Chachic's Book Nook


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Top Ten Blogging Confessions

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. I thought this week’s topic is such a fun one. I’m not sure if the things I’ve listed here can all be considered confessions or if they’re just random facts about me. In any case, I had fun coming up with this list and would be interested to know if any of you share my sentiments in any of these things.

1. I have ARC envy from time to time. I can’t help it, it’s hard to wait for books that you want to read right away. So when I see other bloggers sharing pictures or tweets of books that I’m dying to read, I get jealous. Then I have to remind myself that I have so many good books waiting to be read from my own stash.

2. I also get jealous of all the author and book-related events or conferences that are held in other countries. Even Manila has started getting more author events organized by major bookstores (e.g. Stephanie Perkins in the Philippines). If Megan Whalen Turner or Elizabeth Wein or Melina Marchetta ever have a Manila event, I’m definitely booking a flight to see them. Sigh, I can’t even remember the last time I attended a book event.

3. I want a new Kindle. My trusty Kindle Touch is just about to turn 2 years old and it’s still working fine so it wouldn’t be very practical to get a new one. I love that I’ve brought my Kindle with me on my travels (it’s been to Manila, Singapore, Los Angeles, Paris, Barcelona, Aix-en-Provence and Milan) but I really want a Kindle Paperwhite. Mostly for the convenience of having a lighted device.

A shot of my Kindle on the train on the way to Milan. I was reading Thorn by Intisar Khanani

A shot of my Kindle on the train on the way to Milan. I was reading Thorn by Intisar Khanani

4. I tend to ignore the paperbacks and hardcovers in my TBR pile. I’ve become really bad at reading the physical books that I have just because my Kindle is so easy to carry around in my purse. But I still enjoy buying and receiving physical books and I like the comfort of having a bookshelf full of books so now I have quite a number of unread titles. I really should make more of an effort to read these paperbacks and hardcovers, maybe alternate them with ebooks.

5. I measure the prices of things based on books. For example, if I’m considering buying something – let’s say a pretty necklace or a cute dress – and it’s more expensive that what I would usually spend on a thing like that, I would think to myself, “This is expensive, I could buy *insert number of books here* with this price.”

6. Whenever I buy a purse or handbag, I have to check and make sure that at least my Kindle or one book will be able to fit into it. Even if I don’t really get a chance to read during the day, I just feel more comfortable having a book with me.

7. My mood is affected by what I read in the sense that I’m in a good mood when I’m in the middle of (or just finished) a really good book. I also feel a bit lost when I’m not reading anything or if I’m not really enjoying what I’m reading.

8. I used to unfollow people on Twitter but now just use the mute button. I check my Twitter and Instagram feeds on a daily basis so I unfollow or mute people for several reasons: I may find their tweets or posts annoying or I’ve replied to their tweets but they’ve never responded – I mean I get when famous authors don’t respond but for fellow bloggers? I just feel like it’s not a good thing when I’m not able to have a conversation with that person.

9. I feel like I already spend a significant chunk of time on my blogging and yet it’s never enough. I spend a lot of my spare time on reading and blogging because they are my main hobbies. But even though I do that, I’m still behind on blogging in the sense that I don’t get to review all of the books that I read and I don’t get to post as often as I would like. Back when I had more time in my hands, I would also read and comment on all of the posts of the bloggers I follow but nowadays, I’m not able to do that anymore.

10. I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about what got me to start a book blog. Prior to starting my own book blog, I had a personal blog and was a lurker in LiveJournal communities. My friends kept telling me that I should review books because I enjoy reading so much, and I just kept saying that I’m a reader and not a writer. I was in awe of some of the book blogs that I discovered and felt that I wouldn’t be able to come up with something similar. But then I also started seeing other book blogs that were poorly maintained and realized that I could do better (I’m sorry if that sounds mean!) and that pushed me to start my own blog.


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Retro Friday: Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

The news of Mary Stewart recently passing away reminded me that I’ve been meaning to read more of her novels. I have a few of her romantic suspense novels in my TBR pile, one of which is her first novel Madam, Will You Talk? When I found out that this book is set in Provence, I was immediately curious and I wanted to read it sooner rather than later.

Madam Will You TalkHere’s the summary from Goodreads:

Charity had been looking forward to her driving holiday through France with her friend Louise – long, leisurely days under the hot sun, enjoying the beauty of the Provencal landscape. But very soon her dreams turn into a nightmare, as Charity becomes enmeshed in the schemes of a gang of murderers.

While I do read cozy mysteries from time to time, I can’t say that I’m a big fan of them. But there’s something about Mary Stewart’s writing that just draws me in. There’s a certain charm in her books that lets me see what life must have been like at that time. I like that her heroines are smart and capable ladies, even if they don’t believe they are. Madam, Will You Talk? is about Charity, a young English widow who goes off with her friend Louis on a summer vacation to the South of France and unexpectedly gets involved in a murder mystery. This is how she feels when she runs right smack into trouble:

“I was alone. Any help I got now would only come from myself, and I was well aware that I am not the stuff of which heroines are made. I was merely frightened and bewildered, and deeply resentful of the situation in which I found myself.”

I believe Charity handles herself very well for someone who was supposed to be on a holiday but ended up being chased all around the country instead. I love how Charity’s excellent driving skills come in handy and a powerful car becomes her weapon:

“I laughed. I was as cool as lake-water, and, for the moment, no more ruffled. The feel of that lovely car under my hands, in all her power and splendour, was to me like the feel of a sword in the hand of a man who has been fighting unarmed.”

I wish I could drive like that! The setting of the book starts in Avignon and explores the surrounding areas including Nimes and Marseilles. Mary Stewart’s descriptions made me want to visit Provence and all the places that Charity went to. One of the reasons why I enjoy this author’s romantic suspense novels is because each book is set in a beautiful and vibrant location. It says something about Mary Stewart’s writing that she can make these places come alive. She also has a way of keeping readers in suspense all throughout the story. I feel like I was right there with Charity, while she was being chased by a suspected murderer. I was cheering her on while she zoomed her car through all those French highways. I kept turning the pages because I wanted to get more information. I was very curious about how the mystery will be solved and how the romance will develop. As with all other Mary Stewart mysteries that I’ve read, Madam, Will You Talk? ended on a satisfying note. Another good romantic suspense read. I look forward to reading the rest of her books.

Other reviews:
Miss Darcy’s Library
Quirky Bookworm
Gudrun’s Tights
Bookwitch


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Top Ten Books About Friendships

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I love this week’s topic because friendship is a theme that I would happily read about at any given point in time. This reminded me that I did a friendship post a few years ago and I should have probably kept doing that as a yearly thing but it slept my mind. Anyway, in no particular order, here are some books that have strong themes of friendship that I have enjoyed reading:

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger – The two main characters formed a bond strong enough that they wanted to be brothers (from different parents) instead of best friends. Such a sweet story.

Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta – Melina Marchetta’s stories are pretty intense, including the friendships that are formed in her books.

Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow – I loved how resilient Otter, Kestrel and Cricket’s friendship was and how it never wavered even when two of the trio became a couple.

Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Host – Cass felt so alone and homesick at the start of the book, it was a relief when she started making friends among the Setari. It’s also great how her relationship with younger kids developed in the latter part of the series.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – The ultimate story about female friendship in the midst of war. Kiss me, Hardy!

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak – Liesel has a different kind of friendship with both Rudy and Max but both are a significant part of the story.

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – I think most of us would be familiar with how constant Harry, Ron and Hermione’s friendship is from start to finish.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson – Beautiful writing in this book about Tiger Lily, told from Tinker Bell’s point of view, who has stood by Tiger Lily’s side through thick and thin.

The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater – The boys and Blue may not always get along with each other but they’re very loyal and would go to great lengths to protect their friends.

Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews – Kate tried to be a lone wolf but it didn’t exactly work for her. Love her friendship with her BFF Andrea and how snarky they are. Also really like Kate’s friendship with other members of the Pack like Jim, Dolittle and even Mahon.

What about you, what are your favorite books that are about friendships?


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Want Books: Thorn

Want Books? is a weekly meme hosted here at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now. Everyone is free to join, just grab the image above. Leave a comment with a link to your post so I can do a roundup with each post.

Last week, I asked for recommendations for books that will wow me. One of the commenters, Mary Anne, mentioned a title that stood out to me: Thorn by Intisar Khanani. This is the first time I’ve heard of this title or this author but I was immediately curious because Thorn is a retelling of the Brothers Grimm Goose Girl fairy tale. It doesn’t hurt that the book has a pretty cover. I’m a big fan of fairy tales retold and the only Goose Girl retelling that I’ve read so far is Shannon Hale’s. Definitely planning to check this out. I’ve had a sample sent to my Kindle and if I end up liking it, I’ll probably grab the whole novel. I’m trying to be better about buying ebooks because I have so many unread titles in my TBR pile. I keep telling myself that I should only buy books that I’ll read right away (it doesn’t always work).

ThornHere’s the summary from Goodreads:

For Princess Alyrra, choice is a luxury she’s never had … until she’s betrayed.

Princess Alyrra has never enjoyed the security or power of her rank. Between her family’s cruelty and the court’s contempt, she has spent her life in the shadows. Forced to marry a powerful foreign prince, Alyrra embarks on a journey to meet her betrothed with little hope for a better future.

But powerful men have powerful enemies–and now, so does Alyrra. Betrayed during a magical attack, her identity is switched with another woman’s, giving Alyrra the first choice she’s ever had: to start a new life for herself or fight for a prince she’s never met. But Alyrra soon finds that Prince Kestrin is not at all what she expected. While walking away will cost Kestrin his life, returning to the court may cost Alyrra her own. As Alyrra is coming to realize, sometime the hardest choice means learning to trust herself.

Thanks to Mary Anne for this rec! As always, let me know what you think if you’ve read this book. Would be helpful to know more about it. Also, what book is at the top of your wishlist?


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Top Ten Books in Sci-Fi

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week, we got to choose what genre to focus on for our lists. I wanted to highlight sci-fi because it’s a genre that I haven’t fully explored. In no particular order, here are the sci-fi books that I’ve enjoyed reading:

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews

Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews

Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Höst

And All the Stars by Andrea K. Höst

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy

Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

… and I’m one short. I couldn’t even make it to ten! I wasn’t sure if dystopian or post-apocalyptic novels are considered sci-fi so I decided not to include them (in any case, I haven’t read a lot in that sub-genre either). I guess it’s pretty obvious that I need to read more from this genre. Would you happen to have any recommendations for me based on the titles listed above? Connie Willis and Linnea Sinclair are already on my TBR pile.


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Want Books: Generation V (American Vampire #1)

Want Books? is a weekly meme hosted here at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now. Everyone is free to join, just grab the image above. Leave a comment with a link to your post so I can do a roundup with each post.

I keep wanting to try new-to-me adult urban fantasy books because I’ve only found two series (Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews and the World of the Lupi by Eileen Wilks) that I loved enough to keep following. I’ve tried a couple of other series but sadly, didn’t feel compelled to read the rest of the books after the first two or three titles. My friend Kristen of Fantasy Cafe mentioned that she really enjoyed reading Generation V, the first book in the American Vampire series by M.L. Brennan. I looked it up and the premise looks promising. I’ve added it to my wishlist but I told Kristen that I have no idea when I would get to read it because I have such a huge TBR pile.

Generation VHere’s the summary from Goodreads:

Fortitude Scott’s life is a mess. A degree in film theory has left him with zero marketable skills, his job revolves around pouring coffee, his roommate hasn’t paid rent in four months, and he’s also a vampire. Well, sort of. He’s still mostly human.

But when a new vampire comes into his family’s territory and young girls start going missing, Fort can’t ignore his heritage anymore. His mother and his older, stronger siblings think he’s crazy for wanting to get involved. So it’s up to Fort to take action, with the assistance of Suzume Hollis, a dangerous and sexy shape-shifter. Fort is determined to find a way to outsmart the deadly vamp, even if he isn’t quite sure how.

But without having matured into full vampirehood and with Suzume ready to split if things get too risky, Fort’s rescue mission might just kill him…

What about you, what book is at the top of your wishlist? What’s your favorite urban fantasy series? Hope you’re all having a good weekend so far.


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Retro Friday: Medair by Andrea K. Höst

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

MedairHaving previously loved Andrea K. Höst’s sci-fi novels And All the Stars and the Touchstone trilogy, I picked up her Medair duology when I needed to be fully absorbed by a good novel. It’s funny because out of all of her books, I wanted to read this epic fantasy duology first but I didn’t get the chance to read them until recently. Once again, I would like to thank the author for providing a review copy of the omnibus edition which contains both The Silence of Medair and Voice of the Lost. I feel that both books have to be read together so I’m glad I got them in one edition.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Medair an Rynstar returned too late to drive back the Ibisian invasion. Centuries too late.

When friend and enemy have become the same thing, what use are the weapons Medair planned to use to protect her Empire? There is no magic, no artefact, no enchanted trinket which can undo the past.

But no matter how Medair wishes to hide from the consequences of her failure, there are those who will not allow her the luxury of denying the present. Her war is already lost, but she carries weapons which could change the course of new battles.

With the skirmishes of war beginning, and hunters in near pursuit, it is her conscience Medair cannot escape. Whose side should she be on? What is she really running from?

Silence of MedairI was completely immersed in Medair’s world right from the start. I read the whole thing in just one weekend because I couldn’t get enough of the story and just had to reach the end as soon as I could. I wanted to be swept away into a wonderful world filled with magic and adventure and I’m happy to report that Medair lived up to my expectations. Having had prior experience reading Andrea K. Höst’s other novels, I knew there would be surprising twists and turns in both The Silence of Medair and Voice of the Lost and I was right. I was immediately intrigued by the premise – Medair is a Herald of her kingdom, tasked with finding a powerful magical object that will help her people win the war. She succeeded in finding what she was looking for, but she stopped to rest in a place outside of time and when she woke up, she discovered that 500 years have passed. Not surprisingly, Medair feels lost, with no idea how to move forward. A large part of the reader’s enjoyment of Medair would depend on whether one will be able to sympathize with her and the issues that she faces. Her narration is very introspective, going back and forth from the past to the present, and trying to reconcile the differences between them. There’s a lot of reflection on her part as she reluctantly becomes involved in making decisions that would irrevocably change the world she found herself in. I loved Medair’s character, I understood her hesitations, her feelings and her worries. She’s an intelligent and resourceful woman, loyal to her liege and her country, and inherently a good person. But completely at a loss with how much has been altered in her world. I do admit that there could have been less of her thoughts going around in circles, even Medair was self-aware enough to realize that she keeps doing that, but I wasn’t really bothered by it. I can see why the narration wouldn’t work for everyone but I’m delighted that I was completely engrossed by it. Aside from Medair, I was also invested in several other characters in the story and I loved seeing her interact with them even as she tries to keep a distance.

Voice of the LostThere’s a whole lot of history and political intrigue intertwined with the story, partly because of the invasion centuries ago, and also because of the alliances of the various governing bodies around the region. I enjoyed these aspects and how magic was also involved in all of it. I like that there weren’t any lengthy explanations on how the magic works but it never got confusing for me. I felt that it was seamlessly woven into the story. I believe that this review wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t talk about the romance in these two books. While I could see it coming, it was how the characters got there that mattered. In keeping with her personality and the situation she’s in, Medair doesn’t take her attraction to a certain someone lightly. As a result, there’s tension and ambiguity. I really had no idea how things would unfold between them. Andrea K. Höst has consistently surprised me with how she builds and develops relationships in her books. While I wasn’t exactly able to predict how things would end, I can say that there was a nice build up and I couldn’t see Medair’s story ending any other way. Similar to the Touchstone trilogy, I can see the Medair duology will be a very good reread. I look forward to finding the time for it. In the meantime, I need to work on convincing more readers to pick up her books because I seriously find it surprising that they’re not as well-known as they should be. I had a book hangover after reading these two books and the only solution I could think of was to start on another Andrea K. Höst title.

Other reviews:
Me and My Books


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Want Books: Champion of the Rose

Want Books? is a weekly meme hosted here at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now. Everyone is free to join, just grab the image above. Leave a comment with a link to your post so I can do a roundup with each post.

I loved both the Touchstone trilogy and And All the Stars by Andrea K. Höst so I want to devour the rest of her books. I started reading her Medair duology this weekend because I wanted to be distracted by a good read. I’m about halfway through and I find Medair just as absorbing as her other books. I have a feeling I will want to dive into the rest of the novels that she’s written before the year is out. Next on my wishlist is Champion of the Rose.

Champion of the RoseHere’s the summary from Goodreads:

Soren Armitage is an anachronism. Proclaimed Rathen Champion by the Rathen Rose, intended to support the rule of a Rathen King or Queen.

But there are no Rathens.

Resigned to symbolising only Darest’s faded glories, Soren is not prepared for the sudden appearance of a Rathen. Now she must find and support the heir despite the machinations of the kingdom’s regent, sylvan curses, and the strange behaviour of once-dormant protective enchantments. While the odds seem stacked against her, Soren is determined to do her best to live up to the name of Rathen Champion. But what is she to do when it seems that there is something very wrong with her Rathen? Can she trust the person she is meant to protect?

What about you, what book is at the top of your wishlist? Have you recently come across an author you just want to glom into?


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Want Books: You Had Me at Hello

Want Books? is a weekly meme hosted here at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now. Everyone is free to join, just grab the image above. Leave a comment with a link to your post so I can do a roundup with each post.

Mhairi McFarlane's books

I first found out about You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane from Nomes’ Faves of 2013 list. I’m always curious whenever a friend recommends a new-to-me chick lit author. I like the typography in the book cover and the premise seems interesting. I saw it in the bookstore yesterday but I resisted getting a copy even though there was an ongoing sale and I could get it for 20% off (you should all congratulate me for my restraint). I’m in the process of packing because I’m moving to a different flat soon – so I’m putting off buying physical copies of books until I’ve moved. Today, I just finished packing two suitcases full of books. I shouldn’t be surprised that I have that many books here with me even though I’ve been in Singapore less than two years, right?

You Had Me at HelloAnyway, here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Rachel and Ben. Ben and Rachel. It was them against the world. Until it all fell apart.

It’s been a decade since they last spoke, but when Rachel bumps into Ben one rainy day, the years melt away.

From the moment they met they’d been a gang of two; partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on. Ben is married. Rachel is definitely not. In fact, the men in her life make her want to take holy orders…

Yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she’s never been able to mend.

What about you, what book is at the top of your wishlist? Did you add any books on your wishlist after seeing them on another blogger’s best/faves of 2013 list?


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Want Books: Lhind the Thief

Want Books? is a weekly meme hosted here at Chachic’s Book Nook and features released books that you want but you can’t have for some reason. It can be because it’s not available in your country, in your library or you don’t have the money for it right now. Everyone is free to join, just grab the image above. Leave a comment with a link to your post so I can do a roundup with each post.

Sherwood Smith is one of my favorite fantasy authors. I recently found out about Lhind the Thief, which was released last year. It seems like the kind of epic fantasy that I enjoy reading, with a thieving heroine as an added bonus. I’m always curious about thieves in fiction. I still have so many books on my TBR pile so I can’t justify buying Lhind the Thief at the moment, but I will definitely grab a copy when I feel like I’m in the mood for something just like this.

Lhind the ThiefHere’s the summary from Goodreads:

Lhind has been on the run all her life.

Stealing what she needs, using magic for disguise, she never stays anywhere long. Lhind even has secrets from herself, for she has few memories, and those are troubling.

But life is good until she gets caught by Rajanas the warrior-prince, Thianra the bard, and Hlanan the scribe. And that’s when adventure begins, because someone very powerful wants them all dead.

As they evade pursuit and work to uncover their enemies, Lhind struggles with the invisible bonds of friendship and trust, while Hlanan begins uncovering her secrets one by one.

Then she finds that he has secrets, too.

What about you, what book is at the top of your wishlist?

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