Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong

Rating: 5/5 stars Betrayals.jpg

Pages: 416

Series: Cainsville, Book 4

Genres: Adult, Thriller, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery, Fiction, Supernatural, Romance

 

She pointed at the dead girl. “Is that not clear enough? You stall and you play and you tell yourself this sin’t your business, and so we die.” Those strange eyes met mine. “Pick a side” (Ch. 1).

If I wasn’t already in love with this story, I certainly am now. The characters are compelling, the plot is gripping, and the world is awe inspiring. Armstrong has created a world filled with mythos that most books I’ve read haven’t even thought to touch on and has done so in a way that leaves me wanting to know more. Getting an insight into Welsh mythos – and a touch of Irish mythos thrown in for good measure – makes me realize just how little I know about the mythos from different parts of the world. The anthropologist in me is loving this.

Within the pages of Betrayals, Armstrong has made me feel both joy and sorrow – as well as everything in between. If you can think of an emotion, I’ve probably felt it while reading the Cainsville series. I can officially say I’m obsessed with Olivia and the world she’s found herself living in.

The problems in this world continue to get more and more complex, dragging Olivia, Gabriel, and Ricky further into a side of their world that they hadn’t even know existed a few short months ago. Now that Olivia has gotten her PI license she’s able to help Gabriel on a more professional level while still being able to hold her own independence. Sure she keeps finding herself in precarious situations, but she’s finally surrounded herself with people she trusts with her life and knows she can call on them for anything. Ricky is starting to come into his own as a person, pulling out of the shadow that the club and his father have cast over his life up until this point. He’s constantly being the mature one in the situation, making the tough choices for the people he loves and so that they don’t have to. And then we have Gabriel, still struggling to be honest with himself and being fiercely protective of the ones he loves.

If you’re looking for a series full of mystery and intrigue, with more than a touch of the fantastical, I highly recommend giving the series a try, beginning with Omens. You won’t be disappointed in the ways that these characters find themselves despite that hardships constantly being thrown their way.

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A Kind of Family by Bonnie Meekums

Book Cover

Rachel’s hand shook. The letter, written on old-fashioned airmail paper, was as flimsy as the future she had once imagined. She remembered being twelve years old, looking up to her brother who by then was six feet one and a half inches tall as compared to her five feet six. Being the tallest in her class, it mattered to her that her big brother was bigger than her. He made her feel secure. He used to smile at her softly, telling her with his eyes that whatever she did she would always be his little sis. Loved. Or so she thought.

He had written in brown ink on shiny blue paper. When she saw the airmail envelope, her heart leaped. Perhaps he was coming home?  Silly thought really. She knew he was settled in Perth. He had children. He had a new family. And he hadn’t made it home when their parents had died on separate wards within hours of each other. Nearly a year ago. Rachel forgave him that, though. He was busy. Flying a plane all over the world, why would he want to fly back just to support his little sis?  He told her he would say goodbye to their mother in his own way.

Why were you so stupid as to think he would still care about you?

Oh yes, she could always count on her inner, snide little ‘best friend’ at times like this. The voice that never quite left her alone. The voice that started the day her brother went to Australia. It got in there, now that no one was around to protect her from the bully inside herself. 


Blog Tour Schedule

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January 20th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Guest Post) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

Phantom of the Library (Review) https://phantomofthelibrary.com/

January 21st

Tales of a Natural Spoonie (Review) https://talesofanaturalspoonie.com/

My Bookish Bliss (Review) http://www.mybookishbliss.com

January 22nd

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

Just 4 My Books (Spotlight) http://www.just4mybooks.wordpress.com

January 23rd

Where Dragons Reside (Spotlight) https://kernerangelina.live/  

Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://www.tsarinapress.com

The Genre Minx Book Reviews (Spotlight)  http://www.thegenreminx.com/

January 24th

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Review) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

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Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong

Rating: 5/5 stars

Deceptions.jpg

Pages: 458

Series: Cainsville, Book 3

Genres: Adult, Thriller, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery, Fiction, Supernatural, Romance

 

The ride had ultimately landed me here, sleeping in the apartment of one of Chicago’s most notorious defense attorneys. My lawyer. My boss. And, though I’d never dare say it in front of him, my friend (Ch. 1, p. 1-2).

I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to read the Cainsville series because I’m loving every second of it. I find myself sitting on the edge of my seat just waiting to see what happens next. This is the first time I’ve ever read Deceptions, though I’d assumed I’d read it years ago, and Armstrong pulled me into so many different directions that I was shocked throughout the whole read. That’s one of the reasons I love Armstrong’s writing – she’s able to write mystery in a way that always leaves me guessing, always hungering for more. Even with the clues sprinkled throughout the story, the way in which everything comes together just took my breath away.

This book focuses more heavily on the mystery of the Valentines Killers than Visions did, which, in my opinion, brought the focus of the story back to the forefront. While a related mystery has popped up as the series progressed, it was nice to see everything tie back into the original mystery that Olivia was trying to solve.

The complex relationships within this novel are another reason that I find myself unwilling to hop into another world, instead focusing on finishing this series that has my complete, undivided attention. Instead of things getting easier for the cast, relationships continue to be muddled and complex giving the whole book a sense of reality, It was almost as if the situations in this book were happening to real people. Armstrong is fantastic at showcasing this in her writing and Deceptions is a wonderful example.

I’ve got my favourite relationships, though they’re flawed, and I couldn’t ask for anything better. Armstrong has created a world that feels real, filled with silent communication between people showing just how close they are and how deep their trust goes. While I don’t want to actually live in this twisted world, I’ve enjoyed every second that I’ve gotten to visit it.

If you’re looking for a fun mystery with a supernatural twist, you should check this series out. It ties together Welsh mythology and American serial killers in a beautifully wicked way. The romance part of the book doesn’t take center stage which I enjoyed. Instead, Armstrong made it a beautiful secondary plot line to the main events of the story.

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Visions by Kelley Armstrong

Rating: 4.75/5 stars Visions.jpg

Pages: 476

Series: Cainsville, Book 2

Genres: Adult, Thriller, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery, Fiction, Supernatural, Romance

 

Gabriel’s preternatural calm cracked then, not enough for the detective to notice, just a hairline fracture. I could see the panic in his eyes, as he struggled to give the gracious response, to say yes, that would be fine, thank you very much (Ch. 35, p. 228).

Before getting into this review, I have to admit that as I read this book I started to remember more of what happened in the series. This meant that I wasn’t as surprised during this novel as I was while reading Omens. However, as I reached the end of Visions I realized that I haven’t read past this book in the series. While I’ve picked up every book in this series right when it was published, it seems as if I didn’t actually read them. A shame, really, since Armstrong is one of my favourite writers (I promise I’ll stop saying that so often). This means that starting with Deceptions I’ll be reading this series with fresh eyes.

Keeping that in mind, I love the way that mythos plays a role in this world. Armstrong has done a beautiful job at slipping in mentions of past experiences and what Olivia refers to as fairy tales. It’s done in a way that shows the reader slightly more information than Olivia is privy to, allowing the reader to make logical leaps before everything is spelled out in the story. This also means that the reader is given many clues to piece together the meat of the plot before the characters.

While there remains a section of this story that deals with the Larsens and their alleged crimes, this novel does not focus on it. Of course, Omens didn’t always put a huge focus on this either but it did focus more on Pamela and Todd than Visions. If this is the part of the story that you were looking forward to reading more about, I can only guess that it comes up more in the rest of the series than it did this novel. Visions leaves that whole part of the story open ended, instead focusing on the preternatural aspects of Cainsville and its inhabitants.

If you’ve gone into this series looking forward to learning more about the preternatural side of things, of learning the Welsh mythos, than I think you’ll be pleased with this read. Visions focuses heavily on this side of Cainsville and the events happening around Olivia, trying to fill in some of the clues that the reader is left with at the end of Omens.

On top of my usual recommendations of anyone looking for a good fantasy read, I would recommend this series to anyone who’s a fan of Armstrong’s writing. To me, it’s got a great mix of feelings from her Rockton novels and Otherworld novels. We get the mystery and the supernatural thrown into one wonderful story.

Of course, if you’re just experiencing Armstrong’s writing for the first time, I would still recommend this series to you. While it does have minor mature content, I don’t think that it’s so over the top as to scare people away from the mystery and intrigue of the read. If you’re looking for a good read about someone who’s of “New Adult” age – mid 20s – and actually acts their age, this is a fantastic read to pick up. As long as you’re interested in the fantastical, this series will entertain you.

Continue reading “Visions by Kelley Armstrong”

Omens by Kelley Armstrong

Rating: 4.75/5 stars

Omens.jpg

Pages: 486

Series: Cainsville, Book 1

Genres: Adult, Thriller, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery, Fiction, Supernatural, Romance

 

That’s how superstitions thrive – you see a so-called omen, and when it doesn’t come true, you find another event that fits… if you ram that square peg into the round hole (Ch. 50, p. 352).

Olivia Taylor-Jones isn’t your average debutante. No, the idea of becoming a housewife and never working a real job is something she finds abhorrent. While she deeply loves her fiance James, she can’t imagine being a politician’s wife or giving up her own dreams to make him happy. Olivia has been pretending to be the perfect high society girl, the perfect fiance – even the perfect daughter – long enough that she knows this life isn’t really for her.

Yet when things hit the fan, Olivia can’t help but wish she fit into this world a little better. Feeling as if her whole life was a lie, Olivia leaves her loved ones behind in order to protect them from her past – the past she didn’t know about since her adoption as a toddler. After all, who wants to be associated with the daughter of serial killers?

I love the way that Armstrong wrote this story. Olivia is struggling to put clues together in order to prove to herself whether or not the Larsens are actually guilty while the reader is given access to clues Olivia doesn’t know. This allows the reader to attempt to solve the case before Olivia, though I must admit Olivia is pretty good at sussing out what’s really going on. Even if she only has part of the story.

Throw into the mix a dynamic cast of characters and this is a book I struggled to put down. Not that I ever wanted to put it down, but sometimes the real world gets in the way. What I mean is: Armstrong did a fantastic job at creating a cast of characters I can’t wait to learn more about. Each character feels wholly themself, jumping off the page as if you could walk past them on the sidewalk and have them be a living, breathing person.

I also love the way that Armstrong throws in just a hint of the supernatural in this novel. As the opening of a series, it does, in my opinion, a perfect job of getting the reader interested in what the main character knows and understands about the world around her. The abilities that have remained hidden since she was a child start to flare up and Olivia needs to figure out for herself how much of them she’s going to be willing to accept – and how much she’s going to ignore and pretend isn’t there. There’s also more to Cainsville than meets the eye, and though Olivia can’t put her finger on it she knows she feels safe within town boarders.

While I read this story when it first came out back in 2013, it was so long ago – and I’ve read a lot of books since then – that I barely remembered who the characters were going into this read through. This meant that I got to experience the events of this novel as if it was my first time reading it. And I loved every second of it.

If you’re looking for a great mystery and don’t mind a supernatural aspect to it, I’d highly recommend giving this novel a try if you haven’t already. I fond this series to be different from Armstrong’s other writings, such as her Otherworld books that I’ve gushed about on more than one occasion, which just goes to show how dynamic of a writer she is.

The only real complaint that I’ve seen about this novel is the fact that it’s very clearly a setup novel to the rest of the series. While I can understand why this would turn some people off, I don’t think that this fact alone should keep you from reading the novel. Some of Armstrong’s other works did a much better job at holding their own without playing setup to following books, that’s for sure. And yet, I’m not mad at the way Omens was written. It’s made me excited to continue on with the series and I plan on picking up Visions in the near future.

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Nightfall by Shannon Messenger

Rating: 4/5 stars Nightfall.jpg

Pages: 794

Series: Keeper of the Lost Cities, Book 6

Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Young Adult

 

A tiny voice in the back of her mind warned that she was losing control, and that if she didn’t stop, everyone in the room would suffer. But the voice was drowned out by the thunderous fury (Ch. 33, p. 330).

Can I just say how hard it is to reminded about a loss that’s happened in the series when you’re not prepared for it? I have to admit, my mind had blocked out some of the events that happened in previous books in this series, almost as if I didn’t want to admit that they’d actually happened. Yet, once again, Messenger was able to make me feel things that I didn’t want to feel. The heartbreaking truths that are revealed in this series have hit me time and time again.

While I still greatly enjoyed this novel, this read was the first time that I found myself questioning some of Messenger’s choices with the way the plot was laying out. Don’t get me wrong, I can understand why certain things happened the way that they did in this novel. It’s just that I wouldn’t have thought these things were the way the story was heading. I’m in no way saying that the choices that Messenger did anything wrong with the plot, since it is her world to do with as she sees fit. I’m more saying that some of the choices that she made have left me quite confused.

All that being said, I really am looking forward to continuing on with the series by picking up Flashback in the new year. (And only partially because I didn’t bring the book with me during my visit to my parents until January 1st…) True to her word, Messenger loves to leave her readers on cliffhangers – Nightfall being no exception.

If you’re looking for a book to give someone who’s not the biggest reader (and won’t be thrown off by the size of this series), I’d recommend giving this series a try. If you’ve found yourself in a reading slump and need something to draw you into a new world and get you to remember your love of reading, I’d recommend giving this series a try. If you’re just looking for an amazing fantasy world filled with a unique cast of characters and an engaging world, I’d recommend you giving this series a try. Heck, if you’re just looking for a fun fantasy read (and aren’t afraid to get emotional), I’d recommend you give this series a try. (Have I hammered in how much I enjoy this series yet?)

Of course, you’ll need to start with Book 1 – The Keeper of the Lost Cities (my review here; pick up your own copy here).

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January TBR

With a new year comes new reading goals. As always, my Goodreads goal for 2020 is going to be 100 books, which means an average of just over 8 books a month. With that in mind, I’ve created the following TBR for the month of January.

For anyone who’s discovered my TBR system for the first time, I’ve organized the books on my TBR by Physical Books, AudioBooks, and eBooks.

 

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