12/10/14

Review: Blade of the Hunt (Goddess with a Blade Book 3)

Format: ebook
Pub Date: November 2014
Publisher: Carina Press
FTC: Purchased myself

After  I finished reading the first book in this series following RT this year, I read the 2nd one sometime over the summer. Finally, in the middle of my reading funk last month, I read this one. I think it's just what I needed, given that it's not a romance book. It's Urban Fantasy for sure. And it's definitely book number 3 in the series and makes no apologies for it. It's not burdened by a boatload of back story. This book assumes you've read books 1 and 2.

Although I did not like this one as much as I liked the previous two, probably due to the nagging reading funk, I did think it was a solid installment in the series. There's definitely far less noir in this one, which bummed me out a little. I like the almost gumshoe feel of the first book the best. Once we veer into European stuff, it becomes less original. Less edgy, to be honest.

There's far more romance, or at least more discussion of feelings, in this book. We get to see an expanded cast of characters. The action that is present is good, although there's far too little of it. Most of the book is planning and traveling, rather than actually doing anything. It's mired in political maneuvering and interpersonal issues. Which is fine, I guess, but I wanted more boots on the ground action and definitely more creep factor.

My Grade: B-

Hump Day Classic Movie: Gaslight (1944)

There are creepy movies, like last week's Wait Until Dark, that show criminality, greed, and desperation. Then there are movies like Gaslight that show just how subtle evil can be.

Ingrid Bergman didn't shy away from challenging roles, and this one is no exception. She plays Paula, a young woman who has suffered trauma upon finding her famous aunt's body as a child. She's sent away to school and returns to London 10 years later. Recently married, Paula is uncomfortable in the house and unsure of her relationship with her husband.

What follows is probably the creepiest, scariest act of evil as Paula is ever-so-slowly isolated from everyone by her husband. He limits her outings, spreading tales of how "fragile" she is. He avoids contact with the neighbors. He lectures and belittles Paula. And then he begins a campaign to slowly drive her insane by pretending that she's forgetting things, losing things.

What makes it so scary is that this is a classic set up for domestic abuse. It's a classic example of emotional abuse. And this was filmed in 1944.

Angela Lansbury, in her first big role,  plays a perfect accomplice. I love how even with her thick accent, she still sounds so very much like Angela Lansbury.

If you haven't seen Gaslight yet, you're missing out. It's a fantastic—if creepy—classic.

12/3/14

Hump Day Classic Movie: Wait Until Dark (1967)

Hey, they're back! It's Hump Day Movies again! Since the summer, I've treated myself to a DVD Netflix account (our internet is too pokey for streaming) and have been indulging in classic movies I can't get anywhere else.  I've come to appreciate Netflix's recommendation tool because it's recommended quite a few movies (new and old) I hadn't heard of before that I ended up really enjoying.

Wait Until Dark is one of those movies that on its surface is really simple. Blind lady gets terrorized by thugs...but what makes this movie so darn creepy is the performances of the stars and the way the story builds on itself. The audience watches as Audrey Hepburn's character, Suzy, is manipulated. Lied to. Threatened. They are in on it. Suzy is not. It's like watching something awful happen to someone and being powerless to stop it. That sense of helplessness the audience feels is what makes this movie work. It's immersive. And Hepburn sells it completely.

Alan Arkin is amazing in this, although he's so young it took me a long time to recognize him. You can find it on Netflix or on Amazon in digital format or DVD.

12/2/14

Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Bars

I'm a very bad blogger. It has been 2 months since my last post. Never fear, I'm perfectly fine. Obligations with family and our PTO swamped me this fall. Which means not only did I not blog, I didn't read. Which is a travesty I'm correcting.

What I did manage to do was find my new favorite treat to bring to events on the spur of the moment. I know this isn't new to many of you, but for me, these were a revelation.

I've made homemade Rice Krispie Bars for forever. It's not difficult, after all. And the store bought ones suck. Ew. I even knew about various additions or flavors, although I was too lazy or uninterested to try them. Then one day, my husband calls me. He drives across the country for a living, and I figured he'd found a new favorite regional food. He had. It was these. He sent me two links to two recipes, figuring one of them had to work. They sounded ok—peanut butter and chocolate nearly always work for me—but kind of mundane.

Oh. My. God. It's always the simplest things that blow you away with their glory, but these are truly the best things I've had in forever. They are chewy, crunchy, salty, sweet...They hit every one of the perfect snack requirements...and they take 10 minutes or less and produce a 13 x 9 pan of the little darlings.

In the last 2 months, I've made 4 pans of them. I've taken them to my aforementioned PTO meetings where they were devoured. I made them for Oldest to sell at a Family Movie Night event for Student Council.  They sold out before the movie even started. I dropped some off for a friend having a not-so-good day, and she thanked me for saving the crappiest day ever because THEY ARE THAT GOOD.

The only modifications I made to the recipe were peanut butter amounts and subbing in butter for margarine. Butter is always better.

10/7/14

Recipe: Orange Cardamom Loaves

Guess what time it is?! It's Fall Baking Time. Yes, those vanity capitals are on purpose. I love it when the chill in the air "forces" me to start baking. It's too warm for a fire in the wood stove, but too cold to not want it warmed up just a little bit.

Plus the plethora of fall baking ingredients: fresh pears, pumpkin and all of the other "fall" stand-bys. I picked up a baking magazine the other day, an overpriced one that cost about the same as a trade paperback book *winces*, because I wanted to make just about every recipe in it.

The first recipe I attempted was Orange Cardamom Bread for a bake sale fundraiser. The recipe makes 2 loaves: one for me, one for the sale ;) While I liked it a lot, I could not taste the cardamom. So I fiddled with the levels a bit and found a balance between spicy and orange-y. The real sneaky part about this bread is that because cardamom enhances the orange flavor, you really aren't going to get much straight flavor except as an end note. 

Gifts for the Baker