chez_jae: (Books)
On Wednesday night, I completed A Toxic Trousseau by Juliet Blackwell. The book is part of her "Witchcraft Mystery" series.

When Lily's familiar, Oscar, bumps into a woman in Aunt Cora's Closet, Lily is hit with a lawsuit. Hoping for a peaceful resolution, she goes to visit the woman in her vintage clothing shop, only to find Autumn Jennings deathly ill. Lily summons help, but Autumn later dies. When cause of death is determined to be poisoning, Lily finds herself among a short list of suspects. Eager to clear her name, she takes it upon herself to start asking questions of Autumn's neighbors and associates. The situation becomes murkier as Lily learns Autumn had no family, precious few friends, and that she'd recently acquired a supposedly cursed trousseau. Along the way, Lily encounters a strange dog walker, a sinister cupcake baker, and a dour homicide detective. At least she has her own friends to help, as well as her boyfriend, Sailor.

Good story, good pacing, and wonderful characterizations. Lots of little subplots were woven together, making the entire book more interesting as a whole. The only drawback in my opinion, was Oscar. He comes across as more of a petulant brat than a stable familiar for Lily.

Favorite lines:
♦ It really dilled my pickle...
♦ "Okay, any actual advice for my meeting the mayor, beyond wardrobe?" // "Don't mention eels." // "Eels." // "Or seesaws." // "Why on earth would I mention eels or seesaws?" // "Exactly."
♦ "I mean, I know I was the one who first suggested it, but I guess I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that the big showdown we're all so afraid of is with the cupcake lady."


Enjoyable, as with the others in this series. Five stars:

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
Today, I completed the book Spellcasting in Silk, which is the most recent release in author Juliet Blackwell's "Witchcraft Mystery" series.

Once again, Lily is tabbed by the SFPD to look into another "woo-woo" case. Detective Romero asks her to check out a botanica shop, where odd things have been happening. Lily goes to the shop, only to have items fly off of shelves and crash onto the floor. She can't quite figure out what's happening, but she believes it has something to do with the owner, a practitioner who has been arrested as a person of interest in the suicide of a young woman who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Lily goes to visit the woman in prison, and she doubts that Ursula had anything to do with the death. Ursula takes the opportunity to implore Lily to find her missing granddaughter, Selena, and take care of her. Lily is convinced that the suicide, Ursula's arrest, and Selena's disappearance are all connected, and the common factor seems to be a recently-deceased woman whose home Lily visited in a search for vintage clothing for her shop.

In addition to the mystery, Lily must deal with unfamiliar feelings of jealousy where her boyfriend, Sailor, is concerned, the return of ex-boyfriend, Max, in her life, and the ever-present Aidan Rhodes.

The story moved along at a good pace, and the ending was both surprising and satisfying.

Favorite line: "I swear, it's like puttin' socks on a rooster."

Five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
Thanks to a four-day weekend, I've just knocked back my third book in as many days. Yes!

I read A Vision in Velvet, which is part of Juliet Blackwell's "Witchcraft Mystery" series.

Lily buys a trunk of vintage clothing from an antiques dealer, purely because one item in the collection called to her. When the dealer is shot to death soon after, Lily begins to suspect his murder had something to do with the trunk and its contents. She also discovers that each time she dons the velvet cloak that had intrigued her, she experiences visions of a centuries-old witch execution.

Revisiting the scene of the crime, the base of an old oak tree, Lily is dismayed when her familiar, Oscar, disappears in the tree. Determined now to save him, she goes on a quest to gather the information she needs to rescue Oscar. If she solves a murder and rattles some cages along the way, so be it.

This book was delightful, not only in the fast pace, but also in how Lily is humbled when her friends band together to help her, not only in finding Oscar, but also in her spell-casting. I also enjoyed the growing relationship between Lily and Sailor. I was able to figure some things out, and I even sussed out the murderer, although it wasn't until late in the book.

Favorite line: It wasn't going to do anyone any good if I carried on like a sinner in a cyclone.

Five out of five for this one!

♦♦♦♦♦
chez_jae: (Books)
I spent a good deal of the day reading Tarnished and Torn, which is the fifth book in author Juliet Blackwell's "Witchcraft Mystery" series.

While attending a gem fair to buy stock for her vintage clothing store, Lily encounters an odd woman who sells her a box of junk jewelry. Not only does the venue end up catching on fire, but Lily discovers that the woman was murdered in a fashion reminiscent of the torture once inflicted on witches. Lily tries to steer clear of the investigation, but soon she realizes she's being followed, and someone breaks into her shop. She learns that the murdered woman was in possession of a jewel that was capable of banishing a demon, and someone thinks Lily has it. Thrust now into the thick of things, Lily must do everything in her power to save her friends and banish a demon, all while wondering if her own, estranged father has anything to do with the situation.

Fun read, very engrossing. I enjoy Lily's character, as well as the secondary characters, and it was interesting to meet some new people. I also like reading about the vintage fashions that Lily finds and wears. The setting in San Francisco is also interesting.

Five out of five!

♦♦♦♦♦
chez_jae: (Books)
I stayed up a bit too late last night to finish reading In a Witch's Wardrobe, which is part of Juliet Blackwell's "Witchcraft Mystery" series.

In this installment, Lily encounters a dazed young woman at an elaborate ball, only to be nearby when the woman slumps into a coma. Lily suspects a hex, and she begins looking into the matter. Her line of questioning leads her to learn that another young woman, a witch, has recently died, and Lily senses a pattern. With male witch Aiden avoiding her, Lily turns to her acquaintance Sailor for help. To complicate matters, there is a group in the Bay Area calling itself Defenders of Morality, and they hate all things witchy.

This was one of my favorite stories in this verse. I relished the growing connection between Lily and Sailor, and I enjoyed meeting some potential new friends with her. The mystery had me guessing right up to the end.

Five diamonds!

♦♦♦♦♦
chez_jae: (Books)
On Sunday, I read Hexes and Hemlines, which is from author Juliet Blackwell's "Witchcraft Mystery" series.

Lily is asked by the SFPD to view a crime scene with several witchy elements. Lily gives her opinion and thinks that will be the end of her involvement. However, when her friend's son-in-law is tabbed as a potential suspect, Lily gets drawn into the investigation. Along the way, she's busy juggling her vintage clothing shop and her love life. Her boyfriend Max was out of town, but then Lily learns he has returned, yet he hasn't called to tell her so. In addition, she is still battling her attraction to warlock Aidan Rhodes, and now she has a black cat to find a new home for.

Quite a lot going on in this book, but it all tied together. The story was intriguing enough that I read it in one day. I am enjoying this series, and I am eager to read more.

Five stars:

★★★★★
chez_jae: (Books)
I finished reading A Cast-Off Coven by Juliet Blackwell last night. It's the second book in her "Witchcraft Mysteries", featuring protagonist Lily Ivory.

Lily is quickly making a home for herself in San Francisco. Her vintage clothing shop is doing well, and she's making friends and dancing around her attraction to Max Carmichael. When Lily's assistant asks her to check out some mysterious noises at the School of Fine Arts in exchange for some vintage clothing discovered there, Lily jumps at the chance. What she assumes is a simple haunting, however, turns out to be much more.

Lily must use her powers as a witch, as well as getting help from other witches in the city, in order to solve a murder and bind a demon.

The story was fast-paced and interesting, and I enjoyed the introduction of some new characters, as well as the blossoming romance between Lily and Max.

Four stars:

★★★★

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