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Shoot That Book: Lersta Reading Lamp

Shoot That Book combines my passion for books and my tendency to become trigger happy with a camera. My lack of photography skills is compensated by my enthusiasm. Basically, I like taking pictures of books.

A couple of months ago, I moved to the room that I’m currently renting and wrote about the aspects of the move related to reading and blogging. In that post, I mentioned that I couldn’t really read in the reading corner where my armchair is placed because there’s not enough light at night. I had a desk lamp that I used to balance on the armrest but even that has given up on me (the switch is broken). I also mentioned that I thought about buying a stand lamp but the ones that I saw in Ikea were too expensive. The other day, my friend mentioned that she saw a lamp that was only SGD19.90 and I wanted to get one as soon as I heard about it. So today, I dropped by Ikea after work and got a Lersta reading lamp.

Ikea Lersta and bulb

This is the cheapest stand lamp that is available in Ikea. All the other ones are a little pricey. Now I’m berating myself for not searching through the online store to check if there are cheaper alternatives to the ones I saw in the physical store. This lamp is just a bit more expensive than the book light that I bought a few months ago (which has also died and I didn’t bother replacing the batteries since it wasn’t any good)! Anyway, just wanted to give a quick update because I’m happy that I now have a bright and shiny lamp in my reading corner:

Ikea Lersta lamp with armchair

Now I just need to decide what to read next…


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One Less Lonely Person

blogging August 15 2014

The other day, my friends and I were talking about how it’s very difficult to adjust to living in another country, away from family and friends. Most Filipinos have very strong ties to family and friends so when we do move abroad to explore better job opportunities, more often than not, we get lonely and homesick. At least it’s easier to keep in touch because of messaging and calling apps nowadays. But we also talked about how important it is to have hobbies to keep ourselves busy. Of course, I brought up reading and blogging. My friends said it’s good that I’m able to do something that I love and I absolutely agree. I would be pretty lonely if I didn’t have reading and blogging to keep me busy.

In a blog post three years ago, I discussed how much reading is a part of my life so I won’t expand on that. I have also talked about how I love the book blogging community, how I think people are so warm and friendly and I feel like I’ve made some good friends over the years. I don’t mind talking about it again though. It may not seem obvious at this point in time because I’m not blogging as often as I want to and I don’t get as many comments as before but I still feel like reading and blogging are a big part of my life. It’s more than a hobby, in terms of how much thought, time and effort I put into it. It’s more like a lifestyle because I’m in constant conversation (through comments, Twitter, emails or even messaging apps) with blog friends about books. It’s not even as lucrative as other forms of blogging, like fashion or food where other bloggers can get sponsors through ads, but we keep doing it out of love for the written word.

Sometimes, my enthusiasm (or frustration) spills over to real life and I influence my friends to read the books that I love (or stay away from the ones I didn’t think were any good). I also have several friends who ask me for recommendations for themselves or for other people when they need ideas for giving books as gifts. My mom doesn’t really read my blog but it’s funny how she tells her friends that I’m a book blogger. There was also one time when I was telling her that I spend so much money buying books and she said that’s not really a bad thing, it’s better to spend money on books rather than harmful addictions.

I have to be honest and say that I really had a hard time adjusting to living in Singapore when I first moved two years ago. Actually, there are times when I feel like I’m working in Singapore but still living in Manila just because the latter is still home. But I’m very thankful with how reading and blogging has helped me. Reading affects my mood and I’m a lot happier when I just finished an amazing book. Same thing goes when something positive happens that is blog-related, like when I get a response from an author or when I win a giveaway. When I’ve had a bad day or when I’m worrying about something, I’ve said it before and I will keep saying it, I want to keep my blog a happy place. This is why I try to stay away from blog drama whenever possible. I’m an outgoing person but I also enjoy having alone time and I like how reading and blogging lets me do both. I can read by myself and then engage other readers in discussions whenever I feel like it. I can do that whenever and wherever I want to. Both are hobbies that have flexibility in that sense.

I just wanted to share these thoughts and also to thank everyone who has been part of my reading and blogging life so far. Maraming salamat!


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July 2014 Recap

Fully Booked July 2014

I went home to Manila for a long weekend at the end of the July. This was a shot taken in Fully Booked’s Fort branch.

Hello everyone! I recently read one of my most anticipated titles this year – Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews, the newest installment in the Kate Daniels series – and I’ve been meaning to write a review but haven’t found the time to sit down and work on it. I know I’ll get to it eventually because I loved the book and I want to promote the series but in the meantime, here’s a recap of books I read last month:

The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty – I liked this sequel about as much as I liked the first book. Found the first half a bit slow but the pace picked up towards the end. I’m still not in love with the series but curious about the final book.

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord – One of my favorite books this year. Review can be found here.

Wildlife by Fiona Wood – Another favorite for this year. Review can be found here.

Laura’s Wolf by Lia Silver – Some thoughts I posted on Goodreads: Recommended by Sherwood Smith and Estara. I wasn’t blown away by Laura’s Wolf but it’s an interesting read. I liked both Laura, the ex-con artist, and Roy, the veteran Marine. I thought they were a good match. There’s a lot of action in the book but a huge chunk of it also focuses on PTSD and how it affected Laura and Roy and their relationship. I would have liked for the book to have included more worldbuilding when it comes to the werewolf lore, like more history about werewolves in this world and how they came to be. Maybe the next book will have more about that? I’m curious about it because of I want to know more about Roy’s Filipino American best friend DJ and his family.

Prisoner by Lia Silver – Some thoughts I posted on Goodreads: I liked that DJ is Filipino-American – I found it hilarious that his nickname is Lechon and he listens to Pinoy hiphop. I did find it a bit weird that he calls his mom “Nanay” but he doesn’t call his grandma “Lola”. It was interesting how different DJ’s personality is from his best friend Roy. He’s much more outgoing and playful than Roy. It was also interesting to see a different perspective to the same war experiences that Roy had in the first book. DJ is the perfect match for Echo, who has tried to distance herself from emotions after losing her sisters. It was fun to watch them get to know each other and form a friendship. For some reason, I thought this was going to be a standalone and was surprised to find out that it’s the first book in DJ and Echo’s trilogy.

Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren – The premise of this looked so interesting. A guy and a girl meet in Vegas and they hook up. The girl follows the guy to Paris for some soul searching. I felt like this book had so much potential but unfortunately, I didn’t think it was executed well.

The Real Score by Kesh Tanglao – Some thoughts I posted on Goodreads: Very easy to read and fall into (finished it in a span of one day) but a little too much angst for a best friend turned lovers story. I find it hard to believe that they’ve been best friends for several years without having a DTR (Define the Relationship) type of conversation. I’ve had that kind of talk with a few of my close guy friends over the years, like “Dude, you know I love you but not in THAT way.” or “My friends think we should date, we both know that will never happen.” or “I will smack some sense into you if you ever think you’ve fallen in love with me.” Also, I felt that I was being told about their friendship instead of being shown. Like the drunk calls and long-distance calls/text messages were just mentioned in passing instead of being actual scenes in the book. I would have been more convinced of their friendship if I saw more concrete examples of how it formed. I don’t know if the length is a factor for the Romance Class that produced this book, maybe it had to keep to a novella-length?

The Beacon at Alexandria by Gillian Bradshaw – This book came highly recommended by Rachel Neumeier (thanks again for sending me a copy, Rachel!) and it’s my first Gillian Bradshaw. It was a bit intense and serious in terms of political situations I’m not familiar with but I enjoyed reading it overall because I liked how Charis loved the art of healing and how determined she was to be a doctor. It’s also more believable for her to pass herself off as a eunuch rather than a man.

As a reading month, I think July started off really strong since I found two books to love – Open Road Summer and Wildlife. I’m keeping my fingers crossed I’ll discover some good ones this August. I also had a lot of fun organizing and hosting Amour et Florand, which was a celebration of Laura Florand’s lovely writing. For those of you who have read Laura’s books, I hope you enjoy the posts. And for those of you who haven’t had a chance to try her novels, I hope the event has convinced you to check them out!

Antoinette macarons

Of course I had to have macarons while Amour et Florand was running on the blog. These were from Antoinette, I really liked their early grey macaron.

That’s it for me this July. How about the rest of you, what are the books that you read last month? Any good ones that stood out?

Recap of previous months:
January
February
March
May
June


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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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May 2014 Recap

I didn’t have an April 2014 update because I was traveling and only managed to finish one book, Thorn, that month. I decided to write a review instead of making an update. I also reread A Rose in Winter by Laura Florand and was finally able to review it – it was one of my Christmas reads last year but I didn’t get to review it. Yay for posting more reviews! They may be shorter than some of the ones I used to write but hey, at least I’m no longer in a slump.

Moving on to my May 2014 update, these were titles that I read last month:

It Happened One Wedding by Julie James – Really enjoyed this one, review in draft mode.

Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane – Gritty, dark and bleak, this really isn’t my cup of tea but I wanted to give the series a try since my friend Maggie has been raving about it. I heard that the second book is a lot better than the first so I’ll probably try reading that as well to see if I want to keep going with the series.

Sun-Kissed by Laura Florand – I’m a Laura Florand fangirl so it’s not surprising that I really liked this even if it has a different feel from her other books – it features an older couple and it’s set in the States instead of France. I’m thinking of coming up with a post about this and Snow-Kissed, we’ll see how it goes.

Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart – Retro Friday review can be found here.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – Review can be found here.

Dare to Resist by Laura Kaye – I read this prelude to the Wedding Dare series which includes Baiting The Maid Of Honor by Tessa Bailey. Quick and fun read, I liked that the heroine is a computer whiz and that she works in the same field as the hero. Also liked how the heroine’s favorite book plays an important role in the story.

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty – Review in draft mode. I’m thinking of reviewing it together with the sequel, which I haven’t finished reading.

I think it was a pretty good month in terms of books read and reviews written. I hope it won’t take me months to finish the reviews that I have in draft mode. At least now that I’ve mentioned them here, there would be more of a push for me to finish them.

Last week, I also participated in ArmchairBEA 2014 and had a great time writing posts for the daily topics, posting Instagram pictures and commenting on posts. Here’s a wrap-up of what I did for the blog event, in case you want to check it out.

Recap of previous months:
January
February
March


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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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