Reading Fanatic Reviews

Paranormal Mysteries

Un-Familiar Magic by Belinda White

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Un-Familiar Magic*

Magic Under Wraps

I am so enjoying this paranormal cozy mystery series. It is definitely one that should be read in order. Amie is a very powerful witch even if she doesn’t have control of her powers yet. The power is dependent on the type of witch she is. In fact, her kind of witch is so powerful that if the council found out, they would force her to live in a box, so to speak, that would drain her powers, which they could then use for their own benefit. The choice is either to live in this box or be killed. So Amie and her family do not want the council to find out about her powers. Those who care about her are trying to teach her how to control her magic but on the down low. Murders, unfortunately, keep happening in this small town, and Amie wants to help. But, of course, if she uses her powers, the council will find out. Will she be able to help without bringing harm to herself?

I like that the author has created a delightful deep point of view for this series. Being in Amie’s head is like watching a friend muse about her day. It feels intimate and personal. I don’t think that is easy to achieve, especially in a paranormal cozy mystery. I look forward to the next book in the series.

Pumpkin Patch Mystery by Lucy May

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Pumpkin Patch Mystery*

Another Excellent Visit to Charm Cove

I don’t know how many books I have read in Lucy May’s Charm Cove series, but I have found every one of them a delight. I love seeing a new book in the series pop up at my favorite book review site. No matter how busy I am, I have to pick it up. One of the things that I appreciated about this story was that the murder happened right at the beginning, before the 10% mark. It is definitely a danger with cozy mysteries, delaying the murderer or the crime and filling much of the first part of the book with a look at the quirky community that cozy mysteries always have. I have seen the murder take place as late as almost to 50% mark, though that is extreme. But having such a crucial moment in a murder mystery take place so late doesn’t allow time for the mystery to develop. But that doesn’t happen here. We’re two months past the Wicked-Good wedding, and the newlyweds are embroiled in the murder because the two girls that they had taken to a pumpkin patch found the dead body. So the whole gang gets involved in this murder, though it is apparently not magical in nature. The book had some good twists and turns, which I love in a mystery. The cozy part was not ignored either, and I enjoy watching the interactions of the Charm Cove residents. I like that the author is able to write description in such a way that she places you there in the scenes, but it doesn’t seem like it is too much. Another enjoyable trip to Charm Cove.

Alexandra’s Riddle by Elisa Keyston

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Alexandra's Riddle*

Several Riddles in Riddle

I live in Oregon, so I am always drawn to any fictional books that take place in my state. I love that the author actually chose a real town, Riddle, though it has been somewhat fictionalized for the story. I live just a couple counties away, so I loved hearing some somewhat local references in the book. This novel has a lot going for it: romance, mystery, and the paranormal (including the fae and brownies) as well as themes about responsibilities to self vs. others and keeping small-town life as it should be. The author actually did an excellent job of making the paranormal aspect seem just as much a part of the fabric of life in the area as the “real” human aspect. That’s not easy to do, I think. I liked the main character as well as the quirky people who made up the community. A thoroughly enjoyable book. If you like paranormal stories with a touch of romance in a fair amount of mystery, you may very well enjoy this book.

Stalking the Dead by E. C. Bell

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Thalia, Smashwords, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Bol.de

Stalking the Dead*

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.

Movies, Moonlight, and Magic by January Bain

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo (Chapters), and Bol.de

Movies, Moonlight, and Magic*

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.

Magic and Mystery Box Set by Lily Webb

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Mondadori, and Angus & Robertson

Magic and Mystery Box Set*

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.

Seeing the Light by E. C. Bell

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Available at Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Scribd, Mondadori, and Angus & Robertson

Seeing the Light*

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.

Mummy Issues by Paula Lester

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Mummy Issues*

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.

Witch Myth Christmas by Alexandria Clarke

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Witch Myth Christmas*

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.

A Murder in Hope’s Crossing by Brooke Shelby

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A Murder in Hope's Crossing*

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.

Disclosure

The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or directly from the author.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

The Amazon book links on this site are affiliate links, which means I make a tiny percentage if you choose to buy a book linked from this site.

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