Mmm Mexican

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I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve posted about food, so here’s Mexicue!

I had eaten there years ago, but the restaurant didn’t cross my mind again until last week. I’d been at a loss for where to have dinner with a friend for a couple of days, then-Boom-walked right past Mexicue. The name makes it pretty easy to identify what their cooking style is influenced by. The Lunch/Dinner menu can be found on the bottom of their front page.

We started with the chips and salsa verde. The chips were warm and crunchy, and the salsa tasted fresh with the perfect amount of mildness. The menu is full of a la carte items, so you can mix and match tacos, sliders, burrito bullets, and enchiladas. I ordered two tacos: Smoked Chicken, and House Cured Duck. The duck taco was good with it’s juicy duck slices, but the chicken taco was amazing! The slaw was fresh, and that creamy chipotle sauce was mouth watering. Both were served on corn tortillas, which happens to be my favorite kind of tortilla. I highly suggest the Smoked Chicken taco if you find yourself in Chelsea.

But what was the real kicker, you ask? What was the tastiest, most delicious thing I had that evening? Well, it was the Grilled Cornbread with Chipotle butter, of course. I don’t even know how to describe this beyond “it knocked my socks off.” The cornbread wasn’t dry, it  wasn’t too sweet, and it blew my mind when I added the butter. The cornbread is my number one recommendation to you all.

Go forth and taste good food!

mexicue

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Bi-Weekly Book Recommendation: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

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“Success, after all, loves a witness, but failure can’t exist without one.”
Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Junot Diaz earned his mark on the literary world in 2007 with his tale of an ostracized king of all nerds. The novel is primarily literary fiction with hints of fantasy and folklore sprinkled here and there. This novel is so popular that I probably do not need give a synopsis, but here it goes…

Oscar is first generation American born Dominican. His mother was forced to leave the Dominican Republic for tragic reasons years before, and now Oscar, his sister, and his mother live in Paterson, New Jersey. Growing up in American culture, Oscar finds himself in a (then) undesirable group called “nerds”. He loves comics, fantasy and scifi novels, Doctor Who, Star Trek, and Dungeons and Dragons–essentially, if it was considered nerdy, Oscar was into it. However, all of these things, combined with Oscar’s Comic Book Guy (Simpsons reference) appearance, have resulted in him becoming an outcast even among his friends.

All Oscar wants is to be loved, all his sister Lola wants is freedom, all their mother wants is a mystery, but all they can do is survive. We watch as each story line unfolds into misery. Oscar eventually becomes a shunned adult, and traveling back to the island where his mother’s journey first began. Oscar gives it all he’s got on one last chance for love. Given not only his cursed family history, but the title of the book, we can all guess how it ends up.

Personally, I barely liked the book. It had potential at the start, but it quickly turned into every other Junot Diaz novel. To me, it seems as if Diaz is a one trick pony. He uses the same narrator (Yunior) as he did in This is How You Lose Her (which he plans to use several more times), and he is the worse kind of Dominican stereotype. I had a friend who had the pleasure of meeting Diaz at a convention, and she told him I didn’t care for the character. His response was, “Then she probably dates guys like that.” Which, for one, is a big assumption (and incorrect), and two, not the greatest response for a writer to have. Some times authors just have to accept they made a character not everyone will like.

If you enjoyed anything else Diaz has written, then you will probably like the novel. Or if you just love stereotypes.The decision is yours!

Buy it here!

Bi-Weekly Book Recommendation: The Battle For Wondla

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“Maybe answers are found not in observing but in doing. Doing the right thing” -Eva Nine”
Tony DiTerlizzi, The Battle For WondLa

I’ve done the Wondla books in Bi-Weekly Recommendations previously, (the link will be below), and it’s time I completed the journey. The wonderful part is DiTerlizzi doesn’t disappoint in the finale of his fast-paced fantasy novel.

Eva Nine and her pilot friend, Hailey, find themselves on an adventure to find Zinn. Zinn is the only person who could potentially stop his brother from destroying both the human and alien population in his attempt to gain power. Eva and her pal join a wandering curator in hopes that he can get them to where they can locate the missing alien. But can the curator be trusted?

Once more, Eva is thrown into a twisting tale of love, friendship, family, and war. She travels from refugee towns to cities on fire. Determined to fix things at any cost to herself, Eva dives into action to save both forms of life from brutal dictatorship. Who will survive the epic showdown?

The Battle for Wondla brings all of the charm and wonder of Orbona to life in the final stand against an evil villain. It’s light enough to be a children’s book, but written well enough that all ages can enjoy the story.

Buy it here!

The Search for Wondla

Endless Editing Summer

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It’s time. It has finally happened. I have real days off!!!

I’ve finished my initial school goal, and my days off are no longer spent in classes from early AM to late PM. At this point, I have been in classes so long that I was a little at sea with what to do with my days off. I’ve grown exponentially in so many aspects (worldly knowledge, specialty knowledge, the written word), and it is time I put what I have learned to use.

Now that I’ve caught up on regular life things, (cleaning the entire apartment, getting check-ups from all doctors), I’m starting my latest edits on my manuscript! I’ve already completed a lot of edits and rewrites on my short stories, of which I’m super pleased with, so I am so happy I can spend the summer doing the thing I love the most!

Tools of the Trade:

PenTechnica Gen Pen 0.6

aliceAlice in Wonderland Flags

brainMy Brain

(Image courtesy of Anne Brogdon.)

Bi-Weekly Book Recommendation: The Lies of Locke Lamora

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“There’s no freedom quite like the freedom of being constantly underestimated.”
Scott Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora

Scott Lynch struck gold with the Gentleman Bastard series. The Lies of Locke Lamora is the first of (so far) three  installments, and, as you can see on the cover, even George R.R. Martin has endorsed it.

Locke and his fellow Gentleman Bastards appear to be lowly pick-pockets in a city full of thieves that pay homage to Barsavi, lord of the underworld. What is unknown to all who dwell in the city, (which is clearly based on Venice, Italy), is that the Gentleman Bastards are actually genius con artists preying solely on the elite.

When a man called the Grey King appears on the scene, the Gentleman Bastards no longer find themselves able to live a happy, secret existence robbing the rich. Can Locke find a way to lead his crew, pull of one of his greatest cons yet, and survive the Grey King before it’s too late?

When I was gifted The Lies of Locke Lamora, it was described to me as “Ocean’s Eleven, but in a fantasy setting,” and that is exactly what it is. The novel is written as if you are watching it like a movie. There is very little character development internally. You know where they have gone, and what they have done, but much isn’t given as to how they think and feel about it. It really reads just as if you’re watching a movie, which was disappointing to me. 

I think I was lucky in the sense that I was warned the novel would read that way, but it still felt like I was being cheated on my time. The book could’ve been half the size, which would have made it that much more entertaining, but it dragged on way too long.

I will say that it was entertaining, but not enough that it justified the amount of pages it had. However, if you’re into long winded labyrinths of con artist’s adventures, then this is the book for you!

Buy it here!

New York Summers

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You know what makes New York winters worth it? New York summers.

The city is so wonderful right now. I can go outside wearing whatever I want and feel the sweet humidity envelop me like a steamed towel in a spa. I get all the vitamin D!

I’m implore you all to go out to parks and zoos and botanical gardens if you can. (In New York, or in your home town.) This world is beautiful, go out and see it.

Here are some of the places you can explore in New York:

 

Bronx Zoo           Queens Zoo         Prospect Park Zoo (Brooklyn)

New York Aquarium (Brooklyn)

Bronx Botanical Garden            Brooklyn Botanical Garden

The High Line Park

Start your summer off with some beauty.

cloisters

(Taken at the Cloisters.)

Bi-Weekly Book Recommendation: Dark Lord of Derkholm

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“It was only when Shona, in sheer fury, turned the carnivorous sheep among them that they moved. They ran, some of them with charming little white sheep attached to their legs or backsides and the rest shouting about monsters.”
Diana Wynne Jones, Dark Lord of Derkholm

Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favorite children’s author. Some of you may know her by her most popular children’s fantasy novel, Howl’s Moving Castle. (Which was later turned into a Studio Ghibli film by the same name. I highly recommend both the movie and the book if you haven’t already partaken. Both are amazing in their own ways.)

Jones continues to use her powers of phenomenal fantasy writing in Dark Lord of Derkholm. The title and the cover may seem daunting, but do not shy away, because it holds all the wonders of lovely fantasy elements such as magic and mythical creatures. There is no shortage of humor, either.

Derk has been chosen to play the Dark Lord for the hordes of tourist, known as the Pilgrim Parties, who enter his world to play make-believe. Every year someone is chosen, and the whole magical world is forced to become an amusement park for humans coming through a portal. The person holding Derk’s world hostage, Mr. Chesney, is nothing more than a business man with a demon in his pocket. But never the less, the citizens are forced the participate by fear.

Derk, an outlier in the community for his creative creatures, feels the pressure of the position, as well as the pressure from his family. When an old Dragon arrives at his doorstep, Derk is thrown out of commission, leaving the pressure of the tours on the shoulders of his children. Will they be able to stage raids, bird attacks, demons, and please Mr. Chesney in time?

If you love, or love the idea of, Dungeons and Dragons, then this is an awesome read for you. It has the perfect amount of fantasy and humor to reveal things from a reversed side of campaigning. And if you’re not into D&D, the book still retains all of its charm.

Buy it here!

 

Final Frontier of Fiction

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This is my last semester at my current college, and I have to say the experience has been amazing. Although it has, many times, caused me great stress and frustration, I am leaving with a sense of satisfaction.

School, and the piece of paper it comes with, was an abstract idea in my mind before I re-enrolled in college. The impression I had was that I would be of more social value if I obtained this piece of paper claiming I gave years of my life to knowledge. I would be more respected, be able to find a better job, and maybe be taken seriously when I sent my stories out. These were my thoughts, and some of them still remain, but what I’ve learned the most valuable thing I’ve gained from my time back in college is my capacity to understand culture/s.

One of the greatest things about living in New York is that almost no one tries to prevent education about other cultures, or hide the realities of their mindsets and histories. The professors I’ve had have introduced me to books I never would have read on my own, but have become some of my favorites. I hardly read non-fiction, but King Leopold’s Ghost and A Small Place are now at the top of my list for life-changing written works. I went through preschool to twelfth grade, as well as two previous colleges before I learned about the holocaust that took place under King Leopold’s reign in the Congo. The same goes for corruption and colonization in Antigua (the small place).

My final semester has some of the most interesting novels, autobiographies, and biographies I’ve read. They are:

Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood by Judith Ortiz Cofer

Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Dracula by Bram Stoker

I’m very excited to finally get my first degree and move on to the second one. I’ve gained some valuable writing skills, and feel confident enough to begin a new re-write of my novel. To Education!

Bi-Weekly Book Recommendation: The Halloween Tree

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“Suddenly the day was gone, night came out from under each tree and spread.”
Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree

Any time of the year is a good time to read some Bradbury! One of the many Godfathers of Scifi and Fantasy has done it again with his ghoulishly fantastic children’s novel.

All Tom Skelton wants is for him and his friends to have a good fright on Halloween. However, things begin to get strange when the coolest boy of the bunch, Pip, seems to be sick. Pip gives the boys directions to the creepy house on the edges of town, and claims he’ll meet them there soon.

Little do the gang of boys know as they meet the mysterious keeper of the dark house–and witness the thousands of jack-o-lanterns light up in the Halloween tree–that they are about to head out on a journey containing a history lesson that holds Pip’s fate in the balance.

Needless to say this book was written beautifully. Bradbury’s silky, poetic voice carries over into the children’s genre magnificently, and creates a wonderful read for people of any age. And you just might learn a few things about Halloween history as well.

Buy it here!