Saturday, February 4, 2023

Cozy Mystery Book Review: Vampires and Villains by Elizabeth Pantley

This morning, I have a cozy mystery novel to share! Check out Vampires and Villains from the Magical Mystery Book Club series by Elizabeth Pantley, read my thoughts on the book and learn about the author!

Vampires and Villains by Elizabeth Pantley Banner

Vampires and Villains
by Elizabeth Pantley

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Genre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery
Published by: Better Beginnings, Inc.
Publication Date: September 2022
Number of Pages: 219
ISBN: 9798849790657
Series: Magical Mystery Book Club #2

about the book

Paige and her joyful Aunt Glo have learned that the home they inherited comes with a magical library. They put together a book club group of loveable kooks to explore the magic. They’ve recovered from their first book journey, and they all agree on their next book which takes place on a cruise ship bound for Hawaii. Problem is, they were so excited about the cruising idea that they didn’t read the entire blurb on the back of the book. (“It was entirely too long,” explains Zell.) 

Once on the ship, they meet a charming and likeable man who blends seamlessly into their motley group. Too bad they don’t know why he’s so scarce during the day but shows up to join them every evening for dinner, drinks, and a show. When a dead body shows up on board, their new friend is labeled a suspect. Can they help him out by finding the real murderer? Or is he the real murderer? The book club will need to solve the case to get off the ship, out of the book, and back to their home.

Praise for Vampires and Villains:

"another delightful Magical Mystery Book Club cozy murder mystery read" -Avonna Loves Genres


read an excerpt

“Here’s one with a cruise ship on the cover,” yelled Forrest. “It’s called Havoc in Hawaii.”

“Yes!” squealed Sebastian, doing a little jig. “I loooove Hawaii!”

Zell marched up to Forrest and he handed her the book. She began to scan the back cover and mumble, “Cruise … adventure … tropical islands …”

“Ah. The blurb is too long. I’m sure this will do!” She flipped the book open and before we could stop her, she began to read.

“Zell! Stop reading!” Vee yelled. “We don’t even know what the mystery is about yet—”

It was too late. The globe turned golden until it shone like the sun. It began to spin, faster and faster, the speed increasing by the moment. Sparks began to shoot from it, and the room slowly filled with fog until we could no longer see. In the quiet fog-filled room, Million’s thunderous gasp of a string of bad words made us all laugh.

As the dense fog continued to fill the library, we all became perfectly still and silent. Waiting. Wondering. What would be next? The silence finally gave way to the excited chatter of a crowd around us. Once the air was cleared, we found ourselves in a boarding line, heading onto a majestic, glittering cruise ship. Its name was painted across the bow: Serendipity of the Seas.

The air was warm, humid, and smelled of tropical flowers. Beyond the glass enclosed walkway that snaked back and forth toward the ship we could see palm trees and blue skies.

“Looks like we’re embarking right in Hawaii,” said Zell.

“Most likely Honolulu,” added Million.

“Probably Pier 2,” said Zell with a look of superiority.

“Looks busy today. I’d say we’re using the alternate terminal at Pier 11.” Million looked smug, as if he’d just won that round of their game of one-upmanship.

“This is so exciting!” squealed Sebastian. “And look at my outfit!” He did a spin showing off his crisp khaki trousers, an aloha shirt airbrushed with colorful bird-of-paradise flowers, and beige espadrilles.

We had all arrived in clothing that wasn’t ours but was suitable for the trip. The only person who looked perfectly normal was Moonbeam, except that the type of flowers displayed on her kaftan were more tropical than hippie. Even Forrest was decked out in a Hawaiian print shirt, though his was teen-appropriate, worn open over a white t-shirt, and set off with a stylish pair of sunglasses.

“Isn’t anyone weirded out about our clothes changing?” asked Vee.

“Hold up, Vee-Vee,” said Frank, sporting a floral print scarf around his neck. “You’re okay with plopping into a mystery book and solving a murder case, but you think it’s weird that your clothes have changed?”

“If you put it that way.” She shrugged.

Glo called out over her shoulder. “We’re almost to the front of the line!” She was leading the group and trotting so fast we could barely keep up with her. Her beach-print sundress was fluttering in the breeze behind her. My aunt loved adventures and having fun, and this was certainly both.

As soon as we were over the gangway the crowd split into two directions. Photo stations were set up on both sides with a screen shot of a Hawaiian beach, the Serendipity of the Seas cruise ship in the background, and a banner over the top saying “Welcome Aboard!” A photographer’s assistant was placing a lei around each passenger.

“Wait up, Glo! Veer to the right!” Zell shouted, then she turned toward us. “You need to pick your photographer wisely.”

“Yeah,” said Million, nodding in agreement. “Cuz they charge an arm and a leg for those photos, but you can’t resist buying them.”

“You’ve got the millions, so spend a few,” laughed Sebastian.

“Who told you I got millions?” Our newest member turned to Sebastian with a scowl.

“As I was saying,” Zell said. “You want the best one. See that guy on the left. He’s boring and bland. Looks like he’d rather be somewhere else. People are barely smiling for him. His assistant is passing out wilted leis. Now, that guy on the right – he’s the life of the party. Even his assistant is doing a little dance to the music. He’s joking, he’s talking. Everybody’s laughing. Makes for a great photo.”

“Plus, he looks like Mr. Bean. Makes you laugh before he even opens his mouth,” said Moonbeam.

“Who’s Mr. Bean, Mom?” asked Forrest.

“Google him, honey.”

A moment later Forrest chuckled. “He does look like Mr. Bean!”

“Hey! You have cell service. Good deal,” said Vee. “Means a contemporary setting, right, Zell?”

“Yeppers!” Zell nodded vigorously. “… as far as I know.” Her voice faded off at the end.

We were at the front of the line where Glo was eagerly waiting. “Picture time!” She was bouncing on the toes of her cork-wedge sandals – a pair she’d never buy for herself, though she was obviously enjoying them.

“Howdy folks!” called the photographer, Mr. Bean’s twin, with a name tag that said Grant Perkins, USA. “Welcome aboard!”


Excerpt from Vampires and Villains by Elizabeth Pantley. Copyright 2022 by Elizabeth Pantley. Reproduced with permission from Elizabeth Pantley. All rights reserved.


my review


Vampires and Villains Offers a Unique Twist on the Usual Cozy Mystery. As a book lover, I loved the idea of stepping into a book club book and solving the mystery of that book as the plot of this novel. As a paranormal mystery fan, the supernatural elements of this mystery caught my interest too! The author brings an assortment of unique characters together with hints of magic while still keeping a light, cozy, mystery feel.


This Book Continues a Series. The author jumps right into the story in the second book of her Magical Mystery Book Club series without really explaining some of the characters and some of the magical happenings and revelations of Book 1. Unfortunately, I didn't read the first book in the series, so I was a little lost at the beginning of this book. (For a bit, I thought that the cast of characters was all talking cats.) Once I pieced together the characters and settled into the writing style, I enjoyed the book. I would have loved the book from the start if I had read the first book of the series and known what the series' storyline was all about.



Would I Recommend Vampires and Villains by Elizabeth Pantley? I loved this book once I pieced together the series's characters and paranormal elements. The author does a beautiful job pulling readers into both the primary novel setting and the book club world the characters enter for their mystery-solving adventure. I recommend reading the first book first as the author doesn't waste a lot of time with recaps and re-introductions with this book. With entertaining characters and a fun, well-developed mystery, and settings--this is a unique, cozy mystery novel that will please both paranormal mystery fans and the usual cozy mystery crowd. I look forward to reading more from this series--and catching up with the first book I missed.

buy the book

 Amazon | Goodreads


about the author

Elizabeth Pantley

Elizabeth Pantley says that writing her several Mystery and Magic book series is the most fun she's ever had at work. Fans of the series say her joy is evident through the engaging stories she tells. Elizabeth is also the international bestselling author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and twelve other books for parents. Her books have been published in over twenty languages. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, a beautiful inspiration for her enchanted worlds.

catch up with the author
BookBub - @DestinyFalls
Instagram - @destinyfallsmystery
Facebook - @DestinyFallsMysteryandMagic


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  1. Thanks for the review! Can't wait to read this series!

  2. Thank you for the great review - glad you enjoyed the story. Now that you know everybody, you can dive into book 3 -- and book 4 is coming Feb 15th! This club has lots of journeys in their future. Thx for the spotlight! :)