Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

6304335Title: Beautiful Creatures

Series: Caster Chronicles, Book 1

Author: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Published: December 1st 2009, Little, Brown and Company

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Age group: Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)

Summary:

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. WhenLena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Review:

This book would have never come to my attention if it wasn’t for the movie trailer of it I once saw. As a fan of ‘Harry Potter’, I like anything about magic or fantasy. So the trailer and the book summary promised a very mysterious and unique story, so that I wasn’t even put off by its length.

‘Beautiful Creatures’ is a story about 16-year-old Ethan. He leaves in a small Southern town Gatlin, where nothing ever happens. But for some time Ethan has been having the same dream about a girl he doesn’t know. So when this girl suddenly appears in flash as a new student in his school, Ethan is intrigued both by her identity and the meaning of this dream.

But the girl, Lena, is different from anyone Ethan knows. She is the niece of the town’s shut-in Macon Ravenwood, and her whole family is a mystery. While attempting to get to know Lena better, Ethan finds out that she is a Caster, a witch, just like the rest of her family. But Lena’s future is also in a great danger, and Ethan, getting more and more attracted to her, is set to protect her from any harm.

First of all, I want to point out, that ‘Beautiful Creatures’ has many flaws. While it was nice and refreshing to read a YA book written from a boy’s point of view, instead of a girl’s, I couldn’t help but cringe at Ethan’s mind works. He’s just too sensitive and girlish, so I couldn’t picture him in my mind as a strong male figure. I was also put off by his reaction (or lack of it) to finding out about this whole Caster world. He finds out about magic existing in the world and even becomes a witness to it, but it’s like no big deal to him, he is only fixated on Lena.

Lena and Ethan were another case of insta-love, that I just hate to read about. It seemed like there were no character development and get-to-know between these two, aside from them talking about Casters. Sometimes their relationship seemed like an obsession, what with their talking to each other in their minds. Way creepy! But the romance was expected from the very beginning, though I would have loved it to be more developed.

I can’t say much about Lena, as her image is not fully built in my mind. The things I know about her are all told by Ethan, and he mostly spoke about her appearance, her clothes and hair, and her magic. But she seemed like a nice girl determined to use her powers in the right way. I hope the second book in the series will give more features to Lena’s character.

The book also is heavily overstuffed with all this Southern spirituality, and while I liked some of it, like the scene of the Battle Reenactment, I didn’t get the point of it. But I liked that the story was set in a small town, as it gave the story this whole isolated feeling.

But aside from all the flaws, surprisingly for me, I liked the book. What is really great about it, is that despite of its pretty dull characters, the storyline was very strong and intriguing. There were so many mysteries to be uncovered, that the story was read quite easily, despite its length. I was also impressed that the authors managed to create this unique atmosphere of something magical and unknown, that I always felt completely immersed into the story, like I myself was there, in Gatlin, watching it all happen with my own eyes.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but judging by the trailer, I think it definitely recreates the book’s general atmosphere. While ‘Beautiful Creatures’ is no ‘Harry Potter’, it’s definitely a book worth reading, as it tells a very unique gripping story, which will keep the reader entertained till the very end.

Boundless by Cynthia Hand

13049981Title: Boundless

Series: Unearthly, Book 3

Author: Cynthia Hand

Published: January 22nd 2013, HarperTeen

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Age group: Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Boundless (Unearthly, #3)

Summary:

The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California – and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfill her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.

In the riveting finale of the Unearthly series, Clara must decide her fate once and for all.

My review:

‘Boundless’ is the third and last book in the ‘Unearthly’ series, the fact I’m both happy and sad about. On the one hand it’s amazing, that Cynthia Hand didn’t try to prolong the story more than it was necessary, just for the sake of making more books. There are lots of book series out there, which don’t have quite as amazing stories, yet they consist of four and more installments. On the other hand, seeing that this series have become one of my favorite, I was really sad to see the end of it. I came to love the story and the characters so much, but the ending was really great and I’m quite satisfied with it, things did turned out just the way I was hoping for.

In ‘Boundless’ we follow Clara in college. She goes to Stanford University with Angels and Christian, and hopes to start over. There are a lot of sad things that happened to Clara in the second book – her mother died, her brother Jeremy ran away, and Clara had to break up with Tucker.

Being in college is all about Angela’s vision, though. She saw her, Clara and Christian being there together. But as the time passes, her vision gets clearer, and she also sees herself talking to her Italian boyfriend, angel Phen. Angela has to tell him something important, but she don’t know yet, what that is and why.

Meanwhile, Clara and Christian are trained by Clara’s father to use their powers, for them to be prepared for a possible battle in the future. Clara’s visions get more and more confusing. She sees herself in a dark room with Christian, hoping she won’t be found. There’s also smoke and noises. That is a driving Clara crazy and she tries some of Angela’s methods to bring visions on purpose.

At the same time Clara is very worried about her brother Jeremy. She finds him soon, but is not sure if he’s really alright. He now has a girlfriend, who bothers Clara for some reason. And also practically every Clara’s thought and dream are filled with Tucker, she misses him a lot, but she thinks he deserves a normal life with someone human, which she isn’t.

All the things happening in the beginning of the book are very mysterious and clearly interwoven, leading to the big fight. What I loved about the storyline, was that it was not solely action. There were some really dangerous moments for both Clara and Christian, where they almost got killed. Also a lot of mysteries to open up. Yet the book is all about emotion. It’s also mostly sadness, as it’s not only Clara who has to sacrifice the things she loves.

Angela is dealing with a great deal of hurt and drama. The book may be told from Clara’s point of view, but Angela was just as important character, because all the events are pretty much related to her. I wasn’t much of a fan of her before, but this book showed just how strong and admirable she really is. There are just so many tragedies that happened to her, that at some time I was sure there would be no happy ending for her. Gladly, I was wrong.

‘Boundless’ is also the book where the reader gets all the answers to the questions risen in the first two books, like what angel-bloods purposes really were about. The action scenes were amazingly written, and I, personally, was really impressed with the Hell description, it was so vivid and dark at the same time.

Also, in this book the main love-triangle of the series finally comes to solution. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but still, I was so happy with the way things turned out. If the whole book was totally amazing, the last pages of it first made me  cry, then I was so relieved, that all ended well, so that I loved the book even more.

So my verdict is – a great book, an amazing and captivating story, a series worth reading, and a very talented author.

Radiant by Cynthia Hand

15851966Title: Radiant

Series: Unearthly, Book 2,5

Author: Cynthia Hand

Published: December 4th 2012, HarperTeen

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Age group: Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Radiant (Unearthly, #2.5)

Summary:

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand comes a riveting original novella (available only as an ebook) set in the world of the Unearthly series.

Clara is desperate to get away—from the memories that haunt her in Wyoming and the visions of a future she isn’t ready to face—and spending the summer in Italy with her best friend, Angela, should be the perfect escape. . . .

For as long as she can remember, Angela has been told that love is dangerous, that she must always guard her heart. But when she met a mysterious guy in Italy two years ago she was determined to be with him, no matter the costs. Now she must decide whether she can trust Clara with her secret, or if telling her the truth will risk everything she cares about.

Alternating between Angela and Clara’s perspectives, Radiant chronicles the unforgettable summer that will test the bounds of their friendship and change their lives forever.

My review:

I absolutely love it, when the authors of my favorite series decide to publish these additional short novellas, aside from the main books. I think it’s a great way to give additional information on the characters or pay more attention to some minor events, that weren’t essential for the main story.

The ‘Unearthly’ series consists of only three installments (the fact I’m both sad and happy about), and ‘Radiant’ is its only additional novel. While all the three books are focused on the main character Clara, her life and the decisions she makes, this short novella gives the reader a chance to learn more about her best friend Angela, whose character is very significant to the story.

If there weren’t ‘Radiant’, there would have been this gap in the series – the summer between Clara finishing school and going off to college. And I wouldn’t have been this excited about knowing what happened during this time period, if it wasn’t mentioned in ‘Hallowed’ that Clara planned to visit Italy with Angela. Well, I definitely thought that would be a very interesting journey. First of all, Italy is emphasized to be the place full of hidden secrets about angels, besides this is where Angela once met an Intangere. And also, she has a secret boyfriend here, who Clara really wants to meet.

The story is not action-packed, but it gives a plenty new facts, mostly about Angela. I wasn’t not be a big fan of her in the beginning, given her know-it-all attitude and the way she constantly wants to be the best, but it was nice to learn about her experiences, aside from Clara’s, and to compare how these two different girls dealt with the same thing. I really love Clara as the main character, but I can’t deny that she did had it easier. While Clara always had someone to guide her – first her mother, who was a Dimidius, then after her death, her father stepped in, and he is a 100 percent angel. Angela’s mother is a human, who was raped by a Black Wing, and therefore Angela is all alone with her secret. She doesn’t have anybody to give her advice, and all she came to know, she acquired all by herself.

Most of the facts about angels Angela got from books, but once during her vacation in Italy she met an angel named Phen, who soon became her main source of all angels-related stuff. But also, the fact that Phen, despite from being centuries old, looks really young and attractive played its part. And soon Angela found herself in love with him. She knew that it was dangerous and nothing good would come out of it, but she just couldn’t resist her heart.

The book is really short, but I found myself quite satisfied with this fact. This trip to Italy was mostly about the girls looking for ideas about their purposes, and as it is, it would have been unnecessary, considering that all of this would be later mentioned in the third book. But as it focuses on Angela and her unrequited love for Phen, it was not only very refreshing, but also provided additional material which would be very important further on.

I found myself actually liking and sympathizing with Angela. She turned out a very strong person. The first two books showed her a bit annoying and one-sided, like nothing really mattered to her aside from fulfilling her purpose. But in ‘Radiant’ I got to see her inner world, and I learned, that even though her angelic origin may be different from Clara’s, she goes through the same emotional struggles.

I really do hope Cynthia Hand would write some other additional novellas for the ‘Unearthly’ series, it doesn’t even matter what character’s POV they would be from. I just really love the world she created, and Clara is really great, but getting to read the story from a different perspective would be really exciting. ‘Radiant’ is definitely a must-read for all the fans of the series.

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

11563110Title: Hallowed

Series: Unearthly, Book 2

Author: Cynthia Hand

Published: January 17th 2012, HarperTeen

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Age group: Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Hallowed (Unearthly, #2)

Summary:

For months Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn’t prepared for the choice she had to make that day. And in the aftermath, she discovered that nothing about being part angel is as straightforward as she thought.

Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves 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.

In this compelling sequel to Unearthly, Cynthia Hand captures the joy of first love, the anguish of loss, and the confusion of becoming who you are.

My review:

The first book in this series was an unexpected but pleasant surprise for me. I’d been so disappointed with a lot of highly popular YA books, that I was very doubtful that ‘Unearthly’ would appeal to me. But it did! And after I finished it, I couldn’t wait to know what was next for the main character Clara.

I picked up ‘Hallowed’ right after I finished ‘Unearthly’, and just like with the first book, this one pulled me in from the very first pages. All the things that I loved about the first book, are still present in ‘Hallowed’ – beautiful writing, amazing characters and exciting, unique story. The pacing of this book is also slow but not boring in any way, there are a lot of landscape descriptions and Clara’s inner monologues, when she would weigh all the pros and cons to make the right decision.

The thing I admire about Clara is that, aside from her angelic nature, she thinks and acts like an absolutely normal teenage girl. She values friendship, family and romance in her life very much, and though she can’t help admiring her own powers, she wouldn’t mind being normal, just like her friend Wendy and boyfriend Tucker.

While the first book was all about introducing the reader to the world of angels and half-bloods, as well as the world of normal humans in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the second one is all about Clara going further in opening up the secrets about her purpose and future. She learns that not everything is so magical about being an angel-blood. First there are Black Wings, the fallen angels who actually are pretty dangerous to angel-bloods. And then Clara’s visions get more and more confusing, but what she does know is that she has to protect those she loves, like Tucker, even though it might mean for them to break up.

There were some pretty exciting moments in this book, like Clara meeting her father and finding out that she’s actually not a Quarterius, but a Triplare. And the scenes with the Congregation were pretty interesting. But the main vibe of this story to me was sadness all over. There’s a lot of sacrifices Clara has to make, and a lot of hardships she has to face. First of all, her mom’s dying, then there’s something strange going on with her brother Jeffrey, and Clara is very heartbroken that there may probably be no future for her and Tucker.

This books also have one of the strongest love triangles I’ve ever read about. Typically, the choice is normally very clear, like one of the guys is always a jerk. But for some reason, the heroine keeps going back and forth between these two guys, knowing who she’d like to choose but afraid to hurt the other one’s feelings. And that would really piss me off. But both Tucker and Christian are really good guys. It’s obvious they care a lot about Clara, but their origins are very different. So, of course, it would be easier for Clara to be with someone of her kind, another angel-blood. They could learn together about whatever there is to know about angel-bloods, fulfill they purposes, while supporting each other. But when the matters of the heart are involved, there is no common sense. I already said it in my review of ‘Unearthly’, that I’m a 100 percent Team Tucker, and this book only made me even more sure about it. It’s not about my personal preference, but Clara’s. Tucker is the only guy she ever mentioned being in love with, while with Christian it’s all about his good looks and angelic nature.

So, to sum it up, the second installment was just as great as the first one, I loved every single thing about it. This is definitely the type of series I’ve been wanting to read for a long time.

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

7488244Title: Unearthly

Series: Unearthly, Book 1

Author: Cynthia Hand

Published: January 4th 2011, HarperTeen

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Age group: Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Unearthly (Unearthly, #1)

Summary:

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.

ii

OK, I was really wary about this book series, because, frankly, whatever young adult series I started lately didn’t impress me much or simply annoyed me. First of all, they all seemed the same, following the path of telling a story about teenage vampires/werewolves/aliens/angels. Speaking of angels, I’ve read ‘Hush, Hush’ and ‘Premonition’, both dealing with angels, and I wasn’t fond of them both. The stories were too overstuffed with unnecessary stuff, the paranormal part wasn’t thought through that well and the main characters were really dislikable. So, the only reason why I started ‘Unearthly’ was that apparently everyone loved it and gushed about it, saying that it was way better that any other YA  book of this genre.

The first thing that really impressed me about this book, was the way it is written. The language is so beautiful, Cynthia Hand is really a master of describing impressive landscapes or deep emotions. The place where the story’s set is Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and I really came to love it, it’s so secluded and cozy with surrounding mountains and forests.

Another great thing here – I really loved the main character. Clara is a 17 year old quarter angel, who is to follow her destination, which is hinted for her in the forms of visions she has at most inappropriate times. She constantly sees herself apparently saving a guy (standing with his back to her, so she doesn’t see his face) from a forest fire. Clara’s mother, who’s half angel, helps her figure out the place of the fire. It’s in Wyoming, so the whole family, including Clara’s younger brother Jeffrey, has to move there from California, so that Clara could fulfill her purpose.

Clara seems and acts absolutely normal for a 17 year old girl, despite her supernatural nature. She is caring and kind. I liked that, unlike with most YA fantasy books, the main heroine doesn’t only fixate on her abilities or a boy. On the contrary, Clara’s life is not one-sided. She manages (and she wants to) to pay attention to every aspect of her life – her family, her friends, her powers and her romantic feelings, too.

When Clara meets the boy from her vision, Christian, in Wyoming, she became sort of obsessed with him. It’s no longer only about her purpose as Christian turns out to be very attractive. But no matter how hard she tries, Clara can’t capture his attention. There is another boy here, Tucker, her best friend Wendy’s brother. In the beginning Clara is sure that he hates her, as her constantly teases her. But when the two have to spend the summer together, Clara gets to really know him. Tucker is no Christian, who’s full of ambitions. Tucker is a cowboy, he spends all his free working or getting ready for rodeo. He’s just a normal, down to earth guy, who really loves Clara. And as the story progresses, Clara comes to reciprocate the feeling.

Well, I can say right now, that I’m Team Tucker all the way! I think he’s perfect. Well, he is human and him and Clara being together may turn out pretty dangerous. But it’s evident that he’s the choice Clara makes on her own, while with Christian it’s all about their purpose. Besides, I really don’t think that whatever Christian feels for Clara is comparable to Tucker’s feelings. And Clara and Tucker are just amazing together, no doubts.

The whole progression of the story wasn’t very rushed, as it was filled with lots of landscape descriptions. But it was not boring in any way, in fact, it added some almost magical feeling to the story, the one that made you feel like a part of it. The plot was very unique and unpredictable, so I’m just addicted now to these books. I can’t even guess what’s in store for Clara, but I have to stay away from any spoilers! 🙂