Chachic's Book Nook


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Authors I Should Read

Authors to read

I wanted to participate in last Tuesday’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Brooke and the Bookish) with the topic of “Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling Me That I MUST Read” but unfortunately, I missed it. I fell asleep earlier than usual that night instead of working on a blog post. But I really like the topic so I wanted to do a spin off. Instead of books, I wanted to talk about authors that have been broadly and specifically recommended for me.

Mary Renault – This particular author was brought to my attention when Elizabeth Wein recommended it for Megan Whalen Turner (MWT) fans in her guest post for Queen’s Thief Week. I have copies of both The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea in my TBR pile.

Dorothy Sayers – Here’s another author who has been recommended several times for MWT fans, especially the books about Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. I’ve read Strong Poison but it didn’t have that much of an impact with him. I do have copies of Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night and Busman’s Honeymoon and I just need to find time to read them.

Connie Willis – I can’t even remember how many people have recommended this author’s time travel books. I’ve had a copy of To Say Nothing of the Dog for a while not but I heard that it would be better to start with the duology Blackout and All Clear.

Simmone Howell – I haven’t read any of this author’s books but I’ve heard that Girl Defective is an amazing Aussie YA novel so I got a copy of it late last year when a friend passed by Singapore from Australia.

Guy Gavriel Kay – So many fantasy fans have recommended this author’s work and I still haven’t read any of his books. I have copies of Tigana and the first two Fionavar books but just haven’t been in the mood for them. Especially Tigana, which is such a doorstopper.

Susanna Kearsley – I’ve seen other bloggers give positive reviews for this author’s books and that has made me curious. My friedn Heidi of Bunbury in the Stacks very kindly sent me a signed copy of The Winter Sea so I can start with that.

Genevieve Valentine – I’ve seen several bloggers (such as Ana of The Book Smugglers and Maureen of By Singing Light) rave about The Girls at the Kingfisher Club on Twitter so I’m very curious about it.

Virginia Kantra – I know my good friend Brandy of Random Musings of a Bibliophile loves Virginia Kantra’s books (which has been recommended by our favorite author Laura Florand). I grabbed a copy of Carolina Man back when it was on sale and it’s just waiting in my Kindle.

Kelly Hunter – Another Laura Florand recommendation! She mentioned that Kelly Hunter is a romance author who has written books with great dialogue, set in Singapore and Hong Kong. She recommended that I start with Wife for a Week, which is the first in a series about the Bennett family. Li of Me and My Books seconded the recommendation when I mentioned it on Twitter.

Joann Sfar – This is actually a bit funny since I found out about this graphic novel author through Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (which I still need to review). The two MCs are fans of his work and that made me curious. I’ve checked in a bookstore here and his books aren’t available in Singapore.

I hope I’ll be able to put a dent on this list before the year ends. I’ll keep the rest of you posted. Care to share authors who would be included in your must read/highly recommended list?


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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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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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Women in SF&F Month Guest Post

I’m baaack from my vacation! But I also went straight back to work, which is why I haven’t had the chance to update the blog. I had an amazing time in Europe and would love to talk more about my experience once things have calmed down over here. In the meantime, I wanted to let you all know that I have a guest post for Women in Sci-Fi and Fantasy Month over at the Fantasy Cafe. My friend Kristen has organized a month-long celebration of women in speculative fiction.

SFF Women

I had a hard time deciding what to write about and you can drop by Fantasy Cafe to see what was the topic that I finally chose. I was telling Kristen that I was amazed at the amount of work that must go into organizing a month-long blog event (I’ve only been able to come up with week-long events) so it would be great if all of you can give her Women in SF&F blog event some love. :)


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I’m Off to Experience Life as a Laura Florand Heroine

Eiffel at Night

Photo from my friend who was in Paris recently.

Yes, I am going to the city of the Amour et Chocolat novels, Anna and the French Kiss and Just One Day! I’ve always dreamed of going to Paris and I still can’t believe that I will be able to do so this coming weekend. This is going to be my first time in Europe! I’m flying from Singapore (with a stopover in Dubai) and I’m meeting friends who will be flying from Manila. I’m leaving tonight and I’ll be back on the 27th. We will be going to Paris, Barcelona, Aix en Provence and Milan. It’s taken us months to plan for this trip, what with the visa application and everything else. I know that it’s a once in a lifetime kind of experience (although of course, keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to come back to Europe and hopefully visit other countries) so I am super excited for this trip.

I’m writing this post to let you all know why you wouldn’t be seeing any new posts on the blog in the coming two weeks. I’ll post an update about the trip (including pictures) when I get back. I will be bringing my Kindle with me because I’ll probably be able to do a lot of reading while waiting in airports and train stations and in the flights and train rides. However, I won’t be able to blog since I’m not bringing a laptop with me.

See you all when I get back!


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March 2014 Recap

I failed in writing reviews for any of the books that I read in March. I feel like I’m barely holding on to blogging nowadays because there just isn’t enough time to sit down, focus and write reviews. But like I keep saying, I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself because then it wouldn’t be fun anymore. I’m just grateful that I haven’t experienced a reading slump recently, although I’m still on the lookout for an amazing book (aren’t we always looking for that?). Anyway, here’s the list of the novels that I read this month:

Champion of the Rose by Andrea K. Host – I was on a high from reading Touchstone and Medair, which I both loved, and I wanted to read more of the author’s work. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as invested in Champion of the Rose as I would have liked.

Serendipity’s Tide by L. Shelby – This was sent to me as a gift by Rachel Neumeier, she said that she thinks it’s something that I would enjoy reading. It’s an adventure story with a strong romance thread. While it’s a good read, I felt that it lacked emotional depth. Even though it had young adult characters and some mature themes, I felt that it read like a middle grade novel.

Live by Mary Ann Rivers – I LOVE Mary Ann Rivers’ writing so I knew Live would be lovely and I was right. This is her first full-length novel and while it is contemporary romance, I thought it was great that the story was also about family and home. How the people around us and the place we grow up shape us as adults. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to write a review of this.

Entreat Me by Grace Draven – This was a novel recommended by @katjexia on Twitter as something that reminded her of Ilona Andrews writing. I was sold the moment I saw that it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Sadly, I didn’t like it as much as I was expecting. I tried a Kindle sample before buying and I liked it well enough to continue but then I found the pace slow.

Divergent by Veronica Roth – I read this because my friend and I had tickets to watch the movie last Saturday. Divergent generated a lot of buzz when it first came out, which was why I didn’t prioritize reading it. This is another title that I didn’t love, I’ll try to come up with a review for both the book and the movie soon.

I also reread a couple of titles in March because writing this Top Ten Tuesday list about sci-fi books made me want to reread Ilona Andrews’ novellas and short stories:

Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews
Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews
Days of Swine and Roses by Ilona Andrews
A Mere Formality by Ilona Andrews

I would love to read more novellas set in the Kinsmen world but it looks like the authors have started another series that has similar worldbuilding. Find out more about it on their blog. I can’t wait to read that!

I seem to be having better luck with rereads than with new-to-me titles. April is going to be another busy month because I will be traveling out of the country for two weeks. Really excited for that! I plan to post updates and pictures when I get back. I have no idea how many posts I’ll be able to put up because of this. Will definitely do a lot of reading while waiting in airports and train stations though. How about the rest of you, what were the books that you read in March? Any favorites?

Recap of previous months:
January
February


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I Need Some Wow Books – Part II

Lately, I’ve been feeling the need to read more books that will leave me feeling like this:

Purpose

Image from Anything about nothing

What are some of the books that have made you feel like that? Books that have left you with a book hangover? I asked the same question on Twitter the other day and got a couple of suggestions but I wanted to do it on the blog as well so it would be easier for me to keep track of recommendations. If you’re wondering about the title of the post, I’m just recycling something that I found in an old post. I was also asking for recs back then. I’m always curious about other readers’ favorite books, especially when I feel like we have the same taste in books. What are some of the titles that you’ve recently loved? Is there a particular novel that you’ve been dying to recommend? Based on what you’ve seen me read and review, do you have a book that you think will work really well for me? I’m open to suggestions! I didn’t even get to read this weekend because I was busy meeting up with friends, catching up on chores and I also couldn’t decide what to read next.

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