The Bride test by Helen Hoang- A book review

The Bride test by Helen Hoang- A book review

You know I loved The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang last year and I knew I was gonna love The bride test too, given the raving reviews it has been getting from all around. Can we get on with the review?

About the book

Bride test by Helen Hoang Cover

Book Name: The bride test (The Kiss Quotient #2)

Author: Helen Hoang

Genre: Fiction – Romance

Characters: Khai Diep, Quan and their mother, Esme Tran, Michael

Setting: San FranciscoThe USA

The plot

Esme Tran is a self made woman, a single mother from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, who has been recruited by a rich lady to meet her son and win his heart, in a year. And in return, she gets a chance to the USA to look for her American father and help her family financially, if things go well.

Khai Diep leads a perfectly efficient life and he is not big on emotions. He usually ignores his mother’s nagging to get married as harmless, but when she brings in a woman to stay with him at his house, he is completely taken aback.

Did his mother’s plan work? Can Esme win Khai’s heart and more importantly, understand why he is not like everyone else? Is he really not like everyone else? Read The bride test by Helen Hoang to find out more.

My initial thoughts

I LOVED The bride test and I am going ahead to say I am gonna pick any book by Helen Hoang in the near future. She knows how to write characters that are fully developed and complex. Here is Khai who has made his mind up that he is above emotions and Esme can marry him only if he feels what she feels for him.

And both the families are rooting for them. His brother Quan goes a step ahead and even tries to speed things between them in his own way. I don’t remember the last time I laughed out loud reading a book.

I loved Quan and I can’t wait to read a book about his story. Interesting fact: If you have read The Kiss Quotient, you might remember Quan, the protagonist Michael’s cousin, who recognizes that Stella is autistic, because he had an autistic brother. That brother is our protagonist, Khai Diep. And Michael plays a cameo too.

The only problem I had was with dishonesty and omission.

Esme and Khai’s mother explicitly hide the fact that she was doing the whole arranged marriage for her own gains and the fact that she has a child back home in Vietnam. In fact, they agree to wait for him to fall for her, before telling him the truth.

And again, his mother omits telling her that Khai is autistic. I understand Esme turned out to be a great support to him and all. To be fair, doesn’t she have the right to know before agreeing to the deal? Go figure.

What worked for me

  • I loved the OWN VOICE representations, as the author being autistic and a Vietnamese herself
  • Oh the romance and chemistry! And it has been a while since I felt this invested in any fictional romance. Again, great writing.
  • The humorous and witty dialogues help the the Bride Test from being a steamy or sappy romance. Stellar combo!
  • I loved that all the characters, not just the protagonists, are full developed, with emotional depth.

What may have been better

  • Some people may find all the deception and disregard to Khai’s feelings off putting.

Bottom line

If you are looking for a steamy, happily-ever-after with great Own voice representations, The bride test by Helen Hoang is your go to choice. You will not regret it. It comes close to being The Kiss Quotient !

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Have you read The bride test by Helen Hoang or The Kiss Quotient? Does deception and omission hinder your liking of a romance? What are your main no go’s when it comes to romance? Let us talk.

The Bride test by Helen Hoang- A book review

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo – A book review

How religious are you and how interested were in God as a teen? Our experiences may vary and sometimes our family gets a huge say in these things. There are things that we all have in common and then there are some gaps. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo talks a lot about religion and faith in these lines. Let us get on to my review, shall we?

About the book

Cover Poet X Elizabeth Acevedo review

Book Name: The Poet X

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

Characters: Xiomara and Xavier Batista, Caridad, Aman, Isabelle

Genre: Fiction – Romance, YA, Contemporary

Setting: Harlem, New YorkThe United States of America

The plot

With an emotionally distant and a super religious mother, Xiomara Batista, a young teen, feels all alone in her questioning life, religion, on being a woman and her changing body. And boys.

Her Twin brother, who is a closeted queer, seem to know what their parents want and doesn’t have any problem in just doing that. Even if he has to hide things from them. Of course, he doesn’t get picked at by their mother or have so many restrictions as Xio because he was a guy.

Her best friend Caridad, is what Xio’s parents want her to be like. Soft, religious and obedient. But sadly, Xio was born ready to be a fighter, a protector and a spitfire.

Honestly all Xio wants is to be a normal teenager. Wear sexy clothes, meet boys, have a boyfriend, and to be kissed, all of which are forbidden by her religious, controlling and guilt tripping mother.

And Xio has questions. And doesn’t have anyone to help her figure them out. No one except her notebook that she has filled her poetry. Another thing she has to hide from her mother.

What happens when Xio finally finds someone or something where she could just be? Why would her questioning be so frowned upon by the religion. Read The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo to know more.

My initial thoughts

Xio is a Dominican, twin, catholic, thick girl and a poet and the author makes sure that she stays true to all the identities – from what I hear. Even if I am not a part of those representations, I could still relate to her and her thought process.

As someone from a “religious but not super religious” family, where guilt tripping, blind faith, sexism and casteism are encouraged, I felt connected to Xio so much that I even forgot that we are not talking about the same religion. I suppose most religions have a lot in common.

Acevedo’s writing, especially the poetry, was so raw and vulnerable that I had to often take my eyes off the book and collect my thoughts, which rarely happens.

If you had not realized it by now, I loved Xio. I wish I were this brave and fierce as a teen myself. And that I was as body positive as she was and I hate that she had to undergo the catcalls, groping, ogling, leering and then be guilt tripped by her mother.

Things that worked for me

  • I loved Acevedo’s writing. LOVED.
  • Xio’s questions about religion and women are so spot on, that she may have picked them from own teen dairy.
  • I love the way the author built real, relatable characters. Xavier, Aman and even Caridad and of course, Xio.

Things that didn’t work for me

I wish I got to know more about Caridad, Xavier and even Aman, for that matter.

Bottom-line

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo is a contemporary romance that focuses very less on romance. Written in a verse format The Poet X doesn’t shy away from intense themes like religion, women in religion, puberty, body positivism, and parental control. Good recommendation, even if you are not into Young Adult books.

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Have you read The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo? What other book have you read in similar lines? Do you read books talks about experiences with religions? Let us talk.

The Bride test by Helen Hoang- A book review

Yes no maybe so – A book review

What turns a book good to great? I would love reading a predictable story if it has awesome, well developed characters. Is that what happened with Yes no maybe so? I am not hinting anything! Read on to find out more.

About the book

YES NO MAYBE so cover

Book Name: Yes no maybe so

Author: Becky Albertalli, Aisha Saeed

Genre: Fiction – Romance

Characters: Jamie and Sophie Goldberg, Maya Rehman, Sara, Gabe.

Setting: Atlanta, GeorgiaThe United States of America

The plot

Jamie is a shy, awkward teen who wants to do everything in his might to help his favorite congressman win. He has aspirations to be a politician himself one day, if he can survive his toast at his sister’s bat mitzvah. To make things worse, his mom is pushing him to try out door to door canvassing.

Maya is a Pakistani-American Muslim who is not having the best summer. Her parents are splitting up and her best friend is moving away and has been too busy to hang out lately. When her parents offer to buy her a car in return for canvassing for Rossum, she is not thrilled. 

By luck and their mothers’ will, Jamie and Maya begin their canvassing with different goals in their mind. But a bill that was passed recently targeting Muslims and anti Semitic against Rossum’s supporters get them both rallied up.

Will the slow burn chemistry between them derail them from their political campaigns? Or is it the opposite? You might have to read Yes no maybe so to know more. 

My initial thoughts

Yes no maybe so is a cute YA contemporary romance with a liberal dose of politics. It takes a strong stand on their political leaning towards a particular side. So if you had strong opinions about it or that will stop you from enjoying this YA romance, you might have to watch out.

Even as someone who is not from the USA, I am not totally devoid of any opinions about it and such a law against covering the head would be against personal freedom, something that the USA boasts of quite often.

The one thing that did not sit right with me Maya’s sudden change of opinion towards kissing Jamie, given that she was not allowed to date non Muslim guys or to be physically intimate with a buy before marriage. Sure she was missing him and in love with him, but kissing (or any kinda physical intimacy) was explicitly forbidden. What made her make that leap?

This might sound too weird for others, but “no physical intimacy before marriage” is a real thing with desi families, and I am sure it would have been more strict in a Muslim household. #RepresentationMatters.

I loved Jamie’s cool grandmother and Sophie was a diva. I would love to read a spin off or fan fiction with them as main characters. It has been a while since I loved the sub plots so  much. 

Things that worked for me

  • I loved the fact that the romance takes a back seat (for a tiny bit) for family and politics.
  • Jamie was perfect. His awkwardness and mishaps kept me laughing!
  • The side characters were extremely well developed and I loved Sophie, especially.
  • And Yes no maybe so is based on a true story!

Things that didn’t work for me

  • We could have seen a bit more of Maya’s faith and her community.
  • Maya changing her belief and value for a white guy, may come off as a “white savior” thing to some.
  • And yes, the book takes a political stand. If you don’t like politics mixing with pleasure reading, that might be turn off for you.

Bottom-line

Yes no maybe so is cute and perfect for a summer read, or you know, for just staying in due to the lock down. It has well developed and likeable characters and takes a political stand. 

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Have you read Yes No Maybe So? What makes a good book great for you? What do you think about contemporary books that take a stand on social issues? Let us talk.

The Bride test by Helen Hoang- A book review

Red, White & Royal Blue – A book review

I know the times are hard and troubling and we bookworms are trying to escape the pressure of the real world. And so I am here help you do that with a great recommendation. Let us review Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, shall we?

About the book

Red, White & Royal Blue

Book Name: Red, White & Royal Blue

Author:  Casey McQuiston

Genre: Fiction – Romance

Characters: Alex Claremont-Diaz and his sister June, Nora Holleran (Alex’s best friend), Prince Henry George Edward James Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor, his sister Bea and Pez (Henry’s  best friend)

Setting: Washington DCThe United States of America

The plot

The sons of the first families of The USA and the UK hate each other dislike each other and the world knows it. The first families and their PRs decide to intervene and stage a fake Instagram relationship. 

What starts as a fake friendship between Alex Claremont-Diaz and Prince Henry blossoms into something more. But is coming out as gay worth all the drama in the royal family? And more importantly is their love worth causing a political derailment around the world? You will have to read Red, White & Royal Blue to know more. 

My initial thoughts

Red, White & Royal Blue was highly addictive and hilarious that you cannot put it down once you start. The banter between the leads is witty and adorable. The writing is top notch and Casey McQuiston knows to keep the readers hooked until the end.

Above all, what struck close to me was the lead characters and how much life like they both were. And the sub plots and side characters especially June, Bea and Nora, were as deep as they can be. Oh I loved them all. 

Things that worked for me

  • The writing is fast paced and quite an easy flow.
  • I loved the characters and seriously appreciate how deep their arcs were.
  • The witty banter and the chemistry between the leads is adorable.
  • An extra brownie point for the very diverse cast. 

Things that didn’t work for me

Red, White & Royal Blue is not going to be your gateway to learn every bit of the politics of USA. You get what you see!

Bottom-line

Red, White & Royal Blue is such a cute, sweet and funny LGBTQA romance that will definitely keep your lock down sorrows go away. You need this in your life!

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Have you read this hyped up book? How did you like it? What are you reading to keep you distracted from the reality? Let us talk.

The Bride test by Helen Hoang- A book review

Kiss Quotient, The – A book review

I hope y’all still believe in “better than late never“, because I am talking about a book that many of you have read and spoken to death about. Yes, I am talking about The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. And if you are one of those rare souls that haven’t read this yet, let my review convince you!

About the book

Book Name: The Kiss Quotient

Author: Helen Hoang

Genre: Fiction – Romance

Characters: Stella Lane, Michael Phan

Setting: Silicon Valley, CaliforniaThe United States of America

The plot

When her mother forces her to get married, the autistic Stella Lane hires a male escort to teach her the ways to please a man. Stella is a highly intelligent econometrician who is socially inept and hence generally poor in understanding people and thus relationships.

Micheal Phan works as an escort on Fridays to pay his ailing mother’s huge hospital bills. He is good at what he does and he is strict about not rebooking his clients, even if they pay well. Well everything changes when he is hired by Stella. 

There is an instant connection between them but they resist because professional boundaries and miscommunication. Do they or not end up together forms the rest of The Kiss Quotient.

My initial thoughts

I took the book right from the first page. It is a story that we have all heard before but what makes The Kiss Quotient a good book are the protagonists.

The characters are so well thought and developed with depth. None of the cardboard stereotypes that are a dozen a dime in the Kissing Quotient. Both Stella and Micheal made me laugh and cry when they did. 

I liked the fact that the author didn’t cheapen autism or oversell it. Even I, who have very little personal experience with autism, could understand a lot about the spectrum and Stella as a person. I would consider that a win for Helen Hoang. 

Yay for the representation (autism, Asian (Vietnamese) characters and a male sex worker)! And extra credit for not shaming the sex work in anyway.

Things that worked for me

  • The writing is so easy to read and I couldn’t put the book down at all.
  • I loved the well developed characters. 
  • The Kiss Quotient is kinda smutty but it works so well. Kudos to the author!

Things that didn’t work for me

Definitely not a young adult novel, as some believe it to be. Lots of steamy scenes. So beware. 

Bottom-line

If you are looking to beat the boring afternoons during the lock down, pick The Kiss Quotient without a doubt. This racy, funny romance will steal your heart away for sure!

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Have you read this one? Do you like steamy romances? If yes, suggest me similar books please. What are you currently reading? Let us talk.