Monday, May 8, 2017

Book Blitz for Breaker & the Sun by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Breaker & the Sun 
by Lauren Nicolle Taylor 
(Paper Stars #2) 
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: May 8th 2017
Genres: Historical, Young Adult


Times means nothing. It’s just the sun and moon changing places.

New from Lauren Nicolle Taylor, the best-selling author of Nora and Kettle, comes a fresh take on a classic tale.
Breaker Van Winkle is a recently returned Vietnam vet, struggling with PTSD and the difficulties of readjusting to civilian life with his mother. Sunny is a high-achieving eighteen-year-old Chinese-French immigrant who fled Vietnam during the war. Sunny is usually as cheerful as her name implies, but she has her struggles too. Haunted by violent memories of the bombing that killed her parents, and chafing under the rule of her eccentric grandmother, she finds solace deep in the Catskills, at a place she calls the Ugly Tree.
When Breaker stumbles upon Sunny and the Ugly Tree, things start to change. They are drawn to each other, and feel called to the tree. As they spend more time together and their relationship deepens, they notice that their time at the tree is becoming twisted somehow. Sunny’s mind yawns and her ambitions begin to slip away. Breaker feels safe and carefree, his memories finally burying themselves in the distant past. They are being lulled toward a tempting, peaceful sleep—but there is a cost to this magical serenity, and it may be more than either of them can bear…


EXCERPT 3 – First Meeting


Ama drives like a distracted demon, reminding me again that I need to go for my license. She waits until the last moment to turn and then pulls the wheel hard, swinging the car out and making me feel like my lungs are strapped into the backseat and my stomach is hiding in the trunk. I hold the side arm of the door and clutch my heart for the full half-hour journey. 

When we arrive at the grocery store, she slams the handbrake up before applying the footbrake. We lurch forward and then shoot back into the headrests. Once parked, she turns to stare at me, her teeth showing streaks of red lipstick. She holds out her hand. “Give me discount card,” she demands.
I fish it out of my wallet with a sigh. “You can’t bargain at the grocery store, Ama. Okay?”
She fixes her hair and slaps the steering wheel. “Ah baik! Too many rules from you. Can’t bargain. Can’t go to college in New York. Can’t sleep.”
I roll my eyes with my back turned. I know it’s hard for her. As a consulate brat, I spent a great deal of my childhood traveling with my parents between Asia, England, and France. But my grandparents had lived their whole life in Malaysia until the incident. And although they jumped at the chance to come here, I don’t think they realized how different it would be. 
I think my mother always bridged that gap for them. The one between the Western world and their own.
I instantly feel bad for rolling my eyes and link my arm with hers. She leans her head on my shoulder briefly before charging ahead. I trail after her, always scared of what she might do next.
My manager gives me a wary look when we walk through the doors. He knows Ama all too well. He follows a few paces behind her, ready to stop her squeezing the peaches too hard or testing the bounce of the citrus. 
I catch Cara’s eyes as she looks up from her cash register, and she gives me a quick wave and a smile. Her eyes are questioning. I try to somehow communicate with my eyebrows that I got in to Stanford. She adds up her customer’s total, hands them a docket, and then looks back to me. I nod, grinning widely.
“Oh my God!” she shouts, covering her mouth and apologizing to the man trying to pay her. She giggles and hands him his change, making all sorts of strange, excited faces in my direction while she bounces up and down at her station. 
I go out the back and punch in my timecard, one eye on Ama through the window in the door as she fills her trolley with out-of-date frozen yogurt.
When I come out, a tall, scruffy man bumps into my shoulder. He doesn’t look up or even apologize. Just keeps walking down the aisle like he didn’t even see me.
I’m about to yell out when I notice his army greens, and I suppress my reaction. Bursts of light shatter before my eyes and I blink, trying to shake that rubble from my hair. I reach out to steady myself against the shelf laden with Lucky Charms and Coco Pops and take a deep breath. The cool white wire shudders under my grip, and I cough. Dust. Blood. Light. One arm clad in army green, reaching for me, pulling me up and out of the hole.
I squint and focus on the normal things. The monkey on the cereal box. The little leprechaun waving his golden spoon…
Kez, the manager, clears his throat behind me. “Sunny,” he says, his voice brushing away the dust and bringing me back to fluorescent lights and beige linoleum floors. “I need you at the checkout.”
Shaking my head, I whisper, “Désolée. Sorry, Kez.” I wipe the sweat from my forehead. “I’ll be right there.”
He pretends to rearrange stock nearby as I collect myself. 
I take a deep breath, glance once more at the friendly cereal leprechaun, and move to the front. 
Once I’m sitting on my stool, staring at the cash register, I feel okay. I need to focus on the good things. NYU. Stanford. A new bed.
Cara slams the drawer shut on her register and checks for customers, then turns to me. “Did you get the scholarship?”
I grin, my smile a half moon hooked over my ears. “Uh-huh.”
Cara wiggles in her seat and squeals. “Yes! I knew you would, ya smart cow!”
I snort.
Ama sidles up to Cara’s register. “At least she no sound like stuck pig!” she says with a wicked grin as she pokes Cara in the side with her pointy fingernail, tickling her between her ribs.
Cara squeals some more, and she does kind of sound like a pig.
“Oh, Annie, stop!” Cara giggles while trying to reach for the yogurt. 
Ama cackles like a witch and leans in to pinch Cara’s plump face. “Such nice dimples!” Then she shoots me a nasty look. “Sunny too thin for dimples.” Like dimples are a necessary feature and I’ve done something wrong by not having them.
I ignore her and ask Cara, “So what about you?” 
Cara laughs as she packs Ama’s groceries into a bag. “Vassar, baby!”
“That’s so great, Cara.” After I congratulate her, I wait for Ama to respond.
She doesn’t, which means I’m going to hear about it later. Vassar is in New York. Just over a hundred miles away as opposed to thousands.
Cara blushes. She’s worked really hard, and I’m proud of her. “No scholarship or anything, but still… My folks are super happy about it.”
Ama pats Cara on the shoulder. “I been tutoring you for one year now with your French, and you smart girl. You good girl, good daughter too, Cara. Staying close to your family.”
And there it is.
I’m about to snap back at her when the guy in army greens approaches Cara’s counter. Since she’s still busy counting through Ama’s pile of quarters, I wave him over. He shakes his head and holds his place. Ama turns around and faces him, and he takes a step back from her. 
“Sir,” I say with a smile. “She’s going to take a while. Let me serve you.”
He sighs loudly, his broad shoulders pulling up and releasing violently. Reluctantly, he comes to my counter, slamming down a loaf of bread, milk, and a bunch of candy bars like they are about to bite him.
Staring at the black strip in front of us, he mutters, “A pack of smokes.”
“Which brand?” I ask.
“Any,” he snarls.
I jump a little, and he looks up at me. It’s a quick flash of regret balled with sadness that turns to fire like the click of a lighter. I find it hard to look away, his hatred linked to my gaze in chains. I grab a pack of Marlboros and add it to the total. “I, uh, that will be seven thirty-six, sir,” I stutter. “Do you want me to bag…?” I don’t get to finish as he’s already thrown a ten on the counter, grabbed his stuff, and is stalking toward the front door. 
“Keep the change,” he spits. 
The air feels heavy, not with dust for once, but with hate. Cara stares at me, and Ama is starting to turn red hot. 
I clench my fists and relax them, clench my fists and relax. I’ll never get used to it. The hate thrown at me simply because of the way I look. I swallow dryly and click the drawer closed, separating out the change and putting it in the tip jar to share with the others. 
Ama tries to catch up to him, running out the open door, but I can see out the glass that he’s almost running down the street. Like he can’t stand to be within a mile of someone like me, like both of us. 
Tears burn the back of my eyes. I kick the inside of my counter, bruising my toes. I can’t let this get to me. I won’t.
Ama gives a rude gesture to his disappearing back, and I laugh at the image of this little Chinese woman standing in the parking lot, flipping the bird with a bag of out-of-date yogurt in one hand.

I shout out to her, “Ama. Arrêtez! Stop! He’s a vet,” and watch her lower her arms slowly, rigidly, her temper flaring like wings wanting to fly.


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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