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!

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!

4 of 5 stars to ‘Numbers ignite’ by Rebecca Rode

Numbers ignite

Deeper into dystopia

Treena has left NORA in the hands of the boy she once loved and set out across the war ravaged desert in search of the man she wants to spend her life with. But NORA is hot on her heels and this time, they’re not taking any prisoners.

Vance gave up everything to see the girl he loves on the throne of NORA, including his freedom. Returned to his people, he must face the consequences of his actions for the past years. He’s prepared to pay the price for his deeds, but draws the line when he is wrongfully accused of another heinous crime.

Separated by time and no-man’s land, ripped apart by political agendas and family duties, can Treena and Vance find their way back to one another and unravel the mysteries that threaten the lands they call home?

This second installment of the Numbers Game series takes part outside the carefully constructed world of NORA. We get to see how the other half live beyond the walls, and taste a bit of the old America that was destroyed by war. The individual societies Rode has created are intricate in every detail. Each has their own rules and norms to ensure survival and yet each is plagued in its own way by prejudices and personal political agendas.

As far as characters go, I felt that Vance’s development was the most pronounced. His “whatever’ attitude conceals a depth of character and strength of leadership that can bring nations together. The peripheral characters were interesting, but not particularly deep, with some falling into cliched status.

This installment wasn’t as neatly tied up as the first. There are some loose threads I would like to see tied up and this made the ending a tad vague and not as convincing as it could have been. But I still loved the story!

Numbers game

Dystopia at its best

Treena is a model citizen of NORA. She’s spent her whole life following the rules to get the highest possible rating because in NORA, your entire future depends on the number assigned to you on rating day.

When the much anticipated rating day arrives though, Treena, and everyone who knows her, are shocked at the number she receives. She’s determined that her number is wrong and when the leader of the land offers her a way to redeem herself, Treena jumps at the chance, even though it means putting herself on the front lines. There, she meets Vance and together, they uncover a plot to kill Treena and a conspiracy that extends to the throne itself. Can Treena survive long enough to unravel the mystery? Will she earn the number she’s been fighting for her whole life? When all’s said and done, will she want the number anyway?

This is young adult dystopia at its best! The world Rode has created is vast, steeped in history, conspiracy, politics and war. Book one focuses much on life within the NORA boundaries, but you get the sense that there is much more to the story beyond the walls. The perfectly paced plot unfolds from the point of view of two central characters. Treena’s character is superficial at first, but she matures nicely as the story progresses. She has an inner strength and intelligence, as well as softness of heart that allows her to see beyond the numbers to the real people around her. Vance is fiercely independent, flippant at times, but with a hidden depth of character that peeks out when the welfare of those he cares about is at stake. The mix of POV allows for the telling of a deeper story, with more history than would have been possible if it were told from the heroine’s point of view alone. I also get the sense that the POVs are going to be even more central to the storyline in the next book.

If you liked the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, you will love this novel. I can’t wait to find out what adventures lie beyond the walls of NORA!

5 of 5 stars to ‘Shadow and Bone’ by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and bone

Finest fantasy

Alina Starkov has never stood out. She’s always been pale, quiet Alina, struggling to make friends in the orphanage of the Duke and trailing along at the back of the regiment while her best friend Mal basks in the limelight.

When Mal and Alina’s regiment reaches the Shadow Fold, she is terrified. They must cross the dark, dead landscape, filled with horrific creatures waiting to devour their flesh, with only the magical Grisha as protection. As their ship makes it’s way across the sands, her worst nightmare is realized. The ship is attacked and her best friend Mal is injured and nearly killed by the evil creatures of the Fold. In a moment of panic, Alina reacts and unleashes a power inside she didn’t know was there, driving back the evil creatures and rescuing the ship’s passengers from certain death.

Alina’s actions draw the attention of the Grisha elite, and ultimately, the mysterious Darkling, who is right hand to the King himself. Alina is whisked away to the palace for training. Thrust from poverty into luxury, and hailed as the savior of Ravka, Alina must adjust to her change in status and learn to control the power she has been suppressing her entire life. But her heart still yearns for the friend she left behind and the Darkling is not who he appears to be…

This one’s been on my to read list for a while, but I’ve put it off because the blurb and the cover didn’t really hook me. After reading it, however, I wish I’d opened it much sooner! This is fantasy at it’s finest. Bardugo has created a fantastical world of hierarchical society, dark power and magic that is impossible not to be pulled into. Her descriptions of the Grisha world are done in such a masterful way, with just the right amount of description to get the reader’s imagination going, while still assuming a flattering level of intelligence and understanding on the reader’s part. As a reader, you feel as if you’ve lived in Ravka your entire life.

Alina’s character is complex, easy to love and believable. Her character development is clear and gripping to follow. Mal, and the Darkling are more mysterious characters, but equally intriguing. I loved this novel and can’t wait to find out what happens next!

5 of 5 stars to ‘Seven years’ by Dannika Dark

Seven years

Sexy start to the series

Seven years later, Lexi still hasn’t gotten over the death of her brother. Or the fact that his best friend, Austin Cole, kissed her and then walked out on her family when they needed him the most.
Now, on the anniversary of his death, Austin returns to town, bringing with him a whole heap of trouble and a few truths Lexi may not be ready to hear. He never counted on Lexi having her own secrets though, the kind that attracts danger like bees to honey.

Dark has created a realistic shifter fantasy world that gets this series off to a smashing start. The characters she has created are three dimensional, each with his or her own history. Dark has provided just enough of a taste to wet the appetite for each of the pack’s stories that are sure to follow.
Pack leader Cole, is a strong, passionate, hot and protective hero with the perfect dose of imperfection and vulnerability. Lexi is head-strong, independent and sexy. Together, they make great conflict and heaps of sexiness. This is the perfect adult urban fantasy to escape into.