Slippery When Immortal.

I woke with a giddy anticipation of today’s post.

It’s release day for this beauty…
Elizabeth Hunter is on my “perma-read” list. Meaning that anything she writes, I’ll read. If she were to suddenly decide to take up writing limericks for condom wrappers sold exclusively at Whole Fooods, I’d quickly find a use for prophylactics. (In spite of my married, barren state!)

trojanrhyme

–Elizabeth Hunter did not write that.  I’m sorry, World.

When I first received an ARC of The Scarlet DeepI was wound tighter than a pair of skinny jeans after a trip to the County Fair. (mmm, deep-fried butter…) I couldn’t wait to tear into it. *metaphorically speaking,* I was on my ipad. Also, I realize that that’s not quite the proper use of the word “metaphorically,” but I am owning it.

I promptly decided a few things: one, I was not cooking on that day. Not once. Spending time smearing the paste of the crushed bodies of  heat-tanned legumes on bacteria-enhanced wheat products was about all I was willing to do. There was much delivery sushi that day. And two, I needed more coffee. Like, lots more.

You get me, Lorelei.

What’s the book about?

On the waves of the North Atlantic, a poison spreads, sapping the life from humans and striking madness into immortals.

Patrick Murphy, the immortal leader of Dublin, has been trying to stem the tide of Elixir washing into his territory, but nothing seems to stop the vampire drug. While others in the immortal world work to cure the creeping insanity that Elixir threatens, Murphy has been invited to London to join a summit of leaders hoping to discover who is shipping the drug. If Murphy and his allies can cut off the supply, they might be able to halt the spread long enough for a treatment to be found for the humans and vampires infected.

Anne O’Dea, Murphy’s former lover, retreated from public life over one hundred years ago to help immortals in need… and to heal her own broken heart. Though powerful connections keep her insulated from the violence of vampire politics, even Anne is starting to feel the effects of Elixir on her isolated world. The human blood supply has been tainted, and with Anne’s unique needs, even those closest to her might be in danger. Not just from infection, but Anne’s escalating bloodlust.

When Anne and Murphy are both called to London, they’re forced to confront a connection as immortal as they are. As they search for a traitor among allies, they must also come to terms with their past. Behind the safe facade of politics, old hungers still burn, even as an ancient power threatens the fate of the Elemental World.

Was it everything I hoped?

And more. There comes a time in most vampire novels when the world building and storytelling are put aside for inane minutiae which typically serves to bulk-up word count and make a book seem more highfalutin than it actually manages. I like to call it the “smells like/tastes like game.” Because, it always seems to be inordinately related to how things smell and taste in vampy books.

Such as:

He smells like a combination of a warmed Werther’s Original straight from my Grampappy’s pocket, and my impending orgasm.

Again, no author wrote this exact description, but damn if there aren’t hundreds upon hundreds of them lurking in books. THIS wouldn’t exist if that wasn’t the case. Yes, EH does pen a bit about smell and taste, because they’re essential sensory notions to everyone, especially vampires. However, the narrative doesn’t ever feel fit to be bogged down by grocery aisles worth of taste sensations.

I’m not certain why this is the first thing that popped out in my brain as important, but it did.

On from that, the characters in this installment are ones we’ve met in previous Elemental World books. Murphy, the vamp many of us took as just a sexy, splenetic mob boss with deep pockets and even deeper bitterness; and Anne, the mild-mannered but firm vampire psychologist who helped Brigid move beyond the crippling emotional problems weighing her down. In The Scarlet Deep we are finally taken behind the curtain on their past, and the motivations behind the coldness we witnessed from them in the other books.

The reader is given intimate knowledge of just how intelligent and manipulative Murphy can be when he invites the leader of Belfast, Anne’s sister, to a gathering of important immortals–somewhat in politesse, somewhat mala fide–knowing she’d send Anne in her stead. He is singularly determined to recapture her heart, and will use all avenues at his disposal. The machinations occurring around this development lead me to believe that Elizabeth Hunter could have a bright future in espionage or preschool instruction. (I’m certain the level of societal manipulation is equivalent.)

The story is one that never lets up. The entirety of the two hundred and something pages are so full of story and webbed interminglings of past and future plot lines that the idea of even placing it down for a moment seems interminably long an absence from such a book. However, it never becomes overwhelming. The reader is never confused as to which storyline is which, and it is never unclear whom is the main focus of this installment. The book IS Murphy and Anne, but without their friends and supporting characters, the picture of them would be much less cemented.

And Murphy and Anne. OH, Patrick Murphy and Anne. The way they love. The simple honesty of affection and the heartbreaking threads of distrust which sews this story along its arc, creates a soul-binding romance in which the reader becomes so involved, they could be swept away utterly. Everyone knows what it’s like to have their trust feel misplaced, and the knowledge of that makes the outcome all the more rewarding for it. It answers the question: “Can one ever truly regain trust when it’s broken?”

In the end, they have to fight for it. Fighting not each other, but themselves, and also they have to fight for each other. All in all, I believe that Elizabeth Hunter’s books will become as immortal as the characters within them.

scarletdeep

Five “fist to the feels” stars.

Someone hold me….

twist my arm.

And yes, I did get this book as a free ARC. BUTTTTT, it should be known I also BOUGHT IT. I really want to picture authors who send out ARCs, and the reviewer really loves the book, to sit back like this…

So, what recipe could go with such a wonderful book? WELLLLLL, NOT the truffles I originally planned, because, humidity. SO, in the book, Anne requests chocolate and wine. I can DO chocolate and wine. It’s also 93467498567 degrees, so I want to do chocolate and wine on ice cream. Therefore, I give you,

Cabernet Hot Fudge Sauce

IMG_3073

Cabernet Hot Fudge sauce because, wine and vampires and The Scarlet Deep by @E__Hunter #books #vegan… Click To Tweet

IMG_3076 IMG_3078

Cabernet Hot Fudge Sauce

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes cooling time

Keywords: dessert vegan

Ingredients (1 1/3 cups)

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup cabernet or other dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp earth balance buttery spread or actual butter

Instructions

stir all ingredients in a saucepan on medium until smooth,

cook five more minutes,

let cool 10 minutes,

pour into pourable jar

let cool a few more minutes

pour all over some ice cream, your wife, a cracker…

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Orange is the New Blackberry Vinaigrette

Over the last few weeks, I’ve paced myself. I’ve been running (watching) a very slow marathon, because I didn’t want to finish. It was very much like delayed sexual gratification, only, you know, solo (which I guess could be done, but WHY?), and without any sort of peculiar (to me) rope-tying incidents.  I found myself parceling out my viewings as I did with “Daredevil” and every TED talk that I may want to absorb. I spread the episodes out like legs on a prison bunk.

I think you know where I’m going here.

AHHHHHHH!!!!! THEY’RE BACK!!!

 

Thirteen episodes of “OMG” no, “really?” and “could that happen?” or “I know Ruby Rose must be the BEST way to discuss sexual identity and gender binaries at the moment, but really, I just want to know who does her brows and does she polish her skin with diamond dust, because, REALLY!”

Sure, watching 13 episodes over a couple of weeks may seem an otiose activity to many, (not people who read B2B, obvie. Because, we have, like, goals and shit. Most which involve combining books and Netflix reading/watching on the elliptical. You multi-tasking scamps, you!) but, to those who do….

I mostly wanted a reason to use that image. Also, my son, when at his teeny-tiny Buddhist class/Tai Chi class he heard the Dalai Lama speak, he thought it was Yoda. Unrelated, but adorable.

“Orange is the New Black” just keeps getting better every season. Part of me gets claustrophobic just watching it, but a part of me can’t help but wonder what I’d do in Piper’s position. (not THAT position, you dirty-minded scamps. I think we can all agree I’d be AWESOME at THAT position, regardless of my sexual orientation. ;))

I’m sure, if I found myself in prison, I’d be the worst inmate ever. I wouldn’t stop crying because, obvie, I WAS FRAMED!! I AM INNOCENT!! I’d hate not having my regular routine, and the lack of family–or dudes–would prove overwhelming.

One may think I’m arbitrarily hyper-sexualizing this show. I’m not. The physical connections in “Orange is the New Black” become essential to each of the characters. They are the corollary of the isolation and denial. The fascinating system of hierarchies, favors, and a-typical gender roles in the show are balanced with humor, humanity, and heart. The show is ever-interesting, and ever fresh.

What recipe could I possibly pair with it? I’m obviously NOT making prison food. But, I can play-on words like whoa.

Orange is the New Blackberry vinaigrette.

It’s tangy, it’s seasonal, it’s yum.

orange is the new blackberry vinaigrette

Orange is the New Blackberry Vinaigrette. Delicious, seasonal, and healthy. #StreamTeam @Netflix… Click To Tweet orange is the new blackberry vinaigrette orange is the new blackberry vinaigrette orange is the new blackberry vinaigrette

 

 

Orange is the New Blackberry Vinaigrette

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Keywords: appetizer condiment

Ingredients (one jar.)

  • 1/3 cup blackberries
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise (I use Hampton Creek Just Mayo)
  • 1/2 cup evoo
  • 1/4 cup loose basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 tbsp champagne vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey

Instructions

combine all ingredients and puree in a food processor.

store in an airtight jar.

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Though Netflix sponsored these posts, all opinions and recipes are my own.
Though Netflix sponsored these posts, all opinions and recipes are my own.

Auralgasms #6

Auralgasms.

 

This week’s auralgasm, I’m featuring a narrator who is so ridiculously prolific (almost 600 listings on Audible) I had a difficult time deciding how and when to feature him.

Quick anecdote about the narrator I’m featuring before I dive into my review of his reading, ok? Ok. He’s British–very proper BBC Britty, and so is one of my daughter’s favorite people in the entire world, her Guncle Will. Will is also very proper BBC Britty. (Not always, he’s from the midlands–and used to sound as such. Oxford, Cambridge, and Princeton snipped the country right the fuck out of his accent.)

Anyway–oddly enough, their actual speaking voices are eerily similar. So similar, in fact, that one evening, when I was cleaning the kitchen, and listening to Bleak House on my small speaker on the counter, my daughter popped-up out of bed at eleven at night expecting to see her Guncle Will bringing her a bubble tea and storytime–as is their custom. Now, she’s listening to the young reader’s version of Gulliver’s Travels on audio, and she insists it’s her Guncle Will and not…

Simon Vance

Simon Vance is one of those narrators (along with, perhaps, Dina Pearlman, Davina Porter, and John Lee) whose voice is heard so often, in so many instances, that one sort of accepts it as a piece of the collective consciousness of readers. However, Simon Vance is not simply mellifluous notes imposed on words to carry a tale–no–he is the sort of engaging chameleon who interferes with one’s daily life, because, the soul he gives his characters cleaves to one’s imagination like taffy on an apple.

Honestly, there isn’t a genre he hasn’t narrated. However, the books wherein I feel his artistry is most evident? The classics. I have converted more than one reader who has eschewed the great works of literati past in favor of the sole concentration of contemporary authors, by luring them with the promise of Simon Vance’s quietly explosive performances of Victorian or Edwardian literature.

Me:”You don’t like (insert name of any one of a gajillion books here)? That’s probably because you couldn’t scrape through the text. Here–listen to this.”

Them:”Ok, it turns out I do like (Dickens, Wilde, Wodehouse…).”

{insert a long conversation about whichever.}

Simon Vance brings the past to life in a way that breeds curiosity into whether or not the man is actually a time traveling actor, bridging worlds between the late 1800s in England, and my kitchen, at eleven at night, whilst I’m completing my day’s tidying up.

I think this is his car.

In fact, I’m so very confident in the universal appeal of Simon Vance’s narration, I’m introducing a new series on B2B which his narrating could be a huge factor in.

adoring assigned reading

 

The new series will feature books which may or may not have been assigned to us in High School or college, and which we inevitably cheated ourselves by utilizing Cliff’s notes or the like, and avoided reading them. I will pair each chosen book with a contemporary novel with similar themes or a contemporary author who is greatly inspired by the classical novel/author.

How does Simon Vance play (pun intended) into this? Many–and I mean many of the classics I’ll be exploring have been put to digital by Simon Vance, and even better, many are available in the extremely affordable whispersync pricing through Audible and Amazon.

The classic I’ll be writing about is The Picture of Dorian Gray  by Oscar Wilde, and the pair is Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman.

Now for the recipe.

Ok, I’ll admit, I haven’t a bloody clue what foods Simon Vance may favor. Yes, I have asked narrators in the past for their favorites, but for this Auralgasms post I decided to go with the theme of British literature as opposed to narrating favorite. Why? Ok, the honest answer is that I’m obsessed with this current recipe, and I’m just going to (very possibly wrongly) assume that like all British people (because I’m American and I generalize the fuck out of people from other countries) Simon Vance likes curry. (Honestly–who doesn’t? Ok, I can think of several people, but I’m purposefully ignoring them.)

Curry is superduperpopular in the UK. India, a former piece of the British Empire, salted the country with its culinary influence and left a lasting impression. It’s available pretty much everywhere, in pretty much every incarnation.

here it is…

Creamy Coconut-Curry Almond Butter

It’s sweet, it’s savory, it’s so godsdamned good with fig and date jam it’ll make you want to sexytime with a British colonist–bikram style.

creamy coconut-curry almond butter creamy coconut-curry almond butter

Great #Auralgasms and Creamy Coconut Curry Almond Butter #audiobook #vegan #FitFluential Click To Tweet

creamy coconut-curry almond butter creamy coconut-curry almond butter

 

Creamy Coconut-Curry Almond Butter

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Keywords: blender appetizer breakfast condiment sandwich side snack paleo vegan vegetarian

Ingredients (1 jar)

  • 2 cups roasted unsalted almonds (or really, any nuts)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, warmed to liquid form
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

blend ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

devour with your face hole.

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Gold Medal in the Assbasket Olympics.

Vegan UPDATE! 40 days as a vegan. 55 days as a vegetarian (again.) Approximately 38 days of completely self-righteous annoyingness seeping into my personality. It’s like I’ve been waiting my whole life to be a vegan! In a conversation with my very best OLDER sister, (because she looks younger than I do, therefore, I must … Read more…

Get Series(ous). #11

I will admit, my adoration of the trilogy featured in today’s Get Series(ous). is nearing on pathological. I have waxed on about it in post after post. There isn’t much to be said about it that I haven’t said already. I’ve recommended it on wine blogs and told you to buy it for loved ones.

So, who should read this series?

This series is perfect for that strangely cerebral friend who is always talking about what people did five hundred years ago. Or, perhaps, you have a friend who happens to hold a grad degree or two, but has stacks and stacks of romance novels in their closet.

QUIT JUDGING ME!! PROFESSORS NEED LOVE, TOO.

Where did THAT come from?! Sheesh!

This reader’s tastes, could run toward the more literary or historical, but they’re burned out on the genre. They need something new, but they also need it to be close enough to lit fic as to keep them comfortable.

This reader is completely ok with allowing their space to become a tatterdemalion hovel because they’ve just been impaled with the cynosure of magic that is this series. Dusting and tidying up seems a silly sport when major world dealings are afoot.

Put simply, this series is for a reader who reads. 

So, what’s the series?

 

The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.

The Blurb:

The All Souls Trilogy follows the story of Diana Bishop, a historian and reluctant witch, as she solves the mystery of Ashmole 782, falls in love with a mysterious vampire named Matthew Clairmont, and learns how powerful it can be to accept who you are.

*It is so much more.

Why I love it:

So many reasons–reasons I have stated in many previous posts. The books are completely rich and luxe prose-filled tapestries woven of intricate plot lines, historical intrigue, and chest-blooming romance. The magic and otherness of the tomes is the over-the-top agglutinant which binds the warp and weft ad infinitum.

The characters are humble or meek or narcissistic or insane, and the reader cares what happens to them.

HOLD ON

This is a book wherein one finds portals to other places in the mind, places yet unexplored. Harkness, Gaiman, Pratchett, Moore, Hunter–authors in this class seem to have some sort of space machine into a chronosynclastic infundibulum of the imagination. Deborah Harkness’s machine, just so happens to pop-up in Elizabethan England on the odd time out.

If one is absolutely looking to escape from reality, there is nary a better place to shuffle off to than the world created by Deborah Harkness inside the pages of The All Souls Trilogy.

The recipe inspired by the series.

Ok, so in this series, they eat a lot of nuts and raw meat. They also eat meat pies and other things I don’t want to put in my mouth. However, the one thing they imbibe IN ABUNDANCE is?…..

wine.

And because I followed Deborah Harkness’s wine blog (bring it baaaaaaackkk, please!) long before I read her books, I decided to play on that.

What did I come up with?

Rasberries and Champagne Glazed Donut (although, beignet avec une framboise et champagne glaçure sounds fancier.)

raspberry and champagne glazed donuts raspberry and champagne glazed donuts raspberry and champagne glazed donuts raspberry and champagne glazed donuts

 

Raspberry and Champagne Glazed Donuts

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 30 minutes plus 2 hours rise t

Keywords: fry breakfast bread side snack dessert vegan

Ingredients (1 dozen donuts)

  • 1 batch of prepared sweet dough, I use this recipe
  • 1/2 pint of red raspberries
  • 1 cup dry sparkling wine
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • insides of one vanilla bean
  • oil for frying. I use a canola/coconut blend.

Instructions

prepare the dough as instructed for bread, while it’s rising

combine raspberries and champagne in a saucepan

bring to a slow boil on medium and mash berries with the back of the spoon

cook on low and reduce by more than half

remove from heat and add vanilla bean

set aside for 20 minutes

strain over a bowl for 1 hour

while this is straining, roll out dough on floured surface and cut out donuts in your preferred shape

heat oil to 325F

drop each donut in and fry 2 minutes/side or until it’s puffy and golden

set aside on a paper towel lined plate or on a cookie cooling rack to cool COMPLETELY

once the berry mixture is strained and cool, whisk in the powdered sugar

dunk each donut

devour.

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