Category Archives: Paranormal Mystery

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones

The crazy keeps on coming in the eleventh installment of the Charley Davidson series!

11th GraveTitleEleventh Grave in Moonlight
AuthorDarynda Jones
SeriesCharley Davidson, Book 11
Publish Date: Jan 24, 2016, St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance, Mystery
Narrator: Lorelei King
Source: NetGalley

Publisher’s Description: A typical day in the life of Charley Davidson involves cheating husbands, missing people, errant wives, philandering business owners, and oh yeah…demons, hell hounds, evil gods, and dead people. Lots and lots of dead people. As a part time Private Investigator and full-time Grim Reaper, Charley has to balance the good, the bad, the undead, and those who want her dead.

In this eleventh installment, Charley is learning to make peace with the fact that she is a goddess with all kinds of power and that her own daughter has been born to save the world from total destruction. But the forces of hell are determined to see Charley banished forever to the darkest corners of another dimension. With the son of Satan himself as her husband and world-rocking lover, maybe Charley can find a way to have her happily ever after after all.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (in other words, spoilers!)


Invested_Ivana_100

Invested Ivana says…

I decided to wait until Eleventh Grave in Moonlight was available on audio rather than request it from NetGalley. Audio is my favorite way to experience these books. Lorelei King is amazing at conveying Charley’s sense of humor and creating distinct voices for each character. She really does a masterful job for every series I’ve heard her read. Thank you so much to Macmillan Audio for being consistent with the narrator for this series.

As much as I love this series, I will make a confession: I’ve given up keeping track of the big story arc. It’s gotten so big and just gets more expansive with each book. First Charley was a Reaper and Reyes was the son of Satan. Then both Charley and Reyes were gods from another dimension. Now, Charley is 13 gods and in self-imposed—witsec? rehab? time out?—on Earth. Eventually, there will be no way to top the previous book and Beep’s story will feel anticlimactic by comparison. This part of the story was starting to bother me a little, so I just stopped paying much attention to it.

I think the heart of each book is really Charley’s relationships with other people, how much she cares, the lengths she’ll go to to help others, and, of course, her snort-worthy sense of humor. These are what I pay attention to when I’m listening, and I love them.

Charley is fierce when it comes to protecting her loved ones and anyone else she feels is deserving. Her uncle, Cookie’s daughter, Reyes, her clients, children, and innocent bystanders all benefit from her protection in Eleventh Grave. In fact, her inability to right some huge wrongs, when she has so much power at her disposal, is one of her major internal struggles that will likely play a larger part in future novels.

She’s also very kind. It’s quite amazing, really, how kind she is after everything she’s gone through in her life. Or perhaps, because of all that, she’s kind. She experiences the emotions of the living and the lives of the dead who pass through her. That has to make one feel an enormous amount of empathy. If only we, as humans, could experience more than just was is inside our own head, perhaps we would be more empathetic as well.

badge4v5Big story arc or not, I always enjoy a visit with Charley and her friends. Whether you read for the big story, the little story, the characters, the romance, or the humor, I think this series has a lot to say about simply being human.

Our reviews in this series…

Saturday Shorts: Living Underground by Josie Jaffrey

Welcome to Saturday Shorts, where we feature short stories, novellas, graphic novels, kid’s books middle grade and younger, and anything else that is a shorter read than a novel. Today we have a short from one of our site’s favorite authors, Josie Jaffrey, author of the Solis Invicti series.

I received an ARC of this book book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

living-undergroundTitleLiving Underground
AuthorJosie Jaffrey
Series: stand alone
Publish Date: October 30, 2015
Genre: Paranormal
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s Description: A short story set on the London Underground.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

Likes: When Josie asked me if I would like to review her short story, I jumped at the chance since I love the Solis Invicti series. This story was not a disappointment! In only 10 pages there is so much tension and description! I love the way that the story makes you question whether the events that take place in this short story actually happened or if it was all a dream.

badge5v4Dislikes: I found myself wishing I could have known the characters a little better. Especially Kieran, the “stranger” from the train. I wanted to know who the mysterious woman, referred to only as “her,” was and why she abused Kieran. I hope this eventually gets expanded into a full novel!

I have to give this 5 kisses!

Recommendations…

If you are looking for more vampire reads, check out the following: ‘Salem’s Lot by Steven King, Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice, and the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer.

I received an ARC of this book book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Cemetery Girl: Inheritance by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden

For the second book in Charlaine Harris’s and Christopher Golden’s Cemetery Girl series, I paired the audio from GraphicAudio.net with the graphic novel itself for a unique experience.

Inheritance novelTitleInheritance (graphic novel, audio)
AuthorCharlaine Harris, Christopher Golden
Series: Cemetery Girl Book 02
Publish Date: Oct 6, 2015, Jan 11, 2016 (audio)
Genre: Graphic Novel, Paranormal Mystery
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionShe calls herself Calexa Rose Dunhill. She has been living—hiding out—in Dunhill Cemetery ever since someone left her there to die. She has no idea who wants her dead or why, but she isn’t about to wait around for her would-be killer to finish the job.

Despite her self-imposed isolation, Calexa’s ability to see spirits—and the memories she receives from them—guarantees she’ll never be alone, even among the deceased. The only living people she allows herself to interact with are Kelner, the cemetery’s cantankerous caretaker, and Lucinda Cameron, an elderly woman who lives in an old Victorian house across the street. With their friendship, Calexa has regained a link to the world beyond tombstones and mausoleums.

Until the night she witnesses a murder that shatters her life—a life now under a police microscope—as their investigation threatens to uncover Calexa’s true identity…

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

I had such a great time listening to the first graphic novel in this series that I decided, for the second, I’d both listen to it AND view the graphic novel at the same time. I thought it would be interesting to see the images and hear the story at the same time.

InheritanceI wasn’t wrong. It was fun to see what visual cues the GraphicAudio.net folks used when creating sound effects or extra dialog for the audio.  Since this is essentially a short story, there is no need to abridge the book, so all parts of the story are included.

The story itself moves Calexa a bit closer to having to face the past that landed her in the cemetery with no memory of her former life.  A third confidant is added to Calexa’s small circle of “friends.” And another layer of mystery is added to the story—someone seems to be searching for Calexa. But is it someone from her family, or the person that tried to kill her?

badge4v4I’ll certainly be keeping my eye out for Book 3 in this series, in both formats, I really like the idea of making graphic novels into audios.  I’ll never be a huge fan of the graphic novel format because it just isn’t meaty enough for me, but I’m really enjoying the audio version of these books.

The Whizbang Machine by Danielle A. Vann

When Elizabeth Yale’s grandfather returns home with a mysterious gift for her, the typewriter present turns out to be something far more sinister. The more she learns about the typewriter and all its secrets, the more secrets about her family are revealed – plus the curse that’s been put on her family for years has come to claim them.

I received an ARC of this book book from the author/publisher.

whizbang-machineTitleThe Whizbang Machine
AuthorDanielle A. Vann
Series: stand-alone
Publish Date: Nov 15, 2016
Genre:  YA Supernatural Mystery
Source: BEA 16

Publisher’s Description: After years of running from his tragic past, Jack Yale books a flight home. With him is a typewriter that is intended to be a gift for his granddaughter, Elizabeth. The minute Elizabeth’s fingers cradle the large black and cream keys the machine responses: popping, sizzling, and roaring to life with a Whiz-Whiz-BANG! Elizabeth quickly discovers the typewriter has powers beyond anything she has ever seen. The more she types, the more the machine spells out guarded secrets that need to be revealed in order to set history straight and remove a curse that has been on their family for centuries. To solve the mystery, Elizabeth Yale, alongside Jack, will have to crack the code of the Whizbang Machine. What they find challenges their most basic assumptions of their family, the history of the typewriter, and even Elizabeth’s father’s death. The ultimate goal is to remove the curse. The question is: will Jack and Elizabeth be able to carry out their mission?

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

What I liked: Well, you don’t see a typewriter every day in books involving relics that spell out a certain doom for the characters. That’s unique to me because I often see an amulet or a stone or a key. It helps that the typewriter can technically talk back, even if it’s often unhelpful.

The author has a very good idea of suspense going for her, for even though there were many things I wasn’t impressed with, I found myself still wanting to read it to figure out the truth behind all the events going on in the book.

What I didn’t like: First off, the characters. Though they are quite believable due to the things they do and say, they’re not likeable people. Elizabeth is the very epitome of annoying, whiny, and temperamental teenagers. In one scene she can seem very grown up and wise, and in another, throw a tantrum for no reason. It’s frustrating that her traits often change. Plus, I wasn’t fond of the mother or Jack. What kind of grandfather purposely brings something he knows is dangerous to his family, while being aware that it could destroy them? That makes no sense to me. I had a tough time relating to any of them and that was rough for me. All the side characters were unfortunately predictable and you could tell who the bad guy was and who wasn’t.

Also, the plot of the book is drowned out by unnecessary details. The characters often find themselves in situations where they have to talk things out but when the dialogue or inner thoughts display on the page, it’s just a recap of everything that’s already happened and I found myself thinking, “I know this already, why are we wasting time?” This book would be so much better if the author got rid of all that re-summarized information and just got on with the plot.

There are action scenes mingled in but they seem so fake that it’s painful. The characters just “happen” to escape from the police in both New York and Amsterdam. They’re not very well written because it’s trying to happen from only one character’s perspective when there are things happening beyond her scope she’s just automatically tuned in to. I could see this better written as third-person omniscient instead of first-person. Elizabeth just seems to know too much.

badge2v4I sadly, can only give this a two – but with hopes that when the sequel is written, the action picks up and makes it less worrisome for readers.

Percy_Procrastinator_100Percy Procrastinator says…

This was a tough read for me. The book is written in Elizabeth’s first person POV but for that, I don’t think I got very good insight into her character. Elizabeth was erratic and emotional, more so than I would have expected from a teenager. Had it only been her, though, I could have excused it. Elizabeth’s mom, Lauren, is just as bad and so is Jack, her grandfather, from whom I expected patience and wisdom. So much so that it surprised me and made it tough for me to root for them as characters. I couldn’t find common ground with any of them which meant I didn’t understand them and therefore made it tough to read about them.

The first part of the book is focused on the family members so much that I almost stopped reading before the mystery started. Elizabeth is about to start her summer off and Jack has just returned. Jack had left years earlier, after his wife and son, Elizabeth’s dad, had died within a week of each other. Jack hopes to reconnect with his family but also starts the mystery with his gift.

Once the mystery of the typewriter, the titular WhizBang Machine and gift from Jack, started, that kept me going as I did want to see what the mystery was. Thinking back on it, though, I don’t think the characters gave enough thought to the Whiz Bang machine. It reacted only to Elizabeth by creating smoke letters to spell out words. It electrocuted Jack enough to give him a heart attack. It worked with no power to it or even no paper. What? They have a supernatural item on their hands and it isn’t questioned?

However, when Elizabeth starts having near psychic-level dreams, a supernatural typewriter at that point is par for the course. Sure, some of her dreams reveal to her old memories of her dad. Other dreams, though, are of people she didn’t know who turn out to be real and tied up in the curse. And now we get a curse, because why not at this point? All of these things are used to push Elizabeth and Jack into researching the mystery of her family and I don’t think this was done very well. There are boxes of her dad’s things in storage that contain clues and could have started this in a much better way for me. Further, at no point is how the Whiz Bang machine works or creates smoke messages ever questioned, even though it’s nearly sentient.

Now, having criticized the book, I enjoyed many parts of it. I like the idea of rival families and a feud centuries old. I liked the characters having to go to the library to do searching for documents not on the internet. I liked that they had to travel to Europe to find out more. There were good chase scenes in several places and the tension in them worked for me.

badge2v4I’m not sure where I stand on the next book. If I knew it was the last book of the series, I would be more interested in it. I’m not curious enough to search it out. For that reason, I give this book a high two. Some good points but it didn’t come together enough for me to give it a three.

I received an ARC of this book book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: The Interconnectedness of All Kings

Dirk GentlyTitle: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: The Interconnectedness of All Kings
Author: Chris Ryall, Tony Akins (Illustrations), Ilias Kyriazis (Illustrations)
Series: stand alone
Publish Date:  January 26, 2016
Genre:  Paranormal Mystery, Humor, Graphic Novel
Source: From where you got the book

Publisher’s Description: After writing all the many and conflicting versions of the legendary “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” beloved author Douglas Adams created Dirk Gently: a detective with a belief in the fundamental interconnectedness of all things, a unique relationship with the laws of probability and physics, and a love of cats and pizza.

In his first-ever comic series, Dirk has been forced to leave his beloved England behind, coming to the too-sunny, too-cheery, and altogether too-bizarre-even-for-Dirk city of San Diego, California, where he gets embroiled in three separate (or are they?) cases involving reincarnated Egyptians, golden cell phones, and copycat killers. All this in a new town seemingly incapable of making even a single proper cup of tea.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Percy_Procrastinator_100Percy Procrastinator says…

Things I Didn’t Like: It has been two decades since I read the first Dirk Gently novels and as these stories do rely on them, I don’t think we were given enough background on several of the characters. I think having a summary of events up to now, or character dossiers would have helped jog my memory on a few things because several characters from the books are here. It’s obvious they had a story and I think reminding those who read it who they are, as well as enticing those who hadn’t read it to go find them and read them, would have served the story well.

One of the things Dirk does so well is make up stuff, based on his theory of the interconnectedness of all things. It’s not a love it or hate it, though, but taking each one at a time, rolling them around in my head, and deciding on its own merit if I like it or not. A few didn’t work for me, even though they were no different than any of the others.

Things I Liked: I really like Dirk and the whole gang. I even like the bad guys for the bad guys that they are. As much as Interconnectedness can grate, it was well done and came together nicely in the end, to a very satisfying conclusion.

There are also a lot of fun references to other things Adams wrote, and I’m sure I didn’t catch them all! It was fun to catch the pop culture references here and there but I never got a sense of the author “winking” at us at his cleverness, just that he worked them into the story well.

badge3v4My rating this time doesn’t reflect something that wasn’t done well but rather something that didn’t leave me longing for more. I think there are more graphic novels on the way but if this had been it, I would have been fine with that. Having a theory about interconnectedness, though, really made me think that there would be a much bigger, overarching plot across the graphic novels, and while that might still happen, I didn’t see the start of it here.