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Vampires of Portlandia

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When Marcella Leones relocates her family of aswang vampires from the Philippines to Portland, Oregon, she raises her grandchildren under strict rules so humans will not expose them. Her only wish is to give them a peaceful life, far away from the hunters and the Filipino government that attempted to exterminate them.

Before she dies, she passes on the power to her eldest grandchild, Percival. He vows to uphold the rules set forth by Leones, allowing his family to roam freely without notice. After all, they are aswangs.

However, when the aswang covenant is broken, the murder rate in Portland rises drastically. Who is behind the murders? And who is behind the broken covenant? Along with sensie Penelope Jane, Percival must find the truth.

It's then they discover that there are other breeds of aswangs—werebeasts, witches, ghouls, and viscera—who have been residing in Portland for years.

Based on Filipino folklore (aswang), “Vampires of Portlandia” is a fantastical tale of different monsters coexisting in the weirdest city in America.

436 pages, Paperback

First published September 29, 2020

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About the author

Jason Tanamor

2 books1 follower
Jason Tanamor (tan-uh-more) is a Filipino-American writer and author.

Named as one of the "5 Best Modern Filipino Writers" by Pinas Global Newspaper, Tanamor enjoys writing in different genres. He is the critically acclaimed author of the supernatural/folklore novel, "Vampires of Portlandia" and the YA #ownvoices novel called "Love, Dance & Egg Rolls."

Tanamor also spent a decade as an entertainment writer and interviewer, interviewing the likes of author Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club); comedians Demetri Martin, Jim Breuer (SNL, Half Baked), Aisha Tyler (Talk Soup, The Ghost Whisperer), Dane Cook, and Gabriel Iglesias; musicians Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), Ann Wilson (Heart), Taylor Momsen (The Pretty Reckless and Gossip Girl), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Dave Navarro (Jane's Addiction), and Henry Rollins (Black Flag); and baseball legend Pete Rose.

He has covered everyone from Steve Martin to Jerry Seinfeld and from Evanescence to President Obama.

Tanamor is married, has one son, and has a family of fur children. He currently lives and works in the Portland, Oregon area.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 67 reviews
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,156 reviews97.7k followers
September 21, 2020

ARC Provided by the Author & Caffeine Book Tours (#AswanginPortlandTour)

Vampires of Portlandia is an ownvoices Filipino story about a young adult named Percival who is soon going to be in charge of taking care of his family, while also becoming the leader of what is left of the Filipino vampires! Right now, it is only him, his lola, his younger brother Roger, and their even younger twin siblings and they all fled the Philippines to hopefully have a safer life where they can live in hiding without anyone knowing what they are. But that becomes harder and harder when murders are happening more and more frequently, and it becomes easier and easier to tell that these acts are not being committed by mere humans.

We also get to see the Philippines in the past too, where in this story people are scared of children carrying a chromosome that spreads this disease. This very much impacted the poor during this time of panic and because of this, and the dire and sad means to control it, there are not many aswang vampires. This story also talks about Filipino politics from the past that mirror a world we live in today, where men of god wouldn’t mislead their country and their people, right? (And I’m always here for a story with a Manny Pacquiao manananggal joke, because valid.) But this past story laced throughout is how we get to learn about how Percival’s lola, Leones, is forced to leave the Philippines and becomes the leader of the vampires. And seeing her life and history is so important to understand what Percival is going to face while carrying this legacy. Especially when a civil war starts breaking out between the aswangs in Portland because of these murders.

Aswang generally means “Filipino monsters” and there are a vast different array of creatures that can fall under that word! But in this book we get to see five different types of aswang all coexisting in the same city, but trying to remain hidden. Vampires, werebeasts, ghouls, witches, and viscera. But we also get to see another kind of creature and let me just say there are few things scarier than the manananggal. This take for sure depicts them spooky, but I grew up hearing much darker tales that still give me goosebumps until this day. Hands down one of the scariest parts of Filipino mythos, and for sure one of my favorites ever. And with my full chest I am here to say that western vampires could never.

My favorite aspects of the story were the Filipino values and culture always at the heart of the story. Family means so much to Filipinos and the story always shines a bright light on that and what it means to respect your family members and being willing to do whatever it takes to help them and care for them and love them. Responsibility is also a big part of this story and something that very much also resonated with me because I am the oldest sibling (and cousin) of my Filipino family! I also really liked the depiction of grief in this story and how it can take so many forms. And how the weight of grief can feel so very heavy to carry, especially when you’re trying to carry it alone.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story and it made my heart very warm to read it and give it a 3.5 star rating! Also, it made my tummy hungry for chicken adobo, pancit (my personal #1 comfort food), lumpias, and just miss home a lot. Oh, and I also really enjoyed the queer brewing side relationship in this book too! My only real complaint is that I felt like the pacing was a bit wild at times (like for the main romantic relationship and ending) and it made the events feel like whiplash at times! Also, there is a lot (and I mean a lot) of talk about the homeless and drug users in this story because they are the victims in this book and it just felt very repetitive and very bad, even when it was the villains doing it. But I still enjoyed this one and I feel very honored to have read and reviewed it!

Trigger and Content Warnings: murder, death, loss of a loved one, grief, blood depictions, and some very sus sentences about homeless people (even in a negative light).

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Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,405 reviews256 followers
October 14, 2020
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Vampires of Portlandia by Jason Tanamor was one of my highly anticipated releases of September. It's not often you get to see the aswang of Filipino mythology in fiction of any kind so I jumped at the chance when I saw it on NetGalley. For the most part, I liked Tanamor's story and getting to know the characters and urban fantasy world he's created here. There's so much potential for this to great, but it never quite manages to hit and hold its stride. It certainly has its moments and it's definitely a solid fantasy, but that said it can really drag. When it drags, it was very easy to lose interest. There were several scenes where I wished the cast and world was a little more fleshed out, particularly the secondary characters. In the long run, though, I'd say it's still worth your time even it never quite fulfills its promise. I have a feeling you'll want to give this a try if you also enjoy the tv shows Grimm and Supernatural.
Profile Image for rain.
600 reviews336 followers
Read
August 8, 2020
i.... really wanted to like this book. i really did. but i ended up disliking it so much that i almost did not finish it 🙃

i was really looking forward to this, especially because it's inspired from filipino mythology. it has aswangs and manananggals which are figures that i know so well from horror stories i grew up with. however, im sad to say that this book didn't give these figures enough justice. they were too...americanized for my taste and i think they also lacked depth.

in fact, this book as a whole lacked depth. everything—from the plotline to the characters—fell flat for me. i wasn't able to connect with the characters and the story which made my reading experience very unsatisfactory. the relationships in the story didn't also build up really well. i understand that the author really wanted to emphasize the importance of family but i didn't feel a strong familial bond among the characters. the romantic relationships were also not well-developed. one second these characters didn't even know each other but two paragraphs later they're two steps away from falling in love??? I DON'T THINK SO SIR.

i found the writing style very bland as well. there was too much showing instead of telling. i also didn't like some descriptions about the characters. THERE JUST WASN'T ENOUGH FLAVOR I AM SORRY 😭

i was disappointed that there wasn't any mystery to this story at all. at first, i thought there was going to be an interesting mystery subplot but there was nothing. there was no mystery behind the killings happening in portland and the knowledge of the killers was thrown in a roundabout way that i felt nothing at all when i read it.

the whole civil war plotline was also boring, especially because it started out with a stupid misunderstanding. it was ridiculous to me that the vampires were the "head" of the aswangs but leones didn't tell percival about the covenant and the other kinds of aswangs. it's also baffling that percival inherited the amulet without knowing of the other aswangs. with the amulet inside him, couldn't he have learned everything about the covenant and the other aswangs??? idk.

everything about this book was half-baked. i really had a difficult time reading it because there was nothing in the story that engaged me in the least. i also feel so bad about writing this negative review but i honestly don't know what else to say 😭
Profile Image for Vicky Again.
583 reviews819 followers
Read
October 5, 2020
DNF @ 65.4%

I really was so excited for Vampires of Portlandia. It sounded amazing--Filipino mythology and vampires, magic, Pacific North West vibes. And I do think that the things I was excited for were still exciting, but I hit some road blocks while reading that made me ultimately DNF this book.

I almost never DNF ARCs. It's not an action I do lightly, but as my time is more and more precious in college and because it's become increasingly important for me to find joy in fiction and not drag my feet about reading, I've DNF'd Vampires of Portlandia. I tried very hard to give it my best shot, and it's been hindering my reading for more than two weeks at this point.

The writing style is different than I am used to, but I don't actually think it's inherently bad. It's more roundabout and measured than the direct type of writing I am used to, but I don't think that makes it bad. Tanamor uses third person in a very distinct way that's like a narrated script, but also not. There's changing POVs, little details that a narrator wouldn't know, and things slipped in that you should be paying attention to. It just meant that for me personally, I had a hard time getting absorbed into the story from the writing. I think if I was a different reader, I could absolutely enjoy the writing style more, but ultimately that's not me.

What was ultimately a deal breaker for me was the writing style in combination with the way Vampires of Portlandia framed victims of the murders happening. To be completely honest, I feel like the way the story talked about homeless people, the elderly, people who are struggling with drug abuse, was callous. One line (from the e-ARC, mind you) read

"Thus, they [the ghouls] added a new clientele to their repertoire [the people they preyed on & killed], one who had also contributed very little to society--the elderly."

I personally disagree, and I think elderly people, although not perfect, are still important members of society? I think they do hold a lot of wisdom. I dislike this framing a lot and I don't enjoy it being used so casually. I think we can absolutely examine sentiments like this critically, but I personally felt like it was an offhand comment that was meant to be more stylistic, rather than critical of the ghouls.

We see the same thing with the treatment of homeless people, as the story reduces them, who are the predominant population being murdered in Portland, to a faceless aggregate. There were anti-homeless sentiments being expressed, as well as really suspicious lines about drug use.

It made me uncomfortable enough that I DNF'd the book. I just grew so tense with how the story used homeless people as faceless victims of these murders, but used the writing style and narrative to push the readers away from empathizing with the people affected by the murder, and instead read about the vampires and werebeasts and ghouls and witches and viscera and their conflict.

I don't think my priorities matched with the priorities that Vampires of Portlandia had, and it's honestly a huge relief to be able to put this down.

I think readers who are more persistent or less sensitive than I can find something to like in this. The beginning where an anti-homeless sentiment wasn't so strong was interesting. I liked the folklore and the aswang. I liked the idea of a murder mystery. But I hated the framing, and that's ultimately what made me set this aside.

I've thought quite a lot about this, and I didn't make the decision to DNF lightly. I just can't bring myself to read more of this because I am quite frankly, very tired. There was so much potential, I can't help but feel left down.
Profile Image for Taschima.
849 reviews391 followers
October 3, 2020
DNF 12%

Vampires of Portlandia lost another reader.

My goodness, I do not like this book. The characters are flat, the story is uninteresting, the dialogue is cliché and cringey. But what really pushed me over the line of "NOPE" was a scene where a woman agrees to go to an empty bar with a man she exchanged literally maybe 20 words with because it was pouring rain and she couldn't open her umbrella. Did any women proof read this book? WHO WOULD DO THIS? No woman would go to an unknown location with an unknown man (literally, less than 20 words exchanged) in the middle of the day. And of course she was killed, but the rape implications of that scene... It was gross and unnecessary. Maybe the author didn't mean it that way, but it is how it came through to me (it is at the end of Part I).

That whole scene could have been taken out. Super awkward how we went from following the MC to suddenly following a random man. Just, not for me.

PS; I was intrigued by the setting of the novel, Portland, but there is a way to write a love letter to the city of Portland without shoving it down the reader's throat. I felt like there was a pile up of "Portland this and that" but barely any personal or interesting character development. By 11% I am expecting to be at least interested in SOMETHING in the novel. Sadly, I really wasn't.

PPS; I was provided a review copy in exchange for an honest review. Sadly, this was a miss for me. Thanks go to the publisher.
Profile Image for Vim.
110 reviews11 followers
September 23, 2020
I was given an ARC by Parliament House Press for an honest review. In no way has this affected my opinion of the book.

Aswangs in the US struck me as a very interesting concept. It's an intriguing way of tackling how the Filipino mythos could play in a backdrop so modern and foreign.

That said, it did not play well.

Tanamor uprooted these creatures from its motherland, threw it overseas, and left it there to die. He stripped the lore to mere warring tribes with little to no characterization at all. All this because he tried to tackle too many social issues at once -- immigration, homelessness, racism... You name it, it's probably there -- for the sake of discussing them. There was no clear goal or commentary. I know the lore of the aswang and have a good grasp of the types so I could differentiate between them, with much effort. But for those reading from outside our culture, good luck. Ironically, the author put so little effort in fleshing out the stars of his show.

Even worse, I hated how minorities were represented. Aswangs in this novel are immigrants who have made their home in Portland which is described as a sanctuary to those migrating to the US. However, they were also portrayed as predators. And I thought that was the worst until I read how they thought it was okay to kill the homeless, another minority that inhabit Portland, because they are acting as population control. As if the homeless are pests.

The plot was sent this way and that, leaps of logic at every turn. I thought infodumps were the worst exposition but I found out that glossed over infodumps were, as again and again I encountered "he told them about..."

It didn't help that there was no flourish at all to the writing, the book filled with awkward fourth wall breaks, clunky dialogues, bad humor, and repetitive description.

Tanamor focused on peddling the culture of the Philippines in bite-sized portions: big enough to recognize its origin, but too little to be appreciated for the beauty that it is.

Full review on my WordPress soon.
Profile Image for Frankie.
464 reviews120 followers
October 6, 2020
Thank you to Caffeine Tours for letting me participate in this blog tour. You can find my article introducing aswang and Philippine mythology HERE!

Thank you also to the author, Jason Tanamor, for providing me with a free e-copy of this ARC.

So, now that the blog tour is long over, I'm finally posting my review. Trust me, nobody is more disappointed than I am. This was a highly anticipated read (aswang!!! urban fantasy!! Filipino author!!) but unfortunately it fell flat.

I think this novel needed a lot of work. You can really tell that it's a debut. While I enjoyed Tanamor's worldbuilding (the secondary storyline about the aswang in the Philippines really captured my attention!), I felt like it had problems with pacing, character formation, and even prose. Like it was almost there but not quite.

However, my biggest disappointment is the lack of research for basic facts. Tanamor may be a Fil-Am, but he's still Filipino, and if he can research about aswang folklore and history, then I wish he could have done a simple Google search as well. The most glaring fact is when the characters say they're going to drive from Samar to Baguio. Nope, not fly. DRIVE. If you're not aware, those two are located on different ISLANDS. And this isn't a tiny leap, okay. You don't just ride one ferry. I took a video of the distance using Google Maps and posted it to Twitter here.

Despite that, I really enjoyed the family relationships and the fact that these aswang aren't scary monsters but rather very loving and human characters. It's very refreshing and the way Tanamor weaved in Filipino culture was great. But yeah, unfortunately it was not what I expected.

Profile Image for Paula M.
546 reviews643 followers
Want to read
August 18, 2020
Hello everyone, just sharing that I interviewed the author, Jason Tanamor over at my blog HERE and we're giving away copies of the book too! Open INTERNATIONALLY!

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Profile Image for Yna from Books and Boybands.
741 reviews345 followers
November 3, 2020
“To being here. Something we can't always find time to do.”

📚 Series? No.
📚 Genre? Fantasy.
⚠ Book Tags: Filipino culture. Vampires.

Could Have Been So Beautiful..

As a Filipino, I always want to champion works of my fellowmen, especially because I know how hard it is to get your name out there and that Filipinos need to be represented more in media. However, when we're talking about representation, you would want to get things right before doing anything.

Reading The Vampires of Portlandia is an utter disappointment -- in more ways than one. But first, on its understanding of what the Philippines actually looks like. 🤦🏻‍♀️ I would have hoped that the author had Filipinos read through his work before making his final draft, because two main things shouted at me here.

One of the Philippine settings of the book was in Baguio (+Sagada) .. and it's one of my top 5 favorite places in the country. I go there at least once a year. Seeing it on a page is exciting - and then the author says that the characters drove from Samar to Baguio. Nope. The Philippines is a group of islands - and you just can't drive to each of them, unfortunately. Also, Baguio doesn't have the beautiful sandy beaches. Are you sure you're not thinking of Batangas or Boracay? Baguio is the Summer Capital of the Philippines because it's high up in the mountains and very cold compared to the heat of the rest of the country.

At this point, I really wanted to DNF the book, so I sped read/skimmed through the rest instead.

I was trying real hard to find something good in the book. So, here. I loved the family values concept here, and the leadership being passed on to the different generstjons of the family. I loved the glimpses on the country's folklore and the different type of creatures that we have, though the blanket term 'aswang' can pertain to so many kinds. I found it fun that they LITERALLY flew from the Philippines to Portland as a family. I imagine how tiring that can be as a plane ride can go from 12 to 20 hours by plane.

On the other hand, other disappointing things lie ahead. The writing style is hard to connect to. Basically, it's boring and dragging. The "narrator" of the book gives a very prejudiced approach to the elderly and the homeless people. Social issues like racism and immigration were attempted to be discussed, albeit a little weak on delivering a good message.

The relationships between characters could have had more dynamic. Mystery could've been added in the plot to play it all up more. Better research on the aswangs could have made a fuller experience.

Overall, the book had the potential to hit something amazing. But, it tried to achieve too much and failed drastically instead.

☁ THE CRITERIA ☁l

🌼 Blurb:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Main Character:⭐⭐☆☆☆
🌼 Support Characters:⭐⭐☆☆☆
🌼 Writing Style:⭐☆☆☆☆
🌼 Character Development:⭐⭐☆☆☆
🌼 Pacing: ⭐⭐☆☆☆
🌼 Ending: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Unputdownability: ⭐⭐☆☆☆
🌼 Book Cover:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆

☁FINAL VERDICT: 2.4/5 ☁

Much thanks to Netgalley for this complimentary copy. This review is voluntary and opinions are fully my own. Also, all quotes are taken from the ARC and may be different in the final published copy.

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Profile Image for Leo.
4,181 reviews373 followers
May 15, 2021
The grandmother of the family moves her family from the Philippines to Portland, Oregon to get away from the Hunters and Filipino government. Because the family is indeed vampires, aswang vampires. The story follows Percival as he tries to solve a murder and what happened to the covenant of aswangs. The premise of this sounded so cool and I was so excited to dvelve into this book, but I was highly disappointed in this. Wasn't engaging and there was a few issues throughout the novel and it just didn't work. Would love to read more books about aswangs and other mythical creatures from other cultures though
Profile Image for Layla.
464 reviews4 followers
October 5, 2021
I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

2.5 stars.

I was really excited to read this book, the entire premise behind the story excited me and we need more Filipino own voices fantasy out in the world.

However, I was left feeling a little let down by the writing. I feel that it read like a first draft and needed a lot of work on the timeline, as well as the characters and the dialogue. It has so much rich history and lore to work with, which is why it's a 2.5 star for me. If I only judged this book on the writing alone, it would have been lower. You didn't really get a good grip on the characters and there are plenty of emotionally charged moments, that fell a little flat because you hadn't a real feel for the character, nor time to get attached enough to immerse yourself into their feelings.

Really great concept, I just think it needs more work on it. It has the essence of something really great, and I could easily see it adapted for TV.
Profile Image for ♥Milica♥.
750 reviews225 followers
December 21, 2021
I really thought I'd love this one. Unfortunately, it didn't match my expectations.

The book was very repetitive, if I didn't remember something the first time it was said then no worries, it would be mentioned again and again and again...

I didn't much care for the "past" chapters, I kept wishing for them to end quicker so I could get back to the real action.

In the "present" chapters what I liked was the family bond, I felt it. Percival is a good big brother who would even sacrifice himself to save everyone else. PJ is pretty cool in her own way too. But my favourite has to be Geena, she's adorable, and all the cooking made me hungry.

The civil war...that was the biggest let down of all. It wasn't as exciting as it was supposed to be. Especially the way it got started - by Roger just wanting a little flying snack - give the kid a break why don't you?

All in all, it was a pretty quick read and decently enjoyable.

*Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for mari.
370 reviews15 followers
October 11, 2020
was a 4 star... then the ending happened.

i perhaps enjoyed this a lot more than others, but that doesn't mean i didn't make it through scot free. while i don't echo a lot of other reviews' gripes about too much content, i did struggle with the writing and voice throughout the book, and oh my god do i hate that ending more than anything.

HOWEVER, much of the storytelling was reminiscent of steinbeck's cannery row, but much more plot centric and relevant with the flashback vignettes. i liked how we got glimpses into bigger picture events spaced out by the main story. if the story had stuck to just the modern day aswang in portland, the narrative would've really struggled.

also, perhaps a little too much tell and not enough show, and definitely too much menial romance.

more thoughts to come as i simmer on the ending of this.
Profile Image for Mark Alpheus.
588 reviews7 followers
August 14, 2020
The book started slow. For me, the book's grip started when the book went back in time. The setting changes from Portland into Philippines and the background story it gave was so good. My heart was full then, as the book talked about things that are truly Filipino. I even learned new things from it. Then my heart became even fuller as I read further.

These bits of history does not only provide a great background to the present story, but it could also work as a good stand-alone story. There were talks about the government and lots more in these parts, which I truly enjoyed.

Full review at:

https://writtenbyal.wordpress.com/202...
Profile Image for Sandy S.
6,194 reviews152 followers
September 26, 2020
3.5 stars--VAMPIRES OF PORTLANDIA by Jason Tanamor is a paranormal/ urban fantasy story line based in the Filipino folklore focusing on the aswang-an all encompassing term for shape-shifting vampires, ghouls, witches, viscera suckers, and werebeasts (dogs and crows).

Told from several third person perspectives bouncing between several time lines and perspectives, VAMPIRES OF PORTLANDIA follows the Filipino-born Leones family of vampires to Portland, Oregon where they learned to blend into the human population. Upon the matriarch Marcella Leones’ death, a new leader for the aswang world must be born, and Percival, as the eldest of the surviving vampire becomes their reluctant leader by accepting the amulet of power. A series of grisly murders in Portland becomes suspect in the mind of Percival Leones, and his brother is about to become his number one priority until he meets PJ, a twenty-something sensie with the ability to feel other people’s emotions, and the supernatural community is pulled together for a potential civil war. With the aswang community focusing their anger at the family of vampires, it is another shapeshifter that focuses its’ malevolence on the Portland nightlife.

VAMPIRES OF PORTLANDIA is a story of betrayal and vengeance; death and destruction; power and control. The supernatural creatures of the aswang have set up their communities in Portland Oregon but one of the shapeshifters believes they should no longer follow the covenant written by the God Asuang but take control of the world in which they now live. The slow building premise is interesting and entertaining but it was difficult at times to hold my attention- the back and forth between timelines revealed the backstory and history but I think if the history and events had been revealed in order, the story line may not have felt so disjointed ; the characters are numerous, curious and intriguing. VAMPIRES OF PORTLANDIA is NOT a comedic story of fun and adventure but a story about vying for control of the supernatural world.

Copy supplied by Netgalley
Profile Image for Arianne Cerilla.
39 reviews2 followers
September 27, 2020
Thank you Netgalley and The Parliament House for the e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I wanted to like this book so badly. It’s a book by a Filipino author featuring Filipino lore so I was really excited about this. Sadly, the execution fell flat.

It was obvious that the author really wanted to highlight the Filipino culture and I appreciated that. I’m glad that a lot of Filipino authors have been expanding into an international audience. I do appreciate what the author was trying to do but, unfortunately, there are a couple of things I find lacking.

First, the writing feels a bit clunky. Some of the sentences don’t flow smoothly and the conversations don’t sound conversational at all. Also, the characters kept on ‘peddling’ when they should be ‘pedaling’. It’s a simple mistake but it was scattered all over the book (there were 26, I counted) and it became really annoying.

Second, and more importantly, I cannot get past the inaccuracies in this book. No one can travel from Capiz to Sagada in a jeepney (unless you go by RoRo, and even then, you’d have to drive a day or so!). Sagada is also in a mountain range so it doesn’t have ‘sandy beaches’. I think these are details that could have been caught in editing and I hope these can still be fixed before the book’s official release.

There are some scenes that didn’t seem relevant and did not do anything to advance the plot. Chapter 2 could have been deleted and the book would still be the same. It took so long for things to actually become interesting, and by then, I had already given up.

I rarely DNF books and always try to stick out until the very end but this book has proven to be a mountain I cannot climb.
Profile Image for Brandy {The Review Booth}.
187 reviews28 followers
September 15, 2020
Vampires of Portlandia appealed to me because of it's supernatural elements but also because I lived near Portland for several years and worked in NW Portland/Slabtown. I never had the chance to visit The Nerd Out but it sounds similar to Portland's gaming bar that I have been to in Old Town Chinatown- Ground Kontrol. If you're a fan of video games - specifically pinball or arcade games I highly recommend visiting if you're in Portland. It was nice to see Hobo's & the Shanghai tunnels make an appearance as well. On the mention of Grimm - the office I worked at in Portland sat across from a warehouse that was used either to store or manufacture props or possibly for filming. I honestly don't remember which, one of the businesses we worked with was the talent company used for the show. I really enjoyed the nostalgic trip that this book took me on and it reinforced my desire to return to the area. 

I find it hard to believe that Leones would leave her grandchildren so woefully unprepared for other aswangs - like they didn't even exist. Especially after what happened to their little family in the Philippines, even though the children were probably both to young and didn't witness much of the event. The little vampire family is described as being close-knit but it just feels a little flat. Their characters aren't fleshed out enough to be interesting. The conversations and interactions between them are odd too - especially between Percival and Roger bickering over the mass deaths in Portland. I could buy PJ's attraction to Percival being amplified by his Grandmother's jewelry but not so much for Percival himself unless he was tapping into an unrealized Aswang perception. I could have forgone both romantic interests and I don't think the plot would have suffered for it. The perspective of Detective Cyrus could have also been omitted without much impact on the story, his additions could have been added through news outlets. Geena was really the only character I took a liking to, she seemed far more mature for her age than the rest of the family. 

I wanted to like this book more than I did. I think if it was spread out through two books the world and character building would have been immensely better off and allowed readers to connect more with them and the lore behind aswangs. The aswang lore is not a topic seen often and I would have loved for it to be more in-depth than it was. The backstory behind the aswangs leaving the Philippines was interesting. Percival being relieved at the amulet's final destination is odd - I would be terrified. I would like to thank Parliament House Press for the opportunity to return to Portland through Vampires of Portlandia - all opinions are my own. 
Profile Image for Rachel.
Author 9 books55 followers
August 17, 2020
I really wanted to like this book about aswangs and Filipino folklore set around a family of adopted vampires in Portland. Everything about the idea spoke to me! But the execution just fell flat. I couldn't find any depth to the story or characters, and at almost halfway into the book, I'm still not sure what the plot actually is. Sadly, this one wasn't for me.
Profile Image for Amber.
2,227 reviews326 followers
September 22, 2020
Overall, this book was a bit rough to get through even with my love of vampires. Rough to read due to pacing and writing. Rough due to treatment of characters and the romance. Just rough.

I received an ecopy of this through Netgalley; however, all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Tami.
51 reviews1 follower
December 15, 2020
Find me elsewhere:
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Read my review on the blog here.

There was a time when I didn’t feel Filipino at all, when I didn’t connect with either of the countries I belonged to. I didn’t know much about the Philippines even though my family would visit once a year. But if there was one thing I knew well, it was our mythology and folklore. I’ve always been obsessed with the different superstitions, stories, ghost hauntings told by my family, especially my lola (grandmother). Even today, I ask my lola to tell me stories of Kapres, Tiyanaks, Duwendes, and Aswangs. These were my favourite stories as a child, and my love for our myths has only grown stronger.

So when I heard about Vampires of Portlandia, a book about a family of Aswangs in Portland, I added the book instantly to my Wishlist. I was so pleased when I got the opportunity to be a blog tour host (my first ever!)

This book is a great introduction to Philippine mythology for those who haven’t even heard of our various myths and folklore. It barely scratches the surface of the myths, but it teaches about the more well-known creatures. It was also a good idea calling them ‘Werebeasts’ and ‘Vampires’ to help those who are more familiar with the usual Western stories get acquainted with the creatures. I really hope that this is just the first book of many talking about the different Philippine myths and legends (and we have lots….) to help get them the attention they deserve.

My favourite thing about the book was the strong themes of family. Like Percival, there was a time when I was also raised by my Lola. This is common in the Philippines when so many parents are OFWs (overseas Filipino workers.) I love the whole modern Aswang take. Reading about Percival’s family is a glimpse into the life of a normal Filipino family – well, except for their diet, powers, and additional body parts! We usually think of them as monsters, though in some stories we are taught that they look, sound, and act human when they’re not feeding. To read of them being good Aswangs, with rules to not hurt anyone, was something new and appreciated.

Despite everything, despite leaving the Philippines, they did not leave their culture and traditions behind. From the food they cook and eat, to the respect they give their lola, the responsibilities Percival takes on as a kuya, and the importance given to family, they are a Filipino family through and through.

I think the whole government plot against the Aswangs and the second god Asuang was very creative and a great way to talk about why the Aswangs would have left the Philippines. It’s unique and there’s definitely a lot of potential there for more books. I feel like though it was an awesome idea, it was underused in the book. There was definitely more potential there and I wanted more of that and would have exchanged the romantic scenes for it instead.

I would have loved to read more from the perspective of Marcella as the scenes set in the past were sometimes even more interesting than the present. Basically, I wanted more of Marcella kicking ass and defeating the government! I’d read a book about that.

When it came to connecting with the characters, I didn’t really connect with any one in particular, but with the Leones family as a whole. I also came to feel more for Roger than anyone else. There were also way too many side characters that at times I had to stop reading and try to remember if and where I’d met a character before.

The story had great comedic scenes, and well-written angsty and dark ones. However I never felt that the book was too dark. In fact, I think this book would also do well with younger readers as it wasn’t too gory or scary.

I have to say, I could have done without the romance. I felt it was too rushed, too empty. There wasn’t much chemistry between the characters in the main romance (I felt more from the second pairing!) and I didn’t like the direction it took in the end as well.

The story had a slow start and was a bit draggy at times but the last quarter of the book was quite fast-paced, and a bit rushed. I feel like I waited the whole book for the climax only to have gotten on a roller coaster that ended faster than expected, leaving you feeling unsatisfied in a well. Overall, the ending was not what I expected either. I feel like I went from 180 to 0 real quick.

It was a good book and I really enjoyed reading about all my favourite creatures in a modern setting. I really think this will appeal to Filipinos living abroad and non-Filipinos who want to learn more about our myths.

Disclaimer: I was lucky enough to receive an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book from Jason Tanamor and Shealea of Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in the tour.
Profile Image for M.K..
Author 1 book22 followers
August 30, 2020
ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book wasn't for me. The full review can be found here.

Flat characters with stilted dialogue with the whole plot hanging on the plot device of Marcella not preparing Percival for his role as a leader. I loved the lore and better execution would've probably helped with liking the book, but I can't recommend it as it is, in need of proofreading and editing.
Profile Image for Yvan Ngo.
57 reviews12 followers
September 25, 2020
According to the lore, the legend involved two brothers, both gods. One brother Gugurang, was pure, and the other, Asuang, was flawed.


Growing up in the Philippines, I remember being more frightened than usual nearing November 1st and 2nd. These are the days when we mostly visit our dead relatives. I’ve always felt as if the pull of the supernatural is weirdly strong during these two days — I am also 150% scaredy-cat so, what do I know? Haha! I also remember news segments dedicated to ghosts, white ladies, and weird unworldly sightings. In addition to that, we live in belief, and maybe fear, of unnatural beings existing either in (or on) your neighbour’s tree, or that mound of dirt two streets over.

This was the main reason why when a blog tour invite for Vampires of Portlandia popped in my inbox, I quickly applied and hoped I could be a part of it.

Vampires of Portlandia is a #ownvoices story centred around the aswang lore in the Philippines. It follows Percival, and his family as they blend in in Portland, when a sudden influx of homeless and elderly deaths shakes the city. Much of what I know about aswangs in the Philippines came from scary movies that I tried so hard to avoid (remember Shake, Rattle and Roll?). Having these beings as the center of Tanamor’s story set during the holidays somewhat lessen the scare factor a little which I greatly appreciated. In addition to this, Tanamor gave the aswangs a morality to start with. They didn’t just pop out of nowhere. They are human.

Family, my friend, is the most important thing to Filipinos.


One aspect of the Filipino culture which was prevalent in this story was family. Family doesn’t always mean “by blood”. Family also means doing what ever you can to protect those you love. Throughout the story, I can’t help but feel as if Percival, Roger, Geena and Marco were put in such a disadvantage. However, the more I sit on it, the more I realize I probably would’ve done the same thing Marcella, their grandmother, did.

I enjoyed reading this. I enjoyed the display of conspiracy theory woven by the government to rid the Philippines of aswangs. I enjoyed the nods to Filipino culture. Furthermore, I appreciated Tanamor preserving their morality. Just because they’re aswangs doesn’t mean they’re evil.

Thank you to Caffeine Book Tours, Jason Tanamor, and Parliament House Press for letting me be a part of this blog tour and for providing me with a digital ARC for review.

If you would like to check out the rest of the #AswangInPortlandTour tour stops, you can do so by viewing the schedule here.
Profile Image for Ro.
321 reviews10 followers
August 4, 2020
I thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a digital ARC of this novel.

Actual rate: 2.50 stars

Well, this is probably one of the most challenging books i have had to review so far. Truly, I don't know how to explain how this novel felt to me without wanting to start aggresively ranting just then to feel guilty.
On one side, this book had a very interesting premise (and a very sick cover). The fact that it's strictly connected to Filipino mythology and showed a realistic reason for why all these creatures and the story was set in America was also a breath of fresh air in the Urban Fantasy genre (I swear, it's mostly forgotten but it's a detail that adds realism to the story).
Now, the problem of this novel is that it had the perfect ingredients to create an amazing story, but sadly they were dosed pretty wrong and it ended up being a mess.
First of all, the characters are completely flat. I have no idea of what kind of personality they were supposed to have, and the only one who distinguised himself a bit was a teenager who was going trough his Angsty phase. The feelings that their relationships should have provoked were inexistent: both the bond between the siblings and the one they had with their Lola felt empty, and the romantic relationship were not only insta-loves but also worse-than-Twilight cringey. I swear, the dude told the girl he liked that he was a vampire and she was like "oh...I like you too" and kissed him. Then there's the relationship that the angsty teenager had with a another random person, who was quite older than him and honestly is pretty questionable.
The writing style, the way this book was thought trough, was the worst part of the book. It's the reason why I can't help but call this book a mess. The dialogue was unrealistic, and the style of language didn't describe well the emotions the scenes required. The plot was incredibly confusing, sometimes there were scenes that led nowhere, while in others the narration left out details that were often crucial to understand the scene and the worldbuilding. I literally had to google the elements inserted into the story to fill the void, and the very brief descriptions that were given in the book felt like they were copied from Wikipedia
The finale felt also quite ridiculous, and anticlimactic.
In conclusion, as I said before, this book really had the chance to be a great novel, but the way it was executed made a mess out of it.
Profile Image for Deana Barker.
1 review
December 5, 2020
Loved this book for a lot of reasons but most notably for an entirely different take on vampires. These are aswangs from Filipino lore and I really enjoyed the origination story, as well as their arrival in Portland, Oregon—truly a sanctuary city welcoming “all kinds.” Tanamor paints a vivid picture of everything Portland, from landmarks to its pride of weirdness to the ubiquitous population of crows.
Profile Image for Dionne (HeyoitsDeej).
127 reviews2 followers
September 13, 2020
This will be a mess of a review. Entirely, a huge question mark just pops on top of my head as I finished the entire book. Vampires of Portlandia is the story about a small aswang family of Percival with his adopted younger siblings and "maternal figure" grandmother Leones. The family migrated to Portland from the Philippines, due to the increasing number of murders the Philippine Government placed on their kind. Years later, Percival must step up and take his place as the head of the family, and faced the challenges of being the leader of the entire aswang community.

That being said, the elements of the book were intriguing. It was a blend of Philippine Folklore, culture, and a little bit of life for Filipinos outside the motherland. Jason Tanamor aimed to create a supernatural, bad-ass kind of story with a strong sense of Filipino family ties. However, it was not selling for me.

It was mentioned in the book, of how the story is set similarly to the Grimm TV series universe. Being a huge fan of Grimm, I also saw certain similarities, but the dynamic and intricate universe of Grimm, didn't convey well with Vampires of Portlandia.

There were a ton of plotholes in the story, that made it hard for me to enjoy the story. The first off was how the characters felt flat. I didn't agree with much of Percival's decisions and reactions towards Roger, and the same could be said with Roger's actions as well. Leones, their lola also became a general plothole to me. The first was that, for a leading vampire, to simply dismiss not telling Percival and his siblings that there are other types of aswangs out there, or even laying down the general laws of the Covenant to ensure that the kids live a normal life made it questionable for me. You have this young adult guy going to be the future leader of aswangs, and there are no heads up on the rest of the hidden society of them.

It's like giving a kid an army and he's just playing soldier. The other plotholes rely more on the vagueness with the Covenant in general. This entire mess happened because Roger ate some aswang crows, and the sudden solution was "hey he broke the covenant, let's stalk and pressure them, instead of acting all civil and have a nice chat over coffee and explain why your brother fucked up."

I found it hard to believe that for the other breeds of aswangs would fear Percival's family and resort to tricks just to grab their attention, instead of seeing them as just this group of kids that no longer have a parental figure, and approach them not out of fear but of respect, or curiosity. I think, aside Hector, the bartender, the rest of the werefolks and witches handle the situation poorly.

The romance was stiff, and confusing on most parts. The book has genuine potential, but it is really rough around the edges and in need of a ton of polishing both in plot and character-wise. Overall, I am giving this book a 3-star rating. It was an okay read, though not yet on the high list of my recommendation list. I'd like to thank, NetGalley and Xpresso Book Tours for providing me an E-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Patricia Lim.
22 reviews
October 7, 2020
Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of this book from the publisher and Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in the tour.

This is part of the review I posted on my blog: Review: Vampires of Portlandia

Who knew that the aswang, like any modern Filipino, can be uprooted and live somewhere in the world? Vampires of Portlandia is an ownvoices novel about a family of aswang in The narrative is centered on the family of Percival, a young adult vampire who is destined to be the next head of the vampire clan and the aswang, living in Portland, Oregon. As non-humans, they try to blend and act like humans; however, the occurrence of murders left, right, and center makes it harder for them to cloak their identities as the murders appear to be supernatural.

Aswang in Filipino lower mythology is a group of shapeshifters. In the novel, Percival and his family are a group of vampires. The other four clans included are the witches (mangkukulam or mambabarang), ghouls, viscera (manananggal), and werebeasts. Each of the group has a leader that makes sure that the clan members follow the covenant, an age-old agreement given by the gods to the aswang to live in harmony.

The premise of aswangs living somewhere else outside of the Philippines is an unexplored concept for me. With urbanization and globalization, they must keep up with the times, right? It must mean that they have adopted modern ways of living. This explores the Filipino lower mythology further because it does not stop on the retelling of what they are and what sets them apart from other creatures. It goes deeper to show who they are and what they do.

Honestly, I was excited with the premise of the novel. Aswangs in a foreign country? Sign me up. What I like in the story is the emphasis on ties, whether it be family or friends. I also like the opportunity to see the life of a Filipino in a foreign land, especially the difference between the migrant and the first generation. I also like the attempt to show queer characters developing interest with each other (although it started with wrong reasons and behavior) and how acceptance within the family is still a question (especially in Filipino families).

But I find the story underwhelming. There are elements that are underdeveloped. The execution of the plot could be better. As someone who is a fan of works that feature Filipino lower mythology, I expected more. Telling the history of the aswangs is commendable. I was expecting the development of Percival as a character but I find him flat. The events, especially nearing the end, were a bit rushed especially the romance and the fruit of that romance. I was also expecting something grand for the clan wars but like the romance, I feel it was rushed.

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Profile Image for Emma Katherine.
271 reviews11 followers
September 28, 2020
Read my full review here: https://lifesanovelty.blogspot.com/20...


Opinions: Vampires of Portlandia is the epitome of YA vampire tales - diverse, electrifying, and atmospheric by all means. Even the protagonists' names support the eerie setting of Portland, Oregon! To start, the book's introduction does exactly that: introduce readers to the aswang culture and how Leones' coven plays into that. In what some readers describe as information dumps but I describe as strategic character introductions, we learn everything we need to know about all of our protagonists so that the rest of the book can focus on the dramatic, tense, and exhilarating plot. That said, once you make it past the first few chapters, you'll be on the edge of your seat with anticipation and second-hand fear as the story races through conflict after conflict. Nearing the end, as a reader it was difficult to say goodbye to my new literary idols but I couldn't wait for the climax to reach a conclusion and read the last of the pages that were each better than the last. As a whole, Vampires of Portlandia left me with chills down my spine, new favourite folklore to research, and resonating themes about family, acceptance, and open-mindedness to ponder. What is not to absolutely adore and fangirl about?

My Favourite Thing: Time for me to fangirl: I loved the Filipino folklore woven into Vampires of Portlandia! It was fresh, unique, and most of all, insightful. Obviously, vampires and supernatural creatures are seen as just that, nowadays: supernatural. However, by Tanamor writing an entire book around the legends of aswangs, he not only gave readers an entertaining story but introduced us into Filipino history and culture. I sincerely hope all readers take as much interest in the folklore as me and appreciate Tanamor's inclusion of these different creatures!

My Least Favourite Thing: All of that said, Vampires of Portlandia was definitely a Twilight remix. For the most part, I loved that aswangs lived in Portland; it was an eccentric concept that supported diversity and introduced readers to other cultures' beliefs about the supernatural. However, this element of the story was poorly executed. The coven of aswangs relocated from the Philippines for not much reason and then complained about living in the shadows! It simply doesn't make sense because there were no aspirations or motivations to live elsewhere, meaning it is just a random and pointless fraction of the story.
Profile Image for Katrin (readwithkatrin).
200 reviews12 followers
September 22, 2020
“Do not make excuses. Take responsibility for your actions.”


The Good
-story switched from past to present so it was really nice to read about the older characters’ backstories.
-how the aswangs’ history was connected to the Philippines’ history (+ its government)
-the different kind of aswangs and how they differ from one another, not just how they look physically but also, the way they live
-shows a glimpse of how Filipino families are
-that little gibe about the Philippine government when the aswangs were talking about Arturo. 🤭pffft
-the relationship between the siblings – Percival, Roger, Geena, Marco. They have misunderstandings and they fight but at the end of the day, they’re still family and they will always care about each other
-Geena was imo, the most interesting (I wished we got more of her).

The Not-So-Good
-those very few moments where the author/narrator makes a comment as if they’re talking to the readers. just a bit jarring
-I liked the pacing during the first 40% of the book. It slowed down after that which I didn’t mind too much until it suddenly sped up and it kept that pace until the end. It’s when the action starts to happen and the conflict was revealed so I get why it was more dynamic but it didn’t really feel exciting to me since it felt like there were more things that could have been explored
-ending was a bit cheesy

Overall

This was a nice little story. I loved how it incorporated the Filipino values and culture that I grew up on.
It had the potential to be a great book if the story and its characters are more fleshed out.

“Family, my friend, is the most important thing to Filipinos.”




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