Hello! Merry Christmas! I'm so happy to have been invited to Book Readers Heaven today. You might not know it, but I'm in a book series and help to solve crimes! This is our first time here, but I've been listening and watching what happens and I just saw all of books marked "want to read" at GoodReads, of the Whales and Tails series! Have you read any of these books? I'm going to tell you about...The Cat of Christmas Past!
First a little mood music...
Holiday music blared through overhead speakers as I, Caitlin Hart, worked with the group of kids from St. Patrick’s Catholic Church to decorate the choir room with red and green accents for the upcoming holiday. The children had all agreed to show up early for the regularly scheduled rehearsal for Away in a Manger, the Christmas play I had written with my totally wonderful boyfriend, Cody West, for the annual church pageant.
“We need more glue,” Trinity Paulson informed me as I hung colorful wreaths on the wall.
“I gave Serenity a whole bottle.”
“I know, but it’s gone. It had a drippy top and a lot of it got on the table.”
“Why don’t you and your sister start on the windows?” I instructed the eight-year-old. “And be careful with the paint. We don’t want to get any on the floor.”
“Okay.” I stood back and admired our handiwork after Trinity walked away. The room really was beginning to look festive, and in spite of the glue on the table, the red and green construction paper chain the Paulson girls had been working on really did look nice draped around the piano. I was proud of the girls I was beginning to think of as honorary little sisters. Although I’d known the girls their whole lives, I’d recently gotten to know them a lot more intimately, now that their seventeen-year-old sister, Destiny, was working at Coffee Cat Books, the coffee bar/ bookstore/ cat lounge I owned with my best friend, Tara O’Brian.
“The ornaments aren’t balls. They’re to go on the tree,” I scolded the group of boys who were tossing the small glass balls between themselves.
Whoever had said the more hands at work the quicker the task had never worked with twenty-three kids aged six to fourteen...
I'm a regular member of the Cat Lounge that is part of a complex with a bookstore and coffee bar. Now I'm a people cat so I enjoy being in the lounge where people will come in to read or maybe just sit and talk to one of us while they're drinking their coffee selections... Really don't mind saying that I love to be petted, cooed over and talked to...I use my eyes to talk back and show them I'm listening. Sometimes they'll give me a bit of a cookie or sweet roll, which I love!
Anyway, Caitlin Hart is the one who takes care of our living quarters. She is very protective of all of us and if somebody wants to become our parents, they go through a screening process! Cool, right!? She also rotates us into the lounge because not all of my friends enjoy people as much as I do... Like Sally, over there in the corner. She just wants to be left alone... so when she's here, I try to grab attention so she won't be disturbed...I kinda like her...isn't she soooo beautiful?!
Caitlin was at choir practice when she heard the news that everybody who was living in Bayview Apartments was going to have to move at the end of the month... Caitlin is a very caring person and immediately started thinking about the twelve families that this decision would displace... Caitlin was also one of those individuals who are known as amateur detectives--they are good at finding out the answers to questions or problems or even solving mysteries...
Does anyone know why Christy isn’t here?” I asked the room at large.
Her mom got a letter,” Holly Carter answered.
“My mom got one too.”
“A letter?” I asked.
“Everyone living in the Bayview Apartments needs to move before the end of the month,” Matthew Wildwood informed me.
“The old guy who owns the building is kicking everyone out,” Matthew, who was the oldest choir member at fourteen, answered.
“Kicking everyone out? Why on earth would he do that?”
Matthew shrugged. “I’m not sure, but my grandma called my mom and told her that she was goingo be homeless...
I realized Holly must be talking about Balthazar Pottage, an old recluse who lived on a private island he never left, despite the fact that he owned quite a lot of land in the area. Balthazar was as mean and miserly as he was miserable. I didn’t know the entire story, but I did seem to remember that he’d suffered a great tragedy in his past that turned him into the monster most considered him to be.
“My mom said we might have to move off the island if we can’t find another affordable place to live,” Holly added. “I don’t want to move. I like it here. All my friends are here.”
The Bayview Apartments were one of the few affordable rental properties on the island. Most of the families who lived in the rundown units were single-income families who had little choice but to deal with leaky faucets and drafty walls that did little to keep out the winter chill. Most considered Pottage to be a slum lord, but few had the means to fight the man who was as wealthy as he was mean.
Cody, Caitlin's boyfriend, had made it to practice and they were soon discussing the problem because of Caitlin's concern. And that's when Ebenezer (as later found on his cat tags) sat at a window, almost commanding to be let in... I knew he was a stranger but I played it cool and just watched to see that he didn't cause any trouble... And soon he was indeed inside! And Caitlin knew everything was going to be alright! How? Because Ebenezer belonged to the owner of Bayview Apartments. She was positive that "the cat whisperer" (my name), her friend had sent him to help... So the very next morning, she and Ebenezer set off for the island where he lived. Even Caitlin knew that others would be upset for her going on her own, but Ebenezer definitely showed that he knew what had to be done and was leading her all the way until he was at at the door of what she assumed was the home of Mr. Pottage... Ebenezer went strolling in and made himself at home while Mr. Pottage said, "Damn cat," and turned and went into the house leaving the door open... So, Caitlin strolled in behind them... and before she left, she'd made a deal... If she did what Mr. Pottage asked her to do, then he would stop the proposed sale of the apartment complex!
Well, I was a little disgruntled until I was asked to tell our story here at Book Readers Heaven. After all, it turned out that Ebenezer was really the star of the story and got to work with Caitlin until the mystery was solved... So I wound up just having a bit part of being in the Cat Lounge to keep track of what was going on. Still, that's a pretty important part, right? After all, somebody had to share the story with all of you readers! Oh, and by the way, I was told to tell you that this series has been especially fun because of the merge of the Cat Lounge with a Bookstore and goodies for everyone... and that you really should check it out before you leave the bookstore next time you go! In the meantime, it's a party because nobody has to leave their homes!
Author of the Zoe Donovan cozy Mystery Series, Tj Jensen Paradise Lake Mystery series, Whales and Tails Cozy Mystery Series, and Cutter's Cove Teen Cozy Mystery Series.
Come for the murder, stay for the romance.
Kathi lives in the beautiful alpine community of Lake Tahoe with her husband Ken and dog Echo. When she's not writing she enjoys hanging out on the beach with her children and grandchildren. During the summer she enjoys hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, wakeboarding, and sunset cruises on the lake. During the winter she enjoys cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and curling up by a fire with a good book.
Kathi uses her mountain home as inspiration for her books, all which include appearances by the wildlife she shares her life with.
When a top favorite author's name appears, even on an anthology, many people will buy it just for Robb's story. I did, and from the reviews on Amazon there are mixed feelings about the other stories, so I decided not to review it officially, but just tell you about Missing in Death, which turned out to be one of my favorites of what Robb has written. You can decide whether you want the book for, perhaps, one story... J.D. Robb is the pseudonym for a number-one New York Times-bestselling author of more than 170 novels, including the futuristic suspense In Death series. There are more than 300 million copies of her books in print. In searching for a pic of the author, I saw two vids I really liked: I hope you do too. The couple in the first one seem perfect for Eve and her husband, Roarke, and the futuristic scenes in the second I thought set the stage nicely...
Missing in Death
By J. D. Robb
Racing across New York Harbor in a turbo wasn't how Lieutenant Eve Dallas expected to spend her afternoon. She played second lead that morning to her partner's primary role in the unfortunate demise of Vickie Trendor, the third wife of the unrepentant Alan Trendor, who'd smashed her skull with an inferior bottle of California chardonnay.
According to the new widower, it wasn't accurate to say he'd bashed her brains out when she simply hadn't had any brains to begin with...
Now, she and Peabody, her partner, were speeding across the water in a boat...toward the orange hulk of a ferry stalled halfway between Manhattan and Staten Island.
"This is absolutely mag!" Peabody stood near the bow, her square-jawed face lifted to the wind, her short, flippy hair flying.
"Jeez, Dallas!" Peabody lowered her shades down her nost exposing delighted brown eyes. "We're getting a boat ride. We're on the water. Half the time you can forget Manhattan's an island."
"That's what I like about it. Out here, it makes you wonder, how come it doesn't sing? All that weight--the buildings, the streets, the people. It should go down like a stone."
"Come on," With a laugh. Peabody pushed her shades back in place. "Statue of Liberty," she pointed out. "She's the best."
Eve wouldn't argue. She'd come close to dying inside the landmark. fighting radical terrorists bent on blowing it up. Even now, she could look at its lines, its grandeur, and see her husband, bleeding, clinging to a ledge outside the proud face...
"...Looks like DOT sent out backup," she commented, nodding toward the turbos at the base of the ferry with the Department of Transportation logo emblazoned on the hull. "I hope she didn't fall over. Or jump. But somebody would notice that, right?"
"More likely she wandered off from the passenger areas, got lost and is currently trying to wander back."
"Blood," Peabody reminded her, and Eve shrugged.
"Let's just wait and see..."
Warren opened the door. "And this is what she found inside." Eve stepped in behind Warren. She smelled the blood immediately. A homicide cop gets a nose for it. It soured the the citrus/sterilized odor of the air in the black-and-white room with its steel sinks, and around the dividing wall, the white-doored stalls. It washed over the floor, a spreading dark pool that snaked in trails across the white, slasked over the stall doors, the opposing wall, like abstract graffiti. "If's that's Grogan's." Eve said. "you're not looking for a missing passenger. You're looking for a dead one." !!!
Actually, there was more than one woman missing... So was a dead body...
The woman missing had been with her family when her son announced he needed to go to the bathroom. Carolee Grogan had escorted him to the men's restroom then decided she probably should visit one as well. Only thing is that there was an "Out of Order" sign on the door. Afraid to go too far from where her son was, she was hoping the entire restroom was not out of order so she decided to sneek in... But she never came out...
When her husband later asked another woman to go in and check on her, she screamed!
One of the reasons I enjoy Robb's stories is because they are set in the future where gadgets are very sophisticated. This time a stunner had been used. Roarke was explaining what he'd discovered through his computer research and Eve had noted that she, too, had a stunner.
"Not your conventional stunner, but one that renders the target incapacitated through an optical signal rather than the nervous system. It sends a signa, through light, that shuts down certain basic functions. Essentially, in a theory not that far from your mass hyponosis, it puts the target into a kind of trance. Hocus Pocus." He lifted his wineglass in half salute. "It's often referred to as that, which made me thing of it when you used the term..."
"We're talking dozens of people," Eve argued. "Potentially hundreds."
"And the idea this device exists, and has a possibility for that sort of range, is...fascinating. And used as a weapon? Devastating."
Eve pushed up from the table to pace. "I hate this kind of shit. Why can't it just be regular bad guy crap? You've got money, I want it. I kill you. You've been screwing my wife, it pisses me off, I cut out your heart. No, I've got to worry about disappearing bodies and weapons designed to turn the lights out on masses of people. Crap..."
The other part I am intrigued with is the backgrounds of both Eve and Roarke in their youth. This time there was a reference to Eve and Roarke's own personal mission to watch over the events of that time and ensure nothing ever happened to Eve again. From a reader's standpoint, we have realized that Eve Dallas never would have been the woman she became without her early life. Still, it never stops me from feeling bad, knowing what had happened to her...
That wasn't his problem, but Eve's, he thought. His would be to track down Ivan Draski and the device. She'd keep her word on the twenty-four hours, just as he had kept his in not seeking revenge on the operatives who'd been a part of allowing her to be tormened and raped as a child, who'd allowed that child to wander the streets, broken and dazed after she'd killed to save herself...
Eve always solves her cases! and this one is no different. But unlike most police procedurals, Eve does allow Roarke, her husband, a civilian, to help her in the background. Especially in this case, since he had met up with the victim, once discovered, and could add greatly to the background knowledge and why the murder might have occurred.
Roarke, by the way, for those who have never read J.D. Robb, is a past criminal and now a fabulously wealthy businessman who owns businesses both on and off planet. He is a master hacker and has advanced computers that are well beyond the capability of those used by Eve's staff... Her staff is also a great group of characters, with her partner hooked up with the chief computer guru and a full range of others inside and outside of the police community that continue to be featured in personal situations while the murder investigations go on. I've read the entire series and have yet to not be able to love each and every story, never tiring from reading another.
Do check out J. D. Robb... Hey, even if you're reading Nora Roberts, I'll bet you might like J.D.Robb even better...LOL
In the spirit of the season, here's a photo of the one tree Nora has in her home (instead of the forest in Roarke and Eve's). Before closing up shop for the holiday and settling down to the serious business of family time, we wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! ~Nora and Laura
One morning a package was delivered to The Three Monkeys Treehouse! It was full of things they'd never seen before, but soon learned that they were to brighten up their home with a Christmas Tree! But these Three Monkeys, named, for Booey, Fooey and Hooey, lived in the jungle! Where would they find a Christmas Tree? This first story tells what they did to find a tree!
“What’s a Christmas tree?” asked Fooey.
For, you see, the three monkeys
lived way in the Jungle.
They saw a lot of trees there,
all kinds of trees.
But a Christmas tree?
They looked and looked, finding a Banana Tree, and other trees that grew in their jungle but they couldn't find any that seemed right...until... Christmas Treehouse
By Rob Natiuk
The ingenuity of the author in creating a series about The 3 Monkeys is simply outstanding. Although this is the first I've read, there are four other books with a general theme--this one called Christmas Treehouse. This book has 4 monkey tales: The Christmas Tree Hunt, Joyful Jungle Bells, Grandpa Monk and Sunny Paws, and Laughter the Day After.
All of the stories are created for interactive respo with a reader asking questions! One of them asks the reader to laugh like a hyena, for instance! But the part I enjoyed the most was that familiar Christmas songs have new words--suitable for the animals in the jungle! For instance, Jingle Bells becomes Monkey Bells in "Joyful Jungle Bells."
In this story, Three Monkeys also learned about the real meaning of Christmas... At first, they had heard about the Christmas tree and singing songs and how you would open presents from under the tree. Soooo, they had all gone to town to buy presents for their best friends--themselves! But before they got home, something changed. Can you guess what they did?
Monkeys all the way.
Oh, we’ll monkey all around
Like circus clowns all day.
Monkey bells— monkey bells—
Monkeys all the way.
Oh, we’ll monkey all around
Like circus clowns all day.
They also sang another song, with new words to be learned! Because Rudolph lived in the North Pole instead of the jungle... So they used the same tune they were just singing and told about monkeys!
“Dashing through the trees,
Swinging vine to vine.
Red-nosed monkeys everywhere
Are doing mighty fine
Swinging vine to vine.”
And with the Rudolph tune, they tell about Sunny Paws who, by the way, leaves a rotten banana to monkeys who have been bad...
Sunny Paws the green-eared monkey
Had two very cheery ears.
They were just like cucumbers,
Making many monkeys cheer.
I thought the way of converting things children already know into a totally different setting was very clever and not only a learning experience about those animals, because readers will be meeting many different friends of the Three Monkeys, who live in the jungle, but also such fun to have different words to sing to familiar tunes... But none more strange than Sunny Paws! And his, ah, zebras... Oh, Yeah, I figured Sunny Paws probably had elves too! Don't you think?
And then Booey, the little girl monkey started to sing a solo! And it was about Sunny Paws! Can you guess who Sunny Paws was for The Monkeys?!!
Here comes Sunny Paws!
Here comes Sunny Paws!
Right by treetops high
White stripes on black
And black stripes on white
His zebras fly on by.
Hoofs are kicking,
Oh so merry delight!
Hug your blankets and get all sleepy
‘Cause Sunny Paws comes tonight!
The book takes readers from hunting for a Christmas tree all through the holiday right up to New Year's Day and when Resolutions were Made! What resolutions will you make?
If you're looking for a Christmas book that is totally different from others, do check this one out... I loved the new songs especially, but children will also be learning about Christmas and how different other people may celebrate a similar holiday. Highly recommended!
Welcome to Rob Natiuk's Ramblings!
I've learned a few things in my 70-plus years. And I'm still being bonked on the head with new experiences.
They say you don't really learn anything wise until you teach it to someone else. I've been a teacher...and a farmer...a stenographer...a restaurant dishwasher...a writer in many fields...but I've never been retired! That, of course, is entirely my fault and not Mr. Obama's!
I have a most lovely and loving wife, Martha. Three grown children. Five grandchildren. A cat. They all give me moments of humor and wisdom.
So I'll ramble about those experiences too.
My site and blog are about--just about everything that touches me personally. And about other folks who also experience the wonder and ups and downs of life.
Thanks for once in a while spending a few minutes with me.
I am a novelist and playwright. I am also a journalist with over 1,000 published articles, reviews, essays, op-eds, and other non fiction published in the last 40 years. I have a background in Military Intelligence and write fiction and drama about people in military, intelligence and similar occupations. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I am a member of the Military Writers Society of America, the Association for Intelligence Officers, The Historical Novel Society and the Military Writers Society of America. I have attended more than 100 science fiction conventions and am often a panelist. I am the co-owner of Brass Cannon Books and a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop (Fiction).
I contribute a lot to other people's blogs. I served in the US Army Security Agency for four years, in Vietnam and then Germany. I spent 21 years in the Security industry which provides some of the background for MELTDOWN. My produced stage plays are MARLOWE: An Elizabethan Tragedy and Memorial Day. My novel "The Shenandoah Spy" has received over a dozen favorable reviews. My latest novels are "The Queen of Washington" and "MELTDOWN". We have begun creating audiobooks through ACX.com which will be available on Amazon.com, iTunes and Audible.com. The first four short ones are available now. A film version of my play about Christopher Marlowe is in pre-production and a "The Shenandoah Spy" is slated to become either a major motion picture or television mini-series in 2014 or 2015.
A Very Special Girl - Deborah stayed the night since her dorm had a curfew hour we'd gone past, and there we were the next morning, alone in the room now, looking at each other in dazed wonder. What was this? More than just a roll in the hay, that was for sure. We have amazed each other.
It was spectacular sex, but there was more. We had been in each other's arms all night, and lazily made love again. She was able to scream a bit this time and that made her happy. I suggested breakfast. She looked at her watch and said, "I have a class." She suddenly seemed unhappy to be there, as if it were all a mistake.
She went into the bathroom and pulled herself together. I got dressed, too. She came out, smiling tentatively and said, "I will date you. But there are conditions."
"Okay. Such as?"
"I am not your girl or your honey or any of that nonsense. There will be no P.D.A. Public displays of affection. You will treat me like a lady and not do guy things to me. No pats on the ass. Not even a kiss on the cheek."
I was bemused. "Okay. I'll try to remember all that."
"If you don't, it's over."
A Perfect Spy:
By Francis Hamit
So why did I flip-flop the author info this time? Welllll, it was just to show Francis Hamit's picture first and draw attention to his "Ornery little grin" which, I must say, reflects perfectly what he must have been thinking as he wrote this short which will become part of his full memoir sometime in the future.
Hamit claims this book is about when he proved to be the perfect spy in his college town...but then in his Introduction discloses that there is a lot of sexual content and warns potential readers... Actually, there is a lot of sex, but it is not explicit nor pornographic--Hamit is openly sharing what was going on in his life at the age of 20...
I have to say that it was quite, quite different from my life at 20! LOL So I found it fun to read since we are close enough in age that much of the setting he used was familiar to my early years as well...By 18, however, I was already working on a university campus while Hamit was attending college... And at one point squired 3 girls around campus, with everybody assuming he was bedding all of them...
Interesting comparison, I must say, at least from my perspective... Memories are not always golden. Some are tinged with brownish edges as if they had been left in the sun too long. So it is here. As Bob Dylan said, "To live outside the Law, you must be honest," I am often accused of being too much so. This is the story of how I became a spy. Not a choice I made lightly and not one I regret. It was one of the several things that happened to me in Iowa City that changed my life...
I've enjoyed two of Hamit's historical novels: The Shenandoah Spyand The Queen of Washington, as well as Meltdown, about an attack by domestic militia terrorists on a nuclear power plant in the USA. The historical novels featured two female women war heroes that you may never have heard of--you should since not many are written about... But none of these compare with Hamit's personal life! LOL This portion of what will be his later memoir is just 119 pages. If you have not read his work yet, this is an excellent way to become acquainted with his writing and at the same time, read his personal "coming-of-age" which turned out to be quite a fun story. Francis Hamit was the son of a career military man and planned to later join him, after finishing college--his father's dream for him since he had never been able to attend. Because of his SAT scores, however, he wound up at a small Bible College and left as quickly as he could escape, moving on to the University of Iowa. He majored in Drama, was assumed to be a homosexual and got the bullying that went along with that assumption. He was able to build sufficient creds to move forward in Theatre and began freelance photography...Somehow all that he was involved in provided a great place to meet girls...
That was the 60s--when freedom was the goal--Vietnam, Civil Rights and, sexual experimentation...and drugs... That's when Francis began to see that the partying on campus was "unhealthy...." and volunteered to be an undercover spy to try and reduce the drugs coming into town... No, he was not a CI--he was totally on his own, was not paid anything, and only reported in when he had something to share. In the meantime he was out there in the midst of everything and with his beard and long hair, everybody assumed he was a hippie... So much so that he almost was killed two times and wasn't sure about the third close call on his life! One of his "jilted" (you'll have to find out why!) girlfriends had told what he was doing and the word spread fast!
One bad habit I've always had is falling in love too quickly with the wrong girl. I was far more of a romantic than those cold-eyed sorority vixens who measured every man they met for the role of husband and provider. They were after a "MRS" degree. I got crushes and often got emotionally crushed as well. So it was at The Alley Theatre and again at the Marin County Shakespeare Festival. Was I needy or horny? Probably both. I liked sex. Being young and naive I mistook it for Love... I also had a hankering to settle down and wanted a regular girlfriend again. I met girls in lasses and at parties and just hanging out. Everyone was looking for someone but I was going from a sexual desert to an embarrassment of riches and there were girls who enjoyed breaking hearts and teasing men. I learned caution... The Sexual Revolution started by Hugh Hefner, Kinsey, and Masters and Johnson was under way, and I was eager to enlist. So were many of the girls I met at Iowa, but the terms of engagement had not been set, and this confused everyone.
Sex, drugs, and rock and roll, Folk music, the staple of my high school years, was going away, and the new music more or less demanded drug use. Using drugs made you "cool" and accepted. At least that was the theory. It was a cultural revolution that would soon become political. Unlike almost everyone I knew, I just thought that drugs made people stupid and careless. I did my best to keep them off my stage, too...So, knowing the risks, I stepped ip and made a deal with the cops. Leave my friends alone, and I will give you the dealers...
And then there was playing poker with Don Justice, his teacher and involved with the Iowa Writers' Workshop, "the oldest MFA program in Creative Writing, which is notoriously difficult to get into, even 50 years later"...
And where he also came to despise the then famous author, Nelson Algren. Let's just say his remarks reflect that feeling...
Soon after that, he met Helga who was working on her MFA in Costuming and shared that she wanted to change her nature--she wanted to be "liberated..."
And then came the fateful day that Howard Stein suggested he take an upcoming course in fiction writing...which Hamit claims was a "life-changing moment..." And he's been writing novels ever since!
I found it very interesting to learn the details of how Francis Hamit started his writing career. But that is just part of this book. His taking a stand against drugs when it was "the thing" to try them, speaks to his basic character. Those same moral standards are certainly reflected in his novels...
But the one thing most clear is that Francis Hamit loves women. And his flashbacks into those early years is fun to learn about while, I must say, also reflecting his basic humanistic approach to others with whom he has related during his extensive life experiences.
Especially if you have read any of his books, I think you'll really enjoy A Perfect Spy. I don't normally read memoirs as a genre, but I found this book enlightening, reminiscent of a bygone era in which I lived, and a reflection of an author I have come to admire. Into memoirs? Highly recommended!