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My Need to Read

I love to explore genre fiction, and while I usually go for books with a romantic thread running through it, I just love great character and world building. And since I can hardly stand to let go of my favorite characters, I like series.

The Kingdom - Amanda Stevens (Review originally posted at Book Lovers Inc)Bottom Line: All in all, The Kingdom has boatloads of lush atmosphere (I’m sure you’ll hear that whenever someone describes this book), with several moments of creepiness and excitement. If you scare easily, I would suggest not reading this book alone in the dead of night. ^_^ But I’d certainly recommend the book and series to any and all fans of UF, especially those looking for something different from the usual.Review:Atmospheric. Intense. Those are two words that keep coming to mind when I think about this book, a combination of quiet horror and lingering suspense. The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens has expanded on the strengths of its predecessor, The Restorer, while focusing on a different set of characters and locations. The beautifully written prose also brings to mind a third word: Creeptastic. ^_^I’ve said it before, and it bears saying again: Amanda Stevens has a knack for setting up atmosphere. It’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of reading her books, in my opinion. The settings described just come alive with the language she employs. Since many of these settings involve spirits and the paranormal (remote towns and abandoned cemeteries in the deep South), the book takes on a gray, spooky feel…and the author hits the appropriate note with prose that feels effortless.There’s quite a bit of entanglement as far as how the characters fit together, how bits of information are relevant to later developments. Some may not love that degree of complexity, nor the seemingly random, odd occurrences; heck, at times even I was a bit exasperated at feeling so unsure of what was going on—who was friend or foe, how to process certain events. But since that’s often part of the deal when reading a plot that revolves around a deep mystery, some of that is to be rightfully expected. ^_^There’s a lot more revealed about protagonist Amelia Gray, which is a welcome direction given that much of the first book focused outwardly to other characters’ situations and backgrounds. Amelia is extremely nuanced, and the mystery surrounding her very existence is juicy enough to fill a whole string of tales. I like that she’s strong and brave, yet not impervious to fear and vulnerability.As in book one, there was a shade of romantic intrigue, enough to satisfy the readers who love that element, but not so much as to overshadow the main plot thread and mystery. It provided enough zip to keep the story thrilling and full of life.A bit of truth telling here: I actually enjoyed the first book more than this second one. But considering this installment does not have the benefit of “newness” that The Restorer did, I have to account for the heightened expectations (I can definitely say that The Restorer was one of my favorite books of 2011; top 3, easily. That’s a tough act to follow). Furthermore, this book has even more of an unfinished feel than the last book, insofar as many plot threads from the first and second book will feed directly into the next. Thank goodness for the fact that book three will be released in only a couple more weeks!