Jul 25, 2013

Review + Giveaway: Shudder by Samantha Durante

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.

Stitch was one of those books that, even months and months later, has stuck with me. Five glowing stars, but the thing that made it difficult to review was the fact that I didn’t want to spoil anything for those who hadn’t had the privilege of reading it. Same goes here, and it’s so hard not to just gush about all the things I love about this series so far! To sum it up, Samantha Durante has this wonderful talent for taking it to the next level. Topping it off with a writing style that keeps you hooked, Samantha never fails to throw you for a loop, smacking you head on with surprises that you never see coming.

We jump right into the action with Shudder with Alessa and Isaac on the run, doing their best to survive winter storms, attacks from strange creatures, and the fear of the disease that’s wiped out the population. Where unusual circumstances left you wondering what their truths really were in Stitch, we really get to attach ourselves to these characters in Shudder. Their relationship and the way they hold each other up is amazing. You can’t not fall in love with them.

I’m a huge fan of multiple perspectives. I know a lot of people tend to find it disorganized or confusing when reading, but trust me, Samantha Durante pulls it off in a way that I’m sure every reader can appreciate. We get to see different sides of the story, get to feel the different emotions from various points of view. Not only that, but we are able to become close not only to Alessa and Isaac, but other characters who play an important role. How can you not become invested in a story with all that at your fingertips?

One element of Samantha Durante’s novels that has struck me is the world building and description. You really do feel like you’re there with the characters in whatever environment they find themselves in. Not only that, but the history and the background that she lays out as a foundation is done really well, allowing the rest of the story to be built in a way that seems effortless.

Shudder builds and builds and builds, intriguing you from the very beginning, making you question and wonder to again slap you in the face with another twist. Nonstop action, beautifully written characters, and impeccable world-building, this is definitely a series to add to your shelf.

Samantha Durante lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband, Sudeep, and her cat, Gio. Formerly an engineer at Microsoft, Samantha left the world of software in 2010 to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams and a lifelong love of writing. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, Samantha is currently working full time for her company Medley Media Associates as a freelance business writer and communications consultant. The Stitch Trilogy is her debut series. Learn more about Samantha at www.samanthadurante.com.

Twitter: @SamanthaDurante | Hashtag suggestions: #Stitch, #StitchTrilogy, #Shudder
LibraryThing: Stitch | Shudder | Author Samantha Durante

Jul 18, 2013

Tour Stop: An Endless Summer by CJ Duggan

Sean looked out over the lake, squinting against the sunlight. He turned to me, his expression sobering as his eyes flicked over my face in a silent study.

“Come on Amy, I saved you once, I’ll save you again.”
I met his stare unflinchingly. “I don’t need saving.”
A wicked grin formed slowly. “Don’t you?”

After a rebellious summer night that almost claimed her life, Amy Henderson – the Onslow publican’s only daughter – is sent away to suffer a fate far worse than any other punishment:

Boarding School.

Three years on, a now nineteen-year-old Amy returns to Onslow for the summer. What once was a cauldron of activity with live bands, hot meals and cold beers, the Onslow Hotel now lies dark, deserted and depressing. All fond childhood memories of loitering on the hotel stairs and eavesdropping on customers’ colourful conversations are in the distant past.

How had her dad let it come to this?

With the new threat of putting the Onslow up for sale, Amy reluctantly turns to a local tradesman for help: Sean Murphy, the very same Onslow boy who saved her life all those years ago. With his help and that of some old friends, the task is clear: spend the summer building the hotel back up to its former glory or lose it for good.

In an endless summer, Amy soon realises that sometimes in order to save your future, you have to face your past, even if it’s in the form of a smug, gorgeous Onslow boy.

C.J. Duggan has a writing style and an ability to tell a story that makes it impossible to put the freaking book down. I lost a lot of sleep reading The Boys of Summer, and I expected nothing less of An Endless Summer

Sean is one of my favorite characters in this amazing series. When I imagine him, all I can see is this mischievous glint in his blue eyes, and the rest is history. As for Amy, not so much. When a Henderson is described as pig-headed, I'd say that's an understatement. Amy is the queen of stubborn. So much so, that I kinda wanted to slap her around a bit to make her come to her senses and quit denying herself. 

The connection between Sean and Amy is... push and pull. Don't get me wrong, there's definitely a spark that ignites a roaring flame, but holy crap, Amy does all she can to douse the heat. Thank goodness for Sean and his ability to keep it cool in the awkward situations Amy creates in her head.

The Australian setting and lingo are fascinating to me. Being an all-American girl, I had to look up a few of the words and try to imagine my butchered version of an Australian accent, but I loved being taken somewhere I've never been before. C.J. Duggan immerses you in this world of the Onslow and it feels like you're on summer vacation.

The characters in this series are intense. They've got their complications and conflicted emotions, and it's impossible not to love every one of them. Even Chris with his bossiness and constant grouchy aura. I felt a connection with Sean and Amy in the first book of the series, so reading a story about the two of them only made that stronger. 

I can't wait to see what Duggan comes up with next. Highly recommend!

C.J Duggan is an Australian author who lives with her husband in a rural border town of New South Wales, Australia.
The Boys of Summer is Book One in her Mature Young Adult Romance Series.
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