Belated Birthday Post

My birthday was last March 29 so this is a really belated birthday post. But I haven’t had a time to sit down and do a write up of the day before now. While not exactly book-related, I think I’ve updated my blog about how I celebrated my birthday in previous years so I wanted to do the same thing this year. Good thing I kept posting pics on Instagram, so linking to them makes it easier for me to share how my day was spent. I took the day off but the night before my birthday, I had dinner at an Italian restaurant called No Menu, with two of my co-workers:

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It was a lovely meal and on top of that, they gave me gifts that I loved: a fancy teacup from a store called T2 and a small purse (wallet?) from Coach. It was really a pleasant surprise to receive these gifts because I wasn’t expecting anything!

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The actual day of my birthday fell on a Wednesday and everyone I knew in Singapore was at work on that day so I spent it by myself. I decided to give the foodie in me an indulgence of a meal in the form of a two-star Michelin restaurant, Les Amis. I had previously only read about Michelin star meals in books but I’m happy to report that I’ve experienced it in real life. Scroll to the right to see all of the courses:

Yesterday's indulgence was a 6-course meal at Les Amis, a French restaurant with two Michelin stars and ranked 16th in Asia's 50 Best Restaurants. I think this must be the fanciest meal I've had and it was a great experience. I liked how each dish was served with an explanation, kind of like the server telling you a story about the food. It's art in food form! I hope I get to try other Singapore restaurants from the list (e.g. Andre, Odette, Burnt Ends)! . . . Here's the menu for this meal: . . - amuse bouche: smoked river salmon and eel with baby leek - (signature) cold angel hair pasta balanced with kombu, caviar and truffle - (signature) langoustine with courgette and an emulsion of extra virgin olive oil - seasonal white asparagus - turbot fish - lamb cooked in a veil of spinach served with green asparagus and stuffed morel mushroom - sugar sphere with seasonal strawberries, sorbet and a hint of lime . . . #LesAmis #LesAmisRestaurant #MichelinStar #Michelin #SGfood #SGfoodie #SGdesserts #foodstagram #IGeats #finedining #ExploreSingapore

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After the fancy meal, I watched the live action version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and loved it. More thoughts shared below:

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And last but not the least, I was planning to splurge by buying a Jo Malone cologne that I’ve been eyeing for the longest time (they smell so good but they’re also super expensive) but decided to go for all natural and organic skincare instead once a friend recommended Vanderohe:

@vanderohe no. 1 face serum is a blend of pure essential oils that are sourced from their countries of origin. I'm such a sucker for organic/natural skincare so I knew I had to try this once @munsq started raving about it. I use it as a moisturizer day and night. I love how it smells and feels, and also that it has multiple positive benefits, making it a one stop skincare solution. Still waiting to see if it will help me achieve smoother and clearer skin! . . . #Vanderohe #faceserum #faceoil #naturalskincare #organicskincare #foodgradeskincare #holisticskincare #botanicalskincare #skincare #skinfood #organicbeauty #crueltyfree #botanics #SGbeauty #beautygram #cleanbeauty #essentialoils #kakikayan #ChachicsBeautyHaul #PaperMarket #PrimaFlowers #scrapbooking

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I did drop by the bookstore after watching the movie but SURPRISE! I walked out of the bookstore without buying anything. Also no books received as gifts because my family and real life friends never know what titles to get for me. So that’s a quick update from me about how my birthday went. πŸ™‚ Back to regular programming and book-related posts after this.

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Belated Birthday Book Haul

Last March 29 was my birthday and I bought a few books leading up to it. Birthdays are always the perfect excuse to buy books for myself. πŸ™‚ There was a Kinokuniya members’ sale in March so I took advantage of the 20% discount and bought these:

Lazarus and Shortcomings

Because I was able to buy books during the sale, I wasn’t planning to purchase anything else on my birthday. But I ended up dropping by the bookstore to buy some watercolors for my coloring books. I saw my friend try them out and it looked a lot more fun than using colored pencils. Aaand it wasn’t just watercolors that caught my fancy, I saw this newly released graphic novel with watercolor artwork so I decided to grab it too. Seemed like a fitting choice:

5,000km per second

My graphic novel haul:
Lazarus, Vol. 1: Family by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, Santiago Arcas
Lazarus, Vol. 2: Lift by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, Santiago Arcas
Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine
5,000 km Per Second by Manuele Fior

Next, three generous friends pooled their money to give me an Amazon gift card worth USD100. Woohoo! Let’s see how long it will last. πŸ˜› So far, I’ve already bought and read these:

Bryony and Roses

In the Middle of Somewhere

Kindle purchases:
Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher
In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish
Out of Nowhere by Roan Parrish (currently reading but not included in the pictures)

Those two last shots just show how much I love tea and desserts. And that last pic is a little bit funny because of the contrast of the smexy book cover versus the dainty tea cup and cake.

It’s Sunday night in this part of the world and as usual, I’m in denial that the weekend is over. I’ll try to squeeze in a little reading time before going to bed. Hope you all had a good weekend! If you’ve made any recent book purchases, feel free to mention them in the comments.

Ten Contemporary Romance Books I’ve Recently Enjoyed

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today is a special Tuesday because it’s MY BIRTHDAY. Woohoo! *throws confetti* *shares cake with everyone* And because I’m such a book nerd, talking about books on my birthday is always a good idea. This week’s TTT topic is supposed to be 5 star reads, but I rarely give a 5 star rating so I thought I’d share books that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed since the beginning of the year. I’m going to go for a contemporary romance theme on this post, because I’m always up for a good romance. They’re so easy to get into and I can usually finish a book in one sitting. Writing a review is a different matter, however. Which is why I want to take this opportunity to highlight some of the titles I’ve really liked.

Summer Skin Act Like It Artistic License Pairing Off Us

His Road Home Night Wish MidnightClear Carolina Dreaming Soppy by Philippa Rice

Have you read any of these titles? If yes, what did you think of them? If you read contemporary romance, I would love to get some good recommendations! If you’re not into this genre, please feel free to talk about books that you’ve recently loved because I’d be interested in hearing them. I have pretty eclectic tastes when it comes to the books I read and I can never predict what I’ll be in the mood for.

And now I’m off to enjoy the day! I took time off from work and my goals are simple: have some good food and read a great book.

Reading by the Beach: Bintan Island

Earlier this week, I posted about reading by the beach at Pico de Loro Cove. Today I want to share pictures from my trip to Bintan Island. Bintan is an Indonesian island located 45-min away (by ferry) from Singapore. Most people based in Singapore have gone to Bintan for mini vacations. I went there last weekend for my birthday (March 29). I’m usually pretty low-key when it comes to celebrating birthdays, like last year I just had dinner and watched a movie with a friend. But I turned 30 this year so I wanted to do something special. Bintan seemed like a good option for an overnight solo trip since it’s pretty accessible. I stayed at the Bintan Lagoon Resort, which I thought was a great place.

I wasn’t really rereading The Scorpio Races but I couldn’t resist taking this shot because that line is just perfect for a beach background:

The Scorpio Races - beach

A friend gave me this Dr. Seuss pop-up book as a gift last year and I took a picture of it when my birthday rolled around:

Dr. Seuss birthday pop-up

“THIS WAY TO PIRATE!” What I actually read during that weekend were the Superlatives series by Jennifer Echols, Biggest Flirts and Perfect Couple. I think these YA romances make great beach reads:

Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols

Other pictures on my Instagram account: view while waiting for lunch, view from the lobby, evening waves, trees. Check out more reading by the beach posts here. I’m hoping it doesn’t take me years to visit another beach! Do you like reading by the beach? What are the type of books you read by the beach or pool?

The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand

I have to thank my good friend Michelle for introducing me to what has become one of my favorite contemporary romance series. I had a feeling that I would enjoy reading Laura Florand’s novels after my copies arrived and I saw how pretty they were. I’m pleased to report that I wasn’t disappointed.

Here’s the summary from Laura Florand’s website:

The Chocolate ThiefPARIS
Breathtakingly beautiful, the City of Light seduces the senses, its cobbled streets thrumming with possibility. For American Cade Corey, it’s a dream come true, if only she can get one infuriating French chocolatier to sign on the dotted line…

CHOCOLATE

Melting, yielding yet firm, exotic, its secrets are intimately known to Sylvain Marquis. But turn them over to a brash American waving a fistful of dollars? Jamais. Not unless there is something much more delectable on the table …

STOLEN PLEASURE

Whether confections taken from a locked shop or kisses in the dark, is there anything sweeter?

I LOVE desserts and I’m a big fan of chocolate. Some of my favorites are dark chocolate with nuts, mint chocolate and truffles. I know it’s not a healthy habit but I have chocolate almost everyday. I eat chocolate to cheer me up when I’m feeling a little low and I also eat chocolate to celebrate when something good happens. I feel like there’s always an excuse for me to indulge in chocolate. So imagine my delight at discovering that both the main characters in The Chocolate Thief are fellow chocolate-lovers. Cade is the heiress of Corey Chocolate, one of the largest chocolate corporations in the world (I think the surname Corey is a nod to Hershey). While Sylvain is one of the top chocolatiers in Paris. I wish I could afford to try chocolates that are as good as Sylvain’s masterpieces but I’m afraid they’re probably too expensive for me. I did find Sylvain’s reasons for choosing to work with chocolates intriguing:

He had been a gangly, awkward adolescent with shaggy hair, so it was a good thing he had discovered very early in his teenage years What Women Wanted.

Chocolat. If you wanted to lure a woman who wouldn’t otherwise have looked twice at you, good chocolate was better than a love potion.

Add the fact that the novel is set in Paris, a beautiful, romantic city that I’ve always wanted to visit and I’m one happy reader. We have here a chocolate-filled take of a love-hate relationship. Both of them love chocolate but in different ways. Cade is proud of her family’s heritage and how their products bring happiness to millions of people. She’s all about making chocolate more accessible to people. While Sylvain looks down on mass-produced chocolate and believes that creating chocolate is a fine art form. What I loved about these two characters is how passionate they both are about what they do. Cade knows that people rely on her and their company is responsible for providing much-needed jobs. Sylvain pours so much of himself in what he does that he takes total ownership of his creations, to the point that he feels that people are tasting a part of him whenever they devour his chocolates. This is why he takes so much pride in the fact that Cade can’t get enough of his work, which she doesn’t want to openly admit so she resorts to stealing them. I can certainly appreciate a girl resorting to thieving for the sake of the finest chocolate that she’s ever tasted. I like how the reader is given a full understanding of the characters’ background, how and why they became who they are when we meet them. I liked Cade and Sylvain’s warm interactions with their family and friends. The Chocolate Thief is a deliciously tempting work of fiction, I gobbled it up in just two days. I would have done it in one sitting if I didn’t have to go to work. Highly recommended for fans of chocolate, novels set in Paris and contemporary romance. Just make sure you have some chocolate on hand when you read this. I seriously cannot wait for the third book in the series, The Chocolate Touch, to be released in July. It will be about Cade’s sister and Sylvain’s rival.

On a side note, I’m delighted to put up a post on my birthday about a book that I loved. I wish I could do that every year. Yesterday, my lovely co-workers got me this yummy chocolate cake called Othello:

Glace birthday cake 2013

Happy 29th of March! πŸ˜€

Other reviews:
Rachel Neumeier
Angieville
Smexy Books

Birthday Goodies

I didn’t get any books today but I thought I’d still make a post about the other goodies that I received (also because some of them are from fellow book bloggers). Surprise birthday cake from my officemates:

It really wasn’t much of a surprise because I saw the cake hours before lunchtime but it’s still a lovely idea and Dairy Queen’s ice cream cake is yummy. πŸ˜› I got a couple of postcards yesterday:

Two postcards from Steph – one from Malaysia and one from Taiwan – and one from the US from Alexa. Thank you Steph and Alexa! When I got home today, I found this surprise package waiting for me:

Wondering what’s inside and who sent it?

Cupcake card and a Peter Pauper Moon Goddess journal from fellow Filipino book blogger, Tina! Thank you so much, Tina. πŸ˜€ I also met up with my high school friends last weekend and got a bunch of stuff from them:

Pretty good haul even if there aren’t any books in there, right? Hope you’re all having a nice March 29! πŸ™‚

In My Mailbox: Mid-March Edition

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren and was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. This meme is about books that you received or bought during the week.

I was surprised when I already got the packages from my latest Book Depository purchase because it only took three weeks for them to arrive and they all got here at the same time.

Want to see what’s inside those packages? Here you go:

The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne
Northlander by Meg Burden
The King Commands by Meg Burden
Postcards from Ladybird

You might be wondering what that manly chest is doing in my IMM post. I don’t usually read historical romances but I made an exception for Joanna Bourne’s novels when I saw a Sounisian recommend them. I enjoyed reading them, which is why I’m looking forward to her latest. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that Meg Burden’s novels came in trade paperback format instead of mass market. And yes, that’s another postcard set! I’m going to do a Postcard Love update once I’ve taken pictures of those Ladybird cards. Speaking of postcards, got this lovely Sarajevo one from Maja of The Nocturnal Library:

Thanks Maja! πŸ™‚ I also met up with my college friends for a joint celebration (my birthday isn’t until the end of the month though) and these are the early birthday presents that I received:

Trese graphic novels by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo: Murder On Balete Drive, Unreported Murders, Mass Murders, Last Seen After Midnight
Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Fully Booked gift cards
Muji notebook and colored pens

So I had a pretty great week in terms of books acquired. Can’t wait to read all of these. What about you, what books did you get in your mailbox? πŸ˜€

Birthday Giveaway

It’s the 22nd already so my birthday, March 29, is a week away. I thought I’d celebrate it by having a birthday giveaway! I’m giving away one book from my list of favorites, the winner gets to choose what he or she wants as long as the Book Depository has it. To join the giveaway, spread the word about it through Twitter, Facebook or your own blog and leave a comment including the link to that and of course, the book that you choose. Giveaway ends March 29, open to wherever the Book Depository delivers, winner be randomly chosen.

Following is not a requirement but feel free to follow using the RSS feed, through Goodreads, Twitter or Facebook.

It’s my birthday and I’ll smile if I want to

I can’t believe I’m already 25 years old. I feel so old and young at the same time. Old because I always thought I’d have it all figured out by the time I reach this age and young because I haven’t. It’s all good though, I’m thankful for a lot of things. It hasn’t been smooth sailing all throughout but I’d like to think that the good things outweigh the bad. I’m already at work and I don’t have anything special planned for today but I already got to celebrate with my friends and family. Plus, I have new books! πŸ™‚ I really went crazy with the book buying this month and a lot of my friends gave me books. I’m going to list them all down in my March update. I just wanted to make a birthday post today.

Happy March 29, everyone! πŸ™‚

It’s starting to feel a lot like my birthday

I really love the month of March! When I was in school, it signified the end of a semester or a quarter and the start of summer vacation. Plus my birthday is on the 29th. After college, the weekends of March were reserved for celebrating my birthday with different groups of friends. This weekend was spent with the Birthday Club and my joint birthday treat with sofa_rocker. As always, good food and great friends made for a fabulous time. I just had to make a post because I’m so happy with this day.

Here’s a quick look at what I got from the group:


Yay, they followed what I wrote in my wish list. πŸ™‚ Lots of books. ♥ I bought the Neil Gaiman books for myself to get a book signing pass.


POB (previously owned books) from the Single Ladies! “Happiness can be found in things!” indeed


Another thing to note – here’s a P20 gift wrapper from Intramuros featuring an old map of the world. I want to have it framed!


Here’s a closer look at the Philippines.


Last but definitely not the least, my brother’s friend gave him a Siberian Husky puppy. Meet Minnie! Such a cutie. πŸ™‚

Great weekend and it hasn’t even ended! I’m calling this month March Madness and won’t resist the urge to buy more books because of used books and sales. I’ll stop buying books in April. Now, I’m off to update my book database and then read. Saturday night with a good book makes me happy.