Morgan Matson in PH Recap + Other Bookish Extravaganza

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This past week has been full of bookish adventures for me. Last Thursday, I met up with my blogger friends, Dianne of Oops! I Read A Book Again and Hazel of Stay Bookish.  I also got to meet Eriele of This is Not Your Book Blog and Raf of Royal Polar Bear Reads.

We were invited by Ms. Peiying of Ethos Books to hang out her and some of their authors, who were award winners apparently. Ethos Books is a small publishing house in Singapore, but their published authors are famous there apparently. Dianne, Hazel, and I got to meet award-winning writers and poets, Aaron Lee Soon Yong (Coastlands), Yong Shu Hoong (The Viewing Party), and a fellow Filipina, Annabelle Fabia- de Arroz (Get Lucky).

Ms. Peiying emailed us (us being Bookworms Unite PH organizers) early this September, inviting us if we wanted to meet up with them during the week of Manila International Book Fair. We were a little hesitant at first since we mostly blog about YA books, but we figured that it’s actually a great opportunity to meet writers and fellow bookworms!

We planned to meet at Caffe Bene inside SMX Convention Center since we wanted to check out the fair as well. I met up with Hazel a little early so we went to check out the fair first. By the time we were supposed to meet them, we had a little trouble finding them, since we really had no idea what they look like. Haha! So yeah, it was a little funny and embarrassing. When we finally met up with Dianne and joined them, they were already in the middle of coffees and gelatos but they were all very welcoming. Intimidating, yeah a little, but very welcoming nonetheless. We also got to meet Ms. Rose Sagun, another Filipina writer, who happened to share the table with us so we invited her to hang out with us too!

We talked about books (of course!), and they asked us about our blogs and how the literary scene here in the Philippines goes. They also did live readings of their poems and short stories. It was so inspiring and heartwarming to hear them perform. This was honestly the highlight of my MIBF week.

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L-R: Rose Sagun, Annabelle Fabia-de Arroz, Aaron Lee, Dianne, Hazel, Me, Peiying, and Yong Shu Hoong. Photo from Peiying.

After meeting up with them, we invited Anette, who happened to be in the cafe as well, to hang out with us while checking out books in the fair. I was going to buy This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab but I couldn’t find any so I just bought Vicious instead. I also got The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West.

Morgan Matson Book Signing Event

Come Saturday, I went to line up early for the Glorietta leg of Morgan Matson’s book signing event, hosted by National Book Store. I was able to hang out with my buddy Jem, and Tomi, who attended Bookworms Unite PH last July.

Since we lined up early, we were among the first fifty which meant we could go home earlier than the usual. Jem and I met up with Hazel, and JM of Book Freak Revelations. I also got to meet Allie of A Literary Wanderer. We hung out while the three of them got lunch, and we all basically talked about Nicola Yoon’s books, and the upcoming movie, Everything, Everything. Since JM and I manage the account Nicola Yoon PH on Twitter, we kept on pushing Jem and Allie to read her books (which is a success since Jem got to finish Everything, Everything earlier this week).

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After a few hours, Morgan finally arrived at the venue, and of course we greeted her with enthusiastic screams. The Q&A session started immediately, and here are some of her answers to the questions:

  • Hamilton is her favorite musical. She mentioned a Tennessee Williams work, when asked about her favorite play. But I wasn’t able to catch it. It wasn’t Loss of a Teardrop Diamond though, which is the only one I know.
  • She makes playlists as a pre-writing ritual. Literally just make, because she ends up distracted when she tries to listen to the playlist while writing.
  • Her literary heroes are Sarah Dessen and John Green.
  • Writing the love interests is her favorite part of writing.
  • When asked about which songs reminds her of the Philippines, she promised to make a playlist about the whole PH experience. She gave us permission to bother her three days after, if she hasn’t posted it. But yeah, I guess she’s still making it haha!
  • She’d bring Jenny Han’s, Rainbow Rowell’s or Leigh Bardugo’s books, to read while traveling.
  • If there’s one thing at the top of her bucketlist, it’s skydiving.
  • When asked where she want to go in a roadtrip, she answered Australia, and a trip from America across Canada.
  • Her favorite line from her books is “If galaxies could change, so could I.” A line from The Unexpected Everything.
  • When asked which actors she was trying to picture her characters with, she said she doesn’t really try to imagine actors as her characters, but gave Emma Stone for Amy back when she was still writing it.
  • She also gave us a little idea for her upcoming book! It’s about a girl named Charlie (or possibly Charley haha), who has a big family and she’s the youngest of five. It takes place in a span three days, in Spring Break, with her sister getting married. (SO OBVIOUSLY I’M EXCITED FOR THIS ONE).
  • Read a lot and write a lot,” she said as an advice for aspiring writers.
  • “Sunshine, joy, and smile.” Three words that reminds her of the Philippines, except mangoes of course!
  • Her full name is Morgan Katherine Finn Matson, where her pseudonym Katie Finn comes from.

After the Q&A and open forum, the signing proper started. When I got my turn, I was so excited to talk to her. Apparently, Morgan’s a big fan of Bastille, who happens to be my favorite band, so I chatted to her about them, while also complimenting her good taste in music. I asked her if she heard Bastille’s new songs, and she said her favorite was Good Grief. She asked me whether I know which movie the quote “If you want be a party animal, you have to learn to live in the jungle.”  came from. I didn’t know until earlier this week (it’s from a 1985 film called Weird Science btw) but I told her that Dan (vocalist of Bastille) tagged the actress who said that line on Twitter one time.

 

We took a picture after she signed my books, and since I was super excited and nervous to meet her, I almost forgot to give her my postcards and letter. Good thing she asked me if the envelope containing my postcards were supposed to be for her. That was a little bit embarrassing haha!

Morgan Matson is one of the loveliest authors I’ve ever met. She’s so animated, lively and really enthusiastic about answering our questions. I haven’t read all of her books, I’ve only read Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, but I’m planning to read all of them before this year ends!

After Jem and I got our books signed, we took photos with friends. I also got to meet Danica of The Hogsmeade Reader, Blessie of Mischievous Reads, Rechellyn of Infinite TBR List, and Bea of Confessions of A Pinay Bookaholic. Jem and I also got to meet Avy, one of the admins of Morgan Matson PH!

After the signing, Jem and I went to MIBF to check out more books, but we didn’t stay long since there’s tons of people in the venue. We did check out the new Fully Booked branch at Conrad Hotel. We also checked out Booksale, where I found a copy of Come Back To Me by Mila Gray.

Last week was one of the most eventful and unforgettable weeks I had in my entire life. And I’m glad I got to spend it with fellow bookworms! Thanks to Ethos Books and National Book Store for making my week!

Did you check out MIBF last week? Were you able to attend Morgan Matson’s signing?

inah

My Weekend with Books and Magnemites

Aaaaah, I don’t really know how to start this. It’s been so long since I’ve written anything book-related. (Sorry Inah 😢😅😂) I think I’m a little bit rusty, but I guess I really want to share with you my first ever Manila International Book Fair experience!

As we all know, every September, a massive book fair, participated by a good number of publishing houses and bookstores, is held in Manila… thus the name. (duh Jem, duh 😂)

This is doubtlessly very exciting, since you can buy almost every kind of literature there is, books, magazines, comics, and so much more, plus most of them are DISCOUNTED! 😍

So ever since I’ve found out about it, I’ve been wanting to attend, but alas, there were just so many things that get in my way. At first, I was too young to go, then I had so many things to do,  mostly exams or papers, maybe some org matters in school. 😢

But finally, this year everything fell into place. Luckily, I didn’t have work last Friday because of Bañamos, which is Los Baños’ Founding Anniversary, so I went home as early as I could, and went straight to MIBF, I brought my Mom with me because she too had never been there before.

I had double motivation to go because aside from my long standing infatuation with books, I’ve also developed a slight addiction with Pokemon Go, and have you seen the Pokestops in MOA? See:

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They’re so many! But to be honest, everything I’ve caught in MOA were magnemites! Argh!

And it seems that I hadn’t been appeased by going to the MIBF once, because the next day, after Morgan Matson’s signing, I immediately returned to SMX, this time with Inah in tow.

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Here’s a picture of us being our usual cute self in front of an MIBF signage. Hehehe

Anyway, let me just share a few of my observations regarding this year’s MIBF:

 THERE. ARE. SO. MANY. PEOPLE. (Especially during the weekends)

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Here’s a picture from my friend Eriele (@Sinworth in Twitter) captured last Thursday, and I think this is only 1/3rd of the people that was there last Saturday!

I’m really sad and glad at the same time because of this. I’m really happy because this just shows that many Filipinos still loves reading. Even my mom was surprised, she said, “I wasn’t aware that these many people still read these days!”

I’m a little bit selfishly sad because you have  whole lot more competition in finding the books you want, no worries though because there are still plenty of books to choose from.

 National Bookstore and Fullybooked looked just like regular bookstores, but just inside a fair.

I mean, they had the largest spaces in the fair, as large as actual book stores, possibly larger, and their set-up is just like one. They had plenty of nice shelves and stands, that are full of books, pens, journals and everything else. I think I’m not making sense with this one. Ha ha ha!

Aside from the Fiction and Non-Fiction they sell in NBS and Fullybooked, you could actually categorize the types of books that other stalls sell in fair.

Some of the most prominent ones are:

A) Religious’ Books
B) Children’s Books
C) Self-Help Books
D) Academic Books (K12 and College Books)
E) Philippine History and Literature
F) Art books
G) Magazines
H) Comics

There’s a cute indie book stall near the entrance of MIBF Hall 2.

It’s actually funny because I stood for at least 5 minutes in front of the stall, maybe a few meters away so I’m not that conspicuous, trying to gather the courage to go in and have a look. I already had a few titles in mind, but I felt so shy to approach it. My mom had to pull me to the stall herself. 😂 The people inside were really kind though,so I ended up going inside and getting the books that I was looking for.

The Harry Potter stall was really hard to find!

I mean, Inah and I went round and round searching for it, but we didn’t find it! What? Do we need like a Marauder’s map just to get to it? 😂
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The whole MIBF experience was just so overwhelming! There are just so many things to see and explore that hours feel like minutes! I just went from stall to stall to stall, getting lost in books and happiness.

Okay moving on, let’s get to the fun part! Let me show you my new treasures, aka the books I bought:

 

Unexpected Everything
In this picture, I only actually just bought Unexpected Everything in the fair. The rest was given to me by my incredible and bookish Tita, Judith. Now they’re all signed!

 

Para Kay B
I’ve been wanting to read Para Kay B since it was shown as a play in UPLB last 2011. Now I finally have a copy of my own!

 

Beginner's Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions
I first found out about this when I saw Courtney Milan’s twitter thread of why it should be read, and then I heard Diane talking about it a bit, and I’m sold. I needed this. It’s about a Molecular Genetics graduate student/RA and her struggles in finding love. I mean this is practically my life?? I can already see myself nodding and relating, and I haven’t even read it!

 

Dawn Lanuza's books
Inah has been talking about how she loves these books for months, and I’ve been meaning to buy copies and I was just not sure how, so when I saw them… You already know what happened. 😂

 

That’s about it for my recap! Huge thanks to my Mom and to Inah for being with me through my MIBF firsts.❤

Sorry I didn’t have much pictures of the MIBF itself because I was so overwhelmed, I wasn’t able to think about taking pictures, I lived in the moment, as they say… ha ha ha! Also, I rather like having a phone, and you can never be too cautious with that much people in there. 😂

PS. I haven’t included my feels during Morgan Matson’s signing, because that is a story for another day. 😂❤

jem

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

a-torch-against-the-nightA Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
Publication Date: August 30th 2016 by Razorbill Books
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: ★★★★
Amazon / Book Depository / National Book Store

Synopsis

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange of a review. No compensation in any form was received for the review of this book.

Oh boy! This book was a great ride! The story picks up immediately after the events of Ember, which was a relief because the first book ended in a cliffhanger.

For this book, we get three POVs, now including Helene which is really amazing because I like her equally as the main characters.  Another thing I like about the characters is that they have equal exposure, and the conflict that arises between them, against them, and the Empire brings so much depth to their character’s story arc and development. I really enjoyed Helene’s chapters and she’s one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever read.

“You are a torch against the night – if you dare to let yourself burn.”

As usual,  Tahir’s writing style is excellent and the story was gracefully executed. It’s fast paced, yet consistent and the character’s voices are distinct. I think the romance was explored more here, compared to Ember and I like it that it’s slow-burned, which of course led me to feeling warm and fuzzy at times. I like the little cute banter Laia and Elias have sometimes, but at the same time I enjoy Helene having feelings towards Elias too, which leaves her character in such complex situation, and in a good way, it’s cool to see it unfold.

I remember in the first book, I had a little problem with the world-building but I think I got settled more because of this book, since I’m already familiar with the setting of the book. Basically, I can imagine them clearly now.

“So long as you fight the darkness, you stand in the light.”

Overall, I love this book more than I did Ember and it’s such a joy to see the writing and the story elevate more. I think I just had a little problem with Laia’s character, like I felt she got a little too naive at times, which is okay for a character but I’d say she needs to be better. I’m sort of guessing that I’m liking Helene’s character compared to her, but I think that’s because Helene’s story got explored further in this. Anyway, this is a solid sequel and I cannot wait to read the next ones!

inah

For This Life Only by Stacey Kade

for-this-life-onlyFor This Life Only by Stacey Kade
Publication Date: August 30th 2016 by Simon & Schuster BFYR
Source: ARC from Publisher via Netgalley
Rating: ★★★★★
Amazon / Book Depository

Synopsis

A young man struggles to move forward after the death of his twin brother in this gripping, coming-of-age tale about loss, redemption, love, and the moment you begin to see the world differently.

Three minutes.

Jacob Palmer died for three life-changing minutes.

And when he woke up, nothing was the same. Elijah, his twin brother, is dead, and his family is broken. Jace’s planned future is crushed, along with his pitching arm. Everyone keeps telling him that Eli’s in a better place, but Jace isn’t so sure. Because in those three minutes, there was nothing.

Overwhelmed by guilt and doubt, Jace struggles to adjust to this new version of the world, one without his brother, one without the certainties he once relied on. And then Thera comes into his life.

She’s the last girl he should be turning to for help.

But she’s also the first person to truly see him.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange of a review. No compensation in any form was received for the review of this book.

I really enjoyed this book. I was having quite the long day inside the lab, when I decided to pick this book up so I was able to read it in one sitting, while doing some lab works. And it was more than enough to keep the boredom away.

This book’s portrayal of grief is so amazing, I could feel every emotion. Jace and Eli are twins, who got into an accident, which got Eli dead. Jace’s life changed from that point, and he started to question everything in his life, especially things about his brother.

“Do you think there’s a difference between doing the right thing that definitely hurts one person and doing the right thing that might hurt a lot of people?”

I really like the voice of Jace in the story. It’s raw and full of emotions, which makes it very realistic for someone who just lost his other half. I love his relationship with Eli and their little sister, Sarah. He also has a great character development and I really enjoyed seeing his character grow. He used to be with the jocks, being sporty and all but that changed after the accident, which led him to meet Thera.

I also like Thera’s character. She’s very interesting and I enjoyed her story as well. It’s quite nice to read a story that doesn’t focus much on the romance, although I have to admit that the chemistry between Thera and Jace is really good.

“There’s no right way to miss someone. It’s a hole on the inside. You can’t fix that. You just live through it until one day the edges of the hole aren’t so sharp.”

Friendships in this book was portrayed really good too. Even with Jace falling out with some of his friends, it’s quite reassuring that he was able to reconcile with them. There was also a heavy religious theme surrounding this book, which was depicted pretty well and it added depth to the story and to Jace’s character, and his family relationship.

This was my first Stacey Kade book and I’m really impressed with her writing style. Overall, this book is one of the best books I’ve read this year and I can’t wait to read more from her.

inah