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Unearthly #1


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In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees...
Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

435 pages, Hardcover

First published January 4, 2011

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About the author

Cynthia Hand

20 books9,514 followers
Cynthia Hand is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for teens, including the UNEARTHLY trilogy, THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE, MY LADY JANE, MY PLAIN JANE, MY CALAMITY JANE, MY CONTRARY MARY, and MY IMAGINARY MARY (with fellow authors Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows), THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE, THE HOW AND THE WHY, WITH YOU ALL THE WAY, and the upcoming TIMELESS and MY SALTY MARY (also with Ashton and Meadows). Before turning to writing for young adults, she studied literary fiction and earned both an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. in fiction writing. She currently resides in Boise, Idaho, with her husband, two cats, one crazy dog, two kids, and mountain of books.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,906 reviews
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,386 reviews11.8k followers
November 5, 2011
Honestly, after reading at least one of the following books - Hush, Hush, Halo, Fallen - do you really believe there is a good paranormal YA romance about angels out there? A book about proms, love triangles, hawt boys, that doesn't make you want to hurl? No? Neither did I before reading Unearthly.

I was very much impressed by this novel. I was cautious and not trusting of positive reviews of it, and it ended up exceeding my expectations. The book never even once made me roll my eyes - something that I always expect to do when I open any teen romance. It is not driven by the main character's stupidity, like many paranormal romances are. It is not focused on some girl's obsession over a guy who treats her like crap. It is pretty much a breath of fresh air.

Clara is an angel-blood (1/4th angel, 3/4th human). She just received her purpose - a task that all angel-bloods have to fulfill in their lives. This purpose has something to do with a boy Clara sees in her visions and she thinks it is her duty to save his life. She moves closer to him, tries to get to know him and has a bit of a crush on him. Only it seems her purpose in regards to Christian is not quite clear and neither are her feelings towards him.

Apparently, it is possible to write a paranormal romance which employs all standard elements of the genre, and make something good out of it. Cynthia Hand proves with this novel that you can write a teen girl with supernatural abilities and not make her a complete Mary Sue. That there can be a romance between a supernatural and a human, and neither is obsessed with another and ready to die of despair if they break up. That nobody in the relationship has to be a stalker or a doormat. That teens can fall in love with each other not because one of them is inhumanly hawt or sparkly, but because, you know, they spend time together and TALK first.

The story is well paced and never gets boring. The mystery of Clara's purpose is sufficiently mysterious and creates a nice tension. The romantic story line is sweet and, oh my, HEALTHY! Can you believe it?

The angel mythology unfolds at a good pace as well. Whenever you write something about angels, there is always this question of God, how to place him in the story. Hand does a great job of not mucking the concept of angel by making angels in her novel some sexy beasts who are allowed to do whatever and still remain angels. And God's place in the story is also carefully written, avoiding being preachy (for non-believers) or blasphemous (for those who believe).

Unearthly might not be one of the books that I recommend to anyone who would listen (like I do with Lips Touch: Three Times or Melina Marchetta's novels) and that I am in awe of. But I can guarantee you will at least not want to bang this book against the wall. It is not morally reprehensible, misguided or poorly written. As far as teen paranormal romance fluff goes, Unearthly belongs in the top tier IMO. I am even impressed enough to read the sequel, many plot lines remain open and I am curious!
Profile Image for Steph Sinclair.
461 reviews11.1k followers
November 5, 2011

It's been a few months since I finished this book and I'm still swooning. You shall be read again soon my precioussssss...

Actual rating: Teetering on 4.5 stars

Hush, Hush, who? Halo, what? Fallen, huh?

After reading the catastrophe Hush, Hush, I had pretty much given up on reading any more books involving angels. As far as I was concerned it would be my first and last angel book. I resisted the urge (mostly thanks to my dear Goodreads friend's reviews) to pick up Halo and Fallen, even though they still remain on my TBR shelf. At first glance I thought, "435 pages?! This means 435 pages of misery or 435 pages of awesomeness." Needless to say, I was not very optimistic about this book, demoting it all the way to the bottom of the library book pile. But, I decided to give it a chance. And I can honestly say I'm glad I did. Unearthly will make you forget all about those sad, pathetic excuses for a book about angels. Unearthly is the real deal.


Unearthly tells the story of a 16 year-old girl, Clara, who is 1/4 part angel-blood. The book opens with her discovering her purpose in life. It appears she is destined to save a young boy from a forest fire. So, together with her mother and brother, Jeffery, they pack up their house and home and move from California to Wyoming.

At first glance, you think you have this book figured out. You're thinking, "Ok, I know what's going to happen. She is going to save this dude and they are going to fall in love, yada, yada, yada." And just when you're feeling really clever for single-handedly predicting the outcome of the book, Cynthia Hand shatters your preconceptions. I love a good plot twist and this book exceeded my expectations.

A few things I LOVED about Unearthly:

1. No disappearing parent syndrome. Clara's mother was very much apart of her life. Albeit mysteriously, she is always there to help Clara with succeeding in fulfilling her purpose.

2. Likeable heroine. Not once did I feel irritated at Clara for doing something dumb. She isn't overly whinny or a pathetic damsel.

3. Healthy relationships. You will not find insta-love in this book! No, sir! In fact, I would say Hand may have written one of the best developing relationships I've read in a long time. She let it build up perfectly. By the time our heroine actually falls in love it is believable. As a result, it is much easier to feel Clara's emotions. I could feel myself swooning! Clara isn't overly dependent on her love interest, either. She learns to draw on her own inner strength. Kudoos to Hand for handeling this very well.

If there is one complaint I have, it't that I didn't really like how it ended. It felt akward to me, like it was imcomplete. There are so many unanswered question left in the ending that it almost drove me insane! And to top it off, the next book doesn't come out till next freakin' year!



In conclusion, it pains me to think this book will be compared to Halo, Fallen and Hush, Hush. It's in a higher and better league then them, hands down. So, I've decided to do my own little comparison through a visual story. Enjoy!

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved life. Everything was wonderful!


Untill one fatefull day she picked up


and it left her in a state of


After finishing CoFA, she sank further into depression. The girl felt no one could understand the mental pain she felt.


Then, one day she came accross Unearthly and she saw the heavens open with rays of light.


The girl was once again happy.


The end!

Ironicly, if you google "Angel saving human" this pops up as an image:


Coincidence? I'll leave that up to you.

My Hallowed review can be found here.

More reviews and more at Cuddlebuggery Book Blog.

Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,543 reviews33.9k followers
March 14, 2011
4.5 out of 5 stars Finally, a well-written angel series! Clara's physical appearance, the wings, the flying, the "glory"--make angels sound impossibly beautiful. The descriptions are so well done that you can really picture and feel what it would like to be in the presence of one. The supernatural aspects are well-balanced by a solid grounding in Clara's day to day life as a teenager with excellent descriptions of school projects, relationships with her friends and her brother, and especially her conflicted relationship with her extraordinary mother.

The characters are well-developed and there's terrific courtship that is blessedly normal and crazy appealing. I appreciate the unusual choice to wait until much later in the book to get things really started on the dating front, as you've already gotten to know Clara pretty well by this point *and* it's in the right context of her life. Important and fulfilling for sure, but not the be-all and end-all of her life, as so often happens in YA books. Once it comes, however, it's very sweet and very convincing.

I did find the beginning of the book a little disjointed, and there were a few sections that could have used smoother transitions, but overall it's really terrific. It's easy to understand Clara's conflict and it's easy to like Clara, who has unearthly perfections but who is also just trying to find her way in life. An excellent start to a what should be an excellent series.

This review also appears in The Midnight Garden.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,944 reviews292k followers
March 30, 2012

I always feel a little bad when I disagree with the majority about a book, like there must be something I'm missing or I obviously didn't 'get' it. I do understand why a lot of people enjoyed Unearthly and there were parts I liked too... but I still wasn't blown away. As far as young adult stories about angels go, this is probably one of the best - only, that's not really saying much. I found the book okay in many ways, I don't have a huge rant to make about girls who are obsessed with boys over everything else, or just plain annoying... but the most dominant emotion I felt through a lot of this novel was boredom.

It seems that my expectations are always going to be ripped apart and tossed aside. If I'd opened this book expecting to hate it, I'd probably have written a 5-star dazzling review. As it happens, I was hyped up on all the rave reviews, even from some of my hardest-to-please friends and I kept reading on and on and waiting for the plot or characters to grab me so I'd think "yes, I definitely see why everyone loves this!" but it never happened that way. It starts with a mysterious vision that sounded potentially very interesting, which then leads our protagonist (Clara) and her family to Wyoming in order to follow the call of her angelic purpose (she's part angel). From there the story simply seems to spiral off into another high school drama. Clara's angelic purpose all centres around the hottest and most popular boy in school and she then, of course, becomes immediate enemies with his equally gorgeous and popular girlfriend. Then we get to an array of proms, boy troubles, class projects and finally the realisation that maybe mr popular-angelic-purpose is not the one Clara truly wants to be with.

It was all fine, I just never got a sense of "wow" or any particular need to stalk Amazon until Hallowed comes out. I wanted very much to like it, I don't know if my expectations were too high but I obviously missed what makes this book so special. That's why I'd still recommend this book to anyone who loves a bit of young adult paranormalness (not a word??) because I'm fairly sure that the problem was my own. Everyone I've talked to loved this book and I'm not entirely sure why I just couldn't get into it. The characters were varied and interesting, there were some parts I found quite funny, it just... I don't know. The best thing I can tell you in this review is to read it for yourself.

Profile Image for  ⊱Sonja•●❤️.
2,070 reviews387 followers
March 2, 2022
Clara ist 16 und lebt mit ihrer Mutter und ihrem Bruder in Kalifornien. Das Besondere an ihrer Familie ist, dass Claras Mutter ein Halbengel ist. So fließt auch durch Claras Adern Engelblut. Jeder Engel hat eine Aufgabe zu erfüllen, und Claras Aufgabe zeigt sich in ihren Visionen und führt die Familie nach Wyoming.

* Meine Meinung *
Das Buch ist durchaus interessant und lässt sich auch leicht und flüssig lesen. Der Schreibstil ist sehr einfach und unkompliziert.
Es macht Spaß, Clara auf ihrem Weg zu begleiten und ihre Gefühle und Gedanken mitzuverfolgen. Sie ist ein sympathisches Mädchen, das gerade ihre Erste Liebe erlebt.
Richtig spannend und etwas temporeicher wird die Geschichte erst zum Schluss. Bis dahin plätschert sie so dahin. Zum Zwischendurchlesen ist das Buch bestens geeignet. Ich hatte auf jeden Fall ein paar schöne Lesestunden mit dem Roman.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,161 followers
August 4, 2012
Rating: 2.5 Stars

I just want to let you all know that while I'm writing this, I am also building a fort. Yes, a fort to protect me from all the boulders and bombs that will most likely be thrown my way for highly disliking this novel. It doesn't matter that my fort is made of pillows or that it contains highly flammable books inside it - the point is, I have a fort. Thus, I hope you won't attack me since...well...I have a fort!

Part 1: In Which I "Get It"

I get it. I seriously do. I get why there is so much hype surrounding this novel. I get why you all love it. I really do. Unearthly released during a time when angel novels such as Hush, Hush, Hades, and Fallen were making waves - not all good - in the book community. Thus, in comparison with those novels, Unearthly is truly a masterpiece. But, in my opinion, it's a masterpiece in the same way that Twilight is a masterpiece when compared to Fifty Shades of Grey or Beautiful Disaster. It's much better than the norm, but it isn't that good at the same time.

More about that later - back to why I "get it." First and foremost, Unearthly provides a new and unique take on angel lore. Not only is it a story that doesn't feature a teenage girl falling in love with a fallen angel, it is also a story that doesn't feature insta-love or a true love triangle. Yippee! Clara, the protagonist of our story, is one-fourth of an angel herself. In Hand's novel, angels are given a divine purpose in life that they must fulfill. As they grow into teenagers, they begin to get glimpses or visions of their purpose and must accordingly go about completing them. Thus, when Clara is given a vision of saving a handsome teenage boy from a fire, she and her family take off from California to Wyoming where she meets Christian, the boy of her dreams (literally!).

Now, let me discuss the reasons why this novel really is quite good. First and foremost, I loved Clara's relationship with her mother, who is a half-angel. While I found it to be a little too perfect at some points, it was still nice to see her mother be such an active part of her life. Furthermore, I found that Clara's apprehensions about moving, her difficulty fitting into the social scheme at her new school, and her confusion over whether or not she is meant to get closer to Christian all handled quite realistically. In addition to Christian though, we have Tucker Avery - the annoying twin brother of Clara's best friend, Wendy. Tucker and Clara's relationship took a forefront in the second-half of the novel and I enjoyed how it was never rushed and it grew through conversation and the two spending time with each other.

So, really, there's a lot to love about this book: (1) Original/Unique/New take on angel lore (2) No Missing Parent Syndrome (3) Quite realistic emotions (4) One heart-warming romance that grows through conversation. So, you might ask, what went wrong?

Part 2: In Which I Don't Fall for the Hype

You see, despite having some excellent and interesting points, Unearthly was actually a massive disappointment. I believe that this is primarily due to the order in which I read my angel books --> (1) Hush, Hush (2) Daughter of Smoke and Bone (3) Angelfall (4) Shadows (5) Unearthly <-- Do you see a problem here? No? Well, let me tell you. I read this novel after reading Angelfall and Daughter of Smoke and Bone, two of the best angel novels written. Thus, I didn't have massively low expectations for my next angel novel. Combined with the glowing ratings and hype surrounding this story, I was really expecting something great. I feel as if whenever I go into a story expecting to hate it, I love it, and whenever I go into a novel expecting to love it, I usually hate it. I had a similar experience with this one.

While Unearthly had an original premises which I found fascinating, it was extremely boring for more than half the story. It was like any other contemporary romance with Clara attending high school, fainting when she saw Mr. I-am-SO-hot-Christian, and attempting to get closer to him because she felt a romantic spark between them. Yeah, nothing unique there, huh? I liked how Clara began to learn more about her angel abilities with her angel-blood friend, Angela, but either than that, everything about this story was so typical.

Speaking of Clara, her character simply grated on me. I think this might simply be an issue of personal preference, but Clara was perfect. As in, she is an angel therefore she is literally perfect. Clara was beautiful. Clara had gorgeous hair. Clara could do any sport effortlessly. Clara could charm any guy she wanted. Clara could speak any language she wanted. Clara could do this perfectly. Clara could do that perfectly. Clara was a freaking perfect angel! I get it - I know she's an angel - but it was so silly. Why did Clara need to be perfect? I love flawed characters and while Clara was flawed in the sense that she did rebel against the laws of her angelic society and she found some things hard, for the most part, I was just annoyed with her. Furthermore, I couldn’t connect with her in the least. Clara, you have a problem? Well, guess what? Us, humans? We always have problems, so suck it up! It seems harsh, but I was extremely irritated by this quality of hers. I think it became less problematic as the novel progressed, but it was glaringly obvious – and casted Clara into a petulant light actually – for the first half of the story.

Once the half-way mark of this novel was passed, it began to pick up a little. I liked how Clara refused to be one of those girls who chased after a guy and her developing relationship with Tucker was sweet. I loved Tucker Avery - he is everything you want a guy to be. In fact, I found him to be a little too perfect actually which annoyed me ever-so-slightly. If you liked Zeke from The Immortal Rules, you'll probably adore Tucker. Yet, while I hated Zeke, I did manage to like Tucker, despite his perfection. While I found his reaction to Clara's angel background and his acceptance of certain actions they were forced to take during their relationship very unrealistic and too convenient, it was still bearable. Yet, I was rolling my eyes the moment the word love popped into the picture. Yes, Clara and Tucker did like each other, but love? Puh-lease, give me a break! Furthermore, Clara still felt drawn to Christian which was simply irritating. I know she chose one of the guys, but it felt as if the plot still had love-triangle potential, which made me want to run away screaming.

While Tucker is a complete gentleman, Christian is a total jerk. Yes, I mean it, a JERK. While he did perform a rather inexcusable act on the night of prom, it was even worse before that night when he refused to be seen in Clara's presence around his friends. I hate guys like that and Christian, no matter how HOT he may have been, was no exception. Furthermore, I found the fact that Clara was so obsessed him to be rather startling and boring. I didn’t care about Christian. I didn’t understand how dating Christian was going to help her solve her purpose. I didn’t even understand why her mother was being such a stickler about her dating anyone but Christian. Somehow, I never felt the seriousness of this whole purpose. Yes, I got that it was Clara’s fate or destiny, but that actual sense of urgency that should have sent my heart rate up and made me sit on the edge of my seat with panic and worry? Uh…yeah, that was missing. Majorly.

While Unearthly began to wind down, we had an extra sub-plot of a fallen angel thrown in. Notice the key word: sub-plot. As in, not the main focus. In fact, it was so miniscule that I’m confused as to what role it even played in the plot of this story. In addition, the ending of this novel was nowhere near as shocking as other readers had extolled. It was not such a major plot twist and I, for one, was unimpressed by it. If anything, I’m annoyed with the ending of Unearthly. It leaves a lot of loose threads hanging, makes the reader question what exactly even happened during those last thirty-five pages of action, and wonder whether picking up the sequel is even worth it. Yes, that’s right. 35/435 Pages of this novel were action. What were the other 400 Pages devoted to? High School. Prom. Romance. Flying. Teen Angst. Jerks. Just your usual, run-of-the-mill, dramatic teenage novel.

In conclusion, while there is a lot to love about this book, its execution falls flat. Its characters are way too perfect, its romance is both convenient and not love even though it claims it is, the action its premises promises is miniscule, it throws in random sub-plots that only serve to make the reader confused and need to pick up the sequel in annoyance, and the few characters who are not perfect are simply annoying, irritating, or serve no purpose to the story. I like the idea of Unearthly and I like its writing and even the outline of its characters, but when you dig deeper and really analyze this novel, it’s nothing much but a standard Young Adult Paranormal Romance paraded around under a cover of hype, false originality, and very little true action to compensate for its flaws.

Now, the million dollar question is... will I read the sequel? I think… no. While it probably will be a quick read, much like Unearthly was for me, I don't think I'm up for another dose of this world. I simply don't care for the characters enough and while some readers claim the sequel is better, most lowered their ratings ever-so-slightly, which means I will probably wind up giving Hallowed One Star. I think I'd rather just avoid writing that snarky review, thank you very much. Would I recommend Unearthly? If you haven’t read Angelfall or Daughter of Smoke and Bone then yes, I would. For you, it’ll be a unique and utterly compelling read. I, however, was disappointed and extremely unimpressed by this one. With that, I am off to hide under my impenetrable fort - let the boulder-throwing begin!

You can read this review and more on my blog, Ivy Book Bindings.
Profile Image for P .
687 reviews319 followers
February 4, 2017
“I'm looking at you. Why are you always trying to hide how pretty you are?”

I've been thinking about my rating of this book for two hours, and it's precariously between 1 and 2 stars since the moment I finished it. I know you're wanting to beat the crap out of me right now for giving this book just two stars. How dare I ? Please, just let me explain, and if you're not satisfied with the answers after that, you can slap my face as hard as you want. I'll let you.

“Hey, Carrots," he says.”

Unearthly is not an awful book by all means. The book starts off with a great premise and a strong lead famale character. Although I didn't like Clara, for her voice being flat and quite boring when she tries to narrate her own story in each chapter. She's just rambling and going on and on with her routine, which I didn't want to know. I wanted to tell her to shut the f*ck up and rearrange her thought when her story started spinning out of its way.

“I think he seriously believes that deflowering an angel could mean an eternity in fiery hell.”

The setting of Unearthly is weak, in my opinion, and I didn't blame the author for this. I blamed myself because I couldn't get into the story and the world-building that was easily to fall in love with. I just couldn't feel that connection to the characters and the story through this book. I'm so sorry. Still I don't know about this world where angels exist and the fine line between Black and White. I nodded and nodded through the book, but I didn't even know how it could be like that.

The first 80% should have been substituted with the last few chapters of this book. The whole story is wrapped up after excruciate pain I have endured, it kept pushing me away from liking the book wholeheartedly. The harder I tried, the more it kicked me in my butt.

This was my expectation before I read Unearthly

And this is what I get from it

I keep wondering I read the same book that everyone liked so much and why I felt absolutely nothing for the ending that were supposed to be mind-blowing and another cliffhanger of my life. Now I'm unsure whether I should read the next one or not for what pains me seriously in this book, I think I can't do it again.

“So often we only do what we think is expected of us, when we are capable of so much more.”

Tucker is my ship, and I think I chose right, didn't I ? Lol. Christian felt weird for me, his feeling towards Clara wasn't exploding and sounded strange even when the truth of his was revealed. I was shocked as much as Kristen Stewart when she found out Edward was a vampire.

Profile Image for Jennifer Armentrout.
Author 124 books113k followers
August 18, 2011

Sigh. I like Tucker and his cowboy hat. Having images of Kevin Bacon in his Footloose days for some reason while reading this.
Profile Image for Navessa.
Author 10 books7,468 followers
October 3, 2015
I did a bad thing. I ruined breakfast. The waffle and the sausage may never forgive me.

For those of you who are wondering "What the fuck? Has she finally lost it?" the answer is 'no'. You see, I was supposed to buddy read this with Rose and Ellis in October but after reading a book that left me questioning my faith in humanity I decided to pick this up and just skim the first chapter, you know, "Just the tip, just for a second, just to see how it feels". We all know how that goes. Eight hours later it was two a.m. and I'd finished it.

So ladies, I'm sorry. I've been wanting to tell you for a week but as I'm a coward I waited until the day I'm leaving for vacation so I wouldn't have to deal with any potential fallout.

Profile Image for Penny.
215 reviews1,359 followers
February 24, 2011
When I saw that one of my favorite goodreaders, Tatiana, gave this book four stars I thought she'd gone insane. I mean, it's a YA book featuring angels for crying out loud! Surely it can't be good let alone worthy of four whole stars from Tatiana, so clearly she lost her mind. But I purchased the audiobook anyway because it was January 13th and I was anxiously awaiting the release of Shadowfever which was still five days away at the time. Plus it didn't hurt that this audiobook was reasonably priced.

Initially I was a little irritated with Unearthly. It starts out with a dream/vision that the main character has--is it just me or do too many of these books start out the exact same way? But I kept with it because I paid for it, dangit! Fortunately it didn't take too long for my initial irritation to wear off--I'd say no longer then the first few chapters.

For the next several chapters I didn't have much of an opinion. Not that the book was bad, because it wasn't. The writing was fine, good even, but I refused to make an official judgment call. Too many times I've fallen in love with a book only, in the end, to hate it more than poison. I wasn't going to get burned. Nope. Not me. Not again.

Now all is said and done I'm going to go ahead and say Tatiana isn't crazy. This book is good. In fact I'm going to go ahead and give this book four stars because I really like it. Though, in my heart, it will always be a five-star read because it's one of few YA paranormal romances that doesn't make me want to go on a stabbing spree. Also? Unearthly is the only published YA novel featuring angels that doesn't make me want to hunt down the author so I can punch him/her in the face repeatedly.

I know the last few sentences make me seem violent beyond all reason, but believe me I have plenty of reason. Just read every other YA paranormal romance featuring angels and you'll agree. And anyway, when I say 'stabbing spree' I really mean 'write a scathing review and/or weep for all the trees destroyed in order to publish such atrocities'. And when I say: 'hunt down the author so I can punch him/her in the face'? ...well, I actually mean that*.

Moving on...

Seeing as most publishers have been saturating the market with badly written, ill-plotted out, basically retarded series about some supernatural something falling in love--twuuuuu wuvvvvv--with a vapid human I'd begun to believe there was no such thing as a good, or even great, YA paranormal romance. Especially when angels are involved. But Cynthia Hand changed my mind with her debut novel, Unearthly.

It's funny, but Unearthly doesn't contain some magical new concept or some amazing innovative plot twist that will make your head explode. It's just good. That's it. Turns out Cynthia Hand's "secret" is actually no secret at all. She employs the method of showing her audience, not telling. That's right, Cynthia Hand doesn't assume her audience is mentally-challenged. Also? Her main character, Clara Gardener, doesn't have the mental capacity of a boy-crazed, unmedicated ADHD 'tween hopped up on pixie stix. She's normal. And by normal I mean Clara's just a regular, well-adjusted, non-angry, non-emo, non-cutting teen. Although, yeah, she has angel blood pumping through her veins, but she's incredibly easy to relate to nonetheless.

What I love: Clara doesn't do what every other protagonist in this genre does: inform you she's super intelligent "'cuz she likes calculus-n-stuff", only to prove otherwise as she dithers about like a blind slack-jawed yokel the duration of the novel. She's better than that. Also? She has a healthy yet realistic relationship with her mother. They actually talk to each other and are, for the most part, honest with one another. It's quite refreshing actually.

Clara isn't the the world's only, most speshul angel-blood evuh. She's actually one of many, though at first she doesn't know of any others beside her mother and her younger brother. She also isn't super good at everything she does. Clara doesn't have every boy falling for her, at least no more then your average teenage girl. And like all teenagers she manages to make a fool of herself every once in a while. Like I said: refreshing.

What I really love (skip this if you plan on reading this book as it is sort of spoiler-y, albeit hardly):

What I don't necessarily care for: This book contains a love triangle. Sort of. I mean it's hardly even present. And the protagonist isn't playing both guys for all they're worth. And there isn't any cheating going on, not even in Clara's heart. BUT it's still a love triangle of sorts and I'm afraid it might end badly for all involved because of various reasons I won't go into here.

That said, even if over the course of this series the triangle does play out the way I don't want it to, I think I'll be okay. Clara has free will and I am confident she will take the time to think things through rationally. She can choose between one or the other regardless of the consequences (good and/or bad). In fact she pretty much makes her decision in this book.

So yeah, I recommend Unearthly.

*Disclaimer: I would never actually hunt down and assault any author. No matter how much they deserve it (Smeyer, James Frey, LAUREN KATE, Becca Fitzpatrick... I could go on). There are times in which I am sorely tempted to but I wouldn't. I'm passionate about literature but NOT insane.
Profile Image for Vinaya.
185 reviews2,076 followers
November 6, 2011
Is this a revolutionary, earth-shattering book that will change the face of YA fantasy? No. Is this a book that will forever change the way people look at angels? No. Is this a riveting, un-put-downable read that will make it to the top of the bestseller lists? No. Should people read this book? Absolutely. Now, I know you're thinking I'm bonkers, but let me tell you why 'Unearthly', despite it's girl-next-door appearance, should be winning Miss America.

But before I begin, may I just say how strongly I feel that whoever wrote the blurb for this book ought to be fired. And when s/he's walking out of the building, throw a ten-ton stone from the twelfth floor on his/her head. Seriously. Read this blurb.

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

Now, if you're like me, and have read too many terrible YA PNRs to count, this blurb pretty much represents your worst nightmare. It's got all the ingredients necessary for a horrible cliched story that reminds you of every other story of this sort you have ever read. Love triangle, check. Boy of your dreams (literally!), check. Small town school with dark mysterious beings in the woods, check. And so on. So you read the blurb, and you shudder at the prospect of reading this book, and you move on (like I did). Then someone whose taste you trust writes a review and says, this is a fabulous book, you should read it. And you read it, and like it, and then you get to the point I started out from, which is, the death of the blurb-writer.

Unearthly is a book that is absolutely worth reading. When I first started it, I was like, why are people recommending this book to me?! There were prophetic dreams of hot boys and now Clara (what a horrible name, btw) was moving across the country to get to said hot boy. Obviously she was going to meet him, and he was going to fall for her super-specialness, that he managed to divine by glancing at her boobs and she was going to fall for his pretty face, since fate had decreed it so. Welcome to the Twilight Zone (pun intended). But I was SO wrong. Cynthia Hand twists her story very, very cleverly. SO much so that you're feeling all smug and superior for more than half of the book because all your expectations of shitty YA fantasy have come true. And then, halfway through, all your expectations are shattered and you're no longer reading about some stereotypical names-on-a-page, They have actually become real people with real problems, and everyday emotions.

So Clara ends up falling not for some guy she's only seen in her dreams, but for an actual person with whom she has spent time, someone with flaws, someone who gets her, and whom she gets. And more importantly, once they have fallen in love, it is not all smooth sailing. It's not like "Oh, you're angel, that's great, I have no issues with the fact that you start going out with me without giving me some pertinent details about your life." Because, you know, real people aren't really like that. If you lie to them, they get angry, and they want you to go away. (Becca Fitzpatrick, take note!)

I also like that all the other female characters in this book aren't bitchy wanna-bes who pale in comparison to the heroine. Even Dream Boy's bitchy-seeming girlfriend has a core of humanity; Clara's best friend is not some milk-and-water miss but a dark girl with bite and an actual personality. Clara's mom is a little annoying, but Hand does a good job with making her convincingly secretive. Clara has a believable love-hate relationship with her brother.

There are a lot of open-ended plotlines in the book that I am looking forward to exploring in the next book. I actually like Clara and Christian and Tucker, none of whom are too good to be true, and I'm looking forward to seeing what their story is going to be. Unearthly does a great job stirring up interest for the series, and it is a relief to read about teens with healthy relationships who can be counted on to behave like normal people. Glory be !

Profile Image for Lyndsey.
126 reviews3,124 followers
January 3, 2012
So... I was wired on Christmas Stocking candy while writing this. I'll warn you once. Only read the underlined parts:

Unearthly's all about earth stuff. Just Kidding. It's not. Just Kidding. It is. Just Kidding. It's not... It's about UN-earth stuff. Like angels. Just Kidding. It's about devils. Just Kidding. I'm evil like a devil. Just Kidding. I am evil like a G6. Just kidding. I'm actually fly like a G6. Just Kidding. I don't even know what a G6 is. Just Kidding. Of course, I do. It's a cybernetic butterfly. Just Kidding. But wouldn't a cybernetic butterfly be cool? Just Kidding. This book was about cybernetic butterflies. Just Kidding. This book tells the story of Ellie Monroe, I mean, Clary Fray, I mean GARGAMELLLL. Just Kidding. It's about Clara Gardner. And if you don't already know that you must be living under a rock. Just Kidding. Why would be living under a rock? Unless you are a worm. Just Kidding. I know a worm. Just Kidding. No really, I do. Just Kidding. There are no worms in this book but Clara Gardner is part angel! There's also a really hot guy named Tucker. Maybe he knows where to find some worms. Just Kidding. Not really because... He's a cowboy. Cowboys should know something about worms. Just Kidding. There's another really hot guy named Christian, and Clara has a strange connection to him. They're actually Siamese twins. Just Kidding. They're not. Just Kidding. They are. Just Kidding. No really, they are. Just Kidding. I know: I'm evil. Not really. But there is an EVIL angel after Clara. Just Kidding. Angels can't be evil. Just Kidding. Yes, angels can definitely be evil. Exactly like this review. Just Kidding. You should read Unearthly because I said so. Just Kidding. But really... You should read this book. Do you really need more reasons than two hot guys and ANGEL vs EVIL ANGEL? Well, too bad. Just Kidding. No really. That's all I got.

Just Kidding.

No seriously.
Profile Image for Mizuki.
2,928 reviews1,167 followers
January 26, 2023
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand, is one of the most cliched, over-ranted YA books I'd ever read. No kidding.

There're a lot of five stars reviews for Unearthly, first book of Miss Hand's paranormal series about...surprise, surprise: angels and angel-bloods. (hybrid between humans and angels/Nephilim) There are also handful of famous YA novelists e.g. Richelle Mead and Melissa Marr giving their recommendations, that sounds promising isn't it? Even the cover artwork looks kind of good! But Unearthly had turned out to be so plain, so uneventful and so very...boring that left me utterly underwhelmed after I finished reading it.

I want to like this book, trust me I really do. Miss Hand's writing is quite good, I also like how she described the Northern American countryside scenery, but the plot, characters, romance and angel mythology she had created are so very flat and poorly constructed that I'm very disappointed.

Clara is our heroine and the whole book is narrated with her fist-person POV without any break, which means we get to hear her thoughts and see things through her eyes ALWAYS but oh boy, Clara's voice is so uninteresting, she barely shows curiosity about her part-angel's blondline and the supernatural abilities it entailed. All-in-all, she barely has any thought about what it means to be an angel-blood and her 'purpose'. Miss Hand simply tells us Clara's mother told her she is an angel-blood and there's a 'purpose' she needs to fulfill and that's it. Clara just sucks it up with hardly any second thought and question, she never pauses and digests the idea of being an angel-blood and what it really means. Maybe it's just me, but I found a heroine so lacking in curiosity, who is so readily accepting her identity as a part-angel to be very uninteresting and unrealistic.

There're a handful of YA novels about angels/part-angels/fallen angels, but so far hardly any of them manage to make the concept of angels look so boring like Unearthly does. I found the way which Miss Hand handled and reveled the concept of angels in her book to be counter-productive, stripping almost all of the aspects that makes angels interesting/mysterious/otherworldly/special. So the angel-bloods have wings, they are beautiful to look at and can do things better than the humble little humans, but so what? I can't see them as being deserved the title of 'angel' at all! Simply put, Miss Hand offers us nothing new nor unique about angels.

(A special thank to Jun Bisque, who made this jpg for me!)

Instead Clara's thoughts and concern are filled mostly by school-related affairs, hanging out with schoolmates and about boys. Therefore I found myself reading a book mostly about the overused 'new girl in a new school and how she gets around things AND ALSO how she gets two hot boys interested in her' trapping, with barely any supernatural happening in sight, although a supernatural YA novel was what I thought I'd signed up for when I picked up Unearthly in the library.

Miss Hand also offered me hardly anything to root for Clara, after reading a book of 435 pages I still know so little about her as a character. I only know Clara is kind and she has a sense of duty, she likes ballet and she is good at EVERYTHING she does because she is an angel-blood, she is beautiful AGAIN because she is an angel-blood even though she has no self-confidence about her own appearance and has to be told she's perfect by a boy who adored the ground she steps on. *sighs* I'm surprised that no one had pointed out how big a Mary Sue she is.

Okay, maybe Clara isn't as bad as some other Mary Sues in other YA novels about angels, e.g. Luce Price from the Fallen series and Nora Grey from the Hush, Hush series. But oh goodness, I wish Miss Hand can write a heroine who has more personality and likable quality than Clara nonetheless.

As to the Love Interests, I found Love Interest no.1 Christian to be an understandable character, he's being painted as The Picture-Perfect Prince Charming but I at least can see the likable qualities in him and why people like him. On the other hand, I found Clara's romance with Love Interest no. 2 Tucker to be a forced and unconvincing one. At the beginning Tucker is being a jerk to Clara and guess what? He's being a jerk and calling her names because he is secretly in love with her!!! God help me! Is that guy an 8 years old or something? Later Miss Hand seems to try damage-control the Tucker-thing by painting him as the nice, attractive, thoughtful guy but oh boy, the damage is already done.

Again the whole Clara-and-Tucker's-romance is filled with a lot of "Tell, Not Show"; the author seems to want making the romance a slowly developed affair instead of some foolish love-at-first-sight thingy. Although I can accept Clara slowly learns to love Tucker but oh my goodness, I don't enjoy being told all of a sudden, Tucker is Clara's ONE TRUE LOVE and stuff. It's too sudden, too unconvincing.

Clara's mother plays an important part in the story because she's supposed to be Clara's loving mother and the one who enlightens her daughter about her angel-blood's legacy, but oh boy this woman had done such a poor job on it! She refuses to tell her daughter anything of importance--so Clara, a newbie angel-blood isn't supposed to learn there're women-raping evil fallen angels/The Black Wings out there, and has to be informed about this fact by her fellow part-angel friend!? What kind of mother is that?

As to the evil Black Wings in question, we only see a single one of them in Unearthly. But oh goodness, the existence of the Black Wings is only barely mentioned in the book and there's no foreshadowing of the threat. And when a Black Wing actually shows up at the ending part, he looks like a plot-device which Miss Hand called up in the last minute for the sake of creating threat and tension other than a worthy, well-built villain. What a let down!

I had mentioned that Miss Hand's writing is good, but sadly her tone is flat, lacking in suspense and tension. Most of the book reads like a diary of an ordinary *human* teenage girl going about her daily life instead of revealing a tale about a part-angel young girl who is coming to term with her true identity and trying to fulfill an important, matter-of-life-and-death mission for the sake of Greater Good. Nope.

Still, I'm going to read the sequel, so I'll have to wish myself good luck.

Review for book 2: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Lora.
186 reviews988 followers
June 28, 2011
Clara Gardner is a Quartarious angel-blood. This means that one quarter of her blood is that of an angel's. This gives her wings that she's not yet learned how to use and abilities that are still developing. Lately strange visions of a mysterious boy and fire have been plaguing her, and that's just one aspect in the myriad of things she's yet to understand about her place on this earth. Believing that these visions are tied to her "purpose"---the one thing all angel-bloods are charged with accomplishing while on this earth---she goes in search of this unknown boy with her family and this leads her to Teton County, Wyoming, the place where she believes she'll find her charge and fulfill her purpose.

I'd have to say that one of my favorite things about Unearthly is its writing. For being a debut author, Ms. Hand sure knows her craft. Normally authors get better with time and experience, but Ms. Hand writes as if she's been doing it for years. Despite the fact that Unearthly is over four hundred pages, I managed to read it effortlessly within the span of forty-eight hours (Need I mention that I'm not a very fast reader?); I'd say that Unearthly's intriguing plot and witty dialogue had something to do with this.

But the writing isn't the only thing Unearthly has going for it. The characters are very smart, funny, and likable, as well. I'm very particular when it comes to female characters, but Clara may very well end up being one of my favorites of the year. I know that may seem overkill since this is only January, but, as I said, the heroines of the novels I read are usually the most unsatisfactory and least intriguing aspect for me. Fortunately, that was not the case with Unearthly: Clara is smart, sarcastic, and confident; yet, because of the weight that is on her shoulders, she has a certain level of insecurity that I found quite endearing. It's safe to say that I was very impressed with her character. Her only flaw was her almost instantaneous attraction to Christian. While I do understand that he's supposed to be the one she has to save, I didn't understand why this means that she's destined to be with him.

Which brings me to one of my only problems with this novel: Christian. I realize that he is needed for the love triangle, but the boy is completely flat. In my opinion, he has no real character or personality whatsoever. And it's not until over two hundred and fifty pages into the novel that his character has to leave and go to New York for the summer. I have to say that this fact had me jumping up and down (metaphorically). Because this fact made way for Tucker, a character who you only get to see a few glimpses of until this point in the novel. And it also gives Clara a chance to really see Tucker for whom he really is: the boy she's been overlooking this whole time. There's a specific passage that I'd like to share with you where Clara realizes this:

"What do you see in a guy like Christian Prescott?" he asked me that night when he dropped me off from prom. And what he was really saying then, what would have come through loud and clear if I hadn't been so blind was, Why don't you see me?"

This quote is one of my favorites because, well, for obvious reasons: it marks the start of when things really start to get series between Clara and Tucker.

Another thing that I really liked about this novel is that the romance aspect isn't rushed like in most YA novels you read today. Clara and Tucker actually spend time getting to know one another before declaring their feelings for each other. I was very glad to see this because quite frankly I'm beginning to feel a little jaded with all of the instant love declarations being writen in YA literature today.

As I said before, I loved Clara's character, but I believe that Tucker was my favorite. He's got the perfect mix of wit and boyish charm to make any girl swoon. And I also loved the fact that in this novel it's the girl who has the supernatural qualities. This book reminds you that it doesn't take special abilites or brooding to make a male character intriguing. Tucker's just himself and I loved him for that.

Well, I could go on and on about my feelings for this novel, but my suggestion for you is to stop reading this and go buy Unearthly and read it if you haven't already. Because, in the plethora of angel themed YA novels being published, Unearthly not only stands out but it ranks at the top.
Profile Image for Elle.
34 reviews847 followers
July 1, 2011

I feel it only fair to warn you guys that I am involved in a one-sided fictional relationship with Cynthia Hand. In which we spend our evenings sipping martinis and laughing hysterically at the craptasticness of all the recent angel novels, while Jericho Barrons kneels at my side sporting a Galactica flight suit and feeding me chocolate-dipped cherries.

(Apparently, my fantasies have a knack for getting out of control at times. Just roll with it).

Anyhoodle, Unearthly is a delicious cheese-filled Happy Meal remaining afloat in a sea of unwashed goat carcasses, (Fallen, Hush, Hush... the list is long), and it is for this reason that the general GoodReads population (myself included) is praising its very existence.

Sure, there are far better YA novels. But what makes it unique is the WTF curve-ball she hurls at you at the end.

Oh ya’ess she did.

Having said that, give me a month or two and I will probably forget it was ever written. And I will choose a new author with whom to share my fangirl daydreams.

...and Cynthia Hand can get back to drinking the blood of virgins from the hoof of a Pterodactyl. Or whatever the hell she does to keep ahead of her game.
Profile Image for Brigid ✩.
581 reviews1,818 followers
July 21, 2012
This review is also featured on Tasty Books!

A typical conversation I have with my friends/family:

Me (Reading something): UGH I HATE THIS SHIT SO MUCH.
Friend/Family member: Then why don't you stop reading it?
Me: Because ... what if it spontaneously becomes awesome or something? I know, it never really happens, but WHAT IF.

And it's true. It hardly happens. It's very rare that I start off hating a book, and then end up really liking it. I can only think of a handful of times it has happened. ... Well, Unearthly was one of those rare books.

I did not really expect to like this book. I probably wouldn't have picked it up, except I couldn't find much at the library that I wanted to read––plus, I had seen some glowing reviews of it. So I said to myself, Ah what the heck. It's summer. I can stand to read something fluffy, even if it isn't that good.

When I opened this book, I quickly realized it was a book about angels. And that made me nervous. Most YA books I've read about angels have been train wrecks––Hush, Hush, Fallen, Halo ... You get the idea. Not only that, but the front page had a blurb from Alexandra Adornetto herself.

So I'm like:

Oh God, what have I gotten myself into this time?

And as I started this book, I strongly disliked it. The beginning was very rough for me, which is part of why I knocked off a star. It really felt like the beginning to every other paranormal romance out there:

- Protagonist (Clara) is supernatural––part angel, to be specific.
- She has a prophetic dream about a hawt guy in a burning forest. Oh noez! She decides it is her destiny to save him (because the idea is that every angel has a special "purpose" that they have to carry out).
- Clara and her family totally abandon their home and move to where this hawt guy (Christian) is, so that Clara can save him when the time comes. (Clara figured out where he lived based on the license plate on a car she sees in the recurring vision of him.)

So, seems like a really clichéd and predictable beginning. I'm like, Oh boy. Now I guess Clara is going to start stalking Christian and obsessing over him (and/or vice versa). And then she'll save him from a fire, and they're going to fall in insta-love and be making out with each other every five seconds. And I'll be like:

Not to mention, Clara was a total pain in the ass for the first fourth of the book or so. I mean, she was just such an asshole. See my first few statuses, and you can see how I felt about her. She spent a lot of time talking about how she was naturally beautiful due to her angel blood––and then she kept criticizing other girls' looks. For example:

"They seem friendly enough. Definitely not pretty people, all wearing T-shirts and jeans, braids and ponytails, not a lot of makeup. But nice. Normal."

At first I felt like:

I really did not like her. I thought she was another Mary-Sue-ish bitchface.

Yet, somehow about halfway through this book I found myself like this:

So, now you're probably wondering why I liked this book so much. And, well, I'm still trying to put my thoughts together and explain.

Basically––yes, this book has the setup of pretty much every other paranormal romance out there. But instead of making it crappy and predictable, Cynthia Hand actually made it work. Not only that, but the book actually had twists I did not expect at all.


You're probably thinking:

But, it's true. Here, lemme explain why this book was actually pretty great.

Clara is not a whiney, boy-obsessed idiot.

She may have started off annoying, but by the end of the book I respected Clara. I'm still not crazy about her, but she had some admirable traits. As I said, I expected her to become entirely infatuated with Christian, and talk and think about nothing but him, and cry over him constantly, etc. But no! Clara actually spent time with friends like a normal teenager––instead of spending all her time stalking a boy (or being stalked by a boy). And her friends were not just cardboard dummies, either. (Well, Wendy kind of was. But Angela ... I loved Angela. She was supa cool.)

But what was most important was, Clara realized that she had to fulfill her "purpose" no matter what, and that was her main focus. She realized that, even if Christian did not like her in a romantic way, it was still her duty to save his ass from that fire––and she was going to do it, dammit. And she didn't just sit around waiting for it to happen, either. She actually practiced her flying, practiced lifting heavy duffel bags (because she knew she'd have to lift Christian out of the fire and all). So, go Clara! Woohoo!

The romance was actually well-developed.

WARNING, this is a minor spoiler. So if you don't want any spoilers at all, maybe you should skip this section.

Anyway, believe it or not, Clara did not actually fall in love with Christian. WHUUUUT. Nope, none of that insta-love, soul-mate crap. She fell in love with Tucker––a guy who she actually got to know and developed feelings for over an extended period of time. *GASP!*

I mean, she did still seem interested in Christian. And I imagine she'll get to know him better and he may end up being a conflict ... But still, I liked that she didn't totally lust after him, and when he asked her out she didn't dump Tucker or anything stupid like that. So, YES. THANK YOU, CYNTHIA HAND. This is paranormal romance done correctly!

Clara's mom is a frickin' badass.

You're probably like ... lolwut?

But seriously, when was the last time you saw a really awesome mom in a YA book? A lot of YA books suffer from "Disappearing Parent Syndrome" in which the parents are painfully absent or clueless during the whole story. Either that, or the parents are really awful and constantly arguing with their angsty teen child.

And sure, Clara and her mom have some arguments. But over all, they have more of a Gilmore Girls-esque relationship. (Clara even said so herself.) And that was something refreshing. As a teenage girl who thinks my mom is awesome, it was nice to read a book in which the mother and daughter were actually friends––and in which the mom actually played a significant role in both her daughter's life and in the story. GO CLARA'S MOM.

The ending blew my mind.

Once I started getting to the end of this book, I had no idea how Ms. Hand was going to finish it. There was a lot leading up to this forest fire incident, so I feared there was going to be some really predictable and/or anti-climatic ending.

But no. Clara ended up having to make a really tough decision between what she wanted for herself, and what her greater purpose was. Like, my stomach actually hurt a bit when I tried to imagine myself in her place. It was like, DAMN CLARA, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

And then suddenly, this HUGE plot twist came out of nowhere. I mean, I did not see it coming AT ALL. Normally I hate really big plot twists like that, but in this case ... I actually really liked it. I thought it added quite a bit of intrigue to the story, and I'm eager to see what happens with it in the next book.

So, yeah. This book was a pretty crazy journey for me. I started off loathing it, yet by the end I was like:

I really can't wait to read Hallowed.
Profile Image for SHOMPA.
323 reviews116 followers
July 3, 2021
I have been keeping an eye on this series for a long time. As soon as I started the first book in this series, I found myself completely lost in the story. In my opinion, it's a brilliantly written book with the mind-blowing concept which was so engaging that I finished the whole book in 1 night. Now I'm quite excited to devour the next book.
Profile Image for Krystle.
881 reviews337 followers
December 29, 2010
I've been burned so many times by angel books; Hush, Hush, Fallen, Angelfire, and what have you, so I was quite set to hate this book. I thought, "let's just give it a chapter" and then what do you know. That one chapter turned into five and then ten and all of a sudden I just could not stop reading. I *had* to know what happened next and my god the amount of times I screamed at the book for the girl to HOOK UP WITH THE GUY was so mind boggling. I could not put this book down. It had an uber strong addictive enchantment over me that couldn't be broken.

If you were looking for some quality book with angels in it, I think you might have just found it.

I can't tell you how much I loved this book. Clara is awesome. She already knows she's part angel in this book so there's no slow burn of her finding out her deep dark origins which would normally already be obvious from the beginning. Yes, it's explained how she actually found out because, you know, having a back story is always important. I love that while she's blessed with good looks, an ability to do things just right, and what have you she's not perfect. She has to learn how to use her growing powers and *develop* in to them. And this is not an overnight fix either. She has to work for it throughout the book. And surprising as it may be, she's not entirely perfect. And she's not a walking angst-fest either. Confused, cautious, and perhaps distant for her own good, yes, but not a sullen I-want-to-slap-you-so-hard because you won't wake up type of girl.

The romance. My goodness. I can't tell you how much I was so emotionally invested in it. I have never cheered so hard for a romantic pairing in my life. I was literally raving the whole time with "What are you doing? Go with HIM! HIMMMMMMMM!!!!" And when you read the premise for this book it TOTALLY leads you in the wrong direction and I am so glad it went the way it did in the book. He's a sweet, down to earth guy, and he called her "carrots"! If you don't love him after that whole Gilbert Blythe-vibe there is something wrong! The love triangle was kind of... different to say the least. It's not something you're expecting and it's not this swinging back and forth deal. The whole romance was DEFINITELY one-sided and you like both guys but well, the other guy is just much better. Sorry. Haha.

I love how her friends were portrayed. They weren't just props for the main girl. They both had their own sort of subplot going on and I loved to see that they weren't just goodie cardboard cutouts that supported Clara in everything or were just there to force her to hook up with some guy. They all had independent goals that they strove for and weren't stupid dunderheads that served no purpose than to provide comic relief. All of her friends had life and contributed something to the pages. There was one moment when I wanted to smack one of them for giving her poor advice but I don't care, it ended the way I wanted it to anyway.

Unearthly is fabulous. There's lots of tension, a real plot that carries throughout the book, an AWESOME romance that isn't overly done, and has you CRAVING, just CRAVVVVVVVVING for the sequel. I have to get me a finished copy of this book.

In a word? AWESOME. Get this book now.
Profile Image for Kristi.
1,188 reviews2,892 followers
January 3, 2011
I read this book back in October.... and I've been dying for it to be released to other people could bask in it's fabulousness!! I have to say that in the midst of all the 'angel' themed book hitting the YA market right now. This one is my favorite! (of the ones I've read so far....)

Let's talk about how wonderful this book is, shall we?

I was so glad that Clara knew she was angel. This isn't a story of a girl discovering an she's part angel... even though I initially thought it was because the synopsis I read said "When Clara Gardner leans she's part angel...." at least the one above says she "recently learned"... but I think both of them are a little misleading. Yes, she's recently discovered she's an angel, but I think the novel is about much more than that. I mean you could totally take out the angel part and it could easily be a novel about a girl choosing between her heart and her duty. Except the angel aspect makes it so much more awesome!

Hand's writing is so very easy to read, it seemed like I had just turned a few pages, when actually I was a few hundred pages in. And if her descriptions of Wyoming do not make you want to pack a bag and jet-set to this beautiful area, I think you might be a little bit crazy.

Clara is a character you are going to like. Despite her angel-i-ness she is very much a normal teen girl. Insecure, smart.... she underestimates herself, but I think that is what made me like her. She's the type of character that you'd want to be friends with. And the boys. I can' fail to mention the boys. Totally DID NOT see some of that coming, I don't really want to give to much away... but whew. Watching the relationships develop between Clara and Tucker and Christian was probably my favorite part of the novel, especially the slow, sweet relationship between Tucker and Clara. Awwww. I probably shouldn't have said that! These boys couldn't be more different..... and I'm very interested to see how it's going to play out with all the developments at the end.

Speaking of developments at the end.... there are quite a few. There is some resolution, but we also get an open can of worms.... a big can. There is definitely more to this angel business than what Clara is privy to, and I'm interested in finding out what exactly it is.

Unearthly is a perfect blend of realism with a supernatural twist, not to mention a unpredictable plot line and a beautiful love story. Everything that I want in a story and more. Can't wait to be captivated by the rest of this series.
Profile Image for Andrea Cremer.
Author 32 books6,623 followers
January 13, 2011
Lovely, original, engaging. The last 50 pages had my heart racing!
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,363 followers
October 4, 2011
Lovely!! I really, really enjoyed this. It's a YA novel, but somehow it felt very different. For once, it wasn't just about the paranormal aspect, or the exciting new world the protagonist is thrown in. It was about finding oneself. Trying to fit in. Finding love. Life (with wings!)!! Everything I was hoping for while going into this.

Clara is part angel, and she has just received a hint of what her purpose on earth is. After finding out the location, they pack up and move there. It's quite a big change for Clara and her brother: California to the middle of nowhere, hick town. I loved the setting of this book. I loved the scenery descriptions. The country appeal. I'm a country girl myself - not as hardcore (I don't ride horses or fish) but it still had the small town charm that I grew up in. Everyone is in everyone's business knows everyone else, it's sweet!

The whole time I was reading I was completely into the story. I never once pondered where we were going with this and what the point of it all was. It just had a great flow that you could just breeze through the story and enjoy every minute of it. The plot of soft and sweet. It's not tedious, it's not a hit in the face, it builds up gently and manages to suck you in completely. You get a chance to care for the characters, for their lives and their relationships.

As for the characters. I adored them. Especially the way they were all present. They all had a purpose in the story and they all had distinct voices and personalities. I love when an author manages to do that. What really stood out for me was the fact that her mother was very present and motherly - which is often overlooked in YA. Likewise, her brother was also how I imagine having a brother would be like. Sometimes a pain in the butt, sometimes an accomplice. I imagine we haven't heard the end of him as well. But the protagonist - Clara - she's great! Finally a girl who does not see a guy and immediately yearns for him as though she can't live another second without him. Those often lack way too much chemistry. The romance in Unearthly was totally and completely sweet! It did NOT go at all in the direction I was sure Hand was going to go make it go in. It really took me by surprise that she took a much different route from other YA novels. I truly enjoyed how it all transpired.

The highlight of this book is definitely the character development with just a bit of world build up. The angel picture I have in my mind is absolutely stunning. I loved all the details we were given and how beautiful it all seems. as for the plot - there wasn't any big plot developments, but it's coming. I'm happy she didn't go all "Whoo apocalypse" right away. I love getting to know and care for the characters before the big story materializes. It builds up realism as well as charisma.

This novel was pure flowing beauty!
392 reviews333 followers
May 30, 2011
Edit: This is how I imagine Tucker http://irresistiblereads.blogspot.com...

Favourite Quote: "He seems to gaze right into me, like he's seeing me for who I truly am. And in that moment, I want to tell him the truth. Crazy, I know. Stupid. Wrong. I try to take a step back, but my foot slips and I almost go headfirst into the river but he catches me."

Wow! Surprisingly I loved it! I have been having a bad run with angel books lately. But this is exactly what I have been looking for. Unearthly has an original plot, interesting characters, swoon worthy crush and overall is a pleasure to read.

Cynthia Hand's writing was just easy to read. Before I knew it I had read 300 pages. The plot wasn't filled with action but rather mystery. Never did venture down the predictable path.

This is probably the most interesting angel concept I have read. There was a little bit of good angel vs fallen angel but for a change it didn't have anything to do with the love interests. The vision and purpose element is what made this so different. Sometimes with angel concepts the history can be complex and hard to understand but this was effortless to follow.

Now to my favourite part of this book, the characters and that is what drives this story. Clara is sweet, sometimes funny, believable and made smart choices. Tucker (~swoons~, sorry but every time he is mentioned that happens) is a crush worthy male character. A true gentleman, witty, gorgeous, and a cowboy (~swoons again~ sorry I am in lurve again). I adored the playful banter aka flirting between Clara and Tucker (~swoons~), it provided plenty of awwww moments. Christian, well he was okay. At first I thought I knew his type - typical, popular, gorgeous, nice guy that every girl is crushing on but in the end was more than I expected.

I know that I have just mentioned two guys so therefore it equals love triangle but do not fear. This love triangle was subtle (although I do think that it might be brewing for the next book). Clara is pretty certain of her choice and doesn't go back and forth.

The ending, no cliffhanger here, yay! There are a few questions but it ends in the right place for more but still leaving readers satisfied.

Overall, I highly recommend this book, it had all the right elements. An outstanding debut.

Thanks to Netgalley and HarperTeen for providing me with a copy. I have already pre-ordered my own copy.

Profile Image for Trina (Between Chapters).
853 reviews3,765 followers
September 18, 2018
Maybe it was because I had low expectations, or because I don't read this genre very often, or maybe I just like angel books, but I kind of loved this?? It stumbles a few times (love interest perpetuates the idea that "if a boy is mean to you that means he actually likes you!" and there's some slut shaming) but I want to continue the series.

Things that may sway whether you would like this or not:
-Love triangle.
-Lots of Twilight vibes. No watching people sleep, but it's a new kid in school is a paranormal being mysteriously drawn to a human kind of story - but we're following the paranormal character in this case.

Potential triggers: Very brief, non-detailed mention of rape. Slur toward Romani people. Forest fire.
Profile Image for Jeanne .
303 reviews
July 6, 2015
4.5 stars!

I am really surprised by how much I loved this one. I was even prepared to round up to 5 stars, but then I saw that my friends who have read it loved the subsequent books even more, so I decided to leave room for improvement! I read and loved a book by Cynthia Hand a couple of weeks ago, and had many friends tell me that I had to try this series, and I'm so glad I did. I desperately needed a genre switch, and this turned out to be such a fun read.

"What do you see in a guy like Christian Prescott.?" He asked me that night when he dropped me off from Prom. And what he was really saying then, what would have come through loud and clear if I hadn't been so blind was why don't you see me?"

Oh, the angst of a teen love triangle! I really click with this author, I feel like she is one of those gifted writers who can really engage you in her characters, and I loved the Wyoming backdrop. Can't wait to find out what happens next.

Thanks for reading the series with me Fran! :)
Profile Image for Clara.
132 reviews171 followers
March 10, 2017
** 3,5 "VERY CUTE" stars ! **

Finally finished this first book that I had been wanting to read for a long time, and this was such a fun, easy and cute read, though a bit weak on the paranormal aspect !

The world building :
I thought the angel mythology in this book was quite interesting and intriguing, but unfortunately it wasn’t as well developed and as original as I was hoping it would be and compared to some other books about angels I read in the past (namely the Sweet trilogy or the Penryn and the end of days trilogy), it was a bit weak. Overall, I thought the story didn’t focus enough on the paranormal aspect of the book, it just felt like a background for the plot and I was never really awed or fascinated by it.

The plot :
I think the plot, with the world building, was what was lacking the most for me with this first instalment. Basically, except at the very end, there was actually nothing much happening in the book, no action at all, no twists (except at the very end), no villains, nothing. It came to the point that it felt more like reading a YA Contemporary Romance than a YA Paranormal Romance. The plot was basically Clara trying to understand her purpose through getting closer to Christian and then spending time with Tucker. The romance was definitely dominant in this first book and was the main focus of the story, which normally I wouldn’t mind because I love romance in books, but I like it better when it’s mixed equally with a strong paranormal or fantasy world and plot, which wasn’t really the case here. I wish the plot had been thicker and more complex with a lot more action scenes, and the romance only secondary.

The characters :
Clara (we’re named the same ! ^^) was a very likable, sweet and funny MC. It was quite easy to relate to her, being the new one in a new school, having to make friends and going through your first love. She might have annoyed me just a tiny bit in the first part with how insistent she was to get closer to Christian and how attracted to him she was when he obviously had a girlfriend he deeply cared about. I thought she was being a bit selfish and inconsiderate at that time, but after a while she finally came to her senses and then she was such a fun girl who I couldn’t help but like.
Christian was not my favorite character. I liked him okay I guess, but he didn’t really have anything special going on for him and he never made me swoon over him. Also, I didn’t really liked his behavior at the beginning towards Clara . I thought he was a bit plain and described as too perfect for my liking.
I’m definitely rooting for Tucker here ! He was such a sweet, smart and resourceful guy. And a real cowboy, on top of that ! How sexy is that ! I liked how easygoing he was, very friendly and caring, but not in a too perfect and forced way like Christian.
I liked Wendy alright, though I wish she had been a bit more present in the story. However, I disliked Angela who I definitely don't trust, there's just something strange about her that annoys me, I thought she was overconfident, too intrusive and such a know-it-all.

The romance :
So, there’s kind of a love triangle, though it’s not so strong yet in this first one. But I’m definitely team Tucker ! I loved how his relationship with Clara was slow-building, how they didn’t like each other much at first, but they came to know each other better through spending a lot of time together and sharing a lot of activities. It’s exactly the kind of romance I like ! They were so cute together, they made me swoon with how much they adored each other. Unfortunately, I can feel with the ending that the love triangle is going to get stronger and more complicated and I’m not sure how to feel about that.

On other thing that I absolutely loved about the book was the setting, Wyoming. I loved we get both a winter setting and a summer setting, with the skiing, the hiking, the cowboys, the ranches, the lakes, the forests full of lodge pole pines. It felt like I was there and I really enjoyed the atmosphere that came out of it.

Overall, I really liked the first book because of its characters and the romance, but the paranormal aspect of the story and the plot were altogether a bit weak and needed more development.
Profile Image for Komal Mikaelson.
50 reviews325 followers
May 21, 2013
Initial Reaction After Completion

This reaction is due to that what-the-fuck ending

This was a fun, enjoyable read. Among the disastrous Angel PNR novels out there, this one is much better.
And I liked it. No scratch that. I really, really liked it.
There are, undoubtedly, better books out there, but so are worse. I will confess, I won't remember the plot or the characters verbatim in the days to come, because it just wasn't that good. And I'm definitely not going to reread it.

But it was entertaining and was fun while it lasted.

What I Loved


An ANGEL protagonist that isn't grating on the nerves. Yep, I'm surprised too. She was..cool. There is just no other way to describe it. Made good decisions, loyal to her friends, compassionate towards her brother, that is, as compassionate as siblings can be. She wasn't your cliched damsel in distress or a whiny bitch. All in all, a likable heroine.


Oh, man. Why aren't more YA boyfriends like him? AWESOME SAUCE!
Understanding, unassuming, patient, chivalrous, caring, adorable, selfless and so real. I miss guys like him.
I am head over heels for that boy!

British History Class

The classes were incredibly awesome.
Gosh, I loved them.
The teacher was damn fun and creative, who on earth wouldn't develop interest in history? These classes were a reliable source of carefree, teasing and light moments throughout the book.

"As a serf, poor Christian has already been killed several times in our class. Aside from dying of the Black Plague on the first day, he's starved to death, had his hands cut off for stealing a loaf of bread, and been run down by his master's horse just for kicks. He's like Christian the fifth now."

The Plot

Confession time: I had already made my mind how this would play out.
Clara would fall for Christian, insta-love, angst-y love triangle and yada yada.
And the author threw it right at my face. I'm not going to reveal much, but that is SO NOT what happens. Well, um. love triangle part is correct but..you'll see.

The Normal, Relatable, Real Relationships

No insta-love.
No unprecedented popularity at school.
No absent-parent syndrome.
No every-guy-in-the-entire-school-asking-the-new-girl-out routine.
No unhealthy obsession with the boyfriend.

Now, coming to the other side of the coin.

What I Disliked

The Ending
Are you kidding me? How could the book end there?
Abrupt. Hasty. Very strong 'what-the-fuck' vibes.
So many unanswered queries, unexplained situations.
Oh, and the cliffhanger wasn't the how-could-you-end-there-I-want-more type, rather the Dude-would-you-explain-what-the-fuck-happened-back-there type.

The Beginning

Very slow.
Patience wearing thin slow.
Almost about to DNF slow.
I judge the book by the starting. If it is tedious, how on earth am I gonna go through the entire book? And this came mighty close to being dumped to the DNF shelf.
It felt hackneyed. That reduces major Brownie points, because the book has potential. As the story progressed, pace increases and plot improves drastically, save some situations which felt xeroxed from Twilight. And that is never a good thing, is it?


Cliched, Mr. Popular with killer looks and not-so-charming attitude.
His character wasn't developed properly. He was at best, an annoying background presence in the book. But seeing as how Clara moved to Wyoming to fulfill her destiny centered around the guy, he wasn't there enough to be a main character in the story.


Nothing much to say about this. There weren't many, but as it is, they irritated the hell outta me. Just:

So, that is about it.
If you have lost interest in Angel PNR and crave a light, fun read, this is for you, go grab it!
Now, excuse me, I'm gonna go and devour Hallowed.

This was a read-along with Cecile, who to put it mildly, did not like it. Go, read her review here

Profile Image for Sandy.
291 reviews187 followers
May 13, 2018
Finally...an angel story we paranormal fans can get behind. Today's angel stories are riddled with weak heroines, obsessive "love interests", and shoddy mythology (Fallen and Halo, anyone?). With its strong characters, swoon-worthy guys, and unique angel lore, Unearthly is now my gold-star standard for angel books.

I grew up on a ranch near where this story takes place, so reading Unearthly felt like coming home. Cynthia Hand creates a vivid setting and characters that spoke to me. She perfectly captures the western charm of Wyoming and Idaho (Tucker, anyone?) and I couldn't put this stunning debut down.

Unearthly really shines in its characterization. Cynthia creates a strong, likeable heroine through Clara's voice and actions. Instead of being the well-worn whimpering heroine who needs everyone to save her, Clara is smart and resourceful, yet relatable and believable. Too many authors try to make their heroine appear strong by making her cold or distant or unfeminine, but Clara is warm and kind and isn't afraid to wear a dress. She faces challenges and struggles but doesn't let them overcome her. (None of that "I'm going to DIIIIIIIE" because of boy troubles for our heroine.) From Clara's friends to her mom, Cynthia Hand creates engaging, believable characters that I care about.

Tucker. You had me from "Carrots." It was Anne and Gilbert all over again, and I loved it. Cynthia weaves some delicious romantic tension between Clara and Tucker that had me coming back chapter after chapter (I may or may not have let my kids play at the park for hours so I could stay on my bench and keep reading). Instead of the ridiculous "I loved you because I saw you from across the hall" that's way too prevalent in today's young adult books, Cynthia lets the attraction simmer and build, with a lot of "pulling the hair" antics and teasing along the way that had me smiling. It felt real and believable, and I LOVED IT.

Unearthly is an enchanting tale oozing with unputdownable qualities. It delivers on the promises made by that gorgeous cover with its believable, likeable characters; intriguing mythology that reveals just enough to be satisfying but holds back some answers for a sequel; and one of the most team-deserving guys to grace the pages of young adult literature in a long time.

I am seriously clamoring for a sequel.
February 15, 2016

This book has been on my to-read list for a while now and I was on the fence whether I wanted to read it or not. I decided to give it a try even though I wasn't really sure if I'd want to read another angel book because most of them are kind of predictable. Since I needed a book to read and this had been one of the first on my want to read shelves, I decided to give it a try. Unearthly was unlike the other angel books I've read and it was very good and a worthy read.

Unearthly is about a 16 year old girl named Clara who with her brother and mother have to move to Washington after learning her purpose in life. Being 1/4 angel, Clara has a purpose which is to save an unknown guy (Christian) from a forest fire.

At first I predicted everything that was going to happen.

As I kept reading, though, things changed, which I hadn't predicted. I was kind of bummed that I was wrong but what Cynthia Hand wrote definitely made up for it. There were excellent plot twists and characters that went above and beyond my standards or what I thought was going to happen.

There were many things I loved about this book. Here are a few:
~I loved Clara. She was a strong heroine and didn't need guys to save her. She never whined or complained about her situation (including her hair which I'm sure other 16 year old girls might have done). She also isn't the most popular girl or the outcast, instead she is relatable being the kind of average popularity.
Clara understood her purpose and instead of being whiny about it, she steps up and puts her other issues aside and realizes that its her duty to save Christian from the fire.

"I won’t be that girl who lets the guy treat her like crap and still fawns all over him."

I also really liked that Clara actually practiced flying because then it wasn't a magical "Woohoo, now I can go fly and save him without ever doing it before".

~The relationships were excellent. There was insta-love and there were some unexpected love choices through the book. Cynthia Hand developed the characters and relationships perfectly getting me to love them as well. I mean, come on, who couldn't love him? Clara never relied on her love interests either which I find completely annoying when I read other books and the girls do that.

This is a quote that I found very funny which shows how great their relationship was.

"'What did the fish say when it hit a concrete wall?' he asked me.
'What?' I say, he grins.
'Dam!' he says.'”

~The minor characters very really good too. I liked her mother, whom was often involved in her life unlike other books. Her mom was involved (though not as much as Clara had hoped for) and their relationship was pretty funny instead of Clara being an angsty teenager trying to get away from her.Clara's friends and brother were interesting and I feel like we are going to learn more about them later in the series.

~I'm so grateful that Cynthia Hand wrote Unearthly so it was understandable. Normally angel books (or other paranormal YA books) have some terminology that I never remember or get confused about.

Instead I knew what was happening and could continue reading.

The only thing I didn't like as much as the other things was ending. I did like that Clara had to make a major hard decision and I was seriously worried about what she was going to do. It seemed short and kind of crammed. I honestly thought that there was more to the book that I just didn't see. I guess its just because its a cliffhanger but *sigh* I wish there was a little more in this one. There was a plot twist at the end which I did not expect.

Overall, Unearthly surpassed other angel books which I am very glad about. I can't wait to read the second book and I hope to start reading Hallowed.
Profile Image for Ida.
345 reviews61 followers
December 5, 2011

My angel-books-are-not-for-me curse is broken. Like in a gazillion pieces, shattered and being eaten by worms in some dark place in the farthest corner of Earth.

I'm here like..








Honestly I'm so happy right now, I feel like I've discovered a cure for cancer or something. After all the pain that I suffered from the curse (See my ratings for the other angel books I read and you'll see what I mean) ,that left me doing this..


I nearly (as in a millicentimeter kind of nearly) lost hope of finding a well-written, enjoyable and will not trigger my book-slaying side just down right good angel book. But thankfully I'm kinda of a masochist and I ended up picking another angel book to try one last time, with one thing in mind, "If this is another round of torture, I will go crazy." And definitely a bad kind of crazy.

And Unearthly saved me with flying colors(and sparkles, and glitters, and rainbows, and everything that is wonderful, and anoreo-smelling boy named Tucker Avery. ) from myself and any other person within a 5 mile radius.



Clara may be one of my most admired and loved female protagonist out there! Despite of her "unearthliness", she's pretty much like a normal teenage girl. She has her own insecurities about herself, she knows her flaws but she tries do to her best to not let this things stop her. She's smart, strong, witty, sweet, kind and very believable! I just wanna be freaking friends with her!

Her relationship with her family although is not perfect (as all normal families do), I still love it! I love how she and her brother, Jeffrey, have that love-hate relationship that siblings have. And her "I-love-you-Mom-but-you-just-annoy-me-sometimes" thing that goes on between her and her mom, is just so relatable! Also the awkwardness she feels on how to deal with her best friends (who by the way is very much different, Yes. Even in species), Wendy and Angela, at the same time is just so realistic, I'm like.."YEAH! I SO KNOW WHAT YOU FEEL!"

And most importantly...

You know what's coming...

I LOVE HOW HER RELATIONSHIP WITH TUCKER STARTED! There. I said it. I'm totally Team Tucker from the very first time he opened his mouth!!! AHHHHHHHH!!!!! It the "I'm-gonna-annoy-you-to-death-to-show-you-how-much-i-like-you" kind of beginning and it was so FREAKING ADORABLEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!! I mean, the we-are-meant-to-be-together-love-at-first-sight love doesn't do it for me anymore. And all their bickering and teasing and annoying the hell out of each other is just so cute, I just turn in to a giggle monster everytime! And it doesn't help that Tucker is such a gentleman, funny, sweet, charming, kind, cute, adorable and an oreo-smelling cowboy!!!!! Who doesn't want a man like that?! ( Specially the oreo-smelling thing. Damn!!! I LOVE OREOS!!!!!!!!!) I just love him so much it causes me physical pain in knowing that he's not real. *sobs*

But really, I just went




from Clara's birthday up to all their sweet scenes and their adorableness!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's was like..






*dies of cuteness overload*

This was just a very fun ride for me, that I recommend it to all of the people who populates the world!!!



Now I sit here ,waiting for Hallowed..


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