September 23, 2017

Wicked Review: Don't Tell Anyone (Literary Smut) by Shakira Sison and Ian Rosales Casocot

Published: 2017
Format Acquired: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, LGBT

Order at Anvil Publishing: Don't Tell Anyone or go to any National Bookstore branch.

If sex remains taboo in the Philippines, gay and lesbian sex is still even more unspoken. “How do you do it?” is still the most common question queer Pinoys get. Even after that question is answered, there is still the popular notion that only heterosexual sex is ‘the real thing,’ and anything else is just a deviation or an attempt to replicate the male-female dynamic of human contact.
This book makes up for this history of invalidation. An unprecedented dirty dozen, Sison’s and Casocot’s stories are direct and unflinching. They make no qualms or apologies about the nature of sex between two men or between two women. They explore courtship and contact between same-gender partners with humor, hesitation and obsession, and eventually take the reader with them as they reel from heartbreak.
Whether you consider straight sex ‘the real thing,’ or are among the LGBTQ community that is hungry for a true account of Filipino gay and lesbian loving, one thing this collection and its characters do, over and over without exhaustion, is to keep on trying.

Right off the bat, this book is amazing, I have never read anything like this obviously because this is the first LGBT literature I have read. Really, this is amazing.
I have no qualms reading smut because duh, fangirl since 2009. I have long been exposed to smut. Literary smut that is. You know, stories that depict sex as something beautiful almost. Sex is where two people come together, either to fall in love or not. Both authors have tackled writing LGBT sex as beautiful as heterosexual sex.
I have been reading gay smut stories since I have been exposed to the world of fan fiction. If I'm not reading books, I'm reading fan fiction. But, gay fan fiction is different from literature. Literature is more raw. It digs through your heart and mind. After that, it fills you up with so much emotion that you kind of overflow.
This book is no nonsense, straight up gay and lesbian erotica. This book should be handled with caution yet with an open mind. I mean, come on. the LGBT community have sex just like heterosexuals, albeit it looks different. But yes, they can have sex. They can achieve climax as well. Damn right, they are the sexiest people I have ever come across with. Not only do they have sexy bodies to begin with, but their minds are sexy as hell. This book is literally in your face. Like, really you will devour this in one sitting. Or maybe sitting on top of someone, I don't know. Hah. Innuendo right there.

Reading this book didn't change my sexual orientation as a heterosexual. Reading this book made me understand the struggles and hardships of the LGBT community when they fall in and out of love. They suffer so much just like we do. Reading this book makes me want to study about gender and all the difference that there is about it. Just so I could understand that there's more to it than just being called a man or a woman.

This is just a beautiful piece of literature that I hope some day a lot of people would get to read more #LGBTLit. I hope this isn't the last from either of these authors. I hope more people follow suit as well. This book is funny, sexy, witty, sad, and just downright amazing. Just buy it now.

Shakira Sison has won two Palanca Awards in the essay category. As a columnist for Rappler, she has also been honored with a St. Scholastica's College Hildegarde Award and a Lasallian Scholarium Award. She was a fellow for Poetry in English in the University of the Philippines' National Writer's Workshop in 1999. Shakira holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of the Philippines Los Banos and works in finance in New York City.

Ian Rosales Casocot is a novelist, and teacher film, literature, and creative writing in Siliman University in Dumaguete City. He has won the Palanca Award several times and has also won the NVM Gonzales Prize, a PBBY Salanga Writer's Prize and the Fullybooked/Neil Gaiman Philippine Graphic/Fiction Prize for his fiction. He is currently the coordinator of the Edilberto and Edith Tiempo Creative Writing Center.

June 24, 2017

#WickedAdventures: Conquering Mr. Oro

Hi, people. If you've known me for a long time, you probably know that 1) I was born in the city and 2) I have never in my life climbed a mountain. But everything changed last June 17. My lovely office mates tagged me along, with zero sleep and zero training whatsoever, to climb Mt. Oro in Rodriguez, Rizal. According to Wikipedia, Mt. Oro is 340 meters above sea level. To an experienced climber, it's not high. But to me, it was tall enough.

The minute our shift ended at 11PM on June 16, Friday, we dashed to Cubao over at Sidney's house. We debated whether we would sleep for a few hours or eat. Of course, we ate.

At exactly 4AM, we rode an FX at Farmer's, Cubao going to Rodriguez. Since it was still early in the morning, it took only 30 minutes tops to reach Rodriguez. The minute we got off the FX, I was shaking. Not because of the early morning breeze. But because, damn it, I'm going to climb a fucking mountain!!!!! So I was scared, excited, nauseous, happy, sleepy, and all sorts of emotions.

Don't we look so fresh on a Satuday morning? (Photo from Sidney and Christian)

After buying last minute things at the nearest 7/11, we rode a tricycle going to Brgy. Mascap. The tricycle ride was crazy because the drivers drove so fast along winding roads. Finally, reached the registration area near the barangay hall.

Adventure awaits, but first, a photo. (Photo from Sidney)

Our guide, Kuya Robert, was so nice. He told stories about the mountain and his experience as a guide. The trail up to the mountain was relatively okay at first. But compared to my friends, I was the one who had a hard time. I keep losing my footing while climbing and my legs were burning already. Either it's because I had no sleep or because of my weight or because I'm just generally clumsy or all of the above. So I had to go forward near our guide just in case I further injure myself.

Still a long way to go~ (Photo from Sidney)

For a moment, I forgot my worries because wow, the view was amazing. I mean, I wish I could live the simple life away from the buildings and the concrete jungle that I've always known. You don't have to go far and spend much to escape. I used to be so amazed whenever my friends tell me stories of when they went to the beach or climbed a mountain over the weekend. I don't know if it was just me, but I always thought that going to such places would be exhausting. You only had two days of break. But you'll never know once you try.

So, to you, if you're a corporate slave or not, TAKE A BREAK. Go as far as you can away from the city. Your body, your heart and your mind will thank you for it.

Into the woods with these ladies~ (Photo from Sidney)

The weeds are almost as tall as me. (Photo from Sidney)

How can you not take a photo of that view? (Photos from Sidney)

I think it was around 8AM when we reached the top. But the sun was shining so bright I thought it was high noon already. Let me tell you, I was rendered speechless. I mean. JUST WOW.

Tried my hand at taking panorama

VICTORY IS OURS! But really my photos don't even do it justice.

Because dab is life (Photos from Sidney)

Obviously, our adventure doesn't end there. We took a side trip going to Payawaran Falls. It took at least an hour to reach the falls but it was well worth it.

Hell yeah, still so fresh (Photo from Christian)

Fresh coconut water. Thanks to Kuya Robert! (Photo from Sidney)

I don't think I would've made it out alive if it weren't for Kuya Robert. (Photos from Sidney)

The water was so cold. I wish we could've stayed there all day. (Photo from Sidney)

(Photos from Sidney)

Thus, our adventure ended. I promised myself that I will lose weight so that I could go on another adventure like this one. I don't know when that will be but let's see. Thank you to my friends who put up with my "heredera"-ness. On to the next adventure~

May 19, 2017

Wicked Review: The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Format Acquired: Paperback
Date Published: November 1, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

This book is painful and all the while thought provoking and just all around amazing. So, here's Natasha who is about to be deported to Jamaica, where she knows nothing and no one about. All she's known is America, the land where she was born and the land that somehow accepted her despite her nationality. This book is so timely with all the issues regarding nationalities and citizenship in America. Or, well, at least that's how I thought it is. So there.

“To be clear: I don’t believe in fate. But I’m desperate.”

She does everything in her hands just so that she and her family can stay in America so that she can fulfill her dreams. But the law is the law. There's only so much you can do to bend it to your will. I can sort of empathize with Natasha. Moving away is never easy. It's painful. Even though, you're still with your family in this strange new place, it will never be the same again.

I love alternating POVs. It helps me understand the story more because I always believe that there is two sides to every story. But well in this book, not only does it alternate with the POV between the two main characters, it also goes around with the minor characters.

Now, enter Daniel Jae Ho Bae, Korean born in America. He's an aspiring poet who writes about heartbreak, as if he gets his heart broken so many times already. Growing up in an Asian family, there are high expectations. Being an artist is never an option. It's always either a doctor or a lawyer or a banker or a teacher even. He's bound to be one of those if he follows his parents' wishes and not his.

But that's the least of Daniel's worries, I think. He's head over heels in love with Natasha already. Clearly. I do have issues with insta-love. But well, I guess, I can make an exception for Daniel and Natasha.

“There’s a Japanese phrase that I like: koi no yokan. It doesn’t mean love at first sight. It’s closer to love at second sight. It’s the feeling when you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with them. Maybe you don’t love them right away, but it’s inevitable that you will.”

And so, Daniel tries to make Natasha fall in love with him with just one day. But, Natasha is, in her own words, a realist. She deals with facts. She likes facts. She doesn't believe one bit that she will fall in love with Daniel. But eventually she will.

Nicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica (the island) and Brooklyn (part of Long Island). She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and daughter, both of whom she loves beyond all reason. Everything, Everything is her first novel.


May 13, 2017

Wicked Review: Summer Crush by Jay E. Tria, Tara Frejas and Six de los Reyes

Format Acquired: Kindle Edition
Date Published: April 9, 2017
Genre: Romance, New Adult

Beach. Love. Rock and roll.

When life, love, and rock and roll come together on the sandy beaches of La Union for music festival Summer Crush, expect nothing less than the crashing of lips, bodies, and waves against the shore, against each other, and against your soul.

Allow these three tales of love to take you away for an unforgettable weekend.

Ana’s life as a corporate warrior, graduate student, and girlfriend to indie rock band boy Miki starts to spin out of control, and she wonders if it is love that has to give. (You Only Need Reminding, Jay E. Tria)

Newly reinstated EG Project roadie Filipina Legaspi flies with her band back to the Philippines for Summer Crush, unaware of the emotional waves that engulf her when she sets foot in the beaches of San Juan, La Union. (Almost There, Tara Frejas)

Rhys has three problems: Arabella, the theme song with the Trainguy, and singing live for the first time—and now also on that list is Isaiah, sea-sweet Mango Rum kisses, and long overdue decisions she’s intent on avoiding. (Ocean Eyes, Six de los Reyes)

I love these three women. They are the holy trinity of music romance. I swear to God. They are just absolutely amazing. All three stories are set in the author's others book. You Only Need Reminding by Jay E. Tria is set in the world of her Playlist series. Almost There by Tara Frejas is set in the world of Scandalized. Ocean Eyes is set in the world of Just For the Record. If you haven't read any of their other books prior to this one, don't worry. It won't be confusing for you.

You Only Need Reminding by Jay E. Tria

When I read Songs to Get Over You, the second book in the Playlist series, I met Miki, guitarist of Trainman and the lovely corporate warrior that is Ana. While I loved Ana, I didn't like Miki very much. But after You Only Need Reminding, my feelings have started to soften for dear Miki.

Since Ana is a corporate warrior, she's always working 24/7/365. Poor Ana. You'd think that her relationship with Miki would somehow help her destress. Well, it doesn't. I got to know Ana more in this story as she struggles to find the perfect balance of work and life. Don't we all?

So, Miki, being the angel that he is, whisks Ana away to La Union to watch them perform for Summer Crush. But it wasn't without any bumps along the way. Miki was the ever supportive boyfriend to Ana and I would be lying if I said I didn't fall for Miki.

It's the last Friday before freedom. Miki knows it is better conquered with extra rice.

Bless Miki's heart. I understood Ana's struggle. I am at that point in life where I want to achieve a few certain things at this age or at that age. While mine is not as ambitious as Ana's, I admire her strength and her determination to want those things to happen to her. But, sometimes you have to accept that not all things work out the way you want to.  
 Especially you, your person. Because of all the things you want to do and all the things you burden yourself with.

Almost There by Tara Frejas

The second story was more chill than the first. Fi is back as roadie of EGP, East Genesis Project, and they're in the Philippines to perform for Summer Crush. How I missed Steven, Minchan and Yihwan. They're just such a fun bunch of boys. I want them to be my best friends.

While Gabriel and Fi are finally dating, there's still Yihwan. Yihwan who finally realized that he has feelings for Fi. Oh, Jo Yihwan. He was literally almost there in Scandalized. But alas, fate had other plans.

To say that my heart didn't break for Yihwan is an understatement. I have an entire playlist of really the saddest songs in K-Pop and I was listening to it while nursing my broken heart for Yihwan.

For those of you who are working on letting go. It's not easy, but we'll get there eventually.

Truer words never spoken.

Ocean Eyes by Six de los Reyes

Meanwhile, I haven't read Just for the Record. But I knew of it's main characters, Rhys Yalung, in Feels Like Summer. She's a musician under the same label with Arabella, Adrian's band. She is considered to be a genius and well, Little Miss Boss, as Franklin of Arabella "fondly" calls her.

Rhys and Isaiah's relationship is considered to be well, either toxic or mutually beneficial. Beneficial because they were just there for each other fulfilling each other needs. But their timing sucked. Rhys is in a relationship.

We're already in a mess. Have been in it long enough. Aren't you tired?

While this trope is reminiscent of Feels Like Summer, it still has a different spin on this because of the long history Rhys and Isaiah had. I have yet to discover that history when I read Just for the Record one of these days.

But suffice to say that, Ocean Eyes gave me a mix of pain and happiness. No choice is ever easy. To see Rhys fight for what she finally wants definitely paid off in this one.

Loving Isaiah is all the things all at once. From indifference to lust, from lust to trust, and from  trust to love, and somewhere between the lies they find truth.

So there. Even if these stories were different on their own, it blended so well together. It's as if Summer Crush isn't an anthology but like a single entity. #romanceclass authors wielded their magic once again. How I wish theses characters were real and I could see them in person? I want them to be my best friends. Mainly because they have good music taste. PISLABRAKENROL (*winkwink*)

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 with being part-time mermaid and a part-time labrat. She currently lives next to the see. Check out her other titles:

- Just for the Record
-Beginner's Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions
-Sounds Like Summer

Connect with her: Twitter

Jay E. Tria is inspired by daydreams, celebrity crushes, a childhood fascination of Japanese drama and manga, and an incessant itch to travel. She write contemporary young adult and new adult romance. Sometimes, paranormal fantasy too. Check out her other titles:

-Songs of Our Breakup
-Songs to Get Over You
-Songs to Make You Stay
-Blossom Among Flowers

Connect with her: Twitter

Tara Frejas is a cloud-walker who needs caffeine to fuel her travels. By day, she works in project management and events, and she writes down her daydreams at night. She began publishing fiction for public consumption in 2004, posting her pieces on various online channels like fan forums and Blogspot, eventually exploring other avenues like Livejournal, Soomp!, Tumblr, and most recently, Wattpad.

Aside from her obvious love affair with words and persistent muses, Tara is very passionate about being caffeinated, musical theatre, certain genres of music, dancing, dogs, good food, and romancing Norae, her ukelele. She owns a 6-month-old male bunny named Max who sometimes tries to nibble on her writing notes.

Fun fact: She's a Piscean. Go figure.

Check out her other titles:
-Paper Planes Back Home
-The Forget You Brew
-Hustle Play/Settle the Score
-Waiting in the Wings

Connect with her: Twitter