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. 🙂

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 isn’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 children’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

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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. 🙂

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? 🙂

Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions by Six de los Reyes

I’ve had Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions by Six de los Reyes on my wishlist for a while now. And I was pushed to grab a copy when I saw historical romance author Courtney Milan raving about it. I didn’t want to get left behind when it comes to supporting Filipino authors! I read it as soon as I could because I was curious. While I couldn’t say that I loved it as much as Courtney Milan did, I had a lot of fun reading this nerdy Filipino romance. I will definitely be watching out for other books written by Six de los Reyes.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Beginner's Guide - Love and Other Chemical ReactionsFalling in love is a chemical reaction.

Just ask Kaya Rubio, twenty-five year-old Molecular Genetics graduate student and research assistant. Fed up with her spinster aunts’ relentless reminders and unsolicited advice regarding her Single Since Birth status, she designs a scientific, evidence-based methodology to find her a suitable partner in time for her cousin’s wedding. As any good scientist knows, any valid experimental design requires a negative control. Enter the most unsuitable candidate for a potential boyfriend: the messy, easygoing, café owner Nero Sison. Her null hypothesis? Going out with Nero would establish her baseline data without catalyzing the chemical reaction she seeks.

But when Kaya’s recorded results refuse to make sense, she is forced to come to the conclusion that there are some things in life that are simply, by nature, irrational and illogical. And that sometimes, chemistry doesn’t always happen inside a lab.

I’ve always thought of myself as a nerd because I studied in a high school that had a strong focus on science and math subjects, and I majored in electronics engineering in college. Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions reminded me of all the subjects that I had in high school and college where we had to conduct various lab experiments. There was a time when I spent most of my hours in a lab too. I used to say that I loved science and math but they didn’t love me back because I never found both to be easy. Which was probably why I didn’t pursue a career in those fields.

Having read Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions, I can definitely say that I’m nowhere near Kaya’s level of nerdiness. It took a while for me to get used to her way of narrating but I eventually found her endearing. She’s super smart, but she’s socially awkward. The sad thing is she knows it too, and she’s given up on pursuing stronger social connections because of previous failed attempts. I would gladly have been Kaya’s friend if she was a real person! It’s a good thing she has the support of her large and crazy family, so it’s not like she’s entirely alone. But it’s also her family that drives her to try an unusual experiment to find a boyfriend. I think most Filipinos would be able to relate to Kaya’s extended family, even if our own families don’t plan such elaborate parties. The way the Rubio clan was described was just realistically Filipino. Including the presence of nosy relatives. And like Kaya, I have been the recipient of many, many questions about why I’m still single, when am I planning to find a boyfriend, and why haven’t I settled down yet. I guess that’s just how Filipino titas (aunts) are wired? So yes, I could understand why Kaya thought it would be worth her while to embark on an unusual experiment to find a boyfriend.

While Kaya’s experimental dates were fun to read, I liked her interactions with her friends even better. She’s always been on good terms with her colleague and flatmate Eugene, but their friendship becomes stronger as he tries to help her navigate the dating field. I hope Eugene will get his own HEA in a later book. Kaya also becomes more willing to open up to the interns in her lab, as well as other researchers in their science institute. And of course, there’s Nero. Good-looking cafe owner, part-time graphic artist and definitely more experienced when it comes to relationships. On paper, it doesn’t seem like Kaya and Nero would really get along but it was interesting to see them get to know each other. How they’re both in totally different fields and have personalities that are poles apart but at their core, they’re just both flawed individuals looking to find someone who can see and appreciate their true selves. I’m glad that Nero got enough page time for readers to understand him better, and to see that there’s more to him than meets the eye.

Nerdy, sweet and cute, Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions is an enjoyable romance with strong Filipino values. I’m glad to have discovered a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) romance series that is set in the Philippines. Looking forward to the rest of the books in the series! I need to mention that this book is indie pubbed and there were some sections that could have been edited better (missing words, typos, tense changes, etc.) but I wasn’t bothered enough to be pulled out of the story. Just wanted to give a warning in case that’s something that other readers watch out for.

Other reviews:
Oops! I Read a Book Again
bibliophile soprano
Back Porch Reader

Tweedle Book Cafe on a Friday Night

I’m back in Singapore soil but still behind on blog posts so I have a few more Manila-related posts that will (hopefully) go up in the coming days. I’ve been meaning to visit Tweedle Book Cafe again after my initial visit last December. So when friends asked me last Friday where I wanted to meet for dinner, I suggested this place. You know you’re a book nerd when you bring your friends to a book cafe on a Friday night. Woohoo, reading party! I’ve been encouraging them to read more so I wanted them to experience a book cafe. 🙂

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - long table

Dinner (TWG first edition tea, salpicao with egg and kimchi) and signed copies of Agay Llanera’s books:

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - dinner

Only Vintage Love is mine, given by Chris Mariano as a gift back when it was launched and recently signed by the author when I met her in person. I’ve yet to read it! The rest are copies I got for my friends Ena, Chuchay and Mich to read and share. These three have inherited and borrowed books from me before, and were also super excited to get signed books as Christmas gifts last year. I love it when real life overlaps with my book blogging life.

Here are #romanceclass books available at the cafe:

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - romanceclass

Delicious hot chocolate infused with hibiscus, made in Cebu by The Chocolate Chamber. Served in a pretty tea cup:

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - hot chocolate

Last but certainly not the least, I brought books that I wanted to pass on with me. Unread books are sad books so I’ve been passing on physical copies of my books because they just get neglected in Manila while I’m in Singapore. Some of these I’ve read, some I’m not planning to read anytime soon. Most of them have pages that have started foxing (getting brown spots) and yellowing because of heat and humidity, even when they’ve been stored in a bookshelf with a glass cover:

Foxing - donated books

I didn’t want them to waste away so I thought it would be better to pass them on. The upright ones on the left went to my friend Ena, the right-most stack went to my friend Chuchay and the two stacks in the middle were donated to the cafe. You can visit the cafe and read those books if you wanted to.

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - donated books

I think it was a Friday well spent. I was back in Tweedle a week later, but only to drop off more books to be donated. I passed by the cafe right before heading to the airport for my flight back to Singapore. This was the stash I donated:

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - more donated books

I’m glad book cafes are becoming more of a thing in Manila. They aren’t as common in Singapore but I believe that’s because Singapore has a pretty good public library system, something that the Philippines doesn’t have. Obviously I want these book cafes to flourish, which is why I will try to keep donating books whenever I can. 🙂

#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.

Snapshot From a Book: What You Wanted

Snapshot From a Book is a sporadic feature that I have on my blog where I match snippets of books I’ve read with pictures I’ve taken. I rarely get to do this because I don’t always get to visit the settings of the books I read. And interestingly, all of my posts so far have featured my lomography shots. Today’s feature is What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra. This Filipino romance is primarily set in Manila but the couple takes a trip to Anawangin in Zambales. I’ve been to Anawangin twice and it’s beautiful, which is why I’m choosing to share pictures of it.

I hope these snippets and pictures make you more curious about the book!

lomo Anawangin boat

“Have you ever been to Anawangin?” I’d asked, suddenly.

Hours later, we were there. It was a bright, beautiful day. The drive north felt effortless, even if we had little sleep. We checked into a resort along the beach in Zambales, left the car and our heavier things there, and then hired a small boat to take us to the island.

This was something I did, by the way. Take off, no plans, do something crazy. Not everyone was up for it; my sister had long since asked to be left out of the invite list, my parents only requested that wherever it was, it should have phones or a decent signal. Damon didn’t even blink when he said yes, and he packed like a pro. I had the advantage of having been there before, but with a group of friends.

ZambalesLomo3

We couldn’t spend the night on the island, although that was what other people did. No tent, no other supplies, so we asked our boat guy to pick us up later that afternoon. There were a few other groups of people there, mostly friends setting up camp, and we had to find a spot near the water where we could be as broody as we wanted. The view was spectacular – a wonderfully confused cove of pine trees, green hills, and white-gray sand. Perfect for reflecting on our sins.

ZambalesLomo5

ZambalesLomo6

Anawangin, Zambales, Philippines
October 2011
Camera: Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim
Film: Fuji Velvia and Fuji Sensia

Previous Snapshot From a Book posts:
Prague, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Ateneo de Manila University, Interim Goddess of Love by Mina V. Esguerra
Paris, The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand
Paris, The Chocolate Thief

What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra

What You WantedAndrea and Damon first meet in the short story Wedding Night Stand, and their story continues in What You Wanted. This title is the latest in Mina V. Esguerra’s Chic Manila collection, which has romance books featuring female twenty-something professionals in Metro Manila. Not too long ago, I was also a female twenty-something working in an office in Manila so these books are fun for me to read because I can relate to them. They feel realistic, like the stories can happen to someone I know. Which was why I dove into What You Wanted sooner rather than later. I also like how Mina keeps partnering with Filipino fashion bloggers for her book covers. What You Wanted’s cover was designed by Tania Arpa, featuring fashion blogger Rhea Bue. Note to self: start posting OOTD shots so I can potentially be featured on a book cover.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

It’s the classic one-night stand: Beach wedding, bridesmaid, groom’s friend. When Andrea and Damon meet, sparks fly, and they give in to the attraction. Sounds simple, but Andrea’s still getting over someone, and Damon thought he’d be hooking up with another person that night. It could still be simple, really, if they chalk it up to a weekend tryst and move on.

But one night becomes lunch the week after, and then dinner the next weekend…and before they know it, Andrea and Damon are still together, dealing with the feelings they know they might still have for other people. How hard can it be to get exactly what you want? How do you even know what it is?

I enjoyed Andrea and Damon’s story of how they met and got together in Wedding Night Stand. I thought it was cute how they danced around their flirtation. What You Wanted is a continuation of their story and because they already got to spend a weekend together, the two of them are much more comfortable around each other. And I really liked that about them, how their sort-of-relationship felt really cozy. I liked both Andrea and Damon’s personalities and I thought they were great together. Andrea has a bit of wild side and seems like a fun person to hang out with. She likes doing spontaneous things like suddenly going off to a secluded beach hours away from the city by herself. She also tended to be flighty when it comes to relationships and the one time she was ready to become serious with someone, she got hurt pretty badly. Damon is the type of guy that seems like he has everything going for him – handsome, smart, polished and financially well-off. And yet the girl he’s been interested in for the past two years keeps dragging him along. For two people who haven’t had a stellar record in the relationship department, Andrea and Damon sure handled things well between the two of them. But maybe it’s because they tried to keep things casual – heck, it was supposed to be just a one night stand. That just kept being extended.

Like I said, I really liked how cozy Andrea and Damon were together. From how willing they were to meet the other person’s friends and family, to how Andrea kept sleeping over, to how they had their meals together, to how they kept meeting around their office area… it just felt like they were meant to be together because it seemed effortless and drama-free (when it’s just the two of them). The drama only happens when other people come into the picture. It made me root for them as a couple, and I wanted them to get over their hang ups and just be together. Overall, What You Wanted probably isn’t my favorite Mina V. Esguerra romance because while I liked Andrea and feel like I could be friends with someone like her, I couldn’t relate to her in the sense that I can’t see even a sliver of myself in her. I probably have more in common with her older sister Julie, who is more steady and acts a bit like an old maid (“manang”). Damon, however, might be one of my favorite Mina V. Esguerra heroes. He’s not perfect but even his imperfections seem appealing. Plus he loves to eat good food! Always a plus in my book.

The author’s Chic Manila books can be read as standalones but the latter books have cameos from the characters in earlier books. In What You Wanted, Damon and Andrea meet at a wedding where he’s a co-worker of the groom and she’s the sister of the bride. That was the wedding of Anton and Julie from That Kind of Guy. Damon also lives in the same condo as Ethan and Moira from Welcome to Envy Park. I think these little overlaps make it a little bit more fun to read the books because it makes the reader feel like all the characters are connected somehow. What You Wanted was an interesting addition to this collection and I’m looking forward to reading more romances set in Manila.

My reviews of the rest of the Chic Manila titles:
Wedding Night Stand Welcome to Envy Park That Kind of Guy Love Your Frenemies 2 No Strings Attached My Imaginary Ex Fairy Tale Fail 2