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?

2013 ArmchairBEA Introduction

armchairbea

It’s that time of the year again – ArmchairBEA! I’ve participated in ArmchairBEA before so I know that it’s a fun event to celebrate blogging and to get to know fellow bloggers. Today, we get to introduce ourselves through a self-interview post. If this is the first time you’re visiting my blog, thanks for dropping by and I hope you like what you see. πŸ™‚

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

Hello everyone! My name is Chachic and I’m a Filipino book blogger, currently based in Singapore. I started my blog a little over three years ago – I was living and working in Manila then. I moved for a job opportunity in Singapore last year. I started my blog because I wanted to get in touch with fellow book lovers and to get recommendation similar to the books I read. I’ve been able to do that and so much more.

Santouka ramen

Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location. Feel free to share pictures.

As previously mentioned, I’m blogging from Singapore. I was born and raised in Manila, Philippines and this is the first time I’ve lived outside of my home country. For such a small country, Singapore packs quite a punch – it’s one of the wealthiest countries around the world. It’s a very modern place and I feel like it’s a melting pot of various cultures because different types of people have settled down here. Because I enjoy eating good food, I love that there are so many restaurants and cuisines that are present in Singapore. It’s also pretty convenient to go around because there’s a good public transportation system. One of the advantages of moving here for me is that I now have access to a good public library, which we don’t have in the Philippines.

Central Public Library

Singapore library

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013?

Oh wow, we’re almost halfway through the year. This question made me go back through the list of books that I’ve read to see which are the ones in the running for my best of 2013. I really enjoyed reading A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge, The Chocolate Thief and The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand and Tiger Lily by Jody Lynn Anderson. Let’s see if all titles will make it to my list at the end of the year.

A Face Like GlassThe Chocolate ThiefThe Chocolate KissTiger Lily

Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?

Instead of pointing out a single post, I’d like to highlight two week-long blog events that I had so much fun organizing last year: Queen’s Thief Week and Marchetta Madness. The former celebrates the novels of Megan Whalen Turner while the latter was all about Melina Marchetta’s books. Both Megan Whalen Turner and Melina Marchetta are two of my favorite authors. If I manage to find time this year, I would love to do something similar!

Queen's Thief Badge

Marchetta Madness badge

What is your favorite part about the book blogging community?

I love the networking aspect of the book blogging community in the sense that I get to reach out to other people who get what it’s like to be into reading. I have friends and relatives who enjoy reading but none of them are as enthusiastic about it as I am. So it’s good to have a set of friends who understand what it’s like to geek out over books, to be ridiculously excited to finally have access to certain titles, to stay up late just to finish a good book and to fall in love with a story to the point where you can’t stop thinking about it. I have met so many amazing people through my blog and I hope that’s something that will continue in the years to come. πŸ™‚

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What about you, what are your answers to the questions listed above? Are you participating in ArmchairBEA this year or are you lucky enough to attend BEA in New York?

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

I remember being fascinated by The Lost Conspiracy a few years ago and I’ve been meaning to read more of Frances Hardinge’s novels since then. But you know how it goes, you get distracted by other books in the TBR pile and you forget your intentions to read books by a certain author. Fortunately, I was attracted by the pretty cover of A Face Like Glass when I saw it in one of the bookstores here. I’ve been hearing good things about this book so I was pretty excited to read it.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

A Face Like GlassIn the underground city of Caverna the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare – wines that can remove memories, cheeses that can make you hallucinate and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. The people of Caverna are more ordinary, but for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to show (or fake) joy, despair or fear – at a price.

Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a little girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. For Neverfell’s emotions are as obvious on her face as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, though entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed…

At a little less than 500 pages, A Face Like Glass is quite lengthy compared to some of the other YA novels that I’ve been reading lately. Which is why it kept me captivated for several days. Towards the end of the book, I decided to stay up late one night to finish it, I was so curious about where the story would go. I can’t even remember the last time I did that, probably not since I moved from Manila to Singapore last year. I found A Face Like Glass engaging for several reasons:

– I found the idea of wearing Faces like most people wear clothes intriguing. You can never know what a person is feeling based on just the expression that they’re wearing because they can choose which Face to use at any given moment. I’m fascinated by characters who are unreadable because they can surprise you in so many ways. In this book, most of the characters are like that because you can’t even use facial expressions to gauge what they’re thinking of.

– I enjoy reading about how complicated court intrigue is. I love how subtle court movements are and how the smallest of things can be significant because everything means something. There are complicated rules that courtiers follow and it requires a highly intelligent person to navigate the tricky waters of court. I liked how the craftsmen are divided into mafia-like families that compete against each other.

β€œIt is terribly bad form to admit to being terrified for one’s life, but nobody in their right mind would go to a Court banquet without making preparations. One must have the right costume, the right Faces, and at least eighty-two ways of avoiding assassination.”

– I’m a big fan of cheese so I found Neverfell’s apprenticeship with Cheesemaster Grandible interesting. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have to take care of cheese that has its own personality – they can explode and harm people if not handled properly. The same goes for wine and everything else that Caverna excels at making, here’s a passage that I really liked:

“They were masters of memory, its loss and recovery. They could brew Wine that would make you remember the face of your dead love so clearly you could count her eyelashes, or that would make you forget specific chapters of a book so that you could read them again with pleasure.”

– The underground setting because I’ve lived in tropical countries all my life and I can’t imagine living in a dreary world below ground with no sunlight. I would probably feel claustrophobic and suffocated most of the time. It was interesting how Caverna’s inhabitants functioned underground and how they were willing to suffer the consequences just to keep the secrets of their craftsmen.

– There’s a mysterious thief in this novel called the Kleptomancer. As you well know, sneaky thieves in fiction have a special place in my heart. So when bits and pieces about the Kleptomancer started showing up in this book, I was immediately curious. I wanted to know more about him and his reasons for stealing.

– Of course, Neverfell is also another intriguing character. She’s a bright and curious individual and has such a good heart. She genuinely cares for other people, even if she had an isolated childhood. She’s always interested in helping out whenever she can.

With all the reasons listed, I think it’s pretty obvious that I loved reading A Face Like Glass. This beautiful book will definitely make it to my best of 2013 list. Highly recommended for MG/YA fans of fantasy, political intrigue, class conflict and unique world-building. I look forward to reading the rest of Frances Hardinge’s books, I have a copy of Fly By Night waiting for me back home in Manila.

A Face Like Glass paperback

Other reviews:
The Book Smugglers
The Readventurer