2013 YA and MG Time Travel Reading Challenge: April Wrap-up Post + Review Linky + Giveaway: The Loop by Shandy Lawson

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hi everyone! For today, I've got my review for The Loop for the monthly time travel wrap-up and feature. Stick around for two giveaways. :)

The Loop
Title: The Loop
Author: Shandy Lawson
Publisher: Hyperion
Date of Publication: April 30, 2013

Ben and Maggie have met, fallen in love, and died together countless times. Over the course of two pivotal days—both the best and worst of their lives—they struggle again and again to resist the pull of fate and the force of time itself. With each failure, they return to the beginning of their end, a wild road trip that brings them to the scene of their own murders and into the hands of the man destined to kill them.

As time circles back on itself, events become more deeply ingrained, more inescapable for the two kids trapped inside the loop. The closer they come to breaking out, the tighter fate’s clutches seem to grip them. They devise a desperate plan to break free and survive the days ahead, but what if Ben and Maggie’s only shot at not dying is surviving apart?

Purchase from Amazon | The Book Depository

Review

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Hyperion and NetGalley for the eARC! As usual, this in no way affected my views about the book. Only honest opinions here!


Admittedly, I'm a bad challenge host as The Loop is my first time travel book. Blame my last year in university, blame my thesis, my organizations and affiliations, blame myself. However, I am glad that The Loop was my first for the challenge as it has successfully kickstarted the time travel junkie in me and I am currently craving for more!


Honestly, I don't think The Loop is a time travel book as our protagonists, Ben and Maggie, do not travel through time. Instead, they experience something like deja vu over and over again. In my opinion, time travel is being transported into a different time or era, may it be the past or the future. In The Loop, Ben and Maggie relive the present over and over again, resulting to that sense of deja vu. But technicalities aside, I think The Loop was a quick yet suspenseful read, action-packed but not lacking in romance too. In fact, it was full of romance between our star-crossed lovers, Ben and Maggie.
 To read on the rules of the world Shandy created for The Loop, head over to Precious' blog for Shandy's guest post!

The shortness of The Loop initially shocked me a bit because I didn't know it was so short. With this, Lawson did not waste any time as Ben and Maggie died first thing in the novel. Ben and Maggie are in a loop, wherein they relive a certain event in their lives countless times and in here, it is their imminent murder by Roy. As stated in the blurb, in these two pivotal days, they do their best to steer and bend Fate and ultimately, escape their deaths. The catch is that Fate seems hellbent on getting them killed, which means obstacles and accidents and mishaps come their way from all directions.

The novel is mostly told in Ben's perspective and guy's perspective for the win! I know there are tons of books out there written in a guy's perspective but every time I read one, I still feel like celebrating. I was honestly not too happy with the change in perspective at the end at first, but it worked out and actually gave more depth, character and backstory to Maggie. For me, the ending was wonderful and nicely wrapped up, although a bit rushed.

Since The Loop is mostly written on Ben's POV, we got to know him more and these two are such lovable and relatable characters. You just don't want them dead and you hate the loop and Fate for doing this to them. I mean, to relive dying and doing everything for naught? Must be hard. But these teens are brave and courageous ones. It is a bit insta-love though but I forgave that part because 1) the novel was short and 2) although Ben can't remember Maggie that much, he spent so much time with her that his heart knows her already. Shandy was able to make me feel that. That their love didn't come from nowhere but that it was always there.

All in all, The Loop was a fun and light yet suspenseful read! I recommend it to time travel junkies like me, sci-fi lovers and those into destiny and going against it. The Loop is such a quick read that you'll finish it immediately and come off it satisfied. Congratulations on your debut, Shandy!

About Shandy Lawson


Shandy Lawson's "day jobs" have ranged from making wine recommendations to being a machinist, a dispatcher in an auto repair garage, a philosophy tutor at a local college, and a stone mason. Creatively, he put most of his energy into a career as a performing songwriter before turning his focus to writing fiction. Shandy lives and works n New York City. The Loop is his first novel.




Giveaway


Because Precious and I really love The Loop - reviews to come! - we decided to have 2 giveaways so everyone can enter: The first is for US/CA residents and the second is for PH residents!


For US/CA Residents:


For PH Residents:


Review Linky


Spotlight + Giveaway: No Attachments by Tiffany King

It's Tiffany King's No Attachments release day! And I'm here participating in the release day launch with a spotlight and a giveaway. Thank you to InkSlinger PR for the chance to share this wonderful novel. I'll be reviewing No Attachments soon too so keep your eyes peeled for that!

No Attachments
Title: No Attachments
Author: Tiffany King
Publisher: A.T. Publishing LLC
Date of Publication: April 30, 2013

Ashton Garrison walked away from a privileged life in order to hide from the one thing she's not willing to face. She knows she left behind a trail of pain, but in the long run, her betrayal will hurt less than the truth. She now has one goal: Live life to the fullest with no regrets and no attachments. She has high hopes that a move to new surroundings will provide the escape she desires, but what Ashton doesn't count on is how fate always seems to find a way to screw up any good plan. Sometimes, when love comes knocking, the pull is too strong not to answer. Suddenly, what she thought she wanted to escape from is what Ashton now wants more than anything.

Nathan Lockton has one mission: find his target and complete the task he was hired to do—no attachments and no emotion necessary. He's done it over and over again. What he thought was a typical lost-and-found job has turned into a life examining moment as Nathan is forced to deal with something he has always ignored--his feelings. Now faced with a decision, Nathan must choose to either follow his heart or complete the job.

Love can come when you least expect it. The question is: If the odds are stacked against you, how far are you willing to go for the one you love?

Purchase from Amazon

About Tiffany King

Tiffany King is the author of The Saving Angels Series, Wishing for Someday Soon, Forever Changed, Unlikely Allies, Miss Me Not and Jordyn: A Daemon Hunter Novel book one. Writer by day and book fanatic the rest of the time, she is now pursuing her life-long dream of weaving tales for others to enjoy.

She has a loving husband and two wonderful kids. (Five, if you count her three spoiled cats). Her addictions include: Her iphone and ipad, chocolate, Diet Coke, chocolate, Harry Potter, chocolate, and her favorite TV shows. Want to know what they are? Just ask.


Giveaway


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Hiatus (1)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I just graduated! Cum laude, baby! And from tomorrow until May 7, I will be on a vacation trip like no other! Well, not really like no other but you get the point. Hee. Don't worry as I will try my best to leech for free Wifi at times but if not, I have scheduled my upcoming posts already. More like I will be scheduling them soon but don't fret. As you can see, there's no StS for yesterday and that's because I only have one book for this week and I was so busy that I wasn't able to take a picture. Ha.

Anyway, I haven't packed for my trip (I know, what an irresponsible girl) so bye! See you guys soon!

Review: The Last Wild by Piers Torday

Thank you to The Book Depository Affiliates Program for the review copy and the chance to review this wonderful novel! Come on and check out what I thought of it!

The Last Wild
Title: The Last Wild
Author: Piers Torday
Publisher: Quercus Books
Date of Publication: March 28, 2013

In a world where animals no longer exist, twelve-year-old Kester Jaynes sometimes feels like he hardly exists either. Locked away in a home for troubled children, he's told there's something wrong with him. So when he meets a flock of talking pigeons and a bossy cockroach, Kester thinks he's finally gone a bit mad. But the animals have something to say... The pigeons fly Kester to a wild place where the last creatures in the land have survived. A wise stag needs Kester's help, and together they must embark on a great journey, joined along the way by an over-enthusiastic wolf-cub, a spoilt show-cat, a dancing harvest mouse and a stubborn girl named Polly. The animals saved Kester Jaynes. But can Kester save the animals?

Purchase from The Book Depository

Review

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

It is hard to find a middle grade novel which can entertain children and yet be thought-provoking for a more mature audience. And so, The Last Wild is a gem on its own for being both. Thank you so much to The Book Depository Affiliates Program for providing me a review proof copy of The Last Wild. This, in no way, affected my views of the novel.

Kester Jaynes embarks on an adventure like no other as he tries to save the last of the world's animals. Being a bullied mute in an institution, he couldn't believe it when he hears animals talking to him. It's a wonderful story how anyone can be a hero.This novel was fast-paced and gripping and I am once reminded why I also identify myself as an MG reader and reviewer. This is the kind of book which makes you want to read more middle grade novels even if you relate more to young adult or new adult novels.

The world Torday built was believable and too believable at that; it makes you think that it can truly happen. This is where the thought-provoking aspect comes from. It was very vivid and the constant cloud of mystery and the unknown truly helped make the readers feel that something is impending to happen.

The Last Wild's ending is open for a sequel and if there is indeed a sequel, I will surely read it. I recommend this to MG readers and to animal lovers and of course, to those hoping to read something to ponder on.

About Piers Torday

Piers Torday was born in Northumberland, which is possibly the one part of England where more animals live than people. After working as a producer and writer in theatre, live comedy and TV, he now lives in London – where there are more animals that you might think. The Last Wild is his first novel.

Cover Reveal: Adorned by Georgeann Swiger

Saturday, April 27, 2013

 

Title: Adorned (The Trinity of Souls #1)
Author: Georgeann Swiger
Publisher: Entranced Publishing
Date of Publication: November 4, 2013
Genre: YA paranormal romance

When seventeen-year-old Anya finds out she’s actually an angel being trained to protect humanity, she discovers that becoming an angel has nothing to do with wings and haloes. For Anya, becoming an angel has to do with death—her death.

Micah, the angelic soldier ordered to protect her until she transitions from human to angel, promises her death will be a glorious experience as long as she follows his rules. But getting Anya through this life and to the next isn’t as simple as Micah expects. His job becomes even more difficult after he unwittingly performs a miracle that exposes Anya’s hidden angelic light.

With her secret out, Hell’s legions begin targeting her. Unfortunately, Hell’s minions are the least of Micah’s worries. He’s more concerned about the forbidden human emotions he’s developed toward Anya. Even more troubling, is she seems to love him too. And giving in to those feelings, could mean dire consequences for them both.

About Georgeann Swiger

Georgeann Swiger earned her degree in journalism from West Virginia University, and then spent five years as an anchor/reporter at WBOY-TV in Clarksburg, WV.  After having children, she left television news to be a stay at home mom. During that time, she discovered creative writing was more fun than writing about real life tragedy.  Imagining interesting characters and having them come to life on the page is now her passion. When she’s not writing, she works as a substitute teacher.  She lives in Reedsville, West Virginia with her husband, two kids, a beagle dog and a temperamental cat who tries to rule the house.

{Blog Tour} Review + Dream Movie Cast: Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon

Friday, April 26, 2013

Thank you to Amanda of Strange Chemistry for the opportunity to join the Zenn Scarlett tour and to Christian Schoon for writing this novel and sharing his dream movie cast. This book has caught my eye ever since the cover was revealed and so, I jumped on the chance of being in its blog tour. Eep! Come read my thoughts and share a thought or two!

Zenn Scarlett
Title: Zenn Scarlett
Author: Christian Schoon
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Date of Publication: May 7, 2013

When you're studying to be exoveterinarian specializing in exotic, alien life forms, school... is a different kind of animal.

Zenn Scarlett is a resourceful, determined 17-year-old girl working hard to make it through her novice year of exovet training. That means she's learning to care for alien creatures that are mostly large, generally dangerous and profoundly fascinating. Zenn’s all-important end-of-term tests at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars are coming up, and, she's feeling confident of acing the exams. But when a series of inexplicable animal escapes and other disturbing events hit the school, Zenn finds herself being blamed for the problems. As if this isn't enough to deal with, her absent father has abruptly stopped communicating with her; Liam Tucker, a local towner boy, is acting unusually, annoyingly friendly; and, strangest of all: Zenn is worried she's started sharing the thoughts of the creatures around her. Which is impossible, of course. Nonetheless, she can't deny what she's feeling.

Now, with the help of Liam and Hamish, an eight-foot sentient insectoid also training at the clinic, Zenn must learn what's happened to her father, solve the mystery of who, if anyone, is sabotaging the cloister, and determine if she's actually sensing the consciousness of her alien patients... or just losing her mind. All without failing her novice year....

Purchase from Amazon

Review

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Admittedly, this is my first ever space novel. And I... love it! I don't know if it's just me but it was fresh and exciting. Really sorry if this will be a short review as I'm graduating tomorrow and I'm so crunched for time. But all I can say is, I will definitely read more from Christian Schoon.

I first came across this novel via the Strange Chemistry newsletter. The cover blew me away and then partnered with that blurb, I knew I had to read it. So I'm so thankful to Amanda for this chance to read a wonderful novel. It started slow but I didn't mind it because the author was building its setting. The exo-veterinary clinics and all that stuff were amazing. I had a blast picturing it all and thanks to Christian's dream movie cast, my reading was definitely more enjoyable and visual. After the slow world-building, the plot got thicker and more exciting so all is well. 

I love the characters, they were so fun to read and dissect. Zenn is that smart girl who's not boy-obsessed which is truly a breath of fresh air. Everything about this novel seemed fresh to me and I just love it for that.

I recommend this for animal lovers, space lovers and just anyone who thinks the blurb sounds interesting and unique, BECAUSE IT IS! :)

Dream Movie Cast

Like any author, I have great fun trying to come up with the ideal cast of Oscar®-caliber thespic talent for the massively budgeted 3D cinematic spectacular that will catapult my book’s epic setting and unforgettable characters onto a mile-high Ultra-Imax Mega-Screen. And the fact is, I change my mind about the optimal casting formula all the time. But, here’s the latest list I’ll be emailing to whoever is lucky enough to sit in the director’s chair for Zenn Scarlett: The Movie

Zenn Scarlett: Dakota Fanning (w/ Elle as young Zenn in the prologue….) With minimal make-up, she could pull off the fresh-faced, farm-girl-with-smarts look that Zenn needs

Liam Tucker: Devon Gearhart   Zenn could go for that

Otha Scarlett:  Jeff Bridges  Gruff but w/ a sensitive side

Warra Scarlett: Bradley Cooper   Dad-like

Mai Scarlett: Lucy Liu   Mom-ish

Sister Hild: Cate Blanchett   A little spooky

Hamish (Voiced by): Jude Law    Just seems like he could voice a giant, good-natured bug

Graad Dokes: Javier Bardem  A hard, bitter guy

Vic LeClerc: Tilda Swinton   Also hard, but smooth

About Christian Schoon

Born in the American Midwest, Christian started his writing career in earnest as an in-house writer at the Walt Disney Company in Burbank, California. He then became a freelance writer working for various film, home video and animation studios in Los Angeles. After moving from LA to a farmstead in Iowa several years ago, he continues to freelance and also now helps re-hab wildlife and foster abused/neglected horses.  He acquired his amateur-vet knowledge, and much of his inspiration for the Zenn Scarlett series of novels, as he learned about - and received an education from - these remarkable animals and the awesome veterinarians who care so deeply for them.

{Blog Tour} Spotlight + Giveaway: Aberrant by Ruth Silver

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Aberrant (Aberrant #1)
Title: Aberrant (Aberrant #1)
Author: Ruth Silver
Publisher: Lazy Day Publishing
Date of Publication: April 17, 2013

In the future dystopian society of Cabal, the government instills equality for all and offers its citizens the perfect system. There is food, shelter and jobs for everyone. The one requirement is to follow the rules without question, including the government's match in marriage and "The Day of the Chosen", a lottery that randomly selects families to conceive children as natural means hasn't existed in generations. Following her eighteenth birthday, Olivia Parker accepts her requirement to marry her childhood best friend, Joshua Warren, and is eager to start her work assignment and new life when it all comes abruptly to an end as she's arrested and thrown in prison. The only crime committed, her existence. Olivia is unlike the rest of the world born not from "The Day of the Chosen." The truth haunts the government and puts her life in grave danger as one simple fact would destroy the perfect system.

With Joshua's help, Olivia breaks free of prison and is forced on the run. Together they set out to find the promised rebel town in search of a new home and new life together. Their situation seems less than promising as they reach the town of Haven. New rules and customs must be adhered to in order to stay. Leaving would mean most certain death in the large expanse of the Gravelands. Time is running out as the government mounts an attack to destroy Olivia and bury her secret with her. Thrown into a world unlike their own, they must quickly adapt to survive.

Purchase from Amazon | B&N

Excerpt

Joshua and I both headed out of the council hall with Jacqueline leading the way. The line of young men had barely dwindled. I avoided their stare, their curiosity as they slowly proceeded forward, giving the attendant their name. I wondered how they knew about me and more importantly what they knew. Jacqueline walked a few feet ahead of us, giving us privacy to talk. I silently thanked her for still respecting us and our wishes. She was probably the only one in Haven who liked us. I didn’t know if I should be relieved or angered by the recent news. I could feel the whispers, like tingles against bare skin as we walked further from council hall and rounded the corner. I was grateful to be out of sight from all those curious stares. "I guess we should consider ourselves lucky," I remarked. I didn't feel lucky. I tried to sound upbeat, but everything was quickly falling apart around us.

Joshua scoffed at the idea. "Lucky? I wouldn't go that far," he emphasized. "This is how it starts. Eventually, they'll make it a crime for us to see one another." He sounded disgusted.

"They sort of already are," I remarked, trying to understand the council's decision. "I think they just want to make sure I'm protected." Though I didn't quite understand how setting me up to meet multiple bachelors was any form of protection. It seemed as if they only wanted to keep Joshua away from me. The one person I could trust, implicitly. I knew the rules were different because I was different. They didn’t seem particularly bothered by Joshua having a girl in his room. It didn’t seem fair.

"Seems like they don't really care what we think at all," Joshua retorted as we headed into our building. "Were you okay last night? I worried when Landon escorted you out of the dormitory."

I walked slowly up the stairs, Jacqueline just a few feet ahead of us. "Aside from being locked in a room with no windows." I sighed. "At least they're giving me freedom from the tech center and a real bed. I should be grateful," I mocked. I didn't feel grateful, but I knew his mother at least tried to make it easier for me. As soon as we crested the top stair, I froze in place. The building shook with an alarming intensity as the first drone flew low overhead. The downstairs chandelier swayed and I held onto Joshua's arm and my eyes widened in terror. "What do you think is going on?" I asked watching the movement grow stronger as vibrations echoed through the dormitory. A nearby painting affixed to the wall crashed to the floor, the glass breaking. I could feel the ground quake beneath my feet as Joshua grabbed my hand, refusing to let go.

"We're being attacked." It wasn't a question. Together, we jogged briskly down the hall toward our rooms. I didn't know how much time we had. All I knew was the government was here, and they were searching for me!

About Ruth Silver

Ruth Silver attended Northern Illinois University and graduated with a Bachelor's in Communication in the spring of 2005.  While in college, she spent much of her free time writing with friends she met online and penning her first novel, Deuces are Wild, which she self-published in 2004.  Her favorite class was Creative Writing senior year where she often handed in assignments longer than the professor required because she loved to write and always wanted to finish her stories. Her love of writing led her on an adventure in 2007 to Melbourne, Australia.  Silver enjoys reading, photography, traveling and most of all writing.  She loves dystopian and fantasy young adult stories.  Ruth has been actively writing since she was a teenager.  She currently resides in Plainfield, Illinois.


Giveaway

{Blog Tour} Spotlight + Dream Movie Cast + Giveaway: Shadow of Wrath by L.W. Patricks

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Shadow of Wrath (Sins of the 7)
Title: Shadow of Wrath (Sins of the 7 #1)
Author: L.W. Patricks
Date of Publication: March 13, 2013
Publisher: Strange Crow Publishing

In the Arena, you're either a killer or a victim.

If survival meant murdering an innocent person in cold blood every week, could you do it? Are you able to stick the knife into your opponent's heart while they look at you with fear in their eyes? Life in the Arena turns everyone into sinners.

A homeless boy is kidnapped from the streets and finds himself imprisoned in a far more horrifying place: The Arena, a place where teenage boys fight to the death for the pleasure of various lowlifes.

The Arena is the brainchild of Ryker, an ex-convict addicted to alcohol, gladiatorial-esque combats, and money. When not devising new ways for boys to kill each other, he’s ruling his small empire with a ruthless fist, rewarding his guards with sex slaves and punishing those who oppose him with barbaric executions.

Renamed Dog, the boy from the street proves to be an excellent fighter and finds himself surviving week after week, but as he leaves a trail of bodies in his wake, the ghosts of slain boys haunt him and the violence threatens to wake a beast inside him.

Allegra, a slave girl in the Arena and a victim of Ryker's constant abuse, is his only key to salvation. She has lost everything already -- her family, her innocence, and her dignity -- while her will to live hangs on by a thin thread. Can she save Dog's humanity before she too succumbs to the horrors of the Arena?

Seeking to defy Ryker as Dog rises to power as his champion, the stage is set for something to give in this murderous world of young combatants.

A tale about survival, tragedy, and human perseverance, the Complete SHADOW OF WRATH is the first book in the Sins of the 7 series.

Purchase from Amazon | Smashwords | Kobo

Dream Movie Cast


This is great! I get to sit in the director's chair and envision the movie cast for my book Shadow of Wrath. I'd like to say I have some experience in the movie industry, but I don't. The extent I have was being an extra in the Total Recall remake and being labelled as 'pervert number 2' as I shamelessly blew air kisses to girls in the background while Colin Farrell did his ass kicking thing. They did give me a nice, rusty old bicycle though as a prop.

Okay, enough rambling. Here's "director" L.W. Patrick's amazingly awesome casting list for Shadow of Wrath.

Robbie Hammel as Dog


I need someone that can pull off being sixteen, tough as nails, and ripped. I also need an actor that can give off the intensity of a boy who doesn't have much to live for and portray the conflict and confusion he feels when he discovers love, despite having the social skills of a rabid wolverine. I think young actor Robbie Amell can pull it off! He’s also a fellow Canadian, so I have to vouch for him.

Mila Kunis as Allegra


Her character is a diverse one. In the beginning of the book, she's a frightened and timid girl, though you can see hints of an edge to her. By the end of the book, she turns into a total bad ass despite still being emotionally vulnerable. Without a doubt, my first choice is Mila Kunis. I think she has the acting chops to kick major ass as Allegra. 

Channing Tatum as Tiberius


Tiberius is a noble warrior outside of the pit and a complete psychopath when it's time to fight. He'll shake your hand, wish you luck in the Arena, and then go out there and break your spine without any hesitation. Don't get me wrong, he's a nice guy. But he'll still kill you if he has to. My choice for this role is an interesting one; interesting in that one of my good friends will put laxatives in my coffee if I don't choose her Hollywood crush -- Channing Tatum. I've got to admit, he's not a bad choice. He has that sense of nobility and danger that can pull off this role well. There, I put him in my movie J.K. and no I don't know if Mr. Tatum will be reading this blog. Now please, leave my coffee alone, in the name of all that's holy.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Ryker


He's the villain of the story. The description I gave for him was: "Ryker had the pale complexion of a maggot and his diet of whiskey made him wiry thin. He slouched as if he had weights tied around his neck and often walked with his oily hands in the pockets of his faded pants." Allegra also gives him the nickname of "Goblin" so I'll need someone that can pull off that ugly, hideous, and greasy look. Oddly enough, Chad Kreuger is the first name that comes to mind, but I don't think he's into acting.

Instead, I'll go for a well-respected and talented actor who can pull off this role with a bunch of makeup. I loved Leonardo DiCaprio as the wormy villain in Django unchained, and I think he'll completely dominate the role of Ryker. 

Well, that basically rounds up the principle cast for Shadow of Wrath. I admit, the idea of having my book becoming a blockbuster action movie with such a riveting dream cast tickles me a little, but first things first. I hope, as a reader, you love my book enough that someday, I can argue with some bigshot movie producer as to why we don't need to show Dog's sweaty chest and buttocks in 3D. Well maybe if you'd want to see it….

Did I do a good job casting my characters? The only way to know is to check out my book!

About L.W. Patricks

L.W. Patricks is the author of SHADOW OF WRATH and the literary architect behind the upcoming Sins of the 7 series with his second book: AWAKE THE GHOSTS to be published late 2013.

His short fiction works has been published by Crow Toes Quarterly Magazine, Fiction and Verse literary magazine, and upcoming Denizens of the Dark. He enjoys writing contemporary fantasy with an emphasis on creating urban mythology for his stories.

Though he calls Toronto his home, L.W. Patricks has a passion for exploration and has travelled all over the world including Germany, Netherlands, Italy, France, Spain, Czech Republic, Austria, United Kingdom, Thailand, Hong Kong, Cambodia just to name a few. His diverse experience amongst other cultures provides inspiration for his stories.

He currently lives in Toronto with his wife where he enjoys the scorching summer days and the icy winter nights while masquerading as a Word Samurai. He claims to be the offspring of a typewriting chimp and a literary ninja.


Giveaway


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{Shower of Books Giveaway Hop} Spotlight + Guest Post: The Torturer's Daughter by Zoe Cannon

The Torturer's Daughter
Title: The Torturer's Daughter
Author: Zoe Cannon
Date of Publication: December 11, 2012

When her best friend Heather calls in the middle of the night, Becca assumes it's the usual drama. Wrong. Heather's parents have been arrested as dissidents - and Becca's mother, the dystopian regime's most infamous torturer, has already executed them for their crimes against the state.

To stop Heather from getting herself killed trying to prove her parents' innocence, Becca hunts for proof of their guilt. She doesn't expect to find evidence that leaves her questioning everything she thought she knew about the dissidents... and about her mother.

When she risks her life to save a dissident, she learns her mother isn't the only one with secrets - and the plot she uncovers will threaten the lives of the people she loves most. For Becca, it's no longer just a choice between risking execution and ignoring the regime's crimes; she has to decide whose life to save and whose to sacrifice.

It's easy to be a hero when you can save the world, but what about when all you can do is choose how you live in it? THE TORTURER'S DAUGHTER is a story about ordinary teenage life amidst the realities of living under an oppressive regime... and the extraordinary courage it takes to do what's right in a world gone wrong.

Purchase from Amazon

Excerpt

“Heather?”

Heather didn’t look at her.

“It’s me. Becca. I told you I’d come.”

Heather raised her head like she was moving through water. She stared past Becca with mascara-smeared eyes. Her hands trembled in her lap. This wasn’t the Heather who had tried to talk Becca into a makeover at the mall this afternoon—or was that yesterday afternoon by now? She could still hear Heather laughing as she tugged Becca toward the makeup counter. Come on, Becca! Do something fun for once. The girl in front of her looked as if she had never laughed in her life.

Becca sat down next to the trembling girl who didn’t look nearly enough like Heather. “What are you doing here?” Her voice came out as a croak. She cleared her throat. “What happened?”

On the phone, Heather had only managed disconnected phrases through her sobs. Took them. Told me to wait. Please come. Please. And then the words that had chilled Becca’s blood and brought her here—I’m at 117.

Now Heather dug her nails into her legs as she spoke. “My parents.” She swallowed, like she was trying to take back the words before she could speak them. “Internal took them.”

“What do you mean, took them?” Stupid question. That only ever meant one thing. But… Heather’s parents, below them in one of the underground cells? No. Heather’s parents had worked for Internal Defense longer than Becca had known them, longer than Heather had even been alive. For them to be arrested… how could Internal have made a mistake like that?

Heather sank bonelessly back against the chair. The back of her head thunked against the wall; she didn’t seem to notice. “I don’t know why… I don’t know why they…”

“Tell me how it happened.” Maybe Heather had gotten it wrong. Impossible, to get something like that wrong—but more likely than Heather’s parents being dissidents.

“I heard footsteps. After Mom and Dad were asleep. I was still up.” Heather dug her fingers deeper into her jeans, until her nails went white. “I thought it was a burglar or something. But it was… them.”

“Enforcement?” Becca tried to imagine Enforcers in Heather’s apartment, with their faceless helmets and black body armor, dragging Heather’s parents away like dissidents in the middle of the night. She couldn’t.

Heather nodded. “They walked past me like I wasn’t there. They got Mom and Dad out of bed. I didn’t know if I should warn them, or… It didn’t make sense. None of it made any sense.” Heather paused to catch her breath. “Mom tried to fight. They slammed her against the wall a couple of times. I think her nose was broken, after. I don’t know.”

Heather stopped, blinking back tears. Becca waited.

After a moment, Heather continued. “She tried to say something to me, but they wouldn’t let her. Dad… just went with them. He didn’t argue. He didn’t say anything. I kept trying to tell the Enforcers they had the wrong people, but they wouldn’t listen.” Her last word broke off into a sob.

What could Becca say to any of that? She placed her hand over Heather’s and tried to ignore the thoughts creeping into her mind, the voice telling her that Heather’s parents wouldn’t have been arrested if they were innocent.

Guest Post

Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times
by Zoe Cannon

When I started writing in the dystopian world of The Torturer’s Daughter, I knew I didn’t want to write about changing the world. I wanted to write on a smaller scale, to explore what ordinary lives looked like against the backdrop of an oppressive regime that was a fact of life rather than an enemy that could be defeated. I wanted to write about characters overcoming totalitarianism not through epic battles, but through acts of everyday defiance.

But I also wanted their stories to matter. I wanted to write about ordinary lives, but not meaningless ones. It’s easy to make a story and a life feel meaningful when the hero is defeating the dystopian government and restoring the world back to sanity. It’s harder when your hero is the girl next door and instead of leading a revolution, she’s just trying to survive. At least that’s what I thought.

Except the more I thought about it, the more I realized that wasn’t true. It wasn’t harder, not really. It was just a matter of perspective.

Just like I planned when I started out, The Torturer’s Daughter isn’t about changing the world. It’s about how Becca changes. It’s about learning the ugly truth behind everything you once believed, and choosing to face that truth head-on rather than hiding from it. It’s about doing the right thing when it’s hard to tell what the right thing even is.

And that matters.

It matters because sometimes you don’t singlehandedly change the world. Sometimes you just... live. But that’s what the world is made of, isn’t it? People just living. It’s what every totalitarian country in the real world is made of. People who may not bring down the government, but who fight in other ways, smaller but no less important. Ordinary heroes. These are the people I’m writing about when I write in this dystopian world.

About Zoe Cannon

Zoe Cannon writes about the things that fascinate her: outsiders, societies no sane person would want to live in, questions with no easy answers, and the inner workings of the mind. If she couldn't be a writer, she would probably be a psychologist, a penniless philosopher, or a hermit in a cave somewhere. While she'll read anything that isn't nailed down, she considers herself a YA reader and writer at heart. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and a giant teddy bear of a dog, and spends entirely too much time on the internet.


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{#DeliriumWeek} Covered: Erin Fitzsimmons

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hey y'all! I'm introducing a new feature I've been cooking up a long time ago but only had the time and resources to start and introduce now. It's called Covered, inspired by Cat York's post on how we love covers but don't relate it to the talented cover designers and artists who designed them. I have always loved covers and I felt guilty that I never really looked up these cover designers. Now, I'm changing that with Covered!

So my first guest is Erin Fitzsimmons, the cover designer for Lauren Oliver's Delirium series and just about the most awesome HarperTeen releases (Taken by Erin Bowman! September Girls by Bennett Madison! What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang!). She is also the Senior Designer at HarperTeen. Please welcome, Erin Fitzsimmons!

Can you tell us something about yourself?

I am a huge type nerd. I just can't get enough! I like to think of myself as a book designer by day, and aspiring type designer and hand-letterer by night. While I love designing books, my newest passion is learning everything I can about calligraphy and type design. I just completed the Type@Cooper where I created my own original font. It was such a wonderful experience, and it sealed my conviction that I want to focus on learning new things all the time. That's not to say I'd ever stop designing books, but I hope to keep developing new skills to enhance everything I do. Who knows what will be next! I think it's more fun that way.

How did you end up doing the cover for Lauren Oliver's Delirium series?

I had actually just started at HarperCollins when Delirium came through to my desk. When I started at Harper, I had never worked in teen books before. I feel so lucky because my art and creative directors were willing to give me a chance and I've loved it ever since.

When Delirium was assigned to me, Before I Fall wasn't even out yet, so we didn't really know how well Lauren Oliver was going to be received. Her books are incredible, so we had hoped, but you never know in the teen market!

All of a sudden, Lauren Oliver was a bestseller and Delirium was going to be BIG. It was a ton of pressure for a new designer, but I had amazing people walking me through and holding my hand. I always joke about how everyday I came into work thinking someone was going to take Delirium away from me because I wasn't experienced enough. Thankfully, they never did (and they never would either!)  It was really a fantastic learning experience. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Delirium (Delirium #1)
Can you describe the process of designing the covers of the Delirium series?

There was a lot going on in the YA world when we were designing Delirium. Lauren Kate's Fallen had just come out and was a huge success, Before I Fall was a surprising instant bestseller, and we knew Delirium was special and different. I read the entire manuscript and absolutely loved it, but the genre of dystopian was so new to everyone that we didn't really know which direction to go in.

After quite a few rounds and an incredible photo shoot with Gustavo Marx, we settled on one direction for the original ARE cover, which definitely fit more into the Fallen world. Right before the book went to BEA, we decided we wanted this book to really stand out, and therefore we needed a new cover.

It was really tough for me, as a new designer, to see that first cover killed. But at the same time, telling a designer that you want a cover that is unique and will stand out is probably the best direction you can ever give them, or, at least, the most inspiring. We hired outside artists and designers, as I worked on new concepts. In the end, we went with my blue typographic cover design. I couldn't have been more proud of that original jacket design. I still have the book on my shelf at home, and I just love the way the light reflects off it. (Le sigh.)

But then, of course, the book didn't perform that way it was expected to perform, so the decision was made to repackage the book. Again, it was tough, but by that point (only a year and change into my career at Harper!) I felt like I had been through it all and was ready to go another round. We came up with the concept for the new jackets and did another photo shoot with Michael Frost. My favorite part of the new jacket design is creating the full jacket wraps. They're my own little secret gardens.

If you like, these articles/interviews go a bit more into depth about the design process for Delirium: 1 and 2. (Go check those out guys, they're really informative!)

Delirium (Delirium, #1)
So do you personally know the author or does the author have no inputs in the cover design?

Most of the time I don't personally have any interaction with the author. The editor will ask their thoughts the jacket before we start designing, and will share the initial concepts and final covers with them as we work. The authors definitely have input, whether they have specific ideas at the start of the process or if they want to see tweaks as we finalize the cover. For the most part, they do respect that know what we're doing (or at least we hope that we do!) ;)

Thanks to the magic of Twitter, I do get to interact with the authors after we release the covers. I love finding out tidbits after the fact, like how Mindy McGinnis always loved the Taken cover and wanted that cover for her book. She had no idea that she was going to have the same designer working on her series. I love those little twists of fate!

Why the change in covers? From the blue one to the one with flowers and the female model? And why did Harper stick with that concept?

We knew the blue cover was a big risk. It didn't look like any of the other covers out there, and we didn't know how the market was going to react. Unfortunately, Delirium had a very slow first few weeks, so the decision was made very early on that we were going to change the cover in hopes that more people would pick the book up. The repackage was definitely more successful in the long run, so we decided to stick with it!

Pandemonium (Delirium, #2)
What's the significance/symbolism behind the covers? What's with the flowers? What's the meaning of the progression of the cover model's look and expression?

We had a tricky task of conveying the concepts of love and danger. For me, the flowers are so beautiful and romantic, but at the same time they are slowly surrounding and enveloping Lena in a way that feels claustrophobic and dangerous. The progression in the model's look is much more subtle, but we did want Lena's expression to become stronger and fiercer across the series. She undergoes such a transformation throughout the trilogy, and we wanted her look to reflect that.


Aside from the Delirium series, are there any books you made covers for?

My latest designs that I'm super excited about are Not a Drop to Drink, Blackout, September Girls, and What's Left of Me. As for what's coming up, we'll release the next round of covers in June, including House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple, the second book in the Taken series, and a new sci-fi debut called Elusion. I love them all!

Aside from designing book covers, what do you do or design?

My latest obsession is typography and calligraphy. Besides designing a typeface, I've also been doing more calligraphy work, anything from wedding invites to book covers or personal projects. I am still very much an amateur, so I try to play and experiment any chance I get. If I could play with pens and ink all day long, it would be bliss.

Requiem (Delirium, #3)
Did you receive formal education in art or design?

I went to the Gallatin School for Individualized Study at NYU. I call it the greatest school ever, for many reasons, but mainly because they encouraged interdisciplinary study in all fields. We had "concentrations", which were really just a slightly formal way of organizing our studies. I studied photography, journalism, literature, art theory and criticism -- or what I liked to call "The Art of Visual Storytelling." Gallatin forced us to constantly think from different perspectives and to be interested in everything, which is really how I ended up in design. If I hadn't been encouraged to try everything, I probably would have struggled (unhappily) as a photographer for much longer.

If yes, do you think formal education in art/design is important?

Since my answer is really neither a 'yes' nor a 'no', I will say that there are lots of ways to educate yourself without going to formal art or design classes. Luckily, I did have a background in photography, so I knew Photoshop, and was able to teach myself InDesign and Illustrator without much difficulty. When my boss first asked if I wanted to try designing a book cover, I said yes because I thought it would be fun. I quickly realized that it was way more fun and rewarding than anything else I had done. I wanted to design everything I could, so I entered contests, dreamed up personal projects, took on freelance work. I fully believe if you want to do something, just do it. I just read this on Twitter the other day: "You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great." It applies to everything in life, really.

Any thoughts on copyright and the whole issue of stealing via posting without crediting over the Internet?

Ah, the Internet. It's such a wonderful place for promoting and finding new artists, but it's so easy to repost without credit. Thankfully I don't have to worry about it too much because I don't primarily create original artwork, but I work with so many artists who do. One of my favorite things about my job is finding new young talent from around the world, and they have to constantly be aware. All we can do is to make sure to seek out these talents and use our resources to make sure they are credited and paid as professionals.

Some advice for fledgling artists?

Post your work! We can't find it if you don't post it. There are tons of great free portfolio sites now: Behance, Krop, dribble, etc. Get your work out there and then keep making more work. We will find you. ;)

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Erin! And I am a fan for life. The books you designed are all in my best-covers-ever list. I am so looking forward for more of your designs!

About Erin Fitzsimmons

Erin Fitzsimmons is a book designer, aspiring type designer, and hand-letterer in her spare time; or, in other words, a girl who likes type too much. She prefers to letter in pencil, and cross words in pen.

Website (Go check her portfolio!) | Twitter
 
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