Beach Reads

The rainy season has begun, and this gloomy weather has been making me morose. I long for the beach, sprawled on the sand with a book, with the waves lapping at my feet.

This summer was lovely; aside from my trip to Hong Kong with my family, I had a beach holiday in Bohol with my officemates. I’d reserved two books for the occasion: Fairy Tale Fail and Love Your Frenemies, both by Mina V. Esguerra. It was last summer when I read Mina’s book My Imaginary Ex, that time on a business trip, and I enjoyed it thoroughly, so this time around, her latest books were my top choice for my beach trip. I’d purchased the ebooks from Smashwords and loaded them up on my Nook.

I was on the plane when I read Fairy Tale Fail (after finishing off The Red Necklace — the flight was delayed), which features Ellie Manuel, a free-spirited twenty-something in despair because that her six-month relationship with “all-around good guy” Don Padilla, which wasn’t exactly the fairy tale romance it was supposed to be.

Relationship issue pile up, and Don breaks up with Ellie. Ellie struggles to cope with her now-single status, especially in the close quarters that is their workplace and their shared work friends.

Finally, Ellie decides to take a step towards a new life — she chops off her hair, and turns in her resignation, which her boss doesn’t accept but instead sends her to a different division at work. She also heads to Bangkok for a break.

A year goes by and everything is going swimmingly for Ellie — she actually likes her new position at work and is actually excelling at it, and she finds a friend in the office “Rock Star” Lucas, and one stormy night brings them even closer together. Except that Ellie is still bent on getting Don back.

When Don starts taking notice of the changes in Ellie and rallies to get her back, Ellie is ecstatic — it’s all she’s ever wanted. Or is it?

I enjoyed reading this story because Ellie was so easy to relate to, with her tendency to overthink, and how her character captures the classic¬† breakup reaction, well at least for me: the hair-chopping; the far, far away getaway; the getting busy slash self betterment phase; and even the desire to have the guy come crawling back¬† — although for Ellie it’s because she thinks she’s still in love with him, and for me, it’s usually just for the satisfaction of turning them away, he he he :D

I also like Ellie’s growth throughout the novel, starting out naive but stopping short of quick-bang-this-girl’s-head-on-the-wall tendencies, and of course, gradually realizing that love doesn’t come up in a neatly wrapped fairy tale.

Lucas’s character — the mysterious corporate rebel with a black reputation to match — was extremely appealing, which of course he’s supposed to be compared to Don. But I like that his personality is revealed a little at a time, and that he’s conveniently in the background but gives Ellie the space she needs to make her big realization.

I loved the coziness of this novel, so much that I wished I waited until we got to the Bee Farm (where we were checked in) because a few pages in, I wanted to kick off my shoes and sprawl comfortably while reading! And I’m glad to find that this novel had the same intelligent humor and the romantic flair that I loved in My Imaginary Ex.

Since I technically couldn’t (erm, more like wouldn’t dare) bring Newton out to the beach (salt water! sand! oh the horrors!), I started reading Love Your Frenemies the night we arrived in Bohol but the idea of being on vacation (haha!) promptly lulled me to sleep. I ended up reading this book in the van during our tour of the Bohol countryside.

Kimmy Domingo is back in Manila, after taking off for several months following a humiliating non-wedding after her fiance had called it off. Wanting to make a fresh start, Kimmy decides to distance herself from the people who contributed to the mess that was her life: her best friend Chesca, and her first love and childhood friend, Manolo.

She moves out of her mom’s house, and gets a new job, but somehow, Kimmy can’t shake off the people she’s written off her life. Chesca is getting married and wants Kimmy to perform her best friend duties, and Manolo always seems to be underfoot, turning up at the most inopportune moments. In getting her life back on track, Kimmy realizes she can’t get rid of the people she hates/loves all that easily.

I found this book harder to get into because Kimmy is a self-proclaimed “mean girl,” the girl everyone loves to hate, crying foul over a being publicly humiliated. I wasn’t really sold on the idea and thought I would have trouble relating to her, but as I got deeper into the book, Kimmy’s “mean girl” image fell to the wayside, as her feelings and insecurities come to the surface, and she became a real person for me.

It was only when I was writing this review that I checked back what I wrote for My Imaginary Ex, and realized this was the same Kimmy in that book! Mina Esguerra is full of surprises! I think it’s great that we get to read Kimmy’s side of the story, and learn what happens to her after Zack breaks off on their engagement.

I appreciate the author’s effort to transform a stereotypical mean girl into the protagonist, because it’s hard to write a typically unlikeable character and make the reader change their mind about her. I also like that this book is more than just about finding love, but more on self-discovery, as Kimmy accepts her past and embraces happiness.

Fairy Tale Fail and Love Your Frenemies were both lovely reads for my beach trip. I realize I’m making a habit of reading Mina’s books each summer, so I hope she keeps them coming — I’m looking forward to reading more!

The Chocolate Hills — still reading, haha!

***

Fairy Tale Fail and Love Your Frenemies, ebooks purchased from Smashwords

My rating: both 4/5 stars

Books #62-63 for 2011

 

4 thoughts on “Beach Reads”

  1. Absolutely LOVED both these reviews! Wow, what a bang up job you did!! I’m definitely putting both of these on my “too buy next list!”

    Thanks for the heads-up on these two lovely novels!

    Louise

  2. Yay! More light chick lit for my TBR, oh no. I’ve never read Mina Esguerra, and these reviews made me decide to try her books. They’re both on Amazon, and quite cheap too!

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