Interview & 1st Giveaway!!!

Hello Bookworms! Today I have an interview with Heidi Loney. Author of Love and Cola Wars. Make sure to keep reading for your chance to win a copy of Love and Cola Wars as well as a tote bag!

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In a parallel world, the city of Toronto has privatized all aspects of public life, including schools, where the ultimate rivalry is between the two biggest cola corporations in the world.

Sixteen year old Coco Caro is a good girl from a good Coca Cola home. Just as summer is closing, she meets Vincente Moreno, an up-and-coming Olympic fencer who attends her rival high school, Pepsi Co. At first, Coco has no idea who Vincente is or where he comes from. But when she discovers his identity, Coco must choose her loyalties: avoid Vincente at all costs or see him in secret.

Enter into the picture Cody Warwick, handsome Microsoft college junior and fencing aficionado. Cody has the world eating out of his hands, but Coco knows there is more to him than meets the eye. When her father wants her to entertain Cody at his annual Coke barbeque, Coco must play the dutiful daughter against her better judgment. And when a group of student activists challenge the status-quo at Coke High, Coco questions her own core values.

Meanwhile, Vincente has troubles of his own. Coco’s cousin, fencing star Silvino Rodrigues, challenges Vincente to a fencing bout, for which Vincente forgoes because of his personal set of principles. Eventually, Vincente must use his training skills and daring to defend Coco’s honour in an ultimate fencing blow-out.

Filled with swoon-worthy romance and kick-ass sword fighting, LOVE AND COLA WARS is a satirical love story set in a parallel world of cola and corporation.

Thanks so much for granting us an interview! Let’s jump right into it.

1. How did you come up with the title?

My husband is the one who came up with the title. It’s very succinct, I think, since it is about love and it is about the cola wars.

2. How much of the book is realistic?

Some of the book is realistic, in terms of the location and the trials and tribulations of being a teenager.  Other than that, it’s pretty much made up.  But I think that’s what makes it fun.

3. If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would change about the book?

I don’t think so.  The book has evolved quite a bit since the first draft and I think it’s at the point that I’m happy with what it is.

4. How did the idea for the cover come about?

The cover was a stock cover that I found by a cover artist I had already worked with.  I knew essentially what the characters looked like and that couple fit the bill quite nicely.  The artist added in the Toronto skyline.

5. What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

The biggest challenge was the Olympic fencing, since I have never fenced a day in my life.  But I have to say that I loved that part of the book. It’s such a cool sport and not given the credit it truly deserves. And to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it portrayed in a Young Adult book or movie.

6. What inspired you to write your book?

It’s really a comment about my home town, but I think it’s also a universal truth that there is less money now than when I was growing up, so that it is getting to the time that corporations have to sponsor sporting, the arts and even our basic needs.

7. Were there any qualities that you shared with the main character?

I don’t think I share any qualities with the main character.  She’s quite shallow in some respects and not truly aware of what is going around her, but that’s not to say that she doesn’t grow and change.  Also, my parents were never domineering like that, but I had a friend growing up who was expected to follow the status-quo. Luckily, my parents were very supportive of my choices.

8. What advice do you have for other writers?

Just write.  I often hear people say that they would love to be a writer, but they never actually write.  It can be anything – a journal, a blog, or creative short stories.  And read too.

9. What book do you wish you had written?

I’m a big Jane Austin fan, so probably anything by her.  Persuasion is my favourite.  It was one of her later books and shows her at her very best.

10. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I read all of my reviews, good and bad, but I don’t respond to them unless the reviewer has sent me a link and then I thank them.  I’ve said this before – you just have to take it with a grain of salt. I come from theatre, where reviews can be down-right nasty with personal attacks.

With book reviews, not everyone will like everything you write and you just have to try not to take it personally.  Even Suzanne Collins has a bunch of one star reviews.

11. What literary character is most like you?

When I was a kid, I was definitely like Anne of Green Gables or Laura Ingalls – too precocious and chatty and always getting into scrapes. As I get older, I think I am most like Miranda from Sex in the City.  A little bit cynical, but a true friend and in the end, a real family person.

12. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

I think I liked the parts with Carmella, the Pepsi floozy that dumped Vince. I went to school with girls like that.

13. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

I think the hardest one was when someone thought one of my books sent a bad message to young people about body image, when I was actually stating the opposite. I felt that I had failed that reader, but there is nothing I could do about that at the time.  All I can do is try and develop my craft and build on what I’ve learned.

The best compliment was that my first book (Ravenous) was very original.  It’s a dystopian story, and I didn’t want it to be like the Hunger Games or Insurgence type story. I wanted it to be unique. 

14. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure! I live in Toronto (the setting for Love and Cola Wars) with my two boys and my husband Jack. I went to school for costume design and before becoming a writer, I worked in the theatre for fifteen years. That’s where I get my wacky imagination from!

15. Snow cones or popsicles?
I’ve never had a snow cone, so I’d have to say popsicles.

16. Where can we find more about you and your book?

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7025083.Heidi_Loney

http://www.heidiloney.com

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out this and other books by the author. Now we have a giveaway for you. It’s open to those in the U.S. and Canada only. All you have to do to enter is drop your email in the comment section and a lucky random person will be the winner.

Broken Symmetry by Dan Rix

Sixteen-year-old Blaire Adams can walk through mirrors. 

It’s called breaking symmetry. To her, a mirror feels like a film of honey. She can reach through it, grab things…even step inside. 

On the other side she lives every teenager’s fantasy: a universe all her own, zero consequences. She can kiss the hot guy, break into La Jolla mansions, steal things…even kill. When finished, she just steps back into reality and smashes the mirror—and in an instant erases every stupid thing she did. Gone. It never happened. 

But breaking symmetry is also dangerous. First there’s the drug-like rush she gets when passing through the glass, like a shot of adrenaline. She suspects it’s degrading her body, making a new copy of her each time. A reflection of a reflection, each one a little hazier. Then, of course, there’s the risk of getting cut off from reality. 

When she narrowly escapes a military quarantine zone with the San Diego Police Department hot on her heels only to discover her escape mirror littering the floor in shards, her worst fear is realized. Now, trapped in a broken reflection, she must flee through a mind-bending maze of mirrors, going deeper into the nightmare as she struggles to grasp a betrayal, uncover the chilling truth about her ability, and somehow find a way out of a dead-end universe that “never happened.” 

These police officers tell me I have been gone for eleven months,” he said. “This is not true—”
“Daddy, where’d you go?” I mumbled.
“Blaire, you have to listen to me,” he said. “I never vanished . . . you vanished.”

This book is the ULTIMATE mind bender. It’s so creepy and unbelievable and just sooo good! By the end of this book you’ll be scared of your own reflection. This story is refreshingly original for this genre and you will not want to put this down. I envy those reading this story for the first time. Rix has created a world that is so complex, yet so detailed and well thought out. Blaire is one of the more likable female characters ive come across. What I really enjoyed about her was that she recognized when she sounded like a brat. I loved how independent and take charge she was. What I also enjoyed was the well developed male character Damien as well as the character Charles. He was a very interesting and calculating antagonist. The plot was crazy and never deviated even with the introduction of a new love interest. The author never really let the romance take over the story. With the way the plot twists and turns you will be on a terrifying adventure until the last word. This is a must read for any sci fi lovers and all those YA fans out there looking for something new. Without a doubt this is a 5/5 story. It can be found at amazon.com.

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

Panic began as so many things in Carp, a poor town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer and there was nothing else to so.

Panic turned out to be a nice surprise. This was honestly a book I usually would’ve passed up and I’m glad I didn’t. It was a very realistic account of the type of things teenagers living in a poor small town do. The amazingly developed characters really make the story. In the beginning the story moves at a slow place as you begin to get the know the characters and the reasons for playing Panic. For Heather, one of the main narrators, it a spilt decision driven by a broken heart. That moment where you do something crazy after finding out bad news. As the story progresses and her life starts going on a different path she really grows up by the of the book. She blossoms and realizes her future is not hopeless like she thought it was. She just needed something to believe in. The second narrator Dodge is driven by revenge. I totally understood Doge and his need for justice. He lost something precious and wanted someone to pay. Secondary characters  Natalie and Bishop really add to the plot and the friendships between the characters were portrayed very realistically. There was jealousy, love, betrayal and moments where they faced a shift in friendships as well. All the things that a part of teenage relationships. As for Panic itself it didn’t really get good until about midway through the book when the stakes really get high. This book is actually a few different books in one. Heather’s story is more of coming of age. Dodge’s story is more of a revenge is not so sweet. It has despair, anger and just the psychological affects of growing up poor. Overall it was a really good read and the type of story where anyone can empathize with one of the characters. I recommend this book and would give it a 4/5.

Fine Young Gentleman by C.W. Slater

*CONTENT WARNING: coarse language, sexuality, graphic violence including murder, may be disturbing to some readers, mature themes. Not for children. Recommended for 16+* 

The controversial Young Adult suspense-thriller that dares to show how teenage boys REALLY think. Dark, satirical, intense and raw. This is a book you shouldn’t read if you are easily shocked or offended! 

Take a twisted journey inside the heads of three raunchy, impulsive sixteen-year-old boys at the elite Percy College School—where status-hungry moms blackmail students, and self-absorbed administrators will do anything to protect the school’s reputation. Craig is the popular golden boy struggling to hide a terrible secret. Jacob is a creepy emerging psychopath plotting to eliminate his rivals. Sex-obsessed Matt is desperate to lose his virginity at all costs. 

The first book of the upcoming Fine Young Gentlemen series.

Please note the content warning. This is not a Young Adult romance

“I know hate is a strong word and everything, but its okay: we’re teenagers.”

 

This was  an absolute heart stopping read! I advise you definitely heed the warning before reading this book. The title may be called Fine Young Gentleman but the things these guys get into falls no where under the gentleman category. This was a dark and intense look into the minds of three teenage boys. Some things were expected like constantly wanting to get laid but other things will totally blow your mind. For example the psychopathic tendencies one of the characters starts to exhibit and eventually gives into. The point of view changed between each boy as well as some secondary characters and the author was exceptional at capturing and conveying each of their voices. Throughout the story every one of the guys became a bad guy in some way so you won’t know which direction the story will take until the very end. It’s so unlike anything I’ve read before. It’s dark, hilarious, suspenseful, and edgy. It’s a must read and you won’t be disappointed. I give this a 5/5 rating and I absolutely recommend this read. Available at Amazon.com.

I was given a copy from the author for a honest review.

Contributor by Nicole Ciacchella

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Available at Amazon.com

When the Great Famine threatened the existence of mankind, the Creators saved humanity. Humanity has been their loyal subject ever since.

This history has been ingrained in seventeen-year-old Dara Morrow since her first day of Creator-sponsored school. Grateful for the life-giving necessities her Creator provides, Dara is thrilled to be one of three students chosen for an elite, year-long apprenticeship program. Now is her chance to prove herself a devoted Contributor.

But Dara’s competition is ruthless and will stop at nothing to win the competition. Worse yet, her exacting master has little patience for her.

Then Dara’s mother is seriously injured, and Dara realizes the price of being a Contributor: once you’ve outlived your usefulness, you’re discarded. Can Dara learn to manipulate the system to save not only herself, but everyone she loves?

“Are you still stewing?” Jonathan’s voice broke into her thoughts. “Seriously, Dara, you have nothing to worry about. You’re the best there is, and you know it.”
“I’m not sure that enough anymore, Jon. Things are so, so different from how they were in school,” She said slowly.
“You have to have faith in the system,” he told her firmly. “Remember, the system provides for those that provide for the system.”
“Right,” she said her voice faint. A chill ran down her spine and she shivered, hoping he wouldn’t notice.

Contributor is a solid and engaging YA/Dystopian novel.  Right from the start you pick up where Dara is entering into an apprenticeship program. What I really enjoyed about this story was that the plot is conceivable. People are dedicated completely to the Creators because they are taught to from the start, disposed of if they don’t, and kept from free thinking. The social and psychological aspects of living in a world such as this was clearly thought out by the author and pulled off brilliantly. It was so refreshing to read a YA/Dystopian that didn’t focus on a sappy love story. While Dara does have a boyfriend and their relationship is tested it’s in no way the main focal point of the plot. Instead it’s used as way to show the reader just how ingrained the teachings of the Creators are and how Dara could’ve turned out totally different if it wasn’t for situations that happened to her. I also enjoyed how the author didn’t need to use blood and gore to create an exciting world. As far as characters go they were all likable to me because I was able to understand why they were the way they were and did the things they did. The low point of this book for me was that you are thrown into the plot from the first page. There is no character development in the beginning or world building. I was also hoping for more of explanation to the events that lead up to the world being the way it was. I would definitely recommend this to all those Dystopian lovers AND haters out there. Overall I would give this a 4/5 rating.

External Forces by Deborah Rix

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In the future what’s left of America has closed its borders to everyone in favor of genetic preservation. They dispose of anyone who opposes the order as well as their biggest fear…the deviant. After overhearing her mother Jess learns she is deviant and will be discovered and killed. To avoid that fate she enlist in the Special Forces with her best friend Jay. But Jess quickly start to uncover secrets in their camp and cling to the hope of getting outside the borders to escape what may happen to her.

This book is beyond amazing and totally engaging right from the start. After reading so many YA/Dystopian stories it was refreshing to read something new and original. Even the romance part of the book takes a course that doesn’t follow the norm. There were a few times the story reminded me of other books. For example, The training Jess receives, her early relationship with Matt, and how she has something a little more special about her reminded me of Divergent. But that’s about where the similarities end. All of the characters were relatable and realistic and there was excellent character development in the book. I also enjoyed the use of science throughout the story and how believable it was. It touched on interesting themes towards the end of the book. The end of the story was let down for me though. I know the author plans to make this a series but it was too abrupt for me. I think it could’ve been wrapped up better than what it was and it didn’t exactly flow with the chapter either. Overall, the complex and well constructed plot definitely made for a page turner and a highly recommended book. I can’t wait for the sequel to this story!

I release my anger and give up my shaky control with relief. I am free. The heat gushes out from my center, I’m glowing, and everything around me slows down.