America’s Sleepheart:Chessie the Railroad Kitten

When I was researching historic rail travel, I found the enchanting story of Chessie the Railroad Kitten. Chessie the Railroad Kitten became “America’s Sleepheart”. When the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad needed a new advertising slogan, “Sleep Like a Kitten, Arrive Fresh as A Daisy” emerged starring Chessie.

Chessie soon had a husband, Peake, who went to serve in WWII, and two adorable kittens.

A cat museum opened in Alliance, Ohio and will preserve stories like Chessie’s.

You can see Chessie: The Railroad Kitten at Amazon by clicking on the image above.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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FREE Ebook: Catty Corner on April 17,18,19,20

Enjoy Catty Corner for FREE on April 17, 18,19, and 20th by clicking on the image above or the link below.
Catty Corner (Magical Cool Cats series Book 8)
When an art heist happens during their rooftop cocktail party, Grace, Jack, and magical cool cats, Tatania and Zeus, leap to solve it.
“Where have you been all my life?” A grey haired man asked a young flapper.
“I don’t think I was alive for half of it,” she replied, blowing smoke from a six inch rhinestone cigarette holder. She wore a matching rhinestone headband, necklace and bracelets.
Her laughter carried through the rooftop crowd.
“Enchanted,” Jack Brewster said, pretending he was entering a Speakeasy, and giving a password, when a server opened the door to his atrium leading out to the rooftop. Most speakeasies were dark and dimly lit. Filled with cozy corners for necking. Jack and Grace decided to throw a Speakeasy style party to celebrate their new home on the bay. It was Speakeasy Coronado, where you walked up to a rooftop terrace and watched the sunset.
Tatania, a white Persian cat, and her tuxedo companion, Zeus, lept onto the roof before they looked. They bounded through the crowd and took positions catty corner on the rooftop, blinking at the humans. Zeus spotted a waiter with tuna canapes and rolled over adorably for him. The waiter threw a tuna canape off the tray and Zeus beat a seagull to it by a millisecond.

The Magical Cool Cats Mystery Series can be read in any order. If you’d like to know the chronological order of the series, here it is for you:

**Splendid Summer
**Emeralds, Diamonds, and Amethysts
**Cher Ami
**Available exclusively in Grace, Jack, & Magical Cats Boxed Set Vol I.
Meow Baby
Cupcake Kitty
Meow or Never
Catty Corner
Cat Dance
9 Lives to Live
Meow Now Brown Cow

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The Cat’s Maw (Shadowland Saga Book 1)

Here is the description of The Cat’s Maw by Brooke Burgess from Amazon:

From award-winning storyteller Brooke Burgess (Broken Saints) comes a haunting, touching, and inspired children’s fiction debut – THE CAT’S MAW – the first volume in a contemporary mystery/fantasy epic for brave young readers. With countless rewards for lovers of page-turning adventures, fans of creepy and magical thrills…and, of course, for feline fanatics of all ages!


In the sleepy town of Appleton, a young loner follows a stray cat onto the road and is struck by a car. A leg is shattered, a summer is ruined, and the troubled life of Billy Brahm goes from bad…to cursed.

When the mysterious cat appears at his bedside, Billy is haunted by strange and prophetic dreams — the creatures in them speak of Watchers, and Shadows, and the Enemy that Awakens.

Does this impossible realm hold the key to healing the broken boy? Is the golden-eyed cat there to help him…or to make the nightmares come true?

Too frightened to share the truth with his strict adoptive parents, Billy realizes that the only ones he can turn to are the local vet’s daughter, the town’s ‘crazy cat lady’…

…and a mystical tiger, beckoning from his dreams.

*includes more than 20 original pen-and-ink illustrations by SARA MACHAJEWSKI, along with an exclusive BOOK 2 Preview. ”

Billy bravely navigates a world where he’s been labeled as cursed, hit by a car, and tormented by a rich bully. With the help of a bookmobile librarian and her brilliant cat, a neighbor and her cool cat colony, and a budding love interest with a German Shepherd, Billy conquers his demons.

Billy’s budding love interest, Lynn, is a smart girl who offers sage advice and guidance. The cats are ass-kicking rodent terminators. The beautiful illustrations make it easy to envision this book as a movie. I’m eagerly looking forward to news of a movie adaptation.

You can see The Cat’s Maw at Amazon by clicking on the link below:
The Cat’s Maw (The Shadowland Saga Book 1)

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Cat’s Maw from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

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Here is the description from Amazon:

“A story of inspiration and transformation for the really desperate housewife—now a TV series from the creator of Sex and the City, starring Sutton Foster and Hilary Duff!

She’s old enough to be his mother.

Alice has always looked young for her age, even with her graying hair and her dowdy New Jersey housewife style. Make that ex-housewife: Now that her husband’s gone and her daughter is grown, Alice is in desperate need of a whole new life. So she lets her best friend Maggie, a hip New York City artist, transform her on New Year’s Eve. Soon, thanks to the wonders of hair dye and tight jeans, Alice looks really young, as one night in a Manhattan bar confirms. At midnight, she kisses a boy who was in diapers when she was in high school.

She’s having too much fun to care.

The white lie Alice tells Josh gets her thinking that if no one asks her age, she doesn’t have to tell. So she applies for a job she had briefly before becoming a full-time mom—and gets it. Meanwhile, Josh is falling head over heels for Alice, who’s just way cooler than girls his age. He figures she’s about twenty-nine—and for the first time since she was twenty-nine, or possibly ever, Alice feels that life is ripe with possibility. Unfortunately one possibility is that she’s gonna get caught.

Challenging the adage that the truth will set you free, Younger is a hilarious and insightful story that proves that you’re only as young as you feel.”

Younger, written by Pamela Redmond Satran, and splendidly narrated by Meghan Wolf, offers hours of listening fun. Meghan has a keen narrator’s talent for making voices distinct and telling a story you want to hear.

Younger is the story of a woman redefining herself after her husband’s unexpected departure. As Alice emerges from life as a stay at home mom, she discovers that romance and the job market favor the younger. It’s how Alice handles the expectation and assumption that she’s younger than her chronological age that transforms her.

Alice confronts the proverbial boss from hell with wit and charm and forges her own way in a challenging industry. When a former neighbor mistakes her for her adult daughter, she grapples with whether she should offer a correction. The question of what Alice will reveal to whom and when keeps her story intriguing.

And whether she’s with her boyfriend, best friend, or daughter, she’s so likeable that you’ll find yourself hoping she gets everything she wants in life.

You can see the audiobook edition of Younger on Amazon by clicking on the link below:


Disclosure: I received a copy of Younger from Audible in exchange for an honest review. This post includes affiliate links.

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Jonas Salk: Reluctant Hero, Visionary, and Ladies Man

I love my Kindle for a lot of reasons. One is that when I find a nearly 600 page biography that I don’t want to put down, it doesn’t take any heavy lifting to carry it with me. Jonas Salk by Charlotte Jacobs is a brilliant and thought provoking biography.

All heroes pay a price for heroism. Jonas Salk, beloved son of a determined mother, grew up in a New York tenement. He conquered a virus that not only attacked tenement dwellers but aristocrats like FDR. Americans were terrified of deadly, paralyzing, and unpredictable polio. They wanted a hero. They foisted the mantle of hero on Jonas Salk. For the public’s adulation, that he never sought, Jonas Salk paid the price of jealousy within factions of the science community.

Jonas Salk never won a Noble prize. He was never admitted to The National Academy of Scientists. Yet he always took the high road even when others sniped at him. After introducing the inactive virus vaccine that took the world on the road to eradicating polio, he focused on immunology and Aids.

He was a visionary who lent his name to the creation of The Salk Institute in La Jolla when it became evident that without Salk’s name, funding an institute would be impossible. The Salk Institute attracted Nobel Prize winning scientists. Sadly, certain scientists felt borderline disdain for the gentleman who made the Institute possible and wanted his laboratory space.

The Salk Institute’s design is well-displayed in My Architect, a documentary about its architect, Louis Kahn.

In My Architect, Jack MacAllister, the young architect whom Louis Kahn hired for The Salk Institute appears with a vitality you’ll remember. And Jack MacAllister appears again in Jonas Salk’s biography as one of the few people who seem to wish Dr. Salk well when he marries his second wife, French artist Francois Gilot, famously known as a mistress of Picasso.
The biography also reveals that once Jonas Salk lost his laboratory at The Salk Institute, he spent some of his happiest days with very attractive and smart twenty-something women. It was a life well-lived. I highly recommend Jonas Salk by Charlotte Jacobs for the story of a complex and interesting man who left the world better than he found it. Also, don’t miss My Architect if you have an opportunity to see it.

You can see the Kindle edition of Jonas Salk at Amazon by clicking on the link below:
Jonas Salk: A Life

You can see My Architect at Amazon by clicking on the link below:
My Architect: A Son’s Journey

Disclosure: I received a copy of Jonas Salk from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

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Audiobook Review: Flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival

You can’t listen to Flight 232, A Story of Disaster and Survival, written by Laurence Gonzales and narrated by Victor Bevine, without feeling like you went through this historic plane crash yourself.

Here is the description from Amazon:

“Twenty-five years after the catastrophe, a dramatic and extraordinarily rare 360-degree view of the crash of a fully loaded jumbo jet.

As hundreds of rescue workers waited on the ground, United Airlines Flight 232 wallowed drunkenly over the bluffs northwest of Sioux City. The plane slammed onto the runway and burst into a vast fireball. The rescuers didn’t move at first: nobody could possibly survive that crash. And then people began emerging from the summer corn that lined the runways. Miraculously, 184 of 296 passengers lived.

No one has ever attempted the complete reconstruction of a crash of this magnitude. Drawing on interviews with hundreds of survivors, crew, and airport and rescue personnel, Laurence Gonzales, a commercial pilot himself, captures, minute by minute, the harrowing journey of pilots flying a plane with no controls and flight attendants keeping their calm in the face of certain death. He plumbs the hearts and minds of passengers as they pray, bargain with God, plot their strategies for survival, and sacrifice themselves to save others.

Ultimately he takes us, step by step, through the gripping scientific detective work in super-secret labs to dive into the heart of a flaw smaller than a grain of rice that shows what brought the aircraft down.

An unforgettable drama of the triumph of heroism over tragedy and human ingenuity over technological breakdown, Flight 232 is a masterpiece in the tradition of the greatest aviation stories ever told.”

None of the details are sanitized. You’ll learn about clothes burned onto bodies, a severed arm found nearby, and the practice of mapping bodies in a field for the morgue. Flight 232 led to changes in forensic dentistry. At the time it crashed, it was necessary to forcibly break a jaw to identify a dead body by teeth. Today a much less invasive digital technique is available.

From the pilots who landed the plane with a mechanical failure that would have made it impossible to land in less capable hands, to a man who rushed back in the burning plane to save a baby not his own, to the people on the ground who gathered to help when they saw the emerging disaster, Flight 232 is a story of heroes. This is a book that will stay with you a long time.

You can see the audiobook edition of Flight 232 on Amazon by clicking on the link below:

Flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival

Disclosure: I received a copy of Flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival from Audible in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

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Ooh la la. My Paris Dream by Kate Betts

Ooh la la. My Paris Dream by Kate Betts is the best Paris memoir since Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. This isn’t one of the detached collections of vignettes about going to the market or Luxembourg Gardens that limply passes as a memoir of Paris. This is real life written by an American expatriate who lived and loved in Paris.

Just as A Moveable Feast makes you feel like you’re in 1920s’ Paris, My Paris Dream transports you to 1980s’ Paris, where they’re talking about the beginning of the chunnel connecting Paris and London and the American “cowboy President”. Kate Betts propels herself to a fabulous job at Fairchild Publications where her boss, when giving her an assignment in Provence, tells her, “Run through the lavender fields!”

Most of us, okay, all of us, will never have a boss who says, “Run through the lavender fields,” but you don’t have to be a fabulous reporter and editor to relate to the timeless stories of following a dream, falling in love, falling out of love, becoming consumed by work, and redefining yourself. She meets everyone in haute couture. There’s a charming story about meeting Christian Louboutin that I don’t want to spoil by posting here. It’s worth reading yourself to fully enjoy.

And there’s a reverence for Paris on nearly every page. That’s why I’m going to recommend My Paris Dream like I recommend A Moveable Feast. That doesn’t mean it’s all glam. It’s the author’s resolute determination to keep going even when she experiences bumps that reminds you of Hemingway’s wise quote: “Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it.”

You can see My Paris Dream at Amazon by clicking on the link below:
My Paris Dream: An Education in Style, Slang, and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine

Disclosure: I received a copy of My Paris Dream from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

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Mailbox Monday (3)

The Great Divide: The Conflict between Washington and Jefferson that Defined a Nation by Thomas Fleming. This book will be released on March 10, 2015. Thank you to Netgalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Thank you Audible for a review copy of this audiobook of the AMAZING story of pilots who flew a plane without controls and the 184 out of 296 passengers who survived.

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Then You Happened

Here is the description from Amazon:

“When Sierra’s father died, he left her in charge of the family business. At the age of twenty-eight, Sierra Adams became CEO of Adams Advertising & Design, one of the top ten advertising agencies in the world. Her work was her life. She lived and breathed it every day, leaving little time for play. Having once been in a relationship that completely destroyed her, Sierra vowed to use men for one thing only: SEX. No strings, no problems, and most importantly, no heartache.

Cameron Cole is an ordinary guy that makes a living as a carpenter. He’s a simple man who’s happy with life the way it is. He does a job he loves, has a great group of friends, and a close knit family.
When Sierra hires Cameron to remodel her Hollywood Hills home, their happy little worlds are turned upside down. She likes the rich things in life and he likes the simple things. While there’s no denying the strong attraction between them, they form a hilarious friendship where sex is the only thing Sierra wants. Cameron can’t help but want more and makes it his mission to bring Sierra into his simple world and show her that there’s more to life than just all work and money.

Take Cameron and Sierra’s journey in this romantic comedy as they discover that when life hands you limes, you have no choice but to break out the tequila.

This book is for readers 18+ due to mature theme and language”

Sierra is a fearless and funny heroine. Listening to the fun banter between Sierra and Cameron made me glad I chose the audiobook edition of Then You Happened by Sandi Lynn. This contemporary romance is well-performed by narrators Emma Woodbine and Brian Pallino.

Cameron has enough confident masculinity to keep him from being intimidated by Sierra’s CEO status. He takes her from the boardroom to outdoor spontaneous sex on a boat. The whole outdoors is their love nest. And writer Sandi Lynn brings emotional layers to their story. Then You Happened is the first in a series by Sandi Lynn.

You can see the audiobook edition of Then You Happened at Amazon by clicking on the link below:
Then You Happened

Disclosure: I received a copy of Then You Happened from Audible in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

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Everything I Never Told You; Everyone Has Secrets

When I first heard that Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng was Amazon’s pick for best book of 2014, I was almost reluctant to read it because I thought it might be hyperbole. It wasn’t hyperbole.

Everyone has secrets. In Everything I Told You, written by Celeste Ng, and beautifully narrated by Cassandra Campbell, everyone in a family learns unexpected things about themselves and the people around them.

James, a Chinese-American history professor who enjoys seeing people look surprised when he says he teaches American history, is married to Marilyn, a pretty blonde still bitter that her desire to be a doctor was thwarted by teachers in the 1950s. They told her she’d be too distracting to the boys in Science classes. Both parents compete to be the favorite of their favorite child: Lydia.

Lydia’s burden, and one of the reasons she’s ill-prepared for surprises in life is that everyone expects her to know everything already -that’s the mantle we place on the gifted. When Lydia dies, feeling “how suffocating to be so loved”, her parents and her siblings, Nate and Hannah, discover layers of secrets within themselves. And that reveals the mystery of how and why Lydia died.

Everything I Never Told You moves seamlessly through the viewpoints of different characters. Told from Lydia’s perspective, it reminded me a little of The Lovely Bones.

Everything I Never Told You is a book that will draw you back until you finish reading it. That’s one of the reasons I love audiobooks. You can’t always drop everything and go back to reading; but you can listen to a good story while you’re driving or making dinner. I’m glad I chose the audiobook for Everything I Never Told You.

You can see Everything I Never Told You at Amazon by clicking on the link below:
Everything I Never Told You: A Novel (Alex Awards (Awards))

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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