By Familiar Means

by familiar means

By Familiar Means
A Witch’s Cat Mystery (Bk 2)

Delia James
Berkley Prime Crime, 2016

Rom the back of the book: “After discovering her mystical heritage—and being adopted by a furry feline familiar Alistair—artist Annabelle Britton has decided to make picturesque Portsmouth, New Hampshire, her new home. Now, she can take the time to figure out her new abilities and welcome her grandmother, who is visiting Portsmouth and her old coven for the first time in decades.

“But being a witch doesn’t magically put money in the bank. When she’s hired to paint murals for a new coffee shop, it seems like a wish come true. But then a series of spooky sounds and strange happenings convince the owners that their new shop is haunted. They want Annabelle and her coven to evict the restless spirit before the grand opening.

“Annabelle is certain the haunted happenings at the shop are just hocus pocus. When her search reveals hidden smugglers’ tunnels beneath the shop—and a dead body—Annabelle, Alistair, and the coven suddenly find themselves in a cat and mouse game with a killer.”

With the second installment of this mystery series, I have been thoroughly won over by the author. The author constructed another excellent mystery and I truly had no idea who was the murderer until the ‘Big Reveal’. There were so many good suspects, so many threads to the mystery, I was completely mystified! I liked how the author continued Annabelle’s exploration into witchcraft – she approaches it with trepidation and a healthy dose of respect. Of course, my favorite character is Alistair – I love how he can appear and disappear at will; I wish I had the same skill! I would pop in at mom’s work every now and then just to surprise her!!

As a cozy mystery, the murder takes place way off stage and Annabelle is threatened with violence a couple of times. We meet a different policeman – who is thoroughly obnoxious and the subject of civil disobedience and drug use (pot) is brought up by a “hippie-type” couple. There’s also a budding romance which may evolve over time, but nothing untoward in that department takes place. This is a nice PG-rating-type book, that if you don’t mind reading a mystery with witches and magic, that is easy to enjoy.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws because it kept me guessing throughout the book, and that’s my favorite kind of mystery!! Book 3 will be out soon and I can’t wait!!





A Familiar Tail

a familiar tail

A Familiar Tail
A Witch’s Cat Mystery #1

Delia James
Obsidian, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2016

From the back of the book: “Unlucky-in-love artist Annabelle Britton decides that a visit to the seaside town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is the perfect way to get over her problems. But when she stumbles upon a smoky gray cat named Alistair and follows him into a charming cottage, Annabelle finds herself in a whole spellbook full of trouble.

“Suddenly saddled with a witch’s wand and a furry familiar, Annabelle meets a friendly group of women who use their spells, charms, and potions to keep the people of Portsmouth safe. But despite their gifts, the witches can’t prevent every wicked deed in town….

“Soon, the mystery surrounding Alistair’s former owner, who died under unusual circumstances, grows when another local turns up dead. Armed with magic, friends, and the charmed cat who adopted her, rather than the other way around, Annabelle sets out to paw through the evidence and uncover a killer.”

Wow! I enjoyed this book so much I read it straight through in one day! It’s always exciting to start a new book, especially when the book is a new series and the author has to do a lot of world-building. Love it! Portsmouth, New Hampshire – never been there, by the way – is wonderfully described – I felt I was there amongst the gardens, old shops and cottages and fancy houses. And of course, the star of the book is Alistair, a lovely gray cat who is magical and helps Annabelle solve the mystery – actually, he knows what’s really going on, but you know humans. They are inept at discerning our obvious clues so it takes his new person the whole book to figure it out.

Speaking of which, the mystery was well done – I didn’t figure out who the culprit was, nor any clue as to why, until it was revealed towards the end of the book. I hope the follow-up books are just as well done as this one; I’m seriously looking forward to them!!! The book is perfect reading for any mystery lover of any age – as long as you don’t mind practicing witches!

Rating: 4 ½ paws out of 5 – my highest rating, without it being a 5-paw rating, ever! Why 4 ½ and not 5? Well, while the story was fabulous, I’m not likely to read it again and there was no real emotional investment on my part which is the hallmark of a 5 paw book!






Druscilla’s Halloween

6536677Druscilla’s Halloween
Sally  M. Walker
Illustrations by Lee White
Carolrhoda Books, Lerner Publishing Group, 2009
From the dust jacket, “Did witches always ride brooms? No! In fact, long, long ago, witches crept about on tiptoe. On Halloween, they would scare children and cast spells . . . but always from the round. No witch ever thought of flying until Druscilla. Druscilla was an old witch with the loudest, creakiest knees anyone had ever heard. But she was determined not to let anything spoil her element of surprise. One Halloween, after many failed attempts at sneaking up on unsuspecting villagers, Druscilla made a discover that changed the course of witch history.”
A funny picture book about an old witch with bad knees! (Kind of like my mom – except for the witch part.) Poor Druscilla tries to go to town to scare folks but her knees crack so loudly she even scares off the woodland creatures. She tries several different ways sneak into town, but all of them fail. Then as she’s cleaning up the mess from the last experiment, she thinks – what about her broom! She tries a spell on it, and low and behold, it works and off she flies into the night sky!
Druscilla has the traditional green face of a witch and the traditional black witch’s way of dressing, but instead of a black cat familiar she has an orange tabby cat named Drizzle who is really cute! Since the typeface is all different sizes and colors based on the background color, beginning readers may have trouble with it. The illustrations are nice but a little dark in color – lots of shadows and candle light. It would make for great reading at night by flashlight!!
Rating 3 paws
simon-the-blackReviewer: Simon, a Halloween Cat

Boo-La-La Witch Spa

boo-la-laBoo-La-La Witch Spa
Samantha Berger
Illustrated by Isabel Roxas
Dial Books for Young Readers
From the book jacket: “All tuckered out from trick-or-treating? Feeling drained after a seriously strong spell? Come on in to our Fab-BOO Witch Spa! We’ll get the SPOOK back in your step in no time. Relax with a cup of bat-whisker tea and some Candy Corn Flan, and then try our Broom Bristle Facial or a Scalp Rub done by spiders. Our spa treatments are sure to make any young spell-caster feel refreshed, rejuvenated, an positively revolting. Stop in today!”
This picture book shows how witches relax after a hard day of witching! A tired young witch and her equally tired black cat arrive at a spa for a little pampering. They are greeted by a gnome and then chooses which treatment to enjoy. They chose such luxuries as a Scarab Skin Scrub, and Eye of Newt Wrap and a nap in a pool of snail drool (yuk!). How about a sauna of hot dragon break and a steam in a sea monster’s lair! The witch and cat have lots of treatments that are wonderful to them but gross to an average human or cat! A the end of the day, the witch has her hair and nails done, picks up a few things in the gift shop and heads home ready for more witchery!
Love the illustrations – each two-page spread are richly detailed and on many you have to look close in order not to miss anything. The story is written in clever rhymes with medium-large print. It’s a cute and fun book for early readers to read on their own or to read to the younger ones.
Rating 3 paws
simon-the-blackReviewer: Simon