Haven Terra is a smart, shy, unpopular high school student who doesn’t realize how great she really is.  But unlike your stereotypical teenager, Haven has something extraordinary about herself she doesn’t know.  It is not until she is awarded a prestigious internship at a glitzy new hotel in Chicago that she begins to see that things really aren’t what they seem.  What are the true motives of powerful and gorgeous hotel owner Aurelia Brown, her sexy second-in-command Lucian, and their strange and beautiful staff, The Outfit?  With the help of fellow interns Dante and Lance, Haven discovers a shocking underworld attached to the glamorous hotel and its denizens.  Will she possess the strength to thwart the ugly evil masquerading as beauty?  Will she be able to hang on to her own soul?

Sissy:  Bubby wasn’t sure about Illuminate because it has somewhat of a dark and devilish theme, so I read it, and in my infinite wisdom, decided it was a great book and most worthy of a review by our esteemed selves.  The theme of good versus evil is strong, and the reader definitely comes away with a moral message about which path would be best to take and why. No sex or f words either.

Bubby: If Sissy says it’s ok, then I must abide by her elderly wisdom. I mean, the wisdom of my elder. Something like that.

Sissy:  Hold on for a moment while I put in my dentures…

Bubby: Our main character is Haven Terra. She has always felt a little uneasy with her place in life because she was abandoned by the side of a road during the winter as a very small child. The nurse that cared for her in the hospital after she was found ended up adopting her and loves her very much but Haven still feels vaguely unworthy of that love. She is always striving to be the best at everything she does. Unfortunately, the best student at high school is rarely the most popular kid and, as for all teenagers, Haven craves a little of that popularity. So when she gets the opportunity to do an internship for it-girl Aurelia Brown at her swanky new hotel, she jumps at the offer.

Sissy:  What? Is it my turn?  Sorry, fell asleep for a minute…I know something of the stigma that goes along with being smart at school (none of your snark about how it’s easy to be the smart one in a class of 50, Bubbykins).  I remember wanting to be one of the “Beautiful People,” but it is so much more worthwhile when you just be yourself and rise to your potential.  I am so fulfilled now I think I should change my name to Haven Joyful Blessings.  I think that distills the essence of who I really am.  The real question I have for you, Bubby, is what do you want so badly, you would be willing to sell your soul to obtain it?

Bubby: Nothing. I am fulfilled just by being your sister and being able to bask in the angelic glow of your presence. Do you remember the old book by Oscar Wilde called The Picture of Dorian Gray? No? Well, go look it up. The premise is that Dorian Gray wanted eternal youth, so much so that he was willing to sell his soul to the devil. In return, Mr. Satan had Dorian’s portrait age instead of Dorian. Well guess what? One of Haven’s talents is photography. Her new boss Aurelia asks her to take photos of all the members of The Outfit to display in the art gallery. Interesting how these photos turned out . . .

Sissy:  Stop right there, spoiler girl.  The title of this book is Illuminate, and the significance of that becomes clear as you get into the story.  There is a lot to be illuminated in life, and it is too bad we don’t all have the talent of seeing or revealing things as they really are.  I would love to see some of Haven’s photographs of our nation’s politicians, for example.  Haven also learns to discern between true and false romantic feelings, and this is “illuminate”d in a sweet and lovely way towards the end.

Bubby: I have mixed feelings about Lucian. He is so yummy – the perfect tall, dark and handsome. He is suave and debonair and seems to think that Haven is just the right girl for him. He is WAY too good to be true. The problem is that even at the end of the book, when you know all there is to know about Lucian, you still don’t know. Is he good? Is he evil? How does he really feel about Haven? I just read the summary for book two, Infatuate, and he makes an appearance! I think he’s going to end up being that character that I love and hate in equal proportions, similar to Edward in Twilight.

Sissy:  Don’t like Edward, don’t like Lucian either.  Although you are right that Lucian is definitely not a black and white character.  I don’t like how he complicates things.  And the minute the author described his slicked back hair in the beginning of the book I knew I wouldn’t like him.  Never trust a man with slicked back hair, I always say.

Bubby: There is so much more I would like to say about Illuminate by Aimee Agasti but I don’t know how to without spoiling it all for everyone. It’s so filled with twisty plot lines and intriguing characters that I can’t say anymore. Just go read it.

Sissy:  Illuminate was surprisingly deep and captivating for a teen paranormal book.  I was confused by Bubby’s hesitance, but she can be a pinch-lipped prude at times, so I guess a book that has cameo appearances by the prince of darkness might make her shudder in her shorts.  I recommend this book, and I give it 4.5 bubbles.

Bubby: Yep. I’m a prude, yessirree! I suppose that’s why every time I crack a joke my teenager runs around with his hands clapped over his ears shouting “Inappropriate! Inappropriate! Mother!!”  It’s a dark book. There’s lots of dark stuff happening, including, yes, pop-ups from Satan. But it’s a good book and it has a great message and it’s a great read. 4.5 bubbles from me too.

Click HERE to buy Illuminate by Aimee Agasti at Amazon.com

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