Amazon is Out of its Hive.

Hold onto your collective asses; it’s my summer “must read” list of 2014.

Must read books for summer.

I’m not going to do what Amazon is doing, and suggest “beach reads,” that should be titled “books if you like to sob so hard in public that your nose becomes a fire extinguisher of mucous, and your eyes are so red you look like you’ve been binge drinking moonshine laced with snake venom.”

Really, The Fault in Our Stars is a beach read? Do you know what sand does to swollen mucous membranes? IT DOESN’T TICKLE. I know this because I once made the mistake of reading A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry at the beach. Over a period of two days I went from a sort of deep ache, to full-blown ugly-cry, sobbing so hard that the straps of my swim suit fell from my shoulders. Being NY, people came over just to see which book could evoke such a public fantod! They, like all masochistic New Yorkers were desperate to read it.

yep. we’re assholes like that.

THE LIST!

2014 sumer reads.jpg

 

From the blurb:
Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?
From the blurb:
An immigrant boy whose family is struggling to assimilate. A middle-aged housewife coping with an imploding marriage and a troubled son. A social worker at home in the darker corners of Las Vegas. A wounded soldier recovering from an injury he can’t remember getting. By the time we realize how these voices will connect, the impossible and perhaps the unbearable has already happened. We Are Called to Rise is a boomtown tale, in which the lives of people from different backgrounds and experiences collide in a stunning coincidence. When presented the opportunity to sink into despair, these characters rise. Through acts of remarkable charity and bravery, they rescue themselves.
Impulsive high school senior Monroe Baker is on probation for a recent crime, but strives to stay out of trouble by working as a flapper at her father’s Roaring 20’s dinner show theater. When she cuts herself on one of the spent bullets from her father’s gangster memorabilia collection, she unwittingly awakens Bonnie Parker’s spirit, who begins speaking to Monroe from inside her head.

Later that evening, Monroe shows the slugs to Jack, a boy she meets at a party. He unknowingly becomes infected by Clyde, who soon commits a crime using Jack’s body. The teens learn that they have less than twenty-four hours to ditch the criminals or they’ll share their bodies with the deadly outlaws indefinitely.
 
For years, English anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field studying the Kiona tribe of Papua, New Guinea. Haunted by the memory of his brother’s public suicide, and increasingly infuriated with and isolated by his research, Bankson is on the verge of killing himself when a chance meeting with colleagues, the controversial and consummate Nell Stone and her wry Australian husband Fen, pulls him back from the brink. Nell and Fen have just finished their studies of the bloodthirsty Mumbanyo and, in spite of Nell’s ill health, the couple is ravenous for another new discovery. Together with Bankson they set out to uncover the Tam, a local tribe with an almost mythic existence. As the trio settle with the tribe in their paradisiacal surroundings, inspiration flows and mutual affections swell. In the midst of this new, unchartered territory, Nell, Bankson, and Fen must learn not only to adapt to their invigorating present, but to also confront their complicated and haunted pasts.
It’s Stephen King. It’s worth a read. No blurb needed.
Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
Augusta and Owen have moved to the country, and live a quiet, and rather solitary life, Gus as a painter, Owen as a writer. They have left behind the city, and its associations to a troubled past, devoting their days to each other and their art. But beneath the surface of this tranquil existence lies the heavy truth of Gus’s past betrayal, an affair that ended, but that quietly haunts Owen, Gus and their marriage.

When Alison Hemmings, a beautiful British divorcée, moves in next door, Gus, feeling lonely and isolated, finds herself drawn to Alison, and as their relationship deepens, the lives of the three neighbors become more and more tightly intertwined. With the arrival of Alison’s daughter Nora, the emotions among them grow so intense that even the slightest misstep has the potential to do irrevocable harm to them all.
Therese Walsh’s poignant and mesmerizing novel is a moving tale of family, love, and the power of stories. After their mother’s probable suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz are figuring out how to move on with their lives. Jazz, logical and forward-thinking, decides to get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia, who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights, is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother’s unfinished novel to say her final goodbyes and lay their mother’s spirit to rest.

Though they see things very differently, Jazz is forced by her sense of duty to help Olivia reach her goal. Bitter and frustrated by the attention heaped on her sunny sister whose world is so unique, Jazz is even more upset when they run into trouble along the way and Olivia latches on to a worldly train-hopper. Though Hobbs warns Olivia that he’s a thief who shouldn’t be trusted, he agrees to help with their journey. As they near their destination, the tension builds between the two sisters, each hiding something from the other, and they will finally be forced to face everything between them and decide what is really important.
Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn’t exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence. Before he disappeared into anonymous retirement, he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation.

But that book will come back to haunt him. It will help NYPD detective Ben Bradley track him down. And it will take him to a rundown New York hotel room where the body of a woman is found facedown in a bath of acid, her features erased, her teeth missing, her fingerprints gone. It is a textbook murder – and Pilgrim wrote the book.

What begins as an unusual and challenging investigation will become a terrifying race-against-time to save America from oblivion. Pilgrim will have to make a journey from a public beheading in Mecca to a deserted ruins on the Turkish coast via a Nazi death camp in Alsace and the barren wilderness of the Hindu Kush in search of the faceless man who would commit an appalling act of mass murder in the name of his God.
When the gutted body of a businessman is discovered in the Icelandic embassy in Berlin, Iceland’s best detectives are sent to Germany to investigate the crime. The stab wounds and the murder weapon—an elegant hunting knife—suggest a ritualistic killing. But the only suspects present in the sleek modern office building were some of the island nation’s cultural elite, including Jón the Sun Poet and ceramics artist Lúdvík Bjarnason. The victim is someone few would miss, and investigators Birkir and Gunnar, joined by forensics expert Anna Thórdardóttir, wager they have an open-and-shut case on their hands. What they find is anything but: The crime reeks of premeditation and vengeance, and leads the team into a sordid tale of international child abuse, arson, and retribution.
 On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

It’s going to be a good summer, I can tell.

Apart from reading, which I am sure to do every day, I’m really looking forward to getting the man into the water to teach him how to row. It’s a wonderful warm-weather sport, and sculling down a river at daybreak is one of my all-time favorite things to do. For more information, or to find a row club in your area, check here.

Rowing not only burns an INSANE 700 calories per hour, it also engages nearly every muscle in your body, leaving it feeling pleasantly spent. Fair warning: watch what you wear. I once spent a several mile row with a split-seat and had no idea. Stretch is best. Unless you like everyone seeing your ass.

I’ll also be making EVERY DESSERT EVER with delicious and seasonal ingredients.

like this one.

Spicy-Sweet Peach and Cornbread Cobbler.

This recipe uses something I almost never use….A MIX. Yes, a MIX. I know, shudder, right? In this case, the mix is simply better. There must be some devil-juju-mystic shit going down in the self-rising cornmeal mix, because it’s awesome. Use it.

This recipe makes a metric fuckton of cobbler. If, say, your family is from West Virginia, and eats cobbler like it’s their damned job, make the whole recipe…and add ice cream. If you’re normal. Halve it, and use a 9″-9″ square or 10″ round pan.

I also do not peel the peaches. I love the rich, pink color the skin adds.

spicy-sweet peach and cornbread cobbler 14448218765_e1a7118d8a_z 14448219785_d356b92fb6_z

 

 

Spicy-Sweet Peach and Cornbread Cobbler

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour

Keywords: bake dessert side snack

Ingredients (serves 12-16)

    for the topping

    • 2 cups self-rising cornmeal mix
    • 4 tbsp bacon fat or butter
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • corn from 2 ears
    • 1 cup milk

    for the peaches

    • 4 pounds sliced, fresh peaches
    • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/3 cup sifted flour
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1/2 stick ice cold butter, chopped into small cubes

    Instructions

    preheat oven to 375F

    grease 13″-9″ pan

    toss peaches with spices, flour, sugar, vanilla, and butter

    evenly spread in pan

    mix together cornmeal mix ingredients and pour evenly over peaches

    bake until brown and bubbly–about an hour

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