Archive | August 2012

The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams

What would you do if offered the choice to live forever? Fourteen-year-old Seraphina didn’t think when her life slipped away, and was saved by the handsome Cyrus. A kind gesture at the moment but even a crush from the 1400’s eventually evolves over six hundred years. Cyrus may have the answer to eternal life but the price becomes too high for Sera. Their routines for survival are flawless, but Sera longs for the next stage in the afterlife.

After an attempt to escape Cyrus’ clutches go awry, Sera finds herself being a teenager with a normal family. Being sixteen with best friends, a secret neighbour boyfriend and parents all over her, Sera settles into this life she accidently stole. But Cyrus isn’t like any ex-boyfriend. He’s looking for Sera and will do anything and everything in his power to find her to bring her back to the fold…

The Alchemy of Forever is an unusual take on YA paranormal romance. Mixed with fantasy and urban magic, I was pleasantly surprised to learn this book is the first in a series. Seraphina gets an opportunity most people long to experience, living forever. It’s refreshing to see her take the side of being tired of having been there and done that. Sera is such a delightful character, a strange mix of naïve teenager and wise old voodoo priestess. Although living through her pasts could have been more prominent to give Sera a deeper sense of character. I hope this issue is further explored in the next book.

As Sera evolves into Kailey and discovers love, perhaps a true love for the first time in six hundred years, she’ll do anything to remain hidden from Cyrus. You can’t help but hope that Sera will find a way to be rid of him, or accept her fate and kill herself for real. The book finishes on such a cliffhanger that I was mad it had ended! With Goodreads showing it’s a series I can’t wait for the next book to be published next year. It’ll be interesting to see if this series will go the Twilight route, meaning focusing on obsessive love or if can dig a little deeper into this idea of living forever. Relevant and in the know it’s a quick read for young teens of today.

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Arrival – #1 The Phoenix Files by Chris Morphew

 

Fresh out of the aftermath of his parent’s divorce, Australian teenager Luke Hunter tries to remain calm when his mum declares they’re moving to an unknown place called Phoenix in the bush. Upon arrival, Luke notices Phoenix is a town where there’s more that meets the eye. No phones, no Internet, no cars, everyone travels by bike and are living in homes that look just like everyone else’s. Missing his dad, Luke attempts to settle in and make friends at High School.

With the appearance of a rough homeless man streaking across the prestigious Phoenix town, Luke can’t help but take notice. A mysterious gift of a flash drive with a classmate’s name only adds to the confusion. Even though the event does assist in the process of making friends with cool Peter and fiery Jordan. Curiosity builds as they decode the flash drive, discovering a possible confession that Phoenix was built to save humanity- and that the world would be ending in 100 days….

The countdown at the beginning of each chapter added to my fury in reading this book. Morphew is a talented Aussie in creating action and suspense that encourages the younger generation to read. How would you feel if you learned the world is going to end, and you’ve been selected as a part of the population to be saved? It’s a big question for teenagers to ignore.

The mysterious context of Phoenix blends well with the teenage angst and drama of normal life adjusting to abnormality. It was a joy to be filled with the scenery of a hidden part of Australia, and Morphew left me wanting more. There are four books in the series so far and I can’t wait to get back to learn more about what’s happening to this world. I hope that an American publisher picks up this book; it’s been a wonderful experience to read such a delightful YA series about Australia. Not enough YA books take place in Australia and America needs the Southern hemisphere exposure. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book Contact!

Olympic Mascot Statues

I am sick this week. Most likely the flu. In between coughing I’m sleeping.  Nevertheless I wanted to share some things I’ve seen. The London 2012 Olympic Mascot’s Wenlock and Mandeville are terrible, but that’s not going to stop me from enjoying the 84 statues that are placed around London. They’re painted like some of the capital’s most loved attractions. Find the maps here, and they’re actually relatively easy to find unlike the others statues that have been around in the past. I hope to find more, but I need to get better first.

My total count so far is 21/84 and here are the best 10.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

 

Victoria Jones grew up in the foster care system. On her eighteen birthday she’s finally free and is set up in a halfway home. Ignoring her social worker she runs away from the safe house, and creates a garden for which she hides in the local park. Flowers have always been her safe haven as the Victorians used flowers to communicate secret messages. They also don’t talk back or tell her how she should be living her life.

When Victoria impresses a florist with her natural talent of flowers, she finds herself living an almost normal life. Yet with positive step, the past creeps up as horrible secrets threaten her sanity. Unable to trust the world she throws herself into the flowers looking for answers. When someone bursts back into her life, Victoria must come face to face with her regrets to find her future.

The Language of Flowers is simply stunning. The chapters alternate between the past and the present, creating an itch that can only be soothed by turning the page. Victoria’s voice is loud and clear no matter what age she’s being written about. The deepest fears a foster child feels is astoundingly expressed through the novel with simplistic realism that makes the book hard to put down. Diffenbaugh has down her research and it clearly shows, bringing a dead language new life giving this tale a sweet sadness.

Although perhaps not practical, the story is so engrossing it can’t be helped but enjoyed and relished. The drama of Victoria’s life is a different sort to relate to, with her issues being deeply rooted. The story is told beautifully as a young girl grows from a troubled teen to a strong sunflower. You don’t have to know anything about the Victorian period to appreciate the charm and care that this book provides, and it might even make you look at flowers just a bit differently.