That's the sound of me flying through the pages of this book. This is going directly onto my "my own personal brand of heroin"...moreSqueeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
That's the sound of me flying through the pages of this book. This is going directly onto my "my own personal brand of heroin" shelf (previously known as my "crack" shelf, I am shaking up my illegal substances). Cause, seriously, I finished this within a day. And I was at work throughout most of it. Now I am looking like a blood drinking vampire, my eyes are so red. 'Cause I stayed up until 3am. Damn you, book, for being so addictive.
I put off reading this for several months. Because religion pisses me off. No, that's not right. The way so many religious authors shove religion down my throat in their books pisses me off. I already get enough of that from the Jahova's witnesses who insist on ringing the doorbell at 9 am every Saturday morning to ask me what I think the purpose of life is. I have not punched them in the face so far. Clearly, I ought to be canonised.
Also, I was lead to understand this was a HEALTHY young adult romance. Huh? What do I want with healthy? My hard on for dysfunctional, stalkery, rapey, unbalanced, damaged etc etc has been drummed into me for years and years and NOW you give me healthy? I wasn't sure I would like healthy. Maybe, healthy is not my thing. I haven't exactly gone for it in my real life. Much. Put me in a roomful of men and I am pretty much guaranteed to sniff out the mentals to crush on.
Also, although I must admit I have come across interesting use of angel lore (Dogma was full of awesome, the brief glimpse at Anhelikos in Lilith Saintcrow's The Devil's Right Hand was intriguing and Daughter of Smoke and Bone is great), generally angels=epic snoozefest in my head. They never interested me much. I know there's supposed to be some amazing mythology behind them and all, but they just don't seem as fun as the Greek gods, to take but one example.
Anywho, this book. This book is about Clara. Not a fan of that name, BTW. Yeah, it's appropriate seeing as it means light and bright and blah blah blah but it still sounds a bit too turn of the 19th century. I don't know anyone named Clara or anyone who has named their kid Clara. Admittedly, I am not part angel, which is what Clara is. She lives in California with her mum Meg and brother Jeff. Being an angel-blood, Clara has wings, can speak any language and is better and more adept at, well, most things than an average human, but otherwise she is your typical teenage girl. Except with a purpose. All angels have a purpose which they must fulfil on this earth and Clara's comes to her in bits and pieces in visions. She sees a boy standing with his back to her in the midst of a forest fire but the specifics of what it is she needs to do elude her.
As more details emerge, Clara determines that the forest in her visions is located in Wyoming, so the whole family relocates to Jackson Hole, which is a real place. I googled it and it is breathtaking. Just look at this:
I can totally see why Ms Hand set it there. If nothing else, she has shown that she is really smart with this book. I wouldn't like to move there, cause I'm a city girl through and through, but it looks fantabulous. The log cabin houses/mansions are also available for viewing on google (if one is into property porn).
In Jackson Hole, Clara makes some new friends, including Wendy (probably the only complete cipher in this book for me, other than she likes horses, I got nothing) and Angela, who is a sassy, clever independent goth chick and poet and meets Christian, the boy from her visions who is magnetic hotness personified (I think the word broody is mentioned, but I didn't get too much of a broody vibe from him so far, perhaps, something to look forward to in the later book) and Tucker, Wendy's twin brother. All the other reviews of this already wax lyrical about how glorious Tucker is. So I'm not going to add much other than to say that he really is, bar a minor episode where he freaks out over Clara's glowing. It is quite clever the way Ms Hand makes Clara and the readers fall for him not because he is the pre-ordained star-crossed lover who we are told and must accept is hotter than the sun or by making the relationship antagonistic to the point of abusiveness because clearly love is all about that but by showing through Tucker's actions, interests and treatment of Clara what a great guy he is and by letting the relationship develop naturally.
I thought this book was great. It was maybe a bit twee at certain moments. I am thinking of the departure for the prom, achieving glory while kissing a boy and the whole power of love thing (the italics are a bit random, just imagine Celine Dion belting out the words, you know you know the tune). But, overall, I enjoyed it. Really really really enjoyed it. The pacing was good, the writing flowed, I didn't feel like anything was being shoved down my throat at any point, the mythology was interesting, the foreshadowing well done, the love triangle wasn't annoying but most of all I loved loved loved the characters. The cast was diverse and rounded and believable and I had no trouble at all locating my inner teenager to care for and sympathise with them. A great read and I can't wait to find out what happens next. (less)
But, you know what, nice is right next to this place:
McKenzie Lewis is a shadow reader. She can track Fae by reading the shadows they leave behind when teleporting. And that makes her valuable in a war that's going on between the Court led by king Atroth and the rebels who want to replace the king with another contender for the throne. McKenzie has been reading the shadows for the king and crushing on the king's sword master Kyol Taltrayn for the last 10 years. She is convinced that the rebels are monsters who spread misery and death in their unjustified grab for power and that the Court is made up entirely of goody goodies whose only thought is for the Realm (a separate plane of existence/world which Fae inhabit) and what's best for it. Until, that is, she is kidnapped by the rebels and realisation dawns that things may not be quite so straightforwardly black and white.
This wasn't complete dullsville. I got through the pages fast enough. It was more bland than truly boring.
Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad. The writing was serviceable, no one was TSTL or made me want to scream with rage, there were no creepy rapist typesthe creepy rapist types were not made into romantic interests, the story plodded along nicely, plenty of action scenes, the world building didn't have any massive holes, sort of interesting side characters.
The love triangle was pretty annoying, though. Mainly because I could barely tell the two love interests apart they were so similar, but that's not the end of the world, usually. I think the main problem was that this just didn't stand out in any way and completely failed to stir my imagination/mind/nether regions. I just didn't care about what was happening or any of the characters. I'll probably still read the sequel but for now, the only memorable thing about this book for me is that the cover should definitely win the rear of the year award. (less)
My goodness. I whizzed through the first book within a day and couldn't wait to read the next instalment in the series. Yet I approached it w...more4.5 stars
My goodness. I whizzed through the first book within a day and couldn't wait to read the next instalment in the series. Yet I approached it with trepidation. The second book syndrome is a widely acknowledged and well studied phenomenon. Admittedly, I didn't have to trepidate that long. I finished Unearthly at like 3am, got up at 7 the next day and started reading Hallowed on the train on my way to work. I finished it within a day, at about 2 am last night. I thought I would pass out from exhaustion after the first one. But no. It's official. This book is better than caffeine at keeping me awake.
And guess what. IT WAS BETTER THAN THE FIRST ONE.
Although, I must warn you, this book is all about:
Where the first book was sweet and gentle and oh so romantic, this one was gloomy, emotional and, in some respects, gruelling. Hallowed continues with the coming of age, self-discovery, free will vs. destiny themes but it is also about death and grief and making difficult choices. I felt emotionally drained in the end and yet Ms Hand has managed to make me like all the angst.
At the start of the book Clara is blissfully in love with her boyfriend Tucker as she returns to school for the new academic year. She is worried about failing to fulfil her purpose at the end of the first book and about being found by the Black Wings but, generally, she is happy. The idyll is broken when she starts having visions again and realises that soon someone she cares deeply about will die.
Ms Hand appears to have settled into her writing very well with some wonderful flashes of humour shining through (I didn't notice those so much in the first book). Like here:
"This isn't going to become one of those creepy situations where you show up at all hours of the night to watch me sleep, is it?" he asks playfully. "Every moment I am away from you, I die a little," I say in return. "So that's yes, then."
It's like my own special form of birth control. The full body glow."
Ms Hand continues to make all the smart choices with this series and where her characters do things that appear like genre tropes, she has the grace to laugh at them, like in this little exchange which happens when Tucker catches Clara nearly falling asleep outside his window:
"Hi there," Tucker says brightly, like we're bumping into each other on the street. "Uh, hi". "Nice night for stalking," he observes. "No. I was-" "Get your butt in here, Carrots." I climb awkwardly into his room. He puts on a T-shirt and sits cross-legged on the bed, looking at me. "It's not stalking if you are happy to see me?" I suggest tremulously.
There are so many things I loved about this instalment. I loved the character development. Clara grows up so much in this. We get to know Christian a lot better and, almost despite myself, I grew to like him. Maggie is fabulous in this book. Where she was just a presence and a vehicle in many respects in the first instalment, here we learn her backstory and it is fantastic that she finally becomes a person, a complex character, rather than just a mother. I love the way she busts Clara's butt when the latter sneaks out for the night. The story arch progresses significantly and a lot of new information gradually emerges. Tucker is still the charming irresistible rogue we and Clara fell in love with. Hell, I even loved that the ending turned me inside out.
If I had any criticism, it was that the baddie continues to be somewhat less than terrifying (but I am sure we will learn a lot more about Black Wings in the next book and I will tremble in my boots), the father thing was quite predictable and I wish we saw more of Tucker. We got quite a lot of him in the last book, I know, and it was Christian's turn in the spotlight. But I am biased.
I am definitely buying the next book the minute it comes out. This is going to be a trilogy right? For some reason, I have this tendency to assume everything is a trilogy recently, mistakenly on a few occasions. I am so psyched for January but I don't think I'm worried any more. I am sure now that Cynthia Hand has enough smarts to take this story where it needs to go and make me like it, however she chooses to tie it up.