Posts Tagged ‘Pets’

Best New Books of 2014: Sharon S’s Picks

December 12, 2014

It is said that “Truth is stranger than fiction,” and to me it is just as interesting. I read fiction and nonfiction for the same reasons: to be entertained, instructed, and inspired. Here are my favorite new books for this year:

Pastor Needs a BooPastor Needs a Boo by Michele Andrea Bowen
A former FBI agent as well as a dedicated pastor, Denzelle Flowers of New Jerusalem Church in Durham got burned on the romance scene when his wife left him for a richer man. When the perfect Proverbs 31 woman shows up in his life he’s not ready to admit it, even though everyone else sees that she’s the one for him. Meanwhile, Pastor Denzelle decides to run for bishop, and has to pack both his gun and his Bible as major corruption sweeps through their denomination.

What Makes Olga Run?What Makes Olga Run? by Bruce Grierson
What makes a 93-year-old woman participate in track events worldwide, and set records that compare (in her age category) with those of the best athletes in the world? Well, she loves doing it, and her ability to do it stretches our stereotypes about aging. She is not alone—there are other “super seniors” like her around the world. Bruce Grierson leads us through a fascinating investigation of what keeps them going strong. See my full review.

William Shakespeare's Star WarsWilliam Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope by Ian Doescher
Hang on to your lightsabers! Doescher cleverly conflates famous lines from Shakespeare with famous scenes from Star Wars, making for a blend of comedy and drama worthy of the Bard himself. What I like best is getting to see into the minds of the characters through the asides and soliloquys. The series is continued in The Empire Striketh Back and The Jedi Doth Return. My family and I have been reading it aloud to each other (my husband plays the role of Chewbacca, and my 12-year-old son plays R2D2). See my full review.

Life is a WheelLife is a Wheel: Love, Death, Etc., and a Bike Ride Across America by Bruce Weber
The death of his parents and other major changes shook Weber up and gave him a lot to think about concerning life, love, and death. It didn’t help matters that he had spent the last three years of his middle-aged life writing obituaries for The New York Times. He decided to do something to prove to himself that he was still alive and kicking — bike across America! I love books like this, where someone decides to do something semi-crazy, and I can go along for the ride without the expense or the sore leg muscles! Based on the daily blogs he sent back to the newspaper, this book is a very entertaining and interesting read.

The Owl Who Liked Sitting on CaesarThe Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar by Martin Windrow
One reason I like to read is to experience vicariously things I may never experience myself, or at least not in the same way. I love owls, and Martin Windrow gives me a window into what they are really like, close-up and personal. Mumbles is a charming little tawny owl who is nevertheless no pushover! I loved reading about her daily life, and her and Martin’s close relationship of many years. See my full review.

The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar: Living with a Tawny Owl by Martin Windrow

September 19, 2014

Owls have always fascinated me. On the rare occasions when I have seen one, I was mesmerized. My husband, a wetland biologist who roams the woods for both work and pleasure, once brought me an owl feather. It was incredibly soft, an adaptation that helps owls to fly silently, catching their prey unawares without any flapping sounds that might warn their prey.

Martin Windrow’s pet owl, Mumble, was reared for him from a hatchling, and they met when she was one month old. She appeared to be “wearing a one-piece knitted jumpsuit of pale grey fluff with brown stitching.” She jumped up onto his shoulder and nestled against his cheek “like a big, warm dandelion head” and said “Kweep!” very softly. Martin fell head over heels in love.

Over the fifteen years they lived together, Martin kept detailed journal entries about Mumble’s growth, appearance and behavior. The drawings and photographs in the book demonstrate Mumble’s favorite poses—fluffed up after her bath (Mumble adored to splash in the sink full of soapy water while Martin washed dishes), lying on her stomach with wings spread while sunbathing, pouncing on imaginary mice between the sofa cushions, and sitting contentedly on her various perches, including the bust of Germanicus Caesar.

Windrow lets us in on all the secrets of owl life—from the “disgusting bits” like bringing up pellets to a detailed description of Mumble’s preening sessions, which can take as long as an hour. Because of their long, flexible necks (which are usually hidden in their downy feathers), owls can turn their heads around 270 degrees. This makes their preening look rather like a contortionist’s act! The grooming ended with a fluff-out and a shake, followed by “a last prim, Victorian little shrug to settle the edges of her furled wings” and a final shuffle of her feet.

Windrow’s dry, witty style is perfectly suited to describing his dignified little friend. She was fascinated with his beard and loved to preen it, combing her beak through it. One night while Martin was stretched out on the sofa reading, she landed suddenly between his book and his face, half smothering him in feathers and provoking him to cry out in surprise. As Martin says, “She apparently construed the resultant burst of warm air up her petticoats as a physical liberty, because she bent forward and carefully bit me on the bridge of my nose.”

Reading Windrow’s delightful book is the next best thing to cuddling with a real, live owl of your own.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Murder, She Barked by Krista Davis

March 13, 2014

I have enjoyed Krista Davis’ Domestic Diva series for years . They are classic cozy mysteries and several have been nominated for Agatha awards. The constant but humorous rivalry between characters, Sophie and Natasha is delightful. Old Town Alexandria, Virginia provides the ideal small village feel of the traditional mystery. It is the proper venue for her character’s many adventures and murders. I was thrilled to recently discover Krista’s latest book, Murder, She Barked, the first in her new Paws and Claws series published by Berkley Prime Crime.

Holly Miller rushes out into a dark and stormy night without even a change of clothes, to answer a call to help her beloved grandmother, Oma. Holly leaves her boyfriend Ben in the clutches of his former girlfriend, nearly runs out of gas while driving through the foggy mountain roads of Virginia, and is adopted by a very dirty, mangy Jack Russell terrier. Can things get worse? You bet they can! Holly soon discovers that murder abounds in the picturesque mountain resort of Wagtail, Virginia.

Oma’s modest Sugar Maple Inn has changed dramatically since Holly visited as a child. Wagtail has been revitalized and become an upscale pet vacation destination. The town and its amenities are geared toward the comfort of pets and their owners. Despite its charming appearance, Wagtail is beset by murder, burglary and mayhem. Holly must get to the bottom of the trouble to help her Oma.

The elements of setting, characters, both human and animal, and of course the mystery, result in a very entertaining book that will appeal to all readers, even those who are not animal fanciers. I believe Krista is on her way to another Agatha nomination with Murder, She Barked. Her fans will not be disappointed and I hope new readers will enjoy discovering this delightful author.

If you like authors Carolyn Hart, Ellery Adams, Avery Aames, Lilian Jackson Braun and Donna Andrews you will undoubtedly enjoy any of Krista Davis’ books. Be sure to check out Murder, She Barked for a mini vacation of your own and no pet required.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog

What the Cat Saw by Carolyn Hart

February 1, 2013

Carolyn Hart is at the top of my list of all time favorite authors. I know when I pick up one of her books I will not be disappointed. What the Cat Saw is quite different from Hart’s Death on Demand series, but possesses the elements that make her books so readable.

What the Cat Saw is set in Carolyn Hart’s beloved Oklahoma. This affection is reflected with “Sooner” trivia sprinkled throughout the book and is a fun aspect for those readers familiar with the great state of Oklahoma.

The story begins when Nela Farley answers her flaky sister Chloe’s call, asking her to substitute as a receptionist for her at the prestigious family Haklo Foundation. Nela hopes leaving Los Angeles will help her heal from the grief caused by the death of her fiancé. Adding to her unhappiness is the loss of her job as a reporter at a small daily California newspaper.

Chloe has arranged for Nela to stay at the apartment of the late Marion Grant, to care for Marion’s cat Jugs. Shortly after her arrival in Oklahoma, Nela has a feeling all is not as it appears in the sudden death of Marion Grant , head of the Haklo foundation.

Is Nela’s reporter intuition kicking in or does she have a sixth sense regarding this death? Is there a psychic connection between Nela and the cats?

If you like Lillian Jackson Braun, Carole Nelson DouglasMidnight Louie series or Carolyn Hart’s Bailey Ruth series (the latest is Ghost in Trouble) you will enjoy What the Cat Saw by Carolyn Hart.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien

August 16, 2012

In this charming and insightful story, Stacey O’Brien introduces us to the “Way of the Owl”—a way of uncompromising devotion. Stacey adopted Wesley as a tiny nestling. Since owls mate for life, throughout Wesley’s life of nearly 20 years he and Stacey were devoted to each other.

One of the things that amazed me is how sensitive owls are. While Wesley was learning to fly, Stacey burst out laughing when he made an awkward landing on a slippery table, sliding off the edge and crashing to the floor. To her surprise and dismay, Wesley turned his head away from her and refused to look at her for some time afterward. That is one part of the Way of the Owl—you do not ridicule your friend.

Another part of the Way of the Owl is that you do not force your friend to do something he does not want to do. In his old age, Wesley’s claws and beak overgrew, becoming so long and sharp that he kept hurting himself with them. Stacey wanted to file down his beak and clip his claws, but Wesley would not permit it. She had to gain his trust before he would allow this unfamiliar procedure. Drawing on research that animals sense our emotional states, she began visualizing a calm and successful process. She also used the file on various things around the room, talking to him calmly about it. Eventually he allowed her to do both of these uncomfortable procedures without any complaint.

Stacey had quite a few adventures during her years with Wesley. A large bag of live mice she had bought for him burst open in the back seat of her car. When she tried a new hairdo, piling her long hair on top of her head, Wesley thought that the lump on top of her head was some kind of predator and attacked it in an effort to defend her.

There are wonderful photos in the book, such as Wesley in front of the make-up mirror, Wesley playing in water (very unusual behavior for a barn owl), and of course Wesley cuddling with Stacey. Though they were so different in so many ways, Wesley and Stacey had an incredible bond that enriched their lives and taught those who knew them a lot about our fellow creatures.

Find and request this book in our catalog.


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