The Best of 2016

2016. What can we say about 2016 now that it is ending? I believe it’s better if we just don’t describe it, so let’s put all those superlatives back in our heads and see what are some of the many things that give us reasons to say that 2016 isn’t that bad.

Literature

The Best Book

26109391

First, we need to acknowledge why Sir John Corey Whaley winning is a big deal. Authors like Miss Morgan Matson and Miss Sarah J. Maas– authors that make me scream like a kid in a candy store with a $100 gift card in hand– published their books this year. But Sir John Corey Whaley delivered and wrote a masterpiece like he had never written before. I had little expectations from this book because I wasn’t a big fan of Where Things Come Back, but Highly Illogical Behavior is a fun read that talks about profound and relevant issues that people are afraid to talk about nowadays. If I were you, I would buy multiple copies of this book and give them to the people I love, because the world needs this book.

The Best Graphic Novel

25903764

There is no arguing that Miss Raina Telgemeier is the rockstar of Children’s Literature. Now, why is this the best graphic novel and not those flashy DC and Marvel comics (and trust me, I love reading them too)? The reason is that sometimes simplicity is what we all need to tug a heartstring. Finding a home, friendship, and love in the most unexpected place; Miss Raina Telgemeier has managed to put those inside this graphic novel that will surely find a special place in your heart.

The Best Picture Book 

22521973

You can say that it is almost unfair to put Last Stop on Market Street here since it already has tons of awards. Not to mention, it came out a long time ago. But every time I read this masterpiece, the world becomes a better place. It feels like there is some kind of filter on my eyes that causes me to see the world in a darker hue, then this book has that power to remove that filter. Last Stop on Market Street will make us all realize that we are all CJs and that we have Nanas all around us, but we always fail to listen to them, because we are so busy criticizing the world.

Music

The Best Song

mb_cvr_45_0

I Believe in You by Michael Bublé

It has been an inside joke that you can always find Mr. Bublé’s album inside cafés and retirement homes. In other words, if the place is relaxing, there is a high chance that that place plays his music. Sounds boring, but his song like I Believe in You proves that he can also be fun and entertaining while maintaining that relaxing vibe and sexy tone that I think no one can never ever replicate.

The Best Single

zayn-taylor-cover

If you know me, you probably see this song coming. What I love about Taylor Swift songs are they tell stories. They’re like books that you can finish in about 3-5mins. The best part is you are one of the main characters. I Don’t Wanna Live Forever tells a story of a couple who seems to get tired of fighting all the time, but now that they are far away from each other, they realize how much they need each other. Taylor Swift just saved 2016 from being one of the worst years ever.

The Best Extended Player 

chainsmokers-collage

Yes, EDM has already made a mark in the music industry. I am so happy that even the ones who are not gifted when it comes to singing (but still gifted musically in some ways) can find their own limelight. It’s heartwarming that there is music that was created to make you feel something that will get you moving. The Chainsmokers proves that music is for everyone.

The Best Album

71j5det6njl-_sl1425_

Charlie Puth just proudly waved the flag of Millenials with his Nine Track Mind album. Many people tend to see Millenials as youngsters who don’t know anything other than to have fun and be reckless. But Charlie’s album reminds everyone that Millenials can fall in love, get hurt, and move on. I can almost say that he tells the story of everyone who is still trying to find their place in this world.

On Screen Media

The Best TV Show 

shadowhunters-tv-series-artwork-key-art-logo

I don’t like watching TV. I am not a big TV person, but there’s always one thing that will make you break your own rule, right? And that for me is the Shadowhunters. A diverse cast, heartbreaking plot, rollercoaster of emotions. What more can you ask for? It is funny how you can relate more to these characters than the people in the real world. It only means that we are all well represented in this TV show.

The Best Movie 

movie_poster_zootopia_866a1bf2

Never in my entire life that I have seen a film as beautiful as this. It shows a simple but deep and meaningful message. Words are not enough to describe how beautiful this masterpiece is, so I suggest that you watch it. Remember that this is not just about a bunny trying to be a police officer.

Advertisements

The Responsible ARC Reader

It is always a delight to receive an ARC (Advance Readers Copy) from authors, publishing houses, or just anywhere at all. I mean how are you not going to be happy? One, you can read a fantastic novel before anyone else does, and of course, it is free!

But are ARCs really free or we are missing our responsibilities as readers whenever we get our hands on those “free” books?

To be honest, I did not know the responsibilities that you have as a reader whenever you receive those ARCs until one day, I started receiving one. 

ARCs are not free. You need to pay the author and the publishing house who put that ARC in your hands. Do they need money? Absolutely not. However, they need more than money. They need your time and your honest opinion about the work.

GIVE THEM YOUR TIME

Remember that ARCs give us an opportunity to read a novel before it comes out. As readers, we are responsible for reading an ARC before it actually comes out. The rule I follow is I should finish the novel at least 2 weeks before its release date. Once the actual book is out in the world, ARCs lose their value. 

WHY READ THEM BEFORE THE BOOK COMES OUT?

The primary purpose of ARCs is not to give readers free books. Remember, publishing houses want to sell their products, but do not think of it that way. We have to see that we are helping authors that have given us amazing books in the past and will give us more amazing books in the future. 

So we have to make sure that we have to read ARCs 2 weeks before they come out so we can give them an amazing review. If you don’t like the ARC, that is okay, but give it a review. ARCs do not demand good reviews; what they want is an honest review. Remember, good or bad publicity is still publicity.

If you are like me, someone who always gives good reviews to ARCs, what I do whenever I do not like the ARC is I will give it a review saying who I think is going to like the book. I will not write about how I do not enjoy the book—I will write how others will like it.

It is always fun to receive ARCs, but we have to remember that once we agree to accept those ARCs, we, as readers, now have a big responsibility in our hands.

Me After Watching Me Before You: Me Before You Movie Review

Even though Barnes & Noble Americana (where I work) sells tons of copies of Miss Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You every day, I was not expecting a big crowd inside the theater for its opening day. It turns out I was underestimating Emilia Clarke’s and Sam Claflin’s fan base. The theater was almost packed!

For this review, I will focus on 2 things: what I like about the movie. This includes how the movie can stand on its own and the actors. After that, I will talk about what I don’t like the film. I will end this entry with my overall rating of the movie and why I believe it deserves that kind of rating.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THE MOVIE

Can The Movie Stand on Its Own?

What I like the most about the film is how solid the story line is. The creators focus on Louisa’s and Will’s love story. All the side stories are beautiful (and we will talk about that later), but the movie wants us to see from the beginning that the main focus is how Louisa and Will will find their different paths where their lives are headed while their hearts intertwine.

The Actors

I wish I could give Emilia Clarke a standing ovation right now. She is the main highlight of that movie. From mother of dragons to a bubbly girl in a small town, Emilia Clarke nails that performance. I believe she is born to play Louisa Clark. Me Before You is not a laugh out loud movie, but Emilia Clarke will put tears in your eyes in many ways. Sam Claflin is a good William Traynor too, and his chemistry with Emilia Clarke is something that I want to see again on TV and/or on the big screen. The growth of his character is visible by the way he talks and interacts to Louisa.

WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT?

Faithfulness To The Book

I love how the movie focuses on the love story alone, but one of the reasons I actually love the book is the side stories are phenomenal! Treena’s struggle to get on her feet again after having a baby is what I want to see. Mr & Mrs. Traynor have their own struggles too, especially about their relationship, but it is not on the big screen. I love, in the book, how these efforts from other characters make the main love story stronger and more meaningful. I understand that the movie will be more than 8 hours long if it wants to be 100% faithful to the book; those struggles are inside the film, but you need to pay careful attention to know that they are there. In other words, you need to read the book to know they are there! For example, Mrs. Traynor’s problem with Will is he could kill himself any minute. Mr & Mrs. Traynor talk about it in the film really quick, and there is a scene where they focus on Will’s scarred wrist. The scenes are quick, and they can easily be missed, so pay attention carefully if you haven’t read the book and want to get these messages. 

THE RATING

Me Before You deserves a 10/10 rating. The first reason is the film delivers a message about different meanings of life and how one can live boldly. It shows that we can have a colorful life, but life can get stuck sometimes; we can put our life on hold, but we must remember that it needs a second chance. I love how Louisa and Will have different views on life, but they manage to meet each other halfway and fall in love.
Some of the non-readers might not get the subtle hints the movie is giving, but I believe it will still get at least a 7/10 rating from them because the film will really touch your heart in a way that will make you change the way you see the world.

10 out of 10 Stars

 

TBR Mailbox: Making Reading Fun To The Next Level

A weird combination of happiness and frustration stirs in our chest whenever it is time to choose what to read next. Should I pick up that book that has been collecting dust on my bookshelf? But the last book of that trilogy you’ve been obsessing just came out. This kind of situation always make us readers thankful for the invention of the TBR Jar. For those of you who don’t know what a TBR Jar is, TBR means To-Be-Read. It is a jar with random challenges (such as “Book with male protagonist,” “Book set in another planet”) to help you pick the next book you want to read. My first TBR Jar was just a white mug, so TBR Jars like these make me explode in jealousy: 

CollageImageSo then 2 days ago, I realized it was time for a new TBR Jar. However, I want to reach the next level. I just don’t want it to be a jar, I want it to have personality like the books I own. And so Voila! The TBR Mailbox is born. 

CollageImageLike most TBR Jars (In my case mailbox), everything is handmade. My inspiration for the design is base on the following:

spring-daisy-flowers_121946505 The Spring Season

Anna and The French Kiss

Anna And The French Kiss by Miss Stephanie Perkins 

& Last but not the least

Emmy And Oliver

Emmy & Oliver by Miss Robin Benway 

What makes the TBR Mailbox different from a regular TBR Jar? Well, I am glad you are curious. A regular TBR Jar gives you a direct to the point what you should read next, but the TBR Mailbox gives you a challenge to the next level. Since it is a mailbox, I put envelopes instead of roll-up papers, and I divided these envelopes into 3 categories (And yes, the envelopes are also handmade).

IMG_0305Yellow envelopes are for MG books (Middle Graders)

IMG_0307The pink ones are for YA (Young Adult)

IMG_0308The Plain one is for adult fiction

As you can see, there are certain genres written on each envelope, and I will explain later why. Let me just tell you what I will put inside these envelopes.

IMG_0303Inside the envelopes are these cute fusion of Anna and The French Kiss and Emmy & Oliver cards. When you open the envelopes, you’ll see random challenges like: 

IMG_0306(book set in the future) 

So I shuffled all these cards and put them randomly in different envelopes. Now I will put them inside my TBR Mailbox all facing down so I have no idea what color they are.

IMG_0313

What I will do is I will pick up a random envelope inside. If I pick up a yellow envelope with the contemporary genre written on it, and inside a card says, “book with male protagonist,” it means I need to pick an MG contemporary book with a male protagonist from my bookshelf. I know it can be tricky sometimes, but books are like that, they can be divergent– they belong in many categories. Isn’t that the fun part? If you notice that there is no genre inside my Adult Fiction Envelope, it is because I chose not to put any since the population on Adult Fiction on my bookshelf is just about 3% I think, so I don’t have that many choices. There is also no card inside, but hey at least I still give them a space in my TBR Mailbox, right? 

So guys, what do you think about my TBR Mailbox? Isn’t too much or is it cute, fun, or challenging? 

PS: Again, I cannot tell you where I bought it because everything is handmade. 

Recommendation 101: How to Make Anyone Read Your Book Recommendation

“Have you read Audrey, Wait by Ms. Robin Benway?” 

“Yes! It’s so good! You should read it. Trust me. It is so amazing.” 

I have and you have heard that conversations many times no matter where we are– bookstores, libraries, book events, and many more. The thing about that conversation is it is not a convincing way of recommending books. That kind of recommendation would just enter the right ear and then would exit from the left ear. The only information the person you are talking to would get from that kind of conversation is you are a big fan of that author, that book, or both. Sometimes even saying the synopsis is not very convincing. Remember: even if the book is really amazing, if the synopsis sounds lame from you, the book would sound lame. And we don’t want that happening. 

SO HOW CAN WE AVOID THAT?

HOW CAN WE VERY PERSUASIVE WHEN IT COMES TO OUR BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS? 

It is actually very easy. I have been working in a bookstore for more than a year now. And not to pat myself in the back, but customers return and ask me again for more book recommendations. And to be honest, I also recommend books that I don’t even like that much. Here’s how I do it. 

KNOW THE PERSON YOU ARE TALKING TO

Yes, you are recommending something to your friend. You pretty much know him. You know what he likes and don’t like, so make sure to tap into those areas when recommending your favorite book. What is the book going to offer that will make him like it? If your friend likes music, mention that Audrey, Wait is a book that is full of music. He likes comedy? Tell him that the book is flooded with humor. If the book has nothing that you think he’ll like, tell him why you like it. Mention how you fall in love with the characters and the witty writing. Tell him how fast you read the book. 

If a person is asking you for recommendations and you know nothing about him, ask what his favorite books are and look for some patterns. If he says he likes Divergent, Matched, and The Giver, it means he likes Dystopian novels. Go and recommend good dystopian titles. Again, do not fanboy or fangirl. Mention why the book is good.

If that person is a new reader and has no favorite books so far, ask what are his favorite TV shows, movies, and hobbies. Dig for any kind of information. If he says he likes The Fosters, A Walk to Remember, and cooking, a good book to recommend might be domestic fiction. Throw in some titles there. Tell him why Lola and The Boy Next Door by Ms. Stephanie Perkins has a similar appeal to The Fosters. Remember books are like people, there is always something similar between us and books.

WHAT IF THE BOOK THE PERSON YOU ARE TALKING TO MIGHT LIKE A BOOK THAT YOU DON’T LIKE? 

Sometimes, that happens, but remember: never recommend a book that you did not finish. It will just make you look like a total hater, if you finish a book and you don’t like it. It is still possible to recommend. Remember, what is not good for you might be good for others. I am not gonna mention a title for example, but to recommend a book you don’t like, tell how that person might like it. Remember how other people like that book. This book recommendation is not about you, it is about giving other person an opportunity to find a book that might change his life. Mentioning blurbs also help. If the person asks for your opinion, be honest, but tell him that you can see him liking it and that he might see the beauty of the book that you fail to see. 

Recommending books is very easy once you separate fanboying/fangirling and great persuasion. Give it a shot. You might find yourself as someone whom people go to when they need good books to read. 

    

   

What is Your Shoe Print?: Learn What Makes You Unique as a Reader

There are studies that claim that somewhere in the world there is a person that looks like us. This is very true especially if you have an identical twin. However, no matter how others look exactly like you or share the same interest, your fingerprints will never ever match. Fingerprints are like our tastes in books, when you think we have other perfect matches, a microscopic variation will appear.

How and why is that?

wpid-confused-face-1.jpgTo answer that, we need to think that books are like shoes. There are different kinds of shoes– there’s the dress shoes, tennis shoes, chucks, high heels, and so on. For books, genres exist (Romance, contemporary, etc.) Some people like collecting tennis shoes because they are always on the go, and they like the way they look (and yes, tennis shoes can be very classy). On the other hand, some people like collecting tennis shoes, because they play tennis. When these two people meet, instant friendship could immediately spark. They can talk about how they love the material of tennis shoes used by this particular brand and other topics regarding tennis shoes. When they reach the topic why they used tennis shoes, an argument will happen– the other person might say that tennis shoes are solely for playing tennis. 

Why am I saying this? 

Looks+like+a+Sparrow+or+something+_946ea4197e8560b741a552a6f8fc2893People need to learn that people love reading for different purposes. Let’s not even get to the escapism and such and such (those are already given). What I am trying to say is wee need to respect others why they like a certain book. For example, you might hate Twilight by Ms. Stephenie Meyer because Bella is the stupidest character you’ve ever seen, so now you need to hate on other people who enjoy the book. But what if those people enjoy reading characters who make stupid and reckless decisions? What if they love books with super flawed character?

I have experienced personally and seen readers (and non-readers) bully readers because of what they like to read. We don’t have to force ourselves to like what others like too, but I believe respect should be mandatory. If you don’t want to read the book that other like that you this is “stupid,” just say you have no interest in reading the book and then move on. We should stop putting other people down because of what they like to read. Other people is not obligated to like reading the way you like it. remember, we have our own “shoe prints.” Shoe prints are our reading fingerprints, we might think we have an identical one, but a slight variation will always happen.    

How to be a Smart Booknerd Festival Patron

It’s only March, but the scent of books is already in the air. Look left or look right book events and festivals are all over the place. Whether it is your first time attending or not, it’s important to have a checklist that will make you enjoy the events/festivals as much as possible. Here is the checklist that you need to be the happiest booknerd.

1. Schedule, schedule, and schedule.

4749698_origThis is the most obvious thing to do, but unfortunately, this is the thing that people tend to take for granted. Visit the event’s website or the authors that are attending online pages (Twitter, Facebook, etc) to check when the event is happening. Websites also contain the information where it’s going to be. If it is a big event, check whether your favorite authors are going to be there or not. If they are, check what time their events are going to be and if there are time conflicts between 2 or more of your favorite authors.

2. Tickets, tickets, and tickets.

raffle-tickets Nothing is more frustrating than being on time, but you don’t have tickets for the event. Again, check the event’s website if the event is ticketed or not. If it is, buy tickets as soon as they become available. Remember, fandom is not a small world. A lot of our peers want tickets too as soon as possible.

2. Bring Books, Books, and Books

YA-Books

Signings are the main event of book events. What’s the use of attending one if you don’t have books for the authors to sign? Remember: if a bookstore is hosting the event, they usually want you to buy the books from them or they’ll never allow you inside the event. If not, bring those lovely books of yours. You don’t have to spend money.

3. Bring Post-it notes and a Sharpie Pen

paper-notes

Beside getting your books signed, authors sometimes personalized their autographs. They are kind enough to do that even though their lines are millions of miles long. To be a nice fan, stick Post-it notes with your name on it even if your name is just as easy as “Joe.” It will make the lines go faster. And if your books are all labeled, still bring extra Post-it notes and a Sharpie pen. I’ll tell you why later.

4. Wear Comfortable Shoes and Bring an Extra Shirt

Unknown

Yes, you look fab in those high heels, but ditch them whenever you are attending a book festival. Trust me, it requires a lot of walking and standing up under the sun. Since you are under the sun a lot, bring sunscreen and an extra shirt. Trust me, you don’t want to be reeking in sweat when you say hi to your favorite author.

5. Ca$h, Ca$h, and Ca$h

cash-mone“I’m just there to see Ms. Sarah Dessen.” That’s what I told myself two years ago. I did not bring money because I knew the temptation to buy a lot of books are all over the place. But when Ms. Robin Benway and Ms. Morgan Matson spoke and told people about their books, I instantly regretted not having money so I could buy their books and had them signed. Bring at least $40 – $60.

I know book events are tiring, but they are very fun. But with proper preparation, you’ll not just have fun; you’ll have a blast.