The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang | Book Review

 

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A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

Date Published: June 5, 2018

Date Read: August 15, 2018

Publisher: Berkley

No. of Pages: 323

Setting: Palo Alto, California

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Source: Copy provided by the publisher

Get Your Copy here: Amazon | Book Depository

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One of my favorite books of 2018!!!

I broke yet another rule I have set for myself – that is not to join in with the hype. You see hype highly affects the reading experience for me, and I wanted to enjoy it with the least influence as possible. But damn, the hype surrounding The Kiss Quotient is so real I’m so happy I jumped right in. I am afraid there’s no getting over it anytime in the foreseeable future. I’m even too scared this book will put me in the biggest slump, but know what? I’m fine with it. I’ll use that time to savor every moment, go back to the pages I have tabbed, and boy I have tabbed so many, it’s almost the whole book. A reread is definitely in order. And when I’m through with that, I’ll proceed to googling Daniel Henney our Michael Larsen and dream about him too. I LOVE THE BOOK SO MUCH, IT IS ALMOST AN OBSESSION.

Steamy, oh boy, why does it feel so suddenly hot in here?

The Kiss Quotient is more than what meets the eye. And boy I didn’t expect it to be too steamy! Too steamy, I literally felt I needed air whilst I am inside a fully air-conditioned room. The steamy scenes were perfectly and vividly written that you can very well feel the temperature go up. That’s some serious talent there, and not everyone can do just that. And don’t get me wrong, it is not just these steamy scenes that sold me. It was so, so much more, it was also sweet and tender, and ahhhh all the good stuff. It was not smut, it was adorable and fun! The hot and steamy scenes were played just right.

Asian Representation

Let’s admit it guys, asian representation is still something the publishing world needs to work on. So much so that an asian like me is too delighted to see an asian character portrayed well in a book, this shouldn’t be something we should get excited about. It should be a normal thing — to see asian everywhere and not just some fancy thing that happens once in a blue moon if we are lucky. Right representation truly matters and The Kiss Quotient was able to let us in on a fraction of Vietnamese culture, which is not far too different from other culture in Asia. Asians are big on family, we put too much value on our family so much so that we will do almost anything for them. This was portrayed in this book, and it was an amazing depiction. Michael Larsen, our male protagonist is half Vietnamese, and the way he made sacrifices for his family especially his mother was truly remarkable. True signature of Asians, if you ask me.

Autism and Own Voices

Another topic that needs more attention and more representation is Autism. The Kiss Quotient gave us a glimpse of what it is to have autism and how one manages her day to day life with it. I specifically commend this book since it was written by an author who is diagnosed with autism. I am drawn to own voices books, there is authenticity and rawness you couldn’t find anywhere. And that is the case here, the author was able to provide us with a character with depth and realness about her that is hard to miss. Stella is a very smart and successful woman who had struggles when it comes to socializing which leads to having troubles having a romantic relationship with someone. She’s being pressured to have a boyfriend and eventually settle down, but all these seemed to be a challenge for her, and so she hired a male escort – which was Michael, this half-Vietnamese, half Swedish mighty specimen of a man, And the story took off into this steamy, swoon-worthy and all things amazing reading experience. Their first encounter? I was seriously contemplating to take a half day and go home and just read the day away, (yeah I was reading at the office, rebel). Don’t you just love when that happens? The book is so good you just don’t want to participate in life even if it is something that pays the bills! Hahaha

Many may not be aware of the Netflix series Atypical, the lead character has autism as well. This is why I was able to understand Stella in this book. Also the reason why I enjoyed it so much more than what I had anticipated. There are actions that may put someone off, but it is what the book required, it is what it is, and I had no problems with how Stella was portrayed. To me it was just spot on and amazing, again the authenticity is really palpable. And might I add, I love how Michael didn’t even bat an eye when he knew that Stella has autism, because he understood, he has this level of maturity that men seemed to lack these days (haha), he was patient and just the most logical person there was. He understood Stella in a way two people in love can.

This is how romance should be done!

The Kiss Quotient is definitely one of my favorite books of 2018. It was everything I needed and everything I truly enjoyed. It was yes, predictable, because duh this isn’t a thriller, but the best part of the reading experience is how everything leads to that ending. The story chapter per chapter, the build up and all those sweet moments between Stella and Michael. It has been a month since I last read the book and I’m still thinking about it up to now. I can see myself rereading it whenever I need some pick me upper or when life has been unbearably stressful. Helen Hoang instantly became a favorite author, I vow to read all her books until kingdom come! So this goes without saying, this book i worth your time, go ahead and pick it up!

 

 

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“Love, he found, was a jail. It trapped, and it clipped wings. It dragged you down, forced you to places you didn’t want to go”
― Helen HoangThe Kiss Quotient

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Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since. In 2016, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Her journey inspired THE KISS QUOTIENT. She currently lives in San Diego, California with her husband, two kids, and pet fish. Helen is represented by Kim Lionetti of BookEnds Literary Agency.

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{Thank you @berkleypub for this free book.} . THE KISS QUOTIENT by HELEN HOANG . Synopsis: A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick. Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old. It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position… Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic ••• Oh my freak yes!!! I have been eyeing this book for a while now since almost everyone I trust for book recommendations has been raving about this book. It’s is all over my bookstagram and twitter feed, not to mention the great reviews it has been getting over at goodreads. This may be too hyped up, but I can already feel it in my bones I will totally love this one! Thank you so much Berkley for sending me a copy!!! You guys are amazing! 💙💙💙 ••• #TheKissQuotient #HelenHoang #BerkleyPublishing #BerkleyBookstagram #partner

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All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover | Book Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads: Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.

All Your Perfects is a profound novel about a damaged couple whose potential future hinges on promises made in the past. This is a heartbreaking page-turner that asks: Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people?

Date Published: July 17, 2018

Date Read: August 2018

Publisher: Atria Books

Setting: 

No. of Pages: 320

Genre: Romance

Get your copy here: Book Depository | Amazon

 

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Colleen Hoover has done it again! 

I know I said in my review of Confess that I wouldn’t want to think my relationship with Colleen Hoover’s works has already run its course, that I could salvage it. All Your Perfects was my salvation. It was redemption, and a very sweet one. After reading November 9 and Confess, I kind of shied away from CoHo’s books, I thought that was enough for me already, that I should move along and enjoy other authors. And I was wrong. All Your Perfects was a reminder why I loved her writing since 2012.

Imperfect Marriage as its highlight

All Your Perfects is about an imperfect marriage, of two people trying to work things out but is so close to failing. It has flawed characters and a plot that might hit home to most of the people. It was a struggle some married couples undergo.. This is where it will hit you the most, that vulnerability of it possibly happening to you, or might have been happening to some people you know. It tackled something so raw and real. Admittedly, I have been always drawn to books with dysfunctional marriage/family. I loved how the characters deal with their problems and whether they were able to push past it or how they completely drift apart. For me, there is some sense of beauty in dysfunctional people, how they perceive life and the situations they were dealt and how they manage to navigate though life despite it. That’s how a good book connects to people, how it presents not just the good parts but more so the ugly ones. How it highlighted imperfection and flaws, ultimately what makes us human.

Flawed characters

At one point I was so frustrated with our female protagonist – Quinn, but at the same time understood where she was coming from.  Quinn’s predicament plagued her marriage with Graham. The book was written in her perspective. Colleen Hoover was able to write something profound through Quinn’s voice. I commend how mature this book was compared to CoHo’s previous works, it truly is something different. The book highlighted the struggles of modern day woman, and that’s what makes it beautiful, it delved into something not all books willingly talk about.

Then we have Graham, our male protagonist who had flaws of his own but managed to come out of it well. These two characters really complemented each other. Graham oh Graham, he was just so good to Quinn, sometimes I feel like Quinn doesn’t deserve him. Yet another book setting high expectations for men. (This is why I’m single, lol). Graham wasn’t perfect, and so is Quinn, but Graham was the one who came through for this relationship to work, and I love how he was just so patient with Quinn. Graham was never perfect, from the onset he was presented to be as vulnerable as everyone else, but he always rise through the occasion and makes wise decisions. He was the one who stood stronger for the both of them. And though he made a mistake as well, you’ll just understand where all of it was coming from. I love how Colleen Hoover did not romanticize that part but presented it in a no-nonsense approach.

Two perfectly flawed characters who gave me the worst heartbreak. Ahhh I still remember the letters and I am seriously welling up right now. This book was just heartbreaking, I didn’t know what to do with myself from Chapter 20 down to the very end. I was inconsolable to say the least. I felt like I have cried a year’s worth of tears.

Fast Pacing and Unconventional presentation of each chapter 

The Then and Now chapters definitely set the mood. I was happy reading Then chapters and I dreaded reading Now chapters. It gave off this balance, but kind of will put you in a confused state. You don’t know if you’re going to be happy or if you’re going to cry. It made the book a lot faster to read. The pacing was just right. I love the correlation of every events, not one event was unnecessary. It was well put-together.

You’ll cry river of tears

All Your Perfects truly wrecked me. I have cried over books before, yes, but All Your Perfects took it to a whole different level, that kind of level where my flu came back because I cried so hard. Hahah I am not even kidding. And it is a wonder because nothing in the book relates to me, I am not married nor I’m in a relationship. But this book pierced through my heart and set a camp there. I was already warned that I should not be reading this book in public, that I needed to be alone. Well, I guess thanks for the warning, because all the tears came without preamble. Before I know it my shirt was already soaked in tears. It was so dramatic, that I didn’t even wipe any of it, I just let it, one teardrop after another. I was a sight to behold really, and I felt the pain, really, truly felt it. I don’t know why I was so affected by the Now chapters, I have nothing in common with the characters, I haven’t gone through whatever they have been through, but I was so immersed in the story that my heart completely ached for them. I think that’s the gauge of a good book, how it able to transcend from the pages through the reader’s emotions, whether the reader could relate to it or not. Colleen Hoover truly evolved through the years. She always has something new to offer in the table, and everything is different from the last. I mean, where does she get her inspiration from? She is truly talented, no doubt about it.

This may very well be my favorite Colleen Hoover book among the ones I have read. Imagine, Maybe Someday and It Ends With U were dethroned. That is saying quite a lot because I loved those two books so much. That said, please find the time to read this book. I am offering support should you need it, you know where to find me! Go get a copy now.

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“Until then, I will continue to love you more and more with every struggle we face than I loved you when all was perfect.”
Colleen Hoover, All Your Perfects

 

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❝Until then, I will continue to love you more and more with every struggle we face than I loved you when all was perfect.❞ ― Colleen Hoover, All Your Perfects ••• 💜Mini Review:💜 Colleen Hoover has done it again. There was a period when I shied away from CoHo books, (Confess and November 9 wasn’t really a big favorite), I was afraid my relationship with her books has already run its course, but boy was All Your Perfects the sweet redemption! . All Your Perfects completely wrecked me. I cried so much, my flu came back 😅 The puffy eyes and lack of sleep were all worth it. All Your Perfects was different from other CoHo books. I might be a little biased here. I think I love All Your Perfects more than Maybe Someday and It Ends With Us, and that is saying alot. This book tackled a topic I couldn’t fully relate to, but the way it was presented was amazing it pierced through my heart. I guess that’s the gauge of a good book, how it can transcend from the pages through the reader’s emotions, regardless if the reader could relate to it or not. . ✔️Imperfect Marriage ✔️You have the CoHo’s signature weird/extraordinary first meet-up ✔️It will make you cry, like literally river of tears ✔️Fast read 5/5⭐️ . Should you ever need someone to talk to after you’ve read it. My DMs are open. Hahah I know the feeling, because after I’ve read it I immediately needed someone to pour and share my feelings with. Thank you @jayne.vs.books and @booksandacupofcoffee for being my support through that inevitable book hangover! 💜 ••• #AllYourPerfects #ColleenHoover #CoHorts #QuinnandGraham #Atriabooks

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From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata | Book Review

Review:

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If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one.

After seventeen years—and countless broken bones and broken promises—she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close.

But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything.

Including Ivan Lukov.

Date Published: February 1, 2018

Date Read: July 2018

 

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Okay let me just say this first, before everything I’ve been meaning to say slip out of my head. WHY DO THEY BLINK SO MUCH! THEY BLINK SO MUCH AS IF THEY WOULD HAVE A SEIZURE OR SOMETHING IS AWFULLY WRONG WITH THEIR HEAD. There I said it. Never have I read a book that the characters’ blinking is given too much emphasis. NEWS FLASH, people blink, it is no rocket science, you need not be gifted to be able to blink. WHY IN THE WORLD DOES THIS BOOK HAVE TO MENTION THAT THE CHARACTERS ARE BLINKING? DO THEY HAVE SOMETHING IN THEIR EYE? IS THEIR A ROCK IN THERE OR SOMETHING?

Okay. In case you were wondering, yeah, I was shouting.

Now let’s get down to what we are all here for. From Lukov with Love is maybe the first and only book I have read about figure skaters. What attracted me to read it is the glamorous review it has been getting. Who could blame me? It was constantly recommended to me by people whose judgments I really trust. But then again, and I always forget this, we all have different tastes in books and there isn’t any guarantee that what the majority likes, you’ll like too, or even what the majority hates, you’ll hate too. Such is the case with this book. I went ahead reading this book with a very high expectation, an expectation, unfortunately that wasn’t met.

The book is about Jasmine Santos, she’s a half filipino, so yayyy! She’s a figure skater whose career is hanging by a thread. And then we have Ivan Lukov, the golden boy, he has won a lot of championships in figure skating. They were both partnered up to compete together. Sounds like a solid premise, if you ask me. This book revolves around Jasmine’s self-discovery and coming to terms with the hands she was dealt. It was more of a book about loving one’s self despite the flaws, letting people love you despite of it, put some family drama and solid friendship and tadaaa that’s basically the whole gist of the book. And the romance? Well, don’t let it mislead you, it wasn’t really a romance book, partly yes, but it was only at least 70% of the book that Ivan and Jasmine’s romance were emphasized. Is there something completely wrong with that? Well none really, I just wished I wasn’t led to expect a passionate love affair to bloom between the two, when in fact I am not getting any of it. It was a slow burn kind of romance, so slow you’ll get tired waiting for it.

Jasmine Santos’ character is the epitome of the word stubborn. Her character is way too immature for her age. I tried really hard to wrap my brain around everything she did, from those immature banters with her siblings, and with Ivan, down to the repetitive whining, angst and self-pity, boy, one can only read so much of it until she rip her hair off. Then we have Ivan Lukov, the way he indulges in these banters with Jasmine sometimes put me off. It was off-putting, it is borderline problematic. But I pushed past it and tried to read through all the bickering, and tried to appreciate the book for what it was.

Also can I just say how every small details were given too much emphasis and the ones that should be given emphasis  fell extremely short? The movements of the characters, i.e., blinking, cocking his head to the other side, and all these menial acts were so magnified that it truly affected the way I read the book. I tried to move past it, but how can I, when every other page it was mentioned? I was annoyed when I should really be appreciating the story. To be honest it completely ruined everything for me. I was looking for emphasis on the actual figure skating of Jasmine and Ivan, I want it to be so vivid as if I am watching some Olympics competition in my head but I was disappointed. It was just mentioned in passing, and I was like, that is what I am here for and I didn’t get it. It was a let down. Maybe it was so wrong of me to think of VirtueMoir, maybe that added up to the already high expectation. But damn, I was imagining a Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir level of intensity and passion in my head and I got nothing.

Also it felt like the book was preparing you for the biggest surprise, it keeps on building up one scene after another and you are sure something is going to happen but when it did happen you’re just like “????”, I wish there was the word for it hahah but I came out empty. There are moments that are anticlimactic, so much so that it affected the whole reading experience for me.

I hoped for more, maybe that’s what went wrong. I craved for something that would satisfy my thirst for romance books, but this only filled a quarter of the glass. I appreciate Jasmine’s relationship with her family, and Karina also Ivan’s love for dogs, but the story itself was a let down, that ending was cute though, I would have to give it that. It was a good plot, yes, it was the execution that didn’t sit well with me.

 

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“You are who you are in life, and you either live that time trying to bend yourself to make other people happy, or… you don’t.”
Mariana Zapata, From Lukov with Love

 

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Just finished FROM LUKOV WITH LOVE by MARIANA ZAPATA. . ••• Let me first share the synopsis: ❄️ If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one. After seventeen years—and countless broken bones and broken promises—she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close. But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything. Including Ivan Lukov. ••• Rating: ⭐️⭐️.5/5 Slow burn romance: ✅ Haters to lovers trope: ✅ Flawed protagonist: ✅ Sports romance: ✅ . So I just finished From Lukov with Love this afternoon. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either. I admit I went ahead reading the book with a very high expectation, but sadly it wasn’t what I had expected. This is always a lesson I keep on forgetting, never ever expect too much. Applicable in life too! Hehe. Going back, this book had its flaws but also had its redeeming qualities as well. I had the biggest issue with the “BLINKING” yeah, you read that right. I swear every other page “the blinking” would be mentioned, do they have something in their eyes? Are they okay tho?? And I keep on rolling my eyes at that. The tiniest movements of the characters here are overemphasized, it is borderline unnecessary. And the parts where the emphasis should be placed came out short. It could have been a solid 4 stars were it not for the BLINKING. You’ll get me should you decide to read it. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you. Full review to come! . ••• #FromLukovwithLove #MarianaZapata #figureskating #romancebooks

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Folsom (End of Men Book 1) by Tarryn Fisher and Willow Aster: Book Review

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The nation as we know it is a thing of the past.

With the male species on the verge of extinction, a society called the End Men is formed to save the world. Folsom Donahue is one of twelve men whose sole purpose is to repopulate the Regions. The endless days spent having sex with strangers leaves Folsom with an emptiness no amount of women, money, or status can fill.

Until Gwen.

Gwen has wanted a child for as long as she can remember, but when she finally gets a chance to have her own, she uncovers a long hidden truth. The injustice she sees moves her to help save the men whom no one else believes need saving.

A forbidden love, grown in a time of despair, ignites a revolution.

Folsom and Gwen, torn between their love for each other and their sense of duty, must make a choice. But some will stop at nothing to destroy them.

Folsom is book one of the End of Men series.

Date of Publication:  May 29, 2018

Date Read: June 2018

No. of Pages: 276 pages

Setting: Post Apocalyptic USA

Genre: Romance, Dystopia

Get Your Copy here: Amazon

 

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Folsom, where do I even start? I am really on the fence with this one. A part of me tried really hard to like it, a part of me finds the whole premise obnoxious but clever at the same time and a part of me just wants it to be over. It was a post-apocalyptic setting where men go extinct, and there are only 12 men left to impregnate as much women as possible to be able to repopulate. I know, me too, I had to process all that and I was more skeptical than hopeful. I was scared how will the authors pull off something like this. But I went ahead and read the book.

And oh my goodness, Felicia.

Let’s just say it isn’t my cup of tea (anymore). I’m not the right audience for this. It is with this sad realization that I don’t find joy in reading too much smut in a book anymore, or maybe it was just this one time, or maybe not. I hope this is just a one-time thing. Don’t get me wrong I love romance books with alpha-male and all that jazz, but this one didn’t do it for me. I was cringing half of the time. Maybe it is the way everything was presented, it was too literal, too right in your face (if that even makes sense), there’s just a little room for imagination, like everything was served in a platter and you’re given no choice but to devour it as is. Oh goodness, I hope I am making some sense here.

The characters, those unbearable, annoying characters. We have Folsom, the most sought after End Man. I was equal parts disgusted of his character and at the same time pity him for the hand he was dealt. Yes he was basically the Society’s highest paid prostitute. And believe me this doesn’t sit well with me. THERE WAS SOMETHING PROBLEMATIC but I shrugged it off and read on. I KNOW, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME. Believe me I was so tempted to DNF it, but I had to give it the benefit of the doubt, and so here we are. Then we have this love-sick puppy Gwen. She was too smitten I want to rip her hair off. Her character was this poor attempt to be noble, but failed miserably (at least for me). And can I just say how frustrating the women in here, they were like deprived, crazed sex addicts. And just nope, we don’t need that kind of portrayal. The world has doled out too much of it as is, thank you very much.

The book’s attempt to be unique, was just that, an attempt. It failed to sustain the obnoxious yet clever premise it promised. The delivery wasn’t as solid as I expected it to be. It could have been better, oh boy, it definitely could. I can’t pinpoint exactly what is wrong, and because of this it overshadowed any good aspect of the book, and believe me there were few as well. You just have to see past the cringe-worthy parts and the too smitten characters. In summary, the book was a dystopian, post-apocalyptic, erotica that could have been better if the cards were played right. I was looking for more, something that could redeem itself, a silver-lining perhaps, but found nothing.

And yes, I find it hard to believe it was by Tarryn Fisher – an author I love so much. As per Willow Aster, I can’t say much since I have not read anything by her until Folsom. I felt like Tarryn let me down, it is with a heavy heart to say and accept it. What is happening? This is definitely not the kind of book that made me fall in love with her writing. It was just sad. But what I’ll do is just stick around and wait for that book that will make me say “Oh yes, this is the Tarryn Fisher I loved.”, but until then I am not having any more of this End Men series. Folsom is enough I think.

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“It was the truth! For the truth to make a difference, it needs to be said by one person at a time, until there’s a noise loud enough to make a difference.”
Tarryn Fisher, Folsom

 

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Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman | Book Review

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Andre Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. Each is unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, when, during the restless summer weeks, unrelenting currents of obsession, fascination, and desire intensify their passion and test the charged ground between them. Recklessly, the two verge toward the one thing both fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy. It is an instant classic and one of the great love stories of our time.

Date Published: January 23, 2007

Publisher: Picador

Date Read: March 2017

Genre: Fiction/LGBT

No. of Pages: 248 pages

Setting: Italy

Get your copy here: 

 

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Unapologetically honest, unabashedly deviant.

Call Me By Your Name has been all over social media and Hollywood news for quite some time before I gave in to the hype and read it, add the fact that there no single soul I came across with that hated the book, or the movie for that matter. I willingly took in the plunge and immerse myself in the depths of the novel, and boy I didn’t even want to resurface. I was so engrossed by it, I didn’t want it to end. Elio and Oliver’s story is not quite the conventional one, nor is it something we are accustomed to seeing – but what captivated me more was how the author go about the book – the subtleties and undertones, the silence yet impactful approach really won me over.

Writing style is so beautiful I could marry it

It is undeniable that the writing style will ensnare any reader just by reading the first paragraph. The use of flowery words, may be too much for others but it was just perfect for me, perfectly matches the character of Elio – our narrator. I adored how he describes what he feels in such an elaborate manner that I could very well feel the overwhelming emotion stirring up inside him. It was so lyrical, raw and vivid. I love how each sentence was formulated in such a beautiful way that you wouldn’t miss how much effort the author has put into this masterpiece. Reading this book made other book seem mediocre, I don’t know if it’s just the books I come across with, but every book that I’ve read after Call Me By Your Name seem to fall short. I had to take a break from reading or else nothing can ever comes close to this masterpiece.

Unconventional Story

The story isn’t something we are accustomed to reading, despite the many books on LGBT topic, it still feels that we need more of it. Call Me By Your Name is a beautiful story on the discovery of sexual orientation and sexual preference, the inevitable confusion of the people involved and how were they able to reconcile with themselves. It was relevant and painted in such a beautiful light. You feel with the characters like it is second nature.

Real Characters

This book has characters that are relatable, though at varied extent. Elio for an instance is tinged with immaturity and indecisiveness but you will understand that this is what the story requires, to present the characters in their rawest and truest form just like any people you will ever come across with.

And Oliver, his character has this depth to it that you wouldn’t get at first, but as the story goes on you will know why he had to act at a certain way, always being careful of his words and actions. How he had to suppress what he truly feels – just to conform to what the society dictates, to what he thought was in propriety with the norm. It was sad that they had to hide who they truly are, sad that it still happens and society is not as accepting as we would want to hope it to be.

Elio’s father was my ultimate favorite. Especially that part when he was telling Elio that what he had with Oliver was special, I think that’s the part where I cried the hardest. It was heartbreaking as it was touching.

Unapologetically honest, unabashedly deviant

As I have said, Call Me By Your Name isn’t the typical fiction we come across on a daily basis, it is a rare gem. It is unapologetic in its pursuit to present a story that is honest and raw, unabashedly deviant – holding no reservations whatsoever. The readers are taken into this journey of self-discovery and acceptance, of heartbreak and mending, of missed connections and once and a lifetime chances. There is this beauty in this book that every word would fall short, as no exact definition could give it justice. The ending broke me, my tear ducts worked double and I let it – just so I could wash away that ache taking refuge at my chest. *Insert Mystery of Love by Sufjan Stevens on loop for all eternity*

 

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In your place, if there is pain, nurse it, and if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out, don’t be brutal with it. Withdrawal can be a terrible thing when it keeps us awake at night, and watching others forget us sooner than we’d want to be forgotten is no better. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste.

– Andre Aciman; Call Me By Your Name

 

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“In your place, if there is pain, nurse it, and if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out, don’t be brutal with it. Withdrawal can be a terrible thing when it keeps us awake at night, and watching others forget us sooner than we’d want to be forgotten is no better. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste.” – Andre Aciman; Call Me By Your Name ••• Just finished reading this book last night and I was reduced into a crying blob of a mess. I knew it was the inevitable end, I’ve been warned, but then it still made me bawl, wow that one hurts me more than I had anticipated! And the writing style is just pure masterpiece, I wish I could write like that! I have found a new favorite author and a new fave book! The hype surrounding the book and the movie is so real, probably one of few real things in this world, haha! I will watch the movie tonight. I partly listened to the audiobook, specially the “peach” part 🍑 *wink* and damn if that isn’t the hottest thing! Gahhh how to move on from this? Halp! Have you read it? What did you think? Full review to come! ••• . . . . . . . . #callmebyyourname #andreaciman #lgbtq #reading #ilovetoread #nerdytalksbookblog #pages #bookworm #bibliophile #booklover #writtenwords #justread #read #ipromotereading #vscocam #vscobooks #goodreads #blogger #bookblogger

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Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan | Book Review

sunday market

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Clarissa Goenawan’s dark, spellbinding literary debut opens with a murder and shines a spotlight onto life in fictional small-town Japan.

Ren Ishida is nearly finished with graduate school when he receives news of his sister Keiko’s sudden death. She was viciously stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister’s affairs, still failing to understand why she chose to abandon the family and Tokyo for this desolate town years ago.

But Ren soon finds himself picking up where Keiko left off, accepting both her teaching position at a local cram school and the bizarre arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politician’s mansion in exchange for reading to the man’s catatonic wife.

As he comes to know the figures in Akakawa, from the enigmatic politician to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, alluring student named Rio, Ren delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed, trying to piece together what happened the night of her death. Haunted in his dreams by a young girl who is desperately trying to tell him something, Ren struggles to find solace in the void his sister has left behind.

Publisher: Soho Press

Publication Date: March 06, 2018

Setting: Akakawa, Japan

Genre: Mystery, Fiction

Date Read: April 10, 2018

No. of Pages: 323 Pages

Format: Hard Cover

Source: Book of The Month

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It’s the “if you love (insert book here) you will definitely enjoy this” that pushed me into reading this book. A good motivation, really, since I am struggling to finish a book these past few months. And would just look at that gorgeous cover!

The book opened with Keiko Ishida’s murder, our protagonist’s older sister. Now Ren Ishida needs to go to a small town in Japan – Akakawa to learn what happened to his sister that fateful night. A promising premise, if you ask me, but unfortunately the book wasn’t able to sustain the thrill it promised.

Comparison to a Haruki Murakami novel

I was told that if I love Haruki Murakami’s books, then I would definitely enjoy this one. To be compared to a Murakami novel is a big shoes to fill, it sets a high expectation and either it would exceed the expectation or fall behind it. The case here is the latter. While it is true that the book is somehow reminiscent to that of a Murakami novel, there are however striking differences. Both have that subtle, silent, calm quality to it – qualities that would put you at a certain mood and qualities that if you don’t pay too much attention would be lost in you. However Rainbirds felt like it wanted to tell different side stories but the connection or coherence of it all did not meld well, it was a bit forced, to say the least.

Japan in the 90s

I love that the book was set in Japan in the 90s, it added to the mystery of the whole book. It may have been one of its strong suit. The way the author described certain places transports its readers and made them feel as if they were there too. I don’t know if it’s just me or books set in Japan has this melancholic feel to it that I can not pinpoint exactly, all I know is it adds beauty to the book.

 

Great premise, mediocre execution

The premise of the book is what would capture its audience. With an unsolved murder opening the book, it is but natural to draw readers in. The never-ending quest to know who did it will always be something readers crave, I myself included. However I find the execution of the whole novel a bit mediocre, again blame this on the expectation set too high. The loose ends were not as polished as I hoped it to be. The bridge linking the events and the domino effect it tried to provide were not solid enough to make the book more put-together. There were moments when I hardly see the relevance of one event to another. The few chapters toward the end felt a little bit rushed. It felt like everything is crammed up inside a suitcase, all wrinkly and in disarray. Maybe if the book was a little longer, it could have tied all the loose ends better. There were awkward parts as well, for an instance this particular scene warrants a certain reaction, but the characters in it did something cringe-y or something unconventional in the normal course of things – this happened a lot, and was a major turn off for me.

Characters and their likability

Ren Ishida – our main character is just your average guy – young, good looking and intelligent. Easy to like right? However as the story progresses, the book showed a side of  Ren that isn’t likeable. What is it with Ren and all these women? This is something the book can definitely do away with, it did not add anything to the story, if for anything it was a little annoying. Ren isn’t a spectacular character, he was plain and a little boring to be completely honest, his character could have been portrayed well, there are so many things the author could have done to make the main character cut above the rest, but no, it had to be this boring guy who for inexplicable reasons seems to draw the attention of too many women. Then we have Seven Stars or Rio who was portrayed as a rebellious teenager with issues of her own. Another character with great potential that the author failed to maximize. Her connection to the whole story is yet another forced one. Keiko Ishida, was the only one consistent in this story, this is through the recollection of her brother Ren, her character is what I expected it to be, the only character I liked to be completely honest. Other characters such as Ren’s neighbor, Izumi the building manager,  Mr. and Mrs. Katou, Pigtails, Mrs. Katsuragi, Honda, Anzu, Jin, and all others are characters that was supposed to contribute to the story but all fell short and I keep missing their relevance to it all. Again, great characters that the author wasn’t able to fully utilize.

On the fence

I don’t hate the book, but I don’t love it either. And it is such a sad situation where I can’t actually categorize it. Was it a bad book? No it was not, it had great potential just not executed well. Despite the issues I had with this book, I definitely would want to see the author grow and watch out what she will be able to come up with her next books.

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Sadness alone can’t harm anyone. It’s what you do when you’re sad that can hurt you and those around you.
– Clarissa Goenawan

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❝Sadness alone can’t harm anyone. It’s what you do when you’re sad that can hurt you and those around you.❞ – Clarissa Goenawan ••• Finished Rainbirds last night…and it wasn’t what I had expected. I was told if I love Haruki Murakami then I would love this one – that set a big expectation. To be compared to a Murakami novel is quite a big shoes to fill, and it’s either you exceed the expectation or fall behind it. The case here is the latter. I don’t hate the book but I don’t love it either. I am on the fence with this one. There are yes a few resemblance, but it is also quite different, if that even makes sense. I’d stop with the comparison, and focus on the story. It opens with Keiko Ishida’s murder, our protagonist’s sister. It held a lot of promise by this premise alone, but towards the end it just didn’t sustain the thrill of finding out what really happened. It feels like the book wants to tell so many different stories but the connection to it all seemed a bit forced? And the revelation of what really happened and all the secrets surrounding it was a little lackluster. But I do love that it is set in Japan in the 90s, the description of the place is enough to satisfy the reader’s curiosity, it just provides what the story needed. . Rating: 3/5⭐️ . Despite the issues I had with this book, I definitely would want to see the author grow and see what she will be able to come up with her next books. . ••• Full review now posted on my blog! Link in bio 💕🧡 . . . . #Rainbirds #clarissagoenawan #BookOfTheMonth #botm #mybookmark #renishida

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The French Girl by Lexie Elliott | ARC Review

Nerdy 
Talks' (7)

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They were six university students from Oxford–friends and sometimes more than friends–spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway–until they met Severine, the girl next door.

For Kate Channing, Severine was an unwelcome presence, her inscrutable beauty undermining the close-knit group’s loyalties amid the already simmering tensions. And after a huge altercation on the last night of the holiday, Kate knew nothing would ever be the same. There are some things you can’t forgive, and there are some people you can’t forget, like Severine, who was never seen again.

Now, a decade later, the case is reopened when Severine’s body is found in the well behind the farmhouse. Questioned along with her friends, Kate stands to lose everything she’s worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts around her. Desperate to resolve her own shifting memories and fearful she will be forever bound to the woman whose presence still haunts her, Kate finds herself buried under layers of deception with no one to set her free.

Publication Date: February 20, 2018

Date Read: January 13, 2018

Publisher: Berkley Books

Setting: France / London

No. of Pages: 294

Source of Copy: Provided by Berkley in exchange of an honest review.

Get your copy here: Amazon | Book Depository

 

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Beautiful writing style. The French Girl is not what I had expected.

The French Girl is about six friends who went on a vacation in France where they met Severine – the girl next door. 10 years later they are implicated as suspects in the murder of this French woman. This definitely sounded like a great premise. The constant guessing of who did the killing is always a pleasure to read, how everything unraveled revealing dark secrets one after another is always a huge treat for me. So you have to understand my anticipation whilst reading this book. Let’s just say The French Girl isn’t what I had expected.

The pacing was a little slow for my own liking, considering this is a mystery thriller. I wasn’t able to feel the usual the-edge-of-my-seat feeling I often experience reading thriller books. There are definitely some parts the book can do away with. Albeit slow, the book was able to show in detail the lives of the characters, their relation to each other, their past and what one meant to another. The book lets you in the ins and outs of the lives of the characters. How they act the way they do and the underlying history that brought them all together, and even when you think you got them all figured out, there will always be something that would surprise you. The French Girl is character-driven than plot-driven. I commend how the author made each character distinct from one another, drawing the lines from their traits and what makes them tick. It focused more on the dynamics between the characters, and while I do appreciate that, I wish the plot wasn’t sacrificed. The plot was a little lack-luster for lack of a better word. The story was a little monotonous and wasn’t as convincing as I hope it would be. I was waiting for intensity, for that heart-racing moment when everything was finally revealed, but I got nothing. My thirst for gasp-inducing plot twist was, sadly, not quenched.

Also, they could have titled it in a more catchy  way. If I come across this book in the bookstore, to be quite honest, I would not even give a second glance. There is something cliche about it already, which doesn’t give any impact as opposed to 4-5 years ago. What I commend though is the existence or non-existence, however way you want to put it, of Severine. It was cleverly incorporated in the scenes, which adds mystery to everything and makes you question the relationship or involvement of our main character, Kate Channing, to her murder. Also the end part, where Severine had somewhat an intervention to what happened to Kate, I love that part.

All in all, if you are a patient reader, and you want a character-driven book than a plot-driven one, then this is definitely for you.

 

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Once ensconced in a black taxi, the unease becomes corporeal, taking on the body of twisting snakes that are no longer confined to my stomach now they’re swaying upward, encircling my lungs, slithering through my throat, threatening to choke me of words and breath.

– Lexie Elliott, The French Girl

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