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Truer words have never been spoken, if I do say so myself. It's a philosophy that has kept me sane for as long as I can remember and helped me survive the weirdest summer of my life. On the flip side, it's very entertaining what love will make people do. It's a great way to spend your lunch break.
Sitting on my car hood, sucking down a Big Gulp, I watched the pinnacle of love unfold before my eyes. My best friend, Mia, and her on-again off-again boyfriend, Dougie, squared-off like prize fighters in the middle of the outlet center parking lot.
This week's drama included props. Dougie pivoted along the concrete, ducking and avoiding death by the finest designer handbag money could buy. Through the litany of screams, cusses, and purse swinging, I figured Mia had caught Dougie hanging out with another girl. Mia could be a little high-strung sometimes, but when it came to her man, she advanced to straight head case. That jealous insanity went both ways, depending on the day, and much amusement awaited all who watched.
"God, you're such a liar! How could you do this to me?" she raved.
"Chill, baby! She was my cousin!" Dougie escaped the oncoming blow from Mia's handbag by an inch.
"You lying piece of crap! I've met all of your relatives, Douglas. She never came to your house before."
Dougie ran in circles around her, the blood rush turning his face beet red. "She just came into town! I swear, baby."
"Why didn't you introduce me, huh?" Mia wiped her sweaty brown hair from her forehead. "What, are you ashamed of me?"
He paused, clearly hurt at the suggestion. "No! Why would you say that?"
"Liar!" Her purse swung at his head, but missed.
Dougie grabbed one of the straps, and the two began a full tug-of-war in the middle of the parking lot. Weekend shoppers watched in horror, covering the ears of their children from the curses flying in the air. At any moment, someone would definitely call security, so I decided to leave the lovebirds to their own devices.
"Hey, guys," I yelled behind me. "I gotta get back to work, but I'll see y'all later, okay?"
"Okay, I'll call ya!" Mia yelled back before shoving Dougie in the chest.
I dumped my cup in the trash, then entered the side door of Buncha Books. The air-conditioning slapped me in the face and pushed the June heat back outside. Mellow jazz rang through the speakers in a chronic loop from the satellite radio. Tourists and townies overran the floor in a slow, indecisive dance around the bookshelves.
I strolled through the main aisles, past the kiosk of new releases and bestsellers toward the customer service desk in the center of the store. Working at Buncha Books since sophomore year taught me a few tricks of the trade, namely to never get caught on the actual book floor. I also discovered that if I didn't make eye contact with the customers, they wouldn't talk to me. That policy remained tucked in my back pocket until my shift started. Casting a wary glance over my shoulder, I singled out an empty computer and clocked back in.
Stealth infiltration and quick reflexes allowed me to reach the other end of the store without incident. When I breezed by the magazine aisle, I caught something odd in my peripheral, a scene disturbing enough to break my stride. I stopped, blinked a few times, and then backtracked to the Home & Garden section to confirm what I just saw.
Caleb Baker, the assistant manager in the music department, held some redhead in a devastating lip-lock. She didn't seem to have a problem with the public tonsillectomy, but this wasn't the type of customer service the managers urged us to practice.
Just as I turned to leave, his gaze met mine.
Caleb's looks would never stop traffic, but he was worth a second glance with his deep dimples, and the most intense violet eyes I had ever seen. Despite his claim of authenticity, eyes that color shouldn't exist in nature—eyes that now reflected every purple tone of the color wheel.
Light brown strands draped over his face as the two continued to slob each other down. If they didn't come up for air soon, Caleb would no doubt suck the life out of her. From what I hear, cheap hotel rooms existed for such an occasion, and there were plenty in the area to choose from.
Of the year and a half I worked here, that kid weirded me out in one way or another. Not to mention the number of women who chased after him on a regular basis. This fact went unnoticed and unaddressed by everyone in the store, including the managers, which disgusted me even more. Having seen enough, I walked away toward my station before my lunch came back up.
Cuppa-Joe was a coffee shop in the back of the bookstore, the place where people kicked back and talked trash about everyone; the cesspool of company gossip and customer-bashing.
I closed tonight with my weekend partner in crime, Nadine Petrovsky, a Polish exchange student at The College of William & Mary, and one of the most cynical people I ever had the pleasure of meeting. Guys came to the café just to hear her exotic accent and watch her work. One glimpse of her explained why.
Model scouts would salivate over her European beauty: her long wheat-colored hair that reached her butt, and her freaky green cat eyes. Too bad none of the attention interested her. Having no time for the BS left the girl cutthroat and caustic. She was just too focused to let a guy or anyone else slow her down.
Nadine stood in front of the barista machine, rinsing the steam wand, when she caught me in the corner of her eye.
"You're late," she noted without looking up.
"Sorry. Mia and Dougie were having it out in the parking lot again." I tied my hair into a bun and grabbed my apron from the back kitchen.
"Oh yeah?" She craned her neck, straining to see the front of the store. "Their fights are good. They need their own sitcom."
"I told them that."
Worry lines etched her forehead as she shook her head in disapproval. "Their relationship isn't healthy, Sam."
"What relationship is?" I tightened my apron, then went to the sink to wash my hands.
"The sane kind."
"Well, as soon as I see one of those, I'll let you know what I think."
While drying my hands, the second reason why I hated customers approached the counter. A kid dressed in all black with a dog collar leered at me.
Nadine kept herself conveniently busy, so I made my way to the register. "Can I help you?"
"I'd like an iced chai latté," the boy said, deadpan. It was hard to tell if the kid was high or half-asleep, or whether he was, in fact, a boy. His parachute jeans dragged the floor like a prom gown, the cuffs frayed and dirty, hiding the clown boots underneath.
I rang up his order and shot Nadine a look, which she mirrored perfectly. After he left, I leaned against the counter and laughed.
Nadine didn't smile, no matter how hilarious the joke, which I'm sure made her a real delight during the weekdays when she babysat preschoolers in daycare. Instead, she wiped down the work area with aggravated swipes.
"I hate those Elmo goth kids," she griped. "What self-respecting sociopath drinks chai anyway? What do they know about real torment? Let them survive a concentration camp and then they can complain."
"It's called 'emo,' " I corrected her. "And your great grandparents didn't even get to the camp before the U.S. troops came in."
Nadine moved to the back counter and checked the timers on the coffeepots. "It's still torment. And if you say 'emo,' I say 'Elmo' because they are equally childish."
Shaking my head, I watched her in amusement. "You don't know what his home life is like."
"Everyone knows what his home life is like. He doesn't get along with his parents. He stays in his room and whines and writes bad poems about being a vampire."
Laughing, I stepped to the espresso machine and stole a shot.
"Hey, it's your turn to wipe the tables." Nadine tossed me a rag. "And don't forget to put back those magazines."
Groaning, I dragged my feet to the sitting area and gathered the discarded cups and straw wrappers. Seeing no one else in line, I took a moment to return the magazines to the racks. When I had finished, I turned around and met Caleb, still as idle and unproductive as when I last saw him.
He sat on a reading bench by the window, holding his head in his hands. Afternoon light showered his back and crowned his dark hair in a golden halo. Normally, I would've ignored him were it not for the slight tremors that rocked his body. Was he crying? Did he and his new arm candy have a falling-out? It was just off-putting to see a guy cry, but no tears fell and none were wiped away by his hand. His body teetered back and forth, and I half expected him to start begging for spare change. How long was his break anyway?
I went over to him and tapped his shoulder. "Hey, Caleb. You okay?"
"Yeah," he mumbled from under his hands. Thankfully, I didn't smell any alcohol on him, but he definitely wore the hungover look. Then again, he always looked like that.
One hand reached for the sunglasses hooked on his collar, while the other shielded his eyes—whether from shame or the glaring lights, I wasn't sure. I also wasn't sure about the source of the purple rays leaking between his fingers.
For a split second, a cast of purple flooded his eyes, swelling in a florescent glow. Caleb quickly turned his head, leaving a streak of color dragging through the air in a residual haze. That was an interesting trick for someone who supposedly didn't wear contacts.
He rose from his seat and paused at the shocked look on my face. He shifted his feet and messed with his hair, trying to play it off as if he'd been caught with his fly open. However, the only things I caught were vision problems and a bad vibe.
I took a step back. "You sure you're okay? Are you sick?"
My question made him laugh, but it sounded dry and full of bitterness. "You have no idea," he said before marching back to his end of the store.
My mom taught me not to judge people, but damn, that kid was out there. I didn't know much about him, but that only made the fact that much more tangible. Something told me that ignorance was bliss when it came to Caleb Baker, so I went back to work, hoping for a distraction. But the damage was done. My curiosity had been piqued, and that hungry creature wouldn't let me rest until I fed it.
Customers ambled toward the counter to make last-minute orders. There was always one person who insisted on leaving when we did, and trust me, they were more than welcome to shut down the cook station for me.
Because Nadine did let's-get-the-hell-out-of-here better than anyone, she wrapped up the food while I stacked the chairs and mopped. Rock music blared through the intercom, letting everyone know that business hours were officially over. After forty minutes of shutdown, it was time to call it a night.
"Don't forget, we have reading group tonight," Nadine reminded me.
"Oh, crap!" All joy and enthusiasm vanished. Staying after hours without pay took more patience than I could give.
I flung my apron behind me and turned off the back kitchen lights. After gathering our things, we clocked out, then moved to the restroom hallway toward the break room.
Half the employees were already there, drinking stale coffee to stay awake. The sour expressions and defeated postures made it clear that no one wanted to be here on a Sunday night, so I was in good company.
The monthly book club strived to keep the work morale up, but it usually led to fights. The sales reps from on high thought it was a good idea to have the employees read the new releases and recommend them to customers.
One thing I loved about my coworkers was that they disliked this activity as much as I did. That mutual hatred brought us together, and it made this pointless hour bearable. We could let our hair down and talk true literary smack without censorship. At the end of the night, a book was voted as the store's choice of the month.
Nadine stood by the broken soda machine talking to Caleb. Though out of earshot, her reddened face suggested that the topic didn't involve the latest bestseller. Fingers pointed at the other person, teeth bared, features twisted in anger.
Caleb and Nadine barely talked at work, just brief exchanges and whispers in secluded corners of the store. I suspected that Nadine and Caleb shared a thing that went sour before I started working here, but I thought it was better not to rehash the past. No matter how bad the breakup, Caleb was the only guy she seemed to respect.
Trying hard not to look nosy, I slinked over to the low-budget refreshment stand and commandeered day-old snack food.
Placing a doughnut on a napkin, I almost jumped at the deep voice behind me. "Hey, I had my eyes on that powdered one."
I turned around and met those freaky purple-blue eyes again. In all honesty, that was the only thing going for him, at least in my book. Caleb was pasty, even for white-boy standards, and he was in dire need of a haircut and shave. With hands shoved in his tan khakis, he looked at me under thick lashes.
"Too bad. It's the last doughnut, and it's all mine." I allowed the treat to hover in my hand for good measure.
"No way I can change your mind?" His eyes ran the length of my body before meeting my gaze again.
"Nope. Sorry." I took a huge bite of the powdery confection and scooted to the folding chair next to Nadine. I could feel him watching me, no doubt coveting my sugary prize. Caleb was skinny with a swimmer's build, so who would believe that this guy could wipe out an entire sugar plantation in one sitting? His sweet tooth rivaled mine, and that was no small feat.
Linda, the store manager and the queen of bling, barged in and slung her bag on the floor. Her stilettos clunked against the linoleum tiles, signifying that the bedazzled badass had just arrived. Propping hands on her hips and car keys clasped in her jewel-covered hand, she addressed the group.
"All right, let's get this over with. I got an hour drive ahead of me, and I'm not trying to be here all night." She took a seat and pulled her dreadlocks into a bun on the top of her head. "Okay, let's begin with the young adult section." She turned to the short, curly-haired girl to her left. "Alicia, what book did you read?"
Alicia Holloway sat up straight, grinning, sporting wide eyes and dimples. She was a freshman at my school—well, sophomore this fall—and the youngest employee at BB. Her work permit was probably still tucked inside her Hello Kitty purse. Alicia had come a long way from the frightened deer who always brought a nightlight when she slept over my house. I used to babysit her when I was in junior high, and even then she tried too hard to act mature. I saw right through it, and it was my duty as a friend to bug her to death.
"I read Specter, by Nan Jacobs," Alicia chimed with excitement, holding the book up so everyone could see the worn cover.
A number of groans filled the break room. People adjusted their chairs, preparing for the diatribe that would surely follow.
This was the book series that every bookseller loved to hate, and its popularity boggled the minds of everyone in the room. But no one could deny the number of sales among teenage girls, and an entire shelf in the store was devoted to the saga. Anything that mainstream was enough to keep us from reading it. Well, most of us.
"Okay, first off, I have to say I loved this book. It's so romantic and sweet, and the characters were so believable, and I felt like I was right there with the main character and, Omgoodness, Nicolas Damien is so hot!"
Alicia bounced in her seat and swallowed a lungful of much-needed air.
"Have you met him?" Nadine leaned back in her chair and allowed her hands to touch at the fingertips. "This Nicolas Damien—has he come to the store or something?"
Alicia frowned in confusion. "Uh, no. He's a character in the book."
"Then how do you know he is hot?"
"Because the book makes him hot, that's how," Alicia snapped, then addressed the group again. "Anyway, the story's about a young girl who goes to detention and falls in love with a gorgeous new guy. But there's something mysterious about him."
Excerpted from LIVING VIOLET by JAIME REED Copyright © 2012 by Jaime Reed. Excerpted by permission of Dafina KTeen Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted January 2, 2012
I received an opportunity to read an advance copy of "Living Violet." I was really interested in the plot and the book drew me in from the start. While I thought the premise was original (as original as you can be in the ever-growing paranormal YA genre), there were a few issues that I had which made this a 3.5 (or 4, since you can't have half ratings) read for me.
Let me begin by saying I totally hate this cover. I hate HATE that Caleb is pictured because well...I don't find this cover boy cute at all and it totally threw me off when reading the book since I was just picturing THAT dude as Caleb instead of some imagined hottie, and it made the plot a little unbelievable. Since I know that authors rarely even have a say in what their covers look like, I'm not going to detract any stars for this point. It's a personal pet peeve and I wanted to mention it because it made the book a little harder for me to read.
When I did finally get into the book, one thing I really enjoyed was Jaime Reed's writing style. It was really easygoing and fun and Samara was a character who really bounced off the pages. She was realistic, and realistic is good. I also really appreciated that she wasn't a "Bella Swan" - meek and quiet and far too subtle for my tastes. While I can see where Sam would come off as being a little annoying, I really think that in this case, there was enough sass without it coming across as forced or bratty.
Another thing that really made the book for me was the actual premise. I liked the supernatural beings featured, and I really liked Reed's explanations of how they work. The supporting characters in the book really helped move and shape the story and I really enjoyed getting to know them all.
Now, the one thing that I did NOT like (and I kinda mentioned above) was Caleb. Again, maybe this was because of my cover bias but he just DID NOT come off to me like the likeable, tempting guy that Samara is into. At the beginning, he comes off a little skeevy and really, does not make up for it for the rest of the book. He just did not work for me as the male lead, and do sorta wish he had been written differently.
Overall, I decided to rate the book up to 4 stars because I did enjoy reading it, issues aside. I also am curious to read the 2nd book in the series, because it seems like it would focus more on Samara than on Caleb and Samara's relationship. I'd recommend this book to all fans of paranormal YA.
6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 7, 2012
This book is one of the best YA books I've read in a long time. Its fresh, unique and moves along with a plot that keeps you needing to turn the page. Reed is definitely a writer to keep an eye on.
4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 16, 2011
This book was a page turner and I didn't want to put it down. Fantastic beginning to a new YA urban fantasy series. I loved the characters. Samara was funny, smart, sarcastic and very likable. Caleb was a very interesting character and his supernatural gift/curse is something I'd only encountered outside the YA genre. I don't wanna spoil it for anyone so I won't say what he is. Just know he's charming and funny and has a sweet tooth to rival mine. The secondary characters were just as entertaining; Nadine was snarky and full of spunk and Mia and Dougie cracked me up.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book even though part of it broke my heart. This book had everything; humor, great character development, enough action to keep you intrigued, romance and witty dialogue. I can't wait to see how the changes in Sam's life will affect her. Really looking forward to the second book in the series, Burning Emerald.
4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 29, 2011
Posted January 17, 2012
I read lots of paranormal books and while I love them, I'm always looking for something different to shake up my reading routine. I was very pleasantly surprised and rewarded by Living Violet because there is nothing cookie cutter about this book. There is no high school angst, no love triangle and absolutely no insta-love. Living Violet is original, well paced and a completely enjoyable read.
I'm a character driven reader and Samara is an awesome main character. The book is told from her perspective and she is very likable. Jamie Reed writes relationships well and I love how she portrays Samara’s relationships with her parents and friends. Samara is a smart, responsible, take-no-nonsense kind of girl and her personality stays true throughout the book.
By far, my favorite part of the book is Samara’s voice. She is witty, funny and sarcastic. Samara is the kind of girl I would want to be friends with, and as a matter of fact, her honest (and humorous) outlook on life’s situations reminds me of some of my own friends.
I also love how Caleb’s character is developed. We are not sure about Caleb at first. We know there is something different about him but we don’t know if he is a good or bad guy. I love the unique paranormal elements of the story and the big reveal was worth the wait. I don’t think I have read another YA book about this subject before.
Living Violet exceeded my expectations and with its diverse and interesting cast of characters, it’s the perfect book to kick-off the Multi-Cultural Book Challenge. I raced through this book and I am dying for the sequel, Burning Emerald, which comes out in May.
On a side note: I love that the author is lighthearted enough to poke a little fun at the YA paranormal romance genre with the Specter (a fictional novel mentioned in the book) references. There are more than a few lines in this book that made me laugh out loud, in a really good way.
Content: Some profanity, sexual discussions, attempted rape, kissing and violence.
2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 23, 2013
Posted February 19, 2013
Picked up this book one day at the public library thinking it was going to be an okay book ya know. I started reading and couldn't put it down. I finished this book in one day. I've been looking for paranormal romance novels for a really long time and a lot of them have to do with vampires and immortals I'm not saying they're bad books I'm saying that I was looking for something different and I found this book and Jamie has raised the bar for paranormal. So freakin good!!!!
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 3, 2012
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Posted January 12, 2012
After reading good reviews of this book I chose to purchase it. The content was very disappointing and I am now sorry I spent my 2.99 for this book
1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 26, 2013
The book was a real page turner. Whenever they explain Sam as small boobed and a bigger tummy I have a bit of a hard time thinking Caleb would be into that. Other than that I really liked it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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