Book Review: The Mango Bride by Marivi Soliven

It’s a Monday where I should be writing especially since the LilDude (who’s not so little anymore; he’s a few inches taller than me already!) wants to take this day off like the summer vacation that it is. No driving him to this class or that. Just a day where he gets to do nothing at all.

Which means I should be writing since I’ve got deadlines galore.

But before I do that, I need to post a few overdue reviews of books I’ve read on Goodreads.

And since I just created a pretty mockup of one of them, I’ll post its review here. No spoilers although I have to warn you that the book as achingly beautiful as it is, dives deep into painful topics.

The Mango Bride by Marivi Soliven

I first heard about The Mango Bride on Twitter through Filipina Authors Book Club which holds book club meetings each month. Marivi Soliven was present and it was eye-opening to learn all about how the book came to be and how it’s going to be a movie soon.

The Mango Bride is a story of two women whose lives are intertwined although they don’t know it. And by the time they do, it’s too late. It’s a story about intergenerational trauma, identity, and forgiveness. It’s the loneliness of being exiled to the land of plenty (America) yet wanting nothing more than to return home in so many ways.

A lot of scenes hit really hard, with that been-there-done-that energy that for a moment, I had to check out Soliven’s age which turns out we’re around the same age and so much of the characters’ experiences I’m quite familiar with so in many ways. They brought me back to places and times I didn’t expect to revisit but that’s neither here nor there.

It’s literary fiction at its finest and every sentence Soliven writes is achingly beautiful and poetic I caught myself rereading them just to savor the beauty of the words. Although it was originally published in 2013 by NAL Accents, it’s experiencing a resurgence with the book being turned into a movie produced by megastar Sharon Cuneta.

Book Synopsis:

The Mango Bride
by Marivi Soliven

Two Women, Two Cultures, And The Fight To Find A New Life In America, Despite The Secrets Of The Past…

Banished by her wealthy Filipino family in Manila, Amparo Guerrero travels to Oakland, California, to forge a new life. Although her mother labels her life in exile a diminished one, Amparo believes her struggles are a small price to pay for freedom…

Like Amparo, Beverly Obejas—an impoverished Filipina waitress—forsakes Manila and comes to Oakland as a mail-order bride in search of a better life. Yet even in the land of plenty, Beverly fails to find the happiness and prosperity she envisioned.

As Amparo works to build the immigrant’s dream, she becomes entangled in the chaos of Beverly’s immigrant nightmare. Their unexpected collision forces them both to make terrible choices and confront a life-changing secret, but through it all they hold fast to family, in all its enduring and surprising transformations.

I hope you are all doing well. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and I sure miss it. I’ve just been doing self-care on my end which has often involved having to step away from the business of being an author now and then. For my sanity and my creative flow.

Speaking of creative flow, I need to get at least 1,500 words down on this book so I’m off. Until then, keep reading and stay safe. Ingat palagi.

On Reviews, Free Copies and Earphone-free Sleep

It’s been a few weeks since the release of Hot Boy Summer, a limited edition romance anthology that released on June 7 and I’m so happy that readers enjoyed Hudson and Arden’s romance.

It’s a perfect beach read and I hope you got to snag a copy for yourself to read and enjoy by the pool, the beach, or anywhere you’re on vacation. I actually have 4 Amazon copies up for grabs and all you have to do is drop me a note in the comments and tell me you want one!

Just a few of the reviews:

“Oh boy what an amazingly sexy, older woman, reunited romance. For a short story this sure had it all, the hope you need in any good romance. The tension, without it being unrealistic and an amazing ending to leave you with all the feels.”

Goodreads Review

“This is a well written age gap romance, with romance, dreams, intrigue, and is a sweet and swoony romance. I look forward to reading more from this talented author whose work I recommend.”

Goodreads Review

Thank you so much for your lovely reviews. I used to hate reading reviews when I first started publishing but I’ve learned a lot from reading reviews, whether they’re negative or positive, 1-star or 5-stars. When readers leave well-thought-out reviews, it’s their opinion and I appreciate it when they tell me what didn’t work for them. Sometimes it’s something I can’t fix (“this story just isn’t for me”) while others I can (“typos” or “not too much conflict”). I see it as a chance to learn something new about my craft and I’m grateful they took the time to write one.

A New Gadget!

I should have this in a separate post but whenever I think about doing something like that, I end up forgetting to write said post and then it’s too late to create one by the time I remember.

Anyway, I usually listen to the Calm app when I’m in bed. They have “sleep stories” narrated by some amazing people like Tom Hiddleston (Winnie the Pooh), Keith Morrison (“The Curious Case of the Overnight Oats”), to name a few. I’d wear my AirPods and fall asleep, waking up to find the left one fell out and I’m probably sleeping on it and in the morning, go through the covers to find that one errant AirPod.

Well, I discovered Sonisleep bar, a bluetooth speaker that you put UNDER your pillow and you can listen to all the sleep stories or soundscapes you want (or TikTok although I don’t recommend that before bed). While you can hear the music/sounds as you lay your head on the pillow, one good thing about it is your partner can’t. So it’s nonintrusive at all to whoever you’re sharing the bed with.

I’ve been using it every night and I have to say, I never get to the end of each sleep story (except for Winnie the Pooh). I’m usually out like a light by then.

Sonisleep bar (I’m not an affiliate – just wanted to share!)

So if you’re the type of person who likes to listen to music, soundscapes, or audiobooks before bed, this bluetooth gadget is definitely something to check out. I’m not an affiliate but I just love it so much I want to share it!

One More Chance is LIVE!

Meet Bryce and Giana in One More Chance, the second book in my Craving Hearts series and is LIVE as of today!

@lizdurano

All be needs is One More Chance to straighten out his life or risk getting disowned…. #romancebooks #smalltownromance #fakerelationshiptrope #readersoftiktok #romancebooktok

♬ Coming In Hot – Andy Mineo & Lecrae

This is my first release this year that’s not part of an anthology and yes, it’s a BIG DEAL for me! Who knew my burn-out would take almost three years but I’m happy to say I’ve finally built my ladder out of the pit and I’m so happy to be writing again.

One More Chance is a fake relationship, boss/employee small town romance and it sure was fun writing it. It felt nice to get back to the way I used to write my stories, disregarding whatever outlines or plots I’d written and instead letting the characters talk to me again. And boy did Bryce turn out to be talkative. He’s also charming even if he’s a spoiled brat but not so spoiled that the right woman makes him realize the error in his ways…

I currently have a blog tour set up here and you can learn more about the book and even enter a giveaway for a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Oh, and here’s a little excerpt that’s one of my favorites:

“Whatever happened to the playboy I thought I knew?” 

Bryce doesn’t answer right away but a small smile plays on his lips as he gazes at me. “I don’t know about the playboy but this guy right now is dying to kiss you.” 

“What’s stopping him?” 

“He’s shy.” 

I laugh. “And why on earth is he shy?” 

“Because he’s standing in front of a woman who knows what she wants… and he likes her very very much.” 

“How much exactly?” 

“Very.” 

“Can I help him overcome his… shyness?” 

“It would help, yes.” 

I want to tell him he’s good, so good he’s got me initiating the kiss but I don’t care. He’s made me forget all my worries in a span of a few minutes and think of only one thing: a kiss. I lean toward him, standing on my tiptoes, and kiss him. My lips brush softly against his as I wrap my arm around his neck for support. 

“How’s that? Is that working?” I ask, our lips so close together, his breath warm against my face. 

“I think so.” 

“I think it’s time we stop using words, Bryce.”

“I think so, too,” he whispers as our mouths come together again.

PICK UP YOUR COPY AT ALL MAJOR RETAILERS

Meet Bryce #teasertuesday

In two days, ONE MORE CHANCE goes live and I have to admit, writing Bryce Holden, Jr. turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought. He’s arrogant and spoiled but he’s also got a soft spot for his new-to-him assistant Giana Avila (she’s actually been working right under his nose for a year but he’s so full of himself he never even noticed).

While he’s not likable the way I just wrote him, he did grow on the page and I actually hated having to say goodbye so soon. I could have kept on writing but because of deadlines, I had to stop—which is a good thing because I’ve got three more books to write!

In the meantime, here’s a little teaser of One More Chance from Bryce’s point-of-view:

I peer over her shoulder as she resumes drafting. While I’m no expert in sustainable architecture, I know enough to recognize how deliberate she’s being with her design. Ever since my father let go of a few long-time employees last year due to subpar work that led to the firm losing two accounts, the new crop of architects he’s brought in like Giana are hungrier and less likely to commit the same mistakes.

I clear my throat. “If there’s anything I can do to assist you, don’t hesitate to ask.” 

“Sure,” she says, barely looking up from her work. 

I’m not quite sure whether or not to be offended for not being given the attention I usually get from the employees but I can’t blame her. I’m going to get the credit for all her hard work no matter what she thinks of me. But I also can’t stand here all day peering over her shoulder. 

“Anyway, I’ll be at my office if you need anything.”

Inside my office, I plop myself down in my chair before sneaking another glance at my new assistant. There’s something about her that has me a bit smitten, a feeling made worse by the fact that she hasn’t even give me a second glance like most women would have done. She probably knows better than to get herself involved with the likes of me. 

Now that’s beauty and brains.

One More Chance goes live on June 16 and is the second book in the Craving Hearts small town series. It’s a Fake Relationship Small Town Romance that’s more sweet than steamy as I return to my roots, in a way. While I enjoy writing steamy romances, I do like me some sweet romance, too, with a just a bit of heat.

Grab your copy from all major retailers here.

Hot Boy Summer: Meet Hudson

There are eight more days before Hot Boy Summer, a charity romance anthology goes live and I’d like you to meet Hudson, my contribution to this limited edition anthology. It’s available for a preorder price of $0.99 and all proceeds go to CASA and My Stuff Bags Foundation.

Fresh from her divorce, photojournalist Arden Royce arrives in Hermosa Beach just in time for Memorial Day weekend where the Strand becomes party central. Her plan is simple: relax and enjoy herself.

The last thing she expects is to run into Hudson, the boy she babysat one summer twenty years ago and boy, is he all grown up.

Hudson, Hot Boy summer limited edition romance anthology

HUDSON is one of 30 stories in HOT BOY SUMMER: A Contemporary Romance Charity Anthology that’s releasing in 8 days!

Preorder for $0.99 now! 🏖 https://www.books2read.com/HBSAnthology

Available on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and more!

Blurb:
Toes in the sand. Umbrella cocktails. Shirtless hot boys. One fleeting summer. Will your heart survive? It’s about to heat up in here…

Hot Boy Summer: A Charity Anthology is a collection of brand new stories from 30 amazingly talented authors. Each brings to the table their own unique take on the connections we form when we live wildly under the guise of momentary fervor. It’s poolside cocktails with little umbrellas, it’s island vacations, toes in the sand, and the shirtless hot boy making eye contact with you from across the way. Dive in and experience the sizzling passion that erupts in the heat of a fleeting summer.

HBS is a limited edition anthology collection and 100% of proceeds will be donated to children’s charities.

Check out the playlist!

ONE MORE CHANCE

ONE MORE CHANCE
Craving Hearts Book 2

by Liz Durano

#Contemporary #Billionaire #FakeFiancee #Romance #OneMoreChance #CravingHearts @Lizduranobooks

He’s gorgeous, charming, and barely knows I exist… until I become his fake fiancee and for the next thirty days, he’ll do everything to prove to his father that he’s a changed man or risk getting cut off from the family fortune. But when the line between what’s real and pretend gets blurred, where do we draw the line and end the charade?

Giana
It’s not easy working for billionaire heir Bryce Holden III, not when all he ever does is party and party some more all while I make sure all his to-dos on his To Do list get done.

But when he botches an important presentation after a wild night on the town, his father issues him an ultimatum: straighten up or get cut off from the family fortune.

So he proposes we pretend to be engaged for the next 30 days while he straightens out his life and in return, he’ll take care of my grandmother’s medical expenses. It’s a win-win proposition and as long as we lay low, thirty days will go by fast.

But when his mother insists on planning the wedding of the century, where do I draw the line and put a stop to the charade?

Bryce
When my father issues his ultimatum to settle down or get cut off from the family fortune, the last thing I expect is to hear him mention my assistant’s name.

Did he really mean Giana, my plain Jane assistant who just happens to be a whiz with blueprints and LEED documentation? The same Giana who’s always made me look good while expertly disappearing in the background?

So I give my dad exactly what he wants: I get engaged to the only woman he’s ever approved of.

Sure, it’s fake, and with everyone getting what they want from the arrangement whether it’s getting my dad’s very rare seal of approval to a hotel expansion that’ll exceed every green building rating in the world, what’s the worst thing that could happen? 

Add to Goodreads

Preorder Your Copy!

Liz wrote her first multi-chapter story when she was in 8th grade and it almost got her kicked out of school because of NSFW content. But the principal made her a deal. She wouldn’t tell Liz’s parents if she agreed to sign up for Poetry Club. Now Poetry Club wasn’t as cool as Drama Club but it was better than her parents finding out about her steamy writerly pursuits. These days, Liz writes women’s fiction, romance, and erotica. At least she’s too old to get kicked out of school for that.

AUTHOR LINKS
Website: https://lizdurano.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lizduranobooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lizdurano
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lizdurano/
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/liz-durano
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Liz-Durano/e/B013JB0L28
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9858074.Liz_Durano

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
https://www.silverdaggertours.com/sdsxx-tours/one-more-chance-cover-reveal-and-giveaway

HOSTED BY SILVER DAGGER TOURS

NOW LIVE! Seeds of Love Charity Romance Anthology

You can help us make a difference.

SEEDS OF LOVE is a romance anthology to benefit Ukraine. This collection of short romance stories is not available anywhere else. 100% of the royalties will be donated to United Help Ukraine, a charitable organization dedicated to helping the Ukrainian people affected by Russia’s invasion. They are a grassroots, entirely volunteer-based organization that provides aid to wounded Ukrainian warriors, assistance to their families, and support to internally displaced people.

This anthology features 45 authors. The stories include various sub-genres of contemporary romance, paranormal romance, dark romance, and romantic comedy.

SEEDS OF LOVE is only available for a limited time! Stand with the people of Ukraine and get your copy today!

Participating authors:
Amber Garr, Amy Thorn, Barb Shuler, Brooke Summers, Cassidy London, Cyndi Faria, D.M. Davis, Dakota Willink, DD Lorenzo, Denise Wells, E.H. Lyon, Emery LeeAnn, Erica Himy, Fei Marie Perez, Gabbi Black, Gabbi Grey, Hannah Blake, Heather G Harris, Jenna Lynn, JS Mercier, KA Graham, Kaje Harper, Kelly Kelsey, Lane Bellemore, LC Taylor, Liz Durano, LJ Evans, Lux Miller, Mel Walker, Miranda Grant, M Guida, Pandora Snow, Persephone Autumn, Raisa Greywood, Ramsey Savage, Shelly Hixson, Sophia Henry, Stella Moore, Syd Ryan, Tara Conrad, Tiffany Carby, Vi Summers, Vivian Murdoch, Willow Fox, Yolanda Olson

Add to Goodreads
Amazon * Apple * B&N * Kobo * Universal Link

Coming Soon: Seeds of Love

I just saw the ebook and paperback proofs and, y’all, it’s absolutely beautiful!

What’s beautiful, you ask? It’s Seeds of Love, a limited edition charity anthology I’m proud to be part of that’s releasing on April 26, 2022.

My contribution is Give Me A Reason and it features Todd from my Different Kind of Love series.

Ten years after she traded love for musical success only to give it up eight years later, Devyn Rosario finds herself face to face with the man she left behind when her van breaks down in the outskirts of Taos, New Mexico.

And when she’s offered an opportunity to participate in a local music festival, will she jump at the chance to return to the one thing she always loved… and the one man she’s never forgotten?

SEEDS OF LOVE is a romance anthology to benefit Ukraine. This collection of short romance stories is not available anywhere else. 100% of the royalties will be donated to United Help Ukraine, a charitable organization dedicated to helping the Ukrainian people affected by Russia’s invasion. They are a grassroots, entirely volunteer-based organization that provides aid to wounded Ukrainian warriors, assistance to their families, and support to internally displaced people.

SEEDS OF LOVE is only available for a limited time. You can help us make a difference. Stand with the people of Ukraine and get your copy today!

This anthology features 48 authors. The stories include various sub-genres of contemporary romance, paranormal romance, dark romance, and romantic comedy.

ONE-CLICK HERE: https://geni.us/SeedsOfLove

And if you read on NOOK (Barnes & Noble), they’re giving 25% OFF on all ebook preorders right now! Just use the promo code PREORDER25

Participating authors:
Amber Garr, Amy Thorn, Barb Shuler, Brooke Summers, Cassidy London, Cyndi Faria, D.M. Davis, Dakota Willink, DD Lorenzo, Denise Wells, E.H. Lyon, Emery LeeAnn, Erica Himy, Fei Marie Perez, Gabbi Black, Gabbi Grey, Hannah Blake, Heather G Harris, Jenna Lynn, JS Mercier, KA Graham, Kaje Harper, Katherine Moore, Kelly Kelsey, Lane Bellemore, LC Taylor, Liz Durano, LJ Evans, Lux Miller, M.L. Broome, M Guida, Mel Walker, Miranda Grant, Pandora Snow, Persephone Autumn, Raisa Greywood, Ramsey Savage, Remy Reigns, Shelly Hixson, Sophia Henry, Stella Moore, Syd Ryan, Tara Conrad, Tiffany Carby, Vi Summers, Vivian Murdoch, Willow Fox, Yolanda Olson

#RomanceAnthology #Ukraine #SeedsOfLoveAnthology #CharityAnthology #StandWithUkraine #SupportUkraine #RomanceReaders #TBR #OneClick #Donate #Charity #MakeADifference @dragonflyinkbooks

A Book Review: Dirty Bombs

It’s been forever and a day since I’ve blogged but I’m back!

I’m not going to bore you with the stuff that’s been going on with me other than I submitted two stories to two charity anthologies this morning which makes for the first 2 wins for 2022! Now I have to tackle the next 5 books in my To-Do file which means I’ll be in hiding inside the writing cave again.

… but not before I share one of my latest reads this past weekend.

It’s belated but congratulations to Dacia Arnold for her latest horror release, Dirty Bombs!

Here’s a quick overview of Dirty Bombs without giving anything away:

Army Staff Sergeant Miranda St. Clair is not having a good day.

Her husband could be having an affair back in the States and the enemy just launched a mortar attack on the base she’s stationed in, killing her roommate instantly.

As if things weren’t bad enough, zombies are suddenly everywhere (case #1: her roommate).

But Miranda isn’t one to give up so easily. She’s going to make it back home to see her 18-month-old daughter no matter what, and she’ll do everything humanly possible to get on the last transport out of hell.

I picked this novella up last Friday and read it during the weekend and can I say this was a really fast-paced hells-yeah-you-go-Mom-you read. Arnold kept me on the edge of my seat throughout with her no-nonsense heroine Miranda St. Clair. She’s definitely a heroine I’d like by my side if I want to make it through a zombie invasion (barring other things we can’t control and all…).

What about you? What’s your latest read?

The Play is the Thing

(or Where I Really Talk About Station Eleven)

I know it’s been a while since I’ve updated and it’s been an interesting couple of months. My personal life has been a rollercoaster but I’m managing. I’m also late with my new book and just when I’m about to give up meeting the third rescheduling of the release date, I remembered I need to put another book on preorder that’s part of a group project – so now, I need to get this current WIP done.

But what happens when you’ve lost the plot? When you doubt you can do a good job and so you just stop trying? What happens when the pressure of creating the best work you’ve ever created ends up killing the actual desire to do the work?

Fear.

That’s pretty much it. It’s the fear of failing for after all, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last three or so years, at times cloaked under the word burnout.

Still, I lost the plot.

Then I stumbled upon Station Eleven on HBOMax. It’s a limited series based on Emily St. John Mandel’s book with the same title, released in 2014, long before Covid-19. It’s about what happens to a group of people who survive a super-flu that kills 99% of the population. No zombies here. Just the flu and a pandemic that kills within 48 hours.

Twenty years later, what survives?

In Mandel’s vision and in the HBO series, it’s art. Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Paganini Pretty in Pink, a comic novel created from the heart that is interpreted different ways by the adults and children who come across it, and even a favorite character’s performance of Excursions by A Tribe Called Quest (@ATCQ). The soundtrack is beautiful and currently on repeat on my Spotify app.

Watching the series during the last four weeks, I’ve been thinking about what survives after a pandemic. Besides surviving, what else can arise from the ashes? In this case, it’s art. Because it has to. Maybe it’s just what makes us human. We seek art and so we create it wherever we can, pandemic or no pandemic. Perfection or no perfection.

It’s breathing life back into my poor WIP and it’s giving me hope that maybe I can pull it off. Maybe for once, I can stop obsessing over creating the best art and simply create it. Get it done so I can create more.

Maybe I can even make the deadline.