Cats! · Fiction · Jean R · Mystery

The Litter of the Law | by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown

The Litter of the Law (Mrs. Murphy, #21)

The Litter of the Law by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown
(Bantam, 2013, 256 pages)

The Litter of the Law by Rita Mae Brown and her feline co-author, Sneaky Pie Brown, is another book in the Mrs. Murphy Mystery Series which began in 1990. In this book, the main character, Harry, her husband, Fair, her two cats, Pewter and Mrs. Murphy, and her dog, Tucker, are all out for a nice fall drive in the Virginia countryside. The group spots a scarecrow that doesn’t look quite right and goes to investigate. The scarecrow is a dead accountant dressed to look like a scarecrow. And so the mystery begins. Harry along with her animal companions decide to investigate. During the course of the investigation, another death occurs. Are the two deaths related? If so, how and why did they occur?

I have been reading the Mrs. Murphy Mystery Series for several years. In recent years, the series seems to be teaching lessons as well as solving a mystery. In The Litter of the Law, Brown discusses the issue of Native American rights (or lack thereof) in the state of Virginia. While I no longer enjoy the series as much as I once did, I do continue to pick up the books from time to time to see what is happening in Harry’s life.

Cats! · Fiction · Jean R · Mystery

Hiss of Death | by Rita Mae Brown

Hiss of Death

Hiss of Death by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown
(Bantam, 2012, 336 pages)

Hiss of Death by Rita Mae Brown and feline co-author, Sneaky Pie Brown, is the 20th book in the Mrs. Murphy Mystery series. In Hiss of Death, our heroine, Harry, is diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. As Harry is being diagnosed and treated for the disease, professionals from the hospital where she is being treated start dying. First, there was the OR nurse who may or may not have died from a hornet sting. The next two deaths are definitely murder. Harry being Harry feels the need to solve this murder mystery.

The Mrs. Murphy Mystery series is set in Crozet in central Virginia. Harry lives on a farm with her veterinarian husband (Fair), her Corgi (Tee Tucker), and her two cats (Mrs. Murphy and a Pewter). The Corgi and the two cats help Harry solve her mysteries.

I hadn’t read a Mrs. Murphy Mystery for a few years so I decided to read Hiss of Death to see what Harry and the cast of characters in this series was up to these days. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the earlier books. The animals didn’t seem to be as much help in solving the mystery. Or maybe it was the weighty subject of breast cancer that permeated the book. If you’ve read other books in this series, I would read this one. If you want to start reading this series, I’d start with one of the earlier books.

Cats! · Fashion · Julia P · Memoir · Non-Fiction · Photography · Quick Read!

Grace: A Memoir | by Grace Coddington

GraceGrace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington
(Random House, 2012, 416 pages)

I was intrigued by Grace Coddington after watching the documentary “The September Issue,” which looked at what goes into creating the September issue for Vogue magazine. Grace was the standout star of the film because of her dedication, focus, and sass in the face of Anna Wintour. This memoir looks back at Grace’s life and recounts her journey from a small island life in England to the Creative Director of American Vogue. Photos of her life and sketches done by Grace are sprinkled throughout the text. It’s written in a very engaging way and despite being lengthy the type was on the larger side and it was easy to read. There’s no question she led (and continues to lead) an interesting life.

While reading this book I found myself Googling the models and photographers Grace mentions. I was definitely exposed to new people and gained a better appreciation for the work that goes into creating a fashion photograph. It even inspired my to resubscribe to the magazine! If you’re into fashion, or happened to see “The September Issue,” have an appreciation for the magazine industry, or simply love a good memoir, you’ll enjoy this book. There were little bits of celebrity gossip interspersed and it was interesting to see the role of fashion change through Grace’s life. Plus she loves cats so… I like her that much more now 🙂

Cats! · Fiction · Juvenile · Quick Read! · Theresa F

The Sisters 8 (Books 1-3) | by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

The Sisters 8 : Annie’s Adventure (Book 1) by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
(Sandpiper, 2008, 144 pages)

The Sisters 8: Durinda’s Dangers (Book 2) by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
(Sandpiper, 2008, 128 pages)

The Sisters 8: Georgia’s Greatness (Book 3) by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
(Sandpiper, 2009, 160 pages)

I was visiting my niece the other day (9 years old) and she was reading book 6 in this series.  I picked it up and said that this is exactly the kind of series I would have loved when I was a kid.  My sister-in-law said “Go ahead and read them, she has the whole series!”  So I read two in one day and the third the next.  I was thoroughly entertained and I definitely plan to read all 9.

The series follows a set of octuplet sisters whose mother and father mysteriously disappear on New Year’s Eve and find a note that says they will find their parents after each of them discovers their power and are given a gift.  Each month a sister discovers a power (like disappearing) and gets a gift (like a ring) and they learn a little piece of the mystery of their missing parents.  By the time the last sister gets her power and gift it will be August and they will turn 8 years old.  It’s a cute story full of interesting characters.  Did I mention each sister has a cat?  Bonus!

Cats! · Julia P · Memoir · Non-Fiction · Quick Read!

Kitty Cornered | by Bob Tarte

Kitty Cornered: How Frannie and Five Other Incorrigible Cats Seized Control of Our House and Made It Their Home
by Bob Tarte
(Algonquin Books, 2012, 304 pages)

As a slightly cat-crazed librarian I couldn’t pass this book up. There have been an abundance of dog-related memoirs in the past however many years, so it was nice seeing one that focused on cats. Bob and his wife Linda live a unique life in Michigan. They don’t just have six cats, they have numerous birds, rabbits, ducks, geese, and (unwelcome) mice. There’s no question these two are animal lovers.

Bob takes us through what life is like in his world. We see how his life changes when it goes from a one-cat household to a six-cat household – somehow he and his wife become known as the people to call if a cat is about to be handed off to a shelter… they can’t bear the idea when they could just as easily accommodate another feline in the house. I can’t even imagine having 6 cats… (except I can – perhaps one day… ;))

As cats tend to do, the six cats that come to live with the Tartes (Agnes, Frannie, Moobie, Maynard, Tina, and Lucy) eventually find a way of “running” the household. We see the love and effort that goes into making sure the cats are well-fed and content. Even if that means making a giant litterbox out of two kiddie pools (a necessary project after one cat decides she only wants to pee OVER the rim of the litterbox). Or if it requires remembering not to pet a certain cat until they ask for it – if you decide YOU are in the mood to pet this cat, you’ll find yourself nursing a wound…

This was an enjoyable read because it’s clear how much Bob loves his cats. He sees his personality reflected in each of them and he respects them for the intelligent and loving (each in their own way) creatures they are. Yes, cats are very different from dogs. They require a different level of understanding. But if you take the time to get to know them, you’ll find they suck you in quickly. As I was reading I had to keep putting the book down to go squeeze my two cats. Not to mention there were a number of times I found myself laughing out loud at some of Bob’s descriptions.

P.S. If you want to see pictures of the cats featured in this memoir, go here 🙂

Cats! · Fiction · Jean R · Mystery · Quick Read!

Classified as Murder | by Miranda James

Classified as Murder by Miranda James
(Berkley, 2011, 304 pages)

Classified as Murder by Miranda James is the second book in the A Cat in the Stacks Mystery series. The murder mystery was written by a librarian (Miranda James) about a librarian (Charlie Harris) who is asked to inventory the rare book collection of James Delacorte which Delacorte keeps in his personal library at his mansion. Carrying the library theme even further, James Delacorte is murdered in his personal library.

The first book in the A Cat in the Stacks Mystery series, Murder Past Due, introduced us to Charlie Harris, his background, his family, and his Maine Coon cat and fellow mystery solver, Diesel. Classified as Murder develops those characters further as Charlie and Diesel help to solve the murder. The suspects range from an unlikeable librarian to various eccentric family members to the faithful butler.

Classified as Murder can be read in one sitting. The plot isn’t complicated, but it keeps your interest. I’m looking forward to reading the third book in the series, File M for Murder.