On Being Badass.

Today’s post is so exciting for me. My life has been shifting the past several months, and like a guy with a hard-on he just can’t hide, I’m pumped to talk about it. Today, it’s all about making money, and of course, food. Healthy Hibiscus Popsicles to help you feel great as you improve yourself. … Read more…

Do Vampires Drink Bloody Marys?

Do you know what day is coming up? OH YES! Easter! Other than the deeply religious significance of the holiday, it also means two very important things: brunch, and Easter eggs. Well, I have something for both cravings right now. One is the perfect twist on a classic in the form of a spicy Irish … Read more…

Well, Maybe We Need Just One More.

Today’s book deserves a few songs:

 

Just hit play and read, at least until you get to the next video.

So a while ago, I saw a tweet from Sierra Dean that intrigued me. It was something like “do you like lady superheroes?” (I’m paraphrasing as I don’t remember exactly.) Then there was a link to a pre-order page on Amazon. I read the blurb and thought, YES, YES I AM INTERESTED, SIERRA DEAN.

So I one-clicked.  I had not read a single book by this author, we simply follow each other on twitter. But the blurb got me. I am so glad it did.

What was it?

The cover is fab, right?

ok, here’s the blurb.

The city of Gold Bay once had a great champion in local superhero Apollo. But after his brutal defeat at the hands of The Scourge, the citizens have been left to the villainous whims of a madman.

When young reporter Rebecca “Bex” Beckett returns home to care for her sick father, the last thing she expects is his request that she play caretaker to his shut-in employer, Camden Nash. Cam is not the same man Bex remembers from ten years earlier. Once a pinnacle of society, he is now a broken shell of his former self. Yet something is simmering between them.

As Bex becomes interested in the elusive mayor of Gold Bay, Simon Nerezza, Cam must rally to become the hero he once was in order to protect Bex from Nerezza’s dark past. But Bex is no damsel in distress. She has a trick or two up her own sleeve, and things in the city on the bay are about to get super hot.

Give it to me straight.

OMG!! THIS WAS SO FUN!!

In my head, Bex was a combo of these three:

Untitled design (3)

Bex is a take-no-shit reporter with kickass abilities, a desire for justice, and a real sparkling personality.

And Cam? He’s super swoonworthy.

But the story. The story. It felt like great pulp/pop fiction with great romance and action thrown in. Somewhat Dashiell Hammett, somewhat Perry Moore, but unique at the same time. Sierra Dean is definitely someone to watch. She gives such importance to the details. For instance, the love interest is a paraplegic, and Ms Dean really gives it the gravitas it deserves. (yes, that.)

Also, because it’s a “period” novel, (insofar as it can be) there’s not the technology that tends to serve as a plot propeller in so much fiction right now. She’s true to the middle of the twentieth century, and it’s a great departure from what I’ve been reading. It’s not high-fantasy, it’s urban fantasy–with a twist.  Picturing the characters out at a tiki bar, or serving something in a jello mold is completely within the realm of possibility. The sex is more forward, but even though they aren’t in the twenty-first century, we are.

However, the romance is a slow burn (pun intended). It gives the readers time to adjust to the couple as individuals before they become a cohesive unit. This results in each character being more interesting and fully-developed, even in a novel as short as this one. It also provides time in the narrative to bring on the other action, and lead up to the reveal of the big bad.

Speaking of the big bad. The Scourge is a smoky sort of villain, with an extremely high creep factor. He’s a great supervillain with a distinctly terrifying superpower. I think when Ms Dean was creating him, she sort of said “what’s the WORST thing someone could do to you?” and The Scourge was born. It’s a quite power, but…

We Don’t Need Another Hero is a perfect afternoon read full of tense action, steamy romance, and a story that leaves you wanting more.

I really hope Sierra Dean brings back Bex and Cam in future installments, as I just can’t imagine this being a standalone.

four point five stars.

Amazon • Nook

And now…

Recipe, Please!

Review: We Don't Need Another Hero by @SierraDean Recipe: Spicy Morning Matcha Tonic. Click To Tweet

Ok, so they DO eat in this novel, and a very important scene happens at a restaurant, but I didn’t want to go that route. Bex is too cool to be conventional. In my imagination, we’d be a team of super-sleuths! (also, I would be able to fly AND regerate a la Deadpool.) So I thought about it.

Bex is pyrokinetic. So, of course, she’s going to love spicy food. She is also a superhero fighting to rid the world of enemies seen and unseen. She needs to start her day right.

She’d be down for a tonic.

What IS a tonic?

noun

1.

a medicine that invigorates or strengthens:

a tonic of sulphur and molasses.

2.

anything invigorating physically, mentally, or morally:

His cheerful greeting was a real tonic.
I’m just using the word to describe a bevvy that’s not quite a latte, not quite a smoothie, but a good-for-you, on the go, pick-me-up drink!
I love matcha. LOVE.  But it has A LOT of caffeine. So, it’s really a morning drink. Not that I listen to that suggestion…but still. It has a flavor that is smoky and bitter and lends itself to sweetening and to the addition of milk. This recipe is vegan, spicy, sweet, and will get you going.
spicy morning matcha tonic spicy morning matcha tonic

Spicy Morning Matcha Tonic

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Keywords: beverage cocktail vegan vegetarian soy-free paleo

Ingredients (1 tonic)

  • 1 tsp matcha powder
  • 12 oz coconut milk (from the can)
  • 1 oz apple juice concentrate or 3 tsps honey
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 kiwi, peeled

Instructions

add all ingredients to a blender with 2 ice cubes and blend until smooth, this will take a bit–that matcha is stubborn.

serve over more ice.

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Getting Ready For Spring:

Spring can often be a dead-zone for books, it’s notquite summer, it’s notquite cozy reading weather, it’s cleaning and pollen, but let me tell you, this spring? It’s ON.

With so many choices, I thought I’d tell you what I’M planning on reading.

Spring Into a Good Book 10 Must-Read Books for Spring

Confession: I’ve already read this. It was AMAZING!!! But here’s the blurb:

Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.

A disturbing, yet beautifully composed narrative told in three parts, The Vegetarian is an allegorical novel about modern day South Korea, but also a story of obsession, choice, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.

I will read anything Louise Erdrich writes. She and Sherman Alexie are arguably the most prolific Native American writers today, and their work is frequently challenging to stereotypes White America hold sacred. Thank G-d, amirite?

Louise Erdrich, the author of the National Book Award-winning The Round House and the Pulitzer Prize nominee The Plague of Doves wields her breathtaking narrative magic in an emotionally haunting contemporary tale of a tragic accident, a demand for justice, and a profound act of atonement with ancient roots in indigenous culture.

I have very little working knowledge of Margaret Cavendish, but her life seems endlessly fascinating, and I do love a fictionalization of true history.

Margaret the First dramatizes the life of Margaret Cavendish, the shy, gifted, and wildly unconventional 17th-century Duchess. The eccentric Margaret wrote and published volumes of poems, philosophy, feminist plays, and utopian science fiction at a time when “being a writer” was not an option open to women. As one of the Queen’s attendants and the daughter of prominent Royalists, she was exiled to France when King Charles I was overthrown. As the English Civil War raged on, Margaret met and married William Cavendish, who encouraged her writing and her desire for a career. After the War, her work earned her both fame and infamy in England: at the dawn of daily newspapers, she was “Mad Madge,” an original tabloid celebrity. Yet Margaret was also the first woman to be invited to the Royal Society of London—a mainstay of the Scientific Revolution—and the last for another two hundred years.

Margaret the First is very much a contemporary novel set in the past, rather than “historical fiction.” Written with lucid precision and sharp cuts through narrative time, it is a gorgeous and wholly new narrative approach to imagining the life of a historical woman.

Reading this one RIGHT NOW.

A vampire’s grudges don’t stay dead long…

Merit is one of Chicago’s most skilled vampire warriors; these days, she doesn’t scare easily. But she and Master vampire Ethan have made a new and powerful enemy, and he won’t give up until he owns the Windy City.

With his last plan thwarted, he’s more determined than ever to watch Cadogan burn. Ethan has put the House’s vampires on high alert, but their enemy will stop at nothing, including pitting vampire against vampire…

In this deadly game of cat-and-mouse, the stakes are life or death—and winning might mean sacrificing everything…

Ten Must-Read Books for Spring and Creamy Roasted Mashed Root Vegetables to warm you for the… Click To Tweet

I’m obsessed with ALL things Mercy Thompson. Although, her tits get bigger every cover, her brain never gets any smaller, nor do her adversaries.

Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.

Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

I LOVED Archer’s Voice, and this one looks to have the same “aw shucks, right in the feely bone” quality to it.

Holden Scott is the prince of professional football. At least he was before he lost it all . . . or more to the point, before he threw it all away. Now he’s out of a job, out of the public’s good graces, and perhaps just a little out of his mind. So when a friend offers up his remote lodge in the wilds of Colorado, giving Holden some time away to get his life back on track, he can hardly say no. The last thing he expects is to see a beautiful girl in the woods—one wearing a white, lace dress who appears in the moonlight, and leaves no footprints behind. Is she a dream? A ghost? A product of his muddled imagination? Or something entirely different?
Midnight Lily is the haunting love story of two lost souls reaching for each other in the dark. A tale of healing, acceptance, and the worlds we create to protect our own hearts. It is a story of being lost, of being found, and of being in the place between.

Kylie Scott’s Stage Dive series was a real win for me. Light, funny, and a quick read, I’m hoping this falls in the same vein.

The last thing Vaughan Hewson expects to find when he returns to his childhood home is a broken hearted bride in his shower, let alone the drama and chaos that comes with her.

Lydia Green doesn’t know whether to burn down the church or sit and cry in a corner. Discovering the love of your life is having an affair on your wedding day is bad enough. Finding out it’s with his best man is another thing all together. She narrowly escapes tying the knot and meets Vaughan only hours later.

Vaughan is the exact opposite of the picture perfect, respected businessman she thought she’d marry. This former musician-turned-bartender is rough around the edges and unsettled. But she already tried Mr. Right and discovered he’s all wrong-maybe it’s time to give Mr. Right Now a chance.

SERIAL and The Making of a Murderer has me in the true crime fits. I’m just extending that with this one.

In the late 1800s, the city of Austin, Texas was on the cusp of emerging from an isolated western outpost into a truly cosmopolitan metropolis. But beginning in December 1884, Austin was terrorized by someone equally as vicious and, in some ways, far more diabolical than London’s infamous Jack the Ripper. For almost exactly one year, the Midnight Assassin crisscrossed the entire city, striking on moonlit nights, using axes, knives, and long steel rods to rip apart women from every race and class. At the time the concept of a serial killer was unthinkable, but the murders continued, the killer became more brazen, and the citizens’ panic reached a fever pitch.

Before it was all over, at least a dozen men would be arrested in connection with the murders, and the crimes would expose what a newspaper described as “the most extensive and profound scandal ever known in Austin.” And yes, when Jack the Ripper began his attacks in 1888, London police investigators did wonder if the killer from Austin had crossed the ocean to terrorize their own city.

 

One of my favorite shows in book form? YOU BETCHA.

n 1996 Amy Goodman started a radio show called Democracy Now! to focus on the issues that are underreported or ignored by mainstream news coverage. Shortly after September 11, 2001, they were broadcasting on television every weekday. Today it is the only public media in the US that airs simultaneously on satellite and cable television, radio, and the Internet. Now Amy and her journalist brother, David, share stories of the progressive heroes—the whistleblowers, the organizers, the protestors—who have brought about remarkable, often invisible change over the last two decades in seismic ways.

This book looks back over the past twenty years of Democracy Now! and considers that as the courts and government abdicate their responsibilities, it has fallen to ordinary people to hold the powerful to account. Amy gives voice to these leaderful, not leaderless, movements: the countless charismatic leaders who are taking to the streets in Ferguson, Staten Island, Wall Street, and other places where people are rising up to demand justice. This is the guiding principle of Democracy Now!, which is front and center in this powerful, important work.

I think my son is going to lose his ever-loving shit over this.

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Now, what goes with all these books? Well, it’s still technically winter, so…

How about some Creamy Roasted Mashed Root Vegetables?

creamy mashed roasted root vegetables creamy mashed roasted root vegetables creamy mashed roasted root vegetables

 

Creamy Roasted Mashed Root Vegetables

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour (mostly down time)

Keywords: vegan paleo low-carb

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 turnips chopped into 1/2 inch (a bit over a CM sq) cubes
  • 2 parsnips chopped similarly
  • 3 yukon gold potatoes, peeled, and chopped similarly
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, top sliced off
  • 1 stick of butter or vegan substitute
  • 1 tbsp EVOO or coconut oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F

toss cubed vegetables in oil

spread on two cookie sheets in a single layer

wrap garlic in foil

roast until soft, about 30 minutes

IN A FOOD PROCESSOR

combine all cooked veg, and squeeze out roasted garlic cloves into food pro

add remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth.

LEAVE VENTED unless you like 3rd degree burns.

add additional salt as needed

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Bearly Enough Puns.

Ok, before I get to the meat of this post, I want to congratulate Grace Draven and Elizabeth Hunter on their 4.5 star rating and “top pick” from Romantic Times for their duology Beneath a Waning Moon. It’s so well-deserved. Both novellas made my tingle parts sparkle. For real.

Is there a 12-step program for certain authors? Because I could probably use one. Elizabeth Hunter, Ilona Andrews, Neil Fucking Gaiman, Penny Reid, Madeleine Albright, Vonnegut, Austen, Dickens, Atwood…the list is long. These are authors I consistently read, re-read, am bowled over by, and get the shakes if I’m away from for any length of time.

I need a chronosynclastic infundibulum or some standing stones or some shit to transport me through time to make Vonnegut and Austen write MOAR. *Dickens, I love you, but you wrote a fuckton. We’re good. I wouldn’t want Great Expectations from the point of view of Estella, titled I Am What You Made Me. Ok, actually, I kinda would. TO VICTORIAN ENGLAND, I GO!!

ANYWAYS…

A few weeks ago, Elizabeth Hunter fed my habit by gifting me with an ARC of Waking Hearts. 

Now and then I like to feel good…

And I was over the fucking moon. I have been WAITING for Allie and Ollie’s story for what seems like forever and week. I love love love me a bear shifter. And a VIXEN?!?!? Let me remind you about the symbiotic relationship foxes and bears have in the wild…

THEY’RE BASICALLY BFFS, K?!

The bears (begrudgingly) share their kills and hunts with the arctic foxes, and even allow them to DEN WITH THEM. So what if Ollie and Allie aren’t arctic. They’re like the adorable desert equivalent.

I’ve been researching this a lot…because, you know, reasons.

Seeing the ARC pop up on my kindle gave me a shot of sheer joy that went through my entire body. Immediately, I searched for the puns that litter most bear shifter titles.

NOTHING. Not a single cheesy pun. Not “Bearly Ever” or “Bearly Hanging On” or “Bearly Dressed” or “Bearly Pregnant” or “UnBEARable” or even “Fox You.” Nothing.

These are all suggestions for any other bruin shifter book anyone would like to write. By the way, the sequel to Bearly Pregnant is, of course, BEARing Down, the third is Bearly Lucid.

 Ok, so the book made me so happy, I was SINGING in-between fits of reading.

Specifically, the vocal stylings of one Mr Freddie Mercury. So, BEAR with me while I write a musical blog.

Upon first reading, I already knew how much I loved Ollie. He is so steadfast in the previous books. He’s just a hot, level-headed, sexy, kind, lickable, wonderful bearman who just wants…

I feel you, Ollie. I feel you.

And Allie. Poor Allie. Her husband is a dog (literally) and ran off with his tail between his legs, and left her, leaving her wondering…

And she’s a mom. Of four. That changes a person–inside and out–like it as not. It’s not always easy to deal with those changes emotionally. But Ollie? Ollie gets her and thinks she is all the better for it.

(Here we see Freddie Mercury dressed as a different sort of bear.)

And Allie knows that

That big old, bar owning bear is just the right person at the right time for Allie. And Elizabeth Hunter beautifully choreographs the minutiae of a family dynamic into the idea of a fledgling relationship. Her children are wonderful and funny, and everything four kids should be. Loud, crazy, fun, and demanding.

(with 100% less cocaine.)

Elizabeth Hunter does not shy away from giving her protagonists impossible choices or painful realizations. In fact, other than world building, it’s what I would say she does best. She isn’t afraid to kill her darlings or just beat them the fuck around. No matter what, it makes the story so much more interesting.

And Cambio feels like home at this point in the series. The joy of reading an Elizabeth Hunter novel is the all-encompassing submersion into the masterfully imagined worlds and living completely in that existance for the span of the pages. And when her characters finally get that happily ever after? They fucking earned it.

The first time Allie and Ollie come together? I was as giddy as they were.

Ollie rescues Allie and she rescues him right back. Isn’t that how it should be? The strength shared between the two reminded me a lot of those great love stories you hear about during times of war or strife, when leaning on one another becomes absolutely essential. As necessary as breathing.

The ending made me deliriously happy. I won’t give away any major details, but, I had major chest tingles. Major.

Waking Hearts by Elizabeth Hunter

Five big, big, stars.

BUY IT

I think you know what recipe I made:

Obviously

Easy Bear Claws

Easy Bear Claws

 

Bear Claws for a Bear Shifter. Review of Waking Hearts by @E__Hunter #vegan #bookclub #books Click To Tweet

Easy Bear Claws

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: bake dessert breakfast snack

Ingredients (5 claws)

    for the claws

    • 10 puff pastry squares or 2 sheets puff pastry cut into ten squares or ten rounds
    • 6 oz almond paste
    • 4 tbsp vegan or regular cream cheese–soft
    • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
    • 2 tbsp butter or vegan butter
    • 1/2 tsp almond extract
    • 1 egg
    • 2 tbsp water
    • (or bean water+soy milk instead of eggs and water)

    for the glaze

    • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
    • 1/3 cup soy or regular milk
    • 1/4 tsp almond extract
    • 1 tbsp amaretto liqueur (optional)

    optional

    • chopped nuts

    Instructions

    for the claws

    preheat oven to 350F

    mix powdered sugar, almond paste, extract, butter, and cream cheese in a mixer on high

    let the puff pastry come to almost room temp and stack squares two by two and cut them into the wide “C” shapes. Don’t cut the claws, yet.

    smear the spread on half of all of the cut squares, leaving 1/2″ border all around

    mix egg with water and beat

    top with another cut square

    press firmly on edges to close

    cut five slices on longest edge

    place on parchment lined baking sheet, bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown

    let cool 15 minutes

    for the glaze

    combine all ingredients and whisk the hell out of them

    drizzle claws with glaze and top with nuts

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