I mentioned on The Book Blab a few months ago that one of my most anticipated releases for 2016 was a book called Firestorm, the final book in the Windstorm Trilogy written by the incredibly smart and talented (and also my real-life friend) Katie Robison.
Well, yesterday (June 7th) was the big release day, and as part of the festivities Katie asked if I would be willing to be part of the Firestorm release blog tour and host a giveaway of the trilogy here on Such Stuff. Obviously it took me about 0.0 seconds to enthusiastically agree, and so I present, my first ever giveaway!
More details on the giveaway are below, but first, I thought you might like to know a little bit about these books and the awesome author behind them, so I've got a brief mini-review on each book, and then an extra fun little interview with Katie.
The Windstorm Series is a YA fantasy trilogy that is a little bit hard for me to categorize. I would say it somewhat follows in the vein of The Hunger Games or Divergent, in that it has a strong female lead who finds herself mixed up in an epic war between powerful forces, but it's not a futuristic dystopia. Also, there are hints of the dreaded love triangle, but never fear, in this series the love story resolves itself with far more sense and less angst than other trilogies (for which I was super grateful). Some might call it paranormal, but it's not about vampires or werewolves. It's more "native" mythological (is that the way to phrase it?), but also involves some science-based magic (which I love!). Anyway, I found it to be totally unique and creative and I really enjoyed the world that Katie built in this series. I read each of these books when they came out (actually, I was an early reviewer for the first book, and she even mentions my name in the acknowledgments! Eek!), but to gear up for this release I reread all the books over the last few weeks (well, I guess I read the third one for the first time) so these reviews are fresh. It was a lot of fun to revisit this series, read it all together to see how the story flows, and finally get some closure. So here are my thoughts on each book.
Downburst is the first in the series, and I must admit, remains my favorite. I will say that I think it starts off a bit rough and takes a few chapters to get into the world of the rest of the series, but once you get there, it is so fun. I loved the summer camp feel, I loved the magic and chemistry between the characters, and I just loved the story. This one is such a fun and enjoyable read (I finished it in less than a day), but boy does it end on a cliff hanger...
Which brings us to Coiled Snake, the second book in the series. Once again, I think this one gets off to a slow start, but oh my goodness! My head was completely spinning by all the revelations in this book. Everything changes, from the setting (we move from Canada to New Zealand) to the entire conception of this world. Suddenly the bad guys become the good guys, the formerly good guys look like the bad guys, all these long lost family members pop up out of nowhere, and the intrigue gets ratcheted up by about 1,000. The world just gets so much bigger and more complex, and it was really fun to have everything flipped around like that. But this book ends with so many unanswered questions.
Much like the final Hunger Games book, this third and final book is quite a bit darker and heavier than the earlier books. Firestorm starts on a more depressing note, and the tone stays fairly heavy through most of the book. Also, it is action packed. There were a lot of unanswered questions at the end of Coiled Snake, and so a lot of things had to happen to find resolution. If you like your action fast and furious, this is the book for you, because the pace is fairly relentless until the very end when finally! Finally we get that happy ending! And can I just say, I suspected early on who the true villain of the story was, but he's such a likable character that I was in denial. I didn't want it to be him! It was sad. So be prepared for that unfortunate twist.
And now, for a chance to get to know Katie just a little bit yourself, she graciously answered a few questions for me.
1. Where did you get the idea for this series? What inspired you to write it?
Back in 2010, I was perusing a beautiful book of Maori legends that my grandmother had given me in high school. In the collection were several haunting stories that involved the wind, and as I read them, I had an idea for a unique fantasy element. The actual plot of the trilogy came after years of brainstorming, writing, and revising, and although the shape of the story has changed quite a bit from my original concept, I've tried to retain that ethereal, ancient feeling I got when I first read those myths.
2. Why a fantasy YA (is that how you would characterize it) trilogy? What about this genre and format appealed to you?
Even though I try to read widely, I've always been drawn to YA literature. The teenage years are such a liminal time when lots of important changes and decisions and growth take place, which means there's tremendous potential for character development. And while I wouldn't classify my trilogy as a Bildungsroman exactly, it is at its core a coming-of-age story. I decided to pair it with contemporary fantasy because I love reading about hidden worlds within our own (Harry Potter, anyone?), and it's a fun challenge as a writer to work within the constraints of reality. For The Windstorm Series, that meant I had to be thinking about physics, meteorology, geography, anthropology, and a host of other things in order for Kit's world to seem believable.
3. I happen to know you wrote this series while finishing up a Ph. D and being a full-time mom to the cutest little girl. When did you find the time to write?
Finding time was definitely a struggle. I really had to make writing a priority, and every spare second I could find, I'd work. I found writing on a laptop made things easier because I could carry it around the house with me and jot down a few words while my daughter was playing or watching a show or eating. Balancing creative work with academic work was another challenge. I basically had to alternate projects. So I'd work on a chapter of my dissertation, and my break from that would be working on my book. Lots of writing all the time!
4. What was your favorite part about writing/working on this series? What was your least favorite?
My favorite part was traveling to New Zealand to do research. :) That was an incredible experience, and it made things much more real for me. It also really enhanced my writing in Firestorm, I think. My second favorite part was just seeing the trilogy come together. I knew when I wrote Downburst (book one) where I wanted things to go, so actually getting there in Firestorm (book three), seeing all the pieces come together, was really satisfying. My least favorite part is always the first draft. Forcing words onto a blank page is super intimidating, but once I have a skeleton of a book, I really enjoy the process of fleshing it out--rewriting and moving things around to make everything work.
5. Now that the trilogy is complete, what are your plans? Do you have ideas for more books? What can we look forward to?
I do have a couple of books in the works, all stand-alones (I cursed myself many times for starting a trilogy while in the middle of a doctoral program!), but I'm taking my time with them. Having just finished this series and my Ph.D., I need a little break from deadlines. One of the books-in-progress is aimed at a slightly older audience--college-aged--and will draw on an idea I had while doing research for my dissertation. It takes place in Oxford, but it's still really early in the process, so I won't say any more than that. :) Hopefully I'll have more news to share soon!
And now, let's talk about this Giveaway! As part of the book release tour, Katie is graciously offering one of my readers the chance to win the complete trilogy (signed by the author), a book mark, a beautiful hand-crafted necklace, and a leather journal (pictured above)! Oh my gosh, you guys, can I just say that I wish I was eligible to enter my own giveaway, because how cool is that prize pack??? (Full disclosure: I gushed so much over the necklace, which she designed and made herself (I tell you, there is no end to her talent) that she graciously sent me my own like the amazing friend she is, and it's gorgeous and I wear it every chance I get).
Anyway, to enter, simply leave a comment below telling me about your favorite YA trilogy (or just why you'd be thrilled to win these awesome prizes). Make sure to leave an email address so that I can contact you should you win. This giveaway is open only to residents of the U.S. and Canada (sorry international readers, but there is an international giveaway for the e-book on Katie's website, so check that out if you're interested). Giveaway will be open for one week (closing Wednesday, June 15th at midnight). One entry per person.
Any other questions? Comments? Let me know. And you guys, seriously, this is the most awesome prize pack ever! Get excited, and good luck!
(P.S. You can check out the giveaways going on with the other blogs on the tour here if you're interested.)