Cebu: Vacation and #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy

Hello, WordPress followers! If you also follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Litsy, then you would know that I was on vacation on Cebu for a few days. Cebu is one of the provinces in the Visayas region in the Philippines, and I went to Moalboal and Cebu City. It was my first time in Cebu and I had a great time! Also realized that the last time I traveled on a domestic flight was in 2011 when I went to Bohol. I’m hoping to be able to do more local travel in the near future. While I was in Cebu, I was able to do some #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy posts so I’m including those in this update.

In Moalboal, we stayed at the gorgeous Hale Manna resort, which is owned by Liana’s family. Liana blogs at Will Read for Feels and I met her through the circle of romance readers in the Philippines. It never ceases to amaze me at how I keep meeting awesome bookish people, both online and in real life. I was able to meet with Liana while in Cebu, first at Moalboal and then we traveled together back to Cebu City. Here are some pictures of Hale Manna in Moalboal, scroll right to see all of them:

In Cebu City, first stop was Liana’s book cafe called Books and Brews. I love book cafes and if I lived in Cebu, I would definitely be a regular in this one. The cafe has an extensive selection of books written by Filipino and foreign authors which you can read while hanging out at the place. It’s also cozy and comfortable and a good place to study or work in, if you would prefer not to read.

When I was researching on what places I’d like to visit in Cebu, I knew I would want to check out ancestral houses if there were any in the area. We got to visit two of them: Casa Gorordo and Yap-Sandiego House. I’m a sucker for historic places and these two were a pleasure to view. They’re both typical “balay na tisa” or “bahay na bato”, built in the 1800’s with a mix of Spanish, Chinese and Filipino influences.

We also got to see Museo Sugbo, which is Cebu’s provincial museum. It was previously a provincial jail but has been converted to showcase the history of the province.

Last, but certainly not the least was getting to try the food options in Cebu that aren’t available in Manila! I loved both The Chocolate Chamber and AA Barbecue, and I’m sure you’ll be able to tell why based on these pictures:

I hope you guys enjoyed this update post. I had an amazing time in Cebu but it’s always good to be home in Manila. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you’ve been to Cebu, please feel free to share your own experience. Also, would be happy to hear suggestions on what ancestral houses in the country should be included in my bucket list. For those who haven’t been to Cebu, I hope I’ve made you more curious about the province, and that you’ll get to visit it eventually.

#BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy โ€“ Week 1 Round Up

Itโ€™s been more than a week since #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy started! Find out more about the event here, and as mentioned earlier, I hope you guys take this chance to read books written by Filipino authors. Since I’m a supporter of romanceclass authors (Indie pubbed Filipino romance written in English), I made a thread on Twitter of books that are currently on sale for just 0.99usd. Go and browse through the list of more than 20 titles. More will be added in the coming days.

Look at that, I finally figured out how to center align an embedded tweet on WordPress, yay! Okay, moving on to the topic on hand… I wanted to do a round up of the posts Iโ€™ve made on Instagram so far. I wasn’t able to do posts on a daily basis, I missed a few days but hoping to do more in the coming weeks! Let’s see how it goes.

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#BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy: I had lunch with Honey and Tarie earlier today, two out of the three ladies behind the @lovethemidlist account. They pair midlist book recommendations with skincare products they love. So my post today was inspired by what they do. Cover Story Girl by @islandstorygirl is a fun beach romance set in Boracay Island, with a Filipino hero and a Korean heroine. Full disclosure, Chris Mariano is a good friend so I may be biased but I'm a fan of her writing. Skincare-wise, I absolutely love @vanderohe's no. 1 face serum: a blend of rosehip, grapeseed, apricot kernel carrier oils plus 8 essential oils. It's organic, smells amazing, feels awesome on my skin and has helped my face become smoother and clearer. One stop skincare solution in a bottle!

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If youโ€™re interested in featuring or reading Filipino books, thereโ€™s still lots of time for you to join #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy. What books written by Filipino authors are in your TBR pile?

Best Books Iโ€™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? ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

Snapshot from a Book: Better At Weddings Than You

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. Last Sunday, as I was heading to TWG tea salon for brunch with friends, I remembered that there’s a scene in Better At Weddings Than You by Mina V. Esguerra that was partially inspired by TWG. TWG is a Singaporean tea brand and they have tea salons all over the country, and even abroad. They have an extensive list of hundreds of different kinds of teas and part of the fun in going there is trying to decide what to get. I love how fragrant and delicious their teas are, and I’m also a fan of their scones served with tea-flavored jelly and clotted cream. I’ve previously mentioned this place in this post.

Here were the pictures from last Sunday, when I brought Better At Weddings Than You with me:

Swipe right to see all of the pictures, or hover over the image and click the right arrow. The scene in the book that’s set in a tea salon is actually the first time that the heroine gets to meet the hero. Both of them are wedding planners and they set an appointment at a tea shop:

He asked to meet her at a tea shop, exactly the one she’d been planning to visit as soon as she had a chance. It was suspicious, like he had tapped into her idle thoughts somehow. She walked into the coziest little tea place she’d ever seen and couldn’t help it, couldn’t help feeling the delight that unfurled in her chest, then letting it make her smile. She caught herself looking happy a split second later and tried to wipe it off.

This was a job.

It was not a date.

TWG cafe - flower tea, scones and macarons

“Need a recommendation?”

She knew from reading reviews that this place carried dozens of variants of tea. Also, she liked it. She was a tea person. Friends knew this about her; she got tins from all over the world as gifts.

Need a recommendation, my ass.

“No, thank you.” Her eyebrow reacted to this though the rest of her face hopefully did not. There was a menu in frond of her and she looked down at it instead. “I love tea. I’ll make my own choice.”

That she did, calling the server and asking for a grape-and-cherry blend with a black tea base, and asked for it hot.

I hope these snippets from the book has made you more curious to read Better At Weddings Than You by Mina V. Esguerra, it’s a stand-alone title from her Chic Manila series, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I also hoped you enjoyed seeing these pictures of TWG that I shared. I hope I manage to do another Snapshot from a Book post soon!

TWG tea book

Previous Snapshot From a Book posts:
Pinto Art Museum, Loveless. Childless. Clueless. by Miren B. Flores
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

Better At Weddings Than You Blog Tour: Food Inspiration

Mina V. Esguerra is a prolific Filipino romance author and the founder of #romanceclass, a community of Filipino romance authors who publish books independently. I have featured her books and her writing countless times here on my blog, and I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for her latest release: Better At Weddings Than You. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I need to work on a review to share more of my thoughts about it. Aside from romance books, one thing that Mina and I share is our love of food! I noticed that Better At Weddings Than You had references to some restaurants and certain dishes, and I thought it would be a great topic for a guest post. I hope this guest post will make you curious enough to read the book when it comes out, and also to try the food mentioned here! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Food Inspiration: As featured in Better At Weddings Than You
by Mina V. Esguerra

My books are not about food, but they may as well be. I write contemporary romance but I also love food… and I keep talking about it. Especially when Iโ€™m writing anything set in the Philippines. With Better At Weddings Than You, the premise that the main characters Daphne and Aaron worked in the wedding industry formed the โ€œmenuโ€ for this book. Hereโ€™s a selection and the real-life counterparts!

  • Christmas Eve dinner (Real thing: Spiral Restaurant at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel)
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Daphne and Aaron meet over Christmas Eve dinner at a fancy hotel restaurant by the Manila Bay, and if youโ€™re familiar with the area itโ€™s an easy guess that it might actually be Spiral Restaurant at the Sofitel. If you know me at all, then youโ€™d be sure โ€” I adore the large restaurant, the seafood, salads, meats, and the cheese room.

  • Tea shop meeting (Real things: Rustic Mornings and TWG)
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So the tea shop I describe in an early chapter of the book doesnโ€™t actually exist (that I know of) but itโ€™s based on the many small restaurants popping up in the city. It would have a look similar to Rustic Mornings by Isabelo in Marikina, but with a tea list that would remind you of a page from the menu of TWG. Just a page, because TWG of Singaporeโ€™s full menu would be too much for a quaint neighborhood tea place!

  • Caterer Food Tasting scene (Real thing: K by Cunanan)

How do you choose your caterer for your wedding? You taste their food. While planning my own wedding I (seriously) sampled the menus of three caterers, and one of the visits kind of went like the scene in my book. K by Cunanan is one caterer youโ€™d encounter in the industry, and they did our wedding. We loved the food and their reception venue styling.

  • Chicharon salad (Real thing: Chef Sharwin Teeโ€™s Tempura Bacon Salad)

In one scene, Daphne gets to reveal something about herself and I get to describe a decadent salad. Everything I said about the salad is directly from a food memory โ€“ of eating my friend Sharwinโ€™s Tempura Bacon Salad at his restaurant. I replaced the bacon with chicharon though. If you can make this salad happen, let me know! I think it works well with a fruit vinaigrette, by the way.

Believe it or not, I had to edit this list so I donโ€™t go on and on. Thank you, Chachic, for giving me the space on your blog! Better At Weddings Than You comes out April 15 and its Amazon link is here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XKS8Y1T

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Book Description:
Daphne Cardenas is the best wedding planner around, and everyone knows it. That’s why her friend Greg hired her as an emergency replacement one month before his weddingโ€”because he fears his fiancรฉe Helen is falling for the guy they first hired for the job.

Aaron Trinidad is new to the wedding industry but years of conference planning and loads of charm make him good at it. Really good at it. Planning the wedding of his friend Helen should be easy, and it is. To be unceremoniously fired isn’t good for his new career, but the chance to learn from the best might be the silver lining.

Aaron and Daphne have chemistry, but thereโ€™s history with Helen that at least one other person considers a threat. Who’s the planner who can fix this impending disaster?

(Part of the Chic Manila series, but can be read as a standalone.)

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National Book Store’s #ReadOutLoudChallenge

National Book Store, the most popular bookstore in the Philippines, is hosting a #ReadOutLoudChallenge. They are inviting every reader to post a video on Facebook or Instagram, reading a few lines from their favorite books, using the mentioned hashtag. For every 75 videos posted, they will help build one public school library. The goal is to reach 75,000 videos. This is a pretty big deal since I’ve talked about how public libraries aren’t very common (nor are they well-supplied) so anything that would help promote reading in the country is a good thing. Anyone can join! Just make sure your post is visible to the public. If you do decide to join, please feel free to send me a link. ๐Ÿ™‚

National Book Store ReadOutLoudChallenge

My entry is posted on Instagram and linked below. For those of you who are wondering how my name is pronounced or what my voice sounds like, you can check out my video. Good thing I have a friend who knows her way around shooting and editing videos because I wouldn’t have been able to do come up with something this professional looking otherwise. We did it in one take though, so it’s not super polished. It’s probably obvious that I’m sitting in my desk at work, with my mini lomo wall as the background. As always, it feels a little weird seeing myself on video. ๐Ÿ˜›

@nbsalert's #ReadOutLoudChallenge accepted! I was challenge by @fantaghiro23 to participate - for every 75 videos posted, National Bookstore will help set up a library in a public school, and the goal is to reach 7,500 videos!๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ“– I've mentioned more than once that the Philippines doesn't have good public libraries, so any initiative that helps give children access to books is awesome. I read from one of my favorite @minavesguerra books, Learning to Fall, which has a book blogger heroine.๐Ÿ’– I challenge everyone to do this because more videos means more libraries! But I specifically challenge @dementedchris @alexalovesbooks @bookthingo. . . Special thanks to multimedia expert @karen_mrsg for shooting this video! ๐Ÿ™Œ . . . #NationalBookstore #readoutloud #reading #bookblogger #booknerd #bibliophile #IGbooks #bookstagram #bookworm #instabooks #romance #romanceclass #LearningtoFall #MinaVEsguerra

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I know I keep apologizing for not being more active on WordPress lately, but there’s just so much going on in real life that I can’t keep up! Happy to report that I’m still plugged into the book blogosphere through Twitter, Litsy (username: Chachic), and Instagram because I have all of those on my smartphone. Click here, here, here, here, and here, to see some samples of my posts on Litsy, where you’ll be able to see that I’ve learned to utilize scrapbook embellishments in my books pics. So even if I’m not on WordPress a lot, I hope I still get to see all of you in all those other channels. ๐Ÿ™‚

Favorite Literary Couples VII

I’m aliiiiiive! Some of you might be wondering why I haven’t been posting lately but real life has been taking up most of my time, and honestly whenever I have some free time, all I want to do is read (or take a nap). I have been on Litsy A LOT (username: Chachic) because that’s easier to update on my phone than WordPress. But I wouldn’t want to miss this yearly post! I’m here to present a list that has become one of my blog traditions. Every year on Valentineโ€™s Day, I post a list of fictional couples Iโ€™ve loved from books that Iโ€™ve read in the previous year. You can check out posts from years past through these links: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016. Whoa, how awesome is it that this is the eighth edition of this post? I’m so glad I’ve been able to keep it up.

I will be inserting some of my bookstagrams below, and the captions are automatically displayed… some of them aren’t applicable anymore (e.g. I posted a pic before I read the book) so please feel free to ignore them.

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Lily and Luc from Pretty Face by Lucy Parker – I’m cheating a bit with this one because it hasn’t been released yet but I’m grateful I was approved for an early copy. Lucy Parker was in my list last year so I knew I would enjoy her latest romance, and I wasn’t disappointed. I loved how she was able to portray such a strong connection between Lily and Luc in spite of their age gap and the obstacles in their way. They just understood each other, they have the kind of relationship that you’d want for yourself. It was just so much fun reading about them. The West End setting was another aspect that I enjoyed, and of course I loved that Lily is a reader as shown by this passage:

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Malorie and Tristan from A Crown of Bitter Orange by Laura Florand – All of the books in Laura’s La vie en Roses have been a delight to read and A Crown of Bitter Orange is no exception. Aside from the strong sense of place, Laura just makes scents and textures leap off the page. Malorie and Tristan were both secretly infatuated with each other while growing up and it was funny that they both had no idea. I liked the contrast between their personalities, their work/passion and the way they think… and also how well they knew each other even though they’re so different. They admired each other not because they don’t recognize the other person’s flaws, but because they could see past those to what makes them the person they are. I’m not sure I’m making any sense here but they really just saw each other clearly. As always, I enjoyed the Rosier family dynamics and absolutely can’t wait for the next installment in this series.

A new Laura Florand is always something to be happy about. She's one of my favorite romance authors. I've loved all of the other titles in her La vie en Roses series set in Grasse, France, featuring a family in the perfume business. I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy this one too. I couldn't resist taking a pic of A Crown of Bitter Orange with this bottle of orange blossom EDT (I bought the cologne version). Maybe I should have done this for Once Upon a Rose and A Wish Upon Jasmine too? ๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŒน FYI, Once Upon a Rose is on sale for just 0.99usd now. Such a good bargain! . . . #LauraFlorand #ACrownofBitterOrange #LavieenRoses #romance #bookblogger #reviewcopy #bookstagram #instabooks #bibliophile #IGreads #IGbooks #booksPH #Litsy #ChristineLhuillierParfumerie #fragrance #perfume

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Iris and Gio from Iris After the Incident by Mina V. Esguerra – Filipino romance (#romanceclass) at its finest! I have been reading and actively promoting Mina’s books ever since I discovered her writing way back in 2010. I think it’s amazing how she’s been exploring and growing in her writing. I think this one has such a unique and intriguing premise, with a plot that I thought was a brave choice for a Philippine setting. Iris and Gio both have painful experiences that have shaped and scarred them, and I felt that their romance and their issues were handled thoughtfully. I’m purposefully being vague because I don’t want to share any spoilers!

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Lila and Kell from A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab – These books are awesome and the romance(s) are not the central part of the story but of course, I enjoyed reading about them! I loved Lila and Kell’s interactions right from start, from trying to one-up each other to slowly realizing that maybeee what they feel for the other person goes beyond friendship (or unwilling partnership?). Some of the best scenes in the books were the ones where they were together (even better when Rhy and Alucard were also there). I’m so glad the third book will be out soon because I need to know what happens next! These two seriously deserve all the happiness they can get so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for them.

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Jess and Mitch from Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar – I’m basically just going to quote my own review: “I seriously could not get enough of Jess and Mitch! I loved all of their interactions, and I kept waiting for scenes that had the two of them together. Iโ€™m normally not a fan of drama in a romance but everything that Jess and Mitch went through felt necessary. They needed to experience all of it to grow and develop both individually and as a couple. I wouldnโ€™t call their romance slow burn because sparks fly the moment they meet and they do act on it, but the depth in their relationship is earned the hard way. Also, I thought it was really cute that their family and friends were invested in their relationship.”

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Runners-up for the past year are:
Jess and Blake from Good Boy by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Daniel and Rex from In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish
Cat and Griffin from A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Martise and Silhara from Master of Crows by Grace Draven
Catherine and Andrew from Ruined by Sarah Vaughn and Sarah Searle in the Fresh Romance graphic novel anthology (is there any news about the next volume??)

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I feel like I read a lot of romance and even the fantasy novels I’m usually into have some sort of love story in them, but when the time comes for me to round up my list like this, I keep thinking I WANT MORE. ๐Ÿ˜€ What about you, who are your favorite fictional couples from books that youโ€™ve read within the previous year? Are you planning to do anything special for Valentine’s Day? It’s going to be a regular work day for me but I’m hoping I’ll have time to read a good romance after work. ๐Ÿ™‚ Also hoping I won’t be too sleepy in the office because I stayed up late to work on this post. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! โค

Holiday Book Haul

I think I may be allergic to the office. I went back to work on Tuesday and then I got a fever and a sore throat that evening. I kept going to the office and just slept as early as I can at night but I lost my voice yesterday evening so today, I gave in and went to the doctor to get a medical certificate so I could take the rest of the day off to rest.

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While I was able to take a nap this afternoon, I wasn’t able to get any reading done. In fact, I should be getting ready for bed now but I wanted to squeeze in a quick post about my book haul during the holiday season. The order is kind of a mess but these were the books I acquired:

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Last Friday's brunch meet up with Filipino readers and authors: Celina, Chris, Mina, Honey and Kim

Brunch meet up with Filipino readers and authors: Celina, Chris, Mina, Honey and Kim

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Some other books I bought/downloaded for free, but were only posted on Litsy and not Instagram so I can’t embed them here:
Dark Horse by Michelle Diener
The Future Chosen by Mina V. Esguerra
Big Rock by Lauren Blakely
The Art of Deception by Stephanie Burgis
Alex + Ada Volume 3 by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn

I was also very excited to receive these review copies of my anticipated books:

Not my usual bookstagram, I initially posted this on Litsy then Ilona Andrews herself shared retweeted my tweet about this so I thought might as well share it here: I'm a small time blogger so I rarely get approved for review copies. It was such a surprise when I got approved for an advanced copy of White Hot! It was like receiving a Christmas present. Devoured it, loved it, got a book hangover. I didn't want to leave the world so I went back and reread Burn for Me (again). One of my favorite reads in 2017, full review closer to the release date.๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ“– . . . #WhiteHot #IlonaAndrews #HiddenLegacy #BurnForMe #AvonBooks #romance #urbanfantasy #bookhangover #bookblogger #reviewcopy #bookstagram #instabooks #bibliophile #IGreads #IGbooks #Litsy

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A new Laura Florand is always something to be happy about. She's one of my favorite romance authors. I've loved all of the other titles in her La vie en Roses series set in Grasse, France, featuring a family in the perfume business. I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy this one too. I couldn't resist taking a pic of A Crown of Bitter Orange with this bottle of orange blossom EDT (I bought the cologne version). Maybe I should have done this for Once Upon a Rose and A Wish Upon Jasmine too? ๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŒน FYI, Once Upon a Rose is on sale for just 0.99usd now. Such a good bargain! . . . #LauraFlorand #ACrownofBitterOrange #LavieenRoses #romance #bookblogger #reviewcopy #bookstagram #instabooks #bibliophile #IGreads #IGbooks #booksPH #Litsy #ChristineLhuillierParfumerie #fragrance #perfume

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When I woke up this morning, I saw the notification that @berkleyromance approved my NetGalley request for Julie James' latest novel. Thank you!!๐Ÿ“–๐ŸŽ‰ One of my most anticipated titles in 2017 because she writes the best romantic banter.๐Ÿ’– I'm always surprised (in a good way) whenever I'm approved for a review copy because as an international reader/blogger, my default expectation is to be rejected.๐Ÿ˜‚ @fantaghiro23, we were just talking about this book yesterday! . . . #JulieJames #TheThingAboutLove #BerkleyRomance #romance #bookblogger #reviewcopy #bookstagram #instabooks #bibliophile #IGreads #IGbooks #booksPH #Litsy #NetGalley #Kindle #bookandlunch #CafeBreton #cafehopping #foodstagram #Manilafoodie #foodieManila

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I feel like this moment of my book blogging experience should be highlighted because I have review copies by my favorite authors: Ilona Andrews, Andrea K. Host, Julie James, Laura Florand and Lucy Parker! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve already read White Hot and In Arcadia (short review on Litsy) but I’m having a difficult time choosing which one to prioritize among the remaining three. Now I just need Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner and The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein and I’ll be all set. ๐Ÿ˜€

I was also able to pass on some of the physical books that I have in my Manila bookshelf to friends when we had a get together. I really feel bad that my books have just been sitting neglected on my shelf and they’re aging fast because of heat and humidity. I feel better that they’re now with people who would potentially enjoy reading them. I think I’ve culled like half of my bookshelf back home, I’ve mostly kept signed books and the ones that I plan to reread.

I hope this post wasn’t too confusing with its mix of Instagram and Litsy links. As you can see, I’ve tried to be active on other social media sites but I know it’s also a good idea to consolidate all of those posts here on WordPress. I’m off to rest! What about you, have you received or bought any books recently? ๐Ÿ™‚

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, Irisโ€™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, heโ€™s hot, and he doesnโ€™t look at her that way. He doesnโ€™t know what happened. But he also wonโ€™t give her his name, not right awayโ€”which has to mean heโ€™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

#romanceclass Meet Up at Books and Borders

According to the group’s website, #romanceclass are Filipinos who read and write romance and publish them independently. I know a few of the members through my blog and I’ve been jealous of all the meet-ups and activities that they’ve been having on a regular basis. Which was why I was thrilled to find out that there was going to be a meet up during the time I’m on vacation in Manila. We met last May 21 at the Books and Borders branch in Tomas Morato. A book cafe is the perfect location for a meet up with romance readers and authors. Here’s a picture of the cafe from my previous visit:

Book and Borders - tables

Book and Borders - couch

We talked about books, of course. From romance to everything else that we’ve read or we’re planning to read. We talked about the type of romances and type of heroes we like. And we also talked about the most random things, just anything that we could think of. We also passed around books and swag that we wanted to pass on to fellow readers. Being based in Singapore, I don’t get to attend bookish meet ups like this as often as I would want to, so I was somewhat starved for that kind of conversation. I think it goes without saying that I had a great time! Here’s a group picture from Kat of Book Thingo:

romanceclass meet up - May 2016

From left to right: Agay, Chris, Kim, Anna, Kat, Mina, Jothee, Tina, Ron and me. We all look like we’re having fun, right? My haul included signed books, a magazine, bookmarks, postcards, shortbread and Philippine MANGOES! Thank you for the goodies, friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

#romanceclass - May 2016 haul

I also just wanted to share the awesomeness that is the back cover of Choco Chip Hips by Agay Llanera, which includes a quote from my review of the book:

Choco Chip Hips - back copy

Too bad it’s a limited indie edition and there probably wouldn’t be more copies of it. I bought three to give to my friends! ๐Ÿ˜€