I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
3 large eggs
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups quinoa flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp poppy seeds
2 Tbsp grated lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, poppy seeds, and lemon zest. Mix well. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and whisk until smooth. Pour into the prepared pan and bake 40-45 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in the loaf comes out clean). Cool completely in the pan.
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
Combine in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Remove cooled loaf from the pan. Holding carefully, poke holes with a toothpick all over the sides and bottom of the loaf. Brush with half of the lemon glaze. Set loaf on serving plate. Poke holes in top of the loaf and brush with remaining glaze.
Store in sealed container in fridge for up to 1 week.
Only days have passed since a freak accident granted four college students superhuman powers. Now Jools and her friends (who haven't even picked out a name for their superhero team yet) get caught up in the hunt for a Mad Genius's misplaced super-weapon.
But when Jools falls in with a modern-day Robin Hood and his band of super-powered Merry Men, she finds it hard to sort out the Good Guys from the Bad Guys--and to figure out which side she truly belongs on.
Especially since nobody knows exactly what the Gun does . . . .
A fond homage to the comic book superhero. The books feature four young women who have accidentally acquired super-powers. The first book featured Kim/K/Zircon and this second book is all Jools/Ninety Nine. I loved Jools in the first book, so this one was a treat.
Jools is the jock who had been drinking too much and flunking out of university up to this point. Now she has some kind of mental link to the internet and mad inventor skilz. Previously, her main aims in life are to play hockey and absorb booze. Now, Jools must find out what her life as a Spark is going to look like. I really like her snarky humour and her outlook on both her old and new lives.
”My family lives in Edmonton and I went to see them for Christmas. Ten days of R&R with my father and four snoopy sisters. Fortunately, their questions were all “Do you have an actual boyfriend yet?” rather than “Have you accidentally acquired superpowers?”
“‘Invie’ is short for ‘The Inventor’; what he invents are gadgets above and beyond physics. They’re what we call ‘Cape Tech’ because ‘Mad Genius crap that defies the laws of God’ sounds judgy.
“I’m fine now,” I say. “I could model for Elle. Or at least Horse and Rider.”
A handful of super-smart inventor types have managed to stay sane, but dozens of others spend their time prancing about in jackboots and building armines of giant zombie dinosaurs. Whenever I tell myself I’m strong enough to resist that temptation, a voice in my head says, “You can’t resist Cheezies. You think you’re gonna resist going evil?”
Maybe I’ll make a fanny pack with useful odds and ends. Or a utility belt! I could build a utility belt! Cuz nothing says “super” like someone whose belt weights ninety-five pounds and sags down to show her butt crack.
I could just go on quoting--there are too many scenes where Jools has something amusing to say.
I am assuming that the remaining two room-mates will get their own books soon. At least I hope so. I am very much looking forward to hearing this author speak at When Words Collide next month!
Psychic Nan Killian and Medium Sarah Lyon-White—along with their clever birds, the raven Neville and the parrot Grey—have been agents of Lord Alderscroft, the Elemental Fire Master known as the Wizard of London, since leaving school. Now, Lord Alderscroft assigns them another commission: to work with the famous man living at 221 Baker Street—but not the one in flat B. They are to assist the man living in flat C. Dr. John Watson and his wife Mary, themselves Elemental Masters of Water and Air, take the occult cases John’s more famous friend disdains, and they will need every skill the girls and their birds can muster!
Nan and Sarah’s first task: to confront and eliminate the mysterious and deadly entity that nearly killed them as children: the infamous Haunt of Number 10 Berkeley Square. But the next task divides the girls for the first time since they were children. A German opera star begs Sarah for help, seeking a Medium’s aid against not just a single spirit, but a multitude. As Sarah becomes more deeply entwined with the Prima Donna, Nan continues to assist John and Mary Watson alone, only to discover that Sarah’s case is far more sinister than it seems. It threatens to destroy not only a lifelong friendship, but much, much more.
***2019 The Summer of Sherlock***
This is one of the weirder tributes to Sherlock Holmes that I have read. I really enjoyed Lackey’s The Last Herald Mage series and was hoping that I could jump into this Elemental Masters series at book number 11 without any problems. It is easy enough to get the hang of this world, but I couldn’t help but think that Mr. Holmes and John & Mary Watson could have been swapped out for other characters without hurting the narrative one bit. I am not sure why the author used them, but she must be a fan.
This is mostly a paranormal adventure story, not something that one would expect to find Sherlock Holmes at all interested in. (In fairness, he isn’t interested at first and only gets drawn in close to the end). It’s not a particularly complex story and is mostly about the ghost-contacting and psychical skills of the two main characters, Sarah and Nan. They each have what I would call a familiar, an African Grey Parrot and a Raven. The birds were an interesting touch, and made more sense than the horse-shaped Companions of The Last Herald Mage series.
I already have the next book, A Scandal in Battersea, signed out of the library, so I will probably read it, but I wouldn’t have been ready to search for it if it wasn’t readily available. Not the greatest Holmes pastiche, but unlikely to the worst either. Sherlock Holmes aficionados should stay well away, this is for paranormal fantasy readers!
Speaking in Cod Tongues explores the centers of Canadian cuisine, from ocean to prairie, and from the height of urban dining to picnics in the wilderness. From bakeapples to fiddleheads, from maple syrup to k'aaw, Speaking in Cod Tongues celebrates a young and vibrant cuisine.
When I was a child, I had a pen-pal in Korea. He asked me what should have been an easy question: what is the national dish of Canada? My mother and I talked it over, but really couldn’t come to any conclusion--Canada is so regionalized that you really can’t use any one recipe to represent all of us.
What we do have (to some extent) are Canadian ingredients: maple syrup, wild berries of several types, maybe salmon. We claim two sweet desserts: the butter tart and Nanaimo bars. We have some of our very own junk food: Cheezies, Smarties, ketchup chips, among others.
This author points out that Canadian cuisine features many wild foods: berries, fiddleheads, mushrooms, wild rice, bison, fish, dulse. My maternal grandmother came from New Brunswick, and through her I was introduced to fiddleheads (young, curled fern shoots) and dulse (dried seaweed). I can’t say that I enjoy either of those foods. Through my paternal grandmother, I was introduced to Danish delicacies--I especially remember the heavy, dark rye bread that she produced in her kitchen.
Growing up on a farm, I remember the seasonality of our food, back in the day. I’m still a scrounger for the first rhubarb of the season and I was thrilled when my sister gave me some fresh spinach and a head of lettuce out of her garden on the weekend. Vegetables were limited by the end of winter and we were always excited for the new garden produce. It turns out that Canadian cuisine was local and seasonal before that was cool. We have made Farmers Markets a very popular item throughout the country.
Another popular Canadian pastime is taking the food outdoors. Summer is short and we believe in going on picnics, hosting outdoor barbeques, and eating in the backyard or the camp-site as often as possible. I live in Calgary, the epicentre of pancake breakfasts. People set up the outdoor pancake griddle for virtually any occasion.
I had never realized before that J.L. Kraft was from Ontario, but left to the United States to “perfect” his cheese-preserving technology. And Canadians have certainly embrace what we call Kraft Dinner or KD. You know that neon orange cheese and macaroni? “Canadians buy 1.7 million of the 7 million boxes sold globally each week” according to Wikipedia. Not sure we should be proud of that….
The other national obsession seems to be the Tim Horton’s chain, where Canadians gather to swill coffee, and eat doughnuts and Timbits (supposedly the doughnut holes, but actually made with a completely different dough formulation). The double-double is a Canadian thing (a coffee with two creams and two sugars). While we can’t claim to have invented the doughnut, we have certainly embraced it.
The cooking of our immigrants has also become a permanent part of the Canadian scene. See Ann Hui’s book Chop Suey Nation: The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada’s Chinese Restaurants for the saga of the Chinese cafe and restaurant in Canada. The talent of the Chinese immigrants was to take fresh local ingredients and use their own cooking techniques to create food for their communities. Speaking as a Calgarian, I love our local “Chinese” dish, ginger beef. Other regions have their own beloved creations.
I have to also say that I was delighted to find reference in this book to my favourite history professor at University of Calgary, Henry Klassen. Dr. Klassen was a methodical lecturer and a meticulous researcher. I loved the courses that I took from him and he was always ready with a smile when I met him on campus, even many years later. I was saddened when I learned of his death in 2005. This reference to his work means that he lives on and for that I am glad.
All in all, I could have used this book back when I had that Korean pen-pal, but I am glad to have read it now.
In this, the final collection of Sherlock Holmes adventures, the intrepid detective and his faithful companion Dr Watson examine and solve twelve cases that puzzle clients, baffle the police and provide readers with the thrill of the chase.
These mysteries - involving an illustrious client and a Sussex vampire; the problems of Thor Bridge and of the Lions Mane; a creeping man and the three-gabled house - all test the bravery of Dr Watson and the brilliant mind of Mr Sherlock Homes, the greatest detective we have ever known.
***The Summer of Sherlock 2019***
The last collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories about the great detective. They’re not bad, but they certainly are not his best efforts either. By this time, he had already tried to kill Mr. Holmes and had to revive him. These last few stories, it seems, were written as money making ventures. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, authors should make money from their creations. I guess what I’m saying is that Doyle’s heart really didn’t seem to be in these stories.
There also seems to be an awful lot of violence and unhappiness. In The Adventure of the Illustrious Client there is an evil criminal who is “ruining” women just for the pure misogynistic joy of it. Plus, there is vitriol throwing, disfiguring those that it doesn’t kill. The Adventure of the Three Gables has racism on display in an ugly fashion. Two of the stories feature dysfunctional families and marriages that are obviously in trouble (The Adventure of the Sussex Vampireand The Problem of Thor Bridge). In the first, there is potential for the spouses to reconcile, but in the second, the unfaithful husband seems to be almost rewarded and definitely goes unpunished. There is also disfigurement in The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger.”
Two of the stories have medical solutions: The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier, which at least ends semi-happily and The Adventure of the Creeping Man, a tale of medical quackery.
Disappointing or not, they are part of the Holmes canon and I am glad to have read them.
Monsters are real.
But so are heroes.
Sparks are champions of weird science. Boasting capes and costumes and amazing super-powers that only make sense if you don't think about them too hard, they fight an eternal battle for truth and justice . . . mostly.
Darklings are creatures of myth and magic: ghosts, vampires, were-beasts, and the like. Their very presence warps reality. Doors creak at their approach. Cobwebs gather where they linger.
Kim Lam is an ordinary college student until a freak scientific accident (what else?) transforms Kim and three housemates into Sparks--and drafts them into the never-ending war between the Light and Dark. They struggle to master their new abilities--and (of course) to design cool costumes and come up with great hero-names.
Turns out that "accident" was just the first salvo in a Mad Genius's latest diabolical scheme. Now it's up to four newbie heroes to save the day, before they even have a chance to figure out what their team's name should be!
This was a truly fun book and I am so glad that I will get a chance to hear the author speak next month! I confess that I had never heard of him until he became a keynote speaker for the When Words Collide conference here in Calgary. I am so glad to have discovered him and his Dark/Spark series.
I am a great fan of fantasy, but when I originally read the blurb for this book, I had my doubts whether it was really for me. Once again, I am shown that I shouldn’t judge a book by [what is written on] the cover. I was only a paragraph or two into the novel when I realized that it was going to be a bunch of fun.
I especially appreciated the dialog--both between Kim/Zircon and her compatriots and her inner monologue. Then, there were things like vampires buying blood from human donors--not wanting to call it “blood money,” it becomes known as “trickle down.” Take that Ronald Reagan! So many things made me grin like a looney!
That’s the biggest reason, I think, that I enjoyed this book so thoroughly--I often struggle with written humour, but in this book I just GOT it. Maybe because the author is also Canadian, but I was amused by so many details. Because of course one Canadian hero is going to be a super hockey player and name herself after Wayne Gretzky. Ninety Nine became my favourite character and I am excited to see that she will have a starring role in the next book. And, yes, I have already requested it from the library and hope to have it in my hot little hands next week.
I am so pleased to have discovered this author! I can hardly wait to hear what he has to tell about his creations and his process. Just a month away!
1910. Joanna Blalock unknowingly is the product of a sole assignation between the late Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler. After the nurse and her ten-year-old son see a man fall to his death in an apparent suicide, elderly Dr. John Watson and his charming handsome son Dr. John Watson Jr. invite her to join their detective team. From hidden treasure to the Second Afghan War of 1878-1880, the group devise an ingenious plan to catch a murderer in the act while dodging Scotland Yard the British aristocracy.
***The Summer of Sherlock 2019***
I am quite amazed at the sheer number of authors who can’t resist writing about the great detective! In this offering, it is a male author, giving us his version of a daughter of Sherlock Holmes.
I rather like the enhanced role it gives to Dr. Watson, the surviving member of the duo. He and his dashing son, also a doctor, set about solving a mystery which Joanna Blalock has witnessed. She is soon part of the investigative team and very much on Watson Junior’s mind.
The story is a bit on the predictable side. There is a cunning criminal, a Lestrade Junior as a foil for the Watson team, a developing romance between Joanna & John Junior, and a plot line very reminiscent of The Sign of the Four.
There are two more books in the series, both of which are available through my public library. However, I am in no rush to get them--there are so many other Holmes pastiche books to be sampled during my summer project and I found this one a bit on the dry side.
In Hell and Damnation, bestselling author Marq de Villiers takes readers on a journey into the strange richness of the human imaginings of hell, deep into time and across many faiths, back into early Egypt and the 5,000-year-old Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh. This urbane, funny, and deeply researched guide ventures well beyond the Nine Circles of Dante's Hell and the many medieval Christian visions into the hellish descriptions in Islam, Buddhism, Jewish legend, Japanese traditions, and more.
My enjoyment of this book probably suffered from the fact that I finally got it through my library during the summer months. Some subjects don’t lend themselves to summertime reading and Hell and damnation are two of those subjects. Nevertheless, it was an interesting read (especially since I’m reading Terry Goodkind’s Stone of Tears at the same time and it seems that he was reading the section on the tortures of Hell to provide the plot for his novel.)
It is remarkable how several religions have come up with the same kinds of ideas about the afterlife. The Buddhists have lots of different hells for lots of different sins, but they are pretty much self-service establishments--no one is overseeing your punishment. Christianity and Islam don’t much trust sinner to administer their own penalties and have awarded that role to Satan otherwise known as the Devil.
The history of Hell and the Devil are also fascinating, as scholars sort out how many of those details are cribbed from the Ancient Greeks & Romans, not to mention the Caananites who rivaled the early Jews. Most of the details which have come to be accepted by fundamentalists seem to come from literature external to the Bible, which I am willing to bet that not many of them realize.
Strangely, humans don’t seem to have much imagination when it comes to Heaven, as witnessed by the final chapter of the book. The descriptions of life and activities in Heaven are quite lacklustre verging on downright boring.
An interesting partner to a book that I recently read, Rag and Bone: A Journey Among the World's Holy Dead, about saintly relics. Both books are written with scholarly interest, although both authors display a sense of humour towards their subjects.
London, April 4, 1888 ~ Evelina Cooper, niece of Sherlock Holmes, is ready for her first London Season - except for a murderer, missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse. In a Victorian era ruled by a ruthless steam baron council, mechanical power is the real monarch, and sorcery the demon enemy of the empire. Evelina has secretly mastered a coveted weapon - magic that can run machines. Should she trust the handsome, clever rake who speeds her breath, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything she would ask?
***The Summer of Sherlock 2019***
A very steampunk story, with an indirect connection to Sherlock Holmes. The author gives the great detective a sister, who has produced this niece before dying. The niece has been retrieved from her father’s side of the family, a circus family. That’s as in trapezes, not in family hysterics!
So it’s way out there, Holmes-wise. I can’t help but think that the author could have made up a famous detective of her own to fill in for the detective uncle and the story would have been just as good. However, it does tie into a late Holmes story, The Problem of Thor Bridge. This is obviously where Holloway got her inspiration for the Gold King, and the various steambarons who divide London up between them with their monopolistic business ventures.
There are clockwork devices and occasional magic, not at all the usual stuff of Sherlock Holmes stories, but it was a fun little romp and I’m looking forward to the next book. Our heroine, Evelina Cooper, will undoubtedly have to choose between her two men, circus performer Nick and blue blood Tobias. Having burned bridges with both of them in this volume, it will be interesting to see how the author ropes them back in during the next book.
I would warn away the Sherlock Holmes purists from this series, but if you are into Steampunk paranormal romances, A Study in Silks is pretty decent.
This author will be at the summer conference that I'm attending next month. When I read the blurb, I wasn't sure it would be for me. But I am pleased to report that I really, really enjoy the author's voice in this work. Plus, miracle of miracles, I get the humour! Perhaps because Mr. Gardner & I are both Canadians.
I am very much looking forward to hearing him speak in August!
These seem to be a hodge-podge of dark little stories. The one supposedly penned by Mr. Holmes himself is almost exactly the style used in the Watson-authored stories. Sir Arthur had really, really fallen out of love with his creation, methinks.
My Summer of Sherlock continues with Mercedes Lackey and Brittany Cavallaro.
But a woman cannot subsist on Sherlock alone, hence the Rhys Bowen and Canadian food choices.
Have a great weekend, folks!
Bree, the talking horse, has been kidnapped from Narnia, and longs to return. Shasta decides to run away with him. Before they know it, they are on a wild and dangerous journey together, through strange cities, eerie tombs and harsh deserts.
I know for a fact that I read this book as a child. We had a small school library and I read every book in it that had anything to do with horses. I have always been obsessive like that--when I find a subject that interests me, I read everything I can get my hands on about it. Despite this, I did not remember a word of The Horse and His Boy.
My first thought is that the title would make you believe that it was Bree, the Narnian horse, who should have been telling the tale. Instead, it is largely seen from Shasta’s point of view.
There are some very obvious Christian allusions in this book. While Shasta is going to Narnia to warn the kingdom of invasion, there is a very Psalm-like portion where Aslan walks by his side (and, he realizes later, protects him from walking over a cliff). It’s a very “In the valley of the shadow of death” moment. Plus, there is a “Doubting Thomas” event as well, where Aslan allows the doubter to touch him, to see that he is real.
I also found it interesting how Lewis combined Greek mythology with Christian influences. That was particularly strong when the stubborn prince is turned into a donkey. Aslan gives him a solution--he can go to his kingdom’s harvest festival and become a man again by presenting himself in the temple. He must stay within a certain radius of this temple to avoid becoming a donkey on a permanent basis. This part of the tale reminded me strongly of Aesop’s Fables.
I don’t know why this story didn’t grab me when I was a child, but it didn’t. Now, as an older adult, I am well past the age that it was written for. I doubt that I will ever read it again, but I will finish this series eventually.
When a TV producer asks Thumps to assist with an episode about a local woman from a wealthy family whose death was ruled “misadventure,” he is reluctant to get involved. Then the producer dies in the exact same manner, and Thumps finds himself solving two cases.
Can a reality TV show solve a cold case?
The crew of a true-crime reality TV show, Malice Aforethought, shows up in Chinook to do an episode about the death of Trudy Samuels. Trudy’s death had originally been ruled accidental, but with ratings in mind, one of the producers, Nina Maslow, wants to prove it was murder. And she wants Thumps to help. Thumps is reluctant to get involved until Nina dies in the exact same place and in the exact same way as Trudy. Are the two deaths related? Or are there two murderers on the loose in Chinook? Thumps uses Nina’s Malice Aforethought files to try to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, and in the process discovers that she had already started work on another case close to Thumps' heart: the Obsidian murders.
Sometimes it’s not a good idea to read two books in a series so close together. I put a hold on this book at my library right after finishing Cold Skies: A DreadfulWater Mystery and I regret nothing! Thumps DreadfulWater is an excellent character and King has created a wonderful supporting cast for him in the town of Chinook, Montana.
A reality television film crew comes to Chinook to poke about in an old, unhealed case. Was it a murder? A suicide? Can anyone find out this many years later? Thumps is the man for the cold case and Sheriff Duke Hockney makes sure that he can’t escape the assignment. Really, all they have to do is engage the problem solving part of Thumps’ brain, and he is hooked until the thing is solved. Now, if only he would put that much effort into his own health!
I was a little disappointed to have the Freeway/Pops (cat and dog) storyline fade out of this book, but I guess it’s kind of like the advice not to act with children or animals….they kind of stole the show in the last book, but in a good way. Somehow I don’t think Freeway can be counted out of things entirely. Who knows what will happen after the next book? Freeway and Claire seem to have some similarities and Claire will be gone for a while too. Long enough for Thumps to take care of his unfinished business, perhaps?
I can hardly wait for the next installment The Obsidian Murders: A DreadfulWater Mystery next year. If we’re lucky, Mr. King won’t be done with Thumps at that point!
This supernatural mystery set in the world of Sherlock Holmes and Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos features a brilliant detective and his partner as they try to solve a horrific murder.
The complex investigation takes the Baker Street investigators from the slums of Whitechapel all the way to the Queen's Palace as they attempt to find the answers to this bizarre murder of cosmic horror!
***The Summer of Sherlock 2019***
I didn’t read any of the available information on this graphic novel, choosing instead to go in relatively blind and see where it took me. I was entertained. A fun mash-up of the Sherlock Holmes and Cthulhu stories of Conan Doyle and Lovecraft respectively.
This is an interesting alternate historical timeline and I’m hoping maybe that Mr. Gaiman may be convinced to produce another volume and move the story along?
I note that neither the Holmes-like character nor the Watson-like one are actually named in this version. In fact, there is a reference to a limping Doctor named Watson at some point, leading me to believe that Holmes & Watson are out there somewhere, waiting to be discovered.
I love the artwork in this one, especially the depictions of the two main characters. I will look for more work produced by these artists.