I'm pleased to welcome Rajdeep Paulus today to tell us about her latest release, Soaring Through Stars.
This is Launch Week for the final book in my Contemporary YA Trilogy, and I’m excited to share a little about my latest book, Soaring Through Stars. BUT first, huge hugs to Kimberly for sharing your space with me today.
Here are the deets on Soaring Through Stars!
Praise for the Soaring Through Stars & the Swimming Through Clouds Trilogy
“It is the rare author who can end an emotionally compelling trilogy with the same resounding truth from which it was formed, but turned inside out. In Soaring through Stars, Rajdeep Paulus does exactly that. Crafting her characters’ inner growth at a believable and often heart-wrenching pace across the series, this final book extends an exquisite peace to hearts where extreme fear used to dwell. This series should be on the shelves of every American high school. Soaring through Stars is a beautiful, perfect ending to a truly exceptional series… Don’t miss this one.”
~Serena Chase, USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog, author of The Ryn
“Rajdeep Paulus writes young adult fiction with a new kind of hero…Despair and cruelty haunt its pages. Raj’s most heroic characters find the strength to be compassionate at moments when it would be much easier to stand by and do nothing.”
~Amazon Author Success Story
“Tough and touching, resilient and raw—Rajdeep Paulus has crafted a story of love and abuse with the deft touch of a than real and she never averts her pen from the realities that face far too many women and children. “
~ Tosca Lee, NY Times Bestselling Author of
Havah and The Books of Mortals series with Ted Dekker
“Deep, sometimes quite dark, and very emotional YA story.” ~Once Upon a YA Book Blog
“In Soaring Through Stars, Rajdeep Paulus does what few authors of series are able to do—she stays fiercely loyal to her characters and allows them to find the natural ending to an emotional journey. Something beautiful is created where there had only been chaos.”
--Laura Anderson Kurk, author of Glass Girl and Perfect Glass
"This. Book. . . Nothing has made my heart ache yet sing as strong as Rajdeep Paulus' spectacular, climactic, SOARING THROUGH STARS."
~ Jennifer Murgia, author of FOREST OF WHISPERS, BETWEEN THESE LINES.
“A raw and heart-wrenching account of abuse, human trafficking, and enduring hope, the Swimming Through Clouds series is an incredible story of the strength of true love and the power of courage. Talia, Lagan, and Jesse will sneak into your heart and stay there long after you read the last line.”
~Amalie Howard, bestselling IndieNext author of Alpha Goddess
In Soaring Through Stars, the final book in her trilogy, Rajdeep Paulus displays an almost magical ability to portray dark and haunting subject matter with her descriptively lyrical style. Her poetic prose not only manages to bring her characters’ devastating struggles vividly to life, but also their singular grace and courage as they fight to wrestle hope from the rubble of epic loss, grief, and trauma.
~ Lisa Amowitz, Breaking Glass, Vision, and Until Beth (Fall 2015)
Back of the Book Summary:
“I live in the in between. Between holding on and letting go. Hurt clings to me. Hope teases me. Home. I can’t explain it, but sometimes, I just want to go home.”
Talia and Jesse Vanderbilt have escaped a childhood full of abuse, and when they have a chance to put their father behind bars, setbacks arise from every direction. The siblings can't help but consider the option to walk away and move on with their lives.
Then someone unexpected brings his own secrets, forcing the Vanderbilt teens to revisit their pasts and rethink their plans. Through it all, Lagan and Talia’s Post-it love story blossoms, while Jesse and Summer hit roadblocks.
From the award-winning author of Swimming Through Clouds and Seeing Through Stones comes a powerful story of freedom and belonging in this final book of the young adult trilogy that began with an invitation on a little Post-it note.
Taste Test of Soaring Through Stars:
I live in the in between. Between holding on and letting go. Hurt clings to me. Hope teases me.
Home. I can’t explain why, but sometimes, I just want to go home.
The concrete steps before me are as inviting as the climb up a volcano. I shake my head at the engravings above the door, promising “Liberty and Justice for All.” Because I’m the girl familiar with more than a pocket full of broken promises. Clutching my blue satchel to my chest like a shield, I march forward, thinking of the contents that I meticulously packed last night: Chapstick, a water bottle, Post-its, and the stories of the women I met at the shelter. Each owns her story. Each told her story. It’s my turn today.
“Talia Grace Vanderbilt.” The boom of the gavel hits the judge’s desk when the crowd rumbles and turns, searching for me. “Please come forward and take the witness stand.”
I swallow a thousand islands and inch my way down the aisle, recognizing many faces. Teachers. Neighbors. Jaya, Ava, Nahida, Sunny—survivors living at Hope Now. Even Diana with her specks and hair tied back in that familiar messy bun. They’re all here. But I’m searching for the one who gave me the courage to be here in the first place. Lagan. Where is he?
My eyes lock with my younger brother’s in the second row. He’s sitting next to a woman wearing a wedding veil, but Jesse shakes his head. What’s he trying to tell me? Don’t testify? Lagan couldn’t make it? Dad’s gonna destroy us, even here in the place where the truth is supposed to be on our side?
Then the woman next to Jesse lifts her veil. Mom! But…but…
“Talia!” The judge’s voice thunders. “Take the stand or be held in contempt.”
I move past the lawyers and the staring eyes of the jury, afraid to look at the defense attorney’s table. But as I turn to sit down, he’s right there, wearing his suit and tie, blond hair freshly trimmed, hazel green eyes piercing into me, a smug grin plastered across his face. Dad nods to me as he drags a single finger across his lips. In that tiny motion, he tells me to keep quiet. Family secrets are called secrets for a reason.
“State your name and relationship to the defendant, please.” The words float past my ears like an echo, and the woman asking me taps her clipboard impatiently.
“Talia Vanderbilt. Daughter.” Pulling at a lock of my long brown hair, I twirl it between my fingers, fighting the urge to pull it over and hide my lips. Broken and ugly, I feel like everyone in the courtroom stares at my lips.
“Do you swear to tell lies, the whole lie, and nothing…” The words fade like someone turned the volume down, and then I can see her lips move as she holds a book out in front of me, but I can’t hear a thing she’s saying.
“Wait, what?” I ask, but she’s now motioning for me to put my hand on the book and swear, but I’m watching her mouth, and she’s laughing. She’s laughing at me.
“Talia.” Dad’s lawyer rises and moves inches from me. “Tell us a little about your childhood. Your days with Daddy. A time when Mom was still around. Wasn’t it a wonderful life?”
“Objection.” My lawyer screams the word I only heard in movies until today. “Counsel is leading the witness.”
“Denied.” I hear the judge say calmly, but I’m trying to look around Dad’s lawyer for Mom. Her veil pulled over her face again, I think I see tears trickling down her cheeks, but I can’t be sure.
“Go on then. Talia, tell us about your little girl years. How your father loved you. Treated you like a princess. Did everything a perfect dad would do.”
“No. I mean. That’s not…” I start to say, but I can’t hear the sound of my words. I clear my throat and try again. “Lies—”
“A little louder, please.” Dad’s lawyer turns to face the jury. “So we can all hear.”
“L- L- L-…” My throat tightens and I can see my father across from me. Smiling and nodding. Nodding and smiling. Lagan. I need you.
“Well, Talia, if you have nothing to say, why did you bother coming today? I’m finished. The witness is all yours.” Dad’s lawyer returns and takes a seat beside my father.
Rubbing my throat with my right hand, I try to call out to my brother who suddenly sits there shirtless, scars dotting his chest, like the burns run so deep, they pushed all the way through from his back. Jesse. Jesse. Look at my brother! I’m trying to scream. That’s the childhood we had! But no sound again, and even as my lawyer steps up to the podium I sit behind, the woman next to Jesse rises and begins to walk toward the exit, her veil trailing behind her. A veil trimmed with tiny red petals. Turned down, the petals appear as tear drops. Blood, red tears.
“Wait. Mom! Wait for me!” I hear the words in my head, but my vocal chords are frozen—my hand in the air goes unnoticed.
“Talia, don’t you want to tell the judge and jury how your father treated you and your brother? Speak up. This is your last chance.”
Hot tears stream down my face, and my hands cover my mouth as I bite down on my lips. No pain. Only blood. And then Mom turns around, and right before she exits the courtroom, she doesn’t say, goodbye. Nor does she say, I love you. Instead, she lifts her veil, with tear-stained cheeks and a voice laden with despair, she says, “Why bother?” and leaves.
I scream, “Wait!” But only hear the screech of my voice in my head. I try again. Unable to produce sound, I leave the witness stand and dash down the aisle after Mom, the judge screaming, “Order! Order in the court!” behind me.
As I pull open the heavy courtroom door, all I can think is, I can’t lose you. Not again. Not now. When I need my mother more than ever. Like someone resisting in a tug of war, the door yanks to a close before I slip through, shutting on my outstretched hand and crushing my fingers alongside my hope.
The sting of my hand hitting the bedroom wall awakens me. It was only a dream. Hugging my throbbing hand on this last morning in the shelter, I remind myself, “It was only a dream.” On the actual day of the trial, everything will be worse. Far worse.
Rajdeep Paulus, Award-Winning author of Swimming Through Clouds, Seeing Through Stones, and Soaring Through Stars, is mommy to four princesses, wife of Sunshine, a coffee-addict and a chocoholic. As of this June 2013, she’s a Tough Mudder. To find out more, visit her website or connect with her via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram.
Finally, please don’t miss out on a chance to participate in the
Launch Party Giveaway!