Chachic's Book Nook


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Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair

I’ve been meaning to try Linnea Sinclair’s books for a while now and I’m glad I was finally able to do so when I picked up Games of Command. There was a time when I felt that sci-fi isn’t really my thing because the worldbuilding tends to be more complicated that what I usually like. But then I loved Silent Blade and Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews and the Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Host so I’ve been wanting to explore the genre a bit more. Linnea Sinclair has been recommended by blogging buddies Angie and Janice and I’ve had her books on my TBR pile for ages. I was recently in the mood for sci-fi so I ignored the other three books I was in the middle of, bought the Kindle edition of Games of Command and promptly got sucked in by Linnea Sinclair’s writing.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Games of CommandThe universe isn’t what it used to be. With the new Alliance between the Triad and the United Coalition, Captain Tasha “Sass” Sebastian finds herself serving under her former nemesis, biocybe Admiral Branden Kel-Paten – and doing her best to hide a deadly past. But when an injured mercenary winds up in their ship’s sick bay–and in the hands of her best friend, Dr. Eden Fynn–Sass’s efforts may be wasted.

Wanted rebel Jace Serafino has information that could expose all of Sass’s secrets, tear the fragile Alliance apart – and end Sass’s career if Kel-Paten discovers them. But the biocybe has something to hide as well, something once thought impossible for his kind to possess: feelings… for Sass. Soon it’s clear that their prisoner could bring down everything they once believed was worth dying for – and everything they now have to live for.

I had a lot of fun reading Games of Command and I thought it was a good introduction to Linnea Sinclair’s work. I was so absorbed that I stayed up late to finish it. I have to admit that some of the terms and situations went over my head but I was fine with that, I felt like it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the novel. I think that will always be the case for me whenever I read certain space opera novels. I would rather go with the flow of the book instead of spend too much time trying to figure out the science and the mechanics of that particular book.

Going into this novel, I knew that it was romantic sci-fi so I was looking forward to the romance and I wasn’t disappointed. The book focused on two couples but I liked the main story arc, between Sass and Branden, more than the secondary one. Admiral Kel-Paten is a biocybe, half-human and half-machine, and he’s not supposed to develop romantic feelings. But due to some quirk, he fell in love with Sass even though they’re on opposite sides of a galactic war. When truce comes in the form of an alliance, Branden fights to have Sass by his side as the captain of his flagship. I liked seeing these two interact with each other and I enjoyed seeing the story unfold from their points of view. Branden is highly competent in his work but he’s pretty clueless when it comes to human emotions. It was interesting to see his vulnerability and how he worked to build a relationship with Sass that goes beyond their professional connection. As for Sass, at first she was just concerned with keeping her secret past from Branden but then she grows to respect him during the months they work together. I found the slow burn romance between these two flawed characters sweet. Here’s a snippet that I really liked:

“When she saw the scars, she understood. They weren’t like Zanorian’s thin affectations. These were knotty, full of pain and bad memories. Unpleasant. Best kept hidden.

She understood that too. She had scars. But hers were inside, while his were on the outside.”

Games of Command is filled with action and adventure. I enjoyed the fast pace of the novel and have no complaints regarding the plot and character development. I just wish that it had an extended ending, I felt like the last scene of the book ended a bit abruptly and I wouldn’t have minded seeing more. I liked that Games of Command is a standalone novel and I feel like it’s a good introduction to Linnea Sinclair’s writing. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from her. Recommended for fans of romantic sci-fi or space opera.

Other reviews:
Angieville
Specfic Romantic


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Chocolate Book Meme

I love love LOVE chocolate. I’ve always been a fan of it. So I thought it was fun when Camille of Girl Meets Books tagged me for the chocolate meme. This meme mixes two of my favorite things: chocolate and books.

Aix-en-Provence - real chocolate

Slabs of chocolate in Real Chocolate, Aix-en-Provence

Dark Chocolate — A book that covers a dark topic (abuse, domestic violence, rape, loneliness, bullying, death, etc):
So many good ones to choose from! For contemporary, I’d go with Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, which is not an easy read because there’s so much pain and suffering for two generations of characters but it’s totally worth reading. For fantasy, I’d go with Daughter of the Forest and Son of the Shadows, both difficult reads but oh so rewarding.

White Chocolate — Your favorite light-hearted/humorous read:
Julie James’ novels are always light and fun reads. I feel like they’re the book version of chick flicks so I always enjoy reading them. My favorite is still Something About You.

Milk Chocolate — A book that has a lot of hype that you’re dying to read:
I’ve seen several bloggers raving about I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson so I’m really curious about it. I’m looking forward to its release day since I remember enjoying her debut novel. It doesn’t hurt that I think the book has a pretty cover.

Chocolate with a caramel center — Name a book that made you feel all gooey in the middle while you were reading it:
Books that make me feel all gooey are usually romances. I think Laura Florand’s books are a perfect choice for this category, especially since her Amour et Chocolat series focuses on chocolatiers and pastry chefs. Although I think I would have to change this category to premium chocolate ganache or truffle to satisfy her MCs (who tend to look down on mass-produced chocolate).

Wafer-free Kit-Kat — Name a book that surprised you lately:
I feel like I keep talking about them lately but I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I loved Andrea K. Host’s Touchstone trilogy and Medair duology. I knew I was going to enjoy them but I didn’t expect to get a book hangover after reading them.

Snickers — A book that you are going nuts about:
I think the last book that I loved was Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews, which is a fitting choice for this category since I’m crazy about the Kate Daniels series. It’s my favorite urban fantasy series.

Hot Chocolate with cream and marshmallows — What book would you turn to for a comfort read?
I consider most of the books in my list of favorites as comfort reads. I reread them based on how I’m feeling. Most recently, I’ve reread Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore (for book club discussions) and Silent Blade and Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews.

Box of chocolates — What series have you read that you feel has a wide variety and a little something for everyone
The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner! It has action, adventure, clever writing, wonderful characters and a complex, slow burn romance.

Swiss and Russian chocolates

Swiss and Russian chocolates from co-workers

I’m not going to tag anyone for this meme but share a link of your post if you’re doing this. :)


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Book to Movie: If I Stay

There was a lot of buzz leading up to the release of the If I Stay movie adaptation and I kept seeing posts about it all over various social media sites. I really enjoyed reading If I Stay and Where She Went a few years ago so I was curious about the movie but I was fine with waiting. It was released in Singapore in early September and I got to see it last Saturday. I wanted to share my thoughts about the film, mostly in relation to the book and how I felt while I was watching it.

If I Stay movie

With Gayle Forman as an executive producer of the film, If I Stay remained true to the book. Granted, it’s been some time since I read the book but all of the major scenes that I remembered seemed to be in the movie as well. I felt like the movie had the same bittersweet tone and feel as the book, where it lets you experience the emotional ups and downs with the characters. In terms of casting, I think the actors that they chose were a good fit for the roles. Whenever I read, I don’t really get into specifics of what the characters look like and I tend to focus on the emotions they feel instead. So I’m not very particular with appearances when it comes to casting choices. This is the first time I’ve seen a movie with either Chloe Moretz or Jamie Blackley so I have no preconceived notions about them. Overall, I think Chloe did a good job of portraying Mia although I felt that she wasn’t as strong as I would have liked her to be in her emotionally heavy scenes. In some of her interviews, she mentioned that she’s a fan of the book and I think that’s a plus point for her. Jamie was also a good Adam, he was able to exude that rocker guy vibe. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that he also did Adam’s singing voice in the movie and he really knows how to play a guitar.

One of the things I really liked about the book was that it wasn’t just about Mia and Adam, it was also about their friends and family. The movie made this come alive too, and I have no complaints on the casting of the secondary characters. One of the scenes I liked best in the book was when Mia’s grandfather talks to her while she’s in a coma, and I believe the movie nailed that scene. That was one of the scenes that made me teary-eyed. The cinema was only half-full but I could hear other people sniffling as well.

One advantage the movie had over the book was that it had music. Both Mia and Adam are musicians and music is a big part of their lives and is also what brought them together. When I was reading the book, I wondered what it would be like to hear Mia playing the cello or to hear Adam singing while playing the guitar. We definitely got that in the movie. I haven’t had a chance to listen to the movie’s soundtrack after watching it onscreen but I think it sounded pretty good. I think the songs in the movie were chosen well. I really liked the bonfire scene in the movie because it seemed like such a happy, music-filled moment for everyone.

I really enjoyed watching If I Stay but similar to The Fault in Our Stars, I feel like it’s a quiet kind of movie that focuses on human interactions and emotions. I liked watching both films because I’ve read both books and I feel like that gave me a richer experience compared to just watching the movies on their own. So what I’m trying to say is I have no idea whether those who haven’t read the book will like the movie. Other people may find the flow of the scenes a bit disjointed because of the flashback format of the storytelling. Like I said, the movie worked for me and because it did, I will be keeping my fingers crossed for a movie adaptation of Where She Went.

Have you seen If I Stay in theaters? What did you think? Have you read the book and are you planning to see the adaptation on the big screen?


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Retro Friday: Blood Red Horse by K.M. Grant

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.

I became curious about Blood Red Horse by K.M. Grant back when Angie did a Retro Friday review of it. It seemed like a very interesting, under-the-radar historical fiction novel. I was delighted when I found a bargain copy of it in one of the used bookstores in Manila. I thought the cover looked great and I liked the gold accents in the design. That copy has been patiently waiting in my TBR pile for years. Since I’ve been trying to be better about reading books that I have physical copies of, I picked it up when I was in the mood for historical fiction.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

You need three things to become a brave and noble knight:
A warhorse.
A fair maiden.
A just cause.

Will has a horse – a small chestnut stallion with a white blaze in his brow. Ellie is a fair maiden, but she’s supposed to marry Will’s older brother, Gavin. And as for the cause, King Richard is calling for a Crusade. The Knights of England must go to the Holy Land to fight.

Will and Gavin will go. Blood will be shed. Lives will be taken. But through it all, two things will be constant – Ellie, and a blood-red horse called Hosanna…

Blood Red Horse instagram

Blood Red Horse is set in the time period when Richard the Lionheart serves as the king of England and he leads his men on a crusade against the Muslim leader Saladin. To be perfectly honest, I know next to nothing about this part of history because it wasn’t included in the curriculum in schools back home in the Philippines. It doesn’t really matter since I was able to enjoy reading Blood Red Horse even though I’m not familiar with the historical setting of the book. I liked how the book starts with Ellie, Will and Gavin as young children and how we see them grow and develop throughout the course of the book. More so in the boys’ case as they march off to join the crusade with their father. The boys were thoroughly excited to be knights of the crusade, not knowing that war is such a bleak and miserable business. Ellie was left at home but she was destined to have adventures of her own.

Even at a young age, Will has the skills that make him a fine horseman. When he is finally permitted to choose a Great Horse, he sees something special in Hosanna, and immediately knows that he’s meant to have that particular horse even if Hosanna wasn’t exactly meant to be a warhorse. With the title of the book being Blood Red Horse, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me that majority of the story focuses on Hosanna and how the horse influences everyone who gets to know him. However, I thought it was a bit strange how fixated everyone was on Hosanna. I understood Will’s fascination because Hosanna becomes his reliable and faithful companion for years, but everyone else that comes in contact with Hosanna? I just thought it was a bit much for a non-magical horse. (If Hosanna had magic, I think it would have made more sense why he inspires such strong emotions in people.)

I’m usually not a fan of stories about war and true enough, I didn’t really enjoy the passages that centered around the crusade because I found it such a sad experience for the boys and everyone involved. As expected, there’s some violence in there but in an understated way. What I did like was how readers get to see two sides of the war, instead of being biased towards one side. They may disagree about their faith/religion but both leaders of the two groups, Richard and Saladin, see the other person as a brave and worthy opponent. As a result, there’s no clear villain in the story. What we have instead is two groups of people fighting for what they believe in. As I mentioned earlier, I also liked the character development of Ellie, Will and Gavin and I’m really curious what the next books will have in store for them. While I didn’t fall in love with Blood Red Horse, I did think it deserves more attention than it’s currently gotten. If you’re a fan of the historical period of Richard the Lionheart’s reign or of stories about horses, then I have a feeling you’ll enjoy this book.


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Top Ten Underrated Authors in Epic Fantasy

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. I think epic fantasy is becoming more of a trend lately because I have seen other bloggers raving about recently published novels that they’ve loved. I’ve tried some of them but unfortunately, I didn’t think they were as strong as some of my favorite epic fantasy books. So for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, I wanted to focus on one of the genres that I love. Some of the epic fantasy authors I think more readers should check out:

Megan Whalen Turner – I think I’ve made it pretty clear how much I love MWT’s books. I know it’s gotten a bit more attention from authors and bloggers in the past few years but I still don’t think it’s enough!

Robin McKinley – I love Robin McKinley’s lyrical writing style and how her books have a fairy tale feel to them (of course, some of them are fairy tale retellings). My favorites are The Blue Sword, Beauty and Pegasus.

Diana Wynne Jones – I haven’t read all of DWJ’s books but I’ve really enjoyed the ones that I have. I wish I discovered her novels much sooner. I loved Howl’s Moving Castle and also enjoyed the Hayao Miyazaki film adaptation of it.

Sherwood Smith – I think Sherwood Smith writes fun adventure stories and I also love the slow burn romances in her books. I need to catch up on her books because I haven’t read her more recent releases. My favorites of hers are Crown Duel and the Sasharia en Garde duology.

Kristin Cashore – I recently reread Graceling and Fire for a book club discussion and I was reminded of how beautiful Kristin Cashore’s writing is. Strong female protagonists, wonderful worldbuilding and love stories I could root for.

Meg BurdenNorthlander and The King Commands are seriously underrated novels that they’re now out of print. I really enjoyed reading them and I wish they would get more attention. Also hoping that Meg Burden will publish more books.

Andrea K. Host – AKHost is a fairly recent discovery for me, I read and loved her Touchstone trilogy (YA sci fi) and Medair duology (epic fantasy) earlier this year and I’ve been itching to reread them. I’ve been recommending her books to anyone who will listen.

Rachel Neumeier – I thought House of Shadows was a really good read and I’ve been meaning to read The Floating Islands for a while now! I like that Rachel’s books are standalones, which is rare for the genre.

Frances Hardinge – I thought both A Face Like Glass and The Lost Conspiracy were amazing and I feel like Frances Hardinge is a reliable author when it comes to epic fantasy. These two books are also standalones so you can start with either of them.

Juliet Marillier – Another author I need to catch up on since she has several books that I still haven’t read. I highly recommend her Sevenwaters series, Daughter of the Forest and Son of the Shadows are brilliant works of fiction.

Have you read any of these authors? Would you have recommendations for me that would have similar writing to these authors?


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Instagram Challenge: #FYAPhotoaday

This month, I’m joining Forever Young Adult’s Photo-a-day challenge on Instagram. I saw that several of the bloggers I follow on Instagram were participating in this so I thought it would be fun to do it too. I’m chachickenpie on Instagram if anyone wants to check out my posts. I have no idea if I’ll be able to keep up with the challenge for the whole month of September but let’s see. I may not be able to post every day since a lot of my books are back home in Manila. And I’ve been reading a lot on my Kindle lately and I have to admit that it’s difficult to take creative pictures of Kindle editions.

Here’s the list for the challenge:

fya_photo-a-day

I like Instagram bookish challenges because I think is fun to browse through book pictures. Do you post book pictures on Instagram? Have you joined any bookish challenges there?


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August 2014 Recap

Extraordinary Child by Lim Xiufen Silver

Extraordinary Child by Lim Xiufen Silver in the Singapore Art Museum

September is here! Once the ber months have started, that means that Christmas is just around the corner. I still haven’t booked my flight to Manila in December, I really should do that soon since prices are steadily going up. Anyway, here’s a list of the books I’ve read in August:

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews – Review can be found here.

Fiancee for Hire by Tawna Fenske – I read this based on Mina V. Esguerra’s recommendation since I’m always on the lookout for fun contemporary romance books. However, I was disappointed because I didn’t enjoy this as much as I was expecting. I didn’t think it was as good as other romance novels that I’ve read.

One Night of Sin by Elle Kennedy – Quick, fun and smexy read. There are two more books in this series and I look forward to reading them.

(Reread) Fire by Kristin Cashore – Review can be found here. Still can’t believe that I’ve never reviewed this earlier!

Isla and the Happily Ever After plus Paris postcard

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins – Review can be found here. I bet a lot of book bloggers read this one in August!

Firelight and Moonglow by Kristen Callihan – I believe I saw Laura Florand recommending this author on Twitter and the premise for this historical paranormal romance looked intriguing so I gave it a try. Firelight is also a Beauty and the Beast retelling and I’m a sucker for those. Overall, I thought these books were just okay. Not bad but not great either. Not sure if I’ll continue reading the rest of the series, I started the third book but couldn’t really get into it.

Another author that has been recommended by Laura Florand and book blogging buddy Li is Kelly Hunter. I’ve been glomming through her backlist the past couple of days and have finished the following titles:

The Man She Loves to Hate
Wife for a Week
Bedded for Diamonds
The Maverick’s Greek Island Mistress

I have mini reviews on Goodreads for these Kelly Hunter books and I’ll try to consolidate all of them into one blog post later on.

That’s it for my August reading month. In summary, I would say that the highlights of the month for me were Magic Breaks, Isla, Fire and discovering Kelly Hunter. How about the rest of you, how was August as a reading month for you?

Recap of previous months:
January
February
March
May
June
July

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