Quick Review: Morrigan’s Cross by Nora Roberts

Morrigan’s Cross is the first book in The Circle Trilogy by Nora Roberts.

Summary (from back of book):

Standing on the cliffs of 12th century Ireland following the disappearance of his twin, Hoyt Mac Cionaoith is visited by the goddess Morrigan and is charged with the ultimate of tasks: saving his and all future worlds. His enemy – the beautiful but deadly vampire queen Lilith – has had over two thousand years’ experience in cruelly killing and changing humans into her own kind – including Hoyt’s brother, Cian. Now, Hoyt, a sorcerer, must travel across the world and through time to find and train the five others Morrigan has foretold will join him as a circle and do battle against Lilith’s army of vampires.

Fate brings him first to Glenna Ward – a modern witch who can make her own kind of magic. Hoyt and Glenna find themselves drawn together, but is their love strong enough to survive not just the battle ahead but the centuries that separate them?

My Thoughts:

First off, I did enjoy this book. It was engaging, entertaining and interesting enough to keep my attention to the end, although I will say that I didn’t feel the need to race through this one. I thought the change in the timeline was handled well and Hoyt’s reactions to the modern world authentic.

I liked most of the characters most of the time, but sometimes I felt like stereotypes crept in. Cian was my favourite character by a country mile – who isn’t fond of a complex, moody vampire?

However, there is a lot going on in this story, and at certain points it felt there was a little too much. I’m not going to go into detail about this for fear of spoilers, but I think there were too many fantasy elements at play.

Needless to say, a book by Nora Roberts is going to be well-written and it was. I found the writing easy to read, but the pacing was perhaps a little too slow for my personal preference.

Do I intend to read the other two books of The Circle Trilogy? I do. I would like to see how the story ends but with my shelves burdening under the weight of the many books I have crammed on them, I fear it won’t be any time soon.

Rating:

3.5 / 5

Book Review: Wolf’s Bane by Julie Midnight

Wolf’s Bane is the second book in the Monstrous Hearts series by Julie Midnight

Quick Review:

This series isn’t the usual type of werewolf story, making it a refreshing read, and the prose is almost lyrical in places, making it a beautiful read as well. 4 / 5

Summary from Goodreads:

In the months since escaping an abusive relationship, Alice has sought peace living in the wilderness with Colton, her mysterious lover who shifts from man to wolf at will. There in the shadows of the woods, she hopes to lick her wounds and rebuild her life. But ghosts have a way of stirring from their graves, and Alice is about to learn that one can never hide from the past for long. Sometimes, the past can come back to life, and when it does, it has teeth sharper than any wolf’s…

Favourite Quote:

“Far above them hangs the moon, returned to its usual ivory glow that brings to mind wedding lace dulled with dust and bones bared of their flesh.”

(From Wolf’s Bane by Julie Midnight, chapter 15)

Review:

I read the first book in this series, Wolf’s Wife, back in 2018 (see my review for that here). Before I go any further with my review, it might be worthwhile sharing the opening of my review for the first book:

“…this isn’t the usual type of paranormal book I read.  There is a lot of mature content to be found in the story – so should you go off and read it yourself, you’ve been warned…  Neither is it full of the usual werewolf fare.”

All three points remain true this time round. One: this isn’t the usual type of paranormal book I read. Two: there is a lot of mature content to be found in the story – a lot more than I recall for the first book. Three: this story isn’t full of the usual werewolf fare.

It’s the characters which again make the story. Alice is growing, transitioning from the breakable woman we meet in Wolf’s Wife into a stronger, empowered woman who owns who she is. We also get to see a different side to Colton in this instalment as he helps Alice navigate an existence between the remnants of her old life and the unusual path they have ahead of them.

The story was well-written and the dark horror and fantastical elements blend seamlessly with the more realistic passages. And the author’s writing style gives a poetical, lyrical feel to the prose. Some of the sentences and paragraphs (like my favourite quote above) are simply beautiful.

I read Wolf’s Bane for free via Wattpad. I’m hoping to get around to reading the third and final book in the series, Wolf’s Kin soon, maybe even by the end of the month, so I can include my review with this year’s Indie Only reads…

Rating:

Book Review: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Forever is the third book in The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

An enjoyable and fitting third book in the trilogy.  I love Maggie’s Stiefvater’s style of writing. 4 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

then.
When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their love moved from curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives.

now.
That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be killed in one final, spectacular hunt.

forever.
Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment–a moment of death or life, farewell or forever.

Favourite Quote

Overhead, the stars were wheeling and infinite, a complicated mobile made by giants. They pulled me amongst them, into space and memories.

(From Forever by Maggie Stiefvater, page 85)

Review

It had been a few years since I read and reviewed the first two books in The Wolves of Mercy Fall trilogy (you can read those reviews here: Shiver, and Linger), back in 2017.  So I thought it was about time I got around to complete reading the trilogy.

I like the way Maggie Stiefvater writes.  There is fluidity to passages and the imagery she paints with words is amazing (see Favourite Quote above).  There is just something very simple but full of impact in descriptions like that.

The setting for the story, by which I mean the natural spaces, is stunning.  I loved the descriptions of the woods, and as the story moved towards the final third / quarter, the pacing really picked up.

Grace and Sam were (of course) the stars of story.  Their romance and what it must survive and overcome is quite unlike anything else I’ve read, probably because the forces at work are so beyond either of their control.  Out of the two, Sam was my favourite: he’s got a lot going on but handles the pressure fantastically.  Grace, for all her intelligence, was more self-involved and seemed occupied with a fair few “I want to do / see…” thoughts, some of which didn’t really make sense to me, given the danger that was all around them.

Although it was interesting to see what was going on from Cole and Isabel’s perspective, and they do have their own storylines and parts to play in the overall story, which I appreciated, I sometimes felt they were a little too distracting.  However, that wasn’t the case each and every time the POV switched to them, but on occasion it felt like the story was moving further away from Grace and Sam.  What I learned as I was writing this review, and thinking that their story would have made a great spin-off, is that there is another book in this series, Sinner, that focuses on Cole and Isabel! Woohoo!  Another book added to the ever-growing TBR list…

One of the highlights of the series is how being part-human part-wolf is portrayed.  There are no “werewolves”.  There is no magic.  It’s not even paranormal, at least not in the way we often expect the paranormal to be.  It just is.  It’s more science and biology than anything else, and I think that really sets this story apart from other YA paranormal books that I’ve read.

One thing I didn’t really like about Forever was the ending, by which I mean the final chapter.  Although it completed the narrative of the trilogy, I felt it was left a little too open for it to feel satisfying.  It left me with more questions that I wanted answers to, but, overall, I enjoyed the story and was glad I finished the trilogy. Now I’m looking forward to reading Sinner

Rating

Book Review: Wolf’s Wife by Julie Midnight

Summary (from Goodreads)

Alice is twenty-four, far old enough to know that a change of scenery can’t repair the cracks in a relationship long strained. But when her lover insists on a trip to a remote cabin to get away and recharge, Alice agrees…and soon discovers that among the beasts of the forest, there is one that shouldn’t exist and yet does: a wolf that changes into a man and a man who changes into a wolf. He’s savage, suspicious, and feral. And he’s as undeniably interested in her as she is in him…

Wolf’s Wife is an erotic paranormal romance and the first book in the Monstrous Hearts series.

Favourite Quote

Even in a mind worn into paths of silence and appeasement, the urge to snap and claw and kick burns like an ember hidden in the ashes.

Review

Like my previous review, this isn’t the usual type of paranormal book I read.  There is a lot of mature content to be found in the story – so should you go off and read it yourself, you’ve been warned…  Neither is it full of the usual werewolf fare.

I loved the story, but more than that, I loved the characters.  I warmed to Alice very quickly; her relationship with Magdalene was hard to read, so tipped were the scales.  Colton, the werewolf, with his aloofness, his wariness, was very realistic.  He’s gruff and rough and suspicious, almost animal traits that he brings with him into his human form rather than leaving behind with the wolf.  And that makes this werewolf more lifelike than what is usually depicted in supernaturally-themed tales.

There is a complexness in this story that makes this paranormal romance so believable.  The characters are well-crafted and the story well-thought out and well-written.  The author knows how to build atmosphere and tension, and as the quote above shows, there is a beauty to the prose.

There’s also a rawness about this tale.  Colton, as a man/wolf between worlds has to decide whether he can trust this stranger.  And as for Alice, who also finds herself “in between”, between her world and his, between her relationship with Magdalene and her feelings, she’s trying to navigate her way through some pretty difficult territory.

I will certainly be reading the sequel, Wolf’s Bane to find out how the story continues to unfold.

Rating

Book Review: Torment by Lauren Kate

Torment is the second book in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate.

Summary (blurb taken from back cover)

Love never dies…

It took Lucinda an eternity to find her beloved angel, Daniel.  But he waited for her.  Now they are forced apart again, to protect Luce from the Outcasts – immortals who want her dead.  During their separation, Luce learns about her mysterious past lives.  But the more she discovers, the more she suspects that Daniel is hiding something.

What if Daniel’s version of the past isn’t true?  Is it really their destiny to be together?  Or is Luce actually meant to be with somebody else?

Favourite Quote

Sometimes beautiful things come into our lives out of nowhere.  We can’t always understand them, but we have to trust in them.  I know you want to question everything, but sometimes it pays to just have a little faith.

Review

After struggling to enjoy reading the first book in the series, I don’t know if I would have read the second, Torment, only I had already bought it when I purchased Fallen.  The covers pulled me in and persuaded me to buy them.  And I’m sort-of glad they did, because I enjoyed Torment more than the previous instalment and I wouldn’t have known that.

I’m still not a big fan of Luce – I think her attitude is all wrong and she just comes across as a really selfish person on occasion.  Again, it is her friend who I am more interested in as a character.  In the last book it was Penn.  This time round it is Luce’s hippy roommate Shelby.

Parts of the book were still slow-going in places, and still there is stuff going on which is alluded to but never explained.  It doesn’t make it mysterious, only confusing.  However, it was certainly more enjoyable than Fallen to read, and the end really set up the third book in the series nicely.  So much so, that I’m intrigued to find out what happens next, something which I couldn’t envision myself thinking at the end of book one.

Rating

3.5 / 5

Book Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

This is the first book in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate.

Summary  (blurb taken from the back of the book)

Some angels are destined to fall.

Instant. Intense.  Weirdly familiar…The moment Luce looks at Daniel she knows she has never felt like this before.  Except she can’t shake the feeling that she has…and with him…a boy she doesn’t remember ever setting eyes on.

Will her attempt to find out why enlighten her – or destroy her?

Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Fallen is a thrilling story about forbidden love.

Favourite Quote

Trust is a careless pursuit at best.  At worst, it’s a good way to get yourself killed.

Review

This was another book that hooked me via a really cool front cover.  Gothic, dark, mysterious artwork coupled with an engaging blurb (see summary above) had me buying not only the first book in the Fallen series, but book number two too!

And it was an all right story.  I didn’t really like Luce though.  My favourite character of the book was Luce’s friend Penn – full name Pennyweather Van Syckle-Lockwood.  She was the saving grace of this book.  The other characters lacked enough depth for me to really be interested in why they were there.

I expected more from this story.  It tried to be too mysterious, I think, and in so doing, basic explanations of what was going on were sacrificed.  However, I did read to the end of the book, I loved the front cover and Penn was an interesting character, hence the 2.5 / 5 score.

Had I not already bought the second book in the series, I am doubtful as to whether I would have read it.  But I did, and I have, and I will be sharing the review shortly.

Rating

2.5 / 5

Book Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Linger is the second book in The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater.

Summary:

Sam Roth is no longer the boy who turns into a wolf when the temperature drops.  He is now just a boy with a future ahead of him and the girl he loves beside him.  However, his past is never that far from his present, nor is the weight of responsibility on his shoulders ever far from his mind.

Grace Brisbane, the girl who didn’t turn into a wolf when she was bitten as a child, now has all she’s ever wanted.  A real future with the boy she loves and the prospect of a life away from Mercy Falls when she goes off to college.  However, something’s not right, and the future she had thought was hers is no longer certain.

As their world begins to fall apart, what will become of them?

Favourite Quote:

“I never knew there were so many kinds of love or that love could make people do so many different things.

I never knew there were so many different ways to say goodbye.”

Review:

In the second book in this series we find that the roles of Grace and Sam have been somewhat reversed.  Isabel, their reluctant confidant from Shiver, comes into her own, as she tries battling her own demons and helping her friends.

We are also introduced to a new character, Cole. I liked how his story was the complete opposite of Sam’s: Sam struggled to remain human, whilst Cole struggles to remain a wolf.  Another aspect of the story that I like is that Sam uses song lyrics to process what he is feeling and what is going on around him.

I enjoyed reading this book, however, I didn’t think it was as good or as gripping as the first in the trilogy, probably because I found it harder to connect with a few of the characters this time round, at least for the first half of the book.  This made it much harder to rate.  I didn’t think I could give it a 4, the same as I gave Shiver, but it is much better than a 3, so I tagged an extra ½ on to the rating below.

I am looking forward to reading the final book of the trilogy, Forever, to see what happens to Grace and Sam, Cole and Isabel and the rest of the wolf pack.

Rating:

3.5 / 5

Book Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

shiver-front-coverShiver is the first book in The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater.

Summary:

When Grace was small, she was dragged off the swing in her back garden by wolves and pulled into the woods behind her house.  Somehow she survived the attack.  Deep down she knows it has something to do with the wolf with yellow eyes – her wolf.

As the years pass, she marks the changing seasons by the presence or lack there of, of the wolves in Boundary Woods.  When they’re not there, she misses them terribly.  When they are, she knows the yellow-eyed wolf is close by, watching.  And there is something almost human about him…

Sam is a young man caught between worlds.  In winter he is destined to live his life with the pack in the woods, the only true family he has ever loved.  In summer, when the temperature allows, he shifts back to being human.

Then, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy, and she just knows he is her wolf.  But things are never that simple.  Sam’s time is running out.  When it does, he will lose Grace, forever.

Favourite Quote:

She made a soft noise that, roughly translated, meant piss off in sleep language.

Review:

First, I loved this book, even though it made me cry.  Yes, I can be terribly soft and sentimental…

As a YA book, it was a quick and easy read, and it didn’t take long for me to get swept up with the story.  One thing in particular stood out to me as I read it: it is full of gorgeous descriptions of the setting, convincingly transporting me to Mercy Falls.

Shiver reminded me a little of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books.  Star-crossed lovers, impossible odds of being together, paranormal boyfriend – human girlfriend…and yet I felt they were so different, probably due to the style of the author’s writing.

I enjoyed the mythology surrounding the wolves.  Having the temperature play such an important role in the story really added drama and tension to it.  I also liked how we got to see what was happening from both Grace’s and Sam’s point of view.

I liked Grace; she is a strong young woman, and will do what it takes to fight for who she loves.  And Sam, caught between the life he knows and a life with the woman he loves…it’s not hard to feel for him.

I am looking forward to reading the second book in the trilogy, Linger, to see where the story leads next…

Rating:

four-stars

Book Review: Shattered Promises by Jessica Sorensen

For as long as Gemma Lucas can remember, she has felt nothing but emptiness.  It doesn’t help that she was raised by grandparents who never showed her any affection.  Things change when she starts having dreams which somehow begin to unlock her emotions.

A few weeks later, she meets a stranger on the college campus; a guy she has been dreaming about.  When they touch, electricity shoots up her arm.  It just so happens that this guy, Alex, and his sister, Aislin, are new in town and are in Gemma’s astrology class.  When the three have to work on a project together, Gemma can’t help but feel drawn to Alex, but she gets extremely conflicting messages from him.  When the monsters from her dreams start appearing in her waking life, she can’t help wonder if she’s mad.

But something isn’t right with Alex and Aislin and Gemma doesn’t know what it is.  However, as her emotions begin to get stronger, long-buried secrets are revealed.  Can she trust her new friends?  She might not have a choice…

What intrigued me about this story was that it is a re-imagining of one of the author’s other books, The Fallen Star, which I reviewed here, as part of Indie Only 2014.  And this made me curious.  The original was a YA paranormal story, whilst this re-imagining is an adult paranormal romance. I have read books where the stories remain the same but are told from a different characters viewpoint but this I had never come across.

I enjoyed this world the author created, one full of witches, vampires, monsters, demons and many other paranormal creatures beside.  And as for the characters, I thought they were well-developed and engaging.  My favourite was probably Laylen, but I thought the conflicted relationship between Gemma and Alex was gripping.  It isn’t hard to feel for Gemma as the story progresses; for her to go from feeling nothing, to feeling everything and then wondering if she will lose her emotions again is a gruelling thing to suffer.

The only problem I had with reading Shattered Promises was that I could recall too much of The Fallen Star and the stories kept conflicting in my head.  But that really doesn’t have anything to do with the book nor the author’s efforts.  After all, the books are aimed at different audiences and probably not intended to be read by both.  That being said, I did enjoy this re-imagined story, possibly more than the original.  And, if you are a fan of paranormal romance, I would recommend you give this a read or if YA is your thing, The Fallen Star.

I downloaded Shattered Promises by Jessica Sorensen for free from Smashwords.

Book Review: Focus by Sarah Doughty

Focus is the second book in the Earthen Witch series by Sarah Doughty.

When Aisling Green wakes up, she realises two things: that she has been captured by the Kramer Scholars and that her powerful, intense magic is not working like it should.  As she undergoes a bout of torture at the hands of this strange, ancient sect, she knows that she must survive so that she can find Conner and escape before they both end up dead.

To complicate matters further, not only are they being pursued by a well-connected, well-funded, almost military-style paranormal eradication group, someone has summoned a very dark, very dangerous demon.  And the only person strong enough to fight it is Aisling, with her powers of an Earthen Witch.

But, when the demon is getting stronger and stronger by the day, will they be able to find it in time before it can reach ascension.  If they can’t, a lot of people are going to die and the world will be destroyed.

Focus picks up the story line where the first book in the series, Just Breathe, finished off, and it does so seamlessly.

It was nice to see a bit of the world beyond that which we saw in Just Breathe with this instalment, illustrating that the rules that govern this Earthen Witch world are widespread.  The story is full of energy and action, and the pace quick; there is never a dull moment in these books.

As well as the supernatural creatures from the first story (vampires, werewolves, witches and fairies), we are introduced to a new one this time round, though I won’t say any more.  Suffice to say that with so many different characters and creatures, the story is always moving forward with drama and excitement.

I think that the idea that someone’s power and magic stems from love is an interesting theme that runs through this series.  And, as the relationship between Aisling and Conner intensifies, there are a few more adult scenes in this book than the first one.

A lot of pressure rests on poor Aisling’s shoulders and as she has her own personal battles to fight as well as everything else, it is easy to get caught up in the emotions she is feeling and experiencing.  However, the group she has around her – Connor, Liam, Shadow and Angela – are a great supporting cast.

I will be adding the other stories from the Earthen Witch world (including a couple of short stories as well as another novel) to be my TBR.  And I can’t wait to read them.  This series is just so addictive and so well-written.  Paranormal romance at its best 🙂

I downloaded a copy of Focus by Sarah Doughty for free from Smashwords.