Notna + Interview with J.D. Cunegan

One of my favorite crime series is Bounty, the adventures crime-solving detective Jill Andersen who moonlights as a vigilante with cybernetic enhancements. So when the author announced he was writing a fantasy novel, I was incredibly excited. Notna is everything I wanted, and more. Action packed and exciting – it’s like Indiana Jones and Supernatural had a baby, only that baby decided the world should end.

Summary36384932

History’s most peaceful race created one of its deadliest weapons. 

Forged in the Living Flame by a long-extinct alien race, The Gem of Notna is the stuff of legends, on par with Pandora’s Box or the Holy Grail. But once archaeologist Dr. Jack Corbett stumbled upon the crystal deep in the Amazon, he triggered a whirlwind of events and found himself neck-deep in a centuries-old holy war. The Divine and the Underworld have been locked in a virtual stalemate for the past three hundred years, and the Gem of Notna could be the key to breaking it. 

With the gem in his possession, Jack discovers a world of monsters and gods, as well as an entirely different plane of existence that watches over our own. Old grudges resurface, fallen warriors are reborn in the most violent of ways, but at the end of the day, the fate of the world may well rest in Jack’s hands. 

Musings

What always gets you hooked on Cunegan’s writing (something I love about the Jill Andersen series) is how the seemingly effortless style pulls you right in. Reading the book is almost like watching a movie, with just the perfect amount of description to have you imagine intense battles right before your eyes. Unlike the Bounty series, however, the scale of this adventure is massive: we’re in the middle of a holy war, between different planes of existence, connecting different countries and even dimensions.

It’s massive. It’s epic. What’s not to love?

On top of a huge scale end of the world apocalypse scenario, we also have lovable characters you can’t help to root for, and a prologue that breaks your heart just two pages in. Jack and his girlfriend Cassandra are professors of Archeology, hired to retrieve a legendary gem from deep inside the Amazon rainforest – only to get thrown into a battle between good and evil that has lasted for millennia, culminating in an epic final showdown on earth and in hell itself. But these two loveable lovebirds are determined to save their world from destruction and will stop at nothing to protect us. Even if it means giving into a prophecy and embracing the role of Chosen One…

What’s refreshing is also having the romance portion of this adventure be between two people who have been very much in love for quite a long time. There’s no will they/won’t they, no awkward flirting: only two committed people supporting each other (quite literally) to the ends of the earth. It’s so fantastic to have a healthy relationship in an adventure novel like this!

The supporting cast is also quite amazing. Whether they’re displaced out of time, or common people embracing their role in this mess, or even those who have lived at war all their lives, they’re complex and steadfast.

And the villain(s) – what’s not to love about hating them? Vampires, demons from hell, Gods out of time, giant purple… wait, I won’t spoil it for you. How Cunegan has managed to merge so many myths and genres, I will never know. It’s masterful!

All in all, if you’re looking for fun, Notna is the book for you. Cunegan has entered the realm of fantasy with swords drawn, and you’re not soon to forget him! Brilliant and energetic, impossible to put down, treat yourself to a high stakes adventure with Notna.


And now – an interview with the author, J.D. Cunegan himself!

R: You mentioned before that Notna was an idea you’ve wanted to work on for years… where did the idea come from?

14050436JDC: It mostly came to me when my comic book tastes started expanding. When I first started reading them, I wasn’t just a “Marvel guy,” I was an X-Men guy. If it wasn’t X-Men, I didn’t read it. But once I got to high school, I started reading different comics from all sorts of companies, and two in particular – Spawn and Witchblade – stuck out to me. In reading those two, I started getting ideas for stories of my own to tell. Notna was one of those stories, even though a lot of what I created back then hasn’t survived over the years. But the bare bones of the story – the prophecy, the gem, the war – came to me once I started branching out with my reading.

The Jill Andersen books examine, at their core, what it means to be a hero – and Notna asks much the same question, but from an entirely different perspective. Whereas with Bounty, I use moral gray areas to examine heroism, Notna is more about the notion that even the most ordinary among us can achieve transcendent heroism.

R: Unlike your Bounty series, which is a crime thriller with sci-fi elements thrown in, Notna is a fantasy novel with magic and mythology. Did you find it easier or harder to write in this genre?

JDC: I thought it would be harder, but it actually wound up being easier. I wasn’t as beholden to reality as I sometimes am with the Jill Andersen novels, which gave me a lot more freedom and a lot more leeway in terms of what I could get away with. When I’m writing one of Jill’s books, I still have to keep the real world in mind occasionally; when I’m writing about monsters and gods and demons, the rules are a little more flexible.

R: Which character was your favorite in Notna? Were they also your favorite to write? Did you find any one of them particularly challenging to bring to life?

JDC: Cassandra wound up being my favorite, because there was a time when I didn’t know what to do with her. About midway through the first draft, she was little more than the romantic interest character – and I wanted her to be more than that, because I pride myself in not letting my books devolve into those common tropes. Nothing I came up with worked – one potential storyline had her dying at Demostricus’ hand, only to later return as a vampire, but I hated how that story smacked of “kill the love interest just to motivate the male lead.” I’m not sure exactly when the storyline I settled with first came to me, but once it did, I knew I had a winner and loved how it sort of turned the “Chosen One” trope on its head (and was, in an indirect way, a nice callback to Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

R: Did you feel any particular pressure when writing this novel? Either from your fans, or time, or anything else?

JDC: I did, actually. Part of it came from the fact that I was writing in a genre that was already stuffed to the gills with fantastic books – including some of my personal favorites. But I also felt pressure because as I started promoting the work, I saw it was generating the sort of excitement none of the Jill Andersen books had – so knowing there was already a fanbase for it, knowing I had to make sure I didn’t disappoint those people, added some pressure (and possibly some mild panic on launch day).

R: Coffee, or Tea?

JDC: Both. In the mornings, I have to have my cup of coffee. But at night, when the house is quiet and I’m hunched over my manuscript (especially this time of year), nothing soothes and helps me write quite like a warm mug of green tea. I bought myself a Keurig a couple years ago, and it’s probably one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.

R: Planner or Pantster?

JDC: I’m a total pantser; for whatever reason, whenever I try to plan or outline, it sucks all the fun out of writing and I get blocked. Even with my current book, Betrayed (book five of the Jill Andersen series), I tried to detail each chapter to keep myself on track. Well, 10 chapters in, the story completely detoured on me. I think, as a writer, I enjoy it when my own characters and my own world surprise me – because if they surprise me, chances are they’ll surprise my readers.

R: Morning Person, or Night Owl?

JDC: I’m definitely a night owl, and I have been since I was in college. I’ve never quite shaken that habit, which is occasionally problematic now that I have a 9-to-5 job. I think I’m physically incapable of falling asleep before midnight, and most of my best writing happens after the sun goes down.

R: I was so excited to see your ‘Easter Egg’ reference to R.R. Virdi! How did that come to be?

JDC: One of the Facebook writing groups I’m in (I think it was NanOhana) had a challenge for NaNoWriMo 2016 (Notna was my project that year) daring us to include Virdi in our work somehow. Mystical bookshop owner with two otters as pets just felt like a great fit, and it was fun to write those two chapters. In an indirect way, Virdi’s work (particularly Dangerous Ways) helped inspire Notna, so it was also a hat tip of sorts to him.

R: So many mythologies are represented here… how did you decide on them? What kind of research did you do?

JDC: Religion, regardless of which one you choose, can create a wonderful backdrop to tell stories like this. And my own research into pagan traditions, while completely unrelated to writing, inevitably wound up inspiring my writing. Between my pagan sourcebooks and some of my old White Wolf tabletop roleplaying books, I had plenty of inspiration to turn to when it came to building the world these characters inhabit. My research wasn’t necessarily done to make sure I was accurate; I’m pretty up-front about the liberties I took in this book, but having that foundation there made playing with the mythology and the history a lot of fun.

R: And finally… will this be a standalone novel, or will we be returning to this universe sometime soon?

JDC: Notna is a standalone (mostly because I can’t imagine trying to juggle more than one series), but that doesn’t mean I’m done with the world or the characters I created there. You probably noticed the Bounty Easter Egg I placed in Notna, which establishes that both books take place in the same universe. So chances are, some of the characters I introduced in Notna will appear in future works (maybe even the Jill Andersen books).

Also, I’m working on an anthology of sorts, called Legend of the Gem, which will be a collection of short stories detailing the history of the Gem of Notna over the past couple thousand years. It’s very similar to the comic book series Tales of the Witchblade that was popular back in the 1990s, and just researching stuff for that book has been a lot of fun.

Catch J.D. Cunegan’s fantasy novel NOTNA here – a fantastic and thrilling adventure! 

And don’t forget to check out the newest novel in the Bounty series – BEHIND THE MASK  here – just out this week! 

Advertisements

Grave Dealings + Interview with R.R. Virdi

The Grave Report (Book 3)

Vincent Graves is back! If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a massive fan of R.R. Virdi, an insanely talented young author who’s taking the Urban Fantasy world by storm, all while being self-published. Twice nominated for a Dragon award, going up against big names like Jim Butcher and Larry Correia, his books are incredibly fun, fast-paced, and clever to boot. Now, finally, book 3 is out in the world – and it might just be his best yet.

Summary36428617

Don’t make deals with the paranormal. They’re better at it than you, and they never play fair.

Paranormal investigator and soul without a body, Vincent Graves, did just that—a deal made in desperation. Now it’s coming back to bite him in the middle of a case. He has 57 hours to investigate a string of deaths involving people who’ve made some devilish bargains. Too bad devils don’t deal in good faith. It’d be easy enough if he didn’t have to deal with things such as:

  • Being hunted through the streets of Queens by a dark elf with a motorcycle fetish.
  • Ending up the target of a supernatural hit.
  • An old acquaintance dragging him to a paranormal ball where he could end up on the menu.
  • And having one of his closest guarded secrets brought to light…

Not great for a tight clock, because if he doesn’t get to the bottom of this case in time, Vincent and company might just lose their souls.

Dirty deals are never done dirt cheap. And the supernatural always collect—big!

Musings

It’s easy to see why I’m still addicted to R.R. Virdi’s Grave Report series: every single one is better than the last, full of wit and humor and so much ingenuity your head will spin. The premise itself – a soul without a body who wakes up in the body of recently murdered victims and tries to solve their paranormal death – is so fantastic it could hit television any day and I would watch it obsessively.

This time, Vincent Graves is back in New York, and free to roam the city. Which means he’s sure to run into some old allies, as well as make some new ones. It was so great to see Ortiz again! I love her character, she’s so no-nonsense and badass. But I’m head over heels for the new kid – Kelly is ADORABLE. And genius! While Ortiz intimidates me, I wish I could be BFFs with Kelly. She’s savy and smart and altogether fun.

And the villain… oh boy, you’ll never see it coming! Per usual, Virdi makes it seem like you know where the story is heading, then throws you a sudden twist that makes you question everything. Peppered with awesome fight scenes, and with new dealings with the fae, this book is everything you want in Urban Fantasy, and more.

Now, for a few questions to the man of the hour! Let’s hear it for R.R. Virdi!

7769192Q: It’s so great to have you back with a new book! Tell us: what can we expect from Grave Dealings?

A: Grave Dealings picks up some time after Grave Measures. Vincent’s bounced around, done more cases, which haven’t been shown, and is finally back in the boroughs of New York. From the get-go he’s already under attack and being hounded through the streets of Queens, all before even having a chance at pissing someone off. Kind of unfair. There’s a string of artists and freelancers dying, and no one knows why. Guess whose job it is to figure it all out.

Q: The Grave Report series is so unique, but still manages to tick every box of what a reader wants. With your new book, do you try more to be original, or to deliver to readers more of what they want?

A: I try to deliver more of what I want, what excites me. It’s what I did with book one and seems to work. I’m of the belief in a world of 7 billion…people can and will like what you have to write and sell. It’s just the odds.

Q: The world you’ve created is massive and intricate, but also plays off some myths and folklore that readers are already aware of. At the same time, you introduce us to myths that are almost forgotten. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

A: I love mythology and I research it for fun. That’s honestly one of the biggest reasons I do this. It’s why The Grave Report is a monster of the week style paranormal investigator series.

Q: What did you edit out of this book? What was your hardest scene to write?

A: Things edited out of this book are normally lines and small redundant bits that show up in most author’s works. Descriptions, maybe dialogue that’s gone on too long and made the point. Done over a novel this big, it adds up.

Q: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

A: Oh. Yes. 😉 Best of luck finding them.

Q: We’re starting to get some answers as to Vincent’s past… and there are hints of something much bigger to come. Any clues you can give us, little teasers for the rest of the series?

A: Yep. That if you read them all, you’ll get the answers.

Q: While we’re now all eagerly awaiting the fourth book in the series, we’re also excited about your other books. Dangerous Ways was outstanding! May I ask what’s going to be next for your fans?

A: Well, I’m a bit torn. Fans want the second The Books of Winter. Which, to be honest, I really want to write. But, The Grave Report is more successful, and I have to eat. Really conflicted. But, I think I might take a risk and do the second The Books of Winter?

There you have it! Make sure to pick up your copy of Grave Dealings HERE so you can catch up on Graves’s latest wild adventure. Enjoy! 

The Beta Earth Chronicles – Blog Tour

wesley2.png

The Blind Alien is a story with a highly original concept, fascinating characters, and not-too-subtle but truthful allegories.  Don’t let the sci-fi label or alternate Earth setting fool you–this is a compelling and contemporarily relevant story about race, sex, and social classes.”

–Raymond Benson, Former James Bond novelist and author of the Black Stiletto books
41r0FPw8pPL._UX250_.jpg

Besides his 33 years in the classroom, Dr. Wesley Britton considers his Beta-Earth Chronicles the most important work he’s ever done. “I suppose an author profile is intended to be a good little biography,” Britton says, “but the best way to know who I am is to read my novels.”

Still, a few things you might like to know about Wes include the fact he’s the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in the media, most notably The Encyclopedia of TV Spies (2009). Beginning in 1983, he was a widely published poet, article writer for a number of encyclopedias, and was a noted scholar of American literature. Since those days, for sites like BlogCritics.org and BookPleasures.com, Britton wrote over 500 music, book, and movie reviews. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents for which he contributed celebrity interviews with musicians, authors, actors, and entertainment insiders.

Starting in fall 2015, his science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted with The Blind Alien. Throughout 2016, four sequels followed including The Blood of Balnakin, When War Returns, A Throne for an Alien, and The Third Earth. Return to Alpha will be the sixth volume of this multi-planetary epic.

Britton earned his doctorate in American Literature at the University of North Texas in 1990. He taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College until his retirement in 2016. He serves on the Board of Directors for Vision Resources of Central Pennsylvania. He lives with his one and only wife, Betty, in Harrisburg, PA.

Book One, The Blind Alien, came out in Sept 2015 – Book Six is due for release before Christmas 2017.

The epic opens when Malcolm Renbourn, a young history teacher, walks into an ordinary bank on an ordinary day. Suddenly, he feels excruciating pain. Unexpectedly, he loses his sight and discovers he has been drawn against his will across the multi-verse to a slave-holding country on a parallel earth. He doesn’t understand a single word he hears, but he soon comprehends that he is the focal point in the quest to end a plague that kills three out of four male babies their first year on Beta-Earth.

Branded state property, he must escape, but where can a blind man in a strange world dominated by desperate scientists run? And on a world where polygamy is the norm, how can Malcolm Renbourn adapt into becoming the husband of five independent wives who never expected to be the mothers of a generation a planet hopes will carry the genes that will change everything. And that’s just part of the story.

blind alien.jpg

Much of Malcolm’s background was drawn from my own life, especially his blindness and

 the treatment he endures because of it. Some of his more bizarre encounters actually happened to me, many of them quite comical. People have asked Malcolm and me all sorts of strange questions over the years—Do blind people sleep with their eyes open or closed? How does a blind man aim properly in toilets? Did I know I had a beard?

Of course, most of the book is pure imagination, as in the ghastly plague that kills three out of four male babies their first year, resulting in Beta-Earth’s culture of polygamy. Hence, Malcolm’s growing tribe of wives and children.

Here are a couple more reviews for Blind Alien which is priced at only $0.99

 

“An excellent work of new SF that hearkens back to the classics of Asimov and Heinlein. Told from the viewpoint of the different characters, it is a tale of a man from our earth (Alpha) being unwittingly transferred to a parallel earth (Beta) where he must learn to adapt to new cultures, attitudes, languages at the same time as coming to grips with the loss of his sight. Each of the characters are fully developed and well defined and being able to hear their thoughts about each encounter brings a richness to the narratives. Politics, religion, social mores and relationships are all examined from both without and within.”—Dave Massengale, Amazon review

“Spymaster and imaginative author, Dr. Wesley Britton has another big hit! His book takes the reader on a compelling journey of an Alpha earthling who has been spirited to planet Beta. Science-fiction, yes, but much more. The book explores science, medicine, commerce, education, spiritual life, family life and sex on an alternative planet which at times is insightful and hilarious in its comparison to our own Earth. In an ingenious way, Dr. Britton has created a new grammar and vocabulary to continually intrigue the reader. A true winner!” –Bobbi Chertok, Amazon Reviewer

Follow Wesley Britton at:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/295635.Wesley_Britton/blog

Series book trailer

https://youtu.be/m8rrP2warHc

BOB eBOOK FINAL

 

Explore Beta-Earth with Tribe Renbourn as the “Alpha Man” and his wives face irresistible prophecies, island tyrants, the curse of the “Plague-With-No-Name,” and a horrifying death-trade.

 

 

 

WWR ebook.jpg

 

Just when Tribe Renbourn is certain they’ve found sanctuary in the country of Alma, they must battle a mutant girl from the aristocracy, a lecherous prince, a theocratic church, and take sides in a world-shaking civil war.

 

 

 

TFA2 (1).jpg

 

After leading a fleet of exiles from the Alman civil war, Tribe Renbourn becomes embroiled with a duplicitous island royal family, the fight to end the “Plague-With-No-Name,” the invasion of a deadly foe, and the demanding will of the harsh goddess of Beta, Olos.

 

 

TE FINAL EBOOK

 

Forced to leave Beta-Earth behind, six members of Tribe Renbourn are forever  transformed when they travel across the multi -verse to be captives of a very different kind of humanity of pairs and must lead the rebellion of the single-bodied “nams.”

 

 

 

RTA ebook FINAL

Forty years after Malcolm Renbourn was drug across the multi-verse, two of his children from Beta-Earth, and two from Cerapin-Earth travel to our planet where they encounter a world suffering from biological war, climate change, religious zealotry, and fear of what these aliens might bring to a suffering humanity.

 

 

Find out more about The Beta Earth Chronicles at:

http://drwesleybritton.com

Follow and like the Beta Earth Chronicles

https://www.facebook.com/BetaEarthChronicles/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cassidy

A Spin-Off novel in the Color of Water and Sky Series
By Andrew Gates

I’m so excited for the release of another Andrew Gates book! As you might have seen if you follow this blog, I’m pretty hooked on the Color of Water and Sky series. It’s some of the best science fiction I have ever read: it’s complex, it’s dramatic, and it’s got twists so unexpected it will make your head spin. Cassidy is no different: in fact, it changes everything. [Mild Spoilers if you haven’t read Iris and Kholvaria].

Summary51ranl61ubl

The world thinks them dead. But they are very much alive. After a deadly attack from an unknown enemy, Captain Sara Gessetti and Lieutenant Damien Saljov are separated from the Cassidy X20 experimental submarine and left to drown in the depths of the Atlantic. Cut off from society, from technology, even from each other, both pilots struggle to survive in this harsh new world, where danger lurks around every corner. But they are not alone. The surface holds many dangers, and some of them come from within…

From the pages of The Color of Water and Sky, this official spinoff story takes place in parallel to books 1-3 in the series.

Musings

What’s so thrilling about Cassidy is that we finally get to see what has really happened to the characters we ‘lost’ in the prologues. Sara and Damien were at the helm of the submarine that started this whole mess, way back in the very beginning of Iris. And now, not only have they survived, but they’ve been sucked into the narrative as well. We follow Sara, and she struggles to stay alive on a mysterious floating farm, and Damien, as he becomes the ambassador of an entire species. Both suffer and struggle to survive in this unforgiving world, not knowing if the other has made it or not.

It’s truly exciting to see the events of Iris, Kholvaria, and the soon to be published Veznek, from an outside point of view. Sara, seeing and not understanding the death and devastation we witnessed on the Atlantic Station. Damien, experiencing firsthand the fallout of the missile launch Parnel triggered at the very end of Kholvria. Having these new points of view completely changes how we experience both losses.

And then… what happens next? Cassidy answers questions and raises new ones as well, making it an essential companion to the main series. It makes me even more excited for the events of Veznek! I really can’t wait to see where the author is taking the series, because he proves time and time again that I really cannot predict it at all.

If you’re looking to see what happens to your favorite characters from Iris and Kholvaria, you’re just going to have to wait until Veznek. But if you’re dying to know how Sara and Damien survived, and what the world is like away from team Iris? This is the book for you. I expands the universe Gates has created and leaves you dying for more!

Read it now! – Amazon

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. 

 

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!

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!