Reread: Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra

Fairy Tale Fail was the first ever Mina V. Esguerra book that I read way back in 2010! It’s part of her Chic Manila series, which has several standalone titles that are loosely tied together only in the sense that the books are set in Manila and the main characters from each book know each other in some way. A new edition of this book has been released with a cover featuring theater actors Gio Gahol and Gab Pangilinan, and a short epilogue. Here’s the cover and synopsis:

Fairy Tale Fail 2017

Ellie Manuel is a hopeless romantic, stuck in a cubicle all day. She’s in her twenties and should be having more fun. But instead of doing what she really wants, like traveling wherever her Philippine passport can take her, she’s hung up on the guy who dumped her for not being “ambitious enough.” Someone should tell her that there are other cool guys — who probably even eat at the same office cafeteria! — who would encourage her just to be her fabulous self.

I couldn’t help but reread it when I got my hands on thew edition. I have fond memories of this book and have been recommending it to all my friends, along with the rest of Mina’s books. I’m still waiting for Litsy posts to become embed-able on WordPress so in the meantime, I’ll just copy and paste my Litsy review: I remember when I read this for the first time in 2010, I felt like the story was a slice out of MY real life. Philippine setting (complete with typhoons, bulalo and siomai), Manila corporate work environment. And I was the same age as the characters at that time. Reread it in one sitting today, and it felt like catching up with old friends. The kilig/swoon factor is still there and the new epilogue was a nice bonus.💖

I did notice that the heat level for Fairy Tale Fail was very low. It’s the same for all of Mina’s earlier books. I guess it was just the expectation and trend at that time for Filipino-romance-in-English to have fade to black love scenes. I’m very happy to report that this isn’t the case nowadays. 🙂 I had fun revisiting Ellie and Lucas, more so because I don’t get to reread old favorites as much as I would want to. Now that the rainy season is here, I want to have bulalo (a Filipino type of broth that has meat and marrow) because it was mentioned in one of the pivotal scenes in the book. I think every Filipino romance should mention at least one Filipino dish that would make readers crave for it.

If you’re ever in mood for Filipino romance, Mina V. Esguerra’s books are always a good place to start. 😀

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Cover Reveal: How to Tame Your Tikbalang Without Even Trying by Alma Anonas-Carpio

How to Tame Your Tikbalang Without Even Trying by Alma Anonas-Carpio is an erotic romance novel that came highly recommended by my friend Liana of Will Read for Feels (check out her review of it). Liana was raving about this book when we met each other in Cebu, so I started reading it as soon as I could. I felt that it was a refreshing read because it was the first time I tried erotica written by a Filipino author. Given that it’s erotica, the heat level is off the charts. But at the same time, the story is infused with so much Philippine culture and mythology that I found endearing. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like How to Tame Your Tikbalang Without Even Trying. I’ve yet to write a review for this because I still need to gather my thoughts, but I wanted to share its new cover! The new edition has a book cover designed by Rica Palomo-Espiritu, and I think it’s a better fit for the story than the earlier cover:

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How to Tame Your Tikbalang Without Even Trying
by Alma Anonas-Carpio

Cover Redesign by Rica Palomo-Espiritu

How To Tame Your Tikbalang_New Cover

What happens when a Babaylan finds herself a Tikbalang to tame?

Tala Bienvenido can’t help but be curious about a strange book in the attic of her clan’s ancestral home, and she finds herself thrust into a world filled with ancient lore when she takes the old tome.

Buhawi Batumbakal was caught and he knew it. Yet all that was clear to him was that he needed to find a way to make that Babaylan his forever, elemental disturbances and threats to his life (and hers) notwithstanding.

In Philippine lore and mythology, the Tikbalang is a monster hybrid of horse and warrior that is feared throughout the archipelago.

Just as fearsome are the priestesses of the pre-colonial animist religion: The Babaylanes. A Babaylan, it is said, can heal the sick and injured, commune with the gods and goddesses, speak and do battle with otherworldly creatures like the Tikbalang and, yes, strike her foes down with lightning called from the heavens.

So, what does happen when this Babaylan meets that Tikbalang?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alma Anonas-Carpio is a journalist — and she has been one for two decades — who pens poetry and fanciful fiction between deadlines. She is also the literary editor of the last news weekly magazine standing in the Philippines.

Her feet got set on the writer’s path by her mother, who told her that if she didn’t like the real world, she could create a world she likes better in her head. So she did — complete with characters, worlds and plots — and she wrote them down. When those worlds got too big to stay in her head, she began putting them down on paper, complete with population, personalities, vital statistics and back-stories.

Alma’s foray into writing erotica was spurred by a need to write something that was as different from news reportage and analysis and poetry as it is possible to get. Challenges, after all, are a very good thing—when they don’t kill you, that is.

Oh, and her first book was a cookbook. Because, food.

You may drop Alma a line at pusangitim(at)yahoo(dot)com, or read her work online at http://www.literotica.com. Look for SkinandSin.

Twitter | Goodreads

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Cover image from the author, book description and author bio from Amazon. I think the new cover is a good representation of the book’s premise – it definitely gives off an erotic romance fantasy vibe. What do you think of this new cover? Does it make you curious about the book? As always, feel free to share what you think in the comments section below. 🙂

#romanceclass Book Cover Photo Shoot

Last July, I was able to join a romanceclass photo shoot for some of the authors’ book covers. I was lucky enough to be a part of it a second time around when another shoot was held last Sunday. romanceclass books are indie pubbed so they rely on stock photos or illustrations for their cover designs. They came up with the brilliant idea to pool resources and co-sponsor photo shoots with Filipino models or theater actors as cover models. Yay, for more Filipinos on book covers! You can learn more about the initiative through this link: romanceclasscovers. Some photos are available for purchase in the catalog.

So the photo shoot last Sunday had four cover models with different sets. They changed into outfits styled by Alex Lapa, who came up with the styles based on character descriptions. The cover models were real life couple Celine Bengzon and Bibo Reyes, as well as Fred Lo and Migs Almendras. This is actually a historic moment for the community because this is the first ever cover shoot for a male/male romance! So exciting. Here are some outtakes from the phone:

Swipe left to see all the photos. I love how these turned out on my phone, and I’m pretty sure the final versions will be even better. I can’t wait to see the resulting book covers! You can see more pictures of the shoot on Veronica’s blog over at Brain Tabs, here and here.

Here are some of my favorite behind the scenes photos from last Sunday, always a good time when you’re with romanceclass people:

romanceclasscovers Sept 2017

romanceclasscovers Sept 2017 v2

romanceclasscovers Sept 2017 v2

romanceclasscovers Sept 2017 v4

romanceclasscovers Sept 2017 v5

Here are photos of authors Mina V. Esguerra and H. Bentham squished between cover models Fred and Migs:

romanceclasscovers Sept 2017 v7

From Mina’s Instagram, here’s a shot of Ben and I being silly while we copy the cover model’s pose for Iris After the Incident:

Meron pala nito @romanceclasscovers #romanceclass

A post shared by Mina V. Esguerra (@minavesguerra) on

Also, a group pic of the romanceclass people present there, together with the cover models:

And last but not the least, here I am with Fred and Migs, first time to have a pic taken with them!

romanceclasscovers Sept 2017 v8

After the photo shoot, four of us had dinner had Manam, a Filipino fusion restaurant that has quickly become a favorite of mine. Here are some pics of the meal we had:

Sunday well-spent, wouldn’t you say? 🙂 Hope you all had an awesome weekend and you’re having a good week so far.

#GoReadWrite2017: Clever Hands Panel

Last Saturday, I attended the Clever Hands Panel of the Philippine Readers and Writers Festival 2017 (#GoReadWrite2017 on social media channels). This was primarily about how to write steamy scenes in romance novels and the panel featured Spark Books and romanceclass authors. Not that I’m planning to write steamy romances anytime soon! I decided to go because I knew it would be a fun gathering with bookish people. Here’s the event poster:

GoReadWrite2017 Clever Hands

And here are my Instagram updates about the event, swipe left to see all the pictures:

As you can see from the pictures and captions above, it was indeed a fun bookish event. 🙂 Worth the effort I made to travel to Makati City, which isn’t exactly the easiest location for me to get to because of how bad traffic in Manila gets. This is also why I was only able to attend this one panel! I wish I planned things better so I could have been there the whole day to attend even more panels and activities. Oh well, I can keep that in mind for next year. In the meantime, there are more upcoming bookish events here in Manila that I’m looking forward to attending before the year ends. I know I keep saying this, but it really is nice to catch up on all of these in-person events that I kept missing while I was in Singapore.

That’s all for now, hope your weekend is off to a good start! 😀

Ten Hidden Gems in Filipino Romance

Top Ten Tuesday2

I haven’t done a Top Ten Tuesday post in ages! As always, Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is a freebie, we get to highlight hidden gems in any genre of our choice. Since August is Buwan Ng Mga Akdang Pinoy can be roughly translated as “Month of Filipino Authors” or even “Month of Filipino Books”. I mostly read romanceclass books (Indie pubbed Filipino romance written in English) so that’s what I choose to focus on for this post. 😀

romanceclass-logo

There are a few romanceclass titles that have gotten international recognition, such as Learning to Fall by Mina V. Esguerra which was reviewed on Dear Author or Beginner’s Guide by Six de los Reyes which was reviewed on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and was included in NPR’s Book Concierge last year. But most of the titles are more under-the-radar, which is a shame because I think they can have appeal to a wider audience. Here are five romanceclass titles that I consider as hidden gems:

Feels Like Summer Iris After the Incident Cover-Story-Girl One Night at the Palace Hotel

And here are five more that I haven’t read yet, but are high on my TBR pile because of recommendations… these books would be my introduction to these authors:

If the Dress Fits Songs of Our Breakup The Princess Finds Her Match What About Today Waiting in the Wings

All of these are available as Kindle editions on Amazon, so you can buy copies of them wherever you are. I actually created a Twitter thread of Filipino romance titles in English that are currently on sale, in case you want to go through the list which already has links to the Amazon page of each book:

Some of them aren’t 0.99usd anymore but still pretty affordable! Some will be on promo price until the end of the month. I’ve been adding titles to the thread as their prices drop, and I’ve also been one clicking like crazy and stocking up on books that have been on my wishlist. 😛

Have you read any romances by Filipino authors? Let me know what you thought of them. If you’re familiar with romanceclass and have read books from the community, please feel free to share your own favorites and recommendations in the comments section. 🙂

Podcast in the Morning, Book Signing in the Afternoon

Shenanigans from last Saturday were continued on Tuesday when I met up with my friends Kat of Book Thingo and Mina of romanceclass to record another podcast, this time with Filipino theater actor Gio Gahol who was also the first male actor to do the live readings. We got to talk about how the live readings first started as an experiment when Mina asked Gio and Rachel to do it, and how it has exploded into something that has become a favorite activity of romanceclass authors and readers alike. It was an interesting conversation because all of us had different perspectives: Mina and Gio were right there from the start of the live readingers almost two years ago, I had only attended one live reading event (Feels So Hot), while Kat has only been able to watch the videos.

Swipe left to see all the pics! I must say that seeing the live readings in person is definitely SO MUCH BETTER than just watching videos of them, because part of the fun is seeing the reactions of the audience. That’s probably the main reason why I enjoy the live readings, seeing how the audience becomes overwhelmed with the emotions that they’re feeling, which I also think that’s something uniquely Filipino. Even if these live readings were replicated abroad, I don’t think the actors would get quite the same enthusiasm as they do here in the Philippines. And I also think both the readers and the actors feed off each other’s energies, a symbiotic relationship of sorts. 😀 I also really love how two different local art groups overlap with the live readings: theater and romance books. With the connection with the theater actors, romanceclass community members also attend plays or events that include the romanceclass live readers. And hopefully theater folks are also now more interested in romance because of these events?

I’m going to stop here because I’m doing my best to just write about my own point of view because I don’t want to spoil the podcast for you guys! I witnessed it being recorded but it will still be so much fun to listen to it.

Some behind the scenes fun, care of Mina’s Instagram account:

Me and @chachickenpie during @bookthingo podcast recording. Chachic is making universal sign for "I cannot" #romanceclass

A post shared by Mina V. Esguerra (@minavesguerra) on

Last na. I think this means: "what did we just do?" 😂 Soon on the @bookthingo podcast 🎉 @giogahol @chachickenpie

A post shared by Mina V. Esguerra (@minavesguerra) on

After recording the podcast, we headed to UP Town Center where we met up with our friend Honey. We got to drop by the Kevin Kwan book signing! Both Kat and I haven’t read his books but we’re both planning to. Thanks for our copies of Crazy Rich Asians and for hosting us during the signing, Honey! My mom and my aunt are fans of Kevin Kwan’s books and I got him to sign one book each for them. I’m still trying to read more books by Filipino authors for #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy this month so I’ll try to pick up Kevin Kwan’s books after August.

Last but not the least, we had a lovely dinner where we got to catch up on everything related to books and life. I have no pictorial evidence of the dinner we had but here’s coffee and cake instead:

Hope you’re all having a good week so far! In case you missed it, I created a Twitter thread of Filipino romance titles in English that are currently on sale:

Some of them aren’t 0.99usd anymore but still pretty affordable! And I’ve added a few more titles that have gone on sale since I created that thread. I’ve been one clicking like crazy and stocking up on books that have been on my wishlist.

Coffee in the Morning, Podcast in the Afternoon

My good friend Kat of Book Thingo is based in Sydney but she’s on vacation in Manila for a few days. I believe Kat and I first bonded over our mutual love of Melina Marchetta, and then we moved on to discussing and recommending romance titles. Mostly online, because she’s in Sydney and I was in Singapore at that time. Although we did get to meet in person last year. On Saturday morning, another bookish friend Honey organized a coffee tour for us at Toby’s Estate roastery here in Manila. It was such an awesome experience, worth my while to wake up early on a Saturday morning! Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a morning person AT ALL. I talk more about the coffee tour (and of course include pictures) in this post:

Yesterday morning's super fun activity was a coffee tour hosted by @chiefcaffeinator at @tobysestateph's roastery.☕☕ We got to try the signature Woolloomooloo blend that has been adapted to the Filipino palette (tasted chocolately for me), as well as the Salcedo blend which was specifically created to cater to Filipino taste buds (I could tell it was sweet but couldn't identify the guava note). My favorite Toby's drink is dirty chocolate chai but I also love how smooth the cappuccino is. We also got to watch a single origin from Bukidnon being roasted. @bookthingo says the coffee here is even better than Sydney's!🇵🇭 So glad she's here on vacation and I was able to crash this tour organized by @fantaghiro23. The coffee enthusiast and cafe hopper in me loved the whole experience. The things I get to do because of bookish people never cease to amaze me. Thank you so much, Raoul, Honey and Kat! 🙌 PS: Please help me petition for a Toby's branch to open up in QC.

A post shared by Chachic (@chachickenpie) on

As always, swipe left to see everything! In the afternoon, we met up with romanceclass people to record podcasts. I thought I was just going to listen in, and observe while the rest of them do the recordings with Kat but hey, fellow Filipino blogger April and I got to record our own. We talked about reading, romance, and enjoying the dirty bits in the books we read. 😀 It was a lot of fun, mostly felt like just chatting with friends since I talk to both Kat and April on a regular basis anyway. Pictures here:

So excited to hear the final version of all the podcasts on Book Thingo. We wrapped up the day with dinner at Manam, a restaurant in the area that serves delicious Filipino food. If I was nearer to that place, I would definitely come back more often.

That was my Saturday, which was obviously a really good day for me. I love being able to spend more time with bookish people now that I’m in Manila because that’s something that I didn’t get to do abroad. Sunday was a quiet day spent at home, and now Monday is here! How was your weekend? Were you able to read or do anything book-related? 🙂 Have you read any books that you’d like to rave about? I haven’t been able to sit down and write reviews recently but I really want to do so soon! Let’s see how it goes.

Cebu: Vacation and #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy

Hello, WordPress followers! If you also follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Litsy, then you would know that I was on vacation on Cebu for a few days. Cebu is one of the provinces in the Visayas region in the Philippines, and I went to Moalboal and Cebu City. It was my first time in Cebu and I had a great time! Also realized that the last time I traveled on a domestic flight was in 2011 when I went to Bohol. I’m hoping to be able to do more local travel in the near future. While I was in Cebu, I was able to do some #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy posts so I’m including those in this update.

In Moalboal, we stayed at the gorgeous Hale Manna resort, which is owned by Liana’s family. Liana blogs at Will Read for Feels and I met her through the circle of romance readers in the Philippines. It never ceases to amaze me at how I keep meeting awesome bookish people, both online and in real life. I was able to meet with Liana while in Cebu, first at Moalboal and then we traveled together back to Cebu City. Here are some pictures of Hale Manna in Moalboal, swipe left to see all of them:

In Cebu City, first stop was Liana’s book cafe called Books and Brews. I love book cafes and if I lived in Cebu, I would definitely be a regular in this one. The cafe has an extensive selection of books written by Filipino and foreign authors which you can read while hanging out at the place. It’s also cozy and comfortable and a good place to study or work in, if you would prefer not to read.

When I was researching on what places I’d like to visit in Cebu, I knew I would want to check out ancestral houses if there were any in the area. We got to visit two of them: Casa Gorordo and Yap-Sandiego House. I’m a sucker for historic places and these two were a pleasure to view. They’re both typical “balay na tisa” or “bahay na bato”, built in the 1800’s with a mix of Spanish, Chinese and Filipino influences.

We also got to see Museo Sugbo, which is Cebu’s provincial museum. It was previously a provincial jail but has been converted to showcase the history of the province.

Last, but certainly not the least was getting to try the food options in Cebu that aren’t available in Manila! I loved both The Chocolate Chamber and AA Barbecue, and I’m sure you’ll be able to tell why based on these pictures:

I hope you guys enjoyed this update post. I had an amazing time in Cebu but it’s always good to be home in Manila. 🙂 If you’ve been to Cebu, please feel free to share your own experience. Also, would be happy to hear suggestions on what ancestral houses in the country should be included in my bucket list. For those who haven’t been to Cebu, I hope I’ve made you more curious about the province, and that you’ll get to visit it eventually.

New Blog Banner by Clarissa Ines

The last time my blog banner was updated was in 2013. As much as I loved the previous design, I wanted a fresh new look for the blog! So I contacted Filipino graphic artist Clarissa Ines to request for her to design artwork specifically for Chachic’s Book Nook. She has designed book covers for romanceclass titles in the past, some examples of which are:

Bucket List to Love Learning to Fall - Anvil Promdi Heart

The Kitchen When It Sizzles What About Today Tame The Kitten

Aren’t they pretty? She doesn’t just design book covers, she’s a romanceclass reader too! That was a pretty good sign that we’d get along well. 🙂 I love pretty things but unfortunately, I can only draw stick figures so I relied on Cla’s expertise in the design process. She gave me some sketches to start with, basically to choose what design to use as a base before moving forward:

chachic-sketches

I loved all of these! I had to stare at them for a long while before I could decide what to go for. Of course they’re all book-themed, but I feel like all of these designs would have worked well for my blog. Cla said the third one was actually based on my bookstagrams and flatlays. 😛 After seriously considering my options, I went with the second one because I love how it’s a throwback to Cla’s work in designing book covers. I gave her some details that I wanted to be included on the design and she got started on it. She does her own calligraphy and she mentioned that it will be included as part of the design, isn’t that awesome? This was the black and white digital artwork that I got as an update:

Cla Ines blog banner draft

No colors yet but even in just black and white, I think the design is already pretty. 😛 I told her that I would love to have a color scheme that we call “malamig sa mata” in Filipino which I think can roughly translate to cool colors that are pleasant to look at. I said I preferred blues and purples, and she really followed my suggestions! This was the next update, which is a colored version:

Cla Ines blog banner - draft color

I absolutely love the color scheme she used, and look at all the details in the book spine. I had mentioned earlier that I would love for the book cover to have the feel of an antique fairy tale book and I think Cla’ss design is spot-on. I can’t get over how beautifully detailed the book spine and cover edges are. I also asked for cake and coffee to be included because you probably all know by now that I equally love both food and books. 🙂 The genres in the book pile that the girl is sitting on are the genres that I mostly read (with a special shout out to romanceclass). This is close to the final design and she just needed to add in some textures and tweak a few details to get to this:

ChachicsBookNook 2017 banner FINAL

IT’S GORGEOUS! I’m so happy with the final outcome, I told Cla that I’ll probably use this blog banner until I decide to give up on WordPress (which isn’t too much of a strech, given how seldom I blog nowadays :P), and I can also use variations of the design in all my other social media accounts. As a bonus, she sent me the full book cover design that she used as the base before cropping and tilting it:

Cla Ines blog banner - book spread

It was a real pleasure working with Cla because she’s super accommodating, she really paid attention to my requests and incorporated them into the design. If you need to commission graphic art, then I highly recommend that you reach out to Cla because I’m sure she’ll do an amazing job like she did with my banner. THANK YOU SO MUCH, Cla! You are the best. 😀

YAY, now my blog looks amazing! I hope this encourages me to write even more posts for this blog. 🙂 What do you guys think of this new blog banner? Would love to hear from you, and I’m sure Cla will also appreciate getting some feedback.

Recent Haul: Graphic Novel, Lipstick and Bookish Shirts

Quick post to share some of the book-related stuff I’ve acquired. I actually only bought one book: Monstress Vol. 2 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, which I’m been waiting to become available here in the Philippines. I loved Vol. 1 and I can’t wait to dive into Vol. 2. On the same day, I also bought a sort of bookish lipstick because it has a Beauty and the Beast theme. Check it out:

Swipe right to see more pics. 🙂 Next is my haul of bookish shirts! I found a local seller here in the Philippines who does custom prints and I ordered the designs below. Honestly, it was so hard to narrow down the choices to just five designs. I wanted to many more. But then I can always order more later on, right? 😛 The last time I had bookish shirts was when I ordered them from Threadless, and sadly those shirts don’t fit anymore. These new shirts of mine will be perfect with my bookish skirts.

Swipe right to see more pics of the shirts, and a pic of me wearing one of them. 🙂 I shared the pic on Twitter and Ilona shared it, yay:

I’m traveling for a few days, so I wouldn’t be online here on WordPress that much but I will be updating all other social media apps that I have on my phone.:D What books or other bookish stuff have you acquired lately?