“Unearthly” Cynthia Hand

Unearthly, book #1. Harper Teen. 2011. 435 pp.

UnearthlyThose of you who have been following my blog for the past year and a half know how much I dislike series books. It seems like it’s impossible to find a stand alone book these days, with publishers pushing authors to come up with books that can get subdivided into parts 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3 and more. It is definitely a money making scheme, resulting in many shoddily written books as authors strive to keep dragging out or inventing action that could have easily ended with book #1. I hate having to wait years and years for sequels, so have banned myself from reading series books unless they meet the criteria I’ll mention a little later in this post.

On the other hand, there are well written books readers love to see continued, as we get involved with the characters and want to read more about them. Those kinds of books are few and far between but when they come they are great reads. However, it still frustrates me when authors wait 2 or more years to write a sequel. If an author insists on writing a series, the least they could do is to publish a sequel every year and then end it in a reasonable time, rather than drag it on ad nauseam.

Thus, I reached a compromise on series books that works for me. I refuse to start reading a new series, for the reasons mentioned above, but can be convinced to read an older series as long as I have ALL the books in front of me. The “Unearthly” series blurb caught my eye when I was at the library the other day. With books #1 and #2 readily available, and book #3 coming on interlibrary loan, I decided to give “Unearthly” a whirl.

Sixteen-year-old Clara, her younger brother and mother relocate to Wyoming from California because of her visions. In them, she is saving someone from a forest fire. Since the vision keeps repeating itself, her mother is convinced it’s her Purpose in life to save this stranger, thence their relocation. Normal people wouldn’t relocate for such a strange reason, but Clara and her family aren’t normal. They’re angels. She’s just a quarter angel, still figuring out how to fly, but an angel nonetheless.

The person she’s supposed to be saving turns out to be Christian, one of the hottest guys at school. Clara is sure she’s found her place in life until she starts to fall for Tucker, her friend’s brother. Now she’s totally confused and not sure what her Purpose really means. Time is running out, and Clara will have to make a decision that will affect the rest of her life.

I loved the action in “Unearthly,” and felt Clara’s pain as she was torn between the two loves of her life. The angel feud between good and bad hinted at by the author shows there’s going to be lots afoot in the sequel besides the obvious love triangle. I am totally Team Tucker, and can’t wait to see what happens next in book #2 “Hallowed.”

“Gates of Paradise” Melissa de la Cruz

“Blue Bloods,” Book #7. Hyperion. 2013. 355 pp.

GatesofParadiseWhile Schuyler and Oliver desperately try to find out as much information as they can regarding the Gate of Paradise, Mimi and Jack face their greatest challenges. Lucifer is determined to lead his army into Paradise, so tasks them to destroy the greatest loves of their lives; Mimi must kill Kingsley while Jack must kill Schuyler. If they fail, everyone they hold dear will die. If they succeed, their bond will be broken but they will have no one left to love.

Meanwhile Bliss, Lawson and the wolf pack continue their search for passages that will lead them to Hell. Gabrielle laid the burden of bringing the wolves to the Gate upon her, but no matter how hard they search all roads lead to dead ends. It seems as if Lucifer will succeed on all counts, as Kingsley’s brave Venators and entire covens of Blue Bloods succumb to his army. Soon there will be no one left to fight against him and Paradise will be his for the taking.

“Gates of Paradise” is full of action, adventure, battles and surprises. Fourteen and older De la Cruz fans followed her characters for seven years, and will be hard pressed to find an alternative read now that the series is complete. Her “Wolf Pact” series, released as an ebook in 2012, is strongly referred to throughout the book so readers who have not yet read it might want a “go.”

“Bloody Valentine” Melissa de la Cruz

“Blue Bloods,” Book #5.5. Hyperion. 2010. 147 pp.

BloodyValentineThree short stories tell the behind-the-scenes events leading to Gabrielle first meeting Ben, how Oliver was healed from being Schuyler’s familiar, and Schuyler and Jack’s bonding.

Obviously book #5.5 was a “space saver” to cure delirious fans awaiting book #6 in the series. It’s not necessary to have read it before reading the next book in the series, but is a quick read for 14 and older fans.

“Lost in Time” Melissa de la Cruz

“Blue Bloods,” Book #6. Hyperion. 2011. 342 pp.

LostInTimeAll the vampire covens around the world are in shambles. The New York coven is the only survivor, as all have been destroyed by the Silver Bloods. Desperate to find the hidden Gate of Promise to protect it from Lucifer’s assault, and secure the survival of the Blue Bloods, Jack and Shuyler continue to encounter multiple resistance. It seems the Silver Bloods have prepared much better than the Blue Bloods had expected, leaving Jack and Schuyler to face more adventures than they had planned. With each passing day, the Croatan’s power over the Red Bloods increases, while Blue Bloods continue to rapidly disappear. It seems Jack and Schuyler are fighting a losing battle.

In the meantime, Mimi is having adventures of her own. Desperate to be with Kingsley, she has entered into a bargain to bring him back to the world of the living. However, to do so, she will have to descend into the inner circles of hell. Oliver’s growing friendship for her has brought him alongside for the journey, but neither have any idea of the difficulties that await them nor know that this trip will cost them both dearly.

Finally, De la Cruz  allows readers to get the inside story from Allegra herself as she travels back in time to recount her doomed love affair with Ben while revealing the story of what transpired long ago between her and Charles Force.

This new addition to the Blue Bloods series answers multiple questions from earlier books while being darker and containing more urgency than the others. Readers 14 and older will run to read the last book in the series “Gates of Paradise” to see how De la Cruz ties up all these life stories as time is running out for Jack, Schuyler, Mimi, Oliver, Allegra, Charles and all vampires.

“The Van Alen Legacy” Melissa de la Cruz

“Blue Bloods,” Book #4. Hyperion. 2009. 369 pp.

VanAlenLegacyIt has been a year since Schuyler’s grandfather, Lawrence, was killed by Leviathan. She and Oliver have fled from New York, because the Coven believe her to be responsible for his death. Wandering aimlessly throughout Europe, her only hope is to seek sanctuary from the European Coven. While awaiting a meeting with their leader, she is betrayed by the Silver Bloods but, with Jack Force once more by her side, manages to escape.

Upon returning to New York, she finds the Coven in shambles. Michael has disappeared, along with Charles Force. Bliss is almost totally possessed by Lucifer, Mimi is wrapped up in a secret romance with Kinglsey, while the Silver Bloods get stronger and more organized with each passing day.

Ultimately the plan for Schuyler to rescue the Coven is revealed. Only she has the power to do what no one else has been able to do, but it will come with a great sacrifice.

“The Van Alen Legacy” had much more action than the others in the series, however, the first few chapters were a little fuzzy since De la Cruz chose to leave a mysterious year gap and not quickly explain why Schuyler and Oliver were in Europe. I also found a bit of a discrepancy when it came to reading about the funeral of Bliss’ stepmother. At the end of Book #3, her father was described as stumbling out of the burning building holding his wife in his arms. Now, in Book #4, we read there was nothing left of her to bury and her casket was empty. Hmm. I doubt 14 and older readers of the series noticed this error but, since I’d just finished #3, it was fresh in my mind and I noticed.

Next up is Book #5 “Misguided Angel.”

“Revelations” Melissa de la Cruz

“Blue Bloods,” Book #3. Hyperion. 2008. 264 pp.

RevelationsSchuyler continues to ignore warnings from her grandfather Lawrence and Mimi of how dangerous it is for her to be with Jack Force. With his bonding to Mimi rapidly approaching, he will do anything he can to break it and stay with Schuyler while Mimi will have to kill him if he does…

Bliss continues to have unexplained blackouts and visions but is told they are part of her change cycle. she forgets about everything when Dylan turns up weak, but unharmed. Unfortunately, he has lost his memory and has no idea what they once meant to each other.

While Schuyler, Jack, Mimi, Oliver, Bliss and Dylan are tangled up in each other’s affairs, Silver Bloods continue to strike Blue Bloods. It is believed their strength lies in Rio de Janeiro, but lies and deceit surround any attempt to find them. It isn’t long before Schuyler finds herself involved in another battle for her life.

This third book in the “Blue Bloods” series is a little long winded with Jack and Schuyler’s relationship when it would be more interesting if it focused on more Blue/Silver Blood battles. However, it is still pretty good, and I’m curious to see what happens in book #4 “The Van Alen Legacy.” Readers 14 and older may feel the same way.

“Masquerade” Melissa de la Cruz

“Blue Bloods,” Book #2. Hyperion. 2007. 311 pp.

MasqueradeThe intrigue continues as half-blood vampire Shuyler and her human conduit friend Oliver are working overtime in Venice to find information to lead them to Lawrence, her grandfather and the only one who knows how to get rid of the Silver Bloods. The Committee still refuses to believe Silver Bloods have returned to complete the task they started centuries earlier – to kill all Blue Bloods. With her grandmother Cordelia’s last breath, she was told to find Lawrence so Shuyler won’t rest until she does.

Meanwhile, she still feels a strange attraction to handsome Jack Force, but his sister Mimi will not let him be corrupted by a half-blood vampire. She hates Shuyler, and will do anything to keep her away from Jack. Bliss’ blackouts are getting worse, and the strange dark creature with red eyes is consuming her with nightmares and whispers of her name. No one knows what will happen next, but all know that the Silver Bloods can’t be allowed to win this war.

Murder, jealousy, intrigue, fear, lust and power continue to fill the pages of this series, keeping readers aged 14 and older on the edges of their seats. Part 3, “Revelations,” is next in the series.