True Life: My Bookshelves Are a Shitshow.

(Two things before we get into the meat of the post, 1: all links are affiliate links when they link to Amazon. 2: The Vegan MaPo Tofu at the end is the yummiest ever, and that’s not hyperbole.) “Give me a room whose every nook is dedicated to a book.” ― Robert Southey Ok, I … Read more…

Life Changing Books on Reader/Eater

Lady in Red.

(read on for foolproof falafel and white sauce!) The Reading: I fully admit that I belong to a fandom or two. I have read and could re-read everything Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Hunter, Octavia Butler, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Daphne duMaurier…and on and on–have written. I never tire … Read more…

Knocked Up and Sideways: Ridiculous Tropes in Romance.

I read a LOT of romance novels. Between blogging about them, sharing in online communities that revolve around them, and desiring a break from the general decrepitude of the world around us, I sort of swim amongst them daily, letting their completely improbable plots wash away the stain of political rhetoric and real-life tediums that typically blanket my skin in a tight, itchy wool. They’re an escape. They’re candy and Ativan. They’re a warm bagel with dripping butter.

And sometimes, they’re a confetti cream cheese filled tie-dye bagel that looks like a good idea at the time, but something you immediately regret after the first bite.

Lately, there has been a rash of whatthefuck? romance sub-genres to pop-up and confuse the ever-loving fuck out of readers, and inexplicably titillate others.

Some of them seem tame-ish. Some of them? Well, some of them make my eyes cry tears of no.

Knocked Up and Sideways

1st trope:

“I’m in love with a ghost!!”

Spoiler! The answer is NO! *at least in this movie.

This is a tame trope. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy dies tragically. Girl gets to bone ghost…or something similar. The ending…there’s the mess. It’s not like a vamp novel where THEY ARE QUITE LITERALLY UNDEAD. Sure, it’s kinda messy with all the biting and the sunburns, but it’s not like they’re DEAD dead. They’re lowercase dead. Diet dead, if you will. But screwing a specter for all of forever? tricky. Very tricky. TRICKY OR TREATY, AMIRITE? wait. treaty sounds very political. Meh. I’m going with it.

I’ve liked some of these. They really require the author to think outside the box. HP Mallory, JR Ward, and Kresley Cole have all done it with a fair amount of success. It can be really interesting or fun depending on how it’s written. But sometimes? It’s a real head-scratcher.

Next trope:

This one is also pretty tame as far as “offensive or weird” goes, but it’s irritating all the same.

These books are ALL ABOUT GETTING PREGNANT OR GETTING SOMEONE PREGNANT JUST AFTER MEETING THEM ON-PURPOSE. Gah, I am shouting a LOT. I don’t get it. It’s all “I am gonna put my baby in her.” Or, “I’m going to totally fuck him while I’m fertile even though I just met him 49 seconds ago. I’m just a GREAT judge of biker character.” OR, “I’m going to war, I’m going to coat her womb with my baby batter.”–that one is an actual line I pulled from a book. The amount of why, or the amount of “HEARD OF PLAN B, LADIES??!!” Is strong. Plan B. It’s a thing. Walgreens sells it w/o a prescription. Planned Parenthood has it. Get it. Use it. Jumping up and down and a thorough cleaning won’t cut it. PLAN.FUCKING.B.

NEXT!!

Banging things that are never fully human. Weres and Vamps, fae and whatnot aside. They might have strange features or whatnot, but they’re HUMANOID. Not weird DNA experiments gone wrong, or you know, GIANT TERRESTRIAL OR EQUINE EXINCT CREATURES, or part-bull all the time. They’re not cavemen or sasquatch or Donald Trump. AND ALL OF THOSE THINGS HAVE BEEN IN A ROMANCE NOVEL. *ok, maybe not Trump, because even head in the clouds/gutter romance novelists know when they’re pushing too far.

If it’s on American Horror Story, it SHOULD NOT BE IN A ROMANCE NOVEL.

YET, IT IS.

I feel like being mounted by a minotaur means that your head is on his wall.

That doesn’t even look like a real T-Rex.

That doesn’t even look like a real unicorn.

Unicorns only ride OTHER UNICORNS. And, judging by this book cover, they ride on the horn. *just for my PSM.

I don’t understand this subgenre at all. I will admit to reading and LIKING Laurann Dohner’s New Species series. I only stopped buying them because I refuse to give one more dollar to Ellora’s Cave publishing company. But those LIs, even though they have somewhat different facial features, they.are.people. PEOPLE.

THE NEXT TROPE IS JUST AS BAD.

Let’s talk about MPREG, shall we? What is MPREG, you ask? Oh, that would be MALE PREGNANCY. And not trans-man pregnancy. A genetically male dude with a dick getting knocked up by another genetically male dude with a dick.

They give birth, and it’s as horrifying as you think. They BREASTFEED. THIS ALL HAPPENS OMYGAH IS THIS REAL LIFE PEOPLE WRITING THIS SHIT?! This trope bothers me for a few reasons, 1.) It’s primarily written by and for women, yet comes across very anti-woman. Like Michelle Malkin level women hating women. 2.) HOW DO YOU TELL?! If you don’t get a period, what goes awry? This part is never explained particularly well. 3.)This is a romance, fine. Do an M/M, M/F, MMF, MMM, FFF, TFM, basically anything you want. I’ll read and probably enjoy it. But here’s the thing, for all of history women have had essentially one card they can play, and this strips that of any importance whatsoever. It makes women meaningless. Unimportant. It makes us exactly what men have been trying to paint us as for centuries. FUCK THAT. 3.) It trivializes and makes so twee and trite what a FUCKING GATDAM AMAZING MIRACLE PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH AND FEEDING A HUMAN FROM YOUR BODY is. And there is SCORES of this shit. Scores. I read one in anticipation of this post, and I almost threw my ipad. GAH! But I made you a graphic. Just for you. Yes, you, you scamp.

tommyHyo24SURE

Now Vampy McPreggleston exists in the world. You may thank me later. I know you’re blown away with my photoshop skills.

 The next sub-genre is so fucking annoying I have a difficult time expressing my feelings about how annoying they are because I start to sound like a republican candidate for president. I just feel a lot about them, ok?

This is a sub-genre of a sub-genre. I will call it “I was hired to kill her, but I decided to fuck her instead, but I still plan on killing her, and I think I’m in love with her! OH THE RESPONSIBILITY!” That is a very bad name for a genre. It’s mostly to do with a hitman or a navy seal or a vampire hunter or something. Either way, there’s suspense, there’s sex, and someone is definitely screwing and falling for someone they are definitely still supposed to kill or incarcerate forever. I’ll admit, I’ve liked a few of these as well. Mostly the supernatural ones. “I’m a demon, she’s an angel” or “I’m a vampire, and she’s Buffy..” Those sorts. But the “I’m a Navy Seal and he’s a Caribbean drug lord with a really decent heart?” Not into it. nope. not buying it.

The next one is way out of left field, but makes me smile.

Of course, it’s Amish erotica. Because I’m hot for buttons?

Ok, more likely I am all for subverting oppressively patriarchal and insular religious sects with lax forms of punishment issued internally within the community.

They can raise a barn, and they can also pitch a tent in man’s trousers. HEY-O!

OK! I’m over 10000000 words. (or just 1k, but, close enough.) ON TO!!!!

A pregnant Tom Hiddleston? WHAT!? A Dinosaur went where? Too many tamarind grapefruit fizzes. Click To Tweet

Recipe, Please! You need booze after reading this post.

The Tamarind Grapefruit Fizz.

tamarind grapefruit fizz tamarind grapefruit fizz tamarind grapefruit fizz

Tamarind Grapefruit Fizz

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Keywords: beverage

Ingredients (2 cocktails)

  • 4 oz good tequila
  • 1 oz citron liqueur (grand marnier or the like)
  • 3 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
  • 3 oz tamarind soda (Jarritos)
  • lemon twist
  • candied ginger sprinkle (really finely chopped candied ginger)

Instructions

shake all of the ingredients save the soda with ice

strain over 2 rocks glasses filled with ice

top with soda, ginger, and a lime or lemon wheel/wedge.

DRINK RESPONSIBLY.

(do it at home so no one notices when you take your bra off at the table.)

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Penny for Your Plots

Let me just apologize. This post should’ve been released last week, but my blog was down for the count with an attack on my server.

Have you ever felt like this after an experience?

Have you ever felt as though what you were expecting was so far from what you received that you’re now unclear as to what color the sky is, what day it is, possibly your age, gender, and occupation?

In a word? Gobsmacked.

That’s what Happily Ever Ninja by Penny Reid did to me. Sure, I knew it would be different. It’s a romance novel wherein the MCs are already married. That right there shakes things up a bit.

I didn’t expect the Vitamix/San Andreas Fault/Jurassic Park promo of plotlines.

Because moms are superheroes, duh.

The blurb:

There are three things you need to know about Fiona Archer… I would tell you what they are, but then I’d have to kill you.

But I can tell you that Fiona’s husband—the always irrepressible and often cantankerous Greg Archer—is desperately in love with his wife. He aches for her when they are apart, and is insatiable when they are together. Yet as the years pass, Greg has begun to suspect that Fiona is a ninja. A ninja mom. A ninja wife. A ninja friend. After fourteen years of marriage, Greg is trying not to panic. Because Fiona’s talent for blending in is starting to resemble fading away.

However, when unexpected events mean Fiona must take center stage to keep her family safe, her response stuns everyone—Greg most of all. It seems like Greg’s wish has come true.

Except… not.

When all is said and done, can Greg handle this new version of his wife? Will his irrepressible cantankerousness push her away? Or can the couple find a way forward without either being forced to step back into the shadows?

What I thought:

This book is titled Happily Ever Ninja for a reason. It’s fucking sneaky, and I can’t get over how much I loved it.

It’s a romance that analyzes the ever after. What happens when the couple is established, and the day to day isn’t about wooing and winning, but about wooing and keeping? Should it still be about wooing? Is the woo even relevant? Can I use the verb woo one more time just to make it extra awkward for all reading this post? woo.

I read it in a sitting. One. I sat down, opened it, and didn’t do anything but refill my tea, get some snappea crisps, and let the tea continue its life cycle in and out of my body, and then finished the book. I closed it and felt alive. I felt vindicated. I wanted to tell everyone about this book. Married, unmarried, single, straight, gay, bi, a, demi, narcisexual. Everyone.

Happily Ever Ninja embraces the quotidian modalities of the modern family with such aplomb that it borders on the poetic. Greg and Fiona have been the face of marriage for the Knitting in the City series since book one, and when we finally get to see behind the bedroom doors, we’re surprised and intrigued. The pair have an amazing chemistry and dynamic, but they also have the same issues every married couple has. There’s a harmony in the discord that I’ve never previously encountered in my reading. Their roles have been so well-defined throughout their relationship, that when problems surface, they’re so entrenched in the capillaries of their marriage, that it’s difficult for Greg and Fiona to see that it’s slowly cutting off circulation to the limbs.

It also makes the decision to rectify the issues feel as much like a release of pressure and new life given to things past, that it makes the relief as fluid as the formation.

It’s truly a satisfying plot.

Happily Ever Ninja

But, it’s also funny as hell.

Greg and Fiona were funny characters before this installment, (knitting needle, anyone?) but in this book, their dry wit is given full operation in this book. A few of the phrases have made it into my daily conversation, but my favorite is “that sounds like something Hitler would say.” Because it works for so much. Especially at random places, like the ice cream shop or on social media. “Oh, I never get hot fudge”–“That sounds like something Hitler would say.” Or “I went to a casserole party and I had salad.”–“That sounds like something Hitler would say.” SEE? IT WORKS. I’m just waiting for someone to tell me they prefer 4 to 6 nipple clamps at a time, or something. Perfection. Or “I prefer to dress like a baby and be spoonfed canned peaches.” Unfortunately, most baby fetishists are underground about their proclivities, and I don’t think that will come up in conversation without alcohol or LSD–possibly wisdom teeth surgery.

Five huge stars. Not for Hitler.

Amazon • Barnes and Noble • Kobo

Review of Ninja Ever After by @ReidRomance and #recipe for Ginger-Matcha Olive Oil Muffins Click To Tweet

The recipe inspired by the book:

In the novel, one of the frustrating things many women deal with, Fiona deals with: messy husband antics. In one case, it’s muffins. Trust me, read it.  Also, Greg works on oil rigs. And ninjas are traditionally Japanese.

So?

Ginger-Match Olive Oil Muffins

delicious and easy Ginger-Matcha olive oil muffins

Ginger-Matcha Olive Oil Muffins

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: bake appetizer bread breakfast snack dessert

Ingredients (20 muffins)

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 eggs or 6 tbsp aquafabas (beat aquafabas to medium peaks)
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup boiling water with 1 tbsp matcha powder whisked in, or 2 matcha teabags brewed into it.
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, measured and then chopped finely
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 20 muffin liners

optional

  • powdered sugar

Instructions

preheat oven to 350F

fill a muffin tin with liners

beat together syrup, sugar, and oil until frothy

add in eggs

slowly pour in tea

sift in flour and stir slowly

stir in salt, baking soda, and baking powder

fold in ginger.

pour evenly into twenty muffins, about 2/3 full

bake 20 minutes or until puffed and a skewer inserted in the center comes out cleanly.

let cool completely

dust with powdered sugar

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2015’s Best Speculative Fiction

To read this blog is to know I ADORE SPECULATIVE FICTION. The mythology, the metaphor, the mayhem. I love it in ALL forms. Books, movies, theatre, tv. If there’s a werewolf or warlock I’m all over it. Give me your dead guys rising, your evil queens, your sexy alpha males with hearts of fucking gold, … Read more…