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. 😉

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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. 😉

Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox #1) by Julie Kagawa

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.
Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.
Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.
There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.
With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.

It’s been a while since I’ve picked up a series by Julie Kagawa. I practically devoured The Iron Fey series and I loved Blood of Eden. When I saw Shadow of the Fox, I didn’t hesitate. Once I started reading, it didn’t take me long to remember why I love this author’s world building so much.

My first love in the Fantasy genre is mythology, mainly because I loved it as a child. It’s familiar, but every author has the ability to put their own spin on it, so the stories are also fresh. Shadow of the Fox was centered around Japanese mythology, a first for me. I have to admit that it took me a little while to wrap my head around this unfamiliar world, but not too long.

There was a lot to take in, but I loved all the twists and turns. The POV switched between not only Tatsumi and Yumeko, but some unexpected characters were given a voice. I loved the magic and legends that were woven into the story. There was danger everywhere and both Tatsumi and Yumeko kept secrets from one another – which didn’t make things easier for either one of them.

I also loved the twists and turns and the unlikely alliances that were formed along their journey. Yumeko’s perspective on pretty much everything was the polar opposite of Tatsumi’s, which was both confusing and frustrating for the warrior.

There are a lot of reasons why I can’t wait until the next book in Shadow of the Fox is released. First and foremost is that, things take a major turn near the end and then… yeah, you’ll just have to read Shadow of the Fox to find out and then join me in waiting not so patiently for Soul of the Sword. *sigh*

The Monster Museum (Ellie Jordan Ghost Trapper #10) by JL Bryan

Just outside the small but colorful mountain resort town of Foxboro, Tennessee lies Dr. Weirdman’s Mountain Museum of Monsters, Curiosities, and Ancient Mysteries. Once a major tourist attraction, it offers travelers the amusement of touring unusual underground caves and pseudo-scientific exhibits ranging from strange creatures to the supposed artifacts of lost civilizations.
Now the museum is a crumbling relic of an older age, fallen into disrepair. Its longtime owner has died, leaving it in the hands of a younger distant relative who knows nothing of how to run a failing tourist trap of a museum, but who is desperate to make a living and provide for his own children.
The museum has a serious ghost problem, though, and Ellie Jordan is called in from Savannah to help. An unexpected old friend joins Ellie at the last moment so that they can spend a snow-filled Christmas together in the mountains…if the ghosts of the restless dead don’t turn the holidays into a horrific tragedy.

Have you ever read a book and had the urge to jump in and warn the characters because you figured something out before they did? A life or death something? Something that they really, really needed to know? Yeah, that’s pretty much how I felt at least halfway through The Monster Museum and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. That realization was almost as terrifying as the monsters Ellie was attempting to protect her clients agains. *sigh*

Running head long into danger is nothing new to Ellie Jordan. She pretty much does it all the time, but this time was different. This time she had no back-up. At least no back-up that she felt comfortable taking advantage of. That “old friend” that is hinted at in the description is Michael. And before you get upset about me “spoiling” anything, it’s revealed in the first chapter. Those of you who have followed the series know that Michael and Ellie aren’t exactly on the best of terms, at least they haven’t been. I know that when things were good between them, he was good for Ellie. I’m still not sure how I feel about him though. He was pretty hard on Ellie, but there’s also no one who’s harder on her than Ellie herself.

There was a lot going on even beyond the ghost trapping in The Monster Museum. We get a lot of Ellie’s personal feelings in this story that readers don’t normally get. Ellie would be the first to tell anyone that she doesn’t do relationships. Her job is too dangerous and it’s not the kind of thing she can leave at the office. Her emotions are jumbled and she doesn’t even trust them most of the time. She spends a lot of time in this story doing some self analysis and readers got to see a whole different side to her.

Heart stopping danger and an atmosphere that was more than a little spooky kept the pages turning and then… well, you’ll just have to read The Monster Museum to find out. This series is not for the faint of heart, so consider yourself warned. And even though you can’t really call the ending of The Monster Museum a cliff hanger, the danger is far from over and there’s a lot more in store for Ellie and company. Although I liked the one on one time spent with her, I’m hoping that the rest of the cast of characters returns for the next installment. FYI, if you haven’t started this series yet, the first book, Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper is currently FREE at Amazon. 😉

Possessed (When Worlds Collide #1) by Kelly Apple

When she bought her new house, Char James didn’t plan to also take on a ghost. It’s rude, creepy, and a downright terrible roommate. Despite that, she’s determined to show it they can live in harmony. Hopefully.
But Char’s entire perspective changes when a surprise encounter rocks her world. She learns that sometimes pranks can be helpful, sometimes a ghost isn’t really a ghost…
And sometimes the scariest creature of all is the most protective.

I love smexy ghost stories… even though this isn’t exactly a ghost story. Hence the title, Possessed. Trust me when I say that When World’s Collide is off to a great start.

Char got more than she bargained for when she moved into her new home. Mal… At first he was an annoyance, then he turned into a lot more… way more… Did I mention that this was a smexy read? He also turned out to be really helpful in more ways than one. Turns out that sometimes the bad guys aren’t exactly who you might expect them to be.

Yeah, Kelly Apple is really good at creating really smexy times with paranormals. I’m kinda looking forward to see what she has planned for the next books in this series. 😉

The Tower (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #9) By J.L. Bryan

Ellie’s new case takes her far out of town, to an historic but crumbling nineteenth-century skyscraper in downtown Atlanta. The reclusive, once-prominent family living at the top of the tower are experiencing paranormal disturbances that grow more threatening by the day.
Ellie and Stacey must unravel the hidden history of the tower and the ancestors of the family who occupy it—a history full of crime, corruption, wealth, and power. With floor after floor of dark, haunted spaces, the labyrinthine antique tower presents one of the greatest ghost-trapping challenges that Ellie has ever faced.

Having Ellie and Stacey travel out of their ‘comfort zone’ made things interesting. It didn’t make a difference in how they operated though.

The tower included some of the most interesting ghosts in this series yet. The family that Ellie and Stacey were working for had a lot of history. Some of it even they didn’t know about.

Sometimes the intrigue behind who the ghosts are and why they are still hanging around is as interesting as the haunting itself. The ‘bad guy’ in The Tower was really bad. He had a lot of power and a lot of time to find ways to seek revenge – over and over and over again. You could almost kind of respect his tenacity, if he wasn’t so evil.

The thing about The Tower was that there were a lot of ghosts. Figuring out who the mastermind was wasn’t easy, but if any ghost hunter could figure it out, my money would be on Ellie and Stacey. It wasn’t easy and there was plenty of danger involved, but Ellie and her friends never back down, especially when people’s lives depend on it.

I kind of liked the change of venue and Ellie probably needed it, but I also kind of missed her being in familiar territory. She still has some things to deal with and I can’t wait to see what J.L. Bryan has in store for her next.

Southern Spirits (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries #1) by Angie Fox

southernspiritsOne simple mistake… 
For a girl who is about to lose her family home, 
Releases the ghost of a long-dead gangster, 
And opens Verity Long’s eyes to a whole new world. 
When out of work graphic designer Verity Long accidentally traps a ghost on her property, she’s saddled with more than a supernatural sidekick—she gains the ability see spirits. It leads to an offer she can’t refuse from the town’s bad boy, the brother of her ex and the last man she should ever partner with. 
Ellis Wyatt is in possession of a stunning historic property haunted by some of Sugarland Tennessee’s finest former citizens. Only some of them are growing restless—and destructive. He hires Verity to put an end to the disturbances. But soon, Verity learns there’s more to the mysterious estate than floating specters, secret passageways, and hidden rooms. 
There’s a modern day mystery afoot, one that hinges on a decades-old murder. Verity isn’t above questioning the living, or the dead. But can she discover the truth before the killer finds her?

Sometimes, you just want something sweet that’s a fun, quick read and Southern Spirits definitely was all three and then some. 😉

Verity is kind of down on her luck when readers first meet her. She’s about to lose her family home, the town she grew up in hates her because she left her fiancé at the alter (for a VERY good reason, but she can’t tell anyone why) and she accidentally trapped a ghost by her side and he’s not exactly happy about it. Add to that the fact that the only way to save her home seems to be becoming employed by her ex’s brother… yeah, things got interesting really quick in Southern Spirits.

Verity was an easy character to root for. She was smart and witty and she got the raw end of the deal with her ex. Ellis, on the other hand, took a while. He did eventually grow on me though and I can’t wait to see how things develop between this pair as the series progresses.

Basically, Southern Spirits was a sweet little romance with plenty of humor mystery and a hint of danger. And of course, ghosts. Some good, some bad and some just misunderstood. I have a feeling that the Southern Ghost Hunting Mysteries is going to be a series I’m really going to enjoy.

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The Keeper (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #8) by J.L. Bryan – Bout-of-Books 18 Review

thekeeperThe South Channel lighthouse is a crumbling antique at the mouth of the Savannah River, abandoned and forgotten for generations. Local stories still tell of a mysterious woman in white who often stood at the old lighthouse, watching the sailors come into port…even long after she died.
Now the property by the lighthouse is owned by a famous movie star in search of a remote beach getaway on sleepy Tybee Island. Unfortunately, old ghosts haunt her new retreat, stirred up by the construction of a luxurious new mansion. Ellie, Stacey, and their team must remove the ghosts, who grow more dangerous and aggressive every night, threatening the lives of the client and her family and personal staff.
The lighthouse has a dark history, with many ghosts, and mysteries to unravel before Ellie can send them on to the other side.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Things didn’t end well for Ellie in Lullaby, the last book in the Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper series. The Keeper started where Lullaby left off and unfortunately, things hadn’t gotten much better. Ellie felt betrayed by more than one person and the list of people she felt she could count on was getting smaller and smaller. *sigh*

The danger was ramped up even more in The Keeper and the tension was even higher because Ellie had some personal history with the location. She kept that to herself though, which may have made it easier for her to tell that their client was doing the same. Add to the official ghost trapping drama on Tybee Island the fact that Kara is still a danger and Ellie & Stacey’s side ghost hunting endeavors, it’s no surprise that there was little or no down time in The Keeper.

There were more than a couple of mysteries solved, twists and turns that kept you wondering who the good guys were vs. the bad guys and more than just a little emotional drama. All in a day’s work for an evil author pro like J.L. Bryan. Not sure what he has planned next for Ellie, but there’s definitely more. Even though The Keeper didn’t end in a cliff hanger, there’s still a lot of loose ends that need tying. 😉

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