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Books & Comfort Food Pairings. As we’ve mentioned earlier this week in our Self-Care Links post, many of us are struggling and still in shock with the U.S. election results.

Books & Comfort Food Pairings

We listed some calming activities and now we’re moving onto reading and eating, two of our favorite things! Below are a couple recipes for comforting food and drinks, plus some reading recommendations. Early next week, we’ll also be doing a post on ways to get involved whether it’s through donations or volunteer work. Amanda: I really love this tortellini soup recipe for the slow cooker; I actually made it earlier last week. It’s super easy, though I wouldn’t add the tortellini until the last hour or so, if you prefer your pasta with more of a bite. Reading, Self-Care and Guilt. Awhile back I wrote a post on my journey to get a diagnosis for chronic pain, on being dismissed by the medical community at large and about how I relied heavily on romance novels during that time to cope with fear and depression.

Reading, Self-Care and Guilt

I’m doing much better in the three years since my diagnosis–partly due to prescription medication (formerly outrageously expensive prescription medication) and partly due to my having a better understanding and acceptance of how my body works and what it needs. One of the first conversations I had with my rheumatologist was regarding self care, the importance of recognizing when your body is waving a red flag at you and begging you to slow down, so that you can intercede before you hit a wall. Self care is, and has been, the most difficult part of having a chronic condition for me because it often comes with a large serving of guilt–am I being lazy? Am I somehow doing less than other people? Self care for me also always involves reading. Guest Post: A Reader's Feminist & Her Favorite Romances. NB: Tanvee sent me this essay because, as she put it, she “wrote a sort of rambling piece on why I love romance novels and how they help me feel more connected to my feminism, and I would love to share it,” and would I be interested?

Guest Post: A Reader's Feminist & Her Favorite Romances

HECK YES I AM INTERESTED. I love the ways in which romance shapes us as readers and as women, and how individual books can have a significant and enduring effect on how we see the world. So please welcome Tanvee. So this is not really a book suggestion, although I do have some suggestions along the way. Guest Post: Petticoats and Poison Apples - Romance and Fairy Tales.

This guest post is from Ellen, who studied folklore and mythology and has Many Thoughts about the myriad intersections between romance fiction and fairy tales.

Guest Post: Petticoats and Poison Apples - Romance and Fairy Tales

This is a longer entry that covers a brief history of fairy tales and how they’ve evolved, and then moves on to a bounty of fairy tale retelling romances to recommend. Thanks, Ellen! Few phrases are more culturally loaded than “Once upon a time.” It’s the universal cue in the Western world: a fairy tale is about to begin. Smart Bitches Hanukkah Party, Part Four. On the fourth night of Hanukkah, Smart Bitches gave to me…. books, more books, yarn and tea!

Smart Bitches Hanukkah Party, Part Four

Elyse is sharing her yarn stash and her favorite loose tea, along with a mixed bag of books to keep you knitting, reading, and sipping tea well into the new year. I know many of you have really enjoyed Elyse’s knitting patterns, so this might be a good opportunity to try one – but if you’ve made them already, she’ll be including a Ravelry pattern with the prize as well.

Ready to enter? No needles required! Here are the spiffy particulars! Burnt Out vs. Moving On: Subgenres We Don't Read As Much Anymore. Recently Amanda commented internally that she used to read a ton of historicals, but that she hadn’t reached for or even considered one for awhile.

Burnt Out vs. Moving On: Subgenres We Don't Read As Much Anymore

This got me thinking about genres that I used to adore and read like I was starving and had an unlimited supply of those chocolate covered fruit snacks from Brookside. Figuring out what I used to read isn’t difficult; I’m packing up most of my possessions and donating at least a third of them. Parting with some paperbacks is much, much easier than parting with others, especially when I ask myself, “Is it worth it to pay a company to move this for you, or would it be better to say goodbye now?” Pets We Adore in Fiction and Fact. We at the Pink Palace love pets in fiction (they are so very convenient, and require no cleanup, yet are always available for snuggles) and in real life (they are messy and expensive and yet we adore them, although I personally adore mine less when they barf on the carpet).

Pets We Adore in Fiction and Fact

Pets are memorable in romances, too. They tell you everything you need to know about a character. Does the scary highwayman who tells the heroine that he has no heart show great (platonic) affection to his horse? Does the woman who doesn’t believe in love find herself adopting a traumatized stray dog and sleeping with it (again, platonically) at night? Pets can bring the couple together, create conflict between them, and bring them together again. RedHeadedGirl's Research Kitchen: An Introduction. I go on and on about using research to add texture and layers of realism to writing, and (for me at least) that’s never more relevant than in historicals.

RedHeadedGirl's Research Kitchen: An Introduction

I do historical re-enactment with the Society for Creative Anachronism which is a medieval/renaissance group, and one of the things I am the most into in the SCA is historical cooking. Sarah asked if I would be interested in doing a regular feature on historical cooking, which I jumped on. To start off, I thought we could talk about how to research food and the different levels of accuracy you can strive for.

Later on, we’ll talk about different eras of cooking and try out some recipes and see what my process of trying to make a historical recipe come to life is. Sometimes it works! A teacher of mine about 15 years ago described the levels of historical cooking to be like this (this is framed around medieval cooking, but the general idea works). Greetings, PCHH Folks! Today, I’m a guest on an episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour, which is among the best of the NPR podcasts.

Greetings, PCHH Folks!

My inner 13 year old barely kept herself together, I was so excited. Book Expo America Edition. This past week, I decided to finally go to my first Book Expo America.

Book Expo America Edition

Clearly, I’m a masochist. For those who don’t know, BEA is the largest publishing expo in North America. Publishers, media, and everyone in between all pack themselves into the Javits Center in New York for several days and mingle and talk about upcoming books. It’s the closest thing to insanity that I’ve ever seen, and I can’t remember the last time my body has been this sore. The things we do for books. Refuge in Romance.

On Sunday night, there was a shooting at a park near my house. I learned about it when my sister sent me a text message: “Are you home? Did you see the news?” 2014's Sexiest Man Alive: The Bitches Have Opinions. Recently People magazine announced this year’s Sexiest Man Alive. The winner: Chris Hemsworth. I’m rather fond of Chris myself, because he has twinkling eyes, is a great dad, has a fantastic sense of humor in interviews, and by all accounts is a pleasure to work with – just a really great guy. Still, with no offense to Chris (he just adopted a puppy – DUDE), we at Smart Bitches feel that perhaps we should have been consulted on the issue of sexy guys. Are we not romance experts?

We have thoughts. Sizzling Book Club Pick and Giveaway: A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev. I loved this book, I’ve mentioned it on the podcast several times, I wrote about the cover ages ago on Kirkus, AND Jane and I both liked it (which is so rare an event in and of itself I bought more wine just in case the apocalypse was coming and I needed fortifications). Ready for explosions of mayhem and merriment? A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev is on sale today! Giveaway: Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan. Sarah Morgan's Maybe This Christmas comes out next week, and to celebrate the final book in the O'Neil brothers trilogy, we have a giveaway. Yay! We have five print copies, and five digital copies to award, and this contest is indeed open to international residents (where permitted by law).

Reading, The Red Tent and What We Pass On. My professional life is currently in flux–the sort of uncertainty that could lead to something really good, really bad or just very different. I’ve been waiting for The Call, not sleeping, picking at my cuticles obsessively and trying to soothe my stressed-out brain. I’ve been teaching myself to crochet, a Knit Picks box filled with wool sitting next to my feet like a box of comfort. I’ve been reading mysteries where Bad Things Happen but everything is okay in the end. I’ve been reading schmaltzy holiday romance trimmed in LED lights and tinsel and spiked liberally with eggnog. As I was crocheting my fingers blue the other day, I started watching the Lifetime miniseries The Red Tent. Su Sanniang: The Bandit Turned Rebel General. A Note from SB Sarah: In 2015, Carrie will be writing a series for the site called Kickass Women in History, where she’ll profile different forgotten badasses from various periods of time, all of whom kicked ass in various ways.

This is the unofficial first post in that series. Enjoy! Lighting the Flames: A Hanukkah Story. 10 Years of Bitchery: November Retrospective. We’re getting closer to our 10th anniversary in January 2015, so it’s time for another retrospective tour through the most popular content from the past decade. Many thanks to Morgan Doremus from Miss Media for digging through the archives and coming up with all this fun stuff. In April, we looked at the most popular reviews for contemporary romance - which were many of those with low grades – D-, F+ or F. Ritual Repeats. In her review for A Slip of the Keyboard, Carrie talks about how she reads Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather every December. 10 Years of Bitchery: October Retrospective. I’m a few days past the 31st, but there’s still time for another trip down Bitchery Memory Lane to check out some of the most popular reviews, posts, and comment threads in the past ten years of Smart Bitches. As we approach our 10th anniversary in January 2015, I hope you enjoy having a look through the lens of wayback as much as I do.

Many thanks to Morgan Doremus from Miss Media for digging through the archives and coming up with all this fun stuff. In April, we looked at the most popular reviews for contemporary romance - which were many of those with low grades – D-, F+ or F. 10 Years of Bitchery: September Retrospective: Covers and Snark! Susie Felber, Edith Layton’s Daughter, Would Like Your Input on Regency eBook Covers! Over the weekend, Susie Felber, daughter of the late and very awesome romance author Edith Layton, contacted me and many other excellent people (such as Love in the Margins) via Twitter to ask for help – specifically, help with cover images. Six Ways to Get the Most Out of a Scribd Subscription - Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Elyse. Storified Tweets from Library of Congress, and Other Links. After the What is Love? Conference this past week at the Library of Congress, several people asked me to Storify the tweets I wrote as I transcribed as much of the proceedings as I could.

Here you go! The collection of all my tweets can be found online at Storify. Three out of the four sessions are included, as I was on the third panel and thus couldn’t tweet it.