Chasing Mindy Guest Post: Paris Travel Diary

Last week, author Carla de Guzman shared her romanceclass origins and today, she’s here on the blog to share the location inspiration for her latest title Chasing Mindy. Paris is a city that’s close to my own heart and I love that Carla chose to set her book there. Check out what she has to say about this glorious city in relation to her book!

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Paris Travel Diary by Carla de Guzman

One of my favorite things about writing Chasing Mindy was being able to re-write my experience of Paris. It’s one of those places that you never, ever, ever think you’ll be able to visit. You dream about it and hear about it, but you can’t really picture yourself there until you’re actually there. Mindy’s awe over the things she saw was very much my own.

Honestly guys, this city though. It’s so pretty you want to hug it.

For my little stint here on Chachic’s Book Nook, I’m sharing my photos and a little travel diary of the places Mindy and Javier visited!

Chasing Mindy - Rue de Depart

Rue de Depart
Mindy’s first scene ever in Paris is here–on a street corner, looking at the golden light and cursing the city for being just so gosh darn perfect. And how could she not, if she was looking at this? This is the corner not too far from our hotel in Montparnasse. It’s my phone’s wallpaper!

Chasing Mindy - Metro

Paris Metro
Call me a nerd, but I like the Paris Metro stations–they’re all so different, and how fancy is it that the ads have a pretty sienna tile surrounding it? It even has Napoleon’s crest on top of each one.

Chasing Mindy - Shakespeare and Co

Shakespeare and Co.
You see this a lot in pictures, and I never realized it was just across the Notre Dame until someone pointed it out like, oh no big deal, there it is! The inside is crammed with books to browse, and there was a bunch of lavender growing in front of the store so it smelled so nice. I realized later on that there are lots of Shakespeare and Co. bookstores in Europe, but there’s just something special about that green awning!

Chasing Mindy - Square Rene Vivani

Square Rene Vivani
Javi makes Mindy frog march over to the park next to Shakespeare and Co where they sit and have their coffee. Look at that view of the Notre Dame! With the rose arch and everything. There were quite a few painters taking a rest there, and couples falling asleep on the benches–which is totally normal. This place had to appear in the book, just because of the roses!

Chasing Mindy - Saint Chapelle

Saint Chapelle
This church! You don’t run out of churches in Paris, but this one is lovely! I experienced it exactly the same way Mindy did, where she runs up the smallest staircase, thinking that this was a scam, (and we had to line up for an hour!) only to find this gorgeous illusion of light on top. I believe I used the words ‘HOLY CRAP’ in my travel diary at the time.

Chasing Mindy - Giverny

Giverny
When I visited Paris for the first time, I became a little obsessed with the Impressionists. I looked up their works and read up on their history, which is why I knew that the next time we went to Paris, I had to make sure we went to Monet’s home in Giverny. Imagine a garden of flowers and multiply it by like, a thousand. I could barely breathe I was so happy.

Chasing Mindy - Olympia

Olympia by Manet
Sorry for the sudden nudity, but this girl is my goddess, okay. Manet painted one of his favorite muses totally naked. I could go into detail of why he painted it and why this painting was one of the most controversial of his time (someone stop me!), but I settled for putting it in the book, for now.

Chasing Mindy - Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower
An excerpt from my travel diary, ‘Damn it, Eiffel Tower, I thought I was over you!’ The perfect last thing to do in Paris is to buy some food, sit in the Trocadero Garden and wait for the tower to light up. You half-expect there to be music. Look at it. So pretty.

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Chasing MindyBook Description:
Mindy and Javier are not friends, okay.

Despite their mothers’ matchmaking, they’ve managed to stay out of each other’s way. Until Mindy goes to Paris for a week, and her mother insists she meet up with Javier. He’s in Paris to study, really looking forward to see you, she says. Watch over each other.

No thanks. Javier is taciturn and boring, Mindy is dramatic and has a tendency to yell at things when her eight siblings are brought up. It’s not a great combination.

But things start to look a little different under the Paris lights, and what felt like hate feels a lot closer to love.

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romanceclass origins: Chris Mariano

romanceclass origins

romanceclass is a community of authors and readers who gather together to support indie published contemporary romance written by Filipino authors. Whether they’re a reader or an author, all community members have their romanceclass origin story… various stories of how and when they joined the community. romanceclass origins is a blog feature that highlights these origin stories.

Visit the earlier romanceclass origins posts here. In my own romanceclass origins post, I mentioned that author Chris Mariano and I are “batchmates” because I knew her even before she became a romanceclass author. I’m thrilled that she’s here on the blog today, to share how she’s been a part of the community. Please give a warm welcome to Chris for her guest post for romanceclass origins!

Chris and Chachic - Jan 2018

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1) How did you discover romanceclass?
I participated in Mina V. Esguerra’s Author at Once workshop so I was already following her on Facebook. When she posted about organizing a ‘romance class’ to share her writing techniques, I didn’t want the chance to pass me by. My friend Chrissie Peria and I signed up, and the rest is history.

This is my idea of a good time. ☀️🌊📚

A post shared by Chris Mariano (@islandstorygirl) on

2) What does being part of the romanceclass community mean to you?
The romanceclass community is my people. It is a support group, cheering squad, critique circle, and book club all in one. When you surround yourself with people who not only share the same interests, but who are also genuinely encouraging and inspiring, then nothing seems impossible.

I have always loved romance, but I never finished anything I wrote (unless you count the Sweet Dreams-type stories I wrote back in high school). romanceclass made it possible for me to actually complete my own novella and self-publish it, and to do it alongside other talented writers who were also just figuring it out by themselves. I guess it always felt that we were all in this together, your-success-is-my-success, walang iwanan. I’ve always tried to be generous with what I’ve learned so far because that is what the community has been to me. I know that I couldn’t have gotten very far without it, and I will always be grateful.

romanceclass is a family of not just writers, but also readers, bloggers, and even live readers. I love that it has grown so organically from that small table of authors at our first class. I don’t think Mina went, “I want to build a community so by November 20XX, I should be done with Step 1: inviting readers to join.” People wrote, people published, people shared tips, people contributed, people did what they felt like doing – and here we are now. To mis-quote Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”

3) What are your recommended romanceclass reads?
A lot! I always dread having to pick favorites among my #romanceclass books because really, how can I choose? Some nice titles to start with include:
Keep the Faith by Ana Tejano
Dare to Love by C.P. Santi
What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra
No Strings Attached by Mina V. Esguerra
Waiting in the Wings by Tara Frejas
Chasing Waves by Bianca Mori
Choco Chip Hips by Agay Llanera
Promdi Heart (because love your own)

Keep the Faith Dare to Love What You Wanted No Strings Attached_New Cover

Waiting in the Wings Chasing Waves Choco Chip Hips Promdi Heart

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Chris Mariano - Author-PhotoChris Mariano writes contemporary romance and speculative fiction. Once upon a time, her short story “A Kind of Flotsam” won 1st Place in the 3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards and judge Neil Gaiman called it ‘beautifully done.’ She was also a fellow for Poetry in English at the 34th UP National Writers Workshop.

She is a freelance writer and editor living in Juneau, Alaska. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and its Alaska Chapter. When she’s not reading an insane amount of historical romances, she immerses myself in armchair astronomy and tabletop roleplaying games.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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romanceclass origins: H. Bentham

romanceclass origins
romanceclass is a community of authors and readers who gather together to support indie published contemporary romance written by Filipino authors. Whether they’re a reader or an author, all community members have their romanceclass origin story… various stories of how and when they joined the community. romanceclass origins is a blog feature that highlights these origin stories.

First post for this feature can be found here. And today, we have author H. Bentham on the blog for his guest post for romanceclass origins. Please give him warm welcome!

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1) How did you discover romanceclass?

My first writing class was actually #StrangeLit in 2015 and although Mina V. Esguerra was one of the mentors, I didn’t really know of the community until after that class was over. See, I wasn’t able to finish my ambitious novella for that – it’s still in progress to this day, tbh – and as I was tweeting to cheer on everyone else, I got to talk to other authors who were part of this community. One of those authors was Jay E. Tria, whose Songs of Our Breakup opened the doors to this marvelous world of Filipino Romance for me. Other authors who welcomed me to the fold were C.P. Santi (Be Careful What You Wish For), Tara Frejas (Paper Planes Back Home), Ana Tejano (Fall Like Rain) and Chris Mariano (Cover (Story) Girl).

I will admit that I have not given the romance genre, and Filipino books for that matter, the time of the day before I got my hands on these, but now I don’t read much of anything else aside from romance and my favorite books are by Filipino writers.

Eventually, I joined #romanceclass2016 and finally got to finish a manuscript of my own! And while that MS will probably never see the light of day (I was deeply problematic back then, don’t ask) one of my other stories reached publication a year after, through Summer Feels!

H. Bentham - romanceclass origins

Ben’s first romanceclass TBR pile

2) What does being part of the romanceclass community mean to you?

It means I get to do the things I love most – reading and writing – alongside people who get it. The kilig and abs the community constantly deliver (from the books, to the live-readings, to the Facebook Group discussions!) is a wonderful bonus!

I am very grateful to everyone, especially Mina and all the other authors I look up to, for allowing readers and beginning writers like me have this safe space to discuss things we’re passionate about, while also supporting us in reaching our dreams. I mean, I knew what I wanted to read about, what I wanted to write about and I’ve joined a ton of reading/writing groups because of that but only #romanceclass allowed me to learn the HOW to do it. It allowed me to experiment, to make mistakes, and essentially, to be my true self.

Honestly, becoming an actual writer is an amazing thing to achieve, but having all these wonderful people and call them friends? That’s the best part. 🙂

H. Bentham - romanceclass origins

Author Jay E. Tria signs something for Ben

3) What are your recommended romanceclass reads?

The thing with #romanceclass books is if you enjoy even 1 short story in the catalogue, you’ll CRAVE to read more of it. And then you’ll discover each book has this special something of their own while still staying true to the trademark #romanceclass kilig! It then becomes impossible to recommend even a just handful. LOL. Still, here’s my attempt to list my favorites:

  • Chic Manila Series by Mina V. Esguerra
  • Playlist Series – by Jay E. Tria
  • THE MULTI-AUTHOR ANTHOLOGIES, OMG: Kids These Days, Make My Wish Come True, Summer Feels, Summer Crush, Promdi Heart, 12 Months of Romance | 24 Stories to Love, and the upcoming Start Here!
  • Another Word for Happy by Agay Llanera
  • Don’t Tell My Mother by Brigitte Bautista
Love Your Frenemies - 2018 edition Songs of Our Breakup Another Word for Happy Don't Tell My Mother

Kids These Days Make My Wish Come True Summer Feels Summer Crush

Promdi Heart 12 Months of Romance Start Here - ebook

That’s my top of mind faves. LOL. I’m pretty sure I missed out on some of my favorite authors but I’m pretty sure the anthologies more than cover up for it.

Thank you Chachic for having me in your blog (so cute)! I didn’t expect to answer that second question so dramatically, but what can I say? I love talking and writing about romanceclass so much!

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H. BenthamH. Bentham’s stories are inspired by daydreams and aspirations that are not entirely his own. He wrote “Guide for A Day” for Summer Feels, a #romanceclass Anthology; and “The Watch Repairman’s Son” in the multi-genre anthology Beyond Light and Darkness. Reach him: @bentchbites everywhere (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Wattpad) and authorh.bentham@gmail.com

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Better At Weddings Than You Blog Tour: Food Inspiration

Mina V. Esguerra is a prolific Filipino romance author and the founder of #romanceclass, a community of Filipino romance authors who publish books independently. I have featured her books and her writing countless times here on my blog, and I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for her latest release: Better At Weddings Than You. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I need to work on a review to share more of my thoughts about it. Aside from romance books, one thing that Mina and I share is our love of food! I noticed that Better At Weddings Than You had references to some restaurants and certain dishes, and I thought it would be a great topic for a guest post. I hope this guest post will make you curious enough to read the book when it comes out, and also to try the food mentioned here! 🙂

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Food Inspiration: As featured in Better At Weddings Than You
by Mina V. Esguerra

My books are not about food, but they may as well be. I write contemporary romance but I also love food… and I keep talking about it. Especially when I’m writing anything set in the Philippines. With Better At Weddings Than You, the premise that the main characters Daphne and Aaron worked in the wedding industry formed the “menu” for this book. Here’s a selection and the real-life counterparts!

  • Christmas Eve dinner (Real thing: Spiral Restaurant at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel)
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Daphne and Aaron meet over Christmas Eve dinner at a fancy hotel restaurant by the Manila Bay, and if you’re familiar with the area it’s an easy guess that it might actually be Spiral Restaurant at the Sofitel. If you know me at all, then you’d be sure — I adore the large restaurant, the seafood, salads, meats, and the cheese room.

  • Tea shop meeting (Real things: Rustic Mornings and TWG)
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So the tea shop I describe in an early chapter of the book doesn’t actually exist (that I know of) but it’s based on the many small restaurants popping up in the city. It would have a look similar to Rustic Mornings by Isabelo in Marikina, but with a tea list that would remind you of a page from the menu of TWG. Just a page, because TWG of Singapore’s full menu would be too much for a quaint neighborhood tea place!

  • Caterer Food Tasting scene (Real thing: K by Cunanan)

How do you choose your caterer for your wedding? You taste their food. While planning my own wedding I (seriously) sampled the menus of three caterers, and one of the visits kind of went like the scene in my book. K by Cunanan is one caterer you’d encounter in the industry, and they did our wedding. We loved the food and their reception venue styling.

  • Chicharon salad (Real thing: Chef Sharwin Tee’s Tempura Bacon Salad)

In one scene, Daphne gets to reveal something about herself and I get to describe a decadent salad. Everything I said about the salad is directly from a food memory – of eating my friend Sharwin’s Tempura Bacon Salad at his restaurant. I replaced the bacon with chicharon though. If you can make this salad happen, let me know! I think it works well with a fruit vinaigrette, by the way.

Believe it or not, I had to edit this list so I don’t go on and on. Thank you, Chachic, for giving me the space on your blog! Better At Weddings Than You comes out April 15 and its Amazon link is here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XKS8Y1T

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Book Description:
Daphne Cardenas is the best wedding planner around, and everyone knows it. That’s why her friend Greg hired her as an emergency replacement one month before his wedding—because he fears his fiancée Helen is falling for the guy they first hired for the job.

Aaron Trinidad is new to the wedding industry but years of conference planning and loads of charm make him good at it. Really good at it. Planning the wedding of his friend Helen should be easy, and it is. To be unceremoniously fired isn’t good for his new career, but the chance to learn from the best might be the silver lining.

Aaron and Daphne have chemistry, but there’s history with Helen that at least one other person considers a threat. Who’s the planner who can fix this impending disaster?

(Part of the Chic Manila series, but can be read as a standalone.)

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Why The Edwardian Philippines: Guest Post by Author Jennifer Hallock

I’ve been hearing about author Jennifer Hallock for a while now, mostly from fellow Filipino romance readers. I was intrigued from the first time I found out that she writes historical romance set in the Philippines. I’ve been meaning to read her books for the longest time and finally found time to start Under the Sugar Sun, which is still my current read. I find the Philippine setting so refreshing compared to other historical romance reads! I asked Jennifer why she chose to write about this setting, and she was generous enough to write a guest post about it. Please give Jennifer a warm welcome and find out why her historical romances are set in my home country! As always, I hope this guest post will also encourage more readers to pick up her books. 🙂

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Why The Edwardian Philippines
by Jennifer Hallock

I am often asked why I set my romance novels in the middle of the Philippine-American War. Why not Regencies, which are far more marketable? I do love my dukes—I do. But, as you will see, I’m just too much of a history geek to pass up the complex, conflicting legacy of the Americans in the Philippines.

What’s wrong with Regency? Well, nothing. But do you ever wonder the odds of throwing a rock in a Regency romance and hitting a duke? Just exactly how many dukes were there in 1814? Only 25, actually—and only 576 peers above the degree of baronet. This means that out of a British population of almost 19 million, there was one duke for every 756,000 Brits, and one peer for every 33,000. That’s not many—but that’s their appeal, I suppose. Dukes are the billionaire trope of historical romance: desirable, virile, chiseled, strong, and dominant. But were they these things? Let’s start with: were they even young? Dukes in 1814 averaged over 50 years old—my hasty calculation based on Wikipedia peerage lists. And given the average Regency diet and sedentary lifestyle, the rest of the conceit might not hold up, either. But nevermind, because Regency romance has become a world unto itself—a fantasy of masked balls, flavored ices, and daring carriage races through the park. As escapism, these books have huge appeal.

For those of us who like a little more authenticity, historical romances set in Europe and the United States are growing more diverse. Authors like Beverly Jenkins, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole, KJ Charles, Rose Lerner, andAmara Royce, to name just a few, are more inclusive as regards to race, class, sexuality, and nationality. They bring a more representative picture to the romance reader.

English-language books with geographic diversity—set outside North America—are harder to find, though not impossible. Take Laura Kinsale’s sweeping love story, Dream Hunter, set in the Syrian desert — with nary a sheikh trope in sight! Or consider Jeannie Lin, who writes Tang dynasty historicals that make the China of a thousand years ago feel both fresh and familiar at the same time.

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It’s fabulous stuff. You get to travel in your head for (nearly) free! So, of all the places you could travel, why choose the Philippine-American War? How about because it is the most important war that America forgot? It’s barely studied in US high schools today, but that’s a mistake. It was a watershed moment that launched the American Century. Before the Philippines, the US swore off overseas possessions and entanglements. Not interested. But when America seized the Philippines in the Spanish-American War (1898), everything changed. The US began to talk about a special mission to shape the world in its own image—but not before engaging in vigorous internal debates over national debt, trade agreements, nation-building, immigration, and the use of military force. Do these issues sound familiar? They should. The America of today was defined by what happened in the Philippines. George Santayana said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” But it is not good enough to just remember the past. You should experience it yourself. That’s the garden where empathy grows. That’s where you get all the feels.

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And you need the feels. Writing happily-ever-afters is a needed tonic to digest all this history. As author Alisha Rai tweeted, “our basic genre requirement…[is] that there’s no black moment that love cannot overcome.” Thus, I wrote a story about an American schoolteacher, one of a thousand sent to the Philippines to establish the first co-educational, secular public school system in Asia. (When I began Under the Sugar Sun, I was also an American schoolteacher in the Philippines. “Write what you know,” as they say.) My heroine, Georgina Potter, represents the best of what America has to offer, but it may not be good enough for Filipino nationalist Javier Altarejos—a sugar baron who is better educated, better traveled, and a better linguist than the Yankee colonial officials sent to “civilize” him. (Their word, not mine.) As Georgina questions her country’s agenda, so does the reader. And, of course, love conquers all because—hello!—romance!

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With the exception of the prequel novella, Hotel Oriente, all my books are interracial romances. These couples forge a path that is not easy, but totally worth it. This moral of multiculturalism is a little advanced for the time period—a deliberate anachronism—but no more so than any of the little lies in Regency romance. My latest novella, Tempting Hymn, is about finding love in the time of cholera*, colonial inequities, and church politics. It is a story of second chances, redemption, and compassion. Because today, in a world of fake news and a remorseless internet, we need empathy more than ever. And love. We need lots and lots of love.

*With my apologies to Gabriel García Márquez.

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Jennifer Hallock is author of the Sugar Sun historical romance series, set in the American colonial Philippines. At her day job, she teaches a trimester course to high school seniors called America in the Philippines, a part of a larger sequence on the history of American imperialism. She studied Southeast Asian history at university and grad school, and then lived and worked in Manila for four years.

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Author Guest Post from Thessa Lim

Hello, bookish friends! Today, I have a guest post from Filipino author Thessa Lim. Both Thessa and I are based in Singapore (and also studied in the same university) but we’ve yet to meet. Hopefully we can do that soon. 🙂 She has recently launched her debut contemporary novel in her Of Heads and Hearts series. I’ve received a review copy of it but because of my huge TBR pile, I have no idea when I’ll be able to read or review it. But because I’m always interested in promoting Filipino authors, I invited her over on the blog to give all of you a better idea of what her life as a writer is like. Please give Thessa a warm welcome!

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All in a Day’s Work
By Thessa Lim

thessa-lim-1

Since I’ve published my first novel, people have been asking me how I find the time to write. At first, it might seem like a writer is able to set a whole day simply and purely for writing. He would just drive to a nice café and write effortlessly as inspiration runs loose in his head. But a lot of writers maintain day jobs and have families to tend. And so here goes my version of a working-mother-slash-writer’s day.

thessa-lim-3The Early Morn Apparition – My day as a writer does not start at eight a.m., with me lounging next to my laptop, having a slice of toasted baguette and a cup of hot cocoa on hand. It starts at three a.m., which is when I usually rouse into some state of consciousness after having put my little boy to sleep five hours back. My husband is out like a light too. Yes! I position my Lenovo Yoga at the foot of the bed, sit on my son’s little blue chair, turn on my book light, and start working. I look pretty much like a White Lady staying by people’s bed at night, but my husband knows better. So if he somewhat awakens while my mouse goes a-clicking, he doesn’t scream. Although it is spent in semi-darkness, this is my writer’s me time. It’s like gold.

thessa-lim-2The Lunch Hour Rush – I grab my tablet, hurry out of the office, and head to the nearest café. While silently condemning the customer before me in the queue for taking time with his order, I check that my favorite spot is free. I then quickly chope it. Later, I settle down at the table and take a bite out of a cheap eat from the menu. Didn’t I just have this the other day? I scan the food list again for more scrumptious offerings. I see the prices. This’ll do. Nomnomnomnom.

thessa-lim-5The Final Fix at EOD – I step onto the station’s platform. Two trains going in opposite directions whizz by. I glance at the clock. Fifteen minutes before I definitely have to head home—this window is good enough. I sit on a bench. After ten trains have come and gone, I’ve either edited half of a chapter or added in a couple of paragraphs. I then squeeze into a train with the rest of the throng and continue tapping on my device’s screen, like a freaking nerd who won’t give it a rest, balancing the gadget so that I could work on it without hitting other people.

I reach home, where my husband and son would be — my two other great joys.

My days are hectic, tiring. And while I look forward to more leisurely days, I’m grateful that I’m inspired, able to write, and able to publish.

This is my writer’s daily grind. What’s yours like? 🙂

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Thessa is the author of the book Of Heads and Hearts in the Metro, a new adult fiction for women set in modern-day Philippines. The book, which revolves around the struggles and triumphs of four Filipinas and which is the first installment in the Of Heads and Hearts series, reveals the life-saving element of friendship and the intricate dynamics within it. To know more, visit her website at http://www.thessalim.com or like her Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ThessaLimOfficial.

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