August 2022 Round Up

This round up comes a little late, which is annoying as I’ve been scrabbling around for content before going… ah… yeah. Round up! Here’s what I did last month.

WHAT I READ

Fantasy

Of Charms, Ghosts and Grievances by Aliette de Bodard – Too focused on the couple and their lack of communication (which was somewhat old hat), not enough on the mystery behind them for me. Credit to the writing that I finished it. I’d also add that given how I felt about the new De Bodard being marketed as a romance, I think I found it more of a trial than I admitted to myself at the time.

Spear by Nicola Griffith – The writing is fantastic. The story didn’t grip me, don’t think I felt enough tension. Didn’t do anything to shake my feeling I’m not a huge retelling guy, and I wasn’t even thinking all that hard about the background story for most of it. Actually, no, on second thoughts, it reinforced that I’m not heavily. You tell me you’re deconstructing the sausage roll, you’re probably not making something as good as a sausage roll. Same with myths.

Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin Kiernan – If you accept this what for what it is – a pure vibes hazed out visit to 90s conspiracy theories with added nightmares, like The Invisibles or X-Files meets Cthulhu, you’ll enjoy. Think it grows in the mind too. Don’t expect more though.

When The Tiger Came Down The Mountain by Nghi Vo – A very fine book unless you compare it to The Empress of Salt and Fortune at which point it falls far short.

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie – Not a happy reread. I admire the craft in terms of the set pieces and the characterisation but my gods it felt long and bloated. Also, worst of all, about two-thirds of the jokes grated, which is a killer when a book has this many jokes.

The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend by David Gemmell – Good fun, but probably one of the weakest Drenai books; doesn’t hang together well enough, and it doesn’t have those bittersweet internal conflicts in quite the same way.

Other Fiction

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John le Carre – I think I would discard any list of great novels of the English language that didn’t contain this book as automatically discredited.

The Terracotta Dog by Andrea Camilleri – I just find these books simultaneously very charming and enthralling

Tattoo by Manuel Vazquez Montalban – It’s alright. Didn’t grip me. Like took me a couple of years to finish because I kept losing it didn’t grip me.

Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold – Just misses me on every important point; world is a bit ho-hum, mystery a bit bleh, Miles’ plans not mad enough, Miles perhaps a bit flat… fine, but not great

Non-Fiction

Tabemasho: A History of Japanese Food in America by Gil Asakawa – Parts of this book are fascinating, like how Japanese restaurants came and went in fashion, or how teriyaki sauce was marketed. Wider looks at Japanese cuisine feel too short to add much. But recommended.

The Philosophy of Curry by Sejal Sukhadwala – Lively, informative, wide ranging, incisive, and everything else. A pocket rocket of a book.

Mediterranean Small Plates by Clifford White – Baffling naming decisions, a repeated recipe, a few unconventional feeling choices (unspicy patatas bravas?) means I’m unlikely to use this, even if some of the recipes could be good. Some good make your own ingredients stuff tho

Comics

The Iceblade Sorcerer Shall Rule the World by Nana Mikoshiba and Norihito Sasaki – My first manga experience. The opening pages felt horribly cliched but when we got to the action, it was pretty good.

DAS BLOG

August was very review orientated but there were a few essays, although I can’t say I’m wildly pleased with either. Different Ways To Categorise Fantasy feels like it needs to be the start of something bigger, and while Why Men Avoid Fantasy Books By Female Authors: Personal Thoughts And Theories got good feedback from a few, I feel like I didn’t grapple close enough with a big subject.

The publicity drive lasted a little before I got bored again. Still, 811 views and 349 visitors isn’t awful. I have so far eschewed publicity in September, but it might be time to go again.

Down the pipeline you can expect reviews of Against All Gods, Notorious Sorcerer, and… uhm. I went through a dry patch for fantasy, so I don’t have much there and am unsure what to get back on. I have a The Darkest Road readthrough to do where I haven’t even started, but that book at least flies. Uhm. Watch this space?

WHAT ELSE I DID

I kind of lost track of a month.

Food and Drink

I’ve settled on Old Trapper as my commercial jerky of choice and found the one chain near me that picks Granny Smiths early enough to not be gross. I’ve also found Tiger Sauce to be very much to my liking.

Less prosaically, I had some pretty good eats in the East Liberty/Shadyside area of Pittsburgh. Noodleheads might be my new favourite place there after getting some very solid Thai noodles. The ice cream place Millies is top notch too. Yet to my surprise, my best eating was done in a trip up to rural north Ohio/Pennsylvania, where The Crooked Paddle turned out some stupid good food. Their crab dip unctuous and briny and I want it again, and their oyster poboy absolutely hit the spot too. The couple next to us were jealous of it, although they loved their wings. They also had Dogfish Head Seaquench on tap, which is a 10/10 choice from me.

Speaking of beer, I was part of a giant beer share. Highlights involve the New Glaurus Serendipity, a sour using apples, cherries and cranberries that seemed to perfectly balance sweet and sour; the Fremont Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Star – Coffee Edition, which was smooth and very roasty-coffee like; and a 5 star for 3 Floyds Dark Lord Lounge Against the Macromachine, which hit incredible notes of heat, warmth, bitter, tang and utter booziness.

Yet somehow the best beer I probably had was the Brewdog Nilbog, a limited time sour that is very thick, very fruity, and addictive.

Also finally we found time to visit Maderos, my favourite Mexican chain near Pittsburgh, where I renewed my love affair with Al Pastor tacos and discovered their jalepenos stuffed with chorizo and topped with cheese were dynamite. And I don’t even like cheese.

Music

Kinda zip all new, got back into AFI.

TV and Movies

Yeah, sweet fuck all here too.

Personal

Just been busy doing little admin tasks really. Need to get down to the big stuff.

Anyway that was August, tell me about yours, and here’s to a good September.

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11 thoughts on “August 2022 Round Up

  1. Aww man. Best Served Cold is the next one I need to read. Starting it this week.
    Regarding food, love Tiger Sauce as well. We use it when seasoning chicken to make brown-stew chicken. Adds a nice flavor to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’ll work better for a first time reader, or just someone who’s not Picky McJudgerson, Second Earl of Justrightshire

      And I’m stealing that tip. Not that I’ve ever made my own brown stew chicken, but I should…

      Like

      1. Lol!

        Hope you like it, if you try it. Folks make it several different ways. Some brown the chicken by adding brown sugar to the pot first. We tend to season the chicken using browning and also frying the chicken for a bit to blacken it some before cooking it down. And some folks add ginger when cooking down the chicken. I haven’t had it with ginger in a long time.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know I like brown stew chicken. It just falls into the unfortunate position of being third place favourite on a Jamaican menu, behind Jerk Anything and Curry Coat. Jerk Chicken is addictive, how is Brown Stew meant to compete (even if the first recipe i looked up made it sound a lot like “marinade jerk chicken then stew it”)?

        Also I put ginger in just about everything it might reasonably have a place, so I’m pretty sure I’ll look at adding some.

        Like

      3. Oohh man! Curry goat is top for me. Can’t get enough. I actually don’t like jerk chicken as much anymore, but I think that’s because of a vacation I spent in JA eating nothing but jerk chicken, lol. Love jerk pork though.
        But, yeah, marinate and then stew. No jerk sauce.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I refuse to believe it’s possible to eat so much jerk chicken one gets bored of it. Refuse.

        Jerk pork is great though. Some places in London were doing jerk lamb and jerk duck, but never got to try them. Maybe one day. I can see jerk duck being magic.

        Like

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