Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ain't no dragin' in Uprooted, by Naomi Novik

New York: Del Rey, 2015
ASIN: B00KUQIU7O (read on Kindle)

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon.
I’ll cop to why I read this: I skimmed the summary, read the words “dragon” “girls he takes" and “human sacrifice” and was all, Ooooh. But it also sounded like Dealing with Dragons -- naturally I was in!  I was hoping for a cozy magical book of cozy magic and some adventure.  This is also why I’ve taken the lazy route and used the publisher review instead of writing my own.  I’m not 100% a bad reader...but maybe 80%, because I clearly stopped reading in depth after the first part sentence and missed the second part of the description, in which it clearly states that the dragon is not actually a real dragon:

Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.” 
Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose. (Publisher text)
WHATEVER. But omg you guys -- forgive Naomi Novik her lack of dragon.   Also me, for not being able to read, because it clearly states several times that there are no real dragons to be had.  I’m realizing I may not be what your English teach referred to as a reliable narrator (reader), but give me a second chance, mmmkay?  You’d hate to miss out on this one.

This book is so not even just that jacket flap...that’s just like the first three chapters of many chapters, and then it is all that and a bag of freshly baked hot biscuits.  I know, because I actually paid attention (after realizing I wasn’t, obvi).  It goes well beyond what is advertised and proved quite the fairy-tale adventure!  This book is so. so. awesome. I was not anticipating it, and it took me completely by surprise.   It’s not at all the book you think you’re going to read when you start off, but it is the fantasy novel I’ve been wanting to read for a while but hadn’t found until halfway through the book.  Another way to say that is that I was sad because it ended, and that’s a sign of a good book to me.  Another another way to say it is that it is magical, and I was enchanted (womp womp).  By now, you should know me well enough by now to not expect better than bad puns of me when I’m really delighted by something...

There’s a heck of a lot of character growth, a lot of empowerment, a lot of magic, but of a practical sort (nature! cleaning! also fashion!), zero actual dragons (stop rubbing it in those of you who can read good), some steamy scenes, action, adventure, romance, nature, empowerment, etc.  Basically, it’s like Graceling meets Fantasia meets a Grimm fairy tale in rural peasant-y Russia or somewhere Eastern European with just a slight touch of Dealing with Dragons.  It may make you want to try borscht (note: I still haven’t ever tried borscht).  Is this one for kids, as I initially thought it might be, given that I thought it would be like Dealing with Dragons? Probably not anyone younger than 15 or 16  if you’re not cool with them reading a sexy sex scene.  I’d say it’s probably mostly cool for mature teens, who will probably love this, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.  But if that worries you, you’ve been warned!  The rest of you pervs can read up (kidding - you real pervs are reading Outlander.  And loving it!).  

Friday, September 25, 2015

Case of the Terribles: Do You Want to Play with my Balls edition

Some of us are never mature enough to discuss the word balls without giggling, because we're secretly 12 year old boys.  This one is for us, team - all us otherwise functional adults who snicker at immature things.  But if you're say, more into proving yourself better than/more right/a fair judge of everything everyone else does/a paragon of righteous morality, this is also for you, and just in time for Banned Books Week!  Bossy Internet Morality Police (BIMPs), mount up!

Behold a new book "for children":

Naturally, BIMPs are having a rightous pout about this, while the rest of us super (im)mature types perhaps weren't naive enough to think this was actually for real a book for children.  I mean, please read the back of the jacket.

If you BIMPs are still upset, I suggest you read a peaceful children's book and take a nap until you can talk in an inside voice and stop embarrassing yourself and your childhood librarian on those comment streams.  

Well played, brothers Cifaldi!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Warm Dijon and Balsamic Lentil Salad with Soft Eggs

It is the first day of fall.  Rejoice! Even though fall is probably my favoritest season, I'm usually a bit more put out by the end of summer, but I had an admittedly odd one and am very much looking forward to this fall and seasonal changes and getting back to running around outside to enjoy the crisp air!  Also, Thanksgiving.  But I'm getting ahead of myself with that.  September is a great time of year because there is still so much wonderful, fresh, delicious summery produce, but there is a little chill to the air that makes me want to eat warming foods again.  

I have a great recipe for a lentil farro salad I have yet to post, but that's a really summery meal, what with cukes and cherry tomatoes and basil and like...served chilled and all.  It's not what I want on a night when you can feel the changing seasons and suddenly find yourself thinking about warm cider donuts, crisp apples, knee high brown boots, and drapey sweaters instead of cranking up the AC for the first time in months. I had all the ingredients for my cold lentil farro dish, but just wasn't in the mood, and decided to switch it up and go for a warm one, with a little balsamic and a nice soft egg.  It uses a lot of fresh tomatoes, zucchini, some dijon, and a lot of patience not to sample it all before you serve it.  I think it's a good way to ease yourself from one season to the next!

Warm Dijon and Balsamic Lentil Salad with Soft Eggs
Serves 4-6
Warm Dijon and Balsamic Lentil Salad

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Case of the Terribles: choose your own pants adventure

JCrew has been on fire with the fug, or so their sales seem to indicate.  This both delights me (because you know how I love a case of the terribles), and terrifies me, because ugh, get it together, your clothes are in sizes and shapes that fit me wellllll you guysssssss.

However, let's delight in a case of terribles.  Say you hypothetically have a cool $500 to burn, and also terrible taste. Probably you have a small white dog with a taste for human flesh.  Maybe you're an oil baron's lesser valued third wife. Say you want to stand out because that first wife has been a total bitch about shared jet time recently and also totally stole your appointment at the spa.   Choose your own adventure:


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Crown jewel of summer 2015: The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

The Royal We

As we say in Boston, it is wicked hot this week, and there are roughly five minutes of summer left, so it seems timely to sneak in the ultimate summer reading book in right under the wire, right?  Ladies and...okay, mostly ladies, please meet The Royal We.  That I loved this book should come as no surprise to those of you who either know me or who have been paying attention.  I’m deeply committed to the guilty pleasure found in bad movies, so when The Prince and Me came out some 13 years ago, I’d say I was predisposed to love it - and that was before I became a librarian. There’s a stacks smooch scene, duh. (See also: lawn mower racing, 796.1)  

Chances are if you identified as female or were really into fashion, weddings, royalty, Britannia, and so on in 2011, you probably got up hella early (in my time zone or west o’me) and had tea and scones as you watched the entire royal wedding, all before heading into work where it was discussed and dissected in great detail, allllll day, amongst any and all women, young, older, younger, and older. It led to many a rolled eye amongst the male population at my American high school (but they totally loved the pictures of Pippa’s bum, just admit it, dudes).  If you were in the UK, you were probably three champagne toasts in by the time I was vigorously debating lace detailing and flower girls with no less than three fifteen year old girls in braces, two secretaries and science teachers, an English teacher, and a custodian.  It was a great unifier, so I hope you’re taking note, North and South Korea.

Remember how fun that was, you guys?  We attended a wedding that we really didn’t, of a couple we all totally know but don’t, and then we broke it all down like sportscasters.  SO FUN.  Wills, Kate, Harry, Pippa, Pippa’s bum...I mean.  Come on.  The gossip game, like Kate’s hair, was on point, and the fairy tale aspect off the chain (trees in the cathedral! trees in the cathedral!).  It was glorious.  

And then we went on with our lives, unless say, your life involves a weekly post on royals ‘round the world on your terrific, funny, and highly readable blog, Go Fug Yourself.  If you’re those ladies, you got busy writing about all the things we mere bush league players speculated about from the day the princes suddenly emerged from the palace ovens as total biscuits (scones?) and locked down their places in the glossy pages of teen magazines (you guys remember those glossy hand-held things we had when the Internet was potty training, right?).  

Behold, the best book to happen to your travel bag, at least in 2015:

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