Bookish Weekend: #PLF2015 (+ giveaway!)

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I had a blast this weekend geeking out on books, author and illustrator encounters, and more at National Book Store’s Philippine Literary Festival in Raffles Makati.

I was determined to attend the LitFest this year because I missed the 2014 LitFest (which featured Amy Tan and Chang-Rae Lee) while I was in China. I still missed Day 1 this year (mainly because I’ve filed too many book-related leaves this year already and it’s peak season at work), so by Saturday I was raring to go — I was there bright and early, in time for the first session.

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James Frey in Manila

B8vjQxHCQAAGfHm(photo via https://twitter.com/nbsalert/)

On Sunday, I got to chat with New York Times bestselling author James Frey and was quite surprised to find that he was a jeans-and-shirt kind of guy, joking around with his fans (some of whom he was already on a first-name basis with!) and gamely signing books for the waitress that served our coffee.

While his reputation precedes him, I admittedly I have never read any of James Frey’s books (“A Million Little Pieces,” “My Friend Leonard,” and “Bright Shiny Morning,” nor any of the Pittacus Lore books). I read the first of his new YA trilogy “Endgame: The Calling” (which he co-wrote with  Nils Johnson-Shelton) and found it quite enjoyable.

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Philippine Literary Festival

Print Ad - The Philippine Literary Festival 2014 (6x30)
I will be away for most of next week, and one thing I am really bummed about missing is the Philippine Literary Festival, which happens on October 23-25 at Raffles Makati.

Presented by National Book Store and Raffles Makati, the festival features three days of book signings, discussions and panels about books and literature, and the best thing about it is that admission is FREE!

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Stephanie Perkins in Manila (+ giveaway!)

Last Sunday, in true “Anna and the French Kiss” style, I had lunch at a French boulangerie with none other than New York Times Bestselling YA author Stephanie Perkins!

Stephanie Perkins’ popular debut novel “Anna and the French Kiss” (hailed as NPR’s Best Teen Reads 2010 and CYBILS Finalist for YA Fiction in 2011) features Anna Oliphant, who is shipped off by her parents to a boarding school in Paris. Struggling to adapt to her new environment, Anna reluctantly makes new friends, including Etienne St. Clair. Anna and Etienne grow closer together, but Anna is afraid to confront her true feelings for Etienne because he is already in a relationship.

Meanwhile, “Lola and the Boy Next Door” (included in the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults 2012 and the ALA Book List 2013) is set in San Francisco, where budding designer Lola Nolan is confronted by her past with the return of her next door neighbor (and first heartbreak), Cricket Bell. Lola is beset by a turbulent storm of emotions as she tries to deal with Cricket’s renewed presence in her life, her relationship with her unconventional family, and her own identity.

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Jenny Han in Manila

Jenny Han Photo

I got to interview New York Times bestselling YA author Jenny Han during her Philippine book signing tour this weekend, something I had been looking forward to after finishing her latest novel, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.”

“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is about Lara Jean Song, who writes secret letters to each boy she has ever loved as a way of moving on and purging them out of her system. To Lara Jean’s mortification, her letters somehow disappear and get sent out, making their way to five boys, including her next door neighbor Josh, who happens to be her sister’s boyfriend.

I’m not sure if it’s some unspoken rite of passage among teenage girls, but I wrote these kinds of letters at that age, too (some I actually sent, some I still keep, but they will never see the light of day! :D), and I’m sure countless of other readers have done it as well. Lara Jean is perhaps on the young side of 16 compared to heroines of the same age in other YA novels, but I found all her little quirks charming, and I think ultimately more relatable, at least for the young Filipino reader. I enjoyed the candidness of the writing, the heartfelt emotion behind the words, and how the novel successfully captures high school awkwardness, boy crushes, friendship, cultural identity, and family.

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