Monday, July 07, 2014

Out and About: Stephanie Perkins in Manila + Giveaway: Signed Anna and the French Kiss!


Out and about is a feature here on Fragments of Life for events, book launches and movie adaptations.

For the fifth Out and about, I’ll talk about meeting the lively and lovely Stephanie Perkins, the author of the bestselling books Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door and of course, the upcoming Isla and the Happily Ever After!

The Basics:

Who:

Photo Credit to the enthusiastic admin of Stephanie Perkins PH, Kayla from the Bookish Owl!

The author is: Stephanie Perkins!
The Organizer is: National BookStore.

What books:


When: July 6, 2014, two in the afternoon

Where: National Book Store, Glorietta 1

How aka details:

Photo credit to Kate from the Bookaholic Blurbs!

Throughout the event, I got to meet Stephanie Perkins and get to know her more as a writer and as a person. I learned the following:
  • According to Stephanie, you can write a book that feels realistically in a foreign country and never leave your home if you know how to read a book well and pull the correct information out of it. She was really lucky that she had the finances to fly to Paris and research for Anna.
  • While in Paris, she read every book she could find and just try to get that full cultural immersion via books.
  • Stephanie Perkins was a librarian. (And librarians are very, very good at research.) *winks*
  • Out of all the male characters, Crickett was the one that was most similar to Stephanie's husband, Jarrod. In addition to this, she wrote a little bit of Jarrod into all the male main characters. He is her inspiration, which is just so sweet and touching. She met her husband when she was 17 and she is currently living her happily ever after with him.
  • She has an upcoming book in 2015, currently found on her website as "Untitled Horror Novel." It is a contemporary horror - based on real life horror and not in supernatural/paranormal-influenced ones. Her inspiration for writing horror stories is Stephen King. Our lovely author actually really likes horror.
  • Anna and the French Kiss was a product of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It took Stephanie seven years to finish the book.
  • When it comes to writing, she writes quite slowly. If we would put together Anna, Lola and Isla, Stephanie would write 10 pages per day on an average. (Which is just fine as I have started her book and found it very well-written!)
  • Series vs companion books. Anna, Lola and Isla are considered not as companion books but as installments of a series. The reason behind this was that Stephanie adores her lovelies, aka characters - whether minor or important ones, so much. So she writes stories for all of them and they are not forgotten. She wants to focus on each one of them and explore their stories. Also, in every book, there is a plot, a conflict. She doesn't want the same character to keep suffering until the final book. Hence, the switch of focus to the other characters. (I feel that she wants all of her characters to have a happily ever after.

Me, Stephanie Perkins and signed books!



Because Kai's selfie-snapping skill is improving, I just had to post this. :)

Giveaway Alert: I got an extra copy of Anna and the French Kiss, for a lucky reader who wasn't able to go to the signing yesterday. So you guys know the drill. :) If you have questions/comments/reactions, please do leave them below! Thanks for sticking until the end of the post. :)

"You are one lucky reader." The prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

NBS team continues to amaze me with their utter awesomeness! Thank you, thank you, thank you for the surprise ARC of Isla and the Happily Ever After! Thanks to National Book Store for the amazing event!


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Review: Rain by Amanda Sun

Book Description:

Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 24th 2014 by Harlequin Teen

American Katie Green has decided to stay in Japan. She's started to build a life in the city of Shizuoka, and she can't imagine leaving behind her friends, her aunt and especially Tomohiro, the guy she's fallen in love with. But her return is not as simple as she thought. She's flunking out of Japanese school and committing cultural faux pas wherever she goes. Tomohiro is also struggling—as a Kami, his connection to the ancient gods of Japan and his power to bring drawings to life have begun to spiral out of control.

When Tomo decides to stop drawing, the ink finds other ways to seep into his life—blackouts, threatening messages and the appearance of unexplained sketches. Unsure how to help Tomo, Katie turns to an unexpected source for help—Jun, her former friend and a Kami with an agenda of his own. But is Jun really the ally he claims to be? In order to save themselves, Katie and Tomohiro must unravel the truth about Tomo's dark ancestry, as well as Katie's, and confront one of the darkest gods in Japanese legend.

Reviewer's Copy: E-ARC

Source: Amanda Sun (Thank you!!)

My Thoughts:

I was totally inlove with the first book, Ink. I had high expectations for the sequel, Rain, and I'm happy to say that Amanda Sun delivered well in the second book. Aside from the ever present Japanese elements in the story, which I love: the cultural manifestation, the mythology and the dialogue and language. Reading Rain gave me the pleasure of being culturally immersed in an exotic setting while enjoying the story.

Katie continued her life as a gaijin in Shizuoka, stumbling over cultural obstacles, cramming for her studies and struggling to help Tomo with his unstable powers. I have grown emotionally attached to Katie. I have felt her confusion, terror, love, pain, sadness and jealousy. Rain was a roller coaster of emotions for me, thrilling and daunting. 

Her relationship with Tomo was beautiful but bumpy - there were always obstacles along the way in the form of the ink's assault and the aftermath of its disasters, Shiori, the overly clingy childhood friend of Tomo, Jun's friendship and Katie's discovery. Amanda Sum developed their relationship well, going through all the motions - getting back together, making up, getting jealous, going through problems (both normal and supernatural) and protecting each other.

Tomo, the Dark Kami prince, was struggling more than ever to stabilize his powers and keep the ink under control. It broke my heart to see him so fragile and out of control, despite all the measures he has gone through. He didn't have a choice at all, with his fate, so much so that the suffering pulsed underneath the pages. With this suffering comes a dark kind of terror. There were times when I had to flip back to a certain scene and reread it again to digest the eccentricity of it. On the other hand,Tomo also had a soft, normal side. He was sweet, thoughtful and filled with surprises. Charming and mysterious, Tomo will continue winning the hearts of readers.

Jun was in the picture more. This was something that I wanted to see in the sequel. With Jun's presence comes explanations and more details into the Kami mythology - what was legend and what was truth. I found him pleasing and charming overall. There were moments when I wanted Katie to be with Jun instead. It was like seeing the perfect future for someone, a perfect what-if. It made my heart ache even more.

Rain was as beautiful as it was exotic. It was a breath of pure, fresh air in the field of YA mythology. With its strong romance, horrifying and hair-raising Kami-related incidents, and adrenaline-pumping scenes, Rain has become one of the most intriguing fantasy/paranormal novels for me. It bordered on horror when Tomo struggled to control the ink. Fans of Anna Dressed in Blood might enjoy this for its otherworldly ink-splattered scenes, enthusiasts of Japanese mythology will devour this book and finally readers who are looking for a true love story (the kind that is balanced) will adore this book. I highly recommend this!

Rating:


5 Cupids = Eternal book love.
I will never ever, ever forget this book. I highly recommend this!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Out and about: Book Signing with Jenny Han!


Out and about is a feature here on Fragments of Life for events, book launches and movie adaptations.

For the fourth Out and about, I’ll talk about meeting the fun and awesome Jenny Han.

The Basics:

Who:


The author is: Jenny Han!
The Organizer is: National BookStore.

What books:



When: June 21, 2014, afternoon

Where: National Book Store, Glorietta 4

How aka details:


Throughout the event, I got to meet Jenny Han and get to know her more as a writer and as a person. I learned the following:
  • Jenny met her co-author Siobhan in David Leviathan's class (grad school). They became friends, hit it off and eventually started Burn for Burn.
  • When two people are writing a novel, they tend to divide the work per character or per chapter. In Jenny and Siobhan's case, the characters appeared so often in every chapter that they needed to know all of them well enough. They worked together on the book by focusing on the events that they are most excited about.
  • She has written a lot of books but so far she has not run out of ideas. She is a genius and actually has 3 novel ideas buing in her head as of the moment.
  • She was asked if she could write a spin-off for Jeremiah, and why. She flat out said no, because for her Jeremiah was left in a good place and I think she was satisfied with that.
  • Jenny Han likes nail art a lot. She goes to a certain Japanese nail art salon in New York. She also keeps a blog where she posts her nails: Just Another Mani Monday (yeah, like the song.)
  • If she could write herself into one of her books, she would be the nanny in The Summer I Turned Pretty. /li>
  • Quote from Amaterasu Reads: When asked if she was Lara Jean, who would be her Top Five celebrity crushes and which of them will be Peter Kavinsky for her.
    One is Alexander Skarsgard of True Blood. Daryl from Walking Dead. The cop from The Killing, he's a Swedish model. Jaime Lannister from GoT, even without the hand. Jo In Sung and recently, Seo In Guk in Reply 1997
    .
  • My question for Jenny Han: For you, what makes a contemporary novel stand out? Would you branch out into the NA genre? Jenny says that whether a book is contemporary or fantasy or science fiction, it all boils down to these things: the universality of emotions, growing up, pain and suffering. Also, her novels are leaning towards innocence and youth. But at the same time, she believes that YA can also be sexy. In regards to NA, it is an in-between genre. Teens read adult novels and adults read YA. Anybody could read anything and there is this "crossover."
  • In Jenny's books, we see a lot of sister-to-sister dynamics. In her recent book, Lara Jean and Margot reflected Jenny's relationship with her sister. "You always listen to your older sister."
  • It is definitely healthy to write love letters. It really depends on a person. But for Jenny, it could be a way of coping and letting all your feelings flow out of you and onto paper. It's when you explore your deepest feelings.




Signed books (I wasn't able to get a copy of To All The Boys as it was sold out and neither was I able to spot a copy of Fire with Fire - paperback) and shirt!



Each one of us got a surprise ARC of Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han, the last book (I think) of the series. Big thanks to Jenny and NBS team! I didn't think this kind of thing could happen twice. Thanks to National Book Store for the awesome event!
 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Review: Wings by Elizabeth Richards

Book Description:

Hardcover, 400 pages
Expected publication: June 12th 2014 by Putnam Juvenile

Following the cliffhanger ending of Phoenix, Natalie finds herself separated from Ash and unexpectedly reunited with her parents, including the father she thought was dead. But she can only think of Ash. She hasn't heard a word of him since she and Elijah were brought to the underground headquarters of the Sentry Rebellion. But she vows to find him.

Ash, meanwhile is back in Black City; it's the perfect place to hide from the Sentry government. But not for long. He won't give up on Natalie or bringing an end to the terrible reign of Purian Rose.

A pulse-racing end to an exciting series.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Elizabeth Richards (Thank you!!)

My Thoughts:

Warning: Do not read this review if you have not read Black City.

Elizabeth Richards did it again. Black City and Phoenix captivated me and led me deeper into my obsession with Ash, Natalie and their unique story world. Wings took my hands and did not let me go, opened my eyes to the truth and made me fall in love all over again.

The world as they knew it was on the brink of war. Everything was either in chaos or coated in fear. There was a stronghold of rebels nestled within Gallium, the non-human races were looking for avenues where there voice could be heard and Workboots were persistently being hunted down and even more determined to start a revolution that would end their suffering. Wings had cinematic action, a dash of gore and raw violence, and slow-motion-effects and racing narration. The other half of the story was also unraveled, the side of the antagonist, - plans, plots and principles.

Richards presented a better, complex version of her characters in Wings. Ash and Natalie went through all the trials, obstacles and issues in the first two books. After all the loss, pain, hurt, betrayal, sadness, numbness and exhaustion, they have been driven to a state of peace, the calm before the storm, before eventually being thrust into the now-or-never-situation: trying to stop the dictator, Purian Rose. From. Wing separated to finally being united, and tried once again. The swell of emotions and the blast of ideas came not only from the main characters but from the entire cast. A this point, every character had a voice and a constant presence in my head. I knew them well enough that I have come to expect their reactions in every scene. Aside from this, I have completely explored the worlds of all races at this point: Sentry, Workboots, Darklings, Lupines and Bastets.

The narration also varied this time around and came from three points of views: Ash, Natalie and Edmund. Exploring Ash and Natalie's past, worlds and thoughts gave me a balanced look on the story. As a Sentry, Natalie was privy to governmental and elitist information. Meanwhile Ash was one of the outcasts and hunted Darklings. He was in the lowest rung of society. Edmund's narrative were carved out from the past - flashbacks sandwiched between chapters. It was interesting to get a look at the history of their world and the events that lead to the present.

Ash and Natalie's relationship deepened even further, but instead of the usual Twinblood-Sentry-race-traitor-situation, their relationship molded into a more mature version, in the sense that they were both future-focused, revolution-considering and pondering over every decision thoroughly. The romance took a bit of a backseat as they focused on the rebellion but that did not mean there were no sparks. There were constant fireworks, as their connection remained intact. Going through hardships together strengthened their bond and I just love seeing it manifest throughout the story.

The latter part of the novel was intense and quite cinematic. Richards managed to pull off the slow-motion-scene, that I was mentioning above, just before zooming fast back in track. I only had a few pages left to read and yet I was treated to surprises, both good and bad. The ending was particularly striking for me, as it marked the completion of one of the major issues and endeavors that started in Black City.

Wings is the epic ending to my favorite dystopian romance series. Pulse-racing, shockingly jaw dropping, edge-of-your-seat-read, and heart achingly romantic, Wings will satisfy readers who are hungry for revolution/dark reads and romance. I highly recommend this to post-apocalyptic and dystopian enthusiasts.

Rating:



5 Cupids = Eternal book love.
I will never ever, ever forget this book. I highly recommend this!


Friday, June 06, 2014

Cover Reveal + Giveaway: A Beauty so Beastly by RaShelle Workman

Book Description:

Genre: Fractured Fairy Tale
Book 1 in the Beastly Series
Release date: July 3, 2014

About A BEAUTY SO BEASTLY: “For your vanity, your cruelty, and your cold unfeeling heart, a curse I leave upon you . . .”

What happens if the beauty is also the beast?

The stunning Beatrice Cavanaugh is considered American royalty. She has everything except the ability to love. Cursed on her eighteenth birthday, she becomes more beastly than ever, having a newfound craving for raw meat, and an undeniable yearning for the night. Bitterness is her only companion.

After accusing a maid of stealing, a disgustingly kind and exquisitely handsome guy named Adam shows up asking Beatrice to drop the charges against his mother.

Infuriated by his goodness, Beatrice vows to break him. Destroy him. Make him hurt the way she hurts. So she agrees. On one condition: Adam must take his mother’s place as a servant in the mansion.

Because Beatrice won’t stop until he’s more beastly than she is.

Special Note: A BEAUTY SO BEASLTY will be available for 99 cents until its release date on July 3rd! Then it'll go up to $2.99. So pre-order now!

About the Author


RaShelle Workman is an international bestselling author. She writes fractured fairytales with bite and young adult science fiction that's out of this world. RaShelle likes cherry pie, movies, family adventures, and chocolate. If you want to get on her good side, send chocolate. RaShelle's sold more than 500,000 copies of her books worldwide. Sleeping Roses, Exiled, Beguiled, and Dovetailed have foreign rights contracts with a Turkish publisher.

Follow RaShelle: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Blog


Giveaway

RaShelle, who is so generous, is giving away $25 Paypal cash. Join the giveaway below:


a Rafflecopter giveaway



Friday, May 09, 2014

Review: Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

Book Description:

Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by HarperTeen

Kelley Armstrong, #1 New York Times bestselling author, takes an exciting new direction with this big, breathtaking blend of fantasy, romance, horror, and pulse-pounding action, perfect for fans of Graceling and Game of Thrones.

Twin sisters Moria and Ashyn were marked at birth to become the Keeper and the Seeker of Edgewood, beginning with their sixteenth birthday. Trained in fighting and in the secret rites of the spirits, they lead an annual trip into the Forest of the Dead. There, the veil between the living world and the beyond is thinnest, and the girls pay respect to the spirits who have passed.

But this year, their trip goes dreadfully wrong.

With all the heart-stopping romance and action that have made her a #1 New York Times bestselling author, and set in an unforgettably rich and dangerous world, this first epic book in the Age of Legends trilogy will appeal to Kelley Armstrong's legions of fans around the world and win her many new ones.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Harper Collins International (Thank you!!)

My Thoughts:

Sea of Shadows is my first Kelley Armstrong book. At page one, I admit that I was hooked. The amazing author had my heart in her hands. It was love at page one.

As a fantasy enthusiast, I am naturally drawn to magic, mysterious spots, tales of olden creatures and unparalleled legends. The story world of Sea of Shadows had all the right elements: heart-wrenching tragedy, horrifying twists and turns, solid adventure, relationship development and of course, budding romance. Just when I thought I knew what was happening, Armstrong made a twist in the plot and I found myself flipping the pages faster. One of the things I loved about this novel was the constant action. There was not a dull moment. 

The twins. Moria, the Keeper, and Ashyn, the Seeker, were both easy to love. They balanced and complimented each other. It was like a yin and yang relationship. Ashyn was sweet, considerate, and gentle while Moria was a fierce warrior, fearless, daring, practical and not quick to trust. I loved Moria to bits as I could see pieces of myself in her character (of course, not the warrior bit.) The narration of the twins was like seeing two sides of a coin. Their differing perspectives allowed me to understand their situation and their world better. 

Budding romance. There were sparks and sometimes, even flashes of fireworks between the twins and their love interests. I was more drawn to the Moria-Gavin attraction. Gavin was a guard in Edgewood, a warrior by blood. He reminded me of a certain fairy boy from The Iron Fey series. Gavin was cold, all-business and hardly smiles at all. He was practical, strategic and passionate about debate. He parried not only with his sword but also with his words. Though i would not say that he was merely cruel. It just so happened that Gavin was not accustomed to socializing and he did not have much practice. What I really liked about him was that throughout the story, I got to see his softer side. He was protective, thoughtful in his own way and honorable. His interaction with Moria was sparked with banter, moments of understanding and bursts of hesitation. The physical attraction between them was palpable. 

The plot was thoroughly enjoyable and unpredictable. This, along with the terrific world building captivated me. One of the twists and turns came at the very end. I ended Sea of Shadows with a shredded heart when the revelation took place. I have become so emotionally attached to the characters that it was difficult for me to see them go through such tough times.

Sea of Shadows is a perfectly balanced blend of light humor, scandal and tragedy, fierce action, sparks of magic and a solid adventure. This book had me sitting at the edge of my seat with its bursts of violence, unpredictability, so-near-yet-so-far-feels with the relationship development between love interests and constant sense of urgency and suspense. I highly recommend this to readers of fantasy and enthusiasts of adventure reads and mythology. 

Rating:


5 Cupids = Eternal book love.
I will never ever, ever forget this book. I highly recommend this!


Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Talon + The Vault of Dreamers + The Memory Keepers


Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.

Hi guys! For Waiting on Wednesday, I have three picks = triple goodness! :)

Book Description:

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

Why I Chose This: To those of you who have read some reviews on my blog in the past, you would know that I'm a big fan of Julie Kagawa! Seriously, her books are classified under to-buy-asap for me. I am very interested in fiction related dragons. I am really looking forward to this!

Book Description:

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: September 16, 2014

From the author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.

The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success: every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.

Why I Chose This: You, guys! I really, really, really loved Caragh's first series. Her writing is really good and I'm just so excited for this new series. Don't let the cover fool you!

Book Description:

Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2014

"No one can take your memories from you... can they?"

Seven is a thief with a difference - he steals downloadable memories from banks and memoriums to sell onto London's black market, trading secrets and hidden pasts for a chance at a future of his own. He makes sure he keeps some special stuff back to 'surf' himself though - it's the only real form of entertainment he can afford. But one night, as Seven is breaking into a private memorium in a wealthy part of London, he is caught in the act by one of its residents; Alba, the teenage daughter of London's most famous criminal prosecutor. Instead of giving him away, Alba promises to keep Seven's secret - as long as he allows her to go memory-surfing herself. In doing so, they discover a hidden memory about Seven's past, revealing a shocking secret about Seven's childhood, the government and a mysterious experiment known as The Memory Keepers...

Now Seven and Alba will have to race against time to unlock the maze of The Memory Keepers - but can they keep themselves out of harm's way before the London Guard - and Alba's father - catches up with them?

Why I Chose This: I'm always intrigued with books that involve memory, its capacity and strength, as well as memory loss and control. So when I stumbled upon this book on Goodreads, I knew that I just have to read this. I have Natasha Ngan's The Elites. I'm hoping that this would be my next best read.

If you happen to drop by, kindly leave your Waiting on Wednesday links below so I could visit you, too!


 
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