Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Out and About: Book Signing with Leigh Bardugo + Giveaway: Signed Shadow and Bone + Six of Crows

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

Shadow and Bone has been in my wishlist for a very long time now. I love fantasy, stories set in Russia and light versus darkness theme. I kept delaying getting my hands on the first and book. And when I finally got a copy, I couldn't stop reading. The book basically took hold of me and refused to give me my life back (in a very good way, I assure you.) That was the beginning of my fangirling. This weekend, I was blessed to be able to attend #LeighBardugoInPh.

The Basics
Who: Leigh Bardugo
What books: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising + Six of Crows.
When: June 21st 2015
Where: National Book Store, Glorietta 1

What I learned about Leigh Bardugo, her books and her writing style from the Q&A:

Here is my question to Leigh: Exotic languages are featured in your series. Could you tell us if these are inspired by the current languages of the world or if you followed Tolkien’s steps and made your own languages?
Leigh based the languages in the Grisha trilogy on the cultures and languages of the world. Ravkan was Russian. Kerch was based on the language in the Dutch Republic during the 1700s. Fjerdan was her Scandinavian.

If you had to choose one amplifier from the Grisha trilogy, what will it be and why?
Leigh will choose the firebird. She is an animal lover. An amplifier could be an animal or a person, slain, and then pieces of them - usually bones,antlers,etc - are worn by the Grisha. This boosts their power. Leigh had a hard time writing the scenes wherein animals were killed.

With the editing process, I assume you removed some scenes from the manuscript. Are there any scenes (HOPEFULLY A BIT STEAMY OR ROMANCE-HEAVY) that you cut and regret?
No, Leigh writes outlines, so the cutting of scenes is rare. However, she took some action scenes from Siege and Storm and put them into the middle of Ruin and Rising.

Can you make a haiku, right now, to describe Six of Crows?

Six deadly outcasts
One impossible heist, yeah!
You should order it

We heard you're writing a book about Sturmhond. When can we expect to hear all about it? And obviously we all love him, but what was special about writing Sturmhond that he's getting a spin-off?
Sturmhond is a very interesting character. He's a privateer and is always doing risky and adventurous things. While Leigh was writing Siege and Storm, this (Sturmhond) character swaggered his way into the scene and started talking. He wouldn't shut up. Leigh already know how his story is gonna go and who he will end up with. However, Leigh is taking a break from the Grisha trilogy after writing the sequel of Six of Crows. She might (please, please, please) write Sturmhond's story after that.

Your upcoming book, Six of Crows is set in the same world as the Grisha trilogy, what made you decide to continue writing a story in the same world instead of creating a new one?
Kerch is a very interesting setting. It is cosmopolitan, hub of legal and illegal trade.

Supposedly a villain who wants to take over the world but like me, many readers ended up liking The Darkling instead. How hard was it to build The Darkling’s character and was it intentional to make him that kind of character?
Leigh set out to write characters and not love interests. Each character has their own motives, goals, reasons and journey.

Is there any chance we’ll have a novella about Alina’s origins and where her powers came from?
There are many threads about Alina's past and it would be interesting to explore them. Leigh says this is a possibility! Hopefully in the near future.

What was your inspiration for creating The Grisha?
Leigh likes Old World England but she felt that there were too many stories set in England. Leigh wanted to bring readers to another place. She thought of Russia, the era wherein there were two elements at work: rise of modern technology and medieval magic.

Six of Crows is the first book in a new series also set in the Grisha world. How has the experience of conceptualizing and writing this new series been unique from writing the Shadow and Bone books?
In Six of Crows, the whole setting was in place before Leigh wrote it. It has five POVs and flashbacks. Shadow and Bone was a classic chosen one story. Leigh wanted to write a book about the people who aren't chosen.

Aside from high fantasy, what genre do you see yourself writing in the future?
Horror. Leigh's upcoming book is called Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, which comes out in August. Leigh is also going to be contributing a story which is not set in our world, for an anthology called Summer Days & Summer Nights, edited by Stephanie Perkins.

If you were to collaborate with one author on a story, who would it be and what would the story be?
Leigh would like to write with Laini Taylor. Although she noted that they have very different writing styles. While Leigh outlines, Laini writes the entire book, reads it again and edits it, and so on.

How has life changed for you after the success of the Grisha trilogy?
A few years back, Leigh was really broke. Although she worked as a make-up artist in Hollywood, and people perceives this as a glamorous job, her heart wasn't exactly there. A friend of hers drew a picture of her in a book signing, as a gift to her on her 14th birthday. She knew that this scenario was something that she would like to experience and continue experiencing in her life. Leigh is literally has her dream job.

Big thanks to National Book Store for the awesome event! TWO lucky readers of Fragments of Life will win a signed paperback of Shadow and Bone and a pre-order of Six of Crows.

Okay ladies and gents, mechanics of the giveaway. There will be two winners. The winner from the Philippines will win the signed paperback copy and the international winner will win a pre-order of Six of Crows! How does that sound? :) Enter below.

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Monday, June 01, 2015

[Blog Tour] Review + Giveaway: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Book Description:

Hardcover, 448 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Greenwillow Books

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Harper Collins(Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Alexandra Ridgemont was an admirable character. Despite being schizophrenic, she was eager to get through senior year as normally as possible. She was cautious, observant and brave, in such a way that was right and just. She cared about other people, she supported her friends aka club mates in any way she could. I liked encountering such a strong and problematic heroine in Made You Up. She was flawed, and I like that about her - she seemed more realistic this way.

Miles' physical appearance reminded Alex of her first “hallucination” when a blue-eyed boy helped her free lobsters when she was a child. I perceived Miles as a slightly scary and unpredictable character. He triggered warning signs in my head, and always had me on the lookout for anything suspicious. But Miles was also attractive in his own way, a genius and a gentleman sometimes. Miles shed his stiff outer shell and showed his soft side later on in the story, only then I was able to understand his complexity. I loved how Zappia made her characters complex. She did not set things in simple black and white, there were a lot of grey areas, which would be explored, and I liked that.

Schizophrenia was a constant presence in the book: it affected the story in such a way that the reader would not easily distinguish what was real and what was not. I was attentive to all the details throughout the story, in an effort to spot what was part of the story and what was part of Alex’ hallucination. This trying-to-figure-out-what-is-real-and-what-is-not routing was something that I look forward to in psychological novels. It goes beyond the typical storytelling and adds a layer of unwanted additions on top of the story. It was the reader’s responsibility to get lost in the story and find his/her way out to the other side, to understand the main character and the plot as a whole.

Made You Up was enchanting to me. The story had a holistic aspect, as it explored various elements of the book; it tackled psychological problems, family dynamics, friendship and budding romance, and the line between reality and hallucination. But what I really loved was Alex and Miles' interaction and banter. The back and forth zapping of energy and tension between them, as they learned more about one another, was refreshing. They were unlike other YA couples that I have encountered so far. Alex was a paranoid girl who kept overthinking and over-analyzing Miles' words and actions while Miles was a genius who didn't let anything slip away. But then he was also not as sensitive and not as perceptive of others' feelings.

Made You Up is a heart-racing, suspenseful psychological concoction, with an ample dose of crazy, budding romance, pranks and, surprises and revelations. I highly recommend this to readers of psychological novels and contemporary romance. If you want something a little crazy with a dash of love, this is the book for you.


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

About the Author:

Francesca is a YA writer represented by Louise Fury. Her debut novel, MADE YOU UP, is out now from Greenwillow/ HarperCollins.

Follow Francesca: Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Facebook | DeviantArt

Francesca also draws! Check out her art - Miles and Alex from Made You Up!

Credit to Francesca Zappia | Source

Credit to Francesca Zappia | Source

There's a giveaway for an ARC of MADE YOU UP! One lucky Philippine resident will win this one.

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