Monday, August 18, 2014


Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Series: The Queen of the Tearling, #1
Author: Erika Johansen
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Genre: Fantasy
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
My rating: 5/5


On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.


Peeps, I was absolutely blown away by this book, and as much as I would love to give you a detailed account why you should read this book, I don’t think I’d be able to adequately describe the magnificence of this fantasy novel to you without pages and pages of fangirling. You simply have to read it yourself. That’s all there is to it. The two main selling points to it, in my opinion, is that one, it’s rumored that The Queen of the Tearling is going to be adapted for the big screen and will be starring Emma Watson as the Glynn Queen (although, if you ask me, I think it would work better as a TV series – I mean, imagine Game of Thrones as a movie…), and two, there isn’t even a hint of romance to be found in this book. You can read more about the anticipated movie version of this book, here.

Here’s the long and spoiler-free short of it. Kelsea’s mother used to be the Queen of the Tearling. She was self-obsessed, vain, and didn’t care much about her kingdom and people. The only clever decision she ever made before she was murdered was to send her baby (Kelsea) far away to be raised by two people she trusted the most. Kelsea grew up learning very little about her mother, and not knowing who her father is. On her nineteenth birthday her mother’s Queens Guard fetched her from the cottage in which she was raised for nineteen years - the only place she had known her entire life - to take her back to the Tearling to rule it. At this time Kelsea’s uncle was standing in as regent, and because he is a stupid greedy bastard he wanted the kingdom for himself and tried to have Kelsea killed before she could be crowned as queen. Kelsea’s mother, Queen Elyssa, who wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed either, signed a treaty almost twenty years ago with the Tearling’s biggest enemy, the Mort Queen (aka the Red Queen), to leave the Tearling in peace. This treaty requires that every year thousands of Tearling folk and their children be sent to neighboring Mortmesne to work as slaves, and perform other unsavory acts, in the Mort kingdom. This all is the basic synopsis of the story, but you’ll find that it is merely a drop in the bucket as you peel away every layer of this brilliant story.

Rich in world-building, detailed history, and intriguing characters, The Queen of the Tearling is a rare gem. Kelsea is not so much an unusual character, but she is perceptive, brave, and intelligent, and I admired her greatly. Surrounded by enemies at every turn and with constant threats to her life, she keeps her head in every situation and many times reminded me of Daenarys in George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series. She’s blatantly honest about her faults and shortcomings, but is far from a Mary-Sue.

Many characters are introduced along the way and I appreciated how the author elaborated on each of them without it becoming an avalanche of info dump on the reader. I even felt sympathy for the characters who betrayed Kelsea. They were all so well-written. Often I took a moment to just sit back and let the writing sink in, and I frequently thought to myself what a skilled writer Johansen is. Sensitive readers should be warned that this book contains a relative amount of mature content, as well as profanity. It wasn’t overdone and fit in perfectly with the storyline, so it didn’t bother me at all.

As I was reading this book, I was thinking of all the things I was going to say in my review to convince others to take a chance on this excellent novel. The thing is, I can’t. There is just so much I want to say that it would be impossible for me to sum it up in one page. I took a chance on this book which I initially hadn’t wanted to read because I didn’t feel like reading another fantasy with a romance backbone. (I was very wrong about the romance backbone, so by the way – there’s no romance!). It took many positive reviews from bloggers I trust before I was convinced to read The Queen of the Tearling. Now I can’t wait to read the next book! This is not a quick read, but every minute spent reading it, is worth it. Johansen is a phenomenal writer and I’m now a fan who will be following her progress diligently.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014


Title: Hungry
Author: H.A. Swain
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Genres: YA, Sci-fi, Dystopian
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Ellen’s rating: 3/5


In the future, food is no longer necessary—until Thalia begins to feel something unfamiliar and uncomfortable. She’s hungry.

In Thalia’s world, there is no need for food—everyone takes medication (or “inocs”) to ward off hunger. It should mean there is no more famine, no more obesity, no more food-related illnesses, and no more war. At least that's what her parents, who work for the company that developed the inocs, say. But when Thalia meets a boy who is part of an underground movement to bring food back, she realizes that most people live a life much different from hers. Worse, Thalia is starting to feel hunger, and so is he—the inocs aren’t working. Together they set out to find the only thing that will quell their hunger: real food.

H. A. Swain delivers an adventure that is both epic and fast-paced. Get ready to be Hungry.


Imagine a world where food is no longer available, a synthetic cocktail replaces all nourishment and one gets inoculated to suppress the desire to eat. Add to this that people talk to one another through their electronic gizmos rather than through direct face to face contact, and dystopian society is the word that comes to mind.

Unfortunately, although all seem fine on the surface, the discontent of those for whom the inoculations and genetic tampering do not work all the time, as well as a few resistance groups, lurk just under the surface, waiting for the opportunity to start a rebellion.

The world building in this book is remarkably imaginative. The depiction of underground organizations like the Dynasaurs and Analogs, as well as how unrest starts and escalates, is highly realistic.

I, however, found it difficult to connect with the characters. The main character, Thalia Apple, is torn between loyalty towards her parents and love for Basil. Basil, unfortunately, is in so many minds about so many things, I ended up thinking of him as bipolar. No wonder then that the attempt he and Thalia makes at romance isn't exactly successful at first.

There is no shortage of action and suspense in this novel. Apart from a rapidly developing plot and the main characters' romantic interludes, this book accurately portrays the possible downfall of one corrupt power just to let in a new social order that could be an even worse alternative.

From a synthetically oppressed society through a mostly destroyed world, to a nature-worshipping cult; this book takes the reader on a suspense-laden, highly exciting, and often emotional journey. (Ellen Fritz)

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

GUEST REVIEW: ROGUES by George R.R. Martin & Others

Title: Rogues
Series: Anthology
Authors: George R.R. Martin & Others
Publisher: Bantam Books
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, etc
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Ellen’s rating: 5/5


Follow along with the likes of Gillian Flynn, Joe Abercrombie, Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, Scott Lynch, Cherie Priest, Garth Nix, and Connie Willis, as well as other masters of literary sleight-of-hand, in this rogues gallery of stories that will plunder your heart—and yet leave you all the richer for it.

The Rogues anthology contains following stories:
- “Tough Times All Over” by Joe Abercrombie - A Red Country story
- “What Do You Do?” by Gillian Flynn
- “The Inn of the Seven Blessings” by Matthew Hughes
- “Bent Twig” by Joe R. Lansdale
- “Tawny Petticoats” by Michael Swanwick
- “Provenance” by David W. Ball
- “The Roaring Twenties” by Carrie Vaughn
- “A Year and a Day in Old Theradane” by Scott Lynch
- “Bad Brass” by Bradley Denton
- “Heavy Metal” by Cherie Priest
- “The Meaning of Love” by Daniel Abraham
- “A Better Way to Die” by Paul Cornell
- “Ill Seen in Tyre” by Steven Saylor
- “A Cargo of Ivories” by Garth Nix
- “Diamonds From Tequila” by Walter Jon Williams
- “The Caravan to Nowhere” by Phyllis Eisenstein
- “The Curious Affair of the Dead Wives” by Lisa Tuttle
- “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back” by Neil Gaiman
- “Now Showing” by Connie Willis
- “The Lightning Tree” by Patrick Rothfuss - A Kingkiller Chronicle story
- “The Rogue Prince, or, A King’s Brother” by George R.R. Martin - A Song of Ice and Fire story


Starting with something resembling a deadly relay race involving a mysterious parcel that reduces a large part of a city to chaos and ending with the turbulent tale of the feuding Targaryens of Westeros, the stories in this anthology truly reflect the multi-facetted nature of rogues. In Rogues you will encounter wonderfully original villains: from a devious con-artist and thieving school kids, to a very clever art dealer, as well as several thieves who ultimately want to stop an evil god from being unleashed into the world.

Rogues is undoubtedly the best anthology of short stories I've read in a while. No surprise there as all the contributors are experienced, award-winning authors. Apart from the extremely high quality of storytelling, the sheer variety of incredibly imaginative settings of said stories make this an outstanding anthology!

I found the short story, Bent Twig, in which two rogues rescue a prostitute, rather touching. A Year and A Day In Old Theradane in which the theft of a whole street causes spectacular chaos in the city, was the most humorous and perhaps my favorite story.

Like Neil Gaiman with the Marquis de Carabas from his novel, Neverwhere, several of the authors trot out well-known characters from previously written work. Other writers again introduce brand new characters in the short fiction presented in this book. To me this was a wonderful opportunity to discover new authors and even new genres for my reading future.

Spanning numerous genres, Rogues offer tales of fantasy, horror, and the paranormal as well as mystery and historical fiction. This is an absolute must-read for anybody who can appreciate well-written fiction by truly gifted writers.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Title: Betting Blind
Series: Betting Blind, #1
Author: Stephanie Guerra
Expected Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Brilliance Audio


Some risks are worth taking.?

The cards are stacking up against Gabriel James: first there's Phil, the guy paying the bills for Gabe's mom (but not leaving his wife). Then there's Gabe's new school, filled with kids competing for the Ivies, Silicon Valley, and Wall Street, while Gabe's just trying to swing enough Cs to graduate.

Gabe's luck seems ready to change when he meets Irina Petrova: a hot violinist who is home-schooled by her strict Russian parents. When Gabe gets her number, he impresses the top guys at his school. When he becomes the drug connection for parties, his reputation is solidified. How else is he going to afford hanging with his new crew and impressing Irina? Anyway, it's not really dealing if you’re just hooking up friends, right?

Gabe's never been loyal to a girl before, but he finds himself falling for Irina hard. As the stakes are raised, Gabe will have to decide how high he's willing to bet on school, on friends, on Irina, but most of all, on himself. Mature content, ages 14 and up.

Title: TimeBomb
Series: Timebomb Trilogy, #1
Author: Scott K. Andrews
Expected Publication Date: October 9, 2014
Publisher: Hodder & Sloughton


New York City, 2141: Yojana Patel throws herself off a skyscraper, but never hits the ground.

Cornwall, 1640: gentle young Dora Predennick, newly come to Sweetclover Hall to work, discovers a badly-burnt woman at the bottom of a flight of stairs. When she reaches out to comfort the dying woman, she's knocked unconscious, only to wake, centuries later, in empty laboratory room.

On a rainy night in present-day Cornwall, seventeen-year-old Kaz Cecka sneaks into the long-abandoned Sweetclover Hall, determined to secure a dry place to sleep. Instead he finds a frightened housemaid who believes Charles I is king and an angry girl who claims to come from the future.

Thrust into the centre of an adventure that spans millennia, Dora, Kaz and Jana must learn to harness powers they barely understand to escape not only villainous Lord Sweetclover but the forces of a fanatical army... all the while staying one step ahead of a mysterious woman known only as Quil.

Title: The Graham Cracker Plot
Author: Shelley Tougas
Expected Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press


No one believes her, but Daisy Bauer knows her dad has been wrongfully imprisoned and that it's up to her to break him out of jail (aka Club Fed). She has a plan that she's calling the Graham Cracker Plot because it was all Graham's idea. She just needs a miniature horse, a getaway truck, and a penny from 1919—the idea coin. 

This funny, nail-biter of a novel is about friendship and admitting you're wrong. Debut novelist Shelley Tougas balances humor and warmth against themes of family, broken trust, and unconditional love against all odds.


Title: The Jewel
Series: The Lone City, #1
Author: Amy Ewing
Expected Publication Date: September 4, 2014
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd


A shocking and compelling new YA series from debut author, Amy Ewing; The Handmaid's Tale meets The Other Boleyn Girl in a world where beauty and brutality collide.

Violet Lasting is no longer a human being. Tomorrow she becomes Lot 197, auctioned to the highest royal bidder in the Jewel of the Lone City. Tomorrow she becomes the Surrogate of the House of the Lake, her sole purpose to produce a healthy heir for the Duchess. Imprisoned in the opulent cage of the palace, Violet learns the brutal ways of the Jewel, where the royal women compete to secure their bloodline and the surrogates are treated as disposable commodities. 

Destined to carry the child of a woman she despises, Violet enters a living death of captivity – until she sets eyes on Ash Lockwood, the royal Companion. Compelled towards each other by a reckless, clandestine passion, Violet and Ash dance like puppets in a deadly game of court politics, until they become each other’s jeopardy – and salvation.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Title: Thor: The Dark World
Starring: Christ Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston
Year: 2013
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Spoilers: None

My rating: 5/5


Thousands of years ago, a race of beings known as Dark Elves tried to send the universe into darkness by using a weapon known as the Aether. Warriors from Asgard stop them but their leader Malekith escapes to wait for another opportunity. The warriors find the Aether and since it cannot be destroyed, they try to hide it. In the present day, Jane Foster awaits the return of Thor although it has been two years since they last saw once another. In the meantime, Thor has been trying to bring peace to the nine realms. Jane discovers an anomaly similar to the one that brought Thor to Earth. She goes to investigate, finds a wormhole, and is sucked into it. Back on Asgard, Thor wishes to return to Earth but his father, Odin refuses to let him. Thor learns from Heimdall, who can see into all of the realms, that Jane disappeared. Thor then returns to Earth just as Jane reappears. However, when some policemen try to arrest her, an unknown energy repulses them. Thor then brings Jane to Asgard.

See full cast here.


When I told my husband how much I enjoyed this movie, he was quick to tell me that I probably only enjoyed it because of Chris Hemsworth’s golden locks, to which I quipped: AND Loki’s locks! Of course he was only kidding, but having watched Chris play Thor in several movies, I’ve wanted to run my fingers through those golden rays of sunshine more than once...

*dreamily stares into space*


*screeching halt*


Wait! What am I saying?! Okay, yes, hubby might have a teeny tiny point there, but that’s not the only reason why I enjoyed this movie! First of all, I didn’t think I was going to like it. I watched it on my tablet while lying in bed one night. I ended up enjoying it so much, I watched the entire thing until it was way past my bedtime. It had a great story, lots of action, and I even laughed a couple of times. Thor’s golden delicious locks aside, I loved the stand-off between him and Loki, and the subsequent finale with the unexpected ending. And there was that one scene when that thing happened with Loki and I was like nooooooooooo, Loki, nooooooooo! Whyyyyyyy?!  Expect a few feels is all I’m saying.

Plus, there are rumors that Marvel is doing away with manly Thor and he will be replaced by a woman. If this is true, who knows if there will be another movie where I’d be able to drool over manly Thor’s bod and golden strands of silky softness again? You get what I’m saying, right? Anyway, if you’re in two minds whether you should watch Thor: The Dark World, then I’d suggest giving it a chance. I did, and I’m not regretting it. Seriously, it’s not just the hair!

Title: What Love Is
Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Anne Heche, Mars Callahan
Year: 2007
Genre: Comedy
Spoilers: None

My rating: 5/5


When Tom comes home on Valentine's Day to a "Dear John" Letter from his girlfriend, he spends the rest of the night talking to his four best friends about woman, sex & love until five women show up and the battle of the sexes begins.

See full cast here.


One thing ya all should know is that I never read the movie summary to see what it’s about. With books I only look at the cover and title and then decide whether it looks/sounds like something interesting to read. But with movies, I just look at the title, sometimes the movie poster, and every now and then who the lead actors are before deciding whether I should watch it or not. As with many of the movies I’ve recently watched, I had no idea what this was going to be about other than love. Then at the start of the movie I noticed Cuba Gooding Jr stars in it, and I relaxed. I knew it was going to be good. And it was.

What Love Is was done terrifically. I loved how the first part of the movie is all about the guys getting together and having a debate about the pros and cons of falling in love, relationships, women, etc. The second part of the movie is when the women get together and share their thoughts and opinions about all the same issues the guys discussed. In the last third of the movie, both these groups get together and, well, things take an unexpected turn. The three things that made this such a great movie for me is that there were so many truths I could relate to in what was said about relationships and falling in love, because each character had a different argument for and against love and relationships. The second thing was that I actually laughed a lot because even though the issues that are being debated about are serious, it was done with a good dose of humor. Thirdly, I loved how it ended in such an unexpected and surprising way, not only for me as the viewer, but also for the most strongly opinionated characters.

I had so much fun while watching this movie, I couldn’t believe it when it was over. Ninety minutes just flew by! But you know what they say: time flies when you’re having a good time. Every actor played their part beautifully, and although there are no set rules for love and falling in love, I appreciated that I could relate to their arguments for and against love. Genuinely a great movie!


Title: This Means War
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy
Year: 2012
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Action
Spoilers: None

My rating: 5/5


Two CIA agents, Tuck and Frank who are also best friends, have been benched because someone's after them. Tuck is divorced with a son whom he's not close to and Frank is a ladies man. Tuck decides to try and find someone so he places his profile on a dating website. Lauren, a woman also looking for a guy sees Tuck's profile and goes with him. She later bumps into Frank and he hits on her and she goes out with him. she's intrigued by both of them. When they learn that they're dating the same girl, they agree to let her choose. But both can't help but use their skills to keep tabs on her and each other. And also sabotage each others dates with her.

See full cast here.


This Means War is yet another movie I started watching without a clue what it was going to be about, or who stars in it. I was looking for mindless entertainment to distract from a tiresome day, and entertained I was. The first five minutes of this movie is action-packed and I thought it was going to be an action movie (for which I wasn’t in the mood at the time). Luckily I kept watching, and to my surprise found it was actually a romantic comedy! Aaaaaaaand, Reese Witherspoon, whom I absolutely adored in Sweet Home Alabama takes the female lead in this movie. Her performance is not as spectacular as in Sweet Home Alabama and some of her other films, but she still did a fantastic job playing a blonde Mary Sue who falls in love with two guys who happen to be best friends and colleagues and who also work for the CIA.

Now ladies, these two guys, who also fall in love with Reese’s character (Lauren), are eye candy of the highest standard. If I was in Lauren’s shoes I also would’ve had a hard time choosing which one to keep. The antics these guys perform in a bid to be her first choice is absolutely hilarious! Honestly, this movie caught me by surprise. The ending is....well...not what my choice would’ve been, but still it was a good ending. Girls, this one is a must for a ladies-only movie night sleepover! 

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Monday, August 11, 2014


Title: The Girl from the Well
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Genres: YA, Horror, Mystery
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
My rating: 3/5


A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret - one that would just kill to get out. 

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as "Dexter" meets "The Grudge", based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.


Before you read my review, read the book summary first if you haven’t done so yet.

Alright. I take it you know what the book is about. Are you as intrigued by the book summary as I was? Those who know a little about me know I’m a huge horror fan. I love horror books and horror movies. According to the book summary, The Girl from the Well is pitched as Dexter meets The Grudge. Dexter is undoubtedly one of my many favorite tv shows, and I have watched both Japanese horror movies, The Grudge and The Ring. I enjoyed both (especially the first The Grudge movie starring Sarah Michelle Gellar).

I have no idea how this book can be compared to Dexter since he isn’t a vengeful spirit, but I see how certain elements in this story are similar to The Grudge. In fact, I think the main thing about this story that pushed all the wrong buttons with me is that too many elements in this book have been “borrowed” from The Grudge, as well as The Ring.

The second thing which made this book tremendously less enjoyable for me is the narrative. It’s in third person, which isn’t so much a problem for me, but for the first forty percent or so, I wasn’t sure who the narrator was. Only later did I figure out it’s from one point of view, and the entire story is being told by a three-hundred-year-old spirit. I only got used to this form of narrative towards the end of the story. It didn’t exactly endear the characters to me, and instead it made it harder for me to connect, or feel anything, for them. I found it implausible that Okiku, the spirit from whose point of view the story is told, would know what Callie is thinking, feeling, or seeing at any given time. She might be a ghost, but she’s not all-knowing. 

The third issue I had was the writing. I knew I was reading an ARC copy, so I’m not talking about the grammar or formatting. I’m talking about the way it is written with the jumbled thoughts Okiku has which hampers the flow, the sudden changes between scenes, and the counting. What the heck was up with the counting? I understood why the number nine would set her off on a psychopathic rampage, and I’m also sure it was intended as one of Okiku’s quirks, but eventually it became an annoyance.

The aforementioned were the things that didn’t work for me in this book. What warrants it a three-star rating is that I liked the idea behind the story, even though much was borrowed from the two previously mentioned movies. The ending was also absolutely perfect. The idea of a vengeful spirit becoming...less vengeful, and avenging her death in a somewhat moral manner, is a concept I feel is new and original (maybe that’s the comparison to the tv series, Dexter). Out of all the characters, Okiku was the only one for which I felt sympathy, as well as gratitude when she played hero. I didn’t care about any of the other characters, but this was mainly due to the writing.

I was hoping this book would scare the bejeesus out of me, that’s why I requested it for review. But, alas, it failed to do so. If I hadn’t seen the above two movies several times, The Girl from the Well would’ve had me sleeping with the lights on. The horror scenes and exorcism was written really well. The descriptions of Okiku in her vengeful form, and the other evil spirit inhabiting Tark’s body (the boy with the many strange tattoos), were also done extremely well, even though they are described as looking exactly like the characters in The Grudge and The Ring. Because of that, these two spirits didn’t faze me at all, and the horror element in this book was lost for me. But, if you’re not so much into the horror genre, and you just want a quick read to send chills down your spine, you’ll certainly love this book. There are evil spirits, a lunatic trying to kill her child, freaky dolls, Japanese lore, and an exorcism that will assure you a week’s worth of nightmares. If you’re a hardcore horror fan, though, this wouldn’t be the book I’d recommend for you.


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Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching.

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