Books read: Steven Brust’s Phoenix Guards, Five Hundred Years after, Viscount of Adrilhanka. Basically, a fantasy version of The Three Musketeers (and sequels), set in the same universe as the Vlad Taltos books, except a lot earlier. It’s faithful to the point of adopting a faux 19th-Century narrative voice, which I find awesome (but which irritated a lot of people, if one judges by the Amazon reviews). It’s really fun to see characters from the Taltos books making an appearance (Morrolan and Aliera remain favourites, though Mario isn’t bad either), and the retelling keeps the spirit of Dumas while having enough twists and turns to make this thoroughly entertaining. I’m thankful that the last book, Viscount, didn’t turn out as unrelentingly grim as The Vicomte de Bragelonne (I love the musketeers, but what Dumas put them through in the last book is painful for me–I know old age and decay and death are part of life, but I’d rather not have it all paraded before me at such an unrelenting pace). Slightly disappointed by Aerich, who lost a bit of panache compared to Athos (mostly by not having a connection to the adversary of the second book, unlike Athos who was tied to Mordaunt via Milady), but Tazendra as Porthos was awesome (female, and a sorcerer to boot. I’m in love). And Pel is more than a match for Aramis.
And I finally got my copy of Irene Kuo’s Key to Chinese Cooking, a thick volume on how to cook Chinese food–I saw good recs on it as a book that focused on techniques and on the reasoning behind said techniques (rather than a collection of recipes which tell you nothing about the cooking principles); and the book certainly looks very good in that regard. It’s got everything from chicken stock to dumplings and desserts, and it looks like the Chinese answer to Ginette Mathiot’s Je Sais Cuisiner (I Know How to Cook , another thick classic, this time on French food. BTW, if you don’t have it, I highly recommend it as the Bible of French cooking–an English translation apparently just came out–it’s the kind of old-fashioned book that has no illustrations, but that thoroughly dissects every single basic concept of cooking, and has recipes for basically anything under the sun).
Movies watched: I finally got around to watching Day of the Moon (the followup to the Doctor Who episode I’d seen at Eastercon), and had enough closure on the plot to wait for the DVDs of season 6 (I don’t think the show is shown in France, at least not anymore, as it flopped pretty badly when they attempted to show it. It’s very British, and I can understand why it wouldn’t work over here). Anyway, it was a pleasing if sometimes overblown episode, as a lot of Doctor Who episodes are. Mostly redeemed by that awesome moment between the Doctor and River Song at the end (I’m not a fan of the plot point, but I do love Matt Smith’s behaviour during that bit); and of course by that final teaser, which I don’t expect to be resolved before the end of the season. I did confirm that I liked Matt Smith way better than I did David Tennant.
Rewatched the pilot episode of Firefly, and fell in love all over again with the characters. Darn, does Joss Whedon know how to write an ensemble cast.
Writing done: er, not that much. I have the skeleton of a plot for the space station story, and am currently attempting to find a subplot. The characters keep multiplying (in true Dreams of Red Mansions fashion), and I’m not entirely sure I can afford to keep them all…
Cooking: express bún chà giỏ yesterday, to finish off some of the salad. Today, attempting cari bò, Vietnamese beef curry (well, sort of. A cross between cari bò and ratatouille, which should be interesting once I’ve worked out the proportions). Next week, I’m taking part in my office’s cake baking competition, with a theme of “red”, so I’ve been researching recipes, and I think I know what to cook (another improvisation. I’m not telling what, since it’s a secret until Wednesday).
Misc.: got a bit grumpy at yet another story purportedly set in France which failed to get the basics right, but decided it wasn’t worth getting angry for long.