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? 🙂

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Ten Books I Loved That Have Under 700 Ratings On Goodreads

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week, we’re supposed to talk about books that we enjoyed that have under 2000 ratings on Goodreads. This is a great topic because we get to highlight under-the-radar books that we’ve read. So it looks like SO MANY of the books that I’ve enjoyed reading are underrated because they haven’t even gotten 1000 ratings on Goodreads. These were the books that I loved (they were my favorites the year I read them) that have less than 700 ratings on Goodreads. Why 700? Because that was the number of ratings I reached when I got to ten titles. I could have kept going but I wanted to focus on these for now:

Loveless Childless Clueless Choco Chip Hips Learning to Fall A Wish Upon Jasmine Girl Before a Mirror

Northlander The Sunbird Medair Touchstone Trilogy Black Dog

Five contemporary, three fantasy, one sci-fi and one historical fiction… that’s a pretty good mix. I thought all of these books were great and would love for more readers to pick them up. If you feel like we like the same type of books then you should definitely check these out. You can click on the image to see my reviews. What about you, what are underrated books you loved?

Top Ten Historical and Futuristic Books

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week, we were given the option of choosing topics that feature historical or futuristic books. Since I can’t make up my mind, I’m doing halfsies. Also, I don’t think I have enough for each genre to make a full list.

Five books set in the past that I loved:
The Sunbird ebook Code Name Verity - UK2 The Book Thief - UK The Secret Countess Nine Coaches Waiting

Five books set in the future that I loved:
Touchstone Trilogy Illuminae Archivist Wasp Silent Blade 2 Ender's Game - movie cover

I’ve tried read-alikes of these titles but I didn’t enjoyed them as much as the ones I mentioned here. I would love to discover more books that I can add to this list. Have you read any of these? What are books set either in the past or in the future that you would recommend based on the titles I have here?

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?

Top Ten Books From My Childhood That I Would Love To Revisit

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. There are so many books that I’ve enjoyed reading as a child that I would love to reread as an adult. I’m wondering if they would hold up as rereads and whether I would like them just as much. Some of the titles that I would love to revisit are:

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe The BFG Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH Harriet the Spy From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil A Wrinkle in Time A Ring of Endless Light The Giver The Tombs of Atuan Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

I wonder when my huge TBR would let me go back to these old favorites for a reread? What about you, what are some of your childhood or teen books would you love to read again?

Books That Make Me Bibliovangelize

The credit for this post goes to my good friend Brandy of Random Musings of a Bibliophile who also wrote about this topic. I got the word “bibliovangelizing” from professional book pusher Angie and I thought it would be fitting for this post. You know how some books are just SO GOOD that the moment you finish reading them, you just want to share it with the whole world? You want to convince all your friends and everyone you know to read these books? Well, those are the titles that make me want to bibliovangelize by spreading the word about them. That’s one of the reasons why I have a book blog, because it’s the perfect platform for pushing people to read the books that I love. To the point where I won’t shut up about the books and would even organize and host blog events about them. For some of my favorite series, I’m including only one book to represent the series. Click on the covers to check out my reviews (if I have them). Here are my choices, broken out by genre:

Fantasy:
QueenOfAttolia Crown Duel Blue Sword Fire

Howls Moving Castle Son of the Shadows Scorpio Races UK Medair

Urban fantasy:
Magic Strikes Burn for Me

Historical fiction:
The Sunbird Code Name Verity A Countess Below Stairs Nine Coaches Waiting

YA and NA contemporary:

Jellicoe Road Australian cover for The Piper's Son Such A Rush The Understatement of the Year The Deal I'll Meet You There

Adult contemporary romance:
The Chocolate Thief Once Upon a Rose Nowhere But Home Girl Before a Mirror Something About You

Fairy Tale Fail_Summit Carolina Home Big Boy The Story Guy

Sci-fi:
Touchstone Trilogy Silent Blade

I might have missed out on some titles but these are the ones that I could think of while writing this post. What about the rest of you, what are the books that make you bibliovangelize?

Retro Friday: Fire by Kristin Cashore

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

I read both Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore when they first came out. That was a few years ago, back when I didn’t have a book blog. I recently reread them for a discussion with my online book club YAckers. I loved rereading both and realized that I have never written a review for Fire. It’s a good thing I refreshed my memory by rereading it recently because that gave me the perfect opportunity to talk about one of my absolute favorite epic fantasy novels.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

FireIt is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.

This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she has the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.

Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City, the royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.

If only she weren’t afraid of becoming the monster her father was.

Fire is such an achingly beautiful novel. It is wonderfully written with engaging characters, set in a dazzlingly colorful world. Fire is a human monster, an amazingly beautiful person who can read minds and manipulate people through her powers – either with just the way she looks or by compelling them to say or do things. Having seen what her cruel father Cansrel was able to do with his own monstrous powers, Fire is very cautious with hers. She has no intention of manipulating people and doesn’t even want to be involved in court politics. But the kingdom is on the brink of civil war and Fire has a role to play in all of this.

I loved Fire’s character. It was a pleasure to see her stretch as she opens herself up to possibilities. It’s understandable that she’s afraid of what she’s capable of but she has such a good heart that she doesn’t really have to worry about it. Aside from Fire, there are also plenty of fully fleshed out secondary characters to love in this novel. Can I just take a moment to say how much I love Brigan? Remarkable character and brilliant in so many different ways. I loved how Kristin Cashore portrayed the relationships in this book – they’re very messy and complicated but work so well in the context of the story. I liked seeing the dynamics of different types of relationships – romantic, platonic and within families – in the story. There’s a lot of love in there but also has some sadness and violence mixed in. Here’s a snippet that illustrates this:

“She had thought she’d already reached her capacity for pain and had no room inside her for more. But she remembered having told Archer once that you could not measure love on a scale of degrees, and now she understood that it was the same with pain. Pain might escalate upwards, and, just when you’d thought you’d reached your limit, begin to spread sideways, and spill out, and touch other people, and mix with their pain. And grow larger, but somehow less oppressive. She had thought herself trapped in a place outside the ordinary feeling lives of other people; she had not noticed how many other people were trapped in that place with her.”

Fire just has everything that I look for in my epic fantasy reads. Great characters, solid worldbuilding, a slow burn romance that I can root for and complex relationships that feel realistic. I cannot recommend it enough. It makes me happy that Fire stood up to a reread and I loved it just as much as when I was first introduced to it. In fact, I had to wait a couple of days for the story to fade from my mind before I could move on to another book. After rereading both Graceling and Fire, I am now craving for a new Kristin Cashore novel. I will be eagerly waiting for news about what she will publish next.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger

Top Ten Tuesday2

I’ve been wanting to participate in Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) for a while now but I keep forgetting about it. I only remember when I see tweets from other bloggers and by that time, it’s already Wednesday in my side of the world. Fortunately, I looked up the topic ahead of this week so now I get to put up my first ever Top Ten Tuesday post! Most of the books that I read nowadays are recommendations from trusted book bloggers and friends. Because there are so many reading choices out there, I rarely read books just based on the cover and synopsis. Back before I started blogging, that’s how I found out about books though. In no particular order, here are some of my favorites before I started my blog in 2010:

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale – I can still remember seeing the pretty cover, illustrated by Alison Jay, and thinking that the book looks like something that I’d enjoy reading even if I wasn’t that familiar with the original Goose Girl story. My instincts were right, I fell in love with The Goose Girl and it’s still one of my favorite fairy tale retellings. It was an added bonus that I discovered other favorite titles through Shannon Hale’s recommendations in her blog.

Goose Girl_Alison Jay

The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner – My love for MWT’s books knows no bounds, I even organized a Queen’s Thief Week to celebrate her work. I’m always curious whenever a review mentions writing or characters similar to MWT’s (although more often than not, I get disappointed because my expectations are so high). I’m so glad Shannon Hale featured MWT on her blog because that’s how I discovered this amazing series. Before my blog, I usually got ideas of what to read from Sounis, the LiveJournal community for MWT fans. I was pretty active there back when I was still using LiveJournal.

Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith – Another title that I discovered through Shannon Hale’s blog! During the time I discovered Crown Duel, I was starting to realize that I have a thing for fantasy novels and it definitely fit the bill. I also loved how nice and friendly Sherwood is to her fans, she’s quite active in the Athanarel LiveJournal community (another source of excellent recommendations before I started my blog). I was lucky enough to meet her in person when we had a Sounis/Athanarel meet up back in 2009:

Sounis Athanarel Meet Up

I Do and At First Sight by Elizabeth Chandler – I’ve talked about the Love Stories series several times here on the blog. That was the series that I closely followed as a teenage girl and Elizabeth Chandler’s I Do and At First Sight are my favorites. I can even remember the number of times I’ve reread these books. They’re out of print titles, otherwise I’d probably get duplicates because my copies are so battered.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman – I remember borrowing a copy of this from a college friend and I knew after finishing that I had to get my own copy. I got a paperback that I let my friends borrow and also a graphic novel edition because the artwork by Charles Vess is just lovely.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman – I read this trilogy back in college, based on the recommendation of a classmate. It was during finals week and I was supposed to be studying instead of reading for pleasure but I couldn’t help it, the series was just too good to put down.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – I found out about this series in high school. It was my mom who got me started on Harry Potter, she got me copies of the first four books that were out then. After that, I eagerly waited for the release date of books five to seven. I had to watch the movies in cinemas as soon as they were shown too. I followed this series from high school to college up until I started working. I really am part of the Harry Potter generation, it was a part of my life for so many years.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – This series is one of my childhood favorites. I discovered it because some of the titles were available in my grade school library. Unfortunately, they didn’t have all of the books in the series. I only got to read the entire series when I ordered copies online when I was in high school (bookstores in Manila didn’t have such great stocks back then). I get the feeling that I can read the Narnia books as an adult and I would love them just as much as I did when I was a kid.

A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson – Here’s another title that I found interesting because of the cover and title. I checked the premise at the back and thought that the book looked like something I’d enjoy reading. I was right. This was my first taste of Eva Ibbotson’s writing and she quickly became a favorite author after I finished reading this.

A Countess Below Stairs

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley – I love kick ass heroines in fantasy novels and Harry is one of my favorites. I’m a fan of girls who take matters into their own hands, instead of waiting to be saved or rescued by someone else. Each of Robin McKinley’s novels has a heroine like that, which is why she’s an auto-read author for me.

I guess I cheated because I included trilogies and series in my list but I couldn’t really help it, there are just way too many good books out there. I had a hard enough time narrowing down my list. What about you, what are some of your favorite books that you read before you started your blog? How did you discover them?

Best of 2012

Happy 2013! *throws confetti* It’s been customary for me to post my favorite books of the past year on the first day of the next year. In 2010, I had 20 books in my list. In 2011, I had 15 books. In 2012, I only have 8 books (click on the thumbnails to see my reviews):

Nine Coaches WaitingNorthlanderTrese Mass MurdersThe Fault in Our StarsCode Name VeritySuch A RushSeraphinaEasy

I wasn’t able to read as much as the past two years so maybe that’s why I don’t have as many titles in my best of 2012 list. My reading slowed down when I moved to Singapore for work during the latter part of the year. I was pretty active at the first half of 2012 and had a lot of fun organizing two blog events:

Queen's Thief Badge

Queen’s Thief Week – click here to see all the posts in case you missed any of them

Marchetta Madness badge

and Marchetta Madness – click here to see all the posts

Aside from these events, I also started a new feature called Postcard Love to celebrate my love of postcards and because I keep exchanging postcards with book blogger friends.

Postcard Love Logo

Last but certainly not the least, I was invited to become part of the YAckers book club! I participated in my first book discussion with them when we read The Raven Boys.

YAckers

All in all, a pretty active 2012! I’m hoping for better things in 2013. I still feel like I’m in the process of adjusting to living abroad and I wish I’d have more time to read and blog. We’ll see how it goes. How about you, what are your top 2012 reads and what were the highlights of the year for you? 🙂

Best of 2011

Happy 2012! Hope you guys had fun celebrating, wherever you may be. I’m basically mirroring what I did with my best of 2010 list last year because I also posted it on January 1. Looks like 2010 was better in terms of favorites because I had 20 in my 2010 list and I only have 15 for 2011. Here they are, in no particular order (click on the images to see my reviews):

Also, just a quick recap of the challenges that I joined this year and the books that I read and reviewed for them:


Aussie YA Reading Challenge
Good Oil by Laura Buzo
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Pink by Lili Wilkinson
The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar
Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley


Once Upon a Time V Challenge
Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti
Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
Chime by Franny Billingsley
The City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

That wraps up 2011 for me. Looking forward to more bookish goodness in 2012! 🙂