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historical fiction

book review, recipe

The Woman in the White Kimono + Miso Soup

Ana Johns’ debut novel The Woman in the White Kimono is historical fiction inspired by true stories. It spans decades and continents, taking place in post-WWII Japan and the modern-day United States. I was intrigued by the description and excited to participate in this blog tour.

The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns

In the late 1950s in Japan, Naoko has been promised to the son of her father’s business associate but she is in love with another—an American sailor. Though she attempts to get their approval of their relationship, Naoko knows it would bring shame on the family if she decided to marry him. Still, she can’t help but follow her heart. Will the consequences of her decision be something she can live with?

In America now, Tori’s father has died, but not before expanding on a tale he has told her all his life—of a beautiful wedding he attended as a serviceman in Japan decades before. She can’t help but follow her journalistic instincts. Soon, Tori sets out to find out about her father’s life before he married her mother and the “Cricket” he wrote to in Japan.

Johns wrote a compelling story, clearly well-researched. Her author’s note in the back of the novel shares the real stories that inspired her.

Though food wasn’t really featured in the novel, there were a few mentions of dishes here and there, most often miso soup, which was commonly served for breakfast. I’ve definitely eaten my share of miso soup at Japanese restaurants, but I’d never attempted to make it before. I was excited to give it a try.

I found a recipe online, set out for my local Asian market to pick up a few items, and got to work.

Ingredients for Miso Soup

The recipe is quite straightforward and didn’t take long at all. First, I added some dashi granules to water and set it to boil on the stovetop. Then, I reduced the heat to medium and whisked in several tablespoons of miso paste. To that, I added diced tofu and green onions and cooked the soup for a few minutes before serving.

Miso Soup

The soup had a bit more tofu than I’m used to at restaurants, but other than that, the flavor was spot on. It smelled and tasted absolutely delicious.

Miso Soup inspired by The Woman in the White Kimono

Miso Soup

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 4 1-cup servings

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons dashi granules
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons miso paste
  • 1 8 ounce package silken tofu, diced
  • 2 green onions sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine dashi granules and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and whisk in the miso paste. Stir in tofu. Separate the layers of the green onions, and add them to the soup. Simmer gently for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

Notes

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of the novel for my honest review and asking me to be a part of the blog tour. If you’d like to stop be and see some of the other reviews, check out the list of blogs and dates below:

Tuesday, May 21st: Write Read Life

Wednesday, May 22nd: Tina Says

Thursday, May 23rd: The Hungry Bookworm

Thursday, May 23rd: Bookish Bliss and Beauty and @bookishblissandbeauty

Friday, May 24th: Asha Reads and @ashareads

Monday, May 27th: Tar Heel Reader and @tarheelreader

Tuesday, May 28th: Read Eat Repeat

Tuesday, May 28th: Lori’s Reading Corner – author guest post

Wednesday, May 29th: Broken Teepee

Thursday, May 30th: Helen’s Book Blog

Thursday, May 30th: The Baking Bookworm

Friday, May 31st: Audio Killed the Bookmark and @beritaudiokilledthebookmark

Monday, June 3rd: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, June 4th: A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, June 5th: @chaptersofmar

Thursday, June 6th: Eliot’s Eats

Friday, June 7th: View from the Birdhouse

Monday, June 10th: Palmer’s Page Turners

Tuesday, June 11th: Books & Bindings

Wednesday, June 12th: Laura’s Reviews

Thursday, June 13th: Book by Book

Monday, June 17th: @oddandbookish

Tuesday, June 18th: The Book Return

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book review, recipe

The Great Alone + Eskimo Ice Cream (Akutaq)

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The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

In 1974, Ernt Allbright is adrift. After returning home from Vietnam, where he was a POW, he has become increasingly volatile and can’t hold down a job. He decides to pack up his small family — his wife Cora, and their teenage daughter Leni — and explore the wild frontier; they will become homesteaders in Alaska. Leni finds herself in a one-room schoolhouse with only one other person her age, a boy named Matthew.

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Marilla of Green Gables + Raspberry Cordial

Like many girls, I grew up with Anne Shirley. I adored her big imagination and found it amusing to watch her get into and out of trouble. Just as important to the story are Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, the brother-sister duo who give Anne a home at Green Gables. In her latest novel, Marilla of Green Gables, Sarah McCoy explores what life was like for the Cuthberts before Anne arrived.

Marilla of Green Gables

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Where the Crawdads Sing + Shrimp and Pimiento-Cheese Grits

When Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing was selected for Reese Withersoon’s book club, it became an instant must-read. Equal parts coming-of-age story, mystery, legal drama and love story, I can see why! I came by it through my first HealthTea Book Crate, in which I received a signed copy, and I was excited that it was selected as one of my recent book club reads.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Kya Clark lives in Barkley Cove, North Carolina, and has watched her family leave her one-by-one, until — at the age of 10 — she is left quite alone. As she grows up, Kya chooses to stay close to home, preferring to get her supplies from a small store on the docks, where she can also fill up her boat with gas, rather than venturing into town. This fierce independence earns her the nickname Marsh Girl.

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The Alice Network + Goat Cheese and Prosciutto Crostini

Whereas years past have seemed to be filled with WWII-centric historical fiction, I don’t think I’ve read a single book about it this year — until The Alice Network. Kate Quinn’s novel was a recent book club selection, and I was excited about it because I also happened to have a newly-purchased used copy at home. Unfortunately, I waited too long to start the 500-page monster and was still 100 pages short when it came time for our book club meeting. Still, despite some spoilers during our discussion, I couldn’t wait to finish the story. (Don’t worry, there are no spoilers here!)

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

The Alice Network follows two storylines — one during WWI (the mid- to late-1910s) and the other just after WWII ends. Both feature uncertain women who find themselves, their strength and their courage over the course of the story. Eve Gardiner is a stuttering typist when she’s recruited to become a spy, part of the so-called “Alice Network,” and go undercover as a waitress in German-occupied France. Charlotte St. Clair, more often called Charlie, is an American who travels to Europe after WWII to take care of a “problem” and find her missing cousin.

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The Clockmaker’s Daughter + Fish and Chips

I have never read a Kate Morton novel, but I have heard amazing things — and a lot of buzz about her latest novel, The Clockmaker’s Daughter. So, I was naturally quite excited when I was granted my NetGalley request to read it early. It’s the story of an English love affair and a mysterious murder that begins in the 1860s and ripples into the present.

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

It all starts when Elodie, a modern archivist, stumbles upon a satchel with a notebook and old photograph inside. Elodie diligently researches their past, whisking us across time as the story develops. Chapters are told from multiple points-of-view, and it’s not always immediately clear at the outset whose we’re seeing or where we are in time and place. It’s a method that works well, getting us to the end without giving all the twists and turns away beforehand.

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Homegoing + African Yam and Peanut Soup

My book club recently selected Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, a book that was selected in one of my other book clubs last year. It’s a book that’s gotten a lot of attention and praise since its release, and though it has an appealing premise, I’ve not felt compelled to read it — until now. I didn’t read it last time, but I knew I couldn’t neglect it again. I dove right in and didn’t look back.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Gyasi’s sweeping novel is about two half-sisters separated at birth and their descendants. Effia and Esi are born in different villages in eighteenth century Ghana. They share the same mother but have different fathers and very different upbringings. Effia marries an Englishman and lives her life in a castle on the African country’s coast. Esi, however, is sold into slavery, passing through the castle’s dungeons on her way to America. Each chapter following their own focuses on an immediate descendent for generation after generation.

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The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane + Scallion Pancakes

Lisa See’s historical fiction novel The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is a family saga that begins in a remote mountain village in China in the late 1980s. Life there revolves around tradition and tea farming, until a stranger arrives, bringing a glimpse into the modern world — and a proposal that will transform all of their lives.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane Book Cover

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book review, recipe

The Taster + German Apple Cake

I first learned of V.S Alexander’s historical fiction novel The Taster on Facebook when my library included a picture of it as part of their “New Book Tuesday” post a few weeks ago. The title caught my eye (no surprise there), and after reading the blurb describing a woman who finds herself in service to Hitler as his food taster, I requested a copy.

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