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Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Happily Ever After Story

*This is not a parenting or breastfeeding related post! :D

Last Wednesday, I coerced Stan to drive me and we braved Juaning to attend the book launch of Samantha Sotto-Yambao's Before Ever After.  Thanks to OCMominManila, we were lucky to be able to meet her at Cibo, Glorietta 4 before the crazy launch in National Bookstore in Glorietta 5.
photo from Manilamommy
Talk about 6 degrees of separation.  Turns out that Sam was married to The Painter's Wife's college friend who was the brother of my college coursemate!  Anyway, being the good students that we were, Manilamommy and I had finished the book before the coffee meet-up AND had a list of questions we wanted to ask Sam.

The beginnings of her writing journey reminded me of J.K. Rowling's story.  Having had to travel from Paranaque to Katipunan every day, she decided to save time, gas and toll fees by staying in Starbucks Katipunan for three hours while waiting for her preschool son to finish his classes.  Armed with her laptop, a thermos (so Starbucks won't know that she had consumed her coffee purchase and kick her out!), a laptop lock plus an occasional sandwich, she set out to take a vacation by writing about the love story of Max and Shelley and the Slight Detour across Europe.
Sam signing books for the #Moms
(photo from Manilamommy)

It was fun listening to Sam talk about anecdotes concerning her book and the launch.  About how she decided to write FOR HERSELF and without any plans of getting published and how her blog crashed when Chuvaness featured her.  She completed the book before the summer of 2009 (because in summer, there were no more classes and no more time for her daydreams and vacation, with her kids out of school), decided to contact an agent (thanks to her 2nd hand copy of Idiot's Guide of Getting Published) and sold her book in December of 2009! How's that for a fairy tale?!

Check out the lines!
Photo from
Sam is the first Filipina author who was published by the Random House Group and what was great about meeting her (my first time to meet a published author!!!) before the launch was that we got to have our books signed (without having to go through long lines!) and get interesting tidbits about the book, development and launch.

Her book trailer was the work of friends and the Philippine launch hosted by Sam's college classmate, Xandra Ramos-Padilla, was somewhat unplanned.

Plus, did you know that National Bookstore ordered a special print edition of paperback books to be locally available? The original printing run was for hardbound books costing P895 each.  Knowing that the price was steep for Filipino consumers, National Bookstore commissioned the printing of paperback copies at P495 each available only for the Philippine market!  And the books are currently being sold at 20% discount (because of NBS' cut-price sale from 29 July - 21 August 2011) at National Bookstore.  Click here for photos of the book launch and below is a feature on GMA News where we made a 1-second appearance! ;)

So what's the book about (spoiler alert!)?  Protagonist Shelley is Max's widow coming to terms with Max' death three years earlier when she has a surprise visitor - Paolo - Max's 32-year-old grandson with news that Max is alive! So Shelley joins Paolo on a trip to Boracay, where Max was last sighted, recounting The Slight Detour (how she met Max) in hopes of understanding why Max never came back to her.

What I loved about the book was how Sam slowly revealed facets of Max's character through various characters from different time period and how she was able to intersperse quirky chicken facts into the story.  Plus, I love the flowery words, the research and learning about little known tidbits on historical events - with my favorite being that chapter on the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius!  And I think Max is every woman's dream hero - intelligent, sensitive and a HIGHLANDER! (heehee!)

I felt however that Shelley's character was a bit underdeveloped and she was shown to be totally in love with Max, attracted to him from the very beginning.  I'm not too fond of heroines who love the heroes more than the hero loves them.

Finally, I am a literal person and I wasn't too thrilled with the hanging ending.  In her interview with MFO, Sam shared that one of the reasons why she wrote this book was because she was quite bothered with how The Time Traveler's Wife ended.  Manilamommy and I talked about alternate ending interpretations and we grilled Sam about what the ending really meant and let's just say that I believe in happy endings :)

All in all, the book was a great read and I highly recommend it to readers who simply want to lose themselves in a well-written novel with a happy ending.  You can get your copy from Amazon (in the US) or from National Bookstore.  In the meantime, enjoy a virtual tour of the book until you grab your copy.

*Oh and lesson to learn - this was my first book launch so I don't know how other book launches go BUT don't attend book launches if you haven't read the book - otherwise you'd have to busy yourself in the toilet or browsing somewhere so you won't hear the spoilers! ;)

For other posts about Sam, the book, the meet-up and launch, check out the following:
Samantha Sotto's Before Ever After Philippine Launch
Manilamommy's The Most Important Lesson I learned From Samantha Sotto
The Painter's Wife's Meeting Sam Sotto
OCMominManila's My Slight Detour with Samantha Sotto
and Manilamommy's Book Review: Before Ever After


Yen said...

Jenny! I picked up her book at NBS and read it cover to cover without stopping. I agree with you especially on these:

1) I am bothered by heroines who immediately fall in love with the guy (like Natalie Portman's character in the movie Thor).2) The ending. I'd read a bit of the background of this book (that she was bothered by the ending of the Time Traveler's Wife) so I *knew* this was meant to have a happy ending. Like you I like happy endings to be spelled out. :-) I think it's so cool you got to meet her and ask her questions. I have so many! Some about the characters-- So what's really up with Gestrin? How many immortals are out there? And some about how she wrote it all! :-)Rocky's reading it now out of curiosity. Hehe. :D

Yen said...

And I was also imagining Hollywood making this into a movie. That'd be so cool! :D

Mom-Friday said...

great review Jen! 
I plan to do one too but don't know how anymore! hahaha...
also, the end left me hanging and wondering, but I assumes a good ending.  Can't wait to ask her about the characters tomorrow! :)

Jenny said...

thanks michelle! and yes, it is happy. see you tom!

Jenny said...

yen, gusto nya hbo mini-series. film won't do justice to the historical excerpts :D and bakit kaya natin gusto ng spell-out?! is it because of the legal training?! hahaha!
wow buti si rocky even started to read it! si stan was .. umm romance yan? not my type!

Stephen B said...

ei! she was featured at ANC mornings today.

Jenny said...

yes she was. :D

Upto6only said...

wow i'm so inggit you were able to attend the book launch.  i'm dying to buy the na and start reading it. By the way, you have a MOM group hehehe may i know how to join :)

Jenny said...

thanks for visiting! it was my first time to attend a launch also. get the book!! you won't regret it ;)

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