Cover Image: Once Upon a Sunset

Once Upon a Sunset

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Member Reviews

I'm going to a book signing in March and I make it a goal to try every author I can. It’s how I’ve found some of my favorite authors. When I saw that NetGalley had Once Upon a Sunset for request, I thought this is amazing timing. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy.

Sunset focuses on Diana, an OB-GYN in DC and her mother, Margo, a photographer turned Instagram superstar. Diana and Margo are living in Diana’s house while it undergoes a remodel. While unpacking boxes, Margo comes across some letters from her mother to her father that held a family secret, shattering everything Margo and Diana believed to be true.

As a result of the bombshell in the letters, Diana decides to take a trip to visit the family she just found out she had. Convenient timing as she’s just been asked to take a vacation from work due to a choice she made concerning patient care. She asks her mom to come with her and Margo declines at the time, not really ready to face the new reality of having a long lost family. Don’t worry, she of course joins her on the trip.

To me, Sunset was a wonderful testament to mother/daughter relationships and the power of letting go and taking chances. I thought the character growth that both Diana and Margo go through once they reach The Philippines was beautiful and really helped progress their story. Add in a romance for both of them and you’ve got yourself a really cute, sweet story about family and forgiveness.

This was my first Tif Marcelo but will not be my last. I enjoyed the story (read it in a couple of hours). I’m giving it a 3.5 out of 5 stars. It was good, I liked it but I wasn’t blown away enough to give it a 4 or a 5. I look forward to more from this author.

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"Your granny, my mother. I don't know what to think, but I think she lied." That'll get you hooked, for sure! Once Upon a Sunset is the fifth novel by Tif Marcelo, but the first for the Grateful Reader. It won't be the last. The mother/daughter relationship is authentic and well developed. Marcelo adds just the right amount of family tension/drama for the reader to take sides and then change back-just like in real life. The current situation of Margo moving in with her " baby doctor- on call" daughter, Diana, will strike a chord with many readers who have adult children or parents moving in and out of their homes and daily lives. The family drama toggles between present day and the past through the newly discovered letters between Margo's mother, Leora, and her love, Antonio Cruz. The letters date from California, early 1933, through Antonio's deployment to New Guinea and the Philippines, in 1945. Now single mother, Leora and her daughter, Margo, believe that Antonio died a hero in New Guinea, within days of arrival. Only after seven decades and Leora's death, Margo discovers- her father really hadn't died.

The reader tags along with Margo and her buddies on photo shoots and trips for their Instagram followers , but then succumbs to all the anger, exasperation, and "wonderment" as Diana weaves her way past one ex-fiance, through a delivery room fiasco, several airports, and finally arrives at Manila Bay and the opulent Las Cruces Hotel . The reader will experience the valley-lows that are brought on by decades of family lies and cover-ups, but also the mountain top- the joy of forgiveness, and new found hope in love and opportunity.

Get out your travel journal and "fly" with Tif Marcelo and Once Upon a Sunset. It's a "first class" read! GR

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A lovely, vivid, insightful read that focuses on Filipino-American characters. I don't think I've ever read any fiction that focuses on Filipino characters, only history.

Diana and her mother Margo are very different people, now living together after the death of Margo's mother and Diana's grandmother. Margo is an artist, and seems to drift through life always looking for art, which drives focused, disciplined Diana crazy.

So Margo is recovering from her mother's death while Diana is dealing with divorce, and then a situation comes up at the clinic where she works as a doctor, delivering babies.

While the two are dealing with the emotional fallout, and their lack of communication, a total bomb drops in their lives: it turns out that Margo's father apparently didn't die in WW II: he returned to the islands . . . where he had another family.

Further, Margo's mother knew it.

And so begins a quest for Diana to find out about the roots she never knew she had, and Margo also goes. Their adventures are interspersed with Antonio's letters, and then Leora's, adding poignancy to the present-day story.

Every twist was unexpected. Marcelo creates characters with insightful details, breathing life into them with kindness and compassion. Even the sharp moments are so beautifully realized.

I couldn't put this book down.

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Linda's Book Obsession Reviews "Once Upon A Sunset" by Tif Marcelo, Gallery Books, March 2, 2020

Tif Marcelo, author of "Once Upon a Sunset" has written an entertaining, enthralling, riveting and romantic novel. The Genres for this novel are Fiction and Romance. The time-line of the story takes place in the present and goes to the past when it pertains to the characters and events. The story takes place in Washington and the Philippines. The author describes the characters as complex and complicated. There are dark secrets, twists, and turns, and surprises, that will cause major changes.

Diana Gallagher-Cary loves her job as an OB/GYN and makes a choice one busy night, that can affect her career. Diana is still mourning the loss of her grandmother and adjusting to her creative Mom moving in with her. She is also experiencing the loss of a boyfriend that she had lived with for many years. Margo, Diana's Mom finds a box of letters and discovers that her grandfather Antonio Cruz, believed to have died during World War Two, actually survived and wound up living in the Philippines. Margo's Mom had brought her up as a single Mom.

With this new information, Diana and Margo leave to the Philippines, to try and understand the family dynamics. There is a new family for them to meet, and they would like answers to questions that were never answered.

I love the way Tif Marcelo vividly writes and describes about the beauty of the countryside, and the character's personalities.  This is a book about second chances, forgiveness, finding oneself, the importance of family, love, and hope. Just sometimes you have to take a step out of your comfort zone, to find what you are truly seeking. I would highly recommend this thought-provoking novel for those readers who enjoy an entertaining and delightful read.

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'Once Upon a Sunset' was everything I hoped it would be and more.

As a Filipino-American I've struggled with my identity my entire life and even more so as an adult. This made it easy for me to connect with Diana and Margo. After my father's passing I was reunited with the entire Filipino side of my family that I never knew existed. Although I grew up knowing some pieces of what it meant to be Filipino.. I never really KNEW how it felt until I met my father's family.

So as Diana and Margo chase after the truth behind their lineage I felt many emotions. I felt their confusion and even their excitement as they discovered new things that made them who they were. It was all very similar to my own experience.

This story was beautifully told. I always enjoy Tif Marcelo's stories. She is such a fantastic author that easily blends sentimental stories with a sweet romance to top it off. The perfect combo for me! I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for some guidance in their own life. <3

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It’s already really exciting to be able to read traditionally published titles in the US that are by Filipino-American authors. But to also learn that a story is going to be partly set in the Philippines? That definitely heightened the anticipation I felt before I started reading Once Upon a Sunset. It’s the story of a daughter (Diana, a successful, driven OB-GYN being asked to take a break from her job after a split second decision she makes one stressful night on call) and her mother (Margo, an older Instagram influencer who is determined to make the most of the years she has left), and their complicated relationship dynamic. They’re thrown further into chaos when Margo finds letters from the father she’s always been told died in the war, and end up traveling to the Philippines to find out more about him and the family they never knew about. Unsurprisingly, the Philippine setting was a highlight for me. It’s a little different from how I see the Philippines, but I appreciated how her sentiments towards the place reflected some of my own. But, more than that, it was the family aspect of the tale that I liked. I’m all for reading about complex, loving, unconventional familial structures, and I got to experience that in a relatable way. Unfortunately, this novel isn’t a new favorite for two reasons: a lack of connection to either of our main characters and the execution feeling clunky and rushed at turns. I’d still consider Once Upon a Sunset a solid read, though I’d treat it as more of a borrow than a buy.

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once upon a sunset. this was so cute and precious and full of heart. tif marcelo needs to write more books all the time and all the days.

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Once Upon a Sunset is a heartwarming story about family and finding yourself. This is my first time reading Tif Marcelo and I adored her writing style. It has so much heart, humor, and humility.

This story follows Diana an OB/GYN whose world is crumbling right between her feet. She is dealing with a tough breakup that leads her to take a sabbatical. When her mother Margo finds a box of letters by her grandparents, they both learn more about their love story and about their family's heritage.

This is a beautiful story that captivates you with its charming writing and relatable characters.

I give Once Upon a Sunset 4 stars. I really enjoyed reading my first Tif Marcelo novel. Diana and Margo's growth throughout the book is fascinating and admirable. I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy a story full of heart.

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I was completely drawn into this poignant story of self-discovery, family secrets, forgiveness, and opening one’s heart up to the possibility of happily ever after. I fell in love with each of the characters, won over by their candor, their vulnerability, their courage, and their accepting hearts. The setting of the Philippines, with its unique culture, language, and history, added another layer to this enthralling story.

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I really enjoyed this story of families and relationships! Love learning about the food and the culture of the phillaphines... highly recommend

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Another feel-good, soft, heartfelt mother-daughter, grief, self-discovery story but also Switzerland read for me! I didn’t adore it but I didn’t hate it at all because it’s well written book with layered characterization and moving, tear-jerking story.

Diana (daughter) is an OB/GYN at the hospital, ends her long term relationship and one day unexpected things happen at the hospital result with her taking some leave. No job, no boyfriend and it gets worse when she hears her grandmother’s passing away because this also means her mom Margo will move to her house.

As she tries to adapt with her new life, she finds a letter from 1940’s that belongs to her grandfather she thinks he has died at the Second World War. But she realizes he hasn’t died at that time and she has relatives at Philippines. Yes, so many revelations and life changing situations at the same time. And Diana sees that as an opportunity to experience new things about her life as her mother is reluctant to dig more about the past because the recent news about relatives is hard for her to adjust herself.

Struggling but also heartwarming relationship parts about mother and daughter are good parts of the book but I think the Philippines setting fasten the pace and made the reading more intriguing for me.

So why did I give 3 stars instead of four! I think after seeing the name of the book and the cover, I was ready to read something romantic but I got more family, facing the past and resolution story. Maybe this fact made me a little disappointed but it was still promising, soft and enjoyable read. I’d like to read more books of this author.
Some of them are already at my TBR Mountain.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Pocket Books for sharing this feel-good ARC in exchange my honest review.

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An overworked, over-stressed woman makes a decision that can impact the rest of her life. Diana has worked hard to get to where she is in her life and all of that is about to change. Her job is on the line, her mother is taking her sweet time to unpack into Diana’s house, Diana’s boyfriend has left her and she is tired. When Diana’s mother Margo, uncovers letters that could alter their lives, Diana jumps at the chance to dig deep into the past.

This was a sweet story that takes these women on a journey they will never forget. What would you do if you found out that what you believed about your parents was not true?

I really enjoyed this book and the way the story unfolded. Tif Marcelo writes this genre very well.

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Diana is an OB/Gyn and loves her job – even when she has issues with the ‘inequities’ in the hospital’s policies regarding insured versus VIP patients. And, while doing entirely the right thing for her patient turns out to be entirely the wrong thing in terms of the hospital’s administration, it does give her time to help her mother sort out her grandmother’s belongings before her “bucket list’ trip with her friends, and be there for the ‘rehab’ planned for her townhouse. A rehab planned with her now ex-fiancé, another doctor at the hospital she works at. In the midst of all of the upheaval in Diana’s ordinarily very structured and ‘no surprises’ life there are twists – twists that she doesn’t want to acknowledge – but curiosity has more power than she ever expected.

Diana’s mother Margo raised her alone – much as Margo was raised by her grandmother Leora. Long buried history is contained in a box of letters from Antonio (her grandfather) to her grandmother Leora, and this opened questions about other relatives, the stories they took as truth, and some lingering desire to learn of their roots. While Diana decides to use her ‘break’ from the hospital to follow up a lead from a private investigator, Margo’s plan is to head off to New Orleans, then California and elsewhere with her friends – their bucket list trip destined to be an Instagram sensation.

This was lovely and managed to encompass al of the hope, questions, hurts, anger, forgiveness and frustrations that must have accompanied the ‘true’ reason that Antonio never returned to the states to claim Leora or his daughter Margo. Snippets of family strife from the ‘new relations’ appearing, protectiveness over what is seen as “their domain’ and the indomitable Flora, wife of Antonio and a woman of consequence even at the ripe age of 100, the story takes emotions, questions, mixes in a ton of history from the Filipino perspective and tempers it all with the joy of family, acceptance and love. Learning who you are, and finding answers to questions that you hadn’t even asked yourself – at least not consciously, all blend into a story that is easy to read, engaging and heartwarming. A favorite for the people, the characterizations, the emotions and the ability to tackle difficult subjects and make them make sense – Marcelo’s family and friendship-based stories are first rate.

I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

Review first appeared at <a href=”” > <a> I am, Indeed </a>

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Once Upon A Sunset started off well but then tapered off to a still decent, but underwhelming second half.

For me, the beginning was relatable and had me wanting to read more simply because I felt so connected to Diana and the trials of life she was going through. I have been through some of the exact same things so I found myself feeling sorry for her because I know how she was feeling all too well.

Once we got into the scene of meeting the long lost family (mid-book), this is where the connection to this story started to lose me. There wasn’t anything in particular that let to me into “meh” mode, but I guess it was just… unmemorable. It was predictable and nothing really special or warming happened. It was just…OK. Underwhelming I think is the best way to describe it.

Diana’s relationship with Joshua, a man she met upon arrival to the Philippines, felt forced. To me, this story would have been just fine without the forced need for a love story thrown in the mix. It would have been better off just being a story of a woman and her mother discovering their own identities. A book doesn’t always NEED to have a love story within! The love story in Once Upon A Sunset just doesn’t fit.

I never connected with Diana’s mother, Margo. She just didn’t make much sense to me. Her thoughts. Her social media status. Her “ignore it and it will go away” attitude towards certain things. Free-spirited is one thing. But Margo was a little of something else. I don’t know, she just wasn’t my favorite character in this story.

Overall, this is a book I would still recommend to someone who needs an easy read. Something you’d read while on the plane or on vacation where you don’t want to use any brainpower on a complicated book with a complicated plot. And we all need books like these! A mindless read with a good story and a warm ending.

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While I didn’t get to start this book as soon as I would’ve liked, once I started, I couldn’t put it down. This story was so beautifully told. I could feel the emotions of Margo and Diana. It made me laugh and cry. Excellent read!

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Absolutely LOVED this title, it had all the perfect pieces of a great story. Family ties, a bit of romance & mystery, great, strong characters - all in one it was fantastic, highly recommend.

Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Thanks to the publisher for an advance copy to read & review
What do you do when life is falling apart? You lean on family & friends. For Diana, that means good friend Sam and mom Margo....but could there be more??? I have never been to the Philippines, or really even thought about going, but I would love to take a trip into this book! The descriptions of the hotel and city made me feel like I was right there, the dialog between characters feels like conversation, and the descriptions of the food made me hungry!!
Tif Marcelo has a writing style that is easy to read and this book is easy to get lost in.

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Diana is having a hard time with life. A breakup, her grandmother dying, and getting in trouble at work. While going through her grand mom things, Diana and her mother Margo find letters from her grandfather. Diana decides it is a good time to go to the Philippines and find out what happened to her grandfather. This was a heartwarming story of family. Diana and Margo have a troubled relationship like a lot of mother and daughters and I found it so very real.. I received an advanced readers copy and all opinions are my own.

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I tried to read this book but the beginning was so boring. I couldn’t connect with the characters and the story felt too forgettable.

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This is the second Tif Marcelo book that I have read and she is now on my must read list. I love how she weaves in humor and love of family into the story line.

Diana is an ob/gyn at a better off hospital in Washington, DC. After making a life-saving decision regarding a less fortunate patient that annoyed a well-to-do patient, she was put on leave. While helping her mother go through the large pile of boxes that she brought when she moved in, she discovered information about her past that conflicted with what her mother had told her. This leads her to take a trip to the Philippines to learn more about her family history while she is on leave.

This is a wonderful story and you will also learn about Filipino culture. Salamat po!

I received an advanced copy of this book to review.

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