Going crazy for Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians Kevin Kwan book signing

The author of two of my new favorite books was in town last weekend! Kevin Kwan of Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend fame held book signings and readings at Fully Booked‘s Bonifacio High Street and Alabang Town Center last August 15-16, 2015.

 

A photo posted by Macy (@theislandergirl) on

 

Crazy Rich Asians was published last 2013 but I only got to read it last year. I loved it so much that I read China Rich Girlfriend as soon as it came out. Crazy Rich Asians starts off with Rachel Chu, an American-born Chinese (ABC) economics professor who gets invited by Nicholas Young, her boyfriend and a history professor, to go with him to his best friend’s wedding and spend the summer in Singapore. What Rachel doesn’t know is that Nick just happens to be the scion of one of Singapore’s wealthiest families and the most eligible bachelor on the island. Once she gets there, it’s private jets galore, palatial homes, couture dresses and all the other trappings that come with being crazy rich, plus the requisite backstabbing, gossip, and meddling relatives. I can’t describe China Rich Girlfriend without spoiling the end of Crazy Rich Asians, but be rest assured that whatever outrageous antics the characters got into in the first book are multiplied a hundredfold in the second book. Because hey, there’s crazy rich and then there’s China-rich.

Side note: personally, I think the secondary characters make the books. Rachel may be the heroine but I found Astrid Leong’s (Nick’s cousin) story to be more engrossing. Sorry Rachel.

Danes and I arrived in BHS at 8am, ate breakfast, and lined up at 9am for the 10am registration and distribution of book passes. We ended up being #19 and #20 in the signing line, which wasn’t bad at all. The event started at around 2:15pm with a Q&A session with Kevin, moderated by someone from Fully Booked. Some interesting tidbits from the Q&A:

1. They’ve already started scouting for locations in Asia for the CRA movie (as they should be!). They’ve also started talking to actors who could be in the movie. (I’d love to see Ming-Na Wen and Gong Li take on the roles of the mothers but gawd, they look so ageless that I don’t think they’ll be cast. Can I get Shu Qi for Astrid please? Shu Qi is 39 but certainly looks younger than that.)

2. Everything in the books is real. Everything – except the characters and the plot – are real. That Boeing 747 in China Rich that’s fitted with a freaking koi pond? It’s real. Kevin said that he “doesn’t have an imagination” (ha!) so everything he describes in his books is something that he’s seen for himself. OH. MY. GOD. I had a follow-up question on how he even gets access to everything (since he said he’s seen everything he’s put in his books) but I was too shy to ask. Boo.

3. The series is planned out as a trilogy BUT the fate of the third book depends on how sales are for the second book. I hope CRG is doing really well!

Kevin then read part of a CRG chapter – the one where Kitty Pong steps into Hong Kong’s most exclusive Christian church for the first time. He does a great Corinna Ko-Tung but his Kitty Pong needs work. That doesn’t matter though as I still like him anyway 😛 kevin kwan signatures The signing itself started at around 3pm. The line moved pretty fast so Danes and I finished at 3:30pm. I stayed in Fully Booked to finish some work so I got to see the event end. The folks at Fully Booked were nice enough to let me talk to Kevin again after he was done signing the books ordered online. Kevin was really nice about it too and I appreciated him taking the time to discuss the ending of CRG.

Thank you again to Kevin Kwan for coming over to the Philippines and to Fully Booked for making it happen!

And the winner of the “The House of Hades” giveaway is…?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations to Andrea M. for winning a paperback copy of “The House of Hades” from Fully Booked! Please DM me your shipping address so that I can send you the book ASAP. Congratulations again!

Thanks so much to everyone who joined the giveaway. I hope you had as much fun joining as I had hosting it. A big THANK YOU also to Fully Booked for being awesome and sponsoring this special prize! Guys, show them some love over on Facebook and Twitter 😀

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“The House of Hades” by Rick Riordan book review and giveaway

THE REVIEW

house-of-hades-us-coverIt’s finally here! After a year of waiting after The Mark of Athena, Rick Riordan treats his avid readers to another round of Greek and Roman mythological madness with Percy Jackson and his cohorts in the form of The House of Hades.

The official book description:
The demigod crew of the Argo II is standing at a crossroads. They could return home with the Athena Parthenos statue and try to stop Camp Half-Blood and Camp Jupiter from going to war. Or they could continue on their quest to find the House of Hades, where they might be able to open the Doors of Death, rescue their friends Percy and Annabeth from Tartarus (if they have survived), and prevent monsters from being reincarnated in the moral world. Whichever road they decide to take, they have to hurry, because time is running out. Gaea, the bloodthirsty Earth Mother, has set the date of August 1 for her rise to power.

Overall verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

The good:

  • It’s a MUCH better book compared to The Mark of Athena. Better writing, better plot, and better characterization all around. More action too.
  • Riordan has a better handle on his ensemble cast. Yes the POVs are still divided among the main seven (Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Leo, Frank, and Hazel) but he manages to give each character their time to shine.
  • Each POV feels like a complete mini story. The transitions also aren’t as clunky as before.
  • Even more Greek history and mythology. Riordan’s delving into the less well-known stories and that’s always good. More Greek mythology for everyone!
  •  I loved Percy’s character development in Tartarus. It was great to see him be more introspective.
  •  More Nico di Angelo!

The not-so-good:

  • While it’s true that each ensemble character gets their special moment, the special moments are repetitive in structure. Character A starts doubting himself/herself and their purpose on this mission, Bad Guy A shows up and starts threatening everybody, all the other characters are somehow absent/trapped/incapacitated so that Character A has to do all the saving, Character A overcomes their self-doubt and saves everybody. Rinse and repeat for Hazel, Leo, Frank, and Piper. Jason as a different issue but his share of the story has the same structure.
  • As always, the romance. Personally, I feel that there was too much focus on the pairings. It would have been great to see everyone develop as individuals and not just as part of a pair.
  • And last but certainly not least: Nico’s big reveal. What the heck was that?! There’s not much I can say that wouldn’t be spoilerific but my issues boil down to 1) this reveal coming out of left field, and 2) my fangirl hopes and dreams being sunk into oblivion. It felt like a cop-out of sorts, considering that Nico has had minimal character development prior to this. If you want to discuss this further, DM me!

As the penultimate book in the Heroes of Olympus series, The House of Hades does a good job of setting up the last book in the series (due October next year). Part of me is eagerly waiting for the last book, but another part isn’t quite ready for Heroes of Olympus to end just yet.

THE GIVEAWAY

fullybooked bannerAnd now, what you’ve been waiting for: Fully Booked (my favorite, totally kick-ass bookstore!), in cooperation with theislandergirl.com, is giving away a copy of The House of Hades to a lucky reader!

How to enter:
1. It’s simple! Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to earn entries for the electronic raffle. Ways to earn entries include:

  • Like the Fully Booked Facebook page (2 points)
  • Follow @_FullyBooked on Twitter (2 points)
  • Subscribe to my blog via email (5 points)
  • Tweet about the giveaway with the hashtag #hadesgiveaway, mentioning @_FullyBooked and @theislandergirl, and linking to this blog post (1 point per tweet, can be done once a day for the duration of the giveaway
  • Leave a comment answering the question “If you fell into Tartarus, what would you see there?” (2 points)
  • Follow @theislandergirl on Twitter (2 points)

TOTAL – 20 points

2. The giveaway will run from October 10, 2013 12am to October 17, 2013 12am. All entries must be in by October 17 at 12 am.

3. The Rafflecopter widget will choose a winner randomly. The chosen winner will be announced on this blog and will be contacted via email, Facebook, and/or Twitter. The winner will be contacted via email and/or Twitter and must respond to the notification within 3 days. If the winner doesn’t reply within 3 days, a new winner will be chosen.

The Fine Print:

  • The House of Hades giveaway is open to Philippine residents only.
  • The House of Hades will be shipped to the winner via courier. The shipping fee will be covered by me. If the winner is in Metro Manila, maybe we can meet up too.
  • I reserve the right to disqualify raffle entries from Twitter accounts that have no content and were only opened specifically for joining contests.
  • If you’re the lucky winner, Fully Booked and I would greatly appreciate it if you tweeted or posted a photo on Facebook of yourself with the book and tagged us. You’re NOT required to do so but it would be awesome if you did 🙂

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Celebrating Lucy’s third birthday at Fully Booked!

First off, congratulations to Lucy for turning three-years-old! Lucy is Fully Booked‘s mascot/spokesperson and overall social media “figure”. Second, sorry for only writing about the event now >_< Lucy’s birthday celebrations took place last July 27-28 in Fully Booked’s Bonifacio High Street and Alabang Town Center branches but due to work, school, and reading my book haul, this post is a month late. Anyway, enough of that! Danes wanted to go to the party but wasn’t able to because of prior commitments. This post is partly to annoy her and tease her a bit about what she missed 😛 Games, free books, and Magnum ice cream? The perfect party!

00 event proper

It was a small party but still fun 🙂 Fully Booked’s staff set up tables where partygoers could play bookish games. You win a game, you get to pick a book “blind date” as a prize 😀 The first table had a word scramble game, where you had to unscramble at least five Star Wars or Harry Potter terms within 30 seconds to win. I wasn’t sure I wanted to play this game as I’m a massive fan of both franchises and it would be very embarrassing to lose 😛 Luckily, I didn’t so I earned my ticket for the book blind date. Wheee!

01 word scramble game

The second game was a “pair us up” challenge, where you and a friend had to match up at least five famous literary pairs within 30 seconds to win. I got the deck with Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley in it and submitting their cards together broke my heart. I did, however, qualify that I was doing it under duress 😛 Mwahaha! The only pair I wasn’t familiar with was Eleanor and Park, who are apparently the main characters in the popular YA book “Eleanor & Park”. Danes says the book is really nice (it’s about first loves) so that’s one more book to add to the “to read” pile. Found it funny that the comic book-themed deck had Iron Man and Pepper Potts as the pair (along with Mr. Fantastic/Invisible Woman and Clark Kent/Lois Lane) when they’re not together in the actual comics. Ah well 🙂

02 pair them up game

My favorite part of the afternoon: choosing my blind date! Instead of simply giving the books away, Fully Booked wrapped them in opaque paper and wrote short descriptions on the front. I ended up choosing a book described as featuring “secret society”, “1920’s New York”, “romance”, and “magic”. I double-checked with their super-friendly staff just to make sure it wasn’t The Diviners by Libba Bray (since I’d already read it) but it wasn’t! Something similar then 😀

03 book blind date

Book Blind Date candidates. Who to choose?!

05 my blind date

I ended up with this one.

04 friendly fully booked staff

The super friendly Fully Booked staff and Marketing Team

06 free book

My book blind date! Read my review here.

All in all, it was a great party. Kudos to the kickass Fully Booked team who organized the event! Special shoutout to Ms. Victoria from the Marketing Department who recognized me from the “What’s Your Story” campaign. Haha! I met her in the Katipunan branch November last year 😀

The Fully Booked-RCBC Bankard MasterCard – the booklover’s credit card

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The booklover’s credit card is finally here! I was invited to the launch event last April 17 but was unable to go because of work commitments. Much sighs of disappointment were expended. But the important thing is that they finally released it – the Fully Booked-RCBC Bankard MasterCard! If you consider Fully Booked as your second home, then you’ll definitely like this card.

What’s so great about this credit card?

First up: a year-round 10% discount on regular items! You probably already have Fully Booked’s in-store discount card but this card limits you to a 5% discount on credit card purchases. The Fully Booked-RCBC Bankard card is the only credit card that gives you 10% off the regular price. Please note that the discount is not applicable to magazines, office supplies, CDs, DVDs, consigned items, gift certificates, and sale items.

Second: up to 10% rebate on your Fully Booked, Bibliarch, and Sketchbook purchases when you charge at least P20,000 elsewhere per billing statement! You also earn a flat 0.5% rebate on all of your outside purchases, such as restaurant meals, groceries, airline tickets, utility bills, and the like. You can earn as much as P1,000 worth of rebates per monthly billing statement for a total of P12,000 per year.

Fully-Booked-RCBC-Bankard-rebate

Third: invites to Special Buys and Private Sale Events and advance notifications on new arrivals, special events, and promos. Hey, the little things count too so this is a nice perk.

And finally…

Four: 0% interest installment plans for big book purchases! You can get a 3-month installment plan for a minimum purchase of P3,000 and 6-month installment plan for P5,000.

One last bonus: you get a P500 Book Voucher for spending at least P12,000 anywhere within the first 3 months of receiving your card. Just remember that you need to present both your card and the charge slips when you claim the Book Voucher at any Fully Booked branch.

Part of me is seriously thinking about getting this card, especially since they waived the first year membership fee. Nuninuninu… *dreams about all the wonderful books she could get*

Fully-Booked-RCBC-Bankard-Fees-and-Charges

Complete details here
Online application
Printable application form

Book Review: “Smart Women Finish Rich” by David Bach

One of my favorite books of all time is “Smart Women Finish Rich” by David Bach. The book that started Mr. Bach’s “Finish Rich” series, “Smart Women Finish Rich” is a guide to personal finance written especially for women. Consider these facts:

1. In general, women live longer than men.

2. Women are more likely to take breaks in their careers in order to care for family members, be they children or elderly parents.

3. Women still make less money than their male counterparts.

Taking all these things into account, women have to take more steps in order to secure their financial future. This is where “Smart Women” comes in.

Prior to reading this book, I thought that I already had a pretty good grasp of my finances. I got my first job, took home my first paycheck, started saving everything I could. I got my first credit card. It was only upon reading “Smart Women” that it finally sank in that the things I did NOT know about money far outweighed the things that I did know. I knew inflation was a bad thing but didn’t know just how badly it could affect money lying stagnant in a savings account. I knew how the stock market worked but not how to go about making money in it. I didn’t know what a mutual fund was. I didn’t realize just how important having health insurance was. Through reading “Smart Women”, I found out all of these and much more. Most importantly, I found out how to make my money work for me.

“Smart Women” is geared towards personal finance newbies, with worksheets to accomplish and easy-to-understand text largely free of jargon. Because it is an introductory text, “Smart Women” doesn’t contain any “earth-shattering” revelations for someone who’s already well-versed in financial planning. Mr. Bach also makes frequent references to United States law, especially when discussing taxes, retirement accounts, and company benefits, but that doesn’t mean that you should skip those sections entirely. In fact, you should read those sections to find out how the US government is helping their citizens save money and prepare for retirement. Makes you wish that the Philippines had similar legislation.

The first thing I did after reading the book was analyze my financial situation and plans for the future. The second thing I did was to consult with a (well-off) friend in the finance sector and pick his brain regarding suitable places to invest in. The third thing I did was to put money away in a mutual fund. Prior to reading “Smart Women Finish Rich”, the future had always seemed to be something off in the distance that wouldn’t arrive for many, many years. The future is still a long way away, but that just means that I best start preparing for it now.