Looking for Urban Fantasy Recommendations

Ilona and Gordon shirt and Wildfire on Kindle

I’m a huge Ilona Andrews fangirl. I even have the shirt to prove it.😂 I’m looking for urban fantasy recommendations similar to their writing. I’ve already tried Patricia Briggs, Seanan McGuire, Nalini Singh, Eileen Wilks, Stacia Kane, Thea Harrison. But haven’t found any other series that I loved as much as the Hidden Legacy and Kate Daniels series, and the rest of Ilona and Gordon’s books.

I’ve already made this request on Twitter (see tweet below) and Litsy, and of course I had to ask for recs here on the blog too. Plus I can update this post with a list of the recs I receive so it would be easier to keep track of them.

Recommendations from Twitter:
Jenn Bennet’s Arcadia Bell
Lauren Dane’s Goddess with a Blade
Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld (tried her first Darkest Powers book but wasn’t a fan)

Recommendations from Litsy:
Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia (not urban fantasy but similar slow burn romance… tried the first two books and enjoyed them but didn’t feel compelled to continue)
Karen Marie Moning’s Fever
Grave Witch by Kalayna Price
The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams
Blade Song by J.C. Daniels
Written in Red by Anne Bishop

I’ve already sent some samples on my Kindle, but I haven’t started reading any of the titles mentioned yet. Please feel free to suggest titles that you think I’d enjoy! 😀

Ten Books I Think Should Be Required Reading for YA Fantasy Fans

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week is a back to school freebie and I choose Required Reading for YA Fantasy Fans as my topic. Now I’m not claiming to be an expert on YA fantasy, it’s just that I’m a huge fan of the genre and these are the titles that I think can be used to introduce new readers to it. In no particular order, my picks are:

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Howl's Moving Castle Ella Enchanted QueenOfAttolia

Crown Duel2 The Blue Sword Goose Girl_Alison Jay The Golden Compass Fire

What about you, what book would you include if you had to come up with a required reading list for YA fantasy? Do we share some titles?

2015 Christmas Reads

Laduree Christmas tree

A macaron Christmas tree care of Laduree Singapore

December is here! That means it’s time to think about Christmas reads again (previous posts here and here). I love this time of the year and I think part of the fun of the holiday season is reading Christmas reads.

Here are the Christmas-themed books I’m planning to reread:
At First Sight by Elizabeth Chandler
A Rose in Winter by Laura Florand
My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins
At First Sight No Place Like Home My True Love Gave to Me

I didn’t read all of the stories in the My True Love Gave to Me, just the ones written by authors I like. So maybe I can go back and reread those or read the ones that I didn’t finish last year.

And these are the new-to-me Christmas reads that I have on my TBR pile:
A Midnight Clear by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner
Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas
MidnightClear Top Ten Clues You're Clueless

Both of which were recommended by my friend Brandy. What about you, what are the Christmas titles that you’re planning to read this month? What are the holiday reads that you’ve loved over the years? I would be delighted to get some new recommendations. 🙂

Also, because there’s less than a month left in 2015, feel free to let me know what are the best books that you’ve read this year. I might be tempted to read them before the year ends. I keep track of mine via a Goodreads shelf, and I will post my best of 2015 list on January 1 (yearly habit).

Chocolate Book Meme

I love love LOVE chocolate. I’ve always been a fan of it. So I thought it was fun when Camille of Girl Meets Books tagged me for the chocolate meme. This meme mixes two of my favorite things: chocolate and books.

Aix-en-Provence - real chocolate

Slabs of chocolate in Real Chocolate, Aix-en-Provence

Dark Chocolate — A book that covers a dark topic (abuse, domestic violence, rape, loneliness, bullying, death, etc):
So many good ones to choose from! For contemporary, I’d go with Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, which is not an easy read because there’s so much pain and suffering for two generations of characters but it’s totally worth reading. For fantasy, I’d go with Daughter of the Forest and Son of the Shadows, both difficult reads but oh so rewarding.

White Chocolate — Your favorite light-hearted/humorous read:
Julie James’ novels are always light and fun reads. I feel like they’re the book version of chick flicks so I always enjoy reading them. My favorite is still Something About You.

Milk Chocolate — A book that has a lot of hype that you’re dying to read:
I’ve seen several bloggers raving about I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson so I’m really curious about it. I’m looking forward to its release day since I remember enjoying her debut novel. It doesn’t hurt that I think the book has a pretty cover.

Chocolate with a caramel center — Name a book that made you feel all gooey in the middle while you were reading it:
Books that make me feel all gooey are usually romances. I think Laura Florand’s books are a perfect choice for this category, especially since her Amour et Chocolat series focuses on chocolatiers and pastry chefs. Although I think I would have to change this category to premium chocolate ganache or truffle to satisfy her MCs (who tend to look down on mass-produced chocolate).

Wafer-free Kit-Kat — Name a book that surprised you lately:
I feel like I keep talking about them lately but I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I loved Andrea K. Host’s Touchstone trilogy and Medair duology. I knew I was going to enjoy them but I didn’t expect to get a book hangover after reading them.

Snickers — A book that you are going nuts about:
I think the last book that I loved was Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews, which is a fitting choice for this category since I’m crazy about the Kate Daniels series. It’s my favorite urban fantasy series.

Hot Chocolate with cream and marshmallows — What book would you turn to for a comfort read?
I consider most of the books in my list of favorites as comfort reads. I reread them based on how I’m feeling. Most recently, I’ve reread Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore (for book club discussions) and Silent Blade and Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews.

Box of chocolates — What series have you read that you feel has a wide variety and a little something for everyone
The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner! It has action, adventure, clever writing, wonderful characters and a complex, slow burn romance.

Swiss and Russian chocolates

Swiss and Russian chocolates from co-workers

I’m not going to tag anyone for this meme but share a link of your post if you’re doing this. 🙂

Top Ten Underrated Authors in Epic Fantasy

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. I think epic fantasy is becoming more of a trend lately because I have seen other bloggers raving about recently published novels that they’ve loved. I’ve tried some of them but unfortunately, I didn’t think they were as strong as some of my favorite epic fantasy books. So for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, I wanted to focus on one of the genres that I love. Some of the epic fantasy authors I think more readers should check out:

Megan Whalen Turner – I think I’ve made it pretty clear how much I love MWT’s books. I know it’s gotten a bit more attention from authors and bloggers in the past few years but I still don’t think it’s enough!

Robin McKinley – I love Robin McKinley’s lyrical writing style and how her books have a fairy tale feel to them (of course, some of them are fairy tale retellings). My favorites are The Blue Sword, Beauty and Pegasus.

Diana Wynne Jones – I haven’t read all of DWJ’s books but I’ve really enjoyed the ones that I have. I wish I discovered her novels much sooner. I loved Howl’s Moving Castle and also enjoyed the Hayao Miyazaki film adaptation of it.

Sherwood Smith – I think Sherwood Smith writes fun adventure stories and I also love the slow burn romances in her books. I need to catch up on her books because I haven’t read her more recent releases. My favorites of hers are Crown Duel and the Sasharia en Garde duology.

Kristin Cashore – I recently reread Graceling and Fire for a book club discussion and I was reminded of how beautiful Kristin Cashore’s writing is. Strong female protagonists, wonderful worldbuilding and love stories I could root for.

Meg BurdenNorthlander and The King Commands are seriously underrated novels that they’re now out of print. I really enjoyed reading them and I wish they would get more attention. Also hoping that Meg Burden will publish more books.

Andrea K. Host – AKHost is a fairly recent discovery for me, I read and loved her Touchstone trilogy (YA sci fi) and Medair duology (epic fantasy) earlier this year and I’ve been itching to reread them. I’ve been recommending her books to anyone who will listen.

Rachel Neumeier – I thought House of Shadows was a really good read and I’ve been meaning to read The Floating Islands for a while now! I like that Rachel’s books are standalones, which is rare for the genre.

Frances Hardinge – I thought both A Face Like Glass and The Lost Conspiracy were amazing and I feel like Frances Hardinge is a reliable author when it comes to epic fantasy. These two books are also standalones so you can start with either of them.

Juliet Marillier – Another author I need to catch up on since she has several books that I still haven’t read. I highly recommend her Sevenwaters series, Daughter of the Forest and Son of the Shadows are brilliant works of fiction.

Have you read any of these authors? Would you have recommendations for me that would have similar writing to these authors?

Authors I Should Read

Authors to read

I wanted to participate in last Tuesday’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Brooke and the Bookish) with the topic of “Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling Me That I MUST Read” but unfortunately, I missed it. I fell asleep earlier than usual that night instead of working on a blog post. But I really like the topic so I wanted to do a spin off. Instead of books, I wanted to talk about authors that have been broadly and specifically recommended for me.

Mary Renault – This particular author was brought to my attention when Elizabeth Wein recommended it for Megan Whalen Turner (MWT) fans in her guest post for Queen’s Thief Week. I have copies of both The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea in my TBR pile.

Dorothy Sayers – Here’s another author who has been recommended several times for MWT fans, especially the books about Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. I’ve read Strong Poison but it didn’t have that much of an impact with him. I do have copies of Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night and Busman’s Honeymoon and I just need to find time to read them.

Connie Willis – I can’t even remember how many people have recommended this author’s time travel books. I’ve had a copy of To Say Nothing of the Dog for a while not but I heard that it would be better to start with the duology Blackout and All Clear.

Simmone Howell – I haven’t read any of this author’s books but I’ve heard that Girl Defective is an amazing Aussie YA novel so I got a copy of it late last year when a friend passed by Singapore from Australia.

Guy Gavriel Kay – So many fantasy fans have recommended this author’s work and I still haven’t read any of his books. I have copies of Tigana and the first two Fionavar books but just haven’t been in the mood for them. Especially Tigana, which is such a doorstopper.

Susanna Kearsley – I’ve seen other bloggers give positive reviews for this author’s books and that has made me curious. My friedn Heidi of Bunbury in the Stacks very kindly sent me a signed copy of The Winter Sea so I can start with that.

Genevieve Valentine – I’ve seen several bloggers (such as Ana of The Book Smugglers and Maureen of By Singing Light) rave about The Girls at the Kingfisher Club on Twitter so I’m very curious about it.

Virginia Kantra – I know my good friend Brandy of Random Musings of a Bibliophile loves Virginia Kantra’s books (which has been recommended by our favorite author Laura Florand). I grabbed a copy of Carolina Man back when it was on sale and it’s just waiting in my Kindle.

Kelly Hunter – Another Laura Florand recommendation! She mentioned that Kelly Hunter is a romance author who has written books with great dialogue, set in Singapore and Hong Kong. She recommended that I start with Wife for a Week, which is the first in a series about the Bennett family. Li of Me and My Books seconded the recommendation when I mentioned it on Twitter.

Joann Sfar – This is actually a bit funny since I found out about this graphic novel author through Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (which I still need to review). The two MCs are fans of his work and that made me curious. I’ve checked in a bookstore here and his books aren’t available in Singapore.

I hope I’ll be able to put a dent on this list before the year ends. I’ll keep the rest of you posted. Care to share authors who would be included in your must read/highly recommended list?

#ArmchairBEA 2014: Young Adult

Our final genre of discussion is one that we know is a popular one these days: books for the younger crowd, from middle grade to young adult. If you do not normally talk about this genre on your site, maybe you want to feature books that you remember impacting you during this stage in your life. If this is where you tend to gravitate, maybe you want to list your favorites, make recommendations based on genres, or feature some titles that you are excited to read coming later this year.

I read a lot of YA books so I’m half-tempted to just write “too many too mention” for this ArmchairBEA topic. But then where’s the fun in that? That wouldn’t enable me to share some of my favorite titles and discuss them with other bloggers. So I’ve put together lists divided by category/genres of YA novels that I’ve truly enjoyed reading:

Epic Fantasy
Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
Pegasus by Robin McKinley
Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Sabriel by Garth Nix
A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge
Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow
Northlander by Meg Burden
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Alternate History/Historical Fiction
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The Lion Hunters series by Elizabeth Wein
A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson
The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Urban Fantasy
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier

Fairy Tale Retelling
Beauty by Robin McKinley
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Contemporary
I Do by Elizabeth Chandler
Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols
Easy by Tammara Webber
My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Aussie YA
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
All I Ever Wanted by Vikki Wakefield
Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Host

WeLoveYA

I probably forgot some titles while putting this together, maybe I’ll edit the post when I remember anything else. Do you have any recommendations for me based on the books I listed here? What about the rest of you, what are some of the MG or YA titles that you’ve enjoyed reading?

#ArmchairBEA 2014: Beyond the Borders / Recommending Filipino Fiction

ArmchairBEA 2014

It’s time to step outside your comfort zone, outside your borders, or outside of your own country or culture. Tell us about the books that transported you to a different world, taught you about a different culture, and/or helped you step into the shoes of someone different from you. What impacted you the most about this book? What books would you recommend to others who are ready or not ready to step over the line? In essence, let’s start the conversation about diversity and keep it going!

I’m a Filipino currently living and working in Singapore. So basically, most of the books that I read are outside my own culture because a lot of them are either set in a fantasy world or in the US, UK, Europe or Australia. I do think it’s great that there’s more of a push for readers to pay more attention to diversity in books. Reading is like a form of traveling in the sense that it opens your mind to what is outside your comfort zone and how things are different compared to the things that you’re used to. And at the same time, it also makes you realize how some things are the same wherever you are in the world (or even if you’re in a different world). I wouldn’t be reading the books that I read if I couldn’t relate to them. I can relate to the characters, their feelings and their reactions to the situations they find themselves in, even if we have different cultural backgrounds and we live in different places. I’ve also traveled outside of Asia so that gives me the small advantage of being able to relate to books set in some of the other cities/countries I’ve visited.

In the spirit of encouraging readers to pick up diverse books, here are that I would recommend that are either set in the Philippines or have Filipino characters:

Any of Mina V. Esguerra’s books – Mina writes contemporary romance or chick lit set in the Philippines with Filipino characters. I recommend her books because they give readers a good picture of what life is like for a young woman in her twenties back home.

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay – Candy is also a Filipino author and her middle grade contemporary novel about two siblings is partially set in the Philippines.

Trese graphic novel series by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldissimo – I can now happily recommend this urban fantasy/horror graphic novel series because it’s available on Amazon! Written and illustrated by Filipinos, I love how this series has supernatural creatures based on Filipino myths and folklore.

Cover (Story) Girl by Chris Mariano – This is such a perfect summer read because it’s set in Boracay, one of the most well-known beaches in the Philippines. It’s a sweet romantic novella with a Filipino guy and Korean girl as MCs.

All’s Fair in Blog and War by Chrissie Peria – Another Filipino romance, this one is between two travel bloggers who win a free trip to Macau in exchange for featuring the country in their blogs.

Interim Goddess of Love_digital coverTall Story UKTrese Mass MurdersCover Story GirlAll's Fair in Blog and War

How about you, care to recommend some diverse books?

Foodie Reads

Soup and salad from Poulet

If you browse through my Instagram stream, my photos mostly involve books, food and postcards. I think that’s proof enough that I enjoy eating good food just as much as I enjoy reading a good book. So I’m delighted whenever I come across novels that focus on food, whether the characters are chefs or foodies just like me. I love reading books that make me hungry or crave for a certain dish or pastry while I’m reading – which is not always a good thing because there are times when I don’t have access to the type of food described in the book. Nevertheless, I still enjoy reading mouthwatering descriptions to the point where as a reader, you almost feel like you can taste what the author has imagined.

Here are some of my favorite foodie reads:

The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand and the rest of the Amour et Chocolat books – Chocolate and Paris are the main ingredients for Laura Florand’s delicious romances, I can’t get enough of her books.

Truly by Ruthie Knox – Loved how honey was described in this one and it was also great how the characters went on a food trip around New York. I never knew taco could be sexy until I read this!

Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer – It was lovely how Liza Palmer highlighted the warmth and comfort that a well-cooked, favorite meal brings to any person.

Seeing Me Naked by Liza Palmer – Seeing Me Naked wasn’t as focused on food as Nowhere But Home was but I thought it was great that the main character is a pastry chef.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen – I loved how food and cooking was combined with magic in this book.

Dessert and coffee from Tiong Bahru Bakery

What about you, what are your favorite reads that have food as one of the main aspects of the story? I would love to get some good recommendations! I’ve made myself hungry while writing this post but since it’s almost midnight, I should go to bed instead.

New Adult Guest Post Over at Tapestry of Words

Have you heard the term New Adult? It’s a category for books that focus on young people (older than YA), college age, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the adult world. I love reading New Adult novels and I feel like we don’t have enough of them out there. I’ve been invited by Danya to do a guest post about New Adult literature over at her lovely blog, A Tapestry of Words. Drop by to check out my New Adult recommendations and feel free to offer suggestions if you have anything in mind. There’s also a list in Goodreads that you can add titles to.