{Review & Design Vlog} STITCHING SNOW by R.C. Lewis

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O P E N I N G   H O O K:

   IT TOOK ME SEVENTEEN seconds to decide Jarom Thacker's reputation as the sharpest fighter on Thanda had been exaggerated. At twice my size--and age--he was quick, forcing me to move or risk getting pinned against the cage, but he made a rookie mistake. Like everyone else who came through Mining Settlement Forty-Two, he aimed for my gut. So predictable. 
   Wouldn't want to botch the pretty girl's face, right? Idiot.
   I blocked him on the left, but sweat stinging my eyes blinded me to his fist slamming into my right side. Pain flared through my ribs. The fire spurred me on, and I slipped Thacker's grip when he grabbed at my arm.
   Unlike him, I had no qualms about uglifying him further. The heel of my palm slammed into his nose with a satisfying crunch despite the cushioning of my shock-fiber hand-wraps, drawing a chorus of sympathetic grunts from the crowd. He staggered back as the coppery smell of blood wove into the usual stench of the cage.
(Page 1, US hardcover edition)

This review was first posted at A Backwards Story on January 15, 2015.
I usually don't re-post after such a short span of time, but hey--it's FTF!
AND I'm interviewing the author today.
AND it's one of my favorite reviews that I've written so far this year.
AND I did a vlog because the cover is so gorgeous.
So...forgive me? ^.~ 

 Today, I'm interviewing STITCHING SNOW Author R.C. Lewis.

I've experienced many different emotions with STITCHING SNOW, the debut novel from R.C. Lewis. When I first heard about it and saw the apple on the cover paired with the word "Snow," I went, "Oh, a fairy tale?" Then I read the summary, and it sounded like a big sci-fi story that wasn't about a fairy tale at all, so...I kind of forgot about it. Kat and I picked this up at BEA, where the ARC was clearly listing the book as a fairy tale retelling. Kat started reading it right away and loved it. I was going to read it, then I heard someone complaining it was too much like Marissa Meyer's CINDER, and it threw me off. You know how much I enjoy her books. (And honestly? STITCHING SNOW is nothing like it, so don't have that fear! Yes, both Essie and Cinder are good at fixing mechanical things, and both are set in space, but the two books are so different from one another!) I had it sitting in my TBR pile for most of the year and never had a chance to get to it until last month. How tragic that I never read it sooner! I really enjoyed the unique world and Essie is such a great, spunky character. The twists in the well-known Snow White story are far from traditonal, and the story was engaging and hard to put down. I read this practically in one sitting!

Essie is hiding a dark, deadly secret. She's been hiding on Thanda for years, ingraining herself in the local community. She's great at fixing mechanical things, and earns extra shares through cage fighting. Her droids are top notch, and she's made Mining Settlement Forty-Two top notch due to her inventions. When a lone pilot from Garam named Dane crashes onto Thanda, Essie saves him and helps rehabilitate his plane, and he repays her by kidnapping her and drawing her back into the very war she was hiding from to begin with. Now revealed as the long-lost Princess Snow, can Essie allow her family atrocities to continue, or is she willing to finally stand up for what's right?

There is so much to say about STITCHING SNOW! For one thing, Essie is totally kick-ass. She's wicked smart, too. She's a programmer, a mechanic, an engineer...she's great at math and science, and we need more girls like her paving the way in literature so that more real-life girls get interested in such fields as a career. It was also fun to see the guys in Mining Settlement Forty-Two accept her abilities. They called her work "stitching" to make it seem more girly, but they appreciated her hard work and came to her first when situations in the mines needed fixing. Essie is a great fighter, too, tough and scrappy, and is able to make a great life for herself on Thanda despite all of its dangers. She has a dark, twisted past that she wants to forget more than anything, especially since her family has destroyed so much. I really loved her character development; Essie was one of the strongest elements of her novel.

I also enjoyed all of the nods to the fairy tale. It's completely futuristic and innovative, from genetic engineering to poison necklaces to seven droids...to the lesser-known iron shoes! There's a revelation that makes readers understand why the evil queen hates Snow so much, a creepy, twisted reason, and it works so well and took my breath away. Even the droids themselves made for interesting characters. Cusser and Dimwit were the two prominently featured droids, but Clank, clunk, Ticktock, Whirligig, and Zippy also played critical parts when it came to Essie's daily life.

   Clank could do the welding, and Clunk could fabricate components with absolute precision. Replacement parts, recoding... Whirligig had backups of all the drones' programs. Ticktock knew better than I did how all the processors, power supplies, and relays fit together. Zippy would salvage every possible bit from the damaged originals.
(pg. 186, US hardcover edition)

 At first, I wasn't sure what to think of them and didn't care for some of their scenes, but by the end, I was enamored with the crazy antics of Dimwit, who never seemed to do anything right. His abilities were underestimated and, while he'll never be a topnotch drone, his bumble is oddly lovable. He has oddly human characteristics, as does Cusser, who is aptly named for his potty mouth. These personalities put Essie into greater danger because other planets would go to great means to take the tech she invented. They also solidify proof of Essie's intelligence; she is so much more than a pretty face destined to sit lazily on a throne doing nothing.

I also appreciated the fact that, while there was romance, that romance took a backseat to the action and everything going on around Essie and Dane and was more of a slowburn. Essie is wary around Dane for a long time, and rightly so. Dane, however, also has a tragic past, and as his character opens up, so does Essie's (And the reader's!) appreciation of him. The balance was right for this story, and not overly dramatic or focused away from the world. It's also easier to buy the sci-fi elements because the solar system is not ours, and everything is vastly different. In some ways, it reminded me of the uniqueness in the world of Joss Whedon's short-lived Firefly. There's enough grit in STITCHING SNOW for a thrilling adventure, and it's hard to put the book down because readers will want to know what happens to the characters and how the climax will play out. Plus, happy day--no cliffhanger! This is a one-shot, though I wouldn't mind seeing a companion novel and returning to the world in the future!

Fairy Tale Fortnight 2015 Update!

This fall, R.C. Lewis is coming out with a companion novel entitled SPINNING STARLIGHT and it sounds AMAZING. It's a SCI-FI retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Wild Swans! 

See down below for a summary if you're as intrigued as I am!


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( Kissing )
Language: PG ( You frequently hear characters say, "Shut it, Dimwit!" and while Cusser curses all the time, the curses aren't repeated in print. )
Violence: PG13+ ( Death, war, cage fighting )
Other: PG13+ ( Attempted sexual assault.)
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I'm in love with this cover. When you feel the hardcover jacket, it has multiple textures. The apple and the title/author name are all embossed. There's even texture on the circuitry in the background. I had even MORE appreciation for this book's design after reading and understanding what "stitching" was and why there was circuitry on the cover.

Even the back of the dust jacket has a creative apple design:

Here's a vlog featuring all the cool aspects of STITCHING SNOW's design. Talk about a homerun!

O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: R.C. Lewis
Release Date: Oct. 14, 2014
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Received: For Review (BEA Copy)
[Also received a finished copy for Christmas!]

Princess Snow is missing. 

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all. 

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines. 

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: R.C. Lewis
Release Date: Oct. 6, 2015
Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it's hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it's just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi's vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers' survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to STITCHING SNOW.