Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Guest Post: Ines Bautista Yao

Wow, two new book features in one week! I'm just happy to support these Filipino authors in getting the word out on their amazing books.

When I read Ines Bautista Yao's Only a Kiss, I was drawn in by the wonderfully-rendered storytelling that detailed the lives of Katie and Chris as they grew up from innocent children to professional adults who have not forgotten their first loves. When the opportunity came for me to read Just A Little Love (through a copy furnished by the author in exchange for an honest review) I went ahead and read it--and quickly fell in love with her characters. The stories in Just a Little Love are clean, feel-good reads, but they pack all the swoony romantic feels that would make you root for the characters. 

Anyway, here's our feature on Just A Little Love

Three short stories about three young girls: Anita, Ina, and Carla. Each one finding their lives disrupted by a boy. Maybe it’s because he wanders into the coffee shop where she works after school every Tuesday. Maybe it’s because he won’t leave her alone even if she has made it clear that she is crushing on his football teammate. Or maybe it’s because she’s spent one unforgettable afternoon with him—despite being oh-so-forgetful. Three small doses of love that serve up a whole lot of feels.

Buy it on Amazon and Buqo



What I call my little book that could, Just A Little Bit Of Love, has three stories that can stand alone. But if you look closely, you'll notice that there is one name that comes out in each story.


Who is Katie?

In the first story, “Watching, Waiting”, she's 14, a classmate of Anita. Someone Anita may have found intimidating at first but found to be kind and friendly over time.

In the second story, “On the Sidelines”, Katie is mentioned as the best friend of Chris. Both are in high school. Ina doesn't believe that Katie and Chris can be best friends because relationships like those don't usually last - they end one way or the other: in love or heartbreak. But Ina's best friend Robert says their friendship is the real deal.

In the third story, “Sticky Notes and Forgetfulness”, Katie is the office mate of Carla. The one who tries her best to track down the photographer who has captured Carla's heart.

Katie is the lead character in my book, Only A Kiss. She starts out as a nine-year-old girl who grows up into a young woman in her early twenties. She is the common thread of all three stories.

What I wanted to do was give readers a hint of Katie's life but not leave them with a cliffhanger (because I hate those!). I wanted to write three stories with satisfying endings that could stand on their own. But if a reader wanted more, the happy news is there is more: a whole book's worth in Only a Kiss!

Writing these stories was a lot of fun because unlike writing a normal story where you just pull ideas out of the ether, I had a world to revisit. I played the scenes in my head and tried to imagine who else could be in them. Who else could have been at that coffee shop when Chris, Katie, and Megan talked? Who else could have crushed so hard on Ethan? Who else could have an interesting story because of her quirky character? Carla is the only main character who is actually in Only A Kiss. I already found her adorable at the start and I loved giving her her own story.

I enjoyed doing this so much that maybe, just maybe, I’ll revisit my other books and look for characters who want to come out in future stories as well!



Ines Bautista-Yao is the author of One Crazy Summer, What’s in Your Heart, and Only a Kiss. She has also written two short stories, “Flashbacks and Echoes,” which is part of a compilation called All This Wanting and “A Captured Dream,” one of the four short stories in Sola Musica: Love Notes from a Festival.

She is the former editor-in-chief of Candy and K-Zone magazines and a former high school and college English and Literature teacher. She is also a wife and mom and blogs about the many challenges and joys of motherhood at She has recently launched The Author Project, a section in her current blog devoted to the stories in her head.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Review: What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra

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?

***Andrea and Damon met in prequel short story WEDDING NIGHT STAND, but this book can be read as a standalone.***

Buy it from Amazon (pre-order; releases November 25)



(Note: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.)

When I heard that Mina V. Esguerra was going to revisit the Chic Manila universe with the continuation of Andrea and Damon's story from Wedding Night Stand, I jumped at the chance to read their book and see what happened after their one steamy encounter in Batangas. I knew that (spoiler!) they had plans to get together when they got back to Manila, but a few questions remained: How were they going to manage the aftermath? Would they try to stay friends, or would they have a hard time getting out of each other's beds? And what if love enters the equation? 

Thankfully, What You Wanted gives us the answers to those questions and more. Andrea isn't exactly in a place where she should be in a relationship; she's getting over her ex-best friend/almost-boyfriend Thad, who had just gotten married to someone else. And Damon isn't exactly boyfriend material, either, since Andrea knows that he's still pining for his dream girl Geraldine. Yet, they enter this agreement with each other--not quite a relationship, but a little bit more than "just friends"--knowing that their presence in each other's lives is nothing more than a middle finger to the destiny that had denied them the person that they'd wanted in the first place. And yet, in true Mina V. Esguerra fashion, that doesn't stop them from doing things that couples do: public displays of affection, family get-togethers, even spontaneous road trips. Nothing is easy, nothing is clear, and all the boundaries end up blurring into a giant mess.

"You can't still love him," he whispered, still out of breath. "You can't still love him and be perfect like this with me."  
"Is that a question?"  
He shook his head. He wasn't angry. 
"I'm not saying I still love him," I said. 
"It wasn't a question." 

The more Andrea and Damon get to know each other, the more they question the point of their arrangement. And it doesn't take long before the feelings come into play--not the least which being love.

There's a lot to recommend about What You Wanted. There's a lot of room to get to know Andrea and Damon as characters; they're not exactly likable (as evidenced by their actions) but they have great chemistry and their journey to redemption is rendered with wicked wit, especially when it comes to the mini-conflicts that threaten to tear them apart. It's not too hard to imagine people in real life who would end up in the conundrum that these two face, but it's hard to look away as you watch everything go to hell in a handbasket.

There were scenes that made me laugh out loud, like the moment when Andrea enters an archery range and tries her hand at shooting arrows. There's a little bit of steam, too, but there are also moments that would leave you swooning. The spontaneous road trip that the two make toward the middle of the story is an example of that; they're still not a couple, but the intimacy is so prevalent that you have to wonder if they'll ever wake up to the truth about their relationship-of-sorts.

Along the way, we're also treated to guest appearances from other characters in the Chic Manila universe: Damon lives in the apartment complex from Welcome to Envy Park, and Andrea's sister Julie (from That Kind of Guy) is happily married to Anton. If there's any complaint that I would have about the book, it would be the fact that the villains are demonized too early in the story; it would have been more enjoyable if their dastardliness had been revealed more slowly, so there wouldn't be a big honking sign over their heads saying "Bad Person(s) Ahead!"

All in all, What You Wanted is an enjoyable read, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes their romances with a wicked twist of humor. It will be interesting to see what Mina comes up with next, especially if she decides to re-visit this universe again.

Rating: B+ 

Friday, October 23, 2015

#romanceclass: Now Available at National Bookstore! (Plus Direct Order Information!)

Here is the list of National Bookstore and Powerbooks branches carrying #romanceclass books on their shelves. Please note that not all bookstores might carry the titles, so it helps to ask customer service first if they carry the books. There are also reports of other branches carrying these books that are not on the list, so it always helps to ask first. If your branch is not on the list, or does not carry the #romanceclass titles, just ask customer service to put in an order so they can keep their shelves stocked. Thanks, friends!

National Bookstore Branches – National Capital Region
Rizal Avenue
Quezon Ave.
SM Fairview
Robinsons Imus
SM Bacoor
Robinsons Ermita
Q Plaza
Ever Rosario
Robinsons Ortigas
SM Sta. Mesa
SM Manila
SM Sucat
Robinsons Novaliches
Sta. Lucia East
Northridge Plaza
SM Bicutan
NAIA Northwings
C. Raymundo
Robinsons Cainta
SM Marilao
SM Dasmariñas
SM San Lazaro
SM Valenzuela
SM Molino
SM Mall Of Asia
Rockwell Center
Shopwise Sucat
Malabon Citisquare
Robinsons Metro East
SM City Taytay
Robinsons Place Otis
SM Muntinlupa
Victory Central Mall
Alabang (Acc)
NAIA Southwings
SM City Rosario
SM Novaliches
SM Masinag
Las Piñas (Bestsellers)
De LaSalle Dasmariñas
One Greenhills
Victory Park & Shop Antipolo
San Antonio Plaza
Ayala Imus
Fairview Terraces
SM BF Sucat
SM Center Angono
NBS - Fisher Mall
Central Mall Molino
SM Rob. Place Antipolo
SM San Mateo

National Bookstore – Provincial Branches
Batangas-Bay City
Pavillion Mall
Robinsons Lipa
SM Batangas
SM Sta. Rosa
SM Lipa City
Paseo de Sta. Rosa
SM City Naga
SM San Pablo
SM Calamba
Lky Sta. Cruz
SM Pampanga
SM Lucena
SM Baguio
SM Clark
CB Mall Urdaneta
SM City Rosales
Waltermart Sta. Maria
SM Baliwag
Marquee Mall
SM Tarlac
SM Mega Center (Cabanatuan)
SM Olongapo
Robinsons Place Calasiao
SM San Fernando
SM Hypermart Laoag
Robinsons Santiago
SM Cauayan
Agoo La Union




If you want your copies of #romanceclass books delivered straight to your home or workplace, Visprint Inc. now accepts direct orders for books. Just email them at with the following information: 

Mailing address (Note: please ensure accuracy of address, because Visprint won't take responsibility for failure of delivery due to incomplete address or office addresses which do not accept deliveries at certain times. Should there be specific time of deliveries for the given address, please indicate.)
Contact Number
Title(s) and Quantity

You will then get an email back from Visprint with bank details for depositing your payment. Get your #romanceclass books now! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

More #romanceclass Sightings!

#romanceclass is on the shelves at select National Bookstore branches!

SM North (photo credit: yours truly)

Greenbelt 1 (photo credit: Chi Rodriguez)
And SM Rosario! (photo credit: Kevin +Tomebound)

Just a handy note: If you can't find #romanceclass books at your nearest bookseller, just ask Customer Service or put in a request for a title. This ensures that your favorite books will be kept in stock!

Hugs and kisses to you all!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

#romanceclass: Now Available in Stores!

Good news! Save the Cake and other #romanceclass titles are now available at all branches of Pandayan Bookshop! They also take online orders through their official Facebook page.

And here are some documented sightings on the shelves of National Bookstore branches in Molino and Trinoma, courtesy of Chrissie Peria and Ysa Arcangel.
A photo posted by Chrissie Peria �� (@kaoko25) on

Monday, October 5, 2015

#JustWritePH Blog Tour: For the Win (Plus Giveaway!)

Welcome to the final week of the #JustWritePH Blog Tour! Each week we have featured a different story and author from each of the #JustWritePH bundles available from Buqo.

#JustWritePH: For the Win

Available on Buqo for US$0.99 (P45) from October 5 to 11
Regular price is US$3.99 (P180)

Insurmountable challenges from supernatural beings, political scandals in vast kingdoms, post-apocalyptic survival, and...dealing with the extended family? All in a day’s work for the characters in this thrilling bundle of stories about overcoming obstacles and testing their resolve. Features “Hunter Zero” by Viai, “The Seeker’s Inn” by Maita Rue, “A Solarpunk Fairytale” by Mary Beatrice Ponce, and “Her Highness, The Handmaiden: Ascension” by Saelynne G. LeClerk.

Our featured author of the week is writer and artist Viai, author of the suspenseful tale Hunter Zero. 


Hunters - people who exterminate supernatural elements from the world. A certain element, called the Nis, latches on to our main protagonist, Eri Geiju, a stern-looking high school student with a peculiar reputation. This catches the attention of two professional hunters, Eight and Ten and opens her eyes to the true nature of the Hunting business.

Follow the author: Facebook | DeviantArt


The air felt heavy as tension built up. We were behind an old abandoned building when it all happened. “Drag me into their world? What are you taking abo—” Eight slammed her hand on the wall, a hair’s width away from my face. I could feel my heartbeat getting faster. I didn’t understand the danger I was in, or the danger they think I was in. “I never bothered them, and they never bothered me… At least not until today.”

“Was there anything you did that might have caught this Nis’ attention?” Ten spoke softly. 

“I don’t remember.” I told the small-framed redhead. Her twin was a different story. I could see her toned arms up close after her hand had rushed beside my face. Eight had brute strength and agility, but Ten was so fragile. Small little thing she was and will remain to be. 

“It doesn’t matter. We just need to deal with this one like we always do.” Eight removed her hand and proceeded to walk towards a nearby forest. Hano was more forest than city, so there’s always a cluster of trees nearby. Ten just stood there, eyes hooded by her heavy set bangs. Her lips were moving but I couldn’t quite understand what she was saying. “Ten, let’s go! We’ve got work to do.” 

I followed the two deeper into the forest. “What are you planning to do?” I said as I grabbed Eight by the shoulder. She hesitated for a while then slowly turned towards me. 

“We’re going to hunt. You should go back now.” 

“We might need her, Eight.” Ten said meekly. “The Nis is attached to her.” 

“We can just lure it out. She doesn’t have to be here.” Ten leaned in closer to her sister and whispered something in her ear. Eight griped but seemed to agree with Ten, nonetheless. She headed towards me and grabbed me by the shirt, pulling me towards her. “Listen Eri. You don’t have to be here, but I know you. You’re going to force yourself to stay here, anyway. We don’t have time for that. I need you to stay still and follow what I say. If you don’t, you’re going to get us all killed. Yes, killed, you little halfwit.” I grumbled at that comment. She released her grip and pointed to the ground “Sit here while Ten and I wait for your parasite. If you start seeing white again, don’t move, don’t talk. Whatever you see after that is an illusion of the Nis. Try not to get pulled in.” 

(This interview was edited for clarity.) 

Name: Valerie Ira C. Balmoris (VIAI) 
Occupation: Civil Engineer 
Favorite time of day to write: Evening 
Favorite writing instrument: Laptop 
Favorite snack (and/or drink) while writing: Peppermint Tea

What inspired me to write: As I tried grasping the answer to this question, a mess of thoughts entered my mind, to be honest. There were a lot of things that went into writing this story. I think one driving force is my desire to create a world of my own. I have always been intrigued by the process of creating characters, creatures, places, history, language, and race, so what better way to do that than to write in a fantasy setting? Also, being an artist, another thing I’m excited about is the opportunity to create character art for my own story. 

Other than that, I also have this desire to create characters that people can get attached to. I won’t lie, I’ve asked myself a number of times what a certain fictional character would do during difficult situations. I pulled motivation from them and I was inspired by their stories. Hunter Zero has a number of characters, each having their own struggle in life. My goal is to break them from the stereotypical character molds and make them as human as possible. I want to show how complex each human being can be, and reflect that in my characters. 

The challenges I faced: I had a struggle with time management. This was my first time writing 15k words for a single story. I went in with the mindset of “do a little bit everyday so you won’t get overwhelmed at the end.” Of course I wasn’t able to do that, so I spent a number of sleepless nights writing my story to compensate for the days that I wasn’t able to write. I prefer not to rush a story, but I had to work with what I got. 

To me, not meeting the deadline was like admitting that I overestimated myself. I knew it was possible, and there was no good reason to fail. (I'd) already sacrificed a lot of time and sleep because of it, so I want something to show for all my efforts. I also needed my story to get out there at that time, because I might not get an opportunity like that again. Thinking about that kept me going. 

On feedback: I had a number of beta readers. One valuable feedback I got was about the original ending. “I would have loved to see the emotions presented more. What about the pain? What about the painful understanding after knowing what happened? It was a great chance to engage the reader.” I revised my ending because of that. It made me realize that the characters deserved a better ending. 

Another notable feedback was about a scene in my story where one of the characters is running while texting someone. “If it’s so urgent, why is she texting? She should call the other person.” I really didn’t think about that. Sometimes you overthink stuff, so simple things like that can escape you. It’s nice when someone can point that out for you. 

What I've learned: Technical stuff aside, I learned that writing is not easy. You have to fully immerse yourself in it in order to create a story that can move other people. Transforming thoughts into words is an excruciating process because you would have to somehow make sense of the abstract ideas forming in your head. You would have to spend a lot of time with your own thoughts, and that’s not something everyone is willing to do. I kind of understand why people say writers torture themselves, because you would have to pull from your own experiences and feelings if you want to write something believable. You have to remind yourself of the pain you once felt, and transfer that to the character. 

Also, writing a book involves A LOT of revisions, if you want to make it a good one. Next time, I will devote more time and effort for my story. I now accept that it’s not supposed to be an easy process, but it’s definitely worth it.

What's next: I plan on making Hunter Zero a book series. The first one released was more of an origin story, so the next one I’m going to write would be for the main story. I already have characters, places, history, and conflicts set up. All that is left is to fill in the gaps and write the story. I also plan on doing a web comic for Hunter Zero. It would have the same characters, but with different content. Personally, I love it when I see how characters are in their normal lives, so I might do that for the web comic. 


Here's your last chance to win free ebooks from Buqo! Just click on the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win one of three (3) copies of this week's featured bundle, #JustWritePH: For the Win. Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway