Friday, September 30, 2016

Luke Cage: Episode #1

Maybe I couldn't wait. Maybe I've been so excited for Luke Cage that I had to watch it on my lunch break. (It's cool though. I didn't actually skip work.)

So I saw episode one and I'm hooked. Just like Jessica Jones, just like Daredevil. That first scene, it's so simple, yet says so much. He's starting over. He's hiding. He still misses his wife. There are so many looks, so many moments, that had me riveted to the screen. I'm going to keep the rest of this brief, as the show hasn't even been out for 24 hours yet.

- Cottonmouth reminded me of Fisk, so much.
- I love Alfrie Woodard.
- The jail! Backstory! Yay!
- The cop ;)
- I love Pops.
- That one kid was crazy.

I know Claire Temple is going to be in the series, but I wonder if we'll see anyone else from the Netflix shows. Also, Mike Coulter is amazing. His portrayal of Luke Cage since Jessica Jones has just been fantastic.

The trailor... you know, in case you haven't seen it already.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Blast from the Past #4 - Daisy Miller

I wish I had written more about Daisy Miller when I read it 10 years ago. She seems like such an interesting and multi-dimensional character. I only vaguely remember the story. I remember Winterbourne. Were there some kind of ruins? I remember his affection for Daisy. I remember Daisy being a unique person for that time. 100 years later, would Daisy's behaviour have been so shocking.?What would I think if I read the story again? I should read it again. I've enjoyed everything I've ever read by Henry James. The Turn Of The Screw is one of my favourite stories. Could Daisy Miller become a favourite too? It's not long. Will it be like when I read Appointment With Death after looking back at The ABC Murders? Don't be surprised if I read Daisy Miller again.

Also, there's a huge spoiler at the end of the post, which I didn't include in the image, because it's about the ending. Sometimes I like talking about endings, because they can be dramatic, but ten years later, I had forgotten the ending and have now spoiled it for myself. Good job, Me.

Looking at these posts from my early blogging though, I'm still wondering when I starting putting pictures in my posts. Or links. Or doing any kind of formatting at all.

About last week, part of me wants to delete it. It feels so personal... I don't know if I'm going to do another post like that for a while.

I'm still very happy I decided to do Throwback Thursdays. I am finding looking back at my old posts quite enlightening.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Rebel Spring

The world that Morgan Rhodes has created is beautiful. Mytica is a mysterious island, where King Gaius has forced three countries into one. The island is one with hidden magic, with magical beings watching it. There is a magical treasure to find and these beings are influencing the mortal world. They should all be working towards the same goal, but maybe not. The story is rich, with enough movement that I can't say where it will all end. With such a fantastic world and plot, it is the characters that have me coming back.

When I started Rebel Spring, I was so excited to find out what happened to the characters from Falling Kingdoms. Cleo and Jonas, Magnus and Lucia, all had such open ends to their stories. But I didn't expect the new characters to grip me just as much. Lysandra is amazing and Prince Ashur is intriguing. The Watchers gave me more than one, what the f@#$?! moment. I can't wait to see where these characters are going to go. Rebel Spring is full of unexpected twists and reveals. Morgan Rhodes created such a high intensity sequel, it had me hooked into this series more than the first book.

I really like that the book opens with Lysandra. Even though I wanted to know about the other characters, Lysandra's story is important. It also gives you a good idea what the tone of this novel is going to be like. There's a lot of death. There's torture and destruction. Blood will be spilled on the land, Gaius is the King of Blood after all. Lysandra also concludes this story, making the novel more complete than if the ending has less of her.

Also, Prince Ashur! He is going to be a wild card. I wasn't sure how he was going to fit into this intense, complex mix of characters, but he did his job. He's getting in there. He's learning and forging alliances, among other things. I'm excited to see what he does next. I wonder who he'll side with or if he has an agenda all his own.

That moment between Cleo and Lucia, what is going to come from that? Cleo has lost everything. Her entire life has changed and she really is lucky to be alive. She's long gone from that spoiled princess. She's learning to be a leader, to be strong, to be smart. She's learning to believe in magic. I want her to make the right decisions, but between Jonas and Magnus, Lucia and the king, I'm not always sure what that's going to be. Her relationship with Jonas is what I thought it would be, but her relationship with Magnus is something different.

Is Lucia going to be a villian? I can't tell. I don't want her to be. I think she has the potential to join Mytica together in a way unlike her father, but I don't know if she's capable. How much is she going to be influenced by others and by her own power? Is she going to lose herself? I feel like Rhodes initially wrote her as an innocent girl, being controlled by her adoptive father, but I'm not sure about that any more; she's not the girl she used to be.

I need to keep reading this series. Except for Cleo, the King of Blood, and maybe Jonas, I can't tell who the heroes and villians of this story are going to be. Anyone could choose to do anything. Many of their decisions seem personal, but they will effect the whole of Mytica.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Homemade Burger

The lighting in my dining room is
bad. I should have taken the picture
I know it's fall now, and the last hot weekend was probably last weekend, but I just have to share this homemade burger recipe. It's not winter yet, after all.

Ted Reader's recipe has served me well. I made a couple changes, as I always do. Follow the link to see the original recipe. My changes are below.

Here's the burger recipe, with my minor changes:

3 lbs ground beef
4 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 red onion (it calls for white onion and a whole one, but I like red better and one onion is too much.)
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1.5 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 or 12 buns (depends on how big you want your burgers. I would not do 6)
Mix it all together well.

When I make burgers for the four of us, I make 1/3 of the recipe. I make the burgers about 1cm thick and about a big around as my hand. When they grill, they shrink and thicken, if you know what I mean. I have a friend that I gave this recipe to and she dices some jalapeños to add to the mix. I definitely have to try that version.

You know what makes this burger great? The butter. It just gets absorbed into the meat and the burger is so moist. I feel like it's practically impossible to dry this burger out - and I might occasionally set my grill on fire. This is without a doubt, my go-to burger recipe. I hope you get a chance to enjoy some more barbecue time before the fall chill sets in!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Paperbacks and Hardcovers

I'm thinking of switching to paperbacks for a certain author. This author's books are HUGE! I think they might be getting bigger too. In general, I'm a hardcover fan. I don't know why. I think it's partly an aesthetic thing. They're big and tall and sturdy. They just give me a feeling that I think a lot of book lovers, no matter their preference can relate to. As I've gotten older, my preference for hardcovers has grown.

However, they're not cheap. I'm a book lover who also likes a good price. I buy from sales, bargain bins and used bookstores. If there's a book I want and the paperback is significantly cheaper than the hardcover, I'll go for the paperback. (I do have moments where I want paperbacks too.)

Which brings me back to this particular author. A book has come out that I want. But it's HUGE! In hardcover, this book and future books by this author would take up a lot of space. Space that I don't have. Even though I'd have to wait, waiting for paperback might be a good idea. Also, the hardcovers from this author seem to be getting more expensive. I'm pretty sure all of the books I have from this author are hardcover, which makes the decision more difficult. It'd be switching formats. Do I want to do that? I think I do. The uniform-ness of that author's books, might look nice, but in general, I don't tend to need books to match, it's just because all of these do.

I know I could just get the book from the library, but I'm a book hoarder. I accept it. Though the library has been getting more appealing as I run out of space.

So, that's it, right? I'm waiting for the paperback?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Blast from the Past #3 - It Is All About The Comment This Time

I had a hard time deciding which post from the first half of September 2006 to talk about. Was I going to look back at An International Episode, a story written by Henry James, or was I going to talk about the time I got "corneal ulcers" (my eyes are fine now, so no worries). On the surface, one definitely seems a little more interesting than the other (I think). However, what left me thinking was the comment someone left on the An International Episode post. It's a comment I never responded to, yet didn't delete. I just wasn't sure how I wanted to handle it. I guess I ended up with the old tried and true, "ignore it" solution. It kind of worked. It went away. I hadn't thought of this specific thing for about 10 years. Now though, I'm doing this thing where I look back at posts from the past and talk about them. I'm looking at how I felt about something and if those feelings and impressions have changed over the years. Like with last week's post, they can influence me now.
I didn't include the name, but you can see it if you go to the original post.

The comment may seem innocuous at first, just someone recommending a book, but it irks me. It's presumptuous. The commenter, whose blog I never visited because of my annoyance, assumes I'm Indian, which I'm not. It's something that's happened to me my whole life. I get it, I know I "look Indian", as explained to me by, like, a hundred people and I'm probably not exaggerating as this has been occurring since puberty. From that tiny little profile picture (which I aught to change, as it's been 10 years), this person assumed I was Indian . Also, I know it's different now, but it used to say in my "About Me" blurb that my parents immigrated from Trinidad and I was born in Canada. Admittedly, I do have some Indian heritage from several generations ago, but you wouldn't know that from reading my blog. The commenter recommended a book to me, entirely based on the presumption of my being Indian (and because the commener apparently lived in her neighbourhood). Not that I don't want to read Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake. I actually picked up a copy a few months ago, so I have it, with the intention of reading it. It also sounds like something I would relate to because of the immigration themes, as I have read a a few books from immigrants, Indian and otherwise, and find they often have similar issues. Not because the Indian part will "hit home" with me. Really, this person just sounds like they were trying to make a connection, but they didn't do it in a way that would get me to respond.

Have I blown this out of proportion? Maybe. Maybe the comment just represents something I've had to deal with my whole life. Presumption about my ethnicity, people asking where I'm "actually" from, people not liking or believing the response when I say I'm Canadian, is a decades old battle. Somehow, for some people, saying I'm Canadian is not good enough. Occasionally, I don't get "you look Indian". Sometimes people randomly speak to me in other languages, assuming I would know what they're saying. Just a few weeks ago (specifically, the night of the Tragically Hip concert on the CBC), someone spoke to me in Portuguese because he thought I was Brazilian. Seriously? Yup. I laughed it off. We were at a party and I wasn't going to let someone ruin our time. Though I did make fun of him and tried to point out what a dumb thing that was to do. He was older too. I find I get less of this from people my age or younger.

So, 10 years ago, I ignored the comment and this person, whoever they are. This came just a couple years after two different job situations in which I had to deal with some.... things. One was terrible; the other was more a steady stream of annoyance.

I know I usually don't talk about this kind of stuff; I like that my blog is about books and movies and in general, things that make me happy. I even thought about deleting all this once I wrote it. I don't even know how coherent it all is. It seems like a bit of a rant. The comment, these memories, and even a recent event, brought up such strong feelings in me. I'm a little hesitant to share these feelings on the internet, but today I'm feeling brave.

I feel like I should have some kind of concluding sentence or statement here, but I don't know what else to say. It's not like this kind of thing is going to "conclude" for me. At least it happens (to me at least) with less frequency than 10+ years ago. I guess for today, that's all she wrote.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Undead and Unsure

Perfect Laura is just awful. She's the Anti-Christ though, so I don't know what I expected. I can't elaborate without spoiling the story. I let what she did sit with me for a bit, but she makes me so angry. MaryJanice Davidson spent several books, possibly since Laura was first introduced, setting up the ending to this novel. I didn't see the full twist coming though. Some of it was expected, but not all. Did she always know she was going to do this? Sometimes, I still can't believe it, what a terrible girl and such a cold-hearted thing to do.

Undead and Unsure is another entertaining installment is the Undead series. Whenever I want something fun to read Queen Betsy is there for me. Like the other Undead books, Undead and Unsure had a quirky storyline and piled together is an unlikely cast of characters. Really though, I loved the baby storyline. Dr. Taylor coming in and trying to tell everyone something was wrong, but NO ONE listened? How everything distracted them from what should have been a horrible situation? Those moments were the best for me. I also really liked the hellfog. That strengthened the sister versus sister storyline. I still have to say, the best part of the story was the end. The epilogue made the book so much better. It caused me to be a little astonished and a little mad too (in a good way). It also made me very excited to read the rest of the series. I know the final book in the series will be out soon, but I have two more to read before I see Betsy's end. I hope it's a happy(ish) one.

Can I also mention how excited it was to get some of the story from Sinclair's perspective? His tone was different, it was nice to hear him, the way he thinks and some deeper truths into who he is. Reading him from Betsy's perspective has long kept him at a distance. I feel like he's deep, thoughful and loves his wife. I hope that more books will have his perspective and maybe the perspective of other members of their family. I always enjoy the Undead books and I look forward to more.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Appointment With Death

I wish I could figure these stories out before the end. Sort of. I thought it was, who it was, for a few pages, but then some of the stuff that Poirot said, threw me off. It's all about the psychology of the crime, at least in this case, though coupled with evidence. It's hard to figure out stuff too when so many people are lying.

Appointment with Death is another wonderful and interesting Agatha Christie mystery. I love Hercule Poirot. He's so different. He's unassuming, soft-spoken, but he sees everything. He sits and speaks with all the interested parties, but he doesn't play much of a part in the first part of the novel. The first part of the novel establishes the Boyton family. We are introduced to the victim as she is in life, and the people who surround her. We meet her children, a family friend and the people who are travelling along side them. This part of the novel gives us an idea of motive, but also what might happen as a result of the matriarch's death.

I loved Sarah King. She was the star of the book for me. She was a woman, travelling on her own, who was also a doctor. The other medical person, Gerard, showed her respect, as did everyone else in the camp. Christie definitely wrote some strong, intelligent, formidable female characters. Sarah King did allow her feelings to get in the way. Though she was certain of "anything medical", her feelings definitely influenced her. From her first conversation with Dr. Gerard, I just loved her confidence.

The ending though, that was a serious surprise. Not just the figuring out of what happened, Poirot going through each member of the assembled party in classic Christie style, but after. The obituary... I won't say anything else, because I don't want to spoil it, but this was Christie at her best. Also, the epilogue was lovely. The reunion was great.

I'm so glad I finally read my fifth Agatha Christie classic. Appointment With Death is everything I wanted to be and I recommend it to any Agatha Christie fan.

This is also #26 on my Classics list. (I'm so behind.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Angel Catbird

Wow. I'm totally hooked. I guess instead of "resting on her laurels"* Margaret Atwood can pretty much write and publish whatever she wants. So, instead of being a "nice, literary old lady"** Atwood decided to write a fun, funny, graphic novel. Angel Catbird is so fantastical, so unbelievable, that you just have to go with it. It's almost satirical in some of its absurdity.

Angel Catbird takes some of the superhero tropes and makes them so obvious. Mutations, chemical spills, powers from animals, loss of a "loved one", secret identities, they're all right there. The main character is a nerdy scientist and he gets turned into Angel Catbird, and he's beautiful. I loved the art in this story. The drawing, the colouring, the detail was lovely. I couldn't help but be drawn in by the cover and by the images of Angel Catbird and the Half-Cats. Cate Leone was fantastic, easily moving between professional and alluring. Count Catula was just fun.

I have to admit though, I was not totally happy with the end. I know that Angel Catbird is the first volume in the series, but I would have liked the ending to be a little more satisfying. It's not really a cliffhanger, as we know the bad guy's next step, I just wish the beginning of the story felt more complete. Instead, the first volume of Angel Catbird felt almost like the first episode of a television series.

I have to say, I love the note from Johnnie Christmas in his sketchbook, with the character drawings of Cate Leone, saying that he hadn't really done any "sexy" comics before and Atwood told him how to do it. That's Canada's nice, award-winning, literary lady. With all the stuff she comes up with, I want Margaret Atwood to write forever.

*From Atwood's introduction to Angel Catbird.
**Also from the introduction.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Crown of Midnight

I have so many feelings. So many. I mean the big "twist" at the end, I saw coming. Most people did, right? But it wasn't about the twist, it was about the journey getting there. It was about secrets and Chaol. What is going to happen? What decisions are going to be made? Who will be the next to die? Crown of Midnight came out in 2013 and it's the second book in the popular Throne of Glass series. I know a lot of people have read it, but obviously not everyone, so I will try to be vague about any spoilery information. Seriously through, this book was better than the first, better than the novellas and I don't know if it's the plot, but I think Sarah J. Maas's writing seemed more mature and engaging. I feel like there were many more feelings and secrets woven through the tale.

Should we talk about Celaena? She's just so much more complicated than I thought after reading Throne of Glass and The Assassin's Blade. She seemed so much a "girl" in the first book. While she could fight, she liked pretty things. She found her first friend. She had a crush on the prince. But there is so much more to her. She has changed in all kinds of fantastical ways. By the end of this story, many of those girlish things have fallen away. She's an assassin, a warrior. She's in love. She's not above revenge. Though sometimes her emotions guide her down dark paths. She has so many secrets, most of which she tells Chaol, but he has to figure the rest out himself. I am also left wondering if there are more.

Speaking of being an assassin, Crown of Midnight was definitely more violent than the first novel. That was something I think I mentioned when I read Throne of Glass, that for being called "Adarlan's Assassin", she didn't really kill a whole lot of people in that story, nor did she do as much fighting as I would have expected. That has all changed. Someone hurts Celaena or one of her very few friends, watch out. They're pretty much toast. She might give off the impression of being a young, blonde, pretty girl, but she's deadly. The scene in the warehouse was fantastic. So, was the last big battle. Secrets and swords flying.

In the first book, I think I felt bad for Chaol, watching Celaena and Dorian, but this time, I felt bad for Dorian. He seemed so distant from both Celaena and Chaol. He needed a friend, but all he found was Roland. I thought Roland was one thing, but in the end, he ended up as possibly something else. Dorian just seemed so alone. He has changed so much too. He's more than just a prince with a crush.

Chaol is still my favourite though. He's torn, through so much of the novel. Who holds his loyalty? What is he willing to do for Celaena? He can appear stoic and hard, but he's so full of emotion. His interactions with his father tell so much. What Chaol is willing to do and sacrifice shows so much of his character. By the end of the book, I just want to hug him.

The characters definitely make this series for me. Not just these three. Nehemia is wonderful and sad. Elena is full of secrets. So is the King. Archer was a great addition. Even Ress seemed to know when to act and when to be quiet. I'm interested in how Dorian's little brother Hollin will develop, portrayed as a young brat, he can't be that way forever. Yellowlegs was wicked. So was Duke Perrington. I wonder what's going to happen to Kaltain and Roland. There are so many questions still.

Crown of Midnight is the book that has definitely hooked me into the series and I can't wait to read the rest. It's so hard not to read the synopses for the other books. Looking at the covers, as lovely as they are, I think they give away a little bit too, especially Empire of Storms, the 5th (sort of 6th) book, which is is out in a few days. I'm hoping to pick it up and the rest of the series too.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Blast From The Past #2 - The ABC Murders

(AKA: Throwback Thursday)

I realized that while I definitely, totally want to look back at my blogging this year, doing it every week is going to be to hard. So, it'll be bi-weekly, maybe more often if I can swing it. Doing it bi-weekly though, gives me a bit better selection as to which posts from the past I'll be highlighting, as I was apparently not a "regular" poster back then. After looking at this week's post and last week's, I also did not add pictures to my posts. I don't know when I started doing that, but I'll likely be finding out as I take this journey.

Approximately 10 years ago, I read The ABC Murders, by Agatha Christie. This was my second book by Christie, having read Murder on the Orient Express the fall before. I also read this on my honeymoon, per the post. There was also a big twist at the end, which I don't remember. I remember remember really liking the post. I remember other chracters underestimating Poirot. Maybe The ABC Murders is another book I'll have to re-read.

When I looked back to figure out which post to highlight this week, it left me in a "Christie" sort of mood. I read two other books by her since this post and I own a fifth. Why haven't I read the fifth book after so many years? I have no idea. Too many books, not enough time? So, I pulled Appointment with Death off my shelf and I'm a couple of chapters in. I'm excited to see what's going to happen with this family and how the woman and French doctor are involved. From what I remember about Christie, she does not introduce characters lightly. I also like that looking back at the past influenced what I was going to read now.