(January +) February 2018 || A lengthy life update and a number of realizations

Hello, lovely people!

I’m here to share the events of February and because I failed to post a wrap-up last month, bits of January’s. I know it’s a long read, but stay with me, pretty please? ❤

– Life Updates –

January: Travels, yasss!

We’re two months into 2018, and lots of things have already happened I can barely keep up. Honestly, I don’t remember much about what happened last January so let’s see how this post turns out.

Realization #1: Don’t take too long to write wrap-up posts, because, by the time you’re going to write them, you’ve most probably forgotten what you’re going to write.

So here. Last January my family spent 3 days and 2 nights in Sagada! For those who don’t know, Sagada is a municipality in the Mountain Province known for its hanging coffins, beautiful caves, waterfalls, and very lovely sunrise viewpoint! If you’ve watched the film That Thing Called Tadhana (Angelica Panganiban + JM De Guzman), some scenes were shot in Sagada!

On the first day, we dropped by the Banaue and Bayyo rice terraces and they’re much more beautiful than they are at the back of the old 1000-peso bill. Hehe. My pictures don’t do justice at all. In the afternoon, we went spelunking inside the Sumaguing Cave. It wasn’t my first time inside a cave but I was amazed by the limestone formations inside the cave. It was a good thing that we went inside a little bit earlier than planned because, by the time we were going back up, the number of people was at least doubled from when we were on the way down. You don’t want to get stuck in a cave with a lot of foot traffic!

The next day, we wake up very very early to witness the sunrise at Kiltepan viewpoint! It was truly beautiful and the accompanying sea of clouds made it even more majestic! Please, I need more views like this in my life.

We were also supposed to trek to the Bumod-ok Waterfalls but we were with three of my grandmas and we were advised against it because the trek may tire them too much. Instead, we just skipped to the Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins tour. As the name suggests, when you’re at a certain height in the Echo Valley, everything you scream will be echoed back to you! (Hey, I shouted “I love you” and the void loved me back. Hahaha.) Just listen closely to your guide because the place is sacred to the locals and you don’t want to ruin the serenity of the place. I don’t know why they suggested this because it seems to me there are a thousand steps on the stairs through the valley all the way down to the coffins. Our guide then proceeded to explain the tradition and the accompanying rituals behind the hanging coffins.

On the third and last day, we dropped by the Strawberry Farm in Benguet before finally going home. It’s nice to see those lovely little strawberries on the fields! We just bought pre-packed 1-kilo boxes just outside the farm, though, because it’s much pricier if we pick them personally. But hey, it’s okay because I got to bring home three (three!) boxes! ❤ Okay, now I’m craving for strawberries, please save me.

Before January ended, I also spent a day at the Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo! It was my second time going there, the first being a field trip when I was a junior in college – and it’s still as beautiful as it was back then! The museum is so huge I think we spent around four hours exploring its galleries! I won’t talk much about the visit since this post is getting longer by the minute, but here are pictures!

There is also a cafe inside the museum grounds – the mango cheesecake is to die for!

Realization #2: Aside from potentially forgetting things to write about, I should avoid skipping monthly wrap-ups because the next one may result in a veeeeeeery looooooong post.

I should write a separate blog post for my travels and adventures next time, what do you think?

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February: All the book sales!!!

The highlight of my February would probably be the National Book Store Book Binge Bazaar and the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale. There are a lot of book sales this February, and there are actually some still ongoing this March but I decided to go for reasons I will briefly discuss below.

Both events were held in the Philippines for the first time and I went on the first day both times. I originally planned to write separate posts for these two events but I fail at being a decent blogger most of the time so here’s a very short recap of my experience.

Because we missed the 9AM P2P bus to Megamall, the Book Binge Bazaar had already opened 20 minutes before we got there. One of the titles I was looking for (Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer) cannot be seen anywhere because it has already landed at the hands of earlier bookworms and some *gasps* book hoarders. Well, we can’t blame them because the Book Binge Bazaar has a great selection of recent titles and most of them are sold for P175. That goes for hardbound books as well, and we know that hardbound prices range from P500-P800 here in the Philippines. A great deal, really! I’d rant about resellers selling books they got here for 2 to 3 times the price, but what’s the point now?

I’ll just share this very unfortunate snippet of my day


Me: *notices a guy holding the Magnus Chase book, and on the verge of putting it back on the table*
Me: *approaches the guy*
Guy 1: *puts the book the table*
Me: *touches the book with my index finger* Hey, are you still gonna get thi–
Guy 2: *grabs the book without asking*
Guy 1: *looks at me and points guy who got the book with an apologetic smile*

Okay, I don’t know if he got there first but I at least I asked?? Hahaha.

The only thing I probably didn’t like about the Book Binge Bazaar is how the books are set on the tables with no particular arrangement. It was exciting to hunt for familiar book spines at first but then it eventually became eye-straining. Also, I was looking forward to the Anvil books but they pulled them out on the first day because the discounts weren’t coded into their system.

But it’s okay, I got three titles that may not be on my to-buy list that day but are in my eternal want-to-read list. (See my book haul below!)

I also went to the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale at the World Trade Center on their first day! I learned my lesson so I arrived an hour earlier than the opening but boy, the queue is already long when I got there!

At exactly 9AM they opened the gates and I immediately went to the Young Adult section. Sure, there’s where most of the crowd is, but there’s also where most of the sought-after titles are. Since BBW is mostly selling remaindered books, the number of recent YA titles is little to none, but it’s still fun to hunt for books, especially if you’re looking for new authors to read.

It’s not that hard to look for books as well because same titles are stacked together; although books from the same series may not be on the same table. But it’s okay because if you’re looking for a particular book, the staff there would gladly help you the best they could. Also, like in the Book Binge Bazaar, it’s perfectly fine to ask other buyers where they got a certain book in their book pile!

I enjoyed the book hunting too much that I got home with five of the Gallagher books, (all from different tables of the YA section), a crime thriller I haven’t heard of before, and a book I wasn’t at all intended on buying. Here’s the story


Me: *sees a guy holding a copy of Hotel Valhalla*
Me: *in hopes that maybe they got Magnus Chase where that came from* Hey, kuya, where did you get that?
Guy: Uhm, actually, it’s yours if you want it. *hands the book to me*
Me: *doesn’t really want the book but gets it anyway*

So I guess that’s the universe telling me that we can’t have the things we want but sometimes we’re handed the best possible related thing, which, in this case, is the companion book.

By the time I got out of the WTC, I was already tired from navigating through the tables and I was so ready for lunch. Hahaha. I also watched Black Panther after so it was a good day!

I was lucky I got there on the first day. Based on the stories of other bookworms who went on the latter days, some books are damaged because other buyers don’t handle them properly! And the stack of books just became a huge mountain of books, at some point, I think. It is a 24-hour book sale so the staff won’t have enough time to arrange them properly before the next wave of bookworms.

Overall, I liked the Book Binge Bazaar for its title selections and cheaper prices, and I liked the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale for its setup (at least on the first day!) and because I got to discover new authors and titles!

National Book Store has been dropping hints of the next Book Binge Bazaar happening soon! I’m excited but not too soon, please. Hehe.

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February: Blogging!!

I was also lucky enough to be part of two (two!) blog tours last month. I am grateful because if not for these two, I would not have anything new posted on the blog for February.

The first is the blog tour for Start Here, which is an LGBT romance anthology from #romanceclass. Books with predominantly queer characters are new to me, and it’s my first time reading stories from all these authors but this did not stop me from loving this book very much! Read my 4-star review here.

Next is the #EsmePH blog tour hosted by Shealea @ That Bookshelf Bitch! Esme’s Wish is such an enjoyable read you’ll be too immersed (HAHA) in its story and the magical world while reading. Read Shealea’s 6 reasons to add Esme’s Wish to your shelf and my review here.

I also organized my very first giveaway last month! But it’s only on Twitter, so I hope that counts? The prize was one of my favorite Filipino reads – the first three books of the Janus Silang series. You might have seen me fangirling over it a number of times, especially during that one time when I watched a play adaptation of it. I just love it so much that I want more people to read it, and it’s hard to find even in some the local bookstores here.

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– Books read and reviewed –

Sanctum by Madeleine Roux || ⭐⭐
Heart of Mist by Helen Scheuerer || ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Librong Itim Vol. 2, an anthology || ⭐⭐⭐
Ghost of a Feeling by Celestine Trinidad || ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland || ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster || ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Start Here: Short Stories of First Encounters, a #romanceclass anthology || ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’ve read six books so far, and most of them are 4- and 5-star reads!! How great is that? And now I realized that I haven’t posted any reviews this year aside from the two that I wrote for their blog tours. I have to catch up on reviews!!

Realization #3: I’m having a hard time writing full book reviews for every book I’ve read (I admire those of you who do!) but I still feel like I have to say at least something about them!

In relation to the third realization, I’m thinking about writing mini reviews instead and posting them in batches. Or maybe I could try this awesome idea from Karina @ Afire Pages: 100 Thoughts While Reading!

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– On the blog –

Including the blog tour reviews, here are my posts this year:

📝 2017 was a rollercoaster and I’m planning to make 2018 better!
📝 2017 Spillovers: Books on top of my 2018 TBR
📝 Cover Reveal: Deception so Dark by Clara Kensie
📝 The Friday 56 + Book Beginnings: Heart of Mist
📝 You definitely NEED TO READ this one || Need to Know by Karen Cleveland
📝 Start Here || The romance anthology I never knew I needed
📝 [GIVEAWAY] Esme’s Wish || A great adventure set in a beautiful, magical world

Honestly, I’ve been thinking a lot about quitting blogging lately because of the (self-inflicted) pressure of posting reviews and feeling guilty whenever I fail to find time to write stuff for the blog. I mean, for the past two years I’ve been blogging, I am probably inactive for more months than I’ve been active, bad, bad, me. But this post (Why It’s Okay to Leave our Book Blogger Super Hero Costume in the Wardrobe!) by Meggy made me reconsider things again.

Realization #4: It’s okay to be away for a while and to feel guilty about it sometimes but at the end of the day, blogging is still your hobby and you should remember why you started in the first place.

AKA Stop pressuring yourself, Cara! You just enjoy reading and writing about books whenever you can and spread the book love!!

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– Book haul! –

Five days into February and I already predicted that a huge part of my month’s expenses will be on books. It’s like I saw the future!

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From the National Book Store’s Book Binge Bazaar: On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, and Slasher Girls & Monster Boys.

From the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Kill You Twice by Chelsea Cain, For Magnus Chase: Hotel Valhalla, Guide to the Norse Worlds by Rick Riordan, and the Gallagher Girls series (except the 5th book) by Ally Carter!

I also bought two Filipino anthologies from an online bookstore, Stan’s Book Delivery Service: Dadaanin and Fast Food Stories. Dadaanin interested me because I discovered one of my officemates has his story included there. The book is comprised of 100 stories, all of them having only a hundred words.

romanceclass

A number of  #romanceclass e-books were also on sale last month so I took advantage of it!! I got the following: Feels Like Summer by Six De Los Reyes, Songs of Our Breakup, Songs to Get Over You, and Songs to Make You Stay by Jay E. Tria, Cover (Story) Girl by Chris Mariano, All’s Fair in Blog and War by Chrissie Peria, Plain Vanilla by Ines Bautista-Yao, and Keep the Faith by Ana Tejano.

See what I meant when I said a ‘huge part of my expenses’? I wasn’t at all kidding. This is probably the most number of books I bought in a month, September (MIBF) included. HAHAHA. HAHA. HA. Now my wallet’s crying.

Realization #5: I have too many unread books. Well, probably not as many as most of you have but enough to make me think about my buying habits. Hahaha.

Due to this fifth realization, I decided to put myself on a book buying ban! I’m writing a separate post about that for tracking and self-accountability, so stay tuned, I guess??

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– Goal check! –

To keep myself in check, I’ll dedicate a part of my monthly wrap-up for checking my blogging and reading goals this year! Here it goes:

⭐ Read 36 books. 6/36. I’m still on track according to Goodreads.

⭐ Read 10 books by Filipino authors. 2/10. Three, actually.  But I’m only counting two since one falls into another category.

⭐ Read 5 books that are 2018 releases. 1/5!

⭐ Read 5 books from authors I’ve never read before. 2/5!

I’m also keeping track of my progress on this page if you’re interested to see the specific books I’ve read!

⭐ Reach 300 blog followers. I’m already at 200! Huhuhu thank you very much, dear followers! I love you all!

⭐ Host 2 giveaways. My Twitter giveaway (does that count?) just concluded this March 1st! At least one more to go! I’m planning to make the next one international but I’m still thinking about the details~ AHHH I’m excited!!

⭐ Launch a passion project. This project is not formalized yet, I’ve been researching about books lately to make sure that this is attainable. But I’ll get to it… someday later this year!!

⭐ Have a blog makeover! HAHAHA Did you guys notice MY BLOG NAME CHANGED??? I want to change the overall blog look too, but I’m still struggling with creating graphics and such so the theme change will be a little bit delayed. (It’s fine Cara, take your time. But please be done before the year ends, okay?)

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– March plans –

Realization #6: I’m not really interacting with other bloggers much.

I realized that I haven’t been reading and commenting on other blogs as much as I’m creating my own content (which I’m miserably failing at anyway). During my first few months of blogging, I was very active in reading other blogs and that was great because I get to meet new people – and hopefully make friends with them.

I’ve been on and off the blogosphere too much that I often forget how important it is to interact with other bloggers. So this March, I plan to:

⭐ Visit 20 new blogs! Blogs that I’m not following yet and haven’t visited before.

⭐ Be sure to reply to comments on my blog and to comment on other people’s post as well. I don’t have specific numbers in mind, but I’ll try my best!!

This might be quite easy with all the blog follow trains on Twitter, but let’s see! I’m pretty excited to discover new blogs and meet new people!

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Wow, that was a lot! Thank you for reading ’til the very end! I hope you don’t get tired of reading posts from me. Have you gone on a book-buying ban before? How did it turn out for you? Tell me about it in the comments! Also, I’ll be doing a lot of blog-hopping this month so you can drop your links in the comments if you want!

 

cara

– GOODREADS – TWITTER – TUMBLR –

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