Starred Review: A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink

From Hicklebee’s: Even angels make mistakes in this page-turning epic romance

When her parents are murdered before her eyes, sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright finds herself launched into an underground London where a mysterious organization called the Dictata controls the balance of good and evil. Helen learns that she is one of three remaining angelic descendants charged with protecting the world’s past, present, and future. Unbeknownst to her, she has been trained her whole life to accept this responsibility. Now, as she finds herself torn between the angelic brothers protecting her and the devastatingly handsome childhood friend who wants to destroy her, she must prepare to be brave, to be hunted, and above all to be strong, because temptation will be hard to resist, even for an angel.

Michelle Zink masterfully weaves historical fantasy with paranormal romance to create a gripping tale of love and betrayal.

Buy now from Hicklebee’s!

This book is quite different from the series that brought Michelle Zink to my attention and kept her there. A Temptation of Angels is a fantastical start to what I hope is a wonderfully dark series.

The story begins with Helen being shoved into the wall and told not to move until she could hear no sounds of people for a very long time. Helen waited in the wall until her house burned down around her. She left through the set of hidden stairs her mother had told her about. After going through tunnels Helen came out to see a friend who helped guide her to the house in the city where she will find her true destiny.

I don’t know why Helen’s parents never told her what they were, I suppose they were trying to keep her innocent to the world as long as they could. As Helen trains to pick up her family’s mantle we learn that her father and mother did prepare her for this, just not in the ordinary way.

There are plenty of details left around the book like a trail of breadcrumbs leading you to the stunning conclusion. I loved the lore involved with the main plot and it was plain to see that Zink spent time researching and building wicked webs of friendship and deception. The side characters were fleshed out and not used to advance the plot. Holy Action, Batman! There was tons of kick ass moments where Helen and the brothers truly got to shine.

A Temptation of Angels is breathtakingly written. The boys are hot, the friends are great characters and out protagonist is torn between light and dark. Her inner struggle, her feminism, and her bad-assery make Helen one of my favorite characters this year.

If you enjoy fantasy, or have read a bunch of angel books that have sworn you off the genre- give A Temptation of Angels a go.

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Review: Devil’s Kiss by Sarwat Chadda

From Goodreads: As the youngest and only female member of the Knights Templar, Bilquis SanGreal grew up knowing she wasn’t normal. Instead of hanging out at the mall or going on dates, she spends her time training as a soldier in her order’s ancient battle against the Unholy.

Billi’s cloistered life is blasted apart when her childhood friend, Kay, returns from Jerusalem, gorgeous and with a dangerous chip on his shoulder. He’s ready to reclaim his place in Billi’s life, but she’s met someone new: amber-eyed Michael, who seems to understand her like no one else, effortlessly claiming a stake in her heart.

But the Templars are called to duty before Billi can enjoy the pleasant new twist to her life. One of the order’s ancient enemies has resurfaced, searching for a treasure that the Templars have protected for hundreds of years — a cursed mirror powerful enough to kill all of London’s firstborn. To save her city from catastrophe, Billi will have to put her heart aside and make sacrifices greater than any of the Templars could have imagined.

I bought this book as soon as it came out. It has sat on my shelf glaring at me at times, almost screaming “pull me down and read me.” Now I know why. Billi is not to be messed with and I should have read her long ago, I read her now for two reasons, first I have an ARC of Dark Goddess that I am dying to read and secondly Sarwat Chadda is coming to a town near me for a book signing. I wish I hadn’t shelved it. I would have loved to have had the painful anticipation of waiting for Dark Goddess. It doesn’t happen often to me folks but I am a full on fan of Mr. Chadda and I may have to go fangirly or do something silly like have the vapors at the event.

The book starts off in an extremely grim spot. Billi Sangreal is on her way to becoming a Templar like her father always wanted but there is one final step. The Ordeal. Holy Batman of Tests! Hers is a whopper. There is a six year old escapee who is actually a ghul running around, even though he is cute and cuddly his soul is gone, but Billi has a heart so it goes a little something like this:

He’s just a little boy…
“No, Billi!” shouted Arthur, but too late. Billi dropped to her knees and embraced Alex. She pulled him close to her heart and–
the chill seeps into her pores, saturation her skin with ice. Like venom, black ichor floods her veins, pumping her with Alexs’s despair, envy, and
HATE
that he was snatched from the sunlight by sweaty hands and crushing fingers, in the dirt and fallen leaves, never to feel the
WARMTH
he misses so much and wants more than anything, and so he sucks it from her, leaving only coldness that is brittle and bone-deep, the air out of her lungs white frost, and her
FLESH
blisters, and tears freeze on her cheeks, and she stares into Alex’s eyes, black and malice-filled, remembering only the
AGONY
that he cannot forget, and it eats him, an abysmal virus that he can’t contain, so she must
SUFFER
like he did, and the cold burns her heart as he infests her with his darkness burrowing deeper and-

So even though he is only six you can see what type of beast the Templar’s are up against and why they are still in business. There is a lot of mythology surrounding the Templar in this book but it isn’t the same hum-drum stuff. I went through a phase where I tried to read that hence me buying this book. I DNF’d a lot. I was like “Oh yeah Templar’s woohoo” but when I got it home it was all conspiracy theory, shadow government stuff. What Chadda did that was so very interesting is use an almost shadow world full of ghuls and rogue agents of God who the Templar’s protect. Billi’s mother was lost in an earlier battle, that you learn more about in the ending of the book.

I do have to say that if you find Billi a bit whiny in the beginning stick with her, she grows on your by the end. Try to place yourself in her situation, ratty apartment, despondent dad, best friend shows up after being gone a year. She doesn’t even really want to be a Templar. I think Billi evolves through-out this book and I truly enjoyed seeing this evolution of character. Sarwat Chadda is an amazing author, I loved the bits of story like the one I excerpted for you above where you see the really dark stuff, and I laughed out loud a lot too. I will say he writes like a British drama so don’t get overly attached to any of the characters.

It was also oh so refreshing to read a book where the main character wasn’t white! Billi is half Pakistani and I loved the description of her so much. You could just see her kicking some ghul ass with a sword.

If you haven’t read this book you should pick it up. Dark Goddess book two in the Billi Sangreal Series is out now!

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book from my local indie.

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Review: Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

From Goodreads: This debut, the first novel in a trilogy, is achingly romantic, terrifying, and filled with blistering action.

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers – monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell – she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie’s powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her – an assassin who has already killed her once.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie’s soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian’s most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives – including truths that may be too frightening to remember.

What can I say about Angelfire that isn’t going to sound like I am just garbling out a litany of adjectives!? If you follow my Twitter account you may know that this first half of February has been a funk of reading for me but Angelfire has been the one book I keep going back to and the only book I have finished this month so far. That in itself should say a lot.

As someone who is not religious in nature I immensely enjoyed the way Moulton employed not only Christian Bible religion but other Eastern traditions as well. I enjoyed her mythology and I thought it was very well done. I have read most of the Angel Lit (as I have dubbed it) out there and I truly only feel comfortable recommending this book and one other (Unearthly) as those you should read. This book is begging to be read!

Some of the mythology:

“Do you mean that real angels exist? The Fallen are demons, aren’t they? Does that mean that God exists? Satan too?”
He took a breath. “Yes. Lucifer rebelled against God and lost the First War, as you have probably learned at some point in your life. God banished Lucifer from Heaven, and he fell into Hell, but his war fell to Earth. The angels who joined Lucifer’s cause fell with him and became demons – the Fallen. Two of the Fallen bore horrible children, whose decedents are the creatures we know today as the demonic reapers. In desperation for more soldiers to fuel his army of the damned, Lucifer uses the reapers to collect human souls.” Pg 123 ARC

Moulton writes action scenes that are big screen worthy. The characters are well fleshed out and fabulous. Ellie is reluctant but not whiny. I had no problems with the writing, and generally nothing to to complain about at all, except maybe for the shady way her father acts but my instincts tell me that is going to play a part in books to come.

Ellie has a fantastic Mom which is something I love seeing in YA fiction, while her Dad leaves a lot to be desired, like I said I think this is going to play a part later to come. Will is a fantastic love interest but we meet a dashing young man closer to the end of the novel and I find myself wondering a lot about him.

I give it a 4.5 out of 5 only because the fantastic action scenes felt a bit repetitive at times and amnesia is a personal problem for me I want my characters all knowing and even though Moulton does a fantastic job with Ellie not remembering everything and it didn’t annoy me in the slightest, I had I’m on a boat syndrome.

Ragnuk at times seemed that he was going to utter Wizard of Oz lines his evilness was tinge over the top but I am telling you people. That is what makes Ragnuk so bad-ass. You really must read Angelfire.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in ARC form in return I gave them a fair review.

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Review: Prophecy of Sisters by Michelle Zink

An ancient prophecy divides two sisters-
One Good.
One Evil.
Who will prevail?
Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become enemies. As they discover their roles in an prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, the girls find themselves entangled in a mystery that involves a tattoo-like mark, their parents’ deaths, a boy, a book, and a lifetime of secrets.
Lia and Alice don’t know whom they can trust.
They just know they can’t trust each other.

Michelle Zink has captured my attention and added yet another series to my ever growing list. Lia is a great character and so easy to relate to that even though at times the stories mysteries were at least to me predictable chapters in advance, I was able to look past that and just enjoy the story and enjoy watching Lia’s reactions to the bumps and tumbles along the way.

I read a lot of great reviews for this book when it came out and that is one of the things that kept me from it. However I was coaxed into reading it by @CatherineHaines of On The Nightstand. I will be forever in Catherine’s debt for convincing me this book is worth the hype.

Comparable to but vastly outshining Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle Trilogy, I find my mind going back to this book and trying to decipher what will happen in book two. The writing style is perfect. Perfect timing, perfect flow. I finished the book in under five hours and am left with the feeling of wanting more.

If you haven’t read Prophecy of Sisters yet then I suggest you hop to. It was a fun and fantastically dark read and perfect for those of us waiting on spring.

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