Bookbed reviews ‘Ocean Eyes’ by Six de los Reyes (#summercrush Anthology)

by Allana Luta

THE STORY

Beach. Love. Rock and roll.

When life, love, and rock and roll come together on the sandy beaches of La Union for music festival Summer Crush, expect nothing less than the crashing of lips, bodies, and waves against the shore, against each other, and against your soul.

Allow these three tales of love to take you away for an unforgettable weekend.

Ana’s life as a corporate warrior, graduate student, and girlfriend to indie rock band boy Miki starts to spin out of control, and she wonders if it is love that has to give. (You Only Need Reminding, Jay E. Tria)

Newly reinstated EG Project roadie Filipina Legaspi flies with her band back to the Philippines for Summer Crush, unaware of the emotional waves that engulf her when she sets foot in the beaches of San Juan, La Union. (Almost There, Tara Frejas)

Rhys has three problems: Arabella, the theme song with the Trainguy, and singing live for the first time—and now also on that list is Isaiah, sea-sweet Mango Rum kisses, and long overdue decisions she’s intent on avoiding. (Ocean Eyes, Six de los Reyes) Get a copy: Amazon (ebook) / Read reviews: Goodreads

WHAT I LIKED

The one thing that really stayed with me long after I finished reading Ocean Eyes was Six’s writing, specifically her description of the crowd dancing along to Rhys’s set. Rhys is a DJ (most of the time) whose superpower is willing people’s bodies to move to her music even without their express permission. The way Six described her music was just gorgeous.

“Lines of neon colors slither through the air in frenzied swirls. Currents of energy interconnected by blood, sweat, and tears bringing to life a single collective entity, a superorganism made of flailing limbs and intertwining sweat-slick bodies hive-minded by the beats and the sounds. Magenta flows in, delivering malice urgency, and lust; cyan flows out, collecting regret, melancholy, and pain; and yellow sparks in between, triggering feelings previously unknown. To the rhythm of its throbbing, all parts of this superorganism flares up and writhes. Midnight is fast ending—the night is just about to begin.”

And that was only at the beginning of her set.

Rhys herself is an interesting character. She’s unapologetic, stubborn to a fault, and definitely imperfect. She might have been a genius when it came to music production, but she was still insecure in other aspects of her life, particularly in her we’re-together-but-not “thing” with Ryan, her boyfriend, if she could call him that. And I thought the parallelism between Arabella’s uncertainties towards their worth and Rhys’ doubts on her own relationship with Ryan was a nice touch.

I also loved that Rhys was somewhat of a tsundere, ice cold on the outside but actually warm and caring on the inside. Franklin, Arabella’s guitarist, was on to something when he guessed that she was fluffy on the inside at the very beginning of the story. I don’t think “fluffy” is the right word to describe Rhys, though; passionate, maybe, or sympathetic, especially when she felt like she could relate to Arabella’s situation personally.

“She doesn’t have to. It isn’t her job. But no one else was paying attention to Adrian and Michael Brian, and god help her, she felt sorry for the world if the rest of humanity were never to hear these guys and their music.”

“She sees in them the shadow of her younger self, clamoring for attention and validation. If all they want is to be heard, then Rhys will provide the amplifiers.”

I mean, just look at this tsundere.

(Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.) Also Isaiah, Rhys’ love interest in Ocean Eyes, I feel like was the second male lead in the drama that is Rhys’ love life for so long that even though I had no idea what they had gone through prior to the events in Ocean Eyes, I still felt relieved that Rhys finally gave in and admitted that she liked him back and she was willing to sacrifice a lot for them to work. I have second male lead syndrome, so this was really satisfying to read.

And lastly, Franklin. Franklin is adorable.

HOWEVER

Since Ocean Eyes is just a short story based on  an existing universe with its own novel, I felt like there was an overload of characters that weren’t introduced well enough to a first time reader of Six’s work. Whenever someone was added to the story, I kind of just glazed over them because they weren’t integral to Rhys and Isaiah’s unfolding relationship. They were just names that distracted from the main plot. But I do realize that for long time readers and fans, they were all probably well-planted Easter eggs that made for good fan service.

tl;dr

Though short and a little confusing for first time readers, Ocean Eyes left enough information out of the plot to be intriguing and entice readers to explore the history of Rhys’ relationships with Isaiah and Ryan. Those well-acquainted with Rhys and Isaiah and the gang, on the other hand, will find this more than entertaining. But with Six de los Reyes’ exquisite writing, everyone is going to want to know what’ll happen next. 

This is part of the three-part review for the book. Bookbed received an ebook from the authors as part of the blog tour. Read our Review Policy here.

Bookbed reviews ‘You Only Need Reminding’ by Jay E. Tria (#summercrush Anthology)

by Twila Bergania

THE STORY

Beach. Love. Rock and roll.

When life, love, and rock and roll come together on the sandy beaches of La Union for music festival Summer Crush, expect nothing less than the crashing of lips, bodies, and waves against the shore, against each other, and against your soul.

Allow these three tales of love to take you away for an unforgettable weekend.

Ana’s life as a corporate warrior, graduate student, and girlfriend to indie rock band boy Miki starts to spin out of control, and she wonders if it is love that has to give. (You Only Need Reminding, Jay E. Tria)

Newly reinstated EG Project roadie Filipina Legaspi flies with her band back to the Philippines for Summer Crush, unaware of the emotional waves that engulf her when she sets foot in the beaches of San Juan, La Union. (Almost There, Tara Frejas)

Rhys has three problems: Arabella, the theme song with the Trainguy, and singing live for the first time—and now also on that list is Isaiah, sea-sweet Mango Rum kisses, and long overdue decisions she’s intent on avoiding. (Ocean Eyes, Six de los Reyes) Get a copy: Amazon (ebook), via the author (print) / Read reviews: Goodreads

WHAT I LIKED

You Only Need Reminding starts off with Ana surprising Miki minutes before his band leaves for La Union. She’s your typical overachieving career woman who’s trying her best to balance work, school, and what could be perceived as remnants of her social life. She admits she often neglects Miki and feels guilty for spending less time with him when all this time he’s been the best, most supportive boyfriend ever. I instantly felt a connection with the character. We’ve all been there anyway, on the cusp of success not knowing if what we’re doing is bound to do us any good in the future, and sacrificing parts of ourselves for a dream we think we’ve always wanted.

(Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.) I especially loved that scene where Ana finally breaks down over a bag of spilled Nips that Miki left on her work desk because, yes, there are bad days that are aggravated by the littlest of things, like when the light bulb in your condo suddenly dies on you after a long, stressful workday. That scene was so raw, and so real.

As for Summer Crush in its entirety, I loved that the book had elements that kept popping up during the least expected times. There’s the ever present cat, the Mango Mojitos, the beautiful La Union beach, the Landian and Kilig Stages which I thought were GENIUS names for a music fest setup and the ‘pislabrakenrol’ guy who in my head looked like Empoy but was apparently written with Pepe Herrera in mind. It was fun looking out for the interconnected parts of each story.

The other characters were also placed strategically all throughout the book that it almost felt like a “Where Is Waldo” game. Miki’s interaction with Rhys and Ana’s quick inuman session with Fi and Isaiah (who are characters from the other two stories, Almost There and Ocean Eyes) was definitely a delight to read. Oh, and that Afterparty chapter was amazing too! Overall, you can clearly just how well these authors collaborated and I can just imagine how much fun it was for them to write the whole series.

HOWEVER

I guess if there’s anything I’ve noticed in the entirety of the book that needs improvement it’s that the descriptions we’re sort of lacking. I found it hard to imagine what Miki and Ana looked like, how the band sounds or how Ana’s horrendous bosses look like. The whole music fest set-up was a bit hard to image too, and it even confused me at first. Why were there two stages? How many people were there? How big is this music fest, really, and why is it so special?

To some extent, I would also say that the first few pages failed to take my overworked brain to the beach and the music fest in the way I initially thought it would. But it might have to do with the fact that the book is made up of three story lines, each had a world of its own before Summer Crush even began. For instance, You Only Need Reminding has original characters that came from the Playlist series.

Last, there were scenes and characters in each book that felt a little bit unrealistic. Miki seems way too good to be true. Apart from his bad taste in clothing (Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.) (he wore a Don’t Fall In Love With A Rockstar shirt), there’s nothing much not to like about Miki, and I know some guys like him exist in real life but, really? (Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.) (He does not even have a bit of resentment for the fact that Ana does not have time for him, comes to the gig unannounced, suddenly wants to leave La Union, and drops the break-up bomb on him.) Then again, in the world of romance, there’s very little time to spend writing cons for characters because, duh, we all need to see the juicy parts, right?

tl;dr

While it was a bit of a challenge to finish the book (probably because of major beach envy), I still had fun reading through the kilig and landian moments. I’m excited to check out the other universes that inspired Summer Crush. I was left wanting to read more from the authors and maybe try to understand the characters by checking out the books that came before it. I especially loved the set lists, the song lyrics (I wish someone would create melodies for them or that the songs were posted somewhere in the Internet) and the dedication pages. I’m glad authors like Jay, Tara and Six get to collaborate on fun travel anthologies like this one and I can’t wait to see what other projects are in store for us under #romanceclass! ☁

This is part of the three-part review for the book. Bookbed received an ebook from the authors as part of the blog tour. Read our Review Policy here.

Bookbed reviews ‘Almost There’ by Tara Frejas (#summercrush Anthology)

by Shing Liganor

THE STORY

Beach. Love. Rock and roll.

When life, love, and rock and roll come together on the sandy beaches of La Union for music festival Summer Crush, expect nothing less than the crashing of lips, bodies, and waves against the shore, against each other, and against your soul.

Allow these three tales of love to take you away for an unforgettable weekend.

Ana’s life as a corporate warrior, graduate student, and girlfriend to indie rock band boy Miki starts to spin out of control, and she wonders if it is love that has to give. (You Only Need Reminding, Jay E. Tria)

Newly reinstated EG Project roadie Filipina Legaspi flies with her band back to the Philippines for Summer Crush, unaware of the emotional waves that engulf her when she sets foot in the beaches of San Juan, La Union. (Almost There, Tara Frejas)

Rhys has three problems: Arabella, the theme song with the Trainguy, and singing live for the first time—and now also on that list is Isaiah, sea-sweet Mango Rum kisses, and long overdue decisions she’s intent on avoiding. (Ocean Eyes, Six de los Reyes) Get a copy: Amazon (ebook), via the author (print) / Read reviews: Goodreads

WHAT I LIKED

One thing to keep in mind while reading Tara Frejas’ Almost There is that it’s a short story following the events in Scandalized. I haven’t really read the latter, and I had so many questions while reading Almost There that could’ve been easily answered by reading her previous work (more on that later). Despite this, knowing that it’s a follow-up to Scandalized, it feels like the author tied some loose ends, drawing a final conclusion to Fi’s romance and choices from the first book.

But going back, reading Almost There was like opening a bottle of feels! There’s always something about missed chances that stir up frustration and regret in me because I always think of the what if’s they present. This is also the exact reason why you end up loving Fi and admiring her loyalty and strength, just because she doesn’t waver. Being a road manager is probably no joke, but her level-headedness was apparent all throughout that I had to admire her for it.

I also loved how the author was super low key about the conflict until the perfect moment. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not (and this will sound like some crazy rambling) but the storytelling itself sounded like it was in parallel with Fi’s thoughts regarding the whole drama—you obviously know it’s there but it’s not drawn out or given any thought until it was time. It helps a lot in giving the story some momentum, given that it’s about (estimated) 47 pages long.

What really draws you in the story though is how relatable the author made out the characters to be. Given that the story was mostly centered on Fi, it was equally amazing how easy it was to follow both Yihwan’s and Gabriel’s emotions precisely because it was so down to earth and relatable. You could’ve probably said the same thing yourself if ever you were in their shoes. It also makes it a bit easy to forgive them for deciding on the path they ultimately took (and if you’re just as emotional as I am, believe me, you’d need it).

HOWEVER

One thing I noticed throughout the story though is the lack of hype and details for the characters and their set-up. Although I know that this is a short based on a novel, I felt like I needed more than basic details about the band and their popularity to properly jump in the excitement of it all. Or the fact that Fi was re-instated with the same band she had a scandal with before felt like it needed a summarized explanation to justify her being there at all. Up until the climax, I was feeling slightly lost and trying to fill in the blanks.

I probably should also mention here now that I fell in love with Minchan’s character and was constantly wishing that both he and Steven had a more active participation as friends and teammates rather than aloof, filler band members. I mean, I’m sure they’ve caught on to something happening to their happy little team, but they’re both presented as clueless bandmates without a care in the world. Maybe if time and space were not much of an issue, they’d have more to say than being cute in the background. Really though, just please, more of Minchan and my day would be complete!

tl;dr

Almost There is definitely a treat for those who have read the main story, especially when it gives you a sort of fan service similar to what you’d expect to read in a K-pop idol AU fanfiction. Being a follow-up story may give it the disadvantage of having less room for details and might leave you wanting for answers, but it makes up with a good cast and a very fun sense of humor and wit. With good storytelling and lovable characters, it’s hard not to finish this story in one sitting! Personally, I think I’ll be reaching for a copy of Scandalized next to finally give me some closure (and answers—lots and lots of answers). ☁

This is part of the three-part review for the book. Bookbed received an ebook from the authors as part of the blog tour. Read our Review Policy here.