Marshal and the Madwoman by Magdalen Nabb - 224
9. In the Frame by Dick Francis - 230
10. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm - 254
11. The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss - 179
12. The Zork Chronicles by George Alec Effinger -
13. Roots by Alex Haley -

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Island Creek Oyster Bar Review

I spend a lot of time browsing menus online.  And it is often the dessert menu that interests me the most.  As was the case when I was looking at the menu for Island Creek Oyster Bar.  An oyster bar is not something that I would normally be interested but I saw something called banoffee pie on the menu and was instantly interested.  It is a pie that is mostly dulce de leche and whipped cream with a few bananas thrown in.  I needed to try it.  And since they had a good looking selection of seafood that I was also interested in I decided to actually go this time instead of saying I was going to remember the restaurant for later and then not doing any thing of the sort.  Which is what I usually do when I browse menus.  And since I have a friend that loves seafood of all sorts I decided to invite him along.


It is an average size space but it is open and bright and that gives it a feeling of having lots of room.  We were seated in a booth right in the front window that was meant to seat three people so we had plenty of room and were very comfortable.  We decided to get a bottle of wine.  I can't really tell you if it was a good wine list but it was rather extensive and since my wine knowledge is minimal at best I let my friend and the waiter work out the selection between them.  The waiter was very patient and helpful as they found something that we would enjoy and could also afford.  We ended up with a half bottle of something, I never knew what, but it was white and I enjoyed it.  And when we had finished that our waiter brought us each a glass of another white wine on the house that I also enjoyed.  And not just because it was free.  I remembered this fondly when it came time to figure out the tip.


For appetizers we got the tuna tartare and some crispy oyster sliders.  The tuna was served with house made potato chips and the fish was fresh and tasted delightfully of sesame.  The oyster sliders were good as well.  I think this had a lot to do with the very buttery toasted bun that they came on.  We only got one each but I would have gladly eaten several more.

For our entrees he got the lobster roll which came with cole slaw and French fries (he had the choice between them and chips) and the roll was packed full.  I didn't taste anything on his plate but he seemed to enjoy it.  I got the skate wing with lentils.  I had never had skate before and really had no idea what to expect.  When the waiter told me it was really good I was glad to hear it but was only slightly relieved.  Because what else is he going to say?  But I was pleased when it arrived.  It is not flaky like a white fish but it has a similar taste.  It was moist and delicious.  And the portion was generous without being stupid big.  



And then of course it was time for dessert.  He got the chocolate tart.  Again he seemed pleased but I didn't try it.  (I should probably let you know that I have no faith in his opinion of food so I rarely ask him what he thought of anything.  I have found it to be a pointless exercise.)  And of course I got the banoffee pie.  I like whipped cream and dulce de leche so I found it delicious.  The bruled bananas on top were a nice touch too.  It was a nice big piece as well.  Probably bigger than I should have eaten since I'm trying to watch my calorie intake but I couldn't stop eating it.




It was a nice dinner all around and I would definitely suggest it to anyone who likes seafood.  After eating here I find myself in the same dilemma that I find myself in after eating in any restaurant I enjoy.  I want to go back.  But I also like to try new places.  And for budget reasons, both monetary and calorie, I can't go out to eat nearly as often as I would like.  So how do I decide?  Oddly this time I don't think my decision will have anything to do with dessert.  Because as I sit here writing this I find myself thinking about that buttery oyster slider.  And I can see myself going back to sit at the bar with a cocktail and about eight of them.  

Weekend Cooking is sponsored by Beth Fish Reads.  Be sure to check out the other posts here.


Friday, December 30, 2016

Five Horses Tavern Review

Five Horses Tavern

I was there on a Thursday at 5:30 with a group of nine. The place isn't very big, and it was kind of busy so I think that if we didn't have a reservation it would have been hard to get all of us seated. It is a cozy place but I did not feel crowded or cramped even with the large party. The service was great. Everyone was friendly and attentive. The food got mixed reviews. A few people ordered the ribs and shared some around, I didn't try them myself but, all six people who did said that they were too salty. No one was able to finish the whole plate of them. Most of the food was fine but nothing special. But there were a few exceptions. Everyone liked the haus pretzel. And the corn bread was a big hit. We were all talking about how good it was the next day. The phrase 'best corn bread I've ever had' was used more than once. I think the secret is butter. If you go, definitely get some. I don't think I would go back here for dinner but it would be a good place to go for drinks and appetizers with friends.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Big, Bad Book of Beasts Review

The Big, Bad Book of Beasts by Michael Largo

Largo has created a modern day bestiary.  It is an encyclopedia of animals both real and legend.  It is full of fascinating, fun facts about animals of all kinds.




I have no idea how Largo picked the animals that he put in the book.  It runs from ants and bears to extinct animals like the dodo and the tyrannosaurus rex, there are myths and legends like the phoenix and trolls and cryptids like the chupacabra and the Jersey devil.  There is a little bit of everything.  There are animals I am familiar with and ones I have never heard of before.  I learned a lot of new things even about the animals I thought I knew well.  You get from a few paragraphs to a few pages about each animal.  There is information like life span and habitat and more specific information like how many times a woodpecker will bang his head against a tree in one day.  He explores were myths about animals (even real ones) started and what animal might have been misidentified to start rumors of nonexistent animals.  If you are doing some kind of research I don’t know how much this would help you.  But if you just like to learn about animals it is a great book to visit off and on and read an entry or two.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday 56 and Book Beginnings (Nov. 11)

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in the Linky here. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It's that simple.


Book Beginning is hosted by Rose City Reader. All you have to do is share the opening line of the book you're reading and what you think about it. Check out the other posts here.





My book this week is The Double Game by Dan Fesperman.  A lover of spy novels all of a sudden finds himself in the middle of spy mystery straight out of the cold war.

Book Beginnings:

The Great Man himself was waiting for me on the phone.

The Friday 56:

The transaction is blessedly simple: Purchase one cup of coffee - pricey, but only if you intend to gulp it down and leave - and in exchange you may linger as long as you like.  Your waiter, dressed in a dinner jacket, won't even give you a dirty look, but he will attend to your every need without complaint.  Tip him generously and he probably won't even remember you were there to begin with, in case the authorities ask later.

Makes me want to go to Vienna.

I wasn't sure where this was going at first but it quickly got going.  Early on there are mysterious messages dropped in his mail slot and strangers approaching him on the street.  And then builds from what seems like a game onto something far more serious.  It is filled with interesting characters whose loyalty is unknown and lots of suspense.  It would probably be more fun to read if I knew more about spy novels as they are referenced a lot.  But it does make you want to follow the puzzle along with our hero to figure out what is going on.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday 56 and Book Beginnings (Oct. 21)


The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in the Linky here. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It's that simple.


Book Beginning is hosted by Rose City Reader. All you have to do is share the opening line of the book you're reading and what you think about it. Check out the other posts here.





My book this week is The Butcher Bird by S.D. Sykes.  Oswald is the new Lord of Somershill Manor and having trouble with his new position.  And then a baby is found dead in a thorn bush and the people are blaming a huge bird.  Oswald does not believe the bird exists and tries to find out who the real killer is.

Book Beginnings:

It was the tail end of the morning when the charges were laid before me and I would tell you I was tempted to laugh at first, for the story was nonsense.

Friday 56:

"I can't ride."  He then smiled.  A toothy and lopsided expression that was entirely disconcerting.  "My legs are too wide apart," he said, pointing at his groin.  "See. I can't grip the barrel of the beast.  I keep sliding off."

This is the second book in the series and I have not read the first one (Plague Land) so they keep talking about things that I don't know about.  I think it would help to understand the characters more if I had read the other book but the plot is not hard to follow.  I like it but I don't think I'll run out and get the first one.  By now I'm a little annoyed with Oswald.  They keep saying he is a great investigator but every time something suspicious happens he doesn't ask any questions about it.  

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Friday 56 and Book Beginnings (Oct. 14)

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in the Linky here. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It's that simple.




Book Beginning is hosted by Rose City Reader. All you have to do is share the opening line of the book you're reading and what you think about it. Check out the other posts here.




My book this week is The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder.  One day, after over a century of use, a bridge breaks causing the death of five people.  Brother Juniper, who witnessed the incident, sets out to prove that there was divine design even in this by finding out all he can about the people who died on the bridge.

Book Beginnings:

On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below.

I think this is a pretty good first sentence.  Because now I want to know who they were and why he's telling me this.  And isn't that the point?  To get people to want to read on.  

Friday 56:

What relationship is it in which few words are exchanged, and those only about the details of food, clothing, and occupation; in which the two persons have a curious reluctance even to glance at one another; and in which there is a tacit arrangement not to appear together in the city and to go on the same errand by different streets?  And yet side by side with this there existed a need of one another so terrible that it produces miracles as naturally as the charged air of a sultry day produces lighting.

This passage also makes me curious.  I want to know all about these people he's talking about.  I'm liking this one so far.  Each part is about a different person that was on the bridge when it broke.  So it kind of has a short story feel to it but all the stories end the same way.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Consider the Fork Review

Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson

(from the book jacket)
Since prehistory, humans have braved sharp knives, fire, and grindstones to transform raw ingredients into something delicious – or at least edible.  Tools shape what we eat, but they have also transformed food.  Technology in the kitchen does not just mean the Pacojets and sous-vide of the modernist kitchen.  It can also mean the humbler tools of everyday cooking and eating: a wooden spoon and a skillet, chopsticks and forks.

In Consider the Fork, award winning food writer Bee Wilson provides a wonderful and witty tour of the evolution of cooking around the world, revealing the hidden history of everyday objects we often take for granted.  Knives – perhaps our most important gastronomic tool – predate the discovery of fire, whereas the fork endured centuries of ridicule before gaining widespread acceptance; pots and pans have been around for millennia, while plates are a relatively recent invention.  Many once-new technologies have become essential elements of any well-stocked kitchen – mortars and pestles, serrated knives, stainless steel pots, refrigerators.  Others have proved only passing fancies, or were supplanted by better technologies; one would be hard pressed now to find a water-powered egg whisk, a magnet-operated spit roaster, a cider owl, or a turnspit dog.  Although many tools have disappeared from the modern kitchen, they have left us with traditions, tastes, and even physical characteristics that we would never have possessed otherwise.

Blending history, science, and anthropology, Wilson reveals how our culinary tools and tricks came to be, and how their influence has shaped modern food culture.  The story of how we have tamed fire and ice and wielded whisks, spoons, and graters, all for the sake of putting food in our mouths, Consider the Fork is truly a book to savor.




I like to read books about food, cooking and culinary science but this one is different from the others I’ve read.  This one focuses on the tools used to cook and eat the food.  Each chapter deals with a different technology; knife, grind, measure, eat, etc.  It’s interesting to see how the way food is cooked and eaten changes the culture of a people, and in some cases the people themselves.  It talks about how location made a difference in how people cooked and ate.  It goes into how as the cooking methods changed so did the diet of the people using it.  It shows why some things have endured the test of time while others have been lost to history.  There is science, history and anthropology all here.  I like all those things, and when you add the food angle it pushes this book over the top for me.  So I really enjoyed reading this one.  Wilson has an easy writing style that makes it a quick, engaging read.  You learn a lot without it feeling like you are reading a text book because there is a good balance between explanation and story.  And that makes this good for everyone regardless of previous knowledge.  It is a very approachable book for anyone who ever wondered how the fork came about or when knives lost the sharp edge and became butter knives.  There are a lot of questions answered that I hadn’t even thought to ask.  And it is a new look at a lot of things we find in our kitchen that we take for granted.

Weekend Cooking is sponsored by Beth Fish Reads. Be sure to check out the other posts here.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday 56 and Book Beginnings (Oct. 7th)

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that's ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post in the Linky here. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It's that simple.


Book Beginning is hosted by Rose City Reader. All you have to do is share the opening line of the book you're reading and what you think about it. Check out the other posts here.

My book this week is Queen of the Dark Chamber by Christiana Tsai.  It is the autobiography of Christiana Tsai who grew up in China and suffered great persecution when she became a Christian.

Book Beginnings:

It was the twelfth day of the second month, and all over China, people were celebrating the Birthday of the Flowers, by tying red strips of cloth on the trees and bushes.

This sounds like a happy beginning.  Somehow I knew it wasn't going to be all Birthday of Flower celebrations though.

Friday 56:

Rumors spread that the god of the locomotive demanded human sacrifices.

I'm just getting to the part where she is having to choose between the easy life she has been living and the new inner peace she has found.