5 of 5 stars to “The Barrier Between” by Stacey Marie Brown

The barrier between

 

Tension, danger, betrayal, and romance

Zoey’s life has been irrevocably changed by the unnatural storm that has devastated Seattle and taken the lives of the only two people in the world she loved. Zoey discovers that Daniel, her DMG partner and the man she has loved for years, has left behind a devastating message for her, unraveling the truth behind the DMG and the experiments they have been conducting, not only on the Fae they hunt but even on their own hunters. Zoey discovers that as a result of one such experiment, she is dying. Now, it is a race against time to find someone who can help transfer the Wanders Fae powers back to Ryker before Zoe takes them with her to the grave forever.

Stacey Mari Brown takes her fantasy world to another level in this installment of the Collector series. The workings of the Fae world and the back stories are nicely fleshed out. The focus of the story remains the relationship between Ryker and Zoey. Brown has a definite talent for hiking up the tension as the attraction between them grows. Then, to the already boiling pot, Brown throws in the third point of a love triangle, creating a delicious conflict.

The story arches are neat, with some danger, intrigue and betrayal brought in with various supporting characters. The changes in setting and location also add some variation to the story and broaden the scope of possibilities. I’m thoroughly enjoying my immersion in this wonderful world of Fae.

5 of 5 stars to ‘City in Embers’ by Stacey Marie Brown

City in embers

Chemistry, fantasy, humor

Just when it seems as if everything in her hard life is finally coming together, Zoe Daniels is stripped of everything. A freak storm robs her of the only two people she cares about and forces her into the path of the ruthless Wanderer, Ryker. Once a collector of fae, Zoe becomes the hunted, and the only person she can trust is the one she has been taught to despise, to fear and to hunt.

If there’s one thing Stacey Marie Brown got right in his novel, it’s the chemistry! She is a pro at creating sizzling conflict between the main characters that starts out as animosity and slowly morphs into attraction.

But there’s more to this novel than just the heat. Brown has cleverly brought in humor and tenderness with the creation of Sprig, the mischievous, strange monkey-sprite. He relieves the tension at times and always seems to appear and disappear at the most inopportune moments. He’s just wonderful!

The fantasy world itself is masterfully created, with plenty of back-story, adventure, danger and reality. The character arcs are perfect, especially since there is no ‘love at first sight’. The attraction is gradual and more realistic. I haven’t been this drawn into a fantasy series in a while and I can’t wait to find out what happens to Ryker, Zoe and Sprig!

3 of 5 stars to Craving by Stephanie Summers

Craving

Chemistry

Sabine knows that there’s a good chance she’ll be chosen as the next sacrifice to fulfill the infamous Willow creek vampire treaty. Still, she is devastated when she receives the notice on her eighteenth birthday and realizes that she will never be able to live out her dreams.
When Sabine meets the vampire she will be paired with, she is horrified. Remy may be the favorite progeny of Bastion, Lord of the Willow creek vampires, but he is arrogant, selfish, rude and uncaring. She knows that she will never be more to him that a food source, and yet she can’t help or understand the growing attraction she feels every time they are together.

Craving was a pleasant read. I’m a sucker for romance, so I enjoyed the storyline which focuses mainly on the conflict and chemistry between the two main characters, Sabine and Remy. The characters themselves are pretty standard, lacking in depth at times, but there was a nice chemistry between them, and I quite enjoyed Remy’s snarky comments. The supporting characters were few and really did not play much of a role in the story beyond some cliched scenes. I felt that the plot could have been tighter. It felt thin and rushed at times with large periods of times elapsing in the space of sentences. I personally would have preferred fewer, more intimate scenes. The witty dialogue made up for some of the novel’s shortfalls though and I still found ‘Craving’ an easy, fun read.

Must read tool for self-development

Emotional intelligence

A practical guide to improving your EQ

With 90% of top performers high in EQ this book is a must for any person looking to grow and develop the skills that account for more than 58% of performance in any role.

With practical examples and clear research, Bradberry and Greaves examine the four pillars of EQ:
1. Self awareness
2. Self management
3. Social awareness
4. Relationship management

For each pillar, Bradberry and Greaves explain the basic concepts and explore simple and effective strategies for improvement.

One of the highlights is that this book includes a code where you can complete your own Emotional intelligence appraisal. The test identifies which area you most need to work on, and also allows monitoring and reassessment to determine whether the strategies you’ve employed are working.

This is a business tool I’m sure I will refer back to many times as I undertake my own journey of self development.

4 of 5 stars to “Forbidden” by Amy Miles

Forbidden

Chemistry and danger

Roseline Enescue has spent most of her immortal existence wishing she could escape the cruelty and violence of her husband, the infamous Vladimir Enescue. When the opportunity presents, Roseline escapes and flees to America, where she tries to establish a semblance of a normal life by enrolling in High school.
Rose, as her new friends know her, falls in love with Gabriel Marston and soon discovers that, no matter how much she may try and no matter how far she may run, the past has a way of catching up.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The writing is unique and particularly gripping, written as it is in third person present tense. There is a lovely flow and intensity to the author’s story-telling, although my copy was an Audible version, so I’m unable to comment on grammar. Some of the scenes, most notably the action scenes, were a little stiff and perhaps just a little too detailed for the pace, but they were still effective.

The focus of the story is definitely the two characters, Rose and Gabriel, and any other storylines take a back-seat to this budding romance. There is such chemistry between the two main characters that one can overlook the cliched peripheral characters. The back story and premise leaves me intrigued to follow the rest of Rose’s story.

5 of 5 stars to ‘Siege and Storm’ by Leigh Bardugo

siege-and-storm

Magical and religious society

Alina may have escaped the Darkling, for now, but she’ll never outrun the memories of that night on the Shadowfold. Riddled with guilt, she tries to make a new life with Mal across the true sea. But the Darkling is never far behind, and his powers have grown to terrifying new depths. Can Alina keep ahead of him, can she protect the man she loves, and can she really turn her back on her country and the people who, even now, look to her to save Ravka?

Bardugo extends her fantasy world even further in this second installment of the Grisha series. Once again, her descriptions of the environment and the complicated workings of an integrated magical and normal society are fascinating, detailed and riddled with uncomfortable situations. I loved the underlying political games and the religious aspects because they are so radical and unlike anything in our own society. It’s easy to get immersed and lost in this wonderful world of mythology and magic.

Alina’s character evolves throughout the storyline and Mal’s own transformation makes for some interesting inter and intra personal conflicts, which contributes a much larger portion of the storyline than in the first installment. There’s a whole lot of adventure and some intriguing twists in this installment. I’m still hooked on this series!

4 of 5 stars to “Highland Shift” by Laura Harner

highland-shift

Hot Scot, romance and magic…

Elena MacFarland is on her way to Scotland, to take possession of a small farm due to her in a legal settlement with her ex-fiance, when she meets Faolan MacGailtry on the airplane. He’s attractive, dangerous and exceedingly arrogant, and Elena, thinking they will go their separate ways when they land, makes pleasant small talk on the flight.

Upon arrival in Scotland however, Elena finds herself at the receiving end of more than one murder and kidnapping attempt. Faolan, conveniently, happens to be present and manages to foil these attempts. He appoints himself protector and moves into Elena’s small farm house.

Soon, Elena finds herself drawn into Faolan’s dark world of ancient, magical secrets. How long can she stay alive and withstand his dangerous, magnetic attraction.

I quite enjoyed this novel. It has many draw-cards: a handsome, brawny Scot, an independent heroine, danger, romance, paranormal, ancient magic and plenty of hot attraction. The writer in me felt that it should possibly have been two separate books since there are two distinct segments to the novel. There’s the first part when Elena and Faolan meet. This part was wrought with hot tension and intrigue and was well-paced. Then there is the second part, after the two fall in love. This part felt very rushed, almost as though the author wanted to shove too many things into the last few chapters. The result was an ending that skipped over some important story-lines, but still had a darkly-magical feel to it.

The plot and characters were still interesting and there were some amazingly steamy sex scenes. Overall, it was a fun story.