Book review of All’s Fair in Blog and War by Chrissie Peria
Reviewed By Prime Sarmiento
I do enjoy reading Anais Nin’s Delta of Venus, but I never did get the hang of reading 50 Shades of Grey (or erotic novels in general). Goddess knows that I don’t shy away from sexual (and sensual) reads (or otherwise 🙂 ). But I admit that I’m a romantic at heart and has a soft spot for cozy mysteries and chick lit (both of which after all deal with the lighter and fluffier side of love and romance).
So I actually welcome the offer to read and review Chrissie Peria’s first novella All’s Fair in Blog and War.
The novella was written from the perspective of twenty-something travel blogger slash virtual assistant Five Cuevas. Five thinks she hit the jackpot when she gets invited to glittering Macau for an all-expense-paid bloggers tour. Think majestic old churches, sparkling casinos, exhilarating bungee jumps, and the world's most unforgettable egg tarts. The trip is practically perfect, except for one little glitch. She gets assigned to be travel buddies with Jesse, the world's most infuriating photo blogger, and it's definitely war at first sight. The million-egg tart question: Will Five let Jesse turn her dream vacation into a total nightmare? Or will falling in love be on the itinerary?
Apart from the fact that it’s obviously about well, love, the novella also gives us a glimpse of the crazy and fun world of travel blogging and a “tour” of what is probably the last place that you’ll fall in love in – Macau!!! I mean, sure, we often associate this former Portuguese colony with casinos and being the best place to taste egg tarts, but “romantic” ? I don’t see Elizabeth Gilbert or any solo female traveler for that matter, doing the “love” leg of their EPL tour in Macau (Now Bali, is another thing…).
But then that I think is the beauty of this novella – that it enables us not only to feel “kilig” as Five and Jesse falls in love (must read: that scene in the coffee shop where they eat egg tarts). But more importantly, the novella makes us believe that it’s possible to fall in love anywhere if you’re willing to take a chance and open your heart. Oh my Goddess, I know, I know I’m in my woo-woo mode again.
The novella is a fun, light read, a nice “companion” in many of my solo journeys. It also transports me to that time that I still believed that love is simple and innocent. A time that was not marred by the cynicism that comes with age and witnessing (and feeling) too many heartaches.
And if you’re interested to get this book, why don’t you read the excerpt below and feel that “kilig” vibe:
I turned around to give Jesse a little "I told you so smile" as we brought up the rear during our small walking tour group. He was burdened by his kick ass camera set-up, large full frame Nikon DSLR with fancy schmancy, pricey telephoto zoom lens, complete with a tripod strapped to his backpack. Said backpack probably had a couple more lenses, too. He refused to answer my question when I laughed at him for looking like a turtle with the big-ass camera bag.
Earlier that morning, Javier showed up at our hotel without Chang. "Oh great, you have your cameras out," he smiled at the cameras we were all lugging. "That's perfect. There are a lot of UNESCO World Heritage sites near Ponte 16, so I thought we could spend the morning exploring them on foot instead of taking the van. That way, you can also appreciate the surrounding areas and take better photos, yes?"
Unfortunately for Jesse, the small walking tour Javier mapped out for us wasn't the short walk we all imagined. By the time we started climbing the stairs in front of the Ruins of St. Paul, Jesse was breathing heavily. If it were summer, he probably would've been sweating buckets, too.
I was tired as well, but I refused to let it show. Mostly because he was scoffing at my small Canon DSLR with its small lightweight lens ("Oh, a Canon with a 50mm. That's cute.") when I first brought it out that morning. So instead of commiserating with him, I made an even bigger show of happily taking photos. Much to his annoyance.
"These are the Ruins of St. Paul," Javier announced once we reached the top of the stairs. He had to put extra effort to make sure he was heard. Because it was a Saturday, we were surrounded by tourists, mostly visitors from Mainland China who were touring on a weekend. "The church facade behind me is all that's left of the Church of Mater Dei. It was built in 1602 but it was destroyed by a fire in 1835. Most of the church and the college beside it was made of wood, so other than the facade, most of the foundations, and the church's front steps, everything burned."
Javier glanced at his watch. "The Ruins of St. Paul is an icon of Macau so I know you guys will want to take pictures. We don't have much time, but I can probably give you ten minutes. I'll go ahead to the Museum of Sacred Art so they can get ready for us, but I'll come back for you, yes? Don't venture far okay?"
Behind me, I heard Jesse curse. "How the heck are we supposed to take pictures here?" He had begun setting his tripod up, but can't seem to figure out where to set it up. "Every where I turn, tour groups! I don't think I can get a clear vantage point of the facade," he grumbled. He looked around for someone to agree with him, but Megh and Simon had already ventured off, taking their own shots of the ruins and surrounding areas.
And me? I just shrugged. "There's no way you can get a clean shot." I agreed with him, but I still kept snapping photos. "Just make the most of it." Libby, during her pre-flight briefing, already told me about the tourist situation. I knew it was impossible to get a clean shot so instead, I chose to focus on candid street photography. Instead of laboring to exclude the tourists, I included them, with their color-coordinated hats and the banners held aloft by their tour guides.
"I can't believe you're actually enjoying this," he added as he held his camera aloft, trying to figure out which shot to take before setting it up on his tripod. I just smiled at his comment and continued snapping away, settling for candid shots of the crowd. I bring my phone out as well, taking a snapshot or two to upload on Instagram and Twitter.
The truth was, I was enjoying myself because I had a game plan. Thanks to Libby, I already knew which shot I wanted to take. I also knew that I couldn't get that shot now; I'll need to come back later. But of course, I didn't tell Jesse. I wanted that shot for myself. I could already see it as the lead-in photo for my blog's Macau series. And I'm the only one among the four of us who'll have it. Sure, it's not a contest, but that doesn't mean I can't be competitive, right?
"Ah, I give up," Jesse said defeatedly. He turned his camera's LCD screen to me to show me what he had. Instead of doing a wide shot, he focused on taking architectural details. The widest shot he had was that of the facade but taken starting from above people's heads. It wasn't the most impressive picture in the world, but it was unmistakably a photo of the ruins. "Bland, huh?"
"Yeah, that's pretty lackluster," I agreed distractedly, getting back to uploading my photo on Instagram. "Why don't you just buy a postcard at one of the souvenir shops down there? Those are much better."
Jesse let out a hearty laugh. "You really don't believe in sparing my feelings, do you, Five?"
I had the decency to blush. "What, you want me to lie and say it's pretty?" I argued defensively.
"No, no. Stay that way. It's pretty refreshing, actually. I'm sick of all those 'Excellent work! I love it!' comments, only to have it followed by instructions that want me to change everything." He intoned with a squeaky voice, "'It really is the best, but maybe we could make it more, I don't know, hip and trendy? Blue isn't hip anymore, I heard emerald's the Pantone color of the year. Maybe you can also use a fresher font? And the logo, I really think we can make the logo bigger.' Advertising. Not for the faint of heart."
I cringed at his depiction of a typical day at work. "That bad, huh?"
"Uh-huh, that bad. Actually, it's usually worse. So, keep putting me in my place," he added, ruffling my hair. "You'll be my sardonic little guardian angel."
I stuck my tongue out at him, a very juvenile gesture that has him laughing even harder. His last line felt like a backhanded compliment, but I found myself unconsciously beaming with pride at having received it.
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About the book author Chrissie Peria:
Chrissie Peria's first trip to Macau was in the summer of 2010. Like her main character, she fell in love there. Unlike her main character, she didn't fall in love with a guy; she fell in love with egg tarts.
An advertising copywriter in her past life, she now spends most of her time writing, taking photos, cooking and babysitting. She tweets about food and writerly things as @kitchencow. For thoughts longer than 140 characters, she blogs on http://thewriteside.kingdomcow.net. She still plays with dolls and she thinks that bacon is the answer.
This is her first novella.
You can get in touch with Chrissie through the following links: