Search This Blog

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Supernatural Mystery, YA Fantasy, and Crime

The Restorer (Graveyard Queen Bk. 1) by Amanda Stevens

I love a good ghost story, and the cover was irresistible.  

Book Description:  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 was OK, but ultimately, not exactly what I wanted.  The mystery held my interest, but the "romance" (not even quite romance and definitely only on Amelia's side) felt awkward.  Amelia is a curiously dull character; the author includes some hints about a mysterious background (like, who were her birth parents?), but not even these hints lift her from the page.  And why would a person who can see ghosts, but must never engage them want to work in cemeteries?

Neither Amelia nor Devlin truly appealed to me, and I need to feel some passion, whether positive or negative, about the characters to become fully immersed in a story.  I think this is one of those novels that should not have been told from the first person pov.  The use of first person has been a failing (at least for me) in a couple of books lately--sometimes first person is perfect, but often it is the main flaw in a narrative.  

Interesting article on interns learning restoration and conservation of cemeteries.


Mystery/Supernatural.  2012.  Print version:  368 pages.
The Secret Fire by C.J. Daugherty and Carina Rozenfield is a YA novel that can't really get beyond some of the stereotypical characteristics of the YA Fantasy genre.  

*Studious girl/Dangerous boy romance
*A prophecy
*Insta-love or attraction
*Demonic villains

I liked that the initial interaction between Taylor (in England) and Sacha (in France) was supposed to be a tutoring relationship over the internet.  This was an opportunity to develop the characters, but was not fully taken advantage of and was too brief.  You just have to imagine that the characters got more out of the interchange than you, as the reader, did.

Secondary characters offered another opportunity to give depth to the story, but felt more like cardboard cutouts in a diorama.  

The novel had a lot of wasted potential.  There are so many good authors in the YA and fantasy genres that  it is necessary to give real dimension to both characters and plot in order to lift a book from OK to something you will remember.  The Secret Fire is OK, but doesn't rise above that. 


YA/Fantasy.  Sept. 3, 2015.  Print version:  357 pages.
The Blissfully Dead by Louise Voss & Mark Edwards.  This is a new crime/police procedural for me. Both authors have written independently as well as in partnership, but this is my first novel by the authors.  The Blissfully Dead is the second in a series featuring DI Patrick Lennon and is one of those novels that introduces a sense of apprehension early on.

It begins with a prologue (I'm going to have to keep track of all the crime novels that begin with a prologue) about a fifteen-year-old girl who is secretly going to meet her idol, a member of the most popular boy band of the season.  Rose is not particularly attractive, but has been extremely active on forums and twitter about the band, and believes she has been singled out because of her dedication as a fan.

You know where this is going.  When her body is discovered, DI Patrick Lennon takes the lead on the case.  Then another young fan is murdered.  Who will be next?

The tension in the novel is heightened by DI Lennon's backstory.  His wife, suffering from postpartum depression nearly killed their infant daughter.  After two and a half years, the doctors consider her ready to come home, but Patrick isn't at all sure of how he feels about the woman he once loved.  There are also some pressures in the workplace that keep Patrick on edge.

The novel deals with social problems that make the news every day, including online bullying, adolescent worship of celebrities, and the abuse of powerful members of the entertainment industry.

NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer

Crime/Police Procedural.  Sept. 29, 2015.  Print length:  418 pages.


  1. That's a disappointment for The Restorer and The Secret Fire; I thought they've a great premise. Perhaps I'll check them out at some point but not now. The Blissfully Dead sounds good to me. :)

    1. I did enjoy The Blissfully Dead, and I will look for more be these authors! The internet bullying phenomenon is a scary one as is the power accorded to celebrities. The book references some real life scandals in England, but we, of course, have our own sordid examples in the U.S.

  2. I thought I recognized Amanda Stevens, but I think I'm thinking of another author. It's too bad about The Restorer. It sounds interesting, and I do enjoy paranormal mysteries. The Secret Fire sounded like it could have been another good one if the characters were better developed. Blissfully Dead does sound more promising. I've noticed a lot of crime novels start of with prologues too. :-)

    1. :) Yep, the prologue is definitely trending right now. I did like The Blissfully Dead; I wasn't familiar with the authors, but hope to read more from them.