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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I have to admit upfront that I'm not a big fan of ghosts or paranormal stories. They just aren't usually my thing, but I'm a huge Odelia Gray fan and would follow Sue Ann Jaffarian's writing anywhere. So I was pleasantly surprised to really like Emma Whitecastle. I like that she's a single mom who's middle-aged and trying to figure her life out. She's somewhat at the mercy of her parents and her famous ex-husband, but over the course of the book, starts to stand up for herself, with a little help from her many years dead great-great-great grandmother Granny Apples, aka Ish Reynolds, who she barely knows anything about at the beginning of the book. When Emma finds herself craving apple pie (what Granny Apples is known for) and feeling a chill in the air, she comes to realize, albeit reluctantly, that her ancestor needs her help, and, more importantly, deserves it, having gone down in history for murdering her husband, which she insists she didn't do.

Jaffarian weaves history and mystery together beautifully as Emma first gets accustomed to seeing ghosts, then has to figure out which are friendly and which aren't. Combine that with a spooky cemetery and some determined gold-diggers, and Emma's in danger, though she keeps poking and poking. She befriends a man who at first is wary of her, and Jaffarian weaves their budding romance into this historical whodunit. Once again, Jaffarian takes characters who aren't always heard from in our society (even though Granny Apples is actually fairly young, I couldn't help picturing her as elderly since she's been dead over a hundred years), such as those getting divorced, and turns them into intriguing characters I look forward to reading more about. Her note at the end of the book letting readers know they can take their own tour of Julian, California, the setting for Ghost a la Mode, adds a fun footnote.

Perhaps what's most impressive is that Jaffarian makes her ghostly characters as varied and fascinating as her living ones. We don't get to meet them for long stretches of time (they have to "recharge") but, coming from another era, give a little insight into what life was like at the time. The family dynamics here are also interesting as Emma grapples with being close to her parents while not following their advice to the letter. Seeing how Granny Apples interacts with Emma, their similarities and differences, as well as their struggles, was also a great delight in this mystery. Emma is also different enough from Odelia Gray to make this series stand out on its own.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2009
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
After four successful Odelia Grey mysteries, Sue Ann Jaffarian has turned from the paralegal to the paranormal in her new Ghost of Granny Apples series. And while her characters are fresh and unusual, they are every bit as fascinating and likable.
With her divorce nearly final and her daughter about to leave for college, forty-something Emma Whitecastle is at loose ends. So when an old girlfriend begs Emma to join her at a séance, as part of a research project, she accepts.
At the séance, Clairvoyant Milo Ravenscroft tells Emma that a ghost from her family's past needs her help - a woman who was hanged for murder. At first Emma laughs at the idea, wondering what kind of scam the man is running. But when she suddenly starts craving apple pie and her father admits that her three-times-great grandmother - executed for killing her husband - once lived in the apple-growing town of Julian, Emma is unnerved.
But it's a visit from Granny Apples' ghost - insisting that she's innocent - that convinces Emma to investigate the murder. What she discovers as she digs into Julian's history stirs up a hornet's nest of ghosts and villains who want Emma dead and gone.
Jaffarian's talent for writing intriguing plots and cliffhanger chapters excels in the new series, and her vivid scenes of ghostly appearances and conversations are imaginative and often hilarious. There's even a touch of romance. Granny Apples is just what the doctor ordered.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I bought the book because I love Odelia and wanted to see how a "new" character and book would be. After the first chapter I was hooked! I even finished reading the last few pages at work. I knew it would bother me to wait until lunch to finish it! The characters in the book become real - I love this as much (or more) than her other books!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Emma Whitecastle is attempting to get on with her life after a divorce. She joins her friend at a seance one night only to be followed home by a ghost. It's through this strange event that Emma learns she is a clairvoyant. And the ghost is her great-great-great grandmother.

Ish Reynolds, affectionately known as Granny Apples because of her pies, was accused of murder and lynched back in the late 1800's. But she was innocent and has been waiting for someone to prove it. At first reluctantly, Emma heads down to Julian to do some poking around. What she finds makes her think that Granny was telling the truth. But can Emma prove it after all these years?

I almost passed on this book because I try to avoid supernatural themed mysteries. That would have been a mistake. This cross of fantasy and mystery is fun. The historic and modern characters were all real. And the story was entertaining from start to finish. I had a hard time putting it down. I enjoy history, so even though this has a modern setting and is more focused on the modern characters, I still enjoyed the bits of history thrown into the story.

Unfortunately, the book did have two of my pet peeves. The ending was weaker than I would have liked. And the point of view shifted a few times within the same scene. Both of these were minor irritants in the course of the book, however.

I fairly flew through this book, not wanting to put it down when other things came up. It looks like the author has another hit series on her hands.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
It's tough trying to clear your name. Especially when you're dead. "Ghost Ala Mode: A Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery" is the story of a Ghost of a Grandmother and her great great great granddaughter Emma, as they try to put to rest the claim that Granny Apples murdered her husband all those years ago. Tortured by her unjust rap, Granny Apples only wants her name to be cleared, and the Ghost's desire makes for an intriguing and highly original mystery.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I will be honest with you and tell you that I am not overly fond of paranormal fiction. The first ones I read were Mary Shelly's Frankenstein and Bram Stoker's Dracula when I was in high school. I was not overly fond of either. There have been a few others over the years but I cannot even remember their titles so you can see the deep impression they made on me. I suppose the few Stephen King books I have read should counted here, but truth be told, I have not been thrilled with most of his work either, most of it being a bit too harsh for my taste.

What I do like though are cozy mysteries; well written ones. I downloaded the book being reviewed here on a complete whim; besides it was free and I am not one to pass-up free stuff. Wow, was I in for a pleasing surprise!

Yes, this is a cozy mystery with ghosts in it; real ghosts!

Emma Whitecastle is going through a rather nasty divorce and her marriage of about 20 year is ending. Her daughter is about to leave for collage and Emma is at loose ends. She attends a séance with a good friend and low and behold is contacted by a ghost - a family member, Granny Apples, who is Emma Great-great-great grandmother. It seems that Granny Apples was hung for the murder of her husband back in the late 1800s and she wants Emma to find the truth and let the world know she did not do this foul deed. Emma discovers that she, along with her dog, have the ability to talk with the dead. And the investigation and search is on....There are bad guys, good guys and of course a love interest.

I can't tell you more of the plot because I don't want to leave any spoilers here or ever.

The location is in rural California just north of San Diego, and takes place in a town that actually exists; Julian, California. The author has assured us that each and every detail in her story as to the town and surrounding country is absolutely accurate and you can visit the very sights mention in the book.

Anyway, I have to tell you that the author, Sue Ann Jaffarian can write and write well. She weaves a good story and is obviously a master story teller. I was hooked after the first three pages of this novel and it turned out to be one of those reads that was almost impossible for me to put down.

As with all good cozies, the violence is mild and there is little of it. The language is quite civilized and the few cuss words that were used can readily be heard in my barn or workshop when I am alone...nothing very offensive and very little of even that. The story has plenty of little twists and turns - just enough to keep you thinking and just a bit off balance. One of the author's strengths is her descriptive abilities and handling of dialog...something I find lacking in some of the cozy mysteries I read all the time for relaxation. Despite there being ghosts in this story, it is actually believable and quite logical. One of the best characters in this book is Granny Apple herself; a rather blunt spoken, feisty and smart little lady ghost.

Jaffarian has already written one well received series and I see that she has continued this one with at least two more books that I can find. As soon as I can scrape together enough coinage I plan to continue with this series and am most certainly looking forward to it.

It is so nice to find cozies that you like and enjoy!

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
I've never read any other books by Ms. Jaffarian, but I can confidentially say that this first book in her new series is a refreshingly sweet, yet mysterious, and easy read. It's not just a mere mystery because it goes beyond the normal "who dun it?" and adds a splash of humorous paranormal entertainment and a bit of romance to the mix. The characters were solid, believable and likable, even the "bad" ones were well described and kept your attention, of course granny was a great character and it even made me want to have a friendly ghost/granny (who gives off that sassy no nonsense vibe even from the "other side") following me around assisting me with my daily activities! This is a must read for not only those who are fans of the mystery genre and it even goes beyond a traditional paranormal genre too by not taking either genre too seriously, almost on the lines of the "chick lit" genre, with fun characters and an equally pleasant plot that shouldn't be missed. I'm definitely looking forward to the next book in the series, and maybe you will too once you read this story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I enjoyed this book so much. It took me away from the details of life and let me dream about doing something else. Love books that can do this. Her characters are fun and interesting. I have always been fascinated with history and really like how she blends today and yesterday.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
Highly enjoyable characters and setting. I liked the fact that Julian is a real town (I've been there) and the supernatural are mixed together. The characters are likeable. It's a light mystery (no violence)/romance. Looking forward to the next in the series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book was hilarious while it maintained that aire of mystery. I can guess "who-dunnit" about 50% of the time so it kept me guessing all the way to the end. I will definitly be checking out more of the Granny Apple series of books.
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