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Battle Cry of the Siamese Kitten: even more tales from the Accidental Veterinarian
Battle Cry of the Siamese Kitten
by Philipp Schott, DVM
I had a delightful journey through a series of tales, compared by the author to snacks, in Philipp Schott’s latest book Battle Cry of the Siamese Kitten. It is his third book of this type. It includes animal stories, vet stories, and client stories along with memories dredged up from his unusual childhood as a German immigrant. We gain insight into how he thinks and how he relates to others. There is a lot of humor in the book, and Schott doesn’t shy away from laughing at himself. He has a great way with words that lets the reader experience the animal encounters whether they be disgusting and smelly, bloodletting, or laugh out loud funny. The second tale about a two pound “gorgeous fluffy kitten who channels Satan” will ensure that you are fully engaged as this tiny, very loud, little guy “starfished himself across the entrance” to the kennel looking for a “decisive victory.”
Philipp Schott draws on over 30 years of experience with animals. He is the kind of vet you would want for your own pets—caring, hardworking, kind, intelligent, and honest. Unless you live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, you are unlikely to meet him. He lives there with his family and four animals who admittedly receive people food from time to time as treats. Although she did not contribute to this book, his wife is also a veterinarian and probably a very patient person.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Category: Memoir, Nonfiction
Notes: The more I read, the more I liked what I was reading and even went back to read a few tales again for pure pleasure.
Publication: October 11, 2022—ECW Press
Supercat put his ears back flat and stared at me with an intensity that signaled a level of hatred two steps beyond loathing.
I am not easily bored, but this was an exception. Flies fell asleep in that class.
Have you ever noticed this? The happiest dogs are the ones carrying sticks. And if the sight of a happy dog carrying a stick doesn’t gladden your heart, then what are you doing with this book in your hands?
A Tourist’s Guide to Murder–Sam and “the girls” invade Britain
A Tourist’s Guide to Murder
by V.M. Burns
Samantha Washington (Sam) is the owner of a mystery bookshop in North Harbor and has just landed a three book deal with a publishing house. She will spend the next week in England doing research for the British historic cozy mystery she is writing. She is slated for a mystery tour accompanied by her Nana Jo and Nana’s three best friends from the Shady Acres Retirement Village. Of the four senior citizens, not a one meets the stereotype of frail, little old ladies. They have a reputation for helping Sam solve mysteries that come her way through interviews, eavesdropping, feminine wiles, deduction, and the occasional use of martial arts as two of them have blackbelts. They keep the plot moving and the reader laughing.
There are complications just in reaching London with jet lag and no luggage, but that’s only the beginning of their troubles. The owner of the tour company is murdered, but the police, oddly, are not investigating. Unfortunately, there is another murder, and one of the assigned detectives is “as bright as a burned-out light bulb” and “a few sandwiches short of a picnic.” It’s time for Sam, Nana Jo, and “the girls” to join forces to discover the truth.
In order to free up her conscious mind when stymied in her investigations, Sam spends time when she can’t sleep or between tour stops writing her own mystery. Although the book she is writing takes place in 1939, Sam is able to use elements in the murders she is currently investigating and apply the principles to her own mystery with great success. When the flow of the contemporary mystery was first interrupted with this secondary story, I was a little miffed because I wanted the action to continue in the primary story. By the time I reached the next transition to 1939, however, I was anxious to read about the progress made in Sam’s own whodunit. The character Sam’s writing seems a little stilted at first, compared to the rest of the book, but that is perhaps due to the titles of “Lord” and “Lady” still being used along with formalities involved with a household of servants and adherence to etiquette rules. It is quite a contrast to our contemporary society.
I enjoyed Sam’s eagerness in visiting The Grand Hotel in Torquay where Agatha Christie honeymooned in 1914 and the Torquay Museum that displays the famous author’s memorabilia and items from movies based on her books. Next they went to Greenway, Christie’s home in Devon where she wrote many of her books. Sam “fangirled” on the tour of the house taking many pictures and drooling over first editions. Because of the two murders, the itinerary for the trip had to be revised several times, but most of the highlights are still included, and the group is able to visit several places that were alleged to be the settings or inspiration of mysteries by authors like Dorothy L. Sayers and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
If you like cozy mysteries, you can’t get any more “bookish” than V.M. Burns’ A Tourist’s Guide to Murder. It has two plots within the same book, a tour of significant literary locations, a writer-sleuth, and a mystery bookstore. It’s not heaven, but it’s pretty close. The tour intentionally lays on some misdirection, and there are red herrings in both plots to keep you guessing. The retirement home group is anything but retiring: they bring to minds phrases like “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” and “herding cats.” I want to read more from this series.
I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: 1. #6 in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series. This was my first book in this series and I had no problem reading it as a standalone.
2. There are many reasons to read this book, but one of them should not be the two cute toy poodles on the cover. They belong to Sam, but she doesn’t take them with her to England, so they are only briefly mentioned in the book.
Publication: January 26, 2021—Kensington
Lady Clara’s cheeks flamed and her eyes flashed. After a split second, she gave the captain a smile and then stomped down hard on his foot. “Oooph.” Captain Jessup bent over in pain. “Dear me, was that your foot?” Lady Clara said in a voice that oozed sweetness.
Nana Jo glanced at Hannah. “I don’t know about your national health care system, but in the United States, the pharmaceutical companies are running the whole country, and they’ve got a pill for everything.”
“Let’s face it, Stinky Pitt couldn’t find a killer who was standing naked in the middle of the street with a neon sign over his head.” Nana Jo and the girls nodded. Hannah looked confused. “Stinky Pitt?” Ruby Mae looks up from her knitting. “He’s the local detective in North Harbor, Michigan.” “Not the sharpest knife in the drawer?” “I’ve got sharper spoons.”
Thanksgiving in Paradise–Serenity doesn’t live up to its name
Thanksgiving in Paradise
by Kathi Daley
The gang is all back in the township of Serenity located near Paradise Lake when danger explodes, quite literally, in the town hall. Tj, a P.E teacher who helps her family run a resort, and her wealthy, tech savvy boyfriend, Kyle, team up with Deputy Roy Fisher to get to the bottom of the mystery. Was the explosion aimed at the building or at an individual? How was the bombing achieved? There are certainly more questions than answers as the shady side of quiet Paradise comes to light.
The plot elements are well done, and I enjoyed reading Thanksgiving in Paradise. I had two issues which I was willing to overlook as I do enjoy the series. One problem arises from the ease with which Deputy Roy shares information with Tj and Kyle, who then share it with family and friends. I had to keep reminding myself that they are close friends, it is a small town, and the deputies are shorthanded. Although skeptical, I must admit that the team effort pays off. Another minor irritation is the number of times author Kathi Daley tells the reader that Tj pauses giving herself or the person she is talking to time to gather their thoughts. Otherwise, Thanksgiving in Paradise is a fun read with a complicated plot and a successful resolution.
I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: Could be read as a standalone, but be advised that it is #10 in the Tj Jensen Mystery Series.
Publication: October 8, 2019—Henery Press
I’m the worst person ever,” I said to Jenna two hours later after we settled in at her kitchen table with cups of coffee. “The worst person ever? Wow, that’s quite a claim. I imagine you have some sort of evidence to back up such a grandiose statement?”
I knew that I was doing what I have a tendency to do, which was to make things a lot more complicated than they needed to be.
It’s rare for the entire staff of a high school to be a fan of the principal, but in Greg’s case I can’t think of a single staff member who doesn’t admire and truly like him.
The Gun Also Rises–books galore!
The Gun Also Rises
by Sherry Harris
Another fun cozy mystery is now available in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery Series. I always like Sherry Harris’ books better than I like garage sales, which are just a vehicle for her delivery of a great story. The Gun Also Rises will particularly appeal to book lovers. Sarah Winston’s presence is requested by wealthy Mrs. Belle Winthrop Granville, III who asks her prepare a huge collection of mystery paperbacks for sale with the proceeds to benefit the local library. In the same house is a huge collection of old and rare books.
Sarah discovers a suitcase containing what appears to be manuscripts by Hemingway, and she finds herself thrust into a real mystery with murderers, thieves, impostors, literary treasure hunters, mobsters, law enforcement, and reporters. There are a dizzying number of possibilities and suspects that Sarah must negotiate to try to keep herself alive. As she tries to find the missing manuscript, she must also dodge reporters and the bad guys, but first she has to figure out just who they are. She also needs to coordinate a fund-raiser on the town common to raise money to bring back from Afghanistan the street dog adopted by Eric, a sergeant injured by a suicide bomber and now suffering from PTSD. In addition, she needs to complete her work for Miss Belle.
Despite many personal interruptions in my reading of this book, I enjoyed it very much. There are some relationship issues surrounding Sarah with her brother Luke and her D.A. friend Seth, but the mystery is certainly the focus. The story takes you down many pathways with various suspects and motives. The question of whodunit was complex, intriguing, and surprising. This is a great read for cozy mystery lovers.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: #6 in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery Series, but works as a standalone.
Publication: January 29, 2019—Kensington Books
Weariness crept over me like an incoming sea fog.
Part of the problem with our relationship had been blurred lines. Even though we’d divorced, the lines between our old life and our new one kept blurring, like watercolors that spread across thick paper.
The war was behind them, the stock market crash ahead, and the next world war off in an unsuspecting future. No wonder the twenties were roaring for the rich.
Upstaged by Murder–mystery play with deadly consequences
Upstaged by Murder
by C.S. Challinor
Upstaged by Murder turned out to be more interesting and complex than I had imagined. I was treated to a theatre setting embedded in an English setting. The main character is a Scottish barrister with quite a reputation as a private detective. Full of Britishisms such as “gone for a burton” and “you finally twigged,” the production’s actors have diverse backgrounds as the cozy mystery’s focus is on a community theatre play. Thus they have their own natural personas in addition to the roles they play on stage where fictional detectives are assembled to solve a fictional crime.
Rex Graves is attending the play Peril at Pinegrove Hall written by his new wife’s friend when Cassie, the actress with the lead in the play, is killed. Rex is invited to assist the investigation in an informal capacity, and the reader gets to watch his efforts to discover not only who committed the crime and why, but also how it could possibly have been done.
I stayed engaged in the story as I followed Rex through his investigative efforts, interviewing the cast and crew and assembling a worthy timeline that eventually, along with other clues, leads him to discover the identity of the murderer. Join Rex as he pursues his passion and talent in detecting in C.S. Challinor’s latest mystery.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Midnight Ink for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery
Notes: #10 in the Rex Graves Mystery Series, but I enjoyed it as a standalone.
Publication: July 8, 2018—Midnight Ink
A decorative wind chime on the door tinkled as he entered the shop, and he was immediately assailed by the heady scent of cut flowers, which abounded everywhere in an explosion of colour, tinted rows of almost every variety arranged in transparent plastic buckets.
Often a coincidence spelt a clue.
…that was the nature of investigations; they rarely took the course of a straight line.
Admission of Guilt–a teacher tries to make things better for his students, but…
Admission of Guilt
by T. V. LoCicero
Admission of Guilt by T.V. LoCicero is a page turning thriller set in a rapidly declining Detroit. There is no easing into this story. The author immediately sets up his reader with sympathetic characters and then hits those characters and the reader with the reality of inner city life–poverty, children selling drugs, devastating budget cuts to education, gang warfare, and mafia control of the drug trade. Characters include an out of work teacher, a social worker, a P.I. and members of the country club set.
The characters find themselves making life and death decisions with moral, economic, and personal ramifications, and the reader is confronted with the age-old question of “does the end justify the means?” I guarantee lots of twists and turns to the plot that you just won’t expect and a book you won’t want to put down.
Admission of Guilt is Book 2 in The detroit I’m dying Trilogy but can be read as a standalone.
I would like to extend my thanks to the author, T. V. LoCicero, for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Mystery & Thriller
Notes: Warning–the language is not anywhere close to squeaky clean; it is appropriate for the characters in their culture and to change it would produce a dissonance between the characters and their reality.
Spring leaves, already withering, scratched and whispered in the few Dutch Elms still standing on this dark, working-class street. Birds chirped and chattered on the pre-dawn breeze, and a worn-out Plymouth whined slowly to a stop in front of one of these decrepit wood-framed flats. A smallish figure slipped out, ran to a big front porch, then darted back to the street.
The Candidate–Echoes of today’s political climate and THEN…
by Lis Wiehl
I read The Candidate with about twenty days left until the U.S. presidential election of 2016. As I began the book, there were certainly echoes of today’s political climate and I feared for a lack of originality. I am pleased to say that the storyline quickly deviated into a very riveting, original plot while maintaining a theme of potential world domination that reflects the very real fears that many harbor today.
The main character is a top journalist with her own show, The Erica Sparks Effect. The author of The Candidate, Lis Wiehl, is a lawyer as well as a legal analyst appearing on many TV shows as a commentator. She brings authenticity to her novel. I admit going into the book with a bias against the media; there seems to be little integrity in the field today, little honest reporting. Those hired as “reporters” seem determined to opine outside the confines of an editorial piece. The fictional Erica Sparks, however, is different and refreshing. She sees her job as reporting the news, not making it or persuading others to view events through her political lens.
When some oddities appear in one presidential candidate’s campaign, she risks her life to discover the truth that could affect the nation and the world. Even as she is immersed in these events, the private side of Erica Sparks is revealed as we see her struggle with balancing the work she thrives on with her desires to be a great mom to the daughter she adores. She also has to work through feelings for Greg with whom she is trying to maintain a long distance relationship.
I recommend The Candidate. It has lots of twists and turns in the plot, a likable and well-developed main character, suspense, and political intrigue.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Thomas Nelson for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Detective Gordon, The First Case
Move over Holmes and Watson! Move over Poirot and Hastings! Another Detective duo is in town: Detective Gordon, the aging police chief toad, and his sidekick Buffy, a very young, energetic mouse. Use Ulf Nilsson’s book, Detective Gordon, The First Case, with readers who are ready for chapter books or to introduce mysteries as a read aloud. The story is a kinder, gentler type of mystery with easily understood messages. It also contains some word fun that students will enjoy exploring and repeating. For those who love drama, the characters are unique and lend themselves to creative expression. The illustrations are sweet, appealing, and as soft as the snow covered landscape of the book’s origins in Sweden.