What I Read in January

Below is a list of everything I read in January and my thoughts on each of the books. I got off to a bit of a slow start, be hopefully things will start picking up soon as I’ve got some awesome review books to look forward to in the coming months. Both A Pho Love Story by Loan Le and Trung Le Nguyen’s The Magic Fish will have their own detailed blog review post later this month, so be sure to be on the lookout for them both!


A TASTE FOR LOVE BY JENNIFER YEN

Pride and Prejudice but set it in modern Houston, Texas with Taiwanese American families. Throw in a baking competition, and that’s how I would describe Jennifer Yen’s A Taste for Love. This was an addictive read that I just flew through.

I love the sisters’ relationship and the female friendship in the book, almost as much as I enjoyed the progression of the relationship between Liza and James. I also appreciated how even though A Taste for Love was a sort of retelling of Pride and Prejudice, it didn’t adopt all the subplots from Pride and Prejudice. Instead, Yen took what made sense for the setting and characters and put her own spin for her book.

As someone who was born and raised in North America but whose parents came from an Asian country, I definitely could relate to many of the things talked about. For instance, Liza’s aversion to dating Asians guys is definitely something my siblings have in common with her, although unlike her they remain steadfast in their determination. The passive aggressive mind games between Liza’s mom and Mrs. Lee was also hilarious, though I’m relived that Mrs. Lee ended up being a reasonable person in the end. Finally, I also loved all the baked goods in this book, and it’s always interesting to have characters who have to help at their family’s small shops on top of being a typical teenager.

Despite not intending to make it my first read of the new year, A Taste for Love was the perfect book to kick start my 2021 reading!


Yona of the Dawn Volume 27 by Mizuho Kusanagi

I’ve always been a fan of manga since high school, but these days I’m more selective about what I read as there are so many options. In fact, if I were to list all the series I read online, it would take way too long. Mizuho Kusanagi’s series, Yona of the Dawn has a special place in my heart though as it was the series that reignited my love for shōjo manga after university. It is the only series that I currently collect physical copies of. I ended up getting volumes 25-27 for Christmas and could only get to volume 27 in 2021. Highly recommend this series if you like epic historical fantasy series that is more dark and less on the fluffy romance side and am looking forward to continuing with this series, although I hate cliffhangers so I’ll probably wait until there are a couple of new volumes released so I can binge a bunch of them again.


A Pho Love Story by Loan Le 

Loan Le’s debut, A Pho Love Story is a heartwarming read with a lot of soul. As a child of Vietnamese immigrants, I related to so much to the characters and cultural nuances in the book. If I were being honest, what I loved about A Pho Love Story wasn’t the love story but the cultural nuances because both the main characters are Vietnamese. Stay tuned for a more in-depth review of A Pho Love Story that I will have up on the blog later this month

 

 


FOrtune by Ian Hamilton

I’ve read Ian Hamilton’s Uncle Chow Tung series since the first book, Fate, and while it’s been a decent series, I’ve always preferred the Ava Lee series. That being said, Fortune impressed me as a compelling read. I definitely enjoyed Fortune more than I thought I would, and it was actually nice to return to the world of young Uncle and his colleagues. Also, I appreciated how we finally get to see the connections that Fortune has with its sequel series, Ava Lee. Both the introduction of Sonny and the mention of Xu and his son were an exciting development, as these are characters who would have key roles in the Ava Lee world. 

The overarching plot in Fortune was also an interesting one as we see Uncle realizing that the local gangs need to be more organized and thus unified. Seeing young Uncle’s thought process and how he works and how similar it is to the way Ava goes is an excellent foreshadowing to their fated partnership and why it’s not surprising they would get along and work well together. In the authour’s note at the end of the book, Ian Hamilton talks about how Fate was intended to be the last book in the Uncle Chow Tung series, but how he now hopes to write a couple more books. I too would be interested in seeing things from Uncle’s perspective once he encounters Ava, and of course what he’s like in the later part of his life after he leaves the triads.


Disney Manga: Kilala Princess – Rescue the Village with Mulan!

I read the original Kilala Princess manga series back in high school, so I was curious as to what would happen to Kilala and her friends in this sequel. In case you’re not familiar with this series, think of it as an all ages “Kingdom of Hearts with Disney Princesses” that is incredibly fluffy but also cheerful in tone. That Mulan is the featured Disney “Princess” in this book only clinched the fact that I was going to check it out. Surprisingly, instead of the black and white volumes that are typical for manga, Disney Manga: Kilala Princess – Rescue the Village with Mulan has been printed like a trade comic book and the pages even in full colours. If you‘re a fan of magical girl anime and/or Disney Princesses, then you may be into this. It’s definitely a book that was made to appeal to those who like them both. Also, while not entirely necessary, I would highly recommend reading the first Kilala Princess manga series that’s also published by Tokyopop. Reading it will help you better appreciate the story and how far the characters have come.

 

 

 

 

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

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2020

2020 was a weird year and not going to lie my reading was definitely affected. I got a good chunk of reading done when I was sick earlier this year, but then I went quite a while before I picked up anything new. So this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but most of the books on this list were ones I read in the first half of this year rather than the second year. Without further delay here are my favourite reads of 2020, and as always they are in no particular order.


The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

At first this book was a bit slow for me. However, it won me over with its charm and strong, albeit imperfect female characters. In the end, I fell in love with the members of “The Jane Austen Society” and were rooting for them to find their own happiness. If you like warm historical novels set in cozy villages, and/or are a fan of Jane Austen’s books, then this one may be the satisfying read is for you!

The Good Shufu by Tracy Slater

This book has been on my TBR list since my early blogging days. I finally was gifted a copy of it last year and picked it up this year in anticipation of my Japan trip. Little did I know, that no travelling would be happening. Anyways, I love reading about the relationship between Tracy and the Japanese salaryman who becomes her husband. It was interesting to see how two individuals from different backgrounds come together to build a marriage. As someone who is interested in Japanese culture and still trying to learn the language, I especially enjoyed reading about how Tracy adapts to the culture and her new life in Japan. A heartwarming read about finding love and starting a family in an unexpected time and place.

Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim (Read the review)


I think I enjoyed Roselle Lim‘s Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop more than her debut. While Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune had more soul as it was a story about family both blood and found, Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop is definitely a lighter fare with its matchmaking and love plot. Of course food also has a role in the book however it’s to a much lesser degree than the mouthwatering descriptions of food and cooking that were found in Natalie Tan. That being said, Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop made me want to go out and buy some pastries, so make sure you have some on hand while reading this one!

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny (Read the review)

I always look forward to having a new Louise Penny novel every year. All The Devils Are Here is without a doubt one of my favourites of her more recent Inspector Gamache novels. I love how the setting has changed in this book to Paris, France, as it allows readers to see Gamache and Beauvoir to go out of their usual comfort zones as they try to figure out the mystery and unveil another massive conspiracy.

The Marriage Game by Sara Desai (Read the review)

I wanted to pick this romance because it’s by a Canadian author and I thought it was interesting that both of the main leads work in HR like jobs. The side characters in this book are also awesome, from the hilarious aunties to Layla’s badass cousin, Daisy. I love how family was such a major part of Layla’s story. Also, if you’re a foodie, then you’ll probably enjoy reading about all the Indian foods as Layla’s family owns an Indian restaurant. The Marriage Game has a pretty fun concept with the bet that Layla and Sam have going on, and I look forward to the other books in this series. As Daisy’s book will come out in 2021 and it involves the fake engagement trope, I’ve already requested it on Netgalley so fingers crossed I get to read it soon!

The Diamond Queen of Singapore by Ian Hamilton (Read the review)

I will not lie it was a bit painful reading a book about someone who jet sets as much as Ava Lee during a pandemic when all travel is cancelled. Anyway, the latest instalment in the Ava Lee series has many of the elements that make this series one of my favourites. There’re tons of globe trotting, high stakes negotiations, and of course some awesome action scenes! Looking forward to seeing the direction that Ian Hamilton takes next with the Ava Lee series.

10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon (Read the review)

I’ve been looking forward to Pinky and Samir’s we saw them constantly butt heads in There’s Something about Sweetie. In 10 Things I Hate About Pinky, we get to learn more about Pinky including her insecurities especially when it came to being compared to her cousin which is definitely something I could relate to. We also get to see more of Samir finally dealing with his issues which were hinted at in There’s Something about Sweetie. But most of all it was quite satisfying to see Pinky and Samir come together after being teased for so long.

The Library of Legends by Janie Chang (Read the review)


The Library of Legends is my first Janie Chang book, and what made me pick it up was the promise blend of mythology with real life. I love how Chang weaves elements of Chinese legends with the students’ journey. I was unaware of the brutal war between Japan and China, so it was interesting to learn more about the lesser talked about events that took place in the shadow of Pearl Harbour. There is also a love story that later comes to fruit in this book that is a sweet addition to a story that took place during a time with so much destruction that even the celestials were left broken.

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen (Read the review)

This was the first book I actually started in 2020. I was fortunate enough to get an ARC of this title, and it definitely lived up to my expectations of it. There’s so much juicy drama and I love the cultural rediscovery and exchange aspect of this story as I never even heard of “Loveboats” before I learnt about Loveboat, Taipei. Ever’s story of exploration and coming into her own as both were relatable in its own way, and I was more than satisfied with her ending. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series and I may be in the minority with this, but I hope it features a certain pair of secondary characters from the first book.

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha (Read the review)

Compared with other books I don’t think the book got as much as attention as it deserved, so I’m going to take this time to once again recommend this book. Frances Cha’s If I Had Your Face is an incredible debut that looks at issues that Korean women face today. From the pressure to get married, the lack of opportunities for young people without family connections to the impossible beauty standards that are exacerbated by the prevalence of plastic surgery I loved how it didn’t shy away from the problems in the lives of these young women. Forgot top ten, this one was definitely in my top three reads of 2020.

 

 

 

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

Recently in Romance #6

 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.

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

In a Holidaze is the book for you if you’re looking for a book to get you into the Christmas spirit. However, if you want a steamy romance, then maybe pick up one of the earlier Christina Lauren books instead. I really want to love this book, but it took way to win me over and even then I wasn’t completely sold on the romance. Fortunately, this book is incredibly light on the romance that it reads more like Womens Fiction. My favourite moments in this book were all the interactions with the various families at the cabin. I love all the crazy traditions they had and loved how competitive everyone got with each other. To be honest, I thought the whole Groundhog Day subplot would be a bigger deal in this book, so I was surprised that there weren’t that many time loops shown. I can appreciate the fact that this allows more space for the main story to develop. Honestly, In a Holidaze wasn’t my favourite Christina Lauren book, though I enjoyed it more than Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating and The Unhoneymooners. A quick and heartwarming read, this book was a nice distraction that gave me the warm fuzzies. I can definitely see this one appealing to a more younger audience as compared to the previous Christina Lauren books, it is extremely tame in terms of love scenes.

Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

I’ve enjoyed most of Sandhya Menon’s YA novels, so I was looking forward to reading her adult début as “Lily Menon”! Unfortunately, Make up Break up lacks the charms of her Dimpleverse novels. Perhaps this may because of the third-person narrator that shows readers only Annika’s perspective, but it took an incredibly long time to like the male lead. The physical attraction was there from the start, and it was obvious that Hudson was in love with Annika, but I didn’t see the appeal of him. In fact, it wasn’t until more than halfway into the novel that Hudson showed a more “human” and compassionate side to him that was lacking from all his other previous interactions with Annika. What I enjoyed in Make up Break up was Annika’s close relationship with her father. It was refreshingly imperfect, but I’m glad that they could come to an understanding. Also, I loved her friendship with June, though it made me wish she would depend on those closest to her more when she was so clearly struggling. While the romance was a letdown for me since Annika and Hudson barely had any meaningful interactions until nearly the end, Make up Break up had a few redeeming qualities that made it an okay read.

 

 

 

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

Recently in Romance #5

 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 Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel

This book starts with Liya bolting from her setup meeting with Jay only for it to turn out that he’s one of the lawyers working to save her company. I love the idea of fate and bad first impressions, however I didn’t love this book. I just couldn’t connect with Liya because she was just so prickly, judgmental and kind of mean. I understand she was forced to grow a thick skin to protect herself because her parents especially her father failed her when she needed them the most but it still doesn’t justify most of her behaviour. That being said, I didn’t hate Liya and Jay as a couple. Their first date was adorable and they worked because Jay was incredibly patient and understanding. The female friendships were also awesome and I loved Liya’s friends. I really hope we get to read the other girls’ stories particularly Sana and Preeti’s stories. Furthermore, I appreciated how Liya did not sacrifice her career ambitions and dreams even though they could take her away from Jay. The Trouble with Hating You is more than just a romance, it’s a glimpse into a South Asian community and shows us examples of the bad aspects like sexual assault and domestic abuse as well as the toxic gossip and shaming culture but also the good aspects like the supportive and open-minded women who looked out for one another and arranged marriages where the couple is happily in love and clearly equal partners.

The Marriage Game by Sara Desai

The Marriage Game with its whole enemies-to-lovers situation with protagonists, Layla and Sam, was something I enjoyed. I also loved how Layla’s huge family was a major part of their story and how close Layla was with her father. The side characters were also great and I would love for Nisha, Sam’s sister, to get her own book as I feel like she and John’s story needs to be expanded upon. What I didn’t like was how the “revenge” plot was dropped so suddenly near the end, there was a resolution but nothing was seen through instead the book just kind of ended. At the very least it would have been nice for Nisha to acknowledge things and not interrupt with her own announcement. Another thing that bothered me was how Layla was supposed to be a recruitment consultant but we barely saw her do any real work, while it’s understandable that she’s starting over it was weird not to see her not even interacting with any client. Instead, the focus was on the “marriage game” of finding her a husband which was fine but could have been more entertaining, especially with the candidates. On the other hand, we get to see Sam at work as a Corporate Downsizing Consultant, which I found quite interesting. A delightful read, The Marriage Game is if you’re looking for a South Asian rom-com with lots of colour, food and heart to distract you from the chaos right now.

 

 

 

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

Recently in Romance #4

 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.

this Is Love by Melissa Foster

 Having gotten to Remi more in Call Her Mine, I was excited that she was getting her own book before the end of 2019. With This is Love, I liked that we got to know more about Remi’s past and why her brother is so over protective. I also loved how Remi and mason bonded over their past trauma and loss and how it brought them closer. That being said, Mason and Remi were probably my least favourite Melissa Foster couple because even though the attraction and sexual tension was there I couldn’t completely buy into their relationship once they got together. There were a few moments where they appeared to be a genuine couple, however there were more times where they were too saccharine. Like the other books in Melissa Foster’s series, This is Love hints at a few couples that will be the focus of future books. I’m not sure if I will pick up the others because on one hand, I’ve found Harley’s doggedness with it comes to Piper to be frankly irritating, however, on the other hand best friends to lovers is my favourite romance trope. Nevertheless, for the most part I’ve enjoyed my time in the communities of Sugar Lake and Harmony Pointe and am glad to have gotten to know these all these characters especially the Daltons.

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
Publisher Social Media:  Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/

The Right Swipe was one of my favourite reads of 2019 however, its follow-up, Girl Gone Viral was a bit of a disappointment for me. Not only was it much more tamed and way less steamy than any of Rai’s other books in the past but the romance felt underdeveloped. The build up to Jas and Katrina’s romance was underwhelming even if the readers knew that the two had secret feelings for each other for some time. They also barely interacted with each other romantically instead there were more scenes of Katrina interacting with her staff and with Rhiannon and Jia and of Jas with his family. That being said, I loved the cast of side characters in this book, including the girls and their awesome friendship as well as Jas’ family who show that even happy families have their baggage. I also loved how far Katrina had come from her first appearance in the series and even since the start of her book. Girl Gone Viral looks at the downsides of social media and shows how something that may seem like fun to, everyone can have negative consequences for those actually involved. After all, real people are not fictional characters and even in today’s era of social media everyone deserves to have their privacy respected and to feel safe in public. In the end, I’ll probably pick up the next book for Jia’s story, though it will be with lower expectations.

 

 

 

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

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2019

The Mountain Master of Sha Tin by Ian Hamiton

The latest book in Ian Hamilton’s Ava Lee series has the titular protagonist facing off against the man who has tried to kill her. After a bit of a letdown with The Goddess of Yantai, The Mountain Master of Sha Tin has won me back to the series.

“First Fai and now May are telling me to be careful, Ava thought. Was it a coincidence, or was fate warning her?”

Read the review

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

Alisha Rai has quickly become one of the authours whose books I immediately jump on when they become available. The Right Swipe is Rhiannon’s (the badass sister of Gabriel from the Forbidden Hearts series) story, and it did not disappoint!

“I was thinking…ninety-nine percent of the time, immediate block for ghosting, right? This might be the .01 percent time when a ghost wasn’t being a total cowardly dog.”

Read the review

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

A lot of people have been fans of Jasmine Guillory, however The Wedding Party was the first book of hers that I really got into. I love Maddie and Theo’s back and forth banter and the romance that develops is very sweet as well. Also considering both are besties with Alexa (the protagonist of The Wedding Date), hilarity ensues as they try to hide what they’re doing from her.

“What the fuck was wrong with her? Was there some sort of force field around Theo’s apartment that led straight to his bed? Was there an invisible sign when you turned onto his street that said in big letters BAD DECISION CENTRAL? How had she ended up in his bed again?”

Read the review

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

If you’re a foodie than this book is a must read! Natalie Tan’s Book Of Luck And Fortune has been has been compared to Chocolat. And TV rights have already been sold for this debut! Despite the various lists its been on Natalie Tan’s Book Of Luck And Fortune isn’t really a romance, but rather it’s a heartwarming story about family (both blood and chosen) and of a community coming together.

“Nothing made me happier than the act of cooking. My happiest memories were of spending time in the kitchen with Ma-ma as we prepared our meals. The best cooks doubled as magicians, uplifting moods and conjuring memories through the medium of food.”

Read the review | Read my Q & A with Roselle Lim

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

Fans of John Green’s books may enjoy David Yoon’s debut novel as his writing in Frankly in Love reminds me a lot of Green’s writing style. But more than that I love how Yoon portrays both the love and dysfunction that bond immigrant families together as well as just how tricky it can be growing up as a teenager with immigrant parents in America.

“You have a Chinese boy problem. I have this white girl problem. Our parents have these big, huge blind spots-racist blind spots-in their brains. What if we used those blind spots to our advantage?”

Read the review

Happy Go Money by Melissa leong

I love Melissa Leong’s financial segments on The Social and was really looking forward to her book. Combining happiness and psychological research with financial advice, this book’s an easy to digest read about personal finance.

“You work hard for your money. It should make you happy. You deserve that.”

Read the review

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandya Menon


I loved When Dimple Met Rishi, and it wasn’t until There’s Something About Sweetie that I found a new favourite Sandhya Menon book. Once you get to know her, it’s easy to see why Ashish and pretty much everyone else falls in love with Sweetie!

“No. It’s not. When I walk down the road, people immediately make judgments about me based on my body size. That doesn’t happen to you guys, no matter how self-conscious you might be about your bodies. You’re still thin, and you get to exist in spaces without constantly being found wanting.”

Read the review

Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao

Song of the Crimson Flower is my second Julie C. Dao book, the first being Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix. Of her three books, Song of the Crimson Flower is without a doubt my favourite! Love the gorgeous and lyrical setting and writing and the stubborn but feisty heroine.

“Tam never saw you the way I did. He never valued your kindness, your generosity. Your love and respect for your family. I see you. I see you, Lan.”

Read the review

A Dangerous Engagement by Ashley Weaver

I’ve been getting back into mysteries again and my go to has been cozies and historical mysteries. What I love about most mystery series is that you don’t have to start at the beginning of the series to enjoy the book. A Dangerous Engagement is your typical husband and wife as amateur sleuths duo set during the 1920s a time of gangsters and the Prohibition.

“Focus on the wedding details before you look for a mystery, Amory, I told myself. There would be plenty of time for that later.”

Read the review

Our Wayward fate by Gloria Chao

Maybe it’s because I’m not Chinese, but I’m not really familiar with the story of The Butterfly Lovers. Taking me by surprise, I related to Ali Chu’s story of being one of the few Asian people in my school and neighbourhood. And while it took some time for me to get really into the story, I did like the relationship between Ali and Chase and all the secrets it brought out not only about their families but about the Taiwanese-American community.

“Don’t you care that this is what everyone expects?” I blurted. “That this is fulfilling every stereotype? You said yourself you hated how they all asked if you knew me.”

Read the review

 

 

 

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 #3

 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.

Only Ever You by C.D. Reiss

Two childhood friends, one marriage pact is the premise of C.D. Reiss’ Only Ever You. I’m a sucker for the best friends-to-lovers trope so I was excited for this one, despite having never read anything by this author. Overall, Only Ever You was a sweet and mostly satisfying read. It was refreshing to have the usual roles reversed in this book with a heroine who is a strong protector and who has more “experience” than the hero. This book was also surprisingly very steamy despite the couple not sleeping together right away. I also loved the cast of friends and family members on both sides, as they rounded out the story and added more hilarity and heartwarming moments to the book. In the end, while I appreciated the realistic way bullying was portrayed in that more often than not bullies don’t get punished, I do wish we got more of a lead up to how both Rachel and Sebastian’s career and work issues were resolved instead of a time skip epilogue where everyone is happy.

 What Happens Now? by Sophia Money-Coutts
Publisher Social Media:  Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/

Looking for some light reading for my trip, I decided to pick up Sophia Money-Coutts’s What Happens Now? To be honest, this one was a bit of a disappointing read for me. Firstly, it was longer than I expected and it dragged for the majority of the book. It also wasn’t as light or hilarious as I hoped it would be, there were some funny bits but they were quite dry. In addition, the romantic relationship in the book was severely under-developed as the love interest, Max was absent for most of the novel. However, I did appreciate how Lil’s pregnancy was portrayed as in reality being pregnant isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I also loved the boys in Lil’s class as they were hilarious and I also adored the awesome support system she has with her parents and her best friend, Jess. So while I wasn’t completely on board with the romance aspect of the book, I found it refreshing to read a book where the protagonist is closer to 30 as it becomes a different type of story when it comes to showing how she handles things after she finds herself pregnant after a one-night stand.

 

 

 

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

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.

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 #21

This Midweek Mini Reviews post features two romances just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson

Having heard many good things about Matchmaking for Beginners I decided to move it up on my TBR list. Unfortunately, this one fell short for me and I felt that it did not live up to the praise it received. Maybe it’s because I hate when people are no given much choice, but I had a hard time getting through this book. The protagonist, Marnie wasn’t very likeable and she came off as extremely flaky and an incredible doormat. Her heartbreak, however was relatable, which made it tough to see her getting pushed around and manipulated by basically everyone, including little kids, her horrible ex and even complete strangers. That being said, the side characters were entertaining at times and I did appreciate Jessica’s friendship with Marnie in fact, she was probably one of the few reasonable characters in the book. As for the “magic” aspect of the book, I thought it was cool initially as Blitz grew on me as a character, however, it eventually got rather irritating as the “sparkles” was used as an excuse for everything including going behind people’s backs to “help” them. I can certainly see how Matchmaking for Beginners could be the perfect, warm and magical holiday read, however for me it was too saccharine for my liking especially the ending and instead left me feeling slightly depressed.         

Liars, Inc. series by Rachel Van Dyken

The first Rachel Van Dyken novel that I read and loved was Infraction. So when I heard she had a new series coming out, this time centering on a women run PI agency that exposes cheaters, I was intrigued. Starting with Dirty Exes, I wasn’t completely sold yet. I liked Blair alright, however I wasn’t as big on Colin or even him and Blair as a couple. That being said, the book did introduce me to Jessie and Isla and from their shared scenes and off the charts chemistry in Dirty Exes I knew I just had to read their book. Fortunately, Dangerous Exes was a definite hit with me. While Jessie and Isla start off as “enemies”, it does not last very long. Soon they’re thrust into a fake engagement and before either of them realizes it, they’re hooking up and starting to develop “feelings”. I love how sweet the two were as a couple, and how they brought out the best in each other. I also appreciated the fact that Isla was half Chinese and that we got to meet Goo-Poh (her aunt). Goo-Poh was such a wild and hilarious character that she stole every scene she appeared in. While Dirty Exes was an okay read for me, Dangerous Exes was a hot and sweet romance that I could not put down. 

 

 

 

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

Book Review | Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

Authour:
Soniah Kamal
Format:
ARC
Publication date:
January 15th 2019
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Source:
Received from publisher.

Review:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that there will always be new attempts at retelling and adapting Pride and Prejudice and that some will excel in their efforts while others will fall flat. Fortunately, Soniah Kamal’s Unmarriageable falls into the former of the two.

Unmarriageable takes the plot of Jane Austen’s classic English novel and modernizes it by setting it in Pakistan during the early 2000s. The “Bennets” are now the “Binats“, a family who went from well off to more middle class due to jealous relatives. I loved the changes to the family’s back story and Kamal does an excellent job at keeping the essence of the original characters and their relationships while adding her own modern twists. Elizabeth Bennet is now Alysba (Alys) Binat, a teacher at an all-girls school and a feminist who tries to teach her students and her younger sisters about the importance of being independent and getting an education. 

However, it’s not just the character of Alys. This entire novel has a feminist feel to it. I loved that the minor female characters like Sherry Looclus (the Charlotte Lucas character), Qitty Binat (aka Kitty Bennet) and Annie were given a voice in this adaptation. It was refreshing to read parts of the story from their perspective. And even though they weren’t meant to be likeable, I appreciated that we got to see the story from the Bingla (Bingley) sisters as well since it makes it clear as to what their true colours are. Furthermore, the characters are seen facing issues that are familiar to women today, including abortion and fighting against the traditions relating to marriage and the role of women including having children. All that being said, the men in the book are given little notice and as a result characters like Darsee (the Mr. Darcy character) and Bungles (the Mr. Bingley character) are not as well developed.

The other thing I loved about Unmarriageable was how it doesn’t shy away from its source material. Pride and Prejudice is not only name dropped, but referenced and discussed by various characters. In fact, the novel begins with Alys asking her class to rewrite the famous first line of the novel. In addition, Unmarriageable is also a love letter to Austen and literature in general. Both Alys and Darsee are bibliophiles and I loved that the two were able to eventually bond over their love of books in addition to their experiences of studying and living abroad even if the love epiphany on Alys side felt a bit rushed.

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t getting a bit fatigued with all the Pride and Prejudice retellings. That being said, I truly enjoyed Unmarriageable especially how it veered from its inspiration. Forget what I said about the last Pride and Prejudice retelling I read as Unmarriageable now tops my list of favourite Pride and Prejudice adaptations. Read it if you are interested in a South Asian spin on an old classic or if you’re a fan of Austen and books in general.

 

 

 

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 #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.

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.