Friday, August 19, 2016

The Graveyard Queen Series Review by Amanda Stevens

Holy crap on a cracker it's been a minute since I've a)read and b)did a review so let's do some quick reviews.
1 thing to keep in mind is this will be a quick review because I've read the Graveyard Series before up to the 4th book so these would be re-read books so I won't do in depth reviews on them. But you need to know it is hands down a GREAT series and the sole reason I read them was to prep for the 5th book coming out in September so keep that mind.

Let's do it.

Book 1 - The Restorer

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

Okay this book still gives me the willies if you will. I am still taken back by the beautiful writing, the description and the details. My goodness there were serious times I stopped reading because I was like crap I think I see ghost now. (PS I don't thank God) I also don't recommend reading this book alone. The suspense and the who did it and who is doing it was great. The ending was a great twist and exactly what I wanted to read when seeing the summary. I have to say this is by far my favorite book in the series. It has mystery, ghosts, a love story, ghost, murder, ghost and holy shit suspense that makes my heart race reading it two or three times (I maybe 4 times through) and I still forget who did it because I get so wrapped up in the story. For sure pick this one up 

BOOK 2 - The Kingdom

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 have to say this one threw me again even with a re-read. While it was nice to find out more about Amelia and her connection to Asher Falls and what that means and how in the world it all ties in and what it might be like to have others like her besides her dad it was just an odd book. The story itself was interesting to a point. I was happy she was trying to move on from  John and I thought for a brief moment we might have a triangle which would have been nice to a point and I have to say that I liked the guy in this one more then John beside the fact he didn't have ghost he just seemed nicer. The whole story itself seemed weird and off. The witches, and demon aspect was different then ghost so now we have raised the stakes from just a ghost story to demons and I'm still not sure what any of this has to do with anything. That being said once again you can't help but fall in love with Amelia and her fighting and growing capabilities. She picks up a dog and fights her way through anything else that would have sent most of us running for home. In fact when reading this I found myself saying JUST GO HOME but alas our Amelia didn't and because she didn't she found out her heritage which was interesting but nothing shocking and or major. Still worth the read and one you have to read in order to understand the next one. Also it does have a good "story" to it and like I said it does help us to understand some thing about Amelia and her upbringing. 

BOOK 3 - The Prophet 

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.

The summary above is misleading. Yes she can decide to follow John or not but this one doesn't focus on love so much as it does on the fact that a ghost is actually haunting Amelia which has nothing to do with John other then he may or maynot have been the person who killed the cop who is haunting her. Turns out this is the ghost from the first book. So I liked the tie in. I also liked how we are back to a ghost story with a twist of voodoo and how that affects Amelia and her powers. Again we are back with John and his ghost and how that will affect Amelia and if she will allow the "LOVE OF HER LIFE AND THE ONLY ONE SHE CAN EVER IMAGE IN HER LIFE JUST BECAUSE OF THE STATIC BETWEEN THEM" nothing else mind you I mean in order to find out anything about him she has to ask his ghost or google it. So don't mind me if you are Devlin fans I am starting to wear thin with this relationship because of him and her. And I can't stand when a relationship goes this long with back and forth and no closure so if you are thinking there is some here think again. 
Back to the story this time we learn a little about Amelia's power and what she can do which is pretty awesome but we also learn about John's past and what that means for Amelia and her future with him. Again the writing is beautiful and something I recommend to anyone who loves just beautiful descriptive writing that makes you feel like you are apart of the story and apart of the action. I do like the pacing I never felt like the story was dragging and to be fair I did feel that the story did wrap up nicely. 

BOOK 4 - The Visitor 

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.

I have to say out of all the books I think this was the weakest. While I enjoyed immensely learning about Amelia's background and how she got her talent I felt that after book 2 there was no reason to really go there. I almost feel bad for her "grandmother/mother" she get's nothing from her and at this point it is almost like what's the point of her. This was the grandfather's mother's story and I have to say while again interesting it left it at a point that I hope the next book wraps up because as of now I have way more questions then answers and I am not impressed with those questions. And what the hell is up with Devlin?
Now on to the positive. I love that Amelia is growing stronger in herself and her powers. I hate that she is way too much I LOVE HIM SO MUCH HE IS MY SOUL MATE I CAN'T SURVIVE WITH OUT DEVLIN yet at the same time in this novel it was almost like she is accepting the fact that there maynot be a HEA for her and John and you know what at this point it wouldn't disappoint me and I like that she is growing. The thing that I appreciate about this author is the growth that she gives the characters. They do grow slowly but they grow I don't ever feel like Amelia is just stuck. 
I also enjoy the writing the author has she is a fantastic author she paints such beautiful scenes done in such a way I really feel as if I am in the cemetery with Amelia. I think there were times I could hear the sam thing Amelia could and could feel the tension the characters were going through. That is a true writing talent and one of the many reason I keep coming back to this author. 
The story isn't as intense as it was in the beginning and that's okay because now we know she can see them and they can see her and there are other things out there. I like how it is heading and can't wait to see what book 5 has in store for us in September. 

PS book 5 and 6 are already pre-ordered by this reader and you too can do the same by going here
  and the 6th book is    

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Review ~ The Never List by Koethi Zan

Title: The Never List 
Author: Koethi Zan
Copyright: 2014
Type:  thriller
Pages: 384
Series: no

Reason for Reading
A friend recommended it to me and I thought I would give it a try


For years, Sarah and Jennifer kept the Never List: a list of things to be avoided at all costs.


But one night, they broke their own rules – with horrifying consequences.


Sarah has spent ten years trying to forget her terrifying ordeal. But it seems the killer has not forgotten her…


The Problems: I thought that they actually kept it very clean which I know is weird coming from me because I actually think most authors use rape and other forms or torture for plot uses. That being said this book was actually about just that and yet it was like the author didn't want to actually talk about the torture or rapes. In fact the author did everything humanly possible to not talk about the "rapes" that happen and did only talk about it with a human trafficking aspect later with a twist that sort of fit but felt like it didn't because it wasn't part of the story line that was going on. It felt like it should have been another story that the author just kind of tied into this story to make it sort of fit to make a shocking "AH HA" moment that really felt like a scratch my head moment instead. 

The Wins: It had a couple of twists and turns I wasn't expecting. I liked watching the main character grow and try to deal with everything that happened. She actually had issues that she had to deal with and she dealt with them in a realistic way not in a hurry up make it work for the plot kind of way. I also liked the end and even though I thought the ending had some rough moments and needed to be cleaned up a little bit I liked how the author ended it in a not completely healed way but still going to keep fighting in her own way and stronger for it. It was nice. 

Goodreads Grade: 3 out of 5 stars

Would you recommend this book to others? If the reader enjoys thriller type of books that aren't too detailed then this is the book for them. I never really felt on the edge of my seat and I wasn't overwhelmed with descriptions. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

From Page to Screen ~ A Study in Pink

A Study in Pink (Scarlet) the book verses BBC's Sherlock Holmes TV show

In the debut of literature's most famous sleuth, a dead man is discovered in a bloodstained room in Brixton. The only clues are a wedding ring, a gold watch, a pocket edition of Boccaccio's Decameron, and a word scrawled in blood on the wall. With this investigation begins the partnership of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Their search for the murderer uncovers a story of love and revenge-and heralds a franchise of detective mysteries starring the formidable Holmes.

The book moves at a slower pace then the show but again it's a book and it is written in a time that is different then a lot of readers are use to. That being said it is a very interesting book and fun to see Sherlock deduct things. What I like about the book is the fact that while Sherlock is cocky and intelligent he doesn't come off nearly as condescending as he does in the show. In fact when he is explaining things to us the readers through John he is very slow and tells it in an interesting way that makes the reader go oh that makes sense. Not oh no I feel stupid which is how at times it can come off in the show. I also like that the book takes the time to explain things to us the reader. The book takes the time to go back in history to explain things as well. 


"Nothing happens to me," Afghanistan war veteran Dr. John Watson tells his therapist. But that's before he moves into 221B Baker Street. In no time, the depressed doctor has joined his eccentric flat mate, Sherlock Holmes, in tackling a case of serial suicide.
Can suicide be a serial crime? It seem so, since it has already happened three times, with each victim disappearing under identical circumstance and later turning up dead with the same self-administered dose of poison. When a fourth victim is found, a woman dressed entirely in pink, Detective Inspector Lestrade gives up and calls his consulting detective: Sherlock.
With Watson lending his medical expertise, Sherlock uses his deductive powers to establish the pink lady's life history, based on clues such as the wear pattern on her wedding ring. Obviously murder, he concludes. And with that the game is on to find the killer, someone who can lurk unnoticed in the middle of a bustling city, snaring victims at will and convincing them to take their own lives.
Lestrade's staff warns Watson to avoid Sherlock, who they call "freak" and consider a psychopath ("I'm a high-functioning sociopath," Sherlock insists). But the doctor receives a more ominous signal from another source, a shadowy figure calling himself Sherlock's arch enemy, who attempts to entice Watson into turning against his new friend.
Meanwhile, the pink lady left an especially baffling clue: she scratched "Rache" into the floor where she died. The name Rachel? The German word for revenge? A coded message? To Sherlock the answer is elementary. Less clear is how the killer enticed his victims into self-destruction and whether the great detective will be lured to the same demise.
I love who they have cast as Sherlock and Watson both Cumberbatch and Freeman are a perfect fit for Watson and Sherlock. I love that I no longer can think of anyone else playing these characters. I also enjoy how each character stays true to their own character traits and flaws. I like the modern rendition of Sherlock and I really enjoy that it was brought to the 2000s to show us what a Sherlock in our time frame would look like. The thing that always gets me is how condescending Sherlock is to others including Watson and how Watson puts up with it. But what I love about it at the same time is how much Sherlock needs Watson and it is shown so well in this show verses the book. The friendship shows through a lot clearer on the screen then it does in the book and the need they have for each other really comes out here. The show stayed close enough to the book that you could pick out what was in the novel that you could say OH OH I read that but traveled just far enough away that you didn't feel that you were watching another show about the same thing you just read. 

Final thought: All in all I really enjoyed both and would highly suggestion both of them to anyone who wants a good detective novel or show. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Album Review ~ Caught a Ghost

Artist: Caught a Ghost
Title of Album: Human Nature

Released: 2014

1. No Sugar in My Coffee
2. Sleeping At Night
3. Human Nature
4. Time Go
5. uuu
6. Can't Let Go
7. Hold Out
8. Connected
9. Somehow
10. Nothing For You Here
11. Better
12. Get Louder

Bought from: Amazon
Price: $7.99

Thoughts on Album:
This was a lovely find and I thank my sis @courtam on twitter for the suggestion. This band has a lot of soul, jazz, punk and flavor to it. I am really surprised that they are not higher on the charts. I really enjoy all the songs. Each one to me feels different yet the same. They are different enough that it's not the same song done over and over yet it is similar enough that when its playing on the Ipod I know that it's Caught a Ghost playing. I enjoy that element of this band and I have to say that for a band to do that it is something. I also find that with this band I keep coming back to listen to it repeatedly on my Ipod whether in the car or at work and that is something big.

Favorite Track(s):
No Sugar in My Coffee, uuu, Human Nature

Grade: A I really enjoy this band and this album I can't wait to hear more from them.

Would Recommend:
This is one of those bands that once you hear them you can't help but keep listening to them and each time that you do you find something different in each song that  makes you enjoy the band even more. I highly recommend this band to any and everyone.

Get the music from Itunes here
Get the music from Amazon here

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Review ~ Doctor Who: Pest Control by Peter Anghelides (audio)

Title: Doctor Who: Pest Control 
Author: Peter Anghelides
Copyright: 2008
Type:  audio, science fiction
Pages: audio
Series: yes but not a series just a series by audio and doctor who

Reason for Reading
It’s David Tennant reading to me an adventure of him and Donna Noble my favorite company

The TARDIS is lost in battle on a distant planet. When the Doctor sets off in pursuit, Donna is left behind, and finds herself accepting a commission in the Pioneer Corps. Something is transforming soldiers into monstrous beetles, and she could be the next victim. Meanwhile, the Doctor steals a motorbike and stages a jailbreak. Well, how hard can it be to find the TARDIS, rescue Donna, and negotiate a peace? But that’s before the arrival of a brutal and remorseless mechanical exterminator, bent on wiping out the insects. It may be that nothing can stop it, because this robot’s solution for the infestation is very simple: kill everything. Featuring the Doctor and Donna, as played by David Tennant and Catherine Tate in the hit series from BBC Television, this story has been written specially for audio, and is read by David Tennant.

The Problems:
1.      Donna has a little role and is always and forever getting into trouble (nothing new) but this time it seemed out of character for her
2.      The story didn’t have the same pace as a typical doctor who story usually does
3.      The villain didn’t measure up as a villain and didn’t really make sense.

The Wins:
1.      David Tennant as always kills it. He gets the emotions and does the influx of voices. I can tell the different characters.
2.      I love anything that David Tennant does. The story wraps around and does finish so it’s almost something I could see being made into a show not just a book
3.      Donna Noble was at least in this one and she did have a full story in it.

Goodreads Grade: 3 out of 5 stars

Would you recommend this book to others? It’s a Doctor Who novel with David Tennant’s 10th Doctor so yes I would recommend it

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Review ~ The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Title: The Handmaid’s Tale Author: Margaret Atwood
Copyright: 1998
Type:  fiction
Pages: 311
Series: no

Reason for Reading
My friend Alyssa suggested it to me

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now... 

The Problems:
1.      It happened too fast had did we allow it to go from society of today to Offred? I don’t think even with the way that life is going that it would fall apart that fast with no explanation other than it just happened b/c babies weren’t being born?
2.      I needed more explanation during this to let me know how we got to where we were and why we as a society allowed it to happen
3.      There is way too much hype surrounding this book for what it offered

The Wins:
1.      It was interesting being in Offred’s head and watching her go through what she was going through and how she made the decision she made and why
2.      Seeing the life and rules the caste system and how it was set up was interesting and the “secret” society and how why we brushed against it yet still had the same things we claimed destroyed society was interesting. I would have liked to see more depth in that and what the consequences of that would be.
3.      I liked seeing Offred struggle with the basic choices she made and how she would reflect on the what ifs I believe out of everything those were the real moments of the story.

Goodreads Grade: 2 out of 5 stars

Would you recommend this book to others?  I really didn’t care for it I felt that we started in the middle of the story and for that reason it didn’t make sense how we went from the one extreme of this life to that life with little to no explanation of how we got there.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Update on 35 things to do before turning 36

35 things to do before turning 36
1. Read 52 books this year
Whelp it is March and I have only read 3 books so far so not looking promising

2. Read the Bible this year
Working my way through Exodus

3. continue to pay down my credit card every month
Whelp I have managed to pay off one so hopefully I continue the trend

4. Make a project from Pintrest
not yet

5. Read a classic book all the way through (not just audio but actually read it)
6. Go abroad
7. Attend a live play, ballet, symphony or opera
8. Learn to be grateful and positive every day (find something to be thankful and positive about the day)
9. Visit some local places around (road trip)
10. Attend a book reading or art gallery or a book signing

11. Do and finish the JJ Virgin diet
I did this and found out that I am intolerant to gluten and soy but boy howdy put them together and I am down for the count. It has been interesting. 

12. Go on a date
uh no

13. Write a letter to yourself something deep and personal to be read in 10 years
14.  Go to the zoo
15. See Chris Evans, David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Benedick Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman (if possible)
I have seen Chris Evans back in NOLA in January
I will see David Tennant and Matt Smith in St Louis and NYC in April
Chris Evans and Tom Hiddleston in June

16. Make my own bread (healthy kind)
17. See an opera (via movie theater) see a ballet
18. Have a heart-pumping adventure like skydiving or white water rafting
19. Get another tattoo
20. Attend a festival
21.  Learn how to make a gif
22. Explore more local libraries
23. Stargaze or go to a planetarium 
24. Go 24 hours without technology of any kind
25. Write in my journal at least once a week and work my way up to daily.
I have been managing to do this by using a bullet journal which is awesome

26. Do an escape room or scavenger hunt
27. laugh more learn how to loosen up and joke more
28. Cook a recipe from a cookbook weekly or at least 2 a month.
29. Learn a new makeup trick and hair style
30. Do my hair 2 days a week
I have been doing my hair everyday except this week

31. Try something new
32. Go to a drive in movie theater
33. Get a real bed with a frame and new mattress
I am moving in April to a new place and am hoping that this will happen at that point

34. Quit a bad habit
I haven't drank a soda since mid January and I am very happy about that

35. Work out