Oct. 13th, 2009

reileen: (glee - Bomberman)
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Established in 1977 or so, Branko's is a family-owned sandwich stop just off of Fullerton, near DePaul University. It's run by a Macedonian couple who are super-nice and super-courteous. The food is standard American sandwich shop fare, affordably priced, but they make it nice and hot and serve it to you with a smile. It's excellent comfort food, and in fact I'm sitting here typing this entry while eating some fried cheese sticks that I got from there.

I started going there in my sophomore year because I kept on passing by it on my way to the art building. Its proximity made it ideal for me to pop in during a studio class break, get some minor eats, and pop back out to get back to class. Recently, I've begun stopping by the place after classes to get food to-go that I then eat at the school cafeteria while sitting with friends. Mr. and Mrs. Branko both know me by face now and have learned what my usual orders are (either cheese sticks or a regular hot dog with ketchup only and a side of fries, plus Mountain Dew), and so I sometimes get minor discounts for being a regular customer.

All in all, the food is good, but it's the service and comfortable intimacy of the small sandwich shop that makes Branko's a regular stop for me.

***

I'd wanted to finish up an ART224 project that's due tomorrow before going to ART113 later tonight, but the lab times are from 6-10pm. Which kind of fails considering that I have ART113 from 6-8:40pm. But since ART113 is a studio day today, I may possibly get away with leaving early to do stuff for ART224, since I don't foresee that the main part of my ART113 project is going to take too long. On the other hand, I could just do it during ART260 tomorrow (since I think that's another studio day). Decisions, decisions.

Two book reviews to go up soon. There are also some thinky thoughts that have been swimming around in my head about the consumption of music/film/books vs. the consumption of visual art and what that means for an artist trying to expand her horizons, and about my place as a second-generation Filipino-American and exploring the boundaries of where I'm Filipino and where I'm American, but I need to (attempt to) study for my ART237 midterm on Thursday as well as pull together something more coherent, so those will have to wait until I find more brain cells.

Also, Borders performance on Friday! Old friends may possibly accompany me again so I'm not so alone, though I do have a friend from college who wants a looksee. I think I had a working setlist floating around somewhere but hell if I can find it in my room (which, not surprisingly, is kind of a mess again!).
reileen: (reading - books)
Kate Connor used to be a Level Four Demon Hunter for the Vatican. Now she's a Level Four Model Housewife, juggling the demands of her teenage daughter, her toddler son, and her ambitious politician husband. She thought she long left the world of demon hunting, but the demons have other ideas, turning up in the pet food aisle of the local San Diablo Wal-Mart and crashing through Kate's kitchen window one hour before a major cocktail party. Apprehensive about her rusty skills but determined to protect her friends and family, Kate races against a high demon from hell to find a famed artifact that could potentially raise the dead - a lot of dead.

The writing style is clear and smartly written, although I thought there were times where the author spent a little too much time on minutiae. I really liked how she handled the various twists and turns of the plot, though perhaps I'm only more aware of them because I've been reading up lately on how to analyze the parts of a story's plot.

The worldbuilding is (perhaps appropriately) a little bland and generic. I tend to have little patience for parenthood-centric stories, so that aspect of this book simultaneously bored me but also fascinated me with its depiction of a "mythical norm" sort of family. There's not much to write home about the demon-hunting Forza of the Vatican or the demons themselves, either. But it's the combination of these two aspects that provides a somewhat different reading experience from the typical urban fantasy stories. Carpe Demon, I suppose, would be an example of "suburban fantasy", hah.

Carpe Demon is a solid effort, and recommended for those who want something slightly out of the ordinary from straight contemporary fiction, but not as otherworldly as some urban fantasy stories can get. Myself, though, I'm not sure whether I'll pick up the next couple of books.
reileen: (reading - books)
Sirantha Jax possesses a gene that allows her to jump through a dimension known as "grimspace". This abiliy allows her to transport ships through space at FTL speeds. She was the Corp's most successful jumper until a failed jump killed her pilot/lover, as well as everyone else on board except herself. Quarantined in a de facto jail afterwards, Jax manages to break out with the help of a man named March, who brings her into a larger conspiracy involving a renegade group with designs on engineering a new kind of jumper...and the real reason why Jax's disastrous jump happened in the first place.

I was really impressed with this book. The present tense 1st-person POV took some getting used to, but Jax is a strong character, both kickass and vulnerable. The two main plot threads - the renegade group's plans for creating more jumpers and the reasons behind Jax's failed jump - are deftly intertwined. The worldbuilding of Grimspace is evocative, from the marshy world of Marakeq to the domed city of Gehenna, set on a planet where, thanks to atmospheric conditions, things always seem to be shrouded in a red sunset glow.

Then there's the romance between Jax and March, which I thought was pretty well-handled, considering that it's only two weeks after the crash that killed Jax's first lover Kai that Jax does another jump with the telepathic March as her new pilot. This sounds innocuous at first, but because of the nature of navigating grimspace, the shared connection between a pilot and a jumper is so intense that it frequently paves the way for a romantic or sexual relationship between the two, as an outlet for those intense sensations. I'm left wondering whether jumpers and pilots are always opposite sex, but maybe I'll find that out in the next two books. At any rate, neither Jax nor March are ready for a romantic relationship. Jax is, as I said, still in the thick of getting over the loss of Kai, while March is rusty on his skills as a pilot and hiding a dark secret in his past (as many romantic heroes do). Jax's struggles with her feelings for March and Kai are sympathetic and believable.

The other characters that populate the novel have their own charm as well. My favorites seem to be Jax's handheld information device (I can't remember the name of it right now) and a mantis-like alien mercenary named Velith, who doesn't appear until near the end of Grimspace but whom I'm given to understand plays a more prominent role in the third novel. Dina the butch lesbian is fun, too, especially in conjunction with the snarky natures of both March and Jax. I hope we get to see more of her background in the next two novels.

Overally, highly recommended. I'd love to pick up my own copy of this book and the next two books. Love the cover art, too.

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Reileen van Kaile

April 2010

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