Links to Things That will Make You Laugh and Cry

Links! First, if you follow me on Twitter, you saw this link already, but if you have missed it, it's worth reading. A man found an abandoned baby in the New York subway, and days later, became his dad

The story of how Danny and I were married last July in a Manhattan courtroom, with our son, Kevin, beside us, began 12 years earlier, in a dark, damp subway station.


Danny called me that day, frantic. “I found a baby!” he shouted. “I called 911, but I don’t think they believed me. No one’s coming. I don’t want to leave the baby alone. Get down here and flag down a police car or something.” By nature Danny is a remarkably calm person, so when I felt his heart pounding through the phone line, I knew I had to run.

When I got to the A/C/E subway exit on Eighth Avenue, Danny was still there, waiting for help to arrive. The baby, who had been left on the ground in a corner behind the turnstiles, was light-brown skinned and quiet, probably about a day old, wrapped in an oversize black sweatshirt.

I could read this over and over and would tear up every time. 

Jennifer sent me this link to a profile of a woman who runs a vintage cooking blog

How would you categorize mid-century food? 

Clark: Experimental. They were trying to get housewives to try these new products and use all these new techniques to make your life easier. Make a cake faster, make a soup faster, or use frozen foods for shortcut cooking. The mid-20th century saw an explosion of changes in all of American culture. People were testing out these new things discovered in World War II, like foods from different cultures, and also changes in technology, like frozen foods, that made more food available to more people.


People were experimenting with all these things they had never seen or used before, and they didn’t quite know what to do with them. If you watch that show “Chopped” on Food Network, I kind of think that’s what the mid-century cook felt like: We have all these weird ingredients, and what are we going to make with them? Well, let’s try this.

Being a completely normal denizen of the internet, Jennifer immediately “rummaged around her site and found this:”

This is where things got off track. This is where things went wrong. This is where people got hurt after the fun and games. This is where I cooked up a bunch of liver and buttermilk and gelatin and put it in a blender.


This is Liver Pate En Masque.

The very best part is her husband's participation in taste-testing the … whatever that is. And this site led me to 1972: The Retro WW Experiment, which is another vintage food blog focused on those absolutely bizarre Weight Watchers recipe cards. I'll be honest, I might lose weight because I've completely lost my appetite. 

Henceforth, all dares shall involve gelatin, and possibly a glaze.

I'm over at Kirkus talking about Identifying your Reading Catnip:

…once you can identify what themes and elements you like best, you can find many, many more books to read, ones that you're very likely to enjoy. Being able to identify your own reader catnip is a powerful thing.


Everyone's romance catnip is different, too. My closest friends hardly ever recommend romances to me because my reading tastes are so different from theirs. But when I can identify a book that will absolutely appeal to one of them based on that fact that it contains a list of tropes I really dislike, I know whom to email immediately.

One excellent way to identify your favorite tropes is to look at the books on your keeper shelf. Which romances have you held onto, even to the point where they're falling apart, because you love to re-read them? Those books probably hold the secrets to your reading catnip.

So, what's your reading catnip? Do the books on your keeper shelf have any elements in common that you've identified? Has it helped you find books that you've enjoyed as much? 


General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    PamG says:

    Humor is probably the number one element that makes me roll around and purr.  When I look back through my reading years the stand-out authors all used elements of humor in their writing.  From my teen favorites, Patrick Dennis, Leonard Wibberly, & P.G. Wodehouse (I was a weird teen), through the years of discovering Heyer, Pratchett, Bujold, Crusie, Butcher, and many others, humor has been the common thread in all my favorite books.  It might be stem from situations, the use of language, character interactions, or dialog, but it did two things: it made me laugh and it did not embarrass me or the characters in the book.  I don’t mind squirming in the catnip patch but I hate squirming because someone’s been humiliated and that’s supposed to be funny.  So, I Love Lucy, McClintock, and Helen Fielding, ummmm, no, thank you. 

    In my reading, I care a lot about complex characters, intense emotions, settings and set-ups that take me places I’ve never been before, and good quality writing, but humor is clearly my cat nip.  Which could explain why I love SBTB.

  2. 2
    PamG says:

    Oh, and thanks for the 50 Shades of Liver recipe. (inna masque!)  I am totally sharing that!

  3. 3
    LG says:

    So far, I’ve tried maybe two older recipes just because they sounded so strange I *had* to try them. One was butter pie and the other was salmon loaf. The salmon loaf actually wasn’t too bad, but it looked about as appetizing as Liver Pate en Masque. At least I wasn’t expected to put it through a blender. The butter pie was a failure. When I finally got it to solidify, the pie filling was maybe a centimeter thick. When I tried a slice, I wished I’d just baked an empty pie crust. It would have been so much better.

  4. 4
    Chloe Lewis says:

    The subway-baby thing is delightful, although it also points up just how much arbitrary power judges can have. I recently heard a fairly awful tale in which the judge was wrong, so it makes me skittery. Still: foundling baby! Family! Awwwww!!!!!

  5. 5
    Bnbsrose says:

    Foundling baby! Family!’

    Sounds like someone’s reading catnip to me…

    Personally, from reviewing my keeper shelves & the contents of the books under my bed, I’ m a little afraid of what my reading catnip says about me… Maybe that I should be picking up that vile Lora Leigh book, cause I gotta be honest, there’s a lot (make that A LOT!!) of alpha male, rapey, kidnappy, female doormat/alphole 70’s and 80’s historicals in my cache. 

  6. 6
    Bridget Baker says:

    Um…I may not want to know what it says about me that Poppy Z. Brite and Charlotte Stein are next to each other on my favorites shelf.

    As far as I know my reading catnip is complex characters, interesting plots—I want to say “beauty and the beast” theme but that’s been done badly so many times that I want to give up on that trope…

  7. 7
    cleo says:

    The liver pate link made me laugh until tears rolled down my cheeks.  Awesome.

    Many of my keepers involve the h/h helping each other come to terms with their past and / or their family – from Bet Me, to A Summer to Remember by Mary Balough, to Absolutely Positively by JAK, to Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas.  And knowing that this theme is my reading catnip has helped me find other great books.  I read my first m/m romance, Between Saints and Sinners by Marie Sexton, based on a review at DA – it wasn’t super glowing (maybe a B with a couple reservations), but I could tell from the review that it would hit my buttons and it did.  And I think that’s how I found my first Sarah Mayberry book too.  I also know that I like smart quirky heroines and that I have no tolerance for asshole heroes.

  8. 8

    Damn.  I think I lost a few pounds just reading about the liver pate gelatin thing.  *urk*

  9. 9
    Vasha says:

    I’m a sucker for vulnerable, suffering men—the more awful stuff they’re put through the better, really. (One of my favorites last year was The Phoenix Requiem. That guy Jonas does suffer beautifully.)

  10. 10
    Terrie says:

    The baby adoption story made me cry.  I do get that it points to the power of judges and that this scenario could go wrong, but this time it didn’t.  And then having the judge marry them twelve years later? That’s just perfect.

    I find my reading catnip can change with exposure, or, more accurately, over-exposure.  Romances comes in waves, or my reading does.  I discovered paranormals and had lots of fun for a while, but I’m settling down now to the few writers I really like.  I’m getting seriously tired of certain kinds of alpha male jerkiness and am deeply appreciative right now when the hero is NOT a bitter, cynical rake—usually an Earl or Duke—on the outskirts of society. If they aren’t involved in Scarlet Pimpernel-ish spy societies, that is. 

    Still, despite all that, the catnip does its magic. I’m a sucker for reunion stories, where something bad happened in the past and now it’s time to come together again: Private Arrangements and Not Quite a Husband were fabulous, but a bunch of Mary Balogh and others as well.  Stories built on class difference get to me, too, so the Proposal by Mary Balogh was right up my alley.  And humor.  Always.

    And, I guess, what I look forward to is the next discovery and the next wave.  I didn’t know I’d love a female spy story until I read the Spymaster’s Lady, or that I’d love paranormals until I read Patricia Briggs. 

  11. 11
    Megaera says:

    The theme that pops up in my writing almost constantly is second chances.  And I do go for that in my reading, too.

    Also, I love, love, love geeky, brainiac heroes and heroines.  The more degrees the better [g].

  12. 12
    Mikaela Lind says:

    I love the widower/guardian with a bunch of children remarries/ marries the governess trope.  Love them.  It doesn’t matter if it is paranormal, contemporary or historical.  I happily devours them :). 

  13. 13
    cleo says:

    Another reading catnip for me is romance where you see the h/h falling in love.  I’m a sucker for flirting and witty banter and sexual tension.  I love reading about a couple getting to know each other and discovering commonalities and becoming emotionally vulnerable and opening up to each other. It doesn’t matter if it takes them a year or one fabulous night, but I want to *see* it, not just be told that they love each other. Julia Quinn writes this really well imo – which is why I keep buying her even when I get annoyed with her.

    This particular reading catnip is harder for me to identify from reviews and blurbs than some of my other fave themes and elements.  I think it’s maybe more subjective – I remember reading a book because a reviewer said there was good sexual tension and good relationship development and it didn’t work for me. 

  14. 14
    GHN says:

    I read that story of the abandoned baby before you linked to it here. And yes, it did make me sniffle a few happy tears!

  15. 15
    jliedl says:

    I was a preteen subjected to the 1970s WW diet as collateral damage. OMG, I cannot stomach the smell of liver, even being cooked for someone else, thanks to their once-a-week liver rule.

    Even with a quarter cup of ketchup, I could barely stomach the vile substance slipped on my plate. At least she only pan-fried what she served us and didn’t try that strange recipe on the blog, there!

    Reading catnip? When the h/h discover real common ground over which they can bond and relax. A sense that they’re letting their real feelings show and truly enjoying something together makes the HEA much more believable than simply “He’s hot/She’s hot”.

  16. 16
    ksattler says:

    I like books that make me laugh – snark, good dialogue, not embarrassment.

  17. 17

    Great Gravy Sarah! I thought what I found was bad, but you managed to push it over the top. Retro Weight Watchers? Bletch

  18. 18
    Susan says:

    Holy moly. That reminds me of the time my sister made liver burgers and I had to clean the blender. That must have been 25+ years ago but I still get the dry heaves thinking about it.

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