What I’m Reading ON THIS DAY!!

Ok, so it’s been requested, and it’s a really easy thing to post.

I have ADHD, this is surprising to no one. This also means that I can have from 3-10 books that I’m reading at any given time. I’m completely poly with my books. I spread the love.

What I’m reading and WHERE!

Hardcover:
nothing at this minute. I just finished Barefoot to Avalon last night. So good.

Kindle Unlimited: Fairchild by Jaima Fixsen

Scribd:
Madam Secretary by Madeline Albright–on audio.
Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook–audio
Fermentation for Beginners
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut–audio

Kindle (purchased):
Flirting With Felicity by Gerri Russel–slogging through it.
Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Audible:
The Veil by Chloe Neill

iBooks: nada.
Wattpad: nada.

Yes, I’m working my way through eight books right now, and tonight, I’ll probably add a physical book to the mix. There’s nothing quite like words on pages while propped up in bed, after the children have gone to bed.

Also, I am ALWAYS reading a classic or two at any given time, because it gives me a mental break from modern slang and reminds me why books become canonical works. To me, Vonnegut is a huge part of the modern canon, and I’m rarely far from something he’s written. I mean, my dog’s name is Montana Wildhack, for fuckssake.

Montana WildhackMontana Wildhack would like for you to gaze upon her teef. Her teef are mighty and fun.

 

Magic Mushrooms.

Have you ever wanted to throw something out the window just to watch the whole thing shatter and die?

That’s how I feel about Clash of Clans right now. I want to go all Office Space on the ipad, and dance around it as I set fire to it, sing chants–possibly in costume–and cackle loudly.

kill it with fire.

Ok, so that was apropos of NOTHING, but I needed to get that off my chest. The Captain keeps hijacking my apple tv to play it on the “big screen,” and I’m about to pelt him with bananas or applesauce, or something.

moving on….

Two weeks ago, I teased The Brush of Black Wings by one of my favorite authors, Grace Draven, while reviewing its predecessor Master of Crows. We laughed, we drank, it was better than the last day of school and the first day of school all rolled into one, right? Of course right.

Well, after waiting FOREVER for one of my favorite ingredients to come in at the grocers, I can finally review the fuck out of it.

First, let me say this: Grace Draven writes fantasy romance with such skill and confidence, that I am consistently marveled by the depth of her imagination, and the quality of her prose. At times it feels as though Grace Draven is channeling her writing through some long-forgotten Chaucerian or Marie de France tale, given voice through distinctly modern language. It’s shocking in its complexity and addictive qualities.

The Brush of Black Wings is no different. Decidedly shorter, and more fantasy than romance, it feels like a departure from her previous books, while remaining utterly engaged in her genre. There is quite a bit of action, with less action than Master of Crows–but it suffers not at all for the lack of it. In this installment, Silhara of Neith and Martise (now also of Neith) are married and living at the ruined keep. He’s still sexy, she still drives him into the fits with her blunt sexiness.

The Brush of Black Wings

They are living their lives as simply as The Master of Crows and his wife can possibly live, until their servant-friend, Gurn decides he wants fancy mushrooms.

Martise the ever awesome, goes to collect the mushrooms like some damned truffle sniffing pig. It’s cold, her fingers are freezing, and then SHE FALLS INTO ANOTHER DIMENSION.

All is not lost, but man alive are there some tough scrapes for her in this gray place! Silhara is properly terrified and rage-beast as fuck about this predicament, and does his magey-magic to go forth and retrieve his wife! (Go back and retrieve? Sideways? It’s a place out of time, so he basically needs a magical cross between the Wonkavator and the standing stones of Outlander.)

Silhara: “Charlie, I feel you. I just do.”

The beauty of the relationship between Silhara and Martise is that Grace Draven uses their magic as a metaphor for a strong marriage. It’s not one person doing all the heavy lifting and sacrifice. Playing up one another’s strengths, and sharing sacrifice, is the only way to create a lasting union. The communication between the magic of the pair is open and fulfilling–just as it (communication) is in ANY good marriage.

The book concludes with some foreshadowing to the next installment which I found delightfully intriguing, and the epilogue gave me the brain tingles. Not like syphilis, that would be bad brain tingling.

The Brush of Black Wings by Grace DravenTo me, this novella felt like a delicious appetizer which served to whet my appetite for the main course in a most delectable way. Like French Onion soup before a plate full of mashed potatoes. (now I want both.) I plan on re-reading this several times before the next book is released.

Five magical mushrooms.

mushroom

 Of COURSE I had to do a mushroom recipe. This one is delicious and satisfying, and LOOKS really difficult and impressive. It’s easy peasy. I swear.

Mushroom Miso Soba Noodles

It’s not a soup, but it’s reminiscent of the miso soup or miso ramen you get at Japanese restaurants. It’s the perfect summer dish because it can be served hot or cold, and you DO NOT HAVE TO TURN ON THE OVEN. Also, it calls for dried shiitake mushrooms. I prefer bulk, flat packed, dried shrooms, but really, ANY dried mushrooms will work. Also, I specify Wakame flakes, but Korean dried seaweed flakes will also work. The one thing I’m REALLY going to stress to you is to use UNSALTED stock. Miso, soy sauce, wakame, and even tofu can be heavily salted, and you don’t want to burn your tongue on the salinity of the dish.

Ready? Ready.

mushroom miso soba noodles mushroom miso soba noodles

 REVIEW: The Brush of Black Wings by @GraceDraven and RECIPE: Mushroom Miso Soba Noodles #review… Click To Tweet mushroom miso soba noodles

Mushroom Miso Soba Noodles

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Keywords: stir-fry entree side snack vegan vegetarian

Ingredients (4-6 servings)

    for the sauce

    • 2 cups UNSALTED stock. (I used veg, you could use chicken or veg)
    • 3 oz dried shiitake mushrooms
    • 2 tbsp WHITE miso
    • 2 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp Mirin
    • 1/4 cup wakame flakes
    • 1 tbsp sesame oil
    • 1 tsp rayu or sriracha or ONE thai chili, stemmed, ribbed, and seeded.
    • 12 oz fresh soba noodles

    for the noodles

    • 12 oz FRESH or frozen and thawed soba noodles. (buckwheat or white–matters not.)
    • 1, 12 oz block of extra-firm tofu, cubed into 1″ cubes or 12 oz stemmed and de-veined shrimp (or combo)
    • 2 big red bell peppers, sliced into ribbons
    • 6-8 oz halved and cleaned baby bok choy or Shanghai choy, lightly steamed. (2-4 minutes) barring that–broccoli or Napa
    • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
    • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
    • 2 tbsp neutral oil
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
    • 1 tsp Mirin
    • 1 tsp soy sauce
    • 1/2 cup vegetable stock

    Garnish

    • chopped cilantro
    • chopped scallion
    • additional wakame flakes
    • hot sauce
    • soft-boiled egg (optional.)

    Instructions

    the base sauce

    In a saucepan, combine the sesame oil, mirin, miso, sriracha, and stock and bring it to a simmer, stirring slowly

    add wakame and mushrooms, turn to low, let simmer 30 minutes

    pull out mushrooms and slice.

    the noodles

    in a WOK or really big fecking skillet, heat the oils until rippling

    add ginger and garlic

    stir in bell pepper and tofu/shrimp–toss and cook until either warmed or cooked through

    add in noodles, stock, Mirin, and soy sauce and toss

    add in remaining ingredients, toss

    add mushrooms back to stock and pour over noodle mix.

    again, toss.

    cook until tender

    plate.

    If serving cold, you may wish to add a bit of soy sauce or Yuzu to the noodles as you eat them,

    garnish and eat

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    Re-Reading the Classics.

    Today, I’m kicking it old school. I know that I said for the first edition of..

    adoring assigned reading

    that I would be doing The Picture of Dorian Gray, however, the recipe I want to do for that book takes HOURS in the oven, and since it’s hotter than the proverbial mother fucker outside, that’s a big NO.

    (aside: my use of “the proverbial” sort of bugs me. I think it’s overused. However, we do have a sort of proverbial mother fucker in Oedipus, that scallywag, so it’s ok. Also, probably a Lannister has had improper relations with their primary life-giver at some point…)

    ANYWHOOOO, I ended up making waffles. Those were first invented in 1842/43 in Belgium, and spread across Europe like wildfire. So I went with that time. (Yes, TPoDG would also be that time–semantics–hush.)

    I want to introduce you to a lovely, gripping, SHORT book you’ve probably never heard of or read. It’s FREEEEEE on Kindle and Smash and iBooks and Scribd….etc etc etc. Your library probably doesn’t have it.

     

    It’s so under-appreciated that no one has ever given it a groovy cover!

    The Haunted Chamber

    There is a reason I’m not a graphic designer, people.

    Anywhoooooo, I’m TERRIBLE AWFUL HORRIBLE at writing book summaries. But, since the author was unaware that Goodreads and blurbs would be a thing, and there isn’t a fucking blurb to be had, I’ll try it. Bear with me.

    Picture it: England, sometime in the 1870s ish. There is this Baronet, Adrian Dynecourt, and he returns home after a long journey abroad. He immediately begins to entertain guests, as you do, and welcomes first his very-favorite heiress, Miss Florence Delmaine. Unfortunately, she is chaperoned by her widow cousin Dora the backstabbing turtlelover. Even more unfortunately, Sir Adrian’s cousin, Arthur the conniving assbasket also shows up. Thankfully, Adrian is a fellow who is stout of character and can put up with many shitshows all at once.

    It is clear to every guest at Adrian’s months-long houseparty raver, that he’s way into Flo.

    Dora the explora-ho thinks this is a bad match. Flo could make it rain for centuries and lasso herself a duke, and here she is, interested in a mere Baronet, who has but decades worth of stripper-monies in his coffers. Dora is pretty sure Adrian would be far better suited to, say, a widow of reasonable fortune with an ass to grab.

    Well, wouldn’t you just know it? Arthur the alphadick, having little ability to even make a mist at a scantily-clad lady or gent, is desirous of an opportunity to to increase his worth and elevate his station. He’s a smooth talker, and convinces Dora the horror to help him split Adrian and Florence up, while leading Florence right into Artie the asscandle’s arms.

    But this isn’t as easy as say, fleecing the aristocracy, or convincing scared, racist old, white people that Fox News is actually news, because Adrian and Florence remain pulled to one another…

    The Haunted Chamber

    That doesn’t stop Arthur the Awful and Dora the Double Agent from trying….Will karma kick them in the stones?

    Probably.

    READ IT. MEOW.

    Imagine if Jane Austen had a decidedly darker personality–or a bitchy twin. That, my lovelies, is Margaret Wolfe Hungerford. Unappreciated, and mostly forgotten, she’s worth a read.

    Also, I DEMAND DAVINA PORTER NARRATE THIS AT ONCE. (pretty sure she answers to no woman.)

    So, what book could I possibly have chosen as this great tome’s contemporary companion? Hmmmm????

    Ze blurb:

    She thought the best love affairs only happened in books…

    Traumatized by the deaths of her parents three years ago, Natalie Hewitt lives an introverted life, taking college classes during the day and working as a barista in a coffee shop at night. A passionate reader, she uses the writing of the world-famous and reclusive novelist Rafael Melendez Mendón to assuage her grief. His words are her refuge, his characters better company than anyone she could meet in real life… until Julian Kovač walks into the café one summer evening. He is a handsome, quiet young man and Natalie feels an instant connection.

    But Julian has a secret that is both the most wonderful revelation Natalie could possibly imagine…and the very thing that could tear them apart.

    My argument for reading after Maggie’s book. (I think Ms Hungerford and I would’ve just gotten on like gangbusters, so I’ll call her Maggie. Mags, if we’re drinking.)

    Orphans with income! Intrigue! Smart ladies and gents and the people who want them TO NOT KNOCK BOOTS, EVER.

    Emma’s writing is fun and concise, and she’s not given to over-long descriptions, or crowding the main characters’s lives with nonsense. Her sense of timing in this book is impeccable, with just enough romance and suspense to keep you extremely interested without developing an ulcer.

    It has the same sort of “we REALLY need to be honest with one another in order for the shit not to hit the fan” feeling of The Haunted Chamber, and it works really well.

    The recipe?

    Vegan Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Waffles

    To de-vegan, use regular buttermilk, eggs instead of flax eggs, and melted butter in place of coconut oil.

    vegan buttermilk chocolate chip waffles

    Great classic books and its contemporary companion, also? WAFFLES. #vegan #books Click To Tweet

    vegan buttermilk chocolate chip waffles

    Vegan Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Waffles

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 30 minutes (5 min/waffle)

    Keywords: bake vegan

    Ingredients

    • 1.5 cups AP flour
    • .5 cup rolled oats
    • 1 cup vanilla soy milk plus 1 tbsp lemon juice, set aside for 10 minutes
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 2 tbsp flax meal with 6 tbsp water, set aside for ten minutes
    • 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or regular sugar)
    • 1/3 cup coconut oil
    • 1 overripe banana, mashed
    • 1 cup chocolate chips

    Instructions

    mash the banana in a large bowl with the coconut oil

    add in the flax and water, stir

    add in the milk and lemon mixture, stir

    stir in oats

    sift in flour

    add chips and baking powder

    stir in chips

    if it’s too dry, add a bit more milk

    if it’s too wet, add a bit more flour

    That’s the weird thing about vegan baking, sometimes batters act differently in different circumstances.

    pour into greased waffle iron set to high and scoop enough in to cover 2/3 of it. close and bake.

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    Auralgasms #7

    Happy National Audiobook Month!! Also? HAPPY PRIDE!! Oh wait, wrong Pride… In honor of PRIDE, a hopefully positive SCOTUS decision on gay marriage, and the closing of National Audiobook month, I’m featuring my all-time favorite LGBT audiobooks! Honestly, they’re just good as hell books. Gay/straight/asexual matters not. The story or the memoir or the short stories … Read more…

    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.

    Whole Wheat, no refined sugar, choc chip mug cake and a 5 STAR BOOK REVIEW! #fitfluential #books #cake Click To Tweet

    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.

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