Hello! And welcome to Book Nerd Reviews’ stop on the STRAY Blog Tour!
The STRAY Blog Tour will be occuring 1 – 7 September, and there are a lot of amazing Aussie blogs bringing you posts about Rachael Craw’s next instalment in the Spark series and posts from Rachael herself!. This tour will include reviews, Q&As and guest posts!
As well as my review for Stray, Rachael is joining us here at Book Nerd Reviews with a guest post about walking the line on social media. Is she an author, reader or friend? Are you a reader or friend? Where is the line… and how blurry is it?
Welcome to the tour… I hope you enjoy the journey.
Synopsis: It’s hard to remember hating anything as much as I hate Affinity; a bone-deep loathing for the faceless unknown and the concrete walls of my own DNA.
Evie is a Shield: designed to kill in order to protect, and the Affinity Project have finally come for her. But Evie isn’t ready for the sinister organisation to take control of her life, her body, her mind. She isn’t ready to follow their rules about who may live and who must die – not when it condemns the innocent. She has one option: risk losing everything and everyone – including Jamie – and run.
Rachael Craw: reader, dreamer, joker, singer, believer, writer and lover of words.
I grew up in Christchurch, New Zealand, studied Classical Studies and Drama, became an English teacher and dabbled in acting. I even auditioned for Shortland Street. Spark is my debut YA sci-fi/crossover novel, the first in a trilogy being published by Walker Books Australia.
Where to find Rachael:
Also, you can join the #SparkArmy on Goodreads!
Intense, desperate, exhilarating, intriguing, dark, action-packed and complex, Stray will rattle your nerves and will certainly cause sparks!
After the events of Spark, Evie’s life has been turned upside down. She found out she was a Shield, genetically modified to be the ultimate protector of Sparks – the innocent people who have a murderous Stray after them. But as well as this life-changing discovery, she found out that the mother she loved and lost was hiding a very big secret, and her trusted Aunty is more than she ever imagined, and that she has a twin brother, a Stray – the same boy who tried to kill her best friend.
But she saved both her friend and brother, and she is with the boy she loves, what could possibly go wrong?
Well, the Affinity Project. The people who once find out about her will try to control her, kill her recently-found and newly-cured brother, and of course, tear her away from her true love Jamie. The Affinity Project is exactly what could go wrong.
Stray takes us on a journey of desperation. As much as Evie fears that the Affinity Project will take control of her life, she is more fearful they will find out about her twin-brother Aidan. Although Evie truly believes that Aidan has been deactivated and no longer a threat, she has to prove it before the Affinity Project discover his existence and kill him for being something he never asked to be. But also at risk is Evie’s relationship with Jamie. Not only is this relationship forbidden by the Affinity Project, but there is the added stress of her wanting to save the one person who Jamie is not only trained to want to see dead, but also the one who committed an unforgiveable act against him. Will Jamie be able to come to terms with the fact that Evie wants to save the very person who tried to kill his sister?
Evie is determined to protect her brother from the Affinity Project and to prove that he has been deactivated. But to save her brother she must make some very hard decisions; she must betray those she loves the most, she must endanger those she cherishes and she must risk more than her own life. I truly admire Evie’s drive and determination. Sure, there were moments when I thought “really????” about some silly decision that she made on the spur of the moment, or secrets she withheld, but all of those can certainly be overlooked. Evie is still a character I love, she is loyal, sassy and kick ass. She is a great super-hero. She is strong, loyal and willing to risk everything to do what she believes is right.
Stray is the ultimate sequel to Spark. We get so much more about this world. Firstly, we get to learn a lot more about the Affinity Project, and some of the amazingly disturbing things they do to not only protect themselves but to control their subjects. And WOW! Some things we learn about this organisation, and the people within it, are mind-blowing! Scary, wonderful, deceitful, hopeful and disturbing.
When it comes to the characters, Stray jumps from strength to strength. I love all the secondary characters within this story, and every character has a purpose and their own complexities. We get to meet some wonderful (and disturbing) new characters, as well as expanding on some of our favourites from Spark. There are three things I will say about certain characters: Jamie is so distractingly divine that even some things he says can be forgiven. The Proxy – OMG! (I can’t say much more due to spoilers). And Ethan. Ethan is the one that makes me realise that I am way too old to swoon over Jamie – so I am now on a mission to get an Ethan shirtless scene so I can book-perv in an age-appropriate way.
I am ridiculously impressed with this sequel. I loved the complexities within this story: the DNA, the Affinity Project, the relationships… It just keeps getting better and better. The story is fast-paced with loads of action, snarky banter in all the right places, and just the right amount of swoon. The desperation is palpable, emotions are running strong and your heart may just be broken a little – all this and more in this roller-coaster of a story! There are twists and turns that you won’t see coming, some will make you want to laugh, others will make you cry, maybe even both.
Now the ending. Well, I am not going to say too much about it (*eyes Rachael Craw sideways*) but there is certainly enough to keep you itching for Shield! There are just enough unanswered questions to keep you captivated without totally frustrating you :). You will however want the next book now!
This is a must read series!!! Run. Get it. Devour it. Then come join the #SPARKARMY!
Guest Post from Rachael:
Walking the Line on Social Media
Being a published author is weird. You’re kind of public, you’re kind of not. Like when I was a teacher – you become a part of a subset of society about which certain expectations are held. Teachers should … Teachers are … Teachers always … There are professional standards. Etiquette.
Being an author has a bit of this. You are not the same as your readers. You’re sort of other. Specifically when promoting your work you have to conduct yourself with professional integrity. There’s etiquette. But unlike being a teacher there’s a blurring of lines, especially through social media, where readers become friends. You become a friend. Now, when I was a teacher, I had great relationships with my students, some of them went on to become friends of mine after they left school and we stayed in contact. The author reader relationship doesn’t have these delineating moments. It’s something that seems to happen over time and interaction.
For instance several of the YA bloggers who first reviewed Spark have over the last year become ‘social media buddies’ by which I mean, interweb friends – we share no real world engagement. It’s simply Twitter, Facebook, generally book related (not necessarily my book) chat. I am a friendly person. I love to laugh. Social media provides me with a form of extrovert-ism no longer available to me in daily life due to being a hermit who pretty much lives in her office making things up and writing them into books. So being able to get online and break the monotony of my excessive alone time with my brain is a relief, it diffuses tension, gives me a chance to laugh, relax, think about something other than my imaginary world.
While Spark may have been the means by which I made these connections it isn’t the thing that maintains them. I get to fangirl with my online book loving friends about other writers/books/films/music. I get to shoot the breeze, have a laugh, share memes, exchange thoughts on popular culture, discover other shared fandoms (Buffy, Supernatural, Marvel, Star Wars, general geekery).
My relationship with other online authors is slightly different, we have a platform of shared experience that connects us, but again, our writing may be the common denominator but it isn’t the thing that maintains the relationship. It’s generally all the goofing around that brings me back. However, there is a wonderful comradeship and support to be found with other authors who understand what you’re going through, what you’re dreaming of, hoping for, struggling towards.
In terms of personal ‘rules’ for how I conduct myself online, I’m sure it’s no different than anyone else, be respectful, don’t engage with negativity, be kind. I am so soooo lucky to have the support that I have but I am careful not to ‘expect’, ‘demand’, ‘manipulate’ or ‘use’ my buddies for promotion. I respect my blogger friends and their integrity and intelligence. I don’t expect them to love everything I produce. I always express thanks and gratitude to bloggers who give up their time and blog space to promote my work. They don’t get paid. They sacrifice their time. They give their creativity and energy to help, because they love books. I also try to give back by helping promote their blogs – as an expression of gratitude.
The YA community is unique, readers and writers together. It’s vocal, often loud, frequently flailing, sometimes crazy, hugely encouraging and truly inspiring. I feel blessed to be a part of it.
Thank you Rachael for stopping buy and telling us how you walk the line of social media!!
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