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Can’t Stop the Signal
CitB: stay on task, grasshopper. we let the Alexander burn us out of the sky, your red hot love will be subsumed by a bigger, hotter flame
ByteMe: how do you even function in society?
CitB: it’s a struggle
Before this moment, I have never wished to be something other than what I am.
Normally I try not to let myself get swept up in all the excitement over the Next Big Book; I’ve been burned one (or fifteen) times too many. But Illuminae? Deserves all the hype and then some. It’s a twisty-turny, roller coaster ride with a little something for everyone: action, adventure, romance, suspense, science fiction, horror. Zombies, spaceships, and an insane artificial intelligence. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The story starts with a bang – literally. The year is 2075, and the planet Kerenza is under attack. An illegal mining colony located far from the core, Kerenza is the site of a power struggle between two mega-corps: Wallace Ulyanov Consortium (WUC), which operates Kerenza, and its competitor, BeiTech Industries. Rather than report Kerenza’s illicit activities to the United Terran Authority (UTA) and bury the WUC in fines, BeiTech chooses a more lucrative and diabolical route: kill everyone on Kerenza and steal the planet for itself. Since it’s an illegal settlement, chances are that the WUC will write off the loss rather than report it to the UTA. That’s BeiTech’s gamble, anyway, and it’s a safe one. Only they didn’t wager on there being any survivors.
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I’m not 100% sure of the genesis of this particular ice cream flavor, but I think it had something to do with carrot cake ice cream. As in, I really wanted to give it a try, but was one tub short of plain cream cheese for the icing swirl. Plain Tofutti cream cheese got me thinking about Daiya’s amazaballs strawberry cream cheese, one thing led to another, and – huzzah! – strawberry cream cheese ice cream. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.
(Actually I made this way back in October of last year, but held the post back so that it would be more timely. You’re welcome!)
Initially I thought that a cream cheese swirl/chunks of cream cheese a la cookie dough would be the ticket, but not so much! Solid cream cheese doesn’t freeze as well as ice cream batter and besides, I think the cream cheese flavor tastes better when evenly distributed throughout the ice cream rather than concentrated in little bites. Luckily my ice cream maker did such a thorough job of mixing the cream cheese with the batter – even when added near the end of the cycle – that I ended up with very few chunks.
My advice is to add the cream cheese as soon as the batter’s poured. 6 ounces (or 3/4 of a tub) will give you a nice flavor, but if you’d like your ice cream extra cheesy, maybe try a full 8 ounce tub for maximum effect. If you’re really feeling adventurous and want to give chunky a try, add the cream cheese during the last few minutes of the cycle.
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A Satisfying Follow-Up to City of Stairs
(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. Trigger warning for attempted rape.)
People often ask me what I see when I look at the world. My answer is simple, and true. Possibilities. I see possibilities. —letter from Vallaicha Thinadeshi, 1649
More boos and catcalls. Mulaghesh thins her eyes as she watches the tribal leaders. They are all skinny, haggard things, dressed in robes and furs, their necks brightly tattooed and covered with curious patterns. Some are women, she sees, which surprises her: Bulikov strictly forbade women from doing anything more than firing out children as quickly and efficiently as possible. But then, she thinks, Voortya probably wouldn’t have tolerated that bullshit.
Five years have passed since the Battle of Bulikov, and its heroes are all scattered around the globe. Former ministry agent Shara Komayd now runs the whole damn thing – but her progressive, pro-Continent policies have proven unpopular in Saypur, and it’s unlikely that her stint as Prime Minister will endure long enough for Shara to see them through. Meanwhile, Shara’s muscle Sigrud has reconnected with his estranged family, helped to found the new democracy The United Dreyling States … and been nudged into political office by his wife, Hild. (“Chancellor” is a safer occupation than “pirate hunter” or “assassin” – or so one would think.)
As for General Turyin Mulaghesh, she’s done what Sigrud can only dream of: disavowed herself of politics altogether. After Bulikov, Mulaghesh was promoted to vice-chairman of the Saypuri Military Council: a promotion that did not sit well with this soldier. Haunted by her past and frustrated by a bureaucratic post that prevented her from actively atoning for her sins, Mulaghesh abruptly retired to the resort island of Javrat. Now she spends her days drinking, scrapping with the locals, and being an all-around curmudgeon.
Until the day PM Komayd pulls her back in, that is.
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So I was a little skeptical of this dish; as much as I love me some pesto, I’ve never wanted to put it in a mug and chug it like melted Daiya. (BEST.) But don’t let the sub-par photograph fool you: this dish is ah-may-zing!
The recipe is from Mark Reinfeld’s The 30-Minute Vegan: Soup’s On!, and I must admit up front: I used store-bought gnocchi instead of making them by hand. Way easier, and probably tastier to boot, since my gnocchi-rolling skills are not exactly on point. Otherwise I followed the directions mostly as-is. Well, except for the tomatoes. I used about double the amount called for, but only because I didn’t want to freeze half a can. Leftover ingredients, blerg.
In addition to the obvious – basil, garlic, nutritional yeast, and cashews (or pine nuts) – the soup also has onions, veggie stock, soy sauce, and parsley. Everything but the tomatoes and gnocchi are blended to creamy perfection, a texture that’s complemented nicely by the chunky tomatoes and hearty gnocchi.
Will make again.
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A bloody good history lesson for kids who don’t usually love the subject.
(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley.)
Minamoto Yoshitsune should not have been a samurai. But his story is legend in this real-life Game of Thrones.
This epic tale of warriors and bravery, rebellion and revenge, reads like a novel, but this is the true story of the greatest samurai in Japanese history.
When Yoshitsune was just a baby, his father went to war with a rival samurai family—and lost. His father was killed, his mother captured, and his brothers sent away. Yoshitsune was raised in his enemy’s household until he was sent away to live in a monastery. He grew up skinny and small. Not the warrior type. But he did inherit his family pride and when the time came for the Minamoto to rise up against their enemy once again, Yoshitsune was there. His daring feats, such as storming a fortress by riding on horseback down the side of a cliff and his glorious victory at sea, secured Yoshitsune’s place in history and his story is still being told centuries later.
(Synopsis via Goodreads.)
So this is a first: I do not remember requesting an ARC of this book. I suspect the wishbone button is at play here but, since NetGalley doesn’t have a way of tracking wishes, who knows? It was a stressful summer and fall, and I may have done all sorts of crazy things on the internet that I don’t remember.
Which is my roundabout way of saying that, despite the abundance of katanas and severed heads, Samurai Rising isn’t the sort of book I normally gravitate to. I don’t read a ton of middle grade, and military history mostly bores me to tears. (I’d call Samurai Rising equal parts biography and military history/strategy. But since Yoshitsune is mostly known for his inspired military leadership, that tips the scales more heavily toward the latter.) Though I did skim some of the more strategy-heavy battle scenes (the lack of maps in the ARC made them even more difficult for me to envision), overall I was pleasantly surprised: Samurai Rising is a rather engaging read.
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The title pretty much says it all. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a month now, but what it lacks in timeliness, it makes up for with cute doggy pics.
Shane and I didn’t do much for Christmas, on account of being in mourning and all, but I did spoil the dogs with a ton of gifts. Buying dog toys is a bit of a gamble, since they can be kind of random with their preferences. That’s okay, though; if my dogs don’t like a certain toy, sooner or later a foster will come along who does. (ALWAYS send the fosters home with a gift basket!)
Rennie does have one weak spot: BALLS. She was big on tennis balls for awhile, but once she lost most of her teefies, she switched to plush balls. Her all-time favorite is the medium Skins ball made by Aspen/Booda. Made, past tense: while I was doing my holiday shopping, I discovered that they discontinued it. I was so bummed, you guys! I imagine this is how parents feel when, rushing around on x-mas eve, they spot the very last Barbie Saddle ‘N Ride Horse on the shelf, only to have some stranger beat them to it by a millisecond. I SHOULD HAVE FILLED A WAREHOUSE WHEN I HAD THE CHANCE.
So I did what any good mom would do, and I bought every single other kind of plush ball I could find. Something like 48 of them, when all was said and done. Rather than wrap them all individually, I put them all in one box and dumped it over Rennie’s head. The video was not as dramatic as I’d hoped.
But she loves her new balls and really that’s all I could ask for. Still, she has not abandoned her six original Booda balls, which are scrappy with saliva yet in surprisingly good shape considering how much she uses them. I guess she treats them with extra loving care. Most of her balls look like swiss cheese or fluffy amoebas after just a few days.
Sadly, Rennie was more or less alone in unwrapping gifts this year; Peedee was the only other dog who was super-into it. Jayne helped, a little – but she was more interested in eating the paper than playing with the gifts inside.
Mags and Finnick want nothing to do with our human nonsense. I even tried wrapping a few treats for them – like I did for Peedee’s birthday – but even that wasn’t enough to pique their interest. They just are not accustomed to working for their meals. (Mags has trained me to feed her by hand, yo! Diva much?)
After the jump you’ll find some more x-mas pics, mostly of Rennie since she’s the only one who really performed for us. Most of the presents were for her, so…fair’s fair I guess.
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(Full disclosure: I received an electronic ARC for review through Edelweiss.)
The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.
Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.
But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.
(Synopsis via Goodreads.)
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For review through Blogging for Books: Life-Changing Magic: A Journal: Spark Joy Every Day, inspired by by Marie Kondō’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. (Weirdly, they are listed as different editions of the same book on Goodreads. Ooops!)
A copy of Meg Medina’s Burn Baby Burn, received for review through Library Thing. (Spoiler alert: I loved it!) Thanks, Candlewick Press!
I also snagged a few great deals on ebooks this month:
For review on NetGalley:
For review on Edelweiss: