Category Archives: Mina V. Esguerra

Interim Goddess of Love by Mina V. Esguerra

Mina V. Esguerra is back, now with her new book, abbr. IGoL, and she is back with a bang. Contrary to her past novels, IGoL is not just a contemporary romance. It is also a YA book (her first! And I’m pretty sure that it’s not gonna be the last as it’s only the first book in the series!)

Here’s the synopsis:

College sophomore Hannah Maquiling doesn’t know why everyone tells her their love problems. She’s never even had a boyfriend, but that doesn’t stop people from spilling their guts to her, and asking for advice. So maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise when the cutest guy in school tells her that she’s going to have to take on this responsibility — but for all humanity.

The Goddess of Love has gone AWOL. It’s a problem, because her job is to keep in check this world’s obsession with love (and lack of it). The God of the Sun, for now an impossibly handsome senior at an exclusive college just outside of Metro Manila, thinks Hannah has what it takes to (temporarily) do the job.

While she’s learning to do this goddess thing, she practices on the love troubles of shy Kathy, who’s got a secret admirer on campus. Hannah’s mission, should she choose to accept it, is to make sure that he’s not a creepy stalker and they find their happily ever after — or at least something that’ll last until next semester. (As if she could refuse! The Sun God asked so nicely. And he’s so, well, hot.)

This book is probably one of my 2012 favorite reads so far. I mean, there’s so much about it that I know I should love, beginning with the little touches of Philippine mythology throughout the series (hello, Ms. Maquiling!), to a set of diverse characters that will not only make you fall for them, but make you want to be like one of them (I mean, seriously. Who doesn’t want to be a God/Goddess in their own right, even if it’s just temporary?)

I’ve read so many books before this, but you will notice that I don’t blog regularly. But as this is the Mina V. Esguerra, of course I have to review this one.

Let’s start with Hannah Maquiling, the series’ heroine. Being a half-blood (or a demigoddess), she was assigned by the Sun of God, Joaquin “Quin” Apolinario, to be the Interim Goddess of Love as the real one has gone missing, and someone has to take over in that position. Even though she’s never been in a relationship herself in the past, she gladly accepts the offer because it’s Quin we’re talking about and she has a huge crush on him. But what kept my interest even longer was reading Kathy’s storyline. If this is a film, Kathy’s role is probably just a small one; a supporting role — which is being used to drive the plot of the story. I’ve always liked character-driven stories, but this one I just couldn’t get myself to care care because I think it works both ways. It elevates the events of the story, and it also gives growth to Hanna’s character as the Goddess of Love. And it’s not just the three of them. This one, unlike Mina’s previous works, consists of many characters — diverse set, actually, that made me love it even more. Moreover, to the girls out there, there are so many guys you can squeal about in this novel. You get to choose. It’s like Team Edward or Team Jacob all over again.

Anyway, before I’d finish this, I’d like to say something else.

In my past book reviews to Mina’s works, I kept saying that I love her writing style because she keeps it really light. I would just like to correct myself. Mina’s writing style is not exactly light. The truth is that there’s magic in her way of writing that even those messages that should give the reader a feeling of heaviness, even by just a little bit, she can make it so light for the readers.

One example of those is this:

I didn’t see her much when I was growing up, so it was easy to forget that she and my mom came from the same place. Of course, they’d have similar habits, share the same vocabulary.

“Why do I remind you of her?” I asked, almost expecting her answer to be similar.

“When we were younger, I was always getting into trouble, and your mom would always try to help me,” Tita Carmen said. “But I wasn’t always happy about it. And she’s ask me why I was so annoyed, when she was only trying to help.”

Yeah, that was my mother. She was always doing right by someone, offering good deeds even if they didn’t want them. There was this one time —

“Wait.You think I turned into my mom?”

Because wait one second! My mom was the ultimate “will martyr myself for friends and family and bitch about it to my daughter when I’m punished for my good deeds.” I love her but it’s true, and I sat through one too many of these conversations. It was exhausting sometimes, getting that peek into my mother’s life.

So true! Sometimes, it’s hard for us to accept the fact that we are turning into our parents, because there are things about them we don’t want to be like. That’s the kind of thing about Mina. She can keep you giggling, blushing probably, and smiling or laughing even when you’re alone. But one thing that I really noticed: she can keep you nodding with the use of her words; agreeing to what she was telling you, and letting you see yourself in a way you probably haven’t even noticed — through her characters. Because that’s the kind of writer she is. She narrates the story lightly, but she’s actually, and definitely, heavyweight. 😉

Fearless Forecast: I have this feeling that we will get to meet the real Goddess of Love, and she will be an adversary for Hannah. Also, I think QotC is the next book in this series, and I’m guessing it means “Queen of the Campus.”

Well, those are just my guesses. Don’t take my word for it. I’m really like this when I got hooked to something: I don’t stop thinking about the possibilities of the story and its future.

I can’t wait to read the rest of the series, and I’m recommending this one to those of you who wants to see a glimpse of the Philippine mythology. I really believe, wherever you are, whatever kind of mythology you were used to believing at as you were growing up — Interim Goddess of Love has got no way of failing you!


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Love Your Frenemies by Mina V. Esguerra

It’s no secret how much I admire Mina V. Esguerra as an author. That is why when I heard that Love Your Frenemies is already out, I started bugging the closest of my friends to let me borrow freakin’ $0.99 to buy this e-book using their credit card as I don’t have one. Sad but true. But on the lighter note, a friend (my LL) let me use hers (or was that her sister’s). I quickly jumped to Smashwords’ website, bought it, and that’s how I got my happy ending.

Or was that it?

No, of course. My happy ending happened after I read LYF. I read Mina’s book and it was very satisfactory! From Mina’s blog, here’s the summary:

Kimmy Domingo was the kind of girl everyone hated and envied — until her fiancé dumped her a week before their wedding. Soon after, she quit her job, hopped on a plane, and just hid from everyone who knew her. A year later and she’s back in Manila to be maid of honor at a wedding she can’t miss.
Kimmy’s home because she’s ready to start over, but she also knows that some people at that wedding were responsible for the mess her life turned out to be. The first step to recovery? Cutting off the ones who caused her troubles to begin with: her best friend and her first love.

Kimmy Domingo was that girl I used to describe on my previous review as “that bitch” of My Imaginary Ex, Mina’s first published book. And I’ve got to say, I really hated her on that story where she played the antagonist. That’s why when I learned that Mina’s writing a novella about her, where she’s going to play as the protagonist, I immediately asked myself, “How is Mina going to pull that one off?”

But I never doubted Mina’s writing skills. Instead, I waited for its release, bought it, and read it! That’s how I’ve learned more about Kimmy; why is she acting that way, and what made her be the person she was. Turned out, Kimmy was a self-confessed bitch. She chooses friends, laugh at people, and only befriend some people she thought she could use. And those friendships didn’t really last long. There are only few people in her life that sticked to her ’til the end: Chesca (her evil stepsister) and Isabel (the good stepsister).

But being a bitch was so last year. She wanted a change, and that would happen if she will be able to get rid of her evil stepsister, and her first love who keeps on coming back and hurting her again. But what stops her? That would be Manolo — the guy she’s been in love with since they were kids and she couldn’t get over with, and the guy who thinks her running away and wanting to abandon these people close to her to be able to change is selfish.

But what is so selfish with wanting to gain her life back, and change the way life was like for her before? Well, she was gone in the country for a year, and a lot of things can happen in a year.

I loved Love Your Frenemies. As always, the story is believable, the characters are relatable, and the storyline is consistent. And Kimmy? Who would have thought that she’ll make a great protagonist? Well, not me. That’s why I’m so surprised to see how Mina was able to let Kimmy wear that title with her heads up, and no sign that it was done in force. Everything went as smoothly as they should be.  And Kimmy somehow reminded me of Gossip Girl‘s Blair Waldorf. The kind of character who is “a bitch but with a heart”. And Manolo (this name almost made me laugh but it really suit him well, I must say, that made me think that laughing about it is funnier than his name)… I like Manolo. He can be described as “a player turned serious guy”.

I’m looking forward to Mina’s next novel! And I’m hoping that this story would get a sequel. I want to know what’s in store for “Kimmynolo”.

I really recommend you guys to buy this e-book on Amazon, or Smashwords! It’s really fun following the story, and it holds great values! You don’t have to read My Imaginary Ex to be able to understand this story. This deserves a five star rating out of five! Cheers!


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Interview: Mina V. Esguerra

Mina V. Esguerra is an author who writes chick lit set in the Philippines, written in English. By now she have three novels out: My Imaginary Ex, Fairy Tale Fail, and No Strings Attached. Check her out on her website.

1.   What inspired you to write?

I think I got the idea because Elizabeth Wakefield from Sweet Valley High wanted so much to be one.

2.   What kind of preparation do you usually do before writing? Like rituals, etc.

I’m on a laptop or netbook most hours of the day as it is, so working and writing me wouldn’t look any different to someone who happens to pass by. I do like to plot stuff in my head before I write it down though, and it usually happens when I’m sitting in moving vehicles.

3.   How did you feel when you got in hand your first published book?

Glee. A friend sent me a text that she saw it in a bookstore; didn’t even know it was out already.

4.   Which of your books were the fastest, the easiest, and the hardest to write?

Fastest and easiest–My Imaginary Ex. It’s based on a short story I wrote in college so most of the plot points I had already worked out. Draft took about four weeks to finish.

Hardest–the yet-to-be-published Love Your Frenemies because the main character here was a “villain” in a previous book, and I didn’t want to change the way she was.

5.   From your books, who is your most favorite character?

Tonio from No Strings Attached (but of course I like Zack, Lucas, and Dante, too.)

6.   Was there any character in your books which was inspired by, if not living, a real person?

Almost all of them are but so much changes in writing that even if they read it, they probably wouldn’t recognize themselves in it. Most of the names are of actual people I went to elementary and high school with.

7.   If there are any similarities between your female book leads, what would it/they be?

Oh, they’re all smart and beautiful to me.

8.   I should give you credit for the creative titles of your books. How hard was it to think of a title?

It’s the most difficult part of the process, for me. My editor gets credit for No Strings Attached, though.

9.   Who are your favorite authors, and why?

Jhumpa Lahiri (she knows how to do quiet pain), Neil Gaiman (love his imagination), Arundhati Roy (her book got me to read regularly again), Stieg Larsson (most recent provider of thrills). And must give shoutouts to YA authors Christopher Pike and Sheri Cobb South. Love them and was influenced much by them growing up.

10.  Who are your favorite book characters from what books?

Most recently, Mikhail Blomkvist from the Millennium trilogy. In my mind, I cast George Clooney in the part.

11.  What books are you currently reading?

[Charles] Dickens’ Great Expectations. Also, [I’m] in the middle of Switched by Amanda Hocking.

12.  What book do you wish you had written?

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai, Booker Prize winner from a few years ago.

13.  Are you working on your next novel? If yes, will you please give us a short teaser?

Love Your Frenemies is about Kimmy Domingo, “that bitch” from My Imaginary Ex. She took a year off to get away from certain people, and is back in Manila to start over — and to attend the wedding of her best friend.

14.  Any advice for aspiring writers?

Not directly to do with writing, but here it is — start getting rid of that fear of being read and judged by other people. It won’t ever stop anyway, no matter how much you improve, so just learn to take it and deal with it. 🙂

You can also follow Mina V. Esguerra on Twitter, and like her on Facebook!


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My Imaginary Ex by Mina V. Esguerra

Enjoyable, intriguing, and breath-taking.

Its synopsis says:

When Zack asks Jasmine to pretend to be his ex-girlfriend, she gamely agrees, thinking it would be fun. A few years later, she still has to keep convincing people that they were never together! Then one day, she finds out he’s getting married—to someone she’d just met once! All of a sudden, things aren’t so clear-cut anymore. Can Jasmine sort out her feelings (sometimes, she can’t even tell real from pretend when it comes to her and Zack) before it’s too late?

I really enjoyed this novella by Mina V. Esguerra. At the beginning, I must admit that I didn’t understand how the story really goes. I was like, “What the hell is happening?” when Lena tells Jasmine that she wants her to break Zack and Kimmy up. I was confused at first but it is totally understandable because the story was written in a nonlinear narrative way. But along the confusion is the intrigued feeling. The way it was written made me want to keep on turning pages and continue exploring the story. And by continuing reading, I learned that the story is complete with characters such as the protagonist, the love interest, the interesting side characters/accomplice, and the antagonist. And I must say, the antagonist, Kimmy, that bitch, really did piss me off! However, what truly took my breath away was when Zack and Jasmine finally made up and had that wild sex. That’s why I gave this short novel a five-star-rating!

Intelligent writing! I definitely recommend you guys to buy this one! Or at least, you who live here in the Philippines. (It’s not available outside the country 😦 ) On the good note, it gets five out of five stars from me!

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No Strings Attached by Mina V. Esguerra

No Strings AttachedMina V. Esguerra‘s latest addition to her Minaverse, didn’t fail us.

The story focused on Carla Alejandro and the issues she’s faced before she even turned thirty: dating a guy who is five years younger than she is and who she doesn’t have much in common with, having two best friends who have very contrasting personalities from each other and from her as well, and being one of the two single people in a barkada (circle of friends) who all have settled down already and wants her to do the same thing.

I can’t say that I was able to relate to the story but just like the other stories from Esguerra’s universe, No Strings Attached‘s story is realistic, and Carla’s voice was enjoyable to follow.

It’s funny how much Carla thinks that dating a guy who is younger by five years than her is a big deal. I find it that way because I know a couple (real life speaking) who are dating each other, has fifteen years age difference from one another, and still they seemed so perfect and happy together. Or at least that’s what I think of them whenever I see them–perfect. I’ll never know what’s really happening in their relationship, right?

Here’s the synopsis:

Carla is a whiz at her job: she’s efficient, reliable, and a total genius when it comes to putting something together at the last minute. The snag is she’s single and turning the big three-oh in a few months. Her girl best friend (yes, she’s married just like the other girls in Carla’s barkada) keeps trying to set her up with stable banker-types, while her guy best friend (single – the other single one) encourages her to play the field – no strings attached.

Then, through no set up or extraordinary circumstance, Carla meets Dante. Hot, smug, sexy Dante. Definitely not a banker-type and seemingly too good to be true. So there’s got to be a catch. There is. He’s five years younger. Is the universe telling Carla to finally let loose and enjoy a fling with a younger man? Or is there a lot more to this awkward situation that she bargained for?

I find No Strings Attached different from the other stories Mina wrote. Or any other chick-lit novels that I’ve read for that matter. It didn’t focus about figuring out who the heroine should end up with, or about a girl who is running after a guy. Its focus is on the consequences two people should face by creating their own rules, and how other people’s opinions shouldn’t matter when two people are trying to build a better relationship. It really is a unique story but I’m pretty sure that girls who would read this would be able to relate to it somehow.

Here’s one of my many favorite parts of the story:

My seatmate touched my messenger bag, which had been on my lap, and nudged me. “It’s you!”

“That’s not my ringtone,” I said.

“It’s coming from your bag.”

I fished through the outside pocket and true enough, I pulled out a phone I didn’t recognize. It kept ringing still, caller ID flashing, “MOM.”

Oh shit. I picked up the call and knew who it was going to be.

“You have my phone,” Dante said.

“You put it in my bag!”

“You’re going to have to return that.”

“I don’t have to do anything.”

“You can either give the phone back to me through my mom, when you get back to work tomorrow, or meet me and give it to me yourself.”

Though I had only known him for a day, I could imagine rather vividly what he looked like as he told me all this. From tousled hair to a mischievous “who me?” grin, to sunburned cheekbones. I blinked and tried to get the image out of my head. “Or I could just keep this. It’s a nice phone.”

“I don’t think you’re a thief.”

“You don’t know me at all!”

“I know you’re very efficient. If you don’t return it to my mom, I’ll call you again and tell you where to meet me. See you soon, Carla.”

I hit the “end call” button without saying goodbye, but only because I didn’t know what to say. Should I be mad? Should I remind him that I meant what I said and didn’t want to see him?”

I never did get to figure that out, but I was smiling as I napped on the long drive back home.

This book may have a title called No Strings Attached but I’m pretty sure you’ll be attached to its story. Have fun reading! This gets four-star rating out of five! 🙂


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Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra

Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra First of all, I would just like to inform you all that this is the first book I was able to read so I think it’s reasonable why I chose this as the first book I’ll feature here in my blog. Also, one factor is that I really got hooked by its story. This is also the book that made me want to read more. Thankfully, I was able to catch Mina V. Esguerra‘s post on her Facebook page saying that she’s giving away this as “gift” for the Philippines’ Independence day. Along with the post is the code which made downloading it for free possible. Immediately, I signed up at Smashwords, downloaded this e-book, and read it. For two to three hours, I was able to finish the book, complete with CR breaks, and snack break.

Here’s its synopsis:

Of all the twenty-something women who are hopeless romantics, Ellie Manuel is more “hopeless” than “romantic.”

Even after her Prince Charming broke up with her, she just won’t give up … because fairy tale heroines don’t live “happily ever after” right away, silly, they’re tested first!

Determined to pass the test, she spends the next year restoring herself to the girl Prince Charming had fallen in love with in the first place.

Until she discovers that life without him might not be so bad after all: her career is taking off, her confidence is back, and the cute guy at work is no longer a stranger.

So when is it okay to quit on a fairy tale?

At some point while I was reading the story, I thought Ellie is going to be just another typical chick lit heroine who wanted nothing else but to be a fairy tale princess. And I thought right! Maybe there was this line when Ellie said “[she] wasn’t obsessed with being a fairy tale princess” but that was not the truth. Well, at least at the beginning. Having said that, I still really enjoyed reading it.

Here’s one of my many favorite parts of the story:

“Some people are just better as friends,” Lucas said. “Maybe that’s the lesson you have to learn too.”

“Hey my therapy time is over. This is your time now.”

“What I’m saying,” Lucas said, clearing his throat, “is that being friends with someone doesn’t mean they’ll always be loyal to you. Or that they’ll always be the kind of person you knew.”

Mina V. Esguerra did a great job writing Fairy Tale Fail! Reading it wasn’t like I’m reading it at all. Rather, it was like somebody’s telling me the story inside my head. (Or maybe that’s what really happens when you read with your eyes and not with your mouth.) Also, I loved how the story between Ellie and Lucas evolved from being somewhat-strangers, to friends, to something more. And the two of them are very, very likeable!

I’m giving this novel a four-star rating… But why did I give it four stars instead of five? Because the story will leave you craving for more! And I hate hunger…

This is an interesting story! I’m sure everyone will love this!


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