July 30, 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling - Not Really A Book Review

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THE CUCKOO'S CALLING  by Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling)  

After a long long pause I decided to write a review of a novel again. I occasionally wrote short reviews and recommendations in the past but had gotten tired and stopped. This book however compelled me to write one, not because it was amazingly great, but because I did something that I never have done before with any other books no matter how boring, i.e. I stopped reading at page 105 and NEVER finished the book. I didn't want to torture myself and so this is the very FIRST TIME I abandoned a book.

The quite lengthy book at 455 pages is a mystery/crime which is one of my favorite genres. The main characters are Cormoran Strike, an Afghan war veteran turned Private Eye and his supposed to be just a temporary female assistant, Robin. The P.I was hired by the brother of a young model who committed suicide to find out if she was actually murdered.

I will not elaborate on the story but will list down the reasons why I didn't like the book one bit.
  • The story is very simple which is not a bad thing but there is nothing new, extraordinary, or exciting to this novel. It's just same old same old "is it suicide or murder?", lacking layers and intrigue to reel you in to the story. I was able to guess with certainty the killer very early on. 
  • There are too many side stories and descriptions of places and people that serve no purpose. It's as though the author was paid per word.
  • The characters are not well defined. I saw them all as cardboard figures cut out from a template. I waited for distinct personalities to emerge but they never did. They, including the 2 main characters are all dull and have one voice, no distinction between men and women. It's very frustrating for me not to be able to picture in my mind the different people, most specially the P.I. 
  • Dropping F and C bombs page after page after page; it's a major pet peeve of mine. Uttering swear words constantly doesn't make a character edgy and cool, nor does it add anything to the story line. 
I don't know who Rowling is targeting to read this book. I'm guessing she is encouraging her Harry Potter fans to try reading mystery in addition to fantasy. If she wants people like me to read her mystery books, she has to do better. Hiring a really good editor for her next installment of Strike series is a must. I, for one will not be reading the sequel.

I may be too spoiled for having read hundreds of books by my favorite and, in my honest opinion, best British mystery writers ever:

Ellis Peters
P.D. James
Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine
Agatha Christie
Dorothy L. Sayers

July 25, 2013


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Korean food has been a top favorite of mine since the 80s. When I went in 1987 I only had excellent restaurant food but sadly never tried their street food. I'm still discovering lots of yummy Korean dishes with the help of food blogs and of course YouTube where I saw a favorite street food called hotteok, a fried pancake filled with brown sugar. They look very similar to the Filipino piaya but with different dough ingredients. 

July 18, 2013


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I've always wanted to make knish but kept forgetting until it was mentioned and became somehow significant to the golem in my 2013 favorite book, the most fascinating and captivating fantasy novel THE GOLEM AND THE JINNIHelene Wecker. If you love fantasy, adventure, historical fiction with mystical, magical, and hint of romance elements, then this is the book for you. I can't recommend it highly enough. For Syrian part of the book, there's a baked cheese dessert called Kanafeh which I will try to make next time if I can find all the ingredients.

July 11, 2013


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It was more than 25 years ago when I cooked moussaka. I can't remember the recipe I used which came from a magazine, probably Good Housekeeping. A niece asked for a recipe and luckily I have one in my Greek cookbook. After posting the whole recipe on her Facebook timeline, I suddenly wanted to make too. I have forgotten that Moussaka is really yummy!

July 5, 2013

Leftover Steak Sandwich

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For Independence Day dinner yesterday, I charcoal grilled a moderately sized tri-tip steak. We seem to eat like birds because there's still a big chunk of leftover. Today, I diced a few slices and added to sauteed mushrooms and filled whole wheat folded flat bread. Delicious and satisfying sandwich/es!

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