Mini Review: Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard

25944381.jpgCruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: January 5, 2016

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopian

Extent: 208 pages

Rating: Queen Song: 3.75/5

Steel Scars: 3.5/5

Source: Purchase


Two women on either side of the Silver and Red divide tell the stories no one else knows.

Queen Song

Queen Coriane, first wife of King Tiberias, keeps a secret diary—how else can she ensure that no one at the palace will use her thoughts against her? Coriane recounts her heady courtship with the crown prince, the birth of a new prince, Cal, and the potentially deadly challenges that lay ahead for her in royal life.


Steel Scars

Diana Farley was raised to be strong, but being tasked with planting the seeds of rebellion in Norta is a tougher job than expected. As she travels the land recruiting black market traders, smugglers, and extremists for her first attempt at an attack on the capital, she stumbles upon a connection that may prove to be the key to the entire operation—Mare Barrow.


Queen Song

This book is certainly a quick read. I wasn’t expecting huge revelations, but I needed more history than what was in Red Queen.

“There is nothing so terrible as a story untold.”

IMG_0245 copyKing Tiberius Calore VI, Cal and Maven’s father, refuses to follow the path of other kings when he looks for his queen. So when he chooses Coriane Jacos, a singer from a poor family, he angers many families and powerful daughters who are aiming for that gleaming crown. Victoria transports you back through Coriane and Tiberius’ love story. Their marriage isn’t shiny by any means, but you see how they loved each other. And I truly enjoy the lack of blood lust in this marriage, like the others from the Queenstrial, where teenage girls from the High Houses compete against each other and display their abilities in front of the royal family. I also love how Coriane, while she isn’t there in person in the Red Queen, influences Cal on a much deeper level than I previously thought. Like her, Cal loves to build, a trait he inherits from his mother. Unfortunately, the King and Queen’s marriage does not survive after the birth of their son, Cal, when unforeseen forces tear down the protective walls in Coriane.

Yes, yes, yes. I get more Coriane! Her life has always intrigued me. And while I knew who killed her, I never understood how Elara breaks a singer. Tiberius and Coriane’s story is what I was looking for in this dreary universe. Something I see as real and beautiful. Victoria really sparked my interest in this piece of history. How her prose changes in this story brings out Coriane’s POV. You get a lot of spunk and sarcasm when Mare takes the stage, but with Coriane, you hear her quiet but determined (albeit sad) voice.

Steel Scars

Victoria shows Farley’s roots in Steel Scars. So finally you watch how Farley, the Scarlet Guard captain from Red Queen, transforms into who she is now. She has a deeper backstory and a stronger rage than any of her scars. Farley’s story lays out the leg work for the eventual exposure of the Scarlet Guard and the attack on the Silvers in Red Queen.While this story doesn’t instantly capture my interest as Queen Song does, I love how Victoria wraps up some burning questions I’ve had since I first read Red Queen. And finally I understand Farley’s conviction behind her decisions to do what she must. Victoria incorporates top-secret correspondences among the ranks. And she also shows you how the the Scarlet Guard works, something I’ve been trying to figure out for quite awhile. And I get more Shade Barrow! What more can a woman ask for?

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Review: Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong

25174916Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Random House Canada

Publication Date: August 9, 2016

Genre: Modern Gothic, Fantasy, Suspense, Thriller, New Adult

Extent: 432 pages

Rating: 4.5/5


When Olivia’s life exploded–after she found out she was not the adopted child of a privileged Chicago family but of a notorious pair of convicted serial killers–she found a refuge in the secluded but oddly welcoming town of Cainsville, Illinois. Working with Gabriel Walsh, a fiendishly successful criminal lawyer with links to the town, she discovered the truth about her parents’ crimes in an investigation that also revealed the darker forces at work in the place that had offered her a haven. As if that wasn’t enough, she also found out that she, Gabriel and her biker boyfriend Ricky were not caught in an ordinary sort of love triangle, but were hereditary actors in an ancient drama in which the elders of Cainsville and the mysterious Huntsmen who opposed them had a huge stake.

Now someone is killing street kids in the city, and the police have tied Ricky to the crimes. Setting out with Gabriel’s help to clear Ricky’s name, Olivia once again finds her own life at risk. Soon the three are tangled in a web of betrayals that threatens their uneasy equilibrium and is pushing them toward a hard choice: either they fulfill their destinies by trusting each other and staying true to their real bonds, or they succumb to the extraordinary forces trying to win an eternal war by tearing them apart.


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Note: I’ve received an ARC for an honest review. No, receiving one doesn’t affect my opinion of this book. But whatever Kelley writes will always be on my to-read list. So the point is moot. And no, I will not give any spoilers.

I never thought I’d receive an ARC for a long while, so when I found out I won a Goodreads giveaway, I nearly freaked. Thank you Random House Canada! Ahem. Now onto the book.

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Betrayals begins four months after Deceptions. Olivia must now accept that she has no other choice but to help Pamela get acquitted. She’s at odds with this decision, even though releasing Pamela will ultimately help Todd with his acquittal. Gabriel and Liv’s relationship is strained from his betrayal in Deceptions. But Gabriel is willing to do anything to get Todd released, even work with Pamela, who tried to frame him for James’ murder. Reluctantly, Liv teams up with Gab when a new case potentially frames Ricky for the disappearance of a man who was stalking him.

Betrayals is a masterly written novel. The expanded mythology opens new worlds for the Cainsville series and quickly draws you in. Kelley cleverly takes legends and shapes them into her own. And while the fae world envelopes her characters and threatens to tear them apart, they have genuine vulnerabilities. She has her craft down to a science.

Throughout Betrayals, you see how Liv, Ricky, and Gab’s bond shapes them. Kelley surprises you with more backstory and mythology than the first three books. This history from the other Matildas, Gwynns, and Arawns is what anchors this book. Betrayals also breaks away from Liv’s POV; it now delves into Ricky’s and Gab’s. I was hoping for Kelley to let us see more of their perspective, and she doesn’t disappoint!

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Oh, that pesky little love triangle. Some readers are bored of it, but I find it enjoyable, because Kelley crafts it in an effortless way. She doesn’t throw it in to cause tension; she uses it to its fullest potential. You get to see how their past life affects their current one. Ricky and Gab don’t become the two men Olivia must decide to choose from; they become a part of a whole. But I do want to smack Ricky and Gabriel (especially Gabriel) around, though.

I appreciated the time jump! The first three books are in quick succession of each other, so having one in the Cainsville series was needed. Betrayals illustrates each characters’ growth within this time. All three characters exhibit natural traits that Matilda, Arawn, and Gwynn had, but Liv, Ricky, and Gab evolve further. I simply adore how Liv shines in this book. And Ricky, too. Ah, Ricky. He transforms from the page to the king (and if you don’t know that reference, I may smack you as well!). Gab is an iffy character for me. Sometimes he’s an enduring man I want to protect, and other times, I’m not sure if Gwynn has a stronger sway on him. I see a part of me in Gab. And I understand why being alone for him is his ability to sidetrack pain. But his past deceit makes me question what he’ll be willing to commit, especially when he realizes his feelings for Liv. How much of Gwynn is in Gab?

The mythology in this book is superb. Kelley incorporates Welsh folklore into each book, and this one contains even more. Now Betrayals opens the world of the Cŵn Annwn and the Tylwyth Teg wide open. Finally, you discover how these fae beings survive and thrive. In Omens, I fell in love with Cainsville. Hell, I fell in love with the entire series. But Betrayals solidifies that thrill. I want to hunt for gargoyles, jump in to old books, have visions, and run with The Wild Hunt.

There is one thing I must say: I was not expecting that ending or that heart-wrenching fight. They floored me when I got to the end. My God. Kelley brings subtly to a new level. Kelley creates an action-packed universe filled with deceitful tricksters and enduring characters. At the heart of the Cainsville series,  a poignant love story of three fae shapes a enchanting mystery that won’t let you go. Betrayals beautifully lays out the groundwork for the finale, Rituals. I cannot wait to have the last book in my hands. Prepare yourself for your trip down the rabbit hole.

You can find the first five chapters here.

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Mini Review: The Masked Truth and The Unquiet Past by Kelley Armstrong

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24733600The Unquiet Past by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Orca Book Publishers

Publication Date: October 13, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary, Thriller

Extent: 352 pages

Rating: 3/5


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.


Therapy camp, murder, and teen mental illness? Sign me up! Surprisingly, I enjoyed reading this novel. I had no high expectations, but I savoured the easy read and fast-paced action in The Masked Truth. It does take a foreign path I’m not accustomed to with Kelley, so I wasn’t expecting to be hooked so quickly.

With The Masked Truth, you get to see Kelley’s other side. She studied for a degree in psychology before she became an author, and her experience shows through in her writing. How Kelley addresses mental illness––especially schizophrenia and PTSD––in youth is what sparked my interest.

This book reminds me of Kelley’s Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising series, but without the fantasy. Riley is a relatable teen who witnesses a brutal crime that causes her to attend this deadly therapy retreat, and Max is a teenage boy who simply cannot accept his diagnosis (I know I couldn’t, especially with my family connection to his illness). Both work great as a team, and I enjoyed both POVs.

Two negatives are Max’s obsession to continuously make out and his tendency to wander. I get why he’s intrigued by Riley, but I believe your life has a higher priority than kissing her, even if she is cute. And now I sound old. Great. Anyways, Kelley took a chance with this standalone book, and while there were some rough edges, The Masked Truth is a fun read.

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003188_1163d3ae7b517100f7d7003e0c15cb18The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Doubleday Canada

Publication Date: September 29, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Supernatural, Mystery

Extent: 264 pages

Rating: 3/5


Tess has always been tormented by waking visions that make her question her sanity. When the orphanage she lives in burns down, she decides to face her fears and find out once and for all what is wrong with her. She believes the truth must lie with her parents, and so, armed with only an address and phone number, Tess travels to a crumbling mansion in rural Quebec, where she discovers evidence of mistreatment of mental patients. She also makes an unlikely ally and gradually unearths her family’s sad history—and finally accepts the truth about her paranormal powers.


When Kelley brings Canadiana to her work, especially setting her book in Canada, I am eager to get my hands on it. I don’t always see Canadian settings. Don’t get me wrong; I love other countries, but when I know which city or town authors write about, I’m thrilled to immerse myself in their work.

This book is a part of the Secrets series from Orca Book Publishers. I’m not intrigued by all the books in Secrets, but I’m interested in a few: Stones on a Grave by Kathy Kacer, My Life before Me by Norah McClintock, and Innocent by Eric Walters.

This book also deals with mental illness but is sprinkled with some suspense and supernatural undertones. At first, Tess annoyed me a little, especially when she doesn’t listen to her instincts. But I grew to like her, though. I enjoyed her character’s growth and the banter she has with Jackson. Both have an interesting bond. But I felt that the ending was rushed. The Unquiet Past is a quick and compelling read. I wish Kelley fleshed out the ending, though. The rating would be different. Overall, it was a nice read.

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