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. She receives creative input from the Real Cats and clerical assistance from She of Little Talent (old SoLT, a.k.a. Roby Sweet). Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to old SoLt (Ms. Sweet). Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Book Review: Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection


Mysterious Monday

On this Mysterious Monday, we bring you a review of three books in one: it’s the Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection, by Barbara Venkataraman. The collection includes the first three books in the series: Death by Digeridoo, The Case of the Killer Divorce, and Peril in the Park, all set in Hollywood, Florida, and featuring family lawyer Jamie Quinn and her favorite private investigator, Duke. And of course there is a cat, whom we’ll tell you about a little later.

Death by Digeridoo

Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection, by Barbara Venkataraman
In this installment, Jamie’s cousin, Adam, is accused of murdering a former rock star named Spike with—you guessed it—a digeridoo. Adam has Asperger’s syndrome, making the ensuing investigation a little more difficult. Jamie gets drawn into the investigation because, even though she doesn’t practice criminal law, Adam obviously needs a lawyer immediately. Fortunately Jamie has a best friend, Grace, who’s also a lawyer and gives great advice. And she knows a PI, Duke, who can help investigate. Now the question is, which of Spike’s associates would hate him enough to kill him, and how will Jamie protect Adam long enough for her to find the answers?

 The Case of the Killer Divorce

Since she practices family law, Jamie often works with clients seeking a divorce. In this installment, her client, Becca, is going through a divorce and custody battle, when her husband suddenly dies. And unfortunately for Becca, she had told her husband she’d kill him if he tried to take the kids. Also, it looks like it was her sleeping pills that did him in. Can you say, “Suspect number one”? Again, Jamie investigates, but she does have to wonder if Becca might just be guilty after all. This story also introduces Kip Simons, Jamie’s high school heartthrob, who’s back in town and is very interested in her. But will he stay interested once he finds out Jamie’s not into lots of outdoor adventures?

Peril in the Park

The third story brings Jamie’s new boyfriend, Kip, firmly into the picture. Kip’s new job puts him in charge of all the county parks—and in the middle of a lot of discord in the parks department. A lot of people are angry at him, the parks are being vandalized, and then someone calling themselves ICU sends Jamie a threatening email with pictures of her and Kip, meaning they are being followed. Kip is also acting kind of weird, so that Jamie knows he’s keeping some things from her—it’s all just “work stuff” that he can’t talk about, he says. Things ramp up when a murder occurs at a Renaissance festival … and then when Kip disappears, well, it sure looks like someone is trying to get him out of the way.

The cat

The cat in this series is a kind of cranky 12-pound gentleman named Mr. Paws. He was Jamie’s mother’s cat, and Jamie took over his care and feeding after her mother died. At first, Jamie and Mr. Paws do not like each other. So much so that Jamie temporarily changes his name to Mr. Pain in the Ass. When her mother was alive and Jamie would visit, Mr. Paws would hiss at her—and Jamie hissed back. We're happy to say that this relationship evolves through the series. In Killer Divorce, Mr. Paws starts purring and crawling into bed with Jamie. And in Peril in the Park, he becomes her dependable companion when she’s home. He’s still cranky though!

Our verdict

We liked each of these stories a lot, and we enjoyed Jamie and her friends. Duke and Grace are both fun characters, as is Jamie herself. She is so relatable, and she seems like she’d be a great person to hang out with. Our favorite of the stories was Peril in the Park, because we found it the most suspenseful of the three, but each story is a good, quick read with fun twists, humor, and mystery. One thing I did not mention yet is the ongoing story of Jamie’s attempts to locate her long-lost father. This thread was actually one of our favorite things about the series as we hoped for things to work out for Jamie to first find her father and then be reunited with him. We did wish for more cat, as Mr. Paws makes only occasional appearances and isn’t important to the plot. I do have to withhold one paw because of that (we are a cat-centric blog, after all), but we still would recommend Jamie Quinn to any reader looking for a light-reading, quick-paced cozy mystery filled with some pretty great human characters!





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!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Webster Gets Bored

This week, old SoLT was trying to help Real Cat Webster take his Sunday Selfie, but she took so long about it, he got really bored and did this:

Real Cat Webster yawns


We're joining the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head.

Sunday Selfies blog hop

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Caturday Art: Christmas Needlework Kitties

For this week's Caturday Art, old SoLT borrowed an idea from our friends at Sweet Purrfections. She took a summery photo and made it Christmasy by using the Christmas Needlework effect from LunaPic. Then she put it on a green background and added the ribbony bits in Photoshop.

The Real Cats on the cat tree, Christmas needlepoint effect

We're joining Athena's Caturday Art blog hop!

Caturday Art blog hop

Friday, December 15, 2017

Words with Webster: Fur, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two fun Friday features for you today. First up is Real Cat Webster, who has a fuzzy word to share. After that, it’s on to Friendly Fill-Ins!

Words with WebsterWords with Webster


Hi, everybody! It’s me, Real Cat Webster. Welcome to Words with Me. Today’s word is “fur.” I picked this word because it got really cold at our house this week, and boy was I glad for my fur coat! So of course, first I went to my favorite dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s, which said that fur is “the fine soft thick hairy covering or coat of a mammal usually consisting of a double coating of hair that includes a layer of comparatively short soft curly barbed hairs next to the skin protected by longer smoother stiffer hairs that grow up through these.” That sounded a little more complicated than I was expecting, but I guess fur is not as simple as I thought.

Anyway, next I went to the Oxford English Dictionary, which defined fur like this: “The short, fine, soft hair of certain animals (as the sable, ermine, beaver, otter, bear, etc.) growing thick upon the skin, and distinguished from the ordinary hair, which is longer and coarser.” In this sense, “fur” has been in use since about 1430, when it showed up in a poem by John Lydgate:


The shepe…berythe furres blake and whyte. (“Horse, Goose & Sheep,” in Polit. Relig. & Love Poems)

I even found a 1608 Shakespeare quote for “fur”:

This night wherin…The Lyon, and the belly-pinched Wolfe Keepe their furre dry. (King Lear viii. 13)

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word “fur” apparently came from the Old French forrer, meaning “to line, envelop, encase.” The word seems to have first appeared in English around 1300 as a verb that meant to line a garment (with fur). The Etymology Dictionary traces the word back through Proto-Germanic fodram (“sheath”) to the Proto-Indo-European root pa- (“to feed, protect”). And that might be from about 5,500 years ago.

That is a long journey for one little word!

An orange tabby cat's fur_Adobe Stock


Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-InsAnd now it’s time for 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, answered by Real Cat Paisley this week, are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two, answered by old SoLT, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Real Cat Paisley’s answers:
1. Snow is pretty, but it makes all the people in my house complain a lot. They should be like me and just take a nap with it snows.

2. I hope Mommy’s getting me something great for Christmas, because I certainly deserve it!

Old SoLT’s answers:
3. One holiday memory that I cherish is running downstairs early one Christmas morning (extremely early—I think it was just barely past midnight) and finding my very first bicycle next to the tree. So of course I jumped right on it (not knowing how to ride yet) and immediately fell over into the tree. Still not sure how I managed to not knock the tree down!

4. I always thought that Santa was totally magical. How else could he get in and out of all those houses without getting caught?


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Jólakötturinn: The Icelandic Cat Who Might Eat You for Christmas

For regular readers of this blog, the words “Christmas” and “cat” probably bring up thoughts of all the neat presents you’re getting for your cat(s) this year. Or maybe you picture your cat(s) sleeping peacefully under the tree or climbing less peacefully up the tree. In any case, the cat is innocent and sweet (yes, even when climbing the tree!). But in Iceland, the Christmas Cat, or Jólakötturinn or Jólaköttur, is a different animal altogether.  The Jólakötturinn is a monster of a cat that will eat you unless you have met one specific requirement.

A giant cat that wants to see your new Christmas clothes

The Jólakötturinn is said to be a giant cat bigger than a house. It is active on Christmas night, when it prowls from house to house, looking in windows and inspecting kids’ Christmas gifts. If a child has received new clothes, he or she is safe. But for children who have not received new clothes, the outcome is a little more unpleasant. First, the Jólakötturinn eats the child’s Christmas dinner; then it eats the child.

Why the focus on new clothes? Well, according to the tradition, if you finish your work on time, you get new clothes for Christmas. But if you’re lazy and put your work off so you can’t finish on time, no clothes for you, and you can be expecting a visit from the Jólakötturinn. Children are also encouraged to be generous to less-fortunate kids who might not otherwise receive new clothes for Christmas; that way, those less-fortunate kids can also be safe from the Christmas Cat.

Jólakötturinn , the Icelandic Yule Cat: Some Points to Remember #Jólakötturinn #YuleCat

Where did this idea come from?

The legend may be as old as the Dark Ages, but it apparently wasn’t written down until the 19th century. According to “The Yule Cat,” people worked hard to finish the work required to process the autumn wool before Christmas. Those who helped with this work received new clothing; those who didn’t, received nothing. The threat of the Jólakötturinn could offer some extra encouragement to those who were otherwise not inclined to work.

Jólakötturinn is not alone

The Jólakötturinn is not the only child-eating monster in Iceland’s Christmas lore. The beast is said to live in Iceland’s mountains with the giantess Grýla and her sons the Yule Lads. Grýla is believed to devour children who have misbehaved (a notion that gives a whole new meaning to Santa’s “naughty list”). The Yule Lads are pranksters (or child eaters, depending on the darkness of the version you believe) who steal food and play pranks on people. In modern times, they also leave presents in children’s shoes. For children who have been bad during the year, the Yule Lads leave behind rotting potatoes (and you thought coal was bad!).

So, this Christmas, as you sip hot cocoa and pet your cat while you gaze happily at the Christmas tree, make sure you’re wearing at least one new article of clothing to prove your industriousness, or don’t be surprised if you get a rather unpleasant visit from a giant cat!

Sources

Cellania, Miss. “8 Legendary Monsters of Christmas.” Mental Floss. December 16, 2015. http://mentalfloss.com/article/54184/8-legendary-monsters-christmas.

Lewis, Danny. “Each Christmas, Iceland’s Yule Cat Takes Fashion Policing to the Extreme.” Smithsonian.com. December 19, 2016. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/each-christmas-icelands-yule-cat-takes-fashion-policing-extreme-180961420/


“Yule Cat”, Wikipedia, last edited December 7, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yule_Cat.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cat of the Week: Chevy in Baltimore

Cat of the Week

Each week in this space, we feature an older adult or senior cat (7 years +) in need of adoption or sponsorship. Mature cats make great companions, and unlike kittens, they (probably) won’t climb the curtains! Adopt an older cat, and help them enjoy the best years of their life.

Cat of the Week: Chevy at Charm Kitty Cafe, Baltimore

Today, please say hello to Chevy. Chevy is a handsome black-and-white gentleman who is 8 years old. He is a big boy, and he loves getting attention and pets. His tastes are simple: all he really needs to be happy is a comfy bed, yummy food, and lots of love. He enjoys a little catnip as well! Chevy has lived with another cat and kids before. He’d love to settle in with a new family soon.

Chevy is currently at Charm Kitty Cafe in Baltimore, Maryland. 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, December 11, 2017

Book Review: That Olde White Magick


Mysterious Monday


On this Mysterious Monday, we bring you our review of That Olde White Magick, by Sharon Pape. This is book 3 in the Abracadabra mystery series, and it is the first book in the series that we have read.

The plot

That Olde White Magick, by Sharon Pape
Kailyn Wilde is a sorcerer who lives in New Camel, New York, where she owns a magic shop called Abracadabra. She is surrounded by quite the interesting cast of characters. There’s her aunt Tilly, who conducts psychic readings in her tea shop; her deceased mother and grandmother, who show up as clouds of energy; Merlin the sorcerer (yes, the one from the King Arthur legends); a reporter boyfriend (sort of) who has recently been freaked out by her magical abilities; and a whole bunch of cats.

These characters are all dropped into the middle of a mystery when a board member is found murdered just before she was to vote on a zoning issue to allow (or not) a new hotel to be built at the edge of town. Kailyn is determined to find out who killed the woman, and it seems the best way to do that is to figure out who would benefit from eliminating the dead woman’s vote on that zoning issue. But when she gets too close to the answer, someone wants her out of the way…

The cats

The main cat in this book is Sashkatu, who used to be the familiar of Kailyn’s mom. He’s older and has arthritis, and he and Kailyn are not exactly the best of friends yet, but they’re working on it. Kailyn has five other cats as well, whom Sashkatu is still getting used to. There’s also Isenbale, Tilly’s Maine coon. All the cats love Merlin—they cannot get enough of him, and they all congregate around him whenever he’s in the room. The cats don’t really play a big part in the plot, but we still think they’re pretty neat. I should clarify that the cats themselves don’t play a big direct role, but Kailyn does use their fur once to clog up some pipes so she has an excuse to call the plumber who is one of her suspects. She also makes up a story about a missing cat to give herself an excuse to visit the police station. So you could say the cats are important in their own way.

Our verdict

We loved Sharon Pape’s characters. Merlin is a favorite, and we especially enjoyed the bits of modern life he chooses to embrace. He won’t wear modern clothes except when he’s forced to, but he loves pizza (really, who doesn’t?) and cowboy movies (so he says stuff like “pardner” a lot; it’s hilarious). The tension between Kailyn and her reporter boyfriend over her identity as a sorcerer is well done. Just how would an “ordinary” person react to finding out their significant other can cast actual spells on people? We also enjoyed the way Kailyn’s mother and grandmother show up; the clouds of energy are more believable than full-bodied apparitions.

The story these characters are in is pretty terrific too. When we found out who the real killer was and the circumstances of the crime, we were truly surprised. And Kailyn’s life-threatening moments—and how she gets out of them—are some of the best we’ve read in a while. The climax of That Olde White Magick is edge-of-your-seat reading that left us smiling. Sure, we wished the cats played a bigger role in the story, but they do their part just by being there and acting catlike.

Recommended!

Two Paws Up!--A great Read

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!