#TopTenTuesday

Top 10 Favorite Indie or Small-Pub Books:

1:   Immanent Death.  It’s sad that this author is apparently not writing anymore.  The book is out of print, as far as I can tell.  My dad lost/ruined (I think) my copy.  But this book is absolutely the best I’ve read in terms of use of language and philosophy.  Read my review. 
2:   The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree.  If you’re a fan of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Series, this book series is a wonderful way to fill that void.  It’s smart and funny and clever and truly inventive.  I picked the first book for this list cuz, well, it’s the first.  I’m reading the third currently.  Read my review.
3:   The Distant Sound of Violence.   This is a book that hits you in the feels.  It wasn’t at all what I was expecting and twists into a deeply emotion story about consequences.  I had to pause after reading this one and not pick up anything new for a few days.  Read my review.
4:   Beautiful Death.  I suppose a vampire book should be a guilty pleasure, but this series is so smart and colorful that it’s a genuine pleasure.  The vampire world/culture is unique, layered, and complex.  Read my review.
5:   The Zombie Axiom.  I’ve read a lot of zombie books.  This one surprised me by having likable characters and a fantasy/sci-fi twist on the genre.  Read my review.
6:   The Phoenix Project.  I love dystopian novels that say something, and this one is packed with just as much heart as it is action.  It’s tense, but happy endings are a really refreshing thing in this genre.  Read my review.
7:   Mineko.  A lovely revenge story doesn’t seem like it should be a thing, but this qualifies.  It’s also wonderful to find a male writer who can write a female character so strong and so honestly.  Read my review.
8:   The Clock Strikes Midnight.  Mystery/Murder stories aren’t my usual thing, but this book was so emotionally gripping that I hardly put it down.  And I might have cried.  Read my review.
9:  The Hand That Feeds.  Now, this book I like the more I think about it and the farther I get away from actually reading it.  The main characters are infuriating.  I kind of hated the guy and wanted to yell at him almost every page.  But, boy, is that kind of the point.  Read my review.
10:   _______.  I’ve read a lot of Nicholas Sansbury Smiths books.  I’ve read an early version of something he’s working on, and it’s my favorite of the bunch.  Assuming he ever publishes it, it will be on this list.

Anybody have their own list?   Comment below!

#TopTenTuesday

Top 10 Favorite Foods:

1:   Macaroni and Cheese.  This is the one food from childhood that I ate constantly but I still love – not so for Ranch Doritos or bologna.  I don’t even have a particular favorite recipe; I will eat this dish prepared pretty much any way.
2:   Cheesy Potatoes with Corn Flakes.  Go-to comfort food.  (Hint, give me anything involving cheese, and I’m going to be happy.)  This is one of my mom’s recipes that I have down so it actually tastes like hers, so at the very least I don’t disappoint myself when I make it.
3:   Salsa Turkey Burgers on English Muffins.   It’s a good thing I love these too, cuz a certain someone I live with could eat them like every other day.  But the way the meat juices soak into the bread is terrific.
4:   Pizza.  I’m suspicious of anyone who does not like pizza.  I know a lot of quite frankly pretentious foodies, but come on.  I tend to go for meats myself, but I’ll eat anything on pizza.  Except anchovies.
5:   Chicken Malai Noorjahani.  I do love Indian food.  When I moved back to Grand Rapids recently, I might have shed a tear for a few restaurants we left behind.  One served this dish, and it’s my absolute favorite.
6:   Crab Rangoons.  Sure, I end up with oil splatter burns.  Sure, they take forever.  And I probably shouldn’t eat them alone as an entire meal.  But…
7:   Tuna Bisque.  Tuna in oil, milk, heavy cream, cayenne, salt and pepper, green onions.  I usually eat my weight in bread with this stuff.
8:   Potato Wedges.  Or, as my mother once called them at a deli while ordering, potato “wedgies.”  I can probably make these guys with my eyes closed at this point, though anyone living with me should never let me use a knife in such a state.  The trick here is smoked paprika and about 5 gallons of butter.
9:   Key Lime Pie Cupcakes.  This recipe was only discovered cuz I was trying to cheer someone up and he happens to love Key Lime Pie.  Turns out, thank goodness the recipe makes 15 of these little darlings.  I’m not a huge dessert person, but these are amazing.  And I’m now not allowed to come to family events unless I bring them, or so I was told.
10:   Hoisin Shrimp on Rice.  This is a fairly new recipe to my repertoire, but it’s so simple and flavorful that I’m pretty sure I’m going to be making it a lot.

Anybody have their own list?   Comment below!

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#TopTenTuesday

Top 10 Favorite Black & White Movies:

1:   The Thin Man Series.  I can never pick my favorite of the series – it depends on my mood at any given moment.  But William Powell and Myrna Loy are my favorite on-screen couple of all time.  The play between these two is mostly what I love about these movies, although the murder/mystery twists are great too.
Also, this was a Halloween costume one year:  
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2:   Casablanca.  The first time I watched this (which was way too late in life, I blame bad parenting), I was shocked to find that I knew over half the lines.  I mean, everyone knows “Of all the gin joints…” but there are TONS of lines that have slipped into everyday use.  It’s also a love triangle with much bigger things at stake, and that’s refreshing.
3:   The Philadelphia Story.   I like wit.  The combo of Grant, Hepburn, and Stewart is hard to beat.  I guess technically there’s more like a love “square” with the other guy thrown in, but the main thing for me is that it’s about Tracy finding herself and not settling.
4:   City Lights.  I have so much respect for early storytellers who didn’t use, you know, speech.  Emotions are conveyed with eyes or a heavy bodily sigh.  Chaplin might have been a perfectionist control-freak (directed, wrote, produced, starred), but the results is one of the sweetest movies I can think of.
5:   All About Eve.  Great cast – and the short surprise of Marilyn Monroe.  Movies like this are always super-creepy to me.  The idea of taking someone under your wing only to have them turn on you is terrifying.  It’s like “Mean Girls” meets “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”
6:   High Noon.  Love Gary Cooper.  Love Grace Kelly.  This isn’t a typical shoot-em-up, horse-chase-heavy kind of western, but the slow suspense is great, and the actor performances really draw you in.
7:   It Happened One Night.  This is just fun.  I’ve never thought Clark Gable is handsome at all, but the unlikely romance that develops here totally works for me.  There are several moments of outright hilarity.  And of course the famous lesson in hitchhiking.
8:   The Treasure of Sierra Madre.  I always like Bogart, but his character in this movie was different than a lot of what I’d seen from him.  I particularly like the way greed and betrayal destroy everything, even more than the external dangers.
9:   Lost Horizon.  This kind of blew my mind.  I love questioned utopias, and the way this movie builds and builds with suspense is great.
10:   Swing Time.  I think this was the first Ginger Rogers movie I saw.  With Fred Astaire, she’s amazing.  Also, it has the lyric, “You take romance, I’ll take jello.”  That’s really all I need.

Anybody have their own list?   Comment below!

#TopTenTuesday

(This is a new thing I’m going to do every Tuesday.
I like lists.  I love “favorites” lists.
So here we go.)

Top 10 Favorite Superhero Movies:

1:   The Dark Knight Rises.  Really, you could just lump the trilogy together and list it at my #1 spot.  I thought how this one ended made it the strongest of the three.  Batman has always been dark and gritty, and the brokenness of this trilogy mixed with a bit of hope and redemption fit exactly what I wanted.
2:   Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  This surprised me.  I don’t normally root for the boyscout type, but Captain America has a lot of depth that I really enjoyed.  I really, really enjoyed the partnership with the Black Widow and the fact that it didn’t cross into a love-interest territory.  And, so often a superhero movie can be crammed with way too much to the point that nothing makes sense together (I’m looking at you, Spiderman 3), but I thought this one was just right.
3:   Guardians of the Galaxy.   I don’t care who you are, this is a great, fun movie.  I first saw this on a 4th date when he was an hour late, the popcorn was stale, and the theater was one of the worst I’ve ever been in.  But, nothing spoiled this movie for me once it started.  I didn’t really know what to expect, and I’ve definitely never laughed so hard at a superhero movie.  Also, there’s no reason I should’ve cried about a raccoon and a tree, but there ya go.
4:   The Avengers.  I was mostly relieved by how well all the previously-established characters/storylines came together.  It was interesting to see so many characters who had already been fleshed out thrown together in one movie.  I’ve always been a Whedon fan, and it was fun for all those little, recognizable quirks too.
5:   X-Men: Days of Future Past.  They had me at the use of time-travel.  And, well, Fassbender.  The first three X-Men movies were never quite what I wanted, but I loved how this “corrected” a lot of that.
6:   Nightwatch.  The most hipster thing I ever say — “You probably haven’t heard of this.”  It’s a Russian film by Timur Bekmambetov. I know this is really more fantasy, but these people can move in and out of a dimension as the forces of Light battle the forces of Evil, and last time I looked Hawkeye doesn’t have powers that super.  This is a sequel, but I liked the end so much that I liked this one more than the first, Daywatch.
7:   X-Men: First Class.  Again,  Ijust love how much better this was than the original trio of X-Men movies.  And I love a good backstory.
8:   Thor: The Dark World.  Another Marvel franchise surprise.  I don’t really like Thor, honestly.  I think the world is cool and Loki is fantastic, but Thor himself I’m just “meh” about (cue women yelling at me).  But, I let go of expecting this to be good, and I found myself liking it a lot.
9:   Unbreakable.  It’s a mess at times, but I like the use of “reality” in this one.  I feel like this is what Hancock was aiming for — a superhero set in our real world — but the slower, deeper look at discovering superpowers here I liked better.
10:   Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  A childhood favorite, largely listed for nostalgia, but it’s still fun to re-watch.

Anybody have their own list?   Comment below!

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