Cinnamon and Gunpowder
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Cinnamon and Gunpowder

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  1,365 ratings  ·  412 reviews
A gripping adventure, a seaborne romance, and a twist on the tale of Scheherazade—with the best food ever served aboard a pirate’s ship

The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by the ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. He will be spared, she tells him, as long as he puts exquisite food in front of her every Sunday without fail.

To appease the...more
Hardcover, 318 pages
Published June 4th 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli BrownCharlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald DahlLives of Notorious Cooks by Brendan ConnellAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Flavorwire's 50 Essential Novels for Foodies
1st out of 49 books — 29 voters
Allegiant by Veronica RothFour by Veronica RothThe House of Hades by Rick RiordanFangirl by Rainbow RowellThe Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
2013 Book
6th out of 200 books — 170 voters

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Community Reviews

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Kat Kennedy
I described this book to my mother. “It’s about a chef who gets kidnapped by pirates. He has to cook a gourmet meal for the pirate captain once a week. And this pirate captain, mom, she is AWESOME!”

My mom smiled knowingly, “Oh. And then they start getting it on like rabbits!”

I faltered for a moment, stalling while trying to explain. “No! It’s not a romance-romance. I mean, they do develop a relationship but it’s…not a focus in the novel.”

My mom seemed to understand, giving a confident nod. “So h...more
This becoming woman sitting across from me was as grisly a villain as ever walked the earth, and yet I was more at home in the quiet of her parlor and the comfort of a good meal than I had been since my ordeal began. Taste and talk---these were the privileges of the living. I could refuse to make conversation and bring out the monster in her, or I could pacify and live long enough to escape.

When Chef Owen Wedgwood is kidnapped by pirates, he finds himself the recipient of an odd request from the...more
Christy B
I need to preface this review with the statement that lady pirates are most likely my favorite all-time historical subject. I study and read about them, I watch TV and films with them, I even create my own lady pirate characters for stories. I love them.

So, the fact that this book contained a fierce red-headed lady pirate captain, I was all over it, so to speak. There was the fear that I may be disappointed (it's not like books about lady pirates grow on trees) because this book was written by a...more
A chef is kidnapped by a beautiful, red-haired female pirate captain and forced to cook her gourmet meals. There are so many ways this book could have gone wrong, but it avoided the pitfalls to be a very fun, exciting and at times serious read.

I was afraid the book would be fluff, falling into cliches of the misunderstood and noble pirate who would not actually harm anyone, and the prissy, pampered chef. But it wasn't long before those cliches were jettisoned like so many cannonballs. (Though he...more
Eli Brown’s infectious romp of a novel has a thoroughly modern sensibility dressed in the garb of yore. It is the early 1800’s and Owen Wedgwood is chef to Lord Ramsey, one of the chief shareholders of the Pendleton Trading Company in England which trades opium for tea, silk, silver, and spices in Asia. Enter Hannah Mabbot, pirate extraordinaire, defender of the underdog, and avenger of the exploited.
”Then entered a pillar of menace, a woman in an olive long-coat. Her red hair hung loose over h
Diane S.
This extremely inventive novel takes place in 1819 on the high seas, when Owen Wedgewood, chef to Lord Ramsey, is kidnapped by the notorious pirate Hannah Mabbot. After killing Lord Ramsey, who was at dinner, Mabbot eats some of the food on the table and falls in love with the cooking skills of Wedgewood. It is his narration we follow and a well written one it is, in short Wedgewood is a wordsmith, his prose is a wonder. Mabbot promises not to kill him if he makes her a sumptuous dinner every Su...more
Read This Review & More Like It At Ageless Pages Reviews

Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a hard book to review because it’s a hard book to define. Part adventure, part food writing, and part romance, this epistolary novel is as complex as the dinners Wedge creates, as beautiful as the love that grows, and as bittersweet as the ending. Tears weren’t expected in a story about a chef creating new meals for a group of pirates every week, but they came all the same.

I was madly, head-over-heels in love w...more
First of all, lets talk about this cover. It's gorgeous no? The colour, the artwork, the smoking gun, and the badass female pirate with her chef. I love it. It sets a tone for the book.

Okay, this book was an imagery feast for me. Brown really created quite the visual adventure with the beautiful contrast of gritty and dark pirate life with the comforting feeling that could only be brought on by enjoying a deliciously cooked meal (seriously, don't read this book on a hungry stomach). He spares no...more
Kara Rae Garland
I'm almost done with this book and I just have to say that it is absolutely delightful. Owen Wedgewood's indignation is amusing and descriptions of his painstakingly won meals luxuriant. I haven't read many books about pirates so I can confidently say this is the best I've ever read.
Excellent storytelling. Normally I wouldn't want to read about pirates, but the endearing and quirky characters, the details of cuisine, and the opium war/tea trade historical background made this book compelling.
This book is a hilarious, whimsical novel that features two of my favorite things: pirate queens and FOOD. Captured by the red-haired Mad Hannah Mabbot, Shark of the Indian Ocean, personal chef Owen Wedgwood must now spend his weeks cooking her feasts in a ship's galley with the barest of larders. He's short on supplies and has none of the implements that a self-respecting French-trained chef would require, so he's forced to improvise:

While I was searching vainly for a rolling pin, it occurred t
Very well done! Not everyone will like it, but it's a great read. It is romance the way Stevenson and Dumas wrote romance. So don't look here for erotica, but there is love and adventure and exotic locales and the high seas, too. I mean, what is better than a good pirate story?

Our "hero", Owen Wedgwood, is a chef whose life is totally destroyed when his employer is shot in front of his eyes and he is taken by the ruthless pirate captain who did the killing to cook a weekly "gourmet" feast for he...more
Warnie B.
I mean, how could I possibly resist a book with a quote on the back cover that says, "Cinnamon and Gunpowder reads as if Joss Whedon and Patrick O'Brian sailed to Copenhagen together and, after surviving a ninja attack and a firefight at sea, fell in love over a seven course meal at Noma"? Well, I couldn't.

I'm not entirely sure I'd describe this book in the same way, but man, I enjoyed it. A lot. But then, I kind of have a thing for pirates and food, and that sums this book up pretty nicely.

I n...more
Annie Leonard
I lost an entire day to this darn book, it was so fun, sensual, suspenseful, and even enlightening. Told entirely in journal entries, this is the story of a pirate queen with an agenda, who takes a famous chef captive during a precision strike on land, and informs him that he must cook something fabulous and different for her each Sunday. Her ship is staffed with a great cast of pirate characters, each with a past, of course, including the first mate, a giant of a man who spends his free time kn...more
May 10, 2014 Jenne rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jenne by: Barbara's Picks
So, here's the premise: a chef gets kidnapped by a lady pirate.
If you haven't already opened a new tab to request this book from the library, we are very different people.

In a way, this was the sort of book I hoped Delicious! would be--lots of rapturous descriptions of food (but not in a gross way), enjoyably cliche stock characters, over-the-top plot twists, and a little bit of romance to tie everything together. Just somehow in this one, it all worked.
Well, I tried... I tried to suspend disbelief for this book, and also to overlook some of the overly wordy nature of the writing (show, don't tell!). All in all, it took too much effort before I decided to call it quits.

The idea behind the plot is unique, but there was so much that was highly implausible and ridiculous, that it just seemed nonsensical. It felt like the author was trying to force modern ideas and words into the 19th century, and it didn't work. It was also hard to follow certain...more
I absolutely LOVED “Cinnamon and Gunpowder.” It’s one of those books you're almost reluctant to finish because then you'll have to admit it's finally over. The author did a smash up job mingling something along the lines of “Pirates of the Caribbean” with mouthwatering food. It took me a bit longer to finish than normal, but I fully think this book is one that’s meant to be savored. The few times I read more than a few chapters I felt somewhat hollow. It was as though I wasn’t able to fully abso...more
J Edward Tremlett
It should go without saying that being captured by pirates is never an easy thing. The company is questionable, the conditions are terrible, and you never know when they’ll tire of having you around and toss you over the side, or worse.

So when Owen Wedgewood — chef to the late Lord Ramsey — is bundled up with the rest of the loot when Mad Hannah Mabbot comes to call, he can only expect the worst. However, it just so happens that this pirate queen has a taste for the finer things in life, and she...more
I was convinced the author is female, until I read the little profile at the back which indicates that he is a man. (Eli being one of those names I'm not sure of, because it ends with an "ee" sound and therefore sounds girly to my ears).

Anyhow. Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a novel about a chef who is kidnapped by a female pirate captain, forced to become her personal chef cooking a nice meal for her once a week, while she continues her pursuit of a mysterious individual and a vendetta.

The writing i...more

The story is told in First person POV in the form of a clandestine diary the main character - a renowned and highly trained chef - keeps, recounting his adventures as a captive onboard a pirate ship, forced to cook Sunday dinner for the pirate captain, “Mad” Hannah Mabbot.

I wasn’t thrilled with the First person POV or the diary. It meant every adventure recounted was being written down after the main character had once again made it to safety, draining each exciting moment of some of the tension...more
Owen Wedgewood is a world-renowned chef whose life changing abruptly when he meets Mad Hannah Mabbot on the high seas. He is taken captive on her ship called The Flying Rose, and in order to stay alive Mad Mabbot bargains with him. She tells him that he has to cook for her, and her alone, every Sunday. Not only must he prepare the finest meals he knows, they must all be different. Not to mention he is in the middle of the deep, blue sea and his pillage is limited. Owen obliges and accepts the de...more
3.5***. Quite an unusual and creative novel! I don't think I'll see its like for a long time. Swashbuckling, and blended with a large dollop of gentle comedy. Take a pirate queen and the cook to Lord Ramsey in 1819, stir their stories together, simmer slowly, and what a delicious dish will result!! Light, amusing reading.

Lord Ramsey, his cook Owen Wedgwood, and guests are set upon by pirates in Ramsey's country home. Ramsey is head of the Pendleton Trading Co.,engaged in mutually advantageous tr...more
Well, after several crappy tries, I've finally got this to stick.


So, I thought the title was funny. Most of the times, that's all there is to my reading habits - the title is great or the cover is pretty. Needless to say, most covers these days are pretty and titles inventive, but the contents are as stale as ever. But this book, Eli Brown's Cinnamon and Gunpowder is the rare book that feeds my questionable habit. I loved it.

Generally, I'm not too enamored with the idea of swashbuckling pira...more
I normally don't read or review books of this genre but Eli Brown has written an adventure anyone who loves food, adventure, love and a little bit of murder will enjoy and I couldn't put it down.

The story begins in 1819 and Owen Wedgwood, a renown chef is kidnapped by Hannah Mabbot after she kills employer. Wedgwood is forced to cook a gourmet meal for Mabbot every Sunday with whatever is available on a pirate ship. In return Owen is allowed to live and stay on the ship. Throughout the journey...more
It summer time and time for big bold and fun. Yes Fun lots of fun. Imaginative fun. Fun that comes with play like a pirate.
And that is exactly what Cinnamon and Gunpowder give us. Fun.

Now I wish I cold say that from the first chapter onward it was a ez read but It wasn't. I found my self starting over and go back. But then like a action movie it grabbed me and away we went.

I am sure I will revisit this review but for now I am glad I found the book.
Teresa Ellis
I don't think I will give it five stars, because I kept having to remind myself that Mad Hannah was a vicious, murdering pirate and the fact that I was rooting for her in the end worried me. I really do like the book. I didn't much like the book at the beginning because of the violent attack at the beginning of the book, but the main character saved the book for me. He wasn't the cliché hero type. He wasn't brave or strong or dashing, or anything like regular heroes in books and that is why I li...more
At the heart of this swashbuckling pirate story filled with clever wordplay and exquisite culinary dishes you'll want to lick from the page lies a surprisingly moral message about outward appearances not always being what they seem. Five stars to Eli Brown for keeping me so thoroughly entertained with wit and adventure and even a bit of sweet, sweet romance.

(Review based upon an Advanced Reader's Copy.)
A chef kidnapped by a pirate and forced to prepare, once per week, a fabulous meal for her, without a proper kitchen or ingredients? Scheherazade with recipes, this is a ripping seafaring yarn and a highly enjoyable read.
"This body is not brave. Bespeckled with blood, surrounded by enemies, and bound on a dark course whose ultimate destination I cannot fathom - I am not brave." (3)

"'Petty?' Mabbot's own cheeks flushed. 'For this pettiness ten million Bengalis starved in their own fields because the Pendleton Company forced them to grow opium instead of food. China herself is capsized! She can trust none of her own officials to keep the tide of smugglers out. She has sprung a leak the size of the Pearl River and...more
Do not read this book on an empty stomach. Thumbscrews would be merciful in comparison.

There's no way to go wrong on an amazing premise like this (a captive master chef plays culinary Scheherazade to infamous pirate queen as they sail through storms and sea battles to destroy the British opium trade -- what's not to like?), but Eli Brown and his beautiful words hold you as much a captive as if you were trapped on a pirate ship in the middle of the sea yourself -- and you won't mind at all.

You ju...more
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Literatti Hotties: * Cinnamon and Gunpowder 5 6 Jul 14, 2014 07:27PM  
Gwinnett County P...: Dead Men Cook No Meals 1 12 Aug 05, 2013 04:21PM  
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Eli Brown lives on an experimental urban farm in Alameda, California. His writing has appeared in The Cortland Review and Homewrecker: An Adultery Reader. His first novel, The Great Days, won the Fabri Literary Prize.
More about Eli Brown...
The Great Days Homewrecker: An Adultery Anthology

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“A knight can fight. As you well know, I fight about as well as a pillow."

"That's an insult to pillows. At least they can take a beating.”
“I now have some intimacy with death, and like the hops in a beer, it has both embittered and fortified me.” 7 likes
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