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? 🙂 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.

Snapshot from a Book: Better At Weddings Than You

Snapshot From a Book is a sporadic feature that I have on my blog where I match snippets of books I’ve read with pictures I’ve taken. I rarely get to do this because I don’t always get to visit the settings of the books I read. Last Sunday, as I was heading to TWG tea salon for brunch with friends, I remembered that there’s a scene in Better At Weddings Than You by Mina V. Esguerra that was partially inspired by TWG. TWG is a Singaporean tea brand and they have tea salons all over the country, and even abroad. They have an extensive list of hundreds of different kinds of teas and part of the fun in going there is trying to decide what to get. I love how fragrant and delicious their teas are, and I’m also a fan of their scones served with tea-flavored jelly and clotted cream. I’ve previously mentioned this place in this post.

Here were the pictures from last Sunday, when I brought Better At Weddings Than You with me:

Swipe right to see all of the pictures, or hover over the image and click the right arrow. The scene in the book that’s set in a tea salon is actually the first time that the heroine gets to meet the hero. Both of them are wedding planners and they set an appointment at a tea shop:

He asked to meet her at a tea shop, exactly the one she’d been planning to visit as soon as she had a chance. It was suspicious, like he had tapped into her idle thoughts somehow. She walked into the coziest little tea place she’d ever seen and couldn’t help it, couldn’t help feeling the delight that unfurled in her chest, then letting it make her smile. She caught herself looking happy a split second later and tried to wipe it off.

This was a job.

It was not a date.

TWG cafe - flower tea, scones and macarons

“Need a recommendation?”

She knew from reading reviews that this place carried dozens of variants of tea. Also, she liked it. She was a tea person. Friends knew this about her; she got tins from all over the world as gifts.

Need a recommendation, my ass.

“No, thank you.” Her eyebrow reacted to this though the rest of her face hopefully did not. There was a menu in frond of her and she looked down at it instead. “I love tea. I’ll make my own choice.”

That she did, calling the server and asking for a grape-and-cherry blend with a black tea base, and asked for it hot.

I hope these snippets from the book has made you more curious to read Better At Weddings Than You by Mina V. Esguerra, it’s a stand-alone title from her Chic Manila series, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I also hoped you enjoyed seeing these pictures of TWG that I shared. I hope I manage to do another Snapshot from a Book post soon!

TWG tea book

Previous Snapshot From a Book posts:
Pinto Art Museum, Loveless. Childless. Clueless. by Miren B. Flores
Anawangin Cove, Zambales, What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra
Prague, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Ateneo de Manila University, Interim Goddess of Love by Mina V. Esguerra
Paris, The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand
Paris, The Chocolate Thief

Better At Weddings Than You Blog Tour: Food Inspiration

Mina V. Esguerra is a prolific Filipino romance author and the founder of #romanceclass, a community of Filipino romance authors who publish books independently. I have featured her books and her writing countless times here on my blog, and I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for her latest release: Better At Weddings Than You. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I need to work on a review to share more of my thoughts about it. Aside from romance books, one thing that Mina and I share is our love of food! I noticed that Better At Weddings Than You had references to some restaurants and certain dishes, and I thought it would be a great topic for a guest post. I hope this guest post will make you curious enough to read the book when it comes out, and also to try the food mentioned here! 🙂

================================================================
Food Inspiration: As featured in Better At Weddings Than You
by Mina V. Esguerra

My books are not about food, but they may as well be. I write contemporary romance but I also love food… and I keep talking about it. Especially when I’m writing anything set in the Philippines. With Better At Weddings Than You, the premise that the main characters Daphne and Aaron worked in the wedding industry formed the “menu” for this book. Here’s a selection and the real-life counterparts!

  • Christmas Eve dinner (Real thing: Spiral Restaurant at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel)
.

Daphne and Aaron meet over Christmas Eve dinner at a fancy hotel restaurant by the Manila Bay, and if you’re familiar with the area it’s an easy guess that it might actually be Spiral Restaurant at the Sofitel. If you know me at all, then you’d be sure — I adore the large restaurant, the seafood, salads, meats, and the cheese room.

  • Tea shop meeting (Real things: Rustic Mornings and TWG)
.

So the tea shop I describe in an early chapter of the book doesn’t actually exist (that I know of) but it’s based on the many small restaurants popping up in the city. It would have a look similar to Rustic Mornings by Isabelo in Marikina, but with a tea list that would remind you of a page from the menu of TWG. Just a page, because TWG of Singapore’s full menu would be too much for a quaint neighborhood tea place!

  • Caterer Food Tasting scene (Real thing: K by Cunanan)

How do you choose your caterer for your wedding? You taste their food. While planning my own wedding I (seriously) sampled the menus of three caterers, and one of the visits kind of went like the scene in my book. K by Cunanan is one caterer you’d encounter in the industry, and they did our wedding. We loved the food and their reception venue styling.

  • Chicharon salad (Real thing: Chef Sharwin Tee’s Tempura Bacon Salad)

In one scene, Daphne gets to reveal something about herself and I get to describe a decadent salad. Everything I said about the salad is directly from a food memory – of eating my friend Sharwin’s Tempura Bacon Salad at his restaurant. I replaced the bacon with chicharon though. If you can make this salad happen, let me know! I think it works well with a fruit vinaigrette, by the way.

Believe it or not, I had to edit this list so I don’t go on and on. Thank you, Chachic, for giving me the space on your blog! Better At Weddings Than You comes out April 15 and its Amazon link is here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XKS8Y1T

================================================================

Book Description:
Daphne Cardenas is the best wedding planner around, and everyone knows it. That’s why her friend Greg hired her as an emergency replacement one month before his wedding—because he fears his fiancée Helen is falling for the guy they first hired for the job.

Aaron Trinidad is new to the wedding industry but years of conference planning and loads of charm make him good at it. Really good at it. Planning the wedding of his friend Helen should be easy, and it is. To be unceremoniously fired isn’t good for his new career, but the chance to learn from the best might be the silver lining.

Aaron and Daphne have chemistry, but there’s history with Helen that at least one other person considers a threat. Who’s the planner who can fix this impending disaster?

(Part of the Chic Manila series, but can be read as a standalone.)

================================================================