Monday, June 22, 2015

Monday Confessions



I confess...UPS is literally the worst these days. I had to call three separate times and muddle through several automated menus just to get a bill paid for work...only to be told that they've changed their policies (without sending us any warning) and we have no choice but to comply immediately. On top of that, they're using the word 'replenish' and they clearly have no idea what that word means.

I confess...Later this week we'll finally start getting more SDCC info, and I'm both nervous and excited to [hopefully] start really filling in my schedule for it!

I confess...I feel like there need to be some changes in my future, I'm just not sure about the exact details - especially the "when". The 'what' and the 'why', thankfully, are a bit more certain, though that doesn't make them any less scary ;) Pin It

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tara's ASOIAF Re-Read: ACOK, Davos II - Daenerys IV

* PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL RE-READ POSTS WILL INCLUDE SPOILERS FOR ALL PUBLISHED WORKS IN THE SONG OF ICE & FIRE UNIVERSE. *

Oh gosh it's been a while since my last re-read update. Like, months and months. What can I say, I've been...busy? Sort of? Let's say that's my best excuse. Yeah.

I know a lot of people don't care for Davos, but I'm glad that when I picked this up again it was with one of his chapters. A good bit of it is made up of Stannis making frustrating decisions (hey, what's new), but in the end it all works out in his favor thanks to good ol' Mel and [what I presume was] Shadow Baby #2. Which was definitely shocking the first time I read this book - especially the part where Davos realizes that the shadow baby looks like Stannis - but now was actually kind of easy to shrug off. I think if I didn't shrug this and a lot of other things off, this entire series would be far more maddening than enjoyable.

Oh wait...


Aaaanyway. The men of the Night's Watch have been hanging out at the Fist of the First Men for a while and let's be honest, nothing much was happening there until Qhorin finally arrives in Jon V. And even then we only learn that Mance has gathered the wildlings in the Frostfangs because he's looking for some magic way to take down the Wall, and then Qhorin decides to go scouting and to take Jon with him. Probably the most interesting part of this chapter is the bit about the horn Jon gave Sam, because of course there are plenty of theories that it's actually the horn of Joramun (that magic thing that Mance is looking for, of course). I wonder if we'll ever ACTUALLY find that out, or if it's just a red herring...

As I write this particular entry, I realize more and more that most of the chapters in this section were more about moving pieces into place than about anything actually happening. Tyrion X is mostly about him visiting Shae and meeting the soon-to-be-very-unlucky singer Symon Silver Tongue...though at least we get a bit of Varys' back story, and that's interesting enough. Of course nowadays it's hard to decide if that's really as important as I once thought it was, because it's obviously very likely that Stannis is dead in the show...which makes me question whether he was ever going to cross Varys' path in the books :-/

But I digress. Catelyn VI reveals that Tywin has marched southeast and she notes that he's probably already reached the headwaters of the Blackwater...but not before she learns from Cleos that he saw Sansa at court, but not Arya. Obviously we readers knew for quite some time that Arya had escaped King's Landing, and Catelyn is still left wondering WHY Cleos didn't see her, but recalling that Catelyn knew about this makes the fact that she later releases Jaime (in hopes of getting her daughterS back) a bit harder to swallow.

And then of course Theon (oh, Theon...) takes Winterfell. Gosh, I forgot just how maddening ACOK can be!(And yet it's still my favorite book in the series, go figure.) Even knowing now what happens to Theon later, it's hard to stomach everything that he does. Or perhaps I'm not wording that right...but regardless, Mikken's death and Hodor being beaten are bad enough, and knowing that there are worse things on the horizon is a good reminder of why I just really can't stand Theon. And poor Bran...I'm not a big fan of his either, but he really does try in this chapter. It sucks that in some ways he fails (again, Mikken dies because he won't stop taunting Theon even when Bran tells him to), and it also sucks that he sees Osha "betray" him. (That's rough to read even when I know she's not really betraying him.)

Things are looking down for Bran but a bit up for Arya, whose Weasel Soup earns her the position of Roose Bolton's cupbearer. Of course, her refusal to tell any of the Northmen - not just Roose, but any of them - is a lot more telling on re-reads, I think. I mean, I get why she didn't give up her secret to creepy Roose, but before it always bothered me that she didn't tell anyone else, either. Now, though, I'm in the "good for her" boat. Plus of course she gets that coin, which I always assumed was important, though it takes long enough for her to have a chance to use it, no? ;)

And finally, Dany! This is the first re-read post in quite a while that has been entirely in order, but of course that's because there are no repeat POVs in these seven chapters...and honestly they were a pretty slow seven chapters, to boot. That said, ending this section with - of all things - Dany's trip to the House of the Undying definitely means it went out with a bang. Of course that also means that we get to read Dany's constantly wondering about the prophecies of three (three mounts to ride, three treasons she'll know) and not wondering enough about all the other things she sees (symbolic visions of Jon Snow, Victarion, Stannis, etc.)

I will say that the one thing that really interested me was the description of the house with the red door. For some reason I always pictured it as a small, cozy type of place, but this chapter says Dany "remembered those great wooden beams and the carved animal faces that adorned them". Probably doesn't matter at all but it's something I'd never picked up before, and to me means that this house she remembers as her only real "home" for so long was actually much more...ornate, I guess, than I would have thought.

Yeah, I know, I notice the strangest things. I think that's just what happens when you've read these books several times over.

Or maybe it's just me.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday Confessions



I confess...I just really hate Excel, you guys. It gives me headaches.

I confess...I've been without a/c for nearly two weeks, and I'm finally getting my heat pump replaced today. The cost isn't good but I've learned I'm too spoiled to live without a/c for any extended period of time.

I confess...meh, Game of Thrones. I'm mostly just glad the season is over. Pin It

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I have no problem admitting that I only ended up reading this book because I started watching the show. Did I fall in love with the show? Nah, not really. But it intrigued me enough that I wanted more, and I wanted it before there would be new episodes of the show, so there we are.

source

I guess the best thing I can say about this novel is that it has good (not great, but good) characterization and beautiful imagery. At times I couldn't put it down.

But then it went on. And on. And on. And on.

Seriously, this book is way too long. It could have been broken up into two, maybe three novels. How long it was, and how ridiculous some of the conflicts seemed at times, basically turned me away from my original plan to read more of the series...at least for now.

I don't find Outlander to be tremendously romantic, either, and if you're looking for a romance novel...well, this isn't it. As historical fiction goes, I found it decent, which is about as good as it can be considering it's history seen through the eyes of a time-traveling woman.

Now, speaking of historical fiction, while fairly accurate in its depiction of violence, I have to say that if you are squeamish in reading about beatings, torture, and/or rape, this novel is not for you. I was okay with it up until [nearly] the end of the book, at which point there is a description of a rape scene and its aftermath that is so graphic and heart-wrenching that I almost tossed my copy aside and didn't bother reading the last pages (of which there were, if I remember correctly, less than 100).

Do I understand why people love this book? Sure. But for my part I can only give it 2.5/5 stars. Maybe 3. I'm honestly still fighting myself over that. Pin It

Monday, June 1, 2015

Monday Confessions



I confess...I started watching Supernatural and have been tweeting about it quite a bit. I'm not yet sure I'll be able to get through ten seasons of it, but I'll at least finish season one :) You can follow my journey on Twitter with the hashtag #TaraFINALLYwatchesSupernatural ...

I confess...I had a bit of a shock this weekend, and it wasn't a good one, but thankfully my wonderful friend Bekah was with me when it happened. I don't know how I deserve such great people in my life, really.

I confess...I never did finish watching Attack on Titan so my new goal is to accomplish that before this weekend. ::fingers crossed:: Pin It

Saturday, May 30, 2015

These days, a recipe post is rare...


The family farm, Pelzer Springs Ranch, is booming these days - they even have a Facebook page! And last weekend they harvested some cabbage, which basically forced me to cook. I found a recipe online and tweaked it quite a bit, so I'm christening this one...

The Pelzer Cabbage Pot

(What? I think it sounds funny ;) )




INGREDIENTS:
2 (14-ish-ounce) packages kielbasa sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 small to medium red onions, thinly sliced
2 small to medium green bell peppers, cut into strips
2 small to medium heads cabbage, roughly chopped
2 cups white wine (preferably on the drier side; I used Pinot Grigio)
1 teaspoon Carraway seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper


DIRECTIONS: 
~ Add a very thin layer of olive oil to a large heavy skillet and saute sausage over medium heat until browned; drain on paper towels. (You may have to do this in two batches depending on the size of your skillet; you want the kielbasa to be as evenly browned as possible.


~ Add onion and bell pepper to skillet and saute 5-ish minutes, until soft. Put a thin layer of olive oil in the bottom of a large pot and transfer the onions and pepper to it.


~ Add the cabbage and cook, stirring often, 10 minutes.


~ Add sausage, wine, and remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook 15 minutes, stirring several times throughout. Serve immediately...with a crusty dark bread such as Pumpernickel, if possible!

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Friday, May 29, 2015

This blog is one giant OOPS lately...

I feel like I say this far too often these days, but I really do feel bad about how much I've let this blog fall by the wayside. I'm hoping to eventually get back into my ASOIAF re-read, and/or post about the things I do in my free time...

Oh wait. I don't really do things in my free time. Outside of binge-watching shows while cuddling with my pets. I'd say that I need to rectify that, but I don't really believe that's the case. My life may not be the most exciting life these days, but you know, I kinda like it ;)

One thing I've come to grips with is my lack of interest in cosplay. It's still there, but it's nothing like it used to be. I had fun with my Ice & Fire Con "costumes" and only one of them was a new, full-on cosplay (in my own opinion)...

Clockwise from top left: Val the Wildling Princess, Val & Dalla ("Sisters?" "We're close!"), Val & Mance, Val & Jon Snow
 
Anyway, although I've slacked hardcore on my ASOIAF re-read, I've been posting plenty about Game of Thrones...just over at The Geekiary rather than here ;)  I preempted season 5 with some thoughts about what might happen going forward in my Game of Thrones Season 5 vs. A Song of Ice & Fire: Round One article...but I was in no way prepared for some of the decisions they've made. Decisions that have led to several discussions over at The Geekiary - first a roundtable, Game of Thrones Season 5 Changes and Developments: Cringe- or Praise-Worthy?, followed by Round Two of my Game of Thrones Season 5 vs. A Song of Ice & Fire series, which was of course posted after the show hit its halfway point.

And then A Thing Happened to Sansa. And there's no reason for me to get into it here, really, because I've gone on and on about it elsewhere - both in my review of The Episode In Which The Thing Happened and my review of the episode after that, and then yet again with Angel in our combo article "Seven Faces of Sansa Rape Apologists". And it all culminated in last night's episode of FEELINGS...with The Geekiary, where Erin, Von, and myself ranted not just about Sansa but about how May was a bad month in general for feminists...


...however, I also talked about how awesome Ice & Fire Con was in said webcast, so it's not a total wash of negativity ;)

That's about it for now, but hey, I'll say the thing I always say...that being, I hope to soon be back to posting in this blog on at least a somewhat regular basis (Monday Confessions don't count, and I've missed the past two Mondays anyway, haha). Keep your fingers crossed for me, mmkay? :) Pin It