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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Agents of Light and Darkness by Simon R. Green (Nightside #2)

Agents of Light and Darkness (Nightside, #2)Agents of Light and Darkness by Simon R. Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb:  A quest for the Unholy Grail-the goblet from which Judas drank at the Last Supper-takes private eye John Taylor deep into the secret, magical heart of London...called the Nightside.

Just as enjoyable as Something from Nightside (Book 1), if not a bit more polished and filled out. Which is what I would expect as the author starts to flesh out and tidy up his world.  As far as Nightside can be tidied up...

In Agents of Light and Darkness, John Taylor is hired by the Vatican to find the Unholy Grail before the Agents of Above and Below do and start the apocalypse early.   The angels are not nice beings, and proceed to wreak havoc and chaos upon Nightside, killing anyone who might know anything about the Unholy Chalice.  John, with the help of Shotgun Suzie, embark upon - essentially -  a quest for the Grail before the Agents of Above and Below destroy their city.

Unlike book one, where I commented on how each character had a biography to accompany it, new characters were introduced by name and maybe given a couple words as to their uniqueness.  There was more showing, and less telling, which I appreciated.  Less biographical exposition.  More action.  We were also given Suzie's background over the course of the story and I appreciated the focus on one character.    We find out a bit more about John and Alex the barkeep, but just enough to want to keep the reader engaged and wondering what will be revealed in the next book.

These are short enough to finish in a weekend; great for trains, planes, road trips and doctor offices.  Recommended.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Recipe Review from 1/20/2014

Temperatures continue to bounce between pleasant (20*F) and "brisk" (less than -20* with a windchill), but I'm not complaining because it could be like those poor folks on the East Coast.  We fit in a quick trip across the state to visit the in-laws so this past week was more of a freezer/pantry reduction than new meals. 

The Plan: 

Sun - (S)  a frozen homemade pot pie from the Husband's co-worker  (omg!  so good!)
Mon - leftovers for one
Tues - leftovers
Wed - Fall Vegetable Curry (Ckng Lght Oct 2010)
Thurs - leftovers
Friday - Cabbage, Sausage and Apple saute  (Ckng Lght, 2011?)  leftovers
Sat  (L) chili cookoff at the legion  (S) leftovers

Fall Vegetable Curry  (Ckng Lght, Oct 2010)
This dish can be ready and on the table in about 40 minutes or less.  I assembled and cooked while my basmati rice baked - oh did the house smell good!  No significant changes or alterations on this dish: I used one small sweet potato, which was more than one cup, and I used more than one cup of cauliflower.  I had sweet curry in the cupboard - written recipe recommended adding 1/4 tsp of cayanne pepper to your curry if you don't have Madras, but I prefer sweet over heat.   This was a perfect dish for a very blustery cold evening, the smells and flavors evoking images of much warmer tropical places.  Made three dinners for two, with basmati rice.
photo from
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil 
  • 1 cup diced peeled sweet potato
  • 1 cup small cauliflower florets
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced yellow onion 
  • 2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
  • 1/2 cup organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt 
  1. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Decrease heat to medium. Add cauliflower, onion, and curry powder; cook 1 minute, stirring mixture constantly. Add broth and next 3 ingredients (through tomatoes); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with cilantro; serve with yogurt.
  2. Wine match: Viognier. Tangent 2008 Paragon Vineyard Viognier (Edna Valley, CA; $17) is your must-try wine here, with notes of gardenia, peach, and apricot. It is full-bodied enough to meet the chickpeas halfway but crisp enough to hold up to the tangy tomatoes and yogurt. --Sara Schneider

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Camel Club by David Baldacci

The Camel Club (Camel Club, #1)The Camel Club by David Baldacci

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb:  Existing at the fringes of Washington D.C., the Club consists of four eccentric members. Led by a mysterious man know as "Oliver Stone," they study conspiracy theories, current events, and the machinations of government to discover the "truth" behind the country's actions. Their efforts bear little fruit --- until the group witnesses a shocking murder ... and become embroiled in an astounding, far reaching conspiracy. Now the Club must join forces with a Secret Service agent to confront one of the most chilling spectacles ever to take place on American soil --- an event that may trigger the ultimate war between two different worlds. And all that stands in the way of this apocalypse is five unexpected heroes.

A new-to-me author; I've been eyeballing his books in the checkout line at the grocery store and the Camel Club was available as an audiobook.  Unfortunately, the book wasn't my cuppa tea and I couldn't finish it.

The story is a healthy blend of internal espionage, terrorism, murder and romance with more info dumps than I could keep track of.  Off the top of my head, I recall being lectured on Islamic culture, Chinese karate, the internal workings of no less than three major government agencies (who all despise each other, of course), political hierarchy, and how a Secret Service agent is supposed to dress and behave in public.

The writing is very competent, the subject obviously well researched, the plot has more twists and turns than the streets in San Francisco, but it just didn't interest me.  I returned this to the library unfinished and will perhaps try a different series by this author.

Recommended if you like modern day politically-based spy thrillers.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Recipe Review from 1/13/14

A very uneventful week so I'll go straight to The Recipes.

Meal plan:
Saturday: (L) out  (S) frozen pizza
Sunday: (L) fridge/freezer scrounge (leftover chicken thighs from Chicken Stew, leftover squash, rice)  (S) Southwest Chicken Stew
Monday: leftovers
Tuesday: Cavatappi and Butternut Squash Pasta
Wednesday:   leftovers
Thurs leftovers: leftovers
Friday: leftovers

Lunches: Mexican Quinoa Salad, gf crackers, fruit, nuts, luna bars

Sloppy joes were on the menu for Sunday, but I completely and totally brain farted buying any of the necessary ingredients.  I didn't even note what I needed on my grocery list it was that big of a brain fart!  But, that's okay.  A good opportunity to do some freezer/fridge reduction.  

And a shout-out to friend Tess who actually pointed me in the direction of the first two recipes for this week! Thanks!   

Southwestern Chicken Stew    (Taste of Home website, date ??)  gluten free
A wonderful easy-to-prep, slow cooked dish that was perfect for a damp winter day.  Seriously, this is a chop and plop dish that doesn't need any pre-cooking.  The flavors were just about perfect; I would have liked just a bit more zing and would recommend a dash of chili powder or cayenne pepper for adult tastebuds. Only one substitution - both Tess and I dropped the lima beans and subbed canned -  I think she used black and I used pinto.  I served with some leftover garlic bread bowl (from Red Lobster) and a dollup of sour cream.  Recommended!
photo from Taste of Home

  • 4 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (~1 pound, roughly)
  • 2 cups frozen lima beans
  • 1 (14oz) can pinto beans
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce ** watch for hidden gluten
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  1. Place the first five ingredients in a 5-qt. slow cooker. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and dry seasonings; pour over top.
  2. Cook, covered, on low 6-8 hours or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken from slow cooker. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones; discard bones. (I didn't have to remove chicken to shred - I just poked it with a wooden stir spoon and it fell apart all on its own.)  Shred meat with two forks; return to slow cooker and heat through. If desired, sprinkle with cilantro. Yield: 6 servings. 

Cheesy Butternut Squash Cavatappi Bake   (Better Homes and Gardens website)  vegetarian option**, GF option.
Oh-kay!  A fair amount of changes here - I don't have a microwave so I baked the squash at 400* for about 30 minutes.  This gave me time to assemble the rest of the ingredients, boil the pasta and start cooking the mushrooms.  This also meant the oven was nicely preheated.  I skipped the green onions completely and omitted the bacon because I didn't have any on hand.  I didn't mash the squash but left it in chunks - mashing seemed putsy.  This made a 9x13 pan and not the 2 quart casserole as called for.  I had to do a mid-assembly pan switch which always thrills me to no end (sarcasm!). 

This turned out creamy and hearty - a somewhat mild dish backed by the sweetness of squash. I thought the fontina cheese was lovely.  Reviews of this dish had people subbing mild and sharp cheddars.   Looking forward to leftovers! 
3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
photo from Better Homes and Gardens
8 ounces dried cavatappi or other elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup fat-free milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
2 slices reduced-sodium bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional**)
Thinly sliced green onions (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 2-quart rectangular baking dish [I ended up needing a 9x13 pan] with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a medium microwave-safe bowl combine squash and 2 Tbsp. water; cover with vented plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 4 minutes; stir. Microwave, covered, about 4 minutes more or until squash is tender. Carefully remove plastic wrap. Mash squash; set aside.   I cubed the squash, tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and baked for 30 min at 400*.   I did not mash, but left cubed.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In a medium saucepan heat butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and green onions. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mushroom mixture. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Add milk, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; stir in squash. Add pasta. Gently fold to combine.
  4. Transfer half of the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Add remaining pasta and cheese. Top with bacon, if desired. Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Top with additional green onions, If desired. 

Mexican Quinoa Salad  (Whole Foods Co-op, Duluth, MN; modified from The Gluten-Free Vegan)  
A recipe from the Mother, which she made for Christmas dinner.  I realized as I typed this that I forgot to rinse my quinoa.  Drat and bother.  I hope it it doesn't taste too bitter.  Oh well.  Otherwise, a very easy dish to make and easily made ahead of time.   I omitted the tomatoes because mine went bad.  I also think cherry tomatoes would be better in this dish than Roma.   The husband is less than thrilled about black beans, so I subbed navy.  I think any bean would compliment the flavors in the dish.  This can also be served cold, or warmed slightly.  Personal preference.  

This made enough for three lunches for two people. 

1 1/2 C water
1 C quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 C seeded and chopped red or yellow bell pepper
1 small diced jalapeno (optional)
1 small red onion or 2 green onions, chopped fine
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 15 oz can black beans (rinsed and drained) (I used navy beans
1/4 C fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 C salsa (any kind)
1 T canola oil
Juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
Heat water to a boil in a 2-quart sauce pan and add quinoa.  Lower the heat to medium-low and cover.  Cook until liquid is absorbed (15-20 minutes).  Remove from heat and chill. 
Combine peppers, onion, tomatoes, beans, cilantro, salsa, oil, lime juice, and cooled quinoa.  Toss well and chill before serving. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Green

Something from the Nightside (Nightside, #1)Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Green

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb:  John Taylor is not a private detective per se, but he has a knack for finding lost things. That's why he's been hired to descend into the Nightside, an otherworldly realm in the center of London where fantasy and reality share renting space and the sun never shines

Book #1 in a new-to me series, recommended by a fellow book group member.

This was interesting enough - despite the cliches and obvious riffs from other popular series - to want to read more.

The obvious cliches - it was a dark and stormy night and a beautiful, rich woman walks into our down-on-his-luck protagonists dive for an office in desperate need of a private investigator.  He's a sucker for a damsel in distress.  There will be kissing.  She even calls him "my Hero".

London has a darker, magical side. Not the first time an author has explored this - Neil Gaiman's, Neverwhere (1996) comes to mind.

It seemed every character we met has a name (Razor Eddie, Shotgun Suzie, the Collector) and our protagonist gives us a rather lengthy character biography as he explains each person to our damsel.

Basically, the book is a detective noir with a healthy dose of fantasy quest. 

But yet it all works.  Where the book redeems itself is how Green wraps everything up at the end.  Which I can't talk about because that would be a mega-spoiler.  I also found the use of each character having a "gift" interesting.  John has a mysterious past and parentage that keeps the sub-plot interesting and intriguing.  For a first book, the reader is thoroughly introduced to Nightside and it's quirks and quirky characters.   Hopefully the author can now build on this base rather than revisiting it in books to come.


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Monday, January 13, 2014

Recipe Review from 1/6/2013

Holiday break is over at the yoga studio and the Husband started his Bulls-eye league, all of which required a tiny shift in meal planning.  Sunday's are usually meal prep day and then we eat leftovers the rest of the week, maybe making one meal on Tuesday.  This actually works out pretty well.  It's soooo nice to be able to just warm up dinner and sit down to eat.

This year, I'm going to start sharing my menu planning, just for something different.  I like to note before or after work activities, which not only serves as a reminder that I (or the Husband) need to be somewhere, but helps me determine if I need to make something ahead of time.  Like Wednesday morning - I was subbing a 630am yoga class, so I need to be out the door before 5:45am.  Breakfast and lunches need to be pre-made the night before.   I usually do my grocery shopping Friday's after work so it's done for the weekend.   Lunches are made on Sunday for the week. 

The week was planned thusly:

Sunday (B) Pancake day!  (L) Soup and grilled cheese  (S)  Bacon and Leek Risotto
Monday   (S) Leftover Risotto
Tuesday (S) [Venison] Paprikash with Egg Noodles
Wednesday   (S) leftovers
Thursday (S) leftovers
Friday (S)  leftovers

Lunches: Black Bean, Corn and Barley Burritos (Ckng Light Slow Cooker), fritos, fruit, nuts, luna bars. 

And, the recipes!

Bacon and Leek Risotto  (Ckng Lght, Jan/Feb 2014) gluten free, vegetarian option**
I do love a creamy risotto!  I don't even mind making it - standing over a warm stove when the temps are subzero, yup, great way to stay warm!  I actually made this as written, except, I added some roasted butternut squash toward the end of cooking.  Mmmmm! 

Prep time, 50 minute plus. 
photo by
  • 5 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 bacon slices**  (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups thinly sliced leek (about 4 large)
  • 1/2 cup sliced shallots
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • I used 1 tsp dried thyme (store was out of fresh)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice  (lol!  I completely forgot this!)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  1. Bring stock and 2 cups water to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
  2. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add leek, shallots, thyme, and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in rice; cook 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup stock mixture; cook 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Reserve 1/3 cup stock mixture. Add remaining stock mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed before adding more (about 25 minutes total). Stir in lemon juice, butter, pepper, salt, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Remove pan from heat. Stir in reserved 1/3 cup stock mixture. Sprinkle with reserved bacon and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

[Vension] Paprikash with Egg Noodles  (Ckng Lght Jan/Feb 2014)
This came with a make-ahead option which we took advantage of - the pork (venison in our case) and sauce can be made ahead of time up to the adding of the sour cream.   The Husband actually did all the prep work and cooking since I was busy making the risotto.   So this dish was all set to go for later in the week!

Verdict?  Excellent!  Sauce was the perfect consistency and flavor was a wonderful balance of sweet and lightly smokey.  The only thing I think this was missing was some small mushrooms. 
  • 6 ounces uncooked egg noodles
  • 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
    photo by
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper (I used red)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (1/4 tsp dried)
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine  (just used 1/2 cup extra broth)
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  1. Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
  2. Sprinkle pork with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil; swirl to coat. Add pork; cook 4 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove pork from pan. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; sauté 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add flour, tomato paste, thyme, and paprika; sauté 30 seconds. Add wine; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add stock and vinegar; bring to a boil. Add pork; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until pork is tender. Remove pan from heat; stir in sour cream. Serve over noodles.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Small Favors by Jim Butcher (Dresden #10)

Small Favor (The Dresden Files, #10)Small Favor by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb:  No one's tried to kill Harry Dresden for almost an entire year, and his life finally seems to be calming down. For once, the future looks fairly bright. But the past casts one hell of a long shadow.

An old bargain has placed Harry in debt to Mab, monarch of the Winter Court of the Sidhe, the Queen of Air and Darkness-and she's calling in her marker. It's a small favor he can't that will trap Harry Dresden between a nightmarish foe and an equally deadly ally, and one that will strain his skills- and loyalties-to their very limits.

It figures. Everything was going too well to last...

Big action scene! Evil nasties are coming fast and they have automatic military grade rifles! A girl is in peril!  Blasting rod ready and magical shield is up!  Annnnddd.....PAUSE! while Harry reminisces about a past fight, explains who the bad guys are and where they came from, elaborates on what this particular spell is supposed to do and explains why he can't hit a girl.

Okay!  Hit resume!

I've got whiplash from the steady acceleration of an impending action scene and then the sudden stop while Harry explains, pontificates, or has a flashback.

The rest of the book is the standard Dresden standing up to the bad guys with a lot of help from his friends.  Except in this one, we get to see a plethora of evil bad guys and more of Dresden's friends, even some new ones.  We also have a total OMG! OMG! OMG! moment.  Which I can't talk about lest I spoil anything.  Despite my snarky comments, I was shoving the CD's as fast as I could into my car player. 

The Dresden books are a sugar-free, warm donut with white frosting and sprinkles hit just for the brain.  I need more donuts...

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Recipe Review from 12/30/13

Not a lot of new recipes to start the New Year - somehow we were a bit inundated with leftovers (Spicy Ham Soup, Slow Cooked Gumbo, and Chili), add in Christmas and New Years landing in the middle of the week...yeah, meal planning got a bit odd. 

With temperatures continuing to remain well below zero with windchills about the same, it's been hearty, warming meals for this house. 

Hope you're staying warm too!  

Quick Pastitsio (Ckng Lght, Oct 2011)  gluten free and vegetarian optional
This is simply a quick creamy pasta with beef or Italian sausage.  The beef/sausage could easily be eliminated and cubed roasted butternut squash or broccoli substituted.   Quick is relative; recipe stated it would take about 40 minute from start to finish and it took about 45 minutes from start to finish.  I did let it rest for about 5 minutes after removing from the broiler.  10 minutes would have been better.

Very few changes to note in this one, I made it pretty much as written except I used a mild Italian sausage (venison to be exact) and one 8oz brick of light cream cheese rather than the two varieties called for.  I just used the whole package of cream cheese - what am I going to do with 1 oz leftover?  I also added a dash of ground red pepper for a bit more 'adult' taste and zing.

This turned out creamy, nicely seasoned, and a hearty compliment for our chilly weather.  Perfect. 
photo from
  • 8 ounces uncooked penne (tube-shaped pasta)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion 
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups fat-free milk
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained 
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1 (3-ounce) package fat-free cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add beef to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove beef from pan; drain. Wipe pan clean with paper towels. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add beef; sprinkle with salt. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in milk, tomatoes, and cream cheeses, stirring until smooth; bring to a simmer. Cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in pasta.
  4. Spoon pasta mixture into a 13 x 9-inch broiler-safe baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over top. Broil 4 minutes or until golden. Sprinkle with parsley.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Drop Shot by Harlan Coben (Bolitar #2)

Drop Shot (Myron Bolitar, #2)Drop Shot by Harlan Coben

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb:  Valerie Simpson is a young female tennis star with a troubled past who's now on the verge of a comeback and wants Myron as her agent. Myron, who's also got the hottest young male tennis star, Duane Richwood, primed to take his first grand slam tournament, couldn't be happier. That is, until Valerie is murdered in broad daylight at the U.S. Open and Myron's number one client becomes the number one suspect.

Clearing Duane's name should be easy enough. Duane was playing in a match at the time of Valerie's death. But why is his phone number in Valerie's black book when he claims only to have known her in passing? Why was she calling him from a phone booth on the street? The police stop caring once they pin the murder on a man known for having stalked Valerie and seen talking to her moments before the murder. But Myron isn't satisfied. It seems too clean for him.

Myron pries a bit and finds himself prying open the past where six years before, Valerie's fiancee, the son of a senator, was brutally murdered by a juvenile delinquent and a straight-A student was subsequently gunned down on the street in retaliation, his death squandered in bureaucratic files. And everyone from the Senator to the mob want Myron to stop digging.

The truth beneath the truth is not only dangerous, it's deadly. And Myron may be the next victim.

I finished this in about a day; it was that enjoyable.  I would have preferred to have read this via audiobook, but my library didn't have it on CD.   Even so,  I was captivated by the mystery, amused by the witty dialog, and enjoyed the sports background.  The pages just flew by, interrupted occasionally by a laugh out loud moment and then having to read the paragraph to the Husband.  

The setting is the US Open.  Myron has an up and coming client who's slamming his way to the top.  A young tennis player is shot in the foot court - a young woman Myron was supposed to meet the next day.  This triggers an avalanche of secrets, threats, mystery and another murder.  Myron, with the help of the mysterious Win, sets forth to right wrongs.  Well, Myron wants to right the wrongs, Win has a different objective in mind...

Just a couple of minor complaints:  was this was awfully similar to book number one and I won't get more specific for fear of spoilers.  In this book, more characters seemed to affect the dry, witty, truncated dialog which I associated with Win and Myron.

My positives - as I believe I noted in Deal Breaker - I love the fact that our protagonist is not a cop or detective nor a depressed cop or detective.  We don't have the protagonist chasing tail - in fact, the romantic set up is actually very sweet and I usually don't say that.  I love the dialog.  I love the TV show/movie/play game the characters have going on.  I love the air mystery surrounding Win; in some ways, Win is a bit more intriguing than Myron.   The two characters balance each other well.  I could go on, but will say instead, go read these! 

Highly recommended if you like mystery, sports, and witty dialog.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Year in Review - 2013!

For the last several years, I've done a Year In Review.  A way for me to look back at places I visited, books read, recipes reviewed, paths hiked and miles biked.  2013 was busy as usual:

Lonestar Con! Worldcon 2013

Edisto Island, South Carolina

New Books Finished  (Novels, Novellas, Novelettes, Short Stories)
2013 - 98 (27878 pages)

2012 - 129  (31079 pages)
2011 - 115  (29456 pages) 
2010 – 80   (21848 pages)
2009 – 45   (16094 pages)
2008 – 45   (14456 pages)

New Recipes Tried
Photo from
2013 -  125
Orange Buttermilk Pancakes!  Mmmm...

2012 -100 
2011 - 95
2010 – 82
2009 - 92
2008 - 129
2007 - 120
2006 - 103
2005 - 137
2004 - 143
2003 - 154

Miles Biked:
2013 - 300 road (628 spin miles - yes, higher spin than road. Very sad.)

2012 -  572.5 road  (568 spin)
      Heartland Trail, MN - 38 miles
      Badger State Trail, WI - 56 miles
      Mesabi Trail Ride, MN - 68 miles
2011 - 470 road  (755 spin)
      Menominee River Century - 50  miles
      Mesabi Trail Ride - 50 miles
2010 – 701 personal best!
      Split Rock Century (my first!) - 100
2009- 250

Miles Hiked:
2013 -20 (Hike Leaders or Naturalists on all three...)

2012 - 20
2011  - 40+   
2010  - 48

 Knitting Projects completed (Ravelry Links):
The Nephew in his new hat! 

6 Hats (four Norwegian Earflap Hats, one Skunk hat, one I Heart Cables)
1 Knitty Coquille Scarf
1 pair Leafy Fingerless Gloves
1 Clockwork Scarf, modified
1 pair Dustland Mits
Bag! Your It! Bags
2 Bring Your Own Bag(s)
1 Drop Stitch Scarf   in blue
5 (6?) Cup Cozies

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