Member Reviews

Cozy, crazy and characterful, in a charming setting with a cranky cat, add to that an intriguing mystery, and what else could you want aside from a comfy chair to read in?
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This is a fun paranormal cozy mystery. I have not read the first in the series, so you can definitely enjoy it as a stand-alone. Some of the characters could use a little more development. My favorite character is the grumpy cat. This book is kind of a mixture of Nancy Drew and Bewitched, or the 90's version of Sabrina the Teenaged Witch. The mystery is well-plotted and full of humor. I look forward to more of this series. 

 All thoughts and opinions are my own, and in no way have I been influenced by anyone.
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In this next Amanda Cadabra cozy, the past is making an appearance in the present as the new asthma center is being built over the remains of Lost Madley and once again Amanda finds herself with a murder mystery to solve while helping the Inspector to solve her families murder mystery. It is not necessary to have read the series starter, but you are going to want to. Such a great set of characters from Amanda and her transitioned Grandparents to her familiar Tempest, plus all of the most heartwarming and unique Villagers, after all you can't trust those are not Village. Amanda and Trewlaney are learning to work together as it seems that both of them will be following the same path at some point. Such a unique and original main character, a girl with asthma who does furniture refinishing and repairs, thank goodness for magic!
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I had a great time reading this book and now I am looking forward to reading more books by the same author. Many many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for granting me access to this eARC.
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A really entertaining read.  Amanda Cadabra and her partners in crime are great fun.  The writing has great elements of both humour and suspense. I’ll definitely read more by Holly Bell.  Just the thing for a light afternoon’s entertainment.
My thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an arc in exchange for my honest review.
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Unfortunately, the writing of this book felt like it was all over the place - there was no single focus ever, and it made it difficult to concentrate on the plot line, which I feel is a especial drawback when it comes to mystery novel.

I thought the world building had a lot of potential, but unfortunately, it got lost in the meandering plotline.
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You can find this review and all of my others over at www.readbookrepeat.wordpress.com 

Actual rating of 2.5 stars. 

Amanda Cadabra is magical, and it has nothing to do with her name. She's a witch. Living in a cosy little village in a cottage that her Grandparents raised her in along with her familiar, Tempest, a cat who knows his worth. When news reaches Amanda of the start of construction on an asthma treatment centre, she's is at once unsettled. It would do wonders for her as she suffers with chronic asthma, but it's where they're building the centre that doesn't sit well. The centre is being built over the old ruins of Lost Madley, a small village that was bombed in WWII. When a death on the premises raises more questions than gives answers, Amanda is thrown into a cold case from the 1940s, that could possibly be connected. She needs to investigate without putting herself at risk, but that's no fun now, is it?

I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally wanted to like this book. Everyone knows I love a good cosy mystery, throw some paranormal stuff in there as well and it's right up my alley. However, I just struggled so badly with this one. I want to start with the good stuff, so here goes....

I love Tempest. For a witch's cat he's just fantastic. He has all the trappings of a normal cat - wanting to be served, thinking that people are beneath him, knowing he deserves the world etc etc. - and it just works so well for me. I'm a cat person, so of course I'm going to like it. I loved the little tidbit in there about how, the places that LET Tempest roam around and the proprietors who feed him miraculously have no rodent problems, but the ones that kick him out and give him nothing are infested. This made me smile, and I love that it was included.

I really enjoyed Granny and Grandpa - Serana and Perran I believe...I may have that wrong. Anyway, I love their inclusion and their guidance. It just added something extra to the story for me to have their characters around, even if they are ghosts. I also loved how the current case connected to the 1940s cold case. That was interesting and the connection was done well. 

However, that is about where the good things cease...

I felt like this book took me forever to get through. The pacing was slightly off, there was a lot of writing but not much happening, if you get my drift. This goes hand in hand with the use of language in the writing. I really didn't enjoy it. As soon as I started it I felt like I was in a book set in the 1800s, then there was talk of iPhones and iPods and I was like "hang on a minute....this is modern day." So the language and dialect used in the narration as well as the conversations between characters just killed a lot of it for me. I understand having respect for elders, using Mr., Mrs, Miss before their last names while speaking to them, but to use it in the narrative itself just seemed a bit silly to me. Especially when one of the characters frequently mentioned goes by the name of 'Miss Armstrong-Witworth'. It's a lot to say even just in your head, for me anyway. It doesn't sound like much, but when characters names like this are used constantly in the narrative, it really halts the pace and breaks me out of my reading trance. So I just found this to be a bit unnecessary. 

The writing itself was sometimes TOO descriptive, and I don't mean in a Tolkien/Martin way, I mean just listing entire things in the scene. For example, here is one paragraph that made my eye twitch:
"Everyone was there; every notable in the village, all in their Sunday finery. The Patels, the Mazureks, Joan and Jim, Sylvia and her husband, the Sharmas, Mrs Uberhausfest, Mrs Pagely the librarian, and her assistant Jonathan Sheppard, the Pveys who were the new owners of Sunken Madley Manor, Gordon French, the retired village headmaster, Irene James of The Elms, the ladies from the Grange attended by Moffat, Mr Hanley-Page, the Reisers, the Fleetfoots, the Dmirs, the Reids, Pawel the Royal Mail driver, Penny, the Patel's receptionist with her fiance, the Whittles and the Kemps."

Why? I ask you. Why? There weren't any other instances as bad as this one that I noticed on my read through, but there were a lot of unnecessary details included that I felt could've been left out. As this is book 2 I feel like if you've read the first one, you'd know who the author meant when they said "Everyone was there; every notable in the village, all in their Sunday finery." Which for me, is how the paragraph should have ended. As I haven't read book 1, and this is my first foray into Bell's writing, I find that a list like that would only be necessary if we needed to know of the characters, which a lot of them we meet in passing when Amanda is sleuthing around town, so I found this incredibly unnecessary and eye-twitchy. I'm not sure if Bell was trying to capture the feel from the stories of old, or if this is just her style. Either way, it is her story and she can write it however she deems fit, for me it just doesn't work so well. 

The mystery itself. While the broad scope of connecting the mysteries between the time periods was clever and I did enjoy that. I found that the mystery itself was just a massive jumble of confusion. Like at the end, I THINK I know who the culprit was? I'm pretty sure I know, but I'm just not 100% sure on it...there's so many twisty turny knots in the story that it became difficult for me to untangle it all. It's almost as though as the end was getting nearer Bell became anxious to finish the story and it just turned into a big mess for me. There was all this unveiling and I'm just left muddled and confused. I'm generally pretty good at analysing a story, getting right in there to dissect it and see how the bits an pieces fit, but for some reason I just cannot quite work out what was happening here. 

Whether I'll continue with this series, I'm honestly not sure, I'm leaning more towards a no at this point, but that could change eventually. Maybe I'll give book 1 a shot and see how I go and whether it helps unjumble the mess that is book 2 (in my eyes). 

I noticed that I'm in the minority here with my thoughts, and for that I'm glad. I'm so happy that so many people have enjoyed the characters and stories that Holly Bell has created, and I sincerely hope she continues to do so. This one just wasn't for me unfortunately.
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Well not abracadabra of course... What a strange name, but of course, one that is very memorable.
So we have a cosy mystery novel set in a strange village with ghosts and witches and hidden secrets.
At times, I thought I was reading a book for teenagers or for US readers who wanted to have a traditional English village with all the traditional English characters in it. Including funny names and so on. 
That said, it was an enjoyable and humorous tale with engaging lead characters - Amanda herself and her feline familiar and the detective who can't know the real truth about witch-craft, but sort of knows about ghosts.
Very light reading but ..
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While this is a fun, fast-paced  read, it was fairly predictable and the characters remained rather basic in their depictions.  I do recommend reading the first novel in the series before beginning this one, though it is not an absolute requirement to enjoying the mystery and intrigue Bell provides.
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this book was exactly what i was looking for!!

A touch of mystery, little bit of magic...., and voila!! your perfect cozy mystery read!!

I love to include these kind of books in my spring tbr, so this was a perfect example!!

Lovable characters, cute story - very entertaining!!
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This book gives you much more than you'd expect by reading the cover.  Yes, it has lots of humor, but it's also a solid murder mystery with a unique spin.  It was a welcome break from the couple of boring nooks I read before it!
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Amanda is on the trail of a few puzzling pieces of hidden historical secrets that would give her a better picture of her family origin and about a traitor’s betrayal which amounted to treason. Fear knows no boundaries it seems as it travels down through time in a family most anxious and eager to maintain their reputation, they think nothing of committing  murder to keep the truth from being unearthed,  She is also faced with a few villagers with witchery in their blood and romance in their veins, making them out to be in my book annoying matchmakers. A curiously intriguing, and bewitching tale with deeply hidden secrets buried underground.
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Not what I expected.  I picked this up thinking it was a quick cute cozy witch story.  It is actually much more involved.  The mystery has several parts and there are the human and the ghost characters.  At points it is a bit bogged down with detail but overall it was a good story with a lovely ending.  I was pleased with the book.
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Intrigued by the title, which sounds like an amalgam of a Nancy Drew book with Bewitched, I downloaded it from netgalley. Turns out the title was a pretty good indicator of the book.  Amanda Cadabra is a youngish witch who is leaning the one and outs of the craft. Set in present day England, the story dips back into the WWII era with spies and murder. Amanda is plucky and resourceful, but still relatively undeveloped. She communicates with her grandparents who are "beyond" and the dialog reminds me a little of Topper. All in all, a cute read with a solid mystery. Rounding up from 3.5 stars.
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I was not familiar with this author, until now.
I did not read the first book from this series, but I did not suffer because of that. You will be able to pick up the story from book #2. 
Overall, it was a great read. It was funny, mysterious and the story bewitched me well :) 
I am looking forward to more books by Holly Bell and more adventures with a witty, and funny Amanda Cadabra!
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I recommend reading the first book in this series prior to starting this one. I was a bit lost for a while. There is time travel, magic and mystery! This installment was a fun and quick read full of intrigue. I read this ARC on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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If I had to judge this book on the opener and first few chapters, I’d fairly give it a one. I mean, snooze fest. It’s hard to relate to the main character or any of her small town eccentric neighbors. While it may attempt to, the setting lacks the human intricacies that make other small towns, like Stars Hallow, fun places to fictitiously visit. 
Yet, pushing through, the book picks up steam considerably. The murder element with the time travel piece work together beautifully. I’d have liked to see more of the WWII history worked in, actually. 
The ending of the book, and the heartwrencher with Violet, are a solid 4.5 stars.  It’s worth reading the slow stuff at the front.
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Princess Fuzzypants here:  I wasn’t too sure if this might be a bit on the “cutsie” side with the name of our protagonist.  I am so glad I gave it a chance because even with the subject matter, the characters were never cloying or over the top.  There was a good solid mystery that blended the magic in seamlessly.
Amanda is a witch who tries to stay under the radar of the normal world.  Aided and abetted by her familiar, Tempest, she is growing her skills and figuring out how she fits in.  Her grandparents who raised her continue to assist her even though they are ghosts.  She also interacts with others who share her magical abilities including two police officers,  one of whom is not fully aware of his own power and who is clearly going to be a romantic interest in future books.
My favourite character is the cat, Tempest.  He has just the right combination of feline disdain for most things human and affection for his own human, Amanda.  He steals the show every time he does something.  Even though he is my favourite, I did like all of the characters.  It did take me a while to figure out what was going on as the story kept popping back and forth across a couple of plot lines.  Once I put it together though it was thoroughly enjoyable with charm and suspense.
I look forward to following Amanda’s adventures in the future.  I give it five purrs and two paws up.
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Amanda Cadabra and the cellar of  secrets by Holly Bell is a wonderfully light read, full of fun and magic.  It takes a village to raise a child is certainly true in the case of Amanda Cadabra, who has everyone in her village knowing her every move and looking out for her welfare and prospective love life.
This would be a refreshing addition to our college library.
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Amanda Cadabra and The Cellar of Secrets by Holly Bell is a book I requested from NetGalley and the review is voluntary. I found the concept and plot interesting. The characters needed some more fleshing out, ( Not just the ghosts lol). I don't didn't feel close to them as I should have. I loved the cat! It was a mystery and a paranormal cozy too. I found it very interesting in sections and not so much in other sections. Overall a fair read. It had wit, humor, and switch with her fun familiar.
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