Chachic's Book Nook


Influenced by a Book: Lavender Oil

As a reader, there have been times when something that I read in a book has influenced some of my actions. I’m starting this new feature Influenced by a Book to talk about things like that. I have no idea how often I’ll do posts like this so let’s just see how it goes.

First up is something influenced by one of my favorite reads this year, A Wish Upon Jasmine by Laura Florand. This lovely romance is set in Provence. It features a heroine who is a top perfumer and a hero who is a perfume executive (and is part of an old perfume family who has a strong presence in the business). So being the serious business guy that he is, the hero gets tension headaches which he usually just tries to live through. A thoughtful solution that the heroine suggests? Lavender oil. Check out this snippet:

It said: If you get a headache, try this.

And for some reason – it must be his fucking head – that made his eyes sting.

He uncapped the vial, and the scent of lavender hit him immediately, spicy, fresh, optimistic. The scent of a bee sting easing. The scent of a field on the plateaus, high up, away from the world, with a wind rippling waves of purple. The scent of an afternoon making love in a small, shadowy room above an old perfume shop.

He held the vial to his nose, his eyes closed, and his breathing slowing and deepening. That tight pain eased the minutest degree at the first breath, and then a little bit more with the second, and a little bit more, like a guitar string close to snapping being slowly, slowly adjusted back to proper tightness. It eased until he almost forgot about it, his lashes growing heavy, his face muscles relaxing.

lavender essential oil

Lavender essential oil that I recently bought

That scene makes me go awww. I love the way lavender smells and I’ve used lavender-scented perfumes, shower gels, shampoos, and other bath products. I also love its flowery taste and have eaten lavender-flavored cakes and ice cream, and I’ve savored lavender tea. But I’ve never thought to use lavender essential oil for headaches, which I get from time to time, especially when I’ve been working long hours. I try to avoid taking Biogesic / paracetamol if I can help it because I don’t want to depend on it. So when I felt a headache coming on, I decided to try the treatment that Jess suggested. While my headache didn’t completely go away, the lavender oil did help me relax. Maybe I need to inhale more of it.

What about you, have you recently done something that was influenced by a book that you read? Also, what do you think of this new feature of mine? :P


Snapshot From a Book: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Snapshot From a Book is a feature that I started sometime last year and so far, I only have three posts for it (Interim Goddess of Love trilogy by Mina V. Esguerra, The Chocolate Thief and The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand). I did mention that I wouldn’t be sure how often I’d be able to do this since it’s rare for me to visit places that are used as settings in the books that I read. Also, I think it’s pretty cool that I’ve managed to use lomography pictures in all my posts so far. In keeping with that theme, today I’m featuring snippets and pictures for Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (my review). I visited Prague a few months ago and I believe Laini Taylor did a magnificent job in describing this gorgeous city. I’m sharing pictures taken using my Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim film camera with no edits. Films used were Fuji Sensia, Fuji Velvia, Lomochrome Purple and Revolog Kolor.

“The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century – or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies. Tall houses glowed goldenrod and carmine and eggshell blue, embellished with Rococo plasterwork and capped in roofs of uniform red. Baroque cupolas were the soft green of antique copper, and Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels. The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks. Thugs wore Mozart wigs and pushed chamber music on street corners, and marionettes hung in windows, making the whole city seem like a theater with unseen puppeteers crouched behind velvet.

Above it all loomed the castle on the hill, its silhouette as sharp as thorns. By night it was floodlit, bathed in eerie light, and this evening the sky hung low, full-bellied with snow, making gauzy halos around the street lamps.”

Prague lomo 1Prague lomo 2Prague lomo castle

“Prague entranced you, lured you in, like the mythic fey who trick travelers deep into forests until they’re lost beyond hope.”

Prague lomo astronomical clockPrague lomo old town

The medieval Cesky Krumlov was very briefly mentioned in the book as well, so I thought it would be nice to include some shots of that lovely place too:

“Zuzana was Czech, from a long line of marionette artisans in Cesky Krumlov, the little jewel box of a city in southern Bohemia.”

Cesky Krumlov lomoCesky Krumlov lomo 2


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…


Snapshot From a Book: Interim Goddess of Love

I’ve mentioned before that Mina V. Esguerra’s setting for her Interim Goddess of Love trilogy (my reviews of Interim Goddess of Love, Queen of the Clueless, Icon of the Indecisive) strongly reminds me of our alma mater – Mina and I went to the same school. I’ve also posted pictures of the Ateneo de Manila University but I wanted to do it again now while highlighting certain sections out of Interim Goddess of Love for this Snapshot From a Book post. I have such fond memories of studying in Ateneo – I met some of my closest friends there, had inspiring teachers and classes, enjoyed extra-curricular activities and just generally liked hanging out in school. Reading the Interim Goddess of Love books brought back some of those memories. Here are a few quotes and photos:

“Located just outside of Metro Manila, Ford River College was a relatively new school (compared to the over-a-century-old ones put up during the Spanish and American periods), but it already had a reputation for being the place to send your children if they were very smart, or if you were very rich. I was there on scholarship, but I didn’t think that automatically put me in the camp of very smart. Maybe lucky.”


“Did I want to go to Ford River? I visited the campus and it looked beautiful, its brick buildings scattered in a field of green that looked out onto an actual (clean) creek on one side, and a hill on the other. I went to high school in the middle of Manila, and maybe I’d had enough of that.”



This last bit is not related to the setting but it’s a beautiful quote so I wanted to include it:

“Because, though I’d seen and felt just a fraction of all the love in the world, I knew that when people thought of love they thought of moments. Whether or not a marriage worked out, or if they stayed together after graduation, or if they did go to the big dance together, the story’s end mattered less, and the highlights in between mattered more. Those are what lingered, and what people can go back to, even when they had nothing left.”



Snapshot From a Book: The Chocolate Touch

Paris is such a photogenic city. I’m so glad I decided to take a lomo camera with me because some of the results are just lovely. I feel like I keep going on and on and Paris and Laura Florand’s novels but I can’t help it – her writing vividly describes the city. The pictures just go perfectly with her words.

Snippets from The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand:

Lomo - Paris Seine

“He didn’t talk, but a man who had Paris in the springtime didn’t need to talk. Better not. Better just to concentrate on the cool breeze off the river, stirring his shaggy black hair, the bridges that stretched away through the centuries, that fresh young green on the trees along the quays. Evening was falling later and later. The sun was only starting to set now, easy blurred shades of pink and gold and gray through low strips of clouds. The sky above them was blue, clear, but blurring toward gray. Half the world looked in love, couples strolling hand in hand along the Seine. At the edge of that sunset, in the west, far away along the river that simmered with pink and gold, the Eiffel Tower rose, gentled by the low haze.”

Lomo - Paris bridge

Lomo - Paris bridge sunset

“Paris was a good place to fight your demons. The streets were so tempting to explore, the gritty realism of their dirt and crowds tempered by that element of fairytale inherent to the city.”

Lomo - Paris crowds

Lomo - Paris flare

All over Paris
April 2014
Camera: Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim
Film: Fuji Velvia, Kodak Elitechrome, Lomo Redscale


Snapshot From a Book: The Chocolate Thief

You know how sometimes you take a picture that perfectly describes a snippet from a book that you’ve read? I love it when that happens. While I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to match the shots that I take with the books that I read, I wanted to share these moments on the blog. When I went to Europe last month, I brought along my Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim film camera with me and was able to go through a couple of rolls. I received the results last Friday. I think some of them turned out great while some left me wondering what the hell was I trying to achieve while taking those pictures. One can never really predict the results when shooting lomo. I guess it’s not surprising that some of these pictures made me think of Laura Florand’s books.

From The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand:

“She liked to just walk all over the city. She really never saw a cobblestone street or an old building she didn’t like.”

Lomo - Montmartre

Lomo - Montmartre

Montmartre, Paris
April 2014
Camera: Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim
Film: Fuji Velvia

I think it’s fitting that both of these pictures have couples in them, perfect for a Laura Florand romance. :)


Giveaway: Interim Goddess of Love Trilogy

Interim Goddess of Love_digital coverQueen of the CluelessIcon of the Indecisive

Mina V. Esguerra’s Interim Goddess of Love trilogy is now available in an omnibus Kindle edition. This is a series set in a fictional college in the Philippines. It has a contemporary setting with some Philippine mythology mixed in. Mina has very generously offered a Kindle edition up for grabs, you just need to have an Amazon account (or be willing to sign up for one) to join. As always, I can’t embed the Rafflecopter widget on my blog so click HERE instead.

Summary of the trilogy:

College sophomore Hannah Maquiling doesn’t know why everyone tells her their love problems. She’s never even had a boyfriend, but that doesn’t stop people from spilling their guts to her, and asking for advice. So maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise when the cutest guy in school tells her that she’s going to have to take on this responsibility — but for all humanity.

The Goddess of Love has gone AWOL. It’s a problem, because her job is to keep in check this world’s obsession with love (and lack of it). The God of the Sun, for now an impossibly handsome senior at an exclusive college just outside of Metro Manila, thinks Hannah has what it takes to (temporarily) do the job.

INTERIM GODDESS OF LOVE: While she’s learning to do this goddess thing, she practices on the love troubles of shy Kathy, who’s got a secret admirer on campus. Hannah’s mission, should she choose to accept it, is to make sure that he’s not a creepy stalker and they find their happily ever after — or at least something that’ll last until next semester. (As if she could refuse! The Sun God asked so nicely. And he’s so, well, hot.)

QUEEN OF THE CLUELESS: If you’ve been feeling neglected by the Goddess of Love lately, don’t worry — Hannah Maquiling, college sophomore, is in training to take over. The Original Goddess is missing, but Hannah is Interim Goddess now, and she should figure out how to solve humanity’s love problems soon. Quin (God of the Sun) is still her mentor, still really hot, but apparently isn’t as honest about his other earthly relationships as she thought. It’s frustrating, and enough to make her check out possibilities with Diego (God of the Sea) and Robbie (Cute Human).

In the meantime, she’s decided to spend some of her precious training time helping to break up a relationship, instead of putting one together. Why? Because the girl in question happens to be her best friend Sol, whose boyfriend is stealing not just from her, but from other people on campus. Sol didn’t exactly summon the Goddess, but this is what power over Love is for, right? Surely it’s not just about matchmaking, but ending doomed relationships too. (Even when it’s not what people want.)

ICON OF THE INDECISIVE: College student Hannah Maquiling, also temporarily working as the Goddess of Love, has had enough of everyone asking for her help when it comes to relationships. It’s her turn to find romance! She deserves it, after serving as matchmaker and confidant to everyone else in Ford River College for the past year. She’s had a crush on handsome senior (and God of the Sun) Quin forever, but he’s destined to fall in love with an extraordinary mortal woman, so she’s figured her chances with him have pretty much dropped to zero.

It’s not like she doesn’t have any options for a classic college romance though. There’s Diego, God of the Sea and Quin’s best friend/enemy. And regular guy Robbie is stepping up, making sure she knows how he feels about her. How hard can it be for a goddess to find someone to love, and be loved in return?

My reviews:
Interim Goddess of Love
Queen of the Clueless
Icon of the Indecisive


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