HAPPY RELEASE DAY TO AMY BARTOL!
Title: Under Different Stars (Kricket #1)
Author: Amy A. Bartol
Genre: YA Dystopian
All she wants is a home, but can she find one…UNDER DIFFERENT STARS Kricket Hollowell is normally not one to wish upon stars; she believes they’re rarely in her favor. Well versed at dodging caseworkers from Chicago’s foster care system, the past few years on her own have made Kricket an expert at the art of survival and blending in. With her 18th birthday fast approaching, she dreams of the day when she can stop running and find what her heart needs most: a home.
Trey Allairis hates Earth and doubts that anyone from his world can thrive here. What he’s learning of Kricket and her existence away from her true home only confirms his theory. But, when he and Kricket lie together under the stars of Ethar, counting them all may be easier than letting her go.
Kyon Ensin’s secrets number the stars; he knows more about Kricket’s gifts than anyone and plans to possess her because of them. He also knows she’s more valuable than any fire in the night sky. He’ll move the heavens and align them all in order to make her his own. When everything in their world can be broken, will Kricket rely upon love to save her under different stars?
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Water swirls around me as I open my eyes. I shiver, realizing I’m in Trey’s arms. He’s standing chest deep in crystal blue water with Wayra pacing on the bank only steps away. Clutching Trey closer to me, my cheek remains on his shoulder. Watching a bead of water slip down his powerful neck, I hear Jax say, “She’s waking up.”
Trey, cupping his hand in the water, pours some of it over my hair. It drips down the sides of my face, cooling me. “Let’s get her out. I’ll get the visor and we can check her vitals.”
As Trey wades out of the pond with me in his arms, I try to lift my head from his shoulder. It makes me dizzy so I lay it back. It’s then I notice that I’m only in my bra and underwear. A blush creeps into my cheeks as I hug Trey tighter to me. Wayra meets us on the bank, draping a blanket over us. Trey sits down with me on his lap. He leans against a tree trunk holding me securely to his chest. Peeking at his face, he seems angry as he smoothes my hair back from my face.
Hurrying over with the visor that looks like grandma goggles, Trey sets them on my eyes. Everything is green as I gaze around at the water in front of us. Flashing green lights and readouts occupy the peripherals of the glasses, but the information is running faster than I can possibly read it.
“Ho!” Jax exclaims next to me.
Immediately, Trey’s arms tighten on me as he barks out, “What? How bad is it?”
“Naw, it’s not bad…it’s just…Kricket…” Jax breathes, like he’s in awe. “Look at this brain activity…it’s massive.”
“What do you mean?” Trey asks with relief in his tone.
Jax grins. “She’s lighting everything up. Look at her frontal lobe…it’s off the charts.”
“What does that mean? Is she healthy?” Trey growls.
Jax nods enthusiastically. “She’s healthy! We didn’t fry her with heat stroke, that’s for sure. Or, if we did, she’s got more brain activity than anyone I’ve ever seen to compensate for it,” he replies, sounding seriously geeked about it.
“Those things aren’t broken, are they?” Trey asks speculatively.
“No…here.” Jax pulls them off my face. “Wayra, come here.”
Wayra walks over and Jax puts the glasses on his eyes. “See! He’s normal, well, normal for him. See how it doesn’t light up in these areas?” he points out to Trey.
“Now watch this,” he says, taking the glasses off of Wayra, he places them back on my face. “See? It’s like Christmas in Chicago with all those lights,” Jax says proudly.
“So that means she’s smart?”
Jax beams. “Yeah, she’s smart! She’s brilliant! There’s no telling what she can do.”
“If she’s so smart, why did she run until she almost popped? Why didn’t she just tell us she needed to rest?” Wayra asks derisively.
“Personality flaw,” Trey replies. “She’s going to show us that she’s not weak.”
“She’s sitting right here,” I murmur, pulling the glasses off my face and handing them to Jax.
I’m so thoroughly impressed with this book that it’s difficult to put into words.
First, what is dystopia?
an imaginary place where people are unhappy and usually afraid because they are not treated fairly
Honestly, the world building and original ideas Amy came up with could easily put this book in either the sci-fi or fantasy genres. It was that well done. I’m all with my swoony romance… but I read just as much sci-fi and dark fantasy to say that I could put this novel up against any of the novels I’ve read.
Captivating from page #1, I want to know more, more, more! Why is she on the run? Where is her family? How is she surviving on her own?
This incredibly intense story unfolds at the PERFECT pace. From slowly discovering and accepting that she isn’t human, to figuring out who to trust, and plotting how the hell to get herself out of all this craziness.
When Kricket first arrived on Ethar (I want to go ga-ga over how they traveled, but I don’t want to spoil one of the coolest scenes I’ve ever read!), we discovered this new planet with Kricket. Amy described it’s beauty in such a way that I could vividly picture it; Redwood-like trees as tall as skyscrapers, weird and terrifying creatures, the night sky.
And, of course, it’s a totally advanced civilization. Their technology was incredible! Kricket couldn’t figure out half the gadgets. It was ALMOST as funny as Trey & gang trying to figure out the American slang Kricket used.
Yet, the society’s views on “class” and women is backwards. This is all unacceptable to Kricket. But, being the survivor she is, she bides her time, played nice, and formed alliances where she needed to.
I am so glad Amy picked the scene above as the excerpt for the blog tour. It was a turning point for me…
“Ho!” Jax exclaims next to me.
Immediately, Trey’s arms tighten on me as he barks out, “What? How bad is it?”
They put the medical visor on her while still on Earth. She checked out fine. But now, on their home planet of Ethar and “under different stars”, her brain activity goes crazy. Loved that twist! Had me wondering just how special Kricket was. Turns out– pretty special.
She is young but very mature, intelligent, and has a few gifts that help her go from pawn to player.
I fell in love with Kricket immediately. Despite the fact that she’s been in the foster care system since she was five and brutally abused– she’s so strong, compassionate, fiercely loyal to the only two friends she has on Earth, and is the definition of a survivor! BOOYAH!
She also has understandable and significant trust issues, and a deep-rooted fear of abondonment that comes out at times when she is desperately trying to be or remain independent.
This is an exchange between Kricket and Trey:
“It will take a very hard, very determined personality to survive what is ahead for you without help.”
“Got it,” I growl through clenched teeth, anger flaring up in me at the sympathy in his voice.
“Stone can be broken.”
Tilting my head toward him, I meet his eyes. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. I’m used to holding on to nothing as tight as I can.”
I was so emotional by this point, I had to set my Kindle down for a while after I read that. This poor girl. Pushing away the only 3 people she knows on the planet. Why? Because she refuses to accept help. Worse! Be pitied. It’s not even about having a wall of protection… she’s got no wall. It’s raw. All of it; Pain, abuse, multiple disappointments, being just another number is the system. And this is why I absolutely love Amy’s writing– Instead of giving up and wallowing in it all, Kricket keeps it fresh. A reminder. She uses her past to build HERSELF up and strive for a better future.
That said, accepting help and depending on Trey is setting herself up for another blow. Plus, she can take care of herself.
Up until this point they shared a few tender moments. But it was this part when Trey’s professional, all-business military badass front came down a little. Said a different way, he likes her. A lot.
Did someone say badass?
I’m going to get my swoon on because, well, I have to.
Trey Allairis: Mr. High-ranking Cavar military alien badass!
“Request permission to carry her down, sir.” Wayra says, staring at me.
“Denied,” Trey scowls with a clipped tone…
That’s right, Wayra–you fool. Request denied! It’s just so delicious. On top of Trey’s all-around alien hotness, with his black hair and violet eyes, these military commands took it to another level for me… “REPORT!”, “DENIED!”, “ENGAGE!”, “POSITIONS!” *oops, that last one was me….😉
Trey in his tripped out, camo gear that changes with his environment like a chameleon! Flanked by Jax and Wayra! Guns poised on their shoulders– ready to kick some serious ass.
***Just a little side note here: OMG! Even the way Trey used voice command on his military vehicles was hot***
Yes. He’s hot–literally– his alien body holds it’s warmth even in freezing water. *shivers* Yeah… time for a snuggle session.
“…My eyes pause for a moment on his neck, seeing thick, black tribal tattoos covering one side of it… But I lose my breath when my eyes connect with his. His irises are a lovely shade of violet, a similar color to mine.”
As Trey gets to know Kricket, his one-track “I must complete my mission” mind starts to shift. Just enough to see her as more than a mission. Just enough to wonder if it’s not just the Alameeda that she needs protecting from. And just enough that, for the first time in his life, Trey may very well risk it all… for Kricket.
Kyon smirks. “She’ll be the death of us both. I’d be doing you a favor by pulling the trigger. Don’t you know that you should eliminate what you can’t have? She’s a priestess. She’s in your head, Trey.”
“My head, my heart, my blood,” Trey responds immediately.
“That’s unfortunate for you, because she belongs to me. I own her…”
Moving on to Jerkface. I mean Kyron.
Talk about a delusional, self-absorbed, entitled ass!! OMG! The ways I hate this guy! Yes, folks, Amy created another villain we will all love to hate. I just know he’ll make a real play for Kricket’s heart in future books. That and one of Kricket’s abilities is to be able to tell when someone is lying. So when Jerkface says, “I have feelings for you.” She knows he speaks the truth. UGH.
I live in Michigan with my husband and our two sons. My family is very supportive of my writing. When I’m writing, they often bring me the take-out menu so that I can call and order them dinner. They listen patiently when I talk about my characters like they’re real. They rarely roll their eyes when I tell them I’ll only be a second while I finish writing a chapter…and then they take off their coats. They ask me how the story is going when I surface after living for hours in a world of my own making. They have learned to accept my “writing uniform” consisting of a slightly unflattering pink fleece jacket, t-shirt, and black yoga pants. And they smile at my nerdy bookishness whenever I try to explain urban fantasy to them. In short, they get me, so they are perfect and I am blessed.
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BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY:
1st place: KINDLE FIRE + ebook of Under Different Stars
2nd place: Kindle Cover + $50 Amazon Gift Card
3rd place: $50 Amazon Gift Card
Giveaway administered by Amy A. Bartol
Winners will be notified via email and if winner does not respond within 5 days another winner will be selected
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