Midnights in Bali by Carla De Guzman

midnights in baliMidnights in Bali by Carla De Guzman
Source: Review Copy from the Author
Rating:  ★★★
Buy from Anvil Publishing (PH Only)

Synopsis

Ava Bonifacio has always been the girl with The Plan —a life plan that would give her everything she’s ever wanted, including becoming a lawyer, a role she was sure she was born into. Sure, her determination may be seen as heartlessness, but Ava doesn’t care. What she does care about is getting into law school —but she doesn’t. She cares about her boyfriend Matteo—who breaks up with her.

In an act of desperation, Ava books herself a ticket to Bali and tries to get over her own failures. In Bali she meets Scott McLeod, a rude and grumpy Scottish traveler who thinks there’s a lot more to Ava than meets the eye.

But as Ava reveals more about herself, she finds Scott slowly pulling away from her. He was never part of The Plan, but Ava is determined to make sure he doesn’t slip away.

I received an ARC of this book from the Author. No compensation in any form was received for the review of this book.

I read this book in one sitting and I really enjoyed it! It’s such a short but sweet read! Also can I just say that the cover is absolutely gorgeous!

Ava has set her mind on one goal: The Plan, which includes getting into law school, be a senior partner at her target law firm, and of course marry her boyfriend Matteo. Everything was set until Matteo broke up with her all of a sudden. Things started to hit her smack in the head so she decides to book a trip to Bali, where she meets Scott.

I admire Ava’s personality. She’s headstrong, smart, plus she’s on her way to be a lawyer. We have things in common which is why it wasn’t too hard to relate to her character. On the other hand, I’m not too sure how to describe Scott, besides him being a real charmer. He’s Scottish (*cue* Sam Heughan’s face and also because Outlander was mentioned in the book), a bit grumpy but actually fun to hang out with.

“You’ve lived because I’ve seen you live. You matter because you matter to me.”

I love Carla’s writing. It felt so natural to me and it flows, that’s why I didn’t put the book down until I’ve finished it. The plot was a little predictable with respect to the happy ending but the execution really suprised me. The revelation about Scott’s situation was shocking and heartwrenching. I also enjoyed the cultural aspect of the book. It actually felt like I’m having a visual of the place, like I was in Bali!

The only issues I had were character depth and the length of the novel itself. I think the book could do more with the characters depth. I wish I saw more from the secondary characters, although I’m aware of the length of the book, which brings me to my next point. I NEED MORE OF THE STORY!!!!!! I really wish it was longer because I can’t get enough of it!

Overall, this book sort of got me out of a reading slump (Thanks to another #romanceclass book) and I’m thankful. I do recommend this short yet sweet book because it’s really enjoyable, visually and emotionally, also sex-positive, and just awesome!

Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions (Talking Nerdy #1) by Six de los Reyes

Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions (Talking Nerdy, #1) by Six de los Reyes
Publication Date: April 17th 2016
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★★
Amazon

Synopsis

Falling in love is a chemical reaction.

Just ask Kaya Rubio, twenty-five year-old Molecular Genetics graduate student and research assistant. Fed up with her spinster aunts’ relentless reminders and unsolicited advice regarding her Single Since Birth status, she designs a scientific, evidence-based methodology to find her a suitable partner in time for her cousin’s wedding. As any good scientist knows, any valid experimental design requires a negative control. Enter the most unsuitable candidate for a potential boyfriend: the messy, easygoing, café owner Nero Sison. Her null hypothesis? Going out with Nero would establish her baseline data without catalyzing the chemical reaction she seeks.

But when Kaya’s recorded results refuse to make sense, she is forced to come to the conclusion that there are some things in life that are simply, by nature, irrational and illogical. And that sometimes, chemistry doesn’t always happen inside a lab.

Hi guys! Long time no see, I guess.😂

I’m writing this while my whole face is still stuck in a smile. I loved this novel for so many reasons, and here are some:

 IT’S SO SCIENTIFIC AND NERDY!

A little side story, I started this book a while ago last year, and yes I enjoyed it then, there were so many parts that were so relateable as a Research Associate, but at that time I was so frustrated with work, my results are erratic, I was working OT everyday, and we had an upcoming deadline for a conference, and reading this book then kinda made me more agitated so I stopped. But this time around, all the science and research-related things worked in favor of me liking this book, because I survived all that last year, and I am at the point were I just feel happy recalling it. As a researcher, I also appreciated that the author tried to make it really scientifically accurate, heck she even described CRISPR. 😂 I also really loved the science puns and hugots.

THE PARTIES ARE VERY PINOY AND LOVELY

The events with Kaya’s family were so familiar because you know these things happen at your reunions and family gatherings, maybe their family is just a bit more grand, but it’s still very Filipino.

YOU JUST WANT TO GET TO KNOW EACH ONE OF THE CHARACTERS MORE

OH GOD. I feel like I just want to hug them all? They are interesting and lovable, and I just want them all for friends.

The father-grandfather-Kaya scenes

These were very sweet and insightful. I enjoyed these moments because these are the moments were Kaya gets her “Eureka! I have found it moments” when it comes to Nero. 😂

Kaya

I kinda identify with her on many levels, and I see my awkward, anxious, emotional mess of a self in her sometimes. Most of the time, I just want to hug her and say, oh you pure being.

Hmm, she’s not very thoughtful of Nero’s feelings sometimes, but I kind of get her reasons. She is very smart and determined, and I really admire her for it. SHE ALSO READS JOURNALS FOR FUN. (That’s gotta count for something!)

NERO

Oh dear, I feel like I just want people to find out how delightful, and hot, and sweet he is, for themselves. He is too precious. 😂

BUDDY READING WITH INAH

Sometimes, when there’s just so much feels, you stop and scream and maybe roll around the carpet, then you tweet it and shout your feels to your buddy, in my case my budi, Inah. It was infinitely better because I read it with her. (Same here, bud! – Inah)

There are many more reasons, but those were the main ones.😂

This novel was really a roller coaster. I almost cried once, my heart almost stopped twice, and my body almost burst out of feels so many times. So I guess, what I’m really trying to say is I love it.

A Promdi’s Guide to Self-Discovery by Rhea Gonzales

A Promdi’s Guide to Self-Discovery by Rhea Gonzales
Publication Date: November 26th 2016
Source: Review Copy from the Author
Rating: 

Synopsis

Kung tatanungin mo kung ano ang pangarap ni Mayumi Gonzales, isa lang ang isasagot niya – ang makawala mula sa mahirap at maliit na mundo niya sa probinsya. Kaya naman nang binigyan siya ng pagkakataong makapag-aral sa isang kolehiyo sa Manila, kinuha niya ito agad sa pag-aakalang ito na ang sagot na hinihiling niya. Puno pala ng drama ang buhay na naghihintay sa kanya at hindi siya handa para dito. Ipasok pa sa storya ang isang gwapong gitarista ng isang sikat na banda at talagang hindi na malaman ni Mayumi kung ano ang gagawin.

Ano ba ang dapat gawin ng isang promdi na katulad niya para malagpasan ang malulupit na mga pagsubok na darating?

I received an ARC of this book from the Author. No compensation in any form was received for the review of this book.

It’s actually my first time to review a book written in my native language and it actually feels cool! I should do this more often!! So since some of you probably didn’t understand the synopsis, let me give you the gist of the story.

Mayumi is the protagonist, she’s from the province (Promdi is a Filipino slang for people from the province) and she has been offered by her bestfriend’s dad full ride to college in Manila. Then she meets Nathan, a guitarist of a famous band. She realized that the life she expected wasn’t all great, rather it was full of drama and challenges.

Mayumi lives a simple life in the province. She even described their technology as ancient, with non-functioning lamp posts, phones way too big, and tv channels you can count with your fingers. And this is real. Remote areas like this exist in our country.

Mayumi is smart, but a little naive with the modern culture of Manila. She almost got lost when she arrived in Manila while looking for her supposed place to stay. That’s how he met Nathan, a blue haired rockstar. I would call this a meet cute but Nathan is deadass arrogant okay? So there goes trope number one: bad boy-good girl. Also trope number two: rich boy-poor girl. And then, first day of school, she learned that she and Nathan are classmates in one of her subjects.

I definitely have mixed feelings about this. It was quite fun and interesting to read but then, I gave too many eye rolls while reading because most of the tropes I hate were present in this book. Yet, I don’t know, it’s actually a little funny because most Filipinos stick to these tropes in stories especially in romance, like there’s nothing more Pinoy than sticking with these typical tropes and stereotypes.

Another trope present in the book was the love triangle. Remember when I said Nathan was arrogant? Well, he flirted and dated Mayumi’s bestfriend, Claire, just to get back at her. Why? Because he was being jealous for all the wrong reasons. This was the thing I hated the most with Nathan, he’s being overly jealous yet he’s not defining his relationship with Mayumi. He’s possessive and that’s really unhealthy in a relationship, and of course being the arrogant person that he is, he’s got a dark past. I mean, don’t they all? *cue another eyeroll*

How did Nathan get his redemption arc? HE DIDN’T! Mayumi got into an accident with a bunch of robbers and she ended up in the hospital. So Nathan rushed into the hospital and opened up to Mayumi about his past. I don’t necessarily hate this trope, though it’s a little tiring to see. (and this was a little more spoilery than I intended)

Overall, this book wasn’t so bad. I guess it just fell into the hands of the wrong reader. Also this book got an award in Wattpad so I’m pretty sure that a lot of local readers would appreciate this more than I did. I guess I just read a lot of stories like this that I feel really tired with this. Maybe if the book was called A Promdi’s Guide to First Love, I wouldn’t expect so much.

 

What Things Mean by Sophia Lee

what things meanWhat Things Mean by Sophia Lee
Publication Date: May 2016 by Scholastic
Source: Finished copy from the Author
Rating:★★★★

Synopsis

FOR OLIVE GUERRERO, DIFFERENT IS MORE THAN JUST A WORD.

What does it mean to be different? 14-year-old Olive is struggling to find out. Everything about her is so different from the rest of her family. She is big-haired, brown skinned, and clumsy in a family of cream-colored beauties who are all popular and Good At Sports. She closely resembles a father she has never known, and about whom her mother never speaks, and no one wants to tell her why. She turns to books and other things in her quest to find answers, and as a way to cope with her loneliness. When she learns the truth about her father, she must decide whether or not she will let the differences in her life define her forever.

A unique coming-of-age story unfolding through dictionary-style chapters, What Things Mean takes a closer look at the things that define a life, and the many ways in which we find meaning.

*Grand Prize Winner, Scholastic Asian Book Award 2014

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange of a review. No compensation in any form was received for the review of this book.

For someone who loves reading books, I barely read books from local authors, because most of the gems go under the radar. When I received an email from the author offering me a book for review, I immediately grabbed the opportunity!

The book was told in a unique manner, each chapter starting with a dictionary entry. It’s like a collection of different mini-stories stringed together, which was really cool. It was easy to read, and a short one so I read it in one sitting.

“I know now that things are always more than what they mean. Things mean different things to people. People are the ones who give meaning to things.”

I love Olive’s voice because it’s very realistic and relatable. Well, one factor is that the book is set in the Philippines. I love the fact that even the smallest things in Philippine culture was incorporated in the book.

Also considering that this book was written by a Filipino, one of the main themes in the book is family, since us lot are very much family-oriented. And yes, I did enjoy the book because of the realistic portrayals of the characters and themes of the story.

The dictionary entries were also quite enjoyable to read, and I’ve discovered new meanings to the words! Overall, this book was just the right one to get me out of my reading slump. It’s very relatable and heartfelt, also enjoyable. One of the best coming of age books I’ve ever read!

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inah