Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: My Year in Books

It's that time of the year again! A few hours to go and we're wrapping up 2016. 

Sadly, I committed a high crime of not posting a wrap up for 2015. Surely such a bummer - after I pledged to do that every year. But anyway, before the year comes to a close, here it is: my year in books!

Tried to do a hand-lettered tribute to this post in a haste. It turned out a bit fine, I guess. >.<

This year, I pledged to read 10 books. Such low book count, I know, but I just don't really feel like disappointing myself if I don't hit the target. Not a good habit, but it's something I need to not feel bad on a large scale this year. It sure is hard trying to juggle work, life, studies + all these hobbies but it sure is worth it every time.

This is my 6th year of doing this challenge -- and gladly, this is the fifth consecutive year of completing it! Hurrah! This year, I managed to read 18 books out of the expected 10 books -- the last one, I just finished a while ago. *grins widely*

Here're the books that I've read this year:

Books I've Read This Year

Happy Again by Jennifer Smith | After Dark by Haruki Murakami | Queen Song (Red Queen, #0.1) by Victoria Aveyard | Steel Scars (Red Queen, #0.2) by Victoria Aveyard | Death: The High Cost of Living (Collected) by Neil Gaiman | The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman | Forget-Me-Not (Ceruleans, #2) by Megan Tayte | Hear the Wind Sing (The Rat, #1) by Haruki Murakami | Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two (Harry Potter, #8) by John Tiffany | Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies (Pottermore Presents, #1) by J.K. Rowling | Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeist (Pottermore Presents, #2) by J.K. Rowling | Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide (Pottermore Presents, #3) by J.k. Rowling | Glass Sword (Red Queen, #2) by Victoria Aveyard | Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling | Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith | Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) by Leigh Bardugo | Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo | Pinball, 1973 (The Rat, #2) by Haruki Murakami

Novellas sure dominated my read list this year. Out of the 18 books that I've read, 6 of it are actually novellas. I guess you could consider Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973 as novellas but since these are major reads, I am categorizing them as novels. So counting in those 2, 10 are full-blown novels and 2 are comic book collections. Nice! Can you believe I actually ventured to a new media this year?

Haruki Murakami has a considerable presence in my reading list this year -- maybe the most relative to my other years and I am so happy. I just wished I had more alone and quiet time for it. Murakami books are best read in the wee hours of the night when almost everyone are asleep and all you can hear is your breathing and that distant nagging of your head. I've had some, but I haven't really gotten much of it enough to savor the experience -- so there are time when I read some pages just to pass the time, which is a waste really.

I've also read a bunch of books from the Harry Potter world mainly because the release of the Cursed Child script + the Fantastic Beasts movie somehow resurrected the interest in the franchise (not that it even died, anyway). Pottermore also released some short story collections, so it was really fun.

I also had some Jen Smith + Victoria Aveyard fixes this year: I continued on with the Red Queen from last year -- with the release of Glass Sword and other novellas related to the Red Queen world, as well as the This is What Happy Looks Like epilogue in the form of a novella continuing on with her recently released Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in between (which, truly, is another heartwarming read from her).

On another note, The Sandman Series was a welcome change in my routine these days. I've read two volumes already, with one already in my currently-reading list. It was really good. I was so used to reading manga and japanese things and the difference in style and story telling was really big. Couldn't say I am not learning my ropes around loving the medium, but it was really interesting trying out something new. Plus the writing and top notch art make up for it.

And finally, finally, a new discovery: Leigh Bardugo -- which, honestly speaking, dominated my 2016. Reading into the Six of Crows doulogy was like reinvigorating my love for books. The days when I can't sit still and the books I read don't leave my mind (night and day, I became a slave of it) suddenly came back in an instant. That was really fun and interesting, and I hope I could have more of it in 2016. Days have gone fast and unnoticed because of that - I enjoyed myself too much to even notice that time has passed that quickly.

Statistically speaking, in terms on pages, I am a few pages shy of equaling my 2015 count. Can't really argue with that especially with all the novellas I've been reading these days. 2012 is still clearly the winner (LOL) but I am glad that I am still maintaining my page count. After all, reading has become an integral part of myself... and through the years, it also became a way of maintaining my sanity - to keep my head floating when all else are insistent in drowning me and dragging me down *drama*.

Again, here I am disappointing myself once again because I haven't really posted a review of sorts for all the books that I've read this year. But I am trying. We'll get there, I hope. :)

There you are, Goodreads, buttering me up again. LOL.
This wrap-up won't ever be complete without me listing the top books that made my year. So hear it is:

5 Books That Made My Year
(in particular order)

  1. Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) by Leigh Bardugo
  2. Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo
  3. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter, #8) by John Tiffany
  4. After Dark by Haruki Murakami
  5. Pinball, 1973 (The Rat, #2) by Haruki Murakami

As I've said, the Six of Crows duology dominated my year! Read my thoughts by clicking on the individual link and you'll know. Kaz Brekker and Inej Ghafa really did it for me, and of course, the whole gang but you get it. The inclusion of Cursed Child was mainly because of the emotion it evoked when I read it. I figured I probably will never get tired of coming back to the Harry Potter world - no matter the time, no matter the age. Plus, a really good pairing was born (in my head, but not canon lol Scopius X Albus) so it's good. Plus -- I would never forget: Murakami. Gaaah, The amount of introspection and wonder his writing brings to me knows no bound. How with ANYTHING I read from him, something ALWAYS resonates. There is always something in his writing that I feel on an almost spiritual level it is insane. Those moments were particularly strong with two books listed.

So that was it, really. My 2016 in books. I hope I could write more reviews in the coming days. Plus, I really would like to publish a 2017 to-read list so watch out. I am planning to revive this blog more than this leaving year so some changes are about to happen. Yey!

There it is guys: HAPPY NEW YEAR! Let's leave 2016 with a big smile on our faceS as we brace ourselves for the coming year. Happy reading, still, on 2017! :)

Friday, December 30, 2016


A little experimenting on stream of consciousness at 3:00 in the morning, the first few hours of my birthday. Definitely stained by something that's a bit depressing for the occasion. Birthday blues, I guess.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

In the cold Christmas morning of 2016

It took a moment to realize that, yes, I just dreamt that you were still around.
In my dream, you were just missing but you were found.
In my dream, it just took a long time but you woke up, you opened your eyes.
In my dream, you were not perpetually gone but you were alive.

I woke up with this weird, lingering feeling that is close to nostalgia or even emptiness. I wonder why it took a few more seconds still to say to myself that, "oh, I dreamed that".

In the cold Christmas morning of 2016, the first thing I dreamt about was you. They say in Christmas, one should wish to their heart's desire. Really, I won't be surprised if that was an unconscious plea on my end -- an impossible wish for an impossible heart.

Realizing the impossible distance between your wants and reality always hits hard.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Book: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows, #2)

After reading the massively addicting Six of Crows, I realized that I was so lucky to be in a world where Crooked Kingdom is already published and readily available to be devoured. If not... I don't know up to what lengths I'd go to feed my need for a closure. The highly anticipated conclusion to this explosive duology has dominated the charts -- and not without cause! The hype is real on this one. This book sailed so far, soared so high -- my life was changed. *LOL*

I'm not even sure how to start this or if I'll be able to make a decent run down of my thoughts but let me at least try. So... one by one, let me count my feels:

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world. (via Goodreads)
Just like the first book, Crooked Kingdom (CK) was told through alternating POVs of the protagonists. We're done with the crazy heist plot of the SoC and we now move on to a different side of the story. The crew was left cheated and, here, we come across a more slow-moving form of narrative. One that is full of backstories, underlying motives, decisions and intrigues. This is not to say that CK is boring compared to SoC. In fact, I can outrightly say that I loved CK more than SoC. The first book was the beginning, one that introduces a relatively foreign world to us, one that sets the tone of the series. I think many would agree that one of the problem with book series is the pressure for the sequels to give justice to the hype of the first book. And even though people should treat each book as an almost separate material, people expect the sequels to surpass or at least keep up with the first ones. Luckily, we got an epic second book -- a fitting conclusion to this duology. Crooked Kingdom definitely did not disappoint. 

CK still has that old SoC charm. The meticulous planning. The fast-paced action. The crazy twists. Even the romance -- all the teases, all the build-up, leading to something more. Ships were realized and everything was right in the world. The way Leigh Bardugo handle relationships is too realistic to fathom, too fitting to each character's individuality. It felt natural, and it was one part of the narrative that I definitely enjoyed breezing through.

One big change in this sequel: Wylan Van Eck finally had a POV. And though Kaz and Inej's POVs are still my favorite, this was a welcome change. Some of my favorite scenes happened while reading Wylan's POV. There's this scene at Chapter 14 that got me crying in the corner with my feelings. Gaaah, his was such a welcome addition to the already brilliant lineup of POVs. I really loved the chemistry whenever he was with Jesper. It was really something. I can't talk about it enough without spoiling things so much but I was really happy with the way their story line concluded.
Maybe he was the same. A bullet in a chamber, spending his whole life waiting for the moment when he would have direction.
Now that I think about it, most of CK focused on Jesper and Wylan's backstories. And though it was a given that I'd certainly enjoy Wylan's, I find it surprising how I became really invested with Jesper's. Don't get me wrong, he was one smart-mouthed dude that I'd definitely would want to have a chat with if he ever comes alive (and absolutely one of my favorites)... but I find his character development back in SoC a bit lacking. Both Wylan and Jesper tend to disappear in the narrative in SoC, but with CK, they took center stage. It was nice to peak behind Jesper's free-spirited cover. It was nice reading that journey of finally accepting what he truly is, what he can do -- and channeling that to their cause. That [bullet-bending] scene back at Chapter 36 was soooo epic it was criminal. Plus, his Pa = <3. Papa Fahey had it rough, but I admire his love for his son. #ParentingGoalz

One thing that concerns me, though: too little Kaz Brekker POV chapters! His bright, twisted mind always deliver a punch whenever it's on page so I would really like more of it but sadly only few are in here. But still, he was a looming presence all throughout the book. I am not sure how Leigh did it but Kaz was never out of the action and I loved it. There was one particular scene with Wylan that really resonated with me, and he delivered a line that I think would be one of my mantras from now on:
"You're not weak because you can't read. You're weak because you're afraid of people seeing your weakness. You're letting shame decide who you are. [...] It's shame that lines my pocket, shame that keeps the Barrel teeming with fools ready to put on a mask just so they can have what they want with no one the wiser for it. We can endure all kinds of pain. It's shame that eats men whole."
I honestly think Kaz is one of Leigh's best creations. A boy twisted by life and fate and has been broken too many times.  One that acknowledges his weaknesses and makes a weapon out of them. He thinks he's a monster but still is able to do good and serve justice to the oppressed. One that can still care so much for another -- despite protest. *wink* His relationship with Inej has been one of the biggest highlights of my reading experience and it's definitely one for the books. The intensity of it, the complexity. I can't even begin to think how to express my love for them.

Probably my favorite Inej fanart / source
And speaking of her, this I can say: INEJ GHAFA IS MY QUEEN. Kaz have questioned her thinking: "How could she still look the world that way?" and same as him... I am amazed at how little everything that happened to her affects her beliefs. The Wraith always had something to hold on to, literally and figuratively - her religion, her beliefs, fond memories of her childhood, even that small semblance of something that she saw in Kaz that made her believe in him. The trying times when she questioned her beliefs and  even Kaz's feelings for her broke me. Especially with the former because I know how important it is for her. But still, she managed. Because she is freakin' Inej Ghafa.

Also, this quote from her:
But wasn't that what every girl dreamed? That she'd wake and find herself a princess? Or blessed with magical powers and a grand destiny? Maybe there were people who lived those lives. Maybe this girl was one of them. But what about the rest of us? What about the nobodies and the nothings, the invisible girls? We learn to hold our heads as if we wear crowns. We learn to wring magic from the ordinary. That was how you survived when you weren't chosen, when there was no royal blood in your veins. When the world owed you nothing, you demanded something of it anyway.
I want to scream because of how much light this quote brought to my life. Some books are all about the chosen ones, the ones with a destiny that would save an entire nation, the ones whose loss would mean mourning to everyone, the ones who are at the center of an elaborate game. But what about the *others*? As Inej said: the "nobodies and the nothings [...] the invisible girls"? This right here is one of the reasons why I love this book so much. Props to Leigh for veering away from "chosen ones" stories because the YA world certainly is with too much of them now. I'm not really sure but somehow this quote made me feel represented. That despite that not being *special*, you still have a claim in the world. You still have right to get what you want from it -- and I think that thought is beautiful.

Kaz X Inej / source: tumblr
         "I would come for you," he said, and when he saw the wary look she shot him, he said it again. "I would come for you. And if I couldn't walk, I'd crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we'd fight out way out together -- knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that's what we do. We never stop fighting."
Ah, the tragedy that is Inej and Kaz. It was all full-on romance-baiting back at SoC but things picked up at Crooked Kingdom.
        Two of the deadliest people the Barrel had to offer and they could barely touch each other without both of them keeling over.
This is a ship that I definitely would want to sail and I've been rooting for this since SoC. Two complex characters: both with something they want to fight for, both with something to run away from. There was this bathroom scene back at Chapter 26 that really made an imprint in my head. It was so beautifully written with such anguish and longing it was hard not to cry. My two broken babies. Both too damaged to even make it work, but still trying. A defining chapter indeed.

Inej placed her hands on Nina's shoulders. "Well see each other again."
"Of course we will. You've saved my life. I've saved yours."
"I think you're ahead on that count."
"No, I don't mean in the big ways." Nina's eyes took them all in. "I mean the little rescues. Laughing at my jokes. Forgiving me when I was foolish. Never trying to make me feel small. It doesn't matter if it's next month, or next year, or ten years from now, those will be the things I remember when I see you again."
And can we talk about Nina and Inej's friendship in this book? I haven't highlighted it enough in my thoughts on SoC, but their friendship is one thing I find very endearing and inspiring. For once, this is not about two girls engaging in a competition -- these are girls who treat each other as equals, a friendship bound by mutual trust and respect. No one is anybody's sidekick, no one's presence is more prized than the other. I hope to see more of this in YA novels in the future, because, really, this is what relationships should be made of.
She was the Queen of Mourning, and in its depths, she would never drown.

And then there was Nina,. Having just come out of parem withdrawal, I didn't expect much of her role in CK. But good thing she was still the very present firecracker that she is. And with a surprising twist, a new ability was born. Matthias and her story struck a chord with me and still sends me sobbing. [They deserve better than that.]
"I," she said, planting a hand on her hip, "am a delicate flower."
"You aren't a flower, you're every blossom in the wood blooming at once. You're a tidal wave. You're a stampede. You are overwhelming."
That level of affection for each other. *creys* If I was not obsessed with Kaz and Inej already, I would be swooning over them all the time.
"I have been made to protect you. Only in death will I be kept from this oath." 
^ Still makes me sob AF. 

Gorgeous Kaz and Inej fanart that reminds me so much of Sin City for some reason. / source

I enjoyed the parallelism, the consistency of everyone's character - that validated over and over why I love these bunch of characters so much. I mean just look at the homage for this SoC quote in these: quote 1 and quote 2. This book had its constant share of these moments of recognition which is a joy to read. I am almost ashamed at how tenderly I loved this book. 

This post turned out to be a bit long but it's because this book made me feel so many feelings I can't cope. This is the first time in a long while that I became very invested in a series so these books really hold a special place in my heart. PROBABLY THE BEST OF MY 2016. This book was perfect. I mean, cross that: THE WHOLE SERIES WAS PERFECT. Leigh Bardugo, you freakin' genius! I've never been charmed by crooks and criminals this much and that is saying something. 

MAH BABIES! / source
I was sad because the story came to an end but also a bit happy because, finally, I'll be able to get my life back. Now it's finished. A satisfying conclusion to an epic tale of complex antiheroes that I've come to love (maybe a little more than necessary). I know I can always go back -- I will always go back. *dramatically clutches chest*

To the word of Inej Ghafa on Kaz: "He doesn't say goodbye. [...] He just lets go." Maybe I don't need to say goodbye, maybe I just need to let go - but it's hard.
My Rating: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5 stars)

Quotable Quotes:

"I'll tell you a secret, Hanna. The really bad monsters never look like monsters."

He had often wondered how people survived this city, but it was possible Ketterdam would not survive Kaz Brekker.

When fear arrives, something is about to happen.

"Sometimes, the only way to get justice is to take it for yourself." Kaz

"That's where you're wrong," Kaz said. "I don't hold a grudge. I cradle it. I coddle it. I feed it fine cuts of meat and send it to the best schools. I nurture my grudges, Rollins."

"[...] There's no time to constantly be apologizing for existing. But when someone does wrong, when we make mistakes, we don't say we're sorry. We promise to make amends."

"Stop treating your pain like it's something you imagined. If you see the wound is real, then you can heal it."

"I've taken knives, bullets, and too many punches to count, all for a little piece of this town," said Kaz. "This is the city I bled for. And if Ketterdam has taught me anything, it's that you can always bleed a little more."

"Sometimes," said Kaz, "a proper thief doesn't just take. He leaves something behind."

And that was what destroyed you in the end: the longing for something you could never have.

"Fate has plans for all of us," Inej said quickly.
"And sometimes fate needs a little assistance."

Searching for anything Six of Crows-related lead me to so many fan casts. I sure do hope this gets turned to a movie. Although there's always a risk that someone, somewhere will butcher this in the big screen -- there's still something amazing when you see your beloved characters being brought to life, right? Buy the freakin' movie rights to Six of Crows, please!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Book: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows, #1)

"Book Thoughts" after a long while. Now, it's one of the much (but deserved) - hyped books lately: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I originally came across this book because I've noticed that its sequel, Crooked Kingdom, is dominating the "new releases" racks of all local book store I've been to. So I searched it at Goodreads and was surprised to see so many positive reviews... I decided to give it a go. And the rest was history. Let's just say I AM IN NO WAY REGRETTING THAT I CAME ACROSS THIS BOOK. Heh. *insert smirking face emoji* So after a lot of spazzing and hyperventilating, here are my thoughts:

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone... 
A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes  
Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first. (via Goodreads)
Victoria Aveyard sums it up all up in her Goodreads review:

And be on edge I did. THIS BOOK WAS PHENOMENAL! I already came across a lot of YA novels but this is probably one of the best and it is here to stay. I was honestly surprised at myself for liking this too much because heist books are not really my cup of tea (or I just haven't been exposed enough). This book had me floored most of time, my heart beating fast with excitement. There was even one moment when I was too caught up with this piece of treasure that I was reading it my Kindle in the middle of a night out with friends. I was uncontrollably spazzing over this book at my social media accounts and my family and my friends and my workmates and to just about anyone who would care to listen. It was the perfect mix of thrilling plot, unexpected twists, great backstories, and an interesting cast of characters. And the romance (!!!) - gaaaaaahhhhd! - don't even get me started on that. It was raw, natural, restrained  -- and that, my friends, is how YA romance should be made of. It doesn't go over board, the tension, the development. It is not used as the center of the story, rather, one that moves the story forward and makes sense of each character's actions.

Let me just say that, as good as the plot was, more than that, I was fascinated with the main characters that make up this Leigh Bardugo masterpiece.

"A gambler, a convict, a wayward son, a lost Grisha, a Suli girl who had become a killer, a boy from the Barrel who had become something worse."

The book is told through alternating first person POVs of five of the crew - each POV fleshing out each of them and providing enough backstory and uncovered character motivation to keep the ball rolling. Even if I'm the type of person who would raise both two hands (and a foot, if possible) to declare my love for 1st person POVs, the story telling was pretty effective (bias aside). With a cast of complex and flawed but interesting characters, there's no way it won't work.

The Six of Crows // source
Nina, the sassy firecracker of a Grisha. Many fans said that they could identify with Nina the most and it's not really too hard to see. She's funny, bold, brave. A beautiful girl, with deadly powers and a heart. Matthias, a former Fjerdan druskelle. The doomed relationship was too good to my liking, but I liked the frame of a wounded warrior who sacrificed so much for love -- and is still torn between that and what his country stands for. Jesper, that funny man. A sharpshooter who had an obsession to anything that gets his adrenaline high. The comic relief in this impossibly epic book, I find myself cracking up every time he's in a conversation with anyone or just remarks something out of the blue. Wylan, a newbie at the barrel who proved himself to be a demolition expert by devising impossibly sophisticated bombs. He's the only one who does not have a POV in the book but the presentation still provided him much air time.

Kaz'z eyes should've been coffee;
// source
And of course: Kaz and Inej. There's so much to be said about these two, and, as you might've guessed.... these two are my absolute favorites in this book.
“You may still die in the dregs."

Inej’s dark eyes had glinted. “I may. But I’ll die on my feet with a knife in my hand.”
Inej Ghafa is one of the most badass book heroines I've ever read so far. She can fend for herself, dangerous. A freakin' ninja, if I'm gonna be honest. A legend in the Dregs, one who walks in the dark and steals your secrets. A Suli idealist, and one who holds her beliefs dear even in the darkest and most challenging of times. I'd like to thank Leigh for writing such a strong female character that knows what she deserves and is not willing to settle for less. *slow claps echoing*
“When everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every monstrous thing.”
Last but not the least, Kaz Brekker. In all his gloved and limping glory, Kaz managed to capture my attention the moment he appeared on page. Whipsmart, sarcastic, greedy, cruel, daring -- the best antihero I've read in a long while. Despite all these negatives, he managed to catapult himself so high up in my 'book boyfriend'  list. (Yeah, I keep such a list.) He wears black leather gloves all the time, uses a cane with a crow head handle and he freakin' wears a business attire on a daily basis. It might sound comic or out of place if you think about it but Leigh Bardugo managed to make a character that draws you in with such depth and intensity. He's selfish, but at least he's honest about it. A criminal prodigy, all dark humor and schemes. Leigh created such a tragic and complicated character at the center of this massive heist plot without going over the the top. Kaz Brekker ranks as one of the most memorable YA characters I've read.  And his was the POV I loved reading the most.

Leigh Bardugo managed to surprise in every turn with ridiculous plot twists and maneuvers that only validates just how awesome this crew of dangerous outcasts are -- sometimes, it's even hard to imagine these lot are just teenagers. Each with a depth of their own, and each with something to fight for. The dialogues and interactions are witty, entertaining. Although it was rather unfair for the first book to end like that, it was necessary and it felt like the natural choice.
Kaz leaned back. "What's the easiest way to steal a man's wallet?"
"Knife to the throat?" asked Inej.
"Gun to the back?" said Jesper.
"Poison in his cup?" suggested Nina.
"You're all horrible," said Matthias.
Kaz rolled his eyes. "The easiest way to steal a man's wallet is to tell him you're going to steal his watch. You take his attention and direct it where you want it to go..."
^ This quote right took the cake for me. Starting from there, everything went perfect and I was a goner.

THE CREW, from the French cover (which I definitely love!)
I've loved books before but only few made me frustrated as hell that I can't really draw properly. Too many times while reading this book have I wished that I could draw what's in my head (so I just settled on scrolling through Instagram and Tumblr fan accounts). Leigh Bardugo managed to get my whole being arrested, my whole attention invested in her world -- Saints, I am at her mercy!
I've been fangirling on a daily basis on all things since God knows when but only a few kept me restless and always on my feet. I was perpetually distracted for two weeks and this book is to blame. I've given out 5-star ratings in the past on impulse.... but I know this one is much deserved and, hopefully, won't change in the next few weeks. This book is too precious for words, too much for my heart. I am even declaring that it's THE BEST OF MY YEAR as early as now. This book blew me away with the force of multiple cannons combined. This is YA fantasy at one of its very best. Definitely recommended!

And, oh, with or without armor, I'd definitely take Kaz Brekker.
My Rating: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5 stars)

Quotable Quotes:

The heart is an arrow. It demands aim to land true.

source: Tumblr
"I don't want to kill people, not really."
"That's a solid policy until people want to kill you..."

"Some people see a magic trick and say, 'Impossible!' They clap their hands, turn over their money, and forget about it ten minutes later. Other people ask how it worked. They go home, go to bed, toss and turn, wondering how it was done. It takes them a good night's sleep to forget all about it. And then there are the ones who stay awake, running through the trick again and again, looking for that skip in perception, the crack in the illusion that will explain how their eyes got duped; they're the kind who won't rest until they've mastered that little bit of mystery for themselves. I'm that kind."
"You love trickery."
"I love puzzles. Trickery is just my native tongue."


Reread it a couple of times because I was too busy highlighting. By the time I was finished, my copy was bleeding yellow. I was too lazy to review books these past months but Six of Crows proved to be an exception. Plus, I just bought a copy of Crooked Kingdom so before I dive in to that epic of a book and forget what my thoughts are for SoC, I wrote this instantly. It proved longer than I expected though. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Legacy (Andalucian Nights Trilogy FINAL Installment) Release Party + Giveaway! (Closed)

Whew, it's been just a few months ago when Masquerade (#2) was published and now we're down to the final installment of the Andalucian Nights Trilogy. If you can recall, Hannah Fielding, the author of this trilogy, guest posted in this blog talking about how she devised this work.

And now we're finally here: 

Legacy by Hannah Fielding
Legacy, the third and final installment of the series, is set to be published this month. So, in honor of this special event, Hannah is having a release party around the blogosphere through out August
A troubled young journalist finds her loyalties tested when love and desire unearth dark secrets from the past.Spring, 2010. When Luna Ward, a science journalist from New York, travels halfway across the world to work undercover at an alternative health clinic in Cadiz, her ordered life is thrown into turmoil.
The doctor she is to investigate, the controversial Rodrigo Rueda de Calderon, is not what she expected. With his wild gypsy looks and devilish sense of humour, he is intent upon drawing her to him. But how can she surrender to a passion that threatens all reason; and how could he ever learn to trust her when he discovers her true identity? Then Luna finds that Ruy is carrying a corrosive secret of his own…Luna’s native Spanish blood begins to fire in this land of exotic legends, flamboyant gypsies and seductive flamenco guitars, as dazzling Cadiz weaves its own magic on her heart. Can Luna and Ruy’s love survive their families’ legacy of feuding and tragedy, and rise like the phoenix from the ashes of the past?
Legacy is a story of truth, dreams and desire. But in a world of secrets you need to be careful what you wish for…
Aaaaaand, to top it all off, she'll be giving away a Karl Lagerfield "Choupette on the Beach" bag! This bag is worth around £155/$225, I think (converted to Peso, that is around 9,000+ converted from British pounds! woah! O.O) +  it looks cute AND cool.

Am I right? :D

Wanna join? It's easy. It's open to all via Rafflecopter!

If you want, you can also go to Hannah's blog for the giveaway. Just CLICK HERE.

This giveaway runs from August 1 to August 21, so hurry up and enter! It's very easy. :3

The book itself is currently available in ebook format, and for preorder in paperback by the end of August. 

Purchase Links:

Author Bio
Hannah Fielding is an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: writing full time at her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breath-taking views of the Mediterranean. 

Hannah is a multi-award-winning novelist, and to date she has published five novels: Burning Embers, ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’, set in Kenya; The Echoes of Love, ‘an epic love story that is beautifully told’ set in Italy; and the Andalusian Nights Trilogy – Indiscretion, Masquerade and Legacy – her fieriest novels yet, set in sunny, sultry Spain

Social links

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Very Sudden Bookwormism Update (after a looong time)

Okay. So apparently, the last time I did an update on my reading challenge was last year.  Last. Freakin'. Year. O.O And it wasn't even intended to be that. Plus, I committed a high crime last year, namely: not posting a wrap up for 2015. Honestly, it's a bummer that I haven't been able to write these things. But that's life for you: sometimes things are too much you can't do anything about them -- except maybe, move on. So move on I did. At least I am still trying to keep this blog alive. :)

So, why now then? Even I don't know. Maybe I just thought I'd put things into perspective for once by checking how far I've come versus where I should be. I've been doing this for 6 years now. (Yeah, even I am surprised.) And with 2016 being the 6th year, I've finished 4 out of 5 of those challenges. Looking back, 2012 was definitely my most productive year -- both in # of books and # of pages read. Because of the wave of chaos brought about by work and all, sadly, these past years were filled of novellas and short what-nots. I am ashamed to admit that I try to set a lower limit in order to feel some sort of accomplishment every year. But still, we make do. 
Moving on... where are we? Currently down to 80% for this year's challenge, Yep, it's August now (we're 67-ish% done with the year) and I am 2 books shy of completing this challenge. 3 books ahead of schedule! I hope I can still do so much in the remaining months (147 days to be exact, per Goodreads monitoring >.<).

So let's run down things so far, eh?

  • This year proves to be no different as there's still novella presence going on. But, I've read more novellas than any other year this time: Happy Again, Queen Song, Steel Scars, and, just a while ago, I finished Hear the Wind Sing.
  • I've read only 2 full-bodied novels so far: After Dark and Forget-Me-Not. I suck.
  • Can you spy Murakami pieces? I've already got 2 Murakami, After Dark and Hear the Wind Sing, down this year and I AM BEYON ECSTATIC. :D
  • I am very glad to announce that I've introduced comics to my reading routine now. This won't come as surprise, I guess, since I've been known to be a huge sucker for mangas -- but this is the first time I am reading a legit comic book originally written in English. I've started with Neil Gaiman's classic: The Sandman Series. I got the whole series on file so I am updating piece by piece in volumes. I finished Death: The High Cost of Living in a blink! Still planning to make a decent review in the coming days when I get the chance but I can say: it was goooood. A great introduction to the series indeed.


My "currently reading" list at Goodreads is growing but the truth is I've just been able to pick up 1 book (max 2 books) at a time. >.< I'm not really sure but I have this habit of picking up a book and putting it down before I even finish it, then forgetting about it and picking up another one. It sucks. But maybe it stems from my thinking, much like things happening at a perfect time, I am meant to read a certain book at a right time. LOL. I am silly, I know -- but I mostly operate that way so what can I do? :) Nonetheless, some thoughts on why I haven't finished the following (yet):

  • Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard. Mare's inner voice is pissing me off for some reason. Currently, she's not exactly a heroine I am fond of. So I am putting it down until I can think straight and understand.
  • Another Day by David Levithan. Again, inner voice pissing me off. I don't understand since I really, really liked Everyday. But, y'guys, I guess I have my days.
  • A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin. I really want to read this but I am waiting for the right state of mind to go deep into the ASoIaF series. This book deserves more from me.
  • Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. I initially picked up this book because of a certain event last time when I was desperately searching for someone - something - to understand. And that event was finished (luckily) before I even finish this book. I put it down. And I'm not sure if I'll be able to stomach reliving the feeling. ;(
  • By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho. I loved this book. I loved every minute with this book. I was almost finished with this baby when I lost it. I can't find it for some reason. ;(
  • Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. I am not one to shy away from reading a Murakami especially when I already have a copy of one. I bought it almost a year ago. Again, I believe I read these books for a reason and with Kafka, it just doesn't fit. I am not meant to read it now. I am not ready.

Sooooo, there you have it folks. An untimely bookwormism update from yours truly. This post became longer than I initially expected but I enjoyed writing this, in all fairness. It's been a while since I did -- and it certainly brings back so many memories (and unwanted emotions, too). 

How about you? How's your reading challenge going? Comment up, and let's talk! :3
Got a Goodreads account? Click here to add me up! :3

Friday, July 22, 2016

Halcyon Days: Celebrate art at Buku Buku Kafe this coming July 23!

The moment I found this quaint little nook called Buku Buku Kafe, I knew I have to come back. Luckily, Buku Buku has been doing a lot of events these days and coming back is so not out of the question. From spoken word and open mic sessions to creative workshops, this cafe has come a long way in being a haven not only for bookworms but for artists as well.

This coming Saturday (July 23), we will be treated again to some magic as Buku Buku Kafe organized Halcyon Days, a day to celebrate art with some music, live art and, of course, some spoken poetry.

This is indeed a nice poster. 

The event features performances from Reese Lansangan (!!!), Hoochie Coochie Mikkie, Kim Allen, Pia Besmonte and Jasmine May Nabong -- and will be held from 4:30 PM to 9:00 PM on July 23 (Saturday). No door charges/tickets are required! But a minimum of order(s) worth 150 pesos is needed to attend the event. I repeat, that 150 pesos is consumable. Not bad, eh? 

So... if you're in for good music/poetry AND good food, OR if you don't have anything planned on Saturday and you just wanna chill... this is the perfect event for you! See you there! :*

Find and connect with Buku Buku Kafe on:

Shameless plugging: You can also connect with ME (while you're at it) on:

Quick fact!
A quick google search of "halcyon" revealed some interesting things:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

On self esteem and having a choice

Being in the middle of the work hustle and the city rush, deep thinking was out of the question. I can't remember the last time I ever truly did it. So when I embarked on a quick escape far south of the country last February, I was prepared to face my demons.

You know what I discovered? Being in an unfamiliar place really does something to a person. And I'm not sure what's with me one faithful day in that trip but I uncharacteristically snapped a picture of me (a selfie that is, which I haven't done in a while) and wrote something and posted it on my social media accounts.

A photo posted by Riza Ponciano (@rzzzp) on

First selfie in a very long while - at least something I am not feeling insecure to post at the moment. It sucks realizing how many hours I spend in a day trying to pick at all of my faults. I think too much, I am over-critical towards myself. I am obsessed at condemning myself for not being perfect and, to be honest, most days I can't even look straight at the mirror because I don't like what I see. But today, I am happy. And I snapped this one in hopes of freezing this moment to remind me that there are better days and I just need to wait for it - or in desperate times, create it myself. Such cliché, I know, and I might even delete this after a time (I hope I won't)... but yeah, here I am actually trying to make an effort to go easy on myself. Baby steps, baby steps. 😊 #cheesybaby

Well, that's me. Pimple scars, awkward smiles, and all. Not my best look, but in one of my best states of mind. It's weird - the way all my imperfections are magnified the moment I caught my reflection in any mirror:
Hair that don't seem to stay in place.
Puffy eyebags from lack of sleep.
Smile that never quite reach the eyes.
"You should give up looking for lost cats and start searching for the other half of the shadow" - Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
This particular post from @PoemsPorns hit the hardest:
"The hardest person to love has always been yourself. 
You who sips your cup of black coffee every morning, you with the untamed hair and wrinkled sweaters, you with your habit of overthinking, you with your tongue of quirkiness and you with you weird mannerisms and you you you- 
You with the long quiet sighs when you're having a bad day. You with all you imperfections on the tips of your fingers and memorised like the back of your hand. You with insecurities that you at times think as ridiculous and you - you only being human. 
The hardest person to love was always yourself. 
Because in a world of colour and shapes; how could you even imagine fitting yourself in it like a missing piece to a puzzle? In a world of society rules and standards, how could you - you find a place for your imperfections to flow out and for your insecurities to fade into something along the lines of pride? 
You have to love yourself. 
Trace your lines of imperfection with gentle fingertips; breathe in your insecurities like the air of autumn and winds of spring. Be perfect in you own way; whispering how being you was being beautiful and how other people don't matter and how you were always so beautiful beautiful beautiful- 
The hardest person to love was always yourself."

I've struggled with self-esteem issues for years now --
     despite having my wants almost always being served in a platter
     despite the college degree and graduating with honors
     despite having a stable job
     despite having a decent life, family
--  despite everything.

But it's just that. There's nothing wrong with me physically but sometimes, I feel like, inside, I am an absolute mess. I go outside and feel so self conscious it's not even funny. It's like a mark - the way I feel like all the negative things in my head are seeping from my skin and has taken a physical form. The way they always feel so apparent, so concrete.

I may not be able to shake the feeling, at least not immediately -- but one thing that's different right now is that I AM FINALLY TRYING. It took years and years to realize that everything is just all in my head. That my issues are, somehow, self- imposed. That I can break free ONLY IF I want to.

I have the choice. When I let the negative come out, it's my fault. But, if I can be okay for at least a day, that means that my efforts are paying off -- even a little. Realizing I have the choice is still million ways better than accepting the fate to just drown as if you can't do anything about it. Because, in reality, you can.

Somehow, all of these are everything and nothing at the same time. It's like a seed, embedded deep in your brain, that grew so wild so deep that it's hard to get it out without damaging your head. Along the lines, it became a part of me. Almost a significant part of being myself that I cannot even imagine existing without it.

But it shouldn't be, right? It shouldn't.

So all the damage be damned, but I'll struggle to pull this out of my system. Struggling is fine. Struggling is a beauty -- especially if you're doing it to salvage whatever's left of yourself. Saving yourself can always be a choice. I know. Because I've been wanting to choose it over and over but always, always, fail in the process. But I'll succeed somehow - in time. So for the meantime, #HangOn, self!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

#WeekendChronicles: National Museum of the Philippines

And so, the weekly getaway continues. Next stop: the National Museum of the Philippines. It's a bit embarrassing to declare that it was our first time visiting the museum considering the fact that we live so close by... but hey, it's never too late to try. 

Besides, the National Museum extended its free admission throughout June because of the Philippine  Independence Day (June 12) and Dr. Jose Rizal's birth anniversary (June 19)! The free admission covers their flagship museums in Manila: NM of Fine Arts  and NM of Anthropology. It also covers the NM Planetarium, as well as those in the regions: Vigan, Kiangan, Kabayan, Angono-Binangonan Pteroglyphs, Tabaco, Bohol, Butuan and Jolo (Sulu). We visited the National Art Gallery

So if you haven't visited it yet, or you just have some free time to kill, better do it to appreciate the art and beauty of the Philippine history as seen through the NM's exhibits. Luckily, in line with this auspicious month for the Philippines, they also opened the Manlilikha ng Bayan (National Living Treasures) and "Remembering Joya" (which we absolutely loved!) exhibitions this month!

In transit.
We commuted from Cavite. It was a pretty quick commute, 1-2 hours tops.

Arriving at the Museum: It was a typical day, but there were many people, mostly students, because of their promo. I have high expectations for this is the first time I am visiting the site -- and  thinking that this big building houses so much memento of the Philippine history just about blows my mind. It is a really freaky, but amazing thing if you think about it.

Beyond this door lies the Philippines' Treasures!
This post will contain so many pictures, so beware. :D More of this after the jump! 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

#WeekendChronicles: Buku Buku Kafe

T'was a lazy Saturday afternoon and I was planning to convert our little bedroom corner into an office area but then electricity suddenly went off and boom - I've nowhere to go. Good thing I remembered this book cafe relatively near our place that I've been meaning to try since I saw it in blogs. So naturally, I picked up my things, got my sister to accompany me, and the next thing I know, we are positioning ourselves in this cute cafe.

Buku Buku Kafe is a book cafe located at The District Imus. This is such a pretty big deal for me because I've been looking for book cafes in the likes of those in QC and Makati here at Cavite. The thing is, most of the cafes (that serve decent to pretty good coffee) here are so mainstream. I've been craving that indie vibe, that comfy feeling. And now, we have it! Nice, nice. Now, I don't really need to go to Maginhawa or some far off place to experience authentic book cafe #feels.

More of this after the jump!


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