Today, we’re delighted to be hosting the FIRST stop on the official blog tour for Sometimes We Tell the Truth by Kim Zarins. We have a chance for you to win a copy of the book, PLUS your first sneak peek with an excerpt — complete with intro from Kim herself. So be sure to read all the way through for all the goodies!
It’s hard to choose just one except that gives you a taste of the novel, because with each character telling their own tale, there’s a lot of variety in the stories. But I wanted to share a passage from Sophie’s tale. Sophie is shy, so we only get to know her gradually during the course of the novel. But when it’s finally her turn to tell a story, she surprises the other seniors on the bus with a long, interesting tale. It’s her moment to shine.
Sophie tells a paranormal romance, the classic tale of an angel and a devil falling in love. The angel and devil are both assigned to compete over one mortal’s soul, and soon forget about their conflict as they become lost in each other:
It was young Constance’s first assignment in the mortal world.
When she found her mortal, a boy named Fabius, the devil was already corrupting him. It was a small sin, to harbor resentment against his parents over some rules, but still, it could lead to greater transgressions. Constance worked through Fabi’s tangle of emotions, and she found him. The devil.
“There you are,” he said, almost as if she were late for a date. He looked her up and down. “You’re new.”
She flexed her wings. “Clearly you are his demon. I think I can handle you. Don’t assume I don’t know what I’m doing.”
He tilted his head. “I called you new, not inept. You’re too beautiful to be an old hand at this tiring game.”
She reasoned aloud. “Then you are also new.”
He raised his eyebrows, and she blushed at the implication that she’d called him beautiful. “I’m hardly new. Only experienced demons can be beautiful. Temptation is a beautiful thing, or didn’t you know that?”
You can imagine what happens next. Their rivalry in steering their mortal became charged with their feelings, until Constance cared less about Fabius, and more about Sowdain, the demon. At some point they followed their mortal around like balloons on a string but forgot to get into his head. They talked to each other instead, walked side by side.
And then something happened.
The mortal, now grown, was walking to the local ovens for his bread. There was a spring in his step. He was getting married soon, to a pretty young woman. It made Constance oddly wistful to see all the preparations nearly at an end.
Sowdain dropped some news on her all at once. “I’m going to be reassigned.”
She tensed like he’d slapped her. “How can that be? Our assignments are for life.”
“For the mortal’s life. Yes. Or ours.”
“Well then. The man is young, and we are immortal.” Constance was still new. She didn’t understand.
Sowdain pocketed a roll from the baker, which no one saw, of course. He broke off a few pieces and let them fall for the birds. “I don’t eat bread, my dear. I eat souls. I nibble away at their lies, resentments, and lust. When the mortal is won, I feed. I live. And then I do it again. Lately, I lost my knack for angling for this mortal’s soul. I’ve missed meals and feel myself fading. I’ve been…distracted. It’s negligence my commanders haven’t noticed yet, or maybe they are just waiting for the right time to end this. I’ll be replaced soon, and when I do, there won’t be time for farewells. If I’m a convincing liar, I’ll be assigned to grunt work. If not, they’ll feed on me. Either way, my time here will end suddenly. That’s why I’m telling you now. I want you to know. I want you to remember me when I’m gone.”
He dropped the last of the bread and wiped his hands free of crumbs.
She caught his hands. “You can’t go. We have to save you!”
He chuckled, but he squeezed her hands just the same. “Spoken like an angel. Saving. It’s your business, but I’m not your client. What would you advise?”
“Perhaps…perhaps Fabius could—” Could what? “Lie? Would that be enough?” Constance was too innocent to imagine what sins the mortal could do.
His eyes glowed like the coal fires. “Hmm. That’s a dangerous suggestion for an angel to make. I will do nothing that implicates you. Instead, may I suggest a different indiscretion altogether?”
She pulled back at the sound of his voice, but he had her hands. He only gave them up to slide his hands up her arms to her neck, her face.
He kissed her. He couldn’t help it anymore.
Constance had never been kissed before. She was young for pairing. Yet she kissed him back. They stayed that way, kissing on the market street, for some time, invisible to everyone else and lost to each other.
It’s a sweet love story to enjoy before Sophie throws in a major plot twist to change the story into something altogether different.
In this contemporary retelling of The Canterbury Tales, a group of teens on a bus ride to Washington, DC, each tell a story—some fantastical, some realistic, some downright scandalous—in pursuit of the ultimate prize: a perfect score.
Jeff boards the bus for the Civics class trip to Washington, DC, with a few things on his mind:
-Six hours trapped with his classmates sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
-He somehow ended up sitting next to his ex-best friend, who he hasn’t spoken to in years.
-He still feels guilty for the major part he played in pranking his teacher, and the trip’s chaperone, Mr. Bailey.
-And his best friend Cannon, never one to be trusted and banned from the trip, has something “big” planned for DC.
But Mr. Bailey has an idea to keep everyone in line: each person on the bus is going to have the chance to tell a story. It can be fact or fiction, realistic or fantastical, dark or funny or sad. It doesn’t matter. Each person gets a story, and whoever tells the best one will get an automatic A in the class.
But in the middle of all the storytelling, with secrets and confessions coming out, Jeff only has one thing on his mind—can he live up to the super successful story published in the school newspaper weeks ago that convinced everyone that he was someone smart, someone special, and someone with something to say.
In her debut novel, Kim Zarins breathes new life into Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in a fresh and contemporary retelling that explores the dark realities of high school, and the subtle moments that bring us all together.
Kim Zarins has a PhD in English from Cornell University and teaches medieval literature and children’s literature at Sacramento State University. Her debut novel, Sometimes We Tell the Truth, retells Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales with modern teens, and she wrote it with a gigantic smile on her face (there are funny bits). She also published two picture books for very young children. When she isn’t reading or writing or teaching, she is feeding peanuts to a very hungry scrub jay named Joe.
Pre-order giveaway: if you enjoyed Sophie’s tale and pre-order the book by its release date, September 6th, drop Kim a message on her website or Twitter and she’ll send you a sticker featuring spot art from Sophie’s tale (a pair of wings!), along with a bookmark and signed bookplate!
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