Monday, January 9, 2012

Hallowed: Oh my Tucker! This is middle book at its very best...

For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought. Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

Book Review

Title: Hallowed
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: January 17, 2012

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This series is what every other angel book wishes it could grow up to be.

Hallowed is "middle book" at its very best.

Out of all the paranormal creatures in YA, angels get by far the worst treatment. Three of the worst YA series all feature angels, and until Unearthly, I thought perhaps it was impossible to write a decent angel book. But Unearthly was not decent--IT WAS AMAZING. That delicious, slow-build romance between Clara and Tucker. A strong, likeable heroine with a realistic voice. A vivid, gorgeous setting. Intriguing mythology that makes sense. Tucker. (Did I mention Tucker?) Ever since I closed the pages of Unearthly, I've been clamoring for a sequel.

In Cynthia Hand's follow-up novel, she DELIVERS. She makes me feel things about characters that I never thought I could. She takes this in the direction hinted at throughout Unearthly, but she makes it work (in ways this Team Tucker girl didn't think were possible) and adds some complexity with other unexpected twists. My heart was aching--ACHING--when I finished this book.

Cynthia Hand, how did you make me like Christian? I'm as TEAM TUCKER as they come, and yet you drew me in to see Christian's goodness and charm and caring with such a sly hand. I'm no advocate of love triangles, but this one is as good as they come.

And the writing? As addictive and snappy and heart-breaking as ever. I love that Cynthia can poke fun at her own book and genre with funny little lines about stalker girlfriends and love triangles and jealous boyfriends. Her writing makes these characters feel REAL, so real that she can make me feel absolute joy and then devastation because of the struggles and choices these characters face. And trust will feel a gamut of emotions reading this.

Cynthia Hand has shown that Unearthly was no fluke. This woman can WRITE. This series shines with stellar characterization, fascinating mythology, compelling choices, and Tucker (it needed to be said). I cannot wait to see what she has in store next for these beloved characters.

P.S. Jackson Hole and Idaho, I love you.

Everneath: A haunting, desperate tale that will linger with you long after the last page...

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...

Book Review

Title: Everneath
Author: Brodi Ashton
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: January 24, 2012

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I am so in love with this dress.

What a deliciously creepy tale. The feel of this book has lingered with me for days...the desperation, the ache, the tiny glimmers of hope. Read some Georgia Nicolson after this one, folks, because this is heavy stuff.

Everneath begins with one of those amazing prologues...the enigmatic kind that grabs you and makes you read a book in one sitting because it's so evocative and...different. It's been the year of the YA Greek mythology retelling, with Persephone and Hades receiving extra attention, but this is unlike anything else I've read. Most Greek myths have not translated well into modern-day YA tales (um, Goddess Test, anyone?) but this one WORKS. Actually, it works unexpectedly well. The mythology is gripping and eerie, and I just couldn't look away.

These characters bleed with flaws and impulsiveness and raw emotion, and they completely hooked me. This is not your typical YA love triangle. In fact, I wouldn't call it a love triangle at all, which gives it an extra layer of complexity. It's more like Kiersten White's Paranormalcy series where you have the steadfast boyfriend and the other guy, who is one creepy dude with some mixed motives and complex emotions.

I will say, the middle is a bit muddled and drawn out, but that intriguing beginning and electrifying (not to mention heartbreaking) ending made up for any missteps in the middle. What an aching tale. That was an add-some-stars ending, and I got chills at some of the last lines. This story is far from over, and I need a sequel stat!

Geek Girl: This book oozes with chemistry...I love these characters!

Jen's life of partying and sneaking out has grown stale. So on a whim, Jen makes a bet to turn Trevor, a goody-two-shoes geek, into a "bad boy." As she hangs out with Trevor, however, she finds it's actually kinda fun being a geek. But when Trevor finds out about the bet, Jen must fight for the things she's discovered matter most: friendship, family, and, above all, love.

Book Review

Title: Geek Girl
Author: Cindy C. Bennett
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Publication Date: December 8, 2011

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Cedar Fort acquired a real indie gem with Geek Girl. I first read Geek Girl back in March when it was self-published, and I burned through it in a matter of hours. Talk about flow...Cindy C. Bennett's writing is addictive and all-consuming and emotionally gripping. And she ALWAYS makes me cry.

I initially gave Geek Girl four stars, but as I re-read it now that it's been published, I'm upping it to five. Out of everything I've read this year, this is one of those stories that has just stayed with me. I can't tell you how many times this year that I've stared at all the books on my iPad and opened Geek Girl back up to read some favorite passages again. These isn't anything too earth shattering here, but I've had a hard time saying goodbye to these characters. Cindy's characters always breathe. Her heroines are fierce yet symphatic. They speak of the attrocities of their lives with such raw honesty that you can't help but cheer for them to get their happy ending. And let me tell you, Cindy knows how to write the White Knight.

This book has only gotten better with time. I can't wait to see more from Cindy C. Bennett. Her book Heart on a Chain is another indie gem, and I'd love for it to see publication (hint, hint!).