Saturday, March 24, 2018

Really Important Stuff My Cat Has Taught Me by Cynthia L. Copeland

Sounds like a fluffy book filled with cat photographs, doesn't it? Actually, Cynthia L. Copeland's Really Important Stuff My Cat Has Taught Me is filled with as much solid advice as most self-improvement books, and more than some. In addition, readers do get all those wonderful cat photographs.

Copeland's chapter headings offer advice, but the photos and accompanying text explain each chapter. "Be the exception" says that "Progress is achieved when familiar patterns are broken." But, the author has fun with her own advice. As she says, and the cats illustrate, it's "Just more fun to be weird than it is to be ordinary."

Chapter two illustrates something we often forget as we rush through day-to-day life. It's entitled "Take it all in." Copeland says cats observe the world around them, and cultivate the time to be alone. She suggests that time for quiet reflection is necessary. It's not just cats that illustrate the importance of alone time. Albert Einstein, Mozart, and Nikola Tesla are all used as examples of people who appreciated quiet contemplation.

I could explain all the chapter headings, such as "Let your mind wonder" or "Add whimsy to the world." I could also quote cat lovers such as Mark Twain and Winston Churchill. But, why? There are enough hints to show you that cats are wise in the way of life and philosophy. Observations of cats would provide all of us with some wisdom.

If you get a chance, pick up Really Important Stuff My Cat Has Taught Me. I picked up my copy at the library, so maybe your public library will have a copy. Who can resist those adorable photos?

Really Important Stuff My Cat Has Taught Me by Cynthia L. Copeland. Workman Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781523501489 (paperback).

FTC Full Disclosure - library book

Friday, March 23, 2018

Winners & A South Central Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Sandy O. of Milford, OH won Bel, Book and Scandal. Diane Kelly's Death, Taxes, and a Shotgun Wedding will go to Natalie S. from Hyde Park, MA. The books will go out today.

Let's head to the South Central section of the U.S. for this week's giveaway. The first book I'm giving away is Doris Casey's latest Alafair Tucker mystery, Forty Dead Men, set in Oklahoma. Alafair's son, Gee Dub, has returned from World War I, but he's not exactly the same young man who left. When Gee Dub finds a young woman crossing their property in the rain, he has her mother offer her shelter. Then, he becomes caught up in Holly's story of marrying a soldier before he left for war. When Holly's husband is found shot to death, Gee Dub is a suspect. But, Alafair will always fight for one of her children, especially one who is suffering.

Or, you could travel to Jarrett Creek, Texas with Terry Shames' Samuel Craddock mystery, A Reckoning in the Back Country. It's Thanksgiving, and many of Sheriff Craddock's staff is not available when a doctor goes missing, and is then found murdered. Craddock's investigation is hindered by his unfamiliarity with the man and his family, and the local residents who are keeping secrets. Craddock juggles rumors of dogfighting, his murder investigation, and even a possible romance.

Oklahoma or Texas? That's all you need to say in your subject line to enter either giveaway. I do need separate entries. Email me at with subject lines that read either "Win Oklahoma" or "Win Texas." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway ends Thursday, March 29 at 5 PM CT.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

What Are You Reading?

I could tell you all about the books on my TBR pile. They've been waiting while I met my Library Journal deadline. But, here's the book Josh wanted me to read last night, Really Important Stuff My Cat Has Taught Me by Cynthia L. Copeland.

I don't remember books like that until Robert Fulghum came out with All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I loved that book. I used to use it for Readers' Theater. This book is broken down into chapters of advice with photos of cats providing simple examples of "Be the exception", "Take it all in", "Let your mind wonder". It should be fun.

What are you reading or listening to this week? I hope you're enjoying it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Stop You're Killing Me!

Several months ago, when I told Charlotte, one of the blog's faithful readers, about the website Stop You're Killing Me!, she suggested I mention it here. She said there may be other readers who don't know about my favorite website.

The website says, "A website to die for...if you love mysteries", and it truly is. If you're looking for a mystery series, in order, with a link to the author's website, check here first. It also says, "Stop, You're Killing Me! is a resource for lovers of mystery, crime, thriller, spy, and suspense books. We list over 5,0000 authors, with chronological lists of their books (over 58,000 titles), both series (5,900+ and non-series." I have to say, though, that I use it most often to find the next book in a series.

Looking for a list of award winners? You’ll find the Edgars, Agathas, Macavities, and others listed. You can only remember the name of the character you like, but not the author? The index for the site is by author or character. Are you looking for a mystery set in the 1920s? Try the Historical Index. Find mysteries set in Arizona or Italy. That’s the Location Index. There’s a Genre Index to help you find Police Procedurals or Thrillers.There's a Diversity Index if you're looking for series characters who are Seniors or Gay or Lesbian.
Lucinda Surber and Stan Ulrich do a fantastic job with Stop, You're Killing Me! As I said, it's my favorite website. Everything a mystery reader could want, all in one place.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

I Am a Cat by Galia Bernstein

Once in a while, I come across a children's picture book that I love and want to share. I'm going to read Galia Bernstein's I Am a Cat to a group of third graders next month. I know it's a picture book, but its subtle message of diversity and similarity is too good not to read to my kids.

Simon is a cat. When he meets a group of cats, he introduces himself, and tells them he's a cat, "Just like you!" Here's their first reaction.

And, their second reaction.

The lion, cheetah, puma, panther, and tiger tell Simon he's nothing at all like them. But, Simon points out that none of them resemble each other, so how can they all be cats? When the lion points out the features they have in common, all the large cats realize Simon has small, perky ears, and a flat noise, and long whiskers, and a long tail, and sharp teeth and claws, "and big eyes that can see in the dark".

Despite the difference in size and coloration and abilities, Simon is just like the big cats.

Need I say more?

Galia Bernstein's I Am a Cat marks her debut as an author and illustrator. I love the facial expressions on her cats. I can't wait to share this book with my kids.

Galia Bernstein's website is

I Am a Cat by Galia Bernstein. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017. ISBN 9781418726439 (hardcover).

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Monday, March 19, 2018

Have You Heard? - A Toxic Trousseau by Juliet Blackwell

Sandie Herron caught my comment that I was reading Juliet Blackwell's A Toxic Trousseau, and she reminded me that she had reviewed the audio book. Thanks, Sandie. Here's her review of the last Witchcraft Mystery.

A TOXIC TROUSSEAU                                                          
Witchcraft Mysteries #8
Written by Juliet Blackwell, Narrated by Xe Sands
Unabridged Audiobook
Listening Length: 7 hours and 41 minutes
Publisher: Tantor Audio Release Date: July 5, 2016

Vintage clothing dealer Lily Ivory almost stumbles down the stairs 
from her second floor apartment to open Aunt Cora’s Closet only to 
open the front door and be served papers!  Autumn Jennings had 
visited Lily and her shop and had bothered Lily’s witch’s familiar 
Oscar in his public persona as a miniature pot-bellied pig so much 
that he head butted her!  She fell into a rack of clothing but was 
none the worse for wear until she decided to sue Lily.

Trying to avoid the suit altogether, Lily visited Autumn across town.   This time Autumn looked rather ill and confused.  When Lily referenced the suit, they both went upstairs to Autumn’s apartment where Lily notices what appears to be a complete vintage trousseau.  Autumn spoke of the items being cursed and how the curse went back several generations.  The curse had been placed on one of Autumn’s male relations plus anyone born of the same line. It was a coincidence that found the trousseau for which  Autumn had spent decades searching.

The next day when Lily returned with some scrumptious cupcakes, she found Autumn dead upstairs.  Cause of death was the clothes from the trousseau!  Cursed or deliberate poisoning?  Plus now there was a charming dog with no owner.  As Lily and the women in her shop looked for a new home for the dog, they found a friendly dog park where they politely gathered more information and met more people involved in this peculiar case.

One of Lily’s best workers had a birthday for which her beau treated her and her entire coven to sleep over at a haunted house once owned by a very wealthy widow.  The woman had been renovating when her husband died, and she could never stop construction.  The mansion had 75 bedrooms, 6 kitchens, and 10,000 windows.  Along as protection for the coven, Lily and her beau Sailor, found doors opened onto walls and other peculiar features of the house.  When they inadvertently went to an area denied visitors, an alarm sounded in the caretaker’s home, who struck up a friendship with the lovebirds when he came to investigate.

Did I mention that Sailor’s nemesis Aidan, head of the magical community in San Francisco, left on a trip and left Lily in charge for which she needed his well-worn leather satchel.  The Mayor’s private number was included along with many slips from people who owed Aidan for some favor or deed.  Others feared the Satchel.  It held quite a lot of power that Lily might have known if so much else wasn’t going on in her life..

All of these items were figuratively blended and brewed until Lily figured out who was responsible for many of the calamities going around.  I was shocked when the main perpetrator revealed herself.  Enough clues had been dropped throughout the book that a more astute reader would have put to the open case, especially when the curse hit another outside the family.  Unfortunately, I did not so did not determine who the killer was until it was revealed in the book.  Lots of fun with full impact hitting me as it hit Lily!

I consider Xe Sands one of my favorite narrators.  Different characters have been given subtle changes from each other but never so much that could be considered overdone. She can switch gears from catching the murderer to a romantic scene that leaves Lily utterly speechless to another scene that leaves Aidan out of sorts.  It all makes up the eighth book of the Witchcraft Series by Juliet Blackwell.  Now, I need some juju to help me wait for number nine!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Where I've Been

No video today. Instead, I'm going to invite you to a couple blogs where I've been spending time this weekend.

I've raved about my friend Kaye Wilkinson Barley before. She's my roommate for mystery conferences and even in Paris. We're already planning Bouchercon in Dallas next year! She was kind enough to invite me to read on her blog, Meanderings and Muses. Kaye's doing a feature called "Inside My Book Fort" in which she reads favorite passages from books. I'm sharing an essay from one of my all-time favorite books. Stop by to see what it is!

With Kaye in Paris

I was also at Jungle Red Writers with several blogger friends, Dru Ann Love and Cathy Cole. Author Jenn McKinlay invited us to talk about the three books we're anticipating in 2018. Stop by for our lists, and the lists of several readers who commented.

Once in a while, it's fun to appear on someone else's blog.