Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bookish Review: Falling for Hamlet

Falling for Hamlet retells Shakespeare's "Hamlet" from Ophelia's point of view, set in the present day. In this one, Ophelia is not crazy and doesn't kill herself, just pretends to. The book is sprinkled with lines from the play (and some from other Shakespeare plays), but the majority is re-written prose. Hamlet is a college student and Ophelia is a modern-day high schooler who lives in the building with the royal family. They're together, though their families do not approve. When Hamlet's father dies, things start to fall apart. The book was an enjoyable read, and the transition of the classic story to the present-day is pretty well done. It seems this could be used to pique teen's interest in the play.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cookish: Snacktime


3 ripe Haas avocados
1/2 medium tomato, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
grated onion
garlic powder

Slice the avocados in half, remove the pit, and spoon the flesh into a bowl. If your avocados are not perfectly ripe, you can chop them, but if they're really ripe, they'll be pretty mashable just as they are. add the lemon juice (you can add more if 1/2 is not enough). Add salt, pepper, and a few shakes of garlic powder (or granulated garlic). Use your microplane grater and grate a couple teaspoons of onion juice in. (You can just add chopped onion, if you like. I don't really like chunks of raw onion, so this is my alternative.) Mash the avocados to the desired consistency and stir in the tomatoes. You can also add a few shakes of Tabasco. Serve with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bookish Review: Seven Sorcerers

Seven Sorcerers is the start to a series, so don't expect a very tidy ending. This middle-grade novel involves a girl, Nim, who wakes up to find that every trace of her brother has disappeared and she is the only one who remembers him. He's been snatched by a bogeyman, and she is the next on the list. She joins up with another kidnapped child who managed to escape the bogeyman's grasp and goes on a quest to find her brother and return everyone's memories of him and her. They travel through a magical world fueled by human's hopes and fears that is slowly dying, encountering magical creatures and danger along the way. Nim is a very likeable character, and it's a pretty good read. Recommended for fans of Fablehaven. (It is not, as one person told me it was supposed to be, "the next Harry Potter.")

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bookish Review: Second Glance

I think this may be my favorite Jodi Picoult novel yet (she's written a lot more than I've read, but I have read a few). Her books are usually somewhat hard to read and tackle difficult topics. This one focuses on a ghost story, which was an interesting departure. It also touches on suicide, eugenics, selective breeding, rare diseases, discrimination against American Indians, and love--so, you know, nothing too complicated or controversial! It's set in Vermont and weaves together stories from the 1930s through today, mainly focusing on the impact loved ones can have on us, what family means, and some paranormal activity. Quite an enjoyable read and not as bleak as some she's written. Oh, and the eugenics information she includes is based on real-life happenings in the 30s, which I had not heard about. Pretty interesting--and scary.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bookish Review: One Day

One Day is a book that was made into a movie; I watched the movie first, I am sorry to say. I can't resist Anne Hathaway. At any rate, I have now read the book, too! First, I'll tell you that the movie actually sticks remarkably close to the plot of the book, which doesn't often happen, so well-done to the filmmakers. The story is about Emma and Dexter, two college acquaintances who hook up on the night of graduation and then become friends. The story is told by focusing on the same date every year and tracing their friendship, more-than-friendship, not-even-friendship saga. It is pretty well-written and enjoyable, but bittersweet, as might be expected. Both the book and the movie are recommended; read the book first. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cookish: Dinner time

So, this "recipe" is not really exact. It was more an effort to use up some leftovers from the pasta spinach bake a little while ago. As such, I didn't measure anything, and you could change all of the amounts anyway, depending upon how many you're feeding, so here are just some general guidelines:

Pesto (I used a couple spoonfuls)
Toasted pecans (a handful, broken into pieces or chopped)
Whole wheat pasta (I had less than 1/2 pkg of egg noodles)
Cream cheese (a tablespoon or two, just enough to add some creaminess)
Chicken (I defrosted 3 boneless, skinless tenders)
Peas ( about 1/2 cup)
salt, pepper, red pepper, garlic powder (to taste)

I cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, seasoned it, and sauteed til cooked through. Meanwhile, I cooked and drained the pasta. Then, I tossed everything together. Easy, tasty!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bookish Review: The Family Fang

The Family Fang is an interesting book about the damage parents can inflict on their children and whether those children can overcome the damage. Mr. and Mrs. Fang are performance artists and when they have children, the children become an integral part of the art. They refer to their children as Child A and Child B more often than their actual names and the question becomes whether they actually love their children or just love what they can do for their art. When their parents disappear, Annie and Buster must determine whether something has actually happened to them or if this is just another piece of art, and whether they should go along with it this time or not.

I wouldn't call this a fun read, but it is interesting and pretty well-written.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bookish Review: The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag

Flavia DeLuce is one of my favorite characters. First seen in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, she returns in this book to solve another mystery. A precocious 11-year-old, Flavia is ever trying to poison her older sisters, who torment her in many ways, under the nose of their inattentive philatelist father. Flavia misses nothing and her observations and machinations are always entertaining. This one is highly recommended, and I hope to find the time soon to read the others in the series.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cookish: Dinner time

Chicken Tortilla soup

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
lemon (you could use lime, I just happened to have lemon)
1/2 onion
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
3 chicken tenders
5 cloves garlic
1 box chicken broth
chili powder
Sazon seasoning (optional)
tortilla chips
jarred jalepenos (reserve 1 tbs of liquid)
hot sauce, to taste

I've made tortilla soup many times and many different ways. It usually fluctuates based on what I have on hand. Here's what I did this time:

I heated a little oil in a large saucepan and sauteed 1/4 onion, chopped, and 3 whole garlic cloves along with the cumin, chili powder, and sofrito. Meanwhile, I used the tomatoes, remaining 1/2 onion, garlic, jalapenos, and lemon juice to make this salsa.

I added the liquid from the tomatoes, the tbs of jalepeno liquid, and the chicken broth to the pan, and added the carrots and celery. I allowed that to cook for a few minutes and then added the cut-up chicken, 1/4 cup of salsa, and corn. I would also add black beans to this, but I didn't happen to have any. I let that simmer for 15 minutes, added salt and pepper to taste, and voila! To serve, I topped with crushed tortilla chips, cheese, an extra squeeze of lemon, hot sauce,  and diced avocado.