Day 8 – Drama Queen

Game for yet another chick lit from a Filipino author? Here’s another one from Abi Aquino.

Even for a struggling actress like 26-year old Kach, love doesn’t come easy. Especially if your timing is off and you miss your cue and forget to deliver the right lines at the right time…

Beautiful, talented and starving, theater actress Kach, who has a real penchant for drama, lives off the refrigerators and affection of her dearest childhood friends: Nats, a chef who has taken it upon herself to play mother to Kach, and Jorge, an overachieving research genius who balances off Kach when she starts overreacting and who gladly supplies much-needed warm hugs when her world – or her tiny Makati apartment – dramatically turns cold.

Now Kach has finally landed a legitimate role costarring an intense, sexy and brooding young stage actor named Sanchez. Their onstage chemistry quickly reaches boiling point and overflows into real-life, and suddenly Kach finds herself in a super-kilig affair, complete with snatches of smooches behind closed stage curtains.

But their romance takes a dramatic turn when Kach discovers that Sanchez isn’t tailor-made for the role of her real-life leading man…and that someone else is ready and willing to audition!

Drama Queen by Abi Aquino

This is chick lit in the real sense.

Girl gets to have a short steamy affair before realizing that she’s been kissing the Frog all this time and that Prince Charming is just within arm’s reach. With that kind of clue, you’d have guessed by now who Kach will end up with. But as I still find this story really kilig (I don’t know why when Kach is not that likeable as a female lead), I’ll let you in on a little clue (yet hoping I’m not divulging too much): some people have a way of sneaking up on you. One time, you act normally around them, not entertaining any thoughts of dating them or anything. The next, you see them in a different light and just can’t stop berating yourself for not realizing that sooner. Basta! Just read this book and enjoy! 😉

Image taken using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-F2. © Pachuvachuva, 2011.
“L*ve Only logo © Pachuvachuva, 2011.

TRIVIA: For our non-Filipino readers, basta roughly equates to “that’s it“. Some expression you use when you mean “that’s it” / can’t explain further / just take my word for it. Or so I’d like to translate (I’m no expert. Hehe) 😀

Day 7 – No Strings Attached

According to the popular Bible story, God may have rested on the seventh day, but here at Pachuvachuva, we don’t.

Now onto today’s offering for the Love in 28 Days countdown. 🙂

No Strings Attached - Mina Esguerra

Carla is a whiz at her job: she’s efficient, reliable, and a total genius when it comes to putting something together at the last minute. The snag is she’s single and turning the big three-oh in a few months. Her girl best friend (yes, she’s married just like the other girls in Carla’s barkada) keeps trying to set her up with stable banker-types, while her guy best friend (single – the other single one) encourages her to play the field – no strings attached. Then, through no set up or extraordinary circumstance, Carla meets Dante. Hot, smug, sexy Dante. Definitely not a banker-type and seemingly too good to be true. So there’s got to be a catch. There is. He’s five years younger. Is the universe telling Carla to finally let loose and enjoy a fling with a younger man? Or is there a lot more to this awkward situation than she bargained for?

I like Carla and how strong her voice is although there weren’t too many situations presented to witness just how uber capable she is in terms of work. Well, since the author did mention that fact, it would have been wiser to illustrate just how good she is. Just my two cents. 🙂

It saddens me that no matter how much we women have advanced in terms of our career and personal growth, people still give us that look when they see that no rings adorn our fingers. Why is the idea of not being in a relationship still viewed as something horrendous when in fact, it is the perfect time for one to really learn about herself and discover the world around him? While I am not opposed to having relationships (yes, I am currently in one and happy at that, well, when I’m not PMS-ing or just plain irritable, hehe), since I believe that relationships give a different color to our world, but at the same time, I am just quite happy in my own company thankyouverymuch.

But my friends and relatives might not have thought so.

Backtrack 5 years ago, and you would have seen me squirming in my seat in front of a blind date that a friend or officemate set up. I know that they meant well but sometimes it’s exasperating having to endure yet another date that you know will not end well or a date that you had to go to lest you offend your friends. Too bad though they didn’t think that their meddling offended me. Hehe

Anyways, as for this book, I like it very much. Ms. Esguerra did a good job writing about a less than talked about topic that plagues some women (cradle snatching, anyone? ;)) However, I’m just confused about how Carla had to explicitly underscore her very platonic relationship with single guy friend, Tonio. Somehow, I was just given a hint that the author wanted that as some sort of red herring lest the reader figures out how the book will end before the 200 pages or so are up. But other than that, I enjoyed the experience thoroughly. Learned some lessons, too.

And oh, somehow, while reading, I was imagining Paul Jake Castillo being Dante. I really don’t know why I thought of him as such. Must be his signature PBB “responsible/cool/rich” guy ‘tude that did it. ^_^

Image taken using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-F2. © Pachuvachuva, 2011.
“L*ve Only logo © Pachuvachuva, 2011.

You can find a lengthier review of this novel here. 🙂

Day 6 – Almost Married

Today, we go Filipino with this chick lit from veteran writer, Tara FT Sering.

Almost Married by Tara FT Sering

After a traumatic engagement to a man who eventually cheated on her, 28-year old Karen is, once again, committed – this time to a seemingly perfect guy named Bert Reyno. And their year-old relationship rocks: she finds him funny and sweet, he thinks she’s amusing and sexy, the conversation is satisfying and the sex is great…so why not get married? But the ghosts of relationships past keep coming back to haunt her and suddenly, Bert seems too good to be true. Determined to spare herself from future heartbreak, Karen goes on a soul-searching trip, only to find herself buried in even more doubts: Is she ready to grow old and wrinkly with Bert? What about all the other hot guys? And is Bert like every other cheating male? Will she ever learn to completely love and trust someone again – without thinking the whole thing is just a Wow, Mali! scam?

The blurb is just about right. It’s just Karen who has a problem here. Bert is not too good to be true (no man is…they’re either just good or not) but it’s her who is just not ready to let go of the past nor excited to work on her future. Only Tara FT Sering’s narration and crisp dialogues saved this. I just can’t find myself rooting for Karen. She’s too flaky, too paranoid and just annoying in between. “What does Bert see in her?” was frequently one of the many questions that I’ve been trying to answer while re-reading this book for the nth time. I kinda like the book (again, the credit goes to Sering and not to her main protagonist) but I’m not so sold out. However, I’d rather have you guys read this yourselves. 🙂
Image taken using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-F2. © Pachuvachuva, 2011.
“L*ve Only logo © Pachuvachuva, 2011.

Day 5 – Royally Jacked

For Day 5, we offer you this short young love story from Niki Burnham.

Valerie’s life is pretty good. While she’s not the most popular girl in school, she does have decent grades, great friends, and a potential boyfriend. All a girl could want.

Then her mother announces that (1) she’s gay, and (2) she’s leaving Valerie’s dad for her girlfriend. Not what Valerie envisioned for her future. And just when Valerie is getting over this bombshell, her father tells her he’s gotten a new job as protocol chief for the royal family of some obscure European country.

Valerie’s world has come unglued. She can either stay in Virginia with her mom and her uber-organized, veggie-burger-eating girlfriend, or go with her dad, leaving everything she knows for some place she’s never heard of. Valerie opts to go, and quickly discovers that it was a mistake – until she meets the prince, and all bets are off!

Royally Jacked by Niki Burnham

Burnham created a hilarious story without sacrificing dialogue for funny-ness. This is recommended for those who have long since wished how it is to date a member of the royalty. And speaking of which, I used to keep a photo of Prince William (THE Prince William, Kate Middleton’s Prince William, the William who’s next in line to the throne, that William :D) which I have photocopied from a former high school classmate’s magazine. That was way before the popularity of internet. So juvenile, I know. But my only consolation was that I wasn’t the only one who did that. For girls who grew up on fairy tales, dreaming and fantasizing about princes and being swept away is sort of second nature. 😀

Image taken using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-F2. © Pachuvachuva, 2011.
“L*ve Only logo © Pachuvachuva, 2011.

TRIVIA: Valerie’s story doesn’t end there. Author Burnham has 2 more tales as follow up to this romantically crazy adventure. Check out Spin Control and Do-Over.

Day 4 – Getting to Third Date

Getting to Third Date - Kelly McClymer

Katelyn Spears is a firm believer in the two-date rule. First dates are awkward; every guy deserves a second chance. But a third? Not unless he’s got serious Romeo potential.

Enter Tyler. Tyler thinks Katelyn’s rule is too harsh. He dares her to go back through her Little Pink Book and grant a third date to all the two-date duds. Oh, and she should report back to the whole school via her newspaper column.

Determined to prove Tyler wrong, Katelyn makes a few phone calls. But will any of her old flames rekindle a romance?

I like the story because I can relate to Katelyn’s character. How she agreed to do the “Mother Hubbard” column, their school paper’s century-old Agony Aunt section, just because she was cornered by Tyler – THE Tyler who makes her heart palpitate, makes her agree to anything he says, makes her do the column even if she would seriously quit it had the circumstances been any different. That Tyler.

And why did I say that I can relate to that?

Because not just once did I had a major major crush on a fellow member of the editorial board. Flashback some years ago in high school, I got lucky and got accepted as junior writer for the school paper (even if I was just accompanying some friends then when they took the qualifying exams. Because I didn’t have anything better to do, I took the exam, too, and the rest is history. :D). That first meeting with school paper staff, my cutie radar zoomed in on one of the senior writers and my sophomore year just turned out super. And it’s not that I have a thing for writers but had 2 more writer crushes (who were my good friends at the same time. Was such a stalker. Hehe) until I graduated from HS. 😀

College. Now it was a tango turned bad. First we hated each other. Then I kind of liked him. Then a year or so after he became our senior artist/cartoonist, he kind of liked me. But since we’re so bad with spoken words that we never really admitted to anything until I graduated. Maybe in the back of our minds, we felt that our friendship was way more important (boo!!! if a guy/girl tells you this, then he/she doesn’t really like you enough to risk it) and decided not to pursue a relationship. Sad but that’s how life is sometimes. Hehe

But now, back to the book as I’ve already segued too much. 😀

So there I’m recommending the book if you’re into crushing on someone in silence while taking your sweet time devising a no-fail strategy to get your man or girl. 🙂

Image taken using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-F2. © Pachuvachuva, 2011.
“L*ve Only” logo © Pachuvachuva, 2011.

Day 3 – Flavor of the Week

It’s probably one of every female’s fantasies to have a sweet boyfriend who can cook and won’t mind doing it (for the love of her). I mean, seriously, who wouldn’t adore a guy who can whip up any dessert just like that? It’s like having a bf and a chef all in one hunky package. (Although I’m not saying I have something against guys who can’t cook because I myself can’t. But don’t spread that around, will yah? Haha)

Now on our third day for the Love in 28 Days countdown, we bring you this succulent story from foodie Tucker Shaw.

Flavor of the Week by Tucker Shaw

Cyril Bartholomew has been in love forever with sweet hippie girl Rose Mulligan. And yet for all his cooking prowess, he just can’t tell her how he feels (or even about his cooking). And things would have gone all the same in New Hyde Park Regional High School if Cyril’s childhood buddy Nick Garbacchio didn’t move back in from New York and onto dear Rosie’s life and heart, much to Cyril’s chagrin.

The catastrophe started when Nick, for all his good intentions of winning Rose over, asked Cyril “to help him” cook delicious meals for her. Vegetarian that she is, Rose appreciates good food and would most likely consider a guy who cooks equivalent to one very hot guy. So for several dates, Cyril and Nick managed “to trick” Rose into thinking that it was Nick who did all the magic. Except that Jamie, Rose’s BFF, found out all about the charade and let Rose in on the secret. And hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Rose made Cyril miserable by not accepting his apology thereby affecting his concentration and his application to the illustrious and super cutthroat American Institute of the Culinary Arts. But this story is about food and happiness, so cut to page 219 and you have a happy and very much in love Cyril with his sweet Rose sharing a plate of cookies and the good news of his college acceptance at AICA.

So? What can I say about this book?

Well, first of all, it is about food. And I love books about food almost as much as I love food itself. The chapters were named after the delightful recipes tried by Cyril (which were also included at the end of every chapter) and I find that really cute. Plus, I am impressed with Cyril’s cooking. Like I said, I can’t cook so anybody who can is a hero to me.

Second, it is a love story with a happy ending. So what’s not to like about that? Everybody, who at one point in his or her life has ever been in love, would always want a happy ever after (well, til the sequel…hehe).

But I have some other thoughts about it though.

While I admire Cyril’s skills in the kitchen, I have a lot of say about his self-esteem. He is a nice guy that you just can’t help but root for him to get his girl. On the other hand, you’d also want to whack him on the head because he just couldn’t tell Rose about his feelings. He thinks his weighing 240 pounds is a turn off. Well, Cyril, you’re partly right and you’re partly wrong. First impressions might matter but they’re just that – first impressions. They don’t necessarily have to last. And like I always say in defense of my weight whenever a weight-conscious fiend means to put me down with a snotty “your BMI could use Math. Subtraction in this case,” it’s all about how you carry yourself. Character, charm, and subtle confidence will always win out in the end.

All in all, I enjoyed the book although it ended too quickly for my taste. The characters need to be fleshed out more. The scenes need more polishing. The characters could benefit for crisper dialogues. But like a really good dessert after a scrumptious meal, it quite hit the spot.

NOTE: I apologize for not being able to post this yesterday. My internet connection was really bad. So sorry. Later during the day, I’ll be posting the review for day 4.
Image taken using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-F2. © Pachuvachuva, 2011.
“L*ve Only logo © Pachuvachuva, 2011.

TRIVIA: The American Institue of the Culinary Arts (AICA) mentioned here is fictional. However, there is a Culinary Institute of America with its main campus located in Hyde Park, New York. 🙂

Day 1 – Flipped

Flipped by Wendelin van Draanen

The first time she saw him, she flipped. The first time he saw her, he ran.

And fom the second grade to the seventh, that’s how it was. She says: “My Bryce. Still walking around with my first kiss.” He says: “It’s been six years of strategic avoidance and social discomfort.”

But in the eighth grade, their views of the world – and each other – turn upside down. He says: “I’d spend so many years avoiding Juli Baker that I’d never really looked at her, but now I couldn’t stop.” And she says: “I felt a cold, hard knot tighten in my heart. I was through with Bryce Loski.”

Is there hope for happiness in junior high?

Have you flipped?

Took me years to find this book. It’s just not available anywhere locally. Except on that fateful day when I decided to check out the Robinsons branch of Booksale (March 10, 2010). Wouldn’t have noticed it had not my eyes strayed to the bottom portion of the softbound books section. You bet I squealed in delight. It was like finding true love (although in real life, I was rather slow in recognizing that it already is ^_^). Didn’t matter if the book appears used (and abused). At Php 20.00, it was more than a bargain I could have hoped for. 🙂

Now onto the story.

Little Juli Baker has been wanting a playmate ever since but has found none until Bryce Loski moved in as Juli’s family’s neighbor. Too bad though, Bryce doesn’t like her. But did that stop Juli from befriending him? No. In fact, she was rather persistent in letting him know just how friendly and happy she is that she now has someone to play with. For the next few years, the two have been dancing a crazy cha-cha: 2 steps forward for Juli, 2 miles backward for Bryce. And she wouldn’t have stopped her crazy obsession with him had she not realized that Bryce is not as nice as she thinks he is (despite the fact that her heart still skips a beat when she’s with him). And he would have gone on avoiding her had he not realized that she is way special than any other girl he has met. But will these two hearts find what they’re really seeking?

If you haven’t read this book yet, then don’t expect it to be the usual girl-falls-in-love-with-boy-who-ignores-her-then-falls-out-of-love-for-him-later-when-boy-finally-realizes-her-worth. Because it really is not. The premise might be based on that but it’s more complex than it appears. It’s a lot of things, actually: junior high issues, puppy love, being true to one’s self, having conviction to believe and fight in your dreams, being contented with the things you have, acceptance and understanding for persons with unique qualities, having dreams, and being awed at the mystery called life. But how Ms. van Draanen was able to orchestrate all of them together with not one aspect competing with another, is just simply magic.

I especially like the line of Bryce’s granddad when he told him this one tinny tiny secret about love and finding that special person:

Some of us get dipped in flat, some in satin, some in gloss… But every once in a while you find someone who’s iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare.

Ha. You bet after reading that, I asked myself if The Dude thinks I’m iridescent. Hehehe 😀

So that’s Day 1 of our Love in 28 Days countdown. Stay tune for tomorrow’s review. 🙂
Image taken using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-F2. L*ve Only logo© Pachuvachuva, 2011.

Trivia: Was singing Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now while posting this entry. So yeah, I don’t just sing in the shower. 😉