Sunday, July 07, 2024

10 best Wattpad stories on my reading list

I've been waiting to write a best Wattpad stories post for years! So this post is dedicated to dear Loyal Reader Sharon, who wrote: "Do you still read fiction? I used to read voraciously until the start of my 40s and then my appetite for fiction just waned. The few books I read these days are comfort reads."

Hi Sharon! Yes, I'm reading fiction. It's all I read now and as much as I'd like to say I read only award-winning literature or classic tomes or books that elevate the mind or the soul, I'm going to be shamelessly honest and say my literary tastes now lean towards novels that make me giggle with kilig or stimulate the nether regions. 

And my favorite place to get these stories is from Wattpad. Yes, I'm addicted to Wattpad. My husband doesn't understand it. I don't think I do either. Many of the stories are crap. Nearly all of them are unedited, grammatically tragic, and poorly constructed... but they are addicting! Just this year alone, I've already read 37 books, 32 on Wattpad! But, don't worry, not all of them are smut haha 

Another thing I like about Wattpad is the comments. You can comment on every paragraph which makes reading a community thing. My husband doesn't like that. Reading is a solitary pursuit, he says. Well, Wattpad changed that for me. It's just as addicting to see everyone's reactions and thoughts to the story as it unfolds!

My guiltiest pleasure is werewolf romance. I can't stop reading those! But while it's a genre that is staggeringly popular, I know that's not everyone's cup of tea so I'll also share the werewolf novels that are not so steeped in the lore. They're the most human-like love stories so you won't get too weirded out haha. I'll share my top 3 faves at the end of this post. Lemme start my best Wattpad stories list with with the sweet human stories...

#1 The Player Next Door by BabyInACorner is my super favorite! It's hilarious! You MUST read it! This is the book that inspired me to write a novel! In fact, my main female character is named Millie, too. 

So anyway, The Player Next Door is all about ordinary Millie who lives next door to school celebrity athlete Luke. A comedy of errors finds them stuck in the same cabin in summer camp and one thing leads to another and they become... friends. Haha! This is such a sweet, slooooow-burn romance that when they finally kiss, my goshness, it's so satisfying. 

52.5 million reads

But! This is just Book 1 of a trilogy. The second book, Play No More, explores their relationship as a new couple. It's so funny, too! The third book, Play the Part, is still being updated. I haven't started reading it. I'm waiting for Natalie (that's the author's name) to finish before I start. And also I kinda don't want to start it because then the Luke & Millie love story will end. I can't say goodbye yet!

#2 Love, Anonymous by Liz Plum is such a sweet, sweet book about Reagan who thinks she's nobody special. In fact, obnoxious Hayden keeps annoying her as a hobby. But she can't get bothered by him too much because she's consumed by the fact that she keeps getting letters from a secret admirer. Who could it be?

Super cute and super readable! Makes me want to get love letters again!

10.8 million reads

#3 Silently Falling by Liz Plum is a story about healing from trauma. Raine has selective mutism, a coping mechanism when she was raped at age 14. Family and friends form a protective wall around her so that it never happens again. But it also prevents her from finding love. Until really persistent West makes it loud and clear he wants to know everything about the silent girl. 

This is such a good story. At first, you're scared for Raine, especially since West has a bad-boy rep. But the slow wooing, the way they're so delicate around each other, the way they protect each other, really wins you over.  

44.2 million reads

#4 The Upside of Falling by Alex Light explores what happens when shy girl Becca who's never had a relationship and Brett the school hottie who can never keep one pretend to be a couple. At first, it was just a mutually beneficial arrangement. But when the line between fake and real blurs with all those kisses and deep conversations, what's a guy and a girl going to do? It's really sweet! So so cute. This is also available on Amazon already so if you want a paperback instead, order now!

48.1 million reads

#5 When It Rains in Ocala by WriterBug44 is a sweet whirlwind romance between Maggie and Evan. I can't talk about this book because I'll give everything away. I can't even say what it made me feel because I'll spoil it. But please read it. But don't read the comments section because the spoilers abound there. It's just the sweetest romance. Evan must be the most perfect guy in the world. This love story is breathtaking in its tenderness. 

3.4 million reads

Are we ready for some hot sex? Well, #6 Sleeping with My Best Friend by Shelly Titan is the book for you. It's about Berkley who's oh so ready to get rid of her virginity, but every guy she knows is a douchebag. So who better to do it with than with the guy who loves her but not in a romantic way? The guy who can teach her things and she'll feel safe to explore her sexuality but with no strings attached? The guy that's her best friend since birth, Dean? But Dean thinks sleeping with his best friend is a bad idea. However, after circumstances convince them it's a good idea, they finally give it a go. And woah, what a go! 

What I really like about this is the sex was how my husband and I have sex. I mean, we have fun. All the erotica I've read is overly passionate but the sex scenes between Berkley and Dean are so fun. They chat, they giggle. I think that's what sex should be like! Fun! Read it!

2.7 million reads

#7 Pirouette by The Biblical Sinner is a fast-paced romance that develops between Fiona, a ballerina, and Adam, a boy who dances to escape his hellish world. I like this story because usually in romance novels, it's the guy who's aloof and cold. Adam is a total sweetheart. He's so friendly and wonderful that his tragic backstory hurts. Seeing Fiona warm up and relax and then fall in love with him is totally believable because Adam is worthy of love. And some hot sex! And again, I like the sex here because it's between two people who love and trust each other. It's safe and sweet. Read it!

1.7 million reads

So now let's get to my favorite genre, werewolf romance. Okay, here's what you need to know. Werewolves are soul-mated to one other special creature by the moon goddess. It's a bond that is so strong that when you finally meet your mate, it's love at first sight forever. That means the best werewolf stories are about those who fight that bond!

Which is why #8 Monster by KrystleLight is my favorite werewolf romance novel! It's not too werewolf-y so if you want to give this genre a try, start with this. This story is about Kaea who doesn't understand why Kyle, the heir to the Alpha position, hates her so much. He has bullied her constantly for years, making her resolve to leave their pack as soon as she finishes school and be rid of this monster. Only to find out that her mate is none other than Kyle!

Okay, this is a bullying story and Kyle is really an asshole. But the author does such a wonderful job of redeeming him. His change is believable. In fact, you'll fall in love with him at the same time Kaea does! And when she gets confused between her future outside the pack or by Kyle's side as his Luna, even you'll feel anguish at what choice to pick! 

1.8 million reads

#9 The Wallflower Mate by Leila Vy is cute and also steamy. I don't know how the author did it. There's a perfect balance between the passionate attraction of newfound love and the sweet ordinariness of a couple. Mary wants to find a mate (yep, no moon goddess destiny here) and she takes matters into her own hands by kissing a stranger at a mating ball. Unfortunately (or fortunately!), that stranger is the fearsome Alpha Ryker, who was so surprised at the kiss that he just had to have more. And oh boy, did he get more!   

4 million reads

#10 Finding Home by AE Bennet explores what it feels like when a second chance at love presents itself to Paige and Nathan. Many things have changed in the 5 years since their romance ended, but is the love the same? Spoiler alert: No. It's even better! I love how the story takes time to work through all their issues and heal their heartbreak. The reconciliation is deserved. 

3 million reads

Aaaaand that's my 10 best Wattpad stories list! I have a gazillion more books in my Wattpad reading list and I wish I could do a book review of them all. But anyway, this was so fun to write! Lemme know if you read Wattpad, too, and if you do, drop your recommendations in the comments! 

Saturday, July 06, 2024

Life lately

This post is dedicated to dear Loyal Reader Camella, who wrote me: "Thanks for your blog about how your 2023 was. You're so brave to share how difficult it was. I'm also going through a lot and my mental health is suffering so seeing you on the other side of this darkness is inspiring me that things really will get better. My question is how is your 2024? Are you really better?"

Hi Camella, yes, this year is definitely much better in every single way. Thank you for asking! Let's list down what's improved:

  • I've adjusted to work and I'm doing great on the job and with my co-workers. 
  • My family and I have adapted to our new schedule that revolves around work and school, although I wish we could find more time to clean up the house, exercise, and go have fun - but we're exhausted kapag weekends! 
  • I've lost 10 lbs. so from 144, I'm now down to 134 but I should be around 125 so 10 more lbs to go!
  • I'm managing my asthma and my cholesterol levels okay.
  • Mental health is waaaaaay better. No more anxiety and depression, although perimenopause symptoms of palpitations, nervousness, brain fog, painful joints, hot flashes, et al are still plaguing me. But I'm riding them, not fighting them anymore.     
With everything better, life lately has been more relaxed and stress-free for me. I'm still busy and so tired, but I now have mental space to appreciate the good things in my life. Like family and friends. I've started seeing wonderful people again! And it's always good to have relationships. I don't feel so isolated. Let me share a few photos!

This is Martine and Jean. I haven't seen Marts (in pink) since way before the pandemic so it was so nice to see her again, happy, healthy, thriving. I know a lot of you followed her when she and I were mommy bloggers so let me tell you she's in a good place.

Jean (with our other friend Dix) is my fellow royal watcher and we obsess over William and Kate, Charles and Camilla, and Harry and Meghan. We also scrutinize politics and religion, high society, and celebrities. Jean and Dix are very intelligent people, but then all my friends are. I have my business friends, my faith friends, my writer friends... I make sure I surround myself with people who fascinate me. What makes Jean and Dix special is they're the only ones I can gossip with! I knoooow. Gossip is for simple minds supposedly, but gossiping with them is so stimulating because there's always an insight into humanity and its goodness and cruelty. We don't always agree with each other but it's okay. I always feel safe with them.

Here's a table of lawyers, a judge, professors, and writers! This was a special dinner at Jude and Karen's home. Discussions about the government, books, pen collections, writing, and more. But we're all old so we left while the night was still young.

I've really been going out with friends this year. I saw my old friend, Kate. You''d know her as the fashion designer, but now she's pursuing her real love, music. And she's become an award-winning writer! So proud of Kate!

Here's a table of creatives! This is the Communications and Advertising Division of Personal Collection, where I work. They're funny and sweet and just really nice! And efficient. I like working with them a lot.

And here's my family! The Amper family side. With Ding Dong Dantes haha. This was a dinner celebrating birthdays and graduation/moving up, and just being alive and healthy. I enjoyed it a lot. I'm so glad I have my brother and sister. 

Oh, if you have an upcoming event and would like to have good music, book The Manila String Machine!

I'm not always out, by the way. But I do try to carve time out of my schedule to see people at least once a month. Touch base, catch up, unwind. Otherwise, I'll just be caught up in the drudgery of cooking, cleaning, and chores.

This year is all about self-care. Last year, I was so depressed that it took so much willpower to shower. So now I make it a point to care for my body because when my body looks and feels good, my mind feels not so bad anymore. So I also try to set aside time and money for the salon or for little gifts for myself like perfume and books.

I have read so many books, by the way! That has also helped my mental health. Just getting lost in other people's stories distracts my mind. That's my next blog post - I'm publishing it tomorrow!

I should be writing my novel, though. I started it June 2022. Two years later and I'm still stuck at 25,000 words. And I've changed my mind on the plot, too! I'm still writing it - not with words, sure, but it consumes my imagination all the time. So I hope I can finally take them out of my imagination and down on paper! 

Oh, and as a writer, I have a bit of good news

So yes, I am feeling so much better! If in 2023, my mantra was survive, in 2024, it's thrive! This year is so good to me. I'm very happy. Thank you so much for asking, Camella. Now I wrote about it and now I'll always have this post to remind me of such a delightful time. 

Friday, July 05, 2024

5 Important Money Tips for First-Time Job Seekers

Your first job will be a significant milestone and will mark the beginning of an important new phase in your life. But amidst the thrill of earning their own income, many first jobbers get overwhelmed with the prospect of managing their funds for the first time. You yourself may be unsure of how to manage your salary effectively, especially if you haven’t had prior experience budgeting for monthly expenses or dealing with financial obligations such as rent, bills, and loan repayments. Moreover, the allure of newfound financial freedom inevitably brings about the temptation to overspend or to make impulse purchases, which in turn makes it all the more challenging for you to stay within budget and prioritize your savings.

As a new income earner, it’s important to know what to do with your salary and how to set a precedent for good financial habits down the line. Without proper guidance, you may fall into the most common pitfalls that will hinder a new professional’s financial progress. The key to building a strong financial foundation for yourself and achieving your long-term financial goals lies in learning how to handle your income responsibly. You’ll want to avoid costly financial mistakes early on and set yourself up for a brighter financial future as you climb up the professional ladder.

To help you navigate the complexities of personal finance and make the smartest decisions about your hard-earned money, here are some important money tips to consider.

1) Open a Savings Account

One of your first steps towards financial stability should be to open your own savings account. This should be your designated place to store your savings, and it should allow you to build a financial cushion for your future needs.

When choosing a bank and account type, consider factors such as interest rates, fees, accessibility, and additional features like online banking and mobile app access. Your search for the ideal savings account product doesn’t have to stop with traditional banks; why not open an account with Maya, the top digital bank in the Philippines? You’ll be able to enjoy competitive interest rates up to 15% p.a. and a zero maintenance balance to maximize your savings, plus neat features like Maya Personal Goals for allotting your income towards goals like saving up for a new vehicle or your dream vacation. Saving, spending, and earning more wealth across your professional career will be easy from a unified and reliable platform like Maya.

You can also set up regular automatic transfers from your salary account to your savings account. This will ensure consistent savings each payday and mitigate your temptation to spend a big chunk of your paycheck.

2) Be Aware of Your Paycheck Deductions

Once you start receiving your paychecks, you’ll soon realize that your salary comes with deductions. Take the time to review your pay stub and familiarize yourself with each deduction, including the specific amounts and what they cover.

In the Philippines, common deductions include taxes, Social Security System (SSS) contributions, Pag-IBIG Fund contributions, and PhilHealth contributions. Learn about the paycheck deductions you’ll typically receive to better budget your take-home pay and to avoid being caught off guard by unexpected deductions. If you have questions or concerns about your deductions, don't hesitate to reach out to your company’s HR or finance department for clarification.

3) Devise a Monthly Budget

Creating a budget is key to managing your finances effectively and ensuring that you're living within your means. Start by assessing your income, including your base salary and any additional sources of income such as bonuses or commissions. Next, identify your fixed expenses, including rent, utilities, insurance premiums, and loan payments. Then, determine your variable expenses, like groceries, transportation, entertainment, and discretionary spending.

From here, allocate a portion of your income towards savings and investments to ensure future financial security and to work towards achieving your financial goals. Also consider using budgeting apps or tools to help you track your expenses, monitor your progress, and make adjustments as needed to stay on track with your budget.

4) Commit to Controlling Your Spending

It's easy to get carried away with your newfound financial freedom, which makes it all the more essential to control your spending. After creating a working budget for yourself, take time to understand your spending habits and identify areas where you can cut back. You can also set spending limits for each expense category based on your budget and stick to them rigorously.

Try to avoid impulse purchases and unnecessary expenses by practicing mindful spending habits, such as making a shopping list before going to the grocery store and waiting 24 hours before making a non-essential purchase to curb quick impulses to buy.

5) Build an Emergency Fund

Even if you’ve just recently become employed, it’s a good idea to start building a substantial emergency fund as soon as possible. You never know how soon you’ll need a safety net for unexpected expenses or financial emergencies, such as medical bills or car repairs.

One common recommendation is to aim to save at least three to six months' worth of living expenses in your emergency fund to cover these essential costs and to maintain your financial stability during difficult times. You can start small by setting aside a portion of your income each month and gradually building up your emergency savings over time.

You could also set up a separate savings account specifically for your emergency fund to prevent it from being used for non-essential expenses and to ensure that it's easily accessible when needed.

And just because my friend Trixie Esguerra Bugia is behind this video, I'm going to share it so you can #GetBankedWithMaya! 

In the first few months of your entry into the workforce, remember that managing your finances effectively is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. Follow these essential money management tips, and you'll be on the right track toward financial independence and prosperity.

*Photo by Resume Genius on Unsplash