Review: Witch Way to Murder

Title: Witch Way to Murder
Author: Shirley Damsgaard
Place/s visited:

  • Summerset, Iowa

Thoughts:
I was quite excited to read this one as it presented a great, new opportunity for me to enjoy a new book. The story had a slow start but the action and mystery sure did pick up right towards the later part of the novel.

Ophelia Jensen is a librarian at a small public library in Summerset, Iowa. Unbeknownst to other residents, Ophelia and her grandma Abby possess psychic gifts although Ophelia is quite adamant about not using it after it had seemed to fail her by not preventing her friend Brian’s murder when she was still working at the University of Iowa.

Fast forward four years, her talents started manifesting again following a murder whose victim Ophelia and one of the other main characters, Rick, found. What ensued was a bizarre mix of petty crimes and incidents which dropped hints and clues here and there leading towards the big finish, some romance, which, although quite obvious, did not develop that naturally to my taste, some humor provided by the protagonist’s sidekick, Darci, and a quite satisfactory ending.

The mystery in itself was a bit convoluted although the author tried her best to tie things up at the end. While I like that Ophelia did finally want to move past her reticence and reluctance in using her gifts, there were times when she was just a tad irritating in insisting on locking away her potential. Her moments of helplessness were quite maddening, too. Rick, on the other hand, while described as charming by the author, was just annoying at the start after dogging Ophelia and the others with his questions. He later mellowed and started redeeming himself in my eyes. Trust me, it took a really long time before I started to be okay with him. Haha!

My favorite characters would have to be Darci and Abby. Though they weren’t as fleshed out as Ophelia in characterization, they’ve more than made up for it with their spunk, wit and humor.

For my final notes, I would gladly return to Summerset and revisit these characters but that may take a while as I have decided to explore other books for the Paranormal Reading Challenge 2017. (I have just updated the list of what books I’ll be reading and reviewing for that particular challenge so you might want to check that out. ^_^)

If you’re into witches and cozy murder mysteries, then Witch Way to Murder is a good choice to pass the time especially on a cold, rainy afternoon like we’re having in Cebu today. 🙂

Verdict: A light carry-on luggage / a fun start to a new series; okay enough while waiting for your flight to be called for boarding

I’m reviewing this book as part of the Paranormal Reading Challenge 2017.
Sign-ups open throughout the year– http://www.wholelattebooks.com/2016/12/the-2017-paranormal-reading-challenge.html!


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Book image owned by the author and publisher.
Original image of the world map from www.drodd.com.
All other images in this post are copyrighted by The Traveling Reader, 2017.

Review: Maman’s Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen

Title: Maman’s Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen
Author: Donia Bijan
Place/s visited:

  • Tehran, Iran
  • Majorca, Spain
  • Fresno, California, USA

Thoughts:
Why do we chronicle our lives? Is it because we have accomplished so much that we want people to know just how good our lives have been? Or is it because we are vain and we just can’t resist a little bit of boasting? Or is it because deep down we know we have a good story to tell that other people would learn some from?
Probably a little bit of everything of those. And that’s what this book is about and more.

Connecting anecdotes and snippets of the Bijans’ lives through food and recipes learned at her mother’s kitchen and recipe books, author Donia Bijan has crafted a memoir suffused with happiness, contentment and a yearning for an easier time in the past. These tales are nothing short of mesmerizing as they paint in your mind a tableau worthy of a five-course meal in a five-star restaurant. My favorite scenes were of the author’s younger self picking sour cherries from the trees they have grown at the back of the hospital that their family has built and their travel to Majorca where their explorations of the local cuisine has induced some hunger pangs in me. Oh, to have the means to take off for some time just to soak in a new culture and what they have to offer on the table and not be bothered to hurry from one tourist spot to another but I digress.

More than just a foodie book (and a really good one at that based on the salivating I was making while trying to finish it), the accounts told of her parents’ sacrifice and exodus and eventual stay in America were what made this book solid for me. While I did enjoy all the food discussions, I sometimes found myself losing focus because I couldn’t relate to the author’s experience. There was just a slight tinge of “haughtiness” appearing here and there, probably because the narratives are told in a light and breezy manner despite the seriousness of some of the topics, though that didn’t distract me much as all the food things reeled me back in. I couldn’t help but feel that with stories like this, some of the events that happened tended to be romanticized rather than viewed and reported through the hard lenses of reality. This is not a perfect tome but since I wasn’t looking for one, this was still totally enjoyable to me.

Verdict: A jetsetter’s must-have — Quite right when reading through flights / learning more about Persian cooking

I’m reviewing this book as part of the Foodies Read 2017 Challenge.
Sign-ups for January still available until 1/31 — http://www.spiritblog.net/january-2017-foodies-read/!


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Book image owned by the author and publisher.
Original image of the world map from www.drodd.com.
All other images in this post are copyrighted by The Traveling Reader, 2017.

Retellings Reading Challenge 2017

Anyone who loves folk and fairy tales as much as I do would be over the moon in excitement with the Retellings Reading Challenge 2017.

My not-so-short shortlist (hehe):

Join us and give this awesome reading challenge a try!
Sign-ups here:
http://www.onceuponabookcase.co.uk/p/retellings-reading-challenge-2017.html

I’ve already signed up and I’m #39!

Promote the challenge by using the hashtag #RetellingsRC2017!

All my progress would be posted here. Please stay tuned. 🙂

And you can check out what other reading challenges I’ve joined this year here:
https://thetravelingreader.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/2017-reading-challenges/


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Book images are owned by their respective authors and publishers.
All other images in this post are copyrighted by The Traveling Reader, 2017.

Paranormal Reading Challenge 2017

Who doesn’t love a good paranormal creature (in books that is)?

Been wanting to expand my reading horizons that’s why I’m joining reading challenges that I haven’t had the opportunity before. And this year, I’ve decided to give the Paranormal Reading Challenge a try.

My shortlist for now:

When you have time, do try this awesome reading challenge with me and everyone else who want to be spooked a bit (or drool over a gorgeous werewolf or charming vampire).
Sign-ups are here:
http://www.wholelattebooks.com/2016/12/the-2017-paranormal-reading-challenge.html

I’ve signed up already and I’m #22.

Promote the challenge by using the hashtag #2017ParanormalChallenge!

All my progress would be posted here. Please stay tuned. 🙂

Books Reviewed:

And you can check out what other reading challenges I’ve joined this year here:
https://thetravelingreader.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/2017-reading-challenges/


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The Paranormal Reading Challenge button is owned by wholelattebooks.com.
Book images are owned by their respective authors and publishers.
All other images in this post are copyrighted by The Traveling Reader, 2017.

Foodies Read 2017 Challenge

Who is the foodie?

Is he someone who is schooled in the intricacies of kitchen preparations? Someone who critiques and writes reviews? Someone who specializes in the certain cuisines? Or just someone who enjoys food?

Join me as I discover more about food and all its gastronomic mysteries with the Foodies Read 2017 Challenge!

This year, I’m aiming to read at least 9-13 food-related books or Sous-Chef according to the challenge levels.

  • Short-Order Cook: 1 to 3 books
  • Pastry Chef: 4 to 8 books
  • Sous-Chef: 9 to 13 books
  • Chef de Cuisine: 14 to 18
  • Cordon-Bleu Chef: More than 19

This challenge is quite unique as there are monthly sign-ups for the reviews you have made of food-related books (that is if you’d be posting reviews though you aren’t required to do so) so I’ll just post here the original/December 2016 sign-up link:
http://www.spiritblog.net/december-foodies-read/
The monthly sign-up buttons/links are located on the right panel of the blog.
UPDATED: February’s sign up link is here:
http://www.spiritblog.net/february-2017-foodies-read/
Anyone who signs up their reviews are eligible for the giveaways they’re hosting.

For now, I’m planning to read these:

There are no official hashtags but I think you can use #FoodiesRead2017 to promote the challenge.

All my progress would be posted here. Please stay tuned. 🙂
I do think that it might be better to read at least one book a month so I could join the sign-ups/giveaways. Hmmm… 🙂

Books Reviewed:

And you can check out what other reading challenges I’ve joined this year here:
https://thetravelingreader.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/2017-reading-challenges/


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The Foodies Read 2017 Challenge button is owned by spiritblog.net/.
Book images are owned by their respective authors and publishers.
All other images in this post are copyrighted by The Traveling Reader, 2017.

2017 Cruisin thru the Cozies Reading Challenge

I’m not sure if it’s evident yet but I do love cozies.
That’s why I’m participating in the 2017 Cruisin thru Cozies Reading Challenge.

As I’m also participating in other reading challenges, I think I’d only aim for Level One — Snoop (unless I find a series that I can sink my teeth into making my list longer).

And I really want to expand my options so I’m going to try the suggestions made:

  • One from culinary (anything dealing with food: restaurants, baked goods, etc.)
  • One from animal-related (cats, dogs, birds, etc.)
  • One from craft-related (any kind of hobbies – knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking, etc.)
  • One from paranormal (witches, vampires, etc.)
  • One from British cozy mysteries (example: Belinda Lawrence series)
  • One career-based cozy mystery (housekeeping, wedding planner, etc.)
  • One holiday-based (set during any holiday – Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentines, etc.)
  • One travel mystery (character could be on a cruise, touring another area, etc.)
  • One historical mystery (any mystery not set in the present)
  • One is your choice! (freebie!)

So my shortlist looks like this so far:

Whether you’re new to cozies or have been enjoying them for years, you’d surely want to join this wonderful reading challenge.
Sign ups are here:

http://socratesbookreviews.blogspot.com/2016/11/2017-cruisin-thru-cozies-reading.html

I’m #26 myself.

Looking for inspiration? Check out the multitude of cozies sorted into various themes and interests:
http://www.cozy-mystery.com

All my progress would be posted here. Please stay tuned. 🙂

And you can check out what other reading challenges I’ve joined this year here:
https://thetravelingreader.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/2017-reading-challenges/


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The 2017 Cruisin thru the Cozies Reading Challenge button is owned by socratesbookreviews.blogspot.com/.
Book images are owned by their respective authors and publishers.
All other images in this post are copyrighted by The Traveling Reader, 2017.

Book to Movie Reading Challenge 2017

My joining this particular reading challenge isn’t so much as to prove whether the book was better than the movie or the latter over the former but rather to just enjoy such awesome works of art.

So join me as I read and review books that have been made into films — Book to Movie Reading Challenge!

Here’s my shortlist:

Promote the challenge by using the hashtag #Book2MovieRC!

All my progress would be posted here. Please stay tuned. 🙂

If this is your kind of thing, join the rest of us and sign up here:
http://www.gathertogetherread.com/2017/01/2017-book-to-movie-reading-challenge.html
There are plenty more book/movie suggestions for you to consider.

I’ve just signed up myself — see #8! 🙂

And you can check out what other reading challenges I’ve joined this year here:
https://thetravelingreader.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/2017-reading-challenges/


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The Book to Movie Reading Challenge button is owned by gathertogetherread.com.
Book images are owned by their respective authors and publishers.
All other images in this post are copyrighted by The Traveling Reader, 2017.