One of my closest friends from the book club joined the #romanceclass that Filipino author Mina V. Esguerra has organized (and concluded) recently, so I more or less knew a bit of the group's goings-on. When Mina posted the summaries of the finished products of the "graduates" some weeks ago, one particular novella caught my eye: it was about a blogger who goes on an all-expense-paid trip to Macau, with an annoying fellow guy blogger who gets paired up with her as her travel buddy. Now this novella piqued my interest for two reasons: one, my very first trip abroad was in Macau, six years ago: and two, the protagonists are bloggers, something I have been doing for the last 9 years. I eagerly anticipated the release of the book, so when an Instagram photo from Mina herself alerted me of the book’s availability on Amazon, I did not hesitate to download it.
|The cover is so pretty. And very Macanese.|
Chrissie Peria’s debut novella, All’s Fair in Love and War, is a very fun and light read. Five Cuevas, the twenty-something travel blogger heroine, is quirky, street-smart and sincere – her character is so likeable, so easy to relate to because any one of us could have gone through what she did, emotionally. On the other hand, Jesse Ruiz, her hunky fellow-blogger-slash-travel-buddy, starts out as the annoying know-it-all a**hole whose gentle, earnest side - surprisingly - shines during the trip itself.
What's in store for Five and Jesse?
There are so many things that I truly loved about the book. I thought the use of #hashtags for the chapter titles was clever and appropriately reflective of today’s internet-reliant generation, much in the same way that Twitter and Instagram were utilized as means of showing how information is now disseminated to the world, how significant social media is today. I loved the smart-alecky dialogue, lending credibility and honesty to the characters’ voices – even mow-del Meghan was able to deliver as support. I loved how uncomplicated the plot is, something I have always appreciated in light reads such as these – it’s like I’m watching my favorite romantic comedy on TV because I had the same warm, fuzzy feeling inside. And most of all, it was fun to read all about Macau – one of my most favorite places in the whole wide world because it is the first foreign place I have ever visited in my life. Look, I wrote this blog entry from my trip years ago!
Reading about Five’s experience felt like I was transported back to Macau: the cobblestoned and tourist-packed Senado Square or Largo de Senado in San Malo, the historic Ruins of St. Paul or the Ruinas de Sao Paolo, the prestigious Macau Tower which houses the highest bungee jump facility in the world, the beautiful and grand The Venetian – Macau, and many, many more. I could almost taste the soft egg tarts, the sweet almond cookies and Phoenix egg rolls – all from Pasteleria Koi Kei, one of the more famous pastelerias around the downtown area. It felt like I was experiencing Macau all over again through Five – minus the hunky guy and mobile internet access, of course, but it’s okay. I always tell friends to visit Macau because it’s the perfect example of a very rich East-meets-West culture, and I will never tire of doing so.
However, while All’s Fair in Blog and War was fun and fluff and happy, I thought it could have used just a bit more of editing. I do not claim to be an expert proof-reader (or an expert anything, really) but I always get bothered by non-hyphenated words that are used as adjectives; punctuation, or the lack of it, can change the thought or meaning of a sentence. An example is this, quoting from the book: “From seeing the old world wonders of the various UNESCO World Heritage sites to being mesmerized by the mind blowing musical productions to losing money in the casinos, we experienced it all.” I’m taking this means that the speaker was mesmerized because his/her mind blew musical productions? I also noted a few typographical errors - nothing that a meticulous and diligent proofreader would be unable to spot right away.
Despite those little technical things, however, it is clear that this romance novella holds a lot of promise for its first-time author. I am sure that Chrissie’s next outing will be as enjoyable as this one. That is definitely something to look forward to. :)
And because Chrissie is such a generous soul, she has offered to give away digital copies of All’s Fair in Love and War to three (3) lucky readers. This is open to everyone – whether in the Philippines or abroad – all you have to is leave a comment on this blog entry and I will pick the top three (3) winners by Friday next week, August 9, 2013. Winners will be notified in another blog entry on August 10, 2013. So if you want to (virtually) experience Macau and fall in love through Five and Jesse, you know what to do: comment away!
Book Details: Kindle edition; also, a free copy from the author (Thank you!)