Happy birthday, fealubryne! To echo firebyrd, you sure are getting old! ;) All the <3s to you! I hope you have a great birthday!
Book 4 of 2012: Am I really only up to four? I guess it just feels like a lot more. Book 4 wasn't really a book, though I wish it had been. Five stories by GRRM. I had been looking forward to reading these, but my hopes had been too high.
By chance, I read them in the order he wrote them, which was nice since then I was able to see how much he improved over time.
The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr -- Written in the early 1960s, about a time traveler (sort of) and about love. There wasn't anything wrong with it, but it was boring. The characters didn't hook me, the writing was flat. There was one small plot twist I liked, but that was one paragraph in a 50 or so page story. zzzzzzz
The Glass Flower -- Late 1960s, about death (how to avoid it, what life/death might mean to some). It had some interesting ideas, and the middle of the story caught my interest a bit. It was okay.
A Song for Lya -- Published in 1974, sort of about life/death as well (value of life, of afterlives). I liked the plot, up until the end. The characters might as well have been paper cut-outs. Some of the details were interesting, but mostly it was just okay overall.
In the House of the Worm -- Published in 1975. I very much enjoyed that we never got all the details/background of the story (was it set on an alien planet or sometime far distant on Earth? No idea!). The descriptions were great, the storyline was interesting. I didn't like the ending though.
Portraits of His Children -- Written in 1987. Easily the best of the bunch. GRRM writes horror! The character was interesting (singular character, yes, there was barely more than one), the story was great. The idea wasn't a new one, but it was handled well and was interesting.
I really wish it had been a book, so it would have cost me less. I spent $2-$4 per story, and most of them weren't worth it. I slogged through the reading, it was so slow to get through them all.
Book #5 is Marque and Reprisal by Elizabeth Moon. The first book of this series was book #1 for this year. Usually I like reading a book series one right after another, but for some reason I felt like I needed a palate cleanser before starting the next one.
Cooking: lokyst suggest I try Garam Masala on my chicken, so I bought Shan Zafrani Garam Masala Mix to try. The box that arrived had different packaging (it said "Hot/Spicy Powder!" on it, which worried me a lot). But I tried it (using just a little bit, worrying it would be hot/spicy) and I liked it a lot. I'm not sure I gave it a fair tasting though, because all I tasted was cinnamon. Maybe it settled? Next time I use it, I'm going to empty the foil pack into a ziplock bag so I can mix it up and make sure I'm getting the full mix of spices.
Who would have thought that cinnamon on chicken would be good? Speaking of, I still need to order the book nicenewra recommended, The Flavor Bible. I hate buying a physical book, but I think I will in this case. Cooking + iPad = messy screen. Ordering it now...
Edit: What the heck? Hardcover version of the Flavor Bible is $20.49. Paperback is $51.20. o.O