Monday, February 27, 2012

Book Review: The Prophet by Amanda Stevens

Title: The Prophet (Graveyard Queen #3)
Author: Amanda Stevens
Publisher: Mira
Release Date: 04/24/2012
ISBN: 0778313395

I was lucky enough to be able to read this shortly after finishing the previous book in the series, The Kingdom, and boy am I really jonesing for the next book! This was fantastic!

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.

In the last book Amelia got a deeper taste of darkness as well as some answers to her questions about her past. She may have discovered who her birth mother was, but there's still far more questions about what she's capable of and what exactly that means to her. The previous book also left off with a text message from Devlin, which of course means that her relationship with him will figure heavily into this book.

Fans of Amelia and Devlin's relationship will be glad to see some progress made in this book as well as progress with Shani and Mariama. (Not saying how far it goes, but there is definite progress.) I have to admit that I wasn't as fond of him in this book as I was in the first one and I have to say that I hope that he manages to move on more from his past so Amelia can finally have a love interest that isn't overly invested in a past love. Then again, I think that this might be due to some of his actions in the book, which involves him cuddling with another woman earlier in the book and then kissing Amelia later on. This does get explained in some format later on in the book, but it definitely makes me raise an eyebrow as to how Devlin could so easily do this. I know that there's a magnetism between Devlin and Amelia, but so far she's the only one doing any compromising. A soul mate-esque connection can only go so far and Devlin needs to show that he's worthy of Amelia. I can't wait for Thane to make a reappearance later on in the series. (Of course I think he's coming back- he's too good to only appear once!) He took Amelia's abilities in stride and I felt that he gave her an acceptance that Devlin only grudgingly gives her.

Other than that, I really enjoyed the read- especially the look into the supernatural angle of the book. Part of the supernatural focus in this book was vodun and Stevens seems to have really done her homework here and tries to avoid an overly Hollywood depiction of the religion. It's good that she does this, as this is a religion/practice that really doesn't need to be gussied up to the nth level. It can do that on its own. This is really part of the charm of this series. Rather than give us a completely fantastical version of magic and the supernatural, Stevens tries to be as realistic as she can without being over the top.

We get a pretty intriguing new character here by the name of Darius Goodwine, a dark practitioner of vodun with big (read evil) plans for Amelia. Darius is shown as a sinister and evil force here, but there seems to be other aspects to his character that haven't been shown and I can't wait to discover them.

This is a good addition to the series and while it wasn't as "OMG! MUST FINISH THIS OR I'LL DIE RIGHT NOW" as the previous book, it was still a fun and entertaining read that will make it a required read this spring and summer.

4 out of 5 stars

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Book to recommend: Slippery Souls by Rachael Dixon

I recently looked at this book's preview on Amazon and I have to say that I'm rather intrigued by this new series called Sunray Bay. It makes me wish that I hadn't taken on another ginormous course load this semester and that I didn't have quite so many books in my TBR pile for review.

For those of you who have already read the book, Dixon is holding a contest to where you can have a character in the next Sunray Bay novel! (Click here to go to the entry page.)

Libby has hit a bad patch in life, and just when she thinks things can’t get any worse she's killed in a car accident alongside her dog Rufus. During their transition to the afterlife’s Sunray Bay, Rufus somehow manages to absorb her soul – which, in turn, gives him human-like qualities and renders her soulless.

Accompanied by her now talking dog, Libby tries to unravel the mystery of her slippery soul, encountering many setbacks and dilemmas along the way. She has no idea why a group of monster slayers, headed by an ex-convict, are hunting her down, and when she teams up with rogue Peace & Order Maintenance Officer, Grim, she’s shocked to discover that there’s a mob of disgruntled vampires and a very angry mayor hot on their heels too.

Libby has never felt so unpopular, and begins to wonder whether it’s possible to die twice in one day...

Slippery Souls is available through Feed A Read, Amazon UK, and Smashwords.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

More info on Devil's Carnival!

Sorry for geeking out about this, but the more information I find the more excited I get!

I'm posting this here since it backs up my theory about the movie's plot:

Also, just to let you know, the show will be going on a road tour very soon. I don't know any exact dates, but the movie's forum has already labeled the following cities as places they have on their dark agenda:

Los Angeles, CA
San Diego, CA
Phoenix, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Dallas, TX
Memphis, TN
Nashville, TN
Atlanta, GA
Orlando, FL
Charlotte, NC
Richmond, VA
Charleston, WV
Baltimore, MD
Boston, MD
New York City
Toronto, Canada
Toledo, OH
Chicago, IL
Des Moines, IA
Kansas City, KS
Denver, CO
Salt Lake City, UT
Seattle, WA
Sacramento, CA
Las Vegas, NV

So if your city (or one close by) is on this list, rejoice!! One of mine is, and you can bet the farm I'm going to do my darndest to attend! I'll try and list the dates as soon as I can!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Must Watch: The Devil's Carnival

I've known about this for a few days, but the trailer I just watched has me incredibly excited.

If you've ever seen the movie Repo! The Genetic Opera, then you know how strange and twisted the minds of Darren Lynn Bousman and Terrance Zdunich can get. While a sequel or prequel to this movie has yet to be made, we do have something equally as awesome: a short musical starring several amazing musicians and several of the actors from Repo!.

The details about the movie are slim, but information from the Wikipedia entry makes it appear that it's going to be about a group of people who are "invited" to watch a carnival... that just so happens to be run by the Devil himself.

The above trailer is one of two that have been revealed so far, one of which includes the amazingly awesome Emilie Autumn.

Curious about the movie? Check out the official website at

The other girl: When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

I'm not really much for YA series that aren't in the vein of Holly Black or Pretty Little Liars, but I have to say that this upcoming release by Simon and Schuster entitled When You Were Mine sounds pretty amazing.

In this intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told, Romeo’s original intended—Juliet’s cousin Rosaline—tells her side of the tale.

What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything.
Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy...and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance.
Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends….

I have to admit that I've loved Romeo and Juliet ever since I read a poorly written book adaptation of the play as a young girl and it reached a fever pitch after watching both the amazing Olivia Hussey version as well as the 1996 DeCaprio version. (I admit that DeCaprio is gorgeous, but Hussey's version wins by a mile.) Having an alternate telling of this tragic tale is a very natural and smart idea. After all, alternate tellings of other Shakespeare works have worked out very well (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead) and the sky is the limit as far as potential goes.

If I can get my homework done on time, I'm checking this one out.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Best. Comment. Ever.

A friend of mine just shared this Stacia Kane quote with me: (click here to see it on Goodreads)

“Readers have the right to say whatever the fuck they want about a book. Period. They have that right. If they hate the book because the MC says the word “delicious” and the reader believes it’s the Devil’s word and only evil people use it, they can shout from the rooftops “This book is shit and don’t read it” if they want. If they want to write a review entirely about how much they hate the cover, they can if they want. If they want to make their review all about how their dog Foot Foot especially loved to pee on that particular book, they can.”

This is quite possibly the best quote ever in relation to readers and reviews.


Just discovered it's part of an even longer blog post by Kane, which is even more full of awesome. You can click on this sentence to go to the blog, but I'm going to repost the entire amazing entry in its entirety.

"Oh, man. I hardly know where to start.

I’ve been thinking about this post for about a week now, and still don’t know what exactly I’m going to say. I’m just trying to make sense of some things, basically. So forgive me if this is a tad rambly.

The thing is, I’ve been involved in the online writing/reading community since 2005 now. And in that time things have gotten–in my view, at least–more and more antagonistic and upsetting. I wonder why. This post–this series of posts planned for this week–is my attempt to figure it out, I guess. To express my thoughts and see what yours are, and perhaps to offer a potential solution. And in order to do that I’m going to be very honest, and perhaps harsh in some places, but I’m trying to express my full thought process here. So we’ll see how it goes.

In the past nine days or so the internet–at least the writer/reader part of it–seems to have gone kablooey. Specifically, the writer part of it, in that we’ve had a rash of writers deciding it’s their place to tell readers A) How to review books; B) What is and is not okay to say or think; C) Why their opinion is totally wrong; and D) whatever other ridiculous shit they come up with.

I’m aware of five separate incidents, the latest being a self-published author who, in response to a reasoned but negative review, took it upon himself to leave 40 comments–yes, forty–on the blog quoting the fawning letters he’d received about the book from family and friends. And then many more comments insisting that what he did was totally professional and reasonable and why is the reviewer in question so full of hate, yo? And that’s nothing compared to the others, the writers ranting on their blogs and leaving nasty or argumentative comments on Goodreads and blah blah blah.

Guys…cut it out. Just, seriously, cut it out.

Readers have the right to say whatever the fuck they want about a book. Period. They have that right. If they hate the book because the MC says the word “delicious” and the reader believes it’s the Devil’s word and only evil people use it, they can shout from the rooftops “This book is shit and don’t read it” if they want. If they want to write a review entirely about how much they hate the cover, they can if they want. If they want to make their review all about how their dog Foot Foot especially loved to pee on that particular book, they can.


Because, and I’ve said this before, reviews are for readers. Because they purchased the book (or it was sent to them specifically hoping they would express an opinion) and so can say whatever they want about it. If you buy a shirt that falls apart in the wash, do you keep your mouth shut about it because you don’t want to hurt the manufacturer’s feelings?

Authors, reviews are not for you. They are not for you. Authors, reviews are not for you."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Repost: The Road to Publication: Part One by Jill Baguchinsky

Hi everyone! With this year's ABNAs feeling like they're approaching at the speed of light (or maybe not, if you're one of the contestants agonizing over how long it's taking), I thought it would be fun to repost the first of a blog series that one of last year's winners (Jill Baguchinsky) is currently penning. It's about her experiences of going through the competition and what comes afterwards.


[This is part 1 of a summary of Spookygirl’s journey toward publication. Use the Progress tag to access all related entries.]

So! As I’ve said before, I’m a pretty awful blogger. I’m a quiet person; I don’t like searching for things to say just for the sake of saying something. However, with the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest underway, now’s as good as time as any to talk about my experience with the 2011 contest and what's happened since.

Best of luck to those participating this year! And thank you toCara Bertrand for nudging me to get going with this. ;)

So anyway, that contest-thingie last year . . . I admit it – I entered on a whim. I had a little experience with the contest; in 2009 I entered another manuscript and made it through the pitch round. I don’t even remember how I found out the 2011 contest was accepting entries; I just know I had a surgery scheduled a few days before the end of the entry period, so I tossed together my entry quickly and didn’t think too much of it. Spookygirl itself was ready to go; I wrote it in 2007, revised it in 2008, and shopped it around (unsuccessfully, obviously) to literary agents after that. My pitch was a revised version of my query letter; my excerpt was my first chapter. I tossed up my entry, fussed with it a little, and didn’t think too much of it for a while.

When I made it past the pitch round, I didn’t even bother telling anyone. I'd gotten that far before, after all. I decided to wait and see what happened.

Making it through to the quarter-finals was a little more exciting. I was playing hooky from work the day the announcement was made; I had lunch with a friend, and then she and I browsed the closing sale at our local Borders. (I picked up the first four Dexter novels.) Before I left the parking lot, I checked my email on my phone and started squealing when I found out I’d made the cut. My reaction when I made it through to the semi-finals was more of the same – crazypants squealing. Reading the positive reviews along the way from Amazon Vine reviewers and Publishers Weekly prompted even more squeals.

(Yeah, I squeal a lot. And squeak. And squee.)

Then came the day the finalists would be announced. I didn’t think for a second I’d actually make it that far . . . but I kept my phone by my side all morning, just in case.

It rang.

I don’t like phones. I rarely talk on them. I never answer them. But that day I answered. I was a finalist, and I’d be traveling to Amazon’s Seattle headquarters for the announcement of the winners.

There was more squealing. It was loud enough to send my cat racing to the closet, where she hid for the rest of the day.

Up next: The final round

If you're curious about the blog series and want to read more, check out Jill aka Spookygirl's blog at this link here. (Click here)

If you're absolutely dying to read her award winning book Spookygirl, then you'll have to wait until August to do so. But don't worry- you can preorder it through all of the major online retailers and make sure to have your copy delivered right to your door! (Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Books-A-Million)

Until then, we still have the synopsis!

Violet Addison can chat with the dead, but what really frightens her is starting her sophomore year at a new school. Still reeling from the loss of her mother, Violet is about find herself in the company of ghosts . . . both playful and deadly evil. Standing at the threshold to an unseen world with newfound friends at her side, only Violet can uncover the truth behind her mother’s death and save the family business--paranormal investigation.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Book Review: The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens

Title: The Kingdom (Graveyard Queen #2)
Author: Amanda Stevens
Publisher: Mira
Release Date: 03/24/2012 (not soon enough, trust me)
ISBN: 0778312771

This book almost made my grades drop. Why? Because initially I had to read this book in little sips while I focused on my classwork. Eventually the plot and tension in this book got so intriguing that I finally couldn't take it any more and tossed my textbooks to the side in order to finish it. I imagine that I'm not the only one who did this. Whether it's housework, schoolwork, or sleep, you'll find yourself putting off other tasks so you can finish this book!

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 absolutely adored this book, most specifically Amelia. While she does have the dubious "gift" of being able to see ghosts, she's not one of those overly aggressive "my way or the highway" female characters that wield their supernatural talent like a +4 battleax against the enemy. Nor is she a wilting flower that relies on anyone (male or otherwise) to do the job for her. Best yet, she's not the type of girl who is going to sit around and mope after a guy. Amelia reflects and maybe mourns some of the guy trouble in her life, but she isn't going to let it overwhelm her- especially not when there's work to be done and danger to avoid. She's someone that I could imagine stepping out of the pages and existing as a regular human being. It's really refreshing to see a character who isn't an invulnerable sexpot (looking at you, Anita Blake) or someone that completely requires others to save her. (OK, Bella- this one was aimed at you, not that you could really help it. Sparkly vampires are surprisingly vicious.)

It also helps that the plot in this is so engaging. There's sinister pasts, mysterious graves, and mountains with giant hex symbols carved into them. (For more information on hex symbols, click here.) These are exactly the sort of plot ideas that instantly draw you in and make you want to read it. Rest assured, this book won't disappoint you. I particularly loved the attention to detail that Stevens put into everything. There's a lot of questions answered in this book but then we get a whole host of new ones to think about, as well as a few new characters that I hope to see in future volumes.

If you haven't read the first volume, it's not an absolute necessity since so much of this book takes place in another town away from the happenings and people from The Restorer. I do recommend it, though. It's not only going to help explain some of the references that are brought up, but it's also a pretty entertaining read. If you're reading this review after the book has been released and you just can't wait to get your hot little hands on this book (or bought it without knowing it's book #2 of a series), Stevens does explain enough to where you won't be completely lost.

Overall this is one of the best books I've read this year (OK, it's February, but still). Stevens has always been an up and coming writer that I've loved, but this book shows how far her writing has come along. She's no longer an "up and coming", Stevens is already here and here to stay.

5 out of 5 stars (Freaking loved this book! I'm actually sorry that my ARC has to expire.)

(ARC provided by NetGalley)

P.S.- If you're curious about Steven's writing, she has a whole host of other books that are already out (including the first Graveyard Queen book). There's also a free Kindle version of the prequel to the GQ series, which you can find here. (Click here)