TIME FOR SOME CATS

As most people who know me know, I’m a cat person (though I like dogs, too), which is part of the reason why, in addition to all the novels about dogs (the mysteries of David Rosenfelt, for instance, and the Chet and Bernie mysteries of Spencer Quinn, as well as the books by W. Bruce Cameron, just to name a few), I’ve gone to some effort to balance the scales and get books featuring cats.  It just so happens that this week we’ve got two new books, both of which have cats as main characters. If you need a break from the ugliness of the world, may I recommend taking one of these books out?

The first is an international bestseller: The Travelling Cat Chronicles, by Hiro Arikawa.  Nana, the cat, has the crooked tail that is a sign of good fortune, and his life has been marked by good fortune since he was adopted as a stray by Satoru.  When his person takes him on a trip around Japan in their silver van, the official story is that Satoru is going to visit three old friends, but after a while it becomes evident that Satoru is looking for someone who can take care of Nana because he is no longer going to be able to do so.  Much of the book is written from Nana’s perspective, and the author obviously knows and loves cats to be able to give Nana a voice that any cat lover will find utterly believable. Japan, its countryside and its people, forms a major character in the book, and, while you have a strong sense that this is not going to be a book with a happy ending, still the relationship between Satoru and Nana is charming and moving, and makes this a lovely escape from the nastiness of current events.

The second is a sequel to last year’s Molly and the Cat Cafe, by Melissa Daley.  At the end of that book, Molly the cat had found herself a home in Debbie’s cat cafe in the little town of Stourton-on-the-Hill, and at the beginning of Christmas at the Cat Cafe, Molly is happily ensconced in feline paradise with her kittens and her person, but naturally things change, and, from Molly’s point of view, the changes are definitely for the worse: first Lidia, Debbie’s sister, moves in with her dog, Beau (much to the cats’ chagrin), and then, to make things even harder, Debbie adopts a new cat for the cafe, and people are starting to pay more attention to Ming than to Molly, leading to serious feelings of jealousy on Molly’s part.  But fear not, Christmas is in the air*, and Molly and her person are going to find some Christmas spirit to make everything work out.

If you’re a cat person, these are definitely the books for you, but even if you’re not, give them a try and you just might find yourself being seduced into looking at our furry friends with a different perspective.

 

*Yes, I know there are people reading this who will cringe at the very mention of Christmas when we haven’t even celebrated Halloween yet, but this is the time of year when the Christmas books come out, so brace yourself.

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KITTY MATCHMAKING: TALK TO THE PAW

Every so often you just need a feel good book. Nothing deep, nothing profound, the equivalent of a Friday Night Movie where you don’t have to think a lot but can just relax and enjoy what you’re watching or reading.  If you’re ready for a feel good book, or if you’re a cat person (we already have established that I’m a cat person, of course), let me recommend Talk to the Paw, by Melinda Metz.

It starts with Jamie, a cat lady who only has one cat, MacGuyver.  Jamie has had it with the whole dating scene; she’s tired of dealing with men who don’t want to commit, men who are totally full of themselves, and men who forget to mention that they’re married. She’s ready to focus her attention on MacGuyver, who’s a charming cat who also happens to have the bad habit of wandering around in the neighborhood and stealing things from other people’s yards and the like.

MacGuyver has ideas of his own, and doesn’t want his human to be lonely, especially when he recognizes that another human in the neighborhood, a male human, seems also to be lonely and in need of companionship.  MacGuyver steals something from David and stashes it at Jamie’s house, and then does the reverse, and as the two people are brought together to try to find their missing items, they begin to discover other things they have in common.

A cat as a matchmaker?  A cute cat who does matchmaking by stealing things and hiding them? Yes, this is a feel good book, and yes, there is a happy ending, and if you’re in need of some feline charm and a happy ending, come and take out Talk to the Paw.

THE CAT CAN FIX IT: THE ASTONISHING THING

There are plenty of books about dogs and how wonderful dogs are.  Albert Payson Terhune made a profession of writing dog books, as did Jim Kjelgaard, and the trope of children’s books, especially award-winning children’s books, focusing on dogs is so well-established that there’s a book called No More Dead Dogs that plays on it.  Understand, I have nothing against dogs, books about dogs, books from the point of view of dogs, you name it.  But as a cat lover, sometimes I find it a little annoying that there are so many dog books and so few cat books, so when I have the chance to get a book from the point of view of a cat, as compared to a dog, I’m happy to snap it up.

Allow me to introduce you to Boo, the feline heroine/protagonist of Sandi Ward’s debut novel, The Astonishing Thing.  Boo is your classic finicky feline, who doesn’t let just anyone into her heart, but she has grown very fond of and even devoted to her human, Carrie.  Carrie provides food and laps and all the good things Boo requires.  Carrie also takes care of the rest of the non-feline family, including her husband, Tommy, her children and the dog (whom Boo refers to as Not-Cat, and isn’t that EXACTLY how you would expect a cat to think of the household dog?), and everything seems to be going well, until one day when Carrie just leaves, and no one, especially Boo, has any idea what happened or why it happened.  The entire household is in disarray, and Boo worries, as cats would, whether anyone is going to remember to fill her food dish, let alone provide a warm lap for her.  But she’s also curious (a definite cat characteristic) about what happened to “Mother.”  She’s been watching the family very closely and she knows that Carrie loved Tommy and the other members of the family. She knows Carrie didn’t stop loving them. So what led to her departure?  And what, if anything, can a good-hearted and insightful cat do to bring the family back together again?

If you’re a cat person, you’ll enjoy this book. Even if you’re not a real cat person, you might just find yourself looking at cats (and their people) in a new light.

 

REIGNING CATS AND DOGS: A DOG’S WAY HOME AND MOLLY AND THE CAT CAFE

Why should people have all the books written about them?  Just because people are the ones writing the books, that doesn’t mean every dog — and cat — shouldn’t have his or her day in literature, and there are two new books at The Field Library that give dogs and cats pride of place as protagonists and prime movers in novels. 

a dog's way home

Bruce Cameron is practically making a living writing about and from the point of view of dogs.  His earlier book, A Dog’s Purpose, was a bestseller and has been made into a major motion picture, and was followed by A Dog’s Journey and The Dogs of Christmas and his new book, A Dog’s Way Home.  Bella, the pit bull protagonist of this book, is a puppy who finds her person, Lucas, when she jumps into his arms from out of an abandoned building. She doesn’t understand why she’s not allowed to bark in her new home or why Lucas is trying to pretend she doesn’t really live there.  She loves going with him to his work at the local VA hospital, where she brings comfort and joy to the patients who need her.  However, her happy life is changed when she’s picked up by Animal Control because the city of Denver, where she lives with Lucas, has a rule against pit bulls.  Lucas tries to do the right thing by sending her temporarily to a foster home, but Bella has other ideas.  She wants to go back to her person and go back she does, over four hundred miles of Colorado wilderness, a journey that should be impossible but turns out to be an unforgettable adventure for all concerned.

molly and the cat cafe

Of course, not everybody is a dog person, and for the cat lovers out there (like me!), we have Melissa Daley’s Molly and the Cat Cafe.  Molly, a tabby cat, had a perfectly good life until her beloved owner died, leaving her to be re-homed with a household containing three cat-hating dogs.  Sure she can do better than this, two year old Molly sets out to find a good home.  The search is not going well until she finds Debbie, the warm-hearted single mother who owns a local cafe.  Debbie is struggling to make the cafe work and take care of her daughter, which becomes more difficult when a local troublemaker reports her to the board of health for having a cat in her restaurant.  Will she have to choose between Molly and her business, or is there a way Debbie and Molly can create the first Cat Cafe in the area?  Well, I’ve already told you I’m a cat lover, so you have reason to suspect this is not going to end badly for Molly, but if you’re in the mood for a heartwarming story about cats and their people, check out Molly and the Cat Cafe.