Chachic's Book Nook


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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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NCBD Blog Tour: Favorite Filipino Children and Young Adult Titles

I found out about the upcoming 32nd National Children’s Books Day from Chrissie’s blog post. I loved that she highlighted Filipino children and young adult titles. There is an ongoing NCBD blog tour and this week’s topic is this:

Hulyo 7-13: Paboritong Aklat
Ano ang paborito mong aklat pambata at pangkabataan? (Kailangang isinulat o iginuhit ito ng isang Pilipino. Maaari namang maglista nang higit sa isa pa.)
________

July 7-13: Favorite Book
What is your favorite children and young adult book? (It should have been written or illustrated by a Filipino. Feel free to list more than one.)

NCBD Blog Tour Header

I am so jealous of the titles available to Filipino children and young adult readers today. When I was young, there weren’t as many local books to choose from. But there were a few that I loved. I distinctly remember being a huge fan of books published by the Batibot brand. Batibot was a Filipino kiddie TV show similar to Sesame Street. Some of the kiddie books I read over and over again were:

Sina Linggit Laban kay Barakuda ni Tom F. Agulto & Rene O. Villanueva
Ang Pamilya Ismid ni Ramoncito Serrano & Rene O. Villanueva
Si Inggolok at ang Planeta Pakaskas ni Rene O. Villanueva & Lem Garcellano

Sina Linggit Laban kay Barakuda
Ang Pamilya Ismid
Si Inggolok at ang Planeta Pakaskas

I remember my nursery school even put up a play enacting Sina Linggit Laban kay Barakuda and I was Linggit! Too bad my photo albums are all back in Manila, otherwise I’d try to hunt down a picture.

Nowadays, I try to encourage my godchildren to read by giving them books for their birthdays and during Christmastime. I’ve read several Filipino children’s books while choosing what titles to buy for them. A recent favorite was Ang Bonggang Bonggang Batang Beki, which I discovered through Filipino author Mina V. Esguerra.

Bonggang Bonggang Batang Beki

A few years ago, I attended the Manila book launch of Candy Gourlay’s Tall Story, a middle grade novel partially set in the Philippines. I enjoyed reading it and I’ve recommended it to other people as well. I have Candy’s Shine in my TBR pile and I’m planning to read it soon. These two books are available internationally so I happily recommend them to reader friends who are interested in reading Filipino books.

Tall Story

What about you, what are Filipino children or young adult books have you enjoyed reading?


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Snapshot From a Book: Interim Goddess of Love

I’ve mentioned before that Mina V. Esguerra’s setting for her Interim Goddess of Love trilogy (my reviews of Interim Goddess of Love, Queen of the Clueless, Icon of the Indecisive) strongly reminds me of our alma mater – Mina and I went to the same school. I’ve also posted pictures of the Ateneo de Manila University but I wanted to do it again now while highlighting certain sections out of Interim Goddess of Love for this Snapshot From a Book post. I have such fond memories of studying in Ateneo – I met some of my closest friends there, had inspiring teachers and classes, enjoyed extra-curricular activities and just generally liked hanging out in school. Reading the Interim Goddess of Love books brought back some of those memories. Here are a few quotes and photos:

“Located just outside of Metro Manila, Ford River College was a relatively new school (compared to the over-a-century-old ones put up during the Spanish and American periods), but it already had a reputation for being the place to send your children if they were very smart, or if you were very rich. I was there on scholarship, but I didn’t think that automatically put me in the camp of very smart. Maybe lucky.”

LomoAteneo

“Did I want to go to Ford River? I visited the campus and it looked beautiful, its brick buildings scattered in a field of green that looked out onto an actual (clean) creek on one side, and a hill on the other. I went to high school in the middle of Manila, and maybe I’d had enough of that.”

LomoAteneo2

lomoateneo4

This last bit is not related to the setting but it’s a beautiful quote so I wanted to include it:

“Because, though I’d seen and felt just a fraction of all the love in the world, I knew that when people thought of love they thought of moments. Whether or not a marriage worked out, or if they stayed together after graduation, or if they did go to the big dance together, the story’s end mattered less, and the highlights in between mattered more. Those are what lingered, and what people can go back to, even when they had nothing left.”

lomoateneo5


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Giveaway: Interim Goddess of Love Trilogy

Interim Goddess of Love_digital coverQueen of the CluelessIcon of the Indecisive

Mina V. Esguerra’s Interim Goddess of Love trilogy is now available in an omnibus Kindle edition. This is a series set in a fictional college in the Philippines. It has a contemporary setting with some Philippine mythology mixed in. Mina has very generously offered a Kindle edition up for grabs, you just need to have an Amazon account (or be willing to sign up for one) to join. As always, I can’t embed the Rafflecopter widget on my blog so click HERE instead.

Summary of the trilogy:

College sophomore Hannah Maquiling doesn’t know why everyone tells her their love problems. She’s never even had a boyfriend, but that doesn’t stop people from spilling their guts to her, and asking for advice. So maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise when the cutest guy in school tells her that she’s going to have to take on this responsibility — but for all humanity.

The Goddess of Love has gone AWOL. It’s a problem, because her job is to keep in check this world’s obsession with love (and lack of it). The God of the Sun, for now an impossibly handsome senior at an exclusive college just outside of Metro Manila, thinks Hannah has what it takes to (temporarily) do the job.

INTERIM GODDESS OF LOVE: While she’s learning to do this goddess thing, she practices on the love troubles of shy Kathy, who’s got a secret admirer on campus. Hannah’s mission, should she choose to accept it, is to make sure that he’s not a creepy stalker and they find their happily ever after — or at least something that’ll last until next semester. (As if she could refuse! The Sun God asked so nicely. And he’s so, well, hot.)

QUEEN OF THE CLUELESS: If you’ve been feeling neglected by the Goddess of Love lately, don’t worry — Hannah Maquiling, college sophomore, is in training to take over. The Original Goddess is missing, but Hannah is Interim Goddess now, and she should figure out how to solve humanity’s love problems soon. Quin (God of the Sun) is still her mentor, still really hot, but apparently isn’t as honest about his other earthly relationships as she thought. It’s frustrating, and enough to make her check out possibilities with Diego (God of the Sea) and Robbie (Cute Human).

In the meantime, she’s decided to spend some of her precious training time helping to break up a relationship, instead of putting one together. Why? Because the girl in question happens to be her best friend Sol, whose boyfriend is stealing not just from her, but from other people on campus. Sol didn’t exactly summon the Goddess, but this is what power over Love is for, right? Surely it’s not just about matchmaking, but ending doomed relationships too. (Even when it’s not what people want.)

ICON OF THE INDECISIVE: College student Hannah Maquiling, also temporarily working as the Goddess of Love, has had enough of everyone asking for her help when it comes to relationships. It’s her turn to find romance! She deserves it, after serving as matchmaker and confidant to everyone else in Ford River College for the past year. She’s had a crush on handsome senior (and God of the Sun) Quin forever, but he’s destined to fall in love with an extraordinary mortal woman, so she’s figured her chances with him have pretty much dropped to zero.

It’s not like she doesn’t have any options for a classic college romance though. There’s Diego, God of the Sea and Quin’s best friend/enemy. And regular guy Robbie is stepping up, making sure she knows how he feels about her. How hard can it be for a goddess to find someone to love, and be loved in return?

My reviews:
Interim Goddess of Love
Queen of the Clueless
Icon of the Indecisive


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Young and Scambitious by Mina V. Esguerra

I grabbed Young and Scambitious while it was available for free on Amazon. I think the cover looks great, it has an intriguing and glamorous feel that goes well with the premise. Yesterday, I couldn’t decide what to read next so I thought I’d start on this short story because it would be easy to get into. I started reading it on the train ride on the way to work in the morning and was able to finish it on the way back in the afternoon.

Young and ScambitiousHere’s the summary from Goodreads:

Who is Elizabeth Madrid, exactly? She’s Manila’s latest It Girl–stylish, staple of the club scene, new best friend of famous-for-being-famous Chrysalis Magnolia. She’s also a jewelry clan heiress, a former model, an Ivy Leaguer… except no one actually knew of her until last year. Shouldn’t her new society friends be more suspicious? Especially “BFF” Chrysalis, who reportedly already lost an expensive ring to a friend who turned out to be a thief?

I like that this story focuses on the Manila socialite scene and the people who prey on the rich. While I’ve never been into that kind of scene, I think it’s interesting to read about it. Even though Jane is a con artist, I really liked her as a character. I feel like she’s only doing what she has to do in order to survive. She’s good at playing out different roles and she takes advantage of that skill. I also like that she’s a reader, I think it’s always nice when a character likes to read.

“Jane liked to go to libraries. She spent a lot of time in them growing up, and she had had to grow up in several places. Later she started seeing how each building was different. In one place, old and regal; in another, shabby and musty.

So since the preparation for the Chrysalis Magnolia job had her visit Singapore, a city with a (shiny and modern) public library, she naturally had to go there on her only day free.”

I thought it was pretty cool that the story was partially set in Singapore, in a library! I could totally relate to that. I also liked that even though the story is so short, there was still enough room for some romance. My only issue with this short story is that I felt like the whole thing ended a bit abruptly. I kind of got the feeling there should be more to the ending that what I got. Maybe I wouldn’t have minded if I knew that the ending was meant to leave readers hanging? According to Mina, there will are probable sequels to this but no definite date on when they will be published. I think that will give readers a fuller perspective of the story that was introduced in Young and Scambitious. Check this out if you want a quick read that you can finish in one sitting or if you want to give Mina’s writing a try.


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Giveaway: Cover (Story) Girl by Chris Mariano

Cover Story Girl wallpaper

Last July 30, 2013, my friend Chris Mariano published Cover (Story) Girl, a contemporary Filipino romance written in English about what happens when an assistant museum curator meets a Korean tourist with a secret or two. The novella features Boracay Island and Aklan prominently. It also contains about 40,200 words, including a glossary for Tagalog and Aklanon terms mentioned in the story. It was published independently.

From the Amazon page:

1) She has amnesia.
2) She’s on the run from herfather’s creditors.
3) She’s enjoying herlast days on earth.

Ever since Jang Min Hee walked into Gio’ssmall museum,she’s given him one excuse after another about why she’s vacationing atscenic Boracay Island. Rarely has Gio’s neat and organized world been shaken like this. Soon he finds himselfscrambling overrocks, hiding in dressing rooms, and dragging her out of bars. But howcan Gio tell what’strue from what isn’t? Their worlds are getting unraveled – one story at a time.

About the Author:
Cover (Story) Girl is Chris Mariano’s first published romance work, but her speculative fiction and poetry have appeared in Fully Booked’s Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards Prose Anthology, Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 7, TAYO Literary Magazine, and Ideomancer. When she’s not writing,she supports Eskritoryo Pilipinas, an organization that encourages kids to appreciate Filipino literature and culture. Chris divides her time between Manila and Aklan. Boracay is a two-hour trip from their home in Kalibo. She’s also a fan of Korean telenovelas, which is why common K-drama plot devices are referenced in the story. She’s already working on her next novella, also set in Aklan.

Follow Chris through Twitter or her blog.

Download links for wallpapers, in case you want them:
1280 x 960
1440 x 900
1600 x 900

Now for the giveaway! Five lucky winners will get an ebook edition of Cover (Story) Girl just by leaving a comment with an answer to this question: who would you want to go on a beach vacation with? Giveaway ends on August 24, I’ll randomly pick the winners the next day. Open internationally to anyone who has a Smashwords account.

Giveaway is closed. Winners have been contacted.


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Review and Giveaway: All’s Fair in Blog and War by Chrissie Peria

I heard about All’s Fair in Blog and War as soon as it came out. While I’ve never met Chrissie Peria in person, we share some common friends (she’s good friends with my flatmates as well as fellow Filipino book blogger Chris of Ficsation). Plus, she wrote her novella for Mina V. Esguerra’s romance class so Mina is another person who is actively promoting this title. I was planning to read All’s Fair in Blog and War sooner or later because I was curious about the premise and I think the cover is pretty cute. I just decided to bump it up the TBR pile because of all the recommendations floating around.

All's Fair in Blog and WarHere’s the summary from Goodreads:

Five Cuevas @fivetravels
Three guesses to where I’m going next. Starts with an M. Ends with a U. Has a lechon named after it. #travel

Travel blogger Five thinks she has hit the jackpot when the Macau Tourism Board invites her over for an all-expense-paid blogger tour in exchange for blogging about Macau. But while she happily signs up for the trip, she didn’t sign up to be travel buddies with the infuriating Jesse. Will her dream vacation turn into a nightmare junket? Or will falling in love be on the itinerary?

It’s always fun to read about bloggers even if they don’t blog about books. The last novella that I read that had a blogger main character was All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate by Laura Florand (funny that the two titles are so similar). I really enjoyed the blogging aspect of Five’s life because I could relate to it – how her blog shapes her vacation plans and how it’s more than just a hobby for her. That’s how I feel about my blog as well, a niche blog can take over your life like that. She’s a lot luckier than me though because look at how she won a contest to visit Macau to blog about it! Would love to have a similar huge blog-related experience. I was also interested in reading more about the tourist attractions in Macau because I’ve never been there. From what I heard from friends, I always thought there wouldn’t be a lot to do in Macau if you’re not into gambling but looks like I made the wrong assumption because Jesse and Five found more than enough things to occupy their time. As a foodie, I also enjoyed hearing details about what kind of dishes and snacks are available in Macau. This novella made me want to have an egg tart! Good thing they’re pretty common here in Singapore. One other thing that Five and I had in common was this:

I knew I was early, so I found a comfortable spot and pulled out a well-worn copy of Pride and Prejudice. I always revert to Austen when I’m in between books. P&P has always been my favorite, so it was the book I decided to pack for this trip.

That little snippet was while she was waiting at the airport. I always bring a book (or my Kindle) with me whenever I travel so I can’t even count the number of times I’ve read books in airports. And Pride and Prejudice is also my favorite Austen. *P&P high five* While I think that All’s Fair in Blog and War is a light and fun read, I also felt like it would have been better if it was a little longer. I’m not sure if word count was a factor that had to be considered for the romance class which produced this novella, but I would have liked to see more character development, more tension or kilig (swoon-worthy) moments between the two main characters. Other than that, I found this an enjoyable read. Recommended for contemporary romance readers who would like to try Filipino fiction. This is the kind of book that you can finish in one sitting, maybe while waiting to check in or board or even during a flight. For a more interactive experience, readers can follow the characters on Instagram: fivetravels, and Twitter: @5travels and @wanderingcamera.

Macau postcard from Anj

What a coincidence, I received a postcard from Macau today!

All right, giveaway time! Chrissie was generous enough to provide codes for free copies for the Smashwords edition of All’s Fair in Blog and War. To join the giveaway, leave a comment letting us know what country in Asia are you most interested in visiting? Aside from Macau, I’d love to go to Cambodia, Vietnam and South Korea. Giveaway ends July 19 and three winners will be chosen randomly. Open internationally to anyone who has a Smashwords account. Oy, if you don’t win, the book is only USD 0.99 so feel free to grab your own copy.

Giveaway has ended and winners have been notified.

Other reviews:
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