The Kiss Quotient, by Helen Hoang

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Having been placed in the “romance” genre, The Kiss Quotient, is a book I normally wouldn’t pick up. Upon hearing two of my fav authors Roxane Gay, and Taylor Jenkins Reid sing high praises about Helen Hoang’s writing, I decided…. okay, maybe this book is worth giving a shot. This book is reminiscent of The Rosie Project, and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine… so if you enjoyed those ones, this one is worth picking up.

Meet Stella Lane, a 3o year old econometrician. She loves her work intensely, but dating is just really not her thing. The little fact that Stella has Asperger’s, makes dating seem more difficult. She hates kissing, speaks the whole, blunt, truth, and has quite a bit of anxiety on the whole process. So she does the logical thing, and hires a male escort, Michael Phan. He’s gorgeous, and martial artist, and is also willing to work with Stella’s plan to teach her how to date… and a couple more things. It’s doesn’t take long for Stella to realize that Michael may be her new obsession, and she starts to think that the feelings are being reciprocated. Here’s where the story gets really interested!

All the things that make you different make you perfect.

I just loved this book! I ripped through it in three days, and literally took it everywhere. The couch, the treadmill, the appointments, the lunch break, it was everywhere I was. Helen Hoang wrote a novel that is a modern re-telling, of Pretty Woman, with a twist. She has served up a novel that is a really fun story, with also some great writing. Without giving anything away, there are some pretty steamy scenes in this book. So if you are not a fan of that, you could possibly flip through or maybe it’s not the book for you.

In the Author’s Note, Hoang tells us that her daughter’s teacher had suggested the fact that she may have Asperger’s. Hoang was not convinced, but started really researching the subject as any parent would. What she found out was really interesting, Autism is represented differently in girls than with boys. She found out that she had a lot of the tendenacies that would lend to herself having Asperger’s. And at age 34 years old, Helen Hoang was diagnosed with Autism, and her daughter may very well be too. SO, long story short, she wrote a fantastic book with a wonderful heroine who really seems to tell the experience so truthfully.

Okay, so if you need a book to get you back into reading, want a book to read in a weekend, or just love great books…. put this book on hold at the library or go get it at your bookstore. It’s a great novel, and now I’m DYING to read Helen Hoang’s next one. It’s the second one in the series called The Bride Test. But wait for it… it’s not out until May 7th 2019. Seriously?!?! I’m dying!

Until next time, happy reading.

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Midnight Blue, by Simone van der Vlugt

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You know that saying… “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. Well in this case, please do. This cover is just gorgeous, and my picture doesn’t even do it justice. It has tiny flecks of gold that sparkle in the sunlight, and every time I look at this cover I smile. I stumbled upon this book in Hunter Street Books, when I saw the beautiful Delft blue pottery resemblance, my dutch roots just had to buy it.

Set in 1654 in the Netherlands, this novel follows Catrin, who after the suspicious death of her husband she decides to move from her hometown. She runs away to Amsterdam in hopes to escape her past, and follow her dreams of opening her own business of painting pottery. Eventually Catrin ends up in Delft, where she has started to work at a place where she makes pottery. On a whim she decides to paint a plate with a beautiful blue pattern. She was inspired to do so upon seeing the Chinese vases, and thought she would give it a shot… and so began the Delft pottery.

Along with this historical timeline, Catrin’s story is quite a tumultuous one. Being widowed, and dealing with infant loss, her storyline is pretty inspiring. She’s a firecracker. What I really loved about this story was that it weaved in famous artists such as Rembrant, Vermeer, and Fabritius, and also true events, such as the plague, and the Delft Explosion. I love it when a novel teaches me something about a time in history that I hadn’t known before.

I’ve visited Delft numerous times, and I had know idea that there was a massive explosive there! I found this part so interesting, and wish I had of known this history before I visited… but there is always time to go back!! I just have to convince my Gramma to come with me to translate 🙂

If you like historical fiction, with a little bit of thrilling action, you will probably like this book as much as I did! I found it really easy to read, despite it being a translation… which can be at sometimes hard stories for me to read. I also found the pace of it really great. It moved along enough that I wanted to keep turning the pages, but I also wanted to look up little historical details.

That’s all on this one, and if you have read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Until next time, happy reading!

 

 

The Address, by Fiona Davis

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Full disclosure here… I’ve been on a bit of a Fiona Davis binge. I recently read The Dollhouse, and you can click here to read that review. I loved it and read it so quickly, that I immediately put another one of her books on hold! I have heard quite a bit about The Address, so I was pretty excited to pick it up when my hold notice came in.

The Address is a historical fiction, dual time-line, family drama. It’s style is similar to her last novel, but a unique plot line. The two main characters, Sara and Bailey, are separated by a one hundred years, but they are both living a parallel struggle in their time periods. Sara, who is a working at The Dakota, and accused of murdering her boss (and lover) Theo Camden. The other is Bailey, who is struggling to stay sober in a wild New York City, but also finding refuge in The Dakota. This big beautiful building has a rich history, and hidden secrets, and Bailey is on the hunt to uncover the mystery of Sara’s accused murder of Theodore Camden.

This book is pure fun. It’s a page flipping adventure, but also rich in some historical details. The Author’s Note at the end of the novel showed us just how much research that Fiona Davis put into this novel. She describes that she took certain liberties, but there was some interesting facts about Blackwell Jail for Women that I had no idea even existed. I think this novel is a great read for many types of readers, because it has elements of a couple different genres. What I also love about Fiona Davis is that you can really tell she loves New York City. Her descriptions of the buildings, the food, and the setting makes you feel as if you are there. And I love a book that gives you that “armchair travelling” feeling.

If you like mysteries, and historical fiction, this is the best kind of summer read!

Until next time, happy reading, friends!

Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood

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I have to be honest with you, the only reason I picked this book up off my shelf was because the series Alias Grace popped up on my Netflix feed. And now this book will be on my FAVOURITE BOOKS of all time. I can’t believe I have been bypassing this battered book that I picked up at Vinnie’s for $1 for a while now, and am really glad I decided to read it.

Here’s a quick synopsis: It’s 1843, and Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer and his housekeeper/mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders. When Dr. Simon comes to interview Grace, he tries to unravel the truth of this crime.

Murderess is a strong word to have attached to you. It has a smell to it, that word – musky and oppressive, like dead flowers in a vase. Sometimes at night I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt across the floor.

Atwood is an incredible writer, but she’s also just a ballsy woman! She has the power to make you feel inside her character’s head, and to make you miss them the minute you finish reading her novels. She also takes really important topics, and weaves them through an entertaining plot. As a Canadian, this book is fascinating… it’s setting is at a pillar of Ontario history, the Kingston Penitentiary, and also Toronto area.

Grace’s character is mesmerizing. This whole novel you have no idea whether she had committed the crime, or was falsely accused. She is an excellent seamstress, and this is a big part of her character. Constantly weaving her clothing, and quilts, as she weaves her story of a crime.

And inside the peach there’s a stone.

Margaret Atwood put in so many interesting quotes, letters, and based this novel off of a real crime! It’s a fascinating story and I truly think that you need to read the book, or watch the Netflix show, as this is really interesting time in Canadian history… plus it’s just really entertaining.

Until next time, happy reading!

the Arrangement, by Sarah Dunn

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Okay, this one wasn’t my favourite… It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book I haven’t liked. And that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this one, it actually brought up a lot questions and situations that made me squirm! It was kind of like a train wreck.

Here’s the premise: Lucy and Owen have been married long enough to have lived in New York City and moved to the suburbs, have an 8 year old autistic son, decide to get 19 chickens, and be involved in their communities. Long enough to fall into a comfortable place within their marriage. Then after a very drunken night with some friends, they discuss the rules that they would place within their relationship if they planned on having an open marriage. After a long day, and a lot of thinking about how she has lost herself, Lucy decides to propose to Owen that they should do this as a trial for 6 months. Owen agrees… and I bet you can guess where this story is going to.

This book had a great potential to have some really deep, dark feelings get examined, but I feel like it fell short. It lacked a depth that I was craving within this story of relationship. Albeit the story was super juicy, and that kept wanting to read right till the bitter end. For anyone looking for a fast, beach read… go pick this one up! It fits the bill completely.

Until next time, happy reading!!!

State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett

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I’m an Ann Patchett fan. I loved both of her novels, Bel Canto, and then I rushed out to read Commonwealth when it was released. Sadly, State of Wonder sat on my bookshelf for far too long before I finally read it. Here’s the real reason I finally picked it up… when I read Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, there was a fascinating chapter about an exchange that she and Ann had in which she believes that she transferred the idea of this novel to her. I thought it was fascinating, so I moved State of Wonder to my pile of books to be read ASAP.  One last thing, Ann Patchett believes in the power of a local bookstore. So much so that she opened up Parnassus Books in Nashville, click on over to hear her interview about why she did this!

Here’s a quick synopsis: Dr. Marina Singh is sent by her boss to the Amazon in an effort to determine two things: What happened to her colleague, who had died mysteriously there scant weeks ago, and what kind of progress was being made by her former mentor in the development of a new fertility drug that was being funded by her pharmaceutical company. Both of these tasks prove to be most complex and difficult to achieve. Her former mentor’s work is at the centre of her journey and involves a little known tribe of people whose fertility extends well into their seventies and proves to be as closely linked to their life’s rituals as the environment in which they live. As Marina spends more time in the Amazon, it seems she is learning some deep, dark secrets that could end up extending her visit!

Hope is a horrible thing, you know. I don’t know who decided to package hope as a virtue because it’s not. It’s a plague. Hope is like walking around with a fishhook in your mouth and somebody just keeps pulling it and pulling it.

State of Wonder is awesome. I was skeptical, because a guest on Anne Bogel’s podcast WSIRN had said she threw this book across the room because she hated the ending so much!! I, on the other hand, just felt like giving this book a really long hug after I read it. There were crazy scientists, an insane anaconda fight, and some risky love!! All of these things had me sitting on the edge of my seat while I read this book. But as exciting of a story it was, there were some big themes and beautiful writing!

Never be so focused on what you’re looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find.

If you haven’t read any Ann Patchett, I strongly encourage you to. She writes an effortless story that just makes a reader feel so satisfied at the end. Her novels are all really interesting concepts that make you go, “Huh, what would I do in this situation?”

That’s all friend, happy reading!!

 

 

Brother, by David Chariandy

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Brother was the latest book for our in real life book club. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to this meeting… but I did read the book! It’s just the worst when you don’t get a chance to talk about a book that gives you some big feelings?!? This book had me thinking about these characters all the time… it was intense and woven so tightly that you needed to find out how the story played out.

Brother is a coming of age story of two brothers, Michael and Francis, who live in Rouge Park, Scarborough. Their mother who works long hours, and goes to school in the evening, is exhausted but longs for a better life for her children than the one she had in Trinidad. Their father no longer existing in their life. The boys are as different as they are alike. With interests differing, but their struggles with identity, race, and fear bound them. When crime enters the Park and becomes the norm, Michael struggles as Francis grows further away from the family. This is a heartbreaking story of a family, who has a dark cloud of fear, and exhaustion within their neighbourhood.

But of course, you can’t ever really flee. You’ll forever run the risk of being spotted, if only for a second.

David Chariandy was awarded the Roger’s Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for this book in 2017. Growing up he was a sci-fi fan, then discovered the works of Robertson Davies. Sharing a love for Davies made me want to learn more about him. He’s Canadian and originally grew up in Scarborough which was the setting for Brother.  I think that Scarborough is as much as a character in this novel as the rest of the cast in this novel. There were some rumours that this book was autobiographical, which intrigues me all the more!

Like I said earlier, there were some big feelings and big themes in this novel. The brothers relationship was one that made you nostalgic and want to call up your siblings. I felt like I knew the whole time what was going to happen, but I needed to read what and why it happened… and it was beautifully executed! I blew through this one in a couple days, and think that it’s a really important novel, especially this day in age to read. I also think that one day this would be GREAT required reading for High School English classes!!

Anywho… that’s all for today, and whether you are Canadian or not, go read this one!!