Today on my blog I have The Woodlands blog tour. On my stop there is a spotlight, excerpt, guest post, and giveaway. So let's get started and meet the author Lauren:
Lauren Nicolle Taylor is a 33-year-old mother living in the tiny, lush town of
on the other side of the world in . She married her high school
sweetheart and has three very boisterous and individual children. She earned a
Bachelors degree in Health Sciences with Honours in Obstetrics and Gynecology
and majored in Psychology while minoring in Contemporary Australian Writing. Australia
After a disastrous attempt to build her dream house that left her family homeless, She found herself inexplicably drawn to the computer. She started writing, not really knowing where it may lead but ended up, eight weeks later, with the rough draft of The Woodlands.
In 2013, Lauren Nicolle Taylor accepted a publishing contract with Clean Teen Publishing. Her first published novel, The Woodlands, was released on August 30, 2013. Currently, Lauren has finished her manuscript for the second book in the series titled: The Wall, as well as partially completed the third book in the series which at this time is unnamed.
Rosa never thought she’d make it to sixteen...
When being unique puts you in danger and speaking your mind can be punishable by death, you might find yourself fighting to survive. Sixteen-year-old
lives in one of the eight enclosed cities of The Woodlands. Where the lone
survivors of a devastating race war have settled in the Russian wilderness
because it’s the only scrap of land left habitable on the planet. In these
circular cities, everyone must abide by the law or face harsh punishment. Rosa's inability to conform and obey the rules
brands her a leper and no one wants to be within two feet of her, until she
meets Joseph. He's blonde, fair-skinned, green-eyed, and the laid-back complete
opposite of Rosa. She's never met anyone quite
like him, and she knows that spells danger.
But differences weren't always a bad thing. People used to think being unique was one of the most treasured of traits to have. Now, the Superiors, who ruthlessly control the concrete cities with an iron fist, are obsessed with creating a 'raceless' race. They are convinced this is the only way to avoid another war. Any anomalies must be destroyed.
The Superiors are unstoppable and can do anything they want. After all, they are considered superheroes by the general public. But not everyone sees them this way. When they continue to abuse their power by collecting young girls for use in their secret, high-tech breeding program, they have no idea that one of those girls has somehow managed to make friends even she didn't know she had. And one man will stop at nothing to save her.
The helicopters were stationed at the rim of Ring One, just inside the low, sandy-colored wall that surrounded the center podium. They were waiting, crouching like black angels ready to lift us from this place, this hell, into an unknown world. A Guardian in black uniform with gold trim walked to the front of the choppers and signaled for us to come forward. Another one threw the bags in the cargo hold as he read from his list. Three girls and eight boys. Joseph’s name was not on the list. I felt a flood of relief that was washed away by panic. I was barely holding myself together as it was, seeing him was liable to make me fall to pieces. But he was supposed to be here.
Paulo’s hand was on my back, pushing me towards the helicopter like I was an uncooperative apple on the conveyor belt. I was trying so hard to muster up some courage. Today I was leaving the only home I had ever known. I would never see my mother again. I felt the anxiety rising, the crushing pain of the separation I was about to suffer. Suddenly the grey-washed town didn’t look so horrible. It was home after all, I guess. I told myself it was fear that was making me feel this way. It didn’t help.
My mother, who had been quietly following us around like a dazed puppy, pulled me to her in a tight embrace. She whispered, “Sorry,” in my ear before stepping back, fists clenched, showing the appropriate restraint. Some other mothers were crying and holding their children as the Guardian wrenched them away and led them onto the aircraft.
My mother’s face was my own, the way she moved mirrored my own movements and mannerisms, but that’s where the similarities ended. Although raised by this woman, I was nothing like her. For the first time, I saw things from her perspective. Getting into trouble all the time, never showing Paulo anything other than contempt. I must have been such a frustration to her.
They called my name. Paulo put his hands firmly on my shoulders, holding me in my place. His intense stare was impossible to look away from. “Don’t shame your family,” he spat at me. And with that, he made it easy to leave. I could feel the blades starting to move, my hair whipping around my face. I stripped away the fear and anxiety, leaving a girl that was fierce, empowered by his hatred.
“Don’t worry, Paulo, I’ll stir it up, make a little noise!” I shouted through the wind. The Guardian that let me sign up was watching me, probably regretting his decision. My mother was standing rigidly, her handmade skirt billowing as the air churned around her, her hand outstretched, pleading. I could see it in her eyes—please Rosa, don’t cause more trouble. She couldn’t stop me, no one ever could. Paulo was already walking away, his back to me. Behind my mother stood a man, one blue eye, one brown, smiling. He lifted his hand to wave. I raised my hand, confused. The chopper lurched awkwardly and I was knocked back into the cargo hold.
“Sit down!” the Guardian snapped at me. I quickly found a spot and strapped myself in. The others were staring at me, eyes wide. The Guardian tapped the pilot on the shoulder. “Wait, there’s one more.”
He bounded in, bag in hand, and casually threw it on the pile and scanned the seats. There was plenty of room on the other side but he squeezed his bulky form between me and the boy I was sitting next to.
Suddenly we were in the air. When the Guardian wasn’t looking, Joseph slipped his hand over mine. Warmth calmed the agitation I felt, like pouring gold over lead, glowing. We stayed that way the entire ride. Eyes forward. Impossibly trying to anticipate what may lie ahead.
What sets your book apart from others in the same genre?
The Woodlands is set in Russia as opposed to America. Although some Americans do survive and make it to the Woodland settlement, when writing this book I decided it would be unlikely America would be unscathed in a massive race war that has destroyed most of the planet. They are a world super power and all their major cities would be likely targets. It is also set in a very remote area that has been untouched by bombing not a large city that has miraculously escaped destruction.
Most of the characters are of mixed race background as one of the prime philosophies of Woodland society is the idea of ‘All Kind’. ‘All Kind’ is the term used to describe the perfect Woodland citizen who has blended racial characteristics to the point that you can’t tell what their origins are. For example, Rosa is half-Indian, half-Spanish.
The Woodland government is obsessed with creating a perfect, ‘raceless’ race. They collect troublemakers, as they’re not seen as fit for any other purpose and use them in their high-tech, breeding program. So although conceived in an extremely untraditional manner, the book still covers issues to do with unplanned, teen pregnancy.
Rosa is a strong and relatable character because she’s flawed. She’s tough yet vulnerable, loving yet guarded and fiercely loyal to the select few she does let in. The difference between Rosa and other main characters written in the same genre is: Rosa is a rebel right from the start. She’s an impulsive smart-mouth who doesn’t buy into the Woodlands philosophy. She doesn’t have a massive, mind shattering change of heart that sends her down a new path, she’s already there.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore many YA dystopian novels such as Hunger Games, Delirium and Under the Never Sky. I just wanted to write something that complimented the genre rather than copy something that was already out there.
Thank you for stopping by my blog today for The Woodlands tour. I would also like to say Thank You to Lauren for the guest post and say Thank You to Jaidis for letting me participate in this tour. Don't forget to enter the giveaway below.