Pride Lit comes out as the first LGBTQ+ “Pop Lit” Imprint in the Philippines

As the first Filipino pop literature imprint focused on championing LGBTQ+ narratives, Pride Lit stands proud as a great source of entertainment and inspiration to readers of all kinds.

But more than teaching us the value of appreciation and acceptance, the brand has been very consistent in creating a safe space for underrepresented voices to flourish and share their stories, whether it’s about finding love in many forms and shapes or discovering one’s sexual awakening with fleeting moments of kilig.

Pride Lit Launch

Now celebrating its third year in the publishing industry, Pride Lit is taking a huge leap by releasing five unique titles from its roster of seasoned and respected writers and contributors. From Alex Rosas’ gender-swap romance Gay’s Anatomy to Soju’s campy fantasy Ang Asul Na Buntot Ni Aquano, the new releases represent diverse genres that speak of uniquely queer experiences and imaginative premises. Other upcoming titles that will be released this month include John Jack G. Wigley’s ensemble drama Kadenang Bahaghari, Lush Ericson’s instant pleaser Agustin and Ariston’s Version of the Universe, and Angelica Sorreda’s romantic offering Over Time.

Pride Lit Launch

Pride Lit Launch

 “Each book actually talks about different emotions, experiences and were written differently,” Pride Lit Brand Manager Aiko Clarizza Buduan-Salazar points out. “The upcoming new titles will open readers’ minds on the fresh possibilities of storytelling.” True to its vision, Pride Lit steps up its game by ensuring LGBTQ+ characters and its allies could be prominent figures in pop culture narratives, and serve as inspiration to the LGBTQ+ community whose vibrant lives are worth telling, and are now everyone’s stories. “We plan to release more books and become a staple in the community,” Salazar said. “Aside from providing feel good stories and erotic stories too, we plan to become more reachable to our target market and community.”

Details and images provided by Pride Lit in a recent press release.

Thanks to Jowell of FlingerosPH.com for attending the launch event on my behalf!

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen: A rediscovery of sisterhood and magic

Two sisters grappling about their magical heritage, seeking acceptance from the other inhabitants of their small town. After years apart, they reunite, discover and appreciate their true selves while coming to terms with their past and win true love in the process.

In Sarah Addison Allen’s debut novel Garden Spells, magical realism, heartwarming romance and small-town sensibility combine to bring to life the warm and engaging story of sisters Claire and Sidney Waverly. Brought back to their ancestral house in Bascom, North Carolina by their mother after a life on the road, they grew up feeling isolated from their neighbors.

Claire, the older and “plainer” sister, took comfort in her magical talent with plants and cooking and builds a successful career as a caterer.

  • Sidney, on the other hand was seemingly blessed with beauty but without magical talent. She ran away and lived a life on the road until she returns with her daughter trying to escape an abusive relationship.
  • Together with their elderly cousin, Evanelle, their love interests, their supportive neighbors, their town rivals, and with the help of the enchanted apple tree that their family has been tending for centuries, the sisters discover their innate powers and their place in their small town.

    The book’s style and structure bear similarities to other works in women’s literature that feature magical realism. With Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, it shares the plot element of two very different sisters reuniting and finding love in their small town after years apart. Like Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, on the other hand, it features the effects of food on people susceptible to magical ingredients.

    I picked up this book during a booksale two years ago and only found time to read it when I brought it with me on a trip. I find the book’s humor and homey feel very endearing, and its lesson on self-acceptance quite relevant. This book is a great for a bit of light and easy reading.

    I look forward to reading Addison’s recently released sequel titled First Frost set a few years after Garden Spells. In this novel, the Waverly girls have grown into their magical abilities while facing their daily struggles. One day, an unexpected stranger appears in their little town with a sinister intent.

    Other works by Sarah Addison Allen include:

    Lost Lake. Sometimes you find the things you’ve lost in the most unexpected places. But sometimes you find them exactly where you left them. Welcome to magical Lost Lake, Georgia.

    The Girl Who Chased the Moon. Emily Benedict is about to find out if wallpaper can change pattern on its own, if a cake can bring back a lost love, and if there really is a ghost dancing in her back yard.

    The Sugar Queen. Imagine a world where the color red has startling powers and passion can make eggs fry in their cartons. Welcome to snowy Bald Slope, North Carolina. There’s magic behind every closet door.

    The Peach Keeper. Welcome to Walls of Water, North Carolina, where the secrets are thicker than the fog from the town’s famous waterfalls, and the stuff of superstition is just as real as you want it to be.

    Waking Kate. Over a cup of butter coffee, Kate’s neighbor tells her a story of love and heartbreak that makes her remember her past, question her present, and wonder what the future will bring.

    The Firefly Dance. Addison anchors this anthology with her funny novella about Louise, a North Carolina girl whose keen observations of the lives around her weaves an unforgettable spell with just a hint of everyday magic.

    For more details or to buy any of these books on Amazon.com, simply click on the titles or the cover images.

    Book details taken from Sarah Addison Allen’s website and Amazon.com.

    Love books and reading? Try Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. Get your first month FREE.

    No Kindle device? Download the Kindle App for FREE to read your favorite books anytime, anywhere using most mobile devices.

    No time to read? Listen to your favorite books instead while you drive, run, shop, and more.  Try Audible for free for 30 days and get two free audiobooks.

    Check out my other blog posts on my favorite books:

    This post contains affiliate links.

    Francine Rivers’ Lineage of Grace: five novellas of women-centered Biblical stories

    The Bible is littered with the stories of men: pioneering patriarchs, brave warriors, noble kings, visionary prophets and more. These characters, with their virtues and flaws, have shaped Biblical history and provided anchors for the Christian faith.

    But what about the women?

    Most women in the Bible play supporting roles in the Bible narratives – as the wife, mother or sister of great men, the source of support or the catalyst for great acts.

    In Lineage of Grace: Five Stories of Unlikely Women Who Changed Eternity by Francine Rivers, however, Biblical women took active roles in shaping their destinies. In doing so, they also helped mold the story of God and His people.

    The book consists of five novellas which narrates the life and struggles of five women in the Bible.

    These are:

    Tamar, a woman of hope, who married into Judah’s family and was left a childless widow by two of his sons. She secures her future and place in his family through underhanded but ultimately justifiable means.

    Rahab, a woman of faith, who was forced into harlotry and espionage but saw her opportunity to turn her life around when Israelite spies sought refuge in her inn in Jericho.

    Ruth, a woman of love, who, though a Moabite woman, bravely accompanied her widowed mother-in-law Naomi back to Israel to forge a new life for themselves.

    Bathsheba, a woman who received unlimited grace, who had to contend with the consequences of spending a night in King David’s bed, managed to secure not just her legacy but the future of the kingdom.

    Mary, a woman of obedience, who, despite her youth and uncertainty, accepted the enormous task set upon her by God and thus, secured the salvation of mankind.

    The stories of these women are familiar, but are told in new perspectives and with fresh insights. Despite acting with or espousing Old World values, their characters and situations are still relatable.

    My favorite among the stories is that of Tamar. The biblical story is not that well-known and the two lead characters – Tamar and Judah – are not held in a good light based on the biblical narrative. However, by providing context to their thoughts and action – Tamar’s need to belong and Judah’s guilt over his betrayal of his brother Joseph – the characters are made sympathetic, redeemable and worth rooting for.

    Francine Rivers, the author of Lineage of Grace, is a renowned author of Christian Fiction. Her other works include:

    Redeeming Love. A retelling of the love story between the prostitute Gomer and the prophet Hosea set amidst the California Gold Rush.

    Sons of Encouragement. The stories of the lesser-known men behind the celebrated heroes of the Bible who served as guides and support, and quietly helped to shape the faith.

    The Mark of the Lion. A trilogy set in ancient Rome that explores the travails of Hadassah, a young Christian slave girl, and Marcus, the Roman aristocrat who falls in love with her.

    For more details or to buy any of these books on Amazon.com, simply click on the titles or the cover images.

    Love books and reading? Try Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. Get your first month FREE.

    No Kindle device? Download the Kindle App for FREE to read your favorite books anytime, anywhere using most mobile devices.

    No time to read? Listen to your favorite books instead while you drive, run, shop, and more.  Try Audible for free for 30 days and get two free audiobooks.

    Check out my other blog posts on my favorite books:

    This post contains affiliate links.

    Photo credit: Sidny Ritters on Unsplash

    Romance Novel Review: Loving the Marquess by Suzanna Medeiros

    One of my guilty pleasures is reading romance novels, those set in the Regency era in particular.

    Regency romances are situated in the period of the British Regency, in which King George III was deem unfit to rule and his son, who would later accede the throne as King George IV, ruled as Prince Regent.

    Strict observances of manners and propriety, concerns about social classes, inherited estates and noble titles, and, sometimes, even social commentary serve as the backdrop for passionate love stories between plucky heroines and aloof heroes.

    One such story is Loving the Marquess by Suzanna Medeiros, the first novel of her Landing a Lord series.

    Burdened by her family’s reduced circumstances, Louisa Evans sought the help of Nicholas, the Marquess of Overlea, the head of the family that ruined hers. Worried that he may be suffering from an inherited illness that put the marquisate’s future in jeopardy, he proposed marriage to Louisa but intends to have another man father children by her to prevent the passing down of the mysterious disease. His plans were complicated by his growing feelings for her and outside threats that endanger their safety.

    This book proved to be enjoyable read, with a fast-paced plot and engaging characters, albeit with a few typos and grammatical errors. Actually, I finished it overnight. 🙂

    Louisa is a believable and relatable heroine, a practical woman given to taking care of others: her siblings in the wake of their father’s death and their family’s fall to penury, and Overlea after his ailment caused him to collapse near the Evans home. Her change from an impoverished gentry girl to an elegant marchioness is something I as a reader rooted for.

    Overlea, on the other hand, is a bit problematic for me. While the readers are told that he grew up as the spare to the heir and never expected to take the marquisate, his transformation from a laid-back young man prior to the deaths of his father and brother, to a responsible and compassionate landlord to his tenants was not given enough substance. Also, his reasons for his hare-brained idea to have another man father his heir, and his planned methods to bring this about were half-baked.

    Secondary characters that I would love to read more about in later additions to the series include Louisa’s siblings Catherine and John, and Overlea’s best friend, the Earl of Kerrick.

    Loving the Marquess is a good and easy book to read while relaxing on a weekend. The editing could be improved a bit, though.

    The Landing a Lord series is preceded by the novella Dancing with the Duke, in which Charlotte Grant sets out to capture the heart of her childhood crush and her best friend’s brother, the Duke of Clarington in her one and only London season. The Marquess of Overlea and the Earl of Kerrick made appearances in this story as Clarington’s friends.

    In second book in the series, Beguiling the Earl, Catherine Evans, whom we first met in Loving the Marquess, adjusts to the change in her circumstances after her sister’s marriage to Overlea. She has carried a tendre for the Earl of Kerrick ever since she met him and has harbored a wish to capture his heart during her London season. However, he is duty-bound to give his attentions to another woman.

    In the third book in the series, The Unaffected Earl, Rose Hardwicke fell from being the darling of the ton to being a social pariah due to a family scandal. She sought the help of Earl of Brantford to prove her father innocent of treason but she may have trouble breaking through his icy exterior.

    For more details or to buy any of these books on Amazon.com, simply click on the titles or the cover images.

    Love books and reading? Try Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. Get your first month FREE.

    No Kindle device? Download the Kindle App for FREE to read your favorite books anytime, anywhere using most mobile devices.

    No time to read? Listen to your favorite books instead while you drive, run, shop, and more.  Try Audible for free for 30 days and get two free audiobooks.

    Check out my other blog posts on my favorite books:

    This post contains affiliate links.

    How moms can nurture a love for reading among kids

    With all content available in a myriad of forms and platforms, sometimes we parents wonder how we can instill a love of reading among our kids.

    Wishing to do so is not being out of touch with the times. Studies have shown that avid readers have certain advantages over their peers. Since reading is a more complex activity than watching video content on television or other gadgets, it helps to exercise their brains, improving concentration and imagination, as well as their vocabulary and language skills. A well-read child may have a better and more expansive understanding of the world around him and may be able to develop empathy for others.

    MomSchool 3.0, Mommy Mundo

    In a recent Mommy Mundo #MomSchool learning session “Raising Readers and Writers in the Digital Age,” mom and Keys School literacy coordinator Monica Lopez Javier shared some insights and tips on how parents can help foster a love of reading among their kids.

    MomSchool, Mommy Mundo

    For Teacher Monica, talking to your kids starting from early childhood is very important.

    “Talk is the foundation of learning,” she shares. “Through language, meaning is built.”

    She encourages parents to develop oral language at home, to facilitate kids in communicating and interacting with them. Kids should learn how to tell stories to learn how to put the things and situations around them in perspective or context.

    Some tips she shared include:

    • Respect their think time. Younger children take time respond to your conversation prompts. Allow them the time to process the conversation and respond to you.
    • Establish rituals of conversation. Make time when you’re available to converse with your kids. Set up long talks with the kids when you can communicate with them at length.
    • Talk about complex topics. As kids grow older, allow them to process more complex ideas as they communicate with you. When letting them talk about their day, ask them what they learned or what they plan to do.
    • Don’t shy away from trouble stories. Don’t raise your kids in a bubble. For example, tell them about the bad day you’re having and how you cope with it. They will be able to express to you their similar emotions as well as model their response to challenging situations after yours.
    • Teach them to listen. Kids should be encouraged to respond thoughtfully. Help them understand that when they listen, even to opposing views, their ideas can grow.
    • Support their language development through reading. Kids’ vocabularies are better developed by reading. It also through reading that they encounter fresh concepts and ideas. Parents are encouraged to read aloud to younger kids so that children will develop a love for words and imagination that reading affords. For older children, parents are urged to discuss the books that the kids read; this will help them process what they learn from books and develop critical thinking.

    Parents may be worried that buying more and more books may be a strain on the budget. Teacher Monica advises looking for libraries in your area where you or your kids can borrow books.

    Growing up as a child of a reader, and becoming an avid reader myself, I can attest to the hours of enjoyment and the fun of discovery that I experienced since childhood. Being a reader has also informed my writing and my current work in marketing and in blogging.

    Novotel Manila Araneta Center

    MomSchool 3.0, Mommy Mundo

    I’m proud that I have helped to instill the same love for reading in my daughter.

    MomSchool, Mommy Mundo

    MomSchool, Mommy Mundo

    This #MomSchool learning session held at the Ayala The 30th Activity Center was organized by Mommy Mundo, a community of moms dedicated to making motherhood easier, happier and more fulfilling for every mom through various avenues and activities. Upcoming events by Mommy Mundo for the year are slated on these dates:

    • March 16-17: Mommy Mundo World (The 5th at Rockwell)
    • May 17-19: Expo Mom Manila (Glorietta)
    • June 29-30: Expo Mom South (Alabang Town Center)
    • July 19-21: Expo Mom North (Trinoma)
    • August 3-4: Mommy Mundo World (The 5th at Rockwell)
    • August 31 to September 1: Expo Mom Central (Bonifacio Global City)
    • October 18-20: Expo Mom North 2 (Trinoma)
    • November 23: Expo Mom South 2 (Alabang Town Center)
    • December 6-8: Expo Mom Holiday (Glorietta)

    Want to be on your way to developing future avid readers? Below is a list of the books that Teacher Monica recommends for reading aloud to kids.

    Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

    My World by Margaret Wise Brown

    The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

    The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola

    Tom by Tomie dePaola

    Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

    The Cloud Book by Tomie dePaola

    A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams

    Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells

    Freight Train by Donald Crews

    Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

    Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant

    Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

    My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

    Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

    Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

    Stuart Little by E.B. White

    Matilda by Roald Dahl

    This post contains affiliate links.

    Love books and reading? Try Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. Signing up will give you unlimited access to over one million titles as well as unlimited listening to thousand of books with Audible narration. Get your first month FREE.

    No Kindle device? Download the Kindle App for FREE to read your favorite books anytime and anywhere.

    Header photo by Kim Sergeev on Unsplash

    My own customized notebook: thanks to the IFEX Paper Bar

    For a paper addict like me, getting a notebook that just fits my purpose for it is like stumbling into a gold mine.

    In terms of aesthetics, I lean towards minimalism: I prefer plains instead of prints, or single color designs instead or multiples ones.

    Imagine my delight when I discovered that I can have notebooks made according to these specifications!

    Where is this possible you may ask?

    At your nearest IFEX Paper Bar!

    IFEX stands for International Fine Paper Exchange, a Filipino company which is primarily engaged in the marketing and distribution of specialty papers, premium paper for school and office supplies, as well as art materials.

    Its fine paper products came into play when I went to the Art Bar of the National Bookstore branch along Panay Avenue to have my customized notebooks made.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    IFEX Paper Bar

    I’ve just gotten a Starbucks travel organizer for this year and I’ve been worrying about what to do when I use up its notebook filler. I’ve been scouring bookstores looking appropriately sized notebooks but couldn’t find any.

    That is, until I realized I could just have them made!

    Getting your own customized notebooks at the Paper Bar is just so easy!

    Step 1: Choose a notebook size.

    Available sizes are: A4 (210 x 295 mm), A5 (148 x 210 mm) and A6 (105 x 148 mm).

    I chose the smallest size, A6, as this is the one that would best fit my travel organizer. I ordered two notebooks so that I have another spare.

    Step 2: Choose a notebook cover.

    IFEX has a wide range of card stocks of various colors that you can choose for your notebook cover.

    I opted for two shades green (one at Php12 and the other at Php15) as these go with the cover of my travel organizer.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    Step 3: Choose your inserts.

    Depending on your purpose for your notebook, you can choose from among the high-quality paper inserts that IFEX carries. These include plain, ruled, dotted, grid, black, calligraphic, sketching and watercolor.

    I prefer my notebooks to not have lines (so I can draw diagrams or doodle if need be) so I opted for plain (Php65) and dotted (Php85) inserts.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    Step 4: Choose your breakers (optional).

    If you will use a single notebook for multiple purposes, you can opt to insert breakers from the available cardstocks. This will help make your notebook more organized.

    Step 5: Choose your notebook spine.

    To bind your notebook, choose a spine that complements your notebook’s color scheme. The double-loop metallic spines available in black or silver make durable binders for your notebook.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    Step 6: Personalize it (optional)!

    Your name or any text can be hot-stamped to your notebook cover for Php60. Choose from gold, silver, green, blue or embossed letters in either serif or san serif fonts. You can also pick the font size: from 16mm (up to 8 characters), 9mm (up to 14 characters) and 5.5mm (up to 16 characters).

    I opted to have my blog URL embossed on my notebooks in gold letters, consistent with the color theme of my travel organizer.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    IFEX Paper Bar

    Total spent on the two notebooks is Php267 which amounts to Php133.50 for each of the A6-sized notebooks.

    Here’s an A5-sized notebook I had made months ago.

    IFEX Paper Bar

    For my next notebook orders, I might combine dotted, ruled and plain inserts with cardstock breaks in one thick book which can serve as a planner, sketchpad and notebook all in one.

    A customized notebook from the IFEX Paper Bar is a great buy or even a wonderful gift for paper addicts like me! (I even gifted one to a friend for her birthday.)

    IFEX Paper Bars are located inside National Bookstore branches in SM Megamall, Glorietta 1, Shangri-La Plaza Mall and in the Art Bar inside the National Bookstore branch along Panay Avenue in Quezon City.

    For more details about IFEX, visit its website at www.ifex.com.ph.

    Complete Seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale to premiere in PH on HBO Go on September 15

    In the Republic of Gilead, fertile women are conscripted to serve the new goverment’s high-ranking officials by bearing children for the infertile wives.  Called handmaids, they are identified by their red clothing, their slave names taken after the names of the commanders they are assigned to, and every month, the gruesome task of lying in between their commanders and their respective wives, hoping to get pregnant and thereby prove their worth to this new society.  Such is the world in The Handmaid’s Tale, a TV series based on Margaret Atwood’s award-winning dystopian novel.

    The Handmaid's Tale S2

    The Handmaid's Tale S1

    The Handmaid's Tale S2

    Filipino fans of the book will be able to watch and download all episodes of the Emmy® and Golden Globe Award-winning hit drama series on HBO Go, HBO’s online streaming service exclusively available in the Philippines to SKYcable subscribers, starting September 15.

    Emmy® and Golden Globe Award-winning actress Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”, “Top of the Lake”), Joseph Fiennes (“American Horror Story: Asylum”, “Shakespeare in Love”), and Yvonne Strahovski (“Chuck”, “Dexter”) headline the series’ all-star cast.  Emmy Award-winning actress Alexis Bledel (“Gilmore Girls”), Madeline Brewer (“Orange Is the New Black”), Amanda Brugel (“Workin’ Moms”), Emmy Award-winning actress Ann Dowd (“Compliance”, HBO’s “The Leftovers”), O-T Fagbenle (“The Five”), Max Minghella (“The Mindy Project”), and Samira Wiley (“Orange is the New Black”) also play supporting roles. THE HANDMAID’S TALE was created for television by Bruce Miller (“The 100”), who is also the showrunner. Season Two of the series was executive produced by Miller, Warren Littlefield (“Fargo”), Moss, Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears. The series is produced by MGM Television and internationally distributed by MGM.

    The series’ second season was recently nominated for 20 Emmy® Awards, a series record.  It now becomes part of HBO Asia’s programming slate of Emmy® award-winning and nominated titles – bringing the best of Hollywood to Asia.

    Series details and images provided by HBO in a recent press release.

    Disclosure: I work for SKY and part of my job is promoting its products and services, especially the content it provides to its subscribers. I consider being able to share my love for TV shows and movies and the experience of watching and talking about them with like-minded people some of the biggest perks of my job.

    Check out my other posts on HBO shows adapted from novels:

    This post contains affiliate links.

    HBO Go not available in your area? Watch The Handmaid’s Tale on Amazon Prime.  Sign up for a free 7-day trial.

    You can also purchase the novel that the series is based on, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, at Amazon.com.

    Love books and reading? Try Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. Get your first month FREE.

    No Kindle device? Download the Kindle App for FREE to read your favorite books anytime and anywhere using your mobile device.

    No time to read? Listen to your favorite books instead while you drive, run, shop, and more.  Try Audible for free for 30 days and get two free audiobooks.