God, I loved this book! Most definitely, The Sinner by Amanda Stevens is the strongest book in her Graveyard Queen series yet. If you don't have this God, I loved this book! Most definitely, The Sinner by Amanda Stevens is the strongest book in her Graveyard Queen series yet. If you don't have this on your pre-ordered list yet, what are you waiting for?
The Sinner picks up approximately a year after where The Visitor leaves off: Amelia is tending her wounded heart and has decided to temporarily leave Charleston to try to move on, by taking a lengthy and complicated cemetery restoration job about an hour away. Her gifts are continuing to develop, despite that she doesn't know how to use them; she just wants to be normal, after all.
The Sinner introduces many new and intriguing characters to the series. There is the mysterious Lucien Kendrick, a detective on the local police force in Ascension, South Carolina, who fits Amelia's tall, dark, & dangerous stereotype, with the hint of a French accent to add to his sexy, other worldly charm. Officer Tom Malloy, a native to Ascension, who perhaps has seen and heard more than his fair share of the unusual over the years; Annalee Nash, a woman who has a haunting and tragic past tied up in the town of Ascension.
Stevens also re-introduces us to an old frenemy, Darius Goodwine. Nothing good can come from having Darius involved, yet he seems to encourage and push Amelia to the brink of using her gifts, with the plea demand that she save his daughter, Rhapsody, niece to Devlin's dead wife, Mariama, and in exchange, he will help her find her great-grandmother's missing key. A hard offer to turn down for her.
I wasn't sure who to suspect in this novel; at the top of my list were Kendrick, Malloy, Annalee, and Dr. Rupert Shaw. In fact, I've been suspicious of Shaw since the beginning; his ties to the Order of the Coffin and Claw, as well as being deeply entrenched in the occult have always made me suspect he is sort of undercover. Each time Amelia visits with him and gives away a little more of herself, my heart pounds and I cringe.
The Sinner was extra-creepy, if that is even possible. Amelia stumbles upon a caged grave outside Seven Gates Cemetery, with a freshly dead arm trying to claw it's way out of the dirt. She's seeing things, hearing things, and feeling as if she's being summoned places. Is she a sort of reaper? I'm not sure yet, because she's still finding her gifts and her story isn't over. Stevens paints Ascension with southern charm, peppered with tragedy, darkness, and a sinister undertone that you feel as the reader.
Amelia's story isn't over yet and I can't wait to find out what happens next!
*Advanced reading copy courtesy of Harlequin MIRA via Netgalley.
This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post. ...more
The text is richly descriptive. Rutkoski pulls no punches with the conditions of the slave camp and the depths from which Kestral must be saved Pros:
The text is richly descriptive. Rutkoski pulls no punches with the conditions of the slave camp and the depths from which Kestral must be saved.
I really enjoyed Kestral's indecisiveness when it came to her father. He was a terrible father, but I think his fear and grief paralyzed any love he might have shown her over the years.
The Winner's Kiss is very much a book of redemption and over-coming PTSD. I liked that Rutkoski didn't sacrifice the slow process of overcoming PTSD in favor of keeping the story more fast-paced. In reality, sufferers of PTSD are a slow recovery and as a reader, it felt authentic for me to be frustrated with Kestral and internally shouting at her to get over it already. Because those emotions and reactions happen in real life, too.
And more Arin
Roshar is probably my favorite secondary character. He was saucy and playful, but he had a fine edge that would cut you badly if you got on his wrong side. I actually would love side stories with him as the main character. Marie, can we please have that?!
Most of all, I enjoyed that we are shown that looks and circumstances can be deceiving. People are not always what they seem and maybe we should walk miles in their shoes before we aim to get revenge.
It was, at times, very slow. But that mostly has to do with the PTSD and while it was slow in parts, Rutkoski did use that time for good character building.
I would like to have seen more from Verex and Risha; I don't think Rutkoski took enough advantage of them in this final book.
I really had to reach for things I didn't love. Overall, The Winner's Kiss will satisfy fans of the story because it delivers a realistic ending to a war-ridden world and romance, and really, I can never get enough of Kestral and Arin! This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post. ...more
The story is manipulative. It's the kind of mystery that makes your heart race as you try to discern any clues Hawkins may have left on the pages as to whodunit. I spent the entire book desperate for some kind of idea of who the killer was. And while I had my suspicions (that were right on the money, thankyouverymuch!), I think Hawkins did a great job at making me second-guess myself all the way to the end.
All of the characters are simply awful. Truly, there was not one character I actually liked, but I "didn't like" them in the best possible way. No pun intended, but listening to how they went through their situations was like watching a train wreck happen. You knew it was coming and you just couldn't look away. I liked that I disliked them because it gave the story a little bit of schadenfreude for me.
I'm not going to spend a lot of time renumerating on this story since Jessica already did a fantastic review of it. But suffice to say I loved this audio. It was the kind of gripping mystery with awesome narration that I can easily become addicted to. I will definitely be looking for more from this author! Narrator 4-1-1 Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, and India Fisher each narrated from a different character's point of view, and they were perfectly cast. Their voices fit the personalities so well and I enjoyed listening to them. I will definitely be looking for more of their performances. This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post. ...more