Reviews

Café 91

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored review of Café 91 nor is it biased, even though I'm friends with the owner and have partnered with him and his cafés for my previous workshops.

© Café 91's Facebook Page

© Café 91's Facebook Page

© Café 91

© Café 91

Welcome to Café 91, a really chic, minimalist café located at the 2nd floor of Avenue Square, Naga City.

They were previously located along Magsaysay Avenue, at the ground floor of the DSI building, but when a space at the Avenue opened up, my friend Nick decided to move to a bigger place. He had been sharing the previous space with a boutique, and it didn't look like a café. So, he moved out. 

Café 91 took its name from the owner's birth year, 1991. The menu was created by Nick himself, and from what I heard, he's going to introduce new flavors (and food!) after the Holy Week!

Every time I'm inside the café, it feels like I'm at home. Nice vibes all around, great food, plus a really cool inspo wall. They even have a magnetic word board for you to maybe generate ideas with (if you're a blogger) or use to promote a quote. They've got dream catchers, a photo wall, a map of the world, books, plants, and clothes that are for sale.

L-R: Matcha, Debutant, Hershey's, & Cookie Monster. ©Naga City Deck

L-R: Matcha, Debutant, Hershey's, & Cookie Monster. ©Naga City Deck

A few of their monster frappes, lined up. I've tried the S'mores (sweet and tasty, albeit a little sticky because of the marshmallows) and a friend tried another frappe flavor, and I can personally say these are definitely sweet treats. This filled my stomach for dinner too, so if you don't want rice or pasta and want something cold instead, maybe try these out.

L-R: Debutant, Happy Birthday, Death by Sweets, & Hershey's. ©Naga City Deck

L-R: Debutant, Happy Birthday, Death by Sweets, & Hershey's. ©Naga City Deck

Aside from frappes, they also have snacks like nachos, fries, sandwiches, burgers, waffles, and pastas. They're launching a new range of items after the Holy Week, and and friend and I were lucky enough to be able to taste them first before anyone. (They also have alcoholic versions coming up too!)

The Burger. © Café 91

The Burger. © Café 91

The café is open from Monday to Sunday, 10am to 10pm. If you're in the area and looking for a place that's instagrammable, has instagrammable food, and is a great place to just chill with your friends, Café 91 is your spot.

The Ultimate Goal: To 'Break Free'

In the past few months, I've come close to leaving the 9-5 life and pursuing other things, ones I am more passionate about. Yes, although I enjoy my work and I like interacting with different people everyday, my heart has been at its most depressed state for months. Things like, "I could be earning more money doing this", or "If I had my way, I'd be doing that", or "I know I am destined to be doing more than this" have repeatedly come up, making some days unfortunately unbearable. 

If you're on the same page, you'll be happy to know there's a book out there that is guaranteed to do three things for you:

  1. Acknowledge your situation but encourage change,
  2. Guide you on making better decisions (based on experience), and
  3. Help you gain financial freedom and be your own boss

Interested? Keep reading, as things will only go way up from here. Ready?

 

The 'How'

A few weeks back, a member of one of the Facebook blogging groups I'm a part of posted about the chance to review a book for free. At that time, I could care less about what kind of book it would be - I just like to read anything I can get my hands on. So, I left my email and blog URL in the hopes of getting selected. Days after, someone messaged me, saying I was selected to be one of the people who would review this mystery book for free. It was the author himself, a certain Mr. Don Soriano

The 'What'

As we messaged back and forth, I learned more about the book I'd be reviewing. As it turned out, Mr. Soriano's book entitled "Break Free", was about getting financial freedom and transitioning from employee to employer, through lessons he'd gained from personal experience. 

I'm all about self-development, and after knowing his purpose for writing the book and what it would mean for me personally, it was a no-brainer decision. 

 

The Book

Just one chapter in, I've already been reprimanded for making BS excuses, scolded for thinking about leaving my job to be a "successful entrepreneur" (without a backup plan), and told that if I really wanted to succeed, I needed to work incessantly for it. These are all valid points, and it was great to read my thoughts and plans (aside from expectations) organized for me into a huge slap-in-the-face chapter. 

Just because we have a ‘great business idea’ we want to quit or jobs and take the leap.
— Chapter 1, Break Free (Don Soriano)

As I continued reading into Chapter 2, which dealt with investing on what really matters (ie. yourself), I found myself agreeing with a lot of points. Throughout the years, I've placed more value on learning and gaining knowledge and skills, which, at the time I had begun, wasn't clear as to how I would be using it.  

The best investment is investing in yourself through continuous self-development.
— Chapter 2, Break Free (Don Soriano)

I really believe that investing in knowledge is worth more than physical businesses, for a couple of obvious reasons. Anyone can start a business, but keeping it afloat is the real challenge, especially these days that everyone wants to be the boss. 

IMG_1784.JPG
Self-education is the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or what your past is. If you’re willing to study to grow yourself, you can achieve greatness.
— Chapter 2, Break Free (Don Soriano)

If it isn't obvious yet, I LOVE learning by any means necessary (wow, that sounded dark). I mean that I don't just read books to gain knowledge - I listen to audiobooks, I attend workshops (and am now holding my own), interact with people who may have a different perspective on a given topic than me, and many more. Technology has grown so much that you don't even have to leave the house to get a degree! 

Aside from providing encouragement in developing your skills, Break Free also provides tips on how to save money (I'll be starting Mr. Soriano's tips in the next paycheck I get!), how to get the right mindset that will help your journey in becoming financially free, and more


My Thoughts

It took me a while to start reading, because this was something I wanted to focus on. I wanted to have time to reflect on each chapter/principle and take notes as I read them. I now know I did right by taking my time to read Break Free. Although a one-hour read time was guaranteed, its lessons will help beyond the period you stayed inside its pages.  

Every principle felt thought-out, by a man who’s had much experience in business and failure.

Nicely written and very organized in how each "Break Free Principle" was presented, it didn't take me long to grasp each principle and compare them to what I've done in the past. There were points where I could only shake my head and reminisce on certain past decisions that may not have been wise. Some were intended to teach and encourage, and that's exactly what I got from the book - encouragement. Helpful guides can only go so far. Encouragement, however, can take you everywhere. 

My approach in reading this book was like any other - I would read it cover to cover and leave my thoughts on this blog afterwards. Reading the first chapter immediately made me rethink my strategy, thus the note-taking. Every principle felt thought-out, by a man who's had much experience in business and failure. I could gush about this book for two more posts or break each principle down (one article each), but nothing beats reading the words right from the book itself. 

Once this hits bookstores (I'm not sure if it's already out), I implore you to BUY YOURSELF A COPY. Please. For your sake. I'm not kidding when I say this book will help change the way you look at money and your goals. I've tried different money management techniques, but jotting down monthly/daily expenses can be such a hassle that I have given up on that entirely. Mr. Soriano's tips in the book are simple, but would ultimately do its job - help you save for the future. 

 

Wherever you are in life right now, Break Free will definitely teach you a lot in terms of managing yourself, your goals, and your way of living. I am super pumped and motivated to start changing my attitude towards success. (To be honest, I'm still feeling the effects from reading the book, haha.)

You don't have to stay where you are right now. You can act on your future. You can take control. When will you be willing to Break Free?

All Good Deeds & Find The Lady

If there's a good reason for being cut off from the internet and being hit by a storm that causes days and days of blackouts, it's being able to pick a book and becoming 10 times more immersed than ever. With nothing to take your attention, no sudden notification for a new message or email, there's little distraction left.

The past week, I've been on an adventure to two different worlds, both involving illegal activity, the law, and an engrossing story.  (Plus, both were quite short as you could finish each within a day or two if you're feeling off.)

All Good Deeds by Stacy Green

I've never heard of the author before, but the title seemed a little familiar so I gave it a go. Besides the fact that I am biased towards female leads, it was part of a series, and I love reading series. (Which also depends on the story line and how mainstream it is. I tend to avoid mainstream titles.)

 

The Plot

 "She's no killer. She's just taking out the trash. Don’t call Lucy Kendall a serial killer. She’s fighting for the innocent, and she’ll do whatever it takes to bring justice. When a child disappears, Lucy quickly discovers the link to a predator she’s faced before–a man the state of Pennsylvania decided to turn loose on the streets. Determined to find the little girl and put a criminal behind bars for good, Lucy forces her way onto the case. As the search for the kidnapped child pulls Lucy into a web of evil beyond her darkest imagination, she’ll have to face her own dark truths to save the little girl–and herself." - source


Lucy, the heroine of the series, has a twisted sense of justice. Without giving too much away, I can say she feels that whatever wicked she's doing will make a specific group of people - kids - much safer.

 

My Thoughts

To be frank, the first few pages didn't really pique my interest. I felt like I was just reading a regular novel thrown together in hopes of turning bestseller. It was around the time I began getting to know the protagonist that I really got immersed.

I've always believed that a good book will leave your heart palpitating after the novel is done, but a great book leaves you in a trance for a good week. As much as the story was okay with twists you'd be well aware of by the middle of the book, it was a good book. Not great, but good enough to pass the time. There was a point I couldn't relate to Lucy at all.

 

Final Rating

This is more a 3 out of 5. I was entertained so I can't say it was boring, but I guess it was just a little too fast paced in a way that the author crammed every answer to every loophole in the last 2 chapters of the book. Would I recommend it? Sure, if only to pass the time. Like I said, it's a good book, but not something I'd find joy in reading over and over.


Find The Lady by Travis McKinney

I had recently just discovered Inkitt when it was suggested to me on the app, and as I had a weak spot for thriller/mystery novels, I bit the bait. Inkitt allows you to download stories for offline reading and that's what I did with this one. Stories on there are made by indie authors, so you'll never know what to expect. I figured it would be worth the read.

 

The Plot

Connor Donnelly is a low-operating pick-pocket turned major thief (and target of a curse involving a particular type of insect) who partners with a beautiful, blonde woman named Leyla who life had also turned its back against. Together, they make a great team, until a huge heist made Connor consider his options about Leyla, life, and everything else on the stakes.

 

My Thoughts

I had an inkling on how it would play out, given that this is an indie novel. I usually have a different mindset when reviewing independent authors and this was no exception. It was entertaining, though I found some portions of the novel a bit of a drag. The chapter order wasn't linear, something I was okay with as it's always interesting to see how one connects all of them together.

This, like All Good Deeds, was a good book. It doesn't stay in your mind very long, but for its purpose and its kind, I kind of expected it. It's a short story with I think around 30 plus chapters, also very readable in under a day.

 

Final Rating

This also gets a 3 out of 5. Connelly seemed a little off to me at times, and the way Leyla was described... Maybe I just felt it should've been prolonged a little more to one more chapter.

 

What are your favorite reads?

The-Automat-God & A Podcast

I am beyond ecstatic to share with you the things that have been keeping me busy the past few days, but all on my own time, of course. Presenting to you three books and one incredibly awesome horror podcast!

The Healer's Pact

Rating: 1/2
 

The Healer's Pact by Nigel Henry left me wanting more, though not in a way you'd expect. In this case, I felt like the author rushed the whole setting of the story and the characters - there was no time to take a breather or get intimate with the hero and heroine of the novel. In some cases, this serves a good purpose, but with this one, it didn't help the book's impact.

Story-wise, the world Nigel Henry created had a lot of potential. It seemed like the setting was thriving with history, something that was left (disappointingly) unestablished. We start off with the two main characters alone together, followed by an event that springboards the whole thing. I usually have no problem with these type of intros, but the way the setting up of the situation was handled wasn't the best.

I really wouldn't mind spending a few more hours investing myself into the characters and the world they lived in. That's the point of a book, right? To jump into a new world and feel the characters breathe. Sadly, this was a novel that I found too short and underdeveloped.


The Automat

Rating: 


If there was a book I would reread on my off days, something short but quite warming, it would be this. It was a lot shorter than I expected (I finished a few hours after I started it - and I was at work!), and I'm not too fond of "novels" that turn out to be just tips of a pencil. But yes, as disappointed on the length as I am, I was still taken with the story.

The hero's history/background was laid out just enough for the readers to get a view of his life before and after events within the book took place, and you can't help but relate to him somehow, even though you haven't experienced the exact events in his life.

Surprisingly, The Automat started slow and steady but ended too soon. Imagine traffic just starting to move faster and faster until you realize you're already at your destination.

I had mixed emotions at the end of my read, although this was a sad, sad story. On one hand, you already have the feeling you know where the tale was going, but on the other, you're still quite clueless about how far the author (Cristina Martin) will continue teasing you with "what's next" or others. In general, this book was a solid 4 stars.


God Is Disappointed In You

Rating: 


No amount of words will ever accurately describe my feelings for this book, though it wouldn't hurt to try and convey them to you, as I will be doing now.

You see, God Is Disappointed In You is not your ordinary humor, nor is it something made to "enlighten the spirit". In fact, it's a truly offensive, brilliant product. If someone is ass-drunk and filled to the brim with Biblical musings, with a heightened love to interpret what the Bible wants to talk about as brutally as possible, he would be named Mark Russell. The best part is that we'll find this perfectly adorable (I did, anyway.)

While most Christians would look down on me for enjoying this book, I'm taking it as it is - pure fun. It literally stripped down the Bible into short stories, not taking into account the core of its teachings and what it really stands for. You can't argue that it's still the Bible, can you? It's more... representative of it, but not exactly a mirror of it. At any rate, I'd often find myself bursting in laughter from a part I'm listening to (in Audible) and my brother looking at me questioningly. Since then, I have *defiled* my brother and have won him over to my side. We now thoroughly enjoy this book and laugh like hyenas together.

There's so much more I could tell you about this book, but the best part is experiencing it yourself. Describing it wouldn't give justice to it at all.


Tales From Beyond the Pale - Podcast

Rating:  x infinity


Okay, I went over-the-top with the rating - but if you're a horror/mystery fan like me and have been dying to find a podcast that is both well-written and wonderfully narrated/voice-acted, you'll be geeking out just the same!

Discovering Tales From Beyond The Pale was an accident, and the best one so far. I was randomly reading an article on a website about female murderers and upon scrolling, I saw this included in their article database. I figured I might as well read another boring write-up about the Top 10 Podcasts for Horror fans. This wasn't included on the list (since it wasn't a free podcast) but was so fortunately mentioned by the author in his introduction. I felt the need to click on the link and since then, I have been on my knees just listening to samples and buying full episodes/chapters in Audible. This all happened after lunch today.

If my words aren't enough to convince you, you can check out two of their full-length episodes (shown on at the image above) and listen in HD on this link. I guarantee that even non-horror fans but book/audiobook lovers in general will find their podcast very entertaining. The voice actors did an incredible job acting these out and the writers did as well.

I have a number of their books saved on my Wishlist at Audible for future purchase, and I've finished two episodes from my library already. Good thing we're getting paid at work tomorrow. Yes! Haha.
 

I must apologize for crunching all these incredible things in one post. They really deserve a more in-depth review I'm sure, but it just happens.

Thanks for reading this post and hope to see you on the next one! Ciao!