Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

Michelle Moran

Rebel Queen

REBEL QUEEN, by Michelle Moran, is based on the life of a real queen of India. Queen Lakshmi ruled in the kingdom of Jhansi in the mid-nineteenth century. She truly did. Moran has outdone herself with this memoir-like tale of rebellion, unwavering love, and fearlessness.

REBEL QUEEN is told in the voice of a young woman who served in the Queen’s Durgavasi. The Durgavasi were a fearsome and fearless group of trained women who were constantly on guard for the rani. We learn firsthand how Sita, the “voice” was chosen, then trained to leave her home and begin her new life guarding the Queen. Such an honor. And the only way Sita knew to safeguard her younger sister. And keep herself from being given over to prostitution by her cruel grandmother.

To be born a beautiful girl in India in the nineteenth century was both a blessing and a curse.  And, even at times, in cases of poverty or British takeover, a consistent opportunity to be yanked from your life and used as a prostitute. It was rampant.

The prologue of REBEL QUEEN, opens the novel in the year 1919. An old woman is looking back at her life. This woman, we quickly discover, is Sita.  And she tells us about her life growing up in the kingdom of Jhansi, before, during, and after the takeover of India by the brutal British.

I did not go into this book oblivious to British rule in India. However, I had no idea to what extent the cruelty was. There is one particular journey Sita is forced to take where she ends up  at court ,in England, facing Queen Victoria. The Indian people must have seemed like circus creatures to Queen Victoria. Shocking. And I tried to put myself in Sita’s shoes as she arrived in London in the middle of winter. Snow, sleet, Christmas. Like taking lion to the opera.

This exciting novel is filled with deceit, revenge, the horrors of war from a different perspective. And the woes of Indian women in the mid-nineteenth century. Certainly not a place I ever hope to be taken back to.

If you’re looking for something exciting, full of great research, and strong women, this is your book. A great summer read.

Winner Of The Invention Of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is….

Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings

One lucky winner will receive a trade paperback copy of THE INVENTION OF WINGS, by Sue Monk Kidd! And that one person is Sue T. Congrats! You are going to love this courageous book about women and slavery. Sue I will shoot you out an email this morning. Please respond quickly so I can get your mailing info to the publisher, then your book will be on its way.

I want to thank those of you who took the time to enter my giveaway. And, thanks go out to the publisher Viking/Penguin.

My New Roots by Sarah Britton

Plant-based recipes for every season

My New Roots

MY NEW ROOTS, by Sarah Britton, has come along at a perfect time for me. I am trying hard to eat healthy. To eat real food. Like we did back in the old days when I was a kid. There were no alternatives. We ate organic and fresh because that is how vegetables and fruits grew naturally until we began using pesticides and creating GMO ( genetically altered seeds).

I love the cover of this gorgeous book! Even though the premise of this cookbook is inspired plant-based recipes for EVERY season, it’s the summer and spring recipes that really called me. Probably because I live in the land of almost perpetual spring and summer:)

Britton begins her book with an introduction explaining how her life changed when she picked a tomato hanging from an organic vine in Arizona. She had eaten only processed foods, or fruits and vegetables that had been picked before their ripeness and traveled thousands of miles. Anyone who has ever tasted a home grown tomato versus a store-bought one, knows this feeling. MY NEW ROOTS is divided into five sections: Spring; early summer; late summer; autumn, and winter. Her photography is stellar, bringing the season to life right before your eager eyes. And then she supplies healthy grain-free recipes for morning, small measures, mains, and sweets.


Grain-Free Hamp Tabbouleh

I chose this photo of this  lovely fresh grain-free salad because it is so perfect for me right now. Summer is actually here in S.W. Florida. It’s already sunny and quite warm. Salads are going to be my mainstay during our long summer days. The key to this one is not only fresh, but grain-free. I have to move forward without grains. It’s a health issue. And in order for me to succeed, I must discover delicious recipes such as this one.  This salad is traditionally made with bulgur, but Britton has instead used chickpeas she’s pulsed in her food processor, chopping them just enough to turn them into grain-like pieces. Then she combines them with creamy hemp hearts and thick steaks of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. Mint and parsley enhance the rich pine nuts and olive oil. It all adds up to a great big dose of YUM!

I received this amazing cookbook from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. Thanks so much!

Giveaway! The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings

I have one trade paper edition of THE INVENTION OF WINGS, by Sue Monk Kidd, for giveaway compliments of  Viking/ Penguin publishers. This amazing novel will soon be available in a trade paperback edition. I am including a link to an online bookclub and a Q&A with Sue Monk Kidd. Enjoy. Please leave a comment below to enter. U.S. addresses only, please. And no P.O. boxes. I will choose one winner on Tuesday, April 21. Good luck.

Picnic In Provence by Elizabeth Bard

Memoir with recipes

Picnic in Provence

The amazing cover of PICNIC IN PROVENCE, by Elizabeth Bard, is enough to put a big ole smile on your face. And make you want to jump right on a plane to France! The author of LUNCH IN PARIS, has done it again, and in a big way. She’s moved to Provence with her husband, from their love nest in Paris. And the two of them are now about to become three as  Bard’s memoir begins.

Elizabeth and Gwendal take their last romantic getaway before the birth of their first child, not expecting to fall in love with the quaint and beautiful tiny paradise in Provence. But, fall in love they did. They decided to buy an old house once owned by a poet who aided in the resistance during the war. They do decide to remain in Paris until their son is born. Elizabeth Bard says about Paris in August: “Paris in August is like the set of a science fiction movie-a planet void of life except for very pregnant women and stray cats. The civilized world is on holiday, walking in rolled-up jeans and summer cashmere on a beach in Brittany, or donning white linen trousers and expensive sunglasses in, well, Provence.” But once their little blue bundle of joy arrives, they are off and running, to their new paradise, in Provence!

Reading Bard’s prose is like reading letters from an old friend who just happens to live in France.  I love hearing about all her escapades in parenting, cooking, gardening, and making friends. I love how open and honest she is in sharing her lack of parenting skills, and what she does to hone them. I also enjoyed learning the differences in the school systems in France from the ones here in U.S..

When all was said and done Elizabeth and Gwendal decided to open an artisanal ice cream shop in their tiny village. How they embarked on this new journey and became culinary entrepreneurs, is witty and fun, and just flat-out, delicious! Yuum.


Elizabeth & Gwendal

Delicious recipes using the luscious fruits and vegetables that grow regionally and seasonally are sprinkled throughout the entire book, tempting you to stop reading and go cook. And Bard’s sense of place is lovely and serene, making you want to be right there.

PICNIC IN PROVENCE, by Elizabeth Bard, has to go in your beach bag this summer! It just must!

My lovely copy came from Little Brown. How happy I am to have it, and thanks.

Artis-Naples Summer Reading List: Coming Tomorrow…

I know most of you are wild to get your hands on the summer reading list for Artis-Naples, put together by Elaine Newton. I will be posting it on my blog as soon as I’m given the official okay by the powers that be:) It is a well-kept secret until that time. I will say that I have had the distinct pleasure and honor of working with Elaine Newton, and Jess and Bill from Barnes and Noble in Naples, Florida.  Everyone has worked hard to put a list together that is unique, diverse, and worthy!