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BOOK REVIEW – Deceptions (Cainsville #3) by Kelley Armstrong

BOOK REVIEW – Deceptions (Cainsville #3) by Kelley ArmstrongDeceptions (Cainsville #3)
by Kelley Armstrong
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Otherworld series delivers her most suspenseful novel yet, where the discovery of Cainsville’s dark past and the true nature of its inhabitants leads to murder, redemption, love, and unspeakable loss.

Olivia Taylor Jones’s life has exploded. She’s discovered she is not only adopted, but her real parents are convicted serial killers. Fleeing the media frenzy, she took refuge in the oddly secluded town of Cainsville. She has since solved the town’s mysteries and finds herself not only the target of its secretive elders but also her stalker ex-fiancé.

Visions continue to haunt her: particularly a little blond girl in a green sundress who insists she has an important message for Olivia, one that may help her balance the light and darkness within herself. Death stalks both Olivia and the two men most important to her, as she desperately searches to understand whether ancient scripts are dictating the triangle that connects them. Will darkness prevail, or does Olivia have the power to prevent a tragic fate?

✨ Now available in Paperback! ✨

Whaaaat? Is it finished already? Damn it.

Gabriel character’s growth : Alright. I feel like a broken record, so don’t mind me. As in the first two books, here lies my favorite part of these books. I’m all about the characters most of the time, and a great characterization can decide of my love for a book. In Deceptions Gabriel continues to learn how to stop being a cyborg (not really) and I absolutely adored peeking through the layers of his character. GAH. I love this man. See, I love the way he talks. All practical. I’ve loved his tough side from the start, his inability to react like people are supposed to, because that what makes him different from other characters : he’s not a bad-boy, he’s not a knight in shining armor either, he just… is, and I can’t help but enjoy every time he appears, even if he is being an ass (yes, it happens. No, it doesn’t change a thing). When he starts showing vulnerabilities, though? I melt. I just – I can’t. It’s subtle, and it’s way more interesting as it is. It’s showing, never telling, but he cares, so much – it made my heart throb with wonder and yes, break a little.

“He kept giving me that look, the confusion deepening to something like disappointment, like hurt, as if he’d tried to be kind and thoughtful, and I was rejecting it, and he didn’t know why. That little boy, reaching out and being pushed away. Goddamn it, Gabriel. Don’t look at me like that. Wake up. Snap out of it, pull that wall back up and retreat behind it.”

Finally, his interactions with Olivia and really – everyone – made my day. I’ll take more of this, please.

“His brows shot higher. “That would imply I have time for such frivolities. I don’t watch television or movies, and while I read a fair bit, fiction would hardly advance my education. Data, data, data. I cannot make bricks without clay.” I crossed my arms and glowered up at him. “Obviously, you’ve made an exception.” “I never make exceptions. An exception disproves the rule.” ” I hate you so much right now.”

Ricky’s case : Strangely, I feel bad about Ricky. Why? Because he’s genuinely adorable with Olivia and they seem really great together but even if 1)he doesn’t annoy me and 2)I don’t mind their sex scenes, on the contrary, I can’t help but feel not involved in their story. I’m a Gabriel girl through and through, even if I repeat, it’s not a love triangle-team Gabriel kind of situation. Not really. To be frank, I have nothing against Ricky : he’s sweet, respectful, charming, a little wild… I like him, really. And still… He isn’t near as fascinating as Gabriel. *shrug* Gabriel is the one who makes me smile. Always.

Olivia’s behavior : I still like her, but I have to admit that she annoys me a little when she refuses to see the obvious View Spoiler ». However, she does act on it and I appreciate how realistic that makes her : yes, in real life we bury our head in the sand sometimes. I’m often the Queen of that ship, even if I’m not proud of it. That doesn’t prevent me from waking up when I sense that I need to, and Olivia does. Whilst lost and confused, she always stays brave, smart, and funny. Am I tired to be in her head? No, never. And that’s saying something : she doesn’t ramble, she doesn’t daydream, but she always tries to make the best out of the chaos that followed her arrival in Cainsville. However, I cannot stand how she handles a certain situation, and it’s a spoiler, so here we goes (sorry) :View Spoiler »

TC! Every book needs a moody cat.

Addictive factor : Once again, the writing is completely addictive and I couldn’t stop reading for the life of me. From page one I dived into Cainsville’s mess as if I had never stopped, and there are very few series about which I can say that.

Creepy factor :

First of all : I’m a chicken (yes, it’s important to state). This being said, the creepy scenes increased in number in this third book, definitely. I got chills at her visions and no, the light of my Kindle wasn’t enough anymore. Chicken, I said.

ANSWERS! I’m not gonna lie, the first two books let me –

You get the idea. Lost. Confused. Did I say lost? So, does it change? Yes we get explanations about the murders. Yes they’re twisted and wicked. Yes I loved that. Does the story seem less captivating after getting these answers? Oh hell no. I’m even more curious to see where the story will go from now on. Now, I must confess that some parts disappointed me and that I am scared that this series will become stereotypical (that’s why I lowered my rating) View Spoiler ». I hate Fate related plots and I really can’t fathom why authors do that. I strongly hope I’m wrong, and I want to trust Kelley Armstrong to stay far from the easiest path View Spoiler », because so far everything was way more complicated than it seemed, and I loved these books for it.

Ps. I need to say something about the bike club scene : it made me cringe so bad. I do not like girl fight at all, and the whole “handling over” Olivia played with my nerves. I know, I have no idea if it is accurate or not. Maybe it is. I still can’t help but hate the casual sexism that is pictured there. Ugh.

BOOK REVIEW – The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

BOOK REVIEW – The Masked Truth by Kelley ArmstrongThe Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for.

Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal.

The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.

The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.

Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.

► Let’s start with several questions, okay?

1) Are you able to repeatedly suspend your disbelief?

✘ It doesn’t bother you if the therapy weekend aimed at teenagers is organized in an old office building without windows (because apparently when you’re disturbed/suicidal/suffering from random mental illness issues, spending days without natural light is going to help you) and which is not up to fire code. You think that parents would willingly put their children through this.

✘ It seems natural to you that a teenager whose dad was part of a SWAT team actually knows loads of details about the way hostage operations are handled, but wait, hey, he knew that he couldn’t say anything, so they only watch SWAT TV shows and debriefed them. I’m so silly sometimes.

✘ If someone tells you that … Oh, damn, spoiler. Well, let’s just say that I couldn’t buy several scenes here.

The good news is, it’s not predictable, because obviously if it’s not believable every twist has the power to throw you off.

2) Are you excited about a plot which revolves around two teenagers who are running around in an office building for at least 50% of the novel? (I can’t say more, I stopped there)

✘ You don’t mind that most of their discoveries are constituted of doors, and doors, and more doors. They run. In an office building. Oh, a villain. Let’s fight. They run in an office building. A door. Did you hear that noise? *insert random childhood event* They run. THEY RUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUN.

✘ You intend to work on your frustration management : this book is perf for that!

3) Do you love ramblings?

✘ You just adore yelling to your characters to GO TO THE FREAKING POINT DAMMIT.

Info-dumping and random anecdotes about the characters’ past are your thing.

✘A female-lead who spends her time internally dismissing herself for something GREAT she did doesn’t annoy you one bit.

If you answered YES to every question, you should be good. As for me, I’m done at 50% : there’s only so much time I’m willing to lose on books that bore me. Of course, of course, perhaps it gets better after. It’s your call, as usual, and maybe my frustration management does need improvement.

Ps. Let’s talk about Max. Okay, I feel bad. Shame on you Max to make me feel as if I was lacking common understanding and empathy. See, Max rambles a lot in his head. But Max is entitled to be a serial rambler because of his condition. I loved him at first. Really, I did. I swear. It remains that as much as his ramblings were understandable and defendable, sometimes I just wanted him to GO TO THE FREAKING POINT.

So, Max, you make me feel as if I was a nasty bitch. You don’t want that now do you? DO YOU? I love him, and I thought that it was an amazing idea to incorporate such a different character. I did root for him and Riley to hook up. But it doesn’t replace an actual PLOT!

So unfortunately even him reached the limit of my patience. However, you should know that my extra half-star is for him. I might skim the rest to get to the kiss scene.

#Notevenashamed

BOOK REVIEW – Visions (Cainsville #2) by Kelley Armstrong

BOOK REVIEW – Visions (Cainsville #2) by Kelley ArmstrongVisions (Cainsville #2)
by Kelley Armstrong
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

As #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong’s new Cainsville series continues, Olivia’s power to read omens leads to the discovery of a gruesome crime with troubling connections to her new hometown.

Omens, the first installment in Kelley Armstrong’s exciting new series, introduced Olivia Taylor-Jones, daughter of notorious serial killers, and Gabriel Walsh, the self-serving, morally ambiguous lawyer who became her unlikely ally. Together, they chased down a devious killer and partially cleared her parents of their horrifying crimes.

Their success, however, is short-lived. While Olivia takes refuge in the old, secluded town of Cainsville, Gabriel’s past mistakes have come to light, creating a rift between the pair just when she needs his help the most.

Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed to look like her, but the body vanishes before anyone else sees it. Olivia’s convinced it’s another omen, a sign of impending danger. But then she learns that a troubled young woman went missing just days ago—the same woman Olivia found dead in her car. Someone has gone to great lengths to kill and leave this young woman as a warning. But why? And what role has her new home played in this disturbing murder?

Olivia’s effort to uncover the truth places her in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces, forces that have their own agenda, and closely guarded secrets they don’t want revealed.

book 1 : Omens ★★★★ (4.5 stars)

“We are imprisoned by the truth we dare not see.
We are imprisoned by the questions we dare not ask.”

► The story starts when Omens ends, Olivia still trying to make sense of everything that happened to her – and to her serial-killers biological parents. While Omens was meant to be read as a thriller more than anything else, in Visions the mythology introduced there starts to be unraveled and more we learn about the different fights at stake, more I found myself completely enthralled in Kelley Armstrong’s story. Indeed whilst the mystery elements are still present, I can’t deny that the paranormal aspects increase in importance in this second book.

Every answer leads to more questions, and the different threads we follow seem so intricate that despite the clues given to us the mystery thickens and isn’t solved by any means.

Again I felt captivated from the start, the investigation pulling me in and the incredible dialogues holding my interest through and through. As I already said, I really, really love reading about these characters. This series is addictive, trust me on this.

▨ Olivia is resilient, stubborn, flawed, and still completely enjoyable. Despite the fact that I didn’t agree with all her choices, I genuinely care about what will happen to her in this strange world she discovered, because frankly? Her actions ring true to me and I can always understand her : she refuses to be used as a pawn yet she’s ready to play games to grab the answers she needs. Who wouldn’t?

In a word, she’s fierce and never, ever annoying. About how many MC can I say that? So few, guys, so few.

▨ Gabriel. GAH. I need to make a statement here : I completely fell for this manipulative little shit who is so much more than he appears. What can I say? He makes me laugh in his bossy way, I care so so much about him! His secret is… He’s incredibly multi-layered : from his words to his facial expressions or instant-jerk reactions, we readers have to observe him carefully to try making sense of his character and well, okay, I’m fascinated. Also, he cracks me up. SO MUCH. And I just love the practical and unfeeling way he talks, with maybe, just maybe, feelings lurking behind (I know! Such a crazy theory!)

Once again the quality of the secondary characters strengthens grandly what could have been a weak plot : From the Cainville’s inhabitants to the strange creatures people (?) Olivia meets, every character is interesting, none is wasted, and it adds so many layers to the story!

I feel the need to talk about the men gravitating around Olivia and the way relationships between them are handled. In my honest opinion we don’t have a love triangle in Visions (and even less in Omens).
✔ James is a controlling asshole whose relationship with Olivia ended.
✔ Gabriel is… Well, I’ll come back to their relationship after, count me on this (yes, because that’s by far my favorite part of the book, duh)
✔ Ricky is the only one who can be seen as a possible love-interest at the time. Period.

But the best thing about this book is by far the way the development of Gabriel & Olivia partnership is handled : as far as characterization is concerned, we have good character development and then we have excellent dynamics growth. Let me tell you something : I rarely met characters whose relationship gradually evolves in such a splendid way that Gabriel and Olivia’s. From their somewhat untrusting and forced collaboration in Omens to the partnership they develop in Visions, nothing feels forced but everything brings real vibes. Really, it’s fucking fantastic how Kelley Armstrong can give us so little hope at first and slowly build foundations for a friendship. Until we starve for more. Damn, I feel like cheering because maybe, just maybe, they’re friends now. I know, I’m pathetic. Move on. But I’m not gonna lie : the fierceness they show when they protect each other made my day. As Olivia rightly said, “You read actions and ignore words.”

► To sum-up, Visions offers us a strong sequel to the story started in Omens and I can’t see why you wouldn’t love it if you enjoyed book 1. Strongly recommended.

PS. I chose to not add quotes (or barely) even though I saved plenty of them (mostly from Gabriel, of course), because I prefer let you discover them for yourself, especially when it comes to Olivia and Gabriel interactions. Trust me, it’s worth it^^.

BOOK REVIEW – Omens (Cainsville #1) by Kelley Armstrong

BOOK REVIEW – Omens (Cainsville #1) by Kelley ArmstrongOmens (Cainsville #1)
by Kelley Armstrong
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions.

But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancé, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.

Olivia ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and cloistered community that takes a particular interest in both Olivia and her efforts to uncover her birth parents’ past.

Aided by her mother’s former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, Olivia focuses on the Larsens’ last crime, the one her birth mother swears will prove their innocence. But as she and Gabriel start investigating the case, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that have remained hidden since her childhood, gifts that make her both a valuable addition to Cainsville and deeply vulnerable to unknown enemies. Because there are darker secrets behind her new home and powers lurking in the shadows that have their own plans for her.

“First you buy me a mocha. Then you let me help you hide a body. Now you take me to a biker clubhouse. Best. Day. Ever.”

Wow. Color me surprised : I certainly didn’t start Omens with high expectations and yet… It kept me on the edge of my seat right up to the end.

The first thing you need to know is that it is NOT Urban Fantasy by any means. Although I was more than okay with that because UF never was my favorite genre (that’s an understatement), the blurb and the shelves can be misleading and you would be disappointed if that’s what you expect.

Think… Criminal Minds meets Supernatural. A murder investigation with sparks of paranormal. A mystery that will keep you guessing the whole time, glued to the pages, where you need to pay attention at every omen and even every dream. Just sayin’.

“I sat there, feeling sick and shocked and angry, most of all furious with myself for being such a fool, such a damned fool.
This wasn’t a game. It was serious and ugly and I wanted nothing to do with it. And yet, in wanting nothing to do with it, I was a hypocrite.”

As for the writing, don’t expect purple prose or beautiful sentences here. Yet despite the pretty generic writing, I enjoyed it immensely for what it is : to the point, true. And it works : I genuinely laughed. Smiled. Feared. Freaked out. Ate it up.

If Olivia’s POV (in first person past tense) owns the show, the story is interspersed with passages in random people’s POV that are told in third person. How unsettling as it sounds, strangely it didn’t bother me at all but on the contrary I thought that it added interesting layers to the story.

But what I preferred were, by far, the dialogues. Indeed they were clever and funny in a non show-off way, the kind of private joke funny that doesn’t allow me to take a sentence off context and say LOOK AT THIS! THIS IS HILARIOUS! Nope. Yet in context? With all the characters’ dynamics background? I laughed. I giggled. At the most random parts.

To sum-up, we have :
An enthralling mystery to resolve ☑
An interesting background filled with fae folklore ☑
Several scenes really creepy ☑
A compelling writing ☑

In my opinion Kelley Armstrong handled her characterization perfectly : quietly, she set her characters in motion and just…. let the reader manage them, scrutinize them. I can’t express how much I loved how she let me forge my own opinion without never telling me who they’re supposed to be. Indeed she never tells us what to think, and that’s brilliant – and so, so rare. Actually it’s when we stumble upon books like this one that we realize how often we’re told how the characters are in many books : This character is nice. He is hot. She is mean. Not an once of this telling strategy with Omens characters, and I’m so grateful for that.

Both main characters are manipulative and selfish. BEST. FEEL. EVER. Oh, also, their banter is fabulous.

The heroine, Olivia, is relatable, believable, willing to be strong but quite stung by the news, as everyone would be : how would you react if you learnt that you were adopted and that your biological parents were famous serial-killers? Huh? Does she hide behind her soon-to-be-senator fiancé?

She’s going to handle it her way, thank you very much. Courageous this one. Frankly, I cared for her from the start. Don’t get fooled, though : she’s not our perfect little one, faaaaar from it, but she’s ready to do anything to unravel the truth and we follow her wanderings like nice puppets. Trust me, Gabriel is right : she does have a backbone, and I loved that.

“You’re not shooting the cat. It would leave a mess.”
“True. Also, the killing of small animals is the entrance ramp onto the serial killer highway.” I paused. “Damn. I bet the cat knows that. He picked me because I can’t hurt him, or I’d be fulfilling my biological destiny. So I’m screwed. The cat stays. Unless you’ll kill him…” I glanced at him. “How does fifty bucks sound?”

SPOILER ALERT : Don’t worry, nobody harms the cat. Yet. (I kid, I kid)

Now, Gabriel.

“My nephew is a manipulative, scheming, unscrupulous son of a bitch. And those are his good qualities.”

I’m a sucker for multi-layered and quite untrustworthy characters, that’s why it won’t come as a surprise that I’m completely drawn to Gabriel’s character, and not in a romantic way : here’s a man who is fascinating and not because he’s a love-interest but because what I saw of his personality (I know! Not eight-packs or other shining things guys always have *in books*) appeals to me and above that, intrigues me. The problem I usually have with controlling – or powerful – male-leads lies with the fact that the heroine spends more time drooling over them than standing for herself : there’s no romance here, therefore I can focus on his moral ambiguity without feeling the need to rage – I already said that : more than the characters alone, the characters’ dynamics are important to me and influence my reading experience. Let me get to know them first. We’ll see about the romance later (maybe).

“He had nothing to feel guilty about. If he knew one thing about life, it was this : look out for yourself. No one else would do it for you.”

Gabriel isn’t a “good” guy, and I sure don’t want him to be. He’s bossy, but trust me, Olivia knows how to handle him, and is even more bossy perhaps. To be frank, it pleased me to no end to see her snapping at him and analyzing his behavior. Really, I’m shameless : I loved seeing her destabilize him and push his limits (and I can’t wait to see how their relationship will evolve).

To sum-up, we have :
Strong and interesting heroine ☑
Captivating male-lead ☑
Well-developed secondary characters ☑
A cat (yes, that’s important, duh) ☑
Awesome dialogues between the characters ☑
Real character development ☑

Kelley Armstrong offers us a strong debut for Olivia and Gabriel’s story : I will definitely recommend it to any reader who loves mystery and good characterization. As far as I’m concerned, I’m off to read the sequel right now.

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