The General and the Elephant Clock of Al-Jazari by the INCREDIBLE Sarah Black and Mediterranean Mezze w a Greek Malgousia. Literally HEAVEN.

GeneralandtheElephantClockofAlJazariI’ve said it before and, I will say it again, Sarah Black in this genre is HER OWN STANDARD. I’ve never ever wanted to be a writer, but when I read her books, I almost want to. Just so I could know what it feels like to make something so lovely, that can move people like her books move me.

The General and the Elephant Clock of A–Jazari is the sequel to The General and The Horse Lord. The book that gave us General John Mitchell and his longtime lover, and fellow warrior helicopter pilot and all purpose badass, Gabriel Lopez. John and Grabriel have been lovers for over two decades, but because of DADT they had to keep their relationship a secret. In retirement, they’ve decided to step out into the light and live like they’ve always wanted to. Not everything is rosy though, Gabriel has a very unhappy ex-wife, and his teenage boy is struggling with the changes in his family. John is trying to find excitement and purpose out of military life, and thus far it’s been hard to find what fits.

Then there’s his little tribe of young men. Kim his beloved nephew (and one of the best things I’ve read in years!) who is forever exploring and pushing the boundaries, looking for his own love, his own path. Billy the boy he’s taken in after he was badly assaulted in a past relationship. Abdullah the son of his mentor and oldest friend. All these boys are looking to John and Gabriel for guidance, to show them what it should look like to live and love proudly. John is not a man who has ever shied away from doing the things that need to be done. But this time of his life proves more difficult than he ever imagined, he is feeling a sense of fulity, like what he was born to do, is being done by someone else and they’re fucking it up. I mean he’s happy, happier than he’s ever been, just to be able to wake up next the love of his life every morning, to love Gabriel in the light of day is like every dream come true. But still he is restless. He is BORED. So, when he gets the call to come on a mission to get two ex-military boys out of Tunisia who’ve been imprisoned while on vacation. John (and Gabriel), jump on the opportunity.  What they’ve been wanting,  a mission, the chance to do something great and purposeful.

So!!! For a book set in Carthage I had to make some Mediterranean fare.  For John and Gabriel’s adventure in Tunisia I made  a mezze plate with homemade tabbouleh, hummus, babaganoush and roasted veggies. To sip while enjoying the amazingness that is this story, I picked a Greek Malagousia white wine that is just PERFECTION with this kind of food. Seriously, it’s just delicious. The peach, mango and grassy overtones in this wine are fantastic. I actually had this wine over the weekend at a fabulous Greek restaurant in Atlanta, that my two girlfriends (also Sarah Black fans!!!!) and I ate while attending GRL 2013…We had kind of gone off to a Patty Griffin concert for the night 🙂  The Gerovassilliou IS kind of way above my normal budget, but at $20 dollars a bottle the 2010 Domaine Gerovassiliou Malagousia might be the excpetion to my rule. And why the hell not? This is Sarah Black after all!  If I’m gonna break my rule, it’ll be for her surely! Now that we have the makings of an amazing meal, we can go back to the book…

Babaganoush platter

Mezze with roasted beets and carrots, Bummus, Babaganoush, Tabbouleh and Olives.

Photo Credit: Reversewinesnob.com

Photo Credit: Reversewinesnob.com

This book is a complete adventure, the pace is fast and entertaining. We hit the ground running in Carthage. We move with John and Gabriel in Tunisia, doing the things that need to be done to get the boys home safe, and while we’re there we meet amazing characters that all make this world that she draws for us more colorful and kinder. Sarah Black has a style, a depth that is incomparable in this genre, she puts forth hard things, flawed people,  harsh realities…But also she shows us the real strength behind friendship, loyalty, love, beliefs, passion…The things that make this world kinder and better. The ways she blends them, and makes a story that is foremost about people and love, it just leaves me enthralled. The thought that above all the differences there are amongst people, the common ground is always more vast, we just have to make the choice of stepping on to it.  To see the world through the eyes that see where we can BE a better world than we have, wheere we can take the time to finds the places where we did good things.

That’s all on top of Gabriel and John themselves and that love they have.  Gabriel was like some sort avenging angel, and John was righteous and heroic. It’s not easy this life they are living at times, their love have costs. High costs, scary ones. But the choice of not having each other, is one that they can never take. I love these men, loved this book, the adventures were vivid, the things I learned enriching. I feel in love even more with the General, the Horse Lord and their tribe.  I hope above ALL HOPE I will get to read about Abdullah and Kim’s love story.

The special thing about Sarah Black is that she things about important complex things, Like the faces of young gangbangers, or the plight of women in the East, and shows them to us against ourselves our own struggles. About learning to walk in our on paths, of deciding when and where we must be adults and how to finally let our childrend stand on their own two fee. She takes all that and strips it down to basic human things. That hard or difficult all the things in this world come down to basic feelings and solitary decisions. We either chose to the right thing, or we don’t. We choose hate, or we choose love. We run away, or we stand up and face the consequences of that we’ve done.

Beatiful book. Sarah Black, you leave without words sometimes.Totally and completely recommend. I’d MAKE people read it if I could.

The General and the Elephant Clock of Al-Jazari is available for Pre-Order here, and will be out on Dreamspinner Press on October 25th.

For the food I have three recipes that are total Veganite classics, I addeed a bit here or there to make them my own…I hope you enjoy.

Hummus

1 14.5 Oz of Organic/Low Sodium dhick peas drained and rinsed.

2 Tablesppons of natural tahini

Juice of one lemon

1/4 cup of very good extra virgin olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch)

1 clove of garlic minced in the microplane

1Two pitted Kalamata olives

4 Slices of pickled alapenos

Salt and Peper to taste.

Directions: Put all ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth. When done put on a small bowl. Top with a little olive oil and smoked paprika. Serve with warm pita bread.

Babaganoush

1 Large eggplant

2 Tablespoons of natural tahini

Juice of one lemon

1/4 cup of good extra olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch)

1 Garlic clove minced with the microplane.

1/2 teaspoon of fresh flat parsley, chopped very fine.

1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika.

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make holes in the eggplant with a fork in various places and put it in the oven for about 25 minutes turning over once. When the skin is blistering and the eggplant feels soft. Take out eggplant and let cool. Once it’s cool in inside peel off skin and out in the food processor with all ingredients except the parsley. Mix in the processor until smooth. Put in a small bowl and top with parsley and bit of olive oil. Serve with warm pita bread.

Ready for Babaganoush

Ready for Babaganoush

Tabbouleh

1 Cup of uncooked bulgur wheat

2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley

1 tablespoon of fresh finely chopped mint

1 cucumber peeled, diced and cubed finely.

1 small white onion chopped dfinely.

2 roma tomatoes seeded and chopped.

1/4 cup of olive oil.

Juice of one lemon.

1 1/1 cups of water.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions: Put the water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour in bulgur wheat, lower heat and then cover until cooked, about 20 minutes or until water has evaporated. Take off heat and let cool. Once the whear is completely cool, separately in a large bowl mix all the ingredients and add bulgur to them. Toss and put in fridge for an hour. Serve in a bowl.

To make the mezze platter place the two dips, bread, and tabbouled in a large platter all in separate bowls. Also have a plate of kalamata olives to eat. Enjoy with Gabriel, John, their tribe while sipping a well chilled glass of Malagousia.

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Wild Onions by Sarah Black…Romance and ghosts for a good cause!

WILDONIONSHORSECOVER_zps3cff3c78 Here’s the thing about Sarah Black, her writing enchants me. I’m not an enchantment kind of female. But Sarah’s men, and the world she brings to me in her stories. They take me away on such a soft soft cloud of all things good. She doesn’t write easy stories, or pretty ones (although her words are BEAUTIFUL!), she writes GOOD ones. Good ones about people I’d love to meet, and places I’d love to see, of histories I REALLY want to know about. I always feel enriched and a little wiser when I reach the end of a Sarah Black tale. She’s the most best writer everyone should know about and doesn’t. I always feel like I’m cheating someone paying for her books, they should cost more! They’re too good, and now she’s made them even more valuable. Each copy of this storu that sells on Amazon.com will contribute one meal to the Idaho Food Bank in Boise where Sarah and her son volunteer. With each book sold, Sarah will make a donatio, tthat right there is reason enough to go get this book.

The story is amazing though, so you will win twice.

Robert Mitchell is arriving back to the cabin in Salmon River, Idaho which belonged to his lover Val. One year has passed since the accident that took Val’s life, and left Robert seriously injured, and now looking to loose his home from crippling medical bills. His life that was radiant and full just one year before seems like it’s falling apart all around him, and he’s feeling low. Things have been grim, and he’s thought that selling the cabin might be a way to at least relief some of the pressures in his life. The thing is once he gets there and he remembers what that cabin meant to him, to THEM, to Val who had it in his family for generations, he just couldn’t do it. He’d stay for awhile and think of where to go next.

Things become even ligther when he meets Cody Calling Eagle a tall, strong, Blackfoot man who’s been fishing in the Salmon River right by Robert’s cabin. Cody is young, magnetic and there’s something about his open eyes and heart that makes Robert want to hope a little. He wants a taste of that goodness. Things are so good with Cody, so sweet, he’s sad that he can feel like this when Val is not in the world anymore, but Cody he’s like a big open heart calling to Robert to kiss him, touch him…FEEL HIM.

Things become a little confused when Cody and Robert start having shared dreams about the history of the cabin, and the dark things that happened there. Bad things happened in the past, evil men came to the cabin to hurt Val’s and Cody’s ancestors. The two men in Robert’s live where connected by an ancient bond. Cody’s great-great-uncle had been Val’s great-great-grandfather’s lover. Things from the past come back to haunt them and the love that is blossoming between Robert and Cody is in danger.  Robert won’t let this lover go though, he will do what he has to, so that he can get back the future he was beginning to glimpse in Cody’s eyes.

The romance in this story is one of the more intense ones I’ve read of Sarah, there was nothing subtle here. It’s literally a coming back from the dead. Total submission to love. The history lessons and the ghosts where fascinating, and as always I feel a bit smarter.

Lovely. Would like some more please.

Wild Onions is for sale on Amazon.com

This is an awesome cause, and I hope lots of you go out and get the story! If you would like to know more about your local food bank click here for the national directory. The Food Bank of America does amazing things around the country everyday, so go out and give a hand. Personally, I love the Backpack Programs for the public schools. This progam collects food to fill the backpacks of kids in the free lunch programs around the country, every Friday, so that they will have food over the weekends.

Cheers and Happy Reading!

For those of you interested in seeing more of the Salmon River in Idaho or hearing about Sarah’s inspiration for this project you can check out her Goodreads Blog.