Monday, January 28, 2008

The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson

In terms of recorded history, the emergence of sushi as a culinary delight in the United States is still a relatively recent phenomenon. Sushi’s surging popularity has propelled it from hot spot metropolitan sake bars into local grocery store cooling bins. The story of sushi, however, reaches back much further than the freshest milk.

In The Zen of Fish, Trevor Corson carefully wraps morsels of history and humor into bite sized chapters that taken together tell “the story of sushi, from samurai to supermarket.” From the procurement of the freshest ingredients in the early morning fish markets to the fostering and attentive care given by each chef to their personal set of knives, Corson prepares a delicious and enlightening tome. The author’s mastery of description spices the mind with the dancelike movements of sushi chefs as they prepare meals for the enthusiastic sake toasting guests lining the Hama Hermosa bar in Hermosa Beach, California. During the morning hours, the back room of the restaurant plays host to the California Sushi Academy, where we follow the trials of aspiring sushi chefs through a semester of training at the hands of their demanding instructor, Zoran. Most prominent among these characters is Kate, whose spunk and wit will have you rooting for her as an underdog amongst a handful of finely captured characters, each with their own substory.

A wonderful read that will unearth the foodie in you, The Zen of Fish entertains and educates. -- KY

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Birth House

Ami McKay's debut novel, The Birth House, tells the tale of Dora Rare. The first daughter to be born in five generations of her family, in an isolated village in Nova Scotia, she is mentored by an Acadian midwife. Telling of the difficult years near the beginning of World War I, Dora becomes Miss B's apprentice, helping the area women with all of their feminine health needs.

The arrival of a medical doctor with very straightforward ideas of women's medicine is met with mixed emotions, and it becomes clear that the many traditions and wisdom passed down through the generations are at risk. Dr. Thomas seems willing to sacrifice integrity in order to push the cause of "modern medicine", maliciously allowing wrong information to circulate about Dora's midwifery.

Not only is the story of Dora's personal life compelling, but the surprising details of what women were often subjected to will also keep the reader intrigued. Many of the traditions in birthing will not be as unfamiliar to 21st century readers as one would think, as medicine seems to have reconnected with more natural practices.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Now and Then

For fans of Robert B. Parker and the Spenser novels, Now and Then will not disappoint. For those new to Robert B. Parker, although there are some references to past exploits, it would be a great taste of his work. A new client asks Spenser to look into his wife's "abnormal" behavior, starting a chain of events that will end up putting everyone involved into harm's way. It also stirs memories about a situation that occurred years before between Spenser and his long-time love, Susan Silverman.

Backed in his exploits by good friend Hawk, as well as Vinnie the sharpshooter, and Chollo, another old friend sent for from California, the dialogue alone is enough to recommend this title. Especially those who remember the television show, "Spenser for Hire", one can truly be transported back with the quick and often hilarious repartee between the characters.