It’s Needling Me.

Reader Eater

I’m sitting here with powder “baking” on my face right now because HOLY HELL SUN FRECKLES! This is what happens when I forget sunscreen. I get all speckle-y. I am not designed to be out in the sun. I’m simply too pale.

I forgot sunscreen on a run. So, I was covered in SUN MAGNIFYING SWEAT, WITH EXERTION PORE-OPENING AEROBIC OUTPUT, IN THE HEAT OF THE DAY, BESIDE THE LIGHT REFLECTING OCEAN. This is what happens when you multiply stupid. You get freckles–and wrinkles.

oh gawd.

I need to move on or else I’m going to find a cave of safety from which I will not emerge until the leaves turn to gold. If chlorophyll is being manufactured, I cannot.



I love when I discover a new author to add to my list of “read more of their shit.” Along with my list of “gee, I hope they write more shit.” Judging by the blurbs of her other books–which I intend to read, she loves a sad backstory. NORMALLY, I don’t. I went through a phase in the early 2010s wherein I read many a novel with a sad backstory (Thanks, Dave Eggers!) and sort of exorcised that genre out of my system.

But I loved this book:

I got it on a BookBub special, I think? Or an Amazon “we suggest…” list. Either way, it was an impulse buy. Sometimes, those end up being the best purchases. (Sometimes you also end up with a billionaire bear shifter who really wants to sex up his stepsister, but only after tying her to his favorite tree and forcing her to lick honey off of his…paw.)

The Blurb:

Dyed, pierced, and covered in tattoos, Wren Blanchard is the exact opposite of everything Dr. Lee Hawthorne thought he wanted.

His residency is almost finished. With the perfect job, the beautiful house, and the polished girlfriend, he knows he should be happy, yet he isn’t.

But once Wren lands in his ER with her sharp tongue and artist’s soul, she leaves a mark on him that just won’t fade.

Wren knows the good doctor is way out of her league. To people like him, she’s a circus freak. Besides, she’s not the type to get hung up on guys, especially ones with midnight blue eyes-ones who know all about antiques, crack bad jokes, and love Joss Whedon.

No. She doesn’t need that.

After all, she has friends, a psychotic cat, and a promising career as one of the best tattoo artists in town. And it’s enough.

Really, it is.

Or it would be if Lee weren’t there every time she turned around.

One kiss seals their fate.

Their attraction is undeniable–but Wren’s past is full of ghosts. Is their bond strong enough for a solid future? Or will their new relationship crumble beneath the weight of all she carries?

Sad Loki is sad.

Before you get too worried, this isn’t “New Adult” level angst. It’s grown-ass woman level angst. And it’s not even angst so much as its survival.

But what’s so good about the story?

There is a genuine nature to the love interest, Lee, that I really loved. The way Ms Fournet writes Lee, he is definitely too good to be true, but the reader still really believes it. And Wren. What can I say about Wren? She has an acute awareness of who she is, how she’s damaged, and why. She’s under no illusions that everything is fine, and she’s just having a titchy bit of anxiety.

Everyone who has ever felt like Wren, anyone who has ever experienced such devastating childhood trauma, (coincidentally, Elizabeth Hunter wrote a striking blog post about this today) wants a Lee. They want a Mamaw Gigi like Wren has. They need the support system.

The overwhelming theme of this book is that you don’t need to heal alone even if you think you should be lonely. It’s that everyone is deserving and in need of a community. Lee needed Wren as much as she needed him. He was trapped in society–she was trapped in self-imposed isolation.

I don’t want to give tooooo much away, but this novel also features something I don’t see very often in romance novels–well-crafted symbolism. Yes, symbolism. That literary device you learned about in your AP English class in 11th grade. The valley of ashes in Gatsby. The mist in Great Expectations. That symbolism. It works in Leave a Mark. It’s moving. It provides a depth to the story which sets it apart from other novels in the genre.

Leave a Mark is an engrossing, thought-provoking love story which will make you weep and swoon in equal measure. It’s the rare sort of romance novel that manages the perfect balance between affection and affliction.

Four stars.


Recipe, Please!

Ok, so the major food of this novel is pure southern comfort. Peach Pies. Since I’ve already done that, twice, I went a little off the rail.

I kept thinking “the fuck could I make?” I thought about various forms of grits, biscuits, funeral potatoes–any and all Southern delicacies that my own MawMaw made for me growing up. But it didn’t feel right.

So this recipe isn’t inspired by New Orleans or even the book, per se, as much as it’s a reflection of how the book made me feel–abundant. Vibrant. Colorful. Like my tattoos. Like Wren’s.

And, it’s easy. Because, Lee is an OBGYN, and time is precious because babies refuse a schedule. Just ask the verrrrra pregnant Courtney at Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life. (sending you labor vibes, lady!)

So, I give you!!

Easy Vegan Pad Thai.

all the umami. None of the fish sauce.

easy vegan pad thai

RECIPE: easy vegan pad thai. Review: Leave a Mark by @stephanie4net #fitfluential #vegan #reading

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easy vegan pad thai easy vegan pad thai

Easy Vegan Pad Thai

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: stir-fry entree vegan Thai

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    for the noodles

    • 2 oz dried shittake, reconstituted in the sauce below. sliced into strips
    • 12 oz fresh or dried Thai rice sticks
    • 1 lb pressed tofu or tofu steaks, sliced into strips
    • 2 red peppers, sliced into strips
    • 1 orange pepper, sliced into strips
    • 8 oz sugar snap peas
    • 4 shallots, sliced
    • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1/3 cup coconut oil

    for the sauce

    • 1 tbsp sesame oil
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • 2 tbsp Maggi seasoning
    • juice of one lime
    • 2 tbsp peanut butter–creamy
    • 2 tbsp BROWN sugar
    • 1 tsp honey
    • 1 tsp white pepper
    • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
    • 1 tbsp Thai or Vietnamese chili garlic sauce (I prefer the Vietnamese)
    • 3 cups water


    • 1 cup chopped cilantro
    • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
    • 1/2 cup scallions, chopped on the bias or shredded
    • sriracha or more chili garlic



    chop ALL veg except the mushrooms and set aside

    slice the tofu and set aside on paper towels to drain further

    set up your mis en place, you want everything ready to go, because once the sauce cooks, this happens FAST.

    for the sauce

    combine the Maggi, water, vinegar, and soy sauce and bring to a slow simmer

    add dried shittake. (they MUST be dried. This imparts umami flavor into the sauce, as well as providing a steaky texture to the final product)

    let mixture with mushrooms come to a full boil

    turn heat all the way down

    cook for 15 minutes

    pull out shittake and add remaining sauce ingredients

    bring back to a full boil

    set down to simmer

    start the veg

    slice the reconstituted shittake into strips

    heat the oil in a WOK (you need the space, trust) on medium high

    add the garlic and toss until golden brown

    add the peppers, shallots, snap peas and tofu

    toss just until it begins to soften, and tofu is hot throughout

    for the noodles

    these noodles are QUICK cooking

    for fresh, dip the noodles in the sauce mixture for about 20 seconds

    pull out with tongs directly into vegetable mix as well as the sauce

    for dried, add the noodles into the sauce and cook a few minutes and pour into veg mix

    toss with tongs until combined

    top with toppings

    serve with lime wedges if desired.

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