Best of 2017

Happy New Year! πŸ˜€ Hope your 2018 is off to a good start. I usually post my favorite books from the previous year as soon as the new year starts but I’ve been busy with a few post-holiday gatherings with friends so I haven’t had a chance to sit down and work on a post until now. You can check out my lists from previous years through these links: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. Eight years’ worth of favorite reads! That’s a lot.

I still haven’t been blogging as much as I would want to, most days I feel like logging into my laptop involves too much effort. I’m still online on a daily basis but it has been easier for me to constantly update the social networks that I have on my phone such as Litsy (username: Chachic), Twitter and Instagram. And I did something different with my best of 2017 reads this year: I did bookstagrams for all of them! With brief summaries of why I loved them. I felt like I didn’t get to talk about them that much so I wanted to highlight these titles before 2017 ended. Here are the speculative fiction reads I loved last year:

Clean Sweep Sweep in Peace One Fell Sweep

White Hot Wildfire

thick-as-thieves

Before 2017 ends, I want to highlight the books that I've loved this year! High up in that list are White Hot and Wildfire, sequels to Burn for Me, released three years after the first book. I have so much love for Ilona and Gordon's writing, and I devour their books as soon as I can get my hands on them.❀ Hidden Legacy is an urban fantasy series that has their trademark humor and banter, action-packed adventure, strong character development, and the best kind of slow burn romance.πŸ”₯ . . I was engrossed from start to finish of each title, and had a book hangover after. And they've become comfort rereads. This series is an excellent introduction to their writing, highly recommended to anyone who wants to read something awesome. Even if you're not a fan of urban fantasy. . . What are some of your fave reads this year? Join me in posting about them because I love seeing people talk about the books they've loved. Thanks for the assist in this photo, @crisevert.

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Earlier this year, I devoured the three books that are currently out in the Innkeeper Chronicles: Clean Sweep, Sweep in Peace and One Fell Sweep. They got me out of a bad reading slump (which I knew they would). I'm continually amazed at how awesome Ilona and Gordon's writing is! Consistently entertaining, like this free fiction that was available as serials on their blog. I waited to read until they were released as self-pubbed books, and predictably loved them. . . Such creative worldbuilding, I think it's fantasy mixed with sci-fi? I loved everything about it - from the innkeeper magically bound to an inn that caters to supernatural creatures like werewolves and vampires. And the characters were all so much fun to get to know! Dina is such a kickass heroine, and I love how she's able to hold her own amidst the various disasters the inn faces. Knowing how I'm such a sucker for romance, I also really loved the slow burn romance between the main characters, as well as the secondary romance that's been building. . . Included in my best of 2017 list, I highly recommend this series for specfic fans! If you feel like we have similar taste in books then you should definitely be reading Ilona Andrews, try any of their series. I've loved them all.❀ . . What are some of your fave reads this year? Join me in posting about them because I love seeing people talk about the books they've loved.

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No big deal, fans of the Queen's Thief series have only been waiting SEVEN YEARS for Thick as Thieves to be released. Easily my most anticipated 2017 release, this book was just as brilliant as I expected a Megan Whalen Turner title would be. I reread the earlier books prior to diving into this one and I believe that gave me a better appreciation of how the story progressed. SO, SO GOOD. . . . The best kind of storytelling. Set in a world reminiscent of ancient Greece, with layers upon layers of political intrigue. And clever characters who never hesitate in using the weapons at their disposal - whether it be sharp wit or blade. I love them so much.❀ This series is one of the finest YA out there, and do me a favor and just read it then let me know what you think. I HOPE THE NEXT ONE WON'T TAKE SEVEN YEARS. #ILoveYouMWT #ButPleaseWriteFaster

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Here are the contemporary romance novels I loved:

pretty face A Kiss in Lavender

Lucy Parker has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary romance authors. Pretty Face was released earlier this year, and I loved this age gap romance set in West End featuring a TV-turned-theater actress and the director who casts her. . . There was such a strong connection between Lily and Luc, the tension was palpable right from the moment they met. And it was so much fun to watch their romance unfold as they got to know each other better, and gained mutual trust and respect. This was one of those romances where both hero and heroine feel seen and understood by the other person. I love reading about characters like that! It seems like the kind of romance that everyone should want for themselves. . . Lucy writes romances with a strong sense of place that feels realistic, and she's a must read for anyone who enjoys theater romance (or even just romance in general). I'm so grateful for her generosity in sending me signed and personalized copies of both Act Like It and Pretty Face. Can't wait to read the third book in the series! . . PS: My shirt says "Gimme HEA" which stands for Happily Ever After, a must for romance as a genre! That or HFN (Happy For Now). . . πŸ“· @fantaghiro23

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Laura Florand's romance novels has such a strong sense of place and rootedness that it almost feels like you traveled to France when you read one of her books. Her descriptions of Provence leap off the page in her La vie en Roses series, where she focuses on the Rosiers, described as the most influential agricultural perfume family in the region.πŸŒΉπŸƒ Such a well-written series with great banter, strong family ties, and characters you can't help but love. . . A Kiss in Lavender is a romance between an officer in the French Foreign Legion and the museum curator who brings him back home to Grasse. I've been waiting to read about Lucien's homecoming since I started this series! And it was as lovely and bittersweet as I expected it to be. I wanted this book to be longer because I would have loved to spend more time with the Rosiers. . . I've only been to Aix-en-Provence but someday, I'm going to travel to Grasse to experience what it's like to be a Laura Florand heroine.πŸ˜‚ If you're a romance reader and you haven't tried reading Laura Florand's books, that's something that you should remedy immediately. Her books feel like comfort reads even when you're reading them for the first time. Highly recommended.β€πŸ“š

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Last but not the least, these are the romanceclass titles that stood out for me:

FLAIR You Out of Nowhere Better At Weddings Than You cover Feels Like Summer Another Word for Happy

Happy Christmas Eve to everyone! Here's another title in my Best of 2017 reads: You Out of Nowhere by @jayetria, the first #romanceclassFLAIR title! An age gap romance with an older heroine, what we fondly dubbed "tita romance" (tita means aunt in Filipino) with a train meet cute. Hot guy reading Pride and Prejudice on the train, of course the heroine noticed him right away! . . I loved that Kris is older than Ringo but she's the one who isn't interested in a serious relationship. It was a lot of fun watching the two of the get to know each other - because they really click even though their personalities are distinctly different. Also, I enjoyed seeing Ringo scale her walls - first when they met in Manila and then later on when they become unexpected travel buddies in Seoul. Points to Ringo for knowing the benefits of collagen in skincare. . . Novella-length and available as a Kindle edition, this is a perfect holiday read because the story starys on November and ends in December. Full disclosure, I'm part of the #romanceclassFLAIR team but I really did enjoy You Out of Nowhere as a reader and would recommend it to those who think we have similar tastes in books. More tita romance, please!

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I have been enjoying @minavesguerra's books since I discovered them in 2010. Better At Weddings Than You is no exception. Happy to share another #romanceclass title in my Best of 2017 list. The story starts during Christmas eve dinner buffet at one of the metro's hotel (I suspect it's Spiral, I'd say I'm jealous but good thing we're going to a fancy buffet tomorrow). So this evening is the perfect time to talk about this book! . . Read this to get to know Daphne and Aaron, both wedding planners with the former having more experience in their field. Daphne is a strong, idependent woman who is very good at what she does. I loved that she's a Filipino woman in her 30s who doesn't give a shit that she's single, a pretty refreshing take for a book set in the Philippines. Plus she likes fancy tea as much as I do. So much fun to watch Daphne and Aaron reluctantly agree to work together... then try to fight off their growing attraction... and eventually give in to it. . . Read this for the food references (yes to chicharon salad), for the Manila setting, and for the relatable characters! A fun and sexy read that's easy to get into. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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I read Feels Like Summer by @sixdlr while I was on vacation in Moalboal, Cebu. I had a feeling it would be an excellent beach read because this Filipino romance starts during a beach music festival, and I was right. I was drawn in right from the start - when the heroine pretends to be the hero's girlfriend. Fake relationship trope FTW!πŸ™Œ . . Strong, independent heroine who has no interest in a relationship. Also works in a science museum. Easygoing hero, frontman of a band. Brings pizza during a booty call. Bandmates all up in their business (they totally deserve their own books). Surprise abs. Creative references to lightsabers. Add all of these ingredients, mix them up and have such an enjoyable and absorbing romance. Not sure if my summary makes sense, better just check it out for yourself.πŸ˜‚ Definitely looking forward to reading more from this author! . . PS: Barcino's sangria included in the pic was delicious.

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I've had Another Word for Happy in my TBR pile ever since it was released. I knew I would enjoy reading it because it's written by @agayllanera and edited by @islandstorygirl. But it wasn't until I saw @giogahol and @mrfredlaw reading the book that I finally picked it up too. Thanks, guise. Galing nyo magbenta.πŸ˜‚ . . It's a beautiful and heartfelt coming of age story. It's about the main character Caleb: teen guy, piano player extraordinaire, bowtie wearer... and how he falls in love for the first time. With another guy. This story has all the highs and lows of first love, and the confusion that comes from trying to learn more about yourself as you grow into a young adult. I have to caveat that although this is a #romanceclass book, it's technically not a romance. . . Both Another Word for Happy and Choco Chip Hips are titles that I'd recommend to anyone who wants to give Filipino YA a try. I feel like Agay has such a distinct writing voice. I need to read the rest of Agay's backlist! And I'm also looking forward to whatever she writes next. . . PS: Auro dark chocolate with cacao nibs is SO GOOD! Current fave Filipino artisan chocolate.

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In case you haven’t noticed, I also have a new blog banner designed by Filipino graphic artist Clarissa Ines. Learn more about the process here. I love how it gives my blog a fresh new look! I think it’s awesome that it’s a play on a book cover design, because Cla has designed locally published book covers.

ChachicsBookNook 2017 banner FINAL

Because I’m back in Manila, 2017 is also the year I became a lot more active in the romanceclass community. I’ve been posting a lot on Instagram and Twitter (and occasionally here on the blog) about the shenanigans I’ve been a part of. It’s been so much fun to have a sense of belonging in a local book community because I love books and I love interacting with people who love the same thing. You can see more of my romanceclass posts on the blog through this romanceclass tag.

You know that feeling when you're with people who love the same things you do, who understand you and accept you for who you are and what you're capable of? A warm and welcoming crowd, everyone giving as much of themselves as they can, extreme appreciation of what is offered, conversations that don't quit, hugs all around. The very definition of being part of a community. That's what it means to be in #romanceclass. ALWAYS A BLAST! Kayo talaga yung dahilan kung bakit ako umuwi ng Pinas, cheret. Love you, guys.πŸ’•πŸ™Œ Thanks for being extra. #FeelsFest2017 . . . . PS: "Landian" in Filipino means "flirting" so #romancelandian is romance + flirting, a play on #romancelandia coined by @readbyher. Just add one more letter, totally different meaning.πŸ‘Œ

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That’s 2017 for me. Hope you guys enjoyed seeing the different direction that I took for posting my best of 2017 list. How was your 2017 reading year? What were your favorite reads from the past year? πŸ™‚

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Best Books I’ve Read So Far In 2017

The first half of 2017 has come and gone! I’ve been meaning to write this post since June ended but we all know how real life gets in the way of things so I’m only able to do this now, when we’re already halfway through July. Better late than never! I’ve shared best books I’ve read for the first half of the year in 2016 as well as 2015, and wanted to do it again this year. While I haven’t been blogging that much, I’ve still been reading a lot. And it’s nice to look back on what titles have stood out for me. Also, it makes things easier for me at the end of the year when I share my Best of 2017 list. Here the books that I’ve read and loved in the first half of the year:

White Hot Clean Sweep One Fell Sweep

A Crown of Bitter Orange pretty face

thick-as-thieves Hunted

Four titles by Ilona Andrews (the Innkeeper Chronicles got me out of a bad slump in April), three contemporary romances from authors I love, and two YA fantasy titles. Of course THICK AS THIEVES is here… we’ve only waited SEVEN YEARS for this latest installment to be released! All of these books except for Hunted were written by my trusted authors so it’s not surprising that they’ve become favorites for this year. Hunted is a beautifully written, Russian-inspired retelling of Beauty and the Beast and my introduction to Meagan Spooner’s writing. Note to self: I need to try more new-to-me authors in the second half of the year to see if I’ll love any of them. Also, I need to read more books written by Filipino authors because I only have one on my list so far.

What about the rest of you, what have been the best books that you’ve read in 2017 so far? πŸ™‚ Do you have some of my picks in your own list? I would love to check out the books that would come highly recommended by bookish friends so please feel free to leave a comment.