It Takes a Coven

it takes a coven

It Takes a Coven
Witch City: Book 6 

Carol J. Perry
Kensington Publishing Corp., 2018

From the back of the book: “When Lee Barrett joins a former student’s bridal party as maid of honor, she expects cake tastings and dress fittings. But wedding planning becomes more peculiar than Lee’s scrying talents could ever predict. There’s a magical baker, a best man with a checkered past, and a talking crow named Poe as the ring bearer. There’s also a kindly old man dead under his apple tree – one of a series of unexplained deaths hanging over the Wiccan community…

“With witches dropping dead before they even come out of the proverbial broom closet, Lee’s best friend, River, fears she might have somehow unleased a terrible curse on the city. Now, aided by Poe and her clairvoyant cat, Lee sets out to investigate. Are lives being claimed by vengeful supernatural forces—or by something more shocking? She soon discovers, casting light on the wicked truth can be one killer commitment…”

The publisher has a fairly good teaser for this book – but there’s so much more happening that what they’ve indicated. Salem, Mass has been invaded by crows! Not just a few hundred, but thousands upon thousands of the loud and messy birds. Various events among the witch community leads Lee to believe the crows have something to do with the dying witches. Its kind-of-spooky-like, ala’ Hitchcock’s The Birds.

The mystery is well written and intriguing. If I’d read it over a shorter period of time, I certain I would have figured out the murderer – it was, after all, someone totally obvious. But, as it took me a week to read, only because I was keeping an eye on the other cats and my finch flock. This book is #6 in the series and our library hadn’t even ordered #5! Mom put in a request to them purchase it, so I’ll have to read that one when it comes in. Also, I’m wondering if the author is moving on to a new series because the main event in this book nicely closes a mystery that happens in the first book – sort of bookended the series. I suppose I’ll have to wait a bit to find out! But, if you’re considering a cozy mystery series and you don’t mind a few witches sprinkled in, the try the Witch City Mystery series. It’s very good!

Rating 4 out of 5 paws – it pays to have a cat on your side when solving a puzzle!



The Witches

the witches a

The Witches

Roald Dahl
Pictures by Quentin Blake
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013, 1983

From the dust jacket, “When the young hero of The Witches is orphaned by an automobile accident, he is left in the care of his aged grandmother, a formidable cigar-smoking lady who happens to be a retired expert on dealing with witches. In spite of her warnings about how to spot these awful creatures, her grandson accidentally wanders into the annual convocation of the witches of England—and overhears the horrifying plans in store for every child in the country. But before he can escape to reveal the witches’ plot, he is captured and turned into, well … you will have to read and find out. for certain he is no ordinary hero and this is no ordinary tale.”

What a fun book! I read it straight through even though its 202 pages long! But be warned: if you’re afraid of mice or witches or the terrible, awful things they do to youngsters, then you might not want to read the book. Just kidding!!! While the book does portray witches in a terrible light, as the author reminds his reader, the book is written for kittens, not adults. Kittens know not to take anything in Roald Dahl’s books seriously and that his outlandish writing is for fun and laughter. So, if you’re witch without a sense of humor and are unable to laugh at yourself and your fellow witches – DON’T read this book! I promise you – you WILL be offended. If you’re a kitten, then get your minders to check out this book for you as soon as possible. You won’t be disappointed!

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws for lots of fun, lots of mice and even a mention of cats!!!


Jack, North Carolina Division Chief and Banned Books Librarian

Banned/Challenged Information

This book was banned by some libraries in England because of perceived misogyny. The reason? Dahl says that witches can only be women. Also challenged because our hero misbehaves and takes retribution on adults without consequences for his action and because it devalues the life of a child.
It was also challenged in:
1987 in Amana, Iowa for being “too sophisticated and did not teach moral values”;

1989 in Billings, Montana because Dahl made a comment indicating parents had no sense of humor;

1990 in Goose Lake, Iowa for violence, turning people into mice and the word “slut” (I don’t remember reading that word);

1991 in Dallas, Oregon for the possibility of enticing kids to study witchcraft or the occult;

1992 in Escondido, California for fear of desensitizing kids to violence and increasing interest in witchcraft;
1992, La Mesa-Spring Valley, California for depiction of witches as ordinary women that children cannot defend against and for promoting the Wiccan religion and witchcraft;

1993 in Spenser, Wisconsin for desensitizing children to crimes related to witchcraft;

1994 in Battle Creek, Michigan a parent claimed the book was “satanic”;

1995 in Stafford, Virginia for crude language and encouraging children to be disobedient;

1997 in Wichita Falls, Texas for satanic themes;

1998 in Dublin, Ohio because the book is “derogatory to children hurtful to self-esteem and conflicted with religious and moral beliefs.”

Now, if all of that nonsense doesn’t want to make you read the book, just because, well, I don’t know what else to say!


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!




Tails You Lose

Tails You Lose

Tails You Lose
A Witch City Mystery, #2

Carol J. Perry
Kensington Publishing, 2015

From the back of the book: “After losing her job as a TV psychic, Lee Barrett has decided to volunteer her talents as an instructor at the Tabitha Trumbull Academy of the Arts—known as “The Tabby”—in her hometown of Salem Massachusetts. But when the local handyman turns up dead under seemingly inexplicable circumstances on Christmas night, Lee’s clairvoyant capabilities begin bubbling to the surface once again.

“The Tabby is housed in the long-vacant Trumbell’s Department Store. Ass Lee and her intrepid students begin work on a documentary charting the store’s history, they unravel a century of family secrets, deathbed whispers—and a mysterious labyrinth of tunnels hidden right below the streets of Salem. Even the witches in town are spooked, and when Lee begins seeing visions in the large black patent leather pump in her classroom, she’s certain something evil is afoot. But ghosts in the store’s attic are the least of her worries with a killer on the loose…”

This second book in the Witch City mysteries is better than the first one. The mystery is tightly woven and I wasn’t able to figure out who the murderer was this time. That’s the way I like my mysteries! The main character, Lee, is still afraid of using her gift of scrying which was a bit frustrating (but in a good way); and the budding romance between Pete and Lee is moving along at a nice, old-fashioned pace. Of course, the wonderful orange tabby, O’Ryan, was outstanding but not used as much in this book as in the first or the fourth. I’m starting the 3rd book soon and I hope the super-smart kitty will be more prominent in the story line. This story is set in the middle of a New England winter and the author writes in a way that made me believe I was in the middle of Salem on a cold, winter afternoon.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws – if you don’t mind a bit of ghostly and witchly happenings with your cozy mystery, you’ll love this book as much as I did. This series is definitely on my list to read!



Caught Dead Handed

Caught Dead Handed

Caught Dead Handed
Witch City Mystery #1

Carol J. Perry
Kensington Publishing Corp., 2014

From the back of the book, “Most folks associate the city of Salem, Massachusetts with witches, but for Lee Barrett, it’s home. This October she’s returned to her hometown—where her beloved Aunt Ibby still lives—to interview for a job as a reporter at WICH-TV. But the only opening is for a call-in psychic to host the late night horror movies. it seems the previous host, Ariel Constellation, never saw her own murder coming.

“Lee reluctantly takes the job, but when she starts seeing real events in the obsidian ball she’s using as a prop, she wonders if she might really have psychic abilities. To make things even spookier, it’s starting to look like Ariel may have been an actual practicing witch—especially when O’Ryan, the cat Lee and Aunt Ibby inherited from her, exhibits some strange powers of his own. With Halloween fast approaching, Lee must focus on unmasking a killer—or her career as a psychic may be very short lived…”

This is the first book in the Witch City Mystery series – I’ve already read and reviewed the 4th book, Murder Go Round, (mom found it displayed at the library and brought it home thinking I would like it – she was right!) and it was so good, I had to go back and start over from the beginning! It was good to find out how O’Ryan adopted Lee and how Lee recovered her scrying abilities. The mystery was fun and compelling, with lots of twists and turns. However, I did figure out the overall big secret of the murderer and who he or she was, but not the details. As I read I kept wanting to shout at Lee, “The murderer is …..!” As per the genre, no on stage violence or sex but a teensy bit of romance (shades of things to come!). Caught Dead Handed is a thoroughly enjoyable, tightly written mystery with all the questions wrapped up neatly in the end.

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws – great book, fabulous cat!!