Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Daring Darleen, Queen of the Screen

Nesbet, Anne. Daring Darleen, Queen of the Screen
April 14th 2020 by Candlewick Press
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Darleen comes from a long line of entertainers; her father and his siblings are all part of Matchless Studios, a silent film concern trying to stay in business in 1914. Darleen has gone from being "darling" as a child film star to being "daring" in her tween years, and is the star of a serial in which she is a princess trying to find her father. In order to drum up more interest, and perhaps make more money, her aunt comes up with a great idea: film Darleen being kidnapped at the opening of a new theater, so fans can read about the "real life" episode in the paper. On the night of the event, Darleen is ready, but ends up in the wrong car... with the subject of an actual kidnapping. Victorine Berryman is the orphan heiress of a railroad fortune. Her only relatives, the Brownstones, are cruel to her, so once she and Darleen escape, she is loathe to turn herself in. Both kidnappings seem to be tied together through one particularly unpleasant actor, and the girls try to figure out the mystery. Along the way, they get involved in lots of escapades, including going up in a hot air balloon. They also meet Madame Blanche, the owner of rival Solax studios, who helps the girls figure out the problem with Victorine's inheritance, and encourages them to continue their work in film.
Strengths: The early 1900s are ripe for all manner of interesting historical fiction, and there's very little that I've come across. The early days of motion pictures is a great place to start! The alliance of the two girls from different backgrounds is charming, and I enjoyed Victorine's plight as the "poor little rich girl". The fact that Darleen dangles over cliffs and has adventures makes it even better.
Weaknesses: This could have been about 100 pages shorter if some of the plot elements had been simplified, and would have made for a more exiting story.
What I really think: I will purchase this because I love the era and the topic, but I'm not sure how well it will circulate. Readers who picked up Tubb's Selling Hope (2011), Cheaney's I Don't Know How the Story Ends,(2015)or Fleming'ss Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen (2018) will find this another fascinating foray into early films.

Pavlou, Stel. The Betrayer (Daniel Coldstar #1)
November 12th 2019 by HarperCollins
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

After the evens in The Relic War, Daniel, Jasper the penguin anatom, and his friends are back. On Oota Mheen, Daniel has found a wrecked ship named the Coldstar, and wonders what its connection is to him, since he doesn't know who his parents are. Unfortunately, the Tarafands invade, forcing Daniel to flee with Ionica. The two find a number of children on the planet that must be evacuated, and narrowly manage to get them to safety. Alioth is not happy that the Truth Seekers were out and about without permission. They return to the Seventh Summit and go back to classes, but Daniel soon receives a mysterious message that claims knowledge of the Coldstar and his parents. He is instructed to meet on the planet Juba, which happens to be Ionica's home. She hasn't been back for a long time due to a family tragedy, but agrees to accompany him back. It is the festival of Luminara, which remembers the destruction of Earth and celebrates peace, but it's anything but peaceful once they arrive. Ionica's father, Dimas Lux, claims that Daniel knew Ionica's sister when he was a Sinja slave in the mines, and Daniel has vague memories of this. Many of the parents in Ionica's world have lot their children to the Sinja and will do anything to get them back, even if it destoys Juba. Will Daniel be able to help them retrieve the children and save the planet?

Daniel and Ionica's role as Truth Keepers comes into play here, although we don't hear as much from Rann, Fix or Blink. There are lots of good science fiction details with clothing, space ships, technology, and human settlements to delight fans of books like Swiedler's In the Red, Van Eekhout's Cog, and Lander's Blastaway.

The plight of the children stolen by the Sinja and enslaved in the mines continues, and Daniel's desire to find out more about his life is understandable, especially when he is confronted with evidence by Dimas Lux. The continuing threat for them, as well as the constand battles with the Tarafand, keep this book moving along despite these more personal quests.

For some reason, this reminded me of the cantina scene in the first Star Wars series; there seemed to be a lot of different looking characters from different backgrounds, and there was always an air of something just about to happen. Science fiction fans who want lots of intricate details will enjoy this next installment in Daniel's quest to find his past.

Maybe it's the style of cover, but this is the sort of science fiction/fantasy that I often get for free, add to the collection, and no one ever checks out. I think I'll pass this on to a school that has the first book instead of buying it myself.

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