Links and Assorted Pleasures

Five words that might save your life: Beware the Chocolate Willy Spread. Anyone else see an erotic suspense novel in the making? She’s trying to hunt down the criminal who poisoned her best friend; he’s the cop who has seen it all… until chocolate-dipped bananas were introduced to the menu.

[Thanks to Becky for the link.]

The BBC hosts a review of The Jewel of Medina by blogger Shelina Zahra Janmohamed, and it tests me sorely to move past her first sentence without putting my fist through the monitor:

The Jewel of Medina is a chest-heaving, brassiere-busting book of outrageously tacky historical romantic fiction.

On one hand, the author makes some valid points. On the other hand, clearly she hasn’t read a lot of romance but relies on those limp standard stereotypes, which makes the rest of her critique tiresome and annoying. Personal Foul: 10 yard penalty to Ms. Janmohamed for use of “bodice ripper.”


If she hadn’t flogged the old dead horse of romance, I would have really celebrated the following section of her review:

What we need for debate and discussion are accessible histories of all the key figures in Islamic history. As Muslims, instead of honouring these individuals blindly, we will accord them much more respect by opening our eyes to their achievements through critical re-examination of their lives. This cannot be done in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

Agreed, ma’am. But while you make a very appropriate point, you do yourself a grave discredit by couching your argument with the weak analogy that it’s as “bad as a romance novel.”

[Thanks to Evaine for the link.]

Checking in with the romance craft world, we have a romance novel fragrance on Etsy, with a citrus/ginger top note and a base of sandalwood and musk, and embellishment tags made from old novels as well. And don’t tell KristieJ about this set of jewelry inspired by North and South.

Feeling crafty right now, and want to do something with your never-to-be-read-again pile of romances? You can make wallets or business card holders out of them. I have one of these, a gift from Heather at Tor – it’s adorable.

[Thanks to Kate for the link.]

And finally, want some catty reviewing… of a fragrance? Enjoy the New York Times’ Moment Blog review of Danielle Steel’s perfume, “Danielle.” The, ahem, money quote:

For the first four seconds it smelled sort of vaguely like a kind of flower that you get in a gallon of floral-scented laundry detergent, and then for five seconds it reminded you of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” Then it evaporated, like the prose in a novel by Danielle Steel evaporated from your memory the moment you read it.

I’m so finding a sample of that as fast as I can.

[Thanks to Jessica B. for the link.]



The Link-O-Lator

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  1. 1
    Elizabeth Wadsworth says:

    Good lord, the willy spread packaging is too funny, in a 1950’s kitchy kind of way—and I love the instructions:  “Warm the knife before spreading—cold steel can have a shrinkiong effect.”

    I’m thinking a kinky episode of Pushing Daisies

  2. 2
    Barb Ferrer says:

    You know what’s driving me batshit crazy?  The fact that Jones tried to legitimize her novel by saying it wasn’t “fluffy historical romance” and yet, it seems like most every high-profile review is using that very qualifier in order to legitimize their reviews!

    About the only place I’ve seen that hasn’t used romance when reviewing the damned book is, guess where—the romance review site!


  3. 3
    Ziggy says:

    Every review I read of JoM makes me die a little inside.

    His eyes like honey flowed sweet glances over my face and body

    Is that even grammatically accurate? I just… Even if I didn’t have faith-based objections to this book, I would find this kind of horrible writing offensive. I also find the willy-nilly usage of historically inaccurate devices just to move the plot forward offensive given that the author said that she intended the book as a “history lesson”.

    Sheesh. I can get the song and dance about His Dark Materials, but that, while religiously combustive, was a big book with big ideas – worth being argued about, if that makes sense.

    I enjoyed the review because it was level-headed but had a nice side-helping of snark. I’m not a huge fan of historical romance apart from Heyer, but it’s a shame that the only time the wider media talk about the genre is in when talking about bad books like this.

  4. 4

    I’ve never understood buying things like chocolate willy spread; it’s so easy to make yourself.

    Take a cup or so of chocolate chips and melt them very slowly over very low heat in a small pot; add a little over half of a (small) can of sweetened condensed milk and stir well. I add maraschino cherry juice sometimes too, a tbsp or two.

    This is actually a very good chocolate fondue sauce, and I also use it on Christmas cookies; but it has other excellent uses (as my husband and I discovered one particular New year’s Eve; sorry, is that TMI?) It’s delicious, and when warm is delightfully spreadable but sets and stiffens when cool.

    And it’s 100% melamine-free. :) If you want to you can even use chunks of organic chocolate, or whatever you like, or experiment with other flavors like hazelnut, raspberry, or orange. I’ve tried those “body chocolate” things before, and they just never taste very good; they have that plasticy flavor, you know what I mean?

    This really is a good, very easy sauce for a lot of things, if you want to go a little fancier than Hershey’s syrup or need something that will set for cakes or cookies or whatever.

  5. 5
    Elizabeth Wadsworth says:

    Yep, chocolate ganache is the best.  I use premium chocolate and add a little Grand Marnier to the mixture.  Maybe this site should have its own holiday recipe thread?

    Spamword:  men19
    You’ll catch 19 men with chocolate sauce…

  6. 6
    ev says:

    Nutella works very nicely. On bananas too.

  7. 7

    Is that what I make, Elizabeth? A ganache?

    Look how fancy I am, lol! Thanks! :)

    And oooh, yes, Nutella…mmm. (Aside from its other uses, my super-sinful snack is shortbread fingers spread with Nutella.)

  8. 8
    Barb Ferrer says:

    Well, a traditional ganache uses heavy cream heated to just shy of scalding and poured over the unmelted chocolate bits.  But your version sounds pretty darned tasty!

  9. 9
    Willa says:

    Hmm. I’m not seeing a link to the BBC article. Am I blind? Could someone point it out to me?

  10. 10
    Ziggy says:

    Willa, the BBC article isn’t linked to in the post. I Googled for it.

  11. 11
    Ziggy says:

    Willa, the article isn’t linked to in the post. I googled for it.

  12. 12
    SB Sarah says:

    Oops. Fixed! Sorry about that.

  13. 13
    Carrie Lofty says:

    Oh, c’mon Sarah—it’s only an 8-yard penalty coz she got creative with her dissing. Brassiere-busting is a far superior insult to the phone-it-in bodice ripping.

  14. 14
    Kathy says:

    December Quinn:  you make melting chocolate sound sexy.  You bad girl.

  15. 15
    AmandaG says:

    The wallet/card holders are darned cute, but the link never takes you to the instructions on how to make them.  Sarah, is yours laminated or something to make it hold up?
    I’m thinking you could take a cover, have it laminated and glue the velcro on and it would work?

  16. 16
    Silver James says:

    CHAMPAGNE, check, strawberries, check, chocolate-flavoured willy spread – erm, come again.

    (emphasis mine)

    Erm…isn’t that the point? *blinkblink* To come again? And again? And… Oh…right. That only happens in those nasty brassiere-busting trashy books. *snorfle*

  17. 17
    TracyS says:

    December/Stacia~I’ll have to write that recipe down. My husband will love if I use that on um, non-food items. LOL

  18. 18
    Vyc says:

    AmandaG, the tutorial is right here. It just takes a bit of digging to find.

    The wallets look amazingly fun and I do rather need a new one, but at the same time there’s a reason I own a shirt proclaiming “I never finish anyth” …so yeah.

  19. 19

    *blush* Kathy.

    The chocolate clung shyly to its hard, round little shapes; but I, turned up the heat, strring gently, coaxing it with smooth, slow movements to finally relax and begin to melt. Gradually it grew limpid and smooth, giving way under my reletless assault. Almost liquid now, it sighed as I poured in the cool, pale cream, talking softly, encouraging it to accept the invasion and envelope it, to allow its darkness to be lightened.

    The spoon kept moving; faster and faster, still smoothly, but with renewed purpose as the moment of coalescence drew near. With a splash the cherry juice joined the mix; both chocolate and cream sighed, united at last, in a final explosion of sultry flavor.

    I licked the spoon, and smiled.

    TracyS, I hope you enjoy it! You do want to keep stirring, though, as you make it. Chocolate scorches easily. You must be tender with it. ;)

    (Can you tell I’m bored today? Heh.)

  20. 20
    Madd says:

    I actually have a sample of the Danielle Steel perfume from when she was giving them out on her site. I got it for my aunt, but my cousin had got her one too and I ended up keeping it. I’ve never used it on my self, but I have sprayed it on tissue paper carnations that I made for gift bags. Not that it smells like carnation, but it is floral so I thought wth and used it. I think I still have some left … somewhere.

    I remember reading a medieval romance where the hero slather blackberry jam all over the heroine. The servants catch on to why there’s blackberry jam all over the sheets and suddenly there’s honey, clotted cream and jam getting swiped left, right an center. I got such a kick out of that.

    I read one a while back that used marshmallow fluff. That’s one I haven’t tried.

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