Monday, December 29, 2014

Out and About: Meeting Marie Lu + Giveaway: Signed Copy of The Young Elites


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

This time around, I am sharing my experience about the #MarieLuinPH event.

The Basics:


Who: The author is: Marie Lu. The Organizer is: National BookStore.

What books:


When: November 23rd 2014

Where: National Book Store, Glorietta 4

What I learned about Marie Lu and her books from the event:

  • Legend was pitched only as science fiction. Marie had never heard of YA dystopia before that.
  • For Marie, the process of growing up goes hand in hand with fantasy and science fiction, as with these genres, life if more fun and more extreme. She read books from both genres when she was younger.
  • One of Marie's goals that she would like to accomplish is to write a picture book. She is an artist and she would like to work on a project that is closely related to art.
  • Day was inspired by Robin Hood (and figures like Robin Hood) - a thief with a heart of gold. He is optimistic and his name is related to his motto: to walk in the light. Meanwhile, June's personality fits that of a gemini - smart and intelligent. She was inspired by Sherlock Holmes.
  • The plot of the Legend series is inspired by the social climate when Marie was writing it. That was back in 2009, after Obama became elected, wherein two parties were competing against each other. Marie Lu saw that as a potential for a story and she imagined what it would be like to have two America's. 2009 was the inspiration of the story world.
  • Before Marie drafts a story, she draws the characters first to find out who they are, what their personalities are. She needs to sketch the story world first to understand it better. Marie is just a visual person. She wants to write what she sees.
  • To counter writer's block, Marie Lu sketches.
  • The Young Elites was originally only 100 pages long. It was so different from the published version. Marie Lu's agent hated it. Marie had to call her for a second chance.
  • Fan reactions does not affect Marie's books. By the time she hears the reactions, the book has already been published.
  • Champion was the hardest book to write for her Marie Lu also mentioned that she likes bittersweet endings. There was no other good way of ending the series than the original bittersweet ending.
  • When it comes to rituals before or while writing, Marie Lu listens to sounds without lyrics, such as rain, or sounds with lyrics in a different language.
  • Marie likes writing in a train. She mentioned that there was something with the forward motion of the train that was conducive for writing.
  • In the beginning of the Legend series, Marie felt like she was more like Day. She related more to him because he was emotionally driven and he wears his heart on his sleeve, but as the story progressed, Marie found herself to be more like June. She noticed small details of June that represent little pieces of Marie's personality.
  • Adelina was the villain in the original version of The Young Elites. She was manipulative and cunning. Marie found Adelina to be interesting and different. After submitting the first draft to her agent, Marie's agent encouraged her to explore Adelina more. Adelina has a twisted view of life. What was justified for Adelina was crazy. When Marie was writing from Adelina's POV, she found it to be a disturbing experience to be in Adelina's head space. Adelina had a dark mind. Sometimes Marie Lu had to take breaks while writing.
  • Villains as protagonists was the theme for The Young Elites. "Everybody thinks they're the hero" - this applies to the villain POV.
  • Writing from various perspectives was not hard to do in Legend. The alternating POV showed the two sides of the world that June and Day were living in.
  • For Marie Lu, the bigger rebel is June. Day, of course, is the obvious rebel. But June changed her life 180 degress in the story, going against what she knew and what she believed in.

Marie Lu and I, books, bloggers. <3

Signed books!

Big thanks to National Book Store for the awesome event! Now, because I love Marie Lu and her books, I have a giveaway for those of you who were not able to make it to the Manila and Cebu signing.

So this is open to PH residents only, but if you're based abroad and have a Philippine address to send the book to, you could still join. Enter below!




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Friday, December 19, 2014

Indie Friday + Giveaway: Touch by Natalia Jaster

For the last almost-five-years of blogging, I stumbled upon and discovered gems in YA and NA. I was surprised that some of the best books I have ever read were in fact not published traditionally. Some of these unforgettable books are indie. So I have decided to start a weekly feature on my blog about indie novels and authors, that deserve attention.


Indie Friday is a weekly feature wherein YA/NA indie novels are explored, authors speak up and bookish goodies are given away. Accompany me in my search for the next best indie read.

For the first Indie Friday, I amm featuring Natalia Jaster and her novel, Touch, a YA mythology-with-a-twist. Without further ado, lets move on to the interview:

What or who inspired you to create and mold Love as she appeared in Touch: wild, longing, graceful and sometimes mischievous?

Ha! I have a tendency to gravitate toward characters with a naughty side—and usually that naughty side is hiding something deeper, an emotional yearning. Love is a goddess, so it was easy to give her some graceful qualities. But since she’s alone for most of her life, it was also obvious that she’d have an untamed side, a desperation to her.

Really, what inspired me were the questions, What if the god of love had never been in love? What if Eros had no clue how to truly love someone?

We are used to the male-version Eros. How did you set the difference between the traditional Eros and Love?

Love is like Eros in many ways, yet there’s always a pinch of a difference. They both have human-like features, except that Love doesn’t have wings. She doesn’t spend her time flying around town—and that simple difference makes her even more relatable. She uses the same weapon, but she crafted it herself. She’s arrogant and entitled, but she’s also lonely.

And like Eros, she gets a kick out of matchmaking, however it’s not just callous amusement for her, as it seems to be for him. She genuinely cares about the people she pairs up, she wants them to be happy together, and she believes that she’s doing right by them.

But I think the biggest difference is her sexuality. Eros represents sexual desire, yet Love is a virgin. It’s safe to say she’s not as experienced as he is. She’s the goddess of love, but she’s never been with someone, so intimacy is a mystery to her. Discovering that part of herself is major aspect of her growth in this story.


Could you tell us more about Love's culture and world?

Love comes from a dimension called the Peaks. It’s sort of like a celestial island—or perhaps what an island would look like if it were a star. In her world, gods and goddesses don’t have families, because they can’t procreate. Each deity is born from a star. I wanted to reflect that in the type of landscape they live in, with a sense of darkness and majesty, a place of moonlight and water and cliffs.

Every deity represents an emotion. So not only do we meet Love, we also get to know Anger, Envy, Sorrow, and Wonder. Ironically, the culture is rather pragmatic and dispassionate. They see emotions as a force of power, as a skill to be mastered, as a job. Not as something you just feel. That’s the difference between them and humans. Deities consider it their duty and right to oversee these emotions in humans, but it’s undignified for a deity let their own emotions get the better of them. Of course, Love refuses to conform to that belief, which gets her into trouble.


Could you tell us how you made Andrew so gorgeous-that-readers-would-fall-in-love-with-him? What were the "ingredients" to his personality?

*smiles* Oh my, I can’t take the credit for that. It’s all Andrew’s doing.

He’s just a precious guy. He’s inquisitive, quick-witted, forthright, and generous to a fault. Plus, he’s a writer who carries around a fountain pen. How could a girl not love that about him!



Could you share with us if you encountered some obstacles along the way, while developing Love and Andrew's relationship?

Love and Andrew are very playful and visceral, like two adolescent snow leopards chasing each other through the forest. But man, they quarrel about as much as they goof off. They both have very different, and very strong, opinions about love, fate, and freewill. Those arguments between them were pretty tough to write.

The other challenge was their intimate relationship. The book is about the goddess of love falling in love and learning what it means to be in a relationship—in, ahem, every way. So it was important to balance the innocence, curiosity, and sensuality of their scenes together. This tale isn’t called Touch for nothing.


Any message for our readers?

Thanks for stopping by this interview. I hope you enjoy my little story!



Book Description:

Kindle Edition, 237 pages || Paperback coming out in Jan 2015
Published October 27th 2014

The myth of Eros isn’t the truth. Her story is the truth . . .

Love is an immortal bad girl. With a strike of her arrow and a smirk on her face, she pins human hearts together against their will. It’s for their own good, of course—silly, clueless creatures that they are.

But Love has never loved. Not until the Fates parcel her off to a small, frostbitten town littered with needy souls. Not until she crosses paths with Andrew, a crippled boy whose gaze locks onto hers. Yet how can this be? Mortals don’t have the power to see deities.

The longer they’re friends, the more Love wishes she could touch Andrew. In gentle ways. In other tempting and reckless ways as well.

It’s impossible. She isn’t a true part of his world. She’s an outsider whose fingers will only ever sweep through him. A mischievous, invisible goddess who’s destined to be alone. And he’s destined for someone else. By order of the Fates, it’s Love’s duty to betray his trust. To seal his heart while ignoring the gash in her own.

Or she could become human. For there is one very tricky, very dangerous way to do so.

If only Andrew felt the same about her, it might be worth the risk.

*Mature YA. Intended for readers 17 and older*

About the Author:

Her kindergarten teacher told her mom that Natalia stared out the window too much, daydreaming instead of paying attention in class. It’s true. Eventually she learned to focus more in school (and to love it), but the daydreaming never stopped. So after earning her master’s in creative writing and spending a bunch of fun years as a magazine editor, Natalia is now a writer of YA romance.

She is also a total fool for first-kiss scenes, fanfiction, libraries, and starry nights.

Touch her my first book.

Follow Natalia: Website | Goodreads | Tumblr | Pinterest



Giveaway Alert!

There are two giveaways for this Indie Friday feature guys! For US and INTL readers. :)


US giveaway: Signed Copy of Touch by Natalia Jaster + bookmarks

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International Giveaway: E-book copy of Touch by Natalia Jaster

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Scavenger Hunt + Giveaway: Relish by Kate Evangelista

Hi guys! Today I'm posting as part of Kate Evangelista's scavenger hunt for her upcoming book, Relish. It is the sequel to Savor, which I liked so much.


Book Description:

I left Lunar Manor broken, seeking comfort in the hands of Laurel “the Dragon” Hardy, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Gossip. Okay, I may have used him to ease the pain He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named caused by his confession of loving someone else. On New Year’s Eve! Granted, he was drunk off his ass, but still! I stay with Larry mainly because the dreams are getting worse. Worse enough to wake me in the middle of the night needing the touch of another to save me from losing my mind.

Unfortunately, the handsome bassist of the uber successful indie rock band, Vicious, is never far from my mind. I thought I was rid of him once and for all only to have him show up at my hotel in London. Luka Visraya’s power over me is intense. No matter how far I run, I always end up circling back to him.

If you think my story is just some romance about two lovers getting back together, think again. Little did I know that returning to Luka meant I’d be plunging myself into a world more familiar than I ever thought possible. Trust me when I say I didn’t believe it either when the truth finally came out.

Release Date: January 12, 2015

Chapter 1 of Relish is divided into 11 pages. You have to start with Kate's blog and continue reading by hopping from one blog to another. Without further ado, here is my part. To continue reading, please click "Next Page" and you'll be directed to the next stop!

~Page 8~

I offered him my mug, doing my best Oliver Twist impression. He chuckled and sauntered to my kitchen in just his boxers. I took a second to admire his ass before minimizing the YouTube browser. I cued up my photo manipulation software, ready for another long day.

“Why are you up so early anyway? It’s not even six,” I asked as I pulled up one of Dray’s splatter drumming photos. I’d been tweaking the tinting for the past two days. I needed to get it right soon or I wouldn’t have time for the rest of the photos before I had to bring them to Eddy’s for framing.

“I have to head to the library before my first class and check out a couple of law books for my debate this week,” Larry replied over his shoulder. He puttered about in the kitchen and soon the sizzle of eggs and the scent of cooking bacon reached me. “How’s the project going?”

“Slow.” I grumbled curses under my breath.

The Spring Showcase opened the first of March and ran a week. Then I would have to defend my introspective to a panel consisting of the dean and several photography luminaries. My heartbeat sped up from zero to sixty at the thought. I had a week to finish everything. Framing took another week, and that was cutting it close because Eddy loved me. He wouldn’t do anyone else that kind of favor. I’d frame the pictures myself if I didn’t have to write the stupid paper that went with the pictures. In ten pages I needed to explain the theme behind the introspective and my driving force for the images. I could actually feel time slipping between my fingers. I had so much to do.

“I get that you want the pictures to turn out perfect, but at some point you need to let go and let your talent speak for itself.”


~Next Page~



Author Bio:

When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn't going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department and never looked back. Today, she is a graduate of De La Salle University - Manila with a Bachelor of Arts in Literature. She taught high school English for three years and was an essay consultant for two. Currently she writes full-time and is based in the Philippines.

Follow Kate:

Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram | Wattpad




Giveaway Alert!


The giveaway will be at Kate's website. ;)

The prizes for the giveaway are as follows:

2 Swag Packs
1 signed copy of Taste with swag
1 signed copy of Savor with swag
1 Grand Prize of an ultimate Relish-themed swag pack with a signed copy of Relish



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

[Blog Tour] Review + Giveaway: The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer by Laxmi Hariharan

Book Description:

Paperback, November 13, 2014

A YA thriller, with strong dystopian undertones and a kickass protagonist, taking you on a white knuckle ride through a disintegrating Bombay City.

A girl desperate to rescue her best friend.
A cop willing to do anything to save the city he serves.
A delusional doctor bent on annihilation.

When Ruby Iyer's best friend is kidnapped by the despotic Dr Kamini Braganza, she will do anything to rescue him. Anything, including taking the help of the reticent Vikram Roy, a mysterious cop-turned-rogue on a mission to save Bombay. The city needs all the help it can get, and these two are the only thing standing between its total destruction by Dr Braganza's teen army. As Bombay falls apart around them, will Ruby be able to save her friend and the city? Will she finally discover her place in a city where she has never managed to fit in? And what about her growing feelings for Vikram?

Reviewer's Copy: Ebook

Source: Badass Marketing(Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer was unlike any book I have read in the past. First and foremost, it was set in chaotically gorgeous Bombay. It also had heavy whimsy - which made various pieces of the story work together as a whole. Because of this, one side of the novel was hihgly unpredictable, while the other side remained predictable. It was hard for me to classify under which genre The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer would fall: YA paranormal, YA contemporary or YA science fiction? It was a crossover, more likely. It had undertones of dystopia, with the onslaught of pre-apocalypse, hints of paranormal/fantasy with the mythology involved, whispers of science fiction with the experiments, and finally contemporary with the budding romance.

Ruby was an imperfect yet determined heroine. Ruby’s flaws made her more realistic for me. She was fiery, had a bit of a temper, dangerously on the brink of violence and yet there was good in her: her desire to save her friendship with Pankaj, and to rescue her best friend, and finally to stop Dr. Braganza. She was a balanced character. Although I was not able to fully connect with her, I found her interesting.


Vikram, the policeman who kept on helping Ruby, was one of the characters that stood out for me. Strict yet thoughtful, he went out of his way to help Ruby. There was something so gentle, tame and sweet about him. Though I wished that more of his personality and past would be explored so that I could get to know Vikram more as a character. The almost-love tension between him and Ruby were one of the things I liked to read.

The plot itself was quite unpredictable. The pre-apocalypse came with bursts of violence, whimsy, and blood. It was, in fact, startlingly harsh that I found myself rereading some parts in utter horror. In a sense, the novel had good action and suspense bits, the kind that makes your heart race, and makes you sit on the edge of your seat.

The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer was heavily whimsical, atmospheric and unique. Set in chaotic and culturally colorful Bombay, I felt like I was transported to India. The series is one of a kind and has a very high potential to be an epic series that readers could sink their teeth into. With the original story and high rate of unpredictabiity, Laxmi Hariharan would keep readers entertained. Readers that indulge in suspense/thriller, culturally evocative literature, and dystopia/apocalyptic stories will like this.

Rating:


3 Cupids = Unrequited book love.
Had certain expectations for the book. The book was flawed but I still enjoyed it.

About Laxmi Hariharan

A near life experience told Laxmi Hariharan to write. She never stopped.

Laxmi is the creator of Ruby Iyer, and the Amazon bestselling, eLit Gold winner The Destiny of Shaitan (Bombay Chronicles, 1). She has been a journalist and a global marketer with NBCU and MTV. Laxmi also blogs for Huffington Post, among others.

London is where she writes. Bombay is what fires her imagination.

Reach Laxmi: Twitter | Website.



Giveaway Alert!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord + Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong


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

I spent four hours catching up and listing down books from Goodreads. I'm ashamed and at the same time surprised at the number of books that was new to me. I read through all the book descriptions and took note of the titles. Some of those jumped out at me, such as The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord and Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong.

**Don't forget to join the giveaway: Win signed copies of Ignite Me + A Thousand Pieces of You or a book worth $15 from Book Depo!


Book Description:

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: March 31st 2015

Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for a year, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

Why I Chose this Book: I have chosen this mainly because of the good feedback for her first book, Open Road Summer, which I'm dying to read. I just can't seem to find a copy and I always get distracted. On the other hand, who could say no to that gorgeous cover huh? I love the sunset effect - it looks absolutely romantic and nostalgic at the same time.

Book Description:

Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: April 7th 2015

Sisters Moria and Ashyn are the Keeper and Seeker of Edgewood. Or at least, they were.

Their village is gone. Their friends have betrayed them. And now, the emperor has sent them on a mission to rescue the children of Edgewood—accompanied by Prince Tyrus and a small band of imperial warriors. But the journey proves more perilous than they could have imagined. With treachery and unrest mounting in the empire, Moria and Ashyn will have to draw on all their influence and power to overcome deadly enemies—not all of them human—and even avert an all-out war.

Why I Chose This: I loved, loved, loved Sea of Shadows - the first book. It was one of the best fantasy books that I read. I loved how the author dragged the budding romance, so much so that I wanted to trap the couples together in an isolated island myself. Looking forward to more epicness!

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


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fragments of Life 2.0: New Look + Giveaway!

Introducing Fragments of Life 2.0: more reviews, new features and new look! Hey guys, did you see what Hazel from Stay Bookish did to my blog?? She gave it a makeover! What do you think? It also came with a blog button. :)



Ahem, of course this deserves a bit of a celebration. I have been using the old blog layout for more than four years. Honestly, it feels liberating to actually move on to something else - something new. Hence, this beautiful, corkboard background with notepad and post-its with washi tape theme. (Thanks Hazel!)

I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank you, my special reader, for sticking with me for the last four years and nine months. It really means a lot to me that you guys would actually hit follow on this blog and be interested on what I have to say about books, authors and book-related events and stuff. Especially considering that I have been on a semi-hiatus for months (that ends now, though). Moving forward, I'm gearing up for late 2014 and early 2015. Seriously, I love you all! I'm really low profile when it comes to blogoversaries and I rarely speak out about it. A giveaway is way overdue, but before I go on to that, here are some of the things that are coming to the blog soon:

  1. Features posts wherein I eat, read and treat you to specific food mentioned in books. (Yes, I'm really looking forward to this one. You just can't imagine how much.)
  2. Indie Friday! So, it's not a secret that I support YA and NA indie authors. So I'm thinking of making this promoting-indie-authors thing a Friday thing. It could be every two weeks, though.
  3.  More reviews. Here are the reviews I have scheduled: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios, Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, Proxy, Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little, The Young Elites by Marie Lu, A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray, and more.

There are two giveaways - one for PH residents and one for international readers.

**Guys, I just corrected the link to the site, for the tweet entries. Thanks to Dianne from Oops! I Read A Book Again, for informing me!


Giveaway #1: Win signed copies of Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi + A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray! Open to PH residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Giveaway #2: For my international readers, you could win a book worth $15 from the Book Depository. Open internationally

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Review + Giveaway: The Extraordinary Life of Lara Craft by Lola Salt

Book Description:
The Extraordinary Life of Lara Craft by Lola Salt
(Lara Craft Saga #1)
Publication date: October 7th 2014
Genres: Comedy, New Adult, Romance

Synopsis:

From bestselling authors Becky Wicks (Before He Was Famous, Before He Was Gone) and Sarah Alderson (Hunting Lila, Fated, Come Back to Me) comes a new romance with a difference…

After losing her job and her boyfriend on the same day, Lara’s beginning to wonder if her life can possibly get any worse. Then along comes Jamie, a childhood friend, offering her a job delivering mysterious packages to random destinations around the world and suddenly things are looking up.

Lara packs her bags and sets off on an epic adventure, meeting billionaire Arabic Princes, rugged cowboys, a sparkling wannabe vampire, a love guru with sex on the brain and Angelina Jolie’s bodyguards along the way. But though trouble always seems to find Lara, it seems love is rather more elusive.

Pack your bags. The adventure’s about to begin!

Goodreads | Amazon

Reviewer's Copy: E-ARC

Source: Xpresso Book Tours (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

The Extraordinary Life of Lara Craft was definitely one of the craziest, most unique New Adult novels I have ever read so far. I didn't know what to expect in the beginning but I was happy and satisfied with the story in the end.

Let me start with Lara: smart, funny, a bit out of control, impulsive at times and a whole lot of crazy. At first, I had laughed, startled and panicked at her little acts of living the life and making the most out of everything. She was quite the imperfect heroine, getting into all sorts of mess from running away from a cowboy who wanted to marry her, to getting high and getting caught, and to reading too much into actions that she did not see the truth in front of her. I liked how Lola Salt brought Lara's character so far down, into the depths of being broke, feeling lost and feeling just plain hurt, and then moving her through a series of reflections about life and about herself. She turned out to be a girl with a golden heart who made the right decisions, for the things that really mattered.

While Lara worked for Calibre Concierge, she was immersed in various cultures and societies. This was the part that I liked the most out of the book, aside from the humor. It was a feast for one's palate, in terms of the culture. Lara traipsed around UK, LA, Dubai, Australia, Bali and Somalia, delivering packages and meeting new people and friends. I particularly liked how Lola Salt captured the uniqueness and eccentricities of the cultures involved. In traveling, Lara found her true self and the right path for her.


Jamie was Lara's knight and shining armor. Gone were the nerdy looks. He was handsome, charming and thoughtful. I just felt that it would have been better if I had come to know him better, the same way I knew Lara by the end of the novel. He was such an intriguing character; despite the exotic cast in the book, he stood out for me.

The entire cast of characters were alive. I felt that they were not just stuffed into the novel, but actually served a purpose. They felt real to me. Alf, the startling and cursing Aussie; Tyler, the sexy Christian cowboy - I just found him to be adorable with his innocence and newfound interest in expressing his feelings; CP, the gay Arabian prince - he was my favorite secondary character, full of life and surprises.

Injected with craziness, whimsy, sexual and emotional tension, hesitation and humor, The Extraordinary Life of Lara Craft would not fail to entertain. It had the humor of Confessions of a Shopaholic, coupled with the craziness and whimsy, hot-and-cold romance, travels and adventures. Exotic and culturally flavorful, The Extraordinary Life of Lara Craft would appeal to different reader appetites. I recommend this to readers who would like to read about travelling, adventure and humorous contemporary New Adult.

Rating:

4 Cupids = Strong book love.
I really enjoyed this. I recommend this!

About the Authors:
Lola Salt is the pen name for two bestselling authors: Sarah Alderson & Becky Wicks.

Becky has written several non-fiction travel diaries for Harper Collins; Burqualicious, Balilicious & Latinalicious, and the new adult Starstruck Series featuring Before He Was Famous, Before He Was Gone and Before He Was a Secret.

Sarah is better known for her Young Adult novels, particularly the critically acclaimed Hunting Lila series (published by Simon & Schuster), as well as the Fated series. She also wrote the new adult romance Come Back To Me under another pen name of Mila Gray.

The two authors met in Bali. Come visit us sometime and we’ll buy you a coconut.

Author links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads



Giveaway Alert!


Open internationally. 15 ebook copies of The Extraordinary Life of Lara Craft


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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Review + Giveaway: Fall Like Rain by Ana Tejano

Hi guys,I'm excited to review a novel written by a fellow Filipina. It falls under the contemporary romance genre. Do stick around for the giveaway at the end! :)

Book Description:

Rain De Castro has been in love with her best friend, Mark Velasco, for almost the entire time she has known him, but she’s clearly in the friend zone because he’s happily in a relationship. Or so she thought, until the news of his break-up reaches her. Now that Mark’s single again, she decides that it’s time to get out of the zone. But when her cousin Lissa comes into the picture and sets her eyes on Mark, Rain feels troubled when he gets a little too friendly with her. Rain is determined to fight for what she feels this time, but is it worth the effort if it's a losing battle from the start? Will she back off to give way for her best friend's happiness, even if it means losing him to someone else again?

Goodreads | Smashwords | Amazon | Paperback order form

Reviewer's Copy: e-ARC

Source: Ana Tejano and Pinoy Book Tours(Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Fall Like Rain crawled its way into my heart. The story itself was simple and yet compelling. I was compelled to read as fast as I could. The writing was what I would consider superfluous - it just flowed from one scene to the next and the chapters were stitched together seamlessly. There were common elements based on the usual plotlines of Pinoy stories, but the author put so much life and color into the pages that it was enjoyable.

Initially, I found Rain to be naive and clueless. All the signs told her (and me) that Mark liked her more than a friend. But as the story progressed and Mark's history was revealed, I understood Rain's situation better. Aside from that, I also empathized with her. Rain was a typical Filipina, who was eager to find love once and for all. Let's move on to Mark. He was the thoughtful and do-it-all-for-you best friend, the knight in shining armor and the charmer. He had a soft spot for Rain and I liked how he came clean about his feelings and how he cared for her.

The romance aspect of the book was one of the things I liked most. It was a sweet kind of romance, lingering on the push-pull dynamics between Rain and Mark. It was drastically long since they stuck in the friend zone. I kept cheering them on, mentally pushing Rain and Mark together. Their interaction and banter were so sweet and cute. There were lots of "kilig" moments, the kind that brought butterlies in your stomach. I really enjoyed reading about these two, how their relationship slipped from friendship to something more, to spotting clues of the telltale signs of Mark's affection. I mused and investigated along with Rain.

The Filipino roots and culture within the novel were apparent: the extended family set-up, stretching from the parents, to the grandparents, to the cousins; the family events such as weddings, birthdays and the social responsibilities that came with attending and not attending; the ambiance at the workplace, wherein your coworkers could also be your friend, the ties were a bit closer than usual.

Fall Like Rain was a New Adult novel that read like Young Adult. It was a charming, wake-up-the-butterflies-in-your-stomach comfort read. You could finish this in one sitting. I recommend it to readers of contemporary romance.

Rating:

4 Cupids = Strong book love.
I really enjoyed this. I recommend this!


About the Author:

Ana Tejano has been in love with words and writing ever since she met Elizabeth Wakefield when she was in Grade 3. She has contributed several non-fiction pieces in print and online publications, and has been blogging for years. When she’s not writing, she works as a marketing lead for a multinational company by day, manages a book club, and serves in her church community in every other time that she doesn’t spend reading or sleeping. She lives in Metro Manila and is also known by another name in her other circles (but it’s not a secret identity, really).

Twitter | Facebook | Wattpad


Giveaway:


3 copies of Fall Like Rain ebook (International)
1 signed copy of Fall Like Rain paperback (PH)


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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Book Description:

Hardcover, 275 pages
Published September 9th 2014 by HarperTeen

Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare in this lush, romantic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.

“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Harper Collins(Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Illusions of Fate was set in a colonial period alternate world, with a strong vibe of historical fiction. There was a struggle and tension between the Albens and the Melenese. The story world presented a colonial experience that was both a reality and a history for many people around the world.

Finn and Jessamin were two of my most favorite characters. Being both Alben and Melenese, Jessamin was stuck in between, not as dark as her people but not as fair and pale of skin as the Albens. Studying in Albion, made her standout as an outcast. She seemed so out of place yet she was determined to survive. She had a strong spirit and an even stronger dedication to her people. She wanted to finish school and to be a teacher back in her island. Finn, on the other hand, was filled with mystery and charm. In the beginning, I even thought that he was the bad guy. But as the story moved forward, his protective layers and "public face" were peeled off, revealing the true Finn. He was not your typical noble. He was open minded, which seemed too advanced for the period they were in, and had a kind heart.

The secondary characters were also bright and radiant, shining along with the main characters. Sir Bird, an unlikely ally, had become my favorite literary pet. Although wordless, his (not an it as Jessamin would say) eye contact, caws, movements and beak-thrusting-into-the-air could convey so much meaning. Because of this, I found myself amazed with Kiersten White. She was able to "humanize" a crow so effectively. Eleanor was another bright star of the show. She was extremely loyal, smart and fun. She brought color and humor into the story. I just loved reading about her ramblings, her gossips and her plans.

Albion has a highly political society. The hierarchy was apparent, though it was not as detailed as I would have wanted it to be. As the story unfolded, magic's role in the society was emphasized - how it could create both order and chaos, and establish the grounds for changes. Although there were predictable variables in the novel, there were also unpredictable elements and twists.

The writing was smooth and beautiful, as it was in her debut Paranormalcy. White was a good a storyteller. What I liked most about her novels was the humorous tone and wit that were embedded in the pages. Nothing was ever boring in the hands of White. The characters' lines had me thoroughly entertained, cracking up with laughter and smiling. The banter between characters seemed so natural.

I loved that this novel was a standalone but I hated that I would not get to read about Finn more. I would have very much wanted to find out more about his past and how he came to be such a gentleman. Aside from that, there was a specific scene in the book related to the antagonist that troubled me. It remained a question in my head until the very end.

Illusions of Fate was a captivating and humorous colonial period fantasy. With explosions of magic, tragedy, social politics and twists and turns, Illusions of Fate will satisfy readers of fantasy and historical fiction. I recommend this to people who are looking for the following:YA books with humor and wit, colonial-period historical fiction (the likes of The Winner's Curse) and a quick read.

Rating:


4 Cupids = Strong book love.
I really enjoyed this. I recommend this!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Release Day Celebration: Giveaway: Loop by Karen Akins

Hi guys! I'm happy to be a part of this release day book blast hosted by Amber from Me, My Shelf and I. Stick around for a giveaway at the end. :)


Book Description:

Loop (Loop #1)
Author: Karen Akins
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.

After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.

Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.

But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future.

Goodreads
Barnes & Noble
Amazon

Praise:

"A creative take on romance in a high-stakes, high-concept mystery that trusts its readers' intelligence." - Kirkus

"LOOP is a page-turning adventure with some brilliant and original twists to the time travel genre. I devoured the entire book in one sitting!" - Julie Cross, Author of the TEMPEST series

"Hilarious and suspenseful with a delicious dash of romance, LOOP is a mind-bending good time!" - Melissa Landers, Author of the ALIENATED series


About The Author:

Karen Akins lives in the MidSouth where she writes humorous, light YA sci-fi. When not writing or reading, she loves lightsaber dueling with her two sons and forcing her husband to watch BBC shows with her.

Karen has been many things in her life: an archery instructor, drummer for the shortest-lived garage band in history, and a shockingly bad tic-tac-toe player.

Follow Karen: Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr | Instagram | Pinterest | Wattpad



Giveaway Alert!

Must be 13+ To Enter | Ships in US Only

One Winner will get a signed final copy of LOOP + a swag pack


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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: Blackbird by Anna Carey

Book Description:

Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 16th 2014 by HarperTeen

This twisty, breathless cat-and-mouse thrill ride, told in the second person, follows a girl with amnesia in present-day Los Angeles who is being pursued by mysterious and terrifying assailants.

A girl wakes up on the train tracks, a subway car barreling down on her. With only minutes to react, she hunches down and the train speeds over her. She doesn’t remember her name, where she is, or how she got there. She has a tattoo on the inside of her right wrist of a blackbird inside a box, letters and numbers printed just below: FNV02198. There is only one thing she knows for sure: people are trying to kill her.

On the run for her life, she tries to untangle who she is and what happened to the girl she used to be. Nothing and no one are what they appear to be. But the truth is more disturbing than she ever imagined.

The Maze Runner series meets Code Name Verity, Blackbird is relentless and action-packed, filled with surprising twists.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Harper Collins(Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

I expected Blackbird to be something like The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings, in the sense that there would be chasing, hunting and killing. I was pleasantly surprised to find a mystery/thriller with a strong contemporary vibe. At first, I was taken aback with the second person narration. I found it to be unique and extremely risky. Because of this, I got to participate in the heroine's journey. I, myself, became the heroine in a sense. Though I struggled a bit in the beginning because of the second person POV, eventually I got accustomed to it.

I had come to know the little bit of Sunny that was revealed in the story: quick hands, quiet footsteps, smart and a little bit lost, curious and passionate. Through the flashbacks, small details were given, enough to make sense of the puzzle that was Sunny's life.

Blackbird had startlingly violent bursts of action and adrenaline all over it. This was coupled with the heroine's lack of memory, which made things more interesting. There was something cinematic, heart-pounding-panting-in-the-moment vibe about these events. The second person narration could be a factor in this effect, as I, the reader, was involved.

Throughout the story, the questions, that were buzzing around my head like bees, were answered one by one. But I am a bit frustrated that there was one question, the most important one for me, that remained unanswered. The curiosity about Sunny's past before she was thrown into the wild chaos drove me crazy. That burning curiosity alone, though, was enough to make me rush through the pages. The ending was hopeful and was the perfect surprise for a weak and bone-tired Sunny.

Blackbird was a limb-jolting-read-at-the-edge-of-your-seat and one-of-a-kind mystery thriller. With a contemporary vibe, a dash of romance, a handful of crimson violence and adrenaline rush, and a smattering of colorful memories, readers would be entertained, mind-boggled, and delighted. The second person narration might not be for everybody. But I would recommend that you try it out for yourself. This book is ideal for readers who want a short, can-be-finished-in-one-sitting book, readers who want mystery thrillers and finally, readers who are interested in books tackling memory.

Rating:


4 Cupids = Strong book love.
I really enjoyed this. I recommend this!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Review + Giveaway: The Bodies We Wear by Jeyn Roberts

Book Description:

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 23rd 2014 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

A streetwise girl trains to take on a gang of drug dealers and avenge her best friend’s death in this thriller for fans of Scott Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman.

People say when you take Heam, your body momentarily dies and you catch a glimpse of heaven. Faye was only eleven when dealers forced Heam on her and her best friend, Christian. But Faye didn’t glimpse heaven—she saw hell. And Christian died.

Now Faye spends her days hiding her secret from the kids at school, and her nights training to take revenge on the men who destroyed her life and murdered her best friend. But life never goes the way we think it will. When a mysterious young man named Chael appears, Faye's plan suddenly gets a lot more complicated. Chael seems to know everything about her, including her past. But too many secrets start tearing her world apart: trouble at school, with the police, and with the people she thought might be her friends. Even Gazer, her guardian, fears she's become too obsessed with vengeance. Love and death. Will Faye overcome her desires, or will her quest for revenge consume her?

Reviewer's Copy: e-ARC

Source: Aisha and Knopf Books for Young Readers(Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

The concept behind The Bodies We Wear was one of a kind. Set in a world that was both startlingly dark, with an abundance of rain, violence, and dire circumstances, The Bodies We Wear became the ultimate dystopic setting. The ambiance was so pronounced, it ripped into the reader with hopelessness and put a weight on my shoulders. It was hard to ignore how realistic it was, given the present times.

Heaven's Dream, also more popularly known as Heam, was all the rage in Faye's world. Affordable and accessible, it could bring you to your own personal cloud nine for just 20 bucks a hit. The drug's aftermath and long-lasting effect was apparent in how the society had changed and how strong the stigma of being a Heam addict was. In present day, there is a stigma and ever-present-judgment of drug abusers. In The Bodies We Wear, once a Heam addict, always a Heam addict. There was no salvation, no second chance and no opportunities. It was the ultimate dead end. Studies showed that almost all Heam abusers cannot recover. This made me realize how we sometimes judge drug abusers and bring them down instead of helping them recover. This was an eye-opener for me.

Faye was eleven years old when she was forced to take Heam. One out of 100 people who take Heam, overdose. She was one in a hundred. As a souvenir, she got a web of scars over her heart: purple-colored veins that would never let her forget. With the help of Gazer, the ex-police officer who saved her, she managed to get on decently. She went to Sebastian Clover, on a full-ride scholarship, and was fit from intense daily training. It was not hard to connect to Faye, given all the things she has been through. But sometimes, her burden passed on to the reader. The writing was that effective: the weight of her past, her present and her future jumped out of the pages.

One night, as Faye was stalking her target, Chael appeared. Handsome, fidgety, with piercing green eyes, Chael was not someone that Faye expected to interact with. She mostly kept to herself, even at school. The weird guy seemed to know where she was, what she was thinking and even a part of her past. She has no memory Chael but she was determined to find out his secrets. I found Chael to be affectionate and gentle and sweet. He has this boynextdoor thing going on. I loved how Chael and Faye's relationship developed from being strangers sharing a conversation in the rain to being emotionally-invested in one another. It was the kind of relationship that I would like to call effortless. It was just like breathing, natural and easy. All they had to do was keep it going.

The ending broke me. I was too attached and too invested with Faye and Chael that the ending tore my heart into a million tiny pieces and put it back together again with super glue. The story was wave after wave of obstacles, observations and realizations, dreams - realistic and not, flashbacks, and emotions. By the time it was over, I was tired but relieved for Faye and Chael.

The writing itself was good, the kind of good that could make readers lose themselves in the story. The Bodies We Wear was a crossover of dark contemporary and supernatural. It was both sweet and bitter, offering a mouthful of flavors of life and reality. This tackled various relationships within the book: daughter to father figure, daughter to mother, friends, lovers, enemies. I recommend this to readers who are looking for a heavy read - dark/emotional contemporary with a dash of supernatural.

Rating:


4 Cupids = Strong book love.
I really enjoyed this. I recommend this!

Giveaway
 
Two lucky readers from Fragments of Life will win a finished copy of The Bodies We Wear by Jeyn Roberts! US/CA only, as per publisher's request. Sorry my lovelies. There will be an international giveaway soon.


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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review: Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

http://pinoybooktours.blogspot.com/2014/10/ongoing-black-ice-by-becca-fitzpatrick.html

Guys, I'm part of the Black Ice Blog Tour hosted by Pinoy Book Tours. I volunteered to be the firs to post because I'm just so excited for Becca's standalone! Been a fan of hers for years now and I must say that Black Ice didn't disappoint me.

Book Description:

Hardcover, 400 pages
October 7th 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Sometimes danger is hard to see... until it’s too late.

Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn't prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.

In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there... and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.

But nothing is as it seems in the mountains, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

BLACK ICE is New York Times bestselling author Becca Fitzpatrick’s riveting romantic thriller set against the treacherous backdrop of the mountains of Wyoming. Falling in love should never be this dangerous…

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Becca Fitzpatrick + National Book Store and Penguin Teen(Thank you!!)

My Thoughts:

Note: Spoiler free! It's such a shame I can't share with you what I really want to say. Please feel free to fangirl with me @precious_shusky

Hush, Hush was one of my first YA reads ever. Let me put it this way: I loved Becca's writing a lot. With Black Ice, I honestly didn't know what to expect out of the story but I definitely expected something good. I wasn't disappointed.

With the setting of far-from-civilization Wyoming mountains and the fierce cold and the stuck-in-the-here-and-the-now situation, Black Ice had the fine elements of a thriller. Throw in uninhabited cabins with history of death and blood and two kidnappers, and the author had me reading at the speed of lightning. There was something about being stuck due to the situation and the weather that made my heart hammer and drove me into a jittery, paranoid mess of a worried reader. These elements brought out the desire and the fight to survive in our heroine, Britt. She was really struggling against all odds: against her kidnappers, against the weather and even against her own weaknesses and emotions.

Britt, as a character alone, without the dangerous experience, was lovable and unforgettable. She began her journey to the mountains with just one thought in mind: to prove to her ex-boyfriend Calvin that she could go backpacking and survive the Teton Crest. Instead, she proved herself as a survivor in more ways than one. She ended her journey with eyes wide open, observant and appreciative of life. As she spent her days in the mountain, she was looking back on memories. In these moments, I got to know her well: her past, her feelings, the changes that happened in her life, her little observations about the people around her, her relationships and most of all, her strengths and weaknesses. The flashbacks tugged at my heartstrings and made me feel closer to Britt. I loved her to bits. Every step of the way, I was cheering her, scheming with her and thinking with her.

Mason. He was truly one in a million. Being one of the kidnappers, I should have hated and doubted him from the start but for some reason, I couldn't. He was an enemy and an ally but on top of it all, he was a mystery that I wanted to savor, examine and solve him. He could be harsh, go with his partner in crime, and act like he does not care at all. However, Mason also has a soft side - he was gentle, thoughtful and considerate sometimes. He was both, effectively driving Britt insane into interpreting his actions and evaluating his motives. Through it all, I found myself drawn to him, admiring his well-planned mission, his beautiful mind and everything about him.

The exchanges between Britt, her kidnappers, Korbie and Calvin were quite colorful and meaningful, shedding light on who they really were when it comes down to dire and desperate circumstances. Black Ice peeled off the characters' layers, revealing their personalities, weaknesses and strengths with every page. The characters that were introduced in the beginning of the novel were not the same characters that I encountered in the ending. There were changes in them, revelations and final decisions on who they would be and who they would be with. No one was perfect. No one was the same after what happened in Wyoming. I absolutely loved this part about Black Ice.

Black Ice is absolute perfection with the sizzling romance, the heart-pounding intensity and explosions of violence, the mind-blowing twists and turns and the lovable well developed main characters. Unputdownable, deliciously good, atmospheric, beautifully written, Black Ice is delightful for readers who are looking for psychological thrillers and standalone novels. This novel took away my heart. I'm in love with Black Ice (and Mason). If you are into crime in fiction as well, try this. I promise, you won't regret it. I highly recommend this!

Rating:


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