Wrap-up: January 2017

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I’M BACK! Finally, I can blog full-time. 😌 I’ve been trying to catch up on my TBR pile on my shelf so I can be ready for the release of Victoria Aveyard’s King Cage and Kelley Armstrong’s A Darkness Absolute. And I have to throw in a little weirdness to boot.

 

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’ve fallen in love with this book. I adore Kelley’s fantasy work, and she’s known for that genre, but this series just brings an exhilarating twist to her repertoire. Her writing shines in City of the Lost. It’s one of her best works in the last few years, and I highly recommend. Kelley has a huge reservoir of stories, and you may feel overwhelmed. But the Rockton Thriller series steps away from previous characters and solely focuses on a solid psychological thriller. If you love her Nadia Stafford series, you’ll love this.

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I cannot get enough of this series. Yes, there are some issues with the whole special snowflake syndrome, but, and I mean BUT, Victoria’s storytelling makes up for some of these problems, and she takes a new spin on that trope. Like The Hunger Games, Red Queen inspired me to take more risks with picking up YA books, and I’ll always be grateful for her work.

Reviews for both Red Queen and Glass Sword will be coming soon!

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Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Glass Sword has an X-Men feel to it with Mare, Cal, and the other newbloods (Reds with Silver abilities) looking to find, well, more of their kind. Mare and Cal try to deal with betrayal they never saw coming in Red Queen. And throughout the book, Mare struggles with herself, fighting an internal tug-of-war. Her transformation is hard to read. THAT ENDING. My feels can’t take it.

#freemare!

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The Boatman by Kat Hawthorne

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

So my girl Kat hooked me up with her charming and dark little MG story revolving around a girl after my own heart. It has a dash of Coraline and a sprinkle of Tim Burton’s magic. Kat offers such a refreshing tale. I simply love this book.

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The Oddity by Kat Hawthorne

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book looks wonderful in person. I read it back in late 2016, but it has always struck a cord with me. What is life? What is death?  The Oddity is one of the most intriguing and thought-provoking stories I’ve ever read.

I will always support small publishers. So if you want to do the same, go directly to the publisher and buy here.

Find my review here.

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Review: City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

26869354.jpegCity of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Random House Canada

Publication Date: January 2, 2016

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Adult, Contemporary

Extent: 480 pages

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchase


Casey Duncan once killed a man and got away with it. But that’s not why she’s on the run. Her best friend’s ex has found Diana again, despite all Casey has done to protect her. And Diana has decided the only way she’ll ever be safe is if she finds the mythical town she’s heard of where people like her can go to hide. Turns out the town really exists, and will take Diana, but only if Casey, a talented young police detective, comes too.

Imagine a hidden town, isolated in the Yukon wilderness, where everyone is pretending to be someone they’re not. Even good people can get up to some very bad stuff. The laconic town sheriff dispenses his own frontier justice, but he’s more accustomed to sobering up drunks in the horse trough, than attempting to solve the series of brutal murders that has rocked the town. As much as he hates it, he needs Casey. As for Casey, coming to the far North may have started out as a sacrifice she was willing to make for her best friend. But maybe, just maybe, she needs Rockton as much as the town needs her.


Kelley has ventured in the suspense, thriller, and mystery genres before, so I had a general idea of where she might go in City of the Lost. I was wrong. So wonderfully wrong. The first book in the new Rockton Thriller series strikes down any preconceived suspicions. It contains touches of her Nadia Stafford series, one which I enjoyed greatly.

After surviving a horrific attack, Casey Duncan, a detective, discovers her tumultuous past comes back seeking revenge. But she is not the only person facing former conflicts. Diana, a high school friend, desperately searches for a way to escape her abusive husband. When Diana proposes an idea for them to find a hidden town where people escape their lives, Casey agrees to disappear from society. The catch? She must destroy any record of their lives, cut ties with all loved ones, and find a possible serial killer among the town’s people within six months, when her time runs out.

Rockton, in the Yukon territory, morphs into a character of its own. It’s rough and brash yet quiet and watchful. One aspect I love about City of the Lost is how Kelley slowly and deliberately reveals this character. She builds off each layer. And, similar to Stonehaven in Women of the Otherworld series, I can’t help but fall in love with it. Kelley fleshes out the natural atmosphere of Rockton perfectly, showcasing the beauty of Canada’s rugged landscape. This psychological thriller shows the brutality of our society and the North. Animals will act out of fear or survival. Humans, on the other hand, act on savagery, hunger, drive, and desire. She encapsulates the difference between the two beasts in such an effortless way.

The characters, including the town, make the story. Each one opens up a new history and a new threat. People aren’t afraid to kill, and they certainly aren’t afraid to show their true side. Some may have run from abusive lovers, drug lords, or possible convictions. They aren’t the heroes. They may have even created the horrors we fear. However, each characters’ vulnerabilities break down the door to salvation and possible self-forgiveness.

One character who stands out is Casey. I identify with her. She’s driven, determined, yet separated from people. And with good reason. Throughout the book, she tries to come to terms with murdering her boyfriend, Blaine twelve years ago. While on a date with him, local gang members accuse him of trespassing on their territory. And while he says he’s the grandson of a Montreal mobster, he abandons Casey. Her action conflicts with her career path, though, and also forces her to build a wall between her and others. Her possible rape and her physical assault prevent her from doing so. And I relate to that decision. While there are many resources women and men have access to after sexual assault, sometimes they simply cannot move on. I instantly connect with Casey, who is, by far, my favourite character in the series.

Eric Dalton, Rockton’s sheriff, dedicates his life to protecting the town and its residents. His history fascinates me. The way he rules his town will surprise and may even anger you. But wait until you see why. Rockton isn’t in an urban environment. Controlling these residents requires Dalton to inflict police brutality at times. But he must stay harsh in this dangerous town.

I first gave this book a 4.5 rating, but I see nothing wrong with it, nothing to improve. Kelley creates a solid, refreshing, and invigorating psychological thriller that will resonate with many readers. It’ll take you on a intriguing journey highlighting the human condition. I warn you now: you might know who the serial killer is at certain stages of the book, but finding out who commits these crimes may stump you. Kelley tricked even me, and I’ve been reading her books since I was twelve. The character arcs move beyond that discovery, and they add more richness to the story. So I’ve bumped it up to a 5. 😉

Have you heard of these towns where people can escape? What would you do if you lived in one? Tell me in the comments.

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Book Haul: December 2016

This month’s haul certainly isn’t big. But I’ve been dying to get my hands on these books. I’m not sure if I should have, since I’ve bought seventeen for Christmas. Did I say seventeen? Yes. And I still can’t fathom the number.

I hope these are great!

 

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong 26869354

Danya @ Fine Print (again!) got me into this series. I was a little hesitant with it, though. And at the time of buying, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But Kelley has travelled down this suspenseful road before with her Nadia Stafford series. I love that she’s set City of the Lost in Canada. Many of her stories take place in the States. But when she weaves in a little Canadiana, I feel right at home. I’m almost done the book, and I definitely love it!

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Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake 28374007.jpeg

I look forward to the sister dynamic in Three Dark Crowns. I’m also curious to see how the author plays off that and how it’ll affect each character. And I also love the fantasy part. How does the sisters’ ability change or hinder them?

I took a peek in the book, and I love the design! This book looks gorgeous. 😍

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0062421379Divergent Series Box Set by Veronica Roth

Thank you, Indigo Teen! I won this series through its giveaway. Yes, I haven’t read any of Roth’s work, since someone online decided to ruin the last book, but I’ve been hoping to tackle the series, though.

I’m starting to appreciate box sets more since I don’t have to wait until the next instalment. I hope this series is good!

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Wrap-up: December 2016

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December was a quiet month. However, reading threw me for an emotional roller coaster. Aall I want to do is grab some Kleenex, curl up, and ball until I have nothing left inside, then repeat the process. THANK YOU, LEIGH. I love you and your books, but you’ll be the death of me.

 

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS SERIES. My demon king is back and is hungry for more revenge. The gang has just lost its reward for breaking out a prisoner from the Ice Court. But how can Kaz outsmart the man who duped him? Dirtyhands with his scheming face always finds a way.

The ships! The ships have sailed, and I simply melted inside. 😍 How can I contain my squees? I can’t. Kaz killed it in this duology! And I can’t help but fall in love with Nina and Matthias. That ending destroyed me. I was a mess who couldn’t control her emotions. Why do you do this to me, Leigh? Why.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

I’ve just started reading City of the Lost, but I love it already. For a long time, I’ve been waiting for a great Canadian thriller. And naturally, Kelley writes it. She builds off every scene, and the next chapter is just creating more suspense. Kelley’s newest thriller will definitely be one of my favourites of the year.

Wrap-up: November 2016

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2016 is the greatest year for YA books. Agreed? And I still need to read more books waiting on my shelf. Unfortunately my blog took a hit last month because of my schooling. However, I was able to squeeze in these books.

And I’ve completed my Goodreads Reading Challenge! Eee!

 

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I’m in love. YOU’RE KILLING ME OVER HERE, LEIGH. Thank you, but damn, woman. This book is on my re-read list.  Understanding this world took awhile since I haven’t read the Grisha series––I’ll soon rectify that problem soon enough––but I love Leigh’s undeniable and uncanny ability to build worlds. You  get layer after layer. I highly recommend this series. Review will come soon!

Thank you, Dana, for introducing me to this series!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard

Since Red Queen, I’ve been dying to read Queen Coriane’s story. Cruel Crown includes two short stories focusing on Coriane Jacos’ journey to Queenhood and Farley’s path to the bombing set in Red Queen and ultimate exposure of the Scarlet Guard. I love seeing Farley’s human side, not just the captain. And I’ll forever hate Elara.

Thanks again, Dana!

I can’t wait to read Glass Sword.

Check out my review here.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.75)

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Well, I’m still tackling this whimsically fantastic piece of magic. But I definitely know what I’ll give it, though. Crooked Kingdom quickly starts off from the explosive ending of Six of Crows. The crew must seek revenge and take back what’s theirs. Leigh builds off this multi-dimensional world. And I’m eating up her every word.

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Waiting on Wednesday: A Darkness Absolute

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Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, is a weekly meme that showcases upcoming book releases that readers are eagerly awaiting.

31338270.jpgA Darkness Absolute

Kelley Armstrong

Publication Date: February 7, 2017

Extent: 416 pages

It’s winter in Rockton, a little town hidden deep in the wilds of the Yukon. The town exists for people who need to escape their pasts, though it’s not clear if those in hiding are victims or perpetrators. Or, when the lines gets blurred, maybe both. Ask Casey. She’s been used, betrayed, beaten. But she’s also killed someone. She moved to Rockton to help her best friend, Diana. Ex-best friend. Diana lied to get Casey to come with her; she used her and she almost got her killed. But Casey decided to stay anyway, to work as a detective alongside her new boyfriend and the town’s sheriff, Eric Dalton. Fresh off solving a series of grisly murders, Casey and Deputy Will Anders get stranded in a blizzard while they’re tracking a runner from the town. Seeking shelter in a cave, they stumble across a woman who’s been imprisoned in a deep well. Nicole Chavez–whom everybody thought had run away from town and died in the woods more than a year earlier–is alive. Barely. But she can’t identify her captor: she’s never seen his face.
Was she taken by one of the hostiles who inhabit the wilderness around the town? Or is Casey facing something even worse? In a town where everyone lies about their past and lives under assumed identities, it’s very easy to hide your true nature.

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Why Am I Waiting?

It’s a Kelley Armstrong book. I think that reason alone is a good excuse. So yes, I haven’t read the first book (why do I do this to myself?!). But I’ve had a huge mystery and thriller hangover since I’ve read Kelley’s Nadia Stafford series. And Danya @ Fine Print convinced me, once again, to put this book on my TBR list. So City of the Lost is definitely on my Christmas list. And with all the books being published, February may just kill my bank account. I swear publishers are in cahoots!

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.

···

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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