Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sola Musica by Chinggay Labrador, Mina V. Esguerra, Ines Bautista-Yao, and Marla Miniano

Sola Musica coverBook description from Goodreads:

A beach cove, a hot summer weekend… SOLA MUSICA is where everyone’s going, to enjoy the best new music from all over. Bestselling Filipino YA/chick lit authors Mina V. Esguerra, Marla Miniano, Chinggay Labrador, and Ines Bautista-Yao each tell a story about this festival: the music, the people, the hearts that will soar (or break).

Jack is the go-to behind-the-scenes guy for electronica group, Box Trap, and finds himself inexplicably drawn to the lead singer he’s tasked to work with. (SPECTATORS, Chinggay Labrador)

Georgia wants to finally talk to Ken about this “thing” that’s between them, but he seems intent on avoiding it, even if they’re spending a weekend at a music festival together. (GEORGIA LOST AND FOUND, Mina V. Esguerra)

Gem has the chance to make her dreams come true and perform at Sola Musica, with one crippling problem: all her talent left her six years ago when a boy kissed her. (A CAPTURED DREAM, Ines Bautista-Yao)

Natalie is about to watch her favorite band in the world, with a guy she’s crazy about—if only she can get through forced family bonding with her grandmother, her little brother, and her grandmother’s boyfriend. (BREAK, Marla Miniano)

A few weeks ago, Mina V. Esguerra hosted a giveaway for the Kindle copies of Sola Musica. I was fortunate enough to be one of the five lucky people to win a copy. Sola Musica is a compilation of four short stories, each written by different Filipino authors, centering its plot on the music festival.

I’ve never been to a music festival or any festival of some sort, so Ilooked forward to read this to get a glimpse of what the environment would be like during a festival. Each title tells a different story, consisting of mixture of characters with varied personalities. Despite sharing the common setting, each story is unique in itself as the characters play different roles, giving the readers a privilege to witness things at various angles. The compilation doesn’t just focus on the bands and what song they play, but Sola Musica helps readers see what ordinary people experience that makes this festival extraordinary to them.

Overall, Sola Musica is a light read and serves as an escape from the demands of our careers and work. I may not be a fan of festivals or a constant listener of music, but Sola Musica has opened my eyes to things I haven’t experience before. The stories help me gain an understanding on people who are into this aspect and on how they feel and react to these sorts of things. I may not have completely found connection or become invested in the characters, but I pretty much enjoyed reading each story. If ever Filipino authors come up with another themed compilation like Sola Musica, I would look forward to read it.

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Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park

I have genuinely enjoyed Flat-Out Love as well as its companion novel, Flat-Out Matt. Ever since then, Jessica Park has been on my auto-buy author list. It was a surprise that Jessica Park wrote a sequel and that it now centered on Celeste. I immediately ordered the book once it became available on The Book Depository.

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

Flat-Out Celeste coverFor high-school senior Celeste Watkins, every day is a brutal test of bravery. And Celeste is scared. Alienated because she’s too smart, her speech too affected, her social skills too far outside the norm, she seems to have no choice but to retreat into isolation.

But college could set her free, right? If she can make it through this grueling senior year, then maybe.If she can just find that one person to throw her a lifeline, then maybe, just maybe.

Justin Milano, a college sophomore with his own set of quirks, could be that person to pull her from a world of solitude. To rescue her—that is, if she’ll let him.

Together, they may work. Together, they may save each other. And together they may also save another couple—two people Celeste knows are absolutely, positively flat-out in love.

I’ve first known Celeste in Flat-Out Love and her character is portrayed as someone with a distinct personality.I find her a bit peculiar, but at the same time, I’m amused by her intellect and highly-advanced speech. I’m intrigued by the plotline Jessica Park creates with Celeste as the main character. After knowing that the story sets a few years after Flat-Out Love, with Celeste growing up to become a lady and surprisingly, falling in love, I know in my heart that I definitely need to buy a copy of my own.

Right from the moment I open the book and begin reading, I have immediately taken my liking on Celeste. Having witnessed how she has grown and matured, I feel like a proud sister and friend. From Flat-Out Love, Celeste starts to experience first-hand what other normal teenagers go through. But in her case, it’s more of a special one. Her naivety and outspokenness make everything worthwhile to read. I’m highly entertained with her reactions and how she handles the situation. It’s evident that Jessica Park demonstrates Celeste’s position as an outcast and her struggle to be part of something she wants to belong. It’s been a rollercoaster ride for Celeste, but then comes Justin, this energetic boy who gradually adds more color to Celeste’s life. I love how their friendship develops and their strong chemistry is something not to be ignored easily. I, too, have slowly fallen in love with these two characters, investing in them more than I expected. Jessica Park surely succeeds in making these two awkward people in awkward situations not too awkward at all!

Throughout the book, I am able to witness the change in Celeste. She has been the most dynamic character of all. With the help of the minor characters, as well as Justin, Celeste finally understands her purpose and mission. I’m impressed that Jessica Park tries to break away from the social norm through her characters.Moreover, it’s also nice to see old characters from Flat-Out Love appear in this book and how Celeste helps regain our faith in them.

Overall, there’s not a single thing I did not enjoy in Flat-Out Celeste. I’ve been entertained page after page, from beginning all the way to the end. The authenticity of the characterization and the uniqueness of the story make this book stand out and become memorable to the readers. This book definitely gives me the feels – from happiness, laughter, sadness, to giddiness. I couldn’t get enough of Justin and Celeste. Their extraordinary relationship has lured me into deep reading and kept me glued to the seat. Not only does this book let readers witness a special love story of Celeste, but it also shows the struggles most teenagers encounter and the challenges faced towards self-discovery. Fans of Flat-Out Love will undoubtedly love Flat-Out Celeste. If Justin and Celeste ever happen to exist in real life, I would certainly want to meet them.