Pru Marlowe has almost finished her animal behavior training in New York City when she becomes ill, and all of a sudden discovers that she can hear animals talking to her. Disturbed rather than pleased with this new psychic ability, Pru leaves the city to retreat to her childhood home in the Berkshires. Even though she hasn’t completed her behavior certification, she begins to take on some jobs training and walking dogs. One of her clients is Lily the pitbull, a former fighting dog. When Pru finds Lily’s owner murdered, his throat ripped open, and Lily standing over the body with blood on her face, it sure looks for all intents and purposes like the dog did it.
But Pru knows Lily, and she knows the dog is not a killer. So Pru sets out to prove Lily’s innocence, and she gets tangled up in an investigation that involves a business venture, an aging mother with Alzheimer’s, a pregnant fiance, an animal control officer with a pet ferret named Frank, a gay Bichon named Bitsy who tells Pru his real name is Growler, and a handsome cop.
As Pru digs deeper into the case, she realizes that the pretty little town harbors secrets that make murder look like the least of its problems. Unwilling to tell anyone about her psychic abilities, and at times questioning her own sanity, Pru realizes that if she clears Lily of the murder, she herself may be come the most logical suspect, which only increases her desire to find the real killer. Pru, who is reserved and a bit solitary by nature, doesn’t come to trust people easily. Instead, she confides in Wallis, her old, cranky, opinionated and wise tabby, who always seems to know the right time to provide a little extra guidance to Pru. My favorite quote from Wallis is the one that probably provided the title for the book: “Dogs.” Wallis hissed out the word, as close to a curse as she comes. “They lie.”
And since one can never have too many cats in a mystery, an orange kitten named Tulip and a black Persian named Floyd also contribute bits and pieces of information to help Pru solve the puzzle. While Lily the pitbull ultimately uncovers the proof needed to convict the killer, the cats provide plenty of help along the way.
Characteristic of all of Simon’s mysteries, this new series features a fast moving, intricate plot, an immensely likable main character and well developed and multi-dimensional secondary characters. But it’s in the portrayal of the animals where Simon really shines in this book. From her sensitive portrayal of Lily’s agony, grief and sadness to her wonderful description of Wallis and her many quirks, Simon masterfully captures each animal’s unique personality. Pru’s psychic abilities add an element of surprise and delight, making Dogs Don’t Lie a treat for cat lovers, dog lovers, and mystery lovers.
I had eagerly anticipated the release of Grey Zone, the third in Clea Simon’s Dulcie Schwartz feline mystery series. The book’s official release date is April 1, and even though I have a pile of unread books a mile high, I just couldn’t wait that long, and ordered it on Amazon as soon as it became available.
Harvard graduate student Dulcie Schwartz is hard at work on her thesis, which focuses on a 200-year-old Gothic mystery. Mr. Grey, the spirit of her beloved feline, who offered wise advice and comfort to Dulcie in the past, has been increasingly silent. Dulcie could really use his help with Esme, her mischievous and sometimes destructive kitten. And on top of everything, her boyfriend is working all the time, and never seems to be available when Dulcie needs him. When a student goes missing and a professor ends up dead, Dulcie finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into an increasingly complicated tangle of possible suspects, motives, and maybe even murder.
This exceptionally plotted story sweeps the reader along with Dulcie as she tries to unravel the mystery. Will Mr. Grey help her, as he did in the past? What about Esme? Will the kitten play a part in solving they mystery? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book not just for the story, but also for the main characters and the setting. Simon excels in developing her characters, and Dulcie is no exception. Simon’s skills in writing appealing characters extend to the cats as well. Even though Mr. Grey is a ghost cat, he feels real, and many readers will be able to relate to the feeling of connection with lost pets that extends beyond the realm of the physical. She perfectly captures the antics of a growing kitten, and the slow process of a new kitten making her way into the heart of someone who’s lost a beloved cat. The relationship between Dulcie and her boyfriend keeps changing and growing as well. The story is set in Cambridge in the middle of winter, and Simon sets the scene so well that I found myself shivering at times.
All of these components make this book a wonderful read for cat lovers, mystery lovers, and lovers of a great story. Don’t miss this one.
Coming next week on The Conscious Cat: a review of Dogs Don’t Lie, the first in Clea Simon’s new Pet Noir series. And coming in two weeks: Clea Simon talks to The Conscious Cat about writing murder mysteries featuring cats.
When I came across First Person Cat, I was immediately intrigued. A murder mystery featuring a tortoiseshell cat – I had to read this one!
Tiffany, a tortoiseshell Persian is living the good life in Beverly Hills, CA when her human mother, a former rock star, is found murdered in her home. Even though Tiffany didn’t witness the murder, she is sure she knows who killed her mother. Highly intuitive and with an uncanny (or maybe catty?) ability to read minds, Tiffany wants to make sure the right person is caught and justice prevails. As the murder investigation progresses, she charms a handsome detective on the Beverly Hills police force, who just happens to be a cat lover. As the story unfolds, Tiffany uses every feline wile at her disposal to direct the detective’s attention toward the person she believes killed her mother. In the process of her feline sleuthing, she even manages to prevent a second murder.
As the title suggests, the book is written from Tiffany’s perspective. Set in glitzy Beverly Hills, and filled with plenty of designer name dropping (the cat on the book’s cover is wearing a David Webb diamond necklace), the book is highly engaging, and you’ll find yourself cheering Tiffany on as she attempts to communicate what she knows to the sometimes frustratingly (for her) slow humans.
The author’s celebrity friends readily endorsed the book:
“Tiffany the cat is a cute and very enjoyable read . I love cat Tiffany and her point of view with humans and their flaws” –Lou and Carla Ferrigno, actors and body builders
“The beautiful Beverly Hills Tiffany, Tiff to select few, will guide you through a most fascinating, page flipping murder mystery. It deals with the rich, the conniving, the rock and film stars, the devious and then ever clever detectives. However, none is more clever than the magnificent Tiffany in solving the crime, with its intriguing cast of celebratory characters. By the way, Tiffany is a hot tortoise-shell Persian Cat!” – Tippi Hedren, actress and founder of Shambala Preserves for Big Cats & Exotic Animals
I enjoyed this book, especially the passages when Tiffany is trying to communicate with the humans around her. Heebner’s love for and knowledge of cats comes through loud and clear. The book leaves a little to be desired when it comes to human character development, but this is more than made up for by Tiffany’s endearing personality. A delightful, entertaining read.
I requested this book from the author’s publicist.
Jacque Heebner is a former Daily News journalist, animal rights activist, and owner of Jacque Designs Presents. For more about Jacque and First Person Cat, please visit her website.
I’m offering one copy of this book for one lucky winner. To enter the drawing, leave a comment here. For an additional chance to win, share this giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter and post the link in a separate comment. This giveaway ends Friday, March 18.
I first discovered Blaize Clement’s Dixie Hemingway series three years ago when the cover of the first book in the series, Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter, caught my eye. Dixie Hemingway is a pet sitter who lives on one of the Florida keys – just based on those two pieces of information, I had a feeling I was going to thoroughly enjoy the series, and I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve since read the entire series, and I was eagerly awaiting the next book. Even if I wasn’t already a fan, the cover of this one would have drawn me in for sure!
From the publisher:
In the sixth installment of the wildly popular Dixie Hemingway mystery series, Dixie is caring for the cat of a prickly old man whose granddaughter shows up with baby in tow. Dixie desperately tries to save this young woman and her infant from murderous con-artists ready to kill in order to hold on to the millions they stole from naive investors. The villains, though, are not run-of-the-mill criminals; they are among the socially prominent movers and shakers in Dixie’s town. As with other novels in the series, in the end, Dixie must confront her greatest fears and try to save the lives of the innocent, both two-legged and four.
This book has everything that makes a successful cozy mystery: an immensely likable protagonist, a wonderful setting (especially when you’re reading it in the middle of winter), well-developed secondary characters, and, of course, there are plenty of cats.
For me, the most enjoyable part about reading a series is always the development of the main character, and Clement does this masterfully, but the book can also be read on its own without taking anything away from it. However, be forewarned: once you read this one, you’re going to want to read the entire series.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable read for mystery and cat lovers alike. The only complaint I had about it was that it ended much too quickly, and I can’t wait for the next one.
I’m well aware how much a cat can change your life when you least expect it, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading Lou Belcher’s memoir about the sixteen years she shared with Max. Max was by Lou’s side through happy moments and sad ones, through challenges and loss, and along the way, he taught her a few things about life. The bond between Max and the author comes through in every word, and you will smile as you think about the bond with your own cats, both past and present.
The entire book touches the heart, but one of the most moving passages for me was when the author moves to Florida to be closer to her ailing mother. Max provides support and comfort not only to Lou as she deals with the logistical and emotional challenges of her mother’s declining health, but he also works his cat magic on Lou’s mother. I loved reading about how this usually somewhat clumsy cat was able to manage his energy and be gentle around a fragile, older woman.
This is the kind of book that you will want to savor as you follow Max and Lou’s journey, and you’ll find yourself chuckling at some of the lessons, and reflecting on others. Highly recommended for all cat lovers.
And if you’re looking for a purrfect last minute gift for a cat lover on your list, Amazon can still get this book to you or the recipient in time for Christmas!
Lou Belcher was Max’s food human, assistant, staff person, or human bean, depending on your orientation to such things. She took Max into her home and her heart when he was almost two years and freely admits she learned many valuable lessons from him about love and life. Lou is a freelance writer, editor, and blogger. She devotes time to supporting artists and writers through two of her blogs; and she supports animal adoption efforts through the blog she set up for Max. A portion of the proceeds from this book will go to agencies devoted to finding forever homes for pets.
I’m delighted to welcome Dena to The Conscious Cat today.
How did you get the idea for Who Moved My Mouse?
I had the idea for a cat to author a self-help book for people and was discussing it with friends when one of them suggested it would be really funny if there were a self-help book for cats. I loved the idea so much I ditched my idea and—with his permission—used his. Never undervalue the brainstorming power of a group of friends!
What made you decide that cats needed a self-help book?
They very idea that a cat would deign to admit they need help, let alone venture out to read a book on the topic, is so opposed to everything we imagine we know about cats that I knew I could get a lot of mileage out of the material.
I went to my local library and checked out every self-help book they had (which I’m sure caused more than a little gossip in my small town). For weeks I read about the power of positive thinking, affirmations, loving yourself, learning to stand up for yourself, accepting responsibility for your life, creating joy, and the whole time I’m picturing this forlorn feline reading all this material and thinking, “What the–?” and deciding to bag it and destroy the couch instead.
Tell us about your cats. Did they have a paw in writing the book?
I have two cats. Lucy is my talker, a black-and-white who has an opinion on everything. (She twitters as @Lucy_Cat.) Olivia is a reserved tabby who most friends have never seen because she hides. Both were strays. I have really strong cat allergies and technically shouldn’t have cats, but I adore my girls.
Both are couch potatoes and didn’t do much with the book, except every now and then when I was stuck I’d look at them and say, “Do something funny so I can write about it” and then they’d wander into the kitchen so I’d stop bothering them.
You are a prolific writer – did you always know that you wanted to be a writer?
No. I always assumed I’d be in upper-management at some business. But at my first job out of college, when I was promoted to supervisor I went into the ladies room and threw up. That was my first clue that maybe me and corporate life weren’t a great fit. I had a few different careers, earned a master’s degree, then started taking online writing classes. An instructor encouraged me to submit a story to a magazine; they accepted it and I was hooked.
What does a typical day of writing look like for you?
Oh Lord, it depends. I do a lot of client work and I have a hard time focusing on creative writing if I have a deadline hanging over me. I try to schedule my time in two-hour blocks, and divide it up among creative writing, client work, admin, and marketing.
What do you love most about being a writer?
Two things: how much flexibility I have with my time (I’m a morning person and am pretty much brain dead by 3 PM) and also that writing is something that I’ll never entirely master so I know I’ll never grow bored.
What do you like least about being a writer?
I sometimes get a bit defensive and feel the need to make sure people understand that freelance writing is hard work and I’m not just sitting around the house, goofing off.
Who or what inspires you?
Having worked at jobs where I was miserable, I’m inspired daily by this wonderful opportunity I have to do what I love. I get to work from home, I meet and interview interesting people, and with Who Moved My Mouse? I’m being paid to write about the world’s most magnificent creature, the cat. I am beyond grateful.
What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had at a book signing or event?
At a signing for my first book, this woman came up and told me this horrible story about how her cat was sitting in an open window and the pane fell on his tail and trapped him for hours and she just went on and on and she’s laughing as she’s telling me all this. The cat ended up being fine, but I just couldn’t see the humor in a cat being hurt and I had no idea what my reaction to her should be other than, “Get away from me.”
What are you reading at the moment?
The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brain by Nicholas Carr. It describes how the Internet is changing the way we read and process information and how we’re losing the ability for focus and deep thought. As I writer, I really relate. The only way I get any work done is first thing in the morning before I go near e-mail or online. Once I open up Facebook or Twitter, it’s all over.
Thank you so much for this opportunity, Dena, and much success with Who Moved My Mouse!
A self-help book for cats? Any self-respecting cat would tell you that she is purrfect just the way she is, thank you very much, and she doesn’t need no stinking self-help book, even if it smells like tuna. Despite this, Dena Harris went bravely where no author had gone before, and wrote just that – a self help book for cats. Thankfully, she had the assistance of Mr. Nom-Noms, “America’s Most Know-It All Expert…On Everything,” to help her with this task, and Who Moved My Mouse? A Self-Help Book for Cats (Who Don’t Need Any Help) was born.
From the publisher:
Filled with quizzes, exercises and insider tips, this indispensable guide empowers cats to make the twenty minutes they’re awake each day the best twenty minutes of their lives. With chapters that include “A Cat’s Conversations With God,” “How to Win Friends and Influence Dog People,” and “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… But Feel Free to Freak Out Over Anything That Moves Suddenly or Without Warning,” you’ll find the answers to the questions you’ve been asking. Get ready kitty… self-actualization is only a cat-nap away!
This delightful book made me chuckle most of the time, and laugh out loud more than once. I don’t recommend drinking while reading – there are far too many “spew alert worthy” passages in the book. From the incredibly detailed Purrsonality Profile (is your cat an SEBR – Snuggler Eager Bold Rebel or an LCBI – Loner Comatose Bold Innocent?) to The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Cats, this wonderful parody will empower your feline charges to answer such deeply important questions as: Who are we? Why are we here? Where are you going with that ham?
Aside from being super funny, this little book is a visual gem. Illustrated with Ann Boyajian’s charming cat drawings, and beautifully laid out in two-color print, this is a book to be enjoyed over and over. Don’t miss this one, and while you’re at it, treat your favorite cat lover to a copy or two – this book makes the purrfect gift.
As those of you who’ve been following me for a while know, reading is as essential as breathing to me. When I read a book that I find educational, inspirational, helpful, moving, interesting, or just plain fun, I want to share it with everyone. I thought it might be fun to periodically introduce and review some of my favorites here.
This is one of my favorite cat books. It’s a book for cat lovers. It’s a book for women who love their cats. And it’s a book for men who love women who love their cats.
Author Clea Simon examines the bond between cats and women from all angles – from history and mythology to interviews with cat women from all walks of life, the book is a compelling mix of facts about cats and the women who love them. It’s also a memoir of the seventeen years Simon spent with Cyrus, the kitten she adopted as a young single woman.
This is a joyful book, celebrating the role cats play in womens’ lives. If you are a woman who loves cats, or if you want to better understand a woman who loves cats, you will enjoy this book.
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