Oil and Mango

Last Mango in Texas by Ray BlackstonLast Mango in Texas by Ray Blackston
Publisher: FaithWords
Number of pages: 272
My copy: paperback, ordered from Amazon

Texas Tech student Kyle Mango is attending a fraternity party when he meets Gretchen, an artsy animal lover whose independent spirit immediately sparks his attention. But after a month of bliss, they suddenly find themselves in rough waters. When Kyle inherits four oil wells from his uncle, he sees his affluence as an opportunity to impress Gretchen. But just before he makes his move, Gretchen hears news of an oil tanker spilling its load near the coast of Alaska. Leaving Kyle behind in Texas, she joins a group of campus activists in Alaska for the summer to clean oil from suffering birds.

Kyle is torn between managing his business–and being left lonely in the Lone Star state–and risking everything to fly to Alaska to pursue Gretchen. The young oil man soon discovers that oil slicks are nothing compared to relational slicks. The early bird may get the worm, but the oily bird can ruin romance!

* * *

I’ve always loved Ray Blackston, ever since I got Flabbergasted on a whim back in Manila International Book Fair 2006. I loved Jay Jarvis and the gang, and it’s a treat to read his books because I get to somehow peek into a guy’s mind and sort of understand them better.

I think Ray is the only one I know who writes Christian lad lit. What’s lad lit, you say? To make it simple, it’s chick lit, but with a guy narrator. It has all the fun and setting and situations of a normal chick lit novel, but without the over thinking, ice cream and pink fluffy things that a normal chick lit novel has. In chick lit, we normally see girls gathering and having a shopping moment or having a time to eat ice cream or talk about a guy. In lad lit, there’s little of that: mostly girls, drives with guys, steak dinners, jobs and do less complicated guy stuff.

Okay, I don’t know if that’s just a stereotype. I haven’t read any Nick Hornby (shame, I know), and I can’t really recall any books of the similar genre I read so I can’t have any point of comparison. But here’s the thing about Ray Blackston and his novels: they’re funny.

No surprise there, since lad lit is supposed to be funny. But it’s been a long time since I last read any of his books and Last Mango in Texas reminded me of the author’s wit and humor. We meet Kyle Mango, the protagonist, as he gets to sit with his dad to have “the talk”. His dad had his own version of the talk to him, telling Kyle that he would just have to figure things out on his own. This left Kyle totally in the dark with how to relate with girls, and he wasn’t surprised when his dad left them for another woman. But here came Uncle Benny, Kyle’s doting uncle, who helped their family with his stash of silver buried under the Texas land that he owns.

Fast forward a few years later, Kyle gets to college and we find him as a pledge to a fraternity, which he soon realizes that he didn’t want to be a part of. Kyle meets Gretchen, an artsy environmentalist whose hair smells like honeysuckle, and he was immediately smitten. Gretchen helped him escape, but later Gretchen breaks it off with him, saying she has to focus with her studies.

We meet Kyle again as a senior, where he still pines for Gretchen, and his Uncle Benny still provides for their family. Stolen silver, a death, four inherited oil wells, graduation and a trip to Alaska later, Kyle wonders if he is meant to pursue Gretchen and still be an oil man, or if he would have to give up one to have the other.

Last Mango in Texas is no different from Flabbergasted, not much, anyway. Kyle is a lot like Jay: young, somewhat idealistic, and he doesn’t know much about dealing with girls. In the same way, Gretchen is like Allie, but instead of always going off to missions, Gretchen takes her passion into saving animals and the environment. This obviously gives them conflict, as Kyle is an oil man. I can’t really relate, but I guess this is a discernment conflict for guys: pursue the girl or pursue the career. I’d like to think that there’s really no correct answer, but there is a way to reach a compromise of sorts, like what Kyle and Gretchen eventually did. There should be a lot of prayer involved, as well, and communication between the couple. I’d like to echo what Kyle’s mom said in the novel:

People in love and sharing a life together should not mind flipping burgers together. (p. 171)

And speaking of prayer, there isn’t much praying mentioned here, but Gretchen and Kyle mentions God a lot, and there’s a mission to Africa that they all eventually went to. This makes it less preachy, and I guess more male. Christian chick lit is always filled with the women praying, and God talks are always there, so you never stop feeling that it’s a Christian novel. I guess that’s because women are naturally more talkative about their feelings, including their faith, while men don’t do that so much. It’s not a bad thing, although I’d wish that there was more church mentioned in this novel, but Kyle never grew up in that environment so that’s asking a lot.

The story flowed nicely and it didn’t jump so much that I got lost in the time line. What I kind of find it hard to believe is how Kyle can be such a businessman at the age of 22. Perhaps it’s really the way there in the US, and if you inherit four oil wells. What was I doing at the age of 22? Working and spending my own money, and looking for the highest paying affiliate programs to earn more money. Hrm. Maybe things just really get to them easier than it does for us.

But what I love about this novel is it’s very, very clean. There were kisses, but none of the passionate kind, and yet there’s still the romantic moments that will surely make the reader smile. It’s nice to read something and not be worried if there would be questionable scenes in the novel.

Last Mango in Texas is a fun, light novel that’s funny, insightful, and most of all, not preachy. Ray Blackston did it again, and while I’m not exactly wishing for my own oil man, I’d like to have someone like Kyle who’s willing (and can afford) to follow me wherever I am in the world just to spend time with me. :)

And did I mention it was funny? I leave you with this line:

[Chang] sat up and looked at me as if he had wisdom to share. “What’s her name?”


He smiled, shook his head. “You can never get involved with any woman named Margo.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because if you married her, you’d have a wife named Margo Mango.”

See. :)

Rating: [rating=4]

Book Stash – April

I’m sorry for not posting as much as I used to here — truth be told, I’m just having a hard time finishing the books I’ve been reading. Ever since I finished North of Beautiful, I haven’t been feeling much of the other books I have on my to-be-read list. Sure, I’ve got some reading challenges to guide me, but I just wasn’t feeling them that much. Ever had one of those days?

I’ve been browsing around bookstores again ever since Easter, and I found myself not being able to choose books to read. Strange, but it’s also kind of liberating because my wallet is happy. :P I did manage to get some  books from some bookstore visits. Then my dad arrived, and I realized why there’s a subconscious feeling why I’m holding back from buying books: he has my Amazon stash with him. :)

So now I present to you my first book stash post here. I wish I could post this every week, kind of like how other people do, but I don’t really acquire books every week, much less manage to finish reading them on time. So here’s a first (I think), and I can’t say when the next is going to be. :D

Book Stash - AprilIn this picture:

  1. BoneMan’s Daughters by Ted Dekker
    I’ve always been a Ted Dekker fan, and I’ve been wanting to buy the trade paperback of this book but it was just too expensive. When I saw this two weeks ago in Fully Booked, I just grabbed it. Here’s to liking this one. :) One day, I’ll do a Dekker bonanza and get all his books and read them. :P
  2. Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco
    I picked this up to add another book in my Project 20:10 Challenge, and Blooey just gave a glowing review on this, and I can’t wait to get started on this. Should be good.
  3. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
    I’ve seen a couple of recommendations on this by Blooey and Myk, and the paperback is quite cheap, too, so I got it from Powerbooks. Looks promising, but it’s another series, so I think I’m going to have to collect this, too.
  4. The Book of Jane by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
    I’ve been meaning to get this one ever since I started writing my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel, but of course it’s not available here. When I did my Amazon shopping, this was the first one I got — and I got it for only $5! I’m reading it now and liking it, although I already guessed something from the story the moment the character showed up. :P But’s it’s still good, and I’m glad to have gotten my hands on some good Christian fiction again.
  5. Last Mango in Texas by Ray Blackston
    I’m a big Ray Blackston fan, from his Jay Jarvis series. I was surprised to see that he has new books out, and this was the cheapest I could find. I look forward to laughing with this once again.
  6. Sweet Caroline by Rachel Hauck
  7. Love Starts with Elle by Rachel Hauck
    For #6 and 7, they seem interesting, and it was on sale, too, so I got it. Good Christian chick lit, how I missed you!
  8. Flashbang: How I Got Over Myself by Mark Steele
    I have actually read this book already, but I had to throw away my copy when Ondoy hit. :( Good thing there was a sale on this, too!
  9. The Guy I’m Not Dating Trish Perry
    Once again, Christian chick lit! It’s very pink, and seems like a good story, so yeah, I threw it in the list. I hope this impulse buy is worth it. :)

Not in picture, but I hope this arrives soon:

  • Wonders Never Cease by Tim Downs
    Got Getting this from Booksneeze — I finally caught a fiction release from them! Pays to have them in my RSS reader. Now if only shipping books from where they are to where I am does not take two weeks, I can write their reviews faster. But oh well. Free books are free books, I shouldn’t complain. I hope the book arrives soon, though!

I still have this urge to buy some more books, but right now I’m waiting for some releases to arrive — and some books to lower their prices…or at least, for bookstores to go on sale! I mean, not all books come with low prices like cheap insurance, you know. Which reminds me…can I wait to buy some other books I want until Book Fair? That’s four months away! Hm…Let’s see! ;)

The 24th Birthday Book Wish List

Today is the 1st of March, which means one thing (among many things): I turn 24 in 15 days. 14, if I don’t count this day.

Of course, as with every birthday that has passed since I started blogging, I’ve always created a wish list to help my family — especially my brother, who would usually ask for nba shirts — decide what gift to get me. It might be strange for other people, but we always do this for our family, even during Christmas. :)

I already posted my whole wish list on my main blog, but because this is my book blog, I thought I’d post my 24th birthday book wish list here, just for kicks. :D So it’s basically the first part of my blog there, but with book summaries and some comments on why I want the book. Here we go (in no particular order)!

Percy Jackson # 4: Battle of the LabyrinthPercy Jackson and the Olympians # 4: The Battle of the Labyrinth
by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson isn’t expecting freshman orientation to be any fun.  But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears on campus, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to diabolical.

In this latest installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos’s army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop them, Percy and his demigod friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth – a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn. Full of humor and heart-pounding action, this fourth book promises to be their most thrilling adventure yet.

Why do I want this? I already have books #1-3, and although I can buy Book #4, I’m not really in a hurry because I haven’t even opened Books #2 and 3. But then it wouldn’t hurt to have a copy of this now so I won’t be running to a bookstore when I read Books 2 and 3, right? :P

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