Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Book Description:

Paperback, 224 pages (Reviewer's copy: ARC, 407 pages)
April 4, 2013, Headline Book Publishing

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

In This is What Happy Looks Like, Jennifer E. Smith's new YA novel, perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O'Neill meet—albeit virtually—when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an email about his pet pig, Wilbur. In the tradition of romantic movies like "You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle," the two 17-year-olds strike up an email relationship, even though they live on opposite sides of the country and don't even know each other's first names.

Through a series of funny and poignant messages, Graham and Ellie make a true connection, sharing intimate details about their lives, hopes and fears. But they don't tell each other everything; Graham doesn't know the major secret hidden in Ellie's family tree, and Ellie is innocently unaware that Graham is actually a world-famous teen actor living in Los Angeles.

When the location for the shoot of Graham's new film falls through, he sees an opportunity to take their relationship from online to in-person, managing to get the production relocated to picturesque Henley, Maine, where Ellie lives. But can a star as famous as Graham have a real relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie's mom want her to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

Just as they did in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, the hands of fate intervene in wondrous ways in this YA novel that delivers on high concept romance in lush and thoughtful prose.

Source: Sam and Headline (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

I'm going to be honest: since reading The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, I became a fan of Jennifer E. Smith. I'm happy to say that I was not disappointed with This is What Happy Looks Like. In fact, I loved it even more than Smith's Statistical!

From page one, I was swept into the story of two teens who wrote emails to one another: G and E. The big role of fate came into play once again. One simple mistake - the misspelling of an email address - caused G and E to meet, albeit virtually. As I was reading the exchange of emails, I was amazed with the concept of it. The way they wrote to one another was so realistic, with caution because they were strangers still, but with a sense of lightness and easiness that came with talking to a person you assume you'll never see in your whole life. Getting a glimpse into their personalities through their emails was also something that I really appreciated. It was subtle yet oh-so-present.

Graham Larkin was not the most appealing male character I've encountered but for some reason he stood out with his easy humor, his deep appreciation of the things around him and most of all, his solitude. He has a private, sad side though: his fame drove a wall between him and his family, friends and the old world he moved around in. Most of the time, when he was not out shooting movies or promoting movies, he would stay at his house. Alone. As a beginner in Hollywood, he never imagined how fast his life would change, as well as the way the people he knew treated him. He got a new flashy world, fame and money but in exchange his ties with his old world slipped through his fingers. I felt his sadness and his loss. Throughout the book, I got emotionally attached to him.

While I didn't get as close to Ellie as I was with Graham, I liked her as a character. She had dignity and stood up for the most important things in life. She knew what she wanted and although sometimes she allowed herself to be held back by fear and uncertainty, eventually she would chase her dreams and follow her heart's desire. What I liked most about Ellie was the way she thought. She had a special way of putting ideas together in a sentence, of appreciating everything around her and most of all, of appreciating Graham not as the Hollywood actor but as G, the guy she emailed with.

I would say that their relationship was more emotional than physical, which is not something that I often see in YA. I really enjoyed reading about how each one of them was pulled towards the other, experiencing an almost magnetic pull, not because of sexual tension but because of love and the simple desire to be together. It was refreshing to be able to read about Graham and Ellie's face-to-face conversations. There was a deep sense of familiarity between them that makes every line almost effortless. It was like seeing two people across the street and feeling and guessing that they would be together for a long time. Although they belonged to two entirely different worlds, they were strongly connected by their understanding and love.

The novel also had dramatic parts, which I could easily imagine being a part of a movie. The drama came out of the complicated situation of Graham and Ellie amidst the media. Paparazzi were everywhere and they needed to be extra careful with being seen together for entirely different reasons. Graham's manager wanted him to "date" his co-star, Olivia, and Ellie's mom wanted her to steer clear of cameras. Despite all the trouble, Graham and Ellie found their way back to each other. Another thing that involved drama were the exploration and examination of Ellie's relationship with her mother and her friendship with Quinn. Since she grew up without a father, her mother was her only source of support and parental love. Upon Graham's arrival in Henley, he became the reason for Ellie's arguments with her mother. There was a clash of opinions on what Ellie should do with Graham. Ellie's friendship with Quinn was challenged. Although they have been in fights before, this was the first time when Ellie had to go through the entire experience without her best friend by her side. She carried all the worries and the problems inside her.

The writing was breathtakingly beautiful. It stole my breath, transported me to a colorful story world and wrapped me in delicious words. Although I preferred first-person narration, the third-person narration, albeit detached, enabled me to get into the minds of both Graham and Ellie, as well as to see the bigger picture.

This is What Happy Looks Like is a heart-achingly beautiful contemporary romance that will let readers taste the sweetness of finding love and being favored by fate, the bitterness of sadness of loss and the bittersweet flavor of realizations and inevitable endings. With well-developed main characters, awe-inducing workings of fate and an atmospheric setting, this unforgettable novel will draw readers in and transform them into believers of 'meant-to-be' things. In short, This is What Happy Looks Like is perfection. I highly recommend this to readers of contemporary romance, fiction with humor, and fiction that involves the handiwork of fate.

Rating:


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


Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

Book Description via the Jacket Flap:

Hardcover, 398 pages
February 12, 2013, Tor Teen


After faking their deaths to escape from prison, Ember Miller and Chase Jennings have only one goal: to lie low until the Federal Bureau of Reformation forgets they ever existed.

Near celebrities now for the increasingly sensationalized tales of their struggles with the government, Ember and Chase are recognized and taken in by the Resistance – an underground organization working to systematically bring down the government, At headquarters, all eyes are on the sniper, an anonymous assassin taking out FBR soldiers one by one. Rumors are flying about the sniper’s true identity, and Ember and Chase welcome the diversion…

Until the government posts its most-wanted list, and their number-one suspect is Ember herself.

Orders are “shoot to kill,” and soldiers are cleared to fire on suspicion alone.

Suddenly Ember can’t even step onto the street without fear of being recognized, and “lying low” is a joke. Even members of the Resistance are starting to look at her sideways.

With Chase urging her to run, Ember must decide: Go into hiding…or fight back?

Source: Alexis + Tor Teen (Thank you!)

Warning: This might be a bit spoilery for people who haven’t read Article 5 yet. But I don't reveal anything spoilery or crucial about Breaking Point in this review.

My Thoughts:

The ending of Article 5 left me hungry for more. Incredibly realistic, tragic and heartbreaking, it broke my heart in more ways than one. Article 5 tore my chest open and left a gaping hole there. Breaking Point was the cure to that gaping hole. I felt that so many things were righted in the second installment.

Ember and Chase were now part of the resistance. They were a ‘family’ but this doesn’t mean that assimilation into the group was smooth. In fact, things were a bit rough inside the Wayland Inn, the headquarters of the resistance. The other members like Riggins and company gave her a hard time. But after the FBR posted their most-wanted list and Ember lands number one, things changed.

I was emotionally attached to Ember ever since Article 5. Seeing her grow from the girl that she was in the first book to the brave woman that she was in now only strengthened my attachment to her. Emotionally scarred, physically exhausted and in mourning, Ember was down. But she was a trooper; she moved and made a difference in her own way. Although there were secrets up Ember’s sleeve, she had a good heart and equally good intentions.

Chase, the gorgeous and protective ex-soldier, was a constant in Ember’s life. Trying so hard to make up for what he couldn’t do, I felt for him. His good side and bad side warred in Article 5 but in Breaking Point, each side complimented each other until finally, the old Chase – Ember’s Chase – broke through the surface. His sweetness and protectiveness were strong attributes that made me melt.

Chase and Ember’s relationship was strained because of the death of Ember’s mom, which weighed down on both of them. This strain made them suffer in a dualistic way: Ember loved Chase but every time she would see him, she was reminded of her mother’s death while Chase loved Ember back, every time he would see her, he was reminded of the death of Ember’s mom and the horrible instance that he could’ve stopped if only he had done more. I appreciate how the intense emotional burden of these two characters was manifested in the book. It was like two pulsing waves of energy that blended together. Ember and Chase were hurting, flawed and struggling with their past and mistakes. Though there was little physical manifestation of the romance, it was palpable. I felt it even if the two were playing tug-of-war with their emotions. And that in itself is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced as a reader.

The action definitely leveled up. The story world and society in Breaking Point is crueler, tougher and all the more challenging. I was hungry for the action and suspense, which were done well. Just like in Article 5, I was hooked from the start. The struggles of all the characters and the stories of their lives really got to me. As they dug deeper and deeper into the heart of the rebellion, they were transforming from mere people who don’t agree with the MM to representatives of the people who fight back. In a way, they give hope, what little of it they can give, to the people. Their struggle and their transformation is the whole point of the story and not the romance.

Breaking Point is heart-wrenchingly good with its story, heart-pounding in its action and suspense, and heartbreakingly beautiful with its characters. If you are a dystopian enthusiast, and I mean, a person who is really, truly reading dystopia not just for the romance BUT for the action, the struggle and the suspense parts…then this series is for you. I highly recommend it.

Rating:



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




Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Guest Post: Facades and the Truth by Jade Kerrion

Hi guys! As part of the Earth Sim blog tour, I have a guest post by Jade Kerrion:


About the Author:

Jade Kerrion unites cutting-edge science and bioethics with fast-paced action in her award-winning Double Helix series. Perfection Unleashed and its sequels, Perfect Betrayal and Perfect Weapon, have been described as “a breakout piece of science fiction” and drawn rave reviews for their originality and vision. Her novel, When the Silence Ends, is a Young Adult spinoff the Double Helix series. She is also the author of Earth-Sim, a whimsical and compelling view of Earth’s history through the eyes of the two students assigned to manage our planet.

Follow Jade: Blog | Facebook | Twitter

About the Novel:

What reviewers are saying: 5 Stars! “What a fantastic book by Jade Kerrion, it grabbed me from the very first page...Ms Kerrion's writing is exciting and well paced to keep you wanting to know more…”

Jem Moran has a reputation to prove and a secret to protect. The prestigious world simulation program seems the answer to both her problems, but only if she can succeed in spite of her partner, Kir Davos, and the uncooperative human beings who populate her planet. From the Great Extinction to the Renaissance, from world wars to intergalactic treaties, Jem’s conflict with Kir will shape Earth’s history, and their opposing management styles will either save or doom our planet. Either way, you finally have someone to blame for the shape our world is in.

Buy Earth Sim: Paperback | Ebook



Friday, March 15, 2013

Guest post: World Building by Liesel K. Hill [Persistence of Vision Blog Tour]

As part of the Persistence of Vision blog tour, Liesel Hill wrote a guest post about World Building. I was supposed to post this yesterday - unfortunately, I fell asleep.


About the book:

In a world where collective hives are enslaving the population and individuals have been hunted to the verge of extinction, Maggie Harper, and independent 21st Century woman, must find the strength to preserve the freedom of the future, but without the aid of her memories.

After experiencing a traumatic time loss, Maggie is plagued by a barrage of images she can't explain. When she's attacked by a creep with a spider's web tattoo, she is saved by Marcus, a man she's never met, but somehow remembers. He tells her that both he and her creepy attacker are from a future in which individuals are being murdered by collectives, and Marcus is part of the rebellion. The collectives have acquired time travel and they plan to enslave the human race throughout all of history. The flashes Maggie has been seeing are echoes of lost memories, and the information buried deep within them is instrumental in defeating the collective hives.

In order to preserve the individuality of mankind, Maggie must try to re-discover stolen memories, re-kindle friendships she has no recollection of, and wade through her feelings for the mysterious Marcus, all while dodging the tattooed assassins the collectives keep sending her way.

If Maggie can't fill the holes in her memory and find the answers to stop the collectives, the world both in her time and in all ages past and future will be doomed to enslavement in the grey, mediocre collectives. As the danger swirls around her and the collectives close in, Maggie realizes she must make a choice: stand out or fade away...

Buy on Amazon!

Follow Liesel: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Blog


Wednesday, March 06, 2013

2013 YA and MG Time Travel Reading Challenge: February Wrap-up Post + Giveaway of Clockwise series by Elle Strauss

For our February Wrap-Up post, we have two character interviews of the protagonists in the Clockwise series by Elle Strauss. I have he character interview with Nate Mackenzie here in my blog. You can find the matching interview with Casey Donovan at Dianne's blog.

Ebook and Paperback, 290 pages
Sept/Nov 2011, ESB Publishing ang BookBaby

Casey Donovan has issues: hair, height and uncontrollable trips to the 19th century! And now this—she’s accidentally taken Nate Mackenzie, the cutest boy in the school, back in time. Awkward.

Protocol pressures her to tell their 1860 hosts that he is her brother and when Casey finds she has a handsome, wealthy (and unwanted) suitor, something changes in Nate. Are those romantic sparks or is it just “brotherly” protectiveness?

When they return to the present, things go back to the way they were before: Casey parked on the bottom of the rung of the social ladder and Nate perched high on the very the top. Except this time her heart is broken. Plus, her best friend is mad, her parents are split up, and her younger brother gets escorted home by the police. The only thing that could make life worse is if, by some strange twist of fate, she took Nate back to the past again.

Which of course, she does.

*There are cases in which Nate's answers can't be understood without reading Casey's answers (which are in Dianne's interview) so I included them.

What was it like to travel back in time?

Nate: Wow. Mindblowing. Headspinning. I mean, who DOES that?

How is your time travel companion different in the present and in 1860?

Nate: Casey is the most interesting person I ever met. Seriously, she's a time traveler. And she's cute. And smart. Yeah, I'm totally taken with her. Unfortunately, at home in the present, things are complicated. I kind of have a girlfriend, so really, Casey is hands off in every century.

What's your reaction to the handsome, wealthy suitor?

Nate: I want to punch his lights out.

If you could bring back an item from the 19th century to the present, what would it be and why?

(*Casey: Hmm, it's hard to say. We have every item now that they had back then only better.)
Nate: Ditto


What is your most unforgettable memory of 1860? Why?

Nate: Racing through the forest on a horse in winter, trying to save a friend. I don't really know how to ride a horse, so it was a frightening, but exciting experience.

Aside from the 19th century, which time and place would you like to go back to?

Nate: My preference is to stay in my own century, thank you very much. But hanging out with Casey, that's not likely to happen.

Giveaway: Two winners of the boxed digital set of the Clockwise series by Elle Strauss

Just fill out the form and you're entered!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Oh, don't forget to link up your reviews!




Character Interview: Jason Evans + Giveaway: Keeper of the Black Stones by P.T. McHugh

Hi guys! I'm posting late for the end of February Time Travel posts. Sorry! Just finalized and submitted my thesis end of Feb so it was hectic. Anyway, moving on, today...I've got a character interview and giveaway for you! To be honest, I'm not sure if you've heard of this book - I haven't seen this posted in any Waiting on Wednesday post, which is one of the reasons why I like to post about this. I'm introducing a new time travel release:

Paperback, 369 pages
February 26, 2013, Glass House Press

Awkward in his own skin, shy around girls and worried about anything and everything, Jason Evans is just like a million other teenage boys in high school, with one very large exception: he has been given a gift that allows him to jump through time. A set of stones has fallen into his lap that gives him access to any place - and any time - that he chooses. But along with that gift comes the responsibility of stopping the man who is using those very stones to travel through time and change history for his own purposes. A man who is now holding Jason's grandfather hostage, and threatening the world's very existence. Jumping through time with his best friend and body guard, Jason must enter the world of Medieval England, learn its customs, navigate unimaginable danger, and help Henry VII win the Battle of Bosworth, in the name of finding his grandfather, rescuing a beautiful girl from the clutches of a corrupt church, and destroying the one man who pledges to turn history inside out.

Can you tell us something about yourself?

I'm just your typical 14-year-old boy. I love watching sports and hanging out with my best friend Paul. School's okay, but sometimes it can be a drag. I'd have to say my life is just like any other kid’s ... until recently.

What do you think about time travel, in general?

If you asked me that question a few weeks ago, I would have told you that the concept was ridiculous. But now ... let’s just say that it's real, and very, very dangerous.

If you could choose (and apparently you can) to go three eras just for fun (no history alteration involved), which three eras would you go back to?

Wow, how about early 1800's – Napoleon's reign. So many things happened during those years in Europe, and shaped the world as we know it today. The second era would be the early 1920's, before the depression in the US. The economy was booming, and from what I've heard, everyone seemed to be having a good time. Third era would be the start of the renaissance, just after Henry VII took over. Now on the last era, let’s make it clear that I wouldn't want to stay there for very long. I love indoor plumbing, good hygiene, and cold drinks.

Would you alter history for a loved one or not? Why?

Wow, that’s a great question. Reminds me of when Superman spun the world backward after Louis Lane died so he could alter the past and save her. I'd have to say no ... I realize now how the correction of one mistake can create a million more. Now with that being said, there are times when I've thought about it. If I could go back and save my parents I would probably be tempted, but it would change everything, and who knows how that would turn out? Besides, I’m not sure the stones could take me to a time where another version of me already existed. Seems like it might be … a problem.

Giveaway: 5 E-copies of Keeper of the Black Stones

Thanks to P.T. and Glass House Press, five of the readers of Oops! I Read a Book Again and Fragments of Life can win copies of this new release. You know what to do!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Monday, March 04, 2013

Out and About: Bloggers Forum + Signing with Tahereh Mafi + Ransom Riggs


Out and about is a new feature here on Fragments of Life. I have always wanted to cover events and launches but for some reason, they just stick out because I don’t normally post about these things. So I decided to start a feature for events, book launches and movie adaptations.

For the second Out and about, I’ll talk about the Bloggers Forum and Book Signing with Tahereh Mafi and Ransom Riggs.

The Basics:

Who:

Ransom and Tahereh at the Bloggers Forum

The authors are: Tahereh Mafi and Ransom Riggs. The event really is for Tahereh and Ransom is a special guest. :)
The Organizer is: National BookStore.


What: According to the official press release - The New York Times bestselling author of the young adult series Shatter Me, comes to Manila for a book signing event on March 2, 4:00pm, at the new flagship of National Book Store in Glorietta 1. But of course, as a blogger, there are perks. I was invited to an exclusive Bloggers Forum with Tahereh. (So fun!) As of now, the published books in the series are:

Paperback, 340 pages
October 2nd 2012, HarperCollins

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war– and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.
Paperback, 461 pages
February 5, 2013, HarperCollins

Juliette's world is beginning to unravel.
Everything is falling apart changing.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point-the headquarters of the rebel resistance. There she discovers other people with abilities. Abilities they have learned to control. And for the first time in her life, Juliette has hope. Hope that she can have a life with Adam. Hope that her touch can be used to save instead of destroy.

But Juliette is only just beginning to understand the depth of her power, and she's struggling to fight the desire to use it. She's still haunted by her past, terrified by her future, and too tempted by Warner, who still wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart-and Adam's life.

When: March 2, 2013, 1:30 p.m. (Bloggers Forum) and 4:00 p.m. (actual book signing event)

Where: Powerbooks, Greenbelt 4 and National Book Store, Glorietta 1

Why:Why I went to the event: Of course, I was invited to an exclusive invitation only Bloggers Forum! Who says no to that? And of course, I'm excited to meet Tahereh Mafi - and Ransom Riggs, too! I was also ecstatic to see my blogger friends again. :)

How: This is the longish part.

Tahereh answers our questions at the Bloggers Forum.
At the Bloggers Forum, we had a Q&A with Tahereh. Amidst muffins and coffees, we had the pleasure of getting answers straight from the funny and smart author. This was my question to her: "Your narration is photographic, in such a way that it not only captures the moment but it also encapsulates the beauty and essence of change and life. You write in a very breathtaking way. How do you manage this photographic narration?"

She told me: "that's a beautiful question." Then she went about describing how she really tried to get into Juliette's head (who is a little crazy and so the constant counting, the lack of punctuation marks reflect the chaos in Juliette's mind). When Tahereh writes, she locks herself up in her room and write, write, write all day and night.

I learned the following:
  • The 3rd book still has no title but in Tahereh's files, it's called Untitle(d) Me.
  • Kenji was based on the brothers of Tahereh.
  • Tahereh was shocked/surprised when she found out that majority of the readers of Shatter Me and Unravel Me were part of Team Warner.
  • Book 2 of Miss Peregrine's will be out in January 2014 (sooo far away!)
  • Ransom is in fact, Ransom's real name. And totally NOT a pseudonym people.
  • Ransom hasn't read the Harry Potter series. (I haven't too!)

Of course, let's not forget the book signing. Since we finished the forum earlier than expected, all our books were signed there. Scroll down for photos.

Tahereh Mafi and I
Shatter Me + Unravel Me signed to me
Me and Ransom Riggs - forgot to take off that post-it! Photo credit to Dea!
Group Picture at the Bloggers Forum
Another group photo at the actual signing (for everyone)
Tahereh was being interviewed. Photo credit to Kai of Amaterasu Reads

Big thanks to National Book Store for the awesome forum + event!



Sunday, March 03, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (6)


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga from Tynga’s Reviews!

This week is awesome! :) Even though, I haven't requested much...the parcels still keep coming.

This is my haul for the week:


For Review:


Mist by Kathryn James (paperback)
Frost by Kathryn James (paperback)


The Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher (paperback)
Fractured by Teri Terry (paperback)


In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters (ARC)


When the Silence Ends by Jade Kerrion (paperback)
The Genius of Little Things by Larry Buhl (paperback)

Gifted/Traded:


Everlasting by Angie Frazier (hardcover) - traded this with Dani from Book Whales Reviews!
Ink by Amanda Sun (ARC) - gifted to me by my book sister, Kai from Amaterasu Reads!

Borrowed:


Cascade by Lisa T. Bergren (paperback)
The Farm by Emily McKay (ARC)


Hourglass and Timepiece by Myra McEntire (hardcover)


Pure by Jennifer L. Armentrout (ARC)
Splintered by A.G. Howard (ARC)

Bought for book signings!


Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (paperback - signed)
Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi (paperback - signed)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (paperback - signed)

Will talk more about the blogger forum and book signing event with Tahereh Mafi and Ransom Riggs tomorrow!

Big thanks to: Victoria, Hachette UK and Orchard Books, National BookStore, Tahereh Mafi and Ransom Riggs, Jade Kerrion, Larry Buhl, Tina and Abrams and Chronicle, Dani from Book Whales, Kai from Amaterasu Reads, Louisse from The Soul Sisters and Michelle from Michelle Shouts Random!

What did you get this week? Leave your links and I'll drop by later!