How Do You Say “Ladyboner” in Italian?

Warning: highly objectionable language used in post. Just fucking read it anyway.

I’ve said it before, but one of my favorite things that has ever come from blogging is when I receive ARCs. *advanced reader copies

When they show up in my inbox, I get that spine-tingly thing that romance writers use to describe what happens before a male orgasm.

Basically, screeners are my man junk, and opening them? Totally my rubbing one out.

I was lucky enough to get three screeners this week. I’ve only read one as of yet, and it was SO MUCH FUN.

You guys know I love Penny Reid‘s books. They’re the sort of smart and sassy contemporary romance novels that never fall off the cliff of head-shakingly predictable plots. Yes, you get your HEA, but the struggle to get there feels real.

Her books are funny and smartly-written, and this collection of short stories from the knitters is no different.

Here’s the catch! A few things before the meat of the review: One, The book will only be available for download from 12/1-12/15, and I’ll remind you of this. Two, ALL PROCEEDS BENEFIT TOYS FOR TOTS. Children get stuff if you read this book. Ok, they get it if you simply buy it, but buying and not reading is like going to a winery and saying “you know what, I’d better not.” THAT’S JUST STUPID. (unless you’re sober, then keep on keeping on and eat some cheese.)

TO THE REVIEW!

This collection of short stories is like being given a half of a bag of snack chips. On one hand, CHIPS, who doesn’t like em, right? On the other hand, I WANT MORE CHIPS.

I loved seeing a glimpse into my favorite fictional ladies’ lives. They are just as fun and frisky as they appear in their full-length novels. I particularly liked one bit of the Quinn and Janie story, because it is just so…them.

eiffel

Why was this little snapshot so funny to me? Because when I first beginning to pick out a new pair of ladybags, I asked the man to look through the surgeon’s catalog with me. He was a bit taken aback. He looked at me and said “they’re boobs. just pick ones you want to wear. surprise me, even.” (lower case implying deadpan.) I was giving the man CARTE BLANCHE to ogle boobies, and he turned me down. I felt like I needed Diana Ross to go with me to judge.

That being said, that was not even my favorite bit of these shorts. My favorite bit was the final short story. Almost a novelette, it is the story of Fiona and Greg. Up until now in the series, they’ve been relatively cast toward the fringes of the books, only to pop up here and there and offer wisdom.

We finally get to see how they met. You’d think that with it being set in undergrad, it’d read like a NA novel, but it doesn’t. It reads like a richly textured adult contemporary. (this isn’t to say all NAs are one-dimensional) I think that it’s because Fiona and Greg have both gone through quite a bit by the time they reach education’s hallowed halls that they’re bringing more to a relationship than your average college students.

I don’t want to give anything away, but suffice it to say, it explains much in just a few pages. Why it is that such a young couple would have kids so young when so many are waiting…What would draw Fiona and Greg to clandestine occupations…and how it is they’re still so devoted to one another thirteen years later.

All in all? Five Stars, but I want more chips. I want a Costco-sized bag of Fiona and Greg.

Buy the book. It’s benefitting Toys for Tots. That is a military organization. So, basically, do it for your country. (or ours, whatever.)

Now? Christmas Cookies. I don’t know what they’re called by you, but these are actually pretty popular around here. The bakery nearest my house calls them “Italian Shortbread Cookies,” which is a pretty good description. Often called “butter cookies,” they’re a delicious, buttery cookie that you sandwich with jam, or do what I did, and make them all festive-like by adding maraschino cherries before baking.  I cannot take credit for this recipe, just alterations. I use Giada’s recipe, and add two tbsp orange zest and one tbsp lemon zest. I also omit the vanilla extract and add 1/2 tsp almond extract. I pipe a few tbsp out a few tbsp apart from one another, roll them into balls, make a thumbprint, and drop a cherry in. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350F

ZOMG.

italian shortbread cookies italian shortbread cookies italian shortbread cookies

Leave the Nietzsche, Take the Poet.

Book review day!!! 

 

“All that is rare is for the rare….”Frederick Nietzsche

“You’re really going to quote Nietzsche to me? To me? The sole female in the room…When I first wake up? Before I’ve had coffee? After finding one of my brothers mating with his hand upstairs for the second time in as many days, and I’m the cow??” –Ashley Winston Beauty and the Mustache

We as readers have all been there. We’ve all experienced the chapping of our psyche when we let our mind cast itself into the maelstrom of an unexpectedly gripping work of fiction. Sometimes, the conclusion of the work provides an unguent for the wound it has created, and you feel relief. But during the enjoying of it, the fevered reading of its pages, you’re forced to balkanize your emotions into tight constraints, so that you can get on to the next page without having the words blurred by YOUR FEELINGS ESCAPING THROUGH YOUR EYEHOLES.(Shibari of the feels, anyone?)

Most books, we can anticipate the storm. We are more like “Al Roker predicting a Sharknado,” less  “Al Roker getting knocked on his ass by some rain and wind.”

No. (man up, Roker.)

Yes.

Sometimes, we’re caught off-guard. The first time we find out that Rochester is married. Dr Sheppard being discovered. Cecelia and Robbie. (GAH!! poor Robbie.) I wanted to hate Catherine and Heathcliffe, but I couldn’t.

It’s good to be taken aback by a book. If you read enough romance novels, you eventually hit a critical mass of predictability and eye-rolling.

A gillionaire with a giant….heart meets a down on her luck lady of reasonable attractiveness, sparks fly, panties are ripped, happily ever after is achieved.

Beauty and the Mustache is not that book. It’s Cecelia and Robbie if they were real. It’s waiting in the burned-out husk of a home, missing a hand, a ruined face, and still being loved by one for whom you are the world. It’s that guy who always remembers just how you take your coffee (served shirtless) and knows how wonderful comfortable silence can be.

The Blurb:

There are three things you need to know about Ashley Winston: 1) She has six brothers and they all have beards, 2) She is a reader, and 3) She knows how to knit.

Former beauty queen, Ashley Winston’s preferred coping strategy is escapism. She escaped her Tennessee small town, loathsome father, and six brothers eight years ago. Now she escapes life daily via her Amazon kindle one-click addiction. However, when a family tragedy forces her to return home, Ashley can’t escape the notice of Drew Runous— local Game Warden, bear wrestler, philosopher, and everyone’s favorite guy. Drew’s irksome philosophizing in particular makes Ashley want to run for the skyscrapers, especially since he can’t seem to keep his exasperating opinions— or his soulful poetry, steadfast support, and delightful hands— to himself. Pretty soon the girl who wanted nothing more than the escape of the big city finds she’s lost her heart in small town Tennessee.

We first met Ashley in Neanderthal Marries Human: Knitting in the City I. This is where we learn that she’s a PICU RN in the same hospital as Sandra and Elizabeth. She comes across as a bookish gal with sharp wit and grace under pressure. *you never know when knitting needles are for more than just knitting a fetus coin purse. We see her a bit through Friends Without Benefits, Neanderthal Marries Human, and Love Hacked, but this is HER book. 

01

We get to meet Ashley’s bearded, banjo-loving brothers, and the unexpected *cough*surprises that come with living in a home with six men…six STRAIGHT men. I’ve lived in an apartment with three gay men. That was interesting. One was a drag queen, one my BFF, one was, well…revolving. It was a tidy and clean apartment. This house is sort of like an Augusten Burroughs-style shrink’s masturbatorium on moonshine. Just never go in the bathroom. Ever.

We are also shown  how they’ve grown into great, loving, protective men in the years since Ashley has moved away. Then we meet Drew Runous. *insert lady-growl.* A bearded, philosophizing, poet-penning, banjo-playing, big-hearted–and still manly–ball of hotness. We are witness as they grow together through tragedy and connection.

The romance, though!! If you’ve read Penny’s other books (that I’ve much vaunted.see here, here, and here.) You are pretty sure you’d recognize her stories anywhere. Yes, Neanderthal Marries Human was more “and then this is reality” than “Once upon a time…” but the story is still quite quirky.

This book? It was so deeply romantic and darkly funny that I was never sure which end was up. I was guessing the entire time, and that was GOOD. I never knew if I was expecting Drew and Ashley to turn out to be  Darcy and Miss Bennett or a completelyfictionalizednoteventruetohistory John Smith and Pocahontas.

For those of you who are given to the notion that sweeping, deep romances cannot be also modern, and funny, and heartbreaking, I challenge you: READ Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid. The darkest sadnesses in the novel are counter-weighted by the richness of the highs, and folly of the fraternity.

Buy the book, hell, buy the SERIES. Pack your Depends and kleenex, make yourself a tea and bourbon, and settle in for a wonderful time.

Labor Day Sale

Whippet. Whippet Good.

In honor of John Venn’s 180th birthday, I’ve made a Venn diagram to kick off today’s topic. By now, I know you’ve heard all about the Hachette Publishing/Amazon dispute of the day. Long story short, Amazon wants to charge one price for ebooks, Hachette wants them to charge a different price. I can see both … Read more…