The Kingdom – Amanda Stevens

Deep in the shadowy foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies a dying town….

My name is Amelia Gray. They call me The Graveyard Queen. I’ve been commissioned to restore an old cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, but I’m coming to think I have another purpose here.

Why is there a cemetery at the bottom of Bell Lake? Why am I drawn time and again to a hidden grave I’ve discovered in the woods? Something is eating away at the soul of this town—this withering kingdom—and it will only be restored if I can uncover the truth.

I read and reviewed the first book in this series (The Restorer) a year ago, and finally the second book is out! I was so excited when I saw that The Kingdom was coming, and I waited very patiently. It was totally worth the wait.

This book is quite different from the first – not only is Amelia moving onto a new graveyard, but she is moving away from her love interest in the first novel, and away from everything that is familiar and safe.

Asher Falls is in a world of its own. A creepy world that seems to have its own rules and far too many secrets for Amelia’s liking. Very quickly it becomes obvious that everyone is protecting their own interests, and no-one is telling her the full truth of the situation.

Like the first, this book was deliciously dark and beautifully written. I quickly overcame the brief confusion I had at finding that Amelia and Devlin were not an item any longer, and poured myself into the mysteries within these pages. The book this time seems less about the graveyard, and more to do with the skeletons in the towns closet, and what they mean for Amelia. We finally learn more about her parentage and origins, and how she came to have the ability to see, and communicate, with the dead.

Amelia has spent a lot of her life playing by her fathers rules, which have until now kept her safe, but this town, and the people in it (living and dead), have their own agenda’s. Amelia has never been more at risk, and there were plenty of times I was on the edge of my seat, eager to find out how everything would come together at the end.

That said, it’s not a perfect book by any means. Amelia is in danger a lot and she makes some awfully risky decisions. I could understand some of them, but others felt like they were a little bit on the not-so-smart side for a character I felt was pretty savvy in the first book.

However, I still really enjoyed it and went straight from this book to the third in the series, which will be released later this year. I’ll be reviewing that closer to it’s release – but I can tell you that I really enjoyed that one too!

Pure Blood – Melissa Pearl

It is only a matter of time before Gemma’s parents find out she traveled through time to bring Harrison back into existence. The fear of being found out is a heavy weight on her shoulders, but she refuses to give up on everything she’s fought for. Harrison is worth the risk. 

The couple draws closer together as they battle opposing forces from all sides. They stay strong until Gemma’s parents welcome an exchange student into their home. Simeon, a gorgeous Californian, is as smooth as coffee and, supposedly, a fellow time spirit. Gemma’s parents expect her to take him everywhere and, of course, fall in love with him. After all, he is the boy they have chosen for her. 

No longer able to sneak off alone, Gemma must watch every step as she waits for the inevitable nightmare to catch up to her. Her parents ultimate goal is to get that last necklace and open the box hidden in their safe. If they do, Gemma knows her entire world will unravel. 

As the danger mounts, Gemma must decide if she has the courage to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the ones she loves and stop to her parents’ destructive plans.

Pure Blood (Time Spirit Trilogy) is the third and final (for now) book in the series, which finally answers the question that has been threaded throughout books one and two – what are Gemma’s parents up to?

I have to say that I was surprised! I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t this – it’s fabulous when an author can surprise the reader, and I felt like Melissa did. The escalation of violence and erratic behaviour from her parents, and the exchange student they planted into Gemma’s life made things very difficult for her, but those were not the only challenges faced in this book, because Harrison’s mother suddenly goes cold on Gemma, and neither her, or Harrison, can figure out why. The two struggle to figure out who they really are, and what that means for themselves as individuals, as well as a couple.

There were a lot of threads to be tied up in the book, and while some of them were obvious, there were plenty of surprises – not everything is as you might suspect. I don’t really want to say too much, because I would hate to give the ending away, but this is a great finale to the series, and I was really satisfied with how it was wrapped up. Gemma is an amazing girl, and my heart broke for her several times during this book. Still, she stayed true to herself, and pushed on despite the odds. If you’ve read the first two books in this series, then you NEED to read this one. You won’t be disappointed.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Melissa Pearl puts out next, and you can be sure I’ll be grabbing a copy, whatever it turns out to be.

Blackbirds – Chuck Wendig

This is the first novel I’ve read by the author who is probably most famous for his foul-mouthed but fabulous writing advice (I’m currently reading 500 Ways To Be A Better Writer, full of great tips!), Chuck Wendig’s latest book, Blackbirds, is quite frankly, stunning.

Let’s start with the cover. Because OMFG from the moment I saw it I loved it and knew I HAD to read the book. It’s gorgeous.

You can try and tell me that you’re not curious, but I won’t believe you for a second.

Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides. 

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim. 

No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

This is a book right up my alley. Right from the beginning I was caught up in Miriam’s web. She is not a typical character by any means, and her gift, or curse depending on how you want to look at it, means that she sees life in a totally different way from those around her. At times I might not have agreed with her choices, but she was true to herself the whole way through. And when she meets Louis, she is confronted by the kind of life she might  have had, under other circumstances. He is sweet and caring in a world that has treated her badly, and she is the only one who might be able to save him.

This is not a book for everyone: there is a lot of profanity in it, but then, I think it was fitting to the kind of story, and the range of characters included. There is a lot of violence, this is a brutal and intense novel which does not hold back. If you are squeamish, you might want to sit this one out. But if those things don’t bother you so much, then I think you should definitely pick this up. It’s one hell of a ride. Not only is it dark and brutal, but it’s also funny, and sweet in parts. It runs the gamut of human emotion, and Miriam will draw you in almost despite yourself.

There are questions still unanswered about why Miriam can see how people will die, and plenty of room for exploration in her world. Luckily I only have to wait until later in the year for the second installment in this series. Chuck Wendig has secured a place on my ‘must-buy’ authors list.

Black Blood – Melissa Pearl

This is the second book in the Time Spirit series, and it follows close on the heels of the first. Gemma’s parents are hell bent on taking away the one thing she loves – her boyfriend, Harrison – and they go to the greatest lengths to do so by erasing him from history.

Little do they know that doing so will only drive her closer to the Gabe, the mysterious man we were introduced to at the end of the first book, Golden Blood.

Once again Melissa Pearl crafts a really quick paced, easy read. This book will appeal to anyone who enjoys a good paranormal YA. If you have checked out the first book then you definitely need to read this one.

Gemma suffers the ultimate betrayal, and learns that large chunks of her life are based on lies. As she struggles to deal with this, and the loss of Harrison, she is forced to break away from her parents and forge her own path.

I really admire Gemma, she is one hell of a strong character and the times when she could easily have been broken, she dug deep and found a way forward. The love she has for Harrison really shines through in this novel, as does her determination to set things right.

This is a solid second book, and leads really nicely into the final book of the series. I have recently read that as well, and will be posting a review next week.

Dead Harvest

Meet Sam Thornton. He collects souls. 

Sam’s job is to collect the souls of the damned, and ensure they are dispatched to the appropriate destination. But when he’s sent to collect the soul of a young woman he believes to be innocent of the horrific crime that’s doomed her to Hell, he says something no Collector has ever said before. 

“No.”

I love a good ‘damned souls’ novel, so I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this one where Sam is a soul collector. One thing that I really enjoyed was that he has no set body – he nabs those of the recently departed (for the most part) and inhabits them in order to do his job, making him slightly abnormal on the undead scene, who typically jump into the skin of the still living.

It was really interesting to follow a character whose form changed several times throughout the novel, but I really appreciated the way Holm wrote this, so that without being over the top obvious, the reader, and other characters in the novel, could tell who was possessed at any given time.

Sam is a great character, far more moralistic than you would think a denizen of hell should be, and over the course of the novel we find out what it was he did to become a Collector, and how the decisions of his past are impacting on his current job. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, he never sways in his conviction that the girl is innocent, even though he has angels and demons alike coming after him, and everyone else is sure she is guilty.

This is an action packed book with a story line that powers along. The secondary characters are well written and unique and I really had no idea how this one was going to pan out. Well written, and well paced, this was a book it was easy to lose myself in. Dead Harvest is being released this week, and a second in the series (The Wrong Goodbye) is scheduled for later in the year – I will be picking it up!

Dead Radiance – available now!

Sick of vampires and angels? Why not try Dead Radiance with VALKYRIES, and Norse mythology – a nice change from your standard YA paranormal fare.

Meet Bryn, the kick ass leading lady in this debut novel from NZ/South African writer T.G Ayer. Bryn has been in the foster system for years and struggles to trust others, so fearful about appearing crazy that she has to hide the things she sees from everyone else. Until she meets Aidan, that is, and finds it impossible to stop him from getting under her skin.

Conflicted about her budding romance, and freaked out by the reality that those who appear to glow seem destined for death, Bryn struggles to find the answers she needs. It seems like Aidan might be the key to cracking the mystery, until he disappears, leaving her heart broken and confused by the clues he has left behind.

Bryn’s journey takes her to places she had never imagined existed, where she discovers that myths are real and she is marked for a task that seems more impossible than her newly grown wings.

This is a strong first release, and a great start to a series exploring new territory. If you are looking for something new, definitely check this novel out. Available now in both print and digital formats.

Heist Society – Ally Carter

Synopsis: 

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat’s father isn’t just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

My thoughts: 

I loved this book, and I can’t wait to pick up the next one.
Actually… what I loved most about this book was the main character – Kat, and the web of lies and deception that she is caught in with her friends and family.

Kat is a thief. Her whole family are thieves, and they are also thick as thieves. Kat has tried to leave the family and their little projects though, and has started boarding school.
Little does she know, but her father is in some serious trouble when a very bad man has his art collection stolen out from under him, and blames Kat’s father. Now Kat is the only one who is talented enough to prove his innocence.
Her… and the rest of the heist society that she puts together to pull the job off.

This is a definite must read for anyone who enjoys a bit of a thrill, a good laugh, great young women with attitude, and a bit of adventure.

Enjoy!

To see other reviews of this book – here are a couple that I have found: