Best Books I’ve Read So Far In 2017

The first half of 2017 has come and gone! I’ve been meaning to write this post since June ended but we all know how real life gets in the way of things so I’m only able to do this now, when we’re already halfway through July. Better late than never! I’ve shared best books I’ve read for the first half of the year in 2016 as well as 2015, and wanted to do it again this year. While I haven’t been blogging that much, I’ve still been reading a lot. And it’s nice to look back on what titles have stood out for me. Also, it makes things easier for me at the end of the year when I share my Best of 2017 list. Here the books that I’ve read and loved in the first half of the year:

White Hot Clean Sweep One Fell Sweep

A Crown of Bitter Orange pretty face

thick-as-thieves Hunted

Four titles by Ilona Andrews (the Innkeeper Chronicles got me out of a bad slump in April), three contemporary romances from authors I love, and two YA fantasy titles. Of course THICK AS THIEVES is here… we’ve only waited SEVEN YEARS for this latest installment to be released! All of these books except for Hunted were written by my trusted authors so it’s not surprising that they’ve become favorites for this year. Hunted is a beautifully written, Russian-inspired retelling of Beauty and the Beast and my introduction to Meagan Spooner’s writing. Note to self: I need to try more new-to-me authors in the second half of the year to see if I’ll love any of them. Also, I need to read more books written by Filipino authors because I only have one on my list so far.

What about the rest of you, what have been the best books that you’ve read in 2017 so far? πŸ™‚ Do you have some of my picks in your own list? I would love to check out the books that would come highly recommended by bookish friends so please feel free to leave a comment.

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May 2017 Update

May has come and gone and I just realized that I had zero blog posts for that month. When I first started blogging, I’d blog everyday. Then eventually when real life started getting in the way of things, I’d be happy if I’m able to blog every week. And now apparently I can’t even do one blog post a month! Sigh, that’s what happens when too many real life stuff needed to be taken care of. It’s not that I’ve stopped reading (although I’ve had a bit of slump in April), it’s just that I haven’t been able to update my blog because it’s more difficult for me to open up my laptop to type up posts than to update apps that I have on my phone. So my Instagram, Litsy (username: Chachic) and Twitter accounts are constantly update but not WordPress. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Litsy posts can become embedded on WordPress soon, because I will have more updates to share then! In the meantime, below are some Instagram updates.

As mentioned earlier, I found myself in a bit of a slump in April and I was got over it by reading Ilona and Gordon’s books:

I inhaled the three books that are currently out in the Innkeeper Chronicles and hopefully I’ll get to write a review for the series at a later date (not making any promises though!) Another major bookish event for me in May was the book release of Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner:

But I didn’t read Thick as Thieves right away! Because I wanted the earlier books to be fresh in my mind before diving into the new one – sort of prolonging the whole reading process. So I reread the earlier books first, and it took me a while to get through them.

Those are mostly pics of The Queen of Attolia because my updates for The King of Attolia and A Conspiracy of Kings are mostly on Litsy. Unfortunately, I can’t embed them here. I have finished rereading them though, and have started on Thick as Thieves:

Looks like it will take me a while to get through this too, we’ll see how it goes. I plan to reread both Burn for Me and White Hot after I finish with the Queen’s Thief series. Although I’m eyeing a certain Beauty and the Beast retelling because of reviews from two good friends, Angie and Holly. If they both loved it, then I have a feeling I will as well. I would have one-clicked it but the Kindle edition is still pricey.

So, so, so. How have you all been? Hope you’ve had a less hectic May than I did. As always, please feel free to leave a comment if you’ve come across a book that you think I’ll enjoy reading.

Queen’s Thief News: Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner

What kind of Megan Whalen Turner fan would I be if I didn’t write a post about the latest news that we’ve been receiving about the Queen’s Thief series? It’s just that real life has been keeping me super busy lately (I’m in Manila in the weekend for my mom’s birthday) and I haven’t had a chance to blog until now. Anyway! During the past week, Greenwillow has released the repackaged covers for the earlier books in the series AND FINALLY made an announcement about book five: Thick as Thieves, which will be released May 2017. Behold, the cover from Publisher’s Weekly and the synopsis from Amazon:

thick-as-thieves

Kamet, a secretary and slave to his Mede master, has the ambition and the means to become one of the most powerful people in the Empire. But with a whispered warning the future he envisioned is wrenched away, and he is forced onto a very different path. Set in the world of the Queen’s Thief, this epic adventure sees an ordinary hero take on an extraordinary mission.

We’ve only waited SIX LONG YEARS for this installment. You can imagine the explosion on Twitter when all the MWT fans found out about this. Mostly all of us speaking in all caps and !!! and general squeeing. Absolutely cannot wait for this! I’m super excited.

Here are the redesigned covers for the earlier books:

the-thief-repackaged queen-of-attolia-repackages the-king-of-attolia-repackaged a-conspiracy-of-kings-repackaged

I must admit that I’m not such a big fan of these new designs. I’ve always thought that the earlier covers designed by Vince Natale were creatively and thoughtfully drawn. I loved that they were relevant to the stories, and that there was a theme of featuring hands and partial faces in all of them. But it’s understandable that redesigns happen in the publishing world and if these new covers manage to attract new readers, well and good!

The Queen’s Thief series is one of my all-time favorite series and I think MWT is a brilliant author. I even organized a Queen’s Thief Week a few years ago to celebrate my love for these books. If you’ve been following my blog and you think we have the same taste in books, then I highly recommend that you read these books if you haven’t had a chance to do so. This series means so much to me, not just because of how much I love the books, but also because I met some of my best bookish friends through this series. I first started being active in the book community when I joined Sounis on LiveJournal, and kept in touch with fellow Sounisians even after moving to WordPress. It’s also one of those series where once I find out that someone is a fan, I immediately want to be friends with them. And I tend to trust book recommendations from fellow MWT fans more. This is how I discovered more favorite authors like Elizabeth Wein. If I find out an author is an MWT fan, I’m also more likely to read their books. Or if I’ve already read their books (like in Melina Marchetta’s case), my view of them goes up even higher. So, so, so. All of that just means that 2017 will be a good year because Thick of Thieves will finally be released!

Breaking News: Queen’s Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner

This news was shared all over Twitter the other day, but in case you missed it… Monica Edinger has some news about the Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner:

… a little bird told me the next two are in the home stretch of being finished and coming out some time in the not-too-far-off future. First the publisher will reissue the original four to bring a new generation of readers to them and then….numbers five and six.

Queen's Thief

This is HUGE! Megan Whalen Turner fans have been wait for YEARS to hear some news about her next book. I’m thrilled that they’re planning to reissue the books to gain more readers but I’m really hoping that the new designs will be just as good as the Vince Natale covers that the series currently has. This series and the community around it means a lot to me. I read the books before I started my blog so I didn’t really write a review of it, but I did host a blog event back in 2012 to celebrate the books and you can read some of the posts here.

If you haven’t read the series and you feel like we have similar tastes in books then I highly recommend that you pick it up. I’m borrowing an image made by my friend Angie when she did her guest post for Queen’s Thief Week:

Queen's Thief Week: Guest Post by Angie of Angieville

Tricksters

I have a confession to make. I’m really behind when it comes to movies and TV shows because I spend most of my free time sleeping, reading or blogging. There are times when my friends would ask me to watch a movie and then I’d say that I won’t be able to join them because it’s a sequel for something that I haven’t seen yet. Anyway, I was really curious about Thor: The Dark World since so many people seemed to enjoy it. I watched the first Thor movie on Friday night so I could watch the sequel with my flatmates on Saturday (note that I still haven’t seen the Avengers, Captain America or any of the Iron Man movies). I’m talking about seeing these movies here on my blog tonight because they are the reason why I wasn’t able to read or blog this weekend. Also, I wanted to bring up something that I’m interested in.

Thor 2

I guess it’s not surprising that I thought Loki was such a great character in both Thor movies, I liked him a lot more than Thor. While I’m not really familiar with Norse mythology, I’ve seen Loki mentioned in other books before as the trickster god. I find gods (or even mortal characters) like that intriguing. I was reminded of how much I liked the trickster god Kyprioth in Tamora Pierce’s Daughter of the Lioness duology and I think most of you know that I’m a big fan of Eugenides, the patron god of thieves in Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series. Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst also has a trickster god called Korbyn but I kind of felt like he wasn’t as mischievous as the other two.

Loki from Thor

Image from Tumblr.

I Googled tricksters and found that Wikipedia has a definition of it:

The trickster deity breaks the rules of the gods or nature, sometimes maliciously (for example, Loki) but usually with ultimately positive effects (though the trickster’s initial intentions may have been either positive or negative). Often, the bending/breaking of rules takes the form of tricks (e.g. Eris) or thievery. Tricksters can be cunning or foolish or both; they are often funny even when considered sacred or performing important cultural tasks. An example of this is the sacred Iktomi, whose role is to play tricks and games and by doing so raises awareness and acts as an equalizer.

I like how cunning tricksters are and how things will never get boring when they’re involved. Sometimes they’re good guys but they can also be villains and more often that not, it’s difficult to decipher what their intentions are. I brought it up here because I would be interested in hearing about other well-written fantasy novels or series that have tricksters in them since I only know of the titles I mentioned above. Have you read any other books that have trickster characters in them? Or maybe TV shows or movies? Are you interested in tricksters like I am or you don’t really care for them? As always, let me know what you guys think. Hope you all had a good weekend, I felt like it went by so fast.

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Sequels

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is best sequels. Here are some books that I thought were just as good as (or even better) than the first book in the series:

The Queen of Attolia Final

The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner – I thought The Thief was a good book but I was stunned by how amazing these two sequels are. I’ve reread them several times but they never get old. Sigh, wonder when the next book in the series will come out?

A Coalition of Lions ebook

A Coalition of Lions, The Sunbird and The Mark of Solomon duology by Elizabeth Wein – As much as I love EWein’s writing, I don’t think The Winter Prince was for me. I’m so glad my introduction to her Lion Hunters series was through The Sunbird because I fell in love with it right away.

Son of the Shadows

Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier – Daughter of the Forest was such a lovely, lyrical read and I delighted to discover that the sequel is just as good. I think I may even like Liadan a little bit more than Sorcha.

Blood Challenge

Blood Challenge (book 7 in the World of the Lupi series) by Eileen Wilks – My favorite out of all the books that are currently out in this series! I loved how it kept surprising me right until the end.

Silver Shark

Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews – Novellas like this are the kind that you read in one sitting. I would love to see more books about this world.

Where She Went

Where She Went by Gayle Forman – I guess I was lucky that it took me a while to read Gayle Forman’s books because I got to read this together with If I Stay and I think it balances the story arc so well.

The rest of the books in my list are more companion novels rather than sequels, even though they were published after the first book.

Fire

Fire – Loved so many things in this novel: the characters, the romance, the setting and how unique monsters in this world are.

Piper US Aussie

The Piper’s Son – Together with Jellicoe Road, The Piper’s Son is my favorite Melina Marchetta novel. ALL THE FEELS!

The Chocolate Kiss

The Chocolate Kiss and The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand – I think it’s great that each of the books in the Amour et Chocolat series has a different tone and feel, makes it much more fun to read them.

Down London Road

Down London Road by Samantha Young – Even better than the first book, this was such a good romance that started off with the two protagonists not even liking each other. Love-hate relationships FTW!

What about you, do you agree/disagree with any of my choices? Have you read sequels that are just as good or even better than the first book in a series? Feel free to share what those titles are.

Top Ten Books When You Need Something Light and Fun

Top Ten Tuesday2

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is such a good one. I love light and fun reads because I feel like they come in handy whenever I feel like a book slump is about to occur. Or when I want to cleanse my reading palate after reading a dense fantasy novel or an emotionally heavy book. I don’t have to be in a certain mood to read books like the ones I’ve included here, I can just pick them up whenever I want to read something that’s easy to get into. In no particular order, here are my top ten light reads:

I Do and At First Sight by Elizabeth Chandler – Bantam’s Love Stories series was the YA series to follow back when I was a teen. These two by Elizabeth Chandler are my favorites. I can’t even remember the number of times I’ve reread these.

Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra – I feel like I’m a broken record because I keep saying this but Mina is my favorite Filipino chick lit author. I could relate to her novels because they’re about young Filipino women and her books are set in the Philippines.

Something About You by Julie James – All of Julie James’ romances are filled with a healthy dose of humor, which is why I enjoy reading them. Something About You is the first in her FBI/US Attorney series and my favorite so far. There’s just something about main characters who keep bickering to hide their attraction.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – Such a swoon-worthy novel set in one of the most romantic cities in the world. Really enjoyed the tension between Anna and Etienne.

The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand – Another novel set in Paris! But adult contemporary romance instead of YA. Couldn’t help but feel good whenever I read Laura Florand’s novels – I’m a fan of how she combines romance with delicious food.

Laduree macarons

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen – This one might not be considered light because the main characters have to deal with some pretty serious issues but there’s something magical about the writing that makes it so much fun to read.

A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson – The first Eva Ibbotson novel that I ever read and it’s still one of my favorites. I love the fairy tale feel of this historical fiction novel.

Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews – I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this since I’m not a sci-fi girl. I didn’t get confused by the details of the sci-fi setting and I really liked the romance

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley – I could relate to Harry’s thirst for adventure and I loved living vicariously through her (and all other strong female characters I admire).

The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner – I know, I know. A book riddled with political intrigue isn’t usually considered light fare but I’ve reread this book so many times that it has just become a comfort read. Plus, Gen is always good for some laughs.

I’ve noticed that most of my picks for light reads are contemporary novels and that ALL of them have some kind of romance in them. It sure looks like I enjoy a well-written love story in my feel good reads. Do you agree with some of my choices? What are some of your own favorite light reads?

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?

Book Haul: Times Book Sale

I veered away from my usual Sunday library visit because my friend invited me to go with her to the book sale organized by Times. Since books are pricey here in Singapore, I wanted to take advantage of the availability of bargain books.

Times Book Sale

I was delighted to discover that there were several shelves of books in that place and all of them were being sold at a discounted price. So of course, we spent a few hours browsing through everything. I was pleasantly surprised to see novels written by Filipino authors available in the sale:

Filipino books in SG book sale

I was thrilled when I saw this edition of The Queen of Attolia because I don’t have a copy of it yet and one can never have enough copies of one’s favorite books:

Queen of Attolia in Times

Remember when I said that I haven’t bought books for myself ever since I moved here in Singapore? I’ve only purchased books given as gifts to friends. For my own reading, I just borrow from the library. Well, I made up for that with this stash:

Times book sale haul Dec 2012

Thunder on the Right by Mary Stewart
Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Kiss It by Erin Downing
Hangman’s Holiday by Dorothy Sayers
Lord Peter Views the Body by Dorothy Sayers
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
The Chocolate Run and The Cupid Effect omnibus by Dorothy Koomson

I got all of these for only SGD 32. Not bad, right? I like seeing them all lined up on the shelf in my room. Yay for more books! What about you, what books have you bought or borrowed this week?

Marchetta Madness: Guest Post by Megan Whalen Turner

Remember Queen’s Thief Week back in January? I made a stunning discovery when Melina Marchetta’s guest post went up: Megan Whalen Turner is also a fan of MM’s work. You can just imagine how excited I was to discover this – mutual author love FTW! So of course I had to ask MWT if she’d be willing to write anything for Marchetta Madness. She kindly said yes.


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There are many things to love in Melina Marchetta’s book, but selfishly, what I love best are the parents. In fairy tales, the first step was always to kill off the parents so that the next generation could go off and have adventures. Modern authors frequently do the same. (So many dead mothers in those Newbery Medal books, not to mention one or two in mine.) For variety’s sake, we sometimes throw in bad parents instead of dead ones, those who are either absent or so dreadful that you wish they were absent.

There are dead parents, missing parents, and dreadful parents in Marchetta’s books, but there are just as many loving and attentive parents. I’m glad because the unfortunate side effect of having all adventures and problems begin with absent or awful parents is the underlying assumption that kids with good parents don’t have adventures and moreover don’t have problems. That’s a mistaken and disturbing assumption. On the upside, good parents don’t have to get in the way of adventures. On the downside, as Marchetta shows so eloquently, even the best parents can’t protect their kids all the time.
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Thank you, MWT, for allowing me to encourage readers of your books to pick up Melina Marchetta’s novels (and vice versa). I know how busy you must be so I appreciate that you were able to squeeze in a guest post. Be blessed in your endeavors!