“City Of Bones” by Cassandra Clare

So I’m gonna be honest- I tore through this series like I haven’t in a while. I very quickly developed a fangirl reaction to not only this series but the trailers for the movie that comes out in August, which btw looks epic. But, first things first, let’s talk about “City of Bones”.
So, it’s another of those “there’s a whole other world beneath our noses” books, which isn’t quite played out, but I feel like it might be getting close to it. I mean, I know it’s a classic way to enter a brand new world, you can’t beat it, it’s the perfect way to introduce the audience to this new world and all it’s weird rules and creatures. But still, do you know how many times I’ve read it? I can’t tell you, because I’ve lost track. But that little quibble aside, and one other that I’ll get to in a minute, I really loved this book. Clary was awesome and brave, and not in the usual way you’d expect in a book about demon- hunting. She wasn’t much for flying sidekicks or whatever, and wouldn’t be for several books, but she’s a fighter and she refused to give up. Her mom was missing, her world was in chaos and she was in danger and there was very little she could do about it, but she didn’t give up and she didn’t even consider giving up. She just kept fighting and trying to protect the people that were important to her.

The whole Shadowhunter thing is pretty cool too. Apparently they’re the Nephilim, the offspring of humans and angels, a thing that I first heard of in an X- Files episode years and years ago. (You can’t say my nerd pedigree isn’t spotless, heh- heh.) There’s also something about Seraphim blades and stuff that I’m honestly a bit fuzzy on because they have to, like, name the Seraphim blade before they can use and that’s never really explained. Does each name confer a certain power on each blade? Are they power levels? Why? How? It’s never explained, and I would really like an explanation. But other than that, I quite liked the world she made. It seems pretty realistic and well- crafted.

The weird thing about these books, among the other thing that I still haven’t mentioned, is that there’s this guy, the bad guy, Valentine, which is a stupid ass name for a bad guy, everything else aside (why name you’re villian after the holiday for love?), and he is basically Voldemort. Seriously, before anyone who’s read these books argues with me, think about it- he’s all about how his hidden kind of human is the best, mundanes/ muggles are terrible, and those with power are the very best. There’s even this thing he says about how the Downworlders, vampires, werewolves and warlocks, aren’t as good as the Shadowhunters because they’re tainted, have dirty blood, mudbloods if you will. It’s crazytown. Did she realize she was doing it when she did it? But that’s not even the weirdest part. The weirdest part is that all of the adults in the book are ex- members of his little gang of not- Deatheaters, called the Circle. And pretty much all of the main characters are the children of ex- Circle members. Not only that, but- spoilers- Clary is the biological daughter of Valentine, not- Voldemort himself. Can you imagine if that had popped up in Harry Potter? It certainly would have livened things up a bit, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, then there’s Jace, the love interest, and he is bad- freaking- ass. Like, seriously, he is a badass. He is an ass- kicker of the first order, great warrior, great demon hunter. Not only that, but the boy is really funny. These are character traits that I really look for in a fictional man. You can’t lose with a funny ass- kicker. Especially when you have one that is so clearly gone over the heroine. It’s really, really sweet. I loved their romance and just watching those two. They are very, very cute together and for once I wasn’t too irritated by the obvious setting up of a love triangle/ forbidden love thing, mostly because of how she did it, which was… weird. And not in a good way, weird. Yeah, this is the thing I was going to get to, spoilers by the way, see the thing is, is that at the end of the book, there’s this big confrontation with Valentine and he tells Clary and Jace, after they have spent the entire book falling in love with each other, that they are brother and sister. That Clary’s older brother did not in fact die all those years ago, like Clary’s mother thought, right before her mother left Valentine forever, barely two months pregnant with Clary. That her brother had survived the fire and that they, Clary and Jace, are in fact, full blooded brother and sister. So, yeah. She went to a weird place. Now, I want it fully understood, that it is not in fact true. Sorry, spoilers. I mean, I knew that ahead of time, because I picked up the first book after browsing through a display of all the ones that have come out already, including the new one that talks about Jace and Clary’s brother Sebastian, so I knew it wasn’t true, that it was all a horrible lie from her horrible father, but still. Yech. Why would she go there? Seriously. Wha- why? I mean, I get the point. Beyond eventually introducing her real brother later on and it also proves what a dick her father is, because he could see they loved each other, he even commented on it, there’s the whole “doomed romance” thing, which is like half the point of the book I think. And this way you don’t have to question either one’s character or strength, or the strength of their love, but still. Couldn’t she have found a less… icky way? The whole thing is weird. But again, it’s all a horrible lie from her dick of a father. So, there’s that.

Anyway, bizarre storytelling choice aside, and how they’ll spin that in the movie I have no freaking clue, it was a really, really good book. I seriously did tear my way through the entire series in no time flat. It was even one of those that, if I had to walk away I spent the entire time thinking about it. One of those where you’re like “You don’t understand! There’s this book!” anytime someone wants to talk to you. It’s one of those. So, really, I can’t recommend it enough and I will totally be in line to see it opening day when the movie finally comes out.

P.S. I figured out how to embed videos! Finally! Yay!

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“Grimm”

Grimm-Season-2-350x262

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this show on NBC called “Grimm.” It’s pretty cool and, up until this season, I would have called it one of my favorite shows. It’s about.. how do I describe this. Okay, well imagine that all the old fairy tales are real. That the Big Bad Wolf and so on are actually real, it’s just the story got mixed up a little over the years. It’s like that, except the creatures can like shift, sort of. It’s hard to explain. I tracked down this video that sort of, kind of, halfway explains what’s been going on with this show. It’s not the one that I was looking for, but it’ll have to do.
http://www.nbc.com/grimm/video/nick-and-monroe-a-true-bromance/n31290/

Okay, so anyway, on to my rant and my main point now that you have some vague idea of the world I’m talking about. So, Nick, that’s the Grimm’s name btw, in case that wasn’t covered, has this girlfriend, Juliette. Juliette sucks. Like, I have been watching this show for it’s entire season and a half run, from the beginning, and I have yet to see one real redeeming value to this chick. She’s just… blah. Bland. Boring. A little grating for all her boring- ness. She’s useless! Everyone else in the show is running around, getting in fights, helping to save the day and she does nothing!
Now listen, I tried really, really hard to like her the first season. I figured, hey maybe the writers are just having an especially hard time getting into her head or something. Maybe, when she finds out about Nick being a Grimm then all of a sudden she’ll explode with usefullness. I mean, she is a vet, I figured if nothing else she can provide medical care for the wessen (the creatures) that get hurt or sick from time to time. But nope. Not only did she not believe Nick when he told her, which to be fair I don’t blame her for, it certainly sounds like schizophrenia when you just describe it, but she got herself put under a spell and now is being kind of a bitch. She can’t remember Nick, she’s being SUPER annoying about the whole thing and she’s basically cheating on him. Not so much anymore, since they sort of broke up, but still. She’s been making googly eyes at someone else for like all season and I cannot tell you how super annoying this plotline has been. It has moved at the pace of freaking continental drift, and it seems to be demanding a certain empathy and patience with the character that I simply lack and no one else I’ve talked to who watches the show seems to have either. I don’t care if she’s conflicted! I don’t care if she blah blah blah whatever! Fill in blank. The character has been annoying and useless the entire run of the show. I have only put up with her because she is Nick’s girlfriend, his lady love. She hasn’t been funny, or entertaining, or helpful in solving cases, or saving lives, or illuminating about the wessen world that Nick is trying to figure out or anything. She has simply been Nick’s girlfriend. I was really hoping for a Catwoman situation with her, instead I got Lois Lane. And I was resigned to put up with the freaking Lois Lane, except now she’s not even doing that! She has one job to do in the entire freaking show. Her character has one use, one purpose, and that is it. And she’s not even doing that! I sincerely hope that she gets killed off and we get a better heroine. I truly and sincerely do. Because this is some bullshit. Nick is a kickass Grimm, the other characters are awesome and funny, Monroe is one of my favorite characters on tv, Rosalee is awesome, Hank is very cool, the wessen they show are cool and well done, the plotlines (with the exception of this one) are good. It’s just this one blind spot in this freaking show, that Juliette is so freaking annoying and useless and I don’t see how they can possibly fix that one. I don’t even want them to fix that one. Just scrap the whole thing and start over. Kill off the character and introduce and new love interest. A kickass one. Have a female Grimm blow into town and blow Nick’s mind. Have a really cool wessen chick come into the picture, which would be even better because then there would be all sorts of conflict! Just please, NBC if you’re reading this, I’m begging you- get rid of Juliette.
That said, everyone should totally watch this show it’s awesome. And will be even better once this freaking plotline is over. Which, I’m honestly afraid is one of those season- long plotlines. You know what, catch up next season. That would probably be best.

Dirty Food- Literally

I saw this on Yahoo and just had to repost it because.. because, well seriously? Dirt? Really? What the hell, people? I read that in a book once as a joke and you’re actually doing it? Seriously, it’s in “Hogfather” by Terry Pratchett, look it up. And here I thought it had been a fairly farfetched joke…

This Japanese Restaurant Has a Dirty Little Secret

By | Shine Food

Tokyo has a well-deserved reputation for high-end dining but one restaurant is making headlines for a menu that’s less hoity-toity and more down and dirty.

A French establishment named Ne Quittez Pas (“Please don’t leave”) is serving a ‘dirt course’, according to Japanese Rocket News, a website that sampled the menu. For $110 you can eat the stuff you scrub off your sneakers and pry from your kid’s mouth on the playground. Ne Quittez Pas’ menu includes a potato starch and dirt soup, salad with dirt dressing, aspic made with oriental clams and a top layer of sediment, a dirt risotto with sauteed sea bass, dirt gratin, and dirt ice cream. According to the Rocket News  investigation, despite appearing, well, dirty, none of the dishes  actually tasted like dirt and were described as “delicious” and  “divine.” They also reported that the dirt contains coffee grinds and  palm fiber.

“The dirt is called Kuro Tsuchi and it’s volcanic ashes mixed with soil and plants from the Kanto District in Japan,” Saeko Torii, a rep from the dirt manufacture Protoleaf told SHINE. “It has good bacteria, healthy minerals, and is natural and pure.”

So will we start seeing dirt on U.S. menus? And is it even safe? “Dirt isn’t regulated for human consumption so it’s hard to know the effects it would have on a person,” says Rebecca Scritchfield, a Washington, D.C. based registered dietitian. “Food gets its nutrients from soil, but one does not eat the actual soil. What’s more, countries have different safety regulations—people in Scotland eat sheep brains but that’s not allowed in the U.S. Protoleaf says their soil is safe to consume but is it safe to eat by American standards? We don’t know because we don’t really know what’s in it.”
For example, does the soil contain toxins, glass, or rocks? And is it even soil at all or just a snazzy marketing tool?
“My guess is that it’s a gimmick,” says Scritchfield. “You can consume good bacteria that promotes healthy digestion and immunity by eating foods like yogurt, tempeh, olives, pickles, or sauerkraut. Likewise, you can consume minerals by eating more fruits, vegetables, beans, and dairy.”

So, if you have an adventurous palate and a plane ticket to Tokyo, would you be insane to sample the dirt menu at Ne Quittez Pas? “If it’s real dirt, I’m not going to recommend it any time soon,” says Scritchfield.

PROTOLEAF: Salad with dirt dressing

PROTOLEAF: Dirt risotto with sauteed sea bass

PROTOLEAF: Dirt ice cream

PROTOLEAF: Dirt gratin

PROTOLEAF: Aspic made with oriental clams and a top layer of sediment

http://shine.yahoo.com/shine-food/this-japanese-restaurant-has-a-dirty-little-secret–164612162.html

Hello Again

I considered just starting posting again without posting this, but then I thought people might feel like I was using them, soo.. yeah, here we are. Anyway, I have no good explanation for why I stopped posting, other than the semester had started and I got really distracted and also I didn’t really feel I had anything worthwhile or terribly interesting to say. But I’ve found that I kind of miss shouting my opinion to whomever will listen, so I decided to make a triumphant return. Or not so triumphant, whatever.

“Blood Poison” by D.H. Dublin

I’m not sure what to make of this book. It started off strong, I liked it, it was going well and then it started to lose me. It faded in the last.. half? Quarter? Bit. It faded in the last bit. I’m not entirely sure when it started to fade, but fade it did by god.

Okay, so it’s a mystery, which is a bit unusual for me. Normally I don’t go for mysteries. I tend to get impatient and read the end and then lose interest once I know who did it. Self defeating, I realize, but it’s really just not my genre. That and I have a hard time finding an author I like or characters that I like within that genre. I don’t really know why. But anyway, this one was interesting and on sale for a dollar so I figured I didn’t have much to lose. I’m not sure if I did either.

It starts off with a murder of an anonymous woman as the prologue, which is then pushed quickly to the back burner for the much more interesting case of… the guy who died of apparent natural causes in his kitchen. I thought they were trying for a thing. I decided to go with it. While the crime scene people are waiting for the paramedics to show up to take the body away, the victim’s father shows up at the guys house- while the body is still there. Awkward. The main character, Madison Cross, then strikes up a sort of friendship with the guy. She’s trying to be nice, she hangs out with him while their waiting for the van to come for his dead son, they play cards, they talk etc. And then she gets, to my mind, like way too involved in this guy’s life. She calls his doctor to get a prescription for Valium, since he’s had quite a shock, she picks it up for him, she calls social services to get him a helper, she calls his doctor for his medical records when she’s told by social services that they would need them, she goes by his house at least once a day to see him. She bends over backwards for a complete stranger. I mean, maybe I’m just not that good of a person, god knows that’s a possibility, but this is a grown ass man. Let him try to sort things out for himself first before charging in and getting all up in his business. She even goes to the son’s funeral for him. All this after hanging out for a few hours with him on a bad day. It seems a bit much. I mean, apparently her mother was murdered when she was a girl and her father emotionally abandoned her after that, soon followed by actual abandonment, which, as I understand it, can lead to that kind of behavior, but it just seemed weird. Like, every time I turned around, she was talking about Horace, going to visit Horace, needing to ask Horace some questions, investigating the death of Horace’s son and the various and sundry other people who had died in his proximity throughout his life. And then the first murder, the one that is definitively murder, the one that the book opened with for god’s sake, seems like it’s forgotten or pushed to the side. Instead, she focuses virtually all her attention on Horace, his dead son, his dead wife, his dead doctor and his apparently criminal missing son. And never once, until the end, does she ever really consider Horace as a real suspect. Dude, just because the guy’s in a wheelchair doesn’t mean he can’t find a way to kill someone. Or several someones. Honestly, he was my only suspect all along. If a good mystery novel can be judged by how much it kept you guessing, then this one was not good. When it was revealed that Horace killed everyone, including the mystery woman at the beginning, a coincidence of epic proportions that has me rolling my eyes, I was not surprised. My reaction was more along the lines of “Well, duh.” I mean, the wheelchair explanation, Munchausen syndrome, was a bit of a surprise, but the rest of it, no. (Munchausen, for anyone who isn’t familiar with it, is a psychological disorder that causes someone to pretend that they’re sick or disabled to garner attention. There’s also Munchausen by Proxy, which is when someone, usually a parent, makes someone else actually sick to garner attention. Don’t tell me television doesn’t teach you anything.)

Anyway, like I said, I liked it at first, but by the end I was rolling my eyes at the constant references to Horace, her obsessive personality and how she seemed blind to the fact that the one common factor in three separate deaths is one person. Honestly, that person either has the worst luck in the world or they’re a killer, and as a person at least associated with the cops, if not a cop herself, she should always land on the killer side first, just to be safe. Makes you wonder how good she actually is at her job.

Sorry

Okay, so sorry I haven’t posted anything in like a week, but in my defense, it was a bad reading week. I started off trying to read “Daughter of Fortune” by Isabel Allende and, while I wouldn’t say that it was bad per se, it also wasn’t good. I mean, not for me. This woman has written like nine other books, so clearly she has fans, but it just didn’t do it for me. I got like seventy five pages into and still didn’t care about either the characters or what was happening to them, so I decided to forgo the pleasure. Then I tried to read “The Almost Moon” by Alice Sebold, who wrote “The Lovely Bones”, which, if you haven’t read it, is fantastic. I couldn’t put it down while reading it, which proved awkward when I had to go to work. So I had high expectations for “The Almost Moon”, which is, apparently, a “searing portrait of a mother- daughter bond that descends into murder.” And it was good, but honestly it was a bit much. It didn’t take much for me to go “And I’m good! What else you got?” That’s when I realized that there was another two hundred or so pages of the same and I decided that I was good. I got the point. The mother was emotionally and verbally abusive, those kinds of relationships can be complicated, the daughter snapped, etc. I got it. No need to read all 291 pages of that.

So anyway, yeah. That is the not so short explanation as to why I have been neglecting you all for like a week now. Apologies.

“Outlaw Empires” on Discovery Channel

So, I’ve started watching “Outlaw Empires” on the Discovery Channel, which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a show that talks about the criminal organizations that flourish under our noses. The Italian mob, the Nuestra Familia, the Hell’s Angels, etc. I have to admit, I find it very disturbing. You see these guys, always ex- members, for obvious reasons, and they, oh so calmly, describe acts of theft, assault and murder. They don’t blink, they don’t look guilty, nothing. I mean, they must feel guilty, they have all, as far as I’ve seen, turned state’s witness so there must be some guilt and they all express guilt, but I look in their eyes and I don’t see guilt. Nor do I see someone who I would peg as a murderer, someone I would peg as violent. I know violent eyes, I’ve spotted them in the past, so it’s disturbing to me that I can’t tell with these violent men. Men who are admitted murderers, who used people and situations in whatever way they needed to get what they want.

And they talk about it so calmly. That’s what gets me. They’re so incredibly calm, like me telling a story about what happened at work that day. Which, I suppose they are, but you know what I mean.

Everyone has secrets and everyone has things to hide, even if it’s only something like “I ate a whole pizza in my underwear last night”, and gang members have even more to hide so it shouldn’t be surprising that they do it so well, but if we can’t spot them, can’t spot the violence, then that’s a pretty serious potential problem.

I don’t know, maybe it’s because they’re all reformed, but it’s still very disturbing. The show is very interesting, but very disturbing.