Thursday, 15 August 2013

Blog Tour: Shudder (Stitch Trilogy #2) - Samantha Durante/Guest Post & Book Review (250).

Welcome to my stop on the Shudder Blog Tour, I'm excited to take part.
The Guest Post is situated after the review.

Shudder (Stitch Trilogy #2)

Publication: 15th June 2013
Publisher: Self Published
Pages: 348
Genre: Science-Fiction/Dystopian
Age Appropriate: Young Adult
Buy It: Amazon  Barnes & Noble
It's only been three days, and already everything is different.

Paragon is behind her, but somehow Alessa's life may actually have gotten worse. In a wrenching twist of fate, she traded the safety and companionship of her sister for that of her true love, losing a vital partner she'd counted on for the ordeal ahead. Her comfortable university life is but a distant memory, as she faces the prospect of surviving a bleak winter on the meager remains of a ravaged world. And if she'd thought she'd tasted fear upon seeing a ghost, she was wrong; now she's discovering new depths of terror while being hunted by a deadly virus and a terrifying pack of superhuman creatures thirsting for blood.

And then there are the visions.

The memory-altering "stitch" unlocked something in Alessa's mind, and now she can't shake the constant flood of alien feelings ransacking her emotions. Haunting memories of an old flame are driving a deep and painful rift into her once-secure relationship. And a series of staggering revelations about the treacherous Engineers - and the bone-chilling deceit shrouding her world's sorry history - will soon leave Alessa reeling...

The second installment in the electrifying Stitch Trilogy, Shudder follows Samantha Durante's shocking and innovative debut with a heart-pounding, paranormal-dusted dystopian adventure sure to keep the pages turning.

My Thoughts.

Shudder is the second book in the Stitch Trilogy by Samantha Durante, I was a part of the blog tour for the first book Stitch (find my review here), which I absolutely loved, so when I was asked to take part in the blog tour for Shudder I jumped at the chance.

Set just three days after the finale of the first book and Alessa and Isaac are scouting for a new base for the Rebels to abide while they plan their attack on Paragon.

Along the way it's anything but a smooth journey, having to contend with creatures that are out to kill them, Alessa suffering from debilitating thoughts and feelings of people before they died, that render her at times immobile, and also the chance that they could both contract the deadly virus that killed the vast majority of the worldwide population.

Interspersed throughout we have a couple of separate storylines going on as well, a girl with amnesia given the name Phoenix in hospital visited by the members of the Ruling Class, explaining to her the history of how Paragon came to be, and their involvement and reasons for why they did the things the way they did, but do they have ulterior motives behind these visits?

We also follow the story of a teenage boy and girl who are being held prisoner in the Paragon prison and their interaction with each other whilst jailed there.

Of course just like the first book, Shudder has an ending that will have you desperate to get your hands on the next book Stuck.

I look forward to continuing on with this series, and to see what else is in store for us readers.

I give this 3.5/5 Stars.

Haven’t read the first book in the series? Check it out on Amazon and Goodreads.  Just $0.99!

Guest Post.
Guest Post: Celebrating the Stitch 1-Year Anniversary by Samantha Durante, author of the Stitch Trilogy

Wow.  Has it really been a year already??

One year ago today I kicked off the blog tour for my first ever book, Stitch (Stitch Trilogy, Book 1), and even 365 days later, it’s still kind of surreal.  I wrote a book?  And people read it??  So I’m really an author???

And now, almost 10 weeks into the Shudder Blog Tour, I still can’t quite believe that I’ve written two books, and even more people have read them, and said people are now asking me where the third one is (it’s coming, I promise!).

It’s been quite the year – that much is for sure.  Not only did I finally achieve a lifelong dream of publishing a book, but in the same 12 months, I also got married, bought a house, and, oh – got pregnant with my first child (due in Oct!).  So lots of change going on in my life, but all good things as well.  :-)

Looking at my life today, I have to say that I’m quite content.  If I can just manage to continue doing the things I’m doing today – writing, raising a family, loving my husband and family and friends, and just generally enjoying each day as it comes – I will be a very happy girl for many years to come.

But it wasn’t always an easy road to get here.  It required (like anything else) a little sacrifice, a lot of hard work, and healthy dash of blind faith that if I just follow my heart, everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.  So what have I learned in my journey?  Here are the top three lessons:

1. Do what you love.  I know, I know – people say this all the time.  Easier said than done.  It took me years (like 25 years!) to even realize *what* it is that I love to do (write).  So I know how difficult this sounds, and I’m not going to lie, it takes a lot of introspection, listening to the people around you, following your gut even when it’s scary, and just a bit of dumb luck to figure this out.

But I can also promise you this – if you manage to find a way to make your passions your life instead of just trying to squeeze them into your life, you will be infinitely happier.  Because suddenly, you’ll look forward to what you have to do every day, even when it’s stressful.  I still spend plenty of time agonizing over how much stuff I need to write, but when I sit down and actually do it, all that stress magically disappears.  I lose myself in the work, because I truly enjoy it.  And I can’t say that about any other job I’ve ever held.

2. Take risks.  Okay, this one is even scarier.  But the fact of the matter is, it HAS to be done.  You will never move forward in your life if you don’t just suck it up and go for what you want.  Once you’ve figured out what you love to do, you need to make those things a priority, and you can’t let yourself make excuses.

A few years ago, I knew three things: 1. I wanted to live closer to my family again, 2. I wanted to start my own family and have a flexible enough lifestyle to be able to stay home with my kids, and 3. I wanted to write again, something I hadn’t spent much time doing since I was a kid.  So what did I have to do to make that happen?  Drop my entire life and move across the country, which included leaving a secure six-figure career in software engineering and convincing my then-boyfriend (now husband) to leave his secure six-figure software engineering job, and then find us both new jobs, which in my case meant starting a business in a field I had absolutely no credentials in and did not know if I could succeed at.

I’m not going to lie – it was scary.  And it didn’t help that every person I told about my plans clearly thought I was crazy.  But I had to do it – I had to try, or I would have been stuck in a wonderful life that I could never truly enjoy because it wasn’t the life I wanted.  So I repeated to myself as a mantra, “What’s the worst that could happen?” and just went for it.

And you know what?  It was the best thing I ever did.  Did everything work out exactly as planned?  Definitely not – there were some serious hurdles along the way, and points at which I wasn’t sure it was going to work out at all.  But in the end, it was all okay.  Sure, I took a $50k+ pay cut.  But all of a sudden I had something much more valuable: time, to do with what I want – to write, to be with my family, to live – and I was happier, healthier, and for the first time in my life, content.  From there on, everything else just came together.  But only because one day I said, “Damn the consequences,” and decided to take a risk.

3. Reevaluate, and break the rules as needed.  Things change – life changes.  Don’t be afraid to stop and take a look at where you are and reassess whether your choices are still working for you.  The hardest part about doing this is managing other people’s expectations – you’ve laid out a plan, taken some risks to get there, and now you feel like you need to stick to it.  But don’t pigeonhole yourself into doing something that’s not right for you anymore.  Sometimes you need to evolve with the world around you.

In my case, I didn’t actually set out to become an author.  Writing books was more of a fantasy for me than anything – I didn’t really ever think I’d do it, but it was just something that I kept on the backburner, in case I “ever had time to try.”  When I started, I thought my writing career would be 50% technical/business writing (to pay the bills) and 50% fun journalistic magazine-type writing (to give me something creative that I would enjoy doing).

Turns out, I never did any magazine writing.  I didn’t care to badly enough to put in the time to get those types of jobs, and the business writing ended up being less technical, more fun, and more plentiful than I expected.  So I built a business doing that.  And then one day, I realized I actually did have time to try my hand at a novel, and I started writing Stitch.  But I wasn’t sure enough about it to invest the years needed to succeed in the traditional publishing path, so instead I broke a few rules and self-published, managing my writing career as my own agent/editor/publisher/publicist/etc.  Even though at the time that wasn’t the way things are *usually* done, it worked for me, so I did it.  (And now it’s becoming a lot more common for other people, too!)

After that experience, I realized that it wasn’t business writing or magazines that I was interested in – I actually wanted to write books for a living!  So now I’m running my business and simultaneously working on building a career as an author.  I’m hoping to someday be able to shift my “work” to 90% books and 10% business writing (just enough to keep my name out there so that if I ever needed to, I could quickly go back to work full-time).  But I’m not quite there yet.

And you know what?  That’s okay.  I’m evolving.  Things are changing.  And who knows, maybe once this baby shows up life is going to throw me a curveball.  And if it does, here’s what I’ll do: figure out what I want to do, take some risks and break some rules to make it happen, then reevaluate.  Because if there’s anything the past year has taught me, it’s that that works.

So here’s to Stitch’s One Year Anniversary, and to all the bumps and bruises along the way that made this day a reality.  I hope you find your “Stitch” too – and when you do, don’t let anything stand in your way.

About Samantha

As an avid lifelong reader of fiction of all sorts, there’s nothing I find more engrossing than an epic sci-fi/fantasy/romance series. I’ve whiled away countless weekends of my life immersed in richly-woven worlds that someone else was kind enough to put on paper, and I’ve always felt a debt of gratitude to these wonderful authors – J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Suzanne Collins, Christopher Paolini, Sharon Shinn, C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, and most recently Lauren Oliver and Veronica Roth, to name a few.
The Stitch Trilogy – my very debut series – is my humble attempt to return the favor. My dream is to bring the same enjoyment and delight to readers that these authors have brought to my life. If you find yourself staying up just a little too late to finish another chapter, or sneaking into the bathroom at work to read when things are slow, I will know I have done my job!
I currently live in Westchester County, New York with the two loves of my life – my husband, Sudeep, and my cat, Gio. In addition to penning novels, I am also a freelance business writer and communications consultant at my company, Medley Media Associates.
Prior to pursuing my passion for writing full time, I spent three years in software engineering at Microsoft and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, where I studied Systems Engineering, Management, Entrepreneurship, and Operations & Information Management at Penn Engineering and Wharton business school.  I was also valedictorian of Brewster High School in Brewster, NY, class of 2003.
I love to hear from readers! I do my best to answer each and every email I receive, so please don’t hesitate to send me comments, questions, or even suggestions for what you’d like to see in future books.  You can also find me on Facebook at my author and Stitch Trilogy fan pages, onGoodreads and Twitter, and on my Amazon Author page.
Are you a new author?  Check out the Writer Resources page for helpful advice and a recounting of my experience publishing my first book!
Learn more about Samantha in Author Interviews featured here!

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