Chachic's Book Nook


2 Comments

Amour et Florand: Guest Post from Laura Florand

Bonjour! Today, we have a very special guest post for Amour et Florand as Laura Florand herself shares some thoughts about her writing.

Yay, Laura! *claps enthusiastically*

_________________________

Exploring the streets of the towns around Grasse leads here, in Cagnes (Haut de Cagnes), France.

Exploring the streets of the towns around Grasse leads here, in Cagnes (Haut de Cagnes), France. This street, with its thick vine, will become the inspiration for the street on which Colette Delatour’s house is found, in the Vie en Roses series.

I think anyone who reads my work can tell that I am deeply compelled by the powerful sensuality of setting. The sound of bees buzzing densely around you as you crouch amid lavender, the way the sprigs of it gently scratch their scent against your skin. The silk of petals as you press your thumb into a rose to harvest it, and the prick of a thorn if you’re careless. The scent of sun against stone and jasmine, and the subtle chatter of dried leaves over cobblestones in the streets of some old Provençal town, as if the wind is gossiping about you as you climb toward some chapel or castle set on the heights.

These are the settings of the Vie en Roses series, a setting that defiantly eludes capture. All words fail here. How do you describe the harvest of a valley full of roses? Rose petals are actually softer than silk, their scent sweeter and fresher than sweetness, and in any case, all words like “silk”, “sweet” have been worn weak with overuse. So what is a writer to do? This is the challenge and joy of writing about such vivid worlds: that eternal, Sisyphian effort to do justice to their vividness on the printed page.

The books in La Vie en Roses focus around a family in Grasse in the south of France, a family whose role in the fragrance industry of that region dates back to the Renaissance. In the Amour et Chocolat series, on the other hand, I have been fascinated by another profession obsessed with the senses: the top chocolatiers and pastry chefs of Paris. These amazing, incredibly hard-working, passionate, perfectionist chefs who devote their whole being to creating that most perfect, magical dessert or chocolate that will melt in someone else’s mouth, give someone else pleasure.

Laura with chocolatier Michael Chaudun

Laura with chocolatier Michael Chaudun

Maybe I am so fascinated by them because they do so well something I, with words, would like to do: capture the power of the senses. One small, perfect chocolate is, in itself, the quintessence of sensuality. And here, too, the setting helps compel me: that rich setting of chocolate, pastry, intense work, and, of course, one step outside the laboratoire, the streets of Paris. If you cannot walk down the Seine at night and be utterly enraptured by the fact that you are alive to experience this, then you are immune to all magic.

People often ask me why I write about France. Sometimes I say, tongue in cheek, that the culture appropriated me. As a student planning her dissertation in Francophone literature, with a focus on French Polynesia, I came to Paris with some reticence, as a graduate assistant with my university’s study abroad program. I initially was underwhelmed by Paris — compared to warm and energetic Madrid, in which I had spent the semester before, or Tahiti, where I had spent a year on a Fulbright Grant. In Paris that first year, it rained all the time and the very bad bet of an ex-boyfriend I had left behind found my number and kept calling me at three in the morning, and it was all just very miserable.

But Paris caught me. France caught me. I met my husband there. He took me out inline skating on the Seine night after night and taught me to fall in love with his city, in all its fascination and frustration. And his huge, effervescent family wrapped us up in their embrace, welcoming and fun but very much taking over my whole life as I had known it, until there came a point that so little of my original self was left in me that I would struggle to recapture the English language by sitting down to write, forcing my way through the awkward syntax French kept imposing on my thoughts, until I could express myself again in my native language.

Patriarch Joseph Mul with in his fields of roses, near Grasse, France. Joseph Mul grows the roses and jasmine used in Chanel’s perfumes, including the famous N. 5.

Patriarch Joseph Mul with in his fields of roses, near Grasse, France. Joseph Mul grows the roses and jasmine used in Chanel’s perfumes, including the famous N. 5.

So writing became a way of possessing my own experience, if you will — of everything that was so powerful and magical and, yes, difficult about that experience. I had always written — I’ve been writing every day since I was nine years old, determined to “be a writer”—but once when I was a teenager, my grandfather told me to “go live my life first and then write about it”. And I guess I had finally done that.

I still teach, and one thing I try to give my students is the same thing I try go give my readers: the world is a huge, rich place, and I hope you’ll go after it with everything in you. Sink into experiences. (And no, these don’t have to be expensive experiences, although I do love travel and believe strongly in its value and in the value of learning at least one other language. But you can take a walk in your nearest woods and sink into experiences, just by remembering to touch the bark on the trees sometimes. You can eat a clementine and sink into the experience, just by squeezing the peel to release the oils.)

Enrobeuse at Jacques Genin

Enrobeuse at Jacques Genin

I once in a while receive emails from a rare reader who is angry — really, virulently angry — that I might write about something outside small town America. I grew up in a small town myself, and small towns can be as rich in experience as anywhere else (Sarah Addison Allen, for example, vividly evokes small towns at an all-five-senses level). But that someone should think you should close off all other options makes me really, really sad.

But what makes me really happy is when I hear from readers who have, after reading these books, decided to take that trip to France they’ve been dreaming of, or try that basil-infused gourmet chocolate, or just take whatever action expands your life and experience.

You encourage me to expand my life and experience. To brave anticipated rejection from one of the world’s best chocolatiers and maneuver myself into his laboratoire, to chat with people in the streets of Grasse as I hunt down access to rose growers and perfumers, to explore new places and tastes and textures, new sources of story.

So thank you, all of you, for that. For keeping me reminded not to shrink-wrap my own life, but to keep all that space open to stretch out my arms, take deep breaths of lavender, go taste some chocolate… and I hope write about it in a way that encourages you to do so, too.

Thanks so much for reading. And thank you, Chachic, for doing me the wonderful honor of this week, and to all of you who have participated in it. I am very, very honored and thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

A fountain entirely surrounded by jasmine becomes the setting for a kiss, in The Chocolate Rose. While the village of Sainte-Mère is a deliberately fictional invention which blurs elements of several small towns in this area, in real life, this fountain is in Mougins, France.

A fountain entirely surrounded by jasmine becomes the setting for a kiss, in The Chocolate Rose. While the village of Sainte-Mère is a deliberately fictional invention which blurs elements of several small towns in this area, in real life, this fountain is in Mougins, France.

_________________________

Merci, Laura! This is a beautiful. It has been my pleasure to organize Amour et Florand to celebrate your work. I really think your writing captures the power of the senses and yes, it also encourages readers to sink into experiences. Just look at how many readers had to run and buy chocolates while reading your books. :)

Amour et Florand


4 Comments

Amour et Florand: Guest Post from Angie

I think my reading life would be super boring if I never met (sadly just online and not yet in person) Angie of Angieville because she gives the best recommendations. She writes these lovely reviews that make you want to read the book that she’s talking about as soon as you can. Seriously, there’s even a button for her recs:

recommended by Angie

An image created by fellow YAcker Laura

So when I manage to recommend a book that she ends up liking, I feel like giving myself a pat on the back. Here she is to tell us what she loves about Laura Florand’s books.

Angieville
_________________________

It’s especially fitting that I write this post for Chachic’s Laura Florand event, as it was she who inspired me to give these delightful books a try in the first place. I remember judging the first couple of Amour et Chocolat books by their adorable silhouette covers (one of these days I will learn my lesson), and so I went in expecting something light and fluffy and charmingly Parisian. I was almost immediately surprised to find out there was quite a bit more going on under their benign covers. And rather intensely going on at that. Sylvain is Parisian. And Cade is (at times) charming. But nothing — right down to the obscenely dark chocolate Sylvain creates — is light and fluffy.

So much of the wonderful gravity Laura Florand imbues her characters with is present in their meet-cutes, which almost always weigh in on the devastating end of the “cute” spectrum. They are often smashed over the head with their attraction to one another, yet Ms. Florand neatly avoids any irksome instalust by matching up such intelligent, talented, and professional people, and by providing them with deep backgrounds, conflicts, and motivations. All of this is not to say that the swoon factor isn’t there. On the contrary, the swoon is off the charts. Particularly as it is paired so beautifully with master craftsmen who are at the top of their game, who know how to woo, and who are not afraid to use every last swirl of chocolate and spin of sugar to do it.

But the real ace in the hole is the writing. Each of these decadent concoctions could so quickly fall flat if they weren’t rendered in such lovely prose. When Philippe calls Magalie’s name, when she frustratedly explains the wishes she stirs into her chocolat chaud. When Dom pushes past his disbelief and realizes he means that word Jaime can’t find, that word that means warmth. Well. In those moments, I care about them so much. Those moments, those passages are so well-crafted they linger in my mind and resurface as bright spots in my day months later. These are books worth hugging to your chest, worth owning so you can pull them out as needed to read and reread and — in their pages — wander Paris, falling in love with each lovely step.

_________________________

Merci, Angie! I wholeheartedly agree that Laura’s books are the type that are worth hugging to your chest. They’re the kind of books that feel like comfort reads even if you’re reading them for the first time.

Amour et Florand


17 Comments

Amour et Florand: Making Great Characterization Look Easy

Rachel Neumeier is the author of fantasy novels House of Shadows, the Griffin Mage trilogy, The Floating Islands, The City in the Lake and Black Dog. Rachel and I chat about the books that we read all the time. She’s recommended some books that have become favorites for me and I’m always flattered when she decides to try a book that I’ve recommended. We both love Laura Florand’s books so we’ve discussed them several times. Rachel is here to talk about what she likes the most in Laura’s writing.
_________________________

Rachel NeumeierCade Corey is the uber-rich heiress to the world’s biggest and most powerful chocolate empire, Corey Chocolate. Her sister, Jaime, is a rich do-gooder who travels in the third world to Improve People’s Lives. Summer, their cousin, is luminously beautiful as well as rich. Her father has just bought her a hotel as part of a bribe to get Summer to live her life his way.

Sylvain Marquis is the best chocolatier in Paris (just ask him). He has all the fame one ego can manage. So does his main rival, Dominique Richard. So does Luc Leroi, one of the top pastry chefs in the world, who happens to work for Summer’s hotel.

People, these are not characters just any writer could pull off. I can’t be alone at rolling my eyes when a romance involves the richest girl in the world and the best chocolatier in the world. Isn’t it possible for a romance to involve protagonists a little more… normal?

Yet, in Laura Florand’s hands, these characters are somehow transformed from the cardboard cutouts we might expect into real people that we sympathize with and root for – that we can’t help but sympathize with and root for. This is partly Florand’s beautiful writing – and her writing is beautiful – but mostly it is her talent for establishing a complicated backstory that echoes forward into a character’s present.

Cade Corey is confident of her business acumen, but she’s not at all sure a man could possibly care about her rather than about her money. She knows she can run her father’s company when her turn comes, but she’s not sure she has the right to claim a life of her own. Sylvain knows his chocolate is the best in the world, but success was not something he was born with. He’s experienced plenty of rejection in his life, and he’s not at all sure a woman could care about him as a person.

Which gives rise to one of the best opening lines ever, incidentally:

Sylvain Marquis knew what women desired: chocolate. And so he had learned as he grew into adulthood how to master a woman’s desire.

This is funny and intriguing and a wonderful invitation to read the next line, and the next after that – Laura Florand knows how to draw in a reader, that’s for sure. But it also shows right away that Sylvain doesn’t really believe a woman is likely to desire him for himself. And this is not just something the author tells the reader: Florand makes us believe in Sylvain’s insecurity and Cade’s vulnerability. She really does.

The Chocolate Thief, featuring Cade and Sylvain, is light and fun and charming. But the Chocolate romances gain depth as the series goes on, so that by the time we get to the fourth book in the series, The Chocolate Touch, which features Jaime and Dom, the story is not so light – though it still has plenty of humor – but is truly touching.

Jaime is not some posturing first-world twit showing off her moral superiority with her Causes. We find out just enough about her activities with the cacao plantations to know she is intelligent and practical and has truly been making a real difference in people’s lives. For me, that’s crucial in establishing her as a sympathetic protagonist. And we also know she has recently been badly hurt, not just metaphorically. Her confidence in herself has been shattered. She needs someone to help her regain that confidence.

Dominique Richard is one of Sylvain’s main rivals for Best Chocolatier in Paris, but his background is awful. We all know how violence and abuse in one generation tends to lead to violence and abuse in the next generation, and here is Dom, so determined that he will not contribute to that pattern. He’s got quite a reputation as a tough guy, yet he’s vulnerable in a whole different way compared to Sylvain. And Florand makes us totally buy this with her brilliant writing. Dom is (still) my favorite male lead from the Chocolate romances.

Then we have their cousin, Summer. Summer is the rich girl who is also luminously beautiful: a tough protagonist to handle, because what kind of difficulties can a woman like that actually have? Well, it turns out she does have real problems. She’s in a genuinely painful situation and as that is slowly revealed, well, it would take a pretty hard-hearted reader not to sympathize with her and root for her and join her cheering section.

And Luc! He’s made it to the tippy-top of his profession, but, you guessed it, his life is not actually in perfect order. For him, it’s all about breaking out of his own tight defenses. Summer gives him a reason to do that.

Luc’s eyebrows drew together. He stared after the barge, profoundly disturbed at the thought that Summer might have needed him and his tangle of pride and hunger had left her unprotected. “Do you really think she’s shy?” he asked after a while…. I failed her didn’t I? I never fail at anything, but I think I keep failing her.

Yes, he does, until he gets it together and begins to really believe that Summer can be hurt and that he keeps hurting her and maybe he should start supporting her instead.

Seriously, any writer could learn a lot from Laura Florand about giving a protagonist a difficult, complicated background that echoes forward to produce real human problems and touching vulnerability. Thus we have:

In Sun-Kissed:

Her isolation itched at him. Mack wanted to reach out and break it, like one of those damn sugar sculptures over on the bridal table, break the translucent pieces of that isolation, say, Hey, did you notice all the world here you’re missing?

In Turning up the Heat:

“You’ve got to admit, it’s a beautiful irony, chérie. I gave myself up for you. You gave yourself up for me. And we’re here scrabbling to find enough of each other we can hold onto.”

In The Chocolate Temptation:

Why was he so bad at this? Surely no other man had to sue a woman just so he could make her put up with him long enough that he had a chance to figure out how to talk to her.

And I haven’t even mentioned some of my favorite Florand titles! Sticking to the Corey family simplified this post, but here I am, and I haven’t had a chance to mention the fairy tales that infuse at least half of Florand’s stories, or describe her beautiful use of metaphor, or discuss the wonderful relationships between her secondary characters that deepen every book, or refer to the lovely hints of magical realism in The Chocolate Kiss, or, or, or…

One of my favorite finds over the past couple of years, Laura Florand is now an auto-buy author for me, even though I’m not a big romance reader in general. I’m definitely right there for whatever she writes next.

_________________________

Merci, Rachel! I think Laura does a very good job in fleshing out her characters – I like that she shows us the flaws of these characters. That they’re still vulnerable and insecure even if they’ve accomplished so much in their lives.

Amour et Florand


13 Comments

Amour et Florand: The Chocolat Awards

Isn’t it great when your friends read and love the same books that you do? I was thrilled when my very good friend Holly of Book Harbinger agreed to do a guest post for Amour et Florand.

Please give Holly a warm welcome to Amour et Florand, as she presents The Chocolat Awards!

BookHarbinger
_________________________

Hi, all! I’m excited to be here. When Chachic asked me to participate in her Amour et Florand week I didn’t even hesitate to respond with a resounding yes. I’m currently on hiatus from my own blog (Book Harbinger) but I couldn’t pass up a chance to talk about one of my favorite contemporary romance series, Amour et Chocolat. I started the series last summer and read everything of Florand’s that I could get my hands on, chocolate-related or not. And while it may have been the charming cover, the endearing title, or the cute premise of The Chocolate Thief that initially drew me in, I found the series to be a perfectly-balanced combination of sweet and bitter and decadence and depth. Now I return to the Chocolat novels just as much for the nuanced characters and the deftly written scenes as I do for the luxurious descriptions of chocolate and the smoking hot smexy times.

For my post today I chose to revisit the standout characters and scenes of the series and select awards for my favorites. Without further ado, I present The Chocolat Awards:

Amour et Chocolat

Favorite female protagonist: Jaime from The Chocolate Touch. I loved seeing her transform from broken to whole and fragile to strong both inside and out.

Favorite male protagonist: Dominique from The Chocolate Touch. I connected to his soft, at times socially awkward center and swooned over his bad boy, leather-wearing biker outer shell.

Favorite other character(s): Magalie’s aunts from The Chocolate Kiss. Tough and practical in their own ways, Aja and Genevieve compliment each other well and make a strong support team for Magalie.

Loveliest couple: No surprises here! – my two favorite people – Dominique and Jaime from The Chocolate Touch. They are vulnerable and scarred and perfect for saving one other.

Steamiest scene: So difficult to choose! One of the most memorable for me is Sylvain and Cade (The Chocolate Thief) on the stairs. You know you remember it…

Funniest scene: When Cade crashes Sylvain’s chocolate-making workshop in her bad sweats disguise. (The Chocolate Thief)

Most magical chocolate shop: No contest here – the magical window displays and bewitched chocolat chaud of La Maison des Sorcieres (The Witches’ House) in The Chocolate Kiss. The magic realism in this book was truly enchanting. I want to drink one of Magalie’s wish-filled cups of hot chocolate.

Most idyllic setting: The flowers, fountains, and sun of Provence in The Chocolate Rose. (Visiting southern France is on my bucket list, for sure!)

Most salivating French cuisine scene: When Sylvain and his girl “friend” and Cade happen to choose the same Parisian café for dinner in The Chocolate Thief.

Most romantic chocolate-tasting scene: When Jolie tastes Gabriel’s famed chocolate rose and finds something besides the rich ganache filling inside. (The Chocolate Rose)

Most sensual chocolate-making+more scene: Magalie and Philippe in the kitchen of La Maison des Sorcieres (The Chocolate Kiss)… and a myriad of others. *blushes*

Book most likely to induce you to run to your nearest patisserie as soon as possible: The Chocolate Kiss (For Philippe-like French macarons! If only I could find a decent one in my neck of the woods. Add ‘Visit Laduree’ to bucket list? Check.)

Do you agree or disagree with my selections? Who are your favorite Amour et Chocolat heroes and heroines? Which scenes are the sexiest or have the most delectable chocolate-tasting moments? I know that I overlooked some excellent ones. I can’t wait to relive your favorite moments of the series.

Thanks for having me, Chachic!

_________________________

Merci, Holly! It’s always nice to have you over here. Such a clever topic. I would have to think about what my selections for these awards will be.

Here are some Amour et Florand posts in other blogs:
pakwanstripes: Laura and the Five Senses
From Cover to Cover: Five Things I love About Laura Florand’s Books

Amour et Florand


12 Comments

Amour et Florand: Guest Post from Michelle

Bonjour, Laura Florand fans! Yesterday, we started off Amour et Florand by sharing stories of how we discovered Laura’s books. I mentioned that I found out about the Amour et Chocolat books through my friend Michelle of See Michelle Read. So of course, she was one of the first people I invited to write a guest post for Amour et Florand. I’m so glad she said yes.

Give it up for Michelle!

See Michelle Read
_________________________
Ever since I discovered Laura Florand’s Amour et Chocolat books last year, I’ve tried to pinpoint why exactly they appeal so much to me as a reader. Since I refuse to believe they are part of a conspiracy concocted by the chocolate makers of the world to convince us to purchase more and more of their product, I’ve since come to the super-scientific conclusion that Ms. Florand’s books must rely on three specific points to achieve their full addictive properties. And just in case there is any doubt; this is a scholarly researched thesis. Scholarly! In the name of academia, I’ve spent hours pouring over these three books with only a few bars of Ghirardelli Intense Dark for sustenance. This is totally legitimate research and not the meanderings of some amateur coming out of a dark chocolate-induced hangover. So! Don your fluffy cardigans and horn-rimmed glasses, as I give you:

Michelle’s Super Scholarly Thesis on The Addictive Properties of The Amour et Chocolat Series

 

Paris. You know what they say: location, location, location and Laura Florand has nailed it with her setting. Most women with even a slightly functioning romance radar will agree that there is something about the City of Lights and the mere mention of falling in love in such a picturesque locale is enough to elicit a chorus of wistful sighs. Notwithstanding the romantic backdrop, consider the French penchant for fabulous food and you come to my next point…

Chocolate. Dear me. Chocolate. The connecting feature of all Ms. Florand’s novels! Whether you like milk, dark (did I mention how much I love dark?), caramel, with nuts/without, chocolate lovers can all attest to the magical powers contained therein (except for those white chocolate weirdos. Blech. I don’t think they should be allowed to call that waxy stuff chocolate). Chocolate is rich and indulgent and decadent…plus the whole melting at body temperature thing? Talk about a shoo-in for the most swoon-worthy dessert.

And where would the chocolate in Laura Florand’s books be without the handsome men who obsess work so hard to get their creations juuuust perfect? Which brings us (finally, you say) to my last point: The Dudes. If I had only one word to describe Ms. Florand’s chocolate obsessed heroes it would be Intense. 98% cacao special dark intense. Actually, I was gonna go with testosterone-filled-endearingly-adorable-chocolate-perfection-obsessed-dudes, but well, you get the idea. Slyvain, Philippe, Dominique…all three are solid alpha heroes who have no problem going after exactly what (and who) they want. And if they just happen to smell just like chocolate in the process? So much the better.

So there you have it. The secret formula to the Amour et Chocolate series: Paris, Chocolate, and The Dudes. A winning combination to be sure and I highly recommend you prove my hypothesis and read these books for yourself. And for purely academic purposes, just be sure to have your own stash of chocolate within arms reach — mine’s taken.
_________________________

Merci, Michelle! I agree with the reasons you included here: Paris, chocolate and the heroes. All of them contribute to making Laura’s books highly addictive.

Amour et Florand


41 Comments

Amour et Florand: How did you discover Laura’s books?

Amour et Florand

Welcome to Amour et Florand, a blog event celebrating Laura Florand’s writing! I’m excited to be hosting this event, with guest posts from other Laura Florand fans throughout the week. If you’ve known me for a while then you’re probably aware of how enthusiastic I can get when it comes to the authors I love. I can’t stop talking about them and I keep pushing friends, both online and in real life, to read their books. Because I want more readers to pick up books written by favorite authors, I started hosting blog events to focus on their work. This is the first time I’ve featured a romance author in one of these events, which makes Amour et Florand special. Some of the other events that I’ve hosted were Queen’s Thief Week (about Megan Whalen Turner’s writing), Marchetta Madness (about Melina Marchetta) and EWein Special Ops (about Elizabeth Wein).

Let’s kick off Amour et Florand with stories of how we discovered Laura Florand’s books. I first found out about her last year. In March 2013, I traveled from Singapore to LA to attend a cousin’s wedding. While I was there, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to meet one of my long-time blogging buddies: Michelle of See Michelle Read. I will always be thankful that Michelle was willing to drive a couple of hours in order for us to finally meet in person.

withMichelle

Michelle and I at Barnes and Noble

We had lunch, dropped by a bookstore and of course, chatted about books. Michelle was raving about Laura Florand, this contemporary romance author who writes about chocolates and Paris. I was immediately curious because Michelle and I tend to have similar tastes in the books that we read. I take her recommendations seriously. I can still remember inquiring at the B&N branch we visited if they had copies of The Chocolate Thief and The Chocolate Kiss. I would have bought them right then and there if they were available but unfortunately, they weren’t. Good thing I was planning to order books online and I was able to include those two in my haul. I read The Chocolate Thief a few weeks later and that started my love affair with Laura Florand’s books. She became an auto-read author for me and I’ve read all of her books since then. I’ve also traveled to Paris and Aix-en-Provence last April and Laura’s books were constantly on my mind during the time we were there. It’s a good thing two of the friends I was with have read her books because I kept talking about them. Unfortunately, I didn’t encounter any handsome chocolatiers or perfumers.

On one hand, I feel lucky that I discovered her work early – she only had two books out at that time. But on the other hand, I envy those who will be able to have a nice glom of all her work. It’s a good thing there isn’t a long wait in between her books because I really can’t get enough of Laura’s writing. I’m really looking forward to her next release, Once Upon a Rose.

So that’s how I found out about Laura’s books, through the recommendation of a very good friend. What about the rest of you, how did you find out about Laura Florand’s books? Was it through a friend, a book blogger or just by browsing in a bookstore? What was the first Laura Florand book that you read? Share your stories! I would love to hear them. Let the Amour et Florand discussions begin. :) Feel free to leave a comment or please use the hashtag #AmouretFlorand on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram if you plan to talk about the event over there, just so we can all follow the posts.

Links to my reviews of Laura’s books:
All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate by Laura Florand
The Chocolate Thief
The Chocolate Kiss
The Chocolate Touch
The Chocolate Rose
(Novel Gossip discussion)
The Chocolate Temptation
Turning Up the Heat
A Rose in Winter

Snapshot from a Book:
The Chocolate Thief
The Chocolate Touch


8 Comments

Coming Soon: Amour et Florand

Remember The Queen’s Thief Week, Marchetta Madness and EWein Special Ops? On the week of July 21 to 27, I have another special event planned which will be called Amour et Florand. Similar to all the earlier blog events that I mentioned, this will focus on one of my favorite authors: Laura Florand. It will be a week filled with guest posts and discussions all about her writing. I love Laura’s books and I’m hoping that the upcoming Amour et Florand will encourage more readers to pick up her novels.

Amour et Florand

FYI, the image used (with her permission) for the blog event is Laura’s own wedding picture! Doesn’t it look so romantic? If any of you want to write a guest post for Amour et Florand, just let me know. :) Or if you’re more comfortable writing a post on your own blog, feel free to grab the image above and link to the event. I will also promote your posts during the week of the event. If you haven’t read any of Laura’s books, now is a good time to start.


11 Comments

#ArmchairBEA 2014: Wrap Up

ArmchairBEA 2014

I’m glad I was able to participate this week in ArmchairBEA because I had a lot of fun with the daily topics and the discussions with other bloggers through comments. To all those who dropped by my blog to comment, THANK YOU! I’ve replied to most of the comments and will catch up with the rest later. I’m sorry I missed the Twitter chats because of the time difference.

Here’s a recap of my ArmchairBEA posts:
Introduction
Author Interaction
Expanding Blogging Horizons
Novellas and Short Stories
Beyond the Borders
Young Adult

I really enjoyed the Instagram challenge. I’ve tried joining month-long Instagram challenges but I never completed any of them so I like the week-long time frame of ArmchairBEA since I was able to keep up. Recap of Instagram posts:
My Armchair
Shelfie
Current Bookmark: ebook and physical
Where I Armchair From

I hope the rest of you had as much fun as I did. See you all in next year’s ArmchairBEA!


17 Comments

#ArmchairBEA 2014: Young Adult

Our final genre of discussion is one that we know is a popular one these days: books for the younger crowd, from middle grade to young adult. If you do not normally talk about this genre on your site, maybe you want to feature books that you remember impacting you during this stage in your life. If this is where you tend to gravitate, maybe you want to list your favorites, make recommendations based on genres, or feature some titles that you are excited to read coming later this year.

I read a lot of YA books so I’m half-tempted to just write “too many too mention” for this ArmchairBEA topic. But then where’s the fun in that? That wouldn’t enable me to share some of my favorite titles and discuss them with other bloggers. So I’ve put together lists divided by category/genres of YA novels that I’ve truly enjoyed reading:

Epic Fantasy
Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
Pegasus by Robin McKinley
Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Sabriel by Garth Nix
A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge
Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow
Northlander by Meg Burden
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Alternate History/Historical Fiction
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The Lion Hunters series by Elizabeth Wein
A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson
The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Urban Fantasy
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier

Fairy Tale Retelling
Beauty by Robin McKinley
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Contemporary
I Do by Elizabeth Chandler
Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols
Easy by Tammara Webber
My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Aussie YA
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
All I Ever Wanted by Vikki Wakefield
Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Host

WeLoveYA

I probably forgot some titles while putting this together, maybe I’ll edit the post when I remember anything else. Do you have any recommendations for me based on the books I listed here? What about the rest of you, what are some of the MG or YA titles that you’ve enjoyed reading?


11 Comments

#ArmchairBEA 2014: Beyond the Borders / Recommending Filipino Fiction

ArmchairBEA 2014

It’s time to step outside your comfort zone, outside your borders, or outside of your own country or culture. Tell us about the books that transported you to a different world, taught you about a different culture, and/or helped you step into the shoes of someone different from you. What impacted you the most about this book? What books would you recommend to others who are ready or not ready to step over the line? In essence, let’s start the conversation about diversity and keep it going!

I’m a Filipino currently living and working in Singapore. So basically, most of the books that I read are outside my own culture because a lot of them are either set in a fantasy world or in the US, UK, Europe or Australia. I do think it’s great that there’s more of a push for readers to pay more attention to diversity in books. Reading is like a form of traveling in the sense that it opens your mind to what is outside your comfort zone and how things are different compared to the things that you’re used to. And at the same time, it also makes you realize how some things are the same wherever you are in the world (or even if you’re in a different world). I wouldn’t be reading the books that I read if I couldn’t relate to them. I can relate to the characters, their feelings and their reactions to the situations they find themselves in, even if we have different cultural backgrounds and we live in different places. I’ve also traveled outside of Asia so that gives me the small advantage of being able to relate to books set in some of the other cities/countries I’ve visited.

In the spirit of encouraging readers to pick up diverse books, here are that I would recommend that are either set in the Philippines or have Filipino characters:

Any of Mina V. Esguerra’s books – Mina writes contemporary romance or chick lit set in the Philippines with Filipino characters. I recommend her books because they give readers a good picture of what life is like for a young woman in her twenties back home.

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay – Candy is also a Filipino author and her middle grade contemporary novel about two siblings is partially set in the Philippines.

Trese graphic novel series by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldissimo – I can now happily recommend this urban fantasy/horror graphic novel series because it’s available on Amazon! Written and illustrated by Filipinos, I love how this series has supernatural creatures based on Filipino myths and folklore.

Cover (Story) Girl by Chris Mariano – This is such a perfect summer read because it’s set in Boracay, one of the most well-known beaches in the Philippines. It’s a sweet romantic novella with a Filipino guy and Korean girl as MCs.

All’s Fair in Blog and War by Chrissie Peria – Another Filipino romance, this one is between two travel bloggers who win a free trip to Macau in exchange for featuring the country in their blogs.

Interim Goddess of Love_digital coverTall Story UKTrese Mass MurdersCover Story GirlAll's Fair in Blog and War

How about you, care to recommend some diverse books?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,337 other followers