Saturday, February 11, 2017

KEEP THE FAITH - Ana Tejano {Filipino Friday Review + Excerpt + Giveaway}

#FilipinoFriday [6]
Keep the Faith
- Ana Tejano

TITLE: Keep the Faith
AUTHOR/s: Ana Tejano

PUBLICATION DATE31st  of July, 2016
Important note: It's already Saturday but I originally scheduled this post to go up yesterday for my tour stop (+ as part of Filipino Friday.) Unfortunately, blogspot's been glitch-y lately and a couple of tech problems came up *cries* but better late than never, eh? :) 
I first saw the title while browsing through the online #romanceclass catalogue. Upon reading its blurb, I knew that I'll like it and immediately added it in my continuously growing TBR pile. Then, as if the Universe had planned it all along, Miss Ana Tejano wanted to put up her own blog tour for this one and I was more then eager to join! 

Keep the Faith was a quick read for me and I finished it within a day (I may or may not have been munching on fries while reading haha!) It may have been my first Ana Tejano read but it will most definitely not be the last (especially since her first work that I knew of, Fall Like Rain ft. of course, Rain, is also stuck on my TBR for a while now. Sadlyf.) I may be ~dense~ but typing that up just made me realize how the author actually incorporates her MC's names on her titles. Cool!

Would definitely try to start on the other one soon but for now, here are some of my thoughts for Keep the Faith! :)

Do go around and check out others' review of Ana Tejano's Keep the Faith!

As a community development worker, Faith was quite familiar with heartbreak and recovery after all the time she spent on disaster relief missions. So when her five-year relationship ends right before she left for a mission trip to a typhoon-stricken town in Iloilo, she tries not to make a big deal out of it. How can she be broken up about a breakup when she’s with people who literally lost everything?

But now that she’s back, all Faith wants is for her life to go back to normal and have people stop looking at her with pity. Never mind that she still has a lot of questions about the breakup, or that she feels a tiny ache every time her ex comes up in conversations. She’s okay now, and happily distracted by Nico Tamayo, the attractive new guy at work. 

With new possibilities in the horizon, Faith thinks she is well on her way to moving on. But when her past comes calling back to her, will all the good things in her present be enough to keep her on the path? Or will she finally learn that there was more to heartbreak and recovery than what she knows?

If I were to describe Ana Tejano's Keep the Faith in one word, it would be WHOLESOME. I've read that word in a review somewhere and it kinda stuck with me especially since I couldn't help but agree with it after I finish the book. 

Now let me start with its characters. First is our MC,  Faith whom I found really relatable in more than one aspect except - surprise- romance. Aside from matters of the heart, I can see myself in her. I consider myself as someone with what I refer to as the "Supergirl Syndrome" which basically is this feeling of wanting to unconditionally help others all the time just because you feel like you can - even if it comes with sacrifices on your part. It also means having this weird "righteous bone" in your body where you always want to do what you feel is the right thing and standing up for it. I really believe that Faith embodied this and James actually pointed it out as well - with the "saving the world and all."

I never knew that Faith's work actually existed! Sure, I know that there are organizations out there but I didn't really thought that it could be an actual job. I thought that they were simply groups of volunteers with gigantic hearts. I guess that's a common misconception but now that I know about doesn't seem too bad. We actually have a Developmental Communication course right now and I wonder if I could make use of it in the future? ;)

Aside from that, I was also able to relate with her relationship with her mother (plus points because she also calls her "mommy"). I can say that compared to my friends, I pretty much have an open communication with my parents. Not as completely open (because no one really is) but as usual mother-daughter relationship goes, we're quite fine. However, the thing I shared the most with Faith when it comes to our moms is that we both feel like sometimes, our lives ahead of us is all planned out regardless of whether we want to go that way or not. Sometimes, it just gets hard to get out of the box that has already been set and when you do manage to get out of that box, you risk ~disappointing~ them and not having their "seal of approval." When it comes to those things, nothing is more heartbreaking than knowing you've disappointed people you actually look up to by doing something you really, really want or you actually believe in or are passionate about. It gets difficult sometimes, yes, but as Faith has realized, I know that they're just looking out for us and only wants what is best.

Moving on, we go to Nico. Oh great, great Nico. Even though I'm not the biggest fan of tattooed men (Not because I judge them, no of course not! But 'cause I tend to lean on dorky, clean-cut guys.) , Nico's surprisingly worked for me. To be honest, he seems to be the closest fictional guy I can consider as the "ideal man." I can't believe how he managed to pull of an interesting combination of almost contradictory characteristics. He's brooding but cheerful, deep but charming, confident but also weirdly awkward. Nico is also sweet, thoughtful, extremely patient, has one of the purest hearts I've seen, and the rare God-fearing type. (PS. Nico may or may not have reminded me of a professor at out University hahaha! Shoutout to his fans! I know my friends would get this lol)

I liked that despite the vibrance of the MC and LI, the supporting characters were well written as well. I'm already familiar with Mark and Rain (and I'm glad that they have roles here - which I loved!) but Meah was new to me. I liked her a lot because I'm pretty sure we all have that one friend who gives out really great advice on heart matters despite not really having her own. In our group, Meah's most likely me hahaha! Also, I appreciated James' character. He may seem like a big jerk at first but as you get to know his reasons, it's easy to try and look at where he's coming from. It may not excuse his actions but it definitely helped that we get to know his side.

Speaking of James, I actually liked that the "love triangle" here wasn't that hard to figure out. In fact, for me, the romance aspect was really good but it wasn't the only thing that brought the whole book to a new level. I love how it dealt with other things especially with family, friends, and self. 

ROMANCE. I usually am a sucker for swoony and fluffy and kilig romances. Don't get me wrong, Keep the Faith has lots of those as well! For one, I looooove Faith and Nico's first meeting. I know, I know - awkward first meets are the best. Anyway, the late fast food adventure was adorable! I don't want to spoil but from now on, I'll be considering French Fries as a romantic food (and yes, I did get some fries because of this book!) 

FAMILY. As I mentioned earlier, Faith's mom reminds me a lot of mine but I can say that the similarities end there. Her relationship with her family gave me fuzzy and warm feelings. Despite her tough facade and the independence that she wanted - and acquired - I love that her family still got her back when she needed it the most.

For Nico, I love how sweet he is as a brother. I've always wanted to have a Kuya (older brother) because it seems so cute! I also <spoiler> guessed the Lucy plot twist early on, though </spoiler> Aside from this, what I enjoyed the most is he showed that family isn't limited to blood relations.

Oh, and lastly, I know being stuck in between her cousin and her best friend must have been difficult for Rain but I'm glad that she handled it well enough. Plus, love the game nights! It reminded me of Christmas reunions at home haha :)

FRIENDSHIP. In relation to what I previously said, I'm glad that despite the struggle, Rain and Faith still remained good friends. Same goes for Faith and Meah. In fact, I love their friendship! Graduation is nearing and I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't be able to see my friends as much as I want to but Faith, Meah, and Rain gave me confidence that we can pull it off somehow :)

SELF. I genuinely love all of the previous three aspects but I can say that this is the highlight of the book for me. I deeply appreciated Faith's self reflections and it made me realize so many things about myself and those people around me. Her character development was so on point! Her dialogue and thoughts especially during the latter parts were very emotional but hopeful. My sore heartstrings are happy!

Also, her moving on process was very real. She knew what she had to do to find herself and did it even though it's hard. Her brokenness didn't went away all at once just because someone new came into the picture, but rather, the story eased into it and it felt like we experienced the process firsthand.

With all that said, I am now at lost for words. Keep the Faith was a really engaging story of loss, heartbreak, hope, and loving again when you're ready and when the time is right. It would take you to a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Truly beautiful! :)

"He had this kind of focus that made me feel like there was no one else in the world - or at least, in the bus - who was worth looking at." -Faith

"Faith, we're humans, not angels." -April

"I really wanted to move on; I had to soldier on and face this discomfort now so I could finally close the door behind us." -Faith

"Relationships should be composed of two mature people who make decisions together. It can't just be up to one person to watch out for the storms. You won't win fighting for a relationship when only one of you was determined to keep it." -Faith

"There were still so many things I wanted to say, but I realized that none of it would change anything." - Faith

"Sometimes, even if you're so prepared for it, unexpected things still happen so you do your best to cope. And once it's over, you pick up the pieces, learn from the experience, and prepare for it all over again, so hopefully, it won't be so bad the next time." - Faith

"It's okay if you have to be a little bit selfish now. You've given so much to the people around you, but you also have to take care of yourself. For as long as you need to. People who love you will wait." - Meah

"The thing about heartbreak, I realized, is it's not really about waiting for things to stop hurting before you start moving. A broken heart can and will heal in time, but for time to actually do its job, I needed to acknowledge what I had lost, and move on." - Faith

Here's also a few edits from Miss Ana herself!

The writing style and the storytelling reminded me of our lessons on film and creative writing. It had a lot of mise-en-scene, foreshadowing, representations, red herrings, subjectifying the object and objectifying the subject. I know it may seem pretty technical but all of them worked perfectly for me. for me, it's definitely a strong proof of Miss Ana's writing prowess.

I may not have experienced a real, actual break-up heartbreak but I did remember a couple of people close to my heart while reading. I know they're going through major heartaches at the moment even if they don't really say it (very Faith!) Seeing Faith's journey gave me hope that eventually, they'll manage to overcome it in their own time. Meanwhile, all I can do is supply the love that they feel like they're missing out. 

Keep the Faith may not be the usual full-on, non-stop romance and kilig overload thing I go for (though Nico is Nico! *swoon*) but it created such an inspiring and emotional impact that I couldn't help but love it! Its depth is unique and refreshing and I do hope to read more of this type in the future :)

Five out of five rating for Ana Tejano's Keep The Faith

5/5 Rating! :)
I love everything about these two but I really enjoyed their initial interactions. Here's a little something to hint you on what's to come! Do buy the book!

I froze at the sound of that now all-too-familiar deep voice—now less sleepy—and my panic gave way to anger. I turned around slowly. 
Nico’s expression was friendly, oblivious to my seething. “I just want to say sorry for sleeping on your desk. Alvin told me you were coming back but I thought it wasn’t until Monday so I didn’t transfer immediately.”
“Did you touch anything here?” I pointed to my cubicle’s walls, ignoring his apology. 
“You’ve been using my desk since you got here. Did you remove anything?”
He shook his head, his messy hair flopping on his forehead. He brushed it away with a hand. “No. Why would I remove anything? I only sleep at other people’s desks, but I don’t take anything.” He gave me a cheeky grin at the last part, an attempt to make a joke, but I was too worked up to play along.
“Then what happened to my pictures, huh?”
“What pictures?”
I felt a light tap on my shoulder. I turned, and there was April, holding out a small paper bag. “Hey. I almost forgot to give you this.”
“April, do you know—”
“I heard you. They’re in the bag,” she interrupted gently. “I took your pictures down, okay? It’s not Nico’s fault. He didn’t even see them.”
I took the bag from her and peeked inside, and found the smiling face of my ex-boyfriend looking at me, beside my own. I was unprepared for the stab of pain when I saw our matching grins, remembering exactly when that photo was taken (second year anniversary, right after he took me out to dinner). 
“I thought it would help if I cleaned it up when you told me what happened. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.” She squeezed my arm, and left to answer her phone that started ringing again.
Squashing the urge to sort through the photos and memories, I shoved the paper bag in my bottom drawer, shutting the drawer with a loud click. When I looked up, I saw that Nico was gazing at me intently, and my face burned with shame again. Twice now. I can’t seem to get off on the right foot with this guy. 
“I told you I didn’t know about anything,” he said, amused. 
Well thanks a lot for rubbing it in. “If you hadn’t been sleeping on my desk then I wouldn’t have asked you.”
“Didn’t you learn much from what you saw on my profile?”
“I wasn’t stalking you!”
A small line formed between his eyebrows as if I was a Math problem that he was trying to solve. I tried to stare back at him but his brown eyes were too intense. Then to my surprise—and frustration—I saw the beginnings of a smirk tug at the corner of his lips.
“Aren’t you going to say something?” I crossed my arms. 
Then his lips stretched into a full-fledged smile, a dimple popping on his right cheek. “I’m sorry. I promise I won’t sleep on your desk again.”
“Good,” I said with a firm nod. Then I started to feel a little silly for my outburst, especially after he seemed so gracious. “I’m sorry, too.” 
“Peace?” he asked, extending his right hand to me. I uncrossed my arms and looked at his hand warily before glancing up at him again. He was still smiling.
“Okay,” I said, just a little begrudgingly, and reached out to shake his hand.
“My name is Nicolas, but everyone calls me Nico.”
“Hi, Nico,” I said, trying not to think of how warm his hand was.
“I’m Faith. Faith Alvarez.” I let go of his hand. Too much hand-shaking was weird.

There was that dimple again. “I know.”

Ana Tejano has been in love with words and writing ever since she met Elizabeth Wakefield when she was in Grade 3. She has contributed several non-fiction pieces in print and online publications, and has been blogging for years. When she’s not writing, she works as a communications manager for a payroll outsourcing firm, and serves in CFC Singles for Christ in every other time that she doesn’t spend reading or sleeping. She lives in Metro Manila and is also known by another name in her other circles (but it’s not a secret identity, really).

There's also a giveaway for you guys! Don't forget to join for a chance to win your own copies of Ana Tejano's Keep The Faith and other #romanceclass books! :D

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