Chachic's Book Nook


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Shoot That Book: Lersta Reading Lamp

Shoot That Book combines my passion for books and my tendency to become trigger happy with a camera. My lack of photography skills is compensated by my enthusiasm. Basically, I like taking pictures of books.

A couple of months ago, I moved to the room that I’m currently renting and wrote about the aspects of the move related to reading and blogging. In that post, I mentioned that I couldn’t really read in the reading corner where my armchair is placed because there’s not enough light at night. I had a desk lamp that I used to balance on the armrest but even that has given up on me (the switch is broken). I also mentioned that I thought about buying a stand lamp but the ones that I saw in Ikea were too expensive. The other day, my friend mentioned that she saw a lamp that was only SGD19.90 and I wanted to get one as soon as I heard about it. So today, I dropped by Ikea after work and got a Lersta reading lamp.

Ikea Lersta and bulb

This is the cheapest stand lamp that is available in Ikea. All the other ones are a little pricey. Now I’m berating myself for not searching through the online store to check if there are cheaper alternatives to the ones I saw in the physical store. This lamp is just a bit more expensive than the book light that I bought a few months ago (which has also died and I didn’t bother replacing the batteries since it wasn’t any good)! Anyway, just wanted to give a quick update because I’m happy that I now have a bright and shiny lamp in my reading corner:

Ikea Lersta lamp with armchair

Now I just need to decide what to read next…


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One Less Lonely Person

blogging August 15 2014

The other day, my friends and I were talking about how it’s very difficult to adjust to living in another country, away from family and friends. Most Filipinos have very strong ties to family and friends so when we do move abroad to explore better job opportunities, more often than not, we get lonely and homesick. At least it’s easier to keep in touch because of messaging and calling apps nowadays. But we also talked about how important it is to have hobbies to keep ourselves busy. Of course, I brought up reading and blogging. My friends said it’s good that I’m able to do something that I love and I absolutely agree. I would be pretty lonely if I didn’t have reading and blogging to keep me busy.

In a blog post three years ago, I discussed how much reading is a part of my life so I won’t expand on that. I have also talked about how I love the book blogging community, how I think people are so warm and friendly and I feel like I’ve made some good friends over the years. I don’t mind talking about it again though. It may not seem obvious at this point in time because I’m not blogging as often as I want to and I don’t get as many comments as before but I still feel like reading and blogging are a big part of my life. It’s more than a hobby, in terms of how much thought, time and effort I put into it. It’s more like a lifestyle because I’m in constant conversation (through comments, Twitter, emails or even messaging apps) with blog friends about books. It’s not even as lucrative as other forms of blogging, like fashion or food where other bloggers can get sponsors through ads, but we keep doing it out of love for the written word.

Sometimes, my enthusiasm (or frustration) spills over to real life and I influence my friends to read the books that I love (or stay away from the ones I didn’t think were any good). I also have several friends who ask me for recommendations for themselves or for other people when they need ideas for giving books as gifts. My mom doesn’t really read my blog but it’s funny how she tells her friends that I’m a book blogger. There was also one time when I was telling her that I spend so much money buying books and she said that’s not really a bad thing, it’s better to spend money on books rather than harmful addictions.

I have to be honest and say that I really had a hard time adjusting to living in Singapore when I first moved two years ago. Actually, there are times when I feel like I’m working in Singapore but still living in Manila just because the latter is still home. But I’m very thankful with how reading and blogging has helped me. Reading affects my mood and I’m a lot happier when I just finished an amazing book. Same thing goes when something positive happens that is blog-related, like when I get a response from an author or when I win a giveaway. When I’ve had a bad day or when I’m worrying about something, I’ve said it before and I will keep saying it, I want to keep my blog a happy place. This is why I try to stay away from blog drama whenever possible. I’m an outgoing person but I also enjoy having alone time and I like how reading and blogging lets me do both. I can read by myself and then engage other readers in discussions whenever I feel like it. I can do that whenever and wherever I want to. Both are hobbies that have flexibility in that sense.

I just wanted to share these thoughts and also to thank everyone who has been part of my reading and blogging life so far. Maraming salamat!


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Interview at Pinay.com

Pinay.com is a website that focuses on Filipino women. They have a feature that highlights female Filipino bloggers all over the world. Here’s a brief description:

Blog Count is a series of conversations with Pinays all over the world. We like to share with your our conversations because we think these Pinays sparkle and shine.

I have an interview over there if anyone cares to drop by and find out more about my reading and blogging life.

Pinay feature


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July 2014 Recap

Fully Booked July 2014

I went home to Manila for a long weekend at the end of the July. This was a shot taken in Fully Booked’s Fort branch.

Hello everyone! I recently read one of my most anticipated titles this year – Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews, the newest installment in the Kate Daniels series – and I’ve been meaning to write a review but haven’t found the time to sit down and work on it. I know I’ll get to it eventually because I loved the book and I want to promote the series but in the meantime, here’s a recap of books I read last month:

The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty – I liked this sequel about as much as I liked the first book. Found the first half a bit slow but the pace picked up towards the end. I’m still not in love with the series but curious about the final book.

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord – One of my favorite books this year. Review can be found here.

Wildlife by Fiona Wood – Another favorite for this year. Review can be found here.

Laura’s Wolf by Lia Silver – Some thoughts I posted on Goodreads: Recommended by Sherwood Smith and Estara. I wasn’t blown away by Laura’s Wolf but it’s an interesting read. I liked both Laura, the ex-con artist, and Roy, the veteran Marine. I thought they were a good match. There’s a lot of action in the book but a huge chunk of it also focuses on PTSD and how it affected Laura and Roy and their relationship. I would have liked for the book to have included more worldbuilding when it comes to the werewolf lore, like more history about werewolves in this world and how they came to be. Maybe the next book will have more about that? I’m curious about it because of I want to know more about Roy’s Filipino American best friend DJ and his family.

Prisoner by Lia Silver – Some thoughts I posted on Goodreads: I liked that DJ is Filipino-American – I found it hilarious that his nickname is Lechon and he listens to Pinoy hiphop. I did find it a bit weird that he calls his mom “Nanay” but he doesn’t call his grandma “Lola”. It was interesting how different DJ’s personality is from his best friend Roy. He’s much more outgoing and playful than Roy. It was also interesting to see a different perspective to the same war experiences that Roy had in the first book. DJ is the perfect match for Echo, who has tried to distance herself from emotions after losing her sisters. It was fun to watch them get to know each other and form a friendship. For some reason, I thought this was going to be a standalone and was surprised to find out that it’s the first book in DJ and Echo’s trilogy.

Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren – The premise of this looked so interesting. A guy and a girl meet in Vegas and they hook up. The girl follows the guy to Paris for some soul searching. I felt like this book had so much potential but unfortunately, I didn’t think it was executed well.

The Real Score by Kesh Tanglao – Some thoughts I posted on Goodreads: Very easy to read and fall into (finished it in a span of one day) but a little too much angst for a best friend turned lovers story. I find it hard to believe that they’ve been best friends for several years without having a DTR (Define the Relationship) type of conversation. I’ve had that kind of talk with a few of my close guy friends over the years, like “Dude, you know I love you but not in THAT way.” or “My friends think we should date, we both know that will never happen.” or “I will smack some sense into you if you ever think you’ve fallen in love with me.” Also, I felt that I was being told about their friendship instead of being shown. Like the drunk calls and long-distance calls/text messages were just mentioned in passing instead of being actual scenes in the book. I would have been more convinced of their friendship if I saw more concrete examples of how it formed. I don’t know if the length is a factor for the Romance Class that produced this book, maybe it had to keep to a novella-length?

The Beacon at Alexandria by Gillian Bradshaw – This book came highly recommended by Rachel Neumeier (thanks again for sending me a copy, Rachel!) and it’s my first Gillian Bradshaw. It was a bit intense and serious in terms of political situations I’m not familiar with but I enjoyed reading it overall because I liked how Charis loved the art of healing and how determined she was to be a doctor. It’s also more believable for her to pass herself off as a eunuch rather than a man.

As a reading month, I think July started off really strong since I found two books to love – Open Road Summer and Wildlife. I’m keeping my fingers crossed I’ll discover some good ones this August. I also had a lot of fun organizing and hosting Amour et Florand, which was a celebration of Laura Florand’s lovely writing. For those of you who have read Laura’s books, I hope you enjoy the posts. And for those of you who haven’t had a chance to try her novels, I hope the event has convinced you to check them out!

Antoinette macarons

Of course I had to have macarons while Amour et Florand was running on the blog. These were from Antoinette, I really liked their early grey macaron.

That’s it for me this July. How about the rest of you, what are the books that you read last month? Any good ones that stood out?

Recap of previous months:
January
February
March
May
June


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June 2014 Recap

June has ended and with it, the first half of the year. I feel like that went by pretty quickly? Probably because I had a couple of trips earlier this year. I should do a mid-2014 recap and see which books have become favorites for this year. I’ll think about doing something like that. For now, here are the books that I read in the past month:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore – This was a reread for a YAckers discussion. It’s such a comfort to reread old favorites. Graceling was just as good as I remembered. I ♥ Katsa and Po.

Baiting the Maid of Honor by Tessa Bailey – I’ve become a Tessa Bailey fangirl and I enjoy her books so much that she’s become an auto-buy author for me. Like with all of her books, I finished Baiting the Maid of Honor pretty quickly and I enjoyed reading it but I don’t think it’s as good as her Line of Duty books. Looking forward to seeing what she publishes next!

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart – Review can be found here.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski – Review can be found here.

Summer Rain is a romance anthology. I bought it because it has short stories by Ruthie Knox and Mary Ann Rivers. I’ve read and enjoyed both of those short stories and a couple of others in the book but I wasn’t able to finish the whole thing.

Killer Instincts series by Elle Kennedy (Midnight Rescue, Midnight Alias, Midnight Games, Midnight Pursuits) – Seems like I’ve been reading more and more romances lately. I can’t help it, they’re just so easy to get into. I liked the premise for this Elle Kennedy series because the main characters are assassins and mercenaries. It’s funny because I didn’t love any of the books on their own but I realized that the series is a much stronger read when the books are read all together. I’m now invested enough in the characters that I’m really, really curious about the next book which will be released later this year.

Saga Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples – I follow only two graphic novel series: Saga and Trese and I read them when I feel like taking a break from full-length novels. Saga is such a good series with excellent writing and great artwork. I’m not a fan of all the gore/death/injuries in the series but I will keep reading because I want to know what happens to the characters.

Nowadays, I don’t feel like I’m not super behind on blogging anymore because I get to review some, if not all, of the books that I read. I would still like to post more often that I do now but I don’t want to sacrifice my reading time for it. Which is why I do these recaps, to keep track of the books that I’ve read even if I haven’t written reviews for them. I’m hoping that July will be an amazing month in terms of books, I have a few in my TBR pile that I’m really excited about (to the point where it’s difficult to choose what to read next). Also, I will be hosting Amour et Florand at the end of the month so watch out for that.

What about the rest of you, what are the books that you read last June? Any titles that became favorites?

Recap of previous months:
January
February
March
May


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Late Night Reading

I do most of my reading at night. I used to have a longer commute to work and I got to read on the train then. But since I moved, there are only a few stops from my current flat to the office so I don’t get to read while traveling. I barely get enough time to check messages on my phone during that train ride. There are times when I could squeeze in some reading time while having dinner but I read mostly after dinner and before going to bed. This is also the time when I try to do anything else that I need to do – like blogging or catching up on chores – but I tend to ignore those other tasks when I’m immersed in a good book. And when I’m in the middle of a wonderful book, I’m also willing to give up sleep and stay up late to have more reading time or to finish the book.

Kindle on bed

However, there are also instances when I stay up late to read not because the book is good but because I just want to get it over with. It may be because something has thrown me out of the story – an annoying character or a frustrating situation – and I just want to find out what happens in the end. Very rarely do I DNF a book. Plus there are times when I would rather not DNF because even if I’m not really enjoying the book, I still want to know how it ends. But then when I stay up then the next day rolls around and the lack of sleep affects me, I get irritated with myself for wasting precious sleeping time over a book that is less than amazing. The point of this random rambling is to ask the rest of you if you also encounter this situation. Does staying up late to read or finish a book always mean that you’re reading a good book? Or do you also stay up late just to get things over with, like I do? I’m curious to hear what you guys think.


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Happy Independence Day, Philippines

June 12 is the Independence Day of the Philippines and there are some things going around the interwebs related to this. On Twitter, Paolo Chikiamco is hosting the #RP612fic hashtag. Learn more about it from Paolo’s intro post. Alexa and Rachel have come up with Filipino-themed posts on their blogs under the blog event Mabuhay. I contributed to one of them, where they asked Filipino book bloggers what we want to see more in literature. Please drop by and take a look at what everyone had to say.

lomo intramuros

A shot of Intramuros, an old district in Manila

Since I have Filipino literature in mind, I was thinking of what books I would write if I ever felt the urge to do so. I haven’t really considered writing a novel or even a novella but I think it’s only natural that if I do write a book, it would be something similar to what I enjoy reading. That would include either YA or adult literature in genres like contemporary or realistic fiction, romance, epic fantasy which has been influenced by the Filipino culture or urban fantasy which is set in the Philippines. It would be interesting to talk about my own experiences like moving to a different country for a better work opportunity because that’s something that’s fairly common amongst Filipinos. My high school and college experiences would be outdated by now but it would be fun to talk about the Philippine school system and what are the norms in schools. Maybe highlight the fact that English is the medium of instruction in our schools. If I did write realistic fiction, I would definitely want to have a Filipino reader as a character – someone who loves books just as much as I do. It would also be a good idea to write a historical fantasy or alternate history novel set during the pre-colonization era with magic and political intrigue – I believe that this is something that would involve a ton of research.

In Anawangin, a cove in Zambales

In Anawangin, a cove in Zambales

Like I said, I don’t really plan on writing anything at the moment so I’m basically just thinking out loud here. To my fellow Filipino readers, what themes are you interested in writing about if you had the capacity to do so? Fo everyone else, would you be interested in reading books similar to what I described above?


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Book to Movie: The Fault in Our Stars

TFiOS movie poster

TFiOS movie poster at The Cathay

I was pleasantly surprised when I checked movie schedules last Friday and saw that some cinemas had limited show times for The Fault in Our Stars. I found that surprising since movies here in Singapore usually do not have the same release date as the US. Since everyone else was talking about the film on Twitter, I wanted to grab the chance to see it as soon as I can. I watched the movie with a couple of friends on Saturday afternoon.

I thought it was a bit weird that Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort were cast as brother and sister in the movie adaptation of Divergent and then they’re cast as a couple in TFiOS. It didn’t bother me that much since Ansel didn’t have that big of a role in Divergent and Shailene really looks different in both films. After watching TFiOS, I can say that both actors did a good job in portraying the two main characters Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters. They were believable as teens who have both led difficult lives because of cancer.

I really enjoyed watching the movie and I think it’s a good adaptation of the book. More often than not, the book is better than the movie version but in TFiOS’ case, I enjoyed reading/watching both. I’m not sure how involved John Green was in the production of the film but based on his social media posts, it seemed like he was there throughout the whole process. He was even supposed to have a cameo but the scene got deleted. Maybe the author’s constant presence had something to do with how well the film represented his book. All of the aspects of the book that I liked were also present in the movie, such as the humor, the smart conversations, the slow burn romance that started with friendship and a mutual love for a certain book. I’ve never been to Amsterdam so I loved the scenes that were filmed there, more so because the trip to Europe is a big deal for the two main characters. It’s a once in a lifetime kind of trip for the two of them.

I like it when there’s enough suspension of disbelief or I’m invested enough in the characters while reading a book or watching a movie that I get emotional. I cried when I read TFiOS back in 2011 and I got choked up and teary-eyed while watching the movie last weekend. I also smiled and laughed at certain scenes.

After seeing the movie, I have friends who asked whether I enjoyed watching it and would I recommend that they see it. I told them that yes, I thought it was a good movie but I recommend reading the book first. I do think TFiOS movie can stand well enough on its own but I think it’s more enjoyable if the moviegoer has read the book. It’s a quiet sort of movie that focuses on human interactions and emotions and I believe I was able to appreciate it because I’ve read the book and I was more familiar with the characters. Also, I have this preference of reading a book before watching a movie adaptation of it because I don’t want my reading experience to be influenced by the movie. But maybe that’s just my own thing.

What about the rest of you, did you go and watch TFiOS last weekend? What did you think of it?

TFiOS display at Kinokuniya

TFiOS display at Kinokuniya


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May 2014 Recap

I didn’t have an April 2014 update because I was traveling and only managed to finish one book, Thorn, that month. I decided to write a review instead of making an update. I also reread A Rose in Winter by Laura Florand and was finally able to review it – it was one of my Christmas reads last year but I didn’t get to review it. Yay for posting more reviews! They may be shorter than some of the ones I used to write but hey, at least I’m no longer in a slump.

Moving on to my May 2014 update, these were titles that I read last month:

It Happened One Wedding by Julie James – Really enjoyed this one, review in draft mode.

Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane – Gritty, dark and bleak, this really isn’t my cup of tea but I wanted to give the series a try since my friend Maggie has been raving about it. I heard that the second book is a lot better than the first so I’ll probably try reading that as well to see if I want to keep going with the series.

Sun-Kissed by Laura Florand – I’m a Laura Florand fangirl so it’s not surprising that I really liked this even if it has a different feel from her other books – it features an older couple and it’s set in the States instead of France. I’m thinking of coming up with a post about this and Snow-Kissed, we’ll see how it goes.

Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart – Retro Friday review can be found here.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – Review can be found here.

Dare to Resist by Laura Kaye – I read this prelude to the Wedding Dare series which includes Baiting The Maid Of Honor by Tessa Bailey. Quick and fun read, I liked that the heroine is a computer whiz and that she works in the same field as the hero. Also liked how the heroine’s favorite book plays an important role in the story.

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty – Review in draft mode. I’m thinking of reviewing it together with the sequel, which I haven’t finished reading.

I think it was a pretty good month in terms of books read and reviews written. I hope it won’t take me months to finish the reviews that I have in draft mode. At least now that I’ve mentioned them here, there would be more of a push for me to finish them.

Last week, I also participated in ArmchairBEA 2014 and had a great time writing posts for the daily topics, posting Instagram pictures and commenting on posts. Here’s a wrap-up of what I did for the blog event, in case you want to check it out.

Recap of previous months:
January
February
March


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Mary Stewart

This morning I found out that author Mary Stewart has passed away. She was 97 years old. Announcement and obituary from The Guardian can be viewed here and here. A snippet from the obituary:

Stewart introduced a different kind of heroine for a newly emerging womanhood. It was her “anti-namby-pamby” reaction, as she called it, to the “silly heroine” of the conventional contemporary thriller who “is told not to open the door to anybody and immediately opens it to the first person who comes along”. Instead, Stewart’s stories were narrated by poised, smart, highly educated young women who drove fast cars and knew how to fight their corner. Also tender-hearted and with a strong moral sense, they spoke, one felt, with the voice of their creator. Her writing must have provided a natural form of expression for a person not given to self-revelation.

Loved that story about how she met her husband and how they got married three months later. It’s heartbreaking that she badly wanted to have kids and yet she couldn’t. I found it interesting that that’s what led her to write novels. While I discovered Mary Stewart’s books fairly recently (only a few years ago) and I’ve only read a handful of them, I wanted to write a post about her novels because I enjoyed reading them and I would like more readers to pick up her books.

STB Nine Coaches Waiting

I can still remember how I first discovered Mary Stewart. I was asking my book pusher friend Angie for recommendations that were similar to Eva Ibbotson’s writing because I love her books. Angie then mentioned Mary Stewart and recommended that I can start with Nine Coaches Waiting. I grabbed a copy and read it as soon as I could. I was charmed by this Jane Eyre-esque book and I knew it wouldn’t be the last Mary Stewart novel that I would read. I have read some of her other titles since then and I keep meaning to read more of them. One thing that I really like about her romantic suspense books is that each is set in a different town or city and she does such a great job of describing the place. In this website that focuses on Mary Stewart, it is mentioned that she and her husband “traveled extensively, and these trips provided inspiration for the spectacular and exotic settings that her novels are so famous for.” I’ve also heard good things about her Arthurian series, which I’m also planning to read. Mary Stewart is the kind of author that I wish I had known about sooner. Her novels would have probably ended up as old favorites if I discovered her when I was much younger. As it is, the best that I can do now is to catch up on reading her books and try to spread the word about them. I’m thinking of reading her first novel, Madam, Will You Talk?, soon since it’s set in the South of France and I would love to read more about that region. Please feel free to recommend and talk about your favorite Mary Stewart titles, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

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