A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to author Roby Sweet. Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Miss Cuddlywumps Converses: With Cat Cozy Author Mollie Hunt

Photo of author Mollie Hunt
Mollie Hunt is an author of cat cozy mysteries,
a volunteer with the Oregon Humane Society,
and more.
All photos courtesy of Mollie Hunt.
Welcome to this latest edition of Miss Cuddlywumps Converses. Please join me in welcoming author Mollie Hunt to the blog. Mollie is here to tell us all about her cozy mystery series, which of course features cats (because they all should, right?). Let’s get right into our conversation.

Mollie, we’re so glad you could join us today. Could you start out by telling us a little bit about yourself and how you got into writing cozy mysteries?

Mollie: Hello, Miss C. I’m excited to be here. As you know, I’m the author of the Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery series. I am a native Oregonian and live in Portland with my husband and a varying number of cats.

Though I read many types of fiction and nonfiction, I’ve always enjoyed cozy mysteries, beginning with Mary Stewart, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy L. Sayers. When I discovered there was such a thing as the sub-genre cat mysteries (Lilian Jackson Braun, Shirley Rousseau Murphy, Miranda James), I was happier than a cat in catnip. I’ve written in several genres, but cozies are my favorite (along with cat science-fantasy, but that’s another story). Everybody needs a happy ending once in a while.

Yes, happy endings are so refreshing, aren’t they? Please introduce us to the Crazy Cat Lady mystery series. Is the cat lady in the series really crazy?

As my hero Lynley Cannon will be the first to tell you, she isn’t crazy, yet. Sixty-something Lynley enjoys a quiet life of retirement. She is a dedicated cat shelter volunteer, a doting grandmother, and an active senior. She never looks for trouble, but it seems to find her anyway. Whether it’s a diamond heist that lands in her lap thanks to a curious cat (Cats’ Eyes), a cat counterfeiting ring that infiltrates her shelter, Friends of Felines (Copy Cats), or a crazy string of murders beginning in the tranquil setting of a famous animal shelter and ending up on her own doorstep (Cat’s Paw), Lynley’s cat-like curiosity gets the best of her every time.

Lynley isn’t in it alone though; family and friends (including a mystery-solving, 80-something mother, a sweet but way-smart granddaughter, a hunky animal cop who knows the ropes, a cat-savvy shelter buddy, and a lesbian lawyer to get her out of fixes) have Lynley’s back.

Covers of Cats' Eyes and Copy Cats books, by Mollie Hunt
The first two books in the Crazy Cat Lady series,
Cats' Eyes and Copy Cats.
Wow, that sounds like quite a cast! The latest title is Cat’s Paw. How does this book continue the series?

Cat’s Paw (launched November 10) carries on where Copy Cats leaves off: After a brush with death at the hands of a serial killer who murders with a lethal cat-like claw (Copy Cats), Lynley is ready to relax. She attends an elite art retreat at the world-famous Cloverleaf Animal Sanctuary in the San Juan Islands, but the tranquility is sundered by a shocking double homicide. Lynley is briefly accused, and once released, she can’t get home to Portland  fast enough, but the murders aren’t over yet. Suspicion falls on a dear friend, and Lynley must fight through fear, assault, and her own anxiety disorder to keep from becoming the next victim.

Can you tell us about the cat or cats in these stories? Are they talking cats or “normal” cats, and what role do they play in the plots?

Though no one loves a talking cat more than I do, the cats in this series are normal cats. That said, I believe cats are truly gifted with a full array of superior senses, and if sometimes those senses help solve a crime, why not?

Cover of Cat's Paw, by Mollie Hunt
Cat's Paw is the newest book in the Crazy Cat Lady series.
In the center right, author Mollie Hunt poses with Tinkerbelle the cat.
Cats are superior in many ways, aren't we? Are any cats in your stories based on real-life felines, or are they all totally fictional?

Several of her cats—and Lynley has many: 8 at the moment!—are or have been my own wonderful kitties; others are cats I’ve fostered for the Oregon Humane Society where I volunteer; and still others are made up though based on someone I’ve known personally.

Are you working on any new writing projects you’d like to tell us about?

Yes! I’ve just finished the initial draft of the next book in the CCL series, Cat Call, where Lynley takes over as cat wrangler for a television show after a friend is injured by a mysterious “hex” that is sabotaging the set. (I’m applying my own experience as an assistant cat handler for the cult classic Zombie Cats from Mars.) The fifth in the series, Cat Café, which revolves around a mystifying murder in a cat lounge, is in the planning stages right now. I previously mentioned cat science-fantasy: I have been working on a tetralogy involving sentient cats saving the world from various unthinkable fates. Divergent from the cozies, these are works of pure imagination and very close to my heart. I hope to publish them someday.
Author Mollie Hunt with four cats.
Mollie Hunt relaxes with four cats, all of whom show up in
her stories. The cats are (from left to right)
Tinkerbelle, Dirty Harry,  Little, and Big Red.

We hope you do publish them, because we’d love to read them—they sound like such fun, and we think more cats should get involved in science and fantasy. Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share with us?

Thank you. I would like to note that though my books are full of kitty-fun for the reader, I try to inject a bit of realism as well. Since Lynley is a shelter volunteer, she is in the perfect position to explore such subjects as the plight of homeless pets; the crisis and control of animal abuse and neglect; and other issues relating to animal advocacy. At the beginning of each chapter, I include an interesting cat fact or tip, such as “If you think you smell cat pee, you probably do.”

I’d also like to spotlight my fabulous cover art, done by cat artist Leslie Cobb. Check out her website at Cat Art by Leslie Cobb.

Yes, we will be sure to check out Leslie’s site, and we hope our readers will too. Thank you for being here today, Mollie. We’ve had such fun conversing with you and learning about your books!

Thank you so much, Miss. C, for having me. I’ve enjoyed our conversation immensely.
Adopt – Volunteer – Love!
Mollie Hunt

Connect with Mollie Hunt

You can find Mollie Hunt’s books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and if you’re in Portland, at Another Read Through Bookstore.

Visit Mollie online:

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday Selfie: Layla

For this week's Sunday Selfie, Layla the Resident Dog wanted to get in the picture, so she snapped this selfie while she was sitting on old SoLT's lap. In case you can't tell, Layla is not a lap dog--at least not in size. We told her that just this once she can be in the cat blog, because you would not believe how this dog can whine when she thinks she's being left out.

We enter this selfie in the Sunday Selfies blog hop hosted by our friends at The Cat on My Head, and we send them lots of purrs and prayers and barks of love. Our hearts are with you.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Caturday Art: Wintry Paisley

This week for Athena's Caturday Art blog hop, old SoLT decided to try something wintry. Okay, in reality she had no plan at all; instead she sat at the computer wondering what she could do, and she basically lucked in to this effect by trying a lot of different things in PicMonkey.

She started with a photo of Real Cat Paisley that is out of focus and not something she would normally put on the blog. She cropped the original image in PicMonkey and then bumped the sharpness and clarity way up. Then she applied a Sketch effect, after which she went to Colors and played with the saturation and temperature until she had a greenish-bluish color that she liked. A Frost filter added the cooling effect around the edges, and a photo corner frame finished it off.

Here's the orginal:

Friday, December 2, 2016

Words with Webster and Friendly Fill-Ins for December 2

Words with Webster badge

Words with Webster: Tongue Spine

Welcome to this edition of Words with Webster, where today’s word is “tongue spine.” (Yes, I know that's technically two words. Just go with it.) We are learning about tongue spines today because last week the Caternet was all abuzz over the news that some scientists had discovered how we cats get ourselves clean with our tongues. (Spoiler alert: We lick our fur. Duh!)
Close-up photo of a white cat licking its paw
Check out those tongue spines! They're helping this cat
clean herself, and they might lead to better design for
human products like hairbrushes.
Stock photo by Pavla Kulhava, via Adobe Stock.
If you’ve ever been licked by a cat, it will come as no surprise to you that we cats have spines on our tongues. But nobody (except us, of course) really knew how the spines worked. It took a mechanical engineer seeing a poor cat get his tongue stuck on a blanket (note to self: do not lick blankets!) to figure it all out. Then came the high-speed cameras and the giant 3-D cat tongue model. (Scientists are basically weird people.) Turns out cats’ tongue spines are like little hooks that can rotate. So if a cat runs into a tangle while she’s licking herself, the spines basically latch into it and help her tease it apart.

This new knowledge of cats’ tongue spines could help with human grooming, by eventually leading to a better hairbrush. That is all in the future, but still, next time you brush your hair, think, “Tongue spine!”

You can learn more about this story on LiveScience.

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-Ins badge

And now to Friendly Fill-Ins, from 15andmeowing and McGuffy’s Reader. They are a fun way to learn a little bit about the authors of the blogs you read. The first two questions  are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader. Old SoLT answered all the questions this week because Real Cat Webster is walking around just saying “tongue spine” over and over, and Real Cat Paisley is asleep.

1. I have a hard time finding a gift for our dog, Layla, because doesn’t like toys. This will be her first Christmas with us, and we’re really not sure what to get her. Ideas are welcome!

2. I have no problem finding a gift for my mother, I guess because I’ve known her for almost 50 years, so I’ve pretty much figured out what she likes.

3. One of the best gifts I ever gave was a lantern I had that I gave to a friend as a housewarming gift when she bought her house. She’d admired it in my apartment once, and so it seemed like the perfect gift. I really liked that lantern, so it was kind of hard to part with it though!

4. One of the best gifts I ever received was a Kitchen-Aid food processor. I’ve had it almost a year now, and I still get excited whenever I get to use it, because it’s just so much fun. There are always giggling and sound effects involved. WHOOSH!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Book Review: Catology

Today we bring you a brief review of the book Catology, by Adrian Searle and Oliver Ninnis. This is a collection of single-pane cartoons featuring…cats (obviously).  But it is not the sweet, cute sort of cat book you might expect. Nor is it entirely from the “cats are jerks” perspective. It’s more from the “cats are jerks, but that’s why we love them” perspective. We don’t agree with that perspective, and honestly we found several pages in this book a little too snarky for our taste, but still we found some things to chuckle at.

For example, the cat who thinks he has insomnia because he only slept for 14 hours. The cat who spends too much time “on the computer” (literally). The cat who’s offended because her person won’t even taste the “present” she’s brought. But then there are the ones about the cat who wants to eat his person’s face (literally) and the one who wants to shred her person’s feet (literally again, although I will tell you that old SoLT can relate to this one, because Real Cat Paisley has a certain special way of getting her attention when she is relaxing in the recliner with her feet sticking ever so slightly over the edge of the footrest).

Let’s just say we have mixed feelings about Catology, and those feelings all come down to how we feel about cats. Some of these cartoons are spot-on; some of them were too over the edge for our taste. So, if you’re solidly in the “cats are the cutest things ever” camp, you may want to steer clear of this collection. But if you like your cat humor a little edgier and you’re not easily offended, take a look at it—we think you’ll find some laughs!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cat of the Week: Muggy in Baltimore

Each week in this space, we feature a senior cat in need of adoption or sponsorship. Please remember all the older cats in shelters. They make great companions, and unlike kittens, they (probably) won’t climb the curtains! Adopt a senior cat, and help him or her enjoy the best years of their life.

Photo courtesy of Baltimore Humane Society.
Frame stock image from Adobe Stock. Ornaments stock image from GraphicStock.
Please meet Muggy, a 9-year-old male who has such a handsome orange and white tabby coat. But this cat has got a lot more going for him than just good looks. We understand he’s also got brains, and he can hold his own in a conversation. Plus, he’s quite playful and enjoys string toys and the little red dot. This guy enjoys human company, but he’s not a lap-cat kind of guy. If you’re looking for a cat you can play with and have an intelligent conversation with, Muggy might just be your guy.

Muggy is currently in Baltimore Humane’s cat room. Learn more about him here.

Can’t adopt? You can still help! Check out Sammy’s Cat Necessities Fund, which provides money for everyday and medical needs of cats at the Baltimore Humane Society. You can also make a general donation or sponsor a particular animal on this page. Every little bit helps!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review: Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat

Book cover, Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat
I cannot begin to tell you how excited we are to tell you about this new book by L. A. Vocelle of The Great Cat. We have been longing for a book just exactly like Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, but nothing we’ve seen quite fits the bill. In fact, we were starting to think that we would have to spend years researching and writing to create a book just like this, but fortunately, Vocelle has done the hard work, and now we can all benefit from it.

Cats, from prehistory to the present

Revered and Reviled starts way back in time, with the ancestors of the first true cats. But don’t worry—you won’t have to read page after page of things that happened millions of years ago. The rise of the cat family is dealt with in just a couple of pages, and then it’s straight in to domestic cats, their characteristics and history. The chapter on cats in ancient Egypt is one of the best summations we have read on this subject—detailed but succinct, and we think most importantly, easily understandable. Egyptian culture is…well, let’s just call it complex. It’s easy to get confused about which god or goddess did what where when, but Vocelle manages to keep it straight for us.

Next, it’s on to one of old SoLT’s favorite topics, the early Aegean and Mediterranean. Most importantly from our point of view, we have been trying for months to find information on cats and the Phoenicians, and Vocelle delivers some—not a lot, but we suppose that is an indication of how little information there is. From there the book moves on to cats in Greece and Rome, and then into the Dark Ages and beyond. Along the way, the text describes how cats were depicted in works of art, and we learn how changes in religion affected how cats were viewed. We especially enjoyed the section on cats in Islam, a subject we knew very little about. Other interesting and informative sections cover cats in India, China, and Japan.

I won’t touch on every subject or time period Vocelle covers, so let’s skip a few centuries and move on to the 20th century. Did you know that someone attempted to take a cat on an airship crossing of the Atlantic in 1910? (The word “attempted” is a key part of that sentence.) Or that a street cat became the first cat sent into space in 1963? Just some of the little tidbits you’ll take away.

Cat illustrations and so much more

If you’re familiar at all with The Great Cat, you won’t be surprised to learn that Revered and Reviled is richly illustrated. Cats have appeared in art from ancient times through to the Internet age, and through this book, you’ll learn at least a little bit about each period. Yes, you’ll even learn about cats in movies, music, literature…

The illustrations and quotes are terrific, but there is far more of value in this book. I am talking here of the supplemental information: a timeline covering cats in history from 20 million years ago to the opening of the first cat café (in 1998), a list of Theban tombs with cats (so useful!), a list of cat cemeteries in Egpyt, and a reference list (again, so useful!).

Our verdict

Except for some small subset of you, Revered and Reviled is probably not a book that you will sit down and read from cover to cover. Yes, it’s well written, and yes, it’s fascinating, but there’s a lot here to digest. Unless you’re a serious history buff, it can look overwhelming. I’d recommend that you start by dipping in and taking a look at the chapters or sections that most interest you. Do that, and I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be turning the page to find out “What about this…?” and you’ll be staying up way past your bedtime (at least that is what happened to us).

As I said at the start, this is exactly the book we have been dreaming of. It will have a treasured space on our cat-history bookshelf for years to come, and you can bet that it will be well used.

Highly recommended!

A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good read; two paws is for a great read. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!

We received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. We wouldn’t tell you it was good unless we really liked it!

The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the book through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account. Thank you!