I Am Buried in Romance Books by Filipinos (And You Should Be Too)

If you’re like me, you’re probably familiar with the agony and ecstasy of having a gigantic book pile. You’re probably also familiar with its random growth spurts, triggered by book sales and events like the recently-concluded Manila International Book Fair.

Want to know the reason why I was quiet for a long time? It’s because I was trying to embark on a clearly fruitless quest to make a dent in my pile of books.

To be fair, this wouldn’t be so hard if I didn’t have to work. Or sleep. Or eat. The spirit is most definitely willing, but my flesh is weak and I find myself just staring at (without actually seeing) pages so often that I sometimes just give up and go on YouTube instead.

Give me some credit, though. Over the last few months, thanks to the amazing people in #romanceclass, my bookworm self has been nourishing itself with loads and loads of romance books written by super talented Filipino writers. And I’m quivering with feels because they’re so good.

Wanna browse my current bookshelf? Here are the books I’m currently reading (or have read recently):

Sexy Suspense – The Takedown Trilogy

Image from romanceclassbooks.com

I’m swept up in Bianca Mori’s Scorched Earth (the third book) right now, and I’m equal parts afraid of it never ending—because the stakes are so high—and afraid that it will—because that means I’ll have to say goodbye to Peyton and Carson. I mean, how can you NOT love two characters who have complex souls and a complicated attraction to each other? I’m finding it hard to not spoil this book for everyone else because there are so many cool bits here.

5 word summary: Clandestine operations and European travel

Buy it here: Print

LGBTQ Love – Another Word For Happy and Don’t Tell My Mother

ReadinginBetween_Another Word for Happy and Don't Tell My Mother
Images from romanceclassbooks.com

I read these two books by Agay Llanera and Brigitte Bautista back-to-back because…well, it just felt right to do it that way. And frankly? I’m so freaking happy that I did. Even though it felt like I got heavily punched in the feels at certain points in these books (for a person who has near-pathological attachments to her family, the parent issues were so painful), you ultimately get some catharsis at the end. If you’re going to read these books, please read them one after the other. They’re enlightening and satisfying.

5 word summary: Coming of age and LGBTQ

Buy Another Word for Happy here: Amazon Smashwords Print

Buy Don’t Tell My Mother here: Amazon Print

Strange Romantic Realities – Wired Differently

Image from romanceclassbooks.com

Describing all the feelings I have for this book by Chris Mariano is tricky. Quite frankly, I’m still digesting it all even though I’d read this a couple of months before. Something about it stuck with me, burrowed into my bones the way “Instructions on How to Disappear” did. All I can say is that all the pieces are beautifully written and wonderfully structured. It pretty much blew my mind and my soul, and I think it should be required reading for everyone.

5 word summary: Chris Mariano is a genius

Buy it here: Amazon Print

Beautiful Body Positivity – If the Dress Fits

Image from romanceclassbooks.com

I’ve been beating myself up for not buying a copy of this book by Carla de Guzman sooner, since I’m a huge fan of fabulous girls who are totally okay with who and what they are. Martha definitely falls into that category, and damn if I didn’t relate to her from the beginning (in which there were lots of yummy, yummy takeout). I’m not plus-sized, but I do like to eat and there are people who feel the need to comment on that. And then there’s Max, who reminds me of a human puppy even though he’s actually a veterinarian. This book is so good, you guys!

5 word summary: Food, family, fake boyfriend, doggies

Buy it here: Amazon Smashwords Print

Of course, I’ve read tons of other books over the last several months; and the only reason why they weren’t featured here is because I binged by author and I can’t pick just ONE from their work (I’m looking at you, CP Santi). Someday, I might start writing full-blown reviews for each of them again.

But right now, I just want you to know that these beauties exist and that they deserve your money.

To find more awesome romance books by Filipinos, visit #romanceclassbooks

April Feels Day 2017 Feels!

a.k.a. My Wallet and I Barely Survived April Feels Day

People who know me know I’ve been a hermit for the last half-decade or so. I usually don’t go out for events unless it’s Komikon or work-related (and even then, the event needs to be accessible). But it was different last Sunday.

Last Sunday was April Feels Day, and a book I’d contributed to was launching that day.

ReadinginBetween_April Feels Day Banner
Image taken from https://www.facebook.com/events/248843262242162/

April Feels Day is an annual feels extravaganza for the #romanceclass community writers and readers. It’s basically the event for local romance readers to get their kilig on.

It’s my first time participating in the event on top of being my first time being an author who had to sign actual books. There were so many copies of our book “Summer Feels”, and it was overwhelming. So much so that I seriously messed up the autographs on some books. If you happened to get one of those copies, I truly do apologize. Please feel free to email me at ealmazora@gmail.com, and I will send you a poem or a short scene (50 words or under) with a prompt of your choice.

Group signing
Photo of a bunch of us signing books c/o co-author Bentham Hurtado

That said, I still had fun signing books with my fellow Summer Feels authors—especially my signing batchmate Irene Jurado (she wrote “Love After Summer”; if you have our book already, you can jump straight to her story). As we signed the books, the program started with book presentations (including ours).

After we finished signing all the books, I finally found time to shop for other people’s books. Look how glorious the shelves were:

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I eventually had to stop because I forgot to bring an extra bag for all the books I wanted to buy. XD Also, I was hungry since I hadn’t had lunch. So I wandered over to a nearby shawarma place, re-energized myself with soda, and went to Hey Kessy to buy a canvas bag so I can get more books later (I also got a print copy of “All’s Fair in Blog and War” by Chrissie Peria from them because it was there and I wanted it).

Had a bit of a breather before the readings started.

That’s a good thing because THOSE READINGS ALMOST KILLED ME.

I’m not kidding. I had to use my inhaler like five times through several readings because I almost stopped breathing. My uterus definitely was destroyed and revived repeatedly. I now worship the wonderful theater actors and actresses who graced us with their stellar performances.

My phone battery was running low at that point on account of me forgetting to bring a power bank, so I didn’t get photos or videos. Thankfully, you can find recordings of the #romanceclass readings here.

Following the reading was a photo op session—mainly so folks can take photos with the crazy talented readers, but also to take pics with each other. The Summer Feels folks got a chance to get a class photo of sorts.

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Photo care of our co-author/editor Kate Sebastian

And then I bought more books right before the rest of the book launches, because why not? These are all the books I ended up with at the end of the day:

ReadinginBetween_Book_Haul_Feels_Day_2017
Aren’t they beautiful?

It was AMAZING. So many great people. So many good books. And I learned a few things too, like:

  • I literally get starstruck around authors whose work I recently read; unless they approach me first, I tend to just hide in a corner watching them in awe (the hiding applies to Jay E. Tria, Six de los Reyes, and Tara Frejas, whose books I’d devoured the week before) no matter how nice they actually are
  • I also alternate between friendly and shy/awkward around new people in general, so if we met last Sunday and I seemed off/weird, I apologize
  • I mustn’t forget to bring a canvas bag, power bank, and extra inhaler for stuff like this

I’m so grateful for this event, and I can’t wait for the next one!

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.

Komiket Is on Saturday – Will You Be There?

ReadinginBetween_Komiket Banner

Me? I’ll certainly try to get there.

There are so many reasons why I think going to Komiket will be awesome:

  • Motzie Dapul is planning to sell her Beloved Engkato Horrors comic, which is an LGBT Philippine urban fantasy thing (I love her, seriously)
  • Paperback copies of Tara FrejasPaper Planes Back Home and The Forget You Brew will be available (I have fangirled over her writing before)
  • Hell, a bunch of writerly folks I like will be there (check out the #romanceclass booth!)
  • Plus, MORE indie work I haven’t seen before
  • It’ll be held at a fairly accessible place, on a date covered by a long weekend I filed for, and the entrance fee is way cheaper than a movie ticket
ReadinginBetween_Komiket Banner
Check out the details on their Facebook page!

The things getting in my way:

  • The fact that I haven’t even finished my draft for Project Times
  • The weird weather (been getting random asthma attacks over the last month or so)
  • A sick kitty (my poor Babudook!)
  • The TV show and book backlog I’ve been ignoring
  • My own laziness (which is considerable and clearly genetic)

Unfortunately, I can neither confirm nor deny my presence at the Komikon at this point. But that doesn’t mean that YOU can’t enjoy yourself there.

So if you have the time (and the willpower), come check this event out!

Just Finished: “Savor” by Kate Evangelista

ReadinginBetween_Savor

*gasp* Are you seeing this right? Am I actually writing a book review? After all this time?

Well yes. Because I’m crazy nuts about this book. But first, a bit of background:

Ever since I joined #StrangeLit I felt like I had to read more Filipino genre writers (outside of the Komikon stuff—I’ll get into that some other time, after I get through what passes for my Komikon haul). It’s not very hard for me to find Pinoy authors now, by the way; the very act of joining the workshop introduced me to a bunch of great writers.

One such great writer is #StrangeLit mentor Kate Evangelista. We were required to read one of her works prior to the class, and I became an instant fan.

Which is why I bought a copy of her book “Savor” as soon as I saw it in National bookstore. Took a while to get to it thanks to my mountain of books backlog; but when I finally read it…let’s just say I lack sleep and am now WAY behind on my writing revisions.

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Totally worth it, though. Read on to my review!

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