Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Excerpt: Nora and Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Tour banner for Nora and Kettle by Lauren Nicolle TaylorAbout Nora and Kettle

Book cover for Nora and Kettle by Lauren Nicolle TaylorWhat if Peter Pan was a homeless kid just trying to survive, and Wendy flew away for a really good reason?

Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to—the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having “one drop of Japanese blood in them”—things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.

Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to naïve, eighteen-year-old Nora—the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.

For months, they’ve lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.

In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away.

Set in 1953, Nora and Kettle explores the collision of two teenagers facing extraordinary hardship. Their meeting is inevitable, devastating, and ultimately healing. Their stories, a collection of events, are each on their own harmless. But together, one after the other, they change the world.

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Excerpt

I snort, push my sleeves up, and lean back on my forearms. She watches me, her eyes on my bare skin, and I wonder what she’s thinking. “Dances. Really? What’s to miss?” My experience with dances was one forced event in the camps where we watched the grownups awkwardly shift in lines to scratchy music. It didn’t look very enjoyable.

She releases the button she’s been playing with and smirks. “Says someone who’s clearly never been to one.”

“How do you know that?” I say, raising an eyebrow and touching my chest, mock offended.

She laughs. It’s starlight in a jar. I blink slowly. “Oh, I can tell just by looking at you, the way you move. You,” she says, pointing at me accusingly. “Can’t dance.”

The candlelight twinkles like it’s chuckling at me. “I can dance,” I say, not sure why I’m lying to defend myself. I’ve never danced in my life.

She stands up and beckons me with her finger, and I think there’s something wrong with my heart. It’s hurting… but the pain feels good.

She looks like a pirate’s cabin boy, shirt billowing around her small waist, ill-fitting pants rolled over at her hips to stop them from falling down. She points her bare foot at me. “Prove it!”

Shit!

I cough and stand nervously. I don’t know what to do with my hands, so I put them behind my back. She giggles. Touches me. Runs her fingers lightly down my arms until she finds my hands. She grasps my wrists and I gulp as she places one on the small dip between her hips and her ribs, extending the other out like the bow of a boat. Her hand in mine.

I follow her small steps and we wind in circles, avoiding the clumps of debris, painting patterns in the dust.

I stare at my socks and her narrow bare feet, listening to the swish of them across the dirt. “You know, this is pretty weird without music,” I mutter, looking up for a moment and suddenly losing my balance.

She exhales and brings us back to equilibrium. She starts humming softly. It’s a song I’ve heard before, but I pretend it’s the first time. Her voice is sweet, cracked and croaky, but in tune as she gazes at the ground and leads us up and down the back of the tunnel.

This moment is killing me. I don’t want it, but I do. Because I know it won’t be enough and it’s all I’ll get.

The end of the song is coming. It rises and rises and then softly peters out. We look at each other, understanding that something is changing between us, and we have to decide whether to let it. Please, let it.

She sings the last few bars. “And if you sing this melody, you’ll be pretending just like me. The world is mine. It can be yours, my friend. So why don’t you pretend?”

Her voice is like the dust of a comet’s tail. Full of a thousand things I don’t understand but want to.

She stops and starts to step away. She’s so fragile. Not on the outside. On the outside, her body is strong, tougher than it should have to be. It’s inside that’s very breakable. I’m scared to touch her, but I don’t want to avoid touching her because of what she’s been through. That seems worse.

So I do it, because I want to and I don’t think she doesn’t want me to. Her breath catches as I pull her closer. I just want to press my cheek to hers, feel her skin against mine. There is no music, just the rhythm of two barely functioning hearts trying to reach each other through miles of scar tissue.

She presses her ear to my chest and listens, then she pulls back to meet my eyes, her expression a mixture of confusion and comfort. She breathes out, her lips not wanting to close but not wanting to speak. She settles on a nervous smile and puts her arms around my neck. I inhale and look up at the ceiling, counting the stars I know are up there somewhere, and then rest my cheek in her hair.

I don’t know how she is here. I don’t know when she’ll disappear.

We sway back and forth, and it feels like we might break. That we will break if we step apart from each other.

I can’t let her go.

I think I love dancing.

About the Author

Author photo for Lauren Nicolle Taylor

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Lauren Nicolle Taylor lives in the lush Adelaide Hills. The daughter of a Malaysian nuclear physicist and an Australian scientist, she was expected to follow a science career path, attending Adelaide University and completing a Health Science degree with Honours in obstetrics and gynaecology.

She then worked in health research for a short time before having her first child. Due to their extensive health issues, Lauren spent her twenties as a full-time mother/carer to her three children. When her family life settled down, she turned to writing.

She is a 2014 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist and a USA Best Book Awards Finalist.

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Giveaway

Clean Teen Publishing is giving away a mystery box full of swag, books, and more! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway ends March 10, 2016.

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You can also get a free gift by taking a picture of Nora and Kettle, sharing it on social media, and sending a URL of your post to publicity@cleanteenpublishing.com! For full details, please visit www.cleanteenpublishing.com/contests

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Blog Tour and Giveaway: Hardwired by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie

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About Hardwired

Book cover for Hardwired by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie Author: Lindsay Currie & Trisha Leaver
Release Date: November 8, 2015
Publisher: Flux/ Llewellyn
Synopsis: When seventeen-year-old Lucas Marshall tests positive for the M0A1 gene—a genetic abnormality believed to predispose humans toward violence—he is shipped off to an impregnable government facility to undergo a battery of psychological tests aimed at making him crack. Now, having survived their tests and proven his mental stability, Lucas is labeled safe to return home.

But any hope Lucas has of returning to a normal life is shattered when the van transporting him to the reintegration facility is forced off the road by a group of radicals intent on accessing the facility and exposing its dehumanizing practices. And Lucas is their ticket through the front door.

Spurred by rumors that the facility is secretly holding one of his old friends captive, Lucas and his bunk mate, Chris, agree to infiltrate the testing facility’s inner sanctum. Once inside, Lucas’s carefully laid plans begin to unravel and he’s forced to seek help from those still locked within the facility’s concrete walls. But when every genetic test claims your only allies are hardwired to become the next Charles Manson, it’s impossible to know who to trust.

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Advanced Praise

“This fast-paced, not-so-distant dystopian futuristic tale will appeal to teen readers. VERDICT: A must-have for libraries seeking dystopian futures packed with action, violence, and moral dilemmas.” ~School Library Journal

About the Authors

Author photo for Trisha LeaverTRISHA LEAVER lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three children and one rather disobedient black lab. She is a chronic daydreamer who prefers the cozy confines of her own imagination to the mundane routine of everyday life. She writes young adult fiction and is published with FSG/ Macmillan, Flux/Llewellyn and Merit Press. She is a member of the SCBWI, ITW and the YA Scream Queens— a group of nine female authors who are deathly serious about their horror! To find out more about her, please visit her website at: www.trishaleaver.com

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Author photo for Lindsay CurrieLINDSAY CURRIE lives in Chicago with one incredibly patient hubby, three amazing kids and a 160 pound lap dog Sam. She loves Halloween, peach tea and Disney World (in no particular order) and is a contributor to the @YAScreamQueens.

An author of young adult and middle grade fiction, she is published with Flux/Llewellyn, Merit Press and Spencer Hill Contemporary. For more details on Lindsay’s upcoming books, please visit her at: www.lindsaycurrie.com.

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Giveaway

Trisha and Lindsay are generously giving away finished copies of Hardwired to four lucky winners! For a chance to be one of those four, please fill out the Rafflecopter below. You must be 13+ to enter, and the books ship in the US only. Please see the terms and conditions for full contest rules.
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Tour Schedule

Week One:
November 2 Her Book Thoughts! SPOTLIGHT
November 3 A Leisure Moment BOOK EXCERPT
November 4 Insane About Books REVIEW
November 5 The Cover Contessa 10 RANDOM THINGS
November 6 Take Me Away To A Great Read REVIEW

Week Two:
November 9 Taking It One Book At A Time REVIEW
November 10 Shelf Life REVIEW
November 11 SleepsOnTables Reviews REVIEW
November 12 Curling Up With A Good Book AUTHOR INTERVIEW
November 13 Angela’s Library SPOTLIGHT

Blog Tour, Giveaway and Review: The Last Necromancer

Tour banner for The Last Necromancer by C.J. Archer

About The Last Necromancer

Book cover for The Last Necromancer by C.J. Archer

Victorian London: For five years, Charlotte (Charlie) Holloway has lived as a boy in the slums. But when one theft too many gets her arrested, her only means of escape lies with a dead man. Charlie hasn’t raised a spirit since she first discovered she could do so five years ago. That time, her father banished her. This time, she brings even more trouble upon herself.

People are now hunting Charlie all over London, but only one man succeeds in capturing her.

Lincoln Fitzroy is the mysterious head of a secret organization on the trail of a madman who needs a necromancer to control his newly “made” creatures. There was only one known necromancer in the world – Charlotte – but now there appears to be two. Lincoln captures the willful Charlie in the hopes the boy will lead him to Charlotte. But what happens when he discovers the boy is in fact the young woman he’s been searching for all along? And will she agree to work for the man who held her against her will, and for an organization she doesn’t trust?

Because Lincoln and his ministry might be just as dangerous as the madman they’re hunting.

Review

A free copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Four-star rating

 

 

A good friend once told me a story about her kids and their annual beach vacation. On their very first trip to the shore, my friend exhausted herself chasing her young boys around the boardwalk, where they spent hours playing the arcade games and devouring ice cream cones and riding all the rides. The second year they went to the beach, my friend decided a more relaxing experience was in order and told the boys that the boardwalk attractions had been a carnival and that it hadn’t come back to town. They spent a quiet, restful time on a beach that was near the boardwalk but not in sight of it. My friend’s sons were none the wiser, not for that trip or all the subsequent ones. It wasn’t until the boys were teenagers that they learned the truth and realized they’d been missing out on boardwalk awesomeness for years.

That’s kind of how I feel about C.J. Archer – I’m amazed that I’ve been missing out on her books for so long. When I signed up to do The Last Necromancer blog tour, I mistakenly thought Archer was a debut author. It was only after I finished the book and did an excited Google search for the sequel that I discovered Archer has penned at least five series, as well as a handful of standalones. How did I not know these books existed?! Why am I only now learning about this awesome author?! So many wasted years!!!

The Last Necromancer, the first installment of the Ministry of Curiosities series, is the story of Charlie Holloway, a young girl who has the power to command the dead. As a result of this ability, Charlie has spent the past several years living on the street after being turned out by her religious father. By masquerading as a boy, Charlie manages to stay safe and inconspicuous….until the day she finds herself in a tough spot that forces her to reveal her abilities. As you might expect, reanimating a corpse doesn’t make the list of Top Ten Things to Do When Trying to Fly Under the Radar, so it’s not long before Charlie finds herself captured by a secret society who has big plans for her powers.

The society, known as the Ministry of Curiosities, investigates paranormal crimes and is in hot pursuit of a scientist bent on creating an army of corpses for his own nefarious purposes. In order for the scientist to create said army, he needs a necromancer, and it’s up to the Ministry to make sure that none fall into his hands. This means tracking down and securing any and all known necromancers, a task that the Ministry wants Charlie to help them with.

The relationships in The Last Necromancer are the key to this book’s success. First of all, there are the interactions between Charlie and Lincoln Fitzroy, the leader of the Ministry of Curiosities. There’s a mutual wariness between the two of them, but there’s also a growing attraction that makes for some fun scenes. I loved watching the two of them maneuver around one another, each trying to feel the other one out and discover their respective secrets. Fitzroy is cool, dangerous, and mysterious, and Charlie’s attempts to push past his defenses are alternately amusing and sexy.

Much as I liked the simmering tension between Fitzroy and Charlie, there’s another relationship in this story that I liked even more: the one between Seth and Gus, two of Fitzroy’s lackeys. It’s rare for a fictional friendship to top a fictional romance for me, but C.J. Archer is a pro at writing camaraderie and banter. I found myself anxiously awaiting scenes where Seth and Gus were present because I couldn’t wait to see what crazy things they’d say or do next. The two of them rib each other mercilessly and keep up a steady stream of jests throughout the book. Here’s one exchange between the two:

“That ain’t fair.”
“Life isn’t fair. If it were, I’d be spending my evenings deflowering virgins instead of cleaning up the sick of a gutter snipe.”
“Ha! You couldn’t deflower a flower.”
“That doesn’t make sense. And I’ll have you know, the ladies fell over themselves to get to me when I used to attend balls.”
“You had money and a good name then,” Gus said, striding for the door. “Course they’re going to throw themselves at you. Weren’t nothing to do with that ugly face of yours.”
Seth looked offended, and I couldn’t blame him. He wasn’t ugly in the least. He trailed after Gus. “I’ll have you know I had an indecent encounter with a lady three nights ago. And no, I didn’t pay her a penny. She gave herself freely to me.”
“Gave you the French disease for free, more like.” Gus’s chuckles faded as he closed the door.

Seth and Gus add wonderful humor to The Last Necromancer, but they’re not just there for comic relief. You don’t get a ton of backstory on either of the guys, but they still come across feeling like fully developed flesh-and-blood men. Their relationship feels so natural and comfortable, and it shines as one of the most outstanding aspects of this novel.

The paranormal parts of The Last Necromancer are well done, but I found myself much more invested in the people linked to the Ministry of Curiosities than in the curiosities themselves. The search for the evil scientist and the mystery of whether the Ministry can be trusted are interesting, but the personal lives of the ministry members are what really drew me into this story. I was so absorbed by watching Charlie try to crack Lincoln Fitzroy’s composure, or listening to Seth and Gus bicker back and forth, or speculating about the potential romantic history between Fitzroy and Lady Harcourt, that I couldn’t have cared less about the occult affairs of the Ministry. It could have been devoted to ornithology or flower arrangements, for all I cared – I would have loved this book regardless.

I had a lot of fun reading The Last Necromancer and can’t wait to see where Archer takes the characters in the next installment, Her Majesty’s Necromancer. If this series is any indication of how great Archer’s other books are, I need to read the rest of her work immediately.

And now, a few bonus quotes, from this book because they make me smile. J

“Think of us as the sword of the empire,” Seth said, puffing out his chest. “And Mr. Fitzroy is the pointy end.”

And:

“You’re a tosspot.”
He grunted. “I expect a gutter dweller to come up with something more offensive than that.”
“A fucking tosspot.”
“Better.”

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Author photo for C.J. ArcherAbout C.J. Archer

C.J. Archer has loved history and books for as long as she can remember and feels fortunate that she found a way to combine the two with her writing. Under her other name of Carolyn Scott, she has published contemporary short stories in women’s magazines, and she also writes romantic mystery novels under this name.

She has at various times worked as a librarian, IT support person and technical writer but in her heart has always been a fiction writer. She has won and placed in romance writing contests including winning RWAustralia’s Emerald Award in 2008 for the manuscript that went on to be released under the title HONOR BOUND. C.J. spent her early childhood in the dramatic beauty of outback Queensland, Australia, but now lives in suburban Melbourne with her husband and two children.

To be notified when C.J. releases a new book, subscribe to her newsletter from her website. She only sends out the newsletter when she releases a new book, and never spams.

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Giveaway

C.J. Archer is generously giving away a copy of The Last Necromancer! To enter the giveaway, which is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada, please fill out the Rafflecopter below.

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Blog Tour, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Praefatio by Georgia McBride

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Praefatio by Georgia McBride! As part of my stop today I’ll be sharing an excerpt from the novel as well as a chance for you to win a copy of this book for your very own. Enjoy!

About Praefatio

Book cover for Praefatio by Georgia McBride

Seventeen-year-old Grace Ann Miller is no ordinary runaway…

After having been missing for weeks, Grace is found on the estate of international rock star Gavin Vault, half-dressed and yelling for help. Over the course of twenty-four hours Grace holds an entire police force captive with incredulous tales of angels, demons, and war; intent on saving Gavin from lockup and her family from worry over her safety.

Authorities believe that Grace is ill, suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, the victim of assault and a severely fractured mind. Undeterred, Grace reveals the secret existence of dark angels on earth, an ancient prophecy and a wretched curse steeped in Biblical myth. Grace’s claims set into motion an ages-old war, resulting in blood, death and the loss of everything that matters. But are these the delusions of an immensely sick girl, or could Grace’s story actually be true?

Praefatio is Grace’s account of weeks on the run, falling in love and losing everything but her faith. When it’s sister against brother, light versus darkness, corrupt police officers, eager doctors and accusing journalists, against one girl with nothing but her word as proof: who do you believe?

Excerpt

Officer Sarah Bladen sighed heavily.

“When you’re ready to talk, let me know. In the meantime, I’ll go see if your mom’s here.” She threw the newspaper she’d been holding on the table in front of me and left the room. I grabbed it before it hit the tabletop microphone. I flipped the paper around to find Gavin’s photo under the headline: ROCK STAR ARRESTED IN DISAPPEARANCE OF MISSING PEAK GIRL

Gavin Vault, lead singer of Venus Unearthed, was arrested on Christmas Day for the kidnapping and attempted assault of Grace Miller, daughter of Broadway actress Vivienne Miller. Miss Miller, seventeen, was reported as a runaway two months ago by her legal guardians, Victoria and Kenneth Larson, with whom she’d been living since her father, Gabriel Miller, died in a motor vehicular accident. Mr. Vault is considered a person of interest in the disappearance of Miss Miller’s brother, Remiel, fifteen, and the Larson’s daughter, Jennifer, also fifteen. The two teens were reported missing three weeks ago. At the time of Mr. Vault’s arrest, Miss Miller was found on the Vault estate in questionable physical condition. She is believed to be suffering from a condition similar to Stockholm Syndrome.

Something in the article triggered a flood of coherent thoughts and memories. When I tell them, when I finally answer their questions, it’s not gonna be good. They thought I was protecting Gavin; that I was his victim somehow. What were they going to say when I told them what really happened? What was Mom going to think?

My stomach churned as I took the last sip of the liquid they proudly called “coffee.” The door to the interrogation room swung open. I stood to throw the coffee cup away, and saw Gavin leaning against the wall in the hallway across from me. My stomach churned again, and a great sadness followed.

Every bit the rock star and not a hair out of place, he looked as if he didn’t have a care in the world. Gavin laughed with the same officers who’d arrested him, and I noticed he was in the clothes he’d been wearing when they took him away in handcuffs. I wish I’d told him how good he looked earlier. I wish I’d done so many things differently.

Can you hear me? I tried speaking to him telepathically. He didn’t answer or even acknowledge that I’d spoken, so, I opened my mouth to call to him.

Our eyes met, and my mouth clamped shut. I was suddenly at a loss for words. One of the officers began leading him down the hall. I wanted to run to him, but my legs were jerked back into place by what felt like shackles, though there weren’t any on me. I tried again, but could only move about a foot from where I stood before being yanked back into place.

“Gavin!” I yelled. My voice echoed off the walls of the interrogation room and out into the hall, making me sound way more desperate than I’d intended.

Gavin lowered his head as if the sight was too much for him. Hot tears streamed down my face, stinging my skin. “Please, Gavin, wait!” He kept walking. as if Gavin didn’t know me at all.

Officer Bladen reentered the room and closed the door.

Still, I heard them laughing and talking outside; it surprised me that I could hear them through the walls. Or was I just hearing voices again?

“You really make a lasting impression, huh, Vault?” One of the cops joked, followed by laughter from the others. By his tone, they seemed like they could have been old high school buddies.

Rage and humiliation got the best of me. I lunged forward, only to be pulled backward by the invisible shackles around my feet.

My landing wasn’t as graceful as I would have liked. Refusing help from a rather amused Officer Bladen, I stood, dusted off my knees and took a seat.

***

We sat in silence, occasionally staring at one another, listening for anything at all. The only interruptions were Officer Bladen’s rubbing of her arm at seemingly timed intervals and the dings of her cell phone. The fly was gone. He caught the flight out when Bladen opened the door. Smart fly. I found myself missing his flitting and buzzing.

A knock on the doorframe brought us both out of our bored trances. I think I was actually counting Officer Bladen’s arm hairs at the time.

“Ms. Miller,” intoned a cop who poked his head in from the hallway. Leaning in slightly and holding onto the doorframe as if the room were contaminated, he continued, “Your mother’s arrived and is right outside. I suspect you’ll want to start with your videotaped statement now.” He crooked a long index finger and motioned for Officer Bladen to follow him out into the hall. And then she was gone, leaving the lingering smell of her perfume.

A voice came from somewhere on the other side of the two-way mirror.

“Hi, Honey. Go ahead with your statement. Everything’s going to be just fine.”

A red light on the video camera above the mirror came on. I hadn’t noticed it until now.

“Mom?” I stood, ready to leave with her.

“Sit down, Grace,” Mom’s voice ordered. “Just give your statement and this will all be over with.”

“Mom…you’re not coming in?” My voice was small, almost mousey. The sound of the metal chair scraping along the concrete floor echoed in my ears as I sank back down.

“No, honey, just please give them your statement so we can be done with this whole mess,” Mom had not come to get me at all.

“Miss Miller, please. Look into the camera, state your name for the record, and start with your earliest recollections leading up to when we found you tonight, how you met Mr. Vault, came to be on his property, anything he may have said about your brother, Remiel, or Jennifer Larson from as far back as you can remember. Just take your time, Grace. If you need a break, let me know,” Sergeant Mullane’s voice boomed through the overhead speakers.

I squirmed, took a deep breath, cleared my throat and spoke into the microphone, “Archangel Grace Ann Miller.” My voice was barely above a whisper. I could still take it back.

“I’m sorry, Grace. Can you repeat? Not sure we caught that,” Sergeant Mullane requested.

I know what I am. I know what I saw.

“Archangel Grace Ann Miller,” I repeated, only slightly louder.

“Did she say what I think she said?” It was Officer Bladen’s unmistakably snarky voice.

“Grace, I’m sorry. Can you please repeat your name and speak directly into the microphone in front of you?” Sergeant Mullane instructed.

“Archangel Grace Ann Miller,” I stated as loud as I could without yelling.

I didn’t hear anything after that.

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About Georgia McBrideAuthor photo for Georgia McBride

Georgia loves a good story. Whether it’s writing her own, or publishing someone else’s, story is at the heart of everything Georgia does. Founder of Month9Books, YALITCHAT.ORG and the weekly #yalitchat on Twitter, Georgia spends most of her days writing, editing, or talking about books. That is, of course, when she is not blasting really loud music or reading. She lives in North Carolina with four dogs, a frog, a parrot, two kids, parents and a husband. Praefatio is her first novel.

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Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to be one of five readers who will receive a digital copy of Praefatio The contest is open internationally, and winners will be selected on April 27, 2015.

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Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Review: I Heart Robot by Suzanne van Rooyen

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I’m so excited to be today’s stop on the blog tour for I Heart Robot by Suzanne van Rooyen!  This book is completely, utterly wonderful, and I’ve been dying to talk about it ever since I finished it last month. So, without further ado, here are a synopsis and review of I Heart Robot. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post for a chance to win a copy of the book!

About I Heart Robot

Book cover for I Heart Robot by Suzanne van Rooyen

Sixteen-year-old Tyri wants to be a musician and wants to be with someone who won’t belittle her musical aspirations.

Q-I-99 aka ‘Quinn’ lives in a scrap metal sanctuary with other rogue droids. While some use violence to make their voices heard, demanding equal rights for AI enhanced robots, Quinn just wants a moment on stage with his violin to show the humans that androids like him have more to offer than their processing power.

Tyri and Quinn’s worlds collide when they’re accepted by the Baldur Junior Philharmonic Orchestra. As the rift between robots and humans deepens, Tyri and Quinn’s love of music brings them closer together, making Tyri question where her loyalties lie and Quinn question his place in the world. With the city on the brink of civil war, Tyri and Quinn make a shocking discovery that turns their world inside out. Will their passion for music be enough to hold them together while everything else crumbles down around them, or will the truth of who they are tear them apart?

Review

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 10.01.47 PM
A free copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I Heart Robot is easily one of my favorite books of the year so far. It’s got wonderfully realistic characters – including a lovable protagonist – and raises fascinating questions about artificial intelligence and what it means to be human.

The book is set in a world where robots are utilized for everything from housekeeping to childcare to intelligence operations. They cook food, serve in the military, and even provide “companionship.” The most advanced robots are capable of thinking, feeling, and creating, but in spite of this they are still treated as nothing more than machines to be used – and in some cases abused – by their owners. It isn’t long before the robots begin to demand rights, and protests, uprisings, and violence abound.

Caught up in this civil unrest are the book’s two narrators, Tyri and Quinn. Tyri is a teenage girl torn between her passion for music and the expectation that she follow in her mother’s footsteps and pursue a career working with robotics and technology. Quinn is a run-away companion droid whose dearest wish is to be human and move people with his music. When the two musicians’ paths intersect at a prestigious orchestra, neither realizes just how big an impact they will have on each other’s lives and on the fight for robot autonomy.

I loved just about everything about I Heart Robot, but my favorite part would have to be Quinn. He’s such a sweetheart: adorable, shy, and vulnerable, with an air of innocence about him. Suzanne van Rooyen possesses a remarkable ability to demonstrate Quinn’s humanity without ever letting the reader forget he’s an android, and I enjoyed seeing how she translated human needs, wants, and habits in robots. Getting “drunk,” for example, involves a robot inserting a flash drive in their USB port and downloading a code that scrambles their electronics and leaves them with a pleasant buzz. Becoming tired is caused by a fuel cell that is running low on hydrogen, and forgetting something is due to a software glitch or processing error. Even feelings are a result of programming, and Quinn spends most of his money on emotion upgrades, “complex code packages unraveling emotions in [his] core and throughout [his] circuits.”

“The uncertainty in my voice sounds so natural, so human. Sometimes I forget that under the layers of synthetic flesh, I’m a snarl of electronics.”

This begs the question: Can a robot really be considered a person if their emotions and abilities are dictated by coding and programming? Does this make their feelings less valid? Aren’t humans also dependent on a kind of programming – DNA? How do personality and choice factor in? What exactly does it mean to be human? I loved exploring the answers to these fascinating questions!

“We have shared something more than a smile, but I cannot name it. A glitch in my software or some intangible human thing my AI simply cannot process.”

Something else that makes this book a stand-out is how believable and multi-dimensional the secondary characters are, especially Tyri’s boyfriend and best friend. They’re not the perfect friends or the asshole friends but the real friends, the ones who mess up and disappoint you and anger you but also love and support you. They’re insensitive and hurtful at times, caring and helpful at others. Life and friendship aren’t black and white, and I like that this book reflects that.

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About Suzanne van RooyenAuthor photo for Suzanne van Rooyen

Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Sweden and is busy making friends with the ghosts of her Viking ancestors. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When she grows up, she wants to be an elf – until then, she spends her time (when not writing) wall climbing, buying far too many books, and entertaining her shiba inu, Lego.

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Giveaway

Want to win a copy of Heart Robot? Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to be one of five readers who will receive a digital copy of Suzanne van Rooyen’s book.  The contest is open internationally, and winners will be selected on April 27, 2015.

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