Tenderfoot by Abby Drinen Book Review

Told from rotating points of view, this YA Sci-fi journey story about troubled Earth teens who are pulled into another world to live carries the reader from one conflict to the next with riveting intrigue, unceasing action, and definite heart.

This first volume in the foreseeable series does quite a lot of foundation work, introducing the reader to the world of Enova, a place similar to Earth, but different in many important ways. The author switches between four viewpoints and only drops hints about their sordid pasts, leaving enough mystery to peek your interest, but holding back enough to keep you reading.

The four characters, two boys and two girls, are distinct, and begins with perhaps the most enigmatic, Linnea. Each of the Earthers are teenagers with a past they want to forget, and wake up one day in a new world where they find healing and happiness. But an assassination attempt on all four brings them together in a joint fight for their lives. Their Enovian guardians join them in the journey to find a safe place while the attack is investigated. The story focuses on this journey, with little rest for the weary, but gifted, characters. Even the ending gives them little respite before throwing another confounding twist into the mix, to be continued in the next installation of the Enova series.

Succinct writing, non-stop action, changing POVs, a colorfully created environment, and an undercurrent of mystery make Tenderfoot an enjoyable must-read for fans of YA Science Fiction.   

“No lights, no sound. But my skin knows this isn’t home. Why aren’t I afraid?”

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Throwing Dreams Into Space

One of my in-progress writing projects is a YA steampunk novella, and has the premise of a future, dying Earth being abandoned country by country to survive somewhere in space. Randomly, the country I picked to follow on their journey was France. They leave to co-colonize a terra-formed moon, joining hands with another dying planet’s people to survive. It’s a story that delves into the seeds of inequality and the need for civil rights and change. I researched French culture and history. I adopted the names of some of France’s Tunisian-born footballers to name one family. I included quotes from famous French authors and philosophers before each chapter.
I began this story before the horrendous tragedies occurred in France, Belgium, Baghdad, and Atlanta. Before the tears.
Writers don’t always know why they’re writing what they’re writing. I know the themes of inequality and civil rights aren’t new. It feels like they will never be new or un-relatable. This makes me sadder than I can say/write.
There are simply too many sad days. Social media can make us feel alone or united, depending on the moment. Hope must be sought out. I’ve been a little low on hope lately. But I read those old quotes and try to cling to the hope they harnessed.
Here are some-
“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” – Victor Hugo
“All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.”
― Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers
“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.” – Anais Nin


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Into The Darkness

Being a neurological researcher and not a professional counselor, he felt poorly prepared.  Psychology, philosophy, and medical science crumbled under the feet of death.  Only his faith dared to accompany him into the darkness. 

            “As usual, God,” he spoke to an invisible being, “You are all that’s left.  Help!”   

 -Excerpt from Chpt. 19, The Very Simple Secret, in Vol. 3 of the Days of the Guardian Trilogy, The Red Knot

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The Weight of Her Stare

Zoe’s eyes were transfixed on his face. The attractive patient, with strong cheekbones and thick dark hair, didn’t feel the weight of her stare; but the doctor leading them on rounds noticed and scolded her with a disapproving look.

-Excerpt from Chpt. 2, The Memory, Vol. 2 of the Days of the Guardian trilogy, The Red Cloak

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I’m Bored Already

“Well handsome, maybe you can tell me what there is to do on this floating dump. I’m bored already.”

Li didn’t know how to respond. Didn’t she realize someone had been left behind, risking her own life to bring her sorry butt on board?

Then he remembered he had once felt equally as bitter. But now he felt this ship was somehow…home. He didn’t think she would understand that yet…

-Excerpt from Chapter 12, The Prayer, Vol. 1 of the Days of the Guardian trilogy, The Red String

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Stardusters by Megan Morris – Book Review

“The thing was, she had no idea how to move on from here.  She had no clue how to proceed with the rest of her life. The void that was left in her heart was an expanse the size of a canyon, and Erin knew that there was never going to be anything that could possibly fill that gaping wound.”

-Excerpt from Stardusters by Megan Morris

Stardusters is the first YA Sci-fi novel in a planned series by new Houston author, Megan Morris. It’s the story of a teen named Erin, a softball star and only child, whose mother is murdered. The loss is hard on her. Life gets even more complicated when she picks up a strange rock left at the scene of the crime and takes it home. The rock is made of star dust and causes strange things to happen to Erin. Soon she is introduced to someone who has been sent to guide her to a whole new world, the world of dusting. Her guide, a handsome young man named Jay, teaches her what Stardusters do and informs her that there is more to the world than she ever imagined. It’s the Stardusters job to protect worlds from rogue visitors who use star dust without authorization, possibly for nefarious reasons. Erin dives into her new responsibility with gusto, partly to escape her grief and partly to impress her handsome mentor. Eventually, Erin discovers information about her mother’s murder that pushes her to make some tough choices. Book One of this new series ends with a cliffhanger and an invitation to stay tuned for the next book—Wanderlust.

This author’s first novel succeeds in creating an interesting world (influenced by Doctor Who and other time-travel tales) and develops an intriguing plot line. The cover by Fiona Jayde Media is gorgeous. The characters are clearly described, relatable, and slightly complex. Erin’s intense grief is palpable and reads true, without turning cumbersome with over-description. The author successfully spreads out world-building information in digestible increments to avoid info-dumping. Conflicts keep the reader enticed and wanting to know more, especially though the blossoming romance, family secrets, and the hint of a conspiracy in the Stardusters leadership.

There are vast slews of commas missing randomly throughout the book, which is distracting; but overall, the grammar is acceptable. Some scenes in the story take place in present tense for a purpose, though their purpose is never explored in this volume. Also, the ending is abrupt, which makes Stardusters read poorly as a stand-alone novel. It doesn’t possess its own singular arc with a fulfilling conclusion and then offer clues for what readers should anticipate in the next adventure.

Fortunately there is more to come from this talented YA author!

Check out Megan Morris and Stardusters!

 

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Adopt a Dolphin- WWF

WWF Adopt a Species Program

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The Baiji, the Yangtze River Dolphin, is functionally extinct. Don’t let this happen to other animals around the world. WWF has a fundraising program to adopt an endangered animal of your choice. Consider this  fun and educational way to make a difference!

Give The Baiji to a child and educate them about extinction and caring for the planet. It’s the only one we have. 

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Historic Neuroscientists

There were already many revered neuroscientists throughout history. Ivan Pavlov became famous for his study of behavior modification. He not only influenced science, but popular culture as well. People threw around the phrase “Pavlov’s dog” without even understanding the important contribution to neuroscience that had been made by Ivan Pavlov’s research.

Dr. Ben Carson made medical history by being the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins, perilously linked by their heads. This surgical prodigy also made his mark in the field of epilepsy when he performed a hemispherectomy. Young children suffering from uncontrollable seizures were cured, though the risk of mental retardation was high. Hemispherectomy is a procedure which involves removing one half of the brain. This difficult procedure spurred the further study of epilepsy and seizures, to which Griffin was personally grateful to Dr. Carson for.

Sam Harris and David Eagleman used their knowledge of neuroscience in writing books. Sam Harris delved into philosophy, becoming an anti-religion icon. Both he and Mr. Eagleman, a Guggenheim Fellow and expert on time perception and synesthesia, became New York Times bestselling authors. Neuroscience was once a media darling. Griffin himself, as a young man, had been thoroughly enamored by its motley charms. He didn’t need much parental encouragement to follow in his father’s steps as a neuroscientist. It was what he always wanted to become.

Ben Carson, Sam Harris, David Eagleman, Ivan Pavlov… they were mere stepping stones. Amateurs. Dr. Jay Griffin would outdo them all.

The Red String, Chapter Six, The Cure

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