Reading Fanatic ReviewsAll Paranormal Mystery Reviews
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Thalia, Smashwords, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Bol.de
Still Not Vibin’
I love a good paranormal mystery, so I was intrigued when three books by this author showed up on my favorite book review site. Unfortunately, I have just never been able to get into them, and I have given this author three tries now. (I do always give authors two or three chances before I give up.) I love that Marie has the ability to communicate with spirits who have not yet moved on and uses that to figure out their murders (if that is the case). But something in the writing style always turns me off in these books. For one thing, the dialogue doesn’t feel quite natural to me, and in places, there is a lot of conversation. I am almost always put off, too, by the level of profanity in the books, usually said or thought by the ghosts. Cursing is just a significant turnoff for me in any book unless it is used for characterization. The mystery in this particular book actually did have some interest as it tied in different aspects of Marie’s present and past. But, again, because of the writing issues above and others that I have not detailed, I still couldn’t get into this book.
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo (Chapters), and Bol.de
Heavy on the Cozy, Light on the Mystery
This is the second book in the Manitoba Tea and Tarot series, and the second book that I have read in it. I will admit that I love the concept of this series because tea and tarot are two of my favorite things! I would love to frequent that little shop. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book, so I was looking forward to the next. The series revolves around three sisters who have magical powers, each different. Charm, the heroine in this book, is only just coming to understand and work with what she can do. She has an interest in the new Mountie, but a gorgeous friend of his family has shown up, making Charm a little jealous. A film crew comes to town, and their accountant turns up dead. Other issues come up as well, and someone close to Charm is one of the suspects, leading her to want to investigate to clear their name.
As in the first book, the characters and the relationships between them are a delight. The paranormal aspect is fun. Unfortunately, as can happen in cozy mysteries, the mysteries themselves seemed to take a back seat to the quirky characterization and magical worldbuilding. For instance, the dead body wasn’t found until about the 21% mark. As that is the inciting incident for a murder mystery, not a lot of room was left for the mystery to be fully explored. This is already a short book, so not much space is given to the mystery. The other “mystery” shows up quite a bit later. All in all, I like the world and the characters that the author has created; I just wish that the mystery itself was more emphasized.
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Mondadori, and Angus & Robertson
The First Books of the Series
I was a latecomer to the Magic and Mystery series, so I was delighted to be able to pick up the first three books in the series as a single box set. Zoe is a witch who has only just coming to realize the extent of her powers, and I liked watching her evolution. It is sure a bumpy ride for her. I enjoyed seeing, too, more of the backstory and interactions between her and the other characters. These books are relatively light and are easy reads. The author does a good job setting up a paranormal world, make it seem completely logical that magic is an everyday happenstance because, in the world of the books, it is. So the author has managed to make the paranormal aspect seem integral and not fantastical, which I don’t think is always an easy thing to do. Well balanced, nice set of books.
Book Falls Short
I generally enjoy mysteries and books that have anything to do with the paranormal or supernatural, so I thought that this book would be a natural fit for me. However, this particular novel didn’t work for me. I’m having a hard time pulling together my thoughts about it. Several things just didn’t ring right with me, but I’m having a hard time putting my finger on precisely what I’m not liking here. One of the things I can say for sure is that I didn’t like the profanity in the book; I just don’t think profanity is necessary except to show character and only in very limited places (genres). I felt like the characterization was weak for all the major players in the book. Marie, a viewpoint character, could have been interesting given all that she had to deal with but she was just lacking in too many ways; I didn’t feel like her head was an interesting place to be in. The main viewpoint character has to have solid characterization to be believable, relatable, and someone that we want to follow, and that just wasn’t here for me. I also felt like the mystery element of the story was barely there; for a book called a mystery, there needs to be more mystery! Like the other characters, I didn’t find the villains particularly well drawn either. I understand that this is the author’s first book, and perhaps she will improve the more she practices writing.
Not Easy to Keep Mum
I have read every book in this series about Zoey and the zany characters at the paranormal retirement community where she works. Something in Zoey’s past is coming back to haunt her, literally and figuratively! I absolutely love the way this series mixes Zoey’s life with those of her residents. The community members add such color. In this book, Zoey is facing parental issues. Her crew with her retirement community has her back, but oh, my! I love that the magical aspect of these books is written with such humor. If you’ve read and enjoyed the other books in this series, you will thoroughly enjoy this latest addition.
Paranormal Christmas a la Groundhog Day… Plus!
The first part of this book feels like a paranormal holiday version of Groundhog Day. Christmas day keeps repeating over and over with slight variations. Only one person seems to be aware of the time slip. I quite enjoyed this author’s writing style. She uses active verbs and deep point of view that makes you feel like you are living the story along with Noelle as she tries to figure everything out. There is a little bit of an information dump at the beginning, including the rather hackneyed use of a window so that a first-person narrator can describe herself, but this is written better than most, so I can forgive it. I loved following the twists and turns of the story. A fun and engaging read.
Didn’t Work for Me
I will admit that I am turned off right away when a book starts with an information dump, and this book had quite a lengthy one. I do work with some authors on their books, and I sometimes recommended they just toss out the first chapter or two and get to the story! This book might have benefited from such an action. I thought the dialog sounded stilted, not like the way people talk. As such, I had a hard time getting into and sticking with the story. I didn’t really find the characters engaging, and I will be passing on the rest of the series.
Available at Amazon (currently paperback only; eBook Jan. 14, 2020), Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Indigo (Chapters)
Nice Paranormal Aspects; Other Elements Off
I am not quite sure what to make of this book. There are elements of it that I enjoyed, but there were definitely some issues with it. I enjoyed the paranormal aspect and the idea that such a paranormal world existed was unknown to the heroine at the book start, but I didn’t feel like the MacGuffin, the key, was explained well enough so that the reader would know why it was so important to everyone. We weren’t really given much background about it to understand its significance nor were we told what exactly it did. I thought that the two main characters had grating personalities, which sometimes made them annoying to read about. I also thought the heroine acted unprofessionally and unethically at times. The opening jungle sequence was a good start to the story, but then the pacing slowed down to a crawl when the heroine returned to the United States; luckily, it did pick up again towards the middle of the book. Some of these flaws may be overlooked when you’re reading because the author actually has a good writing style. It is engaging, especially in the action parts, and easy to read. But then only when you start thinking about the story do its flaws truly become apparent.
More Slice of Pre Wedding Life Than Mystery
I have read several of the mysteries in this series, and I find them to be humorous and warm paranormal cozies. While I thoroughly enjoyed the book just as a reader, I felt that this installment was a little light on the mystery aspect. It starts a month before the wedding of Liam and Moira. For those of you who are not familiar with the series, Moira is the one from whose perspective we see the stories unfold. To be honest, this felt more like a bit of a slice-of-life moment before the big day. Yes, there was an interesting little side arc about sirens, but I felt like it was more about family dinners and conversations with friends about the upcoming wedding and the couple’s future. I did find the theme about destiny to be interesting, which did elevate this story to be somewhat more than just that slice of life just mentioned. I don’t want to give anything away, but I think the prologue just should have been the last chapter or two. It wasn’t a true prologue. All in all, not the best of this series, but if you’ve already read other books in it, you will most likely enjoy the run-up the big fated marriage.
Regency… and Zombies
Mercy, what a completely different read! Think Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies with a little bit of suspense, romance, and gothic and steampunk sensibilities. The women of high-society Britain have suffered from a nasty, zombie-making affliction since the close of the Napoleonic Wars; some nasty Frenchmen created an expensive face powder that made this happen. I liked the heroine; she is a strong and smart woman in an era when that is not appreciated. The hero feels relatively weak in comparison, but he is still a fascinating character to watch. I didn’t like the information dump at the start of the book. It’s a long enough novel that the author could have started with a nice impactful action scene and dribbled in the backstory of the world little by little. Since this is essentially a zombie novel, at times it gets a little too gory for me. I like the author’s writing style, which was at times quite humorous and quite fitting for the type of book. Even though I am not one who particularly enjoys zombie literature or movies, I found this to be a fun read.