Impromptu Bookish Dinner: Sushi and Coffee

Impromptu meet ups and meals with bookish friends is one of the best things about being back home in Manila. Yesterday, I met up with Filipino authors Mina V. Esguerra and Layla Tanjutco. We had sushi for dinner, and then cake and coffee afterwards. That combo doesn’t make much sense but we had our reasons! The informal theme for yesterday’s meet up was Mina’s What You Wanted, because the hero in that book has his birthday on October 5. ๐Ÿ™‚ I really enjoyed reading What You Wanted back when it was released, and you can read my review here. It’s currently on sale for just 0.99usd and can be read as a standalone, go and grab a copy ASAP if you haven’t read it yet.

What You Wanted - Dinner with Mina and Layla

In one of the scenes of the book, the hero takes the heroine to a sushi place. So it totally made sense for us to have dinner at Genki Sushi:

What You Wanted - Genki Sushi

The hero is also a huge fan of coffee so we said we had to grab dessert and coffee after dinner. We ended up at a cafe called The Chocolate Kiss:

What You Wanted - The Chocolate Kiss

“Coffee isn’t exactly a sexy smell for other people, you know.”
“It’s not? They’re lying.”

I mentioned in an earlier blog post that bookish shirts are my current apparel of choice and I love pairing them with printed skirts. I love midi skirts but some of them look like maxi skirts on me because I’m hobbit-sized. Here are some OOTD shots for fun:

I M Reader OOTD

I M Reader OOTD 2

The photos above were taken by Layla. Thank you, Layla! ๐Ÿ˜€ And of course I also had to wear my bookish earrings, received as a gift from my friend Kat of Book Thingo:

Wearing bookish earrings

Bookish earrings

Bookish earrings 2

I’ve had people say that these earrings actually match my current blog banner. ๐Ÿ™‚

Last but not the least, I wanted to share this Twitter thread of Filipino-romance-in-English titles that are currently on sale. Click on this to see the thread with buy links:

I’m sure you can tell based on the pictures that it was a Saturday evening well-spent. I hope you had an equally good weekend! ๐Ÿ˜€

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Cover Reveal: Like Nobodyโ€™s Watching by Tara Frejas

Like Nobodyโ€™s Watching by Tara Frejas is an upcoming Filipino romance written in English, and the companion novel to Waiting in the Wings (learn more about that particular book here). I believe it can stand well enough on its own, but I plan to read Waiting in the Wings first to avoid any confusion. While I haven’t read any of Tara’s books, I have most (if not all) of them in my Kindle! Sigh, I have no idea when I’ll be able to conquer my ever expanding TBR pile but for today, I’m happy to be a part of the cover reveal for Like Nobodyโ€™s Watching. This book cover was designed by Filipino author and graphic artist Miles Tan, just like the cover for Ghost of a Feeling that I shared a few days ago. As always, Miles did a wonderful job with the cover design! The cover features Filipino theater actor Fred Lo as the model. Isn’t it awesome that a Filipino romance novel with a theater actor hero has an actual theater actor on the cover? ๐Ÿ˜€ Looking forward to reading this one!

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Like Nobodyโ€™s Watching
by Tara Frejas

Release date: October 24, 2017

It’s all fun and games until someone catches feelings.

If there’s something Pio Alvez is good at, it’s pretending to be someone he’s not. On stage and on-screen, the actor has mastered the art of becoming the characters he plays, and his new role should be no different. After all, how difficult would it be to pretend to be smitten with a beautiful, intelligent go-getter like Audrey Alonzo?

Perhaps it’s more difficult pretending not to be.

Add Like Nobodyโ€™s Watching on Goodreads
Pre-order Like Nobodyโ€™s Watching on Amazon

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tara Frejas is a cloud-walker who needs caffeine to fuel her travels. When sheโ€™s not on work mode, she keeps herself busy by weaving her daydreams into stories.

Aside from her obvious love affair with words and persistent muses, Tara is very passionate about being caffeinated, musical theatre, certain genres of music, dancing, dogs, good food, and romancing Norae, her ukelele. She owns a male bunny named Max who sometimes tries to nibble on her writing notes.

Fun fact: She’s a Piscean. Go figure.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

More Bookish Shirts

Bookish shirts are my current apparel of choice! Last August, a got a few of them (which you can see in this post) and I ordered two more recently:

Have I mentioned that I love bookish shirts?

A post shared by Chachic (@chachickenpie) on

I haven’t had a chance to wear these two yet, but I’ve had fun wearing the shirts I bought previously. I always try to wear something book-related whenever I meet with bookish friends. Some selfies to show examples:

Gimme HEA selfie

Slytherin selfie

I usually pair them with a printed skirt, as shown in these:

Shelf Aware ootd

Single and ready to Kindle ootd

Forgive the vanity in this post! I usually don’t show so many pictures of myself in one go, but I think the shirts look better when worn so I wanted to share what they look like. ๐Ÿ™‚ What do you think of these shirts? I think they’re pretty awesome. Do you own bookish shirts? If yes, what are the ones you own and where did you get them? All of the shirts pictured here were bought from local sellers here in Manila. I wasn’t able to find shirts like these while I was in Singapore.

Cover Reveal: Ghost of a Feeling by Celestine Trinidad

Ghost of a Feeling by Celestine Trinidad is an upcoming Filipino-romance-in-English that I’m very much looking forward to. I believe this is the first standalone novella by Celestine (nicknamed Leslie). I haven’t read anything of Leslie’s yet but I do have some of her short stories that are part of anthologies I own. Interesting tidbit of information, Leslie is actually a high school batchmate of mine but we didn’t really interact back then. Glad to have reconnected with her online due to our mutual love for fiction. ๐Ÿ™‚

Today, we get to see the gorgeous cover for Ghost of a Feeling designed by the talented Miles Tan. September is the National Month of Suicide Prevention and since suicide is a theme of the book, it seems fitting to have the cover reveal before the month is over. I’m intrigued by the premise and I also think the book cover is so pretty! I love the starry night sky background and even the colors and textures included in the design. The silhouette of the characters, with the guy reaching a hand out to the girl seems very fitting for the story. Definitely looking forward to finding out more about this.

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Ghost of a Feeling
by Celestine Trinidad

Release date: October 31, 2017

Ghost of a Feeling

All Cris Villareal had ever dreamed of was becoming a doctor. But after the death of a patient under her care and the subsequent humiliation she suffers under a senior resident in her hospital, she begins to lose faith in herself. And no one else could understand her and her despair.

So one Halloween night, up on the rooftop of her apartment building, she decides to end it all.

She is stopped from jumping by Emilio, the ghost of a young man who haunts her building, who also committed suicide there many years ago. Eventually, Cris finds herself opening up to him, in a way she had never before, with anyone living or dead.

There is only one problem.

Emilio isnโ€™t really a ghost.

He is actually a living young man named Nathan Morales, and Cris was just one of the unwitting victims in a prank he had once played on the tenants of her apartment. But being Emilio was the only way he could think of to stop her that night, and the only way now he could get her to open up to him. As Emilio, he was someone she could trust enough to help her, in a way Nathan himself never could.

As their relationship grows deeper and their feelings grow stronger each day, can he finally help her find a reason to keep living?

But how long can he keep lying to her?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Celestine Trinidad is a physician (particularly, a pathologist) by profession. In her spare time, she writes fiction of several genres, including romance, speculative fiction, crime fiction, and childrenโ€™s stories. Her other stories have been published in other print and online venues, such as First Love, The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories, Philippine Speculative Fiction, Philippines Free Press, Philippines Graphic, and Insignia.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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. Sheโ€™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, sheโ€™s hung up on the guy who dumped her for not being โ€œambitious enough.โ€ Someone should tell her that there are other cool guys โ€” who probably even eat at the same office cafeteria! โ€” 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.๐Ÿ’–

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ˜€

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 canโ€™t help but be curious about a strange book in the attic of her clanโ€™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 โ€” and she has been one for two decades โ€” 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 writerโ€™s path by her mother, who told her that if she didnโ€™t like the real world, she could create a world she likes better in her head. So she did โ€” complete with characters, worlds and plots โ€” 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.

Almaโ€™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 thingโ€”when they donโ€™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. ๐Ÿ™‚

#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? ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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! ๐Ÿ˜€

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 โ€œMonth of Filipino Authorsโ€ or even โ€œMonth of Filipino Booksโ€. I mostly read romanceclass books (Indie pubbed Filipino romance written in English) so that’s what I choose to focus on for this post. ๐Ÿ˜€

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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜€ 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

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.