The Incompetent Cook Road Tests… Tex-Mex from Scratch by Jonas Cramby

Every week Booktopia’s Andrew Cattanach reviews a cookbook.

He is an incompetent cook.

He is The Incompetent Cook.

Tex-Mex from Scratch

by Jonas Cramby

It’s time for another instalment of The Incompetent Cook. This week he road tests Tex-Mex from Scratch by Jonas Cramby. Scroll down to see how you could win a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker valued at $699!


It’s been a busy few months for The Incompetent Cook. But now it’s time to do what I do best.

Burn things and tell you about it.

From the first moment I saw Tex-Mex from Scratch I was enthralled. And then I saw its accompanying piece Texas BBQ and I fell in love. What can I say, they had me at smoked meat.

In my travels I have been to Texas. I enjoyed it immensely and was particularly taken by how many animals they found went with hot sauce. And while I haven’t been to Mexico, I am a longtime admirer of Doritos. I decided to give Tex-Mex’s Shrimp Taquitos a try.
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The Identity of Jack the Ripper revealed in new book

The identity of Jack the Ripper, one of the longest unsolved mysteries of all time, has been discovered.

Pretty crazy huh?

Dr Jari Louhelainen, a senior lecturer in molecular biology at Liverpool John Moores, has used cutting-edge DNA techniques to prove Jack the Ripper was a Polish migrant named Aaron Kosminski.

Kosminski lived in Whitechapel at the times of the savage 1888 murders of five women and was committed to an asylum in 1891 until his death in 1919. At the time police suspected him of the crimes and at one point put him under surveillance.

Dr Jari Louhelainen obtained the DNA sample from a shawl found by the body of Catherine Eddowes, one of the Ripper’s victims.

The shawl, bought at auction by businessman Russell Edwards in 2007, was found to contain DNA from her blood as well as DNA from the killer.

Russell Edwards said, “The circle is now complete. One of the greatest unsolved crime mysteries of all time has been solved through cutting-edge science, historical research and a great deal of determination and good fortune.”

I know what you’re thinking. How could the sample still hold such a compelling case 126 years after her death? And, even if the shawl has traces of the killer’s DNA, how did they get DNA samples from Aaron Kosminski nearly a century after his death?

All the answers can be found in a new book, Naming Jack the Ripper, written by Edwards. Bringing together ground-breaking forensic discoveries and gripping historical detective work, Naming Jack the Ripper constructs the first truly convincing case for identifying the world’s most notorious serial killer.

Grab a copy of Naming Jack the Ripper here

What Cathryn Read – The August Round Up (by bestselling author Cathryn Hein)

Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of The French Prize, Heartland and much more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

A rather mixed bag this month, with everything from an unputdownable epic fantasy romance series to a fabulous sports romance and a gruesome murder mystery. Great fun!

Days of Blood and Starlight / Dreams of Gods and Monsters

by Laini Taylor

This series… I’m not sure I have the words. It’s incredible. The first, Daughter of Smoke and Bone enthralled me deeply enough, but parts two and three? I honestly couldn’t stop reading. These are big fat bricks of books and I devoured them. Which is amazing because fantasy is not something I often read.

I’m not sure I can tell you anything about the plot of these two without giving away too much of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and I wouldn’t want to spoil this series for anyone. What I will say is that the scope of the overarching plot is breathtaking in its complexity, the writing is rich and mesmerising, and the themes are huge. As for the love story between the chimera-raised Karou and seraphim hero Akira… heartbreaking and beautiful. Sigh.

Start with Daughter of Smoke and Bone and keep going. This series is a triumph.

Grab a copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy here

We Were Liars

by E. Lockhart

I did not realise this was a young adult book when I bought it. It appeared in the publisher Allen & Unwin’s newsletter and I liked the sound of it so decided to give it a whirl. I can’t say I’m sorry I did because it was a very enjoyable read with a nice twist at the end. The writing style was interesting, using single words and brief paragraphing that some might find irritating but worked for me because I felt it reflected the narrator Cadence Sinclair’s fractured mind.

We Were Liars is coming of age story with a suspense element. Cadence is from an old money family who spend their summers on a private island. There, she hangs with her cousins – the self-labelled Liars – living a spoiled life. One summer something goes terribly wrong but Cadence can’t remember what it is. Her mind blocks it out. As she narrates her story and tries to resurrect her memory, she relives the lead up to that time; the family’s acute dysfunction, her friendships and loves. The moment when everything clicks into place in the end is nicely satisfying.

 Grab a copy of We Were Liars here

The Devil in Denim

by Melanie Scott

Dark fantasy readers will know Melanie Scott as M. J Scott, of Half Light City series fame, but the Melbourne based author has turned her hand to sports romance. And what’s not to enjoy in that!

Maggie Jameson’s dad has owned the New York Saints major league baseball team forever. She grew up breathing the Saints, the team acting as a surrogate family after the death of her mother, and the players stepping into the role of protective elder brothers. She, in turn, is like the team’s mascot, and is affectionately known as Saint Maggie. All she wants is to take over the running of the team that is her life, except her dad throws a curveball and suddenly sells the Saints to a trio of rather hunky, super-successful men. Conflict ensues!

I loved how this book started. Maggie slamming down tequila in a bar only to be rescued rather manfully by our hot hero Alex Winters. This had a nice rawness to it and told me I was in for a rollicking adult romance. The rest didn’t disappoint either. The dialogue between Maggie and Alex was fantastic – witty and sexy – and the racy bits suitably so. A perfect read to relax with.

This is the beginning of a related trilogy featuring the Saints’ three new owners , with Angel in Armani coming in January. Can’t wait!

  Grab a copy of The Devil in Denim here

The Devil’s Workshop

by Alex Grecian

I adore Victorian era set stories, in particular mysteries and crime and the more gas-light atmospheric the better. A legacy, I expect, from my deep love for Sherlock Holmes (hurry up Anthony Horowitz with Moriarty).

This is the third in Grecian’s Murder Squad series and probably his goriest. The Yard and The Black Country contained their fair share of icky murders but in resurrecting Jack the Ripper Grecian has made this book particularly blood-soaked. With some of the plot carrying over from the previous books I suggest reading books one and two first to get the most out of this.

The Devil’s Workshop sees Inspector Day and Sergeant Hammersmith investigating a suspiciously imaginative breakout from Bridewell Prison. Now some of the nation’s worst murderers are on the loose and one of the sickest knows where Day and his heavily pregnant wife Claire lives. During the ensuing man-hunt we’re sent twisting and tripping over and under London, following not only Day and Hammersmith but Grecian’s collection of evil-minded monsters. The conclusion had me fretting badly. Not one for late night reading!

Grab a copy of The Devil’s Workshop here

Hein, CathrynThanks Cathryn Hein, we look forward to seeing what you have read next month!

Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned.

Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her short fiction has been recognised in numerous contests, and published in Woman’s Day.

Now living in Melbourne, Cathryn writes full-time.

Click here to see Cathryn’s author page

The French Prize

by Cathryn Hein

An ancient riddle, a broken vow – a modern-day quest for a medieval treasure.

Australian-born Dr. Olivia Walker is an Oxford academic with a reputation as one of the world’s leading Crusade historians and she’s risked everything on finding one of the most famous swords in history – Durendal. Shrouded in myth and mystery, the sword is fabled to have belonged to the warrior Roland, a champion of Charlemagne’s court, and Olivia is determined to prove to her detractors that the legend is real. Her dream is almost within reach when she discovers the long-lost key to its location in Provence, but her benefactor – Raimund Blancard – has other ideas.

For more than a millennium, the Blancard family have protected the sword. When his brother is tortured and killed by a man who believes he is Roland’s rightful heir, Raimund vows to end the bloodshed forever. He will find Durendal and destroy it, but to do that he needs Olivia’s help.

Now Olivia is torn between finding the treasure for which she has hunted all her life and helping the man she has fallen in love with destroy her dream. And all the while, Raimund’s murderous nemesis is on their trail, and he will stop at nothing to claim his birthright.

Grab a copy of The French Prize here

Did you win a signed copy of The Silkworm by J.K. Rowling?

During July and August we gave you the chance to win a hardcover edition of The Silkworm signed by J.K.Rowling as Robert Galbraith!

All you needed to do to enter was purchase any of J.K. Rowling’s Adult Fiction titles before August 31st to go in the draw.

And the lucky winner is (drumroll please)…………

S.Burdett from Wonga Park in Victoria!


the-silkwormThe Silkworm

by Robert Galbraith, J.K. Rowling

A compulsively readable crime novel with twists at every turn, The Silkworm is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant Robin Ellacott.

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises.

The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him. And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before…

Grab a copy of The Silkworm here

Winners recap:

Framed photograph from the gorgeous book Outback Stations

M.Ellis, North Haven, NSW

Copies of LEGO Mini-Figure Year by Year

A.Burnell, St Ives, NSW
K.Gruber,  Roseville, NSW
J.McVernon, Black Rock, VIC
M.Rook, Carindale, QLD
K.Pigram, Randwick, NSW
L.Wakerley, Calamvale, QLD
A.Cummins, Birchgrove, NSW
E.Chan, Hornsby Westfield, NSW
H. Indorato, North Ryde, NSW
D.Freeman, Taree, NSW

The Ploughmen prize pack…

J.Scott, Neerim Junction, VIC

Congratulations to the winners!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here

And the winner of a framed photograph by author of Outback Stations, Daniel McIntosh is…

During August we gave you the chance to win a framed photograph by author of Outback Stations, Daniel McIntosh!

The photograph is featured in Outback Stations, which was born from a competition on the Station Photos Facebook page to show a day in the life of an outback station.

All you needed to do to enter was buy Outback Stations

And the lucky winner is…

M.Ellis, North Haven, NSW



outback-stationsOutback Stations

by Daniel McIntosh

In March 2013, Dan McIntosh had an idea. A station cook and keen photographer, he wanted to share the pictures he had taken of the outback life he loved so much. Encouraged by his sister, he started a community Facebook page called Station Photos. Dan wasn’t expecting much but within days the bush telegraph kicked in and pretty soon thousands of people were liking and contributing their own photos to the page. A year on, Station Photos has almost 50,000 followers and a staggering 30 million views from around the world.

What people love so much about Station Photos is that it’s real. Real people taking photos on their phones and cameras of what makes them laugh (and cry), the land they love, their kids, their mates and their animals. It’s a way of life that most Australians – living in the cities and along the coast – never get to experience, yet it embodies so much of the spirit and folklore of Australia.

Outback Stations was born from a competition on the Station Photos page to show a day in the life of an outback station. The response was positively overwhelming — and the very best of the images are featured in this book. Like the Facebook page, this book is a celebration of country Australia and the way we live and enjoy life on the land.

Grab a copy of Outback Stations here

Congratulations to the winner!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here

And the winners of a copy of LEGO Mini-Figure Year by Year are…

During July and August we gave you the chance to win a copy of LEGO Minifigure Year by Year, a visual history of the amazing LEGO mini-figure phenomenon, with three mini-figures included.

All you needed to do to enter was buy LEGO Architecture: The Visual Guide.

And the lucky winners are…

A.Burnell, St Ives, NSW
K.Gruber,  Roseville, NSW
J.McVernon, Black Rock, VIC
M.Rook, Carindale, QLD
K.Pigram, Randwick, NSW
L.Wakerley, Calamvale, QLD
A.Cummins, Birchgrove, NSW
E.Chan, Hornsby Westfield, NSW
H. Indorato, North Ryde, NSW
D.Freeman, Taree, NSW


Lego_BookcoverLEGO Architecture: The Visual Guide

LEGO® Architecture: The Visual Guide is a stunning guide to the LEGO Architecture series and to the iconic buildings that inspired it.

Celebrate the past, present and future of architecture with the amazing LEGO Architecture sets which showcase incredible buildings from around the world. From the Empire State Building and the Guggenheim, to Farnsworth House, LEGO® Architecture: The Visual Guide reveals amazing exploded images of the LEGO Architecture models, showing every LEGO brick involved in the build.

You’ll explore the profiles of the LEGO artists and builders who created the LEGO Architecture sets in new amazing levels of detail, getting to know everything about their creative processes and their designing and building techniques. You’ll also be taken on an in-depth exploration of the real buildings from around the world on which the LEGO Architecture series is based and learn why the LEGO team chose each inspiring building and how they recreated it in LEGO bricks.

LEGO® Architecture: The Visual Guide is perfect for architects, designers and architecture enthusiasts of all ages.

Grab a copy of LEGO Architecture : The Visual Guide here

Congratulations to the winners!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here

And the winner of The Ploughmen prize pack is…

During July/August we gave you the chance to win a book pack for dad valued at $199.

All you needed to do to enter was buy The Ploughmen by Kim J. Zupan

And the lucky winner is…

J.Scott, Neerim Junction, VIC



9781447247814The Ploughmen

by Kim J. Zupan

The story of two men – a killer awaiting trial, and a troubled young deputy – sitting across from each other in the dark, talking through the bars of a county jail cell.

John Gload, so brutally adept at his craft that only now, at the age of 71, has he faced the prospect of long-term incarceration; and Valentine Millimaki, low man in the Copper County sheriff’s department, who draws the overnight shift after Gload’s arrest, tasked with getting the killer to talk about a string of unsolved murders. With a disintegrating marriage now further collapsing under the strain of his night duty, and his safety threatened from within his own department, Millimaki finds himself seeking counsel from a remorseless criminal. The strange intimacy of their connection takes a startling turn with a brazen act of violence, a manhunt, and a stunning revelation that leave Gload’s past and Millimaki’s future forever entwined.

Grab a copy of The Ploughmen here

Congratulations to the winner!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here


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