Chachic's Book Nook


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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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Book to Movie: Catching Fire and Ender’s Game

It’s funny because last week I mentioned that I don’t get to see movies that often and yet this weekend, I was able to watch both Catching Fire and Ender’s Game. I haven’t reread these two books recently but I remember loving them when I first picked them up so of course, I was looking forward to the movie adaptations. So yes, I wasn’t able to work on book reviews this weekend because I watched movies instead! Good thing these movies are based on book so I can talk about them here on the blog. :)

Catching Fire movie poster

Good thing I had a friend that warned me that Catching Fire is a pretty long movie so I didn’t drink anything before seeing it because I didn’t want to get up in the middle of the movie to go to the bathroom! I thought the movie was done very well, the cast did a great job of portraying their characters. It felt like the whole movie stayed true to the essence of the book. It’s an action-packed film that was also filled to the brim with emotion. I think it’s the kind of movie that people will be able to appreciate even if they haven’t read the book (as long as they’ve seen the first movie). I felt like it took a while to get my head out of the Catching Fire world and I spent the next day searching for videos of cast interviews because I wanted to see more of them. I think JLaw is awesome and I’m pretty sure most of you will agree with me on this one.

Ender's Game movie poster

It’s been years since I read Ender’s Game but I remember thinking that it’s such a brilliant book and I was amazed by it even though I’m not much of a sci-fi reader. I haven’t had a chance to pick up the sequels and I’m wondering if I should do so if they’re going to make movie adaptations of them. Anyway, the Ender’s Game movie was less accurate than Catching Fire in terms of following the events and details of the book. Don’t get me wrong, Asa Butterfield was great as Ender but I was able to empathize more with book Ender rather than movie Ender. To be fair, there was a lot that happened in the book and they can’t include everything in the movie so they just squeezed in the most important events. Also, they had to make it less violent in order to appeal to a younger audience, I guess. I did like seeing the sci-fi setting come alive on the big screen. I had fun watching the kids in action in the battle school and command school. I watched the movie with a friend who just finished reading the book so I’m not sure how the movie will work with someone who hasn’t read the book.

Have you seen these two movies? If you have, what did you think of them? Did you read the books prior to watching the movies? Usually, I make a point of reading books before seeing their movie adaptations but there are so many movies based on books that are about to be released. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep up with everything so I’ll probably just stick to the ones I’m interested in. I’m currently in the middle of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak because I want to read it before the movie comes out. How about the rest of you, do you also read books before watching movies?


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Tricksters

I have a confession to make. I’m really behind when it comes to movies and TV shows because I spend most of my free time sleeping, reading or blogging. There are times when my friends would ask me to watch a movie and then I’d say that I won’t be able to join them because it’s a sequel for something that I haven’t seen yet. Anyway, I was really curious about Thor: The Dark World since so many people seemed to enjoy it. I watched the first Thor movie on Friday night so I could watch the sequel with my flatmates on Saturday (note that I still haven’t seen the Avengers, Captain America or any of the Iron Man movies). I’m talking about seeing these movies here on my blog tonight because they are the reason why I wasn’t able to read or blog this weekend. Also, I wanted to bring up something that I’m interested in.

Thor 2

I guess it’s not surprising that I thought Loki was such a great character in both Thor movies, I liked him a lot more than Thor. While I’m not really familiar with Norse mythology, I’ve seen Loki mentioned in other books before as the trickster god. I find gods (or even mortal characters) like that intriguing. I was reminded of how much I liked the trickster god Kyprioth in Tamora Pierce’s Daughter of the Lioness duology and I think most of you know that I’m a big fan of Eugenides, the patron god of thieves in Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series. Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst also has a trickster god called Korbyn but I kind of felt like he wasn’t as mischievous as the other two.

Loki from Thor

Image from Tumblr.

I Googled tricksters and found that Wikipedia has a definition of it:

The trickster deity breaks the rules of the gods or nature, sometimes maliciously (for example, Loki) but usually with ultimately positive effects (though the trickster’s initial intentions may have been either positive or negative). Often, the bending/breaking of rules takes the form of tricks (e.g. Eris) or thievery. Tricksters can be cunning or foolish or both; they are often funny even when considered sacred or performing important cultural tasks. An example of this is the sacred Iktomi, whose role is to play tricks and games and by doing so raises awareness and acts as an equalizer.

I like how cunning tricksters are and how things will never get boring when they’re involved. Sometimes they’re good guys but they can also be villains and more often that not, it’s difficult to decipher what their intentions are. I brought it up here because I would be interested in hearing about other well-written fantasy novels or series that have tricksters in them since I only know of the titles I mentioned above. Have you read any other books that have trickster characters in them? Or maybe TV shows or movies? Are you interested in tricksters like I am or you don’t really care for them? As always, let me know what you guys think. Hope you all had a good weekend, I felt like it went by so fast.


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My Commenting Habits

typewriter weheartit

Image from We Heart It.

It looks like talking about comments is becoming a yearly habit for me – I had a post in 2011 and another in 2012. It’s a topic that I like revisiting because most bloggers will be able to relate to it. I think it’s also a good idea to look back and see what have changed in my commenting habits and what that stayed the same. None of you will find it surprising when I say I love getting comments on my blog posts. I’ve said it before: comments are like candy or chocolate (I prefer the latter). I usually publish a post at night and it’s always nice to wake up and find notifications for comments received the next day. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. I do get bummed when I don’t get any comments on some of my posts but I don’t let it get to me. I know that doesn’t mean that no one has read my post, it probably just means that people are too busy to comment.

I’m grateful for all the comments that I receive so I make it a point to reply to all of them. I may not be able to reply to comments right away but I do reply when I find the time for it. I think I got the habit from some of my blogging friends back when I first started – when I drop by their blogs again, I notice that they reply to the comments that I leave behind and that usually prompts me to comment back. I feel like replying to comments is a nice way of showing your appreciation to the commenter and it encourages them to reply back so you start having a discussion. I wonder if the rest of you do this as well, do you go back to blog posts that you’ve left comments on to see if the blogger replied?

I used to be better when it comes to reading posts and commenting on the blogs that I follow. I would go through my entire feed reader and comment on most of the posts that I find interesting – if it’s a review of a book that I’ve read or I’m curious about or if it’s a discussion post that I feel like contributing to. But nowadays, I rarely have time to do that. We all know how real life gets in the way of reading and blogging. I still drop by the blogs I follow but I don’t get to read or comment on them as I would like to. If there’s a blog post that you think I would like, feel free to send me a tweet or message about it because I’m more likely to check it out if someone points me in the right direction. There are also times when I read blog posts on my smart phone and it’s not easy to comment using that device so I usually send a tweet instead. I’ve found that sometimes, it’s more convenient to have conversations on Twitter rather than back and forth in the comment section on a blog post.

In terms of blogging platforms, I’m really happy with how WordPress handles comments – threaded discussions, no Captcha and even non-bloggers can leave comments without signing in (they can just enter their name and email address). I also like how WordPress has notifications when another WordPress blogger replies to a comment that you left on their blog. WordPress also sends a notification when there’s an incoming link from another WordPress blog, like when a fellow blogger links to your review. It’s nice to know when you get a signal boost like that and more often that not, I end up leaving a comment on a post when someone was nice enough to link back to my blog. Of course, this is just a personal preference and it doesn’t make me less likely to leave comments on another blogging platform. I just find WordPress more convenient in this sense. I also notice that some people click the “like” button on WordPress rather than leaving comments so maybe that’s their way of saying they agree with the post even though they don’t have anything specific to say about it.

So how many times did I mention the word “comment” in this post? LOL. How about the rest of you, what are your commenting habits? Do you reply to all the comments in your blog? Are you a serial commenter or are you more of a lurker in terms of commenting?


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Mood Changers

girl reading by a tree

Image from We Heart It.

This morning I saw an article which Maggie Stiefvater wrote for The Guardian that I really liked. Go check it out if you haven’t had a chance to read it. The gist of it is that she talks about how she changes moods through her writing.

I begin every creative project with a mood in my head. Every scene is planned out to feel a certain way. I navigate readers’ emotions like a small ship through a rocky strait. If I have not got inside your brain and moved emotional furniture around during the course of my novel, I feel I’ve failed.

That sounds sinister.

I mean for it to.

I felt like this is a spot-on description of how a good book can transport us to a different setting and situation, letting us experience what the characters are experiencing and as a result, changing how we feel the moment we are reading. I admit that I’m an escapist reader, I love picking up a book and losing myself within the story. The books that resonate and stand out for me are the ones that I can relate to – the ones that can make me ache and feel for the characters. The ones that can make me believe that fiction is reality while I’m in the middle of the book (or even better when the story and characters stay with me after I’ve finished). The very best ones leave me with a book hangover when I can’t stop thinking about the book because it feels like I’m still stuck in that world. I have to make a conscious mental effort to pull myself out of it. That kind of absorption happens in degrees – I can be really engrossed by a book or just be slightly into it. When I can’t find even the smallest of connections with a book, I feel like it didn’t really work for me. This is also probably also why there are times when I have to be in a certain mood to read a particular book – like I would want to read a feel good title when I’m feeling down or I need to steel myself before I read an emotionally heavy novel.

Earlier, my co-workers and I were talking about our daily commute and how crowded the MRT trains get in the mornings. One of them mentioned that she just watches movies and shows in her smartphone to drown out the reality of being squished by people around her. I’ve noticed that I’m like that with books – I tend to be oblivious to my surroundings when I’m absorbed by a great book. There was even a time when I missed my stop because I was reading. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t enjoy reading, probably very boring and lonely.

I agree with Maggie, well-written novels can change a reader’s mood and she was able to accomplish that when I read The Scorpio Races, and more recently The Dream Thieves. What do you think about Maggie’s article? Do you agree with the idea that authors are mood changers? Let me know what you think.


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My Reviewing Style

book and typewriter

Image from We Heart It

I remember writing a discussion post about my reviewing style and I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the topic. It’s been more than two years since I wrote the previous post and it’s interesting to note how some things have changed while some things are still the same when it comes to how I write my reviews. The biggest change is I find it harder to write reviews nowadays. I can’t just sit down right after finishing a book and just churn out a review like I used to. I feel like I have to be in a certain mood to write a review because I have to recall the experience of reading the book: what were the scenes that I liked and how I felt while I was reading them. I remember when I first started blogging, I also reviewed most of the books that I read but now, I only review books when I feel like I have enough to say about them. Sometimes when too much time passes after I’ve finished a book, I would have forgotten most of the details about it and I’ll just give up on writing a review. There are also instances when I feel like I don’t have the words to properly describe how I felt about the book and I’m just tempted to say “I really liked this one, you should read it.” I think I find it more difficult to write reviews now compared to when I first started blogging but to be fair, I also think that my reviews have gotten better. I think they’re a little longer and they have more substance than old reviews. But that’s just my personal opinion. I like the option of writing shorter reviews and just grouping them into one post so I won’t have to feel pressured to come up with a full review. I don’t want to get into a blogging slump by pressuring myself to write reviews when I don’t feel like doing so. Just like I said before, I want to keep blogging fun.

In terms of process and structure, I still do the same thing that I’ve been doing ever since I first started blogging. While reading, I note down passages that I like (or highlight them when I’m reading on my Kindle). I usually update my Goodreads reading status with those quotes or other random thoughts about the book. When I write my review, I try and recall what aspects of the book worked and what didn’t, what were the things that I liked and what made me frustrated. I guess it’s easier when I feel strongly about a book, in a positive or negative way, because then I’d have a lot to say about it. It also motivates me to write a review when I know that someone else is waiting to hear my thoughts on a certain book. I keep my Goodreads account updated so if you see me finish a book that you’re interested in, feel free to send me a tweet or message saying that you’re curious. That will probably encourage me to write a review. But then again, it all boils down to my mood and whether I’m inspired to come up with a review. Like now, there are several titles that have drafts on my dashboard but I haven’t been able to finish any of them. I want to write them, I just need to find the words. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will get to post at least one this week.

What about the rest of you, care to share how you write your reviews? Has your reviewing style changed over the years or is it still basically the same?


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Diving Into a Series

World of the Lupi

Some of the World of the Lupi books in the bookstore

It has been a little over two weeks since I started reading Tempting Danger, the first book in the World of the Lupi urban fantasy series by Eileen Wilks. I’m currently in the eighth book in the series, there is one more waiting to be read and then a new one will be published next week. I’ve been looking for another urban fantasy series to follow for a while now and I don’t know if I was just in the right mood when I started with the Lupi books but I’m just glad it worked out for me. I like diving into a series that can keep me occupied for a while – it’s nice to not have to worry about what to read next. Plus, I’ve made the decision to review the series as a whole instead of posting a review for each book (partly because most of my friends haven’t read the series so I’d like to avoid spoilers) so I can just keep reading. No need to pause to let one book sink in and write a review of it. Since this series has been going on for a few years, there are a lot of books in it and it feels good to NOT have to wait for sequels to be published. Although I will encounter that situation once I finish going through all the ones that are out now.

I can’t remember the last time I had a nice glom of a series like this. I did reread the earlier Kate Daniels novels fairly recently, in preparation for Magic Rises, but that was a reread instead of devouring a new-to-me series. One reason for this lack of series engagement is that I discovered most of the series that I currently follow back when only a couple of books were out (e.g. there were only two books in Laura Florand’s Amour et Chocolat series when I first started reading it). Another part is that I just haven’t been hooked by a series. There was a time when I would have to buy a complete set of a series before starting it but then it came to a point when I would only read the first two or three books and then give up. So I made the decision to give the first book a try and then just grab copies of the next books as I go long. This way, I also feel like I don’t have to make a commitment to finish a series once I start it. I just go with what I feel like reading. We can’t really predict how we’ll react to the books that we read, right? As much as I would have loved to be blown away by some of the series that I’ve tried, it just didn’t happen.

Since this World of the Lupi glom has been taking up a lot of my time (and I’ve also been giving up sleep for it), I thought it would be a good idea to start a conversation about it. What was your last good series consumption and when was it? What are some of your favorite series that you know you’ll follow until the last book has been published? What are some of the series that you tried but didn’t feel compelled enough to continue?

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