#T5W | I like these authors. A lot.

This week, we are talking about Authors You Want to Read More From.

I am at a loss at how to kick off this post so I’ll just go straight to the list. I’m having a bad day at work today and I need a distraction. Wish.com, AliExpress, and several online book shops aren’t helping much. (LOL.)

  1. Roshani Chokshi. I met her last February and had my copy of The Star-Touched Queen signed and personalized. Then I read it. It’s quite purple prose-y but I truly enjoyed it. Instead of it being annoying and tiring with all the flowery words and metaphors, it set up the mood nicely and it made imagining the world she wrote so easy and enjoyable. I do have A Crown of Wishes which I will get to very soon. And she recently announced that she is releasing a middle grade book next year. Yaaasss!
  2. Marie Lu. I also met her at the same event that I mentioned above. Ever since reading the Legend trilogy last year, Marie Lu has become an auto-buy author. I just love how well she writes action and her characters are so simple yet rich. I have The Young Elites trilogy (signed and) waiting for me. And I cannot wait to get my hands on Warcross. And I also hope to have all of my copies of her books signed… eventually.
  3. Ryan Graudin. I read her Wolf by Wolf duology and instantly fell in love. So much that I plan to try her All that Glows duology even though I’m not a fan of fae. There’s something about her writing that feels so strong and solid. Both Wolf by Wolf and Blood for Blood blew me away. Yes, they are YA books but it had none of that shallowness that even dystopian YA has, whether intentional or not. Invictus is going to be released this year and I will surely read that.
  4. Brandon Sanderson. My 2017 project is to finish the Mistborn trilogy. I’ve read and absolutely loved The Final Empire. I might read the next one in the coming months and the last one by the end of the year. And this author has a LOT of other books. So many of them are well-loved by the book community, not just by the SFF readers. The Final Empire was so easy to read and follow despite the large cast of characters and rather complicated magic system.
  5. Keigo Higashino. I debated whether to mention him or another Japanese author here but I decided with Keigo Higashino. I own six of his translated works but have only read one. Which is strange because I enjoyed the one that I read, The Devotion of Suspect X. I don’t know what I’m waiting for. I love how he puts a spin on a detective story. What I love about Japanese fiction is that it has its own mood that is so distinct from Western mysteries. I really should pick up the other books by this author because all of them sound so interesting.

I have other picks. But looking at my list, I am most excited about these five authors.

TOP TEN TUESDAYS | NOPE.

I know, my previous post is also a TTT but I’ve been busy, okay?

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is the Top Ten things that will make me instantly NOT want to read a book.

In a way, it’s okay. Last week’s topic is the opposite of this one. I had to dig deeper for this. I see myself as an equal opportunity reader. As with food, I’m willing to try anything at least once. In doing so, I think I’ve arrived at my preferred and/or comfort genres.

A little disclaimer, as with every “negative” post, it’s cool to have an opinion. By saying that I’m not a fan of these things, I don’t mean that you have bad taste if you like them. It’s great that you like them. I just… don’t. So let’s get to them, shall we?

(This is a list of things that make me not want to even pick up a book. Bad writing and other components may make me DNF a book but in order for me to know that, I would have already picked up the book and started reading it.)

  1. If the book is written in verse. Poetry. I am not a fan of poetry. I’m sure it’s beautiful, profound, deep, etc. But it doesn’t do anything for me. I hated it when we were asked to write poetry back in school. I just rhymed every line and called it a day. I ain’t that deep. 😉
  2. Christian fiction. NOPE. I’m okay with religious text, historical texts talking about religion – I devour stuff like The Da Vinci Code. But I cannot stand Christian books. They tend to get preachy and please, spare me.
  3. Speaking of preachy, John Green books. I’m not saying they’re religious in anyway but I found that the text rather tells me what to feel. I hated The Fault in Our Stars. Please don’t tell me what to feel and how to react to this situation. Then I heard that his other books are like that as well. So I’m sticking with his online content, I think.
  4. Ugly covers. We are told not to judge a book by its cover but sadly, we all do that. And unfortunately, a lot of self-published work have atrocious covers that turns me off from them. I’m sure there are diamonds in the rough but the covers, man. Mainstream books aren’t exempt from this, you know. Covers ARE important. After all, they’re the lure that attracts you to even look at the book.
  5. If the dog dies. I can’t. I just can’t. God forbid if Makkachin dies. I hate watching those pet adoption ads on TV because I’ll be a sobbing mess by the end of that ad. Kill everyone else in the book except the dog, please.
  6. Fae. Sookie Stackhouse said it best – “WTF”? And I also stopped watching True Blood when it was announced that Sookie was part-fae. I blame this anti-fae-ness on True Blood. I did read ACOMAF and I kept shaking my head at all the fae – all their pomp and snobbishness.
  7. Chicklit. It’s annoying. Here you have an educated white girl, living in the heart of the city, about to start a glamorous job that pays well, has a closet -full of shoes and clothes, a dog, and friends who brunch. And what does she do? Complain. Bitch. Woe is me.
  8. A Goodreads rating that is below 3.5 stars. Life is short. These people read it so I don’t have to. I know we all have different tastes, opinions but there must be a reason why a certain number of people rated a book low.
  9. A short story collection by multiple authors. I love immersing myself in an author’s writing. One short story is not enough for me to do that. I’ve tried that and it was so jarring to read different writing styles in one go. I’m not saying I don’t like short stories – I just like it when it’s one author’s collection.
  10. YA Contemporary in general. Let’s face it, it’s not my genre. I got lucky when I read Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. But even the synopses at the back of YA contemporary books turn me off completely. I like my escapes to come in the form of fantasy and sci-fi… things that can’t really happen. I have enough drama IRL to bother with it in a book.

How was that? Harsh? Eh… 😉

TOP TEN TUESDAYS | Cate-bait

I met Gary Sinise and Daniel Henney yesterday. I’m still not over it. 😄

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is the Top Ten things that will make me instantly want to read a book.

At first, I had no idea what to put on here. I didn’t think I had “criteria” or “reasons” why I want to read a book. I checked out a few entries and they said “pretty covers”, “sale prices/free”, “interesting blurbs or first sentences”, etc. While I do like all those as well, I see them more as reasons to BUY a book. I never really relied on blurbs and summaries; that’s what GoodReads is for — I do so much “research” before committing to a book. (I do that with every purchase that I make LOL.) And while I prefer pretty covers, it doesn’t influence my want to read a certain book over another. But all those reasons are totally valid. Just… not for me.

Then I sat down and looked through my GoodReads “read” shelf. I noticed I do have a preference. I went through a phase where I bought books in bulk because of all the sales but most of them still sit unread… somewhere in my room (who has enough shelf space anyway). And a lot of my “read” books are purchased pretty recently. So here are my 10 things that will bait me to reading books sooner than others.

  1. Japanese fiction with anime and/or live action adaptation. I have a lot of Japanese fiction. I would love to be able to read all of them but I tend to put priority on those ones with anime adaptations. All of the manga that I read so far have anime versions – and I may have watched the anime before reading the manga or light novel. That’s usually how I hear of manga or light novel anyway. It’s interesting for me to see the drawings come to life on the screen and voiced by my favorite voice over actors.
  2. Anything recommended/mentioned on the Sword & Scale podcast. True Crime is one of my favorite genres but sadly, I don’t read nearly enough of it. I’ve taken some recommendations from this incredible true crime podcast and have enjoyed some of them. I’m tempted to have a “Sword & Scale book club/shelf” because of all the interesting titles mentioned in several episodes.
  3. Finished duologies and trilogies. I’m almost done with my marathon of The Grisha Trilogy. I’m not a follower of new releases. I actually prefer reading older series. The best way to read duologies is to read it back-to-back. It feels like one whole story. And I think I may have to do the same with the other trilogies that I own but have not started yet. I quite enjoyed it this way.
  4. RUSSIA! I blame the great and fictional Viktor Nikiforov of Yuri!!! ON ICE for this renewed interest in anything Russian. I went through a binge-watch of Russian-themed espionage films back in the day. Now, I’m looking to books as well. Thus, The Grisha Trilogy marathon.
  5. Mixed media content. I breezed through Illuminae and Gemina. I read Train Man in one day. These kinds of books fly by fast and they’re a good thing to mix up one’s reading experience. Rather than block words on a page, these have pictures and new ways to enjoy a story.
  6. Sci-fi/mystery adventure thrillers. Along the lines of James Rollins and Dan Brown. The latter’s Robert Langdon series is an auto-buy for me. James Rollins’ adventures are just so good. Formulaic as they might come, they’re still so enjoyable – especially on audio! Actually, I will read anything from either of these authors.
  7. World War II / Holocaust. Except Anne Frank’s diary. In high school, I read every Holocaust-related book that I could get my hands on. Fictionalized or historical, lemme at it.  Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman sat so very high on  my wishlist last year. I prioritized Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin over so many other things because it was set in a world where the Axis Powers won. That whole era is so fascinating for me.
  8. A very hyped book on SALE. I’m talking about free to $1.99 at the most. I felt this especially with Vassa In the Night by Sarah Porter. (And again, Russia.) I got my copy for less than 99cents because it was green tag day at Goodwill and this had a green tag on it. I remember this was so hyped back when it was released. And when I got home, I wanted to start it so badly. But Shadow and Bone called out to me. (Russian, again.)
  9. Anything by VE Schwab, Marie Lu, and Pierce Brown. Welcome to my list of auto-buy authors. I will ready anything they put out. Even poetry. And I don’t care for poetry. I have dropped everything to read Morning Star when it came out. I purposefully didn’t start another book before I got my hands on A Conjuring of Light. I will make time to read these authors’ works.
  10. Fantasy, in general. I will more likely to read fantasy than contemporary.

But being the mood reader that I am, I will read whatever the hell I want whenever the hell I want it. 😄

#T5W | I’m (a) Game(r)

This week, we are talking about Books That Would Make Good Games.

One thing you may not know about me is that I’m a gamer. Sure, I spectate more than I actually play but I’ve always had a controller in my hand since the classic Nintendo Famicom. I had three PSX consoles, 2 PS One, 2 PS2, a PS3, 3 PSPs, a PS Vita, and a PS4 Pro. My brother and I are actually planning to buy another PS Vita because the one we have now is rooted in the Japanese PlayStation store. And if it’s not yet obvious, we’re Playstation fans. I’ve never even held a GameBoy or a Nintendo DS in my life. No joke. 😄

My favorite genres are Japanese RPG, survival horror, and fighting games. Tekken 3 is like the national video game in the Philippines. Final Fantasy VIII was my top favorite JRPG until recently. And while kids spend the day with their dads in parks, malls, or fixing cars… I was helping him beat Silent Hill. Today, I still love Tekken and have grown to love Street Fighter. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel has dethroned FF8 as my favorite JRPG so much that I am seriously contemplating on buying a Windows system so I can play the game’s re-release with 5000 extra voice over clips. And I think Resident Evil: Biohazard is one of the scariest video games ever! I can talk you to the ground about video games like I can with books and anime.

Anyway, I figure this is going to be a long post. I will not only name 5 (or more) books that would make great video games but I will try to mention games that can be good books too. And I will be categorizing them into genres/modes instead of the book’s genres. This is going to be fun!

Continue reading

Review: As Red as Blood by Salla Simukka

I think the sure fire way of making me post a book review is if I got the book from Blogging For Books. I’ve been lucky that I like majority of my choices. Thank you for sending this my way and I hope to find more new-to-me reads through this platform.

There is something about thriller novels from Sweden, Finland, Norway, thereabouts that I absolutely love. They translate well into English. They keep the fear, tension, and suspense. Not that I can read Swedish or whatnot. It’s the setting that helps keep the integrity; it’s always cold, rough, snowy, almost desolate at times. I definitely felt that in the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson, which I devoured back-to-back. Sure the names and places were confusing but I just remembered how they were spelled and I was good to go. They do thrillers so well that I am looking forward to reading more of them in the future.

Speaking of Lisbeth and her cast of characters, this book is marketed as The Girl… for YA. Here, we have Lumikki Andersson, an independent high school girl who tries to keep her nose out of trouble but her curiosity gets the better of her. As she tries to get away from dramas of high school, she stumbles upon a pile of bloody cash hidden in her school’s darkroom. From there, she traces the source of the money and the forces working behind it.

It is very reminiscent of the Millennium trilogy in that it deals with gangs, corrupt government officials, sneaking into places in disguise, kidnapping, mistaken identities, and of course, killing. Yes, this is YA but it doesn’t shy away from the idea of killing innocents and graphically describing how it was done.

I loved Lumikki. She’s a bit one-dimensional and flat. Think Daria. (I can name more anime characters that better describe her but let’s stick with Daria.) But she’s bad ass. And she is a good person. Yes, her curious nature propels her to find answers but she agrees to help an acquaintance that she doesn’t really know and frankly, thinks low of. But she was game to dress up, sneak into a private mafia party, get chased in the snow and shot at… all in the name of solving the mystery and saving this female acquaintance. And don’t confuse this to be a fairy tale retelling. “Lumikki” is Snow White. The trilogy is unofficially called the Snow White trilogy. References of blood on snow are repeatedly mentioned throughout the book. But there are no fairy godmothers or dwarves in this book. But those references provided a perfect set-up for tension.

However, there’s this one point in the book where I’m not sure if they were queer-baiting or I just missed something. There is technically no romance in this book but there were mentions of a love interest for Lumikki. For almost a whole chapter, there were no pronouns used to describe this love interest and the descriptions of Lumikki at the beginning of the book make her seem rather androgynous. But then she begins to pine for this person who ends up being a guy after all. And yet until they mention his name, I was convinced that it was a girl. Eh.

Overall, it was a quick read. Less than 300 pages of all action. Lumikki is a great character and you just can’t help to root for her.

Rating: 3.5 stars. I am interested to acquire the rest of the trilogy.

TOP TEN TUESDAYS | Fandom

Ah, fandom. Where do I even begin?

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a Fandom Freebie.

Well, well, well. If you follow me on Goodreads, I call myself  “The Professional Fangirl”. Not that I get paid for it with money… with amazing memories, maybe. I may have a slightly addictive personality wherein I want to know everything about something that I like. Then I buy merch. No making money there, that’s for sure. 😉

(I provided a lot of links in place of photos. I have a feeling this post will be quite long.)

I remember when Tumblr was still new, I was pretty active on it. Then it grew. More fandoms started to join in. I then fell off the Tumblr wagon. Scrolling back and forth became too tedious and I found too many things to like and reblog. I pretty much set myself up for failure because I was a meticulous tagger and that became a chore fast. I also was managing a Castle tumblr and oooh boy, my interest for that show fizzled faster than a candle wick. Looking back now, Tumblr is perfect for inspiration (I never got the hang of Pinterest) and pretty stuff but I’m too multi-fandom to keep up with it.

Speaking of that, here are 10 fandoms that I subscribe to and follow. These are not my ONLY fandoms but these are the ones where I’m fairly active. Really, scroll through my Instagram feed and you can probably guess what they are. I tend to go merch crazy. Not all the time but I have moments. I never do posters, rather I collect fan art from Artist Alleys at conventions. The way I display my “affiliation” to certain fandoms (lately) is through charms/keychains. In the past, I was never the one for keychains but when my brother started collecting some for his JRPGs, I was hooked.

When I saw that this was this week’s topic, I felt overwhelmed. How do I present this? I can’t have pictures of everything. You guys will think I’m crazy. I already think I’m weird and nerdy. I’m proud of that. While my lipstick collection is quite big, my fandom merch is easily double that, if not more. Unfortunately, I don’t have much in terms of bookish fandom merch. Outside of pre-order swag and signed books, finding book fanart at conventions is not easy.

So I think that went on for far too long. Let’s get into the fandoms.

LORD OF THE RINGS. I guess you can consider this a bookish fandom. While I do love the books, I fangirl a tad bit harder for the movie-verse. I will and have dropped everything – school, work, social responsibilities – to attend LOTR-related events. I’ve been to red carpet premieres, Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremonies, post-LOTR project events, and the One Last Party held by TheOneRing,Net. I have the movies in every disc form, two sets of the trilogy, several covers of The Hobbit, including the 50th anniversary limited edition, two Keys of Thorin, pillows, fleece blankets, shirts, Funkos, bobble heads, Legos… you name it. I will never truly leave Middle-Earth. You can’t make me. Hannon le.

HARRY POTTER. Another bookish fandom. And this time, I’m more into the books rather than the films. But that didn’t stop me from meeting Daniel Radcliffe! Also, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Studios Hollywood is one of my favorite places in the world. I can just go there, park myself somewhere and people watch. I don’t even have to ride the rides to enjoy. It’s just the feel of that place… it’s wonderful. I’m so happy that the friends I made through LOTR are pretty much the same ones that I hang out with at WWHP. We would dress up, one big group of students and other patrons would compliment us, the employees would give us free front of the line passes (this happened 3x in one day!), and even take photos of us. This fandom can be overwhelming but it’s always so much fun.

THE FIGHTING GAME COMMUNITY (FGC)I don’t know if this is a fandom per se but it definitely a community. I follow mostly the Street Fighter scene. It led me to amazing matches, great reading materials, and my favorite food truck ever, Okamoto Kitchen. You would think, “Oh it’s just a bunch of guys and girls at an arcade beating each other up with game pads and controllers”. Well, don’t knock it until you’ve experienced it. Either by being a stream monster or standing right behind the players in person, the thrill is unmatched. Continue reading

WRAP-UP | MARCH 2017

It’s finally Spring and the weather in Southern California is going insane. One day, we get 80s and then 60s the next. The day would start with a very humid mid-50s only to go up to 80s by midday and then 60s at night. It’s tricky dressing up every morning for work; either you’re stuck in the heat and humidity in a sweater or chilly in short sleeves.

But it did bring (the illusion) of longer days. It would be 8PM and there’s still light in the sky. “Longer” days meant I can do more thing before my body clock starts winding down and I turn into an anime binge monster. Then I guess that is so. 🙂

I made a Spring TBR and since then, I’ve been very conscious about which books to read next. I’m trying not to pressure myself too much though. The reason why I never really did TBRs is because I refer to it a lot and I self-destruct when I don’t feel like reading any of them and end up just quitting, which then leads to a slump. We don’t want that. Right now, I think I made a doable list and I hope to get to the majority of them. In fact, I already read a few titles off of that already.

Last month, I read 3 books that are over 600 pages. And I’ve accepted that manga will always be in the mix not just as filler for my GoodReads goal. I genuinely enjoy it so expect a good chunk of my monthly wrap-up to include a bunch of manga.

TOTAL BOOKS READ: 12.

  • Black Butler, Volumes 4-6 by Yana Toboso. It’s the Indian Butler and Book of Circus arcs. As you know, the 2nd season of the anime is an original story and does not exist in the manga. Thank goodness for that. These two are my favorite arcs and I love the manga versions just as much as I do the anime. I gave Volume 4 a 4-star rating while Volumes 5 and 6 both got 5 stars. Soma, Agni, and Joker (especially his Japanese voice actor, Mamoru Miyano) are all so close to my heart.
  • A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab. All the feelz. This was a fitting conclusion to the trilogy. Everyone found closure. A part of me doesn’t want anything else from this story. I mean, a lot of other books release novella collections, graphic novel continuations, POVs from other characters, etc. I sort of don’t want that for this ‘verse. But another part of me wants a graphic novel version of this. I loved it. Five stars, as if that was any question.
  • Orange, Volumes 4 & 5 by Ichigo Takano. As I am still and will always be Team Suwa, I finally finished this gorgeous piece of a manga. I find myself re-reading certain parts as I would rewatch certain episodes of the anime. This was just beautiful. That’s all. Five stars for both.
  • The 6th Extinction by James Rollins. Audio book but still counting the pages. I didn’t enjoy this as much as other James Rollins work. I’ve read and listened to the other Sigma Force novels and I know their general formula. But this one didn’t hook me all that much. I mean, I still followed the story enough but I realized that I wasn’t really listening as closely. I got lost a couple of times. But I did listen to this pretty quickly. I might re-read this in the future. 3/5 stars.
  • Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. Holy shit. That should be enough for a review for this masterpiece. Oh boy, and you thought The Hunger Games was brutal with the idea of killing children. Add to that the explicit explanation on how the children are killed. Yup, this does not hold back. I would definitely read this again. 5/5 bloody stars.
  • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. After the blood and gore, I needed something light and fun. This was definitely that. It was a bit confusing but it did what it said it would. I breezed through this quickly. A light read indeed. 3/5 stars.
  • Barakamon Volume 2 by Satsuki Yoshino. I save this series for those times when I’m in between books and I just want a distraction. I know I will like this; I love Naru and the gang. 4/5 stars.
  • Caraval by Stephanie Garber. I’m calling this the biggest letdown of 2017. I don’t understand why this was so hyped up to begin with. No, I know. It’s the reference to The Night Circus. Effective but dang, you set yourself up for failure, dear book. This was not good. I’m debating whether to do a full review on this but there are other amazing reviews on GoodReads that basically say what I want to say and then some. While I did get over the writing “style”, Scarlett was just impossible. 1/5 star.
  • Train Man by Nakano Hitori. After that not-so favorable reading experience, I wanted a pick-me-up. This book literally arrived the night before I read it and finished it inside of 24 hours. Having read two Japanese fiction books this month means I’m back on track with my “one Japanese fiction a month” sort of goal for this year. I absolutely loved this little gem. This is told in forum postings in a channel called 2-chan. Sort of 4-chan and reddit, if you’re into that. BANZAI FOR THE GEEKS! It’s a cute story about a shy geek guy and how he meets this girl that seems like out of his league. I love it. Go read it. 5/5 stars.

STATS:

  • 4142 pages – counting audio books as if I read the physical books
  • 1 audio book – ~14 hours

As for my book-buying… I did so well this month! I didn’t buy anything from the Book Outlet sale. Actually, I filled a cart but when I looked through it again I realized that I have no dire need for any of those titles. So I guess that’s an improvement? I felt like this with makeup last year. I would look at makeup but there would be no urge to buy it. I still love books (and makeup) but I think I’ve controlled my urges now. 😉

(Or so I tell myself LMAO.)

I bought three signed books last month. Two of them, I already previously had unsigned. But hey, whatever. 😄

  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman – Book Alley, Pasadena. It was a random Thursday where I had to go somewhere after work but I didn’t have a book on me. I’ve always wanted to read this despite the not-so favorable reviews.
  • Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino – Book Alley, Pasadena. Signed. I already had this in paperback but I just had to get the signed copy of this.
  • Train Man by Nakano Hitori – Barnes & Noble. I needed a copy of this book. I needed a couple of dollars more for free shipping. Read. Loved.
  • A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi – Barnes & Noble. I pre-ordered this so I also got the free novella, Death & Night.
  • Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter – Goodwill. I remember wanting this book because of the cover and it’s about Russia. Other than that, I don’t know anything. It’s a short book. I hope to get to this eventually.
  • The Young Elites by Marie Lu – AbeBooks. Signed. Now all three of my Young Elites trilogy books are signed copies.
  • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro – I finally gave in and bought the signed copy from Target.

This was the best reading month for me so far this year. I enjoyed a good chunk of what I read and wanted pretty much everything that I hauled. Let’s keep this up!