Sunday, February 01, 2015

And now for something slightly diferent

The different things:

Cook's Illustrated, no. 132, ed. by Christopher Kimball.  I'm not a big magazine reader.  I don't even usually read the articles in whatever professional journal is being routed past me.  But I've always enjoyed this magazine and the associated TV show-- I got rather hooked on it the first year we were married, when we lived out in the boondocks, owned only one vehicle, my husband worked and was in grad school, I worked only part time, and we only got the PBS station.  I have a handful of Test Kitchen recipes that my family loves-- the pancake recipe cannot fail.

So my husband got me a subscription as a gift this year.  There are several recipes from this issue that I think will go over well here, but I read all the recipes, even for the dishes I don't intend to make, because I love their process.  It is so normal, so what-I-do-in-my-own-kitchen, while also explaining chemistry and food science-- the researcher tried this method and anticipated a certain result, but ended up with something else and researched why that happened and incorporated that information into another attempt.  Awesome!

Other oddness for you:  this author apparently writes about legs.  Not really (I think), but the amazing similarity of the book jackets leads me to assume all her leading characters are extremely similar, and I wouldn't anticipate too much variety of plot, either.

We now return to regular programming.

Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal.  There were some issues in this book that would have been fixed by a good editor-- people jumping about in a scene, some sentences that were kind of awkward, and, in one memorable scene, a character finishing his flask and throwing it overboard, saying a line, and then finishing his flask and throwing it overboard.  That kind of stuff really bothers me because, what would otherwise be a great book, full of interesting and well-drawn characters, red herrings, and period detail, is messed up by the type of consistency errors that should be caught well before even the ARC stage.
I did like that the characters lived between books.  References were made to events that happened between when book one ended and book two began.  Those few things weren't reason enough to being the new story the day after the first one ended, but it gave the characters depth, added to their histories; they live whether we are watching or not.

His Majesty's Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal.  When I have two books in the same series that I read during the same review period, I normally just lump them together.  But I separated books 2 and 3 because this one was so much cleaner than its predecessor.  Well done on stepping up the proofreading, Susan.

Lie to Me, seasons 2 and 3, with Tim Roth.  I'm sure it's just as well that the series is over, since you can kind of see the characters slipping into caricatures-- losing some of their depth, becoming the embodiment of their defining character trait, doing the same things in all situations whereas a real person with depth is more adaptable and can change...
I was sort of bummed that the show just sort of stopped, though.  There wasn't any feeling like the over-arching story was wrapping up; rather, there just stopped being a "next episode" button at the bottom of the screen.  It kind of works, in a way though, because we can assume that the characters are still there, still doing their thing, since there was no reason for them to stop.

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley.  Sad, sad, did not finish.  One, waaay too many authors think giving their character Asperger's is a totally unique way to set them apart.  The intellectual with Asperger's is the new alcoholic PI.  It's overdone.  Point one, subsection A, it's completely unnecessary-- I would be way more drawn to a female intellectual who was just sort of naturally awkward; she doesn't need to be debilitatingly awkward.  Point one, subsection B, it's annoying in that each author feels the need to explain it, both overly-simply and simultaneously going on about it too much.  Of course, if each is under the impression that this is the first brush the reader has had with the diagnosis, then that would be understandable, but there are so many characters now who have it as their Achilles' heel that it's almost as if the author expects his or her book to be the only one the reader has ever picked up.  Generally annoying.
Two, the main character is supposed to be translating coded diary entries, but the historical parts of the novel are written the same as the present-day parts: same voice, same writing style.  The historical portions are written in third person and start before the character actually begins keeping her diary.  There isn't any feeling of significant difference between the time periods.

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