Friday, September 21, 2012

black diamonds and dr. seuss

First published as Book Review: Black Diamond by Martin Walker and Book Review: The Dr. Seuss Bookshelf from Oceanhouse Media on Blogcritics.

Black Diamond

Black Diamond is the third book in a mystery series by author Martin Walker. Dubbed a mystery of the French countryside, the recent paperback release from Vintage once again features Detective Bruno Courrèges, the only policeman in the small town of St. Denis, in Périgord, a former province of France, now called the Dordogne.

Detective Bruno is not just a smart cop, but a connoisseur of fine wine, food, and the inestimable local black truffles – black diamonds. Perigord truffles are a multi-million euro business and are at the heart of this entertaining mystery. Walker takes readers behind the scenes of the truffle trade, where one may be surprised (or not) to learn that there is a lucrative black market for substituting inferior Chinese truffles for southern France's local gems.

A murder, a father-son feud, and Bruno's own romantic complications with British girlfriend Pamela (and a woman from his past) keep the charismatic detective quite busy throughout this mystery. Black Diamond starts off at a leisurely pace, and although Walker includes some exciting scenes and intrigue, the overall feeling one gets from the book is similar to one of the long, multi-course dinners that Bruno is so fond of enjoying or preparing. The mystery and supporting characters are intriguing, but what really makes the story is its love and indulgence of the local setting, and especially its appreciation for fine food and wine.

Walker is the senior director of the Global Business Policy Council, a private think tank based in Washington, D.C. He lives in Washington, D.C. and the Dordogne. In Black Diamond he writes eloquently about such diverse topics as "green" cuisine, local politics, ethnic struggles, and organized crime. Readers familiar with the Dordogne region of southern France or dreaming of a future visit will enjoy following Bruno around St. Denis and its environs (and restaurants). His clever crime-solving is just an added bonus. After reading Black Diamond readers will definitely want to check out or revisit the first two installments of the series.

The Dr. Seuss Bookshelf

Oceanhouse Media released an exciting new app this week, the Dr. Seuss Bookshelf. A free download in the App Store, iPad®, iPhone® and iPod touch® owners can now access and organize all of their favorite Dr. Seuss books, games, and camera apps.

An aid for both parents and their children, the opening screen is divided into four sections. "My Apps" highlights any Dr. Seuss apps that the user already has on their device, with an easy-to-use side-scroll menu for selection. Directly below is "Favorites," where one can drag and drop favorite or more frequently-used apps. The top two sections feature available Dr. Seuss apps, in the "Store" and "Featured" sections. An app can be selected with a tap, which displays the price, item description, and another button to tap for purchase.

There are more than 45 Dr. Seuss apps available in the App Store. Additional browsing criteria includes sorting by Type (Dr. Seuss Classic Books, The Cat in the Hat's Learning Library, Games, Cameras), Price (ranging from $0.99 or less to $8.99), or Age (ranging from age 3 and under to ages 9-12). There is also a search feature where one can type in a specific title or query to help select an app. To get a sampling of what's on offer, the $0.99 or less price range includes some free apps for parents and kids to try out and see if they like them - The Cat in the Hat LITE, Dr. Seuss's ABC LITE, Green Eggs and Ham LITE, and the Dr. Seuss Camera - Happy Birthday Edition.

Oceanhouse Media will be updating the Dr. Seuss Bookshelf regularly, with sales and holiday-themed products. Children and adults should enjoy this nice addition to their already impressive collection of Dr. Seuss apps.

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