TOP TEN TUESDAY : FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2019

I was going to do a similar post on my own about this anyway, but since it gels with the weekly TOP TEN TUESDAY, all the better! What better way to wrap up the year? I’ll talk about my favorite releases from 2019 here only.

Doing a TTT after what feels ages. It’s good to be slowing finding my blogging foot back.


The Beantown Girls | Jane Healey

I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this gem of a book. Three friends join as volunteers in Red Cross Clubmobile girls during World War II. My favorite thing about this book is probably the female friendships. But it’s also about courage and love.

You can find my review here.

 

Have You Seen Luis Velez? | Catherine Ryan Hyde

Another ARC that I loved. An uplifting and heartwarming coming-of-age story about a black teenager living with his white mother and her family from her second marriage to a white guy. He finally finds a sense of belonging when he meets his ninety-two year old neighbor, and sets out on a mission to help her. It’s wonderfully written and impossible to dislike.

You can find my review here.

 

The Bride Test | Helen Hoang

A beautiful love story between two very different individuals. I liked this one a lot more than its predecessor. It could be because both the main characters are Asian, or that they are equally flawed. Or it could be just because they’re both adorable and fleshed out really well.

You can find my review here.

 

The Place in Dalhousie | Melina Marchetta

This particular story is about Jimmy Haller coming home, Rosie – the mother of his child, and Rosie’s step mother Martha. It’s about how these people figure out their lives and their complicated relationships. And Melina Marchetta can write about dysfunctional families like nobody else.

You can find my review here.

 

Love From A to Z | S. K. Ali

This book explores many themes that I hold close to my heart –  Islam, migrant condition workers in the middle east, feminism, and love. And the author does full justice to it.

You can find my review here.

 

Lovely War | Julie Berry

This book is narrated by Greek Gods and intertwines two love stories set in World War I. Really, what’s not to love?

You can find my review here.

 

Daisy Jones & the Six | Taylor Jenkins Reid

A book narrated in forms of interviews where the characters look back on the rise and fall of an iconic band. This book was too real and raw for my heart. Taylor Jenkins Reid sure knows how to write strong women.

You can find my review here.

 

The First Girl Child | Amy Harmon

 A book about Nordic kings, runes, curses and magic. It’s a masterpiece, is what it is. If you haven’t read Amy Harmon, you’ve made a mistake. Easily my top 3 of the year.

You can find my review here.

 

Ninth House | Leigh Bardugo

The best writing of the year for me. There are a lot of polarizing reviews on this. Yes, the beginning does not make it easy, nor do the triggers. But the story only gets better from there.  I absolutely loved the writing, the plot and the characters in this world about ghosts, magic, portals and whatnot.

You can find my review here.

 

Bringing Down the Duke | Evie Dunmore

Hands down my most favorite romance of the year. This book almost reads like a modern romance, with its incorporation of the suffrage movement. What’s not to like about this book? Sizzling chemistry. Just the perfect amount of angst. Women fighting for their rights. A progressive hero. Relatable heroine. Compelling backdrops.

You can find my review here.


So, these are my favorites of 2019. I can’t wait to read the lists of everyone else and see if there are any matches!

BOOK REVIEW : THE BRIDE TEST (THE KISS QUOTIENT #2)

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love. 

review

When I think about it, there’s a lot in The Bride Test to nitpick about. Particularly Esme who is not even Esme. She’s Mỹ, a maid who unwittingly passes a bride test of Khai’s mother and flies to America in hopes of securing a husband and a better future. She is quick to embrace the new name of Esme. She lies to Khai about her occupation in fear of not being accepted. She also hides a huge truth that she has a little daughter back home.

And yet, I couldn’t help but feeling for Esme. I grew to be fine with all her deceptions and flaws, and began to root for her very early. I disapproved of many of her actions, yes. But I felt like a protective big sister, wanting her to triumph. And when I read the author’s note at the end that her initial concept of the story had Esme as the Other Woman acting as a nuisance in the main romance between Khai and an American girl, my feelings were solidified. Esme is a real character. She’s imperfect and dishonest at times. But she’s a fighter. And that’s what me loving her character despite the initial misgivings.

If you’ve read The Kiss Quotient, there Michael talks about his autistic cousin there. khai is that cousin. He’s extremely reserved, intent on maintaining distance with everyone, and finds himself incapable of love. And yet he’s considerate and kind, despite his unawareness about social cues. As his mother advises Esme, he only needs to be told in clear terms to understand things. There are reasons behind Khai’s reservedness and it’s not until the end that we find out why he finds himself incapable of feelings.

Khai and Esme somehow worked perfectly as a couple. I always love it when it’s the hero who’s a virgin. That just makes for such an interesting reversal! And here, it made Khai’s hesitance even more adorable. Khai’s growing feelings and his inner battle with his own conflicting emotions provided for the best kind of angst. Also, a special mention for Quan, who was an amazing brother and wingman to Khai. I’m hoping that the next book will be about him!

The ending might have been a little too cheesy and the resolution too easy, but I didn’t mind it. I’m happy to report that this time I was perfectly in the mood for the book, which sadly wasn’t the case with its predecessor. The Bride Test is just perfect romance with equal amounts steam and cuteness.


review

★★★★★

Book Review : The Kiss Quotient By Helen Hoang

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…


This was such a sweet story! Michael and Stella are the cutest together! If it isn’t obvious from the blurb, The Kiss Quotient is sort of a gender-swapped version of Pretty Woman with an autism twist.

I think the twist worked because the plot started off on a refreshing note for me. Stella’s character and her vulnerabilities appealed to me. I loved how she’s an Econometrician and doesn’t let her Asperger’s syndrome get in the way of pursuing what she wants.

Michael has a mixed Swedish and Vietnamese heritage. My favorite scenes all featured his Vietnamese family. The chaos borne from Stella interacting with his large and loud family were the highlights of the book for me.

Stella and Michael both suffer from insecurities – each letting their respective situations make them feel unworthy of the other. That’s why, it was beautiful to see Michael feeling cherished and valued by Stella, something he was unaccustomed to. But what made my heart swell the most was the way, in the end, Stella deals with what she feels are her shortcomings and comes to terms with them, without the help of Michael.

These little things made this story more than just a sweet romance. Truth be told, I think I made a mistake reading this book now. There were a lot of fluffy romantic parts with graphic details during which I found my interest waning. I should probably have waited for when I was in more of a mood for sweet old formulaic romances to start this book. But that’s on me. The book works perfectly fine as a romance as long as you know what you’re in for.


My Rating: ★★★☆☆