Tag: Fiction

Author Interview and Book Review: The Prophet by Amanda Stevens

Posted April 23, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 7 Comments

Title: The Prophet

Author: Amanda Stevens

Publisher: Harlequinn Mira

Publication Date: April 2012

Genre: Adult Mystery/Paranormal Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book Three



Synopsis can be found here.
NetGalley review.


Review:
Amelia Gray returns to Charleston after an ordeal at Asher Falls. Being back in her town, she is ready to start work again and continue on with her life. But a ghost of a murdered cop has other plans for her. As she begins her investigation, all ties lead back to her cop, John Devlin. The man she loved and left behind. The man with his ghosts, ghosts who won’t leave Amelia alone.


A fantastic book to the Graveyard Queen series.
While books one and two read more like ghost stories, this one veered more into detective story drama. Make no mistake, the ghosts are still there and still as dangerous and down right scary as the previous installments. But this book had a different feeling, not at all unwelcome.
Amelia is investigating the murder of a copy, and in the process, investigating Devlin too. Who is he really? And how will the information she uncover change her relationship with him?


I love the third book. Amelia is still strong and clever character, real and complex. Her range of emotions is every bit believable. I loved her mixed emotions towards Devlin, this other woman who keeps showing up, her fear of uncovering the truth and what that means. The answer is right there, just outside her grasp until the very end, which makes this a very enjoyable story. 
And yes, dear readers. Our friend Devlin is back in all of his complicated, tortured glory. You may have missed him in Book Two, I know I did. His character goes through a lot in this story and by the end, I was wishing book four was available already just to see how Devlin is doing.
The storyline has some great surprises. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll leave it at that. But I want to say everyone has some greyness to them, which makes these characters and their story so much more interesting.


I devoured this book. Do yourself a favor, buy the series. Sit down with some tea and a blanket and start
reading. Oh, and clear your weekend. You’ll be glad you did.


Rating 10 One of The Best


 Author Interview with Amanda Stevens!












Thank you Amanda for stopping by!


What inspired you to become a writer?
Not a what but a who. Mary Stewart. I’ve always loved her romantic suspense novels and have read them so many times I can recite first lines by heart, lol. I credit her for giving me a love of visual writing. Her imagery is breathtaking, her descriptions so vivid and lush it’s like being transported to Crete or Delphi or Damascus.
A few years ago, my writing took a distinct turn into what I call creepy Southern fiction. It’s no accident this change came about after I saw The Gift, a paranormal thriller starring Cate Blanchett. The movie made such an impression that I decided right then and there I wanted to delve more deeply into my own Southern roots for inspiration.
There is also a book from my childhood that had a major impact on my writing—The Diamond in the Window, my first foray into paranormal fantasy and I loved it. 

What was the last book you read?
Die for Me, a young adult by Amy Plum about a group of revenants in Paris. Currently, I’m reading Practical Magical by Alice Hoffman. I never read it before and I’m a little taken aback at how different it is from the movie. Although that’s almost always the case so I don’t know why I’m surprised.

What sparked the idea for The Graveyard Queen series?
I really, really wanted to try my hand at a paranormal mystery/romance and I wanted my protagonist to have an unusual occupation, one that would be paramount to the story. So I Googled strange jobs and up popped cemetery restorer. It was the perfect vocation for the character I had in mind and the tagline—Every cemetery has a story; every grave, its secrets—practically wrote itself.

Amelia Gray is a cemetery restorer. I loved all of the shop talk! What kind of research did you do to become familiar with this line of work?
Exploring old cemeteries has always been a passion of mine so you can imagine how much fun I have researching these stories. Plus, there’s a wealth of information about cemetery restoration and graveyard folklore literally at my fingertips on the Internet. The deeper I dug (pun intended), the more fascinated I became with headstone symbolism and burial traditions, and I knew I had to put all of that to good use in the series.

Amelia also sees ghosts. I loved the Southern setting of your novels, the old ghost cities and the Gothic tone. How did you decide to set the series in Charleston? And did you talk to or interview any people who claim they can see ghosts? You know, for research purposes?
As I mentioned earlier, I made a conscious decision to return to my Southern roots in my writing and the setting just seemed a natural fit for these stories. I’d visited Charleston a few years ago and remembered it having some of the most beautiful graveyards I’d ever seen. I mention in The Restorer that if New Orleans is midnight, Charleston is twilight, all soft and misty and mysterious. The perfect place for ghosts.
I talked to several people who’ve had paranormal experiences, including a childhood friend. One incident she recounted freaked me out so thoroughly that it inspired one of the creepier scenes in The Kingdom.

John Devlin, dreamy haunted cop and love interest, appears again for The Prophet. In fact, the third book is mainly based around his past. How did you envision his character at the beginning and has he changed in your mind from The Restorer, Book One?
He really hasn’t changed from my initial vision at all! He and Amelia were firmly ingrained in my head at the very start of the series, and I knew their back stories—hers is revealed in The Kingdom, his in The Prophet—before I ever wrote a word. But there are still more secrets to be revealed for both of them, so stay tuned!

All of the characters in your series are well developed and may I say, a little bit haunting. Who is your favorite character to write?
Amelia. I definitely relate to her, although I don’t see ghosts, lol. But I’m a bit of a loner and I tend to live inside my own head. I also really like Dr. Shaw. That man has some deep, dark secrets and I can’t wait to revisit him in Book Four.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing your novels?
I’d never written a continuing character series before so the challenge was in keeping the stories fresh and the characters interesting and evolving. That’s why I took Amelia out of Charleston for the second book. I needed to shake things up a bit.

How do you like your potato?
Mashed with garlic and chives. Southern comfort food. Yum.

Do you have a favorite literary character?
Oh, that’s a great question! It’s hard to beat Sherlock Holmes for a mystery lover like me. He’s just so clever and moody and eccentric! Bohemian, according to Watson (another great character, btw).
Years and years ago I read a fantasy series called The Eternal Champion by Michael Moorcock. The hero was an albino warrior named Elric. Loved him.
This may be cheating a bit since I’m basing my admiration on the character in the movie rather than the film novelization, but Ellen Ripley from Alien is one of the strongest protagonists ever created, a real female hero rather than a heroine.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
Read, watch movies, play on the Internet, go for long walks. I like to travel, too, when time permits. I have a road trip to Marfa, Texas, coming up which will kick off the research for a new series.

Will there be more Graveyard Queen stories with Devlin and Amelia? (I hope so!)
Yes! I’ve sold three more books in the series. I’m so excited!

And what new books are you working on now?
I’m currently working on the fourth Graveyard Queen story tentatively titled, The Keeper. I’m also plotting the first book of my new YA series for Harlequin Teen.

And what is the one question you always wish someone would ask you, but haven’t yet? (Answer too please!)
If I could go back and start my life over, what would I be. I posed that question on my Facebook wall once and the responses were so interesting, but no one asked me, lol. The answer is…I’d work for the FBI. Not as a profiler or field agent, but as one of those geeky researchers that hole up in windowless cubicles pouring over mountains of data looking for the most obscure clue that would break the case. 


Thanks for stopping by Amanda!
Looking forward to reading more Graveyard Queen books and your new YA series!

You can visit Amanda Stevens here or follow her on Twitter at @AmandaStevensTX

Posted April 23, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 7 Comments


Book Review: Emerald City by Alicia K. Leppert

Posted April 12, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Title: Emerald City

Author: Alicia K. Leppert

Publisher: Sweetwater Books

Publication Date: April 2012

Genre: Adult/YA

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One


Synopsis can be found here.
NetGalley review.

Review:

After a traumatic event, Olivia’s life has spiraled out of control. One day, she finds herself taking her own life. Or at least, trying to. Instead, she wakes up in a hospital, and is told her neighbor has rescued her. A neighbor she never knew she had.

Jude introduces himself as the neighbor who saved her. While Olivia is skeptical at first, Jude quickly breaks down her walls and they find themselves becoming fast friends. Maybe more. But there’s too much Olivia doesn’t know about Jude. What is he hiding? And how did he rescue her? She was in her bedroom, and thought she had locked her door…

I wasn’t sure what to categorize Emerald City as. At the beginning of the book, I would categorize it as Adult, but as the story continued, I noticed how the voice changed to YA. So maybe it’s some sort of cross.

Olivia is a complex character. She is severely depressed when the novel opens and through the story, she is on this very long and difficult journey. But don’t let her fool you. She grows into this very strong and thoughtful character. Anyone who has ever known someone who deals with depression will find the story very real. It can be difficult to read as it’s very heavy and sad, but that just makes her transformation stronger.

Of course, Jude is wonderful. Soft spoken, true and totally beautiful, I knew his secret pretty early on. But that didn’t take away from the story. I looked forward to seeing how Olivia would handle Jude’s secrets and enjoyed their natural friendship.

I read this book slowly, enjoying the language and the heavy tone. It has a slow, liquid feel, watching nature happen. Very organic and real. The main characters were true to themselves and weren’t forced. Events didn’t happen too quickly. Well paced and emotion.
Jude is far from safe, and Olivia is becoming the fighter I know she can be. I will definitely read future books.

Rating 7 Pretty Cool Would Recommend

Posted April 12, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 4 Comments


Book Review: Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter

Posted March 27, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Title: Goddess Interrupted

Author: Aimee Carter

Publisher: Harlequinn Teen

Publication Date: March 2012

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Myth

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book Two



Synopsis can be found here.
NetGalley review.

Review:
Kate Winters has married her love, Henry, also known as God of the Underworld Hades. But the life she was hoping far seems to be dissolving away as Henry becomes more and more distant. And then, the unthinkable happens and he is kidnapped. Kate must muster all of her strength and courage to save him, and face their linked past. Because the one person who can help them, is his ex-wife, Persephone.

Can I just say that I don’t know why I waited to read The Goddess Test? Book one was such an amazing adventure, I immediately started Book Two as soon as I was done. And it did not disappoint.

Kate matures by leaps and bounds in this book. I loved her growth and I think I love this sequel MORE than the original. There. I said it. She stars out with this idea of marriage and love, and is totally confused by the aloofness and hesitation Henry offers her. I enjoyed reading her thought process in regards to her own insecurities and her dreams about Henry. I thought she became this really beautifully strong woman by the end, powerful and accepting. Hmm, just like a queen should be.

Henry is of course, the classic tortured hero. He pulls away from Kate, both for his own selfish reasons and in a lame effort to protect her. Or is it because he’s still in love with his ex-wife Persephone? I absolutely loved the drama between these two characters. Henry is so much older than Kate, complete with all of his own insecurities and baggage. It was heartbreaking and emotional to read their conversations- they were so totally true and real to me. Sometimes, we have to accept that the person is loving us the best they know how and this is true for Kate and Henry. Kate’s ideas of their marriage and partnership are very different than how Henry is acting. Add in Persephone to the mix and all hell breaks loose.

The book broke my heart several times, and knit the pieces back together. Besides loving the ups and downs between Henry and Kate, I loved the other characters coming to play. We had more information on other members of the family, how they react, who are married, who were married… It created a full family dynamic.

And the end…
WHAT?! What! What!?!

Well, thankfully Book Three will be out in October. Seven long months away. Until then, I’ll try to be content with re-reading books one and two.

Rating 10 One of The Best

Posted March 27, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments


Book Review: The Replacement Wife by Eileen Goudge

Posted March 26, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 1 Comment

Title: The Replacement Wife

Author: Eileen Goudge

Publisher: Open Road Media

Publication Date: March 2012

Genre: Adult Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here.
Netgalley review.

Review:


Camille, matchmaker by trade, wife and mother of two, has been informed that she has terminal cancer. After her last war with cancer only a little while ago, she finds herself facing the inevitable- death and a severe and traumatic loss for her husband and children. 
So what does she do?
Put her matchmaking skills to good use to find her replacement.
Only what she finds isn’t what she’s looking for.

I have very mixed feelings about this book.
The story is complicated, with a lot of revolving characters. All of them were well crafted, full and interesting. The secondary characters had a lot of time on the page and I was easily absorbed into each of their dramas and searches for love. 
The writing is smooth and easy. Goudge knows how to draw her readers in and keep them there. I couldn’t put the book down all weekend. The effortlessly spun tale was suddenly all around me and I couldn’t escape it; I was fully absorbed in the novel.  I had to know what happens.

That said, I had a hard time with the characters. 
First I should make it known I knew it was going to be a sensitive subject for me. While I could deduce from the synopsis this story was going to have a lot of ups and downs, overall, marital discord is not one of my favorite topics. (I still have a very uneasy feeling thinking about reading Revolutionary Road, three years ago. Don’t even get me started on the film.)

Camille, while her intentions may be good, is incredibly unlikeable. She suffers from martyrdom and guilt at the same time, laying blame to her faithful and honorable husband for her suffering. Snippets of their marriage are inserted through the novel, layering their complicated relationship and struggles through her sickness. All of these were hard to swallow, bearing witness to the elated happiness which was contrasted by the current state of their union.

Being married myself, and the jealous type, I cannot fathom taking the steps she took in order to ensure her family’s happiness once she is gone. I could not relate to her. But still, and this goes for Goudge’s writing, I was still rooting for her. Up till the very end. Even when I couldn’t stand her.

Her husband, Edward, seems too good to be true. And as the novel continues, his confusion and anger is something I could relate to. His wife is dying and she wants to pawn another women onto him, whether he wants one or not. 

Without giving too much away, the third character I sympathized with was not someone I thought I would. I’m not sure if that’s because Goudge made her so full and real, or if I was so sick of Camille and her meddling “good intentions”. Maybe a little bit of both. 

Overall, The Replacement Wife is a well written, complex novel about life, love and the choices we make. But it still felt to me like a car crash. I felt a sick and twisted feeling watching it unfold, but I could not look away. That is excellent writing. 

Rating 8 Cookie Worthy

Posted March 26, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 1 Comment


Book Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

Posted January 23, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

Title: Tempest

Author: Julie Cross

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: January 2012

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One

Synopsis can be found here.
Netgalley review.

Review:

If you love time travel, and your head is in no danger of exploding, Tempest is a fun, fast read! Jackson, our narrator, discovers he can jump through time. Not a big jump, only by a couple of days at the most. And even though he may change things in the past, it doesn’t seem to really affect his future. Does it?

One day, under duress, Jackson does the unimaginable. He jumps not a few days, but a couple of years into the past. And now can’t get back. Time is running out, a group of unknowns are hunting him and he has to get back to his present day. Because his girlfriend Holly is in danger, and Jackson may have just left her to die.

I love books about time travel and this one is no exception. Cross’s new take is fresh and changes the rules. Forget everything you think you know about time travel. Yes, you’ll have to read that explanation again. Yep. It’s ok. I did too.
But once you get the hang of it, it is pretty awesome.

There are some moments of real danger when I couldn’t put the book down, reading long into the night. (Did I mention I am a morning person and have a relatively strict bedtime?) While a few of the explanations/big reveals weren’t quite what I hoped for, I wasn’t disappointed either. Just go with it. It’s time travel. Anything can happen.

Jackson is a likeable character. I totally fell into his world easily. That said, his voice seems a lot older than a nineteen year old boy. I feel like he could have been in his mid twenties at least. He doesn’t exhibit a lot of teenage behavior, besides some general intimacy issues.
I am left a little cold by Holly, but I hope we get to see more of her character in the future novels. There’s nothing wrong with her, but there’s nothing interesting about her either. She’s the pretty, supportive, kept-in-the-dark girlfriend who Jackson has to save. I want more personality, more umph from Holly. I hope her character develops more in book two.

Do you know who is awesome though? Jackson’s dad. I won’t reveal any spoilers, but you can bet that Jackson’s dad is a major part of the book. And he is my favorite character!

Overall, Tempest is a wonderful ride. It’s already been picked up by Summit Entertainment and no wonder, the book moves in such a way there’s no mistaking the potential for a film. One note- cover love. I love the dark clouds, the faceless figures flying through the sky, trying to reach each other. The pink lettering of the title against the grey sky. Striking.

Go read the book before the film.


Rating 7 Pretty Cool Would Recommend

Posted January 23, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments


Book Review: A Touch of Power (Healer #1) by Maria V. Snyder

Posted January 19, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 1 Comment

Title: A Touch of Power

Author: Maria V. Snyder

Publisher: Mira

Publication Date: December 2011

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One
Synopsis can be found here.

Netgalley review.

Review: 
I enjoyed Maria Snyder’s Insider series so was excited to get a galley for this new one.

Avry, the last healer alive after the plague, is on the run. Everywhere she goes, she is hunted. She tries to slip in and out of towns, but she can’t go very far before she decides to heal someone. And this time, she is captured.

On the night before her death, she is rescued by a mysterious stranger named Kerrick, who kidnaps her and takes her on a perilous journey over the Nine Mountains to save a King. But Avry doesn’t want to save the King. And she will do everything she can to get away. That is, until she spends time with Kerrick and his band of misfits running from being hunted by another man who will use her power to his advantage. She begins to wonder if maybe, just maybe, she doesn’t want to run from them at all.

I enjoyed Touch of Power way more than I thought I was going to. I sat down one night, really exhausted after work, and thought I only had it in me to read a couple of pages or two.
I was still reading an hour later.

Kerrick’s band of men are fun, warm and a good comic relief. I have mixed feelings about Kerrick. Although he does redeem himself to me by the end, I do have a slight problem when the love interest is especially brutal to the heroine before he falls for her. It’s a little too Stockholm syndrome for me, especially that Kerrick has in fact kidnapped her in order to bring her to his King.

Avry is trying her best when saddled with a huge responsibility- being the last Healer in the Realms. Will she heal a King she doesn’t believe in? What if it ends the war? Her bravery is what I liked most about her. She is selfless, without being a oh-woe-is-me.

I liked the world the story was in, but felt like it was barely there. I wanted more history, more information on this magical place, before and after the plague. And more on the Death and Peace Lilies. Such a creative idea! Tohon, the man hunting Avry, is sadly the least fleshed out of the characters. Yes, he’s evil, with an evil mind and an evil plan. But I don’t get the sense of him having more depth than what he is supposed to be- the bad guy.

Overall, Touch of Power is a fun, fast read filled with adventure. I’m glad there is going to be a second book!

Rating 8 Cookie Worthy

Posted January 19, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 1 Comment


Book Review: Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Posted January 9, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 8 Comments

Title: Every Other Day

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Publisher: Egmont USA

Publication Date: December 2011

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: n/a

Synopsis can be found here.
Netgalley review.

Review: Well, that kicked my butt.

Kali is special. Every twenty-four hours, she changes from normal girl to demon hunter and back again. She doesn’t know why. She can’t ask her mother, who left her when she was three. She can’t ask her dad, who barely notices her as it is. And she might have a hero complex.  She’s a hunter of things that go bump in the night, and now someone may be hunting her. No, it’s not that simple. It’s totally spin-yourself-around and stand-on-your-head complex by the end of it. Yeah you’re going to want to read this.
Through a series of rash decisions, Kali finds herself a group of loyal friends who may know more than they let on.
There are a lot of characters in this book, but it didn’t bother me at all. Skylar, the loyal best friend, Bethany the cheerleader with hidden depths, Elliot the skeptical brother, Zev…. What IS Zev? Read to find out.
I loved this book. I sat down to read a couple of pages before going to bed and three hours later, I was well on my way to having an addiction. I’ll be honest, I’ll probably read it again just for fun. It’s THAT good.
This isn’t a typical teenager swooning over a mysterious boy. It’s more about friendship, forming close bonds with people, learning to trust. Throw a couple of zombies in there and you’ve got some awesome.
The mythology and back story are well though out; the pacing is fun, fast and addicting; and Kali’s a strong heroine.  I loved her voice and her sarcasm. She’s a girl you can get behind, kick butt with and root for.  Smart, smart, smart! There were some predictable parts, but they didn’t bother me.

I don’t know if it’s the start of a new series. I hope it is.

So, go on.
Get your butt kicked.


Rating 9, Ridiculously Awesome like Cookies and Ice Cream

Posted January 9, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 8 Comments