Title: Mika's Black Cougar
Publisher: Blue Swan Publishing
Mika Taylor has always had it bad for Trent Hunter, but she never had the guts to talk to him. Now that her best friend moved away, Mika dreads having to face a school year at Vernon Secondary alone. And being classed as the school freak doesn't help matters. When Trent finally looks at her and not through her, Mika starts to think grade eleven won’t be so bad, after all. Getting to know Trent better, she can't shake the feeling there is something he isn’t telling her. A chance encounter with the fabled Okanagan black cougar has her putting two and two together. When Mika sees not only the black cougar along with another cougar lurking in her backyard, she has to wonder if things can get any stranger than they already are.
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I tried not to stare as Trent Hunter walked by me as he headed for an empty desk at the back of the classroom. I’d developed a major crush on him last year, and from the way my heart pounded at seeing him again, I knew I still had one. Not that Trent had ever given me the time of day, but it still didn’t stop me from admiring him from afar. Trent was a full-blooded Okanagan Indian. I could spend hours staring at his copper-colored skin and long, black hair. What I wouldn’t give to have his brown eyes look at me with interest just once.
When Mr. Morrison addressed the class, I brought my wayward thoughts back under control. I kept my eyes focused on the front of the classroom as the teacher passed out our schedules and then gave us our locker numbers. Halfway through the class, I couldn’t resist taking a quick look behind me at the back of the room. My gaze unerringly latched on to Trent. He had his head down as he wrote something in his binder. I sighed to myself and focused back on the teacher.
The rest of the class seemed to fly by. After the bell rang at the end of the period, I stuffed my binder into my backpack and then left the class. I made sure I didn’t look at the back of the room when I walked through the door. With my new schedule in my hand, I walked down the hall, looking at what class I had next. I had Science, another subject that didn’t thrill me.
Science turned out to be boring, and I didn’t have Trent in this class for distraction. Ms. Syler droned on about what we would learn this year and the various assignments we were expected to complete. The bell couldn’t ring soon enough. My next class was English, which I liked. I’m a bit of a bookworm. I’ve always loved to read. I love to get lost in other worlds and places, to experience someone else’s life through the pages of a book. Reading lets me escape the boring reality of my own life for a time. As in my other two classes, I sat at the front of the room.
With English over, I dreaded what came next—lunch period. Even though we didn’t have that many classes together, Cathy and I always sat together in the cafeteria during lunch. I hated to eat alone. Nothing screamed “loser” more than having to sit at a table by yourself.
Since I’d taken my time getting to the cafeteria most of the tables were already full. I spotted an empty one close to the doors. I quickly walked to it and sat in a chair at the end. I pulled my bagged lunch out of my backpack and then set it on the table. As I took out my sandwich, I wished I’d remembered to bring a book to read. If I had, I could have gotten lost in my own little world while I ate. That way I wouldn’t have felt as if everyone stared in my direction.
Determined to get through lunch without feeling too uncomfortable, I picked up my sandwich and started to eat. I kept my gaze down, not wanting to see if anyone stared. The other end of my table soon became occupied by three grade-eight girls. I groaned to myself. They spoke in loud voices as they gushed over all the older high-school boys they’d seen. I glanced at them. All three of them were pretty, and were dressed in the latest style. Not like me. I dress for comfort, not style. My jeans may be a couple years old, but I had them broken in just the way I liked them. The pale pink t-shirt I wore may have been plain, but it was one of my favorites. I knew these girls would have no trouble finding boyfriends.
By this time, I’d finished my sandwich. I pulled out the rest of what Mom had packed in my lunch—a juice box and some chocolate chip cookies. As I munched on the cookies, I looked up at the big clock on the wall across from where I sat. I still had another fifty minutes before lunch was over. Now that I’d looked up, I quickly scanned the crowded cafeteria, hoping to catch a glimpse of the one person I wouldn’t mind staring at me.
I’d taken a sip from my juice box when I found where Trent sat, alone as usual. I sucked in a breath when I realized for once he stared right at me, which in turn made me choke on my juice. I couldn’t tear my gaze away from him, even though I must have looked really attractive with my face flushed as I tried to cough up one of my lungs. Trent gave me a crooked smile as I continued to choke. Embarrassed, I quickly looked away. Once I could breathe again, I gathered up what remained of my lunch and then slung my backpack over my shoulder. I was sure I looked like crap with my streaming eyes and hot face. I threw the rest of my lunch into the garbage can on the way out of the cafeteria.
I ducked into the girls’ washroom. As I caught a glimpse of myself in the large mirror on the wall, I grimaced. My face was slightly red and my eyes still watered a tiny bit.
“Smooth move, Mika,” I whispered to my reflection.
A damp paper towel cooled down my face, and also took care of my eyes. Trent finally noticed me, and I, of course, had to make myself look like a dork by choking. Real attractive. Not. I’d be lucky if he ever looked my way again. If Cathy had been there, she would have told me not to let it bother me—that I should take it as a good sign that Trent actually looked right at me. I tried to tell myself those very same things, but it didn’t sound as convincing without Cathy being the one to say them.
I gave myself a final look over in the mirror. I ran my fingers through my long locks. I have naturally dark blonde hair, which I got from Mom. My hair and blue eyes are my best features. Everything else about me is average. Average height, average looks, average body. I stuck my tongue out at my reflection. I took a deep breath and left the safety of the girls’ washroom. Not wanting to go back to the cafeteria, I decided to spend the rest of lunch outside.
5 Stars: I absolutely loved this book! The intense passion and romance between Mika and Trent had me never wanting to put this book down. Although the book has a supernatural side to it, many teens will be able to relate to the high school experiences such as fitting in and relationships. This book will have you pining for more!--Readers Favorite Reviews
3.5 Books: The story is very sweet and easy to read. I really liked the characters, they were like neighbors and friends to me. If you like sweet YA with a touch of paranormal, I think this just might be the book for you.--Tulip, The Long and Short Reviews
4 Cups: Mika's Black Cougar is a delightful story that will satisfy not only young adults but anyone. The story moves at a good pace, keeping the reader on a journey that does not disappoint. The blossoming romance that spins around Mika and Trent is beautifully written. The story has a way of making one feel young again, back at school and meeting someone for the first time. Ms. Chenery mixes good secondary characters with a bit of paranormal to make this read great. She allows the reader to share in that feeling of being in love for the first time and an adventure to go along with it.--Cherokee, Coffee Time Romance