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Ghosts of Gotham by Craig Schaefer

Ghosts of Gotham is a thrilling supernatural suspense novel. Fans of supernatural and mystery both should enjoy this one immensely.

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Title: Ghosts of Gotham
Author: Craig Schaefer
Series: The Ghosts of Gotham Saga, Book 01
Publish Date: April 9, 2019
Genre: Paranormal thriller
Narrator: Susannah Jones
: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionIrresistibly drawn to mysteries, if only to debunk them, reporter Lionel Page exposes supernatural frauds, swindlers, and charlatans. His latest case is an obsession—at least for an ancient and wealthy heiress: verify the authenticity of a lost Edgar Allan Poe manuscript circulating through New York City’s literary underworld. But the shrewd Regina Dunkle offers more than money. It’s a pact. Fulfill her request, and Lionel’s own notorious buried past, one he’s been running from since he was a child, will remain hidden.

As Lionel’s quest begins, so do the warnings. And where rare books go, murder follows. It’s only when Lionel meets enigmatic stranger Madison Hannah, his personal usher into the city’s secret history, that he realizes he’s being guided by a force more powerful than logic…and that he isn’t just following a story. He is the story.

Now that the true purpose of his mission is revealing itself in the most terrifying ways, it may finally be time for Lionel to believe in the unbelievable.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Nervous Nellie says…

Hats off to Craig Schaefer…AGAIN.  He never disappoints with a story.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began this book, but it wasn’t but a couple of “pages” (I was listening to the audiobook), and I was throughly hooked.  I, like the main character, knew better than to get hooked up with an eccentric, wealthy, older woman who has the connections she has but yet needs someone to investigate something for her.  However, the curiosity practically killed me, so that’s why Lionel couldn’t resist.  The characters that he meets and the story that unfolds is riveting.

The narrator was fantastic.  I can say this because I barely noticed.  Once I get wrapped up in a story, the narrator becomes the characters.  It’s then that I can see the movie in my head and feel like I’m side by side with the main character.  I love narrators that give dimension to a story, and this narrator definitely did that.

It behooves me to give this book a 5 star because of the ride it gave me.  Around each corner, I never knew what to expect.  It was fantastic!

Talk bubble for Ivana

Invested Ivana says…

This was Nell’s pick for a joint review, and it was an excellent one. Ghosts of Gotham is a thrill ride of mystery and magic. The first chapter is really compelling and hooked me immediately. I also love the relationships Lionel has with both Maddie and Brionna.

If I have one nitpick, it’s that in a story with a literal goddess and several female witches who may be thousands of years old, the NEOPHYTE MALE has to be the one to save the day. But I like this world Schaefer is building, and I like the characters, so I’m not going to get too picky about that. 🙂

I recognize the narrator, Susannah Jones, from the Kincade Strange novels by Kristi Charish. She’s an excellent narrator with a lovely voice and good character differentiation. I see she narrates a number of Schaefer’s other novels as well, so I’m looking forward to hearing more of them.

The second book in the series, A Time For Witches, came out in October of 2020. It’s available in Kindle version, but not yet in audio. I hope it does come out in audio soon, as I’m looking forward to hearing what Lionel and his coven take on next. 4.5.

Ghost Writer by Damon Norko

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

Ghost WriterTitle: The Ghost Writer
Author: Damon Norko
Series: Stand Alone
Publish Date: November 20, 2015, Black Rose Writing
Genre: Paranormal Literary  Fiction
Source: Provided by Publisher

Publisher’s Description: What would you do if you came back as a ghost? You could finally write that novel . . .

Meet Arnold Showalter, ghost.

At night, Arnold haunts the magnificent underground Mystic Caverns of Appalachia. But during the day, Arnold becomes The Ghost Writer, the first “literary voice from beyond the grave.” Yet before Arnold can capitalize on his fame, he must first exorcise the “ghosts” of his own past. And it is easy to become bitter when one is dead . . .

Fortunately, Arnold’s world is rocked when he meets Clarisse, a 15-year-old fatality of a car accident. Her fresh outlook and spunky energy awaken Arnold to the real possibilities of post-life existence. Clarisse inspires a quest that takes Arnold to the farthest reaches of the universe, and deep within himself.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

I had a hard time trying to figure out how exactly to do my review and what to rate this one. I think it is an interesting idea, but that it is confusing and could have been planned out better.

The Ghost Writer is written using stream of consciousness. It jumps from scene to scene, past to present, earth to space and back very rapidly.  A lot happens in a short amount of pages, and it ends rather abruptly. I was left with unanswered questions and feel like there are loose ends that are not tied up.

As far as the characters go, I found myself wishing I could connect with them more. They are well thought out and I think—given the space of a full-sized novel—I would have come to love them. The world building could also use some work. Several ghosts seem to have jobs and are expected to sign a contract and clock in and out of work, but Arnold doesn’t seem to have set hours and often leaves his post early. The punishment for breaking a contract is disintegration by way of ghost cop, but these beings can clearly get far enough away by flying to the Moon that they can’t be caught. There is also some philosophical stuff at the end about Ghost Winds and how ghosts are the next stage of human evolution, but I feel like I missed something earlier in the book leading up to this. It just wasn’t very clear to me.

badge3v4While the novella does need a bit of work, it is a truly unique idea. I enjoyed the quick read. I just wish it could be expanded upon. I give it 3 stars.


More Paranormal Reads…

The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski, The Architect of Song by A.G. Howard, The Rattled Bones by S. M. Parker

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

Half Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older

Half CoverTitleHalf-Resurrection Blues
AuthorDaniel José Older
SeriesBone Street Rumba Book 1
Publish Date:  January 6, 2015 by Roc Books
Genre:  Urban fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionCarlos Delacruz is one of the New York Council of the Dead’s most unusual agents—an inbetweener, partially resurrected from a death he barely recalls suffering, after a life that’s missing from his memory. He thinks he is one of a kind—until he encounters other entities walking the fine line between life and death. 

One inbetweener is a sorcerer. He’s summoned a horde of implike ngks capable of eliminating spirits, and they’re spreading through the city like a plague. They’ve already taken out some of NYCOD’s finest, leaving Carlos desperate to stop their master before he opens up the entrada to the Underworld—which would destroy the balance between the living and the dead.

But in uncovering this man’s identity, Carlos confronts the truth of his own life—and death…

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

I finished Half-Resurrection Blues, and I’m very upset. It didn’t even have an ending that would encourage me to read the next book.

What was wrong with the ending?

Sasha’s pregnant, which has got to be a miracle, and she leaves him. It just… ends. Sure, there was a resolution to the bad guy, but it was rather anticlimactic. I really thought, for a first book, there should have been a zippier ending that would lead to me wanting to pick up the next book. 

Well, it certainly isn’t a romance book that’s required to have a happily-ever-after. It’s much more of a gritty urban fantasy. Did you like the characters, though? The story?

I liked the story. I liked the characters, except I was expecting a little more depth with Sasha. I mean, if she’s pregnant with Carlos’ child, shouldn’t we at least care about her a little? I liked the twists in the story, but it seemed like I skipped parts when I really didn’t. I had to go back a couple of pages more than once to figure out what was going on and when was it going on. It confused me. I especially liked Riley and Carlos. I could see them in my head as plain as day. Sasha and the rest got murky. I got lost.

I have to agree with you that I got a little lost, and a lot wasn’t fleshed out. I’d read some great reviews about this author’s writing, so I was a little sad there wasn’t more depth to the story.

I feel like I’m really being critical. I’m not normally that nit-picky, but I’m being honest. I felt kind of let down at the end. You know I don’t like sad endings. I can go to my day job and get plenty of sad endings.

Well, the series isn’t over. There’s a very good chance that Sasha will come back, the baby will be fine, and they’ll get their happily-ever-after.

One can hope. I love my happily-ever-afters!


Nervous Nellie says…

Main Characters: ♥♥♥ Carlos Delacruz is a man who was found by a ghost.  Carlos was dead… but not. Riley, Agent Washington to some, never sticks his nose anywhere other than the job at hand… except this one time. He discovered Carlos and took him to a ‘house’ ghost who healed him. Riley gave Carlos his name because Carlos could not remember any of his life. When Carlos healed enough to resemble something useful, the Council of the Dead made Carlos an offer he didn’t want to refuse. The Council of The Dead made Carlos an assassin, and he really liked his job. They also told him he was the only one of his kind. It was not made clear whether he was a good guy in life or a bad guy. Not much was ever really revealed and therein lies the problem. If I could have been able to distinguish what kind of man he was – whether it be a gangster, drug runner or maybe even an undercover cop, then that would have helped my progress in the development of the character in my head. As it was, I felt like a fish out of water throughout the story.

Other Characters: ♥♥♥ Riley Washington starts out as a secondary character — one who I felt was not really intended to be in the spotlight much, but as the story went on, he was featured more. Sasha, Carlos’s love interest, was very blurry. I couldn’t get much from her description, and that made her personality seem cold and unlikable.

World: ♥♥♥ The world was interesting. I would have liked it a lot more if the characters were a little more put together. The creatures that inhabited this world were more of nightmares than anything that would bring about a happily ever after. It felt like I was blind trying to feel my way through the whole story.

Story: ♥♥♥ I liked the concept of the story. I liked that Carlos had a love interest, but I would have liked it more if she would have been more solid. She seemed like an unknown subject most of the time. No idea where she was, who she was, what she was or why she was there. The story became clearer towards the ending when Carlos finally got a clue, but the ending was less than satisfying. It wasn’t a cliffhanger, though there was unfinished business that could get solved in the next book.

Overall: ♥♥♥ I will look into the next book if it’s published. I want to find out if Sasha and Carlos really get together or not, but that’s my only motivation. If Carlos becomes a more kick-ass agent, then we’ll see, but right at this point, I am not inclined to put it on my ‘to watch’ list for when the next book comes out. If I find it, I’ll probably research it, but it’s not a story that gave me much in the line of inspiration. Oh, and the guy on the cover? He doesn’t look like a Carlos Delacruz to me–Carlos isn’t white, sorry.

“Bureaucracy’s got its own special language. It’s trifling, of course, the lowest order of poetry, and manages to divest words of all meaning and still weigh them down with extra banality.”

Invested Ivana says…

I’m going to dispense with the formatted review for this book.

I like this book, but I don’t love it. What I love is its potential. The story idea is good—a plot by a mysterious figure to merge the worlds of the living and the dead; a secret history for the protagonist; a ghost bureaucracy. The idea of the characters is interesting—a half-dead assassin; a ghostly council with ghostly troops and commanders; ghosts that encompass whole geographies. This book has all the makings of some really good stuff.

But to me, it felt like I was reading a comic book without the pictures. I know all about the actions of the characters, but I don’t feel I really know the characters that well. I’m not deep enough into their heads to know what their motivations and feelings are, so the actions they take sometimes seem random, and the threat to their lives isn’t as intense. I don’t know the world well enough, either. What is the Council of the Dead? What is a house ghost? What are the inbetweeners, for that matter? Are they zombies? Something else? Why are the villains acting like the villains? What do they want? Older gives me just enough explanation to follow the action of the story, but not enough for me to really feel invested in the people. The story seems to stay on the surface with the plot and the action. The plot and the action are good. Nothing wrong there. It’s just not enough to satisfy me.

I’m going to give this book a three because I really WANT to know more about this world and its denizens. There is a 50/50 chance I’ll pick up the next book when it comes out, but it won’t be an automatic buy or an immediate read. If the next book doesn’t get deeper into the characters and the world, I can see me dropping it in favor of other books. I hope the next books flesh out the characters and world, though, because there really is some good story here and I’d love to learn more.

Series list and reviews…

  • Half-Resurrection Blues, Book 01
  • Midnight Taxi Tango, Book 02
  • Salsa Nocturna: Stories, Book 2.5
  • Battle Hill Bolero, Book 03

If You Like This Book …

You might pick up Salsa Nocturna, a book of short stories by Daniel José Older, one of which is about Carlos Delacruz.

Series Spotlight: The Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Garriger

Happy Book Day (otherwise known as Tuesday)! Since Gail Carriger’s book, Prudence, is released today, I thought I’d do a series spotlight on Prudence’s predecessor, the Parasol Protectorate.

  • The Curious Case of the Werewolf that Wasn’t, Book 0.5
  • Soulless, Book 1
  • Blameless, Book 2
  • Changeless, Book 3
  • Heartless, Book 4
  • Timeless, Book 5

The Parasol Protectorate is a mystery, adventure, romance, comedy-of-manners series set in a Victorian steampunk world where all sorts of supernaturals reside in the open along with the Daylight folk — werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and even dastardly mad scientists.

PrintAlexia Tarabotti is one of the very few Soulless in the world — a person who possesses no soul of her own and can negate the supernatural in others. One touch from Alexia, and vampires lose their fangs, werewolves lose their fur, and ghosts disappear forever.

As you may imagine, this makes Alexia both feared and loved by the supernatural community. Either they want her under their control, or they want her dead, and they find all kinds of creative ways to accomplish their goals.

Alexia is joined on her adventures by a cast of wonderful characters, including Lord Macon, a Scottish Alpha werewolf who is both annoyed and intrigued by Alexia; his proper English Beta, professor Lyle; Alexia’s good friend, Miss Ivy Hisslepenny, who has an unfortunate taste in hats; Madam Lefoux, an eccentric French inventor who dresses as a man; and Lord Akeldama, the most stylish and informed vampire in all of Britain. Oh, la, darling!

The real beauty of this series, from my perspective, is the combination of Ms. Carriger’s beautiful Victorian writing and the narration of Emily Gray on the audiobook version. Emily Gray does an amazing job of bringing all the characters, and the world as a whole, to life. While I might have dismissed these book as too “fluffy” to read, they are an utter delight in audio.

And had I dismissed them as “fluff,” it would have been my great mistake. While there is plenty of outrageous ridiculousness in these books, there is also an incredibly detailed world, a very intricate mystery, edge-of-your-seat action, and a story that builds through all five books. This is good writing and storytelling, not just comedic “fluff.”

The writing world agrees. In addition to being a New York Times bestseller, Alexia’s adventures have won numerous awards for the fresh and funny writing, have been translated into 17 languages, have spawned a series of graphic novels, and have been optioned for television (see author’s website for details).

Ms. Carriger’s Finishing School series for young adults takes place in the same world as, but prior to the events of, the Parasol Protectorate, and the Custard Protocol series, takes place after. And yes, there is some character cross-over. While I’ve neither read nor listened to the Finishing School books, a sample of Moira Quirk’s reading promises all the character Gray brings to the narration, and Ms. Quirk will be narrating Prudence as well.

If you like audiobooks, steampunk, comedy, supernaturals, romance, dirigibles, and treacle tart, you really must experience the Parasol Protectorate. As Lord Akeldama might say, “It is simply the thing, my little cream puff.  La!”

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