This story of two friends spans thirty years. Thirty years that will bring Sam and Sadie, two childhood nerds, to wild success. But at what cost to each individually and their lifelong friendship? Here is my book review Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin.
Sam and Sadie meet as young children in a hospital of all places. Sam is recovering from a horrific auto accident while Sadie spends hours at the hospital while her sister undergoes chemotherapy. But these two seemingly unlikely friends will find a very common bond in video games. And build a friendship around video games and gamers.
Six years later Sadie is at MIT and Sam at Harvard. They will reconnect, again over the burgeoning video game design industry and their lives will never be the same. Both brilliant, competitive and driven, they set out to change the “gaming” industry right from their college apartment.
This coming of age story may be difficult for readers not familiar with “gaming” – the multi-billion dollar industry that took hold of an entire generation. But at the core of this story, which sometimes feels a bit like a YA novel, is friendship. Love. Trust. Respect.
The book is long (over 400 pages) and it dragged a bit for me. But overall I enjoyed it and learned a lot about the gaming industry too…something I knew little about.
Reviews range wildly. I’m firmly in the middle. Three stars for Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin.
Thank you for reading my book review Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin.
As we celebrate our tenth birthday of My Fab Fifties Life, today I re-share one of my favorite blog posts from way back in the beginning…Korean Spa – Some Like it Hot! Enjoy it again or for the very first time. Thanks for helping us celebrate ten years!
I’m discovering the Korean people love to be hot. Setting the temperature in our hotel room lower than 80 * Fahrenheit is nearly impossible. The toilet seat is heated and so are seats in the car.
And they love their hot baths and saunas. And now I do too.
I was a little apprehensive about going into the sauna the first time. Only apprehensive because I’m not used to walking around naked with people I don’t know. This apparently is not a problem for the Koreans. And frankly why it is for Americans I’m not sure. We do obsess a great deal about our bodies. God knows mine is far from perfect. But what is perfect anyway? Wouldn’t it be great if we all just were satisfied with ourselves?
Some Like it Hot
I tried to think like this in the sauna. No one paid any attention to me here. You shower first, then choose between three different pools; hot (44 C), medium (41 C) and cool (21 C). There is also a 95 C dry sauna, a 73 C wet sauna and a sun lamp room in addition to several stations to wash and scrub yourself.
After two days of visiting the spa I decided to tackle the massage and body scrub. I was met by a tiny little lady, the only person in the spa wearing a bathing suit (or perhaps it was her underwear, I’m not exactly sure). She motioned me into the small room adjacent to the spa and encouraged me to get up on the bed face up. She spoke only Korean except for the word “okay” which she used to show me I was following her instructions correctly.
Every Crease and Crevice
She then proceeded to scrub the hell out of my skin. Using what I think was mitts on her hands that were abrasive and using some abrasive concoction she scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. With my eyes closed I had the image of me in my kitchen at home using my Brillo to scrub away baked-on macaroni and cheese. She scrubbed every nook, cranny, crevice and crease of my body, and I mean every crease and crevice – she was very thorough and diligent in her task. For an hour she scrubbed away years of dead skin, old suntans and crud. She even tried to scrub away a few scars. I have a permanent mark on my sternum where my running bra abrades me. She did her best to scrub that sucker away.
I wear a patch on my belly that is hormone replacement therapy. I hadn’t even thought about the patch, but she scrubbed that away too. I have no idea if she knew what it was but I felt it rip off and I laid there mentally calculating how many more I had in my suitcase. Just hoping the loss of one wouldn’t make me come up short before I headed home to my pharmacist.
She scrubbed my armpits and I was wishing I had shaved that morning. She scrubbed my breasts and I opened my eyes to peek and make sure my nipples were still there. She scrubbed my neck, my ears and every toe and finger.
She then soaped me up and I nearly shot right off the plastic covered bed like an oiled pig for being so slippery…she tossed large tubs of hot water all over me and I nearly drowned. And I loved every minute of it.
“Okay, Okay” she said and sent me off to shower and soak in the pools while she cleaned the room and prepared for my massage.
I returned and she was waiting for me and I laid down again, top up. She rubbed me down, starting with my face with an oil that smelled of the sea, fresh but also of seaweed. She used another implement that was wood and covered with nodules to rub my body head to toe. She occasionally would throw a bucket of hot water on me and then begin again. She covered my face with a hot towel and then I heard her scraping something. It sounded like my kitchen grater…and then the unmistakable smell of fresh cucumber. She grated and grated and then proceeded to artistically cover my entire face with the freshly and finely grated cucumber mash. And suddenly I was hungry and my stomach growled.
While lunch sat on my face she continued my massage. She found the knot in my neck where my massage therapist at home has spent a lot of time and energy. My Korean masseuse was hell-bent on undoing this knot and she worked and worked it. It was both painful and pleasurable. She even massaged my belly, almost as if she was trying to manipulate my liver and kidneys. Oops, and my bladder. I hoped she would avoid that area or else I wasn’t gonna make it through this torture without a potty break.
Finally she removed the salad from my face, lightly washed and dried my face and then it was time for dessert. Yes I said dessert. She drizzled honey all over my face and rubbed and patted it into my skin before saying “Okay okay” and had me roll over to my belly.
Not Done Yet!
And then she started on my backside. During this 30 minutes she made my sciatica feel fabulous and my lower back feel young again. She used a pumice stone on my feet and scraped away the dead skin and calluses. She kneaded my neck further and worked my shoulders and arms.
“Okay okay” and I rolled over again, thinking we must be done, but no. She washed my face again, poured more water all over me and then had me scoot all the way to the top of the table where she proceeded to wash my hair and scrub my scalp. Really, when has your masseuse ever done this?
Finally, after nearly three hours, “Okay okay” and I am done. Off to the showers I was sent.
My day at the Korean spa was not just a body scrub and massage, it was a facial and a hair care and pure ecstasy. My inhibitions are gone forever and I am now a super fan of Korean Spa Life. I will absolutely do this again.
And by the way, three hours and all this only cost me $75. Wow. I’m really starting to enjoy Korea.
This book. So much fun, even though the character (author) deals with some dark times. One of my fav books in the last few months. Here is my book review Becoming Duchess Goldblatt.
I kept seeing this book pop up but I wasn’t really paying attention because I was busy and traveling. I tossed it on my library waitlist assuming it was a novel about a 17th century Duchess. LOL Well you can’t judge a book by it’s cover as they say.
The still anonymous author and pseudonym, Duchess (or Your Grace as she prefers to be called) found solace in this fictional character during the most dark time of her real life. A divorce spirals her into depression. She loses friends and family and income. She is trying to hold on for the sake of her child, keep working and provide a suitable home environment. But her dismal existence makes her sad and lonely, and on one particular dark day (her birthday) with nowhere to go, the author creates Duchess.
Today Duchess Goldblatt has 60K followers including multiple famous authors and musicians including Lyle Lovett who features heavily in the book.
What a strange situation this author found herself in. Clearly hitting a note that many people out in Twitter land didn’t even know they needed. Her humor and “grace” not only brings light into the lives of her followers, but it lifts her out of her own depression, gives her purpose, and in essence becomes her memoir.
I bit difficult to explain this one but I loved this book and couldn’t put it down. A great page-turning read.
*****Five stars for Becoming Duchess Goldblatt
Thanks for reading my book review Becoming Duchess Goldblatt.
If you are even an occasional follower of this blog or my social sites you know I love food! And even more than eating, I love to learn about local foods while I am traveling. Some of our all-time most rewarding experiences in our travels have been engaging with locals, learning to cook regional food. During our recent visit to San Juan del Sur we thoroughly enjoyed a Nicaragua Cooking Class. Let’s talk about it.
What is Nicaraguan Cuisine
Although it has some similarities to Mexican cuisine, we found the delicious foods of Nicaragua more similar to Guatemala. One of my all time favorite cooking classes was in Antiqua Guatemala. In that class we used a lot of the same ingredients that we see here in Nicaragua; beans, rice, corn, onions, chicken, plantains, yucca and pico de gallo. And Nicaraguan coffee is also much like Guatemalan coffee…one of my favorites.
San Juan del Sur
We spent a month in San Juan del Sur, a Pacific Coast beach town about an hour’s drive from Granada. On arrival I did some research and found a local tour operator called Pacific Adventuras that offered several tours in the San Juan del Sur area, including a Nicaragua cooking class. So of course we signed up right away!
Rancho Tere, Escamequito
We were picked up in San Juan del Sur by Chef July, who owns Rancho Tere Restaurant with her family in the small town of Escamequita about 20 minutes from San Juan del Sur. July speaks very little English, so we also had Cesar with us as an interpreter. He is actually studying at the university in Managua every Sunday to improve his English. We had a wonderful time practicing English and Spanish through the day.
When we signed up for the Nicaruagua cooking class we requested to learn about vigoron, one of Nicaragua’s most loved dishes. It consists of a cabbage salad, boiled yucca, and chicharron, all wrapped in a banana leaf. This dish is often eaten without utensils, and it is frequently served to visiting family and guests, as it is generally easily and quickly prepared. Wikipedia. So Chef July was eager to share this popular dish with us, and she also chose to share with us how to make tostone.
Tostone is a dish we had eaten several times since arriving in Nicaragua and we loved it. The word tostone refers to the twice fried plantains that serve as a vessel for toppings such as cheese, meat and pico de gallo.
Nicaraguan food is made from simple, local, fresh and easily accessible ingredients. Honestly isn’t that the way all good food should be made? Chef July introduced us to yucca. We actually have eaten yucca before, but never worked with it in a recipe. It is a staple food in many Central American countries as it is cheap and easily accessible. It has a consistency very much like potato.
For the vigoron we placed the boiled yucca in a bowl (often served on a banana leaf) then topped it with a cabbage salad very finely grated and mixed with lemon juice. Next topped with delicious homemade pico de gallo made from fresh tomato, green pepper, and a new ingredient to me, called culantro. Culantro is similar to cilantro, but a much bigger leaf. It’s always fun to learn about something new. The last ingredient for vigoron is the chicharron, a popular snack food, which we call in the United States pork rinds.
The entire dish took about 20 minutes to make and it was very filling and delicious. And also pretty.
Another very common ingredient in Central American and Caribbean cuisine is plantain. Did you know there are more than 1000 varieties of bananas? The plantain is a firmer and less sweet variety used mostly for cooking. If you read our blog post about Granada, we ate a delicious hamburger in Granada that used a plantain tostone bun. So yummy.
To make the twice cooked tostone you first cook the plantain chunks in deep oil for about three minutes. Next using a towel so you won’t burn yourself you smash the chunks into disks with your hands, then fry them again in the oil. This is the tostone. We then fried the delicious local queso (that has a high melting point) and placed each piece on top of the tostone disks, topped with pico de gallo. So, so delicious. You can also top a tostone with meat, beans, avocado…lots of yummy things.
This dish was easy and delicious. Don’t try this with regular bananas though, you need the firmer plantains. It is possible to find plantains in the USA, sometimes at supermarkets but also at Latino markets.
Fat and Happy
We really enjoyed our cooking class at Rancho Tere. In fact we are planning to go again and learn some more delicious local foods. Because spending time with locals, learning their foods and customs, is the best part of our Grand Adventure and My Fab Fifties Life. We loved our Nicaragua Cooking Class. Muy Bien.
This book. Mind boggling. Described by critics as both brilliant and confounding…for me I’m going with brilliant. It’s not for everyone, but I was astonished. Here is my book review To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara.
If you are looking for an easy read…this is not it. This book is intense and sometimes horrific. But Yanagihara has a beautiful ability to develop characters that take your hand and bring you right into the story. Or stories in this case.
Because this novel is essentially three stories…three stories that seemingly don’t connect, but keep reading. They will. The three stories are placed 100 years apart; 1893 in New York City, 1993 in Hawaii and 2093 in New York City.
But none of these places will be familiar to the reader. An alternate New York City exists in this book. In 1893 it’s not in the United States, it exists in an alternative country after a revolution. It’s openly Lesbian/Gay friendly. Arranged marriages are common. History is rewritten through the bold yet quiet imagination of Yanagihara.
In the second story we find ourselves in Hawaii in 1993. Unrest, global warming, and family legacy in the island nation finds the characters searching for meaning. But wait these characters all have the same names as 100 years ago. What exactly is going on here?
And then boom. We are back in New York in the year 2093. This astonishing third story for me was gripping, and a bit too close to home. Pandemics, intense heat, unbreathable air, and a country in utter chaos. Here the characters are honest and emotional and so believable – even given the dystopian world they occupy.
With all this angst and uncertainty can this story end happily? The overriding theme through-out is hope; hope for the survival of the planet, our human species, family, love and happiness.
An extraordinary work, that may take some time to digest. But I give high praise to the imagination and beautiful story telling of Yanagihara. Thank you for reading my book review To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara.
*****Five stars for To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara.
We spent six days in Granada Nicaragua and found so many surprising things. You could easily see this small town in less time, but we had the time so we took it. Let me tell you some of our favorite discoveries in Granada Nicaragua – Colonial Charm and Much More.
We flew into Managua from Miami, but based on our research did not have any interest in hanging out in Managua. So we moved right along. After a slow process getting through passport control and inspection, we met our driver right outside the terminal. I had booked ahead the driver through Southwinds Tours. He spoke perfect English and transported us safely on the 45 minute drive south to Granada.
We stayed at a small hotel in a perfect location in Granada called El Almirante. Easy walk to everything. This hotel was inexpensive, had fabulous staff, was popular with both locals and foreigners, and offered a great breakfast. We did find it was noisy however and our room was very small. After six nights we were definitely ready to move on to something bigger.
A Little History
Granada (region) was populated long before the Spanish arrived with a thriving indigenous population. In 1524 the city was named after the town of the same name in Spain, by Spanish conquistador Hernandez de Cordoba.
During the colonial era Granada was a sister city to Antiqua Guatemala and the cities have a very similar look architecturally. For many years Granada was in conflict with the city of Leon with the power struggle between families and politicians. This was often violent.
In 1834 Candido Flores attempted a revolt against the government in Leon, but the failed attempt left Granada in shambles. Next American William Walker attempted to take control of the city and declared himself President. An anti-abolitionist, Walker wanted to keep slavery and run the region of Granada. When his attempts failed he burned the city. He was later executed in Honduras.
Granada was spared from most violence during the Sandinista vs Contra period in the 1970’s – 1990’s – luckily. It’s why you can still enjoy this gem Granada Nicaragua Colonial Charm and Much More.
Granada Nicaragua Colonial Charm and Much More
There are many things to do in this pretty little town. We did not do them all, but here are some of our favorites;
Mombacho Volcano Hike – we took a guided tour up to the Mombacho Volcano using Danny’s Tours. We were picked up at our hotel and drove the 45 min up the steep road to the top of the volcano. Then we hiked with a guide along the trails and enjoyed flora and birds and fantastic views back down to Granada and Lake Nicaragua. The view includes being able to see Masaya Volcano about 15 miles in the distance with venting steam. We also stopped at a Las Flores Coffee Plantation on the way.
Lake Nicaragua Boat Tour – we also used Danny’s Tours for this excursion and it was the most fun of all the things we did. Our guide Manuel picked up at our hotel and drove us to the lake where we boarded a small boat. Motoring around the dozens of islands on the lake, learning history, seeing how the locals live as well as the millionaire mansions was incredible. We saw so many amazing birds, as well as monkey, bats and fish. I highly recommend this. You also can choose to do a kayak tour.
Walk along Lake Nicaragua – on our last day with time to spare we took a long walk, seeing some of the less touristy neighborhoods and walking along the lakefront. Though very neglected and in need of some TLC, a park stretches several miles along the lake and we enjoyed the walk.
Carriage Ride – A popular activity, though very touristy, is to take a horse drawn carriage ride through the city. We decided to do this on our final day. The 40 minute ride was $15 with an English speaking guide pointing out sites along the way and answering our questions.
Wow. The dining options in this small town were phenomenal. What a surprise that was. Not just the local food but international cuisines of every kind. These listed here are all amazing.
Nectar – located on the Calle La Calzada, a pedestrian area bursting with dining options, we chose Nectar at random but turns out it is a highly rated spot. We enjoyed Nicaraguan cuisine including our first time having tostone, a fried plantain topped with meat and cheese. Delicious
The Garden Cafe – we read great reviews about The Garden Cafe so we headed there for a late lunch and enjoyed our quinoa bowls so much. They have a wide range of healthy foods based on local ingredients. Absolutely delicious.
Pita Pita – This was such a surprise to find such authentic Mediterranean food in Nicaragua. The baba ganoush, hummus and falafel were excellent.
Boca Baco – We had an exceptional meal at this little tapas place that also serves sushi. What more could you want? We enjoyed half a dozen tapas to share, including fabulous deep fried shrimp and a delicious beef carpaccio. Highly recommend.
Bistro Estrada – another delicious surprise, and in a beautiful garden courtyard. We loved this hidden little gem and the authentic Nicaraguan menu.
Tosto Metro – You must eat here…if you can find it. We went to the Mercado three times trying to find it. On the third try we were determined and we found it. It’s very hidden in the chaos that is the Granada Mercado. Just a few steps to the left from the main entrance, but if you blink you’ll miss it. And we did…but the third time was the charm. Tosto Metro does burgers. Only burgers, but it is exceptional. You choose beef, chicken or pork. It’s served on a bun made from plantains. Accompanied by the absolute best sauce. And sweet little treat at the end. Perfecto.
There are many, many more. You won’t go hungry in Granada Nicaragua – Colonial Charm and Much More
Granada A Pleasant Surprise
I encourage you to visit Granada Nicaragua. It has a lot to offer and you will be pleasantly surprised. Next week I’ll post about San Juan del Sur Nicaragua so be sure to come back!
A whodunit that mixes poverty, race and the high society of classical music in an intriguing mystery. Here is my book review The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb.
A poor black child from North Carolina, Ray has few options. Despite his apparent musical talent his mom wants him to drop out of school and get a job. She wants him to pay rent and work…and stop making all that noise with his beat up school loaned violin.
But Ray’s grandmother sees something special in his talents, and when she bequeaths him an old beat up family violin he is thrilled. Helped along by a handful of people who see beyond his race to his exceptional talent, Ray soon discovers the beat up violin is a priceless Stradivarius.
Ray’s life changes dramatically as he is recognized, more for the story of the unsuspecting Stradivarius, but also for his burgeoning talent. Then he is invited to the renowned Tchaikovsky Competition, and the media storm grows around Ray and his violin.
But the unthinkable happens, the violin is stolen right from under his nose. Ray feels like one of his arms has been cut off. How will he get it back? How will he pay the ransom? Who would do such a thing? There are lots of suspects, friend and foe.
Will Ray find the violin in time for the competition? You’ll need to read The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb to find out.
****Four stars for The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb.
Thank you for reading my book review The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb.
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