The “Interim Goddess of Love” Blog Tour: Author Interview and Giveaway (Int’l/PH)

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College sophomore Hannah Maquiling doesn’t know why everyone tells her their love problems. She’s never even had a boyfriend, but that doesn’t stop people from spilling their guts to her, and asking for advice. So maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise when the cutest guy in school tells her that she’s going to have to take on this responsibility — but for all humanity.

The Goddess of Love has gone AWOL. It’s a problem, because her job is to keep in check this world’s obsession with love (and lack of it). The God of the Sun, for now an impossibly handsome senior at an exclusive college just outside of Metro Manila, thinks Hannah has what it takes to (temporarily) do the job.

This is my first time to participate in a blog tour. I’m excited! Yay! I don’t normally sign up for tours because my schedule is erratic, and I’m worried that I will not be able to do my part after I’ve committed. But “Interim Goddess of Love” is special to me because it’s a great story, and I tagged along with both Mina’s and Hannah’s journey from the beginning.

Back when the first book came out, I was able to interview Mina for an author profile for GMA News Online. We talked about a lot of things, but the profile ended up mostly chronicling how she got published—both independently and traditionally—and her aspirations as a writer.

When we did the IGoL Trilogy Audio Commentary, it was Mina’s turn to ask questions. And so I still haven’t managed to ask her things about IGoL and other random stuff. I finally got another opportunity through this tour!

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“Icon of the Indecisive (Interim Goddess of Love #3)” is out!

Yay! Mina V. Esguerra just released “Icon of the Indecisive”, the conclusion to her YA series “Interim Goddess of Love”! The e-book is now available on Amazon.

IGoL3.cover.02_600College student Hannah Maquiling, also temporarily working as the Goddess of Love, has had enough of everyone asking for her help when it comes to relationships. It’s her turn to find romance! She deserves it, after serving as matchmaker and confidant to everyone else in Ford River College for the past year. She’s had a crush on handsome senior (and God of the Sun) Quin forever, but he’s destined to fall in love with an extraordinary mortal woman, so she’s figured her chances with him have pretty much dropped to zero.

It’s not like she doesn’t have any options for a classic college romance though. There’s Diego, God of the Sea and Quin’s best friend/enemy. And regular guy Robbie is stepping up, making sure she knows how he feels about her. How hard can it be for a goddess to find someone to love, and be loved in return?

For those who have only just heard of this book or this series, it’s a YA romance trilogy set in the Philippines. Here’s a backgrounder:

College sophomore Hannah Maquiling doesn’t know why everyone tells her their love problems. She’s never even had a boyfriend, but that doesn’t stop people from spilling their guts to her, and asking for advice. So maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise when the cutest guy in school tells her that she’s going to have to take on this responsibility — but for all humanity.

The Goddess of Love has gone AWOL. It’s a problem, because her job is to keep in check this world’s obsession with love (and lack of it). The God of the Sun, for now an impossibly handsome senior at an exclusive college just outside of Metro Manila, thinks Hannah has what it takes to (temporarily) do the job.

 
Or if that was tl;dr for you, I made this:

Screenshot from “Rooftop Prince 옥탑방 왕세자”. She searched for her crush in the Joseon history section.  (I dropped this drama after a while, but that’s another story altogether.)

Screenshot from “Rooftop Prince 옥탑방 왕세자”. She searched for her crush in the Joseon history section. (I dropped this drama after a while, but that’s another story altogether.)

I’m proud to be part of what Mina calls the “First Edition Club” who read “Interim Goddess of Love” when it was first released. I was also part of a small group of readers who read this last book before publication to record an audio commentary on the entire series. You can download the commentary from Mina’s website: click!

I really enjoyed reading this trilogy. The romance is familiar (though some of the members of our usual “boyband” got seriously upgraded to deific proportions), but the incorporation of the Pinoy fantasy elements really made the stories something more than just your average teen love story. I love that it feels very contemporary (with a touch of the ancient in the “goddess dreams”) because our local myths are rarely appropriated in this manner, and I feel like this is a good way to get younger readers to explore those myths further and to make them relevant. I know this was not Mina’s intention—she really just wanted to experiment and expand her writing repertoire more—but I like to think this is a great fringe benefit.

Mina also mentioned that the fantasy in this series is intentionally on the lighter side because this is still a romance more than anything. But despite not massively world-building, I think the world of IGoL and its fascinating characters is rich with potential to give birth to even more interesting stories.

I also liked that while we’ll never become the Interim God/Goddess of Anything, Hannah’s troubles are still very real and easy to relate to despite being just a tad more fantastic.

And of course, there’s a lot of cute and sweet and thrilling and sometimes dramatic or tragic romantic stuff here that fans of Mina have already come to expect, and that will hopefully bring more new readers to the fold. If you want to take a break from all the heavy reading you’ve been doing, pick this series up! 😉

For details on how to purchase the books, visit Mina’s website: click!

From Cover to Cover: Thieves, Goddesses, and Sorcerers

There were a lot of cover reveals these past few days but these are my favorites.

First up: The much-anticipated sequel to Maggie Stiefvater’s “The Raven Boys”, called “The Dream Thieves”.

the dream thieves

There is no synopsis for this book yet, but Maggie announced that it will be published on 17 September 2013. And also, that’s Ronan on the cover, which is interesting, considering no particular character was featured on the cover of Book 1.

Next up: Mina V. Esguerra’s “Interim Goddess of Love” got a makeover for the release of its international print edition, as well as the 2nd installment, “Queen of the Clueless”.

IGoL.cover.600    QotC.cover.600

If you’ve been feeling neglected by the Goddess of Love lately, don’t worry — Hannah Maquiling, college sophomore, is in training to take over. The Original Goddess is missing, but Hannah is Interim Goddess now, and she should figure out how to solve humanity’s love problems soon. Quin (God of the Sun) is still her mentor, still really hot, but apparently isn’t as honest about his other earthly relationships as she thought. It’s frustrating, and enough to make her check out possibilities with Diego (God of the Sea) and Robbie (Cute Human).

In the meantime, she’s decided to spend some of her precious training time helping to break up a relationship, instead of putting one together. Why? Because the girl in question happens to be her best friend Sol, whose boyfriend is stealing not just from her, but from other people on campus. Sol didn’t exactly summon the Goddess, but this is what power over Love is for, right? Surely it’s not just about matchmaking, but ending doomed relationships too. (Even when it’s not what people want.)

The new covers were designed by the lovely Tania Arpa, and photographed/modeled by Rhea Bue. This is a great choice for the international editions because it immediately gives you that YA vibe, and it is rather eye-catching.

And this is the cover for IGoL’s Philippine print edition published by Summit Books:

IGoL summit

While this isn’t my favorite among the covers of IGoL released so far, it’s still cute, and when displayed with Mina’s other books that were released by Summit, this one blends in with the aesthetic of the others nicely.

This edition should hit the bookstore shelves today, while you can check buying info on the other editions here: click!

And last, but definitely not least: The 15th Anniversary Edition of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”! (But but but…I don’t even have the 10th Anniversary Edition yet!)

15thannivehpss

This was designed by author/illustrator Kazu Kibuishi. Scholastic plans to release a boxed set of trade paperbacks of all 7 books with covers designed by Kabuishi come September of this year. The hardcovers and digest paperbacks will still be published with Mary Grandpré’s art. Kibuishi talks about the covers here: click!

I like the look of Kibuishi’s art, and this actually makes me want to check out “Amulet”. I love that he picked the Diagon Alley scene to illustrate because it captures that sense of awe that Harry felt when he first set foot in the Wizarding World, which is what I felt when I read this book for the first time. The only thing that threw me off here is the color scheme, which immediately called to mind Grandpré’s “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” cover.

Postscript to my Recommended Reads from 2012

My 12 Recommended Reads from 2012 story was just published on GMA News Online – Lifestyle: click!

Sidenote: I wasn’t able to include purchase information for the books on the list, so here they are:

  1. The Fault In Our Stars – I saw signed first edition hardcover copies in various Fully Booked branches, so if you’re going to purchase this book, try to find those. This is also part of the John Green Box Set, which is available in all the major book stores.
  2. The Casual Vacancy, Gone Girl, Cinder, Trese 5, The Raven Boys, Bring Up The Bodies, Kwentillion, This Is How You Lose Her, and The Song of Achilles – are all available in local book stores.
  3. Interim Goddess of Love – Because this is published independently by Mina, you can check out her website for purchase options. That Kind of Guy, meanwhile, is available in local book stores.
  4. You can purchase Lauriat on Amazon.com.
  5. Lower Myths – is an e-book available through Flipreads.com. A Bottle of Storm Clouds is available in local book stores and online via Lazada.com.

I had to choose the 12 books for that list carefully so that I can cover a wider variety of books. I don’t think I really succeeded because I know there are a lot of non-fiction, literary fiction, children’s/middle-grade books, and other excellent local literature that I never mentioned. But then again, I only feel comfortable mentioning books that I’ve read or that people/sites that I trust actually recommended.

There are also other good books from my 2012 reading list that did not make it there for several reasons: 1) They weren’t published in 2012 (although I did cheat with “The Song of Achilles,” but that’s too good to not recommend); 2) They are part of a series (I cheated with “Bring Up The Bodies” as well, but that can stand alone as opposed to other sequels I read); 3) There are just other books that are more worth recommending.

Since I don’t need to follow the rules I set above here on the blog, just for the record, here are my other favorites from my actual 2012 reading list:

  • Moondogs by Alexander Yates (4 stars) – I never got around to reviewing this after our book club discussion. This book is set in the Philippines, and everything–the people, the places, the culture, the history–feels authentic despite being written by an American. Sure, Yates lived here for some time, but it still isn’t easy to get that authentic feel, even for some Filipino authors. I also loved Yates’ characters, most of whom, are larger than life. The fantasy elements were fun to see in action, especially when it involves Reynato Ocampo’s X-men like gang, although not so much when we’re dealing with other characters. Over-all, it’s a fun read. 🙂
  • The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger (4 stars) – The idea of an origami finger puppet of the awesomest Jedi Master ever spewing vague wisdom is already great on paper, but it’s so much better on folded paper. (Okay, even I have to wince at that, but let’s run with it.)
  • Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor (5 stars) – Beautiful and enchanting.
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (5 stars) – A sci-fi classic, and now that I’ve finally read it, I get why. Despite being written decades ago, its core themes and ideals remain relevant, especially since our modern world is still not free of certain oppressive entities who would ban or burn books in a heartbeat. Until now, I still don’t know what is that one book I would want to be assigned to memorize if I ever joined a secret society of “mental librarians.”
  • The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan (4.5 stars) – is a great finale to Riordan’s “The Kane Chronicles.” The way he Riordan-ized the Egyptian deities here continued to be almost pitch-perfect, and he ties up all the plot lines and character arcs nicely. I didn’t like how he handled the thing with Anubis, though, so I will knock 0.5 stars from my rating.
  • Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima (4 stars) – This is my “surprise” book this year. It isn’t my usual fare, and yet I found myself finishing the entire series despite being required to read only the first book for our book club. Until now, I can’t quite pinpoint what it was that made me want to finish the series, sometimes even at the expense of other books that I told myself I absolutely had to finish then. Most of the Cycle is bleak, even depressing, and there are big chunks of text on religion, philosophy, and history that do not affect the plot but are mostly there only to reinforce certain themes or ideologies. My pet character didn’t even make it past the first book! So yes, indeed, this was a big surprise to me. The even bigger surprise is I’d probably read another Mishima book if I can get a copy of one.
  • Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor (5 stars) – The War is on in this sequel to the beautiful Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Taylor does away with her more poetic prose for this one but her writing is no less vivid. She has successfully moved her characters into strategic places on her plot chessboard while giving them more depth than they had in the first book and also developing more of her mythology. And our villain is more solid this time. There are some nice additions to the List of Characters That I Hope Will Not Die But Probably Will, and I still love Akiva, who will remain on my list of Literary Boyfriends. I am very excited for what’s to come in this series.
  • The God Equation and Other Stories by Michael A.R. Co (4 stars) – I love good geeky Filipino speculative fiction and my favorites here are “The God Equation” and “In The Eyes of Many”. Co’s writing is particularly strong in the titular offering, as he manages to not alienate non-math loving readers even as he spews out a lot of technobabble. The majority of the stories often feel rather open-ended despite the plot threads coming to a satisfying close; I’m not sure why, maybe it’s just the writing style. Or maybe it’s just me. Nevertheless, the story ideas are great and they make me want to check out more of Co’s work. [Availability: Books on Demand | Kindle Edition]
  • The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson (4.5 stars) – I’m in the middle of writing a full review of this. I’ll update this post when it’s live. 🙂 UPDATE: click!

p.s. I’m still 3 books behind on my 2012 Reading Challenge of 53 books, so it looks like I have to cram in the next few days. Wish me luck. 😉

Snapshots: Meeting Mina

A wee break from all the The Hunger Games re-read posts.

I’m still transcribing my interview with author Mina V. Esguerra, which will appear in the form of a profile on GMA News Online – Lifestyle sometime this week or early next week. In the interim :P, here’s a snapshot of what she wrote on my copy of Interim Goddess of Love:

I enjoyed finally meeting Mina, who I’ve only ever corresponded with via e-mail and Twitter. She’s very passionate about her writing, and was very forthcoming when I asked her to share her thoughts and experiences about self-publishing independent publishing. I hope I will be able to capture that enthusiasm in the profile that I’m writing. 🙂

College sophomore Hannah Maquiling doesn’t know why everyone tells her their love problems. She’s never even had a boyfriend, but that doesn’t stop people from spilling their guts to her, and asking for advice. So maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise when the cutest guy in school tells her that she’s going to have to take on this responsibility — but for all humanity.

The Goddess of Love has gone AWOL. It’s a problem, because her job is to keep in check this world’s obsession with love (and lack of it). The God of the Sun, for now an impossibly handsome senior at an exclusive college just outside of Metro Manila, thinks Hannah has what it takes to (temporarily) do the job.

While she’s learning to do this goddess thing, she practices on the love troubles of shy Kathy, who’s got a secret admirer on campus. Hannah’s mission, should she choose to accept it, is to make sure that he’s not a creepy stalker and they find their happily ever after — or at least something that’ll last until next semester. (As if she could refuse! The Sun God asked so nicely. And he’s so, well, hot.)

Interim Goddess of Love is available via Amazon and Mina’s Multiply Store.

So I installed Kindle for PC…

 
…and it was as if it can read my mind and it wanted me to like it so much that it included Pride and Prejudice as one of my free books. (Bribe me with the prospect of more Mr. Darcy? I think I love you now.) Or maybe real live Amazons are magically behind it all, just as Rick Riordan imagined.

The first book I finished reading on the KfPC (within 24 hours of installation) was Mina V. Esguerra’s Interim Goddess of Love. It’s my first MVE book! I’ll write a longer review or maybe something else after my interview with her, but for now, I’ll just say that it was a fun, entertaining, and often kilig read. 🙂