Posted in Anthology, Reviews

Review: The Moments edited by JK Larkin

***** 5 stars

The Moments is another interesting anthology from the Red Penguin Collection. In this book, nine authors share a special moment in their lives. There are some amazing stories here and others that are everyday events that are still unique to the author.

Air Force veteran David Lange, recounts the birth of each of his children in different places in “Welcoming Life.” Swan Rose, a former musician and current poet, writes about various special moments with his daughters and wife in “The Best Time of My Life.” Retired navy pilot, Jim Tritten, describes a once-in-a-lifetime experience he had on a nine-day warrior expedition to Big Bend National Park in “Touched by Rapture.” Skye Ballantine pens “Christmas Kindness,” a story about sharing gifts with those less fortunate and the true meaning of the holidays in simple pleasures of special moments. “When the Music’s Over” by William John Rostron relates his failed attempts at playing in a band and attending Woodstock and what it taught him about life. Nika Jordan Rose completes the collection with a play called “Lost & Found” which explores the deeply human need for connection in a self-isolated world.

These essays and the others in this anthology make for a great read any time of year but especially during the holiday season when the opportunity to encounter special moments of your own are more likely. I especially enjoyed editor J.K. Larkin’s introduction to this book and how he began the popular Red Penguin Collection during the pandemic.

Pick up a copy of The Moments here: https://amzn.to/3oQ1hek

Posted in Anthology, holidays

Review: ‘Tis the Seasons: Poems for Your Holiday Spirit edited by J.K. Larkin

*****5 stars

This holiday poetry anthology is part of the Red Penguin collection of books edited by J.K. Larkin. It contains 36 poems by various authors that reflect the wonder, joy, and nostalgia of the holiday season. Some poems are funny; others are sad, but they all deal with holiday feelings and experiences.

Some of my favorite poems include David Lange’s “Needle in the Corner,” a poem with a sad twist; J.S. Manino’s “Thrill Before Christmas” which is a clever takeoff of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” song; Lisa Diaz Meyer’s “Merry Christmas Eve (Grandpa’s Walk); Linda Trott Dickman’s “Still Proceeding”; the funny “A Kiss Under the Mistletoe” by Gary S. Watkins; and two poems that deal with the pandemic: “A Pandemic Christmas” by Meldoy Lipford and “Bright Nights” by Kathryn Sadakierski. My short poem “Advent” is also featured.

I can heartily recommend this collection to get you into the holiday spirit. It’s available as a paperback or eBook and also free for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers. Pick up a copy at https://amzn.to/30QiuvO.

Posted in Books, Reviews

Review: The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa (traslated from the Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai)

****4 stars

Note: I reviewed this book through a NetGalley advanced reader copy. It will be published in December.

Although this book is geared toward a young adult audience, as the main character, Rintaro Natsuki, is a high school student, book lovers of all ages will enjoy this story. There’s a paranormal theme as well as a sweet romance, and it all takes place during the holiday season.

Rintaro’s grandfather has died leaving him a used bookstore. As he is grieving for his grandfather and contemplating his move to his aunt’s house, Rintaro is visited by a talking tabby cat who requests his help saving books. Thus follows Rintaro’s adventures into three labyrinths that appear in the back of the bookstore. After solving the mystery of the first labyrinth, Rintaro’s friend, Sayo, the school rep who has been bringing him makeup work after he’s missed classes, is able to see the cat who reappears and asks for help in the second labyrinth.

As Rintaro becomes more involved with Sayo, the cat named Tiger begins to make comments that they could be girlfiend and boyfriend. Working together, Sayo and Rintaro solve two other labyrinths and save more books. The stories behind these adventures will make sense to booklovers who know that in today’s society, print books and classics are less in demand than digital, commercial reads. Rintaro’s love of books increases as he solves each labyrinth’s dilemma.

The final labyrinth has Rintaro facing his feelings for Sayo and realizing the true worth of books and how they connect people. A story that can be read on several levels. Book and cat lovers will enjoy it very much.

Posted in Reviews, short stories

Review: Two Carrot Ring And Other Fascinating Jewelry Stories by Janet Metz Walter

****5 stars

When I first learned about this book, I thought it was a great idea for a unique read. After finishing it, I’m even more convinced of that. The book contains true stories contributed by people about a piece or pieces of jewelry. It’s divided into eight parts: Proposals; Gifts; Humor; Lost and Found; Repurposed Jewelry; Up Above; and Travel Stories. The story that gave the book its title, “Two Carrot Ring and the Central Park Charm,” was in the “Gifts” section. It was contributed by D. Sabel and tells a sweet tale involving a Woolworth ring and a special charm. It’s a very romantic story and also includes a nice poem.

The other stories in this collection are just as interesting. Some are nostalgic; others are modern, but they are all shared from the heart. Reading them, I realized I, too, had stories about my own jewelry pieces. Hopefully, the author who assists her husband in his jewelry business, Gold Fire Diamonds, will publish another volume.

Posted in Uncategorized

Review: The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

***3 stars

Note: I reviewed this book through a NetGalley advanced reader copy. It will be published in June.

I had high hopes for this book because it involved a library mystery, my favorite to read. It started out interesting with a group of four strangers meeting in the Boston Public Library and hearing a woman’s scream while they are seated together. When they learn the following day that a woman was killed, they form a friendship united by this experience until occurrences happen that cause them to suspect one of their group.

Along with the main story, there’s a subplot about a frustrated writer who corresponds with the book’s author sharing feedback on the plot and characters. Some of the feedback involves suggestions on how to improve the story. One of those suggestions involves adding details of the pandemic. The writer, a man named Leo who lives in Boston, is also represented in the book. But when he begins to send details of murders happening in his area, Hannah, the Australian author he is corresponding with, contacts the police who request that she continue to write to Leo to gather more information about him so they can conduct an investigation.

In my opinion, the two plots resolve predictably as the library murder is solved and the correspondence between Hannah and Leo end. Some readers may enjoy the way the main plot and subplot flow together and a few of the Australianism that are used. The characters are somewhat engaging, and there are a few twists that add surprises.

Posted in Anthology, Recipe, Reviews

Review of Feeding the Flock: Recipes from the Red Penguin Family

***5 stars

Feeding the Flock is part of the Red Penguin Collection of anthologies of various genres. This one focuses on cooking recipes for large gatherings, although the ingredients can be modified for smaller servings. Whether hosting Thanksgiving, a special birthday party, or other occasion or holiday, this is a perfect book to keep by your stove. What’s unique about this collection is that, besides some interesting yet simple recipes for groups, it includes note about how the cook/author created the recipe. It also features illustrations of each dish. Some of the familiar recipes included are Basic Stuffing Recipe, Dutch Apple Pie, Twice Baked Potato, and Linguine with Clams. Other less familiar recipes featured are Cawl Mamgu, a Welsh dish; Hungarian Krumpli Haluska; and Golabki (Polished stuffed cabbage). My favorite was the “Do You Take Your Peppered Peppers Laying Down or Vertical?” because I love stuffed peppers. I also enjoyed Mussels Marinara in Oyster Bay by Elaine Donadio who shared her memories of when she and her family lived and boated around this Long Island town which is one of my favorite places to visit. If you’re looking for a recipe book with a varied collection of dishes along with some great stories, this is the book for you.

Amazon Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2YHvd3m

Bookshop.org Purchase Link: https://bit.ly/3FgInDZ

Posted in Dogs, Reviews

Review of Muffin, Digby and Petal Together Forever by Brian L. Porter

*****5 stars

This is the first book I’ve read in Brian L. Porter’s Family of Rescue Dogs series. Previously, I’d read one of his Mersey mysteries and knew he was a great fiction writer, but reading his non-fiction dog book, it was obvious to me how talented he is in both genres. If you have a pet, whether it be a dog, cat, or other animal, you will recognize many of the anecdotes featured in this book. You will laugh when Brian relates the funny things his dogs have done and cry when you read about their health concerns and passing. It’s evident that Brian and his wife, Juliet, are animal lovers. As a cat person, I was still able to relate to these dog tales. In fact, I found striking similarities to some of the experiences Brian related about his dogs that I’ve also seen in my cats.

The book begins with Brian explaining how he and Juliet came to adopt three dogs together. It was after they’d lost one of their dogs Juliet was very bonded to, and it reminded me of how I adopted two kittens after I’d lost my old Siamese and my mother in the same year. I loved how Brian described the puppies as “one dog with twelve legs” and how he pointed out that “Bringing up three was no different than bringing up one.” I felt that same way about my two cats. I also enjoyed the way he described the playfights the dogs engaged in and that he found it “amazing that nobody gets hurt.” My cats also play fight, and I’ve often wondered how they survive after all that yowling and screaming.

I also empathized with Brian’s story about Digby’s close call to death when a mass was found on his spleen, and how he survived after it was removed by a doctor at a special veterinary surgery. I felt Brian’s disappointment and anxiety when a storm delayed Digby’s initial surgery and the issues he had driving to the surgery including car problems on the way home. I was relieved to learn that all turned out well. This emotional story was conveyed so well that I felt as if I was going through it with my own pets.

Another feature I loved about this book were the beautiful photos illustrating each chapter and the gallery of photos at the back. While Brian didn’t restrict this book to the three dogs in its title, he’s written books about his other rescue dogs. They’re all listed in the bibliography at the end along with his Mersey mystery series. I’m sure readers will want to check out both these series, as Brian is an international bestselling author and a talented writer of different genres.

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3o2EmfI

Posted in author news, Freebies and Special Offers, New Releases

Late October/Early November Author News: New Releases, Sale, and Free Audio

I’m proud to announce that the 5th book in my Cobble Cove story series has released today. Barking Up the Wrong Tree features the same characters from my cozy mystery series and a new mystery. This one involves a missing boy and a murdered teacher. It takes place in March 2020 and includes details about the COVID-19 pandemic. Fido, the Golden Retriever, is center stage in this story along with his cat character co-stars Sneaky, the library cat and KittyKai the calico inn cat. It’s available as an eBook.

Purchase Link: mybook.to/BarkTree

My Cobble Cove Halloween cozy mystery, No Gravestone Unturned, is on sale for 99 cents through November 1. It’s a great book to read over the Halloween weekend featuring Sneaky, the library cat, and his special gal pal, KittyKai, the calico inn cat, along with special guest cat, Salem. This book features a “ghost” and a murder in a cemetery.

Purchase Link: mybook.to/CobbleCove5

Another new release perfect for the Halloween season, Clues and Culprits, by the writers in the Indie Authors Group, is an anthology of mystery stories. It includes my story, “A Piece of the Pie.”

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3beK1ZY

Pets on the Prowl, the forthcoming anthology from the Red Penguin Collection will feature my short story, “Murder Gone A-Stray.” This book will be available in print and as an eBook. It will also be free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Meows and Purrs, my collection of cat poems based on all the cats I’ve known and loved, is now available as in audio. Codes are still available for free copies. If you’re interested, please contact me at debbiewriter@yahoo.com asap and indicate if you’re a U.S. or U.K. reader.

On Friday, October 29, I’ll be taking over on the Cozy Mystery Village Facebook page from 1-2 pm EST. at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2662518460643435
There will be prizes, contests, and giveaways. Please drop by and join us.
Posted in Freebies and Special Offers

Book Sale and Free AudioBook Offer: MEOWS AND PURRS: A Collection of Cat Poems

My cat poetry book, Meows and Purrs: A Collection of Cat Poems, is on sale for 99 cents through October 28. The poems are inspired by my current and past cats. Some are funny; others are sad, but all reflect the beauty, intelligence, and special characteristics of these animals. Along with the poems, I’ve included photos and notes about the cats.

In addition to the eBook sale, I have some limited coupon codes for the free audiobook version. If you’d like one, send an email to me at debbiewriter@yahoo.com with the subject line: “Free Audiobook Offer” and let me know if you are from the U.S. or U.K.

Hermione enjoyed checking out the poem dedicated to her, “I Know a Calico.”

I know a calico
who crosses her paws
kneads soft blankets,
pillows, and throws.

I know a calico
with pretty green eyes
a tri-color tail
and the sweetest cry.

I know a calico
who plays with toy coils
bats them under chairs
and around the floor.

I know a calico
who purrs when you pet her
perches in high places
tops of closets and refrigerators.

I know a calico
Who’s smart and wise
when you take her photo,
she closes her eyes.

I know a calico
who growls at strangers by the door
chatters when she hears birds call.

I know a calico
with white boots and gloves
a precious cat anyone would love.

I know a calico who deserves a poem
She’s the one who lives in my home.

If you like cats and poems, this is a great collection for you and also makes a nice gift for a feline loving friend. For less than a dollar, you can’t go wrong. Pick up a copy at: http://mybook.to/mapddl

Posted in Cats, Kittens

Remembering Harry and Hermione’s Adoption on their 3rd Gotcha Day

Since today, October 21, is Harry and Hermione’s Gotcha Days, I thought I’d share the story of my three-year-old cats, who we adopted in 2018 when they were three-month-old kittens. My 14-year-old daughter (who is turning 17 this Sunday) had never had a kitten. We had an older cat who passed away when she was four. Then we adopted our present cat, Stripey. He was almost a year old and full-grown. He didn’t hit it off well with Holly because she was a typical noisy toddler. When Oliver came along, the senior cat I took in after my mother could no longer care for him, Holly began to bond with him, but he attached himself to me. My husband promised Holly that she could have her own cat when Oliver passed away. Five years later, that happened. It was a heartbreak for all of us. We didn’t rush to get another cat, and Stripey seemed content to be an only cat again.

As the one-year mark approached that Oliver took his trip to Rainbow Bridge, a cat cafe opened up on Long Island called The Shabby Tabby Cat Cafe. I thought it would be fun to visit and see the cats. We took a trip there, and Holly fell in love with a kitten named Ringo. Unfortunately, someone else had already laid claim to him. Holly was upset, but her dad assured her that we would get a cat for her eventually, and I explained that Ringo was just not the one meant for her.

We took another trip to the cat cafe on October 21, three days before my daughter’s 14th birthday. There was a fall fair going on in town that day, and I thought we’d just drop into Shabby Tabby and see if they had any new cats. It turned out that they had several new kittens. My daughter spotted a black one right away and began playing with him. Although Ringo had been white and orange, she’d always said she wanted a black cat, but the main thing was one that connected with her.

All the cats at the cafe are named. I found out they come from the Golden Paws Society rescue in Huntington. After playing with Harry for a while, Holly told me she was in love with him. I could see why. He was a playful fellow who seemed affectionate and bright. When I asked if he was available, I was told he was but that he couldn’t be separated from his sister, Hermione, a calico kitten. I knew my husband wouldn’t like the idea of our taking two kittens when we already had another cat, but when I laid eye on Hermione, I was sold. It was like fate because I’d always wanted a calico cat after having so many other types of cats all my life. I also thought it would be great for the two kittens to be together as playmates. Eventually, I could introduce our older cat to them.

I completed the adoption forms that had to be approved by Golden Paws and set a pickup date for that Wednesday night, October 24, which was the best day for us because I had the next two days off to watch the kittens while Holly was in school. It also happened to be her birthday. My husband wasn’t thrilled when we broke the news, but he finally agreed. To prepare for the new arrivals, I picked up some supplies including a similar pet playpen in which the kittens could stay when we weren’t around. We set it up in my daughter’s room because we wanted her to learn the responsibility of caring for her cats. She was able to fit a food and water bowl inside, a few safe toys, and a litter box. She also cleaned her room and made it cat friendly.

On October 24, we picked the kittens up from Golden Paws. When we got them home, they seemed to do fine in Holly’s room. They were accustomed to the playpen from the cat cafe, although my daughter kept them out after school while she was doing her homework. At night, Harry curled up and slept on her chest. We learned Hermione, despite being tinier and lighter than Harry, was a big jumper, so we had to be careful to keep the room closed when we entered and left. Stripey peeked in the “nursery,” and eyed the kittens. When they were old enough to be introduced to him, there was some hissing all around, but eventually they became accustomed to one another.

Harry and Hermione have grown into beautiful and loving cats. I’m convinced that they were meant for us, and we were meant for them.My fur babies have also inspired me to write several books including my latest Meows and Purrs, A Collection of Cat Poems that include “Cat Cafe,” “I know a Calico,” and “Mini Panther” that are based on them as well as other poems about all the cats I’ve known and loved.

I also wrote a book, Pet Posts: The Cat Chats, featuring Harry, Hermione, and three of my other cats who talk about their lives from their points-of-view. This book also gives information about feline diseases and behavior.

I also shared Harry and Hermione’s story in the anthology, Second-Chance Cats: True Stories of the Cats We Rescue and the Cats Who Rescue Us