The Bookworms are Back

Bookworms Unite 2.0 02

Bookworms Unite 2.0 02

And so, #BookwormsUnitePH was a success! Thank you thank you thank you!

If you can recall, a group of blogger friends and I had this flighty, spontaneous idea last year which gave birth to Bookworms Unite. It was absolutely fantastic and I had so much fun. So much so that I particularly remember wanting it to be an annual thing. In fact, people were actually satisfied; the feedback was a resounding let’s do this again! And yet, I didn’t think it was likely.

What an unfounded thought, I soon recognized. Because Bookworms Unite 2.0 happened last Saturday and I’m still in a happiness hangover!

Bookworms Unite 2.0 03Group shot! (c) Faye

Bookworms Unite 2.0 04Bookish people are the best people.

Bookworms Unite 2.0 05One of the masterminds, Inah, during introductions.

With the addition of JM, loud and eager JM, and I articulate this in the most endearing way possible, and Raffy, innocent Raffy, the usual suspects reunited (wink, wink) to bring another afternoon of bookish awesomeness to the Filipino reading/blogging community. There were familiar faces and the program was basically a replica of the previous one but we had a bigger crowd, a bunch of first-timers, and twice as many books (!!). And something else. President Snow would’ve been proud. Because it was apparent that the chance to win an ARC of Gemina (and other coveted titles) could possibly kickoff the 76th Hunger Games. I mean. I’m just saying.

Like last year, being one of the organizers ruled out the possibility of me snapping photos here and there. Unlike last year, I didn’t even get to HONY the attendees. But I’m not complaining. The amount of gratification stunts the cons and I’m a happier snowman for it. Plus, Miss Honey de Peralta of Penguin Random House and Filipino ReaderCon fame graced us with her presence (DID I MENTION SHE’S A HUGE HAMILTON FAN?) and I scored a copy of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and YEEESSSSSS! (JM might have an anecdote for this.)

Bookworms Unite 2.0 06Some of the titles that were up for grabs. (c) JM

Bookworms Unite 2.0 07Who is Cricket Bell?!!

Bookworms Unite 2.0 08The future organizers: Jem and Kim a.k.a. THE winner.

Just, I want to thank every single one of you who braved the weather and hung out with us, who joined us for the Twitter chat the night ere. I want to thank—and I did hug them—my lovely co-hosts—Hazel of Stay Bookish, Dianne of Oops! I Read A Book Again, Inah of The Bibliophile Confessions, JM of Book Freak Revelations, Raffy of Eccentric Everything, Faye of The Social Potato, and Jasmine of Jasmine Pearl Reads—for awaiting my return, working intently on orchestrating Bookworms Unite 2.0, and the endless and often hilarious Twitter group DMs. I want to thank our generous sponsors, for whom the celebration wouldn’t be half as exciting, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, and Fully Booked. And thank you Tweedle Book Café for housing us in; I adore your strawberry milk foam!

Will Bookworms Unite run for its third year? I believe I speak for the whole gang when I declare we’d love to. But it’s too soon to promise anything. However, the enthusiasm is overwhelming and doesn’t go unnoticed. So maybe

Bookworms Unite 2.0 09Here’s me being super stoked. Or depressed. I don’t know, you decide. (c) Jem

You can read on with these recaps:

Were you at the event? Link me up with your story! Or you can tell me about your weekend.

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

So What Did I Miss?

Cozumel 01

*Insert a Daveed Diggs gif that does not exist.*

Hólaaaaaaaaaaaaa! I’m still alive!

Sebastian Stan Gif 01via

No? Okay. Let me give you a quick run-down of what I’d been up to in the past ten months instead. I finally went to Venice and Santorini, talk about bucket lists and stuff. I had baklava in Kusadasi. I spent my birthday in a lovely afternoon in Split with a lovely bunch. I took a dip in West Bay in Roatán and had a massive frozen margarita in Cozumel. I got lost in the streets of Mykonos and ate souvlaki before heading back. I got drunk in an overnight in Dubrovnik, you guys, which doesn’t really happen often, since I do not enjoy consuming alcohol. I had these luscious local chocolate truffles in Belize. I danced. I laughed. I had one too many gelato. I marveled. Basically, I was smitten by Europe (well, yeah, the parts I’ve seen, shush). I worked as an assistant cook for Norwegian Cruise Line and, as a perk, I was allowed to traipse through Italy and North-Eastern Mediterranean—DID I MENTION GREEK YOGURT AND GELATO ARE MY ABSOLUTE FAVOURITES?—and several spots in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished, in squalor.

Venice 01

Venice 02   Katakolon 01

Venice 03

I’d been to places I’ve only ever daydreamed of, some I’ve never even heard of before. I got to work with such a diverse set of people and formed friendships I know I’ll always cherish. It was incredible and exhilarating and transformative and, yes, there were down moments but I had a grand time and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. (That sounds cliché because clichés are true.) I guess, it’s the connection I made with these total-strangers-turned-friends at a time when I was so far out of my comfort zone and trying to navigate this weird state of being completely excited and perfectly homesick AND seeing parts of the world, that was quite special.

Dubrovnik 01

Mykonos 01

And oh! When we did the crossing from the US back to Europe, I cannot not see Spain and OH GOSH I FELL IN LOVE! ART IS EVERYWHERE AND THAT’S NOT A HYPERBOLE. (Sadly, though, I do not have much proof to this as I was busy being utterly awestruck.)

Palma de Mallorca 01

Palma de Mallorca 02

And now I’m in a work break, being laaaaazzyyyy all day. But you know what I’m very much looking forward to? BOOKWORMS UNITE 2.0, yo! Together with several blogger friends, we’re bringing you another fun way to be bookish and awesome (wink, wink). Come hang out with us! There will be literary games. There will be much fanboying/girling! I even promise to be not awkward less awkward! Plus there’s a Book Blind Date! So, you know, join us in an afternoon of celebrating the love of reading. All the information you need to know is in this adorable graphic Hazel of Stay Bookish made:

Bookworms Unite 2.0 01

Let’s catch up; tell me what I’d miss! And will we have a conversation—where I embarrass myself—in Saturday?

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Your Favorite TV Series on Season Break

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Because I have monumental scheduling skill

Because my previous weeks were spent completing paper works and doing rounds of goodbyes, I haven’t had the chance to officially announce here in Bookish and Awesome that I will be taking a break. But I am.

In the next eight months, I’ll be working as an assistant cook for Norwegian Cruise Line LTD and will be out in the open seas. As we speak—or whatever the blogging equivalent is—I’m breathing the Mediterranean air. I don’t know how long it’ll take to find a schedule that will work for the blog but I’m crazy excited. I’ve been daydreaming of Europe for SO long now, living vicariously through endless Tumblr posts, and it’s surreal to finally be on the other side.

It’ll be long hours of work BUT it is not the end for Bookish and Awesome. Think of it as your favorite TV series on season break. Or something. So yeah.

Sending warm hugs from Santorini,
Miel

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PS. I wasn’t able to go off-shore today so I’m showing a photo that was taken in Turkey.

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

Unmissable Weekly: August 7, 2015

Bookish and Awesome’s weekly round-up of buzz-worthy news from around the bookternet in bite size. Click on the links to be directed to the full articles.

For Such a Time 01via

Claiming that success in the industry is merit-based and gender-irrelevant while simultaneously using your position as an established male creator to literally shout down women’s voices is willful ignorance. It isn’t eccentric; it isn’t cute, and it isn’t excused by the generation you’re from or the comic world you came up in. Unfortunately, it’s also not uncommon.

I don’t know about you but this Bill Willingham sounds like a jerktastic dude.

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Last fall, after he’d just found an unpublished story by John Steinbeck, Gulli told NPR’s Arun Rath that he’d actually been looking for one by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Now, he’s tracked it down — and he joined Rath again to talk about the find.

And so we carry on, eyes against the evident, uncovering ceaselessly the unpublished works of famous American writers.

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[Max von Sydow] has joined the sixth run of HBO’s Game of Thrones as the Three-Eyed Raven, a character who last appeared in the season 4 finale and was played by a different actor (Struan Rodger).

Because it isn’t Unmissable Weekly without a Game of Thrones story.

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In the Holocaust, over 6 million Jews, and more than 17 million people in total were killed by the Nazis. In For Such a Time, the hero is redeemed and forgiven for his role in a genocide. The stereotypes, the language, and the attempt at redeeming an SS officer as a hero belittle and demean the atrocities of the Holocaust. The heroine’s conversion at the end underscores the idea that the correct path is Christianity, erases her Jewish identity, and echoes the forced conversions of many Jews before, during, and after the Holocaust.

Admittedly, I am not the best person to speak about this. But I want to educate myself. And only by opening dialogues can we hear. And we need to listen. We need to keep talking.

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

You Know You Love Me

Gossip Girl Book Tag

Gossip Girl Book Tag

Once upon a time, I wasn’t as TV noob as I am today—well, okay, I keep track of what’s out there except I do not watch them. But then, I had multiple television shows I was tuning in to, and one of them was The CW’s Gossip Girl, based on the novel series of the same name by Cecily von Ziegesar. Looking back, to say I was into it would be a grand playing-it-cool. I was obsessed. It match-aired here in one of our local networks and I’d watch multiple replays—aside from the episode’s first screening—every week. My best friend and I would even talk in length about certain scenes, like the characters were friends of ours. Or, at the very least, schoolmates.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when fellow fans JM (of Book Freak Revelations), Kevin (of Tomebound) and Salve (of Cuckoo For Books) decided to initiate a book tag featuring the one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite, I was on board tout de suite. And without further ado…

…or not. There are two things to consider if you were to peruse this post, viz. a) it is based on the TV series, not the books, and b) some items contain substantial spoilers for the TV series.

*Click the cover to be directed to the book’s Goodreads page.*

SERENA VAN DER WOODSEN
The “It” book of YA fiction.

Gossip Girl Gif 01
via

Not only do I now realize how dreadfully Herculean the term “The “It” book” puts in one’s choice, it also requires a compelling argument. Hence, allow me to take a slightly different angle and pick Lara Jean’s story. Just because of how often I see this book (or the sequel) on Instagram.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before 01

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

BLAIR WALDORF
A book/character you love to hate.

Gossip Girl Gif 02via

Since my introduction is a trip down memory lane anyway, let’s carry on. I’m going with Jane of the Volturi. I recall hating how unfair her power is. Or maybe because it was sick and I wanted me some sick power? (What, don’t tell me you don’t ponder these philosophical stuff?)

Twilight 01   New Moon 01   Eclipse 01   Breaking Dawn 01

Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

CHUCK BASS
A roller coaster ride of a book.

Gossip Girl Gif 03via

There’s a collection of reasons why The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of my top ten all-time favorite books, one of them being it made me feel all of these emotions.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

NATE ARCHIBALD
A book cover eye candy.

Gossip Girl Gif 04
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Fun fact: I’m responsible for this particular item. Not-so-fun fact: I CAN PICK A MULTITUDE OF COVERS. Why do I have to do this on myself? In fact, I can dedicate a whole article about #coverlove and—oh wait, I did. But I’m zeroing in on Sarvenaz Tash’s upcoming 2016 novel. Look at the color scheme and overall vibe!

3P JKT Geeks_Guide.indd

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash

DAN HUMPHREY
A book you think deserves more love than it gets.

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Oh! I have a bunch of titles but I recently finished Ford’s Suicide Notes and this was published in 2008 but why haven’t I heard of it?

Suicide Notes 01

Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford

JENNY HUMPHREY
A character that went through the most drastic transformation, for better or worse.

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A piece of (lemon) cake! Sansa Stark. Enough said.

A Game of ThronesA Clash of KingsA Storm of SwordsA Feast for CrowsA Dance with Dragons

A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R. R. Martin

VANESSA ABRAMS
A book that doesn’t have a lasting impression.

Gossip Girl Gif 07
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So I picked this graphic novel during last year’s MIBF thinking there’s some awesome Starlord action. But what did I get? NO STARLORD! But I digress.

The Infinity Gauntlet 01

The Infinity Gauntlet by Jim Starlin

RUFUS & LILY
An OTP that could have been.

Gossip Girl Gif 08
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I usually don’t use the same title or series in a single tag but for this one I’ll bend. Okay. This is straight up fanfic, right? Someone write me my Sansa x Ser Loras story!

A Game of ThronesA Clash of KingsA Storm of SwordsA Feast for CrowsA Dance with Dragons

A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R. R. Martin

GEORGINA SPARKS
A villain who’s killing it with villainy.

Gossip Girl Gif 09
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The Dark Fairy from Cornelia Funke’s Mirrorworld Series easily comes to mind. I’d consume a whole book dedicated to her complexity.

Reckless 01   Fearless 01

Mirrorworld Series by Cornelia Funke

DOROTHA
A favorite sidekick character.

Gossip Girl Gif 10
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Given that Nico di Angelo isn’t one of The Seven, he’s basically a secondary character. And next to Annabeth and Percy, he is my favorite demigod from Uncle Rick’s Greek mythology retelling. It has always been this way, ever since the Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series. And in fact, I was more invested in his and Reyna’s arc in The Blood of Olympus.

PJO #1PJO #2PJO #3PJO #4PJO #5
HOO #1HOO #2HOO #3HOO #4HOO #5

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

IVY DICKENS
A book you always mistake for something else.

Gossip Girl Gif 11
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Not necessarily “always.” But somehow there was a phase when I almost always confused Half Bad and Red Rising. I DON’T KNOW WHY.

Half Bad 01   Red Rising 01

Half Bad by Sally Green • Red Rising by Pierce Brown

LOLA RHODES
A book/character you want to like more than you actually do.

Gossip Girl Gif 12
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Yesterday, I talked about how Neil Gaiman touched my life. It still saddens me how my first foray into his extensive list was a bit underwhelming. I did like Coraline, however.

Neverwhere 01

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

PRINCE LOUIS
A Prince-Charming-turned-A-plus-jerk character.

Due to the spoilery nature of this one, I will leave it blank and instead give you this:

Frozen Gif 01via

You know you love me. XOXO.

Tag you’re it:

Cristian @ The Bookish God
Inah @ The Bibliophile Confessions
Jayvee @ Writer For Misfits
Jem @ The Bibliophile Confessions
Justine @ Bookwormaniac
Kim @ Divergent Gryffindor
Liam @ Liam’s Library
Miggy @ The Quirky Reader
Shannelle @ The Art Of Escapism

And oh. JM posted his entry yesterday, Kevin’s will be up tomorrow and Salve’s on Friday.

Who is your favorite Upper East Sider?

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

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Copying is Not a Bad Thing

On Neil Gaiman, Blogging and Influence.

Ever since I’ve seen Neil Gaiman’s commencement address for the 2012 graduating class of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia two years back—an address that will become enormously influential in my life and one that I’ll revisit time and again—I cannot not constantly ruminate on the wisdom it delivers. And among these many enduring lessons in creativity and art, and in life, one that particularly and often pervaded my mind is: “The urge, starting out, is to copy. And that’s not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people.”

I was in the early stages of the inception of my first blog and I didn’t know what I was doing—in fact if you ask me now, I still don’t know. And here was a guy. A guy who’s been prolific and successful for years and he’s telling me it’s okay to find my voice in the words of another. I can tell you that was and is a strong message.

Just last month, two friends asked me separately who I look up to when it comes to blogging. In both instances I wasn’t able to name names right away; I had to think it through. And while on the process, because blogging is essentially writing, I returned to Gaiman’s dictum.

Before I go further, I would like to establish my interpretation of to copy in the sense that it was used by the English author. Gaiman, I’m most certainly confident, does not advocate plagiarism. In this case, “to copy” is to feel the style of another artist by writing (or whatever verb that matches your field of artistic endeavor) as closely as possible to his voice.

If my work—that is, my blog—is any evidence, it is safe to say that I still struggle with finding my own voice. Originality is, after all, a steady process of constant borrowing and repurposing. For a while I toyed with the idea that I can be as fun and funny as Cait of Paper Fury or as carefree and articulate as Elena of the now defunct Novel Sounds. I wanted to have provocative, in depth discussions worthy of Joey’s of Thoughts and Afterthoughts and to incorporate my personal life into my writing just as easily as Jamie of The Perpetual Page-Turner does. But all of these don’t come naturally to me, which is not to say that these people don’t influence me all the same, because they do. And lately, the necessity to self-examine is more timely than ever, as I muse over what I thrive to accomplish with Bookish and Awesome.

I am nowhere near having my answer. But I feel like I’ve stumbled upon the beginning of a thread.

Jen of Pop! Goes The Reader and Shannon of Awash With Wonder are two ladies who write with eloquence and sensitivity I deeply admire. The ease with which they choose their words is something I aim for. And while both are equally thoughtful, each write disparately, in subject and in style, from the other. You can accuse my reviews of being stiff, but I exert effort into producing them as thoughtful and sensitive as best I can. So I guess Jen and Shannon are my main influences. They definitely make me aspire to write better.

Is it okay then that I grapple with my own voice? We all go through it; the process has been humbling thus far. Is it okay to copy and be influenced by other artists? Yes. Because as Austin Kleon affirmed, “you are a mashup of what you let into your life.”

Who are your influences?

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

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We Can Make an Extracurricular Activity Out of Googling Stuff

Real Neat Blog Award

Real Neat Blog Award

As someone whose penchant for asking random questions not only subjected him to a couple of what-a-weirdo baffled stares in the past but also plunked him into awkward conversations, today’s Tag or Award or whatever is right up my alley. So thank you Wesaun @ Oreo and Books and Tam-Tam @ Thoughts And Afterthoughts who now knows what a horrible person I can be for the Real Neat Blog Award! You can check out their entries here and here, respectively.

And because I feel like info-dumping would bore you out of your mind, I’ll only answer seven questions instead of fourteen. Or maybe because I’m lazy. You decide.

IF YOU COULD HANG OUT WITH 2-3 CHARACTERS FOR A DAY, WHERE WOULD YOU GO (FICTIONAL), WHAT WOULD YOU DO AND WHY WOULD YOU DO IT?
I initially wanted to mash up fandoms for this idyllic one-day getaway but then I thought of Mim (Mosquitoland by David Arnold) and—nope, OF COURSE it has to be Mim, Beck and Walt. This trio is their own adventure. Like, we can make an extracurricular activity out of Googling stuff and we’d have a blast. I’m not even kidding. OR we can go to Le Cirque des Rêves (The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern). Yeah, that would be super awesome.

IF YOU COULD BUILD SOMETHING USING MULTIPLE COPIES OF YOUR FAVORITE BOOK OF 2015, WHAT WOULD YOU BUILD AND WHY?
I’m gonna build my own red iron throne. GO FIGURE.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR?
This is actually more complicated than black and white? Because the easy answer would be a light shade of teal. However, I also like three-shades-darker bean red, milk white and blue dress, especially together. And oh, mustard yellow. By the way, I’m talking HTML colors. Because I’m a nerd.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO THAT IS IN NO WAY RELATED TO THE BOOK WORLD, BOOKS, OR THE COMMUNITY?
I really enjoy going to the cinema alone. In fact, there was a time when I’d go watch a movie every week and that was my me-time. It’s just, there’s something about the alone-ness of it. Like, there’s this entranced moment after the film right? Where you think big thoughts, like maybe you can move to France or open a bake shop or do that one thing you’ve always wanted to do. And you never even do it. It’s just the feeling that you can maybe turn your life into a movie, you know? (Also, I think I’m paraphrasing Ezra Faulkner here.) That—those few minutes after the credits—that’s very special for me, and I want to savor it in silence.

YOU HAVE TO SWAP BLOGS WITH A BLOGGER (INCLUSIVE IS BOOKLR/BOOKTUBE/BOOKSTAGRAM) AND NEED TO OPERATE IT ON THE SAME SCHEDULE (OR NOT) LIKE THE ORIGINAL CONTENT CREATOR FOR A MONTH. WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE? WHY?
Cait of Paper Fury I choose you! Wait, no. Cait is not a Pokémon. But she’s definitely my choice. Just because I feel like running Paper Fury for a month would entail stretching my comfort zone even more. Gosh. I would have to read ten books or thirty seven to keep up.

WRITE A HAIKU WITH BOOK TITLES/AUTHOR NAMES.
Never let me go
Every day, at breaking dawn
Through the looking-glass

IMAGINE YOU HAVE SEVERAL ROWS OF SHELVING FILLED WITH A MULTITUDE OF BOOKS; FROM THOSE YOU OWN TO THOSE ON YOUR TBR—ALL OF WHICH YOU LOGGED ON GOODREADS. BEHIND THE SHELF IS A PANIC ROOM. TO GET INTO THE PANIC ROOM, YOU HAVE TO PULL OUT A BOOK (CAN YOU IMAGINE THE ACTION?). THERE IS AN INTRUDER IN YOUR HOUSE—A MURDERER?—WELL, YOU DON’T WANT TO FIND OUT. THE THING IS, THIS INDIVIDUAL HAS ACCESS TO YOUR GOODREADS ACCOUNT AND CAN SEE EVERY SINGLE TITLE YOU’VE LISTED. YOU’VE ALREADY CALLED THE COPS AND THEY’RE SET TO ARRIVE WITHIN MINUTES SO SAID INDIVIDUAL WON’T HAVE TIME TO PULL EVERY SINGLE BOOK OUT OF THE SHELVES TO GAIN ACCESS. WHICH BOOK DO YOU CHOOSE TO BE YOUR ACCESS CODE. JUSTIFY YOUR SELECTION.
Andrew Smith’s Winger because, DUH, that would be totally so unpredictable. Yeah, no. I don’t see the immediate use of Goodreads in this scenario? But anyway, I’d use Chocolat by Joanne Harris as access code because a) I only know two—and I mean two—people who have read the book, ergo, b) I hadn’t been as vocal about my fondness of it, and so c) it’d be a stretch for the intruder to single this title out. I think its spine is rather unremarkable, to boot.

There you go! If you’ve read Chocolat or know the specific name(s) of your favorite color(s), come talk to me. And also? I’m nominating these luscious waffles:

Cait @ Paper Fury
Eriele @ This Is Not Your Book Blog
Jayvee @ Writer For Misfits
JM @ Book Freak Revelations
Justine @ Bookwormaniac
Kevin @ Tome Bound
Liam @ Liam’s Library

Here are your questions:

  1. If you can only eat one group of food for the rest of your life, what would it be? (Classification can be as broad as “desserts” or as specific as “hamburgers.”)
  2. What is that book you wish you had when you were younger?
  3. Describe your coffee. (Or other favorite drink.)
  4. Which fictional character you’d switch lives with and why?
  5. Which album can you listen to on repeat for one whole day?
  6. In relation to the previous question, select a novel and do its soundtrack.
  7. And lastly, write a poem or haiku or song for either waffle or doughnut.

Books that were mentioned (click the cover to be directed to its Goodreads page):

Mosquitoland   The Night Circus 01   The Beginning of Everything

Never Let Me Go 01   Every Day 01   Breaking Dawn 01

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass 01   Winger 06   Chocolat

Pick one question from any of these and answer it in the comments below!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.