Hello, there! Good afternoon and welcome to a blog tour hosted by Bewitching Book Tours! It’s my deepest honor and pleasure to introduce you to Starr Valentine, by Wende Dikec 😀
Genre: Young Adult/Sci-Fi
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing
Release Date: March 10th, 2016
Cover Artist: Najla Qamber (you get a free hug coupon for such a beautiful cover!)
What happens when the beautiful swan becomes the ugly duckling?
Starr Valentine has a perfect life in Middleton, Ohio. She was named captain of the cheer squad, her mother finally allowed her to get highlights, and the cutest boy in school asked her to homecoming. But everything comes crashing down when she finds out her parents are actually monarchs in exile from a mysterious planet called Vega. Starr doesn’t want to leave, but loves the idea of being a princess, and decides moving to an alien world might not be so bad. When she gets there, however, she discovers that something is terribly wrong.
Starr has always been the winner of the family, but now everyone is fawning over her chubby older sister, Astra. And everyone, even a handsome and annoying young duke named Julian, seems to hate her. That is when she realizes the awful truth. Astra is now the pretty one. Astra has all the friends. Astra gets all of the attention. And Starr Valentine, voted Miss Perfect, is now the ugly duckling. Her biggest fear is…will she be able to turn back into a swan, or is she doomed to be a loser forever?
You can find Starr Valentine in ebook format 🙂
We all met in the captain’s lounge just after the transport ship had safely landed. My father wore some sort of military uniform, and he was completely dashing, as always.
“Girls, you both look lovely.”
I smiled up at him. “So do you, Daddy,” I said, and he patted my cheek.
My mom fluttered up to us in a cacophony of lime green lace and feathers. A large gold medallion was pinned to her breast and she had on the crown she’d worn for the nightly news. She reached for our hands, tears swimming in her eyes.
“I have something for you,” she said, her voice trembling. Captain Augustus stood behind her, looking just as handsome as my father. He held open a wooden box. Inside were two small, yet perfect, tiaras.
I gasped. “Diamonds.”
“These are not your true crowns,” my mother explained. “Those went missing during the confusion when we were trying to escape. These are just a substitute until we can find something better.”
I couldn’t imagine something better. The tiaras seemed perfect. I leaned over slightly so my mom could slip it onto my head, glad I’d decided to wear my hair up in a French twist. The tiara was beautiful. I admired myself for a few minutes in the mirror before looking at Astra. She and my mother stood side by side, their hair a riot of dark curls, their dresses positively painful to the eyes, and I sighed. I really hoped they didn’t humiliate themselves too much at the ceremony. They looked like clowns from a circus performance.
My father, of course, didn’t seem to notice. He bowed and kissed my mother’s hand gallantly before linking it through his arm and leading her out the door. I could tell it was a very emotional moment for both of them. They were returning to the home they loved after being exiled for so many years. Even I could feel my throat tightening up.
Astra walked up and took my arm. “Are you ready?” she asked, and I nodded. It was time to face the music, or the Vegonians, as the case may be.
We stepped out into a warm, sultry evening on Vega. Lights had been set up all around the landing bay, and we followed my parents to an elevated platform near the ship. People waited as far as the eye could see, and as soon as my parents stepped up to the podium, the crowd roared.
I stood arm in arm with Astra, taking in the moment. The city of Celesta glittered in the light of the fading sun, just beyond the crowd of people assembled before us. It sparkled like it was made of glass. I could see what must have been the royal palace on one side of the city on top of a small hill, and it made me think of Aladdin’s castle, all gilt and white marble. I decided I could definitely get used to living there.
As I stared at the people in front of me, I started to notice something odd. The women here were not at all what I’d expected. Supposedly the most beautiful women in the universe, they all looked a lot like my mother and sister, with short, oddly shaped bodies and large behinds. They also dressed just like my mother and sister, in a riot of colors and patterns.
A quick assessment told me that I was the only pretty girl around, other than Maya, and definitely the best dressed. Maya had been forced by her parents to wear some sort of Vegonian monstrosity made out of a hot pink iridescent fabric. Torture. I, on the other hand, felt like an elegant swan dumped into the middle of a bunch of plump, gaudy, peacocks.
I heaved a sigh of relief. I’d been a little teeny tiny bit worried when I’d heard about how beautiful Vegonian women were. It was good to realize those rumors had been pure exaggeration. No one in this crowd could hold a candle to me.
Another quick look around told me that there wasn’t a single bad looking guy here. I was completely devoted to Adrian, of course, but I couldn’t help but admire and appreciate male beauty when I saw it. The boys were all works of art. It was as if I’d been dropped into a huge candy shop full of the most delicious boys I’d ever seen, and knew I could have my pick. Of course I would never cheat on Adrian, but it felt like a candy shop here, nonetheless.
My joy proved short-lived. None of the boys even looked at me. At first I thought that several of them stared at me, which made me happy, but soon realized it wasn’t me they stared at. They had their eyes locked on Astra with the same sort of enraptured expressions boys usually reserved for me.
A cold wave of shock crawled over my entire body. Boys never looked at Astra like that, especially when I stood right next to her. Something was very wrong here.
I smoothed my hair, which was perfect and didn’t need smoothing. I stuck out my chest and turned my body so they could see my best angle, but none of them even noticed me. Astra had suddenly become the center of attention.
My mother gave a very lovely and heartfelt speech, which I barely paid attention to. The crowd roared and screamed her name, but I hardly even heard it. People waved and cheered with tears streaming down their faces, but I felt numb to everything.
When we were introduced to various dignitaries, everyone said “lovely,” and “a vision,” when they met Astra. When they saw me, they looked a bit confused and then mumbled something boring like “nice to meet you.” Something very strange was going on, and I had to figure it out.
I searched the crowd for Adrian, but he was nowhere to be seen. One sexy, appreciative look from him might have been enough to restore some semblance of balance and order to my universe. But he wasn’t around and I’d been cast adrift in a sea of beautiful boys to whom I was invisible.
“Art thou okay, Princess Starr?” asked Captain Augustus. “Thou art pale.”
I blinked as I digested his words. The Vegonians spoke English, but a weird form of archaic Elizabethan English mixed with modern slang. The only people who had spoken like that on the transport ship were the captain and the crew. All of the Vegonians who been on Earth for the last fifteen years spoke standard, modern English, although I’d heard a few “thou’s” and “thee’s” begin to slip into the language of the older passengers, including my own parents.
“I’m fine. Thank you.”
As the captain bowed and turned away, I realized I wasn’t fine at all. I stared around at the sea of happy, glowing, faces, including those of my parents and my sister, and understood that suddenly, and without any explanation, I had become the outsider.
“Thou art in hell, Starr Valentine,” I murmured to myself.
AND GUESS WHAT?! Wende herself is here with us today! 😀
Thanks so much for agreeing to be here today, Wende! It’s a pleasure ❤ I asked Wende to tell us five fun facts about her book Starr Valentine and it’s writing process and she indulged me! Let’s see what she has to say about the matter? 😀
My young adult book Starr Valentine is the story of a beautiful, popular cheerleader who finds out her parents are aliens and she has to return to her home planet. When she gets there, she realizes the standard of beauty if very different, and she isn’t pretty anymore. Not good news for the vain and slightly vapid Starr.
Five Fun Facts about Starr Valentine:
1) The book was inspired by a chance encounter near a tennis court.
Tennis season had just started for the boys’ team, and I was standing around, waiting for my son’s practice to end. I noticed a woman standing nearby with two girls by her side. I didn’t know her, but she caught my attention because she was remarkable. She had on brightly colored clothing in several contrasting patterns, a head full of curly hair divided into what looked like random ponytails, and a self-confidence that exuded itself in her booming voice and glowing, happy face.
Next to her stood a young girl who looked just like her, the same colorful clothing, wild hair, and extremely curvy shape. She was smiling, just like her mother, the spring sunshine kissing her face as she lifted it to the sky. They both looked so happy, so completely at ease.
And then I noticed the other member of their little trio, a girl shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot as she eased away from the other two. I could feel her embarrassment, a palpable thing, as if she wanted to physically separate herself from them. She had on a very plain navy blue skirt and a white t-shirt. A very pretty girl, she looked extremely…normal next to the other two.
And then I heard the whisper of a story start to swirl around inside my brain. What if?
What if I was looking at a family? What if a mother had two daughters, one who looked just like her and one who was very different? What if the “different” daughter was beautiful and popular, and felt ashamed of her mother and her older sister?
What if? I really need those words in a tattoo.
2) Starr Valentine was originally written as a short story called “So Pretty” that won third prize in Writers’ Journal Magazine’s annual science fiction contest.
I couldn’t get the image of the woman at the tennis courts out of my head. When I saw an advertisement for the Writers’ Journal contest, the “what if” started again. I thought, what if they are aliens? What if the way the mother looked is considered to be the epitome of beauty on that world? What if the girl who is pretty on earth, suddenly isn’t beautiful anymore?
3) My son helped make Starr into a cheerleader.
I have three boys, and while I was writing Starr, my oldest son was the school’s mascot. That meant he spent a lot of time with the cheerleading squad – on the bus, at football games, and at practices. He would come home and share some of their discussions with me, and that led to the creation of several characters in the book. Having girls is a very different experience from having boys, and I don’t think I realized how different until I started writing Starr.
4) I wrote Starr Valentine in ten weeks.
I already had the basis for the plot in my short story, but the rest of the book nearly flew onto the page. It was such fun to write, and sometimes I felt like I couldn’t type fast enough to keep up with the story that was taking place in my head.
5) I learned about different standards of beauty because I lived it.
I studied Japanese and International Economics in college, and spent six year living abroad. I learned that different cultures can have very different ideas about beauty. In China, for example, tiny feet are treasured, but have you ever seen what a bound foot actually looks like? It’s terrible. And painful.
Interestingly enough, the reaction you probably had to the photo of the bound feet is very similar to the reaction I had from Japanese students when they saw my pierced ears. They often asked me to take my earrings out, and shivered in disgust when they saw the hole in my ear lobe. “How could you do that to yourself?”
Beauty. Sometimes it isn’t something that can be translated across cultures. Or, in the case of Starr Valentine, across galaxies.
I’m officially shocked, haha! But Wende has a very valid point: beauty is nothing but a standart and that’s why it is so important for us to not care about other people’s opinion about our own looks 🙂 I wish 15-year-old-me had known this, haha!
Once again, thanks so much for being here today, Wende!! I can’t wait to read Starr Valentine! *–*
Wende Dikec has spent her life traveling the world, and collecting stories wherever she visited. She writes in several romance genres, and her books are quirky, light, and fun. Fluent in several languages and married to a man from Istanbul, Wende is a trekkie, a book hoarder, master of the Nespresso machine, and mother of three boys. A puppy named Capone is the most recent addition to her family, and she blogs about him as a way of maintaining what little sanity she has left.
One lucky winner will get a $25 Amazon Gift Card!
All you have to do to participate on this giveaway is to subscribe to Wende’s newsletter here. The winner will be announced on June 1st 😀 Good luck!
That’s it, thanks so much again to Wende for being on my post, thank you for reading this post and thanks to Bewitching Book Tours for my spot on this marvelous tour! 😀