Thursday, July 2, 2015

Goodreads Review: ARC of Dare Me Again

Dare To Love Series: Dare Me Again (Kindle Worlds Novella)Dare To Love Series: Dare Me Again by Cora Seton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dare Me Again is a novella set in the Dare to Love series by Carly Phillips. Though written by Cora Seton, Dare Me Again stays true to the trope and approach of the original series started by Carly Phillips. And Cora Seton adds more- her style and voice in writing contemporary romance.

What worked

The themes of family life and settling down after years of hard work is evident in the novella. Such themes are present in most of Seton's work so far. I like reading about such themes as it echoes my own dreams and wants. What is a decade or two of hard work and investments if there is no place and no person so share it with? Connor , the male lead seeks to retire from profession football and marry Carolina, the strong willed and independent social media entrepreneur. How Connor wins her heart makes the novella a steamy and exciting read.

The way the chapters were introduced through excerpts of blog entries by Carolina is a creative technique that helped me predict what the chapter is going to be about. It adds meaning to the entire novella as well since it speaks about life lessons and truths we believe in. A crafty technique as it sets the pace of Connor and Carolina's romance.

What did not work

It's just too short.

Over all, it is a good piece of work from Cora Seton.

View all my reviews

Monday, June 29, 2015

Preview: Bookwatch July Issue

Here is a sneak peek of the July issue of Bookwatch. On the cover is a kapre, smoking a tobacco, regaling his young audience with stories great and small. How apt since we celebrate National Children's Book Day (NCBD) this month. Certainly, there are stories to tell, great and small, about the NCBD and the people behind its industry.

As guest writer for this issue, I wrote a think piece on the PBBY Salanga and Alcala Prizes. I threw in a bit of history of the awards and how it helped the industry grow into what it is today. The National Children's Book Award (NCBS) is  in the article as well as the necessity of raising the bar in children's and young adult (YA) book publishing in the country.

Speaking of YA, there's news on the KABANATA Workshop too and a brief mention about the Pilar Perez Medallion. Such is the history for a clamor of books and reading materials for teens. This issue looks into that and if you are a children's lit or YA lit advocate, you may just find the list of tales and stories of the fantastic a starting point to campaign for the development of YA lit in the country today.

Thanks to Paolo Chikiamco, editor of Bookwatch, for giving me this wonderful opportunity to write about what is very close to my heart. Here's hoping we can keep inspiring more people to support the growth of Philippine Children's and Young Adult Literature.

Goodreads Review: We Were Liars

We Were LiarsWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If not for the metaphor and allegory, it would have been a boring read at the start. It peaks up toward the middle and takes your breath away by the time it reaches the end. Rarely does a book leave me sad, disturbed and utterly awed all at the same time. A classic young adult read because, as a whole, the book epitomizes its intended reader: powerful; foolish; wise; sensitive and frail.

Youth is indeed wasted in young. The remaining years are all that is left to rectify things.

View all my reviews

Thursday, June 25, 2015

NCBD 2015: Librarians Workshop

Ripple Effect: Follow Up Action from the Pre CONSAL ASEAN School Library Workshop

Two weeks ago, I was in Bangkok for the pre CONSAL Workshop on ASEAN School Library Development. It was a brief stay but a meaningful one. I have blogged about it and you can read the posts here: Back in Bangkok;  Action Plans and Afterthoughts on the Pre CONSAL ASEAN School Library Workshop

Inspired to continue the work that started out in Bangkok, an ASEAN School Library group in Facebook has been set up. I am one of the administrators and we hope to get participants and group members from the ASEAN countries. Members are school librarians of course, but Library and Information Professionals interested and involved in school library development are also welcome to join. If you fall under this membership category, visit the FB group here.

And here's an email from Carol Sheppard, delegate from Laos that put a smile on my face.
Dear Zarah,
I attended the Pre -CONSAL School Libraries workshop in Bangkok two weeks ago as part of the Lao delegation and was very impressed with your presentation about School Libraries in the Philippines.
There was one particular area that I was interested in that I was hoping you could help me with.  I think you mentioned during the presentation that there was a published "Standard" for the recommended growth of school library collections and even that it was detailed according to the Dewey system.
I may be completely mistaken (quite possible!) but I would really appreciate it if you could provide any further information on this as it would be of great assistance when advocating for more resources.
Thank you so much for your assistance and please don't hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.
Kind Regards
Since the School Library Standard is available online, I sent Carol the link. Knowledge shared is knowledge gained, so they say. Here's to more linkages and future collaborative endeavors among librarians in the ASEAN!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

ARC: The Airman's Email Order Bride

There are spoilers in this review. But read on if you wish to get a glimpse of Cora Seton's last book for the series, The Heroes of Chance Creek.

Finishing the last book in the series, The Heroes of Chance Creek, by Cora Seton is a funny and almost frustrating ride. I suppose it is the way with young love. We make a fool of ourselves, turning ourselves inside and out, and risking life and limb beyond reason. Since the last book, The Airman's Email Order Bride, is a contemporary romance, all is well that ends well.

What Worked

Colt and Heather's reunion is exciting, steamy and bitter sweet. Indeed, love is dearer when it is lost and regained. The comic turn in the plot was entertaining for a while. It got a bit boring as events moved further on because really, a hopeless romantic like myself will choose love, always love, at day's end. But no, Ms. Seton prolonged the agony. Good thing is, she is crafty at characterization and caricature making. Heloise is hilarious. Mia, Rose and Autumn, supporting characters in this book, but major ones from the The Cowboys of Chance Creek series, all made relevant cameos. Their presence in the story's plot gave me hope to expect nothing as bad as a death of a main character. Ms. Seton sure knows her genre!

In the end, Colt made the decision that led to his growing up. The boy finally became a man. This is my favorite part in the novel. His brothers agreed to the decision. They understood how important it was to their own personal lives having experienced to be forgiven and loved. Love conquers all, so wise men say.

What Didn't Quite Work

I was hoping for a deeper re-connection between Colt and Austin. Knowing how complicated the older Hall is, it would have made for a dramatic chapter. What I was looking for was a dynamic that would define the relationship of the Hall brothers as true heroes. Each conquered their own demons in different ways and the women whom they love were all instrumental in their personal victories. I was expecting for more sibling love among the men however.

At the last page of the book, I ended up as one happy reader. My faith in the world is restored and I can now go back to real life with a stronger belief in the human spirit to triumph over adversity: the ones we have with in ourselves and those brought by people with in our periphery. The Hall brothers may be fictional characters as well as their wives, but for a brief moment of reading about their struggles and little victories, it made me feel that I too can be a hero in love and in life.

Thank you Ms. Seton for a comforting and wonderful adventure!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Father's Day Blog Contest

Three simple ways to join:

1. Send a short review of my book, My Daddy! My One and Only! via email ( or a PM over at Facebook;

2. Send a photo essay showing a read aloud of my book, My Daddy! My One and Only via email ( or a PM over at Facebook;

3.  Send a photo of the Parent Award that is attached at the end of the book, dully filled out and accomplished, showing your parent getting this award. Send it via email ( or a PM over at Facebook.

The first three people to send any of the three photos will get a FREE autographed copy of My Daddy! My One and Only! and will be featured in the blog too!