Best of 2016

Happy New Year! 😀 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. 😛 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

That’s 2016 for me. How was yours? What were your favorite reads from the past year? 🙂

Advertisements

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. 🙂 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. 😛 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.

Book Haul – Christmas 2015 Edition

I rarely receive books for Christmas, or even for my birthday. I usually only get books when I join bookish Secret Santa events. Most people tell me that they don’t give me books as gifts because they don’t know what to get for me. So it feels like a special treat whenever I get books for Christmas. In 2015, I got several of them! Which was why I thought I should put up a post to mark the occasion.

On the last work day of the year, right before I flew home to Manila, I got these two:

Christmas 2015 - SG haul 1

When I was in Manila, I was able to attend a bookish meet up and got the following:

Tweedle Book Cafe - book haul

Sadly, I had to go back to Singapore for work. But I did have some lovely snail mail waiting for me when I got back:

Christmas 2015 - SG haul

While on vacation in Manila, I bought a few graphic novels (Ms. Marvel, The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 2: Fandemonium, Halina Filipina and Maktan 1521). I received The Wicked + The Divine Volume 1 from a friend, and used the Kinokuniya gift vouchers I received from our office Secret Santa to buy Soppy and Giant Days.

Christmas 2015 - graphic novels

For someone who doesn’t usually get books for Christmas, this really is quite a haul! Here are the titles I was lucky enough to receive:

Chronicles of Elantra by Michelle Sagara
The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare
What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles
Soppy by Philippa Rice
Giant Days by John Allison, Lissa Treiman

Thank you, Donna, Estara, Kim, Mina, Gene, Nellie and my office Secret Santa for these books! I’m really grateful for the generosity. 🙂 I’ve already started reading the first Elantra book and Soppy. Looking forward to reading the rest of the titles in this pile.

Ten 2015 Releases I Meant to Get to But Didn’t

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. While I try to keep up with new titles, I don’t always get to do so because I pick up books based on my mood. And sometimes, I just feel like reading older titles. Then real life gets in the way of reading time and some books just get pushed back. So there are quite a few 2015 releases that I wanted to read last year but wasn’t able to. Here are ten of them:

A Thousand Nights The Wrath and the Dawn Binti The Lie Tree Crimson Bound

Black Dove White Raven - UK Under a Painted Sky The Start of Me and You The Friend Zone The Royal We

Some of these authors are new-to-me (e.g. E.K. Johnston, Nnedi Okorafor) while some have written books that I’ve loved (e.g. Elizabeth Wein, Frances Hardinge). One thing they all have in common is that I’ve heard good things about these books, which was why I was curious about them to begin with. I already have copies of all of these either in my Kindle or on my bookshelf so I hope I’ll be able to read them in 2016. If you’ve read and loved any of these titles, feel free to comment and I’ll try my best to bump it up. What about you, what are 2015 releases that you meant to read last year but were not able to do so?

Best of 2015

Happy New Year, everyone! Ever since I started blogging, 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 and 2014. In no particular order, here are the books that I loved in 2015 (linked to my reviews if I have them):

Once Upon a Rose A Wish Upon Jasmine Girl Before a Mirror The Deal I'll Meet You There

Pure Magic Uprooted Bone Gap Archivist Wasp Illuminae

That’s five contemporaries and five speculative fiction titles! I’ve also been meaning to read more graphic novels and found a few that I loved in 2015:

Rat Queens Vol 1 Sass and Sorcery Nimona Midnight Tribunal High Tide at Midnight

Midnight Tribunal and High Tide at Midnight are the latest installments in the Trese graphic novel series, one of my favorite Filipino works of fiction. Here are other titles written by Filipino authors that stood out for me this year:

Choco Chip Hips Learning to Fall Loveless Childless Clueless

Speaking of Filipino reads, I made a point of buying Filipino books to give as gifts this past Christmas. I was lucky enough to get most of them signed!

Filipino books as Christmas gifts

Pile of Filipino books as Christmas gifts

2015 has been a good year for reading but not so much for blogging, because I’ve always been behind on reviews. Real life keeps getting in the way so I have missed reviewing some of my favorite reads this year. Let’s see if I can catch up on reviewing some of them in the new year. Keeping my fingers crossed on that.

As for other bookish things, I was delighted to discover that book cafes have been popping up all over Manila and I was able to visit three of them during my trip: Tweedle Book Cafe, Cool Beans Cafe and Book and Borders Cafe.

Tweedle Book Cafe - shelf

In November, I was also able to attend Singapore Writers Festival’s panel on “Instalove” – Romance and the YA Novel, where I got to meet authors Rachel Hartman and Joyce Chng in person.

SG writers fest 2015 - instalove 5

Singapore Writers Festival “Instalove” panelists Joye Chng, Joyce Chua and Rachel Hartman

My travel activities aren’t exactly book-related but I enjoy posting about them on the blog. Earlier this year, I was able to visit: Prague, Kutna Hora, Cesky Krumlov (like the setting of a medieval fantasy), Munich, Neuschwanstein Castle (straight out of a fairy tale), Regensburg.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

After I had my rolls of film developed, I did a Snapshot From a Book post and matched pictures of Prague with quotes from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do the same for the other places we visited because I haven’t come across books set in them. However, it made me happy to be able to meet in Munich my bookish friend Estara. I’ve known Estara for years and I was delighted to finally get the chance to chat with her in person.

Bayerisches Nationalmuseum

We visited Bayerisches Nationalmuseum with Estara

Another notable meet up this year was with Jo of Wear the Old Coat when she had a stopover in Singapore while traveling from Australia to the UK. We had dimsum and loads of jasmine tea for lunch, and played tourists for the rest of the day.

Din Tai Fung lunch with Jo

Din Tai Fung lunch with Jo

It’s always fun for me to have these meet ups because I don’t get to do them as often as I would like. So it’s a special treat when I meet a bookish friend I’ve known for years.

So, so, so. That’s 2015 for me. How was yours? 🙂 What were your favorite reads from the past year?

On reading and making friends

Littered With Books 2

Littered with Books, one of the indie bookstores in Singapore

I saw my friend Estara share this quote from author Michelle Sagara on Goodreads, and it just resonated with me:

“Life wears us down around the edges. The stress of life and its neces­sities cracks things. We learn to protect ourselves. We learn not to let so much of the world in, because some­times it’s all too much, and we don’t have the resilience we need to survive it. When we’re six, we make best friends easily. When we’re fifty, we don’t. That’s age and expe­rience for you.

But books are different. We can let books in. We can wrap them up in our hearts. We can approach them as if we’re still young and open. Even so, it’s not as simple. Because we’re not as simple.”

(Source: Michelle Sagara “State of the Writer, sort of, September 2015”)

I love this quote because I can relate to it 100%. I have thought about how difficult it is to make friends as I grow older. Most of the (real life) close friends that I have now were people I met in high school or college. I have met some good friends through work but it gets more difficult to keep in touch after we go our separate ways.

In the blog post where that quote came from, Michelle Sagara was talking about Terry Pratchett and how much his books mean to her. And that’s also something that I can definitely relate to, how some books just have so much meaning for us as readers. Like she said, maybe it’s because we’re a lot more open to letting books (rather than people) into our lives. Maybe that’s why some of the books that we read can hit us hard and make us FEEL. I love having that kind of reading experience. And I also love sharing it with bookish friends I’ve met through my blog. I think the same idea applies – I’m probably more open to making friends with bookish folk because I know all of you can understand a side of me that most of my family and friends in real life would not be able to comprehend. Also, with online friendships, I feel like it’s up to me how much I want to engage. So if I ever feel like I need a break (which I rarely do), I just go offline for a bit.

Anyway, I think I’ve rambled enough for this post. I just really wanted to share that lovely quote. And to remind myself that I need to try reading Michelle Sagara’s books.

Saturday Book Haul: October 10

Yesterday, I dropped by the library and today, I dropped by the bookstore. Tonight’s book haul:
Book Haul - October 10, 2015

Three Filipino romance titles published by Visprint, which my friend Chris Mariano got for me:
Cover (Story) Girl by Chris Mariano
Save the Cake by Stella Torres
Vintage Love by Agay Llanera

Three books from Kinokuniya:
Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Funny story, my friends and I met up for dinner because they needed to pass along these books. Basically, they were kind enough to serve as book mules when they had a recent trip to Manila. After having dimsum for dinner, it was decided that we’ll drop by Kinokuniya because they’re having a weekend sale. I wasn’t really planning on buying anything, except maybe consider getting adult coloring books and colored pencils. But I was surprised when I found out that they had copies of Archivist Wasp – I didn’t think it would be available in Singapore. I couldn’t resist grabbing a copy because of its gorgeous cover, and also this review from The Book Smugglers. I was also surprised that the bookstore had copies of Nimona, and even Lumberjanes (which I resisted). I’ve been meaning to read more graphic novels so I had the perfect excuse to buy Nimona and This One Summer, I’ve heard good things about both of them.

My friends also bought books that they wanted so we all left the bookstore with heavier bags and lighter wallets. I haven’t even read the books from my previous hauls, and here I am getting new ones. What about you guys, have you visited bookstores lately? What are the books that you’ve recently bought or received?

SG Book Deals Warehouse Sale – August 2015

Pansing, one of Singapore’s major book distributors, is hosting a warehouse sale in August! I’ve mentioned before that books are expensive in Singapore so it’s always a good idea to take advantage of sales and discounts whenever possible. I need to see what my weekends will look like in August because I want to drop by this sale. If you’re a reader based in Singapore then I definitely recommending checking out the details below to see if this is something that will interest you. They have some pretty good deals for this warehouse sale.

SG BOOK DEALS WAREHOUSE SALE POSTER

Event details:
Date: 1-10 August 2015
Time: 11am to 7pm (Weekends & Public Holiday); 11am to 2pm (Weekdays)
Venue: No. 438 Ang Mo Kio Ave 10, Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park 1, Singapore 569619 (Opposite Pathlight School, above Rozel Furnishing Store)

More information:
– SG50 Box Sale – only at S$50, in line with SG50 celebrations (it was going for S$100 at the sale in April)
– Free Book for Seniors – aged 50 years old and above, limited to ONE book of your choice per person, proof of identity/age is required.
– Prices for single titles as low as 50 cents
– Good range at great value
– Over 10,000 titles available at the sale
– Get updates via http://www.facebook.com/sgbookdeals

Last Ten Books That Came Into My Possession

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week, we get to talk about our recent book haul. For me, this serves as a reminder of the titles that I need to read soon!

Pansing, a book distributor in Singapore contacted me and asked whether I would like to receive review copies from them. Of course I said yes! As a book blogger in Southeast Asia, it’s rare for me to receive physical review copies. But I also wanted to only get copies of books that I’m actually interested in. These are the titles that I requested and received last week:

Pansing
Pansing - July 2015

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

Once I asked Filipino chick lit author Mina V. Esguerra if she would be interested in writing a book with a book blogger MC. She was not only interested, she went ahead and did it! I received an advanced copy of that book called Someone Else’s Fantasy:

Someone Else's Fantasy

I have been looking forward to Him, the MM romance collab between Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen and I was thrilled when I was lucky enough to be sent a review copy. I couldn’t resist reading it as soon as I could. It made for a delightful weekend read. Here it is with my Sunday tea:

Him - high tea

Other ebooks recently added to my Kindle:
Suddenly One Summer by Julie James
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Off Campus by Amy Jo Cousins
Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson

Suddenly One Summer Bone Gap The Wrath and the Dawn Off Campus Trust the Focus

What about the rest of you, what are the books that you’ve recently acquired?

Sunday Book Haul: June 21

I had a nice and productive Sunday which started off with brunch with my flatmate at a new-to-us cafe called Symmetry. There are so many indie cafes in Singapore so it’s always fun to try new places and see whether their food and coffee are any good. Symmetry is one of the good ones, I wouldn’t mind going back there to try other items on their menu. After brunch, we headed back to the flat to catch up on weekend chores. And then I was able to laze around for a bit, always a good thing!

Late afternoon, I headed off to the bookstore. I wanted to get the UK edition of Uprooted by Naomi Novik, which is our book club’s choice for this month. But even though their website said the book was available in their main store, they didn’t have any copies. So I browsed around and grabbed these titles:

June 21 - book haul

This Is Hong Kong by M. Sasek – which is part of the This Is series of books

Rat Queens Volume Two: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth – I have a copy of Volume 1 but haven’t read it yet! I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Volume 2 was already out.

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol – I’ve heard nothing but good things about this children’s graphic novel.

There was also a copy of This One Summer that I considered getting but it was a damaged copy so I let it go. I’ve been reading mostly ebooks lately because they’re more convenient (easier to acquire and takes less space) but I can’t resist getting physical copies of illustrated books and graphic novels.

As if getting new books wasn’t enough, I also grabbed these other goodies: nail polish from Illamasqua (I’ve been waiting for them to restock these two shades) and almonds coated with dark chocolate from La Cure Gourmande:

June 21 - other goodies

What about the rest of you, how was your weekend? Did you visit a bookstore or buy any books? I always feel like weekends go by so fast. Fingers crossed that I’ll feel the same way about the work week!