Category Archives: Paranormal

The Gargoyle’s Secret (Stonehaven Mysteries, #1) by Linn Chapel

The Gargoyle’s Secret is a solid cozy mystery with a unique paranormal angle to it.

When her famed photojournalist father had to go into the hospital, Laurel Bachmann, a rising star who apprenticed at her father’s feet, steps in to fulfill his latest assignment to interview the renowned stonemason, Marc Chevalier, and photograph his historic estate, Stonehaven, a mystery-shrouded manor house perched on a rocky outcrop near Bar Harbour on the coast of Maine. She is informed immediately upon arrival that the piece she’s to do was encouraged by Marc’s mother, Serena, and he wants no part of it. But with her father’s imminent retirement on the line and his editor clamoring for a juicy human interest angle to the story, Laurel decides to tough it out with the secretive Mr. Chevalier, hoping to develop something suitable without indulging in rumors, gossip, or scandal, a practice she’s avoided her entire career. However, the manor and Marc’s family both have a mysterious past. Over 100 years ago, a visiting millionaire art collector had disappeared from Stonehaven, never to be seen again, and when Laurel stumbles across evidence that the man never left the island alive, her story and stay at the estate take a dark turn.

The Gargoyle’s Secret is the entertaining first book in a new paranormal, cozy mystery series, the Stonehaven Mysteries, by author Linn Chapel. The protagonist, Laurel Bachmann, is genuinely likable, smart, and a talented artist. She felt like a real person. Her foil, Marc Chevalier, is too handsome for Laurel’s own good. In addition, he’s mysterious and paranormally-talented besides being a successful stonemason with a burgeoning business restoring old and valuable pieces of sculpture and statuary. The mystery is pretty straightforward, a person unknown is digging around and searching for something at the manor, and with few people on the remote estate, suspects are limited. The reader can easily keep the players straight and try to figure out who the culprit is.

There is some confusion toward the end of Laurel’s stay as to continuity: in one chapter, we go from morning to afternoon, but then it’s morning still, and there’s seems to be one too many nights occurring in the timeline. I was also confused over what happened to the missing millionaire. I won’t say more because it would reveal too much for a potential reader. But overlooking these details, it was still a good, entertaining reading experience.

I recommend THE GARGOYLE’S SECRET to readers that enjoy a cozy mystery with a paranormal overlay. It is suitable for readers of all ages.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from BookSirens.

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Night of the Living Well-Read (Bookish Adventures in Witch-Lit, #4) by Rachael Stapleton

The witchy book club from Bohemian Lake is off again on its next Gas Lamp Literary Tour, and they find themselves ensconced in a castle in the mountains of Romania. The book they’re reading? Bram Stoker’s Dracula, of course! The remaining members of the book club are all back with Nelle Story leading the troop and Sera Popescu, her assistant, providing the on-the-ground support as usual. This trip, however, Sera is not wholly on her own. Her relationship with hunky ghost whisperer, Daemon Wraith, has progressed nicely since the trip to Europe, and he is along as back up.

The castle and its owner, Vladimir Elder, are all the group could ask for as far as atmosphere and hospitality. Nelle’s niece, Gabriela (Rhiannon’s sister), who lives on-site, has made arrangements with the resident Sanguinarine nest (a group of humans who crave and consume blood) for the group to observe one of their initiation ceremonies. But when someone tries to kill Vlad, the head of the nest, during the service, Sera begins her search for answers.

Sadly, Night of the Living Well-Read is the final book in the Bohemian Lake spin-off series, Bookish Adventures in Witch-Lit, but it proved to be an exciting and spectacular send-off! There have been so many secrets kept and uncovered during this entire storyline, but I believe author Rachael Stapleton has tied up all the loose ends in grand style. If you’ve enjoyed this spin-off series or the Bohemian Lake series in general. This is a MUST-READ for all the reveals!

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving a free copy.

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Hero Bear: Small Town Romance (Fate Valley Mysteries, #1) by Scarlett Grove

Grizzly bear shifter Sunshine Blackthorn arrived in Fate Valley, Missouri, before Christmas to be the maid of honor at the wedding of her good friend from school, Melody Banks. Like Sunshine, Melody is also a shifter, a cougar, and she had discovered her fated mate, a rare shifter-human match, through the matching program, Mate.com. The first order of business is for a memorable bachelorette party, and after a fun night of dancing and not a few drinks, Melody and the other bridesmaids talk Sunshine into signing up on the site to find her own match.

Former Marine, Harrison Cole, came to Fate Valley after his enlistment was complete to work as a firefighter. But after a close call at a fire, he begins to think that maybe there should be more to his life than just service to the community. Also a grizzly bear shifter, he, too, signs up to see if Mate.com can give him a hand in finding his fated mate.

The day of the wedding is gorgeous, but during the ceremony, a fire suspiciously breaks out in the Fate Rock Chapel. Rather than letting it ruin the whole event, though, the wedding is quickly moved to the wine cellar adjacent to the chapel where the reception was to be held. Harrison is one of the responding firefighters, and he and Sunshine are drawn to each other by their grizzly bear instincts over the surrounding chaos. Their realization that they are fated mates in seconded when the Mate.com program matches them up as well. They immediately work to getting to know each other better while they search for the chapel arsonist among the wedding guests, not all of whom are precisely ecstatic about the human groom wedding the shifter bride.

Hero Bear has a nice mystery and investigation going on, but the focus of the story is really the romance of the two grizzly shifters getting together. This is apparently a spin-off story from an earlier series, and although it can be read on its own, I have the feeling it would have been more enjoyable if I’d read the previous series beforehand. There were a few references and cameo appearances from characters from these books. Alert: the book does contain explicit sex scenes.

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Broomsticks & Burials (Magic & Mystery, #1) by Lily Webb

Unemployed journalist, Zoe Clarke, had almost given up on ever finding another newspaper job when, out of the blue, the editor of the Moon Grove Messenger, Mitch Harris, phoned and hired her sight unseen. Accepting, she caught the bus to her new town as instructed only to discover on arrival that Moon Grove was a town accessible only to witches, warlocks, vampires, and other supernatural beings. Unknown to Zoe, as her parents had been killed in a car accident when she was a small child, her heritage included witches. And that was not the only surprise greeting her. It turns out, her boss is a werewolf, her new roommate is a fairy, and the reporter she’s replacing was murdered while following a story!

Broomsticks & Burials is the first book in the Magic & Mystery series by author Lily Webb, and it is an impressive start. The characters are delightful, the town of Moon Grove charming, and the plot ticks along like a time bomb. This was a story I didn’t want to put down!

Zoe is a determined and capable young woman from the start. She gets the job done and still has the time and energy to pursue the forbidden story her predecessor was working. Her new roommate, Flora, is a beautiful fairy with a kind heart and a game spirit. I enjoyed their interactions a lot.

Zoe takes her cat, Luna, with her to her new beginning in Moon Grove, and I loved that once they were in town, Luna begins to talk. According to Luna, she was cursed to live life as a cat, and I look forward to finding out about that in the future.

Besides a compelling mystery story with scary vampires and a hard-nosed werewolf police chief and Zoe learning about her witchy powers, I liked the developing relationship with the local Channel 666 news anchor, shifter Beau Duncan. He shifts into a golden retriever, and it was fun seeing that animal’s characteristics represented when he was in his human form.

With its quaint shops and their appropriately supernatural names and offerings, Moon Grove is a charming town to be hidden away out of mortal sight. But I liked that it experiences its own issues with politics and governance like any other small town around.

In all, the story was a fun introduction to the series and an exciting murder mystery. I highly recommend it to cozy mystery readers that enjoy magical and paranormal elements in their stories.

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Home Sweet Witch (Lily Sweet Mysteries, #1) by Bettina M. Johnson

Lily Sweet has lived a difficult life, always on the move from place to place because her mother was afraid “they” would find them. She never could get who “they” were out of her emotionally-distant mother and even broaching the subject would upset her. All alone now, her mother gone after a two year long battle with cancer, Lily is about to find out.

But upon her death, her mother left Lily a surprise legacy. After having done without, living from meager paycheck to paycheck, and hiding in the shadows of rural upstate New York for years, Lily is floored when an attorney approaches her at her mother’s memorial service with a box of mementos and cryptic instructions regarding a home, money, and the existence of family members somewhere in Georgia. All Lily has to do is sneak into the town without any of the relatives knowing she’s there, scope out the place, and find further instructions from her mother hidden somewhere in the house.

Thinking this is doable, Lily sets out in her ancient Ford pickup (named George) for Sweet Briar, Georgia. A budding sculptor, she’s delighted to learn that her destination is an artsy, crafty, tourist town, and has hopes that she can even find a studio to create ‘found art,’ and settle down.  Things look even better when she hits the area and meets some of the local guys who are friendly, welcoming, and particularly good-looking. But when she is immediately caught making her first ‘secret’ visit to her new house and unearths the skeleton of a young woman under the front porch floorboards, things don’t feel quite so charming any longer. And when the cute guys try to convince her that they and she are actually witches, Lily wonders what kind of place she’s come home to.

What a fun, entertaining start to this new witchy mystery series! Lily is smart and snarky and funny. I especially liked her great-grandmother, Adriana, and their snappy exchanges. Lily and Adriana are very alike even though they are generations apart and have been separated for most of Lily’s life. I look forward to more interaction between the two in future books, especially as Lily begins to come to grips with her new-found witchy powers.

I liked that the romantic plotline is still at the beginning stages. Lily doesn’t just jump at the first pretty face. (There are choices!) And there is tension from her not knowing who she can trust and who has hidden motives or agendas. This was entertaining in this book, and I think it will be fun to see where this goes in future ones.

The town of Sweet Briar is full of surprises and engaging characters, and it is depicted as Small Town USA. Everyone knows everyone else, their background, and most of their secrets. And there are a lot of secrets to tease out in this story and exciting possibilities for love interests as well.  All the mysteries that arise are not resolved in this book, leaving room for future novels in the series.

I recommend this book for cozy mystery readers that enjoy elements of magic, witches, and witchcraft in their stories.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.

See my original review on Reedsy Discovery!

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Black Cats, Corpses, and The Pumpkin Pantry (Haunted House Flippers, #5) by Rachael Stapleton

When Spirited Construction is engaged to renovate Sleepy Hollow Manor for Bronson Van Tassell in preparation for hosting the annual Bohemian Lake Halloween festivities, Junie and Jack Young look forward to sprucing up the historic 17th-century Dutch farmhouse. And, although the renovation proved simple enough, weird things begin to happen right away. Not only does Junie encounter an unusually strong female ghost at the manor, but also the spirit of a long-dead Hessian soldier from the American Revolutionary War still roams the grounds of the manor farm on his ghostly, black stallion in search of his missing head. It is rumored that catching sight of this frightening apparition foretells tragedy for the unlucky viewer. In addition, there is a mysterious feud going on between Bronson and two of his neighbors, all having to do with a past Halloween event when Bronson’s daughter had a terrible horseback riding accident, and a neighbor’s son disappeared.

When Bronson is startled into a mini-stroke by the appearance of the Headless Horseman and Junie is confronted by a burglar while alone at the manor, she takes matters into her own hands to figure out what’s going on and get it to stop.

Black Cats, Corpses, and The Pumpkin Pantry is book five and the final entry in the Haunted House Flippers storyline of the larger Bohemian Lake series, and author Rachael Stapleton really has Junie and Jack exiting center stage in grand style. Bohemian Lake is a well-developed little place, and the author states in the endnote, that Jack and Junie will still be around and make appearances in forthcoming series’ books, much like other characters from subplots appeared in this one: Eve Banter, Nelle Storey, Mallory Vianu, to name a few. Even the Mabels and the Victorian Ladies Club stopped in for a visit in this book.

This final episode starring the Youngs though, is full of action – continuous and non-stop. Maybe more than in any of the previous books, too, we get a good look into Jack and Junie’s life together, and it is good. They really have grown as a couple since their very first adventure.

And, like some of the other Bohemian Lake novels, this one looks into a classic story. It features the elements of Washington Irving’s famous tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (a particular pleasure for me as my hometown is named after Irving and celebrates his legacy with a variety of annual events.) The Bohemian Lake version of what happened to the characters of Sleepy Hollow fame is well done and complex. The mysteries are solid, and the resolution surprising but plausible. All in all, the combination of familiar characters, the riff on the old classic tale, and the Halloween setting make for an entertaining story.

I recommend that readers start with the first book in this series and continue reading in order of publication, but this one just might be able to stand on its own and still deliver the goods. However, if paranormal cozies are your thing, do yourself a favor and read the whole series from start to finish; they are certainly worth it.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving a free copy.

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Melkor & Purity 2 (Melkor & Purity, #2) by Kim Faulks

Melkor & Purity 2

Picking up where the first book left off, we get a taste of the training the hunter, Alma, is giving to Purity. Both are working long and hard, but Purity is struggling somewhat with using the portals until suddenly it just clicks for her. She and Melkor are teamed up and introduced to Redemption, an Unseelie warrior, and their first order of business is to help find the mother of one of Purity’s fellow students from her high school.

Jesse is one of the high school bullies from book one, and he begs Purity and Melkor for help in rescuing his mother, who had been taken by one of the Soulless, an action that none of the hunters had ever heard of them doing before; they grab and kill only. In tracing the mother’s movements on the day of her disappearance, Purity and Melkor discover she is peripherally involved in the theft of the keys of Hell.

This story just keeps getting better and better. Purity, on her own, is beginning to show some depths to her character that just weren’t visible when with her family. She and Melkor are both growing into a more mature relationship with each other as well, and this developing storyline provides much of the entertainment, the smiles and laughs I had while reading. I enjoyed how each experienced some nervous anxiety over their close proximity to each other, the worry over there only being one bed in the apartment, Melkor’s fumbling with how to approach Purity during their brief hiatus before going out to find Jesse’s mother and the keys. And yet, they still had some less than adult moments as in the car race with Jesse back to the apartment. The voice of the unknown Unseelie in Purity’s mind and the appearance of Unblessed were unsettling and an excellent addition to the story.

I listened to the Audible audio edition of this book read by Heather Murdoch for HotGhost Productions so much that I will be looking for more books she has narrated. She has a great voice and a range and talent to distinguish a wide range of characters, both male and female.

I highly recommend this series as a whole. Book 2 does not stand alone. I think young adult readers and readers that like paranormal romance with younger protagonists would enjoy these the most.

I look forward to the upcoming publication of Book 3.

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Melkor & Purity (Melkor & Purity, #1) by Kim Faulks

Melkor 1

One year, Purity Jane Anderson sent her Christmas wish letter to Satan. She wanted a puppy. Lucifer gave her a hellhound.

I found this, the first book in the Melkor & Purity series, to be very entertaining, smart, and creative. Although presenting a vision of Hell similar to that described by Dante, we meet a Lucifer he certainly never envisioned – he almost seems like a pretty decent guy. In fact, the story really begins when he tries to fulfill Purity Jane Anderson’s Christmas wish for a puppy but, as he sees something intriguing in the young girl, he hooks her up with a hellhound of approximately the same age level.

Purity and Melkor grow up together as friends with frequent play dates and I thought the characterizations of the two leads when children very amusing. Purity is a lively, mischievous child, a real handful for her very traditional parents, and Eric is the bratty little brother we all grew up with.

I liked how the author developed their characters as they aged. They expressed the same kind of moodiness, angst, and withdrawal from their families to become independent units pretty much the same as most teens display. Bullied at school for being overweight, Purity has lost some of her earlier sass and is burdened with low self-esteem. And when high school graduation arrives and their friendship has grown to more, both struggle with communicating their desire to leap friendship to love.

But there is more to their story, Purity is fated to become a hunter and Melkor is a hellhound and both are meant to protect, to stand between the horrors of Hell and this world. I look forward to reading more about Purity’s training to take up her destiny and Melkor taking his place in Lucifer’s hierarchy in the next books.

The narrator for the Audible edition of this book is Heather Murdock with Hot Ghost Productions and I thought she did a competent job giving voices to the various characters in the story with only a few mispronunciation.

I recommend this book to readers that enjoy paranormal, coming-of-age stories.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving a free copy.

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Coven of Secrets (The Bayshore Witch Legacy, #1) by C.J. Beaumont

Coven of Secrets

At 17, Roxanne Cole had been a very troubled, young witch headed down a path of darkness and destruction when her beloved Granny had pulled her back from the brink of death at her own hands. Seven years later, she is still recovering but has, pretty much, been getting her life together, making a living as a legal transcriptionist, when Granny passes away. Granny had been the high priestess of the Bayshore Witches Coven and by rights and responsibility, Roxanne should have stepped up to replace her. However, because of her earlier experiences, Roxanne had completely renounced magic and her place in the Coven, and Olivia, a distant relation from another bloodline, had taken on the role. Roxanne is the guardian of her younger sister, Kathryn, a teenager who is also grieving the loss of their grandmother and, as a result, has become quite difficult to manage.

One day, Roxy catches the local television news and is shocked to see Kat being interviewed as the planner and organizer of Bayshore’s first-ever Witch Festival. Kat (who’s skipped school) and several other young witches, too young to be initiated into the Coven, have outed the Coven and announced to the world that witches and witchcraft really exist. As she waits for Kat to get home and explain herself, Roxy discovers that her younger sister may be going down the same dark path she had traveled so many years before.

The sisters’ confrontation goes off the rails right away. Kat is an angry, young woman and has been rebelling against the old ways and the Coven on social media and is disgusted with Roxy’s decision to leave magic behind. Soon Olivia arrives and to de-escalate the tension between the two sisters, convinces Roxy to let Kat come and stay with her and her daughter, Darlene’s, family. (Darlene’s daughter, Sylvia, is Kat’s best friend.) Roxy reluctantly agrees and the following morning she receives a call from Darlene that Kat disappeared during the night leaving behind her cellphone and other possessions.

Frantically, Roxy searches for the missing teenager, and when she gets nowhere on her own, she has no choice but to accept the help of Ray Hammond, an old nemesis from high school. A former high school athletic stand out, pretty boy, and one of the “cool kids,” back in the day his buddies and their girlfriends had unmercifully bullied Roxy and been the source of much of her younger self’s anguish. But Ray was now a successful private investigator in town and may be able to get information and cooperation out of the Coven members that they have denied Roxy who they feel betrayed and turned her back on them.

But the case does not come to a swift conclusion as Kat’s whereabouts and well-being remains unknown and more witches, including the high priestess, Olivia, disappear. And when some of the missing witches are found murdered, Ray and Roxy know Kat isn’t just a disgruntled runaway but in the worst kind of danger.

Coven of Secrets is tension-filled from the first sentence, and warning, it starts out with a suicide attempt. I was drawn into Roxy’s world immediately and wanted her to be all right, succeed, and overcome the problems she was facing. Her younger sister seemed to be reacting pretty much as teens do but she is a mystery yet to be revealed. The chemistry between Roxy and Ray, although immediately apparent to the reader, evolves slowly as the two work through the search for the missing witches.

The author has created a great hometown in Bayshore and a good backstory creating the existing conflict between Ray and Roxy which plays into her mindset from the very beginning of the book. The history and hierarchy of the Coven are solid, easy to understand, and interesting. I anxiously await the next book in this new series. I recommend this book for readers that enjoy stories featuring modern-day witches and thrilling mysteries involving paranormal themes.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving a free copy.

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Gypsies, Traps, and Missing Thieves (Bohemian Murder Manor, #1, Bohemian Lake Cozy Mystery, #5) by Rachael Stapleton

Gypsies Traps Thieves

Mallory Vianu manages her family’s Gypsy Caravan Manor Resort along with her Nana and adopted sister, Danior. The ladies capitalize on its beautiful, yet haunting, Victorian architecture and reputation for harboring an actual ghost or two, by hosting paranormal-themed events. This weekend they are trying out a new feature: a murder mystery weekend where the manor guests work to solve a “murder” during their stay. Presenting the event is an old friend of the family, Joelle Mackay, who recently started this new enterprise in an effort to revive her struggling business, so Mallory, Danior, and Nana are free to play along for a firsthand experience. If the event is successful, the Vianu ladies hope to incorporate it into their resort’s corporate event offerings.

With an unexpected spring blizzard headed their way and the guests beginning to arrive, Mallory is under the gun to ensure things still go off without a hitch. But, to add to the stress, she finds out that Nana has invited a special guest, a blind date for her granddaughter!

As the weather moves in, close friend Penny Trubble, headed to the airport to meet her significant other on vacation, and her driver, Police Detective Kaden Bones drop off a guest from town, Mal’s best friend, Rebel Rouse, and become stranded there themselves when all flights are canceled and the roads become impassable. The two new arrivals are added to the game and the evening’s activities start off smoothly enough, with the exception of two missing guests at the opening scenario. But when the body of one of the missing guests is found at the bottom of a secret, hidden staircase, and it’s not part of the script; Mallory knows one of the players is a murderer!

If you’ve been following the unfolding Bohemian Lake Cozy Mystery series, you’ll recognize many of the characters in this first novel of off-shoot series, the Bohemian Murder Manor Mysteries. This storyline features the mysterious ladies of the Vianu family that operate the Gypsy Caravan Manor Resort on the lakeshore across from the town of Bohemian Lake.

And the ladies ARE mysterious. Matriarch Nana Vianu is known for her uncanny skills as a gypsy fortune teller. Mallory, her granddaughter, can see auras and talk to the spirit world. Danior was found as an infant and adopted into the family; who she is and where she came from is a complete mystery. And then there is the unexplained disappearance of Mallory’s mother, Jili, and her father’s death, both a decade earlier.

With the Victorian manor house setting the tone for spooky goings-on, this first story has it all: odd guests who are not who they say they are, ghostly apparitions, numerous bumps in the night, murder, tension, and suspicion all around. It is a complex tale but entertaining to watch as the players work their way through the mysteries: those of the game and those that are real.

I recommend this book to readers that enjoy cozy mysteries with a touch of the paranormal and that have read the previous books in the Bohemian Lake Cozy Mystery series. This is definitely a mid-point in a series and would be difficult to follow and enjoy as a standalone story.

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