The Kiss Quotient

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

3 stars

I want to reiterate, 3 stars for me still means I liked it, this is not a negative review 

This is the story of Stella, a woman with Asperger’s who has trouble connecting with men romantically. When her mother begins to pressure her for grandbabies, she decides she needs to face her fears. To do this, she hires an expert. Or well, an escort. Stella hires Michael, a dreamy escort who seems very understanding of her needs. But he has some secrets behind his reasons for being a male escort, and he doesn’t want to get too close to anyone so they can find out.

The Kiss Quotient is a book I was very excited to read, mostly because it has an autistic main character and an Asian male lead. I think this is a great debut novel and I love that we got a male Asian lead, you rarely see those in the romance genre. I also liked Stella because while many people may not have Asperger’s like her, I feel she’s a relatable character that many women will identify with.

This book was steamy and sweet at the same time. My main issue with it was I felt the plot structure was all over the place and it made the story very choppy for me. This also made the characters seem very indecisive on some things which is a pet peeve of mine in books. But overall I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to seeing what else Hoang has to deliver in the future.

ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review 

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Chaser

Chaser by Kylie Scott

3 stars 

I think this might be the end of Kylie Scott and me. I loved her early books, but the last few I haven’t really connected with and I’m starting to feel like I’m picking on her when I don’t enjoy a new book.

First things first, what I liked about this book and why it’s a 3 star rating and not lower. Single mother trope, reformed bad boy trope, and the special appearance of Stage Dive. I liked that this book was from Eric’s perspective because we got to see his growth, but I wish we had dual POV because Jean fell so flat as a character.

I didn’t feel the connection between Jean and Eric, I felt more of a connection or bond that he had with her daughter. I really enjoyed his interactions with the baby. Nell ragging on him the whole book got on my nerves, but even more so when she suddenly changed her mind and was all Team Eric.

Also a pet peeve thing that probably doesn’t bother other people but bugs the shit out of me, the author is writing American character but through this whole series has them referring to things with Australian or British terms. It takes me out of the book because people who grew up in the USA wouldn’t say these terms unless raised with a strong British background. But, it’s probably just me who is annoyed by that.

Anyways, this book was a great escape from reality, I think lots of readers will love it but it didn’t really rock my world.

Circe

Circe by Madeline Miller

4 stars! 

“When I was born, the word for what I was did not exist.” 

Circe is a retelling of the Greek Goddess of sorcery. From her birth and through thousands of years of her life. In her early life, she discovers a strange power within her and she finds she can transform her enemies into monsters. Fearful of her power, Zeus has her banished into exile, to spend her immortal years on an island alone.

As the years go by Circe faces those who come to her island, some are friendly and some are foe. In this, we get her side of the story and see that things are not always as they seem.

“You cannot know how frightened gods are of pain. There is nothing more foreign to them, and so nothing they ache more deeply to see.” 

Madeline Miller is a writer I love, her book The Song of Achilles is very close to my heart. So when I saw that she had written another novel I was very eager to read it. I didn’t remember much about Circe and after I started I admit I needed to look her up for a refresher. One of my favorite thing about Miller is her writing style and the way she bends the English language to her will. All the words flow so elegantly across the page, I love reading what she has to say.

Circe was a very interesting character, but also a passive one at least to me. I felt a lot of her life was watching things happen to other people, and while she was involved, it wasn’t until the end that she felt like the heroine of her own story. I liked seeing Miller’s take on all of these famous characters and how the stories we thought we knew might be a little bit different than we think.

A beautifully written book and an interesting story, if you like the classics and retellings you should pick this book up.

“It is a common saying that women are delicate creatures, flowers, eggs, anything that may be crushed in a moment’s carelessness. If I had ever believed it, I no longer did.” 

Ramona Blue

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

4 stars! 

“I hate this idea that boys are thinking about sex nonstop and girls are thinking about – what? Stationery and garden gnomes? No.” 

I attended Apollycon this year and had the pleasure of meeting Julie Murphy and listening to her talk on a YA panel. She had talked about Ramona Blue and after hearing what she had to say, I was intrigued and decided to check it out from my local library. Julie had said this book was her own personal screw you to the movie Chasing Amy (which I haven’t seen but have heard of).

Ramona Blue is about a very tall teenage girl with blue hair who has always known she was a lesbian. After a summer romance with a girl named Grace that doesn’t end well, she finds herself resigned to the fact that she will never leave her small town. Starting her senior year, a childhood friend Freddie moves back to her town and the two reconnect. Their friendship is effortless, until Ramona realizes she has feeling for him, that combined with issues at home throws her into an identity crisis.

“You’ve never dated any guys?’
I shrug. ‘Haven’t even kissed one.’ And then I add, ‘Well, in recent years.’
‘Then how do you know you don’t like guys?’
‘I don’t know, Freddie,’ I say, trying to hide my irritation. ‘How many boys did you kiss before you realized you were straight?” 

I really enjoyed reading this book. Sexuality is fluid, and I think this book did a good job of portraying that. I think it also covers how difficult it can be to be bisexual and all of the stigmas and judgments that come at it from both sides, straight or gay. I think Julie covered this topic really well and at no point did anything personally offend me.

Julie Murphy has a writing style I connect with very well, and I am excited to read more by her in the future!

My Oxford Year

My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

3 stars 

This is a book that’s been getting a lot of great buzz, a lot of my book friends really loved it and I’ve been hearing good things all around. I was a fan of Julia on the show Once and Again and I had the pleasure of meeting Julia at another author event for a book she narrated and she’s absolutely lovely. All those things combined, I was very eager to read this book and really wanted to love this book and I had high hopes. And while I didn’t love it, I enjoyed it and I think this was a really great debut from this author.

There were a lot of moments when we as readers were supposed to feel a lot, and I felt a bit like a sociopath in those moments because I didn’t really feel anything and I knew I was meant to. Plus, a lot of the dialogue and some of the vocabulary was way above my head and I felt, well, unintelligent at moments while I was reading this book.

I think Julia Whelan is a fantastic writer, I think she delivered a very interesting and engaging story. I also think a lot of readers will love this book and I while I didn’t love it, I will be recommending it quite a lot because I think many of my friends and close ones would really enjoy this story.

Fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid, Jojo Moyes and Sally Thorne, this is your next book to pick up!

A copy for review was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss

Leah on the Offbeat

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

4 stars! 

This is the book that made me realize Becky Albertalli is a one click author for me! I had no clue this book was happening but the minute I found out I ordered the hardcover from Barnes and Noble so fast my head was spinning! I love being so excited about a new release that I drop EVERYTHING just to read that authors next book.

Leah on the Offbeat is a sequel to Simon Vs the Homosapien Agenda, except this book is about his best friend Leah. Leah is an artsy, sarcastic bisexual girl, she’s just not out to her friends yet. The majority of this book takes place at the end of senior year of high school, a major turning point for many teens. Leah’s group of friends finds itself at odds, and Leah ends up realizing she has stronger feelings for someone in the group and doesn’t know how to feel about it.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I liked Leah as a character, it was great to see this world from her perspective and the other characters too. I think many readers might not like Leah because she’s not a typical heroine, but I loved her because she wasn’t a typical heroine and was her own person, good parts and faults.

If you love banter filled and character driven young adult novels, this is the book for you!

Loving Mr. Daniels

Loving Mr. Daniels by Brittainy C Cherry

4.5 stars! 

“Leave the past behind you so the future can find you.” 

Once upon a time…. a friend recommended this book to me. Well, four years later and I finally read it!!!!!!! See, I eventually get to books on my TBR!

Loving Mr. Daniels is about two broken people who have lost family members closest to them. When Ashlynn moves in with her dad, the last thing she expected was to fall for a Shakespearean inspired musician. And she’s even more surprised when he turns out to be her teacher.

I know what you’re thinking, that you’ve read this book already. Yes, you’ve read this trope, but Cherry puts her own beautiful spin on it and I loved this book. Bravo Ms Cherry! I do wish she wasn’t so good at making me cry, but I think that’s a testament to her writing skills.

I hope you all give this book a chance! I did, years later and I loved it! It’s never too late!

“I love you slowly. I love you deeply. I love you quietly. I love you powerfully. I love you unconditionally.” 

The Gravity of Us

The Gravity of Us by Brittainy C Cherry

4.5 stars 

“She was the girl who felt everything, and I was the man who felt nothing at all.” 

The Gravity of Us is the story of Lucille and Graham, an optimist and a pessimist. Circumstances throw them together and Graham ends up needing Lucille even if he doesn’t want to admit it. While Lucille drives him crazy, over time she begins to grow on him and a mutual attraction develops.

“It’s just funny, isn’t it? How the main characters never know about the adventures they’re about to go on.” 

It’s funny because I don’t normally enjoy very sweet books. And this book is so sweet, but it wasn’t cheesy. And I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much, because I was able to enjoy the sweet and it didn’t make me overdose on it. And while this book was sweet, it was also full of FEELS. ALL THE FEELS. Not the angsty feels, but many feels and I enjoyed that very much.

What stuck for me most and what made this 4.5 was the beautiful story, the beautiful words, and the beautiful characters. No one was perfect, but they were appreciated for who they were. The romance was built on respect and friendship and that made such a strong foundation. A wonderful slowburn romance.

Amazing book and it didn’t take long to read, so I recommend you carve out some time and read it asap!

“I imagined what it would be like to be happy, and I think you are the definition of happiness.” 

Rock Chick Regret

Rock Chick Regret by Kristen Ashley

3.5-4 stars 

Expectations. I normally don’t go into books with them, but I had read that this book was very angsty and I was so excited to read it. Well…… it really wasn’t all that angsty. Maybe the first 10% or so? After that not so much. And while I still enjoyed this book a lot, I was a bit let down because of the expectations I had going into this book.

This book is about Hector and Sadie. Sadie is the ice queen and daughter of a drug lord and Hector is the agent who brought her father down. Hector and Sadie were almost a thing, and then Hector made a mistake and expected Sadie to come back to him. Sadie finds herself in trouble and that’s when Hector comes to the rescue.

This story has a very brutal beginning and while it was a lot, I loved that aspect of it. The rest of the book was sweet but a tad bit too long (as is per Kristen Ashley’s style) which I normally don’t mind, but in the 60-70% I found myself skimming. A very sweet ending that I think lots of readers will love. Actually I think readers will love the WHOLE book. My angst expectations held me back a bit to a like and not a love.

The Real

The Real by Kate Stewart

4 stars! 

“You never really know someone unless they want you to.” 

One of my favorite things about being a fan of an author is seeing them grow as a writer as the years go by. My first ever book by Kate Stewart was Loving the White Liar, then Room 212 and with those I knew this was an author I enjoyed. Then The Fall released and the fangirl in me was activated. Since then, Kate has only continued to deliver wonderful and beautiful stories. None of them are the same, everything she writes is unique and original. And I always find myself wanting more of her words.

The Real is further proof that Kate only gets better, her intricate plot and the alluring characters reminds me of why I love her stories. At its heart, this book is about believing in love even when you’ve given up on it.

This is a book I truly believe you need to GO IN BLIND. Did you read that? GO IN BLIND! Seriously, just stop reading this review, buy the book, read it, then read reviews. I knew a little something going in and while it didn’t in any way affect my feelings on the book, I wish I hadn’t known. Again, this doesn’t affect my feelings or my rating, that is on the overall of the book, but I think the book has more punch if you don’t know anything.

So without revealing any spoilers, I loved the characters, I loved the beautiful words and I enjoyed the story. If I could, I would give Kate a giant hug for this book and all the books she wrote before it. Someday hopefully I can be weird and hug her in person. She just needs to get her butt closer to the west coast again haha.

“You and me, we are absolute.” 

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review 

Sky in the Deep

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

4 stars! 

“Honor above life.” 

Sky in the Deep is about Eelyn, a young Aska girl who while in battle sees her dead brother. Taking off after him, she discovers he’s been alive all this time and has joined the Riki people, her enemy. For her protection, she’s taken by her brother and hidden as a slave so no one will suspect they are related. But new danger is near and the two tribes need to see if they can work together to face the oncoming threat.

“The moon rose up over my broken home and I broke with it.” 

I think this is a really amazing debut novel from Young, it’s very compelling and I didn’t want to put it down. I found the romance to be a bit weak, which was disappointing because it could have been really great. I liked the story a lot, seeing Eelyn’s struggles which who she is and what she’s always known. Being thrown into a new environment isn’t easy and she had a lot to deal with.

I think lots of readers will love this book and with a debut like this, I am excited to see what this author will bring to us in the future!

“I was the same but I was different.” 

ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley. All/any quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final product. 

Still

Still by Kennedy Ryan

4.5 stars! 

If Grip was angsty and intense, Still is emotional and heartbreaking. 

I should have known going into this book based on the person who recommended it to me *ahem* CHRISTY *ahem* how utterly tender and heartbreaking this book would be. Christy is the Queen of the ugly cry books and I don’t know why I didn’t remember that.

Anyways, this book was beautiful. I thought Bristol and Grip’s story had wrapped up pretty well in the book before, but this one was a look into the happily ever after and them working on keeping their love intact. If Grip was about getting to the love, this book was about what you do with love once you’ve found it.

Kennedy Ryan has such beautiful words! Nothing is half done in this book, you can tell the author poured her heart and soul into this story and these characters. Ryan has found a forever fan in me, and she doesn’t even realized the level of fangirl she has activated in me.

Top recommendation and this series is one of my favorite I’ve read this year. I’m going to be pushing Bristol and Grip’s story onto anyone and everyone who will listen!

Grip

Grip by Kennedy Ryan

5 stars! 

“I fell for her before the beat dropped.” 

First things first, before you read Grip you need to read the book Flow, which is FREE. So go and download that first. I’ll wait……….. You’re done now? Okay keep reading then.

This is the story of Bristol and Grip, two people who met and fell for each other years ago. Now Grip is one of the top rising musicians in the world and Bristol is his manager, but they aren’t together. Grip wants to be with Bristol, and she wants to be with him, but she still holds back for reasons she keeps to herself. But Grip may be done waiting, and Bristol needs to figure herself out.

“He’s dictating my heartbeat, governing my pulse, holding my next breath cupped in his hands.” 

I loved this story! Kennedy Ryan is a new favorite author of mine and I cannot wait to read the next book Still. Grip is an angsty and emotional rollercoaster ride (or should I say ferris wheel ride?) with ups and downs, twists and turns I didn’t see coming. I loved both of the characters equally, Grip with his determination and Bristol with her inner struggle. I loved that both characters knew themselves well, that they are driven and kind people.

I cannot say enough good things about this book! This needs to be put on your tbr, or bumped up ASAP! You don’t want to miss out on this beautiful story.

“If I break your heart, I break mine.” 

Flow

Flow by Kennedy Ryan

4 stars! 

“I like the color of smart, the shade of funny, and sexy is my favorite hue.” 

Kennedy Ryan is a new to me author who has been recommended countless times by many friends, so I finally got my shit together and read one of her books. Flow is a prequel to the book Grip, and it has a very promising start.

Bristol is traveling to LA to visit her estranged brother during her spring break. When he’s unable to pick her up from the airport, he sends his friend and colleague Grip. There’s an attraction between Bristol and Grip right away, but she’s the sister of the best friend and he’s the player. But the connection between them is more than just romantic, from the beginning they just GET each other.

“She’s something rare—smart, classy, gorgeous, funny, opinionated, and under it all, where she tries to hide it, kind. And burrowed beneath all of that, vulnerable. She isn’t the kind of girl you mess over. 

This book was one I was able to dive into from the first page. I loved reading from both Grip and Bristol’s perspectives and seeing how they felt about one another. As an interracial potential couple, I liked that Ryan addressed a lot of the social issues and prejudices that come between two people of a different culture and economic background.

Another thing is reading this book made me excited to read the next one, because it seems I’m in for my favorite treat…… ANGST! Oh how I love it, and I am looking forward to seeing how things play out between these two in the future.

“We both gave each other space to be misunderstood, because we really wanted to understand.” 

The Last Black Unicorn

The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

5 stars 

This book gets 5 stars because it made me LAUGH! Not just chuckle laugh while reading, I mean tears down my face I was dying kind of laugh. Tiffany Haddish is someone I only found out about because one of my Facebook friends shared a video of her. I haven’t seen Girls Trip yet (despite one of my good friends loaning it to me on DVD. I’m sorry! I’ll watch it asap!). You bet your ass I am going to be looking up her backlist and watching everything this woman is in!

First off, this book isn’t super PC and I am convinced Tiffany is all kinds of crazy. But you can feel her genuine self in this book, her struggles and her comedy. This woman has lived quite the life and I am sure she’s going to keep living on even better throughout the years.

This book is a memoir/series of essays, some about funny points in her life and others, much less funny parts. But everything in this book shows how Tiffany came to be herself and what an amazing woman she is. I have so much respect for her and I admire her hard work.

If you want a book that will make you laugh your ass off and pull at your heart at the same time, you need to read this book. Plus people have told me the audio is amazing, so you can also listen to it!