[Book Review] Chasing Mindy – Carla de Guzman // the only Filipino “Lovers in Paris” I recognize

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Title: Chasing Mindy

Author: Carla de Guzman

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

My Rating:

RATING - Four Stars

Summary:

Mindy and Javier are not friends, okay.

Despite their mothers’ matchmaking, they’ve managed to stay out of each other’s way. Until Mindy goes to Paris for a week, and her mother insists she meet up with Javier. He’s in Paris to study, really looking forward to see you, she says. Watch over each other.

No thanks. Javier is taciturn and boring, Mindy is dramatic and has a tendency to yell at things when her eight siblings are brought up. It’s not a great combination.

But things start to look a little different under the Paris lights, and what felt like hate feels a lot closer to love

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The Privilege of Being a Bookworm

Before I begin this post, I want to make it clear that I’m not attacking anybody in particular. However, if you feel that I am attacking you with this post, maybe you need to take a step back and wonder why.

It started when I was just browsing through book Twitter (when really I should have been going through my TBR, so let’s be real Kate, this is partially your fault) and came across an author (I refuse to say who, but I bet if you looked hard enough you’d find them) bemoaning the lack of people who liked to read in this day and age (which in and of itself is a huge crock I think – reading is just as popular an activity as ever, if not more so). This author then proceeded to say that not having money to buy books shouldn’t be an issue because you could just go to the library.

*insert long-suffering sigh here*

Look, guys. Especially my American brethren. I know it’s hard for some of you to grasp this, but the developed world is not the only existing civilization. The ins and outs, vagaries, and realities of society in developing nations (a term which I have a huge problem with – considering ‘we strip-mined these countries for all the resources they could choke out and then threw donations at them to make ourselves feel better’ doesn’t sound quite as benevolent) are, shockingly enough, not the same as yours.

Being a bookworm means you are privileged. There are no two ways about it. Being a bookworm implies tons of things about yourself which has given you a leg-up in society: you have the disposable income to afford books, you can read and speak English, you’re educated above the grade school level, you probably have access to the Internet.

Take me, for example. I live in a country where a good percentage of the population lives under the poverty line. And yet I am typing this on a laptop, while sitting at my desk in my air-conditioned bedroom, surrounded by shelves filled with dozens of print books. I may not be a member of the wealthy upper class elite, but there is no denying that I am privileged.

Let’s address the remark of that author that I previously quoted. Just go to a library. That’s something that’s often said in response to people who either: a) pirate books; or b) can’t get into reading because they don’t have the money (and therefore maybe resort to pirating books). Now, I’m not going to defend book piracy. I know it’s wrong, and I know an author worked long and hard on that book and deserves to be paid for their creativity and effort. All I’m saying is, telling someone to “just go to a library” is not helpful advice. Again, consider privilege. When you can easily tell someone to go to a library, you probably live somewhere with a great public library system like Europe or the United States. Newsflash: public libraries with online components and a wide, varied collection are very often not a thing outside of the Western/developed world.

Here, in the Philippines, well-stocked libraries often only exist inside schools and universities. Public libraries are usually only for educational purposes, and libraries that stock contemporary titles and recently published fiction are few and far between – and those that exist charge upwards of 2,000php a month in membership fees. $40 may not be a big deal to some Americans, but here, that’s a whopping amount of cash that could be spent elsewhere for the average person.

Bookstores aren’t any help either. Take for example, my home country. There are two kinds of bookstores in the Philippines: the cheap secondhand stores and sidewalk vendors that sell outdated titles, or stores like National Bookstore, Fully Booked, and PowerBooks whose prices are like woah. If you want a specific recent title, you won’t be finding those at the cheap stores anytime soon. So wanting to keep up to date on what publishers and authors are putting out means handing over the big bucks, which, obviously, is not a viable option for some people. It’s even worse if you want a title that those three bookstores I mentioned don’t stock. You’ll either have to get it through special order, or on Amazon or The Book Depository, which aren’t exactly cheap either, let me tell you.

Don’t even get me started on NetGalley and Goodreads messing things up for international book bloggers. You can Google the issue if you need to know more. Suffice it to say, getting ARCs – especially physical copies – is ridiculously difficult as an international book blogger, even without NetGalley and Goodreads totally dropping the ball like that.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is, your reality as a bookworm is not the reality of other bookworms and aspiring bookworms around the world. Being a bookworm is hard when you don’t have access to books, although God knows international bookworms and book bloggers try their best. But sometimes, the system is just gamed against you. Life is hard enough without people looking down their noses at you, calling you lazy or boring or unintelligent because you don’t read or can’t read books. Maybe everyone in the world would love reading if everyone in the world had access to books.

Keep that in mind the next time you condescendingly tell someone to go check out their local library.

Never freeze,
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[Book Review] Brave Enough – Kati Gardner // hard-hitting truths about disability, addiction, and cancer

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Title: Brave Enough

Author: Kati Gardner

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

My Rating:

RATING - Five Stars

Summary:

Teenager Cason Martin is the youngest ballerina in the Atlanta Ballet Conservatory. She never really had a choice of whether she learned to dance or not. Her mother, the conservatory’s artistic director, has made all the decisions in Cason’s life. But that’s about to change. Cason has been hiding an injury, and it’s much worse than anyone imagines.

Davis Channing understands all too well what it’s like to give up control of your life. He’s survived cancer, but his drug addiction nearly killed him. Now he’s been sober for seven months and enjoying his community service at the hospital. But just when he thinks he’s got it together, Davis’s ex-girlfriend, who is still battling her addiction, barrels back into his life.

Cason and Davis are not friends. But, as their worlds collide, they will start to depend on one another. Can they both be brave enough to beat the odds?

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5 Reasons Why Every Modern Filipina Needs to Read #romanceclass

I’ve already written about #romanceclass back at my old blog, and again when I reviewed Like Nobody’s Watching. Today though, I wanna talk about why this community of Filipino romance readers and writers has utterly captivated my imagination – and why I think every modern-day Filipina needs to add a #romanceclass title (or two…or three…) to their TBR.

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1. Supporting Filipino authors is always a worthwhile cause.

It’s very important to support your own! Storytelling has always been a huge part of Filipino culture, and Filipinos in general are such talented writers. The authors of #romanceclass bring much-needed flavor and perspective to the romance genre. And don’t lie – I know you’ve imagined what it’d be like if all those rom-coms and chick flicks had characters that looked like you and came from your background.

2. It’s fun to piss off genre snobs.

I despise pretentious genre snobs. Like, dude, let a girl live, you know? I refuse to feel guilty for the things I enjoy. Romance is just a valid a genre as literary fiction or the classics. I absolutely hate that nonsense of how only vapid, shallow people enjoy romance – and I’m downright offended by it to be honest! I work with a government think tank, am a graduate student at arguably one of the best universities in the country, have written tons of papers and treatises and attended conferences, and damn right I enjoy reading romance!

And – let’s be real – even if you were the most vapid person on earth and enjoyed romance for shallow reasons, that’s perfectly valid too. You do you, friend. Let people enjoy things, damn!

3. The #romanceclass community is warm, welcoming, and downright funny.

They’re all so cool, you guys. Talk to them on Twitter. They’re the best.

4. It’s also woke as hell.

They go to bat for LGBTQIA representation (check out Start Here, the #romanceclass anthology of LGBTQIA meet-cutes) which, even in today’s more enlightened world, is still sorely needed. Also, one time, when I pointed out that the phrasing of certain sentiments in a book were ableist, one of the editors tweeted me back acknowledging that and Mina V. Esguerra herself, the founder of #romanceclass, DM-d me to say that they were thankful for readers who pointed out slip-ups like that so they could be better in the future. Love. It.

5. The female MCs are so relatable.

Filipinas in their twenties and thirties who juggle their jobs, friends, family, and love while navigating the concrete jungle that is Manila in pursuit of their dreams and passions? Sign me the hell up!

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All that said, I think readers of all genders would enjoy #romanceclass. The community is so wide, the list of books available so varied, that I’m positive there’s something for everyone. Not to mention, all the titles are hella cheap and easily available on Kindle (turn your phone into a Kindle with the app!) so honestly you have no excuse not to browse!

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[Book Review] Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi // A:TLA meets X-Men in a good way

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Title: Children of Blood and Bone

Author: Tomi Adeyemi

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

My Rating:

RATING - Five Stars

Synopsis:

Zélie Adebola emembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed once magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, the maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leopanaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest threat may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers – and her growing feelings for an enemy.

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2018 Blogging Goals

Clearly, it’s a little too late in the year to really do a ‘2018 blogging goals’ post, but I thought it would help me have a clearer idea of what I wanted to get out of this book blog. It might be helpful too to have this list so I can revisit it in 2019 (let’s hope my book blog lasts that long) and see if I actually did achieve those goals.

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1. Read more current releases.

I’ve never been the type of person who stayed on top of highly anticipated releases for a particular year. My reading style has always just been nip into a bookstore, grab something I like, pay for it. I don’t actively check out Goodreads, blogs, book Twitter, or best-seller lists.

This 2018 though, I want that to change. I want to read more newly-published books and make room in my shelf (and in my heart, lol) for newcomers to the industry. I want to write a book too one day, and I figure, if I can’t even hustle up the effort to support new titles, how can I expect people to do the same for my future (hopefully) book?

Plus, I am a diverse book blogger, and lately, publishers are starting to pay attention to diverse books. So if I want to keep up with my efforts to read diverse books, I’m gonna have to keep on top of recent and upcoming releases.

2. Share my blog with people I know in real life.

This, I predict, is going to be the blogging goal that I’ll have the most difficulty with. I am so self-conscious when it comes to writing. I’ve kept a personal blog for almost three years now and that whole time, I’ve never showed it to anyone I know in real life. Not my mom, not my best friends, not my boyfriend. The only people I know in real life who’ve seen my blog are people that I actually met through that blog, and who I eventually got to know offline thanks to meet-ups.

To start with, I’m going to be sharing links to my reviews and other posts on Twitter and Facebook. Hopefully, it’ll get me enough traffic that the residual embarrassment at having my writing out there (and really, how ridiculous is that, someone who wants to be a writer being shy about her writing) will be swept away. But please, if you’re reading this now and you know me in real life, do me a favor and don’t mention to me that you read my blog. Hahaha.

3. Make some money off of reading / writing / editing.

As I keep saying, I’m a full-time government employee and a grad student, which means my salary and spare money are basically *raspberry noises*. I know some book blogger friends who make a little side money by offering their services as editors / beta readers, so I thought, why not try something similar? I also want to try self-publishing something this year, again, just for a little extra money – and also so that I can say I have an actual book out there!

Aside from being a great experience overall, I think editing and writing semi-professionally would really help me hone whatever creative talent I have (hopefully…) after a year of writing almost nothing but academic papers.

4. Read more #OwnVoices books and #DiverseBooks.

This is something that I’ve been promising myself since 2016, but I never really committed to it. This 2018, I’m going to hardcore make that commitment and actively search out and read POC authors, especially Filipino authors. I’ve come to realize that representation matters, and it’s my responsibility to make sure to support that.

5. Make stronger friendships with other book bloggers.

But considering she was the first book blogger I met outside of the Internet, nobody will ever replace Shealea of That Bookshelf Bitch as my book blog bae. ♥

I’ll be attending the #romanceclass event #AprilFeelsDay2018 (click here for more info) with Shealea and Cara of Little Miss Bookworm so I’d like to think I’m already working on this goal!

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And those are my blogging goals for 2018. Here’s hoping I actually achieve them!

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[Book Review] Like Nobody’s Watching – Tara Frejas // fake boyfriend trope for the gaaaaawds

Title: Like Nobody’s Watching

Author: Tara Frejas

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

My Rating:

RATING - Five Stars

Summary:

It’s all fun and games until someone catches feelings.

If there’s something Pio Alvez is good at, it’s pretending to be someone he’s not. On stage and on-screen, the actor has mastered the art of becoming the characters he plays, and his new role should be no different. After all, how difficult would it be to pretend to be smitten with a beautiful, intelligent go-getter like Audrey Alonzo?

Perhaps it’s more difficult pretending not to be.

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