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.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Cat of the Week: Gabby 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.



This week, please meet Gabby. She is a very sweet 9-year-old lady who would be so thankful to find her new forever home! Gabby likes to rub up against people and meow, and she is also really into making biscuits and just spending time in a nice, soft cat bed. Oh, and let’s not forget the treats. Gabby loves treats!

Gabby is currently at the Baltimore Humane Society. Learn more about her 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 20, 2017

Book Review: Potions and Pastries

Mysterious Monday

On this Mysterious Monday, we bring you our review of a bewitchingly good tale from Bailey Cates. Potions and Pastries is book 7 in the Magical Bakery mystery series, and it is the first book in this series that we have read.

The plot

Potions and Pastries, by Bailey Cates
Potions and Pastries  is set in Savannah, Georgia, where Katie Lightfoot is a witch, a hedgewitch, actually; she does her magic in the kitchen, using herbs and such to help and heal. She’s also a lightwitch, meaning she is a seeker of justice (this is one of our favorite things about her).  Of course, as a witch, she has a familiar—in this case, a Cairn terrier named Mungo. Yes, we were hoping for a feline familiar, but Katie is unfortunately allergic to cats (I know—I couldn’t believe it either!). Mungo is a good companion though; he takes good care of Katie. Plus, Katie’s boyfriend, Declan, is sometimes taken over by the spirit of an ancestor who might be—get this—a leprechaun. 

Much of the book centers on the Honeybee Bakery, where the pastries might have something a little extra added—because, you know, it’s basically run by witches. This is where the cat comes in, because the bakery is named after a cat, Honeybee, an orange striped beauty who is the familiar of Katie's aunt Lucy. Unfortunately, we see a very little bit of Honeybee herself because of that allergy thing.

The mystery really gets going when one day Katie is standing outside with Orla Black, a fortune teller who is part of the secretive Black clan. Katie suddenly gets a message to help Orla (she gets these messages from her departed grandmother sometimes), and in the next second, Orla, seemingly under some sort of spell, steps into the street right in front of an oncoming car. She is killed instantly, and Katie suspects she was murdered. Just try convincing the local police of that though.

So it’s going to be up to Katie to tease out the clues that will lead to who killed Orla—and how. Could it have been a disgruntled customer who didn’t like how their fortune turned out, or perhaps some member of the Black clan? Clan leader John Black was known to be upset with Orla, but how can Katie possibly get any information out of this tight-knit family that is known for not welcoming outsiders? And will the murderer stand for her meddling or try to silence her forever?

Our verdict

I will admit I was disappointed that there wasn’t more cat in this book. That said, we thought the story in Potions and Pastries was terrific. We liked Katie right away, and we even liked Mungo. He proved pretty useful to have around. You know, for a dog. Katie has just enough going on in her life to make for a really interesting read, but it isn’t so much that the mystery gets lost among the personal stuff. There are a few heart-stopping scenes that we just loved. The end wasn’t a complete surprise, but the way things were revealed and the way the story was resolved was surprising (and part of it was heart stopping too!). Call us 91% surprised and 100% pleased.

Yes, I do have to withhold a paw for the relative lack of cat (this is a cat blog, after all), but we loved this book so much, old SoLT asked the Resident Dog to step in and add a couple of woofs to make up for it.


Recommended!

One Paw & Two Woofs--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!


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Paisley Found a Sock

Yesterday, after old SoLT put away her clean laundry, Real Cat Paisley happened upon a sock that got left behind. She took this selfie to commemorate the event:



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

Sunday Selfies blog hop

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Caturday Art: Polaroid Paisley

Today's Caturday Art features the lovely Real Cat Paisley. Old SoLT took an older photo of her and tried the Nebula effect in Lunapic, followed by a lens flare and Polaroid frame in PicMonkey. Her furs (Paisley's, not old SoLT's) came out so pretty!



We're pleased to be joining Athena's Caturday Art blog hop!

Caturday Art blog hop

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friendly Fill-Ins for November 17

Real Cat Webster has suddenly decided to take the week off (i.e., he had a word all picked out, but old SoLT had too much work to do to help him with it). He will return next week with Words with Webster.

Friendly Fill-Ins
That means we have just one fun Friday feature for you, 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. I can't wait to eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Someone always sneaks me a little piece.

2. My favorite kind of pie is—Are you kidding? I don’t care for pie. Webster, on the other paw, will clean up the crumbs from anything. That’s probably why I am nice and trim, while he is—not.

Old SoLT’s answers:

3. This year, I am particularly thankful for getting to see my grandmother a couple weeks ago. It was a good visit, and I’m so glad I could make time to go.


4. A funny holiday tradition in my/our house isGee, I can’t think of anything funny that we do. Maybe we should start something!

Roby Sweet with her Mom and Grandma--November 2017
Old SoLT (L) with her grandma and mom. They took this selfie outside the building that used to be
a school that old SoLT's great-grandfather attended. It was in the early 20th century when he was
in this school one day and they all heard a strange noise outside. They went out to see  what it was,
and coming down the road was the very first car they ever saw.

Roby Sweet's mom and grandmother, November 2017
Bonus shot of old SoLT's mother explaining an iPad to Grandma.
They're pretty sure Grandma was mostly bewildered, but at least now
she has seen an iPad up close!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

First Cat in Space to Get Well-Deserved Memorial

Cats in History

Not many people know that, before any human dared venture into space, a cat was sent to test things out. Now, this brave cat who did not have any say in whether she got sent into space may finally be getting a memorial.

The first and only feline in space

Felicette, space cat
Félicette was a black-and-white tuxedo cat who was found living on the streets in Paris (or was purchased from a dealer; the accounts are apparently inconsistent) and, along with 13 other cats, was put into France’s space program. She went through training similar to what the human astronauts did, including being put in a compression chamber and in a centrifuge and going round and round and round. One thing that was done to the cats but not the humans was the implantation of electrodes in their brains to keep an eye on activity there.

The tuxie was selected to be “the one” either because she could remain calm in a crisis or because the other trainees got too plump.

And so, on October 18, 1963, Félicette was put into a capsule on a Véronique AG1 rocket. At 8:09 a.m., the rocket blasted off, and the cat was sent nearly 100 miles above Earth. She traveled at speeds reaching up to Mach 6 (which we are pretty sure makes her the fastest cat ever), and she pulled up to 9 g’s. Her non-orbital flight lasted 15 minutes, and she returned safely to Earth by parachuting down in her capsule.

Righting some wrongs with a crowdfunded memorial

We’ve already mentioned how Félicette did not get to decide whether she wanted to do all that she did. That’s the first wrong, in our opinion. The second wrong is that Félicette was euthanized three months after her flight so her brain implant could be tested some more. The third wrong is that not many people even know about Félicette, perhaps partly because she has never been memorialized (except on a postage stamp, where she was wrongly identified as “Felix”).

But now Félicette might be posthumously getting her due, as there is a Kickstarter campaign to create a bronze statue of her. The statue is to be created by sculptor Gill Parker and is expected to include a representation of Félicette and a rocket. When we checked, the campaign had raised just over $44,000. Its goal is $52,576, and the campaign ends TOMORROW, November 17, at 3:01 a.m. EST. That means you have very little time left if you wish to contribute and help send the campaign over the top. We pledged about $37 for the reward of two enamel badges and a replica postcard because we think it is important that this brave cat be recognized.


Click here to learn more about the campaign and to contribute!


Sources

Félicette,” Wikipedia.

Hanneke Weitering, “FirstCat in Space to Receive a Proper Memorial,” Live Science, November 8, 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Release of The Mythmakers!

We are beyond thrilled that today is the release of book 5 in the Miss Cuddlywumps Investigates series!

New Release from Cuddlywumps Publishing! The Mythmakers.


In "The Mythmakers," I, Miss Cuddlywumps, am the hero, obviously, as I match wits with some people who are making myths the modern way, on YouTube. Too bad at least one of these mythmakers is apparently not above killing, for reasons that are not entirely clear until the very end of the book. Also, my Rory person spends a little time being held at the sheriff's department as a "person of interest." Sort of makes you wonder what's going to happen between her and her boyfriend, the sheriff, doesn't it?

For a limited time, "The Mythmakers" Kindle edition is available for just 99 cents from Amazon.

Also for a limited time, "The Mythmakers" print edition is available for $8.00--that's 20% off our regular price and nearly 40% off the Amazon price, and it's available only if you buy directly from Cuddlywumps Publishing. Don't forget to ask for my pawtograph!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Cat of the Week: Hopey in Baltimore

Cat of the Week

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month! There’s no better time to welcome an older cat into your home.

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.

Adopt Hopey! Baltimore Humane Society


Today, we’re introducing Hopey, a 7-year-old black-and-white lady who has such unique markings on her cute face. We think she looks sort of like her paw slipped while she was applying mascara around her right eye. And she has a cute little stump tail too! Hopey had trouble adjusting to all the stresses of the shelter, but thankfully she has been able to go to a foster home where she can settle in in peace. She does like to snuggle on someone’s lap, and she enjoys getting butt scratches. She has lived with a dog and a child before.

Hopey is currently in a foster home through the Baltimore Humane Society. Learn more about her 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 13, 2017

Book Review: Familiar Motives

Mysterious Monday #cozy #mystery #cats

On this Mysterious Monday, we bring you our review of book 3 of Delia James’s Witch’s Cat mystery series, Familiar Motives. As the series title indicates, this book features plenty of witches and a couple of pretty terrific cats. It is the first book we have read in this series, but we had no trouble getting right into the story.

The plot

Familiar Motives, by Delia James
Annabelle Amelia Blessingsound Britton is an artist and a witch—well, an apprentice witch; she’s new to the craft. She is from an old New England family and lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She also has a gift she calls her “Vibe,” with which she can sense emotional vibrations resulting from dramatic events—murder, for example. This gift comes in handy when a local veterinarian, Ramona Forsythe, meets an unfortunate end under mysterious circumstances. Ramona’s death is bad, obviously, but also bad is the disappearance of Ruby, a cat better known as Attitude Cat. Attitude Cat is the spokesfeline for a cat food line, and her disappearance has pet lovers in a tizzy as “Where is Attitude Cat?” becomes the question to be answered.

For Anna and the rest of her coven, though, there are two additional big questions: “Who killed Ramona?” and “Which witch was involved?”

See, Ramona was also a witch, and she was trusted with taking care of the “special” pets in town—such as Anna’s feline familiar (more on him later). She had “wards” on her home to protect it, and they were shattered by another witch ... a witch who might just have killed the vet and snatched the famous cat she was keeping at her home for a few days. Anna’s witchcraft mentor, Julia, is livid to know that a witch may have had something to do with Ramona’s death, and she announces to the coven that they will be searching for that witch—and doing whatever they have to do to get justice for Ramona.

There are plenty of non-witch suspects as well, as Ramona might have been disposed of simply to get her out of the way so Ruby could be stolen. Possible motives include greed and a possible conspiracy to cover up a big problem with that pet food company (in other words, greed again). Because there is a big chunk of money involved with Ruby.

The cats

The main cat in Familiar Motives is Anna’s familiar, Alistair. He’s a big gray cat who is able to disappear at will, a skill that is both useful to Anna and sometimes kind of a pain. (You know how sometimes you can’t find your cat and she’s just hiding under the bed? Well, imagine if she was able to vanish into thin air and go anywhere.)  Alistair is important to the plot and plays a major role, as Anna assigns him the task of finding Ruby. Ruby is a black-and-white cat who became sort of accidentally famous when her human took her to a photo shoot on a whim. Now she’s a Very Big Deal and is worth quite a lot of money. Obviously she is extremely important since she is the one who gets cat-napped, but we don’t actually see a lot of her since she is also, you know, missing for most of the book. We do like how she gives ladies’ man Alistair the brush-off early in the book!

Our verdict

Familiar Motives is truly a great cozy. We loved reading about how Anna’s magical abilities affect her life, and the descriptions of how she senses emotional energy were engrossing. The final confrontation had us turning pages like mad, but even before that we enjoyed the delicious tension between so many of the characters—and within characters as they deal with internal struggles. For example, should a cop who’s also a witch use magic to help solve a crime? (Answer: no.) Should Anna tell her family that she is a witch? (Answer: undetermined—or at least, I’m not going to tell you.) The mystery is well crafted, and we enjoyed meeting Alistair and seeing him play such a vital role in the plot. He is an excellent cat. He should really find himself one girlfriend and stick with her though, instead of falling for every female feline he meets!

We will have to find time to go back and read this series from the start. 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!

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, November 12, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Real Cat Webster

Real Cat Webster did this week's Sunday Selfie. He took this selfie of him sitting with his mommy (old SoLT) the night she returned from her recent trip. He was so happy she was home!

Real Cat Webster close-up selfie #cats #tabbycats

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

Sunday Selfies blog hop

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Caturday Art: Real Cats Webster and Paisley

We kept things simple for Caturday Art this week, using just one quick effect from Lunapic. It's the Edtaonisl art effect, with an added 3-D canvas border:

Real Cats Webster and Paisley with Edtaonisl effect #CaturdayArt

We had no idea what Edtaonisl meant, so of course we googled it and learned that it is the sort of made-up title of a 1913 painting by Francis Picabia (whom we had never heard of before, so that shows you how much we know about art history!). You can find out more from the Art Institute of Chicago.

And here is the original of our picture. It is a pretty crummy photo by old SoLT that does not do the Real Cats justice at all!

Real Cats Webster and Paisley_October 2017

We're pleased to be joining the Caturday Art blog hop, hosted by Athena and Marie!

Caturday Art blog hop

Friday, November 10, 2017

Words with Webster: Thermoneutral Zone, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

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

Words with Webster

Words with WebsterHi, everybody! It’s me, Real Cat Webster. Welcome to Words with Me. Today’s word is “thermoneutral zone.” I know, technically that’s two words, but just go with it, okay? It’s also called TNZ for short, so let’s just call it that from now on. If you’re curious like I am (you’ve heard of curiosity and the cat?), you are probably wondering what TNZ is. Well, I found out from part of a scientific paper that it’s “the range of ambient temperatures without regulatory changes in metabolic heat production or evaporative heat loss.”

Whatever that means, right?

In plain English, the TNZ—and I’m speaking strictly in relation to cats, because that’s all that really matters—is a range of temperatures where a cat doesn’t have to use any energy to get cooler or warmer. In other words, it’s when the temperature is absolutely purrfect. For cats, this Zone of Purrfection is between 85 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit (or 86 to 97 degrees, according to some sources). In the past couple of years, you may have come across this tidbit in various stories about why cats love boxes. One possible explanation is that a box holds in some body heat and helps the cat maintain that Zone of Purrfection. Purrsonally, I don’t care much for boxes, so I can’t say whether this is true or not.


I looked into the history of “thermoneutral” in the Oxford English Dictionary and found out it goes back to the 1960s. The quotes are all scientific and stuff, like this one from Respiration Physiology:
The thermoneutral skin temperature zone for fasting adult sheep has been found to be 33–35°C as determined by immersion in a water bath. (I.30, 1966)
That just makes me wonder what they did to the poor sheep, because I’m guessing that sheep did not ask to go on a fast or be immersed in a water bath.

Anyway, “thermoneutral” is from the Greek θερμός (thermos, meaning “hot”) and the French/Latin neutral/neutralis (meaning “not taking part in war; not taking sides” and “neither masculine nor feminine; not belonging to either side,” respectively).

As long as I was in the OED, I looked up “zone,” and then I got kind of confused because there are a whole bunch of definitions. The one that best fits our needs is “a definite region or area … distinguished from adjacent regions by some special quality or condition (indicated by a defining word or phrase).” The quotes for this meaning were all boring scientific things, so I picked this one from ca. 1500 that’s about zones of the earth:
For thre zones shal he fynde Where no man may lyue in one kynde One is hote and colde are two. (Hist. K. Boccus & Sydracke)
“Zone” is from the Latin zona, from the Greek ζώνη, meaning “girdle.”

So, the TNZ for cats might also be called the Girdle of Purrfection, which I think is a much better name thermo-whatever.

And now, after all that scientific stuff, please enjoy this picture of a cat in a box, enjoying his or her Girdle or Zone of Purrfection:

Tabby cat in box #catsinboxes #cute




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. The best part of where I live is the sunroom with my cat tree and lots of windows.

2. The worst part of where I live is there’s a dog here.

Old SoLT’s answers:
3. If I had a lot of money, I would create a sanctuary where homeless senior cats could live out their days comfortably, with good food, veterinary care, and of course lots of love.

4. My favourite article of cold weather clothing is my flannel-lined jeans. They are awesome when walking the dog on a cold day!


Thursday, November 9, 2017

New Trailer for Miss Cuddlywumps Investigates Mystery Series

Well, old SoLT is finally back at her desk and ready to blog again. She has wanted to have time to create a book trailer, and she has all kinds of fantastic ideas for animation and such, but I reminded her to start small and simple. Believe me, she had enough challenges putting this together. We hope you enjoy it!


And this seems like the perfect time to remind you that Book 5 in the series, The Mythmakers, will officially be released in less than 1 week! You can pre-order the Kindle version from Amazon for just 99 cents (price good through the end of November). Or you can catch the print version on sale at the Cuddlywumps Publishing site. The sale price is only available through our website, and only through November.

The Mythmakers, by Roby Sweet. Book 5 in Miss Cuddlywumps Investigates. #mystery #cozy #cats



And if you want to treat yourself (or someone else--Christmas is coming!) to all five print books, the set is on sale too! Find it only at the Cuddlywumps Publishing site.

Books 1-5, Miss Cuddlywumps Investigates mystery series, by Roby Sweet

Just in case you do not know yet, in this series I, Miss Cuddlywumps, play a classically-educated, mystery-solving at. (In other words, I play myself.) I live with a rather inept human who is lovable despite her many faults, and together we solve all the mysteries in our very small town (but I do most of the work, naturally). Here is the description of The Mythmakers:

Lately, things have been quiet in the tiny, historic village of Brooksford, Maryland. The residents got through Halloween with no “shenanigans,” as the mayor would say, and now they’re headed into a peaceful Thanksgiving season. But Rory Roberts knows better. She knows something is off from the moment the first amateur filmmakers arrive at the edge of town, and her feelings prove true when their “documentary” leads to a violent death in Rory’s backyard, with Rory herself as an early suspect.

Now, Rory and her classically educated calico cat, Miss C, with help from their friends, must work through their limited list of suspects to determine who the real killer is. They may find clues in an online horror movie showing the moments leading up to the crime, but that video also causes more trouble for Brooksford when it quickly goes viral, drawing crowds of unwanted tourists into town, and straight to Rory’s normally quiet cottage. Will Miss C’s classical education be up to the challenge of deciphering the 21st-century clues in this crime, or will her and Rory’s meddling only push the killer to strike again?