Sunday, January 27, 2013

Book Review: Sea of Monsters

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2)The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this series back up after despairing in the library one evening to the librarian on the lack of well written young adult series outside of Harry Potter, the Hunger Games and His Dark Materials. While I still don't think that the Olympians can hold a candle to any of those, Rick Riordan spins a charming, exciting and funny story which kept me entertained through a cold.

I love the addition of Tyson to the gang, especially once his nifty talent was revealed. I love the idea of seeing more unique items in the future and hope that Riordan follows that character through.

My biggest quibble is that almost every character has a Harry Potter equivalent. This does diminish a bit of the originality of the stories and takes them from being something really clever to sort of A been there, done that. Hopefully those parallels will also fade as the story arc and characters develop.

All in all, a good read and an decent adventure that I will continue for at least another installment.

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bowser Therapy

Bowser - just your basic dragon/turtle bad guy with penchant for mohawks and ships.
Bowser - the ubiquitous villain from Nintendo's Mario Brothers game is just your basic bad dragon/turtle hybrid guy. He enjoys roaring, throwing fireballs and most of all, kidnapping Princess Peach who by now I think pretty much digs it as revealed in this hilarious video by College Humor.

Nonethess, when J, our foster son, joined us in October, he had never played video games before. It was our logical first step in the middle of the chaos of being placed with a stranger-to-us 5-year old. We had no toys, books or even a bed, but we did have Wii and Mario Kart.

Turns out, in the aftermath of a traumatic separation, video games provided him the perfect outlet to release frustration and grief. There were tears and yelling – but it was aimed at the game and eventually, with enough determination and grit, he fought his way through levels and began collecting the coveted Mario Galaxy stars.

Along the way, J (who cannot be pictured due to confidentiality issues), developed quite a fondness for Bowser, the ultimate Mario bad guy. Who knows why, but nothing Bowser threw ol’ Mario’s way could dissuade this love. When I jokingly suggested one day that I make him a Bowser costume, the idea stuck. And unlike the suggestions for eating vegetables or drinking milk, this one has been pursued with a vigor that has surprised us all.

So I've added this to my Life Life (it has to be a quick one!) on GoMighty.

Make a Bowser Costume for My Foster Son Before He Leaves Us in March.

So, now it is off to Pinterest, Joann’s and crafting sites to figure out how in God’s name this costume is going come together.

Sewers and crafters, your ideas and suggestions are welcome. In a rare instance to a foster case, this one will have a happy ending and I’d like to send him off with his costume.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Book Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will GraysonWill Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My very first thought upon finishing this book was where was John Green when I was in high school? Of course, if my math is correct, he was likely potty training, but nonetheless, I stand in awe of his

Green can capture the "everystudent" - the one who is not super concerned with being popular, but worries about grades, getting into college, finding a girlfriend/boyfriend - like no other. He writes about the kind of kid that I was - except now I just wish there was a female protagonist.

The book is a fast read - a quick coming of "relationship" story since I feel all these characters are still behind on their actual "coming of age." Instead, the book traces the characters as they learn what it means to love, like, talk and just be. Everyone's life will be changed, but there is a realistic feel that these, after all, are just kids. And high school is but one phase on a long road of change.

The back and forth chapter-by-chapter partnership of Green and David Levithan is terrific. Each Will Grayson has his own voice and the supplemental characters keep their individual voices even through the different author's eyes. The book is funny and moving and a great example of the "it gets better" campaign without ever once uttering that phrase.

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Life List #12: Ozark Pudding Cake

One of my Life List goals is to cook my way through an entire cookbook. I've started and stopped this so many times with so many different cookbooks that I almost just nixed it from the list. Clearly, something wasn't working.

Then, on a random whim, I purchased Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson. I'd seen it on a blog and suddenly I knew, there was my cookbook. I'll be posting the various recipes made from time to time here as well as on Go Mighty.

We shall start with Ozark Pudding Cake.

Please excuse the poor picture quality. Read the post for details.
Thanksgiving 2012.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. What’s not to love about a day dedicated to my favorite hobby and butter.  But this year was different. This was the year that only five weeks earlier, we became foster parents to two brothers ages 2 and 4.5.

Now, we are not young. We are not old either, but we also don’t have any children of our own. These babes came with nothing but sweatsuits and socks. Still reeling from the shock of readjusting our entire state of being, along comes Thanksgiving, hosted at our house out of sheer sympathy for our new lives.

I foolishly volunteered to do a side dish and dessert. Thanksgiving morning dawned and I realized, I had no lists, no timing plan, and not even a clean house. Underwear was strewn on the basement floor (what is up with that, mothers of boys?) and a barf-filled afghan had been dragged into the yard by our dog from the night before. Great.

Out of desperation, I grabbed my new cookbook, took stock of my ingredients – pears, check! Dried cranberries, yes! Nuts – found buried deep in the freezer, jackpot!

The cake came together quickly (in one bowl!) while my parents were setting out the food they brought. It baked while we ate. We had no ice cream or whipped cream or creme fraiche, but served warm and buttery from the cast iron pan, even the barfy child could not resist. It is neither a traditional cake, nor is it pudding. But it is pure comfort – the pears melting into moist vanilla-y cake spiked with the sweet tartness of cranberries.

Did my luscious but humble cake save Thanksgiving? No, but maybe Thanksgiving doesn’t need saving from mess, noise and the unexpected. It was my parents looking bemusedly on the chaos, my sister and her boyfriend laughing about the “built-in birth control” and the two happy little boys snuggling and playing in the messy house…that’s what Thanksgiving really needs.