Cities Blog Tour: Guest Post by Carla De Guzman

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So today I break my blogging silence in the middle of all the Papal Visit stuff because I Like It Dog-Eared is one of the stops for the Cities Blog Tour!

Today, author Carla De Guzman is over at the blog to talk about her Top 3 Favorite Cities in the World. Handing you over to Carla, now! :)

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Here we go! My 3 favorite cities in the world, listed in no particular order. I’ve included a photo that I took myself that kind of shows what aspect of that city I love the most.

London

London

My first European city ever, and definitely my top one. It’s so vibrant and busy, you can feel its age and history as you walk their streets. I love the architectural details of almost every place, I love the accents. It’s one of those cities that can be overwhelming, but London was warm and welcome, if a bit rainy. :)

Camiguin

camiguin

Can this island be counted as a city? This was one of those trips that I didn’t expect to go on, and yet loved every minute of. It doesn’t get more beautiful than turquoise seas, white beaches, gorgeous waterfalls and delicious Italian food! Who needs cellphone signal in paradise?

San Francisco

palace

We stayed here for a week when I was fourteen, and we were lucky enough to come back last year for a day trip. The whole city has a chill, artsy vibe that I love so much. The weather is always cool, and there’s always something to see. While walking is a bit of a challenge, it’s a beautiful city to visit. Plus there are so many Filipinos around, it feels like home!

* * *

Thanks, Carla! I haven’t been to any of those places, gasp! Perhaps one day soon? :)

I read Cities last year, and I really, really enjoyed it. If you’re just reading it now, it is confusing at first, but I tell you – hold on, and you will get it. :D  If you want to win a copy, join the giveaway below!

Cities.coverCities by Carla De Guzman
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Celia has dreams.

She dreams of going to Seoul for a scholarship she never took, of leaving everything behind and moving to New York.

In all those dreams, she finds herself attached to Benedict, the boy she has always loved, but who doesn’t love her back.

Ben believes in parallel worlds.

Worlds where things you didn’t do come true—worlds in which he goes to London and falls in love with Celia, where he shows up on the day she needs him the most. He believes that dreams are glimpses into that parallel world, and it’s not a coincidence that Celia’s been having them too.

But here, now, they’re in Manila. It’s the day of Ben’s wedding, and a typhoon is raging through the city. How will these dreams and unmade decisions change their lives? Will they bring them closer together or drive them farther apart?

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Champions

championsChampions by Karren Renz Sena
The Lost Chronicles of Eden # 1
Publisher: Shepherd’s Voice Publications
Number of pages: 212
My copy: paperback, bought

IN WAR, HEROES ARE MADE. LEGENDS ARE BORN. CHAMPIONS WILL RISE.

Present day, Cielos, the city closest to heaven. The Sword of Sargatanas has been stolen from the most powerful stronghold in Cielterra. When used at a time when the planets align, the sword has the power to open Gate Pandora and unleash unto the Worlds legions upon legions of monsters and beasts from hell.

Present day, location undisclosed. One clueless Human acquaints himself with the barrel of a gun—belonging to the woman he almost fell in love with, no less—and finds himself kidnapped and whisked to a world standing on the brink of war.

The Worlds—both visible and invisible to us—are in danger. The Towers that guard the Flaming Sword of Eden have chosen the heroes. It just so happened that the heroes aren’t really… hero-material. Not at all.

Seven angry, sarcastic, violent, belligerent, uncaring and uncompassionate young men and women were forced to team up to stop a possible apocalypse from happening. As they journey towards the Far West to retrieve the stolen sword, the seven Champions brave one trial after another (including, but not limited to, falling in love with ill-tempered bullies) and ultimately find out what it means to become a true hero.

* * *

(Well, would you look at that, an actual review from me. At the start of the year. Good job, self!)

I heard of Champions by Karren Renz Sena from a fellow book blogger who was tweeting about the book when she was reading it. I noted it, seeing as it was published by Shepherd’s Voice Publications, a local Catholic publishing house that I used to write for, and it was fiction – something new from them. It took me until after Christmas to get myself a copy, and I decided to read it while I was in the jeepney on the way home, and then I couldn’t stop.

Champions is a story of seven men and women who were put together in a team to help retrieve the Sword of Sargatanas, a powerful weapon that is locked up in Cielterra, the stronghold of Cielos, the city closest to Heaven. This sword, when used on the day that the planets aligned, has the capacity to tear open the boundaries between dimensions, and when used on Gate Pandora, will unleash demons  and monsters from Hell. These seven men and women – called Champions – are the only hope for this to be stopped, and to retrieve the Sword. One of these Champions is a Human called Gabriel, kidnapped from his life in Earth and brought to a battle that he didn’t ask for, but even so, he felt that he somehow belonged. Perhaps this was the link to his past that he has been looking for all along?

Champions was fun. This is your good old fantasy novel with Christian references that is so well-written that I think anyone who just likes fantasy and action will just really sink their teeth into this. Though there were times when it felt like there were too many switches in the POVs as I was placed in the heads of almost all the characters, it was still quite fun, and I think the author did that to lay the foundation for the series. It gave me a bit of insight in every character, but I hope the next books in the series will focus on say, one or two instead of all of them so I’ll be able to understand what makes these characters tick. If I were to pick a favorite, I really like the human Gabriel, followed by Solenn who seemed all fire at first but had a big heart inside of her. I would also love to learn more about Matteo, as I always felt affectionate to any group’s tech guy. Oh, and I loved the judges – Samson, Gideon, and Deborah. Their banter was so fun. :D

As I said, the world building here was good, and I really liked the idea of how Eden was set to be the most protected place, and how Cielos being the city closest to Heaven, is the one in charge of its protection. This book makes the Bible seem more alive, and I love how the names used here were from the Bible – Samson, Gideon, Deborah, Memorare, Ark of the Covenant, Passover, etc etc. The names don’t feel out of place, and even the things that they do – rallying aka worship, prayer and meditation – felt like they just fit right into the story, and not a bit preachy.

I wanted more at the end, especially after the revelations about some characters. I am really glad this is a series, so the next question is: when will the next book be out? Please let it be soon!

Number of dog-eared pages: 5

Favorite dog-eared quotes:

Someday, you kids will realize that heroes  do not need elaborate costumes or superpowers. Sometimes all it takes is a good heart and a strong faith. (p. 38)

“Samson, you are the murderer of my joy,” Gideon said. “I’m severing our friendship as of this moment. May your heart break at the loss of my friendship, and may you live a sad, lonely life for the rest of your days.”

“You have severed it repeatedly over the years,” Samson said. “Forgive me if my heart is used to the loss of your friendship.” (p. 72)

Rating:

Other reviews:
My Book Musings

2014 Book Report

So after the last post, I had some intentions of reviving this blog because I realized that I missed book blogging, somewhat. But of course, intentions are just that, until they are acted upon. Which I wished I did, but of course, as we all know, life happens, and we forget our intentions because life.

I’m actually kind of tired of using that excuse, and I’m sure you are tired of hearing that, too, if you’re still one of the people who read this blog. So I’m sorry, and let me try to make it up to you with this early year-end bookish recap! Yay.

Overall, 2014 was a pretty good reading year because even if I stopped blogging halfway through the year, I still read a lot. I don’t go out without books – Hannah the Kindle is still my best friend – and I still go and buy books every now and then. So I won’t say that 2014 is bad books-wise, just different in a lot of levels.

I’m going to do this the way we do it at work, because it’s easier to do that.

Image from We heart it

Image from We heart it

Highlights:

  • I met my reading goal of 52 books way earlier than expected, because I had some spurts of fast reading sometime when I wasn’t really busy. This is where Hannah the Kindle comes in – I just read faster when I have it, compared to having a book. Perhaps it’s because I carry it everywhere, and it’s even more used than Astrid the Kindle. As of this writing, I have finished 66 books. That’s as many as 2009. :)
  • I read a lot of Filipino authors this year. You know what, next year, I won’t put that in my goals anymore, because now reading local authors is almost like an instinct. I see someone release a new book, I buy it, I read it. I think it also helped that I am also an author now, so buying and reading other people’s works is like giving support for myself, too. :)
  • And I suppose that this is also a highlight, even if this isn’t a really about reading but it IS about books: I finally released my first contemporary romance novella. :D (And it’s free on Smashwords until December 28, use NT22P on checkout :D)
  • We had our first joint book discussion with another big book club in the Philippines, Flips Flipping Pages. We’ve wanted to do this in ages, but it only happened this year, so yay. I hope we have more in the next year? :)

Lowlights:

  • I hardly blogged. In fact, I only had 27 posts this year, and this is my 28th. I was busy, but to be totally honest, I also got tired of it. I do miss writing thoughts on books, and going back to these thoughts whenever someone asks about them…but then it was also quite fun just reading and not thinking of what to write about them. I don’t know if I still want to review, or maybe I just need to find a balance later on. (But I’m not shutting this blog down, because this is what, five years worth of book reviews? That’s so much content.
  • I missed a lot of book club discussions this year, because of some personal circumstances, and work. It was…well, hard, especially since I’ve always been present in the first two years of us doing the discussions. In turn, I also missed out on a lot of fun, and missed out on reading some really good books that they discussed, too.
  • I stopped doing Required Reading because work got in the way, and because it wasn’t really helping me anymore in getting through my TBR. As a highlight, though, not setting a required reading goal for the month allowed me to read whatever I want, and it was liberating.

Stats!

Total books read: 66
Total pages read:
16,254
Total print books: 31
Total ebooks:
35
Total audiobooks: 0
Total rereads: 2

Written by male authors: 16
Written by female authors: 50

Ratings:
5 stars – 10
4 stars – 32
3 stars – 22
2 stars – 3
1 star – 0
Did not Finish – 0*
I didn’t DNF any, but I have several books that I put back on my TBR because they didn’t just captivate me as I expected.

Best Books:

  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  • Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer
  • All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins
  • The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jesse Rothenberg
  • Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
  • The Light of Faith by Pope Francis
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  • The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
  • Letters to a Young Poet by Rainier Maria Rlike
  • The Mythology Class by Arnold Arre
  • Trese 6: High Tide at Midnight by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo
  • Darkness In the World by A.S. Santos

And that’s my 2014 reading year. I have two more books in my currently reading shelf, but I don’t think I’ll finish them before 2014 ends (not in a hurry, anyway). Here’s hoping for more good books in 2015, and hopefully, get back to book blogging. I’m not making any promises, but I will try. ;)

From we heart it, again :)

From we heart it, again :)

See you in 2015, lovely book people! :)

Filipino Friday 2014 – Week 1 and 2

Oh there, I see cobwebs on this blog. *brushes them off*

Hello, everyone! It’s been months since I blogged, and as always, I meant to blog, but life took over and well, there you go. In a way, it was coming, because even my reading life was affected, which led to some pretty drastic changes with how I read and what I read, and what I blog about.

But that is another discussion post altogether, which I don’t know if I’ll ever write about in detail because let’s be honest: if my life was a bus, book blogging is all the way there at the back row.

So sorry, book blog.

But I’m breaking that silence right now because hey look, it’s Filipino Friday again! It’s that time of the year! I missed last week’s post because my sister-in-law gave birth, and we all know what happens when there’s a baby at home, right? (If you don’t, well, here it is: you just want to look at the baby. All day. :P) I’m going to make a catch up post right now, though,  because I can, and because I like today’s topic. :D

Filipino Friday

Week 1!

Surprise, Reader! Hello, it’s the first week of Filipino Fridays 2014! Whether it’s your first time to participate or not, tell us a bit about yourself. More specifically, tell us about your favorite book discoveries for this year. Any author you started reading this year that you can’t get enough of? A book you didn’t think you’d like, but you ended up liking/loving? Any book series that you just have to get your hands on? Have you discovered anything new from Filipino authors this year?

Favorite discoveries:

  • Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed – I love this for all its raw honesty, and because I read it near my birthday. :)
  • The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jesse Rothenberg – I think I heard of this through Kai, and I really, really enjoyed reading this one. The 5 stages of grief, and the poem at the end, and how it all tied up together was heartwarming and it all felt right.
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – I know Neil Gaiman is good, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this one! Thanks to my new manager for pushing this to unearth this from my shelf.
  • Lumen Fidei, Evangelii Gaudium by Pope Francis – This is the first time I tried reading something that the church wrote, and I was surprised with how much I enjoyed it. These two encyclicals are not boring at all, and I realized that if there’s another place where I can get spiritual nourishment other than the Bible and the mass, reading what the Pope wrote would be a good place to start.

Favorite new series:

  • The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater – !!! I haven’t read a lot of YA recently, and I wasn’t particularly fond of The Scorpio Races. Then I picked up The Raven Boys one day and I. Am. Hooked. I love Blue and the Aglionby boys now, and it’s just such a mystical world. I love it so much that I bought the third book in the series, Blue Lily, Lily Blue on its release day. Now get me home so I can continue reading!

Books I wanted to like but didn’t like felt lukewarm about:

  • The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde – Okay, it’s not that I didn’t like it, but more of I didn’t feel too excited about it after. I like Thursday Next, and I didn’t really believe people have been saying the latter books weren’t up to par as the first four. This one kind of felt like it proved their point. I will still read the next ones, and I hope it gets better.
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – I found this very readable and I enjoyed the voices of the characters…but that ending, though! So many mixed feelings about it!

New Filipino authors:

  • Some are not necessarily new to me since they’re classmates in #romanceclass. I finished reading The Boyfriend Backtrack by Dawn Lanuza and I was surprised with how much I liked it. (Also, Chase ♥)

Week 2!

As a reader, have you ever thought about writing a book? What kind of books/stories do you want to write? Or are you now a published author, and what compelled you to go fulfill this dream? How was your journey from reader to writer? How did you go about getting your book out there?

Here’s what I would have answered, if this question was asked two years ago:

Yes, I’ve always wanted to write and publish a book – a chick lit/romance/fluffy book – but I don’t have the guts because I’m scared of being edited or reviewed.

If you asked me last year:

Yes, I’ve always wanted to write a book, and I’m writing one now, but I have no idea when I’ll finish and have it edited.

But I suppose this question was asked this year, and I am both thrilled and nervous to say that I can actually answer the latter questions because I self-published my first book last month(Yay!)

The journey from reader to writer is not necessarily hard, because I’ve been writing for so long. But it was hard work, because I had to get myself writing (and the #romanceclass deadlines and structure really helped!), and then I actually had to work on getting beta readers, revising, looking for an editor, revising, and then finally taking that plunge to put my book up in Amazon and market myself as an author.

It’s not necessarily hard, but it’s not easy either, because you need to work. Especially if you decide to self-publish, and I’m learning that I have to really start being shameless if I want people to read my book. Also, I have to learn to have thick skin for comments and reviews that’s not really as desirable for me. I haven’t gotten them yet, but who knows, right?

It does feel surreal, though, to know that I have a book out there. Finally. 

And since I did mention shameless:

 

Fall Like Rain by Ana Tejano :)

Fall Like Rain by Ana Tejano :)

Yes, that’s me, and yes, I’m using a pen name. I wrote a post about why I did that, and why I am revealing who Ana is left and right on my personal blog. Let this post be a plug, because like I said, I must be shameless. :D

Summary:

Rain De Castro has been in love with her best friend, Mark Velasco, for almost the entire time she has known him, but she’s clearly in the friend zone because he’s happily in a relationship. Or so she thought, until the news of his break-up reaches her. Now that Mark’s single again, she decides that it’s time to get out of the zone. But when her cousin Lissa comes into the picture and sets her eyes on Mark, Rain feels troubled when he gets a little too friendly with her. Rain is determined to fight for what she feels this time, but is it worth the effort if it’s a losing battle from the start? Will she back off to give way for her best friend’s happiness, even if it means losing him to someone else again?

Preview the book: first five chapters on Wattpad!

Where to get the ebook: Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Scribd | Smashwords

Where to order the print book (Philippines only): Click!

Follow my author accounts: (Hee, still can’t believe I can say that now :D)

And no, this story is not about me. :)

There you go. Happy Friday, everyone! :) Hope to see you at the Filipino ReaderCon 2014! :)

The Dream Thieves

The Dream Thieves by Maggie StiefvaterThe Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Cycle # 2
Publisher: Scholastic
Number of pages: 439
My copy: paperback ARC, gift from Scholastic Philippines

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

* * *

So soon after I finished reading The Raven Boys, I grabbed The Dream Thieves from my shelf and started reading, so, so thankful that Scholastic sent me a review copy of this last Christmas. I really enjoyed the first book so much that I just have to read the next one. I couldn’t get enough of Blue and Gansey and Adam and Ronan and Noah, and I needed to know what was going to happen next.

The Dream Thieves started with an even more whimsical tone than its predecessor – now with Ronan as the focus. Ronan dropped a bombshell in the last book, which followed that this book would be mostly Ronan’s story. But there’s more than Ronan’s strangeness — there’s Adam dealing with what he did at the end of the first book, and Noah, still silent but moreso than usual. Then there’s Gansey, still with his relentless search for Glendower the sleeping King, and Blue, who finds herself getting more and more entangled with these Aglionby boys.

There are more characters in this book, and all of them somehow shone on their own right. I loved how Maggie Stiefvater characterized Ronan’s siblings, and the villains, particularly the Gray Man. I really love how his story developed, and in the end, I was kind of sure that he’s one of my favorite villains now. Then there’s more of Blue’s family – all the psychic fun stuff, but also her loving relationship with her mom, Maura, who also played a bigger role in the story.

I think I kind of fell in love with Gansey here, but more because of him and Blue. While I was reading the first book, I wasn’t sure which side to pick for Blue, but after this, I am pretty sure I am on Team Gansey. ♥ (I like him so much that I named my phone after him. Heh)

The Dream Thieves start out really slow, probably even slower than The Raven Boys, and I admit that I stopped reading it for a while because real life got in the way. But when I went back to reading, it was easy to slip back into the world of ley lines and sleeping kings, and you have to trust me on this – the build up is so worth it. :)

How soon till the next book comes out?

Number of dog-eared pages: 20

Favorite dog-eared quotes:

In that moment, Blue was a little in love with all of them. Their magic. Their quest. Their awfulness and strangeness. Her raven boys.

Rating:

Other reviews:
The Midnight Garden
The Nocturnal Library