Monday, October 31, 2016

#Review: The Fourth Piece (Order's Last Play) by E. Ardell | #Giveaway @E_Ardell @ChapterxChapter

The Fourth Piece 
(Order's Last Play #1)
by E. Ardell
Publication Date: July 18, 2016
Publisher:  48fourteen

Admitting what you are will end everything you know. Embracing who you are will start a war...

Life is great when you’re good-looking and popular…so long as no one knows you’re a vulatto. Being half-alien gets you labeled “loser” quicker than being a full vader. So it’s a good thing Devon, Lyle, and Lawrence can easily pass for human—until the night of the party. Nothing kills a good time faster than three brothers sharing a psychic vision of a fourth brother who’s off-world and going to die unless they do something. But when your brother’s emergency happens off-planet, calling 9-1-1 really isn’t an option.

In their attempt to save a brother they barely remember, Devon, Lyle and Lawrence expose themselves to mortal danger and inherit a destiny that killed the last four guys cursed with it. In 2022, there are humans and aliens, heroes and monsters, choices and prophecies—and four brothers with the power to choose what’s left when the gods decide they’re through playing games.

Book I in the Order's Last Play series

DISCLAIMER: I received an e-ARC of this book as part of this tour. The only spoilers contained in this review is the excerpt from Chapter Six, below. Follow the rest of the tour by clicking HERE or the logo at the bottom of this post!

Right off the bat, I enjoyed the four brothers/friends. All four boys are distinctly unique. This book has ever bit of adventure it promises and more. I love alternating perspectives in a book. Each character POV brings a different experience to the story. The relationship between brothers, and a brother they don't remember, is very humorous to an extent, and heartfelt as well.

If I were to equate this book to another, I honestly do not think that I can. I feel that each book I read deserves a chance to make an impression in the book community without hiding in the shadow of another book. This is book deserves its own spotlight.

My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars.
To be brutally honest, I didn't think I would get to finish this book in time to post today. I was sick all of last week and my head just couldn't bear the reading. But I did it! So glad that I did too. A great book. Unique plot. Gotta say that I am totally on board with the aliens. Also, its hard for female authors to accomplish male POVs. I think E. executed this really well and I am going to patiently await the next book.

About the Author
E. Ardell spent her childhood in Houston, Texas, obsessed with anything science fiction, fantastic, paranormal or just plain weird. She loves to write stories that feature young people with extraordinary talents thrown into strange and dangerous situations. She took her obsession to the next level, earning a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Southern Maine where she specialized in young adult genre fiction. She’s a big kid at heart and loves her job as a teen librarian at Monterey Public Library in Monterey, California, where she voluntarily shuts herself in rooms with hungry hordes of teenagers and runs crazy after-school programs for them. When she’s not working, she’s reading, writing, running writers critique groups, trying to keep up with a blog, and even writing fan fiction as her guilty pleasure.

Chapter Six
THE NEIGHBORHOOD’S QUIET AT SIX in the morning. The only people out are joggers and folks walking their dogs. I nod to them as they pass by panting and sweating, earbuds secure. I love early morning people; they don’t talk much. We all have a purpose: workout. We got no time for keeping up appearances. Mrs. Garner, a lady who’s always in pumps and nylons at the damn grocery store, runs in a ratty old sweat suit. Mr. Taylor, three-piece Armani man, runs in biker shorts and a tank. I love being alone and not having to slow down to keep pace with teammates. 

I’m miles from my house, running through the suburban maze known as the Better Side of Town. Houston’s so big there’s no telling how many suburbs are out there claiming to be H-Town’s ‘Best Part.’ One day, the Greater Houston Area is gonna take up half the state.
Every five minutes some new little town gets annexed. Just last month, the city reigned in another million dollar neighborhood—though a lot of people protested because it’s full of aliens. I still remember the insanity when aliens first started buying houses in the area. All the humans moved out, saying the Visitors were bringing down the property value. But, you know, one thing I can say about Visitors is that they keep stuff clean. Since the regulars moved out, that whole place friggin’ sparkles. I like running by it every now and again. My sneakers pound the pavement, pat, pat, pat. I love that sound more than listening to my iPlay. The sports watch on my wrist tells me I’ve gone ten miles in
forty-nine minutes. My skin’s dry and I’m not breathing hard; my heart beats slow and steady.  

The sun’s not up until seven, so the sky’s dark and streetlights are still on. A few cars are in the street, and the red glow from their taillights wash over my tan skin. The woman staring at me through a bay window makes me wonder what I look like bathed in red light.

I slow my pace, waving at the woman as she stands behind open blinds, curtains drawn, holding a mug and watching. A little smirk crosses her lips and pride flushes through me. I know that smirk. I grin and make a show of rolling my T-shirt up over my abs and fanning myself with it. I pass her window, but I know that cougar’s probably ogling my ass. A lot of PTA moms do.

I run through the subdivision’s gate. The entry is a stone playhouse made to look like a miniature version of the houses in the neighborhood. It’s about six feet tall. I look around—no cars, no people—and leap onto the roof of the thing, breathing in deep. Mornings around here smell like pinecones and flowers from the manicured trees and gardens winding around the brick fences that surround various subdivisions. The gardens stop an
inch before the sign announcing the city limits, and wild grass and weeds take over.

I jump off the roof. My feet hit the grass with a thump and I run towards the edge of the city. I jog into the parking lot of a shopping strip with a grocery store, pawn shop, Chinese restaurant, and a Mom and Pop donut place. The lights are on inside Silva’s Donuts. Through the glass door and big windows, I see Monica sitting on a stool behind the counter, head tilted up, probably watching the TV mounted on the far wall.

The store’s empty aside from Monica, and the only vehicle in the lot is her Kawasaki. I’m completely into college chicks with motorcycles; too bad she treats me like jailbait. I’m seventeen, the age of consent woman, come on. The gravel of the parking lot is crispy under my shoes as I sprint toward Silva’s. A bell over the door rings as I let myself into the store and a waft of hot sugar and roasting coffee beans makes my stomach growl.

Monica barely glances at me, but gives me the “hello” nod. Silva’s isn’t fancy, but it’s clean. The walls are Peep yellow and the tables are small and round with white tablecloths. A glass case up front displays donuts, kolaches, and cheese danishes. I make my way to the bar and hop up on a stool.

Planting my elbows on the bar’s surface, I grin at Monica. “Hey.”

“Hn.” She slips off her stool and goes to the donut display, pulling out two sausage and cheese kolaches and dropping them on a paper plate in front of me. After a beat, a bottle of chocolate milk appears too. “There’s your breakfast, Champ. How far did you run today?”

I glance at the pedometer. “Fifteen miles.”

“You’re slacking,” Monica says. Her voice is kinda deep for a girl’s, but it’s nice. Not as sexy as Keelie’s, but still hot. “How’d your party go?”

I bite into a kolache. “It was okay,” I mumble, mouth full.

“Must not have gone well if that’s all you got to say,” Monica says, passing me a napkin.

She sits back down on her stool and I stare at her. She’s in a tight T-shirt that makes her boobs pop and low-rise jeans that fit her like a second skin. She’s probably got on cowboy boots too. Monica doesn’t care how hot it is; she’s always got on jeans and boots, always
ready to ride.

I set the napkin on the counter and lick sticky cheese off my lips, thinking about what I want to say to Monica about the party. Hmm. So, it’s like this, Monica. The party was going great until I had a seizure and ripped apart a chair. Oh, and I can’t leave out the part where Lawrie almost drowned.

I grind my teeth. I almost killed that idiot when he wasn’t dead. I thought for sure when I got down there and saw him stretched out on the ground that he was a goner. But then he sat up and clung to Lyle, and the both of them looked at me like I was as useless as the rest of the losers standing around watching. And from that spazz look in Lyle’s eyes, I know he and Lawrie were probably doing that mind-to-mind telepathy crap.

I didn’t ask Lyle about it because I was afraid I’d hit him, but if he used his powers to send me that vision, I would have—God, I don’t know. We aren’t close like we used to be when we were kids, but he’s still my twin.

“Devon? Devon?” Monica waves her hand in my face.

“Huh?” I blink and stare at her.

She’s got great eyes, so brown they look black with thick lashes around them. She doesn’t wear all that makeup high school girls do and she keeps her black hair long and straight with red streaks dyed under the bottom.

“Your party?” Monica presses. She pulls the top off my chocolate milk and takes a swig.

“Oh, had to break it up. Somebody called the police,” I say, reaching out to take my chocolate milk back. I make sure I brush her wrist before snatching the bottle. I chug milk, then wipe my mouth with the back of my hand.

“You’re lying,” Monica says and takes my milk back when I set it on the table. “Your mouth does this thing when you lie. It kinda twitches at the corner, like you’re trying not to smirk.”

“What?” I scowl. “You’re making that up!”

“No, I’m not.” Monica grins. Her fingers head for my mouth and I freeze as a strawberry jelly scented index finger traces the right corner of my mouth. “Here. You twitch.”

I’m ready to suck that finger, but she’d probably throw the rest of the chocolate milk in my face. God, does she want me or not? I swear she’s flirting with me.

“You’re such a baby,” she says with a laugh and pulls her hand away.

“All right. So, I’m lying. I broke up my own party because my little bro’s an idiot and I wasn’t in the mood to deal with too many people afterward.” I touch the tip of my tongue to where her finger had been. Tastes like strawberries.

“Let me guess, you’re talking about the nutcase,” Monica says, shaking her head. “You know, there’s medication he can take for that.”

“My parents made him go to a behavioral therapist. Something she said must’ve really pissed Dad off, because he told her where to stick it.”

“Mm...spouses telling people where to stick it isn’t good for the public image,” Monica says. “I’ve seen your mom’s campaign posters up in some front lawns. She’s hot. She’s got my vote.”

I snort. I’m used to people saying my mom’s hot. All my teammates call her a MILF. Nasty.

“I hope she loses.” I don’t want any extra attention, especially not after last night.

Uneasiness seeps into my flesh. From the corners of my eyes, I see the green glow from that rock and I almost feel the warm water on my skin as I sink into a pool. I shake my head and reach for the milk at the same time Monica does. My clumsy hand hits the bottle and she catches it before it spills.

“Whoa, careful,” Monica says and tilts her head. “You look sick.”

“M’fine,” I mumble. “How are summer classes?”

“You wanna talk about school?” Monica drinks more milk and starts eating what’s left of my kolaches, eyes still on my face. I like when girls look at me, but Monica’s doing a laser beam thing. In a minute, I’m gonna get a complete psychoanalysis. “Well, if you must know, I didn’t go to class yesterday,” Monica says. She finishes off the kolache and bends over to open a cabinet under the counter. Her T-shirt rides up and I get a good view of the panda tattoo on the small of her back. After a minute, she comes up with a Mac Notebook. “Move your food.”

I push the plate away and she puts her laptop down.

“So, I skipped class to go to a Stop the Hate Texas meeting. You seen this? Happened yesterday.” Monica clicks a few buttons and YouTube Underground loads up.

I sit back and watch a bunch of assholes beat the snot out of an alien kid. Poor guy doesn’t stand a chance. Some of the jerks hold him while the others punch him. Then one pulls out a knife.

“Jesus.” I close the laptop.

Anger and fear pulse in my chest. I can’t stand watching helpless people get picked on. Nobody tried to help the kid, and he didn’t even try to fight. But at the same time, what if he did try to fight? What if he had some kind of power? All he’d do is make people freak
out because he’d prove aliens are dangerous to humans.

Things would get worse. I mean, that guy...he could be me, or Lyle. If word got out we have power, it’d be awful. Toilet paper in the yard, broken windows, threats, might even get chased out of our neighborhood into the annex all the aliens live in. School would be a nightmare. We had one Visitor kid come to our junior high once. She got locked in the janitor’s closet on her first day, had her clothes stolen out of the girls’ locker room the next. She transferred on the third day.

“You know, Stop the Hate meets at seven tonight at the Student Center on campus,” Monica says. “You wanna come with me? It’s cool. We just talk about ways we can make things better, get people to see Visitors are all right. It’s been almost five years since they set up embassies. And twenty to thirty years ago, before people knew what was going on, we had folks settling and mixing. Who knows who’s mixed with what now, right?”

Monica’s looking at me with those laser beams again and my flesh twitches. I want to meet her outside of her job at a place where talking to me isn’t just good customer service. And hell, she wants to take me to one of her college things like I’m adult enough to hang out with her and her crowd. I’m in, right? Wrong. I can’t go to a meeting about Visitor and vulatto rights. U of H is a big commuter school. I know too many people who go there.

“Well, you wanna come with me to the meeting or not?” Monica taps the counter with her short nails. She’s got on red polish with black tips.

“Uh.” What do I say? I can’t tell her something lame, but she must see the need to lie on my face, because her laser beams shut off and her expression closes up.

She picks up her laptop and narrows her eyes at me. “Really, Devon? You’re one of those guys? I knew you were shallow, but I thought you were growing up. Guess that’s what I get for taking a high school kid seriously.”

Taking me seriously? She.... “What?”

Monica leans forward, putting her face in my space. I can almost taste the chocolate milk on her breath. “I talk to you because you’re different, Devon,” she says. “I pay attention to people. I want to know more people like me. We have similar backgrounds. Your parents do well for themselves. But way back when, before they got all high and mighty, one of them had themselves a little fun with a Visiting stranger and here we are. Our parents tell us ‘be good and hide it,’ but I’m too old for that now. Not with the world like this.”

My eyes are wide, drinking in this beautiful woman who’s telling me, “Are you a...?”

“Vulatto?” Monica sneers, not pulling away from me. “Would it matter?”

I swallow. She’s perfect. There’s nothing inhuman about her, but there’s nothing inhuman about the way I look either. “And you think I’m one too? Why?”

“I’ve seen you at your peak. Normal kids don’t run twenty miles in an hour. You don’t pay attention when you’re really into what you’re doing.”

I gape. If she’s been watching me and noticed that…I think I’m gonna puke right here on the floor. I swallow a few times.

“Relax,” she says, finally sitting back and I can breathe again. “You live in the right place to go unnoticed. People in this part of town have their heads stuck so far up their own asses they don’t see anything.” She touches my wrist, putting her fingers against my throbbing pulse. “Your heart’s gonna explode. What are you so scared of?”

“I don’t know if I’m a vulatto,” I blurt out and want to clamp my hand over my mouth. Why the hell did I say that to her?

“How do you not know if you’re half alien?” Monica quirks a brow at me.

“I’m missing a parent,” I say, “and I’m not gonna assume he’s anything weird until—”

“Weird? Is that what you call it?” Monica asks.

“Listen, my parents were both born here, but my mom’s dad, he wasn’t. Grandpa’s from one of those planets where everybody can make themselves look human, so it was easy for him to hide. But he got tired of hiding and left. I only just now started talking to him. My mom didn’t want me to. He’s a cool guy, Dev, not weird at all. I wanna go out and meet him. He says he’ll pay.”

I feel like I swallowed a load of wet bath towels. My stomach’s full of damp polyester. If I burp, fluff’ll come out. I sit like a stuffed penguin, waddling from side to side on my stool, staring at Monica Trevino, a vulatto. “You want people to throw trash at you and call you names?” I ask.

“I’m ready to be who I am,” Monica says. “I don’t care who knows it. Dev, Stop the Hate is awesome. There are more people like us in it, Earthborns, and there are a few Visitors, and regular humans. We just talk. And God, Dev, you need to hear Visitors talk about their lives off Earth.”

I look over my shoulder. The shop bell hasn’t rung, so I know nobody’s here besides us, but still. You can’t talk about this kinda stuff in public. When I look back at Monica, she’s watching me and tapping her fingers again.

“You’re not ready,” she finally says. Disappointment flickers in her gaze.

Dammit, how did I let this go bad? Why does this have to be the reason she’s interested in me? I open my mouth. “I can’t. I’m not even sure, and I....”

I just want to be normal. Normal’s easy and safe. Not being normal gets you hurt. Why put yourself out there when you don’t have to? Images of Lyle come into my head. Him answering my questions before I asked them. Him breaking dishes without touching them, because I pissed him off when I told him I didn’t want to hear any more about his psychic junk. Lyle and Lawrie, last night, doing that mind-to-mind crap. They can embrace that
alien stuff, not me.

“Maybe some other time.” I slide off the bar stool. My muscles itch to move again. I think I’ll take the long way home.

“Yeah, sure,” Monica says.

I know she’s watching me walk to the door; I feel those lasers.

“Hey, Dev?”

I turn.

“You have a good heart. You’re gonna be somebody one day, I know you are. You just gotta break that high school mentality you got going on. The adult world is a lot different, and man, you got people who’ll help you if you come out.”

Come out? Admitting you’re a vulatto is like coming out of the closet? Well, people live their whole lives in the closet and they’re fine, happy, because life is cake. I like cake.

“Yeah. Sure,” I echo her earlier tone. “See ya around.”

I push through the glass door and sprint through the parking lot. I can’t get away from Monica fast enough. I should stick to high school girls.

But I really like her.


  1. Thank you so much for your fabulous review, Haddie! I'm sorry to hear you weren't feeling well, but still chose to read my book anyway. Hope you're feeling better now! Take care! --E. Ardell

    1. My pleasure! It actually helped me get back into the swing because I was starting to fall behind everywhere in life. Thank you!