Monday, June 29, 2015

Reading Challenge Update

Earlier this year I posted about trying a reading challenge with specific categories. I took the challenge to read fifty books with ideas ranging from "Friend Favorite" to "Written over 100 years ago" by the end of 2015 to coincide with my Goodreads challenge to simply read 50 books in a year. I'm on track with the Goodreads count (24 of the 50) but not so much on the other one. With CampNaNo coming in a couple of days, reading time will be severely limited. Then the new semester starts in September where my instructors choose most of my reading until December. As it is, I've completed only these seven categories:
  • Number in the title - One of Chuck Wendig's writing guides
  • Female Author - The Whole Cat and Caboodle by Sofie Ryan
  • Short Stories - Best Japanese Science Fiction Stories (a cool anthology from the '80s)
  • Story with Magick - Spell Booked by the Lavenes (see review on this site)
  • New-to-you Author - If You've Got it Haunt It by Rose Pressey (CMM review coming soon)
  • Book you can finish in a day - Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (FABULOUS BOOK)
  • Recommended by a friend - Wind-Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (MUST READ for everyone)
As you may have noticed, I have several cozies on the list so far. They're quick and easy to read so they fill the list better than more serious fiction. I plan to read only two more cozies (the latest two Magical Cats mysteries by Sofie Kelly). The rest will take me out of my comfort zone to include several literary titles I should've already read and lots of things I'd never heard of or considered. Since I've completed so few I'll just continue reading until I've read them all, challenge or not. Next on my list? A book that got bad reviews - The Great Gatsby. This fact surprised me quite a bit. A literary classic on pretty much every school reading across the country got bad reviews. But then so did To Kill a Mockingbird. I loved To Kill a Mockingbird and can't wait for the sequel in July (filling the category of book published this year). It just goes to show you shouldn't always buy into the reviews (mine included) if something sounds good to you.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

New Altar

I finally got the new shelf for a small wall altar. Keeping my felines out of my magick should be a bit easier now. It has a dreams candle and my "wishes & dreams" jar with focus elements for learning genealogy professionally and writing. The incense is for meditation to put me in the right frame of mind to accomplish my goals. The bracelet was created by a dear friend who always encouraged me to do my best. I'll keep you posted on the results. :)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cozy Mystery Monday - Charmed to Death

My next review returns to the Ophelia and Abby Mysteries with the second book in the series, "Charmed to Death" by Shirley Damsgaard. I'm pretty sure I'll start to sound like a broken record when discussing this series. Even with all the new paranormal/witchy cozies being published, I've yet to find any that can knock Ophelia and Abby out of the top slot.

The story picks up a few months after the first book. Ophelia Jensen has accepted her talents and begun training with her grandmother to learn the right way to use her gifts. It's in this second story that Ophelia received a set of runes, passed down from her great grandmother, that will become a major tool for her magick throughout the rest of the series. She's still hesitant, and occasionally impatient and flippant, about her abilities out of fear and ignorance. She'll eventually grow out of that as she fully embraces her magick.

This time around Ophelia must find out how the death of a kind local man is tied to the new corporate pig farm that just moved to Summerset, angering most of the farmers in the area (including Abby), and possibly the murder of her best friend Brian five years previously. It was his murder and her inability to prevent it that caused Ophelia to turn her back on her gifts. The pace of the story flows well, and though the who in the whodunit was fairly easy to figure out, the depth of their insanity was unexpected. My only quibble with it was the tired trope of modern witch hunters having direct ancestral ties to someone involved in the Salem Witch Trials. There are enough present-day paranoid (and sociopathic) people who fear witches without the need to dredge up Salem for an antagonist.

One of the things I like about this series is the author's respect for her protagonists. Abby is the strong, loving grandma we all know and love dearly but know better than to cross. Ophelia is intelligent and growing into her strength after years of hiding from the world. She doesn't generally wander off looking for trouble. It finds her and she uses her head (and her magick) to get out of sticky situations. A ditzy protagonist will turn me off a series every time, no matter how educated the person is supposed to be. Damsgaard also handles the magick with utmost respect, both with Abby's vast wealth of knowledge and Ophelia's realistic growing pains.

Three pistols for an interesting mystery, even if it was not a surprise. Four flying brooms for realistic representation of elemental magick and rune divination. And Abby. She's more than worth the price of the book all on her own.
June Reviews Link-up