Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Book Review: Iron Gold (Red Rising #4) by Pierce Brown

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

Published: January 16, 2018

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Hardcover Pages: 624

Synopsis: They call him father, liberator, warlord, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the pale blue planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-second of his life. 

A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever: A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe, and Iron Gold is the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown.

Thoughts: I loved Red Rising, and though I enjoyed the two other books in the series, neither of them quite lived up to that first debut in the same way. They were still really good, just different and not quite as page-turning. Iron Gold is in that camp for me. It took me almost 40% through to finally really get into it. Why's that, you wonder?

Well, my goodman, you really need to give yourself a refresher on who was who from the first series to really jump into this one, which I did not. So I was reading stuff going now wait who is this and how are they connected to everything? I never did pause to go back and get a brief overview, and eventually I placed everyone as best I could based on the little I truly remember and what was happening in this book.

The biggest difference between this series and the original is the multiple character perspectives. Darrow was the sole narrator in the first series, but here his story is split up with three new characters - Lyria, Ephraim, and Lysander. Lysander technically we met before, but he was just a young kid. So for the most part, these are all entirely new characters to get into and start caring about, and it took a bit of time for me, personally. Eventually, though, some of their stories start to intersect in unexpected ways, and that's when things really pick up.

What's great about this whole series in general is that while it takes place in the future amidst many planets of the solar system, it still is very human. Though there is this whole system of colored classes of people, it's really just a take on current society and people of different classes - racial, monetary, etc. It's very human and relevant while being chockfull of action.

Basically, if you liked the original series, you're going to like this one. And if you're into well-written science fiction with a lot of action and intrigue, then I recommend you pick up Red Rising and get to reading. They're long, but they're worth it.

Rating: 4/5

What I'm Reading Next: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Supernatural 13x19 "Funeralia"

I'll be honest, I forgot about the whole Rowena getting a lot of power thing from earlier in the season. So, I suppose the beginning of the episode recap this time was actually helpful, ha! Though they do almost always give away who's going to show up in that episode. But yes, this is a Rowena episode, as if that was a question.

Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester and Ruth Connell as Rowena in Supernatural 13x19 "Funeralia"Basically, the boys call up Rowena to try to get her help in getting Mary and Jack back from the other side and to stop the other Michael, and oh right Lucifer, etc. She's not into it, as she's busy killing people, as well as reapers. Yep, reapers. Which is upsetting the natural order of things, so a reaper shows up to tell Sam and Dean that she's been watching them and kind of says she can help if needed, except at the same time states that the leader of the reapers, lady Death herself, doesn't want them to get their hands dirty, so not sure how she can really help?

Meanwhile, Castiel wants to go ask the angels for their help, only something fishy is going on in Heaven. He is welcomed rather easily rather than the usual violent ways, and once in Heaven things are...off. The lights are flickering and the angels are acting cagey. Not sure where Lucifer is supposed to be during this time, but he's not there, apparently. Oh and that angel who tortured Cas some seasons ago is now alive again. Naomi? Who knows. The situation boils down to this - there are only 9 angels left, and as they are the only things powering Heaven, it's slowly shutting down. They can't help Cas unless he gets Gabriel to come power up Heaven.

Kayla Stanton as Jessica and Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester in Supernatural 13x19 "Funeralia"
Alright, back to the Rowena stuff. Why is she killing reapers? Apparently she's had a change of heart since taking in all of that power, and doesn't want to do evil anymore, but rather wants to give her son Crowley aka Fergus another chance at life, so she's been killing reapers to try to get Death to have an audience with her. Only it's not working. But what will work? Maybe if she kills Sam! Why would that work? Not just because he's a Winchester. Nope, the reaper that's been following them around tells them that Rowena's death always happens by the hand of one person. You guessed it - Mr. Sam Winchester himself.

Death finally shows herself once Rowena gets to torturing Sam, but she won't be bringing anyone back from the dead. Rowena breaks down and blah blah, tears, blah blah, she wants to be redeemed, blah blah. So yeah we'll be seeing more of her, I suspect. One thing that she has going for her is that even though Lucifer is back, she knows he's not going to be the one to kill her, so it takes some of the fear away. But why will Sam kill her eventually? Time will tell, as time is all this show has, apparently, seeing as it has been renewed for season 14.

Random Thoughts:

- Some zippy dialogue in this one, then I realized that the writer of this episode wrote two of my top 5 from last season. Noice!

- I also only just noticed that the angels besides Castiel now all seem to wear a lot of gray. I feel like that has not always been the case, but then again I'm only just now noticing, so who knows.

Quotes:

Rowena: The handsome angel is there, isn't he? Hello, tweety pie.
Castiel: Um. Hello.

Castiel: You know she's right, you never go to parties.

Sam: You've been hovering invisible around us like a babysitter?
Jessica: More like a baby monitor.

Jessica: Have you ever heard of the butterfly effect?
Dean: Ashton's second best movie.

Rowena: Are only Winchesters allowed to come back from the dead?

Previous Episode

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Gouda Grits and Shrimp

Recently, I was down in the San Diego area and ended up having one of the best brunches of my life at Breakfast Republic. Like, for real. The place was packed, but we walked right in and got a place at the bar, which is probably very unheard of. We then proceeded to share two of the most delicious meals ever - the mascarpone and strawberry french toast, and the shrimp and grits breakfast.

Now, what I've made below isn't as good as their shrimp and grits, but when you don't have a Breakfast Republic in your area, you've got to make do with some homemade stuff.

Recipe for Gouda Grits and Shrimp by freshfromthe.com.

You could just make the shrimp and grits with the corn and call it good, but you could go the extra distance and make your life even better by adding some fried eggs. Just look at that yolk run...

Recipe for Gouda Grits and Shrimp by freshfromthe.com.

Now, I didn't actually have corn on the cob to use as the recipe calls for. I ended up just using some frozen corn and cooking it in the skillet in some butter with some salt and pepper after I did the shrimp, so that's totally an option if you don't have corn on the cob either.

What's also nice is that this is really a very simple recipe to make. Grits? Super easy. Shrimp? Also easy. And the eggs? Well, don't you know it, those are easy too! The only thing that really took time for me was defrosting the shrimp and cleaning the skillet in between (the woes of only having one skillet) the shrimp and the eggs.

Recipe for Gouda Grits and Shrimp by freshfromthe.com.

Seriously, though, if you're in the San Diego area, get yourself to a Breakfast Republic! You won't be disappointed. Well, maybe you'll be annoyed by the wait, but not by the food. Otherwise, make some shrimp and grits at home and get a little bit of the experience!

Write recipe photo description here

Add a fried egg to cheesy grits and shrimp with a touch of spice, and you've got an irresistible breakfast or brunch!

Ingredients:
    for the grits
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup quick-cooking grits
  • 8 ounces gouda cheese, grated
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 ears grilled sweet corn, cut from the cob

  • for the shrimp
  • 1 pound raw peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • optional eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, cut into four cubes and chilled
Instructions:

    for the grits
  1. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Once boiling add in the grits, reduce heat, and stir until fully mixed. Cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for a couple minutes.
  2. Stir in the gouda, salt, and pepper. You can add more salt and pepper if needed, depending on your tastes!

  3. for the shrimp
  4. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Once dry, season with the salt, pepper, paprika, and chili powder. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter. Once it begins to sizzle, add half the shrimp and cook on both sides until pink and cooked through. When the shrimp is finished cooking, stir in half the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Remove to a plate and repeat for the second half of the shrimp.
  5. You could stop here and serve up the gouda grits with the shrimp and grilled corn on top, or you could go a step further and add some fried eggs. Trust me, it makes it way better.

  6. for the fried eggs
  7. Heat oil in a large skillet over low heat for five minutes. Meanwhile, crack 2 eggs into a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Do the same with the other two eggs in a separate bowl.
  8. Increase heat to medium and heat until oil is shimmering. Add the butter and swirl to coat the pan. Quickly pour 1 bowl of eggs in one side of the pan, and the other bowl in the other side of the pan. Cover and cook for 1 minute. Remove skillet from burner and let stand, covered, for 15-45 seconds for runny yolks, 45-60 for soft but set yolks, or 2 minutes for medium-set yolks. Serve on top of your shrimp and grits for extra yummy richness.
Recipe adapted from How Sweet Eats and Cooks Country

Recipe for Gouda Grits and Shrimp by freshfromthe.com.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Supernatural 13x18 "Bring 'em Back Alive"

Man alive does this show like to draw out storylines. I get it, they have like 23 episodes a season now to deal with, so it's a bit inevitable, but sheeeeeeeesh. Can you imagine how much better show might be if it were half as many episodes? Sigh.

David Haydn-Jones as Mr. Ketch and Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester in Supernatural 13x18 "Bring 'em Back Alive"Yeah basically, you're thinking oh Dean and Ketch have 24 hours to find Mary and Jack and bring them back, finally this storyline might have some movement. And that... does not happen. At all. Instead, they digress the entire episode because it turns out that Apocalypse World has its own version of Charlie, and Dean and Ketch just happen to see her getting taken by some angels, so because Dean is feeling all guilty about how she died the first time around, he's hellbent on saving her this time.

Blah blah, he gets shot, Ketch gives him some poison antidote, they bond a little as they walk endlessly for hours, and finally are able to save Charlie from the angels. They get back to the rift before it closes, but only Dean heads back through, so Ketch can help prepare to fight Michael, and because this Charlie would prefer to stay and fight her fight. But, you're thinking, this will be okay because now that they have Gabriel, they have the Archangel grace they need to keep opening rifts, right?

Well, no, like, duh. Because meanwhile back in "our" world, Gabriel is not doing so hot, despite Sam and Cas trying to help him out. Eventually they get him to take back his grace and come out of his trance-like state, but as soon as he powers up a little, Asmodeus is able to detect him since he's been sucking down his grace like some kind of steroids. He comes to collect his prize, only Gabriel decides he's ready to fully power up now, and kills ole Asmo right then and there. Ka-poofy.

Richard Speight Jr. as Gabriel and Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester in Supernatural 13x18 "Bring 'em Back Alive" Sam and Cas explain the whole situation with the other worlds and whatnot, but Gabe is having none of this hero stuff. He'd rather do what he did the first time around and just go off to parts unknown and stuff his face in porn star boobies. And because he's an archangel, there's not much that Cas and Sam can do to stop him, so poof he goes. Dean is none too happy to find this out when he gets back, of course.

And in our final meanwhile of the episode, we peek in on what's happening up in Heaven. Basically Lucifer isn't doing much yet still expects the angels to worship him. Jo is annoyed that he's not trying to turn things around like he said he would and basically tells him that he's a loser. I mean, really, that's pretty much all there is to that story. He says that the humans complain and whine too much when, let's be honest, he does much the same.

Random Thoughts:

- I mean, I like Charlie and all, but she was fun because she got to be the light in the darkness of the stuff, and now she's just like in straight up hero mode as this other version of herself, and.... color me meh about that.

- Are they really going to wait all the way until the finale to have Lucifer and Jack meet face to face? At this rate it seems so. This is the thing that has really bothered me about these last seasons. I mean, maybe it was like that in the beginning too and I just noticed it less, but the dragging out of storylines is just insane.

Quotes:

Lucifer: If he said scour the earth, they'd say SOS or Brillo.

Castiel (reading): I did what anyone would do, I went to Monte Carlo and shacked up with porn stars... He goes on and on for awhile about porn stars.

Dean: You guys are such dicks.
Ketch: Yes, well, guilty.

Dean: Impossible and stupid, huh? You say that like it's a bad thing.

Gabriel: Oh by the way, I always hated that dumbass suit.

Previous Episode -- Next Episode

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Supernatural 13x17 "The Thing"

After last week's diversion into the world of Scooby Doo, tonight's episode delved back into the main alternate worlds plot of the season. The Winchesters are looking for everything on their list to complete the ritual to open the portal back to Apocalypse World, and find a lead for where the Seal of Solomon might be. At least, that's what I think was happening in the first few minutes. Guys, I'm gonna be straight with you, I was only half paying attention to the beginning of this episode. Did that matter? Not really!
Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester, Magda Apanowicz as Sandy and Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester in Supernatural 13x17 "The Thing"
Anywhoooo, the guys find this secret underground bunker that looks very much like their own bunker, and come upon a room full of books, Sam's favorite thing. But when Sam gets clumsy and knocks over some stuff to just essentially make sure some noise was made in this particular situation (I mean honestly, are the guys ever this clumsy?), they hear a woman calling out for help. Turns out, it's this woman from the opening scene we saw where some dudes in robes were opening a rift with that Seal of Solomon deal, and some tentacles came tumbling out of it. Only that happened in the early 1900s, so how is this lady still alive?

Well, only way to find that out is to take her to a local diner where a waitress gets a bunch of lines, so we know they must be staying here for some length of the episode. Indeed, it just so happens that the man cooking the food at this diner has a men of letters symbol (right? I think that's what the symbol was) tattooed on him, and he along with some of his brethren were holding the girl on purpose. Why's that? We'll come to find out soon enough, after much scuffling and Sam getting taken by these people, that they are the descendants of the men of letters who opened that rift oh so many moons ago, and basically they unleashed this god into this woman's body and have been holding her captive ever since. They said why they opened it, but honestly who cares.

Jeffrey Vincent Parise as Asmodeus and Richard Speight Jr. as Gabriel in Supernatural 13x17 "The Thing"SO, the tentacle god creature needs food and wants a mate, and wouldn't you know it, she's taken a liking to Dean, so she takes him back to the bunker to summon her mate to take over his body. Yada yada, Sam and the others show up in time to close the rift before she can do that, only her tentacle being also takes her back into the other world with it, because that's just so nice and neat of it to do, so they don't have to worry about killing a thing they haven't been able to kill for over 100 years. But hey, now they have the Seal that they needed to open the rift. The last thing they need? An archangel's grace! Wherever will they get such a thing?! Hmmmmmmmmm.....

Why, from Gabriel of course. Asmodeus summons Ketch for who knows why, and Ketch happens to see ole Asmo snacking on Gabriel's grace. After much brouhaha over Ketch basically being Asmodeus' bitch until further notice, Ketch decides he's not so into that deal and steals away Gabriel along with the archangel blade and the leftover bits of Gabe's grace that Asmodeus had already extracted.

Ketch brings Gabe back to the Winchesters as a way to make peace and ask for their protection when Asmodeus comes looking for him. The boys are baffled that Gabe is still alive, but Dean is like whatevs bro, let's get this show on the road, and gets all ready to open up the rift. Sam wants to go with him, but Dean tells him to stay behind with the angel, while Ketch goes with him instead. Sam is not so happy about this plan, and this is where I'm like where the heck is Castiel, and why wouldn't they call him to go with Dean? But whatever, logic.

Random Thoughts:

- What was the point of Dean putting those goofy sticky notes on Sam's back in the beginning when they are essentially just hanging out together alone in the bunker?

- For real, though. Wait, did I just miss in the beginning part where they said where Cas was? I honestly could've, ha. But if not, then seriously, it makes no sense that Dean would take Ketch, particularly seeing as how his mom really hates him and would be the last person she would trust in the other world.

- Lots of plot conveniences here. One, the dude at the diner just happened to be one of the people guarding the god thing, and just happened to keep a big knife of him, and the other god just happened to grab up his mate and take her back to the other world. Okay, then.

- I always get annoyed when the Winchesters get bested in any kind of fighting, particularly when it's by humans and not monsters, seeing as they've had a lot of training over the years. Whoever these men of letters types were, I don't think they would've had as much training as the boys, but whatever.

Quotes:

Dean: Jinkies.
Sam: You're never going to stop saying that, are you?
Dean: I don't know, probably not.

Waitress: String bean. I thought you were dead.
Sam: Not yet.

Dean: Oh my god, that's tragic. It's like a Hallmark movie, but with tentacles.

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