Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Wild Hunt Has RETURNED!






Bobby Nash is one of the most prolific and coolest authors I've ever known. He's always writing, or plotting, or doing something to further his career. He just never stops. So it was that, while a rainy yet profitable day of selling at the Cooper Young Community Farmers Market, I dove into Alexandra Holzer's Ghost Gal: The Wild Hunt, a published by Raven's Head Press. Wow, what a ride!  The story is thus: Alexandra Holzer follows in her famous father's footsteps (say THAT three times fast!) in her career choice of being a paranormal investigator in 1960s New York City. Between her and her fiance, Joshua, ghosts don't stand a chance! However, due to an honest mistake, an ancient and dangerous spirit is freed from his prison, seeking revenge on the one who imprisoned him so many years ago - Hans Holzer. This spirit, known as a sluagh, seeks to bring back The Wild Hunt once more!

The slim book is chock full of great action, memorable characters, and a distinct longing for book two! I will freely admit that of the characters, my favourite has to be Jacob Black. When you read the book, you'll know why. He is sleek, dangerous, and . . . well, that's all I'm going to say about him. Nash's take on the The Wild Hunt was well done; I never get tired of reading about such a terrifying event within the Otherworld. Nash's writing is pure and true with this book; if you have never experienced the mind of Nash, Ghost Gal: The Wild Hunt is a great place to start. If you are familiar with his works, you won't be disappointed. A great book to read on a rainy day!

EX LIBRIS!


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Holidays with POETRY!




No matter what you celebrate, I wish each and every one of you Happy Gothic Holidays!

No, on to POETRY!

Poetry is still relevant in this world. Sometimes, a thought or a complex emotion can't be conveyed properly unless if it's through poetry (look up the works of Eric Syrdal, for example). Author, professor, bellydancer, and all around Amazing Woman (trademark) Kathryn Hinds is no stranger when it comes to conveying thoughts and images into beautiful words. Her poetry book, Candle Thread, and Flute, as published through Luna Station Press, is filled with words that will transport you into a different realm and mindset. By the end of her book, you will definitely see the world through different eyes.

The book is divided into three sections: Masks and Voices, Turnings, and Water and Other Elements. Although each section has its own "feel" to it, the words are all Kathryn. Some of the poems could easily be sung to music or chanted. She possesses the ability to weave words together without sounding overly dramatic or wooden. She speaks what she knows, of which encompasses a great deal. Several of my favourites are: "Tuxedo Cat's Haiku", "Two Dreams", "A Meditation", "Call to the Darkness", and "Sunset Over Lake Ontario". Although all of the poems are incredible, these particular ones stand out for me, either for a moment of smiling or a rush of creativity.

Thank you, Kathryn, as always. See you soon!

Now, time to open presents and have a cup of tea!

EX LIBRIS!


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Of Rampart and Toulouse





Rampart and Toulouse proves that yet again, author/photographer Kristin Fouquet is blessed with the gift of storytelling. This collection includes Becoming Obsolete, Varietals, Paris is the Pretty One and the novella, Rampart and Toulouse. Each story is part of the grand puzzle that makes NOLA . . . NOLA.

Becoming Obsolete is the short story of Lucky and Chris who are both repairmen with a hint of shyster to them. However, they do show a sense of humility when it comes to fleecing certain customers. Varietals is a touching story of a well to do woman named Helene and a homeless man named Cyril and their connection regarding wine. Paris is the Pretty One tells the bittersweet story of sisters Claire and Simone and how beauty can be most destructive. After reading that story, I sent a quick message to Kristin regarding my feelings about it. For those of you who have ever read the book The Bell Jar, this story will remind you of that tragic tale. Funny how madness can take many forms.

The novella, Rampart and Toulouse, was quite a delight to read - artist Vivienne Diodorus rents a small apartment from a lovely and morbidly obese woman named Sweet Sue. The place has neither electricity nor any air conditioning, yet it is Heaven for Vivienne. After getting acquainted with Father Tim and Lance, other residents of the establishment, Vivienne sets her sights to paint and live the life of a bohemian. However, her life changes when she is witness to a shooting and when she takes a lover who is twice her age and soon, not even her artwork is enough. Yet, as Vivienne comes to realize, friends are angels in disguise, no matter how far they have fallen.

I really, really tried to slow down in reading this book yet that attempt proved to be futile. As I have stated before in my other reviews of Fouquet's works - she is her own voice to the spirit of NOLA. I truly hope that people will purchase her works - if you enjoy stories filled with larger than life characters that seem all too real, wrapped in wrapping called the city of New Orleans, Kristin Fouquet is your author. I have one last book of hers and I am honestly reading as many other books as I can before I read it.

In case you are interested, here is the book trailer for Rampart and Toulouse!


Thank you again, Kristin!


EX LIBRIS!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Boo Daddies and Voodoo Chickens in NOLA





I never get enough of books set in New Orleans; it's considered to be my Second Home for years as well as  occupies a special place in my black heart. Jake Istenhegyi: The Accidental Detective by Nikki Nelson- Hicks and published through ProSe Press, is now a part of the list. This two day devour of a read was well packed with good action, great characters that will not be forgotten, and chickens. We can't forget the chickens.

A Chick, A Dick, and A Witch Walk Into a Barn starts the book off on a good note - Jake, formerly known as Janos who hails from Hungary, is owner of the Odyssey Shop, a book and antiquities shop in NOLA. He and his friend and Barrington "Bear" Gunn, a private investigator and lover of all pulp stories, co-exist in the building under the watchful eye of Mama Effie, one of the many colourful characters in Jake's life. One day, Bear decides to take up the case involving a missing man . . . and never returns to the shop. It's up to Jake to discover his partner's whereabouts and avoid getting killed in the swamps of Louisiana! Golems, Goons, and Stone Cold Bitches, the second story, has Jake facing two sisters who would do anything to avoid the cold brush of Death as they race to obtain the Vitae Aeternam Sal! It's amazing what a little salt can do. The last story, Boo Daddies, Bogs, and A Dead Man's Booty thrusts Jake into a group of treasure hunters who are seeking the Cross of Trismegitus, an object that apparently holds a piece of the Vitae Aeternam Sal. However, all is NOT quiet on the NOLA front as Jake encounters vengeful spirits, giant rats, stinking boo daddies, sweet sweet love making, and Death, again (of which doesn't harm him - you'll have the read the book to find out why!) It's never a stroll in the park for Jake as he assumes the role of the Accidental Detective!

Nelson-Hicks shows she's got good chops when it comes to telling good pulp action stories; Jake Istenhegyi is a character that I hope she will do more with very soon. As I read the book, I instantly heard his "voice" - very Eastern European with a hint of weariness and determination. In fact, although Jake Istenhegyi is the "narrator" of the three stories, one can clearly hear each of the characters' rich voices - from the deep bellow of Bear, to the wheedling and simpering Radu, to the sultry and seductive Pearl, to the shifty and devious (yet with a small kind heart) Mama Effie, these stories do come to life. The action and gory scenes are quite a nice touch as well (the scene with Rosie, Joe, and Judd is one that I won't forget for a LONG time - that was just damn . . . damn!) It also helps to play music from the 20s and 30s while reading this book - I suggest Benny Goodman.

I had spoken with Nikki several months ago about creating a tea blend for this book; now that I've read The Accidental Detective, the tea blend can't wait to be made! Look for a post coming soon!

EX LIBRIS!



Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Season of Murder in Iceland!





It's really hard to write a review when you've got The Maltese Falcon playing in the background. Such an amazing movie (haven't read the book yet!) that is a grand mixture of lies, murder, deceit, and acting! Icelandic author Arni Thorarinsson's book Season of the Witch is a dazzling combination of those same elements, all wrapped up in the country of Iceland.

The story is thus: Reykjavik crime reporter Einar is assigned a newspaper position in the small town of Akureyri, a job that doesn't seem to promise much. However, after a woman falls to her death during a wilderness trip, things begin to pick up. It seems as though it was an accident until a young male actor is found burned to death in a junk yard. The two murders appear to not be related . . . or are they? Suddenly, Einar and his friend and photographer Joa find themselves in a web of myths, murder, drugs, and greed, not to mention spoiled dogs and birds! The last scene of the book caused me to smile - poor Einar. When you read it, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Season of the Witch is the only book by Thorarinsson that has been translated into English, unless if you speak Icelandic. Maybe I'm late in noticing this, but it seems that there has been a bumper crop of mysteries and thrillers from the Nordic part of the world. And, from what I've read or seen as movies so far, these stories are NOT for the faint of heart (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, anyone?) These mysteries stay long with you after you've turned the last page, albeit with a bitter chill that runs down your spine. As much as I love British mysteries and the "I must have a cup of tea when I read them" feeling, Nordic mysteries are much darker and more sinister. After reading Season of the Witch, I want to either: learn Icelandic so I can read Thorarinsson's other books, travel to Iceland and see this country for myself, or enjoy more Einstok Icelandic White Ale . . . . or hell, do all of it!

EX LIBRIS and SKAL!



Sunday, December 18, 2016

April Enchantment . . . and Beyond





I'm a sucker for British period dramas: Middlemarch, Jane Eyre, Bleak House, you name it. As much as I enjoy reading the books, I also love watching the stories come to life. Such is the case with The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim. For years, I have been a fan of the film Enchanted April starring Miranda Richardson, Alfred Molina, and Joan Plowright. The film is simple and sweet amid a healthy dose of British-isms; a perfect film to watch with a cup of tea and cookies.

In reading the book, I realized that this is a rare moment in which both the book and the movie are excellent. The story is thus: four women from various backgrounds in 1920s England spend the month of April at San Salvatore, a castle in Italy. Two of the women, Mrs. Lotty Wilkins and Mrs. Rose Arbuthnot, use the time to escape their ungrateful and uncaring husbands. Lady Caroline Dester (or Scrap as she's affectionately called), uses the time to escape a life filled with "grabbing" admirers and a posh life that leaves her drained. Mrs. Fisher uses the time to enjoy her old age and to constantly reminisce about her dead literary friends, for she has no use for the living. These four women escape Hampstead and London in search of "Wisteria and Sunshine" in Italy and, after some initial bumps and language barriers, get that and so much more.



Von Arnim's delightful book is just that - delightful. The characters come to full bloom within Italy as they reach outside of their London comfort zone for something different, something wonderful. Even when Mr. Wilkins, a boorish and dominating man, and Mr. Arbuthnot, a writer of sordid and entertaining novels, visit their wives at San Salvatore, they can not escape Life fueled by beauty. Scrap only wants to be left alone, to enjoy her solitude among the flowers, yet she is denied that due to her beauty and blue blood; everyone wants to be around her and to take in her beauty. All she wants is a nap. However, when Mr. Briggs, the eccentric and kindhearted owner of the caste, stops by for a visit, Scrap finds herself to be the target of his admiration, even after he initially bestowed them upon Rose due to her classical looks. Mrs. Fisher wishes to remain with the dead, yet the dead speak words that have been repeated in her life for many years. Through San Salvatore, she finally realizes that she wishes to live among the living. Rose is a pious woman whose husband pays little attention to her; why spend time under the glaring eyes of God when there are so many admirers of his "naughty" books, one being Scrap herself? Lotty is scared to live her life with her husband; he tells her what to do and thinks nothing of it. However, Lotty is a free spirit, one who blossoms the most at the castle, thereby infecting everyone else with her willingness to reach out to something new.

How many of us want to do just that? Reach outside of our comfort zone to try something new, or make a new friend, or change our lives completely? Sometimes, all it takes is one small decision, one choice, and our lives are changed forever. As so many people say - Life is short. Don't waste it with regrets or "if only's". Hike that mountain, swim that ocean, travel, read a new book, make a new friend, etc. Although the book takes place in the 1920s, The Enchanted April is a guide for those who want more in their lives. Wisteria and Sunshine are quite nice.

EX LIBRIS!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Epicurious in the 901 - Trolley Stop Market






Going to Trolley Stop Market in The Edge District of Memphis  is quite an adventure. Arriving ten minutes late for dinner with my friend Jean Marie, my mind was already thinking about what I wanted to order. Trolley Stop Market has a wide variety of items to choose from, yet they are known for their HUGE slices of pizza. However, as much as their delicious pizza slices do tempt me, I decided to try their veggie burger.

Oh. My.


Let's face it - who can resist a milkshake? Even a person who is lactose intolerant?! Their strawberry milkshakes are thick and full of flavour . . . and they bring all the boys to the yard. I hope I did that right. Anyway, my meal began with a lovely strawberry milkshake and Elvis singing in the background about a Blue Christmas. Only in Memphis.




When our waiter brought out our food, I almost wondered if he got my order right - I wanted a VEGGIE burger. However, after mashing that sandwich you see above into something that could fit into in my mouth without too much embarrassment, my taste buds began to sing in operatic glee! The only other veggie burger that I truly enjoy is the one at Huey's, yet this one proved to be a close second, if not nudging Huey's out of the number one slot. I'm not really sure what they put in their veggie burger, but I can tell you this: you won't miss eating beef or turkey. The sauteed mushrooms, onions, and green bell peppers were done right with just enough accompanying flavour to the patty. The potato salad was divine as well; as much as I wanted to try their hand cut fries, the potato salad called out to me. Glad I chose it.



After my friend ordered a slice of their strawberry cake, I just knew I had to order a slice as well. Choosing from carrot, banana, strawberry, and chocolate, I decided upon the chocolate. Again - Oh. My. Everything about my slice of cake rounded out a perfect (and VERY filling) dinner. They also have cookies and pies, so the choice for your sweet tooth craving is quite vast!



Trolley Stop Market is not only a restaurant with good and hip food, but it's also home to merchandise made by local artists! From jewelry to spices, from coffee to artwork, Trolley Stop Market is a great place for food and gifts . . . and Elvis!


FOODIE ON!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Tale of an Imaginary Boy





Meeting one of the founders of The Cure was something I never thought I would do in my life, yet thanks to The Booksellers at Laurelwood, I did.

I was introduced to the Goth scene during my years at university; during my time, it was known as the Second Wave of Goth - bands like Rosetta Stone, Switchblade Symphony, Machines of Loving Grace (yes, they were Industrial), The Shroud and many others. When I went to my first Goth Night, I felt as though I had slipped into another world, one in which people didn't look at me like I was some freak, or that I was trying to "be" something else. I was simply a young woman who liked a lot of black and read a lot of vampire and other novels. The Goth subculture may have evolved with more cyber influences, yet the feeling, the music, is still the same. Goth is very much a state of mind. Being an Elder Goth is awesome! But I digress.

(Letter to Elise)

Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys is the story of Lol Tolhurst, co-founder of The Cure. Within this quick yet highly insightful read is the rise and fall and rise again of one of the most influential bands in the history of music. To some, The Cure was just a Goth band. To many others, they were what they felt yet didn't know how to express it. From their debut album, Three Imaginary Boys, to 4:13 Dream, The Cure's music has been a place where people who think outside of the norm could feel understood. The founders came from a small suburban town in England and dreamt of escaping. Through their music, they were able to do so. Cured is about The Cure, as seen and experienced through Tolhurst, who went to Hell and back several times on a wave of alcohol. Yet, after many years of abusing himself, he finally found the strength to clean himself up and return to what he loved - music.

(39)

This memoir is a short read yet you will never listen to The Cure's music the same way again. While reading the book, I listened to Three Imaginary Boys and Pornography as well as some of my favourite Cure songs like 39 and Letter to Elise. I hate to sound cliche, but they really are works of dark and intelligent art. Tolhurst spoke about his friendship with Robert and that they are still friends to this day. Tolhurst, like Robert, were and still are people who are not meant to be in cubicles. They were meant to make the imaginary so very real.

Excellent read, Mr. Tolhurst. Thank you for visiting Memphis!



EX LIBRIS!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Frank Savage: The Dark Cowboy





I first met author Greg Norgaard  at Pulp Ark several years and decided to take a chance on Savage Noir: The Complete Adventures of Frank Savage, published through Pro Se Press. As the cover of the book states, the book is comprised of THREE BOLD TALES OF WESTERN NOIR!

What, as I began the reading the book several days ago, is Western Noir? Well . . . . imagine, if you will, if the Maltese Falcon occurred in the West. Literally. That may be a weak interpretation of the genre, yet that's exactly how Savage Noir felt as I read it. Yes, the stories were set during the time known as the Wild West, yet there is a gritty and dark underbelly to the stories. After reading this book, you will want a shot of whiskey, or several.

Frank Savage, retired from the US Government, is a cowboy who likes his whiskey strong and his women even stronger with a dash of hot. When confronted with those who mean to do others harm, Savage becomes a man you don't want to tangle with in a dark alley. When he fights, he usually fights until someone is dead or completely regretting their choice. Welcome to the Savage Noir, where everyone has secrets and nothing is sacred in the West.

A Savage Retribution - the first story - introduces us to Savage and the world he occupies. During a stagecoach trip, Savage must face those from his past and handle them in a way he thought buried and hidden away. However, thanks to a decision made years ago, he must now stain the earth with blood again.

A Savage Darkness leans more towards Noir than Western: Savage and his friends must track down a group of coldblooded killers to Chicago who kill for the amusement. Death becomes a close friend of Savage as he must search for not only the group of psychopaths but also their anonymous and highly dangerous leader.

An American Savage is the final story in the book - Savage must travel to England to wrap up one last "loose end" thought long gone, thanks to a fan of his who loves reading dime store novels!

Savage, clearly the good guy in this book, does have his moments of darkness, moments when he reacts with no remorse. His bloody past haunts him yet all he can do is move forward. It's all he knows. He's like a great white shark: when he's on the case, he must move or die.

In short, this book was a fantastic read, thereby giving me more reason to love Western stories beyond the movies. Norgaard's writing is harsh and brutal, leaving nothing to the imagination. The scene of Gil's thumb and a man's eye . . . wow. I read that section twice because it was just that graphic. People die in bad, bad ways in Savage's world and justice is just as brutal. Nice.

Another winner from Pro Se Press!

EX LIBRIS!


Saturday, December 10, 2016

~ putty ~





Of course, when I sit alone in my space
My refuge when I no longer wish to be human
I smoke, horrible, and think -
Dreaming of times when I was a thought
And not just a smear upon the wall.
Perhaps this is melodramatic; a sign of weakness
Among those who live for the written word
But I must confess that I am
In this way…unhappy.
Sacrificed like so many other times
When I was young and flexible like putty
Able to be molded into whatever others wished of me
Now, the clay is hardened;
Whatever was last implanted upon me
Has remained.
So, I drink tea made of clouds to forget
And instead turn myself towards the unseen

To melt my clay and give me sanity.


(Elmwood Cemetery - copyright Kimberly B. Richardson 2015)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

~ intellect ~



She is not moved,
Affected by the world around her-
She has thoughts keeping her busy.
She never turned from understanding,
Only wanted more like an addiction,
Savoring each drop, teasing herself as if
It were the last; so much a student.
She is not moved by material, bane -
She has no concept of the world around her -

Only the universe within.

(photo taken at Elmwood Cemetery - Memphis, Tennessee)

Monday, December 5, 2016

From Iceland Comes a GREAT Beer




One of my friends, author JC Crumpton, used to live in Iceland when he was a child. I told him that the only things I knew about Iceland were the author Sjon and Bjork. However, ever since delving deep into the Nordic thanks to Viking (yes, he is a real person in my life), I've been wanting to know more about the countries that make up part of that world. To date, I love Wardruna, have always been a fan of Garmarna, know enough Swedish to get me into trouble, and think that the works of R R Hunsinger are amazing!

For a while, I'd been eyeing a most interesting beer, wondering if I should try it. Well, when in Rome or in this case - Iceland. Welcome to the world of Einstok Beer Company, made in Akueyri, Iceland!




My initial dive into Einstok began with the Icelandic White Ale. WOW! Great taste with just the right mix of coriander and orange peel - heaven! This beer should not be gulped down but rather sipped and enjoyed. If you are looking for a great light beer that is beyond your "comfort zone" - look no further than the Einstok Icelandic White Ale!

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's back to writing and continued enjoyment of this beer.

Skol! 

(Yes, that's Swedish but you get the idea)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Death in Memphis Comes Alive





When Kim McCollum with Elmwood Cemetery here in Memphis asked me if I wanted to be their photographer in residence last year, I was stunned. Yet, now over a year later, I'm humbled to have worked with such an amazing and quite historical place. I feel like family, if that makes any sense. I even have a tea blend made especially for the cemetery! Thanks to the book, Images of America: Elmwood Cemetery by Kimberly McCollum and Willy Bearden, my appreciation of the cemetery has grown. If you are looking for a holiday gift for someone who loves history, anything involving the South, Memphis history, cemetery history, or just a really cool gift, you can't go wrong with this book!



Elmwood Cemetery was opened in 1852 and since then has become the final resting place of many a famous (and infamous) Memphian. Elmwood was the final place of those who died from natural causes, epidemics like the Yellow Fever, or from strange and unusual circumstances. Although most memorial gardens and graveyards have the small square stone or tombstone for their dead, cemeteries like Elmwood are a part of an almost forgotten history. Once you cross the bridge into the cemetery, you feel as though you have traveled back in time, or that you have stumbled into a beautiful Necropolis. McCollum and Bearden have presented the cemetery in such a way that you can't help but feel life flowing through every page.



The book also mentions the meanings behind cemetery symbols on tombstones and statues like ivy (everlasting life), arches (portal in which the soul passes into immortality), weeping willows (death was final), and many others. Many of the lives of the "residents" are mentioned in the book as well; I had no idea that Elmwood was the final home to so many colourful beings who added to the overall spirit that is Memphis. Even the victims and heroes of the Yellow Fever are mentioned in the book with much care and detail to the tragic history.


The book is available through Elmwood's website or in their gift shop. I highly recommend taking one of their tours to get a feel of the place, or visiting during one of their events such as Spirits with the Spirits. I will warn you - plan to spend several hours at Elmwood if you want to try to see everything, yet the time is well worth it!

EX LIBRIS!


(all photos taken by me with much respect for the "residents")



Friday, December 2, 2016

The Beginning of a New End



As many of you know, I LOVE Cyberpunk. William Gibson, Wintermute, The Ghost in the Shell, The Matrix (only the first one!), all of it. I love the concept of "high tech/low life" and that we are honestly not that far away from such a world. As of now, our very lives are on a small thin device that can not only take phone calls but also tell you the weather, play songs, and even read stories to you. More and more people are getting body parts replaced with machines, possibly leading to far more extreme surgeries and enhancements.

Take Shelly, the main character in the book Cybergenesis, for example. Although she looks and acts human, she is a cyborg who is also a Diver. Divers are those who "use cybernetics to immerse themselves in computer programs", and Shelly and her crew are experts in the field. It may be a thankless job, but it is quite the exciting and sometimes frightening job to take. Shelly and her team, Beau (husband), Sophie (the new recruit), and Collin, receive a mission that will clear their debt and cut them loose from their obligation to their employer, the corporation Cyberize. However, their last mission proves to be their most dangerous and strangely enough, enlightening, one they've ever had. As for Shelly, it becomes the chance of a lifetime that may literally never die.

I first met author Amanda McCarter at GlitchCon and, after having several really cool conversations with her, I knew that I was going to enjoy her work. Needless to say, I LOVED this book! Cybergenesis has the right mixture of mystery and humour wrapped in a Cyberpunk frame, with a nice and believable dash of human limitation. When Shelly and her team reach the space station to conduct their last mission, they are met with hostile and bigoted people who want nothing to do with the cyborgs. The station residents see themselves as fully human and therefore right in the image of God. Anyone or thing who adds to God's design is seen as a freak, yet I found myself shaking my head in shock when the residents' secret is revealed. What makes one "human"? Thought, emotions, love, fear? The fact that one can eat or drink, or perhaps that one believes themselves to be alive? McCarter presents several interesting concepts in Cybergenesis regarding Life and Death, especially Life. This book will not only entertain you but also enlighten you.

There is a second book and if I were you, I'd order both so as not to get frustrated when you fly through the first one.

EX LIBRIS!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Epicurious in the 901 - Soul Fish Cafe





After coming home from a not so great day at work to find that my place was without power, I quickly made an Executive Decision and drove to Soul Fish Cafe for some much needed good food! Soul Fish Cafe is one of those places where you can't go wrong with anything on the menu - whether you want seafood, catfish, or a good and hearty salad, Soul Fish Cafe has what you're looking for!

Although I've tried several items on the menu, my go to has been and always will be the crawfish po-boy (and yes we do have them in Memphis, unlike one of my dearest NOLA friends tells me that it's CRAYFISH up here!) The po-boys comes with your choice of side - guaranteed stuffed belly within minutes!



A friend of mine once taught me a nice "trick" - eat as much of the crawfish with your fork before trying to stuff the po-boy in your mouth - prevents embarrassing accidents leading to you wearing your food. The crawfish is nicely fried and seasoned well and the remoulade is perfect for dipping or smearing on your po-boy. My photo many not look like a lot of food but it is. I'm sure the other po-boys are just as good but for me, the crawfish is a WINNER!

Although I was feeling sort of full from my meal, I had to order dessert. They are one of the best places in the 901 for cakes - the strawberry and banana cakes are divine! However, I wanted to try a new flavour, so I ordered the carrot cake!



The chilled cake slice was perfect in taste and the icing was not too sweet - great way to end your meal!

Like I said, I have yet to have a bad meal at Soul Fish Cafe - a nice place to enjoy a quiet lunch or to enjoy dinner with friends and family. If you are going to be visiting Memphis soon, make sure to have time to visit Soul Fish Cafe! They have several locations in the 901 and the iced tea always flows!



FOODIE ON!

Monday, November 28, 2016

THE SAPPHIRE OF INDIA!




1961 India.

The Portuguese rule parts of India with an iron and crooked fist. The native men are seen as crumbs and the women worse than that. One downtrodden woman named Nakushi decides to fight back - with the aid of Agni, the god of storms, she becomes Bombay Sapphire! When she says the word Ashmita, she transforms into a dazzling being with blue skin and clothing and dark blue hair. She can fly, gain weapons in her hand with a mere thought, and delivers more damage to her enemies while barely lifting her finger.

Author and Alban Lake publisher Tyree Campbell delivers a knockout with Bombay Sapphire, the first book in the trilogy through ProSe Press. This slim novel delivers more than expected from the norm of superheroes. Nakushi/Bombay Sapphire hates what's being done in and to her country, yet the evil tendrils dig deep. Her sister, Savitra, wants a clean place to live, food every day, and pretty saris to wear. When she learns that her older sister is a superhero, the desire for more and better quickly consumes her, driving her to do the imaginable. Nakushi/Bombay Sapphire fights for all that is right and just, even as the evil moves ever closer towards her.

One main reason why I like Bombay Sapphire so much is because, although she is immune to danger to a point, she still has moments of doubt and concern. She is, in short, REAL. As many of you know, I am a big fan of Moon Knight (Fist of Khonshu!). I like him for the fact that, although he is truly a bad ass, he's also very real and vulnerable at times. His insanity is his Achilles Heel, one that I don't think will ever go away. With Bombay Sapphire, she makes choices between fighting the bad guys or eating rice and vegetables. Doing what's right for her country or keeping her little sister out of trouble. When she steals money from the Portuguese, it would have been all too easy to keep the money and completely turn her and her sister's lives around. However, she sets aside her personal problems for the problems of many. The many voices of Bharat.

That, to me, is a true superhero.

EX LIBRIS!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Epicurious in the 901 - Queen of Sheba Restaurant





While working the Cooper Young Community Farmers Market yesterday, a man and fellow foodie informed me of a great little Middle Eastern restaurant in the 901 that I had to check out. Queen of Sheba, he informed me, was a place I needed to visit hungry. The man informed me that the chef was from Yemen, to which my eyes grew wide. He also informed me several times to try the tea. After he talked about the tea the first time, I made up my mind to visit as soon as the market was over. So glad I did!

For those who you who live in the 901 or visit frequently, Queen of Sheba is right off Summer Avenue, 4792 Summer Avenue to be exact, east of the Summer Avenue/Covington Pike intersection. The place is small yet don't let that fool you: this place is packed with good food at very reasonable prices.



My meal began with a small yet very tasty cup of tea. When I took the first sip, I think I moaned. It's black, sweet, and minty - perfect! The tea was enough for me, yet I knew my lunch would be arriving soon. When the waiter brought it to me . . . well, just look at the photo below.


This delightful set up consisted of lamb haneeth with rice and potatoes, hummus with olive oil, and bread. The lamb was so tender that it fell off the bone, while the rice and potatoes were perfectly seasoned. I had to keep stopping myself from shoveling food in my mouth. The hummus tasted fresh and flavourful - almost as if it was made that same day. Probably was. While eating and reading, I kept wondering if I wanted dessert. I finally decided When In Rome and saved part of my meal to take home so I could order Ma'soob.


When my waiter brought out my dessert, I wasn't really sure what to make of it, yet when he handed me a spoon, I figured I would dig right in and see just what I had ordered. Ma'soob, according to the menu, is a blend of bananas with ground flatbread, mixed with honey, nuts, cream, and raisins. It was warm and lightly sweet and quite good, yet several spoonfuls later, I realized that my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I quickly asked my waiter for take out boxes.

If you are looking for great Middle Eastern food, Queen of Sheba is an excellent place that will provide you just that.

FOODIE ON!


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Twenty Stories . . . All NOLA





I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. If you weren't able to be with loved ones, I hope it was still a good one.

Twenty Stories has now made me a full fangirl of author/photographer Kristin Fouquet. These stories, seemingly based in NOLA, show off the city and Her residents in a light that only locals and regulars can understand and appreciate. I've been visiting NOLA ever since I was a child, yet there is always something new to discover whenever I'm down there.

Some of my favourite stories are "The Painters", "Dames of Dumaine", "The Moon is New but Love is Old", "Another Initiation", and "A Reason to Believe". Although all of the stories are simply delightful, those really stood out in my mind. Fouquet's writing, as I informed Viking (yes, that is a real person in my life), is like smoking a cigarette and drinking a glass of absinthe while your lover reads to you in a house one rainy day. She speaks and breathes NOLA; her love of the city comes through her writing.

When I first read Fouquet's work, I was in Rue de la Course, a bank turned coffee shop in the Oak Street area in NOLA. I just visited Blue Cypress Books and wanted to take a break. Fouquet was perfect to read as classical music floated through the place while I sipped on lemongrass tea. I can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, but by the gods, I can remember moments like that!

Fouquet's website - Le Salon - shows off her photography, writing, and where to purchase her books. Since today is Small Business Day, it's a nice place to start.

Thank you again, Kristin - maybe we can have lunch the next time I'm down there.

EX LIBRIS!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Great Sorcerer Needs A Great Tea! NEW TEA BLEND!



It's 9:31pm and I'm watching the awesome anime Shigurui (Death Frenzy) while making tea for Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention ! If you are going to be in the 901 this weekend, you need to check it out. A lot of fun for everyone!



Let me get right to the point with the new tea blend - Nickadeamus' Tea! This simple blend of assam tea and dried goji berries is perfect for a brooding sorcerer - dark and salty sweet! This blend was inspired by the book The Truth of Betrayal, written by Jason Fedora. Here's the blurb from the book:

They can strike at any time, from anywhere. A shadow assassin could be anyone. It could even be the daughter of the King himself. Nickadeamus finds himself trying to prevent the Kingdom of Altera from being plunged into another disastrous and bloody conflict. 

Not only does he have to contend with potential assassins, an ancient book - The Book of Forgotten of Sorrows, has been stolen by Mordkom, his one-time friend and brother. Created from the blood and ashes of the War of Sorrows, the book should have never been written. Filled with the type of secrets that never should have been whispered, it was sealed away in a secret room for seven hundred years. 

Nickadeamus now has to hunt down this murderous thief by following a trail of sorrow, deceit, death, and betrayal. Not only must he learn the secrets of the book, Nickadeamus must also stop Mordkom from delivering The Book of Forgotten Sorrows to the Dark Emperor of Drath-cull.




I read the book not too long ago and loved it - a great book to read if you enjoy fantasy or adventure or both! 

The tea will be available through my Etsy store, ViridianTeaCompany, and it will be premiered at MCFC this weekend! Be one of the first to try Nickadeamus' Tea! Also, Jason Fedora will be a guest at MCFC; stop by his table and purchase his book!

May your Cup never dry!


Monday, November 14, 2016

One Woman's Treacherous Paradise





The late Swedish author Henning Mankell, best known for his Wallander mysteries, was also known for other stand alone novels that seemed to be on the edge of mystery yet be so much more. A Treacherous Paradise tells the story of Hannah, a young Swedish woman in the early 1900s who leaves her small town on a ship in search of adventure in the faraway land of Australia. Although she discovers adventure, she finds it not in Australia but rather in Portuguese East Africa. There, after scrambling to land still reeling from the grief of losing her husband, mate Lundmark, she discovers a foreign world inhabited by a successful bordello, liars, murder, harsh racism, and a chimp who comes to be a friend.

This book reads like a nightmare softened by a dream, if that makes any sense. It took me a while to read several of the brutal scenes in the book, not because they were horrific to read but rather that Mankell wrote them so eloquently. His writing softened the blow of many of the injustices in the book and I found myself turning the pages even faster. Hannah witnesses much injustice against the blacks through the whites and wishes to rise above that, yet still falls into the trap of holding anger and frustration against them. However, she becomes more of a player in the "game" when she inherits the bordello of African women as owned by her late second husband, and even becomes the main defender of an African woman who is imprisoned for murdering her Portuguese husband. Everyone is a liar in the small town and everyone is a hypocrite, so long as whatever they do serves their needs for the time. The same white men who lash out at the blacks in town are the same ones who frequent the bordello. When the rumour of the rare appearance of an iceberg floats through town, everyone gathers together on the port to witness such a miracle without thought of race. However, when the rumour appears to be false, the fear and anger return just as quickly.

As much as I felt myself wanting to get angry at the events in the book, it stunned and pleased me to know that Mankell was involved in many charities in Africa and saw beyond colour. At the very end, Mankell discusses his "research" and advised that Hannah was based on a real Swedish woman who lived in Africa and owned a bordello - there's not too much information about her yet Mankell's book was a well justified example of what could have been.

EX LIBRIS!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

~ sensualist ~

Do you like John Keats,
I wonder while kissing you.
Salty sweet flesh
Prepare me for something greater.
You are of darkness and yet
It tickles my chin.
Honeyed tongue gives me no mercy
But only pleasure that blinds me.
Fallen, I wonder if it is true,
And still I smell the sulfur
Wrapped longingly around your body.
Keats could have been your Muse
If you were only so young;
I am smarter than that.
I want to deny you and yet I can not
For your lips I have yet to feel.
Today I discovered you in my mind
Sitting contentedly like a satisfied cat.
I still want to experience you
Knowing that it will cause my death.
Fellow sensualist are you,
Seducing me with candied words
And phrases developed by sybaritic gods.
I know I should expect more than this
As my desires knows no bounds.
I am lost because of you. 
Hades, claim my soul.

(Elmwood Cemetery - Memphis)


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

~ bliss ~



My tears will no longer come
yet my eyes are heavy from anger and lack of sleep.
A light - there is always a light -
is far away yet I can see it in the dense fog
created by a breaking of trust.
Someone broke it carefully, like an egg.
I want my tears to come,
seducing me into a false hope
that I can no longer deny but accept from within.
The light comes painfully,
ripping my skin apart,

preparing me for the next level of bliss.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

~ distorted ~




The rain patters quietly on the grass -
each drop a sensitive kiss -
what I focus on while listening to you
tell me you no longer love me.
Distorted focus helps the heart
mend faster; of course it should hurt
deeper - a realization that I am still alive.
So you pack your things
except your books
and leave, my eyes still focusing
on the extreme green grass;
too late to accept my wrongs, decided quickly

over green tea sipped carefully and no conversation.


Monday, November 7, 2016

~ mask ~




It is simple, really;
Prepare the mind
For what is to
Come and the rest
Falls like a deck
Of tattered cards.
A face, hidden behind
A mask of despair,
Was the best act
Ever performed.








Friday, November 4, 2016

A Dapper Man Needs a Dapper Tea!




Tea for a SHAVING COMPANY?!?!?!

Why yes. Yes, indeed.

So, it came to pass at Hypericon that, while sniffing and smelling several beard oils made by my friend under the company name of Dr. Mike's Shaving Emporium, that the idea for a tea came to light. Since my friend is quite the dapper man who smells nice, I wanted to make a tea that would suit the man who lives a different life: one who enjoys a smoking jacket with slippers, wears beard oil, and listens to old records while reading Jules Verne. Yes, THAT kind of man.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the newest blend of Viridian Tea Company:

Dr. Mike's Old Fashioned Tea!



This simple blend of assam tea, dried cherries, and dried orange peel will put you in the mood for a proper shave! And while you're at it, check out Dr. Mike's Shaving Emporium for all your shaving et al needs. He has quite a selection of shaving soaps, beard oils, mustache wax, shaving soap and more! For the record, I did learn that many of his products are good for women as well. His many beard oils are perfect as perfume for a woman who is looking for a different kind of scent. I highly recommend Devil's Cut - one sniff of this and I was in heaven! Think of a wickedly delicious mixture of bourbon and vanilla and then some.



The tea will be available through the Etsy store, ViridianTeaCompany, as well as any conventions that I attend, and possibly through Dr. Mike himself! I'm sure we can work out a proper deal.

Dr. Mike's Social Media Links: Facebook, Twitter - @DrMikesEmporium, and Instagram - drmikesemporium.


May Your Cup Never Dry!


Thursday, November 3, 2016

~ 16 November 2014 ~



This is what happens,” she said
when love has been given and thrown away.”
Her face, something I want to forget;
So many lines, each a sad tale.
Each one a reminder of how weak she used to be.
Eyes dull but still have the occasional spark
Created from defiance through rejection given.
Not too late - her mouth says although her lips
Do not move, only I can hear her thoughts.
Such anger caused her to deny movement
To any other part of her body.
Bitter, hating, the cycle played out over and over
Till she is dead, her body becoming organic.

Dreams fading away.

(Hollywood Cemetery - Jackson, Tennessee)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Murder Never Smelled Lovelier






Holy shit.

That was my initial reaction after reading Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind in over three hours today. Never had I been hit so hard by a book that also terrified me (except Syrenthia Falls by my dear friend and creepy brother Alexander Brown - love you!). There are only a handful of books that have terrified me. This is now a part of that list. I purchased Perfume yesterday and began reading it today. I think I got up twice to get snacks and prepare a cup of tea. I missed watching a film at the Brooks Museum of Art and didn't return a phone call until I had completed the book and was on my way to have dinner with the parental units. This is a book worth reading and adding to your collection.

The story is thus: 18th century France. A woman gives birth to a baby that she doesn't want, the fifth time that she's been pregnant. All of the other babies were stillborn except for this one. He is unlike any baby anyone has ever seen before. While the child doesn't look out of the ordinary, the baby is quite remarkable - he smells things. After being passed from wet nurse to orphanage, the young boy, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, becomes an apprentice to a tanner. Yet, his sense of smell is still greater than the average human and soon, he learns how to use it to his advantage. By sheer chance, he arrives one night at the establishment of Monsieur Baldini, a maker of perfumes and soon, his descent into the darkness begins. For although he uses his canny sense of smell to create such heavenly delights for the wealthy Madames and Monsieurs of France and the rest of the world, he also uses it in a sinister way. From flowers and spices to emotions and feelings, anything can be made into perfume.

Yet, Grenouille doesn't stop there. Because of his own lack of body scent, he seeks to create scents to bend people to his will - a scent to drive people towards him in adoration; a scent, made with cat poop, rancid cheese, and other sordid things to make people take notice of him as a human; and even a scent to make people "forget" they even saw him. Finally, towards the pinnacle of his career as a mixer of scents, he decides to create scents "made" from young and innocent women - with a dash of murder, of course!

As I stated, I read Perfume in three hours. I felt compelled to read every action of Grenouille - the book does not have that much dialogue, of which actually works in the book's favour. You encounter every sensation that Grenouille encounters, whether for good or evil, creating such a sensual and intimate experience that for a moment, you want to know if anyone could create such perfumes. Even the death of Grenouille is quite glorious in a Grand Guignol-esque fashion. It is quite a sensory overload.

Halfway through the book, I immediately looked up Suskind and found that he is a recluse in Munich. He doesn't do interviews and doesn't like his photo taken. I also learned that he's written other books - I'll probably order them all once I complete this review. Yes, he is just that good of an author.

If, however, he happens to discover this review: Danke, Herr Suskind. Danke.

EX LIBRIS!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

An Obsession with an Apex Predator






My love of great white sharks started when I watched a certain film about a certain island town being terrorized by a great white shark . . . something about "needing a bigger boat" and that "back home, we got ourselves a taxidermy man - he gonna have a heart attack when he see what I BRUNG 'im!". I am a lover of marine animals: great white shark, octopus and squid, whales (go whale watching very soon - it's quite the adrenaline rush), and manta rays/stingrays. Although the planet Earth is 70% covered in water, a great portion of it has not been explored. Scientists are constantly discovering marine animals that were either thought to be mere legend, or something new and completely different (not Monty Python).

(photo from National Geographic)

So it was that, while talking with someone dear to me (I call him Viking - long story), I told him about a recent CNN video regarding a caged diver and a great white shark. He claimed he'd already seen it. I was entranced by what took place in the video. If you want to see it, click HERE.


Seeing that video reignited my passion for great whites and soon, I was off to the library to check out the book The Devil's Teeth by Susan Casey. Casey explains how, while being ill, she watched a documentary regarding the Farallones, thirty miles west of San Francisco, and the great whites that repeatedly traveled there. Soon, she began her obsession with the apex predator and the beginning of her travels to the islands. Known as the Devil's Teeth, they are stretches of rock that are hard to travel to, a source of terrible weather that will wreak havoc on any boat, and did I mention the sharks? In her book, Casey talks of her times with biologists and fellow lovers of sharks Peter Pyle and Scott Anderson and their discoveries regarding the affectionately named sharks (the girls were of the Sisterhood and the boys were of the Rat Pack). While studying them, Casey and the biologists stayed in a 120 year old house, complete with strange phenomenon and a ghostly woman, cannibalistic gulls (that section made me cringe), seals that often met their doom in a rush of blood, and "anus" flies. Don't ask - just look them up. They're real.

(Farallones - photo by Jan Roletto)

One part that I would like to bring up is how Casey and her fellow shark lovers felt more at home in the "wilds" of the islands, yet felt constricted by modern society. I found myself thinking back to all my adventures and how I felt more alive then than being in a corporate office, or in line at a fast food place. When I traveled to the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, that was the first time I'd ever been in a desert. It was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time - one wrong step, one moment of looking at my camera more than my current location, and I would have been wandering the desert with no water. Out in the desert or in a boat staring into the face (and mouth) of a great white shark, one can't help but feel a bit insignificant. And yet, at the same time, we also can't help but feel honoured to be able to appreciate such beauty, even if it comes in the form of a seal being killed by an apex predator.

Sharks are strange creatures, yet terribly fascinating. Casey and the biologists experience a world so foreign yet so close to modern civilization, and her experiences will make you want to discover this world for yourself. Hell, within minutes of beginning the book, I was already looking up the Farallones and considering joining their Society. Casey's writing is a mixture of journalistic integrity and "holy shit, did you SEE that?" She has no qualms writing about the plumbing problems on the yacht Just Imagine that was later lost and was discovered floating far away, nor about the mysterious blood found in the boat the next day after a night of high winds. Or getting covered in bird droppings. Or not bathing for weeks and being proud of the grime under her fingernails. Casey writes her experiences and "gives" them to you. You can't help but be right next to her, wondering if perhaps Stumpy will ever show.

The Devil's Teeth has reinforced my love for sharks by 158% - if I ever had a chance to see one in their natural habitat, I would truly do it. After reading this book, you WILL need a bigger boat. .  . .

EX LIBRIS!