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Michelle Zink

What Jia Read in March and April

What Jia Read in March and April

Wow, has it been a long time since I last put one of these lists together! And I think I promised to be better about it in my previous post too. Obviously I need to learn not to jinx myself.

The Scholomance by R. Lee Smith.
Since lots of people were talking about Smith, I decided to give one of her books a try. While I definitely agree her work isn’t for everyone, I really enjoyed my first foray into her works. It had an intensity to it that I feel has been lacking in other books, and I liked that the demons read and acted like aliens. They were pretty inhuman for the most part. After I finished this one, I remember not reading anything else for a week because everything seemed so bland by comparison. I’ll probably give Heat a try at some point later this year.

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A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink.
Such a frustrating read! It was vague on every front that mattered and there were quite a few logic fails. Full review here.

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The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens.
I have no idea what happened. I really enjoyed the first book in this trilogy and I did like the first part of this installment. But then things started getting weird and nonsensical and I wanted off the ride. I had the final book in the trilogy in my TBR pile but after reading the first chapter, I decided it was time for me to get off the bus permanently. Sad when that happens. Full review here.

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The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman.
What an odd book. There were parts of it I really enjoyed, and parts of it that I wished had been done differently. Maybe I was expecting more of a breakneck thriller pace than what I got. Full review here.

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Doubletake by Rob Thurman.
The Leandros boys never fail to cheer me up. This book covers all sorts of (awkward) family reunions. We learn why there are only male pucks (and what that means when it comes to procreation), and we finally meet Niko’s dad. There’s a development regarding the auphe that tells me we’re launching into the next thematic arc for the series. If the previous book was sort of a breather, this one is a preview of what’s to come. I’m really intrigued by what we glimpsed. (And for those readers like me who’ve missed her, Georgie makes a brief cameo.)

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The Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredericks.
A YA mystery thriller about a girl looking into the death of her former best friend. Nice interweaving of social media and outward appearances versus secret lives. Full review here.

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Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin.
So disappointing! I was so thrilled to read a book that references Edgar Allan Poe. Unfortunately the reality doesn’t live up to the promise. The heroine makes some ridiculous choices. The love triangle makes it painfully obvious who the ultimate choice will be, and of course that choice is the asshole. Honestly, it read like someone trying to be edgy but had no actual experience with the topics at hand. Review to come.

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Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris.
I enjoyed this one a lot. I’m hoping books like this one means we’re moving away from the YA dystopian trend and more towards YA thrillers. The heroine reminded me of Veronica Mars in many respects. Actually, the book itself is something like a cross between Veronica Mars, 24, and X-Files. It is a big book, I suppose, but it reads extremely fast. Loved that the insta-love romance plot here made sense to me. Review here.

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Shadows of the Moon by Zoe Marriott.
Kind of like a Cinderella story set in a fantasy world loosely based on (what I think is) Heian era Japan. The heroine, Suzume, survived the slaughter of her family, and I thought it was a pretty realistic depiction of that sort of trauma. Her mother also survived (she was away when the attack came) and eventually remarries, taking Suzume with her. But then Suzume discovers that her new stepfather is the one responsible for the murder of her family and soon embarks on a quest for revenge. I liked how the book interwove all the different guises and lives Suzume adopts for herself, and blended the original Cinderella story with the culture and Suzume’s revenge tale. Review to come.

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What about you guys? Read any of these? What did you think? What are you reading now? I’m currently reading Spirit’s Princess by Esther Friesner, which portrays the story of the Japanese shaman-queen, Himiko.

REVIEW: A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink

REVIEW: A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink

Dear Ms. Zink,

I admit it. The lovely cover is what made me stop and give your new novel a second look. I’m a sucker for pretty covers, and I thought this one was highly effective for the genre. If only I could say the same for the content.

A Temptation of Angels by Michelle ZinkHelen Cartwright is the sheltered daughter of a British family. That all changes when her mother drags her out of bed one night and tells her to flee through a secret passage. She eventually does so but not before everyone else in the household is murdered and the family estate set on fire.

Before being told to flee, Helen was given a slip of paper containing a name and address. Left with nowhere else to go, she seeks help there and meets two brothers named Darius and Griffin. She learns that she, along with the brothers, are the last descendants of angels charged with the task of protecting Earth’s past, present, and future.

Over the past few months, their fellow descendants have been hunted down and murdered until the trio are all that is left. Now it’s up to the three of them to find the people responsible and stop the murderers from seizing control of the item that can grant them dominion over the entire world.

Summarized succinctly like that, it seems like there’s a decent story to work with here. Some interesting things could have been done with this foundation. But that is not at all what I got.

First of all, these angelic descendants have got to be the stupidest guardians of the world I’ve ever had the misfortune to read about. Let’s get this straight. Members of your order are being hunted down and killed one by one. What do you do? Do you run, hide, or stay in your house and do nothing? Two of those options make reasonable sense. One does not. Guess what they chose?

Secondly, the worldbuilding follows no logic I can parse. According to the rules set forth in this world, the angelic descendants aren’t allowed to learn about their heritage until they turn 17. Why? Do they go crazy? No clue. If there was a reason, I missed it. But that’s okay — instead of giving them straightforward training and education in preparation for the momentous responsibility of watching over the world, their parents teach them “games” that are really lessons in disguise. And when I say games, I don’t mean strategic ones like chess. I mean games like walking down the same street every morning.

WTF, why? There is no reason for this. If you’re waging an epic war against demons, wouldn’t it make sense to teach your next generation properly? This is the world we’re talking about here. Shouldn’t we take this task a little more seriously? Why would you teach your successors in the most obtuse, vaguest way possible? It should have occurred to someone that if all the adults were wiped out, the kids would be in trouble due to lack of adequate training. Way to go, good guys. Way to go. No wonder you’re losing.

This doesn’t even get into the fact that this book supposedly takes place in London. Sometime. In the past. I’m the first to admit that my knowledge of historical London is not so great. I don’t pick up on details the way I know other DA folk (reviewers and readers) do. But this book had no concept of setting whatsoever. There were points in the book where I had to stop and make sure it was a historical, not a modern-day story. Maybe I’m asking for too much, but you have to give me something to work with. You can’t tell me that something takes place in historical London and expect me to believe it if there are no period clues beyond wearing a corset.

And then there’s the romantic subplot. Could it have gotten any more paint by numbers? When Helen meets the brothers, I was truly fearful. Great, she’s going to be torn between two opposites — the nice brother and the mean brother. Could this get any more predictable? But then the book surprised me (the one and only time this happened, by the way) when it revealed the mean brother’s heart lay elsewhere.

That said, this doesn’t mean I was keen on Helen hooking up with the nice brother either. I’m tired of this insta-lust in YA novels. Do teenagers fall in lust at first sight? Sure. Am I going to buy it in a book where the heroine’s parents were just murdered and her house burned down? Not so much. Priorities, people.

Unfortunately, the circumventing of Helen being torn between the brothers didn’t mean we escaped from the love triangle trope. Another prospect named Raum is soon introduced and he’s even worse. This is not just a bad boy; he’s their enemy. I would rather Helen had been torn between the brothers than this. There were moments in the novel where Helen would choose to protect Raum and I saw no reason why, especially when you take into account his involvement with her parents’ deaths. It made me think less of her. We’re supposed to believe she’s torn up over their deaths, that she wants revenge. And yet she continually protects the guy who killed them.

Perhaps the book intended to portray Helen as conflicted and torn between all her various allegiances. The story doesn’t make sense otherwise. But the execution falls flat. As a reader, I didn’t find Helen conflicted. I found her TSTL. This was made even worse because all the boys in her life — even the nice brother — were jerks, especially when it came to Helen. They all treat her like an idiot, including the one who’s supposedly in love with her. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

There could have been a good book somewhere in all this, but the major flaws with the romance and worldbuilding prevented me from seeing it. I have no idea if this is the start of a series and I couldn’t care less. Combined with bland writing, I wish I’d spent my time reading something else. D

My regards,
Jia

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