Monday, March 21, 2016

Exclusive Cover Reveal - Interview & Giveaway: Sometimes We Tell the Truth by Kim Zarins

Guys! Today I have a very exciting exclusive cover reveal for you!! The adorable Kim Zarins's debut novel, Sometimes We Tell the Truth, is a retelling of The Canterbury Tales! Before we get to the cover here's a little about the book!

Sometimes We Tell the Truth
by Kim Zarins
September 6, 2016
336 pages

Goodreads Summary:
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.

And here's the cover!

Sometimes We Tell the Truth by Kim Zarins
Isn't it cute?!!!!! As Kim will tell you below, each art is unique to the story so read on to know more!

Author Interview

1. What did you think about the cover when you first saw it?

I was totally surprised. I mean, among other things, it’s got a (kinda cute) severed hand on it! Then I realized the fun and genius behind the cover, because each individual piece of art corresponds to a story told by each teen on the bus—plus one surprise storyteller. I had SUCH fun looking at the art and saying, “Oh, that’s Cece’s dolphin! And that’s the doll from Marcus’s Tale! Hmm, who gets the coffee cup?” and so on. It was like a puzzle, and nerd that I am, I made a list and matched all the characters to their spot art.

Early on, we questioned the idea of doing yearbook photos or a group image of all the teens on the bus, but these options quickly seemed problematic, because there are a whopping 21 teens along for the ride! The final, collage-style cover was the perfect solution to convey that this isn’t just the story of the main character, Jeff—it’s really about ALL those teens on that remarkable day. Besides the ten images on the cover, there are more images on the back and even the flaps, so all the storytellers get one. And while the images all differ from one another, they are assembled and harmonized with a shared palette of blue and orange—in other words, they belong as a set, just like the people on the bus lead different lives, yet travel together and connect.

2. The cover has a modern look to it. How do you think that reflects The Canterbury Tales’ roots?

Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale
The novel is a completely modern retelling that assumes no prior knowledge of The Canterbury Tales. To anyone new to Chaucer, it won’t feel like a retelling, so the modern cover simply gets across the spirit of the book—i.e., this novel is going to have a lot of quirky, fun stuff going on, with adventures including prom dresses, magic rings, pear trees, and more, and all the while the stories hang together as part of this group dynamic.

Believe it or not, though, the cover has a secret medieval side to it, too. There’s a famously gorgeous medieval manuscript of The Canterbury Tales called The Ellesmere Chaucer, which includes a portrait of each pilgrim on horseback (no bus ride for them!) at the start of his or her tale. So for example, Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale begins with this image on the right.

Sometimes We Tell the Truth is going to use the same visual strategy of letting illustrations kick off each tale. In my version, for example, the Knight becomes the star quarterback who tells a story about zombies in love, hence that cover image of the severed hand. In that sense, both art and text nod toward Chaucer’s masterpiece.

Incidentally, the Ellesmere Knight’s waving hand is strangely prominent…could he be thinking of zombies? And the Ellesmere scribe was Adam Pinkhurst—while Adam J. Turnbull did the llustrations for Sometimes We Tell the Truth. Coincidence—or fate?

3. Why The Canterbury Tales?

Ah! Because it is the best stuff there is! Chaucer’s over-the-top characters make TERRIFIC teenagers, from the sexually liberated Wife of Bath to the big, loudmouthed Miller. Chaucer’s play with stereotypes is more than meets the eye, because his stock characters become rounded and complex once they start talking and especially once they start telling their tales. Some of their tales are hilarious, complete with wild shenanigans perfect for a young adult audience. Other tales are more probing, and can reveal secrets about the characters. The layering of stories within the larger story is pure genius. As a medievalist who teaches Chaucer, I hold The Canterbury Tales in a special place in my heart.

4. What are you hoping readers will take away from your book?

I hope they’ll laugh out loud at least a few times—because some of the stories are ludicrously funny (in response to one tale, my agent’s email primarily consisted of “HAHAHAHAHA,” which was my glory moment). For people who have read Chaucer before, I hope they’ll be pleased with what I’ve done with the material. And for people new to Chaucer, I hope when they finish the book, they’ll go and read The Canterbury Tales in the original Middle English (the modern translations are not the same thing, sorry). If we ever meet in person or via Skype, I’ll read Chaucer aloud to you, because it sounds delightful!

5. Anything else you'd like to tell us?

Well, mostly, I just want to say thanks so much for having me—as a debut novelist, this is my very first appearance as a guest on a blog, ever! This has been an absolute treat! I can’t wait to hear what you think of the book. Anyone interested can find me on Twitter @KimZarins, where I post things partly as a medieval academic, partly as a YA author, and always as an English-major nerd.

Thank you so much Kim for sharing all this with us today! It's such a pleasure to have you here and I'm so honoured to be your first blog appearance! I'm super excited for you and can't wait to see more beautiful illustrations and match the artworks to each story!

Kim ZarinsAbout the Author
I'm a medievalist at Sacramento State University, and I also teach a ton of children's literature. I'm coming out with my debut YA novel in Fall 2016, a modernized retelling of the Canterbury Tales. You don't have to know anything about Chaucer to enjoy the story, and if you know the Canterbury Tales, you'll see the novel on a whole other level. I hope you'll like it!

If you want to chat about books, it would be great to hear from you.

Website    Authors Goodreads


1. This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL and will run until April 21, 2016!
2. The first winner will receive an ARC and the second will get a cover pendant :)
3. You must be 13+ or have parent's permission to enter this giveaway.
4. BookCatPin, Kim Zarins and Jess will not be held responsible for lost/damaged mail.
5. The prizes will be sent out as soon as they're available.
6. No giveaway accounts and please don't follow then unfollow.
7. I will check all entries so please be honest or you will be disqualified.
8. The winner must respond to my email within 48 hours or I will have to pick another winner.
Good luck!

Sometimes We Tell the Truth by Kim Zarins      Sometimes We Tell the Truth pendant!


  1. The cover is so absolutely adorable!! I love illustrated covers and a retelling of Canterbury Tales?? I'm all for it!!

  2. Wow - a retelling of the Canterbury Tales! I'm an English major and remember reading some of it back in college. I think I will have to check this out!
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

  3. A retelling of CT? Count me in! I love CT and did my masters dissertation on one of the tales!

  4. I'm not familiar with the Canterbury Tales, but this book sounds great and I love the cover!! :D

  5. love the cover!! Can't wait to read this book!


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