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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Thursday, December 11, 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.


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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