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. 🙂

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#BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy – Week 1 Round Up

It’s been more than a week since #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy started! Find out more about the event here, and as mentioned earlier, I hope you guys take this chance to read books written by Filipino authors. Since I’m a supporter of romanceclass authors (Indie pubbed Filipino romance written in English), I made a thread on Twitter of books that are currently on sale for just 0.99usd. Go and browse through the list of more than 20 titles. More will be added in the coming days.

Look at that, I finally figured out how to center align an embedded tweet on WordPress, yay! Okay, moving on to the topic on hand… I wanted to do a round up of the posts I’ve made on Instagram so far. I wasn’t able to do posts on a daily basis, I missed a few days but hoping to do more in the coming weeks! Let’s see how it goes.

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#BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy: I had lunch with Honey and Tarie earlier today, two out of the three ladies behind the @lovethemidlist account. They pair midlist book recommendations with skincare products they love. So my post today was inspired by what they do. Cover Story Girl by @islandstorygirl is a fun beach romance set in Boracay Island, with a Filipino hero and a Korean heroine. Full disclosure, Chris Mariano is a good friend so I may be biased but I'm a fan of her writing. Skincare-wise, I absolutely love @vanderohe's no. 1 face serum: a blend of rosehip, grapeseed, apricot kernel carrier oils plus 8 essential oils. It's organic, smells amazing, feels awesome on my skin and has helped my face become smoother and clearer. One stop skincare solution in a bottle!

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If you’re interested in featuring or reading Filipino books, there’s still lots of time for you to join #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy. What books written by Filipino authors are in your TBR pile?

Holiday Book Haul

I think I may be allergic to the office. I went back to work on Tuesday and then I got a fever and a sore throat that evening. I kept going to the office and just slept as early as I can at night but I lost my voice yesterday evening so today, I gave in and went to the doctor to get a medical certificate so I could take the rest of the day off to rest.

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While I was able to take a nap this afternoon, I wasn’t able to get any reading done. In fact, I should be getting ready for bed now but I wanted to squeeze in a quick post about my book haul during the holiday season. The order is kind of a mess but these were the books I acquired:

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Last Friday's brunch meet up with Filipino readers and authors: Celina, Chris, Mina, Honey and Kim

Brunch meet up with Filipino readers and authors: Celina, Chris, Mina, Honey and Kim

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Some other books I bought/downloaded for free, but were only posted on Litsy and not Instagram so I can’t embed them here:
Dark Horse by Michelle Diener
The Future Chosen by Mina V. Esguerra
Big Rock by Lauren Blakely
The Art of Deception by Stephanie Burgis
Alex + Ada Volume 3 by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn

I was also very excited to receive these review copies of my anticipated books:

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A new Laura Florand is always something to be happy about. She's one of my favorite romance authors. I've loved all of the other titles in her La vie en Roses series set in Grasse, France, featuring a family in the perfume business. I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy this one too. I couldn't resist taking a pic of A Crown of Bitter Orange with this bottle of orange blossom EDT (I bought the cologne version). Maybe I should have done this for Once Upon a Rose and A Wish Upon Jasmine too? 📖🌹 FYI, Once Upon a Rose is on sale for just 0.99usd now. Such a good bargain! . . . #LauraFlorand #ACrownofBitterOrange #LavieenRoses #romance #bookblogger #reviewcopy #bookstagram #instabooks #bibliophile #IGreads #IGbooks #booksPH #Litsy #ChristineLhuillierParfumerie #fragrance #perfume

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When I woke up this morning, I saw the notification that @berkleyromance approved my NetGalley request for Julie James' latest novel. Thank you!!📖🎉 One of my most anticipated titles in 2017 because she writes the best romantic banter.💖 I'm always surprised (in a good way) whenever I'm approved for a review copy because as an international reader/blogger, my default expectation is to be rejected.😂 @fantaghiro23, we were just talking about this book yesterday! . . . #JulieJames #TheThingAboutLove #BerkleyRomance #romance #bookblogger #reviewcopy #bookstagram #instabooks #bibliophile #IGreads #IGbooks #booksPH #Litsy #NetGalley #Kindle #bookandlunch #CafeBreton #cafehopping #foodstagram #Manilafoodie #foodieManila

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I feel like this moment of my book blogging experience should be highlighted because I have review copies by my favorite authors: Ilona Andrews, Andrea K. Host, Julie James, Laura Florand and Lucy Parker! 🙂 I’ve already read White Hot and In Arcadia (short review on Litsy) but I’m having a difficult time choosing which one to prioritize among the remaining three. Now I just need Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner and The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein and I’ll be all set. 😀

I was also able to pass on some of the physical books that I have in my Manila bookshelf to friends when we had a get together. I really feel bad that my books have just been sitting neglected on my shelf and they’re aging fast because of heat and humidity. I feel better that they’re now with people who would potentially enjoy reading them. I think I’ve culled like half of my bookshelf back home, I’ve mostly kept signed books and the ones that I plan to reread.

I hope this post wasn’t too confusing with its mix of Instagram and Litsy links. As you can see, I’ve tried to be active on other social media sites but I know it’s also a good idea to consolidate all of those posts here on WordPress. I’m off to rest! What about you, have you received or bought any books recently? 🙂

#romanceclass Meet Up at Books and Borders

According to the group’s website, #romanceclass are Filipinos who read and write romance and publish them independently. I know a few of the members through my blog and I’ve been jealous of all the meet-ups and activities that they’ve been having on a regular basis. Which was why I was thrilled to find out that there was going to be a meet up during the time I’m on vacation in Manila. We met last May 21 at the Books and Borders branch in Tomas Morato. A book cafe is the perfect location for a meet up with romance readers and authors. Here’s a picture of the cafe from my previous visit:

Book and Borders - tables

Book and Borders - couch

We talked about books, of course. From romance to everything else that we’ve read or we’re planning to read. We talked about the type of romances and type of heroes we like. And we also talked about the most random things, just anything that we could think of. We also passed around books and swag that we wanted to pass on to fellow readers. Being based in Singapore, I don’t get to attend bookish meet ups like this as often as I would want to, so I was somewhat starved for that kind of conversation. I think it goes without saying that I had a great time! Here’s a group picture from Kat of Book Thingo:

romanceclass meet up - May 2016

From left to right: Agay, Chris, Kim, Anna, Kat, Mina, Jothee, Tina, Ron and me. We all look like we’re having fun, right? My haul included signed books, a magazine, bookmarks, postcards, shortbread and Philippine MANGOES! Thank you for the goodies, friends. 🙂

#romanceclass - May 2016 haul

I also just wanted to share the awesomeness that is the back cover of Choco Chip Hips by Agay Llanera, which includes a quote from my review of the book:

Choco Chip Hips - back copy

Too bad it’s a limited indie edition and there probably wouldn’t be more copies of it. I bought three to give to my friends! 😀

Christmas Shopping – Manila Edition

In my previous post about Christmas shopping, I mentioned that I was planning to get Filipino titles to give as gifts to friends. I wanted to support the local writing community and at the same time, encourage my real life friends to read. So I ordered books from Filipino authors even before I flew home to Manila. To make the gifts even more special, I asked the authors if they could personalize the books and they very kindly agreed to do so.

When I got home, a package was waiting for me. It contained five copies of Loveless. Childless. Clueless. by Miren B. Flores:

Loveless. Childless. Clueless gifts

On the same day that I landed, I met up with my friend Chris Mariano, author of Cover (Story) Girl. We had dinner at Cibo in ShangriLa but I was super hungry so I wasn’t able to take any pictures of the food. Here’s a fangirl pic instead:

Chris Mariano fangirl shot

Cover Story Girl gifts

I also dropped by the bookstore in that mall and grabbed three copies of the first installment of the Trese graphic novel series:

Trese gifts

The next day, I met up with authors Mina V. Esguerra, Tina Matanguihan, my friend Kim and newfound friend Jothee at Tweedle Book Cafe (more about that meet up in a separate post). I was able to get the pile of books that I ordered from Mina plus a freebie of What You Wanted:

Mina V. Esguerra books as gifts

Here’s the whole pile of the various titles that I bought:

Filipino books as Christmas gifts

I was really excited to start giving these books as gifts that I didn’t even bother with wrapping them up, since I wanted my friends to see the signature and messages inside as soon as they could. Fellow book blogger Kim was the first recipient:

Kim with Loveless Childless Clueless

Followed by three girlfriends who were thrilled to receive personalized copies of books. I think this is the first time they’ve gotten books specifically signed for them. They were so happy that they took pictures of the books (here, here and here) as well as the messages (here, here and here).

Chuchay, Mich and Ena with gifts

They wanted to start reading the books right away. I made a point of giving them different titles so they can swap and borrow each other’s copies once they’re done. Based on my friends’ reactions, I think I can safely say that my mission has been accomplished. 🙂 Fingers crossed that my other friends will be just as happy with what they’re getting.

Cover Reveal: Cover Story Girl by Chris Mariano

Cover Story Girl written by my friend Chris Mariano for Mina V. Esguerra’s romance class, was previously published independently. It’s a romance novella set in Boracay Island, one of the most popular beaches in the Philippines and features a Filipino guy who works as an assistant museum curator and a Korean tourist who visits the beach. It will be re-published by Visprint as part of their romance class series. Yay Visprint for publishing more Filipino romances!

The cover was illustrated by Jamie Bauza . I think it’s a good fit for the story and I like the summery vibe of the design. I also noticed that the design includes items that are significant to the story such as calamansi muffins.

New cover and blurb:
Cover-Story-Girl

Cover-Story-Girl-2

About the Author:
Cover (Story) Girl is Chris Mariano’s first published romance work, but her speculative fiction and poetry have appeared in Fully Booked’s Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards Prose Anthology, Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 7, TAYO Literary Magazine, and Ideomancer. When she’s not writing,she supports Eskritoryo Pilipinas, an organization that encourages kids to appreciate Filipino literature and culture. Chris divides her time between Manila and Aklan. Boracay is a two-hour trip from their home in Kalibo. She’s also a fan of Korean telenovelas, which is why common K-drama plot devices are referenced in the story. She’s already working on her next novella, also set in Aklan.

Follow Chris through Twitter or her blog. Chris will be at the Manila International Book Fair 2015 on September 17 to sign books from 1:30 to 3:30 pm, in case you’re planning to attend the event.

#BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy Round Up

At the start of August, I talked about the #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy campaign. I tried to read and feature as many Filipino books as I could but sadly, I wasn’t able to read all of the ones that I have on my TBR pile. Anyway, I posted these shots either on Instagram or Twitter and wanted to consolidate everything in one place so here we go…

Books I read:

Una & Miguel

Una and Miguel by Lilledeshan Bose, a Filipino YA novel. The bright yellow and purple cover went well with the table setting at PS Cafe.

Shine by Candy Gourlay

Yes, I’m in Singapore but I still read (and promote) Filipino books! Shine by Candy Gourlay at Cocoa Colony. This Filipino MG novel was also published in the UK so it’s available all over the world if you’re interested in reading Filipino lit.

Shine by Candy Gourlay - chapter heading

Sneak peek inside Shine by Candy Gourlay

Someone Else's Fantasy by Mina V. Esguerra

I know it’s not obvious but this is an early copy of Someone Else’s Fantasy by Mina V. Esguerra with my matcha latte. I believe this will be released with a different title and cover soon.

Still reading:

Banana Heart Summer

Banana Heart Summer by Merlinda Bobis

Books I’ve read but wanted to encourage other readers to pick up:

Cover Story Girl with mocha

Cover Story Girl by Chris Mariano, Set in sunny and gorgeous Boracay, one of the most famous beaches in the Philippines, this is a sweet romance between a Filipino guy and a Korean girl.

Interim Goddess of Love paperbacks

Signed copies of the first two books in the Interim Goddess of Love trilogy, with cucumber mint tea and blueberry chocolate lavender tart.

Looking back on these pictures, I think it becomes obvious that I have a thing for coffee and tea. 😛 As always, I hope more readers will be encouraged to read these Filipino titles!

Giveaway: Cover (Story) Girl by Chris Mariano

Cover Story Girl wallpaper

Last July 30, 2013, my friend Chris Mariano published Cover (Story) Girl, a contemporary Filipino romance written in English about what happens when an assistant museum curator meets a Korean tourist with a secret or two. The novella features Boracay Island and Aklan prominently. It also contains about 40,200 words, including a glossary for Tagalog and Aklanon terms mentioned in the story. It was published independently.

From the Amazon page:

1) She has amnesia.
2) She’s on the run from herfather’s creditors.
3) She’s enjoying herlast days on earth.

Ever since Jang Min Hee walked into Gio’ssmall museum,she’s given him one excuse after another about why she’s vacationing atscenic Boracay Island. Rarely has Gio’s neat and organized world been shaken like this. Soon he finds himselfscrambling overrocks, hiding in dressing rooms, and dragging her out of bars. But howcan Gio tell what’strue from what isn’t? Their worlds are getting unraveled – one story at a time.

About the Author:
Cover (Story) Girl is Chris Mariano’s first published romance work, but her speculative fiction and poetry have appeared in Fully Booked’s Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards Prose Anthology, Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 7, TAYO Literary Magazine, and Ideomancer. When she’s not writing,she supports Eskritoryo Pilipinas, an organization that encourages kids to appreciate Filipino literature and culture. Chris divides her time between Manila and Aklan. Boracay is a two-hour trip from their home in Kalibo. She’s also a fan of Korean telenovelas, which is why common K-drama plot devices are referenced in the story. She’s already working on her next novella, also set in Aklan.

Follow Chris through Twitter or her blog.

Download links for wallpapers, in case you want them:
1280 x 960
1440 x 900
1600 x 900

Now for the giveaway! Five lucky winners will get an ebook edition of Cover (Story) Girl just by leaving a comment with an answer to this question: who would you want to go on a beach vacation with? Giveaway ends on August 24, I’ll randomly pick the winners the next day. Open internationally to anyone who has a Smashwords account.

Giveaway is closed. Winners have been contacted.

New Release: Cover (Story) Girl by Chris Mariano

Tuesday was a good day in terms of book releases. Three titles that I was excited to be published came out yesterday, namely The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand, Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews and Cover (Story) Girl by Chris Mariano. I’ve finished reading The Chocolate Touch and I need to work on a review for that. Magic Rises is already waiting on my Kindle, I want to finish rereading the earlier books before I start on it though – I’m still in the middle of Magic Burns. Since I’m planning to review the two other titles later on, I want to talk about Cover (Story) Girl.

Chris of Ficsation is a pretty good friend of mine. I was excited when I found out that she wrote a novella for Mina V. Esguerra’s romance class. I offered to be a beta reader and provide feedback on her writing. Since I was a beta reader for Cover (Story) Girl, I don’t think it would be fair for me to review it. It’s a light and fun romance set in Boracay and the surrounding areas. Boracay is one of the most famous beaches in the Philippines because of its clear blue waters and powder white sands. Chris’ writing made me want to visit the place again since I haven’t been there in ages. I also like that the main character is a Filipino guy who works in a small museum in Boracay while the love interest is a Korean tourist. I think that’s an interesting set-up. I think the cover is really pretty and fits the story well.

Cover Story GirlHere’s the summary from Goodreads:

1) She has amnesia.
2) She’s on the run from her father’s creditors.
3) She’s enjoying her last days on earth.

Ever since Jang Min Hee walked into Gio’s small museum, she’s given him one excuse after another about why she’s vacationing at scenic Boracay Island. Rarely has Gio’s neat and organized world been shaken like this. Soon he finds himself scrambling over rocks, hiding in dressing rooms, and dragging her out of bars. But how can Gio tell what’s true from what isn’t? Their worlds are getting unraveled – one story at a time.

Amazon
Smashwords

It’s only USD 0.99 so I think that’s a pretty good price to try out a new author. Congrats, Chris! I’m so excited for your novella.