Hey-o

Aug. 20th, 2017 07:59 pm
next_to_normal: (Hunger Games)
[personal profile] next_to_normal
Been a while. I spent my summer flailing and screaming and anticipating the end of the world, how about you?

My health still sucks, although that's mostly unrelated to our impending doom. Basically, I still have Crohn's, and while surgery alleviated the worst pain, I'm now discovering all sorts of new things that a year and a half on opioids was masking, like constant diarrhea and joint pain. Whee! I can still only manage to eat vegetables about once a week, and I haven't really attempted alcohol in any realistic quantity.

In other news, I am match-dot-comming again. I might even go on an actual date this time. I am still bitter that my previous (hilarious) reaction posts are now basically toast because all my gifs were on photobucket. I may have to describe my experiences using ACTUAL WORDS from now on (the horror!).

Um, I cooked things? Some of these things were a long time ago, like the Sticky Lemon Cake I made for my dad for Father's Day. This cake is SO good, would make again, but it totally does NOT fit in an 8-inch round pan. It did not even fit in the 8x3 loaf pan I used instead, because of the editor's note and all the comments about it. So... use a bigger pan than that. And also cook it for longer than 30 minutes, like closer to 50. Seriously, does no one actually try these recipes before posting them to make sure they work?

Like this Robinson Cove Crab Salad, which is really more of a dip, and that's even before you account for the fact that it was super watery and I had to literally strain it before eating. I don't know why it was so watery, the only liquid in it is lemon juice and it's not that much. It's also pretty bland. We ate it while my parents were here, and my mom was like, "Eh, not bad," and then dumped a bunch of spices in. (She suggested Old Bay, which I didn't have, so I think we ended up just using ginger, paprika, and nutmeg, which were the components of Old Bay I had.) 

One recipe that actually did work was Prosciutto-Stuffed Chicken. Setting aside the fact that the supermarket only had chicken breasts the size of a football and so three of them managed to last me six meals. (I cut the rest of the recipe in half.) But I didn't even mind eating the leftovers for a week. I used asparagus, not broccoli, because it's friendlier to my digestive system, and honestly felt like the ratio of rice to asparagus was a little high, but more green vegetables probably wouldn't have done me any good anyway.

I also made No-Bake S'mores Bars, which were good. Fair warning, though: these fuckers get VERY hard when you refrigerate them, and then when you take 'em out of the fridge, there's, like, a 30-second window between "break your teeth" and "melty chocolate mess" in which you must consume them. 
lyssie: (Aeryn and John still full of desperation)
[personal profile] lyssie
Still alive and (somewhat) kicking.

We're coming on the end of fiscal year at work, which means evaluations and reviews and I am... just augh, no. Go away stupid things that don't do me any good and make me anxious and annoyed. My skills at bullshitting have got me through the last two, not so sure that will work now. Newboss is a bit more... sticklerish.

In case anyone was wondering, yes I do think Nazis are bad. The fact our president couldn't say that is... unsurprising. Anyone who voted for him is to blame by proxy for the deaths that happened over the weekend.

On another subject, I'll be at Dragoncon again this year.

Approach to Housesteads

Aug. 14th, 2017 08:41 pm
purplecat: Hand Drawn picture of a Toy Cat (Default)
[personal profile] purplecat




I've no pictures from last week so have another from the week before. This is the approach to Housesteads fort from the East. Imagine what that must have been like when both wall and fort walls were more than a couple of feet high!
emeraldarrows: Robin Of Sherwood - Robin and Marion hugging (5)
[personal profile] emeraldarrows
Next on my list was Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin, an alternative historical thriller with a bizarre, but intriguing premise. And, despite my reservations, I ended up being quite impressed.



Summary on the back: The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's Ball in Tokyo. Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin's brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

My thoughts: This was another hard book to define. The premise is fascinating, and despite my initial reservations - the entire concept seemed slightly disrespectful - the historical background was handled quite well, even if it was occasionally difficult to read. There were a few moments that made me very uncomfortable, but for the most part I felt the writer did a good job balancing the realistic horror with sometimes inspiring fantasy. I do usually love alternative history, so the concept caught my attention from the start. Several moments, particularly in the flashbacks, were haunting and poignant. And the writing style was often lovely.

Yael was both likeable, and easy to relate to, and her ability was very interesting. Most of the supporting characters were a little bit lacking and indistinctive to me. The world-building was quite well done, and despite a few overly imaginative elements, much of the story felt believable. The ending felt abrupt, and a little bit of a letdown after all the buildup (hopefully the sequel will be better resolved), but for the most part I enjoyed the plot.

Overall, Wolf By Wolf was a very good, if somewhat unsettling book that left me planning to read the sequel.
emeraldarrows: Constantine - John smirking (4)
[personal profile] emeraldarrows
My latest reading was The Coldest Girl In Coldtown by Holly Black. I enjoyed her The Darkest Part of the Forest, so when I learned that she'd written a vampire novel, I had to add it to my list.



Summary on the back: Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown's gates, you can never leave. One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

My thoughts: This book was...difficult to describe. It had an odd and unpredictable tone that kept giving me whiplash - from humor that had me giggling to jarringly violent and tragic moments, and the plot kept veering between utterly brilliant and disappointingly predictable YA fantasy. The urban gothic feel appealed to me highly, but the lack of details left me wanting more. I really loved the concept of the Coldtowns, but found the world-building annoying vague - I wanted so much more backstory and explanations! - with the most interesting parts teased but barely explored, particularly the vampires who choose to end their lives. Tana was, by turns, a perfectly interesting character and so naively stupid I wanted to shake her - most of the time, she reminded me of the character who goes into the dark room in a horror movie and gets killed off early. Seriously, most of her choices were questionable, to say the least, even taking into account her childhood trauma and age. Aidan seemed to be a completely unnecessary character - or maybe it's just the way I saw him? - and Midnight and Winter were intensely unlikable, right from the start.

But, I loved Gavriel. While I would have liked more of his past, motives, and even his romance with Tana to be fleshed out, his character was by far the very best thing about the book. I like my literary vampires unquestionably non-human, and dangerous, and Gavriel hit every trope I love and then some. His backstory was fascinating and tragic, and I liked the ending, and the choice he made.

Overall, The Coldest Girl In Coldtown was a strange book, that I couldn't decide if I truly liked or not, a disjointed mix of the excellent and the disappointing.

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