ALL'S FAIR IN BLOG AND WAR is an adorable #OwnVoices novella about a Filipina travel blogger named "Five" who gets offered an all-expenses paid vacation to Macau, along with several other bloggers. Their personalities are all different, but Five feels like she's going to get on with all of them, except a boy named Jesse, who she calls "Arrogant Elevator Guy" after he not only hits "door close" when she's running for the elevator, but also after she hears him shaming bloggers who accept endorsements and ads as inauthentic.
Even though he leaves a terrible first impression on Five, she realizes pretty quickly that her initial thoughts about him are wrong and after an apology, the two of them find out that they have a surprising amount in common. As they check out the local food scene, UNESCO monuments, and even go bungee-jumping from the highest building in Macau, what they have starts to feel an awful lot like "like."
I have a cold right now, and whenever I get a bad cold I like to treat myself to a shiny new romance novel since that's what I like to read when I'm sick. It's like chicken noodle; light, soothing, and comforting. I especially liked ALL'S FAIR IN BLOG AND WAR as a blogger who enjoys traveling and has been on guided tours (sadly not all-expenses paid) before. Clearly, Peria has too, as she manages to capture the chaotic feeling of being rushed from site to site and taking everything in. I went to Japan last year, and even though Japan is quite different from Macau, reading this book and hearing about how they were rushed around from bus to tour stop and back again, while the tour guide reels off cool facts, really made me feel nostalgic for that trip.
The romance is also really cute. I'm a sucker for Pride and Prejudice retellings and spinoffs, and I think Peria did a good job with that here. Five is judgmental and assuming, and Jesse is arrogant and self-absorbed. They both need to step out of their comfort zones in order to get along.
There were two things I really didn't like about this book and one of those things was the last act drama with the grand gesture. I hate it when drama is thrown in to stir up tension right before the end of the book, especially if it's from a stupid Big Misunderstanding that could have been resolved with a four-second conversation. Grand gestures also annoy me too - especially social media ones - because as romantic as they seem in books and movies, they can be quite creepy and inconvenient in real life. As an example of that, just look at the #PlaneBae incident, which was actually quite sad.
The second thing I didn't like was the editing. Peria switches from present to past tense over and over again in the narrative, to the point where it's very distracting. It happens every other page, sometimes every page, and I think it would be worth her while to send this to someone to go over and correct before resubmitting the e-book to Kindle. On that same note, the name of an ice cream stand the characters visit in Macau changes names from Ice Cream Winterland to Ice Cream Wonderland in the same paragraph. It obviously wasn't edited very well and is in desperate need of a second pair of eyes.
Those qualms aside, I really did enjoy this romance. It was cute, romantic, and funny. I'm really grateful that one of my friends told me about #romanceclass because these Filipino romances are great and definitely deserve more attention than they've been getting! If you're a fan of Meg Cabot and those cheesy Olsen twin travel movies from the early 2000s, I really think you'll like this book.
3 out of 5 stars
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