Sunday, April 23, 2017

Love at First Spark: Six de los Reyes (Author Interview)

Photo: Dan Whale/Unsplash

Welcome and step right up to Love at First Spark, a blog event featuring #SparkNA authors! Get a bit intimate and learn more about the awesome people behind your next favorite romance reads. Check out the blog event schedule and the list of participating authors here.

Today's featured author wrote a very summer-y book. Find out more about Six de los Reyes and discover her nerdy side (YAY, NERDS ARE SEXY!) from my interview below.

Questions and Answers

  1. What is your inspiration in writing “Sounds Like Summer”?
    Like most stories, Sounds Like Summer is a product of my imagination, my fascination and love of music festivals, and my inevitable propensity to write about conversations I’m not invited in. Sounds Like Summer is part of the #SparkNA class mentored by Mina V. Esguerra and sponsored by Spark Anvil. The theme was “Be Brave” Write in striking clarity the truth you’re afraid of. At the time, I was on field with several research associates and one drunken night at the beach, we shared stories about our lab lives and the dark clouds that follow us along. I did not set out to write about depression or touch on mental health. I just wanted to write about the beach and a music festival, but the character of Lux had anchored herself in my mind and I knew I had to write about her and her journey.

  2. How is your writing process like? Do you have any quirks in your writing process?
    I outline! Outlines are very useful. They give me structure and provide a reference point for each part of the story. As for quirks, every book has a “personality”, and some are more demanding than others. Lux and Micah were nicer to me. While they did set me off into a frenzied panic, afraid I’d lose the words before I wrote them down, they didn’t demand to be written at odd hours of the night and they didn’t wake me up after only two hours of sleep. I can’t multitask, so when I write it’s the only thing I need to be doing. Can’t have snacks or drinks—I always forget about them.

  3. If you will be given a minute of face to face encounter with any of your book characters, who would you want it to be with and what would you say to him or her?
    Can I cheat and say instead of meeting with just one character, can I just attend an EDR concert and watch NICO, Rhys, Egosonic, Arabella and everyone else perform live? (with a backstage pass and a meet and greet HAHA!)

  4. Do you believe in love at first sight? Why or why not?
    I don’t think about it as “love” at first sight, but I think sometimes you get this feeling, this inkling like how an object gains potential energy, gravitational or elastic, and then it reaches that instantaneous point when force is released and sparks fly, so to speak. I guess in short, it might not be love, but a potential love. 

  5. Give us your best banat or pick-up line.
    Hi. Would you like to conduct an experiment with me? I can talk nerdy all night.

  6. Finally, use “spark” in a sentence.
    Sorry, was that a spark? Let me review the voltage applied to the current, I can’t seem to resist you.

About Six

Six de los Reyes has been reading and making up stories for as far as she can remember. In fifth
grade, she learned to wield dragons and phoenixes through written word. As a pretend grownup, she writes contemporary romance novellas. Her day job doing science has something to do with being part-time labrat. She currently lives next to the sea.

Other works include Just for the Record and Beginner's Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions.

Find more about Six: Wattpad | Twitter | Goodreads

About Sounds Like Summer

It’s not just a weekend for Lux Castelo. She has a plan, of course.

Phase One: Escape to the beach for a music festival.
Phase Two: Deal with what she can’t control.
Phase Three: Return to reality whole and ready.

Nowhere in that plan is Micah Jacinto, self-proclaimed adventurer and the kind of boy with his head stuck in the clouds and the moon inked on his arm—everything her rational sense tells her to stay away from. And yet Lux finds herself welcoming the distraction. As they spend the entire weekend together, Micah leads her to rediscover the lost pieces of herself amidst the excitement and the confusion of a raving mosh pit.

But all weekends come to an end and Lux needs to return to the dreaded reality she’s running away from. Does being brave enough to leave summer behind mean being brave enough to ask Micah to stay?
Series: Summer Storm Book 1
Publisher: Spark Books, an imprint of Anvil Publishing
ISBN: 9786214201013
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 128
Sounds Like Summer is available at National Book Store and Powerbooks branches or order online here: Amazon | Anvil

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Love at First Spark: Katt Briones (Author Interview)

Photo: Dan Whale/Unsplash

Welcome and step right up to Love at First Spark, a blog event featuring #SparkNA authors! Get a bit intimate and learn more about the awesome people behind your next favorite romance reads. Check out the blog event schedule and the list of participating authors here.

Are you ready to meet our featured author for today? Sit back and relax. Read on and meet Katt Briones, author of Chasing Mr. Prefect.

Questions and Answers

  1. What is your inspiration in writing “Chasing Mr. Prefect”?
    I was reading a story written by a friend back then that featured a main character / love interest that were complete opposites. It made me want to play around with this trope and then I decided to use it for my #SparkNA pitch.

  2. How is your writing process like? Do you have any quirks in your writing process?
    Process - I don’t usually use outlines. Most of the time I just write what I want and work from there, but I learned how much easier it is to write with an outline thanks to the #SparkNA class haha! As for quirks… sometimes when I’m out of ideas I turn to liquor. I also try to go out when I’m stuck since I tend to get a lot of scene ideas while in transit.

  3. If you will be given a minute of face to face encounter with any of your book characters, who would you want it to be with and what would you say to him or her?
    I would want to have a minute with Vinnie’s stepsister, Liana, so I could learn how to make the perfect Sansrival.

  4. Do you believe in love at first sight? Why or why not?
    I believe in lust at first sight (lol) but love, not really. Maybe you get really infatuated, but love, that’s a long stretch. 

  5. Give us your best banat or pick-up line.
    Are you my manuscript? Because I’m not doing you when I probably should. (Engk! That’s my last na!) >.<

  6. Finally, use “spark” in a sentence.
    Every great revolution begins with a spark :)

About Katt

Katt Briones writes Young Adult, fan fiction, and romance stories to unwind and de-stress. She graduated with a degree in Business Economics and is currently working as a financial reporting analyst. When not busy with work and writing, she spends her free time reading, sketching landscapes, fangirling over Korean girl groups, and looking up pasta recipes on Youtube. She currently resides in Las Pinas with her family, a pet dog named Kai, and a cat named Mr. Smith.

Find more about Katt: Wattpad | Twitter | Facebook | InstagramGoodreads

About Chasing Mr. Prefect

For the first time in her life, Vinnie finds herself on the brink of academic suspension.

While standing up to a bully is something she'll never regret, she has to take on additional responsibilities in lieu of punishment for the offense. This unfortunately involves working with Cholo, the head disciplinary prefect, who seems to take delight in other people's blunders. Her determination to match his expectations eventually leads her into a crazy chase to keep up.

Will Vinnie be able to carry on and eventually catch up? Or will the chase be too much for her to handle?

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Spark Books, an imprint of Anvil Publishing
ISBN: 9786214201099
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 144
Chasing Mr. Prefect is available at National Book Store and Powerbooks branches or order online here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Review: Antisocial by Jillian Blake

by Jillian Blake

Alexandria Prep is hacked in this exhilarating whodunit set in the age of social media and the cloud—Pretty Little Liars meets WikiLeaks.

Senior spring at Alexandria Prep was supposed to be for sleeping through class and partying with friends. But for Anna Soler, it’s going to be a lonely road. She’s just been dumped by her gorgeous basketball star boyfriend—with no explanation. Anna’s closest friends, the real ones she abandoned while dating him, are ignoring her. The endearing boy she’s always had a complicated friendship with is almost too sympathetic.

But suddenly Anna isn’t the only one whose life has been upended. Someone is determined to knock the kings and queens of the school off their thrones: one by one, their phones get hacked and their personal messages and photos are leaked. At first it’s funny—people love watching the dirty private lives of those they envy become all too public.

Then the hacks escalate. Dark secrets are exposed, and lives are shattered. Chaos erupts at school. As Anna tries to save those she cares about most and to protect her own secrets, she begins to understand the reality of our always-connected lives:

Sometimes we share too much. 

(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Expected publication date:  May 16th 2017
Source/Format: eARC via Netgalley
Pre-order links: Amazon Barnes&Noble

My Thoughts:

TRIGGER WARNING: self-harm, suicide, bullying, social anxiety disorder

Anna Soler and her friends are in their senior year. Instead of spending her last days of high school with her friends, Anna chose to abandon them for her shiny jock boyfriend, Palmer, who eventually dumped her inexplicably over the holidays. After the breakup, she wants in again with her old group of friends. While working to earn back their friendship, something huge happened in their school. An email containing a list of google searches was sent to all the students. Then one by one, the hacker starts knocking off the popular kids from their thrones by revealing which (humiliating) google search entries are theirs along with other personal information such as photos and text messages. Anna who was briefly associated with the popular crowd via her ex-boyfriend becomes worried that her personal info will be leaked also and the image that she is projecting to the world will be shattered.

For context, I will mention that the students in this high school subscribe to social strata labels:  Instas are the popular, good-looking athletes, jocks and cheer squadders; Hoodies are the nerds and techies; Thesbos are thespians, artists, vloggers; and Future Leaders are the members of student council. (I know, I hate their clique names, too!) Anna and friends are the little rebels who do not hang out with their own kind. Anna paints and is therefore a Thesbo. Nikki is a stage crew in the drama club, so technically also a Thesbo. Andrew is a lacrosse player, an Insta. Jethro and Haven are both math geeks, the Hoodies. And Rad is the editor in chief of the school paper so she is a Future Leader.

The book depicted a really interesting setting of school frenzy which is caused by a leak of the intimate details the students themselves input in their smartphones. A perfectly stratified high school descended into chaos. It ruined reputations, friendships, prospects for college, and a lot of other things. It’s a crisis that tipped the balance of social order. For example, a bullied kid used the leak as ammo to get back on the popular kids who bullied him before. (This is wrong, kids!) Another instance is when one closeted gay student, whose secret sexuality was revealed by the leaks, took it upon himself to out the other closet gays. (Also wrong, do not do this!) Under normal circumstances, these displays of bad behavior are unacceptable especially under school premises but the leaks made it all happen. This is the most appealing part of the book for me because it sheds a light on how self-absorbed everyone can be. In the normal world order, the popular kids are the ones who seemed narcissistic and did all the stepping down on others. But when the world turned upside down, those on the dregs of the social strata became rabid with revenge and were quick to jump and topple them populars from their pedestal.

As for Anna, the leak of her data means total collapse of the friendship that she is trying to re-build. Then, two of her friends, Haven and Jethro, are the suspects of the hacking incidents. Her other friends are not safe neither: Nikki is a collateral damage from the leaks of a Thesbo student, Rad’s data are leaked and it seems that she and Andrew are using each other to protect their reputation. There is a little romance in the book and I guiltily indulged myself in it. A bit of a love triangle because Anna is still a bit hang up with Palmer and then enter long-time in the friend zone Jethro who has a cute crush on Anna since forever.

“Antisocial” is about the absurdity of fiercely protecting our images in the society to the point of lying, backstabbing and betraying other people. It’s a dog eat dog world, welcome everyone! That seemingly nice and sweet guy is not what he appears to be. That supposed friend is badmouthing you to look cool. These kind of people do not deserve to be happy and end up being friends forever, but in the end the book copped out. The tension was there and it’s tight but it was let down by a loose ending. The whodunit element is nothing special. Then there is this school art show near the end that is supposed to be cathartic and eye-opening but I did not feel anything. The ending is not exactly that bad (others might love it?) but for me it is common and corny. The premise of the book has a lot of potential to have a fascinatingly dark ending, which is what I kinda want. Instead, it became adamant on delivering a lesson of how we should just hug it all out and forgive bad friends who do and say horrible things about each other because (apparently) toxic relationships are better than being alone. I wouldn’t advise against reading this book because it highlights and poses questions that are relevant in this day and age of social media but how about this for a moral story: when you have toxic friends, you can ditch them and find new ones.

Diversity Watch:
The existence of this part of my review is thoroughly discussed in this post. The formula is basically this: list of characters + explicit race and gender description in the text = overall look of how diverse the book is.

Those with no mention of race and gender beside their names are racially indeterminate and/or gender non specific characters.

  • Anna Soler - Half-Colombian. Her dad, Alejandro is Colombian while her mom, Susan is a Southern belle.
  • Nikki - Anna’s childhood bestfriend. “blond, with a cute, smiley face and a dimple in her right cheek but not her left. Her figure is round and soft...
  • Radhika “Rad” Mehta - Anna’s other childhood bestfriend, and editor in chief of the school paper. “dark skinned like her father but has her mother’s blue eyes...” Her father is an Indian. It is mentioned that Rad has gone to India just once.
  • Jethro Stephens - Anna’s friend/love interest, gray-green eyes, with tiny flecks of coyote brown, tan skin color, Hemsworthian hair
  • Haven Dodd - Anna’s friend, school’s best hacker, suspect of the hacking incidents, bobbing Adam’s apple, skinny, pale skin, dark stringy hair
  • Andrew Yang - Anna’s friend, lacrosse player, “his conservative Chinese parents don’t let him grow his hair long or wear jeans with holes or anyhting like that
  • Dylan Johnson: a basketball player, one of the hacker’s  victims, brown eyes and Bieber hair
  • Wallace Reid - star center on the basketball team (implied person of color?) He refers to one redhead kid he was harrassing, “Man, you little white dudes crack me up.”, one of the hacker’s victims.
  • Palmer Meade – Anna’s ex-boyfriend, blond haired, big, deep-blue eyes, Anna described his looks as “descended from the Norse gods
  • Vanessa Eubanks – unofficial queen bee of the popular clique, sandy blond haired, Anna also described her looks as “descended from the Norse gods
  • Alexis Bowman – minion of Vanessa, one of the hacker’s victim, strawberry-blond redhead w/ perfect colors and freckles in just the right places
  • Mattie Eizenberg – Nikki’s crush, speaks with slight Southern lilt, white-blond hair, looks like either Zac Efron or Ryan Gosling depending on who you are asking, one of the hacker’s victims.
  • Kyle Cherski – digital artist in Anna’s Art class, one of the hacker’s victims.
  • Josh Klein – one of the hacker’s victims
  • Colleen Watera – one of the hacker’s victims
  • Timmy Tepper – tiny, looks like he might blow in a high wind. He was bullied and uses his podcast and the hacking incidents to take revenge on those who bullied him.
  • Aiden “Mac” McDonald – Alexis Bowman’s boyfriend who turned out to be gay, outed other alleged gays.

  • Jocelyn van Mecl
  • Maggie DeMarco 
  • Joe Tyler 
  • Ian MacKinnon
  • Ashley Keup and her boyfriend, Steve
  • Seth Habel
  • Jack Connolly
  • Meg Clare
  • Hannah Moyer and her on and off boyfriend, Brian
  • Erin Green 
  • Deirdre Nikzad
  • Martha Stevenson
  • Jill Fay
  • Sandy Gillis -  sophomore on football team, allegedly gay.
  • Geoff Ames - a junior on basketball team, allegedly gay.
  • Garrett Keating - older math wiz friend of Jethro at Haven who is in college already.
  • Peter Cervieri - older math wiz friend of Jethro at Haven who is in college already.
  • Dr.Bechdel – Anna’s therapist
  • Andrea –Nikki’s (alcoholic) mom
  • Joe Dodd – Haven’s dad
  • Ms Sozio – dance teacher 
  • Mr. Fortini – PE teacher
  • Mrs. Bodkins – teacher
  • Mr. Touhey – Advanced Art teacher, Anna’s favorite teacher, curly gray-brown hair and mustache
  • Headmaster Nichols
  • Mrs. O’Brien – the school's financial aid officer
  • Ms. Dominick – Latin teacher (they have Latin classes?)
  • Mr. Kisker - History teacher
  • Bill and Michelle Mead – Palmer’s parents

My Rating:

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