Let’s Pretend It Isn’t Over…

This post is best introduced with a gif.

Why is that? Because last Tuesday, the final book in my favorite series since Nancy fucking Drew was released.

It was….Well, I thought the waiting would be the hardest part. Two years between releases for someone like me–someone who needs schedules and immediacy like congress needs Viagra–it’s hard. (harder than congress on viagra.)

I thought I’d adequately prepared myself for the end. I was head over heels in love with the first two books, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night, reading each at least three times. In fact, I re-read them just recently in preparation for the final book.

While awaiting The Book of Life, I tried to read other books which people told me were similar in feeling to my beloved series, but they were never right. Reading them was nigh torturous. I suspect it was my due for my lèse majesté.

You think you can just replace me???!!!!

I’m going to try to keep my review spoiler-free, but it’s nearly impossible. I suggest/implore/demand you read this series before this review. Otherwise, scroll down for the food.

Culling together my feelings about this series, and this book specifically, is difficult. I shall endeavor to supply you with adequate words representing the tentacles of memory that this story has gripped and blended across my mind.

The Book of Life: In Paradisum.

If you’ve read my blog any length of time, you realize that my life is a sort of trichotomy of interests and occupation. The Mother, The Artist, and The Academic. I am by no means the only woman with significant scholarship to contain such a trifecta, but until Diana Bishop, the women of academia were as overlooked in fiction as they are in real life. Yes, since the release of DOW, we’ve seen authors like Penny Reid (another female author of notable scholarship) tackle the ins-and-outs of navigating a personal life while maintaining a learning lifestyle; but Deb Harkness was one of the first authors whose works I read that did this with such grace and talent. (Diana Gabaldon being the other.)

*aside: when I first read DOW and found out that Diana was a rower, particularly of sculling, I set upon a peal of giddy laughter that frightened my fellow gym-goers.

In this final installment of the All Souls Trilogy, we pick up right where we left off in the end of Shadow of Night.  Everyone is present and accounted for, and the three factions: witches, vampires, and demons are more engulfed in war than ever before. From the start, you can see things are going to come to a very bloody end.

Matthew’s son is stacking a staggering number of bodies, and Diana’s power has jettisoned into the stratosphere. All the while, The Congregation has shown its true colors as the racist, power-hungry body that it is.

This book contains so many twists and turns that it often feels as though you’re being ushered violently through a cyclone of information and emotion. Past mixes with present mixes with future in this beautiful conflation of a story. The romance is somehow both sweeping and understated. The reader aches for Diana and Matthew, but there is so much more going on besides their epic forbidden love affair, that it never becomes unbearable.

There is nary a bit of downtime to be had. One inaugurates the the first chapter with held breath and eager anticipation, and when the book reaches its end; the reader is at once thrilled at such a satisfying ending and esurient for more of the tale to be told.

The strangest thing about the All Souls Trilogy is that, while it’s decidedly paranormal, there is so much truth in the historical and scientific aspects of the storytelling, the magic and wonder become secondary. It reads as a warning against the mostly-apocryphal tales told to us by close-minded predecessors. It also serves to elevate the problems with retaining an antediluvian order or set of statutes. [read: witches can't marry vampires, and you also cannot go whale hunting on a Sunday in Ohio.]

I haven’t loved a series this much in a very, very long time. It may be because my current scholarship is in Comparative Literature: The Story of the Bedarche People (as passed down through oral folklore, textiles, and petroglyphs.)  And her historical and lit/science heavy writing is fascinating to me, but honestly, I think I fell in love with a strong protagonist who was strong enough to out-maneuver the impossible.

Five HUGE HUGE fucking stars.

Now? The food.

This recipe was inspired not at all by the book. I just wanted something yummy whilst I read.

Moscato and Roasted Plum Frozen Yogurt.

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Moscato and Roasted Plum Frozen Yogurt

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: freeze overnight

Keywords: saute dessert dairy-free gluten-free paleo vegan vegetarian soy-free nut-free

Ingredients (4-8 servings)

  • 1 quart plain greek yogurt (greek coconut yogurt works, greek soy does not.)
  • 1 cup moscato
  • 4 medium plums, skins ON, diced
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp culinary lavender (optional, but AWESOME. rosehips also good, just use less)
  • 1 package knox gelatin (again, optional, but it really does help the fixing process.)

Instructions

combine plums, moscato, vanilla, and maple syrup in a saucepan on medium

bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, reduce liquids by 2/3.

let cool about 50% stir in gelatin

let cool completely

stir together remaining ingredients

freeze overnight or place in an ice cream maker.

serve with a glass of port or moscato or tea.

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A Prince, His Goat, and Rush Limbaugh

Have you ever experienced a sort of pervicacious ennui that feels as though it’s dragging you down a rabbit hole filled with “just don’t give a damn?” I feel as though I’m stuck there right now, and I need to find some tea cake or magic potion labeled “drink me” to peel back the threat of The Nothing that’s encroaching.

It’s as though every fuck I have to give has been taken by the fuck-stealer.

*Also, “fuck-stealer” is either going to be a new sort of sub-genre pornomance novel, (like this) or perhaps a new creature which was previously unknown to medieval historians,  found in a beastiary buried with a partially-mummified British prince and his trusty goat.*

I always hear people droning on about the value of boredom, but I am certain, that for some people, that is a complete crock of shit. People like me, disruptive types¹ with rampaging ADHD that borders on next-level batshit. For us, boredom is a very bad thing. As an adult, I’m fairly good at devising ways to occupy my time to keep me sane, (endless hours of exercise, research, and reading) but it can still lead toward some, shall I say, interesting things? Take for instance yesterday, I was having a very average day, and during that very average day, I was listening to an audiobook, plaiting my hair; and like The Nothing that crept upon Fantastica, I was hit squarely in the chest with The Nothing. So what did I do?

I Facebook stalked people I hated in High School. Like a freaking spurned lover, I eagerly tore through their pages, looking for what they “liked”–Rush Limbaugh? Really? I’m relatively certain that even his mother thinks he’s a rank assbag with a megaphone–where they live, how they spend their time. All of that. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t looking for ways to feel superior to those who once made me feel so inferior. It took a great deal longer than it should have to admit this was a stupid exercise in which to engage. Their lives and their successes and failures hold absolutely no meaning in mine, so why bother? I am no Pretty Woman frosty-pink lipsticked prostie to go back and throw my meager successes in their faces. –Not only because telling them that I’ve been in academia in some form or fashion for *cough* years seems less like a brag and more like a prison sentence when said aloud.

Shankaracharya, in his commentary of the Bhagavad Gita writes: “Self-knowledge alone eradicates misery.” I think Facebook stalking is the very opposite of this sentiment. Unless I’m learning that I’m quite the noxious character, given to fits of temporary insanity. Eradicate misery? Nah, facebook looks at that misery, undresses that bitch, and has its nasty way with it. I’m no ontologist to decipher the mysteries of the self, but I know what I perceive in the mirror.

Why on earth I’d let boredom lead me to the black-hole of social media, I’ll never know. Do you see what I mean? Boredom is dangerous. I will take four hours of researching the historical significance of the gifts Henry VIII gave each wife, and then going for a run, over that nonsense any day of the week.

(nothing says “I love you, but still may have you beheaded” like gold gilt!!)

**footnote¹: the handful of my former professors who follow my blog, are all readily nodding their heads at my “disruptive” comment.

Thankfully, the very act of penning this post, and getting it out there, in words, seems to set a lumos charm upon my ennui, at least for now.

I’ve also decided to come up with new baking recipes for the rest of the day. Healthy ones. There might be a crumble or buckle involved. For now, how about a crepe suzette cake?

I’m not going to lie, while this cake is a “no bake” recipe, you will be at the stove for a solid 45 minutes (at least) making the crepes. What this recipe has going for it–aside from being delicious–is panache. This cake has STYLE. In a traditional Crepé Suzette, the crepe is topped with tangerine juice, and dressed with a Grand Marnier and caramelized-sugar sauce. In my version, there is zest in the crepes (lemon and lime, because, summer) and there is sugar brûlée between every layer. If you want the liqueur, may I suggest a sidecar??

Crepe Suzette Cake
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Here is Alton Brown showing you how to make one. Just use my recipe. Also? I find it easiest to use a 10″ offset spatula to flip it.

Crepe Suzette Cake

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Keywords: fry no bake blender breakfast bread appetizer side snack dessert cake

Ingredients (1 cake)

    for the crepes

    • 2 cups whole milk
    • 4 tbsp melted butter
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 1/3 cups AP flour, sifted twice
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
    • zest of one lemon and one lime

    between the crepes

    • about 1/2-2/3 cup sugar
    • a firey implement.

    top the cake

    • powdered sugar
    • lemon and lime wheels

    for the crepe pan

    • a metric ton of butter to cook the crepes in.

    Instructions

    it’s honestly easiest to throw the wet ingredients into a blender and blend, and then sift in and blend in the flour a little bit at a time.

    Let this SIT!! I, like Alton, make mine the night before.

    heat a light skillet or crepe pan (because we all have those, right?!…no) on medium.

    melt a bit of butter, enough to coat the pan

    add 1/3 cup batter to the pan, and using a spatula, spread it into a thin crepe…or twisty-twirl the pan. look at the video I posted, and realize the first crepe NEVER works right.

    make a crepe

    place it on a plate

    add a heaping tsp of sugar to the top of the crepe, coating it as evenly as possible

    using a brulee torch, torch it. (optional, it’s good even if not bruleed)

    repeat this process, layering each crepe and sugar on top of each other until you run out of batter

    let cool

    top with powdered sugar and citrus wheels.

    *this will not keep more than a day and a half. It gets rubbery.

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    Bibliophrenia…It’s a thing.

    Up is down. Left is right. Richard Marx seemingly has a new album…(It’ll never be another “Should’ve Known Better”…the botox prevents him from moving his mouth properly.)

    One thing that hasn’t changed is that I’m still reading an absurd amount of books. I have a crippling fear that I’ll one day have to spend a day without books. It’s irrational, I know. I think it’s ok as long as my books don’t start talking to me through book-mouths and not their words on pages. What would that look like in the DSM? Bibliophrenia? I already have enough DX from the DSM, and I do not need another notch on my crazy-belt. *the other belt with notches will accept one from Michael Fassbender, however.*

     

    I’d like to add that notch for you–with my teeth.

    A book I read recently, I felt I needed to simmer with for a little while before I gave my full-review here at B2B. I did pen a quick review at Goodreads, which you can read here.

    The book? Neanderthal Marries HumanBook 1.5 of the Knitting in the City series.

    Last year, I read and loved this books’ predecessor, Neanderthal Seeks Humanand the other books in the series: Friends Without Benefits and Love HackedI have been anxiously awaiting this installment since it was announced. I was positively twitterpated with glee when I read that Penny Reid had released it early.

    It’s like going to the gym only to realize that only four other people showed up for bodypump class, and you get your favorite spot and barbell.

    Neanderthal Marries Human is everything I’ve come to expect from Penny Reid, and still very surprising. Her books (so far) have been witty and smart sugar-cookies of literature. Yes, they’re essentially contemporary romance novels with happy endings and googly-love eyes, but at the same time, they’re not dumbed down to a specific level of reader. (insert reference to a book with a multiple of five, and non-specific hues of a non-color.) Penny Reid puts out quality books that are enjoyable, accessible, entertaining, and intelligent.

    This book was all of those things, but it was also decidedly more demanding of a reader’s introspection. Getting married is a pretty big deal. The protagonist, Janie approaches the situation with her typical level of pragmatism and skeptic world-view, and Quinn is ready to throw caution to the wind.

    Throughout the book, both Quinn and Janie are forced to reckon their lives together in the present with what may happen in the future, and what, if any, their pasts say about what will or could happen. They’re backed into their own corners and made to face their own insecurities and decide to press on in spite of them.  The thing is, they DO press-on, and it doesn’t feel contrived or forced, or as if they had some sort of “it only happens in books” epiphany. It’s organic and wonderful.

    After you read the book, you feel refreshed and renewed. The subtlety of the “message” of the book, that family is everything–whether it’s the one you’re born with or the one you choose–it matters not which family. It’s about finding your place in that family, and finding that place in yourself, and being okay with that. Both Janie and Quinn grow a lot in this book, and it was great to be able to laugh and empathize with the characters on that level.

    All-in-all, Neanderthal Marries Human is an excellent example of a sequel doing exactly what a great sequel should–it highlights growth and revelation while propelling the storyline forward, entertaining and engaging the reader, and setting up possible questions to be answered in any subsequent titles. It was a highly-engrossing and fulfilling  read with surprising depth and wit.

    Five stars.

    NOW! you need a cocktail. And so does my AWESOME SUPER SPECTACULAR online book club, We Ran, We Read, We Rummed! On Goodreads AND Facebook.

    I call this one, “The Compari.” It’s a sweet and tangy citrus drink with a fun color and bubbly zing.
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    The Compari

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 2 minutes

    Keywords: beverage

    Ingredients (1 drink)

    • 1 1/2 oz Curacao
    • 1 oz Campari
    • 1 tsp superfine sugar
    • 1 1/2 oz seltzer
    • ice

    Instructions

    combine ingredients

    stir with ice

    optional garnish

    grapefruit or lemon wheel

    colored sugar rim

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    Crazy for Crazy Eyes and the Five Best Binge-worthy Netflix Offerings.

    tell me, tell ME, TELL ME…Did you watch season 2 of Orange is the New Black?

    I’m having severe withdrawal symptoms. I’m feeling dizzy. I’m seeing orange jumpsuits in my periphery. I think a gorgeous and tall black woman was following me, giving me bits of wisdom in my dream last night. (I think it was just Erica. I read her killer post right before bed.) Truth be told, I’d not last ten minutes in prison. So I keep my Martha Stewart tendencies limited to organizing my books and making cookies.

    Make cookies, not shanks.  (I’m not against shank-shaped cookies.)

    Season 2 did NOT let me down. I can’t help how much I love Crazy Eyes, and wish I could be her bff/perhaps have her as a case study. It felt like as soon as I pressed “play” on season two, it was 3 am, I was starting to smell, and I’d watched every episode. I think I may have eaten an entire bag of Trader Joe’s popcorn as well. I cannot be held responsible for things that happen when I’m in a Netflix K-hole. In honor of my love of all-things binge-watchy. I compiled a list of the five best binges on Netflix right now!!!

    Five Best Binge-worthy Netflix offerings.

    Now? The food.

    In honor of The Paradise, I’ve made a Britishy breakfast cake with an American twist.

    Peanut Butter Bananaberry Breakfast Cake
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    peanut butter bananaberry breakfast cake

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 20 minutes

    Cook Time: 35 minutes

    Keywords: dessert breakfast bread side snack cake

    Ingredients (serves 8)

      for the cake

      • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or 2 cups AP flour (separated into 1 1/2 cups and 1/2 cups)
      • 2 eggs
      • 2 overripe bananas
      • 2/3 cup sugar
      • 2 tsp vanilla extract
      • 2 tsp baking soda
      • 1/2 cup peanut butter
      • 1/2 cup buttermilk
      • 1 cup blueberries

      for the glaze

      • 1 cup confectioners sugar
      • 1 cup milk
      • 1/2 cup mashed blueberries

      Instructions

      preheat oven to 350F

      toss blueberries with 1/2 cup flour and set aside

      whisk together wet ingredients

      add mashed banana

      fold in dry

      fold in blueberries

      pour into a floured and greased 9″-2″ cake pan

      bake for 30-40 minutes or until browned and a skewer inserted in center comes out clean

      for the glaze

      mix together ingredients

      pour glaze over HOT cake.

      serve.

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

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

      Want to Go Eat Grandma? (Grammar is G-d)

      I’m starting a campaign. I want every blogger, every author, and every writer out there to use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Yes, Grammar Girl and others have done this for years, but apparently, no one is paying attention. I know epublished authors and bloggers read my blog. I know them. I love them. I want them to have the BEST book/blog/manifesto handwritten on toilet paper with the ink made of gin and sorrow, they can have. I’m starting a “grammar tips and tricks and grammar essentials,” series. When we don’t pay attention to our proofreading, myself included, we unconsciously become less-effective authors and creators of content. I am a big fan of the “print and proof” method, but it’s whatever works for you.

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