Friday, January 20, 2012

Review: 4/5 for Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
Hardcover, 403 pages
Published January 17th 2012 by HarperCollins Publishers
Source: Netgalley
Buy the book! Amazon : B&N : Goodreads

From Goodreads:

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.
I was so excited to start this book. Unearthly was riveting to me and left me very anxious to see where Hand went with this story line in Hallowed. The concept was familiar, but yet so different than other angel plots. Needless to say, this book does not disappoint.

In this installment of the series the reader really gets to know the characters better and watch a surreal "coming of age" story. Christian proves to be steadfast as always in Clara's life and his qualities absolutely shine through in Hand's writing. Tucker actually won me over in this book. Hand allows the reader to see deeper into his mindset and personality and I came to highly respect him. Clara's mother also impressed me in this book. In Unearthly she was just a small part to the story to me, but in Hallowed she became so much more. She does have a higher importance in the book and carries this elements gracefully. She elegantly flows through life-changing events and gives her children the necessary advice to follow in her footsteps. Her role is absolutely breath-taking and heart-breaking. Samjeeza and the Black Wings are more prominent and the story with them will intrigue readers. I can't wait to read more reviews to see what they think of their history and possible future.
I saw the most transformation and growth in Clara though. There were already high expectations for her in life and Hallowed reveals those are only the tip of the iceberg. While still maintaining the innocence about typical teen problems (I'll explain in the next paragraph), she hurls herself heroically through difficult situations that makes many adults cringe. Clara is tested on many levels and manages to keep her head held high. Outlining her from the beginning to the end of the book, there is a dramatic rise in Clara's awareness and strength. It was an amazing transformation to witness.

The plot in this book is done really well in my opinion. Some things just seem to magically fall into place sometimes, but I usually understood why it simply had to be done that way. With the heightened presence of Samjeeza in the book, the sense of danger is also ever present in various forms. Sometimes it is a physical one that shakes things up and other times it is merely thought of them that causes change. However, it is not necessarily the evil that will keep readers attention for a majority of the book. Clara and her relationship with her mother is a constant and emotional road throughout the book. Outside all other events that happen in the book it will bring readers to their knees, because it did me. I realize that because of events in my life I am biased about the situation, so not everyone will have the deep connection that I felt to it. However, I am pretty sure most will feel like they are walking in Clara's shoes and experience everything with her.
Now, my peeve for the book. I understand the need for the love triangle and its plot line. Hand's telling of one in this series is particularly one I enjoy. However, in Hallowed it goes over the top in several ways. Clara is growing up quickly, but it is a little too quickly in this area in my opinion. She is having to battle one of the ultimate forms of evil, but yet also deal with teenage problems in romance. The first is innate for her and she exceeds in it. The second she struggles with because she does not have enough of "herself" left to concentrate on how to best deal with it. The result? Several incidents of teenage angst that had me pining for the end of the scenes. I wanted to shake her, tell her to just suck it up, and walk on. Was some of this was necessary in the book? Absolutely. I simply wish it was not to the extreme that it felt.

Overall, this is an excellent addition to the series. Unearthly set high standards for Hand in my book, but Hallowed is very much worth every laugh and tear I shed while reading it. It didn't quite meet up to my expectations, but it shows that the series and Hand are a force to be reckoned with in YA.

New Year, New Challenges!

Hello, friends!

I have been struggling to get posts together the past couple of weeks. Big home projects and then classes starting back were the biggest deterrents of it. Now, fortunately, a lot of that is wrapped up and I'm getting in the groove of my scholarly readings as well.

Well, I've been a blogger for over six months, but it still feels like I have barely cut my teeth in it. I have definitely not blogged as often as I would have liked these past few months. So, with that in mind, I have propositioned myself to do better this year. I have come up with a few areas that I would like to see the most improvement in:
  • Time management. Period. I am the queen of procrastinators and it showed last semester in my personal and professional lives. If I can stay on top of things I am able to do and enjoy more in life. This would mean keeping ahead on my classwork and writing reviews shortly after finishing a book. I have a lot of difficulty with both of these concepts.
  • Take notes while reading books. There are several reasons for this. A couple of the most important are that I want be able to write better reviews and be ready to make difficult decisions about the book, such as its fate if I need to "clear off the shelves" later. My memory and attention span is not what it used to be, as much as I hate to admit it.
  • Become more active socially online. Another downfall of my procrastination. Once I finally catch up on things, I am usually so burned out I do not want to "deal" with anyone. I'd rather hide in a cave at that point actually. Once I post pictures of my office you will see that I almost do hide in one.
  • Curtail the "book-buying" urge. I know, I know. Crazy, right? I will be buying a select amount of books because they genuinely intrigue me, but I will mainly be focusing on a few debuts, new books by my small handful of favorite authors, and extremely good deals. There are books on my shelf that I have not read and I have bought more. The frugal side of me is severely irritated with this. It wants me read what I have and curb the urge to do the "armful drop"of books into the shopping cart.

These points bring me to the main topic of the post: 2012 Challenges. I'm joining up in several to both support the bloggers and keep myself on track. I think they fit within my guidelines and what I had in mind for the new year.

2012 TBR Reading Pile Challenge

Hosted by Evie at the Bookish Book Blog. This challenge is probably the most important one for me this year. I feel horrible when a book sits on my shelf and I do not get around to reading it. So, for this reason, I am promising myself that I WILL resolve this and hit my shelves before I hit the book store. (Another aspect as to why this is going to be difficult for me, I love buying books!) I'm going for at least "Sweet Kiss", but hopefully I'll be able to do better.


The Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge promotes reading in general. Choose an amount of books to set as "to be read" this year. I chose 50 last year and beat that by topping out at 67. I set this year's as 75. I think I will beat that as well, but it is impossible to say what the year will bring for me.

The 2012 Debut Author Challenge

Kristi at The Story Siren is hosting this one once again. I am going to aim for the required 12 books in this one.

The 2012 Young Adult Reading Challenge

This one is an automatic one, right? The Eclectic Bookshelf is hosting this one. Since I'm holding myself to the challenge of 75 books this year, I'm aiming for the "Mega-size" in the challenge.

2012 Ebook Challenge

Hosted by Workaday Reads and should be a shoe-in for me. I've had a lot of luck with galleys and friends' Nook "lend-me" system that I think I can at least knock out a "CD" level of 10 this year.

2012 Sensational Seconds Challenge

Stemming from the higher amount of debut books I read in 2011 are a solid string of "second" books in those series' in 2012. Reading in the Corner is hosting it and has a great list for participants to get them started. I think I can pull off the "level 4" of 13+ books, but that makes me a little antsy. Oh well, I'm going for it anyway!

So yeah, that's what I have in mind for this year...and the post is ONLY a week late, right? LOL