Author Archives: Ronald

Author interview: Jenny Han

Jenny Han with Town and Country editor-in-chief Yvette Fernandez, National Book Store's Xandra Ramos-Padilla, and Han's HUNDREDS of fans.

Jenny Han with Town and Country editor-in-chief Yvette Fernandez, National Book Store’s Xandra Ramos-Padilla, and Han’s HUNDREDS of fans.

I know, I know, this is like a bajillion years late, but it’s been a busy few weeks at the day job, what with restructuring and all that unsexy stuff that goes on with corporations. But it’s going up now!

I have to admit that I’ve long seen Jenny Han’s Summer series on bookstore shelves but never really had the urge to pick up a copy, mostly because I was very deeply into Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia’s Beautiful Creatures series. I picked them up pretty quickly when I heard she was coming over, and even picked up her latest, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.

And while I like the Summer books well enough, I absolutely loved To All The Boys I‘ve Loved Before. So I was really pumped to talk to her about it during this interview. Aside from that, we also got to touch on issues of diversity in YA (young adult) books, as well as whether one really needs an MFA to become a successful writer.

The full transcript under the cut!

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Book review: Cassandra Clare’s “City of Heavenly Fire”

For longtime fans of young adult (YA) author Cassandra Clare, “City of Heavenly Fire” has been a book several years in the making.

After all, their journey into the Shadow World began in 2007 with the publication of “City of Bones”. In it, readers were introduced to 15-year-old Clary Fray and her introduction to the world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders, supernatural beings who often find themselves at odds with each other.

Since then, “City of Bones” has not only spawned five more books — “City of Ashes,” “City of Glass,” “City of Fallen Angels,” and “City of Lost Souls” — to form “The Mortal Instruments” series. It has also paved the way for “The Infernal Devices” series, a tale of Shadowhunters set in Victorian England and made up of the books “Clockwork Angel,” Clockwork Prince,” and “Clockwork Princess”. And while the succeeding books have drawn mostly mixed reactions from critics and readers alike, it has not prevented them from zooming up the New York Times bestseller lists.

Just last year, “City of Bones” was adapted into a movie starring Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace and Lily Collins as Clary Fray, with “Game of Thrones” star Lena Headey and “The Hobbit” star Aidan Turner playing supporting roles. The sequel, “City of Ashes,” is set to start production this year.

In “Ctiy of Heavenly Fire,” readers finally have an ending to a story that they have been following for close to a decade now. But will it be an ending that they will find acceptable after years of loyal reading? Or will it end up being a disappointment that ends up crashing and burning?

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Book review: Andrea Pasion-Flores’ “For Love And Kisses”

For anyone who grew up on the Summit line of romance novels know the name of Andrea Pasion-Flores very well.

This is because Pasion-Flores was behind the bestselling book, “Have Baby Will Date,” about freelance photographer Denise and how she strives to find a balance between dating and being a single mother. She was also managing editor of Bride and Home magazine before moving on to Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping.

After her stint at Summit, Pasion-Flores went on to become the executive director of the National Book Development Board, and has managed to bring to the country such acclaimed authors as Junot Diaz and Chris Abani through the Manila International Literary Festival. Recently, Pasion-Flores became part of the Jacaranda Literary Agency, which is based in Singapore.

As immersed as Pasion-Flores has become in the publishing side of the literary world, she hasn’t totally forgotten her writerly roots. Proof of this is the recent publication by UST Publishing of “For Love and Kisses,” Pasion-Flores’ first collection of short fiction, almost 10 years after her first Summit novel.

The collection is made up of seven stories: “For Love and Kisses,” “Vanessa Calling,” “Buttercups,” “Skin Art,” “Love in Mini Stops,” “The Hungry Ghost,” and “How to Drink Whisky, if You’re A Girl,” all of which take on the lives of Filipinas young and old. Will this collection be more like Pasion-Flores’ bestselling work? Or will it be a bold new direction for her?

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Book review: Mark James Russell’s “K-Pop Now! The Korean Music Revolution”

There is no doubt that the Philippines is still very much caught up in the crest of hallyu, or the Korean wave.

On television, Korean dramas are shown alongside local primetime fare, with its stars commanding a fanbase as — perhaps even more — devoted as those of local stars.

Seeing as most of these South Koreans television stars double as pop stars as well, it’s no surprise that K-Pop (Korean Pop) receives practically the same devotion from Filipino fans. It’s something that Korean music companies seem to be aware of and wish to cultivate, if their stars’ itineraries are anything to go by.

For instance, supergroups like Big Bang and Super Junior have held sold-out concerts here in the country; multiple times in Super Junior’s case. Boy bands like SHINee, EXO, FT Island, and Infinite have held successful shows here. South Korean megastar Rain has filmed scenes for a Korean drama here and held a concert here, and popular girl group 2NE1 — who counts Star Circle Quest alumna Sandara Park as one of its members — is holding a concert at the SM Mall of Asia Arena tonight.

But with so many K-Pop starts to keep track of, and with more being produced every day through talent shows like Superstar K, how will people looking to get into this craze manage to catch up?

The answer might be Tuttle Publishing’s 2014 offering “K-Pop Now! The Korean Music Revolution”. Written by journalist Mark James Russell, the book is more than a hundred pages of photos and information on the current lay of the K-Pop land — from boy bands to girl groups and even the solo acts.

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Author interview: Veronica Rossi

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(Regular reader numbering in the Ones, if you haven’t noticed it yet, my blog went through a snafu that resulted in all the posts from October 2013 onwards to vanish into the ether. So I’m just uploading all of these transcripts without any garnishing because I barely remember what I wrote back then.)

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Book review: Maggie Stiefvater’s “The Dream Thieves”

When “The Raven Boys” came out two years, it was yet another feather added to the already crowded cap of young adult novel author Maggie Stiefvater.

Not only did “The Raven Boys” wow critics — who called it “compulsively readable” and a “compelling human drama” — it also hooked readers, who propelled it up the New York Times Bestseller list and the USA Today Bestseller list.

All this is in addition to all of the books in her “The Wolves of Mercy Falls” trilogy ending up on the New York Times Bestseller list and her standalone novel “The Scorpio Races” being awarded a 2012 Michael L. Printz Award Honor. The Michael L. Printz Award highlights works of literary excellence that are written for a young adult audience.

With so many accolades that came before it, it’s no wonder that “The Dream Thieves”, the second book in the planned for of Stiefvater’s “The Raven Cycle” series, has been so eagerly awaited by Stiefvater’s fans and readers. But will “The Dream Thieves” continue Stiefvater’s winning streak? Or will it spoil her so far perfect run?

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Book review: Kate Evangelista’s “Savor”

Kate Evangelista has certainly gone a long way from her days as a debut author. After “Taste”, she came out with even more books, such as the paranormal romances “Reaping Me Softly,” “Unreap My Heart,” “Til Death,” and new adult novel “Romancing the Bookworm”. She’s even set to make her debut on local bookstore shelves this year, as Macmillan publishes “Til Death”.

Evangelista’s latest book with Crescent Moon Press, the same publisher that put out “Taste”, is also available on Amazon, and I was given a review copy of the book. How much has Evangelista’s work changed since she first debuted two years ago?

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Book review: Jennifer A. Nielsen’s “The Runaway King”

Back in the first half of 2012, Jennifer A. Nielsen came out with “The False Prince,” the first book in her new series named “The Ascendance Trilogy.” In it, we are introduced to the young orphan Sage as he finds himself drawn into a plot that intends to install an impostor on the vacated throne of the kingdom of Carthya.

With its blend of political maneuvering, interesting characterizations, and the witty, wisecracking, and wonderfully fleshed-out voice of Sage providing the narration, “The False Prince” became a runaway hit. The New York Times called it “a page turner,” while Publishers Weekly called it an “impressive, promising story” in a starred review.

It’s no wonder that its sequel, “The Runaway King,” was eagerly awaited for by fans. But with so much acclaim and goodwill attached to the book that came before it, will “The Runaway King” live up to expectations, or will it prove to be a victim to the sophomore slump?

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Author interview: Gayle Forman

Gaze upon Gayle Forman and the eldritch horror to her right.

Gaze upon Gayle Forman and the eldritch horror to her right.

(Regular reader numbering in the Ones, if you haven’t noticed it yet, my blog went through a snafu that resulted in all the posts from October 2013 onwards to vanish into the ether. So I’m just uploading all of these transcripts without any garnishing because I barely remember what I wrote back then.)

RONREADS (RR): Is it your first time in the country? I know you’re well-traveled.

GAYLE FORMAN (GF): It’s not. I’ve been here before, in 1996 or 1997. It was a long time ago. I used to work for Seventeen magazine and when I was there, UNICEF contacted us and they were sending a bunch of journalists from youth magazines to write articles on youth activism. I met youth activists changing the world in different places.

RR: What was your impression of the country back then? I think I was in sixth grade back then.

GF: Thank you. Thank you for that.

RR: Sorry.

GF: I remember that I had an immediate sense of the Filipino people being incredibly friendly. People are generally friendly, but there was a particular warmth, which now that I’ve made a lot of Filipino friends back home, I get it. It’s like the Brazilians, there’s just something warm.

As for the country, I thought it was incredibly diverse. We also went to Leyte, so I got to see the rural aspect of the country. There’s so much US history embedded here. We went to a base when we were in Leyte. I also remember some excellent shopping — I have some clothes from that trip that I still wear. I remember that the traffic was legendary.

RR: (Laughs) It still is!

GF: And the food was fantastic.

RR: Is this your first time back?

GF: Yeah. It’s such a short trip. I’m in Manila until Sunday and I’m in Cebu until Monday night.

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Author interview: Kate Evangelista

1898007_10152009212331914_1530310742_n(Regular reader numbering in the Ones, if you haven’t noticed it yet, my blog went through a snafu that resulted in all the posts from October 2013 onwards to vanish into the ether. So I’m just uploading all of these transcripts without any garnishing because I barely remember what I wrote back then.)

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