Chachic's Book Nook


7 Comments

Dare Island Series by Virginia Kantra

Virginia Kantra’s Dare Island series was one of my favorite discoveries last year. I got the recommendation for this series from one of my favorite contemporary romance authors: Laura Florand. I’ve also seen positive reviews about the Dare Island books from my friend Brandy and that has just made me more curious. I love romances that don’t just focus on the couple but also highlights the important people in their lives. The Fletcher family is a very close-knit family. Growing up as Marine brats, the Fletcher siblings knew they had to support each other – they even had a motto: “back to back to back”. I liked how the stories in the series are so different from each other because of the distinct personalities of the characters. I had a lot of fun reading about the Fletchers and the cozy island where they’ve made their home. I’ve never been to the Outer Banks of North Carolina but it seems like a lovely place based on the descriptions in the books. I like the small town vibe of the island, with everyone sticking their noses into everyone else’s business but people are also willing to help out when the need arises.

Carolina HomeCarolina Home
I grabbed a copy of Carolina Home back when it was a Kindle deal. I was just waiting for the right mood to strike before I dived into it. I was in a contemporary romance kind of mood one night last December so I decided to start reading Carolina Home over dinner. It was very easy to get into and I was immediately absorbed. I read it on my commute back to the flat and stayed up late to finish reading the whole thing. I basically gave up sleep and read the book in one sitting because it’s such an enjoyable read. Matt is firmly settled in Dare Island, taking care of his teenage son and helping out his aging parents. Allison has never really put down roots but she fell in love with the island and wants to see if there’s a chance for her to become a part of this place. Aside from that, Matt grew up in a very supportive, close-knit family while Allison feels the need to keep a distance from her controlling parents. I like the contrast between Matt and Allison and how well they fit together in spite of their differences.

Carolina GirlCarolina Girl
Another great romance set in Dare Island! I loved seeing more of the Fletcher family in this one. I was a bit frustrated with Meg for being so blind about her boyfriend Derek’s faults, how she made up excuses about him and how she kept insisting that they have a good relationship. But overall, that’s just a minor quibble. I liked how driven Meg is, from getting an undergrad degree in Harvard to an MBA in Columbia to climbing up the ranks in the corporate ladder. Meg and Sam have so much history between them even if they haven’t seen each other in years. I really enjoyed seeing them reconnect with each other and also with the island community after being away for so long. It was interesting to read about how they’re both trying to figure out what they should be doing with their lives, career wise. I found their romance sweet and satisfying. By this point, the Dare Island series has hooked me and I happily succumbed to hours of pleasurable reading.

Carolina ManCarolina Man
I have liked the brief glimpses that I’ve seen of both Luke and Kate in the earlier books and I was more than happy to find out how their romance unfolds. Luke’s life suddenly changes when he gains custody of ten-year-old Taylor, a daughter he had no idea about until his high school girlfriend passes away. With family being a strong theme in the Dare Island series, it was no surprise that Luke and Kate’s story is intertwined with Taylor’s. I love how Taylor instantly becomes Luke’s number one priority the moment he finds out about her. I also liked how Kate develops a relationship not just with Luke but also with Taylor. All three – Luke, Kate and Taylor – have been through difficult situations and I wanted things to work out for them. What I appreciated about this book was that even if the characters have carried heavy burdens, the story never gets too dark. There’s a nice balance of grief and sorrow vs. hope and happiness. I think that applies to the other books in the series too.

Carolina BluesCaroline Blues
Caroline Blues is the first book in the series where the main characters aren’t part of the Fletcher family. It’s still set in the same town and both Jack and Lauren know the family well so we still see a lot of them in this installment. Jack and Lauren are new to the island – with Jack just settling in as Chief of Police and Lauren taking a much-needed break to restart her writing. I liked seeing Dare Island from their points of view, which is different from how locals see it. Their romance is a bit tentative, with both of them trying to keep things casual at the start but eventually developing deeper feelings for each other. Similar to the earlier books in the series, Caroline Blues is a heartwarming romance about two flawed characters set in cozy Dare Island.

I gobbled up the whole series in one weekend, that’s how much I enjoyed reading Virginia Kantra’s writing. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Carolina Dreaming, which will be released sometime this year. Recommended for fans of contemporary romance set in small towns, similar to books by Liza Palmer (especially Nowhere But Home) and Sarah Addison Allen.


17 Comments

My 2015 Anticipated Reads

Blog, what blog? It seems like I’ve forgotten that I have a blog because of everything that’s been going on lately. I’ve been drowning in work so I haven’t been reading or blogging as much as I would want to. Before January ends, I wanted to post this list of 2015 releases that I’m looking forward to:

2015 Anticipated Reads

Once Upon a Rose by Laura Florand – Which I already have a copy of, woohoo! Laura Florand is one of my auto-read romance authors so I’m always excited to pick up any of her books.

Carolina Dreaming by Virginia Kantra – I’m glad I read the Dare Island books this year because it’s always a pleasant experience to discover a new romance author to love. I read the first four books in the series in one gulp and I’m really looking forward to the next one.

Suddenly One Summer by Julie James – I’m always up for a Julie James novel because she writes the best banter. Reading her books is similar to watching a chick flick.

Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer – I loved Nowhere But Home and couldn’t wait to read another book from this author.

Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews – Of course the next installment in my favorite urban fantasy series is on my highly anticipated reads for next year.

Sequel to Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews – I was super excited to read Burn for Me and I wasn’t disappointed. I enjoyed it so much that I’ve already read it twice. Can’t wait for the sequel.

The Pyramids of London by Andrea K. Host – I LOVED both the Touchstone trilogy and Medair duology last year so I’m pretty curious about Andrea’s next release. This is the first installment in a brand-new series.

White Raven, Black Dove by Elizabeth Wein – I’ve been an EWein fangirl for years and I will eagerly read whatever she writes.

Pure Magic by Rachel Neumeier – Really enjoyed reading Black Dog last year and I want to find out more about the world and the characters in this series.

The last Raven Cycle novel by Maggie Stiefvater – I skipped reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue last year because I was thinking it would be better to read all four books next year.

The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen – I very happily dived into Sarina Bowen’s Ivy Years last year and loved the reading experience. It’s such a good New Adult series and I can’t wait to read the next installment.

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord – I really enjoyed Emery Lord’s debut novel Open Road Summer and it was one of my favorite books in 2014. I’ve seen bloggers posting about her sophomore novel and have been hearing good things.

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios – I’ve never read anything by this author but this is a title that has been generating some buzz and it would be interesting to see what I’ll think of it.

These are the books that I’m excited to read this year and I’m sure I’ll add more titles to this as the year progresses. How about you, what are some of your anticipated titles in 2015?


15 Comments

Best of 2014

Happy New Year, everyone! Ever since I started blogging, 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 and 2013. Usually, I post this list on the first day of the year but I wasn’t able to do so because I wanted to make the most out of my remaining days in Manila and then I had to fly back to Singapore and go back to work this week. My brain is still trying to catch up since it’s still in vacation mode. Without further ado, here are my best of 2014 books:

Black Dog Touchstone Trilogy Medair The Chocolate Temptation It Happened One Wedding

Open Road Summer Wildlife The Winter Sea Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews Burn for Me

Aside from these books, I also discovered two series that I loved:

The Ivy Series by Sarina Bowen
The Year We Fell Down The Year We Hid Away Blonde Date The Understatement of the Year

Dare Island by Virginia Kantra
Carolina Home Carolina Girl Carolina Man Carolina Blues

I really can’t wait for the next installments in these two series! From a blogging perspective, 2014 was the year I hosted Amour et Florand. This was an event that focused on Laura Florand’s writing because she has become one of my most favorite authors. Click here to view all the posts.

Amour et Florand

I was also able to (finally) meet in person Singapore book blogger Liyana of LiyanaLand.

Liyana Meet Up

I started two new blog features called Snapshot from a Book and Book to Movie but I don’t have a lot of posts under them since I’m all about blogging with no pressure. Other big things that occurred in 2014 were my move to a different flat and my first ever visit to Europe (links to my posts: Paris, Barcelona, Aix-ex-Provence and Milan).

Aix-en-Provence - Bibliothèque Méjanes

How about the rest of you, what were some of the best books that you read in 2014? What were the blogging or reading highlights of the year for you?


6 Comments

Top Ten Goals/Resolutions For 2015

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is goals and resolutions for the coming year. Here are some of mine:

Participate in more Top Ten Tuesday topics. There are so many interesting topics for Top Ten Tuesday that I wanted to participate in but I kept missing them because of various reasons like working overtime and then crashing when I get back to the flat. I should find ways of preparing posts in advance.

Read more physical books from my own TBR pile. I have a pile of unread physical copies both in Manila and in Singapore. During my first year in Singapore, I kept bringing back books whenever I went to visit Manila because I find it comforting to have a full bookshelf where I’m based. But I need to be better about reading them! It’s just so much easier for me to read ebooks nowadays because I usually bring my Kindle with me wherever I go.

My bookshelf in Singapore

My bookshelf in Singapore

Buy ebooks instead of paperbacks and hardcovers. This is connected to my earlier point – I need to stop buying print copies to keep my physical TBR pile from growing. I don’t have a permanent place in Singapore because I’m just renting a room in a flat and I keep moving when the lease ends so it’s such a pain to pack and unpack books whenever I move.

Read more Filipino fiction. I’m making an exception in buying physical books when it comes to Filipino fiction. I would happily buy books written by Filipino authors to show my support. I’ve bought several of them during my current vacation and I’m looking forward to reading them.

Visit other blogs and leave more comments. Back when I had more time for blogging, I used to read all of the posts in the blogs that I follow and comment as much as I can. I haven’t been able to do that for ages but I do visit blogs when I see links shared on Twitter or Facebook. I’m going to try and visit and comment on more blogs next year because I know how fun it is to receive blog comments.

Reread more old favorites. I’ve reread some of my favorite books in the past few months and I should try to do that more often in 2015.

Host another blog event focusing on a favorite author. I LOVE promoting books written by favorite authors, which is why I’ve hosted events like Amour et Florand, EWein Special Ops, Marchetta Madness and Queen’s Thief Week. If time permits, I would love to do a similar event next year. Two authors I would love feature are Robin McKinley and Ilona Andrews.

Keep posting bookstagram pictures. I love Instagram and it’s a lot easier for me to post pictures of books rather than publish a blog post. It’s also fun for me to interact with bloggers and authors on Instagram. If you have a smart phone, I think it’s a good social network to sign up for because it’s pretty easy to use. I also re-post some of Instagram pictures here on the blog to brighten up my posts.

Instagram - December 2014

Visit one of the places from my Top Ten Places I Want to Visit Because of Books. I would love to make this happen but I’m not sure if it’s possible. I really, really want to visit Europe again next year but I have no concrete plans yet. I still need to find friends to travel with.

Keep blogging without pressure. We all know that blogging takes a lot of time and effort. We keep doing it because we love reading and we want to share the experience. Since I moved to Singapore, I’ve been having a difficult time balancing reading and blogging with everything else that I needed to do like work and chores. There are times when I’ve considered stopping for good but then I feel like I would miss blogging too much. So I just need to keep my no pressure policy and just blog whenever I have the time and inclination for it.

Those are my goals and resolutions for 2015 related to reading and blogging. What are some of yours?


7 Comments

Book Haul: December 2014 in Manila

I haven’t done a book haul post in ages! Probably because I usually just post on Instagram if I receive books because it’s easier to keep that account updated. Also, I’ve been trying to read more ebooks instead of physical books because I keep moving in Singapore whenever the lease ends and it’s such a pain to pack and unpack paperbacks and hardcovers. I did acquire some books since I landed in Manila for the holidays so I felt that an update was in order.

I have two godsons at the moment, a toddler and an eight-year-old. I try to live up to my title as Book Godmother and I give both of them books for their birthdays and for Christmas. For this year, I grabbed some kiddie books written by Filipino authors for them to enjoy:

Christmas 2014 - gifts for godsons

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay
EDSA by Russell Molina
Isang Harding Papel by Augie Rivera

While shopping for books for my godsons, I also bought some Filipino titles for myself:

Christmas 2014 - books for myself

Mythspace, Volume 1 edited by Paolo Chikiamco
Alternative Alamat: Stories Inspired by Philippine Mythology edited by Paolo Chikiamco
High Tide at Midnight (Trese, # 6) by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo
Shine by Candy Gourlay

Last but certainly not the least, I received a surprise gift from fellow Filipino book blogger Tin of Rabbitin! It was such a thoughtful gift because I’ve wanted a copy of The Merchant of Marvels and the Peddler of Dreams for ages. Also, I usually only receive books at Christmastime from my Secret Santa because friends in real life are pretty clueless on what titles to get for me. They’re worried that they might buy a book that I already have a copy of. So thank you, Tin! :)

Christmas 2014 - gift from Tin of Rabbitin

What about the rest of you, did you give or receive any books as Christmas gifts?


2 Comments

Christmas 2014

Office window - Christmas

Silhouette cut outs that I put up in my work area at the start of the month

The 25th of December is almost over in this part of the world but I just wanted to put up a quick post to greet all of you a very Merry Christmas! :) Maligayang Pasko! I would have to agree with the Philippine tourism tagline that it’s more fun in the Philippines. I can’t imagine spending the holiday season anywhere else because it wouldn’t be Christmas without family and friends. I’ve already met up with several friends, some of them also flew in from other parts of the world to be home for Christmas. We also visited some of my relatives today. I’m enjoying catching up with everyone that I haven’t had a chance to read and blog during my vacation. Let’s see if I’ll be able to squeeze some of that in the coming days.

Christmas tree - Manila 2014

A section of our Christmas tree in Manila

Hope you’re all having fun this holiday season!


4 Comments

Andrea K. Höst’s Ebooks On Sale

AKHost Covers

Andrea K. Höst has generously lowered the prices for individual copies of her books for US$0.99 each until the end of the year. Links to Amazon and Smashwords. I LOVED both the Touchstone trilogy and Medair duology, which I read earlier this year. Since then, I’ve reread most of the Touchstone books just because I’ve been itching to do so. I’ve also reviewed And All the Stars here. I also wrote a guest post for Andrea K. Höst week back when Rachel Neumeier organized it. I hope all of that is enough to convince you to give her books a try, especially while they’re currently on sale!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,447 other followers