Review + Excerpt: Under Different Stars (#1, Kricket) by Amy A. Bartol

My Thoughts

My newest all-consuming obsession and
one of my absolute favorite books of the year.

Utterly addicting, instantly absorbing and vividly depicted with intriguing and unforgettable characters. The story line is unique, suspenseful and brimming with the kind of scorching desire and idyllic romance that lingers with you long after the book ends.

5stars

Synopsis

Under Different StarsAll 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?

My Review

Amy Bartol is dangerous. She writes nothing less than the kinds of books that make you want to keep your eyes open with toothpicks and ignore the world until you read the very last page. Forget the shower. Forget your children. Eating… optional. Sleeping… forget about it. All I can focus on is finishing her books. And this one… it was amazing! As addictive as the Premonition series. The angst, the romance, the desire as thick and enthralling as that of Evie and Reed. How the heck will I suffer through the months to get her next book? Her words literally get under my skin, her storytelling is so expressively captivating that I feel like a crazy, obsessive mad woman when I read her stories. You will LOVE Under Different Stars. LOVE. She manages to build this unique world full of crazy lingo and vivid details that had me hanging on to her every word. THEN, she throws two people together and builds this intensifying, oh-so-right desire between them that had me desperately needing them to be together more than I need my next breath. How does this woman do it?! I was enraptured by this story. I didn’t want it to end. It had action, humor, romance, desire and that intangible magic that Amy sprinkles throughout to enliven it, making us thoroughly addicted and begging for more.

“You cannot thrive under the wrong stars, Kricket… the stars here are in opposition to you… can’t you feel it?… Let us take you home.”

Kricket has had a tough childhood, particularly in the foster care system. Now, she’s trying to just hold on to the last few months before she turns 18 when she’ll be finally free to live her own life and stop running. At 5′ 10″ with platinum blonde hair and violet eyes, Kricket is striking and has to work extra hard to stay under the radar by working jobs that pay in cash. When suddenly an unfamiliar trio of incredibly tall, incredibly good-looking men with the same violet eyes as hers find her and claim to be there to take her back “home,” Kricket is simultaneously shocked and on alert. She runs. Unfortunately, shortly after, she finds herself face-to-face with another ominous trio claiming the very same thing. It quickly becomes evident that there’s no place to run, no place she can hide. The first trio have found her again and she’s brusquely taken. As she grapples heart and mind to assess her situation and prepare once again for the worst, she can’t help but feel like her life is in constant turmoil… another situation of which she needs to figure out how to gain control.

“I’m used to holding on to nothing as tight as I can.”

The three men — Trey, Wayra and Jax — are on a mission to find her and bring her home… to Ethar. They claim it’s Kricket’s rightful homeland and it’s time for her to return and pay her penance. Incredulous and baffled, she can’t begin to make sense of what they’re talking about and even how they talk. Their lingo is different and Earth is not native to where they are from. The more time she spends with them as they trek back to Ethar, the more she’s drawn to their humor and even their kindness. The person who seems to be the leader of the group, Trey, is especially protective, although intriguing and somewhat firm, she can tell he’s telling her the truth.

You see, Kricket has this innate ability to irrevocably know when someone is lying. A gift she can’t explain. Kricket is truly a wonderful, kick-ass, witty heroine. She’s incredibly intelligent, inquisitive, funny, tenacious and with a strong sense of survival. The boys from Ethar seem to be equally intrigued with her. I loved seeing the dynamic between them evolve from distrust to trust to caring… especially with Trey. Circumstances continue to push them together as a mutual trust, respect and caring for each other slowly begins to blossom.

“I open my eyes and gaze at Trey next to me. He has his arms crossed behind his head as he stares up at the brilliant stars in the clear, night sky. He seems almost ethereal, bathed as he is in the bluish glow of the light stick. The warmth I felt earlier comes back, slipping through me and filling me with another kind of glow that calms my fear. Feeling his radiating body heat, my breathing slows. He’s too perfect looking to be real. This has to be a dream after all.”

Amy Bartol is the queen of the slow burn… the intensifying angst… the building of emotion. The desire and longing that grows between them on this unexpected journey is unsettling as Kricket finds herself begin to feel more than she’s ever allowed herself to feel. As is also typical with this author, danger is always a breath away and each action scene pushes the characters even closer together. When they realize they are being pursued, the urgency is heightened and getting to Rafe becomes critical.

We learn that Ethar is comprised of five houses… Rafe, Alameeda, Comantre, Peney and Wurthem. We also learn that Kricket is a special type of anomaly that makes her valuable, especially to Kyon, one of the members of the other trio that sought her in Chicago. There are so many questions still to answer, however, and despite Trey’s candor, there’s so much left to uncover. One thing that is clear at this point is that her feelings for Trey have escalated so much more. His presence is comfort, his arms are protection and his touch ignites an irrepressible yearning.

“Responding intellectually to his touch, desire is rising fiercely within me and with it, a ripple of fear is running through me as well because I’ve never felt passion like this before. It’s burning me, consuming me, and leaving almost no room for thought.”

Trey is such an alluring character. He’s an enigma. He can be mercurial at times, embracing the emotions that continue to build between him and Kricket one moment and then pushing her away the next. Is she just a mission? Is she more? Does he really care?

When the time finally nears for her to be handed over at Rafe, a crushing feeling consumes as the uncertain becomes a certainty. And when she’s taken from her friends… from Trey, everything begins to crumble and she realizes she’s a pawn who is highly sought after with gifts that only certain people can expound on. As truths are also revealed about Trey, her heart begins to break in disillusionment.

“A familiar pain squeezes my heart. I know better than to let myself become attached to anyone, like I’ve allowed myself to become to Trey, but it happened too fast to avoid it.”

What ensues is a heart-stopping, heart-aching series of events that had me furiously flipping pages to see what would happen next. One thing is for sure though, by this point I am IN LOVE with Trey Allairis. The fierceness he exhibits, the protectiveness he shows, the gentleness of his actions and perhaps most significantly, his new proclivity for defying all the rules shows how much he loves Kricket. I was totally swooning over this man.

“I’d break every rule for you.”

AND… when Kricket challenges him once again, questioning his feelings for her, he says something like this…

“No, I believe I said it was impossible for you to love me. Almost as impossible as hiding the fact that I love you.”

Sigh.

I was sad to read the last page. I just didn’t want this book to end. I don’t have sufficient eloquent, descriptive words to convey how good this book is. SO MUCH HAPPENS. There are still so many secrets left to uncover as it ends on a precipice… on a promise of something more. Threats continue to loom and I am dying to have the next book in my hands. At this point, Amy Bartol has me groveling, begging, needing both Iniquity (from the Premonition Series) and Kricket’s second novel. I’m not sure what I’ll do with myself while I anxiously await her next utterly addictive story. There’s romance, suspense, action and drama and I can’t imagine anyone not loving this book. It’s a story about finding your truth, controlling your destiny and fiercely fighting for the kind of love that’s written in the stars.

“We have to make the stars align for us now — find a way for us not to get burned for being together.”

series goodreads 2

Excerpt

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.

“Yes.”

“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.

Reading Order and Links

There are three books planned in this continuing series. Click image to purchase.

Under Different Stars Mar-31

About Amy

amy bartolI 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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Comments

  1. WOW ! Love that cover. Beautiful. <3

    Great review and thank you for the amazing Giveaway !!

  2. AWESOME review, Vilma!! <3

  3. Thank you for your amazing post, Vilma!! I’m so grateful <3

  4. Bought the ebook yesterday and can’t wait to start it!

  5. I loved this review, I think I even caught some drool running down my chin 🙂 reading the expert makes me want this book even more but like you said I’ll die waiting to find out what happens next!

  6. Great review Vilma 🙂 I loved the book so much, GARH! I basically love EVERYTHING Amy writes 😉

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