Hexes and Hemlines

Hexes and Hemlines

by Juliet Blackwell


With her vintage clothing store taking off, Lily Ivory is finding that life in San Francisco suits her just fine. But her ability to sense vibrations from the past, so useful in locating secondhand gems, has landed her in the middle of a new mystery…

Lily gets called away from Aunt Cora’s Closet when the police need a witch’s take on a strange case. Malachi Zazi was stabbed to death in his apartment, under a ladder, surrounded by the number thirteen, a broken mirror, and a black cat—superstitions that the victim, as head of a rationalist society, was devoted to discrediting.

When the police identify a suspect from the Serpentarian Society, Lily is shocked to learn it’s someone she knows. But with bad luck plaguing all its members, she begins to wonder if there’s more at work than mere coincidence. And while there aren’t many clues from the crime scene, Lily finds evidence of dark witchcraft and a hex on her friend’s doorstep. With her friend’s safety at stake, Lily is determined to use magic to find the murderer before everyone’s luck runs out…

Hexes and Hemlines is the third book in Blackwell’s Witchcraft Mystery series. This novel finds Lily consulting on a murder investigation that involves bad luck charms and a witchy cleansing.

Hexes and Hemlines is my least favorite of the series so far, but I still enjoy it for a number of reasons. Namely, Lily finally gets a backbone when it comes to Max and Aidan. She walks out on Aidan when he demands, without explanation, that she stop investigating Malachi Zazi’s murder. FINALLY! We also see Lily develop healthier friendships with both Inspector Carlos and Sailor the psychic. Both, in their own odd ways, allow Lily the chance to be herself. Carlos helps build her confidence by asking for her help and taking her advice. Sailor just accepts Lily as the sweet nosey witch we all love. Sailor is my favorite part of Hexes and Hemlines. Yes he may be working for Aidan but he can’t help liking Lily. We get to learn more of his backstory and see him grudgingly turn in to Lily’s friend.

The convoluted and just odd storyline is the main reason Hexes and Hemlines is my least favorite of the first three books. The story is rather complex and developed rather well but it’s almost too much for a cozy mystery. There were a few times where I found myself asking “wait…what?” Blackwell did a good job tying everything together but the short mystery platform left her revelations feeling abrupt. It is also much darker than the last two books which can be off putting. Just remember these points when reading Hexes and Hemlines and you won’t be thrown off as I was.

I’m going to refrain from whining about Max and Aidan because both have only become more annoying and controlling in book 3. The good thing is that Lily is FINALLY standing up for herself. She doesn’t let Aidan control her magic and she doesn’t let Max push her in to hiding her witchy side.

Pick up Hexes and Hemlines! You’ll enjoy the side story of Oscar and the black cat! Plus, the new stubborn Lily is just fun! What witchy books are you reading this week?


A Cast-off Coven

A Cast-off Coven

by Juliet Blackwell


Students are spooked at the San Francisco School of Fine Arts, and Lily is called in to search for possible paranormal activity. In return she’s been promised a trunkful of Victorian-era clothes recently discovered in a school storage closet.

But Lily finds something else: the body of a wealthy patron of the school. In between running the store and seeing her new boyfriend, Max—a “mythbuster” who is uncomfortable with her witchcraft—she uses her sleuthing skills to try to solve the murder. Soon Lily senses something from the school’s vintage clothes, but it’s not the smell of mothballs—it’s the unmistakable aura of evil intent.

Lily banished La Llorona and life at Aunt Cora’s Closet has returned to normal. But Maya’s art school is haunted and Lily agrees to check it out in exchange for some antique dresses. She soon learns there is more than ghosts haunting the school and Lily is, once again, determined to banish dark spirits.

I always enjoy A Cast-off Coven because of the art school setting. Blackwell’s descriptions have me enthralled with the school and I wish the place was real! The building is gorgeous and historic, plus I like how the students are free to move around the campus and interact with a variety of mediums. The mystery is interesting as Lily must deal with a suicidal ghost and a lusty demon which takes her outside of her witchy brewing comforts. I love the dancing dresses inspired by Lily’s sex magic and the mysterious closet full of clothing. And I am a sucker for the creepy music box. I did craved more on the history of the clothes and the women who owned them. I’m a historian so I know that you rarely find those details in real life, but this is a cozy mystery. I want to know more! 

Readers are also introduced to a number of new interesting characters. There are a handful of artists but I quickly tired of the broody students and teachers. I did, however, enjoy Luc who is the gorgeous sculpture instructor and also happens to be the brother of hunky Max Carmichael, Lily’s crush. Her association with Luc causes some hard feelings between Lily and Max. We finally meet Sailor, a moody reluctant psychic who is my favorite character of the series! He is in debt to Aidan and is loaned out to help Lily in the battle. Plus we get to spend time with the Maya, Bronwyn, and Herve from Secondhand Spirits

The main men have not improved since Secondhand Spirits. In fact they have only gotten worse. Aidan is still annoyingly mysterious and demanding. It’s just hard for me to like a guy who tries to control everyone he meets. And I was sick of Max by the end of the book. He gets all aggressive and demanding with Lily after learning she was at the art school the night of the murder. He’s territorial when any other man is around her. He beats up Sailor but won’t say why. Lily has to find out about his past from other people and then has to push Max to open up at the end of the book. Plus, he refuses to accept Lily’s witchiness despite witnessing her bind the demon. I’m ok with the sexual tension between the two of them but it just seems like a failed relationship from the beginning. They do not have enough in common to keep them together.

I still enjoyed A Cast-off Coven and recommend it for paranormal cozy-mystery readers not wanting a fun steamy romance. I enjoyed it! Let me know what you think!


Secondhand Spirits

Secondhand Spirits

by Juilet Blackwell


Lily Ivory is not your average witch. Her spell-casting powers tend to draw mischievous spirits while keeping normal humans at a distance. But now her vintage clothing store could give her a chance to make friends in San Francisco….

Lily hopes for a normal life when she opens Aunt Cora’s Closet. With her magical knack for vintage fashion -she can sense vibrations of the past from clothing and jewelry—her store becomes a big hit.

But when a client is murdered and children start disappearing from the Bay Area, Lily may be the only one who can unravel the crime. She tries to keep her identity a secret while investigating, but it’s not easy—especially under the spells of sexy “mythbuster” Max Carmichael and powerful witch Aidan Rhodes. Will Lily’s witchy ways be forced out of the closet?

I found Secondhand Spirits on audiobook in the local library a few years ago. It was October and I was in desperate need of a lighthearted paranormal mystery to get through my last fall semester. Secondhand Spirits fit the bill and I managed to read most of the series in the following months. I’ve been craving spooky cozy mysteries again and decided it was time to revisit and share Blackwell’s Witchcraft Mysteries.

I’m going to start off with all the reasons I enjoy this story. I like Lily Ivory. I enjoy her sweet southern ways and how she is kind to everyone she meets despite being a social outcast for most of her life. I like that she has somehow stumbled on such great, even if somewhat odd, friends in Bronwyn and Maya. I wish I could check out Aunt Cora’s Closet and the Haight-Ashbury district because Blackwell’s descriptions are tantalizing and I have no problem visualizing Lily’s world. I even like Lily’s sarcastic goblin/potbelly pig familiar, Oscar.

But, the one point that keeps me coming back to the story is the spirit Lily must battle, La Llorona. La Llorona has been one of my favorite ghost stories since I first heard it in a high school Spanish class. Don’t ask me why, because it’s kinda a depressing ghost story. La Llorona is doomed to haunt the water searching for her lost children. The children she drowned upon learning of their father’s infidelity. (Watch the pilot episode of Supernatural if you want another great take of La Llorona!) Blackwell’s mix of La Llorona, voodoo, and Lily’s earthy brewing had me hooked!

Now for my eh thoughts. I am not of a fan of the two lead men introduced in to Lily’s life. The story opens with Aidan Rhodes, male witch, barging in to her store, placing a charm on the occupants, and gifting Lily with Oscar. We learn that Aidan is an associate of Lily’s dark magic wielding father and isn’t to be trusted. And yet, Lily still takes in Oscar despite suspecting that he is a spy for Aidan. Wait…what?!? Plus, Lily seems to find, and fall for, the one man in the Bay Area who despises everything about witchcraft. I get that Max Carmichael is one sexy hunk but…WHY?!? Both Max and Aidan have their good qualities but were demanding and controlling overall. I was not vested in her relationship with either man.

I still enjoy Secondhand Spirits despite my dislike ofMax and Aidan. I definitely recommend if you are looking for something light and witchy. Lily is more like a regular human than she knows. She routinely makes spur of the moment and somewhat bad decisions but she does everything with kind intentions. I like her. Has anyone else stumbled up this series?


What to Expect – OCTOBER


My favorite month of the year has arrived and you should see all the reviews that await you! MWAHAHAHA! (cue the creepy music…)

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So what can you expect this month? Lots and lots of paranormal cozy mysteries. What can I say? I love mysteries involving ghosts and witches.

I plan on reviewing Juliet Blackwell’s entire Withcraft Mystery series, which follows the adventures of sweet witch, Lily Ivory and her potbelly pig/goblin, Oscar.

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The third installment of Jackie Smith’s Cemetery Tours series comes out this month and you will see a review! I’m looking forward to After Death. Ghost hunting and a circus….oooooo!

Also, I will be reviewing one non paranormal novel this month: Jones Lee’s A Time to Live. This amazing friend has been beyond patient while waiting for this review and I’m excited to talk about the crazy adventures of snarky Carter Gabel!

So grad a pumpkin spice latte and your favorite candy because it is going to be a fun month!