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I am not sure what happened on January 2018, but for whatever reason, I have been indulging in literature in all forms and genres. Today, I have completed 56 books in four months. This is crazy because I always considered myself a slow reader and a typical Los Angeles resident who have absolutely no time but to hustle and sleep.

Maybe it is the love of cinema. After all, I do work in the entertainment industry and not for the glitter and glamour, but for the craft and art. How does loving cinema translate to books? Well, most movies tend to get their scripts from source materials such as books and graphic novels.


Maybe it is because I got over myself in thinking listening to audiobooks is some sort of "cheating." I'm not the only one who thought this! People ask about how I consumed so many books in short amount of time. When I told them I do a combination of audio listening and reading, I get a side-eye. The way I see it is this; if reading to your child is beneficial, how is it different to you listening? And if a student can learn from a lecture, how is it different than you popping in an audiobook, putting on earbuds and taking in information that way?


But I digress...




Any ways, I have been asked to list the books I recommend (and not recommend.) Haven't decided if I should do the latter. After all, it is personal choice and  I would want some author to have a chance. Maybe you can just review on my on going book list and see how I rated them.





 
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Alright, let's cut to the chase: READ THIS BOOK! I have seen this cover pop up in and around the time it was first published. Yes, the illustration caught my eye as how many times do we see a woman of color be the warrior heroine. Plus it came out around the time of Black Panther so coming off the high of one of my newly favorite movies, this fit into the flow of things.
 
 
"Children of Blood and Bone" features Zelie Adebola, a woman warrior and a maji whose magic powers went silent and those who did not possess such power, over turned the advantaged towards them and is ruled by a ruthless king who has no sympathy or compassion for majis.
 
 
This book is full of action, jump starting off from chapter 1! And look at this...
 

 
There is a map and a list of clans who are connected to orishas from the Yoruba and Ifa culture.
ANYTIME THERE IS A MAP AND A LIST OF CLANS, YOU KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO EXPERIENCE AN EPIC FANTASY BATTLE!

Tell me I'm wrong!
 
 
 
 
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If you know me personally, then you know my love of zombies. (In fact, come to think of it, a book in the zombie genre is what started me reading but more on that later.) So what happens if the zombie outbreak happened during the Reconstruction Era of US history?

This is such a unique take on the genre not only because of the time period it is taken place ("Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" being a twist on a period piece). Ireland created a whole world and set of politics influenced by the political structure it had at the time. It's believable as well as being original. This also has strong young women character leads. Like The Walking Dead, there are ample zombie scenes but the monsters lie on the people who are living.
 
 
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Also if you know me, you would know that I love mermaids! I was first told of Han's Christian Anderson's Little Mermaid and it FUCKED me up. I remember it not being fair for the Little Mermaid and that she was dealt with a bad card in love. I also thought it was lame that she gave up her life as a princess for someone who isn't the same species as you.
 
But I digress...
 
This is a twisted version of that story and in this world, there is a battle between the residents of the sea and those who reside on land. When I read it, I was thinking of the same feeling as the Underworld movies- dark, chilling, sexy.
 
Sirens who hunt men of royalty... game on.
 
 
 
MONSTRESS Book 1 and 2 (2 pictured)
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Art by
 
 
 
A tiny part (ok, a good part of me)  of me is proud of myself for encouraging people to read "Children of Blood and Bone". I've been updating my circle throughout the five days that I was reading it and generated enough interest to count about 15 people to read the book.
 
Here starts the book exchange.

I exchanged COBB with a local artist/poet Jade Phoenix Martinez and in return, she lent me Monstress, a graphic novel series written by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, both women who are strong forces in the comic book industry.
 
This book is set in an alternate world where it is the 1900's Asia and magic and matriarchy ruled. The lead is Maika Half Wolf, a teenage girl seeking out revenge for the murder of her mother and to figure out how to get rid of (or live with) the demon that she shares her body with.
 


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I mentioned earlier that a zombie movie got me to pick up the source material and novel that the movie is based on.
 
First of all, please watch "The Girl with All the Gifts." It is one of my favorite take on the zombie genre. I absolutely fell in love with the main character, Melanie, played by Sennia Nanua.
 
Because I loved the movie so  much, I had to read the book because we all know that the book is better than the movie. The book and the movie pretty much stayed on the same vein but the book added a couple of more threats to the storyline.
 
 


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Lastly, to round off (this quarter's) book list on what novels of bad ass women to read- "The Power" by Naomi Alderman. I grabbed this book at the Vroman's booth at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.


 This book caught my attention be design (I can't help this! I am a designer and artist by profession) and the synopsis and accolades got my attention. One of President Obama's favorite books? Top 10 books of 2017? I'm in!

What happens when all teenage girls acquired an ancient power by a dormant organ where they can shoot electricity from the palms of their hands? What happens when they can awaken that power in older women and that baby girls born into this world have that ability too? What does that world look like when women all of a sudden have a deadly power and what does that mean to that world that historically has been largely patriarchal?

I read this book in three days. So happy to hear that it is being adapted to TV. This author also has Margaret Atwood as a mentor. Atwood is the author of the book "The Handmaid's Tale" which is now a critically-acclaimed television series. Talk about queens helping other queens with their crowns!


Picture by Mab Graves Instagram @mabgraves

I remember when my friend, Stephanie Takemoto , introduced me to Mab Graves' work. Her big-eyed children, innocent and whimsical, and all painted so small.

We would sit around for hours looking through her work. Some of her works-in-progess would be documented in short 10 second clips.

"Is she really painting with a paint brush that looks like it is one strand thick?"

It appears so and the results are amazing. Seriously I can look at her painting process all day.

What is exciting today is that her first ever Dunny collaboration with Kidrobot drops today! Look how adorable they are. One of the best parts of this collectable: it's flocked!

Now as of 11am Pacific Time, the pink dreamer has been sold out but you can find other outlets to find it. You can go to kidrobot's site and order the more limited edition blue dreamer. 200 of them has been made and you can only get it at the site!


Picture by Mab Graves Instagram @mabgraves
 
Café 86 (not to be confused by 85°C Café just a block away) is a café and dessert spot tucked away in the alleyway, Mills Rd right by the Dog Bakery and across the way from Equator. I've been seeing these ube pastries in Instagram and I knew I had to find my way east from LA to try out their desserts.

Filipino tastes and cuisines have been steadily making an impact in LA and it is beautiful to see those flavors now getting some sort limelight. One of the frustrating things growing up Filipina in a city where we are everywhere is being virtually invisible to mainstream. Places like Café 86 are being unapologetic about introducing our flavors as well as being fearless in experimenting and straying away from traditional standards.
 


 
Take for instance the ube cupcake topped with leche flan. Here you have the melding of two favorite desserts into one bite. Now it does get hard to eat it both at the same time as the flan tends to slide off so I found that going back and forth is easier than trying to eat it all at once.

They have a menu full of coffee drinks but being that it was my first time there, I wanted to try as much ube flavored things as possible. The monster shakes are matcha and ube with Oreo cookie blended in. It is delicious, thick and heavy.
 
The ube cheesecake is just as good- creamy and rich with a cookie crumble on top.

Café 86 is worth the trip and the stay. Enjoy coffee and dessert over a great conversation or bring in your laptop to do some quick work.
 
Café 86
36 W Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91105



Monday
10AM–8PM
Tuesday10AM–8PM
Wednesday10AM–8PM
Thursday10AM–8PM
Friday10AM–10PM
Saturday11AM–10PM
Sunday11AM–7PM
 

 
 




One of the perks of living in a city that much of the businesses and commerce revolve around the entertainment industry is being able to watch a free advanced screening of an upcoming theatrical.

Now I am not going to do a review on Moana that is from an academic or political standpoint or a from a filmmaking POV. I've had discussions and read critical-thinking posts about Moana, thought about them and kept those thoughts in my pocket as I watched it. So first thing to remember, it is a cartoon, an animation, a crew of hundreds interpretation of a story based on folklore.

I went to see it because decades later past my childhood, I get to see a Disney heroine I can relate to. I saw MY face and faces of my family on an animated feature. I saw an island, sky and ocean of a land so familiar to me. I heard accents that make me smile because it made me thought of my grandmother and my auntie and my cousins in Oahu.

Now let me first say that I am not Polynesian but Filipino. The fact of my people being Pacific Islander is also debatable. But many Filipinos migrating of the Republic of the Philippines find their way in the Pacific Ocean and find home in areas similar to the climate they are used to. Hawaii being one of them. Hey, it makes sense to me! My family is part of the island where the front yard is a jungle and the backyard is the ocean. I can see why my family would want to make a home in Hawaii.

Moana is a 14 year old daughter of a chief. Rather than following her blood right and take position in ruling her village, she listened to a soul-calling that only got louder and more pronounced through the movie. She was unapologetically brown, athletic, both hard-headed and soft-hearted. I so appreciated seeing this heroine maintain her warrior spirit and her feminine energy.

Maui played by Duane Johnson on the other hand, was opposite of Moana. He was arrogant and exudes confidence, AND FREAKIN' HILARIOUS! I know there was controversy on how they drew Maui, making him look like an obese islander but I didn't get that from him. In fact, I loved that character! He was a complex character which gets revealed little by little throughout the movie.

As I stated earlier, representation is very important and Maui reminds me of many men who have his stature and aesthetics. Like everything else, beauty standards need to be challenged in both sexes. Why does Maui have to be an exact replica of The Rock when we already have references of hot islander men like the Rock, Dave Bautista and Jason Mamoa? Why can't someone like Maui, drawn the way that he is, is also seen as worthy for representation?


"Moana", in true Disney fashion is filled with awesome songs. I am already looking towards buying the soundtrack! One of the best surprises in which I had no clue was going to be in the movie, is Jehmaine Clements of "Flight of the Conchords!" His song is hilarious!!



Overall, I enjoyed the movie very much. Sure there was academic and political debates going on for proper representation on Polynesian culture but I feel Disney is getting better in doing their research and having a good mix of entertainment and proper representation. And sure they had trouble in September when they released a Maui brown-skin suit for Halloween but with no debate and resistance, they pulled it off the shelves as soon as they saw the PI community was not happy with it.

All I know, is that many ambiguously brown Asian and Islander girls like me can cuddle up with a doll at night that would look exactly like them.

I know I am way past childhood, but I intend to collect all the Asian and Pacific Islander toys that I can.

I get to see Moana one more time on opening night and this time, I will be on the look out for Easter Eggs.


On November 17th, 2016, Too Fly NYC had a one night pop-up shop at Open Space Gallery and Coffeeshop on Fairfax Avenue. I have loved her work since 2000 when sites like Migente.com and Myspace.com made the world smaller. Her work is undeniably hip-hop and unapologetically feminine. She gave a spotlight to all the "Round A Way Gurls" who are often looked over at a time when it is a normally male-dominated scene. The women she painted is relatable to me, some looking like me or people who are close to me. I've always loved the attitude the women in her paintings, murals and illustrations exuded.

Not too long ago, she moved to Ecuador and her current work is a reflection of her introspection and experience. She started adding more elements of nature and indigenous culture in her subjects, many of which now has a spiritual essence to them. She rightfully calls this current series the "Love Warriors," the same Round A Way Gurl but this time grown up and more evolved and having more angles to their being. Messages of freedom and liberation are now expressed in her work. 

Too Fly is currently in LA for Designer Con in Pasadena. Catch her there or purchase her prints at Open Space LA at 457 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036.

Check out her links:
IG: toofly_nyc



The wall across the coffee bar

Native Soul: Limited bring: $100

Moon Flower: Limited edition color print: $150

Free Spirit: Limited edition print: $150

Free Spirit (B&W): Limited edition print: $100






These prints are $50


With the artist, Too Fly






The concept of the coaster show first came to my radar with La Luz de Jesus and the popularity just took off. The concept is easy; Grab one of those free beer coasters that you get from local bars and create art on it. It's a good challenge for the artists and it is a great way to publicize the beer and upcycle something that is normally tossed at the end.

I have participated in a few coaster shows thanks to Thumbprint Gallery in San Diego. It's super fun and more inclusive than most art shows, allowing more artists to participate.

The concept of small works in accessible everyday items used as canvas is not new. Giant Robot has their annual popular Post-It Shows at Giant Robot in West LA. The art show is "egalitarian" meaning that pieces are priced at a set amount and the folks participating are from emerging to established. It is a great way for a person to collect original work from their favorite artists but not breaking the bank.

I decided to host one of our own egalitarian art shows at Public Beer and Wine shop in Long Beach for their August Show. The Beer Coaster Art Show (I know. It's not the most creative of names but it tells you what it is.) will start this Friday, August 12th, 2016 from 7pm-midnight. All of the work is no higher than $40 which makes it affordable for aspiring art collectors. This is also a way for artists to exercise their creativity in a low stress manner and with the free canvases, they may showcases as many as they want.

Stay tuned to this page as I update the pieces and their prices. I can take Paypal and Venmo. Shipping and handling is at the buyer's expense.




The last show for the summer!

August art show at Public Beer and Wine is...

The Beer Coaster Art Show
Artwork done on beer coasters by different artists from
Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and San Diego!

No pieces are more than $40 so come by and start your original art collection!

Featured Artists:
Divina Amala
Miguel Ortega Miguel Ortega
Yesenia Lopez Yesenia Lopez
Edmundo A. Duran Edmundo A. Duran
Erica Friend Erica Friend
Josiah Castillo Josiah Castillo Josiah Deadflowers
Lance Morris Lance Morris
Carolyn Ramos aka Somoramos Carolyn Ramos
Pauline Carrasco Cuevas Pauline Carrasco Cuevas
Victorio Villa Victorio Villa
Delmar Antonio Delmar Antonio
SHERM 
NoctyInk Ornelas NoctyInk Ornelas
Norman de los Santos Norman de los Santos
Shahid Brown Shahid Brown
Summer Bernal Summer Bernal
Poetic Z Patricia Marie Poston
Jo Anna Mixpe Ley Jo Anna Mixpe Ley
Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
Ash Viray Ash Viray
Mike Stache Mike Stache
Marine Bleu Herevia Marine Bleu Herevia
Naomi Sanders Valdivia Naomi Sanders Valdivia
Tanya Rose Tanya Rose
Jaguar Arteseno Jaguar Artesano
Robert Enriquez  Robert Enriquez
Michael Buntyn
Nancy Pham 
Donovan Lackey
Kristian Kabuay of Baybayin.com 
Esperanza Darden
Brigitta Jones
Samantha Mousser
Dazer One
 
Thriller!




More to be added...
"His and Hers"
By Erica Friend
Instagram: Imsomniart
$40 for the set

"Abundance"
AlfieNumeric
Instagram: alfienumeric
Portfolio: alfienumeric.format.com
SOLD
"Rejuvenate"
AlfieNumeric
Instagram: alfienumeric
Portfolio: alfienumeric.format.com
SOLD
"Citrine"
AlfieNumeric
Instagram: alfienumeric
Portfolio: alfienumeric.format.com
SOLD
Naomi Sanders Valdavia
Each piece is $18
Instagram: beenznrice



Mike Virata
#2
Acrylic on Paper
$25
Instagram: Mikestache

Mike Virata
#2
Acrylic on Paper
$25
Instagram: Mikestache


Mike Virata
#3
Acrylic on Paper
$25
Instagram: Mikestache
Mike Virata
#4
Acrylic on Paper
$25
Instagram: Mikestache
 


I'm not sure if "self care" is a 2016 buzz word or if media just decided to write about it being that overall wellness is now being sought after in a society that overworks itself, gets inadequate sleep and brushes off mental and spiritual stability. It seems like for years, mental and spiritual health is something that you is so attainable and so easy to achieve that getting help seems to be taboo or frowned upon. We are taught to "shut up and knuckle up" and just deal when really we are just suppressing parts of us, the not-so-fun parts, down hoping that they go away.

In my circle, we all recognize the importance of resetting and decompressing as well as eliminating any toxic of energy-draining sources. Life can be so overwhelming that it is easy to get pulled under. We are praised for being hustlers, to taking more than we can and being warriors, even if it means taxing our own self.

This sort of martyrdom needs to stop.

Chances are, we are connected to so many people that loves and depend on us. We should give them our all, our best. Why can't we say this for ourselves. After all, we are our own best allies.

"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." - Audre Lorde


I started the simple act of buying myself flowers every Monday for work. As an artist and designer, it is fun to put together flowers which shapes and colors work together. Trader Joe's have some of the best selection of flowers, some being as low as $3.99. You wold be surprised how having these bouquets on my desk can uplift my mood. Any stressful thought or worry, or a difficult client's attitude is let go simply by me looking at my flowers.

Here is a few of the bouquets i had on my desk in the past week. The most fun are the peonies! They bloomed five minutes on my desk! It was beautiful to see them open in such a short amount of time!











Me every Friday bringing my flowers home from work, filter courtesy of Snapchat

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