Archive for June, 2011

Walking on Glass by Iain Banks

Walking on GlassWalking on Glass by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m kind of in the middle of a Banks binge, trying to get a few of his non M books read (Iain Banks = fiction, Iain M. Banks = SciFi).

This is the first non M book that I think could have been an “M”. Walking on Glass has three stories that come together towards the end. The first story is about a man walking to the house of the woman he loves to tell her how he feels. Along the way he recalls moments he spent with her and how he felt at the time, he is walking on air. The second story is about a man that just quit his job before they could fire him. He knows they are out to get him. His tormentors are relentless. He has to avoid their microwave guns and the lasers in the axles of cars. He knows that if he tells what he knows they will lock him up (in a hospital) to keep him quiet. The third story is about a couple who have been locked in a castle until they either kill themselves, or until they can answer a riddle. To give an answer to the riddle they have to figure out the rules to a game and play it to it’s conclusion, games like Chinese Scrabble or spotless dominoes. The riddle they need to answer is: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

Iain Banks does a wonderful job of putting the reader inside the head of the characters, so you don’t just feel for them you feel with them. Walking on Glass is on the dark side and contains adult situations and some suffering.

As I was reading I knew what it was like to be each of the characters. To be in love, to understand what it would be like to believe there are tormentors out to get you, or to be frustrated with trying to learn a game just so you can try to solve an impossible riddle.

Towards the end of the book there were times that the suffering was so intense that I felt physical pain and could not stop reading for fear that the pain would stay with me. The stories come together and the ending was perfection that left me completely satisfied and happy that I read this book.

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Quinoa with Black Beans and Cilantro

I found this recipe on epicurious.com and the first time I made it I followed the directions as written. (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Quinoa-with-Black-Beans-and-Cilantro-243392)

As usual over time it has morphed into a more personal recipe. I thought I would share it. My directions won’t be as exact as most recipes but hey it’s just cooking.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 chicken breast (boneless, skinless, chopped into bite size pieces) Optional

2 cups chopped onions (I use yellow)

1 cup chopped red bell pepper ( I don’t measure I usually just use half of a red pepper and half of a green pepper)

1 cup quinoa, *rinsed and drained (I buy it in bulk)

2 (more if you add chicken) teaspoons of chili powder (I add extra to season the chicken then add the 2 teaspoons when called for)

½ teaspoon (more like ¾ if you add the chicken)

crushed red pepper flakes (I add about ½ teaspoon, it just needs a little heat)

½ teaspoon salt

1 can of chicken broth (14.5 oz)

1 can of black beans (15 oz)

½ cup of chopped fresh cilantro, divided

Preparation:

Heat oil in large skillet. Add seasoned chopped chicken breast. Sauté until chicken has some color, remove. Add onion and pepper and sauté until they begin to soften. Add chicken back to pan then add the spices and quinoa. Add chicken broth, heat to boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add beans and ½ the cilantro. Cook uncovered until the liquid is absorbed and the beans are heated. Throw it on a plate and garnish with some of the cilantro that you have left. Enjoy.

*Rinsing quinoa. Quinoa is fine so you will need a wire mesh or sift type strainer. Soak quinoa in water for 1 minute then rinse (repeat 5 times).

Quinoa is considered a super food for it’s nutritional value. Quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source.

Grundish and Askew by Lance Carbuncle

Grundish and AskewGrundish and Askew by Lance Carbuncle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Before I decided to read this book I looked it up on http://goodreads.com It said to strap on a jock strap grab a barf bag and be prepared to get kicked in the nuts (paraphrasing).

This book does contain strong language, sexual situations and vivid descriptions of things most people would be happy not to have described.

Once I sat down and started to read Grundish and Askew it was hard to put down. The story is full of great characters and the plot was interesting and intriguing enough that I just didn’t want to stop reading. The author, Lance Carbuncle, did a few things that I normally can’t stand. One example is having a character know he is a “fictional character in a lame novel” (his words not mine) and another example is the mixing of reality and the dream world. Even with that said, Lance Carbuncle’s story telling made this a story that was funny, moving, a bit disgusting and worth reading as along as you have a better than average tolerance for offensive material.

There are only a select few that I will recommend this book to but I’m sure that those I do recommend it to will enjoy it immensely.

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