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:

______________________________________________________________________________________
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?

______________________________________________________________________________________

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

______________________________________________________________________________________

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. 🙂

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Best of 2016

Happy New Year! 😀 I think we can all agree that 2016 was a difficult year on so many levels. There was so many things happening on an international scale, as well as in the Philippines (which still affects me a great deal even if I’m based in Singapore for work). On a personal front, I resigned from my previous job and started a new one. It hasn’t been smooth sailing and I’ve been struggling with having a sense of belonging. Of course, all of these have affected my reading and blogging life, which is why I haven’t been posting as much as I would want to. I’m still online on a daily basis but it has been easier for me to constantly update the social networks that I have on my phone such as Litsy (username: Chachic), Twitter and Instagram. Going forward, I think this will continue for a while. It’s just so much easier for me to check, update and reply on my phone. My laptop has been acting up and it’s been a pain to open it up and go online. Plus real life stuff happening has made everything harder. The struggle is real!

Anyway, I have a tradition of posting my favorite reads for the previous year whenever the new year rolls around, I’m a few days late but it’s still within the first week of 2017! You can check out my previous posts through these links: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. In no particular order, here are the books that I loved in 2016 (linked to my reviews if I have them):

a-darker-shade-of-magic a-gathering-of-shadows The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms the-broken-kingdoms

a-promise-of-fire magic-binds master-of-crows

Act Like It Summer Skin In the Middle of Somewhere Out of Nowhere

Amulet The Stonekeeper Monstress fresh-romance

It’s safe to say that I read more than I blogged in 2016. 😛 That’s seven speculative fiction titles, four contemporary romance and three graphic novels. It’s funny because the easiest genre for me to get into is contemporary romance but it looks like the books that stand out more for me are fantasy titles. I think my sweet spot is fantasy with a well-written romance. In addition to these, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you would know that I’ve been trying to read and promote books written by Filipino authors. I haven’t read that many of them this year but the ones I enjoyed reading have been:

Beginner's Guide - Love and Other Chemical Reactions Iris After the Incident

That’s 2016 for me. How was yours? What were your favorite reads from the past year? 🙂

NCBD Blog Tour: Favorite Filipino Children and Young Adult Titles

I found out about the upcoming 32nd National Children’s Books Day from Chrissie’s blog post. I loved that she highlighted Filipino children and young adult titles. There is an ongoing NCBD blog tour and this week’s topic is this:

Hulyo 7-13: Paboritong Aklat
Ano ang paborito mong aklat pambata at pangkabataan? (Kailangang isinulat o iginuhit ito ng isang Pilipino. Maaari namang maglista nang higit sa isa pa.)
________

July 7-13: Favorite Book
What is your favorite children and young adult book? (It should have been written or illustrated by a Filipino. Feel free to list more than one.)

NCBD Blog Tour Header

I am so jealous of the titles available to Filipino children and young adult readers today. When I was young, there weren’t as many local books to choose from. But there were a few that I loved. I distinctly remember being a huge fan of books published by the Batibot brand. Batibot was a Filipino kiddie TV show similar to Sesame Street. Some of the kiddie books I read over and over again were:

Sina Linggit Laban kay Barakuda ni Tom F. Agulto & Rene O. Villanueva
Ang Pamilya Ismid ni Ramoncito Serrano & Rene O. Villanueva
Si Inggolok at ang Planeta Pakaskas ni Rene O. Villanueva & Lem Garcellano

Sina Linggit Laban kay Barakuda
Ang Pamilya Ismid
Si Inggolok at ang Planeta Pakaskas

I remember my nursery school even put up a play enacting Sina Linggit Laban kay Barakuda and I was Linggit! Too bad my photo albums are all back in Manila, otherwise I’d try to hunt down a picture.

Nowadays, I try to encourage my godchildren to read by giving them books for their birthdays and during Christmastime. I’ve read several Filipino children’s books while choosing what titles to buy for them. A recent favorite was Ang Bonggang Bonggang Batang Beki, which I discovered through Filipino author Mina V. Esguerra.

Bonggang Bonggang Batang Beki

A few years ago, I attended the Manila book launch of Candy Gourlay’s Tall Story, a middle grade novel partially set in the Philippines. I enjoyed reading it and I’ve recommended it to other people as well. I have Candy’s Shine in my TBR pile and I’m planning to read it soon. These two books are available internationally so I happily recommend them to reader friends who are interested in reading Filipino books.

Tall Story

What about you, what are Filipino children or young adult books have you enjoyed reading?

Snapshot From a Book: Interim Goddess of Love

I’ve mentioned before that Mina V. Esguerra’s setting for her Interim Goddess of Love trilogy (my reviews of Interim Goddess of Love, Queen of the Clueless, Icon of the Indecisive) strongly reminds me of our alma mater – Mina and I went to the same school. I’ve also posted pictures of the Ateneo de Manila University but I wanted to do it again now while highlighting certain sections out of Interim Goddess of Love for this Snapshot From a Book post. I have such fond memories of studying in Ateneo – I met some of my closest friends there, had inspiring teachers and classes, enjoyed extra-curricular activities and just generally liked hanging out in school. Reading the Interim Goddess of Love books brought back some of those memories. Here are a few quotes and photos:

“Located just outside of Metro Manila, Ford River College was a relatively new school (compared to the over-a-century-old ones put up during the Spanish and American periods), but it already had a reputation for being the place to send your children if they were very smart, or if you were very rich. I was there on scholarship, but I didn’t think that automatically put me in the camp of very smart. Maybe lucky.”

LomoAteneo

“Did I want to go to Ford River? I visited the campus and it looked beautiful, its brick buildings scattered in a field of green that looked out onto an actual (clean) creek on one side, and a hill on the other. I went to high school in the middle of Manila, and maybe I’d had enough of that.”

LomoAteneo2

lomoateneo4

This last bit is not related to the setting but it’s a beautiful quote so I wanted to include it:

“Because, though I’d seen and felt just a fraction of all the love in the world, I knew that when people thought of love they thought of moments. Whether or not a marriage worked out, or if they stayed together after graduation, or if they did go to the big dance together, the story’s end mattered less, and the highlights in between mattered more. Those are what lingered, and what people can go back to, even when they had nothing left.”

lomoateneo5

Giveaway: Interim Goddess of Love Trilogy

Interim Goddess of Love_digital coverQueen of the CluelessIcon of the Indecisive

Mina V. Esguerra’s Interim Goddess of Love trilogy is now available in an omnibus Kindle edition. This is a series set in a fictional college in the Philippines. It has a contemporary setting with some Philippine mythology mixed in. Mina has very generously offered a Kindle edition up for grabs, you just need to have an Amazon account (or be willing to sign up for one) to join. As always, I can’t embed the Rafflecopter widget on my blog so click HERE instead.

Summary of the trilogy:

College sophomore Hannah Maquiling doesn’t know why everyone tells her their love problems. She’s never even had a boyfriend, but that doesn’t stop people from spilling their guts to her, and asking for advice. So maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise when the cutest guy in school tells her that she’s going to have to take on this responsibility — but for all humanity.

The Goddess of Love has gone AWOL. It’s a problem, because her job is to keep in check this world’s obsession with love (and lack of it). The God of the Sun, for now an impossibly handsome senior at an exclusive college just outside of Metro Manila, thinks Hannah has what it takes to (temporarily) do the job.

INTERIM GODDESS OF LOVE: While she’s learning to do this goddess thing, she practices on the love troubles of shy Kathy, who’s got a secret admirer on campus. Hannah’s mission, should she choose to accept it, is to make sure that he’s not a creepy stalker and they find their happily ever after — or at least something that’ll last until next semester. (As if she could refuse! The Sun God asked so nicely. And he’s so, well, hot.)

QUEEN OF THE CLUELESS: If you’ve been feeling neglected by the Goddess of Love lately, don’t worry — Hannah Maquiling, college sophomore, is in training to take over. The Original Goddess is missing, but Hannah is Interim Goddess now, and she should figure out how to solve humanity’s love problems soon. Quin (God of the Sun) is still her mentor, still really hot, but apparently isn’t as honest about his other earthly relationships as she thought. It’s frustrating, and enough to make her check out possibilities with Diego (God of the Sea) and Robbie (Cute Human).

In the meantime, she’s decided to spend some of her precious training time helping to break up a relationship, instead of putting one together. Why? Because the girl in question happens to be her best friend Sol, whose boyfriend is stealing not just from her, but from other people on campus. Sol didn’t exactly summon the Goddess, but this is what power over Love is for, right? Surely it’s not just about matchmaking, but ending doomed relationships too. (Even when it’s not what people want.)

ICON OF THE INDECISIVE: College student Hannah Maquiling, also temporarily working as the Goddess of Love, has had enough of everyone asking for her help when it comes to relationships. It’s her turn to find romance! She deserves it, after serving as matchmaker and confidant to everyone else in Ford River College for the past year. She’s had a crush on handsome senior (and God of the Sun) Quin forever, but he’s destined to fall in love with an extraordinary mortal woman, so she’s figured her chances with him have pretty much dropped to zero.

It’s not like she doesn’t have any options for a classic college romance though. There’s Diego, God of the Sea and Quin’s best friend/enemy. And regular guy Robbie is stepping up, making sure she knows how he feels about her. How hard can it be for a goddess to find someone to love, and be loved in return?

My reviews:
Interim Goddess of Love
Queen of the Clueless
Icon of the Indecisive

Young and Scambitious by Mina V. Esguerra

I grabbed Young and Scambitious while it was available for free on Amazon. I think the cover looks great, it has an intriguing and glamorous feel that goes well with the premise. Yesterday, I couldn’t decide what to read next so I thought I’d start on this short story because it would be easy to get into. I started reading it on the train ride on the way to work in the morning and was able to finish it on the way back in the afternoon.

Young and ScambitiousHere’s the summary from Goodreads:

Who is Elizabeth Madrid, exactly? She’s Manila’s latest It Girl–stylish, staple of the club scene, new best friend of famous-for-being-famous Chrysalis Magnolia. She’s also a jewelry clan heiress, a former model, an Ivy Leaguer… except no one actually knew of her until last year. Shouldn’t her new society friends be more suspicious? Especially “BFF” Chrysalis, who reportedly already lost an expensive ring to a friend who turned out to be a thief?

I like that this story focuses on the Manila socialite scene and the people who prey on the rich. While I’ve never been into that kind of scene, I think it’s interesting to read about it. Even though Jane is a con artist, I really liked her as a character. I feel like she’s only doing what she has to do in order to survive. She’s good at playing out different roles and she takes advantage of that skill. I also like that she’s a reader, I think it’s always nice when a character likes to read.

“Jane liked to go to libraries. She spent a lot of time in them growing up, and she had had to grow up in several places. Later she started seeing how each building was different. In one place, old and regal; in another, shabby and musty.

So since the preparation for the Chrysalis Magnolia job had her visit Singapore, a city with a (shiny and modern) public library, she naturally had to go there on her only day free.”

I thought it was pretty cool that the story was partially set in Singapore, in a library! I could totally relate to that. I also liked that even though the story is so short, there was still enough room for some romance. My only issue with this short story is that I felt like the whole thing ended a bit abruptly. I kind of got the feeling there should be more to the ending that what I got. Maybe I wouldn’t have minded if I knew that the ending was meant to leave readers hanging? According to Mina, there will are probable sequels to this but no definite date on when they will be published. I think that will give readers a fuller perspective of the story that was introduced in Young and Scambitious. Check this out if you want a quick read that you can finish in one sitting or if you want to give Mina’s writing a try.

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.

Review and Giveaway: All’s Fair in Blog and War by Chrissie Peria

I heard about All’s Fair in Blog and War as soon as it came out. While I’ve never met Chrissie Peria in person, we share some common friends (she’s good friends with my flatmates as well as fellow Filipino book blogger Chris of Ficsation). Plus, she wrote her novella for Mina V. Esguerra’s romance class so Mina is another person who is actively promoting this title. I was planning to read All’s Fair in Blog and War sooner or later because I was curious about the premise and I think the cover is pretty cute. I just decided to bump it up the TBR pile because of all the recommendations floating around.

All's Fair in Blog and WarHere’s the summary from Goodreads:

Five Cuevas @fivetravels
Three guesses to where I’m going next. Starts with an M. Ends with a U. Has a lechon named after it. #travel

Travel blogger Five thinks she has hit the jackpot when the Macau Tourism Board invites her over for an all-expense-paid blogger tour in exchange for blogging about Macau. But while she happily signs up for the trip, she didn’t sign up to be travel buddies with the infuriating Jesse. Will her dream vacation turn into a nightmare junket? Or will falling in love be on the itinerary?

It’s always fun to read about bloggers even if they don’t blog about books. The last novella that I read that had a blogger main character was All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate by Laura Florand (funny that the two titles are so similar). I really enjoyed the blogging aspect of Five’s life because I could relate to it – how her blog shapes her vacation plans and how it’s more than just a hobby for her. That’s how I feel about my blog as well, a niche blog can take over your life like that. She’s a lot luckier than me though because look at how she won a contest to visit Macau to blog about it! Would love to have a similar huge blog-related experience. I was also interested in reading more about the tourist attractions in Macau because I’ve never been there. From what I heard from friends, I always thought there wouldn’t be a lot to do in Macau if you’re not into gambling but looks like I made the wrong assumption because Jesse and Five found more than enough things to occupy their time. As a foodie, I also enjoyed hearing details about what kind of dishes and snacks are available in Macau. This novella made me want to have an egg tart! Good thing they’re pretty common here in Singapore. One other thing that Five and I had in common was this:

I knew I was early, so I found a comfortable spot and pulled out a well-worn copy of Pride and Prejudice. I always revert to Austen when I’m in between books. P&P has always been my favorite, so it was the book I decided to pack for this trip.

That little snippet was while she was waiting at the airport. I always bring a book (or my Kindle) with me whenever I travel so I can’t even count the number of times I’ve read books in airports. And Pride and Prejudice is also my favorite Austen. *P&P high five* While I think that All’s Fair in Blog and War is a light and fun read, I also felt like it would have been better if it was a little longer. I’m not sure if word count was a factor that had to be considered for the romance class which produced this novella, but I would have liked to see more character development, more tension or kilig (swoon-worthy) moments between the two main characters. Other than that, I found this an enjoyable read. Recommended for contemporary romance readers who would like to try Filipino fiction. This is the kind of book that you can finish in one sitting, maybe while waiting to check in or board or even during a flight. For a more interactive experience, readers can follow the characters on Instagram: fivetravels, and Twitter: @5travels and @wanderingcamera.

Macau postcard from Anj

What a coincidence, I received a postcard from Macau today!

All right, giveaway time! Chrissie was generous enough to provide codes for free copies for the Smashwords edition of All’s Fair in Blog and War. To join the giveaway, leave a comment letting us know what country in Asia are you most interested in visiting? Aside from Macau, I’d love to go to Cambodia, Vietnam and South Korea. Giveaway ends July 19 and three winners will be chosen randomly. Open internationally to anyone who has a Smashwords account. Oy, if you don’t win, the book is only USD 0.99 so feel free to grab your own copy.

Giveaway has ended and winners have been notified.

Other reviews:
One More Page

Icon of the Indecisive by Mina V. Esguerra

Icon of the Indecisive by Mina V. Esguerra is the third book in the Interim Goddess of Love trilogy. The first two books in the series are Interim Goddess of Love and Queen of the Clueless. Do you need to read the books in order? Yes, unless you want to get really confused. They’re all tied together, with Hannah as the main character, tasked with helping college students with their love problems. Mina compared the series to a TV show, with the first two books as different episodes and Icon of the Indecisive as the season finale. I received an advanced review copy of this for the audio commentary that Mina organized with several other bloggers. Here’s my account of that experience and feel free to download the file over at Mina’s website.

Here’s the summary from Mina’s website:

Icon of the IndecisiveCollege student Hannah Maquiling, also temporarily working as the Goddess of Love, has had enough of everyone asking for her help when it comes to relationships. It’s her turn to find romance! She deserves it, after serving as matchmaker and confidant to everyone else in Ford River College for the past year. She’s had a crush on handsome senior (and God of the Sun) Quin forever, but he’s destined to fall in love with an extraordinary mortal woman, so she’s figured her chances with him have pretty much dropped to zero.

It’s not like she doesn’t have any options for a classic college romance though. There’s Diego, God of the Sea and Quin’s best friend/enemy. And regular guy Robbie is stepping up, making sure she knows how he feels about her. How hard can it be for a goddess to find someone to love, and be loved in return?

It was nice to be back in Ford River College, a setting that I enjoyed reading about because it reminded me of my own college experience. I feel like I keep saying this but since I had fun in college (in spite of not loving my major), I take pleasure in reading anything that takes me back to those years. Even though Hannah and the other characters in the series weren’t ordinary college students, because they had abilities as gods and goddesses, I could still relate to them. To be honest, I was a little worried about Icon of the Indecisive. I felt like we were left hanging at the end of the second book and there were too many questions that needed to be answered in the final book. I shouldn’t have worried because the whole trilogy was wrapped up quite nicely in this installment. In the first two books, readers were able to see glimpses of Hannah’s own love story interspersed with the cases that she needed to solve as interim goddess. I was rooting for Hannah to get her own happy ending – I felt like she deserves to have her own beautiful romance after going through the trouble of comforting and supporting other people through their love-related difficulties. I had no idea where things would go when it came to Hannah’s leading man and I liked not being able to predict what would happen. While I didn’t think the ending was perfect because I thought it could have gone in a different direction, I still found it quite satisfying.

The Interim Goddess of Love trilogy is different from Mina’s usual contemporary romance with main characters in their mid-twenties. The series is young adult, set in college and has a mythology aspect to it. Granted, it’s light on the mythology and doesn’t have as much worldbuilding as other fantasy novels that I’m used to. Still, I think it’s a good idea for an author to branch out and try writing something different. In this case, I think it worked well because romance is still a big element of this series, something that it has in common with the author’s previous work. Like all of Mina’s other books, Icon of the Indecisive was a quick read for me. Thank goodness it didn’t take long for this one to get published so the story was still quite fresh in my mind and I didn’t have to reread the first two. You’re pretty lucky if you haven’t started on the series and you’re curious about it, because now you can read all of them in one go. Recommended for fans of romantic novellas, readers who want something light and fun, and anyone interested in giving Filipino fiction a try.

It’s funny how Interim Goddess of Love has several cover designs. I just wanted to mention that I really like that it got redesigned and now all three installments have matching covers:

Interim Goddess of Love_digital coverQueen of the CluelessIcon of the Indecisive

All three covers were designed by Tania Arpa using photographer/blogger Rhea Bue’s photos. Aren’t they lovely? I like that the covers feature a Filipino fashion blogger and how all the photos give off a college vibe that represent the series well.

Other reviews:
The Girl Who Read and Other Stories
One More Page

Queen of the Clueless by Mina V. Esguerra

Queen of the Clueless by Mina V. Esguerra is the sequel to Interim Goddess of Love. Do the books need to be read in order? I think so because that will give the reader a better understanding of the story. In fact, I reread the first book before starting on this because I didn’t want to be confused about the characters and everything that happened before. These books are Filipino young adult fiction that has a hint of local mythology (so “goddess” in the title of the first book isn’t a metaphor). It’s going to be a trilogy and there’s no release date for the third book yet but I’m hoping it will be published soon.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Queen of the CluelessIf you’ve been feeling neglected by the Goddess of Love lately, don’t worry – Hannah Maquiling, college sophomore, is in training to take over. The Original Goddess is missing, but Hannah is Interim Goddess now, and she should figure out how to solve humanity’s love problems soon. Quin (God of the Sun) is still her mentor, still really hot, but apparently isn’t as honest about his other earthly relationships as she thought. It’s frustrating, and enough to make her check out possibilities with Diego (God of the Sea) and Robbie (Cute Human).

In the meantime, she’s decided to spend some of her precious training time helping to break up a relationship, instead of putting one together. Why? Because the girl in question happens to be her best friend Sol, whose boyfriend is stealing not just from her, but from other people on campus. Sol didn’t exactly summon the Goddess, but this is what power over Love is for, right? Surely it’s not just about matchmaking, but ending doomed relationships too. (Even when it’s not what people want.)

Hannah is still the temporary Goddess of Love and while she’s still pretty clueless about certain aspects of the job, she’s learning slowly and surely. She gets regular training sessions with Quin, God of the Sun, on how to improve her game as a goddess. She enjoys these sessions with Quin but keeps hoping that they will lead to more than just doing “work” stuff. What’s funny about Hannah’s situation is, she helps other people navigate the tricky waters of love and yet she’s hopelessly in love with someone she can’t have. I think that’s what makes Hannah a relatable character – even if she’s part-time goddess now, she’s still a normal college girl in so many ways. Clearly, she doesn’t have things figured out and like any non-goddess person does, she just goes with her instincts and what she feels is right. I also think it’s ironic that the main plot thread in this installment is Hannah trying to break up a couple instead of bringing them together. I liked that Queen of the Clueless focused on Sol’s love story, it was nice to get to know Hannah’s best friend since we really didn’t get to do that in the first book. I also liked that we learn more about some of the other secondary characters, like Diego and Robbie. Although I wish there was more of Quin in the story, I felt like he didn’t get enough face time in this book. I would have liked to learn more about Quin’s character, a little more insight on how he is both as Quin the mortal guy and as God of the Sun.

I’m really, really curious about the third book in this series. If I had a copy of it right now, I’d dive into it right away. I have no idea how Hannah’s story arc will get resolved and I’m hoping it won’t feel rushed because these books are on the short side. I found Queen of the Clueless an enjoyable read but I definitely wouldn’t have minded if it was a little longer. I think it was a good idea on Mina’s part to try writing a different genre from her usual contemporary romance featuring women in their twenties. I’m all for Filipino fiction with a college setting, especially if it reminds me of my own college experience. I know I’ve mentioned this before but I really couldn’t help but feel that Hannah’s school is like a smaller version of my own alma mater. So many details about the school was reminiscent of my own school – the cafeteria, some of the classes, the rich kids and scholarship kids. I know that Mina attended the same college so maybe it served as an inspiration for her writing. Since I loved my school, I think that’s a good thing. I recommend this to fans of Mina’s writing and readers curious about Filipino fiction. I know I don’t feature enough of them here in my blog so I would gladly recommend this.

Some lomo shots of my college, which can pass off as Ford River:

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