Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Look, I know I haven't been here in a while....

I got married!
I'm going back to school for another degree!
P is working two jobs, getting their business off the ground! Damn you, trademarks!
I'm still working full-time!
Cue equal parts terror and excitement!

I'm not saying it's quits for this blog, because reading and writing are my life and I'm sure I'll get back to them once I have a significant amount of brainspace to devote to them. But for now, it's all studying and just-enough-fiction-to-keep-from-going-insane and desperately trying to make sure there's food in the fridge and clean clothing in the drawers. And you know, that I've showered at some point in the last week (it's harder than you think). But yeah, I'm busy, and P's busy, and I miss everyone here and all of my reading and writing pals.

I put off writing this post for way too long. I'll still update if I get a hankering for it (like right now). Eventually, I may do a How We Pulled Off an Awesome Wedding for $6k post. Maybe. I'm really just trying to keep my head on straight right now. Good luck to me! And see you around.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Books Read in January

January was such a goddamned good month for books.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker

      August 30, 1975: the day fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan is glimpsed fleeing through the woods, never to be heard from again; the day Somerset, New Hampshire, lost its innocence.
      Thirty-three years later, Marcus Goldman, a successful young novelist, visits Somerset to see his mentor, Harry Quebert, one of the country’s most respected writers, and to find a cure for his writer’s block as his publisher’s deadline looms. But Marcus’s plans are violently upended when Harry is suddenly and sensationally implicated in the cold-case murder of Nola Kellergan—whom, he admits, he had an affair with. As the national media convicts Harry, Marcus launches his own investigation, following a trail of clues through his mentor’s books, the backwoods and isolated beaches of New Hampshire, and the hidden history of Somerset’s citizens and the man they hold most dear. To save Harry, his own writing career, and eventually even himself, Marcus must answer three questions, all of which are mysteriously connected: Who killed Nola Kellergan? What happened one misty morning in Somerset in the summer of 1975? And how do you write a book to save someone’s life?
( BN | GR )

This was a wonderful, calm-yet-thrilling book that I absolutely cherished. The writers out there will appreciate the flashbacks opening each chapter, where rules for writing are likened to rules for living. If you loved The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, you will also love this better-written younger sister. (And did you know that a sequel to the Millenium Trilogy is coming out this August? What Doesn't Kill Us by David Lagercrantz. Can't wait!) I am happy I spent the extra money to get a paperback copy; it's now working its way between coworkers and friends, and I'm sure I'm going to want to read it again.

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

      Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He's won skiing prizes. He likes to write.
      And, oh yeah, he's gay. He's been out since 8th grade, and he isn't teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that's important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.
      So when he transfers to an all-boys' boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret -- not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate breaking down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben . . . who doesn't even know that love is possible.
      This witty, smart, coming-out-again story will appeal to gay and straight kids alike as they watch Rafe navigate being different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself.
( BN | GR )

I've been wanting to read this book for a loooong time now, and P gave me a copy for Christmas! I read it over about 30 hours, it was quick and charming and I picked it up every chance I got. I definitely search out books with LGBTQ characters (for great recs check out Dahlia Adler's blog), but this one was far and away the most rooted LGBTQ. I don't even know exactly what I mean by that, but it's the best word to describe it. Everything about it is completely right, and with BK's deft writing there is nothing awkward or unclear in the storytelling, even though it stays true to the messiness of life. This is the kind of book you hug like a teddy bear for a few hours after finishing it (oh, that's just me?). I definitely recommend it, and please don't wait as long as I did to get around to it. And when you're done, read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and Grasshopper Jungle.

The Martian by Andy Weir

      Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.
      It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to get him first.
      But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills--and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit--he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
( BN | GR )

As great as the previous books were, this one is at the top of my list for the month. I used to be an astrophysics/physics/atmospheric science/could-NOT-decide major, and this one fed the science lover in me. Lots of numbers and facts and inner workings of astronaut life, but with enough humor and snark to entertain someone not interested in that kind of thing. Extremely high stakes and an extremely likeable character made the pages of this book fly. I had originally bought this on my Nook (it seemed appropriate for a book about Mars and science) but I am sad I don't have a paper copy to put on my favorites shelf (or to pass around amongst the previously mentioned friends and coworkers). I'll probably buy one, because that's how I roll. There isn't much to say other than you HAVE to read this book if you are at all remotely interested. You will love it. This book also won the 2015 Alex Award, which has yet to steer me wrong. This book started me on a kick of Mars books, including Caliban's War, Red Rising, and The Conquest.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

This and that and a fried rice recipe

I went to World Fantasy Convention last week. It was awesome. Just a bunch of like-minded people hanging out and talking about geeky stuff. (And for someone who doesn't really have writerly/readerly friends, that was pretty cool.) There was some major bar-hitting (seriously, what is even the point of after-dinner panels), but I skipped out on this because a) I am not a writing professional and as such this is not the once-a-year opportunity to see my friends, b) I am actually quite comfortable passing time by myself, and there was plenty to keep me occupied (um, the dealer's room. um, my friggin' notebook, I'm a writer.), and c) I was staying with a friend down in DC so any large chunks of free time were spent with him.

Some other things:
1. Caitlin R. Kiernan is fucking awesome, and I shall be reading everything of hers.
2. The only book I hoped to find was The Black Fire Concerto by Mike Allen, and I FOUND IT.
3. The most useful bit of advice came not from a panel, but from a random dude who sat next to me and we started chatting. He was there as a fan, and he said the worst mistake he made as a writer was thinking he could jump right into a novel. He couldn't. So, he got over his aversion to short stories, and started writing them, instead.
      a. The most important thing I need to learn right now is how to finish something. This is timely advice.
      b. I hate short stories. I read novels. I am having trouble finishing my novel (and all my novels). Perhaps there is something to this.
      c. Hey, there was a fantastic dealer's room with plenty of short story collections for about $3 each. I came home with six.
      d. I am now working on my first short story since college. We shall see how this goes. it's fanfiction, because I figure the easiest way to finish something is to remove as many unknown variables as possible. I promise there will not be bagel sex.

Gravelly Point Park. Watch planes take off and land at Reagan Airport, right over top of you! This was awesome.

Graffiti in Crystal City.

What I'm cooking this week

my outrageously kickass fried rice (not that I'm bragging or anything) It fucking rocks. My own recipe! (below)
black bean brownies - With my first attempt, I started with dried beans and cooked until firm, and this made the brownies really dry (the almond meal didn't help either). If you start with dried beans, cook until soft (or use canned--I prefer dry). I am going to try this recipe next.
my usual hummus - I just discovered a new cookbook: Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon, and there are a ton of new hummus recipes I want to try. Also, this whole cookbook is great.
hearty black bean quesadillas - these are especially good for breakfast
fall kale salad - It's kind of an amalgamation of these two recipes
island beans and rice - from Vegan Eats World (one of my favorite cookbooks ever: so many great international recipes! It doesn't matter if you're vegan or not, just use the recipe as a base and add meat if you want). Spiced beans and coconut rice! (Can you tell I'm on a bean kick?)
naan bread

I also need to find a better way to organize my recipe book (it's a binder that I love and want to keep using, but I have to constantly battle my hatred for binders in general). And I'm looking for some good recipe cards so I can pass around recipes for holiday gifts.

Fried Rice

1 batch oven brown rice, chilled completely (at least five hours)
1 lb ground sausage (mild Italian) - get the highest quality sausage you can find, it matters
2 cloves garlic and 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
2-3 large carrots, 2 bell peppers, 1 chile pepper, 2 big handfuls green beans or asparagus, all chopped small
5 eggs, scrambled with soy sauce
soy sauce, sesame oil (required!), and fish sauce (looking for a replacement for the fish sauce.... any ideas? Shit's nasty. I want to try ground seaweed. I've also heard pineapple juice, but I don't want to make everything sweet.)

Oven brown rice (the best method - from America's Test Kitchen)
3 cups uncooked brown rice
4 2/3 cups boiling water
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
- Bake at 375 in 9 x 13 dish covered tightly with two layers of tin foil. Bake 1 hour.

1. Cook eggs with sesame oil in large (read: huge if you have it) nonstick skillet (or wok). Set aside.
2. Cook sausage, breaking into small pieces. Set aside.
3. Heat sesame oil, stir fry garlic and ginger. Add veggies and saute. Set aside.
- The trick is to cook the vegetables in a way that doesn't allow anything to get soggy. Carrots first, then peppers and green beans. If using asparagus, cook separately and only put back in at the very end, to keep crisp
4. Heat sesame oil, add rice a bit at a time. Fry until everything is hot and toasted. Drizzle with low sodium soy sauce, more sesame oil, and lightly (!) with fish sauce.
5. Add everything else back to skillet to heat through.

What I'm reading

Kushiel's Dart - Jacqueline Carey
The Stand - Stephen King
The Black Fire Concerto - Mike Allen

Openly Straight - Bill Konigsberg
The Drowning Girl - Caitlin R. Kiernan
The Red Tree - Caitlin R. Kiernan
Ascension - Jacqueline Koyanagi
The Gunslinger - Stephen King

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

So disappointing....

As a correction to my previous post, the anagram is ACTUALLY:

Newt Scamander only meant to stay in New York for a few hours...

No Harry.

The internet is cruel.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014



JK Rowling posted a riddle in a tweet a little while ago: "Cry, foe! Run amok! Fa awry! My wand won't tolerate this nonsense."

Rearranging the letters gets you: "Harry returns! Won’t say any details now. A week off. No comment."

I’m serious.
Holy shit.