Title: Cover (Story) Girl
Author: Chris Mariano
1) She has amnesia.
2) She’s on the run from her father’s creditors.
3) She’s enjoying her last days on earth.
Ever since Jang Min Hee walked into Gio’s small museum, she’s given him one excuse after another about why she’s vacationing at scenic Boracay Island. Rarely has Gio’s neat and organized world been shaken like this. Soon he finds himself scrambling over rocks, hiding in dressing rooms, and dragging her out of bars. But how can Gio tell what’s true from what isn’t? Their worlds are getting unraveled — one story at a time.
You can purchase the book using these links:
Prints (Visprint edition)
Available at National Bookstore, Powerbooks, and Fully Booked branches
You can also add this book to Goodreads.
Ratings: 4 stars out of 5
Okay. So before anything else, I want to thank Ms. April (@iambinibini in Instagram and Twitter and seasuras in Facebook) once again for this chance to read and review another book from #romanceclass. This is the second post I have as my participation for #FilipinoFriday that was arranged as a little project to show support to the Filipino-authored English books.
Can I just say ‘thank goodness’ because I only liked—or loved—two characters in this novel? Weird start for a review, right? But that’s the truth. The characters that really made me like this story were the leads, of course—Gio and Min Hee. Usually, I would end up liking more characters than the two leads. Anyway, at this point, I haven’t listened to the episode of the #RomanceClass podcast which featured a scene from this story. At least not yet. Thankfully, I didn’t. That’s because it means that I have something to look forward to—the feels, to be specific—when I finally decide to listen to it. I wonder what scene did Rachel and Gio (Wow! Similar name with the male lead) read for the podcast.
This is the first time I’ve read a local romance novel entirely written in the male lead’s perspectives, which is a good thing. You don’t actually read something like that everyday. It’s a good break from the majority of all the local romance stories I’ve read written in the female lead’s perspectives and POVs. And honestly speaking, I think the author did well when it comes to writing the male lead’s perspectives.
So I ended up finishing this in two days but I only started writing this review on Thursday night and finished it this Friday morning. Of course, I did that while the song “Only With My Heart” by Lena Park kept echoing in my mind. I know it doesn’t actually relate much to the entire story. But for some reason, especially when I remembered the song’s translation, it reminded me of Min Hee during and after the break up. Seriously, I really want to strangle Gio for doing that to her. But don’t worry, I only want to do that in my imagination since I don’t have that kind of violent tendencies in real life. I nearly cried when Gio was being stubborn and decided not to listen to Min Hee for her explanations. I don’t know why but it kind of hurts, you know. Somehow, the rejection and the one you love pushing you away was something I could relate to.
Min Hee came to me as a glamour girl that was a little bit hard to reach. She projected a really intimidating aura when she first appeared in the story. I know it’s just a story but that’s what I felt about her. So I couldn’t really sympathize with her at first. And then as the story progressed, it made me see a vulnerable side of her. She wanted to tell the truth to Gio but somehow, getting him to believe in it was another thing. She probably tried to break free from her world in some way, that’s why she went to Boracay. And even though Min Hee came from a completely different world as Gio, she came to realize that perhaps he could help her experience things she never got to do before. She was being herself whenever she was doing her drawing. The same way when she appreciated Caridad’s artworks. She was being herself in front of Gio—though she did tease him a lot just to get his attention. Somehow, it worked. Hehe!
Even though the story was told entirely in Gio’s perspective, there were times that I could truly empathize with Min Hee more than Gio. I don’t know why, though. But most often than not, Gio is somehow relatable to me—probably because we’re both boring in more ways than one. In Gio’s case, though, he organized his life as much as he could that everything around him, everything he does became something monotonous. No life. No thrill. Calculated. Safe (as he’d like to call it). But that only made him unable to break free from his own barrier. Until Min Hee came to his life and drastically changed it for him. Of course, they didn’t have a really good start since Gio’s impression on Min Hee was similar to mine—that she was intimidating and unreachable at one point. At that part, though, I couldn’t help wondering if someone would actually make an effort to change my boring—not to mention hermit-like—lifestyle. But I guess I’ll wish for that one of these days.
This story has definitely allowed me to explore at least parts of Boracay. When I was younger, I only saw the island from a port in Aklan when me and my maternal grandparents were about to head to Mindoro via a RoRo. Until now, I still wonder what the island really looked like for real and not just learning about it from news, TV shows, or pictures. And does calamansi muffins really exist? That’s what made me frown as soon as I read it from this story. Honestly speaking, that was the first time I’ve known about it. Was it a specialty in Boracay? I don’t like citrus fruits that much but I hope I could myself to try it one day.
You know what’s funny? When I decided to finally read this story, I ended up selecting some of my favorite Korean ballad songs from my playlist and play it on repeat while reading. I did that ever since I’ve seen from the story description that the female lead was a Korean. Weird, huh? But somehow, it gives me the feels I wanted to achieve while reading the story. It’s a total of 34 songs and I usually play them whenever I was writing a sad scene on my stories, be it a Filipino story or an English one. Most of them are sort of ‘old’ if you consider the songs from year 2005 and slightly up as old. I’m not exactly updated to the Korean songs lately, that’s why.
Here’s the list of the songs, in case you want to know:
- “Back In Time” by Lyn
- “Because I Miss You” by Jung Yong Hwa
- “Because Of Love” by Han Seung Yeon
- “Broken Up Today” by Younha
- “Can You Love?” by Jo Hyun Ah
- “Consolation” by 2AM
- “Dear Love” by Wax
- “Don’t Forget Me” by Suzy Bae
- “Even When I Die” by F.I.X
- “First Love” by Park Gyuri and Han Seung Yeon
- “For You It’s Goodbye, For Me It’s Waiting” by Kim Jaejoong
- “Forgotten Season” by Kim Jaejoong
- “From Now, I’ll Walk Away” by 2AM
- “I’ll Protect You” by Kim Jaejoong
- “It Has To Be You” by Yesung
- “Live In The Love” by Page
- “Memories” by Super Junior
- “Moonlight Is Setting” by Heora
- “Not Because” by 2AM
- “One Spring Day” by 2AM
- “Only Person” by BoA Kwon
- “Only With My Heart” by Lena Park
- “Only You” by 4Men
- “Over The Destiny” by 2AM
- “Please Take Care Of My Boyfriend” by Younha
- “This Must Be Love” by Taeyeon and Sunny
- “Should I Love Alone?” by Han Seung Yeon
- “Spring Rain” by Baek Ji Young
- “Take Care Of My Heart” by Oh Jong Hyuk
- “Tears Are Also Love” by Baek Ah Yeon
- “The One And Only You” by Kim Soo Hyun
- “The Story I Don’t Want To Believe” by TVXQ
- “This Song” by 2AM
- “Waiting” by BoA Kwon
Final note: I hope I’ll be able to have a chance to read books like this from the #romanceclass catalogue again, be it a gifted copy for a review or finally buying a copy for myself. Thanks again, Ms. April! More stories to come, Ms. Chris Mariano! I hope you’d be able to find your own Korean hottie to love—romantically, for real. Hehe!
About The Author:
Chris’ work has appeared in The Philippines Free Press, TAYO Literary Magazine, Ideomancer, Plural Online Journal, and the Philippine Speculative Fiction
Anthology Vol. 7. Her short story A Kind of Flotsam won 1st Place in the 3rd Philippine Graphic/FictionAwards. She was a fellow for Poetry in English at the 34th UP National Writers Workshop in Baguio. Cover (Story) Girl, her first contemporary romance novella, was released recently as part of Visprint’s #romanceclass line. She also co-authored two romance short stories, All I Want for Christmas and Hot Like This, with Chrissie Peria and Miles Tan.