Well, Maybe We Need Just One More.

Today’s book deserves a few songs:

 

Just hit play and read, at least until you get to the next video.

So a while ago, I saw a tweet from Sierra Dean that intrigued me. It was something like “do you like lady superheroes?” (I’m paraphrasing as I don’t remember exactly.) Then there was a link to a pre-order page on Amazon. I read the blurb and thought, YES, YES I AM INTERESTED, SIERRA DEAN.

So I one-clicked.  I had not read a single book by this author, we simply follow each other on twitter. But the blurb got me. I am so glad it did.

What was it?

The cover is fab, right?

ok, here’s the blurb.

The city of Gold Bay once had a great champion in local superhero Apollo. But after his brutal defeat at the hands of The Scourge, the citizens have been left to the villainous whims of a madman.

When young reporter Rebecca “Bex” Beckett returns home to care for her sick father, the last thing she expects is his request that she play caretaker to his shut-in employer, Camden Nash. Cam is not the same man Bex remembers from ten years earlier. Once a pinnacle of society, he is now a broken shell of his former self. Yet something is simmering between them.

As Bex becomes interested in the elusive mayor of Gold Bay, Simon Nerezza, Cam must rally to become the hero he once was in order to protect Bex from Nerezza’s dark past. But Bex is no damsel in distress. She has a trick or two up her own sleeve, and things in the city on the bay are about to get super hot.

Give it to me straight.

OMG!! THIS WAS SO FUN!!

In my head, Bex was a combo of these three:

Untitled design (3)

Bex is a take-no-shit reporter with kickass abilities, a desire for justice, and a real sparkling personality.

And Cam? He’s super swoonworthy.

But the story. The story. It felt like great pulp/pop fiction with great romance and action thrown in. Somewhat Dashiell Hammett, somewhat Perry Moore, but unique at the same time. Sierra Dean is definitely someone to watch. She gives such importance to the details. For instance, the love interest is a paraplegic, and Ms Dean really gives it the gravitas it deserves. (yes, that.)

Also, because it’s a “period” novel, (insofar as it can be) there’s not the technology that tends to serve as a plot propeller in so much fiction right now. She’s true to the middle of the twentieth century, and it’s a great departure from what I’ve been reading. It’s not high-fantasy, it’s urban fantasy–with a twist.  Picturing the characters out at a tiki bar, or serving something in a jello mold is completely within the realm of possibility. The sex is more forward, but even though they aren’t in the twenty-first century, we are.

However, the romance is a slow burn (pun intended). It gives the readers time to adjust to the couple as individuals before they become a cohesive unit. This results in each character being more interesting and fully-developed, even in a novel as short as this one. It also provides time in the narrative to bring on the other action, and lead up to the reveal of the big bad.

Speaking of the big bad. The Scourge is a smoky sort of villain, with an extremely high creep factor. He’s a great supervillain with a distinctly terrifying superpower. I think when Ms Dean was creating him, she sort of said “what’s the WORST thing someone could do to you?” and The Scourge was born. It’s a quite power, but…

We Don’t Need Another Hero is a perfect afternoon read full of tense action, steamy romance, and a story that leaves you wanting more.

I really hope Sierra Dean brings back Bex and Cam in future installments, as I just can’t imagine this being a standalone.

four point five stars.

Amazon • Nook

And now…

Recipe, Please!

Review: We Don't Need Another Hero by @SierraDean Recipe: Spicy Morning Matcha Tonic. Click To Tweet

Ok, so they DO eat in this novel, and a very important scene happens at a restaurant, but I didn’t want to go that route. Bex is too cool to be conventional. In my imagination, we’d be a team of super-sleuths! (also, I would be able to fly AND regerate a la Deadpool.) So I thought about it.

Bex is pyrokinetic. So, of course, she’s going to love spicy food. She is also a superhero fighting to rid the world of enemies seen and unseen. She needs to start her day right.

She’d be down for a tonic.

What IS a tonic?

noun

1.

a medicine that invigorates or strengthens:

a tonic of sulphur and molasses.

2.

anything invigorating physically, mentally, or morally:

His cheerful greeting was a real tonic.
I’m just using the word to describe a bevvy that’s not quite a latte, not quite a smoothie, but a good-for-you, on the go, pick-me-up drink!
I love matcha. LOVE.  But it has A LOT of caffeine. So, it’s really a morning drink. Not that I listen to that suggestion…but still. It has a flavor that is smoky and bitter and lends itself to sweetening and to the addition of milk. This recipe is vegan, spicy, sweet, and will get you going.
spicy morning matcha tonic spicy morning matcha tonic

Spicy Morning Matcha Tonic

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Keywords: beverage cocktail vegan vegetarian soy-free paleo

Ingredients (1 tonic)

  • 1 tsp matcha powder
  • 12 oz coconut milk (from the can)
  • 1 oz apple juice concentrate or 3 tsps honey
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 kiwi, peeled

Instructions

add all ingredients to a blender with 2 ice cubes and blend until smooth, this will take a bit–that matcha is stubborn.

serve over more ice.

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Reformed Scrumbags.

OH HAIIIII! I’m back.

(I turned in my book. I finished edits. BOOOOOOM!)

Welcome back!

OK, moving on. FIRST. a personal update.

I have been really depressed lately. Yes, I know this is redundant as I suffer from clinical depression, (major depressive disorder if you were wondering) once again, just like this time last year, my body has decided to be a real asshole.  I’m exhausted, I’m sad, I’m overwhelmed with life, and that’s not a good place to be. I feel like I’m failing my friends and family, and barely hanging in there with my scholarship. Normally, I force myself to be so driven, so precise, that I have my days planned down to the minute.

I don’t even know where my planner is.

And I can’t be bothered to care.

When I was in a particularly bleak period, I deleted every piece of fiction I’ve written in two years.

Every.piece.

Because, depression lies. It tells you you’re crap. It tells you that everything you’ve done is crap. It’s dark and lonely, and it tricks and taunts.

I’ve gained weight, and I can’t get my mind around caring enough to stick to a plan to fix that. That’s gotta end because I’ll just get darker if I don’t.

So, to put it lightly, I’m struggling. When I lie down at night, it feels like a vortex of black is sucking me into my own mind. I’m deaf, but it’s like I can hear each and every tick of my clock that is just taunting me, telling me I’m wasting my time. How? I have no idea, but that is what it says.

Essentially, I feel like this right now:

So, if I’ve been absent, know I’ve been trying. I have a plan, I’m going to try to stick with it. Because I hate feeling lost, and that’s exactly how I feel.

So when it came to what I want to review today, I was vacillating between Penny Reid and LH Cosway, Grace Draven, and Sierra Dean.

I went with The Player and the Pixie by Penny Reid and LH Cosway, because their MC has her own issues.

They’re a far piece different from mine, but they’re still issues.

First, here’s the blurb:

THE PIXIE
Lucy Fitzpatrick doesn’t like rugby.
As the little sister of Ireland’s most infamous rugby player, Lucy can’t seem to escape the championship-sized shadow cast by her big brother, or her mother’s frequent attempts to micromanage her future. Her rainbow hair is as free-spirited as her quest for inner peace, yet overbearing expectations keep bringing her down. And when she’s down, her compulsive little problem lands her in seriously big trouble.

THE PLAYER
Sean Cassidy is a cold-hearted brute… or so he’s been told. Frequently. By everyone.
His blonde locks, baby blues, and rock hard bod make ladies the world over drool with desire. As the rugby world’s second most infamous player, he should be basking in his success. But Sean has never been content settling for second place, and his frequent confrontations with Lucy’s big brother leave him cold. And when he’s cold, his compulsive little problem lands him in the lap of Lucy Fitzpatrick.

THE PLAN
Sean has a problem only Lucy can solve. Lucy has a problem only Sean can fix. The solution seems obvious: you scratch my back, and I’ll bail you out of jail. But when their business arrangement unexpectedly leaves Sean scorching hot and Lucy on the precipice of inner peace, can they convince the world—and Lucy’s big brother in particular—that this is the real deal?

Either way, both the Player and the Pixie are about to teach each other some pretty monumental lessons about family, life, but most importantly, love.

Give it to me straight.

As per usual, Penny Reid and LH Cosway knock this out of the park. I always go into either of their catalog expecting great things, and I’m never disappointed. Penny Reid’s books tend to be sweeter and sort of have the feeling of freckles and margarita filled evenings with friends, and LH Cosway’s tend to read a bit more sturdy tartan flannel *that has a pink silk lining* and tea with whisky. Together, they marry really well.

If we’re going to continue on Cat’s fucked up metaphor train, I’ll say that The Player and the Pixie feels like swinging with your best friend at a mist-filled playground, drinking lemonade and moonshine. In a word–ideal.

Each character is completely unique and full. The two authors spent the time to care about each action, reaction, gesture, and bit of dialogue. The narreme is so tight, that it’s as though the central issue driving the plot is a guitar, and LH Cosway and Penny Reid are Eric Claptoning the fuck out of it. I wanted desperately for the protags to get beyond their problems, because it felt like if they could–I can. I know that is so fucking trite for me to say, but literature exists for a reason, and if providing a light in a dark period isn’t one of them, I don’t know what is.

tPatP never feels like a morality play, like the authors are finger wagging at anyone’s illness. Instead, it just feels honest, it feels real, and it felt good to read.

I can’t recommend it highly enough, and, if like me, you find yourself struggling a bit, this is a very nice diversion.

The Player and the Pixie

Amazon • Nook

And now, the food.

BOOK REVIEW! The Player and the Pixie by @LHCosway and @ReidRomance and QUICK AND EASY lo mein. Click To Tweet

Recipe, Please!

I was at a loss as to what to cook for this. So I went with a theme. Quick and easy. Just like Sean.

Quick and Easy Lo Mein

quick and easy lo mein quick and easy lo mein quick and easy lo mein

 

Quick and Easy Lo Mein

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: stir-fry side entree vegetarian vegan

Ingredients (serves 4)

    the noodle and veg mix

    • 1 lb lo mein noodles (linguine is fine)
    • 2 red peppers, sliced
    • 1 large onion, sliced
    • 3 oz shittake mushrooms, sliced
    • 6 oz green beans, trimmed
    • 2 tbsp garlic, chopped
    • 1 tbsp ginger, minced

    for the sauce

    • 3 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 tsp tamari
    • 1 tsp sriracha
    • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1/4 cup water

    for the toss

    • 3-4 tbsp coconut oil

    Instructions

    boil the noodles to al dente, two minutes before they’re done, add green beans. drain.

    in a wok or large skillet on medium

    heat oil

    add shitake and saute until soft

    add onion and garlic and ginger

    saute until soft

    turn off the heat

    add remaining ingredients

    sauce

    in a separate bowl, combine all sauce ingredients

    combine

    toss everything together

    eat.

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    Je Suis Prest. *for real.

    So I imagine that most of my readers are fairly chomping at the bit for the season premiere of Outlander this Saturday, right? I mean, most of us have read the series, and probably LOVED the series. And,

    OMG THE DRESSES!!

    Can you even? Blah blah blah, men in kilts. blah blah blah. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DRESSES.

    Let’s be honest, Claire is the star of the show. She’s the star of the books, really, I mean, until Voyager. But Caitriona Balfe and her amazing alabaster skin, the miles of porcelain that seems to live between her chin and the really rather deep cleavage of these dresses makes me swoon something fierce. And turn a few shades of green. I’m as pale as she, but my skin looks like a freckled Scottish beach compared to her creamy complexion.

    ALRIGHT, I’LL PUT IT ON. Will it help?

    So in anticipation of this bumroll and cage of awesome. I’m introducing you scamps to a book about the history of the time that all this shit went down.

    Ok, much to all of our chagrin, Claire Fraser isn’t really waltzing through standing stones and announcing her presence on the other side like so much diva fabulousness,

    but the battle of Culloden was quite real, I assure you, and it was just as deadly as it was described.

    The blood stained earth remains, standing guard to the memories of the tragically doomed uprising of the poor, hungry Scots determined to hang onto whatever scrapes of freedom to which they still clung.

    The book is…

     

    The blurb:

    Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, was the last of the great Scottish chiefs – and the last nobleman executed for treason. Determined to seek his fortune with the exiled Jacobite king in France, Fraser acted as a spy for both the Stuarts and the Hanoverians; claimed to be both Protestant and Roman Catholic.

    In July 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie launched his last attempt to seize back the throne, supported by Fraser and his clans. They were defeated at Culloden. Fraser was found hiding in a tree.

    This swashbuckling spy story recreates an extraordinary period of history in its retelling of Fraser’s life. He is surely one of Scotland’s most notorious and romantic figures, a cunning and ambitious soldier who died a martyr for his country and an independent Scotland.

    My thoughts:

    This book is a well told and dense text full of unexpected bits of information about a man who is nearly forgotten by history. We are always regaled with the tales of the martyrs who lead their men to victory, but hardly ever are we given insight to those who lost more than just their breath.

    This is the story of a struggling Scotland, rising up against an un-defeatable enemy, the odds overwhelmingly in favor of the Brits, fighting until the life shed from their bodies and into the eternal earth beneath them. In Fraser’s words you can almost hear the echoes of battle cries from the parched throats of the starving soldiers, screaming in Gaelic and the soul-wrenching language of the dying. You shout with their small victories and sob in their loss. It’s a tough read because the situation was that of hard places and rocks and distant hopes where never the twain shall meet.

    More than that, it’s the story of a now silent hero who deserves the years of history and praise he’s missed. For all of his intrigue and double dealings; for all of his valor and heart, and for Scotland.

    You are remembered, Simon Fraser.

    And now?

    Recipe, Please!

    Obviously, it had to be Scottish.

    Cranachan is an oat and whisky dessert tossed with cream and fruit. It’s smoky and sweet and wonderful.

    It is not, however, healthy.

    It’s toasted in butter and served with whipped double cream and whisky. It’s really a delight.

    My recipe is very almost nearly as delightful. It’s full of protein and makes not only a great dessert, but also a great breakfast.

    Healthy Cranachan and The Last Highlander Click To Tweet

    Healthy Cranachan Healthy Cranachan healthy cranachan

    Healthy Cranachan

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 15 minutes

    Keywords: bake vegan vegetarian dairy-free gluten-free kosher tofu

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups scottish oats
    • 1/2 block silken tofu
    • 1/2 cup peanut butter
    • 1/2 cup honey
    • 1 cup chopped nuts
    • 1/4 cup chia seeds
    • 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
    • 2 tbsp maple syrup
    • 2 tbsp whisky
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • cooking spray

    to add in

    • chopped fruit
    • coconut milk or yogurt

    Instructions

    Preheat oven to 375F

    This is simple, add all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and beat it for a few minutes.

    pour into a 9″-13″ greased pan

    bake for 15 minutes

    let cool

    crumble over fruit and yogurt.

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    Knocked Up and Sideways: Ridiculous Tropes in Romance.

    I read a LOT of romance novels. Between blogging about them, sharing in online communities that revolve around them, and desiring a break from the general decrepitude of the world around us, I sort of swim amongst them daily, letting their completely improbable plots wash away the stain of political rhetoric and real-life tediums that typically blanket my skin in a tight, itchy wool. They’re an escape. They’re candy and Ativan. They’re a warm bagel with dripping butter.

    And sometimes, they’re a confetti cream cheese filled tie-dye bagel that looks like a good idea at the time, but something you immediately regret after the first bite.

    Lately, there has been a rash of whatthefuck? romance sub-genres to pop-up and confuse the ever-loving fuck out of readers, and inexplicably titillate others.

    Some of them seem tame-ish. Some of them? Well, some of them make my eyes cry tears of no.

    Knocked Up and Sideways

    1st trope:

    “I’m in love with a ghost!!”

    Spoiler! The answer is NO! *at least in this movie.

    This is a tame trope. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy dies tragically. Girl gets to bone ghost…or something similar. The ending…there’s the mess. It’s not like a vamp novel where THEY ARE QUITE LITERALLY UNDEAD. Sure, it’s kinda messy with all the biting and the sunburns, but it’s not like they’re DEAD dead. They’re lowercase dead. Diet dead, if you will. But screwing a specter for all of forever? tricky. Very tricky. TRICKY OR TREATY, AMIRITE? wait. treaty sounds very political. Meh. I’m going with it.

    I’ve liked some of these. They really require the author to think outside the box. HP Mallory, JR Ward, and Kresley Cole have all done it with a fair amount of success. It can be really interesting or fun depending on how it’s written. But sometimes? It’s a real head-scratcher.

    Next trope:

    This one is also pretty tame as far as “offensive or weird” goes, but it’s irritating all the same.

    These books are ALL ABOUT GETTING PREGNANT OR GETTING SOMEONE PREGNANT JUST AFTER MEETING THEM ON-PURPOSE. Gah, I am shouting a LOT. I don’t get it. It’s all “I am gonna put my baby in her.” Or, “I’m going to totally fuck him while I’m fertile even though I just met him 49 seconds ago. I’m just a GREAT judge of biker character.” OR, “I’m going to war, I’m going to coat her womb with my baby batter.”–that one is an actual line I pulled from a book. The amount of why, or the amount of “HEARD OF PLAN B, LADIES??!!” Is strong. Plan B. It’s a thing. Walgreens sells it w/o a prescription. Planned Parenthood has it. Get it. Use it. Jumping up and down and a thorough cleaning won’t cut it. PLAN.FUCKING.B.

    NEXT!!

    Banging things that are never fully human. Weres and Vamps, fae and whatnot aside. They might have strange features or whatnot, but they’re HUMANOID. Not weird DNA experiments gone wrong, or you know, GIANT TERRESTRIAL OR EQUINE EXINCT CREATURES, or part-bull all the time. They’re not cavemen or sasquatch or Donald Trump. AND ALL OF THOSE THINGS HAVE BEEN IN A ROMANCE NOVEL. *ok, maybe not Trump, because even head in the clouds/gutter romance novelists know when they’re pushing too far.

    If it’s on American Horror Story, it SHOULD NOT BE IN A ROMANCE NOVEL.

    YET, IT IS.

    I feel like being mounted by a minotaur means that your head is on his wall.

    That doesn’t even look like a real T-Rex.

    That doesn’t even look like a real unicorn.

    Unicorns only ride OTHER UNICORNS. And, judging by this book cover, they ride on the horn. *just for my PSM.

    I don’t understand this subgenre at all. I will admit to reading and LIKING Laurann Dohner’s New Species series. I only stopped buying them because I refuse to give one more dollar to Ellora’s Cave publishing company. But those LIs, even though they have somewhat different facial features, they.are.people. PEOPLE.

    THE NEXT TROPE IS JUST AS BAD.

    Let’s talk about MPREG, shall we? What is MPREG, you ask? Oh, that would be MALE PREGNANCY. And not trans-man pregnancy. A genetically male dude with a dick getting knocked up by another genetically male dude with a dick.

    They give birth, and it’s as horrifying as you think. They BREASTFEED. THIS ALL HAPPENS OMYGAH IS THIS REAL LIFE PEOPLE WRITING THIS SHIT?! This trope bothers me for a few reasons, 1.) It’s primarily written by and for women, yet comes across very anti-woman. Like Michelle Malkin level women hating women. 2.) HOW DO YOU TELL?! If you don’t get a period, what goes awry? This part is never explained particularly well. 3.)This is a romance, fine. Do an M/M, M/F, MMF, MMM, FFF, TFM, basically anything you want. I’ll read and probably enjoy it. But here’s the thing, for all of history women have had essentially one card they can play, and this strips that of any importance whatsoever. It makes women meaningless. Unimportant. It makes us exactly what men have been trying to paint us as for centuries. FUCK THAT. 3.) It trivializes and makes so twee and trite what a FUCKING GATDAM AMAZING MIRACLE PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH AND FEEDING A HUMAN FROM YOUR BODY is. And there is SCORES of this shit. Scores. I read one in anticipation of this post, and I almost threw my ipad. GAH! But I made you a graphic. Just for you. Yes, you, you scamp.

    tommyHyo24SURE

    Now Vampy McPreggleston exists in the world. You may thank me later. I know you’re blown away with my photoshop skills.

     The next sub-genre is so fucking annoying I have a difficult time expressing my feelings about how annoying they are because I start to sound like a republican candidate for president. I just feel a lot about them, ok?

    This is a sub-genre of a sub-genre. I will call it “I was hired to kill her, but I decided to fuck her instead, but I still plan on killing her, and I think I’m in love with her! OH THE RESPONSIBILITY!” That is a very bad name for a genre. It’s mostly to do with a hitman or a navy seal or a vampire hunter or something. Either way, there’s suspense, there’s sex, and someone is definitely screwing and falling for someone they are definitely still supposed to kill or incarcerate forever. I’ll admit, I’ve liked a few of these as well. Mostly the supernatural ones. “I’m a demon, she’s an angel” or “I’m a vampire, and she’s Buffy..” Those sorts. But the “I’m a Navy Seal and he’s a Caribbean drug lord with a really decent heart?” Not into it. nope. not buying it.

    The next one is way out of left field, but makes me smile.

    Of course, it’s Amish erotica. Because I’m hot for buttons?

    Ok, more likely I am all for subverting oppressively patriarchal and insular religious sects with lax forms of punishment issued internally within the community.

    They can raise a barn, and they can also pitch a tent in man’s trousers. HEY-O!

    OK! I’m over 10000000 words. (or just 1k, but, close enough.) ON TO!!!!

    A pregnant Tom Hiddleston? WHAT!? A Dinosaur went where? Too many tamarind grapefruit fizzes. Click To Tweet

    Recipe, Please! You need booze after reading this post.

    The Tamarind Grapefruit Fizz.

    tamarind grapefruit fizz tamarind grapefruit fizz tamarind grapefruit fizz

    Tamarind Grapefruit Fizz

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 3 minutes

    Keywords: beverage

    Ingredients (2 cocktails)

    • 4 oz good tequila
    • 1 oz citron liqueur (grand marnier or the like)
    • 3 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
    • 3 oz tamarind soda (Jarritos)
    • lemon twist
    • candied ginger sprinkle (really finely chopped candied ginger)

    Instructions

    shake all of the ingredients save the soda with ice

    strain over 2 rocks glasses filled with ice

    top with soda, ginger, and a lime or lemon wheel/wedge.

    DRINK RESPONSIBLY.

    (do it at home so no one notices when you take your bra off at the table.)

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