27 August 2013

Book Review: The Book of the Forsaken by Yannis Karatsioris

Disclosure: A free copy of the book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an unbiased review.
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From Goodreads: "A sarcastic storyteller traps three characters in his web in order to get hold of a special book. 
Daniel, Cassidy and Igor are three unique individuals, considered outcasts for different reasons. They are about to meet and stick together, as coincidences and forced situations lead them to a journey all around Europe. 
As everyone is after the Book of the Forsaken, the coming Game is about to take place on the dark side of the moon. But there is a cost to that knowledge. Let alone to the wish to partake."

The Book of the Forsaken got the gold medal on authonomy.com's HarperCollins UK hosted competition on Feb 1. 2012.

The Book of the Forsaken by Yannis Karatsioris
Series: The Game, #1 
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Action, Adventure
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The mini-dossiers at the start of the story that sort of introduced us to the characters hooked me up and made me want to read more. I like that the plot is fast-paced, there are elements of action and suspense I found very interesting, and that there's a somewhat cozy mystery feel to the narrative. Keeping up with the narrator as he jumps from one character to the next was a bit of a challenge for me though. That said, I think using a "storyteller" instead of just writing in a 3rd person omniscient POV is very creative albeit confusing at times. And yes, I also thought the footnotes were a bit distracting. Even so, I really think the concept upon which the novel was based is brilliant. I had fun weaving through the many twists and turns and I can't wait to read the next book.

18 August 2013

Recipe: Beef Salpicao

Here's my version of Dulcinea's beef salpicao -

Ingredients
½ lb beef tenderloin, cubed
2 tablespoons garlic, minced 
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons liquid seasoning (Bragg Liquid Aminos is the healthier option although Knorr Seasoning for me is yummier)
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper

Directions
1. Marinate beef in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper for a couple of hours.

2. Heat the marinade in a pan, saute garlic, then add the beef (make sure the oil is very hot).

3. Sear the beef evenly, this shouldn't take long, no more than 8 minutes.

4. Add Worcestershire sauce and liquid seasoning.

5. Turn off the heat and then add butter.

6. Sprinkle with green chilies (optional).

7. Serve hot.
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13 August 2013

Resto love: Dulcinea

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Paella Valenciana, Php495
Saffron rice with vegetables, seafood, pork and chicken
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Lengua Estofada Especialidad, Php370
Ox tongue with mushroom gravy served with vegetables and mashed potato
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Salpicao, Php310
Tenderloin sauteed in olive oil and garlic served with garlic rice and potatoes
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Churros con Chocolate, Php98
Fried-dough served with hot chocolate

03 August 2013

Book Review: Snow White Sorrow by Cameron Jace

Snow White Sorrow, The Grimm Diaries, Cameron Jace, Book Review, Goodreads

From Goodreads: "What if all you knew about fairy tales was wrong?
Sixteen year old Loki Blackstar is no Prince Charming. His mother is a ghost. His only friend is a red Cadillac that sings to him through the radio. He looks like an Angel but acts like jerk. No wonder he has been banned from Heaven, which is the least of his troubles. Loki needs a job to pay for school and support himself.
Still, Loki has a rare gift: He is a Dreamhunter. One of the few in the world who can hunt and kill immortal demons in their dreams so they never wake up again.
When Loki is sent to kill a sixteen-year-old vampire girl the locals call Snow White Sorrow, he is pulled into a magical but dangerous world. The locals believe the monster to be Snow White.
The real Snow White... living in the ruins of an ancient castle in a small town. She is described as horribly beautiful, terrifyingly enchanting, and wickedly lovely.
What he finds instead is a beautiful monster girl filled with rage and hurt, who has an epic untold story to tell of things such like why the Brothers Grimm altered the fairy tale, who the Evil Queen really is, where the mirror came from, and who possessed it.
Snow White has killed every person who has dared come near the castle where she once lived with the queen. Mysteriously, she lets Loki live, and whispers two words in his ears; two words that will change his life forever."

Snow White Sorrow by Cameron Jace
Series: The Grimm Diaries, #1 
Genres: Young Adult, Fairy Tale Retellings, Fantasy, Paranormal, Vampires
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
It does sound like Anna Dressed in Blood but except for the blurb, they're nothing alike. Snow White Sorrow is an interesting take on the classic fairy tale, Snow White. I love everything about the magical world Cameron Jace has spun. It's whimsical, goofy and romantic. I love the characters, even the small ones. Georgie Porgie, Skeliman the Ferryman (sometimes the Libraryman), that vampire in Forks who was killed by Loki but was resurrected and "appears in the twilights", they cracked me up. Love the food - Sticky Sweet Bones, Tragic Beans, Coffinmuffins, Poisoned Apples, Cinderella Mozerella, and Reluctant Jelly; and the name of places - Bedtime Stoories, Candy House, Sorrow, Snoring, Belly and Beast. The story is captivating, it's impossible not to get pulled in. Perhaps my only complaint is the dialogue, especially Loki's. I thought it's very cheesy and clichéd. I cringe every time anyone speaks. Frankly, I'd rather they didn't have lines at all, but oh well.

01 August 2013

Lazy ovaries, drug side effects and gym membership

So today I thought I'd take a break from my usual blogging and just talk about what's been going on with me. Those of you who know me have probably wondered or even asked me at one point or another why we remain childless. It's been six years and you are either getting tired of waiting or just totally losing interest. If I tell you the answer, will you promise not to judge me? I'm scared of doctors. There. I guess I'm what some people would call a "silent hypochondriac". Over the years, I have somehow become an expert in self-diagnosis, looking up my symptoms online, slowly driving myself insane with worry yet refusing to see a doctor for fear of what the doctor might find. Welcome to my world! So anyway, while I adore my baby nieces, I'm not in any hurry to have my own. I have low tolerance for pain and just the thought of birthing just plain terrifies me. And besides, hubs and I are doing great just the two of us that procreation (or lack thereof) has never been a priority so why push it? If it's going to happen, it's going to happen. 

The fact though that it's not happening therefore there is something wrong has not dawned on me until recently. And once it did, oh it gnawed at me every minute of the day. I always see every ache and pain as precursor to a more serious condition, but this time, my paranoia has gotten even worse. It cracks me up sometimes, thinking the way I do but mostly it irritates me. For instance, what started all of this was a drop of what appeared to be blood on my husband's shirt. That suspicious looking stain that may or may not have been soy sauce seriously sent me into a paralyzing panic. I had him immediately checked out, poked and prodded, you know, the whole nine yards, only to find out later that yes, it was indeed soy sauce. My manicurist and I had a good laugh about it. I know it's no laughing matter it's just hubs was super pissed at me for everything I've put him through. But I'm really glad I had that health scare. Because even though most of his results came back normal, there's a couple of things we need to address and check with his doctor.

So this now leads us to me. I realized there's no point delaying the inevitable. So petrified as I was, I hauled my procrastinating ass and finally got checked. After numerous doctor's appointments and nerve-wracking weeks spent waiting for test results, I now know that I have this condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). I might go into details about this effing disorder some time but for now I think it would suffice to say that my hormones are out of whack and all over the place. Hubs and I can try (TRY being the operative word here) and get pregnant but these buggers have got to behave first. So now I'm on meds, dieting, and will soon be exercising. Regularly. I know this is the way to go but oh how I hate everything about this. One of the meds I'm taking makes me feel nauseous and gassy and gives me the mother of all diarrheas and at the most inconvenient times too. Not only that, I'm starting a low GI diet and quite literally, those I love I cannot eat and those I would rather not eat like oats, beans and fruit cake, well now I have to. Anyway, I should stop. Talking. Now. Before I bore us to tears.

On a not so unrelated note, someone from Fitness First Megamall just offered me discounted membership. I know, right? Can't he be any more timely? Tempting as it is, these days I just don't have the patience nor the bowel control to endure the horrendous traffic in EDSA on a regular(ish) basis. So there, thanks for letting me rant. I've got a few more tests lined up in the coming weeks. More hand-wringing and nail-biting for me, can't say I'm excited. But hey, I've been anxious all my life, so why stop now? (I said that in my most sarcastic tone, in case you couldn't tell.) If there's any update, I'll let you know. Maybe.