Chachic's Book Nook


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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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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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January 2014 Recap

January has come and gone and I wasn’t able to post any reviews. The reviewing slump that I talked about in December is still in place. That’s a shame because I came across several books that I really enjoyed reading. Instead, here’s a recap of the novellas and novels that I read the previous month.

I wasn’t able to read Christmas stories while I was in Manila in December so I made up for it by reading as many as I can in January. These are the titles that I devoured:

All I Want for Christmas by Chris Mariano, Chrissie Peria and Miles Tan
A Rose in Winter by Laura Florand
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas
A Kiss for Midwinter by Courtney Milan

My favorite out of all these is A Rose in Winter, it was such a cozy Christmas read and very atmospheric. It made me want to explore Provence (similar to how I felt about Paris when I started Laura Florand’s Amour et Chocolat books). Another Christmas novella that I loved is Snowfall by Mary Ann Rivers, it’s not included in the list because I managed to read that in December. Moving on to the other books that I’ve read in January:

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund – I got this book from Janice from the 2012 YAckers Secret Santa and I realized that I still haven’t read it. This was my first Diana Peterfreund novel and I liked it. Found it easy to get into and finished it fairly quickly.

Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund – I read The Scarlet Pimpernel a few months ago because I wanted to know the story before reading this retelling. I didn’t like The Scarlet Pimpernel as much as I was expecting but I didn’t have that problem with Across a Star-Swept Sea. Like with the first book, I got through it in a short span of time. Looking forward to reading the author’s contemporary YA (NA?) series.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge – Such a lovely retelling of Beauty and the Beast! I’m a sucker for fairy tales retold but I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed one as much Cruel Beauty. Beautifully written.

The Rosie Project by Grame Simsion – I read this one because my friend Maggie loved it. I found it hilarious, I laughed out loud at some scenes. The main character reminded me of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, has a brilliant mind but is socially inept.

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier – I was pretty curious about Rachel’s foray into urban fantasy so I said yes when I was offered a galley. Solid worldbuilding, interesting characters and a potentially sweet romance. Can’t wait for the sequel! This felt like a YA version of Eileen Wilks’ World of Lupi series.

Song of Scarabaeus and Children of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy – Got the first book from Angie through the 2013 YAckers Secret Santa. I keep saying I’m not into sci fi but I think it’s just a matter of finding the right books that will work for me. Really liked Song of Scarabaeus and I dived into the sequel right after finishing the first book. I thought the second book wasn’t as good as the first but the latter half of the novel picked up so I thought it finished on a nice note.

So, so, so. Those are my January reads. I am eternally hopeful that I will manage to come up with a review this month but it looks like February is going to be busy with real life stuff (going to move to another flat in the middle of the month) so we’ll see. What were the books that you’ve read in January? Any particular title that stood out for you?


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Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is things/themes that I would like to see more of in the books that I read. In no particular order, these are the things that would interest me:

Filipino YA – I’ve mentioned this previously and I’ll probably keep bringing it up: I would love to read Filipino YA novels, whether they’re fantasy or contemporary. I’ve envied Australia for its wealth of amazing YA novels for a while now and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the Philippines will produce its share of YA books that readers all over the world can enjoy.

Fairy tales retold – I love fairy tale retellings and would love to see more of them.

Court or political intrigue – I find it fascinating when characters maneuver court intrigue really well.

Magnificent or awe-inspiring mythical creatures – Like a dragon or a pegasus or a flesh-eating water horse.

Books set all over the world – Most of the books that I’ve come across are set in the US, UK and Australia (or in fantasy worlds). Some are set in France. I would like to read more from other countries, maybe in Asia or South America.

Travel – I don’t get to travel as much as I’d like so I enjoy reading travel books because I get to live vicariously through the characters. The opposite theme for this (coming home) is also something I’m interested in.

Foodie novels – I love to eat so it’s only natural that I love reading about characters who share this particular interest.

Family and awesome parents – I always appreciate books where the main characters’ families have a strong presence in the story because my own family is very important in my life.

Friendship – Similar to what I wrote above, I value my friends as well. As much as I love romance novels, I also think friendship stories are great and we need more of them.

Main characters who are readers or book bloggers – It’s always fun to read a book that has a character who loves to read. And I don’t think I’ve read a book that has a book blogger.

What about you, what are the things that you’d like to see in the novels that you read?


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December Slump

I’m pretty lucky that I haven’t experienced a reading slump in ages. However, I find myself in the middle of a reviewing slump. I have been in denial about it but as my list of books to be reviewed just keeps getting longer, I think it’s time to admit that I’m in a slump. It’s not that I don’t want to review the books that I read – I really want to because I’ve gone through some pretty good ones lately and I would love to spread the word about them. But the words aren’t coming and I don’t want to force myself to review when I’m not in the mood to do so. Factors that have contributed to this include being really busy at work and just wanting to relax and read on week nights. And on weekends, I usually hang out with friends or catch up on chores. Reading is easier because I can squeeze it in whenever I have some free time like when I’m on the train. I’m hoping this is just a phase and when things calm down, I might be able to come up with decent reviews again. Maybe I can even work on mini reviews instead.

In the meantime, here’s a list of some lovely books that I’ve recently read and would love to review if only I had the time and inclination to do so:

Truly by Ruthie Knox
The Chocolate Heart by Laura Florand
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow
Snowfall by Mary Ann Rivers

TrulyThe Chocolate HeartThe Dream ThievesThe Book ThiefSorrow's Knot

I feel kind of bad that I haven’t been able to review these because I would really recommend them to other readers. I guess I’ll just wait and see how it goes. Oh and only a few more days until I fly home to Manila and EWein Special Ops starts! Watch out for that.

EWein Special Ops


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Top Ten Things I Am Thankful For

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. Thanksgiving is not celebrated either here in Singapore or back home in Manila but I think it’s always a good thing to remind ourselves of things that we are thankful for. It’s a good way of focusing on the positive instead of negative things in our lives. I’ve chosen to put together a list centered on reading and blogging:

Books – I think this is a given but I wanted to include it in the list because I really can’t imagine what my life would be like if it didn’t have books in it. I’m especially thankful for amazingly well-written books that become favorites after I read them.

My Kindle – I’m thankful that an e-reader makes it a lot easier for me to read on the train or in a plane whenever I travel. I like the flexibility of having a wide range of choices while carrying just one device.

framed postcards

Bookish postcards – I’m a big fan of postcards because I think it’s fun to get a little something in the mail aside from bills. Postcards that have book-related designs are the best.

Goodreads – I’m grateful that a site like Goodreads lets me keep track of my books because they’re all over the place. Some of my physical books are here in Singapore while some are in Manila. Then I also have ebooks in my Kindle. There are times when I even forget if I already own a book or not.

TumblrTumblr is great for the times when I don’t feel like blogging but I want to go online and browse through stuff.

Comments – I’m always thankful for the comments that I receive in my blog posts. I really appreciate that other people take the time to read my posts and comment.

Movie adaptations of books – In spite of the fact that in most cases, the book is better than the movie, I still enjoy watching scenes and characters from books that I’ve read come to life on the big screen. Plus, movie adaptations bring more attention to the books, encouraging more people to pick them up.

Friends in real life who read – I rarely get to discuss books with real life friends because they seldom read the same titles that I do. So it’s a good thing when a friend gets to read something that I’ve also read and we can talk about it. This is also why I try to give books as birthday or Christmas gifts as much as I can.

YAckers

YAckers – I don’t get to participate in all the monthly discussions but interacting with the YAckers ladies is a lot of fun.

Book blogosphere community – Last but definitely not the least, I’m thankful for all the lovely people in the blogosphere. I like being part of a community where books and reading is such a significant aspect of everyday life.

What about the rest of you, what are you thankful for?


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WWW Wednesdays: November 20

WWW Wednesdays

WWW WEDNESDAYS… is a weekly event where you share (1) What you’re currently reading, (2) What you recently finished reading, and (3) What you think you’ll read next.

Yay, it’s Wednesday and the middle of the week. Just a few more days until the weekend. I’m looking forward to this weekend because I’ll be seeing two movie adaptations: Catching Fire on Friday and then Ender’s Game on Saturday. I hope I’ll be able to squeeze in some reading time as well. So here’s a quick mid-week update care of WWW Wednesdays.

The Boneshaker

I just finished reading The Boneshaker by Kate Milford, which we are discussing in the YAckers book club. I had a hard time getting into it because I found the first half slow but things picked up towards the end. But by that time, I just wasn’t invested in the characters so I didn’t like it as much as I was expecting. Still, check it out if you’re a fan of MG fantasy because it might be something that you’ll enjoy.

Welcome to Envy Park

I just started reading Welcome to Envy Park by Mina V. Esguerra, a Filipino chick lit novella, on my Kindle. It’s always fun to read Mina’s books because I can relate to the characters. Even more so for this one because the MC worked for five years in Singapore and is now back in Manila. I’m liking it so far. I’m also in the middle of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak but I have the paperback and I usually leave my copy at the flat. Since I do most of my reading on the train, I haven’t made that much progress on it. This made me realize that I’m really using my Kindle a lot more these days so maybe I should get more ebooks rather than physical copies in the future.

For Darkness Shows the Stars

As for my next read, I haven’t really decided what to pick up next. I think I’ll just go with what I feel like. If I’m in the mood for fantasy, maybe For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, followed by Across the Star-swept Sea. Or the Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Höst. If I’m in the mood for contemporary YA, I’m considering Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (since I enjoyed reading Fangirl), Girl Defective by Simmone Howell and Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller. As you can see, there are way too many tempting options in my TBR pile. But I think having a hard time deciding what to read next is a good problem to have so it’s all good. :)

What about the rest of you – what book have you just finished, what are you in the middle of and what are you planning to read next? Have you seen Ender’s Game or Catching Fire? If yes, what did you think of it?


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Fantasy Based on Reality

Tamora Pierce

Image from Tamora Pierce’s website

Yesterday, I read this guest blog post by Tamora Pierce entitled “Craft of Writing: Suspension of Disbelief” over at Adventures in YA Publishing. I’m a fan of Tamora Pierce’s books because she writes fantasy novels with strong female protagonists. I particularly like her Daughter of the Lioness duology. I haven’t read all of her books but I would like to do so eventually. Anyway, I love what she had to say about writing fantasy and how it has to be grounded in reality. I end up loving a book when the characters and the setting feel real even if the story takes place in another world and in another time period. What I always look for in the books that I read is having a connection to the characters and being able to relate to what they’re going through. I think that happens when there’s an essence of truth in the story. Here’s one part of the blog post that I would like to share:

“Life has to be real to suspend disbelief. People should eat, and sleep. Dogs and cats have to be let out to do animal business. Teeth have to be cleaned, beds have to be made, horses must be cared for. It’s important to find out how far a horse can go in a day and under what conditions, because if you have a horse running all day without let-up, you will lose all of your horse-loving readers — and there are a lot of them out there. Magic should be the same. I view the realism in the way I write as the thing I do to make it possible for my readers to save up their suspension of disbelief for the magic, but the truth is, I try to make my magic sensible, too. It must follow rules. I like mine to draw on physics, and the energy that is inherent in all things. The stronger the magic used, the more powerful the world’s reaction to it, and the better chance that it will kill a mage who is unprepared, careless, or too weak to conduct the energy. Spell circles and drawings become magical circuits to conduct the power drawn from the mages, circuits that can increase or contain power. This way, it makes sense, and I keep my reader.”

Click the link to read the whole article, I think it’s a good one. And if you haven’t had the chance to read any of Tamora Pierce’s books, you should definitely check them out especially if you’re a fan of YA fantasy.

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