Rock Hard and Rearing to Go.

OMG. You guys, I think I have a thing for befanged grey men. First, it was Brishen in Radiance  by Grace Draven, and now? Daarik from Exile by Colleen Vanderlinden. Maybe I have a statue fetish I’ve not explored? Something about their stoney grace? I have a feeling I know who’s next… It’s the obvious first step into the … Read more…

delicious vegan blueberry mojito cheesecake

It’s Friday, I’m in Love.

I keep telling myself that it’s the end of the week, but it being summer, and me working from home, EVERY DAY IS EVERY DAY. There’s no delineation between one day and the next. But, I bake on Thursday nights if it’s cool enough, so, I do look forward to it. This is because on Friday … Read more…

Life Changing Books on Reader/Eater

Lady in Red.

(read on for foolproof falafel and white sauce!) The Reading: I fully admit that I belong to a fandom or two. I have read and could re-read everything Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Hunter, Octavia Butler, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Daphne duMaurier…and on and on–have written. I never tire … Read more…

seven layer seafood salad

The Scandinavian and The Slav SLAY.

I’m sunburned from festivities this weekend. I’m tired from figuring out how to muster up the motivation to take my kids to school for two more days, and I’m worried about the world being run by an angry lying q-tip, and and angry lying Cheeto. But it was PRIDE!!, and I love love. And I’m … Read more…

Mixed Mollusk Marriage

I felt as though I was waiting all the days forever for this novel.

So, when Grace Draven emailed me and said “wanna read it?” I thought about driving all the way across the country to kiss her full on the mouth.

I thought that might be awkward–and she lives in the South. It’s already hot there. I do not do heat. And wet. It’s wet where she lives. She likes her city like she likes her sex scenes, apparently. I, however, like my cities like I like my villains–or my soul–cold and dark.

But, lucky for the readers, Grace Draven likes her books like she likes real, married sex: fast paced, a bit terrifying, and full of worry about who may come around the corner at any time.

And, unlike real, married sex, her books always have a great finish.

Have I made enough awkward metaphors? At what point do I reach saturation?

Either way, this book lost me my manicure, and then all my nails. I couldn’t stop reading. I stayed up ALL night the night she sent it to me. I slept a whopping two hours before I had to get up and, like, not live in Saggara.

The novel is an edge-of-your-seat fantasy, a beautiful romance, and it hits on some really contemporary topics.

But first, let me give you the blurb:

In a bid for more power, the Shadow Queen of Haradis has unleashed a malignant force into the world. Her son Brishen, younger prince of the Kai royal house, suddenly finds himself ruler of a kingdom blighted by a diseased darkness and on the brink of war. His human wife Ildiko must decide if she will give up the man she loves in order to secure his throne.

Three enemy kingdoms must unite to save each other, and a one-eyed, reluctant king must raise an army of the dead to defeat an army of the damned.

A tale of alliance and sacrifice.

Give it to me straight.

I already told you I loved it, and I told you how great it is, but I also want to tell you why I found it hard to read.

Ildiko and Brishen are an interracial/interspecies relationship. This is a topic I know a lot about, but that’s not why it was difficult. What made it a sort of aching read for me was two-fold:

One: Ildiko is confident, that is never her issue, but she’s suddenly placed in this spot where her husband is elevated into a position where she feels insecure about her own. Anyone who has been in a relationship with someone with a significant difference in income or perceived importance can relate–especially those in the creative fields and/or stay at home moms. It’s difficult to remain grounded in one’s own worth when one begins to see their spouse through the lens of external pressure and achievement. It’s easy to measure raises and rank, and find oneself lacking in comparison, however untrue a comparison that it might be.

Two: a big one. Brishen and Ildiko always knew that they could never have children together. This isn’t easy for any couple, but combined with the outside pressure of their situation, it’s oppressive. I’ve dealt with infertility personally, and this really cut me to the quick. Ms Draven gets it. She just, gets it. The pain. The anger. The despair and resignation, and that fucking hope. That hope you just can’t shake. It doesn’t matter if your wife is Gauri and you are Kai, or if you’re human and your ovaries think they should rattle off like grenades once a year, and your uterus is doing its damndest to invade border territories and start a war. There is a particular scene that gutted me. It’s true and beautiful and crushing. At one point Brishen tells Ildiko:

Eidolon

And there are days, nights, weeks where this is all you have. It’s hard to read, and it also feels strangely necessary. Cathartic.

More than the struggles, more than the action, more than the status, this book is about love making things better. Their love is unique, and I was able to ask Ms Draven about it, here is what she had to say:

Me:Ildiko and Brishen are obviously fantasy, but the comparison could be made to current modern day prejudices toward interracial couples (such as the current Old Navy ad controversy) and in Radiance/Eidolon, it engenders a real empathy for their specific plight, which could possibly correlate to building empathy in the readers, was this intentional, or happy accident?

GD:Happy accident. I think people in general fear what they consider different, and that can be any number of things on multiple levels–from the physical to the cultural and societal. I just went with that basic idea when building their relationship and others’ reactions to it.

That. Exactly that.

I have always believed that fantasy can be a great genre to work out real life issues. Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell, and Octavia Butler come to mind immediately. These are authors whose novels are taught in English classes the world over (yes, they teach English Lit classes in France!!) as a means of opening a dialogue and opening minds. Fantasy romance is often cast aside in favor of war and political themes. Eidolon is the perfect example of why this is so short-sighted. Romances make the reader examine parts of their own psyche that a war narrative will not. It’s important, pedagogically speaking, to examine the psyche as a whole, not just the “proper” pieces of it.

In summary:

Eidolon will make you feel every feeling. All of them. It will also make you think, and satisfy your mind in ways you weren’t expecting.

Five stars.

Review: Eidolon by @GraceDraven Recipe: Avocado-Caesar Deviled Eggs. YUM Click To Tweet

And now?

Recipe, Please!

Ok, so Brishen lost his eye, and his sweaty tea bag of a mum sent him the shriveled eye as a gift. Gross, right? So, of COURSE, I had to make eggs for this, because, we all know that a boiled egg bottom looks like an eyeball. I also made it Caesar-style because:

The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
(read the book and you’ll see how this applies, though, sometimes the good lives in the bones of other men, and the evil sails strongest.)
avocado caesar deviled eggs

avocado caesar deviled eggs

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: appetizer salad side snack

Ingredients (12 egg halves)

  • 6 eggs, hard boiled and halved
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 anchovy or a DAB of anchovy paste
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

optional

  • freshly grated parm and paprika for garnish

Instructions

OMG THIS IS SO EASY.

take the yolks from the halved eggs

put in food pro

add all the other ingredients

puree

pipe evenly into the egg halves

top with parm and paprika.

dive in.

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