Author: Amanda Stevens

Review: The Awakening by Amanda Stevens

Posted March 9, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  The Awakening by Amanda StevensThe Awakening by Amanda Stevens
Series: Graveyard Queen #6
Published by Mira on March 28th 2017
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 416
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Shush…lest she awaken…
My name is Amelia Gray, a cemetery restorer who lives with the dead. An anonymous donor has hired me to restore Woodbine Cemetery, a place where the rich and powerful bury their secrets. Forty years ago, a child disappeared without a trace and now her ghost has awakened, demanding that I find out the truth about her death. Only I know that she was murdered. Only I can bring her killer to justice. But the clues that I follow—a haunting melody and an unnamed baby's grave—lead me to a series of disturbing suspects.
For generations, The Devlins have been members of Charleston's elite. John Devlin once turned his back on the traditions and expectations that came with his birthright, but now he has seemingly accepted his rightful place. His family's secrets make him a questionable ally. When my investigation brings me to the gates of his family's palatial home, I have to wonder if he is about to become my mortal enemy.

Ever since the disturbing events of the last book, I knew I had to get my hands on The Awakening in order to find out what happens next. Luckily, I read the two back to back and was left with a piece of mind.

The Awakening follows in not to distant feature from book five. Amelia is hired by an anonymous donor to restore the Woodbine Cemetery and all its dark and hidden secrets.

This book at times I find was hard to read, it just slowly keeps getting darker and darker. I still feel like book five was a tad bit darker, but things are really starting to hit the fan.

I really missed Devlin in the last book and even thought he was mentioned often, he finally makes a comeback. I really wanted to know what was going on with him and the strange rift that formed between Devlin and Amelia. Luckily for us, we don’t wait too long to find out, and I loved that we don’t have to wait till book seven for everything to get sorted.

In The Awakening, Amelia has to find the secret behind the murder of a little girl. I find children’s death stories one of the hardest to read. It feels so emotional, so uncomfortable at times. For Amelia especially, as we come to learn that this ghost really hits close to home for her. Not only does Amelia ends up discovering some dark secrets of her own family, she also ends up in a mess with Devlin’s secrets.

More is revealed about the secret societies, more death, more progression in the storyline. I loved reading about all the cemetery research and what the symbols in the children’s cemetery mean. The build up was amazing, the end, rushed.

This seems to now be a consistent trend in Stevens book, and one that I am now finding a bit annoying. We get this amazing build up, this amazing story and then everything happens so fast in the end that you can’t wrap your head around anything. It’s rushed, which makes it more than a little disappointing at times. The ending was mind blowing, but it was just so… quick… Even the confrontation was really quick.

I also feel like Amelia could use a little bit more emotion. She loves Devlin, but her grief felt a little robotic? I guess. It could be the fact that she trained herself not to show emotion, but that’s something that I feel is lacking a bit. It is necessary? I guess not, the book is still amazing, even without it. Just an observation, I guess?

Also, the ending? The ending ended with a mind blowing note. I hope there is a book seven because I need it now. There are still so many unanswered questions, even more after book five.

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The Visitor by Amanda Stevens

Posted October 28, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

The Visitor by Amanda StevensThe Visitor by Amanda Stevens
Series: Graveyard Queen #4
Published by Mira on March 29th 2016
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

www.AmandaStevens.com
My name is Amelia Gray. I'm the Graveyard Queen.
Restoring lost and abandoned cemeteries is my profession, but I'm starting to believe that my true calling is deciphering the riddles of the dead. Legend has it that Kroll Cemetery is a puzzle no one has ever been able to solve. For over half a century, the answer has remained hidden within the strange headstone inscriptions and intricate engravings. Because uncovering the mystery of that tiny, remote graveyard may come at a terrible price.
Years after their mass death, Ezra Kroll's disciples lie unquiet, their tormented souls trapped within the walls of Kroll Cemetery, waiting to be released by someone strong and clever enough to solve the puzzle. For whatever reason, I'm being summoned to that graveyard by both the living and the dead. Every lead I follow, every clue I unravel brings me closer to an unlikely killer and to a destiny that will threaten my sanity and a future with my love, John Devlin.

The Visitor picked up shortly after the events in The Prophet, so if you are interested in giving this series a shot, I strongly suggest starting at the beginning, as a lot had happened. Ever since Amelia took Gray dust and came back, she bought something with her from the other side, a woman who happens to look like her except for the fact that she is blind and very much dead. Now the mysterious visitor is haunting Amelia and want something from her. The Visitor mentions a key that will help Amelia find her salvation, but when a stereoscope shows up in the basement of her house, someone else is trying to get Amelia’s attention. Every sign points her to Kroll Cemetery and it’s starting to look like the original ghosts wants her to find the real reason behind the mass suicide that cause all the people to die.

This was one of my favorite books in the series. We see a lot of character growth from Amelia and we get to dig deeper into her past and where she had come from as well as her father’s background. I thought the story was sad and compelling, Stevens did a terrific job.

This book felt just as creepy as the second book in the series, and it was hard to read at night with the lights off. Now that the rules that Amelia’s father tried to pass on to her no longer work, we get to learn more about what Amelia is as Steven slowly peels away the layers of secrets. Devlin’s family is also filled with secrets that I am eager to uncover as the book goes on and it sounds like it will play a major role between Amelia and John in the future books. Especially since John himself is undergoing certain changes possibly due to the incident in the last book.

The only a few things I felt upset about is the fact that Amelia’s father continues to be a shutout. He seems to now know what his daughter is going through and that the rules no longer protect her, but he is still holding on to many secrets from her. I feel like maybe she should know these things by now as far as her safety is concerned?

Also… What happened to Angus the dog?

Also, Amelia finds herself with an ally in Dr.Shaw… but what about the facts behind Dr.Shaws son and what happened between him and Amelia, the whole situation seems a bit odd to me I think. There was only a mention of Ethan in passing once and the entire incident apparently did not reflect the relationship between Dr.Shaw and Amelia.

Overall, this was a very interesting addition to the series with a lot of secrets coming into play. A few new characters from the last book were put aside for now, but I have a feeling that it is not yet even close to being resolved. Lot’s of things are happening and this is becoming more and more addictive and it kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

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Review: The Prophet by Amanda Stevens

Posted October 12, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review:  The Prophet by Amanda StevensThe Prophet by Amanda Stevens
Series: Graveyard Queen, #3
Published by Mira on April 24th 2012
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 347
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:two-flames

My name is Amelia Gray.
I am the Graveyard Queen, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. My father passed down four rules to keep me safe and I've broken every last one. A door has opened and evil wants me back.
In order to protect myself, I've vowed to return to those rules. But the ghost of a murdered cop needs my help to find his killer. The clues lead me to the dark side of Charleston—where witchcraft, root doctors and black magic still flourish—and back to John Devlin, a haunted police detective I should only love from afar.Now I'm faced with a terrible choice: follow the rules or follow my heart.

I am back with a review for the third installment in the Graveyard Queen series and I have to say, I think I have an addiction problem. I can’t seem to stop reading them. The only reason book four is on hold is because it got delayed in transit, which I guess is okay because I am totally lacking sleep.

The Prophet picked up on some of the events that occurred in the first book. The ghost of Robert Fremont is back and he wants Amelia to find his killer because he wants to move on. To make things worse, Shani – Devlin’s dead daughter is haunting her as well because she is also in desperate need of Amelia to help her move on.

We are thrown back on the mystery behind the death of Devlin’s wife and daughter as well as his partner that ironically occurred on the same night. Amelia is facing trouble because neither of the ghost seem to want to leave her alone and now Shani is actually haunting her, so she needs to find a way to help the scared little girl move on.

This installment was good, I really enjoyed it. It did lack in the creepy atmosphere that the other two books centered around, making it very easy to read in the middle of the night. Despite that, the writing was still so beautiful it just draws you in, Steven’s tells an amazing story and her skills in writing just make me oh so happy on the inside.

Can we just talk about how each book in this series is as strong as the one before it? I am completely blown away and happy about it. It makes picking up each book easy known that I am going to come away satisfied long after the pages are done.

I love Amelia, and I love the growth of her character.. Sure, she had a few juvenile moments when it comes to John Devlin, but overall, she is growing as a character. I also enjoyed how realistic her approach to going back to Oak Grove Cemetery was after the events that occurred in book one. She is slowly developing, growing and learning how to fend for herself. It makes me a bit mad that her father did not prepare her for the world that she is forced upon, since clearly the rules are doing nothing to help her and from the hints in the book – it seems it didn’t help him much in the past either. (Thought this is just my assumption)

Darius a new character enters into the plot-line and Amelia finds herself in the world of voodoo, palm reading and a bit of African shaman magic. This opens up a whole new possibility for the next couple of books, ups the stakes and makes it that much more interesting.

As far as romance, I liked the unexplained connection between Devlin and Amelia, which makes for some really amazing chemistry.

Honestly there was very little in this book that I didn’t like, that being said… what the hell was up with the ending? Is it me or the killer was kind of random? Like Stevens just threw together the ending the last minute. It felt like I missed a page or two of information in the end there and for a second I was worried I got the wrong copy. Everything happened so damn fast that chunks felt missing. It was like she was just in a hurry to finish it up.

Also, that revelation in the end about Shani – woah… totally did not see that coming.

Memorable Quotes

“You’re very light,” he said. “You’ve lost weight since last spring.”

“That’s because I’m haunted.”

“What haunts you?” he asked softly.

“You do.”

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Review: The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens

Posted October 7, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 28 Comments

Review:  The Kingdom by Amanda StevensThe Kingdom by Amanda Stevens
Series: Graveyard Queen #2
Published by Mira on March 27th 2012
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 376
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:two-flames

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.

Amelia has been commissioned to restore an old cemetery at Asher Falls, South Carolina. When she arrives things take a strange turn and she begins to wonder the real reason she was bought summoned to Asher Falls and why she feels like she is there for a greater purpose. With the way the residents of Asher Fall’s act around her has Amelia wonders that maybe she wasn’t chosen by random to restore to Asher Falls Cemetery.  The land is cursed, Amelia can feel it in her bones as if she is also a part of it. There is a great evil that lurks in the darkness of the mountain and a woman who keeps showing up always in time to save Amelia from trouble.

Wow! If I thought book one was dark and creepy, it doesn’t begin to hold a candle to The Kingdom. It was creepy, with a gothic undertone and it was tenfold more atmospherical. The book also takes on a more evil and paranormal tone over book one and makes it reading late at night that much more chilling. Don’t make that mistake, I did and found that I lost a bit of sleep because of that, hah.

I loved it. I loved everything about this book. Steven’s writing is enthralling and so good. I was so focused on the mystery, so eager to uncover the secrets of Asher Falls, the secrets of the unmarked grave that Amelia stumbled upon and why Amelia is so drawn to this place.

Thought by the end things unraveled rapidly, I was a bit surprised by the amount that was left unsaid. It might be the reason I did not give the book 5 stars and held back. I felt there was quite a bit answers left for the dead along with Asher Falls. I really hope that sometime in the future things will come to light, but I am a bit doubtful. I wanted to know more about the Asher history, their sins, why almost no one bore an heir yet and how the old cemetery ended up under the water.

I do love how the story progressed and we learned a lot about Amelia. Even if Devlin was absent in this book, his present was still strong through Amelia’s inner battle. There was a brief romance between Amelia and Thane Asher, I wanted to feel angry about it because of Devlin, but I knew there was a reason and in the end it was all going to work itself out.

I cannot wait for book 3, I feel like I should take a break and maybe read something else, but I have been so drawn to this series it is really hard to put down. Especially with the mood setting weather that we are currently experiencing.

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Review: The Restorer by Amanda Stevens

Posted October 4, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 22 Comments

Review: The Restorer by Amanda StevensThe Restorer by Amanda Stevens
Series: Graveyard Queen, #1
Published by Mira on April 19th 2011
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 376
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

My name is Amelia Gray. I'm a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. In order to protect myself from the parasitic nature of the dead, I've always held fast to the rules passed down from my father. But now a haunted police detective has entered my world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept me safe.
It started with the discovery of a young woman's brutalized body in an old Charleston graveyard I've been hired to restore. The clues to the killer, and to his other victims, lie in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret. Devlin needs my help, but his ghosts shadow his every move, feeding off his warmth, sustaining their presence with his energy. To warn him would be to invite them into my life. I've vowed to keep my distance, but the pull of his magnetism grows ever stronger even as the symbols lead me closer to the killer and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.

With the anticipation of Halloween on the horizon, I’ve been in the mood lately for some creepy ghostly reads. After witnessing several of my blogger friends review a new book by Amanda Stevens, I knew I had to go back to the beginning.

So I was introduced to The Restorer and Amelia Gray. Amelia grew up most of her life centering on graveyards. She also has a secret, she can see the ghosts. In order to protect herself from the dead, her father had passed out a very strict set of rules that she had held on to until John Devlin stepped into her life.

A body was uncovered in the cemetery that Amelia had been commissioned to restore and John thinks that there might be something in her pictures or her knowledge that might have them uncover the killer.

I absolutely enjoyed every bit of this book. It was perfect for the cold, gloomy, rainy days that we just got and made it impossible to put it down. The weather here, coupled with the writing of Stevens has made the book very atmospherically heavy. It added to the mood and the chills and thrills.

I liked Amelia and felt her character was very true to self for someone that was just tossed into a very different world. The connection between her and John makes me especially giddy for the upcoming books. John is haunted, he has his ghost, literally that follow him. It’s against Amelia’s rules to get attached to anyone who is haunted, but an unexplained attraction has both of them pulling towards each other. It complicates things, and really makes me wonder how it will play out.

The book was written well, the mystery was a bit dark, but it was the unexplained and the surroundings that gave me the most chills. I figured out who the killer is half way through the book, but it was still interesting to follow the characters as they unravel the secrets of the death and break the code that the killer keeps sending through the cemetery.

I felt like there was a bit of mystery left in the air about the order that was questioned in the book, and wonder if it is something that will become important or get addressed in other books.

I’ve been very happy lately, just sitting back and picking up books I’ve been in the mood to read, even if they are not ARCs. I’ve been impressed with Steven’s first book and already have the second one waiting to be read.

Memorable Quotes

“Don’t look at him.”

I turned in surprise. “You see him, too?”

“Yes, I see him. Now get back to work.”

“But who is he-”

“I said don’t look at him!”

“Do you mind?” Devlin cut in. “If it’s not too much trouble, I’d like to hear your initial assessment.”

“Of Amelia?” Regina gave me a wink. “Lovely girl, handled herself well on camera.”

“I’m talking about the remains,” he said drily.

“Oh, him. Dead as a doornail.”

“Why did you come here tonight?” I asked softly. “Earlier, you said I need to distance myself from the investigation.”

“And I meant it.”

“Then why are you here?”

“Because I can’t stay away.”

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