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

 

[bctt tweet=”Bear Claws for a Bear Shifter. Review of Waking Hearts by @E__Hunter #vegan #bookclub #books”]

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

    Powered by Recipage

    Auralgasms #4

    YAYAYAYAYYY!!!

    ONE WEEK UNTIL THE BOSTON MARATHON!!!

    *insert nervous vomiting here.*

    Ok, Ok, let’s get beyond the nervous gag reflex and move onto happier subjects. Namely: AUDIOBOOKS!

    Because, it’s time for:

    Auralgasms.

     

    This week’s narrator is OH SO very satisfying. Actually, she was the first narrator I ever  listened to!

    When I was pregnant with the Peanut, I was placed on bed rest. I don’t know if you know this, but BED REST SUCKS YOUR SOUL OUT OF YOUR EARS AND SLINGS ARROWS AT YOUR HAPPY.

    Beyond that, my hyperemesis was giving me such bad vertigo that I couldn’t read without getting dizzy. I would get about ten pages into something, and spots would appear on the page, and the nausea would become so overwhelming that I would have to lie on my side with a pillow over my head for complete darkness. It was miserable.

    I needed an alternative. I’d watched every Golden Girls episode 198357x, I could quote entire scenes from Wes Anderson films, and DJ Lance from Yo Gabba Gabba had infiltrated my dreams at night.

    On a whim, I took out my 3g iPhone to see if Amazon sold audiobooks. (This was earrrrly 2011, and I don’t think I even owned a KINDLE at that point.) Lo and behold! HUZZAH! There was an APP FOR THAT.

    That night, and I think it was release day, I purchased my very first audiobook:

    I had never before heard of the author. I had certainly not heard the narrator read another story. However, the subject matter intrigued me, the narrator had killer ratings, and JUST LOOK AT THOSE SHOES, THAT SCYTHE, that manicure. 

    I listened to the brief sample, and I thought “well this is different, but okkkkk.”

    An hour later, I was hooked. I didn’t come up for air until it was finished. My husband and son must have thought I’d gone into some weird pregnant-lady trance to cope with the drudgery of being forced to lie about like some sort of land-stranded manatee.

    The narrator, Lorelei King, was my gateway drug. She was the one to give me my first auralgasm.  I was blown away that having the book read to me could not only be an efficient manner in which to feed my incessant need for books, but that it could also enhance the enjoyment of the experience of reading.

    Lorelei King’s narrations are second to none. It’s impossible to tally the numbers of characters she has going at any one gallop. I’m certain that she lives with a cast of at least 50 (that I could count in research for this post) in her head every day.

    I’m not lying. I counted fifty individual voices. I’d also be lying if I told you I didn’t buy more of the books she’s narrated as “research.”

    Sidenote: did you know they’ve put Louisa May Alcott on audio? I squeed. (loudly, and to tangible, physical effect.)

    She narrates TWO of my favorite series: Mercy Thompson and the above mentioned Charley Davidson. I’ve reached the point where I don’t even buy the kindle version of those books, JUST the audiobook. If Lorelei King isn’t reading it to me?

    Lorelei King’s comedic timing could set the international clock it’s so fucking perfect. I’m not kidding. There have been times, where I was just in awe. In one of the Charley books, I can’t remember which, Charley makes a very funny quip about how she acquired a jockey from either a hockey or soccer team. I remember A: laughing hysterically, and B: being completely wowed. It was as though Lorelei King was absolutely making it up on the fly, just as though she’d thought of the joke just then. Exactly as intended.

    Flawless.

     

    Incredible, right?

    Want to know the WILDEST thing (in my opinion) about Lorelei King?

    Ok, so most narrators have a pretty recognizable speaking voice. If you hear them in a conversation, you recognize their speech as their “base” voice. That vaguely familiar inner-monologue or “God voice” that runs through the books they narrate.

    Lorelei King sounds NOT ONE FUCK like her conversational voice you hear over the radio or in an interview and it SCREWED WITH MY DAMN MIND.

    por ejemplo:

    What.The.Actual.Fuck.

    That means that every single voice this woman records is a character. Let that sink in.

    Mind.Blown.

    She’s also apparently quite lovely, because when I asked her on the twitter if she had a favorite sweet, she was awesome and responded.

    She happened to mention two of my favorite things: pistachio and meringue. 

    Immediately, I thought of my latest NYC obsession: merveilleux. It’s a Belgian/French treat made of meringue cookies stacked with fresh whipped cream, and rolled in something awesome. I’ve made a few variations, and I have to tell you, this one is my favorite so far.

    Pistachio and Orange Blossom Merveilleux

    A delicate Merveilleux with orange blossom whipped cream and rolled in toasted pistachios.

    pistachio and orange blossom merveilleux

    [bctt tweet=”#Auralgasms featuring @loreleiking AND! Think French pastry is difficult? YOU’RE RIGHT! but I can help. #Merveilleux”]

    pistachio and orange blossom merveilleux

     

    Pistachio and Orange Blossom Merveilleux

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: depends if you make your own m

    Cook Time: see above.

    Keywords: bake appetizer breakfast dessert cake cookie

    Ingredients (6 merveilleux)

    • 12 meringue cookies. I like this recipe.

    for the cream

    • 10 oz box heavy whipping cream
    • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
    • 1 tsp orange blossom water
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

    toppings

    • roasted, salted, crushed pistachios
    • orange or clementine zest.

    Instructions

    to make the whipped cream

    whip the cream in a mixer with the whisk attachment on high

    when it starts to peak, sift in the sugar

    slowly add water and extract

    Avengers, ASSEMBLE!

    place six of the meringues top up

    pipe or scoop a few tbsp of cream onto each meringue

    place another meringue on top, face down

    smear the sides of each meringue stack with whipped cream like you would frost a cake

    roll in pistachio

    freeze for 30 minutes

    pipe a rosette on top of each stack and top with zest and nuts!

    EAT THIS RTF AWAY!

    Powered by Recipage

    Auralgasms #3

    I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before today, but I am in rehearsals “Twelfth Night.” I am playing Viola. I’m going to assume I’m getting to play this awesome role because of talent, and possibly nepotism, and not because of nepotism and the fact that I’m shaped like a 13 year old boy.

    Anyways, that’s beside the point. Theatre, in all of its madness and chaos of live performance and all that rot, is essentially a liquid, living, visual experience. As an actor, I’m able to use my body, my face, and the stage to portray everything I want to as that character. Really, it’s all very Waiting for Guffman. 

    This is where we’re going to pretend I get all Inside the Actor’s Studio about acting, and what it takes to do it and yadda yadda yadda, more shit people don’t care about if they’re not actors….

    But I will answer this:

    Because it’s so easy. It’s “cunt punt.” Sorry, PSM.

    Moving on, my point is, when I’m on stage or in front of a camera, I have a fuckton of means available to convey emotion and everything else. HOWEVER, some of the ABSOLUTELY MOST DIFFICULT work I’ve done as an actor is voiceover work. You’re expected to make magic with only your instrument. (insert skin flute joke, here.) It’s a very solitary gig. It’s just you and the producer, in a disturbingly quiet room, and a microphone that stares at you like it’s about to eat your face.

    Sometimes, if you’re recording dialogue for a cartoon, you get sketches or stills for inspiration. Also, chances are, you’re going to be doing one or two of the voices–so, not so bad. You flail, you pull your hair, you get all “method” in front of the face-eating microphone.

    If its an ad, it’s a reasonably straight-forward gig. Read, get it clear, get it across, get it done. Great. BAM. Thank you very much, don’t forget my check.

    But when it’s an AUDIOBOOK. It’s JUST YOU. (mostly) For HOURS. You’re doing every voice, every emotion, every call and wail, every breathy intonation, every bit of it. Face Eater just hangs there in judgement of your every word. Your producer occasionally stops you dead in the middle of the line to tell you that you need to swallow. (perfect place for another skin flute reference.) You have a script in front of you with eighteen different colors of highlighter splattered across its pages like some sort of evil modern art graffiti. You drink approximately a gallon of throat coat, and proceed to wiggle through the last 4 pages because your bladder is about to explode. By the end of the day, you’re wanting to add some gin to that tea, because you have had it with hearing yourself talk.

    Also? Sometimes you read books that may make my jokes about *woodwinds* seem like the most innocent of humor. Sometimes, you find yourself describing, in detail, very interesting scenes. There could be moaning…heavy breathing……….grunting.

    Sometimes, if say, you’re a pale-ass Slav with a fundie father, you develop a fever of the face through the entire read.

    There’s a good reason why I do theatre, and why I admire the ever-loving fuck out of actors who make their living reading for audiobooks. It is seriously hard, and somewhat lonely, and GAH! HARD! *twhs.

    Auralgasms.

    This week’s aurgasms narrator, Xe Sands, makes it sound effortless. Like, homegirl just walks up to the face-eating demon recorder, says “FUCK YOU, I WILL CUNT-PUNT YOUR ASS INTO SUCCESS!” and then she just rocks that book like the San Andreas fault rocks Cali. Or how I rock myself in a corner before I go into the recording studio. (it’s all very Emily Rose, for me)

    I want to rock like Thorin.

    The first series I listened to that she narrated was the Nightwalkers, series by Jacquelyn Frank. The series itself is pretty boss, great writing, fun plot, interesting characters, good books, right? Would I have stayed with the series through its entirety, and listened to the spin-off series if not for the narrator? I don’t think so. I think if it was on my kindle alone, it would have sat in the long line of TBR that I have no idea if I’ll ever read.

    Her reading of Euphoriaone of my favorite books of last year, was ABSOFUCKINGAMAZEBALLS. Her accents, her characters, her men, her women, everything. Perfect. My cast mate came in while I was listening to it, and he looked at me, and said “that voice should read me to sleep every night.” I sent him to her audible page.

    If he chooses the right novel, sleep won’t be what’s on his mind…

    Her voice is reminiscent of Kathleen Turner, only a bit more youthful, a bit less tobacco. It’s sexy in a way that’s exactly the right amount of turn-the-page hotness, and toned-down seductress. She is exactly who you’d choose to read the chapters of your memoirs that deal with your clubbing 20s and peak 30s.

    I also think it’d be hilarious to hear her totttalllly sex up a read of bad high school emo poetry, because I am fucked up like that.

    A lot of my emo poetry from high school is ALL ABOUT unrequited love, and my gay boyfriend not really knowing what to do when he felt me up. It was an embarrassing time for all.

    I’m about to kick some serious ass, running all weekend, and just POUNDING a series narrated by Xe Sands. (plus a few others, I have ADHD.) I suggest you do the same.

    The recipe for the narrator.

    Thankfully, Xe Sands is on social media and I could ask her for her favorites. She was polite enough to respond, and thus, y’all are getting

    Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Donuts.

    Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Donuts

     

    [bctt tweet=”Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Donuts and latest #Auralgasms post! #donuts #audiobooks #narratorfangirling”] Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Donuts Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Donuts Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Donuts

    These are like the best bakery sour cream donut, combined with delectable dark chocolate, and an ooey-gooey glaze that makes your mouth sing.

     

     

    Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Donuts

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 20 minutes plus 45 minutes chi

    Cook Time: 5-8 minutes

    Keywords: fry appetizer bread breakfast dessert

    Ingredients (1 dozen donuts)

    • 1 egg
    • 3 tbsp softened butter
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 2 tbsp milk
    • 2 1/3 cup AP Flour–sifted twice
    • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
    • fat for frying

    glaze

    • 100 ml HOT, but not scalding whole milk
    • 1 cup sifted confectioners sugar
    • 3 tbsp white corn syrup
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/4 tsp almond extract

    Instructions

    whip together wet ingredients in a mixer on high

    reduce mixer speed to slow

    sift in dry ingredients, save chips

    stir in chips

    cover and chill for 45 minutes

    preheat 2 cups of oil in a shallow pan

    bring oil to 325F

    roll out dough on floured surface and cut into rounds and cut out centers 1/2″ thick.

    re-roll excess and repeat

    fry each donut 3 minutes per side

    let cool

    make glaze

    glaze

    whisk sugar and extracts and syrup into hot milk with a whisk

    AVENGERS, ASSEMBLE!!

    dip each cooled donut into the glaze and set aside for a few minutes

    eat.

    Powered by Recipage

    Slate Beats Grey

    Quick marathon training update!

    I ran all of my miles last week in spite of feeling like the wrong side of a wrecked cab. YAY! I did not, however, make it to Crossfit more than once. I also completed only 45 minutes of yoga. This week will be better! My stride feels good, my motivation is high, and I have nothing precluding me from kicking ass and taking names. Sometimes, lacing up is the hardest part. Sometimes, it’s the complete lack of desire to wake up and put on a bra. The struggle is real.

    Another small point of business before the book review. I GOT A PUPPY!!!! Ok, I adopted a seven month old shih tzu/havanese puppy–but, still–PUPPY!!! Her name is Montana Wildhack, (yes, I re-named her, yes after a character in Slaughterhouse Five. Yes, the porn star) and she’s all that’s lovey-dovey and playful. She’s a bit like a cat in that she prefers to be justthiscloserightontop of me when I’m writing, but we’re working on an agreement.

    IMG_1338Right now, she looks all kinds of silly because I had to trim her face down to nearly the skin because of mats, but it’ll grow back soon enough.

    OK!

    Book Post!

    In the last few days, I needed a “cleanse” from truly shitty novels (pun intended.) I’m working on a project that requires me to read an obscene amount of PNR, Contemporary romance, and historical romance. This is normally GREAT. However, when you’re mostly concerned with an even sampling, that means RANDOM, and random means, “omg wtf did I just read?!”

    Truly, I have read some really terrible books lately.

    Typically, when I need a palate cleanser, I turn to an old standby–Vonnegut, Austen, Alexie, Fitzgerald, or Bronte. I fill my mind with the quirky cadence of Cat’s Cradle, or the loving embrace of Northanger Abbey. The exquisitely-written prose is like a balm on my wounded psyche, providing curative energy that allows me to keep going.

    This time, I went out on a limb with an author that I’d only read once before. However, I LOVED what I did read. So I figured that if I hated it, it still counted as research! (it fits into the parameters, but just barely.) However, I loved it like I love sugar and new socks.

    Radiance by Grace Draven.

    radiance

     

    Yes, the MC is sort of muddy in color. Slate-ish. Unpolished chrome, even. Ok, fuck it, homeboy is gray. Not 50 Shades, though. Because homeboy isn’t a creepy stalker, either.

    The Blurb:

    THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE

    Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over.  A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty.  Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.

    THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE

    Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage.  Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat, but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human.  Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

    Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

    Why I loved it:

    So many reasons. Let me try to flesh this out for you. 

    First, holy fuck the language. Grace Draven must be either A: a total word nerd, or B: a medievalist. How do I know this? She used one of my FAVORITE archaic words in Radiance: swive. Which was a PRECURSOR TO FUCK. It predates my favorite word. I adore using it, but I am really limited in my use of the old word, because, essentially, eight people know what it means.

    The world building and sense of “place” in the text are insanely detailed, but not so overly detailed that the reader has no blanks in which to fill with their own imagination. She created an entirely different humanoid race, but it’s not like, say, a klingon, where they’re just…strange. These “kai” are just different enough as to be worrisome, but not different enough as to send you screaming.

    Also, this was not a “let’s get naked and make babies at first sight” type of story. The relationship in this book built organically, and out of the bonds of trust and friendship. The attraction came with knowing the other person inside, as well as the skin they wear.

    radiance

    The action didn’t feel out of left-field like it sometimes does in fantasy. It wasn’t “and they were walking along, and a six-headed dragon lord decided to poop rainbows in their direction.” There was an even, slow build to the action that built the tension gradually, and served to fuel the romance in a manner I’ve not seen previously.

    Radiance by Grace Draven is an epic fantasy romance that will convert even the most deeply-rooted detractors of the genre. The story may be the work of unbridled imagination, but the best traditions of classical storytelling shine through like a candle in the night. Much in the way an Elizabeth Hunter novel spans more than the alterity of the tomes, this book isn’t merely romance or merely fantasy, it elevates each aspect to make the whole something altogether more. 

    If Le Guin decided to start penning romance novels, Radiance would be the novel she’d read to prepare.

    Five Stars.

    The food NOT inspired by the book.

    Why is it not inspired by the book? Because the two dishes most prominently discussed in the book are A: plain potatoes, and B: a venomous and viperine insect that is baked(?) in a pot pie, and fights back. No fucking thank you. Four and Twenty Blackbirds was my previous pie nightmare, now? It’s killer bug pie. 

    SO?

    I made cake.

    Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Mug Cake.

    and it’s good.

    [bctt tweet=”Whole Wheat, no refined sugar, choc chip mug cake and a 5 STAR BOOK REVIEW! #fitfluential #books #cake”]

    whole wheat chocolate chip mug cake whole wheat chocolate chip mug cake
    whole wheat chocolate chip mug cake

    whole wheat chocolate chip mug cake (MICROWAVE!)

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 2 minutes

    Cook Time: 90 seconds

    Keywords: microwave breakfast dessert side snack

    Ingredients (1 serving)

    • 2tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
    • 2 tbsp whole milk
    • 1 tbsp maple syrup
    • 1/2 tbsp butter (1 1/2 tsp)
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
    • pinch baking powder
    • 2 tbsp chocolate chips
    • cooking spray

    Instructions

    spray the inside of a mug with cooking spray

    in another bowl combine all ingredients

    pour into prepared mug

    microwave on high 90 seconds

    eat immediately.

    Powered by Recipage

    Get Series(ous). #5

    It is 2 degrees in NYC. Two. As in 1+1. It’s the most basic math equation one ever learns, and all I can think is one plus one equals fuck you. I don’t want to leave the happy hollow I’ve created out of a pile of duvets and fuzzy blankets. I have a steaming mug of coffee, a filled thermos of the liquid sanity, and endless pages of fiction to write–and to read–in front of me. Damn the outdoors, I’m not even going to put on proper pants today.

    Because I’m a writer, I’m going to pretend that’s ok.

    Today’s Get Series(ous) series takes place in sunny Chicago!

    Oh wait…

    witch's tit. A closeup.

    Ok, so, negative one minus one also equals fuck you–probably.

    For whom is this series perfect?

    The grown-up who loved The Bridge to Terebithia. They might-could-possibly tell you every story line in every Nancy Drew book. Their first movie boyfriend was Louis de Pointe du Lac, and then they read the book and fell in love with the tortured Lestat. (Obviously, the book is the original, but hey, they were 11 when the movie was released!! QUIT JUDGING ME, IT WAS BRAD PITT!)

    This reader might have loved the show Sports Night. Not because of the sportsing going on, but because of the beautiful layers of sarcasm. Because there’s really nothing more important than the ability to embrace the “meh” in everything.

    This reader is probably physically active–or at least has aspirations of activity. (Doing the walkings and the liftings of heavy things is hard when one plus one equals fuck you.) Reading about training and dancing and other strenuous physical activities that make you sweaty is really a motivator!

    don’t pretend looking at this doesn’t make you…warm.

    This was totally not just another excuse to place a Fassbender .gif.

    this was.

    This reader may also love the bacon and the pizza(ish) and the junk food. They make late-night runs for Hot Beef if they live in Brooklyn. Italian beef if they live in Chicago. Creamed beef in Youngstown. Hidden beef eaten in a closet of shame at 2am in Los Angeles.

    What’s the series?

    The Chicagoland Vampire Series by Chloe Neill. (book is link.)

    The Blurb from book 1: (pictured above)

    They killed me. They healed me. They changed me.

    Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but I was doing fine until Chicago’s vampires announced their existence to the world. When a rogue vampire attacked me, I was lucky he only got a sip. Another bloodsucker scared him off and decided the best way to save my life was to make me the walking undead.

    Now I’ve traded sweating over my thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan “Lord o’ the Manor” Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed,
    four-hundred-year-old vampire, he has centuries’ worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects my gratitude—and servitude. Right…

    But someone’s out to get me. Is it the rogue vampire who bit me? A vamp from a rival House? An angry mob bearing torches?

    My initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war—and there will be blood.

    Why I love it:

    This series was not even on my radar until a few years ago when my PSM told me that I really must read it. I was burned out on romances, and just wanted some action. (Take that as you will.) 

    I wanted a book that didn’t make me feel like my feminism was perishing slowly under the weight of the Bellas and my own insecurities. I am SO glad she pointed me toward this (and a few other) series.

    Not these Bellas. They’re aca-awesome.

    Here is a protagonist who is smart, (PhD candidate) athletic, (dancer!) and she never once thinks a man is the key to solving her problems. She is not the polite, tractable female so common in PNR/UF.

    Even when she does catch a man’s eye. He doesn’t–I don’t know–take her to a red room of dubious consent, or stalk her at night while telling her that her virginity is a sacred bloom that should be preserved. Sort of like this other flower held by this other dude with consent issues….

    Bitches love libraries–and autonomy.

    Nope. What does this guy do? He places her in a position of authority–even over himself–apart from him. He doesn’t mansplain or pull punches. He balls-to-the-wall Betty Friedans her vampire ass.

    It’s great.

    The series is lengthy, sitting pretty at eleven books (more to come!). However, this is not like some long series that died a painful death long before the last story is told. I’m actually EAGER to read the next novel that is to be released on 3/2. I’ve preordered. There’s a certain tingly feeling of anticipation when I think about the next book. I’m not at all eye-rolling the next book, dreading the nails to be added to the coffin of a once-loved storyline. Each book is fresh and engaging.

    I honest-to-Pete have no idea how she’s kept me so interested. Homegirl must have Nora Roberts level book-penning juju.

    It would be easy to get ensnared into a too-convoluted storyline, what with the multitudinous supernatural groups populating this series. From the shifters and their acute noesis, to the nymphs and their libidinous natures, and the fae, and their ass-basketedness. It never does, though. It simply works.

    Put on a pair of leather pants, get yourself something made with bacon, and dig into these books.

    The recipe inspired by the series:

    In the book, the MC, Merit, is a bit of a junk food junkie. She loves deep dish, Italian beef, and her beloved, “mallocakes.” In the series, they’re a chocolate and marshmallow confection, similar to Mallomars. I knew I could recreate something similar, but just doing a plain old Mallomar copycat seemed lame. So I made them better.

    Green Tea and Dark Chocolate “Mallocakes”

    or less creatively-infringing

    Green Tea and Dark Chocolate Mallow Cakes.

    Because, umami.

    marshmallow recipe adapted from this one.

    Green Tea and Dark Chocolate Mallow Cakes Green Tea and Dark Chocolate Mallow Cakes

    [bctt tweet=”Get Series(ous). This time, with mallocakes. Bookies and Cookies, Oh my!”]

    Green Tea and Dark Chocolate Mallow Cakes.

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 45 minutes-1 hour

    Cook Time: 4 hours+of passing time

    Keywords: snack dessert bars cookie

    Ingredients

      for the marshmallow

      • 2 packages of unflavored gelatin (use Knox)
      • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
      • 2/3 cup water
      • 1 cup superfine sugar
      • pinch of sea salt
      • 2 tbsp matcha powder
      • 2 tsp vanilla extract
      • 1/2 cup corn starch
      • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
      • cooking spray

      for the bottoms

      • one sleeve of graham crackers

      for the chocolate coating

      • one bag of dark chocolate chips

      optional

      • crushed almonds or matcha powder to dust the tops of the mallocakes.

      Instructions

      mix together the corn starch and powdered sugar and set aside

      spray a 13″-9″ pan with cooking spray

      sift some of the flour/sugar mixture over all of that spray, coating the inside of the pan

      break down the graham crackers into quarters and layer in a single layer into the bottom of the pan, using halves of those quarters to finish the layer if need be.

      to make the marshmallow

      divide the water in half, place half in a mixer bowl with gelatin

      add half to a heavy-bottomed saucepan with sugar, corn syrup, and salt.

      (spray the measuring cup with cooking spray before adding corn syrup for easy removal!)

      cover and turn to medium high

      let cook for about 4 minutes

      uncover and cook about 5 more minutes, or until the sides begin to boil.

      remove from heat immediately.

      place whisk attachment in mixer and turn to low, when the jelly mixture sort of gets globby,

      pour in hot sugar mixture in very slowly

      when it’s all in, turn mixer to high and whip that stuff for a damn long time

      about 15 minutes-until it’s really fluffy and white, like marshmallow fluff

      add in the matcha powder and vanilla in the last minute or two

      pour over the graham cracker mixture and spread with an offset spatula

      cover with a dusting of more of the corn starch and sugar mix

      let sit in the open air for a few hours (no less than 3) or overnight.

      to coat

      it’s really easiest to melt the chocolate in increments in the microwave, 30 seconds on high, stir, repeat, take to 15 seconds for a few times, until smooth.

      Avengers! Assemble!

      turn out the marshmallow/graham pan onto a dusted cutting board

      using a BIG pizza cutter that you’ve rolled through the sugar/starch mix, cut between the crackers, and shake off the excess dust

      place marshmallow up onto a cookie sheet lined with a cooling rack and silpat or parchment

      spoon melted chocolate over each piece and let coat or dip tops into the melted chocolate.

      while chocolate is still tacky, dust with almonds or matcha

      let set–about an hour.

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