The Staff and The Blade Cover Reveal.

It’s no secret Elizabeth Hunter and I are friends. So when she asked me if I wanted in on the cover reveal, I tried to demand sexual favors–from her characters. Alas, they’re only real in my mind.

One day I’ll be able to manifest my book boyfriends into reality.

Anyway, I’m super excited about The Staff and the Blade. You see, Damien, like me, is SLAVIC. So, I feel like, even though he’s a figment of Elizabeth Hunter’s imagination, we could have a good time–eating, playing ice hockey, bitching about Russia, eating, comparing winter coats, eating.

Sari, much like my PSM, is Nordic. So I know I’m good there. Aquavit is Nordic vodka. There’s a plan.

PLUS!!

I want the angels to PAY. (That sounds bad.) But I do.

SO HERE GOES!

The Staff and the Blade - 3D

Obviously, we’d do much talking. Seriously.

SYNOPSIS:
Warriors. Lovers. Enemies. Legends.
The Staff and the Blade
Damien and Sari. Their union became pivotal in Irin history. But to understand their ending, you must go back to the beginning. A young singer and a hardened warrior meet and mate, but their life is torn apart by violence, betrayal, and grief.
Yet no matter how much pain and anger stain their lives, bonds in the Irin race cannot be abandoned. Damien and Sari will never truly leave each other, because those who are destined cannot be ignored.
The Staff and the Blade is a novel in four parts. It is the fourth book in the Irin Chronicles.
“She hates me as she loves me. Wholly and completely. Sari never does anything by halves.”
Wattpad readers: Read the first novella in The Staff and the Blade: DREAMS in serial format. A brand new chapter will post every Thursday until the final book releases. Please visit: https://www.wattpad.com/user/ElizabethHunter for more information.
EXCERPT:
“You’re calling me naive?”
“Yes.” She leaned forward. “You may be older than me, but you’re still the noble Irin warrior of ages past. This world is not black and white. It never has been.”
“You think I don’t know that?”
“You think every scribe has a conscience and a code of honor because you do.”
He looked away from her.
“Not every scribe is noble. Not every Irin wants the Irina back. Not every one of your brothers would sacrifice himself to protect me or any of my sisters.”
“I know I’m no saint. None of us are.”
“No, you’re honorable. And decent. And good.”
“Sari—”
“And I love that about you,” she continued, even as her throat started to close. “I love your honor. I love your decency. But Damien, the world is not like that. It’s a hard, cruel place with countless shades of grey. People are selfish and weak. We do things…” She choked. “We do horrible things because we think it’s the only way to survive.”
Damien turned back to her. “There is nothing you can do that would make me love you less, Sari.”
She gave him a bitter smile. “That’s because you don’t know what I’ve done.”
~
Copyright 2016, Elizabeth Hunter
All rights reserved.

Type A (Positive) Personality.

One word: Venice.

It even sounds romantic. Italy in general holds a nigh universal appeal as the most romantic country on the planet. Ok, mostly. The piazzas, the slickly fashioned men with swooning women. Gelato. Pasta. Tiramisu. Wine. Risotto. Pizza. Truffles. Grappa. Blood.

wait, blood?

Um…

Um, Yes.

Ok, not like the bloodied hands of Brutus, or the the chill in the blood of a visitor to an ossuary in Milan, not even all the scenes in Italy in The Godfather. 

The drinking kind!!

Um…

Yeah!! Italy is OLD AS OLD GETS!! There’re bound to be many

interesting characters.

THANK G-D, AMIRITE? I am a very pale, introvert bookworm. I can only take so much daylight. I also have more ADHD than an entire elementary school, so I have energetic needs. 

And while I’m normally more of a fan of shifters, the exception to the rule exists a few places, most especially, in anything Elizabeth Hunter writes. AND I AM IN LOVE WITH TENZIN. She has freaking permafangs that don’t retract. She’s ittybitty and can kill an army of dudes. She flies. She is ruled by no one. She’s awkward and intrusive and full of piss and vinegar. Ok, not piss, she’s a vampire. Blood and vinegar. Salt and vinegar blood. She’ll make a new crisp flavor!

Which is why I’m so excited that today is the release day for this beauty:

I am singing the Benzin song I made up. It’s a great song. It is to the tune of “X-Gon Give it to Ya.” It fits. Just sub Tenz and Benz every other line for “X.”

The blurb:

All Ben Vecchio wanted was a quiet summer before his last semester of university. Was that too much to ask?

All Tenzin wanted was a cache of priceless medieval coins that had been missing for several hundred years.

And some company.

Phrases like “never again” don’t mean much when you’ve been a vampire for several thousand years. And promises made in the heat of anger don’t outweigh the lure of gold. Ben Vecchio thought he knew everything there was to know about the immortals of Italy. But when Tenzin tempts him into another adventure finding a cache of rare gold coins missing since the nineteenth century, he’ll discover that familiar places can hold the most delicious secrets. And possibly, the key to his future.

happy dance. Benzin song. Salt and Vinegar blood! or not that last one. I’m a vegan. It’s also almost Lent, so, Fridays are out for Carwyn. What does a Catholic vampire eat during Lent? TOO MANY QUESTIONS, BACK TO BENZIN.

A good, heathen vampire. Because I like my vampires like I like my moonshine–entirely lawless and probably poison.

Once again, Ms Hunter’s ability to spin worlds from the closely packed microfilaments of her abundant imagination stupefies the senses and tickles the tender parts of the reader’s intelligence. Elizabeth Hunter’s world-building is so uncommonly spectacular, it’s apparent she’s become a standard to which other writers must reckon by. She continually outdoes her previous installments, and Imitation and Alchemy maintains and expands on that trend. It’s not a romance, per se, but everything about it is romantic. The setting, the people, the nigh folkloric atmosphere of the prose and intelligence of characters is reminiscent of the great Gothic romances of the past. Only entirely more badass. With 100% more Monty Python references.

I love watching Ben and Tenzin’s comlex relationship construct itself into something more. It’s challenging to all of my expectations of what a possible *or not* HEA might look like for them, and it whets my appetite for the next installment like that first beer at the pub. I love how Tenzin manages to pull Ben into the most insane schemes. I love how Ben doesn’t take a bit of her shit without giving it back. He’s not scared of her, even if he should be. They’re like this:

Ok, bad example. Let’s try again:

Imitation and Alchemy is an astonishing fantasy-filled adventure topped to the brim with intelligence, suspense, and delicious, yet morally questionable decisions.

Five stars.

Imitation and Alchemy by Elizabeth Hunter review.

Amazon • Kobo

Review of Imitation and Alchemy by @E__Hunter and Recipe for Cauliflower Risi e Bisi on Reader/Eater.… Click To Tweet

For the recipe?

It’s Venice (sometimes) bitch. Gotta be Risi e Bisi. Only better. Cauliflower Risi e Bisi. Not so risi, then. SCREW YOUR EXPECTATIONS! It’s a Venetian dish typically made with rice and peas. Mine uses riced cauliflower for a new flavor exploration and fewer carbs. It’s so good.

delicious cauliflower risi e bisi

 

 

Cauliflower Risi e Bisi

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: saute gluten-free low-carb paleo vegan vegetarian

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 large or 2 small heads of cauliflower, chopped into a fine dice.
  • 1 leek, topped, tailed, and chopped
  • 1/2-1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp evoo
  • 1 tbsp butter or earth balance spread
  • 1 cup cubed and cooked pancetta or 1 cup chopped and sauteed porcini mushrooms (saute in a bit of oil without salt on HIGH until browned) (about a large fist full, my UK friends. Or a cuppa.)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

DO NOT PRE STEAM YOUR VEG

heat fats on stove on medium high

stir in leeks and cauliflower

cook 5 minutes

lower heat to medium low and add garlic

stir

slowly add stock, a little bit at a time until absorbed

stir in mushrooms or pancetta

salt and pepper to taste

stir in peas and remove from heat.

Powered by Recipage

Top Ten Books of 2015

top ten books of 2015

I was going to do a gift guide, but really, if you read my blog, you probably want to buy all the books for yourself and eat all the fucking cookies, alone, while reading book blogs, books, in your fuzzy slippers, sipping your gin, silently judging those who say “I don’t like reading.” (or loudly, but because you’re home, and they’re somewhere where people who don’t like to read are, {the GOP convention, obvs.}) So, instead…my top (insert arbitrary number here) books of 2015, and almond cookies, because I love you. Really. Check twitter. I’m just drunkenly sober enough to tweet out “I LOVE YOU!!!!” Although, if its deleted before you read it, I got soberer.

Also, this is not some fancy “PEN list” or some other gathering. This is from what I read, and I don’t always read those “must reads.” Sure, a few may end up on other lists, but mother of hell, I do what I want. 🙂

I’m not judging YOUR life. I’m judging the non-readers, remember? (Unless reading makes you nauseated, or you have dyslexia and it gives you headaches, in which case, check my auralgasms page for some AUDIObook recs. They’re a thing.) Also, if you’re reading this, you’re sexy. Just sayin.

This book floored me. Absolutely floored me. It’s like if Code Name: Verity and Harry Potter had a super intelligent Chinese baby NOT named “Cho Chang.” Yes, it’s middle grade/YA, but holy fucking hell, read it.

Ok, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider just adding Elizabeth Hunter’s “2015 releases” to my list. Two problems–no picture, and that would be creepy. Like, hiding in Elizabeth Hunters bushes, creepy. Not quite hiding in her bush creepy, but I am infectious. Also inappropriate and weird. You’re welcome. This book also features a story by Grace Draven, and the combo will leave you reeling. I seriously stepped back in a cold sweat from Ms Draven’s story. HOW DID SHE THINK THIS SHIT UP?!? “Gaslight Hades” is unlike anything you’ve read this year. And holy wow, Josephine…just, Josephine. My soul sister.

*don’t judge insomniac dramatic readers, we’re just DIFFERENT.

The HAPA, genderfluid ghostbuster with the heart of gold is the protagonist of this tale. The writing is quick and precise, the narrative dreamy and well-constructed. I have no idea how this isn’t on a longlist of some nature, because it should be. I loved it so freaking hard.

Read this today. If you don’t, you’ve failed at 2015. You lose the future. Check your fucking privilege at the door, and read. I know that there is no way I can truly understand the minority position. But, I can learn to empathize.

Five words: well, that was suitably terrifying. Five more, now I’ll read it again.

Oh, you’ve never read Sarah Vowell before? Well that’s a damn shame.

I’m feeling feelings about it. Big feelings.

Sexy Gandalf. Sexy twins. A life with love doesn’t mean a stationary life. Penny Reid’s gift for goof and gab, as well as fucking smart AF prose and wild, wiley romance is PERFECT in this.

 Yes, it’s another romance, but OMG READ THIS ROMANCE. MY WHOLE HEART IS OPEN. MY COAL-BLACK SOUL IS HAPPY. DO YOU KNOW HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO ILLUMINATE A COAL-BLACK SOUL?!?!

I’m still trying to recover from this book. Yes, it’s an ontological narrative, which is often a hard pill for American audiences to swallow, but it’s amazing. This may not be the narrative you want, but it’s definitely the one you need.

The Peanut and I devoured each page with a hunger bordering on obsessive. It’s beautiful, it’s enchanting. GO now. get it.

Also, do yourself a favor and get these at your local shop.

Okay, so I guess this is the Top Ten Books of 2015. NOT such an arbitrary number. Don’t say I’m completely non-traditional.

The Top Ten Books of 2015. Also, almond cookies, because, cookies. #cookies #bookworm Click To Tweet

And now? The Recipe.

Almond Cookies, because they’re delicious.

easy almond cookies easy almond cookies easy almond cookies

Easy Almond Cookies

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Keywords: bake dessert vegan vegetarian cookie

Ingredients (2 dozen cookies)

  • 1/3 cup almond paste warmed to a little warmer than body temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter or vegan alternative
  • 2 eggs or 6 tbsp aquafabas
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal

Instructions

preheat oven to 350F

whip together butter, paste, and sugar

add in remaining wet ingredients

whip for 1 minute

stir in almond meal

sift in flour

refrigerate for 10 minutes

scoop into 2 tbsp scoops 2″ apart on parchment lined sheets

bake for ten minutes or until JUST golden on the edges.

let cool completely before removing from cookie sheet.

Powered by Recipage

Bearly Enough Puns.

Ok, before I get to the meat of this post, I want to congratulate Grace Draven and Elizabeth Hunter on their 4.5 star rating and “top pick” from Romantic Times for their duology Beneath a Waning Moon. It’s so well-deserved. Both novellas made my tingle parts sparkle. For real.

Is there a 12-step program for certain authors? Because I could probably use one. Elizabeth Hunter, Ilona Andrews, Neil Fucking Gaiman, Penny Reid, Madeleine Albright, Vonnegut, Austen, Dickens, Atwood…the list is long. These are authors I consistently read, re-read, am bowled over by, and get the shakes if I’m away from for any length of time.

I need a chronosynclastic infundibulum or some standing stones or some shit to transport me through time to make Vonnegut and Austen write MOAR. *Dickens, I love you, but you wrote a fuckton. We’re good. I wouldn’t want Great Expectations from the point of view of Estella, titled I Am What You Made Me. Ok, actually, I kinda would. TO VICTORIAN ENGLAND, I GO!!

ANYWAYS…

A few weeks ago, Elizabeth Hunter fed my habit by gifting me with an ARC of Waking Hearts. 

Now and then I like to feel good…

And I was over the fucking moon. I have been WAITING for Allie and Ollie’s story for what seems like forever and week. I love love love me a bear shifter. And a VIXEN?!?!? Let me remind you about the symbiotic relationship foxes and bears have in the wild…

THEY’RE BASICALLY BFFS, K?!

The bears (begrudgingly) share their kills and hunts with the arctic foxes, and even allow them to DEN WITH THEM. So what if Ollie and Allie aren’t arctic. They’re like the adorable desert equivalent.

I’ve been researching this a lot…because, you know, reasons.

Seeing the ARC pop up on my kindle gave me a shot of sheer joy that went through my entire body. Immediately, I searched for the puns that litter most bear shifter titles.

NOTHING. Not a single cheesy pun. Not “Bearly Ever” or “Bearly Hanging On” or “Bearly Dressed” or “Bearly Pregnant” or “UnBEARable” or even “Fox You.” Nothing.

These are all suggestions for any other bruin shifter book anyone would like to write. By the way, the sequel to Bearly Pregnant is, of course, BEARing Down, the third is Bearly Lucid.

 Ok, so the book made me so happy, I was SINGING in-between fits of reading.

Specifically, the vocal stylings of one Mr Freddie Mercury. So, BEAR with me while I write a musical blog.

Upon first reading, I already knew how much I loved Ollie. He is so steadfast in the previous books. He’s just a hot, level-headed, sexy, kind, lickable, wonderful bearman who just wants…

I feel you, Ollie. I feel you.

And Allie. Poor Allie. Her husband is a dog (literally) and ran off with his tail between his legs, and left her, leaving her wondering…

And she’s a mom. Of four. That changes a person–inside and out–like it as not. It’s not always easy to deal with those changes emotionally. But Ollie? Ollie gets her and thinks she is all the better for it.

(Here we see Freddie Mercury dressed as a different sort of bear.)

And Allie knows that

That big old, bar owning bear is just the right person at the right time for Allie. And Elizabeth Hunter beautifully choreographs the minutiae of a family dynamic into the idea of a fledgling relationship. Her children are wonderful and funny, and everything four kids should be. Loud, crazy, fun, and demanding.

(with 100% less cocaine.)

Elizabeth Hunter does not shy away from giving her protagonists impossible choices or painful realizations. In fact, other than world building, it’s what I would say she does best. She isn’t afraid to kill her darlings or just beat them the fuck around. No matter what, it makes the story so much more interesting.

And Cambio feels like home at this point in the series. The joy of reading an Elizabeth Hunter novel is the all-encompassing submersion into the masterfully imagined worlds and living completely in that existance for the span of the pages. And when her characters finally get that happily ever after? They fucking earned it.

The first time Allie and Ollie come together? I was as giddy as they were.

Ollie rescues Allie and she rescues him right back. Isn’t that how it should be? The strength shared between the two reminded me a lot of those great love stories you hear about during times of war or strife, when leaning on one another becomes absolutely essential. As necessary as breathing.

The ending made me deliriously happy. I won’t give away any major details, but, I had major chest tingles. Major.

Waking Hearts by Elizabeth Hunter

Five big, big, stars.

BUY IT

I think you know what recipe I made:

Obviously

Easy Bear Claws

Easy Bear Claws

 

Bear Claws for a Bear Shifter. Review of Waking Hearts by @E__Hunter #vegan #bookclub #books Click To Tweet

Easy Bear Claws

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: bake dessert breakfast snack

Ingredients (5 claws)

    for the claws

    • 10 puff pastry squares or 2 sheets puff pastry cut into ten squares or ten rounds
    • 6 oz almond paste
    • 4 tbsp vegan or regular cream cheese–soft
    • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
    • 2 tbsp butter or vegan butter
    • 1/2 tsp almond extract
    • 1 egg
    • 2 tbsp water
    • (or bean water+soy milk instead of eggs and water)

    for the glaze

    • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
    • 1/3 cup soy or regular milk
    • 1/4 tsp almond extract
    • 1 tbsp amaretto liqueur (optional)

    optional

    • chopped nuts

    Instructions

    for the claws

    preheat oven to 350F

    mix powdered sugar, almond paste, extract, butter, and cream cheese in a mixer on high

    let the puff pastry come to almost room temp and stack squares two by two and cut them into the wide “C” shapes. Don’t cut the claws, yet.

    smear the spread on half of all of the cut squares, leaving 1/2″ border all around

    mix egg with water and beat

    top with another cut square

    press firmly on edges to close

    cut five slices on longest edge

    place on parchment lined baking sheet, bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown

    let cool 15 minutes

    for the glaze

    combine all ingredients and whisk the hell out of them

    drizzle claws with glaze and top with nuts

    Powered by Recipage

    A Very Proper Gal-Sneaker.

    LET IT BE KNOWN!!

    I wrote this review after drinking the recipe/props (because it had soda in it and would go flat, I’m not one to waste, people!!) and therefore, just, well, I’m a bit arfarfan’arf. Also, I will also be injecting Victorian slang into the post, because I can. *here’s a helpful list. I will also try to throw in nonsense words made up by Victorian authors, e.g. “bandersnatch” a la Lewis Carroll, because it sounds dirty, and he was a buttoned-up religious mathematician with a million kids–so you know he got freaky. He just did it missionary style–as was proper. (But I hear his wife oft yelled what was written on Alice’s cake’s label.)

    Let’s get busy.

    A few (three?) weeks ago I got the happiest of the happies email (in Victorian, we’ll call that “magic box messaging”–which should not be confused with “magic box massaging”–which is entirely different.) It was the ARC for A Very Proper Monster by Elizabeth Hunter. (appearing in a duo with Grace Draven titled Beneath a Waning Moon out Oct 1)

    Holy, omg, Batman! She wrote A PARANORMAL HISTORICAL ROMANCE. Don’t worry, I didn’t faint. There may have been swooning. I will not lie, Elizabeth Hunter is a chuckaboo of mine, but that doesn’t mean I’d review it if I thought it was not up to dick. However, this novella, this snippet, is up to a lot of dicks. Like, a passel of dicks. (Wait…I can come up with a better collective noun)..a Nixon of dicks.

    A Nixon of Dicks that’s not up to dick.

    So, hold on to your Nixons, folks. Get this!! Remember how, like, a minute and a half ago, Elizabeth Hunter released The Scarlet Deep? Yes? Well, remember Tom?! The big, burly son of Murphy? The former fighter? The sexy ogre of Dublin? Yes? This is HIS STORY. And that of his super sweet, batshit crazy mate, Josephine.

    We get their story. We are able to understand how this dynamic couple came to be. Turns out, Josephine, who in Victorian times was wealthy enough to be “eccentric” and not “off her damned meds” or “creative,” was already quite dying when Tom was conscripted by his sire to court her. FUCKING CONSUMPTION, AMIRITE?!

    Here’s the thing: Lady Coughsalot doesn’t know that the enormous dude fixing to make her his–is a walking magic bloodmobile.

    Thank goodness she is a fan of the bite bros, and happens to be enamored with the dark tales of the creatures of the night, because she is able to envision the life of the undead as housing a lot more of a nanty narking than could other mortals.

    I really, really want to tell you about my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE BIT of the book, which occurs after Josephine is turned (not a shocker–we knew this from her previous books) and JoJo goes balls-to-the-wall Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted JABBERWOCKY on someone and Tom comes in after.

    It’s fucking amazing, and you should read this short little novella if only for that scene.

    Imagine her as a bloodthirsty vampire. AWESOME, RIGHT?!

    I have never been disappointed by Elizabeth Hunter’s books. This novella proved no exception. I liked it so much, I wanted more. I wanted a full 200+ pages of batshit and bigdude after bedtime. With this novella, Elizabeth Hunter proves that she is able to write not only spectacular modern fiction, but phenomenal historical fiction as well.

    Tis a foolish woman (1)

    (emphasis mine)

    And I want more.

    Seriously, if she wrote a steampunk novel wherein a lady privateer shapeshifts into a Kracken to Robin Hood the fuck out of some rich whalers, and then falls in love with an Orca shifter and they make whale-o-pus babies who own a sushi bar dirigible, I’d read it.

    Twice.

    Four Big, Beefy Punches.

    Then I’d make this cocktail inspired by the book.

    Because I DON’T LIKE WHISKY or Whiskey or whatever, I used moonshine–which is a whiskey/whisky CORN BOOZE, but I like it.

    Apple Pomegranate Moonshine Punch

    Apple Pomegranate Moonshine Punch

    Review: A Very Proper Monster and Recipe: Apple-Pomegranate Moonshine Punch. #books #booze Click To Tweet

    Apple Pomegranate Moonshine Punch

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 2 minutes

    Keywords: beverage

    Ingredients (2 cocktails)

    • 2.5 oz Apple Pie Moonshine
    • .5 oz cinnamon schnapps
    • juice and arils of one medium pomegranate (pith picked out)
    • 3 oz club soda
    • sliced apple

    Instructions

    separate arils from juice by straining

    shake ingredients together with ice sans arils, soda, and apple slices

    strain into two glasses

    top with soda and arils, add slices

    serve

    Powered by Recipage