Book Review, Recommendations

[REVIEW] Beginner’s Guide to Love and Other Chemical Reactions by Six de los Reyes

This one’s for my old [STEM gurl from Science HS] life. 😉

Beginner’s Guide to Love and Other Chemical Reactions
By Six de los Reyes
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Category: New Adult
Rating: 5/5

Blurb:

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.

Review

I’ve been meaning to read this one since Sounds Like Summer. The cover and the blurb were just instant wins for me. I mean, that minimalist blue cover with a test tube. Of course, it’s going to be about Science, my weakness. My love even when we did not exactly work out together.

And it lived up to my expectations! Granted, the start of the story needs a little getting used to. The pacing and the language of a scientific journal can be a little alienating. I get that the use of the clinical language could have been intentional, since Kaya is a scientist and this book is her headspace.

But power through it and you will be rewarded!

Characters

I am a little wary of falling in love with LIs lately. I want to firmly love the MCs first before loving the LIs. Maybe I just want to give more airtime to the female characters. I feel like I always owe them more time to gush over.

But then Nero happened. Nero, who was the perfect ideal guy for girls who refuse to face their emotions, for stubborn but passionate women bent on succeeding. And sigh, it’s hard to keep the love for LI from showing.

Six’s strength in her storytelling lies in the complexity of her characters. I love how dynamic everyone is, from Sounds Like Summer to Feels Like Summer. Her characters feel so real and the richness of the world building just follows.

I also love her way around steamy scenes. They are Really Fucking Steamy. I could feel how single I am with her stories. As in, I want a Nero to make out with, kind of awareness.

So yes, read this! Read this is if you’re a fan of Penny Reid. Science and romance can happen. There’s no binomial opposition here, only a union of two sets of amazing and awesome fields of passionate women.

Book Review, Favorite, Recommendations

[REVIEW] The Royal Treatment by MJ Summers

The Royal Treatment
By MJ Summers
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Category: Adult
Rating: 4/5
Release Date: Summer 2017
Blurb:

Enough laughs to satisfy fans of Bridget Jones. Enough sparkly shoes and breathtaking ball gowns for fans of Cinderella…

Twenty-eight-year-old Tessa Sharpe, a.k.a. The Royal Watchdog, hates everything about Prince Arthur. As far as she’s concerned, he’s an arrogant, lazy leech on the kingdom of Avonia. When he shocks the nation by giving her the keys to the castle in an attempt to boost his family’s dismal public approval ratings, Tessa has no choice but to accept and move in for two months. It’s lust at first sight, but there’s no way she can give in to her feelings—not if she wants to have a career or a shred of pride left when her time at the palace ends.

Ultra-private, ultra-hot Crown Prince Arthur has always gotten by on his charm. But that won’t be enough now that the Royal Family is about to be ousted from power once and for all. When Prince Arthur has to rely on the one woman in the kingdom who hates him most, he must learn that earning the love of a nation means first risking his heart…

Can two natural enemies find their forever in each other’s arms, or will they ruin each other to save themselves?

[PLEASE NOTE: The Crown Jewels Series is not a typical MJ Summers book. It’s a light romantic comedy, very heavy on the laughs with a low steam level (but lots of delicious sexual tension and some swearing).]

Review

I absolutely loved every second I spent reading this book! I can’t believe I haven’t read any of MJ Summers book yet. The Royal Treatment was a breath of fresh air in the contemporary royal romance trope. It has that perfect blend of romantic fantasy and contemporary reality that pitch the readers into a rollercoaster of emotions and adventure.

I wasn’t too keen on the royalty thing, to be honest. There are lots of royalty romance books floating around that disappoints more than they satisfy the readers so I developed a tread-carefully perspective before reading one. I am so delightfully surprised with MJ Summer’s writing style and world building! She has a very engaging tone that easily lures in the readers into the wonderfully rich world, or kingdom to be more precise, of Tessa Sharpe and Prince Arthur.

I particularly love the fact that the story did not pander to any possibly predictable outcome. (I hate to spoil so you have to read to know what happens!) From the beginning to the very end, Tessa holds on to her principles strongly. While she and Prince Arthur did come to realize their faults, neither one changed into something their characters are not. They grew into their characters beautifully, even when the journey to get there was painful and full of sacrifices.

There is also the always-present reminder that at the end of Tessa’s stay, her commoner problems, problems we all have, are still waiting for her. Ultimately, she finds a way to resolve everything through her own courage and talents and I absolutely loved that above everything else. The Royal Treatment doesn’t set you up to any unrealistic expectation that falling in love with a prince will magically solve all your problems. (Well, there are problems they can handily solve but) There are more problems that come with the responsibility that tests the mettle of anyone stepping up to the plate. Tessa did not let anyone down.

A large part of the reason why I absolutely enjoyed this book also happens to be the comedic timings it has in delivering punchlines. They give a nice break for the really complex and serious crisis the story has.

Will I read the next book MJ Summers has? Absolutely! I wish it’s the next book already. Meanwhile, I’ll try to read some of her past works and know I’ll be shelving on a trusty author I know I’ll always re-read.

Dive into this goodness by getting a copy from Amazon here.

Book Review, Favorite, Recommendations

[REVIEW] Promdi Heart

5/5 stars LET’S GO TRAVEL ❤
promdi heart

Promdi Heart

Take a quick tour of the Philippines with six hometown love stories.

Visit Jimenez, Misamis Occidental where a priest might just set you up with a man whose dimples are to die for.

Visit Silay, Negros Occidental and get on a horse alongside hunky, hazel-eyed Negrense royalty.

Visit Kalibo, Aklan and find yourself in the arms of a cute drummer boy who just happens to be your kuya’s BFF.

Visit Hagonoy, Bulacan and spend All Saint’s Day next to a distracting boy who promises to write you a song.

Visit Vigan, Ilocos Sur and meet the hot man you used to bully when he was a shy, chubby boy.

Visit Pundaquit, Zambales and find love in a bronzed fisherman whose eyes hold depths you’ll want to explore.

REVIEW

I’m not really great with anthologies. I always feel uprooted whenever a short story ends and disconcerted when a new one begins. But to my surprise, Promdi Heart delivers beautifully in how I find closure and a thirst to learn more about the people and the places in the stories.

The collection starts with C.P. Santi’s Only the Beginning. As a fledgling #romanceclass reader, I am so happy to discover C.P. Santi’s works because they’re just my cup of tea. And her short story about bad first impressions and the richness of a culture a small town in Mindanao has given me the itch to travel to Jimenez, Misamis Occidental. The town was painted with a rustic touch but a sincerity in its people that perfectly complements the story-telling.

Ines Bautista-Yao’s Letters to a Boy is as surprising as this whole collection is. Again, I’m a little impatient for this style of stories–the one told in letters and missives although they are really fascinating. But god, I adored every letter. I’ve been to Silay and Bacolod recently and reading about the rich Negrense culture, with its quaint and picturesque town and the kind people who yes, they almost have a circle of the socially affluent family which borderlines royalty, is just so enticing. This is the royalty trope I’ve been wanting to read. I’d read more of this, to be honest.

Drummer Boy by Chris Mariano is the the big-brother’s-bestfriend trope that everyone loves. I love it even better because it managed to show us the preps and the hows in the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan. I don’t think anyone past elementary school has not heard of this festival, and to be honest, I wasn’t really sure what happens at the festival. Street dancing, maybe. But this story showed how dedicated some families are in keeping up with this tradition.  Sometimes, we may feel trapped and weak against the expectations of continuing traditions, but here is a perspective of acknowledging this fact and realizing how important some obligations are. And I really liked that fresh perspective.

We can skip Jay E. Tria’s One Certain Day because I hate Son’s ill timing and I just want to hug Alice. I mean, I live in Guiguinto, which is just three towns away from Hagonoy. I can go to Alice’s house and hug the shit out of her and just glare at Son’s nearby house. I’ll even rat him out to his parents. I hated Son here. I feel so invested in this story and god, the feelings are delivered. I feel so raw after reading it. There better be a book for Son, Jay!

Georgette Gonzales’s Once Upon a Bully was very uncomfortable to read and only because of the elementary kid bullying another kid gig. It was a great read that showcased the beauty of Ilocano language and dishes that made me want to go to Vigan! It also made me want to look for long-lost elementary classmates, in case anyone aged fine. (I do have a story to tell here, but maybe for a personal post some other time.) Because of this story, I was inspired to schedule a trip to Vigan before I leave the Philippines.

Lastly, Agay Llanera’s Back to the Stars was a nice ending for the book collection. I love how the main character has transformed into a cynical Manila girl who realizes just how much she’s changed and not for the better. I really loved the full circle feel of it – from her struggles as a girl from the (promdi, in its every sense) province and coming back as a Manila Girl. You will never really get a sense of happiness when you keep on measuring yourself against the standards of society.

Leah felt ill-fitted in Manila as a promdi girl, and coming back to Pundaquit, she is haunted by this outcast status. In the short time of her visit (and the story’s length), we find Leah finding peace about her roots, her place, and where she’ll be in the future. Wency is a precious cinnamon roll, so sincere and genuine. I love him. And I love how his sincerity and patience were exactly what Leah needed.

Overall, Promdi Heart is a nicely curated anthology of stories that will make you appreciate the diversity of Philippine Cultures. I love how this collection offers a view of the Philippines that we don’t see much and still offer fresh stories that needed to be told. To be honest, I was a little wary about how this collection would turn out. I tried reading this one book set in somewhere in the Philippines and I was just horribly disappointed at how detached and cookie cutter the plot was. I was afraid that the novel characteristics of the places would be compromised for the plot and I am so happy it didn’t go that way for this collection.

BUY LINKS

Get this book from Amazon at $2.99!

Did you love this anthology as much as I did? Leave them a review on their Goodreads page!

Book Review, Favorite, Recommendations

[REVIEW] Better at Weddings Then You by Mina V. Esguerra

5/5 stars I LOVED IT SO MUCH YES

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Better at Weddings Than You

Mina V. Esguerra

BLURB

Daphne Cardenas is the best wedding planner around, and everyone knows it. That’s why her friend Greg hired her as an emergency replacement one month before his wedding—because he fears his fiancée Helen is falling for the guy they first hired for the job.

Aaron Trinidad is new to the wedding industry but years of conference planning and loads of charm make him good at it. Really good at it. Planning the wedding of his friend Helen should be easy, and it is. To be unceremoniously fired isn’t good for his new career, but the chance to learn from the best might be the silver lining.

Aaron and Daphne have chemistry, but there’s history with Helen that at least one other person considers a threat. Who’s the planner who can fix this impending disaster?

(Part of the Chic Manila series, but can be read as a standalone.)

REVIEW

As a firm believer of Weddings Are Things I Should Not Be Thinking About Anytime Soon, I was not too excited to learn that this new book from Mina Esguerra would be about Wedding Planners. But then, I met Aaron Trinidad.

Hot–scorching hot, rather–tatted and long-haired Aaron Trinidad. And I’m like, yes yES WHERE DO I SIGN UP?

I’m not really sure if this still falls under New Adult. Both Daphne and Aaron are in their 30’s, having some parts of life figured out but still unsure on a lot of things. I enjoyed reading their story a lot maybe because there is some sense of relief I found in reading how, despite the difficulty of maintaining a career, they were doing as best as they could.

Of course, I am only reading this from the perspective of a twenty-something still lost in life, so I could only imagine the exhaustion they have from trying various things in life. And you can really sense this exhaustion and cynicism from Daphne.

Having gone through a lot of failed setups and blind dates and despite her success in her career, Daphne views the world in cold, unfeeling eyes. And she knows it. She knows how tired she was from the dating scene that she stopped it altogether, as also shown by the metaphor of giving up pork but that’s a topic for later.

It’s very ironic to see a wedding planner finding love, or the search for it, almost bland and tiresome. And from her own words, yes she makes happily ever afters happen but it doesn’t even occur to her to apply it to herself.

But. It also makes sense. I can almost imagine just how fed up she was that she had to give it all up together. Again, I still have the naivety of a twenty-something reading this book. And this is such an eye-opener for me. How yes, at some point we do get to give up on some things in life. How we stop caring altogether and I can imagine how liberating that must be.

I especially loved the part where Daphne was talking to Aaron how unfair the double standard for men and women are when it comes to dating and settling down. Yes, it really is unfair. And pair that up with how disappointed Daphne was with her choices in the Dating Game and suddenly, things get a little too real and dark.

As a woman, we still get this societal expectation and I guess at some point, we still carry the guilt of pleasure and satisfaction that is exacerbated by the expectations of a society who believes in institutions that are intrinsically repressive. Daphne mentions at one part of the book how weddings are not really for everyone, that it’s great if you’re doing it because you want it for the things it says it stands for — love, loyalty, trust. But not everyone goes into it with that same level-headedness.

And that’s true. Going back to society’s expectations on women, we have always been led to believe that sex and pleasure can only be accessed after the matrimony of marriage. Kudos to you if you subscribe to this belief wholeheartedly. But on the other side of the coin, we humans are sexual beings. As much as men have needs, we females also have them. And it needs to be acknowledged more often.

I’m not sure if I am reading too much on this but I guess how Aaron was almost the perfect partner for Daphne was a little disconcerting. It was great for Daphne. Aaron was a most accomplished lover by great lengths. But I guess the irony in here is that no one, aside from the two of them, thought that they’d be together, let alone hook up. Even weirder how some of Daphne’s friends seemed to think she was slumming it down with Aaron when in her experience, it was winning a jackpot.

And I guess the point I am making here is, to echo the book, a relationship is really just you and your partner. Not anyone or everyone else. At the end of the day, it’s just you two. I kept on thinking about A Midsummer Night’s Dream while reading this, because of the clusterfuck of everything. And I guess there is some truth from it. There’s a lot of mess and drama from Greg and Helen’s end that seems to exist less in Daphne and Aaron’s. If they are foils to each other’s couples, then wow. That is some great writing!!! But of course, Mina has always written great stories. ❤

I feel like this book is just the best yet. I’ve only read about three or four books of hers, but this book is just flawlessly written and has a depth that was as entertaining and enjoyable as it was real and woke AF. That perfect weaving of a story with the right amount of smut is just so on point on this book. I loved every second I spent reading this book.

BUY LINKS

Buy on Amazon
$1.99 pre-order price until April 30
$2.99 starting May 1
Free on Kindle Unlimited

 

Have you read this book yet? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below! You may also post your own review at this book’s Goodreads page.

 
Book Review, Favorite, Recommendations

[REVIEW] Feels Like Summer by Six de los Reyes

5/5 stars! YES I’D LIVE IN THIS BOOK IF I COULD

feels like summer cover only

FEELS LIKE SUMMER (Summer Storm #2)

SIX DE LOS REYES

Release date: April 12, 2017

In print: April 30, 2017

Blurb

Five-minute girlfriend. This is what Jett signs up for when she meets Adrian and his band Arabella at beach music festival Summer Storm. One kiss and the attraction is too electric to ignore, but Jett has no room for love and Adrian is Mr. Relationship who’s getting over his recent breakup. The solution? Keep it simple. Keep it casual. For three months (that’s the rule about breakups, right?), Jett helps Adrian move on and Adrian shows up on Jett’s bed whenever she wants.

Then the three months are up and neither of them are in a hurry to be the first to leave. Does Jett walk away from a potential disaster or does she finally let someone into her closely-guarded heart?

REVIEW

Coming from Sounds Like Summer, I wasn’t expecting Feels Like Summer to be this wild and youthful. Sounds Like Summer might be the trip that will get you to the music festival but Feels Lile Summer is the main act, the festival itself. It has all the music, the boys, drama, and emotions are just amped up to the highest. I frankly can’t describe it better than that. Everything just makes me want to dive headfirst into the music scene!

Let’s start with Jett. I feel like Six’s MCs are the cool female characters I could only aspire to be but at the moment, I am not. They always start cool as cucumbers that cannot be touched by anything the mortal realm could produce and the LIs are just a little more emotionally liberated, which is always fun.

Jett was an experience. Being in her headspace is as punishing as it is liberating. There are so much guilt and suffering in that girl that I can understand and relate with. She comes into the scene cool and detached because she tries so hard to separate herself from her emotions. Her upbringing and her past are her baggage that she embraces tightly. And you can’t really fault her for it. Not when there is a Ziggy lurking and haunting her at every accomplishment she has.

Adrian. God, where do I even get an Adrian? His bandmates all describe him as intense, and yes, I could see that at the tail-end of the book. But from the first chapter onwards, he was just a big marshmallow, a precious cinnamon roll that must be protected at all times for me. (Maybe Franklin, too. But that boy… Franklin deserves his own air time. I mean, let’s be real here.)

The fact that he never really wavered from loving Jett was really the thing that sucks me in. Partner that fact with how hard Jett tries to overcome her own demons and we’ve got ourselves a perfect blend of New Adult romance book that I wanted to party all night long with.

To be honest, there is a lot going on in this book and that’s what you want to read. Jett’s life is as dynamic and colorful as could be. And every character shines and feels as real as can be. It felt really heavy to finish the book because it is dense and heavy–from the plot, the premise, the backstories of the characters, their personalities. Yes, I am here for all these things and I could not wish for anything more but maybe a continuation? A series. I want to be a part of these characters’ lives, that’s how much I loved this book.

Buy Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XRD7Q7G

Print (PH only): bit.ly/summerstorm2

 

Add it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34609563-feels-like-summer

Cover design by: Porcupine Strongwill

Follow Six de los Reyes:

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Wattpad: @sixdlr

Author Bio

Six de los Reyes has been reading and making up stories for as far as she can remember. In fifth grade, she learned to write about the stories she wanted to read. As a pretend grownup, she writes contemporary romance novels. Her day job doing science has something to do with being a part-time mermaid and a part-time labrat. She currently lives next to the sea.

Other works include:

Just for the Record

Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions

Sounds Like Summer

Anthology Contributions:

After the Moment, Taking Chances (#BuqoYA)

Nico Saves Christmas, Make My Wish Come True

Ocean Eyes, Summer Crush

Cover Reveal, Favorite, Recommendations

[Cover Reveal] Better at Weddings Than You by Mina V. Esguerra

BAWTY.kindle.preview

Look at this gorgeous cover!

I’m not sure if you guys are following me on my twitter account (@adgiecakes), but lately, I’ve been trying this thing called “livetweeting.” (That makes me sound like an old lady heh.) Basically, I just update the world the things that pop into my brain as I read. This weekend, I plowed through 3 (THREE!!) ARCs of upcoming #romanceclass books, which is just… *sigh* is the LAYF.

Better at Weddings Than You is the ninth book in Mina V. Esguerra’s Chic Manila series. (But it can be read as a standalone!) I was introduced to Mina through a class requiring us to read one of her books in this series. It’s almost like I’ve reached full circle!

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God, right after reading a preview of this book in Wattpad a few months back made me just want to get my hands on it! The first few chapters posted were enough to hook me right into the intriguing and dramatic story of Daphne and Aaron! (And it was super dramatic! Like, I’d say teleserye-level dramatic. It was so fun!)

BAWTY.fullcover.preview

Better at Weddings Than You comes out on April 15 on Amazon. If you live in the Philippines, I highly suggest you take advantage of your geographical benefit and get the paperback version of this out April/May. I mean, look at that spread! I’m just loving the purple and the on-point photograph. This cover really nailed it. Pre-order links down below!

Pre-Order Here

Buy on Amazon: bit.ly/chicmanila9
$1.99 pre-order price until April 30
$2.99 starting May 1
Free on Kindle Unlimited
Book Design by Tania Arpa
Photography by Alexandra Urrea
Book Review, Recommendations

[REVIEW] Waiting in the Wings by Tara Frejas

cover-witw-front

Waiting in the Wings
by Tara Frejas

Rating: 5/5

Genre: Romance / NA / Contemporary
Release Date: February 21, 2017

SYNOPSIS:

At twenty-three, theatre actress Erin Javier has yet to fall in love or kiss a boy offstage, away from the klieg lights. She is the perfect leading lady—whose heart men would fight for, win, and protect—unfortunately, only until the curtains fall and the lights go down. In real life, Erin is a certified NBSB whose heart has been hoping for a song to dance to for quite some time.

But when two (two!) men enter from stage left and right, Erin is confused. Who deserves to take center stage in her heart—Mr. Theatre Royalty whose attention and displays of affection make her pulse race, or a good friend whose steady support has helped steer her to success and fulfill her dream?

BUY IT ON AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WV7BPJ4

ADD IT ON GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34102210-waiting-in-the-wings

BOOK REVIEW

Waiting in the Wings serves up HEA in spades. It’s a fun and happy read that packs a punch of happy feelings as things progress. Of course, along the way, I can’t say the same. One of the things floating in my head while reading it was, this is one character away from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and as messy (in love) as it.

One of the things I love about Waiting in the Wings is how we see both MC and LI struggling to find things in life: love and career, respectively. While there are books who treat the LI as human as the MC, a lot of books still set up the LI as a perfect piece of flesh, meant to be desired and admired throughout the text.

Waiting in the Wings brings a refreshing LI in Ramon Figueroa’s character. We rarely see an LI owning up to self-esteem issues that usually plague the MC, but here’s the thing: flaws create character and depth that makes your LI, or any character for that matter, more dynamic. Dynamic characters are always a good thing. It endears the readers to them and creates for a more complex book.

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I just love how we see Ramon try and build himself up. I especially love how the book portrays him as someone who would do things to better himself. We don’t see much of that in books. Ultimately, my reading of Waiting in the Wings is a coming-of-age of both main characters, overcoming obstacles and growing together. I especially love how they both figured out things for themselves together.

Erin Javier is the cutest character I have read so far. She is this cuddly ball of sunshine, and in Ramon’s words, people just can’t help but fall in love with her. And it’s true. At her very core, you know Erin just wants to help out. But for me, her character begins her development a little earlier than Ramon. With her conscious decision to wait in the wings (see what I did there?), to allow herself to experience the things she usually portrays on stage, seemed not quite an easy decision to make for someone as giving and kind as Erin.

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But, this kindness of her is also her character flaw. She tries so hard to be there for and to help Ramon but it does more harm than help. But you have to give it to her, her grand gesture was one of the most beautiful Grand Gestures I’ve ever read—realistic, not too gaudy, artistic, and fits their characters just right. I am so down with that kind of Grand Gesture.witw-quote3

Should I talk about Pio? Okay, I guess so. Pio Alvez is the foil to Ramon’s character: he is confident, his career is stable, and there is just a deep rooted sense of self with him. He is the obvious, no-brainer choice for Erin’s LI if you think about it logically. But Pio is also the shiny boy you’d just love to stare at. I feel like Pio could be a great character but this is not his book yet and he is emotionally unavailable for Erin. His schedule and all his rules (baggage, tbh) make him just unfit for this book. It’s not his turn to grow yet. He is a prime character for another MC, though, but not for Erin.

There are lots of reasons to read this book: the characters, the growth, the story. And to add more reasons, read it for the intertextual material. There are wonderful songs penned for this book that snatches my heart and I can only just imagine if they were really singing in real life for a stage adaptation. I can’t even wrap my head around writing songs, for me that’s such a big task. Like writing poetry.

I just love this book to pieces. Ramon is a great character to fall in love with, and yes, I really identify with Erin’s affectionate character (hehe). And hey, I just realized now how ripe Pio is for a celebrity romance story! Heh. I hope we see a sequel with Pio.