Tag Archives: angels

Review of Angel’s Blood and Archangel’s Kiss, by Nalini Singh

I borrowed audio copies of book one and two of Nalini Singh‘s Guild Hunter series (Angel’s Blood and Archangel’s Kiss) through Hoopla and my local library.

Description through Goodreads:

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux is hired by the dangerously beautiful Archangel Raphael. But this time, it’s not a wayward vamp she has to track. It’s an archangel gone bad.

The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other—and pull her to the razor’s edge of passion. Even if the hunt doesn’t destroy her, succumbing to Raphael’s seductive touch just may. For when archangels play, mortals break.

Review:

This is a hard book to rate because though it was OK, it’s basically 10 years old and we readers demand a lot more out of our PNR now than we did 10 years ago, especially from the hero. And some of my biggest complaints about this book are things that I think authors do better about now (the publishing industry allows them to do better about). It’s a little impolite to judge a book written a decade ago by the standards of today, but my enjoyment was definitely effected by them. Hmmm….

So, the good. I liked Elena. She was a professional, good at what she did and strong without being a consistently rude (so many times authors try and write a strong woman an just write and angry bitch). I think the lore of the angels and vampires was an interesting one. All in all, I like the idea of the book and the narrator, Justine Eyre, did a fine job. 

The bad. There isn’t any romance. I saw lust between these two characters and I understood it, no problem. But they didn’t even seem to like each other, let alone love. And the power divide between the two was too gaping to be crossed, IMO. I couldn’t see that Elena could or would ever be an equal in the relationship. What’s more, the sex was the sort that’s hot, but reads as if female bodies are made of steel and have to be jackhammered into. I cringed. 

The really bad. I cannot even count how many times I have written reviews in which I point out that the single other significant female in the book, other than the main character, is the jealous woman who uses her sexuality as a weapon and tries to steal a man. This plot device is so common that (though I couldn’t have articulated it) I mimicked it in writing in my very first attempt to write a story at age 10. Of course, I didn’t understand sexuality then, but the character I wrote had all the trademarks of the angry, jealous, vixen that can’t be trusted. Can we maybe stop feeding women the idea that other women can’t be trusted? I’m SO sick of seeing this in books. 

I’ll try book two. But if it’s not an improvement on this first book, I won’t read more. I imagine by 2009 standards it was a fine book, but by those of 2019 not so much.

Description from Goodreads:

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux wakes from a year-long coma to find herself changed—an angel with wings the colors of midnight and dawn—but her fragile body needs time to heal before she can take flight. Her lover, the stunningly dangerous archangel, Raphael, is used to being in control—especially when it comes to the woman he considers his own. But Elena has never done well with authority.

They’ve barely begun to understand each other when Raphael receives an invitation to a ball from the archangel, Lijuan. To refuse would be a sign of fatal weakness, so Raphael must ready Elena for the flight to Beijing—and to the nightmare that awaits them there. Ancient and without conscience, Lijuan holds a power that lies with the dead. And she has organized the most perfect and most vicious of welcomes for Elena.

Review:

Oh look, the requisite book where the hero takes the heroine and buys her a pretty dress. The cliches just keep coming. The book also continues the evil woman trend. There are three significant females, other than the heroine and her best friend—who are of course perfect (and I wouldn’t consider the friend significant)—and they are all evil. Every one. 

The plot was pretty obvious, both what would happen and who the villain(s) would be. It was tedious. I also just plain got tired of every man Elena spoke to hitting on her, even as they told her they’d happily kill her. Between all the innuendo with the other angels and vampires and the sex with Raphael I bored quickly. 

It’s a shame. I like the idea of this series, but I’m not interested in reading anymore of it. I basically couldn’t get done with this one fast enough, so I could walk away.

Review of The Chronicle of the Three: Bloodline, by Tabitha Caplinger

I won a copy of Tabitha Caplinger‘s The Chronicle of the Three: Bloodline through Goodreads.

Description:
Zoe thought the loss of her parents would be the most difficult thing she’d ever have to endure. When she began seeing things she couldn’t explain in her new home of Torchcreek, Virginia, she was sure the grief was driving her mad. Instead Zoe discovers she is part of an ancient bloodline, one destined to defeat the powers of darkness from condemning the world. But Zoe, the daughter of the three, isn’t just another descendant–she’s the key to humanity’s salvation.

In this first installment of the Christian fantasy trilogy The Chronicle of the Three, Zoe Andrews learns that not all shadows are harmless interceptions of light. Some are a more sinister darkness that wants to torment the soul.

Review:
Mechanically, this was fine except for a couple repetitions (I swear a dozen single tears rolled down cheeks and you’d think people who woke up with the sun in their eyes EVERY MORNING would buy some curtains). But the story was rushed and didn’t progress smoothly. Plus, it was full of cliches—the chosen one, the prophecied one, the heroine who is never told of her specialness, the deus ex mechina powers and skills, etc, etc, etc.

Add all that to the fact that it turns out to be Christian fantasy. I didn’t know this when I picked the book up and wasn’t thrilled with the discovery. (Though if I’d read the author’s bio I would have guessed it.) Not only because I’m not a fan of Christian fiction, but also because I didn’t think it was well integrated into the plot. Sure, there were angels and demons, but the use of the mythology doesn’t equal evangelicalism. All the encounters with God and talking about faith does, or rather it did here, and it felt very shoehorned into the story.

All in all, not absolutely horrible. But I’m not particularly interested in continuing the series.

Review of The Vintner’s Luck, by Elizabeth Knox

The Vintner's LuckI purchased a physical copy of The vintner’s Luck, by Elizabeth Knox.

Description from Goodreads:
One summer night in 1808, Sobran Jodeau sets out to drown his love sorrows in his family’s vineyard when he stumbles on an angel. Once he gets over his shock, Sobran decides that Xas, the male angel, is his guardian sent to counsel him on everything from marriage to wine production. But Xas turns out to be a far more mysterious character. Compelling and erotic, The Vintner’s Luck explores a decidedly unorthodox love story as Sobran eventually comes to love and be loved by both Xas and the young Countess de Valday, his friend and employer at the neighboring chateau. 

Review:
I have a confession to make. I have a secret soft spot for trashy novels. You know the sort—shallow, not particularly thought provoking, usually cheesy enough to make me snort-laugh—the literary equivalent of late night, B-grade sci-fi. The problem with such books is that they so often overlap with books I would call trash—poorly written, weakly plotted, the cheese isn’t purposeful or snort inducing. Lately, a disappointing percentage of my reading has fallen into that latter category and I decided I needed, NEEDED something with some substance. This book came highly recommended and boy did it fill the bill.

It isn’t a book you just fall into. It’s choppy, whole years sometimes covered in a page or one single event representing an entire year, as the narrative flies through Sobran’s WHOLE life. (But I have to add that the prose is stunningly beautiful.) It’s often confusing. It’s sad. It has a dubiously happy ending. But it’s also heart-felt and evocative. I teared up more than once. While I didn’t love the book until about 2/3 of the way through, by the end it had me wholly wrapped around itself.

I’ll admit that the narrative style made the characters feel distant and the large gaps in time that the characters spent apart made it difficult for me to feel their love, but I never doubted it. It just took on a form I had to think deeper to grasp. And I don’t just mean the love between Xas and Sobran. There are several types of love shown between different characters in the book, though often subtly and unremarked upon. Also, because so many chapters are presented as mere vignettes, I often was left scratching my head at the significance of certain events.

Most unusual of all, I rather enjoyed the religious aspects of the book. Xas’ relationship to/with God and Lucifer, as well as his purpose between them was intriguing. I never felt preached at, as I don’t think anyone ever preached.

All in all, I needed the ‘See, I can read smart books too’ reboot and had the added bonus of truly enjoying the read. I’m well up for more of Knox’s writing in the future.

For an alternative view, from someone who didn’t like the book but whose points I can completely take and largely agree on, check out this review. Isn’t interesting how two readers can agree on not liking certain aspects of a book, but still come away with different final verdicts.