Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Review and Giveaway: A Familiar Tail

A Familiar Tail (Witch's Cat Mystery - Book 1) by Delia James

Publication Date: 02/02/2016
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Obsidian
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 336

(Received for an honest review from Obsidian Mystery)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Delia James on the WEB: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Excerpt from A Familiar Tail, courtesy of the author's website.


Magic and meows meet in the first enchanting Witch’s Cat mystery!
Unlucky-in-love artist Annabelle Britton decides that a visit to the seaside town of  Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is the perfect way to get over her problems. But when she stumbles upon a smoky gray cat named Alastair, and follows him into a charming cottage, Annabelle finds herself in a whole spellbook full of trouble.
Suddenly saddled with a witch's wand and a furry familiar, Annabelle soon meets a friendly group of women who use their spells, charms, and potions to keep the people of Portsmouth safe. But despite their gifts, the witches can’t prevent every wicked deed in town....
Soon, the mystery surrounding Alistair’s former owner, who died under unusual circumstances, grows when another local turns up dead. Armed with magic, friends, and the charmed cat who adopted her more than the other way around, Annabelle sets out to paw through the evidence and uncover a killer.


Delia James starts readers off with the first book in a new paranormal cozy mystery series. The first book in The Witch's Cat mystery series, A Familiar Tail introduces readers to Annabelle Britton who has no idea that the 'vibes' she has had all her life are a bit on the witchy side. Readers looking for a series that is mysterious and magical will find this one right up their alley. With everything from covens to cats, this is a story readers won't soon forget.

What I liked:

As many of you know I am a big fan of paranormal reading and a big fan of cozy mysteries. With Delia James' new series, you get a little bit of both. The paranormal characters in this book happen to be witches, but a knowledge of witchcraft isn't needed to enjoy it. The mystery surrounds the death of woman who has a large cat that attaches itself to the heroine. Both parts of the story work in combination to give the reader an interesting read that has a great paranormal premise.

When it comes to reading this kind of book, I look for a couple of things, background and the balance between paranormal and mystery elements. This is the first book in the series, so we don't have a lot to go on, as far as, background in the beginning. James does a wonderful job of describing Annabelle and her gift. We also meet Alastair, the cat and we learn a lot about Annabelle's family and their connections to the town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Annabelle learns that her vibes are feelings related to the fact that she is a witch. All of this really held my interest as I got to know the heroine and her feline friend. So James gets top marks for the background part of the story. 

Balance is everything when it comes to a series that has to basically marry two genres. James had to give readers a good mystery and a good paranormal tale. I felt like this book leaned a little more to the magical side of things but that stemmed from setting up the series in general. James had to give readers a lot of background here and most of it had to do with witches and covens and the like. The mystery was still a prominent part of the story. 

There's a killer in Portsmouth and Annabelle and her new found friends must figure out whodunit. I liked the mystery aspects of the story for a couple of reasons. Alastair, the cat, belonged to the victim. He has taken up with Annabelle and he such a great part of the story. He basically leads Annabelle to the cottage where is owner lies dead and where the story truly begins. The clues were well thought out and they occurred at the right times in the story. There weren't a lot of red herrings, but that didn't seem necessary with all of the other things going on. When a second murder occurs, things get even more complicated. A very good mystery and paranormal even though the balance was a little off.

What I didn't like:

There wasn't much I didn't like about this one. I was skeptical because there are so many books that involve magical cats. I was expecting it to be a little predictable, but to my surprise it wasn't. Also, most of the paranormal cozies are about witches. I figured that part would be overused as well. But James proved me wrong by giving this one an interesting premise that dealt with witches but wasn't really contingent on knowledge of the craft. So no real complaints here.

Bottom Line:

This is a great new cozy mystery with some very interesting paranormal aspects. Annabelle was a believable heroine and she asked a lot of the right questions. Alastair is a character I am sure than many readers will enjoy. The other ladies of the coven will probably provide great future stories. For the first book in a new series, this one had great background and the balance was pretty good, though not perfect. Read this one... it might change your mind about paranormal cozies.

A Familiar Tail is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

About the Author:

Born in California and raised in Michigan, Delia James writes her tales of magic, cats, and mystery from her hundred-year-old bungalow home. When not writing, she hikes, swims, gardens, cooks, reads, and raises her rapidly growing son.

Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of A Familiar Tail by Delia James.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US Addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, March 8th.

1. Please leave a comment describing a favorite cat you may have had or someone close to you has or had.

2. Please fill out the FORM.


Unknown said...

my favorite cat was one called "whitey"; had him as a child and he was so good natured and sweet.

holdenj said...

My family and the neighors dubbed a large, tabby stray, Mr. Jones. I remember my mom even taking him to the vet. Mr. Jones was a staple for almost a year in the side yard between the houses, then he finally went on his merry way.

traveler said...

Smokey, a cat we had when I was very young, curled up on the best easy chair in the house and basked in the sun.

Linda Kish said...

We had this really cool Maine Coon named Bones. He was a rescue cat the was an indoor cat that had been declawed before we got him. He always wanted to go outside so he would lay on the back of the sofa and dream. Then he got the idea to push the window open with his paw and nose until he could get to the screen, push it out and leave. He would then lie under the sticker bush so I couldn't get him easily to bring him back inside. It was a major feat...the window was 48 X 36!

Karen B said...

1st cat - Mittens - 1950. She always slept with me until one cold winter MN day she discovered that my parents had an electric blanket!

NoraA said...

My niece Jenny has a cat named Benny. He's so laid back as to be almost comatose. LOL He's also a rather LARGE Main Coon. If it weren't for my wife's allergies I'd love to have one as a pet.

NoraAdrienne (at) gmail (dot) com

Unknown said...

I had a Maine Coon named Toes that was a close companion through some of the worst parts of my life. He made it all bearable. I lost him to cancer at the age of 15, he'd be 19 now. I miss him very much.

Unknown said...

I had a Maine Coon named Toes that was a close companion through some of the worst parts of my life. He made it all bearable. I lost him to cancer at the age of 15, he'd be 19 now. I miss him very much.

Wendy Newcomb said...

I have actually had two. One when I was in high school we had a long haired black and white cat that looked like he was wearing pants, so of course that was his name, Pants, lol. Then after I was married and had kids, we actually always said that this one was one belonged to our daughter, again, another black and white but short haired this time. She was born with a white heart on one of her paws so of course her name was Valentine.

Thank you for the chance to win a copy of this book.

wfnren at aol dot com

Bonnie said...

I have a rag doll cat that's huge. He just melts in your arms. He beats up on my dogs though :(

Sue Farrell said...

I've had many cats during my lifetime. The first cat I had as an adult was named Cassius--after Cassius Clay because he was so fierce. I let him screen my boyfriends. If he didn't like someone, I know that guy wasn't for me.

Rita Wray said...

I grew up on a farm and we had a black cat named Pubba, it would sit on my dad's shoulder while he was working. It was cute.

Lois said...

I had cat named Cleo who was a siamese. She thought she was human. Every night when we went to bed she would jump on the bed and put her head on the pillow. She would wait for a good night kisd. It was so funny. I miss her very much.

Debbie S said...

All cats that I have had and do have are favorites, they all have their unique personality. Sparta who passed recently thought he was a dog, nothing bothered him, he learned to sit on command and would wait at the door when he heard hubby coming home. Osaka who I have now is an instigator of the largest kind and I love him to pieces because you never know what he will pull next. Kallispell our newest makes me laugh, she amuses herself by emptying my dresser drawers and piling the clothes nicely in front of the drawers...she looks so pleased with herself when I find it.

Nancy said...

All of our kitties are rescued, one way or another.We had a cat named Tom(My DH wanted to name him). When I was working at the local library, we had the front doors open to let out some of the heat. Anyway, in Tom strolled. We never found his former owners but in the end he came home with me at the end of the day. He was such a gentleman cat with our other cat and he loved being around people. He sort of watch out for the younger cats over the years. He passed away last year. He was a full grown cat when we got him and had him over 14 years. He was gentle natured and let small children pet and love on him. We miss him.

Victoria said...

All of my cats have been favorites for their own reasons. But I will speak of Ewok. He was with me for 21 years. Never had a cat love me like he did. He was 12 pounds of solid muscle with long black fur and green eyes. He would "speak." Each morning when I would get my husband up, Ewok would follow me into the room and proceed to say, "Moooornning Joohn." My hubs was shocked the first time but soon learned to expect it every day ;).

I have a new boy now but I still miss Ewok (it's been 9 years). Sometimes I still think I see him walk past me.

Natasha said...

I had a black cat with a white diamond on his neck named Warlowe.
He was amazing and loved to play!
Thanks for the chance to win!

Elizabeth Schroedle said...

My sister had a big, gray cat named Banshee and our Mom was scared of this cat. Once when my parents were visiting my sister's family, Mom did not notice that the cat was perched on top of the refrigerator until the cat jumped from the frig to the cooking island. Mom was cooking dinner at the time and screamed. Poor Dad, didn't know what had happened.

Anonymous said...

Some of my friends have cats.

Anonymous said...

My favorite cat died about 1 year ago now. We had him for 9 years. We got him from the humane shelter when he was about 7-8 years old. I would get a slightly older cat again.

bn100 said...

no favs

Michelle F. said...

My favorite cat now is Suzie, my Tuxedo cat. She loves to snuggle and also rolls around a lot (roly poly!). I had a white cat named Marshmallow who lived to be at least 19 years old. Another favorite was Sheba, a black cat. Fluffy, a black and white cat, was a real sweetheart and could've been a therapy cat. All our cats were strays that had been wandering around outside.