Out To Dinner – 35th Birthday

The one thing I wanted for my birthday this year was for the husband’s family to make the trek out from Orlando to go out to dinner at Bern’s Steakhouse with us. I wanted to spend time with people and have a fantastic meal.

Note: Most pics are enlarge-able by clicking them.

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There is a dress code there, but not too severe so we put on our business causal best and headed out! When you arrive at Bern’s it’s always a little disorienting because it’s so dark inside the lobby. We always make the joke that it’s like the Haunted Mansion at Disneyworld.

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Once everyone in our party was there (at 5pm sharp!) we were seated and prepared to make our selections. We also ordered drinks. Cosmopolitan for meeeee.

We decided to get a cheese plate, which came with olives, mushrooms, and toasted bread, but I forgot to take a picture of it and then it was gone (sorry Paige :-(). Also it turns out the Cheese Cave is not a place you can actually go. Really the cheese brought disappointment but it was very tasty.

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Left to right: Sisters in law Sarah, Stephanie, and Stephanie’s husband Ariel.

Every entree at Bern’s comes with soup, salad, baked potato, fried onions, and vegetables. First comes the French Onion Soup covered in a trio of cheeses. It was accompanied by small garlic bread and regular bread, lightly toasted.

Then came the salad, which I forgot to take a picture of but who even cares because it’s salad.

Then came the entrees and the baked potatoes. I chose to have my steak accompanied by a side of LOBSTER because I am a baller and a shot caller. Also my steak was actually medium – what they do is they recommend that couples get a steak for two, and then they can cook each half the way each person wants it. I wanted medium and the husband wanted medium rare, and I think when the waiter cut it to serve at the table he caught the edge of Scott’s on mine. It was a little more on the rare side than I would have liked but I ate it all and it was delicious. My eyes said NO TOO RARE but my mouth was like “give us more of that.”

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Everyone got something that they absolutely enjoyed. The baked potatoes came with sour cream, whipped butter, bacon, and chives, and the waiter made them for us at our table.

After dinner we went on a tour of the kitchens and the wine cellar. The wine cellar holds enough bottles of wine to have a different label every night for 22 years and never drink the same wine twice. There is also a bottle that goes for $30,000 (a merlot I think?) but really it’s an impressive collection and considered the largest collection in the world.

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The bottle in the box on the floor in the upper left is the $30,000 bottle of wine. This is the part of the cellar where the most expensive bottles are kept so they are behind glass.

After taking a walk through the cool wine cellar, we were escorted to the stairs which led to the upstairs Harry Waugh Dessert Room. The dessert room is made up of several private booths, completely walled in with a small door on each side. You can pipe in any kind of music you’d like, including the live piano music happening at the center of the room.

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We all ordered some “drinks with spirit” – I had a mint chocolate coffee with mint liqueurs.

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Then we ordered our desserts. I did end up getting the Framboise Chocolate Decadence: Chocolate, macadamia nuts, raspberry, and whipped cream.

The rest of the family got an assortment of desserts, including a HUGE hot fudge sundae for Sarah, and a banana split for my father in law Jim. He got to choose 3 different flavors of ice cream to include on his split! There are many flavors to choose from.

The husband got a Baked Alaska, which arrived at the table on fire. Check out the Facebook group for a video!

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Overall it was a really enjoyable evening. Jim cleared every plate in front of him, and made the joke that everything was so terrible that he had to eat it all so other people wouldn’t be subjected to it. There were lots of smiles all around, and I think that they were glad they made the trip.

Special thanks to Maggie S, whose $50 gift card helped to provide my side of lobster and coffee with spirit at dessert!

Happy 35th birthday to me! I’m almost 40! ūüôā

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror

Merry Spinster

New release 3-13-2018

Here at Angry Angel Books the question I get asked all the time is “Why are you angry? What are you angry at?” Honestly I have a lot of trouble answering this question in the moment, but really the answer is more open and generalized. I want to float in on my amazing Victoria’s Secret wings and be angry¬†with you. I want to vent about anything¬†you¬†are angry about and offer to seek out vengeance with you. Nothing makes me feel more happy and powerful than commiserating with other people, complaining, and then getting angry at a common enemy. That feels so fucking good.

Tangentially I think my anger is about so many themes that are prominent right now: equality of all kinds, safety, sexual and medical freedoms. I am angry that these things don’t exist for everyone, and that anger (and to be honest, fear too) motivates me to stay focused and keep writing, specifically about how the books I am reading could help grow understanding on these issues and bring not only enjoyment but action as well.

Now let’s talk about, and to, Daniel Mallory Ortberg.

Dearest Daniel how did you write fairy tales and children’s stories in exactly the way my soul feels at this moment in history? My spirit looked exactly like the thing in the cover art as I devoured the stories of characters that GET THEIRS. You wrote how we should GO FOR IT instead of coping or dealing with it and, more importantly, MAKE THEM PAY if necessary.

This collection of rewritten stories made me feel like I could get not only what I desired, but also the revenge that I am owed. AND I AM OWED.

This is a collection of stories for adult women who want to just be ANGRY, but in a constructive way?

I’m not doing this book justice in any way. I just…I just enjoyed it. I enjoyed it like the wicked queen probably enjoyed watching Snow White fall after taking the bite out of the poisoned apple. I enjoyed it like I enjoyed watching Sam Nunberg flop about on MSNBC last week. This collection scratched an itch so deep in my soul that I felt only satisfaction at the conclusion of each story.

After a few I whispered to myself: Fuck yes.

Let this book shock you. Let this book entertain you. Let this book take you to a place where you are out for YOU and fuck everyone else.

Go get you some.

An American Marriage

An American Marriage

New release 2-6-18

I put this ebook on hold at the library on February 5th and I just got access on the 28th so I was very excited get started on it. I only had 14 days of access so starting right away was very important.

I wrote a very critical review of The Hate U Give last year. This book has been on the NYT bestseller list forever and has received critical acclaim from reviewers and casual readers alike. I think there is a movie or tv show in the works too. This is all fabulous for Angie Thomas. My two critiques of the book boiled down to (1) this is too much stuff to cram into one girl’s experience and still accept it as realistic and (2) it was too obvious when Thomas made her characters sidebar out of the action to “learn you” on something that was important in black life in America. So while her message is important and informational, the delivery of that message left much to be desired, at least to an adult who likes to stay informed.

Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage is everything I wanted The Hate U Give to be and more, which probably speaks to the expected reader level of THUG versus An American Marriage more than anything. Jones explores most of the same themes, but couches them in a realistic, devastating scenario, and challenges you to understand all of the points of view and motivations of all the characters at once.

A man is wrongly convicted of rape and imprisoned only a year and a half into his marriage, and is kept in prison for almost 5 years before his conviction is overturned and he is released. That’s the core that the entire story is woven around. We learn about black relationships: romantic ones, familial ones, friendships, and racial bonds. What is a father? What is a wife? What is fidelity? When is being true to yourself at once both a betrayal of your promise to another person but also the right thing to do?

It is almost impossible for me to write this review. The story is compelling, smart, terrifying, and infuriating in turns, and it is next to impossible to choose a side. Everyone should get what they want but if they do then everyone also loses, but in losing they win the power to move forward? GOD THIS BOOK IS SO INTRICATE AND COMPLICATED. It is a perfect representation of the complications faced by black Americans every day.

Jones has allowed us a window into the anxiety that is simply existing as black in America, and if you don’t understand what that’s all about, especially in the American South, you should go read this book immediately and ask yourself how you could possibly navigate the existence of any of these people and not come out on the other side irreversibly damaged in some way. And perhaps more importantly, after you’ve imagined this, do more than just use the damage of black lives as entertainment and find a way to do your part to move our country in a direction where these injustices no longer happen.

Holy shit this book was so good and so important to read. Go get you some.

Happiness

Happiness

New Release 3-6-18

Happiness by Aminatta Forna as provided to me by Grove Atlantic/Atlantic Monthly Press via NetGalley and Edelweiss in return for an honest review.

It has been a long time since I have read a book that I suspected I would like, and then come to find out that it just wasn’t what I expected. I requested Happiness as an ARC because its descriptions on all the “most anticipated books of 2018” lists made it sound like a deep, enthralling novel.

I loved the descriptions in Forna’s writing. Her setting and characters are so vividly described that I have no trouble picturing them. I can taste the food, see the parakeets fluttering, hear the foxes and rabbits crying and screaming. Her writing is gorgeous and should be converted to an oil painting to be displayed for all to see.

Unfortunately this is one of those books where I gave myself until 30% on the Kindle, and then gave myself permission to give up. The writing and language could not save the fact that I did not care about what was happening. I am certain that if I had continued to read everything and everyone that was involved with whatever it was that was happening in the city of London in this book would have been brought together in a grand finish that displays the puzzle in a bright light, allowing you to finally see how all the pieces connect, how all the players mattered to the central idea.

The problem is that I read to escape. I read to be strung along, to be fed at least a few breadcrumbs along the way to make me curious to read more. You can bore me in the first 30% but if you give me¬†just enough to make me wonder, then you’ll hook me for at least another 20%, and by then I’ll know for sure if I’ll finish or set your story aside.

I am not interested in Attila, the Ghanaian native whose ex(?) is in a home in London due to early onset Alzheimer’s. I’m not interested in Jean, the scientist studying the behaviors of urban foxes and creating wild rooftop spaces for landlords in London. I don’t understand why it’s important that these two people have found each other and by the time you throw in that Attila’s niece and her son have been apprehended by immigration authorities and her son becomes lost and they go to find him…I don’t know, man, I just don’t care. There isn’t enough connective tissue here, it just feels like someone is throwing story ideas at a wall to see what sticks.

By 30-50% I should have an idea of the characters, what their individual purposes are, how they relate to one another, and what the overarching goal of the plot line seems to be. By 30% I should be at cruising altitude and about to be offered a drink from the cart. I shouldn’t be wondering if I’m on the wrong plane, or where my seat is, or why I’m on this trip at all.

So while the writing was spectacularly descriptive and enjoyable in its own right, the journey was not clear enough to hook me into the rest of the book. You might try it to see if it’s more your cup of tea, but for me it’s a not so much. Sorry.

 

I’ll Be Your Blue Sky

Blue Sky

New Release 3-6-18

I’ll Be Your Blue Sky was provided as an ARC by William Morrow/Harper Collins via Edelweiss in return for an honest review. My thanks for their generosity because this is one of my favorite authors.¬†

I absolutely love Marisa de los Santos. I read two of her other novels before starting this blog, Love Walked In and Belong to Me, and each one was as comforting and warm as I’ll Be Your Blue Sky was.

It only took me two days to read this book, and that was only because I had things like teaching or sleeping to do. If I had a choice I would have read this book straight through in one day. Reading this story was like wrapping a warm blanket around myself and bringing a cup of hot chocolate with those little marshmallows with me to my favorite chair near the window to watch the snow fall gently outside. That’s saying something considering I live in Florida and it has decided to be 90 degrees in March.

This book switches back and forth from Clare to Edith. Clare is in present day, getting ready to marry Zach, and she has some misgivings. Edith is in the 1950s with her husband, buying a house and getting ready to start a life with the man she loves.

The morning of her wedding, Clare sits down next to an old woman named Edith who is also at the home where the wedding is being held. Clare shares that she feels nervous to marry Zach, that she might be making a mistake based on how hard he has to try to be a good person. Edith tells her that every woman deserves to be with someone who doesn’t make her afraid.

This is exactly what she needed to hear, and Clare decides to call off the wedding. When she does, we discover how mean Zach could really be and are thankful that she was able to make that break for herself.

Edith loses her husband to cancer after only two years of marriage, and finds herself alone in a small town in the 1950s, something women just didn’t do. She is approached by a man named George, who asks for her help with an underground railroad for battered women, because her house is the perfect cover, since she has been renting out her rooms to vacationers.

A lawyer contacts Clare, informing her that Edith has passed away and has left her Blue Sky House, the home Edith owned and operated as a kind of Bed and Breakfast. So Clare travels to Delaware to see the house and promptly becomes curious about who Edith was. She follows clues scattered around the home, and along with her childhood sweetheart Dev, discovers the heroism of Edith and George along with her own self and heritage.

I think that sometimes we forget that it wasn’t that log ago when women were still expected to stay at home, make babies, and be servants of their husbands. I don’t know how we forget, since so many members of our society and even our government still believe that women and their bodies are there for the pleasure of others and should be governed by men today. It was still shocking to see the battered women coming to Blue Sky House being marked as kidnappers if they dared to take their children with them as they tried to escape. Fighting this treatment and view of the role of women as subservient continues even today, and we have to keep fighting.

Despite this dire piece of the story, Marisa de los Santos shows us hopeful possibilities. Clare is never beaten by Zach, she escapes that kind of marriage. Dev is patient with her after he confesses his love, and waits for her to come to him without being pushy. Edith is brave and sticks to her guns in the face of the impossible. This story shows us both the horrors women face and how everything can go right and turn out for the best.

I always need these kinds of stories so I can live vicariously through the women in them, but in the After Times I didn’t realize how much I needed this book. I drank it up like a person in the middle of the desert desperate for an oasis. It is truth frosted with comfort and wrapped in hope and support.

Please read this book. It was so good. Go get it now and curl up with it and let it hold you close.

 

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1)

The Fifth Season

N.K. Jemisin begins her series at the end of an age, with the breaking of the Earth. In this world, Seasons are apocalyptic events that communities or “comms” have survived through and rebuilt after. This world has survived acid rains, poison waters, and other such seasons, but this fifth season may be the season to end all others.

The people are divided into several different types as well. We are introduced to stills (normal humans), orogenes (earthbenders, basically), Guardians (help control orogenes), stone eaters (people with diamond teeth who can travel through the earth) and yet unknown beings who are imprisoned within obelisks that float in the sky.

I liked this story enough to finish the book, but I didn’t like it enough to pick up the next book in the series. I didn’t appreciate the bamboozlement of all three stories I was following being the same person in the end. That felt unnecessary and I kind of figured it out as I went. Also just because a book is the first book in the series doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have a resolution of some kind, an end to its own story arc as the overarching story continues on with some unanswered questions. It feels like this book ended 3 chapters too early, and I actually exclaimed “oh, I guess I’m done!” when I turned the last page and found the glossary.

This book was very good until it wasn’t. It is the kind of book that I will say that it was good enough that you might like it a lot more than I did. The writing is good, the story is ok, and so if you like fantasy and apocalyptic type settings you may want to give this one a try.

I do plan on trying out some of her other writing to see if something different catches my fancy. It was good enough to not give up on the author entirely.

No Book Nook: Wayfair Chairs

I had a lot of students miss a test due to Senior Skip Day so on Tuesday I was after school with about 10 of my best and brightest, monitoring them making up said test. I had completed all my work for the day and was bored and decided to browse wayfair.com for comfy chairs. I have had an IKEA chair that I love since I lived in Arizona (about 10 years ago) and both the husband and I have been talking about getting something more cozy for both of our office/game rooms.

I did not expect to be so entertained. (All chairs are linked to the website.)

First of all, what the fuck is this? Because it sure as shit doesn’t look like a chair and doesn’t seem to warrant the price tag of $273.

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(Thanks to Maggie Smith for the stick people attempting to navigate demon chair.)

Also I have my doubts about whatever this is pretending to be at $241:

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I found where the set designers for Men in Black found their test taking egg chairs for $489:

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And I decided that I might want to get into the evil villain kind of decor, so I am considering this at a cool $1,300:

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In all seriousness though I am thinking about a chair that I could lounge in to read and play video games, so feel free to make suggestions or share links of chairs you love in the comments. I hope you got as big a laugh out of these chairs (and their prices!) as I did.