Monday, November 21, 2022

You're Okay


I'm So Happy You're Here by Liz Climo

These cute animals will give you a pep talk to get you through a hard day.

A host of adorable animals tell you things that everyone needs to hear sometimes:  don't listen to the haters, the mistakes from your past don't define you, believe in yourself, and such.  It is touching and heartening even though you have heard most of these messages before.  It is a good little book to read if you are having a day, or week, or life, where you feel badly about yourself, and it would make a great gift for a friend who is having a hard time.  

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Lunch at Midnight

Night Lunch words by Eric Fan pictures by Dena Seiferling

Owl runs a lunch cart for all the animals who come out at night.

The illustrations are beautiful.  I like how the sepia tones and lack of hard lines give it all a dream like quality.  And all of the animals that come to the cart are fun.  The story is nice, watching Owl make lunch for everyone and sharing what he has with a poor mouse who has nothing.  But I wish the words had more of a rhythm to them.  At times it starts to fall into a rhythm but never quite does.  It's a pleasant enough picture book but it isn't one I see myself reading to my niece and nephew over and over again.

I got a free copy of this book from, Early Reviewers.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

What is a cordial bar?

I wanted to go out and wanted to try someplace I had never been before.  And my husband and I also wanted someplace near a train stop because we planned to get drunk.  So, I looked around and found The Kenmore.  It was right by the Kenmore MBTA station.  The menu was mostly burgers and hotdogs, but I didn't want fancy.  Besides the "K" burger was only $5.95, and they had a good selection of sours, so it seemed perfect.

We get there on a Tuesday night at around 4:30.  It is not a big place but it was comfortable and inviting.  On a Tuesday night it was not busy and we easily got a seat at the bar.  We were told they had some specials where you could get a hotdog for a dollar or a burger for two.  We didn't try it so I don't know how big they were, but you can't complain much when you only pay two bucks for a burger.

We always start with a drink and we wanted some bourbon.  But we couldn't get any because they didn't have any.  The bartender told us they were a cordial bar and didn't carry it.  No straight whisky at all.  No straight anything as far as I could tell.  Fireball, Jack Daniels Honey, Dr. McGillicuddy's?  Sure.  But a drink of scotch, no.  They did have Slow & Low: Rock and Rye, which is a premixed old fashioned.  And since we were already there and didn't want to find some place else we settled for that.  It was tasty, a little sweet, but not what we were hoping for when we went out.  

The food was good.  We started with the steak and cheese eggrolls.  They were cheesy and crispy and delicious.  Then we both got the "K" Burger with a side of fries.  The burger was tasty.  It was not the biggest burger in the world but it was the size you expect for $5.95.  And the shoestring fries were delicious.  

I tried to get into the spirt of thing and got some Fireball.  Which I like.  So that was fine.  But then I asked for some amaretto and was told they had none.  No amaretto in a cordial bar?  I don't get it.  In fact, I really don't get the whole thing.  It's not that I don't enjoy a good cordial, but I want the option of getting a neat drink of whisky.

The service was... indifferent.  We got there between shifts, so we were served by two bartenders.  The first was, shall we say, casual.  She was attentive enough and gave me a sample of a sour because I finished off the sour on tap while I was there but she was not the friendliest bartender I've ever seen.  The second bartender spent more time sitting with his friend at a table than he did behind the bar.  I know it was a slow night but I had to wait for him to come back to order something a couple of times.

I can see that this might be a place some people might like to hang out in if beers are all you are after, but I will not be going back.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Campari oh, oh. Campari oh, oh, oh, oh.

Campari.  What is Campari?  The bottle just says 'product of Italy' and 'bitter'.  Which is accurate but not that very helpful.  If you Google it you get some more help.  It is considered an aperitif and is obtained by infusing herbs and fruit in alcohol and water.  I, personally, would not want to sip on Campari by itself.  Because it is pretty bitter.  But it does make some really tasty cocktails.

Siesta Cocktail - very well balanced so the bitter and the sour all come together into a very pleasant cocktail.

Jungle Bird

Jungle Bird
- is actually slightly sweet with the pineapple juice to counter the Campari

Garibaldi - simple, just orange juice and Campari, it is nice, not as bitter as I thought it would be

Boulevardier - a lot of deep flavors here so it is a rich cocktail, I think if you like


bourbon you will like this

Old Pal - another bourbon cocktail, this one with dry vermouth which makes it slightly lighter than the Boulevardier

Negroni - a classic, the bright flavor of the gin is a nice counterpoint to the Campari and vermouth

Pink Tutu - just a hint of Campari, a refreshing cocktail

Bobbo's Bride - the sweet peach liquor stops this one from being too bitter, but the Campari is in the
forefront, so it isn't sweet either

Lost Lake - a lot of fruit juice in this one gives it a tropical drink feel, it's tasty but you need a lot of ingredients

Mojito Italiano

Venetian Blush - another one that has some specialty ingredients, but it is worth it, this is one of my favorites

Mojito Italiano - the fizz of the soda is replaced by Prosecco, and the Campari adds a little depth

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

I feel like I'm drowning in this book

 Watersong by Clarissa Goenawan

Shouji runs afoul of some very important people and has to flee for his life.  But he has to do it without his girlfriend who is no where to be found.  Will he ever see her again?  Where could she possibly be?

I had a hard time deciding how I felt about this book.  There are some interesting concepts here.  But nothing ever really took full shape for me.  Everything felt hazy and unreal.  Shouji, and the reader, just seem to be floating along.  Going no where in particular, just letting the current take us... wherever.  And in the end I never got back to shore.  I was still lost at sea.  I can't say it was not entertaining to read.  But at the same time I can't tell you any particular part of the book I liked.  I didn't connect with any of the characters and none of the plot lines or scenarios felt very real.  And the whole thing left me feeling unresolved.  Like a trip that didn't go anywhere.  I will not be reading anything else by Goenawan.

I got a free copy of this book from, Early Reviewers.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

It's all about the hair

 Frizzy written by Claribel A. Ortega, art by Rose Bousamra

Marlene has curly hair.  And she has been told all her life that it is not 'good hair'.  That to look her best she must get it straightened.  But why?  Why isn't her hair 'good hair'?  Why can't curly hair be pretty too?  Why can't she just be herself?  

This graphic novel, aimed a middle school aged children, is full of heavy issues: bullying, self-image, racism, growing up, standing up for yourself.  They are all handled deftly and the story never gets heavy handed.  I like the balance Ortega achieves in her characters.  Marlene is slightly defiant but not disrespectful of her mother.  Her mother doesn't understand Marlene but she is loving and not unkind.  It is a enjoyable journey as you watch Marlene try to navigate some tricky life issues.  She is being told to be herself but also being told (by the same person) that she should change.  She is very relatable as she tries to make her mother happy but at the same time not lose herself.  The ending is a bit idealized I think.  It almost seems too easy.  I think there would have been more tension in the real world.  But it is very satisfying and heartwarming.  The expressive, vibrant artwork is wonderful and brings this lovely story to life.  Anyone who has been told they are less because of who they are, or that they have to become someone they are not to fit in will relate to Marlene and her story.