Classics: Pride and Prejudice

Image result for pride and prejudice bookFirst Lines: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

I am 27 years old.  I took every AP English class I could in high school, majored in English education in college (which was basically majoring in both English and education), and I’ve been teaching for just over 4 years.

I’d never read Pride and Prejudice until now.

What’s ironic is that it was my own prejudice against it that kept me from reading it.  I had acquired a distaste for classics when I was in high school after being forced to read Dickens and Ayn Rand repeatedly, not to mention everyone telling me 1984 was great (it wasn’t).  I just stopped trusting that classics were actually good.

On top of that, I was forced in college to watch Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley by some friends.  (They promised Moulin Rouge and didn’t mention P&P was going to follow it.)  And after watching it, I didn’t get it.  I even saw the play version of this last fall and still didn’t totally get it.  What was the big deal with this story?  Why did girls fawn over Mr. Darcy, who was clearly a jerk?  Why was everyone so ga-ga over this book?

But after reading it…I get it.  I’m not going to say it’s my favorite book ever and I want a P&P proposal (pfft, Harry Potter all the way), but I understand the hype.

But this is supposed to be a book review, not my life story. I was charmingly surprised by this book, to be honest. Elizabeth, Darcy, Bingley, and Jane were all delightful for their own reasons. Elizabeth wasn’t afraid to say what she thought if someone pushed her too far. Jane is incapable of seeing the bad in anyone. Darcy is somewhat shy and his reticence comes off as being disagreeable and proud. Bingley, poor Mr. Bingley, keeps getting sucked into plots of someone else’s making. It was kind of cute.

Let’s make it clear though: Mr. Darcy is not, in my opinion, a stud muffin.  However, I can see why he’s a famous romantic figure.  Darcy is the farthest thing from an alpha male I think I’ve ever read.  He’s arrogant at times, sure, but he’s patient and humble and caring when it comes to those in his inner circle.  He does what he thinks is best for others and admits when he made a mistake.  These are very attractive qualities for sure, and I can see why he’s gained the reputation he has.  He’s just not what I would want most.  Thank you for putting up with my short stud muffin rant.  (I’m sure that Jane Austen’s greatest wish was that Darcy be described as a stud muffin, and therefore, I will continue using the phrase.  You may continue cringing.)

Austen’s writing style can sometimes gets confusing to a modern audience, particularly dealing with who is speaking. I frequently noticed that when three people were in a room, sometimes I had no idea which of the three were talking. I’d get almost done with a very long paragraph and realize someone else was actually speaking.

But truly, Austen’s writing was much easier to understand and follow than I expected, based on other classics I’d read. It’s funny and not terribly intricate, but there are webs Elizabeth attempts to dodge. It was more character driven than plot driven, which slows things down a bit, but I had no problem sticking with the story. I remembered the movie/play well enough to vaguely know what was supposed to be coming next and I was fascinated to see what the differences were.

I’m actually rather impressed that this female-driven story did so well for itself at the time. (Not that women didn’t want representation in books–I’m sure they did!) I’m also impressed that the women are well-fleshed out. Not every woman is a likable character. Some have nothing going on upstairs, some are petty, some are vengeful. But on the flip side, there are other women who are the model of female virtue (of the time), women who are strong-willed but kind, women who only want the best for those around them no matter the personal cost. I’m impressed.

Having had so much success with this book, I think I may have to add other Jane Austen novels to my to-read list. I hear good things about Sense and Sensibility

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When We Caught Fire

Image result for when we caught fireFirst Lines: By morning the city had fallen.  We had not seen the sky in a long time, even the sky was made of fire.  The State Street Bridge was impassable, they said.  The Rush Street Bridge, too.  The streets were littered with objects that had once seemed valuable enough to carry, but now lay abandoned.

Y’all, it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say this, but I got my hands on some ARCs!  I’m super excited to spend the next few months mixing them in with all the other books I have!  This one does not officially release until October 2, 2018 (so, you know, 1.5 more months).  I was interested to see what Anna Godbersen had in store for this historical fiction about the Great Chicago Fire.

It’s 1871 and Emmeline Carter could just about be described as a Chicago Princess.  With her father’s sudden wealth and her recent engagement to Chicago’s most eligible bachelor, the world is all laid at Emmeline’s feet.  But Emmeline can’t stop thinking about the life she left behind in one of Chicago’s poorer neighborhoods and her first love, Anders Magnuson.  Fiona Byrne, Emmeline’s best friend, is thrilled with Emmeline’s societal rise–especially because it means Fiona can pursue Anders herself.  But when Emmeline risks everything for a final fling with Anders, Fiona can’t help but feel betrayed.  As summer turns to fall, friendships and hearts may just go up in flames.

When I was younger, Godbersen’s The Luxe series was what got me interested in historical fiction. I will always have a soft spot for that series, which taught me so much.

I don’t want to undersell this because it’s actually a decent story, but I struggled at times.  It was just…sometimes it was too over-the-top.

The setting is really awesome. I loved that it was set in Chicago, a town that has a rich and unique history of its own. Chicago was a boom-town in the mid-1800s and it was full of immigrants looking for a better life. This blend of people brought an interesting quality to the story, especially given that it acknowledges the rampant prejudice also present at the time. (The Irish are the focus here, though admittedly the racism is not the story’s focal point.)

Anyway, the history surrounding the Great Chicago Fire was fascinating, especially since I didn’t know about the days leading up to it.

What could have used a little more work were the characters and the plot. Neither is inherently bad by any means, but they just weren’t molded as well as they maybe could have been. The plot feels overly melodramatic, with everything feeling life-or-death, especially when it isn’t actually. It subsequently makes the actual life-or-death events feel less dramatic, in a Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf kind of way. And the characters were just kind of ho-hum. It didn’t feel like there was any real emphasis on getting to know them or feeling what they were feelings, especially when their feelings sometimes flipped like a switch. I wish there had been more to dive into their personalities.

There are some interesting surprises along the way, things to keep you guessing. It’s worth checking out if you’re a history buff (Godbersen also has a very interesting author’s note at the end about her research), but be prepared that it’s more about the teenage drama than the historical drama.

Compare This! Mortal Instruments VS. Infernal Devices

Hey everyone!  Let’s not pretend you didn’t know this was coming, since I talked about Cassandra Clare on Tuesday.  I figured it was worth it to take a look at these two incredibly popular series.

The only hesitation that I had about doing this was that it’s been the better part of a decade since I’ve read either of these series.  I’m nervous about what I do/do not remember, but I enjoyed both of these series very much when I first read them.  They were the kind of books that I was waiting impatiently for the next book to be released.

So let’s get started, shall we?

The Mortal Instruments series

vs.

The Infernal Devices series

Image result for the mortal instruments

The Mortal Instruments

Synopsis (of City of Bones): When fifteen year old Clary Fray heads out to a New York club, the last thing she expects to see is a murder–much less one committed by teens covered in strange tattoos and the dead body disappearing literally into thin air.  It’s hard to call the police when everything is invisible.  This is Clary’s first run-in with Shadowhunters, a group of warriors tasked with ridding the world of demons.  Within 24 hours of meeting this group, her mother is kidnapped and Clary is attacked by a demon.  Why are they interested in Clary?  That’s what she’d like to know.

Pros:

  • This series is a great mix of so many genres.  It’s urban fantasy with romance with mystery and drama and humor, among others.  As long as you’re decently ok with urban fantasy, you can find something else to love about this series.
  • The books are utterly captivating.  You will have a hard time putting the books down.  It’s totally worth the hype.
  • The characters and plot are both delightfully complex.  You will have no idea where the story will go next, but you’ll also be drawn in by the well-written characters.  Even the most happy-go-lucky characters have a dark backstory and the most inane minor character still has personality.
  • Some of the quotes from this series are among my favorite, both for being words of wisdom and for being absolutely hysterically funny.

Cons:

  • I’m a bit upset by the fact that this was supposed to just be a trilogy and that it’s been extended into like 6 books.  (I haven’t read past the 3rd because I thought it was done.)
  • The plot can sometimes/often be so complex that it feels like a soap opera.  The longer you stick with the stories (here’s looking at you City of Glass), the more it feels really melodramatic.  There are some twists that eventually just feel weird.
  • Along with the previous point, sometimes I feel like there’s too much going on at one time.  It can be overwhelming to remember minor characters between all of the books, remember who’s supposed to be where and doing what, etc.  There’s A LOT.

Image result for the infernal devices

The Infernal Devices

Synopsis (of Clockwork Angel): It’s 1878 and Tessa Gray dives into the dark London supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother.  Soon, Tessa discovers that her only allies are Shadowhunters, including Will and Jem, two boys she’s drawn to.  Soon, they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a group of supernatural beings determined to take over the British Empire.  Tessa and her friends may be the only ones who can stop them.

Pros:

  • I loved that it combined all the elements of the Mortal Instruments genres (urban fantasy, romance, mystery, etc.) with historical fiction.  Historical fiction gave it a new edge that the previous series didn’t quite have.  This was also one of the earliest YA examples of steam punk, as far as I know.
  • Again, very complex plot and characters.  However, perhaps unlike TMI, the character development amps up the longer you read the series.  The plot is consistently complex the whole time.  And that’s not a bad thing.
  • This series nailed the ending.  Give it a 10 from the Russian judges, because that dismount was perfect.  It’s not often I say that a series wraps up well, and this totally did.

Cons:

  • I felt like the characters were more abrasive in this series.  Whereas in TMI, the characters were mysterious while being endearing, it takes a lot longer to reach that “endearing” point with a number of these characters.  Even the love interests are almost unlikable at times.
  • There’s a very…odd…love triangle.  I’m going to just leave it at that.
  • There’s a lot in this series that can bog down your reading.  There are multiple languages used (including Welsh, Chinese, and Latin) which slows down reading speeds.  But there’s also jumping narrators that can keep you from feeling invested in some of the characters because it all happens so rapidly.

 

My Winner: Ugh, do I really have to pick?  Fine.  The Infernal Devices

Why?  I’m not going to lie, at least a portion of this pick boils down to two things: 1) I remember it better than TMI because I’ve read it more recently and 2) I really really love historical fictions.  Tessa and Clary are fairly comparable when it comes to how much I like each of them, and while I liked the romance a smidgen better in TMI (it’s close), I just liked the way TID was crafted better.  I think since it was Clare’s second series, she’d learned from mistakes she’d made in the first series.  It reads better, even if it takes longer to get going at times.

As usual, that’s not to say TMI is not good.  It’s bloody fantastic.  I enjoyed the humor in that series much more than the humor in TID.  Jace is the king of sarcasm and I will never forget that.

Maybe one of these days, I’ll go back and reread these series.  Perhaps my picks will change then.

What do you think?  Which series is better?  Also, is it worth reading the other books in the Shadowhunters world?  Leave comments below!

Caleb + Kate

Image result for caleb + kateFirst Lines: “Love is like death’s cold grip crushing the beats from an innocent heart.”  A ripple of muted laughter rolls through the girls around me, and I bite my lip to keep from joining them.

Y’all, I have a confession to make.  This book was on my to-read list on Goodreads since April 2010.  That’s nearly a full year before I started this blog.  Back then, I hadn’t even graduated high school yet.  Kids born in that particular month are probably starting 3rd grade right now.  I mean, Holy Hephaestus Batman, I probably should have gotten around to it before now.  Ugh, moving on.

As heiress to the Monrovi Inn hotel chain and one of the most popular girls in the junior class, Kate Monrovi has everything.  Money, friends, a life laid out in front of her.  And yet, Kate’s bored with life…until she locks eyes with Caleb at prom.  Caleb’s new to Kate’s prep school, and it’s obvious he doesn’t belong.  In fact, Caleb’s father works as a maintenance man at the hotel.  And while Caleb knows better than to spend time with the boss’s daughter, he can’t seem to pull himself away from her.  When their parents demand that they stay away from each other, they learn of a fight that happened between their families fifty years ago.  It’s a story Kate can’t comprehend, but one Caleb has lived with his whole life.  The world is pushing against them…can Kate and Caleb fight back?

So I was initially drawn to this book because it was a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet.  But also part of why it took me so long to read this is because it’s also labeled as Christian lit, a genre I generally try to steer clear of.  But I went for it anyway.

My real problem with this book was that it was utterly forgettable. There really wasn’t anything about it--at all–that I’ll probably remember about it in another year. The characters are relatively bland, the action is bland, and there isn’t a whole lot of any kind of emotion coming from the story.

Ok, like, the biggest crux of this story–and every Romeo and Juliet story, really–is supposed to be the family feud. Initially, I got behind this one. It wasn’t just a family feud so much as it was a social class difference (Kate’s parents own the hotel where Caleb and his father work) and a bit of a culture clash (Caleb and his family are Hawaiian, Kate and her family are white). With those differences, I was actually starting to get into the story.

But then like, the big family feud sort of just fizzles out. No one feels like they’re feuding anymore and it just sort of disappears. It was kind of a let down.

And all of the emotion of an epic love story I was expecting? Not there. I mean yes, they love each other and all that rah-rah, but none of that emotion translated from the page to my heart. It was more like the characters looked at each other and were like, “Oh, I think I love you,” rather than feeling butterflies in their stomach or the ache of being apart. That kind of thing. I suppose you could say it was more tell than show.

I was also disappointed in the characters. Things started out interestingly, what with Kate coming from an ultra-rich family and Caleb being the new kid in school, driving a motorcycle and being half covered in tattoos (which were explained as being part of his Hawaiian culture, so that made it ok…and that seemed like an odd thing to say). Anyway, they started off so very different and even though I knew they’d find their common ground, it was very sudden that all of their differences didn’t matter at all. Even Romeo and Juliet struggled more.

I want to touch briefly on the Christian lit aspect of this story. It wasn’t as prevalent as I thought it would be. It’s totally there, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the whole story. There were times where I felt it got a bit awkward when someone would reference Kate’s Christianity (“You’re a Christian, you have to forgive him,” with the implication being that the other person didn’t have to/was a worse person), but that was moderately rare.

I wish it was better. There was a lot of potential here, but I didn’t feel like it was executed as well as it could have been.

Top Ten Books to Try If You Like Cassandra Clare

Hey everyone!  So I was trying to think of another author spotlight to do a top ten list on, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t touched Cassandra Clare yet.  Her books were pretty much my favorite in high school.  (Admittedly, since Mortal Instruments was only supposed to be a trilogy, I stopped after those three books, so it’s been a looong time since I’ve read her work.)

That’s also why I was hesitant to do a list on her: I read Clockwork Princess in 2014 and that’s the last book of hers I picked up.  However, I still admire her writing style and I thought I needed to do this list.

So here’s what I admire about Clare.  Her writing is hysterically funny at times (looking at you, Jace Wayland and Will Herondale), she’s great at creating suspense and action that you’re emotionally invested in, and she does a fantastic job with world-building.  I mean, I’d even go so far as to say her world-building is on par with J.K. Rowling.  You completely believe everything she puts in front of you.

With those characteristics in mind, I created this list.  Enjoy!

Image result for cassandra clare books

Top Ten Books To Try If You Like Cassandra Clare

1. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Maureen is one of the funniest authors I’ve ever read.  She’s constantly throwing in comments that are so oddball, you literally laugh out loud.  And Rory is the best of Maureen’s characters.  This story is also amazing with its world building, particularly since it deals with killer ghosts and a secret police force tasked with getting rid of them.  It’s very easy to get sucked into this series.

2. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

I picked this series for a combination of reasons.  It’s historical (set in 15th century Brittany) while delving into paranormal/supernatural elements, which Clare also does with the Infernal Devices series.  There is great world building in this one, as well as a very complicated and intricate plot, which I really enjoyed.  This is perhaps one of my favorite series.  And also like Clare, even though this series was finished after 3 books, I recently discovered the author is writing more.  So there’s that too.

Image result for anna dressed in blood3. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

If you haven’t read this/heard of it, it’s the tale of a boy who kills ghosts and the ghost that exacts her revenge on every person who enters her house.  It’s dark and suspenseful, but also incredibly funny.  (Which isn’t a quality you normally associate with a tale of killer ghosts.)  Still, I found it to be delightful.

4. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

This is an oldie but a goody.  Much like Clary, Sophie recently discovered she has powers she didn’t know she possessed.  So she’s going to a special school to train up.  There’s a lot of action, some forbidden romances (which we all know Clare does well), and a heck of a lot of humor.  Hawkins is fantastic for the funnies.

5. Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

Ok, now I’m really throwing it back.  This is a tale of faeries, which includes some amazing world building, delightful characters, and a more than decent amount of well-timed humor.  I’ve read this series a few times in the last decade and it’s really good.  I know faeries are pretty well out of fashion right now, but if the book’s good…can you really turn it down?

6. The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

This one doesn’t have as much of the humor as many of these other books do, but it does have great world building and suspense.  I mean, everyone’s hunting a deadly monster in the countryside, one that can wipe out dozens of people at once.  Everyone’s freaked.  So yeah, action and suspense are good.  This was the kind of book I wanted to devour in one sitting.

Image result for paranormalcy7. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

If I’m not mistaken, this was White’s debut novel.  And it really highlights her personality, if you’ve come to love it as much as I have.  Evie has been raised in the paranormal world, so that’s not new to her.  But normal teenage life like going to school, driving a car, watching dramas on TV, all of that is new to her.  And it’s hysterical.  It’s cute, funny, and it has a lot of great action.

8. Sunshine by Robin McKinley

When I was scrolling through my past reads, I saw this one and spent a moment debating it.  It’s a vampire story, where Sunshine (the main character) is captured at the same time a very scary vampire is, and they need to rely on each other if they’re going to survive.  (In this book, vampires really are Big, Bad, and Scary.)  It’s not really funny, as I remember it, but the character development and world building is so good that I made comments about it.  And marked it as a favorite.

9. The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

There are many reasons why I think this is like Clare.  Lots of different supernatural beings/people with abilities, laugh-out-loud funny scenes, great character development, suspense, unknown baddies, etc.  It’s perhaps a little more juvenile in tone than Clare (I’m not totally sure why I feel this way, but it’s there), but I really enjoyed reading this series.  There were a lot of parts that I enjoyed reading.

Image result for some girls bite10.  Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill

I’m going to go Adult on this one, rather than YA.  Yes, I know vampires are more or less out right now, but this series is one of my favorites (at least, as much of the series as I’ve read so far.  I haven’t caught up yet.).  It’s hysterically funny, as Merit is a college student who is turned into a vampire to save her life and joins a vampire House (a bit like Hogwarts, but less based on personalities and more on who turned you).  World building is great because it’s based in Chicago and uses a lot of the landmarks, but there’s the supernatural world to deal with too.  I’m dying to reread this series soon.

(Um…upon looking at the finished list…a large number of these books came out the better part of 10 years ago.  Were we that much more sarcastic then?  Because a lot of the books coming out now lack that kind of humor, apparently.)

The Unique Blogger Award

Thanks to Sarah at Sarah’s Bookshelves, I’ve been nominated for something called The Unique Blogger Award (something I didn’t know existed until this moment).  I’m terribly flattered by this, especially because “unique” is one of my favorite adjectives, whether it’s used positively or negatively.  Because really, what’s wrong with being unique?  If someone has a problem with it, then that’s on them.  Whatever.

ANYWAY, Sarah posted some questions to go along with this, so I’ll take a moment to talk about that and then maybe a little about blogging itself.

1. If you could be given a second name, what would it be?

Well, I grew up Catholic, so I think I’ve already kind of done that.  See, Catholics are supposed to pick a Confirmation name (you get baptized as an infant, then at about 13, you reaffirm that you want to be a Catholic).   It’s supposed to be the name of a saint, typically based on what they represent or whatever.  I was obsessed with how names sounded, even then, so I wanted a pretty name.  I went with Katherine, the patron saint of just about everything (girls, libraries/librarians, educators, schoolchildren, and the more bizarre things like mechanics, milliners, tanners, and knife sharpeners).  As a 13-14 year old, I would go around writing Katherine, Kate, or Katie in my personal journals.  So I feel like I already picked my second name.  And I think I’ll stick with it.

2. What fictional character would you most like to meet in real life?

I wish I could say hands down it would be Hermione Granger.  And I would definitely be on-board with meeting her.  Can you just imagine getting coffee and just chatting about books with Hermione?  #HEAVEN  But that feels like too easy of an answer and I kind of want to give a better answer than that.  Although I suppose my other answer isn’t really any better.  I’ve been rereading books in the Outlander series lately, and I think I’d really like to meet Brianna Randall Fraser MacKenzie.  Of course I’d be all for meeting Jamie and Claire and Roger and Jenny and Ian (and others), but Bree, I feel, is the most like me.  I think we’d be fast friends, and that would be a lot of fun too.

3. How would you describe the “style” of your blog?

This is kind of difficult.  I mean, as for the actual presentation/layout style of my blog, I wanted something that was simple but cute and I think I’ve succeeded in doing that.  If you’ve been with me for a looong time, you may remember when my blog was blue (to match Belle’s village outfit), but I got tired of that and I think the current look is crisper.  I kind of hope that’s what this question means…

 

How To Make Your Blog Unique  — Wise Words from Auntie Holly

I’m on this weird kick right now of trying to be everyone’s aunt, so bear with me.  You’ll probably see it a lot.

I’m betting some of you, especially those of you who are new to blogging or are maybe going through a mid-blog life crisis, are wondering what you’re doing wrong with your blog.  Why aren’t you getting more views?  Why aren’t more people commenting?  Is your blog unique enough?

Y’all, I’m still asking myself these questions.  Every week.  When I post something new, I check it at the end of the day to see how many views it got.  Sometimes I’m surprised by how many it got (I’m weirdly impressed you guys are fond of classics) and sometimes I’m surprised by how few they get.  It happens.  You’re creating something and you want to see how others respond to it.

And the biggest point I can make here about having a unique blog is that you are creating.  This is something that should have a piece of you in everything it does.  My posts are based on things I like, the way I think, and the feelings I have.  I’ve tried keeping up with the Top Ten Tuesdays, as they are directed, and I can’t do it.  If it’s a topic I’m not passionate about or interested in, I’m not inspired.  The things I’m passionate about are the things I can write about.

For example, my recent Compare This! series was the brainchild of one day’s boredom.  I started thinking, “If someone asked me what books by this author to read, which one would I tell them to read first?”  That was it.  It struck me that I’ve read literally over a thousand books (probably closer to two thousand) in my lifetime and that someone else might want to know what I would recommend and why.

The key to having a unique blog is to BE UNIQUE.  (Insert minion “Whaaaaa?” here.)  How do you do this?  Write like you speak/think.  Write about what interests you–because odds are it interests someone else too.  (If I can find someone else who’s read and enjoyed a book called Putting Makeup on Dead People, you can find someone too.)

What does this look like, writing like you speak/think?  Just look back on the last 5-6 paragraphs I’ve written.  I’m referring to myself as Auntie Holly and asking y’all to bear with me through this phase in my life.  I’m referencing Minions and using sarcasm.  I’m creating weird phrases like “mid-blog life crisis.”  I don’t know about any of you, but I’m entertained reading things like this.  And when I’m entertained, it stands to reason that my audience is entertained too.  Even though they got me A’s, I would hate to go back and read the literary analysis essays I wrote in college because they don’t sound like me.  They followed a formula; they don’t have my voice as much as I would like to.

And in all honesty, it’s hard to know where to start.  I teach English and I have to drill into my students how to follow those formulas–because sometimes in writing, you need to have that formula.  Resumes, business letters, professional emails, even obituaries all follow writing patterns.  Patterns are easy.  But very few of them allow for much in the way of voice.  It can be hard to erase enough of that to feel confident sharing your words with the world exactly as they are in your brain.  Or to even know what that voice is trying to say.  My inner monologue is strong, but I know that not everyone’s is.  (Also, pro tip: EDIT.  Sweet Jesus, I’ve shortened and rewritten this post multiple times already because I start getting too far off topic.  And this is still the result.)

So the key to having a unique blog?  Be you.  Be creative.  Be passionate, whatever your topic is.  Be honest.

Stay weird!

~Auntie Holly

Compare This! Hush, Hush vs. Unearthly

Hey everyone!  So it wasn’t too long ago on Twitter I discovered they were turning Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick into a movie (Yes, a MOVIE) and I thought it would be a good time to take a look through some angel series.  They’re kind of classic, in that they never quite go out of style because religion never really goes out of style.  And I don’t know about you, but I’m always drawn to every person’s interpretation of angels.  They’re all so different while still retaining certain elements.

So back in the hey-day of angel series, there were really two that I felt like everyone was talking about/reading.  I decided to stick with those for this, but I have more in mind for a later post.  (Hint: warrior angels…so cool)

Alright, let’s get this party started!  Tally-ho!

Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick

VS.

Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand

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Hush, Hush

Premise: Nora Grey is fairly average, except maybe for the fact that she doesn’t have a whole lot of interest in the guys at school, especially the ones her best friend keeps throwing at her.  But when Nora meets Patch, she’s drawn to him, no matter how much she kind of knows she shouldn’t be.  When a series of terrifying events happen involving Patch, Nora doesn’t know if she should run from him or run to him.  He seems to know more about her than her best friend.  Either way, it’s too late.  Nora is caught in the middle of an ancient battle–and choosing the wrong side will cost her her life.

Pros:

  • I think the angel backstory in this is well done.  It’s a bit different, since it deals with fallen angels rather than angel-angels, but that means they’re that much more dangerous because they lack that fear.  So that was fun.
  • Near the end of each book, when the action really picks up, you’re going to have a hard time putting these books down and going to bed at a normal time.  Trust me.
  • There are some interesting twists in the story line, especially later in the series.  Let’s just say that the longer you stick with it, the more things get exciting.  More action, more plot twists, etc.
  • I was really into watching Nora grow as a person throughout the series.  She gets put through the ringer and she comes out so much stronger on the other end.  It was fascinating to watch that happen.

Cons:

  • Admittedly, the first book feels a lot like Twilight.  I mean, dangerous stranger she should stay away from, stranger rescues her from danger and pushes her away, etc.  Like, lots of similarities.  (But those similarities DO go away after about half of the first book and it becomes its own story.)
  • The Sequel Slump (where the second book feels incredibly melodramatic) is STRONG with this one.  It’s rare for me to start a book and not finish it, no matter how bad it is, and I did that with this one.  I put it aside, only to pick it up and finish it at a later date.
  • The plot can be overly convoluted at times.  There were times where a lot was thrown at us very quickly and I didn’t understand why even half of it mattered to the story.

Image result for unearthly series

Unearthly

Premise: Clara Gardner has recently learned she’s part angel.  Not only does that mean she’s stronger than humans, but she’s also given a purpose.  Her life has meaning.  The only problem is figuring out just what it is.  She has visions of a forest fire and a stranger standing in it.  These take her family to a new town and a new school, where she meets Christian, the boy from her dreams (literally).  At the same time, she’s drawn to a boy named Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.  In a world she no longer recognizes, Clara is faced with decisions she never thought she’d have to make and a choice between honesty and deceit.  When the fire finally ignites, will she be ready to face her destiny?

Pros:

  • I really enjoyed these characters.  Clara is funny and her struggle to discover what she’s supposed to do with her life was all too real.  Even if I’m not part angel.
  • The setting is interesting as well.  There aren’t a whole lot of books set in Wyoming, and I thought that was really creative, not to mention it opened the story up to a lot that I don’t normally get to read about.  (Horses, cowboys, huge forests and mountain ranges, etc.)
  • There are clever plot twists in the story and secrets revealed.  If I can’t see them coming, then they’re good.  And there were a few I certainly did not see.
  • I really liked that even though it is an angel series with like, actual angels (as opposed to fallen angels), it never felt like it was pushing religion on the audience.  It was part of Clara’s life, but even then it wasn’t like it was Everything.  (I have a problem with books that become preachy.)

Cons:

  • There’s a love triangle.  Sigh.  That’s the early 2010s for you.
  • From book to book, I had a hard time reconnecting with the characters.  You know how some books do a great job reminding you of who everyone is and things that happened in the previous books?  This is not that series.  So you either need to read them in close succession or just muddle your way through it.  Like I did.

 

My Winner: Unearthly

Why?  For whatever reason, I just got into this story more.  I think I related to Clara and Christian and Tucker more than I did Nora and Patch, perhaps in part because I think Clara is witty and funny.  Perhaps it was because the action felt more realistic to me and less like a soap opera.  Looking back through my previous notes and reviews, I had less to complain about with Unearthly and more notes about how quickly I got sucked into the story.  (Whereas Hush, Hush‘s notes were more along the line of, “I don’t get why…”)

As per usual, neither story is bad.  I finished each series and stuck with them for years.  But when put head-to-head, I felt like Unearthly had more to offer.

What are your thoughts?  Hush, Hush or Unearthly?  Let me know below!