Top 3 English Chick Lit Books by Filipino Authors
When in Manila, you will find the country’s book industry enriched by more and more talents everyday. All good for Filipino authors and for us readers, right? For a voracious reader like me, this is awesome. I look forward to more diversity in my reading selection. I definitely would love to see more of the works of my fellow Filipinos make their way to the bookstore shelves not just here but worldwide, sitting beside such popular titles as The Fault in our Stars by John Green.
There’s no lack of quality in the works of Filipino authors. I just completed an emotionally exhausting but unforgettable read-along of The Rosales Saga by F. Sionil Jose with my book club partners-in-crime the Flips Flipping Pages, and, oh my!, I really think HBO should pick it up as the next or better than GOT series. Perhaps I’ll write about my experience reading The Rosales Saga but for this post I want to write about the three books that are the products of contemporary romance and YA author Mina V. Esguerra’s #romanceclass.
Top 3 English Chick Lit Books by Filipino Authors
There are eight titles in my #romanceclass collection but only 3 here in this post. Please pardon my slow reading. I don’t read as fast anymore. I have work and I prefer to savor the words and the story these days as opposed to speeding through them like I did in high school and college (a long time ago :oops: ). Since I know I also can’t be as prolific with my book reviews as I used to be in the good old days of 60 book reviews per year, I can now only do a sort of “threesome” book review every now and then, which may hopefully become a whole new series of posts about books in the future.
All’s Fair in Love and War by Chrissie Peria
I’m not really into chick lit, but there are times when light reading is called for. I enjoyed reading this book, and I really liked the idea of more stories being written in familiar settings, and characters who sound like they could be my friends and colleagues. Reading this was like being a voyeur to their love lives.
All’s Fair in Love and War is about a group of Filipino travel bloggers who receive an invitation to tour Macau. An attraction between the meticulous, guide-book blogger Five and adventurous Jesse springs up. Although the development of this attraction sounds like a cliche: they meet, he’s cute but obnoxious, she’s serious and critical, and they’re off to a bad start, but eventually they patch things up, they kiss… it was written with deftness and I was swept along enjoying the cozy ride.
But I have a question: is travel blogging really this competitive? There are times when Five’s reaction seemed overwrought. I must also criticize a little — for a story about bloggers going to Macau, it seems to have very little Macau in it. Yes, they went to this and that place in Macau, but the descriptions were – 8 out of 10 times – generic such as taking pictures of “architectural details.”
I think for a Romance in Macau story to be really effective, Macau has to be a character, too, complete with its attitude, aura and personality. In fairness, the description of the jump from the Macau Tower was awesome.
To borrow a book review technique by KyusiReader, read this book if you enjoy blogging, travel and Macau.
Save the Cake by Stella Torres
I can’t stop thinking about cake and I’m blaming this book. I’m actually a little surprised by Save by the Cake, which I think is rather unconventional for chick lit. I don’t mind very much since I like the unconventional, though. I enjoyed the tense forward-moving energy of the narrative as a circle of friends and family prepare for what seems like the wedding of the year. Set against this chaos are the ups and downs in a closely-knit family of bakers and the tangled relationships between friends.
In a nutshell, cake artist Eloisa and videgrapher Sean are both recovering from a failed love. They meet and are attracted to each other. Do they dare take a second chance at love? Complicating things are an overprotective family and the issues of the bride and groom.
I think this book has depth sometimes lacking in romance stories. It contains rather more emotional nuances than I imagine chick lit normally allows. The juxtaposition of the Eloisa’s and Sean’s wordliness against a traditional family background added an interesting dimension. I can imagine a movie being made out of this, one that celebrates the art of making a cake as much as it does the romance.
I don’t get the use of such ridiculous telenovela character names sometimes, though. Examples: Jose Vicente Altamirano III, Hazel Charmaine Valencia, Denise Lichauco, Eloisa Jane Reyna Carreon, and (the killer of all killer telenovela names) Sebastian Juan Alvarez y Verdadero.
Perhaps it is the author’s attempt at adding humor to her story. I don’t think this was a smart move, though. For me, the names were distracting and ridiculous.
Despite this, however, I still enjoyed Save the Cake and it wasn’t the romance that sold me. It was seeing Eloisa’s growth from being someone hiding in the shadow of her family to a person asserting herself as a professional that impressed me.
So, if you enjoy Top Chef Just Desserts and other reality TV shows about baking and family dramas, read this book.
Vintage Love by Agay Llanera
“Even happiness was a choice.” — Crissy Lopez, former TV exec, currently an aspiring film-maker
I enjoyed this book the most, because I can relate! I’m a workaholic and it’s an extreme effort for me to forget about work and give time to friends and family. I’m in a demanding sales and marketing-driven industry where results seem only as good as yesterday’s news. I enjoyed this book because it reminded me that loving myself is more important than loving the job, and that no matter how awesome the company you work for is, ultimately, everything is all business there and one must learn to prioritize.
Funny how reading triggers insights and revelations that may not have anything to do with the story. Anyway, in Vintage Love, TV executive Crissy Lopez has a grueling work schedule that leaves no room for a social life. She is badly in need of a makeover and still hung up on the Evil Ex who left her five years ago. When her fashionable grand-aunt passes away and leaves behind a roomful of vintage stuff, the Shy Stylista inside Crissy gradually resurfaces.
A love interest in the person of vintage shop owner and graphics designer Vince comes into the picture. The first meeting was off-putting but the second was promising. Can Crissy finally move on?
It’s not as simple as that and the story had to go through some snags along the way before the two find true love, and each other. I find the plotting of Vintage Love very cinematic. It was like I was not reading anymore but watching a really good Indie movie. Maybe the amazing writers behind popular and critically-acclaimed TV dramas My Legal Wife and My Husband’s Lover would like to take a stab at a screenplay adapted from this book?
Read this book if you enjoy vintage fashion and makeovers, and if you believe in leaps of faith.
All’s Fair in Love and War, Save the Cake and Vintage Love are available on Amazon, Kobo and Mina Esguerra’s site at http://minavesguerra.blogspot.com/p/romanceclass-ebook-bundle.html.
When in Manila, there are so many possible stories for authors to develop from. I’m also in animal welfare and I cannot even begin to tell you how interesting the people there are. Imagine a girl who brings her rescued white mixed-breed dog everywhere finding love, losing it, and discovering love again maybe through her dog’s antics.
Gosh, maybe I should also enroll in #romanceclass myself so I can write this story haunting my imagination. In the meantime, please do drop by my book blog Artseblis.wordpress.com. Be careful of the cobwebs though.
Or you can read with me at Flips Flipping Pages — these days we hang out on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/21398849645/) but you can still see most of our discussions at http://www.shelfari.com/groups/12439/about.
We just finished reading The Once and Future King by T.H White. On the 28th we will meet at Pan de Amerikana in Marikina to discuss The Eight by Katherine Neville (event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/614230542017900/)
See you around! Until the next Threesome!
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