Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before #3) by Jenny Han | Book Review + Discussion

30312860Title: Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before #3)

Author/s: Jenny Han

Publication: May 2nd 2017 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Format: E-Book

Get Your Copy Here:

Book Depository | Amazon (E-Book)

Plot in a Nutshell (From Goodreads):

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Thoughts in General:

I am unabashedly in love with the original To All The Boys I Loved Before duology by Jenny Han because of how cute, fluffy and downright sweet the story of Lara Jean was (I actually have a review of the first book but sadly I haven’t written/filmed one for P.S. I Still Love You). When the surprise announcement of Always and Forever Lara Jean was unveiled, I freaked out!

Upon finally reading it, I’m very happy with it. It was everything that I ever wanted and more. I just love how consistent Lara Jean’s character was all throughout the trilogy. The winning factors for me are that it delved deep into her senior year, the admissions process for college, her relationship, and the awesome family dynamic.

Aesthetics

The book covers all match and I am really happy! I think this is the only trilogy that I honestly love that there’s a girl on the cover because the photographer just managed to make it cool. It doesn’t have any cheese to it and I highly appreciate it!

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Always and Forever, Lara Jean‘s cover is my second favorite in the trilogy (the first one being my ultimate favorite). The model really encapsulates Lara Jean’s personality and the overall styling of the props is spot-on.

Story

I really enjoyed the overall story, however, I have to be blunt it does feel like there’s less structure in this compared to the other two books. There isn’t like a HUGE linear plot line and I found that endearing. It felt like I was really someone’s real life experience rather than a series of tropes and resolutions. Maybe it is because the author didn’t plan to write it anyway, so for me, it just felt like a special bonus novel (which in hindsight is what it really is)!

The family dynamic never failed to shine and I truly hope that more Young Adult fiction would learn from this series. Jenny Han’s treatment of a less dramatic family relationship made it true and authentic. The Song-Coveys aren’t perfect, but their love for each other is just incredibly palpable, which I haven’t read in any other YA book before. They definitely “Best Fictional Family Award” for sure.

All I’m going to say about the romance is, I approve (see the very spoilery discussion for the details).

Characters

Lara Jean Covey is my ultimate fictional crush and I think no one will trump her. Despite my obvious clouded judgment, my critical response to her characterization is mainly positive. She stayed true to herself throughout the entire trilogy. I’m not saying that there weren’t any developmental changes in her because there are plenty (she isn’t so shy anymore around people and she takes more risks compared to her past self), however, she didn’t have a head turning transformation which would have left me dizzy otherwise. Lara Jean had the same values that I admired about her and her voice was so consistent I truly fell in love.

For the rest of the characters, I think I might discuss them later in the spoilers section for safety measure.

Overall

Always and Forever Lara Jean is the concluding novel I wanted but never thought I needed until I read it.

Thoughts in Details (SPOILERS):

(NOTE: DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS POINT IF YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO BE SPOILED.)

Always and Forever, Lara Jean‘s central plotline about college was just amazing. I’m not an American so I didn’t know anything about the process and the emotional turmoils students tend to feel during these times. It was refreshing to see how Jenny Han showed it in this book.

I always knew that Lara Jean wasn’t going to get into UVA because what would be the twist in the novel otherwise. However, I still wished and hoped that she got in just because I love her and she wanted it so badly. Everything with this plot point felt spot-on, from the reaction she had (she planned on leaving William and Mary in a year so that she could transfer to UVA just to be with Peter) to the reactions of her loved ones (Margot’s disapproval of it was relatable).

Then that twist when she actually got into the University of North Carolina made me so happy for her. I honestly did not expect that, but I just love how her perspective changed. Up until at that point, Lara Jean was only so focused on being in the same university as Peter. Then when the UNC acceptance letter arrived and she visited the campus with Chris, she had an awakening that made her see the potential of this university and, oddly, that made me so proud of her development.

Let’s discuss the romance! This book has certainly made me appreciate Peter K to a point that I am happy that he’s the endgame. In P.S. I Still Love You  I still had reservations about him until the end, but thanks to this novel I am now convinced he was meant to be with her. God darn it I have to take a lot of pointers from this dude because he’s damn romantic. That scene in New York where he staged that promposal was just ridiculously sweet!

And, of course, let’s not forget the cutest birthday surprise in all of YA history in my opinion. I distinctly remembered I read that scene on the bus and I had the hardest time playing it cool. When they went to that diner and Peter K recreated Lara Jean’s favorite scene from Sixteen Candles a goofy smile was plastered on my face! Seriously, the level of adorableness was through the roof on this one.

I can’t believe it. Peter’s recreating the end scene from Sixteen Candles, when Molly Ringwald and Jake Ryan sit on a table with a birthday cake in between them. When we watched the movie a few months ago, I said it was the most romantic thing I’d ever seen. And now he’s doing it for me.

-Jenny Han, Always and Forever Lara Jean

Of course, there are still complications with their relationship. In the latter part of the novel, you can taste the tension between Lara Jean and Peter especially after that disastrous night at the beach house (that was so awkward, I cringed). Everything blew up during Trina’s bachelorette party when Lara Jean got tipsy and that was when she decided to air everything out. I really sided with Peter K on this one because Lara Jean’s actions felt like she was saying goodbye to him, even though it wasn’t as blatantly said. Her gestures and comments were tinged with sadness most of the time, so I got where Peter came from. Another complication was Peter K’s mom, which wasn’t like a big deal. However, I have to note this trope sounded like a soap opera when I read it.

Thankfully we got a happy ending for the both of them, especially with that revised contract! What a perfect way to set the tone for their relationship!

Lastly, I really want to discuss Lara Jean’s family! A subplot of this novel was the wedding of Lara Jean’s dad and Trina, which was so fun to read. Her dad’s proposal was also cute (so many proposals in one book). I also liked how realistic Margot’s apprehension towards the whole thing played out because it felt authentic and Kitty was just as adorable as ever.

Let me tell you there were chockful of contemporary pop culture references in this book! Harry Potter and Hamilton just to name a few. The only lingering question in my head was where was Josh? I sort of wished we got a glimpse of what happened to him (I can’t recall if he had a decent ending in P.S. I Still Love You) because John Ambrose McClaren had a decent relationship. Nonetheless I am really happy with Always and Forever, Lara Jean!

Have you read Always and Forever, Lara Jean? What are your own thoughts about it? Please share them down in the comments section! Thanks!

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#AllDayYA 2017: My Experience

Last May 27th, 2017 I had the privilege of going to #AllDayYA organized by the Sydney Writers Festival at Riverside Theatres Parramatta. It was a wonderful bookish event that was solely focused on the power of Young Adult literature in Australia and I loved it!

Ever since I arrived here in Australia, I have been looking for events that could satisfy my craving for anything bookish and I stumbled upon the Sydney Writers Festival. I took a look at their website and I was so happy to find that they were going to hold the #AllDayYA event. I quickly looked up the roster of activities (all of which required payment) and I decided to go for Rupi Kaur’s event.

I think I haven’t written a review for this amazing poetry book, but I completely adored it last year. It featured different poems that tackled various topics such as sexual abuse, heartbreak, feminism, love, and a whole lot more in such a powerful manner. It was such a gripping read for me and when I saw the advert for her talk, I immediately booked my ticket.

Pre-Talk Sitch

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The line for #LoveOZYA signing!

When I arrived at Riverside Theatres I was pleasantly surprised with the number of people inside. There was a literal buzz and everyone had the same energy of enthusiasm for books, which I really missed (I haven’t been to any bookish event for months).

When I roamed around and looked at the book stands, I suddenly felt like I was a kid in a candy store with little to no cash. Let me be frank, books in Australia are freakishly expensive. Every time I look at a book, I immediately check the price, do the math, and feel kind of bad because it’s just way too much money for me to spend on (especially for someone who is on an extremely tight budget like me). Since my copy of milk and honey is back home, I decided to buy another one just to get it signed. However, I would be lying if I told you guys that I didn’t lust for the other books there…

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When I was lining up to pay for my copy of milk and honey, a lovely girl by the name of Jasmine approached me and told me she knew my bookstagram account and I was so surprised. It was really surreal for someone to recognize me from my bookstagram account (I rarely post selfies there). We then talked briefly about books and the panels we were going to. Jasmine if you are reading this I just want to say that it was such a pleasure seeing you there and thank you very much for the support. I hope to see you again in the future.

Expressing Herself: The Brilliant Life of Rupi Kaur Talk:

The event was just amazing. It was hosted by Sara Mansour who is an Australian spoken word artist, and her questions were all on-point. The overall gist of the talk is really about Rupi’s origins and what her creative process was like. Discussions about her very first attempt at spoken word poetry to her controversial menstruation photo project to the things that inspired her poetry, the conversation just brimmed with so much passion.

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Frankly, I was slightly concerned about the fact that Rupi might not be able to do a signing because her right hand seemed to be injured but thankfully she had a stamp that acted as her signature! Also I had the pleasure of getting a picture with her…

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Sadly the line was long so we were all rushed and I wasn’t able to fully articulate how much I appreciated her work. The only thing that I was able to say was, “I’m such a big fan” and that was it. Regardless, the whole experience of meeting her was enjoyable and priceless.

Meeting Catriona (The Little Book Owl):

When I was in line for Rupi’s meet and greet, I was able to spot Catriona of The Little Book Owl on Youtube. I’ve watched her videos since 2013 and I’ve been such an admirer of her content, so I knew that I had to say hi!

When I was a few feet away from her I was about to greet her, but she suddenly walked away. I threw caution to the wind and I tapped her shoulder, which is a huge thing for me since I’m an introvert. We started talking and I asked if I could have a photo with her and she kindly obliged…

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She was exactly like the person she projects on her Youtube channel and I’m really thankful I had the chance to have had a brief conversation with her.

Meeting Amie Kaufman:

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Okay let’s be real here, I wasn’t really planning on getting anything else signed aside from Rupi’s book. However, when I saw Amie Kaufman signing books, I was overcome with thoughts of possible regret I’ll face if I missed my chance. I asked the bookseller if there were any more copies of Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOZYA Anthology because I was slowly consumed by my thoughts.

Here’s another confession here, I have yet to read any of Amie Kaufman’s book (I know I should be ashamed of myself, and I am) and you might be wondering, why do you feel like you were missing out when, in fact, you haven’t even read any of her body of work?

The answer to that is I just really wanted to. I know that she’s a well-known author with books that have been raved upon by my bookish friends so I knew that if I pass the opportunity up, I’ll regret it so much.

Anyway, I went ahead and bought a copy of Begin, End, Begin just to get it signed by her (#NoRegrets)! When the time came for my turn, Amie and I talked about the possibility of her going to the Philippines to do a book signing event and she said that they (I’m assuming she and Jay Kristoff, co-author of the Illuminae Files) are just waiting for an invite! So if any National Bookstore or Fully Booked staff is reading this, here’s your chance.

I asked Amie to say something to her Filipino fans…

I only got my copy of Begin, End, Begin signed by her because my hardcover copy of Illuminae is back home in the Philippines and I didn’t want to rebuy a copy of it. At least I still got something signed by her and it was such a pleasure seeing her in person.

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Meeting Garth Nix

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Gah! The blurriness of this photo is shameful.

Rupi’s signing booth was right beside Garth Nix’ (author of Sabriel and Frogkisser) and this is another one of those instances wherein I have not read a single novel by this author, but I knew his popularity in the high fantasy genre so I really wanted to get something signed by him. However, I couldn’t afford to buy any of his books at that moment (cue in the world’s smallest violin).

It took loads of contemplating if I should ask for his signature at all, but the question was on what? Then I looked down at my copy of Begin, End, Begin and I actually considered it.  But the catch was he wasn’t part of that anthology! I had this silly notion that since his Australian, it still kind of made sense because it is an Australian YA anthology. I know that was one helluva reasoning but I really wanted a signatured from him, so I built up my courage and I approached him. I stated my case then he pointed the obvious dilemma and I told him it was okay. He then offered to give me a postcard print of the cover of Frogkisser instead and obviously I said, “Yes!”

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All the things I got signed!

My #AllDayYA experience was a complete success. I wasn’t able to stay much longer since I only got a ticket for only one of the event. C’est la vie. I really hope that this is not the last Australian bookish event I’ll be able to attend to while I am here.

Were you able to attend this event? What did you guys though of it? What events did you attend during Sydney Writers Festival or any bookish event you attended? Please tell me all about it down below!

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Another Word For Happy by Agay Llanera | Book Review + Discussion

32607764Title: Another Word for Happy

Author/s: Agay Llanera

Publication: Kindle Edition, 140 pages published October 8th 2016

Source: From the Author

Get Your Copy Here:

Amazon (Kindle)

Plot in a Nutshell (from Goodreads):

What does it take to come out of the closet? Since he was thirteen, Caleb has always known he’s gay. Now a college freshman, he falls in love for the first time. If it’s true that love conquers all, then will Caleb finally find the courage to reveal his secret?
In this tale about family, friendship and self-discovery, find out how Caleb discovers the path to the freedom he’s always longed for. Here’s a hint: it involves doing things outside his comfort zone, such as joining a spoken word group!

Thoughts in General:

Another Word for Happy by Agay Llanera is one of the few LGBTQA+ novels I’ve ever read and I’m happy to say I enjoyed myself with Caleb’s story. It is a novel about coming out and the struggles of being a homosexual in a contemporary Filipino setting. I felt that Agay Llanera tackled the topic with earnestness and class. If you are in the mood for a not so typical Filipino coming of age Young Adult novel, then you should definitely go for this!

Aesthetics

Another Word for Happy‘s cover is really spot on. Although I can only judge the cover image of the book since I only read an e-copy of it, I do believe that it encapsulates the main characteristics of the protagonist. It’s simple and straightforward.

Story

As the tagline of the novel clearly states, it is a coming out story for the protagonist but you should not dismiss it for sounding cliche. It is still a delightful novel to read. I like how the book did not focus on the romance but on the character development of our main protagonist instead. However, I will admit that the love subplot was a bit problematic for my taste, which I will discuss in detail later on.

I also like how music and poetry played a role in the novel. Caleb is piano prodigy, which is why there’s a significant amount of music talk here, but it isn’t overwhelming. The slam poetry included in the prose were written well and it didn’t feel out of place, since one of the major characters is a poet.

Lastly, the novel was written in such an accessible way that you will feel for the main protagonist’s struggles and triumphs.

Characters

Caleb, the MC, was an interesting character. Frankly, I did not like him at the beginning of the book because of how stuck up he sounded.  He eventually had a good character development arc, but to be frank I’m just not 100% enthusiastic about him still.

I love Ginny, Caleb’s best friend, because she was such a colorful character, both figuratively and literally (if you read the book you’ll know what I’m talking about). She was such a good friend to him and I just love her how bubbly she is.

For the rest of the characters, I think I might discuss them in the spoiler section so I could fully express myself, but I did like most of them, except for the romantic interest of Caleb.

I think if you are a fan of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda you might like Another Word for Happy by Agay Llanera. This is a wonderfully Filipino take on the coming out story that you should give a chance.

Thoughts in Details (SPOILERS):

I just want to discuss a few things in this section freely without the fear of spoiling anybody. So please only read on if you have finished the novel. Ready? Let’s go!

The reason I was really annoyed with Caleb was the way he treated everyone  when he and Franco started “dating.” God, I really wanted to kick some sense into this dude because clearly, he was just a rebound for Franco and he fell for it. I know that the author might have done this intentionally to get the plot going and, also, to show some sort of a downward spiral for the main character, but Caleb really got on my nerve during this phase. He acted like a lovesick puppy and he actually allowed his so-called infatuation to get the most out of him (he even skipped classes for this dude, like wtf). Sorry I just had to get that out of my system.

As you can tell, I didn’t like Franco. I know that he was just human and he needed somebody to take his mind off of his ex (at that time) Drew, but the way he handled the situation was just infuriating.

However, weirdly enough I like how their “romance” ended because it did not go the traditional route. There wasn’t a clear closure for their relationship, which I’m still fine with that because Caleb deserved someone better.

On a different note, reading the part when Caleb finally confessed his true identity to his mother was nervewracking. Then when she actually called him a “disappointment” that just saddened me because it read so real and true. From there on I think that the story got better because it depicted a sound and rational approach in the situation.

Ginny’s aunts were so cool and so sweet (I love their cheesy wedding speeches). I also loved the fact that they talked to Caleb’s mom and recommended that book. My favorite scenes from Another Word for Happy was where Caleb performed at that gig and he thought his mom wasn’t going to be there but at the end there she was, so proud of her son. Also, that last part when they were both at the beach and Caleb’s mom remarked that the boy her son was eyeing was cute, made me smile. It was so nice to see her grow to accept her son’s identity and it was the perfect way to end the book.

Have you read Another Word for Happy? What are your own thoughts regarding the book? Feel free to discuss them by commenting below (please be mindful of spoilers).

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas | Book Review + Discussion

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Artwork Credit: Kevin Dones / Cover Image Credit: Epic Reads

Title: The Hate U Give

Author/s: Angie Thomas

Publication: Kindle Edition, 464 pages Published February 28, 2017 by Balzer + Bray

Source: Personal Purchase

Get Your Copy Here:

Book Depository | Amazon Kindle

Thoughts in General:

Right off the bat, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was immediately added to my TBR due to the hype it has gotten all over social media (yep I’m a bandwagon kind of reader) and truthfully the premise just sounded so powerful. Upon reading it, I did not expect to love it as much as I do right now. This is such a well-balanced novel that isn’t all about making a political statement. The book tackles important and relevant issues with an entertaining tone.

The Hate U Give is certainly a novel that should be included in every country’s required reading list for schools because of its authentic approach to the topic of unnecessary police violence, dark implications of the illegal drug industry, and the enigmatic contemporary lives of African-Americans. It has been a really long time since I read a book that sparked this kind of reaction in me and I am not ashamed to say that I am truly a THUG trash! In my opinion, Angie Thomas should be included among the ranks of modern classic writers such as Harper Lee and Maya Angelou.

Aesthetics

I LOVE THE COVER of THE HATE U GIVE. If you’ve been reading my blog, you all know how much I love a well-illustrated cover and the simplicity of the whole design is just perfect. I like how she’s holding the sign with the title of the book like she’s protesting, which is reminiscent of some of the scenes in the novel.

Since I only read the e-book edition, I did not get the chance to see the back of the cover that features Khalil. However, I have seen enough images online that urges me to buy a physical copy soon!

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Photo Credit: Teen Vogue Twitter

Story

Since the story was inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement, I expected it to be chockful of political and social messages, which it delivered gracefully by the way. However, I was pleasantly surprised on how the novel focused on family dynamics, which was the biggest factor that made me love it even more. I also really appreciated how the author went about writing the romantic storyline, which I’ll be discussing in the spoiler section of this review. Angie Thomas was able to successfully craft such a compelling and cute relationship without outshining the entire novel’s theme.

Characters

Starr Carter is one of my favorite fictional characters, ever. Her voice was downright real and relatable. When I was reading the book, I felt like I was witnessing the life of a very close friend. Yes, she was flawed (especially with the way that she treats herself sometimes), but that made her more real to me because I can relate to what she was going through (emotionally speaking).

I freaking love the entire Carter family! The way Angie Thomas wrote their family was so fleshed out, I actually cared about everyone. This is a rare occurrence for me to love, not just the main character but also her Mom, Dad, and two brothers. Again they are not perfect and that was the reason why I was enthralled with each of them.

Starr’s friends were written in such a unique way that I was able to distinguish them easily.

Final Words

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is truly a gem worth reading and sharing. It is the kind of book that could spark empathy from all different cultures and nationalities. Personally, if I had the power to make this book a required reading in the Philippines I will definitely do it in a heartbeat. Despite it being about a young African-American woman’s story of racial injustice, the themes could definitely resonate with people all over the world that are dealing with the same issues Starr Carter had.

Thoughts in Detail (SPOILERS AHEAD):

Now I want to discuss some of my favorite characters and scenes without any limitations. Ready?

Starr was such a great complex character! The way she handled Khalil’s death was admirable, especially when she had that other experience with Natasha. Yes, there were times that she was a bit fragile, but that just showed how human she was. Angie Thomas did a great job of writing her perspective in such a realistic way. Also, this girl was so funny too, which was the winning factor for me. I think I mentioned it before, I never expected this book to be hilarious given the topic it discussed, however, Starr’s snark and sass had me laughing my socks off. What kept me turning the pages was the amazing attributes of Starr that made her real and lovable for me.

The Carter family is just so cool! Her mom and dad’s relationship was just dysfunctionally perfect. What I meant by this is that they were incredibly human and their love wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, but they still managed to become this amazing couple that loved each other no matter what. Starr’s brothers, Seven and Sekani, were all cool and hilarious in their own right.

The moments Starr spent with her mom and dad were all golden, especially this deep scene with Maverick (Starr’s dad) and her discussing the deeper meaning of Tupac’s The. Hate. U. Give. Little. Infants. F**ks. Everybody. There were loads of amazing quotes in that scene and my personal favorite was this…

“We’re the ones who get the short end of the stick, but we’re the ones they fear the most.”

Another favorite part of mine was when Maverick wanted to hang out with Starr and watch Harry Potter with her. This particular bit of dialogue just made me laugh so hard:

“Daddy you’re the worst person to watch Harry Potter with. The whole time you’re talking about” – I deepen my voice – “Why don’t they shoot that nigga Voldemort?”

“Ay it don’t make sense that in all them movies and books, nobody thought to shoot him.”

I don’t support gun violence whatsoever, but this was just too funny!

GUYS THE ROMANCE IN THIS BOOK WAS SO DARN CUTE! I needed to type that all-in-caps because it is nothing short of amazing and sweet. Starr and Chris have become one of my favorite OTPs, period. From the get-go, I love how they bonded over the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and I found the things Chris did to get Starr’s attention. It just gets better and better as the novel pushes forward, even their little dramas weren’t excruciating to read.

Then we have the friendships in the book. I honestly felt so bad for Starr because of the realizations and revelations she discovered over Khalil’s death, like he wasn’t really part of the King Lords and that he really did love Starr. I was also glad that Starr and Hailey parted ways in the end, which just shows not all friends are worth keeping in our lives.

Lastly, I love the overall message of the book about injustices. I don’t know about you, but personally, I agree that The Hate U Give is a timely and relevant novel during these times. It really sheds an important light on the lives of the victims of police brutality and, in my honest opinion, it seems to capture a realistic depiction of it.

That’s all of my thoughts and feels regarding the book! If you want to discuss your favorite scene in the book or my thoughts on it, feel free to comment it down below. Please do note if your comments are spoilers, we do not want to unwittingly spoil this magnificent novel for someone else.

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It’s Been A While…

Have you ever had that sinking feeling of guilt over not giving attention to one of your children? Well, I don’t have any kids yet but if this blog was a living breathing human being offspring of mine then I think it might have been dead without me realizing it (sorry for the morbid analogy, but I hope you get what I’m saying).

There is a multitude of potential excuses I can come up with like…

“I’m so busy…”

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“Life is just a little complicated right now…”

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“Work is eating me up…”

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However, the honest truth is that I’m just too lazy to write anything here.

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Yep, I’m that kind of loser.

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Truthfully (and I want to be frank with you all), I have a lot of free time to be able to write a decent post once a week but the evil spirits of laziness have possessed me!

This is why I decided to finally write an update post of some sort in order for me to dispel these malignant leeches, once and for all (and I hope to the universe that it will be kept at bay for a very long time).

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Me slaying my laziness! Booyah!

I am still alive and kicking (well I am too lazy to kick so maybe sleep?)! I am currently in Australia on vacation and I’m going to be here for a few more months, so more time for content creation. Yipee!

 

Speaking of content creation, aside from book reviews (which I have a couple, under my sleeves) I just want to get your input and suggestions. My creativity is currently not coming up with anything interesting for my blog, so I really hope you guys could help me out on this front. What kind of things would you like to read here?

Discussions?

Tags?

Fiction, maybe?

Again I would highly appreciate your help and that’s basically it for me. I really miss blogging, just writing away my thoughts about bookish stuff here on this platform, and I cannot wait to go back to my roots.

Onwards,

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All That Glitters by Ines Bautista-Yao | Book Review + Discussion

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Title: All That Glitters

Author/s: Ines Bautista-Yao

Publication: Kindle Book, March 31st 2016 (original publication thru Sparks Books, 2016)

Format: Paperback

Source: e-book from the author

Get Your Copy Here: Amazon

Plot in a Nutshell:

When they have nothing better to do, college students Billie Santiago and Carlos Angeles enjoy imagining what their lives will be like five years into the future. It’s never serious—just a whole lot of teasing and poking fun at each other. Until blindingly handsome, PR professional Iñigo Antonio saunters into the university bookstore where Billie works. All of a sudden, she finds herself face to face with the physical manifestation of the very dream she tells Carlos about.

Captivated by Iñigo’s magnetic personality, Billie is lured into his dazzlingly glamorous world—much to Carlos’s frustration. But as Billie notices Iñigo might not be playing by the rules, Carlos begs her to stay away from him. When Billie doesn’t listen, she realizes too late that she is in over her head and it may take a miracle (or a boy who cares deeply about her) to help get her out of it.

From Goodreads

Thoughts in General:

(DISCLAIMER: I received this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All analyzations and opinions within this review are entirely my own.)

All That Glitters by Ines Bautista-Yao is certainly a contemporary romance page-turner! It was such a nice narrative that just took hold of me and I could not stop reading it. Yes, I do admit that the story is simple, but the way she wrote the novel just sucked me in. It was written in a way that made me feel invested in the story of Billie and her best friend Carlos. Despite finding some minor issues with the book, which I will delve deeper into the spoiler discussion later on, I’m really glad that I got the opportunity to read it and be entertained by it. So if you like a light YA romance that has a tinge of drama and will spark the feels then I recommend All That Glitters.

Aesthetics

Since I received and read an e-book, I cannot fully review the overall design of it aside from the cover, which is done really well.

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It represents a particular scene in the novel and it was done beautifully by the illustrator (to which, I’m not familiar with the name).

Story

The overall story is sort of like a very loose Devil Wears Prada situation, wherein our main character Billie is your typical college student who is suddenly captivated by a man named Iñigo Antonio and is swept off into the glitzy life of being in his PR company. However, she suddenly loses track of her friends, family, and even herself.

I think what really made me like the novel is the friendship between Billie and Carlos. I just like their dynamic in the story because Billie is the headstrong personality while Carlos was the gentler type. I like how it depicted that not all male characters are supposed to be the cocky Adonis. I also enjoyed seeing Billie’s interactions with her brothers, because it made her more real to me.

Although, as I mentioned before, there were certain parts in the story that I found a tad bit dramatic and over-the-top, which caused me to suspend my disbelief to an extent (particularly during the climax of the story). Again, I’ll talk more about it in the discussion part of this review.

Characters

I really enjoyed the POV of Billie because of how she was written. It was like reading from the perspective of a close friend and I couldn’t help but be invested.

Carlos was a pretty neat guy and I liked how he wasn’t your typical macho-type. He was shy, in-tuned with his feelings and, frankly, relatable.

Nicka was an unexpected surprise. I like how she provided comfort to Billie, especially in her time of need.

I can’t talk about Iñigo without spoilers, so please read on to my discussion portion if you want to know my true feelings for this character.

All That Glitters is a solid YA novel that left me happy and contented.

 Thoughts in Details (SPOILERS):

Okay, let us discuss some vague things I mentioned earlier…

I honestly did not like Iñigo from the get-go. He was a smooth-talking douche and a freaking greedy a-hole, especially in the latter part of the novel. I actually am thankful I went on reading All That Glitters completely blind because I did not expect that he would be that slimy.

The plot issue I kept mentioning in this review is the melodramatic way the road to the climax went down. Okay, so during that scene when a scandal hit that politician and Billie finally figured out that Iñigo was behind all of it, the first thing that came to my mind was “this is like a teleserye (a.k.a soap opera).” This is especially true in the way that Iñigo revealed himself as the villain to Billie and the way he threatened her was such a true teleserye moment. This is necessarily not a bad thing and it all boils down to my own personal preference. I just wished that the reveal wasn’t as sinister as it played down in order for Inigo’s villainy to appear less caricaturish. However, I enjoyed the “showdown” at the climax of the novel when that reporter finally went a step ahead and exposed his dirty work.

Another issue that got me is the fact that Carlos realized his feelings for Billie when she had a makeover. I know that he always had feelings for her, but why did he suddenly acted so weird around her after the makeover. This issue was really minuscule that I could easily brush off.

The chemistry between Billie and Carlos really took off during that observatory scene, where the cover of the book was inspired of.

And of course, let us discuss the cute ending where Carlos created that constellation of Billie during that workshop they hosted for those kids.  That was sweet and really kilig-inducing.

*END OF SPOILER DISCUSSION*

Thank you very much to Miss Ines Bautista-Yao for giving me the opportunity to review her book!

Have you got your opinions regarding All That Glitters? Then feel free to share it down below and let us discuss!

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Maybe This Time by C.P. Santi | Book Review

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Title: Maybe This Time

Author/s: C.P. Santi

Publication: Self-published June 3rd 2016

Format: Paperback

Source: Personal Purchase

Amazon

Plot in a Nutshell:

An accidental reunion . . . a sneaky plot . . . things finally falling into place.

Maybe This Time contains three heart-warming stories of love and second chances. Because when fate gives you a break, you grab the chance to finally make things right.

In Sweeter by the Second, when paintings conservator Rina David arrives for the Arts Festival in the heritage town of Jimenez, she’s reunited with Tony, the guy she once loved and lost. Now vice-mayor of Jimenez, Tony wants Rina back in his life and will do everything he can to convince her that they belong together.

Pamela Quiroz hatches a plot to get her parents back together in Exorcising my Ex. But will a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner succeed in reconciling Geno and Viv? After all, it’s been more than fifteen years since they first got together and they aren’t the hormone-driven teenagers they once were. Will wine and cheese balls still do the trick?

Torch, meet hand. Arne Weichmann has been waiting twenty-one years for Bea. Is it finally the right time to make his move and convince her that they are Meant to Be? He hopes so. Because he doesn’t think he’ll survive losing the one person who brought warmth and sunshine to his life.

Synopsis from Goodreads

Thoughts in General:

Maybe This Time by C.P. was a book that I honestly didn’t intend to purchase when I went to the Feels Fest activity that happened last October 2016. However, when a live reading of the first short story in the collection was done by two awesome stage actors, I got swayed to purchase it and I did not regret it at all. It’s a book that is focused on love and second chances, which is my personal favorite kind of stories in the romance genre. I’m going to say right off the bat that all of the stories here are cute, fluffy, and steamy.

 Aesthetics:

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The book cover is nice, but frankly I just don’t immediately feel the connection between it and the stories. It’s an okay book cover for me to be perfectly honest.

Story and Characters:

Since this is a short story collection I will be reviewing each story separately and then I’ll discuss by the end my overall feelings regarding its entirety.

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The first story in this collection is titled Sweeter by the Second and it is all about Rina and Tony. This particular story felt like a sweeping contemporary rom-com movie! I like how smooth the story flowed and what the struggles of both Rina and Tony had in the past before they finally got their second chance. It was also really funny and, there I say, hot too.

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The second story is Exorcising my Ex which revolved around Geno and Viv. Guys this is probably my favorite story in the entire collection. First off, the story is actually told from the first person POV of Gino, which I rarely see in a romance novel. The characters are definitely older and I think it was refreshing to read from the perspectives of mid-thirty year olds since I normally read Young Adult. It started off in a very Parent Trap way and I just love the way how the story was told. The setting and situations of the characters were realistic enough that it was not extremely dramatic. It was sweet, romantic, and incredibly hopeful. (Sidenote: I still couldn’t figure out the connection of the title with the story. Maybe it’s the symbolism, but I am still not sold on that.)

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The last story, Meant to Be is about Arne and Bea. This is another feel-good love story that was simple yet enjoyable. However, I have to say that this is my least favorite among the three. I just did not feel connected with the story compared to the first two that I read from this collection. But don’t get me wrong, this story is still well-written and sweet.

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Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the stories in Maybe this Time by C.P. Santi because they were all cutesy romance that I enjoy. The writing was easy and I love the way the author sprinkled Filipino culture in her stories (especially in Sweeter by the Second).   The situations in most of her stories were not overly dramatic, which made them all realistic and ultimately relatable.

What are your own thoughts regarding Maybe This Time? Don’t hesitate to comment it down below and let’s chat about it.

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Love & Gravity by Samantha Sotto | ARC Book Review

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Title: Love and Gravity

Author/s: Samantha Sotto

Publication: February 7th 2017 by Ballantine Books

Format: e-ARC

Source: NetGalley

Amazon

(DISCLAIMER: I received an e-ARC of this through Ballantine Books via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This fact did not affect my views regarding the book in any form or manner. Everything stated here in this review are my own honest opinions.)

Plot in a Nutshell:

In this unforgettable novel for fans of One Day and The Time Traveler’s Wife, a young Isaac Newton falls in love with a girl living in modern-day San Francisco, defying the laws of physics to forge a seemingly impossible connection.
 
Andrea Louviere is seven years old the first time he appears. While she’s alone in her bedroom, practicing her beloved cello, the light shivers and a crack forms in the wall. Through the crack, she sees a candle, a window, a desk—and a boy. Though no sound travels through the wall, the boy clearly sees Andrea, too. And then, just as quickly as it opened, the crack closes, and he vanishes.
 
Over the years, summoning the bright, magnetic boy becomes something of an obsession for Andrea. Then, on her seventeenth birthday, she receives a three-hundred-year-old love letter from Isaac Newton. Andrea knows that Isaac will change the world with his groundbreaking discoveries; the letter tells Andrea that she will change him.
 
As Isaac’s letters intensify in passion and intimacy, Andrea grows determined to follow his clues to their shared destiny—despite a burgeoning romance in the present. Only when she discovers the way into Isaac’s time does Andrea realize that she faces a heartbreaking decision: between what was . . . and what might be.

Thoughts in General:

Let me start off by saying that I am a huge fan of Samantha Sotto’s debut adult novel Before Ever After. I admit, I have been patiently waiting for a follow-up book since 2012, so you can only imagine how excited I got when I heard about Love and Gravity…

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This was my actual reaction! LOL!

So when Samantha Sotto herself asked people on Twitter if there were bloggers who were willing to read and review an e-ARC of Love and Gravity, I jumped on that opportunity like my life depended on it and I got approved!

Aesthetics:

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Traditionally, I would talk about the over-all aesthetics of the book in this portion, but since I read an e-ARC of it I can’t really talk about anything else aside from the cover. Frankly, the cover is just okay for me. It did not blew me away or made my eyes tear up blood from ugliness. It’s simple and still relevant to the story, but I just wish that the silhouette of the two people on the side did not exist because it just added an unnecessary cheesiness factor to it.

Story:

After learning about the plot of the novel my initial reaction was “that is one hell of a complicated story!” and I still can’t believe that Samantha Sotto actually pulled it off. She was able to manage different pieces of the story and meld it so seamlessly that I’m just amazed at how talented she is as a writer.

I’m not by any means a history buff or an Isaac Newton fanatic, but in my opinion the book was well-researched and it made me appreciate this revolutionary mathematician more. The author was able to sneak in a few historical tidbits about Newton in such an interesting way while maintaining the plausibility of the plot (i.e. his discovery of the various spectrum of colors in light).

The only issue I encountered is actually the romance. I know that it is like the soul of the whole book, however, I questioned the authenticity of it. I honestly felt like their was something missing in the development of the main relationship in the novel. Despite this fact, I eventually got swept along the love story between the characters. It was engaging enough to grow on me and stay with me until now.

Characters:

Admittedly, the characters are the highlight of Love and Gravity because majority of them felt realistic.

Andrea, the main character, was such a well-rounded protagonist because she exhibited so many flaws that made her feel authentic. Yes she made mistakes that had me rolling my eyes like…

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… but oddly enough I did not give up on her. I continued to root for her until the very end.

As I said earlier, I am clueless when it came to Isaac Newton‘s life and what his other contributions in the grand scheme of things were. But having read this novel I feel like I got a handle of what he was all about and Love and Gravity made me appreciate him more. Although he seemed to be the cookie-cutter type leading male in a romance and I guess being stuck majority in Andrea’s perspective made me think of him that way.

Then we have Nate who is Andrea’s faithful best friend and he’s my favorite character in the novel. I can’t really delve into the details as to why he stood out to me because I don’t want to spoil things for you, but I really liked how he was characterized in the book.

Despite some minor issues I had with it, Love and Gravity is a whirlwind romance that really stirred my emotions. It is a book that is created with such craftsmanship, it only takes an incredibly talented novelist  to weave in such a complicated plot combined with magical realism  and became this coherent and heartfelt piece of fiction. It only proved to me that Samantha Sotto is an amazing storyteller and she’s now officially one of my favorite authors ever.

Love and Gravity is slated to release on February 7th, 2017! In celebration of that, National Bookstore will be hosting a book signing event this February 11th, 2017 in National Bookstore Glorietta 1 at 3:00PM! For more details please see the event poster below!

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Photo Credit: National Bookstore

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My Dream Crate

Hey guys! So I just want to start off by greeting you all a…

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It has been a long, long, long, LONG while since I last posted anything in this blog of mine and I hope that you can forgive me for leaving you hanging for quite a while, but I will be more active in the blogosphere this year (I promise).

Anyway for my very first post for 2017, I’m totally in a wishful thinking mood and I decided to write about my “Dream Crate!”

I have been recently contacted by Loot Crate who is on the lookout for fanboys and fangirls that would love to share their ultimate dream crate! They want to know, if you were given a chance to craft your own monthly subscription box what will it be about and what’s inside? For those who are not in the know, Loot Crate is a monthly subscription service that delivers über cool merchandise for geeks, nerds, and fans of different fandoms!

Today I’ll be sharing what my ideal crate would contain, so without further ado let’s get cracking!

I decided to go for a specific theme for this dream crate just to simply narrow down my options and I went with something that would really appeal to my personality. The theme for my dream crate shall be…

WITCHY

You guys might be jumping to the conclusion that this is totally Harry Potter-related, but alas it is not. Instead, I’m talking about The-Craft-and-Charmed kind of witches!

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This…
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And This.

You might be wondering, “why choose something this weird?”

Well because the blogger that writes here is a weirdo that really likes this stuff and he would love for a crate filled with witch-related items to exist!

The Content:

(Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with the following creators of the merchandise I have included here in this post. Truth be told I just searched the nearest items from the one in my imagination. Also the images I shall provide was borrowed from their website and shall be credited accordingly.)

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Photo Credit: Hearth & Hammer

 3 Literary Candles – I can’t imagine a witch not having a candle in his/her arsenal of magical paraphernalia and three is generally a powerful number. Of course since we’re book lovers might as well make them all literary ones.

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Photo Credit: TwilightCraftsLLC (Etsy)

Charmed “Book of Shadows” Journal – every witch must own a journal to write their thoughts, spells, and other magical workings. What better way to do this than to use the coveted Books of Shadows of the Halliwell sisters!

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Photo Credit: Cotton On (Typo)

Hamsa Hand Pen – if you have a magical grimoire as your journal, you shouldn’t settle for a plain old boring ballpoint pen. Instead try out this totally rad amulet looking pen from Typo and write witchy style!

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Photo Credit: Amazon (Kiki’s Delivery)

A Black Cat Plushy – majority of witches have their own pet animals that help them with their magic, which they call familiars. Since I feel like it is totally unethical to include a living thing inside a subscription box, I decided to settle with a plushy of Jiji from Studio Ghibli’s: Kiki’s Delivery Service. A black cat is like the traditional witch companion!

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Photo Credit: GitanaCrystals

Quartz Crystal Necklace – this is the perfect necklace for those witches that either want to look for someone (Charmed-style) or to just to imbibe in themselves the natural powers of their chosen crystal.

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Photo Credit: ClashCases

Ouija Board Cellphone Case – a modern witch couldn’t live without his/her phone so what better way to dress it up than to encase it with something as occult as the mystifying oracle itself! You can now contact both the living and the dead with this cool case!

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Photo Credit: Amazon

The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot Deck by Maggie Stiefvater – divination (or loosely speaking fortune-telling) is part of a witch’s repertoire of talents and I personally like the style of the tarot! Since this is a book blog, I’m highly interested in the tarot deck by Maggie Stiefvater (author of the Shiver trilogy and The Raven Cycle quartet) because she’s a very prominent YA author and her art style is so on point. However, any tarot deck will also suffice.

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Photo Credit: Watchover Voodoo

Watchover Voodoo Doll – Despite the stereotype, witches don’t really use “voodoo dolls” to hurt people (heck they are above hurting anything at all). But just to acknowledge this misconception, I just want to include this cute keychain in the box! Watchover Voodoo has a wide variety of voodoo dolls with special properties that will cater to any of your needs.

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Photo Credit: Funko

Wicked Witch Funko Pop – since there aren’t any The Craft and/or Charmed Funko Pop figurines (which is a total travesty by the way) I’ll settle for the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz just because.

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Photo Credit: The Wild Unknown

The Wild Unknown Spirit Cloth – You can definitely spruce up your room and make it hella witchy with this Spirit cloth! You can also use this alongside with your brand new tarot deck to boot because it actually has certain tarot spreads ready for you!

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Photo Credit: Amazon

Sweep: Book of Shadows, The Coven, and Blood Witch Volume 1 by Cate Tiernan – Since this is a book blog, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to recommend one of my favorite YA witch series ever. I haven’t encountered any other Wiccan-based YA fiction that is witchy-ier than the Sweep series. The story mainly follows a girl named Morgan who discovers that she’s actually a witch and guys I love the traditional Wicca-inspired magic system here!

So yeah those are the main content of my completely magical dream crate! I hope you guys were entertained with this post. Please do comment down below your thoughts regarding my selection. Are you totally freaking out right now?  I hope not because I admit I am weirdly eccentric!

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#FeelsFest: My First #RomanceClass Event | Signed Adventures

October 22, 2016 – What’s a better way to spend a Saturday than with friends, books, authors, and a whole lot of feels! It was such an inspiring day I just had to document it here!

Anyway for those of you who are not aware, Mina V. Esguerra (author of The Interim Goddess of Love trilogyWelcome to Envy Park, etc.) spearheaded a writing class that turned into a community of local Filipino romance writers and readers known as #RomanceClass.

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If you want to learn more about #RomanceClass, click the image above.

In celebration of Filipino romance literature, Miss Mina and the rest of the #RomanceClass community host events such as #FeelsFest to promote their books and to spread the word of the rising popularity of English romance novels written by Filipinos. It is just amazing to see how far Philippine Literature has spread its wings and encompassed other genres not just literary fiction.

Anyway, I arrived at the event at around 1:30 in the afternoon and it was already buzzing with activity. There were different booths in the area and of course I had to check them out.

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BOOKS!
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MORE BOOKS!
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So many cool stickers, but I had no more money left so I wasn’t able to buy one. The NYC one was calling me, but I had to let it go (#DRAMATIC).
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Talecraft was a game I discovered back in High School when one of my best friends brought her pack for us to play with and I fell in love with it. I highly recommend all writers to pick up a deck and play the game because it’ll get your creative juices flowing. (NOTE: This is not sponsored by Komikasi in any manner. I am just a fan of their product and I wanted to share my two cents to you guys.)

It was really such a treat to see some of my book blogger friends and acquaintances at the event.

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Camelle of Home of A Book Lover
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Fay of The Bibliophile Soprano

I wasn’t able to take a photo with Leia of Random Reviews PH, Sab of Sab the Book Eater, Dianne of Oops I Read A Book Again, Anette of Anette the Wicked, and KB of Book Bed which sorta sucks. C’est la vie.

At around 2:00 Mina walked up to the stage and announced that the live readings will finally commence which will be played by some amazing performers namely Gio Gahol, Gab Pangilinan, Herv Alvarez, and Rachel Coates. Here are some of the clips I took during that day…

I wasn’t able to complete the entire live reading session because my arms got sore (the struggles of not having a tripod got real at that moment). The actors were all so good I actually got influenced to buy one of the books they read on stage, which I’ll be showing you guys later on.

A short break followed the live readings and I decided to pursue my 2 missions which were: 1) Find Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions by Six De Los Reyes and Someday with You by Ines Bautista Yao and 2) Hunt down all of the book by #RomanceClass authors that I already own and get them signed.

How did I do? Take a look…

with Mina V. Esguerra

with Stella Torres (author of Save The Cake)

with Agay Llanera (author of Vintage Love)

with Chris Mariano (author of Cover [Story] Girl)

I successfully bought the two books on my wish list and more…

with Six De Los Reyes (author of Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions)

with Ines Bautista-Yao (author of Only A Kiss and Someday With You)

with C.P. Santi (author of Maybe This Time)

Fun Fact (for me, at least): The main reason why I immediately purchased her short story collection was due to the awesome live reading performance of Gio Gahol and Gab Pangilinan!

with Kristine Cuevas (author of Let’s Call It Love)

Fun Fact#2: I was introduced with Kristine Cuevas due to a former colleague at work, who I was completely surprised to see at the event. She told me that the author was actually a co-worker of hers at her current employment, which was awesome!

To say that I enjoyed myself with #FeelsFest is a complete and utter understatement. It is so cool to see the growth of the Philippine’s writing community. Honestly, I felt so empowered and inspired to just pursue my dreams of writing a book and I hope that it will happen soon! Will you guys be interested in seeing this come to life?

Congratulations to all the authors and organizers of the event! #FeelsFest was everything I could have hoped for and more! I cannot wait for the next one!

Did you guys attend #FeelsFest? What are your thoughts regarding the event? Have you read any book by #RomanceClass, if so what was it?

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