Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Blog Tour: Interview + Book Review: Shudder (Stitch Trilogy #2) by Samantha Durante

Today, we are honored to have Samantha Durante and her sophomore novel joining us for an interview and review! You can find the other blog tour stops here.

Shudder (Stitch Trilogy #2) by Samantha Durante
The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: June 15, 2013
Publisher: Self-Published

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.

1) Describe yourself in fifteen words or less.
Indie author, soon-to-be new mom, animal lover, former engineer, and sci-fi/fantasy fan extraordinaire!

2) What is the hardest part about being an author?
The hardest part is becoming an author to begin with.  As any aspiring author will tell you, getting up the nerve to sit down and actually write a book is daunting.  You open yourself up to so much potential criticism, and it takes a lot of work to get your name out there.  And beyond that, it’s just such a HUGE undertaking.  Even having done it a couple times, I still always get a little overwhelmed by the idea of writing an ENTIRE BOOK before I start my next one.  To get through that, I just try to break it down into manageable chunks by coming up with a very detailed chapter-by-chapter outline, and then I tackle one chapter at a time.  Before I know it, I have another book!

3) If you could go back in time, before you started writing, and give yourself advice, would you? If so, what would you say?
Don’t wait so damn long, butthead!  People always say to think about what you loved to do as a kid, and for me that was always writing.  But for some reason it took me 25 years to realize that and figure out a way to write professionally.  Even though I had some great professional experiences outside of the writing field, I wish I hadn’t been so blind to my own passions before that – I wasted a lot of time when I could have been honing my craft.  Oh well, better late than never, right?  :-)

4) What kind of books do you like to read?
I love to read almost any fiction, but I’m definitely partial to science fiction and fantasy, especially if it has a little romance.  I love any book that can take you to another world, and if it’s a multi-book series that I can lose myself in for days or weeks at a time, so much the better!

5) What does your writing space look like?
Hmm, well, I’ve found that I don’t have any one “space” – I write wherever I’m feeling it at the moment.  Could be in bed, could be at my little desk in my office overlooking a big lawn where sometimes deer like to frolic (so cute!), could be on the chaise in my sunroom, might even just be at the kitchen island or on my living room couch.  I made sure to buy a lightweight laptop so I can bring it with me wherever I happen to be!  I mainly just need quiet.  Music playing or people talking throw me off since I can’t hear the words in my head.  So I find I tend to get more done in the morning while my husband is still asleep…  I guess this will be harder to do once my baby arrives!

6) Which of your characters would you say you connect with the most?
Definitely Alessa, since she’s a lot like me.  I just try to put myself in her shoes and think about how I’d feel in her situation.  In fact, sometimes I find that I connect a little *too* well with her – my beta readers (who are all close family/friends) will be like, “Why is Alessa acting so ridiculous?” and I’m all like, “She’s not being ridiculous at all, this reaction makes perfect sense!”  It makes me wonder what they think of me sometimes!  Lol.

7) What's the hardest part about writing a book, and why is that difficult for you? (i.e. coming up with names, a story timeline, fleshing out characters)
I think the hardest part is just coming up with an original storyline.  Especially having read so much and watched so many shows/movies, I find it really difficult to not (even accidentally) rehash the same old tropes and plot lines.  I REALLY appreciate it when a storyline catches me off guard, so I like to try to give that to my readers.  But it’s very difficult to come up with something that’s totally different.  To get around this, I usually try to think about how I can combine things to make something new, like putting paranormal elements into a sci-fi story, since up to this point at least, I haven’t seen much blending of genres in any really popular series.

8) What's in store for you next?

Well the very next big thing for me is coming up in just a few short weeks – my first baby is due in October!  So that should be an adventure.  And after that, I’m planning to write the final book in the Stitch Trilogy, Stuck, due out sometime in 2014.  Beyond that, I’m just not sure!  I have some ideas for some standalone YA/New Adult sci-fi novels, so I’ll probably tackle one of those next.  But first I need to finish off this trilogy, as I’ve promised fans they won’t have to wait *too* long for the conclusion!  :-)

Shudder is the second book in Samantha Durante's thrilling dystopian trilogy. Lemme tell you, this book packs a punch. Durante immediate grabs the attention of the reader and doesn't give a moment's rest as she settles into the continuation of Stitch. This book was able to pull me out of my reading funk, and entertain me while I suffered from strep throat (which is the absolute worst; I want to cry just thinking about it). Shudder has everything needed to make a great novel: action, thrills, science and romance that'll make you swoon and sigh.

Alessa and Isaac may have escaped the Paragon, but they are about to be introduced to threats that may be even bigger. Set just after Stitch, Shudder follows the characters we came to know in book one as they face all sorts of obstacles, setbacks and dangers in hopes of finding a place to be happy, safe and free. This fast-paced novel will leave its audience on the edge of their seats, just waiting to know what's going to happen next!

This was really not what I was expecting before I picked up book one in this series, Stitch. Even though I really enjoyed Stitch, Shudder blew me out of the water. The book took a turn for crazy, and dragged me willingly along. It's fascinating watching everything unfold, and getting the background of this society. Seeing it from multiple perspectives only benefit the novel. Usually, it's difficult to keep up with characters in a third person point-of-view story (for me at least), but Shudder did not have the issue in the least. Durante is a fantastic storyteller. She created likable characters, introduced them in a way that made sense and put them into a truly engaging plot that will leave its readers breathless.

These characters have really grown on me, especially our main characters, Alessa and Isaac. Their insecurities are realistic and relatable, which is surprising considering the different eras from which we come. I loved that. Durante makes sure that though this is a futuristic story, it can tie back to the world we, the readers, know. I would say we see growth in all of the characters during Shudder. For some, this is a good thing. For others, not so much. It was interesting to watch each character mold to their experiences during this book. Watching these developments will really help the audience form a bond to them and make it easy for them to love the story. Though I didn't agree with all of their thoughts and actions, none of them seemed out of character or random. They are all very stable and lovable characters.

This author does an excellent job with dialogue and monologue, but the world-building still was a bit lacking. I immensely enjoyed the story, even though I wasn't always able to picture the setting. That's the only "flaw" this story had for me. Everything about this book was entertaining, and even though the end of the book left me utterly frustrated, I cannot wait to get my hands on the third and final novel, Stuck--too bad it won't be out until sometime in 2014. (I AM JUST DYING TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. WHY DID IT END THERE? WHY?!)

It had been awhile since I read Stitch, but I hadn't had the time to pick it up again before reading the sequel for this tour. Luckily, Durante recaps her debut extremely well. There is some "info-dumping," but rather than annoy, it fits in with the story very well. The author uses dialogue to remind the reader of what happened in the prequel, and like I previously stated, she is wonderful with dialogue. The interactions between characters never felt forced, strained, or awkward. The novel flows very well, thanks to Durante's skill. This series should attract all kinds of readers, and I'd definitely recommend it. 
I received a copy of this novel from the author for my honest opinion and review.
And big thanks to Samantha for joining us today, and for allowing us to be a part of her tour!

Interested in my review of Stitch? Check it out here.
And for a limited time, get your own copy of Stitch for $0.99 on Amazon.

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