The Ophelia Cut – John Lescroart

Ophelia cutNetgalley sent me a free download of the Ophelia Cut by John Lescroart, another title in the series with one of the most famous crime novel characters Dismas Hary.

In the Ophelia Cut Hardy is defending Mose, his brother in law, who is accused of committing a murder. Mose is supposed to have killed the rapist of his daughter. At the same time there is a growing concern that Mose will become talkative about a police cover-up they’re both involved in.

I really enjoyed reading the Ophelia Cut. It’s is well written. The core characters, Dismaz, Mose and Glitsky are sympathetic, very human and fully formed. It’s not just a whodunit. Lescroart really does a great job of keeping the reader in suspense about Moses’ guilt or innocence. Even in the end you can’t really be sure if Mose is the actual killer or not.

It is a good overall read, especially if you enjoy reading legal thrillers. Only the courtroom part could have had more pace, it’s a bit long-winded.

This is not my first read of a title by John Lescroart, nor my first read about character Dismas Hardy and definitely will not be my last.

Here you can find the website of John Lescroart.

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The Passion – Jeanette Winterson

The PassionVoor de leesgroep van de Vrouwenbibliotheek las ik dit boek. Winterson was tot dan toe een mij onbekende auteur. Dat is juist zo leuk aan een leesgroep. Je leest boeken die je zelf niet zo snel zou hebben opgepakt of die wellicht aan je aandacht zijn ontsnapt. Er wordt tenslotte zoveel op de markt gebracht. Een boek kan soms een tegenvaller zijn maar een andere keer blijkt het een juweeltje dat je niet had willen missen. En dat was bij dit boek The Passion zeker het geval. Je kunt mijn blog er op nalezen, ik begin nooit met mijn oordeel over het boek. In dit geval wel. Vijf sterren.

Wat een mooi, knap geschreven boek. En wat een fantastisch eind. Met “eind” bedoel ik in dit geval niet de laatste paar bladzijden maar het hele vierde deel. Naarmate ik met lezen vorderde, had ik al het gevoel weer een vier-sterren boek in handen te hebben. Het prachtige slot zorgde voor een vijfde ster. Een auteur waarvan ik zeker meer wil gaan lezen. Maar goed, waar gaat The Passion eigenlijk over.

Het boek bestaat uit vier delen. In het eerste deel vertelt Henri zijn verhaal. Hij heeft zich aangemeld bij het leger van Napoleon. Als soldaat wordt hij verantwoordelijk voor het slachten en het bereiden van de kippen, het favoriete gerecht van Napoleon. Een originele insteek voor een verhaal, niet? Winterson zet haarscherp neer hoezeer Napoleon de passie voor Henri is. Hij gaat voor hem door het vuur, wil alles voor hem doen. Tot de veldtocht naar Rusland. Daar ervaart Henri dat er een groot verschil is tussen droom en realiteit.

Villanelle vertelt haar verhaal in het tweede deel. Het speelt zich af in Venetië. Ze is dochter van een gondelier en wordt uiteindelijk verkocht Franse officieren. Zo belandt zij in Rusland.

Tot dit moment heb je als lezer het idee twee korte verhalen te hebben gelezen. Het eerste verhaal vond ik enorm boeiend, soms humoristisch. Winterson weet je mee te nemen in de gedachten van Henri, zijn overwegingen, gevoelens, emoties. Het tweede deel kon me iets minder boeien, soms wat langdradig. Maar dat is ook het enige wat ik minder vind aan dit boek. In het derde deel weet  Winterson de levens van Henri en Villanelle op een kunstige manier te vervlechten waarbij passie opnieuw een hoofdrol speelt. Henri sluit het verhaal af. Hij leeft in afzondering en overdenkt zijn leven, Napoleon en Josephine, zijn passie voor Villanelle. Dit laatste deel zorgt van begin tot eind voor kippenvel. Henri neemt je mee in het diepste van zijn gedachten, zijn dromen en zijn passie.

The Passion, een boek over een zoektocht naar passie. Wat betekent passie in het leven van een mens en wat is hij bereid daarvoor op te geven. Een verhaal waarbij droom en realiteit hand in hand gaan. Prachtig geschreven, meeslepend en genoeg om achteraf over na te denken. Een absolute aanrader.

Jeanette Winterson heeft een officiële website.

“My characters are always on the outside; the spotlight’s not on them. But they do get somewhere” (Jeanette Winterson)

Killing Lincoln – Bill O’Reilly

I’ve read Killing Lincoln because I’m interested in the history of the USA and I saw many very positive comments about this book. A lot of reviews mentioned Bill O’Reilly himself because they obviously didn’t like the man. Well, I don’t know him at all, so to me that was no problem. However, when I started reading the “note to readers” I was surprised. It looked like mr O’Reilly was writing his book solely for US-residents. Since I’m living in Europe, wasn’t I supposed to read it? “our nation”, “our country”. “our lives”, this all doesn’t apply to me. Nevertheless, I really would like to know the real story about the murder of Abe Lincoln, so I decided to keep on reading anyway.

Killing Lincoln is an entertaining and easy to read novel. Of course you know how the story ends and more or less how it happened but O’Reilly gives a lot of interesting details about the Civil War, the assassination of Lincoln and its aftermath.

What I didn’t like was the frequent use of sentences like “by this time next week…”, “what he doesn’t now is that he will…”. I know they don’t know what will happen in the future. You don’t have to tell me that often, it’s annoying.

What I dislike most about this book is the fact that O’Reilly promises to tell the real story, “what really happened”. Yet there is a lot of fiction in this book. The emotions and thoughts of the persons involved are unknown to anyone but themselves. It even looks like he endorses a conspiracy theory that Stanton is involved in the killing. A theory largely discounted. That makes it hard to believe that everything happened exactly the way O’Reilly describes. A bit of a disappointment though.

Because of the entertaining read and the things I learned from this novel, my verdict is 3 stars.

Vanished – Liza Marklund

I received Vanished as a preread copy from TransWorld Book Group. It’s my first novel by Liza Marklund. Because I enjoy reading Scandinavian thriller writers a lot I had high expectations.

Liza Marklund has written several thrillers with Annika Bengtzon as leading character. Annika is a copy editor at a Stockholm newspaper. She is approached by Rebecka Björstig who claims her Paradise Foundation can help women make a new life. The foundation takes care of erasing peoples history completely.
When Aida, a woman who’s life seems to be in danger, needs her help, Annika decides to give her Rebecka’s phonenumber. When two man are murdered in the harbor and Aida says she knows what happened, Annika starts her own investigation.

What I like in the Annika Bengtzon novels is that it’s not only about crimes. There is a lot going on in this book. Annika’s own life and wellbeing, the murders in the harbor, the Paradise Foundation, internal politics in the newspaper where she works and some social issues. Marklund succeeds in tying all those separate storylines  neatly together.

I rather enjoyed reading Vanished. It’s a fast paced crime novel, very well written and thrilling. If only Annika could be a less troubled person. I really like her a lot and I think she has had her fair share of troubles and deserves some happiness. Well, maybe the next novel because now that I have discovered Liza Marklund and her books I look forward to reading more of this series.

Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Apricot – Quinoa Quartet Bloghop

To make this delicious salad you need the following ingredients:

the juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsps olive oil
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
salt
ground pepper (fresh)

1 cup quinoa (rinsed)
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups cold water

1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried apricot (finely diced)
1 apple
1 avocados
1/2 cup toasted walnuts (chopped)

First of all make the dressing. In a bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil, coriander, cumin and paprika. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Then, make the salad. First prepare the quinoa. In a saucepan, combine quinoa, salt and cold water. Bring to a boil.  Stir, cover and let it simmer for about 15 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Fluff with a fork and let it cool completely.

Cover the cranberries and apricots with warm water and let stand for about 15 minutes or until plump. Drain and set aside.

Just before serving, peel avocado and apple and cut into bite size chunks. Place in a bowl and toss with dressing to prevent discoloration. Add cooled quinoa, cranberry, apricots and walnuts.

Enjoy your meal!

And …..

don’t forget to visit the other Dutch bloggers featuring Quinoa today:
Chinoiseries, North African Quinoa Stew
Gnoe, Easy Quinoa & Vegetable Laksa
Uniflame, Black Bean and Quinoa Burger

Taste of Tahini – Falafel

Ingredients:
1 can chickpeas (425 g), drained
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tbsp tahin
2 tbsp flour
50 gr fresh breadcrumbs
3/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coriander
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
pepper
oil for frying

Preparation:
Put the chickpeas with all of the ingredients into a food processor or mixer jar and grind until smooth and dry. You should be able to shape them easily into small discs. If the mixture is too moist or sticky at this stage, which it shouldn’t be, add more flour but don’t be liberal.

Chill the mixture in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Shape into small discs and deep fry on medium heat until dark brown on both sides. Make sure you regulate the flame, otherwise the outside will get burned or cooked too soon and the inside will be raw.

Try serving them in pitta bread with a combination of chopped spring onion, tomato, cucumber and lettuce, dressed with Tahini Citrus sauce (6 tbsp Tahin, 3 tbsp fresh orange juice, 6 tbsp lemon juice).

If you like to try some other delicious recipes with Tahin visit my team-bloggers in the Taste of Tahine Blog-Hop:
Chinoiseries at Always Cooking Up Something
Gnoe at Graasland
Uniflame at She Likes Bento

TT-Hop – Gado Gado with Tahoe and Tempeh

Gado-Gado is an Indonesion one-dish meal. Gado-Gado means “mix-mix” and that’s exactly what it is. Just mix a lot of vegetables with potatoes, boiled eggs, tahoe, tempeh and lontong. The dish is very easy to prepare and I really love eating it. It’s fresh, light and delicious.

You can use all kinds of vegetables: sliced cucumber, lettuce, sliced red bell pepper, endive, blanched green beans, blanched bean sprouts, blanched oxheart cabbage.

Other complements: Fried/baked tahoe, fried/baked tempeh, wedged boiled eggs, sliced boiled potatoes and emping (melindjo crackers). If you like you can marinate the tahoe/tempeh in some assam or soja before frying it.

Boil the lontong rice (rice cake with log shape) for about one hour. I always use the little plastic bags with lontong rice. When it’s cold, cut into cubes.

The most important part of the Gado-Gado is the sauce. You need a jar of peanut butter (350 gr), 1 tsp terasi (dried shrimp paste), 1 clove garlic, 1 red chili, 1 tsp sambal, 1/2 tbsp vinegar, 2 daun jeruk purut (lime leaf) , 2 daun salam (salam leaf), 8-10 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 santen (block coconut cream). Mince garlic, chili pepper with terasi. Put the mixture in a pot and add peanut butter. Put it on the stove, while stirring, slowly add water until the sauce is just as thick as you want it. Add all other ingredients. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

If you’re looking for more great recipes with tahoe and/or tempeh visit my team-bloggers in the TT-Hop:
Chinoiseries at Always Cooking Up Something made a Tempeh-Burger,
Gnoe at Graasland who made Faux-Feta,
Uniflame at She Likes Bento made BBQ Tempeh Sandwich.