Archive | November, 2010

Bobby Flay’s Throwdown

12 Nov

In celebration of the release of chef Bobby Flay’s book Bobby Flay’s Throwdown! (Random House Canada, 2010) book and foodie bloggers were invited to host their own culinary throwdown. I’m not normally competitive, but this sounded like a hoot so I figured, why the Hell not?

So the big plan was for me to pit my world famous (or at least amongst our friends famous) chili against Bobby’s. Then I got sick. Very sick. Like, worst cold in the history of colds sick. It’s going on, oh, three weeks now and I think I’m on round 4. Not fun.

Anyhoo, the last thing in the world I felt liking making – or eating- was chili. So the hubs, God bless his little soul, stepped up to the plate and informed me that he was going to do the throwdown by himself. Yup, two of the hubs’ many personalities were going to duke it out in the kitchen. But he was changing the menu. It was mac and cheese time.

The hubs makes THE BEST homemade mac and cheese. Oooey, gooey yumminess, it’s one of my favorite dishes. Sure, Bobby Flay is this big deal chef, but I knew that my man’s dish was going to win.

The hubs slaved away all day in the kitchen making the dishes. The only thing he changed about Bobby’s recipe was he didn’t add the sliced pancetta. We then headed over to friends for supper where we all indulged in the two dishes. And – color me surprised – Bobby’s was the fave.

I think Bobby’s win had to do with all the different cheeses in the recipe. It calls for like, a bazillion different cheeses (okay, really just 5 cheeses, but still).

I was so excited to dig in (or maybe I was a wee bit high on cough syrup) but I kinda forgot to take a pic of the finished dish. And by the time I remembered I wasn’t just there to chowdown on some mac and cheese, but had to blog about it too, this is all that was left:

So, yeah, the dish was a huge success.

Green Books Campaign: Tainted by Ross Pennie

10 Nov

I’m happy to once again be a part of Eco-Libris’ Green Books Campaign. Today at 1 pm Est over 200 book bloggers around the world simultaneously posted reviews of books printed on eco-friendly paper. Pretty cool, eh? The books are as diverse as the bloggers, so make sure to take a peek at them. And to make it easy-peasy for you, here’s the link.

Okay, now on to my review!

Publisher: ECW Press
Released: April, 2009
Genre: adult fiction, medical mystery
Review copy from publisher for Eco-Libris Green Books Campaign

In an affluent city perched on Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment, residents begin turning up on the pathologist’s autopsy table with what looks like epidemic mad cow disease. Zol Szabo, a public-health doctor and former chef, and Hamish Wakefield, a young infectious-diseases specialist, must trace the epidemic to its source while dodging the deadly prions that appear to have contaminated almost everything in the supermarket. Things spin out of control and more lives are threatened when a government-appointed investigator pulls rank, hijacks the investigation, and allows his inflated ego to supersede common sense.

Incidents of contamination of the food supply are featured almost weekly in the news. In Tainted, the clock is ticking to discover the source of the disease before it can spread, while navigating the political minefield of the hospital and the media.

A suspenseful and vexing medical thriller, Tainted comments on the vagaries of modern medicine, and explores the complexities of relationships between men: fathers and sons, colleagues and subordinates, gay men and their lovers.

Tainted is a medical thriller that illustrates the potential disastrous consequences of misplacing our trust in those who manufacture our food and our pharmaceuticals.

From ECW Press website.

 

Once upon a time, all I read were medical thrillers and books about outbreaks. I would devour them, sometimes as many as four in a week. Then I kinda ODed on them and stopped reading them all together. In fact, it’s been a good three or four years since I read a real medical thriller.

So I was all kinds of excited to read Ross Pennie’s Tainted, a medical mystery outbreak novel that takes place right here in Canada. And while I enjoyed it and I think it was a solid book, I wasn’t wowed by it.

I really enjoyed the medical mystery aspect of Tainted. The science wasn’t too over my head, but it also wasn’t too dumb down.  At first I thought the reason behind the outbreak was going to be pretty straight-forward, but man, was I wrong. While I didn’t see the ending coming, it wasn’t far-fetched and was totally plausible, which I really liked. Sometimes in medical mysteries the author pulls something out of left field that makes no sense at all. Thankfully that wasn’t the case here, at all.

So, why was I so meh about Tainted? The characters. I just didn’t get a sense of who they were and quite honestly I didn’t care a fig about any of them. For me they weren’t written in a way that I could really feel a connection to them. I was often confused about their motivations and reasonings, even when it was being spelled out for me. I know that medical mysteries aren’t generally character driven books, but if I don’t care at all about ANY of the characters, then I’m not going to be a big fan of the novel.

I also found the writing at times clunky with awkward descriptions. There was also a subplot that I thought was a bit out of place and poorly executed.

I think if I had felt more of a connection to the characters I would have enjoyed Tainted a lot more. As it stands it was a decent medical mystery, but not one I was wild about.

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge V

8 Nov

 

Holy crap I actually successfully completed a reading challenge! Yay for me!!!!!!!!!

I wanted to write this post last week but was hit with the cold from Hell. I’m still sick as shit, but decided to crawl out of bed long enough to blog about the books I read for the R.I.P challenge.

Now, as is the norm for scatter-brained me, the books I read weren’t the ones I was planning on reading. At all. Seriously. I find that when I give myself a list of books I plan on reading I never read those books. C’est la vie, I guess.

So I signed up for Perish the First, which means that I wanted to read 4 quailfying books.  In the end I actually read 6 qualifying books. Here they are:

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Fallen by Lauren Kate
Torment by Lauren Kate
Dust City by Robert Weston
Ruined by Paula Morris
American Vampire by Scott Snyder, Stephen King and Rafael Albuquereque

My only disappointed with myself is that I had wanted to read more horror, since I already read a lot of supernatural books. So next year my plan is to read only horror during the month of October.

Review: Gunner Hurricane Horse by Judy Andrekson

8 Nov

Publisher: Tundra Press
Released: September, 2010
Genre: Middle grade non-fiction
Review copy from publisher.

PBJ Decks Smokin Gun (Gunner) is an American Paint Horse, one of the many of Heather Lott Goodwin’s herd, and a valuable show animal that won the World Championship Paint Horse title. When Hurricane Katrina passed over the Goodwin property, it took with it the fences, the cattle, and several horses. Heather and her family lived in their horse trailer for six weeks and considered themselves lucky to have safe, comfortable shelter. After the storm, they searched for the animals and recovered many of them. But three months passed before they located Gunner, a hundred miles away. They were told he was in terrible shape and should be put down. Nevertheless, Heather drove on washed-out roads to bring him home, starving, dehydrated, and blind in one eye. With the help of a vet and her mother, she nursed him back to health. Amazingly, nine months later, he was well enough to compete again in the World Championship Paint Horse Show. Gunner’s story is a testament to love and to determination.

From Tundra Books website.

This is my first foray into kids non-fiction. Actually, before I read Gunner, I didn’t even know that kids non-fiction existed. This was a cute book and I think that kids who like horses will love hearing about Gunner and everything he went through. I also think that it’s a great book to teach about perseverance and overcoming hardship.

I love that while this was not a picture book, there were pictures included to accentuate different aspects of the story. There weren’t a lot, but I think that there were enough that any readers making the jump from picture books to chapter books would like it.

This book is geared towards 8-12 year olds, so I must admit my eyebrows raised at the use of the word Hell early on. Now, I am not against cursing, and quite often do it myself. I was just surprised at the use of the word in a book written for kids.

I think Gunner:Hurricane Horse would be the perfect read for kids not only interested in horses, but that are looking for more real to life stories.

Review:Virals by Kathy Reichs

2 Nov

Publisher: Penguin Canada
Released: November, 2010
Genre: Ages 12 and up – supernatural, paranormal, mystery
Review copy from publisher.

Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage “sci-philes” who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.

As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their newfound physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot—if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer’s scent.

Fortunately, they are now more than friends—they’re a pack. They are Virals.

From Penguin Canada website.

 

I’m a HUGE fan of Kathy Reichs’. I’ve read all of her Tempe Brennan books and I am slightly addicted to Bones. So when I heard that she was writing a new series for teens, I was stoked. And the fact that there was a bit of supernatural to the story? Even better.

So you can imagine my excitement when a review copy came. I was so excited, in fact, that I held off reading it for awhile. Weird, I know, but what can I say? I figured it was going to be so amazing, so awesome that I’d be upset once I finished it.

When I finally decided to pick it up and read it, I wasn’t quite as taken with the story as I had been hoping. While I did enjoy it, I wasn’t in love with it. There was one thing that seemed a bit off to me, and that kinda stopped me from totally loving Virals.

Okay, Tori is 14 and her friends are 15 and 16. But some of the things they say and do struck me as things younger kids would say and do. It’s not that they were poorly written characters, it’s just that I had a bit of a hard time believing some of the dialogue.

*SPOILER*

Okay, towards the end of the book, once they all realize they’re “virals”, Tori gets the ability to talk to the others telepathically. Which is cool. But at one point she says “Virals, flash!”. Now I don’t know if teens their age would actually refer to themselves as Virals. It rang a bit false to me. I think I know what Reichs was trying to do, but for me it just didn’t work.

*END OF SPOILER*

Don’t get me wrong: there were things that I loved about Virals. I loved the fact that younger kids will get a chance to learn about forensics and science in general. I loved that this was a mystery that was pretty smart and not at all easy to figure out. I also loved that while there were elements of the supernatural, it was all based in hardcore science.

I think this is a book that younger kids, say 12-14 are really going to like. As for older teens, I’m not so sure. Once I decided that this would be better suited for the younger crowd, some of the issues of what Tori and her friends say and do disappeared and I enjoyed the book a lot more.

As a middle grade, young teen book this is a top notch read and I highly recommend it. I actually can’t wait to see what happens in the next book in the series.

 

It’s NaNoWriMo time!!!!!!

1 Nov

This will be my fourth attempt at writing a full 50,000 word book in the both of November, as part of National Novel Writing Month. Out of my previous three tries, I was successful once (the end result was SUPERNORMAL, which is in final edits now).

This year I’m going to finish, come Hell or high water.

Now, you’re supposed to start your novel on November first. It’s supposed to be a brand-spanking new project with zero wordcount until the 1st of November. Well, I’m doing it a bit differently this year. I started WEIRDO in October and then decided I wanted it to be my NaNo project. But I have 3,815 words written. Great words. Words that I love. Words that I am in no way scrapping to start fresh today. So here’s what I’m going to do:

Since I am starting with a word count, my Nano goal is going to be that word count plus 50,00. 53,815 words in total. Which means that my daily word count has to be at least 1,793. Totally doable.

Harry Potter Extravaganza Winner!!!!

1 Nov

And the winner of a copy of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows is ………

Ariel!!!!!!!

I’ve emailed Ariel and while I’m sure she’ll get back to me, if she takes, like forever, I’ll draw a new name.

Thanks to everyone who entered.

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