Five Things (22)

Five cozy mystery series with a magical twist.

Does it have mystery or intrigue; I’ll read it! Whether it’s Agatha Christie or Tara French, any novel with a good mystery and a good twist is a novel for me. I’ve started reading more in the cozy mystery subgenre since the shutdown as a way to get away from “real life” so I feel like I have a good selection of books I can recommend.
Cozy mysteries that I gravitate towards generally have three key elements:
a. there must be an amateur sleuth and the crime affects either the amateur or their friend/loved one.
b. a romantic interest that’s either in law enforcement, or law enforcement adjacent, or else some close friend turned love interest.
c. most of the novel is spent doing something completely unrelated to the crime (which happens off page) like attending parties, baking cookies, knitting… you get the drift.

Within the cozy mystery subgenre, my favorite type is a cozy with a magical twist! These are cozies where the protagonist is also a magical person, like a witch or a psychic. I tend to lean toward the witch device, so here are five cozy mysteries with a magical twist.

Kicking this off with the witchy cozy mystery that made me love the witchy cozy mystery subgenre – Heather Blake’s Wishcraft Mystery. This remains one of my top five cozy mysteries. Darcy and Harper recently lost their dad when their mom’s sister comes back into their lives to tell them that they are witches, and not just any kind of witches but witches that grant wishes. It’s such a funny premise but quite endearing and the characters are pretty out there, but somehow it all works. The romantic interest is of course a retired cop – a single dad with an eleven-year-old who later goes back into law enforcement. There are nine books in the series and while you don’t have to read them in order I would recommend reading them in order since there are some repeating themes that tie the entire series together.

Amanda Flower’s Magical Bookshop series with fun names like Crime and Poetry, and Prose and Cons is next. Currently, there are five books out about Violet, who rushed to her grandma Daisy after she thought Daisy was ill. Instead, she found that Daisy tricked her into coming back to her small town so she could continue the family legacy of running the magical bookshop – the one with a huge magical tree growing inside. Violet ends up staying after her Grandma becomes a prime suspect in a murder case and of course, with the help of the books (yes books) and a magical cat, she solves the crime! This one also has a law enforcement beau, though that comes a little later in the series.

Due to the campiness of the premise I have to include Nancy Warren’s Vampire Knitting Club. Lucy’s grandmother died and left her a knit shop in Oxford so, to get away from her annoying ex she decided to spend time running the shop. Except, her grandmother isn’t really dead because she is a vampire, and those vampires meet in the shop at night to knit; oh, and Lucy finds out from her grandmother that she’s a witch. It’s so silly, and even though they didn’t play the witch plot up as much as I hoped I still devoured all fourteen books. While the love interest here isn’t law enforcement adjacent, he is a vampire who was around since the Elizabethan times. I do have to make an honorable mention to Warren’s Village Flower Shop series which also follows a witch but this time the magic is explored more.

While I consider Juliet Blackwell’s Witchcraft Mystery series to be cozy I think this one might be a bit darker than the rest. Lily runs a vintage clothing shop and part of her magic is to feel vibrations off of old clothing, so a lot of the mysteries deal with clothing in some way. I’ve read the first three from the series so far and will definitely keep reading but I like to keep these for the fall when the spooky season rolls around. I say it’s a little darker because it explores a lot of legends and Blackwell’s descriptions are so immersive at times that you may or may not want to keep the lights on when you go to bed.

While there are only two books in the series and the author has yet to announce a third I will also mention Auralee Wallace’s Evenfall Witches B&B series. Brynn is living with her aunts after the death of her husband. Brynn’s magic is affected – she can speak to the dead – and so we see her dealing with both losses while also trying to save her aunt from a murder conviction. It has a large cast of characters and all of them are interesting to read, the aunts in this series remind me slightly of a version of Zelda and Hilda from Sabrina. From what I found online, Wallace has been sick so unable to write, I wish her well and a speedy recovery.

Happy reading!


“Oh,” Harper said solemnly. “I love books.”

Heather Blake, It Takes a Witch

Philly – A Weekend

There was a part of me that assumed I couldn’t travel on my own, and it was that part of me that I wanted to challenge. Travelling with friends is fun – as long as you and the friends are compatible travelling companions, and I’m lucky to have some good friends that are great travel buddies. Still, I wondered what it would be like to set my own pace, to wake up at 11 am and spend three hours wandering a museum or sitting in a park reading a newly purchased book from the local bookstore, simply because I fancied doing so at the time. So, when I was started feeling a deep desire to spend time alone, I took a random weekend trip to Philadelphia.

I had to set goals, I wanted to see two places of interest, the Liberty Bell and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and I wanted to visit at least one local bookstore – if I purchase something, that would be a plus!

After arriving by Amtrak on Friday afternoon, making my way to my Airbnb for the weekend (in the heart of the city!) and finding some cheesesteak at Reading Terminal Market, I decided to map out my weekend. The next day I’d try to visit the Liberty Bell and take a walk across town to the museum, then the following day it would be bookstores and shops. Continue reading

Snow. Five Things (17)

Miles ran: 17.1 | Miles cycled: 0 | Steps: 258,297

— Thing One —

On Friday night, a light snowfall began. The light of the moon reflected off the tiny flakes causing an ethereal glow. Have you ever considered the beauty in freshly fallen snow?

Of course, 24-hours later, back and shoulders burning from shoveling thrice in the same spot to see the ground, I considered a snowblower. The snow threw me off my running, but today I ventured out again, happy to see at least three other people running in the park with me and no snow/ice on the path.

— Thing Two —

Being stuck indoors can be a drag, but I’ve recently picked up my reading again and managed to finished two books while stuck indoors. The Malediction Trilogy was recommended by a reliable reading source, and it wasn’t until book two in the trilogy that we both realized that book three will not be released until May!

It’s nothing entirely different from the typical YA fantasy lot – curse, creatures with magical powers and a protagonist who isn’t aware of their special abilities – but what did make it stand out from its compatriots was the lack of the dreaded love triangle and insta-love that seems to plague the shelves and turned me off of YA fantasy for a little while.  After finishing the second in the series, I started looking for other reads and have since pre-ordered four books (book three included). One of which downloaded this Thursday and which I have already finished.

— Thing Three —

I have also been catching up on Doctor Who. I have two episodes (excluding the special) that I need to watch, but I’m afraid to finish watching them because I’m so sad about what happened in Face the Raven.

— Thing Four —

In other attempts at being healthy – or eating well – I have joined Blue Apron and received my first package this week. It was a bit of an inconvenience – the address mix up and all – but I finally got the box delivered to my home and made two meals from the three.

If there is one thing that Blue Apron teaches you, it’s that cooking isn’t difficult and making delicious dishes isn’t a hard task.

— Thing Five —

I helped a friend out this week, and it involved taking out my guitar – which I belatedly realized needing its strings changed, badly! That night, I felt a strange buzzing energy pushing through my weariness, it has been a while since I played/lead in this way, and it felt really good. Coming from a period where I have contemplated quitting, I think this was the best thing that could have happened. I have to think on this more, but it’s quite a thing.


The Year in Books

2015 was a terrible reading year for me! I spent a lot of my commute looking out the window as the city zipped by, instead of reading as I usually do. January started off brilliantly, but then February happened, and it was all downhill from there for a few months. I did pick up in November, but by then it was much too late to do any significant damage to my TBR pile.

Of the ones I read, three good reads (across different genres) were, Defying ISIS – a book about the issues that we’re facing globally, and what Christians can do. A lot has happened since this book published, but it’s still a great read.  Food Rules, for anyone who is interested in overall healthy eating, and, The Day the Crayons Came Home, companion to The Day the Crayons Quit – which I will read out loud to you if I corner you in a bookstore.

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*One book missing from this pile is Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) by Christian Rudder, which was also an insightful read.


A Few of My Favourite Things

It’s December! I can’t believe it but it’s true. It seems that times speeds up, relative to the responsibilities on your plate. So here we are, the first day of December and I had a wacky thought – what if, for every day this month, I write a post about one thing that I love? I don’t know if I can REALLY do 31 posts, but I can try, so here goes!



Coming off of November the one thing on my mind is NaNoWriMo! I won again this year and I’m SO HAPPY about that! I wasn’t planning on doing it and I didn’t really have an idea, but October came around and I felt like I wanted to try it again, so I took a story that was sort of flowing in my head for a while now, and decided to write it down.

Last year I wrote a little about my process (or lack thereof). A few things remained the same from last year, but this year I realized that I can plot – given the right tools.

In October I bought an app called Index Card. It’s a really great app that lets you brainstorm and plot your ideas on a cork board. It’s very flexible and doesn’t force you to work in a certain template so I was able to create my own flow and stacks without feeling boxed in. The best part was, since it was on my iPad I could carry it around with me and work with it on my commute without carrying around a big bag.

For the actual writing I used Scrivener. I first hear of the app from Justine Larbalestier, who posted about using it to write Liar (a really great book if you love unreliable narrators). Around that time I downloaded a trial version of the program and tried it out, it was a nice app, but I wasn’t writing anything at that moment so I forgot about it. That is, until last year when a friend of mine mentioned Scrivener to me for NaNoWriMo and I decided to give it another go. I bought the full version, imported my Word document and never looked back.

I absolutely LOVE Scrivener. I know that there are other apps out there that work similarly, but I appreciate that Scrivener has a lot of heavy-duty tools but still allows you the simplicity of just writing and ignoring the bells and whistles until you are ready.

I used the Index card as a guideline and then translated those cards to Scrivener where I fleshed out the story. If writing is something you love doing, I strongly suggest checking them out to see if they work for you!


On repeat: Sleigh Bells by Fun.