Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday 56 and Book Beginnings (Sept. 30)

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

*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 Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham.  It is about a man who leaves his family to paint and the toll his obsession takes on him and those around him.


I confess that when first I made acquaintance with Charles Strickland I never for a moment discerned that there was in him anything out of the ordinary.

It sounds like no one did.  Maybe that's why he up and left.

Friday 56:

It was tantalizing to get no more than hints into a character that interested me so much.  It was like making one's way through a mutilated manuscript.  I received the impression of a life which was a bitter struggle against every sort of difficulty; but I realized that much which would have seemed horrible to most people did not in the least affect him.

I haven't actually gotten this far in the book yet but this does make me wonder what sort of horrible things he's talking about.  I've never read anything by Maugham before and this one hasn't really grabbed me yet.  I will stick with it and hope that this little snippet is a sign of good things to come.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Do Some Good

At Greater Good you can help out with just a click of the mouse.  Just click on the button on the top of the page to give to the cause mentioned there.  (As I write this it is trying to raise money to build a school for children in Senegal.)  Then make sure to click on the tabs for the other causes as well.  They will each have their own button for you to push.

If you want to give even more there are plenty of ways you can donate money directly or you can just shop.  Choose the site for the cause you would like to help and shop to your heart's content.  A portion of the money you spend will go to help out the cause you have chosen.

And if you need a new pair of shoes or a new coat make sure to check out the get one, give one section.  With your purchase of one of the selected items they will donate one to someone in need.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Soon I Will Be Invincible Review

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

(from the book jacket)
Doctor Impossible – evil genius, diabolical scientist, wannabe world dominator – languishes in a federal detention facility.  He’s lost his freedom, his girlfriend, and his hidden island fortress.

Over the years he’s tried to take over the world in every way imaginable: doomsday devices of all varieties (nuclear, thermonuclear, nanotechnological) and mass mind-control.  He’s traveled backward in time to change history, forward in time to escape it.  He’s commanded robot armies, insect armies, and dinosaur armies.  Fungus army.  Army of fish.  Of rodents.  Alien invasions.  All failures.  But not this time.  This time it’s going to be different…

Fatale is a rookie superhero on her first day with the Champions, the world’s most famous superteam.  She’s a patchwork woman of skin and chrome, a gleaming technological marvel built to be the next generation of warfare.  Filling the void left by a slain former member, Fatale joins a team struggling with a damaged past, having to come together in the face of unthinkable evil.

Superheroes and supervillians.  I think this is very much a niche book.  If you aren’t already into the comic book thing than this is not for you.  The chapters switch back and forth between Doctor Impossible, the supervillian, and Fatale, the new member of the world’s greatest superhero team.  I like the change in perspective because it gives the story a well-rounded feel.  You get to see the story from both sides.  Unfortunately a lot of the characters are just not personable and failed to engender either my sympathy or concern and sometimes they couldn't even get my interest.  Especially the superheroes.  So I found myself more interested in the chapters about Doctor Impossible and looking forward to them while I was reading the others.  So instead of understanding both sides and having that wonderful conflict where you want both sides to win I was completely on Doctor Impossible’s side.  I did like that this is not an origin story.  The characters all have a long past and are established in the world that Grossman has created.  You get a sense of that history but the story is about what their lives are like after years of dealing with and living in the fight.  It’s a little uneven and some of the characters are annoying at times but it’s fun and exciting with world domination, super powers, epic battles, complicated gizmos and all that great comic book stuff.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

D.C. eats - Birch and Barley

I went on a trip to Washington D.C. recently and Birch and Barley was just down the street from my hotel. For some reason it caught my eye and I decided to go there for dinner one night. I think this place might be too hip, or trendy (?) for me. I don't know the right word. But it is lots of wood and brick and glass globe oil lamps on the walls and clear plastic chairs. And it is very dark. Not just dim, but it's hard to see what I'm eating dark. But maybe I just felt a little uncomfortable because I got there right when they opened and there was no one else there. Which was a surprise to me. Because when I went to Open Table to make a reservation and tried to get a table at 6:00 I was told that I could only get a table at 5:30 as nothing else was available. So I expected it to be, if not full, at least busy. And I don't like really crowded restaurants. But I don't like to be the only one in a place either. I guess there is just no pleasing me. Other people did start to come in a little later which did make me feel less self-conscience. 

I was seated and handed quite a few menus. They have a huge beer list. I like beer but I don't know all that much about it to be honest. So I was happy to see that they had the beer broken out by taste (fruity, hops, malty) to give me some place to start.  The complimentary bread included a pretzel bread that came with a mustard spread. It was good (if you like pretzels) and I thought it was a nice touch to go with the beer heavy menu.

My waiter explained all the menus for me and recommended the nettle garganelli (which I figured out was some sort of pasta which I had never heard of) which came in two sizes so it could be either an appetizer or an entree. I would have never ordered anything with nettle in the name on my own. It just sounds like something I wouldn't want to put in my mouth. But I did end up getting it as an appetizer. It was good. The corn was a nice fresh sweet taste that helped temper the onion so it didn't overpower the dish and the pasta was cooked al dente so it still had a good bite to it which I enjoyed. The only problem is I'm still not sure what nettle taste like. With all the flavors in the dish I didn't know which was the nettle. So I don't know if I like nettle but the dish was still good so it can’t be too bad.

For my entrĂ©e I got the pork ribs with gochujang and green apple-daikon slaw. They were pretty good. Fall off the bone tender. The gochujang had a nice spicy kick and the cool, creamy slaw was a nice counter point to that. I found the plate a little small so it was a little tricky pulling the meat off the bone without pushing things off onto the table. But I managed and enjoyed them.

For dessert I couldn’t pass up the funnel cake. It was good. I mean, it was sugary deep fried dough, how could it not be. But it wasn’t anything special and felt like something I could get at the fair. The staff was friendly enough and my waiter was happy to help me work through the beer menu. Altogether I was left with a neutral reaction to the experience. There was nothing that I was particularly disappointed about but there was also nothing that would pull me back.

Weekend Cooking is sponsered by Beth Fish Reads. Be sure to visit the other posts. You can find them on the Linky here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

I Am No One Review

I Am No One by Patrick Flanery

(from the back of the book)
After a decade living in England, Jeremy O’Keefe returns to New York, where he has been hired as a professor of German history at New York University. Though comfortable in his new life, and happy to be near his daughter once again, Jeremy continues to feel the quiet pangs of loneliness.  Walking through the city at night, he feels as though he could disappear and no one would even notice.

But soon, Jeremy’s life begins taking strange turns: boxes containing records of his online activity are delivered to his apartment, a young man seems to be following him, and his elderly mother receives anonymous phone calls slandering her son.  Why, he wonders, would anyone want to watch him so closely, and, even more upsetting, why would they alert him to the fact he was being watched?

As Jeremy takes stock of the entanglements that marked his years abroad, he wonders if he has unwittingly committed a crime so serious that he might soon be faced with his own denaturalization.  Moving toward a shattering reassessment of what it means to be free in a time of ever more intrusive surveillance, Jeremy is forced to ask himself whether he is “no one,” as he believes, or a traitor not just to his country but to everyone around him.

Flanery does a good job of creating an unsettling feeling.  You feel uneasy as you watch Jeremy start to examine his life.  All the people in his life start to have uncertain intentions.  Everything from his past starts to take on new significance.  He even starts to question his own sanity.  And it makes you think about how much privacy you have and if you have to act like you are being watched all the time, even if you are “no one.”  And it examines how something unexpected can make you question everything, even things you were completely sure of before.  Unfortunately I didn’t like Flanery’s style of writing.  He would go off on tangents that had nothing to do with the story.  Jeremy received a package that was about the same size as a cosmetics case his mother once had and he goes on for a paragraph about this case that has nothing to do with anything.  I can understand Jeremy, as the narrator, getting distracted by memories, but it happened a lot and they went on too long.  Then he would analyze simple things, like someone using his first name, or a look his daughter gave him, to death.  Again, some of it would be fine, but it is so much and mostly unrelated.  And Flanery tends to use really long sentences.  One page was a single sentence.  And I find, with sentences that long, it is easy to lose track of what is being said and to forget where it started.  So I liked the idea of this book more than I liked the way it was delivered.  It did hold my interest and keep me reading but since I wasn’t a fan of the way it was written I don’t see myself reading any Patrick Flanery in the future.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Friday 56 (Sept. 2)

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice

*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 Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar.  Nine experienced hikers go into the Ural mountains and never return.  Their bodies are found miles from the tent without shoes and sufficient clothes for the below freezing temperatures.  Why they would have fled the tent in this way remained a mystery for fifty years.

We stole glances at each other, registering our growing discomfort and both wondering at what point we could just stand up and leave.

Awwwwkward.  It must have been really hard to solve a mystery when you don't speak the language.  Especially when your translator is late.