The Restorer (Graveyard Queen #1) by Amanda Stevens

My name is Amelia Gray. I’m a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. In order to protect myself from the parasitic nature of the dead, I’ve always held fast to the rules passed down from my father. But now a haunted police detective has entered my world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept me safe.
It started with the discovery of a young woman’s brutalized body in an old Charleston graveyard I’ve been hired to restore. The clues to the killer, and to his other victims, lie in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret. Devlin needs my help, but his ghosts shadow his every move, feeding off his warmth, sustaining their presence with his energy. To warn him would be to invite them into my life. I’ve vowed to keep my distance, but the pull of his magnetism grows ever stronger even as the symbols lead me closer to the killer and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.

I’ve had this book for what seems like forever and now I could kick myself for not picking it up until now. I read The Abandoned, the prequel to the Graveyard Queen series way back in 2012. Talk about procrastination. Yikes!

Amelia was an interesting character who follows a strict set of rules set by her father. She knows how important they are to follow, but sometimes you have to ignore the danger and follow your heart. The pull between Devlin and Amelia is hard to ignore.

I loved the mystery along with the “spookiness” of this story. There was a mix of supernatural danger along with a real life threat that kept the pages turning. There was also a bit of a slow burn between Amelia and Devlin that didn’t quite happen, but just might in the future.

One thing that I do know is that I can’t wait to continue the Graveyard Queen series. I already have The Kingdom, which is the next book in the series. I think I might go back and read The Abandoned before I start in on the next book though. Stay tuned… 😉

The Necromancer’s Library (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #12) by J.L. Bryan

The antebellum mansion sits isolated in the overgrown countryside like a forgotten temple. Within it lie the dark, twisting paths of a private library possessing secrets from across the ages. The collection of ancient and medieval occult manuscripts tell of conjuring spirits and raising the dead, of making contact with supernatural realms and beings usually forbidden to living mortals.
The house’s recently deceased owner was a reclusive former professor who transformed his home into a great library, but his desire for hidden knowledge and arcane power may have led him into madness, even death.
Disturbing specters now haunt the new occupants of the house, who turn to paranormal investigator Ellie Jordan for help. Ellie must unravel the mysteries of the occult library before she can banish its ghosts and make the house safe again for the living.

Even though this is the 12th book in the Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper series, it’s not getting old… if anything, each book makes me want more. The stories and adventures are all fresh, the ghosts are terrifying, the locations are all unique and spooky and the characters are full of wit and their personalities are a perfect balance to each other. Yeah, it’s not hard to tell that I’m kinda in love with Ellie and her crew. 😉

The Necromancer’s Library was not what I expected, but that’s nothing new when it comes to this series. A library should be anything but evil, right? Well this one was a combination of impressive and terrifying. There were quite a few twists, turns and surprises, as well as secrets kept by more than one person. There were also unexpected allies thrown into the mix. In other words, JL Bryan held nothing back.

There were also some ominous hints of things to come, which is also nothing new. This series isn’t slowing down at all and I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for Ellie and company next.

Graveyard Shift (Not Dead Yet #3) by Jenn Burke

Shifting Into High Fear
Ghost/god Wes Cooper and his not-life partner, vampire Hudson Rojas, have settled into cohabitation in an upscale part of Toronto. So what if their hoity-toity new neighbors haven’t exactly rolled out the welcome mat for the paranormal pair? Their PI business is booming, and when a suspect they’ve been tailing winds up in the morgue, it’s alongside a rash of other shifters in apparent drug-related fatalities.
Now Wes and Hudson must connect the dots between the shifter deaths and an uptick in brutal vampire attacks across the city. Throw in a surprise visit from Hudson’s niece—who may or may not be on the run from European paranormal police (who may or may not exist)—and guardianship of a teen shifter who might be the key to solving the whole mystery (if only she could recover her memory), and Wes and Hudson have never been busier…or happier.
But when a nightmare from Hudson’s past comes back to haunt him, their weird, little found family is pushed to the brink. Mucking this up would mean Hudson and Wes missing their second chance at happily-forever-afterlife…

First and most importantly… this cannot be the end of this series. However, if this truly was the end of the Not Dead Yet series, then I seriously hope that there is a spin-off series in the works because some things were not totally okay at the end of Graveyard Shift.

To say that there was little down time in Graveyard Shift would be a HUGE understatement. The description of this book is accurate when it says that Wes and Hudson’s “family” was pushed to the brink. There was danger around every corner. At times it was hard to tell the good guys from the bad. And… there were tears, at least for this reader.

There were so many twists and turns that I don’t want to take a chance on giving anything away. The only thing that you really need to know is that if you’ve already read Not Dead Yet and Give Up the Ghost, you’re really going to want to read Graveyard Shift. Be prepared though, because nothing these guys go through is easy and their HEA is bittersweet, but well earned. ❤

 

Trifles and Folly (Deadly Curiosities Novellas) by Gail Z. Martin

A collection of nine adventures: Buttons, The Restless Dead, Retribution, Coffin Box, Wicked Dreams, Collector, Bad Memories, Shadow Garden, and Spook House.
Cassidy Kincaide runs Trifles & Folly in modern-day Charleston, an antiques and curios shop with a dangerous secret. Cassidy can read the history of objects by touching them and along with her business partners Teag, who has Weaver magic and Sorren, a 600 year-old vampire, they get rid of cursed objects and keep Charleston and the world safe from supernatural threats. An extension of the Deadly Curiosities book series.

Well, now I clearly need to start from the beginning of this series. #SneakyAuthor Reading this collection didn’t spoil the series for me, but it definitely made me want to read more (and more, and more…) Deadly Curiosities just got moved WAY up on my TBR list.

Each of the shorts in this compilation drew me in and made me fall in love with these characters even more. Now I need to get to know them better and I can’t wait to delve into the rest of this series. I’ve already picked up a couple of other books by Gail Z. Martin/Morgan Brice and I love the way the series by both alter egos weave together. So much so, it would be impossible to pick a favorite character or series. I’ve found myself falling in love with them all.

What isn’t listed in the blurb about what is included in the first edition of Trifles and Folly are the bonus chapters at the end. Readers are treated to Sorren’s past and I’m so glad that I continued reading all the way to the end. Whatever you do, if you pick up this edition of Trifles and Folly, don’t skip it. You can thank me later 😉

Seance on a Summer’s Night by Josh Lanyon

Theater critic Artemus Bancroft isn’t sure what to expect when his aunt summons him home to California with vague but urgent pleas about being unable to cope with “the situation.”
The situation turns out to be the apparent haunting of Green Lanterns Inn—along with alarming rumors that long-suffering Auntie Halcyone may have murdered her philandering husband.
In fact, the rumors seem to have been started by the late Mr. Hyde himself—from beyond the grave.

Well, that was fun… in a totally scary, crazy, unpredictable way. Kinda what I’ve come to expect from this author.

Artemus had no problem dropping everything and coming to his aunt’s side when she needed him. He grew up with her at Green Lanterns so his devotion to her was understandable. That didn’t mean that he supported her theory about a ghost haunting and scaring away any potential guests as well as her staff. It also didn’t mean that he supported every decision that she made.

Then there was Seamus. It was obvious from the beginning (at least for me) that there was much more to the gardener than appeared at first glance. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I wasn’t disappointed by much in Seance on a Summer’s Night. There were enough twists, turns, danger and just enough romance to keep the pages turning.

Spells, Salt, & Steel – Season One by Gail Z. Martin & Larry N. Martin

“When all else fails, the ass end of a carp makes a damn fine weapon.”
Your new favorite monster hunter has arrived! Bubba the Monster Hunter has some competition in this horror comedy collection from best-selling author duo Gail Z. & Larry N. Martin!
By day, Mark Wojcik can be found elbow-deep in engine grease, making cars and trucks safe for the highway. By night, he can be found traipsing through the wilds of Pennsylvania, making the world safe for humans. He’s more than just a mechanic, he’s a New Templar Knight. He travels the backroads and byways fighting weresquonks, ningen, selkies, ghosts, and…gnomes? Is that gnome…naked? (sigh).
Season One collects the first four novellas in the Spells, Salt, & Steel series –
Spells, Salt, & Steel • Open Season  • Deep Trouble • Close Encounters

Some of you may have noticed that I’m moving right along with the books in this crazy world created by Gail Z. Martin (AKA – Morgan Brice) and Larry N. Martin. You also may have noticed that I’m not exactly reading them in order. If you’ve read more than a couple of my reviews, you have probably noticed that’s not anything new. I have a little bit more back tracking to do because I’ve only scratched the surface – so stay tuned. 😉

Spells, Salt, & Steel
When all else fails, the ass end of a carp makes a damn fine weapon.
No, that didn’t come from the lips of Bubba the Monster Hunter, but it sure could have! That sentence right there kinda encapsulates the life of Mark Wojcik, Monster Hunter. A blue-collar mechanic from the wilds of PA, Mark likes his beer cold, his poker games private, and his monsters…well, he doesn’t like them at all. So when he finds himself dueling a Japanese mythical monster in the Linesville Spillway in the wee hours of the night, he has to use every available weapon to survive and vanquish the ningen.
Even if it means beating the damn thing to death with a carp.
If interloping Japanese fish-monsters weren’t bad enough, there’s a Nazi ghost terrorizing the community. Somebody needs to gank the ghostie, and Mark is the man for the job.
He hopes.
They are the first line of defense against the things that go bump in the night.
They are the keepers of a centuries-old legacy of The Church defending the world against the forces of darkness.
They are a bunch of highly armed rednecks, internet video celebrities, soccer moms, and assorted broken nutjobs.
They are the new Templars, and things are about to get weird.

That reading order thing? Yeah, this particular book in the Spells, Salt, & Steel series came out before the previous books I’ve read (Badlands, Witchbane, Sons of Darkness & Dark Rivers.) Which only means that I feel like I already knew Mark before I started, even though pretty much all of his interactions with the other books were by phone. It didn’t take me long to totally fall in love with Mark Wojcik. ❤

He shares a lot in common with his fellow hunters, mainly, most of them fell into this business by loosing someone they cared about to the monsters that most people don’t even know exist. One thing that I’ve noticed already is that these authors are great at writing monsters – in all their gory detail. *shivers* And for the record – I love every minute of it. This story, just like the others, has some really great supporting characters from all walks of life. What I really loved about Mark so far, was his sense of humor. There were some pretty gruesome moments in Spells, Salt, & Steel that were made a lot lighter by Mark’s quips and inner dialogue.

Basically, this was a great beginning and I can’t wait to continue. 😉

Open Season
The carp-slapping, grenade-launching son of a gun Mark Wojcik is back, and this time he’s going hunting!
When there’s trouble in the Pennsylvania wilds, there’s only one person to call. It’s out of Bubba’s jurisdiction, so the monster mashing falls on part-time mechanic, part-time cryptic killer Mark Wojcik. He’s got a gun, a cast of supporting characters you won’t believe, and more ammunition than you can shake a stick at. This time, there’s something funky happening in the woods, and Mark is about to learn more about hunting, and The Hunt, than he ever wanted to!

I can’t remember the last time I started reading an Urban Fantasy and highlighted as many “LOL” moments as I have while reading the books in this series. Mark faces real danger with every case he takes. Some think he has a death wish and sometimes he thinks he might as well. Yet, he’s determined to rid the world of creatures like the ones who tore his family from him – and not just the ones who didn’t survive the attack that changed his life. Then there are lines like this that can’t help but make me want to get to know him better:

So here I was, loaded up with more weapons than Elmer Fudd in duck season, looking for a carnivorous cryptid in a bottomless swamp. What could possibly go wrong?
F*ck-all, that’s what.

I’m beginning to adore Mark Wojcik. 😉

As the title suggests, most of the “hunts” that Mark is hired for in Open Season have to do with “hunting” and not just the kind Mark does. People are disappearing, evil’s lurking in unexpected places and new and interesting allies are found while old enemies are still just as crazy as ever. Through it all, the “family” that really matters is right by his side when he needs them most. ❤

Deep Trouble
Mark Wojcik is back, and this time there are ghosts, gnomes, dragons, and way more than you ever wanted to know about a gnome’s fiddly bits!
When there’s trouble in the Pennsylvania wilds, there’s only one person to call. It’s out of Bubba’s jurisdiction, so the monster mashing falls on part-time mechanic, part-time cryptid killer Mark Wojcik. He’s got a gun, a cast of supporting characters you won’t believe, and more ammunition than you can shake a stick at. This time, Mark’s not sure what’s more dangerous, a haunted hotel, or the live guests at his girlfriend’s work soiree!

Another installment in the Spells, Salt, & Steel – Season 1 that makes me adore Mark Wojcik even more. He gains even more unlikely allies in Deep Trouble that add to the menagerie.

One of the things that make me like Mark so much (and there are many, many things) is the fact that he doesn’t just arbitrarily eliminate every “monster” he hunts down. If they’re not a danger to anyone around them, he finds a way to help them.

There’s only one more story left in Season 1 and with the promise of more to come, I can’t wait to get to know Mark and friends even better. 😉

Close Encounters
There’s a drunk werewolf passed out on his porch, a monster mistaken for a mammoth stalking the nearby woods, zombies at an abandoned sanitarium, and his niece has been kidnapped by a haunted hotel that makes the Overlook resemble the Waldorf Astoria.

For Mark Wojcik, it’s just another week in the wild backwoods of Pennsylvania.
That’s right, Mark Wojcik is back, with more monsters, more one-liners, more action, more mysteries, and now with added shady government conspiracies! This time old family ghosts come calling when his dead brother’s widow calls to tell him his niece has gone missing, Mark knows she’d rather cut off her arm than ever speak to him again, so if his sister-in-law is calling, it’s gotta be serious. Mark finds out just how serious when he realizes that his niece has vanished into a haunted hotel that only appears once every few decades, so if he’s going to get her home safe, he’d better haul some serious ass!
Can Mark save his niece when he couldn’t save his brother?

Things get a little personal in Close Encounters and then a little crazy… uh crazier? than normal.

This is the last book in Season 1 of Spells, Salt & Steel, and if I didn’t already know that the 5th installment was already in the works, I’d be a little miffed. As it is, I’m going to have a hard time waiting to see what happens next. It seems that Mark’s ghost hunting escapades have just leveled up a notch.

All the stories in this installment are even more connected than all the others and trust me when I say, they end with a bang… literally. I love how this series is also connected with characters from other series – even characters that don’t belong to just Gail Z. Martin, Larry N. Martin and Morgan Brice. As a matter of fact, I’m planning on delving into the characters created by other authors because this world is amazing.

Stay tuned! I can pretty much guarantee that there’s MUCH more to come!

You, Me, and the Voodoo Queen (A Malveaux Curse Mystery #2) by G.A. Chase

Things get complicated when you don’t know what you’re voodooing.
Kendell Summer just can’t catch a break. All she wants is one good passionate kiss from her paranormal partner, Myles, but in the midst of their embrace, she hears a distress message coming from a passing paddle wheeler. Her band, Polly Urethane and the Strippers, is in trouble. Once again, she must drop everything and rush to the rescue while relying on Myles to have her back.
Unfortunately, the events that unfold while she’s saving her friends only plunge her deeper into the dreaded Malveaux curse and threaten Myles with a fate worse than death. Kendell will need everyone she trusts, including her loyal dog, Cheesecake, to help her save his soul.

Not sure why, but this one started out kind of slow for me, well, maybe not started out slow? It hit a point where it kind of dragged along, but trust me, that didn’t last long. You, Me, and the Voodoo Queen picked up pretty much where Dog Days of Voodoo left off. Kendell and Myles are still in the “getting to know you” stage of their relationship, but both of them are ready to move on to the next phase. The only problem is, trouble seems to follow – and sometimes even beckon them at every turn.

Myles wants to protect Kendell, Kendell wants to protect Myles and Cheesecake wants to protect them all… Yeah, things get kind of crazy… uh… crazier? in You, Me, and the Voodoo Queen. They end up putting their trust in someone Myles doesn’t trust at all and he hates what he sees it doing to Kendell. Before  they realize what’s happening… well, it’s all par for the course when it comes to Myles and Kendell. They even reach out to some very unlikely allies while trying to… well, you’ll have to read You, Me, and the Voodoo Queen to see who exactly is being saved from what.

I loved the twists, turns and even the bad guys – well, at least some of them. I’m also loving this trip into the background characters from The Devil’s Daughter. One of the best parts is getting to know the characters that play such and important role in Serephine’s life and seeing exactly how they got there. I can’t wait to see where each series goes from here. 😉

Dark Rivers (Witchbane #2) by Morgan Brice

One hundred years ago, a sheriff’s posse killed dark warlock Rhyfel Gremory, but his witch-disciples escaped, and their magic made them nearly immortal. To keep their power, each year one of the witch-disciples kills a descendant of one of the men in the posse, a twelve-year cycle that has cost dozens of lives, including that of Seth Tanner’s brother, Jesse.
Seth Tanner uncovers the cycle of ritual killings that feeds the power of the witch-disciples, and he’s hell bent on getting vengeance for Jesse and stopping the murders. His fledgling romantic relationship with Evan Malone complicates his mission, but Seth can’t walk away. Seth and Evan are learning to navigate their partnership—as lovers and monster hunters—while they chase down the next witch-disciple and avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention.
When the hunt takes Seth and Evan to Pittsburgh on the trail of the next killer, they’ll have to save the intended victim and take down the powerful witch. If the skills they possess and the bond between them isn’t enough, the evil will remain unchallenged, and more people will die…
Note: Includes mention of past domestic violence and stalking.

I am so glad that I stumbled across this author (more on that at the end of this review.) Witchbane, the first book in this series, had me wanting more and Dark Rivers didn’t disappoint – in fact it gave me more than I expected. 😉

Even though Seth and Evan’s relationship is just beginning, it’s stronger than either of them have ever experienced. Seth pulled him into a world that Evan didn’t know existed, but he was always unknowingly a part of. That was a lot to take in, but neither one of them had time to analyze the situation, they needed to stay ahead of the next disciple.

There was a lot going on in Dark Rivers. More than enough action to keep the pages turning, some heated moments between Seth and Evan (and not always between the sheets 😉 ) The couple was tested more than once from more than one source. I pretty much loved every minute of it. Honestly, the only complaint that I had – which was minor – was that there seemed to be a lot of going over what happened in Witchbane. I think that may have been just a “me” thing though, mainly because not a lot of time passed between me reading Witchbane and Dark Rivers. If it had been a longer time span, I might have even found it helpful.

One of my favorite aspects of Dark Rivers may have been the supporting characters. Seth was used to doing things on his own, until he met Evan. In Dark Rivers, they found themselves needing even more help. They had depended on long distance assistance before from other “monster hunters” and “specialists” but this time they needed physical help – whether they wanted it or not. Turns out, their “help” came in the form of characters from another series – that I quite accidentally discovered – by Gail Z. Martin. Yep, Travis and Brent have their very own series – Night Vigil. Imagine my surprise when I didn’t realize that little bit of info until I started Sons of Darkness (which should probably be read before Dark Rivers, but oh well – not the first time I put the “cart before the horse” and I’m sure it won’t be the last.) There are even more connections between these and a couple more series and books (Spells, Salt, & Steel & Badlands) and you know what that means…. I get to read ALL the books. 😉

BadLands (BadLands #1) by Morgan Brice

Medium and clairvoyant Simon Kincaide owns a Myrtle Beach boardwalk shop where he runs ghost tours, holds séances, and offers private psychic readings, making a fresh start after his abilities cost him his lover and his job as a folklore professor. Jaded cop Vic D’Amato saw something supernatural he couldn’t explain during a shootout several years ago in Pittsburgh and relocated to Myrtle Beach to leave the past behind, still skeptical about the paranormal. But when the search for a serial killer hits a dead end, Vic battles his skepticism to ask Simon for help. As the body count rises, Simon’s involvement makes him a target, and a suspect. But Simon can’t say no, even if it costs him his life and heart.

I’ve been on a reading roll lately. I’ve found several new authors and a slew of characters that I’ve really enjoyed. I realized that I’ve moved away from PNR books and slipped into a contemporary slump. That’s not a bad thing, but since I consider PNR my “first love”, I’ve enjoyed these new finds. To be fair, I’d consider BadLands borderline PNR – mainly because there were no shifters or vampires – psychics and spirits were the main focus – but that still counts 😉

BadLands also left me feeling rather nostalgic… My very first M/M read was a book where a psychic was paired with a skeptic. (A Reason to Believe) That little taste of PNR was enough to pull me in to a brand new genre and as I’ve said many, many times, the rest is history. Vic isn’t so much a skeptic as someone who was forced to not believe what he knew he saw. Risking his second chance at his career was a last ditch effort to solve a crime spree that was plaguing Myrtle Beach.

Simon was risking just as much by trying to help Vic. As the two got closer and their attraction became too strong to ignore, they both had even more at risk. I loved these two together and the mystery in BadLands was just as intriguing as the romance. There’s nothing I love more than a good balance.

I picked up BadLands almost a year after it’s initial release and there’ve been a couple of novellas released since then. I’ve picked up one of them, but I’m hoping that there are more full length books in this series’ future.

Fire Devil (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #11) by J.L. Bryan (Bout-of-Books 24 Review)

Ellie’s pursuit of a possessed friend and her own worst enemy takes her across the United States into forgotten corners of the countryside through haunted hotels, ghost towns, and strange highways, and toward the site of a horrific fire haunted by hundreds of spirits.
Together with her team, plus help from an eccentric exorcist from Texas, prepares for the fight of her life, a fight destined since her own childhood.
Ellie’s past and present collide in a final confrontation that will change the course of her life, giving her a chance to finally be rid of her most dangerous personal demon—if he doesn’t kill Ellie first, along with the people she cares about the most.

Eleven books in and I’m no where close to being tired of Ellie Jordan, her crew or their escapades. Fire Devil may be one of my favorites in this series so far.

Throughout the Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper series, readers have known about Clay. He’s only been front and center in a few books, but he’s always there. He’s the reason why she started hunting and trapping ghosts in the first place. In Fire Devil, things finally come to a head and she risks losing everything to take Clay down. Even her own life.

The action and danger didn’t slow down in this one at all. The whole crew was together, with a few additions. Their main goal was to release Michael’s sister from Clay’s clutches and destroy Clay in the process. Hopefully without anyone else getting hurt… or worse… in the process. Along the way they encounter even more restless spirits and solve a few mysteries, while opening up even more. Clay has a sinister plan, which they have to figure out and fast.

Ellie learns more than she expected and gains something that she thought was forever lost. Just one of the many reasons why I loved this one so much. I can’t wait to see what J.L. Bryan has in store next for Ellie Jordan. 😉