Thursday, October 8, 2015

Book Review/Giveaway: The Big Chili by Julia Buckley

From the publisher: Lilah Drake’s Covered Dish business discreetly provides the residents of Pine Haven, Illinois, with delicious, fresh-cooked meals they can claim they cooked themselves. But when one of her clandestine concoctions is used to poison a local woman, Lilah finds herself in a pot-load of trouble…

After dreaming for years of owning her own catering company, Lilah has made a start into the food world through her Covered Dish business, covertly cooking for her neighbors who don’t have the time or skill to do so themselves, and allowing them to claim her culinary creations as their own. While her clientele is strong, their continued happiness depends on no one finding out who’s really behind the apron.

So when someone drops dead at a church Bingo night moments after eating chili that Lilah made for a client, the anonymous chef finds herself getting stirred into a cauldron of secrets, lies, and murder—and going toe to toe with a very determined and very attractive detective. To keep her clients coming back and her business under wraps, Lilah will have to chop down the list of suspects fast, because this spicy killer has acquired a taste for homicide…

This is one fun, fresh, and fabulous debut!!!

Lilah Drake's day job is at her parents' real estate office, but her real passion is her covered dish business, where she makes delicious meals for friends and neighbors that are unable to cook themselves, and allows them to pass the dishes off as their own. At $50 a pop she is stashing away a nice little nest egg, until Alice Dixon, a bossy church lady, drops dead after eating the chili that Lilah secretly provided for bingo night. The lady that hired Lilah to make the chili, Pet Grandy, wants to keep her little secret (and reputation) and Lilah agrees to keep her mouth shut about who really made the chili. This ends up putting Lilah in a very uncomfortable position as she's forced to lie to the detective that she finds herself having feelings for while at the same time trying to protect her flourishing business.

The characters in this book are top notch, from Lilah and her beloved chocolate lab Mick, her new love interest Detective Jay Parker, the eccentric Grandy sisters, and Lilah's various friends, family members, and clients. I was completely surprised by the killer and enjoyed sifting through the clues with Lilah as she arrived at her conclusions.

The end of the book is left very open-ended, and I anxiously await discovering what's next in both Lilah's professional and personal lives.

Giveaway: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Wednesday, October 14th for your chance to win a copy of The Big Chili. (US entries only, please.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Visiting a Veterinary Specialist

I'll never forget the day my veterinarian referred Tara to a cardiologist. Specialty veterinary medicine was something I had never given much thought to, and I was incredibly frightened and overwhelmed. Turns out I wasn't alone - according to a recent survey, 63 percent of dog and cat owners didn’t even realize the field existed.

Like most health care fields, the veterinary profession has become multi-tiered. Most conditions that develop in our pets are first evaluated by a primary care veterinarian. If an animal develops a problem or illness requiring advanced care and procedures, your primary care veterinarian or emergency room veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary specialist. Veterinary specialists work closely with animal owners, as well as the primary care veterinarian, to coordinate the best quality of care.

That’s why the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) and the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) joined forces and recently launched, a comprehensive searchable database of board-certified veterinary specialists worldwide in the areas of large animal internal medicine, small animal internal medicine, cardiology, oncology, neurology, large animal surgery, and small animal surgery. 

Board-certified veterinary specialists are similar to their human medical counterparts in that they have completed an internship and residency in their specialized field (an additional 3-5 years training). In addition to this extensive training, a board-certified veterinary specialist must pass rigorous examinations to achieve board certification from their certifying organization. Specialists bring a deeper understanding in their specialty field, and have a greater knowledge of unusual or uncommon conditions in large or small animals. A specialist may have diagnostic equipment not generally used by your family veterinarian.

In addition to local specialist listings, features an article library of small and large animal diseases, conditions, treatments and procedures – authored by board-certified veterinary specialists, as well as questions a pet owner can consider for discussions with their primary care veterinarian about their pet’s symptoms, and much more.

I did a search of veterinary cardiologists in my area and the top result ended up being Tara's cardiologist: Donald Brown, DVM, PhD, DACVIM at Peak Veterinary Referral Center/Vermont Veterinary Cardiology. I was so fortunate to have such a wonderful doctor less than 10 miles from my home, and credit Dr. Brown with giving me many more months with my precious girl than I would have otherwise had.

Hearing that your cat or dog's medical condition requires a specialist is very scary. aims to empower pet owners with valuable information to help them provide the best possible outcome for their animals.

Have you had any experiences with a veterinary specialist? Tell us about them!

Photo Credit: depositphotos/

Monday, October 5, 2015

Book Review/Giveaway: Faux Paw by Sofie Kelly

From the publisher: Normally, the arrival of an art exhibition at the Mayville Heights library would be cause for celebration. But thanks to the overbearing curator and high-tech security system that comes with it, Kathleen’s life has been completely disrupted. Even Owen and Hercules have been affected, since their favorite human doesn’t seem to have a spare moment to make their favorite fish crackers or listen to Barry Manilow.

But when Kathleen stops by the library late one night and finds the curator sprawled on the floor—and the exhibition’s most valuable sketch missing—it’s suddenly time to canvass a crime scene. Now Kathleen, her detective boyfriend Marcus, and her clever cats have to sniff out a murderous thief, before anyone else has a brush with death…

The Magical Cats Mystery series is quite simply, pure magic. Owen and Hercules are back for their 5th adventure in Faux Paw and more adorable and clever than ever.

An art exhibit has set up shop at the library and Kathleen has been forced to deal with it's very difficult curator, Margo Walsh, and all of the added security that comes with it. The exhibit's focal point is a detailed drawing of a Dakota encampment by military artist Sam Weston, and is worth a small fortune due to the mystery surrounding it. Late one night Kathleen stops at the library to find Margo dead - hit over the dead by a brass cat statue on Kathleen's desk, and the Weston drawing is missing. In addition to a killer on the loose, the exhibit tour is cancelled because the museum is came from is undergoing renovations, so the library is forced to stay closed until it can be moved out.

Our protagonist Kathleen is a lady that I can easily see myself being friends with, and her favorite snack of hot chocolate and peanut butter toast has my mouth watering each time she shares it with her beloved feline friends! Speaking of which, Owen and Hercules seem to be quarreling yet they still manage to lead Kathleen towards important clues. And Kathleen's good friend and veterinarian Roma is facing a huge dilemma in her relationship with hockey player Eddie. The ongoing story lines among the characters make each new book like a reunion with old friends.

Rich characters, a cozy setting, and two extra special felines make this one of the best cat mystery series on the shelves today.

Giveaway: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Friday, October 9th for your chance to win a copy of Faux Paw. (US entries only, please.)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

#SundaySelfie in Hiding

*whispers* Meows from Mudpie!

Shhh...I'm in hiding until Sunday is over!!!

I'll tell you why...quietly...

You all probably know what a huge NASCAR fan Mommy is, and that Kevin Harvick is her favorite driver. Angel Truffles has told me that last fall she was a complete basket case in the weeks leading up to Kevin winning his first Sprint Cup Championship.

Well, it's looking like history isn't going to repeat itself this year. Kevin has had an unbelievable year, leading the regular season points all year with 2 wins, 18 top 5's and 22 top 10's. Now the Chase for the Championship has started and everything is falling apart. Two weeks ago he was wrecked (by another driver who will remain nameless) and last week after leading over 200 laps he ran out of gas.

Today he most likely needs to win in order to advance in the Chase or his season is done. The HBO words have really be flying over the past couple weeks, and I'm too young to hear such things!

So that's why I plan to spend today in hiding because I fear the worst is yet to come!

Check out more of my friends' selfies over at The Cat on My Head.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Caturday Art Quote Challenge

Meows from Mudpie!

Our friends over at The Cat on My Head tagged us to participate in a Quote Challenge where we post 3 of our favorite quotes.

You know those wooden box signs that are all the rage in stores today? Mommy has a bunch of them...and of course they are all cat related!

Since it's Caturday Art day, I suggested that Mommy pick 3 of her favorites and apply them to pictures of me and Angel Truffles to make them look artsy. I think she picked some great ones that really reflect who we are!

I hope you enjoy the quotes we picked! Here are the rules of the Quote Challenge:

* Thank the blogger who nominated you: Many thanks to The Cat on My Head!

* Post three of your favorite quotes (this can be done all in one post or on three consecutive days).

* Nominate 3 bloggers and challenge them. We nominate our friends at Stunning Keisha, A Tonk's Tail and Lola the Rescue Cat.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Get Cozy with Mutts Winter Diaries

This post is sponsored by Mutts Comics

I've been a huge fan of the Mutts comic strip since the very beginning. The strip's focus on animal welfare issues, from Farm Animal Awareness Week to Shelter Stories, depicting pet adoption and pet shelter life, feature important messages for us all. Through the years I've collected each Mutts book as it's been released, figurine sets of the beloved characters, and an assortment of Mutts pajamas. I even named a stray kitty that showed up on my doorstep one summer Mooch, after my favorite Mutts character. I wasn't able to keep him, but he still holds a special place in my heart and I pray he found a wonderful forever home.

With winter on the way, there could not have been a better time to get my hands on a copy of The Mutts Winter Diaries, the second Mutts collection for kids! With Mudpie on my lap and my very first mug of cocoa of the season, I could not have been any cozier. If you are a fan of Mutts, you will love this collection. It, of course, has all of our favorite characters - Shtinky Puddin', Sourpuss, Guard Dog, Bip and Bop, and even Crabby. The strips that McDonnell uses for this collection are quirky and thought provoking, perfect for inspiring children to care for animals and their environment. As a lover of the winter season, the theme of the strips collected in this book were just purr-fect for me, and I also enjoyed the last few pages which features helpful tips on how we can help wildlife during the colder months.

Patrick McDonnell created the comic strip MUTTS, which now appears in over 700 newspapers in 20 countries. MUTTS has been described by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz as “One of the best comic strips of all time.” McDonnell has received numerous awards for this strip, including the National Cartoonists Society’s highest honor, The Reuben, for Cartoonist of the Year, and the strip has won awards for its environmental and animal advocacy.

To celebrate the release of The Mutts Winter Diaries, we were sent a copy of the book and an adorable Mutts sleepshirt designed by Richard Leeds International, and we're so excited to be able to offer you the same package! To enter for a chance to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!
Visit Mutts on social media: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

FTC Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Mutts Comics, which means that I was compensated to feature this content. Regardless of payment received, you will only see products or services featured on this site that we believe are of interest to our readers.