Alienation Blog Tour + Exclusive Excerpt

Readcommendations

Welcome to the Alienation BLOG HOP TOUR!

Please take your seat and strap yourself in, as we take you on an intergalactic tour. You will be amazed, entertained, and educated. Manoeuvre through the cosmos and be astounded at all you see. Hunt down the hidden words that will get you to your final destination where a one-of-a-kind award awaits one lucky traveller.

We’re here to celebrate the release of Alienation, book two of the humorous Sci-Fi series, Starstruck!

Alienation Large

Sally Webber’s dream is coming true: Zander is back and taking her out for a night on the town–on a planet hundreds of light years away from Earth. 

But when an accident separates her from her alien tour guide, she’s thrown into the seedy underbelly of an insane city where nothing is as it seems. Suddenly lost and desperate to get back home, Sally is willing to do anything to get out, even if it means accepting spontaneous marriage proposals, crashing some fancy parties, or joining what appears to be the space mob. 

All she wanted was some decent interstellar pizza, but now it might be the end of the world as evil nanobots and an out of control AI try to take the universe by force, and the only one who can stop them is missing in action. Sally has no choice but to try to stop them herself–if she can stay alive that long.

Pre-order your copy now!

Alienation is the fantastic sequel to the hit sci-fi comedy, Starstruck by S.E.Anderson.

Today’s word is: Undercity.

In the Dark


And now – the Exclusive Excerpt!

Da-Duhui.

This alien place now had a name: a word I could throw into my mind to classify everything I saw. To make sense of it. Da-Duhui. A city, light years away from my home.

Blayde decided this was the best time to close the window. Instantly, the air in the room shuddered and took a breath, as if a filter had been turned on. I breathed easier, relishing in the freshness.

She jumped down to the floor in a classy superhero landing, then looked up to check her handiwork. Five pairs of feet raced past the window, shouting muffled words.

“Are we… are we safe, here?” I asked.

Blayde shrugged. “Sure, so long as we don’t touch anything else.”

“And where are we?”

“Da-Duhui,” she said, cocking her head sideways. “Are you in shock? You realize we just had this conversation?”

“I got that bit,” I said, glancing around, “but what’s this place?”

“Museum? Art gallery? Could go either way,” said Blayde. “Try not to touch anything. There’s probably more alarms here than there were in that last place.”

“So, you have been here before?”

“M’yeah,” Blayde muttered. She pulled a tattered book from her inside pocket: her journal. She flipped through the pages, a look of intense concentration on her face. Her lips turned to form into a small frown. It was a look I was beginning to think was permanently baked into her features.

“I’m pretty sure we have,” said Zander, forcing concentration, as if that would help him stare back in time and bring up the memories locked in his mind. “I have no idea when, but recently enough that I recognize it. I know it was a good trip, though.”

“I’ve got two lines in the journal,” Blayde said, jamming her finger at the page as if to squash a bug. “Visited Da-Duhui. Avoid for a while. Don’t eat the pizza. And that’s it, so not much to go on.”

Zander rubbed his temples, squeezing his eyes shut.

“Hopefully some memory will surface,” he said, suddenly back to his usual cheerful self, “How long ago was it?”

“Before Ja’karon. Now, that was a good time. We should have taken Sally there.”

“You were almost eaten by a swamp-beast, and you tried to sell me into marriage with the earth king. Yeah, that was fun.”

“Don’t be so dramatic.” She grinned, slamming her journal shut. “He obviously liked you. And I didn’t get any complaints from you. Anyway, it was much more interesting than Da-Duhui, where the only thing I cared enough to write about is their bad food.”

“This place is plenty interesting,” said Zander, “and most of all, it’s safe. There’s no drama: just a good, classic alien city to show Sally. Harmless.”

Blayde let out a snort, making me wonder just how harmless this place was. If her idea of fun was narrowly avoiding death, I wanted to stay away from the places she gave five stars to on Yelp.

“We just escaped deadly fumes and a gun squad, Zander,” she said.

“But the upper levels are really nice.”

“If we can get Sally there in one piece, yes.”

“Which we will.”

“All this for dinner away from earth?” Blayde looked at me now, squinting in doubt. “You get much better food on her planet. I think. Honestly I wasn’t around long enough to check.”

“This isn’t about the food, Blayde!”

“Then again,” I said, “if you mentioned to stay away for a while, that’s probably for a reason, right? Should I ask…?”

“Ask all you want, but I don’t have an answer,” Blayde said as she stuffed her journal into the inside pocket of her red leather jacket. “You can’t expect me to remember everything. My mind has much more interesting things to focus on.”

“But it is safe, right?” I asked. My eyes glanced at the window the security guards had run past. Had they seen our faces? Would they come looking for us?

The siblings exchanged long looks. Blayde communicated with her eyebrows alone, raising and dropping them as she shifted through a wide range of expressions. Zander seemed to understand her, sort of; after a minute of watching her emote a variety of eyebrow poses, he let out a sigh and broke eye contact.

“As safe as it possibly could be,” he answered. “Crime rate is null on the higher levels. But you don’t have to worry about that: We’ll make sure nothing happens to you. I promise.”

“What Zander means to say,” Blayde interjected, “Is that this is a fun trip, and definitely not business. So, there’s nothing to worry about.”

“Remind me, what would a business trip for you two involve?” I asked. Blayde rolled her eyes. Typical. Well, I hadn’t known her all that long, certainly not enough to know what typical was. But it seemed typical enough.

“Let’s find something fun to do,” Zander said, rubbing his hands together with that smug grin on his face that meant something exciting was about to happen. The kind of grin that stretched too wide for his face. He looked like a kid in a candy store.

“First of all, let’s stop standing around this place, okay?” said Blayde, “it gives me the creeps.”

“Something gives you the creeps?” I asked, trotting after her as she walked towards the room’s only exit. “You? The immortal intergalactic space… what are you exactly? Travel blogger? A cop? An assassin?”

She shot me a glare. “I have a bad vibe, that’s all. Give me a break, will you?”

“Sorry, I just…”

Run run run run run!” shouted Zander, snapping my sentence in half, flashing past us in a whirl of black leather. His hand caught mine and tugged, and suddenly I was running after him, an alarm ringing in my ears.


 

Exciting, right? And only 10 days left until the release!

Follow this blog tour starting at your first stop UrbanHype101 and if you get lost in cyber space, come back to UrbanHype101 for the tour map.
There’s something new to read see or hear on each of these stops.

Don’t forget to hunt for that special word and if you find ALL of them, send them to scavengerhunt@bolidepublishing.com and you could win a signed copy of Alienation and a gift pack of unique swag. This contest is open internationally.

16h October Buried In Bookland

Starstruck and Alienation Add

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September Reads

Another month has gone by! Once again, my opportunities to read were limited: studying astrophysics is a full-time job, and along with my actual full-time design job, I rarely have a chance to sit down and read. It feels weird not reading ARCs anymore!

But I have been slowly tackling my TBR. Here are a few of the books I read this month.

Church of Marvels

25308876New York, 1895. Sylvan Threadgill, a night soiler cleaning out the privies behind the tenement houses, finds an abandoned newborn baby in the muck. An orphan himself, Sylvan rescues the child, determined to find where she belongs.

Odile Church and her beautiful sister, Belle, were raised amid the applause and magical pageantry of The Church of Marvels, their mother’s spectacular Coney Island sideshow. But the Church has burnt to the ground, their mother dead in its ashes. Now Belle, the family’s star, has vanished into the bowels of Manhattan, leaving Odile alone and desperate to find her.

A young woman named Alphie awakens to find herself trapped across the river in Blackwell’s Lunatic Asylum—sure that her imprisonment is a ruse by her husband’s vile, overbearing mother. On the ward she meets another young woman of ethereal beauty who does not speak, a girl with an extraordinary talent that might save them both.

As these strangers’ lives become increasingly connected, their stories and secrets unfold. Moving from the Coney Island seashore to the tenement-studded streets of the Lower East Side, a spectacular human circus to a brutal, terrifying asylum, Church of Marvels takes readers back to turn-of-the-century New York—a city of hardship and dreams, love and loneliness, hope and danger. In magnetic, luminous prose, Leslie Parry offers a richly atmospheric vision of the past in a narrative of astonishing beauty, full of wondrous enchantments-a marvelous debut that will leave readers breathless.

This was one of the books I got in my massive “book of the month club” haul, and one I had been meaning to read for quite a long time. I had an odd fascination with turn of the century NYC, and Church of Marvels promised me coney island sideshows, asylums, and orphans. It sounded fun!

And it delivered. Wow. What a great book! Amazing twists, great characters… the way it all ties together took me completely by surprise. It was completely unexpected, yet fit so well, as if the author wove a perfect tapestry. It’s not fast-paced, but it is engrossing.

My review: ★★★★☆


 

When Dimple Met Rishi

28458598Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

I can definitely see why so many people recommended this book. It’s so cute! It’s so sweet! It’s got everything I want from a novel: awesome main characters, a girl who loves coding (my heart!), dance offs, friendships, and of course, a growing romance.

Dimple is such a sweet, brilliant, relatable main character. Other having Indian heritage, I was JUST like her when I graduated high school! She’s passionate and smart, but doesn’t have any of the nerd tropes. She’s human! And adorable.

And Rishi… he wears his heart on a sleeve, he’s just so honest and loving. He loves his family, which is why he respects their wishes. He loves Dimple, despite not knowing her at all, and then falls in love with her all over again once they meet.

The ending is perfect and just like warm Nutella for your heart. Don’t miss this one!

My review: ★★★★☆


The Princess Diarist

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The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie.

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager.

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

This book is not what I expected: the book jacket is very misleading. When I bought it, I thought I was going to get an inside view of what life was like on the set of Star Wars, but in fact, it’s closer to Carrie Fisher’s Wishful drinking. A retrospective – an introspective retrospective – about her life in general, and how Star Wars changed her world forever. Which is not to say we don’t get a bit of her time on set, but that portion focuses on her affair with Harrison Ford.

Carrie’s voice is perfect. Her wit is perfect. Her poetry is perfect. It’s a fantastic look inside her brain, both as she was writing the novel, and 40 years ago. How she lived and dealt with the hordes of fans. But the focus really is on Carrison (taking up at least the middle half the book) when I picked up this book expecting something entirely different.

My review: ★★★☆☆


Home (Binti #2)

It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she left her family to pursue her dream.And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders.

But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace.

After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?

I discovered Binti a few months ago and was instantly hooked. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The first novella transported me to a world where mathematicians were harmonizers, humans were minorities in the alien order, and Binti is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University.

In the sequel, Binti has been at Oomza University for year, and she struggles with post-traumatic stress from her original encounter with the Meduse.  That’s a huge problem for someone who’s supposed to be a master harmonizer and a master of meditation through mathematics. She believes that the issue is that she needs to return home and go on pilgrimage with other Himba.

What I love about this series is how it presents a completely alien world to us… despite the Himba being real people from Namibia. Seeing a future that’s not centered on the cultures I know changes my view of the universe entirely.

WHile it really had the feel of a second book in a trilogy, and doesn’t wrap up anywhere near as neatly as the first book, it give us a reasonable explanation for the central deus ex machina from the first book (Binti’s possession of the edan) and makes us long for book three, which comes out in January.

My review: ★★★★★


 

Have you read these books? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

No Vain Loss

By M.C. Frank
No Ordinary Star #3

I’m going to try to keep calm during this review, but it’s going to be tough: followers of this blog will recognize this series and remember how obsessed I am with it*. I am currently a massive ball of excitement. The series had set my expectations very high, and I’m happy to say it did not disappoint with No Vain Loss: It delivered beauty until the very end.

Summary29215280

A soldier is summoned to the North Pole, days before the year changes, told to fix the great Clock for a celebration. He has no idea what to do.
A girl, hunted for the crime of being born, almost dies out on the ice. She is rescued by the last polar bear left alive.
A library waits for them both, a library built over a span of a hundred years, forgotten in the basement of an ice shack.
The world hasn’t known hunger or sickness in hundreds of years. It has also forgotten love and beauty.
This is the One World.
The year is 2524.

In No Vain Loss, the world is on the brink of the greatest war humanity has ever known. Lives will be lost. New truths will be revealed.

Musings

When people say epic conclusions, they’ve never seen anything as epic as this. The book picks up the exact second No Plain Rebel stops, and from there the pace hits the accelerator 1000%.  We are at war, in the middle of a battle, good versus evil with confused soldiers trying to save the world. As a reader, you’re so grabbed into the book that even from the very start, it becomes impossible to put it down.

And, somehow, the author still manages to introduce massive twists to the story that make total sense and yet take you completely unawares. At about the halfway point, I gasped audibly, making the woman across from me in the metro glance up in shock.  I wanted to tell her everything, before realizing she would have no idea what I was talking about.

I’m so sad this series has come to an end. Not only was it a great read, but it was an amazing examination of what it means to be human. It’s made me see daily routine in a completely different way. Appreciate the moments I have with my friends, my pets, even with my food. The ending reads like poetry, and it’s so beautiful, and warm, it left me feeling full inside. No Vain Loss was the perfect finish.

The No Ordinary Star series has to be one of the most perfect series I have ever read, because it gave me everything I wanted out of my reading time. Character to adore, to root for, to ship, to watch grow. A plot that never felt contrived, always unpredictable and that makes you want more. And a lyrical style full of love for the human race.

This series made me feel hope. Love, loss, passion, excitement. I’m going to reread it often, and my friends need to know about it.

Do yourself a favor: read this series. You’ll love every second.

*So obsessed, in fact, that a quote about just how obsessed I am now is on the cover of the paperback edition of this book. 

 

August Reads

Gosh, time moves by so fast! Just last month, I was in the US, spending time with the family. Today my life is in boxes as I prepare to move into my new apartment.

Which means I’ve been behind on reviewing new and upcoming books, but I did make a nice dent in my TBR. I decided that rather than writing a full review on a single book, I’ll give you my thoughts on what I have read in this past month. It adds a bit of variety!


The Library of Fates
by Aditi Khorana32766747

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn’t enough.

The palace is soon under siege, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

My review: ★★★☆☆

The book started off strong but just got weaker and weaker until the end, where it felt like the author was in a rush to finish. There was a massive sequence that careened completely off the rails, although the epilogue was sweet. It became hard to suspend your disbelief.

 

The relationship was also a little weak for me. The first love interest was great, and I understand why it could never happen, the second becomes hard to believe. There’s no chemistry.

Also – I checked, but Spiders have legs, not tentacles. That sure messed with me! There were examples of lazy editing (like obnoxious repetition) that got to me as well.


The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
by Mackenzi Lee29283884

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this year-long escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

My review: ★★★★★

Oh. My. Gosh. This book was so much fun!

It’s fun, it’s quirky, it’s cute, and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read. It’s one of those books where the characters face real life and death consequences, but the read itself is light, a fun adventure to really just throw yourself into and devour.

I mean, it has everything: Pirates! Medical malpractice! Gentlemen! Naughtiness! Love! And oh, how I swooned for the romance! It was perfect, I found myself rooting for Percy and Monty from page one. I love the character growth, the humor, just everything.

Not to mention the historical accuracy! It’s really neat to read a book that takes place during a “grand tour” of Europe. To image a little what it would have been like to be rich and young in the sièle des Lumières – or, to exist without privilege, either.

Oh! And they go through my hometown! They don’t have the best time there, but it’s really fun just to be mentioned. MARSEILLE RPZ!


Want
by Cindy Pon

32333174Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

My review: ★★☆☆☆

I’m disappointed with WANT, but probably because my expectations were set too high. When I finished it, I didn’t feel the urge to read it again, and even while reading it I had an incredible sense of deja-vu.

I think if it’s your first time reading scifi, you’ll enjoy it immensely. It’s got action, cool technology, exciting plot and a future that scares you because it’s so realistically possible. But for a massive fan of scifi, I found it full of clichés, and very predictable. I felt like I had read the same thing before.

Lots of things were far fetched and irked me. Not the science, actually: but the plot itself. The logic behind sending Zhou in undercover – to befriend the woman he once kidnapped, the daughter of a man who had a man hunt out for him? – is just absurd, and bugged me out of the story. Other decisions like that made the story not flow easily.

And other small things got in my way of truly enjoying the book: the fact that Iris always has to be doing something dangerous (her only character trait is that she’s dangerous, and this gets repeated over, and over again) for example. The characters other than Zhou or Daiyu were flat, with the author reminding us over and over why they’re not. But one character trait does not make a character complex.

It just was hard to get into the style. The constant repetition of traits, the fact every chapter starts days/weeks forward and then Zhou has to tell you “we were doing this,” the lack of chemistry between Zhou and Daiyu…

I’m disappointed, because I was really excited about this novel. I mean, it’s so cool to see a novel set in Taiwan! And that cover, wow! Taiwanese MCs! But the story fell flat. While the worldbuilding was extremely realistic (as I said, real enough to scare me) the plot was nothing new.


 

So those are the other books I read in August! Have you read them? If so, what did you think? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments below!

Midnight

The Opposition, #1
by Stefani Chaney

When I finished this book, I had so many feelings: I went right to Goodreads and saw there were only three reviews – HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? THIS BOOK IS AMAZING! Midnight is insanely good, and one of my new favorite novels. Stefani Chaney is a new author to watch – get ready world! get ready to meet… Midnight.

Summary35382009

Jo Harding never thought of herself as a villain. At seventeen, her only adversary was her chronic illness. Yet, when a group of superheroes separates Jo from her brother, nothing will stop her from getting Jamie back. 
After waking up in a morgue, Jo finds herself with no money, nowhere to go, and no way of letting her famous twin brother know she is still alive. To make matters even worse, she starts exhibiting uncontrollable powers. Afraid and in a body she can’t rely upon, Jo scours the town with help from a bookstore owner and his former-military husband. Each encounter leads the superheroes to believe they are fighting a villain. However, the real villain is the leader they are following, the doctor that left Jo to die.

Musings

If you like superhero novels, then this book is for you. It’s not your run-of-the-mill story, it’s unique in more ways to count, but I’m going to try to tell you all about it right here, right now.

Meet Jo: she just woke up in a morgue, it’s three months since she lasts remembers anything, and her brother is missing. And what’s most surprising (other than not being dead) is that the pain of her constant chronic illness is just… gone. She’s not limping, heck, she can run again. And she’s running with a vengeance.

Her last memories are of being betrayed by the doctor – Morgan – who was claiming to heal her. Learning that her brother Jamie was being tricked by the same doctor to take a mysterious drug. Where is he now? The only way for her to find him is to suit up: with help of bookstore owner and his husband the depressed war vet, she’s going after the man who turned against her.

And this leads to one of the coolest aspect of the novel: Morgan has been running tests on other teens in the city, turning them into superheroes. And in their eyes? Jo is the villain. Jo has been chasing them, after all, maybe even stalking them. So they’ll fight tooth and nail to protect their team.

Jo’s the most brilliant protagonist you could ever want. She’s smart, she’s strong, and she’s determined. She gets stronger and stronger, grows with every superhero encounter. She loves her brother more than anyone else, and will stop at nothing to find him. And the other characters… they’re so diverse, and fun! I think Jamie is Ace, and it’s really cool to see a character like him. You also get to see the effects of mental abuse and manipulation.

I really can’t recommend this enough. It’s a complex, fast paced novel that will have you hooked from page one. So excited for the rest of the series!

I got this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review. It in no way affected my feedback. I know I’ll be buying the sequel!

Meddling Kids

by Edgar Cantero
Reviewed by SA

 

This review is very hard to write, just because I’m so excited about what I just read. And by just, I mean I read it weeks ago, and have been putting off reviewing it because I don’t know where to start. It’s got everything you could ever want. It has a detective club that’s grown up with you. It’s got magic. It’s got science. It’s got lore. It’s got heart stopping thrills. It really is the perfect book.

Summary32905343

1990. The teen detectives once known as the Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in the Zoinx River Valley in Oregon) are all grown up and haven’t seen each other since their fateful, final case in 1977. Andy, the tomboy, is twenty-five and on the run, wanted in at least two states. Kerri, one-time kid genius and budding biologist, is bartending in New York, working on a serious drinking problem. At least she’s got Tim, an excitable Weimaraner descended from the original canine member of the team. Nate, the horror nerd, has spent the last thirteen years in and out of mental health institutions, and currently resides in an asylum in Arhkam, Massachusetts. The only friend he still sees is Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star. The problem is, Peter’s been dead for years.

The time has come to uncover the source of their nightmares and return to where it all began in 1977. This time, it better not be a man in a mask. The real monsters are waiting.

Musings

It’s been a decade since a small summer detective club has caught a masked fraud in their local town, pulling a Scooby-doo. But in the years since, nothing has been the same. Depression and anxiety have been following them around, pushing one of the team to take his own life. It’s been, in a word, hell. So when the masked fraud is found to be more of a fraud than initially thought, it’s time to put the team back together and return to the scene of the crime, to finish what they started.

The most exciting part about this book, to me, is that it feels like you already know the characters, and have been a fan of their books for years. The tropes are all there: the intelligent girl, the smart leader, the nerdy boy, and the girl who goes by a boy’s name and is desperate to prove girls are just as good as boys. Which detective series am I talking about? Yeah, It could be any of them.

But the characters have grown. The trope of the wanna-be-boy is explored through one of the characters, and done in such a fun, brilliant and inclusive way I was overjoyed. I love having characters like Andy and I want more of them in the books I read. And the relationships are so perfect. I was so happy with the ending. No spoilers here, of course.

I also loved the way the author broke the fourth wall (is it called the fourth wall in literature?) by playing with the form of the words on paper. For example, he draws attention to narrative elipses and dramatic chapter breaks. It’s hilarious. It ads a depth to the book, remind you the characters are only people on a page, and playing with the novel in a way I’ve never seen before.

I also have to admit this book had me genuinely scared. When they were in the mines, I found my heart literally pounding in my chest. I was terrified! I got so attached to the little club that I was really, really drawn into the story.

And speaking of the story, it’s insanely creative. It has pirate captains and ancient sea monsters (very Lovecraftian), different eras, all details tying together beautifully. It made sense, played with science, and with magic as well. I have to wrap up the review, but there’s more I want to touch on briefly. First off, remember the bully trope? The kid that always steps in the way of the detective clubs? Well, the bully problem is addressed and faced and feels good. Mental health is also something that’s talked about in a healthy, open way.

It’s really the book you loved as a kid, but gown up. I’m hooked! I need more books like this!

No Plain Rebel

No Ordinary Star, Book 2
By M.C. Frank

Have I told you recently how I’ve fallen totally, and irrevocably, in love with this beautiful series? Well I can say with certainly now that the love for book one – No Ordinary Star – extends into book 2. No Plain Rebel delves deeper into the world Frank has created, and into the true meaning behind the mysterious clock that has captivated not only the people of the One World, but every reader as well. Potential spoilers from here on out if you haven’t read No Ordinary Star!

Summary30970438

In No Plain Rebel, Felix finds out the truth.
Or so he thinks. He’s trying to come to terms with that, as well as with the fact that the Clockmaster’s shack has been discovered by his fellow-soldiers, but he can’t exactly concentrate. The match girl’s fiery curls appear before his eyes every ten seconds, distracting him, and then he starts talking to her in his head.
Because she’s no longer there.
The Stadium is looming in the distance.
It’s ten heartbeats to midnight.

Musings

It’s ten heartbeats to midnight – my favorite line of so many fantastic lines in this gem of a novel. It’s incredibly short: I started it as my plane taxied out of Tampa airport, and finished it before we began our descent into Baltimore. But I definitely needed that time before landing to reflect on what I just read.

While the first book read more like a love letter to humanity, the second feels like it has more like a manifesto. It has gusto, ambition, and drive: just like its main characters, Felix and Astra. The two of them, secluded in the North Pole, are slowly discovering what mankind has lost to the past,  as well as discovering what it’s like to be close to another person. But they’re also seeing what they’re about to lose to the future, if no one steps up to take charge and change things.

Frank carefully weaves in mystery through the plot, leaving the reader wondering why things are the way they are. New discoveries answer questions but new ones arise just as quickly: while the world Felix lives in becomes clearer (both to us as well, as well as to him, now completely off the pills) confusion about their current predicament takes over. Twists and turns arrive at an increasingly rapid pace, until at the end they’re staggering and putting the reader in shock.

There’s so much character growth, too! While I do miss Ursa (where’s my big bear when I need her?) the focus is drawn on Felix and Astra completely – as well as their lineage. The way Frank writes complex characters is astounding: Astra dealing with the trauma from the Box and the tests that went on there, panic attacks as she tries to cope with simple things like showers. Or the way she writes Felix wrestling with the betrayal he’s feeling from the people he’s been trained to protect. Or the way they’re feeling towards each other – feeling they don’t have words for.

One thing is clear: everything hinges on this crazy clock. And it’s ten heartbeats to midnight. And ten heartbeats until my heart explodes.

I need the finale NOW!