Required Reading: February 2014 + January Recap

Hello, and happy February! How was your January? I hope it was filled with joy and lots of good books. :)

Before I go to the books I read in January, and the books I will read for February, let me talk about some things first. You know, for a change, to shake things up. :D

First off: the Bloggy Birthday Giveaway Winner!

I meant to announce this earlier, but life and work got in the way. Eeps, sorry about that! But thank you to everyone who greeted and left recommendations in my blog’s birthday post. You just made my wish list longer! :) Here are the recommendations:

  • From Goldie: I Want to Go Home by Gordon Korman, Airport by Arthur Hailey, Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella, and The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  • From Maria: A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley
  • From Louize: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • From Bennard: Self-Help by Lorrie Moore
  • From Monique: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • From Lynai: Hinds’ Feet in High Places by Hannah Hurnard
  • From Tin: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • From Chris: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
  • From Kat: The Devil and Miss Prym by Paolo Coelho

Thanks so much for the recommendations! :) I will find a way to read all of sometime (probably not this year, but I will find a way :P). Thank you so much for the well-wishes for the blog, too.

And now the winner, thanks to random.org:

Chris

Yay, congrats, Chris! I will send you an email about this soon (and figure out what will go in the package :D).

Second: First Book Club Discussion for 2014 + Book Club Feature

Our book club had our first discussion for the year last January 18. We talked about The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, and we dared each other to read books. It was a fun afternoon, as always, except that my immune system gave in the middle of the discussion, so I started to get sick by the end of it. Massive headache, followed by my voice going away, perhaps as a sign not to speak! ^^;

TFG's F2F25 - Photo c/o Joy

TFG’s F2F25 – Photo c/o Joy

Thanks to everyone who attended, and thanks to The Appraisery in Cubao X for the venue! :)

Speaking of the book club, we were featured in Wanderrgirl! :)

TFG at Wanderrgirl

TFG at Wanderrgirl (And that photo there is so family-ish)

My friend Isa asked if I could write about the book club for Wanderrgirl last December, so of course I said yes. :) It was an absolute surprise to see it posted yesterday. Click here to read the entire post (and yes, I may have gone a bit sappy there :’) )!

Third: January Required Reading Recap

I did say that I read more in January, and true enough, I finished 8 books. 10, if you count the rereads. Of course, two of them were pretty short, but still. :) I was quite surprised that I finished two nonfiction books, too. And wrote a bit more reviews than I did in the past months. :D

  • History in English Words by Owen Barfield (3/5) – My first Barfield was an interesting reading experience. I promised I’d write a review, so I’ll save all other thoughts for that. :)
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (5/5) – just as lovely as the first time.
  • Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown (4/5) – So, so powerful. This made me laugh, nod, and cry at so many parts.
  • The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr (4/5) – I really missed reading contemporary YA, and I’m so glad I had Sara Zarr to fall back on. Really liked this one. :)
  • Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews (3/5) – A fun romp back into Kate Daniels’ world. :)

I’ve managed to get ahead with my quantity reading goal, so I can sort of rest easy for a while. I think. :D

Fourth: February Required Reading

February 2014 Required Reading

And now we go to my February reading list! I used to always go for the love theme for February, but this year I sort of decided not to go too much into it. Oh, there’s still love in some of the books I will read, but I won’t go all sappy and read too many romance novels this time around. Like I said, just to shake things up a little. :)

feb2014books

  • The Zigzag Effect by Lili Wilkinson – I’ve tried to read this before in previous challenges but I never picked it up because I lagged behind from the other books. Oops. :D
  • Cathedral by Raymond Carver – Our book club is reading What We Talk About When We Talk About Love this month, but since I’ve already read that, I thought of picking up this book instead.
  • The History of Love by Nicole Krauss – And there’s my “love” book for February. I’ve heard rave reviews about this book from book club friends, so I’m pretty sure I will be in for a treat.

And there you go. This is quite a long post! I hope you all have a delightful, love-filled February. :)

Faves of TwentyEleven: The Covers

And we’re at the last installment of the Faves of TwentyEleven series, hosted by Nomes of inkcrush! In case you missed the others, here are the other posts in my Faves of TwentyEleven series:

I had so much fun coming up with this list, and this last one is the first time I’m doing this. I’m not much of a cover person, as I have stressed in several posts before this, but I’m also one who can still appreciate nice covers. I think my opinion of covers is just a little better than my opinion about other things…like say, basement tiles. So now, here are some of my favorite covers for the books I read in 2011.

Day Five: The Covers

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Faves of TwentyEleven: The Characters

From books, we go to characters! Today is the second day of the Faves of TwentyEleven series hosted by Nomes of inkcrush. :) Characters are my favorite part in a book, and sometimes I think they may even be more important than plot. I believe strong characters can revive an overused or boring plot, so I always pay attention to them. Here are some of the characters that stood out for me in the books I read in 2011. :)

Day Two: The Characters

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Graffiti Moon

Graffiti Moon by Cath CrowleyGraffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Publisher: Pan MacMillan Australia
Number of pages:  244
My copy: paperback borrowed from Chachic

“Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers.”

It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

* * *

The good thing about having book-lovers as friends here in the Philippines is despite the lack of availability, when someone manages to acquire it, it’s easier to borrow instead of finding a way to buy it. That’s what my book friends and I are doing now, especially for hard to find/buy books such as Aussie YA books. :) Thanks so much to Chachic for letting her copy of Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (and her other Aussie YA books) go around.

Graffiti Moon, US edition

Graffiti Moon, US edition (to be reased February 2012)

In Graffiti Moon we meet Lucy, who’s about to graduate high school. We find her rushing after she receives a message from her instructor, rushing to meet Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose paintings have touched Lucy’s heart and made her feel an instant connection. Then her paths cross with Ed, the last person she wants to see because of their unfortunate shared past — but he knows Shadow. And he can bring her to him. What follows is a long night full of heart-to-heart conversations, graffiti art viewing and a possible breaking-in and stealing. Lucy realizes that Ed isn’t so bad and their shared past may just be a misunderstanding…but if she finds out who Ed really is, will she still think the same?

People often compare Graffiti Moon with Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and it is an accurate comparison. What music is to Nick and Norah is art in this novel. I am not an artist, so it was kind of hard for me to imagine how Shadow’s graffiti pieces look (seriously, I can only imagine them as crudely drawn images because they’re from spray paint cans, but I’m pretty sure they all look better than what I can imagine). However, I liked that this book was relatable enough even without much art knowledge. I like it when a story makes use of a magical night for two people — magical in the sense that they end up spending it together and realize that their preconceived notions about each other were all wrong, or at least, inaccurate. I liked that there was a lot of conversations done in this book that made the characters get to know each other, and it wasn’t just love/crush at first sight and then followed by intimacy the next second.

Personally, I didn’t like Lucy at first. I found her fascination of Shadow and her belief that she will fall in love with this person because of his art kind of annoying and unrealistic. Color me jaded, I guess. Or maybe just…eh, unromantic? Maybe it’s the teenage idealism of love that got to me. I ended up liking her after some time, though, especially after she had more conversations with Ed. Even if it was all in the span of a night, it was still filled with conversations and shared adventures, and not just eye-contact and an “amazing” kiss that would make them declare their love for each other “forever and ever”.

But as much as I liked Ed and Lucy in this book, my real favorites are Leo and Jazz, Ed’s and Lucy’s best friends. I guess it shows how much I am more of a sucker for words than for art, seeing that Leo is a poet. My favorite piece from all of his works in the book:

Almost

Your jokes kind of make me laugh
And your hair is faintly close to being cute
Your smile isn’t half bad, either
You know, I almost, almost kind of like you

The dress you’re wearing is short and sweet
And your boots are kind of cool
You’re not, not turning me on
You know I almost, almost kind of like you

The way you dance definitely isn’t stupid
I could maybe get used to the way you move
I’m not saying I’ve made up my mind
But you know, I almost, almost kind of like you (p 164-165)

I swear, Leo and Jazz are practically begging for a spin-off. Can I request for one, please?

Graffiti Moon will be released in the US by February 2012, but an e-galley of the book is available in NetGalley, so if you can’t wait, sign up and get it! I still like the Australian cover of the book, though. And speaking of covers, look what I spotted in Madrid while I was bookstore hopping:

Graffiti Moon in Spanish :)

Graffiti Moon in Spanish :)

It took me a while to translate the book title, and if I hadn’t seen the insides with Lucy/Ed/Poet headings, I wouldn’t have recognized it. :)

Graffiti Moon is charming. It’s one of those books that would leave the reader smiling, not because of a neatly-wrapped ending, but because of an ending full of possibilities. And possibilities are always good, right? :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Book Harbinger
inkcrush
Irresistible Reads
Persnickety Snark

In My Mailbox (17): Goodreads Meet-Up

A day and a year ago, I met some of my now favorite people, the Filipino Group from Goodreads. Back then, we were just 12 in the meet-up:

gr-filipinosYesterday was the 5th meet-up of the group, and it was…well, monumental. I mean, compare the number last year to this year (thanks to Book Elf for the photo):

Class picture? :P

It was loads of fun, as usual, and like all other meet-ups, we were all crazy talking to each other and grabbing books everywhere. I was a zombie that day because I just came from night shift, but that didn’t mean it was less fun. I was just a bit lot loopy while it was all happening. :P We ended up staying until closing time in SM Megamall, and then some more walking after that before I finally crashed at my brother’s place to sleep and prepare for the 10k race the next day. See why I’m so sleepy now? :D

But I digress. As with all Goodreads meet-ups I’ve been to, there is always a rainshower of books. I don’t have a picture of the stash, but it was huge, to the point that some people don’t want to take the remaining ones anymore. And to those who got so many were all complaining of heavy baggage. :P

Anyway, I really liked my book stash yesterday. All of them were books that I really wanted to read:

  • What is Goodbye by Nikki Grimes – thanks Kuya Doni!
  • Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell – I don’t know who put this in the book pile, but thank you! I was already eying this one during the interview with the guests, and when our team won in the literary quiz, this was the first book I grabbed. :D
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – I don’t know who put this in the pile either, but I didn’t see it. Monique saw it, though, and she was kind enough to grab it for me. :)
  • Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock – thanks again to Monique! :) She saw this in Book Sale just as I put it on my wish list and got it for me.
  • The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty – from Aaron. He was putting this up for swap, I think? I used my “charms” to get it from him instead. LOL.
  • Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley – borrowed from Chachic. I cannot wait to read this. :)
  • Pink by Lili Wilkinson – borrowed from Celina. Yay Aussie YA. :)

I also finally got to meet Mina V. Esguerra in person, as well as Samantha Sotto, who will launch her debut, Before Ever After, this week. I got my copy of My Imaginary Ex signed by Mina (someone has a picture of us somewhere, so I’ll get that when they post it :D), and while I wasn’t able to get a book signed by Samantha, I’m definitely picking it up soon. :)

Oh, I also got some ebooks this week, and again, they’re books I am really excited about:

Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca LeeSaving June by Hannah Harrington

  • Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee
  • Saving June by Hannah Harrington

I still badly need sleep now, but this weekend is definitely one for the books — literally, and figuratively. ;)

I hope you all had an awesome weekend! Have a great week everybody! :)