Tag Archives: witchy chicks

Ghost of a Chance by Yasmine Galenorn

I first “found” Yasmine Galenorn on the Witchy Chicks blog, but I thought from the books listed there that she was the author of fantasy and vampire books (I’m more into psychics and witches). However, when I was looking on the Cozy Mystery Blog, I discovered that she also has a cozy mystery series (themed paranormal) called The Chintz ‘n China Mystery series. I couldn’t wait to begin this series and to add another book to my cozy mystery challenge list. I found it at the Sony eReader story.

The first book in the series is Ghost of a Chance. The product description is as follows.
Emerald O’Brien is the owner of the Chintz ‘n China Tea Room where guests are served the perfect blend of tea and tarot reading. She never set out to be a detective, but once word gets out that she can communicate with the dead, there’s no turning back…

When the ghost of Susan Mitchell asks for Emerald’s help in convicting her own murderer, Emerald can’t refuse. Along with her friends-an ex-supermodel and a cop-and her new love interest, Emerald must search for clues to put the killer behind bars-and this tortured soul to rest.

I liked this book, and I liked Emerald O’Brien. So, first the negative: I did expect more tarot reading, since the description included the notion that guests were served tarot readings, and in fact, no guests were in this book (maybe in future series books?). I have learned some about Tarot, so I was very interested in seeing it included and it really wasn’t.  In fact, much of her work was passed off to employees so that she could be free to solve the mystery.

The positives. First, it was a good mystery, and the suspense was uncanny. In fact, while I was reading a scene in which items are flying around Emerald’s house, a magazine slid off a table near me, and I jumped out of my seat! I have not had a cozy mystery ever do that for me. It was a nice moment. In addition, the mystery was not too easy to solve. In fact, I had the wrong person pegged for 90% of my read, which actually made it creepier.

Second, Emerald is a single mom, and not a young lady starting out on her own as many of the series I have read lately have featured. I enjoyed a more mature hero, and I liked reading about her dealing with her sometimes petulant children. I think that I will enjoy watching the children grow and develop in future books as much as I will like following Emerald. I do wish that she had not shipped her kids off during the tense moments, but since she checked in with them often and visited and thought about them all of the time (as a real mom would), it was okay.

Third, Emerald has friends that are pretty screwed up. Sometimes, witchy women characters are too perfect and have too perfect friends (everyone is beautiful and sexy and kicks butt). Emerald has a friend with very real problems and issues (that I won’t tell you about!) that makes her intriguing and real.

Again, I liked this book. I think if you like Annette Blair, Madelyn Alt, Juliet Blackwell, Candace Havens, etc., this is right up your alley. I will say, though, that I was surprised by the sex scenes, since they aren’t the norm for cozies. I didn’t mind them; I just didn’t expect them. I have heard cozies with minor sex scenes are often called “sophisticated cozies.” I don’t know if it applies here or not, but reader beware. They are two heavy making out scenes. 🙂 I will be reading the next one in the series–soon.

Happy Reading.

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Linda Wisdom’s Hex Series

Although not “cozy,” another witchy mystery series I like is Linda Wisdom’s Hex Series. I found Wisdom on the Witchy Chicks Blog (along with Madelyn Alt, Annette Blair, Candace Havens, etc.). Wisdom’s website begins with “Welcome to my world where witches make the universe sparkle!” And, her characters, her witches, do that for me as a reader.

50 Ways to Hex Your Lover (March 2008)
Official Product Description: Jazz can’t decide whether to scorch him with a fireball or jump into bed with him. Jasmine Tremaine, a witch who can’t stay out of trouble. Nikolai Gregorivich, a drop-dead gorgeous vampire cop on the trail of a serial killer.

The sizzling love affair between Jazz and Nick has been off-again, on-again-for about 300 years. Mostly off, lately. But now Nick needs Jazz’s help, and while Jazz and Nick try to figure out their own hearts and resist their ever-increasing attraction, they must steer clear of a maniacal killer with super-supernatural powers. They are surrounded by a hilarious cast of oddball paranormal characters, including Irma, the chain-smoking ghost who haunts Jazz’s sports car, Dweezil, her ghoul of a boss, and Fluff and Puff, a pair of bunny slippers with sharp teeth and short tempers (watch your ankles)!

Hex Appeal (October 2008)
Official Product Description: The second book in the Hex series features feisty witch Jazz and her drop-dead gorgeous vampire cop boyfriend in a new installment. On again, off again for over 300 years, Jazz and Nick are finally back together, but then Jazz thinks Nick has bitten her. Separated again, upset and angry, the two of them start having violent, recurring dreams in which each one figures in disturbing and menacing ways. They can’t sleep, they can’t eat, and they finally figure out they’d better get together and discover who’s poisoning their dreams-and their relationship.

Full of the fantastic secondary characters that Linda Wisdom’s fans know and love, including Jazz’s sister witches and a cast of delectable supernatural male characters, Hex Appeal is fun and funny paranormal romance at its best.

Wicked By Any Other Name (March 2009)
Official Product Description: Feisty witch Stasi Romanov was one of 13 classmates at the Witches Academy who was expelled seven hundred years ago for bad behavior. Stasi has since then settled down a bit, owning a lingerie boutique while dabbling in a brisk side business of love charms.

Sparks fly, however, when one of those charms goes awry, and Stasi finds herself in a preternatural lawsuit matching wits with devastatingly handsome wizard attorney Trevor Barnes. Then mysterious magic from an unknown enemy threatens to turn Stasi’s quiet town into a modern day Salem, and Stasi’s witchy friends from long ago gather for the fight. They need Trevor’s powerful help. But every witch knows you can’t trust a wizard, and soon Stasi is fighting for her life and her heart.

Hex in High Heels (October 2009)
Product Description: In this sexy, funny paranormal romance by bestselling author Linda Wisdom, it’s all beautiful witch Blair Fitzpatrick can do to keep a lid on her talent for revenge spells, but things are about to get a lot more complicated…

Blair loves running her vintage shop and hanging out with witchy friends Stasi and Jazz. She’s forever had a crush on hunky carpenter Jake Harrison, whose Were nature (he’s a Border collie) makes him loyal, lovable, and fierce when need be. Just as sparks are beginning to fly, Blair is served with a big surprise when Jake’s mother shows up along with his pack leader, who threatens to make Jake heel! When the alpha does the unthinkable, Blair is pushed over the edge. No one messes with her boyfriend-to-be, even if he does shed on the furniture!

 

My Thoughts: Wicked by Any Other Name is my favorite in this series so far. I love Jazz and Nick, but they seem a bit more worldly and cynical than Stasi, the main character of this book. In fact, I think part of the appeal of this book to me is it lesser focus on the preternatural characters of the earlier books. I think the earlier books remind me a lot of a female-focused Dresden Files: a lot of characters with a lot of other worldly qualities and characteristics. I know some people like that, but it isn’t always the right fit for me. I do like the witches of this series, though, and this book gives us a lot of back information about those witches (which I loved!), including of course Stasi.

Like Jazz, Stasi is one of the 13 witches expelled from witching school. Stasi’s story is one of loyalty, gaining self-confidence, and love. That love, though, is not just for the male lead but for her friends, her witchiness, her community, and the hot wizard who is hired to sue her. In fact, her entire business is focused around helping others make love matches through her lingerie shop. She has never focused on her love before until a strange lawyer, who happens to be a wizard, walks in with hearts dancing over his head. This wizard is smart, loyal, and protective, despite the notion that wizards and witches aren’t supposed to mix.  He is the perfect match for Stasi, standing beside her to fight the evil threatening her town. It’s fun, fairly fast paced, and a smart light-hearted romance.

I downloaded all of these books from the Sony eBookstore. The next installment is coming Soon: Best Hex Ever (October 2010), and I can’t wait. Until then, HappyReading!

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Madelyn Alt’s A Witch in Time

I read Madelyn Alt’s A Witch in Time for the Cozy Mystery Challenge. It is the 6th in the Bewitching Series (first five reviewed here). I purchased the book from the Sony eReader Store.

Promotional Description: Stony Mill, Indiana’s newest witch, Maggie O’Neill, has been attached at the hip to the smoking-hot Marcus Quinn. Things couldn’t get any better- until her sister Mel gives birth to not one, but two babies…

Maggie’s visiting Mel in the hospital when a whispered conversation in a cafeteria sends chills down her spine. She can’t make out what they’re saying, but Maggie knows malice when she hears it. The next night, death visits the hospital…twice. Nobody bats an eye, but Maggie knows something sinister is haunting the hospital. Now she’ll need help if she’s going to tie two murders to one killer.

I like this series, and I like Maggie O’Neill. I think we have watched her develop in several ways over the course of the series and that is important to keeping my interest. Sometimes characters in a series become predictable or the plot seems to repeat over and over. That’s not true with this series and this book. This book is different from the others in several ways. First, it is focused on fewer characters, mainly Maggie and her current squeeze Marcus. It is also very family focused with Maggie’s sister and the birth of her twins. There is very little of Liss (Felicity, her boss and magickal mentor) in this book, despite the fact that she has been the focus  of at least one previous book and a major character in most of them. By not telling the same story with the same characters, Alt has kept my attention and made me eager for more.

I have, though, read a review at Amazon that says there is no where near enough magic in this book and too much concentration on Maggie’s familial relationships. As I noted above, I like the focus on the relationships. I like seeing Maggie’s struggle with her mother (I have mother issues, too), and I like the development of her relationship with Marcus. I like the scenes with her ex Tom, and I think they feel real and allow Maggie some closure so that she can develop her relationship with Marcus more. So, none of that is a problem for me.

And, I think someone who doesn’t see the magic isn’t reading carefully enough. There were several scenes in which Maggie develops her senses (6th / paranormal / magickal / whatever), and those scenes and actions are what allows her to solve the mystery. She also becomes more accepting of her gift(s). What is missing is the label “magick”–and I don’t think it is needed. I can find it without the word being used.  By refusing to label what Maggie does (other than to mention her “clairaudient” abilities to hear her grandmother’s voice), Alt challenges the notion that these things are paranormal; that is, they are just “normal” for Maggie. I could probably pull off a fairly academic analysis (in feminist deconstructionist style, of course) of Alt’s lack of naming and how that says more than what giving it a label would. Un-naming a thing is a pretty sophisticated statement to the reader, and I am sorry that the reviewers on Amazon were not smart enough to get it. Again, I’m okay with this strategy. I like it.

If I were to complain about this book, I would say that I would like this book–all the books in the series, actually–to be longer! I need more time with characters and more time to develop the mystery. Just as I was getting into it, Maggie has a paranormal epiphany and the story is over. I was also disappointed in the ending in that there was just a chapter that told what happened after the mystery was solved with no forward action or character development. It seemed contrived. I like endings to be part of the story, not just tacked on. A longer story would have solved this, I think. Of course, I know that the book length is probably predetermined by the publisher and the genre not the writer. I think sometimes, though, that is unfortunate for a story.

So, I would definitely recommend this book, but I think it needs to be read as part of the series. Read it as book 6, not as a stand alone.

Happy Reading & Let me know What you think!

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The Bewitching Series by Madelyn Alt (First Five)

I will be reading Madelyn Alt’s new book A Witch in Time (April 2010) for my next Cozy Mystery Challenge book (since Sony has not fixed Photo Finished yet–see previous entries). So, I thought I would review the first five books in this series, all of which / witch 😮 I have read since the beginning of the year. I purchased the books from the Sony eReader Store. Again, though, I am going to include the promotional descriptions / Back Cover Blurbs (italicized) in an effort to stay focused and not give away any of the “mystery” of the books. Excerpts from these books are available on Alt’s site.

The Trouble with Magic (Jan 06)
Bringing a little culture to Stony Mill, Indiana, Enchantments is one of the area’s finest antique shops.  But shop clerk Maggie O’Neill and her employer Felicity Dow do more than conjure up curios for the locals–the each possess a talent for spellbinding sleuthing.

Bored with her office job (and subsequently fired for excessive tardiness), Maggie jumps at the opportunity to work at Enchantments.  She was a little weirded out when Felicity described herself as a witch, but if her boss wants to play with broomsticks and cauldrons, where’s the harm?  However, Maggie’s first day on the job may turn out to be her last when police question Felicity in the murder of her estranged sister.  With everyone in town proclaiming Felicity’s guilt faster than the Salem Witch Trials, Maggie finds herself wondering if she’ll also be tied to the stake.  And lately, she’s been receiving messages on a spiritual frequency guiding her to prove Felicity’s innocence–and to embrace her own “charmed” life . . .

 

A Charmed Death (Dec 06)
Maggie O’Neill was just your average small-town girl, stuck in a dead-end job until she started working at Enchantments, Stony Mill’s finest antique shop with a unique mystical secret. Now Maggie is Indiana’s newest witch. Learning to cope with her newfound powers is tough enough, but add to that keeping the stock at Enchantments organized, keeping the peace with her somewhat controlling mom, and remembering to tape reruns of her favorite show, Magnum, P.I., and Maggie’s got a full plate.
 

A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.  In this case? Get witchy!
But when a second questionable death occurs a scant two months into her store tenure, she can’t turn her thoughts away from all the town gossip about the teenage princess and the mysterious circumstances surrounding the girl’s charmed life and death. While the police get caught up in procedure and logic, Maggie uses every trick, charm, and intuition she can summon, with the assistance of her favorite witchy boss Felicity Dow, to get to the heart of this spellbinding murder.

Hex Marks the Spot (Dec 07)
Maggie O’Neill loves her job at Enchantments, Indiana’s finest mystical antique shop.  But something dark is brewing in Stony Mill — and it’s not just the fabulous coffee Maggie serves to browsing customers.  Looking for charming stock for the store, Maggie accompanies her boss–and favorite witch–Felicity Dow to the countywide craft bazaar.  Felicity falls hard for a beautiful armoire, intricately carved by an Amish craftsman.  Maggie can’t help noticing that though his clothes may be plain, he himself is more handsome than a man sporting a jawline-only beard has any right to be.  And he seems pretty aware that the ladies love his . . . furniture.  But when the hunky craftsman turns up dead, with a strange hex symbol etched near his corpse, Maggie can’t help but wonder if the craft involved might be the witchy kind.  Because Maggie knows that the dead man could well have been oversexed . . . but she worries that he was also overhexed.


 
No Rest for the Wiccan (Nov 08)
Maggie O’Neill loves her job at Enchantments as much as she loves being Indiana’s newest witch. But when her family needs her, she’s still willing to lend a hand—even if she has to reach beyond the grave…

It’s a long, hot summer in Stony Mill, and Maggie is busy watching TV reruns, minding the store, and figuring out her love life. Then she reluctantly volunteers to care for her bedridden, oh-so-perfect sister, Mel, and her beautiful nieces. But Mel isn’t the only focus of Maggie’s attention. There are some strange spirits hanging about the area—and it looks like a job for Maggie and the N.I.G.H.T.S. ghost hunting team.

And even as she tries to deal with the long-dead, Maggie must cope with the recently-deceased. A friend of Mel’s loses her husband to a dreadful fall, and the police are calling it accidental death. Maggie’s not so sure, and sets her second sights on finding a first-degree murderer…

I have read reviews of Alt that suggest this witchy series is not magickal enough, but I like that about it. Yes, it’s fun to read about hereditary witches who can rhyme up a spell to save the world (see Candace Havens, for instance, or Annette Blair’s Triple Witch Trilogy), but that’s not the only kind of magick.

Maggie is a very real character in that she is hesitant to use power and hesitant to believe in magick. She doesn’t do it without reservation or at the drop of a pin. She wasn’t born with it. Her grams didn’t teach her to use it. In fact, her mom doesn’t approve of her association with her magickal friends at all. Maggie is a complicated hero. I like that about her.

In addition, each book does have more magick as the character and series develops, just as it should if we are tracing the development and unfolding of a person. This series is very much built upon a traditional bildungsroman model with a witchy twist. It is Maggie’s coming of age journey and the stories of those paranormal events that are turning her into the woman she will become.

I can’t wait to read A Witch in Time this weekend.

Until Then, Happy Reading

 

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Annette Blair’s Triple Witch Trilogy

 In my “reading for fun” time, I have just completed the Triple Witch Trilogy by Annette Blair. I have really enjoyed these light hearted romances with a “witchy” twist, though I will say that since much of my reading for pleasure lately has been “cozy” mysteries, the sex scenes can get a bit steamy!

 (Spoiler alert: the following gives full details of the books that you may not wish revealed before reading)

 This series is a continuation of the “accidental witch” series (of which I have read 2/3). Here, the triplet sisters of Vickie from The Scot, The Witch and the Wardrobe (who, by the way, are both witches and psychics) get their men.

 First, we have Harmony in Sex and the Psychic Witch. Harmony has a vision of a woman in a dress and a castle and finds a ring. She sees this as her psychic mandate to find the castle and figure out what is going on. There, she travels to Paxton’s Island and meets the owner (of island, including castle, windmill, and lighthouse) King Paxton who really doesn’t believe in psychics, witches, or love. But, his castle is haunted and his child and grandchild need a home. King wants to sell the castle, his albatross, but the women in his life resist. The only way to make peace is to excise the castle ghost and some old baggage. Eventually, King figures it out and settles down with his newly made family in “harmony” with Harmony at Paxton’s Castle.

 Storm is the next sister, and her book is entitled Gone with the Witch. Having spent her life as the “troublemaker” or the storm to her sister’s “harmony,” she has a lack of self confidence that is really ready to crack when she meets the mom who threw her (and the sisters) away. Maybe because of this mother desertion, Storm’s psychic mandate appears to be tracking down crying babies to rescue. Because every time she nears King Paxton’s friend Aiden she hears a baby cry, she kidnaps Aiden to track down the source of the cries. As the story unfolds, we learn that while Aiden enjoys a physical relationship with Storm, he (like King) is afraid of roots and of love because of his previous experience with his family and another woman. And, it is that experience that brings them together for the crying baby is his, and its mother is near death. As Aiden finds his child and love, he settles down with Storm at the Windmill Cottage on Paxton’s Island.

 Destiny is the last sister to find love in Never Been Witched. She stays behind as the others travel to Scotland to visit Vickie and Rory’s other home. She learns shortly thereafter that Morgan (a childhood friend of King and Aidan’s) has also stayed behind and that they both intend to spend the two weeks in the lighthouse on King’s island. As the story unfolds we learn that Morgan’s skepticism and debunking hobby stem from the loss of his twin at an early age and the consequences of that (a repressed family and becoming a priest). Morgan must learn to lighten up and live again before he finds his “destiny” with his triplet in the lighthouse on Paxton’s Island.

 These quirky sisters and their slogan t-shirts (including “Orgasm Donor”) are fun and light to read about. There “positive energy only” life philosophies make the reading an escape from the real world for a short time. I hope you get a chance to step into their world for awhile.

 PS—I bought all three books for my Sony eReader at http://ebookstore.sony.com/.

 Happy Reading!

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