Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

“Hello. I hope somebody is listening.

Radio Silence is one of the best contemporary read I’ve ever encountered. Not maybe, not possibly. It just is. The story follows our protagonist, Frances, and her journey throughout high school. She’s a head girl, has perfect grades and wants to get into Cambridge. Little did people know, she’s also a fangirl who secretly obsesses with a sci-fi podcast called Universe City. And I think it’s incredibly clever of the author to had this particular name for the podcast, considering this is a coming of age story with major ‘I’m leaving high school and I’m going to university, I’m not sure if it’s the right thing for me but we’ll see.’ storyline.

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances has been a study machine with one goal. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside. Then Frances meets Aled, and for the first time, she’s unafraid to be herself.

So when the fragile trust between them is broken, Frances is caught between who she was and who she longs to be. Now Frances knows that she has to confront her past. To confess why Carys disappeared…

Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

Title: Radio Silence | Author: Alice Oseman | Genre: ContemporaryYoung Adult | Publication Date: February 25, 2016 | Format: eBook | Source: AnyBooks | Read for: Diverse Divers Book Club, Beat the Backlist 2019, Goodreads Reading Challenge 2019, PopSugar Reading Challenge 2019 (Current progress) | Links: Book Depository (Affiliate)

[su_spoiler title=”→ Trigger Warnings!” style=”simple”]Abuse, animal cruelty, animal death, depression, hateful language, mental illness, violence.[/su_spoiler]

“Being clever was, after all, my primary source of self-esteem. I’m a very sad person, in all senses of the word, but at least I was going to get into university.”

This story holds such a personal value for me. And I believe not just for me, but also for many other readers out there. I strongly relate to most of the characters in many varied aspects (which I will explain further in the next section). And although this is a character-driven story, I promise, the plot was not bad at all. In fact, it flowed easily (without losing its important value) and still very much enjoyable. I enjoyed the pace and how things lead from one to another. And my favorite part about Radio Silence is the matter of representation. The diverse characters, the mental illnesses, the stigmas. Alice Oseman did an amazing work by bringing up all of these issues without forcing it to be there just for the sake of it. And I truly appreciate that.

The Characters

➪ Frances — Biracial, bisexual, and believes her future lies in academia. When I said I relate to her character, I’m not implying to the head girl and the perfect grades aspect, but rather to the insecure and lost aspect. Society told us that we need a good grade, so we can get a good job and have a good life. And all of that is coming from one root: be a good student. What I was trying to say is even when you did decent in school and university, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll figure out what you want to do in your life once you’re graduate and step out of the building. And these issues portrayed perfectly by Frances. Even when she gets perfect grades, even when she figures out that she wants to go to Cambridge ever since she was a kid, things may go differently and it’s okay to feel insecure and lost once in a while. 

“I was going to be happy. Wasn’t I? I was. Uni, job, money, happiness. That’s what you do. That’s the formula. Everyone knows that. I knew that.”

➪ Aled — Gay, demisexual, shy, passionate, creative, and believes his future does not lie in academia, yet he gets forced into it. Throughout this book, I just want to hug Aled because HE DESERVES HAPPINESS. I can’t believe what he had to go through in his life and although I can’t relate to him as much as I can relate to Frances, his characters portrayed a classic situation of strict and controlling parents, which I believe that most of younger people nowadays can understand. The typical situation of ‘parents always right and kids always wrong’, kids are not allowed to share their opinion because they’re just kids, or maybe kids are allowed to speak up but it doesn’t matter anyway, again, because they’re just kids. Alice Oseman did an awesome job on describing this situation, and I just want to make people realize that just because it’s not happening to you or your family, doesn’t mean it’s not happening to others.

I wonderif nobody is listening to my voice, am I making any sound at all?”

➪ Daniel — Gay, Korean, Aled’s best friend, and believes he must get into university to make his family proud. Although in most books Asian describes as super-smart-it’s-almost-like-they’re-mutan-but-with-their-brain-instead, and usually follows by an explanation that their parents forced them to study 24/7, I’m glad that isn’t the case with Daniel. He’s actually, willingly, giving his best effort in school. Not because his parents force him or told him to, but because he wants to make them proud. As an Asian myself, this is something that I rarely find in YA books. Asian parents often described badly and didn’t care about anything but good grades, which is completely not true. I can’t speak on everyone’s behalf, but this is what I’m experiencing and so does most of my friends. But again, I’d like to appreciate and thank Alice Oseman for this beautiful representation of Asian students. 

“…it felt like we were friends. Friends who barely knew anything about each other except the other’s most private secret.”

➪ Carys — Lesbian, Aled’s twin sister, and describes as the coolest person in the (hi)story. I wouldn’t disagree, though. Carys is that badass chick that looks super-intimidating at a glance but actually has a soft and caring inner side. I think her character adds more layers into the story, as we saw everyone that everyone’s into academic, but not with her (and Aled, of course). I don’t know but I just kinda wish that she had more appearance in this story just so we can dig deeper into her personality.

“It must be useful to be smart,” she said and then laughed weakly. She glanced down and suddenly looked very sad. “I’m like, constantly scared I’m going to be a homeless or something. I wish our whole lives didn’t have to depend on our grades.”

➪ Raine — Pansexual, Indian, and everything you could wish for a best friend. Raine is also another character that I wish had more appearance in this story. But just from the few short scenes with her in it, you could already tell she’s the kindest, sweetest, most selfless person ever and the type of friend that you want to keep for years and years. 

“I don’t know. I think I did my best.” Raine looked at me for a moment. “Well… that’s good? That’s all you can do.”

The Plot

I’ve read this book over a month ago and I’m trying my best to recall my emotions about it. This book is obviously very character-driven, but it doesn’t mean it has a weak plot. I personally enjoyed the steady pace and a bit of mystery touch in it. It was predictable, but I think it adds more flavor and intensity. Aside from the obvious storyline that brought by the main characters, the additional part such as details about how fandom works or the casual text messages conversation was my other favorite thing, or types of different parents out there (I want to be adopted by Frances’ mom so badly!). These made the story more alive and relatable (as I believe so, especially for its target audiences).

“I stopped speaking. There was no point trying to argue. There was no way she was going to even attempt to listen to me. They never do, do they? They never even try to listen to you.”

The Verdict

Radio Silence was such an amazing contemporary, but it doesn’t leave the important representation of diversity and mental illnesses. I do believe that everyone should read this book, and not just young adults. There are so much more in this book than fandom talks or classic coming of age bits.

Book Review of Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

Have you read Radio Silence? What do you think of it? If you haven’t, are you planning to read it in the future?

Debut District: Author Interview with Jennifer Dugan of Hot Dog Girl

DEBUT DISTRICT is a regular feature on Artsy Draft in which I post appreciation towards debut releases through author interview, book blitz, listopia, review, and other related content.

Sooo… We’re back at it again with more debut author’s appreciation post! In today’s episode, I have Jennifer Dugan, the author of Hot Dog Girl, a debut contemporary book which will release tomorrow (on April 30, to be exact!). We talked all about behind the scene process of the book, Jenn’s writing journey (I’m quoting her, “It’s not an over-night success!”), and also how Jenn deals with challenges and writing blocks! 

Hi, Jenn! Thank you for agreeing to do this interview with me. Tomorrow, your debut book, Hot Dog Girl, will be released! How do you feel about it?

I am so excited! This is the culmination of almost exactly a decade of hard work, so to see it finally coming together is amazing.

Hot Dog Girl sounds like a really cute contemporary, yet very bold and unique with its main character and setting! Where do you get your ideas and inspirations to write Hot Dog Girl?

I really have no clue where my ideas come from! Scenes tend to just jump into my head—usually mid-shower, when I can’t write anything down. This is… not ideal, ha! For Hot Dog Girl specifically, though, the original seeds were planted while I was visiting a local amusement park. I saw an employee in a princess costume and thought it would be such a fun setting for a book! I knew right away that I wanted to write about a girl who worked there, but I also knew that I didn’t want to write about the princess. I tried to think of what the most ridiculous costume would be, and Hot Dog Girl was born.

I agree! It definitely sounds fun and it really attracted attention! And how long does it take for you to write it?

That’s a tricky question! I tend to draft fairly quickly. In general, I can have the first draft of a novel done within 3-6 weeks. I’m not a plotter at all—something I am actively trying to change—but for now, I need to write the whole book to understand what the story truly is. After drafting, I let it sit for a bit, and later come back to revise. Revising is where the real work happens, and that process takes much longer and involves a lot more planning. I generally do one or two revisions on my own before sending it out to my CPs. And that’s before my agent or editor even sees it! So even though the drafting process is fast, getting it to a completed stage takes much, much longer.

Phew! That’s a lot of steps and works. But do you always know that you want to be a writer? Do you mind to tell us about your writing journey!

I have wanted to be a writer, but there was a period of time in my early twenties where real life got in the way. I did still freelance for various local newspapers during that time, but aside from trying to work in as many puns as possible, I didn’t have much of a chance to stretch my creative writing muscles.

I got back into writing seriously about ten years ago, but I was not at all what you’d call an “over-night success.” It took me many books and countless rejections before I wrote Hot Dog Girl, which is my debut. Things did move quickly for this one though!

I pitched Hot Dog Girl in a twitter pitch event called #DVPit, which helps connect marginalized authors with agents. It got a fair amount of attention and I quickly found myself with seven offers of rep, which was wild after so many years of querying. I ultimately signed with Brooks Sherman, and we went on to sell Hot Dog Girl at auction to Stephanie Pitts at Putnam/Penguin. It was all very exciting and surreal!

Oh my God! What a wild journey! And as you mentioned, you faced many countless rejections before Hot Dog Girl. Are there any particular challenges during the writing process of this book?

In general, this book came very easily to me. It was the first time I really embraced my voice and told the story I wanted to tell versus trying to write to the market or trying to tell the story I felt I was “supposed” to.

However, there definitely was still work to be done. While the voice came easily to me, pacing did not. I have an editorial agent and he was a big help in sorting things out before we went out on submission. My editor is, of course, also a pacing genius and she got us the rest of the way after that. I have learned so much about my craft from them!

That sounds incredible! And speaking of challenge, what do you do when the writing block strikes in?

Since I also write comics, I’m generally juggling multiple projects at a time. If writer’s block hits on one, I tend to step away for the day and work on something else. Most of the time, switching gears like that will help jumpstart the words and I’ll still end up making progress that day.

If I’m having a day where my brain is just not cooperating at all, I take it as a sign I’ve been pushing myself too hard. I will take a day (or more, if deadlines allow) and read a book or watch a movie. I listen to a lot of true crime podcasts too. I’ve found you need to fill your creative well if you want to keep producing content. I have a tendency to embrace the grind, but I’m trying to be more mindful of taking time for self-care. I know it’s crucial for long term success!

That’s a clever strategy! Since you mentioned about reading, what is the first book that made you cry?

I’m not sure if it was the first book that made me cry, but I have VIVID memories of sobbing over Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls in elementary school.

What’s your comfort zone when it comes to genre? Is there any genre that you won’t read for million years?

I tend to read a lot of contemporary, so that’s my go to. I’ve been starting to get into fantasy more in the last few years, too. I can’t really think of a genre I would absolutely refuse to read, but hard sci-fi isn’t usually my first choice.

Oh, hey! We have similar taste in book genre! [high-five!] Now for the rapid question… name your three all-time favorite books, go!

There’s no way I could possibly answer this! How about the last three books I read that I adored and am utterly obsessed with instead? They are, in no particular order, Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds, You’d be Mine by Erin Hahn, and Wicked Saints by Emily Duncan.

These books sound awesome! And I’m about to read You’d be Mine too! What about your favorite under-appreciated book?

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke. I adore this book! It should be on everyone’s tbr if it isn’t already.

NOTED! Does writing energize or exhaust you?

It really depends on the day. If it’s an emotional scene, I feel completely wrung out when I’m done. (That happened a lot while working on my 2020 release!) If I’m writing fun scenes or swoony scenes, then I feel like I can take on the world after my writing session.

That makes sense. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I’m really sensitive and have a tendency to get in my own head a lot, so I have to be in the right place to be able to read reviews of my work. I do have friends that send me the really kind ones. I know that reviews are for readers, not authors and that not everyone is going to love my book. And that’s okay!

I love your opinion about book reviews! Lastly, who’d you recommend to read Hot Dog Girl?

Everyone!


And that’s the end of my interview with Jenn! If you’re looking forward to read her book, it will be released tomorrow and you can find all of the details and information below!

Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan

Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:

* She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog.
* Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after.
* Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick.
* And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland–ever–unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.

Title: Hot Dog Girl | Author: Jennifer Dunn | Publisher: Putnam | Genre: ContemporaryYoung Adult | Publication Date: April 30, 2019 | LINKS: Book Depository (Affiliate)

Are you looking forward to read Hot Dog Girl?

Paper to Popcorn: Dumplin’

Paper to Popcorn is an occasional feature on Artsy Draft in which I do review of a book to movie adaptation.

Book

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.
 
Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.
 
With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

★★★½

Title: Dumplin’ | Author: Julie Murphy | Publisher: Balzer + Bray | Genre: ContemporaryRomanceYoung Adult | Publication Date: September 15, 2015 | Format: eBook | Source: Anybooks | Read for: Diverse Divers Book Club January 2019 #BOTM | Links: Book Depository (Affiliate)

[su_spoiler title=”→ Trigger Warnings!” style=”simple”]Body hatred, fatphobia. sexism.[/su_spoiler]

Movie

Dumplin’ (2018)

The plus-size, teenage daughter of a former beauty queen signs up for her mum’s pageant as a protest that escalates when other contestants follow in her footsteps, revolutionizing the pageant and their small Texas town.

★★½

Title: Dumplin’ | Director: Anna Fletcher | Starring: Danielle Macdonald, Jennifer Anniston, Odeya Rush, and Luke Benward | Genre: Comedy • Drama | Released Date: December 7, 2018 (US) | Links: NetflixTrailer

I read this book and watch this movie as part of Diverse Divers Book Club. This review supposed to be posted earlier this month, but I wasn’t able to do so because I got caught up with graduation ceremonies, but better late than never, right? Anyway, I’m trying my best to remember my emotions and feelings towards these two, considering I read and watch it quite a while ago.

The Friendship

First thing first, let’s talk about the differences regarding Willowdean’s relationship with her friends. There are a few differences between the book and movie, especially on the timeline. I feel they’re rushing it on the movie because I got caught off guard by how fast everything happened on the screen. For instance, the meeting of Will and Callie on the pool happened a little later in the book. We got the opportunity to get attached to Will and her universe first, the friendship between her and Ellen, and also Will’s very own personality. I think these are very crucial aspects of the plot since it will make us more sympathetic to each character. While in the movie, the scene where Will meets Callie for the first time basically acts as the opening scene and one might interpret Will’s attitude towards Callie as petty. I’d say this is such a wasted opportunity, especially for those who watch the movie without reading the book first. And the other thing that bothered me quite a lot is Amanda nonexistence on the movie. I understand that it’s nearly impossible to fully transfer everything from the book to the screen when it comes to adaptation. But I just feel a bit surprised that they decided to completely erase her.

The Romance

The romance within the book and the movie were both unnecessary in my opinion. I personally feel this story should be focusing solely on Willowdean’s journey of finding self-acceptance, building a better relationship with her mother and also Ellen. While the book had it worse for this aspect (c’mon, love triangle?), the movie also didn’t do any better especially with the cast. I don’t feel connected to Bo’s character at all and I feel Benward is a little too old for this character (yes, even when he’s clean shaven). And again, they decided to ditch Mitch from the story? I’m not the biggest fan of the love triangle, but I ship Will and Mitch more than Will and Bo.

The Mother and The Dead Aunt

Ah, finally my favorite part of the story. The mother-daughter and aunt-niece relationship. While the book brings a meaner side of Willowdean’s mom, the movie successfully makes her a lot more likable, thanks to Anniston. When I read the book and get to any part of the conversation between Will and her mom, all I want to do is scream and yell at her because I couldn’t stand her. But on the screen, she has a different persona, I’d say. There’s no mention of close-minded opinion that featured quite a lot in the book, which is something that I’m completely grateful for (may I remind you of “It’s flattering to get catcalled.” and the assumption that having a boyfriend will cure your problems?). As for Lucy (one of my favorite character!), I think the movie missed the opportunity to feature a lot of her wise sayings from the book.

Overall…

I’m one of those people that will get pissed when an adaptation is not done properly and this is one of them. However, I think the book is quite decent and a lot better than the movie where everything feels rushed. I appreciate the issues of fat-shaming that Murphy tried to bring within her book, while also covering the relatable aspects of teenagehood lives, including self-acceptance, best friend fighting, and family issues. As the final notes, I decided to give the book 3.5/5 stars and the movie 2/5 stars.

Remarkable Quotes

[su_quote]Will. I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life. I’ve thought too much about what people will say or what they’re gonna think. And sometimes it’s over silly things like going to the grocery store or going to the post office. But there have been times when I really stopped myself from doing something special. All because I was scared someone might look at me and decide I wasn’t good enough. But you don’t have to bother with that nonsense. I wasted all that time so you don’t have to. If you go in there and you decide that this isn’t for you, then you never have to go back. But you owe yourself the chance, you hear me?[/su_quote]

[su_quote]Maybe ’cause you don’t always have to win a pageant to wear a crown.[/su_quote]

[su_quote]There’s nothing good about losing someone. But maybe Lucy wasn’t supposed to be your compass forever. Maybe she was there for you just long enough so you could learn how to be your own compass and find your own way.[/su_quote]

[su_quote]This is me. Back me up or back the fuck out.[/su_quote]

Have you read this book or watched this movie? Which one is better in your opinion?

Join us on Diverse Divers Book Club if you want to support diversity in stories!

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Sunscorched by Jen Crane

Another ARC review is here! This time, I received an e-ARC of Sunscorched by Jen Crane from YA Bound Book Tours for free in exchange for a honest review. Let me tell you, I’m a big fan of anything apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic, whether it happened because of zombie attacks or some kind of viruses. So, when I read the synopsis of this novel (and saw the cover too!), I knew I need to read it!

Sunscorched by Jen Crane

Published by Carpe Noctem Publishing on October 23, 2018. Classified as Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic & Science Fiction. Received via YA Bound Book Tours as an eBook.

Death in daylight. Danger at dark. 

 

Life can’t possibly get more treacherous than a violent sun allergy in a solar-blighted world. At least that’s what seventeen-year-old Nori Chisholm thought before news of an impending sunscorch delivered her death sentence.

 

Desperate to survive the scorch, she’s forced to shelter underground and discovers a secret subterranean world where life is hard, and so are the people. Betrayed and left for dead by the man who pledged to help her, Nori is sold to a gritty pit fighting ring. There she makes a friend—and plenty of enemies.

 

Sam Cooper’s motives are at times impenetrable, but speeding through the underground world on the back of his motorcycle is a dark freedom Nori can’t live without. On the run from a group of cutthroat rogues, their escape takes an unexpected twist. A shocking discovery shatters everything they thought they knew. Can they use the knowledge to save what’s left of the world?

 

Winner of the Rosemary Award for excellence in young adult fiction, Sunscorched is a tale of survival and self-discovery at breakneck speed. Fans of Bella Forrest and Marie Lu, who crave dangerous heroes and dark secrets, will love the Sunscorched world.

[su_button url=”https://amzn.to/2yKOqAV” target=”blank” size=”5″ style=”flat” background=”#eba960″ color=”#ffffff” left=”yes” radius=”square”]BUY ON AMAZON[/su_button]
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★★★★

[su_heading size=”14″ margin=”5″]REVIEW[/su_heading]

It’s amazing right from the start. There I said it. I rarely fall so hard for books (last time I checked it’s only Harry Potter & Ready Player One), but Jen Crane did such an amazing job with this book. This if my first time to read her work and it won’t be the last time, for sure. I really amazed with almost every aspects of this book. The story, the characters, the writing style, everything is so good.

The story started with our main character, Nori, standing underneath the night sky, felt almost normal while trying regained her strength after she has been burned in the same week. Wait, what? That’s exactly my reaction. This book is intriguing since the first paragraph and it lasted until the last one. This paragraph at the beginning really does makes you wonder, well, what kind of situation that has been going on here that makes our main character burned? What’s the deal with the sun?

“Times are tough. Nobody makes it alone in a sunscorched world. Community is crucial.”

Now, let’s talk about what I liked from this book more specifically. The first few chapters is super dynamic and interesting and it really keeps me going. Things happened here and there, jumping from one thing to another, while also still maintain its casual side without rushing anything. It’s just has the right balance of it. I think it’s really amazing how Jen Crane can keep the consistency of the pace in this story without making us confused with everything that’s happening.

And did I mentioned how much I loved the characters’ complexity in this book? Every single one of them are described as a multidimensional individual that holds their own value. They’re vulnerable and sensitive and I liked that nobody’s perfect in this story. No one is too kind, too heroic or even too evil (oh well, but you know, aside from the actual really bad villain), and I think that’s what makes it special. Nori is brave, tougher than she think she is, but also can be funny even during times when I least expected her to be. Seriously, her sarcasm reminds me of Chandler from Friends and she’s not even trying. While Norman, Nori’s father, is a sweet and caring figure, but can be persistent when it comes to his family safety. Ana, Nori’s mom, just like any other moms, is very protective of Nori, too scared that something will happened to her daughter. The other characters, such as Cooper and Kedashowed up in the story with one certain strong impression, but turns out to be completely different. 

[su_accordion][su_accordion] [su_spoiler title=”Read Excerpt” style=”fancy”]

A trail of blood disappeared beyond the door of the small foyer. The man Nori rescued lay face-up, the knot near his temple swelling fast. His leg oozed blood, the scarlet pool closing in on the tiny corner of space Nori occupied. When she found the wound—and the gaping tear in his leather riding pants—dread settled in her gut. The bleeding would have to be stopped if he was going to survive, which meant she had to do it.

Nori groaned and scrubbed her eyes, then set to work. She sifted through her backpack for something to tie around his wound, finding both a pocketknife and the thick, sun-blocking canvas she always kept nearby. She ripped a long strip of the fabric and wrapped it several times around the man’s injured thigh.

“Probably a good thing you can’t feel this,” she said to his unconscious form and, catching another look at the knot on his head, grimaced. “You’re gonna have a pretty bad headache, too.”

After tying the two ends together, Nori sat back to admire her work. Blood had soaked through most of the bandage, but it wasn’t seeping onto the floor anymore, at least.

Mom and Dad are probably freaking out by now, Nori thought. Curled in the corner of the foyer farthest from the man, she sat with arms wrapped around bent knees. The man outside hadn’t made a sound. Maybe he hadn’t seen her. Maybe he’d left. Or maybe he was waiting just outside the door.

Nori rocked back and forth, forehead pressed to her knees. Finally, she let out a long breath and stretched her legs. She was leaving. She’d saved the stranger. Twice. He was hidden in the foyer, and when he came to, he could find his own way back to safety.

Bracing herself on the wall to stand, she kept as far as possible from the unconscious body between her and the door. Stretching over him to reach the door, she extended one leg, straddling him only a moment until she lifted the other to join it. But as she raised her back foot, the front one was knocked from under her, sending her roughly down onto her butt. She yelped and looked wildly around, scurrying back to the foyer wall. Hands in front of her face, she prepared to defend herself as best she could.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said. His voice was deep, but not threatening. “Where are we?”

Nori flattened her palms to the wall, pushing herself against it to stand again. She didn’t answer.

The steely eyes from the alley focused on her face. He surveyed her hair, her shoes, and her clothes before finding her eyes.

“What did you throw?” he asked.

The question caught her off guard. “Wh-what?”

“What did you throw? To distract him?”

“A book.”

“A book?”

Nori nodded as she edged toward the door—and the street.

“What were you doing with a book?” he asked.

“Reading,” she said, pinning him with a look that seriously doubted his intelligence.

Dark eyebrows lowered over narrowed eyes. “In the dark?”

Nori bit the inside of her cheek. “Of course not,” she said. She’d been running in the dark, not reading, though she often did. But he didn’t have to know that. “It was in my backpack from earlier today.”

He squinted, as if he didn’t quite believe her. “What happened to your face?”

She reflexively touched the pink patches, a fresh new layer where sun-damaged skin had peeled away. The pink was fading, but not entirely healed.

“Sunburn,” she said. “Stayed out too long.”

“That happen a lot?”

“What business is it of yours?” she snapped. “And you can say ‘thanks for saving me’ anytime.”

His eyes shot down for a moment before he lifted them to meet her gaze. “Thank you.” His voice was quieter, sincere. “I know you put your own life at risk. Thank you for saving me.”

“Twice,” she said. “I saved you twice. Once with the book, and the other by hauling you in here when you were unconscious to bandage your leg. Technically, I guess that’s three times.”

“All right.” His lips twitched. “I owe you one. Or three.” As if he hadn’t noticed it before, he looked down at his thigh and then back to Nori. “First time to make a tourniquet?”

She lifted her head. “You were bleeding all over the floor. I did the best I could with what I had. What happened to you, anyway? You must’ve lost a lot of blood to pass out like that.”

“I tried to clear a chain-link fence, but my leg caught.”

Nori looked at the bandage again, but quickly averted her eyes from the exposed skin of his thigh. She cleared her throat. “Why was he chasing you?”

He shrugged.

“You’re not going to tell me?” she asked.

He shook his head, all nonchalance.

“Fine.” Nori huffed a breath. “What’s your name?”

“Cooper.”

“That your first name?” She asked and extended her arm toward the door handle, making sure she could escape if necessary.

“It’s what people call me,” he said. “What’s yours?”

She didn’t answer as manners battled with self-preservation in her brain.

“Oh, come on,” he goaded. “You can’t ask to see mine and not show me yours.”

“Nori,” she said quick and low. The concession pained her.

“That your first name?” he shot back.

She scowled, and he threw up his hands in defense. “Okay, okay. I’m just messing with you. Anyway, thanks again for the help, Dory.”

“It’s Nori.”

Cooper nodded, an amused smirk tightening his lips. “Thanks, Nori.” He rose slowly, hopping on one foot at first, and reached for his backpack in the corner. As he slipped it over a shoulder, he stopped and caught her gaze again. “Why’d you help me—three times? You didn’t have to.”

“I did have to,” she said. The answer came easily. “You were in trouble, and I could help. No brainer.”

“Kindness is not so common as you think,” he said lifting his chin and narrowing his eyes as if trying to get a better read on her. “How long have you been like this?”

“Like what?”

“You burn easy. And you can see well in the dark, right?”

“I’ve been this way my whole life.” The answer was smooth, and without thought. Nori gasped and balled her fists when she realized what she’d revealed. Her condition wasn’t a secret, though it was a mystery. But she didn’t like a stranger knowing so much about her. And she hated that he’d gotten her to talk so easily. Her teeth creaked under the pressure of her jaws.

“Anyone else up here like you?” Cooper closed the distance between them and searched her eyes for an answer. “You know anyone else who burns like you do? Who can see better in the dark?”

She shook her head, blinking in incomprehension. “How do you… What do you mean? What do you know about it?”

“You should go,” he said and pushed open the door.

“No.” Nori pulled the door shut, her heart thundering in her chest. “Tell me how you knew to ask those questions. Do you know someone else like me?”

Cooper let out a long breath, his wary gaze never leaving hers. “It’ll be light soon,” he finally said. “If you want to make it home in time, you’ll already have to run like hell.”

He turned to open the door again, but Nori stopped him. “Wait.” She fumbled for something to say. “Do you live around here?” She threw on her own backpack, wishing to know something about the man who knew so much about her.

“Right under your nose,” he said, and with one last nod, ran from the foyer, into the dark alley, and out of sight with no noticeable limp.

As Nori watched him go the shadows changed, and her heart seized. The sun was on the rise. “Stupid,” she told herself, racing home on shaky legs. “Stupid, stupid, stupid.”[/su_spoiler] [/su_accordion]

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About the Author

Though she grew up on a working cattle ranch, it’s fantasy and sci-fi that shine Jen Crane’s saddle. Her newest novel, Sunscorched, received the 2017 Rosemary Award for excellence in young adult fiction. Book 2 in Jen’s fantasy romance series, Descended of Dragons, was selected by iTunes/iBooks as “Our Pick” in fantasy/sci-fi. Jen has a master’s degree and solid work histories in government and non-profit administration. But just in the nick of time she pronounced life *too real* for nonfiction. She n ow creates endearing characters and alternate realms filled with adventure, magic, and love. She lives in The South with her family and too many pets.

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Friction in Motion by Sy Kadella

Another book review is here! Phew! This book has been sitting on my TBR list for around a month or so, but that’s completely my fault! College got the best of me, especially around this time of the year. Anyway, Friction in Motion by Sy Kadella is the very first ARC copy that I received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. That alone, is already one of the reason that makes me excited to read this book! So, let’s get into the review, shall we?

This dysfunctional family road trip is on the spectrum and off the beaten path…Ride along on a bumpy cross-country road trip with a highly dysfunctional family. On this trip an emotionally detached child prodigy with a history of therapist visits encounters a cast of quirky characters who validate his wishes to live his life independently. But none of the characters found on the road end up being as path-altering for him as his own immediate family. There are many lessons along the way. The most important being that wherever there is motion, there is bound to be friction, and within this lies the secret to wisdom and the strength to break free.

I’m always excited when it comes to a debut, whether it’s books or movies. Friction in Motion is Sy Kadella’s first novel and I have to say, it was an enjoyable read! The story started with our boy, Jeremy, who get woken up out of sudden by his father to go for a road trip (along with Jeremy’s very old grandpa). It’s summer holiday, apparently. Later on, we got informed that Jeremy’s dad and mom are fighting (not divorce, just yet), but his mom decided to leave the house for a while, and she also bring Jeremy’s sister, Beth. The three of them (Jeremy, his dad, and his grandpa) picked up Beth before they went for the road trip and this is where the actual story began.

When I first read the summary, it immediately made me think, “C’mon. How dysfunctional a family can be that made our main character wants to break free?”. Boy, oh boy, I did not expect that! Even with its slow and steady pace, Sy Kadella successfully delivered a family drama that you won’t forget so quickly. I’ve never really think before about a family drama except of my own. The thought was there, obviously, but to think that your relatives and friends got their own problems with their family, is not something that comes to my mind very often. Of course we all got our own family drama, but we all tend to sugar-coated it in front of everyone else, right? So, to be able to witnessed every single details of Jeremy’s family drama from his perspective (at least), is truly an experience. Also, it felt like I was actually there, sitting in the back of the car, having a road trip with Jeremy and his family.

Friction is Motion is not the type of book that you want to read if you expected a roller coaster drama along with some physical fights or action packs. It’s not. It’s rather casual, coming of age journey of our main character, Jeremy. We got to explore around and see things from his point of view, and when I said explore around, I meant it literally (it’s a book about road trip, what did you expected?) This is a type of book that you want to pick up on a calm Sunday morning and just read it, forget your surrounding and enjoy the flow. What I truly liked about this book, is I can immediately imagine everything without trying hard. The writing style is easy to follow, yet very rich and informative at the same time. I found myself to be surprised at little fun science facts that scattered here and there throughout this book. What a fun way to educate yourself while also being entertained! Final thought? 4 out of 5 stars.

Rating: ★★★★

[su_heading size=”12″ margin=”10″]Title: Friction in Motion | Author: Sy Kadella | Publisher: Razor’s Edge Publishing Inc. | Genre: Adult FictionContemporaryLiterary | Publication Date: September 15, 2018 | Format: eBook | Source: NetGalley | LINKS: GoodreadsAmazon[/su_heading]

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