Chachic's Book Nook


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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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Making the Move – Part II

When I first moved to Singapore a little less than two years ago, I did a write-up of the bookish aspects of the move. I’ve moved to two different flats since then, but there weren’t big changes involved in those so I didn’t feel the need to give an update. This time it’s different and you’ll find out why in a bit. Just to give an overview, property is insanely expensive in Singapore so rent is my biggest expense per month. Studio or one bedroom flats aren’t very common here so people tend to share flats. Ever since I moved here, I’ve always rented one furnished room, which includes a bed, a closet, a desk and a chair. The first two flats that I stayed at had three bedrooms while my current one has four.

My first problem in moving was how to transfer the books from one place to another. I thought I didn’t have that much stuff so I decided not to hire movers and just put all my things in a cab on moving day. I thought boxes filled with books would be too heavy for me to carry so I put my books in suitcases instead. I managed to fill one large and one small suitcase with books. I was a little surprised that I had so many books because I haven’t been buying a lot of paperbacks or hardcovers since I moved to Singapore because books are pretty expensive over here. The books that I have here are mostly books from Manila, my US trip last year and some that I’ve received as gifts or review copies.

I was pretty lucky that the previous two rooms that I rented before had bookshelves, so I didn’t have to worry about where to put my books. However, the room that I moved into doesn’t have bookshelves. I thought about just getting clear plastic boxes to store my books in but when I got to Ikea, I found out that they have some affordable bookshelves. Getting several plastic boxes would have cost just as much as one bookshelf so I decided to just get the latter. I ended up buying Trysil drawers (to keep sheets, towels and clothes in because surprise, surprise, I didn’t have enough closet space) and a Billy bookshelf. That was the first time I’ve ever bought furniture from Ikea because I have always been worried about accumulating too much stuff that it would be difficult for me to move around in Singapore or to move back to Manila. But hey, I needed storage space so I went ahead and bought these. Although I had minor difficulties in putting these furniture pieces together, I still thought it was a lot of fun:

Moving - Trysil and Billy

I was pretty happy when I was finally able to unpack my books:

Moving - suitcase to shelf

I chose just the right size of Billy for the number of books that I have:

Moving - filled bookshelf

Aside from the Ikea stuff, I am now also the proud owner of a used armchair. I’ve always wanted to have my own armchair because it seemed perfect for reading. So when I found out that the owners of the flat were selling a one-year-old armchair for less than half the original price, I went ahead and grabbed it. Ha, even if it’s cheaper than a brand-new one, this armchair cost more than both the bookshelf and the drawers. I’m making good use of it though – I’ve curled up to read on it and I’ve also fallen asleep while reclining.

Moving - armchair

As you can see, my reading corner gets a lot of natural light during the day. But on weekdays, I do most of my reading at night and the light in my room isn’t bright enough for reading. I bought a book light but it gives up on me after 30 minutes or so. I thought about buying a stand lamp but I think they’re quite pricey at around SGD60 (USD47, PHP2131). This is why I’ve considered buying a Kindle Paperwhite even though my Kindle Touch is still in good shape. I’ve heard rumors that there will be a new version of the Paperwhite that will be released this year so I’m thinking of just waiting for that. In the meantime, I’ll make do with the desk lamp that I have (I have to prop it up on my lap when I’m reading on the armchair).

Quite a lot of changes from my previous room with the light situation as the only big problem. I’m open to suggestions if any of you can think of a solution. Also feel free to share your own stories about moving from one place to another and how that affected your life as a reader or book blogger.

______________

Edited to add:

I forgot to include pictures of what the wall above my bookshelf and desk looks like. I taped some scrapbook sheets, gift wrappers and a calender of The Hobbit, which I received as a gift last year:

Moving - scrapbook sheet walls

Here’s a closer look at the scrapbook sheets because some of them are book-themed:

Moving - scrapbook sheets 1

Moving - scrapbook sheet 2

I love this clever play on periodic table elements.

I love this clever play on periodic table elements.

Last but not the least, here’s The Hobbit calendar:

Moving - The Hobbit calendar


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Andrea K. Höst Week

And All the StarsTouchstone TrilogySilence of MedairVoice of the LostChampion of the Rose

Andrea K. Höst is one of my favorite recent discoveries. I’ve loved her novels And All the Stars, the Touchstone trilogy and the Medair duology. When Rachel Neumeier informed me that she will be hosting an Andrea K. Höst week, I jumped at the chance to contribute. I think it’s awesome that Rachel is hosting this blog event because I would love for more readers to discover Andrea’s novels. Today, I have a guest post about thoroughly enjoying the romance in Andrea’s books. I have kept my guest post free of spoilers, so go ahead and check it out even if you haven’t read any of the titles mentioned. I hope it helps convince more of you to give them a try.


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February 2014 Recap

March has started! One of my favorite months in the year. Time to look back on the month that has passed by. I was only able to publish two reviews in February that’s better than nothing, right? I’ve put together a recap for all of the books that I read, with brief comments and links to ones that I have reviews for:

The Touchstone Trilogy by Andrea K. Höst – Review can be found here.

Staking His Claim by Tessa Bailey – A bit darker that Tessa Bailey’s earlier books but I still finished it fairly quickly. She’s an auto-read romance author for me.

The Diviners by Libba Bray – Read this one for our YAckers discussion. I started out liking it but never connected with any of the characters and felt that the various plot threads weren’t successfully brought together so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I was expecting.

The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand – A new Laura Florand novel always feels like a treat. I love reading her books and this was no exception. I really liked both Patrick and Sarah and I found their romance sweet.

Medair duology by Andrea K. Höst – Review can be found here.

The Champion of the Rose by Andrea K. Höst – I didn’t enjoy reading this as much as the other Andrea K. Höst novels that I’ve read. I found the world and the magic in it intriguing but there were some aspects of the story that bothered me and I couldn’t get past them to fully appreciate the book. Hopefully I’ll like the sequel more.

I read more books back in January partly because February is shorter and also because I had a really busy month (which included a work trip to Kuala Lumpur and packing and moving to a different flat). I also posted a list of my favorite fictional couples from books I’ve read in the past year. What about the rest of you, what were the books that you’ve read in February? Any particular title that stood out for you?

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