For her sixteenth birthday, Vaela Sun receives the most coveted gift in all the Spire—a trip to the Continent. It seems an unlikely destination for a holiday: a cold, desolate land where two “uncivilized” nations remain perpetually at war. Most citizens tour the Continent to see the spectacle and violence of battle—a thing long vanished in the Spire. For Vaela—a smart and talented apprentice cartographer—it is an opportunity to improve upon the maps she’s drawn of this vast, frozen land.
But an idyllic aerial exploration is not to be had: the realities of war are made clear in a bloody battle seen from the heli-plane during the tour, leaving Vaela forever changed. And when a tragic accident leaves her stranded on the Continent, she has no illusions about the true nature of the danger she faces. Starving, alone, and lost in the middle of a war zone, Vaela must try to find a way home—but first, she must survive.
The Continent, for me, was one of those YA books that you don’t know what to expect from it. I started reading it not really knowing what I was going to encounter, but I ended up loving it.
And what’s The Continent? Because that’s what all this book is about. Vaela has lived all her life in the Spire, a pacific and what you could call an utopian place where there’s peace, no hunger and everyone works in order to provide something to the society. But all that changes when Vaela’s parents gift her a trip to see The Continent, a dangerous place where two nations are constantly in war.
What I liked about this book is the not knowing what direction was going to take. I didn’t know what was going to happen or what to expect from the story. Some other books, by reading the synopsis, you have a clear idea what’s going to happen throughout the story, but I could have never imagined all the things I read in Keira Drake’s book.
About the main characters, Vaela and Noro, I liked that they were strong and powerful characters in their own individual selves. Vaela, for instance, came from a wealthy family, she has had everything since she was born, but when tragedy strikes and she finds herself in The Continent, alone, without food, friends or help you see how resilient she is. Which was a surprise, since I was hoping to find the typical “damsel in distress”. She was approachable and felt real all at the same time because she made mistakes and had to learn how to keep going from the moment she set foot in The Continent. Plus, her grief was also very real and you could see how it was not dismissed by the author at any moment.
On the other hand, Noro was the complete opposite. He knows grief and what it means to lose the people you love on a regular basis. He is a survivor as well as kind and gentle. I liked that he didn’t “help” Vaela all the time, but wanted to help her learn and see that she could also do it. But it was also super cute to see how deep down, no matter how hard he tried or how much he taught her, he couldn’t resist being preoccupied over her.
Their relationship was not an insta-love one, which put that extra likeness to the story. Noro did not made a move on Vaela until she had come to terms with her grief and with who she was now at The Continent. So you can say that it was a progressive one and their moments together are beautiful but yet brief for those of us who love the couple so much.
The story was a raw one. The main character, Vaela, was a wealthy, carefree cartographer at the Spire who heard about all the stories and battles going on at The Continent, who thought it was sad that it happened and had a lot of progressive thoughts that could lead to a solution. But at the same time was curious to see in first hand what was going on. Until she sees for herself that all those stories are awfully real and happening, that it was brutal and that death was everywhere for no reason at all and they, The Spire, were doing nothing to prevent it. Sound familiar, guys?
Why I am not giving the 5 stars to this book? Simply because I truly started loving it when Vaela was with the Aven’ei, when she made friends and started being the Vaela she truly was. That’s when the story really starts to escalate and go super fast from a reader’s point of view. Because you just want to know what is going to happen and who’s going to remain at the end of the story. And that’s how I know the second book is going to be a powerful one, too. I am just dying to start reading it and, of course, to see the cover for this title.
Full of friendship, love, war, grief, adventure, tragedy and deception, The Continent is one of those stories that will blow your mind and that you will need more of it when you are done.
Listen to my book playlist for The Continent
“…He said that itzatsune rarely marry, which is fine with him, because girls are – I quote him here – ‘always trying to kiss him,’ and he doesn’t have time for that sort of thing. And he insists that he shall be far more skilled than even you when he finally achieves the rank.”
Noro leans back, smirking. “Did he now?”
“Yes, he did. He’s quite sure if himself.”
“I will never give up hope,” I say, but wonder half a second if this is true.
She shrugs. “Hope for things that are possible, then. Hope for clear skies amidst the storms of summer, or for the safe return of our warriors from the battlefields at Sana-Zo and the Narrow Corner. Hope for a happy marriage and many sons, if that should please you. Never hope for peace, Vaela. Not here. Not on the Continent.”
“I can’t help it. After all, hope is not sustained by the likeliness of a thing, but by the desire for it, and it is my dearest wish that you and all your people would know the peace I have described.”
He smoothes a lock of hair away from my cheek, tucking it behind my ear. “I hope for you to live a long, happy life.”
“Nothing could prepare you for what is to come, Vaela. Nothing on this Earth.”
I’m Keira Drake—I write YA fiction, usually with sci-fi/fantasy elements. My debut novel, THE CONTINENT, will be published by Harlequin TEEN in January 2017, and I am represented by the incredible, illustrious Jim McCarthy at Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. I’m so looking forward to sharing my books with the world!
I’m thrilled to be taking part in Brenda Drake’s Release Day Launch (hosted by Jen Halligan PR) for THIEF OF LIES (Library Jumpers #1)! Check out the book and excerpt below, and be sure to enter the amazing giveaways!
Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.
Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.
We stepped into the Children’s Library and stopped in the
center of the room. A massive light fixture designed to resemble the solar
system dominated the ceiling. The hushed rumble of two male voices came from
one of the reading nooks. I crossed the room, paused at the built-in aquarium,
and inspected the fish. Afton halted beside me.
“This is great,” I whispered, not wanting to disturb
whoever was in there with us. “Fish and books. What’s not to love?” Spotting a
sign referencing classic books, I searched the shelves for my all-time favorite
The male voices stopped and there was movement on the
other side of the bookcase. I paused to listen, and when the voices started up
again, I continued my hunt.
Warmth rushed over me when I found The Secret Garden. With its aged green cover, it was
the same edition I remembered reading as a young girl. The illustrations inside
were beautiful, and I just had to show them to Afton. Coming around the corner
of the case, a little too fast for being in a library, I bumped into a guy
dressed in leather biker gear. My book and notebook fell and slapped against
“Oh, I’m so sorry—” I lost all train of thought at the
sight of him. He was gorgeous with tousled brown hair and dark eyes. Tall. He
flashed me a crooked smile, a hint of dimples forming in his cheeks, before
bending over and picking up my forgotten book.
He held the book out to me. “Mistress Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” He’d quoted a verse from The Secret Garden with a sexy accent that tickled my
I stood there like an idiot, my heart pounding hard
against my chest, unable to think of a response. The fact that he had read the
book and could recite a line from it stunned me. And impressed me.
Say something. Anything.
“Good read there,” he said when it was obvious I wasn’t
going to speak. He winked and nodded to a guy behind him before ambling off.
When he reached the end of the row, he paused and glanced back at me, flashing
me another killer smile, and then he disappeared around the bookcase.
Tingles rose in my stomach. He looked back at me. The guy following his Royal Hotness gave me a final
appraisal before departing. His stringy blond hair hung over his large
forehead. It looked like he hadn’t washed it in weeks, and there was probably
an acne breeding ground under it. He grinned, and I broke eye contact with him,
making for the nearest window.
Oh God, you’re so lame, Gia. You
could have finished the quote or anything less tragic than not speaking at all. The response I would have said played
in my head. With
silver bells, and cockleshells, and marigolds all in a row. Why? Why hadn’t I said that?
Brenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up are of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).
Sophomore year in high school comes with its own set of problems. You’re no longer a freshmen, but you’re still two years away from ruling the school. So, you sit and languish in a kind of purgatory until junior year, when things start to get interesting.
That is, unless during your sophomore year, you find your boyfriend making out with another girl in front of your locker. Then, interesting takes on a whole new meaning, and that’s what happened to seventeen-year-old Meg Flannigan. It’s no wonder her self-esteem suffered a major hit.
Now a senior, Meg catches the eye of not one, but two guys at school (I know, right?). They happen to both be gorgeous, and each vies for her attention in the most flattering of ways. Sounds good, right? Not if one of the guys is her boyfriend, and the other one wants to be.
Meg doesn’t want to lose Ash. They’ve been together for almost five months, and she’s falling in love with him. But Noah. Ah, Noah. He’s the irresistible guy Meg has been crushing on for two years, and she isn’t ready to send him away either. But stringing both along could have disastrous results, leaving Meg in the cold once again.
One thing’s certain. Meg needs to decide between Ash and Noah soon, or she’ll lose her perfect match forever.
PERFECT FOR YOU was released previously as two novellas. Ashleyn wanted to give her readers more, and has decided to write an entire novel based around Meg’s story.
Ashelyn Drake is a New Adult and Young Adult romance author. While it’s rare for her not to have either a book in hand or her fingers flying across a laptop, she also enjoys spending time with her family. She believes you are never too old to enjoy a good swing set and there’s never a bad time for some dark chocolate. She is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.