Book Blast & Giveaway! Breaker & the Sun by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Breaker & the Sun
by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Series: Paper Stars #2
Publication date: May 8th 2017
by Clean Teen Publishing
Category: YA
Genre: Historical Fiction

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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~

Walking up the stairs, I pause and bend down, plucking some stubborn weeds from the hard earth. I shake the dirt from them and look at the struggling roots before tossing them in the garden bed. Is he just a jerk? Seems like there must be more to it than that. At least, that’s what I’d like to believe.
I sigh, wishing I could be like Cara sometimes. To stop searching for the reasons behind things and just accept the world for what it is and all the jerks in it.
The smell of garlic and peanut oil seeps from the front porch, luring me inside and throwing my thoughts into the frying pan. I walk up, my foot hovering over the last cracked bit of peeling concrete. I open my ears and smile wide as I listen to the cackling and coughing coming from within.
“You love my voice, eh?” Ama shouts as metal clatters in musical harmony.
“I love you to shut up!” Gung grumbles.
Ama starts humming out of tune. I can picture Gung’s surly expression. His eyes following her around the room like they’re trying to decipher one tiny particle of the code that makes her, but then he’ll give up. We always give up.
I take off my shoes and open the door.
I’m looking at my rainbow-striped socks when a white china bowl comes flying at my knees. I jump out of the way, and the bowl hits the doorframe and bounces off without breaking. “Ama! What the he…heck?” I manage to avoid saying hell before my intensely religious grandmother slaps me.
“See, George! Doesn’t break.” She throws another bowl my way like a Frisbee, and I sidestep as it skitters across the cork floor with a clanging marble kind of sound.
I giggle and step into the lounge, kissing Gung on the cheek, inhaling his sweet tobacco smell just as he runs a hand through his thinning hair and shouts at Ama, “You crazy woman!”
“It’s Corr Relle!” She says it like it’s two words, not one, and like that should explain her throwing crockery. My eyes turn to the kitchen and the dining set strewn across the floor. Ama stands on her tiptoes in the small spaces between the overlapping plates and bowls, knees bent as if she’s considering jumping out of the mess she’s created.
I put my hand up to stop her. “Ama, let me help you pick all this up.” I kneel and start stacking the plates.
“Twenty-five percent off, Sun,” she whispers, squatting down on her haunches to help me. She has the balance of a gymnast, leaning her thighs against the back of her calves with ease. Whenever I try to do that, I fall backward. But that could also be because she usually tries to knock me over with the end of a broom.
Ama grins, all red lipstick and white powder, and I smirk. She looks half like a Geisha and half like a forgotten Beatle with her died black hair and pageboy cut.
Gung coughs and strains his ears to hear us. “How much you pay for all this?”
Ama winks at me and lies, “Ten dollars the lot.”
He accepts this, although I’m sure he suspects she’s lying.
After we rise, she places a bowl in front of me at the counter, serving up some sweet corn soup. I lift the spoon to my mouth.
She asks, “How was rest of day at work. Make any tips?”
“Only from that one guy, you know, the weird one,” I mumble.
She shrugs, turning her back to me to rattle a frying pan on the hob.
I take a sip, swallow, stall…
I reach for my spoon again, and Ama grabs my wrist. “You mean the army man who gave you hating eyes because you Eurasian?” she asks, narrowing her eyes at me.
I wonder what she’ll say. I never know with her. What side she’ll pick.
“Yeah, that one,” I start, looking to Gung. He has angled his whole body my way, but he hasn’t deemed this conversation worthy of getting all the way out of his chair. I feel more comfortable addressing him. “Though I don’t think it’s because I’m Eurasian, Ama. I think it’s just because I look Asian.”
Ama snaps to attention, grasping my chin and pulling it toward her fierce eyes. “Nothing wrong with way you look. You beautiful Eurasian girl.” She traces under my eyes with her wrinkled finger. “Eyes like watermelon seeds…”
I smile and try to pull back. “He’s a Vietnam veteran. Maybe I reminded him of something bad,” I mutter, defending the guy. “Anyway, it doesn’t matter. I doubt he’ll come back in again, and I got to keep his change.”
Ama turns to Gung and says proudly, “I gave him my finger. The middle one! But then…he is soldier.” She sighs very loudly. Everything exaggerated. “Maybe we can be generous to him.”
I roll my eyes. Gung rolls his eyes too. The way she flips back and forth is exhausting.
“Are you all right, Sun?” he asks.
I shake my head. “Nothing a Douglas can’t handle,” I say proudly, sitting up straighter in my seat.
“I saw you roll the eyes at me, Sunny. Rolling around like marble in bowl.” Ama waggles her finger at me, dangerously tipping into a temper. “American soldiers save your life. You should be grateful.”
I know. I remember.
But it wasn’t this exact soldier. It wasn’t his hand that reached for me in the rubble.
“Maybe when you doctor, you fix all the soldiers,” she announces, and I bow my head to look like I’m agreeing with her.
First, I need to fix what’s wrong with me.
Gung flicks on the TV, turning up the volume and trying to stop the conversation from happening. The one about college and where I’m going to go, but Ama’s not that easily distracted tonight.
She comes around the counter to stand in front of me. I look up from where I sit on my stool. “Ama. S’il vous plaît. Please. Can we not have this conversation? I don’t have to decide just yet.”
Gung clears his throat and speaks, softly but firmly. “Annie. Leave the girl in peace. Let her enjoy her good fortunes for one day.”
Ama glares at Gung, and then her gaze settles on me. “You lucky I listen to Gung.”
Gung snorts and waves her over to watch Wheel of Fortune.
I know I’m lucky.

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~About the Author~

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.

Lauren’s Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

~Giveaway~

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Follower of Jesus, loving wife, homeschooling mom, blogger, author, gamer, and a lover of the culinary arts. Toni lives in Michigan with her husband and four children. If she's not writing or curled up with a book, you'll most likely find her playing with her kids, baking cupcakes, or killing zombies.