A very different flavor to the usual Maggie Stiefvater

All the crooked Saints

 

Miracles

Owls are attracted to miracles and the little Colorado town of Bicho Raro is teeming with them. Pilgrims come to the town in search of the Saints of the Soria family, hoping for their own miracles. But miracles are strange things, and sometimes require more than just the Saints of Bicho Raro to be completed. Sometimes it takes a miracle for the pilgrims to reach inside and find their own answers and once in a while, miracles can happen even to the saints themselves.

Maggie Stiefvater is hands down my favorite author. Her writing is always lyrical and symbolic and I marvel at her creativity and talent. This book has an entirely different flavor to it. I struggled a lot to get into this story. At one point, I considered giving up but I continued, searching for the hidden gem. There is a huge amount of underlying symbolism in this novel. While the story in itself was gentle and not awe-inspiring for me, the message it carries of hope, of the darkness we each carry and our ability to slay it together, is.

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.

5 of 5 stars to ‘Captured’ by Erica Stevens

Captured

Emotive writing

Aria sacrificed herself to save a child. Now, she has been taken as blood slave to none other than the Prince of darkness himself. Raised on tales of the cruelty of the vampires, Aria has first hand knowledge as daughter of the leader of the resistance. But The Prince is nothing like she expected…

As far as plot go, this one is relatively simple in structure. It’s a paranormal Beauty and the Beast story – and yet so much more. There is something so raw and poignant in this author’s writing. Not many authors have this kind of ability to rip into a reader’s emotions and turn a simple plot into a deep, passionate love story.

I loved the vulnerability of Aria’s character. She is strong without being perfect. She challenges the traditional mold of heroine because her beauty is much more of the soul than of the body. The world is which the characters live is a dark and well constructed one, without overly complicated details to leash the imagination.

Beautiful start to the series, can’t wait to read the next book!

3 of 5 stars to ‘A Shadow of light’ by Bella Forrest

A Shadow of light

What a difference an ending makes

Derek and Sofia are deep in the heart of hunter territory. Her father, the leader of the hunters, wants nothing more than to kill the man Sofia loves, and her mother wants her dead. Back at the Shade, Derek’s father is brewing rebellion and the vampire clans are threatening war. Then there’s also the fact that Sofia is immune, and Derek has had a taste of her blood. Will the two star-crossed lovers ever find true sanctuary?

I had this one pegged as another five star, brilliant addition to the series…until around about the last chapter. The entire scene with Boris knocked the series down a rating or two for me. Every book has been building Derek into the warrior who would give his life to protect Sofia – and then he just stands back and let’s her get taken and beaten…This was completely out of character and disappointed me. The introduction of the ‘original’ seemed so haphazard and last minute too, like the author needed to quickly insert a reason to write the next novel.

The rest of the novel was quite good, actually. I enjoyed the mind games and detailed backstories of the supporting characters, especially Ingrid. The various POVs, once again, provided a unique and effective way to tell this story. I love the fact that Ms Forrest does not just allow you to write the villains off as ‘bad’. She provides enough backstory to make it difficult to hate any of the characters, no matter how devious they may appear.

There was a definite move ‘outwards’ in this novel from the nucleus of Derek and Sofia’s relationship. Many of the ‘minor’ characters evolved, and there was still some lovely character development, most notably with Claudia and Gregor. The theme of ‘good wins out over evil’ was nicely carried with these two characters.

I’ve loved this series from book 1, but must admit that the last chapter really put a spoke in the wheel for me. I’m honestly not sure if I will continue the series.

4 of 5 stars to ‘Bloodlines’ by Richelle Mead

Bloodlines

Great characters

After the drama with Rose Hathaway, Sydney knows she’s skating on thin ice. Her fellow Alchemists have accused her of being a ‘vampire lover’ and she’s living under the very real threat of being sent away to a ‘re-education centre’. Worse yet, her actions may cause her sister to be dragged into the unsafe work of alchemy.

So when Sydney is apprised of a new assignment, she fights tooth and nail to be the one sent in place of her young and inexperienced sister, even though it means she’ll have to live with one of the ‘unnatural monsters’ she’s trying to protect the human world from. Secretly, Sydney knows that the gap between the Moroi and humans is smaller than she’s been led to believe. Living with Jill, the royal Moroi she’s been assigned to hide won’t be as bad as she thinks. It might even be fun, going to school and making friends. And nothing really happens in Palm Springs anyway…

After the Vampire Academy series, I think I expected Sydney to be similar in character to Rose, but I was pleasantly surprised. Don’t get me wrong, Rose is one of my favorite young adult characters, but a new series needs to have something fresh and exciting. Sydney is all that. She’s not your expected heroine. She doesn’t fight, she wears suits and she’s altogether quite lady-like. Some would say, she’s a ‘good-girl’, perhaps even a ‘walk-over’…Yet there is a hidden strength in her blood. Sydney is the girl who can get her own back without breaking a nail or lowering herself to her opponents level. She’s all business on the outside. On the opposite end of the scale is Adrian: bad boy and party animal. United by their concern for their young charge, the two opposites team up, to make a surprisingly great team. The character development on the part of both characters is definite and heart-warming. It’s probably my highlight in this novel.

I enjoyed this story, and would like to find out what happens next, but I have to admit that it didn’t enthrall me the way the Vampire Academy series did. Perhaps it was the lack of chemistry (excuse the pun!), the slower pace or the cliched feel of some of the interactions. Still a great read!