2015 Highlights

2015 was a wonderful year! I had a great time in all 12 months! In this post, I’m sharing with you 4 things that indeed made my 2015 unforgettable.

I got a job! 

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After a year of being jobless, I had the opportunity to work at the Public Relations and Marketing department of an international school here in the Philippines. In my 8-month stay in the institution, I learned a lot about publicity and the ins and outs of marketing.

The opportunity to read amazing books by equally amazing debut authors

Books such as All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, and The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi truly made a huge mark in my life. ❤

Bookish events and bonding with blogger friends

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Book signing events are the ultimate get-together with blogger friends. We don’t see each other often so those events are reunions for us. Can’t wait for more bonding moments in 2016! 🙂

Speaking about book blogging 

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It was my first time to be part of a panel discussion on book blogging last November 28. It was a lot of fun! I was with Kai of Amaterasu Reads, Kate of The Bookaholic Blurbs, and Hazel of Stay Bookish. We shared tips on writing good book reviews, establishing social media presence, choosing a blogging platform, and a lot more to bookworms and aspiring book bloggers!

Procuring a newfound love for local television shows

I haven’t watched a single Filipino TV show in years (I was 13 or 15 when I last watched one!), and all it took was one show to break the long streak. Hailed as “2015’s Most Romantic Teleserye (television series)”, On The Wings of Love (OTWOL) captured the hearts of many including mine. When teasers for OTWOL started to air on TV, I thought it was very promising. But then I didn’t plan on watching it because I’m not really into local shows. One night, I was flipping through channels in search for a good show and I chanced upon an episode of OTWOL. So I watched it, and my, was I very impressed! It was love at first watch! I adored the storytelling, the great acting, the spot on portrayal of Filipino values and culture, and most of all, the swoon-worthy, heart-melting love story of main characters Clark Medina (James Reid) and Leah Olivar (Nadine Lustre). The characters made me believe that true love is worth the wait. ❤  I won’t say much about the show to avoid spoilers! Watching OTWOL is like reading adult fiction that has YA feels! 🙂 If you wish to know more about On The Wings of Love, head over to the show’s website here.

 

Thank you 2015 and Hello 2016!

Happy New Year everyone! 🙂

 

 

The Lifelong Bookworm’s Best Books of 2015

Hi guys! Today I’m sharing with you the books that impressed me this year because of their awesomeness. These books are dear to me! Without further ado, I now present you The Lifelong Bookworm‘s Best Books of 2015! 🙂

 

All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

“Brimming with the brightest of hopes and the darkest of heartaches, All the Bright Places is a memorable tale of love, loss, and the beauty of being alive.” (Full review here.)

 

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Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

“An effervescent and uplifting coming of age story, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is a spectacular book that fills your heart with the warm glow of infinite bliss.” (Full review here.)

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The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

“An outstanding second novel from a talented author, The Start of Me and You is pure heart and soul and the best kind of perfect.” (Full review here.)

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The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

“Bursting with the brightest intensity of awesomeness, The Wrong Side of Right is an extraordinary debut novel that warms the heart in every beautiful way.” (Full review here.)

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

“Sparkling with the glamour of timeless magic, A Court of Thorns and Roses is a phenomenal first book in a new series that everyone is sure to love!” (Full review here.)

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The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

“Gleaming with heartfelt moments and the brightest of possibilities, The Night We Said Yes is a remarkable debut novel that beautifully captures the core of love, friendship, and second chances in a magical and unforgettable way.” (Full review here.)

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Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

“Instilled with surprising discoveries and hopeful beginnings, Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between is brilliance and heart in one exceptional novel.” (Full review here.)

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Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

“Brimming with optimism and profound clarity, Every Last Word is a remarkable novel that you need to add to your TBR pile!” (Full review here.)

*All book covers from Goodreads

How about you, fellow bookworms? What are your best books for this year? Share them on the comment section below! 🙂

It’s Becky & Simon Day on The Lifelong Bookworm!

Hello bookish people! Today, April 7th, is momentous because author Becky Albertalli’s debut novel, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, is now out in the wild! Hooray! Grab a copy, will you? It is worth reading! I promise. 🙂 But in case you need more convincing, you might want to check out my 5-star review here. For the love of Becky and Simon, I came up with an idea for a blog event to honor their day. Well, this is it! Happy Becky & Simon Day, everyone! *throws confetti* I hope you guys enjoy the contents of this post. 🙂

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The awesome Becky Albertalli talks about writing, Simon, Oreos (YUM!), and more in this exclusive interview!

 

View More: http://thedecisivemoment.pass.us/becky-headshots

Photo credit: Decisive Moment Events

 

At what age did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer. That being said, my ambitions have been a little all over the place, and I figured author would go the way of my other dream careers (among them: veterinarian, actress, director, teacher, and pet store employee). But my interest in writing has always been there, even when I took a different path in grad school, where I trained as a clinical psychologist.

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Every writer has a writing process. Could you please describe yours?

In many ways, I think I’m still learning my process! When I wrote SIMON, worked in almost total isolation – almost no one knew I was writing, and the first person to read it was the critique partner I met on Absolute Write (still my CP, and now also one of my closest friends!). Book two has actually been a completely different experience. I’m connected to a much broader swath of the writing and publishing community, so the book has received feedback at several stages from my editor, agent, and several friends and critique partners. It also feels very different writing this book, knowing that it’s actually going to be published! Admittedly, it’s been hard for me to separate that process from everything that’s happening with SIMON.

 

What is it about young adult fiction that prompted you to write your own YA book? 

There’s so much to love about YA. For me, I’m drawn to the immediacy of teen stories – it’s such a confusing, heart-wrenching, butterflies-in-the-stomach kind of time. It’s really special to be able to reconnect with some of those feelings and experiences. I think I love working with real-life teenagers for the same reasons.

 

Which YA authors do you look up to?

There are so many authors I admire! Right now, I am completely in awe of the We Need Diverse Books team, who are among the most passionate, committed, and talented people I’ve ever met. I had the opportunity to catch a glimpse behind the scenes of WNDB, and I’m constantly blown away by how hard these authors work to fight for desperately-needed changes in this industry. Their impact has been immeasurable, and it’s been thrilling and humbling to watch it happen.

 

Name three of your all-time favorite YA books.

-THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky

-THE YEAR OF SECRET ASSIGNMENTS by Jaclyn Moriarty

-I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson

 

How did the idea for Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda come about?

It’s interesting: I feel like the story and Simon’s voice just sort of came to me – sometimes I didn’t know what was going to happen in the book until I wrote it. It’s only now that I can look back and attempt to trace its influences. I see shades of You’ve Got Mail, THE YEAR OF SECRET ASSIGNMENTS (one of my all-time favorites, mentioned above), and, oddly, a musical by Jason Robert Brown called 13. But SIMON is kind of its own thing. I have no idea where the idea came from, honestly!

 

How long did it take you to write Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda?

SIMON took me about four or five months to write, with another month spent editing and working with my critique partner. I believe I started the book in June of 2013, and queried in early November.

 

What would you like readers to learn from Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda?

Interesting question! I feel pretty strongly that readers are entitled to their own interpretations of the book, and that those interpretations are more important, in the end, than my intentions as an author. However, I’ll say that writing the book helped me organize some of my own thoughts about privilege and the tendency to view majority groups (straight, white, cisgender, etc.) as defaults.

 

Main character Simon Spier is gay. What was it like writing from the perspective of a teenage gay character? Did someone you know in real life inspire him?

It felt very natural for me writing from the perspective of a gay teenage boy! Part of that probably comes from working for so many years with LGBTQIA kids and teenagers as a psychologist, but I’m very careful not to base any characters on therapy clients. I would say Simon is pretty similar to me – he’s just much funnier and more charming.

 

Simon is a theater kid. What song from a Broadway musical best describes his personality?

This is one of my favorite questions I’ve ever been asked! I’m going to go with “My Junk” from Spring Awakening. I don’t know if it describes his personality, exactly, but there’s something so Simon about this song. I interpret it to be about that almost obsessive romantic fantasy life you have sometimes when you’re a teenager – the way you carry thoughts of your crush around with you everywhere. Simon’s feelings for Blue are like that.

 

You have a great love for Oreos (so does Simon!). If you were given an opportunity to customize an Oreo flavor inspired by your book, what would it be? What would you call it?

My custom Oreo flavor would be Classic Oreos with extra crème, and I would call them Double Stuf. 🙂 Simon and I are total traditionalists when it comes to Oreos. If I HAD to put my own spin on them, I might change their shape to the iconic SIMON text bubble – but I refuse to interfere with the perfection of their flavor.

 

You are one of the friendliest authors on Twitter! Book bloggers love interacting with you. What was your reaction when people started to express their excitement for Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda on the social media site?

What a nice thing to say! I’ve had an absolute blast getting to know members of this amazing community on Twitter. I’m always so surprised (and a little excited) when people approach me like I’m famous. I’m so not famous! I’m sitting here next to a stack of diapers and breast pump accessories. 🙂 But I’ve been so thrilled by the response so far to SIMON. I feel so lucky that his character has connected with so many people, and that others are looking forward to meeting him. When people get Simon, it makes me feel like they get me!

 

What are your best moments so far in your publishing journey? 

The whole thing has been a publishing fairy tale, honestly, and there have been so many wonderful moments. Some of the highlights: accepting my agent’s offer of representation, my first phone call with my editor, getting to know my publishing teams at Harper, Penguin, and my other publishers abroad (I’ve even become friends with my amazing French translator at Hachette Romans, Mathilde Bouhon!), reading my first reviews, getting blurbs from some of my favorite authors, getting to know other debut authors and seeing my friends’ books in bookstores…

If I had to pick one favorite, I’d say it was the amazing weekend I spent in Nashville with my best author friends: Adam Silvera, Jasmine Warga, and David Arnold.

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And finally, what writing advice would you like to share to aspiring writers? 

I know the classic advice is to keep reading – and that’s so incredibly important. To add to that, I’d say it’s so helpful to become a close observer of your own life. Fall in love, hang out with kids, hang out with old people, tell stupid jokes, laugh, make out, be lazy, argue, eavesdrop, daydream – and then spend an extra moment processing it all. Everything I like about my own writing comes from this process of integrating my own experiences.

Connect with Becky on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Website

 

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Next up on this special blog event is a guest post from the extraordinary SIMON SPIER. Take it away, Si!

 

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Greetings from Simon! Cute drawing by Becky Albertalli. 🙂

Here’s the thing: Oreos are freaking delicious and music is freaking awesome, and they should always be consumed together. Because I love you so much (and especially because I don’t feel like studying for a history quiz), I’m going to give you some very important guidelines for your eating and listening pleasure. So, with no further ado, I present:

 

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  1. Between the Bars by Elliott Smith/Oreo fudge bars (http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2014/08/oreo-fudge-bars-recipe.html)
  2. Heard Them Stirring by the Fleet Foxes/ Oreos stirred with milk
  3. Black Sand by Jenny Lewis/Finely ground Oreos
  4. Tower Song by Martha Wainwright/tall stack of Oreos
  5. Time to Pretend by MGMT/ Golden Oreos
  6. Frozen by Tegan and Sara/Oreo ice cream
  7. Dark Matter by Andrew Bird/Oreo butter (http://www.thekitchenpaper.com/oreo-cookie-butter/)
  8. Things That Scare Me by Neko Case/Watermelon Oreos

 

Wow! Who would have thought that eating Oreos could have a soundtrack? ONLY SIMON! 🙂 Thanks for sharing such a brilliant playlist, buddy!

 

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In celebration of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda‘s book birthday today, I’m giving away a FINISHED HARDCOVER COPY of the book! The giveaway is open to Philippine residents only. I’m so sorry international followers! 😦

Please click on the link below to be directed to the Rafflecopter form:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Huge thanks to the ever amazing and generous HarperCollins Publishers for the giveaway copy!

ARC Review: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

19547856Title: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Author: Becky Albertalli

Publication date: April 7, 2015

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Pages: 320

Source: ARC gifted by author (Thank you, Becky Albertalli!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked / National Book Store

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

A MUST-READ debut this year, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda explores the issue of sexuality and the idea of “coming out”. It is an LGBT novel that would appeal to YA fans of all ages regardless of gender and sexual orientation. The book brilliantly conveys the essence of bravery that inspires readers to take a leap of faith no matter how frightening it seems. It may be difficult at the beginning, but it’s something you’d be proud to have done. Being true to who you are is the best gift you’ll ever give to yourself. Don’t be afraid to come out to the world. Be the YOU that you want to be and that’s all that matters.

With a captivating and genuine voice, Simon Spier is a one of a kind character who is like an actual friend. Despite the fact that he’s fictional, Simon is the best gay friend I ever had. He’s geeky, witty, smart, ruminative, and easy to identify with! If Simon were a living, breathing person, we’d definitely bond over Classic Oreos, theater, Harry Potter, and golden retrievers! Ahhhhh! I want to hug him so badly! 🙂 The secondary characters—Simon’s family, friends, and cast mates in the stage play he’s part of—are all incredible. Their diverse qualities added extra appeal to the story’s already striking flavor. Also, the portrayal of friendship in Simon is remarkably realistic. Readers would see how characters deal with changes, how they handle misunderstandings, and every single thing that friends go through. Certainly just like in real life!

Coated with the mouth-watering sweetness of Oreo cookies, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda has a super adorable, grin inducing, and flail worthy sort of romance. Believe me, you’d be smiling and releasing happy sighs most of the time. Before Simon and Blue met in person, they’ve been communicating through email, both without knowledge of one another’s true identities. Intriguing, right? But what impressed me was how their love story developed over email. They started out very friendly, which was so cute by the way! You know, with both characters exchanging funny stories and stuff about themselves that they’ve never shared to anyone. Their emails were such a delight to read! It was marvelous to witness two people chat and confide in each other comfortably, even if they only have a vague mental picture of whom they are talking to. Oh and the blackmail plot is very engaging. It was actually a great way to set the story in motion! I was hooked from page one!

As time went by, the friendship Simon and Blue built transformed into something deeper, something that involves romantic feelings that would definitely put any reader in a good mood. So if you want to experience all the fluffy, butterflies in your tummy, sparks are flying, walking on sunshine feels, READ THIS BOOK! The highlight of the romance was of course the mystery and suspense of finding out who Blue is. Oh my goodness! I was really keen on discovering his real name and what he looks like! In fact, I had two prospects, yet both of which were not Blue! So the revelation was quite a surprise to me because the person was my least expected one. But for all that, Simon and Blue’s first face-to-face meeting was absolute perfection and pure joy. I was very glad with how things turned out for them!

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda depicts the complex yet amazing teenage experience with utmost ease and authenticity. To me, that’s the core of YA contemporary—being able to reflect reality in a believable way. So two thumbs up for that!

Becky Albertalli’s writing is a breath of fresh air! Reading Simon was like meeting someone very fascinating, thus, harboring a desire to know that person more. Clever and entertaining, Becky’s words glue your eyes onto the page. She brings on the feels that are incredibly natural and oh so wonderful! For sure, Becky is on my list of auto-buy/auto-read/favorite authors. 🙂

An effervescent and uplifting coming of age story, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda is a spectacular book that fills your heart with the warm glow of infinite bliss.

 

Rating:

5/5 stars