Chachic's Book Nook


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I’m Off to Experience Life as a Laura Florand Heroine

Eiffel at Night

Photo from my friend who was in Paris recently.

Yes, I am going to the city of the Amour et Chocolat novels, Anna and the French Kiss and Just One Day! I’ve always dreamed of going to Paris and I still can’t believe that I will be able to do so this coming weekend. This is going to be my first time in Europe! I’m flying from Singapore (with a stopover in Dubai) and I’m meeting friends who will be flying from Manila. I’m leaving tonight and I’ll be back on the 27th. We will be going to Paris, Barcelona, Aix en Provence and Milan. It’s taken us months to plan for this trip, what with the visa application and everything else. I know that it’s a once in a lifetime kind of experience (although of course, keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to come back to Europe and hopefully visit other countries) so I am super excited for this trip.

I’m writing this post to let you all know why you wouldn’t be seeing any new posts on the blog in the coming two weeks. I’ll post an update about the trip (including pictures) when I get back. I will be bringing my Kindle with me because I’ll probably be able to do a lot of reading while waiting in airports and train stations and in the flights and train rides. However, I won’t be able to blog since I’m not bringing a laptop with me.

See you all when I get back!


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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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Favorite Literary Couples V

Okay, this post is really late. Every Valentine’s Day, I usually publish a list of my favorite fictional couples from the books that I’ve read in the past year. Unfortunately, the past week has been insanely busy and I wasn’t able to work on my list. During the work week, I was in Kuala Lumpur for a training program and then Saturday is moving day for me. Frankly, I’m exhausted and I’ve barely started unpacking. However, I wanted to put up this post before the end of the weekend. You can check out posts from years past through these links: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. Isn’t it awesome that I’ve been doing this for five years? :)


Image from We Heart It

I’m so happy I discovered Laura Florand’s books early last year (I will be eternally grateful to my friend Michelle for the recommendation) because I adore her romances. They’re sweet, funny and absolutely delectable. Perfect for any reader who enjoys both love stories AND desserts. It’s SO hard for me to choose a favorite couple out of all the books that she’s written because I love them all. But I’ll narrow it down to two couples, one from each of her series: Jaime and Dominique from The Chocolate Touch (Amour et Chocolat) and Allegra and Raoul from A Rose in Winter (La Vie en Roses)

May and Ben from Truly by Ruthie Knox – I had so much fun reading this serial online. Really enjoyed the tension between May and Ben. I loved that eating good food is something that they both enjoy doing. My favorite scenes in the book were whenever Ben wanted to have May try a restaurant with dishes that she’s never had before.

Lily and Rule in the World of the Lupi series by Eileen Wilks – While these two got together fairly early in the series, what I love is how their relationship continued to grow as they learned more about each other. I also enjoyed getting little details about their lives like who prefers cleaning their place vs. doing laundry because of certain personality quirks. I also love that their families are such a huge part of their relationship.

Cassandra and Kaoren in the Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Host – Amazing slow burn romance. I’m a sucker for stoic and unreadable characters because you never know what’s going on under the surface. I’m excited to reread this trilogy and dive back into this world. Also looking forward to reading more of Andrea’s books – and hoping that they will also have love stories that I could root for.

Natividad and Ezekiel from Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier – This is a tentative and understated romance, they haven’t gotten together during the course of the book but I’m being hopeful that things will develop in the sequel. I can’t wait to read it! It would be interesting to find out more about Ezekiel.

Because I can never stick to just five, here are the runners-up:
Carrie and Brian from The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers
Story and Daniel from Officer off Limits by Tessa Bailey
Nyx and Ignifex from Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Cath and Levi from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Tiger Lily and Peter Pan from Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

That’s it for the romances that I fell in love with in the past months. Have you read some of the books mentioned here? Who would make it to your list of favorite couples if you had one? Hope you all had a great Valentine’s weekend. I’m off to read a few more chapters of The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand before going to sleep. Good thing I have some good chocolates on hand.


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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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Best of 2013

Happy New Year, everyone! Ever since I started blogging a few years ago, I’ve been posting my favorite reads whenever the new year rolls around (you can check out my previous posts through these links: 2010, 2011, 2012). 2013 might not have been a fantastic blogging year for me but I feel like it was a great reading year. In no particular order, here are my best of 2013 reads:

A Face Like GlassThe Book ThiefSorrow's KnotTiger LilyAnd All the Stars
All I Ever WantedThe Story GuyNowhere But HomeTrulyMagic Rises

Aside from these, I also discovered and fell in love with three series – one contemporary romance, one adult urban fantasy and one graphic novel series:

Amour et Chocolat by Laura Florand
Kiss the BrideThe Chocolate ThiefThe Chocolate KissThe Chocolate RoseThe Chocolate TouchThe Chocolate Heart

World of the Lupi by Eileen Wilks
Tempting DangerMortal DangerBlood LinesNight SeasonMortal Sins
Blood MagicBlood ChallengeDeath Magic Mortal TiesRitual Magic

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Saga Volume 1Saga Volume 2

I was also able to organize a blog event called EWein Special Ops, which focuses on Elizabeth Wein’s Writing. Click here to go through all the posts. I’m still in the process of replying to comments.

EWein Special Ops

This year, I got the chance to meet in person four blogging buddies based abroad: Michelle of See Michelle Read, Maggie of Young Adult Anonymous, Steph of Steph Su Reads and Alexa of Alexa Loves Books.

with Michelle of See Michelle ReadWith Steph SuAlexa and Chachic

How about the rest of you, what were some of the best books that you read in 2013? What were the blogging highlights of the year for you?


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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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Foodie Reads

Soup and salad from Poulet

If you browse through my Instagram stream, my photos mostly involve books, food and postcards. I think that’s proof enough that I enjoy eating good food just as much as I enjoy reading a good book. So I’m delighted whenever I come across novels that focus on food, whether the characters are chefs or foodies just like me. I love reading books that make me hungry or crave for a certain dish or pastry while I’m reading – which is not always a good thing because there are times when I don’t have access to the type of food described in the book. Nevertheless, I still enjoy reading mouthwatering descriptions to the point where as a reader, you almost feel like you can taste what the author has imagined.

Here are some of my favorite foodie reads:

The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand and the rest of the Amour et Chocolat books – Chocolate and Paris are the main ingredients for Laura Florand’s delicious romances, I can’t get enough of her books.

Truly by Ruthie Knox – Loved how honey was described in this one and it was also great how the characters went on a food trip around New York. I never knew taco could be sexy until I read this!

Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer – It was lovely how Liza Palmer highlighted the warmth and comfort that a well-cooked, favorite meal brings to any person.

Seeing Me Naked by Liza Palmer – Seeing Me Naked wasn’t as focused on food as Nowhere But Home was but I thought it was great that the main character is a pastry chef.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen – I loved how food and cooking was combined with magic in this book.

Dessert and coffee from Tiong Bahru Bakery

What about you, what are your favorite reads that have food as one of the main aspects of the story? I would love to get some good recommendations! I’ve made myself hungry while writing this post but since it’s almost midnight, I should go to bed instead.

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