Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa Book Review – Plus How to Make Dorayaki!

Earlier this year I came across a book on Goodreads titled Sweet Bean Paste which was recently translated into English. I added it right away and then received a tip from a Goodreads friend and fellow book blogger Evelina@ Avalinahsbooks that it was available on Edelweiss. Luckily, I was approved for it, because it turned out to be one of my favorite books of the year.

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Sweet Bean Paste

by Durian SukegawaAlison Watts

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The story begins with Sentaro, a man who was previously in jail and is now working in a little confectionary shop to pay off some debt. He makes a Japanese sweet called ‘dorayaki’ every day but puts no heart into it at all. He works in a depressed part of town and feels quite depressed himself. He doesn’t have much appreciation for life while spending most evenings drowning his sorrows with alcohol. He’s always wanted to be a writer, but just doesn’t know what his purpose in life is at this point.

One day, he puts an ad out for a helper. A little old lady named Tokue comes to visit Sentaro and begins to chat about his red bean paste. She wants the job, but Sentaro is hesitant to hire her because there are differences in Tokue’s appearance which make her different than other people. Her fingers are disfigured, but after Sentaro tastes some of her sweet bean paste, he begins to question in his mind how he can hire her without offending customers because her sweet, rich bean paste is like nothing he’s ever tasted, and he has to learn how to make it. As time moves on, Tokue becomes part of the shop and enjoys meeting with some of the customers, until a rumor starts and people become afraid of something they don’t truly understand.

I loved the characters and cherished Tokue’s wisdom. Besides teaching Sentaro how to make the best bean paste, she helps him on his journey of self-discovery and teaches him how to truly listen and to be patient.

“We were born in order to see and listen to the world.”

Reading about Tokue’s harrowing past was difficult, yet the unlikely friendships formed between this small group of people is heartwarming. Each of them has something to give one another and as they connect, Sentaro finally begins to see the light from Tokue’s teachings.

After reading the book, I sat for awhile and reflected on Tokue’s suggestions to Sentaro and found the book very educational because of it–from her messages about listening and seeing to also learning about Hansen’s disease in Japanese history. I absolutely adored reading this wonderful book and appreciated the author’s note at the end which explains the author’s experience with Hansen’s disease and the inspiration for this story. This is a book anyone can enjoy and I highly recommend it. My rating is 5*****

I’d like to thank Edelweiss, the publisher, and the author for sharing a copy of this book with me in exchange for an honest review.

5 Sterne

Find this book on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (November 14, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1786071959
  • ISBN-13: 978-1786071958

I was so excited to learn that this book has been adapted to film and it’s available on Netflix. I haven’t watched it yet, but plan to this weekend and I’ll share my thoughts after. Here’s the trailer…


All this reading about Dorayaki and sweet bean paste really sparked my interest. I’d never had dorayaki or even heard of it. I went straight to Amazon and ordered some adzuki beans so that I could experience this Japanese treat with my family.

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What is dorayaki?

Dorayaki (どら焼き, どらやき, 銅鑼焼き, ドラ焼き) is a type of Japanese confection, а red-bean pancake which consists of two small pancake-like patties made from castella wrapped around a filling of sweet Azuki red bean paste.


Making Dorayaki

The first thing I did was soak the beans. I put about a cup of adzuki beans in a jar with water and let them soak overnight. I rinsed them once before and then again in the morning.

 

I decided to make the paste first. I started by putting the beans in the pan with water to cover and brought them to a boil and boiled them for a few minutes. Then I rinsed them completely. I put them back in the pan again with plenty of water to cover and brought them to a boil again. This time, I let them simmer for about an hour until they were soft.

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Once they were soft, I drained the water and blended them up in my Vitamix.

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I blended them until fairly smooth.

Next, I added the paste back to the pan with a heaping half cup of sugar. I stirred it and cooked this down for about five minutes on low heat.

 

I ended up with a nice smooth paste that was thick and not runny.

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Continue reading “Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa Book Review – Plus How to Make Dorayaki!”

Shabby Sunday: Poldark by Winston Graham – 1977

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Today is my 6th Shabby Sunday! To see all the Shabby Sunday books that I’ve chosen, please click on ‘Shabby Sunday’ under categories.


Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then, I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


 

Today’s shabby share is:

Poldark

by Winston Graham

 

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Blurb: A gorgeous new release of the heartwarming and hilarious first novel in the Poldark series, the subject of the landmark BBC series

Ross Poldark is a heartwarming, gripping, and utterly entertaining saga that brings to life an unforgettable cast of characters and one of the greatest love stories of our age.

Ross Poldark returns to Cornwall from war, looking forward to a joyful homecoming with his family and his beloved Elizabeth. But instead he discovers that his father has died, his home is overrun by livestock and drunken servants, and Elizabeth, having believed Ross dead, is now engaged to his cousin. Ross must start over, building a completely new path for his life, one that takes him in exciting and unexpected directions . . .

Thus begins an intricately plotted story spanning loves, lives, and generations. The Poldark series is the masterwork of Winston Graham, who evoked the period and people like only he could, and created a world of rich and poor, loss and love, that readers will not soon forget.

I chose this book because I love the entire saga and my Poldark edition is 40 years old! The actual publication date of Poldark is 1945.


My Thoughts:

It’s 1783, and Ross Poldark is returning home after fighting in the American Revolutionary War. When he arrives he learns that his father is dead, his copper mine is failing, and his sweetheart Elizabeth, whom he loves, is engaged to his cousin Francis. Not only that, but the servants haven’t been keeping up with the estate, and it’s in shambles. His joyful homecoming is crushed and everything is a mess with chickens scattered around in his living room.

 

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Nampara

 

Ross plans to get back on his feet again, but his finances are a mess and he struggles to fit back into society. The future is looking fairly grim. He meets a fourteen-year-old girl named Demelza, rescues her from her abusive father, and gives her a job as a kitchen maid at Nampara where he resides. As time moves on, Demelza grows up into a beautiful young woman, their relationship changes, and they get married against everyone’s wishes. There’s hardly a single soul who approves of their marriage and Demelza will have to prove that she’s a worthy wife. Not only does she struggle with society, she struggles with herself because she knows Ross still loves Elizabeth and Demelza is the one who wants to be number one in Ross’s life.

 

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The book is full of memorable characters with Demelza being my favorite. Winston Graham has a way of making the wind, sea, weather, and landscape connect to the feelings of the characters and the imagery of Cornwall pulls you in with all the vivid details.

“He felt he would like one more look at the sea, which even now was licking at the rocks behind the house. He had no sentimental notions about the sea; he had no regard for its dangers or its beauties; to him it was a close acquaintance whose every virtue and failing, every smile and tantrum he had come to understand.” 

The book started off slow for me, but once I got into the story I loved it and couldn’t wait to read the other books in the series. I ended up reading every single book in The Poldark Saga and highly recommend it to all that enjoy reading historical fiction.

 My rating on this is 5*****

5 Sterne

Add it on Goodreads or find this edition on Amazon

You can find many editions of this series on Amazon, eBay, and many other sites.

  • Mass Market Paperback: 347 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Ballantine Books Edition edition (April 12, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345256549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345256546

Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Poldark by Winston Graham – 1977”

Throwback Thursday – September 21st – Panther in the Sun by John Comfort

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

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This week’s Pick is…

Panther in the Sun

by John Comfort

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Blurb…

“An enjoyable read . . . renders an anxious excitement as the undeserved hardships of a single American family unfold. . . . Truly, a story with a viewpoint and tradition not often told: that of the American Indian.”
–Chief Hatcher of the Waccamaw Tribe

After tragedy tears apart a Native American family, a father must endure harsh and unjust consequences and fight to find his children. We follow the separated lives of the father and his two sons as they make their way in an unforgiving and hostile world.

Panther in the Sun is a powerful story of courage, love, determination, and reconciliation.

John Comfort has drawn much inspiration from his grandfather, George Riser, whose ancestrally-diverse background includes Oglala Lakota Sioux bloodlines. George was an orphan, he endured great hardship during the Great Depression, and he fought as an elite Frogman in the island campaign of World War II.


My Review:

Panther in the Sun by John Comfort is a truly powerful story about a Native American (Panther in the Sun) and his family. Many events take place and they’re not predictable. The story is very fast paced and a brisk read. It’s full of suspense and surprises. I can truly see this turned into a movie.

I had many emotions while reading the book and found it extremely impelling. This is the kind of book you sit down to read, and you don’t get back up for a really long time! You start to read and then remain because the story is that engaging.

I love the cover, writing style, and storyline. I loved it from beginning to end and I’m hoping for another book!

Thanks to the author, John Comfort, for sharing a copy with me.

stars


You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: bookgenesis press (October 4, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0996947043
  • ISBN-13: 978-0996947046

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday – September 21st – Panther in the Sun by John Comfort”

Shabby Sunday: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – 1991

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Today is my 5th Shabby Sunday! To see all the Shabby Sunday books that I’ve chosen, please click on ‘Shabby Sunday’ under categories.


Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then, I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


 

Today’s shabby share is:

Outlander

by Diana Gabaldon

1991

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I chose this book because believe it or not, it was written in 1991 – 26 years ago! My copy is the first edition from 1991. I love the cover.

Blurb: Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another…

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life …and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

My Thoughts:

Claire Randall is a nurse living in Scotland with Frank, her husband, just after the end of World War II. Frank is absorbed in studying his family tree and tracking one of his ancestors named “Black Jack” Randall. Claire has an interest in Botany and studies plants along with their healing factors.

One day, Claire comes across a stone circle called Craigh na Dun.

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While there, she discovers a plant and can’t stop thinking about it. She comes back another day to collect the plant near the stones and hears one of the stones scream. One after another, they all scream. Something strange is happening and Claire wakes up in Scotland, but in 1743. She witnesses men in kilts and a man that looks like Frank but isn’t. Quickly, Claire is taken away by a band of Scotsmen and this is where she meets Jamie, a man she’ll soon have to marry if she wants to survive.

 

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Claire and Jamie from the series on STARZ

 

This was an outstanding book that kept me entertained throughout. I was completely immersed in this story from start to finish. I loved Claire and Jamie’s smart, yet stubborn characters and enjoyed the formation of their relationship. All the characters had good development with some that I loved and some that I hated, but most were unforgettable. The pacing was perfect and never once did I want to stop reading, except for the few parts I found a tad difficult to read.

Some consider this a romance novel, but I think of it more as historical fiction. It does have a good amount of romance, but so much more than that. I’m not a history buff, but it seems that Diana Gabaldon has really done her research with this series and has spun a tale that can’t be forgotten.

My rating on this one is 5-stars.

5 Sterne


 

Add it on Goodreads or find this edition on Amazon

You can find many editions of this series on Amazon, eBay, and many other sites.

This edition is:

  • Hardcover: 627 pages
  • 1991 Delacorte Press – Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing
  • ISBN 0-385-30230-4

Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – 1991”

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt – Book Review

I’m working on getting caught up with my NetGalley books and this one has been sitting on my shelf for months. I finally started reading it a few weeks ago. You can read my book review below.

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

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“Eerie and compelling, Sarah Schmidt breathes such life into the terrible, twisted tale of Lizzie Borden and her family, she makes it impossible to look away.” —Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train and Into the Water

Blurb: In this riveting debut novel, See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.

On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone’s killed Father. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell—of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.

As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house? When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.

  • Hardcover: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (August 1, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802126596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802126597

My Review:

I was so excited to start this book because I love retellings and honestly didn’t know the whole story behind the accusations of Lizzie Bordon murdering her parents with an ax in 1892. I decided to get online and read about the true story so that I would have an idea about what really went down that August morning in 1892.

The book starts with an introduction to that morning the ax murdering took place in Fall River, Massachusetts. Lizzie’s father Andrew and her stepmother Abby were both found axed to death and the only person in sight when someone finally arrives to help is Lizzie. Everyone wants to know who the perpetrator is. Who could commit such horrible acts of crime and why would they want to hurt these people?

tenor.gifFor me, the first half of the book was not intriguing at all. I felt like the characters were flat and boring and the narrative was confusing at times, mainly because of Lizzie’s thoughts with the jumping back and forth between reality and what was going on in her head. I wasn’t enjoying the writing style at all. Then, when I got to the last half of the book, I became very interested in who the real killer was here. It could be Lizzie, but she’s not reliable and her thoughts are all over the place. Is she being honest? What about Uncle John and Benjamin? There are clues and accusations along the way, but the reader is left to wonder until the very end what actually happened.

Overall, The author has spun her own version of the tale and it’s spellbinding at times. I’m happy that I stuck with it and didn’t give up. Some people say that the book is gruesome, but I didn’t think it was too gory on the details. I really appreciated the timeline the author provided in the back of the book. If you’d like more true information on the events that took place, you might want to watch “Histories Mysteries: The Strange Case of Lizzie Bordon.” This is truly a compelling mystery.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book for review.

My rating on this is 3.5 stars

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Continue reading “See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt – Book Review”

Panther in the Sun by John Comfort

Panther in the Sun by John Comfort

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Blurb…

“An enjoyable read . . . renders an anxious excitement as the undeserved hardships of a single American family unfold. . . . Truly, a story with a viewpoint and tradition not often told: that of the American Indian.”
–Chief Hatcher of the Waccamaw Tribe


After tragedy tears apart a Native American family, a father must endure harsh and unjust consequences and fight to find his children. We follow the separated lives of the father and his two sons as they make their way in an unforgiving and hostile world.

Panther in the Sun is a powerful story of courage, love, determination, and reconciliation.

John Comfort has drawn much inspiration from his grandfather, George Riser, whose ancestrally-diverse background includes Oglala Lakota Sioux bloodlines. George was an orphan, he endured great hardship during the Great Depression, and he fought as an elite Frogman in the island campaign of World War II.


My Review:

Panther in the Sun by John Comfort is a truly powerful story about a Native American (Panther in the Sun) and his family. Many events take place and they’re not predictable. The story is very fast paced and a brisk read. It’s full of suspense and surprises. I can truly see this turned into a movie.

I had many emotions while reading the book and found it genuinely impelling. This is the kind of book you sit down to read, and you don’t get back up for a really long time! You start to read and then remain because the story is that engaging.

I love the cover, writing style, and storyline. I loved it from beginning to end and I’m hoping for another book!

Thanks to the author, John Comfort, for sharing a copy with me.

stars


About the author

15265771John Comfort has drawn much inspiration from his grandfather, George Riser, whose ancestrally-diverse background includes Oglala Lakota Sioux bloodlines. George was an orphan, he endured great hardship during the Great Depression, and he fought as an elite Frogman in the island campaign of World War II.

The author lives in Bluffton, South Carolina with his wife and two sons.