Chachic's Book Nook


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Favorite Literary Couples VII

A few days ago, I posted a list of some of my favorite couples from non-romance books. Today, I’m back 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. I’m a bit surprised that this is the seventh version of this list, it doesn’t feel like I’ve been blogging that long! Well, that’s a good thing, right? That means it still hasn’t gotten old for me and I’m having fun. 😀


Image from We Heart It

Steph and Grayson from Learning to Fall by Mina V. Esguerra – Filipino romance represent! How can I not love #TeamStayson? Book blogger heroine who’s also an artist but is clueless about what she wants to do with her life, of course I can totally relate to her. Add in a hot rugby player as her hero and I’m one happy reader. This has also been one of my favorite titles to give as a gift to blogging buddies because 1) it’s written by a Filipino author and 2) it has a book blogger (on hiatus) MC.

Lainie and Richard from Act Like It by Lucy Parker – I’m a fan of certain tropes in romance if they’re done well, and Act Like It has two of them which I really enjoyed: a pretend relationship and a brooding, arrogant, Darcy-esque male lead. Plus it has a theater setting and I’m a big fan of musicals. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one, and I couldn’t wait to see what Lucy Parker would write next.

Jess and Damien from A Wish Upon Jasmine by Laura Florand – I am huge Laura Florand fangirl and I love her La vie en Roses series a tiny bit more than her Amour et Chocolat books. I don’t know how Laura does it but she achieves the perfect balance between strength and vulnerability in her characters. I love how Jess and Damien present a tough persona to the rest of the world, but they let their guard down around each other. As always, I also loved the Provence setting of the book and hints of a fairy tale within the story.

Agnieszka and Sarkan from Uprooted by Naomi Novik – I was blown away by the amazing storytelling in Uprooted and it reminded me of some of my favorite authors like Robin McKinley, Juliet Marillier and Diana Wynne Jones. I really enjoyed the development of Agnieszka and Sarkan’s relationship. Sarkan started as a reluctant mentor, and through their various adventures together, he gradually respects and admires Agnieszka. I’m delighted to have discovered another fictional couple in a non-romance book to love. I need to find more of those!

Petey and Finn from Bone Gap by Laura Ruby – Bone Gap was one of my favorite reads last year and while I haven’t written a review for it, I would enthusiastically recommend it to any fantasy or fairy tale retelling fan. I don’t think I’ve read anything like it. Laura Ruby’s writing is definitely unique. I loved the slow burn romance between two complex characters, Petey and Finn, who deserved all the love that they could get.

Runners-up for the past year are:
Skylar and Josh from I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Hannah and Garrett from The Deal by Elle Kennedy
Ellie and Knox from Sacked by Jen Frederick
Amy and Dax from Sleeping with Her Enemy by Jenny Holiday
The couple featured in Soppy by Philippa Rice

Who are your favorite fictional couples from books that you’ve read within the previous year? Did you do anything special this Valentine’s weekend? I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, it was just a usual Sunday for me but I did grab some nice chocolates as a treat. And I’ve been reading romance novels. 🙂 Happy Hearts Day, everyone!


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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? 😛


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Ten Quotes I Liked from Books I Read in the Past Year

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. I like taking note of passages that I like (I highlight them when I’m reading on my Kindle) whenever I read books. So this was a fun topic for me to put together. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite quotes from books that I’ve read in 2015:

Learning to FallLearning to Fall by Mina V. Esguerra

In theory, blogging shouldn’t take a lot of time. Read a book, then write about it. Simple, right? Obligation fulfilled to the publisher or author who sent the book, to the readers who read the blog.

Not quite.

Blogging found me at a time when I needed people. I knew this, didn’t need a therapist to tell me. Moving to another state, starting college, figuring out how to be a fully functional adult and artist… there was so much comfort in being friends with people who liked the same things. Believe me, I tried being friends with real people, but the friendship offers stopped coming when I missed one too many dorm parties.

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Choco Chip HipsChoco Chip Hips by Agay Llanera

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.

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Loveless Childless CluelessLoveless. Childless. Clueless. by Miren B. Flores

The sea is for me. I make this declaration silently, standing chest-deep in the water, staring at that point where the horizon meets the sea. I close my eyes and revel in my favorite natural sound in the world – the waves. It’s a hypnotic rhythm, a soothing rhythm, the sweetest, I’m-so-glad-I’m-alive rhythm.

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I'll Meet You ThereI’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

In my essay for San Fran, I’d written about how I’d always felt like there was something magical about taking bits and pieces of the world around me and creating something whole. It gave me hope: if you could make a beautiful piece of art from discarded newspapers and old matchbooks, then it meant that everything had potential. And maybe people were like collages – no matter how broken or useless we felt, we were an essential part of the whole. We mattered.

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Once Upon a RoseOnce Upon a Rose by Laura Florand

She took a deep breath, and that sense of nothing shimmered like a mirage before all the things that filled her lungs. An air rich with scents and with the vitality of the man beside her. Cliff-hills rose and narrowed around them as they headed into the pass that led out of the valley. All the rest of the world seemed so far away here. Songs lurked in the scents of rosemary and thyme and pine and roses in this car, teasing at her to hit the right note and distill their essence into words and melody. That would be fun, to capture a scent in song, and nobody else but her might ever even realize what perfume teased through the notes.

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A Wish Upon JasmineA Wish Upon Jasmine by Laura Florand

Sexy and sophisticated required so much work and attention to unimportant things, like how much you ate and how you fixed your hair. It was a particular skill, requiring a certain amount of luck in your genetics and then, exactly like most other accomplishments, at least seventy-five percent hard work, practice, and persistence.

And she’d chosen to practice something else, something that mattered to her more. Those models who looked so great as they marketed her perfumes to the public could no more have made a perfume than she could have looked that sleek and alluring. They worked in symbiosis, she and those models, but she was the secret element of that symbiosis, the elusive magic, and they were the glamorous show.

So naturally, it made sense to assume that the elegant Damien Rosier might prefer the glamor.

And yet… here they both were. Together.

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Bone GapBone Gap by Laura Ruby

She closed the book and smoothed the quilt on her bed. Unlike the girl in the novel, she hadn’t made it herself, knew little about quilting or sewing or craftiness. And unlike the girl in the novel, she understood heat and wind more than ice and snow, and had no intention of breaking anyone’s heart, except maybe her own. Even Get Real had said nothing about this, about sitting on your bed in your room, stomach and head buzzing, nerves thrumming, heart beating in your earlobes and your toes, hoping so hard that there was one boy out there who wanted you as much as you wanted him, because you wouldn’t know what you would do with yourself if this were not true.

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Archivist WaspArchivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace

Find the girl with the knife in her belt and the scars on her face, they told me. She’s different from the other girls who’d come before her, even though they’d carried the same knife, worn the same scars. She helps the dead, when she can, even when the living punish her for it. She probably will not want to be found. But she is worth finding.

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UprootedUprooted by Naomi Novik

He looked at me, baffled and for the first time uncertain, as though he had stumbled into something, unprepared. His long narrow hands were cradled around mine, both of us holding the rose together. Magic was singing in me, through me; I felt the murmur of his power singing back that same song. I was abruptly too hot, and strangely conscious of myself. I pulled my hands free.

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Girl Before a MirrorGirl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer

What do I want?

I want to be happy and not feel guilty about it. I want to be curious without being called indulgent. I want to be accepted regardless of what I look like, what I do for a living, my marital status, whether I have kids, or whether you think I’m nice enough, hospitable enough, or humble enough to measure up to your impossible standards. I want purpose. I want contentment. I want to be loved and give love unreservedly in return. I want to be seen, I want to matter. I want freedom.

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What about the rest of you, what are some of quotes you’ve liked from books that you’ve read this year?


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A Wish Upon Jasmine by Laura Florand

Laura Florand is one of my favorite romance authors and I’ve been a fan of her books ever since I discovered them in 2013. Her La vie en Roses series features the fictional Rosiers, one of the most prominent families in the perfume industry. I was charmed by the Christmas novella A Rose in Winter and was delighted by the first full-length novel, Once Upon a Rose. I was thrilled when I found out that the second book, A Wish Upon Jasmine, will also be released this year! I’m seriously amazed at how prolific a writer Laura Florand is. I didn’t think we’d get another book in the series until next year, and I thought it would be about Tristan. Looks like Damien shouldered his way in and stole the limelight.

Here’s the book summary:
A Wish Upon JasmineRuthless.
That was what they said about Damien Rosier. Handsome. Wealthy. Powerful. Merciless. No one messed with his family, because to do so they would have to get through him. No one thought he had a heart. Not even the woman he gave his to.

Cynical.
That was what they said about Jasmin Bianchi. A top perfumer of her generation, Jess had achieved commercial success by growing a protective shell over a tender heart. The one time she cracked it open to let Damien in, he crushed it—after a night of unbelievable passion.

Lovers.
That one magical night couldn’t survive the harsh light of dawn. When Jess woke up to discover the man in bed beside her had stolen her company, she fled.

Enemies.
Now she’s come to the south of France with a threat to his family heritage. If he wants to reclaim both it and the woman who walked away from him, he’s going to have to fight as dirty as only Damien can.

But Jess knows how to fight dirty, too. And these days, she has nothing left to lose.

Certainly not her heart.

As much as I loved Laura Florand’s Amour et Florand series, I think I’m starting to love her Provence series just a little bit more. The South of France setting is such a delight to read. I also love the dynamics of the Rosier family, and how difficult it is to grow up with highly competitive and assertive cousins. I think the Rosier men coped by finding a role for themselves within the family structure, and then deciding to stick with those roles. They do their damnedest to live up to what they believe is expected of them. It’s not that they don’t love the roles that they play, it’s just that each role comes with its own set of problems. In Damien’s case, he’s the one who grants people’s wishes. He’s the business guy, in charge of making money for the company so the rest of the family can pursue their dreams. So his cousin Matt can run the Rosier valley, so Tristan can make perfumes, and Raoul and Lucien can travel the world. In order to work in the business world, Damien had to toughen up and be ruthless. But anyone who has such deep roots and family values can never be truly heartless. No one outside his family really sees his vulnerable side, but he lets his guard down the night he and Jess meet.

Jess is a top perfumer known for her commercially successful Spoiled Brat creation. Which is funny because she made that popular perfume as a joke, she never expected it to rise to fame. And now she couldn’t shake the image that she has in the perfume world and everyone expects her to make perfumes that go against what she wants to do. Damien and Jess didn’t even know each other’s last names when they meet so they also had no inkling of the other person’s reputation. That allowed them to be a truer version of themselves than what the rest of the world usually sees. Things go downhill once Jess realizes who Damien really is, and that he’s acquired the fledgling artisan perfume company that she wanted to pour her heart into. Add to that the terrible fact that her father is seriously ill and is about to pass away. It’s understandable that she wasn’t willing to listen to reason when Damien wanted to give an explanation. A passage that resonated with me:

“It would have been like believing in magic, to believe in you,” she said suddenly.

“Yes.” His breath released roughly. “I know exactly what you mean.”

“In the morning. At night, it’s easier to believe in dreams.”

Six months after Damien and Jess spend the night together, they find themselves in Grasse, in a historical perfume shop that has been in Damien’s family for generations and was, surprisingly, inherited by Jess. Can I just say that I love how the Rosier boys’ great aunt Colette meddles in their affairs? I really think she’s pretending to have a less than friendly relationship with the Rosier patriarch but they’re secretly working together to get the guys to settle down. Matchmaking grandparents! Damien is supposed to get the perfume shop back for the family and he also aims to work things out with Jess. As expected, there’s a lot of tension between these two especially since their attraction for each other has been well-established by their one night together. Both of them are flawed characters and it takes a while for them to truly understand the other person but I think it was a beautiful journey. They kept butting heads but I wasn’t worried because I knew they never really mean to hurt the other person.

I loved Damien’s character, how he layers a protective shell over his vulnerability in order to accomplish the things that he has to do for the family. I really liked that Jess is a perfumer because this series is about the perfume industry. I’m glad that we got to see her point of view, ahead of what Tristan’s will be. I could also relate to Jess and her insecurities and doubts, how it’s so difficult for her to accept the possibility of a relationship with Damien because she thinks he’s way out of her league. It highlights how loving and believing in someone takes an enormous leap of faith and a whole lot of trust. Not just that, but also that she had to believe in herself first before she can even be ready to believe in someone else. Jess was the kind of character I wanted to hug and say, “everything will be all right.” So it’s really a good thing that Damien is more than willing to do that, and that he’s backed by a chaotic and wonderful family. I’ve noticed that these Rosier men tend to find women who don’t have big and supportive families like they do, and it’s just lovely to see how they react to being welcomed into the fold.

I was also tickled by the fairy tale theme than ran throughout the story, it was so much fun to pick up the references that peppered the story. A Wish Upon Jasmine is a beautiful read that stayed with me days, even weeks, after I finished reading it. It has a more bittersweet feel to it compared to Once Upon a Rose, which was kind of cute and cuddly, but I enjoyed it just as much. I’m itching to reread Matt and Raoul’s stories now. As always, I can’t wait for the next book.

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Other reviews:
Girl Meets Books
Ivy Book Bindings

Instagram shot of my copies: Once Upon a Rose and A Wish Upon Jasmine.

Other books in the La vie en Roses series (click on the thumbnails for my reviews):
The Chocolate Rose - new cover No Place Like Home Once Upon a Rose

Books in the Amour et Chocolat series (click on the thumbnails for my reviews):
Kiss the Bride The Chocolate Thief The Chocolate Kiss The Chocolate Touch The Chocolate Heart The Chocolate Temptation


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Coming Soon: A Wish Upon Jasmine by Laura Florand

One of my favorite contemporary romance authors is Laura Florand. Her next release will be the second installment in the La vie en Roses series and will be called A Wish Upon Jasmine. Her post about the cover, premise and first chapter excerpt can be found here. I’ve read the excerpt and it’s so good! I think I now have an idea of what the fairytale inspiration will be in this book. 🙂 Nice play on the character’s name if I’m right.

I loved Once Upon a Rose and it’s one of my favorite reads this year so I’m pretty excited that we’re getting another Provence book soon. I thought we’d have to wait until next year!

A Wish Upon Jasmine

Ruthless.
That was what they said about Damien Rosier. Handsome. Wealthy. Powerful. Merciless. No one messed with his family, because to do so they would have to get through him. No one thought he had a heart. Not even the woman he gave his to.

Cynical.
That was what they said about Jasmin Bianchi. A top perfumer of her generation, Jess had achieved commercial success by growing a protective shell over a tender heart. The one time she cracked it open to let Damien in, he crushed it—after a night of unbelievable passion.

Lovers.
That one magical night couldn’t survive the harsh light of dawn. When Jess woke up to discover the man in bed beside her had stolen her company, she fled.

Enemies.
Now she’s come to the south of France with a threat to his family heritage. If he wants to reclaim both it and the woman who walked away from him, he’s going to have to fight as dirty as only Damien can.

But Jess knows how to fight dirty, too. And these days, she has nothing left to lose.

Certainly not her heart.

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Doesn’t that look interesting? On her Facebook page, Laura posted cover ideas before finally settling on this particular cover design. I think it’s looks good because it matches the cover of Once Upon a Rose. I also like how the titles focus on a specific flower – rose and jasmine. Maybe the next ones will be something about lavender or lily of the valley or violet. Or mimosa! I had a Fragonard perfume that was mimosa scented. I guess we just have to wait and see. 🙂