Recap: My 1st #BookwormsUnitePH – book haul, photo grabbing, & an ARC giveaway!

I can still recall the brief conversation I had with JM @ Book Freak Revelations when we bumped into each other last #AprilFeelsDay. While a lot of details about that conversation aren’t very vivid (because all the gods know that I have terrible, terrible long-term memory), I won’t ever forget his comment on my rare – let me stress that for you, rare – availability for book and blogger events because I am, and if I may quote JM, “usually busy with studies.”

And there is no greater truth, if I’m being honest. In my two and a half years of blogging, I have missed out on countless events and activities because of schedule conflicts, big exams, family occasions, and so on and so forth. With all that said, I am extremely delighted to inform all of you that: ya girl went to her second bookish event this year!!! (Is it so lame that this is a huge milestone and personal accomplishment for me? Yes, it is. But whatever.)

What bookish event was I lucky enough to attend this time? The highly anticipated Bookworms Unite PH, which is a wonderful get-together for Filipino readers and bookworms filled with fun activities, awesome games, and exciting bookish prizes and giveaways! For four years now, this event has been organized by a group of dedicated (and established – wink, wink!) Filipino bloggers, namely, JM @ Book Freak Revelations, Miel @ Bookish and Awesome, Inah @ The Bibliophile Confessions, Hazel @ Stay Bookish, and as of this year, Bianca @ The Ultimate Fangirl and Danica @ The Hogsmeade Reader. (I want to talk about their individual awesomeness, but I will definitely exceed the average reading span of the average millennial.)

Bookworms Unite PH (Year 4) was held on the 21st of July at the magnificent Rizal Library of Ateneo de Manila University. As a student from a neighboring university, I’ve been inside Ateneo’s campus a handful of times, but prior to this event, I had never gone inside their library – which easily became another thing for me to feel excited about. But I digress.

Without further ado, here’s my semi-cohesive, semi-sensible, semi-decently written event recap of Bookworms Unite PH! Prepare yourselves for a modest book haul, tons of photo-grabbing (because I am honestly far too lazy to take my own photos), SCREAMING IN ALL CAPS, and most of all, feelings. My heart is happy and full, y’all!

As evidenced by its event program, Bookworms Unite promised an incredibly fun-filled time with like-minded people with the same passions: books and reading(!!!). As the event drew closer and closer, I found myself feeling too many things all at once: shock, unease, and excitement. Irrelevant mini-babble: When I asked for my mother’s permission to attend the event, I was very shocked that she immediately said yes. Who would have thought that my parents would be okay with me doing a long commute from Pampanga to Metro Manila for books? It was a pleasant shock that didn’t really fade away even during the event itself, to be honest. I also felt pretty uneasy because only two-thirds of the ✨ Enablers ✨ would be attending Bookworms Unite (Cara and I really missed you, Kate!!!). But of course, all other emotions were greatly outweighed by my excitement!


Photo grabbed from @whimsy_wanders.

As I mentioned earlier, I commuted from Pampanga to the event venue in Ateneo. I met up with Fay @ Bibliophile Soprano and her sisters early in the morning, and together, we braved both the relentless rain and the nearly 2-hour commute. It was great to know that I wasn’t suffering alone – just kidding! Seriously, though, having travel buddies made the experience all the more bearable!

During registration, I officially met the wonderful Bianca in person! She’s every bit a glorious goddess in real life as she is in the online world, folks! I can confirm it. I also met the equally lovely Karina @ Afire Pages for the first time! But I digress.

Due to Cara’s series of misfortune (i.e. sudden dentist appointment and emergency work meeting on the morning of the event), I was left to my own devices and immediately fell into my usual ✨ socially awkward kamote ✨ state. I swear I was spending the bulk of the time greedily eyeing the stacks and stacks and stacks of books to be given away.

Luckily, that mostly changed (I mean, I was still ogling the books throughout the entire event, especially that beautiful ARC of Julie Kagawa’s Shadow of the Fox!!! 😭💖) when I spontaneously teamed up with the Makati sisters – Tessa and Marianne (they’re adorable together and I love them! ❤❤❤) – for the first game, Truths and a Lie: YA Edition (not a spoiler alert: we inevitably lost hard).


If it isn’t obvious enough, I was having a terrible hair day. But I digress. Here are a couple of selfies with Tessa and Marianne, which served as entries for the ‘Do it for the Gram’ challenge.

During “#sorrynotsorry, TBR”, JM, the unspoken and unrivaled star of the program, presented a number of upcoming YA titles for Fall 2018 – most of which I already knew about because of my recent bookish research endeavor (see: Books on the Rice Vol 1 and Vol 2). Naturally, seeing the gorgeous book covers of my most highly anticipated 2018 releases – specifically, Natasha Ngan’s Girls of Paper and Fire and Julie Kagawa’s Shadow of the Fox – made me feel giddy for all the right reasons.

However, I’d have to say that the biggest highlight of that session (and arguably, the entire day) was unexpectedly getting to meet Gail D. Villanueva, who was given a moment to talk about her upcoming middle grade debut, My Fate According to the Butterfly! I’ve repeatedly fangirl-ed hard about this MG novel with my girls (Cara @ The Little Miss Bookworm and Kate @ The Backwards Bookshelf). Make sure to add this book on Goodreads, by the way!

Gail is so sweet and so easy to talk to! I was really pleasantly surprised when she suddenly sat at our table and showed us the tentative book cover of her debut. I am very happy to announce that My Fate According to the Butterfly has a beautiful young Filipina on its cover! If you listen very closely, you’ll be able to hear the squeals of little kid Shealea who, at the tender age of 12, could only dream about books with people who looked like her on their covers. Now I’m 21 and my heart is brimming with joy for all the little Filipino kids who’ll get to personally identify with a story’s main character!

When lunch time came, Cara finally arrived and our group – Tessa, Marianne, Gail(!!!) (sorry I’m still stunned), and Cara – were wise enough to have our meal inside Ateneo’s campus, while everyone else dealt with the rain as they scavenged for food along the streets of Katipunan. While I was scarfing down a surprisingly hefty plate of pesto, we bonded over common bookworm woes (cough, Fully Booked special orders, cough), silly college stories, and book covers we mutually deemed to be horrendous and ugly. The last topic was particularly fun, given Gail’s expertise in graphic design – a.k.a. another reason why I totally love her.

Upon our return, the rest of the program flowed quite smoothly. We were greeted by an evocative slam poetry performance from Fay’s younger sister, Eliana. You can watch a snippet of her performance here and find more of her poetry on Instagram.

Afterwards, there were more games! Yay! In retrospect, I really regret not pushing through with writing that #BookwormsUnitePH reviewer – I mean, I tried to, but I accidentally fell asleep and felt too lazy to continue – because memories of that highly coveted ARC of Shadow of the Fox continue to haunt me until this very moment. I REALLY WANTED TO WIN THAT ARC, OKAY!!! I REALLY, REALLY DID. WITH ALL MY HEART AND ALL THE PIECES OF MY SOUL.

Okay, I’m fine I swear. I’m not crying. You are!

Although Young Adulting: A YA Trivia Game was another bitter defeat for my group (Tessa, Cara and me) as loosely prophesied by Cara (non-verbatim quote: “We’re here for the participation points!”) because we were all hilariously unprepared, the tables surprisingly turned for the better in the succeeding game. Yep, that’s right. Together with Tessa and Gail, we – much to our surprise – won 1st runner up in Guess the Cover Vol. 2!!! OH MY GOD!!!

It’s actually a pretty amusing story: We initially believed we didn’t make the cut, but once an arithmetic error in the computation was discovered (i.e. we thought the final round was worth 6 points per item instead of 10 points each), our little ragtag team of underdogs was suddenly catapulted to the top! In all our excitement and sheer shock, we totally forgot to take a photo of ourselves with our winnings. But whatever, we won! Yay!

Aside from our unexpected conquering in the battle of book covers (which briefly became an informal episode of ‘Shade the Book Cover’ that may or may not have been my fault – wink, wink), another unexpected highlight was Miel’s little surprise in the YA trivia game, which I’d like to believe was dedicated to me (😂).


Photo grabbed from The Oikonomos Nexus.

Yael from Lee Blauersouth’s Secondhand Origin Stories was one of the tie-breaker questions in the YA trivia game!!! You might recall that months ago, I worked with Lee in organizing the first ever blog tour for her brilliantly written debut novel about diverse teenage superheroes. My fellow Kapampangan Miel was actually one of the blog tour participants (in fact, you can read his insightful review) so it made me very glad to know that he enjoyed the book enough to include it in the game! If you’re still curious, I’ve written 9 reasons why reading Secondhand Origin Stories should be on your immediate priorities! (If you don’t need any more convincing, purchase a Kindle copy via Amazon.)

CORRECTION (25 July 2018): Yael from Secondhand Origin Stories was actually featured in the earlier game, Truths and a Lie. Thank you, Miel, for pointing out my lapse in memory! Like I said, I am too forgetful for my own good.

The final activity of the program was the highly anticipated book blind date! I initially considered bringing five books for exchange, but I ran out of wrapping paper after the second book. As expected, the book blind date was slightly chaotic and buzzing with energy. It was practically the extended edition of The Hunger Games.

For the blind date, the books I received were Breathing Underwater by Alex Finn and Stargazer by Claudia Gray. As an unapologetically picky reader, I decided to donate both of them instead of lugging them home with me. Oops.


Quick snapshots of my modest book haul and bookish goodies!

Regardless, I’m mostly very happy with my modest haul of five books. I said ‘mostly’ because I am still internally sobbing over the Shadow of the Fox ARC I unfortunately didn’t get. But I digress. Let’s go over all the books and bookish goodies I was able to receive from Bookworms Unite! (Note: Please acknowledge the tremendous lengths I underwent for the sake of having presentable photos. Photography really isn’t my thing.)

After registration, we were handed a tote bag that contained a notebook, personalized bookmarks, cute stickers and pins, and two ARCs. In mine, I found Richard Lawson’s All We Can Do Is Wait (released in Feb 2018) and Kim Liggett’s Heart of Ash (released in Feb 2018) – the former falls under YA contemporary, while the latter is a sequel to a romantic horror. Both titles are totally unfamiliar to me. I hope I like them!

Additionally, I’ve decided that after reading All We Can Do Is Wait and Heart of Ash, I’ll be passing them on to other readers. Yep, that’s right. I will be giving these lovely ARCs away to two Filipino bookworms! Ideally, I would like to give this chance to those who were unable to attend this year’s Bookworms Unite, but this awesome giveaway is open to any and all Filipino readers living in the Philippines. Yay(!!!).

If you’re interested in winning either of these ARCs, then you should definitely enter this giveaway! Knowing how much of an awful procrastinator and mood reader I am, I’m giving myself three months to read and review both of these titles; hence, the winners will be drawn on the 24th of October. Don’t miss out!

Despite still not having read Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes, I didn’t hesitate to pick up its recently released third book, A Reaper at the Gates, as my prize for winning 1st runner up in Guess the Cover. Coincidentally, the book was included in the game – and I got the answer right! Having this absolute beauty in my hands will definitely motivate me to get started on the series right away. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Sabaa Tahir’s work!

I was also lucky enough to get Sarah Glenn Marsh’s Reign of the Fallen, which is a book I’ve been eyeing for what feels like forever! I greatly enjoyed Sarah’s debut novel, Fear the Drowning Deep, so I’m hoping I’ll like this one just as much. (Plus, how can anyone not want a YA fantasy with necromancy and bisexual representation?)

Funnily enough, I was only able to get a hold of this book because someone aggressively pushed me away from the pile of books. Instead of grabbing the table to steady myself, my hand held onto Reign of the Fallen and I gracelessly fell to the floor. I guess some people really lack basic manners and proper decorum but whatever. I hope the practically stolen books of those god awful book hoarders fell into a rain puddle on their way home. And that is all the tea I’ll be spilling on this post, fam. ✨✨

Holly Bourne’s The Manifesto on How to be Interesting was a title that wasn’t from the event itself, but was one that I received from Hazel (whom I met in person for the first time and she’s every bit as lovely both online and offline!). I’ve also had my eye on this book for a while now, but I kept forgetting to buy a copy for myself. When I saw those red-stained pages, I just knew I had to have it!

All in all, my first ever Bookworms Unite PH was a whole lot more fun and excitement than I anticipated! To say I had a great time would be a huge understatement. More than the cool books and bookish goodies I was able to get, it’s truly the friends I’ve made and the memories I’ve made with them that I will hold most dearly. No exaggerations here, but I am so grateful to have found such a warm and welcoming community I can be my book-crazy self in. I hope to see more of these familiar faces in succeeding bookish events!


Photo grabbed from Tessa (@life_books_me).


Notice how I had to slightly squat because Gail and Cara are significantly shorter than me. Photo grabbed from Cara (@littlemsbookwrm).


Photo grabbed from Bookworms Unite PH (@bookwrmsuniteph).

Event recaps from other attendees:
{ JM @ Book Freak Revelations | Ailla @ Le Bibliophile | Fay @ Bibliophile Soprano | Kyra & Nikki @ Book Allure | Gel @ Whimsy Wanders | Ella @ The Bookish Goddess }

Before I end this post, let me just remind y’all that, as I mentioned earlier, I am giving away ARCs of Richard Lawson’s All We Can Do Is Wait and Kim Liggett’s Heart of Ash to two (2) Filipino readers! In order to be included in the online raffle draw:

And that’s it. Thank you very much to the hardworking organizers, to all the event sponsors, and to Ateneo de Manila University for making this wonderful, memorable event possible for Filipino bookworms! Until next time!

Twitter: @bookshelfbitchTumblrInstagramGoodreadsBloglovin’

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Published by

Shealea

First of her name. Queen of lists and spreadsheets. Protector of books. Breaker of norms. Iskolar ng bayan.

24 thoughts on “Recap: My 1st #BookwormsUnitePH – book haul, photo grabbing, & an ARC giveaway!”

  1. Bookworms Unite sounds like a very great event, too bad I couldn’t come since I’m from Laguna 😭 But oh well still hoping I could come someday. I would like to win All We Can Do Is Wait by Richard Lawson 💕

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  2. The event looks SUUPER fun and I’m suuper inggit huhu 😭✨ I hope I’ll be able to attend a bookish event in the future, or like one would be held here in Cebu.

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  3. I REALLY WANTED TO JOIN THIS EVENT 😭 I’m glad there’s an event like this for Filipino bookdragons. Great recap! I’m joining your ARC giveaway btw and I would love to have Heart of Ash 😊

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  4. Wow, okay. This recap is a whole new level of awesome, Shealea! Again, I’m so, so, sorry for what had happened with the raffle prizes. This has been one of our main problems every year and I hope someday, we’ll be able to remedy this. But setting that aside, I’m so glad you had a good time at your first BU! And I hope to see you again soon. And okay, wait. “JM, the unspoken and unrivaled star of the program…” THIS IS GOLD. Thank you. I like your boots! ❤

    Love, JM

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  5. Shealea!!!

    Love your recap! hihi really wished we got to talk more last time but definitely next meetup? 🙂

    Would like to get All We Can Do Is Wait by Richard Lawson, if ever (saw this on the pile last time but I had my eyes on the other titles haha!)

    Anyway, lovely seeing you and hope to catch up soon!

    hugs,
    Ailla 🙂

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  6. Great recap, Shealea! It made me regret not to attend this year’s event (due to bad weather HUHUHUHUHU) and it made me bitterly jealous!! Also, I felt bad that I wasn’t able to meet you and Cara. HUHUHUHUHU I’m still in agony 😭😭😭 Hope to meet you soon!

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