Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Italian Mystery on the Menu: The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri

For our next round of Cook the Books, I have selected the first novel in author Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano mystery series, The Shape of Water. I have read so many lovely reviews of the novels in this series by my CTB co-host, Simona, of Briciole, that I knew I had to dive into this book.

A few years ago, I was really smitten with the Inspector Brunetti mysteries by Donna Leon and the clever Aurelio Zen mysteries (each set in a different Italian region) by Michael Dibdin and I voraciously read my way through them. I needed a break from my Year of the Italian Police Procedural, but after a hiatus of reading an assortment of other wonderful books I took up Simona's recommendation and read The Shape of Water.

And now I am hooked again on an engrossing mystery series. Perfetto!

Here's my introduction to this great book:

Our very first Cook the Books pick focused on Sicily (we read Lily Prior's novel "La Cucina" and I propose we return to the "scene of the crime" by reading the first book in Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano mysteryseries by author Andrea Camilleri. "The Shape of Water" is the book and in it, the scrupulously honest Inspector searches to uncover the facts behind the death of an engineer that local bigwigs, including Montalbano's police chief, don't want investigated. However as the rear cover blurb on my copy of the book notes, "Picking his way through a labyrinth of high-comedy corruption, delicious meals, vendetta firepower, and carefully planted false clues, Montalbano can be relied on, whatever the cost, to get to the heart of the matter.

We will have not one but two delightful guest judges for this round of Cook the Books: husband and wife Lavonne and David Neff, who blog about "books and films on religion, politics, murder, and other congenial topics for polite dinner-table conversation" over at The Neff Review. You can read Lavonne's excellent review of The Shape of Water there.

Submissions to this round of Cook the Books are due Monday, March 25th.

And now, hie thee to the bookstore or library, grab this luscious book and enjoy!

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

WINNER of The Hunger Games {announcement}

Hey all!  I just received word back from our guest judge this round, Wendy from Bookcooker.  Below are her thoughts and choice of winner...
First, let me say how much I enjoyed all the entries in the Hunger Games “Cook the Books” challenge.   I was really impressed by everyone’s creativity, imagination and ambition in coming up with recipes inspired by Panem.   Like many of the participating bloggers, I did not immediately join The Hunger Games bandwagon, as I generally try to stay away from Young Adult fiction because sadly I no longer qualify as a “young” adult.   But as soon as I read the first few pages of the book, I was hooked (and read all three in quick succession) and realized that the book was perfect for my blog bookcooker, which is filled with recipes inspired by books.  When I blogged about the book, I went the obvious route and made a lamb and plum stew.  I was particularly impressed with the entries in the challenge that stayed away from the food of the capital and instead focused on the food of District 12 – more humble stews and Peeta’s bread.   These recipes were more of a challenge and truer to Katniss’ real identity.  With this in mind,  my pick for the winner of the Hunger Games Cook the Books challenge is…Honey from the Rock’s Roast Duck with Cassava and Wild Dandelion Greens.  I picked Claudia’s entry because it was as close to the type of wild, foraged meal that Katniss would have pulled together in District 12.  I thought Claudia’s post was original, interesting and a genuine representation of the food in the book.  I will say I wish Claudia posted some recipes!  Some honorable mentions – kudos to the ambitious bread bakers (Eliot’s Eats, Sweet Almond Tree), Squirrel Head Manor’s intriguing Rabbit Stew, and This Mama Cooks’ beautiful photographs.   Thanks so much for letting me participate in this fun challenge! I look forward to following everyone’s blogs in the future!

Congratulations Claudia...Katniss would be proud!  Wear your winner's badge with pride (and alongside your five (!?) others...).  And thanks so much to Wendy for being our judge for this round!

Next up: The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri