Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sunday Snapshot

Currently reading:

The Drops of God, Vol. 2 by Tadashi Agi: Wine talk aside, this manga is really good.

Judgment of Paris by George Taber: One wonders if a blind France vs CA wine tasting with US judges would produce the same results.

Movies watched:

salmon fishing in the yemen
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, starring Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, and Amr Waked

This movie is pretty silly. For one, I expected a lot more fishing in general and salmon fishing in the Yemen specifically than I got from a movie titled Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Second of all, this plan to bring salmon to the Yemen doesn't really make sense. If the sheikh is filthy rich and can fly to his awesome estate in Scotland to fish whenever he wants, why go through all the trouble and bother of bringing salmon to an environment that seems anathema to them? Somewhat related: introduction of non-native species! That always turns out well! And, as my dad pointed out, to have salmon swim upstream they'd have to be born in the stream, grow up, swim downstream, then follow their biological imperative to swim back upstream to the place where they were born to spawn. You can't just dump adult salmon into a random river and then watch as they magically swim upstream for no reason.

But with that said, it was an enjoyable movie, and it was nice to watch something where the Middle Eastern characters weren't all evil villains/terrorists.

Legion, starring Paul Bettany, Adrianne Palicki, and the guy from Tokyo Drift

Haaaaaaaaaa. Okay. This movie was actually a lot better than I was expecting based on the 19% rating it has on Rotten Tomatoes. It was still pretty bad, though. I can just imagine the pitch meeting for it: "Picture Terminator with angels instead of cyborgs! The real twist? The angels are the bad guys." EYE ROLL.

Five stars to Paul Bettany, though, for looking hot AF.

This weeks in heidenkindom:

There's been a lot going on, as you can imagine what with the Fourth of July holiday. We went up to visit my aunt for the Fourth, then this weekend I went with my mom to a wine festival. Unfortunately it was 103 degrees outside, all the wines tasted awful, and I felt woozy after about three sips. But I did find a cute t-shirt.

Also, I'm finishing up the final touches on the paperback copy of The Introvert's Guide to Drinking Alone. Soon you'll be able to spill cocktails on a physical book and not just on your ereader!

Enjoy the week, everybody!

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday Snapshot

Currently reading:

A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro: Quite enjoyable.

Judgment of Paris by George M Taber: Guys, I think this book might be pretty sexist.

The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads by Tim Wu: Has the potential to be really interesting.

Movies watched:

Independence Day Resurgence, starring Liam Hemsworth and Jeff Goldblum

Do you really need a summary for this one? The aliens come back. Against all odds, the human species triumphs. If you were wondering why most of the major stars from the original Independence Day (coughwillsmithcough) aren't in this one, the script should put your questions to rest. All the "inspiring speeches" fall flat and the plot is an exercise in silliness.

My absolute favorite line: "They're drilling to our molten core!!!"


Bottle Shock, starring Alan Rickman, Chris Pine, and Bill Pullman

I heard about this movie while scanning the Goodreads reviews for Judgment of Paris; they're basically about the same thing, though one isn't based on the other. Alan Rickman gets all the lines, which is as it should be; but do you know what my faaaaaaavorite thing about this movie was? How the one female character's single purpose is to sleep with the guys as a reward for making good wine. And I thought Judgment of Paris was sexist! At least that book didn't replace an actual woman (Spurrier's RL business partner, Patricia Gallagher) with a made-up male character, because hey, we already have two females who talk in this film, let's not confuse people. Great job as usual, Hollywood.

This week in heidenkindom:

Don't forget my cocktail book, The Introvert's Guide to Drinking Alone, comes out TOMORROW! Yeah!! I'm, like super pumped and simultaneously a bit nervous.

If you've missed any of the excerpts I've been linking to on Twitter and Facebook, you can see them all here.

I'm also planning to publish a paperback version, but I have some work to do reformatting for print before I get there.

Have an excellent week, everyone!

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday Snapshot – Happy Father's Day!

flippie floppies gif

Woohoo! It's going to hit 100 degrees today which means it's finally summer! I'm super pumped.

reading alone gif

But first, the Sunday Snapshot.

Currently reading:

Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas: I have never DNF'd a Kleypas book in my life, but I almost did this one. It is moving SO. FREAKING. SLOWLY. Is it the goal of romance publishers to make readers feel like they're watching paint dry? Because it certainly feels like that sometimes.

Judgment of Paris by George M Taber: I actually wanted to read Shadows in the Vineyard, but my library didn't have that in ebook, so I decided to try this one while waiting for Shadows to come in on hold.


Go to Book Riot to check out four recent reviews of books about art crime! There's also my list of recommended rosé wines perfect for summer.

Movies watched:

somm into the bottle
Somm: Into the Bottle, directed by Jason Wise

The sequel to Somm, which focuses more on the wines somms love than the sommeliers themselves. I'll admit I got a little bored during the last half hour, but I learned a lot from this documentary anyway. The best part of the whole film is seeing super-rare and expensive bottles opened and tasted, like a 1969 Dom Ruinart (only 18 left in the world) or a 1966 Mondavi, the first wine Mondavi produced. Since this is probably the closest I'll ever get to tasting such wines, I enjoyed it.

the birth of sake
The Birth of Saké, directed by Erik Shirai

This film is in Japanese with English subtitles, and I know what you're thinking: I don't want to read a movie. Well, I don't blame you, but there are two reasons you should watch this film anyway. One, the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. Who knew rice could look so beautiful. And two, there are a whole bunch of man feels going on in this movie. Also, I bet you dollars to donuts after you watch this you'll appreciate your next drink of saké 1000x more, because that is a shit ton of work, people!

chef's table
Chef's Table, Season 2

Season the second of Chef's Table is now available on Netflix, and it's much better than the first season. For one, there's a lot more diversity. Even though many of the chefs trained in the US, they cook different styles of cuisine in different parts of the world, and one is entirely self-taught. There are even two female chefs! We are getting dangerously close to equality here, people. And for two, none of the chefs came across as narcissitic arseholes, which was helpful.

what happened miss simone
What Happened, Miss Simone?, directed by Liz Garbus

Watched this one because my mom was like, "Why does everything we watch have to be about food?" Nina Simone is a name familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in jazz, not to mention the Civil Rights Movement of the '60s. But despite her talent and prestige, Simone abruptly disappeared from the public eye only to reemerge close to the end of her life living as practically a beggar in Paris. So what happened? You can probably take a wild guess and land on the answer, but that doesn't mean the film isn't worth watching for its portrayal, which is the perfect balance of sympathetic and unflinchingly honest.

This week[s] in heidenkindom:

Another busy few weeks down the drain. This week I was under deadline to get the final version of my upcoming book, The Introvert's Guide to Drinking Alone, uploaded on Amazon (if you don't do it by the deadline they revoke your publishing privileges for a year), so I was occupied mostly with that. Remind me when I write another book to do it in an HTML editor, because formatting something for an ebook after writing it in a typical word processing program is a N I G H T M A R E. But! I got it done, so whew.

The week before last, I went up to the Denver Art Museum for the press preview of Women of Abstract Expressionism. This the first ever (!) art exhibit to focus exclusively on female abstract expressionists. It's really cool. Here are a few photo highlights:

women of abstract expressionism

joan mitchell and lee krasner
Joan Mitchell and Lee Krasner rooms.

helen frankenthaler
Helen Frankenthaler room.

incision by jay defeo
Detail from Incision by Jay Defeo.

all green by mary abbott
All Green by Mary Abbott.

autumn leaves by ethel schwabacher
Autumn Leaves by Ethel Schwabacher.

pennington i pellham ii by ethel schwabacher
Pennington I/Pellham II by Ethel Schwabacher (she was my favorite).

woman by judith godwin
Woman by Judith Godwin.


This is pretty dang cool: a painting of a prehistoric octopus made from squid ink discovered in a 95-million-years-old fossil!

Have an excellent week, everyone!

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sunday Snapshot is Going Outside!

After I finish this post.

Currently reading:

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater: That bromance is way more serious than I thought.
The Passion of the Purple Plumeria by Lauren Willig: The fact that this is such a long-running series quite frankly confuses me at this point, but I'm enjoying it.

Movies watched:

money monster
Money Monster, starring George Clooney, Kyle Budwell, and Julia Roberts

Lee Gates' financial show, Money Monster, is more about making noise than providing real information about Wall Street. But all that changes when apparent Southie Jack O'Connell takes him hostage and demands answers for Gates' poor financial advice.

This is a "thriller with a message," and for the most part I liked it. But honestly the message is so muddled, and the way the script plays out is so unrealistic, that by the end it's kind of a dud. Also, George Clooney is way too inherently charming to play a sleazy Jim Cramer type. Was Paul Giamatti super busy making Centurylink commercials or what? On the plus side, I will say that Julia Roberts does a FANTASTIC job.

for grace
For Grace, directed by Mark Helenowski and Kevin Pang

This foodie documentary purports to follow the opening of famous Chicago chef Curtis Duffy's new restaurant, Grace. But actually it's more about Duffy, overcoming obstacles, and finding family.

When I read Candace's review of this movie at Beth Fish Reads, she warned me I would cry. But I was like, "Pshaw, I'm an emotional rock. I'm not going to cry over some schmancy fancy chef's restaurant."

ugly cry gif

Yeah, you're gonna cry. And if you are or have been a teacher, you will UGLY cry. I'm talking snot running down your down your nose, hiccupping, puffy eyes, the whole bit.

I guess what I'm saying here is don't watch this while you're commuting on the train. But do watch it.

This week[s] in heidenkindom:

Hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend! (If you live in the US. If not, I hope you had a good regular weekend.) Mine was pretty nice. The power kept going out, which meant I absolutely could not work on anything and had to spend a bunch of time outside. Woohoo!

I love this time of year. I love going outside and feeling like I'm walking into a furnace. I know, I'm weird.


Anyway, the one big project I've been working on the past two weeks that I want to share with y'all is my cocktail book, The Introvert's Guide to Drinking Alone, is now available for preorder on Amazon. w00t w00t! The scheduled release date is June 27th. Take a peek at it if you wanna.

the introvert's guide to drinking alone cover

Have an excellent week, everyone!

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Snapshot is Back!

Currently reading:

Dewey Decimated by Charles A Goodrum: I seem to be on a books-about-libraries kick lately. I spotted this one while my mom was purging her shelves and decided to give it a try.

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria by Lauren Willig: This is the first Pink Carnation book I've picked up. We'll see how it goes.


I finally posted my review of The Art Forger last Sunday in lieu of a Sunday Snapshot.

Movies watched:

the nice guys
The Nice Guys, starring Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, and Angourie Rice

First of all, I'm a sucker for noir crime movies set in Los Angeles, which is probably why my list of favorite movies includes LA Confidential, Mulholland Drive, Heat, etc. etc. And second of all, I love buddy cop stories. So this movie was pretty much guaranteed to make me happy. The plot, which centers around a porn film and political corruption, is suuuuuuper dumb; but this a minor point. Most of the movie is about watching Crowe and Gosling travel around LA getting into hilarious hijinks. The two have fantastic chemistry and are fun to watch, but the real star of the movie is Rice, who plays Gosling's preternaturally self-possessed 13-yo daughter. I wish this movie was a series so I could keep watching these characters! An entertaining flick for sure.

This week in heidenkindom:

It's been a busy few weeks, friends. I was working double time at my day job to help out while the owner and his wife were on vacation. I also got a new writing gig (hopefully, if my first few articles are what they want–fingers crossed!), so I had to focus on that and try to make some really great words. hooray words

Then on Wednesday my mom and I went to Palisade to visit some Colorado wineries. After that and the wine course I'm taking and the article I wrote on rosé wine, I am wined out! I think the trip will be a good investment for future articles, though, and we had fun.

My favorite part of the trip was actually visiting Colorado National Monument. Here are a few pics:

Grape vines

Ninety-nine barrels of wine on the wall, ninety-nine barrels of wiiiiiiine...

The Book Cliffs


Pretty cactus flowers

There were A LOT of loudly decorated VW minibusses in the Grand Junction area.

More scenery


I'm hosting Tech Month in June over Book Bloggers International! If you have any favorite apps, tips, websites, or blogging tools you'd like to write about, email me over at BBI.

Have a good week, everyone!

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Review: THE ART FORGER by BA Shapiro

the art forger

Claire Roth, expert Degas art reproducer and aspiring painter of original works, is approached by gallery owner Aiden Markel to paint a copy of a Degas masterwork. It would be business as usual for Claire, if only the painting wasn't the one stolen in the infamous 1990 Gardner Heist. But is the painting *really* the one painted by Degas? And will Claire and Aiden get away with switching one painting out for another?

Setting the very dodgy art history in this book aside–which I'm willing to recognize few besides myself would care about–The Art Forger had some major narrative issues that prevented me from thoroughly enjoying it.

Spoilers ahoy, mateys!

First and least of all, The Art Forger is a bit predictable and some plot points rely way too heavily on convenient coincidences. For example, Claire's only friends include a curator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, plus a lawyer with a passion for art. You can see where this is going, can't you friends? Hint hint: the curator will intervene on her behalf and the lawyer will keep her case from turning into the next Netflix true crime documentary series.

Secondly and more annoyingly, the plausibility issues were occasionally mind-boggling. The one I kept getting stuck on was that she approaches her curator friend with the story that: 1., the recently returned Degas painting is a copy that she painted; and 2. that she thinks the "real" Degas is hidden in a museum sub-basement.

This is not suspicious in and of itself, but given that said curator friend knows she's been shacking up with the man recently arrested for selling the stolen Degas painting, I find it incredible he didn't add two and two and come up with THEY WERE IN ON IT TOGETHER. I mean, that's a pretty odd coincidence, no? Yet instead of exhibiting natural skepticism, he swallows Claire's story whole and winds up endangering his job–something I can tell you for a fact is NOT easy to come by–by letting her into the museum after hours. Don't even get me started.

Another point that made my brain hurt was Claire's belief that if she found this mythical "real" Degas painting, Aiden will no longer be charged with selling stolen goods.

what gif

OKAY, BUT WHAT???? Just because the stolen painting wasn't a real Degas doesn't mean Aiden didn't sell stolen goods. It was still the painting that was stolen from the Gardner. Whether it's a Degas or a Dr Seuss isn't really relevant to the question of his guilt or lack thereof.

Not to mention there's this whole thing about intent and, since far as Aiden was concerned the painting WAS a real Degas, and he did fully intended to make money off it, you can't really argue he's not guilty. Unless you're delusional, have never watched TV, and can't be bothered to read up on basic US laws.

Finally, there's a whole bunch of pointless, boring stuff. Tip: go ahead and just skip over Belle Gardner's letters. The characters sum up what they were about for you at the very end of the book, which is handy. The scenes in the prison, which I imagine were supposed to make Claire seem like not quite as much of a greedy sad sack with a broken moral compass, were simply irritating; and the flashbacks to her contretemps over her first forgery didn't impress me with her emotional maturity or intelligence.

Basically, I found this book to be pretty difficult to buy into. Maybe I just know too much about art, but I'd like to think whatever knowledge I posses or don't wouldn't matter with an author who does their homework and takes the time to establish character motivation. And besides, at least half of the stuff that bothered me wasn't about art at all.

I did enjoy Xe Sands narration on the audio, but I probably won't be checking out any of Shapiro's other books.

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sunday Snapshot for Mother's Day 2016

Sofie guarding the reading nook from intruders.
Happy Mother's Day!

Currently reading:

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman: Fun if not exactly original.

Still Life by Louise Penny: Ben totally did it, guys.

Movies watched:

I haven't watched any movies recently. I am working my way through Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix, about a woman who goes to NYC after being trapped in a bunker for 15 years. It's a cute show! I definitely recommend it to anyone who went through middle school in the '90s.

This week in heidenkindom:

Busy! Last week the gun store moved locations and I helped out with that. The owner and his wife are also away on vacation, so I've been working double time there to help out. Fortunately I haven't gotten any major writing assignments in so far, so I'm not too stressed out.


This is bizarrely the most popular thing I've tweeted in months. Possibly years. Via xkcd:

But seriously guys, enough with the full-width justification.

Have a great week!

Discus this post with me on Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ or in the comments below.


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