Newcomer
November 23rd, 2018 by diane92345

Like Columbo, Newcomer is a new approach to a police procedural. Eight stories each tell an investigative tale. By the last chapter, the detective has solved the crime.

Precinct Detective Sergeant Kaga is a new transfer to Tokyo’s police department investigating a murder. He is a self-effacing bumbler on the surface but in reality is as smart as a whip. Each of the eight individual stories are interesting for their captivating character studies. They show both the similarities and differences between life in Japan and in America. However, they also provide clues to the overall mystery, the murder of a recently divorced woman. For example, Kaga verifies a suspect’s alibi by whether the suspect was wearing his suit coat when he went to the rice cracker shop. In other stories, Kaga tracks down the sweet buns and kitchen scissors found at the scene of the murder.  In all the stories, the people Kaga is interviewing, and the reader, do not know what or why he is investigating seemingly unrelated items.

I adored this delightful Japanese take on a police procedural! The character studies were interesting enough on their own to read the book. There were definitely clues to the murderer’s identity for the observant reader, which unfortunately was not me.  However, I liked the challenge. Newcomer has my highest recommendation for anyone looking for something completely different that most mystery books. 5 stars!

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , ,

Simply Bento
October 11th, 2018 by diane92345

All kinds of lunches, dinners and holiday meals are included in Simply Bento.

This cookbook includes Japanese, sandwich, noodle, rice and sushi bento recipes. It has a full chapter featuring vegan bento recipes and another for low carb bento. Each entree’s recipe comes with suggestions for side dishes and a make-ahead plan. Most recipes include a beautiful full color picture.

As a lover of Japanese culture through manga and anime, I want to create a real bento box for myself. Only three things stand in my way: being gluten free; not having any time to cook anything, even breakfast, in the morning; and not being a great chef. While this cookbook doesn’t provide allergen information, the recipe ingredients can be easily reviewed and substituted if necessary. The second issue means that almost all of these recipes have to wait for the weekend for me (and I assume many others) to have the time to cook them. Many of the cooking techniques require at least a medium skill set. If you are a beginning chef, it’s probably better to start with an easier book.

I loved the instructions for loading up your pantry with Japanese staples. Simply Bento includes instructions to make most of the Japanese sauces, like teriyaki and sweet and sour, from scratch. I also loved the cute side dishes like cherry tomatoes stuffed with cottage cheese and Tako (octopus) Sausage made with cocktail franks. Some of the recipes are traditional Japanese and some are Americanized like Taco Rice, Hamburger and Hot Dog Bento.

Love Japanese culture? want to try something different for lunch? Have an extra 30 minutes in the morning and some good knife skills? Simply Bento is highly recommended for you. Unfortunately, due to the lack of nutritional information, I have to take off 1 star leaving Simply Bento with 4 stars.

Thanks to Quarto, Race Point Publishing and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,