Tag Archives: Kelley Armstrong

Dead Man’s Hand edited by John Joseph Adams

Overview
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Title: Dead Man’s Hand
Author: John Joseph Adams, Joe R. Lansdale, Ben H. Winters, David Farland, Mike Resnick, Seanan McGuire, Charles Yu, Alan Dean Foster, Beth Revis, Alastair Reynolds, Hugh Howey, Rajan Khanna, Orson Scott Card, Elizabeth Bear, Tad Williams, Jonathan Maberry, Kelley Armstrong, Tobias S. Buckell, Jeffrey Ford, Ken Liu, Laura Anne Gilman, Walter Jon Williams, Fred Van Lente & Christie Yant
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Science fiction, Short story collections, Weird western
Dates read: 4th June – 26th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: “Am I interrupting?” she asked.

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Synopsis

HOW THE WEST WAS WEIRD!

From a kill-or-be-killed gunfight with a vampire to an encounter in a steampunk bordello, the weird western is a dark, gritty tale where the protagonist might be playing poker with a sorcerous deck of cards, or facing an alien on the streets of a dusty frontier town.

Here are twenty-three original tales – stories of the Old West infused with elements of the fantastic – produced specifically for this volume by many of today’s finest writers. Included are Orson Scott Card’s first “Alvin Maker” story in a decade, and an original adventure by Fred Van Lente, writer of Cowboys & Aliens.

Thoughts

What a fantastic collection. And a great new genre to add to my ever-expanding knowledge of / collection of books. Before reading Dead Man’s Hand and Westward Weird, I had never heard of Weird westerns. And now it’s a genre that I’m seriously keen to find more of. There is just something amazingly fun and awesome about this collection. Very, very enjoyable.

The gunslingers and card players throughout this anthology took me on an absolutely joyous ride. One that I was kind of disappointed finished so quickly. The idea of the wild west has always intrigued me, making this the first time that I was completely able to thrown myself into this fascination.

This anthology didn’t quite get five stars because I didn’t fall head over heels for each and every story. Having said that, I would most definitely read this again. Even those stories which weren’t quite as holy crap amazing as the others.

<- Dead Man’s HandThe Red-Headed Dead ->

Image source: Amazon

The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women edited by Marie O’Regan

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of ghost stories by women book cover

Title: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women
Author: Marie O’Regan, Kim Lakin-Smith, Sarah Pinborough, Kelley Armstrong, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman, Sarah Langan, Elizabeth Massie, Alex Bell, Alison Littlewood, Nina Allan, Lisa Tuttle, Nancy Holder, Yvonne Navarro, Mary Cholmondeley, Marion Arnott, Lilith Saintcrow, Nancy Kilpatrick, Muriel Gray, Cynthia Asquith, Amelia B. Edwards, Elizabeth Gaskell, Gail Z. Martin, Edith Wharton & Gaie Sebold
Series: Mammoth Books
In: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (Marie O’Regan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Ghosts, Horror, Short story collections
Dates read: 29th June – 26th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: She was a sickly child, prone to unaccountable fits and agues, and her parents were convinced on more than one night that she would not live to see the dawn.

Synopsis

25 chilling short stories by outstanding female writers

Women have always written exceptional stories of horror and the supernatural. This anthology aims to showcase the very best of these, from Amelia B. Edwards’s ‘The Phantom Coach’, published in 1864, through past luminaries such as Edith Wharton and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, to modern talents including Muriel Gray, Sarah Pinborough and Lilith Saintcrow.

From tales of ghostly children to visitations by departed loved ones, and from heart-rending stories to the profoundly unsettling depiction of extreme malevolence, what each of these stories has in common is the effect of a slight chilling of the skin, a feeling of something not quite present, but nevertheless there.

If anything, this showcase anthology proves that sometimes the female of the species can also be the most terrifying…

Thoughts

This is a fantastic collection. One which I thoroughly enjoyed but learnt fairly quickly that I shouldn’t be reading this late at night… after all, some of these ghost stories are actually kind of scary. And reading them late at night with the wind blowing through the house while you’re home alone… not the best decision making of my life. To be fair, it’s also not the worst…. But that’s a whole other story.

I love that all of these ghost stories are written by women. I definitely believe that we need a collection of women-only writers more often. Or at least, I need to buy more to put on my shelves… although not all of these stories had strong women as the voice, they still felt more relatable than many of the stories that I read by men. I suppose shared experience and all that nonsense.

As a kid, I was never into ghost stories or tales of things that go bump in the night. Although I’ve gotten more into the genre over the past few years, it’s still sometimes not the most powerful driver for me. This collection though is swaying me more and more towards those horror stories.

<- The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories 2Field of the Dead ->

Image source: Goodreads

Bamboozled by Kelley Armstrong

Overview
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Title: Bamboozled
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Women of the Otherworld #0
In: Dead Man’s Hand (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Paranormal fantasy, Strong women
Dates read: 23rd October 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Titan Books
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: She raised her voice a little, knowing Nate’s ace hearing would pick it up.

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Synopsis

Lily has loved Nate for a long time, and they make a great team. Particularly when they’re in the Wild West.

Thoughts

I love reading a paranormal fantasy story and spending it trying to guess what “being” the lead characters are. In the case of this story, I spent my whole time trying to figure out what Nate and Lily’s paranormal species was. I didn’t get it. And now, knowing what I know… I feel like it should have been WAY obvious… but oh well.

The word “bamboozle” has got to be one of my favourites. There is just something… fun about it. So reading a story that features this word as the title was immediately going to draw me in (let alone the fact that it is by a well-loved author and series). But it was the activity of “bamboozling” people throughout this that really had me smiling. And I’m now just going to sit in my little book lair and keep saying the word. Because, seriously, who wouldn’t? It’s a pretty awesome word…

What was I saying?

Oh yeah. This is an awesome short story. You should read it.

Bamboozled.

<- Red DreamsSundown ->

Image source: Amazon

Dead Flowers by a Roadside by Kelley Armstrong

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of ghost stories by women book cover

Title: Dead Flowers by a Roadside
Author: Kelley Armstrong
In: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (Marie O’Regan)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Ghosts, Paranormal fantasy
Dates read: 20th October 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: “Can I help you?”

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Synopsis

One small mistake can cost you everything…

Thoughts

This was actually a really sad short story. I was a little surprised at how much it plucked at the heart strings to be honest. Although, I really shouldn’t have been. Armstrong generally seems to have a slightly darker side to her stories than what I expect…

Although this is a bit sad and most definitely tragic, it is also a story that features love. That forever kind of love where you just can’t imagine taking another breath without the other person. It may have tragic consequences in this case, but I still found it beautiful and impossible to look away from. The perfect ghost story.

After finishing this short story, I kind of just… sat. And stared. And thought. It was a wonderful ghost story. Most definitely haunting, and not one I’m likely to forget anytime soon.

<- Collect CallThe Shadow in the Corner ->

Image source: Goodreads

Omens by Kelley Armstrong

Overview
Omens: Book 1 of the Cainsville Series: Armstrong, Kelley: Amazon ...

Title: Omens
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Cainsville #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fae, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 24th May – 26th June 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: sphere
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: The kind I’d only ever seen on TV, usually where the bad guys holed up until the cops came busting through the door.

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Synopsis

A LIFE SHATTERED IN ONE MOMENT.

On the eve of her wedding Olivia Jones discovers two shocking facts. One – she was adopted. Two – her biological parents are notorious serial killers.

A YOUNG WOMAN FORCED ON THE RUN.

With her life in immediate danger, Liv is thrown into a terrifying new world. But then she is confronted with a tantalising hope – is it possible her parents are innocent?

AND THE MYSTERIOUS TOWN THAT AVE HER SANCTUARY. AT A PRICE.

Arriving at the remote town of Cainsville, Liv believes she has found the perfect place to hide while she hunts for the truth. But Cainsville is no ordinary town – and Liv’s arrival was no accident…

Thoughts

So, there’s definitely a reason why I love Kelley Armstrong – Author. I’ve been putting off starting a new series by her because I tend to get sucked into her world, and then I’ll want to buy more and more books… but, I decided that I had to read Omens. I’ve read all the prequel short stories and really, really wanted to start on this series. It may have been a mistake… I now want to go out and buy the rest of the books in this series… and I really don’t have the money for that at the moment.

You really don’t need to read any of the prequel short stories to fall madly, stupidly in love with this novel. In some ways, it may even be a little better… you won’t know so much about the gargoyles, Gabriel and that slightly paranormal hint throughout the story. Although, if you’re like me and you want as much information as feasibly possible…. It’s well worth reading the short stories before this. It meant that I had some extra mysteries that I was just constantly guessing at. And some extra historical moments that helped to fill in some of the blanks…

I absolutely loved how Armstrong managed to layer the paranormal, omens on top of a very realistic storyline. It takes a long time to see how the paranormal starts to come into play. After reading her Women of the Otherworld series, it is really fun to see a more subtle and covert approach to the paranormal, and the way it is placed into a very realistic feeling setting. You can almost imagine that a town like Townsville exists and the power to read omens is strong and alive. I can’t wait to see how this “power” develops and the supernatural that is heavily hinted at throughout this novel develops as the series unravels.

There are many, many, amazing things going on in this novel. But one of the aspects that I enjoyed the most was that it definitely bought up the whole nature / nurture debate. That it highlighted the mixed and confused feelings that Olivia felt as she realised that part of her was created by two individuals she has never met. A good portion of this storyline is taken up with Olivia’s own internal battle, trying to figure out how to feel.

<- The Orange CatVisions ->

Image source: Amazon

The Orange Cat by Kelley Armstrong

Overview
Image result for portents book cover

Title: The Orange Cat
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Cainsville #0.7
In: Portents (Kelley Armstrong)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Fae, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 27th May 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Kelley Armstrong
Year: 2016
5th sentence, 74th page: Gabriel put the pet carrier on the table.

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Synopsis

Gabriel is beginning to make his way in the world of criminal defense. But this latest case, featuring the orange cat is just a little bit unique… Cainsville kind of unique.

Thoughts

I like this short story that revisited Gabriel as an adult. You find out so much about his childhood in previous short stories, but, considering I’m convinced he’ll be an adult in Omens, I liked that there was a little bit more about him as he’s making his first forays into the adult world. The fact that it was done in a quite funny manner, with a bit of a sadistic twist… well, of course I enjoyed that all the more.

In all of the Cainsville short stories that I’ve read so far, one of the common re occurrences is karma, paying your debts, etc. The fact that this story uses an orange cat that just won’t stay away, can’t be killed and is pretty damn single-minded was quite intriguing and somewhat clever. It kept with the theme that I have found so far, but managed to make it a lot funnier – after all, who would have thought that a cat could cause that much damage?

The more short stories I read in this series, the more keen I am to start reading Omens. And, luckily, this is the last short story that stakes place before the activities in Omens, so now I get to read that novel to my heart’s content…

<- Bad PublicityOmens ->

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Bad Publicity by Kelley Armstrong

Overview
Image result for portents book cover

Title: Bad Publicity
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Cainsville #0.6
In: Portents (Kelley Armstrong)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Fae, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 25th May 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Kelley Armstrong
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: Making contact.

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Synopsis

Patrick has never wanted to do much publicity. But, when his new publicists manages to outmanoeuvre him, he decides to go along with her schemes. Until he realises that they may just not be her schemes…

Thoughts

It was nice to revisit Patrick and his shenanigans after reading Devil May Care. Particularly when you know that he is integral to this whole idea of a future that could impact all of the fae camps and the world as they know it. It highlights the reason why he’s obviously stayed away from Gabriel up until this point, and the ways in which the fae are already moving about in this world…

There may be no such thing as bad publicity, but there is such thing as a bad publicity experience. Particularly when the poor individual who organised it all ends up being just a bit of a pleb. One that is pushy. And driven. But still just ends up being a pawn in a greater battle. I like that even though Patrick is annoyed at the fact that she’s the instigator, he still honours her gumption and drive. It was a nice way to end this short story.

Bad Publicity is a little light and humorous. But it is also a great reminder of the more traditional role that the fae seem to be able to play in the Cainsville series… that of tricksters, predators and the slightly envious. Beings which always pay their dues and find a way to get their own. Regardless of the consequences to others.

<- Gabriel’s GargoylesThe Orange Cat ->

Image source: Amazon

Gabriel’s Gargoyles by Kelley Armstrong

Overview
Image result for portents book cover

Title: Gabriel’s Gargoyles
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Cainsville #0.5
In: Portents (Kelley Armstrong)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Fae, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 24th May 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Kelley Armstrong
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: The man grinned.

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Synopsis

Gabriel loves his visits back to Cainsville every holiday. And this one is going to be extra special – he’s finally going to find that final gargoyle!

Thoughts

There are few books I’ve read that feature gargoyles. And, honestly, whenever I do read any mention of them, I think of the gargoyles from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Because you know, they’re some of my favourite Disney sidekicks. The gargoyles in this story though really aren’t as funny and fun as the ones in Disney.

I read this short story straight off the back of Devil May Care. Which was excellent timing. After all, Gabriel’s beginnings are a little dark and you seriously hope that he gets a bit of a happily ever after. This doesn’t actually provide that in the slightest. But it does show the strength and gumption that the young boy has. It also has a great hint of the secrets of Cainsville throughout.

Finding gargoyles that constantly move in a town enmeshed in secrets sounds like exactly the kind of thing that I would have loved as a child. It made me wish that this town, which feels fairly dark actually exists. The fact that Gabriel is already a young boy on his own hints at the kind of man he is going to become. And I for one, can’t wait to meet him in Omens.

<- Devil May CareBad Publicity ->

Image source: Amazon

Devil May Care by Kelley Armstrong

Overview
Image result for portents book cover

Title: Devil May Care
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Cainsville #0.3
In: Portents (Kelley Armstrong)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Fae, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 22nd May 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Kelley Armstrong
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘All the gargoyles and the old people.

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Synopsis

Patrick has always enjoyed being footloose and uncaring about the responsibilities he should have. But a mysterious fae has sent him running back to Cainsville. And no matter how hard he fights, the future is going to have it’s own way.

Thoughts

When I first bought Omens, I didn’t realise that there was a fae aspect to the storyline. Or at least, not one that is very strong. I just loved past works by Kelley Armstrong, so figured that I would get some more of her books. And then I realised that there was a whole slew of short stories that take place before Omens. So I figured I had better read those too. And, honestly, it wasn’t until this short story that I understood how much of an impact the fae were going to have on this story.

I loved the introduction of Patrick in this story. He is everything that I imagine when I think of a puckish, trickster-like fae. He keeps a balance and makes sure that he repays all of his debts. He pursues his own interests and pleasure, regardless of what other people think or want to know about his life. And he DOES NOT want any responsibility – so the fact that he is embroiled in a pretty major prophecy, one that is filled with responsibility… it’s pretty damn good.

There was something that was surprisingly fun about this dark little origins story. And it is the very epitome of origins stories – the story of how a character I’m going to assume will be very important is bought into the world. And the horrible characters which will be a huge part of their lives…

<- Nos Galan GaeafGabriel’s Gargoyles ->

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The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance edited by Trisha Telep

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of paranormal romance book cover

Title: The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance
Author: Trisha Telep, Carrie Vaughn, Cheyenne McCray, Kelley Armstrong, Anna Windsor, Anya Bast, Jean Johnson, C. T. Adams, Cathy Clamp, Holly Lisle, Mary Jo Putney, Eve Silver, Ilona Andrews, Dina James, Maria V. Snyder, Catherine Mulvany, Jeaniene Frost, Lori Devoti, Sara Mackenzie, Lynda Hilburn, Alyssa Day, Michelle Rowen, Rachel Caine, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Meljean Brook & Allyson James
Series: Mammoth Books
In: The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance (Trisha Telep)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal romance, Short story collections
Dates read: 3rd July – 30th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: I also didn’t feel threatened, or that I should try to escape his firm but tender grip.

Synopsis

Fall in love with someone out of this world

If love transcends all boundaries then paranormal romance is its logical conclusion. From the biggest names around, here are 24 tales to take you to another time and place.

Let Alyssa Day, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Cheyenne McCray, Jeaniene Frost, Ilona Andrews, Kelley Armstrong, Maria V. Snyder, Carrie Vaughn, Allyson James Marland and others show you powers beyond your wildest imaginings.

Within these pages mythical beasts, magical creatures of all shapes and sizes, heart-stoppingly handsome ghosts, angels, and mortals with extra-sensitive sensory perception play out the themes of extraordinary desires.

Thoughts

The thing that I love most about this collection is that it completely runs the gambit of supernatural and paranormal creatures. There are a number of standalone stories and tales that are part of series. But mostly, there’s just stories which feature vampires and werewolves; djinn and selkies. Some of the paranormal beings that feature in this are not ones that I normally come across. Which of course just made it all that much more exciting. You didn’t know what sort of paranormal creature would be next!

These stories were all sweet and incredibly easy to read. They’re tales which make you happy and kind of hopeful about true love. Something which I think everyone needs at some point in their lives. Having said that, there were a few unwieldy stories in this collection. They weren’t annoyingly so, but a few did need to be reread so that I could grasp what was really happening.

I recognised most of the authors in this collection. Which was good, because then I could turn to my shelves in some cases and grab down the books that will get me a further fix of their writing. There were a few that I need to add to my wish list. But mostly I got to enjoy the collection, without feeling the insane need to buy more, more, more books… which is probably a good thing for my bank account.

<- The Mammoth Book of On the RoadThe Temptation of Robin Green ->

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