2 Ines Yao Books You Should Read Back-to-Back on Valentine’s

I’m back (sort of)! Viruses felled me and I didn’t get as much as I wanted done last week, but at least gave me time to savor some great books. 

Two of those books happen to be perfect for Valentine’s Day. The best part? They’re connected to each other!

Ines B. Yao published “Only a Kiss” in 2014, and its prequel “When Sparks Fly” came out in 2016. I was psyched to find copies of these on nearly the same day. I love reading stories set in the same universe, so being able to read them back-to-back was bliss for me. 
I had the luxury of reading these chronologically, story-wise. It really worked for me, though you don’t really need to do that to enjoy either book. But I really recommend that you guys read these back-to-back for Valentine’s because the characters just suck you in.

“When Sparks Fly” is about Regina and Ben, who felt an instant connection when they first met. Unfortunately, Regina’s insecurities plus Ben’s…interesting track record with women make the road to their happily ever after bumpy.

“Only a Kiss”, on the other hand, follows Regina’s little cousin Katie and the long and complicated road to romance she and her best friend Chris took. I can still help but compare it to “Saving Sally”, minus the abuse storyline.

My only real complaint over these books is that they should have been longer. There were so many interesting characters and plot points that I felt could have been explored a bit more. And the inclusion of all those made parts of the story feel rushed in light of the length. Those bits didn’t get to breathe.

Apart from that, though, you get complex characters with complicated emotional journeys, grand romantic moments (I want that restaurant in “Sparks” to exist), and great humor. Those more than made up for the hiccups.

Seriously. Read these for Valentine’s Day.

You can find Ines Yao’s books in National Bookstore – I think her newest release there is “All That Glitters” – and on Amazon.

(Late) Review: Instructions on How to Disappear

I’ve been doing a whole lot of poetry for this blog, and not enough prose. I figured I should do something different for this post, and do a book review again.

I actually finished reading this book back in December; but between holiday chores and career transition tasks (I was switching from “employed content optimization manager” to “self-employed writer/editor”, which entailed a ridiculous amount of paperwork), I never got around to finishing a review draft I was satisfied with.

I eventually realized that I will never be satisfied (cue Hamilfan jeering), because I don’t think I can write a review that can justify how good I think “Instructions on How to Disappear” by Gabriela Lee is. So I might as well just post my ramblings and be done with it.

The final story, which gave the book its title, was actually a piece I’d read before—it was originally included in an anthology of speculative fiction. But I absolutely think it’s her best work and deserves its place as the collection’s coup de gras. The exploration of heartbreak and the state of fragility we all go through in its wake is truly masterful.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though. There are other stories in this book, stories that lead you to consider the horror of love and the nature of truth; memories and how they make us (or destroy us). They have dragons and monsters and destiny, advanced technology and strange fantasy.

One of my favorites is “This Side of the Looking Glass”, in which a girl is allowed to live a different version of her life. It’s a lovely exploration of how events in our lives shape us, and how “better” really is a matter of perspective.

Another is “Tabula Rasa”, in which the act of making love leads to stolen memories and how this loss becomes loss of self and ultimately the loss of being.

Finally, there is “Eyes Wide as the Sky”, in which there are literal ghosts of the past and questions on how far people are willing (or should be willing) to go in the name of survival.

These are the kinds of stories that inspire quiet contemplation after the first read, and languid savoring at the second (I assure you, you’ll want to read these stories again and again). This is the kind of book that you need to devour late at night, in the soft glow of warm lamplight with a rich chocolate drink spiked with liquor, when the shadows settle over your shoulders.

I highly recommend reading this book, especially when you’re in a pensive mood.

Copies  of “Instructions on How to Disappear” can be found in National Bookstore and Fully Booked. Alternatively, you can buy it by emailing the publisher: bookorders@visprint.net. You can also visit the author’s website: Sometimes Sunlight.

Finished Reading: Janus Silang Books 1 and 2

ReadinginBetween_ Janus Silang Books 1 and 2

This is going to be a first for me: I’m reviewing TAGALOG work.

I typically don’t do that because, despite being a Filipino living in the Philippines, I’m not all that fluent in Tagalog (or any of the many dialects of our country). I have trouble immersing myself in non-English work, and am always afraid that I won’t do the review justice.

But then I read Janus Silang Books 1 and 2. And while I can’t really say I’ll be able to offer comprehensive review of this local YA series, I can make up for it in fangirling. Because holy crap, these books are amazing AND THE SERIES ISN’T DONE YET. I’m also looking forward to some proper English translations for the benefit of my non-Filipino friends.

ReadinginBetween_ Janus Silang Books 1 and 2

PS: In light of this deviation from my usual readings, I won’t be following my usual review format and will instead go a little more freestyle than usual.

But there might still be spoilers, so if you’re still interested – I’ll see you after the jump 😀

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Reviewing: Paper Planes Back Home

ReadinginBetween_Paper Planes Back Home on Kindle

Tara Frejas is a magical writer and everyone should read her work. Seriously.

I struggled with writing this review, not just because a bunch of life stuff (and laziness) happened but also because it’s hard to find the words to describe the experience of reading Frejas’ work. I was so very tempted to just keep my review along the lines of “For the love of god, just read it!” because it’s literally the best way to understand why her stories are amazing, but I knew that wouldn’t work for a lot of people looking for their next read.

Which is why I’m here. I’m just a fan, standing in front of other readers, begging them to read Paper Planes Back Home.

ReadinginBetween_Paper Planes Back Home on Kindle

I highly recommend this to people who need to feel happy again. Wanna find out why?

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Just Finished: The Kitchen When It Sizzles

ReadinginBetween_The Kitchen When It Sizzles Cover

You gotta admit—sex and food go well together in romance stories. Both satisfy some kind of hunger, and both can be very visceral experiences given the right situation. I’m a big fan of steamy stories that involve food, and that’s why I picked up “The Kitchen When It Sizzles”.

ReadinginBetween_The Kitchen When It Sizzles Cover

Oh, man. This book gets pretty yummy at certain parts. It’s a fairly fun read…which is why I’m reviewing it this week!

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