Book Review – Ma Tutt’s Donut Hut

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Here’s something I haven’t told a lot of people about: when I was in junior high and high school, I devoured Lilian Jackson Braun’s books. You know the ones, featuring James Qwilleran and his cats Koko and Yum-Yum. I read all the ones the library had and forgot about them for a while. Then when an elderly cousin passed away, I managed to inherit her collection of her “Cat Who…” books as well. I re-read them, catching up on the ones I missed when I went to college. I loved the characteristics of the books and the light-hearted tone, in spite of serious events that would transpire all around Qwill and his friends. A certain supernatural flair surrounding Koko probably fed into my love of the books as well (I will also say as a cat-lover, the cats’ presence in the narrative didn’t hurt, either).

Ma Tutt Cover ThumbSo…fast forward a few more years and I learn about the genre these books belonged to – cozies. As an “adult,” I kind of figured I was past reading these books. And then one of my friends went and wrote one. I agreed to give it a read before he published, and I do not regret it one bit. Ma Tutt’s Donut Hut by Lyn Perry is a fine addition to the Cozy Mystery genre and a great light read. A short novel, Perry tells the story of Ma Tutt, a recent retiree who settles in a new community to open a bakery. In doing so, she inherits a cat, who is a little more than he seems.

The book is really four separate short “tails” that compromise the beginnings of Ma Tutt’s time in her new town and her introduction to the main characters that presumably will propel this series further as Perry decides to write more about Mack the Cat.

As I read this book, I found myself reliving the stories of Koko and Yum-Yum and the seemingly telepathic and prescient way Koko interacted with the story. Since Jackson Braun passed away a couple years ago, I would say Perry’s new world with Mack the Cat may help fill any void left behind.

Ma Tutt’s Donut Hut is on sale for a limited time for just $1.75 ($3.95 normally). Don’t miss this opportunity to grab a copy for a low price!

(Writer’s Note: Lyn’s Silo story The Last Prayer is a part of WOOL Gathering, of which my story The Sheriff’s Son is also a part.)

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Reader Requests #4 — Bilbies, Donuts, and Peeps

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I put out another call for blog ideas from my Facebook friends and family tonight and they did not let me down. Most of those ideas contained a kernel of similarity – food. Let’s kick it off, shall we?


 

Easter Bunnies.

Cute, adorable, giver of chocolate and hard-boiled eggs.

Except…maybe not.

Every year, numerous well-meaning parents in the U.S. adopt rabbits around Easter as gifts for their children. According to an article on Chicago Now:

“Too many families purchase a rabbit on impulse for Easter gifts and they don’t realize how complicated rabbit care can be,” says Marcia Coburn, President of Red Door. “We get so many calls from people that see rabbits running lose that don’t appear to be wild rabbits and we end up going out and rescuing them. Domestic rabbits just aren’t cut out to survive out there.”

These rabbits end up either killed by natural predators or rescued by local humane societies. This problem with bunnies isn’t just an American problem.

Looks like there is way more chocolate to a Bilby than a Bunny.

Looks like there is way more chocolate to a Bilby than a Bunny.

In Australia, rabbits have been a problem for a couple centuries. Rabbits are not native to the continent, but when settlers came from Europe and North America a few hundred years ago, they brought rabbits, foxes, and domesticated cats – all of which are now feral species that have harmed the Australian environment. From an article by Dr. Ian Gunn, an Adjunct Senior Associate at Monash University:

Australia has a sad history of importing European animals — rabbits, foxes and cats, for example — that now pose a great threat to the survival of our native species. Feral rabbits are Australia’s greatest pests, currently costing agriculture, and hence the community, about $200 million annually, in addition to untold costs to the environment.

The article goes on to suggest that instead of Australians going for the traditional Easter Bunny, they should instead an Easter Bilby. What is a bilby? A marsupial, the bilby is a type of bandicoot that lives in the desert of Australia. With large ears that help keep it cool in the hot arid climate of the Australian mid-section, the bilby is the natural replacement to the rabbit in Australian Easter folklore.

Credit to Scott Robert Glazier for the Bunny topic.


 

On other food topics, our friend Michael Bunker had a few food topics to address and I will do so in the following bullet points:

  • Ice Cream Sandwiches. Pro or Con? What? How is this even a question? Pro of course. The sandwich part by itself could be called a cookie. Sesame Street named one of their main characters the COOKIE MONSTER. On the inside is ice cream. Wonderful, amazing, creamy ice cream. How does the saying go? “You scream, I scream, WE ALL SCREAM for Ice Cream!” Put those two together and you have magic. In your mouth.
  • Steak: Pro or Con? Pro. You can’t beat a well-cooked steak. The trick is the well-cooked part, of course and that in itself drives some people away. Even pricey restaurants don’t always cook steaks well. I went to one of those pricey restaurants a few years ago – where their steaks are graded on a separate scale than the USDA – it was heaven.
  • Donuts and donut holes. I’ll just quote the bearded master here: “How do they get away with cutting a part of the middle of your donut away and selling it as a “donut hole” to someone else? If they did that with Pizza, there would be an uprising. And shouldn’t we demand that we get the middle part for free?” Absolutely, Mr. Bunker. The middle part should be our right. This is a food slippery slope. Sometime in our past, there was a pastry. Then someone took out the middle and called it a donut, forgetting that we still deserved that middle deliciousness. That simple act has spawned an entire industry on just donut holes. It’s like when Hitler demanded Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia. Neville Chamberlain thought – “we’ll just give it to him and he’ll be OK.” Except he wasn’t. We all know how that ended. We need to demand our holes back. Our HOLES!

Credit to Michael Bunker for the various food topics


 

And to close this one out, here is a brief editorial on Peeps.

Peeps. Peeps. Peeps. Just keep saying it out loud. After a while, you start sounding like 1/3 of a 90’s hip-hop group. At best.

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What do you think this is? Some kind of game?

Peeps, if you are not familiar, are pieces of marshmallow shaped into chick or bunny forms and coated with colored sugar. There is no nutritutional value. There is no spiritual value. There is no redeeming value.

If you’ve had a Peep (and if you have, you may not want to raise your hand), have you ever sat back afterwards and said, “Oh boy self, that sure was a mighty fine decision to eat that sugar-blasted, chick-shaped marshmallow?

You know what Peeps are good for? Dioramas (there are HUNDREDS of them. That is why they sell – so people can make scenes from their favorite movies with Peeps.)

In closing, pitch the Peeps. There is so many better things you could have.

Oh look – a Peep in a donut!

Thanks to Carrie Gillette for the Peeps