The Bride Test – Helen Hoang
Contemporary, romance, fiction.
Khai’s mother wants her son to settle down with a wife. However, that isn’t simple since Khai has a hard time displaying emotions or even expressing emotions. His mother goes out of her way to go to Vietnam to find him a bride. She interviews potential wives and picks out Esme who wants out of poverty to care for her baby girl. Khai’s mother worked out a deal where Esme had until August eighth to decide whether or not Esme would marry her son. She would be given a visa for the time being. As soon as Esme meets Khai, trying to seduce and make Khai love her to the point he proposes is going to be tough. Khai doesn’t like sudden change and at first doesn’t mind the subtle changes. However, as they were living together in close proximity he soon learns that love and romance is messy.
I had read another Helen Hoang novel and loved the other one. I decided to read this one because I wanted to see what the hype was. I now know after binge reading this novel. I enjoyed reading this novel as much as the other and can’t wait to read another Helen Hoang novel. Hoang’s main character, Khai, displays autism and this comes from experience from the author’s background. She doesn’t have the same but she writes from a background where she thoroughly did her research that is evident with Khai’s character. Esme displays how some people aren’t fully able to understand because they themselves do not have experience or had interactions with individuals who have autism. Each person has different aspects and autism isn’t a cut and paste format for everyone. She begins to learn after he tells her and how his family tells her about how he has a hard time with emotions and doesn’t like change. He was used to certain placement of items and living a certain way.
Overall, I enjoyed the novel. The writing was genuine. The characters felt realistic with their personalities and interactions. I have to say I need to read more of the author’s books because I love her unique writing and the characters she creates. I do recommend either this one or The Kiss Quotient. Both are phenomenal. I can’t wait to see what else Helen Hoang comes out with.
The Exiles – Christina Baker Kline
Australia, Britain, prisoners, women, indigenous, historical fiction.
Set in the 1840s. A young woman, Evangeline, a sheltered governess finds herself falling for someone who never comes to her rescue after she is accused of a crime she didn’t commit. She is shipped off on a ship to Australia where criminals and convicts are sent to serve their sentences. While on the journey, she meets Hazel, a young woman who is excellent at herbalogy and pickpocketing. During this time, she realizes that she is pregnant and faces challenges that no woman would ever think of. After a horrible accident leaves the child parentless, Hazel takes up the duty to become the child’s parent. Once they land in Australia, Hazel is separated from the child. She meets another child whose name Mathinna explains to her about the orphanage. It will take a lot of time for her to reunite with the child and find safety as well as a home for her, the child, and now Mathinna.
I hardly read historical fiction for a reason. Sometimes they are boring or slow. This was not the case at all. I simply loved the pacing and the plot. My heart was torn for these young women who faced these hardships that no one should really face. I didn’t really know the origins of Australia and this taught me how the English colonized by basically sending prisoners to serve sentences there rather than in England. The language and writing kept me reading this until the last page. I simply didn’t want to willingly put this book down. I suggest you go get this book to read because it is one hell of a story that I have read.
The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang
Romance, Aspergers, autism, fiction.
Stella needs help and advice in dating and sex. She can’t go through another horrible failed match her mother makes for her. She only has a month to become better at sex and relationships despite them making her uncomfortable. She uses an escort service and is introduced to Michael, the man who would teach her and educate her. Michael needs money and escorting helped pay the medical bills. This job seemed easy but both slowly became more and more involved. Love can be messy and unorganized and that is what Stella learns.
I hardly read romance novels at all. I’ve been slowly reading more and more of them as of late. I read this synopsis and was intrigued that there was a healthy representation of Aspergers syndrome. There needs to be more books about those with different abilities in fiction and I thought this was perfect. The character Stella felt really real as an actual person and her interactions felt natural. I did tear up a few times because I was rooting for the love to happen with the two. There was a lot of erotic parts that were a bit much but they were important for the plot. I wished that there was one less sexual scene or two but it is what it is. The writing is incredible and this can be read in one sitting for sure.
The People We Meet On Vacation – Emily Henry
Contemporary, romance, fiction, comedy.
Poppy and Alex are each other’s opposites. Both enjoy different things and oftentimes their opinions tend to clash against each other. He is a teacher and she is a vacation blogger. Something happened that caused them to drift nearly away from their friendship and this summer she intends on fixing their friendship. She asks him to go on vacation with her without her company. He agrees. As they vacation together, she learns more of what happened when they weren’t chatting anymore. More is unveiled as a broken AC unit brings them even closer =. Not only that but she finds that she has feelings for him and is going to regret it if she doesn’t express herself to him. Before it’s too late.
I cried and laughed throughout this book. I loved romance and comedy. The two are definitely total and complete opposites but somehow perfect for each other. The novel has flashbacks that help understand their relationship even more. This book overall is excellently written and can be read in one sitting or slowly enjoyed. The characters’ interactions with each other are witty and entertaining. I loved that the plot was simple and not too complex either. Sometimes I just want a nice read. This was a great read and definitely a summer romance that is unforgettable. Also great to read in the summer.
Tokyo Ever After – Emiko Jean
Japanese Americans, belonging, families, duty, japan, california, princesses, princes, royalty, young adult, fiction,
Izumi always felt like she didn’t fully belong anywhere but she is happily content with her life for the time being. She always had her mother and she is grateful for that. One day upon looking through a book she finds a love poem from her mother’s ex who turns out to be her biological parent. Her mother explains that they had a fling and he left America to go back to Japan. After some digging, Izumi finds out that her father is the Crown Prince of Japan. Within hours she is contacted by one of her father’s staff and is flown out to Japan to meet him. He offers for her to stay and get to know her father’s history and the history of Japan. As she is studying and interacting with the locals and her newly found family members, she realizes that she is far too American and is afraid of being disliked or rejected. Izumi makes it her mission to learn the history and get the best out of the two worlds she was born into.
My heart felt so many feelings when I was reading this novel. I can’t imagine the culture shock and the flood of information that the protagonist got when she found out that her father’s side is royalty to the oldest known monarchy in Japan. This novel points out that Americanization of a culture is destructive to cultures and their traditions. That is what happened with Izumi’s parents; they couldn’t be together since her mother was not only a commoner but American as well, which is a bad mixture. When Izumi learned the history and constitution of Japan as well as how royalty worked, she used her knowledge to impress and give respect to her grandparents.
Overall, I deeply loved the writing of this novel and felt that this was really good. I think the author did a splendid job with descriptive and sensory descriptions. The dialogue felt natural and nothing felt forced. There were references of modern events and going-on of the world that felt even more subversive to the narrative. I simply didn’t want to put down this novel because of how well the plot carried from one point to another. I highly suggest you go borrow or get this book to read because it is so magnificently written. I just love this novel and was so happy to have gotten to read it.
Hella – David Gerrold
Science fiction, terraforming, space travel, politics, agriculture, fiction.
Kyle is neurodivergent and is a part of the colonizers on the new planet Hella. He was given a task to help make videos that will educate the next group of migrant colonizers to understand what it is that the colony does and how it works. Alongside working, Kyle’s life is changing before his eyes and there are secrets that he must keep and he must stay on everyone’s good side if he doesn’t want to become an outcast. Sometimes reality isn’t always what it seems.
This book hardly had much plot for there was a lot of world building and explaining. I love the quality of the world building but the quantity could have been brought down slightly. But understanding that this is science fiction and the main focus is colonizing a different planet does raise a lot of questions such as politics and environment focuses as well as how to raise a colony from a planet without destroying the planet. That I was enjoying and I felt that the main character could have offered his opinion rather than basing it off of what everyone else was thinking.
The writing is excellent however the plot could have been more fleshed out a bit more. The world building took a lot out and was so much for me to understand. It took a good chunk of the book to get to somewhere and I felt the ending was not satisfactory. I do hope that there is a sequel in the works since there was evidence of a lot of hard work going into this novel. I did like this book, don’t get me wrong, the characters and the interactions were excellent as well as how these colonizers interacted with the planet. If one is a science fiction nerd that loves a good book that has a lot of world building, this one is perfect.
Boyfriend Material – Alexis Hall
Romance, comedy, LGBTQ+, fiction.
Luc is in need of something that will fix his image and the place he works at suggested for him to get a fake boyfriend so that he doesn’t look too bad. One of his friends recommended Oliver to help clean up the image. Oliver agrees as long as Luc goes with him to events as well. As they are fake dating they begin to fall for each other. This whole fake dating has become real dating rather quickly than they had expected and don’t know what will be the aftermath.
I had seen this everywhere and this was not an easy book to find due to the popularity. TikTok really blows up the authors and their books in a really good sense because adults and young adults are actually going out and getting books. I really enjoyed this novel. I found it so cute and didn’t stop reading it. The characters are really unique and their interactions seem very comedically as well. Fake dating never ends with the two love interests walking away from each other. The writing is phenomenal. I didn’t want this novel to end but unfortunately it had to end. Definitely a good read.
Skye Falling – Mia McKenzie
Queer, families, race, communities, activism, contemporary, fiction.
Skye opts to donate one of her eggs to her best friend who isn’t able to conceive through normal means. Skye doesn’t think much of it until twelve years later a twelve year old girl named Vicky comes knocking on her door telling her that she is Skye’s egg. Skye learns more about her egg that she donated and the woman’s life after that point. Vicky is just like her in every way. As she and Vicky are getting to know each other, Skye realizes that there is a community that she was missing out on and decides to be there for not only Vicky’s sake but her own sake.
I cried when I read this book. I felt so many emotions that one can’t even describe easily. This book was on my TBR pile for a while and I was hesitant to read but I am glad that today I got a chance to read it. I finished it in one sitting because it was just that good. There are themes that can be relatable to current political affairs such as police brutality and LGBTQ+ rights. This book explores the idea of egg donations and whether or not it’s a good idea. I think if one wants to donate an egg to a couple that can’t naturally conceive they should be able to. This book is another type of book that will make you laugh and cry for the characters. Each character feels like someone I personally know in my personal life and I can see this happening in a modern day moment.
The Rescue – Nicholas Sparks
Contemporary, romance, fiction.
A single mother and her child are traveling through a storm when disaster hits. When she comes to and is rescued, she wonders where her son is. A search party to look for her son. She introduces herself as Denise and her son’s name is Kyle. The search wasn’t easy since her son was not fully capable of speaking. The firefighter that saved her tells her he will do all that he can to find her child. Taylor, the firefighter, always rescues women and once they want more from him, such as a committed relationship, he ghosts them. However, something about Denise makes him rethink that maybe he can fall in love. He grew close with Denise and her son. A romance slowly blossoms between them.
I saw this on the shelf of many bookstores and always read the back but never added it to my cart. I have read only so few of Sparks books and I’m glad I decided to read this one. I needed a slow burn romance read that is uplifting and light. This novel brought just that with this narrative between Denise and Taylor. Sparks always finds a way to make these characters feel so alive and real with their interactions and dialogues. The writing was phenomenal and I actually was able to read this novel in one sitting. Overall this novel made me cry and laugh because of how these two characters interacted along with her son. As soon as Taylor began playing baseball with Kyle I knew that Taylor was going to be even more involved in Denise’s life. I definitely recommend this novel because it does melt hearts in good ways.
Blood & Honey – Shelby Mahurin
Young adult, witches, witch hunters, romance, fantasy, fiction.
After being reunited, Lou and Reid make a plan. They must stop Lou’s mother from enacting her devious plan. Not only that but the two are being hunted by all in the land. One of the important things they need to do is make and form alliances which isn’t an easy thing given that they are in a dangerous game. Reid is still trying to accept magic into his life for the sake of his wife and to follow his marital duties to stay by Lou’s side. The battle for peace and for love has just begun.
I was waiting a long time for this novel to come out. I had been enthralled by the first book and couldn’t help but wonder about the sequel. This was phenomenally written just like the first book where I was taken on a roller coaster of feelings. I couldn’t help but to try to read this in one sitting because of the way the narrative was written I didn’t want to set this book down not once. I feel for Reid because he was taught to hate witches and magic but he loves this woman who became his wife. I just don’t like some choices that Lou had made that were deeply questionable in this book and I fear for the third book that is coming out later this year. I simply hate the fact that TikTok made me buy the first book and I got so invested in this because the whole trope of witch and witch hunter/ enemies to lovers romance story never got me interested before having read this book. I definitely recommend this series. It is a whole trip and a roller coaster of feels.