Get Series(ous). #4

Before we get into this week’s series, let me give you a little update on my marathon training, and a bit about coffee with friends.

Last week I ran a clean 60. My eustachian tube (the thing that leads to your eardrum–mine is effed up) has been bugging the hell out of me, so my longest run was only 14 miles. I hit it heavier during the week, including cross-training on the row machine and the stair climber.

I have come to the conclusion that nothing is more frustrating than repeatedly going up stairs and never getting anywhere. It’s worse than the treadmill, it’s way worse than an elliptical, it makes the row machine look like utopia. Basically, I’d rather have a Golgathan shit demon give me a pedicure than ever get back on that stupid thing.

just keep climbing. just keep climbing.

I did precisely zero yoga this week, as I was simply too busy. Brigitte, my future yoga ass, was not added to in the slightest. However, Ursula, my wino ass, was padded quite nicely.

Ok, ONTO THE BOOKS!!

Get Series(ous).

This week’s series is definitely a departure from the other three I’ve presented to you so far.

Hear me out. This week’s series is historical fiction set in the medieval era. I know, I know, you want to wave this one away because you once took an English History course wherein you fell asleep before you even reached the first Tudor. (Plantage-who?)

It doesn’t matter. I am quite certain most people will love these books. However, I know you’re looking for a more-specific set of parameters of who best is suited to this particular series.

This series is for the person who randomly quotes Braveheart or Excalibur. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves made you batty with Costner’s shit accent, period inappropriate costumes, and badly-researched script.

You may love all of those sexy Highland romances, or perhaps the movie Elizabeth. When you were little, you dreamed of being a princess or the King. You know all about ermine and chainmail.

It’s quite possible you’ve been to a Medieval Times, and wished the actors actually drew blood. (Because, jousting tourneys should end with a good maiming!)

What’s the series?

 

It’s the William Marshal series by Elizabeth Chadwick.

The Blurb:

Based on fact, this is the story of William Marshal, the greatest knight of the Middle Ages. Unsurpassed in the tourneys, he adeptly manoeuvres his way through the colourful, dangerous world of Angevin politics to become one of the most powerful magnates of the realm and eventually regent of England. From minor beginnings and a narrow escape from death in childhood, William Marshal steadily rises through the ranks to become tutor in arms to the son of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. As champion on the tourney field and a royal favorite, William is in danger of petty jealousies at court. Dogged by scandal, banished from court, his services are nevertheless sought throughout Europe and when William’s honour is vindicated, he returns to court to win greater acclaim and power than before. A crusader and the only knight ever to unhorse the legendary Richard Coeur de Lion, William’s courage and steadfastness are rewarded by the hand in marriage of Anglo-Irish heiress Isobel de Clare, 19 years old, the grandaughter of kings and his equal in every way.

What I love:

This series is not merely a story told over several (5) novels. The William Marshal Series by Elizabeth Chadwick is a well-researched, sweeping epic of a tale, told by one of the world’s foremost Marshal scholars. It is fiction, yes, but it’s the sort of fiction that drives you to learn much more–beyond that of what’s in the pages you’ve read. It is similar to how fans of the Outlander series often become obsessed with the Jacobite revolution; readers of this series become desirous of knowledge of the medieval monarchies and courtly love. 

This series will serve as a beautiful exordium into the vast canon that is historical fiction. And who knows, maybe even historical non-fiction. (It’s not all as dry as what you were forced to stomach in school.)

These books are not 200 page afternoon snacks. They’re meaty and long, and a full meal in and of themselves. (TWHS) At over 500 pages each, these books will take a few days to read, but let me tell you, they are PAGE-TURNERS. Think of what William Marshal witnessed! The fall of England in Normandy, a sibling rivalry and monarch so unpredictable that Shakespeare decided to immortalize it.

He stood witness to the MAGNA CARTA.

These are not small things.

Throughout the series, Elizabeth Chadwick takes on the heavy task of fluidly telling their stories in a fashion that maintains reader interest and piques their curiosity. She not only manages this–she excels. Every book is a revelation, each installment serving as lung and mallet for the reader, both keeping them lively into it, and forcing the breath from their lungs upon its completion. I daresay holding a bit of it hostage until the next book.

Absolutely a five-star series. Read it.

And now, the food.

I thought about creating a recipe revolving around this series, but they mostly ate meat and bread with honey, and drank a lot of booze. Granted, I’d be more than happy to just pour myself a glass of sherry and drizzle some honey on a flatbread and call it a day, but that’s not much of a recipe, is it? Yeah, no.

So I formatted a recipe for my training.

Almond Butter and Date Protein Smoothie

Delicious, a GREAT recovery or a meal. It packs a caloric punch, about 500 calories, but it’s all-natural, filling as a mother, and SO GOOD.

almond butter and date protein smoothie

 

 

Almond Butter and Date Protein Smoothie

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Keywords: blender breakfast dessert snack entree

Ingredients (1 smoothie)

  • 1, 5-6 oz container plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk (any)
  • 5-6 dates, pitted
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • handful of ice

Instructions

dump ingredients into blender

blend

drink

(straw optional)

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Get Series(ous). #3

True story: I had to edit the ever-loving hell out of this post…

Today’s Get Series(ous). is a favorite of mine, and I could wax poetic about it all damn day. Apparently, I planned on it, because the original post was pushing 2,000 words.

Get Series(ous).

Today’s series is for someone who loves the unexpected. Surprise parties are your favorite parties, and you never read spoilers for books or movies.

You believe that good can be found even in the bleakest of situations.

You recognize that family is not only comprised of those to whom you were born, but those of whom you chose.

If you were a fan of Angels in America (yes, I am making that comparison…hear me out) because you understood the depth of the struggle of a crisis of faith. You can see the beauty in the everyday. 

Yet? You still want to escape. You want to go to that place where reality slips away, and your burdens are no longer your own, and you’re experiencing the thoughts and actions of someone else for a while. You want to experience falling in love, and making a home, and learning new things; and the cacophonies of new emotions swirling from the linguistic gramophone of the novel into your mind’s ear and deep into your heart.

Also? You may have a thing for guys with tattoos who draw on you with a soft sable brush while you’re naked.

Because, WHO WOULDN’T WANT THAT?

What series is it that I speak of with such annoying sycophancy?

Pictures are links, as I do.

The Blurb from book 1, The Scribe:

Hidden at the crossroads of the world, an ancient race battles to protect humanity, even as it dies from within.

Ava Matheson came to Istanbul looking for answers, but others came looking for her. A reckless warrior guards her steps, but will Malachi’s own past blind him to the truth of who Ava might be? While ancient forces gather around them, both Ava and Malachi search for answers.

Whispering voices. Deadly touch. Their passion should be impossible… or it could be the only thing that will keep them alive.

What I love about it:

The Irin Chronicles is a wholly refreshing series in the oft-overdone worlds of paranormal romance. It feels fresh and previously completely unimagined. Elizabeth Hunter’s world-building is on-par with that of master world-builders like Neil Gaiman (think: Anansi Boys) or Stephen King (think: The Dark Tower). But the stories are told through a distinctly romantic voice. The magic of her storytelling is that the romance in The Irin Chronicles becomes so seamlessly entwined with the other aspects of the story–like the setting, or certain symbolic elements–that it becomes altered, and somehow more. The whole of this series is certainly more than the sum of its parts; but the parts–they’re enough to stand on their own, acting as brave sentry over a text that erupts with newly-ignited passions and soul. 

Why I think you’ll love it, and the basics:

If you’ve reached a point in your romance reading that you roll your eyes at every story, and quickly flip through pages, humming the “read this before, saw that coming” tune, then this is one to pick up. 

This is not the gajillionaire vampire meets a pretty virgin and bites her after breaching her maidenhead story you’ve read to exhaustion. This series doesn’t even hold any propinquity with those tales.

There are currently two books in this series of three. They are available in paperback, ebook, and the OMG SO WELL-READ AUDIOBOOK. Seriously. I suggest getting the kindle and the audible version so that you can switch back and forth and finish it in exactly zero time, and so that you can hear the narrator read it and give you tingly tingles in your tingle places. (Your heart you scamps. Mind out of the gutter!)

The big announcement.

The final Irin Scribe Chronicles novel, The Secret will be released on March 31.

HOLY HOWEVER YOU SAY “CRAP” IN THE OLD LANGUAGE USED IN THE SERIES! 

I’m having a moment. I’m going to need to re-read, re-listen to them again soon to refresh my brain. 

<700 words. I took an angelic blade to this post for y’all.  Never let it be said I do not love you.

Now? The food.

The Irin Chronicles takes place all over Turkey (and the cold north, but mostly Turkey) and having that, I knew I wanted to re-create one of my favorite dishes from a local Turkish restaurant, Taci’s Beyti. They have PHENOMENAL food. However, a fuckton of it is fried. I simply am not in the place where I want to be eating fried food all the time.

Therefore, I took their sigara boregi (feta cigars) and made it healthier and easier. Because, let’s face it, phyllo dough is delicious, but that stuff is a bitch. I used Russian “pastry leaves” which I love, but extra-thin egg roll wrappers would work as well. Also, those awesome g-free egg roll wraps would also suffice.

Baked Feta Cigars

baked feta cigars baked feta cigars baked feta cigars

 

Baked Feta Cigars

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5-8 minutes

Keywords: bake appetizer side dessert vegetarian Mediterranean

Ingredients (unlimited….but this recipe m)

  • 3/4 lb or more of sturdy, reduced salt, feta cheese
  • 1 package of pastry leaves or egg roll wrappers
  • zest of one or more lemons
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp water
  • cooking spray

optional ingredients

  • chopped dates
  • chopped olives
  • honey
  • dill
  • parsley
  • crushed almonds

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450F

cut the feta into sticks (about 4″ by 1/2″)

chill sticks to near freezing *place in freezer 5-10 minutes

place about one inch from the edge of a pastry leaf, leaving about 3″ in front, and an 1″ on either side

sprinkle with lemon zest.

brush all edges with egg wash. (that egg and water mixture)

roll like a burrito, tail up, sides in, and roll forward

place on a cookie sheet that is sprayed with cooking spray

spray the cigars with cooking spray and brush the tops with egg wash

bake 5-8 minutes or until tops brown

eat immediately

These can be assmbled, tied with twine, and frozen if you’d like to make a ton and then just bake them off. The egg wash and spray should not be applied before freezing.

options

add chopped olives on top of the feta before you roll

same for nuts or seeds

sweet version

add chopped dates to feta and then drizzle with honey after baking.

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Get Series(ous).

Last week, in this post,  I started a new series on the blog wherein I am going to recommend different book series for different types of people. But first…an update on my marathon training.

Today, (I’m writing this on Sunday night) was going to be a quick run. 5-8 miles. Instead, because NYC is expecting the blizzard which may or may not end the world as we know it, I did my long run. Tomorrow, I will do speed work before doomsday arrives.

It was just the crazy Scotsman and me, and we made quick work of our 14 miles. (just over 2 hours) I then ran, quite literally, to the grocery store for various and sundry supplies. Just in case Mother Nature decides to be an obdurate bitch, and opens up a can on Brooklyn. I’m beginning to question my decision not to include booze…tomorrow. I’ll get wine tomorrow.

Gods save me from snow days.

Now?

THE BOOKS!! (And then the food. You know how I do.)

Get Series(ous).

 

The series of the week is… (book is link)

The Soul Eaters Series by Eliza Crewe. Honestly? I JUST read the first one last week, and I JUST finished the second book in the middle of the night last night. The third is due out this year.

And I want to go and do it all again.

Who should read this series? 

That’s easy.

This book is perfect for the girl who talks to herself in the shower. Not out-loud, mind you, but the girl who has a vivid imagination, and isn’t afraid to use it. She is caught smiling to herself on long runs or walks because she just thought of something funny.

She may have a soft spot for damaged people, and secretly finds a dumb jock endearing, but nothing to get excited about.

She knows that life isn’t black and white, and that learning to live in the gray areas is the best way to move forward.

She may like the comedy of Margaret Cho. She probably watched Buffy. She may fucking love every word Darynda Jones has ever written.

Overall, she’s a funny, super-chill chick with whom you just want to get a beer and hang out.

Is this you? Of course it is. You’re reading my blog. 

The Blurb.

Meet Meda. She eats people.

Well, technically, she eats their soul. But she totally promises to only go for people who deserve it. She’s special. It’s not her fault she enjoys it. She can’t help being a bad guy. Besides, what else can she do? Her mother was killed and it’s not like there are any other “soul-eaters” around to show her how to be different. That is, until the three men in suits show up.

They can do what she can do. They’re like her. Meda might finally have a chance to figure out what she is. The problem? They kind of want to kill her. Before they get the chance Meda is rescued by crusaders, members of an elite group dedicated to wiping out Meda’s kind. This is her chance! Play along with the “good guys” and she’ll finally figure out what, exactly, her ‘kind’ is.

Be careful what you wish for. Playing capture the flag with her mortal enemies, babysitting a teenage boy with a hero complex, and trying to keep one step ahead of a too-clever girl are bad enough. But the Hunger is gaining on her.

The more she learns, the worse it gets. And when Meda uncovers a shocking secret about her mother, her past, and her destiny… she may finally give into it.

My favorite quote:

“I’m pretty sure Jo couldn’t talk about the weather without somehow including a threat. Forecast today: cloudy with a chance I’ll kick your ass.

My review:

These books are YA, yes. However, there is absolutely no reason for an adult not to go over the moon for them. What Eliza Crewe pulls off in these books is a stunning feat. Imagine, you’re an author, and you have this protagonist who could very much end up being completely unlikeable and unsympathetic. She’s a halfling of evil, and does terrible things. She’s not a straight-forward, you have to like me because I’m cute, cheerful MC. She’s an enigma with a wicked sense of humor.

That character isn’t going to be easy to make genuinely likable–yet–Ms Crewe pulls it off. She pulls together the strangest filaments of personality from the Meyers-Briggs, and braids them together into a fine knot-work into a deeply textured character. A character you can cheer for.

*A character for whom you’re willing to end a sentence with a preposition, because the alternative sounds too weird in the review.*

Meda is snarky and sassy, humble, and self-deprecating. She doesn’t always react with grace, but who in the Hell does? (pun intended–read the books) Sometimes, when life throws you a curveball, you get hit.

Sometimes you have to take the fall to land where you belong.

That’s exactly what Meda does. And she does it while kicking ALL THE ASS.

The book has great pacing, with very few bits where you’d think “ok and then?” Which is my normal reaction to YA. I didn’t find myself rushing through passages to get to the action, because the building scenes were just as interesting. I also found myself sort of falling in love with the secondary and tertiary characters–which is great. Because, usually, one character will not propel me to read an entire series.

A twisted bit of the story I found myself really enjoying is the anthropomorphizing of the hunger (read:The Hunger) into an entity. Ms Crewe rather brilliantly spirals a natural/supernatural bodily function into a nearly fully-formed character or subset of Meda’s self. It doesn’t sound like it could work, but it does. I think it works even better here, than did “The Nothing” in The Neverending Story.  Both unusual uses of “it” as “whom,” but, in the end, I appreciated “The Hunger” more for its realization.

By the time I finished the first book, I sat back and realized that my damned cheeks hurt. from.smiling. I read for hours, and apparently, smiled for approximately the same length of time. I am no pageant queen to have cheeks and facial muscles that are exercised in this manner as to not cry foul at their mistreatment. I am a writer. brood. I’m really good at scowling. will need botox very soon for that line in the middle of my brows that I get from frowning. Seriously, even while acting, I’m the crass and dodgy bitch in the green room trying to game face the fuck out of my competition.

wanna see my gameface?

IMG_1123

totally sober, people. Also the light is giving me a lady stache. I hope it’s the light. I am Eastern European.

4 stars.

Boom. Mic Drop. I’m out. Read it.

Ok….the FOOD.

So, I really wanted cheese…and broccoli…and tomatoes, after my run. Sure, I could’ve made broccoli and cheese soup and tomato sandwiches, but then, I’d have to, you know, work for my lunch. PSSSHHH, I was not doing that. Plus, I don’t think I had enough heavy cream to make the soup base.

So I did the next best thing. I made stuffed tomatoes. Broccoli and cheese stuffed tomatoes. So good you’ll want to lick my face, stuffed tomatoes. But not the gameface. I can’t laugh while gamefacing.

Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes

Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients (4-6 tomato halves depending on)

  • 2-4 large beefsteak tomatoes, halved and gutted
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated fontina plus 3 tbsp grated fontina for topping
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup chopped, cooked broccoli (great use up for leftover roasted broccoli)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning/herb mix
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 1 tbsp softened butter
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

preheat oven to 400F

slice a sliver off of the bottom of each tomato half so that it sits flat

place halves on cookie sheet

salt and pepper the halves

combine all the ingredients save the topping cheese and mix well

stuff a scoop into each half and top with more cheese

roast until crispy brown on top and JUICY.

consume. now. in your face hole.

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What Should You Read Next?–Get Series(ous)

Ok! Quick running update and then? BOOK POST!
So, yesterday was a quick shake-out run, (five miles) and they felt good. The kink in my ass  didn’t hamper me as much as I thought it would, AND I was able to get a bit of yoga in as well. Brigitte is on her way. (Brigitte being the name of my future yoga booty.) I notice a .05% difference in my ass from before the new year to now. Mostly I notice the kink. It’s quite literally, a pain in my ass.  Tonight is a run and CrossFit, so I foresee it either getting much better, or much worse.

It’s ok, I have wine. (Again, I do CrossFit regularly, but Paleo is for quitters!! YAY LEGUMES AND QUINOA AND SUGAR!!)

So, during the holidays, I blogged an entire post about matching up books as gifts with people in your life. Turns out, that was quite popular. So I am going to introduce a new series here on B2B.

What Do I Read Next? A Series For Every Personality.
what do I read next

 

I love series books, trilogies, books with sequels. Yes, there is something wonderful about a book that manages to wrap everything up in ONE neat little package. However, I love lingering. Ok, not at parties, or in class, or after a run–because I’m antisocial–but in a story? I can–and frequently do–linger in these words for years.  There are series of which I’ve read, that I’ve marinated within for so long, that they’re now irretrievably a part of my being. Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes, The Green Mile, Harry Potter. I’ve read and re-read these books so many times I can quote entire pages.

Lately, I’ve been expanding my list to include new series that I love with the same ferocity. I find that my new personal canon is acting as a wonderful internuncial between my then and my now, and my yet to come. Series like The Elemental Mysteries  and Knitting in the City and, of course, the All Souls SeriesIn fact, I am going to a faculty fancy dress party with my very best lovely Professor. (which was supposed to be weeks ago, but SOMEONE just HAD to win an award!;)) We are cosplaying as Natalie and Baojia!! (as I am a pale white girl, and he is a handsome Chinese man, it just WORKS!–We’ll totally pretend he’s straight that night– That, and we fangirl all the fuck over those books.)

Our other option required approximately 150% more dirt than I’m comfortable wearing.

So this weeks’ book series is one that is about as likely to evanesce into the history of your memories as I am likely to successfully give up sugar or John Boehner is likely to give up spray tans.

This series is for the person who enjoys the madcap tv shows like Chuck or Doctor Who. If you find yourself quoting Orphan Black to your friends, and this image (see below) causes spontaneous orgasm? This series is for you.

What series is it?

 

 

Picture is link.

The Blurb:

When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it. He wasn’t. He now has a passenger in his brain – an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Now split into two opposing factions – the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix – the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes. Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that’s going to end up well…

My favorite quote:

“Besides, criminal masterminds are people too. They need groceries and cable like the rest of us.”

The Lives of Tao series currently offers two books, with a third book due out this spring. Wesley Chu does a fantastic job of weaving a complicated plot with biting sarcasm and hilarious antics. He makes the oft-maligned genre of sci-fi extremely accessible to the average reader. He is a mastermind at wrapping multiple ideas around each other without getting held under by slow pacing or too much extraneous information. It’s as though he has been given magical play doh for all of the characters and plot lines, and he can bend and fold each color over another, without it all turning to a monochromatic and indistinct blob. Instead, he ends up with a kaleidoscope of a narrative, that draws your eye to its center and holds you there, desperate to see the next colorful image rolled over.

Highly recommended.

Now? Donuts.

*queen of the segue right hurrr.

I made apple fritters. Yes, there are gajillions of apple fritter recipes out there, but I like mine the best. Of course. So you should make mine, because I can tell, you only want the best.

This sums up how I feel about my fritters.

Oh the angry emails I’m about to get….Good thing this little lady gives zero fucks about what you think about her favorite mom and her mom’s videos, because, apple fritters.

zero.fucks.given.

Here they are!

Perfect Apple Fritters

Perfect Apple Fritters Perfect Apple Fritters

 

 

Perfect Apple Fritters

perfect apple fritters

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Keywords: fry appetizer bread breakfast dessert

Ingredients (8-12 fritters)

  • Oil for frying (canola, peanut, coconut, lard)
  • 1 REALLY BIG honeycrisp, cubed into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions

in a small saucepan, melt the butter on medium

add in the apples and cinnamon

add in 1/4 cup sugar

cook 5 minutes, set aside

in a big bowl, whisk together dry ingredients

stir sugar, eggs, and milk in slowly

stir in apple mixture

preheat oil in a skillet about 2″ deep to 325F

drop fritters in 2 tbsp drops

cook for 4 minutes a side, or until each side is golden brown

drain each on a paper towel lined plate

sift powdered sugar over the top when they’re cool.

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