Monthly Archives: March 2014

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

I first heard of Lauren Morrill in the blogosphere when her debut novel, Meant To Be, was released. People had been raving about that book, so I ended up giving in to the bandwagon and bought a copy for myself. There was no doubt that I greatly enjoyed Meant To Be that I decided to include Lauren Morrill in my auto-buy authors list. Hence, when her recent book, Being Sloane Jacobs, came out, I didn’t hesitate to immediately buy a copy from The Book Depository.

Here’s the plot description from the jacket cover of the book:

Being Sloane Jacobs coverMeet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice-hockey player who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.

At a glance, this book has similar attributes to the plots of The Parent Trap and Disney Channel Original Movie’s Go Figure (if you’re familiar with it), but as I read further along the book, Being Sloane Jacobs is so much better than the two mentioned movies combined. The storyline may seem far-fetched as two persons coincidentally share the same name and look almost alike, but I’m still entertained with these characters’ mischievous acts and how they react to their surroundings, and eventually, find love unexpectedly.

At the beginning, the book already presents us with the conflicts being faced by the protagonists which then lead us to the realization of their wish to become someone else. Any person could relate to them because undoubtedly, at one point or certain points in our lives, we wished to be in someone else’s shoes. Lauren Morrill provides us with the literal illustration of that and how this affects the protagonists is up to us to find out. Being Sloane Jacobs is definitely a realistic narration of two teenagers burdened by something they’re hesitant to face and as most of us do, they try to escape it the easiest way possible.

A figure-skater becoming an ice-hockey player and vice versa is quite unimaginable to pursue. Two different sports consisting of different sets of rules and then playing something your body’s not meant to do would certainly create chaos. But that does not stop Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon from their plans. I’m actually curious how each of them would adapt. Both of them have distinct personalities and entering each other’s world would force them to become someone they’re not. However, throughout the process, I realize that ice-hockey and figure-skating are not entirely different from one another.

Both sports, despite having their own sets of rules and game plays, enhance the skills of the players, depending on which form. Technicality aside, what I really notice is that Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon encounter tensions between them and their intimidating peers. For Sloane Emily, there’s Melody, and for Sloane Devon, there’s Ivy. It’s fun to read how both Sloane Jacobses handle the situation and face the challenge. Lauren Morrill is able to portray the stereotypical characteristics of a figure-skater (through Ivy) as well an ice-hockey player (through Melody), but at the same time, destroys the preconceived notions about the players through Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon. The Sloane Jacobses prove to be different and their characters have turned out to be likeable. Most of all, the budding relationship they have with their respective love interests is what I look forward to reading after I turn every page. It’s cute, fresh, and definitely swoon-worthy.

These two Sloane Jacobses are two persons we could look up to. Although coming from different social classes, Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon still encounter family issues not unusual to us (and could happen to any of us). The weight of their problems is not that simple and yet, they are able to slowly handle them maturely. Moreover, their planned switch eventually does them good as they gradually recognize who they truly are as a person and what they actually want in life. Overall, Being Sloane Jacobs does not disappoint. I enjoyed the book from the beginning all the way to the end. I finished the book in three days – that’s how entertained I am. Lauren Morrill surely narrates the story well and I’ll definitely look forward to her future books.


It Felt Like A Kiss by Sarra Manning

Do you know that feeling when your mood at a certain moment affects the book genre you want to read? Well, that happens to me a lot. Despite it being a bestselling book or something people have been raving about, my mood still factors in. So after reading Playing Autumn, I’m still in the mood for another chick lit. Hence, I decided to read It Felt Like A Kiss.

Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:

It Felt Like A Kiss coverEllie Cohen is living her dream. A great job at an exclusive Mayfair art gallery, loyal mates, loving family, and really, really good hair. Well, there’s the famous rock-star father who refuses to acknowledge her and a succession of ‘challenging’ boyfriends, but nobody’s perfect.

But when a vengeful ex sells Ellie out to the press, she suddenly finds herself fighting to keep her job, her reputation and her sanity. Then David Gold – handsome, charming but ruthlessly ambitious – is sent in to manage the media crisis . . . and Ellie.

David thinks she’s a gold-digger and Ellie thinks he’s a shark in a Savile Row suit, so it’s just as well that falling in love is the last thing on their minds . . .

When it comes to chick lits, I always adore the UK book cover designs. They may seem girly with all the sparkly-like or flowery designs and the choice of background colors, but what I love most is the inclusion of a character or two in the form of silhouette. Like this one! I don’t know why, but somehow, the silhouettes project a romantic feel about the book. And it makes me want to pick up the book more.

The storyline of It Felt Like A Kiss is not something rare or unusual to us. In the world of media and journalism, this happens a lot, especially to celebrities and artists. Journalists and paparazzi would look for ways to discover scandalous information about someone which could greatly affect the career, reputation, sanity, and dignity of that person. Harsh, but true. Yet despite my familiarity on this aspect, I’m still curious how Ellie would cope as she becomes the victim of media scandal, and also, how David Gold would fit into the picture and become Ellie’s love interest.

For a change, it’s nice to read about characters with different career paths. Ellie works in an art gallery and any reader could see that Ellie is passionate about her work and her enthusiasm towards arts is evident. The way Sarra Manning describes Ellie’s profession proves that she has fair knowledge and background in arts, which is quite impressive. Moreover, Sarra Manning’s works are not only limited to that area, as she has also portrayed characters that are into rock music. Even in her portrayal of David Gold as a lawyer is realistically convincing. The usage of technical terms lets me wonder if that’s how lawyers actually converse with others in reality.

At the beginning, I kind of immediately sympathize withEllie with regards to her love life. She seems to be always falling for the wrong guys and then comes the most unfortunate event of her life as her privacy has been compromised. Little does she know that this turn of event would be a blessing in disguise. I have actually adored Ellie immediately from the start. I may not have experienced what she goes through, but there are moments when I could see myself in her. I understand her need to always be in control and her OC-ness is simply justifiable for me. Well, it takes one to know one. LOL.

Moving on, the first portion of the book has started slow, but the story is able to pick itself up towards the middle. In between the present time, the story of Ari in her point of view is inserted to help readers understand what actually happened before Ellie is born and how everything started. The mystery begins to unravel itself and would leave different impressions on the characters and reactions from the readers. The saying, “First impressions don’t last.” best explains it. While reading this book, I have my fair share of confusion, anger, hurt, relief, contentment, and all other feelings Ellie has felt throughout the process. All that have happened are so realistic that I could find myself laughing silently or at times rolling my eyes.

It Felt Like A Kiss is the first Sarra Manning book I’ve read and I’m glad I decided to pick this up. The story keeps me entertained and the writing is simply animated and full of life. It’s written in great detail and the emotions portrayed can easily be felt by the readers. Aside from the book giving me a backdoor pass to the “dirty” world of media, reading about David Gold and Ellie’s relationship development is what I look forward to the most as I come to be so invested in their relationship. For a very thin person to be portrayed, David Gold is still worth swooning for. I highly enjoyed this book and I’ll certainly anticipate Sarra Manning’s future chick lit romance books.

Playing Autumn by Mina V. Esguerra

Playing Autumn is part of the Rock Gods of Romance bundle. I was kind of hesitant to buy the whole set and just read Mina’s story. So I silently hoped that Mina would release a solo edition of her work. Fortunately, the day came when she announced the limited paperback edition release of Playing Autumn for a limited number of copies. And, I was lucky enough to be one of those who bought a copy! Yey!

Here’s the summary from the back cover of the book:

Playing Autumn cover“Hot Piano Girl” Haley and rock star Oliver officially meet on a plane ride back to Houston, where they’re both serving as mentors at a music festival for young artists. Unofficially? Haley has been a fan of Oliver’s since she was ten (and he was twelve), when she saw him on a TV talent show. And Oliver’s had her in his head since he saw her performing covers of his songs online. His career has hit rock bottom, and hers has stalled before even starting.

Will an autumn weekend in their hometown give them exactly what they need?

This is the first Mina V. Esguerra book I read that’s not entirely set in Manila. We’re not just dealing with ordinary characters here, or even the familiar settings we read in her other books. For a change, Playing Autumn is about musicians! I’m quite curious how Mina would utilize this in her storyline and make it unique.

Oliver and Haley are both talented musicians, yet they choose different paths, affecting their lives for good and bad. Oliver is someone we often see in showbiz and music industries. Discovered as someone with potential at such a young age, Oliver has chosen a life he thinks would be easy. His road to fame has earned him quite a lot of fans, including Haley, but he doesn’t know the pressures and demands that await him. Haley, on the other hand, has been a loyal fan of Oliver, but her amazing skills in playing the piano and singing does not convince her to follow Oliver’s footsteps. She’s already satisfied with doing YouTube videos consisting of piano tutorials and singing (while playing piano) covers.

Oliver and Haley’s lives are not vastly different from the reality. We’ve seen people and celebrities who are like Oliver, and there are those who simply enjoy doing covers in YouTube. It’s quite amazing to witness people who showcase their God-given talents that make one hope and wish to become like them. As a frustrated pianist and singer, I definitely adore those who are musically-inclined. I’m really impressed that Mina V. Esguerra is able to portray characters with expertise in this aspect. It’s as if Mina is a musician herself!

As all of you may well know, the music is just the tip of an iceberg. I love the fact that it’s what connected Oliver and Haley. From being friends, eventually, their sexual attraction cannot be ignored. As I go further along the book, it’s evident that their relationship might just end up as a fling. I don’t want that to happen actually. In just a short span of time, I have come to love Oliver and Haley. The alternating point of views help me get to know them more and find out what’s bugging in their minds.

I guess through the music festival they attended and mentored, both Oliver and Haley manage to reflect and re-evaluate the things important in their lives. Despite being a short novella, Playing Autumn is a fun read. I’m actually satisfied with how the story ends. Moreover, I now fully understand why the novella is entitled Playing Autumn. It’s sweet and cute. Undoubtedly, fans of Mina V. Esguerra will love this book. They will get to see a different side of her with how she comes up with this story.

In Over Her Head by Anne Plaza

The first time I listened to The Five by Five Podcast, I’ve been tuning to it ever since. Most of the time, it features and interviews local authors and bloggers and Anne Plaza was the guest in one of the podcast episodes. I was fortunate enough to win a giveaway in that episode and her debut novella, In Over Her Head, was one of the things I got.

Here’s the plot description from Goodreads:

In Over Her Head coverAll she wants is to get even…

Erika Apostol’s quiet and unassuming life gets disrupted when she learns that Richard Javier, the very same person who broke her heart many years ago, is now back in the country. Her world is turned upside down as old feelings she thought were buried resurface to haunt her once more.

Determined to give Richard a dose of his own medicine, Erika finds herself involved in an outrageous plan devised by her friends. They enlist the help of Jerome Gonzales, an attractive and charismatic DJ (with a playboy reputation), to pose as her significant other.

As the plan goes in full swing, Erika discovers Richard’s jealous side, and that there’s something more to Jerome than meets the eye. Will this grand charade work out the way it should, or will she be left with nothing in the end?

I received this book as an e-book copy. It’s been a while since I read an e-book, so I’m quite excited to read on my iPad again. But don’t get me wrong, I still prefer physical books over the electronic ones as I get to feel and smell its pages. Anyway, moving on, I really notice that more aspiring writers are emerging in our country nowadays. I’m not used to reading Philippine literature before, unless it’s a required school reading, but in terms of contemporary romance/chick lit, or young adult or new adult, more books under these genres are being published in the recent years. I’m glad that with the availability of social media and the apparent support of Filipino bloggers to local authors, the authors’ works get to have more exposure in the society.

Sets in Manila, In Over Her Head centers on Erika’s life, especially her love life, from being heartbroken to finding love once again. Based on the premise of the book, the concept may seem like your typical romance story, but the whole context of the novella still sets Anne Plaza’s story apart from the others.

Right at the beginning, I can already feel that I’ll love Erika’s character. She’s a pro long-term relationship, so that’s a plus for her. She’s also passionate about her work and shows to be independent while still leaving room for flaws and vulnerabilities, despite her denials. Her characterization definitely exists in most of us. Hence, readers will easily relate to her. Aside from Erika, her barkada, as well as Jerome, prove to be worth for keeps. The bond they share is strong that their friendship lasts for ten years, and surely, will extend for years and years.

As a Manila-based girl, I’m actually having a lot of fun reading about some of the places mentioned in the novella. I’m quite familiar with the locations, if not the exact place, and it’s as if the characters could be living right out from the story. Moreover, with Erika’s career, readers could get a glimpse of how people work in a publishing company. The same goes with Lorra and Jerome’s jobs. To be honest, it’s entertaining to read stories set locally. One way or another, readers could witness some lifestyles of Filipinos different from their own. That’s what In Over Her Head does to me. I may lack in the aspect of social life, but by reading books, I don’t think I’m missing out on anything.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Anne Plaza’s In Over Her Head. For a debut novella, it’s quite good. I love her writing style and she also succeeds in describing the settings in detail. The storyline may be simple and light, but that does not stop me from reading it. At the end of the day, I can’t help but gush over Erika and her chosen man. This will definitely not be my last book to read that’s written by Anne Plaza.