Thoughts on THE RAZOR

Hello, hello!  It’s the last Wednesday of November (can you believe it?), which means it’s time for another book review.  This month, I requested something a little different from my usual genres: sci-fi.  I watch a lot of sci-fi, but I don’t read much of it, so I decided to give it a shot.  Today, I’ll be talking about The Razor by J. Barton Mitchell.  It was published on the 27th by Tor Books, which is an imprint of Macmillan.  I must thank them and NetGalley for allowing me access to an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC).  Without further ado, let’s get to the review!

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I picked it because the cover caught my eye.

The Razor follows a group of prison inmates as they team up and learn to count on each other to survive after their jailers randomly up and leave the planet.  The main focus is on Flynn, a brilliant scientist who was framed for murder and subsequently sent to serve out the rest of his life on the Razor.  Along the way, he teams up with Key (a gang member who attempts to kill him), Maddox (a disgraced Ranger with nothing left to live for), Raelyn (a doctor who made a grave mistake), Zane (a government experiment gone rogue), and Gable (a mad scientist).  Sounds pretty routine for a sci-fi adventure, right?  It is.

The book is comprised of 3 parts totaling 78 relatively short chapters and clocks in at just under 400 pages.  I bring this up because the way the book is laid out makes it feel like a super fast read. Getting through 4 or 5 chapters a day may seem like a lot, but by the time I was done, it was 2 and a half weeks later.  I actually prefer a lot of shorter chapters when I’m reading because it makes that “just one more” urge more acceptable.  But don’t be fooled.  This isn’t a quick read.

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Okay, that’s a little dramatic.  But still.

As far as the story goes, it’s fast paced and has a lot going on.  The plot is interesting, but if you don’t pay attention it’s easy to get lost.  I had to reread some stuff a couple of times.  I’m no scientist, but some of the stuff going on seemed shaky at best.  If you’re willing to trust in the science as explained, it’s a fun story.  From a writing perspective, it’s well paced and engaging.  However, the POV shifts… a lot.  In earlier chapters, the POV shifts are pretty isolated with one character per chapter, but after everyone meets up, things shift back and forth within chapters and it gets a bit muddled.  Sometimes it took me a minute to realize “that thought was Key’s, not Flynn’s,” or whatever.

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It gets confusing.

My main problem with this book is the characters.  I feel nothing for them.  The plot moves so fast that there really isn’t time for character development, but if you watch any sci-fi, you get the gist of who they’re supposed to be.  It’s all pretty generic.  The only one I actually kind of liked is Zane, but even he feels like a cookie cutter character.  He just happens to be the type I gravitate toward.  Then, there is Gable.  I don’t particularly feel like she is necessary.  Everything she did could have been done by one of the others.  It mostly feels like she’s there to even out the number of females vs. males.

Ultimately, I enjoyed the story enough that I’ll check out book 2 when/if it comes out.  But if some major character development doesn’t take place, it’s the kind of story I’ll eventually get bored with.

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Overall, I’d rate it 3 out of 5 stars.  I like it, but it doesn’t impress me.  If you’re into sci-fi and enjoy a fast plot, pick it up.  If you like a better balance of characters and plot, this probably isn’t for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello, hello!  Can you believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving?  Where’d the time go?  Next thing you know, it’ll be Christmas, then a new year.  Time really needs to slow down.  Anyway, since my favorite holiday is just a day away, I thought I would take this opportunity to share five things I’m grateful for this year!

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1. Dad.  I know I don’t say it out loud to him, but I really am thankful to have someone like him in my life.  He has always shown me that just because life doesn’t go the way you expect doesn’t mean that you have to be miserable about it.  You don’t have to let toxic people bring you down.  Sometimes, you need to make changes if you want things to go a certain way.  It’s okay to be blah occasionally, but mostly you need to try to find the happy in things.  But most importantly, he taught me to look in the mirror and take responsibility for my actions, which I try to do.  He also gave me my twisted sense of humor and enables my darkness, so you can blame him for all of that (okay, sometimes I deny all responsibility and blame him, but that’s what dads are for).

2. The people who take the time to check up on me.  You know who you are.  I have been an increasingly crappy friend, especially lately.  I don’t text or message people as much as I should, if at all.  I know that and I’m struggling to break free from the contentedness I find in being a recluse.  But I really do appreciate the messages asking how I am and giving me updates on your lives.  I do stalk most of you on social media, though, which makes me the creepy crappy friend.

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Amateur mistake.  Lurk, don’t like.

3. Seeing my words in print and getting paid for them.  I was starting to think it wouldn’t happen, so I’m thankful to E.R. Bills and Hellbound Books for choosing me to be in their awesome collection alongside other talented Texas writers.  An occasional acceptance really does help to overcome the feels that a long list of rejections brings up.

4. Peppermint chocolates.  After waiting for all things pumpkin spice to start winding down for the year, I get the reward of all things peppermint for a month and a half!  Just had my first Ghirardelli peppermint bark square of the year.  It made me weirdly happy.  It always does.  Judge me all you want, but at least I have goodies to comfort me.

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I might have just gotten lost down the boozy peppermint coffee rabbit hole of Google for a minute there.

5. A dad who’s good with tools.  I didn’t intend to add him twice, but my armrest on my new wheelchair decided to come loose a little while ago and he got everything put securely back together.  If it breaks, he can usually fix it.  That’s something to always be grateful for!

What about you?  What are you thankful for this year?  Feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

A Look Inside Trinity Hall Irish Pub

Howdy, howdy!  As you can probably tell from the title, this is another food review.  Two food related posts in as many weeks???  Yeah, I was surprised too.  It came about as a combination of sadness over my last two food posts (they weren’t very nice and I felt bad about that) and the fact that Dad and I tried out a new place (new to us) on Sunday.  So, why not have two food posts in a row?  Anyway, we went to the Trinity Hall Irish Pub in Dallas.  They’re located in Mockingbird Station across 75 from SMU.  Check out their website (linked above) for an exact address and hours and event calendar.  Now, on to the review!

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

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Once again, I didn’t think to take pictures, so I borrowed some from Google.

Accessibility: not bad at all.  Mockingbird station had both valet and parking garages, so that part was pretty easy.  The pub was on the second floor, right around the corner from the elevators, so that’s great.  Inside, it could potentially get cramped, but there were a number of easily reached tables as long as people were willing to scooch a little when needed.  They had two different types of tables that I noticed, square ones and round ones.  The square ones had one of those three or four inch hangy down parts that make for black and blue knees if you don’t notice them and try to pull in.  I noticed.  It’s annoying but not impossible for me to sit at that type of table.  BUT!  The round tables didn’t have that problem, so we moved to one of those.  They were the simple small round top on a central pedestal type.  It worked, so yay!

Service: awesome!  Our server, Jon, wasn’t too sure of me at first, but quickly warmed up once Dad pointed out I could talk for myself.  After that, he made sure to address me as well as Dad even when he was just asking how everything was, which is really rare.  Servers tend to address me when ordering then direct everything else toward Dad, so it was a little weird to glance up and find Jon waiting for an okay from me as well.  Good weird.  And he timed our orders so we had a little time between each course, which was perfect.  We never felt rushed or like we were waiting.  It was a great experience.

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A picture of the Dublin Bay Casserole that I stole from Google.

Appetizers: yummy.  We opted for the steamed mussels which were in a nice broth with carrots and potatoes and celery.  There was soda bread for dipping on the side.  It was delicious.  Though, one of the mussels didn’t open during cooking (which means don’t eat it), so we were sad about that.

Entrees: delicious.  Dad had the Irish stew, which was chunks of leg of lamb, potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions in a lovely stock topped with some mashed potatoes.  Soda bread on the side.  It was great.  Dad commented on the amount of and variety of potatoes, then realized it was Irish.  Of course there’s a plethora of potatoes.  I can’t say much.  It took me a minute to understand the amount of seafood on the menu before I remembered Ireland is an island.  We’re not all that bright.  Stop judging us.  But speaking of seafood, I got the Dublin bay casserole.  It was cod, shrimp, scallops, peas, and carrots in a bechamel sauce, surrounded by mashed potatoes.  And, of course, there was soda bread on the side.  The perfect food for a chilly night.

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Stolen from Google.

Dessert: good.  We split the creme brulee.  It wasn’t the best I’ve had, but it was by no means bad.  It was a little loose, but I used the crackly top as a spoon so all was well.  I’m just happy we skipped the cheesecake after we noticed it was vegan (I’m sorry that I don’t believe in milkless cheese).  But hey!  They also have vegan and gluten free menus, so that was cool.

Booze: good selection.  Dad got a Guinness and I got a black and tan.  But they have a wide selection of beers, ciders, and meads.  They also have Irish coffee with brown sugar, whiskey, and whipped cream which I will have to try next time.

Price: not bad at all.  Even with two beers, our bill was only around $75.  Wonderful food, great service, a nice atmosphere.  It was definitely worth the money.

My rating:
MMMM

P.S. To be fair, I only knocked off that fifth M because the accessibility could be a little better, but that could be better just about anywhere.  If you’re an able-bodied person, this is an MMMMM place.

A Look Inside Crispy ‘N’ Puffy Taquito

Hello, hello!  Welcome to November!  Is everyone looking forward to the holiday season?  I’m looking forward to peppermint EVERYTHING.  Because yes, I’m one of those people.  If you can get excited about all things pumpkin spice, then I can do the same for peppermint.  But I digress.  On Monday, Dad and I tried out a new restaurant in Mesquite called Crispy ‘n’ Puffy Taquito.  It promises “authentic Mexican cuisine with a modern twist,” so we thought we’d give it a shot.

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

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A colorful banner.

Accessibility: fairly standard.  There’s an oddly positioned ramp to get in, but that’s been that way since the building went up.  Spacing between the tables is super tight.  I barely maneuvered around them when they were empty.  If it had been busy, it would have been impossible to get beyond the ones right by the door.

Service: wonderful!  Our waitress was friendly and attentive.  She wasn’t sure about me at first, but once she realized I was capable of ordering for myself, she talked directly to me.  She even came out to hold the door open for us when we arrived.

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I didn’t take any pictures, so here’s one of the menu I found on Google.

Appetizers: not bad.  We ordered the stuffed jalapeños which contain both cheese and chicken.  They were pretty good.  We also had the fried mushrooms.  They were large with a nice crispy crust.  Also pretty good.

Entrees: just no.  I have to go back to the beginning here, which was ordering our drinks.  They advertise a lot of Mexican sodas (Coke, Fanta, etc.), but they were out of them ALL.  Then, when we ordered our appetizers, we found out they also didn’t have any of the avocado sour cream they tout as a must try on their website.  Needless to say, there was a lot of wondering if they even had tacos left.  But they did, so Dad got two beef and two chicken (the only options they have), and I got the nachos.  There was absolutely zero puffiness to Dad’s tacos.  It was just your standard hard shell.  All the reviews we read talked about a flavorful dusting on the shells, but Dad got none of that.  The chicken tasted like it was canned.  The beef was reminiscent of Taco Bueno, only not as… I won’t say good… edible, I suppose.  My nachos had some kind of cheese sauce and the beef and lettuce and tomatoes all topped with shredded cheese.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. The chips tasted fine but had a stale consistency.  Everything was super greasy as well.  It just wasn’t a good experience food-wise.  Also, their menu is super limited.

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The other side of the menu courtesy of Google.

Dessert: unknown.  Yes, you guessed right.  They were out!

Price: not worth it.  It wasn’t too expensive, but you might as well go to Taco Bell or something like that for the same quality at a better price.

My rating:
M

P.S. I thought long and hard about posting this, especially since they have so many good reviews.  I don’t like being a downer when it comes to a new local business struggling to make it.  But it was just that bad.  Maybe we went on a bad day.  Maybe all the reviews on Google and Yelp are right.  If they’re still around in a year or two, maybe we’ll try again.  All I know is that this go ’round sucked.  And first impressions are everything.