Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: The Secret Language of Cats by by Susanne Schötz

Humans and cats: two different species with a common language that bridges the divide between them--is such a thing even possible? ~ Opening of The Secret Language of Cats


The Secret Language of Cats: How to Understand Your Cat For A Better, Happier Relationship 
by Susanne Schötz, translated by Peter Kuras
Hanover Press, 2018
Nonfiction; 272 pgs

My love for cats is obvious by just one look at my blog. And so when I was asked if I was interested in reviewing The Secret Language of Cats as part of the TLC tour, it did not take long for me to say yes. I grew up with dogs and was well into adulthood when I took in my first cat. I have had cats in my life for just over sixteen years now. I think I am fairly good at guessing some of what my cats want by the sounds they make and their body language and behavior. I am by no means an expert though.

In Susanne Schötz's novel I found both validation and also new insight into my cats and the various sounds they make. Dr. Schötz has the advantage of being a linguist, with an ear for variations in sound quality, syllables, melodies and prosody. She is a professor at Lund University in Sweden, and has extended her interest in human phonetics to that of cats. Her interest in cat sounds and language grew from her love for cats as well as her love for research. As I read her book and even after, I find myself listening more carefully to the sounds my cats are making, trying to discern some of the detail in the sounds they make. It isn't easy for someone with an untrained ear, but hopefully with time it will get easier.

Cats and humans do not share the same language, and while research has shown cats do have common identifiable sounds, there is variation between cats. While some sounds are universal, others may not be. Cultural, geographic and breed-based differences exist. Just how much cats pick up from their humans and to what degree they adjust their language to be understood by us is still under investigation, but the belief is that this does occur.

I liked that the author went into detail about cat behavior along with the different sounds they may be making. The two go hand in hand and can make the difference in what a cat may want or be trying to convey. The author also gave concrete examples of a variety of situations, many of which are based on her experiences with her own cats.

Dr. Schötz is as methodical in her research as she can be. She understands that studying cat language is a challenge in and of itself. I appreciated her techniques and preference for conducting any research in a cat's natural setting, not to mention putting as little stress on them as possible. No labs or invasive medical procedures were used. Simply the home environment and recording devices--and lots of time. You cannot expect a cat to purr contently in while in a stressful laboratory, after all.

Dr. Schötz hopes that her research will not only give us a better understanding of cat language, but also how that understanding can improve our relationships with cats both on the home front and in such areas as animal therapy, veterinary medicine and animal sanctuaries.

Towards the end of her book, Dr. Schötz talks a little about her current project, Meowsic, which deals most specifically with using cats in animal therapy. While dogs tend to be the go to animals because of their high train-ability and excellent noses, cats have proven to be good companions too.

Although at times a bit dry due to the detailed descriptions and breakdown of the various vocalizations a cat can make, I enjoyed Dr. Schötz's The Secret Language of Cats and found it to to be a fascinating read. Perhaps some of what I have learned in this book will improve my own relationship with my cats.


Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

I hope you will check out what others had to say about The Secret Language of Cats on the TLC Book Tours route!


Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour.  Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review.





© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Waiting to Read Wednesday (#23)



The Old(er) 
I have an embarrassing number of unread books sitting on the shelves in my personal library. Carole of Carole's Random Life in Books has given me the perfect excuse to spotlight and discuss those neglected books in her Books from the Backlog feature. After all, even those older books need a bit of love! Not to mention it is reminding me what great books I have waiting for me under my own roof still to read!


Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos (Plume 2006)
When Martin Grace enters the hip Philadelphia coffee shop Cornelia Brown manages, her life changes forever. But little does she know that her newfound love is only the harbinger of greater changes to come. Meanwhile, across town, Clare Hobbs--eleven years old and abandoned by her erratic mother--goes looking for her lost father. She crosses paths with Cornelia while meeting with him at the café, and the two women form an improbable friendship that carries them through the unpredictable currents of love and life. [Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: I have had this one my shelf since 2008, when the second book in the series came out (I have that one too). I have heard wonderful things about this book and author. 



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The New
Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by the marvelous Tressa at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss upcoming release we are excited about that we have yet to read.



Josephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones
Release Date: December 4, 2018 by Gallery Books
Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine's early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.

With intimate prose and comprehensive research, Sherry Jones brings this remarkable and compelling public figure into focus for the first time in a joyous celebration of a life lived in technicolor, a powerful woman who continues to inspire today.
 [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: The name Josephine Baker is enough to draw me in. What an amazing woman! I am looking forward to reading this one quite a bit.


For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt
Release Date: December 11, 2018 by MIRA
Till death do us part. 
When they fell in love back in law school, Natalie and Will Clarke joked that they were so brilliant, together they could plan the perfect murder. After fifteen rocky years of marriage, they had better hope they’re right. 
Their young son Jacob’s principal is accused of molesting a troubled student. It’s a horrifying situation—and the poison spreads rapidly. One night before bed, Jacob tells Natalie he is a victim, too. In that moment, her concept of justice changes forever. Natalie decides the predator must die. 
To shelter Jacob from the trauma of a trial, Natalie concocts an elaborate murder plot and Will becomes her unwilling partner. The Clarkes are about to find out what happens when your life partner becomes your accomplice—and your alibi. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: I cannot even imagine what Natalie must be feeling when she learns what happened to her son. Murder wouldn't be far from my mind either (although I don't think I could carry it out).


His Dark Magic (Northern Circle Coven, #1) by Pat Esden
Release Date: December 11, 2018 by Kensington Books
Its power is legendary. It can fulfill every impossible magical desire. But for one young witch seeking redemption, the Northern Circle coven will challenge her skills—and her heart—beyond measure.

One tragic impulsive mistake made Chloe Winslow an outcast to her influential magic family. As a medical student, she wants to combine science with sorcery to heal those she hurt and right her wrongs. But brilliant, charismatic Devlin Marsh re-routes her plans with a once-in-eternity offer: membership in the exclusive Northern Circle, a mysterious Vermont coven known for pushing the limits.

Enthralled by Devlin and their mesmerizing mutual attraction, Chloe makes a dangerous sacrifice to help the Circle’s high priestess awaken Merlin himself—and learn his timeless cures. But a foreshadowing soon causes Chloe to doubt the Circle's real motives, as well as Devlin’s . . .

Now Merlin's demonic shade is loose in the human world, while Chloe and Devlin's uneasy alliance will pit them against ancient enemies, malevolent illusions, and shattering betrayal. And with the fate of two realms in the balance, Chloe must risk her untried power against a force she can't defeat—and a passion that could destroy her. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: A witch, a coven, fighting an ancient evil . . . I want to be a part of this!


Do any of these books appeal to you? Have you read them?


© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Sunday Mews: November TBR List Poll Winner & Culling the Bookshelves

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by the wonderful Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where participants recap our week, talk about what we are reading, share any new books that have come our way, and whatever else we want to talk about. 

What I Am Reading:  I have mostly been reading Tolstoy's War and Peace as I waited for my November TBR List poll to close this weekend. I actually finished all of November's reading assignment and am now ready to begin the epilogues, which will bring me to the end. I will tell you more about what Mouse and I are reading in my next Mouse's corner. I think it will make several of you happy. I can already hear the "I told you so's."

What I Am Watching: A lot of  Odd Squad and Mission Force One thanks to my daughter. Mission Force One is a spin-off of Disney's cartoon Miles in Tomorrowland. Last weekend we joined several of our friends from the dance studio to see The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. We all enjoyed it. There was quite the applause and cheering when Misty Copeland came on screen from our group.

Off the Blog: This past week took a lot out of me emotionally. With work, the mid-term elections, mass murder, wildfires, and a pesky cold (which I will take any day over murder and fire), I just wanted to pull the blanket over my head and stay in bed. Our friends and family are safe, thankfully.

I spent the weekend going through mine and my daughter's bookshelves, organizing books, and pulling out ones to give away. I managed to get some Christmas shopping done. And we all now have new shoes (which were long overdue). Two of Mouse's Nutcracker costumes came in, and I got the list of accessory and hairstyle requirements, which always stresses me out some. Tickets are officially on sale! I wish you could all come.

My donation pile

Mouse's donation pile

Laundry baskets make comfy resting spots:




Thank you for helping me decide what book from my TBR collection I should read next:

My TBR List is a meme hosted by the awesome Michelle at Because Reading. It’s a fun way to choose a book from your TBR pile to read. The 1st Sunday of every month, I will list 3 books I am considering reading and take a poll as to which you think I should read. I will read the winner that month, and my review will follow (unfortunately, not likely in the same month, but eventually--that's all I can promise). 





Looks like Bells, Spells, and Murder by Carol J. Perry won with 6 votes! I am oh-so-ready for a Christmas themed book right now, and this one sounds perfect. Thank you to all who voted!


I hope you all have a wonderful week! Happy Reading!


© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Waiting to Read Wednesday (#22)



The Old(er) 
I have an embarrassing number of unread books sitting on the shelves in my personal library. Carole of Carole's Random Life in Books has given me the perfect excuse to spotlight and discuss those neglected books in her Books from the Backlog feature. After all, even those older books need a bit of love! Not to mention it is reminding me what great books I have waiting for me under my own roof still to read!


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Crown Publishing 2010)
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.

Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo — to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.

Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family — past and present — is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?

Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this one: Everyone was singing the praises of this one when it first came out, and I knew I just had to read it. I still haven't managed to get to it, although I still hope to read it one of these days.

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The New
Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by the marvelous Tressa at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss upcoming release we are excited about that we have yet to read.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
Release Date: December 4, 2018 by Atria Books
A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this one: I loved The Thirteenth Tale and after reading the synopsis  of this one, I knew I had to read it. I am already intrigued!


Before We were Strangers by Brenda Novak
Release Date: December 4, 2018 by Mira Books
Something happened to her mother that night. Something no one wants to talk about. But she's determined to uncover her family's dark secrets, even if they bury her.

Five-year-old Sloane McBride couldn't sleep that night. Her parents were arguing again, their harsh words heating the cool autumn air. And then there was that other sound--the ominous thump before all went quiet.

In the morning, her mother was gone. The official story was that she left. Her loving, devoted mother! That hadn't sat any better at the time than it did when Sloane moved out at eighteen, anxious to leave her small Texas hometown in search of anywhere else. But not even a fresh start working as a model in New York could keep the nightmares at bay. Or her fears that the domineering father she grew up with wasn't just difficult--he was deadly.

Now another traumatic loss forces Sloane to realize she owes it to her mother to find out the truth, even if it means returning to a small town full of secrets and lies, a jilted ex-boyfriend and a father and brother who'd rather see her silenced. But as Sloane starts digging into the past, the question isn't whether she can uncover what really happened that night...it's what will remain of her family if she does?  [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this one: Doesn't this sound deliciously thrilling? I love a good story about buried secrets being unearthed. 


Do any of these books appeal to you? Have you read them?


© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker

I sit on the edge of the bed waiting, the day I've feared for months finally here. ~ Opening of The King Slayer


The King Slayer (The Witch Hunter, #2)  by Virginia Boecker
Little, Brown Books for Young Reader, 2016
Fantasy (YA); 377 pgs

Elizabeth Grey was once the only female on Lord Blackwell's elite group of witch hunters, finding and meting out justice to those they found guilty of witchcraft. In the previous book, The Witch Hunter, Elizabeth suddenly found herself on the other end of the spectrum, herself accused of witchcraft. On the run and suddenly the target of all the witch hunters, Elizabeth makes some unlikely allies who came to her aid.

Although Elizabeth and her new found friends were able to come out on top at the end of The Witch Hunter, it was just the beginning of the horrors to come. With Lord Blackwell angrier than ever and more desperate for power, war is sure to come and no one is safe.

Elizabeth does not have the same strength or power she did in the previous novel, but her skills as a fighter and assassin remain formidable. She is hiding among those she once saw as the enemy of the kingdom, and there is no love loss from the witches and wizards she once had targeted. They do not exactly trust her. When her healer boyfriend begins showing the strain of being under the stigma and turns against her, Elizabeth feels she must solve this problem on her own. She must take out Lord Blackwell. She knows this will likely mean her death.

I had enjoyed The Witch Hunter quite a bit, and The King Slayer was just as good in its own way. It is much more action-packed and tense. With every decision made and step taken, the suspense builds, leaving me turning the pages as quickly as I could. I really felt for Elizabeth and the situation she was in. While I think she did not always make the wisest of choices, I could see why she made them.

It was good to see some of the returning characters and get to know them a bit better, particularly John (the healer) and Shulyer (a reverent). I wouldn't have minded a bit more time with Fifer though. An interesting twist I was not expecting was the appearance of the usurped king, who has a fairly bad reputation among the witches and wizards--and for good reason. His relationship with Elizabeth is a complex one to say the least, and it was interesting to see how the two interacted in this second novel. I admit to not liking, even hating, his character in The Witch Hunter, and I certainly did not warm to him, not even by the end of this book. Although, I do think he had changed and grown as a character. Some things though are hard to forgive.

The King Slayer takes the reader deeper into the conflict between the kingdom and the witches and wizards. The Witch Hunter was richer in world building and The King Slayer more action-packed. However, the use of magic in this one seemed more diverse and unique. I thought the power shift between some of the characters, particularly John and Elizabeth, was interesting, and added a different layer to the overall stories between the two books. 

To learn more about author Virginia Boecker and her work, please visit the author's website


© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.