2015 Half-Year Report

Oops, I didn’t forget this blog again!

I’m not going to make excuses to why I wasn’t able to blog in the past month, though, because really, it’s just going to be the same. I think we’ve (or at least, I) have come to accept that this will be updated when I feel like it, or when there’s a blog tour and all that jazz. Which seems to be a trend nowadays, so let’s sort of not dwell on that anymore.

So instead of dwelling, let me do a little update on what the first half of 2015 has been in terms of books. :)

Screencapped from my 2015 shelf on Goodreads :D

Screencapped from my 2015 shelf on Goodreads :D

I read 24 books in the first half of 2015, and that’s a little bit halfway through the 52-book goal for the year, not counting a couple that I reread that I didn’t add here. Most of these were 4-star reads, which has sort of become my default rating for books for some reason. Haha. I even managed to finish one dare book, so yay.

Best book from this half-year list? It’s a tie between Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami. They’re very different, but also they somehow evoked the same feel for me as I read them.

It’s been going slow ever since July started, though (but it’s really just what, 7 days in, so what do I know). I have been picking books from my shelf every now and then but for some reason they’re not capturing me. I feel like maybe I should be reading this because my book club is reading it, or I should be reading that because it’s supposed to be next. But sometimes you just have to follow your gut, and just read what you want for the time being.

Especially when work is being kind of stressful and you don’t want to think and you just want to settle into a good book and just read.

Oh, and another new reading thing I’m doing: I’m reading manga. Never thought I’d say that, because I’m not a manga person, but I just finished watching Attack on Titan/Shingeki No Kyojin and I need to know what happens next. So my good friend gave me the links and I binged on them last weekend. 20 chapters to go! (And my heart is not so ready yet.)

So, there. I do think I’ll reach my 52-book goal. But I’m probably going to follow my gut for most of the time and reach for the one that it wants to read. I have a feeling it’ll be time to read another David Mitchell after I finish this St. John Paul II memoir. That sounds about right.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz

veradietzPlease Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
Publisher: Ember
Number of pages: 326
My copy: paperback, gifted by Maria

Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

Please Ignore Vera Dietz was a book that I’ve been wanting to read for so long but I never got a copy, until Maria gave me a copy. Of course, it was parked on my shelf up until the book discussion activity by the person who gave me this book.

Vera Dietz has loved her best friend, Charlie Kahn, for so long. But he abandoned her to be with Jenny Flick and the Detentionheads. Now he’s dead, so Vera goes back to her life, working full time at her job and school, trying to ignore the ghost Charlies that haunt her and tell her that she needs to tell the truth to clear his name. Will she do it? Or will Charlie’s abandonment pre-death keep her from doing the right thing?

This is my first A.S. King book, and somehow it reminds me of Courtney Summers and E. Lockhart, with all the issues (from the former) and the mystery (from the latter). There’s a lot that was hinted about the overall story here that makes you just want to read to know what really happened. Vera is a smart kid. Despite her sucky situation – especially now that her best friend is gone – she sees what’s wrong and tries to avoid it. But despite all this show of “strength,” Vera is still ultimately a kid who is facing a whole lot of grief, not just with Charlie, but from her stripper mother and her father who tries to ignore the serious things.

The fun part of the narrative are the multiple POVs from Vera’s dad (and his flowcharts!), Charlie, and even a particular landmark in their town. The writing is very sharp, and very realistic, and at the end of it all, I just want to hug Vera.

We will learn to forgive ourselves in tandem.

I liked this, I really did. :)

Rating: 

Number of dog-eared pages: 15

Favorite dog-eared quotes:

I’m sorry, but I don’t get it. If we’re supposed to ignore everything that’s wrong with our lives, then I can’t see how we’ll ever make things right.

I felt a mix of wanting to kill him and wanting to kiss him at the same time. When I thought of what true love must be like, I figured it must be like this, and not the stupid eighth grade infatuation most girls my age felt. True love includes an equal part of good and bad, but true sticks around and doesn’t run off to Vegas with a podiatrist.

I want to tell her that the only thing you get from walling yourself in is empty.

I reminded myself that the one thing Jenny Flick couldn’t buy, no matter what she used as currency, was a ticket to drive on the high road next to people like me.

EVERYONE deserves to be happy. But no one gets there by freaking out or sulking or running. So. Here’s a tissue. Clean yourself up and start back at the beginning.

I have gone from invisible Vera Dietz to invincible Vera Dietz.

 

Buqo YA 5: Perfect Moments Blog Tour – Interview with Sue Donymko

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It’s the last blog tour for Buqo YA, and today, I am very glad to have Sue Donymko, author of A Moment Like This from Buqo YA 5: Perfect Moments bundle. :) Sue Donymko lives and works in Manila, Philippines. When she’s not writing or working, or working some more, she eats, watches a lot of television, sings — much to the neighbors’ dismay — and reads until she falls asleep. You can subscribe to her blog here and follow her on Twitter here.

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Hi Tina,

Thanks for featuring me on your blog and for the mini interview. I enjoyed answering all the questions. Take care!

1. Who are your favorite YA authors? 

JK Rowling, Eoin Colfer, Gordon Korman, Rick Riordan. I generally like light and funny books, with the exception of JK Rowling’s tear-jerky Harry Potter series, and I know I don’t need to explain why!

2. What was the biggest challenge you had to face in writing your buqoYA story?

My biggest challenge was how to create a story that will capture that perfect moment that can establish something lasting or real between two individuals who only just met. I didn’t want it to be just one magical moment that would fizzle out once they were out of each other’s proximity.

3. Your characters enter the cafeteria – where would they sit?
Kris would either be in a separate table with one or two friends who are as chill and uncaring about popularity like she is. Noel, with his charm and looks, would definitely be with the cool but non-jock crowd.

4. Assuming you didn’t know the end of your story, what advice would you give your main character?
Wow, Tina, what a good question! Communicate. Take risks. You’ll never know until you try. :)

5. What song best describes your story?
Beginning of Something Wonderful by Orange and Lemons!

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6. What can readers expect from you next?
I’m finishing a New Adult novella, and maybe a spy/crime novella later this year!

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Thanks, Sue! :) Her story, A Moment Like This, is part of the Buqo YA 5: Perfect Moments bundle, together with five other YA stories. You can get it (and the first four bundles!) here!

CoverPERFECT MOMENTS

Sometimes you’ll meet your match: at detention, on the badminton court, in a resort hotel in Davao, at a lab, in a foster home, at an epic party. You’ll never know. But always keep your heart ready for that perfect moment. Read these stories and experience the bliss of first love.

A Moment Like This by Sue Donymko

Kris Mercado and Noel Abad are trapped in a posh resort hotel in Davao City during a particularly bad flood. After spending almost everyday together, they realize that they are undeniably attracted to each other. But reality bites as usual, and they now have to decide whether to chalk their romance up to forced circumstances or to explore what could be the sweetest love they’ve been looking for…

Anything You Want Me To by Audrine Pascal

Oh, Via. Such in a hurry to have a boyfriend. Now look who got dumped on social media, just before the epic party happening tonight.

So why is she hanging out with Franco Castañer? It’s all good – Via’s always been immune to all that yummy goodness, him being her best friend’s brother and all.

But is Franco actually being flirty? Or is she just reading too much into this? How exactly do you decode the species they call boy?

Vodka shot, anyone?

Something Real by Charm Jacinto

Hailey’s principle is heart over mind. It’s Rick or nothing at all. Brett’s scholarship comes first. His, was mind over matters of the heart. A laboratory experiment in Physics brought them together making their lives entangled with each other. From lab partners to having a crossfire of misread signals to friendship. Will they ever find the perfect formula when it comes to the principle of love?

Match Point Mishap by Madelyn Tuviera

“Shit happens to the best of us,” goes a saying, and Lester Torres, a now-starving student-artist, cannot agree more. The family business has reached a steady decline. His parents are distraught. His education is at the risk of being put on hold because tuition’s too expensive, impractical. Something they are no longer able to afford. Unwilling to give up, he tries to apply for an athletic scholarship in the hope of keeping the dream alive. He was in the high school badminton varsity team, after all. Might as well put his dormant skill to good use, right? He aces the first few matches, winning them in a breeze, and thinks that he’s got this scholarship in the bag already. Easy as pie.

Enter a talented player by the name of Wency David, and Lester lands the first missed service of his game.

Someone to Care by Jessica Larsen

After her parents die in an accident, Jennelle is passed around by her relatives. Hindi siya tumatagal ng isang taon sa piling ng mga kamag-anak bago siya itulak ng mga ito patungo sa iba. At fifteen, nalibot na yata niya lahat ng isla sa Pilipinas. Not that she cares, because she has learned from the moment she loses her parents that not getting too involved with anyone will keep her from getting hurt. Subalit nagbago ang lahat ng iyon nang makilala niya si Valentine, ang adopted son ng distant relative niya kung saan siya sunod na titira. Like her, Valentine has been orphaned at a young age, but unlike her, Valentine loves to keep everyone close—except her. And as if sharing a home wasn’t enough of a torture, they would also be attending the same school.

The Offside by KZ Riman

All I wanted was to move on to sophomore year. And, of course, to have Soccer God Mattheus Estevez back into my life, despite my brother’s incessant demands that I stopped dating jocks. What I didn’t count on, though, was to go through detention work with Geovanne Estevez, Mattheus’ identical twin brother, just so I’d realize both. And what I found baffling about it all was how Geovanne seemed to be putting a lot more effort into it than we had all bargained for, making this detention the best one yet.

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If You Feel Too Much

If You Feel Too Much coverIf You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For by Jamie Tworkowski
Publisher: Tarcher
Number of pages: 208
My copy: ebook, advance readers’ copy from Netgalley/Publisher

In 2006 Jamie Tworkowski wrote a story called “To Write Love on Her Arms” about helping a friend through her struggle with drug addiction, depression, and self-injury. The piece was so hauntingly beautiful that it quickly went viral, giving birth to a non-profit organization of the same name. Nine years later, To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is an internationally-recognized leader in suicide prevention and a source of hope, encouragement, and resources for people worldwide.

Jamie’s words have been shared hundreds of thousands of times online. They’ve shown up on T-shirts and posters and even tattoos. Now, for the first time, Jamie’s writing is available in the form of a book. If You Feel Too Much is a celebration of hope, wonder, and what it means to be human. From personal stories of struggling on days most people celebrate to offering words of strength and encouragement in moments of loss, the essays in this book invite readers to believe that it’s okay to admit to pain and it’s okay to ask for help. If You Feel Too Much is an important book from one of this generation’s most important voices.

I first heard about Jamie Tworkowski from my friend Isa, after she shared with me this quote:

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that i don’t like love. i love love – i think it’s the best thing that happens on the planet. It’s the biggest dream inside me. But i bought a lie somewhere along the way. i bought the lie that says i’m not alive if i’m not in love. i bought the lie that says if i love someone but then they stop loving me or they start loving someone else, then i must have no value or power or worth. i bought the lie that says if i’m not in love, then i’m as good as dead.

I had no idea who he was until then, until I found out that he is the founder of To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), “…an American non-profit organization that aims to to present hope for people struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury and thoughts of suicide while also investing directly into treatment and recovery.”1 I found out about TWLOHA back in college, I think, because some of my favorite bands (Switchfoot, Anberlin, Dave Barnes, Matt Wertz, etc) support the organization. That’s the most that I knew about Jamie and TWLOHA, and I was vaguely aware that there was a book coming out. When I received an email from the publicist asking if I wanted to review the book, I immediately said yes because if most of the book contained nuggets of wisdom like that quote that Isa shared to me last time, then I definitely want to read this book.

If You Feel Too Much is, at its core, a collection of Jamie Tworkowski’s blog entries through the years. The topics range from work, family, friendships, romance, love, addiction, depression, self-injury, and brokenness. That’s a lot to digest, but since these came from blog entries, they’re really easy to read. If you’re reading this as a memoir with a chronology of events, you might get a bit disappointed because some of the chapters feel a little bit disjointed, and sometimes some of them seemed to carry the same thought. Some of them may even be seem too short, but that’s easy to overlook because the everything here is full of heart. More than being readable, this book is super relatable. It doesn’t matter if the context of the entry is different – there’s some sort of universal truth that makes the reader connect to the things you read in this book.

Jamie’s thoughts focused a lot on reaching out, on being a friend, on opening up to people and offering love. Inversely, he also talked about how if we don’t have the strength to reach out and to offer love, then it’s okay. We don’t have to be strong all the time — sometimes, we need to be on the receiving end, too. If You Feel Too Much does not just tell its readers that we are not alone, but more importantly, we all have a part to play in this life. As Sierra De Mulder (who was mentioned in the book, too) wrote: your voice is someone’s favorite voice, your face is someone’s favorite face. 

If You Feel Too Much is all about the pain and beauty and loss and hope that makes up our being human. If you feel too much, too, then this is the book for you. Read it all in one sitting, or read it bit by bit – if only to remind yourself of the truths that we often forget about ourselves.

If you feel too much, don’t go.

You are not alone in these places.

Other people feel how you feel.

You are more than just your pain. You are more than wounds, more than drugs, more than death and silence.

There is still some time to be surprised.

There is still some time to ask for help.

There is still some time to start again.

There is still some time for love to find you.

It’s not too late.

You’re not alone.

Rating: 

Number of dog-eared pages: 42

Favorite dog-eared quotes:

Your heart is writing a poem on the world and it’s being turned into a thousand songs.

That guy with tears in his eyes and ghosts in his heart. He loved her, and you could see it. You could see it and you told him it wasn’t his to carry. You told him about grace, and you told him about the song. And you believed it. You were certain of it. So if it’s true for him, isn’t it also true for you?
Wake up. You’re alive.

And that diamond ring. I know you think about it a lot. That ring does not define you. It never did. Then or now. You can wear it around your neck. You can throw it in the sea. It doesn’t matter. It’s not your name. You are free.

Love is a thousand things but at the center is a choice. It is a choice to love people. Left to myself, I get quiet and bitter and critical. I get angry. I feel sorry for myself. It is a choice to love people. It is a choice to be kind. It is a choice to be patient, to be honest, to live with grace. I would like to start making better choices.

If you do some losing or you walk with someone in their defeat, live with dignity and grace. It is a middle finger to the darkness.

If you love somebody, tell them. If there is conflict, let it go and fight instead for peace. Break the numb false silence and break the distance too. Laugh and cry and apologize and start again. This life is short and fragile but friendship is among the greatest miracles.

More than anything, my wish for you is this: that when hour awful darkest days come, you will know you’re not alone. Pain will tell you to keep quiet, but that’s a lie. Life is fragile and we all break in different ways. I hope you know you can be honest. I hope you know you can ask for help. Did you catch that? It is absolutely positively okay to ask for help. It simply means you’re human.

About the Author:
Jamie Tworkowski, credit Jonathan FrazierJamie Tworkowski is the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms, a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and thoughts of suicide. TWLOHA has one of the largest online audiences of any non-profit, and Jamie has been interviewed by NBC Nightly News, CBS’s Sunday Morning, andRolling Stone magazine, among others. He is the only nonmusician to win an MTVU Woodie Award. Jamie speaks frequently, telling the TWLOHA story and encouraging audiences at universities, concerts, and music festivals. A proud uncle, Jamie lives in Melbourne Beach, Florida, and loves surfing, music, and basketball.

Pre-order/order the book here!

  1. Source: Wikipedia []

Buqo YA 4: Heart Choices Blog Tour – Guest post from Fay Sebastian

So let me take a step back here. This is the fourth blog tour for this, and there are 5 bundles, and in each bundle, there are 6 stories. That’s 30 new YA romances by Filipino authors, friends. That’s a lot. Now when will I have time to read them all is another thing, so now instead of blabbing about that, let me welcome one of the authors in the 4th Buqo YA bundle over to the blog. Here’s Fay Sebastian, author of Waiting for Whatever, talking about her writing playlist. :)

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Hello! I’m so excited to share my playlist while writing my #buqoYA story, Waiting for WhateverWaiting for Whatever is about Denise, who was waiting for true love since the time when she first experienced heartbreak. Denise soon learns that she already met her true love, but is surprised to find out that he’s actually someone who broke her heart before.

THE SONGS AND WHEN TO LISTEN TO ‘EM

Waiting for Whatever has three POV’s: Denise’s, Seth’s and Robin’s. However, the POVs don’t follow a specific order (e.g. Denise-Seth-Robin) and they were arranged in a way that I felt most appropriate for the story.

While writing this story, I needed all the feels that I can get. So I added a song even if I used it to get feels for just one paragraph.

Someday by Nina

Denise’s song for every guy who broke her heart. [Listen to this every time there’s a heartbreak]

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It Might Be You by Stephen Bishop

Denise’s theme song for Seth. You know, before he broke her heart and when things are still okay. [Listen to this every time you find yourself rooting for Seth and Denise]

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