Sunday, August 19, 2012


I frequently watch Chopped on the Food Network. I'm amazed at how many times they don't want red onions used. I'm also totally confused about why competitors use them. Don't they watch the show? I've also learned chefs can't recover from over-salting food or leaving bones in fish.

What the judges expect the most is that contestants repurpose whatever food is in the basket. For example, if pita bread is one of the items, it better not be pita bread by the time the chef presents the meal to them. I suppose they want it to be pesto. Perhaps some knowledge of alchemy would come in handy.

I could never be on that show. I'd be chopped the minute beets showed up. How do you think you'd repurpose beets? Or anything else?

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Miss Harry Potter? Meet Skulduggery Pleasant

If you haven't met Skulduggery Pleasant, I'll introduce you to him in today's blog. Skulduggery is a skeleton detective. Stephanie Edgley, aka Valkyrie Cain, is his twelve-year old apprentice. Their mission is to prevent arch villian Nefarian Serpine from exposing the world to a weapon of unfathomable power. This series of stunning, yet charming fantasy mysteries are written by Derek Landy. Naturally they get into all kinds of scrapes from which they escape. Yet Serpine continues to elude them. I'd say more, but Mr. Pleasant's interview is below.

A friend of mine (actually a friend of Chuck's) recommended the books to me and specifically encouraged me to listen to them because he said the production is incredible. I risked the first two and Chuck didn't see me for days because I couldn't stop listening. Rupert Degas, the narrator, is the Mel Blanc of audio book reading. I've never heard anyone do more voices, more cleverly, than Degas.

Don't let the idea of a skeleton being the hero prevent you from listening (or reading) these books. They've won awards that include the Red House Children's Book Award, the Bolton Children's Book Award and the Staffordshire Young Teen Fiction Award. In 2010, Skulduggery Pleasant was awarded the title of Irish Book of the Decade. Landy, who plays video games, reads comic books and watches movies, doesn't like to brag about his achievements and prefers to live quietly in Ireland with his cats and dogs.

The first book in the series is Sceptre of the Ancients. Each book can be read as a stand alone novel, but it's much more fun to read them in order.

I recommend these unique books for you or your kids. They have everything in them to keep you turning pages.

In the meantime, meet Mr. Skulduggery Pleasant. I have to dash and get started on the fourth novel. Valkyrie and I have lost Skulduggery somewhere along the line.

You've just finished reading Miss Harry Potter? Meet Skulduggery Pleasant.  Please consider leaving a comment.