Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Partial Review of The Secrets of Still Waters Chasm, Served with Penne with Roasted Eggplant Puree

Last year I was on the TLC Book Tour for The Secrets of Ohnita Harbor by Patricia Crisafulli, the first book in the Ohnita Harbor Mystery Series and today, I am happy to be a stop on the tour for book two, The Secrets of Still Waters Chasm. This will be a partial review as I was having challenges with my e-book ARC and it's taking me longer than I expected to read it. So, I'll just post my initial thoughts along with a recipe inspired by my reading. 

Publisher's Blurb:

On a beautiful September afternoon, a hike through the pristine wild of Still Waters Chasm become a path of mystery and deadly danger for Gabriela Domenici and her boyfriend, Daniel Red Deer. First, they take a side trail to an inexplicable construction site in the middle of the woods, where every tree has been cut down and a huge truck bearing strange-looking equipment is parked in the middle. As they continue their hike to the lake, they find a man convulsing with his last breaths, not far from the lifeless body of a woman. After going for help, Gabriela and Daniel return to the scene—only to find the two people and their canoe and gear are gone. It seems impossible that two bodies could revive and leave on their own, but there is no other explanation. 

When she conducts a library outreach program in the rural Town of Livery, near Still Waters Chasm, Gabriela discovers a community that is both curious and suspicious. There, she meets Lucinda Nanz, an herbalist whose encyclopedic knowledge of plants for help and harm is both fascinating and troubling, and Wendy Haughton, a young woman who desperately wants to sell an old drawing of unknown origin so she can escape her abusive husband. Despite the state police's warnings to stay out of the investigation, and Daniel's urging to not get involved, Gabriela cannot stay away from Livery and Still Waters Chasm—which puts her on a collision course with yet another murder and people who will stop at nothing to prevent her from getting too close to the truth that could destroy chasm. 

Publisher: Woodhall Press (September 5, 2023)
Paperback: 220 pages

My Thoughts So Far:

I am at about 35% of the book and find myself caught up in the story. Gabriela is suffering from PTSD from the first book when she was nearly killed. (I won't say more due to spoilers and I do always recommend starting at the beginning of a series even if there is enough info given to catch you up on what happened in the second book.) Being a book lover, I like that Gabriela is a Director of Circulation and Head of Programing of the Ohnita Harbor Library (which is in a castle-like building in town). In this book she is trying too create can outreach program in a local community in nearby Still Waters Chasm but some mysterious goings on and a couple of murders are getting in the way. I will come back and give my full review soon as I think, even though it's a challenge with the ARC format, I really want to know what happens. 

Food Inspiration: 

Even at 35% in, there is plenty of food in this book. Gabriela and her Italian mother cook frequently so there is mention of eggplant parmigiana, pasta, salad, steak, meatballs, cookies, lemonade, fruit punch, tea, berries, maple syrup, salmon, eggs, bread, pies, preserves, potatoes, apples, honey, zucchini, chard, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, bananas, yogurt, milk, popcorn, fried perch, Cobb salad, fish sandwich and fries, beer and red wine so far. 

For my bookish dish, I decided on pasta with eggplant as Gabriela's mother, Agnese, says Gabriela's son eats too much pasta when she finds out she is serving leftover eggplant farm to her boyfriend for dinner and planning to feed Ben Can there be such a thing?

Giada's Penne with Roasted Eggplant Puree is an old favorite. I posted this recipe in 2011.

Penne with Roasted Eggplant Puree
Adapted from "Giada's Kitchen" by Giada De Laurentiis
(4 to 6 Servings)

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, whole (I used 5 cloves)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 pound penne pasta
1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (I used feta cheese)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the eggplant, cherry tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and red

pepper flakes. Spread the vegetables out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Roast in the oven until the vegetables are tender and the eggplant is golden, about 35 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, place the pine nuts in a small baking dish. Place in the oven on the rack below the vegetables. Roast until golden, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl and reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid.

Transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor. Add the torn mint leaves and extra-virgin olive oil. Puree the vegetables.

Transfer the pureed vegetables to the bowl with the pasta and add the Parmesan. Stir to combine, adding the pasta cooking liquid 1/2 cup at a time until the pasta is saucy. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top and serve.

My Notes/Results: This makes a nice chunky sauce with good flavor. I like the combination of the roasted veggies with the coolness of the mint and the slight kick from the red pepper. I used 5 large cloves of garlic in mine and liked the extra flavor--since it roasts along with the eggplant and tomato it doesn't overpower. I think the Parmesan called for in the recipe would have been good too, but I couldn't resist adding the feta--which I needed to use up anyway, and it went nicely with the mint and pine nuts. I used a multi-grain penne pasta to get a little more fiber in and the thick sauce held up well to it. This is a great hearty vegetarian dish, although adding a little sausage certainly would be delicious too. 


Note: A review copy of "The Secrets of Still Waters Chasm" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and learn what other reviewers thought about the book below.

Thursday, September 28th: @donasbooks
Thursday, September 28th: @subakka.bookstuff and Subakka.bookstuff
Friday, September 29th: @strandedinchaos9438
Monday, October 2nd: @aimeedarsreads
Wednesday, October 
Friday, October 6th: @fashionablyfifty
Monday, October 9th: Bookchickdi
Wednesday, October 11th:  Kahakai Kitchen
Thursday, October 12th: @kristens.reading.nook
Sunday, October 15th@literally_lit_in_miami 
Monday, October 16th: What is That Book About
Wednesday, October 18thGirl Who Reads
Thursday, October 19th@always_reading1
Friday, October 20th: @chicagobooklover 
Monday, October 23rd: Books Cooks Looks
Friday, November 3rd: @welovebigbooksandwecannotlie
TBD: Friday, September 29thLaura’s Reviews