Two authors whose work I had to catch up on this summer were Kelley Armstrong and Kim Harrison, both known for their incredible paranormal fantasy series. When I went searching online, I found that both had written new novels that departed from the types of series I had read by them. Of course I had to see what their new work was all about and I’m glad I did. Mystery/thriller fans, fantasy fans, sci-fi fans – heads up, because I predict at least one of these series is going to hold a lot of appeal!
Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series is one of my favorite paranormal fantasy series, although I’ve also loved her other work. She even co-wrote an excellent middle grade readers’ series, The Blackwell Pages, based on mythology with bestselling fantasy YA author Melissa Marr. Click here to read our review of Loki’s Wolves, Book #1 in that series.
Kelley’s Cainsville series is another new direction for her writing. Book #1 came out a couple of years ago but I was so immersed in web site book reviews that somehow it slipped past me. I’ve now made up for lost time. If you’re a thriller or mystery fan, this series is going to please you immensely. It contains three novels at this point; Omens, Visions, and Deceptions – in that order. Fans of Kelley’s fantasy work will still find a thread through this one that will really please them, so no worries on that score.
“I always thought I’d work for Dad someday. Take over the family business eventually. It didn’t matter if the store bored me to tears. I’d be working with him and that would make him so happy. Except now he was gone, and I couldn’t bear to step through the store’s front doors…I intended to go back to school in the fall and get my doctorate in Victorian lit…I hadn’t told mother my plans. No use in stressing her out when her dream was about to come true – her only child married, and married well. As for my fiancé, James…I hadn’t told him, either.”
Have you ever been going through life nice and easy when something happens and you wonder if you ever knew yourself at all? If so then you might have a small clue about what just happened to twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones. Olivia grew up accustomed to the finer things in life – okay, so basically she came from a privileged family and lived a pretty perfect life. Her world seemed rock solid in every way, with everything basically plotted out – until now. She just learned the parents who she has always believed are her real parents are, instead, her adoptive parents. Oh but it gets much better because she also learned her real parents are convicted serial killers, the Larsens. Now a lot of us learn that some of the family myths we cherished as kids aren’t real but this – how the hell would you cope with learning this?
“I lifted my hands to shield my face as the camera flashed.
‘There’s no Eden here,’ I said. ‘You’ve got the wrong house.’
‘No, I don’t,’ he lifted a recorder. “Tell me, Miss Larsen, how does it feel to be the long-lost daughter of America’s most notorious – ‘
Howard slammed the door and shot the bolt.
‘What just…?’ I began, ’Did they say what I thought they said?’
…before I could ask my mother if we had a neighbor named Eden, she said, “I need to talk to you, Olivia.’”
Reeling from the news and the unwanted media attention it’s brought to her and her adoptive family, Olivia (whose birth name is Eden) tries to go into hiding initially but she knows that only one thing will set her free. She’s got to learn the truth about her biological parents, all of the truth; the good, the bad, and what appears to be the extremely ugly. Some things just don’t make sense. If her real parents were such horrible people, wouldn’t she be scarred from living with them? Granted she was just a toddler when they were arrested but still – wouldn’t she have been traumatized in some way? How could they have been the monsters they’re depicted as being in the media? Who are these people, really?
Seeking answers desperately, and having exhausted what she can find in her research, Olivia knows she needs to go to Cainsville, Illinois, where everything happened. Although Olivia refuses to see either of her birth parents, she begins working with her birth mother’s attorney to uncover as many facts as possible. Her birth mother swears that there are facts about the last murder that could prove them innocent if they come to light. Is this some sick game her birth mother is playing or could they really be innocent?
What Olivia discovers in Cainsville could set her birth parents free – or not. On the way to those discoveries, however, Olivia is going to discover things about herself that will aid in her investigation but also make her a huge target for forces she can’t comprehend. What kind of things? Olivia is gifted in ways she couldn’t imagine and she has no clue what to do with those gifts. There are also forces in Cainsville she is completely unprepared to deal with and she’s going to need to educate herself really fast if she plans to survive to learn the truth.
I’ve really only given you the set-up for this series, to avoid spoilers. Olivia is an interesting character. Some part of her has always suspected she was different somehow but she couldn’t put her finger on what that meant. She’s had dreams and odd things have happened but she lived such a perfect life that she never delved into those things. She adores her adoptive parents and shudders at the thought of what her birth parents are reported to be capable of – does that mean she’s somehow also capable of such horrific things? What a gruesome thought!
Kelley Armstrong’s characters are always fascinating and she weaves them into all kinds of troublesome situations. Her fans are sure to enjoy this series, which looks like it could provide lots of future fun installments. I love that she’s branched out into full-on thriller material, with a uniquely personal twist, and can’t wait to read what happens next.
Can’t wait to read the Cainsville series? The three novels reviewed are available now from your favorite online bookseller. Just click the link below to go get them and you can immerse yourself in Cainsville immediately!
Bestselling author Kim Harrison is another one of my favorite paranormal fantasy authors. I absolutely love her Hollows series. Click here to read our review of A Perfect Blood, Book #10 from that series. When I went scouring in online bookstores for fun books to read, I found a couple of new books from Kim’s new Peri Reed sci-fi thriller series that I want to share with you. The Drafter is officially Book #1 in this new series; however, Sideswiped is a Kindle single (novella) that gives important background for the series. I loved these and can’t wait for the next Peri Reed novel to come out! If you’re a Kim Harrison fan, you’ll want to read these asap. If you’re a thriller or sci-fi fan, but have never read Kim’s novels, I can tell you that you’re in for a treat.
Peri Reed is a secret agent for Opti, a high-level government agency. She has an incredible reputation as one of their most gifted agents in 2025; however, in 2030 she’s on the run in Detroit. WTH happened? Don’t ask Peri because she doesn’t know. What would the government do if one of its highly trained, lethal operatives went renegade?
So let’s step back a minute – why doesn’t Peri remember what happened? She’s a Drafter. Drafters have the ability to reset the past few minutes – just a few seconds usually – and only in a well-defined small physical area. Unfortunately Drafters don’t recall the original timeline or that it was changed. Every Drafter has to have an Anchor, like Jack is for Peri, and that Anchor recalls both the original timeline and the changed timeline. Anchors keep Drafters grounded or, more specifically, Drafters would go insane if they didn’t have Anchors to ground them in their new reality each time they change a timeline. Drafters have to be able to trust their Anchors absolutely and Peri literally trusts hers with her life.
Never forgive and never forget may be Peri’s mantra but the second part of that is just a wee bit troublesome since she can’t trust her memories of even the last five minutes to be accurate. And now she’s got a huge problem. For some reason her name is on a list of corrupt government operatives. WTH?
“Jack was right to be concerned. He had to witness a draft to anchor her. But to fail meant the deadly virus might reach an already decimated Asia.
That’s why they were here, to find and remove the files concerning the virus before a second wave of death washed through what had once been nearly two-thirds of the world’s population…
Warning prickled her skin as the jingling keys grew louder and a uniformed man came around the desks. Peri’s brow furrowed.
It wasn’t the guard that Bill, their handler, had told them would be here…”
She’s not corrupt, is she? She’s doing work that saves lives from corruption, right? Peri’s always worked hard and been loyal to Opti, hasn’t she? Wouldn’t she know if she’d stepped outside the line, even a tiny bit? She knows who she is and that’s light years away from her values, isn’t it? Only one person would know the truth, the one person she loves and trusts above all others, her Anchor. But what if she can’t trust her Anchor? Does that even bear thinking about? Because if she can’t trust her Anchor, she’s in for a quick trip to insanity land – literally.
You know what they say about power – Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Peri is about to find out just how true that saying is…and soon she’s on the run with a renegade soldier, an ex-Opti employee. But that leaves Peri between a rock and a very hard place. Can she trust anything or anyone? And, if she doesn’t, will her sanity survive long enough to unearth the truth or will her stress-induced rapidly accelerating time shifts be the end of her?
Peri is another one of those wonderful kick-butt heroines that Kim Harrison excels at writing. And this shift to sci-fi thriller brought a huge smile to my face. Do you need to be a sci-fi buff to enjoy this series? I don’t think so because it’s filled with all of the classic hairpin twists in most political conspiracy thrillers and spy novels. You will, however, have to suspend your disbelief a tad to accommodate the near-future sci-fi elements (and reading Sideswiped’s back story will help with that). This series has a number of excellent characters who I haven’t delved into in this review because of space considerations, and to avoid spoilers. There is betrayal on many levels, personal and professional, and a lot of things are not at all as they seem.
Kim Harrison has built another wonderfully complex world for us to discover in the Peri Reed series, with edge-of-your-seat urgency to solving this thriller’s issues. Given the political climate in the U.S. these days, it should strike a subliminal cord with a lot of people in addition to providing a fun, twisty read. I know I could not put it down. A reading note: I read The Drafter first and then read Sideswiped, and I wish I had read them in the opposite order because Sideswiped provides crucial backstory to a lot of what is going on in The Drafter. It really helps to build the world so you’re not just thrown into it, like I felt I was with The Drafter. It’s your call but my recommendation is to read Sideswiped first. Oh, and in case you haven’t guessed, I highly recommend this series.
Can’t wait to read the Peri Reed series? Both of these books are available now from your favorite online bookseller below. Although Sideswiped is a Kindle-only story, it can be read through an app on your computer or tablet. Click on the link and you can have them downloaded instantly. Have fun reading them!
I’d love to get your comments on the Cainsville series, the Peri Reed series, Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison and/or their other work, and/or this review.