ARC review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Series: The Kiss Quotient #1
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Source: ARC from First To Read

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…

First things first: I had this ARC for weeks (WEEKS!!!) before I finally started reading it. What’s wrong with me? If you have this book, please pick it up right now because it’s honestly amazing. I wish I had the funds to buy every romance fan on the planet a copy of this book because it’s just so well-written and witty and sexy and unique.

I think this book might have actually killed me. But anyway. Moving on.

I’ve never read about a heroine with Asperger’s before. I’ve also never read about a hero who moonlights as an escort. The grand total of books with heroes quite this swoony and romances quite this perfect is… very small. Just a handful, maybe. If Helen Hoang’s debut is this good, I can’t wait to read her sophomore novel.

How long do I have to wait for The Bride Test?

ARC review & PAPERBACK GIVEAWAY: I Flipping Love You by Helena Hunting

Today I’m doing things a little differently and bringing you the chance to win a copy of I Flipping Love You by Helena Hunting! The publisher has graciously provided one paperback copy to be mailed to the winner. Check out my review and the giveaway details below!

I Flipping Love You by Helena Hunting
Series: Shacking Up #3
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • BAM • Indiebound • Powells • TBD
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Source: ARC from publisher

SHE’S GOT CURB APPEAL

Rian Sutter grew up with the finer things in life. Spending summers in The Hamptons was a normal occurrence for her until her parents lost everything years ago. Now Rian and her sister are getting their life, and finances, back on track through real estate. Not only do they buy and sell houses to the rich and famous, but they finally have the capital to flip their very own beachfront property. But when she inadvertently catches the attention of a sexy stranger who snaps up every house from under her, all bets are off…

HE’S A FIXER UPPER

Pierce Whitfield doesn’t normally demo kitchens, install dry wall, or tear apart a beautiful woman’s dreams. He’s just a down-on-his-luck lawyer who needed a break from the city and agreed to help his brother work on a few homes in the Hamptons. When he first meets Rian, the attraction is undeniable. But when they start competing for the same pieces of prime real estate, the early sparks turn into full-blown fireworks. Can these passionate rivals turn up the heat on their budding romance—without burning down the house?

I FLIPPING LOVE YOU, set in the Shacking Up world, follows two people, both working in real estate, who find themselves vying for the same properties in the Hamptons, leading to a sometimes-not-so-friendly competition.

I was so excited to be invited to participate in this blog tour by St. Martin’s Press! I’d never read anything by Helena Hunting — and yes, this is book three in a series — but I think this was a good place to start. Before I get into my review, I just want to put it out there that you don’t need to read the first two books in the series to understand what’s going on here.

I had a lot of fun reading this book. Rian was such a spitfire, never afraid to speak her mind or put Pierce in his place. She could be really sassy when she wanted to be and I loved how focused she was on her goal of getting her life back by flipping houses. I also loved Pierce, who was a total gentleman and absolutely adorable. He deserves everything he wants in life and more! I loved that he was a rich lawyer who could get pretty cocky, but he never turned into a gross alpha male stereotype.

I also loved the setting! I know I’ll never be able to afford to vacation in the Hamptons, let alone live there full-time, but reading about the beaches and the restaurants and everything really made me want to see what all the fuss is about! I liked that even though all of the characters acknowledged that there was a lot of money in the area, nobody really came across as snooty or materialistic.

I suppose now I should mention the couple things that kept me from rating this book higher: the pacing and the big conflict. When it comes to the pacing, all I can really say is that it’s slow. The sexy scenes are pretty sexy, the conflicts can be pretty dramatic, but overall, it always seemed like it took awhile for things to actually happen. I know that a lot of people really go for this style of storytelling, but I’d rather see things happen. As for the big conflict, I saw it coming but thought that Rian was way off-base with how upset she got. I feel like I can’t really say more than that without spoiling it!

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I think I’ll add the second book in the series, which features Pierce’s sister, Amalie, to my TBR. I loved her character and would love to learn more about her and her fiance.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.
Giveaway Details
And now for what you’ve been waiting for, the giveaway!

Do you want a chance to win a copy of this summery romance? Just comment on this review to let me know you’re in!

Disclaimer: Giveaway runs May 30, 2018 – June 1, 2018 11:59pm EST. One paperback copy of I Flipping Love You by Helena Hunting will be mailed to the winner by St. Martin’s Press. US only (sorry!) as per the publisher’s wishes.

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish worlds I’d never want to live in

Hello and happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today we’re talking about bookish worlds we’d never want to live in, which is a terribly difficult topic because I usually only read books with worlds I would want to live in! It took some thinking, but I finally came up with ten.

1. BLACK LONDON in V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series.

If you haven’t read this series, you should because it’s amazing and it will shatter your heart into a million pieces. But anyway, Black London is a horrible place where magic has taken over the world. Sealed away from the other three Londons, magic runs rampant and chokes out any and all life.

2. WHITE LONDON in V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series.

In contrast to Black London, White London is led by a tyrannical set of twins who have drained the happiness out of their world. The Danes use their magic to exert control and keep their subjects loyal and after everything that happened to my favorite villain of all time, HOLLAND VOSIJK, I would never want to set a single foot into that world.

3. RONAN’S DREAMS in The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater.

No spoilers for the series here, but holy heck, I would not want to live through Ronan’s nightmares. I might’ve had some pretty bad nightmares over the years (the one about my stuffed animals coming to life and killing me after watching Child’s Play as a small child still haunts me) but I’ve never dealt with the level of bloodthirsty monsters that Ronan finds in his dream world.

4. ENDOVIER in Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.

I haven’t finished this series yet, but I’m pretty sure there’s no redeeming Endovier, a salt mine prison that comes with complimentary whippings if you get out of line.

5. HONESTLY ANY OF THE FACTIONS FROM DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth.

It’s been a loooooong time since I read the Divergent series, but yeah, count me out. Any kind of society where I have to pick one personality attribute and stick to it lest I become homeless (okay, vast oversimplification of the series) is not one I want to be part of.

6. PANEM in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

This world is literally the definition of a dystopian society. They willingly send their children off to die in exchange for a bit more food! It’s a hard nope from me.

7. LEVANA’S COURT in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.

I actually love the world of The Lunar Chronicles. I’d love to ride around in the Rampion and I’d love to meet (almost) all of the characters, but count me out from Levana’s court. It’s a place where the ruler openly messes with your mind, making you see things that aren’t there, making you do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do, and where people can be killed for fun. I’d rather not.

8. MARS in Red Rising by Pierce Brown.

This series had some of the best worldbuilding I’ve ever seen (and I might wish that Pierce Brown was one of my best friends) BUT ALSO everything is terrible and I don’t want anything to do with this place.

9. VERITY in Victoria Schwab’s Monsters of Verity duology.

Literally the whole premise of the book is that people are so terrible that their sins started creating monsters. I loved the books, but I DON’T THINK SO.

10. KETTERDAM in Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

I think I’m one of the approximately three people in the world who did not adore Six of Crows, but that’s okay. Not every book is for every person. I wouldn’t want to live in a world with this many criminals, regardless of how likable the protagonists of this book might have been.

Did you participate in this week’s theme? Do you agree or disagree with my choices? Anywhere you think I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Book review: What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

What Happened by Hillary Clinton
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Source: Borrowed from my library

“In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net. Now I’m letting my guard down.” —Hillary Rodham Clinton, from the introduction of What Happened

For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet.

In these pages, she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterward. With humor and candor, she tells readers what it took to get back on her feet—the rituals, relationships, and reading that got her through, and what the experience has taught her about life. She speaks about the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, the criticism over her voice, age, and appearance, and the double standard confronting women in politics.

She lays out how the 2016 election was marked by an unprecedented assault on our democracy by a foreign adversary. By analyzing the evidence and connecting the dots, Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect our values and our democracy in the future.

The election of 2016 was unprecedented and historic. What Happened is the story of that campaign and its aftermath—both a deeply intimate account and a cautionary tale for the nation.

If you’ve turned on a television, scrolled through any kind of social media, or flipped on the radio in the last two years or so, you surely know about the US’s 2016 election. The divisive election pitted Hillary Clinton, an experienced politician, against Donald Trump, a reality television star. It was the ugliest election in recent memory with the most negative ads I’ve ever seen. Of course, the negative ads were primarily focused on Hillary Clinton, the first female candidate for president from a major political party. Information has now come out showing Russian interference in the election and I would not be surprised if we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. In her memoir, What Happened, Clinton tackles the headlines, the rumors, and the aftermath of her campaign and her loss.

Earlier this year, I read Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff’s tell-all story of Trump’s first year in office. While it wasn’t necessarily a good book, it was certainly enlightening. Prior to the primaries, I read Bernie Sanders’ Outsider in the White House. Bernie and I agree about a lot of things — not everything, but most major policies. I proudly voted for Hillary in the last election, so it seemed only fitting that I should read What Happened. I put a hold on it at my library shortly after it was released. At about six months, I think this is the longest that I’ve ever waited for a book.

This book humanizes Hillary so much. Sure, there’s a lot about her policies, a lot about what went wrong during her campaign (both due to her own mistakes and media bias), a lot about what she wishes she could’ve done differently… but there’s also a lot about her life as a mother, a grandmother, a daughter. Her mother’s life story is both fascinating and heartbreaking. This was my favorite part of the book. I loved getting to know her as a person.

I legitimately cried during the section on school shootings. This book was, of course, written well before the Parkland and Santa Fe shootings. Our current president doesn’t have a single care in the world. He’ll happily defend the NRA and twist the words of gun control activists. Imagine how different the response to this shooting would have been had the election gone the other way. In her book, Hillary addresses previous mass shootings in a way that made me just break down. I’m honestly about to cry again just thinking about it.

But there are also some things that I’m not a huge fan of. Although Hillary says at the beginning of the book that the loss is hers and the mistakes were hers, she sure distributes an awful lot of blame. There are also a few things that Hillary fixates on that I think she probably could have just briefly addressed. Some things that didn’t sit quite right with me:

  • She (understandably) reacts negatively to people who bring up her or Bill’s past but consistently dredges up Bernie’s past. I get that Bernie didn’t do everything right and he isn’t perfect, but it’s also not solely his fault that she lost.
  • She had a controversy about coal mining and I feel like she’s maybe overcompensating for that in this book. There’s a really long section on what she would have done about coal mining and how her comments were taken out of context. It’s just so long.
  • I’m a little sick of hearing about the emails. I never thought the emails were as big of a deal as the media tried to make them and here, in this book, the emails are front and center again. I get that a lot of people thought her emails were the worst thing ever, but it feels like approximately 80% of this book focuses on the emails and I’m just so done with it.
  • She really hates Comey. Like, a lot. I get it. He probably influenced the election quite a bit. But she spends so much time railing about what a bad person he is and how many mistakes he made that I actually wanted to jump in and defend him.
  • She’s also really mad at Wisconsin. Now, this is another thing that I understand. Wisconsin has been largely democratic for most of my life. When I was in college, Scott Walker was elected governor. There was a huge uproar on my very liberal college campus. Since his election, the state has become progressively more conservative and a progressively worse place to live. I no longer live in Wisconsin, but I still have a soft spot for my home state and I didn’t like that Hillary consistently blamed Wisconsin for her loss. Last I checked, Wisconsin was not the only state in the country.

I think that the first quarter of this book is the best. It’s certainly a worthy read if you want to know more about the US’s first female presidential candidate from a major political party. It’s worth reading if you’re interested in politics. It’s worth reading if Donald Trump infuriates you and you want to think about what might have been.

The book is a little long. Hillary rambles a bit, and, much like with Fire and Fury, I think a good editor could have cut it down to be smoother and more cohesive. That said, I feel much more informed and I’m glad that I read this.

Monthly Motif: May Update

It’s time for another reading challenge update, this time for the Monthly Motif challenge! In May, the theme was book-to-screen, so we were instructed to read a book that’s been made into either a movie or tv show. I kind of anticipated struggling with this one because the kinds of books I usually read aren’t really made into movies or tv shows, but I was able to find a book on my shelf for my #killingthetbr challenge that also worked for this theme. Two birds, one stone and all that.

Books read:

Books not read:

  • Literally anything else.

Next month’s theme is Crack the Case, so I’ll be reading “a mystery, true crime, or whodunnit novel.” I already have library holds on a few different mysteries:

  • Faithful Place by Tana French
  • Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
  • People Like Us by Dana Mele

If you can recommend any other mysteries to me, please let me know!


Are you participating in the Monthly Motif reading challenge? If so, what did you read for this month’s prompt? Do you have any favorite book-to-screen adaptations?

Novella review: Torn Hearts by Claire Contreras

Torn Hearts by Claire Contreras
Series: Hearts #1.5
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 17, 2016
Source: Freebie
I met a boy once. He made my heart go into a frenzy every time he looked at me, and my knees go weak whenever he touched me. Our love was so beautiful, that even its demise was bittersweet.

I met a girl once. Her world, full of possibilities, made me feel like even I had a chance at being someone. She believed in me. She loved me. We were so secure, that even our breaking point seemed hazy. Until we reached it.

Here’s the thing: If you’re going to call Paper Hearts book two in the series, I shouldn’t have to read some random novella before I can get started if I’ve already read book one. That would make Paper Hearts book three in the series. If a book is #1.5, it should include some extra information that’s fun for your readers, but it shouldn’t be required reading to understand what happens in the next book. I think I might be in a bit of a mood right now because this is really getting to me.

Anyway, on to the review.

I didn’t love it. I didn’t even really remotely like it. I don’t agree with Jensen’s choices and I feel like I’m not going to enjoy Paper Hearts because of it. This novella includes so many of my romance novel pet peeves that I honestly wish I could stop right here, but, alas, the reading challenge. I have made awful choices this month.

I think I should probably just put it all out there because I know this would be a hard nope from me had I known what it was about going in.

Spoilers under the jump.

Continue reading

Birthday book tags!

So, in case you hadn’t figured it out by the title of the post, today is my birthday! I saw these book tags over at Siobhan’s Novelties and thought I might as well participate since they looked like so much fun! Also, shameless Twitter plug — I’m doing a birthday giveaway over there and it ends today. Feel free to enter if you haven’t already!

COUNT YOUR BIRTH DAY ALONG YOUR BOOKSHELF AND THEN SUBTRACT YOUR BIRTH MONTH

24 – 5 = 19, so the 19th book on my bookshelf is… Carry On by Rainbow Rowell! I loved this book so much!

IF YOU COULD SPEND YOUR BIRTHDAY WITH ANY FICTIONAL CHARACTER WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
 

I think I’d have to go with Rose Calloway from Kiss the Sky by Krista & Becca Ritchie. As for why, she’s a really strong, empowering character and I bet she’d go all-out to make sure the birthday celebration was fun for everyone. She’d probably also bring all the Hales, Meadows, and Cobalts, so it would be a party for sure.

FIND A BOOK THAT TAKES PLACE IN THE SEASON YOU WERE BORN IN

I actually had a lot of trouble coming up with a book set in spring! I finally settled on this one, which I read in 2016. It’s about a town that goes underwater when the spring rains start before the ground has thawed from winter.

FIND A BOOK THAT IS THE COLOR OF YOUR BIRTHSTONE

If my Read the Rainbow challenge has taught me anything, it’s that I hardly read any green books at all! (Especially not emerald green.) This book was really great, though, and I highly recommend it.

PICK A BOOK SET IN A TIME PERIOD, WORLD, OR COUNTRY YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE BEEN BORN IN

I’m a 90s baby through and through. I love (almost) everything about the 90s and I feel like it was really the time period I belonged in. If I had to pick a different time period, I’d do the 80s. I love 80s music, movies, and tv shows.


The Rules

  1. Always Always Always pingback/link to icebreaker694‘s site (she wants to see your answers).
  2. Post this on your birthday!!! Or not, y’know, you do you.
  3. Answer the questions! (You might have to do some digging, hope that’s not a problem.)
  4. Tag as many bloggers as you can! (At least 1+ so the tag won’t die!)

When’s your birthday (month + day)?
May 24

What’s your Zodiac sign?
Gemini

What’s your birthstone?
Emerald

Do you know someone with the same birthday?
Actually, yes. My uncle has the same birthday as me. Also: Bob Dylan, Greg Berlanti, and Queen Victoria. And G-Eazy, who mentions being a “crazy f*cking Gemini” in Him & I.

What historical event occurred on your birthday?
I don’t think anything really amazing has ever happened on May 24, but according to Wikipedia, the Brooklyn Bridge opened and the first Eurovision song contest was held.

What do you usually do to celebrate your birthday?
Well, now that I’m a Certified Adult, I usually celebrate by going to work just like any other day. Usually my coworkers will get me cupcakes and the boss will buy me lunch. This year I’m not sure because our surgeon just quit (yesterday was his last day) and so things are a little awkward at the office.

My boyfriend’s birthday is two days after mine (and one or both of our birthdays typically fall on Memorial Weekend), so his family usually comes up to celebrate. As usual, we’ll be celebrating in Brooklyn… but his sister-in-law’s baby is due any day now, so the celebration might be in a hospital this time! (Honestly, a new baby would be the best birthday present!)

Were you born in the morning, afternoon or night?
Morning. 10-ish, I think.

If you could have any present in the world, what present would it be?
My own personal library would be nice!

How did you get your name?
Well, the story goes that my mom wanted to name me Rose (she really likes flower names) but my dad vetoed that. He was really into Hall and Oates so I’m Sara with no H.

Have you ever forgotten your birthday?
I don’t think so. If nothing else, Facebook will remind me!

Book flash: Five books you’d want to be given on your special day!
Well, this is an incredibly easy question.

  • Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
  • At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson
  • The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
  • a preorder of What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera
  • a preorder of Save the Date by Morgan Matson

I’m tagging:

  • Anybody with a birthday coming up! I can’t really expect you to do a birthday tag if it’s not your birthday, can I?