Hallowed

Hallowed (Unearthly #2) by Cynthia Hand

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. (Goodreads)

Hallowed is the sequel to Unearthly (which I loved).  If you’ve not read the first book be warned. This will be quite the spoilery treat.


So, let’s play a little catch up.  Clara is an angel—not some dark, annoying, I’ve-just-been-tossed-out-of-heaven emo poser, but the real deal. An actual angel on a mission. FROM GOD. The first time I read that I was like sa-weet, a new twist!

Things aren’t particularly perfect for our girl though because after spending months learning about her purpose—saving the ultra-hot Christian—Clara forsakes her mission to save her boyfriend, Tucker (and oh yes, he’s so very worth it).  I wanted her to do this of course, because Cynthia Hand had me at hello, baby. The romance here was so sweet and holy cow, I fell for it all hook, line and sinker, just like Clara.

Christian who? Exactly.

So, Clara rescues Tucker from a horrible fire instead of saving Christian, only to find out (DUM DUM DUM—that’s my soap opera music) that Christian makes it out alive anyway because he’s an angel and he was trying to save her too, believing that she was his mission as well.

I know!

Hallowed picks up immediately after all this blessed awesomeness.  Clara absolutely loves Tucker, but she’s feeling a teensy bit guilty about the whole Christian thing.  In some weird way these two are drawn together now more than ever.  Those feelings continue to intensify as Clara begins to learn more about life as an angel, something Tucker tries but will never truly understand. Things only get worse when Clara begins to have new, ominous visions of a funeral. And the person she goes to for comfort here is …wait for it…Christian.

Oh, love triangles can be so frustrating can’t they?  And Clara can’t see that she’s shutting Tucker out because she’s so sick with worry over whose funeral she’s attending in this creepy vision.  None of this—the worry, the growing attraction to Christian, the deeper attachment she feels to her angelic family—is altogether good for that whole Tucker/Clara situation.

My Feelings:

There were things I really liked about this book: Tucker, Clara’s friends, and the basic premise of an angel seeking her calling from God while battling her very human desire to do her own thing.

This time around, however, I didn’t love Clara as much as I previously did.  She’s already wracked with guilt over the whole missed calling thing from the first book, now we add to it her constant worry over who in the heck may be dying in the near future. And I get both of those things. I was with her there.

What was more difficult to swallow was the love triangle.  Both guys are good. I see your dilemma here Clara, I really do. But seriously, will you just make a decision already?????!!!!!!  When she was with Tucker she loved him. Except that she was lusting after Christian (which, you know, was all the time). And man, Christian totally knows it and,  like any guy, he clearly has no problem with it.  He wants her too.  I just wanted Clara to stop already. Or start. Or do something other than what she was doing. And she does—it just feels like forever that she’s contemplating it all.

And while I liked Christian and enjoyed the opportunity to get to know him better, I felt this book was truly lacking one truly spectacular element that its predecessor had: Tucker.  Oh, he’s there, but not enough.  Or maybe I’m over analyzing it all. Who knows? I still enjoyed the book and would recommend it, but honestly I wasn’t swept away like I was the first time around.

Crush Intensity: 3/5 . The third book in the series, Boundless, will be in stores January 2013.

Soundtrack: I’m sticking with the song I chose for the first book.  Run by Snow Patrol. It just fits this series.  I can’t even explain it.

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Bloody Valentine

Bloody Valentine by Melissa De La Cruz

The Blue Bloods have powers beyond human comprehension: strength that defies logic, speed that cannot be captured on film, the ability to shape-shift, and more.  But in matters of the heart, no one, not even these immortal vampires, has total control.  In Bloody Valentine offers three tantalizing stories that delve deep into the love lives of the all-powerful vamps (and their Red Blood friends) from New York’s Upper East Side. Might a witchy new girl help cure Oliver’s broken heart?  How did Allegra fall in love with a human?  Will Schuyler and Jack finally be bonded?

Here’s the scoop:  In this sixth book in the Blue Bloods series, Melissa De La Cruz offers three short stories and an opportunity to dive into the lives of characters we may not know otherwise.  Warning: If you have not read any of the previous books 1) MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD 2) YOU WILL BE CRAZY CONFUSED.  3)GO READ THEM NOW!

First, is the story of Oliver, loyal best friend and former human familiar to Schuyler Van Alen. One month ago he sent Schuyler away with Jack Force (collective sigh) knowing that although she loved Oliver it could never compare to her love for Jack.  Though it tore him apart, he was certain it was the right thing.  Now he’s searching for a way to move on and believes he’s found it in an illegal home that promises to erase the traces of love left on those who’ve shared the Sacred Kiss with a vampire.  The process itself and the after-effects are a dangerous risk and could bring great shame to both he and his family, but he’s desperate to move on.

Then we’re taken back in time to 1985 where we meet a young, healthy Allegra Van Alen.  While her brother, Charles, is busy worshipping the ground she walks on (which is still creepytown, ala Jack and Mimi) Allegra is drawn to a boy—a handsome human boy.  Even though it may cost her (and we know it does), she’s willing to take the risk of forsaking Charles and opening herself to this new love.

And finally, the story that matters most (not that the previous two aren’t good, because they really are): Jack.  Or, Jack and Schuyler, actually.  Those crazy lovebirds are still in Florence spending lazy days being chasing by deadly venators in between their sexy smooching sessions.  In truth, life has not been easy for these two.  They have been in constant danger but they’ve decided that whatever fate awaits them, either with the venators or back home in New York, they want to be bonded.  They need to be bonded.  Thus, the proceed to plan it, but not without a few life-threatening roadblocks.   

This book is short and sweet.  While I enjoyed the story of Oliver and relished the opportunity to learn more about Allegra,  for me, everything rested on the portion that was told from Schuyler’s point of view.  It is romantic and well-plotted and everything Blue Bloods fans have been waiting for.  EVREEEETHING.

Crush Intensity: 4/5 It’s strictly for the fans, but there’s no way not to love this (unless you’re Mimi Force).

The seventh and final book, Lost in Time,  is due in the Fall of 2012.  There is a sneak peek of it on the Blue Bloods Facebook page!

Blue Bloods

The Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz

Despite the cover this is not just another vampire book

Schuyler Van Alen is confused about what is happening to her. Her veins are starting to turn blue, and she’s starting to crave raw meat. Soon, her world is thrust into an intricate maze of secret societies and bitter intrigue. Schuyler has never been a part of the trendy crowd at her prestigious New York private school. Now, all of a sudden, Jack Force, the most popular guy in school, is showing an interest in her. And when one of the popular girls is found dead, Schuyler and Jack are determined to get to the bottom of it.

Schuyler wants to find out the secrets of the mysterious Blue Bloods. But is she putting herself in danger?

Here’s the scoop:

In 1590, after a three-year absence, Governor John White returned to the colony of Roanoke expecting to see the over 100 men, women and children—including his own family—he left behind before his return to England for supplies.  Instead he found nothing.  There was no trace of the colonists or any sign of human life.  All that was left was the word  CROATAN  carved into a post.  Not a single person ever resurfaced and though there are many theories as to what became of the lost colony, no one knows for certain.

That’s a true story.  Trust me, my hubs is a history mega-nerd (a cute one, but still).

Fast forward to present day Manhattan, to the home of fifteen year old Schuyler (pronounced Skyler) Van Alen.  The Van Alen family is one of the oldest in New York, their roots tracing back to the foundations of the city and their money leaving a trail of buildings and memorials as a testament to their greatness.  Though her family was once prestigious, Schuyler now lives a quiet existence with her grandmother in a dilapidated brownstone with a good address.  She attends Duchesne School—the place for New York society to educate their spawn— but she doesn’t fit in.

Thanks to her grandmother’s tight grip on the family purse strings Schuyler has little to no money to indulge in the lifestyle befitting a Duchesne student.  Her only friends are Oliver Hazard-Perry (of the Manhattan Hazard-Perrys.  Pretend you’ve heard of them) and  a new bad boy in school, Dylan.  Oliver obviously has a thing for Sky and though she is aware of it (ya hear that Katniss?) she doesn’t feel the same.

Recently Schuyler has gotten some attention from the upper crust kids in school.  First from Bliss, a nice girl from the in-crowd who just happens to have the hots for Dylan.  Second, but far more important, she’s been the object of sweet flirtation with Jack Force, fellow Duchesne student and resident coolest guy in school.  With his movie-star good looks and oddly close relationship with his twin sister Mimi (I’m talking really odd.  Like bordering on illegal) Jack is completely out of reach.  But that doesn’t stop Schuyler from wanting him, even against her better judgement.

Adding to her normal high school girl confusion (you know: “Does Jack want to make out with me or his sis?”) is the fact that Schuyler isn’t feeling quite herself lately.  She’s having odd cravings for raw meat, is seeing things that can’t possibly be real and has a strange web of blue veins appearing on her arms.  Her grandmother is not in any way concerned or astonished—in fact it it’s as if she’s been anticipating it all.  It even seems as though Oliver knows what’s happening and isn’t telling her.

Then life at Duchesne gets completely thrown out of wack because someone has to go and get all murdery with another student.  Not only is poor Whatsherface (I’m sorry. I really can’t remember her name) killed, her blood is drained completely.  And as  Schuyler finds out, it should never have been possible for this girl to die because she was part of an elite secret society called the Blue Bloods.

Schuyler delves deeper and learns far more than she ever imagined she would.  The Blue Bloods hold many secrets including her own family history—a long and tangled story dating back to the days of Roanoke and Croatan.  Worse, someone or something is hunting down and killing Blue Bloods and Schuyler is determined to find out who it is.

What I love about this series thus far is that the author has tied in mythology with the true mystery of the lost colony of Roanoke.  The history buff in me went completely nerd when I opened the first page and read a journal entry from the fictional Catherine Carver, who is supposed to have been a settler at the Plymouth colony, near Roanoke.  The book is sprinkled with such pages and I found myself dying to piece together each story.  Melissa de la Cruz does an excellent job at giving her readers just enough information to leave them dying for more.

The writing is fun and believable.  The dialogue feels authentic and is descriptive at the right times without bogging the story down with too much detail.  Schuyler is a strong, likeable heroine who is innocent while still maintaining her flaws.  And Jack Force, a guy with absolutely the best name in the history of the world, lives up to his name.  He’s strong and swoonworthy while at times managing to be aloof and impossible to read.  And his relationship with his sis Mimi?  Ick to the max, yet I was oddly intrigued.  Every time Mimi reached out to touch Jack in a weird-but-not-quite-Flowers-in-the-Attic-kind-of-way, I wanted to both cover my eyes and devour the page.

My only real gripe with this series is that there is alot of label dropping.  While I get that this is big New York money and blah blah blah I really don’t care who designed every single thread that adorns the bodies of these ridiculously beautiful people.  After a while it became obnoxious (and hello, I used to work in fashion people!).  It’s mainly a problem in the first book, which, although it is a great read, is the weakest in the series thus far.  They have truly gotten better each time, with De La Cruz spinning more interesting ideas into the lives of the characters.

Crush Intensity: 4/5  One word: Jack. Plus the story is solid, the pacing is good, you know, all that other stuff.  But Jack.  Holy swoon attack.

The Way I See It:

She looks like she can rock Schuyler's vintage style

Lucy Hale of Pretty Little Liars has the look of Schuyler.  Outside of fitting the physical description of her, she has the fresh, innocent look which I believe Schuyler would have.  Plus, I’ll be honest.  As soon as I saw this picture of her it reminded me of Schuyler’s vintage clothing style (made possible by the complete and total lack of grandmotherly funding for anything else).

Jack Force? Maybe?

As one who appreciates the tall, dark and handsome guys (which, alas,  is why I can never be in fake love with Peeta), I’m always at a loss when trying to envision any attractive blonde guys.  I was stuck when it came time to find an image for my beloved Jack because I don’t know how to describe what I see in my head.  This actor, Alex Pettyfer, is not quite how I imagine him, but he does seem to carry a certain confidence that I imagine Mr. Force having.

Who wouldn't want him for their BFF?

Ben Barnes is one of those actors (along with Henry Cavill) who I may have to find a part for in every one of my imaginary movies.  So sue me, okay?  Thaz how I roll over here in Crazytown.  I truly think Mr. B would be an excellent Oliver.  Ollie, as Schuyler calls him, is physically a Hotty McHottypants, he just doesn’t do it for Sky.  (Why, you ask? Because of Jack Force.  Just say his name and you’ll be all “Ohhhhhh right.  Jack Force”).  But look at him.  I think he’ll be alright in the end.   Some girl will take pity on that rich mug (oh did I forget to mention that?  Oliver’s family has money coming out of their bazookas).

Everyone loves a bad boy

I have a minor confession.  I’ve never seen Gossip Girl. I don’t know why, exactly.  It looks kind of fun.  For some strange reason, I know who most of the stars are though.  And because of this, when I picture Dylan, I picture Penn Badgley.  I know nothing about him (other than the fact that he’s dating Blake Lively.  Why do I know this?  I have no idea).  He could be a very nice guy.  But to me he’s Dylan, the guy who may or may not be kind of dangerous.

Her real name is NOT Ginny Weasley. Repeat. Her real name in NOT Ginny Weasley.

Little Bonnie Wright has grown up before our eyes.  It’s hard to look at her and not think of the most awesome ginger family evah, the Weasleys.  But I think she’d be a fantastic Bliss Lewellyn.  Bliss is a red-haired beauty from Texas.  She’s a genuinely nice girl (which leads us to wonder why she’s friends with Mimi) who is often embarrassed by her crass family’s attempts at fitting in with the families at Duchesne.  Plus I’d love to see Ginny—I mean Bonnie— try to go all vampy and eat a raw steak that’s been handed to her by her tacky stepmom.

You hate her already, don't you?

Teresa Palmer is to die for pretty. Like, if I wasn’t nice I’d totally want to draw a mustache on this picture.  Since Mimi is supposed to be a stunning  B**** Who Stole My Pads It Girl, I think Palmer can pull it off.  I mean, check out how she’s looking at that camera.  She is working it just like Mimi would.

Soundtrack: Stealing a cue from the books here…on the opening pages of the first book the author quotes “Time is Running Out” by Muse.  Who am I to argue with perfection?