What do you say to taking chances?

Click the banner to see who else has been talking about this #buqoYA bundle!
Click the banner to see who else has been talking about this #buqoYA bundle!

Today is the last day of the #buqoYA Taking Chances blog tour, but before I move on to sharing some excerpts and reviews, click HERE to join the Buqo special giveaway wherein one lucky Philippine resident will win a handy powerbank! Hurry~ because the form closes today as well. Good luck, guys! ^_^v

#buqoYA Bundle 1: Taking Chances | Whether looking for closure, proving their worth, or wondering what happens after a moonlit night, the characters from these stories will invite you to take a chance for love. Will they find what they’re looking for? Or will their hearts get broken? Step into their shoes and find out.
#buqoYA Bundle 1: Taking Chances | Whether looking for closure, proving their worth, or wondering what happens after a moonlit night, the characters from these stories will invite you to take a chance for love. Will they find what they’re looking for? Or will their hearts get broken? Step into their shoes and find out. BUY THE BUNDLE HERE.

All right then, moving on.

I signed up for the #buqoYA blog tour for two reasons: one, I wanted to support all the young Filipino authors who took the leap and put their work out there (it takes a loooot of courage, I tell you), and; two, I wanted to start learning all about blog tours because clearly, I have been out of the blogging world for an awfully long time.

In the first #buqoYA bundle Taking Chances, there are two stories that immediately captured my heart and my mind’s eye. I personally really like reading stories with characters, situations, and/or settings I can relate to, and the stories A Portrait of Jade by  Justine Camacho-Tajonera, and After the Moment by Six delos Reyes fit those criteria perfectly.

Here’s an excerpt from A Portrait of Jade:

“I’m the semiprecious stone in the family,” Jade thought as he climbed up into the bus. She was still affected by the car ride conversation she’d had with her dad, who had interrogated her on the courses she planned to take when she went to college.

“Dad, I don’t know, okay?” She looked straight ahead.

“Jade, why didn’t you start thinking about this earlier? Ruby was gunning for business management as early as her junior year of high school.”

“I’m not Ruby.”

“I know. We’ve been over that. But it wouldn’t hurt you to prepare for college early, right?”

By that point, Jade had already zoned out. Any mention of Ruby tended to make her hear white noise.

She adjusted her black-rimmed glasses as she looked for a good seat. It looked like she was the first one on the bus. That was because her dad liked to over prepare. It was a good thing, really. She decided to move to the back of the bus. That way, she could observe everyone coming in without being conspicuous. Or she could just ignore them. She was good at that. She chose a spot by the window. She was looking forward to enjoying the view. She settled into her seat and took out her headphones and portable neck pillow. She had a whole playlist picked out. She was ready to chill out and get some snooze time, especially because she’d woken up so early.

Baguio City is a place I hold dear in my heart. Sure, every time I go there now, I usually just enjoy the peace and comfort of our home, as opposed to when I was younger and I had more energy to explore the different sights the city has to offer. When I first read A Portrait of Jade, I was instantly transported to a time when I was young and still really excited about exploring and learning about a new place, and imagining the places mentioned in the story really set the tone for me.

I might not easily admit to it, but I find that I really do like Hate-You-Love-You tropes, or stories that start off with the characters bickering and then end up falling in love anyway. There’s always a sense of kilig when the characters (usually one party at first, then the other) realize they are actually falling for each other, and there are glimpses of that here. Glimpses that, when put together–just as Jade and Alexander’s collaborative project–make for a beautiful picture.

Without giving away so much of the ending, I must say my favorite part is where Alexander makes Jade realize how precious she really is; she only needed to see herself in a new perspective. In this case, Alexander’s.

P.S. I may or may not have had shed a tear or two.

Overall rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Plus points for: A sweet plot twist involving someone I thought I’d hate.
Because of this story, I wish I could: Go to PolCar Museum and linger in front of Portraits/Artifacts because it sure sounds like a masterpiece of an installation.
About the Author: Justine Camacho-Tajonera was born and grew up in Cebu City, Philippines. Despite starting a corporate career in telecommunications, she pursued an M.A. in Literary and Cultural Studies to keep her close to her first loves: reading and writing.

Her poetry has been published in several anthologies and local publications and she has published two books: Artemis Lets Go, a novella, and Gift, her first collection of poetry. She maintains a poetry blog, Claiming Alexandria. She works full time at a corporate job promoting e-reading in the Philippines, is married, and has two children. [ Find her on: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter ]

Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt from After the Moment:

This just in: the world is about to end, and aliens have colonized human hosts.

Or maybe not, but it seems like a plausible explanation for the recent turn of events. Otherwise, how else am I supposed to justify kissing Kristoffer Li under the moonlight?

To fully appreciate the insanity of this, you must first understand that Kris Li is miles and miles totally out of my league. He’s the school’s basketball star and I’m the local class freak. Everyone knows his name from fame, and my name is thrown around in infamy. He’s shiny white jerseys and I’m black hoodies. You get the picture. For three years we’ve peacefully coexisted without ever once having to interact, and yet, here we are.

Maybe there are some moments in life that simply defy logic and explanation, and no matter how you try to put things into perspective, they refuse to fit like the way pieces of a jigsaw puzzle should. That moment, that entire day, is one of them. A moment that simply does not exist unless in some alternate universe beyond our realm of logic and understanding. A moment that could only ever exist in books, and in songs, something very nearly alive and with a sentience of its own.

I still can’t believe it now, hence the matter of the world falling apart and aliens invading the Earth. But it happened anyway, despite my attempts to rationalize the situation and find something to blame for it. Everything happened the way it shouldn’t, and no, I’m not okay thank you very much.

Sometimes, I just really don’t understand the way the universe works.

Again, as was the case with A Portrait of Jade, reading After the Moment was a case of Instalove (hurhur, just gotta put that in). Why? The story’s set in the Cultural Center (of the Philippines)–another place I have lots of college and current memories in–that’s why!

The story also falls under the Hate-You-Love-You trope, or so I think, and I like how fluid it read. Because I am familiar with the ins and outs of the CCP, reading the story was like getting a walkthrough of the place during an event I could only picture as the Pasinaya with Aria and Kris as my reluctant tour guides. From the conversation by the street to the staircase, to the main theatre lobby where they line up to see a show, I could picture these two characters bicker between themselves, drowning amongst the crowd yet standing out as they write a masterpiece of their own.

There’s kilig there, for sure. But I didn’t only feel that while Aria and Kris’ conversations go through different phases of cold to warm, and even warmer (like can I get a glass of water here, please?) by the end of the story. No. I also felt kilig every time a reference was made to certain things during the festival, because I feel like I’ve seen or experienced it before, as well. In a sense, I could very well have been with these two characters fumbling awkwardly through their getting-to-know-you phase, and that’s an experience for me.

Overall rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Plus points for: A reference to a ballet pas de deux I could picture as Rock Supremo’s Lakambini by Ballet Philippines. Music by the awesome Ebe Dancel.
Because of this story, I wish I could: Attend next year’s Pasinaya, which I missed this year because WERQ. And yes, like everyone else, I would LOVE to read a full novel about Aria and Kris. Teehee~
About the Author: Six de los Reyes has been reading and making up stories for as far as she can remember. In fifth grade, she learned to wield dragons and phoenixes through written word. Her day job has absolutely nothing to do with creative writing, and she wishes it did. [ Find her on: Twitter ]

Support Filipino authors! There are four more #buqoYA bundles available here (each bundle sells for only P45.00!), and of course there will be four more blog tours for each of those bundles, brought to you by Oops! I Read a Book Again, so watch out for that. More excerpts from the Taking Chances bundle are coming up next! ^_^v

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