Book Haul: A Package and Some Library Books

I got a lovely little package in the mail the other day. I’m so glad it finally arrived because I’ve been watching out for it for weeks:

That, my friends, is Elizabeth Fama’s Monstrous Beauty in its re-designed hardcover glory. I think it’s looks beautiful but I may be biased. It’s bound to make me happy because this is the first bookish package that I’ve received here in Singapore (went straight to our mailbox, didn’t have to pick it up from the post office like I used to do back in Manila). Plus, there’s a beautiful message inside:

I can’t wait to read it! I went out to have lunch with friends today and yesterday and since both malls that I visited had bookstores inside, I checked them out. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to buy anything because I found the books to be pricey. I should probably sign up so I could get a 10% discount. So I headed over to the library to see if anything catches my fancy (something always does):

I would have borrowed more if I haven’t maxed out the borrow limit of 8 books. Here’s what I grabbed:

Fury by Shirley Marr
Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Yay Aussie YA books available in Singapore libraries! Looking forward to finally reading Fury, I’ve had that in my wishlist for a while. Crazy Beautiful is a Beauty and the Beast retelling and I’m always curious about those. Pretty good weekend in terms of books. What about you, what books did you get this week?

Book Haul: An ARC, Ebooks and Postcards

Time for another Book Haul post! It’s been raining the past couple of days here in Manila so the weather’s perfect for curling up in bed with a good book. I was pretty bummed when I requested Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass over at NetGalley and got denied because I kept hearing good things about it. Luckily, my good friend Janice volunteered to send her extra review copy:

I was pleasantly surprised that the package arrived after only two weeks. Thank you so much for sending it, Janice! And for the pretty For Darkness Shows the Stars bookmark – that’s another book that I’m planning to read soon. I’m also looking forward to reading these ebooks:

My Life Next DoorSecond Chance Summer

Easy by Tammara Webber
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Adorkable by Sarra Manning
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

I also received a couple of postcards this week so I thought I might as well include them here instead of coming up with another post. Here’s the first stash:


The grumpy kid in the upper left is from fellow Filipino book blogger Chris of Ficsation, she sent it from Japan. The Miss Saigon postcard is from Vietnam, a friend sent it while on vacation. The one at the bottom is from my postcard pen pal Steph from Korea. These postcards are making me want to visit the countries where they came from! Would love to go to Japan, Vietnam and Korea someday.

These two are from author Elizabeth Fama and they’re related to her upcoming novel, Monstrous Beauty:

postcards from Elizabeth Fama

Thank you for the lovely postcards, ladies! What about you, got any books or postcards recently?

Marchetta Madness: Guest Post by Elizabeth Fama

Elizabeth Fama is the author of Overboard and the upcoming novel, Monstrous Beauty. Now I have to be honest and admit that I haven’t read either of those two (I’m planning to read them though). But Elizabeth and I have chatted several times about books and I do know that she has excellent taste. When I found out that she’s a Melina Marchetta fan, I told her I’d love to have her on the blog. Please welcome Elizabeth, as she talks about how brilliant our favorite author’s writing is.

Melina Marchetta, From the Perspective of a New Fan

I’m new to Marchetta’s work, but it only took ON THE JELLICOE ROAD to get me hooked and leave me begging Chachic to participate in Marchetta Madness. I’ve loaded up FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK on my Kindle (seriously, Amazon, only $3.49?) and as soon as I finish this post, I’ll be flipping that puppy on with delight. I’ve read dozens of reviews of FINNIKIN, and I’m giddy-excited about it, in the way you get when you know that the book you’re about to read will be magnificent, that you still have the whole journey before you. If you’re reading this you’re probably a book lover, and you understand what I’m talking about.

Since I’m not qualified to discuss Marchetta’s body of work, I’ll tell you instead how it feels for an author to make the discovery of a treasure like her portfolio. It’s a professional find on the order of a tomb full of beautiful artifacts for an archaeologist, except my pharaoh is still producing.

I am on a never-ending quest for brilliance. I admit it’s because I want my own writing to be brilliant. I’m not a casual reader–I can’t afford to be, because my daily reading time is limited. I rarely consume breezy, “popcorn” stories. While they’re fun (and fill an important literary niche), they don’t teach me what I crave. I seek out complicated, layered books. While I read, I’m also researching: studying the voice, plot, characterization, themes, and setting that the author created. In fact, I bought JELLICOE for research: my current manuscript has a first-sex scene in it, and I had been told that Jonah and Taylor’s experience is believably ambiguous in its success, and neither glamorized nor graphic. I’d also heard uncountable reviewers, bloggers, and librarians whom I admire say the book was one of their favorites of all time. That sort of praise can’t be ignored, and dude, they hadn’t even mentioned how smart it is.

A smart book demands, 1. to be read with the reader’s full presence and participation, and 2. to be read again. On your first pass, you sink into the voice, and the plot washes over you but not through you. You’re learning names and places and events, you see the connections but you can’t anticipate them. You don’t mind being confused, because you know you’re in good hands, that the threads will entwine and the result will be oh, so rewarding. I think of it as a gift from the author when I’m dropped into a vivid world, already in progress, rather than told how I got there. Catching up is like landing the TARDIS on an alien planet in another time and using only your wits to navigate the terrain and people. On the second pass through a smart book, you’re free to concentrate on the construction of the connections, on the brush strokes that trick your eyes into seeing reality on a flat canvas.

Marchetta deserves a week of Madness. Debut authors are all the rage right now: publishers and marketers are enamored of them; readers build Goodreads lists around them. And while many authors have stunning debuts (I understand LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI is pretty great), there’s a disturbing trend toward “hype” that’s unproductive for the craft. Learning to write is a lifelong process, and you need breathing room to cultivate it, not pressure to produce Part Two in less than a year because your first book sold at auction and you’ve contracted for a series. Seasoned authors like Marchetta (and Megan Whalen Turner, and Tobin Anderson, and Philip Pullman, and…) have blessedly had that breathing room. Marchetta has uncovered her voice organically over the years, and she’s clearly telling the stories that wake her up at night, refusing to be ignored. Learning from other writers is one of my greatest joys as an author, and as I launch into the rest of her books, I know Marchetta has a lot to teach.

Thank you, Elizabeth! I love this guest post because it gives us an idea of what writers think when they encounter an amazing work of fiction. 🙂 Also, I can’t wait for Elizabeth to read the rest of Marchetta’s novels.