Bon Appetit!

Recently I cooked one of my favorite French dishes. Ratatouille and Supremes De Volaille A Brun. This time I made some changes to the recipe and put the two together as a meal. I hope Julia wouldn’t be too disturbed by this! As far as the Ratatouille, I followed the recipe to the law. It’s not as perfect looking as I’m sure Julia would have made it but it sure was yummy! Ratatouille is an Eggplant Casserole with tomatoes, onions, peppers and zucchini. It’s served good with chicken, beef or lamb.

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Supremes De Volaille A Brun is a chicken sautéed in butter. Instead of using flour, I used Panko Bread Crumbs. It gives it more texture. For the Butter sauce, you use clarified butter, minced parsley, and lemon juice! It’s fabulous and so tasty!

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And when it’s all done! Below is the final piece! Food is like art! I added white rice to this dish and served French crusty bread along with it. It goes really well together!

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You can get these recipes’ in Julia Child’s book called, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”

Stephanie

Review: Rocamora by Donald Michael Platt

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About ROCAMORA

*2012 Finalist International Book Awards for Historical

Fiction

Publication Date: September 26, 2011

Raven’s Wing Books

Paperback; 408p
ISBN-10: 1618070150

Rocamora, a novel of 17th century Spain, is based on the life of Vicente de Rocamora, who struggles to make his place in a Spain obsessed with limpieza de sangre, purity of blood untainted by Jew, Moor, or recent convert.

Poet, swordsman, and master of disguise, at the insistence of his family, Vicente enters the Dominican Order and is soon thrust into the scheming political and clerical hierarchies that at Court.

Vicente becomes Confessor and Spiritual Director for King Philip IV’s teenage sister, the beautiful Infanta Doña María, five years younger than he, protégé and possible successor of Inquisitor General Sotomayor, and an invaluable assistant to the King’s chief minister, the Count-Duke de Olivares.

Vicente needs all his skills and cunning to survive assassination by a growing list of ruthless foes in both Church and Court, solve a centuries-old riddle to quell rumors of his own impurity of blood, and above all suppress his love for the seemingly unattainable María.

Rocamora Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXZthhY6OtI

My review for,”Rocamora”

I have not read very many novels that center around 17th Century Spain, so I don’t know a whole lot about the culture and history. But as you read this story, one can tell this novel is certainly rich with history and has sparked my interest in learning more. One of the great things about Historical Fiction is if the author can pull enough fiction into to it to make it believable and Platt as done that. Well written and beautifully crafted, complex characters, court intrigue, bold themes. Some are dark and graphic but I was able to handle that alright. Fantastic plot with a-ahem-interesting ending. This novel will most definitely entertain you and many of you will admire Vicente, even though you might not approve of his choices. He is a wonderful, intelligent, brave and interesting man.

Through this tale I have learned a lot more of the Roman Church during this period and look forward to doing a little research of my own. My Spanish is a bit rusty, so I had some trouble with the Spanish words through-out. It was a small distraction for me but by no means did it take away from the story. I highly recommend and I can’t wait to read, “House of Rocamora!” below is some information about it. Check it out!

About HOUSE OF ROCAMORA

House of R

Publication Date: November 19, 2012

Raven’s Wing Books

Paperback; 346p
ISBN-10:1618070916

A new life and a new name … House of Rocamora, a novel of the 17th century, continues the exceptional life of roguish Vicente de Rocamora, a former Dominican friar, confessor to the Infanta of Spain, and almost Inquisitor General.

After Rocamora arrives in Amsterdam at age forty-two, asserts he is a Jew, and takes the name, “Isaac,” he revels in the freedom to become whatever he chooses for the first time in his life. Rocamora makes new friends, both Christian and Jew, including scholars, men of power and, typically, the disreputable. He also acquires enemies in the Sephardic community who believe he is a spy for the Inquisition or resent him for having been a Dominican.

As Isaac Israel de Rocamora, he studies Medicine at Leyden and, at age forty-six, receives a license to practice. That same year Rocamora weds twenty-five year old Abigail Touro, and together they raise a large family. During his time in Amsterdam, Rocamora has a bizarre encounter with Rembrandt, serves the House of Orange as physician, and advises Spinoza before the philosopher’s excommunication. He survives a murder attempt, learns from the great English physician Harvey, and a surprise visit from a childhood friend leads to an unusual business venture.

Life is never routine or dull for Rocamora. The intrigues start with his arrival in Amsterdam and do not end until he takes his last breath.

About the Author

Donald

Born and raised inside San Francisco, I graduated from Lowell High School and received my B.A. in History from the University of California at Berkeley and won a batch of literary cash awards while in graduate school at San Jose State.

When I moved to southern California, I began my professional writing career. I sold to the TV series, MR. NOVAK, ghosted YOUR HAIR AND YOUR DIET for health food guru, Dan Dale Alexander, and wrote for and with diverse producers, among them as Harry Joe Brown, Sig Schlager, Albert J. Cohen, and Al Ruddy as well as Paul Stader Sr., dean of Hollywood stuntman and stunt/2nd unit director. Also, options were taken on my unpublished WWII fighter ace novel and several treatments.

After living in Florianópolis, Brazil, setting of my horror novel A GATHERING OF VULTURES, Dark Hart 2007, Briona Glen 2012, I moved to Florida where I wrote as a with: VITAMIN ENRICHED, pub.1999, for Carl DeSantis, founder of Rexall Sundown Vitamins; and THE COUPLE’S DISEASE, Finding a Cure for Your Lost “Love” Life, pub. 2002, for Lawrence S. Hakim, MD, FACS, Head of Sexual Dysfunction Unit at the Cleveland Clinic.

Currently, I reside in Winter Haven,

Florida. My magnum opus historical novel, ROCAMORA, set in 17th century Spain and Amsterdam during their Golden Ages, was released by RAVEN’S WING BOOKS at the end of December 2008. It has been republished by Briona Glen, September 2011. My completed sequel HOUSE OF ROCAMORA was published by Briona Glen November 2012, and I am polishing a completed novel set in the 9th century Carolingian Empire about another unusual historical character, Bodo, the Apostate.

www.donaldmichaelplatt.com

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Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/donaldmichaelplattvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #DonaldMichaelPlattVirtualTour

Review: Seduction by M.J. Rose

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Publication Date:  May 7, 2013
Atria Books
Hardcover; 384p
ISBN-10: 1451621507
SYNOPSIS: From the author of The Book of Lost Fragrances comes a haunting novel about a grieving woman who discovers the lost journal of novelist Victor Hugo, awakening a mystery that spans centuries.

In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo’s beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, Hugo began participating in hundreds of séances to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with the likes of Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the Devil himself. Hugo’s transcriptions of these conversations have all been published. Or so it was believed.

Recovering from her own losses, mythologist Jac L’Etoile arrives on the Isle of Jersey—where Hugo conducted the séances—hoping to uncover a secret about the island’s Celtic roots. But the man who’s invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, has hopes she’ll help him discover something quite different—Hugo’s lost conversations with someone called the Shadow of the Sepulcher.

What follows is an intricately plotted and atmospheric tale of suspense with a spellbinding ghost story at its heart, by one of America’s most gifted and imaginative novelists.

 

My Review:

I was so delighted to be able to participate in this book tour. I have not read any of M.J. Rose before and she now has a new fan. What an interesting and intense premise for a story, one I’ve not quite read. There are so many wonderful characters in this story. One of them being Victor Hugo. An author who lived in the nineteenth century. All I really knew about him was his extraordinary talent for storytelling and have read several of his novels. This tale gives you a look into his personal life. His daughter lost her life and I believe he was always haunted by her death. Years later, He began dabbling in séances hoping to contact her. By doing so, he opens a window to an evil force.

In the present, Jac L’Etoile-a women who is recovering from a loss as well-travels to the Isle of Jersey at the request of an old friend. Jac is a mythologist and is wanting to uncover mysteries and secrets of the island. She and her friend discover journals that was written by Victor Hugo.

There is so much more to this story, but I don’t want to give anything away. As your reading this story, you feel as if you are finding an unexpected gift in every page. Hard to describe really. I was instantly absorbed with the imaginative writing. Beautiful prose throughout, suspenseful, descriptive, romantic, mystical- but realistic at the same time- and haunting. I was completely memorized by this tale.

I really admire an author who writes characters in such a way you can connect to them on some level. Even some of the characters’ you will have a love/ hate regard for them. After reading this story, I want to read the whole series now. I highly recommend this brilliantly written novel. I’m giving it a five star rating.

Stephanie

About the Author

M.J. Rose

M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of eleven novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com.  The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of

International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype.  She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her WEBSITE. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Link to Tour Scheadule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/seductionvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #SeductionVirtualTour

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Review: Roses Have Thorns by Sandra Byrd

roses have thorns

 

About ROSES HAVE THORNS

Publication Date: April 9, 2013

Simon & Schuster/Howard Boo

ks
Paperback; 336p
ISBN-10: 1439183163

From the acclaimed author of To Die For comes a stirring novel told that sheds new light on Elizabeth I and her court. Like Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, Sandra Byrd has attracted countless fans for evoking the complexity, grandeur, and brutality of the Tudor period. In her latest tour de force, she poses the question: What happens when serving a queen may cost you your marriage–or your life?

In 1565, seventeen-year-old Elin von Snakenborg leaves Sweden on a treacherous journey to England. Her fiancé has fallen in love with her sister and her dowry money has been gambled away, but ahead of her lies an adventure that will take her to the dizzying heights of Tudor power. Transformed through marriage into Helena, the Marchioness of Northampton, she becomes the highest-ranking woman in Elizabeth’s circle. But in a court that is surrounded by Catholic enemies who plot the queen’s downfall, Helena is forced to choose between her unyielding monarch and the husband she’s not sure she can trust–a choice that will provoke catastrophic consequences.

Vividly conjuring the years leading up to the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots, Roses Have Thorns is a brilliant exploration of treason, both to the realm and to the heart.

Praise for Roses Have Thorns

“In Roses Have Thorns Sandra Byrd has given the reader another amazing Elin to tell the intimate story of England’s greatest queen, Elizabeth I. What a unique point of view and deeply moving story Helena von Snakenborg provides. Byrd is especially adept at blending political and private lives. This is a timeless women’s friendship novel as well as a poignant love story to cherish–both the roses and the thorns.” (Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of Mistress of Mourning)

“There is something golden about this tale of Elin, an eager young woman in a strange land, diligent in her duty but alive to love. A tale gracefully told, even as it renders the terrors of treachery that form the crucible of Elin’s hard-won wisdom. A heartfelt story of loyalty, longing, life-long friendship, and the many seasons of the heart.” (Barbara Kyle, author of The Queen’s Gamble and Blood Between Queens)

“Beautiful prose and masterful research combine to bring this fascinating tale to life, treating the reader to fully realized characters and providing an original window through which we can view Elizabeth’s court. Ms. Byrd’s work will stand as an unforgettable contribution to Tudor fiction.” (D.L. Bogdan, author of The Forgotten Queen)

Layered Pages Review:

 

Roses Have Thorns is the third novel I have read of Sandra’s and I have thoroughly enjoyed everyone single one of them. With each book, I say, “No, this one is my favorite.” I can’t decide!  She not only gives you wonderful, strong characters but gives you a fascinating and fresh look into the Tudor dynasty. What I like most about her stories is that she does not add brutal and graphic scenes but gives you a rich and vivid picture of how Tudor life was like. Which Sandra has tastefully crafted and has proven you don’t have to have to have all that to write a thrilling and intriguing story.

I really admire the young Elin-the heroine- who later becomes Helena, the Marchioness of Northampton and the second most powerful women in all of England. She earns the trust and loyalty of the Queen. She loves her family and she encourages and lifts up everyone around her.

Her second husband, Thomas is an interesting character. I truly believe he loves Helena, but throughout the story I felt that there was something off about him, that he was hiding something. You’ll have to read the story to find out!

I’ve read so many stories of Queen Elizabeth’s life and her relationship with Lord Robert and I must admit that was becoming tiresome. Sandra gives you just a hint to what their relationship was like, which was refreshing! She didn’t go on and on about it.

Sandra, paints beautiful and wonderful scenes of what court life must have been like during Queen Elizabeth rule. Her portrayal of all her characters are superbly done and she entertains you from beginning to end. I love reading a story that you don’t want to tear your eyes from. You want to immerse yourself in the history and court life. This story is perfect for everyone and more so for new readers of the Tudor period. Five stars for Roses Have Thorns!

 

About the Author

 

sandra byrd

Sandra Byrd has published more than three dozen books in the fiction and nonfiction markets, including the first book in her Tudor series, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn.  Her second book, The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, illuminates the mysteries in the life of Henry’s last wife.

For more than a decade Sandra has shared her secrets with the many new writers she edits, mentors, and coaches. She lives in the Seattle, Washington, area with her husband and two children. For more Tudor tidbits, please visit www.sandrabyrd.com. Follow Sandra Byrd on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/roseshavethornsvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #RosesHaveThornsVirtualTour

 

 

Book Deal Announcement!

One of my absolutely favorite authors, Nancy Bilyeau recently released the second book,” The Chalice” as part of her fantastic  Sister Joanna series, which I highly recommend. But if you haven’t read the first book in the series, “The Crown”. One week from today -Friday, April 12th- it will be the Amazon Kindle Daily Deal offered at ONLY $1.99 for just 24 hours! So mark your calendar and spread the word!

 

 

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