Always forever maybe book cover

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Everneath by Brodi AshtonEverneath (Everneath, #1) by Brodi Ashton
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 24th 2012
Pages: 370

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen.

Everneath is a captivating story of love, loss, and immortality from debut author Brodi Ashton.

I’m writing this review, directly after finishing Everneath. The first thoughts that popped into my head were “OMG” and “WOW” (note the all caps). Saying I just liked Everneath, would be a lie. Saying I loved Everneath would be but the tip of the iceberg of my feelings towards this remarkable book. Much like Cole and Nikki’s predicament (which you’ll learn about), I want some smoky, shadow figure to latch Everneath and myself together so we never have to be parted. I am truly that bound to this book, it’s story and most importantly, it’s characters.

Our main characters, Nikki, Cole, and Jack, are so lush, vivid, and three dimensional. The further I got through the story, the deeper a connection, I felt for all three. Although I loved each character, I felt an extra tug on my heart-string for Cole. It’s easy to hate Cole. It’s easy to blame him for Nikki’s situation; because after all, he is responsible. However, I also found that it was easy to really feel for him. Cole is an everling which means he’ll live forever. Providing that every 100 years he slurpies the energy out of a willing individual, leaving his immortality intact and simultaneously draining the life of the individual. This type of living for ever isn’t really “living” at all. See, everlings can’t feel, or at least aren’t supposed to be able to feel. However, there’s no doubt in my mind, no matter how miniscule, that Cole feels a type of connection to Nikki. Although he’s mostly out for himself, I truly believe that there’s a part of Cole that remains true and pure. A small part that’s human-like, loving. One thing (among many others) that Ms. Ashton did, was write a multi-faceted and deeply layered villain. Not only does this make the world within Everneath shades of grey vs. black and white, it also lets us believe that redemption is possible.

Everneath is truly one of a kind. Besides it’s incredibly rich and unique plot, Ms. Ashton tells the story in a new and refreshing way. In the beginning of the book we catch a small glimpse of Nikki in the underworld (Everneath), right before she is returned home. Then throughout the book we watch as she tries to fit back into to her old life. As the story progresses not only do we follow present day Nikki, we also get glimpses at past Nikki. What you have to know is that although gone for 6 months in above-ground time, she has actually been in Everneath for a hundred years as calculated by below-ground time. Instead of dumping all of the information and facts from Nikki’s life, previous to her underground descent, as we read the story, here and there we get a peek at events that occurred before she vanished. There are two countdowns in the book. In the flashbacks it’s the countdown till “the feed” which is the term used for getting one’s energy sucked out in Everneath. The second countdown is till recently ascended Nikki, who although gets to go home for 6 months, must return to the Everneath after the 6 months are up. It’s a bit confusing, and I’m sure my explanation doesn’t help much, but trust me it’s easy into the groove once you start reading. It is also quite enjoyable when you fully comprehend the creativity that went into weaving the story.

The majority of the book features Nikki trying to find a way to say goodbye to those she left behind the first time around, mainly her boyfriend Jack, best friend Jules, and her father and little brother, Tommy. Now this is where I talk about why I gave Everneath 4 stars instead of 5. Every part me wanted to give in and give it 5 but I just couldn’t because there is one part of the book that felt off to me. Although Jack plays a bigger role than Nikki’s father and brother, the synopsis, along with Nikki’s words in the beginning of the book conveys that Nikki had returned from Everneath for just six months to get out her real “good-byes”. The ones she didn’t and couldn’t give the first time around. However, throughout the book it was almost like her father, and especially little brother, didn’t exist. I understand that the focus wasn’t really on them, but they were her family and I would have liked to see them more. Nikki had this connection with them that I never really saw nor felt. It’s my one hope that in future books their characters are utilized a bit more.

Besides the small quip I just mentioned, I’m completely head over heels for Everneath. The world Ms. Ashton created is vast and original, brimming with mythology and emotion. Although she starts off in a weakened state, Nikki fully grows and strengthens throughout the book. She comes to realize the mistakes and bad decisions of her past, and puts plans in motion to rectify what little she can. Everneath is roller-coaster of emotion. At times it was despairing, yet always promising that on the horizon there would be hope. There is plenty of romance, although hesitant and heartbreaking it’s there, shining brightly.

Always forever maybe book cover

Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy #1) by Anna Banks

Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy #1) by Anna BanksOf Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy, #1) by Anna Banks
Published by Feiwel & Friends on May 22nd 2012
Pages: 324

Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma's gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom...

Told from both Emma and Galen's points of view, here is a fish-out-of-water story that sparkles with intrigue, humor, and waves of romance.

While reading Of Poseidon I kept asking myself the same question, over and over again. “Why on earth is this the first time I’m reading a book about merfolk?!!” Vampires, witches, werewolves, shapeshifters, ghosts, and aliens, been there–done that. But this is the first time I’ve sought out and read a story with mermaids. Except, in Of Poseidon these partial fish-people are referred to as Syrena and actually don’t particularly take kind to being called mermaids (quick tip).

Galen, besides being an unbelievably attractive specimen, is also a Syrena prince. These two elements plus his kind and protective nature makes him a dangerous triple-threat to both Emma and the readers alike. I instantly liked Galen. You hear prince and you immediately think privileged and possibly over-indulged. But that wasn’t the case. Although he is a Syrena prince who is a. expected to hate humans because he’s Syrena and b. expected to be overly snobbish because of his royalty, Galen comes out surprisingly warm and compassionate. Unlike many of his fellow Syrena, he’s capable of making human connections and quite literally, friends. Although hes’s very unlike other Syrena, that doesn’t mean it comes easy. I found that the majority of my favorite parts of this book revolved around Galen learning about “human ways”. The conversation below takes place between Galen and his best friend, subject, and fellow Syrena, Toraf.

“Jackass,” Galen mutters.
“Jackass? What’s a jackass?”
“Not sure. Emma called me that today when she was irritated with me.”
“You’re insulting me in human-talk now?”

Because of a tip he received from a friend, Galen is scouring the beaches in Florida, desperately seeking out a girl who may have the ability to communicate with fish. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I first read that a mermaid Syrena was seeking out a girl who may or may not be a fish whisperer I was kind of confused. Although I’d never read any other mer-centric books, I’d always just assumed that communicating with undersea creatures was a mer-speciality. Nope. Apparently it’s not as rare a gift as one would think. Then there’s Emma. Although a Jersey Shore resident, Emma is vacationing in Florida with her best friend Chloe when she runs into Galen. Literally. She smacks right into his shirt-less and of course, majorly chiseled chest. This first meeting followed by, as the synopsis says a “deadly” shark encounter, sets up the beginning of a humorous, thrilling, sizzling, and at times heartbreaking story that had me fervently turning the pages.

I found that this book had a lot of great things going for it. It had a mix of fabulous characters, all jumping off the page with their own quirky and unique personalities. The folklore and history surrounding the Syrena was rich and incredibly interesting. Sometimes in supernatural books, the author’s explanations for “why” and “how come” and “how it came to be” falls on the unbelievable side. However, this is not the case with Of Poseidon. I found the details and back story of the Syrena, where they’ve been and how they continue to be, extremely solid and believable, within the world Ms. Banks has created. Everything just “belonged”. With 5 out of 5 stars I CANNOT wait for the next installment. Not only was there a heck of a cliffhanger; I need more Galen.

Always forever maybe book cover

Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

Carrier of the Mark by Leigh FallonCarrier of the Mark (Carrier, #1) by Leigh Fallon
Published by HarperTeen on October 4th 2011
Pages: 342

Their love was meant to be.

When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. After growing up in America, she's surprised to find herself feeling at home in her new school. She connects with a group of friends, and she is instantly drawn to darkly handsome Adam DeRÍs.

But Megan is about to discover that her feelings for Adam are tied to a fate that was sealed long ago—and that the passion and power that brought them together could be their ultimate destruction.

I’m going to go right out and say it: I was very disappointed with Carrier of the Mark. I admit, perhaps I went into this book with too high of hopes, but I had good reason to. A good chunk of reviews that I came upon praised this book and it’s unique story.

Basically, I’d been craving to read this book. The synopsis promised romance, mysticism, and adventure–all taking place in the beautiful rolling hills of Ireland. For once, our main character was going to arrive at a new place and instead of feeling like an outsider, immediately find their niche. Our male lead was going to be scorching hot and mysterious (just how I like ‘em). All these plot-building ingredients were going to be mixed into a bowl in order to make one yummy dessert. Unfortunately when the timer went off and the creation was complete, it was not the satisfying treat I had hoped it would be. Carrier of the Mark had started out with great characters and an imaginative plot–all taking place in a richly historical and magical place. I may have finished this book in a quick fashion, but I never truly felt satisfied. I felt it started out with so much potential, and like a souffle, once out of the oven, fell completely flat.

Besides certain paranormal aspects that I’ll keep on the D.L. so as to not spoil a big reveal, a good chunk of this book surrounds Megan and her romantic attachment to Adam. This particular part of the plot annoyed me to no end because it was one of those insta-love cases. From the beginning these two had an intense connection that they couldn’t control. Throughout the book they try to figure out if the love between them is real or only fabricated by the “connection”. This is a small spoiler… but at one point they end up declaring that their love is real, regardless of the connection. I’m sorry but I just don’t like nor believe in insta-love like this. I don’t think it’s possible to truly, deeply, and madly be in love with another person who you’ve never met or only known for a couples weeks — to a month. I had hoped that it would be revealed that this “connection” was playing with their emotions, and as time progressed they’d get to know each other and truly fall in love. However, Megan and Adam foolishly pronounce that regardless of the connection they’ve been in love since the beginning. I don’t find this plausible or real.

The insta-love wasn’t the only bone I had to pick with this book. Like many others I couldn’t help but notice the blatant similarities between this book and Twilight. Although it was a different location and type of supe the family/friends dynamic was the same along with the general plot. It took me a little bit to catch on but once I did I could pretty much predict what was going to happen.

Always forever maybe book cover

Hallowed (Unearthly #2) by Cynthia Hand

Hallowed (Unearthly #2) by Cynthia HandHallowed (Unearthly, #2) by Cynthia Hand
Published by HarperTeen on January 17th 2012
Pages: 248

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.

Hallowed is the second book in Cynthia Hand’s wonderful Unearthly series. Without a doubt these books have risen up in my own personal rank of all-time favorite book series. I thoroughly enjoyed reading book one, Unearthly and am confident in saying that book two has gone above and beyond my wildest expectations. I wasn’t necessarily worried that book two would be bad; I just didn’t think that I’d end up loving Hallowed as much, or even perhaps more than it’s predecessor.

Hallowed picks up exactly where Unearthly left off, with Clara’s dream (in the beginning of book one) coming true, at least for the most part. She now has to deal with the outcome and soon-to-be consequences of the decision she made at the end of Unearthly. Clara, being of angel-blood, has been forced to live a double-life for the past few years. By day she’s a normal teenage girl dealing with school, homework, and boys. However by night she’s a flying-praticing, gym-bag-weight-lifting, angel-blood who’s dedicating her time to an important mission that she barely understands.

In their teen years, angel-bloods, such as Clara, are given what’s called a “purpose”. Each AB’s (angel-blood) purpose is a personal mission sent from a higher place, that which is meant to be fulfilled during a AB’s time on earth. Depending on which direction they take, AB’s wings which start out pure white can become anywhere between speckled with grey to full-on black. Those who reject their purpose become what is known as black wings otherwise known as fallen angels.

I wont give too much away, but Clara’s purpose didn’t exactly happen the way it was meant to in the last book and now Clara and her family are paying the consequences. Clara’s mom, and brother both seemed to be hiding some very massive secrets in book one, and I’m glad to say that we finally figure out what’s going on in book two. One of the things I love about Hallowed so much, is the connections Ms. Hand has interwoven. Some key elements that occurred in book one help pull the story together in book two and left us satisfied with the answers to are most-burning questions.

Like with Unearthly, Hallowed begins with Clara dreaming/having a vision of a future event that will come to pass in one way or another. Once again it’s up to Clara to dissect her various dreams in order to prepare for what her future holds.

When I reviewed Unearthly I declared myself as a TEAM TUCKER fan girl. However, as the chapters progressed in Hallowed I found myself really warming up to Christian. We learn that Christian and Clara are incredibly similar in quite a few ways. Through rough and emotional patches (and there’s a lot) Christian really steps up. Christian’s presence fills Clara with a type of security that she desperately needs throughout the novel. There are also a couple testosterone-filled scenes between Christian and Tucker where I was rooting for Tucker to punch Christian’s lights out. Which is another reason why Hallowed was so good. I love being entirely submersed in books to the point in which I can experience a character’s emotions.

When it comes down to it – did I like Hallowed? Nope. I LOVED it! It was an emotional roller coaster. Sometimes I found myself laughing while other times I wanted to cry. Some of the burning questions I had were answered and like most good novels, a couple more were created. Needless to say I’ll be going through hellish-despair while enduring the wait for book three.

Always forever maybe book cover

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly by Cynthia HandUnearthly (Unearthly, #1) by Cynthia Hand
Published by HarperTeen on January 4th 2011
Pages: 435

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.

Unearthly piqued my interest a few months back when it’s gorgeous cover graced my Amazon homepage. However, I didn’t actually get around to purchasing it until Epic Reads offered it as a Epic Deal a couple weeks ago. When I first began Unearthly it was roughly 11 at night. I had planned on reading for about a hour and then heading to bed. I was seriously mistaken. I was barely 2 chapters in when I became instantly hooked. It has all the good characteristics I look for in books, it had nice pacing, well-developed characters, great dialogue, and of course, an interesting plot.

I give high praise to Cynthia Hand for creating and displaying Unearthly’s character with such vivid detail. All of the characters have a way of leaping off the page and enticing me to read on. For instance, Clara, our main character and heroine is extremely likable. She’s very sassy and fun. I just love reading the interaction that takes place between her and her mother. I became so captivated with this book to the point in which at certain times I was almost jealous of the great relationship they have. Although there are plenty of secrets Clara’s mom has yet to divulge, you can tell that they are extremely close, regardless. Also, the conversations between mother and daughter are a joy to read. They range from completely serious to giggly-fun.

Now you can’t have a story about a teen girl trying to fulfill her destiny without some romantics mucking things up. Luckily for Clara, she’s got two cuties to crush on. There’s Christian the gorgeous and slightly mysterious guy, and Tucker the small-town and complete swoon-worthy boy. (Note: I’m a complete Tucker fan girl.) Towards the end of chapter 14 Tucker is talking about a lemon meringue pie, and that’s when I realized that the whole time I had been reading Unearthly my mind was reading Tucker’s lines with a southern-drawl. That realization was hilarious, and what I mean about great characters. When you can get such a clear picture of them in your mind you know you’re reading something special.

All in all I am eagerly awaiting the sequel, Hallowed because I must find out what happens next with all my favorites characters. Like a good author, Cynthia Hand has left us with a cruel cliffhanger, however I won’t have to wait too long because Hallowed has actually just been released. You can expect my review on book two sometime next week!