Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Books these days, with their sex and rock music...

I haven't been reading or writing very much the past few weeks. It's a strange mixture of working on the house and enjoying the house (read: not working on it). There are still staples on the edge of the stairs from the carpet we removed months ago. The front room has been emptied of stuff and then promptly filled again. We have a bunch of shows right now (Elementary, Korra, Masters of Sex, Homeland, Walking Dead, Amazing Race, plus I'm marathoning West Wing and it is SO GOOD), so Sundays are filled with watching TV. I bolted a shelf to the wall at chest height in the bedroom to be a makeshift standing desk, because sitting all day at work makes me completely opposed to sitting more while I write.

I really do love it.

I've read a few books in the past few months, and it's only fair that I tell you about them. Of course, I'm way late to the game on two of the three of them, but better late than never, I suppose.

 Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I loved this book SO SO MUCH. It made my heart squeeze and I forced myself to make it last a whole week because it made me so happy to be reading it. I nabbed it as soon as it came out back in September. The romance, the writing, the fanfiction, the college setting... there is just so much to love. This one sits on my all-time favorites shelf. I don't have much to say about it other than if you have a heart at all you have to freaking read it!

The Shadow of the Soul by Sarah Pinborough

The US edition of this has been out for nearly a year, but I finally got around to it in early October. It's noir and a murder mystery and weird creepy gods and just wonderful. I felt like I was settling in for an old favorite as I read this one (even though I hadn't yet) because the setting and the characters were so real, which is a little creepy because this is definitely not a lighthearted book. It's CSI crossed with X-Files crossed with Game of Thrones, and I do not say that lightly. This is not a world I would want to inhabit. I do, however, want Cass Jones to be on my side. This one didn't have much of an ending, it flowed right into book 3, so of course I have to hunt that one down now. Definitely start with the first book, A Matter of Blood.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

As soon as I finished Fangirl I put this one on hold, and it's taken this long for it to get to me. A month and a half of anxiously waiting, and then I read the whole thing in a day. I never do that. It pulled me in so many directions that by the end of it I was an emotional wreck. I don't even know what I looked like to Phil when he got home, as he walked through the door exactly as I was closing the book. I am now in love with Rainbow Rowell, and will be hunting down everything she writes.
Attachments is next. This is the type of book that makes me so frigging happy just for the fact that I am reading wonderful words, and yet so depressed because how on earth could I ever top that? Not even top it, but compare? UGH SO WONDERFUL AND DEPRESSING.

What am I reading now?

Vicious by V. E. Schwab

I am reading this slowly, chapter by chapter. Thinking about it. Writing my reactions. Analyzing why Schwab did what she did. Why? Because I want to break down and discuss a book. I want to figure out what works and what doesn't, and I don't have an English class or reading group to do it with. Plus, I want to do it with an emphasis on the writing. I've tried to do this with books I've already read, but I always lose interest because I know what's going to happen. It's a really great story so far. I definitely recommend it.

Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer

This book is so cool! It's more of an art project, really. Fantastic illustrations, essays from famous writers, and a nuts-and-bolts guide to writing creative fiction. This is not something you read through. This is something you spend a year on, absorbing everything, marking it up with pencil, sticking post-it notes all over the edges. This is a crash course on writing that's full of all kinds of cool shit. If I was a writing professor, I would make every one of my students buy this book. Seriously, go to the bookstore and flip through these gorgeous pages, and I dare you not to buy it.

 Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

This book has been getting a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. Leckie takes all the gender/cultural/SF stereotypes and flips them on their heads. Read this post by Kameron Hurley, she said it much better than I did. She also convinced me to pick it up. It's a bit over my head at times, because it's been a long while since I read hard-core Sci Fi. But more books like this need to exist, the kind that make you think about how you live your life. I want books with characters other than straight/white/male. The world is bigger than that. In this same vein, I am really excited for Ascension, out in early December.

What are some other books I'm dying to read, you ask? Far too many to fit in the day.

The Lives of Tao - Wesley Chu ( GR | BN )
Miserere - Theresa Frohock ( GR | BN )
Alif the Unseen - G. Willow Wilson ( GR | BN )
Renaissance - Oliver Bowden ( GR | BN )
Pantomime - Laura Lam ( GR | BN )
John Dies at the End - David Wong ( GR | BN )
The Secret History - Donna Tartt ( GR | BN )
Special Topics in Calamity Physics - Marisha Pessl ( GR | BN )

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My life is complete.

Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny AMA

Update: Also this. Ajax Penumbra 1969 

Update the second: It's probably really terrible that I keep updating the same post throughout the day with more links, because I'm sure people miss all the updates and that's kind of the point of sharing them in the first place. In any case, Cookie and Kate is a really wonderful vegetarian/sometimes vegan/sometimes gluten free blog that has food I actually WANT to eat. (Just FYI, I'm not "officially" a vegetarian but I'm always looking for ways to eliminate the meat. Also gluten, because if you ever hang around my blog you'll know that SOME PEOPLE are in denial about their gluten allergy. *cough* << (It isn't me.))

Monday, October 14, 2013

I love food

It looks like Pinterest has made a really snazzy update to their program where it shoots a reminder at you when you try to pin something more than once. Which is really fantastic, because who wants to look at a board with the same picture over and over (more bang for your buck, people), except now I am actually forced to keep scrolling through my board until I find the freaking pin, and sometimes they are really hard to find.

But I've realized something about myself. I can't find things very well when they are on my left side. Which is funny, because my left eye has better eyesight than my right (thanks to a fantastically epic soccer injury in fifth grade that involved a ball connecting with my face).

Eventually, I found what I was looking for. Pinto beans with peaches and bacon. I made them last night, and holy hell are they delicious. Like, seriously delicious. And for those of you thinking OMG BEANS EWW VOMIT, just shillax. Don't compare them to the canned stuff that is mushier than applesauce and saltier than condensed soup. Using dried beans makes a huge difference, and ever since I started using them, I am in love. I don't really know why I was so afraid of soaking beans. I mean, seriously, all you do is stick them in a big bowl with water overnight. But they stay firmer as you cook, and they don't have gobs and gobs of salt.

Go over and check out her recipe. She's a great blogger, too. But I will tell you what changes I made.

I added a teaspoon of crushed red pepper. Because there is nothing that cannot be improved by making it spicy. Actually, you know how there are those trends of "omg you're addicted to sugar" or "omg you're addicted to dairy!" (Which I'm sure are backed by very good reasons not to eat sugar or dairy or whatever the ban-of-the-day is, but barring a sudden new allergy, we already have enough allergies to contend with without removing more delicious things from our diet. That being said, I am trying to eat less meat, but I'm not completely removing it from my diet (yet).) Anyway, I'm totally addicted to spicy food. And now Phil is, as well. So much so that we forget when we eat with friends that not everyone is insane and wants the lining dissolved from their mouth. And we go out of our way to get things like Trinidad Scorpion Chilies (that smell like dog farts) and no chili or stew or curry is complete without a healthy pile of dried ghost chilies.

And now you're thinking, "Just a teaspoon, ay?" Well. I should also note that after cooking the beans for the required hour and a half, I uncovered them and simmered the pot for another 2+ hours, to thicken it up and let the beans soften just a little bit more. A wonderful thing happens to red pepper when it is simmered. It dissolves. The capsaicin permeates everything and MULTIPLIES, and what you thought was just a measly teaspoon of red pepper (psh) gives you a very healthy burn that is comforting for us spice-aholics and unpleasant for the uninitiated. (And now, try a curry with two tablespoons of ghost chili flakes. THAT, my friends, is an adventure.)

Really, all I wanted to do here was tell you about some beans. But you are now getting so much more. (Maybe I should make an effort to blog more regularly...) I could also be procrastinating, as I originally planned to write during my lunch break. (The WIP, not the blog. But alas, distraction.)

A few things about beans. Dried beans, soaked well, do not give you gas the way canned or quick-soaked beans do. I heard that soaking them with fresh ginger helps remove more of the gases, and I happened to have some ginger that was too dried out to cook with, so I sliced it all up and added it to the bowl. I really don't know if it made a difference, but I love ginger and it made me feel scientific and smart, so I did it. And any lingering ginger taste will really only make this dish better. (Make sure you pull out the pieces before you cook, though.)

You also shouldn't add the salt until after everything is done cooking, because makes the beans tough and it takes much longer for them to cook. But honestly, I totally forgot to add any salt (a recurring problem lately), and I think it's fine. The barbeque sauce was plenty enough salty, and the spiciness makes up for any lack of salt.

What else have I been making? Well, carmelitas, and these apple cheddar scones, for starters. The carmelitas were to die for, especially when they were fresh and still hot and a bit gooey. Phil wasn't a fan of the scones ("Get this cheese out of my scone!") but I thought they were delicious. Go make those, too.

Happy eating!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lucky 300

This is my 300th post! So to celebrate, I present you with this, dear reader: Post the 300th!

I saw this great article about OCD because someone wonderful retweeted it on twitter. (It was @seananmcguire.) The whole "replaying horrible nightmares in your head" thing is pretty much it, 100%. But I just call myself a writer, and then it's research!

And because I was already on wasting time learning vital information, I am passing these on to you for survival this Halloween.
5 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalypse Could Actually Happen
7 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Outbreak Would Fail (Quickly)