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Friday, 28 December 2012

{review} Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn



Hardcover, 419 pages
Published May 24th 2012 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
ISBN 0297859382 (ISBN13: 9780297859383)


On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?


I'm sending 2012 out with a bang.  And a review of the best book I read this year.  

2012 was ... hard.  There's a million more words that I could use to describe it (intense, emotional, exhausting, terrifying, heartbreaking ... ), but hard really sums it up best.  I spent the first bit of 2012 living in the guest room of my parents cabin in the woods, reeling from a divorce a few months prior that included a restraining order and extreme and utter heartbreak.  

You know your life has gone to shit when living in your parents dining room/spare room at 31 years old is actually comforting.  

After finding some energy and strength (mostly from the bottom of a bottle), I moved to a new city to start my life over.  It was hard.  Life is hard.  It's getting much better, slowly, but yo, divorce sucks ass.

Luckily, while my marriage wasn't the greatest, and my year wasn't so spectacular, it wasn't nearly as bad as Amy & Nick's marriage in Gone Girl.  And my 2012 doesn't even compete with the few months that this book covers in their life.

I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but this book was AMAZING.  The first few chapters of a seemingly common murder mystery in no way prepared me for what was to come.  I found myself switching sides often, rooting for each character at some point.  So many times I had to put the book down and text the Semi-BFF things like "WTF!!"  and "OMG THIS BOOK IS BLOWING MY MIND!", making sure to keep my exclamations very generic since she was waiting for me to finish my copy before reading.   

FYI - talking about how and why a book is blowing your mind without giving the twist away is hard.  So just fucking read this book, and be thankful that your 2012 was probably better than mine.  And Nick & Amy's.



Saturday, 24 November 2012

{Review} Girls In White Dresses by Jennifer Close


294 pages
Published 2011 by Knopf

Wickedly hilarious and utterly recognizable, Girls in White Dresses tells the story of three women grappling with heartbreak and career change, family pressure and new love—all while suffering through an endless round of weddings and bridal showers.


Isabella, Mary, and Lauren feel like everyone they know is getting married. On Sunday after Sunday, at bridal shower after bridal shower, they coo over toasters, collect ribbons and wrapping paper, eat minuscule sandwiches and doll-sized cakes. They wear pastel dresses and drink champagne by the case, but amid the celebration these women have their own lives to contend with: Isabella is working at a mailing-list company, dizzy with the mixed signals of a boss who claims she’s on a diet but has Isabella file all morning if she forgets to bring her a chocolate muffin. Mary thinks she might cry with happiness when she finally meets a nice guy who loves his mother, only to realize he’ll never love Mary quite as much. And Lauren, a waitress at a Midtown bar, swears up and down she won’t fall for the sleazy bartender—a promise that his dirty blond curls and perfect vodka sodas make hard to keep. 

With a wry sense of humor, Jennifer Close brings us through those thrilling, bewildering, what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life years of early adulthood. These are the years when everyone else seems to have a plan, a great job, and an appropriate boyfriend, while Isabella has a blind date with a gay man, Mary has a crush on her boss, and Lauren has a goldfish named Willard. Through boozy family holidays and disastrous ski vacations, relationships lost to politics and relationships found in pet stores, Girls in White Dresses pulls us deep inside the circle of these friends, perfectly capturing the wild frustrations and soaring joys of modern life.


The other day, I was starving.  Starving starving.  Cranky starving.  Close to home, but too lazy to want to cook anything when I got there.  I stopped to gas up my car, and as I stood in line at the 7-11 to pay, debating between buying a sandwich from my favourite neighbourhood cafe and wondering if the new People magazine was out yet, I was shoved from behind and fell forward, catching myself just before I crashed into the cheap roller food counter.

Ding dong.  Problem solved.  Before I knew it, I was buying a plethora of taquitos, eating one before I even got back inside my car.   I ate another during the three block trip home.  And I ate two more after I finally got inside.

It seemed like a brilliant idea at the time, but let me tell you - taquitos from a gas station may look like a good idea, but in the long run?  Worst idea ever.  Given how many horrible hangovers I've had in my life that made me so sick I'll never, ever forget them (Mike's Hard Lemonade in ninth grade, I'm looking at you), I can easily say the hour post-devouring of four gas station taquitos belongs in the same category.

This book is exactly like that.  

Girls In White Dress by Jennifer Close was on my TBR pile for a long time.  Luckily (or so I thought at the time), it was picked for book club.  Yay!  I curled up in my favourite chair, poured myself a glass of water (you know the taquitos made me sick when three days later I'm still only wanting water), and started reading.

It was then that I realized this book was a horrible joke.  I barely finished it, bribing myself to start each new chapter.  The characters, the many many vapid characters, were one dimensional, confusing, and each was barely discernible from the next random one thrown at you half a paragraph later.  The "story", and I use that word loosely, jumped all over the place, literally one paragraph to the next.   I felt confused all the time, much like I did on the first day of high school.  What the fuck just happened?  Who was that?  Who's this chick?  Where are they now?   WHAT'S GOING ON? 

Just when I was about to finally allow myself to give up, it ended.  Just like that.  Like a happy ending without the happy.  Or the ending.  

One thing I will say - there were some funny lines scattered throughout the book.   However, if all it takes to get a book deal is a few great one liners surrounded by 294 pages of vapidness, I should shortly be rolling in the dough instead of eating gas station meals.

Bottom line?  Worst book I've read in 2012.  Maybe even in the past two years.  But more importantly, worse than gas station taquitos.  And that, my friends, says more than anything.





Friday, 16 November 2012

Friday Funnies

You should pretty much just assume that any funny video I see is from the Ellen show.  She's part of my morning routine - wake up, force myself to ignore where my fucking life has gone, walk the dogs, feed the dogs, and watch Ellen while inhaling my coffee.

If you ever thought I had a life, well, you'd be wrong.

Here's a clip from one of my favourite moments on the Ellen show lately - I hope it makes you laugh as much as I did!


Thursday, 15 November 2012

{Review} Room by Emma Donoghue


Room by Emma Donoghue
Find it on GoodReads
ISBN13: 9780316098335


To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.  Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.



Like pretty much everything in my life, I've had this on my list of things to do for a long time.  It's not that I procrastinate, really, it's just that I ... get distracted.  Or choose to have a nap.   But mostly, I get distracted.    I can;t even tell you what I googled right now instead of writing this post.  Seriously.  

I had read some pretty mixed reviews about this book, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  The premise of the entire story being written from the POV of a child, and a very closed in child at that, seemed like it might get a little tiring.  

It didn't.  I didn't find it endearing in any way, but I did find Jack's POV is what sets this book apart from many others.  His voice is really what keeps the momentum going in this story, turning it from a slightly unenthusiastic plot to one that leaves us consistently wondering "what now"?

A slightly easy read for a book of it's type, and not for the faint of heart.  Many others have told me they couldn't/wouldn't read this book because of the nature of it, but since I'm excessively morbid, I found it a tame telling of  a horribly tragic situation.




Wednesday, 31 October 2012

{Review} Breakdown - Katherine Amt Hanna


Breakdown by Katherine Amt Hanna
423 Pages
Published April 2011 by Createspace
ISBN13: 9781461093794

Six years after a pandemic devastates the human population, and the subsequent loss of much of the world's technology, Chris Price finally makes it from New York to Britain to reunite with his brother. But unresolved grief over his dead wife and baby and the horrors he witnessed as he traveled through a changed world have damaged him. He struggles to let go of his past, accept the healing kindness of those around him, and let love back into his life.


I want to read more books like this.  Period the end.




I really was going to end the review there, because this book was so perfect in ways I can't explain, but that would be boring and not like me to pass up a chance to ramble on about nothing to all twenty of you readers.

When I was in the eighth grade, I read On The Beach by Nevil Shute and LOVED it (this should really explain a lot of things about me).  

Also in the eighth grade, I dressed up as a refrigerator for Halloween.  My dad painted a box white, cut open a freezer door and a main door, and voila - costume.  Best costume ever, in every way except logistically.  I could barely see.  I fell down a lot (or got knocked down when people punched the back of my box - ha!) and would get stuck on my stomach and needed someone to pull me back up.  I couldn't fit through doors.  People asked me if I was an outhouse.  But the worst part of all was after we were done trick or treating and were headed back home in the truck, my beloved white box FLEW out of the back of the truck on the highway and got ran over by a transport.  

That story had nothing at all to do with this book, but I thought it was a good day to fit it into a blog post.

Anyway.  In eighth grade, I read On The Beach by Nevil Shute and LOVED it.  Breakdown by Katherine Amt Hanna really took me back to that experience.  Although the plots are very different (nuclear fallout killing the population slowly vs a plague that brought down most of the world as we know it), I found the world building very similar.  Reading about reverting back to spots with no power, gas rations, food rations, trading food and necessities on market days .. the absolute joy in finding something we take for granted right this minute, like coffee.  

The journey Chris takes to reach his family is a very solitary one, and even when he finds company, he's still a very solitary man.  The story isn't action packed, but moves with a calm grace as we slowly get to know Chris.  

All in all, I was impressed.  I read this book as an epub, but I would definitely purchase a hard copy for my collection.  

See?  Way more fun than if I had ended when I said Period, the end.  

Friday, 26 October 2012

Friday Favourites

First things first.  It's the freakin' weekend baby so let's have me some fun ...

Oh wait, I'm old and lame and quote R Kelly lyrics.  Fun for me means mixing my own drinks and finding my own entertainment.

Here's a perfect drink for a brisk Fall day - it's called Smokin' Apple, and it's basically whiskey and apple cider.  There's a few other frou-frou ingredients, but I'm all for keeping it basic.  Check out the recipe over on my Facebook page, and while you're there, like me because that's the only place I post cocktail recipes.

In need of a laugh?  Let's be honest, it's grey and cold out and the leaves are almost gone, the snow is just around the corner .. who isn't in need of a laugh this time of year?  Check out the hilarious goat video, and tell me you don't want one as a pet.



Tuesday, 23 October 2012

{Review} The Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden



Ebook - 136 pages
Published July 2012 by Carina Press


Camilla can set her watch by her hunky rocket-scientist neighbor who jogs past her window each day. She relishes each glimpse of his shirtless abs, and is dying to see more. But it's hard to connect with a man who doesn't seem to know she exists...

Ivan feels at home in the lab, not in social situations. When he finally approaches his attractive neighbor, it's not for a date--he wants tutoring in how to behave at an important fundraiser. Ivan doesn't expect the chemistry between them to be quite so explosive, and is surprised when Cami actually accepts his proposal to embark on a series of "lessons."

Cami soon discovers Ivan's schedule isn't the only thing he likes to be strict about--he needs to be charge in the bedroom as well. She's shocked at how much she comes to enjoy her submissive side, but wonders if a real relationship is in the equation...



It's been awhile since I properly blogged.  I know.  I'm a bit of a flake.  I know that, too.  You wouldn't be the first to say it, and I'll bet you my last few fingers of whiskey that you won't be the last.  So let's just move on from how I tend to vanish for long periods of time (FYI, I do this in real life too, so don't take it personally) and segue right into this hot little ditty of a book, shall we?

I'm not ashamed to admit that I love a good romance.  And having grown up on the scandalous Harlequin's of the 80's (which are MUCH smuttier than most stuff now, by the by), I love me a good "smut book", as my Ma calls them.  

Hearing my Ma use the word Smut disturbs me more than what's written inside said books.

Anyway.  Sex and romance, me likey. 

When The Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden popped across my reader, I almost rolled my eyes.  Having just finished a horrible "erotic" trilogy I won't mention by name that I hated (Here's a hint - I nicknamed it Fifty Shades of Snoozefests), I was dubious.  The onslaught of erotica/BDSM/sexsexsex books to hit the mainstream market since said Snoozefest had left me overwhelmed with average writing and boring characters.

Not this book. 

I fell in literal love with Ivan's geeky awkwardness.  I adored Cami's average girl vibe.  I found their interactions believable.  This author wrote about sex and BDSM in a way most (especially one) haven't recently - intelligently.  

At 136 pages, this was a quick, hot read, and it hit all the right spots.  Twice.

“In the National Geographic movie of my twisted mind, the lion had just leaped on the gazelle, pinned it to the ground and mounted it from behind. Apparently, the devouring could wait. I should point out that these little flights of fancy on my part often involved extremely improbable animal pairings. I blamed cartoons.” 
-Cami

Friday, 12 October 2012

Guess who's back .. back again ..

Here's the thing - my "day job" is amazing, but it makes me INSANELY busy during the summer months.  Now that it's Fall, and shit is starting to slow down ... your favourite flakey blogger can get back in the groove.  

I'll give a proper update (and a whole shit load o'reviews) soon, but until then, let me leave you with this.


Think Spotify, but way better because it includes booze (clearly my priorities are still the same).  Type in what you're listening to, and BAM - it brings up what you should be drinking whilst you listen.  

Yeah, I said whilst. 

I typed in what I'm listening to, and the best, most appropriate answer ever came up.  Well, almost.  I think the best answer would have been whiskey, buuuuuuut I may be a bit biased.

(also, don't you love how my screen shot includes the window tab entitled "taking screen shots"?) 



Wednesday, 6 June 2012

{review{ Zombie Apocalypse!



Created by Stephen Jones
Published in the UK by Robinson, an imprint of Constable & Robinson
Published in the US by Running Press


I just explained to my dad that I like to intersperse my romance/chick books with really good zombie books (or anything apocalypse-genre, really).

Me:  ... so, basically, it's like I read romance, then zombie, then romance, then zombie, etc etc etc.
Him:  What's the difference?
Me:  Thaaaaaaaat's nice, Dad.
Him:  You can quote me on that.


I don't like every zombie book.  I like the well written, interesting, more than just gore, realistic ones.  Yeah, I said realistic.  I don't like to read about sparkly fucking vampires because I think it's too out there (and too whiney, annoying, etc etc etc), but I love me some realistically written zombies.   Take that to the bank.

I have two favourite zombie books - World War Z, and Rhiannon Frater's As The World Dies trilogy.  Now, I have three.

Other than the really annoying exclamation point in the title (!), I love this book.  From the back cover:

"Told through a series of interconnected eyewitness narratives - text messages, emails, blogs, letters, diaries, and transcripts - this is an epic story of a world plunged into chaos as the dead battle the living for total domination.  "

I expected a somewhat light and easy read, and my slightly ADD mind (or is that too much alcohol?  Whatevs) was looking forward to rather brief chapters of different narratives that could be easily read in spurts.

I did not expect such a intricate story line.  I did not expect to have to force myself to not flip ahead to continuing point of views, and I really did not expect to not want to put the book down.  I didn't expect to feel such attachment to characters I had only been introduced to for a few pages, and I really really didn't expect to be hanging on the edge of my seat.  The slight twist of an ending was least expected of all - and the most enjoyable writing in the entire book.

I expected to enjoy this book.  I did not expect to fucking love it.  Welcome to the top shelf, Zombie Apocalypse!

Monday, 21 May 2012

I Almost Killed A Man

I've been quiet for a reason.  I have a lot of things to write about soon (zombies, self help, recipes, oh my), and I'm hoping I can get back into the groove soon.

If you're wondering why I've been quiet (and by you, I mean all four of you that read this, not including my mom and the Semi-BFF), it's because this month is a bit hard on me.

A year ago one day last week, I caught my husband cheating for the second time (the second time I knew about, anyway).  And when I say cheating, I mean with everyone imaginable.  And when I say I caught him, I mean I read his text messages when he came home from fucking one of his women and had a nap.

Apparently cheating is hard work and makes you very tired.

So, along with the usual pressures of starting over and real life, I've spent most of this month in a bit of a fog.  I often find myself back in that moment, his phone falling out of my hand and hitting the floor, the world around me as I knew it suddenly crashing down.  After throwing up, I stood at the end of the couch, looking down at him, rooted to that spot while I pictured myself killing him.   Walking to the kitchen to get a knife, and stabbing him.  I could actually picture myself doing it, and more than that, I wanted to.  Badly.  

It's hard to talk about.  It's hard to think about.  It seems like I stood there, thinking about murdering him for hours, but I'm certain it was only minutes.  As I finally opened my mouth to start screaming at him, something or someone snapped it shut, and I heard a voice as clear as day.

"It's time to leave.  "

Silently and robotically, I turned from him, and started packing a few things.

To this day I don't know how he slept through me packing my computers and gear, a few clothes and the dogs, but he did.  I don't know how I did it, but I did.

The real pain came later, and continued (continues?) throughout the summer, but that moment right there? That moment changed my entire life.  It changed my entire being.  And sometime in the past week, that moment became a year old.


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

{review} Against The Night by Kat Martin




 "Johnnie Riggs was a night owl.  Tonight he sat at a table at the Kitty Cat Club on Sunset Boulevard, watching a little blonde pole dancer with the hottest body he'd ever seen and trying like hell not to get an erection.  "

Any book that mentions erection in the second sentence of the book is probably going to be my kind of escape. Against the Nightby Kat Martin was a random pick, but one of the best books I've read in it's genre in a long time.

I devoured this book.  I needed this book.  I needed Johnnie.  Tall, dark, gruff, brooding, straight forward, ex-Ranger Johnnie.  I needed a girl like Amy - sweet, and realistically innocent.  I needed their opposites attract dynamic. 

Amy's a kindegarten teacher, fresh on the L.A exotic dancer scene from small town Michigan.  She's trying to track down her stripper sister, who vanished two months ago.  While dancing at the Kitty Cat Club and trying to find some leads, she runs into Johnnie - ex Ranger turned Private Investigator. 

The heat between them is electrifying from the get go, even though there's no actual sex until later.  Their attraction was so well written, I was lost in the pages instantly, barely coming up for air. 

A lot of romances aren't very realistic, and although a few of the events or details in this book follow the same un-realistic formula, I cared so little that I can't even remember what they are now.  I'm smitten with everything about this book - the characters, the attraction, the slight suspense, the writing.   This is one of the later books in the Raines of Wind Canyon series, but I never felt like I was missing anything, and have no problems classifying Against the Night as a great stand alone read.  However, I will be promptly marking the first books in the series high on my TBR pile!

 This is what romance novels are supposed to be - perfect.


P.S  I remember one of the things that did irk me - babies.  Every woman in every romance novel wants babies, and this story is no exception.  I understand it.  I do.  But just once, I'm sure my other Child Free by Choice chickas would like to see a woman FREAK OUT when condoms in the story are forgotten because no way no hell is she gonna be a mamma.  Just a suggestion.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

{review} Fighting to Survive by Rhiannon Frater

 

 Usually, I like to give small updates on what I'm reading next.  Some books get me so excited that it's hard to wait, hard to put it in order of what I want to read.  Never have I been so excited to read a book that it bypassed not only an update here, but the usual to-be-read pile completely.  When the Semi-BFF finally finished reading Fighting to Survive: As the World Dies, Book Two by Rhiannon Frater and dropped it off on one of her visits, I couldn't wait any longer.  I'm pretty sure she was still at the end of the street, waiting on the light to turn when I cracked this baby open to begin reading.

Fighting to Survive is the second book in Rhiannon Frater's As The World Dies trilogy, and I'm going to break it down for you nice and easy here - it's one of the best books I've ever read.  The first book in the series was great (see my review here), but this second one?  Is fucking fantastic.

Trilogies can be hard to write, and even harder to read.  The middle book is a tricky thing - it needs to bridge the catchy beginning and the dramatic end together, while being interesting enough on it's own.  Few second books accomplish this properly (s'up, Catching Fire?), but this one?  This one not only accomplished it's purpose, but surpassed the quality of the first book.

The characters have become deeper.  We start to see Jenni leave her shell-shocked Zombie Ninja coping mechanism, and start to come to terms with not only a different world, but the things she saw - both as the world we know ended, and even earlier, when she lost her identity and morals in a bad marriage.  We see her tough but shallow armour crack, and real emotion come through.

With Katie, what seemed a convienent disclosure of being bi instead of gay when confronted with feelings for a man now make sense.  In the first book, it seemed like a rushed confession.  Now, it ties into the story so much more.

I'm still team Juan, and I still love Travis, but it's Nerit that makes this story complete.  She's strong, she kicks ass (literally), and her decisions are realistic - not just for the story.  The surprise addition of Jack's chapter was some of the best writing I've come across.  Period the end.

The addition of a few new characters provided some fresh entertainment, and I'm more than excited to see what develops in the third book, Siege.

If you haven't already, take a look at Rhiannon Frater's website here, or follow her on Facebook here.  At the very least, start reading this series right fucking now.  RIGHT FUCKING NOW.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

{coffee and conversation} Man Pee & JD

Starting my life over in my thirties isn't what I planned. I didn't plan on moving to a new city, making new friends, relocating my business, my life, my dogs, my comfort zone.  I didn't plan on re-learning how to cook and grocery shop for one person, instead of two (three, really, given the way my Ex ate).  I didn't plan on learning how to sleep alone again.  I didn't plan on being the only one to take care of our effing crazy dogs on a daily basis.  I didn't plan on having no one to come home to. 

I locked myself out the of the apartment the other day.  The night before, I had been watching a stupid Dateline marathon - hours of cheating and muderous spouses, ex spouses, neighbours.  I ended up freaking myself out so much that I triple checked any remotely possible entry point was locked, and barricaded.  So the next day, as I stepped outside with my dogs and the door slammed shut behind us at the same instant I remembered my keys were still inside, I knew instantly that I was screwed.

Thankfully the weather has been completely insane, and I was locked out on a day that felt more like July than March.  I sat on the front steps, crying behind my sunglasses, waiting two hours for my landlord to come let me in.  The entire time, I cursed my Ex.  Hated him for being where I am now. 

It used to be us against the world - now it's just me.  It's daunting and scary, overwhelming and emotional.  By the time my friendly landlord showed up, I was ready to drink my emotions away with some much needed Jack Daniels. 

As I poured the second glass of amber liquid, I started to calm down a bit.  I realized that even though I would love for someone else to worry about taking the garbage out, or to fix stuff around the place, or even just to sit with at the end of the day, being single again isn't so bad.  It was 11am, and I was drinking - no cheating husband to tell me not to, or make me feel bad for it.  No cheating husband asking when dinner would be ready, and complaining omg, we're having chicken again?  No cheating husband leaving his dirty clothes around.  No cheating husband that couldn't hit the toilet bowl if his life depended on it.  No cheating husband, well, cheating

Sitting on the front steps again, this time not locked out and crying, enjoying the sunshine and my JD, I realized that a lot of things suck about being single again.  But not cleaning man pee off the bathroom floor?  That's a pretty big reminder of why it's not all bad.

For my single ladies - what's your favourite part of being single?  Married ladies, I want to hear from you, too!  What's your biggest pet peeve about being married?

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

{cook yourself sober: review} Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens

Jennifer Schaertl
Published by http://www.hcibooks.com/, 2010 



It was really awesome of you guys to vote on the cookbook that JUST got moved to the clearance table and only cost me five bucks.  Seriously - thank you.

While I don't think my kitchen is necessarily "crappy", it may be just a tiiiiiiny bit on the .. well, tiny side.  Tiny may actually be using too big of a word, honestly.  It works because it's just me and because it has tons of storage space (in super tall cupboards that I can't even reach the top of with a stool), but counter space is at a minimum.

I didn't care too much about the kitchen when I was looking at this apartment, to be honest.  Everything else on my 'must have' list checked off (almost), and let's be real - as long as there's room to make margaritas, I'll probably make due.

This is a perfect choice to start off the {cook yourself sober} series.  I'm a decent cook, although I'm more the type that uses recipes as a guideline only, and tend to throw whatever I want into the mix and cross my fingers that it doesn't turn into a drunken mess.

I've chosen 5 recipes for both the Semi-BFF and I to cook seperately, as well as a full dinner for us to cook together.  We'll talk about how much it cost us, how difficult it is, and how realistic it is.  And of course, whether or not we like it and whether or not it actually turns out.  I like to drink while cooking, which makes reading directions ... interesting, to say the least.



What's on the menu?
 
 My recipe for disaster includes:
*Great Guacamole, Batman!
*My Personal Wellington
*Tomato and Avocado Frittata with Crackin' Corn Bread
*Get Your Goat Cheese Souffle
*Bread Pudding with Bourbon Creme Anglaise

The Semi-BFF was away, so she had no say in what I chose for her:
*Look Like You Didn't Hurry Chicken Curry Salad
*Superlative Stuffed Chicken Breast
*Butternutty Squash Bread Pudding
*Swanky Strawberry Salsa
*Individual Sour Cherry Tiramisus

And our dinner together:
*The King of Caesar Salads
*Bring Your Own Margarita Mushroom Tamales
*Butterscotch Creme Brulee

How will it all turn out?  I'm a little scared, but it's nothing some Jack Daniels can't fix.  I'm most looking forward to the Cracklin' Corn Bread.

Which recipe are you most looking forward to seeing us butcher (get it? ha!)?



Monday, 2 April 2012

{what's next} Night Road - Kristin Hannah




There's a lot of things in life that don't appeal to me.  Ex husbands.  Living in a huge city like Toronto (the suburbs of the GTA were even too close).  Hipster men in skinny jeans.  Math.  Sushi.  Michael Buble.  Working a real job.  Exercise.  Kids.

Some women have a very hard time understanding that I don't have a desire for kids.  I never really did, although people told me that once I got married and settled down, that would change.  Well, I got married.  I even settled down.  I still didn't want kids (OMG THE HORROR), even though my ex husband wanted them more than anything (except monthly girlfriends.  He probably wanted a new flavour of the month more than anything, to be honest).

Now people tell me it's because I didn't meet the RIGHT guy.  Uh huh.  Yeah, that's convienent.

The truth of the matter is that while I think kids are hella cute, and love my neices more than they'll ever know, the actual lifestyle that comes along with kids isn't for me.  I'm just getting to the point in my life where I'm not only living it for me, but I'm capable of living it for me.

Plus, let's be honest - I'd be a shitty mom.  The only reason I can handle two crazy dogs is because they nap for about six hours of the day.  And because they don't judge me if I forget to feed them lunch (well, they probably do, I just can't hear them).  If I had kids, they'd be the ones in class that YOUR kids call stinky and don't want to sit next to.  I'm doing the world a favour, really.

Night Roadby Kristin Hannah has a strong motherhood element to it, which in itself doesn't usually appeal to me.  But a few lines on the back cover piqued my interest:

"Vivid, universal, and emotionally complex, Night Roadraises profound questions about motherhood, identity, love and forgiveness.  It is a luminous, heartbreaking novel that captures both the exquisite pain of loss and the stunning power of hope.  "

I may not know a lot about motherhood (ask my brother about the time I babysat my nieces and had to google how to put on a diaper ... and still had it on the poor girl backwards), but I may know a thing or two about losing your identity, and the power of hope.  Count me in.

Friday, 30 March 2012

{review} The Lucky One - Nicholas Sparks




Oh, Nicholas Sparks.  You confuse me so much.  When I read The Notebook, I fell in love.  And when I read A Walk to Remember, I promptly kicked you to the curb.  I'm very fickle like that, you see.  My dad used to say I had a 'Catch & Release' attitude towards men (15 years later, still trying to figure out if he meant to make me sound slutty or not), and it was no different with you.  You had my heart, and then you got entirely too sappy.  Even back then, I was too cynical for sappy.

You tried to redeem yourself with Nights in Rodanthe, but I made it pretty clear that I never wanted to see you again.  I've avoided you like the plague ever since.  One good moment does not a relationship make (trust me, I married my one good moment man).  I made snarky comments about you.  I called you boring and predictable.  I also called you a few other names, but you're probably getting the gist of it - I was a bitch to you, and enjoyed it.

Then my new book club forced me to see you again.  Forced me to stand in the bookstore and actually ask the staff to go get you from the box in the back.  I put off reading The Lucky One as long as possible, and finally had to give in and spend time with you again.

Here's the thing, Mr. Sparks - I can't figure out why I enjoyed The Lucky One so much.  The premise itself was a little too out there for me (yes, this is coming from a lover of all things zombie & apocalypse - what does that tell you?) and the characters a little too transparent.  A man walks across the country (literally) to maybe locate a woman in a photo that had been his good luck charm while overseas?  I don't see that as romantic, I see it as a little stalker-ish.

Of course, as soon as he finds her, she's a guarded woman with a difficult life.  Does she let her walls down for him?  Do they fall in love?

You're Nicholas Sparks.  Of course they do.  I saw the ending coming before I even started the book, but what I didn't see coming was my attachment to the transparent and emotional characters, or my enjoyment of this damn book overall.

Please, Nicholas, please forgive me.  I was bitchy and moody and down right mean, and I'm sorry.  I promise I'll make it up to you, just don't leave me again, okay?  I'll be different this time.  We'll be different this time.  I'll try so hard.  We can make this work, I know we can.

But if I read another snooze fest or see another movie of yours featuring annoying "actress/singers" like Mandy & Miley, I'm out.  Once a fickle bitch, always a fickle bitch.






Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Turtles & Bitches

I haven't had a lot of energy lately.  I have been reading (yay!), but I haven't been posting as much.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I suffer from major depression & anxiety, and I'm not scared to be vocal about when I have bad days because of it.  Or bad weeks.  Or even bad months.  Maybe even a bad year, although that probably has more to do with leaving a man that liked to fuck anything with legs, and less about my chemical imbalance.

When I feel like this for more than a day or two, I tend to turtle.  I stick my hand down, and I just barely manage to do the bare minimum of what's needed in my life, and completely ignore everything else.  Friends, family, activities .. everything gets pushed aside while I'm "turtling", so I can concentrate on just putting one foot in front of the other.

I've mentioned it before, and I'll mention it again - I really love strong, realistic, even a little bitchy women. They inspire me.  They remind me that even though I may not go to church, and even though I may err on the side of recluse, and even though I may be sliiiiiightly cynical, there are others like me.  Others that turn to sarcasm or bitchiness when finding their inner strength.

What better example of a kick-ass strong woman that Kelly Cutrone?  She may be a bitch, and she may be "Kell on Wheels", but good God, look where she's propelled herself to.  That's the kind of strength that inspires me.  I've written one of her quotes from the book If You Have To Cry Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You on the whiteboard in my kitchen.  I look at it multiple times a day to remind myself that although I'm out of my comfort zone, heartbroken, overwhelmed, stressed and worrying if I did or am doing the right thing, I had to take a chance on living the life that I wanted, not the life that others wanted for me.

"...you have to give up your life as you know it to get a new one: that sometimes you need to let go of everything you're clinging to and start over, whether because you've outgrown it or because it's not working anymore, or because it was wrong for you in the first place.” 


I want to know who inspires you, or what quote you look to when you need a kick in the ass.  Tell me who your favourite kick ass woman is!


Anyway.  A whole lotta reviews are coming up soon, including my review of the first 'Self Help' book you chose for me (here's a hint - I'm still drinking), and a review on the second book in my FAVOURITE zombie trilogy.  And also?  I'm hungry and am itching to start cooking, so get your asses in gear and vote for which cookbook I review!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

{review} Outpost by Adam Baker


Adam Baker
Published 2011 by Hodder & Stoughton

Because I'm such a cynical bitch that would prefer the solitude of a cabin in the woods to having to deal with most people in the general population of the world, an aspect of this book really appealed to me.  Namely, the setting.  A remote oil rig in the middle of the Arctic?  My therapist will have a field day with this, but that sounds like freakin' heaven to me.  Throw in an apocalypse factor, and there's no place I'd rather spend my final days.

Or my life in general.

I had one problem with this book .. well, two, actually.  One - it was less "zombie apocalypse" and more "ET is causing shit, and for reasons we'll never know" apocalypse.  Call me weird (I've been called much, much worse), but I find zombies much more believable, and enjoyable, than ET.

The second issue - I couldn't put in to words what I was feeling about this book, other than wishing I lived on aforementioned remote oil rig and not next to the neighbours that hate me.

So I did what every spoiled brat would do -  I had my dad do the review for me.  Enjoy!


I finally finished Outpost, and what a sad little book it is.

Not sad because it's the end of civilization, that's sad too, of
course, but sad because as an apocolyptic sci-fi adventure, it had
SUCH potential.

It's sort of like Michael Crichton meets Stephen King, unfortunately,
they were both having an off day.

The tale involves a group of people marooned on an enormous isolated
arctic drilling rig when reports come in that the world is being
overrun by a bizarre plague, one where metal elements of unknown
origin take over their bodies and stick out of their skin like
porcupine quills.

These don't do anything for the thought processes either, of course,
so they turn into defacto flesh eating metal infused zombies. (How
come the monsters are never vegetarians? Just wondering.)

There was so much potential to turn this story into an end of
civilaztion morality play, or an alien revenge adventure,
unfortunately the author missed every opportunity.

And after wading through 400 pages to find out what happened here, I
never did.  It's like the author said "Oh, I have to go cut the grass
now, I guess the book's done."

The basic rules of journalism, or any form of storytelling, are "who -
what - when - where - why"

Well we have the who, when, and where.  Now we need the author to come
back and give us the what and why.

I won't hold my breath waiting.

What a waste of a good story.  If Michael Crichton or Stephen King had
written this it'd be a major motion picture this summer.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

{Cook Yourself Sober} Time to Vote!

It's that time of the month!  
(BTW, cracked myself up with that one)

I'll be reviewing one cookbook in April, and it's time for you to choose which one.  Not only will I be cooking different recipes from the book you choose, but the Semi-BFF (who has less patience than I do, if you can imagine) will review one recipe as well.  At the end of the month, she and I will get together and cook an entire meal from the book - starter, main, dessert.  We'll take photos, maybe a little video, and a lot of whiskey while we rate the book you choose for us.


The Choices




Accomplished food writers and editors Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs had a mission: to discover and celebrate the best home cooks in the country. Each week for fifty-two weeks, they ran recipe contests on their website, Food52.com, and the 140 winning recipes make up this book. They include:
  • Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies
  • Secret Ingredient Beef Stew
  • Simple Summer Peach Cake
  • Wishbone Roast Chicken with Herb Butter
These recipes prove the truth that great home cooking doesn’t have to be complicated or precious to be memorable. This book captures the community spirit that has made Food52 a success. It features Amanda’s and Merrill’s thoughts and tips on every recipe, plus behind-the-scenes photos, reader comments, and portraits of the contributors—putting you right in the kitchen with America’s most talented cooks.



If, like me, you love food and have hungry mouths to feed when you get home after a long day, then allow me to let you in on a totally revolutionary new way of cooking. In this book I’m going to show you how to make a complete meal in the time you’d normally spend on one dish. What you’ll be able to achieve in 30 minutes or less will absolutely blow your mind. It’s certainly blown mine!
This is not about compromising on quality. It’s about being organized, working fast, and using shortcuts and clever tricks to put insanely delicious plates of food on the table in no time. Each of the 50 meals inside has been carefully written so there’s no messing about—just good, fast cooking. I’ve created complete menus of foods that go beautifully together and planned recipes in a really unique, easy-to-follow way. This kind of cooking is all about using every minute wisely, having fun, and reclaiming your kitchen for the job it was meant for.




If you think gourmet meals in crappy little kitchens is an oxymoron, think again! In her debut cookbook, Jennifer Schaertl tackles the myths about gourmet cooking (you don't need expensive cutlery and a gazillion ingredients!) and shows you how to make delectable meals despite the lack of counter space. Everything from appetizers and salads to soups and one-pot wonders to side dishes and entrees, and of course, dessert is included along with Jennifer's tried-and-true advice for working with limited space, appliances, cookware, and ingredients all on a limited budget. More than 130 Crappy Little Kitchen (CLK) recipes await you inside, plus: Why a CLK can actually be an asset, not a liability.



Voting starts TODAY and runs until March 29th.  Remember, only the votes on the poll on the right-hand side of this blog, or comments to this post count as votes.  That means if you feel REALLY strongly about one choice, you can vote twice ;)



Tuesday, 6 March 2012

What's Next? The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks



I'm not actually a Nicholas Sparks fan.  Yeah, I said it.  Usually I find his books entirely too sappy (typed as I listen to a 90's Love Songs playlist, of course), and seriously unbelievable.  And don't get me started on the movie based on his A Walk To Remember, either (that may in fact be the movie that sealed the deal on my disdain for Mandy Moore).  Seriously, did you see that movie?




Message In A Bottle?  Meh.  Nights In Rodanthe?  Vomit inducing.

I'm aware that I read many Chick Lit books that are probably much sappier than Mr. Sparks, but there's just something about his stories that bring out my bitchy side.

Other than the Notebook, of course.  I think that just goes without saying.

So it's easy to imagine that when it comes to Nicholas Sparks, I tend to only notice his books if I've taken a wrong turn from the Horror section and lost my way amongst his books filled with unicorns and fucking roses.

I'm having a hard time making new friends in my new city - it's easy to be a bitter and sarcastic bitch on paper, but in real life, it doesn't win you any friends (except for other bitter and sarcastic bitches, HOLLA!).  So I joined a brand new, haven;t even had the first meeting yet, book club.

And the first book they voted on reading?  None other than The Lucky One
 by Nicholas Sparks.

This may not end well, lovelies.  This may not end well at all.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

{Fixing Yourself update} Just One Thing

I had a bad day last week.  I have a lot of bad days, to be honest - starting life over again after divorce is exhausting - but one day in particular was exceptionally hard.

Of course, that's the day I headed to the bookstore.  The bookstore and library are usually my sanctuary, the place I go to breathe deeply, relax, and take a step away from anything that's going on in the world outside.  I find that when I'm teetering on the edge of major anxiety attacks, this is the one place that will keep me grounded (other than a small town pub with a live band and a lot of alcohol, of course).

"This is fucking perfect, " I panted, leaning on the shelf in the 'Well Being' section in the throes of a major panic attack, attempting to calm myself down before I drew too much attention.

Don't mind me, just another woman having a break down in front of You Can Fix Your Life by Dr. Phil.  The irony is not lost on me.

I eventually managed to pull myself together, locate this months Fixing Yourself (Without Whiskey) title, and scurry back to my car.

Moral of the story?  The timing for me to read a "Self Help" book is dead on.

My first impression of Just One Thing: Developing A Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time by Rick Hanson is pretty simple - it's a small, easy to read book.  It's broken down into 52 mind exercises, which I'm reading two or three of a day.  Well, that's the plan, anyway - so far I've accomplished reading only one a day.

The first part is about being good to yourself.  I kind of thought drinking myself to oblivion was being good to myself, but whatevs.  I've read the first four practices thus far, and so far I've learned the following:

1.  I'm not my own friend, most of the time.  After reading the section on this, it's made me aware of how much of a shitty friend I am to myself.  So now I'm aware of it, but that's it.  I think that makes me an even shittier friend to myself.

2.  Take a few seconds to enjoy the feeling of the small good things - this is a fantastic premise, and one I agree with.  Then the author spurted off some lame and corny analogies, like ".. a warm glow spreading through the chest like the warmth of a cup of hot cocoa on a cold wintery day.  "

Right.  Eyes rolled.

3.  Compassion to yourself - acknowledge difficulties, challenges and suffering.  Again, fantastic.  I'm kick ass for leaving a man that didn't value me enough to respect me.  Right?  But yet again, off we go with the laaaaaaaaame sentences like ".. visualize a light radiating from you, maybe from your heart.  "

Eyes rolled, whiskey poured.

4.  Relax.  Breathe.  breathing exercises.  deep breaths.  The usual.

So far, I'm not feeling very fixed.  I'm feeling like I need a drink.

Or five.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Review - See You At The Show by Michelle Betham

 
See You At The Show
Michelle Betham
eBook
Published August 2011
 
 
Oh, how I needed this book.  I needed a kick ass character like Stevie Stone.  I needed a love triangle (love square may be more appropriate in this situation, really) full of drama, set in a background of rockstars, bars, and also in the polar opposite political arena. 

It's easy to relate to this book, in many ways - most of us have that one person we're addicted to, even though we know they're bad for us in some (or in all) ways.  That one person who is perfect in all the wrong ways. 

At first glance, and for the first bit, this book seems like it will be all about Stevie and her addiction to the bad boy lead singer of a popular (aka sexy) rock band.  But no no - no, this book is not just about Stevie, our bad boy lead singer Mark, and the brooding best friend Johnny. 

This book is also about Daniel Madison.  Happily married to the perfect politicians wife, headed straight for the role of Britain's Prime Minister, and a little naive, Daniel Madison.  The instant he and Stevie Stone lock eyes, both their worlds change.  I'm not sure why his character tugged so hard on what little heartstrings I have left, but I fell in love with him the same way Stevie does - hard and fast.

The story that unfolds is dramatically addicting, and although the book ended differently than what I wanted, this light read had my attention from beginning to end.