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review 2017-07-15 01:01
Murder Past Due by Miranda James
Murder Past Due - Miranda James

Series: Cat in the Stacks #1

 

A well-known author of crime thrillers is murdered in his hometown and Charlie Harris, a librarian with a Maine coon cat called Diesel, feels compelled to help the cops investigate. The murder mystery aspect was okay although definitely still finding its sea legs, but Diesel is what makes me want to continue this series.

 

I read this for booklikes-opoly square Main Street 10 “Read a book that takes place in a small town in the USA”. This murder mystery takes place in a small college town, so with 294 pages it nets me another $6 for my bank balance. My new total is $220. I’ve landed on this square since the shake-up, but since I didn’t complete a book for it I’m not applying the frequent lander multiplier.

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text 2017-07-13 19:00
Nonfiction Science Book Club: My Suggestions
The Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle Drug - Thomas Hager
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History - Elizabeth Kolbert
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach
The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness - Sy Montgomery
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries From a Secret World - Peter Wohlleben
Adventures in Human Being (Wellcome) - Gavin Francis
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life - Helen Czerski
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari Dr
The Genius of Birds - Jennifer Ackerman
Herding Hemingway's Cats: Understanding how our genes work - Kat Arney

Just my two cents :). I´m really looking forward to be reading some more non-fiction.

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review 2017-07-01 18:29
Mr. Pants: Trick or Feet! - Scott Mccormick, R. H. Lazzell 
Mr. Pants: Trick or Feet! - Scott Mccormick,R. H. Lazzell

I don't understand whether these are cars who are treated like human children, or actual children drawn as cats for some reason. Doesn't matter. I was amused.

Library copy

 

 

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review 2017-07-01 17:45
The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov, Michael Glenny 
The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov,Michael Glenny

inspired "Sympathy for the Devil"

Finally getting to it now that Veronica is spending the summer learning Russian.

***

 

Ban the book; build the buzz.

 

Had it not been suppressed for forty years it wouldn't have become internationally famous. It's a bit of a mess. There's the love story of the Master, a writer, and Margarita. They're both inconveniently and unhappily married to other people, as apparently everyone was in the twenties. Don't worry, the useless-except-as-plot-devices spouses aren't in the book. The Master has written a moving novel about Pontius Pilate which no one will publish, a theme introduced early in the book: it is unacceptable to even consider that Jesus might have been a real person. This novel within the novel presents Pilate as being forced by law and politics to sentence Jesus to death, but far from washing his hands of the job, he strives to save him, to reduce his suffering, and to respect him after the crucifixion. I liked the Master's book and wouldn't have minded more of it.

 

Eventually the book settles down and concentrates on the suffering of the Master, but the first third of the book is devoted to satirizing Moscow's literary and theatrical (think vaudeville) world of the 20s. Not since Dante has a writer so indulged a desire to mock and punish. If these characters aren't real people I hope they're only thinly veiled ones, because otherwise they are too shallow to bother with. Their sins are mostly about getting a better apartment, which in an overcrowded urban environment is no sin at all. 

 

Knowing that this was the inspiration for "Sympathy for the Devil" I had high hopes going in for that character. Jagged and Richards did more and did it better than Bulgakov. He doesn't get to do much, he's just a man who is too old for in unpleasant job, but too decent to leave the hard work to someone else. His staff are all less powerful and less competent, but they seem to derive some pleasure from the business of pointing out folly in humans. Not much fun, really, considering what one might do, but a bit in the end.

 

There is some real fun when we finally get to Margarita: girlfriend gives it all over to being a witch, but it turns out that being a witch is also not as much fun as you might think. Bulgakov 's damned are a parade even he finds to tedious to recount.

 

The book does have a happy ending, for some bleak Russian notion of "happy". No doubt it was fun to write, but the titular characters don't have much agency, and the structure deprives the book of any real momentum until half way through, so even though I did become familiar with Russian names, overall it wasn't very rewarding. I wanted to love it: it features an oversized talking black cat, but even those bits were joyless until the last sixty pages.

 

Maybe the Soviets only suppressed it for being slow, and dull, neither instructive nor entertaining. Or maybe I should quit trying to read Russian fiction, since I never end up liking it. Or both.

 

Library copy

 

Edited to correct typo 

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text 2017-06-26 21:57
Sing to the Moon: Tales from the Kitten Cam (Pickford)
Sing to the Moon: Tales from the Kitten Cam - Jill Pickford

This is a slight book of occasional short stories and poetry that gives me a really disproportionate amount of pleasure: or, at least, I'm sure people would think it disproportionate who aren't also followers of the 24-hour live streams of foster kittens upon which its "characters" are based. Chief amongst these streams, and the only one I follow with any regularity, is the kitten cam of Foster Dad John, a middle-aged IT guy who lives just outside of Seattle, a gentle, knowledgeable cat-lover who is that rarest of males, neither camera-shy nor a grandstander. Though he sometimes gets other assignments, generally he sees a litter of kittens through from birth to adoptable age at 8 weeks or a little older; most often the mother cats are also part of the deal. He takes his educative role seriously, but never pompously, and famously does undignified things like sweeping out his "Critter Room's" floors, building elaborate anti-climbing contrivances (which inevitably fail eventually) and falling asleep on camera with the kittens crawling all over him.

 

Jill Pickford is part of his international following (she's based in Britain), but whereas others content themselves with chatting online, or donating to FDJ's parent shelter Purrfect Pals, or making drawings or craft-y gifts for the kittens' going-away, she has been composing occasion-driven cat point-of-view stories (or verse) for several years now, often helping other viewers through some of the more traumatic events in that little world like the death of a kitten. Encouraged by those other viewers, she has developed that alternate cat world - and chiefly its relation to the "other side" of the rainbow bridge - into a fantasy world with its own rules and dominant characters. The mother cats figure prominently in her stories, as do the fragile kittens who failed to thrive, those of their living siblings whose adoptive owners have signalled tolerance for publicity by inviting cam viewers on to dedicated post-adoptive facebook pages, and the brother and sister cats of those same adopted facebook cats. In short, there is a fairly large circle of reference through social media which pretty much dictates the extent of the expected readership for these stories.

 

That said, in the later stories in the volume, Pickford has allowed herself a bit of freedom from the constraints of real incidents and courtesy to private individuals (including FDJ himself), by inventing whole other lives for cats once they are across the Rainbow Bridge or, in the case of two lost kittens, their "next lives" (since cats have 9). This is where Pickford's generous imagination and clever writing sings, in my opinion - and it is here, too, that there is the opportunity to find readership not just amongst those in the social media fan club.

 

All proceeds go to Purrfect Pals, by the way - like many fan communities, this is a gift culture, as is evident by the wide variety of (international) collaboration that has gone into the publication. Even had it given me far less pleasure than it did, I would have been happy to know that its purchase (it was a generous gift from my sister, another Kitten Cam follower) put a few more pennies into the hands of that worthy shelter.

To find FDJ and his current batch of kittens, google "The Critter Room", or search youtube with that same phrase (youtube is his platform now; he was priced out of his previous one).

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