Friday, April 23, 2010
Stan and I had the family over for Friday night and dinner. Mom brought the food and she made spaghetti and I put together the salad. One of Mom's dear friends came all the way from Charlotte, NC to be with us. Jo spent the night at Mom's and then went to a family horse show in Clemson on Saturday. But we got to enjoy having her with us on Friday night. Jenny and Brett were there, Melinda, Mike, Lee, Elaine, Ronnie, Mom, Dad, Stan and I, and James.
Big Machine by Victor LaValle
This was an interesting book. I think he might have been going for a little Dean Koontz. Black,survivor of a murderous cult, recovering heroin addict, Ricky Rice gets a message to come to a small town in Vermont along with a bus ticket. He falls into a secret society of ex-addicts and petty criminals, all black like him, living in remote Vermont and sifting through stacks of articles in a library devoted to investigating the supernatural; the existence of a god; and the legacy of Judah Washburn, an escaped slave who claimed to have had contact with a higher being. After nearly a year of training by going through the stacks of newspaper looking for the supernatural, he is asked to go with Adele and find Solomon Clay. It seems Solomon Clay has become a betrayer of the cult and has gone to the dark side. Sure enough, Clay has lost his mind and is sending his "disciples" with bombs in their back packs to do suicide bombings. How does Ricky and Adele stop Clay?
"The book is very richly detailed and well crafted. But throughout the book, I kept asking myself "What's he GETTING AT here? This character exposition is interesting, the writing is fun, the dialog is terrific... But what do ALL these various and interesting details MEAN in the larger scheme of things?" For example, what are we to take away from Adele's pre-Washburn torment? How does all the rich description of the washerwomen cult contribute to the overall theme of this book? Are we supposed to draw some sort of parallel between the lights in the hallway of the By The Bay hotel being smashed, and the lights in the stairwell during Ricky's last night with the washerwomen?" -Peter from Mt Vernon, NH on Amazon.com
I couldn't have said it better, Peter. I, too, was left wondering about some of the details and kept thinking I was missing something. I loved the writing and I read every bit of it but it left me with a dissatisfied feeling. It was hard to pin down what he was focusing on.
I do and don't recommend it.
The Color of Death by Elizabeth Lowell
Kate Chandler is a colored stone cutter in the gem world. Her half brother, Lee Mandel, is a courier for transporting precious gems to their destinations. Lee surprises a thief and is killed. After he's gone missing, his half sister, Kate, goes to the police, the FBI, and no one will listen to her. They say he's taken off with the package of gems containing the Seven Sins blue sapphires that Kate had cut. But she knows that Lee wouldn't leave her without contact. Soon she gets a death threat.
When one of the Seven Sins stones shows up at a gem show with the low life Purcell couple, she manages to disguise herself and switch stones. She studies it and realizes that this is one of the missing stones so she goes back to switch the stones back before she goes to the FBI. Meanwhile, Special Agent Sam Groves, is watching the show and sees her switch the stones.
Together they put their talents to work to catch the thief that is killing couriers, stealing gems, breaking stones down from hot stones to cold anonymous stones, and doing it all with brutality and cold precision. Is someone from the inside passing on information? How else do they target the specific couriers and shipments.
Sounds like a winner doesn't it? I thought so until I read it. In a normal world, they would have suspected Kate all along but they never did. The language is so constantly atrocious and vulgar that I will be throwing this book in the trashcan. Surprisingly, the views of women are sexist and degrading, yet this author is a woman. It makes me wonder what kind of men she's known in her life. The male characters see women as sexual objects and nothing more. They dismiss them, call them names and make sexual references degrading them. My father, husband, brothers-in-law, etc. don't act and talk that way. I'm sure there are men out there that do, and shame on them. But for a woman to promote it in her book (and I do mean ALL the male characters in her book did) is strange. The sex scenes were explicit and I skipped those. The violence was graphic. So I don't recommend this book to anyone. Do yourself a favor and skip it.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Gazpacho is a raw vegetable soup served cold. I like mine pureed but others just finely chopped vegetables. There are many variations and you can do a Google search to find them. This is my variation.
5 medium fresh tomatoes, washed and quartered
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 lg clove garlic, peeled
1 green bell pepper, washed, stem removed, membrane and seeds removed, chopped
2 ribs celery, washed and chopped
1 yellow crookneck summer squash, washed and chopped
Handful of fresh baby spinach, washed and chopped
1 carrot, washed, peeled and chopped
I grab a small handful of my fresh herbs (all total, maybe 1 couple of Tbsps of them altogether): parsley, rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, and cilantro; wash and chop
1/3 cup of red wine vinegar
2-3 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
Tobasco Sauce to taste
Salt & Pepper to taste
I use my Vitamix mixer to puree all these vegetables and herbs together. You learn to add enough water to make the soup a soup texture and not a glop. Start with maybe a pint of water and see if that gives you the consistency you want. Keep in the refrigerator and serve cold. You can garnish each bowl with a sprig of fresh cilantro and a tsp of sour cream or crutons.
Note: If you don't have Worcestershire Sauce, use some beef broth and hold back a little water.
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