Chachic's Book Nook


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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


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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! 🙂

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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 I’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 “menu” for this book. Here’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 you’re familiar with the area it’s an easy guess that it might actually be Spiral Restaurant at the Sofitel. If you know me at all, then you’d be sure — 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 doesn’t actually exist (that I know of) but it’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 Singapore’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 you’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 Tee’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 – of eating my friend Sharwin’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 don’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 wedding—because he fears his fiancée 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 there’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. 🙂

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. 😛

@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!📚📖 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.💖 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! 🙌 . . . #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. 🙂


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2017 International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day! 🙂 On this day last year, I did a post about books that I liked or loved that feature awesome females in fiction. I’m hoping to make it yearly thing. I’m choosing to highlight books written by female authors, that I enjoyed reading within the past year, and have ladies who have shown strength in various ways. One of the reasons why I liked these books is because the female main characters have demonstrated physical, emotional, or mental strength. They fought, they endured, they persisted. And that’s always something that I would admire.

Same as last year, I’m going by genre:

Speculative fiction:
White Hot magic-binds The Mountain of Kept Memory fresh-romance Monstress
master-of-crows Warprize a-promise-of-fire a-darker-shade-of-magic
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms the-broken-kingdoms

Contemporary:
Summer Skin Iris After the Incident A Crown of Bitter Orange Pairing Off

What about you, who are some of the fictional female characters you enjoyed reading about? 🙂 As always, if you have recommendations for me based on the titles I featured here, please feel free to share them!


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Why The Edwardian Philippines: Guest Post by Author Jennifer Hallock

I’ve been hearing about author Jennifer Hallock for a while now, mostly from fellow Filipino romance readers. I was intrigued from the first time I found out that she writes historical romance set in the Philippines. I’ve been meaning to read her books for the longest time and finally found time to start Under the Sugar Sun, which is still my current read. I find the Philippine setting so refreshing compared to other historical romance reads! I asked Jennifer why she chose to write about this setting, and she was generous enough to write a guest post about it. Please give Jennifer a warm welcome and find out why her historical romances are set in my home country! As always, I hope this guest post will also encourage more readers to pick up her books. 🙂

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Why The Edwardian Philippines
by Jennifer Hallock

I am often asked why I set my romance novels in the middle of the Philippine-American War. Why not Regencies, which are far more marketable? I do love my dukes—I do. But, as you will see, I’m just too much of a history geek to pass up the complex, conflicting legacy of the Americans in the Philippines.

What’s wrong with Regency? Well, nothing. But do you ever wonder the odds of throwing a rock in a Regency romance and hitting a duke? Just exactly how many dukes were there in 1814? Only 25, actually—and only 576 peers above the degree of baronet. This means that out of a British population of almost 19 million, there was one duke for every 756,000 Brits, and one peer for every 33,000. That’s not many—but that’s their appeal, I suppose. Dukes are the billionaire trope of historical romance: desirable, virile, chiseled, strong, and dominant. But were they these things? Let’s start with: were they even young? Dukes in 1814 averaged over 50 years old—my hasty calculation based on Wikipedia peerage lists. And given the average Regency diet and sedentary lifestyle, the rest of the conceit might not hold up, either. But nevermind, because Regency romance has become a world unto itself—a fantasy of masked balls, flavored ices, and daring carriage races through the park. As escapism, these books have huge appeal.

For those of us who like a little more authenticity, historical romances set in Europe and the United States are growing more diverse. Authors like Beverly Jenkins, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole, KJ Charles, Rose Lerner, andAmara Royce, to name just a few, are more inclusive as regards to race, class, sexuality, and nationality. They bring a more representative picture to the romance reader.

English-language books with geographic diversity—set outside North America—are harder to find, though not impossible. Take Laura Kinsale’s sweeping love story, Dream Hunter, set in the Syrian desert — with nary a sheikh trope in sight! Or consider Jeannie Lin, who writes Tang dynasty historicals that make the China of a thousand years ago feel both fresh and familiar at the same time.

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It’s fabulous stuff. You get to travel in your head for (nearly) free! So, of all the places you could travel, why choose the Philippine-American War? How about because it is the most important war that America forgot? It’s barely studied in US high schools today, but that’s a mistake. It was a watershed moment that launched the American Century. Before the Philippines, the US swore off overseas possessions and entanglements. Not interested. But when America seized the Philippines in the Spanish-American War (1898), everything changed. The US began to talk about a special mission to shape the world in its own image—but not before engaging in vigorous internal debates over national debt, trade agreements, nation-building, immigration, and the use of military force. Do these issues sound familiar? They should. The America of today was defined by what happened in the Philippines. George Santayana said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” But it is not good enough to just remember the past. You should experience it yourself. That’s the garden where empathy grows. That’s where you get all the feels.

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And you need the feels. Writing happily-ever-afters is a needed tonic to digest all this history. As author Alisha Rai tweeted, “our basic genre requirement…[is] that there’s no black moment that love cannot overcome.” Thus, I wrote a story about an American schoolteacher, one of a thousand sent to the Philippines to establish the first co-educational, secular public school system in Asia. (When I began Under the Sugar Sun, I was also an American schoolteacher in the Philippines. “Write what you know,” as they say.) My heroine, Georgina Potter, represents the best of what America has to offer, but it may not be good enough for Filipino nationalist Javier Altarejos—a sugar baron who is better educated, better traveled, and a better linguist than the Yankee colonial officials sent to “civilize” him. (Their word, not mine.) As Georgina questions her country’s agenda, so does the reader. And, of course, love conquers all because—hello!—romance!

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With the exception of the prequel novella, Hotel Oriente, all my books are interracial romances. These couples forge a path that is not easy, but totally worth it. This moral of multiculturalism is a little advanced for the time period—a deliberate anachronism—but no more so than any of the little lies in Regency romance. My latest novella, Tempting Hymn, is about finding love in the time of cholera*, colonial inequities, and church politics. It is a story of second chances, redemption, and compassion. Because today, in a world of fake news and a remorseless internet, we need empathy more than ever. And love. We need lots and lots of love.

*With my apologies to Gabriel García Márquez.

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Jennifer Hallock is author of the Sugar Sun historical romance series, set in the American colonial Philippines. At her day job, she teaches a trimester course to high school seniors called America in the Philippines, a part of a larger sequence on the history of American imperialism. She studied Southeast Asian history at university and grad school, and then lived and worked in Manila for four years.

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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 Valentine’s Day, I post a list of fictional couples I’ve loved from books that I’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? 📖🌹 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. I’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 wouldn’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. 😀 What about you, who are your favorite fictional couples from books that you’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. 🙂 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! ❤


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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.💖📖 . . . #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? 📖🌹 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!!📖🎉 One of my most anticipated titles in 2017 because she writes the best romantic banter.💖 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.😂 @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! 🙂 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. 😀

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? 🙂