This week I am having a ball with recipes and reviews and digging in and finding out the comfort foods from each of the wonderful authors I have been honored to have on my blog. A bit different than my normal Banned Book Week but hey! Today’s comfort food was my challenge until I looked up a recipe online and realized this was what I used to make all the time in New England.
My recipe is probably not traditional Galaktoboureko, but it was from a Greek family we knew back in Mass. Also, this is the third book that I have no complaints over what so ever. I just finished it on Sunday and totally giggled through the read. First though, let’s find out a bit about the book. And yes, the story is just as much fun as the title is!
When Stephanie Anders discovers her estranged, wild-child little sister has died and she must attend her funeral, she discovers that Estella’s death is not necessarily as terminal as she had been lead to believe and that, rather than dead, her sister is more of the undead variety. Too late to save her sister’s life, Stephanie Anders must now try to save her soul from the vampire who has possessed her, Branwyre, eighteenth vampire Lord of the Aegean.
With only the aid of the ghost of a pissed-off Buddhist monk with a potty mouth, and the modern day Priestess of Isis, Stephanie must battle demons and other denizens of a world she knows nothing about. Even her first task, to recover Branwyre’s crucible if she is to succeed in banishing the vampire before he has regained his full strength, is not what it seems.
But dealing with a demon, or double-binding a vampire in a sunbed pales in comparison to learning how to forgive her sister for what she did, especially if she is to have even half a chance of saving her soul.
Welcome to a world within our own, the Other World. A place of Darkness and Light; where gods, vampires, demons, and ghosts wage a constant struggle for survival.
I received this book from Bewitching Book Tours, Tour Company in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Lions and Tigers and Bears… oops WRONG book! *GRIN* Seriously when you get a title like this you have to wonder if the author is going to pull it off. Welp folks, she did. I was not sold at first, just how many books are there with some snarky leading lady, I sure have read a couple this last month. But the author really gave me something totally different. Well at least the characters were.
First we have Isis, Sorry but the first thing I think of when I read Isis anywhere is my first college car and a cartoon from my past… “Oh Mighty, Isis!”. (My college car was a K-Car and for those who knew me then, well let’s just say I was the one who brought the miracle aka kegs, to the party with that station wagon… oops I digress).
Isis happens to be the Goddess who’s light cleanses and purifies the irresponsibility gene out of little sisters. (snickering). Well at least after they are sort of undead. OK just UNDEAD there is no sort of about it, but it is rather hilarious at the same time. We don’t meet Isis right away but we meet her high priestess, Roxanne. This woman is awesome and I just had to giggle every time she came into the picture. Gods you guys all think I am insane by now, but seriously this book was just fun. And though they did not wear the sexy costume of my Isis, they made due with sheets and curtains!
Let’s not forget the grey err… blue… umm ghost who is also or was, or is?? What would it be if they were a ghost, well he was a monk. I would nope no monk in real life had a mouth like this! Oh and the mouth? The swearing? Oh man talk about fun! I would let my teen read this just because it is the ultimate challenge on how to swear without swearing! At least with any four letter words.
Lastly we have the two sisters, Stephanie and Estella. Estella happens to come back into her sisters life at her funeral. Hey I did say there were ghosts right? And Vampires right? Well Estella is sort of both undead and sort of a vampire and I sort of cannot go completely into it since you are going to have to read it. Now suffice it to say poor Stephanie has to save her sister’s soul by banishing a vampire from taking over her body…. wait.. WHAT? Yep that was Stephanie’s response too. She isn’t very slow on the uptake either. She jumps right in and whips that vampire into shape!
Over all the best part of the story were the characters. The world build would not be able to be complete without them. You can throw in all the demons, vampires and crazy Buddhist monk ghosts you want but if you cannot make them work for my entertainment, forget it And man did they ever. To the point of binding a vampire with a …. tanning bed? Hey! Stephanie, our leading lady, just happens to be pretty quick to pick up on making DIY banishing kits. All she needs is a local hardware store and some cash or perhaps…. her sister’s past life to help break into a beauty salon.
This book is all about the characters! I don’t even care about the world build, the macro-descriptions were not even needed. She did a great job describing the smaller rooms and … oh heck! The characters did it! I still want to start skipping and singing… “Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My!” Oh wait that is the title of the book yeah I am a dork! The greatest part about this is that though it reads like it may end up with a bit of paranormal romance in it, there is absolutely none. I did not even realize it till I was sitting here going through my notes. It was not missed, the story speaks for itself.
Though this story is the first in the series of five, it can be read as a stand alone. If you like cleverly written urban fantasy, you are going to like this. If you do not like vampire books, you are going to like this. Why? Since there are vampires, well because the story is about the sisters and the introduction to the Other World so no sparkly or not so sparkly vampires need to be worried about, especially if Stephanie is on the job! The end was heart wrenching and I sniffled into a tissue, it so prepare. It sets us up for a great new series.
There were a few things wrong with it, typos etc. But I was reading the ARC so I have to give that a go. The title as catchy as it was, could have been a bit tighter and still as funny. Even though I thought the creative swearing was a lark I did not quite believe Stephanie as a single woman having that big of an issue with “potty mouth”. Other than that I enjoyed the read! It was so much fun!
Firstly I’d like to thank Cabin Goddess for the review and letting me share my Top Ten Comfort Foods. Some may find my choices a little weird, but I grew up in the tropics near the city of Darwin and the three main cultures contributing to food at the time were the Greek, Italian and Chinese. Being half German fills in the gaps. 😉
My Top Ten Comfort Foods, in no particular order, are:
A plate of decent lemon chicken, honey chicken and a vegetable chow mein.
Vegetarian Laksa with chicken (I can’t eat seafood, this is how I get around it).
Decent chocolate, usually of the peppermint sort.
Raw cacao latte – don’t knock it till you try it. Sugar free, dark and bitter. 🙂
Ohhhh you had to challenge me! We call Galaktobourkeko or Greek “Vanilla Slice” Milk Pie but the difference for this is the Filo Pastry and a few other things! I dug around and found a recipe which my ex-husband’s work family had laying around decades ago. Living in New England the ethnicity of the food is huge and one of the things my ex did was make pies. He also worked with a ton of Greeks. They knew how to cook too and boy did we get spoiled at the company picnics. This is the basic recipe and I know I did change it up a bit but I cannot find my notes!
1½ tsp vanilla extract (pure, none of that fake stuff)
1¼ cup of heavy cream
1 cup corn flour
½ cups fine semolina
2 tbs butter
1¼ cup butter melted
2 cups water
Pre-heat oven to 400F
Custard: With a wire wisk, mix together milk, egg yolks, half of sugar, vanilla essence and cream in large saucepan. When blended, turn on medium-high heat, continuously stirring with a wooden spoon.
Add corn flour and semolina in heaped tablespoons, mixing continuously. Reduce heat to low and stir continuously for approximately 15 minutes, or until the custard is very thick.
Mix in the butter, and set aside to cool slightly.
Using a pastry brush, grease the inside of a 13" x 9" glass baking dish.
Peel off first sheet of filo pastry and place it in the dish, making sure it sticks to and goes over the sides. Overlap pastry sheets to fit, brushing melted butter between sheets.
Continue until 7 layers of filo pastry are completed.
Slowly poor the custard over the filo pastry evenly. You want to not have to mess with spreading this around at all, you may even want to tilt the dish to get it even.
Top with 5 layers of filo and melted butter, and fold the overhanging filo on top.
Bake at 400F' for 30 minutes.
While it is baking in a small saucepan, stir together the remaining cup of sugar and water. Bring to a boil but do not stop stirring (use a wooden spoon, sugar can be reactive to metal at higher temps). When the Galaktoboureko comes out of the oven, spoon the hot sugar syrup over the top, particularly the edges. Cool completely before cutting and serving. Store in the refrigerator.
Remove vanilla slice from the oven, score the top ready for slicing, and pour the cold syrup over the top. Chill.
If you substitute round cake pans like I have in the past I usually use more filo because I have to cut them round and use TWO pans. I usually go through 1½ box of filo. It all depends on the brand you buy. I think it looks gorgeous and when I make it this way, I make a batch of the syrup to drizzle over when I serve it fresh. Make sure you still do the first layer of syrup.
Extract from Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! by Janis Hill
Estella had the grace and timing to wake up just after I’d hauled her dead weight, literally, into the chair and balanced it there long enough the grab the rope.
“By the Light of Isis, what do you think you’re doing?” Her tone was nearly petulant enough to be the old Estella asking me, not the new peace-and-love one.
“Following your High Priestess’ instructions.” I grunted while tying her hands behind her back as best I could, before continuing to wrap the rope around her and the chair.
“But why are you tying me to a chair now?” she asked, aghast to realise just how tight I had done it. “Branwyre can’t take over until night time. We’ve got at least another hour.”
Ignoring her question for a moment, I snatched her right foot and tied it to the corresponding chair leg. Then, ignoring the attempted kick, did the same to her left one.
“Roxanna clearly states in her instructions here to gather the required items, purify them and set it all up, you included.” I waved the note at her before continuing to wrap her legs, backside and chair in the rope. Yeah, I’d gotten a decent amount. Who says two for one sales are a waste of time? “Nowhere in her instructions does it say we should stop for coffee and a chat. When I’ve got as much of it ready as I can before moonrise, I can actually have a rest. You know, something even we non-undead need to do from time to time.”
She went to protest, I even paused to watch the show I felt she was about to perform, but other than gaping a few times like a stunned fish, she stayed quiet. Wow, this Light of Isis was amazing if it could prevent the Queen of Whinge from speaking.
“Fine then,” she finally managed, a slight sulky tone to her voice. “But how am I meant to eat dinner?”
I sighed; I hadn’t honestly thought of that, going along the lines that she was dead. Yes she was an animated corpse right now, but dead was dead. You shouldn’t have to provide meals for them.
“Nowhere in my instructions does it say I have to feed you.” I muttered. Then feeling I should relent a little as she’d found it within herself to be nicer. “But how about I order pizza, and you eat it cold later. Surely even the Light of Isis can’t have cured you of your cold pizza habits.”
She sighed, but said no more for a moment. Didn’t even pout, which surprised me even more than the silence.
“I do wish you’d be more respectful of Isis and her purifying Light,” is all she eventually said as I was adding a few more knots to the back of the chair.
“Uh-huh.” I was more interested in making sure I’d done a good job, than listen to a lecture on appropriate religious respect. Especially from someone who in the past hadn’t held any respect for anyone or anything.
“And no dinner is fine; I don’t seem to have the need to eat that often anymore.” She continued, trying to watch me over her shoulder. “I won’t have you dissing cold pizza though.”
“Sure!” I said, standing back and wiping sweat from my brow and then my hands on my dress. I remembered I was still in one of my best ‘sombre but not kinky’ little black dresses, not having had a chance to change. So Roxanna’s wodge of cash was buying me a few clothes tomorrow, too. Why not! If I wasn’t allowed to go home until this was all over, she owed me at least a pair of jeans and clean underwear. I checked the instructions again. Okay, so all items purified, sister roped tightly into chair. Salt time! Boy I hoped the motel’s maid service wouldn’t be too pissed at me, or at least wouldn’t notice until after we’d left.
About Janis Hill
Janis grew up in and around Darwin, Australia, and its rural surrounds. As a child, she spent a lot of time around 'science geeks' at the Darwin University, where her father was a lecturer for many years. It took her a long time to realise that not everyone got to grow up like that or could relate to all the Science Labs scenes in the old Dr Who.
Janis now lives in the Adelaide Hills with her husband and 3 children, lovingly referred to as the ‘Demonic Hordes’. She is a semi-retired ICT Support Officer who, when not writing, takes pride in her work as a Haus Frau while dabbling in the art of translating century old cookery books into modern recipes to experiment on her family with.