Illuminate (Gilded Wings Series #1)

Illuminate (Gilded Wings Series #1)

by Aimee Agresti


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Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything changes when she is awarded a prestigious internship at a posh Chicago hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous strangers: the powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.
As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547626147
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 03/06/2012
Series: Gilded Wings Series , #1
Pages: 528
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.90(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Aimee Agresti is an entertainment journalist with ten years of experience writing, editing and chatting up celebrities. A former staff writer for Us Weekly magazine, she has interviewed everyone from Angelina Jolie and George Clooney to the stars of The Hills, and even penned the magazine’s coffee table book Inside Hollywood. In addition to Us, her work has appeared in People, Premiere, DC Magazine, The Washington Post, Boston magazine, Women’s Health, Mademoiselle, and the New York Observer. She lives in Washington, DC.

Read an Excerpt


A Rare Opportunity

Up until that point, English class had been unremarkable. We were halfway through The Picture of Dorian Gray. Mrs. Harris, with her voluminous behind precariously perched on the front of her strained wooden desk, scanned the room searching for flickers of comprehension—or, at the very least, consciousness—in a sea of clueless faces. I slid ever so slightly down in my seat, letting my long wispy hair, still damp from my morning encounter with winter’s sloppy-wet sleet, fall around the sides of my face: trying to hide. I’ve never much been one for participation. I generally know the answers—I just don’t appreciate the attention that comes from knowing them. Answer correctly and you have further cemented your reputation as a brainy, hopeless outcast. Answer incorrectly, and not only are you considered a bookish nerd, but now you’re even bad at that. It was a lose/lose situation. So I read ahead in the book, tuning her out, glancing up every now and then to the clock above the chalkboard or to the windows where blustery, chalk-white skies hung over another frigid January day. Evanston, Illinois, and the tundra that was the greater Chicago area would likely look this way until April, but it never bothered me so much. I liked the way that braving its wind-whipping wrath could make a person, even someone as easily tossed around as me, feel stronger.

"So let’s talk about the nature of good, evil, and hedonism," the teacher droned on.

At the mention of hedonism, on reflex, my eyes darted two rows in front of me. Buzz-cropped Jason Abington, wearing his basketball jersey, number 9, to advertise the big game this weekend, nibbled on the cap of his blue ballpoint pen—my blue ballpoint pen. Somewhere inside my stomach, swarms of butterflies fluttered from their cocoons. It was for this very reason that the front outside pocket of my backpack bulged at all times with scores of these pens, which I had, optimistically, bought in bulk. Jason never seemed to have his own and somehow, by an odd stroke of luck, he had asked to borrow one from me weeks ago and then again and again and now this is what I had become to him: a purveyor of pens. At the desk beside him, a blonde creature—his blonde creature—named Courtney twirled her artfully hot-rollered, bodacious curls. This is what boys like him were conditioned to expect. This wasn’t me, and I couldn’t imagine it ever would be, regardless of what magical metamorphosis one was expected to undergo during high school. I was a work in progress, but I had no reason to believe the finished product would ever be quite like that.

I had stopped paying the least bit of attention to Harris’s lecture when she called, "Ms. Terra? Haven. Did you hear me?"

To be honest, no. Scrambling, I shuffled through the shards I had caught of her lecture, searching for the most likely line of questioning and then shooting out an answer that ought to fit. "Um, Dorian and Lord Henry believe in following the senses, pursuing whatever pleases them, uh, no matter the consequences, and, um, not worrying about right and wrong?" I proposed, sweat dampening my temples. Jason angled his head back just a touch in my direction. I felt other eyes on me too.

"Thank you, that’s lovely." She was holding a slip of paper she had just taken from a senior girl, bored, chewing gum, who now left the room. "But your presence is requested in the principal’s office."

A weak chorus of "Oooooh" broke out as I gathered my books and boulder of a backpack heavy enough it carved divots into my narrow shoulders. As I squeezed through the aisle, passing Jason’s desk, he looked up for only a moment, expressionless and still chewing on my pen.

In my two and a half years of high school, I had yet to set foot inside Principal Tollman’s office—I’m just not that kind of girl. So I couldn’t imagine what this could be about. On the walk there, footsteps echoing on the linoleum, faded voices muffling out from passing classrooms, I tried to think what it could be: Was it Joan? Was something wrong with her? This is how it is with me, always expecting the worst.

But in our case, this sort of overreaction was justified.

This is just what happens when you are discovered, as I was, at roughly age five, in a muddy ditch somewhere off Lake Shore Drive in the dead of winter.

A little Jane Doe, barely breathing, no memories of anything that came before that night, no one to ever come looking for you. And you get raised by the kind nurse who eventually takes you in, names you, feeds you, clothes you. After a thing like that, worry becomes more than a reflex; it becomes an umbrella shading daily life, hovering closer every time someone gets home late or doesn’t call when they say they will.

"Ms. Terra, have a seat," Ms. Tollman said over the top of the rimless reading glasses perched on her nose when she saw me standing in the doorway of her office. She squared up in her chair, watching me, until she finally spoke. "So it looks like congratulations are in order." I felt my eyes involuntarily bulge. "We’ve just been notified that you and two of your fellow eleventh-graders have been accepted into the Department of Education’s Vocational Illinois Leaders internship program."

It took me half a second too long to process.

"Oh, wow. That’s great, thanks," I said, more reserved than she probably expected, but I was preoccupied. My mind sorted and sifted through everything I’d applied for in the past year. There was just so much. Anything that could earn me extra cash for college or would sound good enough to help me clinch a scholarship to one of my dream schools. Internships, fellowships, essay contests—my mailbox and my mind flooded with the constant stream of applications and deadlines and hopes. And yet, somehow, this didn’t even ring a bell. The principal took off her glasses and stared at me with a faint smile, a director waiting for the reaction shot she wanted. "This sounds fantastic," I started. "I really am honored. But forgive me, I can’t seem to recall actually applying for this." A nervous grin propped up the corners of my mouth.

She laughed, a small, charmed chuckle.

"Yes, well, that’s because you didn’t. That’s the beauty of this particular internship. They just pluck the best and the brightest and place those students with a thriving Illinois enterprise for the semester. It’s a new pilot program the state seems to be trying out. You will each be paired up with someone at this business who will act as a sort of advanced independent-study tutor and a mentor. And—"Glasses back on, she read from a paper. "Let’s see, ooooh, yes, it appears you’re going to be placed at the Lexington Hotel in Chicago. Why, that’s really remarkable, you know. They’re about to reopen, and the woman who owns it has become the toast of Chicago’s business world practically overnight. You may have seen her in the Tribune and on the news. This is a tremendous privilege. It says here that room and board are provided, and there’s a considerable stipend in exchange for good old-fashioned hard work."

Her words rushed at me too fast to make sense of. So I would be living at this place? Living at a hotel? Working full-time? No actual classes? "Considerable stipend"? It was a lot to wrap my head around. Do things like this just fall from the sky? Perhaps the near-perfect grades I worked so hard for, the afterschool job I had had for pretty much a decade, the Saturday nights spent at home studying, were finally paying off in something that could give me a shot at the pricey and prestigious schools on my college wish list.

"I know we’ve started our semester—the timing is a bit odd; I suppose the state board is still ironing out the kinks—however, we’ll make it work for the three of you students since this is a rare opportunity." She said this with a hands-clasped, tilted-head gravity that suggested she would like some gratitude and gushing in return.

"Thank you, Ms. Tollman. I appreciate it. This is really great." My mind was already five steps ahead, sorting through what Joan would say. Would she even let me go? What would I bring? How would I tell them at the hospital?

"You start next week. Everything you need to know should be in here." She stood from behind her desk, thrust a slim manila envelope at me, then surprised me by grabbing my limp, unsuspecting hand for a firm shake. "Do us proud, Haven. We’ll see you back here in September."

I had never seen so many people crowd the half-moon of the pediatric nurses’ station when there wasn’t an emergency. There must’ve been at least three dozen of them pulled from even the farthest corners of Evanston General Hospital’s compound and representing the full color spectrum of scrubs—pinks, blues, greens, Disney characters—all buzzing around me, nibbling on heaping slices of red velvet cake (my favorite).

Joan had, of course, orchestrated the whole thing. Now she bent over the sheet cake bearing the message "Happy Birthday and Congratulations, Haven! We’ll miss you!," dishing out precisely sliced pieces as fast as she could and, naturally, with a smile. She had just turned fifty a few months earlier, but besides her gray hair, which she hadn’t bothered to dye, you would never have guessed her age: her social calendar, from her book clubs to her bridge nights, put mine to shame. I wished that she tried to date more—of the two of us, she seemed to have a better shot at it—but she could be stubborn about that. It was the only thing she got touchy about. She had divorced a year or so before she found me, after discovering she couldn’t have kids of her own. Joan didn’t talk about it much, but the other nurses had over the years, so I’d gotten the whole story in bits and pieces. They thought she was too scared now, and they tried to push her into dating and set her up to little avail. But at least she had plenty of friends. She was always either going to a party or throwing one. I wished to one day be such a good hostess. At the moment, though, I was doing my best as the center of attention, another tricky role for me. As problems went, this was a fine one: surrounded by so many well-wishers I had managed only one bite of my celebratory confection before being pleasantly besieged by a tug at the arm of my salmon-hued scrubs here, an ambush hug or a jolly pat on the back there.

"Y’know, I just don’t know how I’m going to tell some of my patients about this. They’ll be devastated!" said blonde-beehived Nurse Calloway from cardiac. She stabbed at her cake as Dr. Michelle from pediatrics—the youngest resident in the entire hospital, and my idol—and white-haired Nurse Sanders, with glistening eyes behind her thick glasses, nodded in agreement. This was my little sorority. "You’ll break all their hearts," Calloway went on.

"And those are hearts that are already in pretty bad shape to begin with!" Dr. Michelle chimed in with the punch line, pointing at Nurse Sanders. We all laughed. This is what passed for humor in these parts. Indeed, a few of Sanders’s patients liked to call me a "heartbreaker," which was embarrassing and just not true, and certainly something I never heard from anyone who wasn’t an octogenarian with failing vision. Dr. Michelle smiled. "We’ll miss you, Haven." She could almost pass as a patient in her department, being so energetic, young, and, like me, only a couple inches over five feet.

Sanders sniffled. "Could you still come on weekends? Or evenings?"

"Now I’m starting to feel bad," I said. "Maybe I should stay."

At the other end of the nurses’ station a good fifteen feet away, Joan perked her head up, waving her cake knife in the air.

"I know you’re not guilt-tripping my girl, are you, ladies?" she called over to us, cutting a piece of cake for herself at last. Propped up on the table behind her was a framed photo of me, about ten years old wearing a mini–candy striper’s uniform. Images of me were all over this place: I was everyone’s surrogate child smiling from their desktops and cabinets and computer wallpaper. This had pretty much been my daycare center for as long as I could remember, coming to work with Joan and being babysat by anyone and everyone until I was old enough that they could start giving me something useful to do. Joan wandered over, plate in hand, mouth full of cake, and put her arm around me. "We have to let this one spread her wings. She’ll fly back." She winked.

"I’ll be back at the end of June. You’ll barely have time to miss me," I said, a crater deepening in my heart. "I’ll do a goodbye tour before I go today."

And tour I did, making the rounds to see all my favorites and ending the day with the toughest stop of all, pediatrics. I cut a pied piper’s path through the ward, collecting pajama-clad followers as I went room to room dispensing hugs and kisses and promising to be back soon. We landed back at the playroom and gathered at the bulletin board we had assembled together: a collage of photos of each child in the ward, running the length of the wall, with a border in a riot of colors. It looked like a massive yearbook page, and we updated it with new photos of everyone on a regular basis. It had started as nothing really, just a little project for photography class last year. I had asked a few kids if they would be willing to let me photograph them and they agreed and then somehow everyone wanted in on it. "We look better in your pictures than we do in the mirror," Jenny, a bandana-clad fourteen-year-old, had explained once, shrugging. I assured her no Photoshop was involved—this was them.

The strangest thing of all though was the reaction back at school. Most of the kids in that photography class were in there either for easy As or were really tortured artist types who dressed all in black. Then there were people like me, who could appreciate the arts, even if we didn’t quite have the skills to participate, and figured we couldn’t be that bad at pointing and shooting.

When I put together that project though, something clicked. You looked at the pictures and jumped into the eyes of those kids and felt like you knew everything there was to know about them. Each semester the class voted on someone’s work to be displayed in the glass case in the school’s front hallway, and somehow they chose me. Every time I walked by it, I would see a handful of people stopping to stare, kids who never seemed to notice anything. Even Jason Abington had looked—a few times in fact—and once when I happened to be walking by (because I walked by a lot) he saw me and elbowed me, nodding at the case, and said, "This is yours? It’s really cool." That meant more to me than I’d like to admit. But it was true; the sweet faces of my subjects did all seem to glow in those pictures, like the camera cut down to their core.

I addressed my little posse now. "I’m officially putting you guys in charge of the Wall of Fame." I knocked a knuckle against the bulletin board. "Dr. Michelle has kindly promised to take the photos so you can keep rotating in the new ones. Don’t let her slack off. I’ll be back soon and it better be in good shape." I smiled.

"Ooooh, um, she’s not such a good photographer," Jenny whispered. "Remember the one of me with just one eye open when you were out that one day? It took, like, an hour to get something even that good."

"Good point. We’ll just hope that she’s improved since then. Or else, you’re in charge." I winked. "I’ll miss you guys. Okay, high-fives, everyone." I raced around slapping each soft palm.

Night had fallen by the time we left the hospital. The lights of Chicago were a dull glimmer in the distance as Joan drove through the windswept suburban streets of cozy, quiet Evanston. The city felt much farther away than it actually was from home and the comfortable routine of my life. The car heater blasted, and beneath my puffy parka I could feel cold bands of sweat trickling down my skin. I sighed.

"You okay?" Joan asked, peeking at me from the corner of her eye as she drove, the slush crushing under the tires.

"Sorry, yeah." I kept my gaze straight ahead into the ice-encrusted, velvety night. "I just mean, I think that was actually a lot tougher than I expected."

"Of course, honey, they’re all like family. Besides, going-away parties are designed to make you sorry you’re leaving—they’re sneaky that way." She smiled, and I did too. "But you know what? We’re all right here, we’re not that far away. It’ll be fine."

"I know, I’m just sort of, I don’t know, nervous." A twinge of guilt nipped at me. I didn’t want her to worry, and I certainly didn’t want to remind her that just about twenty-four hours ago she was completely vetoing this whole plan. She had sounded all the expected alarms: Why do you need to stay there? How hard are they going to be working you that they need you on the premises 24-7 when you only live an hour away on the L? Don’t they know there are child labor laws? Sure, I had told her, the whole thing is organized by the state Department of Education so obviously they’re not shipping us off to some sweatshop. But, in the end, there was just no denying the honor that seemed to come with this and that stipend (Joan’s eyes had positively bulged). I had pulled out the packet from Principal Tollman, with all the particulars about the hotel, glossy photos of its grandeur, and a host of clippings from every newspaper and magazine in the city about the glamorous woman—Aurelia Brown, blonde, stunning, unbelievably young, and powerful—who would be my new boss. Joan had to say yes.

But now, as Friday night closed in on me, ushering in what I knew would be an intense weekend of preparation for this sudden new chapter, nerves were getting the best of me.

"I just don’t know what this will be like," I continued. "I don’t know if they’ll like me or if I’ll do a good job. And it’s just weird. I mean, I’ve never even been to camp and now I’m going to be living somewhere else. And I know I want to go away to school, but I would have a whole extra year to get ready for that, you know? I just feel really . . . off." That was the only way to put it. I felt that I was playing the role of me—and doing it badly—in what would be a spinoff of my life. The glow cast by the streetlamps transformed the bare trees lining our path into spindly, tentacled beasts. I shivered and took a deep breath.

"Don’t worry. They picked you, remember? They know you’re special. They want you there," she offered, in soothing tones. "And, besides, you’ll have Dante there. You kids will have each other."

"I know. That’s the only reason I’m not totally freaking out. Imagine what a basket case I’d be if I had to go it alone."

"No kidding."

Dante Dennis had been my security blanket, and best friend, for about ten years now. That he was one of the other two kids going to the Lexington with me might have otherwise seemed pure, dumb luck, except that he and I were always neck and neck, vying for the top of the class (politely, of course). So it made sense when he hedged at lunch, sheepishly peeking out from behind his chin-length dreadlocks and grabbing a french fry from my tray.

"You wouldn’t happen to have any news, would you?" He had eased into it, then bulldozed on. "Because I do. And I will die if you don’t have news. Please tell me you’re ditching this town and breezing into the Windy City for a certain fabulous internship." He raised his eyebrows at me—up/down, up/down—conspiratorially. Instantly a wave of relief washed over me.

"You wouldn’t be checking into the Lexington Hotel, would you?" I answered.

"Yesss!" He was practically jumping in his seat now. "Oh my god, we’re going to have so much fun. I mean, who lives in a hotel? Only, like, rock stars and celebrities and maybe those messed-up starlets who, like, divorce their parents. Get me out of this horrid high school and into Chicago society!"

"Yes, please." I smiled, shaking my head. We looked around at the tables full of people who would elect us president of things like French Honor Society, but yet not talk to us ever. "Are you a little . . ."



"Hello?! Yes. Totally nervous. I mean, the whole thing seems like kind of a big deal—Tollman was, like, weirdly excited, and I sure don’t want to mess up. We could get total kickass college recommendations outta this. And these people could probably get us into any school in Chicago without even trying: Northwestern, U. Chicago, they probably know everyone. We’d be idiots not to be nervous. But we’re smart and seriously, we work hard. It’s all good." He swatted his hand at me, no sweat.

And I exhaled. This was Dante’s rare talent—far more impressive than his tenure on the honor roll or his landslide reelection to student government, or the absurdly gourmet bake sale he organized for charity each year, full of the most precious confections you’ve ever seen (he was no less than an artist whose chosen medium just happened to be frosting). No, his greatest accomplishment, as far as I was concerned, was his ability to act as a human tranquilizer for me. He could keep me operating at a sane and steady level no matter how twisted up I felt inside. He had proven his aptitude for it from that very first day I met him at the hospital so many years ago.

Back then, I was a five-year-old roaming the pediatric ward halls waiting to find out who I was and where I would be shipped off to. He had been rushed to the emergency room by his frantic mom after he had fallen climbing a tree one afternoon. He had landed on a mess of sticks and rocks he had collected to build a fort and ended up scraping up his back something fierce and mangling his arm. Tendon damage forced him to stay overnight, and he wandered into my room with his broken arm plaster-casted in a sling. We were up till nearly daybreak telling ghost stories. He went home the next afternoon but promised to visit me once a week as long as I was there, and sure enough, every Friday he would appear, running down the hall, pulling his mom Ruthie with him, his little arms always full of coloring books or stuffed animals or pictures he’d drawn for me.

Joan pulled into the driveway of our town house. Home never looked so good as when you knew you were going to leave it. Ours was tall and narrow, a faded royal blue out front, with brown shutters and a slim covered porch. The place was plenty big for just the two of us and mere blocks from Lake Michigan, which was still and icy now, but would be our favorite escape for afternoon sunbathing and picnicking when the weather was warm.

"Go on in, I’ve gotta get some things out of the trunk." Joan shooed me away.

"Need help?"

"Nah," she insisted. "I’ll be just a sec."

With that, I ran up the front steps and to the porch as fast as I could, the icy air chilling me to my bones as the wind howled and whooped around me. My gloved fingers fumbled with the keys and finally the door opened and a blast of heat warmed my skin.

I flipped on the light. Through the living room, back in the kitchen, a shimmering silver balloon shaped in the number 16 danced above the table. A homemade cake and a palm-size box, wrapped in glittering silver paper with a matching bow, waited for me.

I dropped my backpack on the floor and beelined straight to my birthday shrine, unzipping my coat as I went and disposing of it on a living room chair on my way. Joan was already at the door by the time I dug my finger into the fluffy icing and licked it off.

"Part two of the birthday extravaganza!"

"Delicious. And amazing. But it’s not until Monday." That, at least, was the date we had always celebrated since we didn’t really know for sure when I was born. It was the anniversary of the day when I had been found and taken to the hospital where Joan was the first to tend to me, patching up my gashes and scrapes, checking for broken bones, and slowly getting me to talk to her, though I had nothing to say, nothing that was helpful at least.

"I thought since we were already in such a festive spirit, we would just continue the party. Let the good times roll!" She set down her purse and shimmied off her coat, hanging it on the rack by the door. I took the glittering box in my hands and shook it.

"So can I open it?"

"You’d better!" she said, joining me at the table and sampling a finger’s worth of icing herself. "Go on!"

I tore at the paper and opened a white velvet box. Its contents sparkled.

"I know you’re not into jewelry, my precious little tomboy," she said. "But sixteen is a biggie and I thought you should have something pretty."

I pulled out a necklace, webbing its gold chain around my fingers. It’s true: I didn’t wear any jewelry ever, and what few pieces I’d ever gotten had always sat in their boxes untouched. But this one already felt different. For one, it wasn’t a heart or a dangling birthstone or any of the typical kinds of things I was used to seeing on the girls at school. Instead, this pendant, almost harpshaped and running the length of my fingertip, was something entirely new: a single gold wing, its texture softly rippled to give the illusion of feathers.

"I found this at that antique shop I always drag you into with me," Joan said.

"Right, the one next to that bookstore that I always sneak into when you take too long."

"Exactly." She smiled. "I just thought it looked special, like you, and unique." She kissed the top of my head. "I liked the wing, because you’re really going places, you know that? You’re soaring, Haven. You have so much ahead of you."

"Thanks, Joan, I love it, I really do." I gave her a hug and held her an extra few seconds longer than I normally might.

"Maybe you’ll actually wear this one, you think?" she asked, smoothing my hair.

"I’ll prove it." I dangled the necklace from my finger and lifted up my hair. "Would you?"

"I’d be honored." She fastened it on, then turned me around by my shoulders and straightened it in place so it dangled just at that little indented spot at my throat. "Perfect, go see."

I flipped on the bathroom light and studied myself in the mirror. My eyes went directly to the pendant. Generally, everything about my appearance seemed either imperfect or, at best, plain Jane. My nose always looked to me like a blob of uncooked cookie dough. My hair, skin, and eyes were just one shade off from one another in the color spectrum: caramel skin, bone-straight honey brown hair, dark amber eyes. The pink scrubs hanging as they did on my boyish frame did nothing to improve upon all this.

And I had worn entirely the wrong long-sleeved thermal shirt underneath the V-neck top today. My favorites were in the hamper and poor planning had left me with only this old one, with a V-neck just a touch too deep. I looked at the mirror now and wondered if that corner of my scar—the three nasty stripes angled like accent marks and pebbled in texture like burns, located in the space above my heart—had been peeking out like this all afternoon. It was just two inches long but, when coupled with the pair of scars on my shoulder blades, collectively signaled one big, marred canvas. The necklace clearly should have looked glaringly out of place having me as its unworthy mannequin. But somehow this new piece seemed at home. The intense shine of the gold caught the light and cast a soft glow upon my face. I did like it actually. Perhaps I was growing up at last. Maybe this was the first sign of the sophistication to come. Sixteen. It felt weighty, substantial, important.

"I love it," I called out, still admiring it in the mirror. "Thank you so much."

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Illuminate: A Gilded Wings Novel, Book One 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
ClaireFrith More than 1 year ago
Wow! This book was fantastic! I have been waiting to read this book for awhile now, and finally decided I couldn't wait any longer! I am glad I didn't! Haven Terra was so cute. She just really wanted to do well. She swooned at the PERFECT HOT GUY. It was so typical, and it not once annoyed me! I loved Lance from the start - the nerdy, shy kid. Dante was also a fantastic character - the gay smart kid who just doesn't give a damn and grabs life every chance - he is the gay best friend I really wish I had! Haven, Dante and Lance get accepted to this internship at a hotel, but not everything is as it seems. I found this novel was constantly surprising me! I thought I had it figured out, but alas, I was mostly wrong! The only complaint I have with this book was it was quite long, roughly 530 pages, and I felt it dragged on in some places. But otherwise it was amazing! Buy it, devour it, LOVE IT!
The_Busy_Bibliophile More than 1 year ago
Haven and her two friends are chosen (out of the blue) to work in a prestigious up-and-coming new hotel. I’m not sure what kind of public school system they’re a part of, but they get to leave school and live at the hotel for an entire semester. It’s almost too good to be true. All of the hotel staff are young and impossibly gorgeous and Haven feels pretty special just being a part of it. Soon enough, odd things start happening (a plant spontaneously catches fire, photographs do weird things, people disappear) and Haven becomes suspicious. Throw in a diary in which passages suddenly appear and seem to give Haven directions, and she really gets freaked out. I have to admit, I would have become a little nervous much sooner than Haven and her friends did. Haven was an okay protagonist, though I had some issues with the way she handled some things. She had some scars on her body and didn’t know where they came from (she was an orphan, found on the side of the road), and when in danger, her scars started to hurt. Um, hello? Big fat warning sign. Does Haven pay that any mind? No. When the aforementioned plant catches on fire, she just tosses the thing and forgets about it. Besides the previous nitpicks, I did like how real she was. She was shy and nerdy, but also kind and friendly. I love the way she and her best friend Dante talked to each other, like they’d been friends forever. Lance was a nice addition to their duo and I especially liked how he and Haven grew as friends. Haven’s love interest Lucian and her boss Aurelia (anyone else think of areola when they see that name? No? Just me then?) were supposed to be just regular people, but I never fell for it. They were too perfect and beautiful and cunning and powerful. I never believed they were just normal, so it made it hard for me to be shocked and upset when Haven found out the truth and felt that way. The dialogue was standard stuff, nothing too artsy fartsy or simple. The mystery part of the story was interesting, although I think anybody else would have come to the obvious conclusion sooner than Haven did. But I’m probably just nitpicking. The length of the novel was way too long. The entire middle part dragged on and on. The beginning was interesting, as we learned about the characters and their environment and the ending was fast and held my interest, but the middle was unnecessarily long, without a lot of action or new information to move the story along. The cover is beautiful and appropriate. The wings are subtle (I didn’t even notice them at first) and she actually wears a similar dress in an important scene in the story, so props for that. The sum up: I wasn’t as excited about this book overall as I was in the beginning. It had a lot of promise and started off well, but didn’t finish as strongly as it could have.
LoveyDoveyBooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As seen on WovenMyst -- YA MagazineGood always conquers evil. Aimee Agresti¿s debut teen novel, Illuminate, highlights this message loud and clear. Sectioned into a three part story, readers can feel the pacing and urgency increasing with each turn in the novel.Haven Terra¿s transformation from quiet wallflower to emerging angel-in-training is truly astounding. Thrust into a coveted internship at Chicago¿s up and coming Lexington Hotel, Haven and her companions, Lance and Dante, find perfection in members of the Outfit and their leader, Aurelia Brown. While impressing Aurelia and her second in command, Lucian, Haven finally feels like she¿s found a place she belongs. Haven¿s settles in only to discover how much is not as it seems at Lexington Hotel. With only a mysterious journal to guide her and build confidence in herself and her emerging powers, Haven must learn to navigate shark infested waters to save her soul and the souls of her classmates.The Lexington Hotel is built on the history of Al Capone. Behind the façade of glamour and perfect living Agresti manages to infuse these snippets of history. It seems as though the hotel¿s connection to that section of history fascinates our budding heroine and opens her eyes to all that surrounds her. Haven learns to believe in herself, to be comfortable in the skin she¿s in, and take what life gives her in stride. Her secret training prepares her well for the fight for her life and she gains so much more than what she is promised by the Outfit.Illuminate sheds light on Haven¿s future, but leaves many unanswered questions in its shadow. The following Gilded Wings novel is sure to put forth new challenges to Haven and her loyal comrades. With an ending as sweet as Illuminate¿s the second installment promises more romance and adventure.
ahandfulofconfetti on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Haven Terra and two of her classmates (one of which is her best friend, Dante) are chosen for a prestigious internship at a beautifully restored hotel in downtown Chicago, she's hardly sure what to think. Upon arrival, she's instantly surrounded by the most beautiful, talented people, once of which - Lucian - instantly captures her attention. When he starts to return her interest, at first she can hardly believe her luck. But it soon becomes apparent that there's more going on at that hotel than meets the eye, and Haven finds herself thrust right in the middle of a battle between good and evil. Along the way she discovers truths about herself, and, with the help of a magical book, must find a way to bring everyone at the hotel down.Let me start this review by stating (perhaps) the obvious: this is a very long book. At 519 pages, it was a really hefty tomb to carry around and read. There were portions of the book - particularly the monotony of the daily internship duties - that became tedious and rather slow-moving. Haven, also, is one of those girls who is very book smart but perhaps not so wise in the common sense department. But nonetheless, I really enjoyed this book a lot. I found Haven a really fun narrator (occasional stupidity aside) and liked watching through her eyes as she slowly became more and more confident in herself. Haven has some physical flaws that she really focuses on throughout the first portion of this book, to the point where she dresses to hide them and is very very ashamed of them. But at the end, she kind of realizes that they're not a big deal, and accepts them and just deals with them in a way that I found really refreshing. One thing I will say is that, for someone who calls herself a "tomboy", she sure pays a lot of attention to what others are wearing. Maybe this is because of the gay best friend, Dante, who is always taking her shopping, but I found it a little odd that someone who professes she doesn't care about clothes pays so much attention to them.This book uses some of the old Chicago history of Capone and his gangsters to build the world of the hotel, and I found all of the little tidbits and secret passages very interesting to read about. There is a lot of dialogue in this book, not only when Haven and others are speaking, but dialogue is the way Haven discovers what's truly going on at the hotel; she's listening, not actively doing anything herself. While I mentioned that the specifics of Haven's tasks became a bit tedious, I actually enjoyed the look at what exactly an internship requires, and the little daily tasks that Haven and Lance had to deal with every day, on top of trying to figure out what to do about the overarching problem of the Great Evil brewing. I probably didn't mind it as much, though, because of the growing friendship between Lance and Haven, which really progressed on their daily trips into the city to take care of hotel business. One thing that made me eye roll a bit is that, again, Haven is supposed to be book smart, but she instantly starts listening to this magical book that somehow found her and keeps showing up in her line of sight when she's trying to ignore it. Perhaps it's the Harry Potter fan in me, but I am instantly leery of books that talk to the main characters and don't actually provide any concrete advice or help. I was surprised with how Haven just instantly starts trusting it and following its instructions, especially considering where she is, in a hotel where there are truly treacherous and untrustworthy people. Anyone could have been writing to her, especially since the tasks it sets for her are inherently dangerous and place her in harms way multiple times. But she just continues to blindly follow, without any true attempt to ignore it.I could tell that this book had something to do with angels from the cover (and the series name), and that's what initially drew me to check it out. I am always looking for a book that handles the subjects of
suz.haugland on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Illuminate is an exciting mystical tale full of independence intermingled with luxurious splendor, and the knowledge of greater strength yet to be discovered. It is a cleverly written and breath-taking whirlwind of intrigue with a rich and wildly dark but compelling story arc. Powerfully alluring and filled with beautiful people and dark illustrious sinister plots sure to hook readers and draw them in this enthralling and enchanting world. It isn¿t just another novel involving angels. It's so much more than that, boldly daring to be extraordinarily original. It is a tale readers won't be forgetting anytime soon, as it transports them to a magical place full of mystery, power, and undeniable suspense.It is a lively and highly influencing story filled with dark and alluring characters. The beautiful people, as they¿re referred to, full of so much power, flawed realistically, and fascinating mystery. Their tale is wondrous and will draw readers in and keep them enchanted and mesmerized. These are characters that are not to be forgotten anytime soon. Haven is such a delightful heroine to get to know and is well developed as the novel progresses. She is such a lovely well-rounded fearless character that possesses such a likeable quality, filled with compassion and intelligence. The romance she shared with Lance was one of the sweetest things about the novel. It's incredibly easy to connect with these magnificently written characters, as Agresti writes them in such a realistic and delightfully enjoyable way. Illuminate is filled with wonderful twists and turns that will surely leave readers intrigued with the mystery all the way through to the end. It is such a beautifully written fast-paced, well-developed action packed tale full of heart stopping danger and wonderfully sinister villains with dark agendas of their own. It's exciting and daring and highly original, it is sure to make Agresti a fast favorite and stand out in the world of young adult fiction. Agresti is an amazing new debut author bursting onto the scene with such a captivating and compelling novel that readers are sure to love. Fans of the illustrious Michelle Zink, the awe-inspiring richly dark tales of Lauren deStefano, and the intriguing writing style of Kimberly Derting will be sure to enjoy this wonderful pulsating novel full of wonder and amazement.
TValeros on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
3 - 4 STARS Illuminate by Aimee Agresti is a romantically captivating Angel story! Filled with enjoyable characters that will have you wanting to befriend, and some not so much (they're evil I tell you!); an intriguing plot and a whole-lotta angst you wouldn't know what to do with! To begin, the cover is more than gorgeous! I really like the shadowy effect of wings as if she really has them (you'll understand my hinting if you've read the book). It's the major reason I really wanted to read Illuminate, the second being the synopsis. I have to admit this took me WAY longer than it should have to read/finish. The story really wasn't that bad, and the only way you will know that is if you've read to the end without skipping/skimming any pages. It was really long [534 pgs] when it could have been spruced up shorter, and it's the reason why it felt like it dragged on. The first few pages were filled with unnecessary descriptions and were a bit excessive. Two thirds of the way it just started to feel lengthy where it could have been edited a bit or condensed in some parts. I can't remember where it started to catch my interest, but it does get interesting once you pass that hurdle. I love the three main characters! Dante is adorable and I SO want one for myself! The love drama is cute and not over done. I still don't know which guy I like the most. Haven is very likable and you just want her to succeeded in what she does and tries to accomplish. Lance is such a nerd, but a nerd to be reckoned with! My only disappointment aside from the length is the lacking of Haven's past along with the confusing cryptic mystery of the book and postcards which I'm hoping will be cleared and explained more in the second book. I LOVED the ending! There is really not that much to say about it because it was a great and perfect way to finish the story. Even though I cried at one point the result was still SWEET! LOVED IT! If you don't mind novels that are long-drawn-out (which are great for rainy days mind you) then this is the book for you!! It is also a great Angel story to add to your list! Get Illuminate'd' =)
usagijihen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
4.5/5 stars!Oh, this book was SO much fun. I seriously can¿t wait for the rest of the series, because this world of kind-of-angels and glamazon (I love that term!) demons was just too awesome. For a first book in the series, I found ¿Illuminate¿ to be incredibly filled out and well-rounded, with nothing for me to really pick at. I loved this more modern spin on the old Judeo-Christian-Islam ideas of angels/demons ¿ it¿s definitely one of the more original angel-genre books that has come out in the last few months. If you like your heroines determined and full of gumption with a tiny serving of romance on the side, ¿Illuminate¿ is one you can¿t miss.What impressed me the most was that Agresti was able to construct this completely new world upon so many myths and legends we know well about demons and the devil and then cram it into such a small space of an old famous Chicago hotel. Worldbuilding is hard to do, and keeping it to the page is even harder, but shrinking it to one particular building (with Hell/Metamorfosi attached) is the hardest thing to do, I think, and Agresti did this with grace and flare. She took a lot of risks with how she reinterpreted how Hell/Purgatory/Heaven works, but it all flowed really well. I didn¿t find myself hung up on any one area due to rage over bad or lack of character development, which pleased me greatly.As for romance ¿ even with the kind-of insta-romance with Lucian, Haven figures things out pretty quickly and recognizes that it¿s more lust than love. Whereas the real romance that happens, happens very very slowly. And that is so refreshing in YA right now, I can¿t even express how happy I was to see that in this book. And I¿m glad that there was some time given to Dante as a gay boy in terms of romance (even if it wasn¿t real) ¿ the way Agresti handled having an LGBTQ character was realistic with Dante¿s feelings of ¿you have no idea how I feel¿ and being more easily tempted to join the Outfit than the others due to his feelings of isolation because of non-heterosexuality. I¿m glad she didn¿t couch him in bullying and suicide like so much of YA fiction does. The fact that his feelings are even discussed in a romantic nature at all had me thrilled because he felt like a real person and not just the girl¿s best gay boy friend who¿s fabulous in fashion trope that feels so overused right now in our culture as a whole, even if it does have some truth to it. Dante has dimensions and I¿m so very happy Agresti made his character thus.I think the only area I was slightly disappointed in, however, was how almost unbreakable Haven was at times in terms of her steadfastness of being good. Even if Lucian may have been her ¿weak spot¿ in terms of possibly turning to the dark side, I think it was incredibly underplayed and if anything, wanted Haven to give into temptation a little bit more before figuring out how bad things actually were at the Lexington. If anything, I hope Agresti will possibly explore what could have happened had Haven decided to join the Outfit/Legion as opposed to the fate she actually chose. I think that would make for good character development through torturing Haven a bit with the ¿could have beens¿ and ¿what ifs¿ about her choice. I love it when authors torture their characters and I think that Agresti could have done that a bit more here. She stayed her hand, but I¿m hoping the next books will go all out with really testing Haven¿s sense of self and character. That said, Haven is a wonderful heroine that is just the type that I adore in YA fiction ¿ strong, self-reliant, and not helpless and having to choose between two boys all the time.Another area that really shone here: Agresti¿s use of sensory language. I really wanted to wear the dresses, eat the concoctions from the kitchens, and sweat with the dancers ¿ and it felt as if I were able to do so through her nearly surreal descriptions of the Lexington and where we were with Haven at any given moment. Everything was elegan
DarkFaerieTales on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie TalesQuick & Dirty: This book is beautifully written, but about a third too long. The description buries the tension that¿s needed to build up the plot, which takes a long time to get to.Opening Sentence: Up until that point, English class had been unremarkable.The Review:The Lexington Hotel is being brought back to life. It¿s becoming the exclusive destination for locals and tourists. Everyone wants in. Based off the history Al Capone has with the hotel, the staff prides itself on the Outfit. The Outfit, for those who aren¿t Chicago locals, was the name of Capone¿s gang. While the Lexington prides itself on its rich history, Aurelia Brown is bringing it back in style. It¿s beautiful, fashionable, and exclusive. Just like her Outfit. The beautiful, stylish group that helps run the hotel and create the image of perfection. It might take her a bit, but soon Haven realizes there¿s a lot more to the hotel, and the Outfit, than the rest of the world knows.Haven Terra is a geeky, ambitious tomboy with no social life. At the age of 5 she was found abandoned in a ditch (a past that¿s barely mentioned) and gets adopted by the nurse that took care of her at the hospital. You find out a lot more about her life prior to Lexington Hotel in the first two chapters, which are pretty much just her going about a normal day. Haven gets a prestigious internship at Lexington as a part of some government education plan for exceptional students. Instead of school, for a semester she¿ll be with her best friend Dante and a third intern from their school named Lance working in different capacities with Aurelia Brown.Honestly, Aurelia is a fantastic villain. It¿s hard to find antagonists that the author has completely fleshed out, but I loved how flawed and complex Aurelia¿s character was. She has her strong moments but also her weaknesses. And Lance and Lucian were my other favorite characters. Lance is the most gradually characterized in this novel. He starts out as the shy skinny kid with glasses, but becomes the star of the show. Of all the characters, he was the only one I really trusted to be on Haven¿s side. His transformation is not like Haven¿s, who I found a little hard to relate to.Haven is supposed to be this nerdy loner but suddenly acquires great social skills and fashion sense when coming to Lexington. Even though the book was told from her point of view, I didn¿t feel very connected to her. This is a surprise to me too, because after 500 pages you¿d hope to have a connection. I think part of the problem is that her narrative voice is so weighed down by exposition and descriptions that I feel like I¿m more interested in the hotel than in her.Overall, I did like the plot. It took a whole two hundred pages before I got a hint of it, but once I got there the book began to pick up some speed. But getting there was a bit of a trial. Agresti has built an amazingly haunted world within the Lexington Hotel, her descriptions are beautiful, but really I could have done without so many long paragraphs. It has a bit of an angel twist to it, which was fun to read and a bit unexpected. However, I¿m still sketchy on a lot of the details of the plot that should have been wrapped up but were forgotten about. Hopefully, we¿ll get all the answers in the next book.Notable Scene:¿I can¿t believe you¿ve got your own bachelorette pad and Lance and I have to share,¿ he said with an exaggerate pout.¿Sorry¿but not that sorry.¿ I smiled.¿You know that dude got almost a twenty-four hundred on his SATs?¿¿Why is that always the first question you ask people? If you weren¿t so cute, people would really hate you.¿¿Let it go, fifteen hundred.¿¿I don¿t test well. You¿re mean.¿¿Please, you love me. Just saw a bunch of glamazons in the hall. Can we please revisit our discussion about how everyone is, like, drop-dead gorgeous around here?¿¿Must be something in the water.¿¿Let¿s hope. Drink up, sister.¿¿You said it. Seriously though, what¿s
mimi-vee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars!Three words to describe this book: Beautiful, original, and absolutely MAGICAL! It wasn't just the story that was magical, but the romance and setting too! I honestly didn't know what to expect when I started reading this book, but Illuminate surprised me with how enchanting it all was. Kind of like a fairytale spell.I'm pretty picky with my angel books (although I didn't even know this was an angel book until I read it!), but I adored Aimee Agresti's interpretation! Just like the storyline, it was completely original with a sort of mystical feel to it that only added to the intrigue. But my favourite thing had to be the characters. Sweet, intelligent, and passionate about photography, Haven was so easy to connect with. And her romance with Lance was honestly one of the sweetest I've ever read! It was refreshing and realistic (no insta-love here!), and he just had to be one of the most adorable boys in YA! Both mysterious and mystifying, Illuminate was a debut that swept me off my feet! The only thing is that some parts seemed a little long, but otherwise I had no complaints. Aimee Agresti is definitely an author to watch out for! :) BUY or BORROW?: With its gorgeous cover and magical storyline, this is a book that every angel-fan should have on their shelf!
jennrenae on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reviewed on the YA Sisterhood Blog my link text As I was reading Illuminate, my favorite quote kepting popping into my head: ¿"Are there, infinitely varying with each individual, inbred forces of Good and Evil in all of us, deep down below the reach of mortal encouragement and mortal repression -- hidden Good and hidden Evil, both alike at the mercy of the liberating opportunity and the sufficient temptation?"¿ --No Name by Wilkie Collins We all would like to believe that we would be that person who stands up for someone in trouble, even if it puts us in danger. It¿s our base desire to be good¿I believe we all have it, deep within us. But let¿s face it, unless we are put in that position, none of us really know how we would react. On the other hand, I believe we also have, rooted deep within us, an evil or corrupt nature. Which nature we choose to act on is what defines our past, our present, our future, and most importantly¿our afterlife. In Illuminate, each character¿s soul is in the middle of a tug-o-war between good and evil. Who will fight and who will fall when the ¿sufficient temptation¿ rolls around? I had initially planned to write it in a very typical format. You know the format¿this is what¿s great, this is what¿s not so great¿but I don¿t think that, with Illuminate, I could bring out what makes this book special. So, instead, I am going to narrow my review down to dichotomies, which is the very essence of this book. Aimee Agresti begins with a stereotypical problem that many have faced in their lifetimes, and from there, these stereotypical characters in a stereotypical situation bloom into the anything but ordinary¿¿the paradiso.¿ OR so it would seem. Popular vs. Pariah Coming from a small school where you can participate in everything and being a part of the popular crowd made me like the antagonists the best (don¿t judge me, bad guys are awesome¿.kind of like I root for Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty or Draco in Harry Potter). Full of corrupt power, Aurelia is the quintessential temptation for those who desire fame or fortune. As you will find soon into the book, Aurelia and her band of glamorous followers have sold their own souls and are in the business of buying others' souls. While I wouldn¿t dream of selling my soul for anything, you can definitely see the more negative desire of the human heart in her, and thus, on some level, relate to her. On the other hand, Haven is the quiet, smart girl in school. After teaching for a few years, I can unequivocally see how so many people would relate to her situation. If you know what it¿s like to be overlooked (and hey, we all do at some point), then you will relate to Haven. Or, if like me, you sometimes live in a fantasy world where you wake up and it¿s you who has the strange power or the magical destiny, then you will love how Haven goes from the insignificant student to the confident and power-wielding hero. Past vs. Future I enjoyed the idea that Haven (and Lance¿s for that matter) past is murky. Both were orphans, adopted by someone who encouraged them to fight for their future. So while the past is unknown, dark, and scary; they each work and work to make sure that their future is exactly how they picture it¿if only it would stay that way. Much about the past is left unanswered in this first book, so we¿ll just have to wait and see why Haven was left on the side of the road to die or why Lance was left all alone at a firehouse. I will tie time into this dichotomy as well, for like our human reality, the demon reality that Aurelia, Lucian, and The Outfit live in, time is a commodity. With each new induction (a ceremony where the purchase of a soul is complete), one old soul must return to the Underworld. As long as a demon is providing souls, his or her time won¿t be up. What happens when there is a spark of good left in the demon¿s soul? Good vs. Evil The first quote that Agresti has in her novel is from Oscar Wilde¿s A Picture of Dorian Gray, ¿The soul is a te
thebookwormsorg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Illuminate has all the makings of a beautiful and enchanting read. Aimee Agresti chose a realistic setting and within wove the worlds of Heaven and Hell. The writing was beautiful and I was hooked from the first chapter. Agresti enthralls the reader with such a beautiful and glamorous setting!Haven Terra is chosen for an internship at the prestigious new hotel, The Lexington. She notices the glamour and the beauty of the hotel's employees and feels a little out of place, but she's determined to do this internship and excel. Haven is awestruck by Aurelia and Lucian, the mysterious front-runners of The Outfit. But, Haven is smart and with clues from an unusual source and friends at her side, she learns more about what she is and the reasons she was chosen for this job.I loved that Haven was normal, just like any other girl in high school. She carries no 'glamazon' status and is eagerly waiting for her chance to succeed and do something grand. Even as Haven gains confidence, she never loses herself in the lifestyle the hotel offers. She's a consistent character and her voice is so smart and beautiful. Dante and Lance were wonderful supporter characters, representing the outgoing and shy side of the students. Lance was an amazing guy. He was very shy and it was a slow process in getting to know him, but it was very realistic and true to his personality....and well worth it!Now, as for Lucian...he is a beautiful and romantic type of guy. He's mysterious and his intentions are never made clear. Which drove me a little mad! Lucian is someone you love and hate at the same time. There are quirks that drop ideas in your head and then others that make you say "aww". With him, its just a roller coaster of emotions.Agresti's Illuminate world is very glam and 20's reminiscent (which I love), and yet still very realistic to today's standards. She kept everything together at a slower pace and threw curve balls throughout, which is guarantee to start your engine and throw you into the mystery of it all. I really enjoyed reading this book and I hope that when you read it, you'll feel the same way! Highly recommended.For those who like: Good vs. evil, mystery, romance, glamorous settingsSource: Publisher (ARC)
pollywannabook on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Review courtesy of All Things Urban FantasyAngel books tend to be hit or miss for me. More often than not I find them to be on the hellish than heavenly side and especially prone to unoriginality. As much as I was hoping ILLUMINATE by Aimee Agresti would be a bright exception, it wasn¿t.The writing is decent, especially in the vivid description passages of the Lexington Hotel and the exquisite architecture and art that defined Chicago in the 1920¿s. I also liked the overt nods to THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, but I had an issue with the opening premise that unfortunately set the tone for the rest of the book. Haven and two other brilliant academics from her high school get chosen to participate in an internship living and working at the famous Lexington Hotel. Poof, all three are excused from the rest of the school year and shipped off. It¿s a job. They get paid. There are no classes. None of the adults in the story have any problem with these three teenagers essentially dropping out of school for the rest of the year to do this. What? If it was during the summer, that¿s one thing, but this was in the middle of the school year. Worse still, all three are assigned semi random jobs that apart from Haven¿s photography, they have little to no experience with. Like having to paint a master level mural after visiting a museum for a few hours. It made no sense.It didn¿t help that Haven was saddled with a superficial and annoying best friend named Dante who ran around squeeing about all the hot guys he saw and dressing up Haven like she was his personal Barbie doll. The other characters, with one exception, were also stereotypes that reoccur in every other paranormal book out there. And wow was it long. Plus there are these frustratingly cryptic messages that Haven gets full of meaningless platitudes and insipid lines about trusting herself and being prepared for anything. Super helpful.ILLUMINATE is not the heavenly read it wanted to be. Clichéd characters, recycled plotlines, and a bloated narrative made for a tedious and uninspired read. If you¿re looking for demons and angels in YA try the Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick, the Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand, or THE SPACE BETWEEN by Brenna Yovanoff. This one was a dud.Sexual Content:Kissing
Bookswithbite on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book for me was slow, but once I warmed up to it and got into the middle part of the book it got better.Though the plot line is good, there is a lot of foundation to the character as well as a mystery. What I liked most about this book are the great characters. Here we have characters that are taken out of the world they've know and thrown into something else. I adored their strength in who they are and what they a becoming. Each character is given an incentive or motive to the plan. Each plan is carefully detailed into the plot so that the reader gets to go on an adventure!The love interest in this book took a complete turn I did not see! I love that I was surprised as well shock. Not that I did not mind the new love interest, I just wanted to see more than what I did. I am hoping that in the next book we get more characters who were minor yet played a bigger role than I ever imagined.Illuminate is an great book. Filled with loads of mystery, secrets, and paintings that change before your eyes, and a hot dude that makes your jaw drop.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down! It's fantastic!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting story, quick reading, suspenseful, good versus evil theme.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! It was well written and very exciting to read. At one point I almost started crying because I felt so much for the characters. Its worth the buy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is ridiculous! Why is the paperback cheaper than the nook book! Amzons' version is only $7.43, just something to think about. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was throughly enjoyable. I loved the length of it-- it felt not too short, but not too long, and kept me reading. I learned a great bit about myself interwoven in these pages, and I believe the novel showed a lot on the true American Dream. Haven kept her faith in the truth that hard work for goals brings true happiness, and that instant gratification is fruitless, and that is what saved her in the end. I love the Seven Deadly Sins theme in the Vault, and Lance was my favorite character. Not to spoil or anything but at THAT MOMENT there in the end (you know what I'm talking about if you read it already), I shouted, "I KNEW IT!!" And grinned widely. Spectacular story of not knowing your own strength and is very reccommended :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you have not already read this book, READ IT. It is such a great book.
lahls More than 1 year ago
These are the kind of books that I love to read. Ones that I can not put down. It just seems that with the series books They can't publish them fast enough for me
FireStarBooks More than 1 year ago
At first, I didn't really like Haven because she just seemed like the perfect student. Ugh. But as she became an intern, she was mature, sophisticated and professional. I really admired her. She was able to collect herself and conquer obstacles. It definitely in a way reminded me of The Devil Wears Prada. Dante was a bit feminine which I love! He was sweet, FUN, and caring. EEEE! Best friend material! *arms flail* Dante was your typical hyperactive kid. Wally (Wally West from DC Comics), and Naruto (Naruto from the Naruto manga) like. Lance seemed sweet and cool. I mean he wore glasses! Hello! You know I kind of have a thing for "nerdy chic". I mean my love for the guy below can be prove to that. Granted he is not real. I really enjoyed the slow build up between Lance and Haven. Some of you might know I hate instalove with the "Every-touch-sends-a-spark- and-I-want-to-be-with-you-forever" thing. Their friendship was very sweet, and very subtle. Lucian, wow, he was such a flirt. He was smoooooth. The tiny gestures that goes on between Lucian and Haven. Woowoo mister! I really couldn't pick whether I am Team Lance or Team Lucian. And what can I say about Aurelia? When she talked, it contained mystery and depth to it. At times she really reminded me of your "old-wise-one-mentor-with-the-philosophical-sayings-without-being-all-wrinkly". At time, I get the feelings like I'm reading the Mortal Instrument Series and the Iron Fey Series. The hotel totally reminded me of the Lotus Casino in The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. The hotel was just breathtaking! (Oh yeah so was Alcatraz as well!) One thing that I completely fell for was that the hotel set the week with the theme of the seven deadly sins. What came to my mind immediately was FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST! Yeah, that was off topic. I really enjoyed the historical reference to Chicago, the prohibition, Al Capone etc. The only thing "bad" about this book was that it was too long. I think there was too many dialogues and a lot of blah blah. That's why it is 511 pages long. There was basically a 100 page intro to the basic setting and few main characters. Overall this book was beautifully written. Aimee created a complete magical world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and believe that the length did nothing to skew the brilliant story line, and funny, captivating characters. 5 stars for sure.