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on July 11, 2012
This is a pretty fair niche mystery. I don't know that it adds too much to the genre, and it's not the most original story I've ever read. But it was a quick, easy read, and it had its moments where it was rather fun.

This was one of those strange books that I enjoyed while I was reading it (for the most part), but the second I put it down, I was struck by its flaws. (Literally. I opened the computer, ready to give this a better review, but the second I started to type, I thought, "Wait...") The characters are well-written - at least overall. The material pertaining to Wicca seemed pretty accurate. And the mystery wasn't terribly obvious (though the real core of the book isn't really the mystery but the relationship between the characters and the heroine's journey of self-discovery).

However, there were a few little things (and one or two big things) that bothered me about the novel. I don't think these are spoilerish, but I suppose they might be. For example...why the strange focus on the fact that the main character needs only one hour of sleep a night? To make the readers jealous? I suppose it could be the author's attempt to demonstrate how "powerful" she is - after all, there's a good deal of focus on how much energy she has, and that she has always turned to other non-magical ways to get it out. Only it doesn't seem like the other witches have a similar issue, so it's just Katie. She's so incredibly powerful, you see.

Don't get me wrong; I expected her to be a powerful witch. You don't pick up these books to read "The Adventures of Mediocre Katie and Her Much More Awesome Friends." That said, she shows up in town, everyone loves her - or comes to respect her (except a couple of bad guys, perhaps). She's quite possibly the best baker who has ever stepped foot in a kitchen. She has two hot guys fighting over her. She's an insanely powerful witch who just makes everyone else more powerful by her presence. She's so powerful, in fact, that she can't even sleep because of the sheer amount of POWER in her. I don't know. I guess it was just a bit too much for me.

Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy Katie's character. I did. I just wished that some things were toned down a bit. It veered a little too close to Mary Sue territory for me.

I did enjoy most of the supporting characters, with the sole exception of Steve. I truly loathe Steve's character. Words cannot express how much. My intense hatred for Steve comes down to one thing: "Katie-girl." I don't know how many times he calls her that in the books (short of "almost every darn time he refers to her"), but if I had this on my Kindle, I'd count up the number of times. Just so I could imagine punching the character in the face for each and every instance.

There was just something so PATRONIZING about that particular nickname. Particularly in one instance, where he stresses the second half of the nickname. "Katie-GIRL." In the context, it came off even more patronizing than the nickname normally does, and my general dislike for him (based off my irritation over the nickname) fell somewhere around "deep disgust" level. I can't see him as "hot" - as he is so constantly described - and I don't understand why she's supposed to be attracted to him. Hmmm...an apparently genuinely good guy (who is also, might I add, not described as having fallen out of the ugly tree to hit every branch on the way down) or the patronizing jackass? Tough call, Katie! I can totally feel your dilemma there! </sarcasm>

The other big issue I had with the books had to do with Katie's parents. I don't really want to give a lot away, but...Katie's a powerful witch, but she didn't realize it until some early point of this book. As I think one can assume from the basic plot, her powers can be dangerous, even inadvertently. She particularly needs to be careful because she's SO powerful - and her mere presence is enough to intensify spells and the like - that she has to watch out for black magic.

I don't want to go into spoilers, but if you've read the back of the book, you know that her aunt is a witch. Mildly spoilery: her mother, at least, probably suspected (and likely knew) she was a witch as well. Now, if that's true...wasn't it incredibly irresponsible of her parents to hide their knowledge about Katie's abilities from her? If they realized how she had "inadvertently" likely cast a spell that made her miserable as a young child, we're to believe...what? They just looked at her and went, "Sucks to be you, baby. Be careful what you wish for." I mean, really, their child was only miserable and alone; it couldn't possibly be their problem or their concern. They just sat back and figured to heck with it; the odds of her doing something similar again (or worse) were probably not that good? And if she's so powerful that she needs to be careful of black magic, they figured...well, there's no way that complete ignorance of what could happen could go badly for her, so it's best to keep quiet?

This is the thing that drives me crazy about this sort of story. Particularly when it's not a question of "we don't know if you have this ability, but nothing we've seen has ever indicated you even might, so we kept it to ourselves." It makes the person who kept the secret seem highly irresponsible at best and a complete and utter jerk at worst. (Yes, the word I'm thinking in my head is much stronger than "jerk.")

I do understand that it's the construct of the story. It's more fun if you're there with the character from the "beginning" so to speak, from that moment her powers are discovered. The problem is, the way this author constructed the backstory to justify her ignorance, I have nothing but utter disgust for her parents, and we haven't even really "met" them yet.

I did enjoy this book when I was reading it, but these issues really spoiled my enjoyment of the story overall. I actually didn't know who the murderer was for quite some time, which is nice as I hate it when the solution is obvious from the moment the murderer is introduced. I do think that the stories have some potential. I may even pick up the next book (particularly if it's titled "Hexed Steve Dawes Becomes a Ferret"), to see if I change my opinion about her parents or any of the above. I think this is the author's first book, and it is actually a fairly solid first effort. Unfortunately, this particular book also has enough flaws to spoil my enjoyment of the story, once it was finished.
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on May 1, 2012
Brownies and Broomsticks is the first book in the A Magical Bakery Mystery series. And what an enjoyable story it is, too.

Katie Lightfoot heads for Savannah to put her culinary skills to work in her aunt and uncles' Honeybee Bakery. Katie, her Aunt Lucy and Uncle, and few close friends are busy putting the final touches in the Honeybee Bakery, with opening just a week away. Mavis Templeton of the Downtown Business Association stops in see if the Honeybee Bakery will be able to handle the groups business brunch in a few days. Aunt Lucy speaks up and says no problem. A menu is agreed upon and a price. The day of the brunch comes and the staff is on pins and needles. Most seem to be enjoying the brunch. As the meeting is breaking up Ms.Templeton gives Ben a check for the brunch, but the check is less than the agreed upon amount. They have a somewhat heated discussion about the check. Mavis heads to her car that is parked out front, while Ben heads for the alley behind the bakery to cool off and relax. Within in minutes it is reported that a woman is slumped over the wheel of her car, after having been shot. The woman is Mavis and of course Uncle Ben becomes the prime suspect. Next Katie learns that her aunt and the ladies that have been helping to get the bakery ready are in fact "good" witches. Katie learns that she also has the makings of being a witch, with the help of her aunt, Katie is learning to hone these skills. Throw in that two men, Declan a fireman and friend of Ben's and Steve Dawes a news reporter are eager to help Katie investigate who might have killed Templeton. The problem is that these men can't stand the sight of each other. But soon everyone is on track and using their own skills to determine the killer.

I think that will be a very enjoyable series and in the first book has given just a taste of the witches using their skills. So those that may stay clear of woo-woo books, give this series a try.

Since the story centers around the Honeybee Bakery, there are recipes included.

Looking forward to book #2
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on December 12, 2013
Let me start out by saying that I enjoy the series, and will continue to read them. The characters are likable or unlikable (Steve's dad, for example), as they should be, and the premise is fun.

The problem I have might seem trivial, but it's important. It's the way Katie feeds her dog. Yes, I understand that this is fiction, and I understand that the dog is supposedly a familiar. The problem is that young readers who don't know the difference between "pet" and "familiar" and who think that if they begin studying witchcraft that their family pet suddenly becomes a familiar, are going to be getting the wrong idea of what they should be feeding. The main character does mention that feeding chocolate or onions to a dog is "not good", but she doesn't specifically say that it's TOXIC and DEADLY. She treats it more as if it's just "naughty", and she also says that her dog occasionally eats things like this but doesn't seem to have any ill effects. NOT the right message to be passing along! Young readers who believe that they have a magical familiar will believe that it's okay to feed their pets this way, because they're "magical" and supposedly immune from ill effects. Familiar or not, he's a DOG, and who feeds a dog chili? Be responsible for what you write.
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on May 30, 2012
I discovered Bailey Cates and "Brownies and Broomsticks" quite by accident, and I am so glad I did. This book is a charming cozy with distinctive characters and two possible love interests for our heroine to choose from. I can't wait for the next book to come out so that I can see which of the two hot studs is going to move into the lead in Katie's affections. Magic adds a hint of the mystical to the solving of a murder mystery. The plot hangs together and the resolution makes sense. Five stars for this book and bring on the sequel.
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on May 14, 2012
I live In SC and visit Savannah frequently so this book was familiar to me. It was a cute story and I'll buy the others in her series but the main character was a little aggravating. No "yankee" living in the south for the first time would interfere in community business the way this character does, family or not. The whole witch thing is interesting and Savannah is a good setting for paranormal. The book is a quick read, interesting and fun - just short and doesn't say when the next book will be available.
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on November 28, 2013
This book was a light read. I had a problem with the main character. She was a little on the pushy side and rather rude. Compared to all the southern characters, it really stood out. The story was interesting,but weak. I hope the future books improve. I would recommend this book to all who enjoy this genre.
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on May 1, 2012
At the ripe old age of 28, Katie Lightfoot has abandoned her lackluster life in Akron, Ohio. Her job as assistant manager at a bakery was barely sustaining her financial leads, holding down her creativity, and to make matters worse her love life has gone down the drain. The move to Savannah, Georgia included a whole new life plan. A bakery that Aunt Lucy and Uncle Ben are opening, the Honeybee Bakery (named for her Aunt Lucy's cat) promises to provide that creative outlet she craves as well as financial stability; if, that is, all goes as planned.

This is a hugely entertaining debut that promises a wonderful new series. It is a cozy mystery, that's for sure, and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every page. Aunt Lucy's magical abilities are utilized just right, and the bonds of family and friendship are well represented. The bakery setting did make my mouth water, but fortunately there are some recipes at the back of the book to help with the cravings!

Original review may be read in it's entirety at MyShelf.com
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on June 4, 2015
Easy to read, enjoyable characters and story. It's amazing to me, however, how many bakers/chefs/cooks find themselves caught up in murders these days. Clearly it's a winning strategy for writers, especially including the recipes that are described in the book. This one is unique in that the main character is a burgeoning witch. Adds a fun twist to the mix.
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on August 19, 2013
If you're looking for something light and easy to read then you've found the right book with Brownies and Broomsticks: A Magical Bakery Mystery by Bailey Cates. I wasn't much for stretching outside of my comfort zone, but I found that these fun paranormal stories are just the ticket. Mix in a little mystery and I will keep turning the page.

Katie moves South to help her aunt and uncle with their bakery. Fresh from a broken engagement, this is her chance to start over. As a baker, this is the perfect opportunity for her. While her parents, well, let's rephrase that...while her mom isn't to keen on having her move there, Aunt Lucy and Uncle Ben are thrilled to have her at The Honeybee Bakery.

Gearing up for a the grand opening, they host the Downtown Business Association meeting lead by a most unpleasant woman. Thus starts the beginning of the mystery that Katie needs to solve. Without divulging any secrets, let's just say there are a host of characters that are going to make this really fun including:

1. two guys vying for her attention;
2. a cat who has a bakery named after it;
3. a witch coven thinly disguised as a book club; and
4. a dog who doesn't like pet food and would rather eat from the table.

I do agree with other reviewers regarding the overuse of the words "Katie-Girl." By the end of the book, I was ready to kick the guy to the curb, regardless of how good looking he is. Perhaps if the author would have downplayed that a little, he would have come off a little less annoying. Nevertheless, it did not deter me from finishing the book and solving the mystery. While the antagonism between the two male suiters may seem a bit much, without it the story would probably have fallen a little flat in that department.

I am intrigued by the fact that this is going to be a series of books with the same characters. I haven't had much luck with those but look forward to reading more. The ladies of the witch coven, along with Aunt Lucy are quite unique and with their own talents make for a more interesting read.

Of course the baked goods is what really had me interested and of course, sharing the recipes at the end of the book. I love that! Nice touch by Bailey Cates and I hope that she continues to do that for each of her future books.
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on December 3, 2013
This is the first book in the series about a young woman who is leaving behind a broken relationship and a dead end job at a bakery in Ohio to move to Savannah to open a bakery with her aunt and uncle. While busy working on the opening, she meets her Aunt Lucy's friends who are part of a "book club". They are an eclectic bunch, and Katie also wonders about the special ingredients that Lucy adds to some of their baked goods. When an unpleasant woman from the local business association shorts them for the cost of a meeting and insults the bakery, things rapidly begin to go downhill when she turns up dead. Uncle Ben is implicated in the murder, and this is when Katie finds out that the book club is actually a coven and she too possesses magical powers. In trying to find out who really committed the murder, Katie learns more about magic and is torn between two interesting men; one is a reporter and possibly has his own powers, and one is a firefighter who used to work with her uncle. This was a light, fun, cozy mystery and includes several recipes at the back.
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