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

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    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)

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    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.)

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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.

    Trick or Treat Yourself.

    Get Series(ous) #13 Lucky #13. If only it was Friday the 13th! But we can pretend, no? Because it so totally fits for the quirky series I’m featuring today.

    The series I’m featuring today is as sweet as the chocolate tootsie roll pops I steal from my unsuspecting children’s Halloween buckets. And it holds much less guilt. (Who am I kidding, I don’t feel a bit guilty for pinching those! I WALKED WITH YOU FOR HOURS, KIDS. I also did your makeup, and opted NOT to bring a flask. YOU’RE WELCOME, children!)

    Also, tootsie rolls and their pops are the sketchiest of Halloween candies. So easily re-wrapped. I’m really like a royal taster on this one.

    This series features all the things I love about a saccharine-sweet easy read: insta-love, high likelihood of untimely death, and interfering old women.

    It’s a series that just sparkles with happy feelings and mirth. If you were looking to find a way to fly to Neverland, this series could be your “happy thoughts.”

    (Hint: it’s a PNR, so happy thoughts could also lead to embarrassing situations in public, if you know what I mean.)

    So, for whom is this series a good fit?

    Let’s say, you’ve recently decided to read a metric ton of Gothic and Victorian novels for an article you’ve been writing, and you CAN’T TAKE ONE MORE FUCKING ALLUSION TO THE BREVITY OF YOUTH OR THE LOSS OF CHILDHOOD IN POVERTY. (It gets old.) You are someone who needs an escape, and really wants to laugh.

    You loved Buffy the movie version. You’re a huge fan of Once Upon a Time, and are really sad that you can’t live in a themed paradise. Your dream job is that of a tour guide on a good ways to die while eating donuts and drinking margaritas, tour.

    Your favorite colors are orange and black.

    Followed closely by purple.

    Your favorite time of year is RIGHT NOW, BECAUSE, DUH, HALLOWEEN.

    Pumpkin Spice Girls is the name of your all kitty girl group tribute band.

    You’re a ton of fun in a 100 pound package.

    You excel at drinking wine in your pajamas after you’ve removed the devil contraption known as a bra.

    fuck this bra o’clock starts now.

    What’s the series?

    What’s the story?

    Welcome to Nocturne Falls, the town where Halloween is celebrated 365 days a year. The tourists think it’s all a show: the vampires, the werewolves, the witches, the occasional gargoyle flying through the sky. But the supernaturals populating the town know better. Living in Nocturne Falls means being yourself. Fangs and all.

     Why did I love it?

    This series is pure, riotous fun. The romance is heartfelt, but admittedly ohsofast. (Not unlike my high school boyfriend.) The storyline is such that it keeps the reader engaged from page 1 to “The End.” That’s difficult to do. I never felt myself beginning to skim the paragraphs, hoping to speed up a slow part or two.

    I love that even though the plot is absolute fantasy, I feel like I knew the characters after reading the books. I feel as though I’d recognize them on the street, and be able to have a fun night with any of them. (Most likely the werewolves, as they have children, and totally understand the “need to be home before bed” thing. A quality that’s so overlooked in werewolves these days, no?)

    And the world. Oh man, the world. I want to live in Nocturne Falls. I want to be able to trick or treat every weekend, and buy enchanted jewelry, and decadent chocolates from a cheerful vampire. I want to hang out with a cranky she-wolf receptionist, and get shakes with gargoyles.

    I want to be able to carve a new jack-o-lantern every week according to my whim.

    Kristen Painter crafts these novels with more than just a natural aptitude for story development and world building. Kristen Painter’s Nocturne Falls is positively double-bubbling over with humor, heart, and howlingly hot storylines.

    4.5 big pumpkins.

    The recipe inspired by the series.

    It had to be chocolate. The heroine in the first book is a chocolate shop owner, and these characters have some serious sweet tooths? fangs? Either way.


    Kristen Painter was nice enough to tweet me her favorite combination of sweet flavors, and she chose a classic.

    Peanut butter and chocolate. You simply can’t go wrong. Therefore, I give you,

    Trick or Treat Yourself Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Cake

    Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Cake


    Trick or Treat Yourself Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Cake

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 30 minutes

    Cook Time: 25 minutes

    Keywords: bake vegan vegetarian cake


      for the cake

      • 6 oz 72% dark chocolate, chopped
      • 4 oz vegan butter stick or butter
      • 1 cup superfine sugar
      • 2 flax eggs or 2 chicken eggs
      • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk heated to 95F (or more, depending on flour’s dryness and if the flax pulls more liquid)
      • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
      • 1 tsp vanilla extract
      • 1 tsp instant espresso
      • 1.5 tsp baking powder
      • 2 cups cake flour
      • .5 tsp salt

      for the fudgy ganache

      • 4 oz 72% dark chocolate, chopped
      • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
      • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (as in Jif, not whole foods)
      • 1 tbsp maple syrup

      additional needs/options

      • non-stick spray
      • chopped nuts


      preheat oven to 350F and spray a 10″ cake pan with cooking spray and set aside.

      in a microwave safe bowl, melt together the butter and the chocolate on high for 45 seconds, stir, repeat in 10 second increments until glossy and melted

      stir in sugar and espresso powder until combined

      add remaining wet ingredients and stir well

      sift in flour a little bit at a time until just combined

      batter should be as thick as a very thick milkshake, if it reminds you of brownie batter or loose dough, add more milk.

      add in salt and baking powder


      pour in prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean

      let cool completely

      for the ganache

      melt the chocolate either in the microwave or on a bain marie

      remove from heat when glossy and melted

      add in peanut butter and stir until glossy and thick

      add in milk, stir

      (it will look weird here, have faith.)

      add in maple syrup and the gloss MAGICALLY REAPPEARS! You’re like freaking Hermione Granger. You’re welcome.

      spread the ganache on top of the cake either in the pan, or overturned onto a plate.

      spread ganache out from the center

      top with crunchy nuts

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      Goddess of Badass.

      Hey guys!!

      To be 100% honest, I am wiped. I have been working feverishly on my own novel and my scholarship that my reading schedule hasn’t been as rigorous as I’d like. It’s making me a wee bit starkers, but I’m still managing about 4 books/week.

      Though my trips to the gym have been spread out a bit more than I’d like, and that’s making me even crazier. I am not simply one who can abide a lack of physical activity. It just doesn’t mesh. I realize that I’m not taking care of myself as well as I should be, and that doesn’t typically end well for anyone.

      But today is the first day of fall. It’s the holiest day on the Hebrew calendar, and it’s Mabon.

      Oh, Mabon! How I tried to understand what the fuck you were when I was a teenage make-believe Wiccan. How I loved the movie The Craft. It celebrated all the things I loved best as a tween/teen. Black clothing, dark lipstick, revenge against bitchy girls, the ability to fly, unattractive jewelry, emo journaling. (Wait, I guess this blog is kind of my new emo journal, is it not? OH WELL. You can take the girl out of her walk-in closet filled with black candles and eighth grade best friend, but you can’t take the black candles and nag champa out of the girl–because that smell lingers.

      This always ended in personal injury.

      (no, seriously. I just ordered some black candles for my Samhain display. Also, white ones. No red, though. That would be tacky. {And they burn pink, not red.}) Also ordered: black gauze, a few candleabrum, skulls, pumpkins, Victorian-style potion bottles, and one stuffed wolf. I’m considering some nifty black light Christmas lights, but haven’t decided. If you’re wondering the look I’m going for…

      Pretty much. Yeah.


      I really love Halloween. It’s one holiday that really brings out the best in people. And by that, I mean, they pretend to be an entirely different person for a few hours. In many cases, a zombie is entirely preferable to that asshole in the History department who talks about the “good ol’ days” pre women’s suffrage. Please, please, eat some brains. 

      As for my costume? I’m not sure, yet, and I’m a bit worried. I’m vacillating between the goddess Scáthach, and Bridget Bishop. I can get away with a lot warmer clothing as Bridget, and for those of you who may not know, Scáthach is the Celtic/Scottish goddess of slaughter, and Bridget Bishop was the first woman executed in Salem, Massachusetts for witchcraft. I love the idea of a badass bitch who trains warriors for battle even as she’s dropping a few kidlets of her own. Her name actually translates to “she who strikes fear.” Which is pretty damned incredible. And Bridget Bishop? Everyone knows her tale, and it’s tragic. However, it serves to remind us all that in the not-too-distant past, our country failed its most vulnerable. The Salem Witch Trials are often referred to in terms of why feminism was able to gain a foothold in the United States, and it remains a crucial point today.

      She Who Strikes Fear vs She Who Was Victim of Fear.

      Both badass.

      If all else fails, I could go as Cersei Lannister or the Red Queen.



      What I’m reading.

      On kindle:
           Pucked by Helena Hunting I may DNF. I have an image that perfectly sums up this entire          book thus far. I actually IG’d it.

      The Old Curiosity Shop Charles Dickens.

      On Scribd.

      Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer

      Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

      On Audible.

      Georgia on my Mind by Marie Force

      Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (for the Captain…and me)

      The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

      Now? FOOOOOOOD. I’m on an umami kick. I’m obsessed with the “fifth flavor.” It’s a lot like The Fifth Element only decidedly fewer leather straps. Love, soy sauce, what’s the difference?! I don’t see one! I give you…. Umami Hummus. (cue angels singing.) It’s how I imagine hummus would taste if my favorite sushi bar started in on the dip train. BTW, they SHOULD. Now that I’m a vegan and all. They should read my mind. Umami Hummus


      Umami Hummus by Cat Bowen Prep Time: 5 minutes Keywords: raw appetizer side snack vegan

      Ingredients (1 large jar)

      • 1, 12 oz bag of frozen edamame, shelled, frozen–thawed.
      • 3 tbsp tahini
      • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
      • 1 tbsp soy sauce
      • 2 tsp prepared wasabi
      • juice of one lime
      • 1 tsp mirin
      • 1 tbsp white miso paste
      • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro


      add all ingredients into a food processor and blend the hell out of it.

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