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, 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.