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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Culinary Capers: a Collection of Cooking Mysteries

What do the authors of these mysteries have in common? Each writer cooks up a quandary and has the hero resolve it, and then throws in some recipes or bits of food info for good measure. Bon appetit!

            Hark! The Herald Angel Screamed! an Augusta Goodnight Mystery, written by Mignon Franklin Ballard, presents a murder that occurs during pre-Christmas activities. One of the protagonists is a guardian angel; she investigates. Is the murderer a ghost? This is a typical Southern cozy mystery with recipes.

            The Grave Gourmet, written by Alexander Campion, is set in Paris and features police detective Capucine and her food critic husband. The body of an automobile executive is found in a food cooler of a famous French restaurant.

            The Chocolate Book Bandit: a Chocoholic Mystery, written by JoAnna Carl, features chocolate shop owner Lee McKinney Woodyard in an investigation of the murder of a retiring library board member. Chocolate trivia is included.

            The Missing Dough, written by Chris Cavender, is about Eleanor Swift, the owner of the Slice of Delight pizzeria and her efforts to help her sister Maddy after she is implicated in her ex-husband’s death.

            Eggs in a Casket, written by Laura Childs, presents the owners of the Cackleberry Club, a breakfast cafĂ©, who also are amateur sleuths. In this book, one in a series, they investigate the murder of the town’s prison warden.

            Steamed, written by Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant, features Chloe Carter, food connoisseur and expert in failed romances who is known in local chatrooms as GourmetGirl. A blind date with another foodie is spoiled when he ends up stabbed to death.

            Holiday Grind, written by Cleo Coyle, is about amateur sleuth, coffeehouse manager and head barista Clare Cosi. Clare discovers one of her customers, a charity Santa Claus, murdered. Information on coffee syrups and holiday recipes are an extra perk.

            A Catered Christmas Cookie Exchange: a Mystery with Recipes, written by Isis Crawford, present sisters Bernie and Libby, owners of a catering and bakery business. They are asked to judge a televised Christmas cookie bakeoff. After a contestant is murdered, the remaining contestants do battle with one another. The sisters investigate. Try some of the Christmas cookie recipes given.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September is Happy Cat Month

            Celebrate! Scamper down to the library to pick up one, or all of these books. They’re the cat’s meow!
            Cat Calls: Wonderful Stories and Practical Advice from a Veteran Cat Sitter is written by Jeanne Adlon, a full-time cat sitter in New York City for over thirty-five years, and Susan Logan, editor of Cat Fancy Magazine. Read Adlon’s charming, funny stories; also, learn about various feline health and safety topics.
            Your Cat: the Owner’s Manual: Hundreds of Secrets, Surprises, and Solutions for Raising a Happy, Healthy Cat, is written by Marty Becker, a veterinarian who has appeared on several television shows. He presents tips on managing behavioral problems, maintaining health, and dealing with illness and old age issues.
            Natural Cat Care is written by Christopher Day, a holistic veterinarian. He highlights daily care (diet and exercise), nutrition, vaccinations, dental care, pest prevention and holistic care (acupuncture, massage, and homeopathy).
            Cats Behaving Badly: Why Cats Do the Naughty Things They Do, is written by Celia Haddon, a cat advice columnist in England. Learn how to manage your cat’s behavior not through punishment but through accommodation.
           The Cat Whisperer: Why Cats Do What They Do - and How to Get Them to Do What You Want, is written by Mieshelle Nagelschneider, a cat behaviorist. Her advice is to follow the C.A.T. Plan: Cease the unwanted cat behavior; Attract the cat to a desirable behavior or location; Transform the territory.
          Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet, is written by John Bradshaw, an anthrozoologist who also has written Dog Sense. Here he explains the true nature of the cat, much different than that of the dog, but just as worthy of respect and understanding.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Think Like a Freak: the Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain

            A third book contributing to the Freakonomics concept by co-authors Steven Levitt, a University of Chicago economist and Stephen Dubner, a journalist from the New York Times. Freakonomics is defined as applying economic theory to diverse subjects not usually covered by "traditional" economists. More often, it seems to be influenced by “pop” psychology or sociology topics.

            In this book, Levitt and Dubner encourage their readers to think outside the box; not to base decisions using their pre-conceived beliefs. To do this, be willing to say “I don’t know”. Ask the right questions, not the wrong ones. Work on small problems and not on global ones. Seek out the real root cause of a problem, not just the popular explanation. Quit working on a problem if the amount of energy you put into it exceeds its value. Decide whether offering incentives are a help or hindrance in resolving problems.

            Innumerable anecdotes support the authors’ concepts and add to the reader’s enjoyment.