#Review of Chameleon’s Spell by @RoniOConnell & Vegetarian Chili #Recipe
It’s that time again for a Mama’s Kitchen Mondays review! Today I have a special review to share with an interesting fantasy review. First, let’s talk about the book then I will bring on my favorite vegetarian chili recipe. I have some pretty epic tricks to my recipe and even the biggest red-blood meat eaters have consumed it and had no clue there was no meat in it. It’s magic, I tell ya! That and I am an epic chili maker. So, what is Chameleon’s Spell about? Well let’s hear about the book first:
by Roni O’Connell
Published by Self-Published
on May 28, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository • • Goodreads •
She’d known it was coming—it had to be dealt with, sooner or later. The effect Chameleon blood produced on the majority of humans was akin to taking aphrodisiacs or psychedelic drugs, and all but the strongest minds succumbed.
Juliet Marchant has a secret—one that makes her hide from the world, until the day her friend, a shifter wolf, is slaughtered on her land.
If Juliet is to fulfill her destiny, she must take her place in the world, unlock her Immortal powers, and face her dangerous attraction to the human leader of Spectral Command.
Roni O’Connell’s Chameleon’s Spell was a fun read over all, but I did have some issues with things which I feel perhaps a bit of editing and re-working would fix. But again, in a complete “meal” this book was fun to read. It is a story about a girl who has grown up far to fast for anyone her age, which is just about to turn 18, because of her half-immortal race of a chameleon. The idea behind this fantasy read is this is a world after a great war between what the author labels Immortals and humans. Immortals being shifters; (there are were’s from bugs to wolves), Daemon’s in several different “flavors”; (which are different from demon’s mind you in straight mythology. Daemon’s, according to my OED, are benevolent spirits from the Hellenistic period and philosophy. O’Connell shows they are good over all but just as with human’s not all of them turn out as good on average) and we are also introduced to Chameleon’s; which our protagonist is half on her mother’s side. There are a few others discussed but these are the ones we are given the most info on.
The main protag, Juliet, is just trying to create a life for herself. She owns a cabin in the woods (liked this part) with a lake which she swims in and a forest which has no-hunting allowed. Immortals do not have full citizenship so she keeps her bloodline secret from everyone and the laws are not there for their protection as much as they are there because of treaties to keep the peace. For every immortal there are over a thousand humans, so immortals, mainly because of the war and because of their long lives (not really immortal) they do not “breed” as fast as humans.
I know I usually do not do this much explaining but I don’t want you, if you choose to pick this up, to get frustrated in the beginning like I did and not finish reading it. If I had I would have missed the best part of the book, which is the meat of it. This is why I think perhaps a bit of an edit or maybe some more fleshing out would benefit the complete experience of the read.
The only reason I think this can be labeled as mature young adult is there are a few aspects she has to deal with which are touched upon which would fit it into the young adult arena. It is somewhat of a coming of age story because Juliet is dealing with learning how to deal with her newly emerging immortal breed’s talents, she also has to deal with the fact she is so beautiful humans fall at her feet in adulation, which can be quite a pain in the ass when she just wants to be left alone, especially after a few horrific things which have happened in her past. Otherwise, I really wouldn’t call it young adult. It is more fantasy or post-apocalyptic fantasy even, just because it is happening in a post war world build.
The problem with labeling could be because the author doesn’t really give us a good info dump. Some of you maybe going yay, me? It is Fantasy, I need a bit of info dumping so I can get the lay of the land, especially when you are not using a typical fantasy creatures. Or you are putting your own spin on the creatures. Not enough time was given to flesh the immortals out, heck I just remembered there are angels in the immortal races. So we have Hellenistic Greek, Judea Christian Angels, paranormal were’s (though I know these were sprinkled throughout a lot of different cultures) and then Chameleon’s which are not Greek; because she would be associated with air and this Chameleon’s is associated with water and talks about how her immortal side was once confused with Mermaids.. see how it could be a bit confusing?
Perhaps I am being to over-analytical and I decided I was after tearing my hair out at 25% when I had figured out the main mystery already. It still meant there had to be more to it than the mystery, right? There was, much more and it ramped up about at the 40-45% mark and had me completely taken in. If I was to describe this as hamburger I would say the top of the bun was the beginning and was too thick but not dense enough (as in not enough information for me to fully grasp and get taken in), the majority of the rest of the story was a gourmet burger of good quality and the ending… was the heel left over from a loaf bread. I say this because I got to the end and didn’t realize it ended and kept trying to turn the page only to realize I was at 100% finished. It felt rushed and was not complete. I felt let down and almost cheated. I really do hope there is a sequel because to many things were left hanging.
But these are things which probably won’t bother most people because the main bit of the story was entertaining. I really did enjoy it and I loved Daniel and Juliet. I won’t go any further into my issues with the development of their relationship because I am not exactly one to have a firm grasp at today’s romance troupes. He kind of went from asshole to awesome in nine-seconds flat, hehe.
Over all because of my own issues I am giving this a 7 out of 10 (or a 3.5 stars). I do recommend this book for those who are not heavy fantasy readers and who like urban fantasy with a new twist. On thing I do want to stress is this does have triggers for those who have experienced domestic violence and or abuse from a partner. Just to keep that in mind, not huge ones but enough where it could be an issue. It was a little rough but entertainment wise? I truthfully could not put it down after I hit the 40% mark. I needed to know what was going what was going to happen next. What Juliet would do with her good intentions and how they would effect the world around her. Where Daniel would fit in, what would happen to the were pack on her land, what about past loves, what about damaged lives?!! The author caused me to to have a need, and I need a sequel… but for now? I will take a good bowl of hot chili.
Juliet is a teenie tiny thing, and a vegetarian. A large part of this novel takes place not only on the side of a mountain but during the middle to end of winter. What better dish to serve than some spicy vegetarian chili which could trick even the biggest meat lovers in the camp.
Chameleon Vegetarian Smoked Porter Chili
- 1¾ cup of TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)
- 1 cup of water
- 1 pint of smoked porter (I chose the Alaskan Brewery's brew for the obvious reason)
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 can pinto beans (15 ounce)
- 3 cans black beans (15 ounce)
- 3 cans Rotel Extra Hot Diced Tomatoes & Chili Peppers (10oz)
- 1 can of sweet corn drained (or the kernels from 2 full pieces of corn. This is up to you but, again, I would add it to give you some color and some nice balanced texture and flavor)
- 2 cans Hunt's Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce (8 oz.)
- 4 minced jalapenos (very very fine and remember to wear gloves and do not wipe your brow!)
- 2 chipotle chiles
- 2 med. onions chopped chunky
- 1 med green pepper chopped
- 6-8 cloves of garlic
- ½ cup of Cocoa
- 3 tbsp of chili powder
- 2 tsp of cumin
- 2 tsp of ground fine oregano
- CROCK POT/SLOW COOKER
- Heat up your water to boiling and add to your TVP letting it soak for 6-8 minutes, since normally reconstitute it ⅞ of a cup of TVP to one cup of boiling water, you want to do what I call a major trick to make sure the porter flavor really gets spread throughout the disk. Add one cup of the porter to the partially reconstituted TVP and zap in the microwave for 45 seconds covered, leave cover on and finish preparing your dish.
- Add onions and peppers to the oil and saute till just browning and then for the last minute saute the corn and garlic
- Mix in your TVP and cook on low for about 10-15 minutes to blend in the veggie flavors to the TVP. Add this to the crock pot and begin the dumping of cans! (all but the tomato sauce and the pinto beans).
- Blend the one can of pinto beans in a food grinder, blender or food processor. This will help thicken it without the traditional adding of flower or masa harina.
- Mix all dry ingredients together and mix into the tomato sauce till well blended.
- Pour into your crock pot
- Stir all until well blended cover and cook on on high for one hour and switch to low for at least five hours Add the beer after 3 hours on low (just not to early or it will lose its bite. But since Juliet is under 21, you want to cook the alcohol out and for your younger dinner guests you don't want it to be overwhelming.
- I start prep when I wake up and we eat it when he gets home.
- Garnish with shredded cheese, sour cream and if you are Geoff, more hot sauce!
- Serve with corn bread, tortillas or some other form of dense thick bread and seriously, chili is always better with a bottle of beer, especially one like this with a bit of a kick to it!