Fast Paced, Romantic and Full of Life | Blog Tour, Review, Excerpt + Q&A: The Last Hope by Krista & Becca Ritchie

5:30 AM

If you guys thought I lost my mind last year doing the blog tour for The Raging Ones, you should see me now. TODAY'S THE DAY: my tour stop for The Last Hope. I can't believe this duology is over. Special thank-yous to Wednesday Books for inviting me to be a tour host and Krista and Becca Ritchie for answering a few questions!

About The Last Hope

A stunning conclusion to the sci-fi romance duology by writing duo Krista & Becca Ritchie, The Last Hope is filled with twists and turns you'll never see coming.

Sacrifice all you have to survive. 

Imprisoned for weeks on an enemy starcraft, Franny, Court, and Mykal have sat with an unfathomable revelation. But as they fight to stay alive, escaping prison means trusting a young mysterious stranger. He knows everything about their lost histories, and when answers aren’t given freely, the bonded trio are forced to join a mission. One that will determine the fate of humanity.

Legend says, a baby—the first of her species—has the power to cloak and teleport planets. Tasked with retrieving the infant, Court fears the baby is just a myth, and if they fail, they’ll never find the truth about their origins.

As Court and Mykal grow closer, their linked bond becomes harder to hide, and dynamics change when Franny begins to fall for someone new. Vulnerable and with no choice, the hunt for the baby sends the trio on a dangerous path to Saltare-1: a water world where their enemies can’t die and survival comes at a high cost.


Q & A:

Q:  In the year since The Raging Ones was first published, do you feel you've told the story you set out to tell? How has it changed? How did you change, as writers?

A: Really after finishing THE LAST HOPE—the sequel and conclusion in this duology—we’ve felt a sense of fulfillment that’s indescribable. These two books were a childhood dream for us, and knowing they exist and that we poured every ounce of our hearts in them is simply surreal for us. We feel beyond satisfied knowing we’ve accomplished our original goal: to showcase this strange world with three soul-deep connected characters who can feel each other’s emotions—and to leave everything we have inside those pages. And we feel like we did. We’ve definitely grown so much as writers that the book we envisioned in college wouldn’t be nearly as good if we had written it back then. We like to think our craft is a little stronger now, but we know we always have more to learn and more to grow.

Q: From where we started in The Raging Ones, to where we're about to end in The Last Hope, what do you hope to have accomplished with these characters?

A: We hope that at least one of these characters speak to someone. Even though they belong on a world not like our own, we hope readers can see themselves in them or relate to them and their journeys in some way.

Q: One of the things that is most striking about your writing is the amount of character growth we get to witness. You're both fantastic at developing stories that are very character driven. What do you feel is most difficult when crafting such characters? Do you ever feel like it's a struggle to bring them to life?

A: Making characters multi-dimensional always takes us some time to craft. It tends to be the biggest aspect of our writing process, and we’d say that initial “getting to know you” part with our own characters is the hardest. We go on a little bit of a journey with them as we dive deeper and deeper into who they are, what makes them tic, their habits and their fears—all of these layers play into how they’ll react to action and other people. Some characters can be a little trickier than others to discover, but if that happens, we have lots of brainstorming sessions where we try to talk about the character in depth with each other. 

The Last Hope by Krista and Becca Ritchie 
Rating: ★★★★★
As always, a copy of this book was provided by the publisher or author in exchange for participating in the blog tour/my honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.  

"It's time to see the stars." 

If you loved The Raging Ones, The Last Hope, the dazzling conclusion to this sci-fi duology is sure to be your next big obsession. It has the makings of an all-consuming read and left me feeling dizzy with emotion. As for the endgame? The Last Hope is everything I wanted, and didn't know I wanted, to conclude this story. Impossible to put down.

And I already miss these characters and these worlds so, so much.

Completely engrossing and deeply enthralling, The Last Hope is just as as fantastic as its predecessor. If not more. The Last Hope takes you on an adventure of epic proportions--bending science fiction and romance with ease, and playing on the energy of found families/friendships. Every page of the novel is sparking with energy so high, your heartbeat feels it for days.

Much like with The Raging Ones, there is so much to be seen and heard within this high-stakes space adventure. All the worldbuilding you wanted within the first installment is delivered and expanded upon in a way that is breathtaking and incredibly vivid. We see the inclusion of new characters, new worlds, and old/familiar faces, and the way that everything ties together is completely thrilling and addictive.

While The Last Hope it is ultimately filled with love of all kinds, its strongest source of it remains in the connected trio. Although many other characters come into the picture, it is in these three that we find the center of the universe. If you're familiar with Krista and Becca Ritchie's other works, you know the feelings that come with their characters--The Last Hope is no exception: these characters live within these pages and you can't help but to love them, flaws and all.

I always see myself in the characters that Krista and Becca Ritchie create--because they always are lively and in full colours. You connect with them because they are parts of you, of your friends, your family and The Last Hope was no different. Again, readers have someone to truly connect with in characters like these, and that makes me so very happy. 

The ending will have you packed with every emotion imaginable. I may be an emotional wreck after certain scenes came and went, but it's the kind of feeling that is worth it and I feel as though this little duology has shown me the stars. And that's its most beautiful trait. So, dear readers, remember to live your lives hard and fast... and full.

Or something like that.
Excerpt 

You’ve escaped one prison before, so you’ll be escaping another in no time.” Mykal spoke those optimistic words thirty-one days ago, but I didn’t have the heart to remind him that it took me five years to flee Vorkter Prison.

Now that we’re trapped aboard an enemy starcraft and only fed scraps every three days, we don’t have five years to spare.

Our bodies heave in miserable hunger and pain, and I’m in far worse shape.

With time running out, I refuse to lie on the only cot, our only comfort, and I sit on the hard floor.

Slumping against the firm wall, my spine aches, and a sharp pang in my hip radiates like hot agony throughout my rigid bones. I breathe shallow breaths between dry lips, and my shak- ing hand constantly hovers near my hip. As though I can fix what’s wrong, but the only remedy is outside this brig. Medi- cine, antiseptic, water.

I have none.

We’re all together, but there is nothing here besides a single cot. There are no bars to peer out of, like at my last cell. This is just a tiny, bare, enclosed room inside a starcraft. Clean with polished floors, sterile walls, and a spotless padlocked door, all bathed in soft pink hues from an overhead rouge light.

Mykal hunches as he stands, the ceilings too low, and since I’m much taller, I spend most of my time sitting or crouching. Franny squats next to a hatch on the cumbersome door. No windows, the hatch has been our sole view outside the brig, but it only opens when they feed us.

She presses her cheek against the chilly pink metal. Listening. With our linked emotions and senses, I try to concentrate on Franny. Just for a reprieve from my own torment. I wouldn’t be able to hear what she hears or see what she sees; we still only share touch and taste and smell. I can barely feel the bite of the cold door against my jaw and ear.

Her senses, his senses—they both sweep past me as another pang of misery scratches at my flesh.

I look down.

Crude, gnarled stitches weave jaggedly along my lower abdomen. My golden-brown skin is sickly green and inflamed. I resist the urge to itch.

Franny scratches her own hip—she feels my pain.

I shut my eyes for a long moment. Hating that they both feel the deep cuts from a man I loathe. From Bastell: the man I shared a Vorkter Prison cell with, the one who relentlessly hunted me until he attacked me at Yamafort’s museum.

We may’ve left Bastell behind on our home planet, we may’ve stolen the Saga starcraft and reached space, but he left real wounds that can’t disappear easily—focus.

I open my eyes and try to focus on our plans of escape. Though we’ve failed each and every day. I try to think of any- thing to forget that last encounter in the museum.

We’re out of Bastell’s reach.

I try to breathe stronger, and then I wince and shift, a stabbing pain shooting up my side. Gods be damned.

Mykal swings his head back, his hard-hearted blue eyes meeting my grim grays. If he could beat down the door with his fists alone, I’m certain he would.

Because he’s already tried. Until the skin on his knuckles busted and bled, and sores formed.

“What are you moving for, Court?” Mykal asks. “Rest your- self. You’ve hardly slept one blink of an eye.”

“It’s not so easy when we need to leave,” I say in a single breath. I sink my head back to the wall, our eyes not detaching.

Mykal.

I asked him to fly away with me, and I’ve led him to a prison. No apology I speak can erase the guilt. I just need to free Mykal and Franny from this place.

I have to.

“There’s no time,” I say with another wince.

Franny stiffens and cautiously glances back at me. I don’t know how to ease her worry.

Mykal takes a step toward my spot on the floor. I don’t know how to ease his either.

“Don’t,” I say weakly, stopping him.

He scratches his jaw. Frustration burrowing through his body and mine. He stays an arm’s distance away and gestures to me. “I may not be a physician like you, but once upon an era, I nursed you from the brink of something foul. I can do it again, you realize?”

It’s too late for that.

His muscles flex. “Court?”

He can’t read my mind, and so I’m left to wonder what emo- tion accompanied my thought. What did he sense?

I blink a few times. Unsure of what I felt. But I want him to know something. “I still remember . . .” I swallow hard and fight to speak louder. “I still remember the winter wood.”

His eyes redden. “Yer telling me this now?” His northern lilt breaks through. I’m truly happy to hear it again.

In a whisper, I clarify, “I know what you’ve done for me.” “Court—”

“I wouldn’t have survived without you.” My voice cracks, days and months and years rushing toward me. Frostbitten skin and the crackle of fire and his impossibly bright laughter. I remember the moments after I escaped Vorkter.

Where Mykal brought me to his warm hut out of the wet snow. Hovering over my gaunt frame, nearly nose-to-nose, he lathered mud and herbs on my wounds. Grenpale remedies.

He was a wild Hinterlander.

I was a lost boy of fifteen, and years later, we’ve found our- selves in a similar position. I’m on the brink of something foul again, but there are no trees, no mud, no plants, nothing that can save me by his hands.

I’m afraid.

I take in a breath, finally understanding my emotions, and I do everything I can to contain them. Bottle them. Swallow them. So they won’t know this fear.

Let me suffer alone.

Mykal bends low to be at eye level, palm on the floor. “I don’t want yer praise. I got you in this mess—”

“No.” I cut him off.

He’s still kicking himself for not stopping Bastell. In his mind, he broke a devout promise. He swore that I’d never en- counter that cruel bastard again, but I did.

I already forgave Mykal a hundred times, even when he didn’t need to be forgiven. He’s just not ready to absolve himself yet. He reaches out his hand to me...

“I don’t want your guilt,” I say, more strictly than I intend.

Purposefully pushing him away, and it works.

He retracts his callused palm. And he flicks his forefinger in a vulgar Grenpalish gesture. Rising to a hunched stance again. I try to bury my disappointment. Because I long for Mykal.

I want him closer and closer, our chests pressing together and the heat of our bodies easing us into a contented sleep. I’m called toward him. Every minute of every day.

Toward his kindness and fortitude and foolish optimism. A great pull beckons me into his arms, but in the same breath, I’d rather Mykal be far, far away from my suffering.

If we touch skin-to-skin, the link will make him feel what I feel tenfold, and since we’ve kissed, we’ve already heightened this bond between us a significant amount. He’s noticed the shortness of my breath, whereas Franny can’t distinguish the subtleties as well.

He’s even started recognizing emotion in me that I can’t even name.

“I’ll just be standing right here,” Mykal says, angling toward me, “where I can stare at your handsome face.”

I roll my eyes, but I don’t mind him staring at all. I want to smile, but it seems like an impossible feat.

Quietly, his gaze slides down my weakened frame. Inspecting me from afar.

I do the same to him. Sweat builds up on his pale skin and drenches his wheat-blond hair.

All we’ve ever known was the ice and snow on our frozen planet of Saltare-3. None of us are used to the sweltering room temps here.

The brig stinks badly of a musky odor, our stench the obvious culprit.

We’ve all shed our onyx-and-gold StarDust uniforms to combat the scorch. No slacks, no cloaks, and Franny slung off her bra. Left only in black underwear, we sweat through those and make the best out of the absolute worst.

Beads roll off Mykal’s sideburns and slip down his stubbly jaw. I watch his eyes lower to the tangled scars and ink over my heart, and then I scrutinize his brawn. Bands of his muscle have begun to lose their tautness, not as carved or cut as they once were.

My squared jaw tightens, and a rock lodges in my throat. I want to believe that he’s fine. That he’s not hurting, but I can feel him starving. I can feel his stomach gnawing on itself and his body withering away.

Franny is worse. Her rib cage is visible and juts in and out as she breathes, more skin and bones than either him or me. My concern for her grows and grows every day.

She refuses to eat our rations. No one is willing to take more than our share, but we’ve all volunteered to take less.
About Krista & Becca Ritchie

Krista & Becca Ritchie are New York Times Bestselling Authors and identical twins, one a science nerd, the other a comic book geek. With their shared passion for writing, they combined their mental powers as kids and have never stopped telling stories. Graduates from the University of Georgia in Biology and English & Journalism, the twin writing duo now lives in Atlanta. The Raging Ones is their first young adult novel. The Last Hope is available August 13th, 2019.

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