DiscoverYoung Adult

Steel Strings

By

Worth reading 😎

Perfect for those wanting a quick but enjoyable read, "Steel Strings" is a story of love, family and growth, sparkled with wonders of music.

Synopsis

Brianna Jones is a nerdy biracial teen who dreams of bringing music to the world via orchestral instruments fashioned out of recycled materials. But she must keep her project secret from her half sister, whose mission in life is to destroy everything Brianna holds dear. 

Marek Lakewood is one of the few guys who sees Brianna for whom she really is and has admired her from afar for years. But he’s never been a risk-taker, not since his father was killed on a black diamond ski slope.

When a physics project lands Marek in Brianna’s sphere, he finds himself taking bigger and bigger risks, and discovers Brianna’s life and aspirations are far more complicated than he ever imagined.

Steel Strings is a stand-alone contemporary romance and companion novel to the Chameleon Effect series.

“Steel Strings” by Alex Hayes

★★★☆☆


This being my first book off of the Reedsy bookshelves, "Steel Strings" was a good choice overall to start my journey with!


This was an enjoyable and fast-paced book, perfect for those looking for a one-sitting read for those looking for that literary getaway. Alex Hayes does a wonderful job of bringing life to Brianna Jones and Marek Lakewood, the two protagonists, by employing switching first person point-of-view chapters.


Having not read Hayes' Chameleon Effects series, I was hoping I would be able to follow along and form the same connect with the characters one would expect from a stand-alone novel. There were some scenes of hidden significance (Easter eggs) that did little to further the plot of "Steel Strings" but, I suspect, were linked to her main series. Nevertheless, this did not rob me of any enjoyment to this novel which stood on its own two feet.


Hayes' character development shines through the dialogue and writing style, bringing out the vibes of teen romance I haven't felt in years and also the plights of the main protagonist, Brianna, who I rooted for throughout.


However, I do feel there were certain plot points that could have been explored further to create a better connect between the characters and myself, the reader. Juggling elements of music, love and family all together, some aspects were lacking in weight to another, making the read feel a little imbalanced and the ending rather rushed.


Although good, I didn't feel like it delivered the excitement and thrill indicated in the synopsis and I felt a little let-down toward the end on how the story had progressed. In this sense, the novel did not 'knock my (figurative) socks off'.


However, as a light breezy read, "Steel Strings" promises to entertain and enthral. I also believe readers of the original series would enjoy the novel a step further and encourage them to give it a read and discover the aforementioned Easter Eggs for themselves!

Reviewed by

My passion for writing culminated from childhood and grew leaps and bounds over years. I self-published my debut novel ‘A Midnight Reverie'. A keen poet, philosopher, and travelling soul among other things, I wish to share my writing and various musings with the world over the years to come.

Synopsis

Brianna Jones is a nerdy biracial teen who dreams of bringing music to the world via orchestral instruments fashioned out of recycled materials. But she must keep her project secret from her half sister, whose mission in life is to destroy everything Brianna holds dear. 

Marek Lakewood is one of the few guys who sees Brianna for whom she really is and has admired her from afar for years. But he’s never been a risk-taker, not since his father was killed on a black diamond ski slope.

When a physics project lands Marek in Brianna’s sphere, he finds himself taking bigger and bigger risks, and discovers Brianna’s life and aspirations are far more complicated than he ever imagined.

Steel Strings is a stand-alone contemporary romance and companion novel to the Chameleon Effect series.

PROLOGUE

TEN YEARS EARLIER...


If I lived in a parallel universe, maybe I wouldn’t have taken the bait. Maybe I wouldn’t have found myself behind the wheel of a car, barreling down a hill, straight for a white pine. Maybe my life would’ve been different.

I wish.

But this is my universe. My life. My problem.



Mom had parked her SUV—an early Christmas gift from Dad—at the top of the driveway, making it easier to load party supplies. Sunlight glinted off the shiny black paint and the vehicle’s tinted windows.

Except for a few icy patches, the sun had melted most of yesterday’s snow off the tarmac, leaving behind a steep rectangle of blacktop. On either side, the landscape remained hidden under a layer of pure white, all the way down to the plowed street.

“Let’s drive!” my sister shouted. Two years older, she was always telling me what to do. Being my eighth birthday didn’t win me any slack. If anything, it made her meaner. “Race you!” Deya launched herself toward the front passenger door.

With a squeal, I sped around to the driver’s side, party dress flapping. Clambering into the front seat, I slid into place and buckled up before she could shove me out of the victory throne.

Deya slithered into the front passenger seat—she was still skinny back then—and punched me in the arm, but the pain was worth it.

My day; my turn.

While I pretended to steer, she produced a key and slipped it into the ignition.

“What are you doing?” Messing with the key wasn’t smart.

Mom would be ticked. Not that she ever got mad at Deya. That’s why my sister was so cocky. She got away with pretty much anything.

“We need music if we’re going for a ride.” She turned the key and the console screen lit. “Mm, let’s see.”

“Pick something I like.”

She huffed. “Uh, why?”

“Because it’s my birthday.”

“No, it’s my birthday, so I get to choose.” She mimicked a whine I wasn’t making and pressed buttons until a pop station came on. “Yeah,” she murmured, “I like this song…” “Chasing Pavement” by Adele.

“I’m so sick of that one.” This time my whine was genuine. It was my birthday, and I should’ve been allowed to choose. I reached for the tuner.

Deya swatted my hand. “You’re supposed to be driving. Pay attention to the road!” She thumped me in the arm again.

“Ow!” I turned my eyes back to the driveway.

“This one’s the windshield wiper.” Deya flipped a switch.

“Stop. It’s not raining.” I tried to work out how to turn off the wiper blades.

Meanwhile Deya had cranked the music until the bass shook the windows and door panels. She shouted something I couldn’t hear, then jumped out and slammed the door.

Ignoring the wipers still sweeping the windshield, I stretched for the dial, but Adele faded out before I reached it. Something inside the SUV clicked to a double beat. I looked around, not sure what the sound meant.

Huffing, I turned back to the windshield. The driveway was moving.

No, not the driveway—the car.

Keri Hilson’s “Knock You Down” intruded, so loud it drowned out my shrieks.

The music banged the walls and my eardrums. I couldn’t think.

“Deya! How do I stop this thing?”

I was eight years old. I didn’t know where the emergency brake was; I didn’t know there was such a thing.

Our driveway was straight and steep, and directly across the street stood an enormous pine.

“That old tree’s gotta be two hundred, easy,” Dad once said.

A swish of brown moved across the rearview mirror, but there wasn’t time to work out what it was.

I wrenched at the door; it wouldn’t open. My hands shook as I groped at the buttons, trying to find the lock release, while panic had turned my fingers numb.

I pressed a switch and the window slid down. Triumph. “Help!”

My head spun, but there was no one in sight.

Stop the car, Brianna! Stop the car!

I slid down the leather seat, tried to reach the pedals with the tips of my red-sequined party shoes, but my legs were too short and the seatbelt held me back.

I’d buckled up like I was supposed to, like Dad always told me. Great thinking, Brianna.

With a cry, I pulled at the door again. One of the buttons had to unlock it.

The car rolled, picking up speed like a log on a water coaster heading for the big splash. Except this was going to be a big Crash!

Then I saw them, an older lady pushing a purple stroller along the sidewalk. She was feet from the bottom of the drive.

If I didn’t stop the car, I’d hit them.

“Look out!” I wailed.

The lady froze as the car barreled toward her on a collision course.

“Look out!” I screeched.

That last shout revived her. Blinking, she jumped backward, pulling the stroller with her.

I looked the other way and screamed. A blue van zoomed along the street.

The SUV streaked across the road right in front of the other vehicle. Brakes squealed. I shrieked.

The shiny black hood of Mom’s new SUV met the massive silver-gray trunk and buckled. I felt the shock wave, heard the crunch and the airbag’s explosion. My head snapped back. White flashed before my eyes, followed by stars which morphed into an endless midnight sky.


I woke with a groan, eyes fluttering. I didn’t want to open them, but blinking can’t be helped when you’re swimming in and out of consciousness.

Mom stood outside the shattered driver’s side window, body stiff, staring at me.

My quivering lips were stilled by cold fear.

I squeezed my eyes shut, wishing the shattered glass and crumpled metal would disappear.

A breathless voice stuttered, “Is sh-she all right?”

Cautiously, I opened my eyes.

Mom drew a sharp breath that whistled between her teeth. “Yes.” There was no relief in her voice, only fury.

No great surprise. I’d destroyed her new car and almost run down a kid in a stroller and an old lady.

And I couldn’t explain why. I couldn’t say anything.

So I remained silent.



About the author

Alex Hayes grew up in England and California and spent some of her early adult years in Massachusetts and Colorado. She is releasing Book 1 in The Chameleon Effect trilogy on March 5, 2019. If you’re hooked on YA romances with a paranormal twist, you’ll love The Chameleon Effect series! view profile

Published on December 30, 2019

60000 words

Genre: Young Adult

Reviewed by

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