Monday, February 29, 2016

Guest Blog by Delia James and Review and Giveaway of A Familiar Tail

Please welcome Delia James to The Qwillery. A Familiar Tail, the 1st Witch's Cat Mystery, was published on February 2nd by Obsidian/NAL.

Introducing Delia James, and the Witch's Cat Mysteries

        Hello. My name is Delia James, and I write mysteries. Specifically, I write mysteries with magic and cats with plenty of attitude. This is no surprise to anybody who knows me.
        I grew up on mysteries. Summers at my grandmother’s in the country, I discovered her Agatha Christie books and was immediately fascinated by Hercule Poirot. TV was filled with mysteries and we never missed them, Colombo, MacMillan & Wife, McCloud, The Rockford Files, Quincy…and of course I was in love with the Hardy Boys as played by Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson (for the record, I was a Parker Girl, all the way). Of course I could quote Sherlock Holmes, chapter and verse. In college, I got introduced to, and fell in love all over again with, Lord Peter Whimsey.
        Despite this, when I started writing, mysteries were not my first choice. I was (confession time) also a major science fiction nerd and it was science fiction I gravitated to first. I don’t regret it at all. Science fiction is fun, and it teaches you a lot about how to build a fictional world along with the characters that fit into it, or don’t. This can be valuable training for a mystery writer who has to construct solid, interesting puzzles the size of small towns, or big bad cities. And of course, along with science fiction, I was also a fan of its sister genre, fantasy, with its elves and hobbits, and witches, and plenty of magic. I learned to read from The Wizard of Oz and had Alice in Wonderland practically memorized.
        With all this swirling around in the background, when I got the chance to write a story featuring a witch and a magical cat in New England, you know I jumped at it. And I am having an absolute blast.
        First of all, it’s given me an excuse to spend more time in New England, which is one of my very favorite places. I love the landscape, the coast and the rivers. I even love the weather, especially the autumn. I love the old cities and towns and all the history tucked up in their streets and odd (some of them very odd) corners. Of course there are mysteries here. Lots of them, some of them old, some of them brand new.
        Cats were another natural for me. I’ve been owned by one cat or another since I was born. From our grumpy old indoor-outdoor tortoiseshell Buttercup, to Isis the Siamese, to our current long-haired gray Buffy the Vermin Slayer, they all at one time or another shared my home, sat on my lap, or curled up on my shoulders, or gotten in between me and…whatever I was doing at the moment. I swear, some of them have in fact been able to vanish and reappear at will, just like Alistair in A Familiar Tail. Of course they couldn’t be kept out of anyplace they really wanted to get into, including the bedroom, the closet, and once, much to everybody’s surprise and embarrassment, the fridge. Again, just like Alistair.
        So, like I said at the beginning, I’m Delia James. Welcome to my world!

A Familiar Tail
Series:  A Witch's Cat Mystery 1
Publisher:  Obsidian/NAL, February 2, 2016
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print and eBook)
ISBN:  9780451476579 (print); 9780698405578 (eBook)

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.

Jennifer's Review

A Familiar Tail by Delia James is the first book in the new Witch’s Cat Mystery series, that introduces readers to Annabelle Amelia Blessingsound Britton, a mysterious cat named Alistair, and an eclectic group of modern day New England Witches who dedicate their craft to keeping their beloved town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire a safe place for their friends and neighbors.

Annabelle is in town for a visit to her longtime friend, Martine Deveraux. Annabelle is a bit adrift in her life at this point, she is a freelance artist and illustrator but has taken a bit of a break from work in her hometown. Martine is one of her best friends and is now the head chef at a popular and successful restaurant in Portsmouth. What is supposed to be a short vacation for Annabelle turns into a more permanent situation when she finds herself wrapped up in the months old possible murder of lifelong resident and witch Dorothy Hawthorne, when she has what she calls a “vibe”, which shows her a sort of vision that Dorothy’s accidental death was anything but. During the course of her investigation into the death of a woman she never actually met, Annabelle discovers that her family has an enigmatic tie to Portsmouth through her adored grandma and namesake, Annabelle Mercy Blessingsound, and begins to find herself drawn even deeper into the local coven and the lives of the townspeople and exploring her long ignored psychic gift.

There are many suspects and friends that emerge over the course of the story that add life and spice to the plot. Frank Hawthorne, Dorothy’s nephew, is a handsome newspaper man who says he is desperate to discover the truth behind his aunt’s death. Ellis Maitland is an aggressive and polished real estate broker with deep ties to the town and a battered friendship with Frank. Brad Thompson is a friend of Frank’s who was a favorite of Dorothy’s, but is obviously troubled in some way. Brad’s wife Laurie, an aspiring artist, and his teenage son Colin, who is surly and protective of his family, are both seemingly troubled and preoccupied. Sean is the devastatingly handsome bartender at Martine’s restaurant who has a budding attraction to Annabelle.

Annabelle is quickly drawn into the world of the local coven, which is made up of a diverse mix of the old families of witchcraft and new women who have an affinity with magic. Julia Parris is a member of one of the old families. She is a formidable witch who runs a local bookstore. Julia is eccentric and powerful and has two miniature wiener dogs named Max & Leo as her constant and protective companions. Elizabeth Maitland, mother of Ellis, is on the outskirts of the coven perhaps due to her icy and often superior attitude, but is also an accomplished witch and a member of an old Portsmouth witch family. Valerie McDermott runs lovely bed and breakfast with her husband Roger and is a newer witch. Another newer member of the coven is Kenisha, who also happens to be a police officer in town, and can either help or hinder Annabelle in her quest Dorothy’s killer. And finally, we come to Alistair, Dorothy’s former familiar, who has now attached himself to Annabelle. Alistair is a beautifully regal gray cat with piecing and intelligent eye who figures heavily into Annabelle’s search and the coven as a whole.

Each character is likeable and realistic and has been given a solid backstory that can be explored more deeply in subsequent books. The plot has many facets and the author does a wonderful job of adding local color and charm to the town of Portsmouth and its residents. A Familiar Tail is a wonderful introduction to a fun new series. I can see this series continuing for many books to come and look forward to learning more about the townspeople and coven and seeing where Annabelle’s newfound relationship with witchcraft and magic will take her.


By Familiar Means
A Witch's Cat Mystery 2
Obsidian/NAL, September 20, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

In the latest from the author of A Familiar Tail, a witch and her familiar find trouble brewing at a coffee house.

After discovering her mystical heritage—and being adopted by furry feline familiar Alistair—artist Annabelle Britton has decided to make picturesque Portsmouth, New Hampshire, her new home. Now, she can take the time to figure out her new abilities and welcome her grandmother, who is visiting Portsmouth, and her old coven, for the first time in thirty years.

But being a witch doesn’t magically put money in the bank. When she’s hired to paint the murals for a new coffee house, it seems like a wish come true. But then a series of spooky sounds and strange happenings convince the owners that their new shop is haunted. They want Anna and her coven to evict the restless spirit before the grand opening.

Annabelle is certain the haunted happenings at the shop are just hocus pocus. But when her search reveals hidden smugglers’ tunnels beneath the shop—and a dead body—Annabelle, Alastair, and the coven suddenly find themselves in a cat and mouse game with a killer…

About Delia

Born in California and raised in Michigan, Delia James writes her tales of magic, cats, and mystery from her hundred-year-old bungalow home. She is the author of the Witch’s Cat mysteries, which began with A Familiar Tail. When not writing, she hikes, swims, gardens, cooks, reads, and raises her rapidly growing son.

Twitter @MysteryDelia

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of A Familiar Tail by Delia James from the publisher. US ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on March 9, 2016. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I love magic and most things supernatural so that means Bewitched and Charmed. I have a nice collection of paranormal cozies and dvd's to watch also. I'm looking forward to reading this series and hopefully adding it to my personal library.

  2. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe novel.

  3. I enjoy The Good Witch movies on Hallmark channel. Years ago I loved Bewitched.

  4. I love the Persephone Alcmedi series by Linda Robertson.