‘The Eternal Ones’ – Kirsten Miller

“Haven’s eyes glanced up at the action. A tan, handsome young man slid out of a black Mercedes as camera flashes sparkled in the car’s windshield. For a moment, he stared back at the paparazzi, his face dark and unreadable. Then, unexpectedly, a corner of his mouth curled into a grin.

“Ethan,” Haven whispered. A blaze ignited at the tips of her toes. As it began to burn its way upward, Haven felt her knees buckle beneath her.” 

- pg. 8 of ‘The Eternal Ones’

The Eternal Ones Series falls under the category of supernatural romance entirely. But, it puts a unique twist on the old story, by picking a theme that’s as old and unexplored as the myth of vampires. This is reincarnation. 

Haven is an easygoing seventeen-year old girl designer with a gay best friend named Beau in a Southern town called Snope City. Beau’s a social pariah because of his openness about his sexual orientation in a conservative, homophobic town in Tennessee. Haven’s equally as shafted because she is believed to be the devil’s spawn for passing out whenever she has an ‘incident’. These incidents are actually visions, or memories of the last life she led as Constance, the sweet and rich New York girl madly in love with a man named Ethan.

She starts to discover her past bit by bit as she travels to New York City, following her glimpsing a man with a smile mysteriously identical to Ethan’s, on TV. It’s the smile of gorgeous and completely arrogant yet irresistible Iain Morrow, an actor under suspicion for killing an old friend. 

This is a captivating and extremely entertaining book. I couldn’t put the first one down. While The Eternal Ones doesn’t touch on any serious issues, Haven/Constance and Ethan/Iain’s romance is intriguingly dangerous, and very erratic. During the whole first book, Haven wars with what she’s been told by more than a few untrustworthy people, and her instinct and undeniable love for Iain. The identity of the villain is hard to pinpoint right away, but when it’s officially unveiled, it’s surprising, exciting, and more than a little creepy.

If you decide to read this book, and want more, the second book is just as charming, although it seems as though the author was desperate for a storyline, and kept adding unnecessary drama. But, if you’re dying to know what happens as much as I was, you won’t really mind! Check it out.

On a side note, I found something really cool when I was researching the book, wondering if the scarily corrupt and powerful New York reincarnation society in the book, the Ouroboros Society, was real. This is a fabricated (I think!) website for the Society, which Haven discovers she was a member of in her past life, and where everyone with exceptional talents due to having lived previous lives go, to be with others like them.

Link: http://www.ouroborossociety.com

 

           

 

Leave a comment »

‘Slide’ – Jill Hathaway

“I settle back into the chair and pull the blanket up to my chin. After a while, my eyelids start to droop. I shake my head, trying to wake myself up… Quickly, I take inventory of what I’m touching. Chair, blanket, clothes. So I could slide into anyone who’s sat in this chair recently… I feel myself falling to the floor… I’m in a bedroom – a girl’s bedroom, it looks like. The girl I’ve become cries as though someone ripped her heart in half. She sobs, clutching a lacy blanket, wiping her snot on it. Someone rubs her back. The pressure against her skin moves in circles, this way and that. It feels so good. It feels like everything I should have but don’t.

-       Page 39 of ‘Slide’

Vee Bell was diagnosed as narcoleptic soon after her mother died of cancer. But, unlike narcoleptics, Vee slides into the bodies of the people who had recently touched and left an emotional charge on something Vee was touching. Unable to tell anybody what’s going on at risk of them thinking she’s crazy, Vee hides what is both her power and a curse. It doesn’t affect her much other than a bump or two on the head when she falls asleep in a bad position, and some strange stares from classmates that don’t pay her any attention otherwise. It begins to affect her when she slides into the body of someone who has just murdered Vee’s younger sister Mattie’s best friend Sophie and who made it look like a suicide. Another murder is committed and Vee’s conviction that she must do something to prevent the next one increases. She slowly tries to piece together the crimes that everyone is either calling a suicide, or for which someone innocent is suspected.

As she attempts to solve the mystery, she finds it inexplicably linked to people that have caused her pain in the past. She was a cheerleader before becoming an alternative girl, after an incident on homecoming night led her to retreat socially with her best friend Rollins. Two girls that were murdered connect to the boy that changed Vee forever, and who made Sophie’s last hours that much more miserable.

With a crazy twist at the end, and a lot of sadness along the way, ‘Slide’ is intriguing, descriptively written, and very entertaining. Even though the special power plot line is getting a little tired, I’m always impressed when an author manages to make it unique. Jill Hathaway has done just that, and as a result, I would recommend ‘Slide’.

Leave a comment »

‘The Mockingbirds’ – Daisy Whitney

“There’s this trick I have on the piano. When I reach a section of music that totally trips up my fingers and mangles my confidence, I call on the experts. I put the score away, close my eyes, and imagine I’m in Carnegie Hall. There’s no audience, I’m not even onstage. I’m sitting in the first row next to Beethoven, Mozart, and Gershwin. It’s just the four of us. I tell them the problem. Then I wait patiently for their guidance. They’ve never failed me before… I present them with today’s quandary, only this one is of the nonmusical variety. What we have, gentlemen, is a girl who can’t remember her first time.

Alex went to a concert with her friends on a rare night when they were allowed to leave their boarding school, Themis Academy. She drank too much, and woke up in the bed of a fellow student she didn’t know or remember from the night before. Slowly, details of the night trickled back, and the horrible realization dawned on her that none of what happened that night had been her choice. She had said no to Carter, but he ignored her.

After confiding in her friends, they seek out a secret committee called ‘The Mockingbirds’, made up of students with a desire to replace the schools lackadaisical to nonexistent discipline system with a strict but fair arrangement. They act as a “for the students, by the students” kind of committee. The Mockingbirds help Alex to recover from the pain of being date-raped, and to move on from the all-consuming fear and distraction that followed, as well as working towards getting a confession and an appropriate punishment for Carter.

It was refreshing to read a book about a girl like Alex who didn’t act like a helpless victim. Unlike the meek and self-isolated character in the book ‘Speak’, which ‘The Mockingbirds’ has been compared to because of the similar teenage rape storyline, Alex takes matters into her own hands and asks for help. As a result, she’s able to work towards a normal life in which she can feel safe. I think this is an ideal model for girls who have experienced similar injustices. Isolation is not the answer. I appreciated that Alex was never alone throughout the process; someone was always supporting her.

The author of ‘The Mockingbirds’, Daisy Whitney, showed accurately and without reservations how quickly a rumor can spread through the grapevine, (true or untrue), as well as how cruel teenagers can be. I was shocked but in agreement with how oblivious adults sometimes can be to things going on right under their noses, even though they were teenagers once too. I think the idea that Themis’ students are assumed to be flawless and unable to inflict harm on one another is creative and mirrors a reality in normal high schools. There is a lot that happens in schools that never reaches the ears of those in power at the school, often to the detriment of those involved. While Themis’ disciplinary system without the student-run Mockingbirds could never fly in real schools, it is an exaggerated version of the reality of oblivious teachers.

While it’s not a cheery or particularly funny book, ‘The Mockingbirds’ is an important read. It’s well written, the concept is unique, and the characters are very likeable. It’s one of those books that you’ll be happy you read, because you come away feeling like you better understand how Alex and other date-rape victims feel as they deal with the consequences of a huge problem in our world.

Leave a comment »

‘Firelight’ – Sophie Jordan

“Baltic amber trapped in sunlight. It’s deceptive. My skin appears delicate, but it’s as tough as armor. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen myself this way. Too long since I’ve tasted sun on my skin”

-Page 4 of ‘Firelight’

 “I suck in a breath as the smolder dies from my lungs. We stare at each other for a lingering moment. He, a hunter. Me, a draki. Then, he’s gone.”

-Page 19 of ‘Firelight’

Firelight’s main character is spunky, brave, and slightly masochistic, with a healthy dose of girl-power. Her name is Jacinda, and she is a descendant of dragons, part of a species called “draki”, who vacillate between human and dragon form. They become dragons when fearful, angry, or experiencing other strong emotions. It is a very exciting, romantic, and entertaining book, with some small issues regarding originality that may irritate some readers.

As in many teen novels nowadays, there is a non-human main character whose strange creature tics pose problems for her when interacting with normal people. The unique aspect is the kind of creature she is, which is refreshing after reading so many vampire, werewolf, and even witch/wizard books. Sophie Jordan, the author, is amazing with description. The colours, patterns, and situations she paints are stunningly vivid. The story is very exciting, fantastical, and at times, also realistic. Jacinda’s family, since her father died and they were forced to flee their draki town, does not have a lot of money. They are forced to live in a crappy apartment and wear the same clothes often, adding a grounding aspect to her story. The Romeo and Juliet -with a bit more danger- forbidden romance between her and draki-hunter Will is sweet and fun to read.

If you did not like the Twilight series, you should probably not read it. A recovered former Twilight junkie myself, I loved it, but once I recognized the first similarity between the two books, every time I noticed another I made note of it and it annoyed me a little bit. Some examples of such similarities are that the boy she likes is excessively moody and possesses a dangerous quality. Despite this, and her knowledge that he is part of a family that hunts her species in the area, and came close to capturing her mere weeks before, she still likes him. Will, his creepy cousins, and their fathers go on “outdoor trips”, missing school to fish, camp etc., when they are actually hunting. Additionally, channeling the movie ‘Mean Girls’ and the show 90210, among many others, the only friend she makes, Catherine, used to be best friends with the “enemy”. Brooklyn, the evil girl, is not particularly significant in the story, occasionally making an appearance to threaten or be rude to Jacinda for getting the attention of the boy that Brooklyn likes, Will. Or, later in the book, Brooklyn attacks her in the bathroom, causing Jacinda to be suspended for accidentally utilizing her special draki skill in defense, which is to breathe fire.

Overall, if this storyline appeals to you, then I would recommend it because I definitely enjoyed it!

Comments (2) »

‘The Infernal Devices’ Trilogy – Cassandra Clare

“She drew on those memories now, tightening her grip on the ragged bit of pink fabric she held. She opened her mind and let the darkness come down, let the connection that bound her to the hair ribbon and the spirit inside it – the ghostly echo of the person who had once owned it – unravel like a golden thread leading through the shadows.”

- Page 30 of ‘Clockwork Angel’

One of the most entrancing series’ I’ve read is ‘The Infernal Devices’ trilogy, with the first two books available right now. The first book, ‘Clockwork Angel’ had me right from the beginning with its sympathetic protagonist, Tessa, a sweet seventeen year old girl from New York moving to Victorian London to find her older brother because she has no other family left. She discovers she has a hidden superpower once she arrives. I love books that show extraordinary things can happen to completely ordinary people just like me. Tessa’s unique magical power of shape-shifting when she touches an object that belongs to somebody else, sets it apart from other supernatural books that are all the rage these days, following Stephanie Meyer’s lead. Despite the Victorian England setting and all that comes with it, (think big dresses, hesitant women, and lots of tea), the two good-looking guys that compete for Tessa’s attention, (both are ‘Shadowhunters’ – protectors of the human race from demons), once she settles in London make for a familiar and entertaining addition to the story, grounding it and reminding us that even magical creatures fall in love J.

The antiquated ideas about women and their role in society are both frustrating and interesting. Tessa’s timidness can sometimes be irritating, like her unwillingness to fight for her life or that of people she loves in battle. But, in some ways this makes it more era-appropriate, when previously sheltered women could probably really never have imagined needing to injure or kill someone for survival. Watching her defy this mold of deferential women was entertaining and satisfying. The author perfectly captures the voice of witty and mischievous characters, especially the incredibly aggravating but amusing Will, and Tessa’s sassy retorts.

The action-packed, twist of an ending makes for an exciting, impossible to put down last 100 pages of the first book, as were basically the entire first and second books. The further vilifying of Will, one of my favourite characters, proves that happy endings aren’t always guaranteed in fairytales. I highly recommend picking up this series for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it’s one of those books where you find yourself thinking about the characters even when you’re not reading it, whether you’re walking your dog, showering, or even reading something else!

Leave a comment »

‘Variant’- Robison Wells

“I couldn’t believe it. A whole school full of people like me−no friends, no family. No one would notice that we were gone.” – page 22 of ‘Variant’

I’m officially back at school with two tests and a report! I wish I had more time to read, but I did get a chance to read the novel ‘Variant’, by Robison Wells that came out recently, and it was absolutely worth being my chosen book.

One thing I will recommend right off the bat, is: don’t get too attached to the characters! This is the same advice I would have given the main character Benson.  In the story he’s a 17-year old boy who has been in foster care since he was a child; he applies for a scholarship to a school called Maxfield Academy, in the desert of New Mexico. He’s excited for the opportunity to get out of Pittsburgh, and start a new life where for the first time in a long time, he hopes to make friends. And he does, but none of them are what he thought they were. Some are better, and some are much, much worse. One of his first impressions of the school is that the “gate in the wall wasn’t natural”; it “looked like thick, solid steel, and as it swung open, it glided only an inch above the asphalt. [He] felt like [he] was entering a bank vault” (pg. 4). There’s an extremely high fence, “topped with a spool of razor wire, like the kind on repo lots and prisons” (pg. 1). He soon discovers that the school has no teachers, no adults whatsoever, and no contact with the outside world. They’re trapped.

No one at the school ever seems to graduate, and students that get detention are never seen again.  There are only four rules to abide by: do not try to escape, refuse punishments, or participate in violent fights, and finally, don’t have sex. Student behaviour is monitored by security cameras throughout the school. All the students have jobs, which, since a violent war occurred at the school, are split up among three gangs. The first, ‘Havoc’, is made up of violent wannabe gangsters; they have the cafeteria and grounds keeping contract. ‘The Society’ are stuck-up, supposedly rule-abiding students, with a secret thuggish side, who have the most power at the school. They have the Academy’s trust, and the Security, Administration, Medical, and other contracts. Last of all, the Variants are kinder, less violent students, and many have a secret desire to escape. They have the janitorial and maintenance contracts. On his first day, Benson is forced to choose between these gangs, who, among other activities, have paintball games in which the losing team receives a punishment such as not being allowed any food for a couple of days.

At times, I found ‘Variant’ to be so suspenseful that I was constantly skipping pages to see if one of Benson’s enemies had finally had it with his controversial personality, and tried to off him. However, sometimes it felt as though Wells was adding details just for the sake of making readers edgy. As soon as Benson realizes how horrific Maxfield Academy is, his first thought is of escaping. His first impulsive attempt is immediately thwarted and he’s injured, but he continues to search for ways to get out with almost no attempt to be cunning.

I hope you check out this book, because it’s a really exciting read!

Comments (1) »

‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ Series- Jenny Han

“ I got out of the car and slung my bag over my shoulder. They didn’t even notice me walk up at first. But then they did. They really did. Conrad gave me a quick glance-over the way boys do at the mall. He had never looked at me like that before in my whole life. Not once. I could feel my flush from the car return. Jeremiah, on the other hand, did a double take. He looked at me like he didn’t even recognize me. All of this happened in the span of about three seconds, but it felt much, much longer.”

 

This trilogy beginning with the book ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty”, is the ideal summer read. It’s very sweet, romantic, and descriptively written. It takes place in a summer vacationing spot called Cousins Beach. Belly Conklin is a 16 year-old girl who has spent every summer as long as she can remember at Cousins with her brother Stephen, her mom Laurel, and Laurel’s best friend from her youth, Susannah Fisher. Susannah has two sons around Stephen’s age, Conrad who is a couple of years older than Belly and Jeremiah, who is about a year older. They stay in Susannah’s house, which is almost directly on the beach. It has a pool that Belly loves to swim in, particularly on nights when something is troubling her and she can’t sleep, which over the course of this series, is fairly often.

She is torn between the two boys throughout the series. One might think the obvious choice for Belly is the sensitive yet goofy Jeremiah, rather than the moody and selfish Conrad. However, the affectionate way in which Belly describes the often mysterious Conrad redeems him in our eyes. Many of Belly’s stories starring Conrad portray him as tempermental and very cryptic, choosing when he wants to be nice to her and when not. I was frequently shocked by how hypocritical the characters are throughout the series. Conrad constantly calls Belly childish, which is true, and yet when he drinks too much, he looks for fights, and behaves in other immature ways. This is, however, a fairly realistic depiction of confused teenagers. There is nothing mysterious or scary about these books, and yet you can’t stop reading once you begin. Belly is such a believable, insecure teenager, you might think Jenny Han was one herself when she wrote the novels.

To be honest, the first time I read the first book (I’ve read it multiple times since), I was a little confused by the frequent use of flashbacks. Once I read it a second time, I came to appreciate the author’s masterful use of this technique. She casually mentions things that have happened in previous summers, causing us to wonder what the characters are talking about, until everything is made clear in the following chapter’s flashback. In one instance, Conrad reminds Belly of when she was eleven, and he taught her a beach dance called ‘the shag’. “He spun me around, and I felt dizzy. With pure, absolute joy” (pg.194).

The first book is about changes such as how the characters and relationships evolve. At times, it’s a hopeful book, showing that Belly’s childhood dreams of being a part of the fun with the boys finally did come true. At other times, it can be a bit disheartening to read, because it’s sad to think that the main reason both Fisher boys begin to have feelings for her was because her appearance changed. “They had looked at me like a real girl, not just somebody’s little sister” (pg. 9).

There is a more profound level to the book when someone vitally important in all of the main characters’ lives is diagnosed with cancer. The second book reveals the outcome of this person’s illness and how it affects the characters. There’s a fairly surprising romantic storyline that leads to the plot of the third book, which occurs, of course in the summer, after the romance has had a year to grow.

After readers have witnessed love affairs between Belly and both Jeremiah and Conrad, the last book is as suspenseful as a summer read can be, in which the two brothers compete in a race to have Belly’s heart once and for all.

What are your favourite summer reads of all time? Comment and let me know!

 

Leave a comment »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.