Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Hometown Hazard Review

Remember Blossom Among Flowers? Remember  #romanceclassbooks? I haven't read much of romance class books too, but I will, soon. I came across this book because of an RT in Twitter. I got a free e-copy of this novella when the author, Dawn Lanuza, gave out 27 copies.

The Hometown Hazard is a chick-lit story set in the Philippines. Jules (Juliana) Coronado goes back to her hometown after years because of distress call from her mother that there was a intruder in their house, in her old room. She sees her childhood best friend's younger brother and neighbor, Kip Villamor scaling up their wall who is not what she remembers him to be.

At first glance, I thought The Hometown Hazard is a sci-fi love story sort because of the cover or am I the only who thought of that? I was thinking of abduction and all of sorts when I hadn't read the summary, but I was dead wrong. It's a chick-lit which is my first when it comes to a Philippines setting.

The Hometown Hazard has this familiar vibe of the countryside since I do live in one. The rooster at mornings, the cockfighting (sabong), the town fiesta, and I admit it was nice to read. Jules is a spunky, intelligent woman, and she has that mysterious aura in her. She lived in the city for years and never came home once after she left for college. That will got you thinking, what the hell happened to her in her hometown? The story has that - mystery and that building up romance between childhood neighbors. I would consider this in the category of older female and younger male even if their age gap isn't much, but it is weird to see a boy you sorta grow up with to turn into this charming young man. 

The story had a nice phasing. It wasn't too slow or fast, and I was just not probably used to reading novellas because I wanted more. The reveal may have been a little anticlimactic, but it seemed right and went well with the flow of the story. It could have use a one more editing but other than that, The Hometown Hazard is a light read and that mystery they are after for and whatever Jules is hiding will keep you reading the book. I came up with my own theories once they were close enough to the truth, and I guessed right, one way or another, so go ahead and check The Hometown Hazard, form your own hunches, and be charmed by the countryside love story.

I'm not sure if this is available in print but it is available in Amazon Kindle for $2.99 and Buqo for P135.

About the author:

Dawn Lanuza started writing stories when she was just a kid (they weren't good or even finished). She's a music elf by day and a meet cute writer by night. 'The Boyfriend Backtrack' is her first book. She currently lives with her family and an adopted dog.

Find her in Twitter: @dawnlanuza || Facebook || Blog || Ask.fm || Goodread

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Blossom Among Flowers Review

I guess this is my first time writing a review about a book. I don't know but it feels a little weird. Well, this book doesn't stray away from my usual reviews, manga (Japanese comics), because Blossom Among Flowers is a young adult fiction set in Japan too (more like a shoujo, yeah?).

This is my copy <3 Nice cover, right?
Blossom Among Flowers by Jay E. Tria is about Hikaru, a senior in high school who has this obsession with manga and Takeru, the popular genius guy in school. Their paths cross when they bumped into each other in a bookstore in one Saturday morning and they get even more closer when Takeru is asked by their English teacher to tutor Hikaru.

This is my short review without any spoiler: Blossom Among Flowers is a quick read, light, a little slow but entertaining. It gives you a familiar setting and drama of a manga set in modern Tokyo but it still offers you a different vibe from manga or TV dramas. It has that little romance, young love, and struggles. It has this charm that you'll come to like. I enjoyed reading it. The ending is open-ended, a little anti-climatic, but it's an ending that suited the story. It was memorable, sweet, and the type of ending that makes you sigh and hanging at the same time.

It is my first indie book in print by a Filipino author. I saw it by chance in wattpad and been wanting to read the rest of the story ever since but I don't own a credit card and I prefer paperbacks any day. I'm glad I tried searching it again and discovered it is available in print. You can find Jay E. Tria in the following sites:

Jay E. Tria || Twitter || Wattpad || I ordered my book here and you can also email her at jayetria@gmail.com
I'm not sure if the print copy is available for shipping internationally, but her books is also available in Amazon Kindle, and she is also in Ask.fm so if you have any questions, you can ask her there. She's awesome. The print copy is 250 pesos and the e-book is $2.99 in Kindle.




From here on, there would be spoilers.

I liked both characters right from the start. Hikaru and Takeshi are nice characters though there are certain aspects of their personality that I wish that could have been tackled more deeply in the story like that instance where Hikaru would hit her head violently. It is not a normal behavior and I wish I could have seen her more get over it. With Takeshi Hinata, I wanted to learn more about his background. Is his hair natural blonde? It looks like it but which side of the family did he get it from? Is he a half? That kind of things.

As for other other characters, I enjoyed reading about the twins in the first few scenes. Hikaru has a twin and his name is Shintaro. I liked him more than Hikaru. I hope he gets a story or more snippets if the author decides to write a sequel or a spin-off.

Hikaru and Takeru are also in a love square of a sort with Tetsuya, a Todai student and Eriko, a Waseda student. Both schools are prestigious universities in Japan. The former is a top public school, hard to get into kind, and the latter is a top private school (many famous icons in Japan goes to this school). Tetsuya enters the story as a practicing teacher in their school which is also a private school and Eriko is a part-timer in the book store where Hikaru and Takeshi are frequent customers. Tetsuya kinda likes Hikaru at first sight. He is undoubtedly interested in her. It is quite the same for Eriko with Takeshi but only after their first conversation. As the story goes, the plot deepens, and the revelations are revealed, I find it odd that Eriko considers herself as a friend of Hikaru. I came to dislike Eriko even if she salvaged herself in the end. She could have come easily as one of the bullies.

And, Tetsuya. Well, Tetsuya is a neutral character for me. I can't say I like and I can't say I hate him as much as I did with Eriko. But Tetsuya is an important character in the story. He's the one who planted the idea of becoming a teacher to Hikaru. This aspect of the story could have gone more too in my opinion. It's a miracle that Hikaru manages to enter Todai despite her low grades before but I can see Hikaru in literature rather than as teacher, perhaps an editor or something. Finding what she wanted to do could have been a subplot like what Takeshi did when he left Japan. Anyway, it's all just an opinion, what I wanted to see more.

On to my favorite parts of the story. Number one goes to the scene where Takeshi fell asleep in Hikaru's bed overnight.Next is their first kiss. I remembered sighing in content and squealing in muted voice in these scenes. 

Lastly, in the overview, I thought Hikaru and Takeshi's set-up was quite similar with Itazura na Kiss' Kotoko and Irie but Takeshi is kinder and Kotoko doesn't have that love for manga. It has also that hint of Hana Yori Dango with the rich parents, princess of a sort rival interest, and bullies but it was just those little thing. I know I tried to avoid comparing but I thought it would be nice to see BAF in live action. You know, real flesh Hikaru and Takeshi though there is also that one thing that bothered me-the shoes. I won't elaborate more because it's just probably me.

Overall, Blossom Among Flowers was a great light read. You can read it in one sitting especially if you're one of those voracious readers especially after you get past the release of the results for the exams. I'll be reading more of Jay E. Tria's books. Hope you pick one of her books and give it a try. It's worth it.

Manga, anime and live-action fans, if you liked Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flower) and Itazura na Kiss (Mischievous Kiss), you might also like this one.

There are other English written fiction novellas written by Filipino authors in romance class. Search for #romanceclass in twitter or tumblr or go to their website. romanceclassbooks.com
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