Friday, October 28, 2016

The Witch's Daughter

Part historical romance, part modern fantasy...

Amazon  |  Book Depository

Summary (via In the spring of 1628, the Witchfinder of Wessex finds himself a true Witch. As Bess Hawksmith watches her mother swing from the Hanging Tree she knows that only one man can save her from the same fate at the hands of the panicked mob: the Warlock Gideon Masters, and his Book of Shadows. Secluded at his cottage in the woods, Gideon instructs Bess in the Craft, awakening formidable powers she didn't know she had and making her immortal. She couldn't have foreseen that even now, centuries later, he would be hunting her across time, determined to claim payment for saving her life.

In present-day England, Elizabeth has built a quiet life for herself, tending her garden and selling herbs and oils at the local farmers' market. But her solitude abruptly ends when a teenage girl called Tegan starts hanging around. Against her better judgment, Elizabeth begins teaching Tegan the ways of the Hedge Witch, in the process awakening memories—and demons—long thought forgotten.

Readers will long remember the fiercely independent heroine who survives plagues, wars, and the heartbreak that comes with immortality to remain true to herself, and protect the protégé she comes to love.

The Return of the Witch is the sequel to The Witch's Daughter
The other three books are separate 'witchy' stories.

Review (3/5 stars): I picked up the audio version of this book because I had been reading a lot of cutesy mysteries featuring witches. I knew it would be a little heavier than what I had been reading, but this is really totally different. It's serious, and heavy, and dark.

I began to wonder if this book is supposed to be more of a thriller, which I don't normally read, but even the 'scariest' bits weren't all that frightening.

I think the premise of the book is interesting but I did have a few problems with some of the plot points. Some things seemed to drag on forever and then suddenly everything you could imagine would happen in the blink of an eye. And Bess, who is supposedly a witch beyond compare, rarely listened to her intuition and more than once was easily fooled by Gideon. It just didn't jive for me.

There are a couple of explicit scenes, one sexual and a couple more on the gore side, but that side of things doesn't feature too heavily.

Teagan was definitely not my favourite character. I struggle to understand Elizebth's (Bess's) attraction to her. She came across as your stereotypical, stroppy teen-anger with not much in her head. Elizabeth even says more than once that Teagan is immature. Why then would she choose Teagan of all people to share her knowledge with? 

I'm on the fence with this book, but if you like a little mystery, a little fantasy, and a little time travel, then you'll probably enjoy it.

The author-Paula Brackston
If you visit Paula Brackston's site, you'll find an interview, some background on the writing of this book, and discussion questions for book groups.

It's the end of the month so that means it's the end of my list of spooky books.  I hope you enjoyed my picks and found some new books to read!  Leave a comment below with your favourites~

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Witches of East End

The book that inspired the TV show...

Amazon  |  Book Depository
Summary (via  It's the beginning of summer in North Hampton, and beautiful Frey Beauchamp is celebrating her engagement to wealthy Bran Gardiner, the heir to Fair Have and Gardiners Island.  But Freya is drawn to Bran's gorgeous but unreliable brother Killian, and sparks fly when the two decide to play a dangerous game, following an ancient story of love, betrayal and tragedy that harks back to the days of Valhalla.

Witches of East End follows the Beauchamp family-the formidable matriarch Joanna and her daughters Frey and Ingrid.  Freya, a sexy bartender, has a potion to cure every kind of heartache, while Ingrid, the local librarian, solves complicated domestic problems with her ability to tie magical knots.  Joanna is the witch to see when modern medicine has no more answers; her powers can wake the dead.   Everything seems to be going smoothly until a young girl, Molly Lancaster, goes missing after taking one of Freya's irresistible cocktails.  As more of the town's residents begin disappearing, everyone seems to have the same suspects in mind: the Beauchamp women.

There are 2 more books in this series!
Review: (3/5 stars): Let me preface this by saying that I binge watched the TV series on Netflix long before I knew it was based on a book, so the entire time I was reading this first installment, my head was picturing the TV show. And I have to admit, that this might be one of those rare circumstances where the book is not as good as the movie/TV show.

The storyline in the TV series is quite different from the one in the book on many levels. That being said, if I had never seen the TV show, I think I would've enjoyed this book, up until the ending. That part felt a little rushed and forced.

Still, I liked getting to know the characters, although why they live the mundane lives they do, working at jobs most of us would consider the first rung on a ladder, is hard to comprehend. I will read the next book in the series, but I think that's mostly because again, I loved the TV show so much.

              Season 1, episode 1

Did you watch the show or read the books?  What did you think?  Leave a comment below~

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Witchcraft Mysteries

More occult fun from Juliet Blackwell!

Summary (via Lily Ivory is not your average witch. Her spell-casting powers tend to draw mischievous spirits while keeping normal humans at a distance. But now her vintage clothing store could give her a chance to make friends in San Francisco....

Lily hopes for a normal life when she opens Aunt Cora's Closet. With her magical knack for vintage fashion -she can sense vibrations of the past from clothing and jewelry—her store becomes a big hit.

But when a client is murdered and children start disappearing from the Bay Area, Lily may be the only one who can unravel the crime. She tries to keep her identity a secret while investigating, but it's not easy—especially under the spells of sexy "mythbuster" Max Carmichael and powerful witch Aidan Rhodes. Will Lily's witchy ways be forced out of the closet?
The rest of the series~
Review (4/5 stars): I'll give you my review overall of the entire series....because I loved the books so much and there are so many of them.

This is the series that introduced me to this fun little witchy sub genre of the mystery section of the book store and got me hooked!  The main characters of each book are all very loveable.  You'll find yourself wishing you could be part of their little circle.

The series is set in San Francisco, which is itself a great backdrop, but on top of that it's nice that's it's a large enough city that we're not constantly losing beloved characters either by having them killed off or by being caught out as a murderer!  There are enough strangers for Lily to cross paths with to keep her busy with her witch crafting and sleuthing for plenty more books, and I do hope there will be more.

In each book we get to know Lily a little better.  We learn more about her past and her witchy ways.  You can easily enter this series with just about any book, because Juliet Blackwell is a master at engaging the reader and making sure that you have everything you need to understand what's going on.

Hear all about the series from straight from the author above or you can read excerpts from the books HERE~

Thursday, October 20, 2016

If Walls Could Talk

Another fun, cute, and mildly spooky book for October~

Amazon | Book Depository

Summary (Via Melanie Turner has made quite a name for herself remodeling historic houses in the San Francisco Bay Area. But now her reputation may be on the line. 

At her newest project, a run-down Pacific Heights mansion, Mel is visited by the ghost of a colleague who recently met a bad end with power tools. Mel hopes that by nailing the killer, she can rid herself of the ghostly presence of the murdered man-and not end up a construction casualty herself...

Review (3/5 stars): This another fun occult type mystery book from Juliet Black. I enjoyed her witchy series (more on that tomorrow) from the same genre so I thought I'd give this one a go. 

It's very similar to her other books but these are completely different characters, still in San Francisco, but this time in construction rather than vintage fashion. 

Blackwell is always good at weaving an interesting story and unfolding it layer by layer. And the narration is always well done.

The lead character, Mel, is relatable, in her distrust of men and her urge to run off but being too tied down with responsibility to actually do so. There was one conversation in the book that I thought was a little insensitive and not very politically correct, but I don't think the author was intentionally trying to be disrespectful. The book was released five years ago and even in that short time, society had become a little more knowledgeable and more sensitive, so this may have just been an influence of that time.

Overall I enjoyed the audio version and will probably take the time to get to know the characters more by picking up the next installment soon.

Spooky Books

Are you a believer?  Have you ever seen a ghost?  Leave a comment below...I know you want to!

The rest of the series~
Intrigued??? You can read an excerpt from the book HERE, or listen to a snip of the first chapter of the audio book HERE.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Simple Bag

This post originally appeared on my crafting blog, Etcetorize, back in 2014.  If you're short on time and want a fun and easy book bag or treat sack, then this is a great tutorial for you!

Do you have some little goblins that you have to take out Trick or Treating soon?  Here's a fast and easy project to help you gather their goodies~

DIY Treat Bag, DIY Halloween Bag, Spider Bag

Here's what you need to make your own Trick or Treat Bag:
-Non stretch fabric
-standard sewing kit

This is so easy and I was just whipping these up as a little scrapbuster so I didn't decide to do a tutorial until
I had already completed a few steps.  Also, you don't have to follow these measurements exactly.  I was just 
using up a scrap of fabric I found tucked away and was just trying to use it all up.

1) In any case, I cut 2 pieces of the large rectangle shape and 2 of the long skinny one. (That's 17" right from
 the top to the very bottom of the big one, just ignore the cut outs at the bottom until the next step.)

2) Now you can cut out 2 little squares from each bottom corner of the large piece.  Mine are about 1 3/4" 

3) First we'll make some handles.  If you don't have enough fabric or you want something really sturdy you
 can use webbing.

Simpy fold each long skinny rectangle, right sides together, and stitch along the the entire long edge.  Zig zag
 or serge and then turn and press the seam along the centre back.  I'm using some kind of nylon lining type of
 material so kept my iron quite low and used a pressing cloth to make sure I didn't melt it.

4) Set your handles aside and stitch the bottom and two sides of the main body of your bag. Finish your 
edges (!) and press to one side.

5) Now pinch the bottom corners, meeting your side seams with your bottom seam.  Pin and stitch across.
You should get some nice sharp boxy corners.  If you're using a heavier fabric you might need to trim across
the corners.  Finish the edges and turn your bag body right side out.

6) Finish the top edge of your bag body, fold about 1" towards the inside and stitch down.

7) Now just attach your handles.  Measure in an equal amount from each side and mark.  Turn the bottom of
 you strap up about 1".  Pin to mark and stitch down in an "x" pattern.  You'll want to collect as much candy 
as possible and this will make sure that your straps won't fall off half way through your neighbourhood rounds.

That's it!  Just throw on that Elsa costume that all the girls are wearing and head out from some treats!

I sent my bags to my niece and nephew along with a couple of little easy to  make pillow treat boxes.

Check out my Sharp Corners Ahead project and use the boxy corner method to make a cushion.

Are you dressing up this year?  Did you make your own costume?  Leave a comment below! 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Magic Potion Mysteries

If you enjoy reading about cute witches who are on the side of the good, have loads of interesting characters in their lives, and manage to solve a crime or two along the way, then you'll enjoy this wonderful (albeit short) series of books from Heather Blake.

Book Depository has all three books, with no shipping fees!
These books were my first foray into this genre, which I didn't even know existed, and they hooked me in.  I enjoyed all the quirky characters, the mysteries that weren't completely convoluted and confusing, and I even like the cute and colorful book covers.

As usual, I listened to the audio version of these books and they're all wonderfully performed.

Here's a summary of each of the three books, straight from Heather Blake's website:

A Potion to Die For: 
As the owner of the Little Shop of Potions, a magic potion shop specializing in love potions, Carly Bell Hartwell finds her product more in demand than ever. A local soothsayer has predicted that a couple in town will soon divorce—and now it seems every married person in Hitching Post, Alabama, wants a little extra matrimonial magic to make sure they stay hitched.

But when Carly finds a dead man in her shop, clutching one of her potion bottles, she goes from most popular potion person to public enemy number one. In no time the murder investigation becomes a witch hunt—literally! 

Now Carly is going to need to brew up some serious sleuthing skills to clear her name and find the real killer—before the whole town becomes convinced her potions really are to die for!

One Potion in the Grave:

Carly Bell Hartwell’s love potions are always in demand in Hitching Post, Alabama, the wedding capital of the South.…

When Katie Sue Perrywinkle walks into the Little Shop of Potions, Carly is surprised and delighted to see her old childhood friend. Katie Sue fled her hometown and a troubled family over a decade ago. But she’s not back for a social visit. She’s come to settle a score with Senator Warren Calhoun, who is in town for his son’s high-profile wedding.

But before Katie Sue has a chance to voice any objections, she’s forced to forever hold her peace. After finding her friend dead, Carly vows to find her murderer. Were the corrupt Calhouns willing to go to any lengths to avoid a scandal? Did Katie Sue’s family take the term “bad blood” to a whole new level? And why did the bride-to-be come to Carly for a love potion? As Carly gets closer to the truth, a killer is planning a very chilly reception.…

Ghost of a Potion:
It's Halloween in Hitching Post, Alabama, and potion shop owner Carly Bell Hartwell has an especially spooky customer to handle... 

With all the ghosts that haunt her at this time of the year, Carly doesn't exactly rush to celebrate Halloween.  Even a costume ball organized by her boyfriend Dylan's mother, Patricia Davis Jackson, holds little allure.  But to please Dylan, who wants peace between the two women, Carly reluctantly agrees to go.

Gossip around town is that architect Haywood Dodd plans to make a big announcement at the party.  But before he can address the crow, he's found dead with Patricia over him, holding the murder weapon.  Anxious to clear Patricia's name and perhaps broker a truce with her, Carly would love to use her snooping skills to find the real killer.  Only she has bigger problems to deal with-ghosts are flocking to her for help, including a very persistent Haywood Dodd...

I really enjoy Heather Blake's writing.  Although these books are a series, she manages to give you all the background you need to know without being overly repetitive in each book, so you can start with any one you want.

The books are infused with just the right amount of humour and touching moment to make them thoroughly entertaining.  I think one of the things I enjoy most about the main character, Carly Bell, is that she's flawed.  She makes mistakes, she gossips, she's afraid of short, she's human.

These are fun little books that are easy to read but will still get your mind working, trying to figure otu which of the many cast of characters in zany Hitchingpost is the one who committed the latest crime.

Overall, I'd use the word 'cute' to describe this series.  The characters and the town have just enough of the stereotypical southerness about them to make you forgive their rudeness and eccentricities. 

The only thing that disappointed me is that there are only three books in the series.  I'd really like to see the story continued.  The good news is that Heather Blake has another witch series of books that currently has 7 installments, called the Wishcraft series.

These books aren't all that spooky, but there are witches, spells, and ghosts, so I think it counts~

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Diviner's Tale

Don't's Spooky Books Month here at EtcetorizeReads!

Amazon | Book Depository

Summary (via Goodreads): Walking a lonely forested valley on a spring morning in upstate New York, having been hired by a developer to dowse the land, Cassandra Brooks comes upon the shocking vision of a young girl hanged from a tree. When she returns with authorities to the site, the body has vanished, leaving in question Cassandra’s credibility if not her sanity. The next day, on a return visit with the sheriff to have another look, a dazed, mute missing girl emerges from the woods, alive and the very picture of Cassandra’s hanged girl. 

What follows is the narrative of ever-deepening and increasingly bizarre divinations that will lead this gifted young woman, the struggling single mother of twin boys, hurtling toward a past she’d long since thought was behind her. The Diviner’s Tale is at once a journey of self-discovery and an unorthodox murder mystery, a tale of the fantastic and a family chronicle told by an otherwise ordinary woman. 

When Cassandra’s dark forebodings take on tangible form, she is forced to confront a life spiraling out of control. And soon she is locked in a mortal chess match with a real-life killer who has haunted her since before she can remember.
The book is not about this kind of diviner...

It is about this kind of diviner....
but you can see where the two might meet up~

Review (2 out of 5 stars): As I mentioned last week, I don't actually read all that  many scary books.  For anyone else out there like me who doesn't like being scared, this one is just a little spooky.  There are some ghosts or apparitions and some creepy things happen, but nothing that will scare your socks off.  So, on with the review...

I'm not sure if it's because I wasn't paying close enough attention to the audio version of this book or if it's the style of writing, but I found the narrative a little difficult to follow and confusing at times. At one point the main character is reminiscing about some horrific event from her childhood and then suddenly out of nowhere she's on a date in the present and then she wakes up from a dream??? 

There are some good bits, and of course you're meant to fall in love with Cassandra's father, and you will, but her sons came across to me as major annoying know-it-alls. The one time I liked one of them was when Cass tried to stick her head in the ground (yet again) and insist he didn't see something that he in fact did see, and he just told her she was wrong, wrong, wrong. I also liked when her cop friend asked her what kind of game she was playing, because it felt a bit like that's what she was doing.

I get that she had difficulty in discerning what was real and what wasn't but her constant denial of what was reality was fairly annoying. This book isn't really what I thought it would be. It's not horrible, but it's unfortunately not going to make it to my list of fav reads this summer either.

If you like books that have a very extensive, contrived, and meandering lead up to the climax then you actually might enjoy this book. This one just wasn't for me.

Want to learn more?  In the video below, the author tells you how he came up with the idea for the book and reads an excerpt from the beginning of the book~

What do you think about diviners and/or diviners???  Leave a comment below~

Monday, October 10, 2016

Friday, October 7, 2016

Brownies and Broomsticks

While this book isn't exactly spooky or scary, a good witch book can make the lead up to Halloween fun too!

Amazon | Book Depository

Summary (via Katie Lightfoot's tired of loafing around as the assistant manager of an Ohio bakery. So when her aunt Lucy and uncle Ben open a bakery in Savannah's quaint downtown district and ask Katie to join them, she enthusiastically agrees. 

While working at the Honeybee Bakery—named after Lucy's cat—Katie notices that her aunt is adding mysterious herbs to her recipes. Turns out these herbal enhancements aren't just tasty—Aunt Lucy is a witch and her recipes are actually spells! 

When a curmudgeonly customer is murdered outside the Honeybee Bakery, Uncle Ben becomes the prime suspect. With the help of handsome journalist Steve Dawes, charming firefighter Declan McCarthy, and a few spells, Katie and Aunt Lucy stir up some toil and trouble to clear Ben's name and find the real killer..
I'm no baker, so here's a link to the people who know what they're doing:
Hershey's Canada has pages and page of brownie recipes just for you!
Review: Unlike other series from this genre that I've read, the main character in this book-Katie, is just being introduced to the idea of the fact that she's a witch. It's interesting to watch her open up to the possibility and begin to learn the craft from her new friends.

He aunt's 'book club coven' is such a cute and well rounded group of witches too! They each bring something special to the table. This is nice because although we get hints that Katie is probably pretty powerful, she doesn't have to instantly be all things all at once. She can draw on and learn from each of the ladies and their special talents. This gives us something to look forward to in future installments of the series and more than one character to be interested in.

These types of books are just fun and easy reads but I really enjoy them and I'm looking forward to reading more books in the series.
I had no idea there was entire genre of 'chick lit' type books that involved witches until about a year ago.  They're usually pretty quick reads, and a bit predictable, but they're a fun guilty pleasure.  Do read witchy novels?  They usually come in a series.  Do you have a favourite?  Leave a comment below!