Chachic's Book Nook


2 Comments

Author Guest Post from Thessa Lim

Hello, bookish friends! Today, I have a guest post from Filipino author Thessa Lim. Both Thessa and I are based in Singapore (and also studied in the same university) but we’ve yet to meet. Hopefully we can do that soon. 🙂 She has recently launched her debut contemporary novel in her Of Heads and Hearts series. I’ve received a review copy of it but because of my huge TBR pile, I have no idea when I’ll be able to read or review it. But because I’m always interested in promoting Filipino authors, I invited her over on the blog to give all of you a better idea of what her life as a writer is like. Please give Thessa a warm welcome!

================================================================
All in a Day’s Work
By Thessa Lim

thessa-lim-1

Since I’ve published my first novel, people have been asking me how I find the time to write. At first, it might seem like a writer is able to set a whole day simply and purely for writing. He would just drive to a nice café and write effortlessly as inspiration runs loose in his head. But a lot of writers maintain day jobs and have families to tend. And so here goes my version of a working-mother-slash-writer’s day.

thessa-lim-3The Early Morn Apparition – My day as a writer does not start at eight a.m., with me lounging next to my laptop, having a slice of toasted baguette and a cup of hot cocoa on hand. It starts at three a.m., which is when I usually rouse into some state of consciousness after having put my little boy to sleep five hours back. My husband is out like a light too. Yes! I position my Lenovo Yoga at the foot of the bed, sit on my son’s little blue chair, turn on my book light, and start working. I look pretty much like a White Lady staying by people’s bed at night, but my husband knows better. So if he somewhat awakens while my mouse goes a-clicking, he doesn’t scream. Although it is spent in semi-darkness, this is my writer’s me time. It’s like gold.

thessa-lim-2The Lunch Hour Rush – I grab my tablet, hurry out of the office, and head to the nearest café. While silently condemning the customer before me in the queue for taking time with his order, I check that my favorite spot is free. I then quickly chope it. Later, I settle down at the table and take a bite out of a cheap eat from the menu. Didn’t I just have this the other day? I scan the food list again for more scrumptious offerings. I see the prices. This’ll do. Nomnomnomnom.

thessa-lim-5The Final Fix at EOD – I step onto the station’s platform. Two trains going in opposite directions whizz by. I glance at the clock. Fifteen minutes before I definitely have to head home—this window is good enough. I sit on a bench. After ten trains have come and gone, I’ve either edited half of a chapter or added in a couple of paragraphs. I then squeeze into a train with the rest of the throng and continue tapping on my device’s screen, like a freaking nerd who won’t give it a rest, balancing the gadget so that I could work on it without hitting other people.

I reach home, where my husband and son would be — my two other great joys.

My days are hectic, tiring. And while I look forward to more leisurely days, I’m grateful that I’m inspired, able to write, and able to publish.

This is my writer’s daily grind. What’s yours like? 🙂

================================================================

Thessa is the author of the book Of Heads and Hearts in the Metro, a new adult fiction for women set in modern-day Philippines. The book, which revolves around the struggles and triumphs of four Filipinas and which is the first installment in the Of Heads and Hearts series, reveals the life-saving element of friendship and the intricate dynamics within it. To know more, visit her website at http://www.thessalim.com or like her Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ThessaLimOfficial.

thessa-lim-4


4 Comments

Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions by Six de los Reyes

I’ve had Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions by Six de los Reyes on my wishlist for a while now. And I was pushed to grab a copy when I saw historical romance author Courtney Milan raving about it. I didn’t want to get left behind when it comes to supporting Filipino authors! I read it as soon as I could because I was curious. While I couldn’t say that I loved it as much as Courtney Milan did, I had a lot of fun reading this nerdy Filipino romance. I will definitely be watching out for other books written by Six de los Reyes.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Beginner's Guide - Love and Other Chemical ReactionsFalling in love is a chemical reaction.

Just ask Kaya Rubio, twenty-five year-old Molecular Genetics graduate student and research assistant. Fed up with her spinster aunts’ relentless reminders and unsolicited advice regarding her Single Since Birth status, she designs a scientific, evidence-based methodology to find her a suitable partner in time for her cousin’s wedding. As any good scientist knows, any valid experimental design requires a negative control. Enter the most unsuitable candidate for a potential boyfriend: the messy, easygoing, café owner Nero Sison. Her null hypothesis? Going out with Nero would establish her baseline data without catalyzing the chemical reaction she seeks.

But when Kaya’s recorded results refuse to make sense, she is forced to come to the conclusion that there are some things in life that are simply, by nature, irrational and illogical. And that sometimes, chemistry doesn’t always happen inside a lab.

I’ve always thought of myself as a nerd because I studied in a high school that had a strong focus on science and math subjects, and I majored in electronics engineering in college. Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions reminded me of all the subjects that I had in high school and college where we had to conduct various lab experiments. There was a time when I spent most of my hours in a lab too. I used to say that I loved science and math but they didn’t love me back because I never found both to be easy. Which was probably why I didn’t pursue a career in those fields.

Having read Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions, I can definitely say that I’m nowhere near Kaya’s level of nerdiness. It took a while for me to get used to her way of narrating but I eventually found her endearing. She’s super smart, but she’s socially awkward. The sad thing is she knows it too, and she’s given up on pursuing stronger social connections because of previous failed attempts. I would gladly have been Kaya’s friend if she was a real person! It’s a good thing she has the support of her large and crazy family, so it’s not like she’s entirely alone. But it’s also her family that drives her to try an unusual experiment to find a boyfriend. I think most Filipinos would be able to relate to Kaya’s extended family, even if our own families don’t plan such elaborate parties. The way the Rubio clan was described was just realistically Filipino. Including the presence of nosy relatives. And like Kaya, I have been the recipient of many, many questions about why I’m still single, when am I planning to find a boyfriend, and why haven’t I settled down yet. I guess that’s just how Filipino titas (aunts) are wired? So yes, I could understand why Kaya thought it would be worth her while to embark on an unusual experiment to find a boyfriend.

While Kaya’s experimental dates were fun to read, I liked her interactions with her friends even better. She’s always been on good terms with her colleague and flatmate Eugene, but their friendship becomes stronger as he tries to help her navigate the dating field. I hope Eugene will get his own HEA in a later book. Kaya also becomes more willing to open up to the interns in her lab, as well as other researchers in their science institute. And of course, there’s Nero. Good-looking cafe owner, part-time graphic artist and definitely more experienced when it comes to relationships. On paper, it doesn’t seem like Kaya and Nero would really get along but it was interesting to see them get to know each other. How they’re both in totally different fields and have personalities that are poles apart but at their core, they’re just both flawed individuals looking to find someone who can see and appreciate their true selves. I’m glad that Nero got enough page time for readers to understand him better, and to see that there’s more to him than meets the eye.

Nerdy, sweet and cute, Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions is an enjoyable romance with strong Filipino values. I’m glad to have discovered a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) romance series that is set in the Philippines. Looking forward to the rest of the books in the series! I need to mention that this book is indie pubbed and there were some sections that could have been edited better (missing words, typos, tense changes, etc.) but I wasn’t bothered enough to be pulled out of the story. Just wanted to give a warning in case that’s something that other readers watch out for.

Other reviews:
Oops! I Read a Book Again
bibliophile soprano
Back Porch Reader


4 Comments

Cover Reveal: Iris After the Incident by Mina V. Esguerra

Iris After the Incident is the latest book in Mina V. Esguerra’s Chic Manila series, and will be released on August 5. These are books set in the Philippines that have some overlaps (e.g. cameos of characters) but each can be read on its own. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know that I’m a strong supporter of Mina’s books. My reviews of her Chic Manila books can be found here, and all my other posts about her books can be found here. The cover for Iris After the Incident was just released today! Cover design by Tania Arpa, photography by Pach R. Urrea and features one of the shots from #romanceclasscovers. I think it’s awesome how Mina keeps trying to properly represent her characters through her book covers. She has partnered with Filipino fashion bloggers for some of her other covers, and the photo for Iris After the Incident was from a shoot specifically intended for Asian/Filipino book covers. How cool is that? I really like the simple and clean design of this cover, and it seems like the photo matches the book description well. The cover makes Iris look like she’s at a turning point in her life. I still need to read the book to find out if the cover is a good fit for the story… looking forward to it!

Iris After the Incident

Which moment has defined your life so far?

Whether she likes it or not, Iris’s life has been divided into two: Before the Incident, and After the Incident. Something very private was made very public, and since then life has been about recovering from being shamed, discovering her true friends, and struggling to find a new normal.

Two years into this new life and she finally connects with a guy again. He lives in the apartment down the hall, he’s hot, and he doesn’t look at her that way. He doesn’t know what happened. But he also won’t give her his name, not right away—which has to mean he’s got something to hide too.

Iris wants to start over. Should she do that with the only person who will understand, or is this the same idiotic decision that got her in trouble in the first place?

Social media sites for Mina:
Website
Twitter
Instagram
Facebook
#romanceclass


2 Comments

Snapshot from a Book: Loveless. Childless. Clueless.

Another delayed post from me! I’ve been back in Singapore for a week now but was too busy starting at the new job so I wasn’t able to finish all the updates from my Manila trip. I had forgotten how lonely and awkward the first few days/weeks in a new job are, when you are still Clueless and Friendless (going by similar descriptors to the title of the book featured in this post). I’m sure it will get better though. 🙂 I hope I’ll have more time to read and blog once I’m more settled into my new role.

Anyway, Snapshot From a Book is a sporadic feature that I have on my blog where I match snippets of books I’ve read with pictures I’ve taken. I rarely get to do this because I don’t always get to visit the settings of the books I read. I have been wanting to visit Pinto Art Museum for the longest time, just that I haven’t been able to do so because it’s in the outskirts of Manila and traffic is always bad whenever I go home for a long vacation (because it’s usually at Christmastime). Luckily, I was able to venture to Antipolo during my recent trip! Pinto Art Museum such a gorgeous museum, garden, park, ideal photo shoot venue all rolled into one. If it was nearer to our house, I would have definitely visited it more than once. There’s a scene in Filipino romance Loveless. Childless. Clueless. by Miren B. Flores that’s set in that place, and of course I remembered it when I got there. Some shots that I took and two snippets from the book:

Pinto Art Museum 1

Pinto Art Museum 2

The museum is inside a gated community (we find out later that it used to be the home of a doctor who was a patron of the arts), nestled on top of a hill far away from the city. The walls are white stucco, rough and unadorned, cool to the touch.

We enter one of the galleries. Against white walls, the colors and textures in the modern paintings are stark, vibrant. There are swirls of midnight blue and dark purple, an ocean angry, tempestuous. A small canvas looks like the scene of a violent crime, a human heart beaten to a pulp, the words “You broke me” splattered over torn arteries.

Nice. Several months ago, I could’ve painted this.

Long arcades give us views of courtyards with little fountains. Curved staircases with colorful tiles lead to roof decks with wrought iron chairs and the occasional daybed; terra cotta steps reveal gardens dotted with sculptures.

I am half-expecting a Mexican drug lord to emerge from behind a tree, a Cuban cigar in one hand, the reins of a polo pony in the other.

Pinto Art Museum 3

Pinto Art Museum 4

Pinto Art Museum 5

Pinto Art Museum 7

Pinto Art Museum 6

Her hair is long, tight curls billowing around her shoulders. Her head is bowed, her face empty save for a small, upturned nose. Vines are crawling up her legs and thighs, wrapping themselves around her swollen belly.

The wind in her hair, the grace with which her hands touch her belly – it all looks so real, so warm, I can’t believe she’s made of metal.

Pinto Art Museum 8

Just looking at these pictures makes me want to go back! I hope I can find something as lovely as Pinto Art Museum in Singapore. Oh and by the way, I don’t have a physical copy of Lovesless. Childless. Clueless. so I asked my friend to bring the copy I gave her for Christmas last year. I knew I had to take a shot of it with that sculpture in the background.

Previous Snapshot From a Book posts:
Anawangin Cove, Zambales, What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra
Prague, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Ateneo de Manila University, Interim Goddess of Love by Mina V. Esguerra
Paris, The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand
Paris, The Chocolate Thief


5 Comments

Snapshot From a Book: What You Wanted

Snapshot From a Book is a sporadic feature that I have on my blog where I match snippets of books I’ve read with pictures I’ve taken. I rarely get to do this because I don’t always get to visit the settings of the books I read. And interestingly, all of my posts so far have featured my lomography shots. Today’s feature is What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra. This Filipino romance is primarily set in Manila but the couple takes a trip to Anawangin in Zambales. I’ve been to Anawangin twice and it’s beautiful, which is why I’m choosing to share pictures of it.

I hope these snippets and pictures make you more curious about the book!

lomo Anawangin boat

“Have you ever been to Anawangin?” I’d asked, suddenly.

Hours later, we were there. It was a bright, beautiful day. The drive north felt effortless, even if we had little sleep. We checked into a resort along the beach in Zambales, left the car and our heavier things there, and then hired a small boat to take us to the island.

This was something I did, by the way. Take off, no plans, do something crazy. Not everyone was up for it; my sister had long since asked to be left out of the invite list, my parents only requested that wherever it was, it should have phones or a decent signal. Damon didn’t even blink when he said yes, and he packed like a pro. I had the advantage of having been there before, but with a group of friends.

ZambalesLomo3

We couldn’t spend the night on the island, although that was what other people did. No tent, no other supplies, so we asked our boat guy to pick us up later that afternoon. There were a few other groups of people there, mostly friends setting up camp, and we had to find a spot near the water where we could be as broody as we wanted. The view was spectacular – a wonderfully confused cove of pine trees, green hills, and white-gray sand. Perfect for reflecting on our sins.

ZambalesLomo5

ZambalesLomo6

Anawangin, Zambales, Philippines
October 2011
Camera: Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim
Film: Fuji Velvia and Fuji Sensia

Previous Snapshot From a Book posts:
Prague, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Ateneo de Manila University, Interim Goddess of Love by Mina V. Esguerra
Paris, The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand
Paris, The Chocolate Thief


10 Comments

What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra

What You WantedAndrea and Damon first meet in the short story Wedding Night Stand, and their story continues in What You Wanted. This title is the latest in Mina V. Esguerra’s Chic Manila collection, which has romance books featuring female twenty-something professionals in Metro Manila. Not too long ago, I was also a female twenty-something working in an office in Manila so these books are fun for me to read because I can relate to them. They feel realistic, like the stories can happen to someone I know. Which was why I dove into What You Wanted sooner rather than later. I also like how Mina keeps partnering with Filipino fashion bloggers for her book covers. What You Wanted’s cover was designed by Tania Arpa, featuring fashion blogger Rhea Bue. Note to self: start posting OOTD shots so I can potentially be featured on a book cover.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

It’s the classic one-night stand: Beach wedding, bridesmaid, groom’s friend. When Andrea and Damon meet, sparks fly, and they give in to the attraction. Sounds simple, but Andrea’s still getting over someone, and Damon thought he’d be hooking up with another person that night. It could still be simple, really, if they chalk it up to a weekend tryst and move on.

But one night becomes lunch the week after, and then dinner the next weekend…and before they know it, Andrea and Damon are still together, dealing with the feelings they know they might still have for other people. How hard can it be to get exactly what you want? How do you even know what it is?

I enjoyed Andrea and Damon’s story of how they met and got together in Wedding Night Stand. I thought it was cute how they danced around their flirtation. What You Wanted is a continuation of their story and because they already got to spend a weekend together, the two of them are much more comfortable around each other. And I really liked that about them, how their sort-of-relationship felt really cozy. I liked both Andrea and Damon’s personalities and I thought they were great together. Andrea has a bit of wild side and seems like a fun person to hang out with. She likes doing spontaneous things like suddenly going off to a secluded beach hours away from the city by herself. She also tended to be flighty when it comes to relationships and the one time she was ready to become serious with someone, she got hurt pretty badly. Damon is the type of guy that seems like he has everything going for him – handsome, smart, polished and financially well-off. And yet the girl he’s been interested in for the past two years keeps dragging him along. For two people who haven’t had a stellar record in the relationship department, Andrea and Damon sure handled things well between the two of them. But maybe it’s because they tried to keep things casual – heck, it was supposed to be just a one night stand. That just kept being extended.

Like I said, I really liked how cozy Andrea and Damon were together. From how willing they were to meet the other person’s friends and family, to how Andrea kept sleeping over, to how they had their meals together, to how they kept meeting around their office area… it just felt like they were meant to be together because it seemed effortless and drama-free (when it’s just the two of them). The drama only happens when other people come into the picture. It made me root for them as a couple, and I wanted them to get over their hang ups and just be together. Overall, What You Wanted probably isn’t my favorite Mina V. Esguerra romance because while I liked Andrea and feel like I could be friends with someone like her, I couldn’t relate to her in the sense that I can’t see even a sliver of myself in her. I probably have more in common with her older sister Julie, who is more steady and acts a bit like an old maid (“manang”). Damon, however, might be one of my favorite Mina V. Esguerra heroes. He’s not perfect but even his imperfections seem appealing. Plus he loves to eat good food! Always a plus in my book.

The author’s Chic Manila books can be read as standalones but the latter books have cameos from the characters in earlier books. In What You Wanted, Damon and Andrea meet at a wedding where he’s a co-worker of the groom and she’s the sister of the bride. That was the wedding of Anton and Julie from That Kind of Guy. Damon also lives in the same condo as Ethan and Moira from Welcome to Envy Park. I think these little overlaps make it a little bit more fun to read the books because it makes the reader feel like all the characters are connected somehow. What You Wanted was an interesting addition to this collection and I’m looking forward to reading more romances set in Manila.

My reviews of the rest of the Chic Manila titles:
Wedding Night Stand Welcome to Envy Park That Kind of Guy Love Your Frenemies 2 No Strings Attached My Imaginary Ex Fairy Tale Fail 2


2 Comments

Cover Reveal: This Side of Sunny by Agay Llanera

I thoroughly enjoyed the first Agay Llanera book that I ever read, which was her YA novel Choco Chip Hips. It’s on my best of 2015 Filipino reads, and I even nominated it for the Cybils (because yay Filipino books). So when Agay mentioned that she’s working on another book that will be released in December, I was immediately curious. Here’s the cover (designed by Gerry Isaac) and book summary for her next title, This Side of Sunny:

This Side of Sunny

Like her boyfriend back in the States, 18-year-old Mela Connor is spending Spring Break by the beach. But the difference is she’s spending it on an exotic island in the Philippines, where she’ll spend the next six days finding her estranged mother, of whom she has no memory. In the process, Mela meets her self-appointed tour guide, Paolo, who helps Mela make amends with her past while struggling not to fall in love with her.

____________________________

What a bright and eye-catching cover! It’s definitely the type of cover design that would make you take a second look to check out the details. Based on the summary, it looks like the cover matches the story. It has a vacation/summer vibe going for it, with the suitcase, scooter and halo-halo (a type of Filipino snack). It makes me curious whether these things will play a part in Mela’s journey. Good thing the book will be released soon because I’m looking forward to reading this.

What do you guys think of this cover?