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! :)

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. :)

2014 Reading Plan + January Required Reading

I meant to blog about this earlier, but I got too caught up in reading several books over the weekend that I sorta kinda forgot to blog. But better late than never! First off: HAPPY 2014, EVERYONE!

I’ve always liked New Year’s. One funny and surprising thing this year is I actually finished writing my 2014 goals hours before 2014 rolled around, and I suddenly felt so mature and on track for this year. So right now I’m declaring that 2014 will be a great year for me, for life in general and of course, for reading.

I think this year will be a little but busier than normal because I made some pretty huge commitments, so I will take it a little easier on the goals. Just a little, because I still want to be challenged, but I don’t want to be too challenged that it gets too pressuring. So, here we go, the 2014 reading goals:

52 Books

I set the same goal last year, and then I upped it to 75, and I almost didn’t make it. Oops! This year, I am sticking to 52 even if I reach half of it before July. Like I said, it’s going to be a bit busy this year, and 52 is a pretty manageable number. :)

3 Classics

I used to have a 5 classic books goal every year, but this time I’m trimming it to 3 because I never reach the 5! I mean, I did, but it was sort of cheating because I read children’s classic books. :D I’m going to set lower expectations and go for a lower number so I can read the other classics. I’m thinking it’s time to pick up another Austen (Sense & Sensibility, perhaps?) this year.

20 Filipino Books

I exceeded this goal last year, so this year it shouldn’t be too hard, right? I think I will try branching out from the contemporary romance genre and start reading those books that were assigned for Lit class in school back in college, just so I get to read some of them now without the school vibe over me. :D

I also realized that I hardly touched my print books last year because of Hannah the Kindle! So this year, I’m planning to read more print books and really get working on this TBR. I mean, I know I will still keep acquiring books, but it helps if I read some that I’ve had with me for years before I get more, right? Right? (It’s a good thing I only have like, 5 books that I really, really want to get this year. More on that on a later post. :D)

Other than that, I found that I also want to read a few more non-fiction this year, and (gasp) some financial books. I know, I’m surprised at this myself, but I’m not getting younger, and I realize it’s time to learn more about these grown-up things. :D

Of course Required Reading will still be here, which reminds me…

rr2014-01

I posted my January books on Instagram a few days back, and like I mentioned there, I always read more on January so I added a few books to the list. Of course one of them is a spillover from December and another is a reread, but that just gives me room to read more if I have time, right? :)

Books for January 2014

Books for January 2014

  • History in English Words by Owen Barfield – spillover from December, a book I’m reading as a favor to my good friend JL. 40 pages left!
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – Rereading this month for our book club’s January discussion
  • Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown – I loved her TED videos, and I was so thrilled to get a copy of her book. Loving every bit of it so far. :)
  • The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr – some contemporary YA goodness from one of my favorite contemporary YA authors.
  • Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews – because I missed Kate Daniels’ world and I want some good urban fantasy. It’s been a while since I read one.

And there you go. I’m tempted to make a reading list for the entire year, but I don’t want to be too strict on myself so I will just let myself pick whatever books I want to read every month for the next 12 months. Sounds like a good plan, yes? I can’t wait to discover more good books this year.

Have a happy 2014, friends, and happy reading!

 

 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil GaimanThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Publisher: Harper Collins
Number of pages: 181
My copy: paperback, from Fully Booked

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

* * *

I wish I could say I’m a huge, huge Gaiman fan like my other friends are, but really, the only Gaiman book I’ve read in my life is Stardust. I read it twice and loved it, and I always associate good memories with that book. I meant to read more Gaiman, but the only other book I have at home is The Graveyard Book, which has been in two of our book club’s polls but kept on losing to other books so I had no reason to pick it up anytime soon. I knew he was one of those really awesome authors (plus he has the most awesome New Year’s messages), and I know I had to read more of his works but it just doesn’t really come up in the priority list. So when my friends started raving about The Ocean at the End of the Lane, I was only mildly curious.

Until I saw the book, touched it and realized how pretty the physical copy was. Needless to say, after a few moments of touching the cover, I went ahead and bought the book. Yes, I am easily swayed like that.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a short book, about an unnamed narrator who visits his childhood home and goes to the end of the road, where he remembers his childhood friend, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. It started with a man who lived with them who committed suicide, and then all sorts of weird things happened after that, trapping him in a bizarre world that has enchanted his family. It’s too much for a little boy to deal with on his own, except that he wasn’t really alone because his new friend Lettie promised to protect him at all costs.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane held me captive from the first page. It had a lovely sort of storytelling that was comforting and creepy at the same time — you know it’s not real, but there’s that fear of the things that our hero is getting himself into. I liked how honest and quiet the narration is, how the hero as a boy tried to make sense of things and be brave, even if things are getting creepier and creepier. You can feel all the doubt and worry and fear in him, and I wanted so much for him to prevail, for him to find a way out of things and save his family. It felt a little bit like a fairy tale, with how everything was set up, but also not so much, because there were really some frightening instances. Not scary in the sense of ghosts, or how horror movies were scary, but more of I’m so scared for you type of terror.

I think my favorite part of the entire story is the hero’s friendship with Lettie. It’s easy to nitpick on the Hempstocks and their abilities, but I won’t because other reviewers have done that already. I’d like to focus more on how Gaiman wrote the friendship — it was my most favorite part of the book. I liked how Lettie stood by him and protected him up to the end. It made the ending a lot more bittersweet, and full of heart. Yes, heart. That’s the right word to use — especially with what I one of the Hempstocks said to the hero near the end of the book:

I think you’re doing better than you were the last time we saw you. You’re growing a new heart, for a start.

Suffice to say that after reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane, I will start working on reading more Gaiman. If all his books has the same kind of lovely storytelling, then I certainly don’t want to miss out. :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
marginalia
The Girl Who Read and Other Stories

In My Mailbox (6)

Hi. My wallet is currently mad at me right now. I had to hide it away because it’s about to scream obscenities at me for…well, spending so much. I can feel it grumbling at me at the middle of the week, but as of today, it’s positively seething.

But, but, I have a very good justification why I spent so much this week. One thing is the Cebu vacation…and another…well, are books. :P It didn’t spend as much as if I buy a Branson Missouri vacation, anyway. That is a perfectly justifiable expense even if I know I have about what, 70 books that I have yet to read.

Yeah, yeah, like that means something.

So yeah, I’m doing an In My Mailbox post this week because I find that I have a pretty huge stash of books this week! Well, including Friday last week, since I kind of count that purchase as part of the weekend purchase, and it feels like I just bought it this week. In My Mailbox is a weekly book meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren, where bloggers post about what books received that week, be it via  mailbox, library or store.

And here we go. *throws wallet under the bag and ignores it angry screams*

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