Texas 2018 Bookstagrams

Hey everyone, I wasn’t able to do a blog update prior to leaving but I was in Texas from end of April to the first week of May to attend a friend’s wedding. The last time I traveled to the US was in 2013 which was also to attend a wedding. And my last long haul flight was in 2015 when I visited Prague and Munich! So it’s been a while since I traveled that far. I was updating my bookstagram account while I was there and I wanted to share those posts here too.

Bookish tote bag haul

Amazon and Gumroad comics and graphic novels haul

Indie bookstore: Wild Detectives

Indie bookstore: Deep Vellum

Deep Vellum haul

Wedding Night Stand book quote

Better at Weddings Than You book quote

I wasn’t able to do that many touristy things but I’m glad I was able to go to two indie bookstores, thank goodness for Uber for letting me go around Dallas. I wouldn’t have been able to visit those stores otherwise! And I also need to pat past Chachic on the back for ordering ahead and taking care of my comics/graphic novels and bookish tote bags haul. Back in Manila now and back to regular programming. I’m still catching up on sleep and errands so I haven’t really been able to read but hopefully that will change soon. What have you all been up to lately? Read any amazing books that you’d like to talk about?

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Favorite Literary Couples 2018

I’m here to present a list that has become one of my blog traditions. Every year on Valentine’s Day, I post a list of fictional couples I’ve loved from books that I’ve read in the previous year. You can check out posts from years past through these links: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. This is the NINTH edition of this post and I can’t believe I’ve been able to keep it up over the years. I feel like one of the oldies in the blogging community. LOL. 😀

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you can probably tell that I’ve found it easier to post bookstagrams and cross-post them here, instead of writing a WordPress blog post from scratch. I have bookstagrams for all five of the couples in my list this year, so I’m sharing them below and you can read the captions on why I had so much fun reading about these characters. Look at me not wasting previously created content! Also no need to repeat myself. Yasss to making life easier, am I right? 😛

Dina and Sean from Clean Sweep, Sweep in Peace, and One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

Christine and Wulfric from Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh

Daphne and Aaron from Better at Weddings Than You by Mina V. Esguerra

Kris and Ringo from You Out of Nowhere by Jay E. Tria

Jett and Adrian from Feels Like Summer by Six de los Reyes

BONUS couple:
Nevada and Rogan from White Hot and Wildfire by Ilona Andrews – I had already featured this couple in my 2015 list but I want to mention them again because they were awesome in the two sequels that came out last year. Can’t wait to hear more news about what direction this series will take!

Runners-up for the past year are:
Cris and Nathan from Ghost of a Feeling by Celestine Trinidad
Elena and Lucien from A Kiss in Lavender by Laura Florand
Britt and JT from Hot in Hellcat Canyon by Julie Ann Long
Feyre and Rhys from A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Yeva (as Beauty) and the Beast from Hunted by Meagan Spooner

What about you, who are your favorite fictional couples from books that you’ve read within the previous year? Are you planning to do anything special for Valentine’s Day? I’m mostly reading romance this February, and trying to alternative between books by foreign authors and romanceclass books (Filipino romance in English). Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! ❤

My Anticipated 2018 Titles

My last blog post was all about my best of 2017 reads, and now it’s time to talk about the new releases that I’m looking forward to in 2018! In no particular order, these are the books that I can’t wait to read this year:

Magic Triumphs Spinning Silver Obsidio Children of Blood and Bone City of Lies

Start Here - ebook The First Time At Firelight Falls A Princess in Theory The Wedding Date Hurts to Love You

Titles that don’t have covers yet:
Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews (Hugh D’ Ambray’s book that will be released before Magic Triumphs)
The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden
Making Up by Lucy Parker
Saving Project Noah by Six de los Reyes
Chasing Mindy by Carla de Guzman

No titles or covers yet but I want the next installments in the following series:
Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews (the new serial has started on their blog but I prefer waiting for the full book)
Chic Manila series by Mina V. Esguerra

Are you also planning to read to any of the titles I listed here? What 2018 releases are you looking forward to?

Book Thingo Podcast: Filthy Things with Me, Kat, Mina and Gio

A few months ago, I blogged about my good friend Kat of Book Thingo visiting Manila and recording a series of romanceclass podcast episodes. All of them have gone live, and the last episode includes me, Kat, author and romanceclass founder Mina V. Esguerra and actor Gio Gahol. We talked about the history of the romanceclass live readings, where actors read excerpts of books in front of authors and readers. It’s funny because what I remember the most about recording this podcast was we had a nice discussion and there was a lot of laughter. But listening to it again was a pleasant surprise because wow, we were able to go into a lot of depth not just about the history of the live readings but also some of the issues that romanceclass faces in the Philippines. Such as empowering female authors and readers by focusing on contemporary romance as a genre, these books reflecting our reality in the Philippines, as well as deeply ingrained colonial mentality and how it affects perception of the books. I hope you guys enjoy listening to it as much as we had fun recording it! As always, would love to hear what you guys think if you do manage to listen to this episode.

Click on the embedded audio file below to listen to the podcast, or on the image to get redirected to the Book Thingo site:
Book Thingo Podcast

I did live tweets while listening to the podcast, check out this thread:

Pictures from that day, swipe left to see everything:

Catch up on the previous romanceclass podcast episodes, sharing the links to the Book Thingo blog posts below:
BT047. Jay E. Tria, Six de los Reyes and Mina V. Esguerra: #romanceclassFLAIR
BT046. Chachic and April: 100% no cheating
BT045. #romanceclass actors: Makes your heart race

Book Thingo Podcast: Chachic and April

Kat, April and I for the podcast - August 2017

Kat, April and I right before we started recording

A few weeks ago, I shared the link to my good friend Kat’s podcast featuring romanceclass actors and live readers. This week’s Book Thingo podcast episode features me and another friend, April (Twitter, Instagram, Blog). Kat, April and I are partners in #romancelandian, which is a play on Romanlandia: “landian” in Filipino means flirting. I’m so glad we got to record this podcast when Kat was in Manila! It’s actually an impromptu discussion, we were just able to squeeze it in after the podcast recording with the live readers.

Book Thingo Podcast - behind the scenes August 2017

April, Me and Mina while Kat recorded the podcast with the live readers

Click on the embedded audio file below to listen to the podcast, or on the image to get redirected to the Book Thingo site:
Book Thingo Podcast

Please let me know what you think if you’ve listened to it! I know some of you don’t like listening to podcasts, but there’s no available transcript for this. As a summary, we talked about how we were introduced to romance, what were our gateway titles, and what are our deal breakers. A bit more info from my end… I mentioned that I started reading romance in my teens, first with Sweet Valley titles then with Bantam’s Love Stories series, two of my favorites from that series were I Do and At First Sight by Elizabeth Chandler. Then I moved on to my mom’s Harlequins and Mills and Boon pocketbooks, having nothing else to read during summer vacation because I didn’t have access to good public libraries. Before #romanceclass started, Summit Books were my go-to when it came to Filipino romances. And of course, we also talked about Mina V. Esguerra’s Fairy Tale Fail (my review) as our introduction to romanceclass books. It will always have a special place in my heart because I felt like the story was a slice out of my life, like that kind of romance could have happened to me or one of my friends.

Some of my favorite romance authors that I mentioned were Ilona Andrews, Julie James, Laura Florand and Lucy Parker. I feel like they all have their own unique way of writing and no one writes like they do. I love how Kat said that she owes me for introducing her to Ilona Andrews. I got her started on their writing by sending her a gift of Burn for Me and now she’s a fan. I love it when friends fall in love with the same books that I also love.

That’s it! I really enjoyed this discussion and I hope you did too (if you listened to it). Tune in for more Book Thingo podcasts that were recorded in Manila. They will be going live in the coming weeks.

Book Thingo podcast - group pic August 2017

Kat, April and I. Together with Mina, Six and Jay (guests for the next podcast episode)

Character Profiles: You Out of Nowhere by Jay E. Tria

Earlier this week, the title, cover and synopsis for the first romanceclassFLAIR title was revealed. Click here to see the post about You Out of Nowhere by Jay E. Tria. Now for something fun, here are character profiles for the heroine and hero:

You Out of Nowhere - Kris

You Out of Nowhere - synopsis

You Out of Nowhere - Ringo

Join the You Out of Nowhere blog tour from November 13-17! Sign up HERE.

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About FLAIR

romanceclassFlairFLAIR (or #romanceclassFlair) is a new, ongoing project and it’ll bring you steamy contemporary romance (in English) by Filipino authors. There are four new titles from four different #romanceclass authors about to be released, and these books will be unapologetically sexy. What can you expect from Flair? HEAs, Filipino characters, fresh telling of familiar tropes, lots of heat.

Flair is not a publisher, but there is a single Flair team that is working with the authors on all the books. The team is composed of #romanceclass community authors, readers, editors, designers. Follow Romanceclass Books on FB, romanceclassbooks on IG, and #romanceclass on Twitter to get the updates!

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About the Author

Jay E. Tria is inspired by daydreams, celebrity crushes, a childhood fascination of Japanese drama and manga, and an incessant itch to travel. She writes contemporary young adult and new adult romance. Sometimes, paranormal fantasy too.

Visit her website http://www.jayetria.com.

Email: jayetria@gmail.com
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Wattpad: jayetria

#romanceclass Book Cover Photo Shoot

Last July, I was able to join a romanceclass photo shoot for some of the authors’ book covers. I was lucky enough to be a part of it a second time around when another shoot was held last Sunday. romanceclass books are indie pubbed so they rely on stock photos or illustrations for their cover designs. They came up with the brilliant idea to pool resources and co-sponsor photo shoots with Filipino models or theater actors as cover models. Yay, for more Filipinos on book covers! You can learn more about the initiative through this link: romanceclasscovers. Some photos are available for purchase in the catalog.

So the photo shoot last Sunday had four cover models with different sets. They changed into outfits styled by Alex Lapa, who came up with the styles based on character descriptions. The cover models were real life couple Celine Bengzon and Bibo Reyes, as well as Fred Lo and Migs Almendras. This is actually a historic moment for the community because this is the first ever cover shoot for a male/male romance! So exciting. Here are some outtakes from the phone:

Swipe left to see all the photos. I love how these turned out on my phone, and I’m pretty sure the final versions will be even better. I can’t wait to see the resulting book covers! You can see more pictures of the shoot on Veronica’s blog over at Brain Tabs, here and here.

Here are some of my favorite behind the scenes photos from last Sunday, always a good time when you’re with romanceclass people:

romanceclasscovers Sept 2017

romanceclasscovers Sept 2017 v2

romanceclasscovers Sept 2017 v2

romanceclasscovers Sept 2017 v4

romanceclasscovers Sept 2017 v5

Here are photos of authors Mina V. Esguerra and H. Bentham squished between cover models Fred and Migs:

romanceclasscovers Sept 2017 v7

From Mina’s Instagram, here’s a shot of Ben and I being silly while we copy the cover model’s pose for Iris After the Incident:

Meron pala nito @romanceclasscovers #romanceclass

A post shared by Mina V. Esguerra (@minavesguerra) on

Also, a group pic of the romanceclass people present there, together with the cover models:

And last but not the least, here I am with Fred and Migs, first time to have a pic taken with them!

romanceclasscovers Sept 2017 v8

After the photo shoot, four of us had dinner had Manam, a Filipino fusion restaurant that has quickly become a favorite of mine. Here are some pics of the meal we had:

Sunday well-spent, wouldn’t you say? 🙂 Hope you all had an awesome weekend and you’re having a good week so far.

Podcast in the Morning, Book Signing in the Afternoon

Shenanigans from last Saturday were continued on Tuesday when I met up with my friends Kat of Book Thingo and Mina of romanceclass to record another podcast, this time with Filipino theater actor Gio Gahol who was also the first male actor to do the live readings. We got to talk about how the live readings first started as an experiment when Mina asked Gio and Rachel to do it, and how it has exploded into something that has become a favorite activity of romanceclass authors and readers alike. It was an interesting conversation because all of us had different perspectives: Mina and Gio were right there from the start of the live readingers almost two years ago, I had only attended one live reading event (Feels So Hot), while Kat has only been able to watch the videos.

Swipe left to see all the pics! I must say that seeing the live readings in person is definitely SO MUCH BETTER than just watching videos of them, because part of the fun is seeing the reactions of the audience. That’s probably the main reason why I enjoy the live readings, seeing how the audience becomes overwhelmed with the emotions that they’re feeling, which I also think that’s something uniquely Filipino. Even if these live readings were replicated abroad, I don’t think the actors would get quite the same enthusiasm as they do here in the Philippines. And I also think both the readers and the actors feed off each other’s energies, a symbiotic relationship of sorts. 😀 I also really love how two different local art groups overlap with the live readings: theater and romance books. With the connection with the theater actors, romanceclass community members also attend plays or events that include the romanceclass live readers. And hopefully theater folks are also now more interested in romance because of these events?

I’m going to stop here because I’m doing my best to just write about my own point of view because I don’t want to spoil the podcast for you guys! I witnessed it being recorded but it will still be so much fun to listen to it.

Some behind the scenes fun, care of Mina’s Instagram account:

After recording the podcast, we headed to UP Town Center where we met up with our friend Honey. We got to drop by the Kevin Kwan book signing! Both Kat and I haven’t read his books but we’re both planning to. Thanks for our copies of Crazy Rich Asians and for hosting us during the signing, Honey! My mom and my aunt are fans of Kevin Kwan’s books and I got him to sign one book each for them. I’m still trying to read more books by Filipino authors for #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy this month so I’ll try to pick up Kevin Kwan’s books after August.

Last but not the least, we had a lovely dinner where we got to catch up on everything related to books and life. I have no pictorial evidence of the dinner we had but here’s coffee and cake instead:

Hope you’re all having a good week so far! In case you missed it, I created a Twitter thread of Filipino romance titles in English that are currently on sale:

Some of them aren’t 0.99usd anymore but still pretty affordable! And I’ve added a few more titles that have gone on sale since I created that thread. I’ve been one clicking like crazy and stocking up on books that have been on my wishlist.

Coffee in the Morning, Podcast in the Afternoon

My good friend Kat of Book Thingo is based in Sydney but she’s on vacation in Manila for a few days. I believe Kat and I first bonded over our mutual love of Melina Marchetta, and then we moved on to discussing and recommending romance titles. Mostly online, because she’s in Sydney and I was in Singapore at that time. Although we did get to meet in person last year. On Saturday morning, another bookish friend Honey organized a coffee tour for us at Toby’s Estate roastery here in Manila. It was such an awesome experience, worth my while to wake up early on a Saturday morning! Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a morning person AT ALL. I talk more about the coffee tour (and of course include pictures) in this post:

As always, swipe left to see everything! In the afternoon, we met up with romanceclass people to record podcasts. I thought I was just going to listen in, and observe while the rest of them do the recordings with Kat but hey, fellow Filipino blogger April and I got to record our own. We talked about reading, romance, and enjoying the dirty bits in the books we read. 😀 It was a lot of fun, mostly felt like just chatting with friends since I talk to both Kat and April on a regular basis anyway. Pictures here:

So excited to hear the final version of all the podcasts on Book Thingo. We wrapped up the day with dinner at Manam, a restaurant in the area that serves delicious Filipino food. If I was nearer to that place, I would definitely come back more often.

That was my Saturday, which was obviously a really good day for me. I love being able to spend more time with bookish people now that I’m in Manila because that’s something that I didn’t get to do abroad. Sunday was a quiet day spent at home, and now Monday is here! How was your weekend? Were you able to read or do anything book-related? 🙂 Have you read any books that you’d like to rave about? I haven’t been able to sit down and write reviews recently but I really want to do so soon! Let’s see how it goes.

New Blog Banner by Clarissa Ines

The last time my blog banner was updated was in 2013. As much as I loved the previous design, I wanted a fresh new look for the blog! So I contacted Filipino graphic artist Clarissa Ines to request for her to design artwork specifically for Chachic’s Book Nook. She has designed book covers for romanceclass titles in the past, some examples of which are:

Bucket List to Love Learning to Fall - Anvil Promdi Heart

The Kitchen When It Sizzles What About Today Tame The Kitten

Aren’t they pretty? She doesn’t just design book covers, she’s a romanceclass reader too! That was a pretty good sign that we’d get along well. 🙂 I love pretty things but unfortunately, I can only draw stick figures so I relied on Cla’s expertise in the design process. She gave me some sketches to start with, basically to choose what design to use as a base before moving forward:

chachic-sketches

I loved all of these! I had to stare at them for a long while before I could decide what to go for. Of course they’re all book-themed, but I feel like all of these designs would have worked well for my blog. Cla said the third one was actually based on my bookstagrams and flatlays. 😛 After seriously considering my options, I went with the second one because I love how it’s a throwback to Cla’s work in designing book covers. I gave her some details that I wanted to be included on the design and she got started on it. She does her own calligraphy and she mentioned that it will be included as part of the design, isn’t that awesome? This was the black and white digital artwork that I got as an update:

Cla Ines blog banner draft

No colors yet but even in just black and white, I think the design is already pretty. 😛 I told her that I would love to have a color scheme that we call “malamig sa mata” in Filipino which I think can roughly translate to cool colors that are pleasant to look at. I said I preferred blues and purples, and she really followed my suggestions! This was the next update, which is a colored version:

Cla Ines blog banner - draft color

I absolutely love the color scheme she used, and look at all the details in the book spine. I had mentioned earlier that I would love for the book cover to have the feel of an antique fairy tale book and I think Cla’ss design is spot-on. I can’t get over how beautifully detailed the book spine and cover edges are. I also asked for cake and coffee to be included because you probably all know by now that I equally love both food and books. 🙂 The genres in the book pile that the girl is sitting on are the genres that I mostly read (with a special shout out to romanceclass). This is close to the final design and she just needed to add in some textures and tweak a few details to get to this:

ChachicsBookNook 2017 banner FINAL

IT’S GORGEOUS! I’m so happy with the final outcome, I told Cla that I’ll probably use this blog banner until I decide to give up on WordPress (which isn’t too much of a strech, given how seldom I blog nowadays :P), and I can also use variations of the design in all my other social media accounts. As a bonus, she sent me the full book cover design that she used as the base before cropping and tilting it:

Cla Ines blog banner - book spread

It was a real pleasure working with Cla because she’s super accommodating, she really paid attention to my requests and incorporated them into the design. If you need to commission graphic art, then I highly recommend that you reach out to Cla because I’m sure she’ll do an amazing job like she did with my banner. THANK YOU SO MUCH, Cla! You are the best. 😀

YAY, now my blog looks amazing! I hope this encourages me to write even more posts for this blog. 🙂 What do you guys think of this new blog banner? Would love to hear from you, and I’m sure Cla will also appreciate getting some feedback.