Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pause.

Hi there!

I know, it's been almost a month since I've posted anything new on this blog, but that's because I've been busy. I'm working on the revisions for Fair Play, but I'm also slogging through pages of homework for my classes and I don't think that's going to let up any time soon. It's been crazy, but I'm still holding on and hoping that everything will turn out right.

When I come back: Some book reviews (I've been getting some reading done) and maybe a few essays before we go on the holiday break.

Take care, everyone!

Friday, October 3, 2014

BLOG TOUR + EXCERPT (Plus Giveaway!): The Kitchen When It Sizzles, by Chrissie Peria

We here at The Great Big Jump would like to welcome the lovely Chrissie Peria to our blog to promote her book The Kitchen When It Sizzles. This feature is brought to you by Oops! I Read A Book Again, who organized the blog tour for this book.



Title: The Kitchen When It Sizzles
Author: Chrissie Peria
Date of Publication: August 16, 2014
Genre: sexy contemporary romance

Blurb:

Olivia Nadal is an almost perfect girl with an almost perfect life. She has stunning good looks, an exciting job that pays well, men lining up to date her, and a homey little condo she calls her own. The only thing keeping her from perfection is her utter inability to cook.

Enter Nate Olivarez, a hotshot chef who's filling in for Olivia's cooking instructor. Sparks fly when they meet, but a fling with the visiting hottie is the last thing Olivia needs. But as things keep heating up in the kitchen, she can't help but wonder. Can things work out between her and Nate? Or is the sizzle all set to fizzle?


Purchase linksAmazon | B&N | Smashwords | The Book Depository | iTunes



My take: If you liked Save the Cake, then you'll definitely love this take on food and romance in Manila. More than just a book about food (and the author has a lot of experience on that, as the blogger behind Kitchen Cow), The Kitchen When It Sizzles is about two people figuring out what they want in a relationship, beyond the things that they have in common in and out of the bedroom. It's a sexy, sexy book, but there's also a lot of drama and conflict, and moments of levity to balance out the hot moments. 

Need more convincing? Here's an excerpt from The Kitchen When It Sizzles to get you going. (Mmmmm, French toast.) 

Excerpt: 

“Morning,” she smiled shyly, sauntering up to the island counter-style breakfast nook in the kitchen. Nate had been busy, it seemed, judging by the plate of bacon, eggs, freshly brewed coffee, and some kind of French toast he was assembling. Seeing him again, and at the scene of the crime even, brought a splash of color to her cheeks.

“I hope you don’t mind that I raided your pantry,” he said, flipping the French toast.

“No worries. Although I don’t remember still having any bread left,” she wondered out aloud.

“I stepped out to grab some. Remember that Belgian bread guy I introduced you to at the market? I remembered he lives four buildings down. I raided his place for some brioche,” he explained, waving the loaf near her nose. “You can smell just how buttery it is, can’t you?”

“Uh-hmmm...” she agreed. Everything looked and smelled wonderful. “What are you cooking, anyway?”

“The best French toast you will ever try,” he announced. “Bacon and cheese sandwiched in brioche then dipped in egg, milk and butter. Cooked in more butter. Butter is our friend, after all. Then drizzled with real maple syrup. None of that maple-flavored shit.”

She offered to help, but Nate would have none of it. He insisted that she stay in her seat. He poured her a cup of coffee, strong enough to wake the dead as always, and assured her breakfast will be ready soon. He kept a lively commentary up as he was cooking, easily slipping back into her teacher. She nodded every now and then, content to listen. It was the same old Nate she knew from her cooking lessons. He was even dressed similarly, in jeans and a t-shirt. She found it difficult to imagine that this was the same Nate who was with her last night, making her wonder if last night was all in her imagination.

When he was done cooking, he laid the big platter of French toast in front of her. Instead of sitting across from her, he pulled a chair to her side. “Try this,” he said, spearing the food with his fork and bringing it to her lips. “Good?” He propped his chin on his hand as he waited for her reply, his face just a few inches from hers.

“Mmm hmm,” was the most she could utter as her mouth was full. But that was enough to make a smile break out on his face. The way he was happily staring at her confirmed it. Last night happened.

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About the author: When not obsessing over fictional people doing fictional things, Chrissie obsesses about food: the eating, the cooking, and the procuring of it.

An advertising copywriter in her past life, she now spends most of her time writing, taking photos, cooking, and babysitting a tiny human and a curly-haired dog. She still plays with dolls and she thinks that bacon is the answer. Her first book, All's Fair in Blog and War, is a finalist in the 2014 Filipino Readers' Choice Awards.


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Giveaway time! Chrissie and Oops! I Read A Book Again are sponsoring a blog-tour giveaway for the book! Join now and you can win these awesome prizes!


To join, just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Have fun! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

BLOG TOUR + BOOK REVIEW (Plus Giveaway!): Once Upon a Player, by Agay Llanera

We at The Great Big Jump would like to welcome back our fellow #romanceclass author Agay Llanera to the blog. This feature has been brought to us by the lovely Dianne of Oops! I Read a Book Again, who organized the blog tour for this book.



Title: Once Upon A Player
Author: Agay Llanera
Genre: contemporary romance/chick-lit


About the book: Gorgeous college senior Val Fabian is a player in every sense of the word. She's the star spiker of her university's volleyball team, and she never runs out of dates. But it seems that this year, she has finally been bitten by the commitment bug. She sets her sights on an unexpected target--the unassuming yet ultra-cute Jake Clementia. Val is used to getting what she wants, and is sure she'll snag him before graduation. But in the process of winning his heart, she is sideswiped by a surprise move that sends her tumbling from her pedestal.


Purchase links: Amazon | Smashwords

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Review

In this follow-up to the chick-lit romance Vintage Love, Agay Llanera delivers a story about love and friendship set in the world of collegiate volleyball. But Once Upon A Player is more than just a college romance, in that it touches on deeper themes of identity, loyalty, and finding one's own true self.

Val Fabian is the star volleyball player for her college, and she pours out all of her passion on the court by training and playing hard with her team. She also enjoys every minute of her popularity: the adoring fans, the sponsored swag, a camera-friendly "relationship" with a fellow athlete who's also in it for the attention. But things don't always go her way: she doesn't take her studies seriously, spends less time with her busy mom, and the fake-boyfriend suddenly wants more from her than she could give him. Val's idea of the perfect boyfriend is the dreamy Jake, but he's also the thesis partner for her best friend Dessa, who in turn has set up Val with her sweet but dorky cousin EJ. As Val plots and schemes to get more face time with Jake, her loyalties are tested and her perceptions are challenged, leading her to believe that there are some things in life that are not worth the compromise.

While Val's actions may be less than principled, she's also an impossible character to hate. Llanera gives us glimpses of Val's own angst from being abandoned by her father at a young age, which has also affected her otherwise close relationship with her mother. The author also does a great job of surrounding Val with friends who are anything but minion-like in their development; aside from the kind-hearted Dessa, there's also Kat, who counter-balances the closeness between Val and Dessa with moments of humor and loyalty. And while Jake is presented as a princely dreamboat, EJ turns out to be more than just a nerd in need of a makeover; he's loyal and understanding, and a crafty thinker to boot.

It's a testament to Llanera's story-telling skills that she manages to balance all of the different plot elements without skimping out on the details. You could feel the excitement in the air during the games, just as you could feel the tension over dinner at a fancy restaurant or the angst that comes from asking the difficult questions. Even the shortest scenes carry a lot of weight:

On the table covered in clear plastic wrap was a big bowl of spaghetti. It was her favorite kind: sweet, with generous chunks of ground beef and sliced hotdogs. It was standard kiddie party spaghetti. Val got a plate and spooned out a generous portion of the red, sticky mess. She wasn't hungry but she knew her mom would later check that bowl of spaghetti to see if she had eaten.
She loved her mom like that.
And there's a lot of love in this story, even if Val doesn't get off easy on her own transgressions. Just as in Vintage Love, the love stories in Once Upon a Player are more than just angsty romances, and Llanera sets up Val's road to her own "happily ever after" as a journey where our heroine has to learn some hard truths about herself before she falls in love.

Love was also admitting defeat, asking for forgiveness, and saving a friendship. Maybe this wasn't the kind of love story she had originally aimed for at the start of senior year, but it was a story that deserved a better ending.
I won't spoil the rest of the book for you by telling you how Val saves the day or gets the guy - or even if she chooses a guy - but I will tell you that Agay Llanera is a skilled storyteller who knows how to keep you hanging on to every word. No matter what you think about our heroine, you'll find yourself cheering for Team Val Fabian to the very end.

Rating: B+/A-


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About the author: 

Agay Llanera is a freelance writer for television and a published writer of children’s books. She is a member of KUTING, a private, non-stock, non-profit organization, which aims to be the Philippines’ foremost writers’ organization for children.
Her first romance novella, Vintage Love is available on e-bookstores (Amazon, Kobo, Buqo, Smashwords).


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Here comes the fun part: Agay and Oops I Read Again are sponsoring a blog-tour giveaway for the book! Lucky winners will get e-book copies of Once Upon a Player, but entrants from the Philippines will win cool stuff such as a tumbler, button, and a T-shirt with the Once Upon a Player book cover! Join now! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

WINNERS!

The winners of the Buqo giveaway are:

Jennylyn Suguitan
Cy Valencia
Ailla

Congratulations, winners! You will be contacted by email with instructions from Buqo on how to redeem your prizes. Thank you for joining!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Save the Cake: Now Featured on Buqo!

Check out my interview on the Buqo blog, where I talk about bakeries, mysteries, and my second book. Also a callback to Michael Fassbender, and this interesting tidbit:

I find my inspiration in other people’s stories, so I make it a point to talk to people every day—friends, family, sometimes the occasional stranger. I believe that you can learn a lot about a person from what he or she chooses to love, and you can get a lot of stories from people who talk about their passion. The more you put yourself out there, the more likely you are to find that one thing that will make your story “click” together. 
And if that doesn’t work for me: Jeremy Renner, David Gandy, and the Spanish football team. (Kidding! Sort of.)  

Don't forget that Save the Cake is still Buqo's Pick of the Week, so pick up a copy now! Or, if you would like to win your own free copy from Buqo, join the Rafflecopter giveaway on this blog - but hurry, because the giveaway ends soon!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy (Book) Birthday, Save the Cake! (Plus a GIVEAWAY!)

One year ago - almost to this very day - I pressed the big "publish" button and released Save the Cake to the reading public. Ever since then, the book has opened a lot of doors for me as a writer; I've been included in book bundles, attended conferences, and even became a best-seller on Kobo. I've also met a lot of publishers, editors, and distributors along the way, which gave me more opportunities to share my writing to a larger audience. 

One of the new discoveries that I've made this year is Buqo, which lets readers download and read locally-published books and magazines from their iOS or Android mobile device. Many mainstream and independent publishers have signed up with Buqo to distribute their works to the Filipino reader, from novels to comic books. This year, the folks at Buqo have made it easier for Smart's pre- and post-paid subscribers to purchase their books on the Buqo app, which makes it easier for Filipino readers to access their favorite reads. (Check out their tutorial here on how to use your Smart mobile number for Buqo purchases.)


As an independent publisher on Buqo, I have been able to reach readers who are discovering locally-published e-books for the first time. That's why I'm proud to announce that Save the Cake is Buqo's Pick of the Week, as a great big "thank you" to all the readers who have made my year. Look for Save the Cake features on Buqo.ph, including a story on the Buqo blog.



But wait, there's more! Buqo and The Great Big Jump are giving away three (3) e-book copies of Save the Cake to three (3) lucky winners! To enter, just join the Rafflecopter giveaway below and leave a comment (any comment!) to win this special prize. The giveaway ends on September 18, so go out and spread the word!

(And the promo is also on my Facebook page, too! Just click on the Giveaway tab!) 




DISCLAIMER: This post and giveaway is sponsored by Buqo. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Pick and Choose

This post is brought to you by Love Is Not A Triangle, a blog for readers who don't like love triangles.

Love Triangle Free Zone

I had the chance to think closely on what I said about the love triangle trope in last month's book review round-up, and why I've been tolerant about them in the past. Yes, it does seem like the ultimate fantasy - falling deeply in love with two undeniably desirable guys at the same time - and yes, I've let it pass without comment when it came to writer friends who have used the same trope. I'll also admit that they work well (to a point) in young adult fiction because of the push-pull that comes with discovering your first love.

But what about books that are written for adults, with adult characters going back-and-forth between two characters just because loving them seemed like such a great idea? That's where my intense hatred comes in. 

Here's the deal: For the longest time, my motto in life was "If you want to learn how to love, you've got to learn how to fight." I learned this the hard way by watching my parents go through challenging times in their marriage. I've never met a happily committed couple who hasn't had door-slamming fights during the course of their relationship. Some of them deal with it by accepting those moments as a part of life, and some, like my sister, view these moments as a reminder that relationships are fragile things that can't be taken for granted. I'm not saying that couples should pick fights with each other more often - abusive relationships are never romantic, and nothing annoys me more than the couple who argues in public - but I do believe that you don't have to be in love with the person all the time to show them that you love them. That's what makes relationships so hard: you have to keep asking yourself, every day, why you stay and fight. 

This view of relationships - of love, and commitment - has colored the way I view the world as both a reader and a writer. It also illustrates the biggest problem I have with most love triangles: they don't always give the heroine enough credit to pick and choose her own battles. I wouldn't go as far as to call them misogynistic, but most of the triangles I've encountered in my reading do make ninnies out of otherwise intelligent heroines who Just Can't Choose because They're Both So Equally Dreamy. Well, if they're both so great, and you're not into threesomes, then what on earth are you getting from stringing them along? Come to think of it, why is it important to have a man in your life in the first place?

As I mentioned in my previous entry, it's a lose-lose situation, because no matter what the author does, someone's always bound to get hurt. Seriously, authors, what is stopping you from calling the end game for just ONE true love? Are you being pressured by your editors and publishers telling you that you can't sell a book unless you get your readers to divide themselves into "#teams" who "ship" your characters?* Are you so enamored of your two male characters that you have to crowd-source your readers to "vote" for their favorites? Because if that's the case, then I'm sorry, but you're cheapening your story, and you've just short-changed that wonderful writer's voice that have earned you so many reads in the first place. And if you can't trust your own voice, then how am I supposed to trust you?

(*Note: I have nothing against fans who write their own endings for their "ships." In fact, I'm all for it, because fanfic is a wonderful illustration of the symbiotic relationship between reading and writing. My beef comes from the pre-determined expectation that readers will want to "ship" characters in the first place by taking away the endgame. And let's be honest here: unhappy fans lead to dwindling sales.)

Just this once, I'd like to read a book or a series about a heroine who picks her own hero, and chooses him time and again, without a third wheel to keep things spicy. Just this once, I'd like to read about a couple who gets tested, not by jealousy, but by priorities and communications and, you know, life

Just this once, I'd like to read about true love, from a couple who chooses to stay and fight together. Is that too much to ask, book world?