A Cat's Tale

A Cat's Tale
A Cat's Tale by Baba the Cat

Saving Ruby King

Saving Ruby King
Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

A Cat's Tale by Dr. Paul Koudounaris and Baba the Cat- Feature and Review


A Cat's Tale is a history of feline kind: its origins, the evolution of the relationship with their human companions, and the surprising ways in which feline history parallels that of humanity. From the prehistoric Felis (a large mammal from which all domestic cats have descended) to ancient Egyptian cat goddess, key cats of the Enlightenment to swashbuckling pirate felines and infamous American tabbies, the story of catkind is told here in its totality.



A Cat's Tale: A Journey Through Feline HistoryA Cat's Tale: A Journey Through Feline History by Paul Koudounaris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Cat’s Tale: A Journey Through Feline History by Paul Koudounaris is a 2020 Henry Holt and Co. Publication.

Fun, descriptive, and educational!

This is a non-fictional book about the history of cats, as told by Baba the cat, who narrates the text with the kind of dry wit unique only to cats. The artwork is great, and Baba is very photogenic! A beautiful feline!

Once you’ve completed the book you will certainly understand a cat’s true place in history and in our lives.

Cat’s rule- they know it and you know it- and this book just provides more proof of that fact!

Overall, this is a clever way to explore the history of cats. Cat lovers will love reading about their feline’s ancestors and will enjoy hearing the information from the viewpoint a cat.

Photos of Baba in various costumes are adorable and hilarious and adds much to the charm of the book. The author also provides a list of research resources if you would like to take a deeper dive into the world of felines.

Naturally, as a huge cat lover, this book is right up my alley- and I’m sure all other cat lovers out there will enjoy this book too!



Hello friends! I'm Baba, a little tabby cat with a lot of big ideas. One of them was to tell you all about the history of felines! Because the thing is, and please don't be offended since I know how much you try to love us and understand us, there's so much you just don't realize. About our history, our role in creating society, the valorous things we've done, how much we've triumphed in this world--and how much we've suffered too. So being a very educated sort of cat, I figured, "well I'll just explain it all to them in a book." Heh well, that turns out to be a lot of work (like YEARS, you humans sure make things complicated), and involves some nuisance tasks which are unappealing to the feline temperament, things like typing. So I enlisted my human and dictated it all out to him, and in the end, despite his interference and sometimes bungling, we came up with A Cat's Tale, a book that I am proud of both as an author and as a cat. I hope you will like it too.

Paul Koudounaris is an author and photographer from Los Angeles. He has a PhD in Art History and his publications in the field of charnel house and ossuary research have made him a well-known figure in the field of macabre art and art history. 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel King- Feature and Review


 Set in the South Side of Chicago, an epic, enthralling story of a young woman determined to protect her best friend while a long-buried secret threatens to unravel both their families.

Family. Faith. Secrets. Everything in this world comes full circle.

When Ruby King’s mother is found murdered in their home in Chicago’s South Side, the police dismiss it as another act of violence in a black neighborhood. But for Ruby, it means she’ll be living alone with her violent father. The only person who understands the gravity of her situation is Ruby’s best friend, Layla. Their closeness is tested when Layla’s father, the pastor of their church, demands that Layla stay away. But what are his true motives? And what is the price for turning a blind eye?

In a relentless quest to save Ruby, Layla comes to discover the murky loyalties and dark secrets tying their families together for three generations. A crucial pilgrimage through the racially divided landscape of Chicago, Saving Ruby King traces the way trauma is passed down through generations and the ways in which communities can come together to create sanctuary.

Saving Ruby King is an emotional and revelatory story of race, family secrets, faith and redemption. This is an unforgettable debut novel from an exciting new voice in fiction and a powerful testament that history doesn’t determine the present, and that the bonds of friendship can forever shape the future.



Saving Ruby KingSaving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West is a 2020 Park Row publication.

Friendship, family, the church, and murder all converge with a reckoning with the past…

This debut novel is set in the south side of Chicago, and is mainly centered around Ruby King and her best friend, Layla. When Ruby’s mother is murdered, in the minds of all those concerned, the prime suspect is her father, Lebanon, a man known to horribly abuse his wife.

Layla’s father is the pastor of the Calvary Hope Christian Church, and for some reason, seems to defend Lebanon, and sternly warns his daughter to steer clear of the situation- despite Layla's deep fear that Ruby may do something drastic.

The church is a focal point for the characters, as it raises its unheard voice to reveal long buried secrets that overlap with current events. The true heart of some of its congregation is illuminating, as well. The book describes the importance of the church and how it is a cornerstone of the community. But, it also draws attention to true Christian faith- which is more than warming a pew on Sunday morning by calling out the way some folks conduct themselves outside of the church.

This is a resonant story, with strong elements involving family loyalty, strong friendship bonds, religious faith, trauma and abuse, but also forgiveness, understanding, and healing.

The author employs several unique tactics giving the story a wide -ranging reach, somehow managing to make the location and the church, significant characters, with important roles in the story.

As praiseworthy as the book is, I did have a some issues with the book:

While I love the author’s boldness, the freshness her style offers readers, there are too many first -person points of view, in my opinion.

This is a writing technique I have always struggled with. It seldom ever fully works for me because I have a hard time keeping up with the numerous characters, plus it prevents me from making a deep emotional connection to the characters. This book also has the added challenge of navigating multiple timelines, which made me work much harder than should have been necessary. It was slow going for a while, but I did eventually find a rhythm and flow.

That said, the book, overall, is very good. There is a restless, uneasy quality about it, a strong sense of foreboding that haunted me all throughout the story. It is dark, and it could be intense at times. It is a crime novel, and a mystery, as advertised, but it also touches on deeper, important, subject matter. I would think this book would be a great book club selection!

Although I struggled with this one a little, I still felt this was a strong debut for this author and is one to keep an eye on!



Catherine Adel West is an editor living and working in Chicago. She graduated with both her Bachelors and Masters of Science in Journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana.  Saving Ruby King is her first novel.

Friday, April 16, 2021

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Book Love by Debbie Tung- Feature and Review


Bookworms rejoice! These charming comics capture exactly what it feels like to be head-over-heels for hardcovers. And paperbacks! And ebooks! And bookstores! And libraries!

Book Love is a gift book of comics tailor-made for tea-sipping, spine-sniffing, book-hoarding bibliophiles. Debbie Tung’s comics are humorous and instantly recognizable—making readers laugh while precisely conveying the thoughts and habits of book nerds. Book Love is the ideal gift to let a book lover know they’re understood and appreciated. 


Book LoveBook Love by Debbie Tung
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Love by Debbie Tung is a 2019 Andrews McMeel Publishing publication.

This adorable book is about me. This is me- well with a few slight exceptions. But, basically, if your life revolves around books- If you live them, breathe them, inhale them, hug them, collect them, share them, quote from them…. Etc, Etc. - This book is for you.

This book isn’t a story, it doesn’t have a plot, per se. It is basically a special gift for book lovers, a celebration and homage to books and book nerds. The comic drawings are not overly dramatic, but the expressiveness is what jumps out at you. The passion, the defensiveness and protectiveness towards books and our obsession with them, and the familiar frustration with people who just don't 'get it', resonated with me one hundred percent. I laughed so hard at the dialogue because I’ve said or done these things- often. I have had variations of these arguments and conversations and have had the exact same reactions, thoughts and feelings, at one time or another. The only difference for me is that I've been known to hug my Kindle in the same way I hug a print copy book. This happens more and more often now that I really have come to depend on that large font size- but, I understood the sentiment, all the same.

This book is short and sweet and so easy to relate to. You will see yourself in this book and appreciate the nod to book lovers, and may even experience a feeling of vindication, knowing that you are in good company. This book soothes my introverted soul in ways that may make my eyes leak just a little.

What I can say for sure, is that Debbie Tung is my kind of people. I may not know her personally, but I think she may know me.

5 Amazing Book Nerd Stars!!!






Deborah "Debbie" Tung is a cartoonist and illustrator based in Birmingham, England. She draws about everyday life and her love for books and tea at "Where's My Bubble?" wheresmybubble.tumblr.com. Debbie is also the author of QUIET GIRL IN A NOISY WORLD, which has been listed as a recommended read in O, The Oprah Magazine. Her comics have been shared widely by Huffington Post, 9Gag, Bored Panda, and Goodreads, among others.

Her upcoming book, BOOK LOVE, will be published in January 2019 by Andrews McMeel Publishing.

Follow Debbie on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr @WheresMyBubble. 


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Death by Shakespeare by Kathryn Harkup- Feature and Review


 An in-depth look at the science behind the creative methods Shakespeare used to kill off his characters.

In Death By Shakespeare, Kathryn Harkup, best-selling author of A is for Arsenic and expert on the more gruesome side of science, turns her expertise to Shakespeare and the creative methods he used to kill off his characters. Is death by snakebite really as serene as Cleopatra made it seem? How did Juliet appear dead for 72 hours only to be revived in perfect health? Can you really kill someone by pouring poison in their ear? How long would it take before Lady Macbeth died from lack of sleep? Readers will find out exactly how all the iconic death scenes that have thrilled audiences for centuries would play out in real life.

In the Bard's day death was a part of everyday life. Plague, pestilence and public executions were a common occurrence, and the chances of seeing a dead or dying body on the way home from the theater was a fairly likely scenario. Death is one of the major themes that reoccurs constantly throughout Shakespeare's canon, and he certainly didn't shy away from portraying the bloody reality of death on the stage. He didn't have to invent gruesome or novel ways to kill off his characters when everyday experience provided plenty of inspiration.

Shakespeare's era was also a time of huge scientific advance. The human body, its construction and how it was affected by disease came under scrutiny, overturning more than a thousand years of received Greek wisdom, and Shakespeare himself hinted at these new scientific discoveries and medical advances in his writing, such as circulation of the blood and treatments for syphilis.

Shakespeare found 74 different ways to kill off his characters, and audiences today still enjoy the same reactions--shock, sadness, fear--that they did over 400 years ago when these plays were first performed. But how realistic are these deaths, and did Shakespeare have the science to back them up?


Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings and Broken HeartsDeath by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings and Broken Hearts by Kathryn Harkup
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings, and Broken Hearts by Kathryn Harkup is a 2020 Bloomsbury SIGMA publication.

Incredibly Fascinating!

I am nowhere close to being an expert on Shakespeare, knowing the bare basics at best. Yet, when this book popped up on my radar, I thought it sounded interesting.

This book is a well-researched, detailed study of the various means in which Shakespeare killed off his characters, and how historically and scientifically authentic those death scenes were, compared to the knowledge we have at our disposal today.

While Shakespeare is known for both comedies and tragedies, high drama, intrigue, romance and heartbreak, as we well know, death sells, and Shakespeare provided plenty of it. There were executions, battles, poisonings, plagues, and suicides, to name a few.

I’m not sure how often the authenticity or accuracy of Shakespeare’s death scenes have been questioned or scrutinized over the years, but this author has taken the Herculean task to heart, and her findings are quite surprising.

So, how well did the Bard do? Was he way off course, or astonishingly close to the mark?

Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out. I will give you a few hints, though. Shakespeare did have a few sources at his disposal, providing him with inside information on various subjects, which did help add legitimacy to his writing.

On the other hand, he was woefully off base in some cases- but one also should consider that some scenes were embellished upon by the stage performers, more for dramatic effect than for accuracy.

I’m wondering how many people are taught this information when studying Shakespeare. If they are not, they are missing out on some of the finer points of his writing. People living in the 1500s may have taken things at face value, but they did have the advantage of fully understanding some of the little inside jokes- and I’m not sure how aware the modern student might be of the full context of those nuances.

Overall, trust me, you don’t need to know a lot about Shakespeare, or even like Shakespeare, to enjoy this book. The science is a big promotional point, I’ve noticed, and I agree the author really did pay attention to detail and it is obvious she knows her stuff, but the history is what appealed to me the most.

Because of the subject matter, one might think this book is a bit morbid, and yes, there are some pretty lurid and gross descriptions and details included in the book, but despite that, I learned a great many things I might never have discovered otherwise, and the presentation was actually quite entertaining!

I don’t recall how I stumbled across this book, but I’m very glad I did!



Kathryn Harkup is a chemist and author. Kathryn completed a PhD then a postdoc at the University of York before realising that talking, writing and demonstrating science appealed far more than spending hours slaving over a hot fume-hood. Kathryn went on to run outreach in engineering, computing, physics and maths at the University of Surrey, which involved writing talks on science and engineering topics that would appeal to bored teenagers, and she is now a science communicator delivering talks and workshops on the quirky side of science.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Office: An Oral History by Andy Greene- Feature and Review


The untold stories behind The Office, one of the most iconic television shows of the twenty-first century, told by its creators, writers, and actors

When did you last hang out with Jim, Pam, Dwight, Michael, and the rest of Dunder Mifflin? It might have been back in 2013, when the series finale aired . . . or it might have been last night, when you watched three episodes in a row. But either way, fifteen years after the show first aired, it's more popular than ever, and fans have only one problem--what to watch, or read, next.

Fortunately, Rolling Stone writer Andy Greene has that answer. In his brand-new oral history, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, Greene will take readers behind the scenes of their favorite moments and characters. Greene gives us the true inside story behind the entire show, from its origins on the BBC through its impressive nine-season run in America, with in-depth research and exclusive interviews. Fans will get the inside scoop on key episodes from "The Dundies" to "Threat Level Midnight" and "Goodbye, Michael," including behind-the-scenes details like the battle to keep it on the air when NBC wanted to pull the plug after just six episodes and the failed attempt to bring in James Gandolfini as the new boss after Steve Carell left, spotlighting the incredible, genre-redefining show created by the family-like team, who together took a quirky British import with dicey prospects and turned it into a primetime giant with true historical and cultural significance.

Hilarious, heartwarming, and revelatory, The Office gives fans and pop culture buffs a front-row seat to the phenomenal sequence of events that launched The Office into wild popularity, changing the face of television and how we all see our office lives for decades to come.


The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral HistoryThe Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History by Andy Greene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History by Andy Greene is a 2020 Dutton Books publication.

Just a few thoughts on this one-

If it weren’t for my kids, I doubt I would have ever watched this show when it was still on the air. I missed the first few seasons and only saw a few episodes of the last two seasons, so I’ve always wanted to watch the series from start to finish. Despite having Netflix for a long time, I never quite managed to get past the first season or two.

Recently, Peacock streaming service got the rights back to the show, and so with this book in hand, I’ve started watching a couple of episodes a day. Watching the series now with this companion book has given me a fresh perspective and will make the experience all the more insightful!

The book is organized chronologically – beginning with the British version, how it was transformed for American audiences, introduces us to the writers, etc., then goes through the casting process, and the numerous recognizable names that were on the table for roles on this series.

From there the book breaks down the pilot, the first- the last seasons, featuring the standout episodes, the approach the writers and cast took, and how the series, and everyone associated with it, evolved as the show rose in popularity.

There were situations going on in the background I’d forgotten about- like the writer’s strike, for example. I also had no idea that Creed Bratton was a member of ‘The Grass Roots’, music group back in the sixties and seventies! Huh. An interesting bit of trivia there.


One stand out in this oral history, is the emphasis on Steve Carrell’s real persona, skill, and manner -which was impressive. His spin in Michael’s character was both the backbone and the heart of the show.

I could go on, but because this book is basically a deep dive into all things about ‘The Office’, I’ll leave it for you to enjoy on your own. So, overall, this book will appeal to all fans- big or small – as well as television pop culture enthusiasts.

A fun book- Check it out!!



Andy Greene is from Cleveland, Ohio, graduated from Kenyon College, and is now a senior writer for Rolling Stone, where he’s worked for the past fifteen years. He’s written cover stories about Radiohead and Howard Stern and feature articles about Bill Withers, Nathan Fielder, Steve Perry, Pete Townshend, Stephen King, and many others. He lives in Brooklyn.

Friday, April 9, 2021

FLASHBACK FRIDAY-Tangerine by Christine Mangan- Feature and Review


The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country.

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

Tangerine is a sharp dagger of a book—a debut so tightly wound, so replete with exotic imagery and charm, so full of precise details and extraordinary craftsmanship, it will leave you absolutely breathless.



TangerineTangerine by Christine Mangan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tangerine by Christine Mangan is a 2018 Ecco publication.

I seldom give much credence to author recommendations, having learned a long time ago, that they are mostly meaningless. I've helped authors through various stages of marketing, and trust me, sometimes authors just pull those blurb quotes right out of thin air without even reading the book first.

But… Then I saw that Joyce Carol Oates had written an endorsement for this debut novel, saying:

“As if Donna Tartt, Gillian Flynn, and Patricia Highsmith had collaborated on a screenplay to be filmed by Hitchcock—suspenseful and atmospheric.”

I must admit, I was intrigued, and the synopsis did capture my attention. That, along with a few friend reviews, convinced me to see what all the fuss was about.

I can tell you up front this book may not be for everyone, but I really liked it. The time period- 1950’s, the location- Morocco- sets the stage nicely, for a charlatan tale of obsession and manipulation that left me chilled to the core.

Alice and Lucy were roommates in New York until a horrendous incident separated them. Not long afterwards, Alice got married and moved to Morocco. Now, Lucy has decided to take a vacation to Morocco to visit her old friend-showing up unannounced, out of the blue, without an invitation.

‘Everything changes, sooner or later. Time moves along, without constraints- no matter how hard one may attempt to pause, to alter, to rewrite it. Quite simply, there is nothing to stop it, nothing at all.”

Lucy is shocked by her friend’s condition, the way her husband, John, treats her, and is determined to pull the wool from Alice’s eyes and convince her to go back home with her to New York.
Alice remains torn, slowly coming around to Lucy’s way of thinking- until her husband disappears…

This novel is certainly a slow burner, but the atmosphere alone was enough to keep me invested in the story. There are a few minor issues, places that didn’t gel completely, but books centered around fixations and obsessions must allow for a few inconsistencies here and there, as characters create and absorb information and respond to it, occasionally reacting to revelations in unexpected ways, as we would in reality.

“There were moments when I had thought that I did not so much want her as wanted to be her”

This is one twisted and deliciously wicked little tale and does most assuredly have a whisper of Patricia Highsmith running through it, and a knack for leaving one feeling very unsettled, ala Gillian Flynn. I’m not comparing this book or the author to either one of these authors, or their work, but the atmosphere and clever twists on top of layers of mistrust and re-inventions did put me in mind of them, which leads me to believe JCO may have really read this book and her assessment was spot-on. However, this little gem stands on its own merits just fine and this author is definitely one to watch.

I have the feeling this book may end up being underappreciated, which is too bad, because it really is a very worthy competitor, extremely well written, and certainly a cut above the average, over rated, psychological thriller out there, and most definitely falls into the literary thriller category.

As for me, I am almost embarrassingly grateful and quite appreciative of the work done here. There are so few novels, especially within this genre, written with this type of prose, this ability to create such rich characterizations, against such a vivid backdrop.

“I had realized what a hard place it could be. It was not a place where one simply arrived and belonged- no, I imagined it was a process, a trial, even an initiation of sorts, one that only the bravest survived, it was a place that inspired rebellion, a place that demanded it, of its people, of its citizens. A place where everyone had to constantly adapt, struggle, fight for what they wanted.”

I found the novel to be utterly chilling, but understated, quite unnerving, and well- constructed, especially for a debut novel!

I highly recommend this one to readers who enjoy nuanced, atmospheric, sophisticated, and stylish novels of suspense.





Christine Mangan has a PhD in English from University College Dublin, where her thesis focused on eighteenth-century Gothic literature, and an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Southern Maine. Tangerine is her first novel.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The Comeback by Ella Berman- Feature and Review


Grace Turner was one movie away from Hollywood’s A-List. So no one understood why, at the height of her career and on the eve of her first Golden Globe nomination, she disappeared.

Now, one year later, Grace is back in Los Angeles and determined to reclaim her life on her own terms.

So when Grace is asked to present a lifetime achievement award to director Able Yorke—the man who controlled her every move for eight years—she knows there’s only one way she’ll be free of the secret that’s already taken so much from her.

The Comeback is a powerful and provocative story of justice in the #MeToo era—a true page-turner about a young woman finding the strength and power of her voice



The ComebackThe Comeback by Ella Berman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Comeback by Ella Berman is a 2020 Berkley publication.

Painful, Powerful, and Ultimately Liberating!

After years of intense grooming as a teen star, Grace Turner, now in her early twenties, is right on the cusp of her big acting breakthrough, when she abruptly walks away from Hollywood without a word.

She’s been living under the radar, staying at her parent’s home, coping with addictions, and the pain of internalizing an insidious secret eating away at her.

As the story unfolds, through Grace’s flashbacks, we see the repulsive way she was molded, manipulated, and abused by powerful men in Hollywood.

When Grace returns to Hollywood, staging her 'comeback', she contacts old acquaintances, friends, and lovers- but, ultimately, she must decide how to navigate her life, and how to take control of her own destiny.

This is a dark story, approached with a polished, understated atmosphere which slowly builds tension and emotion as the horrifying truth is unveiled.

The subject matter is handled perfectly, without unnecessary or vivid details. The emotional impact is felt more strongly as a result.

The author states in her notes, that this book was written some months before the #MeToo Movement, which makes her insights even more impressive.

I was impressed with the way the author presented this convincing cautionary tale. It’s raw, dark, and sad, but not heavy handed or strident. The story is submitted with a subtle style, so as not to overpower nor downplay Grace's conflicts, or mettle; yet it still manages to drive home the harsh realities of the abuse she endured.

While nothing about this story should come as a shock at this point, it still boggles the mind that through all of the advances in entertainment, some things never change.

Overall, this is an impressive and timely debut, spotlighting the disturbing imbalance of power in the movie industry, the sickening exploitation of young performers, and the importance of recognizing your worth, your strength, and about having the courage to take control over one’s own life.



Ella Berman grew up in both London and Los Angeles and worked at Sony Music before starting the clothing brand London Loves LA. She lives in London with her husband, James, and their dog, Rocky. The Comeback is her first novel, coming August 11, 2020