A Savage Ghost by Donna K. Weaver

Narrator: Tiffany Williams

Publisher: Emerald Arch Publishing (2016)

Length: 3 hours 18 minutes

Author’s Page

Set in northern Washington State, the Savage family recently took over an Irish castle that was moved to the US some years ago. Now Lia Savage has left California to help her family renovate the castle and get it ready for it’s new life as a tourist attraction. However, there is a spirit haunting the premises. Add to that, Lia has set eyes once again on Coop Montgomery, who has grown from the boy she knew to a young man. Romance is in the air.

This story starts off pretty good. The main characters are given some dimension and the setting is interesting. Adding the Irish ghost to the mix adds some mystery since the ghost is hunting for something hidden in the castle.

Lia was my favorite character. She’s very much wants to be a chef and she and her California friend are searching for a place to open their own cafe. However, her family would really like her to stay in Washington. Then we meet Coop and, despite his silly name, he provides yet more reason for her to consider staying in Washington.

The romance was cute and moved along swiftly. I’m not big on romance myself but it worked well for this story. The setting was great. I love the idea of an old Irish castle moved brick by brick over to the states and set down in the Pacific Northwest. Lia and her siblings had fun exploring the castle as well as assisting in fixing it up.

Speaking of Lia’s siblings, they are all twins. I think it was 3 sets of twins, though one of Lia’s sisters had died at some point prior to the beginning of this tale. So I couldn’t help but wonder if Lia’s mother was on some sort of egg enhancing drug therapy. Also we never do learn the particulars of how Lia’s sister dies and that left a little string hanging undone. I really wanted to know and it wouldn’t have been much trouble for the author to give us that.

The story winds up to the big hunt for the lost object the ghost has been longing for. It was fun and exciting though I never felt that Lia, Coop, or the kids were in any real danger. Once the mystery is solved, the story wraps up really quickly and I was left with a few questions about the plot hanging there unanswered. I wanted to know about Lia’s dead sister but I also wanted to know what happened with Lia’s friend in California and how their friendship held up to Lia’s ultimate decision.

I received a free copy of this book with no strings attached.

The Narration: Tiffany Williams was a delight to listen to. She had distinct voices for each character, which was not always an easy feat with the twins in this book. While her Irish accent for the ghost was a little rough, it was still enjoyable.

What I Liked: Lovely cover art; good narration; the castle in Washington setting; the mystery of the ghost; Lia and her siblings.

What I Disliked: There were a few questions left unanswered by the end of the story. 

The Cavanaugh House by Elizabeth Meyette

Narrator: Amy McFadden

Publisher: Elizabeth Meyette (2016)

Length: 10 hours 35 minutes

Series: Book 1 Cavanaugh House

Author’s Page

Suffering from a broken engagement, Jesse Graham has left Rochester for the North Lakes area of New York, taking a job at the local nun-run school and living in the Cavanaugh house, a place left to her by her deceased aunt Helen. Arriving there, she first has to make the house livable and Joe Riley is there to offer a helping hand, and perhaps more if Jesse is interested. Secrets about her aunt Helen and her own past start to emerge and someone doesn’t want those secrets brought to light. Jesse is in danger.

This was a very slow paced book. It takes quite some time to get to any part of the mystery. Set in 1968, much of the story and phrases used are quaint. For some, this might bring up nostalgia. For me, this book felt much longer than it actually was and it took me some time to become engaged in the story. Still, it is written with skill and care.

Being equal parts mystery and romance, let’s start with the romance. It was a slow burn as well. Jesse moves to this small town and immediately more than one available man is interested in dating her. Joe is the first one to show interest and is the son of Susan, her aunt Helen’s best friend from all those years ago. Then there’s Marty, a police officer. There’s also Al, a son of the local prominent and wealthy family. It felt a little cliched to have all the local bachelors vying for the new girl’s hand at the dance. This part of the story held little interest for me.

As to the mystery, it was pretty straight forward. I almost want to say that this book wasn’t so much a mystery as it was a tale of Jesse discovering herself. It was painfully obvious what the big secret was about Helen. Also once we meet Al, it also seemed obvious what the second half of that mystery had in store. So for me, it felt that Jesse’s journey to the discovery of the truths about her family and her past were the important part.

My favorite parts of the story were Maggie, who is Sister Angelina. The nuns doing every day things like baseball and playing cards was great. Maggie’s friendship sees Jesse through the worst of her ordeals. Also, I really liked the haunted house aspect of the tale, with Helen’s ghost being the source of the haunting.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Amy McFadden did an awesome job narrating this book. She always sounded engaged and she had distinct voices for all the characters. Her male voices were quite believable. She did a good job with the sometimes corny humor, making it seem natural and funny.

What I Liked: Maggie and the nuns were great; the haunted house aspect of the story; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: Very slow burn all the way through; the romance wasn’t very interesting; the answers to the mystery were straight forward.

Check out more reviews, interviews, spotlights, and more on the blog tour.

About Author Elizabeth Meyette:

Poet, blogger and believer in dreams-come-true, Elizabeth Meyette’s journey has taken her through a career in education to a career in writing. Elizabeth put her first novel, Love’s Destinyon the shelf while she taught English, Journalism and Library Science/Technology.

Upon retiring from teaching, she dusted off Love’s Destiny, polished it and submitted it to Crimson Romance, who published it in June 2012. Unlike her first novel, the sequel, Love’s Spirit took only seven months from inception to submission, and was published in April 2013.To coin a friend’s phrase, she didn’t retire, she “refired” and loves her second career as a writer.

Elizabeth’s mysteries are set in 1968 in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. An Amazon Bestseller, The Cavanaugh House, and its sequel, Buried Secrets, are available as audiobooks. She has also published poetry and freelance articles.

Elizabeth is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America, a member Sisters in Crime, Capitol City Writers Association, Greater Grand Rapids Writers Group and Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators. She and her husband Richard live in the West Michigan. They made an agreement that she cannot cook on writing days after he had endured burnt broccoli and overcooked chicken.  Fortunately, Richard is an excellent cook.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest ~ Facebook ~ GoodReads ~ Amazon

Synopsis of The Cavanaugh House:

When Jesse Graham unlocks the door to the deserted house she inherited from her Aunt Helen, she doesn’t realize she’s unlocking secrets that had lain dormant for years. Reeling from a broken engagement to acclaimed musician Robert Cronmiller, Jesse wants to leave the city where her name is linked to his in all the society pages. Her best friend, Maggie, aka Sister Angelina, convinces her to take a job at a private girls school in the pastoral Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Anticipating a quiet, revitalizing life in her aunt’s deserted house, Jesse is instead thrown into a maze of danger. Questions about her aunt’s death lead Jesse to investigate events surrounding it and the people involved, but she uncovers a web of deceit that reaches far beyond the occurrences of over two decades earlier. Still dejected from her broken engagement, Jesse finds it difficult to trust anyone, even her self-absorbed mother. Joe Riley is irresistible, but secrets obstruct involvement with him until Jesse can solve the secrets of the Cavanaugh House. Someone doesn’t want those secrets unearthed and will stop at nothing, even murder, to keep them hidden.

Audible        Amazon

About Narrator Amy McFadden:

Amy McFadden has narrated over 250 titles in many different genres with a focus on Comedic Fiction, Romance, and not-super-violent Thrillers.  She is an Earphones Award winner, and a four-time Audie Award finalist in Humor, Mystery/Thriller and Literary Fiction.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Speakeasy Dead by Vicky Loebel

LoebelSpeakeasyDeadScroll to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!

Narrators: Emily Beresford & Nick Podehl

Publisher: Pentachronistic Press (2013)

Length: 12 hours 49 minutes

Series: Book 0.5 Demonic Intervention

Author’s Page

Note: This book and it’s loosely tied-in sequel, Keys to the Coven, can each work just fine as stand alones.

Set in Falstaff, Arizona in the 1920s during Prohibition, the Woodsens run a speakeasy bar and also sell some of their surplus alcohol to others. Now a Chicago-based mob is trying to move in and run the alcohol trade. They will be surprised at how little pushing it takes to upset a witch. Meanwhile, the youngest of the Woodsen cousins, teen Clara, is desperate to save her beloved movie star Beau Beauregard. She’s willing to break some rules in the name of true love (or her first crush). Her older cousin, Bernard (Bernie) Benjamin, is just the guy to help her out, even if he has to be lured to the basement and tied to the center of a pentagram. Demons and zombies have never had so much fun as they will during the dance competition!

Once again, Vicky Loebel has given me something original and very funny. There’s a bit of sexy (though it’s pretty PG-13 for this book) as well. Clara is a driven character who’s young enough to not know to look at the bigger picture when it comes to love, yet old enough to have just enough responsibility and autonomy to get into big trouble. She’s dead set on saving her ‘beloved’ Beau even if he has no idea she exists (and that’s because they’ve never met). She’s even willing to become a warlock by summoning a demon and striking a bargain with it. Hans is the handsome demon that appears and somehow he talks things around so that his demon familiar, Ruth, will enter a dance contest. The pit just gets deeper from there on out.

With the Chicago mob, Bernie and his personal schemes, Gladys the Golem, Beau’s resentment over the whole mess, zombies, stolen booze, and an older Woodsen sibling arriving soonish, Clara really does have her hands full. It was so funny! There’s plenty of clever lines and each person really has their own agenda in mind. Clara wants love from Beau, and to not get caught. Bernie doesn’t want to die a horrible death (which is surely what will happen when Clara’s older witch sisters find out about this whole mess). The mob want their booze, the money, and control (and they seem constantly surprised when that doesn’t happen easily). Beau is quite angry with his situation and Clara is totally surprised by what he truly wants. Gladys just wants to get back to housekeeping.

I really enjoyed the various magical elements. There’s the demon Hans and his familiar Ruth which have their intricate little dos and don’ts. Then Gladys who is a Golem and rather protective of young Bernie. One of Clara’s best friends is a ghost whisperer and she has a ghost familiar (Gaspar, complete with Spanish accent). Loebel manages to pull each one into the storyline seamlessly. Moreover, she gives each one rules to work with and she keeps them within those rules. With a comedy, it would be easy to have these various magical folk breaking rules, so I appreciated that once the author laid down a law of this is how this type of magic works, she kept her characters in line.

I did quite enjoy all the flirty, sexy behavior that popped up here and there. Demons love to trade on sex because it builds up their karma, which is basically spiritual coinage. Clara knows all this from her older witch sisters and her book on demons. Yet when the offers are made to her, she’s tempted. Bernie isn’t as naive but he’s not as well-schooled as he likes to pretend either. Ruth, being a large hunting cat most of the time, has a sexy confidence all the time, even when she’s totally mangling her dance partner’s foot during practice. There’s plenty of wit and humor with the sexy bits, making them just as fun as the rest of the book.

Having listened to both audiobook set in this urban fantasy world, I really hope Loebel gives us more. The humor is a bit unique and I love the mix of serious situations, magic, and laughter. Not everyone makes it out of this story unscathed. In many ways, Clara comes of age in this tale. Loved it and looking forward to more of it!

I received a free copy of this book.

Narration: Emily Beresford and Nick Podehl once again did a great job on this book. Even though they voiced totally different characters for Keys to the Coven, I read them far enough apart that I didn’t have character echos in my head, as can sometimes happen when you listen to books set in the same universe that have different characters yet the same narrators. These two are great with all the emotions and also delivering straight lines so the humor is left hanging there for the reader/listener to catch even as the story moves onward.

What I Liked: Arizona!; the Prohibition era; silly mobsters being all tough and hard to take a hint; Clara’s first real crush; Beau’s reaction to that crush; Bernie’s role in all this mess; Gladys is probably the most dangerous one in the mix but knows when to hold back; Ruth is a sexy beast; Gaspar and his Zorro sword; how it all ends with a Charleston.

What I Disliked: Nothing – so darn funny!

GIVEAWAY!

Vicky is generously offering up 3 audiobook copies of her book Speakeasy Dead! The audiobook is available through both Audible.com and Audible.UK. To enter the giveaway, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1)  Do you have either an Audible.com or an Audible.UK account?  2) What attracts you most to this book? Zombies? Prohibition? Demons? Dance Contests? 3) Leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaway ends April 4th, midnight, 2017.

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Teddy Bears and the Halloween Ghost by Justin Sloan

SloanTeddyBearsAndTheHalloweenGhostWhere I Got It: Free on the author’s YouTube channel

Narrator: Michael Gilliland

Publisher: Justin Sloan (2015)

Length: 24 minutes

Series: Book 2 Teddy Defenders

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.

Halloween is my favorite holiday and when I saw Justin Sloan had a Teddy Defenders book set on this holiday, I couldn’t turn it down. It’s Halloween night and Rick and his little sister Tiffany are getting dressed up to go Trick-or-Treating. Meanwhile, the Teddy Defenders alternate between playing deaf and dumb cute toys and discussing the fun of being taken out with the kids on this fun night. However, things don’t go as they planned. Mia, Tiffany’s Teddy Defender, and her friends are able to move around more freely on this night because of all the costumes. They overhear a conversation about a scary ghost scaring the kid’s at Tiffany’s school and they head there to investigate and take care of the ghost. After all, we know that goblins and such are real; why not ghosts?

While this is a short story instead of the longer novella that Book 1 (Teddy Bears in Monsterland) is, I felt that it was better balanced. The pacing is better, the plot tighter, and we have a better mix of the genders. I also like that we get to know Rick and Tiffany a bit more as they had very small, if significant, roles in Book 1. Additionally, the Teddy Defenders have kept some of the friendships they made in Book 1 as well, so we get some non-Teddy characters in the mix.

We learn a little more about the Teddy powers, especially if they are stressed. Plus Tiffany has a little secret and we all know that Halloween isn’t just the night for treats, but also for tricks. Mia was quite stunned at the revelation and it was fun to see the Teddy Defenders caught off guard and their various responses. All in all, this was a fun little tale fit for the family and it makes a good lunch break listen. I’m looking forward to seeing where Sloan takes this series!

The Narration: Michael Gilliland narrated Book 1 and I am glad the author kept him for Book 2 even though most of the character viewpoints are female. Gilliland has pretty good female voices and excellent little kid voices. He does a great job of keeping each character voice distinct. He also does an excellent job of imbuing the characters with emotion when required. I especially liked his determined or ticked off voice for Mia.

What I Liked: The cover art; Halloween!; more time with the female characters; get to know the kids and the Teddy Defenders better; a fun ending.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

Ever Near by Melissa MacVicar

MacVicarEverNearWhere I Got It: Won a copy from the publisher (thanks!)

Narrator: Melissa Redmond

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing (2014)

Length: 5 hours 1 minute

Series: Book 1 Secret Affinity

Author’s Page

Jade Irving is your typical highschool student – parties, boys, ghosts having tantrums…..Set on Nantucket Island, a place rife with ghostly activity, Jade has to come to terms with her new fund abilities. With the help of her grandmother and a strange ghost hunter, she tackles the mystery surrounding Lacey’s ghost. Her new boyfriend also provides support, but most of the battle is up to her.

I went back and forth on this one. First, I really liked that Jade’s family isn’t all of one ethnicity and it was especially refreshing to have a main protagonist that wasn’t Caucasian. The author lightly touches on the odd looks her blended family sometimes gets, but doesn’t dwell on it. On the other hand, Jade has a serious crush on her soon-to-be stepbrother, Charlie. In fact, they are living in the same house, bedrooms across the hall from each other. I guess there aren’t that many teen boys on Nantucket Island? Anyway, it gave me a little bit of an ‘ick’ factor to the story. I know, they are not blood related at all. But…..well, there’s just something ultra-convenient about having your beau be your step-brother and living in the same house. On the plus side, Jade is smart to be aware of and on birth control.

Next, I found it fun that there was this whole paranormal world going on and a lot of it was tied to history. So our heroine had to spend some time researching the history of her little tiny plot of Earth to figure out the motivations of the ghosts she dealt with. On the other hand, Jade spends much of her time screaming and crying and not getting much of anything done while she has her hysterics. In fact, it felt more like luck than anything else that she survived this tale. While I understand that it would be normal to be a bit freaked out when you find out you can interact with ghosts, I tend to like my characters to move through that hysterical phase really quickly so that we can get down to the figuring-stuff-out-phase. We didn’t get much of the latter in this book.

The characters were OK. Once established, they were pretty static. In fact, the most interesting character was the slightly creepy ghost hunter. He obviously has a tale or two to tell. The minor characters, for the most part, were interchangeable. Jade was fun when she wasn’t curled up in a little ball crying her eyes out (which was much of the story). Over all, it s was meh, ho hum tale for me.

Narration: Melissa Redmond did do a pretty awesome job narrating this tale. While it wasn’t really the story for me, she still pulled off the voices quite well.Her voice for Jade was excellent. She had distinct voices for both males and females.

What I Liked: Not your standard White heroine; interesting paranormal world; a bit of history; intriguing side character (the ghost hunter).

What I Disliked: The step-brother is the only potential boyfriend material in the book; the heroine spend much of the story crying and freaking out.

What Others Think:

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Spook by Mary Roach

Chupa isn't spooked.
Chupa isn’t spooked.

Where I Got It: The library.

Publisher: W. W. Norton (2005)

Length: 311 pages

Author’s Page

Note: My review of Spook was originally published on Dark Cargo on April 10, 2012. It has been reformatted and published here with permission from Dark Cargo.

What is it about Mary Roach books? I have read all four out there (Bonk, Stiff, Packing for Mars, and Spook) and fervently look forward to the next one. I don’t care what subject it will be on; I know I will be one of the first at the library to pick it up.

In Spook, Roach takes us through the history of human attempts to quantify, contact, and plan for the afterlife. Roach just does not hold back in her investigative journalism, asking all those pesky, pointed, icky questions and telling us readers truly what she found out and how she found it out. Let me share a few little tidbits with you. Y’all love my tidbits.

The Egyptians had everything from daily life packed away with them for the afterlife, including single-seater toilets. Apparently, all functions continue as normal in the afterlife. Just something to look forward to.

There have been a few people, sometimes even doctors, who try to weigh the human body as it dies to see if there is a quantifiable loss – the soul leaving the body. A few other people tried this same experiment with dogs, cattle, goats, and mice. Results have been mixed. Does your soul weigh upon you?

Masters of the seance had a brief period where they played around with low lighting, mysterious smokey incense, and ectoplasm from the beyond. The ectoplasm, upon close examination, was usually cheesecloth draped around the spiritual channeler. People eventually started to catch on to this and the lady seance leaders had to get creative on where to hide the ectoplasm until it was needed…..like in their panties.

If you have not checked out a Mary Roach book yet, I strongly encourage it. Her books are some of the most enlightening, and entertaining, non-fiction out there.

What I Liked: So many intimate details!; educational; not only are tricks of the trade discussed, but also the true mysteries that folks are trying to figure out.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this is another great book from Mary Roach.

What Others Think:

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Genre Lasagna

Dead Eye: The Skinwalker Conspiracies by Jim Bernheimer

BernehimerSkinwalkerConspiraciesWhere I Got It: review copy via Audiobook Jukebox (thanks!)

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Gryphonwood Press (2012)

Length: 7 hours 54 minutes

Series: Book 2 Dead Eyes

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 2 in the series, I think it stands on it’s own pretty well.

Mike Ross returns in this excellent sequel to Pennies for the Ferryman. He’s still missing an eye, still plagued by ghosts, and his love life is still nonexistent. However, he has been working out so he should be able to punch ghosts with more effectiveness. Perhaps his love life will even come back from the grave.

Mike is on a quest. His dad walked out on him and his mom when he was a kid and he learned in Book 1 that it might not have been by his dad’s own volition. His dad may have been possessed by a skinwalker and Mike has to know the whole truth in order to put his past to bed. In his hunt for his dad, he also has to work through the revelations from Book 1 concerning his genetic ties to Edgar Alan Poe. Mike isn’t the first Ferryman in his family tree. With all that and the ever clinging ghosts dying to chat with a mortal, Mike is in for an adventure.

I enjoyed this story even more than Book 1. I think it is because Mike is indeed a reluctant hero. He’s still recovering from wounds received in military service and his disability check barely lets him get by while living at his mom’s. So, yeah, he likes to see some financial gain for assisting the numerous ghosts that want him to carry a message or return some family trinket to a long lost niece. But on occasion, Mike feels compelled to do something simply because it is the right thing to do. In the end, it is this sense of good that drives Mike onward even when he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

This adventure featured a Cadillac that broke down more than once (electrical interference from emotionally disturbed ghosts), a wedding ring (haunted with memories of  a honeymoon gone awry), a body swap (say ‘Woof!’ for me boy!), and a female ghost hunter turned personal trainer (she’s quite comfortable handling Glocks). Toss in a powerful ghost on the brink of insanity, a few skinwalkers, and the Alamo and you have one wicked crazy adventure.

I’m a fan of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files, which is a well known urban fantasy series. I think Bernheimer’s Dead Eye series is every bit as entertaining as the early books in The Dresden Files series and I very much look forward to seeing where he takes Mike next.

Narration:  Jeffrey Kafer did another excellent job. He’s a great voice for Mike, sounding like a determined but down and out man who is just trying to get by. Kafer has an array of distinct voices for both men and women. He also carried off accents for the Alamo quite well.

What I Liked:  Mike’s powers continue to grow; several storylines in this book pulled together and tied off nicely; Edgar Alan Poe; looking forward to the next adventure!

What I Disliked:  Nothing – thoroughly enjoyed myself with this book.

What Others Think:

Fantasy Book Critic

Reading Rainbow Six

Schesarazade

Dead Eye: Pennies for the Ferryman by Jim Bernheimer

BernheimerPenniesForferrymanWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Gryphonwood Press (2012)

Length: 8 hours 38 minutes

Series: Book 1 Dead Eyes

Author’s Page

Mike Ross is ex-military, having lost an eye and received some leg injuries while serving the country. He now lives with his mom as he tries to pull his life together; re-acclimatizing to civilian life, finding a job, multiple doctor visits, and plenty of physical therapy. Oh, and that ever so annoying tendency to see & hear ghosts. They aren’t all nice ghosts either and some of them can hurt him.

Mike decides to enroll in college, mostly as a way to stave off having to find a job at some fast food joint. There, he meets a young woman who has a ghost problem. Once he solves her ghost problem, their relationship starts having problems. If it’s not one thing, then it’s another. For a while, I was worried Mike would be a lonely hero. Then entered Candace (Candy) who is older and refreshingly secure in her sexuality. Also, she is responsibly employed as a police officer. These two make a good team.

As Mike starts to question his sanity, ghost after ghost proves that it isn’t just all in his head. His ability to interact with the spirit world make him a Ferryman. But as his ability becomes more common knowledge, various entities start messing with him – ghosts, humans, Skinwalkers. Yep, it’s never a slow day in Mike’s world. Luckily, he has some good friends in his corner.

If you check out my blog often, then you know I am a Jim Bernheimer fan. Pennies for the Ferryman does not disappoint! It was a great listen from start to finish. The action is nicely mixed with moments of introspection or character building (via his relationships with others). While there are fewer ladies than the guys, they play pivotal roles. The world building was fun to watch coalesce, as Mike explores his new abilities and the world those abilities dump him into. And these abilities (for both Mike and the other supernatural characters) followed distinct rules which gave the story a nice framework for the plot to happen.

Part mystery, part ghost story, all good intense fun. So looking forward to the sequel!

Narration:  Jeffrey Kafer did another excellent job. He also narrated the D-List Supervillain novels. He had a great beat-upon voice for Mike. His female voices were feminine and distinct. He had to come up with a variety of accents and sometimes spooky voices for the ghosts. His narration was a joy to listen to!

What I Liked:  The rules of the supernatural world; Mike’s practical take on his new abilities; the female characters; the cover art.

What I Disliked:  Nothing – thoroughly enjoyed myself with this book.

What Others Think:

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Mugglenet

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Deadly Curiosities by Gail Z. Martin

MartinDeadlyCuriositiesWhy I Read It: Urban fantasy and antiques, how could I say no?

Where I Got It: A review copy from the publisher via NetGalley (thanks!)

Who I Recommend This To: Fans of ghosts, antiques, and items steeped in emotional resonance would enjoy this book.

Publisher: Solaris (2014)

Length: 454 pages

Series: Book 1 Deadly Curiosities

Author’s Page

Cassidy’s family has run Trifles & Folly, an antique shop in Charleston, South Carolina, since 1670. Cassidy’s business partner, Sorren (a Nordic vampire several centuries old), has worked with Cassidy’s family all that time, assisting them in tracking down and neutralizing dangerous magical and supernatural items. Cassidy’s employee, Teag (a man who has all but the PhD in history and some martial arts skills) has been brought into the know. Some mundane items start going spooky, and Cassidy and crew soon have their hands full with mysterious deaths, Shadow men, vicious supernatural hounds, and a scarred, withered man who may be behind it all.

This was a fast-paced urban fantasy with a twist: antiques. So, lots of history was tossed into the mix, and I loved it. Indeed, I had a hard time putting this book down. It was easy to get into, easy to connect with the characters, and plenty of fun to watch them battle supernatural beasties, a demon, and a determined mad man. I thoroughly enjoyed how the tale pulled in historical aspects of the local area and smoothly blended them with made up ‘facts’ for the sake of the plot. There’s an old Navy yard that becomes a focal point for the mystery of the story, complete with a history of shady business deals, slavery, and pirates.

Cassidy herself is well-rounded, having both strengths and weaknesses, concerns and confidence. She and the other main characters have to deal with getting injured, protecting each other’s backs, and eating regularly. There are few superhumans among this crew, and even Sorren (the vampire) has limitations. I enjoyed that Sorren was just another character – not some evil, icky bad guy, nor some romanticized love interest. Then we have Teag, and to some lesser extent, his partner Anthony. Teag was in the thick of things for most of the story, and Anthony put in a few appearances, trying hard to accept what Teag does for a living. I can definitely see these two being featured more heavily in future additions of the series. Lucinda, a local voudoun witch (or practitioner) calls upon the Loas for her brand of magic, offering the crew another layer of defense. And of course, her presence made it simple to pull in a few more bits of history.

As the story moves forward, a few more characters are brought in, so by the end you have a sizable list. But it was done very well, pacing the entrance of the characters throughout the book so I didn’t feel that I was ever overloaded with new characters, scrambling to keep them straight. My one little complaint is the final fight scene: I was pretty darn sure that some of the good guys had taken out one of the bad guys, only to have the bad guy rise two pages later to continue wreaking havoc. I reread the section 3 times and didn’t feel there was a clear transition. Perhaps the author wanted the reader to be surprised…..but the good guys didn’t seem surprised. Anyway, that is a very small criticism and it won’t keep me from reading further works by this author.

What I Liked:  Lots of historical tidbits; plenty of paranormal baddies that function within a set framework; the cover; Teag and Anthony; the vampire is not a love interest; Cassidy is a well-rounded character.

What I Disliked:  One minor thing about the final fight scene – but not a big deal.

What Others Think:

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Wildpeculiarjoy

OnceUponATime8Tis the season for fantasy in all forms. Join the reading challenge Once Upon A Time, hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. You can catch my intro post to this year’s challenge over HERE. Anyone can join this event, which runs from March 21 – June 20, 2014.

A Sunset Finish by Melinda Moore

MooreSunsetFinishWhy I Read It: Set in NM, a violin or two, with Native American culture – how could I say no?

Where I Got It: A review copy from the author (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: Fans of the paranormal, such as body snatching ghosts, would enjoy this.

Publisher: Jupiter Gardens Press (2013)

Length: 65 pages

Author’s Page

Stephanie Minagawa has struggled with depression since her teen years. She has also struggled with the expectations of her parents as she wants to be a musician and her parents want her to be an engineer. So she tells her parents she’s off to far away New Mexico to work at Sandia National Labs but really she packs her violin and has hopes of joining the orchestra. Too bad the dry air of the desert splits her violin within hours of her landing there. But her stand partner recommends a violin repair shop on one of the local pueblos. And there she sees and hears the Sunset People. Their magical music calls to her and she can’t let it go. She returns again and again, demanding to know, even after she is loaned a violin while hers is being repaired.

The main character struggles with her depression and inclination towards suicide throughout the book. While I like how the author delved into this aspect (including self-mutilation and the altar of deceased relatives), I was a little unsatisfied that a reason, or series of reasons, for the depression was not revealed. Perhaps there was none in the fictional life of Stephanie……but for a novella, it nagged at me a bit. Whatever the reasons, or not, for her attraction to suicide, it was an integral part of the plot. The Sunset People’s music is for those who are ready to let go of life and move into the next realm of being. Stephani hears the music and is strongly drawn to it. Meanwhile, a lady she becomes friends with is struggling with a serious illness and can’t hear the music or see the Sunset People; she is not ready to let go. I liked the juxtaposition of these two.

Then we have the romance of the story. Granted, it’s a little like a whirlwind. He works at the violin repair shop and lends her his own violin. The two have a near-instant bond in their love for music. However, he still misses his deceased wife, Theresa. Poor man, I don’t recall his name. The ladies in this story were more interesting. Though he did get a few great lines about wanting to live, etc. Stephanie reacts angrily to these lines and he has to apologize later, which I thought was a bit unfair. She was dancing with death, toying with it, not fully living her life, but not quite able to give it up either. That aspect had me thinking a lot about life and not living it half-assed, no matter if you are suicidal or not.

Anyway, we get a paranormal aspect a bit later in the story as Theresa returns as a ghost and tries to take over Stephanie permanently. This creates another quandary for our main character. She could let go of her life, easily, with no pain, no fuss. Her parents wouldn’t even know she was gone. There would be no guilt over her leaving people behind. What do you think she picked? I won’t spoil it for you. I will say the ending was very satisfying.

What I Liked: Setting in NM; main character comes with long-term conflict (suicide inclination); the ending was quite satisfying.

What I Disliked: There wasn’t any reason(s) given for Stephanie’s depression.

What Others Think:

Obviously Opinionated

Ruth Hull Chatlien