Let’s Be Honest Guys

I’m not reviewing these days, and I’m not likely to anytime soon.

Sound Bytes – April 2014 Link-Up

soundbytes pictureThe formerly weekly audiobook review link-up Sound Bytes is now a monthly link-up. I encourage you to leave links to any audiobooks you review throughout the month and check out the links of other reviewers for your next great listen. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

 

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The Island of Doves by Kelly O’Connor McNees – Book Review and Giveaway

islandofdoves zpsa5611eb0 pictureThe Island of Doves by Kelly O’Connor McNees

It is really no secret that I love the books that McNees writes. I’ve been looking forward to The Island of Doves for a long time, and happily, my anticipation was rewarded with a lovely reading experience. If you’re interested in hearing more about the plot, check out this description from the publisher:

Susannah Fraser lives in one of Buffalo’s finest mansions, but her husband has made it a monstrous prison. When a mysterious woman offers to help her escape, Susannah boards a steamboat for Mackinac Island. But after being a dutiful daughter and obedient wife, it is only as she flees that she realizes how unprepared she is for freedom.

An exceptional woman of early America, Magdelaine Fonteneau has overcome convention to live a bold and adventurous life, achieving great wealth and power as a fur trader. But Magdelaine has also seen great tragedy and lost all that was dear to her, and she is no longer sure her hardened heart is capable of love.

Now, Magdelaine seeks redemption by offering safe harbor to Susannah. But as their friendship grows into something miraculous, it changes each woman in unexpected ways. Each needs to learn to love again, and only together can they realize a future bright with the promise of new life…

I think my favorite thing about The Island of Doves is the setting. Mackinack Island is a semi-frontier landscape in this time period, but still without the wild west sort of feeling that often turns me off. It is also a novel setting (pun not intended, I swear), bringing something newly vibrant to the world of historical fiction.

The story itself could probably have been told at a variety of different time periods – including, with some significant changes for technology – today. However, McNees still makes it feel fresh, mostly by creating characters who are fully fledged enough to seem truly alive, and giving them time to form relationships, as well as impediments against which to struggle.

While I’m not surprised that I loved this, I am happy that McNees continues to live up to my now very high expectations for her work.

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If you want to read The Island of Doves for yourself, enter at the Google form below by 11:59pm Central on Sunday, April 6th. One winner in the US will receive a copy of the book from the publisher.

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The New Deadwardians by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard – Book Review

thenewdeadwardians zps3557d5db pictureSO. I was listening to Pop Culture Happy Hour for the billionth time, as is my wont (I promise, a post about this is coming), and it was an old one in which Glen Weldon mentioned Free Comic Book Day. This inspired me to look up the comic book stores around me on the Free Comic Book Day website. It turns out we have more independent comics shops around than we do bookstores, including chain bookstores. So then I decided that my new project is to explore both our local comics shops and comics and graphic novels in general by buying something from each of the stores. For my first attempt, I found the local shop to be small and dominated predominantly by single issue comics. Since I don’t feel quite ready for those yet, I focused on the small rack of compilations and works originally published as complete graphic novels. I was hoping to be the beneficiary of some good hand selling, but the clerk was busy most of the time we were in there, so I just browsed until I found THIS little gem.

The New Deadwardians by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard
Published by Vertigo, an imprint of D.C. Comics

EDWARDIAN VAMPIRES VERSUS EDWARDIAN ZOMBIES. #FTW

In The New Deadwardians, Britain has been frozen in time by a horrid disease and a cure that might even be worse. In 1861, Britain began to be plagued by the Restless Curse, something that effectively turned people into zombies. In an attempt to counteract the curse and provide an ability to fight the Restless, the Cure was invented and taken by the upper classes. The Cure was able to make those who took it invisible to the Restless, but it did it by making them dead as well, vampires to be exact, referred to as the Young. Although the lower classes are still human, their lives are basically ruled by interactions with the two types of dead creatures around them, and they’re starting to revolt. George Suttle is one of the Young, and the last detective in the Scotland Yard murder squad. There’s not much need for a homicide detective when everyone who is considered to matter is already dead. Except then a Young man is found dead, and not by any of the common causes. How can someone dead die again? Chief Inspector Suttle may have gotten in over his head in this investigation.

I completely loved this book. First of all, Edwardian vampires and zombies? SOLD. SOLD. The story is told well and paced beautifully, I really didn’t run into any problems considering this compilation was originally sold as single issue comics, it flows very nicely. I also adored the illustrations; color is used to great advantage, setting the scene and communicating even the slightest change in mood.

I adored this x1000000. If you have any recommendations for me on the graphic novel front, I’d love to hear them, in case the next comics store I head to isn’t so much on the hand selling, either.

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Cauliflower & Quinoa “Mac and Cheese”

This isn’t typically a ‘post a recipe’ type of blog, but I tonight I made some adaptations to something I found on Pinterest and it was delicious and a bunch of people wanted the recipe, so… voila! (and because I’m not typically a food blogger, I didn’t think about taking a picture until way too late, so, sorry, maybe next time I make it?)

The recipe, for cauliflower and quinoa “mac and cheese,” is an adaptation primarily of the cheesy quinoa mac and cheese from Around the Table, as well as the fauxtatoes (mashed cauliflower and quinoa) that we typically make as a mashed potato substitute. We tried the Around the Table quinoa mac a few weeks ago and didn’t love it. The recipe itself was fine, good enough to make again even, but we were expecting something creamier from a recipe calling itself mac and cheese.

I decided to make the recipe again for tonight, as I have instituted Meatless Mondays at our house, despite objections of a certain someone. I spent much of the morning thinking about it, thinking about all the extra cheese my husband wanted me to add to make the dish creamier and how much less healthy that was going to make it. And then I thought about the fauxtatoes we make, and how much creamier they are than the quinoa mac recipe. While making the recipe, I also decided to substitute yogurt for half of the milk in the recipe. The result was a really creamy and really delicious dish that just about everyone ate gleefully. The girls even asked for more, although E didn’t love the crust.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of dry quinoa
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 2 cups grated cheese (cheddar, colby jack, etc)
  • 1/4 cup Panko (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black papper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Onion powder
  • Oil to grease the pan

Directions:

  1. Cut cauliflower into chunks, add to a pot of boiling water, cook until cauliflower is tender enough to cut with a fork (will depend on how big your chunks are). Drain cauliflower and mash with a potato masher
  2. While the cauliflower is cooking, prepare quinoa as per package instructions.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. When cauliflower is mashed and quinoa is cooked, combine them with the garlic and onion powder, salt, and pepper to taste.
  5. Mix milk, yogurt, and eggs together in a small bowl, fold into quinoa/cauliflower mixture.
  6. Add about 3/4 of the cheese into cauliflower and quinoa mix, stir so that some of the cheese melts, then transfer the mix into the greased 9×13
  7. Top with Panko and the remaining cheese, bake long enough to brown the cheese and Panko (for me, 25 minutes, then another 10 at 400)

As the main dish this serves 8 at roughly 260 calories as prepared here. We served it with sides of kidney beans and roasted broccoli (cooked with olive oil and kosher salt at 350 until lightly browned). I ate just this and the broccoli and it was a completely satisfying meal.

Leanne at Around the Table has a bunch of other suggestions for serving, all of which would probably also be delicious.

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Sound Bytes Monthly Link-Up