Recently in Romance #2

 Recently in Romance is a new to this blog review feature where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on some romance novels I’ve read. This review feature was originally created by Mostly Ya Lit.

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
Publisher Social Media:  Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/

Hurts to Love You, the third book in the Forbidden Heart series was my introduction to Alisha Rai. And I knew when Gabe’s sister, Rhiannon made her dramatic stand for her family against Brendan Chandler I knew I had to get to know this badass, successful woman. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long as the first book in Alisha Rai’s Modern Love series is Rhiannon’s story. I loved Rhiannon and Samson’s story from start to finish. I was nice seeing the usually tough Rhiannon show her vulnerable and sensitive side and I loved seeing how she allows herself to slowly open up and trust Samson. I also appreciated how Rai touches upon timely issues in her book as in The Right Swipe. In a way that balances the serious subjects with the lighter love story, Rai not only looks at hookup culture and women tech entrepreneurs, but also the #MeToo movement and the effect Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and concussions has on football players and their families. The Right Swipe is an addictive and satisfying read, I was disappointed when I finished reading the book as I wanted so much more of Rhiannon and Samson. I’m definitely looking forward to more diverse and delightful stories from Alisha Rai and to continuing this series. Hopefully I’ll love the other characters as much as I love Rhiannon and Samson.

The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory

The third book to take place in the same universe as The Wedding Date, I was super excited for The Wedding Party as it focuses on two of Alexa’s best friends who Carlos noted seemed to have feelings for each other in The Proposal. Though a bit confusing at first, I liked how the events of this book overlapped with several from The Wedding Date because with the focus on a different couple we get to see these events from the perspective of other characters. I also love seeing Theo and Maddie together, and I found it adorably hilarious how the two of them couldn’t resist sleeping with each other. But what I loved the most was how their whole “secret” hookups were just so obvious to everyone around them however, I’m glad it happened the way it did because we get the best scene between the two of them and Alexa. The Wedding Party was one of the romances and the first Jasmine Guillory novel to hit all the right notes for me. I liked how Theo and Maddie bonded over their similar backgrounds and the challenges and obstacles they both faced as black professionals. The pacing, setting and mutual friend romance plot were all perfect, I only wish we got more of Maddie and Theo. Highly recommended for as a beach and/or vacation read or even if you need a break from all the weddings you have to attend in this summer!

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above reviews consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Advertisements

A Q & A with Roselle Lim

I was fortunate enough to read Roselle Lim’s début novel, Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune a few months before its release date. In case you haven’t already done so, please check out my review of the book here.

Anyway, when I was asked by Penguin Random House Canada (the publisher) if I was interested in doing an author interview, I jumped at the opportunity to feature an Asian and local author on my blog! Keeping with the theme of luck, I decided to keep it to just eight questions since eight is a lucky number in Chinese astrology. So without further delay, here is a Q&A post with Roselle. Enjoy!

ref=”https://wordsofmysteryblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/roselle_lim_author_shot.jpg”> Photo Credit: Shelley Smith[/ca
1. Firstly, if you were to describe Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune using only 3-8 emojis, what would they be?

2. Natalie’s story begins with her return to her old Chinatown neighbourhood, have you ever been to San Francisco’s Chinatown? If so, what are your suggestions on what to see and do?

I visited San Francisco’s Chinatown once as a child, but I’ve been to many Chinatowns in Canada, US, and Asia. In fact, I grew up in Manila’s Chinatown! If possible, ask the locals where they get dumplings. Food is the best way to introduce yourself to the culture and area.

After you’ve eaten, go to the paifang and begin exploring the shops, walking everywhere. Go slow. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells.

3. There is an obvious magical realism element in Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune. What was your favourite Chinese ghost story and/or superstition growing up, and has adulthood changed the way you see it now?

Don’t sleep with exposed feet facing a window; otherwise, a ghost or spirit will yank you by the toes and eat you! My mother also convinced me to jump up and down to grow taller. I look back on these superstitions with mirth and a sense of wonder. Still, I only sleep with my feet facing a wall.

4. Family especially the mother-daughter relationship in addition to the family that you choose is a major theme in your book, did you draw upon any of your own relationships in real life for inspiration when writing these characters?

As much as I’d like to say that these characters are family members in disguise, they aren’t. Family is complicated. Often times, I write about relationships I wish I had. The book’s characters embody people I have met and are bits and pieces of strangers I’ve spoken with. Celia and the others embody the community in north Scarborough I called home.

5. Food is of course central to Natalie Tan’s story, how did you decide which recipes to include in the book? And which ones are your favourites?

The recipes are my father’s and they are my childhood favourites. I love food and knew it had to be an invisible, yet palpable, secondary character in the novel. I remembered how I felt eating them. Those feelings dictated which recipe to use in each scene.

While, I love them all, I have a soft spot for the fresh spring rolls. It was such a comfort food growing up.

6. As a fellow foodie and as someone who used to live in Toronto, I’ve also got to ask what are your go to recommendations for must try food places in and around the City?

Oh my goodness, where do I even begin?

  • Fishman’s Clubhouse for their epic tower of king crab and lobster.
  • Saigon Star in Markham for curry crab.
  • Izakaya Guu downtown for delicious Japanese bar food.
  • Casa Manila for excellent Filipino food midtown.
  • Cafe Demetres for dessert and delicious crepes.
  • Destiny Tea House for bubble tea and tasty Taiwanese snacks.
7. Music also has a major role in the story, and I love that your book has its own playlist. Were these the songs that you listened to while working on the book or were they just the music that inspired Natalie’s story?

Most are songs I listened to while working. Classical music establishes mood, tempo, and atmosphere, while operas provide emotion. The overall feel of the playlist is to convey a soft sense of romance. It isn’t a jubilant declaration so much as a wish—a hope to experience love as Natalie sees it. Teresa Teng, however, is a relic from my childhood as she was my parent’s favourite singer.

8. And finally, can you tell us anything about what you’re currently working on at the moment or any upcoming projects?

Book Two is set in Paris and it involves Evelyn Yu, the fortuneteller in Natalie Tan. I’m working on revisions and hope to be done soon.

Book Review | Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

Authour:
Roselle Lim
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
June 11th 2019
Publisher:
Berkley Books
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
Everyone knows what comfort food is, well Roselle Lim’s debut novel is what I call a comfort read. Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune is just one of those reads that warm the heart, and provides a sense of nostalgia.

The story follows a young woman who returns to the neighbourhood, she grew morup in upon hearing of her mother’s death. When Natalie comes back home, she finds her once vibrant San Francisco neighbourhood dying, a shadow of what it once was. I found it interesting that the authour chose to tell Natalie’s story from first-person point of view. This helped me to further connect with Natalie’s personal history and story, including the father she never knew, and the mother who she was estranged from. Natalie’s story was more tragic than I initially thought, however I appreciated the complicated mother-daughter dynamics in the book. I also could relate to Natalie in more ways than one, especially her restlessness and wanderlust. Still, I admired how she fights for her dream and was able to make something of herself.

Along with this being a story of family, community and getting back to your roots, there is also romance in store for Natalie. Though if I were honest, the romance plot in the book didn’t genuinely work for me. The romance had its sweet moments but the development was too fast and the circumstances were too rooted in fantasy and not realistic for me to enjoy. Fortunately, it was not the main focus of Natalie’s story.

Still, there’s definitely something magical about Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune, and I’m not saying that due to the magical realism elements of Natalie’s story. Roselle Lim’s writing truly brings the world that she created to life. The descriptions of all the food is so vivid and mouth-watering that it made me hungry. This is one novel you shouldn’t read on an empty stomach! Luckily, there are recipes in the book and while I may not be much of a cook, I now want to try them out for myself.

Touching on topics like mental illness, and estrangement between mothers and daughters, Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune was not the light and fluffy read I thought it would be. It is however, a read that is as enchanting as its cover promises.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Recently in Romance #1

 Recently in Romance is a new to this blog review feature where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on some romance novels I’ve read. This review feature was originally created by Mostly Ya Lit.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Christina Lauren’s My Favourite Half Night Stand was one of my favourite reads of 2018, so I was excited for their newest novel The Unhoneymooners! The premise sounded promising, what with the enemies-to-lovers romance as well as the all the fake dating hijinks. However, this one was a bit of a letdown.While I did enjoy Olive and Ethan getting to know each other and realizing that they are compatible there were a couple of things I just couldn’t get passed. Mainly how just Ethan handles all things related to his brother, Dane. I didn’t like how Ethan doesn’t let Olive tell her twin sister about Dane, and it just seemed unfair how Ethan gets to look out for his brother but Olive isn’t allowed to do the same. I also hated how he easily dismissed Olive when she tried to tell him about his brother and I felt like this issue wasn’t really properly resolved. This made it hard for me to root for them as a couple in the end, despite me shipping them in the beginning. That being said, I liked how things were handled between Olive and her twin sister, Amy. Plus, I loved seeing how the girls’ crazy family was always quick to get together and have each other’s’ backs no matter how big or small a crisis was.

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

II think I’m most likely in the minority here, but I loved Helen Hoang’s The Bride Test so much more than The Kiss Quotient. I think this is because I connected with the characters and story more as both the leads are of Vietnamese descent. I loved that we got to see more of Michael’s extended family with his cousins Khai and Quan, and I loved the sibling relationship between Khai and Quan. I also liked the character of Esme, as she refuses to be seen as a victim despite her circumstances and the numerous obstacles she encounters. That being said, I felt that we didn’t get to know Khai and Esme as a couple even though we did get to know them as individuals. I wish we got to know them more and have them directly face more of their issues as a couple and not have the story just skip ahead, still I did find their relationship to be incredibly heartwarming. Much more than just a steamy romance, I enjoyed the fact that The Bride Test was a bit more of a weightier read and I appreciated the story even more after reading the authour’s note at the end of the book, as heroine’s story was loosely inspired by the authour’s own mother who immigrated from Vietnam with her family when she was young. I’ll definitely be picking up Helen Hoang’s next book as it will be about Quan and I can’t wait!

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above reviews consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Midweek Mini Reviews #19

This month’s Midweek Mini Reviews post features some romance reads for the holiday season.

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young

I was really looking forward to Samantha Young’s Fight or Flight because of the plane travel plot. Plus based on the cover, it felt like it would be a light, and sexy vacation read. What I wasn’t expecting was for it to be more than just a fluffy romance novel. From their first meeting, you can really feel the animosity between Ava and Caleb which quickly escalates to a steamy hook up. However, this is more than an enemies to lovers romance. Both Ava and Caleb actually have some major emotional trauma from their past relationships, and this is never just glossed over. Ava and Caleb’s banter and relationships definitely has its moments, however I just could not get on board with Caleb. I felt that he was unappealing as a romantic male lead and he was too easily forgiven in the end. I would’ve liked to actually see him make more of an effort to make things up to Ava. That being said, however, Fight or Flight has one of the best female friendships, with Ava and her best friend, Harper that I couldn’t help but love the book in the end. To me Ava and Harper’s “love” story was the one that made Fight or Flight worth reading.

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

I’ve only read one Christina Lauren book before My Favorite Half-Night Stand and that was Roomies which I liked though was weirded out by parts of it. I did pick up Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating due to all the hype, but could not bring myself to finish it. Fortunately Christina Lauren won me back with My Favorite Half-Night Stand which was just perfection. I love Millie, who while has her quirks is not incredibly annoying and intolerable like Hazel was. She has her issues, of course, but she’s also just plain relatable and quite likeable. I love her and the guys as the interactions and the group chats they have are just hilarious. Also the avatars in the chat they use are super cute. Reid and Millie were also a couple I could definitely root for. Both are incredibly stubborn people who, despite being book smart are kind of clueless and a bit hopeless when it comes to matters of the heart and each other. And while I’m not a fan of any kind of cat-fishing I did like how things were realistically handled and how Millie didn’t get off easily. The perfect length for a romance novel, My Favorite Half-Night Stand warmed my heart and made me smile for most of it.

 

 

 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above reviews consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Waiting on Wednesday #26 | The Bride Test by Helen Hoang


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that highlights upcoming titles that we’re looking forward to/dying to read. It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

Synopsis:

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

Helen Hoang’s The Kiss Quotient got a lot of buzz this year! And while it was one of my most anticipated reads of the year, it wasn’t my favourite romance. That being said it was still a sweet read and I adored the characters and loved seeing a family that looked like the families that I saw around me growing up (gotta love the Vietnamese culture representation). I’m actually even more excited for Book 2, The Bride Test as the heroine is half Vietnamese and is actually from Vietnam. This book releases on May 7th 2019, and I’m really looking forward to Esme and Khai’s love story!!

Book Review | The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Authour:
Helen Hoang
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
June 5th, 2018
Publisher:
Berkley
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
With the lack of cultural diversity in the romance genre becoming increasingly obvious than ever, it’s refreshing to read a romance novel with characters who feel like they could be your own family. With Helen Hoang’s debut novel readers gain a heroine with autism and a male romantic lead who happens to be half Vietnamese! Even today, it’s still rare for Vietnamese characters to be presented as leads much less romantic leads hence my excitement for The Kiss Quotient.

Stella Lane is not your stereotypical romance heroine, she’s financially independent, incredibly intelligent and has an actual job that she loves and excels at. She’s also quite a relatable and quirky in an endearing way. Meanwhile, Michael Pham was a charming and sweet guy who just wants the best for his family especially his mother. I loved that we got to meet Michael’s family and I particularly loved his relationship with his cousin Quan as they have an amusing, brotherly dynamic. And while we do not get to know Stella’s parents as well as Michael’s family, I did appreciate Stella’s mother finally stand up for her in the end as up until that point she wasn’t a genuinely supportive parent.

Stella and Michael’s relationship was truly heartwarming as it starts as a reverse “Pretty Woman” situation with Stella, offering to pay Michael for his “help” and evolves into something more. The two of them had a great deal in common, for example, both have insecurity issues and both are passionate individuals, proving that the two of them truly were “endgame”. I loved witnessing how their “arrangement” brought both of them out of their protective “bubbles” and gave them the courage to take the risks that they were too scared to do so before. It wasn’t difficult to fall for Stella and Michael after watching their relationship unfold and observing how they were delightfully awkward in trying to navigate what it was that they truly wanted from each other.

Furthermore, I adored the diverse cast and secondary characters in The Kiss Quotient and with the exception of Stella’s gross and inappropriate coworker, Phillip I would love to see more of them. As a result, I cannot wait for Hoang’s next book, The Bride Test as it features a mixed-race heroine, and an Asian hero specifically, Khai Diep who is also Michael’s cousin. And of course, I am eagerly anticipating the day there is a book starring Quan, Michael’s cousin!

As the illustrated cover hints at, The Kiss Quotient is a perfect balance of steamy and sweet. As an own voices novel for autism and biraciality, I loved that it was an original story with the usual message that everyone deserves love and a happy ending. This one’s a book worth picking up if you are a contemporary romance reader looking for a little something different.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Midweek Mini Reviews #14


Only for You by Melissa Foster

I LOOVED the first book in the Sugar Lake series and was excited for a book featuring Bridgette, Willow’s older sister who was a teenaged rebel and now a single mother and overall just a sweet person. Similar to The Real Thing, Only for You was a cute and quick read that I flew through once I got started. Bridgette’s son, Louie was adorable and Bohdi was definitely a charming love interest. I also admired the overall familial closeness of the Dalton family and their acceptance and openness to new people. However, unlike The Real Thing I wasn’t sold completely on was the romance as I felt that Bridgette and Bohdi’s relationship got extremely intense rather quickly. I guess because of the genre and the brevity of the book this was the only option, still, it would have been nice to have a bit more lead up before the two of them started hooking up. That being said, I did appreciate the decision they made about their relationship as it was mature and realistic even if they regretted it almost immediately. Of course in the end, Only for You is still a feel-good romance so readers can expect another happy ending for all.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

The premise of The Wedding Date is incredibly fun though, two strangers have a “meet cute” in a hotel elevator and proceed to inevitably hook up. What I like about The Wedding Date was it put a new spin on the usual romance tropes by having the characters entering into a long distance hook-up situation since Drew lives in LA while Alexa lives closer to San Fransisco. Furthermore, neither character is shown to have a “One-Hour Work Week” as it’s made fairly obvious how both Alexa and Drew’s jobs truly are demanding and central to their lives, which given due to the nature of both their careers. I also liked Alexa because I could relate to her in that we are both busy young professionals who love pink glazed donuts with rainbow sprinkles! What I hated was the way that all the drama/fights happened as a result of a lack of communication, sure conflict is necessary to move the plot forward, but the way things occurred made both Drew and Alexa seem so immature, which made it last satisfying when they “made up” as it was difficult to buy that they’d be okay in the end. Overall, The Wedding Date was for me a lackluster read as it was not only predictable (as expected) but also there wasn’t much that made it a standout read for me. Still, I will most likely read the follow-up book, The Proposal since it stars Dex’s best friend, Carlos who was a cool character.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.