“Lark was a religious community: participation was expected, baptism a stipulation.” “…but soon the fog would descend, making Lark unreachable. Unleavable. There would be no more ships until April.”—from Impossible Causes.
Atmospheric combination of The Village and Carrie sets the scene in this coming-of-age gothic horror thriller. I expected to love Impossible Causes. But somehow I never fully believed the plot. However, if you like a heavy atmosphere and some of the lesser M. Night Shyamalan movies, you may enjoy it. 3 stars.
Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Fate: A Doyle Witch Cozy Mystery (The Witches of Doyle #6)
by Kirsten Weiss
Guest Post by the Author
November Kitchen Witchery
November is a cozy cooking time of year. And even though Jayce Bonheim, the heroine of my cozy witch mystery, Fate, calls herself an earth witch, there’s some definite kitchen witchery in her life as well. She knows that sharing a meal is about more than nutrition – it’s about sharing around a table and all the attendant emotions.
At its most basic, kitchen witchery involves cooking with intention. That could be the intention to heal, the intention to share love and gratitude, or simply the intention to make a delicious meal. It involves slowing down and making cooking a heartfelt meditation rather than a chore.
When Jayce practices kitchen witchery (when she’s not solving crimes and keeping her hometown free from bad mojo), she takes things a step further. She’ll stir clockwise to infuse her intention into whatever she’s cooking (if she lived below the equator, she’d stir counterclockwise).
She’d also choose ingredients which correspond to whatever she was trying to do. For example, chocolate is well known to be associated with love and romance, so cocoa powder in a dinner entrée for a romantic evening would work well. If you’re planning on making candied yams or sweet potatoes this Thanksgiving, those also correspond to love. This would be a good dish for Jayce to infuse with the intention of sharing the love. Pumpkin pie is associated with abundance and healing, and so is that Thanksgiving green bean casserole. When cooking either of those dishes, Jayce might stir in her intention of abundance.
Jayce uses the same basic process when she makes her non-edible coffee hand scrub, that she sells in her coffee shop, Ground.
But in book 6 in the Doyle Witch cozy mysteries, Fate, she’s brewing up more than hand scrub and happiness spells. Jayce is on the trail of a killer. And she must determine how the murderer of a local deputy is connected to a lodge of dark magicians intent on stealing a magical book, in…
Something wicked this way comes…
Witch Jayce Bonheim has spent the last four months waiting for a horde of dark magicians to come to town.
Now, they’ve arrived, embedded in a traveling circus.
And they’re bigger and badder than this ex-party girl could have imagined, wreaking havoc wherever they go.
But when a murder rocks her small town, Jayce must stop the chaos. Walking a tightrope between dark spells and past regrets, can Jayce stop a murderer and stop these magicians from transforming the world forever?
Start reading Fate, book 6 in The Witches of Doyle cozy mystery novels.
This novel is a full-length, witch cozy mystery featuring true-to-life spells in the back of the book, a trio of witchy sisters, and a dash of romance. Though Fate can be read as a standalone, it’s best read in series order. It’s rated PG-13 due to mild language and some romance.
Don’t forget to enter the two giveaways for the book or the entire series below!
Kirsten sends out original short stories of mystery and magic to her mailing list. If you’d like to get them delivered straight to your inbox, make sure to sign up for her newsletter at kirstenweiss.com
In New York City circa 2034, the city has been devastated by climate change. Coastal areas have been nearly leveled by massive storms. Refugees from low-lying areas have congregated in slums sporting their own money. On the morning of April 19, it is 114 in the shade. Down these mean streets, old-school detective Manning and his junior, and our narrator, female detective Dewey are looking for a massively strong and invisible killer of the 36 Righteous Men.
With two victims in NYC and two in Russia, the killer’s MO is the same. Hold the victim up with one hand by the neck strangling the victim. Toss the victim aside. Somehow cause a branding from the inside on the victim’s forehead. Not appear on any surveillance cameras while doing so. The branding mark is an LV, which is Hebrew for the 36 Righteous Men.
Part science fiction, part hard-boiled detective story, part Christian fiction and part paranormal tale, this book is a near-perfect example of the blending of multiple genres into a coherent and compelling tale. However, I enjoy all these genres on their own. If you only like one or two, the world-building details may just slow down the pace rather than be fascinating in their own right—or vice versa. The Christian paranormal aspects may feel unbelievable. Therefore, I would only recommend this book to people who enjoy all four genres. 4 stars!
What a fine movie this would make! The world could be shown rather than described speeding up the mystery’s pace. Someone, with more money than I have, should scoop up the movie rights quickly. I, for one, can’t wait!
Thanks to W.W. Norton & Company and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Here is a quick look at the paranormal cozy mysteries featuring Viola Valentine
A Ghost of a Chance
A Viola Valentine
Mystery Book 1
by Cherie Claire
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
From award-winning novelist Cherie Claire comes
a new paranormal mystery series.
They say there are blessings from Hurricane Katrina. For Viola Valentine of New
Orleans, it was losing her dead-end job and leaving behind a loveless marriage
and an overbearing family.
But the storm also blew open a psychic door. Now she sees ghosts who have died
As she enters her new career as a travel writer, solving mysteries that appear
with apparitions everywhere she goes, the one person she hopes to speak to — her
daughter who died of leukemia years before — continues to elude her.
Every day at dusk, in a small Louisiana town,
the dead emerge from Lorelei Lake. And travel writer Viola Valentine must use
her “gift” of seeing ghosts to rid this town of its apparitions. Viola
struggles not only with the task-at-hand but hopes that this evolving ability
she obtained after Hurricane Katrina will help her reach her beloved
Yet, the more Viola struggles to talk to her departed daughter, the more
frustrated she gets. Plus, it’s 2008, the height of the Great Recession, travel
jobs are hard to come by, and her suffocating family and ex-husband keep making
demands. She takes solace in a new love interest, one who teaches her how to
harness her anger.
In the end, Viola realizes that only love can solve her problems, from ridding
ghosts of lakeside towns to healing a broken heart.
Ghost Town, book two in the Viola Valentine Mystery Series by award-winning
author Cherie Claire.
Award-winning novelist Cherie Claire continues
her paranormal mystery series as travel writer Viola Valentine takes a trek
down the historic Natchez Trace of Mississippi. Traveling with her is an
adventurous heiress who’s been dead since 1860 and a living fellow travel
writer who’s not what he seems. In the end, it’s a showdown between good and
evil, and a bargain made with the devil at the crossroads may be Viola’s final
Book Three in the Viola Valentine Paranormal Mystery Series.
John Valentine left home for a birding
conference and never returned, his family chalking it up to the divorced
father’s mid-life crisis. But when a body is found on the old family homestead,
his daughter Viola must piece together the clues her father left behind. Along
for the ride are her witchy Aunt Mimi, her uptight lawyer sister Portia and her
sometimes ex-husband Thibault Boudreaux, otherwise known as TB. What they
discover on this crazy ghost trip through Texas will be much more than they
anticipated.Ghost Trippin’ continues the story of Viola Valentine, who changes her life
after Hurricane Katrina and follows her dream of being a travel writer. But the
storm also blew open a psychic door and now she sees ghosts who have died by
water. As she travels the South in her new career she must also solve mysteries
that appear with apparitions. But the one person she hopes to speak to — her
daughter who died of leukemia years before — continues to elude her. Or does
In 2005, Hurricane
Katrina uprooted Viola Valentine from her dead-end job and what she deemed
a loveless marriage. Four years later, she and her husband Thibault “TB”
Boudreaux are starting over on a Tennessee houseboat, she is following her dream
as a travel writer and TB finishing school at Smoky Mountain University.But the ghosts of the past continue to hound the couple, infiltrating negative
energy into their peaceful cove. With her family at stake, Vi must learn to
harness her supernatural powers, face her fears and fight the evil that
threatens to unravel them all.Book Five in the Viola Valentine Paranormal Mystery Series.
Cherie Claire grew up
in south Louisiana, with mud between her toes and a rabid love of Mardi Gras
parades. Born in New Orleans and now living in Cajun Country, she couldn’t help
but write about her unique, colorful state.
Cherie is the
award-winning author of several Cajun historical romances and The Cajun Embassy
series of contemporary romances. She’s a Holt Award finalist, a Romantic Times
Reviewer’s Choice Award finalist and received the Louisiana Press Women Book of
the Year. Her latest is a paranormal mystery series featuring ghost sleuth
Viola Valentine of New Orleans.
When Professor Will’s mother, Abigail, falls down her back steps and into a coma, he is forced to travel back to his small hometown in Before the Devil Fell.
The village that Will grew up in is full of secrets. Were Abigail’s friends from his childhood doing something more sinister than having a new-age’y “spirit circle”? What happened when he was five to destroy the family feeling of the town? Is there still something supernatural lurking there?
I have mixed feelings about Before the Devil Fell. On one hand, the mystery was good and I was surprised by the perpetrator. But on the other hand, I wanted more from the supernatural element. For horror, I want it to be balls-to-the-wall scary. This was just “creepy” in an atmospheric sort of way. Perhaps I read the book synopsis incorrectly but I was expecting more New England shenanigans. You know like witches or demons or something. Possibly that is because it is Halloween month. I think as long as you are not expecting that aspect of the book to shine, this would be a 4 star read for the mystery. However, for myself, I would rate it as 3.5 stars.
Thanks to Hanover Square Press, Harlequin Books, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Haunted House Ghost: Death At The Fall Festival (Braxton Campus Mysteries) by James J. Cudney
It’s Halloween and Professor Kellan is renovating his newly purchased rundown mansion in the Haunted House Ghost.
A current mystery and a historic one compete for Kellan and his potential girlfriend, Sheriff April’s attention. Between that, a Fall Festival, a ghost, home renovations, a psychic, and a skeleton, no wonder Kellan and April can’t even find the time to go out on a date!
Good thing there is a guide to Who’s Who in the front of the book. This book has the largest cast of any tale shorter than a 19th-century Russian novel. Luckily, you don’t need to memorize them all. The Haunted House Ghost quickly narrows down to a handful of suspects. Kudos to the author for making me second guess my thought on who was the murderer—multiple times right up to the reveal. Overall, an enjoyable cozy mystery. 4 stars!
Thanks to the author and Great Escapes Blog Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget about entering the giveaway shown below!
It’s Halloween, and excitement is brewing in Braxton to carve jack-o’-lanterns, go on haunted hayrides, and race through the spooky corn maze at the Fall Festival.
Despite the former occupant’s warnings, Kellan renovates and moves into a mysterious old house. When a ruthless ghost promises retribution, our fearless professor turns to the eccentric town historian and an eerie psychic to communicate with the apparition. Meanwhile, construction workers discover a fifty-year-old skeleton after breaking ground on the new Memorial Library wing.
While Kellan and April dance around the chemistry sparking between them, a suspicious accident occurs at the Fall Festival. Soon, Kellan discovers the true history and dastardly connections of the Grey family. But can he capture the elusive killer – and placate the revenge-seeking ghost.
About James J. Cudney
James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com
What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 900 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, there is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have segments where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.
The Shape of Night is an abrupt departure from this author’s usual police procedural. It’s an atmospheric gothic romantic suspense story with some modern twists thrown in.
Ava has a terrible guilt-driven secret. In addition, she is over a year past the publisher’s deadline on her latest cookbook. Hoping to escape her guilt, Ava rents a remote old house on the windswept Maine coast. The house is incredibly cheap because it is still undergoing renovation and the previous tenant left without giving notice.
Ava soon sees the ghost of the former owner of the house, 1800s Sea Captain Brodie. When he appears in her bedroom, they start a unique relationship involving Ava’s guilt and the Captain’s unusual method of helping her get over it. Will he really never hurt her in his house as he promised? Or is there something darker afoot?
The entire plot of the Shape of Night is unexpected. It is a slow-burning gothic suspense novel mixed with a modern amateur sleuth story. There are actually three mysteries involved. What is Ava’s secret? Who or what is Captain Brodie—a benevolent ghost or a vindictive demon? What caused the previous tenant of the house to run away one night never to return?
I thought that the atmospheric gothic feel of the novel was pitch-perfect. I had some issues with the mysteries. One was too easy to figure out. Another was wrapped up too quickly at the end of the book—though in an exciting way. The other was never clearly answered.
Surprisingly, since I am a mystery reader, I enjoyed the paranormal aspects of this novel the most. That part of the plot was engrossing making this book a compelling page-turner. However, the mysteries left me underwhelmed for the reasons I stated above. Because of that schism, it is hard to rate this book. However, since I love genre mash-ups, I’ll round up to 4 stars!
Thanks to Ballantine, Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
It’s December in Massachusetts in the latest adventure of Sid the animated skeleton where The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking in anticipation of Christmas morning.
When Bryon, teenager Madison’s Akita, finds a human femur, it is no surprise. After all, their family has an animated skeleton named Sid living in their attic. Her mother, Georgia, quickly agrees to go with Madison to give the bone back to Sid and apologize. However, when they talk to Sid, he quickly informs them that he isn’t missing a bone. Realizing the bone is from a stranger, they call the police. The skeleton’s identity leads the police to suspect one of Georgia’s fellow adjunct professors. Georgia decides to solve the crime with the help of Sid’s head.
It is a credit to the author that you don’t have a minute of doubt with any of the paranormal aspects of Sid’s very existence. An animated skeleton who help solves mysteries by hiding his head and a cell phone in Georgia’s Day of the Dead bucket bag? It sounds absurd but somehow works. I’ve read at least three of the six cozy mysteries in this series including the first two books but The Skeleton Stuffs a Stocking is fine as a standalone mystery. However, beware the genuine characters and laugh-out-loud humor of the series will draw you in quickly. You will soon be quietly stalking your library, bookstore, or Amazon account looking for the entire series. If you like cozy mysteries, you can’t miss this excellent book. 5 stars!
Thanks to Diversion Books and NetGalley for granting my wish for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
The Immortal Prudence Blackwood is a historical police procedural with a paranormal/fantasy twist.
Prudence Blackwood is a barren and abandoned twenty-six-year-old when she stumbles into a mysterious and ancient hall in 1785. After cutting her finger on the wall, Prudence dies. Two days later, she arises out of her grave and returns to her family home. Except for her ten-year-old niece, her family rejects her, calling her a demon. After learning she is an immortal, and not the only one, she vows to help her family and their descendants. When Jack the Ripper kills her last remaining descendant in 1888, Prudence decides her new mission is to kill serial killers beginning with Jack.
By 1947, Prudence has learned survival skills and killed at least two other killers. But a new serial killer is stalking Washington DC. When the junior detective on the case hears about Prudence, they work together to find the perpetrator.
I loved the strong female character of Prudence. However, she wasn’t in the book very much. Much more time was spent describing the real serial killers’ cases. I also want to know more about the other immortals and where their power comes from. Luckily, the book’s conclusion hints strongly at a future series. I will definitely read it when it is released. My rating for the Immortal Prudence Blackwood, mainly because of the loss of focus on Prudence, is 3 stars.
Thanks to BHC Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
“Miller Tavern has always had a reputation for being haunted. Very bad things happened here, homicidal crazy people…Serial killers before that was a thing.”—from The Seekers
Keri is a true crime writer hired to lend gravitas to a ghost hunter show called Truth Seekers. Carl, a young Hollywood A-lister, buys Miller Inn and Tavern. The tavern was the site of a brutal mass murder in 1926. Carl hopes the Truth Seekers will find evidence of ghosts to drive business to his inn. Instead, they find a brutally murdered FBI agent on a replica of the “torture table” in the inn’s basement.
The paranormal elements of the tale are used well to propel the plot forward. The romance between two of the characters along with their shared shock at their ability to see ghosts seems genuine. The history of Satanism and hexes was interesting too. My only complaint was my own fault. This is the 28th Krewe of Hunters novel but my first. I spent the first fifth of the book trying to keep the characters straight. The author appears to know this might become an issue by including a Cast of Characters at the beginning. However, many people were cast as walk-ons whose role didn’t warrant my memorizing their name and function. If I had read at least some of the previous entries in the series, this may not have been a problem.
If you like an atmospheric ghost story with some history, a small romance, and a slug of mystery, you will enjoy The Seekers. 4 stars!
Thanks to Harlequin, Mira, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
It seems like the Ghost of Hollow House may have been Agatha Christie as this tale fits right in her wheelhouse.
In Victorian England, Mina uncovers fraudulent mediums. She also writes fictional mysteries that include spiritual elements. When she is asked to uncover the reason for the haunting of a newly married friend’s mansion, she is skeptical. But when she sees a mysterious lady in white in the window when first arriving at Hollow House, she becomes intrigued. Perhaps this haunting will bring her real evidence from the other side.
Mina is a great character. Her ability to press past her disabilities and the oppression of females prevalent in Victorian times is empowering.
The mystery was challenging as well. Though I didn’t figure out whodunit or why until after the intrepid Mina, I clearly saw the clues in hindsight.
Ghost of Hollow House did resemble Agatha Christie’s mysteries in both its complexity and portrayal of English village life. I would have liked slightly more backstory for the main characters. I’ll be looking for the previous three books in this series, as well as any future entries, when I feel like reading a jolly good mystery. 4 stars!
Thanks to Sapere Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
The Invited is a ghost story of multigenerational family drama rather the mystery I expected.
Helen and Nate decide to quit their teaching jobs and move to rural Vermont. They buy a large parcel of land and begin building their house. The land includes a bog where a suspected witch, Hattie, was hanged ninety-one years earlier. Hattie had told her twelve year old daughter, Jane, to hide in their house’s root cellar until she came back, which now she would never do.
Fourteen year old Olive lives next to Nate and Helen. Ostracized by the town, she wants the new neighbors to go back to the city. Olive is also haunted by her mother’s disappearance one year earlier.
The Invited has many plot threads that are conveniently, maybe too conveniently, wrapped up by the end of the book. While there are mysteries here, the book is really a ghost story that includes many characters that have precognition. If you are in the mood for an atmospheric ghost story, this book is a good choice. However, the mystery’s solution is easily guessed. 3 stars.
Thanks to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Little Darlings is an unusual mix of dark fairy tale and thriller. It is a enthralling ride down a rabbit hole where anything is possible.
In olden days, people believed that witches took newborn babies. Sometimes they exchanged them for demons who looked exactly the same as the newborns, but behaved differently. The witches particularly liked twins.
Lauren has twin boys that only she can tell apart. While still recovering from the birth, Lauren gets a visit from an old woman. The crone wants to trade for one of the newborn. If Lauren doesn’t agree, she threatens to take them both. When Lauren calls the police, they don’t believe her. Only one Sergeant, who has her own issues with babies, believes her enough to investigate. When Lauren sees the witch hiding across the street from her house, but no one else sees her, even Lauren begins to question her sanity.
Little Darlings is an atmospheric read. Multiple times I changed my mind from believing to disbelieving Lauren and vice versa. If you want a bit of paranormal horror mixed into your thriller, this book is a great choice. 4 stars!
Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Organized by state, Chasing American Monsters is a fine introduction to monsters found next door and across the United States.
With more than 250 monsters listed, this book is sure to have something to interest every monster fan. I didn’t know that the state I live in, California, has both evil gnomes and giant (six and a half feet long) cockroaches so expect some surprises.
While I liked the brief stories about the monsters, I didn’t see the value of the state overviews. Do I really need to know which state was the last to join the union or has the largest population? Also, I wish there were drawings of each monster rather than just one per state. Overall, Chasing American Monsters delivers on its promise to provide a brief overview of the most famous or unusual monsters in each state. However, fans of particular monsters will want to pick up more detailed books. 3 stars!
Thanks to Llewellyn Publications and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Miraculum is a carnival with a big top, a midway, and freak show in 1922. It is also the setting for a battle of good against evil.
After the suicide of the carnival’s chicken biting geek, a mysterious well-dressed man applies for the job. Despite a lack of experience, he is hired for the job. Ruby, the daughter of the owner of the Miraculum, is a heavily tattooed snake charmer. As soon as she sees the new geek, Daniel, she feels something is off about him. As more tragedy befalls the troupe, Ruby tries to discover if Daniel is behind them.
Miraculum is a great gothic tale of good fighting evil in the picturesque 1920s carnival setting. There is a substantial paranormal aspect to the tale and it isn’t really a mystery or thriller. However, I enjoy magical realism so I relished it. It appears to be a beginning of a series so I am looking forward to another installment of Ruby and Daniel’s story.
This book is an excellent choice for fans of Neil Gaiman. 4 stars!
Thanks to Polis Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Charley Davidson, the Grim Reaper, and her husband, Reyes, former demon and son of Satan, have one more hellish situation to fix in Summoned to Thirteenth Grave.
Charley is finally released from her purgatory from the last book. While she was gone, a new hell dimension has opened in Albuquerque. A flu from within is turning people homocidal and eventually suicidal. And the hell dimension is getting larger. To say more will spoil the surprises.
I hate when book series end. However, this is a great conclusion to a great series. The “army” is all here: Uncle Bob, Cookie, Quentin, Donovan, Osh plus plenty more. The story is an action-packed corker of a finale.
If you have read this series before, even just one book, you have to read Summoned to Thirteenth Grave. I’m sure there will be a spin-off so we may see Charley and Reyes again. 5 stars!
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.