Chachic's Book Nook


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Choco Chip Hips by Agay Llanera

Choco Chip HipsI found out about Choco Chip Hips by Agay Llanera when I saw friends posting about it on Goodreads. I was immediately curious because of the title. I read the premise and it also looked intriguing. I haven’t read anything else by the author and I thought this title would be a good one to start with. It’s Filipino YA and that’s something that I’ll always be interested to try.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Jessie, a baking aficionado, is shy, overweight, and worries too much about what people think. But one summer, a family emergency makes her realize that life is too short to live it on autopilot. Taking her life by the reins, she embarks on a journey that involves ditching the apron for her tank top, as she hip-hop dances her way to new friendships, stronger family ties, and into her school’s most elite club.

I enjoyed reading Choco Chip Hips and I know that I would have fallen in love with this book if I read it as a teen. I’m so glad readers are getting more Filipino fiction nowadays. I liked Jessie’s character and could relate to a lot of things in her life. Like Jessie, I also LOVE desserts (I think that’s obvious if you follow my Instagram account, which is basically bookstagrams and foodstagrams). I thought it was cute that Jessie’s dad runs a local dessert and cake shop. If it was a real place, I would have dropped by their store! Baking is also what brought Jessie and her best friend Kim together. The downside of eating too much sweets and not exercising is that Jessie is overweight. I can just imagine how difficult that is for a teenage girl to deal with. I also struggle with trying to lose weight and living a healthy lifestyle. So that’s another thing that made me empathize with Jessie. I could totally understand the beating that her self-esteem gets because of her weight issues. I thought that aspect of the book was handled very realistically, even with how crude Filipinos can get when it comes to weight-related topics. People here in Singapore are always surprised when I tell them that the first thing Filipino relatives notice when they see you is how your weight has changed. The last time I was home, an uncle said he couldn’t take my picture because he doesn’t have a wide angle lens (I actually thought it was funny but hey, I’m not a sensitive teenager). A non-spoilery snippet that I really liked:

I looked at the mug of thick, hot chocolate, like I was seeing it for the first time. The sides of the cup were smudged with dark brown liquid, dotted with grains. To get this thick consistency, you had to melt the tablea in water with milk, stirring the pot tirelessly with a wooden molonillo. You whisked and whisked until your arms protested, until the ingredients melded in a rich and silky brown. It was a labor of love.

I pulled the mug closer, bowed my head, closed my eyes, and inhaled. It smelled – what was it, exactly? – full. It smelled so many things: dark, earthy, and fruity. I held the rim to my lips and took a long, thoughtful sip.

“It’s not as sweet as you’re used to,” Dad said apologetically.

It tasted a hint of the sweet, a hint of the bitter – the way life always had been.

Argh, where can I get a nice cup of tablea hot chocolate in Singapore? Another thing that I could relate to was how Jessie enjoyed dancing. I’m a frustrated hip-hop dancer and it’s always made me sad that I don’t have the talent when it comes to singing and dancing. I even enrolled in a hip-hop class during one of my summer breaks in high school. The main thing I learned was that I don’t have what it takes to be dancer. Inspired by stories of how great a dancer her mom was back in the day, Jessie tries hip-hop dancing and discovers how much she enjoys it. I thought it was pretty awesome how she decides to break out of her shell and do something different. In the process, she gains some of her confidence back and learns more about herself. I loved how supportive Jessie’s dad is in everything that she does, the two of them were really a team. I also though both Kim and Dave were good friends to Jessie, in their own ways. I enjoyed seeing their interactions. One minor quibble that I have is that I felt like the romance in this book was half-baked. On one hand, it was refreshing that Jessie’s growth as a person was centered on herself and not on another person. But on the other hand, I felt that the story could have been stronger if there weren’t any hints of romance. I would have been satisfied with a blossoming friendship instead. That was a minor issue for me and it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of Choco Chip Hips. Honestly, I believe this is a well-written piece of Filipino fiction. It felt like the author knew what she was talking about when it came to baking and dancing, two of the major themes of the book. I will be adding this title to my list of recommendations written by Filipino authors. I’m just not sure how well the story will work for non-Filipino readers because some Filipino words are in there but no definitions were included.

Choco Chip Hips - with cookies

I couldn’t resist getting some cookies while I was in the middle of this book. They’re from Cookies For Sid: chocolate chip, earl grey and chocolate mint.

Other reviews:
Will Read For Feels
Le Bibliophile


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#BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy – let’s read more Filipino books!

BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy

August is Buwan ng Wika in the Philippines, which is the month dedicated to celebrating the Filipino language. To coincide with this, a campaign has been launched by Edgar Calabia Samar, author of the Janus Silang series, to encourage people to read Filipino books. #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy can be roughly translated as “Month of Filipino Authors”. Anyone can participate by using this hashtag on various social media platforms – Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

I’m going to take this chance to read more books written by Filipino authors. I actually have quite a few of them in my TBR pile, I just haven’t found time to read them yet. So far, I’ve made two posts on Instagram for this campaign: Una and Miguel by Lilledeshan Bose and Shine by Candy Gourlay. I plan to do a round-up towards the end of this month.

Of course it feels like the target market for this campaign is Filipino readers but I’m hoping that this will also encourage non-Filipino readers to pick up books by Filipino authors. I wrote a list of some of my recommended titles for TTT last month. Or feel free to ask me for recommendations if this is something you’re interested in!


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Book Haul: August 7

Just a quick book haul post at the start of this long weekend. We’re having a four-day weekend to celebrate Singapore’s 50th year of independence. Happy Birthday, Singapore! :) I would have loved to take advantage of this long weekend by traveling but flights are so expensive because I wasn’t able to book anything months in advance. So I’m looking forward to a weekend of just relaxing and reading books.

Earlier this week, the latest installment in my favorite urban fantasy series was released: Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews!

book haul - Magic Shifts

I had to take a pic of this book with my blog header because the Kate Daniels series was one of the inspirations for my current header’s design. I’ve been really good about waiting to read Magic Shifts because I knew that once I start, I wouldn’t be able to stop. I’m going to devour it this weekend!

Before the long weekend started, I got book mail from the distributor Pansing yesterday:

Pansing book haul - Aug 7

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil
A Thousand Nights by EK Johnston

An Aussie YA novel and an ARC of a retelling of Arabian Nights! I haven’t tried both of these authors and I’m looking forward to doing so. I also have Melissa Keil’s other novel, Life in Outer Space, which I grabbed from the SG Book Deals warehouse sale. I really think it’s pretty cool that some Aussie titles pop up in SG. As I mentioned in a recent TTT post, I love reading retellings so it would be interesting to see what A Thousand Nights will be like.

What about the rest of you, have you acquired any new books lately? What are you planning to read this coming weekend?


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Top Ten Favorite Fairy Tale Retellings

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. I’m a huge fan of fairy tale retellings. I love seeing an author take the familiar elements of a fairy tale and make it his or her own story. So when I found out about this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, I jumped at the chance to make a list of my faves.

Beauty and the Beast:
Beauty by Robin McKinley Cruel Beauty

Cinderella:
Ella Enchanted Six Impossible Things

The Goose Girl:
Goose Girl_Alison Jay

The Six Swans:
Daughter of the Forest

Sleeping Beauty:
Enchantment

Peter Pan:
Tiger Lily

Last but certainly not the least, I love how Laura Florand weaves flavors of some fairy tales into her stories:
Once Upon a Rose The Chocolate Kiss

What are your favorite fairy tale retellings? Or which fairy tales would you love to be retold?

Pico de Loro - Beauty and the Beast

My copy of Robin McKinley’s Beauty with Ipanema Beauty and the Beast flipflops in the background


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Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

In my cover reveal post for Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy, I quoted a Twitter conversation where I mentioned that I would be thrilled if these two hockey romance authors worked on a collab title. Given how much I enjoyed both the Ivy Years and the Off-Campus series by these authors, I was pretty sure that I’d enjoy Him. I was lucky enough to receive an early review copy of this title and I was so glad it was sent out just as the weekend started. That gave me enough time to read it without worrying about real life getting in the way. As is the usual case lately, it took me a while to write a review so Him has been released since then so feel free to grab a copy of it!

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

HimThey don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions — can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend… and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.

I had so much fun reading Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy’s Him. So much so that the next day, my flatmate asked me what I was reading in the middle of the night because she said she could hear laughter from my room. Yep, some of the scenes in this book really made me laugh and smile along with the characters. It’s hard not to when Wes and Jamie tease the hell out of each other. I really liked that they have a solid friendship that was formed through years of spending summers together in hockey camp. They come from different family backgrounds but they’ve always had hockey to bond over. That friendship get a break after Wes walks away because he mistakenly thinks that he ruined what they had with a careless bet. On the other hand, Jamie didn’t think that incident was a big deal and was more hurt by the silence from Wes more than anything else. After reconnecting at a championship game, Wes decides to join Jamie as a coach in their old hockey camp. Surprisingly, there wasn’t that much angst in their story as these two guys change the status of their relationship from friends into something more. It felt like a natural and realistic transition of friends to lovers, with a nice summery vibe while they’re both having fun coaching a sport they’re both passionate about.

I thought it was nice that Jamie and Wes had such distinct personalities, that were contrasting to a certain extent. Jamie is an easygoing, California surfer type of guy while Wes is more serious and prickly. I think their personalities are reflective of their upbringing. Jamie comes from a big family who supports him in basically everything, which is saying something considering how he makes some pretty big decisions during the duration of this book. Wes comes from a wealthy but cold and uptight family. He makes a point of keeping people at a distance because of this. I felt so bad that Wes doesn’t have a warm and welcoming family but at least he has Jamie in his life. I wish there were more scenes that had Wes interacting with Jamie’s family because they’re awesome. I also really liked Jamie’s friendship with Holly and how understanding she is of his predicament. Even with their career decisions, these two guys were in different places. Wes was totally committed to being the best professional hockey player that he can be, while Jamie was indecisive about playing pro. I really don’t know much about hockey but I liked that these aspects of their stories were fleshed out because it’s something that guys their age think about. Also, these career decisions affected their relationship as well.

Him was an engaging read that had me rooting for Wes and Jamie right from the start. Sexy, funny, sweet and swoon-worthy! To be perfectly honest, M/M sports romance wasn’t something that was at the top of my list of books to read. I tried it because Sarina Bowen wrote The Understatement of the Year in the middle of a series that had earlier M/F books. That was the first M/M book that I read and thus has a special place in my heart given how much I cared for the characters. So yay Sarina for that strategy! Him is only the second M/M romance that I’ve read and it solidified my resolve to read more books like it. If M/M isn’t really your thing, I still recommend giving Him a try. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Elle and Sarina will work on another collab title because I would love to read more from them!

Other reviews:
SmexyBooks
Me and My Books

Him2


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Book Haul: SG Book Deals

Last weekend, I posted an announcement of the SG Book Deals warehouse sale and today, I dropped by to check it out. I wanted to go today because it’s the first day of the sale and I was thinking there would be more stocks than any other day. I had to figure out how to get to the place – took the MRT to Bishan and then took the bus – so I arrived there sometime in the late afternoon. I was surprised to see so many people hunting for books! Originally, I wanted to buy kiddie books for my godsons but looks like they ran out of good titles. They said they will replenish stocks tomorrow but I don’t think I would have time to go.

SG Book Deals - August 2015

SG Book Deals - August 2015 - 2

SG Book Deals - August 2015 - 3

They’re having an SG50 promo where you can fill one of these boxes with as many books that can fit into it and just pay SGD50! Of course, people took advantage of this and I saw a lot of them holding boxes while browsing around.

SG Book Deals - August 2015 - 4

I didn’t fill a box but the sellers were kind enough to give me an eco bag while I was browsing. My book haul includes these titles:

SG Book Deals - August 2015 - book haul 1

SG Book Deals - August 2015 - book haul 2

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Mouse Bird Snake Wolf by David Almond and Dave McKean
Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil
Preloved by Shirley Marr
Blood Song by Rhiannon Hart
Blood Storm by Rhiannon Hart
Red Ink by Julie Mayhew
West End Girls by Jenny Colgan
Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend by Jenny Colgan
The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O’Porter
The Prince Who Walked with Lions by Elizabeth Laird
Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart
Salem Brownstone: All Along the Watchtowers by John Harris Dunning and Nikhil Singh

FYI, I wiped the floor before putting down the books. :P I think it looks nicer when you can see all the covers. I thought it was awesome that they had some Aussie YA titles! I also couldn’t resist getting copies of two favorite books, Code Name Verity and A Monster Calls. I don’t have this particular edition of the former and I can always give away copies of the latter.

The sale will last until August 10 so I’m including the details again, in case you want to check it out:
SG BOOK DEALS WAREHOUSE SALE POSTER

Event details:
Date: 1-10 August 2015
Time: 11am to 7pm (Weekends & Public Holiday); 11am to 2pm (Weekdays)
Venue: No. 438 Ang Mo Kio Ave 10, Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park 1, Singapore 569619 (Opposite Pathlight School, above Rozel Furnishing Store)


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Impromptu SG Indie Bookstore Hop

Last weekend, I did an impromptu bookstore hop. I’ve been meaning to visit Littered With Books ever since I saw pictures of it pop up on my Instagram explore page. I finally got to do so last Saturday.

Here are pictures of Littered With Books, located in the Tanjong Pagar area:
Littered With Books 1

Littered With Books 2

Littered With Books 3

Littered With Books 4

I bought one of these canvas bags from the store, which brings my bookish tote bag collection to a grand total of two.

Littered With Books 5

I’ve always loved this quote because books + travel ♥♥

On Sunday, I met up with friends for brunch at Forty Hands cafe and since we were already in the area, we dropped by Books Actually and Woods in the Books.

Forty Hands

Brunch at Forty Hands. Poached eggs with mushroom and spinach. Bacon. Mocha.

BooksActually - July 2015

BooksActually - July 2015 - corner

BooksActually - July 2015 - cats

Cats of BooksActually

BooksActually - Math Paper Press

Books published by Math Paper Press.

Last but not the least, we dropped by a bookstore specializing in children’s books:
Woods in the Books - July 2015

It was a fun weekend because I got to visit these three indie bookstores even though I didn’t plan it. What about you, have you visited any nice bookstores lately?

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