This past week, we celebrated the release of my husband, Denis’, debut novel, Click Here to Start.
This awesome book cover was illustrated by Octavi Navarro.
The book chronicles twelve year old Ted, who is a whiz at Escape the Room Games, and his two friends, as they cleverly figure out what is behind the clues left by Ted’s great uncle – a WWII veteran of the Nisei Brigade from Hawaii. Ted is sure there is something valuable to be found in his late uncle’s apartment, and he has to use his gaming knowledge to do it. Along the way, the trio realizes there are other people searching for the same “treasure”, and they may not be so “friendly”. Ted and his friends have to use their wits and brains to solve the mystery – and ultimately, themselves, in this fact-paced, kid friendly novel.
The audio book, produced by Listening Library, was released at the same time, which was very exciting! It’s narrated by Greg Watanabe, an actor and comic. He does a wonderful job! I love how he’s able to do the different voices of all of the characters, whether they are male or female, young or old, from Hawaii or from the mainland… He gives each of them a distinct personality.
So far, the book has gotten such positive reviews from School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, kidlit bloggers, teachers, librarians, kids. It was named a School Library Guild Section and an Amazon Best Books of the Month Selection.
“As addictive as your favorite video game. I couldn’t put it down.”-Adam Gidwitz, New York Times bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm
“Humor, believable characters, and adventure…keeps readers in suspense to the end. A winner for mystery enthusiasts.”-Kirkus Reviews
“In this clever debut, Markell takes readers on a clue-filled adventure…[and] maintains an energetic, entertaining balance of character-driven narrative and tricky challenges.”-Publishers Weekly
“Markell’s highly entertaining debut novel…is a well-paced read with fully realized and likable characters,…[and] should have strong appeal to gamers, fans of video game-based stories, and reluctant readers.”-School Library Journal
And today from Jean Westmore of the Buffalo News:
“Markell offers plenty of scary suspense, thrilling action, references to literature and movies and lots of humor in his cleverly constructed puzzle. The book is dedicated to “the valiant men of the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat team, who fought so bravely for the U.S. at a time when their Japanese-American relatives back at home were being treated so dishonorably.’ His wife’s uncle was among them.”
For the Click Here to Start book launch at BookCourt this past weekend, I made Power Button Start Cookies. Jamie, our son, was a great help with frosting and packaging. He’s so proud of his dad!
For the cookies, I used my tried and true sugar cookie and royal icing recipe I’ve used for holiday cookies in the past. This time, I used powdered egg white merengue for the frosting, and I think it really made a difference. The exterior piped frosting was perfectly hard. I am just not so great at piping! I dyed the frosting a bright green to match the Start button on the cover of the book. We frosted them green, then later, I piped the Start symbol on top in white. It is an extra step to do the piping and then the fill with diluted frosting, but the results are much better. You get a crisp outline and a very smooth interior with no ridges.
The event was wonderful. Fun to see old friends and new ones. Denis spoke about how he came to write the story, which is inspired by my uncle, Nicholas, Nakabayashi, who fought with the 100th Battalion during WWII. Denis also had fun playing Escape the Room Games with Jamie as research.
I was surprised that almost all of my 38 cookies were eaten at the event! Only two remained, which we enjoyed after the big event. :)