When Authors Reply

Chachic Fernandez once said... well, tweeted...

I think every book blogger friend that I know gets a thrill when authors respond to their tweets and/or book reviews. I mean, who doesn't? As I just started on my other blog, I wonder how would the people of whose works I review would feel. Then again, I hardly care. I still practice some measure of restraint though because I don't want to deal with this kind of drama. Seriously.

Of all the authors that I follow on Twitter, perhaps the most fan responsive is Michelle Zink (@MichelleZink). I've had a couple of occasions wherein I would tweet her about my reading progress for the Prophecy of the Sisters series and she replies as much as she can.  Since then, she is on my "must-read, must-buy" list and I'm so excited to grab a copy of A Temptation of Angels this March. I'm quite sure, like the Prophecy of the Sisters, I would have a hard time putting it down.  She is honestly that good.

As to the authors I've met in person -- like Lauren Kate, Samantha Sotto and Alexander Yates -- I haven't encountered a single one who's not fan responsive as well as level-headed when dealing with not-so-pleasant reviews about their books. The latter is not an easy feat if you consider the drama I just linked a few sentences ago. For that, I salute them.

Most recently, I have witnessed how YA authors are generally responsive and enthusiastic with each other and their fans.  Last January 23, 2012 (22 in the US), the ALA Youth Media Awards -- Libba Bray calls it as "the Oscars for books" -- was held in Dallas, Texas. Tweets and re-tweets of congratulations and thank-yous from one YA author to another and to their fans were so fun to see on my feed; it felt like you're part of their conversation even if you're on the other side of the world. It also shows how closely knit and mutually supportive they are. The winners' list is quite impressive and I saw a couple of authors that I'm following won awards, which prompted me to congratulate them without any expectations. Imagine my surprise when I saw this:

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Why, you're welcome, Ms. Morgenstern! It's an honor to hear from you. Cheers!

2012 is starting out nicely.  Here's wishing more fun encounters with authors here and overseas.

Nothing But Reviews

After months of not knowing when my other blog would go up, I have finally managed to publish my first review post today.  Woohoo!  Thank goodness for long weekends. :D

I know you'd probably be wondering what will happen to this blog and to my other one in Tumblr. Well, I did say at some point that managing 2-3 blogs may be challenging... but, if anything, what would make each blog succeed depends largely on the material. I can say that all my 3 blogs feature unique posts thus I think I'm going to be fine. However, with this, comes the realization that I'm going to say hello to some more sleepless nights because if I do intend to keep all 3 blogs running, thinking about new material will keep me pre-occupied.

While I still have a lot to do with my new blog, I'm happy to join a gazillion other bloggers who have chosen WordPress. If you'd like to check out my new blog, which will feature mostly reviews, click here.

P.S.  As I was about to finish this post, I noticed that two bloggers liked my first review.  How's that for some encouragement? Nice indeed! :)

Pop Goes My Brain

What I love the most about my current profession is how learning heavily figures in it.  While majority of my time is spent facilitating the learning of other people, it feels good to learn new things as well.  And that's saying a lot since attending courses is often pretty rare for me.  I woe at the irony of it.  My last formal training was almost a year and a half ago which I wrote about here.

I went through a new training at the start of this year; something specific to my current company.  It was a huge eye-opener in a lot of ways.  I appreciated my role more and I realized that we needed to go back to basics.  There were keys tasks that are already ignored and mindsets that needed to be changed. In the end -- where I found myself drowning my exhaustion with several cans of Coke Zero, no longer caring about adding more pounds to what I gained from all the food I ate -- it made me wonder why people have succumbed to the pattern I came to experience. I knew my work was cut out for me when I signed the contract but I didn't realize that it would require a whole box of surgical gloves.  I guess it's time to stretch the latex.

Your Love Is My Turning Page

It's been a while since I made a post about a song I liked.  The last one was about Madonna's Take A Bow.   While I do have plans to feature music that I rave about on my still-in-production review blog, I couldn't resist writing a post about this one.  The song is so compellingly beautiful that you find yourself wishing you're the one for whom it is being dedicated to. Well, at least, I knew I did.

Turning Page by Sleeping At Last is included in the original motion picture soundtrack of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1.  While it wasn't launched with the same fanfare as It Will Rain by Bruno Mars or A Thousand Years by Christina Perri, the song became memorable because of a particular scene in the movie (which I'm not telling for spoiler reasons).  It was short when I heard it for the first time (typical for a song used in a scene) but it was perhaps one of the most notable tracks among the movies I watched last year.  The song catches you with its arrangement: the piano sounds achingly wonderful and the lyrics reads like an ode to true love.

About a month ago, Sleeping At Last shared a live performance of the song. Like fine wine, it just got better.  Here's a video of the live performance and the full lyrics below.  Hope you enjoy it. Happy weekend!

Turning Page by Sleeping At Last

I've waited a hundred years
But I'd wait a million more for you
Nothing prepared me for the privilege of being yours would do

If I had only felt the warmth within your touch
If I had only seen how you smile when you blush
Or how you curl your lip when you concentrate enough
I would have known what I was living for all along
What I've been living for

Your love is my turning page
Only the sweetest words remain
Every kiss is a cursive line
Every touch is a redefining phrase

I surrender who I've been for who you are
For nothing makes me stronger than your fragile heart
If I had only felt how it feels to be yours
Well, I would have known what I've been living for all along
What I've been living for

Though we're tethered to the story we must tell
When I saw you
Well, I knew we'd tell it well
With a whisper, we will tame the vicious seas
Like a feather bringing kingdoms to their knees

My Life In 2011 Through The Songs I Listened To

Image Credit: ~Juu97 via deviantART
I guess by this time you'll know that I'm a girl with many hobbies/interests: taking photographs, watching movies (and even TV series although I somewhat neglected that lately), reading books among others.  Listening to music is another hobby/interest that keeps me pre-occupied and something that I cannot live without.

My love for music started since I was a baby, if I were to believe my mother's story.  While we were by no means musically-inclined, both my parents were your typical audiophiles: they listened to the radio, liked certain songs and often found themselves singing along with it.  I remember growing up in a household that played a lot of 50s, 60s & 70s pop music.  The first song I memorized was If I Should Love Again by Barry Manilow.

Since then, music defined my life in so many ways.  It may surprise some but I used to be such an introvert and back then, music was my only outlet for my joys and pains.  I would spend hard-saved lunch money on song books and sit by the radio just to hear my favorite song play.  The first gadget that I bought when I was working was a portable CD player.  Technology and the Internet helped shaped how I listen to songs lately as it allowed for more variety.  In fact, when I purchased my first mobile phone, its music feature was a huge factor.  While I still don't have an iPod to this day, my current mobile phone suffices my need to play music whenever and wherever I go.  As I'm writing this, I'm listening to my latest downloaded track.

When I looked at my mobile phone playlist, I added at total of 78 new songs this year: most of which I discovered through movie and TV soundtracks.  There were returning faves and new artists.  And a good number of them were played at least 20 times (or until I get tired).  I won't feature all 78 tracks -- that will be such a lengthy post -- but I will feature My Top 5 Most Played Songs and why I never got tired of them:

Just A Kiss by Lady Antebellum

Just a shot in the dark that you just might
Be the one I've been waiting for my whole life
So baby I'm alright, with a kiss goodnight

From the moment I heard those lyrics, I was gone. Literally.  I remembered moments when I cried while listening to it.  The arrangement was great. Perhaps, this song solidified how much I loved the band since the release of their other notable single, Need You Now.

Panic Switch by Silversun Pickups

If I go anywhere you'd want me to go,
How will I know if you'll still follow?

The trailer for Sucker Punch was perhaps one of my most watched in 2010.  When I caught wind of this song's beat, I googled my way to finding and listening to the whole song.  I wasn't disappointed.  If I'm throwing myself into mindless but quick encoding or designing a PowerPoint presentation, this song would perhaps be on repeat alongside Clocks by Coldplay.

Future Starts Slow by The Kills

There's a time for the second best
And there's a time when the feeling's gone
But it's hard to be hard, I guess
When you're shaking like a dog

Since I discovered Sour Cherry on Gossip Girl, this duo has been on my music must-have list. I'm just annoyed that the only CD available in the market is Midnight Bloom; I still have to get my hands on their first two albums: Keep On Your Mean Side and No Wow. And with the release of their latest album, Blood Pressures, I'm getting frustrated. Come on record bars, stock those darn CDs please.

Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera

Maybe it's hard
When you feel like you're broken and scarred
Nothing feels right
But when you're with me
I make you believe
That I've got the key

That whistling sound at the start is unmistakable.  It's like a secret code that's captures your full attention and makes you suddenly tap your feet to its beat.  And for less than four minutes, you entertain the notion that maybe you do have Mick's moves.  Now that's how a song becomes memorable and, if you're a fan, it makes you happy that Maroon 5 hasn't lost its thunder.

Rolling In The Deep by Adele

See how I'll leave with every piece of you
Don't underestimate the things that I will do
There's a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch and it's bringing me out the dark

Perhaps every local singer I know, good or bad, covered this song in every conceivable entertainment show since it was released.  Word of advise: Stop it.  Not only are you ruining the song, but you're equally destroying your street cred.  Leave it to be sung by Adele.  It was meant to be that way.  Enough said.

I hope you enjoyed all of my recap posts and I'm looking forward to more of the good stuff this 2012.  Cheers! :D

My Life In 2011 Through The Books I Read & Bought

I did say in an earlier post that if get inspired, I'll make another blog.  And so here it is.  Luckily, it's not as taxing to make as my earlier post.  However, in its own way, it did tax me... or my wallet.

I have a confession to make: I am a book hoarder.  If I were to gauge by the number of books that I just sorted and cleaned up yesterday, they are a lot for my room to fit in.  My book blogger friends -- you know who you are -- would argue that they're still by no means the same volume as theirs, to which I agree.  As I'm surveying my room, I'm counting five plastic crates... Five. Plastic. Crates! And I remember seeing more than a handful of stray ones in our living room. Oh dear.

I remembered in 2010, I gave myself a goal: not to buy a lot of books because of my space dilemma.  I made a list, which I kept, followed and succeed. So I thought 2011 would be a cinch. I knew this year would really put a dent in my pocket but I wanted to keep myself in check. So I made a list.  I kept it.  Unfortunately, I didn't follow it.  In fact, I exceeded and got a total of 35 books (3 of which were gifts by the way)!  Jeez, it sounds like I rebounded from rehab.  Hahaha. Here's a snapshot of the books I owned (bought or given) in 2011 as seen in my Goodreads account:

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2011 marks the year wherein I've read the most number of books since I got caught in the corporate jungle.  My day job hardly affords me any time to read so finishing any non-work related book is quite an achievement.  I can still remember my 2006 dry spell and I don't want that to happen again.  I gave myself a 15-book reading challenge at the start of 2011.  My total read books: 20!  Woohoo.  I am so proud of myself.  And I thought that was impossible since I switched jobs.  Thank goodness for long commute rides.   Here's a snapshot of the books I read as seen in my Goodreads account:

(click to see the above image in full)

In some ways, I found all this to be a good thing because I was introduced to a whole lot of authors and my reading palate became more diverse. 2011 also became the year where I met more authors and got my books signed; I loved seeing one again (Hello Lauren Kate!) and meeting two new authors who were such great individuals, very enthusiastic about their work (Hello Samantha Sotto & Alexander Yates!).  I followed more authors this year on Twitter (Hello John Green, Gayle Forman, Scott Westerfeld, Erin Morgenstern and Laini Taylor!) and listed more books on my Goodreads wishlist.

Suffice to say, my love for reading is back in full force and I have no intentions of stopping any time soon.  It helps that I'm actively part of a club with a few friends who meet regularly to discuss and recommend books.  So I guess my target of 20 books for 2012 would be a cinch?  I truly hope.  And about my space problem? I'm thinking about donating, if not re-selling, some of my books.  I'm thankful for my Kindle for PC app but since I can't bring Sydney while I commute, getting a Kindle soon is becoming a priority.

My Life In 2011 Through The Movies I Watched

Happy New Year friends! Hope the smog hasn't gotten to you as much as I did. I've been in my room for perhaps the whole day and I'm not exactly looking forward to going to work tomorrow (because it's too soon).  To distract me, I prepared this 2011 recap post.  You may remember that I made a similar one last year.  I liked doing it so much then that I want it to be a regular thing.  This year though, I plan to amp it up by adding two recap posts but for books and music.  Hopefully, these will be up in the next few days... or hours... depending on how inspired I get.

Without further ado, here's my life in 2011 through the movies I watched.  Enjoy!

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January 8 - The Tourist
(This movie kept me thinking until the end.)

January 22 - Tangled
(Perhaps the only movie musical that I've watched so far in ages. And yes, I didn't cringe! How could I when I am swooned by the voice of Zachary Levi. Teehee!)

March 5 - Just Go With It
(There wasn't any new movies showing that week. I remembered Meann and I choosing between this and I Am Number Four. Well, obviously, you know what we both chose and neither of us regretted it.)

March 13 - Red Riding Hood
(I wanted to read the book before watching this. After I watched it, I fell in love with Billy Burke more. And I liked Max Irons. I do have a copy of the book; unfortunately, it is still unread.)

March 19 - Rango
(This is for me the best animation movie I've seen. Story-wise, it was compelling.)

March 21 - Sucker Punch
March 26 - Sucker Punch
(Like in my post last year, I have the habit of watching movies more than once. This was no exception. And I'm a proud owner of this book and I won this shirt from New Worlds.)

April 19 - Arthur
(I will admit to not being a big Russell Brand fan but this made me laugh and cry. The geeky, movie cars were awesome.)

April 28 - Water For Elephants
(Thanks to our fairy godmother, I saw this in an advanced screening together with 4 other Robert Pattinson fans.  My friends know that I'm a fan of his so anything he makes, I'll see.  To this day, I regret not seeing Remember Me in the cinemas.)

April 30 - Thor
(If only because I wanted to see Chris Hemsworth in 3D, I made an exception to my Northern allergy and saw this. While this takes my favorite movie of the year award, my only wish: extra 20 feet for maximum ab exposure. =P)

May 31 - Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
(If anyone questions how much I love Johnny Depp, this should be proof that I do. It's the third movie of him that I've seen; that's like an average of 1 Johnny Depp fix every 2 months. Not bad at all.)

June 4 - Kung Fu Panda 2
(This was our company's family day offering. I joined the first screening. I laughed and cried all the way until the end. Keeping my fingers crossed for a 3rd installment.)

June 4 - X-Men First Class
(Since I wasn't contented with Kung Fu Panda 2, I watched this with a couple of friends who swear by Charles/Erik's or James McAvoy/Michael Fassbender's powerful chemistry. I was equally hooked. The duo takes the Best On-Screen Couple of the Year award for me. :D)

June 20 - Super 8
(I loved this movie but if there's one thing I learned, I shouldn't have watched this alone.)

July 9 - Temptation Island
(I loved the original; I loved this remake too. And the crowd that my friends and I were with in the cinema... tres chic!)

August 6 - Cowboys & Aliens
(Having seen Super 8 a few months before, my enthusiasm watered down a bit. Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig easily changed my mind.)

August 13 - Captain America, The First Avenger
(Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan. Need I say more? :D)

September 3 - Zombadings 1: Patayin Sa Shokot Si Remington
(My 2nd Filipino movie for the year! And that is awesome by my standards. It didn't hurt that Meann and I saw Martin Escudero at the end of our screening. Here's proof.)

September 8 - Contagion
(Kate Winslet. Jude Law. Gwyneth Paltrow. Marion Cotillard. Matt Damon. Laurence Fishburne. An all-star cast movie directed by Steven Soderbergh. I've seen similar kinds of movies but this works. So bravo!)

September 24 - Abduction
(Taylor Lautner's first starring role after shooting The Twilight Saga franchise. Not bad; not good either. More movies would do the trick.)

October 22 - The Three Musketeers
(Matthew Macfadyen + Logan Lerman + Orlando Bloom as a bad ass = MAJOR LEAGUE EYE CANDY! The chemistry between D'Artagnan/King Louis XIII is my runner-up for the Best On-Screen Couple of the Year award.)

November 17 - The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
November 18 - The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
(Breaking Dawn, the book, is my 2nd favorite in the series so you can imagine my anticipation. I think Bill Condon and Melissa Rosenberg did their best to adapt this. I was entertained.  However, if I were to rank the four movies, this unfortunately takes the last slot for me.)

December 10 - Immortals
(Luke Evans. I sigh as I say your name. Not that I don't like Sean Bean but can you be Zeus in the next installment of Percy Jackson? Pretty please?)

December 17 - Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol
(I love you, Simon Pegg! You were made to be seen in IMAX.)

When I reviewed my last year's post, I watched a total of 17 movies.  This year? 23 movies! Woohoo!  I hope to see more this 2012. And this nifty sequel below would be the first one on my list...

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