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Bookbed recommends: ‘Feels Like Home’ by Angel C. Aquino #romanceclassFlicker (plus an interview!)

by KB Meniado

Moved to a bigger, more exciting place to chase your dreams? Had a plan, a list and all that, but things went a bit south? Picked up yourself after stumbling, propped by some of the best people you’ll meet in your life? If your answer to any or all of those questions is yes, then the YA romance Feels Like Home by Angel C. Aquino has got you—whether college is a thing of the past or exactly your life right now!

This latest #romanceclassFlicker release follows 18-year-old Clara’s adventure-filled freshman year, and it sure did take me on a nostalgic trip down college memory lane. From the street of overwhelming school pressure down to the corner of snatching incidents in crowded places, I sort of relived the scariest and funniest experiences of my kolehiyala life. (Except that unlike Clara, I can’t add ‘moments with a cute, kind, and talented basketball player named Mickey’ here because, nope, didn’t happen to me.)

And Feels Like Home isn’t just about settling in that so-called big Manila life. Since Clara is from Pampanga (and her family owns a resort!), I got to visit through the story one of the beautiful provinces in my country…and salivate at the thought of all those mentions of delicious dishes and snacks! This book just doesn’t have the feels; it’s got the fills, too.

Check out the book below, and scroll further down to get to know the author.

Eighteen-year-old Clara Liwanag is a small-town girl with a big dream: to be a hard-hitting national news reporter. The only problem? She’s been stuck at her family’s resort in Pampanga her whole life. So she makes a foolproof plan to achieve her goal. Step One, check: Get a scholarship to study in Manila—the place where all the action is.

What’s not part of The Plan? Meeting basketball heartthrob and aspiring photographer Mickey King. He’s annoying, distracting, and always manages to catch Clara at her worst. But as much as she hates to admit it, he has a sweet, caring side that makes her think twice.

When Clara starts struggling in school and her plan falls apart, she wonders if she should have listened to her parents and stayed closer to home. Should she give up and go back—or face her fears in a city that could break her heart and her spirit?

This novel is part of the #RomanceClassFlicker series, but can be read as a standalone.

***

Angel C. Aquino is a freelance writer, editor, and content creator based in Manila. She brightens up her tiny corner of the world by writing stories filled with positivity, hope, and love. She is the author of two romance novels, Love at First Run and Feels Like Home, both available on Amazon.com or through this order form.

Hi, Angel! Congratulations on Feels Like Home. I’ve been waiting for this! I know this book has had quite the journey! Can you talk a bit about your process?

It was definitely a long journey! I wrote the first draft in 2017, and then went through several major edits before publishing it in 2022. It was a struggle to finish but it was also a huge learning experience filled with many joyful moments. 

During the rewriting phase, I enjoyed digging deeper into my characters and getting to know them even better. I also loved those “Aha!” moments when I felt like I finally knew what story I wanted to tell and where I wanted it to go. It was like surviving a tough climb up a mountain—like Clara and Mickey did in Mt. Pinatubo—and seeing the gorgeous view at the peak. 

I also enjoyed our cover shoot because I got to work with such an awesome crew! The cover model is my niece, Maro, and she was great at striking poses. Of course, holding the printed book in my hands and launching it at a live #RomanceClass event was a favorite moment as well! 

I too got excited when I finally held the book in my hands! There are a lot of things in it I can relate to, such as Clara going to Manila for college and just marveling at every fun and scary experience—snatching incident and commuter stories included. Did these happen to you, too? What was your freshman year like? 

I’m glad you were able to relate to it! And yes, I’ve experienced having my cell phone snatched in a crowded place though it wasn’t in Manila. It was during the Agawan Festival in Quezon province. Literally, na-agawan ako! Haha.

As for my freshman experience, I grew up and studied in Manila all the way so I’m different from Clara in that sense, but I channeled some of my college memories as I was writing the book. I studied in an all-girls’ high school so going to college in a co-ed school with people from different backgrounds was a huge shift. Everything felt scary and new, but also full of exciting possibilities. 

Like Clara, I enjoyed watching the college basketball games and rooting for my school’s team. We won the UAAP championship during my time and it was such a thrilling experience to watch the final game live! The school held a huge bonfire to celebrate and I was able to take photos with some of our players, including my crush. Siyempre, kilig naman ako!  

Clara is from Pampanga, tagged as the culinary capital of the Philippines. If this novella were a Kampampangan dish, what would it be and why?

It’s not exactly a dish, but I’d say it’s Kabigting’s halo-halo, which originated from Arayat, Pampanga. My mom is from Arayat and whenever we visited her hometown, I always looked forward to having this yummy dessert. When I was a kid, it was only available in Arayat, but now they have branches in Manila too! 

Anyway, back to the question—just like Kabigting’s halo-halo, Feels Like Home is a very sweet story that you’ll want to keep coming back to. It’s simple yet surprising, with only a few key ingredients, but when the flavors blend together, it leaves a lovely, satisfying taste. It will always remind you of home. 

Craving for the day unlocked! Let’s go to Mickey, our love interest with great skill in basketball (and in being sweet to Clara!). If he could build his own dream team, who would be in it?

OMG, I’m no longer into basketball so I don’t know who the good players are anymore. Can I talk about my BTS obsession instead? (YES, BORAHAE, HEHE.) I think Mickey will want a group of talented and hardworking players on his team—a smart and reliable captain like Namjoon, a cheerful and determined guy like Hobi, a cute and funny hyung like Jin, a straightforward yet caring guy like Suga, a creative artist like V, a sensitive soul like Jimin, and a golden maknae like JK!

Mickey would be the 8th member, I see! Now that’s a dream team I’ll for sure be cheering for, too. Now, let’s imagine Clara 10 years from now. Where is she, and how and what is she doing?

Clara is out there pursuing her dream: She’s working as a field reporter, going around the country to report on relevant news and events! Or maybe she continues to pursue the sportscaster track, covering sporting events and interviewing up-and-coming players. She starts out with local sports, and then moves on to the Asian games, and eventually, the Olympics! It’s tough work but she enjoys it. Of course, she is still with Mickey, who is now a pro ball player. She is his biggest cheerleader, and he is her biggest fan as well.

☁️

The reviewer WAS ONE OF THE BETA READERS FOR THIS BOOK. THIS FEATURE WAS NOT SPONSORED. Read our Review Policy AND SUBMISSION GUIDELINES here.
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