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Review: Visions by Kelley Armstrong

Review: Visions by Kelley Armstrong
Visions by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Cainsville #2
Published by Random House
Published on: August 19, 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 496
Format: eARC
Source: First to Read
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In the second book in bestselling author Kelley Armstrong's exciting new Cainsville series, Olivia's newly discovered power to read omens leads to the discovery of a gruesome crime with troubling connections to her hometown.

Omens, the first installment in Kelley Armstrong's Cainsville 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 come to light, creating a rift between them 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 certain it's another omen, a sign of impending danger. But then she learns that a troubled young woman with a connection to Cainsville went missing just days earlier--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 Olivia's 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.

topread Astonishing love_triangle

As a long time Kelley Armstrong fan, I hate to say this but I didn’t like OMENS. I just couldn’t connect with the characters, it was more psychological thriller than urban fantasy, and readers were left with an exorbitant amount of unanswered questions. I honestly expected the worst when I started reading VISIONS, instead… I absolutely freaking LOVED IT! I instantly clicked with Olivia, Gabriel & Ricky, the plot was more closely tied to the main story arc & the town of Cainsville, and we get answers—not many, but enough to make me feel like we’re making some progress. My do-I-really-want-to-read-this dilemma was transformed overnight into an unrelenting craving for book 3. VISIONS is 500 pages of 5-star epicsauce!

I was immediately sucked in by the quality of Armstrong’s storytelling and writing; between the influx of lore surrounding the Wild Hunt, and the murder mystery—this novel was near impossible to put down. It’s apparent that the victims, town, and mythology are somehow linked, but what it all means is still anyone’s guess. There’s a game afoot, and Ricky, Gabriel & Olivia are the pawns however, it still remains to be seen who the actual players are. I liked how I was never quite sure whether the clues were real or just another one of Taylor-Jones’ omens; it made the puzzle even more intriguing because it was near impossible to tell fact from fiction. I won’t go into the lore seeing how none of it is mentioned in the blurb, but I will go so far as to say that I’m no longer doubting this book’s urban fantasy status.

I found myself loving Gabriel more and more with every new page I read. In OMENS, he was stiff and prickly, and although he is still both of those things, he’s also cocky, brave and intelligent. His actions say one thing, but his body language says another, and I really liked how Armstrong was able to capture the minute changes in his posture and facial expression. I don’t believe that I have ever met a character quite like Gabriel which makes him a real joy to read about because he’s just so unpredictable. Olivia grew on me quite a bit in this installment as well; she still makes a couple of stupid mistakes—like following her cat into a creepy, abandoned house—but otherwise seemed to have wised-up.

There was even a bit of romance in this novel which surprised me while also being a welcomed addition. It’s a love triangle, but not. There’s definitely something going on between Liv and Gabriel; I’m just not exactly sure what it is yet. It’s still early in the series, so it’s hard to say for sure what the author has planned. The off-scene sex helped bring some much needed heat to an otherwise dark narrative, and Armstrong’s foreplay is better than most writers’ on page romp sessions anyway. I really liked Olivia and Ricky’s relationship; he’s exactly what she needs at this point in her life, plus he’s damned fine. There’s a Harley scene that’ll have you calling up your friends with bikes just to give it a try. I suspect that this thing with Gallagher is only a fling, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy the ride while it lasts!

Double-entendres, twists, lore, secrets, and hunktastic men—VISIONS was everything I wanted book 1 to be, and more!

Cainsville Series

My Review

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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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  1. Oh I’m sooo curious about this series! I heard many great things about the first book and now the second one and I coness that I really want to read them now. It sounds so good and perfect for me. Great review!

    • You can never go wrong with Kelley Armstrong. She’s one of my favourite authors EVER!

  2. I have yet to read one of Armstrong’s adult books but I adored her YA series. This sounds like a great place to start! I need to look up book one and see if I have it (yes I frequently buy books and then forget about them).
    kindlemom1 recently posted…Blog Tour; Review, Giveaway and Guest Post: A Cursed Awakened by Cecy Robson

    • See, I’m the reverse. I’ve read all of her adult books, but haven’t gotten around to her YA series’ yet. Switch? 😉

  3. Your site is like a drug paranormal junkies! I’m not a big fan of PNR before and now look at me. Adding books here and there that are PNR. Also, wolves are my newest obsession. Thank you so much!! HAHA.

    I haven’t read this series 🙁 or even heard of the author! Well, now I did. Thanks and fab review!

    • I’m thrilled to learn that I am rubbing off on you, Paula! I’m getting peeps hooked on werewolves one reader at a time. Mwahaha

  4. WOOTZA! So glad to hear this one was a little better paced and the story was awesomesauce. Looking forward to it 🙂
    Felicia the Geeky Blogger recently posted…Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in Over at That Is What I’m Talking About

    • I think I saw on Instagram that you just started listening to this one in audio? Can’t wait to hear what you think!

  5. I agree I haven’t met a character like Gabriel either! I adore him. I mean yes he’s prickly but we get to learn why he is that way. I loved the revelations about him in this one and that we are learning more about the town and the people.

    I do wish however, and I forgot to mention this in my review but this freaking series needs a damn glossary I got really freaking tired of constantly looking up those welsh words and HOPING that I got the correct meaning – alot of which I did not. I do NOT like when I can’t get a words meaning from it’s context and you remember that page when there were like at least 5 welsh words on the same page. I was freaking ticked off.
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Review: Shadows by E.C. Blake

    • I’ve really enjoyed watching Gabriel’s growth from book 1 to 2, considering I HATED him in Omens. I found the vocabulary a bit confusing too, but I’m sure we’ll get the swing of ’em after another installment, or two. 😉

  6. Your enthusiasm leaps off the page for this one. I want it now, I am a little discouraged though that the first book isn’t as good can I skip it?
    Heidi recently posted…Friday Forecast August 17th-23rd

    • No, you definitely can’t skip book 1. The world-building is so details that you’ll definitely be lost if you do. Lots of readers enjoyed Omens, it just wasn’t for me unfortunately.

  7. Well that is different, I would totally have stopped after 1 and missed the epicness
    blodeuedd recently posted…Romance Friday: The Viscount who loved me / Romancing the Countess

    • This is why I ALWAYS give a series a second chance, because you just never know.

  8. Um, this sounds pretty amazing. I sort of love when there’s a love triangle, but it’s not an actual love triangle. It creates so much angst, and I LOVE angst in my books. Great review, Carmel!
    Hafsah recently posted…Cover Reveal for THE POISONED EMERALD by Sarena and Sasha Nanua

    • I normally hate love triangles, so Armstrong really managed to sneak one by me. Kudos to her!

  9. I’m an Armstrong fan too, Carmel, but I haven’t started this series. I’m so very glad this installment gave you everything you love in an Armstrong book. Especially after Omens not delivering. I’m anxious to get to this series now. 🙂

    • I was SO happy when she announced a new UF series, then I read Omens, and practically cried. Thank goodness for second chances!

  10. I just picked up Omens this week at the local used bookstore (my excuses are running thin) and I’m excited to hopefully *meet* this Gabriel you all are talking about. Visions sounds pretty amazing and it’s good to know this series is only getting better 🙂
    kim { Book Swoon } recently posted…Blog Tour: Storm Siren by Mary Weber

    • You’re going to learn to love to hate Gabriel. LOL Enjoy!

  11. Reading a book with low expectations DOES work out! 😉 I’ve never read a Kelly Armstrong book, but I guess I could endure the first book in the series if it means I’ll get to read the awesomeness of the second 🙂
    Marianne recently posted…{Short} Review: Jack Strong by Walter Mosley

    • The good thing about low expectations, is that they are easy to exceed. Armstrong doesn’t normally let me down, so I knew that it must have been a fluke.

  12. Cheese and toast. I am so far behind on her books it’s ridiculous. I’d been making such good head way on them and then got side tracked. Must get back to them soon!
    anna (herding cats & burning soup) recently posted…Reaper’s Property (Reapers MC #1) by Joanna Wylde

    • This is a brand new series with only 2 installments out, so no worries, there’s still time.

  13. I’m glad that you enjoyed this one. While I think I like Omen more than you did, it was probably my least favorite adult Kelley Armstrong book. I’m debating about listening to this one. I need to go listen to a sample to see if I want to listen or read. Great review. I’m thinking listen because I could get to it sooner and you’ve gotten me really excited. 🙂
    Melanie Simmons recently posted…Those Who Wish Me Dead Audiobook Review

    • My least favourite adult Armstrong book is a toss up between Omens, and Living with the Dead (WOTO #9).

      • At first, I thought you were referring to Personal Demons, but then I looked it up on GR. I didn’t like Living with the Dead either. Too many POVs and the story wasn’t as good.
        Melanie Simmons recently posted…Those Who Wish Me Dead Audiobook Review

      • I found it really dark, featured a never before seen character, plus the villain sleeps with / takes advantage of a mentally disabled boy. How sick is that?

  14. I’ve been wanting to read this series — so glad you enjoyed this one!! I love Kelley Armstrong’s YA series though!! Awesome review, thanks for sharing!!
    tricia recently posted…Weekly Question: Do You Read More While On Vacation?

    • I was hoping to start her YA series’ in audio, but apparently only book 2 in both of her trilogies are available in Canada on Audible. URGH!

  15. Seriously? You didn’t like Omens but you loved this one?? I maybe didn’t dislike Omens as much as you but, yeah, I wasn’t the biggest fan and was pretty disappointed that one of my fave UF/PNR writers put that thing out. So I didn’t even look when Visions crossed my screen. I think I need to change that!
    Mary recently posted…Hot Cover Alert, Mini-Review and Giveaway: Nalini Singh’s Rock Addiction

    • Omens was a 3-star read for me, while as this one was a 5, so yeah, that pretty much says it all!

  16. I’ve read a YA book of hers (The Gathering) a few years ago and I thought it was so-so. This one however sounds really good! I might have more luck with her adult series from the sound of it. Fab review as always!

    • I’ve read mixed reviews about her YA series, so I’m kind of glad that it was her UF that first got me hooked. I’m not sure she’d still be one of my fav authors had I done the reverse.

  17. I feel like such a boob because I haven’t read any books by K. Armstrong and her comes this new series. Maybe I’ll start with this series, it sounds totally awesome 😀
    sharonda recently posted…Review: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

    • At least read BITTEN, so that we can still be friends. 😉

  18. Wow, never heard of someone going from not liking a book to FREAKING LOVING IT. Very interesting. I have read 4 books y this author and thought them different form one another. It’s like the author changes style from a book to the author. 😛 Awesome review!
    Lola recently posted…Review of A Safe Space (Somebody Else’s Fairytale #4) by E.M. Tippetts

    • Armstrong is quite versatile in her writing; her Women of the Otherworld series changes MC’s from book to book, and each story is very different. Mind you, some are better than others. Plus, she’s Canadian!

  19. LMAO. you totally had me there at first. I was like “How could she not have liked it and gave it 5 stars?” I still need to read the first book but now I am even more excited to start this series.
    Jennifer Bielman recently posted…Stacking The Shelves #90: Uncivilized

    • Read my review of Omens, I didn’t sugarcoat it AT ALL. LOL

  20. I have first book, but haven’t read it. Now I think I have to read it to be able to read this one. Great review.
    BookaholicCat recently posted…Movie Trailer: The Theory of Everything

    • At least now you have the opportunity to read ’em back-to-back, unlike me. I really feared the worst when I received my Visions ARC.

  21. Well, it’s quite awesome when a second book proves us wrong when we worry about a series and makes us happy we gave the series a second chance!
    Now you’ve make me want to check Omens and reassured me that even if I’m not in love with it, I should go on cause it’ll be worth it!
    Thank you for the recommendation and review, Carmel!
    Pili recently posted…Saturday Pages: Mini-review of Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne!!

    • My go-to rule is to give every series a 2 book chance, mind you, I probably would have given Armstrong 3. Hehe

  22. I still haven’t read Omens, but for me Kelley was always one of my fave YA authors so I really don’t know how her UF books would work out for me. It does sound great and I’m sure I’ll give it a try (as soon as I overcome my Kate Daniels addiction). Great review, Carmel 🙂
    Tanja recently posted…Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

    • It’s always difficult to switch genres, especially when you loved your first experience with an author. You can’t help but worry that the other novels won’t live up to your already high expectations. Having not read her YA yet, I can’t really say for sure, but personally I love her UF books.

  23. Epicsauce is good! Gosh I haven’t read some KArmstrong in a long ass time! I don’t have Omens, I missed the frickin’ Amazon sale, but I have Sea of Shadows. That’s better than nothing. Happy weekend, lady!
    Braine Talk Supe recently posted…Suped Up! Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

    • I’m just coming down from an Armstrong novella read-a-thon; after this one, I couldn’t resist the urge to binge. Sea of Shadows is next on my list!

  24. I feel so out of the loop since I haven’t read any of Armstrongs books before but everyone loves her books so much! I do like the sound of this one so i think maybe this series would be a good start to start reading her books (of course–I’d read the first one first LOL)
    Lily recently posted…Some Boys: Review

    • She has sooo many different series to choose from, but this one’s only 2 books deep, so it’s definitely a good place to start.

  25. I was intrigued with Omens when it first came out, but I wanted to see how the rest of the series went before I picked it up. It sounds awesome, I love the omens in here which seems to have a puzzle solving flavour to it! The romance also sounds like it isn’t insta-love and will build up over the course of the series – I’m already sold. Great review Carmel!
    Jeann recently posted…Read Play Blog #2 – Favourite Gaming Genre

    • I’ve never come across insta-love in ANY of this author’s books which is a feat in itself IMO, and another reason why I seriously <3 Armstrong.

  26. So I have never read a Kelley Armstrong book, I am about to remedy this! I’m assuming that Visions isn’t a standalone read so I’ll have to read Omens, even if you didn’t like it.

    Thanks for the review Carmel!

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

    • Reading Omens is a MUST in order to be able to appreciate this book for the epicsauce that it is!

  27. I know that a lot of people had issues with Omens, but I adored it. It’s making me VERY excited to hear that people are loving where the series is going now though! It’s a bit odd that there isn’t more of a focus on the Larsen murders, but I think Armstrong is planning on this being a longer series (saw her mentioning book 4 on twitter) so I’m convinced those threads will be revisited. I’m so glad you loved this, Carmel!
    Danya recently posted…Review: A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey

    • Armstrong is a master storyteller, so I have no doubt that she has plans for the Larsen murders because she never leaves any loose ends.

  28. Fab review Carmel! It’s good to see this book turned things around for you and you began to like the characters and world more! I think I need to try this series for myself!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace
    Naomi recently posted…Nomi’s Weekly Wrap Up #101

    • I was SO afraid of hating Visions when I first started reading the ARC. Writing a negative review for a Kelley Armstrong book just breaks my heart.

  29. YAY Carmel! I’m so happy Visions did it for you, especially after Omen didn’t. It’s always hard to read a book by a favorite author and not be completely wowed by it, no?
    I need to read some Kelley Armstrong, I haven’t started a new UF series for a while.
    Have a fantastic week, and happy reading 🙂
    Lexxie recently posted…Review: The Soldier’s E-Mail Order Bride – Cora Seton

    • Armstrong is my #1 fav author, so yeah, whenever I don’t LOVE one of her books, I die a little inside…