Category Archives: Paranormal Mystery

Red Runes by Nicholas Olivo

Doc Graystone and the Red Runes is a great escape for anyone looking for a short, unique fantasy story with hints of mystery and supernatural thrills!

Red Rune Nicholas OlivoTitle: Red Runes
Author: Nicholas Olivo
SeriesAdventures of Doc Graystone
Publish Date:  April 10, 2015
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source:  Provided by the author (and purchased)

Publisher’s DescriptionBoston, 1932. The police are baffled by a series of killings in which the victims have had mystical runes carved into their flesh. Enter Doc Graystone, gentleman necromancer. Adept at delivering two-fisted necromantic justice, Graystone battles demons, revenants, and ragmen in a race against the clock to stop a madman from destroying the world as we know it.

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


Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie says…

Welcome to the world of necromancy. In the year 1932, in Boston, Massachusetts, there is a doctor who is very proficient at necromancy and solving crimes by asking the victim “who done it?”  I kind of feel like it’s cheating, but where killers are concerned, one must take whatever advantage one finds.  Doc Graystone is looney bin material according to his peers.  He is grieving over the loss of his fiance and I got the hint that he had something to do with it.  He has been perpetually drunk and disorderly since the “incident” and has become a recluse while wallowing in his guilt. Practicing necromancy cannot be good for the soul and with this first short story, little is revealed about how he came to practice or what kinds of cases he has solved.  Also, he portrays his peers as idiots, so I’m interested in discovering “the rest of the story.”

badge3v4This little novella (all 5 are on average 43 pages each) is a very good intro to this Indiana Jones type character.  He knows a lot about the big bad beasties living in the world and he’s nobody’s fool. He can reanimate corpse’s to get their last words and get to the bottom of suspicious deaths.

I have not started #2 in the series yet, but that’s only because I wanted to write this review and give ya’ll a heads up regarding this quick little escape.  It’s worth your time.  I enjoyed it!

Kat Mandu says… 

I loved this novella! I’ve always been fascinated by necromancy, despite its dark reputation. Olivo takes the idea of necromantic control, ennervation, and soul bargaining and plays with its potential. The focus isn’t necessarily on the magic so much as the intention behind it and I love its endless possibilities, not to mention all the hints the author throws out referring to various things about the gentleman necromancer. Grant Graystone seems to have all kinds of secrets, some involving his fiancee’s death and maybe some darker pacts of his own that may come to haunt him later.

I really enjoyed this particular adventure and I can’t wait to read the rest. I don’t really have any dislikes towards it, beyond wishing a couple things would have been explained more (like his relationship with Victor, the ghost in the theatre; or how Joan died and what role he had to play in it; or how he was able to summon a particular carriage driver from the Beyond and what happened with the girl – I mean, he probably fulfilled his promise, but it was never mentioned so there was no finality to it). But those are things that could possibly be answered in the next installments, so perhaps I’ll receive my answers when I read on.

Other reviews…

If you like this book, try…

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.