I’ve been reading these past few weeks hoping to re-instill the magic of reading books and inspire me to write again. Months ago, I discovered that an officemate is actually a writer from romanceclassbook and told me that they have upcoming writing workshop and I could win a slot. The condition is to read five book from romanceclass and write a review about it. And I thought why not? It was a good opportunity. I’ll be reading new books with added motivation that I would be able to learn more about writing. Two birds in one stone right?
I have heard of romanceclass before but I usually dismiss it. I am not into romance, may it be books and movies. I love “love stories” in the backdrop of action scenes, comedy, horror, drama or anything. But I am not into love-centric genre. So at first I thought taking this romanceclassbook marathon would be a challenge. But low and behold, and I found myself digging to these books. Mainly because they are mostly not as love-centric as I thought. They touch other themes of life like quarterlife crisis and adulting anxieties. And I love that there is “in touch with reality” experiences in these books.
Without further ado, here are the books I got for the romanceclassbook marathon.
1. Don’t Tell My Mother by Brigette Bautista.
Remember when I told you earlier that I have an officemate who is a published writer from romanceclassbooks? This is her book. I got in touched with her because I really liked her short story in the anthology book from our company’s literary club. And then I learned that she has a published book released in the wild so I immediately told her that I’ll buy a copy.
Don’t Tell My Mother is about 19-year old Sam who found herself attracted with the widowed neighbor “Clara” which push her to question her deep Christian upbringing by her religious mother. First of all, this story reminded me of three things. One was the character “Sumire” from Haruki Murakami’s “Sputnik Sweetheart” who was also drawn to a women 17 years older than her. Second was the indie film “Ang Huling Cha-cha ni Anita” who’s also about a girl falling in love with an older new woman in town. Last would be “Blue is the Warmest Color” . The film is something like that too although not too big in age differences but it’s also about a teenage girl falling in love with an older woman. It left me wondering if lesbians really has a thing for older woman. If you have the answer feel free to comment.
I haven’t seen both films I mentioned above and just learned the premises through trailers and articles. I admit I am not into lesbian literature. I am more of a fan of yaoi and bromance. I don’t know why but I know it started with me watching the anime’ “Gravity”. But still, I enjoyed this book with Brigette’s amazing way of describing things and feelings just like what she did in the literature anthology. I could feel the tension and how it is suffocating to live to the place she grew up with it. I actually have a lesbian friend with a religious mother. Not to go deeper into that but I somehow saw this premise in reality. But with my friend’s case, the mother still doesn’t know. Or maybe she already knows but just waiting for a confessions. Either way, I should not tell her mother. The title applies to me. What a coincidence.
There was this feature in the end of every romanceclass book where it has a lists of question that encourages Book Club Discussion. For this book, it has eight questions but I’ll just choose one.
6. Right at the end. Sam’s mother threatens to send her to a conditioning camp to inhibit her homosexuality. Do you think homosexuality can be cured? Discuss this scene in context of nature vs. nurture.
Can it really be cured? I think not. Because I don’t see homosexuality as an illness in the first place. I find it hard to answer between nature and nurture though. I believe it can be both. I mean both sexes can be attracted to whoever in a matter of time. It is in the matter of their choices, limitation,preferences and happenings in their life. The point is I really don’t see homosexuality as an illness and it does not need a cure.
Final Verdict: Genre is not my cup of tea but I love the narrative and delivery. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
2. Playing Autumn by “Mina V. Esguerra”
Haley Reese met her ultimate childhood celebrity crush Oliver Cabrera which inspired her to be a musician herself. The better news, they are heading to the same destination as they are both picked as mentors in the same music festival. The best news, he sits next to her in the flight and actually initiated the conversation.
Good points.The ending is satisfying and super simot-sarap kilig to the bones. It was done just right without reaching the zone of “too good to be true” fangirl story. This has also touched the common adulting dilemna which is DOUBT. The moment of confusion of the path you should take, whether to choose passion or practicality. Feeling lost in the future. Among other things.
Well the story turned to being steamy. (Hot Hot Hot!) I was a little bit irked on how fast and how far their connection went in just whole weekend. But well, if you met your ultimate celebrity crush and he somehow returned the attraction, who won’t be vulnerable enough to give in? If I’ll be listening to logic I won’t advise everyone with how Haley handled it. But if you are in her situation, I’m pretty sure the voices of logic will shut right up. LOL! I’m a bit conflicted about this. I am against it but I understand. Haha!
Anyway I just love how Haley snapped the fantasy out her system after the steamy weekend with hot Oliver Cabrera. I mean she enjoyed it but she knows the reality of the celebrities. So she did not linger with the fantasies. That what made me super like her.
I don’t know if this is a moral lesson. I agree with the book that in life, we can connect with a person super fast like we have known them for life. The important thing is we should somehow listen to our right reasoning. And also, don’t be afraid to go out of a relationship specially if you’re just staying because of security alone. This pertains to Haley and Logan’s relationship.
I totally shipped Oliver and Haley. I believed that even their future together is quite shaky, their connection could be very well established in the future if they work for it.
Final verdict: Love the ending. 4 out of 5 stars.
3. Welcome to Envy Park by Mina Esguerra
Another Mina Esguerra novel. She really have a fancy dealing about quarter-life crisis and adults having uncertainty about their futures. The protagonist here also ignited an instant connection with a crush. But at least this one has more logical reasoning and the intimacy stretched out for weeks.
Moira Vasquez just had an apartment in N.V Park, the fruit of her 5 years in Singapore. But now she is unemployed and has no boyfriend. She considered her stay in the country as temporary while she figures out what would she do next and that might include leaving again for another country. Entering the picture is Ethan from the 9th floor who’s a successful IT consultant who somehow made the decision-making quite complicated
I haven’t gone to work abroad myself but I have lingering thoughts about it. I like Moira’s 4 quadrant hobby because I think I do it myself. Her thoughts about the people she encountered in Envy Park and how she assess their life is damn relate-able. Ethan got adult issues of his own too. He considered himself as “Leaf on the Wind” , just going with the flow, getting anything what is on the plate. I liked that in the end, these two characters stood up on what they really want. in that way they grow. I like how the book speaks about quarter-life crisis and somehow it made me feel as a reader to not feel alone in my own journey through it.
I think the best thing about this book is Moira’s friendship with Roxie. I love their interactions and their inside jokes. They have different ways in dealing with life but they compliment each other. This makes the book more enjoyable to read.
Final verdict: Love the ending too. 4 out of 5 stars.
4. What About Today by Dawn Lanuza
I picked this book because I love Dawn Lanuza’s “Boyfriend Backtrack” which I will review last because its my most favorite in this book marathon. It is not at par with the wonders I experienced with “Boyfriend’s Backtrack” but it does not mean this book was a let down. This book has different charm, more on innocent kind of love. It makes you remember that magical feeling of meeting an interesting stranger in your teenage years and the awkward feeling when you found yourself developing a crush.
Gemma went to Funtastic World alone to celebrate her seventeenth birthday by conquering her fear of extreme rides. About to give up when an intrigued bored employee, about the same age as her, approached and offered to be with her to get through the rides. His name is Aiden, and he seems nice.
This is a very light read. With only seven chapters, the premise happened only within hours inside the amusement park. “Cute, funny and cute again” That’s how I will describe their small adventures inside the park as they slowly opened up with each other. There’s nothing much to say about since the premise is simple and the dynamics of the story is in the dialogue of the two characters rather than the plot of the story. It makes you miss the feeling where in you don’t have any idea about relationships. And you still believe that love is purely magic.
Final verdict: If you want to remember an innocent love or crush, read this book. 3.5 out of 5.
5. Boyfriend Backtrack by Dawn Lanuza
I immensely enjoyed this book. This is the thickest of the five but reading this is just a breeze. I definitely see myself grabbing more of Dawn Lanuza’s book. Her writing style is lit!
Regina’s boyfriend of three years Kevin finally proposed in a posh restaurant. But a weird thing happened to her. The faces of her exes flashed through her eyes in that supposed to be magical moment. She confessed this with her friends and was convinced that maybe, she needs to confront unresolved relationship issues with her past before tying the knot.
And wow Regina’s lovelife is colorful. She had a wide range of exes from an Emo highschool ex, to womanizer and doctor . All of which she had no proper break-up with. Her encounter with each one of them after the fateful proposal were both exciting and hilarious. To begin with, I could really feel that Regina is not much into this wedding. And people around her, her sister and friends seems to know this very well even though she denies it. I felt Regina’s looming anxiety and Dawn has captured this with her writing very well.
I just became frustrated because the plot is somewhat similar to a novel that I’ve been working on. It’s not exactly the same but it also deals with the exes. And Dawn has written this very good. Feeling lost right now. But this won’t stop me from continuing what I started.
And because I love the book, I’ll be answering of all the guide questions.
- Is there a certain song that reminds you of one specific person? Why do you think this song reminds you of him/her?
Well in the book, that would be “There She Goes” by “The La” . I’m listening to it right now and I just can’t help imagining how this song was used in that particular scene. Ahh feels so giddy again.
But okay the question is about me. What songs that reminds me of one specific person? Well, I have an answer for that. That would be ” Here There and Everywhere” by The Beatles. I don’t know this song until someone sang this to me over the phone. I don’t know whenever I hear this song, it creeps me that I somehow remember how I feel back then. Like a time machine. That maybe on that time I was truly adored and loved. Maybe. I’m not sure. And I don’t care if its real anymore. But somehow, this song makes me feel that way. And that’s why I don’t want to hear thing song again.
2. Do you think it’s wise to revisit your past to create a better future for yourself ?
Yes! Like Regina, you need to re-visit and conquered the past. Because if you can’t deal and accept, I believe any suppressed feeling will just carry on in the future. And it will destroy your inner peace.
3. I won’t type the question anymore because its too long. But my answer is simple NO.
4. Do you think the person you were ten years ago would be happy with who you become now?
Oh no, this question. I don’t think she’ll be happy. Maybe she’ll be shocked with the things I was able to do or what I have become. But she’ll be definitely sad because this is not the life she imagined ten years from now. Sorry self.
But I’ll do my best. At least I am a better person and I don’t get in much trouble through the years. And I still have many opportunities to expand my horizon. And just like Regina, I’ll be courageous to start all over again if I have to.
5. If you would be given a chance to take a step back from your life, where would you want to do it? Why?
I think I would want to go back in Highschool. I would take care more of myself. I would be more sociable. I would take in-charge of my life. I would have concentrated to develop skills. I would have been braver. That’s all.
Wew! That’s it! Finally! My final verdict to this books is a “must-grab”. It will entertain you but will leave you thinking about your life in general, not just relationship.
Dawn Lanuza and your books, wait for me because I’ll be reading more of your works.
Final Verdict: What a joyful emotional ride. 4.5 out of 5 stars!!!
And yes, that concludes my book-marathon. I am proud of myself that I finally manage to read books amidst my social media addiction. I am definitely inspired to write again. Time to pass to this reviews. Will I get a slot? I hope so. But no matter what, I won’t stop reading romanceclassbook! #SupportLocal, that’s my advocacy.
By the way, romanceclass is a community of Filipino romance writers. For more information, you can visit romanceclassbooks.com.
It’s not Too Late For Everything!