Sunday, December 09, 2018

Bells, Spells, and Murder by Carol J. Perry

It was the first day of December in Salem, Massachusetts, my hometown. ~ Opening of Bells, Spells, and Murder by Carol J. Perry

Bells, Spells, and Murders (Witch City Murder, #7) by Carol J. Perry
Kensington, 2018
Crime Fiction (Cozy); 371 pgs
Source: Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

Lee Barrett loves her job as the new field reporter for WICH-TV in Salem. While on assignment to interview the head of the city's Holiday Walk Committee, Lee finds him dead at his desk. Lee evidently is not new to murder investigations (after all, this is the 7th book in the series), but it does not make stumbling on a dead body any easier. Putting her investigative reporter skills to good use and piecing together her psychic visions, Lee sets out to find a murderer and uncover the cause of some unusual occurrences she has begun to observe.  Can she do it before too many more bodies pile up and before the big blizzard comes to town? 

Bells, Spells, and Murders is my first introduction to Lee Barrett, Aunt Ibby and their perceptive cat O'Ryan. I enjoy a good paranormal cozy mystery, and I am happy to say this was a good one. A reporter makes a good protagonist in the mystery genre. They have the perfect excuse for interfering in a police investigation--not only to get to the bottom of the crime for justice sake, but also to get their scoop. Lee Barrett is a likeable character: conscientious, good at her job, and clever. Her romantic relationship with a police detective gives her a bit of an edge, even if he is not as forthcoming with information as she might like. 

The paranormal element in the novel is definitely there, but is not overwhelming. Lee has visions that offer her clues, but the clues are often unclear. There is also an appearance or two by a witch who reads Tarot cards. And, of course, O'Ryan's helpful direction now and then. It is all subtle enough that I do not think either particularly lended to the solving of the crime, and so for those who may not care as much for the paranormal, you still might enjoy this cozy.

This made a great holiday read, given the holiday time setting, as Lee gets in some of her Christmas shopping, picks out her tree, and does stories on various holiday events around Salem. I enjoyed going along with Lee and her camera woman as they carried out their various assignments. I liked the mystery itself--the occasional twist and the resolution was satisfying, even if not a complete surprise. Bells, Spells, and Murders was an entertaining read, a perfect way to ring in the Christmas season! 

For more information about the author and her books, visit her website

© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

December's TBR List Poll Winner!

Thank you for helping me decide what book from my TBR collection I should read next:

My TBR List is a meme hosted by the awesome Michelle at Because Reading. It’s a fun way to choose a book from your TBR pile to read. The 1st Sunday of every month, I will list 3 books I am considering reading and take a poll as to which you think I should read. I will read the winner that month, and my review will follow (unfortunately, not likely in the same month, but eventually--that's all I can promise). 

It is a tie! Now that I have officially finished my two big year long reads, Tolstoy's War and Peace and Hugo's Les Misérables (both in the same week!), I am okay with this outcome. I can dedicate the rest of the year to lighter reads. So I say, bring it on!

It was a close race. The losing book, Wishing Cross Station by February Grace, got five votes while the other two each received six.

The winners are:

A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

A Brazen Curiosity (Beatrice Hyde-Clare Mysteries, #1) by Lynn Messina
Thank you to all who took the time to vote! 

© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Waiting to Read Wednesday (#26)

The Old(er) 
I have an embarrassing number of unread books sitting on the shelves in my personal library. Carole of Carole's Random Life in Books has given me the perfect excuse to spotlight and discuss those neglected books in her Books from the Backlog feature. After all, even those older books need a bit of love! Not to mention it is reminding me what great books I have waiting for me under my own roof still to read!

Coraline by Neil Gaiman (2002, Harper Collins)
The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring....

In Coraline's family's new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.

The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only it's different.

At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there's another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself. [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this one: I have long wanted to read this book, and it has been sitting on my shelf for years now. I have loved everything I have read by Gaiman so far and this sounds like such a fun creepy read. My daughter tried to watch the movie once and got scared so didn't finish it. She wants me to hurry up and read the book so she can try the movie again, this time with me. 


The New
Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by the marvelous Tressa at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss upcoming release we are excited about that we have yet to read.

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye
Release Date: January 8, 2019 by G.P. Putnam Sons
The new and exciting historical thriller by Lyndsay Faye, author of Edgar-nominated Jane Steele and Gods of Gotham, which follows Alice “Nobody” from Prohibition-era Harlem to Portland’s the Paragon Hotel.

The year is 1921, and “Nobody” Alice James is on a cross-country train, carrying a bullet wound and fleeing for her life following an illicit drug and liquor deal gone horribly wrong. Desperate to get as far away as possible from New York City and those who want her dead, she has her sights set on Oregon: a distant frontier that seems the end of the line.

She befriends Max, a black Pullman porter who reminds her achingly of Harlem, who leads Alice to the Paragon Hotel upon arrival in Portland. Her unlikely sanctuary turns out to be the only all-black hotel in the city, and its lodgers seem unduly terrified of a white woman on the premises. But as she meets the churlish Dr. Pendleton, the stately Mavereen, and the unforgettable club chanteuse Blossom Fontaine, she begins to understand the reason for their dread. The Ku Klux Klan has arrived in Portland in fearful numbers–burning crosses, inciting violence, electing officials, and brutalizing blacks. And only Alice, along with her new “family” of Paragon residents, are willing to search for a missing mulatto child who has mysteriously vanished into the Oregon woods.

Why was “Nobody” Alice James forced to escape Harlem? Why do the Paragon’s denizens live in fear–and what other sins are they hiding? Where did the orphaned child who went missing from the hotel, Davy Lee, come from in the first place? And, perhaps most important, why does Blossom DuBois seem to be at the very center of this tangled web? [Goodreads Summary]
Why I want to read this: After reading and falling in love with Jane Steele, I will read anything Lyndsay Faye writes. It helps that this book sounds really good too! A bit of history mixed in a thriller? I must read this one!

A Literal Mess by J.C. Kenney
Release Date: January 8, 2019 by Lyrical Underground
The first book in a new series featuring Allie Cobb brings the New York literary agent back to her Hoosier home town where a mysterious death keeps everyone on spoiler alert...

Allie Cobb left home for the literary circles of Manhattan to make her name out from under the shadow of her legendary father. Now his death brings her and her rescue cat Ursula back to the southern Indiana town of Rushing Creek, population: 3,216. But a tragic new chapter hits the presses when the body of her father’s hard-drinking, #1 bestselling client is found under the historic town bridge. The local police suspect foul play and their prime candidate for murder is the author’s daughter—Allie’s longtime friend.

Determined to clear her bestie, Allie goes into fact-checking amateur detective mode while trying to ignore the usual rumormongers. Those with means, motive, and opportunity include the vic’s ex-wife, his rejected girlfriend, the mayor, and a rival agent trying to mooch clients. With a rugged genealogist distracting her and the imminent Fall Festival about to send tourists descending on their once-peaceful hamlet, Allie needs to stay alive long enough to get a read on a killer ready to close the book on a new victim: Allie . . . [Goodreads Summary]

Why I want to read this: It's hard to resist a cozy featuring anyone in a profession related to books. And I definitely can't resist a cat named Ursula.

Do any of these books appeal to you? Have you read them?

© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

The ringing of the phone jerked me from my sleep. ~ Opening of Magic Slays

Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, #5) by Ilona Andrews
Berkley Publishing, 2011 
Fantasy; 308 pgs
Source: Gift from my husband

It has been too long since I last read a Kate Daniels' novel. Way too long. I admit I felt a little lost at first, but soon found my footing again. Oh, how I love this series! Kate is trying to get her private detective agency off the ground, but without much success. It doesn't help that her mate is the Beast Lord, Curran, whose bad side no one wants to get on. When a call comes in from Atlanta's premier Master of the Dead, Kate's is wary. He needs her help catching a vampire who is on the loose. And then another client walks through her door--an unexpected client whose business Kate sorely needs. Kate takes the case despite the reservations of her friend and new-hire Andrea. Faced with a major threat to all those who possess magic, Kate is working against the clock to save the imperfect world they live in. It means bringing together groups of people who would rather see each other dead. Will she be able to pull it off?

The reader gets more of a glimpse into Kate's backstory, particularly of her mother and father's relationship. It sheds a lot of light into how Kate became the Kate we know today. We also see more of Julie in this fifth book in the series, and her story line is particularly heartbreaking. It's yet another example of the messed up world the characters in the series live in.

I am a big fan of Kate and Curran as a couple. The two have such good chemistry. And although Kate still sometimes doubts Curran's  true feelings for her (can we blame her with her past?), he does seem to really love her and is willing to support in her in (just about) anything. Kate is not a woman who needs to rely on a man for survival though, which is something I love about her character.

Magic Slays was a good reminder of why I fell in love with this series in the first place. It is intense, full of action, witty and a page turner. There were some definite sad moments, a few revelations, and occasional sighs of relief. Things really heat up for the characters, and it was good to see so many come together in this one. I will not be waiting so long to read the next in the series. Not after the ending in this one. 

For more information about the husband and wife writing team, Ilona Andrews, and their books, visit their website. You can also find them on Facebook.

© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Sunday Mews: Happy December & December TBR List Poll

I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by the wonderful Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where participants recap our week, talk about what we are reading, share any new books that have come our way, and whatever else we want to talk about. I am also linking to Stacking the Shelves hosted by the great Team Tynga's Reviews and Marlene of Reading Reality a meme in which participants share what new books came their way recently. I am linking up to Nicole of Feed Your Addiction's Monthly Wrap-Up Post, where any book bloggers who write monthly wrap-up posts can link up and visit other bloggers to see what they have been reading.  

Happy December! I have my holiday cards almost ready for mailing, our tree still isn't up (haven't  found the time!) nor our Christmas lights, half of the Christmas shopping is done, and The Nutcracker is in two weeks. I know this time of year is busy for most of you as well as we make our way towards the end of the year. It always comes so quickly! I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday Season!

New to My Shelves: 

I broke down and used one of my birthday gift cards and picked up these gems which had been on my wish list for a long while:

The Accidental Alchemist (An Accidental Alchemist Mystery, #1) by Gigi Pandian

Mind Games (The Disillusionists, #1) by Carolyn Crane

The Unleashing (Call of Crows, #1) by Shelly Laurenston

Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal, #1) by Zen Cho

A Grave Calling (Bodies of Evidence, #1) by Wendy Roberts
A Grave Search (Bodies of Evidence, #2) by Wendy Roberts

The Palace Job (Rogues of the Republic, #1) by Patrick Weekes (for my husband)

What I Am Reading: I have not started a new book yet after finishing my last one. I will be diving back into War and Peace and Les Misérables most likely though. This is the final month for both read-alongs. I was thinking maybe one of my holiday-themed reads might be in order. Something that is good for a distracted mind to focus on.

What I Am Watching: I was able to take a week off from work over my daughter's Thanksgiving school break, and so took the opportunity to see the new Grinch movie. Mouse and I both enjoyed it. We also saw Wreck It Ralph Breaks the Internet (my husband was able to come with us to see this one). I asked Mouse which she liked better (or if she liked them both the same),  and she did not hesitate by naming Wreck It Ralph Breaks the Internet. When I asked her what she liked about it, I was surprised by her answer. I expected something like "when Vanellope meets the princesses" or "when Vanellope steals Shank's car". Instead, she said it was because the movie made her feel a wide range of emotions--"happy and sad and happy all over again"--I guess she really is my daughter (even if she does not like peanut butter).

Off the Blog: November got off to such a rough start: the mas shooting at a nightclub, deadly wildfires which later led to flooding toward the end of the month. Add in all the busy with The Nutcracker and the rehearsals. My mother-in-law's surgery went well the middle of the month, and we drove up to visit her, my father-in-law and brother-in-law for Thanksgiving. My mother-in-law was moved to a rehab center during our visit and was released home Friday. It will be a long recovery process, but she's feeling very positive. My own mother made the 8 hour drive down for a quick visit for my great aunt's 90th birthday celebration this weekend. She will be returning home soon and then will be back in a couple weeks for a longer visit, this time bringing her furry companion, Allie. We are all curious to see how our kitten does with a dog in the house. I did a bit of fall cleaning in Mouse's room and other various areas she's taken over in the house while on vacation. It was quite the chore, and I feel so accomplished!

 I dumped her bins on our kitchen table as I sorted the stuff in them, separating out donations,throw-aways, and organizing what we were going to keep. This is just a taste of the battle I faced.

 The table after I was nearly finished. 

Much better.

Here is what I finished reading in November:
  • The Secret Language of Cats by Susanne Schötz
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
  • Bells, Spells, and Murder by Carol J. Perry
November was another poor showing for me numbers wise.  To be fair, I did manage to stay on target for both of my year long read-along books, War and Peace and Les Misérables. I even got ahead in Les Misérables. I imagine it will be much the same this next month as I am determined to finish both before the year is out. Although maybe taking on two big classic chunksters at once was not the wisest idea, I have no regrets. I have enjoyed both quite a bit. Even my blogging and blog visiting suffered this month. It is a very busy time for my family, and add in the holidays, well, I suppose it was a given. At least I managed to finish my November TBR List poll winner. It was a lot of fun, and I look forward to going back and reading the earlier books in the series. And I finally got my daughter to give The Wizard of Oz a try on our drive north for Thanksgiving. We listened to the audio version and everyone enjoyed it.

Tell me what you have been up to! What are you reading, listening to and watching? How was your November? Do you have anything planned for this month?


Thank you for helping me decide what book from my TBR collection I should read next:

My TBR List is a meme hosted by the awesome Michelle at Because Reading. It’s a fun way to choose a book from your TBR pile to read. The 1st Sunday of every month, I will list 3 books I am considering reading and take a poll as to which you think I should read. I will read the winner that month, and my review will follow (unfortunately, not likely in the same month, but eventually--that's all I can promise). 

I considered not doing a poll this month given everything going on and how little time I will likely have on the computer this month, but this is one of my favorite features, and I just can't help myself. Going through my TBR piles, these are the three that immediately popped out at me: all short and on the lighter side. (And aren't the covers pretty?)

A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews
A Courtship of Convenience

Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He’s grim and silent. A man of little emotion—or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she’s ready to put an end to things.

A Last Chance for Love

But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn’t as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there’s Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What’s a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there’ll be no false formality. This time they’ll get to know each other for who they really are.
[Goodreads Summary]

Wishing Cross Station by February Grace
"Don’t stay a moment longer than you have to. Don’t say too much. Don’t pollute the timeline."

When nineteen-year-old college library page Keigan Wainwright is sent to pick up a private donation of books for the school’s collection, he has no idea where one of those books will take him, or what it will take from him.

Retracing a powerful man’s footsteps through the past, Keigan finds himself caught in the same dangerous trap: falling in love with a woman he was never meant to know, and uncertain he will ever find his way home. [Goodreads Summary]

A Brazen Curiosity (Beatrice Hyde-Clare Mysteries, #1) by Lynn Messina
Twenty-six-year-old Beatrice Hyde-Clare is far too shy to investigate the suspicious death of a fellow guest in the Lake District. A spinster who lives on the sufferance of her relatives, she would certainly not presume to search the rooms of her host's son and his friend looking for evidence. Reared in the twin virtues of deference and docility, she would absolutely never think to question the imperious Duke of Kesgrave about anything, let alone how he chose to represent the incident to the local constable.

And yet when she stumbles upon the bludgeoned corpse of poor Mr. Otley in the deserted library of the Skeffingtons' country house, that's exactly what she does. [Goodreads Summary]

Have you read any of these? Which one do you think I should read this month?

Thank you for voting! I hope you all have a wonderful week! Happy Reading!

© 2018, Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.