lover of written words

HOW TO BE BRAVE Blog Tour: Author Interview with E. Katherine Kottaras + Giveaway

So excited to have wonderful E. Katherine Kottaras today on the blog for a quick interview provided by the publisher. Check below as Katherine talks about her newly released novel, How To Be Brave and few advises for aspiring authors as well as her TBR pile and must haves.

Also, be sure to check the bottom of this post for the giveaway. Trust me you don’t want to miss the chance of owning a copy of How To Be Brave.

Interview with E. Katherine Kottaras

Q1. Your protagonist, Georgia, lost her mother and is honoring her by completing her bucket list. How much of this premise was taken from your own experiences?

HOW TO BE BRAVE specifically started as a thought experiment to see what my relationship with my dad would have been like had my mom died first. As I started writing, Georgia became her own character with her own struggles. 

Q2. You are also a yoga instructor and practitioner. How has this influenced your writing?
I am in my head, a lot. My yoga practice grounds me like nothing else. One definition of yoga is the linking of body and breath to focus the mind. I find that when I’m not doing my practice, I can’t focus and I become easily overwhelmed by my fears and my anxiety – and as a result, I can’t write. When I am doing my practice, I’m able to deal with those fears and those anxieties in a way that is healthy.

Q3. What advice can you provide aspiring authors?
READ. A lot. Both in the genre/style you want to publish in and ABOUT writing – all aspects – the writing process, the publishing process, etc. There are hundreds of blog posts about the writing life, etc. and I read them obsessively to understand what I had to do to get published.

Also, WRITE a lot, of course. Just keep writing, no matter what, even if it’s a journal for yourself where you write a little bit everyday. And keep submitting – the rejections are difficult at first, but it gets easier.

Writing is hard and fun and frustrating and exhilirating. I can’t imagine not writing. And if you write, you understand this strange demand – it’s not a desire; it’s a necessity. Follow that call, whatever it is inside you that asks you to write – and keep writing, no matter what.

Q4. HOW TO BE BRAVE addresses issues of positive body image. Was this something you set out to address or did it spring up organically? Is body image something you struggled with?
When I was growing up in the 1980s, I didn’t have access to the amazing body of work known as “YA literature” as it exists today. I was fairly obsessed with Sweet Valley High, but Elizabeth and Jessica were suburban twins (I’m an only child) with “perfect size-six figures,” and that was totally outside the realm of my experience.

Thankfully, I did have Judy Blume, who was bravely offering characters that worried and obsessed about their growing bodies. Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret? and Blubber spoke to me about my awkward body and bullying and the need for kindness.

But for the most part, I didn’t belong in the books I read. I was the only child of a Greek father and Russian-Jewish mother who were both of peasant stock (farmers on both sides) and who owned a restaurant in downtown Chicago. I didn’t know anything about suburban high schools, about size six.

This last one was especially hard for me. When I was twelve, my pediatrician told me that I needed to lose twenty to thirty pounds, thus starting a lifelong battle with my weight. My ballet teacher told my mother I was too big too dance and she was wasting her money. I was constantly picked last in gym, alongside my BFF, who also struggled with her body. When I asked her recently what she remembered of our time as kids, she said:

“I remember our PE teachers who didn’t help or guide but rather assisted with shaming by making the whole class wait for ‘free day’ until a pull-up was done (as though the situation was rooted in straight up defiance rather than inability) leading to a life-long dislike of physical activity.” 

I remember those many days, feeling embarrassed and shamed by my teachers, which led to feeling more uncomfortable and awkward (as though my own self-shame wasn’t enough). By the time I was in high school, I absolutely hated my body.

I spent my twenties battling my weight. I yo-yo’d between diets and hunger and new workout trends and gyms. No matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, I never was able to become a perfect size six – nothing even close to that – and my body retained its fullness, its roundness, its hardy, muscular, stocky, peasant stock shape. My short arms weren’t going to suddenly become lean and long. My thick thighs always remain thick. My belly likes being round, what can I say?

I fought it for so very long. And then, after giving birth to my daughter, I stopped fighting. I had to. I learned to love my body in a new way. It was life-giving. It was strong. It was mine.

So when I sat down to write my own book, I knew the character had to be several things: she had to be Greek, she had to live in Chicago, and she had to have immigrant parents who didn’t always understand her. I also knew that she would struggle with her body. BUT. I didn’t want losing weight to be central to her experience. I knew I didn’t want it to be a goal. For the longest time, it was for me. I didn’t want to do that to her.

HOW TO BE BRAVE is about a girl who has lived her life in fear and who sets out to try new things, despite her insecurities. Before her death, her mom commanded Georgia to live differently—to try everything at least once and to never be ruled by fear.

When Georgia is first creating her list, she asks her best friend, Liss:
“What about losing weight?”

And Liss responds: “You don’t need to be brave to do that.”

Georgia agrees, but of course, her insecurities don’t just disappear. They are always there. However, at the end Georgia finally realizes, “I’m not going to kill myself trying to achieve microscopic proportions. I’m still curvy me, and I always will be.”

Of course, there are many similarities between Georgia and me. Georgia also feels uncomfortable in her body that’s deemed “overweight” by society’s standards, and part of her storyline is that she finds confidence in her body, as it is – that losing weight does not equal being brave. This has been part of my storyline has well. 

What’s currently in your TBR pile?
My L.A. buddies:
For the Record, Charlotte Huang and The First Time She Drowned, Kerry Kletter

The Lies About the Truth, Courtney Stevens (my publication date buddy)

Hoodoo, Ronald L. Smith (we were classmates!)

Are there any “must-haves” at your work station? (M&Ms, coffee, etc.)

Dark chocolate at the ready. Another chair so I can put my feet up. Two Ugly dolls as elbow support. My cat, purring underneath my chin and blocking my view of the screen. She’s doing it right now. (Purr, purr, purr.)

Thank you so much Katherine for stopping by today and for answering all the questions above. I’m looking forward reading another book from you so I hope you’ll write more for us and maybe drop by here again.


E. Katherine Kottaras

E. Katherine Kottaras is originally from Chicago, but now she writes and teaches in the Los Angeles area. She holds an M.A. in English from the University of California, Irvine and teaches writing and literature at Pasadena City College. She is at her happiest when she is either 1) at the playground with her husband and daughter and their wonderful community of friends, 2) breathing deeply in a full handstand, or 3) writing. She now lives in Los Angeles where she’s hard at work on her next book.

Find Katherine

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Goodreads


How To Be Brave
Book Details:
How To Be Brave: A Novel
By: E. Katherine Kottaras
St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
Hardcover: 9781250072801 / $18.99 USD
eBook: 9781466884670 / $9.99 USD

An emotional contemporary YA novel about love, loss, and having the courage to chase the life you truly want.

Reeling from her mother’s death, Georgia has a choice: become lost in her own pain, or enjoy life right now, while she still can. She decides to start really living for the first time and makes a list of fifteen ways to be brave – all the things she’s wanted to do but never had the courage to try. As she begins doing the things she’s always been afraid to do – including pursuing her secret crush, she discovers that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But once in a while, the right person shows up just when you need them most – and you learn that you’re stronger and braver than you ever imagined.

Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo | Indigo

Check also the book trailer here


What’s up for Grabs?

  • A Copy of How To Be Brave

The Rules:

  • Open to US and Canada residents only.
  • There will be one (1) winner only
  • Winner will be chosen by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be announced here on the post & contacted thru email
  • Winner should response with their details within 48 hours
  • Ends Saturday, November 21, 2015
  • Prize will be sent by the publisher

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!


Leave a comment »

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes

“Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be.”

Laia is a slave.

Elias is a soldier.

Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Personal Thoughts:

When there’s an overwhelming amount of hype that surrounds a particular novel, I usually try my best not to pick up the book until my expectations lowered. So after months of ignoring the gorgeous copy from my shelf, I finally agreed to Precious to read An Ember in the Ashes together.

Being a fantasy novel, An Ember in the Ashes is a familiar ground to me. So familiar that sometimes it feels like I have read the same book before. The main characters, Elias and Laia are from different side of life. A mask and a scholar who are opposite in status but brought together by circumstances. The other came from the military, serving the government/emperor while the other once is from a group of rebels called the resistance. These two are our main narrator who delivered a flowing and gripping story in-spite of alternating point of views.

“Just because he’s a good leader doesn’t mean he’s a good person.”

Elias mother, The Commander is an interesting character but unfortunately wasn’t developed or explored much in this first installment. If only her motivations and reasons for being bad or not caring much about her son is explained or at least hinted more I might applaud the author for creating a menacing and well rounded villain.

Also, I still don’t understand how Elias’ mother become the Commander at the first place? For a world that is dominated by men, how come a woman like her managed to get the highest position in the military? And why she doesn’t have remorse for girls like to the slaves she has if ever she ever actually experience low treatment before? Isn’t it too convenient for the plot to have one girl once in a while to join the military just like having Helena as one of the top students, and Elias’ best friend who also like him more than a friend?

“There are two kinds of guilt. The kind that’s a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be.”

The romance just didn’t work for me. I think I would prefer this better without any romance at all. As much I want to get the “feel” factor, the romance in here are more irritating than anything else (well at least for me). It’s not even the pairing or choices that I have issues with. The romance frustrate me because it feels unnecessary for the plot. It feels so force. The pairing, whichever pair it is has no spark at all.

Same with the gore and actions. As much as I enjoying reading all those gory details, I don’t think it gives any push to the plot. Sure I like the idea of the trials where the best of the best are fighting each other for the position of the next ruler. But is it really necessary? Is brutality the only way to become a ruler? What about intelligence, compassion?

All in all, An Ember in the Ashes is a gripping read with all its gore and actions but unfortunately I think it didn’t live the hype that surrounds it. Though I enjoy the story as a whole the plot holes and not so original plot lines are impossible to ignore.

1 Comment »

NBS New Line of Products for Artist, Creative Minds, Hobbyist, and Readers

Precious and I drop by at National Book Store trade show last Saturday at Atrium of Mall of Asia where the Color Pop Fair is also happening. Before the trade show we got the chance to do some coloring of the huge art designs around the area. And as much as I enjoy putting colors and life to some of the art designs, the joy of seeing all the people having fun that day is unmeasurable. Seeing the mixed of people in one event alone is such an overwhelming experience. All ages are there, from kids to kids-at-heart, artist or not they surely enjoying themselves and the activities set by the National Book Store team and partners.

Color Pop Fair

At the trade show, we’ve met the friendly new purchasing director of National Book Store. We are also acquainted with their new and upcoming products such as the Itoya stationary products, Chemeloen Pens, Online pens, Scentos Markers, Smart Fit by Lihit Lab, Kate Spade journals and other collectibles stationaries, and new and upcoming titles of books of different genre.

Chameleon Pens Itoya Kate Spade

I’m in love with the Itoya notebooks and pen pouches in display. The acid free Japanese paper is just perfect and the colors are just fab which you can mixed and match. Too bad those displays are just samples and not for sale at the event. I have to visit one of NBS stores to get a set of those fab Itoya items. I almost consider pleading to the event organizer to sell me one as well as the hang quote display with the quote from the book, Wonder. I really want those products so will definitely hunt them at NBS branches or maybe place a direct order from them.

Game of Thrones & others

I’m also excited to the line up of upcoming books. Besides with the YA titles coming such as the November 9 by Colleen Hoover, National Books Stores will also have those beautiful leather bound boxed set like this classic Jane Austen Collections and Game of Thrones books.

Jane Austen Boxed Set

These books are much prettier in actual! If you are looking for gifts this coming holiday season, these set is perfect for book lovers! So go check out National Book Store branches near you for these great new finds and fab items!

Leave a comment »

Color Pop Fair

Color Pop Fair Poster.

National Book Store, in partnership with Lifestyle Channel and SM Mall of Asia, will hold its first ever “Color Pop Fair” on October 24, 2015 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Main Mall Atrium, SM Mall of Asia. Admission is free for all events and workshops. Registration starts at 10 a.m.

Enjoy a Saturday of free, fun-filled coloring activities especially designed for adults who are artists-at-heart. Learn basic adult coloring, shade selection, blending techniques, choosing the right coloring materials and other great coloring tips. Participate in the day-long art workshops. Choose from Zig Kuretake adult coloring demo by Iris Babao Uy, The Secret Techniques in Making your Coloring Look Professional by Alex M. Roxas, Mapedize your Bookmark – DIY Adult Coloring Bookmark, Creating Gradients with Chameleon Pens by June Digan, Sharpiefied Coloring with Carlo Arezza, Stabilo Adult Coloring Demo by Mark Dean Lim, The Art of Doodling and Stuff – A Create and Collaboration Workshop by Nelz Yumul, Coloring Tips from the Googly Gooeys by Tippy Go, Tips on Doodling and Adult Coloring by Kerby Rosanes, Marvy Uchida Basic Coloring Demonstration by Tepai Pascual, and many more.

All coloring sheets and materials will be provided. Plus! Get 20% off on all imported adult coloring books at the event only. Color your world and join the fun at National Book Store’s Color Pop Fair.

See posters or follow National Book Store on Facebook for more details. Shop online and buy eBooks at For reservations, call 8888-NBS (627) for calls within Metro Manila, 1-800-10-8888-NBS for calls outside Metro Manila, or text 0998-8888-NBS and 0917-8747-269. The National Book Store hotlines are open Mondays to Sundays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Follow National Book Store on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@nbsalert). Tag #NBSColorPopFair to join the discussion.

Color Pop Fair

Frequently Asked Questions

When and where is Color Pop Fair?
The Color Pop Fair will be on October 24, 2015 at the Main Mall Atrium, SM Mall of Asia from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Is there a registration fee?
No. There is no registration fee. Admission is FREE.

When will the registration be?
Registration starts at 10:00 a.m. and will continue throughout the day. Each guest will be asked to fill out the registration form upon arrival. Venue capacity is limited. Seats are on a FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED BASIS.

Will there be coloring sheets and coloring materials provided?
Yes. You can choose from several designs of coloring sheets. Coloring pens will also be provided and for sharing. Kindly return the coloring pens so others can use it afterwards.

Can I bring my own adult coloring books and coloring materials?
Yes, as long as the coloring books and materials were purchased from National Book Store, NBS Express and Powerbooks.

PR courtesy of National Book Store

Leave a comment »

Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus

Romancing the Dark in the City of Light

“You are your own person. You have your own strength.”

A troubled teen, living in Paris, is torn between two boys, one of whom encourages her to embrace life, while the other—dark, dangerous, and attractive—urges her to embrace her fatal flaws.

Haunting and beautifully written, with a sharp and distinctive voice that could belong only to this character, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unforgettable young adult novel.

Summer Barnes just moved to Paris to repeat her senior year of high school. After being kicked out of four boarding schools, she has to get on track or she risks losing her hefty inheritance. Summer is convinced that meeting the right guy will solve everything. She meets two. Moony, a classmate, is recovering against all odds from a serious car accident, and he encourages Summer to embrace life despite how hard it can be to make it through even one day. But when Summer meets Kurt, a hot, mysterious older man who she just can’t shake, he leads her through the creepy underbelly of the city-and way out of her depth.

When Summer’s behavior manages to alienate everyone, even Moony, she’s forced to decide if a life so difficult is worth living. With an ending that’ll surprise even the most seasoned reader, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unputdownable and utterly compelling novel.

Personal Thoughts:

When I signed-up for the blog tour of Romancing the Dark in the City of Light, I honestly didn’t know that the book is about suicide. I thought it is a light read about couple falling in love while in the city of light, Paris. And since I love Paris so much I thought I’ll read the book. So color me surprised when I found out that this novel is is not a light read and not so much about Paris. Instead I got a more meaningful read as the novel braves to touch two sensitive topics – suicide and alcohol addiction.

I already lost count how many contemporary YA novels that deals with suicide and mental health illness I have read this year. And it seems that YA contemporary novels are full of these themes lately. I’m not sure what that it means, but if writers are tapping into reality just what most contemporary writers are usually doing then this fad in YA contemporary fiction is something we should think about.

As much as I applaud authors for their willingness to engage and educate their readers about mental health issues like depression, suicide and addiction, I am also concern with how these topics were handled. These are very sensitive topics and I think that both writers and readers need to be more careful with them.

“Kindness is like hope. It feeds hope. Which just keeps us around to suffer more.”

In this novel, I think Anna Jocobus actually deliver a realistic story of someone who is suffering from depression and alcohol addiction. Summer, the main character can’t get through a day without alcohol in her system, and just like most of those with addiction, Summer doesn’t recognize that she has problem. This is where Anna Jocobus succeeded, she portray Summer and her condition realistically.

Summer is not a very likable character but she’s is a very true example of someone suffering from addiction. She’s the kind of character that will received mixed feedback from readers. I myself get frustrated with her for always making the bad moves and wrong decisions but despite of that I root for her. I still want her to be better and see things differently.

At first I don’t like that Summer is actually trying to find her purpose and salvation through a guy or boyfriend. As much as I enjoy reading romance I don’t agree that falling in love or finding romance is the solution to depression. Love won’t magically cure addiction or mental illness. It can be a factor but not the only ingredient. So when Summer finally realize that she can settle for Moony’s friendship I finally see improvement from her.

As for the plot twist regarding Kurt it’s not exactly surprising for me. I guessed it about first quarter of reading. I just wish that it was handled more rationally in the end. As much as I want to discuss the issue more, there are spoilers I don’t want to delve into.

Overall, Romancing in the Dark in the City of Light is a haunting and powerful novel. Anna Jocobus successfully weaved a realistic story and tackles sensitive topics with honesty and ease.

Leave a comment »

Carry On – Simon & Baz’ Story Continue

Have you read Rainbow Rowell’s previous novel Fangirl? If yes, for sure you’ve met Simon and Baz, the two fictional characters from Cath’s head. Now these two will get the chance to take the spotlight as Rainbow Rowell’s write their story and adventures to her upcoming book CARRY ON. This upcoming novel is the first fantasy novel from Rainbow Rowell. Having read all her previous novels I am excited to find out how Rainbow as a fantasy writer and also excited to know more about Simon and Baz.

We are also organizing a Carry On Book Launch Party which is happening this coming Sunday, October 10, 2015 at Powerbooks Greenbelt, Makati City PH. For more details just go here.

About Carry On:

Carry On

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

Lev Grossman Quote

About Rainbow Rowell:


RAINBOW ROWELL writes books. Sometimes she writes about adults (Attachments and Landline). Sometimes she writes about teenagers (Eleanor & Park, Fangirl and Carry On). But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they’re screwing up. And people who fall in love. When she’s not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things. She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.

Find Rainbow

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Leave a comment »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,883 other followers

%d bloggers like this: