Getting Ready For Spring:

Spring can often be a dead-zone for books, it’s notquite summer, it’s notquite cozy reading weather, it’s cleaning and pollen, but let me tell you, this spring? It’s ON.

With so many choices, I thought I’d tell you what I’M planning on reading.

Spring Into a Good Book 10 Must-Read Books for Spring

Confession: I’ve already read this. It was AMAZING!!! But here’s the blurb:

Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.

A disturbing, yet beautifully composed narrative told in three parts, The Vegetarian is an allegorical novel about modern day South Korea, but also a story of obsession, choice, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.

I will read anything Louise Erdrich writes. She and Sherman Alexie are arguably the most prolific Native American writers today, and their work is frequently challenging to stereotypes White America hold sacred. Thank G-d, amirite?

Louise Erdrich, the author of the National Book Award-winning The Round House and the Pulitzer Prize nominee The Plague of Doves wields her breathtaking narrative magic in an emotionally haunting contemporary tale of a tragic accident, a demand for justice, and a profound act of atonement with ancient roots in indigenous culture.

I have very little working knowledge of Margaret Cavendish, but her life seems endlessly fascinating, and I do love a fictionalization of true history.

Margaret the First dramatizes the life of Margaret Cavendish, the shy, gifted, and wildly unconventional 17th-century Duchess. The eccentric Margaret wrote and published volumes of poems, philosophy, feminist plays, and utopian science fiction at a time when “being a writer” was not an option open to women. As one of the Queen’s attendants and the daughter of prominent Royalists, she was exiled to France when King Charles I was overthrown. As the English Civil War raged on, Margaret met and married William Cavendish, who encouraged her writing and her desire for a career. After the War, her work earned her both fame and infamy in England: at the dawn of daily newspapers, she was “Mad Madge,” an original tabloid celebrity. Yet Margaret was also the first woman to be invited to the Royal Society of London—a mainstay of the Scientific Revolution—and the last for another two hundred years.

Margaret the First is very much a contemporary novel set in the past, rather than “historical fiction.” Written with lucid precision and sharp cuts through narrative time, it is a gorgeous and wholly new narrative approach to imagining the life of a historical woman.

Reading this one RIGHT NOW.

A vampire’s grudges don’t stay dead long…

Merit is one of Chicago’s most skilled vampire warriors; these days, she doesn’t scare easily. But she and Master vampire Ethan have made a new and powerful enemy, and he won’t give up until he owns the Windy City.

With his last plan thwarted, he’s more determined than ever to watch Cadogan burn. Ethan has put the House’s vampires on high alert, but their enemy will stop at nothing, including pitting vampire against vampire…

In this deadly game of cat-and-mouse, the stakes are life or death—and winning might mean sacrificing everything…

Ten Must-Read Books for Spring and Creamy Roasted Mashed Root Vegetables to warm you for the… Click To Tweet

I’m obsessed with ALL things Mercy Thompson. Although, her tits get bigger every cover, her brain never gets any smaller, nor do her adversaries.

Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.

Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

I LOVED Archer’s Voice, and this one looks to have the same “aw shucks, right in the feely bone” quality to it.

Holden Scott is the prince of professional football. At least he was before he lost it all . . . or more to the point, before he threw it all away. Now he’s out of a job, out of the public’s good graces, and perhaps just a little out of his mind. So when a friend offers up his remote lodge in the wilds of Colorado, giving Holden some time away to get his life back on track, he can hardly say no. The last thing he expects is to see a beautiful girl in the woods—one wearing a white, lace dress who appears in the moonlight, and leaves no footprints behind. Is she a dream? A ghost? A product of his muddled imagination? Or something entirely different?
Midnight Lily is the haunting love story of two lost souls reaching for each other in the dark. A tale of healing, acceptance, and the worlds we create to protect our own hearts. It is a story of being lost, of being found, and of being in the place between.

Kylie Scott’s Stage Dive series was a real win for me. Light, funny, and a quick read, I’m hoping this falls in the same vein.

The last thing Vaughan Hewson expects to find when he returns to his childhood home is a broken hearted bride in his shower, let alone the drama and chaos that comes with her.

Lydia Green doesn’t know whether to burn down the church or sit and cry in a corner. Discovering the love of your life is having an affair on your wedding day is bad enough. Finding out it’s with his best man is another thing all together. She narrowly escapes tying the knot and meets Vaughan only hours later.

Vaughan is the exact opposite of the picture perfect, respected businessman she thought she’d marry. This former musician-turned-bartender is rough around the edges and unsettled. But she already tried Mr. Right and discovered he’s all wrong-maybe it’s time to give Mr. Right Now a chance.

SERIAL and The Making of a Murderer has me in the true crime fits. I’m just extending that with this one.

In the late 1800s, the city of Austin, Texas was on the cusp of emerging from an isolated western outpost into a truly cosmopolitan metropolis. But beginning in December 1884, Austin was terrorized by someone equally as vicious and, in some ways, far more diabolical than London’s infamous Jack the Ripper. For almost exactly one year, the Midnight Assassin crisscrossed the entire city, striking on moonlit nights, using axes, knives, and long steel rods to rip apart women from every race and class. At the time the concept of a serial killer was unthinkable, but the murders continued, the killer became more brazen, and the citizens’ panic reached a fever pitch.

Before it was all over, at least a dozen men would be arrested in connection with the murders, and the crimes would expose what a newspaper described as “the most extensive and profound scandal ever known in Austin.” And yes, when Jack the Ripper began his attacks in 1888, London police investigators did wonder if the killer from Austin had crossed the ocean to terrorize their own city.

 

One of my favorite shows in book form? YOU BETCHA.

n 1996 Amy Goodman started a radio show called Democracy Now! to focus on the issues that are underreported or ignored by mainstream news coverage. Shortly after September 11, 2001, they were broadcasting on television every weekday. Today it is the only public media in the US that airs simultaneously on satellite and cable television, radio, and the Internet. Now Amy and her journalist brother, David, share stories of the progressive heroes—the whistleblowers, the organizers, the protestors—who have brought about remarkable, often invisible change over the last two decades in seismic ways.

This book looks back over the past twenty years of Democracy Now! and considers that as the courts and government abdicate their responsibilities, it has fallen to ordinary people to hold the powerful to account. Amy gives voice to these leaderful, not leaderless, movements: the countless charismatic leaders who are taking to the streets in Ferguson, Staten Island, Wall Street, and other places where people are rising up to demand justice. This is the guiding principle of Democracy Now!, which is front and center in this powerful, important work.

I think my son is going to lose his ever-loving shit over this.

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Now, what goes with all these books? Well, it’s still technically winter, so…

How about some Creamy Roasted Mashed Root Vegetables?

creamy mashed roasted root vegetables creamy mashed roasted root vegetables creamy mashed roasted root vegetables

 

Creamy Roasted Mashed Root Vegetables

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour (mostly down time)

Keywords: vegan paleo low-carb

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 turnips chopped into 1/2 inch (a bit over a CM sq) cubes
  • 2 parsnips chopped similarly
  • 3 yukon gold potatoes, peeled, and chopped similarly
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, top sliced off
  • 1 stick of butter or vegan substitute
  • 1 tbsp EVOO or coconut oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F

toss cubed vegetables in oil

spread on two cookie sheets in a single layer

wrap garlic in foil

roast until soft, about 30 minutes

IN A FOOD PROCESSOR

combine all cooked veg, and squeeze out roasted garlic cloves into food pro

add remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth.

LEAVE VENTED unless you like 3rd degree burns.

add additional salt as needed

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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

Get Series(ous). This time, with mallocakes. Bookies and Cookies, Oh my! Click To Tweet

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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