Monthly Archives: September 2015

Plain Vanilla by Ines Bautista-Yao

I also won an ebook copy of this book via Buqo from a giveaway hosted by Ines Bautista-Yao during the #MoreLoveinPH Romance Writers of the Philippines Multi-Author Bash last June 27-28 on Facebook.

Here’s the synopsis:

Plain Vanilla coverDespite her quirky name and equally quirky family, 16-year-old Tempest Juan knows she’s ordinary. After reading a comment on Facebook which likened her to vanilla ice cream, Tempest decides she has to do something about it or be forever branded as plain, lukewarm, and well, vanilla. It doesn’t help that the comment was made by Paco Lorenzo, her cousin’s cute friend (no longer cute in her book!). When she happens upon a book of dares, she decides to attempt each one, no matter how hard. This is her personality at stake, after all. But somehow, Paco, the cause of all this, finds a way to be at every dare Tempest attempts, confusing her and forcing her to question what’s really going on inside her heart.

High school, crushes, prom – if these are what you’re looking for in a story, then Plain Vanilla is the right one for you. Having been introduced to the title, I don’t know what to expect. What does an ice cream flavor have to do with the story?

Being surrounded by family members full of energy and crazy ideas, Tempest stands out the most. Not because she has the craziest ideas of all, but merely the opposite. Right from the beginning, I can easily connect with her in terms of personality as I can see similarities between us. Aside from being an introvert, I also sense Tempest’s neatness and orderliness – a state of condition I always want my place to be in. But with a single comment from Paco, Tempest proves to become just like her family – “not boring”.

I like the analogy Ines Bautista-Yao creates between one’s personality and an ice cream flavor. Readers will eventually understand what plain vanilla means and why this pertains to Tempest. Reading this story pushes me to reminisce my high school life. Looking back, life in high school has its fair share of dramas and fun. I can totally understand the different cliques formed in school and the feeling of excitement over the highly-anticipated prom night.

Overall, Plain Vanilla is a short but interesting read that would make one look back to his/her teenage years. But apart from it being a cute love story, Plain Vanilla also centers on friendship, family, and building one’s self-esteem. I must say, kudos to Ines Bautista-Yao for nailing the ending scene. At the end of the day, not only does Tempest learn to be herself, but she also gets to have her sweetest prom night ever!


The Kitchen When It Sizzles by Chrissie Peria

I won an eBook copy of this book from a giveaway hosted by Chrissie Peria during the #MoreLoveinPH Romance Writers of the Philippines Multi-Author Bash last June 27-28 on Facebook. I enjoyed All’s Fair in Blog and War, so I had high hopes that I would enjoy this book as well.

Here’s the plot description from Goodreads:

The Kitchen When It Sizzles coverOlivia Nadal is an almost perfect girl with an almost perfect life. She has stunning good looks, an exciting job that pays well, men lining up to date her, and a homey little condo she calls her own. The only thing keeping her from perfection is her utter inability to cook.

Enter Nate Olivarez, a hotshot chef who’s filling in for Olivia’s cooking instructor. Sparks fly when they meet, but a fling with the visiting hottie is the last thing Olivia needs. But as things keep heating up in the kitchen, she can’t help but wonder. Can things work out between her and Nate? Or is the sizzle all set to fizzle?

The first few paragraphs already push me to understand how Olivia feels, given her position as an inexperienced cook. As a frustrated cook, I know what it feels like to be helpless around kitchen chores. But just like any other skills one desires to master, she needs a person with expertise in that area in order to hone her skill. And that’s when Nate comes into the picture. Right from the beginning, any reader can evidently see the undeniable attraction between the two characters.

What can I say? This book just raises Chrissie Peria into a whole new level. After being introduced to Nate and Olivia, I know I’ll love them and root for their relationship all the way to the end. Chrissie Peria portrays Nate’s character as a swoon-worthy gentleman, whom any lady would find themselves asking for more of in the world. Olivia, on the other hand, is being protective of her heart; thus, she’s unsure of what she truly wants. Call me a cliché, but I love the pacing of the budding relationship between Nate and Olivia. Despite the wild hormones emitting from their bodies, hence their obvious sexual tensions in the atmosphere whenever they’re together, I love the process of their getting-to-know stage through cooking.

Speaking of cooking, Chrissie Peria surely knows her way with food. The descriptive narration and detailed portrayal of the dishes – from preparation to the finished product – have me drooling and craving for more. I wouldn’t doubt if Chrissie Peria is said to be a great cook. I would love to try her dishes when opportunity comes. But just like any other love story, I tend to drool over the main guy character as well. The steamy love scenes in this book are just beyond my expectations! I’m surprised with Chrissie Peria’s boldness to narrate the steamy scenes in intricate details. And just like that, my hunger is satisfied more than I hoped for.

Overall, The Kitchen When It Sizzles impresses me in ways I cannot imagine. The book doesn’t disappoint. Yes, there are conflicts and struggles along the way, but the outcome of Nate and Olivia’s love story is worth retelling and remembering, and most of all, definitely swoon-worthy. Perhaps one of the reasons why I also love the book is due to the fact that I can easily empathize with the characters. I can feel their emotions and react to their actions. At the end of the day, this steamy, hot, sizzling book will leave readers fanning themselves and craving for more, be it food or simply Nate.