Chachic's Book Nook


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Best of 2016

Happy New Year! ๐Ÿ˜€ I think we can all agree that 2016 was a difficult year on so many levels. There was so many things happening on an international scale, as well as in the Philippines (which still affects me a great deal even if I’m based in Singapore for work). On a personal front, I resigned from my previous job and started a new one. It hasn’t been smooth sailing and I’ve been struggling with having a sense of belonging. Of course, all of these have affected my reading and blogging life, which is why I haven’t been posting as much as I would want to. 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. Going forward, I think this will continue for a while. It’s just so much easier for me to check, update and reply on my phone. My laptop has been acting up and it’s been a pain to open it up and go online. Plus real life stuff happening has made everything harder. The struggle is real!

Anyway, I have a tradition of posting my favorite reads for the previous year whenever the new year rolls around, I’m a few days late but it’s still within the first week of 2017! You can check out my previous posts through these links: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. In no particular order, here are the books that I loved in 2016 (linked to my reviews if I have them):

a-darker-shade-of-magic a-gathering-of-shadows The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms the-broken-kingdoms

a-promise-of-fire magic-binds master-of-crows

Act Like It Summer Skin In the Middle of Somewhere Out of Nowhere

Amulet The Stonekeeper Monstress fresh-romance

It’s safe to say that I read more than I blogged in 2016. ๐Ÿ˜› That’s seven speculative fiction titles, four contemporary romance and three graphic novels. It’s funny because the easiest genre for me to get into is contemporary romance but it looks like the books that stand out more for me are fantasy titles. I think my sweet spot is fantasy with a well-written romance. In addition to these, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you would know that I’ve been trying to read and promote books written by Filipino authors. I haven’t read that many of them this year but the ones I enjoyed reading have been:

Beginner's Guide - Love and Other Chemical Reactions Iris After the Incident

Thatโ€™s 2016 for me. How was yours? What were your favorite reads from the past year? ๐Ÿ™‚


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Meet up with Tina (Ana Tejano) in Singapore

In my last blog post, I mentioned that October kicked my butt and that’s why I haven’t been able to catch up on blogging. Looks like November is doing the same! But I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to set aside more time to write because I miss blogging. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Let me kick things off with a quick update about my meet up yesterday with Tina a.k.a. Ana Tejano, who is in Singapore for a short trip. Tina and I have known each other for years – starting from when we were newbie Filipino book bloggers (she was blogging at I Like It Dog-Eared). I remember we were reading more YA back then and now I think both of us read more romance. We’ve also been part of various bookish groups/events in Manila like The Filipino Group in Goodreads and Filipino ReaderCon. And now she’s an author of #romanceclass novels! She writes under a pseudonym (Ana Tejano) and has already released several titles. I’m such a bad friend, I still haven’t had a chance to read her books. You guys know how it is – so many books, so little time. Anyway, I’m so glad we got to catch up one on one yesterday over tea time at Antoinette and a visit to Kinokuniya.

Here are the goodies that we had for tea time:

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And here we are in front of Christmas tree, as well as with our book purchases from Kinokuniya (which we were able to get at 20% off yay):

With Tina in Singapore

With Tina in Singapore - Kinokuniya

We both bought romance graphic novels so of course, we had to take a selfie in the romance section of the bookstore. ๐Ÿ™‚ As always, I had a lot of fun hanging out with a bookish friend especially since it feels like I haven’t had a chance to catch up with Tina one on one in years.

It’s almost midnight on Sunday over here and I’m in denial again that the weekend is over. Will probably squeeze in some reading before bed. If you don’t see me here on WordPress, I’m always on Twitter, Instagram and Litsy (username: Chachic) because it’s a lot easier for me to update apps that I have on my smartphone. Which reminds me that I still need to write a blog post about Litsy to convince the rest of you to join me over there. ๐Ÿ˜›


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Sense of Belonging

My smoked duck salad dinner while working one evening

My smoked duck salad dinner while working one evening

It has been a couple of months since I made major changes in real life and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since then. When I first moved to Singapore back in 2012, I had a very hard time adjusting to living in a different country for the first time in my life and being away from family and friends. It was one of the most difficult experiences that I’ve been through but I have no regrets because I’ve learned a lot, and hopefully, I’ve also grown both on a personal and professional level. When I made the transition to a new job a few months ago, I thought it would be easy to settle into this role. I figured that I’ve adjusted well enough to living in Singapore, and my new job is in the same industry as my previous one. I should have expected that in life, anything new would required an adjustment period! I have been trying to understand why it hasn’t been easy, and I don’t think it’s because of the company, the role, or even my co-workers (everyone has been as polite and professional as they can be). I realized that I can’t really say that I’m happy or comfortable in my current role (yet) because I don’t feel like I belong. Kind of like my presence doesn’t matter because I’m not making a relevant contribution (yet), which leads to feeling insignificant and lonely. This reminded me of a passage from a book that I loved, Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer:

โ€œI can’t be the only one faking it. I’m not the only lonely small-town girl drowning in this big city. I’m not the only refugee feeling invisible and alone. I’m not the only one who wants to scream, “NOTICE ME! I MATTER!” Maybe everyone is faking it. Maybe they’re just better at it than I am.โ€

I know I matter! And I hope that I would start feeling like I do matter professionally in a few more months. I’d like to think that every newbie feels weird and awkward in the first few months, and that will change as time passes. A physical place where I would always feel like I matter is back home in Manila because that is where I’m the most comfortable and where I always feel like I belong. Virtually, I definitely feel a sense of belonging in the book blogging community. I feel like I’ve carved out a niche for myself, and I’ve found people who not only enjoy reading as much as I do but also read the same type of books that I love. I’m definitely not a famous or big time book blogger but it makes me happy to know that there are people who enjoy having bookish discussions with me and there are people who ask me what I think about books before they decide whether to read it. I have way more posts than followers on Instagram but I have a lot of fun taking bookish pictures, and friends have mentioned that they like seeing what I come up with. I’ve had authors respond to tweets or blog posts or emails, and that’s something that never gets old. I find myself lucky that I can even consider some of them friends, because we’ve had enough interaction to get to know each other. I’ve met so many lovely people in this community, and I still keep meeting more! With everything that’s happened in real life, it hasn’t been easy to keep blogging, tweeting or bookstagramming but I will keep doing all of those for as long as I can because I would miss it too much if I stop. I would miss the sense of belonging, the camaraderie, the blog comments, and the book recommendations. While I’m a firm believer of keeping blogging fun and not forcing myself to write a review or a blog post if I don’t feel like doing so, I will do my best to make more of a conscious effort to be an active blogger. For now, I’m here to stay because this is where I matter.


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Tweedle Book Cafe on a Friday Night

I’m back in Singapore soil but still behind on blog posts so I have a few more Manila-related posts that will (hopefully) go up in the coming days. I’ve been meaning to visit Tweedle Book Cafe again after my initial visit last December. So when friends asked me last Friday where I wanted to meet for dinner, I suggested this place. You know you’re a book nerd when you bring your friends to a book cafe on a Friday night. Woohoo, reading party! I’ve been encouraging them to read more so I wanted them to experience a book cafe. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - long table

Dinner (TWG first edition tea, salpicao with egg and kimchi) and signed copies of Agay Llanera’s books:

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - dinner

Only Vintage Love is mine, given by Chris Mariano as a gift back when it was launched and recently signed by the author when I met her in person. I’ve yet to read it! The rest are copies I got for my friends Ena, Chuchay and Mich to read and share. These three have inherited and borrowed books from me before, and were also super excited to get signed books as Christmas gifts last year. I love it when real life overlaps with my book blogging life.

Here are #romanceclass books available at the cafe:

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - romanceclass

Delicious hot chocolate infused with hibiscus, made in Cebu by The Chocolate Chamber. Served in a pretty tea cup:

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - hot chocolate

Last but certainly not the least, I brought books that I wanted to pass on with me. Unread books are sad books so I’ve been passing on physical copies of my books because they just get neglected in Manila while I’m in Singapore. Some of these I’ve read, some I’m not planning to read anytime soon. Most of them have pages that have started foxing (getting brown spots) and yellowing because of heat and humidity, even when they’ve been stored in a bookshelf with a glass cover:

Foxing - donated books

I didn’t want them to waste away so I thought it would be better to pass them on. The upright ones on the left went to my friend Ena, the right-most stack went to my friend Chuchay and the two stacks in the middle were donated to the cafe. You can visit the cafe and read those books if you wanted to.

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - donated books

I think it was a Friday well spent. I was back in Tweedle a week later, but only to drop off more books to be donated. I passed by the cafe right before heading to the airport for my flight back to Singapore. This was the stash I donated:

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - more donated books

I’m glad book cafes are becoming more of a thing in Manila. They aren’t as common in Singapore but I believe that’s because Singapore has a pretty good public library system, something that the Philippines doesn’t have. Obviously I want these book cafes to flourish, which is why I will try to keep donating books whenever I can. ๐Ÿ™‚


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Reading at the hair salon

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m currently on vacation in Manila. You’d think that because I’m on vacation, I’d have more time to blog. As always, I’m behind on posts! There are several things I want to blog about but I always feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to squeeze in some blogging time. So I thought I’d come up with a short, book-related update.

Earlier today I was at the hair salon getting a hair cut and treatment. These are services that I usually try to do whenever I’m in Manila because they’re way too expensive in Singapore. In my almost four years of being based in Singapore, I’ve never gotten a hair cut or treatment there. Same goes for my Filipino girl friends in Singapore. Usually when I go to the salon, I’d just bring my Kindle with me and read whatever I’m currently in the middle of. Or I’d go through the magazines provided by the salon. But since I brought my copy of Amulet, Vol. 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi all the way from Singapore, I thought I might as well bring it with me when I have a few hours to kill. What a great idea it was! This is such an engaging book and it’s super easy to get into. I was instantly absorbed and was able to read quite a huge chunk while I was waiting. It’s also easy to read in installments whenever I had to stop for them to rinse my hair. I will probably finish the book tonight and will try to look for copies of the sequels in local bookstores.

Amulet at the hair salon

The hair salon served coffee. Yay!

Note to self: bring more graphic novels with me whenever I have errands to run. What about you, what books do you usually bring with you when you know you’d have some time to kill?


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Comments are like chocolate

Blog comments are like chocolate! Which is saying a lot given how much I love chocolate (dark chocolate in particular). I’ve had blog discussions about comments before, but I realized that my posts were in 2011 and 2012 so I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the topic again. I think it’s always fun to receive comments because hey, it’s a form of validation… someone is reading my post and is interested enough to say something about it! ๐Ÿ™‚ I think commenting is great in the way that it encourages discussions and conversations with people who read the same kind of books that I do. And for me, that’s what makes blogging interesting. This is why I always reply to the comments that people make in my posts.

Comments are like chocolate

Or like potato chips covered in dark chocolate

Over the years, I’ve noticed that people’s commenting habits have changed. I don’t have any stats to prove it but I feel like I used to receive more comments in the earlier years of my blog. Now that could be due to a number of reasons like some of my blogging buddies going on hiatus. But I also cross-link my posts on Facebook and Twitter, and I’ve noticed that some people are more comfortable leaving a Facebook comment or a tweet rather than writing down a comment on an actual blog post. Totally understandable because it’s easier to do that, especially when you’re on your phone. I also do the same thing when I’m going through other people’s posts while I’m on the go. It also makes it easier for me to reply to someone when they do that, it’s just that it’s more difficult to keep track of the discussion when it isn’t being saved on the blog.

I know that some people tend to prefer to lurk, instead of writing comments. This is also something that I could relate to since I was a lurker before I started my own blog. There are also instances when you’ve read the post but you don’t feel like you have anything substantial to add so you skip leaving a comment. That happens to me too. But I hope visitors and followers of my blog feel like they can comment anytime, even with something random like just saying hi. ๐Ÿ™‚

I also used to comment on other blogs a lot more. Back when I used Google Reader to keep track of blogs that I follow. Nowadays, I usually just leave comments when I have some time to check out the blogs I’m interested in, or to visit other blogs participating in a meme. If you ever come across a blog post that you think I’d be interested in, feel free to share a link so I can check it out.

I’m basically thinking out loud here, and sharing some of my thoughts about blog comments. What do you think about comments? Do you also enjoy receiving and replying to them?


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BBAW: Keeping It Fresh

BBAW 2016 - Blogger Burnout

Today’s the last day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) and the prompt is how do bloggers keep things fresh to avoid blogger burnout. This is going to sound totally random but my favorite lip balm brand is Fresh and I just stopped by that store earlier today. And now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, back to the topic that I should be discussing. I think blogger burnout and reading slumps are pretty common, there’s really no way to predict when or how they will happen. I’ve been blogging since 2010 and over the years, I’ve seen how the book blogging community has changed. So many of the blogging buddies, who were newbies with me, have given up on their blogs because other priorities have popped up. Even WordPress has changed its features and layouts during the time I’ve been a blogger. While I’ve never seriously considered giving this up, there have been times when I felt kind of meh about my blog. So what do I do to avoid that? It’s real simple, I read and blog without any kind of pressure. I pick up books based on my mood, and I blog whenever I feel like it. I don’t force myself to read something that I don’t want to, and I definitely don’t put pressure on myself to write a post when I don’t feel like doing so. I read and blog because it’s fun for me. And I hope it keeps being fun for a long time.

I’ve said this before and I will probably keep saying it until I stop blogging: my blog is my happy place. Going back through old posts, I noticed that some of the things I said in one of my BBAW 2012 posts are still applicable today. So I’m going to end this post by reiterating what I said before. I shared a quote about reading and explained why I chose it:

โ€œYou think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.โ€ โ€• James Baldwin

I love this quote because it talks about reading opening up your eyes and making you realize that you’re not alone – the same can be said for blogging. It was blogging that taught me that the things that I loved the most were the very things that connected me with readers all over the world. I feel like my blog keeps me grounded because I get to focus on something that I love. It helps me unwind at the end of the day. I have a feeling that I’ll be a lot more homesick and more than a little lonely if I didn’t have my blog.

What about you, how do you keep yourself motivated to blog?