Thursday, September 6, 2012

Book notes on two 'foodie' cozies


47. Espresso Shot - book 7 in the Coffeehouse Mysteries series
by Cleo Coyle
mystery, 2008
twelfth book for the Foodies Read 2 Challenge 2012
Nook book 16
finished 8/30/12


In this book, Clare Cosi's ex-husband, the charming bad boy Matteo, is about to get married to a glamorous woman, Breanne Summour. When a young woman who looks very much like her is shot, the possibility looms that Breanne may have been the target.

I have included all these Coffeehouse Mysteries as entries in the 2011 and 2012 Foodies Challenges, because there is always so much coffee info. In this one, the reader learns recipes for espressos. A 'mochaccino' is
two steaming shots of espresso stirred into a base of my [Clare] homemade chocolate syrup, a pour of steamed milk, plenty of frothy foam, and a whipped cream cloud as high as Denali. … dusted with bittersweet shavings.
Just as in each of the other books in this series, I learned something new. This time it was about espressos, but also underground restaurants. Maybe those of you who are cosmopolitan city-dwellers know all about this phenomenon, but it was all new to me. They are 'quite clandestine' and 'quite illegal.' First of all, you must be invited. Clare and a food writer travel to the 'Friends Meeting House on Northern Boulevard' in Flushing. Someone approaches them and takes them to the 'secret location.' Clare asks,
"if these restaurants are underground, how do you even find out about them?"
"Oh, there are lots of ways. Foodie networking mostly; chefs and friends of chefs; amateur reviewers; and of course, the local blogs. If you throw a little money around, waitstaffs will usually clue you in on their neighborhoods' culinary secrets."
Clare is told that in the case of the one they are going to
"A hot young chef named Moon Pac wants to open a restaurant and needs financial backers. If he dazzles the right people, he might get his sugar daddy, so he's been throwing this dinner once a week for the last two months. I was invited by e-mail. Other influential New York foodies and restauranteurs received the same invitation."
Fascinating. These sorts of details about the different aspects and areas of New York City keep each book fresh and interesting to the reader. Of course, there is always a murder or two. There are always Clare's personal relationships with family and friends. And each book has food and coffee info. Espresso Shot offers a particularly gross bit about a coffee called Kopi Luwak. Want to hear it? Sure you do. Well...
"kopi is the Indonesian word for "coffee," and luwak referred to the small catlike animal from which the coffee beans were collected. … The luwak is a feral, forest animal. It eats coffee cherries and voids them whole. The Indonesian farmers collect them, process them, and sell them as the most expensive coffee on earth: Kopi Luwak."
Ever tried it??




48. Murder Most Maine - Book 3 in the Gray Whale Inn mysteries
by Karen MacInerney
mystery, 2008
thirteenth book for the Foodies Read 2 Challenge 2012
library book eleven
Nook book 17
finished 9/6/12

For an innkeeper who loves to bake delicious breakfast foods, can you imagine anything worse than hosting a group of dieters?! That's what happens in this third installment of the Gray Whale Inn mysteries, set on Cranberry Island in Maine. It is now the second May Natalie Barnes has lived in Maine, where she runs the Gray Whale Inn. She left her home in Texas and settled here in a much different climate. It is fun for this New Englander to read of the differences in Nat's new locale and her old one. She still can't get used to the cold. She marvels that in May 'flower buds were just starting to appear on the hillsides of Cranberry Island' while in Austin, 'the bluebonnets had carpeted the hillsides two months ago.' I'll tell you that is a marvel for me to read. We still have snow in March!

The Inn is hosting the 'Lose-It-All Weight Loss' retreat. For the first time, Natalie will be offering three meals a day. She will still bake some goodies for the store which her friend Charlene runs, but for the time the dieters are there, everything she cooks is low-calorie and no-butter. I've mentioned that the first two books had great recipes, and this one continues giving recipes for foods mentioned in the book, only this time they are predominanly main meals.

The upsetting thing about this group is that the leader is a former summer visitor to the island, and Natalie's boyfriend John was in love with her for one of those summers; and not just John but apparently many other young men. When Natalie sees them together, and also notes that John is spending a lot of time with Vanessa, she feels nervous about their relationship. Vanessa runs the group with a man who acts as a personal trainer for the participants, but he also dishes out pills, which are supposedly herbal supplements. Soon this man is dead, a victim of his own 'herbs.' And so the reader is off on another adventure with Natalie, an intelligent, spunky, kind, and likeable character.

I am so fond of this series, and I hope it goes on and on. The ending to this one is particularly satisfying to the reader.

I read both of these books for the Foodies Read 2 Challenge 2012.

24 comments:

  1. I am a huge "foodie" cozie fan but have caught up on all of the series at my library and now just play the waiting game of hoping the author writes a new addition. These two series are new to me so I'm eager to see if I can find them to read! Thanks Nan!! You're a constant source of book enlightenment!

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    1. Does your library offer the Inter Library Loan program? It is wonderful.
      Sometimes I feel too 'enlightened.' :<) I don't have time to read all the books I want to read.

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  2. I've never had kopi luwak (the luwak is a species of civet cat) and don't expect to either, as much as the stuff costs, but I know about it.

    And it's quite true that wildflower season in Austin begins in early March and runs until the heat kills everything back in May.

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    1. Quite an amazing story - that 'special' coffee!
      I am ever amazed at the weather differences in this big, big country.

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  3. I have the first one of the coffee cozy on hold and was lucky enough to get the Gray Whale #1 free on my Kindle!! I'm so glad that you enjoy both of these series because I'm pretty sure that means I will adore them too! And no, I have not tried that coffee...eewww!

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  4. They both sound great! I knew about the coffee "processed" by the cat-like animal, it is rather famous here in Germany, but I've never tried it myself.
    Less than 10 minutes walking distance from my house, there is a café with their own coffee roasterie attached. In October, I will go on a behind-the-scenes tour there with a small group of people, coffee tasting included.

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    1. Hope you post photos of your visit. I'd love to do that.

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  5. These sound like fun, but I only allow myself one cup of coffee a day so I think I might get a caffeine rush from the first one :-)

    I've heard of Kopi Luwak - can't say I'd want to try it myself, but there seems to be some question about whether the palm civets that produce it are being kept in captivity, and that puts me off even more.

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    1. I just have one, also.
      As far as the KL goes, it just gets worse hearing about that possibility. They should mark the bags because there are those who wouldn't drink it knowing that.

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  6. I've just started reading Grey Whale #1 on my Kindle and am enjoying it so far. It's good to know that it continues to delight!

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    1. Wait till you read the recipes at the end! There are a few I'm looking forward to.

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  7. Thanks for the book tips, Nan! I'm always on the outlook for new - to me,anyway- authors. Just bought this one on Kindle for $1.99 - a good buy!
    Have you read any of Gail Tsukiyama's wonderful books? "The Samurai's Garden" was the first and is a beautifully written book. Her newest is "One Hundred Blossoms" just out in August - I used our interloan library system to read it and will buy it in time.
    Have gone on too long, but I really do appreciate your postings so much!
    A fellow reader,
    Mary

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    1. The Samurai's Garden is the only one I've read. It was like poetry. I should read it again this autumn.
      You could never 'go on too long.' It is comments and conversations that make blogging so wonderful.

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    2. Oh, The Samurai's Garden is one of my all-time favorite novels! I should read it again, too!! :)

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    3. I remember that. It is possible you were the push for me to read it all those years ago. I recently bought my own copy.

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  8. I have the first Gray Whale mystery, and really need to get to it. Your review makes them sound like a lot of fun to read.
    I also love your photograph on your header, what a lovely image of summer slipping into autumn :-)

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    1. Wait till you read the recipes! My book report on the first book is here:

      http://lettersfromahillfarm.blogspot.com/2012/05/murder-on-rocks-by-karen-macinerney.html

      Thanks about the photo. I love those purples and yellows of our late summer.

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  9. Enjoyed both of them tho have not read all the books in each series...

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    1. I haven't either. I plan to read book 4 of the Gray Whale series soon, and I have the Christmas Cleo Coyle - Holiday Grind - on deck for November.

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  10. Your new (to me) header is wonderful Nan! Happy Fall. I am a couple of books behind on Coffeehouse -- it's the only cozy series that I still read -- I kind of got burned out on the genre. Maybe I'd like the Gray Whale ones too....Sigh, so many books .....

    I'd heard of that strangely "processed" coffee before, but couldn't quite believe what I heard. Guess it must be true.

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    1. Thanks! I do love those colors, and especially I love them together like that. I'm not a big cozy fan either. I start and quit a lot of them, but both of these are appealing to me.

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  11. I've had the coffee shop series on my TBR list, but will now add the other. It sounds wonderful! But that special coffee sounds dreadful. Not for me and I love my coffee!

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    1. I'm not a big cozy fan, but I like both these series very much.

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Now that I am a grandmother, it seems that I am often late in replying to your most-appreciated comments. But I read them as soon as they come in, and I will write as soon as I can. Please do come back and check. I love these blogging conversations. A little addendum - I've just spent quite a long time catching up with dear notes you left me months ago!! I do hope you can get back to read them. And I'm trying to be much more prompt now!

Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.