Loved It: A Ghostly Grave by Tonya Kappes

Series: Ghostly Southern Mystery 2
Format: eGalley
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Avon Books | Witness
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Paranormal – Humorous

There’s a ghost on the loose—and a fox in the henhouse

Four years ago, the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home put Chicken Teater in the ground. Now undertaker Emma Lee Raines is digging him back up. The whole scene is bad for business, especially with her granny running for mayor and a big festival setting up in town. But ever since Emma Lee started seeing ghosts, Chicken’s been pestering her to figure out who killed him.

With her handsome boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, busy getting new forensics on the old corpse, Emma Lee has time to look into her first suspect. Chicken’s widow may be a former Miss Kentucky, but the love of his life was another beauty queen: Lady Cluckington, his prize-winning hen. Was Mrs. Teater the jealous type? Chicken seems to think so. Something’s definitely rotten in Sleepy Hollow—and Emma Lee just prays it’s not her luck.

Tonya Kappes’ A GHOSTLY UNDERTAKING is the perfect cozy weekend read. At least for me it was. I mean it was difficult to hold in guffaws and giggle snorts when Emma Lee Raines is investigating the wrongful death of a chicken… errr… I mean a dude named, Colonel Chicken Teater. Who is crazy obsessed with his prize winning hen. Who paid more attention to Lady Cluckington (hen) than his pageant Queen and certified cougar, Marla Maria Teater?! I know it’s a lame rhetoric, but I’m sure you get my drift. 
Add Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky’s crazy gossip mongers to the mix led by Emma Lee’s own Granny, a hen pageant, some yoga poses and ripped eyebrows, a hearty rendition of Old McDonald, and you have a laugh out loud paranormal cozy mystery that’s BEGGING not to be taken seriously. There’s an abundance of snark, romantic tension, and hilarious anecdotes to keep you flipping/swiping the pages to the left. 
What I’m most pleased about is Emma Lee’s noticeable character development compared to the previous book, A Ghostly Undertaking. I liked her there, but I felt the secondary characters led the story and she was just hosting the gig for us. I’m so happy that we get to see more of Emma Lee’s colorful personality here. Funeral Trauma nonewithstanding, our heroine is very clever in terms of getting herself out of sticky situations, and has a sharp tongue hidden underneath all of that Southern Belle charm. 
A GHOSTLY GRAVE is a strong sequel to the series. It will definitely get you hooked on Ghostly Southern Mysteries in case you needed more convincing after the first one. I also think you can get away reading A GHOSTLY GRAVE as standalone or the series in reverse order, because TKappes gave quick recap of highlights that happened in A Ghostly Undertaking so you can get in the know of things. Ultimately if you love cozy mysteries, ridiculous ghost hauntings, and plain laughing in general, make sure you pick up Ghostly Southern Mysteries, you’ll devour it in one sitting.

Loved It: A Ghostly Undertaking by Tonya Kappes

Series: A Ghostly Southern Mystery 1

Format: eGalley
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

From USA Today bestselling author Tonya Kappes, comes a brand new hilarious and fun paranormal mystery series a bout Emma Lee Raines, a funeral home director who can suddenly see dead people!

Bopped on the head from a falling plastic Santa, local undertaker Emma Lee Raines is told she’s suffering from “funeral trauma.” It’s trauma all right, because the not so dearly departed keep talking to her. Take Ruthie Sue Payne–innkeeper, gossip queen, and arch-nemesis of Emma Lee’s granny-she’s adamant that she didn’t just fall down those stairs. She was pushed.

Ruthie has no idea who wanted her pushing up daisies. All s he knows is that she can’t cross over until the matter is laid to eternal rest. In the land of the living, Emma Lee’s high-school crush, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, isn’t ready to rule out foul play. Granny Raines, the widow of Ruthie’s ex-husband a nd co-owner of the Sleepy Hollow Inn, is the prime suspect. Now Emma Lee is stuck playing detective or risk being haunted forever.

A GHOSTLY UNDERTAKING by Tonya Kappes was such a delightful cozy mystery. I love everything about it starting from the murder mystery, down to Emma Lee Raine’s personal life! The case that is Ruthie Sue Payne’s murder put Emma Lee in a tight spot. Not only is her grandmother one of the suspect in the case, her granny has been behaving oddly of late. Though Emma trusts her grandmother, she can’t help but think that Granny Raine’s knows more than she’s letting on. So for most of the novel, I was flip-flopping on Granny. One one hand, the snotty Southern Belle seems above murder. On the other hand, she hates Ruthie and it looks like she’s up to something that may benefit her immensely if Ruthie is out of the way. 
Here’s why I love this little gem:
  • Emma Lee’s weirdness. It’s a small town and a lot of the residents are skeptical about Emma Lee’s ability to see ghosts. So what does one do? Play it up and stay being weird! 
  • Speaking of Sleepy Hollow residents, they are funny and hella entertaining! It’s annoying in real life, but on paper, all the gossping, posturing, petty rivalries and what-not had me giggle snorting continuously through A GHOSTLY UNDERTAKING
  • I love small-town cozy mysteries. It’s easy/hard to be a sleuth when your suspects are people you’ve known all your life. On the same token, it’s hard to keep secrets when the whole town is watching. 
  • The plot of A GHOSTLY UNDERTAKING is simple with enough complications to make the novel engaging. TKappes kept the tone light for the most part. 
  • TKappes didn’t make a big deal out of Emma Lee’s ability. I thought she’s going to make things complicated by making a spectacle out of Emma Lee by making her a pariah of some sort because of her abilities. TKappes kept in on the DL, no dramatic revelations here as far as that is concerned. 
  • Instead, the emphasis on the drama revolved around Ruthie, Granny Raines, and the man they both shared. Darn it! I wish Earl Payne was still alive, I sure would’ve liked to see this old dude’s smooth mooves!
  • Romance was light and cute. Emma Lee and the Sherriff still has a long ways to go but I love a good courtship!
  • Lastly, I was awe struck when the identity of the killer was revealed. Like literally. Hilarious!
Watch out for:
  • Emma Lee needs to grow more as a character. She might be the heroine of the novel but she wasn’t the one steering the story, if you get my drift. I’m sure we’ll see more of this growth in the next novel now that she knows her gift is legit and she’s not crazy.

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Tonya Kappes has written more than fifteen novels and four novellas, all of which have graced numerous bestseller lists including USA Today. Best known for stories charged with e motion and humor and filled with flawed characters, her novels have garnered reader praise and glowing critical reviews. She lives with her husband, two very spoiled schnauzers, and one ex-stray cat in northern Kentucky. More than anything, Tonya loves to connect with readers, and has a ‘street team’ of fans and followers on social media. Be sure to check out her Facebook, Twitter, blog and newsletter!

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