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The Ether: Vero Rising (Ether Series #1)
     

The Ether: Vero Rising (Ether Series #1)

5.0 9
by Laurice Elehwany Molinari
 

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The Fiercest of Warriors?

Vero Leland always suspected he was different from others his own age, ever since his childhood attempts to fly. But he never could have predicted the truth—or how much his life was about to change.

Soon after his twelfth birthday, Vero learns he is a guardian angel and is abruptly transported to the

Overview

The Fiercest of Warriors?

Vero Leland always suspected he was different from others his own age, ever since his childhood attempts to fly. But he never could have predicted the truth—or how much his life was about to change.

Soon after his twelfth birthday, Vero learns he is a guardian angel and is abruptly transported to the Ether, the spiritual realm that surrounds the earth. Yet before he can be counted among these fierce warriors, Vero must learn to master his growing powers, competing with other angels-in- training and battling demonic creatures known as maltures as well as mythical creatures such as the leviathan.

Until his instruction is complete, Vero needs to alternate between the Ether and his regular life. If he survives training and accepts his destiny—a destiny he did not choose—he must leave everything behind, including his family and the life he loves. Meanwhile, an evil is growing—the maltures are rising, and Vero appears to be their target.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
12/23/2013
Screenwriter Molinari debuts with an action-packed but derivative novel that kicks off the Ether series. Vero Leland is a 12-year-old whose youthful fascination with heights and flight presages a startling discovery: he's a guardian angel. He is taken to the Ether—an upper-air world—for training, and the narrative alternates between his life in suburban America with his fellow middle-schoolers and his life in the Ether with his angel peers in CANDLE (Cathedral of Angels for Novice Development, Learning, and Edification). The Ether allows for some highly imaginative adventures, but training young students to wield their powers is a familiar trope, and novelists offering an edifying Christian alternative to the fictional worlds of Percy Jackson and other super-powered young heroes have gone to the angelic well a lot (Jonah Stone, the Halflings series). The good-versus-evil dynamic and quick pacing of scenes owe both to movies, given Molinari's experience, and to Christian thrillermeister Frank Peretti. Molinari offers some engaging characters and exciting moments, but falls short in terms of imagination. Ages 9–12. Agents: Jan Miller and Nena Madonia, Dupree Miller & Associates. (Feb.)
Book List
Vero Leland wants to fly, and not just that, he feels like he should fly, like it’s a natural state for him. An adopted child of a nurse and an analyst, Vero at 12 is smarter, stronger, faster, and better than most of the kids he goes to school with, and it shows. He understands college-level writing assignments and can leap multiple hurdles in a single bound. Truly, Vero is different. But it’s only when he’s trapped by evil creatures that he realizes how different: he is destined to become a guardian angel. He can escape into the mystical Ether to learn how to fly and defend his future charges, along with other fledgling angels, and more adventure is surely on its way. His family and friends are mostly unaware, but Vero believes in his future and has faith. This book has definite Christian and spiritual themes, though they are carefully measured and not totally overpowering. It may not appeal to all adventure and fantasy readers, but despite the potentially heavy-handed good-versus-evil plot, it’s an easygoing read.--- Stacey Comfort
Church Libraries
Readers are given a glimpse into the world of angels and demons in this tale of adventure. Vero Leland, a 12-yearold boy with a passion for flight, discovers he’s a guardian angel after saving a classmate’s life. Vero is literally thrown into an ancient battle of good versus evil as he struggles to accept his calling and finally finds his wings. Molinari provides a stimulating plot alongside a fascinating view of angelic duties. The action is well-balanced and exciting. Although character development feels a bit rushed, motivations and dialogue remain within the realm of belief. Potential readers should be aware that Jewish theology is prevalent throughout the story. This book is a good fit for older kids and young teens, especially boys. KLK
School Library Journal
03/01/2014
Gr 4–6—Twelve-year-old Vero, who has always known deep down that he could fly, discovers that he is a guardian angel. He begins his training with others his age in The Ether, a mystical world in which preteen angels face physical trials, harsh landscapes, vividly realized monsters, and challenges to their faith. The author's roots as a television writer show through in the episodic, cinematic scenes. Narrated in the third person, chapters switch locations and time periods, often to the detriment of the overall flow. Character motivations are lacking, aside from the sympathetic Vero. The portrayal of Judiasm, as embodied by a young Jewish girl who explains various Christian ideas (she is regarded as an expert as a result of training for her Bat Mitzvah), seems included primarily to bolster Evangelical beliefs. The underlying themes place this title and its probable sequels with fans of "Left Behind Kids" (Tyndale House).—Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780310735588
Publisher:
Zonderkidz
Publication date:
02/04/2014
Series:
Ether Series , #1
Sold by:
Zondervan Publishing
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
738,805
File size:
865 KB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Ether


By Laurice E. Molinari

ZONDERKIDZ

Copyright © 2014 Laurice E. Molinari
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-73555-7



CHAPTER 1

THE LEAP OF FAITH


Vero Leland had been trying to fly ever since he was old enough to stand. His earliest memory was standing on the rail of his crib, perfectly balanced like an Olympic gymnast on a balance beam. He fully expected his mother to clap when she turned around and saw him. Vero remembers stretching out his arms, intending to fly into his mother's outstretched hands. But instead of clapping, she turned and let out a heartrending shriek. Startled, Vero hit the floor with a thud and cried hard as his mother cradled him.

But what Vero's mother, Nora, didn't realize was that Vero wasn't crying in pain. He was crying tears of frustration from failing to get airborne.

After the crib incident, Vero didn't stop trying to fly. Instead, he became quite the climber. He'd climb and throw himself off the kitchen table, his parents' bed, the piano, and pretty much anything with a few feet of air below it ... until the winter of his fourth year. That's when his flying attempts reached a new and dangerous high.

It happened late one afternoon when Dennis Leland, Vero's father, was standing on a ladder and stringing hundreds of Christmas lights across the front of their two-story suburban house. Dennis was very particular about his holiday light display. Each bulb needed to hang exactly two inches away from the next, and they all had to extend fully, to just beneath the gutter. Christmas displays were taken very seriously in their suburban neighborhood of Attleboro, Maryland.

The men who lived on Vero's block had an ongoing competition, and each December the holiday displays grew more and more elaborate. Front yards were cluttered with inflatable Santas, seven-foot tall snowmen, and animatronic reindeer. One dad even convinced his wife and young children to perform a live nativity each night, complete with a real donkey and goat. However, the goat was quickly sent back to the petting zoo after it ate the plastic sprinkler heads, causing impressive geysers that drenched his family and ruined the nativity.

It was a clear but chilly December day when Vero's father climbed down the ladder to test the magnificent light show. Wearing his one-piece brown coveralls and his checkered hat with earflaps, he rubbed his hands together and said, "This is it, Vero."

With great pomp and ceremony, Dennis dramatically picked up the plug of the extension cord ... all of his hard work was about to come to fruition. But when he finally took a deep breath and plugged the extension cord into the outlet, nothing happened. The lights failed to illuminate. Vero heard him use a word he'd never heard before, followed by, "I'm gonna have to check every stinkin' light bulb one at a time."

A few minutes later, Dennis grumbled miserably as he started to climb the ladder with some extra bulbs in hand.

Vero called down to his father and said, "It's okay, Daddy. I can help." While his dad had been inside the house getting some fresh bulbs, Vero had climbed the ladder and now stood proudly on the roof. Being small and nimble, Vero thought he could walk along the steep roof and check each one of the bulbs for his dad, saving him numerous trips up and down the ladder.

Vero could tell his dad was thrilled with the idea because Dennis was standing completely still on the ladder and looking at Vero with huge eyes. But when Vero caught sight of the surrounding neighborhood below, his penchant for flying took hold of him again.

"Daddy! I could fly from up here!" Vero shouted, grinning wildly.

"No, Vero! No!" his father shouted. "Don't move! I'm coming to get you!" He took two more steps up the ladder before his boot slipped, and he fell smack on his back. Luckily, a small bush broke his fall.

"Daddy, are you okay?"

Then piercing shrieks were heard as Vero's mother ran out of the house wearing an apron splattered with powdered sugar. Her cries alerted the curious neighbors.

Mr. Atwood from next door was the first one on the scene, since he was already outside admiring his "It's a Small World" display. He didn't notice Vero up on the roof at first.

"For Pete's sake," he said. "Calm down the both of you. It's probably just a bum light bulb." Then he glanced up and saw Vero peering down at them. "Holy cow!" he yelled. "That kid's crazy!"

When Mrs. Atwood arrived moments later, Mr. Atwood wagged his stubby finger in his wife's stunned face and said, "I told you that kid was off, but you never believed me! Remember that time I found him in our tree trying to jump off a branch that was as high as the house? I almost broke my neck climbing up after him!"

"Quiet, Albert! I'm calling 9–1–1!" Mrs. Atwood yelled, cell phone in hand.

"Maybe it's all a big stunt to draw attention to his Christmas display?" Mr. Atwood muttered to himself as he watched more and more neighbors gather. "I wouldn't put it past Leland."

Vero's father, meanwhile, had regained his footing and was attempting to climb the ladder once again.

"Yes, hurry!" Mrs. Atwood shouted into the phone. "The wind is gusting. It could knock the boy clear off the roof!"

Mrs. Atwood ended the call and then turned to help Vero's mother, who looked to be in a state of shock. She took off her coat and wrapped it around Nora's shoulders. "The dispatcher promised the fire truck would be here any minute."

"Vero, please don't move ..." his mother said weakly. Vero saw she had flour on her cheek, streaked with a teardrop.

"Don't cry, Mommy," Vero told her. "I know I can do it this time."

Vero's five-year-old sister, Clover, joined them outside. She'd been baking cookies with her mother, and she had flour in her blonde hair and down the front of her shirt. She opened her arms wide and called up to her little brother, "Jump, Vero! I'll catch you!"

Nora quickly clasped a hand over her daughter's mouth.

By now Vero's father had reached the top of the ladder. He tried to grab his son, but Vero was beyond arm's reach; so he only managed to graze Vero's foot with his fingertips.

As Vero inched away from his dad, he became unsteady on his feet, and a collective gasp rippled over the gathering below. Yet somehow Vero regained his balance, and the watching crowd breathed a sigh of relief.

It was all too much for Vero's mother who fainted. Luckily she landed in the lap of the inflatable Mrs. Claus.

Mrs. Claus is cradling Mommy like a baby, Vero thought. And that's when a shiny red hook and ladder fire truck pulled around the corner with its siren blaring.

Vero felt absolutely wonderful. He smiled broadly and stretched his arms out wide, feeling the cold rush of the oncoming wind. It was exhilarating!

The fire truck's ladder swiftly extended, and a fireman stood in the enclosed basket, ready to carry Vero back to the safety of the ground below.

Vero watched as Mr. Atwood cautiously approached the fire captain now standing beside the hook and ladder. When the fire captain finished barking orders into his walkie-talkie, Mr. Atwood said, "Captain, when this is all over, would you mind helping me out next door? I really need a lift in your basket. You see, I've got this Santa that I'd like to stick upside down in my chimney so it looks like he's diving in headfirst."

Fire Captain Conrad looked at Mr. Atwood incredulously. "Absolutely not," he said. Then he turned to the crowd and shouted, "Clear the area! We're trying to save a life here!"

Vero saw Mrs. Atwood slap the back of Mr. Atwood's head as they moved away from the truck.

"Hi, Vero," the fireman in the basket said, as the basket stopped level with the roof's peak. "Climbing onto a roof is a first for you, isn't it? We've done this in trees before, but never on a roof—at least not with me."

Vero looked at the fireman and smiled in recognition.

"Hi, Fireman Bob," Vero said.

"It's okay, Vero. Don't be afraid. I'm gonna help you just like I did before," Fireman Bob said slowly, as he reached his arms toward Vero.

But Vero wasn't scared. He looked down and saw that his mother was slowly waking up in Mrs. Claus's inflatable arms. And just as Fireman Bob almost grabbed him, Vero took a deep breath, jumped backward off the roof peak, and disappeared behind the house!

The neighbors gasped. Vero's mother immediately passed out again.

After Vero leapt off the house, the wind whipped against his face, and he felt like a bird soaring through the sky! Freefalling felt as natural to him as breathing.

But Vero's flying ecstasy was short-lived. Some powerful force—something other than the hard ground—abruptly ended his peaceful flight. He felt a sudden tightening around his chest like a yo-yo being yanked backward on a string.

Vero suddenly found himself in the arms of a man who'd somehow caught him in midair.

"Vero," the man said, "that's enough with the flying."

Vero didn't recognize him as one of the neighbors. He was an older man with longish silver-white hair, a closely trimmed beard, and violet eyes. He wore jeans and a red puffy winter coat.

"I can't always be here to catch you," the man said. "I need you to promise me you'll stop."

"But I have to fly," Vero told him.

"In time," the stranger replied, and he gently lowered Vero to the ground. "Everything in its own time. But for now, I need you to promise me you won't try to fly again until you know it's the right time."

Vero looked hard at the man. There was something familiar and likeable about him, and Vero thought he could trust him. Yet at the same time, Vero knew the man meant what he said.

"Vero?"

Four-year-old Vero nodded. "Okay, Santa," he said, and he grabbed the man's beard with both hands.

"I'm not Santa Claus."

"But you're wearing a red coat ..."

The stranger chuckled and said, "I'm too thin to be Santa Claus." As they heard the frenzied crowd rushing toward the backyard from the front of the house, the man locked eyes with Vero and said, "I expect you to keep your word."

Vero nodded again.

"All right. Now, I'm sorry about this next part, but it has to look believable," the man told him. And with that, the man twisted Vero's left ankle.

Vero screamed in pain, "That hurt!"

"I'm letting you off easy. It's only a sprain. Protocol says I should break both of them."

The panicked crowd descended upon Vero who was now sitting on the ground holding his ankle.

"He's alive!" shouted the fire captain.

Vero's father picked him up and hugged him tightly, and his mother had awakened and was right beside him. Vero saw tears streaming down his father's face, and his mom had flour-streaked tear marks across both cheeks now. Vero felt bad for upsetting them.

Clover walked up and said, "He's okay. The man just twisted his ankle."

"What man?" her father asked.

"The one sitting in that tree," she pointed.

Everyone looked at the tree. There was no man in it.

Mr. Atwood shook his head and muttered, "She's just as crazy as her brother."

CHAPTER 2

BIRDS OF FLIGHT


Vero gave up his attempts to fly, but not because his parents installed safety bars on all the upstairs windows. Vero stopped because he didn't want to break his promise to the man who'd caught him. However, staying grounded wasn't easy.

On the family's vacation to Maine last summer, they'd hiked along cliffs overlooking the ocean, and Vero had to fight the urge to throw himself off the precipice and soar over the magnificent deep blue water below. He quickly jumped back and hugged the rock walls, as sweat poured down his face.

"Vero, what's wrong?" his mom asked.

"I ... I ... guess it's the height," Vero said. He couldn't let her know the truth.

"Wimp," Clover said. "Do you need to be carried the rest of the way?"

"Clover ..." Nora said in her warning voice.

"Keep your eyes on your feet and don't look up," Vero's dad advised. "Follow the path that way, and you'll make it to the bottom just fine."

Vero put on a good show. He did as his father instructed, made it safely to their rented cottage, and then stretched out on the sofa.

His mom felt his forehead and said, "You're a little warm."

"I'm okay."

Ignoring him, she spread a cool wet washcloth across his forehead. "Lie here for a while," she said.

Vero did as his mother instructed. As a matter of fact, because the allure of the cliffs proved to be so strong, he stayed on the sofa for pretty much the whole vacation, just watching TV and playing video games.

"If I'd known you were going to spend our entire vacation sitting in this cottage, we could have saved the money and stayed home," Vero's dad said.

He's right, Vero thought. Just not for the reason he imagines.


* * *

Last year while on a field trip to a local amusement park, Vero's friends harassed him because he wanted to ride on the Twirly—the giant carousel swings that rise up from the ground and spin around and around.

"Come on, Vero! Let's go on the Cyclone!" his best friend Tack said.

They stood on the pavement between the two rides and watched the Cyclone pass by overhead, spinning its screaming passengers upside down.

"I heard some kid puked on it earlier!" Tack said. "It's so awesome!"

Vero watched the coaster spin away and said, "Nah, I think I'll stay here. Come find me when you're done."

"I think it's lame, but whatever," Tack said. Then he ran off in the direction of the Cyclone, with his running shorts slipping down and his strawberry-blond hair sticking straight up. "Wait up!" Tack called to their buddy Nate Hollingsworth.

Vero rode the Twirly thirty-seven times that day. The attendant kept track and let Vero know what number he was at. "I ain't never seen no kid ride it so many times," the attendant said. His name was Gary. He and Vero became friends that day.

"What can I say?" Vero said, shrugging. "I like to swing."

But the thing was, if he closed his eyes and spread out his arms on that ride, the sensation of the wind rushing against his face and ripping through his hair made him feel like he was flying—if only for a few minutes. He didn't care what anyone else said. And that was a good thing because Tack made fun of him the whole ride home.


* * *

Though he tried to avoid it, tried to ignore it, Vero's obsession with flying got him in trouble even with his feet firmly planted on the ground.

Vero was now banned from the local pet store. The Pet Place had dogs, cats, reptiles, rodents, and birds for sale, and a photo of Vero's face was stuck to every cash register with a big red line written through it. If an employee saw Vero, he was to kick him out of the store immediately.

The Pet Place problems began one day when Vero and his family were strolling the suburban strip mall, eating ice cream they'd just purchased from the parlor boasting forty-seven flavors. Vero walked past the Pet Place and was suddenly overcome with such an intense and overwhelming sensation of suffocation and sadness that he doubled over and clutched his chest in pain. He'd been lagging behind his family, so Clover and his parents didn't see him when he dropped his ice cream cone and walked through the open doors of the pet store.

As he approached the bird section of the store, he saw cage upon cage of birds—macaws, canaries, exotics, and plain old finches. Vero locked eyes with a blue and gold Macaw.

Help me.

Vero heard the voice as if the bird had spoken the words aloud. Vero knew what he had to do.

Slowly, he reached out his hand and unhinged the cage door. The Macaw bowed his head in gratitude and flew straight through the open doors of the pet store. Vero then opened the next cage, and the next, until all of the cage doors were standing wide open. At first, some of the larger birds blinked and hopped to their door, unsure of what to do next. But when Vero opened the finches' cage and dozens and dozens of birds flew out through the main doors, the larger birds finally followed—just as Vero's family walked inside the store to look for him.

Vero's parents and sister ducked and yelled as the birds escaped to freedom right above their heads. "What is this, a scene from The Birds?" Vero's father asked. The pet store was now pure pandemonium.

With each flying bird, Vero felt the weight on his chest grow lighter and lighter.

Vero cost his parents a pretty penny that day, as the store manager expected them to pay for the lost birds. Vero would be doing chores for more than a year before his debt was paid off, but Vero didn't care. He'd do it again in a heartbeat. But he was no longer allowed in the store.

The local paper ran a story on the incident; but when the reporter called the house, Vero's parents wouldn't let him comment.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Ether by Laurice E. Molinari. Copyright © 2014 Laurice E. Molinari. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERKIDZ.
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.

Meet the Author

Laurice Elehwany Molinari, a veteran film and TV writer in Hollywood for over two decades, has penned over thirty scripts for various studios and networks. Her very first feature script, written while a fellow at the American Film Institute, became Columbia Picture’s critically acclaimed children’s classic, My Girl. She went on to pen The Brady Bunch Movie and The Amazing Panda Adventure. Laurice lives with her husband and two children in Los Angeles, the City of Angels, where her lifelong love for our heavenly guardians inspired her to write a book about them.

 

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