Relocating to Arctic Norway would put a freeze on anyone’s social life. For Leda Lindgren, with her crutches and a chip on her shoulder the size of her former Manhattan home, the frozen tundra is just as boring as it sounds. Until she meets her uncle’s gorgeous employee.
Unfortunately, no matter how smoking hot the guy is, Roar comes with secrets as unnerving as his moving tattoos. And Leda doesn’t trust him.
Roar shouldn’t be drawn to the moody human girl with eyes that leave him weak in the knees. But when Leda gets shot by one of his enemies and survives, Roar finally understands why he’s drawn to her: Leda is exactly what he was sent to Earth to find. A weapon of immense power capable of saving his planet.
She just doesn’t know it yet.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||12 Years|
About the Author
Ashley Graham grew up in a small town in Ontario, Canada. For her thirteenth birthday, her grandparents took her across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom, sparking a love of all things European. Since then, she has lived in the UK and Norway, and now calls Los Angeles home.
She began writing to combine her love of history, aliens, and science fiction with kick-butt heroines who don’t need a white knight. Her obsessions include vegan cooking, books, tea, sandals, turquoise jewelry, nail polish, and online shopping.
Read an Excerpt
All the Stars Left Behind
By Ashley Graham, Stephen Morgan
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Ashley Graham
All rights reserved.
Every time she blinked, Leda Lindgren saw blood. Blood in vials. On hospital sheets. Crusted around IV sites. Blue vein rivers on pale, paper-thin skin.
Two weeks had passed since Dad died. Fourteen days. Three hundred and thirty-six hours. Over a million seconds without him. She felt his loss like a physical pain so deep it would never fade. And Mom? She just erased him, painted over his little corner of the universe in slow, deliberate brushstrokes. But Leda remembered. She held on to every memory, every picture, every piece of him.
Mom wanted the move to Norway to be a fresh start. But it wouldn't — couldn't — be that. There would be new friends. New places. But some things couldn't be left behind.
She stood outside her new home beside Nils, a scarecrow of a boy, all mismatched parts stuck together with a mop of white-blond hair hanging in his eyes. He was her distant cousin or something. Actually, her uncle hadn't really explained how they were related, just that he hoped they'd get along. Leda had avoided him until ten minutes ago, when he walked up and without a word stood with her and stared up at the gray house while biting, Arctic wind burst down the street, filling the space between her palms and the crutch hand grips. The galaxy pendant felt warm against her chest — a gift from Dad the day before he died.
"Wear it always," he'd said. "When you least expect it, you'll need it." Though she didn't know what he meant by that, she'd slipped the silver chain around her neck right there in front of him and hadn't taken it off since.
Leda blinked away tears. Best to avoid the giant black hole of grief and pretend everything isall right. Her breath came out in a shaky sigh. "This sucks."
"It's not so bad." Nils motioned to the harbor between her house and her uncle's shop. "The view's kind of pretty."
"Yeah, if you don't mind the lack of trees and sub-zero temperatures in the middle of summer. Or living in a boring gray house." Everyone else in this freezing cold suck-fest known as Vardøchose bright colors for their houses. Maybe they thought sunny yellow or vibrant red made living in the Arctic Circle less crappy. None of the other houses were the same dull gray shade as the surrounding skies.
"Could be worse."
A smile transformed his features, and suddenly, all his mismatched pieces fit together. Nils should always smile, she thought. "You could be stuck living on the islands with all the birds and no people."
"I can deal with no people. A slow internet connection is another story."
"We get a fairly decent connection here. Perks of living at the top of the world. And hey, you speak Norwegian like you grew up here."
"My parents were born in Norway, and Dad spoke Norwegian to me at home all the time. When I complained about it, he'd say, 'Understanding your roots gives you a tangible connection to where you came from, and learning the language is a powerful tool to start with.'"
"And it paid off." He paused, his smile fading to a contemplative look. "Did you sprain your ankle or something?" There it was. The first of many innocent yet annoying observations about her crutches. Just once she wanted people to see her and not her disability.
This is why I hate meeting new people.
"I have Spina Bifida with an L5 lesion."
"L5?" His brow creased.
"Yeah, the letters and numbers tell you what part of the spine is affected. L means lumbar, and 5 is the section. I can't feel much of anything in the muscles down my legs, and in my ankles and toes. Makes walking kind of a challenge. That's where these come in." She lifted one crutch. "I mean, I can walk without them, but I'd rather not take the risk of falling."
For a moment, Nils remained silent with that curious stare most people wore when she spoke about her condition. Then he bobbed his head. "I'm starving. You hungry?"
Leda opened her mouth to answer when Uncle Arne Johan Fredrik Sørensen — who thankfully just went by Arne — poked his head through an upstairs window. A shock of red hair and a thick beard against milky-white skin with a brow the size of the entire Asian continent. Including Russia. He reminded her of a wild mountain man who hadn't seen civilization for decades. Except he owned an electric razor. She saw him using the trimmer attachment on his nose hairs earlier. Some people lacked a filter while others were clueless in the privacy department.
"Hello, Nils! I see you met my niece," he shouted in Norwegian, stroking his bushy beard. His voice carried between houses in a Shakespearian-actor-on-stage kind of way. "Are you just going to stand out there all day, Leda?"
"Is there anything else to do here?"
Arne's deep belly laughter ricocheted off the buildings and carried down the narrow street. "There's plenty to do! I offered to take you to Hornøya to see the birds."
"Birds aren't really my thing."
Nils hid his laughter with a cough.
"Ja, well, you could always join me in my shop."
Instantly, she perked up. Uncle Arne created one-of-a-kind pieces of art with wood. Some were small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, while others required months of painstaking work and attention to detail. Leda had seen a couple other pieces on his website (she'd been utterly shocked that they had internet up here) and had to admit, he had some mad skills.
"I could use some help today," Uncle Arne said. His smile sent warm flutters around her heart. "You, too, Nils." His gaze drifted away from Leda and he waved.
Leda turned and saw an old man behind her. Coarse, unruly gray hair framed his age-ravaged face. But his eyes were clear and bright, almost mischievous. Like the trolls in the fairy-tale books Dad used to read to her. The man looked directly at Leda, his focus intense. A slow grin stretched the wrinkled map around his mouth as he blinked. What the ...? Two sets of eyelids flickered, one after the other.
Leda stumbled back into Nils.
"Whoa, you okay?" His hands closed around her shoulders.
She rubbed her eyes, then stared at the old man again. He said not a word, just went on his way down the street. Whistling a tune and swinging his arms at his sides. She could almost believe she'd imagined the eyelid thing, except his legs — they bent the wrong way when he stepped.
No. She shook her head and straightened up, moving away from Nils. It's all in your mind. You're exhausted. That's all.
Uncle Arne called from the window, "Are you all right down there?"
"Fine!" Not even close. "We're going to grab something to eat, then we'll meet you in your shop."
Nils clapped his hands together and rubbed them. "I wonder if your grandmother has any of that Scottish shortbread left."
Right. Shortbread. Not those eyes. Not those backward legs.
What the hell did I just see?
In the kitchen, Grams stood in front of a closed door behind a round, age-worn kitchen table, her back to Leda and Nils. When she turned, Grams's jaw hung open and she slapped a hand to her chest. "My God, Leda! You took five years off me."
Leda's brows lifted. Every time she put her weight on her crutches, they squeaked on the polished hardwood floors. No matter how dry the rubber tips were. "We just came to grab a snack before heading out to join Uncle Arne in his shop."
"Ah." She paused for a breath. "There's shortbread in the tin on the counter, and ginger snaps in the pantry. You know your way around, Nils."
Leda motioned to the door. "What's that for?"
"Nothing!" Bright panic flashed over Grams's face. Quick as it came, she steeled her expression. "Just ... don't go in there. It's nothing. Unsafe."
Leda frowned. "Why? What's inside?"
"The basement was never finished. There's only a tunnel going down, with no lights, and no way up. That's why it's sealed." Grams shuffled away from the door, hands pressed to her heart, white wispy hair drifting around her narrow face. "I need to go sit down and slow my heart rate."
What a crazy overreaction. It was just a door. Nothing special. Unless Grams had a secret lab or something in the basement. She glanced at Nils, but he was already at the counter with the tin open, stuffing cookies in his mouth like he hadn't eaten in years. He snatched the ginger snaps and a bag of chips from the pantry on his way outside. Shaking her head, Leda grabbed a banana from the counter, then slipped out the side entrance and shuffled the short distance to her uncle's woodshop.
Located a couple of yards from the harbor shore, Uncle Arne's shop boasted high ceilings, a state-of-the-art sound system, and the comforting scent of wood. In one corner was a small pot-bellied stove where he discarded small or otherwise unusable scraps. Floor-to-ceiling windows framed the harbor and two smaller islands: Hornøya and Reinøya; both nature reserves.
"If you look out that window there," Arne said, appearing at her side, "you'll see the high school across the harbor. That blue building, beside the hotel."
Just what she wanted to be reminded of. School, and having to make new friends, and moving up in grades. That the world kept on turning, never looking back at the ones left behind. Unshed tears blurred her vision. When she looked up, Uncle Arne gave her a look showing too much ... everything. From his seat in the corner, Nils crunched away on a shortbread cookie, oblivious.
Leda turned to the window. Sea birds fell like dead weights, cutting through the water. Foam chevrons marked each entry point, then vanished with the swell of the sea. Despite the near-freezing temperatures, the birds chattered and played in the sun. Dad would have loved it here.
"I think so, too," Uncle Arne said.
Leda blinked. "Did I ...?"
Oops. "Speaking of parents, have you heard from my mom since she left this morning?"
A shadow stretched across his face, but as quickly as it came, it vanished. "Your mother is a complicated woman."
Not exactly an answer to the question. "Tell me about it."
He flashed a wry grin. "I know she's not the easiest person to get along with, and I have the scars to prove it, but we have to remember that she's family."
The reminder slammed into her chest like a ten-car pile-up. Leda was quickly running out of family members. Dad had no family left; it was always just the three of them back in New York. Well, when Mom bothered showing her face. Most of the time, Mom took off on her own every chance she got.
Uncle Arne settled a massive hand over Leda's on the worktop. "Just because she's your mother doesn't mean you can't be upset with her, or hurt by her words or actions, hm?"
Leda turned to the window, biting the tip of her tongue so she wouldn't lose her cool. "It's just that ... I try," she said. "I try so hard, but nothing's good enough for her." Not even her seriously amazing math grades last year, and the invitation to an exclusive summer program at MIT. All expenses paid.
"She's been like that since we were both kids. Always so uptight. I've never met anyone with such a sharp tongue." Arne shook his head and a halo of red curls spun above him.
The shop door opened, and Nils made a gasping, spluttering sound. Leda stared at him in shock. His pale skin glowed an unearthly shade of pomegranate, his eyes bulged, and he clawed at his neck. He was choking.
Leda's brain screamed "do something!" Her body didn't respond. Fear rooted her legs to the ground.
A silver flash rippled by her left side, gusting chilly wind through the shop. Faster than anything she'd seen. Suddenly, a boy appeared from nowhere, faint silvery lines surrounding him and fading in seconds. In a single motion, he yanked Nils to his feet, turned him around, and thumped him on the back, hard. A solid wad of chewed-up shortbread landed on the floor with a splat.
Nils took an audible breath, then another, and another. His color faded to pale as Uncle Arne reached his side. The stranger backed away, his face turned to the ground, but she could see his expression. His mouth turned down. His eyes squinted. The emotion he was trying to hide, it looked almost like ...
But that didn't make sense.
Arne was speaking, but Leda didn't hear him — the stranger zeroed in on her with dark, earth-brown eyes that sucked all the light from the room. Scraggly auburn hair streaked with beams of sunshine hung down across sharp cheekbones and slanted into a wide jaw. His face was haunting. The look in his eyes, confusing. Intense. He stared at her, like he saw her. All of her, through every layer of skin and muscle and bone, right down to the dreams and fears etched on her soul.
The right side of his mouth twitched a bit, like he was holding the frown in place using every ounce of resolve to keep up his stern expression. Then he looked up, right at her again, and the sky fell to the ground with an unholy clatter. Or was that the sound of her heart? She suddenly felt very aware of her crutches.
She dropped her gaze from his, settling on broad shoulders and solid-looking chest. His T-shirt read "My other sword is a Zweihänder ..." and the words were bisected by a long blade.
"Leda? Are you listening?"
Embarrassment burned white hot, like a rash on her skin. Leda met her uncle's amused stare and mumbled an apology.
"I was introducing you to my new assistant, Roar. He's been helping out around the shop for about a week."
"Oh." She noticed Nils seemed fine now. He opened up a package of ginger snaps and bit into one, slowly this time. "Are you okay?"
Nils just stared between her and the stranger. Since he came into the shop, Nils seemed almost terrified of Roar. He stood hunched behind Arne, his attention never leaving Roar for long. Distress pinched his brows together.
"Probably ate too quickly, hm?" Arne smiled. It didn't quite reach his eyes.
Something niggled in the back of her mind, something important. The stranger rolled his shoulders and all she could do was stare. A series of tattoos ran along his throat and dipped down the V-neck of his shirt, shades of vibrant blue outlined by black, a stark contrast. A flock of what looked like tiny birds in flight on the left. Intricate tribal swirls and barbed wire on the right worked their way from his neck, dipping down beneath the collar of his shirt, where they peeked out of the sleeve to curl around a bicep. And it looked like the tattoo was moving.
This time when Leda stumbled, tripping over her crutches, Nils wasn't there to catch her. The floor jumped up, a hardwood wave. But she didn't fall. Warm hands gripped her by the waist and held her upright, turned her around. Roar.
Again, he was all she saw. Only him. She moved her hand to his on her waist, and the world disappeared, everything disappeared, except him and the flash of something in his eyes that excited and scared her. Electric shocks rippled up and down her spine, filled her chest, froze her brain. For an hour — or was it a second? — she stood there, holding this stranger's hand.
"There must have been some snow on the floor," he said. "I'll clean it up."
Snow. Not some comment about her disability. The comment made her feel oddly ... empowered. Like it didn't even occur to him how the crutches could hold her back.
His gaze moved from hers down to their hands, fingers interlocked, his skin a few shades paler than hers. She watched his eyes, searched for some hint hidden in their shadowy depths, anything that might explain his thoughts. Roar gave her hand a gentle squeeze, as if to reassure himself it was really there, and Leda squeezed back. He snapped his head up like an alarm had gone off.
Weird. Leda backed away and released his hand. Her palm slid out from his, the friction warm. She almost forgot about her crutches. In the next second, she remembered where she was, and who else stood in the room. Nils and Uncle Arne were watching. Oh crap. What's wrong with me?
Nils remained half-hidden behind Uncle Arne, his gaze locked on Roar. Roar glared at Nils. A muscle jumped in his jaw; his hands formed tight fists at his sides. No one moved. No one spoke. Leda could almost hear the hands move on Uncle Arne's watch. Sweat glittered like pin-sized diamonds on his brow, making his peach freckles stand out.
Grams called a ten-minute warning for supper, her words cutting through the intense silence. Roar grabbed a broom and began sweeping the floor.
"I should go," Nils practically whispered.
Spider's web lines pulled at the corners of Uncle Arne's eyes and a smile hid in the scruff of his beard. "Come by tomorrow afternoon for pizza and a Zombie Island marathon. Leda brought the entire series with her."
Nils perked up. "I think Leda just became my favorite person."
Excerpted from All the Stars Left Behind by Ashley Graham, Stephen Morgan. Copyright © 2017 Ashley Graham. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have to be honest, when I first started reading this book I was expecting it to be a 3 star read. The first chapter didn't grab my attention, and it felt a bit rushed, but I am so glad I gave it a chance, because it soon morphed into one of the most exciting, intense and thrilling reads I have had the pleasure of stepping into. Sci-fi enthusiasts will eat this book up. But even if you are not into aliens and interstellar wars, you'll love the book for its elements of romance, forbidden as they were, and you'll be cheering these amazing characters on with each flip of the page. I liked how Leda was still so human, worrying about silly things like her hygiene etc. even while in the thick of things, but she was also prepared to step up to the plate every chance she got. Her strength stemmed from having to fight a disability that had been a bane in her existence for many years, and this gave her the courage to be more powerful and willing that even the strongest of her group. I was excited to see how exactly the weapon worked, and what it was capable of, and I was expecting an all out battle to ensue, but Graham surprised me with the twist added near the end. This book was a fast-paced, action-packed, adventure across the galaxy. It was a fantastic read that immersed me in an imaginative world; one that I would very much like to visit again...soon!!
**3.5 Stars** Leda has just lost her beloved father to cancer and now her whole life has been uprooted by her distant mother, dropping her with her Grandmother and uncle, who she did not even know existed. While living with her newly discovered family, she meets her uncles employee Roar, a strange boy that she is instantly drawn to. Strange things keep occurring to Leda, like seeing things that nobody else sees like shadow people, and the odd encounters between her and Roar, where time goes missing whenever they touch. Just when she feels like she is starting to get a grasp on her new life, a bomb is dropped and nothing is what Leda thought it was. I love alien stories and pretty much anything with space travel so I was really interested in reading this version. It did not hurt that the cover was eye catching, and we all know I am a sucker for a good cover. I can honestly say this book was a very unique plot with an alien search party, pretending to be refuges from another planet seeking shelter on earth, but in actuality they are searching for a weapon to save their people. The book took place on earth as well as outer space, with the crew facing one challenge after another from all kinds of space attacks and human surprises. This story was a nice mix of space/supernatural technology and adventures, mystery, danger (creepy space tentacles? yes please) and a forbidden love thing going. I could not predict what would happen next, Ashley Graham kept me on my toes with each dangerous turn thrown at Leda. The story alternated between Roar and Leda, both so important to the mission and the story. I am such a fan of dual narration in my romance books, and this was no exception. My favorite part of Roar was the fact that Leda was disabled never even was a thought. To Roar, she was a beautiful, competent and smart girl who he wanted to get close to at any opportunity- her crutches and spina bifida did not exist to him. So sure, Leda had a physical disability, but nobody treated her as such (except for herself at times) instead they expected her to be capable of great things and brushed off what she felt she was not capable of. I was not sure how her physical status would play into the storyline, but it was well played where a girl with a disability can save the world- no haters here. Both Leda and Roar are well developed characters, enough so that I could connect and empathize with everything they go through. The side characters were just as important to the story, such as Leda's family and Roar's crew, helping to create a fully fleshed out world. The one thing that I struggled with a little was the transitions in the story, especially at the beginning of the book. The narration of the book alternates between Roar and Leda, but it never indicated when, so it would switch randomly during a chapter and took a few sentences for me to catch up. Also, the story jumped around, like things were missing, so I would re-read parts to see if I accidentally skipped it, but nope, it was just not there. For example, Leda was about to finish making dinner for everyone, had an intense confusing moment with Roar, and then went to bed... I guess dinner was over? Did time jump too, and the people she was cooking for did not feel the need to eat or come look for her if she was missing for hours? And she disappeared in front of her uncle, who didn't notice she physically vanished (if that is what happened...I really am not sure).
When I read the blurb, I was non-committal about it. When I started I thought - Oh, this book had so much promise! An alien story with a disable MC, and an intergalactic war - it had some good components, but the writing failed it. So, you have these two species - Aurelite and Weodes - both at war with each other, with the latter having an upper hand, and the former a hidden weapon that was to be retrieved from Earth. So Aurelia sends Roar, who is basically a genetic bloodhound, to get the weapon back, who is Leda, our MC. On the way to the planet they are meant to save, though, they come across many obstacles like a kidnapping, space attacks, and their ill-fated love (eyeroll for the last one). I'm going to start with what I like first, because if I started with the opposite, this review will go on and on. I liked that it has a diverse set of characters - disabled POC (in human sense, not alien, but she is not white, basically) main character, a transgender character, (at least) two gay characters, and possibly an alien-human romance. The story is novel, in a way, utilizing the diverse cast in the plot structure. It also takes unexpected twists, which kept me on my toes, sort of. And it has a fast pace, so you are not bored if you are looking for a space adventure. It is also good on details, when it came to the science and the action. However, this book had many problems, starting with plotholes that I was getting exponentially enraged by. I'll list out a few but it's not a complete list. It is never mentioned how long Roar and his squad were on Earth before he found her - when it is clear that he has an instant connection to her like a beacon. And when he found her, it still takes some time for her guardians to reveal her to him, which considering they are raising her for, didn't sit with the adults-hiding-the-truth cliche that somehow all YA novels have; wasn't the war in Aurelia time sensitive enough for them to not waste time dawdling on Earth. And then when they finally decide to go? They waste days fixing the spaceship's cloaking system which is useless BECAUSE THEY GET ATTACKED MULTIPLE TIMES IN SPACE ANYWAY SO THAT CLOAKING SYSTEM CLEARLY WAS USELESS TO WASTE PRECIOUS TIME ON! Where is the urgency in returning the weapon back to the planet they are meant to save? And how did Leda survive in space without a suit during that climactic scene (last I heard, vacuum was still a thing)? *screams in frustration* Another grievance I had was the characters - sure, they are diverse, but there is barely any development between them. Nils (a half-Weode) and Leda - instant friends and days later, Nils is friends with the Roar and his crew as well, though they all have a war between them. He even asks to come along with them as a hostage, because what? He suddenly feels a strong friendship with them or Leda? It is never shown how they become friends; everything just falls into place a few pages later and we are supposed to go along with that. And lets not even start with the instalove between Leda and Roar. Even with their supposed genetic connection, which also becomes a hindrance to them, these two had no chemistry. And speaking of that hindrance, since when is blood being incompatible equals to them not being able to bone? They kiss quite fine - without any energy explosions, so what gives with, um, other kinds of fluids to mingle? Even if they did bump uglies, how would they blood reacting to each other be a problem unless they have s
3.5 out of 5 stars All The Stars Left Behind by Ashley Graham is a YA Sci-Fi story filled with aliens, mystery, adventure and romance. The novel is about Leda Lindgren who has moved to Norway to live with her uncle and grandmother after her father passes away and her mother decides she doesn't want anything to do with her. Born with spina bifida, Leda already has insecurities and now with her mother sending her to her only family in Vardø, Norway, she has a major chip on her shoulder. Luckily, when she moves to Norway, she ends up making friends with Nils and has an instant attraction to her uncle's gorgeous and mysterious employee, Roar. Roar is an Aurelite. An alien from Aurelis sent to Earth with three others to look for the weapon that can save their planet that is under attack by the Woede. He can't afford distractions especially in the form of a human he can't help but be drawn to. When danger arises and Leda is caught in the crosshairs, Roar finally realizes that Leda is the weapon he has been searching for all along. Now he has to protect her and get her to Aurelis before his enemies get to them first. I love alien stories and tv shows like Roswell, Star-Crossed, or Colony. So when I first read the synopsis for All the Stars Left Behind, the idea of an ordinary human girl finding out that she is the weapon an alien race needed to save their planet sounded interesting and caught my attention. As a debut sci-fi YA novel about aliens, spaceships, and out of this world creatures, Ms. Graham's novel hit its marks and with the mix of action and moments of suspense, the story of Leda and Roar moved right along. Where I think All The Stars Left Behind may have fell short, at least for me, is from trying to do too much, in a way. This is especially seen amongst the characters and turning points within the story. Nevertheless, Ms. Graham kept my interest throughout and there were scenes that I enjoyed. Overall, All the Stars Left Behind by Ashley Graham is a good novel that I recommend based on it's potential and its simple enjoyability as a sci-fi romance. (I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book I received for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my open and honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.)
This is a genre (YA/Sci-fi) that I don't read often, but truly enjoy when I do. Unfortunately, All the Stars Left Behind was an exception and a difficult read for me. The story had a great premise and potential, but I struggled with various points in the execution. Throughout the story, I felt like there could have been more details or detailed writing. In the first few chapters, especially, there were whiplash inducing scene changes where I was left feeling lost and confused. Many times I had to re-read the previous paragraph to check if I had missed something vital. The lack of details created choppy transitions in the story and disrupted the entire reading flow. Also, while the book was an unusually slow read for me, the story's time frame was lightning fast. I'm not bothered by the insta-love between the two main characters, but with the pacing, some statements and actions didn't make sense to the time that they occurred. This pacing also made it difficult for me to connect with the characters and the story overall. After the 50% mark the story picked up exponentially. Personally, I didn't care for the direction and how it played out, but the story and flow improved. Since this is clearly my subjective opinion, I was vague with my own details so not to spoil anything for the next reader. (I voluntarily read an advanced copy of All the Stars Left Behind via Entangled Teen/Netgalley. This review was my honest and unbiased opinion)
This one has a very unique heroine, one I really liked, definitely a different kind of YA science fiction book, then what I was expecting but one that I enjoyed. Seems like there is a lot more coming, judging by the ending, and I am looking forward to it.
The premise of this book sounded so incredibly cool that I knew I had to read it. I’ve never read a book that took place in Norway and it was so cool to be able to read the names and places of the country in YA book. I’ve also not read many alien books which made this book even more appealing to me. However, I just could not get on with this book overall. Firstly, the characters in this book are so unique! Disregarding that they are aliens, this book holds a ton of diverse characters so if that is something you love, you will definitely find it in this book. I really liked Leda as a main character. She isn’t like many YA protagonists, not only because she has a disability, but because of her personality. She is an extremely strong yet kindhearted character and those are some of my favorite types to read about. This book also has dual point of views so I loved getting to read from Roar’s perspective as well. I loved that Roar was characterized the way most guys probably feel at 17—awkward and shy—rather than being some bigshot, overly-confident love interest as is typical in YA. It was incredibly refreshing to read. The supporting characters are all diverse and interesting as well. The worldbuilding was fairly well done. I felt some parts were explained well while others weren’t. The aliens and their planet and technology were really neat to learn about and I really loved the way that their technology works through mind control. Shooting through space while reading this book was also a cool aspect of it and I loved getting to picture how their spaceships look. My main issue with this book however was the plot. The plot was incredibly difficult for me to follow at times. I’ve never struggled with reading comprehension, even as a kid, yet I found myself having to reread scenes and dialogue over and over again to try to figure out what was going on. Not only did I struggle with this during the action scenes but even in the backstory of the book. I constantly felt like there was a piece of the puzzle missing that my brain just could not find while reading this. Furthermore, the plot was a bit repetitive for me—I got tired of reading about the same character undergoing surgeries throughout the course of the book and the aliens arguing about what they should do. And I also have absolutely no clue what happened in the ending of the book. I know that it was meant to have some kind of whiplash effect based on how the characters acted but it was so muddy and hard to follow that I am still completely confused about all of it. Some of the mystery air about this book should’ve been done away with in the editing process. With it being a standalone, the confusion I’m sure many readers will experience is not going to do this book any favors or earn it any high stars. *I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
ashley graham's debut, all the stars left behind, introduces us to leda lindgren. she's recently moved to norway to live with her uncle and grandmother after her father died and her mother went awol. she's not all that excited about living in a new place. and meeting new people. especially since she can expect awkward stares and teasing once she explains her medical condition of spina bifida. when she meets roar, it's like time stands still. roar isn't like other boys. he's not from planet earth for one thing. he's been sent to find a weapon for another. and when leda turns out to be the weapon he's looking for all bets are off. it appears that his elders and hers have left a whole lot of information out of their stories. and as drawn as roar and leda are to one another, not just romantically, but genetically, being together could kill them. it could destroy entire species of aliens. as leda and roar race against time, the woede, the different government agencies who want to conduct interrogation and experiments on them, and the traitors in their midst, their connection deepens and grows beyond anything either of them ever expected. leda always imagined that the only thing people could see when they saw her were her crutches. but roar sees beyond that. he sees her beauty and her intelligence and the light that glows within. that light sets him aglow too. so they have battles to fight, a war to win, peace to broker. not a big ask for two teenagers in crazy love with each other and forbidden from consummating it. the book doesn't solve every one of their problems. in fact, one thing i liked about the book is how it didn't take easy shortcuts when it came to fixing things. there are a couple of opportunities where the author could have given leda an easy out as to her disability. even though life isn't like that, this is science fiction. the impossible should be possible. in this case though, it means something that it's not. **all the stars left behind will publish on june 6, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled: teen) in exchange for my honest review.
First off, I have to applaud Ashley Graham for including a heroine, who has a disability, into a Sci-Fi novel. More times than not, disabilities are only included in books where they are the central focus, and so they are usually dramas/tear jerkers. There were times I wasn't sure if it was realistic or not (like guys only showed interest in the main character, Leda, until they saw her crutches), but I've never had a physical disability, so I'm not one to talk. Maybe guys are really that shallow (though, I would like to think that they aren't.) As for the story itself. I liked the premise. I like the idea of a normal, every-day, person secretly harboring the ability to be a weapon strong enough to save an entire planet--and not even knowing it. That is such an awesome idea. Unfortunately, it was better in theory, than in practice. The plot was ok, though the ending was quite confusing for me. What really made this novel hard to read, though, was the relationship between Leda and Roar ( I love his name, by the way). The first time they meet, Roar catches Leda before she falls and he holds her while they stare into each other's eyes--for a ridiculously long time. And it only gets worse from there. There is no build up to this relationship, they are just automatically all over each other, all the time. I get it, she's the weapon and he's genetically made to be drawn to the weapon. But whether or not they are drawn to each other through no fault of their own...it needed to be done differently. And because the story seems to hinge around their relationship and not as much around the 'save the world' premise, it made me feel like everything else fell a part because of it. I really liked the supporting characters, for the most part, and they added a lot to the story. One of my favorites is deaf, so kudos to Ashley for bringing in more diversity, but they are overshadowed by Leda and Roar and lose the effectiveness they could have brought to the story. So, even though I feel like it had potential to be good, I'm going to have to give it 2 out of 5 Stars *Has some sexual innuendos, and some vulgarity*
This story packs a punch with the action and adventure! It just takes a bit to get there. Leda and Roar's insta-love didn't even bother me. This is sci-fi/fantasy after all, anything is possible. The author does a good job writing that you will believe it is real, even if the flow leaves you jostled enough to have to go back and reread to understand what's happened. I found the ending to be predictable and not a surprise at all. Makes me wonder if there will be more to the story though. Overall, a good read that you can get lost in. Thanks to the publisher for offering the story for honest review.
“All the Stars Left Behind” had a really interesting premise but fell a little short while reading. Leda has spina bifida and has to use crutches to get around (this was probably the best part of the book- Leda is a pretty unique heroine). Seemingly due to her disability, her mother has abandoned her. After her father with whom she was very close dies, Leda goes to Norway to live with her extended family. There, she meets Roar, an alien with moving tattoos who works for her uncle. Roar was sent to Earth to find a weapon- he is supposed to have the ability to locate it, but it’s unclear what he’s looking for and where it might be. Roar and Leda are drawn together with a heavy dose of instalove right from the get-go. It turns out what makes them appealing to each other is that Leda is the weapon (not a spoiler since it’s in the book description). Roar’s planet has been under attack from the Woede, another race of aliens, some of whom are on Earth also. The weapon is the only thing that can stop the Woede. Cue the race to save the planet! The plot was fascinating, and I loved the idea. I don’t mind instalove if it’s followed up by some actual getting-to-know-you and care-about-you scenes. In this case, they never came. Their knowledge about the other remains surface deep, and I really couldn’t understand or cheer for their relationship. It’s rare that I say a book moves too fast, but this book moved way too fast. The scenes jump around a lot so you have to go back and reread. I thought I might be missing whole chapters, but it appears that this is just the fragmented style. Another thing I found odd is that Roar and his people were pretty much hanging out on Earth while he “looked” for the weapon- no rush- but then as soon as they find Leda, the race is on- and then, when the weapon is lost, most people suddenly want to just leave it behind- even though this was the whole mission in the first place. There were a few odd gaps in logic like this that I found hard to understand/follow. I really wish this was more fleshed out and we had better ideas about the characters, their motivations, and what was really going on. It almost felt more like an outline than a full novel. There was a lot that was happening- so much so that it may have been better to carry this into a few books rather than be a stand-alone. While the premise was really fascinating, I found the actual novel to be disappointing. That being said, I read the whole book (and several sections multiple times to try to figure out what was happening) so I am a bit conflicted about rating. I’d give it an OK which equals different stars on different sites. Please note that I received an ARC from the publishers through netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Leda Lindgren’s father died two weeks ago, and her mother did not waste any time moving back to Vardø, Norway, where Leda’s parents were born. The Arctic is a long way from New York, and Leda is somewhat distraught, but she soon made a new friend in Nils, her odd neighbour. Her bombastic uncle Arne, a wood artist, is also a welcome presence, as Leda’s mother is cold, aloof, and always absent, and so is Leda’s grandmother. Leda is a great girl, outgoing and smart, but her Spina Bifida has made things awkward for her, as she must use crutches, and some people, even her own mother, find her lacking because of that. On day, Leda meets Uncle Arne’s assistant, Roar Bakke, and boom! He’s hot, nice, and that first contact was out of this world. Literally, it turns out. I don’t read much sci-fi, but ALL THE STARS LEFT BEHIND has an interesting premise, a great title, and the Norwegian setting, so why not! And I’m glad I chose to read it because Ashley Graham is an astounding writer! I got a clear notion of the characters straight away, although there are many secrets to be revealed; the author got everything about Norway just right; the writing is dynamic and vibrant, with a strong impression of movement and colour. There is no mistaking that THE STARS LEFT BEHIND is a Young Adult book, however the teenagers feel like today’s teens, and not as if they spoke or acted as if they had popped out of the 1950s. There is mild swearing, desires of a sexual nature, and some violence as well, especially from the part of a rather spectacular villain. Ms. Graham kept me on my toes from the onset as a humungous plot twist happens very early on, and if there was one thing I did not expect, it was that. I love how Ms. Graham ties in Norse mythology with Roar’s planet, Aurelis; it’s very clever, and the alien technology is futuristic, by our standards, but believable nonetheless. THE STARS LEFT BEHIND would be worth reading if only for Ashley Graham’s truly spectacular writing with its kaleidoscope of colours and emotions of every kind, but also for its very complex and engaging characters, natural and easy dialogues, a gripping plot and oodles of action. I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book. I give 4 ½ stars