Vicious by V.E. Schwab — This book has: unconventional superheroes! Moral ambiguity! Resurrection! (*mild spoiler*) A dog that does not die in the end! Other stuff! This book does *not* have: two-dimensional characters! Tropes! A sequel! Though, really, it should.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab — An urban fantasy that has elements of both Neil Gaiman and China Mieville (who are two other authors you should obviously be reading). There’s a swashbuckling, gender-bending lady pirate, an inter-dimensional blood magician, AND A WHOLE LOT OF MAGIC. And queer characters. Winnnnnnn.
Seraphina & Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman — Dragons, mostly, with a Game-of-Thrones-esque attention to world building. The titular character here is a sassy flautist with psychic abilities and she COMPLETELY steals the show. Can I compare this series to Game of Thrones again? Fine, I think I will.
Shadow & Bone, Siege & Storm, Ruin & Rising (The Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo - More magic (are you sensing a theme here?). Elemental magicians, alchemists, and shadow– and light-wielders fight and flirt in this Russia-inspired trilogy about a nation divided by dark magic. The characters are basically sexy versions of Hogwarts students. So, yeah.
Railsea by China Mieville — A Moby-Dick retelling set in a vast desert instead of the open seas. Giant burrowing owls and massive moles terrorize anyone caught out in the sand. There’s also a legend about angelic trains that guard the railways and protect travellers from danger. Need I continue?
Beatrix Potter, the mastermind behind The Tale of Peter Rabbit, lived a quiet way life, appreciating simple pleasures. She shared these simple pleasures with the masses. She was born in London on July 28, 1866 and lived a lonely and sheltered Victorian childhood. Her parents discouraged her from making friends her own age. Beatrix had the privilege of meeting famous artists, politicians, and thinkers, but this means little to a young girl who just wants a friend. She was educated at home by governesses. Having little opportunity to make friends, nature became her one true friend for the rest of her life.
Beatrix spent summer holidays with her family in an area of the country known as Lake District. She drew from a young age, observing her pets, other animals, and plants. She devoted much of her life to farming and countryside conservation, probably due to her early life and love of her memories at Lake District.
A bit of a late bloomer, Beatrix did not begin her career as a children’s author and illustrator until she was 35 years old. She was quite dedicated to her vision of Peter Rabbit. More than six publishers rejected The Tale of Peter Rabbit, so she printed two hundred and fifty copies privately. Beatrix was interested in all aspects of book production, from the conception of the story, to the binding. She made her books as cheap as possible to reach as many children as she could; after all, they could buy it with pocket change. Her books were tiny to accommodate her readers’ tiny hands. By the end of 1903, over 50,000 copies of Peter Rabbit had sold. The publishers that rejected this classic tale must have been regretting their rejection.
Being a keen businesswoman, Beatrix paid close attention to what her audience desired. She looked for innovative ways to capitalize on her creations. Shortly after publishing Peter Rabbit, she created a Peter Rabbit doll, which was followed by wallpaper and a board game. She tested her prose on her friends’ children who were always thrilled by her tales. The merchandising began with Beatrix’s interest in finding new ways to expand her imaginary world. Her tales have been translated into over 35 languages and have been published all over the world.
Beatrix always wrote what she knew and was inspired by real animals and their unique personalities. The real Peter Rabbit was Beatrix’s pet, “Peter Piper.” She often sketched him in front of the fire lying on the hearth rug. The Tale of Benjamin Bunny is modeled after her first pet rabbit who she smuggled into the nursery in a brown bag. His name was “Benjamin H. Bouncer” and he was fond of treats and hot buttered toasts!
The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, is based on a farm duck who often scampered off to lay eggs in secret nesting places. Sometimes Beatrix had to use a hen to sit on Jemima’s eggs. Jemima was always scampering off somewhere, neglecting her eggs. Beatrix blended fantasy and reality flawlessly. Her imaginary world was filled with truth. This tale in particular is so closely associated with Hill Top Farm that it has been described as a “poem of the farm itself.” The farm’s idyllic landscapes are still recognizable today.
For the last thirty years of her life, Beatrix focused on preserving her beloved land that inspired so many stories. She preserved Lake District for future generations and ensured the area would be untouched by developers. In her seventies she wrote, “as I lie in bed, I can walk step by step on the fells and rough lands, seeing every stone and flower…where my old legs will never take me again.” Towards the end of her life she stated, “If I have done anything — even a little — to help small children appreciate honest, simple pleasures, I have done a bit of good.”
Beatrix Potter has done quite a bit of good. We at Kards Unlimited love her to pieces! She shares our love of animals, nature, simplicity, gardening, children, and imagination!!! We have a complete collection of her tales that includes even more information on this amazing woman’s life. Did you know she was engaged and within a month her fiance died? Yep, that tragic bit of information is in the book, along with much more! If you have kids, or you are a kid at heart, these tales will warm your soul and make you want to find animals to observe! So come in to KU, grab a sketchbook, then go back out and bond with nature! And if this post gave you the gardening itch, we sell “Garden-in-a-Bag,” it makes gardening a sitch. Go forth into the world and make Beatrix Potter proud on her birthday!!!!
I admit, I’ve been drawn towards trying the fun and strange cook books we have in stock. I mean, Game of Thrones, True Blood, Big Gay Book of Ice Cream: those aren’t necessarily titles of cookbooks that one would buy to help with every day cooking ideas.
So I decided to switch it up a little, and review Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa at Home. Ina’s whole deal through this book is giving the reader access to great, simple, everyday recipes that make your mouth water but aren’t crazy to make.
Here at Kards, we are huge fans of Ina Garten, Nigella Lawson, and Jamie Oliver. We carry a pretty good selection of their cookbooks, so when I was trying to choose a reasonable everyday cookbook, I had plenty of big names to choose from. For me, though, Ina Garten’s books stood out the most. Lawson and Oliver have some pretty great recipes, but they have a tendency to be too fancy for every day life. The pictures are great and big and the food looks wonderful, but the ingredients called for are sometime hard to track down.
Barefoot Contessa at Home claimed to be a book that you could actually use every day, and it’s true to its word. The recipes I read through were all pretty down to earth. Not bland or ‘normal’, but definitely not complicated. I wouldn’t need to have a personal shopper and an in house butcher to gather my ingredients for me.
This is a big deal for me personally. I often feel like a lot of those TV cooking stars forget that normal people have to go to normal grocery stores to find ingredients. We can track down fun ingredients if we have the time, but you have to be pretty serious about good food to want to make time to find some of the harder to find ingredients.
So, to me, the Barefoot Contessa already has one up on those other guys. She knows how to make a book for people who want to cook good things for not a lot of money and not a lot of time.
Choosing the recipe was a bit hard.… there are a lot of good ones in there, but in the end I just HAD to go with her Chicken with Goat C heese and Basil. There are only 5 ingredients, and one two of them are olive oil and salt.
The only odd or exotic part of this recipe was that it calls for boneless chicken breasts with skin on. They don’t really sell that prepackaged at grocery stores. But it does have a note in the book that you can ask your butcher to de-bone some skin-on breasts for you. And I did! IT was easy-peasy. I just went up to the meat counter at market district and was like, hey, I need 6 chicken breast with skin on de-boned please! And they were like, great! come back in 5 minutes!
Seriously, that was the biggest hassle of the whole thing. Well, that and the first time I went shopping, I bough the prepackage boneless chicken breasts because I didn’t actually read the recipe and realize that there’s a REASON that it calls for skin on!
Making this dish took me like 5 minutes, once I had all the ingredients. 5 minutes, pop it in the oven for 30 minutes, and it was ready to go.
And it was GOOD. Seriously. I mean, I love goats cheese, so I knew I was going to love it, but something amazing happened to those things while they were in the oven. The goat’s cheese melted into the chicken in this awesome way so that it ended up having the texture of cooked ricotta cheese, and all of the flavor was everywhere. The skin gets nice and brown and crunchy and the salt and pepper make it oh so yummy.
Like, seriously, full confession here: I made the mistake of making these while I was home alone. And I ate three of them. THREE. gross. but SO YUMMY.
Ina Garten says right in the book: “Everyone needs a few dishes they can assemble ten minutes after they walk in the door at night.” This is it. She has done it. This dish is ridiculously easy to buy for, make, and serve up piping hot. It’s delicious and it looks really fancy. When you have that next dinner party and make this dish, people are going to think that you are either a culinary genius or that you spent hours in the kitchen.
I highly HIGHLY recommend this recipe and this book as a kitchen basic. Seriously. This book is FULL of things that you can and will actually use in every day life. Your life will be more yummy and more sane because of it.
Barefoot Contessa at Home
Chicken with Goat Cheese & Basil
6 boneless chicken breast, skin on
8 to 10 ounces garlic and herb goat cheese, such as Montrachet
6 large fresh basil leaves
good olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan. Loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers, leaving one side attached. Cut the goat cheese into 1/2-inch-thick slices and place 1 or 2 slices plus a large basil leaf under the skin of each chicken breast. Pill the skin over as much of the meat as possible so that it won’t dry out. With your finders, rub each piece with olive oil, then sprinkle them very generously with salt and pepper. Bake the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, until the skin is lightly browned and the chicken is just cooked through. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Is the summer heat finally getting to you? Do you find yourself collapsing, face down on the floor in front of fan when you get home? Can you even remember what it feels like to be cold? Don’t panic, we’re here to help with a list of ten films to cool you off.
When your plane crashes in the Andes, and you have little to no food, what do you eat to survive? The answer may haunt you, or perhaps CHILL you to the bone.
9. The Edge
When your plane crashes in the Alaskan wilderness and you must not only survive the man eating grizzly bear that’s hunting you, but also the man who wants to kill you and take your wife. Damn, that’s COLD blooded.
8. The Grey
When your plane crashes in the Yukon territory and you’re being hunted down by a pack of wolves, who are picking off your group, one by one. Are you sensing a theme here? Don’t fly over desolate snowy areas or you’ll end up ON ICE.
7. Jeremiah Johnson
Robert Redford with a beard? Yes, please. This rugged story of a man fed up with society and leaving the modern world for the harsh comfort of mother nature’s mountains will leave you yearning for fresh powder and the smell of pine.
6. The Shining
Ghosts are cold, made colder by the dead of winter in the high mountains of Colorado. Will the Torrence family perish and freeze under the icy grip of The Overlook Hotel? You’re going to want to wrap yourself in a blanket after this one.
5. Mystery, Alaska
The laughs come loud and often as small Alaskan town’s frozen pond hockey team takes on the profession New York Rangers… in Alaska.…outside.…in winter. Burrrr.
4. Death Hunt
Lee Marvin leads a manhunt across the Yukon territory in search of the supposed violent criminal played by Charles Bronson. Guns and guts galore in this fast paced action thriller.
This is not that movie with the song you know all the words to. This is the terrifying story of three skiers stuck on a ski lift for three days with no food in the freezing temperatures of Colorado. You’ll never look at a ski lift the same way again.
2. The Thing
Trapped in the desolate wasteland of Antarctica, battling with a shape shifting alien life-form that can perfectly replicate anyone, who is human and who is a thing? More importantly, who will survive?
1. Happy People: A Year in the Taiga
Filmmaker and all around crazy man, Werner Herzog spent a year in the arguably coldest place on earth where humans live year round. This fascinating odyssey will warm your heart, and make so very thankful for your hot summer.
Today’s Daniel Radcliffe’s birthday and we wanted to celebrate the wonderful man he is.
Here he is rapping Eminem.
Here he is walking like, a billion dogs.Here he is um, being HARRY POTTER.
Don’t you just want to be BFF with him?
He gives to great charities, and look, here he is with a cute PUPPY!
He’s weird, but he’s my kind of weird.
To conclude, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAN!
The Witches by Roald Dahl
This is a children’s story you must re-read as an adult! Supremely creepy.
The Complete Works of Poe by Edgar Allan Poe
I love the fact that there’s a section detailing Poe’s life and that his poetry is included. Poe is more than just The Tell-Tale Heart! Plus if you’ve never read The Bells out loud, you may want to get on that.
The Girl With All the Gifts by MR Carey
This is the absolute best zombie novel I have ever read! A wonderful story that delves into what it means to be human, what it takes to survive, and who one becomes in the face of destruction. Plus, the zombie virus in the novel is inspired by the fungus that infects ants in the Amazon commonly referred to as the “zombie fungus.” If you don’t know, the fungus eventually bursts forth from the ant’s head. Then, they die. Oh hey, this is also being turned into a movie!
The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
One of my favorite characters of all time is the “whiskey priest.” He is flawed in many ways, but stays true his moral code. He doesn’t take any shit. He does what he wants. Like Eric Cartman.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Everytime I read this novel, I find more truth within it. Huxley’s writing style is lyrical and at times reads as philosophy. If you buy this book you will read it for years to come.
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Maze-like murder mansion….need I say more? I’ve read a few books focusing on serial killers, but HH Holmes’ story is one of the most intriguing and bizarre. Also Leonardo Dicaprio is making this book into a movie. Win!
Budding Prospects by TC Boyle
This book is like if On the Road had any direction whatsoever. It’s a humorous novel and a great introduction to TC Boyle if you’re unfamiliar with his work.
I went to the Zoo just about every year when I was a kid. But for some reason, my most vivid memory from the zoo is scraping my knee and crying by the polar bears. It was a great time.
However, when we were choosing blogs this month, I just knew that I needed to write something. Because despite not really being like the most enthusiastic person when it comes to zoo visits, I can personally tell you about my time at Steve Irwin’s house.
Okay, no. That’s a lie. I was at his Zoo. But he grew up there! At the zoo! his house is on the property! He got to wake up every morning and feed those crocodiles.
The day I was at Steve Irwin’s zoo, it was pretty cloudy. So my pictures aren’t the best. But I wanted to share them with you, because it was super cool to be walking the same ground that Steve Irwin walked on. In Australia. Oh, hey. did I mention that I went to Australia? yeahhhhh.
Anyway, here are some pictures of Steve Irwin’s back yard. Literally.
Pretty much everyone knows what ventriloquism is, but in case you don’t, ventriloquism is the art of throwing one’s voice. The ability to speak while appearing not to speak. Great ventriloquists can have full conversations with thin air! Can give life to otherwise inert objects! (Usually a puppet of some kind, but it’s fun when it’s something else too!) Ventriloquists, in short, make boring (and, depending on the puppet, sometimes creepy) things fun!
National Ventriloquism Week is coordinated through the Vent Haven Museum in Cincinnati. William Berger, a Cincinnati industrialist, founded the museum using his large collection of ventriloquist’s dummies that he had accumulated over many years and business trips. The week is celebrated on the third week of July every year (that’s the 19th through the 25th this year).
Even if you can’t make it out to Cincinnati for the celebration, appreciate the fine art of ventriloquism by seeing a show or watching one on Netflix if there isn’t a live one convenient. Or practice some ventriloquism of your own! You never know when it might come in handy!