Month: September 2010

A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews

This is the story of Nomi Nickle, 16, who is growing up in a Mennonite community in Canada in the 1980s.  Half of Nomi’s family, “the better-looking half” as she says, is missing, leaving Nomi and her dad to eek out a life together having been abandoned by her mum and sister.    Her town is defined by the religion, tourists come to see how they live their lives in the ‘fake’ village which is totally different to how they actually live.  Nomi’s uncle Hans, a.k.a. The Mouth of Darkness is in charge and his word is law in the town, his visits to Nomi and her father can only mean misery and sadness to them.  This is a town where you can be shunned by your family and have to live in a shed at the back of your house and where nobody is allowed to talk to you.   What Nomi really wants is out of there, she wants to leave the life she has and head to New York and live in the East Village where she is convinced she will hang out with rock stars and have a life full of excitement, anything would be better though than carrying on living in East Village where she is now trapped, with the only prospect ahead of her of working at the Happy Chicken farm along with the rest of the town.  Nomi takes refuge in her slightly distant boyfriend Travis, chain smoking, drugs and dreaming.  She is funny, clever and thinks very deeply.  As life quietly slips out of control, her dad selling off the furniture and steadily cleaning up the local dump, Nomi comes to realise what has actually happened to her life and what she must do to take control of her life.

There are hundreds of quotable lines in the book and the characters of Nomi and her dad are so vivid and beautifully written that I was totally engrossed in the book from beginning to end.  The longing of Nomi for her beloved mum and sister, and her father shambling along keeping with the church, unable to stop doing what he knows but desperate to help Nomi is just gut wrenching.  It is indeed a complicated kindness that he expresses.  A wonderful book.  Thanks to Adrienne and Stewart for recommending it and telling me the story of them crying over it in Rome airport.  The book is so funny, so sad, so wonderfully real, it is a book to own.

ACID (via Very Demotivational – The Demotivational Posters Blog)

This is from Very Demotivational, it is fast becoming one of my faves. Not all are appropriate or even funny but the ones that are are hysterically amusing. I particularly like this one, to the point where I was roaring with laughter when I first saw it. Check out the website for more gems.

ACID rub until left hand disappears

Submitted by: gameking-4 … Read More via Very Demotivational – The Demotivational Posters Blog

Herb and Cheese Mini Muffins

Tiny tasty morsels

This recipe started with one of Alison Holst Marvelous Muffins recipes, but I found them to be a bit dry, so I added some more liquid in the form of yogurt.  I’ve made hundreds of these in lots of variations over the years but I particularly like them with mountains of parsley and celery tops and chives.  Don’t make the mixture too wet or you will end up with a soggy mess, but too dry is equally bad. Add more, or different types of cheese if you want.  Putting a grate of cheese on top is an excellent choice too.

I always double this recipe and freeze those that I don’t need.  They are great with cream cheese style dips or little pieces of brie cheese stuck in the top, but actually hot out of the oven is pretty jolly fine too.

1 cup flour, 2tsp baking powder, 1 cup of a mix of grated tasty cheese and Parmesan, 1/2 cup of parsley chopped, 1 tblsp fresh chopped herbs, 1 spring onion chopped, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, pinch of smoked paprika or chilli flakes.

1 egg, 1/2 cup plus 2tblsp milk, 2 tblsp plain yoghurt (you can leave it out but it is better in)

Put the first 9 ingredients into a bowl.  Toss well to mix.  In another bowl beat the egg and the milk and yoghurt together with a fork.

Tip the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and fold together.  Do not mix any more than is necessary, less is more.  Spoon the mixture into greased/sprayed mini muffin tins and bake at 200 degrees C until they are golden brown on top.

White Cat by Holly Black

This is an interesting book, the first in a series of three called The Curse Workers but the only published yet.  Magic has been outlawed since 1929 and the people who are able to perform it are divided into various kinds, along with this there is a sort of mafia with five important families all wanting to be on top of the heap.  There are several different kinds of Curse Workers who have powers such as the power to induce or remove memories, to manipulate emotions, to transform things into animate and inanimate objects.  Everyone has to wear gloves because the slightest touch can kill you if you touch the wrong curse worker.  It is all very complex.

Cassel is the main character, the only member of his family with no special skills, he is at boarding school, running a very successful betting scam amongst the well to do teenagers.  We meet him in the middle of the night when he wakes up on the roof of his dorm having had a dream about a white cat, he finds not only the cat looking at him but also all the other residents of his school.  He gets excluded by the Principal and so begins a huge adventure involving lots of violence, underhanded dealing, a little bit of romance and a great big mystery.

Cassel has to deal with his dastardly brothers who he figures out are up to large amounts of no good, and who are getting him involved in a major way and he needs to sort out the mystery of the girl he killed, and cope with his Mother being sent to jail, his Grandfather being sacked by the mafia and his brothers wife behaving in a most odd manner, oh and there is more.  Confused?  I was a bit.  There is a lot going on, and yes I know you are being set up for a trilogy but I occasionally got a bit lost.

It is really good, but with the complex story line you kind of have to put your brain on hold and just keep reading to deal with all the information,  you will get there in the end and I was pretty caught up in the story by the time the book was nearly done.  I really engaged with the characters in the end and I look forward to the next one.  I think it is going to be a ‘hot right now’ book.  Holly Black is the author of the Spiderwick Chronicles which I really liked a few years ago and she is a pretty good author, teenagers will love this book.  Book Trailer here

Here Ok Go Again!

Oh yes, so witty so clever.  Those who follow the band Ok Go will know that their big hit was Here it goes again.  You know the video with the guys on the treadmills. Loved it.  Here is their latest effort.  Really it wouldn’t matter what the music was like their videos are so good that it is more visual than music for me.  Here is the link to the previous Ok Go effort This too shall pass which came out earlier this year.  These guys are so cool!

“Directed by Trish Sie and OK Go – Produced by Shirley Moyers
Special thanks to: Lauren Henry and Roland Sonnenburg and their team of trainers from Talented Animals, the town of Corvallis OR for being so welcoming to us.
Official music video for OK Go’s ‘White Knuckles’. Deluxe album and merch packages available now at http://www.okgo.net/store