Monday, October 28, 2013

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: Horns by Joe Hill

Joe Hill

Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples.
At first Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.
Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.
But Merrin's death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside. . . .

William Morrow


Rosy's scrawlings on Horns
I bought this book prior to the movie but read it after. I haven't, however, seen the movie at all and I think I'd like to keep it that way. Not for the movie possibly lacking but for liking the way I imagined the characters as is. That and I feel that some of the psychological tension may be lost for more straight horror in the interpretation. I'm sure I'll see the movie at some point, given that the hubby collects horror movies like I collect books, and I doubt I'll be disappointed but I am expecting quite a few differences. In cases such as The Hitchhiker's series I've no problem with changes but normally I tend to hold on to whichever I run across first for a while, letting it simmer in the mind, before approaching a new version.
Horns is a story that falls squarely into horror but after that it is a blend of murder mystery, paranormal horror and psychological thriller. The story is divided into sections and time distorted much like a Tarantino film, except with fewer manipulations (no-one divides up time quite like Tarantino). With all these elements in play the story takes a little while to build up. I personally found some sections far more engaging than others, either due to the pace or the sub-genre of the section. I suspect others will feel the same but may prefer different sections to those I picked. For me, the psychological sections were less engaging as I've read and watched many a thriller with a sociopath or psychopath - they have become the main way killers are written nowadays despite their numbers in real life being less that your plain old greedy or hateful criminal. I rather preferred the paranormal elements, which largely left me guessing what was about to happen purely because I've not run across quite this type of paranormal story before. Demons and angels and gods and devils abound in paranormal fiction, sure, but the paranormal parts of Horns do have an intriguingly different take on such characters. As to the murder mystery, while you don't have to wait until the end to find out who did it, seeing the mystery through Ig's eyes is more than enough to keep you satisfied. In all, I found that the blend of genres and sub-genres was really well done as it keeps you reading, even when certain sections slow the pace. There are, however, times when you might want to skim a section to reach the bit you're most interested in. I don't suggest doing so though. Just keep on reading. You'll appreciate doing so when the story wraps up.
The writing style is smooth, vivid and colourful, making it easy to imagine what's happening in the story despite the blending of several genres and sub-genres. Characterisation, emotions and motivations play a large role in tying the story together and these also happen to be the most interesting aspects of the story. The actual horns and the other changes to Ig's physical form are fun to follow though, as is the mystery of the moon. All in all I'd say this book is a fun, engaging book well worth reading.

I'd recommend this book to: lovers of horror, psychology, murder fiction, as well as those interested in christian mythology, demons and devils. I'd also suggest this book for anyone interesting in reading horror for the first time as the blend of genres allows for an easy leap into the paranormal.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Allergy free chocolate sour cream cake recipe

  • 2 cups Orgran self-raising flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 110g lactose free butter or Nuttlex
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsps Orgran No egg whisked with 160mls water until thick
  • 2 tbsp low fat lactose free cow's milk or goat's milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 250mls lactose free cream
  • 2 tsps lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tbsp icing sugar

  • Preheat oven to 180°C. 
  • Spray the inside of a cake or loaf pan with olive oil spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour and cocoa powder.
  • In the separate bowl cream the butter or Nuttlex and the sugar.
  • Add the No Egg mixture and beat until combined.
  • Stir through the milk and vanilla essence.
  • In a small bowl, quickly whisk together the cream, lemon juice  and salt to make sour cream (will not thicken further).
  • Stir the butter mixture and sour cream into the flour mixture.
  • Pour the cake mix into the cake pan and spread evenly.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Allow the cake cool for 15 minutes then invert the pan and remove the cake.
  • Let the cake cool completely.
  • Place the icing sugar in a sieve, shake the sugar over the cake and serve.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R King

The Beekeeper's Apprentice
Laurie R King

1915. The great detective Sherlock Holmes is retired and quietly engaged in the study of honey bees when a young woman literally stumbles into him on the Sussex Downs. Fifteen years old, gawky, egotistical, and recently orphaned, the young Mary Russell displays an intellect to impress even Sherlock Holmes - and match him wit for wit. Under his reluctant tutelage, this very modern twentieth-century woman proves a deft protegee and a fitting partner for the Victorian detective. In their first case together, they must track down a kidnapped American senator's daughter and confront a truly cunning adversary - a bomber who has set trip-wires for the sleuths and who will stop at nothing to end their partnership.

Allison & Busby


Rosy's scrawlings on The Beekeeper's Apprentice
Just a short note on when I read this, how long it took and its perfection as the book to read at the time. I first started this book, a paragraph at a time, in hospital while caring for my new bub. I didn't manage to read much, as you'd imagine, and so the pattern continued for about a week. After that I read a few pages at a time during the midnight and early morning hours while feeding my bub and waiting for him to calm and drop off to sleep. And recently I've managed to read a few pages to a chapter at a time. 2 and a bit months later I've finished the book and have to say I couldn't have picked a better one for broken reading patterns, a reasonable level of stress and weariness, not to mention the general attention deficit parenting causes. High praise indeed considering I couldn't find another book in my rather large collection that would have done the trick of entertaining me, being highly memorable in minute detail and easily read in whatever portion manageable.
The Beekeeper's Apprentice is an interesting piece of crime fiction, especially given the dual trends towards violent murders and serial killings as well as homey neighbourhood crime watch stories. Instead of either, the story focuses on a series of crimes - kidnap through to attempted murder - and the detective work needed to solve them. Crime and detection divide the story into separate books in a manner that is reflective of Conan Doyle's style when writing the Sherlock Holmes stories. The flow of action, inclusive of Holmes' famous abductive and deductive reasoning, is quick but the steady pace by which information is divulged keeps the story as calm and thoughtful as it is dramatic. New to stories involving Sherlock Holmes are several issues regarding the sexes, which are neatly woven into the text. This might seem odd at first but these issues add depth both to the story and to Holmes' character, making him more instead of unbearably warping him. I believe this was made possible by the original Holmes simply not addressing or thinking on women much at all. Unless it was concerning a case.
On the issue of Sherlock Holmes' character, he retains all the essential personality traits and habits, including the violin playing and penchant for costumes and wild studies, but in The Beekeeper's Apprentice he is an aged version and with his age comes some mellowing. But only some. He also has a desire to find and groom his detective successor. As a representation of the original Sherlock there's more than enough to keep the fans of Conan Doyle's works happy. And as an added bonus, Sherlock isn't represented in first person but remains one to be looked upon and studied carefully, this time by Mary Russell who is his pupil and successor.
Unlike other books I'll leave all but the blurb and the beginning of the story (Mary Russell becoming Holmes' pupil) from the review for the very reason that if I mention one too many facts I might well destroy the delightful progression of the story. This is one book that needs to be read with only Conan Doyle's works as reference, if you'd like (the story would be enjoyable without reading of Sherlock in his original format, however). Avoiding in-depth blurbs is highly advisable as clues are dropped as soon as the case begins while the mood and mindset is set right from the beginning.

I'd recommend this book to: those who love stories on Sherlock Holmes and don't mind limited adjustments and progressions to his original character, crime and historical fiction as well as books with a mild, considering mood.