Friday, September 26, 2014

The Fall

The Fall is the second book in The Strain trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. I've been watching The Strain television show on FX Canada and the more I watched it, the more I had to read the second book. Not only did the show put me in the mood for some more dark, vampire fiction, but something happened on the show that I knew related to the second book. How long until I read The Night Eternal?  We will see.

Vague Spoilers ahead.

I really enjoyed seeing the evolutions of Eph, Gus and Fet. These are not the same men who appeared in The Strain. They've adapted to the battle against the vampire strain infecting the world.  I wish Nora had been developed a little more.  I also didn't like the end of her, her mother and Zach.  I did like what happened with Palmer.  I continue to wonder how Eph and Fet's relationship will develop.

I'm not sure how I feel about The Fall.  It was a good story, a little slow at the beginning, but really picking up speed and flowing easily to the end.  It was engaging and entertaining.  It felt like a second book though.  The ending wasn't a total cliffhanger, but still full of wonder.  However, I know The Night Eternal does not pick up right away after the end of The Fall. It's years later, so I am not left with the urgency to read the final book, as so often happens with me and trilogies.  Next month is October though, the perfect time of year for vampire fiction.  Maybe I will be reading it soon.
I really want to know what happens to Zach.  His fate is left so dark, scary, and very uncertain.  That's what I am looking forward to most in the final book.  Also, after all that has happened, how will humanity survive?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Steel Cut Oats

Why do people love steel cut oats for their oatmeal in the morning?  I've heard from so many people how wonderful it is.  I've see recipes for different ways to make it on Pinterest and blogs.  I have been told that if I love oatmeal, I just have to try steel cut oats.  So, I finally bought a bag last week and now I'm wondering what I'm doing wrong.

I love oatmeal.  Regular, rolled oat oatmeal.  It's one of my favourite breakfasts.  It can be as simple or as complex as I want.  Often, I add raisins and a bit of maple syrup.  It's a warm way to start off a chilly fall or winter morning.  Why am I not getting this same feeling from steel cut oats?

Should I do one of the overnight recipes?  One of the baked recipes?  Why is this so hard?  I used an actual pot to make them, going beyond the ease of rolled oats in the microwave, because I WANT to know, I want to understand the love people have for them. 

I'm considering trying one of the overnight slow cooker recipes.  They seem like more work than I intended, but if they come out better, as wonderful as suggested, then it might be worth it.  I also think waking up to a cinnamon smell might be nice.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Where There's Smoke, by Jodi Picoult

I've always been curious about author Jodi Picoult.  She's written some wildly popular books, at least one I can think was made into a movie.  Pic out has written so many books, where do I start?  I start where I have with other authors.  I read a short story.  Where There's Smoke is available for free from iBooks, Kindle and Kobo.  It's also available through Google Play and as a PDF directly from Jodi Picoult's website.  If I missed anything, information is available through her site.

Where There's Smoke features a main character from Picoult's upcoming novel Leaving Time. It's offered for free, I believe, as part of the promotion for Leaving Time. I've always thought that offering free short stories is a good way to get people interested in a novel. Am I interested in reading Leaving Time. Yes...ish. Serenity, the main character and narrator of Where There's Smoke, is an interesting character. I like how naturally she describes and uses her psychic abilities. I could read more of Serenity, I thought I might have gotten a bit more in the short story. The story had a "prologue" feel to it. Though, what I considered the secondary storyline, was resolved, the main plot was not. I assume it will be dealt with in the novel, but as a short story on its own, the conclusion was lacking. So, while I want to know what happens to Serenity, the short story could have been just a smidge better.  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Expendables 2

So... The Expendables 2..... was fun.  It was cheesy and bloody and had some hilarious one-liners.  I loved the scene with Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Jet Li punched a guy so hard his face exploded.  There were some great fight scenes and shootouts.  Honestly though - and I've said this about action movies in the recent past - it needed more swearing.  A few good f-bombs raises the energy, gives it more of an "authentic" action movie feel.  It's not like I want swearing in my romantic comedies or my science-fiction.  It's just these specific kind of movies, with blood spray and excessive force. 

I think my favourite part of the movie was actually the outtakes on the disc.  It looks like working with Jean-Claude Van Damme is silly.  He seems to be goofing off, while playing this ruthless villain.  Wait, that may be my second favourite part.  My favourite part of the movie is the music they play whenever Chuck Norris shows up.  I mean, he's Chuck Norris, so of course he gets his own music.

I think Sylvester Stallone has created a fairly fun couple of movies.  I haven't seen the third yet, but I plan to.  Are these the best movies ever?  No, but they play up their own ridiculousness, which keeps me wanting to see more.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fresh Tomato Salsa

All the ingredients chopped up.
After months of buying beautiful produce from the local farmers market, I decided it was time to make my own salsa.  I didn't want to just throw tomatoes, onions and jalapeños in a container.  I wanted a recipe to guide me and found this tomato salsa recipe from All Recipes.  The recipe as written is good.  However, I wouldn't be me if I didn't tweek it.  I have my recipe below (click the link above for the original recipe). 

3 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped 
2 tbsp fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)

Everything mixed together
2 tbsp+ fresh jalapeño pepper, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- I used yellow pepper instead of green pepper (what the other recipe called for) because I was thinking, it might suck if someone got a chip-full of green pepper, except it wasn't green pepper.... also, I like colour.
- I prefer red onion over white, in general.  I also cut the amount in half because I found 1 cup overpowering, taking away from the fresh tomato flavour.
- I like spicy salsa, my Hubby likes spicier salsa.  So, more jalapeño.
Mmm.... Chips and Salsa.
- I also added more cumin.  I think it tastes better.
The salsa I make lasts about a week.  If I have people over, it doesn't last at all.  For some reason, people seem impressed that I make salsa from scratch.  It's not hard.  Just a lot of chopping.  Guacamole, other dips I've made take more work, but don't get the same reaction.  I hope more people can enjoy making their own homemade salsa.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lock In

Lock In is the second book I've read by John Scalzi and it was super-fantastic.  I was engaged, entrapped, "locked in" from the first chapter.  I loved Agent Chris Shane and his hardass, drinking, smoking partner, Agent Vann.  The plot was fast-paced and kept me reading late into the night. I loved everything about this story. I thought the virus was interesting, as was the advancements made to help those who suffered from Lock In. I thought Chris Shane had a very unusual first week with his new partner. I thought Chris's family was interesting and I like how they became part of the plot of the story. I thought Tony and Tayla were great secondary characters. I like Trinh and Davidson. Every character seemed to have a full life/backstory that we just don't see in the story. 

I was lucky and won an ARC of Lock In from Goodreads. I loved Redshirts and was excited to read more by Scalzi. I also really enjoy his blog, Whatever. Basically in Lock In, a virus plagues the world. Most people are affected and most end up okay, but one percent suffer from "lock in" being trapped in their own bodies, yet completely conscious and aware. Chris Shane, becomes the most famous child with Haden's - the disease gets its name from the president's wife and daughter. Technologies are created to help those who suffer from being locked in. Everything is about this one percent, which in America, where the story is based, is 1.7 million people. If you think about it globally, that's 70 million people. There is no cure, so people are continually being affected. The American president throws money at research and no one argues, everyone supports it since they all know someone locked in. After a generation of this, a couple of senators sign a bill cutting funding to Haden's research programs; that's when things get violent. 
The description doesn't do it justice. The book is amazing. The Agora is fascinating, people with Lock In can exist there and make it whatever they want it to me. Threeps, aka Person Transports are fantastic and I love who they're named after. Scalzi invents things I wish were real and I wonder if one day they will be. I can't express how much I enjoyed Lock In. I hope that Scalzi writes more about Shane and Vann, I want to know what happens next.