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. 🙂

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#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

Freebie Alert: Wedding Night Stand by Mina V. Esguerra

Wedding Night Stand by Mina V. Esguerra is free on Amazon now until the 17th. It’s the prequel to Mina’s upcoming Chic Manila book, What You Wanted. While this short story is a freebie, I thought it would be the perfect time to write an equally short review for it. 🙂

Wedding Night StandHere’s the summary from Goodreads:

A wedding, a moody bridesmaid, a man in pursuit – of someone else.

Andrea Crisostomo is no longer your Ms. Right Now, thank you very much. She’s had enough of guys who like her “free spirit” but then break up with her before things get serious. One guy in particular screwed her over so much that she now hates weddings, but she has to suck it up to attend her sister Julie’s big day.

Damon Esquibel enjoys the slow and steady chase, and it looks like his two-year pursuit of Geraldine is about to pay off. He’s at his friend Anton’s destination wedding only because of her. But then he meets the sister of the bride, who doesn’t seem to want to be there, and it’s enough to question his plans for the evening – and the rest of the weekend.

As the title and the premise suggests, Wedding Night Stand is set during a wedding a few hours away from Manila. The happy couple who tied the knot? Julie and Anton from That Kind of Guy, another book from the author’s Chic Manila series. I think it’s pretty cute how these books are loosely connected. They’re standalones but it feels like a treat whenever I see cameos of previous MCs. Also, it feels realistic because even though Metro Manila has a population of almost 12 million (according to Wikipedia), it still feels like such a small world sometimes.

I started reading Wedding Night Stand past midnight last Sunday. You might be wondering why I would start a book that late when I would have to wake up early the next day for work. That’s because I was in denial that the weekend is over. Anyway, this was the perfect choice because I was able to finish it in one go. And I didn’t have to give up that much sleeping time for it. It’s short, flirty, and steamy with just the right amount of sexual tension for two attractive individuals who happened to be assigned seats next to each other. Can I just say that Damon’s a really hot guy? Kulang na lang ng kanin. There’s also a tiny bit of sweetness in there, when the two characters side with each other after learning about the other person’s story. I picked this up, knowing that Damon and Andrea’s romance would be continued in another book. But I think it can stand well enough on its own. So grab it while it’s free!

Top Ten Tuesday: My Recommended Filipino Books

Top Ten Tuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is this: Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters. Because I’m a Filipino book blogger, I’m modifying this topic to list books by Filipino authors that I would recommend to other readers. I want to take this opportunity to spread the word about Filipino authors because for me, that’s part of promoting diversity in the blogosphere. I hope that this will encourage more readers to pick up these titles because they’re all written mostly in English, with just a few phrases in Filipino.

Chic Manila books by Mina V. Esguerra’s – These are contemporary romance or chick lit set in the Philippines with Filipino characters. I recommend her books because they give readers a good picture of what life is like for a young woman back home. Her Interim Goddess of Love trilogy is new adult while the rest feature characters in their mid to late twenties (my favorite out of those is still Fairy Tale Fail.

Spotlight New Adult by Mina V. Esguerra – This series is different from Mina’s other books because they’re set in the US and are more steamy. I’ve read The Harder We Fall and Never Just Friends and really enjoyed both, I finished each in one sitting. Watch this space for my reviews.

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay – Candy is also a Filipino author and her middle grade contemporary novel about two siblings is partially set in the Philippines. I have Candy’s other book, Shine, in my TBR pile.

Trese graphic novel series by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldissimo – I can now happily recommend this urban fantasy/horror graphic novel series because it’s available on Amazon! Written and illustrated by Filipinos, I love how this series has supernatural creatures based on Filipino myths and folklore.

Cover (Story) Girl by Chris Mariano – This is such a perfect summer read because it’s set in Boracay, one of the most well-known beaches in the Philippines. It’s a sweet romantic novella with a Filipino guy and Korean girl as MCs.

All’s Fair in Blog and War by Chrissie Peria – Another Filipino romance, this one is between two travel bloggers who win a free trip to Macau in exchange for featuring the country in their blogs.

Interim Goddess of Love_digital cover The Harder We Fall Tall Story UK Trese Mass Murders Cover Story Girl All's Fair in Blog and War

All of the books I mentioned above are available online and can be read by readers outside the Philippines. Unfortunately, the rest of my list will only be applicable to readers based back home because they’re either out of print or only available in the Philippines:

After Eden by Arnold Arre – I really liked this graphic novel romance!

The Breakup Diaries by Maya O. Calica – I can still remember the first time I read this book when I was in college. I could relate to the barista MC who was trying to get over the breakup with her college boyfriend. I made all my friends read this title back then and I’m glad it was recently reprinted.

Have Baby, Will Date by Andrea Pasion – I thought this was cute chick lit featuring a new mom.

Tough Love by Melissa Salva – I liked that the MCs had a meet cute while traveling abroad and later they find out that they’re both into karate.

After Eden The Breakup Diaries 2 Have Baby Will Date Tough Love

I hope I’ve managed to get you guys interested in Filipino fiction! This serves as a reminder to me to pick up some of the Filipino titles that I have in my TBR pile. What about the rest of you, what comes to mind when you hear of diversity in books? Any strong recommendations of diverse titles?

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

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.

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:
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