Book Review – No Vain Loss

Title: No Vain Loss (No Ordinary Star #3)
Author: M.C. Frank
Published: November 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia

Rating: 2 stars
Cover: Like it

no vain loss cover

Synopsis:

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.

Inspired by the short stories of Ray Bradbury, this futuristic young adult novel in three parts is set in a world where Christmas—among other things—is obsolete and a Clock is what keeps the fragile balance of peace.

Written in three parts, this is the breathtaking story of how two unlikely people change the world, and each other, one book at a time.

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.

*I received a free eARC of this book from the author in return for an honest review. Check out my reviews for the first two books in the series HERE and HERE.*

 The long awaited finale of the No Ordinary Star series is finally arriving November 25th. I’ve loved following along the journey of Felix and Astra in their dystopian world. This final book answers a lot of questions, while bringing me back to this creative world Frank has dreamt up and the characters I’ve grown to care about. The first two books have built up to this big struggle of powers in the final book, and Frank did a good job of keeping the foreshadowed action exciting.

However, I had quite a few problems with this installment. While the ideas are good and the twists have been built up, the writing itself seems incredibly rushed and spacey in comparison to the other books. I found myself getting frustrated because it felt like Frank was talking in circles, frequently repeating herself several times before moving on to the next thing—and I’m not even talking about the different perspectives. Often times I’d finish a page and wonder why it took so long to say one thing. Everything felt scattered and it was exceedingly hard to stick with it. I even feel like the synopsis shows signs of this, and it doesn’t actually tell you anything about the story.

In the first two books, getting Felix’s perspective AND Astra’s perspective added to the plot immensely, especially because they both came from different backgrounds of knowledge. In the third book, the different perspectives seem pointless because they don’t add anything different to the story. There were also these moments where Felix and Astra would have entire conversations with their eyes: fully fleshed out thoughts being conveyed without a sound. I definitely feel like you can tell someone something with your eyes, but these conversations felt like such a stretch, I had a hard time believing it was anywhere near possible. The suspension of disbelief was just not there.

I was so excited about this final installment and, while I felt like my questions were answered and some of the plot twists were long awaited, I just felt like it missed the mark by a mile. I wanted to love it, but I just ended up confused by the circular writing.

Blog Tour – Lose Me.

Welcome to the last stop in the Lose Me. blog tour! If you haven’t been following along, you can start at the beginning with Shoshi Reads OR you can go BACKWARDS and start with the stop before mine, Mountains of Rain & Sun. I’m happy that you’ve joined me for my interview with the author, M.C. Frank. First, let’s take a quick look at what this book is about:

Title: Lose Me.
Author: M.C. Frank
Release Date: April 2017
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads

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Synopsis:

Jane Austen meets New Adult fiction in this compulsively readable romance.

“Today is not the day I die.”

Ari Demos starts every day with this thought. Fresh out of high school, she’s landed a coveted role as a stunt double in a new Pride and Prejudice adaptation starring the Hollywood phenomenon Weston Spencer. But this job isn’t going to be easy: Ari will be performing complicated water stunts and driving fast cars along the narrow cliffs of Corfu. One false step and she could lose not only her job, but her life.

And then Wes Spencer, Mr Darcy himself, arrives in Greece. He’s got dirty blonde hair, a mile-long yacht and a bored look on that gorgeous face. Ari wants nothing to do with the rich actor boy, but on the day she meets him, she has an accident. One that almost claims her life. And now she can’t hide from the truth any longer:
She might be much closer to losing everything than she thought. She might be dying. And the British actor is the last person she’d expect to save her life.

She’s a hard-working island girl. He’s adored by millions.
Falling in love was never supposed to be a part of the job.
Staying alive was never supposed to be a part of growing up.

Was this story ever meant for a happily ever after?

I was fortunate to receive an Advanced Readers Copy from the author before the release. You can check out my review here.

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Tell me a little bit about your writing process – how do you get the characters and their stories onto the page?

  • It’s not that exciting if you look at it. The good stuff happens inside my head. I just sit down at my laptop and write! I take it everywhere with me, desk, bed, couch… and I just tap away. That’s pretty much it. Most of the book has been “written” before I start typing, however. It’s been already created in my head as well as fully outlined, and, of course, there’s a great deal of research that needs to be done beforehand, too.

What are your favorite books and authors? How do you feel like they influence your writing?

  • We could be here all day, but here’s a few: I love Jane Eyre, and I think it’s a pure work of genius. But I also love everything by Dickens and Shakespeare. From more modern writers, Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man is my all time favorite, and it actually inspired my sci-fi series No Ordinary Star. From YA fiction I would definitely pick Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, because feels.

Tell me some about your Greek background and how that influenced this book?

  • My father’s mom was originally from Corfu, and there’s a lot of her in Ari’s grandma –although Ari’s grandma is based on both of my grandmothers. I have spent several summers on that island, and I’m so proud of the heritage I carry from those kind, talented and wonderful people. I love how they express themselves through music and song, and how kind they are to strangers. But I also love the beauty of the place, the wildness, the color, the water. When I first thought of Lose Me taking place in Corfu, I knew the setting would be almost as much a ‘character’ in the story as the protagonists. And it did turn out to be the perfect backdrop for the movie Wes and Ari are shooting, as well as…for some other things. (wink)

What has been the most fun book for you to write so far? The most challenging?

  • Lose Me has been by far the most challenging, because I had to do a ton of research on stunts and stunt performers. But the hard work paid off in the end. The most fun book to write was Ruined. I just love Regency, I have been reading Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer and all the other amazing writers of the genre since I was a teen, so it just flowed naturally for me.

What projects are you working on that we should be keeping our eyes out for? Any new books?

  • I have already planned and outlined a lot more books in the Lose Me universe. So if you’ve got a favorite side character, it’s more than probably they will be getting their own book soon! Next is Theo’s, I believe. But deep down, it’s Pan’s story I’m swooning over. Can you imagine a girl that could make a guy like that actually fall for her? Yeah, me neither. We’ll see how that goes.

In Lose Me. you have references to social media outlets and articles between the chapters. How has Tumblr and Instagram helped you as an author?

  • On tumblr and instagram I have found some of the most amazing readers ever, and met my best friend. I have no idea where I would be without them. Also, I think social media is a reality of our lives, and it would hardly be realistic to write a book about young people without taking into consideration how much of their time is spent on the Internet.

Without any spoilers, what was the most exciting part of writing this book?

  • Oh, the stunt sequences, no doubt. I loved researching and coming up with those. Writing them was so challenging, I had to pick every word carefully, but it was completely worth it!

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M.C. FRANK has been living in a world of stories ever since she can remember. She started writing them down when she could no longer stand the characters in her head screaming at her to give them life.

In her books, characters find themselves in icy-cold dystopian worlds where kissing is forbidden (among other things), or in green forests ruled by evil Sheriffs.

Recently she got her university degree in physics and is now free to pursue her love of reading and writing, as well as her freelance job of editor-in-chief. She currently lives with her husband in a home filled with candles, laptops and notebooks, where she rearranges her overflowing bookshelves every time she feels stressed.

She loves to connect with book lovers and other writers on social media. She’s found the most amazing friends and readers on tumblr and instagram, and they are what keeps her going when things get rough.

Connect with her on social media for awesome giveaways and free copies of her books! She would also love to talk to you about anything writing or publishing related.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Goodreads

Buy the Book: Amazon

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One lucky reader will win a finished paperback copy of Lose Me!
Will run from April 11th to May 11th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lose Me. – Book Review

Title: Lose Me. (ARC)
Author: M.C. Frank
Published: April 11th, 2017
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance 

Rating: 4 Stars
Cover: Like It

losemecover
Synopsis:

Jane Austen meets New Adult fiction in this compulsively readable romance.

“Today is not the day I die.”

Ari Demos starts every day with this thought. Fresh out of high school, she’s landed a coveted role as a stunt double in a new Pride and Prejudice adaptation starring the Hollywood phenomenon Weston Spencer. But this job isn’t going to be easy: Ari will be performing complicated water stunts and driving fast cars along the narrow cliffs of Corfu. One false step and she could lose not only her job, but her life.

And then Wes Spencer, Mr Darcy himself, arrives in Greece. He’s got dirty blonde hair, a mile-long yacht and a bored look on that gorgeous face. Ari wants nothing to do with the rich actor boy, but on the day she meets him, she has an accident. One that almost claims her life. And now she can’t hide from the truth any longer:
She might be much closer to losing everything than she thought. She might be dying. And the British actor is the last person she’d expect to save her life.

She’s a hard-working island girl. He’s adored by millions.
Falling in love was never supposed to be a part of the job.
Staying alive was never supposed to be a part of growing up.

Was this story ever meant for a happily ever after?

“The truth is, people don’t survive alone. And they certainly don’t thrive alone.” – p. 312

I recently received an advanced readers copy of Lose Me. from the author, M.C. Frank. I absolutely adored her No Ordinary Star series (reviews here and here), so I was pretty excited to hear that she had written something new and a little bit different. This is primarily why I picked up this book, whereas I would otherwise tend to stay away from NA Romance books. It seems that so many NA books out there have uncomfortable covers with shirtless guys, sometimes sensually grabbing onto a girl as if their life depended on it. What’s inside doesn’t get much more engaging. I’ve only read a couple books under this category, but the ones I have read or flipped through are filled with sex and sexual tension from beginning to end. Honestly, I’d rather not spend my time reading about the sex lives of flat characters. However, since I already know and love Frank’s writing, I decided to give it a shot. The first thing that told me this book would be different was the cover. Come on, guys—just look at that cover! It is way more inviting, creative, and well done than most novels in this genre. How could you skip over this beauty? Plus, the inside gets better! Once I picked it up to read, I cursed every distraction and responsibility that forced me to put it back down again.

Lose Me. is written in a carefree, conversational way as if Ari, our main girl, were sitting down with you, fingers curled around a mug of coffee, telling you all about her life. The story takes place primarily in Greece, with some appearances in New York and England. The descriptions of Greece are gorgeous and gave me a sense of wanderlust. I felt almost like I was there and had been there before, even though I’ve never even left the US in my life. The country’s beauty was captivating and felt like home. Frank, who is Greek herself, did a wonderful job of cultivating her sense of home and conveying that through her writing.

Without getting into spoilers, the middle of the book didn’t grab me as much as the as the rest, but I genuinely cared so much about the characters that I felt a sense of urgency to continue reading. I could feel the pain the characters were going through during some of the conflict and this pushed me on. I sometimes found myself wanting to yell at poor decisions made and tuck the characters in my pocket to keep them safe. Another disappointing aspect was that it felt like the book was rushed in the editing stages. Some scenes went on for a long time and were repetitive, and some of the edits just felt like they could’ve been better. Other than these two aspects, I loved this read.

A huge theme throughout this book is trust. Who should we trust our entire life with and when is it okay to not know? Everything Ari goes through boils down to this discovery: people need people. I absolutely love this and would smile (I’d say internally, but who knows what actually goes on with my face when I’m immersed in a book) every time Ari realized that she needed the support that the people around her are trying to freely give more than she needs to protect them and their emotions or to protect herself. You go, girl. Stop thinking so selfishly about yourself and let people love you. After all, how boring would life be if we didn’t have people near to our hearts to share it with, the joys and the trials? Life is much more rich when you have people to experience it with you, to encourage you, to challenge you, and to hold your hand when things get scary. “People don’t survive alone” (p. 312).

No Plain Rebel – Book Review

Title: No Plain Rebel (No Ordinary Star #2)
Author: M.C. Frank
Published: July 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia 

Rating: 4 Stars
Cover: Like it

51jlw2ncnml-_sx326_bo1204203200_Synopsis:

A soldier is summoned to the North Pole, days before the year changes, told to fix the great Clock for a celebration. He had 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.

The year is 2525.

Inspired by the short stories of Ray Bradbury, this futuristic novel is set in a world where Christmas—among other things—is obsolete and a Clock is what keeps the fragile balance of peace.

Written in three installments, this is the breathtaking and sensual story of how two unlikely people change the world, and each other, one book at a time.

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.

“Silence is not peace, Felix, my hope” (p. 188).

*I received a free copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review*

The truth is out there. *Cue “The X-Files” theme music.*

No Ordinary Star ended with a cliffhanger, so naturally I scrambled to continue the story with No Plain Rebel. (You can see my review for NOS here.) I love reading about Felix and Astra and watching them learn, and as they learn, their worlds grow so much bigger. I love how they learn about how humanity was before it was taken away from them, and watch them marvel at it: “They stand for a few more minutes there, absorbing all the newness of the Old World” (p. 25). Felix and Astra learn what knowledge, ideas, beauty, and love are when the world they live in is void of it. This continuation of their story was perfect.

All of the questions left in NOS are answered in the second installment. Felix learns the truth about who he is, who his family is, and where the world is headed. I think I could feel his mind blowing as his knowledge grew. Both characters learn who to extend a trusting hand to and who is perpetuating the bleak future of their world. There is a delightful part of NPR where Felix is forced to swallow a giant pill of humility and face reality in the fact that he can’t help change the problem without recognizing he’s part of the problem. Whoa! The character growth is through the roof!

Astra and Felix {finally} start realizing their feelings for each other, even with the knowledge that any sort of romantic relations is illegal. Heck, everything they do in this book is considered illegal. I can’t imagine living in a world where reading is treason! I was disappointed, though, that this story seemed to be mostly focused on Felix, and we don’t hear much from Astra in the second half of the book. I am a fan of that feisty red head.

Ultimately, I think book one is my favorite of the two, specifically because of the world immersion rather than the overflow of information. However, as I said, this book didn’t disappoint – and of COURSE it ended on another cliffhanger. Where’s book three?

Love. Hurt. Betrayal. The story continues.

No Ordinary Star – Book Review


Title:
No Ordinary Star (No Ordinary Star #1)
Author: M.C. Frank
Published: November 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia 

Rating: 5 Stars
Cover: Like it51pe2yum8l-_sx324_bo1204203200_

Synopsis:

A soldier is summed 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 life 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.

The year is 2525.

Inspired by the short stories of Ray Bradbury, this futuristic novel is set in a world where Christmas – among other things – is obsolete and a Clock is what keeps the fragile balance of peace.

Written in three installments, this is the breathtaking and sensual story of how two unlikely people change the world, and each other, one book at a time.

“How can such a small person cause so much chaos?” p. 74

*I received a free copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review*

In the beginning of No Ordinary Star, the author writes an introduction about how these books are inspired by the short stories of Ray Bradbury. When I saw this, I knew immediately that this was something I needed to read—Ray Bradbury is a genius. While M.C. Frank has her own unique voice, I can definitely see the influences from Bradbury. Frank does not disappoint.

NOS takes place a couple weeks before the turn of the New Year—2525. This futuristic, dystopian novel explores ideas that are not completely new, specifically creating a world of advancements that have lost touch with humanity and the beauty of the world around them. Though this concept, wrapped up in a dystopia, is becoming increasingly popular, M.C. Frank does an excellent job capturing the reader’s attention and describing something that feels completely new, creating vivid descriptions and wonder inducing images of things we consider the norm in our world today.

In this new world, people don’t have families and pills keep them alive. Each person is created, their personalities and characteristics are chosen, and their flaws basically eliminated. This is why it comes as a surprise when, one day, the soldier receives a message from his grandfather—a familial role he had never heard of. The people in this future have no need for sleep, no need to eat, and are just driven to keep moving. Food, vitamins, health maintenance including rest otherwise gained by sleep—all these necessities are rolled into pills taken every day. Food is just an excessive attempt to connect with the old times, and animals are far less populous. With no need to sleep, many of the men join the military and run drills and missions for 23 hours a day. Ideas are discouraged and the norm of society is to follow orders. Those who rebel are thrown into “the Box,” along with the women, who are punished for even being alive. Diversity, beauty, and love are non-existent. What a bleak, hopeless future. However, one man begins a new awakening that begins to blossom in this book, and, I’m assuming, will reach full bloom in the next two.

One of my favorite things about NOS is that Frank doesn’t take an extended period of time to build the world, but rather dunks you right in and explains the absolute necessary things as you go. This allows for more of an immersive experience that calls for collaboration with your imagination. This book does not explain the world, but shows it. Plus, let me tell you, the descriptions and writing are just so beautiful: “…he feels himself falling away from sight, sinking into the snow, its crystals parting to welcome his weight” (p. 6).

Frank uses this book as a commentary on society, much like her hero, Bradbury. If our world were to strive for perfection and order, would we lose our humanity? Our choices, uniqueness, ideas, and even our mistakes are the building blocks that create the rich world we live in. I look forward to see how Frank continues to weave this world, knowing I will struggle to put the next book down just as I did with this one.