ISBN-13: 9780594638278
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Publication Date: 2 July 2013
Format: Paperback, 448 pgs
Source: Library

Set in war-torn Yugoslavia, military intelligence officer Captain Gregor Reinhardt is called upon to investigate a case involving a death of a beautiful young woman and a German officer. They have been brutally murdered and Major Freilinger, Captain Reinhardt's superior, thinks he's the best person to assist the Sarajevo police, Inspector Andro Padelin. After all, Reinhardt has nearly twenty years as a detective in the Berlin Kriminalpolizei. Homicide and organised crime is nothing new to him. Then again, Reinhardt is also haunted by his wartime actions and the mistakes he's made off the battlefield. 

Back to the case, the Croat wants to find the killer of Marija Vukić, the dead woman who used to be a filmmaker and a journalist. Lieutenant Hendel, the other dead intelligence officer, is the reason why Major Freilinger is adamant to get one of his own men to look into this case. What are the chances that the two deaths are connected and why? As Reinhardt goes around asking questions, he found out that not many people he enquired is interested in Hendel's death but more interested in Marija and her social life with many senior officers. It seems she had the likes of them and her behaviours might have sparked some anger from officers who are younger and junior. But is jealousy and hatred really the reasons? And why Reinhardt has the impression that the Croatian and even Padelin have something to hide? Even Major Freilinger has seemed to warn him not to inquire much further with the senior officers, or the Waffen SS without an evidence. Something's real fishy but what? 

The Man from Berlin is the first of a series introducing Captain Gregor Reinhardt. Set amidst the chaos of WWII, the book is filled with history, military politics and of course, the mystery. Reinhardt is an interesting character; and despite the war scars he's carrying he remains his composure and carry out his duties diligently. It must be these traits that also leads his life into danger and jeopardy, as he wades his way through the political and military minefields. It is also inevitable that personal agendas are involved, given his rank and his past moments during the war. While I wasn't very much interested in ranks and war political, I find these didn't really bother me as I raced through the story due to Reinhardt's determination and efficiency in carrying out his job. I rooted for him and hoped he would crack the case. And what did I think of this book? I thought it was an amazing first novel featuring Captain Gregor Reinhardt. If you are into history, politics and mystery, then this book is for you. 

Fried rice is one of the easiest dishes to prepare. All you just need is steamed rice and other ingredients such as eggs, vegetables and meat (optional if you are a vegetarian) and you have your dish. Plus, minimal time is required so it is a convenient dish for anyone who is in a hurry but still want home-cooked food.

Once your steamed rice is cooked, set it aside to cool. My mother would tell me that leftover rice is the best but I tend to finish what everything I have so that I can have fresh food every time. And while you are waiting for the rice to cool, you can prepare the side ingredients. First, make scrambled eggs (2 or 3 eggs would do) and shred them to pieces. Next, stir fry the mixed vegetables - peas, carrots and corns in a wok using little cooking oil (as these are frozen items make sure they are thawed first.) You can then pour in the steamed rice and stir fry with the mixed vegetables for a few minutes. Add in the shredded eggs and stir fry again, then add a dash of salt to taste. You are now ready to serve. Simple, isn't it? There are various recipes out there and basically what ingredients to put are up to you but what I have shared is the most commonly used. And yes, you can add in some pineapple cubes so it looks like pineapple rice. 

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Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. For more information, see the welcome post.

ISBN-13: 9780062276049
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 24 February 2015
Format: Paperback, 400 pgs
Source: Purchased

Elizabeth Haynes' Into the Darkest Corner has left me a deep impression. Pumped with full intensity and a suspense that leaves you waiting at the edge of your seat, it is one of my top reads in 2013. When I heard she has a new series out I knew I have to read them. 

Under a Silent Moon, the first book of her Briarstone series follows DCI Louisa Smith's first investigation case. Truth be told, Lou isn't anxious to prove her efficiency a month after her promotion so she is hoping it'd be a straightforward case. She didn't get what she wished. The victim, Polly Leuchars, was brutally assaulted in her home, Yonder Cottage. She worked as a groom at Hermitage Farm and Yonder Cottage is part of her employer's estate. 

On the other end, the police also responded to a suicide case at the same time. Barbara Fletcher-Norman's car is found at the bottom of a local quarry near where Hermitage Farm is. At first glance, it seems too much of a coincidence but as Lou and her team gather the evidence they realised that the two cases might be linked. 

Author Elizabeth Haynes has once again written an intense suspense that had me hooked from the beginning till the end. As this book is more of a police procedural, readers are offered more than a glimpse of how the story unfolds as Ms. Haynes included case documents such as police dispatch logs, witness statements, intelligence reports etc to make it look more like an authentic murder investigation. Ms. Haynes knew all the works as she worked as a police Intelligence analyst for many years. 

I find her characters in this book engaging; and I enjoyed reading the exchanges between Lou and Jason Mercer, the analyst. The rest of the team consisted of some interesting characters too; like DI Andy Hamilton who seems to be a natural charmer with women and DS Sam Hollands for a strong female character aside from Lou. I know I'd be reading more of them in this series and I look forward to learning more of them. Suspense wise, I was actually glad I was correct to pinpoint the killer after reading a while but that didn't take away the fun of reading this mystery till the end, as I find the police procedural all so interesting and intriguing. Behind Closed Doors is the next book of this series and needless to say, I'm looking forward to reading it. 

Satay is considered one of the popular eateries in Singapore. Originated from Indonesia, satay is basically a dish of grilled marinated meat (chicken, beef or mutton) served with spicy peanut sauce. This dish is usually accompanied with cucumber cubes, ketupat (rice cakes) and some onion slices. Before I became vegetarian, my favourite used to be mutton satay. Mutton tends to have a stronger flavour but with the marinated spices, it covers up the 'mutton-y' smell or flavour (plus there's the peanut sauce, too.) 

Anyway, finding vegetarian satay is a challenge (well, some vegetarian food stalls do have them but not all) so I was thrilled to find packets of frozen vegetarian satay in a supermarket. And, it comes with a sauce dip too. While I don't have a griller, I found frying is another great alternative, too. (Just make sure the oil doesn't cover those sticks. And yes, they taste equally yummy!)

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. For more information, see the welcome post.


ISBN-13: 9780062320476
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 3 March 2015
Format: Paperback, 352 pgs
Source: Publisher

"How well do you really know your family?"

This caption on the cover is what drawn me to this book from the start. A story of suspense and loss, The Daughter isn't an easy read to begin  with, especially for the parents. How would you react should your child is missing? And how would you feel should you think your child is keeping secrets from you? 

Jenny Malcolm is a family doctor and has three teenage children. Her husband is a successful neurosurgeon and to anyone it seems her life is ideal and complete. Unfortunately, that perfect image is shattered after the missing of their fifteen-year-old youngest child, Naomi. Naomi had told Jenny that she would be going out for a late meal with her friends after their school play but she never returns home. 

Told from Jenny's POV, readers follow her frightening journey of missing and searching for Naomi through flashbacks and a year after that fateful night. Her flashbacks tell us more about her profession as a doctor; her relationship with her family members, and how she felt Naomi's change before of her disappearance. Apparently she didn't understand much about Naomi; and she would wave it off as being adolescence whenever Naomi keeps an emotional distance from her. 

Naomi's good friend, Nikita, claims Naomi was seen with an older guy at their school play but she isn't sure of his identity as she only caught a glimpse of him at the back stage once. There are some scribblings on Naomi's diary but Jenny couldn't decipher them, as she had used alphabetical codes as an identification of the persons she was referring to. Perhaps Naomi has a secret boyfriend? Or is it a vengeful plan by an ex-patient's family? After all, Jenny had failed to diagnose their daughter's illness in a timely manner due to her misconceptions. Or there is something more than meets the eye? Endless possibilities and doubts make her question about herself being a mother. 

Reading The Daughter has allowed me to ponder about many topics; such as the role of a busy working mother, letting go of the children (how to balance and how much is too much?), and of course the biggest issue - How well do you know your family? Do you really know what they want? Jenny's thoughts and her emotional self have inevitably made me think about things. I think these issues have taken much of my attention here in this story, though the mystery itself is intriguing, too. As for the ending... I suppose it has to depend on the reader how he or she interprets it.