Guess Who I’ve Been Reading Lately

You might have already noticed from my previous posts that I’ve been reading books written by Filipino authors, and I must say that it’s those times when I feel most in touch with the culture I grew up in. Since I live in an archipelago, with bodies of water separating islands here and there, we tend to have minor differences — dialects, manners, delicacies, among other things. But in their (“our” I sincerely pray) books, you’ll find that Filipino women stand firmly on what they believe in and what they’re taught to become when it comes to love.

Well, how exactly that is, you will have to find out for yourselves.

You might want to check these authors (and more) out at!



Pagbuburnay or the art of making clay pots using the earthware called Burnay is a way of life in Vigan, Ilocos Sur in the northern part of the Philippines. It dates back from precolonial times, introduced by Chinese immigrants to the locals, who passed the art down from generations after generations.


The Burnayan or the place where these burnay jars are made is popular to tourist and travelers, attractin thousands of people annually.


Better at Weddings than You by Mina Esguerra

I received my purchased copy of Mina Esguerra’s Better at Weddings Than You a couple of weeks ago. I read it the very day I received it, but only finished this morning because I got really sick and had to be brought to ER twice.


The story is about the wedding planner slash goddess Daphne, and the newbie wedding planner Aaron, whom she was supposed to replace for a friend’s January event. There’s instant tension between the two, revealed deliciously from the very first page, and that gave the story the spice you would love until the last one. For while it’s about Daphne and Aaron, who were both more into the physical than the emotional, it is also about having to deal with one version of a love they no longer understood. And it had brought them together.

That version of love – though it came from a minor character’s rant – was,  for me, the ultimate take-away from the story.

This thing inside that tells you that you are not pretty enough, not good enough. Not good enough for him, and never will be. But you wait, and you do all the right things, because you are told that guys like inner beauty and good people and true friendship and surely, if you’re the only one who stayed after everyone has given up on his flighty, aimless ass, you’ll be the consolation prize by default, right? And who cares if you beat yourself up even thinking that, because it’s a marathon, right? Love is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about support and friendship and companionship — not physical attraction and lust. It’s about patience. Don’t they all tell us that?

Because it happens differently to people. For some, love is what the book’s about in its core — physical attraction and strength and love for one’s self that led to giving in to chances. For some, it is what that minor character has said — patience and good deeds that led to realizations of finally being home. And for a fewer set of others, like me, it is every bit of both. And I believe that is the most painful, most fun, and strongest, purest form of love.

You might not agree with me on that. But that’s okay.

Why I Refuse to Give Up on My Dream

My dream is simple. I want to write books and screenplays endlessly, and I want people to enjoy them. As always, there are, however, complications in reaching it.

Today, I received a book from one Filipino author I look up to. She was the first writing mentor I had whom I actually met in person. The other two, I only had the opportunity to converse with through emails. And what she wrote on the title page (since I asked for her autograph) caught me motionless. Not that it was entirely personal, but it did cause a pinch. In a good way. Here’s what it said:

I wrote this to remind myself that we can be fabulous at any age — and also choose new things. Hope you are well!


In 2013, I had been published in the US. I celebrated it, as it was the first affirmation I got that my talent wasn’t put to waste. But that wasn’t the best year of my life. 2014 was.

For in 2014, I was at my peak, my God-given talent used at full speed. I was at the top of my game. I released yet three other books and met Director Jay Abello, who taught me the ropes of writing for the movie industry. He even brought me to Bacolod to watch him shoot RED for CinemaOne Originals.


Direk Jay, discussing the script to me. Photo was taken by one of the RED production staff.

But then, as it always did, life happened. I had bills to pay and a family to support (since my father left us more than eight years ago, and it wasn’t any different with my partner as he also did four years ago) and the next thing I knew I was parking my passion so I could actually earn from a prestigious job that paid well.

My job grew on me, no matter its complete disparity with what I loved doing. A graduate of AB English, minor in Theater Arts, proudly at the top of my class, you wouldn’t expect to find me holding a position in the retail industry. But I was, and I couldn’t say I regret a moment of it.


That’s me on the furthest right. My team (a third of it, since they were the only ones left for the closing shift) serenaded me on my last day at work.

So I ventured into photography as a hobby, a resort to keep my creative side intact, and hung out with people who knew people from different walks of life. I met mountaineers and journalists and simple everyday people who lived the life they chose for themselves. Since I couldn’t write, my mental energy used up when I get home, they were my way of clinging to my hopes of keeping the artist in me alive.


Fast forward to more than a couple of months ago, a personal situation had forced me to quit my job. I had to attend to matters and even with my leave credits (since I couldn’t use them most of the time), I simply couldn’t fit everything into place anymore. I had to let go of something that had helped me keep afloat.

Now, I am back to where I started, trying to connect dots, trying to get back the opportunities I have lost the past 2 years, and wishing I could do my 2014 success — and more — all over again. It’s exhausting, once you overthink about it. Then again, wouldn’t you say I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be?

Miss Mina Esguerra wrote two things that was unknown to her to be personal to me:

  1. That we can be fabulous at any age. I am at my 31st year (more on that when I finish my supposed birthday post), and to me that means books and movies, lined up along the shelves of my private library at my future house.
  2. That we could choose new things for ourselves. THAT MEANS LEARNING. And I choose to write and take photographs and learn other skills. For I do not know how long I’d still be living in this world.

I refuse to give up on my dreams because I have reached for them once. I intend to do it again. This time, fabulously and with new armors.

Thanks, Miss Mina, for reminding me.

Guest Post: Marian Tee

Hi! I’m Marian Tee, one of the authors behind Summer Feels. It’s my first time to write a guest post for KZ Riman’s blog (thanks for having me, KZ!), and I’ve been asked to share a couple of my fave book universes with you guys.

XANTH by Piers Anthony

So…imagine a world that literally runs on magic. There are magicians, princesses, elves, dragons, gargoyles – just about any creature you can think of probably exists in Xanth one way or another.

On the other hand, Xanth is also a land of…puns. Honeymoon, for instance, is literally a place that newlyweds may visit. It’s in the far side of the moon, sweet as honey – you get the picture? Oh, and heaven cent is a coin (penny) that enables its user to go wherever he or she needs to go. Heaven cent = heaven sent.

There are puns galore literally in Xanth, and I know the way I describe this world may sound crazy, but if you’re a huge fan of fantasy then this series is an absolute must-read.
P.S. Feel free to start anywhere in the series as they’re all written as standalones; I started with Book 16: Demons Don’t Dream, and there was no looking back after that.
P.P.S. It may not seem like it, but Xanth has some nice romances to offer (depending on which book of the series you’re reading).

BELGARIAD by David Eddings

If you love Lord of the Rings then I don’t see how you can possibly not love Eddings’ Belgariad as well. I don’t understand why no one has made a movie or TV show of this series yet, tbh. This world is very much high fantasy and is occupied by both immortals (a couple of deeply flawed gods and goddesses) and mortals. The romance in some cases is toe-curling sweet (although I do wish it could be hotter haha!) and the battle scenes epic!

WONDERLAND by Lewis Carroll

I freely admit it: only when Disney cast Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter did I see Wonderland and its beguiling cast of characters with new eyes. After that, I pretty much devoured all the retellings and adaptations of this world. My favorites in particular are Alice in the Country of Hearts (it’s both a video game and manga) and Guilty Alice (otome game by Solmare). Gena Showalter’s Alice in Zombieland has been highly recommended, too, and is on top of my TBR.

SYMPHONY OF AGES by Elizabeth Haydon

I’m not quite sure how to describe this epic fantasy series, so I’ll just list what I love about it. The world building (I wish I could explain this in detail, but if I do I might end up with a ten-page blog post >.<), the implied love triangle and of course the romance, and, oh its huge cast of characters, which is reminiscent of Game of Thrones. If you like GOT but wish it had a bit more romance, then this is the series you’re looking for.

BLACK JEWELS by Anne Bishop

Although the author herself classifies her work as dark fantasy, I can also see this working as paranormal romance because it’s quite heavy (and steamy) with the latter. The Black Jewels books are quite unique in the sense that the world Anne Bishop created here is very much matriarchal and men are the ones usually ending up as abused sex slaves in worst case scenarios or proud warrior consorts of their Queen wives in the other end of the spectrum.

Last but not the least, another favorite book universe of mine is a fictional world that I myself created – Chalys in particular, which I’ve featured in some of my paranormal romances. It’s basically an island kingdom set in today’s world but where Internet, automobiles, phones, cameras, and most other forms of modern technology are strictly prohibited. Locals here live, dress, talk, and act like they’re from the Regency period (think corsets, carriages, balls) and tourists are expected to follow the same rules when visiting. Officially, the reason for this is because the kingdom is a conservative nation and they’re also very much concerned about reducing their carbon footprint. The unofficial and real reason, however, is because the absence of technology prevents the world from realizing that the ducal rulers of Chalys and its citizens are all otherworlders (e.g. demons, wolves, vampires).

It’s a fun world to get into, and I was very happy when one of my readers wrote to me asking if Chalys was real. I think by that she means to ask if I had based Chalys on an actual place that requires people to go around in carriages and dress up in gowns, et al.

Anyway – I think I’ve said more than enough about book universes while at the same time saying too little about Summer Feels, which is supposed to be what this whole blog tour is all about. >.<

FYI my story in the anthology is Anything Can Happen, and it’s the first story I’ve written as Marian Tee that’s based in the Philippines and has a Filipina heroine. The hero, however, is still Greek. Oh, and he’s still a billionaire, too. Once an escapist, always an escapist. 

Summer Feels is now available on Amazon (and Kindle Unlimited) so we hope you guys can grab a copy! ❤

Thank you for the time everyone, and thank you again KZ for having me here!


Summer Feels:
A #romanceclass Anthology

Edited and compiled by Kate Sebastian

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 30, 2017


Summer loving happens so fast, as you’ll find with Summer Feels, an anthology of 23 stories of love under the summer sun by #romanceclass authors. Savor the candied thrill of firsts—first loves, first kisses, first solo vacations—and the bittersweet triumph of second chances. Tour the Philippines as the stories take you to mountain retreats and island paradises. Let the magic of the hot sun, clear blue skies, and lots of love take you on a roller coaster ride of feels. With stories ranging from sweet to sexy, there’s sure to be something for any fan of romance.

Featuring stories by:

Elea Andrea Almazora • Erleen Alvarez • Ella Banta • Rachelle Belaro • H. Bentham • Halina Cabrera • Charlie Dio • Mina V. Esguerra • Elizabeth Galit • Georgette S. Gonzales • Ami Granada • Irene Jurado • Catherine Lo • Arlene Manocot • Bianca Mori • Eris Peñaluna • Farrah F. Polestico • Kit Salazar • Miel Salva • Fay Sebastian • Kate Sebastian • Yeyet Soriano • Marian Tee

Check them out here:

All About That Bass” by Fay Sebastian

Erika Torres is determined to join her university’s a cappella guild to pursue her passion and to discover what fate has in store for her broken heart.

All the times she’s crossed paths with the guild’s bass leader Liam Lorenzo have made her think about the possibility of falling in love again. But with the scars of the past and the guild captain making it difficult for her to spend time with Liam, Erika must decide if the blind jump off the cliff of love is a risk her heart can take

Alter Christus” by Catherine Lo

When you fall deeply and helplessly in love with a seminarian, it becomes the happiest and saddest moment of your life.

Nobody knows this better than I do. For years, it’s always been Peter at the center of my heart, and we might have had a happily-ever-after if his higher calling weren’t there, stubbornly squeezing itself between us.

Now, in the summer of our last year in college, as feelings are shared involving an overly symbolic piece of rock, will Peter finally decide to choose me, or will I lose him forever to a life in robes and vestments?

Fall for Me” by Miel Salva

Sixteen-year-old Yasmin San Carlos grew up basking in the admiration and respect of everyone around her. Except for Karlos Iñigo Vicente, who seems to be unaffected by her pleasing personality. Finding this an aberration to the natural order of her world and a telltale sign of failing her mother, Yas is determined to befriend Igo in hopes of making him fall for her.

But the plan is easier said than done.

The Game of Twenty Questions” by Elizabeth Galit

Charlemagne Villegas hasn’t gotten over her breakup with Dave. But it has been three years since the breakup happened. Everybody (maybe except for her) has moved on. And so there’s nothing wrong in going to the beach with Dave and their old friends, right?

But what if Charlie discovers otherwise? What if like her, someone else hasn’t gotten over what happened three years ago? Would it be another heartache? Or a second once-in-a-lifetime chance?

The Summer You Said Hello” by Ami Granada

Edward and Camille have been childhood friends since forever. Edward secretly loves her. They lost touch after graduation. By chance, they meet again, but Edward seems aloof. Seeing him again, Camille is sure of one thing—she is in love with him.

Camille calls him at the radio station where he works as a DJ. She pretends to be someone else by using another name. However, Edward knows her voice, clear as a silver morning.

At the Bermuda Triangle” by Elea Andrea Almazora

There’s no way Messi Potenciano’s letting her problems ruin the wedding of her two closest friends. She’ll just get through the beach side ceremony and not get entangled in anything dumb.

Steve Caballero has no intention of staying for his clients’ wedding. He just wants to deliver the clothes he designed and get off the island resort.

Their sudden and staggering attraction and surprising connection are not part of the plan. But what else would you expect at a resort called the Bermuda Triangle?

Beachin’ Summer” by Arlene Manocot

Childhood friends Summer and Jesse head to the beach after a traumatic incident leaves Jesse in need of a little rest and relaxation. He’s looking forward to catching up on his reading, and while she isn’t as avid a reader, she can’t help but be drawn in by his enthusiasm. When he shares his love of indie-published romance with her, she can’t help but wonder if he might be inspired to turn fictional love into something real.

Buddy System” by Yeyet Soriano

Smarting from a recent breakup, Kit Estaquio decides to let loose during her company’s overnight summer outing. She enlists the help of her officemate and best friend, Carlo Manlapat, and they agree to set up a buddy system where Carlo will make sure Kit won’t do anything she would regret.

But when office babe Tanya de Leon sets her sights on Carlo and office player Javier Perez makes it known he has his eye on Kit, the lines between being friends and buddies blur until Kit and Carlo realize they may not be the best buddies for each other.

Busy out of the Friendzone” by Charlie Dio

A summer beach wedding in a tropical paradise, a white button-up shirt with neon pink hibiscus prints, a handful of meddling relatives, and two friends at the crossroads of their relationship dynamics—what could possibly go wrong between Aidan and Gillian? Turns out, everything! Then again, there’s also a kiss, a hickey, and a man on a mission, so maybe things could turn right after all.

Flying with You” by Rachelle Belaro

All that Arci ever wanted was to visit Lake Sebu with her friends. When they backed out at the last minute, she was forced to continue her trip alone. Then she met Blue Shirt Guy, and she kept bumping into him. He became her impromptu travel buddy . . . and maybe a summer fling.

Will the way he holds her hand tight be enough to turn this something into a real relationship? Or is it just a fleeting summer encounter?

Guide for a Day” by H. Bentham

Delivery boy Jun meets vacationer Ricky at his hometown’s only hotel. It was an instant attraction for Jun, and when the city boy offers to hire him as a tour guide for a day, the provincial lad agrees. They go around town together, discovering more than just the town’s history, but each other’s as well.

Ready to Run” by Kit Salazar

Chris Hastings was pretty happy with his life. He had a nice beachside apartment, good friends, and a job he enjoyed. He didn’t think he wanted anything more, until Lauren Ditas came into his life. She was outgoing, athletic, beautiful, and everything he thought he couldn’t have. Chris opened himself up to her, but then he realized that she wasn’t doing the same with him. Could they make things work if there were secrets between them?

Secondhand Wanderlust” by Erleen Alvarez

Twenty-four-year-old April De Guzman has never traveled alone and for good reason. Until she finds her sister’s travel diary and impulsively books a two-day tour package to Calaguas Island. She doesn’t know how she will survive the boat ride, much less live in a tent. But charming tour guide slash photographer Leo proves a welcome distraction from her overthinking mind.

With a bag full of summer essentials and her sister’s diary in hand, April will go on a journey to find that missing piece inside her and discover that traveling alone isn’t as lonely as it sounds.

The Search for the Kissing Monster” by Ella Banta

Vincent and his friends are excited for their summer vacation this year, especially because one of his friends will be getting married. Congratulations and drinking are in order. Only, Vincent can’t drink. Weird things happen when he drinks. Then his friends mention something about him and a kissing monster. Who—or what—is it? What does it have to do with Vincent?

Anything Can Happen” by Marian Tee

Charlotte “Charlie” Perez is what people think as the “serious” type. Or at least that’s how her family has been describing Charlie her entire life, and so it must be true. But everything she knows or thought was true about herself is challenged one fine day in Boracay when she meets the gorgeous, mysterious Alexio . . .

Four Basic Principles” by Bianca Mori

Everybody makes mistakes in college, but one night’s carelessness turned former friends, Cass and Gelo, into strangers. Seven years later, they are thrown together in scenic Moalboal, Cebu. The trip has them wondering: are people doomed to repeat the same mistakes, or can time thaw the ice between two former friends?

Love after Summer” by Irene Jurado

Seine Vargas met a dashing groomsman one summer day in Boracay. She was appointed as a substitute photographer for a wedding photoshoot by her best friend.

There’s a sizzling connection between her and the groomsman, but can this summer fling turn into an all-year romance knowing they just spent only a day with each other in an island?

Lucky in Paradise” by Farrah F. Polestico

After getting out of a failed relationship, Lucy books a weeklong stay at Villa del Carmel, a little corner of paradise where she can bask in the summer sun and forget about all her problems. Dean, the resident chef, catches her eye, but she doesn’t want anything serious. And Dean seems to want the same thing. So they take it one day at a time, reveling in the now.

But what if her heart starts asking for more than what Dean can give? Will it get what it wants, or is she in for another heartbreak?

The Swimming Instructor” by Eris Peñaluna

Bound together by a scheming little girl, Jandro and Ariel try to come to terms with their mutual attraction for each other through lots of gauging and attack tactics, mostly from Ariel, much to Jandro’s chagrin.

In which Jandro learns to swim and Ariel learns how to take a plunge again.

Wedding Night Stand” by Mina V. Esguerra

Andrea Crisostomo is no longer your Ms. Right Now, thank you very much. She’s had enough of guys who like her “free spirit” but then break up with her before things get serious.

Damon Esquibel enjoys the slow and steady chase, and it looks like his two-year pursuit of Geraldine is about to pay off. He’s at his friend Anton’s destination wedding only because of her. But then he meets the sister of the bride, who doesn’t seem to want to be there, and it’s enough to question his plans for the evening—and the rest of the weekend.

An Overdue Adventure” by Kate Sebastian

Hilary Santos is pretty much the poster girl for a sedentary lifestyle, but this week, she’s out to fulfill her father’s last wish—that she go on a no-holds-barred adventure. Travel guide and family friend Roman Villaflor is determined to make sure she doesn’t chicken out on the adrenaline rush Cebu has to offer. But Hilary soon finds that the thrill of jumping off cliffs and swimming with sharks can’t compare to the one she feels in his arms. Dare she take the biggest leap of all?

Buttered Sunset” by Halina Cabrera

Marisol thinks it might be too late for love. Her life has been the resort she runs together with her sister at Moalboal, Cebu. However, when Joe Bassett walks up to the reception desk to flirt with her while looking for lunch, she changes her mind. Maybe it’s time for her to work up an appetite for change. But does she have the courage to just say yes?

Then Derrick Was Back” by Georgette S. Gonzales

Nadia and Derrick had the kind of relationship that was both hot and promising. But then Derrick had to leave and inasmuch as they worked hard to keep things normal between them, distance and uncertainty got in the way and she called it quits. Over a couple of years later, Derrick surprised her by coming back on the scene. Is Nadia prepared to pick up where they left off? Or will she remain indifferent considering the pain he made her go through when they were apart?

About #romanceclass:

#romanceclass is a community of authors who attended various writing workshops organized by Mina V. Esguerra, readers of books by those authors, and readers of English-language romance books by Filipino authors. Visit to see the full catalog of books!



  • International: Amazon gift card worth $25
  • Philippines Only: Print books from some of the authors:
    • My Dutch Billionaire by Marian Tee
    • Kate, Finally by Yeyet Soriano
    • Old Enemies Make the Best Lovers by Kate Sebastian


Giveaway Link: