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!!


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…


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.


I think you know what recipe I made:


Easy Bear Claws

Easy Bear Claws


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)


    • chopped nuts


    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

    Excess is Just Enough.

    Get Series(ous) #14

    This week has been filled with tragedy and rhetoric. People slinging mud whilst others are simply trying to survive. We need some light, some humor, some incredibly inappropriate .gifs to relieve the pall which has settled so heavily on our terra firma.

    Not to worry, I’m pretty boss at making/finding inappropriate .gifs.

    And it’s time to Get Series(ous), and find the next series you should devour. And I mean devour. 

    So, for whom is this series a good fit?

    Let’s see…

    This guy is your hero.

    This thought has entered your mind more than once when you experienced an “encounter.”

    This image makes you simultaneously dizzy and it makes you think this:

    and this:

    This series is for someone who likes a bit of dick in her dude. She likes a guy who may or may not be entirely PC all of the time, but it’s not because he’s racist or misogynist, but instead because he’s lost the ability to give a single fuck. This reader is turned on by bilingual men who can do more than just wear a suit and earn a paycheck. This reader loves a storyline that is linear with just enough zany to keep you on your toes, and keep the pages turning. This reader probably likes this movie:

    It’s on Netflix. Watch it.


    (Yes, I love that movie in a way that can only be described as “reckless.” Shut it. Yes, I watch sans subtitles. NO, that’s not influencing this post. {a lot.})

    What’s the series?

    The Amour et Chocolat series by Laura Florand. (Love and Chocolate).

    Why do I love it?

    So many reasons. First, they’re beautiful. The stories, the language–bits of French are scattered through the text–the characters, the setting. All beautiful. They’re completely fantasical. There are “witches” making chocolat chaud, (hot cocoa–recipe to come) a billionaire heiress breaking into chocolate shops, a woman bent on world peace settling with a brut of a chocolatier.

    But the fantasy just makes the storyline that much sweeter.

    Laura Florand crafts these novels with the same focus and skill that a chocolatier uses when creating the tiny works of confectionary art, and the result is equally as rich and satisfying. (Not to mention less-fattening!)

    These novels transport you to the banks of the Seine, with the entire history of the City of Light whispering in the echoes of each installment.

    BONNE! Tres jolie. J’aime! J’adore.

    These books make you hungry–not only for decadent french food and confections–but more additional installments of the series. It becomes compulsive.

    Laura Florand is now an “auto-buy” for me. Meaning, if she comes out with a new book–I’m buying it. And I’ll probably enjoy it with a chocolat et un verre de vin. (ou trois!)

    What recipe complements this series?


    Molten Chocolate Almondine.

    Molten Chocolate Almondine

    (psssst, it’s dairy free and egg free and my fancy pants french friend could not tell!) (french purposefully not capitalized as the French do not capitalize nationalities used as an adjective.)


    Molten Chocolate Almondine

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 15 minutes

    Keywords: bake dessert vegan soy-free

    Ingredients (4 ramekins)

    • 1/2 cup aquafabas (the water reserved from a can of white beans)
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped dark chocolate
    • 1/2 cup salted almond butter
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup cocoa–sifted twice
    • 1/2 cup flour–sifted twice
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/3 cup espresso
    • 4 squares of Ghiradelli (or whatevs) 72% dark chocolate.
    • coconut oil or cooking spray for the ramekins


    preheat the oven to 375F

    spray the ramekins with cooking spray or brush with coconut oil

    in a mixer on high with the whisk attachment whisk the aquafabas to stiff peaks

    in a separate bowl, melt the chocolate. (I do it in the microwave in 30 second increments)

    stir in the coffee and almond butter

    gently stir in remaining ingredients save the aquafabas and squares

    fold chocolate mixture into the aquafabas slowly

    pour into the prepared ramekins

    insert a square into the center of each

    bake for 15 minutes

    serve. (with wine and ice cream)

    Powered by Recipage

    Well, That Escalated Quickly. Books With A Hook. (Ten Books That Hook You From The Beginning.)

    One of the best feelings when reading a novel is that shock of the novel completely amping up the action x1000 and knowing you’ve fallen over the cliff into that perfect land of “now I’m never getting any sleep.” There’s that tiny liminal space between the rise and the BAM! of it that is so perfect, it’s like the reader is suspended above the text, waiting to hit the icy cold refreshment of excitement churning within.

    Ooooooh, something is coming….

    And then…

    I am actually reading a book like this right now. It’s a book in a long-lived series, and IT APPEARS AS THOUGH SHE’S JUST KILLED OFF ALL OF THE MAIN CHARACTERS FROM THE SERIES WITH AN EXPLOSION. I am hoping for a bunker, or fake-out, or dream sequence. SOMETHING.

    So, grab your coffee or tea, because you’re going to need caffeine if you pick up anything on this list.

    Well, That Escalated Quickly, Books With a Hook. Top Ten Books That Hook You From The Beginning

    Ten Books that Hook You from the Beginning.

    In no particular order:

    american gods

    Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.

    Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.

    Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, AMERICAN GODS takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You’ll be surprised by what and who it finds there…

    This book takes off a scant ten pages into the text. It never lets go, it never lets up.

    “I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you’re alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”

    american psycho

    The movie with Christian Bale was AMAZING. The book is better. Trust me.

    “I tried to make meat loaf out of the girl but it becomes too frustrating a task and instead I spend the afternoon smearing her meat all over the walls, chewing on strips of skin I ripped from her body”

    and the hippos

    It’s one of Kerouac and Burroughs’ first novels. They wrote in alternating chapters, and it’s incredible. Chilling and fast-paced, this short novel can be read in an afternoon with a beer and the setting sun.

    “I began to get a feeling familiar to me from my bartending days of being the only sane man in a nuthouse. It doesn’t make you feel superior but depressed and scared, because there is nobody you can contact.”

    big little lies

    This book was on every bloggers “must read” list for a reason. Hell, Stephen King gave HIS seal of approval. (As we all know, he’s the master of whacking the reader in the head with the unexpected.) It turns life on its head and kicks the reader in the ass.

    “Did anyone really know their child? Your child was a little stranger, constantly changing, disappearing and reintroducing himself to you. New personality traits could appear overnight.”

    contortionist's handbook

    A weird book about the LA underworld, drugs, and psychiatric institutions is bound to keep one up reading until dawn. This one is certainly a page-turner after just the first few pages.

    “When you’re in love, your brain secretes endorphins into your blood. Organic morphine leaks out of a gland in your skull, feels like a low-grade opium rush. Some people confuse the two, the head rush and the love. You think you’re in love with a person, but you’re in love with a syringe.”


    Are you dialed in? more importantly, is someone else? What if none of your emotions were your own? Yeah, that. This book takes off from the first chapter, and never stops.

    “We Americans are interested only in the consumption of our products. We have no interest in how they are produced, or what happens to them once we discard them, once we throw them away.”

    the mill on the floss

    Don’t roll your eyes. I know that you weren’t expecting a George Eliot of antiquity here on this list, but hear me out. This book is considered George Eliot’s most autobiographical, and it just oozes personality. Her voice is on every page, and the time of her life is in every character. More than that, the conflict comes on hard and fast, and it is worth all of its pages.

    “It was one of those dangerous moments when speech is at once sincere and deceptive – when feeling, rising high above its average depth, leaves flood-marks which are never reached again.”

    war for the oaks

    This book is really the proto-UF novel, and is everything that is good about the genre. The cover is TERRIBLE, but you know what they say about books and covers. Gripping and modern, this bit of fiction is a maelstrom of magic.

    “We cannot resist the lure of that mortal brilliance. It is its own kind of glamour, that dazzles the senses. And once we have found it, we cannot turn away.”

    west with the night

    A memoir? Really? Yes, really. When a life is SO INTERESTING that you wish the writer were immortal so that the book would never end? THAT.

    “To see ten thousand animals untamed and not branded with the symbols of human commerce is like scaling an unconquered mountain for the first time, or like finding a forest without roads or footpaths, or the blemish of an axe. You know then what you had always been told — that the world once lived and grew without adding machines and newsprint and brick-walled streets and the tyranny of clocks.” (emphasis mine.)

    If you haven’t read this yet, SERIOUSLY. WHY NOT?! It’s INSANE. It’s beyond anything. I am fumbling my words like a virgin fumbles a condom because I just can’t. read. yup.

    “…the routine of life goes on, whatever happens, we do the same things, go through the little performance of eating, sleeping, washing. No crisis can break through the crust of habit.”

    AND NOW?!!

    Egg Free/Dairy Free/Fucking amazing double chocolate cookies.

    double chocolate cookies

    Double Chocolate Cookies

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 10 minutes

    Keywords: bake dessert vegan dairy-free kosher cookie

    Ingredients (2 dozen cookies)

    • 1/2 cup vegan butter
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 6 tbsp bean water (the liquid from a chickpea can)
    • 1 3/4 cup flour
    • 1/2 cup dark chocolate cocoa
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tbsp espresso powder
    • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
    • 1 tsp salt


    • additional salt for dusting the tops of the cookies


    preheat oven to 375F

    cream butter and sugars in a mixer on high

    add bean water

    add vanilla

    turn mixer to low

    sift in dry ingredients

    add salt

    turn off

    stir in chocolate chips

    scoop onto line baking sheet

    flatten each scoop just a little

    dust with salt

    bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges look dry.

    Powered by Recipage

    Top Ten Political Films on Netflix

    Tomorrow is Halloween, and typically my favorite holiday of the year. It’s better than Festivus, New Year, Beltane, and Labor Day! It doesn’t require me to cook an elaborate meal that no one will eat, and there’s none of that awkward “did they really like their gift?” bits.

    It’s all magic and mayhem.

    But I have the plague.


    So I am to be left at home with my hot cuppa (gin) and made to make merry all on my very own.

    Alas, I am not of a mind to make merry as I seem to have fallen into a hole of fever and palsy, where tiny smears of putrifactive bits of my innermost anatomy are forcing their way out of my body in great heaving feats of expectoration, thus leaving me highly unsettled, and decidedly unmerry.

    So I am clinging to the runner-up holiday of political insanity election day. I shall sit back in my fuzzy slipper boots, sip my hot gin and lemon sugar (or wassail), and binge watch political shows, movies, and the most-recent bad lip reading, which features the Democratic Debate.

    It shall be glorious.

    Though, it will still be difficult not to lament my lack of fancy dress or the ability to use my “these people will give out good candy” radar. I mean, it’s so well honed! I can spot a full-bar house from fifty paces.

    I also wish full-bar meant “full bar” in the sense of more wassail for me.

    Because I am a plague carrier, and have my weekend all planned out, I made y’all a top ten list.

    The Top Ten Political Films on Netflix (right meow!)

    Top Ten Political Films on Netflix

    Top Ten Political Films on Netflix

    If you don’t love Harrison Ford, we can’t be friends.

    Top Ten Political Films on Netflix

    Election made my month when I saw it was available.

    Top Ten Political Films on Netflix

    For school, I’ve been reading a fuck ton of Victorian literature. So, why not a movie about Victoria?

    Top Ten Political Films on Netflix

    Meryl Streep.

    house of cards

    This Netflix series makes me bite my nails, swear at the tv, and get really ragey that I must wait for the next season after I gorge myself on an entire season in a day.

    Top Ten Political Films on Netflix

    I’m noticing a Spacey theme.

    This mini-series made me inexplicably happy.

    Top Ten Political Films on Netflix

    Remember when John Oliver subbed for Jon Stewart? This is why.

    Top Ten Political Films on Netflix

    How I love this movie. It’s so poignant given the current political climate.

    Top Ten Political Films on Netflix

    I LOVE AMERICAN HISTORY. Wait, that sounded bad. I am driven to learn American History so that I may have an impact on its future, because, we fucked up all the things.

    I also made a yummy, snackable recipe for you to enjoy with these. I took a classic southern dish, the corn fritter, and gave it a bit of flair.

    Tex-Mex Corn Fritters

    Tex-Mex Corn Fritters Tex-Mex Corn Fritters Tex-Mex Corn Fritters

    Tex-Mex Corn Fritters

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 20 minutes of frying time if y

    Keywords: fry vegan vegetarian


    • OIL FOR FRYING. I used coconut
    • 1 1/2 cups of flour
    • 3/4 cup buttermilk or unsweetened almond milk
    • 2 eggs or 2 flax eggs
    • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp honey
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
    • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
    • 3 stalks of scallions, chopped
    • 3 tbsp chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
    • 1/4 tsp white pepper


    • 1/2 cup shredded cheese


    honestly, it doesn’t matter how you mix these up.

    Just get them combined.

    Get your oil hot in a deep fryer or saucepan or deep skillet.

    375F hot.

    *if you need to guess the temp, when it starts to ripple, stick the end of a wooden spoon into the oil, if the spoon looks like it’s frying–you’re gtg. Turn the heat to medium at this point.

    Using a 1/2 oz cookie scoop, scoop balls into the oil. Don’t crowd the pan, that’ll make the oil get cold and the fritters get greasy. You don’t want a greasy ball. (today–I mean, I’m not judging your personal life.)

    flip them after 2 minutes, or if you’re using a deep fryer, just take them out after they are golden brown and delish.

    salt again IMMEDIATELY after you take them out and put them on a strainer or paper-lined plate.

    If you want to go wild, DIP IN GUAC! (YES, I KNOW IT’S EXTRA.)

    Powered by Recipage
    Though Netflix sponsored these posts, all opinions and recipes are my own.
    Though Netflix sponsored these posts, all opinions and recipes are my own.

    Top 10 Books to Read Before You Graduate From College.

    When you’re in college, the amount of reading you’ll do will vary greatly depending on your major. If, say, you’re a marketing major, you’re going to do significantly less reading than your English or Classics majors counterparts. Essentially, once you get beyond your core requirements, most majors focus on fieldwork and textbooks.

    That’s a bummer, because there are some books that really open your eyes to the world around you, and open your mind to possibilities heretofore unknown to you.

    People who read fiction are smarter. And nicer. And seldom bored.

    And we’re hotter.

    (this one is purely conjecture, but I will remind you that THIS GUY is a prolific reader.)

    Here, I’ll offer proof. Listen to Master Hiddleston (I am giving him the Elizabethan honorific, because he’s so fucking Shakespeare that I can’t even. Also, well…draw your own conclusions.)

    OMG HE’S READING CUMMINGS. (fun fact: a guy read this at an open mic I attended, and he had a DEEP SOUTH accent. Equally sexy, but kinda creepy because, really, who reads this at an open mic? really. really.)

    Therefore, in honor of all those returning to school, or those who are in school, or those who just want ten really fucking good books to read, I compiled a list of what I believe are indispensable additions to the traditional collegiate canon.

    Don’t worry your pretty heads–I made a graphic!

    top ten books to read before you graduate from college

    In no particular order:

    This book is an excellent example of the American captivity narrative. I think this book might’ve been taught more before the 21st century, but has since fallen out of favor. It’s extraordinary and well worth the time.

    “I love her still, for if you know anything about that kind of feeling, you know how close it is connected to hopelessness and thus is about the only thing in civilization that don’t degenerate with time.”

    Trollope’s writing is genius. No one disputes that. However, he wrote A LOT. Where to begin, right? He is not known for brevity, and this tome is no exception. It is the proverbial “door stop” of a novel at just under 850 pages. BUT, it’s essential Trollope. Much in the way that Little Dorrit is seen as a direct response to critics by Dickens,  Can You Forgive Her lambasts the social injustices in the Victorian era, and, unlike Madame Bovary, isn’t given to harsh criticisms of the human condition by way of unlikable characters and improper motivations. In spite of the prodigality of the words, the book is moving and genuine.

    “It seems to me that if a man can so train himself that he may live honestly and die fearlessly, he has done about as much as is necessary.”

    Ok. Don’t look at the page count.

    YOU LOOKED. I promise, even though it’s as big as Trump’s ego, it’s REALLY good. It wouldn’t be so popular if it was crap. It deals with the issues of colonialism and race with aplomb. It dissects what makes being a person in-between–in-between. The Indian diaspora is ENORMOUS. It serves us all well to know a little more about it.

    “I cannot see anything admirable in stupidity, injustice and sheer incompetence in high places, and there is too much of all three in the present administration.”

    I cannot believe I had to hear about this book via some creepy guy at the Japanese grocery store who was trying to get in my pants while I was trying to buy nori. BUT! I still looked it up, and all I can say is, “thank you, guy who compared sex with women to making maki.” (you’re obviously coming from a place of experience–really.) This book is as beautiful as the land it depicts. The words flow like watercolor and dance like the fish in the water. In our limited view of Japan in the West, we tend to over-dramatize, and remark only on things like geishas, tourists, and quirky street style. This book is the perfect counterbalance to the Sailor Moon opinion of most westerners.

    “In the pale light of daybreak the gravestones looked like so many white sails that would never again be filled with wind, sails that, too long unused and heavily drooping, had been turned into stone just as they were. The boats’ anchors had been thrust so deeply into the dark earth that they could never again be raised.” 

    I took a class that dealt with the Harlem Renaissance quite a bit. While Baldwin and jazz were the frontrunners, a lot of the women were left behind. NOT ANYMORE, OH WHITE PROFESSOR DUDE!! This book deals with the realities of “passing,” and what that meant in the 1920s. It also deals with the fact that what is seen is not what is felt. Absolutely beautiful.

    “I was thinking what a little haven a house like this could be; what it must have meant to my mother. Funny how I almost pounded down the walls once upon a time trying to get away. Now I can’t think of anything more marvellous than having such a place as this, here, there, anywhere, to return to.”

    Before Orwell, before Vonnegut, there was Capek. (CHAP-ek.) Worried about the robopacolypse? Zombie apocalypse? Aliens?

    Have you ever considered newts? Big, fucking lizards who can communicate, be trained, and have social structure? What if they turned on us? Terrifying, right? Sometimes satire is equal parts horror and humor, and Capek is the master of that dichotomy.

    “It suddenly occurred to me that every move on the chessboard is old and has been played by somebody at some time. Maybe our own history has been played out by somebody at some time, and we just move our pieces about in the same moves to strike in the same way as people have always done.”

    Trust me, I hate me as much as you hate me for putting a Cormac McCarthy book on this list. But, honestly, this novel is so stylistically breathtaking that it is akin to swallowing a world whole, and having it projected into your psyche in a realm of colors which you’ve never before seen.

    It deals with life in the margins of society in a way that makes it utterly reasonable to the reader. As if one might say, “hey, life on a POS houseboat sounds kinda romantic!” And later making the same reader think, “I love showers and the clean smell of not living on a fucking houseboat.”

    “Hard weather, says the old man. So let it be. Wrap me in the weathers of the earth, I will be hard and hard. My face will wash rain like the stones. ”

    This novel. This novel You will sob on the train, in your office, while you’re running. You’ll bring it up at random points, just to tell someone about it. You won’t be able to stop yourself. Just when you think you’ve read every Civil War novel there is to read, there is this. I’ve never felt more transported by a slave narrative than I have by reading this.

    “It was skin, she decided. Only skin. And it had no power to add or subtract or otherwise alter her fundamental understanding of her own self.”

    This is exactly what satire should be. Biting. Controversial. Pointed. It strips away all pretense of neutrality, and makes mockery of Soviet life. Bulgakov’s ability to weave the fantastic with the banal, sending readers into a whirlwind of realization, is astounding.

    “Punch a man on the nose, kick an old man downstairs, shoot somebody or any old thing like that, that’s my job. But argue with women in love—no thank you!”

    Yes, this book is intended for children, some of the very best books are. This book surrounds a pair of orphans–as many novels do, but the uniqueness is in the magic of the story. The descriptions of objects and setting nearly anthropomorphizes the inanimate to draw them into the warp and weft of the narrative. Heartbreaking and hopeful, this book is a work for any age–not just middle grade.

    “Ruby Holler at night can be an eerie, dark place, full of shadows and silence, but both the shadows and the silence are deceptive.”