Monday, December 7, 2015

Review: Homer - The Ninth Life of a Blind Wondercat

I always tell people I'm an avid reader, because picking out what book to read next is exhilarating for me. When my mom told me in 2009 to read a book called Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat, I instantly said that I had already read parts of it for school and didn't like it. I thought she was talking about The Odyssey by Homer and she was not.

Well, it turned out she was talking about a book about a black cat owned by a lady named Gwen Cooper. Of course a book about a black cat meant I was instantly interested. My mom had spent a large portion of one day, lying on the couch and reading Homer's Odyssey. We often shared books, but not super frequently because I did not find myself as interested in memoirs as I do now.

I started Homer's Odyssey and could not put it down. It was not your typical cat story whatsoever, and Gwen had clearly incorporated a story about disabled cats into her book. She might not have known it at the time, but Homer was about to garner a lot of popularity and quite the following.

And here we are in 2015, with Gwen's latest release just hitting the book world - Homer: The Ninth Life of a Blind Wondercat. I was so eager to read the sequel to Homer's Odyssey, and I can tell you that Gwen did not disappoint. Not one drop!

Gwen's writing was so much the same in Homer as it was in Homer's Odyssey that I felt like it was just the perfect continuation. Homer is short but sweet, coming in at 115 pages. Gwen went the self-publishing route, because an industry length book would've required 20,000 more words. And Gwen got the point of her story across in her 115 pages.

I interviewed Gwen in 2009 for my high school newspaper, The W.T. Woodson Cavalcade
Homer's Odyssey covered the first 12 years of Homer's life. Homer covers the last four years. Gwen covers her trials of sending her first Homer's Odyssey manuscript to publishers and celebrating when she finally was published in 2009. Gwen discusses her path to publication and her subsequent book tours.

It was completely evident from Gwen, that she never expected Homer's story to impact so many people. Homer was Gwen's cat, but when she wrote about him for the world to read, he became the world's cat. Everyone who read Homer's Odyssey felt like he was their cat, curled up in their lap as they read his story.
Homer. Image used with permission of Gwen Cooper.

Gwen would get letters and emails of people writing to tell her that Homer inspired them to adopt a blind or disabled cats. She received hundreds of these emails and they were her favorite to get. People from all over the world would share their rescue cats' stories on Homer's Facebook page. Homer's Facebook page even helped raise money for disaster relief affecting animals!

Homer covers Homer and Gwen's rise to fame. Readers will enjoy Gwen's tales of Homer's photoshoots and filming scenarios, that sent Gwen's husband Laurence out to buy turkey to bring on the set!

Homer in catnip action.
Image used with permission of Gwen Cooper.

Homer also allowed Gwen to write about the passing of her cats (and Homer's siblings) Vashti and Scarlett. It was clear to me that the therapeutic writing process of loss was completely there in Gwen's writing. I could feel her pain, because if you've lost a cat or someone dear, you know what that loss is like.

Readers were also introduced to Gwen's new kittens, Fanny and Clayton. Gwen told the story of how they came into their family and the adoration Clayton had for Homer. Clayton had a bad leg infection when Gwen and Laurence adopted him, and ultimately ended up having his leg amputated. But Clayton the tripod was able to run around and play with his sister Fanny, and Homer, all the same.

Since Homer had passed in August 2013, I knew that a portion of Homer would recount his loss.  Homer lived to be sixteen, remarkable for any cat, particularly for such an extraordinary one. Homer beat the odds of a rough start to life, and was so lucky to find a home in Gwen & co.

Meeting Gwen in person, September 2012.

I thoroughly enjoyed Homer, just as I anticipated. Whenever I recommended (and trust me I still do) Homer's Odyssey, I always told the person that Homer had a great life with Gwen and (at the time) was still alive. I always find it difficult to read pet stories where you know in the end that the cat or dog dies. But Homer's Odyssey was not a typical pet story and never will be. Despite that Homer has since passed, his legacy lives on, particularly on his Facebook page and Gwen's website.

Gwen is a phenomenal, New York Times Best Selling Author, philanthropist, animal activist and above all, a wonderful friend. I'm so glad that she got to finish Homer's story in Homer and I cannot wait to see what comes next.

Homer: The Ninth Life of a Blind Wondercat is available now at

If you're interested in reading my past interviews with Gwen, check them out.
2012 Interview with Gwen on Homer's Odyssey
2013 Interview with Gwen on Love Saves the Day

Check out the time Gwen interviewed me as the Inaugural Homer's Hero, here.

Receiving a complementary copy of Homer did not influence my review whatsover. All my opinions are my own. Seriously, I went out and bought a copy of this book even though I already read it - it's that good :)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

SCB's Third Annual Holiday Gift Guide 2015

Welcome back to Sandpiper Cat Blog's 3rd Annual Holiday Gift Guide! This guide is one of my favorite posts to do, because I get to round up all of the great cat themed items out there and share them with you, my readers. I cannot believe this is my third year writing this post, but then again it is hard to believe that I have been blogging for almost FIVE years (in March)!

Bookmark our SCB Holiday 2015 board on Pinterest, as I will update it if I see any other great cat items for the holidays.

See our past guides: 2014 Guide & 2013 Guide.

Category One: Books

Coming December 8, is the much anticipated sequel to New York Times Best Selling Author, Gwen Cooper's Homer's Odyssey: A fearless feline tale, or how I learned about love and life with a blind wondercat. 

The new book, is entitled Homer: The ninth life of a blind wondercat. Homer will be available only on Homer will conclude his story, a life that was very much saved by Cooper. Homer enhanced Cooper's life and changed it for the better, and this 115 page novel spans four years.

Check back on Sandpiper Cat Blog for a review of the new book!

If you know or have tortie/tortoishell cats, you probably know that they are unlike any other felines. Torties have attitude...or as Ingrid King of The Conscious Cat refers to it as, tortitude. King writes about torties from a personal and professional perspective. Expert insights and gorgeous photography will be folded into the pages of this exciting new novel.

King's new book, Tortitude: The BIG book of cats with a BIG attitude, will be available on February 5, 2016. So while you might not be able to physically gift a copy of the book, a pre-order for a friend is just the same! Plus getting gifts in a few months is always fun.

Available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Category One-and-a-half: (Adult) Coloring Books

Adult coloring books are super in right now, and I have to say, there is something really awesome about this fad. I love the soothing motion of coloring in lines, and find it really relaxing. Adults have so much stress in their lives, and coloring books are a great stress relief method. Coloring books are not just for kids anymore! 

Margaret Gates Root of Feline Nutrition Foundation, has designed a wonderful Color Cats book that is one of more to come. She has created, to channel her passion for drawing and cats. The book is presented in landscape style, which is mindful of both right and left handed people (no paws!). The first page has a mouse toy featured on it; and the little mouse is hidden in every drawing through the book. Check out a sample page here!

Available on Amazon.

Another coloring book for adults that is stunning, is BZTAT's Color Me Cats. The return to childhood through coloring books is a great escape from reality, which is much needed. BZTAT's unique style is seen throughout her 25 original drawings. There are even a few dogs seen in the book...can you find them?

Available from BZTAT studios.

Category Two: Cat toys 

I was browsing in World Market the other day, and I saw these little lucky cat toys, made with American catnip! I am a huge fan of Maneki Nekos, the Japanese lucky cat - so I had to pick these up for my cats. The sniffed them out of the shopping bag and everyone instantly loved them. Charlie, Polly, Piper and Vickie spent the night licking them and kicking them - what a hit!

Available from World Market.

I spend a huge amount of time in Target, which means I'm always finding something new and fun to try out. I found myself at the endcap of the pet aisle, which had these adorable cat scratcher houses. Let me just tell you, these houses are a HUGE hit! The cats really enjoy spending time in their little cozy scratch houses. I commend Target for these awesome cat designs - they really are fantastic with a great aesthetic. They fit well tucked away in the corner of your home.

Available from Target in gingerbread and a holiday gift box.

Category Three: Cat Lover Accessories

 Now, we received a CatLadyBox in August 2015 that we really adored! Subscription boxes are all the rage right now, and Dorian Wagner has outdone herself with her CatLadyBox subscription service. Available in the CatLadyBox (2-3 cat themed items) or CRAZY CatLadyBox (same as regular PLUS at least 2 items for your cats). 

Our August 2015 box was exciting and had so many great items.
The prices of the boxes vary and are available to pay month to month, 3 month prepay and 6 month prepay. A wonderful idea for your cat loving friend, there is no way they will be disappointed with a unique array of goodies, handpicked and approved by the CatLadyBox team (yes, that includes Dorian's cats!).

Triple-T Studios has outdone themselves with items this year. I have a particular affinity for these two items, which are great for your cat lady who loves to travel. 

The Catwalk Cosmetic Bag is a great way to store your favorite cosmetics while traveling, whether it's far away or just to work or school. Designed exclusively for Triple-T Studios, this bag even has little pawprints on the back of it!

The Tiniest Tiger Duffle is a sleek black suitcase, with embroidered cats. Proudly pronounce your love for cats while traveling with this machine washable duffel!

Last but not least is for the favorite writer and cat lover in your life! The Cat Lined Kraft Journals from World Market feature two different cover designs with black and white cats. The pages are lined and have a cat on each page. The 96 pages in these journals is plenty of space to write down ideas of all sorts.

Available from World Market here.

Piper and I thank you for joining us for our 3rd annual holiday gift guide! 2015 absolutely flew by, but we cannot wait to see what 2016 brings us.

Happy Holidays and Warm Regards!

Rachel & Sandpiper

Disclosure: Some of the items in this blog post were sent to me for review. Receiving complimentary items did not influence my post or opinion and never will. Some items were purchased with my own money. Sandpiper Cat Blog is not liable for your purchases with third parties.