BLOG TOUR | The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco : Book Review + Mini Book Talk about Worldbuilding + Giveaway!

I know that it’s generally a bad idea to judge a book by its cover but when the cover for The Never Tilting World was dropped in Shealea’s blog, I knew right then and there that I had to get my hands on it the moment it was published. Lucky for me, I’ve had the incredible honor of partaking in a major perk of being an active book nerd in this little community: blog tours! That’s right, somehow I was able to get my hands on an eARC of The Never Tilting World and fangirl about it months earlier than I expected. 

Here’s an abridged version of my experience reading The Never Tilting World
breath: stolen
jaw: on the floor
heart: full
hotel: trivago (I couldn’t resist)

Continue reading “BLOG TOUR | The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco : Book Review + Mini Book Talk about Worldbuilding + Giveaway!”

New Bullet Journal, New Me (sort of)

I feel like I say this at the beginning of every personal post but this one has been a long time coming. Really. I’ve had this post in my drafts for about three(?) months now and, honestly, after several rewrites it’s not even recognizable anymore. Originally, I wanted to talk about how my recent stationery addiction was getting out of hand – I had even several anecdotes all typed up and ready to go – but although I could talk about notebooks and pens and papers all day long, I found myself just plain bored with that blog post idea.

Don’t get me wrong, my stationery addiction is still a struggle I have to deal with but, after some internal digging, there really isn’t anything interesting about it other than my clinical need to fill a void inside me. While I didn’t altogether scrap that blog post idea, I also didn’t really find myself all that motivated to see it through. But then I fell into a very specific rabbit hole in YouTube: the bullet journaling community. The number of plan-with-me’s and stationery hauls and journal flip-throughs I’ve watched over the course of a few weeks cannot possibly be healthy. Those videos, however, got me really motivated to take bullet journaling seriously.

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Sequel Sundays | The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

It’s been ages since I wrote a Sequel Sunday. I really meant to write one last month but for one reason or another I just wasn’t feeling the sequel that I had initially planned on featuring. Honestly, I still wasn’t really up to reading that book this month (what with my TBRReadathon and all) and just as I was resigned to the idea of skipping yet another month on this poor blog series, I realized something. I had read a sequel recently. Ashley Poston’s The Princess and the Fangirl was a sequel (of sorts) for Geekerella. It’s a standalone-ish book but still… it’s a second book in a series so it still counts as a sequel!

Better still, I have a lot of thoughts on this particular sequel. Most of which are, well, not positive. Interestingly, this is the first sequel that I’ve read this year that I rated below four stars. And I was looking forward to this book too. Alas.

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To Kill a Fairy Tale Retelling: Outgrowing the Source Material

One of my most disappointing reads last year was Alexandra Christo’s To Kill A Kingdom, the hyped up “dark” retelling of the Disney classic The Little Mermaid. That YA fantasy was such a let down that I felt personally betrayed. Not because Ariel was my favorite princess back in the day, mind you, but because the book was genuinely enjoyable for the first few chapters. To Kill was a gorgeous blend of fantasy and gore – the main character, Lira, literally ripped out a prince’s heart in the first chapter! It was intriguing. It was exciting. And, best of all, it was refreshing. Anti-heroes might be a dime a dozen these days but Lira was outrightly morally bad that I was convinced that her development was going to be very nuanced.

Thus, my massive disappointment was set up.

Right around chapter 10 when I was reminded in an excruciatingly cringey, convoluted, ridiculous scene that this book was indeed a Little Mermaid retelling – at that point, the book had done a good job in distracting you from its marketing ploy – I knew in my heart how wrong I was. After I finished reading To Kill a Kingdom, I considered writing a review on it but couldn’t really bring myself to put in the effort because I had no special enough feelings for it. I didn’t like it, didn’t really hate it – I just didn’t care about it. And for a whole year I put it out of my mind until one afternoon when I remembered the prince that Lira killed at chapter 1.

You see, that prince turned out to be a really good friend of the other main character/Lira’s love interest, Prince Elian. And you might think that that the simple fact that Lira killed Elian’s friend completely for shits and giggles would throw a wrench in their budding romance… well, you’d be wrong. I was extremely disturbed at how Elian still got together with his friend’s coldblooded murderer. Personally, I don’t think I’d ever even consider being friends with anyone who’d hurt a good friend of mine, regardless of how physically attractive they are. How anyone can not only forgive but also conveniently forget the killer of a good friend is just… it boggles the mind.

Having remembered that messed up factoid, I was dragged back into the story and the more I thought about it, the clearer it became to me how absolutely hopeless the book was after it announced to readers that it was (and could only ever be) a retelling. What bothered me about this book was that I actually do love retellings. In fact, one of my favorite series of all time, The Lunar Chronicles, is a retelling of several fairy tales. And even in cases where I didn’t know for sure that they were retellings, I still enjoyed them. Ella Enchanted, for instance. If you weren’t told in advance that it was a Cinderella reimagining, you wouldn’t know it until halfway through the book. 

So where did To Kill a Kingdom go wrong? I wanted to answer that question rather than just roasting the book for the entirety of this post. But in order to understand how To Kill failed as a retelling, I’m going to compare it with a retelling that didn’t, Ella Enchanted. The two are vastly different books (one is YA, the other is Middle Grade) but they are both high fantasy retellings of popular fairy tales that were adapted into Disney classics (which I suspect was the two books’ main source but we’ll get to that in a minute). 

First, an overview of the two books in question:

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Big Bad Wolf Book Haul: In Which I Tried but Failed to Control Myself

So! Apparently it’s been more than a fortnight since I last posted anything on my blog. And no, I didn’t purposely wait for two weeks so I could use the word fortnight on my opening line. I was just… really lazy. And almost worryingly absentminded. I kept meaning to brainstorm a new blog post but whenever the thought occurred to me, I’d immediately get distracted with something else. And here I was congratulating myself last month for being really active on my book blog. Didn’t realize I’d slide back to my old habits immediately after.

That being said, last week I was able to at least come up with two blog post ideas that I’ve vaguely considered for a while now. One is a personal post – a homage, really – to my love for notebooks and journaling while the other is, as of writing this, a messy rant about a certain YA fantasy book that really disappointed me last year. I fully intended on just forgetting that book for the rest of my days but its absolutely absurd ending (and implications) kept hounding me. So naturally the only way to free myself from it is to pick it apart in a detailed blog post.

While I’ve already outlined both future posts – the book rant-y one even has a messy intro – I didn’t spend enough time and energy on actually writing them so I wasn’t able to finish them by the end of last week. Now I’ve had my heart set on posting something, anything, on my blog this week so I’ve resorted to writing something that I’m confident I can churn out without too much fuss: a book haul.

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7 Reasons Why You Need to Read The Oremere Chronicles

So the War of Mist blog tour has been extended for a couple of days which means I can talk about The Oremere Chronicles even more! If I haven’t yet convinced you, dear reader, to pick up this incredible fantasy trilogy by Helen Scheuerer, I clearly haven’t talked about it enough. Although I’ve written essentially three posts discussing just how great this series is, I don’t think I ever really went into the minor details that really made the books so damn enjoyable to read.

Here’s a quick listicle on my top 7 reasons why I love the Oremere Chronicles to death and why you’re sorely missing out if you don’t read it.

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Blog Tour | Jade War by Fonda Lee: Clan War… but make it slow burn [Book Review + Fan Art]

At the beginning of this year, I picked up a book that nearly everyone on my Twitter timeline was obsessed about. Jade City fever had hit the book community towards the end of 2018 and it was difficult not to succumb to the hype when practically every reviewer that I trust swore by it. Once I started reading it, I immediately understood why.

Jade City was A RIDE so WILD that I struggled to hold on to my dear life. I had no idea where we were going but I enjoyed every moment of it. There was a magic mafia, martial arts, and family drama – Jade City has been described as The Godfather but with magic and for good reason.

When Shealea (@Shutup, Shealea and @CaffeineTours) announced that she had the honor of organizing an international blog tour of Jade City‘s sequel, Jade War, I signed up for it so fast that I barely had the time to blink. I knew that there were only limited slots and with my humble blog’s stats I didn’t really have much hope but still I had to shoot my shot.

By some stroke of luck, I got in! I returned to Janloon, said my oaths to the Pillar of No Peak once again, and experienced the absolute rollercoaster ride that was Jade War.

Continue reading “Blog Tour | Jade War by Fonda Lee: Clan War… but make it slow burn [Book Review + Fan Art]”

5 Filipino Superstitions that Shaped My Childhood

Gail Villanueva’s My Fate According to the Butterfly is about a young girl, Sab, who believes she has days left to live after seeing a black butterfly. For non-Filipino readers – especially those in the west – Sab’s belief in an otherwise baseless superstition might be a bit silly. But for Filipinos or people raised in the Philippines, being affected by superstitious beliefs isn’t as strange as one might think. I mean, as kids we’re warned about certain superstitions by our parents/relatives, grown adults who we trust and rely on. How can you not believe in a black butterfly’s death omen when your own parent tells you that this is so?

No matter how educated, rational, or skeptical you are, it’s hard shake off these superstitions without warning bells ringing in the back of your head. While my family isn’t as superstitious as others, I still believed in a lot of superstitions as a child. Here are just the top five that really affected me back then

1. Sleeping on a Bed directly facing the door leads to an early death 💀

I’m starting off this list with this one because it affects me even now. Months ago I rearranged the furniture in my room, my bed pushed to the corner opposite my bedroom door. I knew about the superstition but I really wanted to change things around my space. When my mother saw this, she was adamant that I find some other place for my bed. I halfheartedly protested but moved my bed hours later. I didn’t like dragging my stuff around my room all over again but the urgent tone of my mother’s voice reignited the cautiousness I used to have about this specific belief.

I looked it up and apparently this superstition is believed in many other cultures. Something to do with feng shui. Apparently dead bodies are typically transported out of a room feet first and to sleep in that position isn’t a good look. Quite morbid but at least there’s some basis for the belief. Sort of.

2. Dropping a fork during a meal means you’ll get a visitor soon 🍴

This one though just doesn’t make sense to me even now. I remember when I’d eat lunch with my high school friends and every time one of us accidentally drops their fork, we’d all tease them for their upcoming visitor. Now, I’m not sure if this superstition means an actual human visitor or something more supernatural but I’d always feel uneasy when I’d drop my fork. I don’t want to entertain any sort of visitor just because of a utensil, corporeal or otherwise.

While looking up the background for this superstition, I learned that dropping a fork means you’ll get a male visitor while a spoon means a female visitor. No explanation as to why. Huh.

3. Complimenting a baby too Much brings bad luck 👶

Actually, this isn’t even limited to babies. Throughout my childhood, whenever an older relative or a neighbor would compliment me and my sisters, they’d always followed it up with an explicit “pwera buyag(pwera usog in other parts of the country).

Basically, it’s believed that if you praise a baby too much, you’re essentially inviting bad luck or sickness on to the child. Sometimes it’s feared that the opposite of the compliment will happen. Like if a baby is remarked to be active and healthy, it might end up weak and sickly. You have to ward off the jinx with a good ol’ “pwera buyag!”

It’s strange because, from an outsider’s perspective, replying to a compliment with “buyag” seems like an act of modesty – and that’s actually how I understood it when I was younger – but in reality there’s an underlying danger of being struck with negative energy.

4. Sleeping With an Empty Stomach will make your Soul leave your Body in Search of food 👻

As far-fetched as the concept of buyag/usog is, this superstition, in my opinion, is far more ridiculous. Mainly because, as an irresponsible adult person in charge of her life, I’ve fallen asleep without dinner countless times and my soul has never once evacuated my body to look for sustenance. At least, not that I can remember.

However, I was constantly warned by my parents and elders to never go to sleep hungry because my soul or spirit or whatever won’t stay put otherwise. I was even warned that there’s a chance my soul will be trapped in our rice cooker and I won’t be able to wake up then. Some grown ups would go so far as cite an incident that happened to their friend or relative or someone who did this and almost couldn’t wake up. If they were telling the truth – which is doubtful – I’m pretty sure their friend or relative was probably suffering from sleep paralysis or something. No wayward souls to blame, I think.

5. Trying on a Wedding Dress When You’re not the bride means you’ll never get married 👰

A lot of Filipino superstition has to do with not tempting fate in some way. This one is a good example. Unless you’re the one getting married, you shouldn’t ever try on a wedding dress because then you’d be dooming yourself to never get married.

Similarly, trying on a graduation toga before you’re set to graduate leads to the same fate. I had a college friend try on his graduating friend’s toga and when we reminded him of the superstition, he hurriedly took it off. He tried to laugh it off but we could see actual fear in his eyes. To be fair, he was a fourth year engineering student. Best not to risk it.

There are plenty of superstitions that I’ve left out but these five are the ones that I have distinct memories of. Are any of them real? Probably not. But still, sometimes it’s better safe than sorry, right?

Blog Tour | My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva [Book Review + Author Interview!]

Of all my anticipated reads of 2019, Gail D. Villanueva’s My Fate According to the Butterfly was at the very top of the list. A story set in contemporary Philippines – in the midst of Duterte’s drug war, no less – and written by a Filipino author? I didn’t just want this middle grade book, I needed it.

Before I get to my book review and the author interview, let me just first say how important My Fate According to the Butterfly is to young Filipino readers. Not only is seeing a Filipino writer (based in the Philippines) thrive in the international publishing scene incredibly inspiring, learning about the drug war through the innocent and empathic lens of a child can really help young readers make sense of the relentless (and oftentimes violent) situation in our country.

One of the biggest hurdles drug addicts face is the constant vilification by the general public. Drug addicts are seen as “bad” people that need to be punished so the government’s mistreatment of them is justified by most people to a degree. To some, there’s almost no room for sympathy when it comes to victims of drug abuse. And this lack of compassion or empathy just keeps the terrible cycle going.

That’s why My Fate According to the Butterfly is such an important read for kids. I’d even go so far as to recommend it as required reading in schools. This book sheds some light on the realities of the drug war. It’s not as black and white as so many people want to believe. Drug addicts can recover when they are given the opportunity and the resources. Unfortunately, only a very small percentage of drug addicts even come close to rehabilitation.

But anyway, I’m already getting ahead of myself. On to the review!

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Blog Tour | War of Mist by Helen Scheuerer [Book Review + Giveaway!]

It’s no secret that The Oremere Chronicles has a special place in my heart. The first book, Heart of Mist, enchanted me with its well developed characters and riveting premise. I even wrote a Book Talk on Heart of Mist about writing with empathy – one of my favorite blog posts to date. The sequel, Reign of Mist, did not disappoint with all shocking twists and raised stakes. Check out my review of that book here.

When the third book was announced, War of Mist, I was ecstatic and terrified at the same time. One of my favorite fantasy series was coming to an end… and the blood red cover and the ominous title could only be a harbinger of inevitable heartbreak.

After essentially devouring the book in a span of three days, I was SHOOK. Did I finish War of Mist or did War of Mist finish me?

Continue reading “Blog Tour | War of Mist by Helen Scheuerer [Book Review + Giveaway!]”