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Review: I’m Traveling Alone by Samuel Bjørk

Posted March 17, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  I’m Traveling Alone by Samuel BjørkI'm Traveling Alone by Samuel Bjørk
Series: Holger Munch & Mia Kruger #1
Published by Penguin Books on March 14th 2017
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Crime
Pages: 400
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 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.

International bestseller Samuel Bjork makes his US debut, a chilling and fast-paced thriller in which two detectives must hunt down a vengeful killer--and uncover the secret that ties each of them to the crime A six-year-old girl is found in the Norwegian countryside, hanging lifeless from a tree and dressed in strange doll's clothes. Around her neck is a sign that says "I'm traveling alone." A special homicide unit in Oslo re-opens with veteran police investigator Holger Munch at the helm. Holger's first step is to persuade the brilliant but haunted investigator Mia Kruger, who has been living on an isolated island, overcome by memories of her past. When Mia views a photograph of the crime scene and spots the number "1" carved into the dead girl's fingernail, she knows this is only the beginning. Could this killer have something to do with a missing child, abducted six years ago and never found, or with the reclusive religious community hidden in the nearby woods? Mia returns to duty to track down a revenge-driven and ruthlessly intelligent killer. But when Munch's own six-year-old granddaughter goes missing, Mia realizes that the killer's sinister game is personal, and I'm Traveling Alone races to an explosive--and shocking--conclusion. "From the Hardcover edition.""

As I am sitting here trying to figure out how to write a review for this book, I think I am slowly coming to terms that I am not positive how to word my feelings.

I’m Traveling Alone is a US debut novel by a Norwegian novelist about two detectives who are in a fight against time to track down a vengeful killer coming after six year old girls. To say that I breezed through this book would be a lie, but not for completely negative reasons.

This book was good. The writing was amazing. Samuel Bjørk is an excellent, creative writer that knows how to pull you in and tell an interesting story that will really pull you right out of your comfort zone.

With the victims in this book being six year old girls, this book was NOT an easy read. It was heart-wrenching, dark and uncomfortable. So even thought the book was completely engrossing, well crafted and a page-turner – I couldn’t finish it in one sitting. I had to take a step back and read something easy in between because being a mother, at times the story was truly terrifying.

I really liked the two main detectives in this story. Mia and Holger grew on me quick and I found myself rooting for them until the very end. Mia comes with a dark past and at the beginning of the book, Mia is in a really dark place. There is mention of alcohol and drug abuse, which can potentially be a bit triggy for some people (thus the content warning). I got to see how being bought back to work on this case with the only other person she cares in the world, pulls Mia back out of this haze she lives in.

There is just so much going on in this book, so much. The killer leaves puzzles for the detectives and it was interesting to see how Mia’s mind works in uncovering these puzzles. It was just so cleverly crafted, which made this book so hard to put down at times – even thought I had to. There are also other storylines that we get a glimpse into and how they end up merging and connecting with the case. There is a church, that’s like a cult and we get to see where that is relevant. It was just so much, but so good and there was just never really a dull moment. The story ran at a steady pace and completely enthralling when not dark and scary. It really did pull me out of my comfort zone as I find stories with children as victims absolutely hard to read. I wasn’t sure if I would like it or would be able to finish it – but I did and I enjoyed it.

My only gripe was I did not understand how Mia came to the conclusion the way she did about the killer. I have to admit, I did not know whodunit. The story follows so much that it could have been any of the people mentioned. Once unveiled, though, I think it was even more frightening. Also the fact that psychopaths like that can exist just really makes you shudder.

Oh, also the writer is Norwegian so the story takes place in Norway, which I think was the best part of this whole experience. I love when books take place outside of the states

Overall, it was gripping, it was intense and compelling. I am glad I read it. These characters really grew on me and I am looking forward to see what’s in store for them next, because they have issues with their own inner demons that they are still battling.

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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: House of Whispers by J.L. Bryan

Posted October 27, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review:  House of Whispers by J.L. BryanHouse of Whispers by J.L. Bryan
Series: Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #5
Published by J.L. Bryan on October 2nd 2015
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 215
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars

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

The luxurious Lathrop Grand Hotel is a Savannah institution that has entertained guests for more than a century and a half, offering some of the finest accommodations in the city. Famously haunted, the hotel draws tourists from around the world eager to encounter its numerous ghosts. The hotel is also known for being honeycombed with hidden doors and secret passages, enabling staff to appear and disappear quickly as they attend to the hotel's guests.
Now some of the spirits in the Lathrop Grand have turned violent, even murderous. Ellie and Stacey must determine which ghost has become dangerous and remove it from the hotel before it can claim any more lives. They soon learn the hotel has secrets even darker than the notorious string of nineteenth-century murders that made it famous, and the powerful entities inhabiting it don't intend to leave without a fight.

The luxurious Lathrop Grand Hotel in Savannah is notoriously known for being one of the most famously haunted hotels at it’s time, drawing tourists around the world who are eager to experience the encounter of its numerous ghosts. When these encounters turn deadly, Ellie and Stacy are commissioned by the management to help remove the ghosts before they claim any more lives.

What I liked

  • I really loved that Bryan is branching out and taking Ellie and Stacy places that are no longer just client houses, but other properties. In the last one he took us for a ride on a ghost train and in this installment we get to explore the dark history behind Lathrop Hotel and not only its famous ghosts but the dark secrets that have been buried with for years.
  • While reading, I had a thought and did a bit of research, I came to wonder if perhaps the basis of this story was influenced by the famous Marshall House, whose history upon a little research I have come to realize is eerily similar to Bryan’s version in the book. If so, I wonder how many other haunted places in Savannah have influenced his works. I find it very fascinating and it makes me want to dig around a bit in the history of Savannah. I do know that Bryan’s ghost stories are original and even if they are based on the history of a real location, he expands on that basis and makes it into a very engrossing read that is difficult to put down.
  •   This book is probably one of my favorite yet. It is dark, it is scary, and it’s hard to read with the lights out. The ghosts that Ellie and Stacy were investigating were sinister and came with a lot of packages. But the history and the plot that Bryan wove into the story just really made this book for me.
  •   We get introduced to the agency that is thinking of buying Calvin’s and the two people that I think will become significant in Ellie’s life her boss goes forward with the move.

 

What didn’t I like

  • I am a sucker for romance and even thought it does not play a major part in the books, I still wish that we got a bit more. Something strange happens in the scene with Ellie and Michael when she does meet him and it makes me wonder what kind of a role it will play in the later books.
  • When Ellie and Stacy show up to the Hotel they have to sign a disclosure agreement. The way the manager of the hotel was acting and being pushy about it made me wonder if there was something else too it, but it never went anywhere beyond that.
  •  I was a bit thrown off by how Ellie had come to the conclusion of who the bad guy was with all of these ghosts running around because the baddie wasn’t really talked about much through the book. It made me pause and left me wondering what happened there. The whole ending had once again made me feel like it had faltered, just like it had in the last book. I am not sure what is going on. I loved these stories because the ghosts up until the last two books have sounded realistic and that is what made them creepy. The whole showdown with the end boss (heh, see what I did there?) felt a bit cartoonish at times and not what I have come to expect from Bryan’s work. I hope there will be an improvement with endings because I am enjoying the books, oh so very much and cannot wait for more.

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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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