Sassy romance with a dose of new release alerts and book recommendations.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review | Another Word for Happy by Agay Llanera

Amazon | Goodreads

Growing up, I only encountered two Asian characters in fiction meant for people my age, the goddess Claudia Kishi from The Baby-Sitters Club and Cho Chang from Harry Potter.

Just two.

Pretty sad, I know. It's even sadder if you take into account that neither of them grew up in an environment remotely similar to mine.

I didn't know it then, but I desperately wanted to see myself--or someone like me, at the very least--in the books I was reading. Someone who has relatives who work in places like Saudi Arabia or Dubai to make life better for the people left behind. Someone who understands what it's like to grow up with overly religious Catholic parents/grandparents.

Enter Another Word for Happy by Agay Llanera.

It's about Caleb, a talented pianist with a penchant for colorful bow ties. He's been in the closet since the age of thirteen and has no plans of coming out. Until he meets intense, brokenhearted Franco and falls in love for the first time. But falling doesn't always mean someone will catch you, something Caleb learns in the most painful of ways.

Where do I even begin to explain my utter adoration for this book?

If Caleb were a real person, I’d want to be the cool older sister-ish friend who takes him shopping for bow ties and says wise things to him like, “Cheer up, kid. Heartache always gets better with time.” He totally won my heart the second he binge-watched videos of Franco’s spoken word performances online. A boy after my own heart.

Not that I do stuff like that. Ahem.

It hurt my heart to read about his struggles to fully accept himself. At the same time, though, I was thankful to be given the opportunity to walk around in Caleb’s shoes, to understand what it’s like to be afraid to be judged by people because of who you choose to love.

I think I broke down a bit—a lot, if we’re being honest—when he stood in front of the mirror and called himself all the names he imagined people would call him once he came out of the closet. Give me a minute to collect myself. I’m not okay, you guys. *sniffles*

And the characters! Another Word for Happy was a book populated by flawed and realistic characters. Franco and his self-destruction. Ginny and her ever-changing hair colors. Caleb and the bow ties that match his mood. Even the minor characters were interesting and all added something of value to the story. They all felt like people I could run into at my old university.

Although Caleb’s story is uniquely his own, Another Word for Happy feels like an accurate portrayal of what it’s like to be a seventeen-year-old in the Philippines. Unlike in other countries, most of us go to college in the same city we grew up in. This basically means we live with our parents beyond the age of eighteen. We’re still subjected to our parents’ coddling and strict rules at a time when we begin to feel like full-fledged adults. It’s something my friends and I personally experienced, and I was so glad to read about it for the first time in Another Word for Happy.

Filipino teenagers seriously need to read this book, even just for the sadly rare pleasure of seeing themselves reflected in it.

I would totally give Another Word for Happy ten stars out of five. It’s like that long-term boyfriend who can make you cry until you pass out at 2 A.M. but shows up the next day with a bouquet made of multi-colored roses and a poem he wrote for you. It hurts, but you know you’re not letting go. More please, Agay Llanera?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Blurb Reveal | Keeping the Distance 2.6.17

I announced last week that Keeping the Distance is coming out early next year. This week, I'm very excited to share the blurb with all of you. In the meantime, you can add it to your to TBR on Goodreads:

No bets. No fake relationships. Just a very real one that has to be kept under wraps.

Seventeen-year-old Melissa wants to dye her hair cotton candy pink and focus on her ukulele instead of Physics. But she can't. As the daughter of a Catholic school principal, living up to her model student image 24/7 is a must. Something's about to give under all the pressure. She only hopes it isn't her.

Getting involved with a troublemaking basketball player is the last possible thing she needs...

Lance is used to getting what he wants. With a pretty face he uses to full advantage and his role as co-captain of the basketball team, the easy way is the only way he's ever known. Until the day he notices the prim Melissa he's known forever is actually hot and decides to ask her out. He has no idea he's about to learn the lesson of a lifetime.

Not getting what he wants might exactly be what he needs...

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Title Reveal | Keeping the Distance 2.6.17

Facts about my next book:

❇ Title: Keeping the Distance

❇ Release Date: 2.6.2017

❇ Tagline: No bets. No fake relationships. Just a very real one that has to be kept under wraps.

❇ You can add it your Goodreads TBR here:

I'm so excited for you guys to read this book. After I finished writing Prom Queen Perfect, I was a little lost about what to write next and found an unfinished manuscript I started when I was nineteen. The characters spoke to me, but it was the setting that convinced me to continue writing it.

Keeping the Distance is set in Iloilo, my hometown, a very chill place I hope you'll fall in love with. The book is currently in the editing stage, and I'll be sharing a few quotes in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned.
© Clarisse David
Maira Gall