Hallowed

Spoiler alert!  If you haven’t already read Unearthly by Cynthia Hand, this post will be all kinds of confusing.  Seriously.  Read Unearthly before proceeding!

Nearly a year and a half ago, I read a truly outstanding novel that revolved around angels.  That book was–if you haven’t already figured it out–Unearthly by Cynthia Hand.  Now that summer is upon us and I have ample time to indulge my deep and abiding love for YA novels, I finally read the sequel, Hallowed.  This book continues Clara Gardner’s search for her true purpose, but she’s in for some surprises that rock the very foundation of her world.  While Hallowed, in my opinion, isn’t quite as action-packed as Unearthly was, it is definitely emotionally loaded.  I got angry and sad right along with Clara, and, to be perfectly honest, I’m a little wrung out at the moment.  (I finished the book about twenty minutes ago.)  If you’re looking for an emotional roller coaster of a book, Hallowed might be just what you’re looking for.

After the fire that changed Clara’s life–and what she believed was her purpose–forever, she finds herself wondering what’s next. Will she be punished for choosing to save Tucker, the boy she’s chosen to love, instead of Christian, another angel-blood who may or may not be meant for her? How has her choice changed the course her life is destined to take? And who will be impacted by whatever happens?

In addition to wondering about her changing purpose as an angel-blood, Clara is being presented with disturbing visions of the future. These visions convince her that someone she loves will soon die. But who could it be? She searches her visions for clues, and, just when she’s convinced that she knows what to expect, Clara is presented with some knowledge that not only clarifies her vision but shakes her world to the core.

As Clara prepares herself for the loss that is to come, she must also deal with a growing threat from Samjeeza, a dreaded Black Wing (or fallen angel), who has a strange interest in her and her family. What does he want? And is there anything Clara can do to stop him?

Clara’s world is quickly spinning out of control. Her brother, Jeffrey, is growing colder and more distant. Her relationship with Tucker is strained, and her feelings for Christian are more complicated than ever. She must also decide the direction her life will take after graduation. All of these things are swirling in Clara’s mind, but they must soon take a back seat to something that will alter everything Clara ever knew about herself, her family, and her angelic nature.

Life is about to change yet again for Clara Gardner. She’ll go through loss, grief, sadness, heartbreak, resignation, and even joy, but will she be strong enough to handle everything being thrown at her? And will she be able to figure out her true purpose while remaining true to herself?

The Unearthly series–Unearthly and Hallowed, so far–is perfect for readers who are fascinated with angels.  Like other “angelic” series, such as Lauren Kate’s Fallen saga, Courtney Allison Moulton’s Angelfire series, and Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series, Unearthly and Hallowed reel the reader in with scenarios of how angels could exist on the earthly and heavenly planes.  If you’re like me and were brought up in church with stories of angels watching over you, these stories are especially compelling.

Hallowed is a great read for anyone in middle school on up.  The love scenes are rather mild, so I wouldn’t have any problems putting this book in the hands of a middle school student.  And there’s enough emotional angst to satisfy even the moodiest of readers.  (I’m talking to you, teenagers.  Yeah, I used to be one of you, so I know you can be a little more emo than you’d like to admit.)

If you’d like more information about the Unearthly series or author Cynthia Hand, visit http://cynthiahandbooks.com/ or follow the author on Twitter @CynthiaHand.  The third book in this series, Boundless, is due to be released on January 22, 2013.

If I still haven’t convinced you to give Hallowed a try, check out this book trailer.  That might do the trick!

Published in: on June 15, 2012 at 10:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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High Dive

It took me a while to get into Tammar Stein’s novel High Dive, but once I did, I found it to be a pleasant read.  Arden has just completed her freshman year at Vanderbilt and is traveling to Sardinia for the summer.  This is not just a typical summer vacation, though.  She is charged with the task of selling her family’s vacation home.  Her father died a few years ago, and her mother is serving as a nurse in Iraq, so this task falls to Arden.  She’s less than thrilled about packing up and selling a place that meant so much to her family, but she embarks on this journey anyway.

Along the way, Arden meets three girls from Texas who invite her to change her path a bit.  Instead of traveling the route she had planned, she decides to visit Paris with them and have something of a summer vacation to cope with the stress of the past few years.  But traveling with three other nineteen-year-olds is not without its stresses, as Arden soon learns.

While Arden is traveling, she also reflects on times spent with her parents, past travels, her mother’s deployment, her father’s death, and her first love.  This is a sometimes painful, but often therapeutic, process that helps Arden to grow as a person and learn that being independent doesn’t mean you can’t form lasting friendships with the people you encounter.  Read High Diveby Tammar Stein to see how Arden learns to live her life by just diving in.

I enjoyed High Dive more than I thought I would at the beginning.  While I still feel it’s a bit unrealistic that a teenager would travel to Europe by herself to sell her family’s vacation home (I know most of my students won’t be able to relate to this), I found Arden’s journey and growth in the novel to be things that anyone could relate to.

Published in: on May 6, 2009 at 4:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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All We Know of Love

What is love?  That is the question Natalie is trying to answer in Nora Raleigh Baskin’s All We Know of Love.  Well, if I knew the answer to that question, I would sell my knowledge to the highest bidder and live like a queen for the rest of my life.  I don’t really know what love is.  Can something like that really be put into mere words?

Natalie’s mother left in the middle of a sentence.  They haven’t seen each other or spoken in over four years.  This spring break, Natalie is going to try to change that, try to find out why her mother left and seemingly stopped loving her.  Along her journey, Natalie deals with her feelings about her best friend, her father, and her distant boyfriend.  Natalie is defined by her mother’s abandonment, so how can she describe her feelings for all of these people when the person who was supposed to love her the most left and didn’t look back?

Natalie encounters several people on her way to meet her mother.  Each of these people, in some small way, teach Natalie a little about what love is.  When she finally confronts her mom, Natalie finds that love is complicated, even the love between a mother and daughter.  There are no easy answers.

While I did enjoy All We Know of Love, I wish there had been a bit more resolution at the end of the book.  This was a short, quick read, and the language was simple and fairly realistic.  I can see many of my female students enjoying this book, but it will be a hard sell for the guys.  The book does make the reader attempt to answer the question of what love really is.

Published in: on April 14, 2009 at 11:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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