What You Wanted

What You WantedWhat You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra
Chic Manila # 5
Publisher: Bright Girl Books
Number of pages: 137
My copy: ARC from author

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?

The moment I started reading Mina V. Esguerra’s latest book, What You Wanted, I thought: I missed this. I’ve read some of Mina’s Spotlight New Adult books and liked them enough, but there was something that felt like coming home when she’s writing something based in Manila again. And it helped that I read and liked the prequel to this book, Wedding Night Stand, so I was pretty excited to have first dibs on this book.

Andrea met Damon at her sister’s wedding. It was just supposed to be a one-night stand, but days and weeks after the wedding, Andrea finds herself seeking out Damon, seeing and spending more time with him. But it’s not a completely simple romance as both of them have issues of their own: Damon is pining over Geraldine, known as the ice queen who he has been pursuing for a while, and Andrea is still nursing a broken heart from Thad, who dropped her after a weekend together and got married to someone else. Andrea and Damon agreed to use each other to get what they want…but what do they really want, anyway?

I wasn’t even halfway through and I was already charmed by Andrea and Damon, and I was rooting for the two of them to get what they wanted, whatever that was! I mean, I sort of knew what it was, being the reader, but I had such a good time watching things unfold for the two of them. I was a little surprised with how some of Andrea’s angst with Thad resonated with me but I’m not going to go there because that’s in the past. Let’s just say I get what she meant about that, and how awful it feels when there’s a Naomi. I remember feeling all ranty whenever Andrea was alone with Thad and how I wanted to shoo him away. (But other than that, I still think I am more of a Julie, haha)

And speaking of Damon! I liked Damon a lot. There’s so much about him that’s easy to like, in an alpha-male kind of way. Like how he was focused, and how he didn’t resort to manipulation and instead just proved himself to show that he deserved to get what he wanted. I liked how he seemed so dangerous and in some ways, wild, but also can be pretty gentle at times. I would probably be intimidated like hell if I meet someone like Damon in person, but I think I will still be secretly watching him. :P (Haha, see, I’m a Julie.) I liked him so much that I told Mina that it seemed like there’s competition for Lucas of Fairy Tale Fail’s spot in my heart. Gasp!

I really liked What You Wanted. While most of the story revolved around the “extended” hook-up, there’s a lot more in their story that gives reader a chance to see how characters like Andrea and Damon change, find out, and eventually, get what they really wanted. :)

Also – lots of food in this book, so yeah, don’t read this with an empty stomach. Sushi, grilled fish, juice, and siopao. :D


Favorite dog-eared quotes:

“You’re never going to be able to introduce him to them as yours, Andrea. He burned that bridge when he chose someone else. Walk away.”

That was it. This was where my first attempt at relationship feelings went to die. At a table for six, in a restaurant that served really fat duck. It would die among my closest friends, none of whom knew what had happened to me, what I had lost, and who killed it.

Food and coffee, was how you became friends with anyone, I learned.

It was legitimately scary for me to even attempt anything with Thad because when we were good together, it already felt like we were us. Committed.

And now we were nothing.

…If there’s one part of him you pretend doesn’t exist, then you don’t love the man; you love the version of him that exists in your head.

Kids These Days (Stories from Luna East Arts Academy, Vol. 1)

Luna East Blog Tour Header(See all the other #LunaEast tour stops here!)

luna east vol 1.front.coverKids These Days (Stories from Luna East Arts Academy Vol. 1) by Various Authors
Luna East Arts Academy, Vol. 1
Number of pages: 145 pages
My copy: ebook review copy

The stories from LUNA EAST ARTS ACADEMY are about love. And also, friends, food, kissing, rumors, mean people, insecurities, birthdays, breakups, making up. We set it in an arts academy because we wanted everyone to have a talent, and know it. Because no one is ordinary, if you know them well enough.

Who are you, at LUNA EAST? Are you a popular kid, a wallflower, a drama club diva, a debate whiz? Visit lunaeastacademy.org to read more stories from #LUNAEAST, and submit your own. For readers 16 and up.

* * *

It all started at a #romanceclass meet-up, when Mina mentioned that she dreamed of writing a Sweet Valley-esque type of series, but set in the Philippines. Everyone who attended that class had read Sweet Valley at some point in their lives, so it was a pretty exciting idea. We all started chattering excitedly about it, like where the school would be and the activities, and started calling dibs on characters in the school – the jock, the teachers, and the like. Stories started getting written over the next few months, a website was set up to house the stories, continuity was established, and now, the first volume of the book is out. (Well, almost out, because as of this writing, it’s still a few days before the launch. :D)

The stories in Luna East were cute and fun, and there were no two stories alike. I liked how there were so many eyes to see high school in, and so many people to rub elbows with. Since this is just volume 1, the stories barely scratch the surface of what could be happening inside the school, but it’s a good start to get yourself acquainted with the environment. True enough, it felt like the school was a playground for the imagination, and reading through the stories got me more excited to finish mine, and mention some of the characters who were already in the other stories.

And that’s my favorite part of this, really – the continuity. I’ve always loved it when characters have a cameo appearance in other stories. I loved how one character would even have speaking lines in other stories, giving them more depth. Don’t you love it when authors work with each other and come up with completely original stories? :) (And if you’ve read #romanceclass novels, you’ll probably spot a familiar place used in several stories, too. :D)

I didn’t study in a school like Luna East, but even so, reading this was almost like I was back in high school. In a good way, though, because my high school life was pretty tame and I could use a little excitement. As the summary said, the stories here are mostly about love — you know, the high school kind of love. Crushes, unrequited love, love-hate, unexpected type of love from the popular people to the people who consider themselves nobody inside the halls of Luna East. But more than love, they’re also stories of friendship — from kids who grew up together to kids who just got to know each other. You might see yourself in one of these stories, because even if the setting is completely fictional (and artsy), and even if you never had to wear unnecessary vests, high school is pretty much a universal experience for all of us. You might hate it or like it (or like me, you’re pretty ambivalent about it), but there’s always that one (or two, or three) high school memory that you will always tell the friends you meet post-high school.

But yeah, even as I read this, I found myself shaking my head at times while saying, kids these days. Hmf. Seriously, though, the first volume of Luna East was such a fun read. Come and see what’s inside, and you might just find a spot for yourself. And when you do, perhaps you’d like to write about it? :)

Favorite dog-eared quote:

She was still holding her sword. He touched its tip, fingers walking until they reached her hand. She let them stay here. (Fifty-Two Weeks by Mina V. Esguerra)

Luna East, with its unnecessary vests and unnecessary crest, was where you went in a decent and down-to-earth person and came out a snob. (Yours is the First Face that I Saw by Ronald S. Lim)

Our family helps us become the best versions of ourselves. While with friends, we discover and learn to come to terms with our desires. (The Letter by M. Protacio-de Guzman)

“Maybe it’s about time that we quit this dance.” (Where Do We Go From Here by Jen C. Suguitan)


Come join us at the #LunaEast launch on February 8, 2014, 6pm, Ayala Museum! :) It’s also the first year anniversary of #romanceclass, so if you want early feels for February, then join us! Get to meet the authors, mingle with other fans, and have some cookies! We’d love to see you there. :) Go, Wolves!

Luna East Book Launch Details


Welcome to Envy Park

Welcome to Envy Park by Mina V. Esguerra Welcome to Envy Park by Mina V. Esguerra
Publisher: Bright Girl Books
Number of pages: 142
My copy: Kindle edition

Moira Vasquez is a doer. A planner. A get-up-and-goer. At twenty-two, she left her hometown to work in Singapore, to satisfy a need to travel as well as give her savings account a boost. Five years later and she’s back in Manila, with a shiny new apartment to her name, but no job, no career, no boyfriend. She meets Ethan Lorenzo, the quiet hunk of an IT consultant on the ninth floor of her condo building, and he’s a welcome distraction during this period of having absolutely nothing going on in her life.

But she has a plan – of course she does – and this is just a short layover on the way to the next country, the next job, the next big thing. Or will she be missing out on something great that’s already there?

* * *

Ever since I reached my mid-20’s, or at least, ever since I started experiencing the so-called “quarter-life crisis”, I started categorizing some of the books I read into a “QLC” category. This list includes Astigirl by Tweet Sering, and Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist, both of which are non-fiction. After reading Mina V. Esguerra’s Welcome to Envy Park, I finally had a fiction book in that QLC books list.

Moira Vasquez is on a break, and she’s taking this break in her brand new condo in NV Park after five years of working and saving in Singapore. And this break it meant: no job, no boyfriend, but with some plans on where she’s jetting off next. She has no plans of staying too long, really, even if Ethan, the cute guy who lives in the same building is proving to be a really good distraction. Moira is convinced that she’s home for a quick stopover, but what if what she needs is already right in front of her?

Welcome to Envy Park didn’t feel like the usual contemporary romance that I’ve known Mina for. Somehow, this book feels a little bit more mature and perhaps it’s because the romance felt like a side story to what Moira was going through. I admit that I’m not a Moira. I’m not the type of person who’d shake things up just because (until lately, anyway). I tend to become comfortable, and just settle there until the restlessness finally hits me and I drag myself up. I never thought of working abroad, and until now I still don’t think about it, but I do admire Moira for her guts to do it, and to keep on doing it. It takes a certain kind of personality, I guess, to be willing to uproot yourself every time.

But you can’t always uproot yourself, right? At some point in your life, you have to start thinking of settling down (I got that feeling when I turned 27. Then things happened, and now I felt the need to uproot myself again, heh), and this is basically Moira’s story. I liked how Moira was exposed to so many people in the book and how she observed them, and how she compared her life to them with her lists. Her voice is fun and fresh and her struggles with her thoughts, her career, her family and her love life felt true, like it’s something someone her age experiences.

The story flowed easily, although it may not be as gripping as other romance novellas are — perhaps it’s because again, it really didn’t feel like one for me. I thought it was more about self-discovery, and yeah, a certain kind of coming of age, and romance just happened to come with it all. And isn’t that how it really often happens in real life?

Welcome to Envy Park is a book about choices, how it makes us, how it affects the people around us, and the things that come with it. It’s a bit different from Mina’s other books, but it’s a good one. Definitely for people my age who are thinking of making major decisions in life (don’t worry, you’re not alone!). :)

Number of dog-eared page(s): 9

Favorite dog-eared quote(s):

I swear, he just lets things happen, like he’s a leaf in the wind.

I don’t rock the boat if it’s not worth rocking just yet. As opposed to what, declaring to the universe things that haven’t happened yet?

Maybe I needed to place a tiny portion of my happiness in someone else’s hands, and not completely control it.


Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
A Little Bit of Everything

2013 Mid-Year Report

I saw some of my friends do a post similar to this, and I was checking my archives and as it turned out, I haven’t really made a list like this in my past years of book blogging. Since this book blog has been feeling a little bit lonely lately, So I figure I’d write something like this. And yeah, maybe do a check on my goals, too, to see if I am still sort of on track. :)

Image from we heart it

Image from we heart it

Best Books of 2013 (So Far):

In no particular order:

  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel: “The ending left me…reeling. A friend told me about the twist in the story, but I wanted to be surprised and boy was I surprised. I couldn’t wrap my head around it for a while, and I had my first case of a book hangover for the year, which was extended right after watching the movie.”
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: “One last thing: I hope that when Death comes for me, he’ll find my soul sitting up.
  • Iscariot: A Novel of Judas by Tosca Lee: “Would there have been redemption for Judas, if he had just waited? Could he have become someone like Peter, who denied Jesus but accepted mercy which led him to become the great church leader that he is? If he had just waited until Sunday, would he have believed that Jesus was indeed the person he had been waiting for his entire life?”
  • 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff: “If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me? I owe it so much.
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver: “Because really, what do people talk about when they talk about love? My friends and I do this a lot, and while we all have these ideas and dreams and everything, I don’t think we will ever grasp what love really is about. The best we can do, I think, is try.”
  • Icon of the Indecisive by Mina V. Esguerra: “Let’s just say this book had me…er, squeeing more than half the time. Hee. There were many, many things I wanted to ask at the end of the second book, but I’m very glad to report that this third book delivers.”

Honorable Mentions:

2013 Goals Checkpoint:

  1. 52 Books – upped to 75, when I realized that I will probably reach 52 a bit earlier. Then I got into a reading slump. Heh. But I am at 38 books now, and Goodreads tells me I am 1 book ahead. So yay.
  2. 5 Classics – 1 out of 5. Eep. I have to catch up.
  3. 4 Chunksters – 2 out of 4. Reading my third this month!
  4. 20 Filipino Books – 10 out of 20. Good job, self. *pats*
  5. Required Reading – I am surprisingly managing this well. There were some books that I postponed reading (for the future (hello, May books), but other than that, I think I hit my monthly goals quite well.
  6. The Reread Factor – I’ve reread several books but I didn’t get to review them. Oops. Maybe next time. :)

I don’t review all the books I read now because sometimes I get too lazy to review and by the time I realized that I should review it, it’s been too long and I can’t remember what to write anymore. So…there. But don’t worry, this blog isn’t going anywhere. :D I’m just a little busy with other life things. :)

Happy reading for the rest of 2013!

Icon of the Indecisive

Icon of the Indecisive by Mina V. EsguerraIcon of the Indecisive by Mina V. Esguerra
Interim Goddess of Love # 1
Publisher: Bright Girl Books
My copy: review copy from the author

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?

* * *

So at the end Queen of the Clueless by Mina V. Esguerra, I was pretty much sad for Hannah, and I was wondering what will happen next. I won’t explain why I was sad, but if you’ve read a lot of trilogies like I do, second books usually end on a sad/cliffhanger note, so it was kind of expected. I was very, very glad to hear that Mina planned to release Hannah’s third and last book, Icon of the Indecisive, early, because I need to know what will happen next!

Slight spoilers for the first two books starts here! The story opens on Valentine’s Day, the day when Hannah as the Interim Goddess of Love, will become most busy. Hannah is a little bit tired of handling other people’s love problems, and she wants to focus on her own this time around. But since Quin is supposed to fall in love with an extraordinary human girl, Hannah figures may it’s time to give Robbie the Cute Human a chance. But Quin’s acting just a little strange lately. Not to mention there’s Vida, who still hasn’t explained what she did to Hannah, and Diego, who asks strange things of Hannah. How will Hannah ever focus on her own life now? Spoiler warning ends here.

Let’s just say this book had me…er, squeeing more than half the time. Hee. There were many, many things I wanted to ask at the end of the second book, but I’m very glad to report that this third book delivers. Questions were answered here, and loose ends were tied up nicely, with a lot more explanations to what the gods and goddesses can do. I liked that Hannah can do more goddess-y stuff here, and that we get to see her grow more here with her own decisions in life. I like that there’s more Robbie the Cute Human here (because he is a cute human :D), and there’s just a lot more swoon here.

As far as the ending goes…I got the ending I wanted. But it’s not just that, and I liked the message about how these characters will get to that ending. I won’t say anything more, but if we’ve talked about these books lately, then you’ll know why I was very happy with how this ended. Very happy. <3

Okay, I was partially squeeing there, did you notice? I actually got to read the book waaay earlier than the release because Mina asked me to be a part of the Interim Goddess of Love audio commentary (with Chachic, Chris and Meann) that you can download here. Not only do you get to hear us talk, but you also get to hear some juicy trivia about the series. But listen to it after you’re done with the series, because you don’t really want to be spoiled. :)

If you want something cute, light with so many #feels, or if you just want an easy introduction to Filipino fiction with a bit of Filipino folklore, make sure you pick up the Interim Goddess of Love series. And lucky you who won’t have to wait long to see how Hannah’s story ends. :)


Other reviews:
The Girl Who Read and Other Stories
Chachic’s Book Nook

Reviews of other Interim Goddess of Love books:
#1 Interim Goddess of Love
#2 Queen of the Clueless