Friday, August 26, 2022

Better the Blood by Michael Bennett

Happy Friday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things blog tour for Michael Bennett's Better the Blood

Hana Westerman is a good cop. But with a false complaint against her and stress with her daughter, the last thing she needs is for a killer to target her. 

But that's exactly what seems to have happened when she receives an anonymous video that leads to the discovery of a dead body. 

And then it happens again. Hana is the first to wonder if they could be dealing with a serial killer. But this killer is motivated by something stronger than desire. This killer is interested in meeting out justice. And Hana has caught his attention. The question is, can Hana catch him before he sets his eye on her as a victim?

I love, love, love this book! A Māori detective living in Auckland and investigating a serial killer is interesting enough. But in Better the Blood our main character is also forced to face the dirty history of her land and the way her own people were treated—and her involvement in a system built on racism! 

The book begins with a daguerreotype. A picture of a group of police and the "criminal" they've caught and punished. 

And while it's not immediately clear what bearing the photo has on a story that takes place well over a century later, it is certain that it's not the last we've seen of the picture or the story behind it. 

And it does indeed come into play again later as Hana investigates the crimes taking place in her city. 

I know very little about New Zealand and its history. Fortunately, Bennett does a great job of describing the land and the culture in such a way that the details truly come to life—the good and the bad. It makes for a read that elicits complicated emotions as the characters' stories and the killer's motives become more clear. 

This is a UK release that I highly suggest seeking out as it's an absolutely must read for crime fiction fans! And another excellent addition to New Zealand's community of crime fiction!

Monday, August 8, 2022

Chinese-ish by Rosheen Kaul & Joanna Hu

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu's Chinese-ish: Home cooking, not quite authenti, 100% delicious. 

I love food. Always have. And I really love books about food. Specifically cookbooks. It's becoming an issue :)

But what a good issue to have! 

To me, a good cookbook is clear and well written and exciting to the point that it inspires you to head into your kitchen and try your own hand at someone else's favorite dishes!

Chinese-Ish fit the bill in both those regards. 

The book uses a combination of illustrations and pictures (because, let's face it, pictures are pretty much key in making you want to try a recipe!)

The book starts off with a great section on "key information"—info on basics you should know and understand for the cookbook ahead (standard Chinese cooking techniques, "how to cook nearly every type of noodle," how to make dumplings, and even condiments!). And once we get past the basics, we dive straight into the authors' fabulous recipes! Some are more of a twist on a traditional dish, but everything is excellent! 

I had to start with "A Very Inauthentic Prawn Toast." I don't know why this was such a common dish on takeout menus back home but I haven't seen it on any menus since we moved! Which makes me sad. Being able to make it at home makes me happy!

Chao ta bee hoon (Crispy Rice Vermicelli Pancakes) are another win and a definite must make! 

There are multiple wonton recipes and multiple ways to cook them. Even a recipe for making your own wonton wrappers and a Wonton Skin Cannoli with Sweet Potato Custard (if you have any wonton wrappers left over!). 

Chinese-ish is out now in the UK from Murdoch books. (It'll be out in the States in November.)

Happy cooking!