Friday Favourites: Romances

Welcome back to another Friday Favourites, dear friends! Last year this weekly meme was hosted by the wonderful Kibby @ Something of the Book! However, this year Kibby has passed the torch on to Lorraine @ Geeky Galaxy. This week’s topic is: favourite romances.

Well it certainly is the week for romance, isn’t it? I’m actually having a hard time choosing my favourite romances because if you haven’t noticed, I’m a sucker for the stuff and go through my fair share every year (of romance books, not actual romances lol). So how am I meant to pick out my favourites and keep it to a Top 5 list?! It’s a tough one… But after some thought here are five romances that I will always recommend:

Pride and Prejudice will forever and always be my favourite and I cannot recommend it enough. After reading it I’d also recommend immediately watching one of the two adaptations, both of which are amazing but I’m partial to the 2005 version because Matthew Macfadyen (don’t @ me)!

Give me any book set in Alaska and I’m guaranteed to fall in love with it. Hah, kidding. Maybe. Don’t ask me why but I have a low-key thing for Alaska so that was already a bonus for The Simple Wild. However, throw in some great characters, real growth and a simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking storyline and well, I’m sold. I became so invested in Calla and Jonah’s relationship. Jonah had me swooning big time!

I love the diversity that Hoang brings to romance–not only in having Asian MCs but also in writing about characters on the spectrum. It’s refreshing to read romances with characters who look like you and who come from cultural backgrounds similar to yours. The Bride Test has a mix of unique characters, an interesting plot and a good dose of steam, too.

I loved Josh and Lucy, but Josh was the shining star for me in The Hating Game. I loved his character so much. It might not be for readers who don’t like angst because well, this one was seriously full of it, but oh it was so, so much fun!

If you want a romcom with wonderfully fun characters who’re sure to give you a good laugh, then look no further than Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating! I love CLo and would recommend them to anyone but Josh and Hazel have a special place in my heart. I have a huge girl crush on Hazel — she’s such a fun-loving character and so full of life! Their chemistry is perfection and I love their love 😍

That’s it for my favourite romances! What are some of your favourites that you think I should read ASAP? I’m always on the lookout for recs!

#TopTenTuesday: Autobuy Authors

It’s that time of the week again, friends! We’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: autobuy authors. I tried to diversify my list a little bit instead of repeating authors and books that I’ve already mentioned on here countless times, but you can’t avoid the inevitable because these authors are my all time faves, so they’re bound to make an appearance! It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to just recall all the authors I’d auto buy, so I had to do a little bit of rummaging around my memory (it’s really that bad) and came up with this list. Yay!

Neil Gaiman. Gaiman is a master of crafting words into incredibly bizarre and delightfully magical worlds within our actual world. I’m always left in awe of his stories. They’re dark, funny, did I mention bizarre, and oddly touching. When I read Neverwhere for the first time a few years ago there was no looking back. He’s been an autobuy since! I’ve really enjoyed everything of his that I’ve read including American Gods, The Graveyard Book, and The Ocean At the End of the Lane, to name a few!

Taylor Jenkins Reid. So I’ve only read two of TJR’s books: Maybe In Another Life and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Both took my feelings and ripped them to shreds and I loved every minute of it! These reads are so emotionally packed and I’ve found elements of relatability in both of them, which obviously made it more impactful.

Jodi Picoult. I’ve loved Jodi Picoult since I first discovered her in high school. I think my first book by her was The Pact and it just wowed me with the writing style and the storylines. Since I read most of her books in high school, I don’t think I fully appreciated the complexity of her characters and their situations. I’d definitely love to re-read my favorites at some point!

Robin Sloan. Sloan’s books are so odd, intriguing, and full of quirky loveable characters that worm their way into your heart! Sourdough is probably one of my all time favorite books — no joke. It just makes me feel warm and so happy. Mr. Penumbra’s was also such a fun-tastic adventure with BOOKS and who wouldn’t love that?! I wish it were easier to get my hands on more of his books!

Helen Hoang. Hoang has only put out two books (The Bride Test and The Kiss Quotient) so far but I’ve loved both of them dearly! I love the diversity of her romances. They’re awkward, funny, sweet, (so) steamy, and have left me feeling light-hearted after each read. I am also eagerly looking forward to reading about QUAN in her next book, The Heart Principle. She describes it as: “kind of a cross between a gender-swapped Sabrina and Say Anything” … I MEAN C’MON. All the 😍 emojis.

Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff. I’m a little embarrassed to mention this but I’ve only ever read anything by both authors that they’ve written together. So that’s The Illuminae Files and Aurora Rising. It’s not that I don’t want to read what they’ve written separately, there are just SO MANY books and so few waking+non-working hours! But I will buy anything these two write together. They are the ultimate dynamic writing duo and slay me with their stories and characters!

V.E. Schwab. After finishing ADSOM I immediately knew it’d be one of my all-time favorite series and Schwab immediately jumped onto my auto buy authors list. I loved the writing, storyline and characters. The magic really came to life! I’ve since read and loved her Monsters of Verity and Villains series.

Christina Lauren. It’s as simple as I love CLo and pretty much everything that I’ve read from them! Josh and Hazel‘s Guide to Not Dating is undoubtedly one of my all-time favorite romances. This duo never fail to make me laugh, swoon, squeal, and generally have the most fun reading experience with their books. I’m so looking forward to reading Twice In A Blue Moon when it comes out!

Jane Harper. I discovered Harper this year after reading The Dry and there was just no looking back. Her writing is just stunning. It’s so deeply atmospheric, reading her stories takes you straight into the punishing dry heat of the Australian outback. Although her books are classified as thrillers, I’d say they’re more mystery, but they kept me guessing right up to the end.

Brian K. Vaughan. He’s the writer of my all time favorite graphic novel series, Saga. I’ve mentioned this one countless times already on my blog but it’s seriously so freaking good. Anytime someone asks me for graphic novel recs, Saga is the first one I mention. He’s also written Paper Girls, which I enjoyed!

Who are your auto buy authors? If you’ve done a TTT this week, leave your link in the comments and let’s chat auto buy authors!

Book Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Goodreads: The Bride Test
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction, Chick Lit
Panda Rating:

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…

I started this book for a group read with @travelingfriendsreads on Instagram. If I had no plans on the day I started this, I would’ve undoubtedly stayed poolside all day to finish reading it. As it was, I had to put it down and do things, but I was counting down the hours until I could pick it up again the whole time! This was such a fast, fun and sexy read. As an Asian, I find it so great to be able to read romances about Asians/Asian-Americans. Although I initially found the thought of Esme being a mail-order-bride not only stereotypical but intensely cringeworthy, I should have known that Helen Hoang would never have let it stoop to that level, so fear not book friends, this one is definitely a goodie! This wasn’t as sexy as Hoang’s debut novel, The Kiss Quotient, but I still found it fairly steamy (in the best way, obviously)!

I really enjoyed the characters and the chemistry between Khai and Esme was seriously electric! Like, it was palpable and it was really fun to see how their relationship evolved. It doesn’t happen overnight, but considering the time limitation of Esme’s visa, it happened faster than would probably be realistic. Although the speed in which they fall for each other is balanced out quite nicely by the ending! I thought their character development was done well. As someone on the spectrum, who “doesn’t feel and think the same way as others do”, Khai doesn’t believe he deserves love or is capable of giving love. He experienced the loss of someone he was very close to when he was young and since then he has been ‘stuck’ in that zone of no feelings. I can’t speak to the accuracy of how Hoang wrote Khai’s character, but I did find it interesting to read a romance from this perspective, and to see how Khai interacts with others and how he views and experiences romantic relationships. It was really heartwarming and satisfying to watch him slowly open up and learn to accept that he can love and be loved in return.

Esme was such a smart, strong and independent young woman and I was rooting for her the whole time! Although she and Khai were in many ways completely different, they were also wonderfully compatible and complementary. I was so pleased to see her stand up for herself and to go after what she wanted to improve her life by learning a new language and pursuing a degree; especially when things with Khai looked rocky AF. There’s a key aspect of her character that might be considered a spoiler, although you basically learn about it in the first few pages, so I won’t mention it specifically here, except to say that I wish this relationship in her life played a bigger role in the story. Especially considering how it was one of Esme’s main motivations. Probably the most unrealistic parts of this book occurred at the end — when huge life-changing secrets were revealed in the most casual manner and so readily accepted without thought. Literally no one batted an eye and it was eye-roll worthy.

If there’s one thing that I wished was discussed more was the perception of autism within Asian circles. In many Asian countries, you don’t ever hear people talking about the spectrum. It’s not exactly a taboo topic, but it’s something that many don’t understand or want to understand because it’s something to be pitied or just ignored completely. This was kind of demonstrated by Esme, who had no idea what autism was, when Quan mentioned it for the first time. I hoped that she would take active steps to learn about it and to understand more about Khai in light of her new knowledge, but I was disappointed when that didn’t happen.

That said, this book had me breaking out in continuous laughter with the character’s random quirks and funny and endearing interactions. Michael (from TKQ) also makes a small appearance in the story and it was such a cute little scene between Khai, Michael and Quan. And SPEAKING OF, can we talk about how much I LOVED Quan?! I’m hoping that Helen Hoang is writing his story next coz I’m sure he’s won the hearts of all the readers with this book and honestly, I just want more of him! IMO, there was very little to dislike about this one. It definitely lived up to the hype for me! If you’re saving this for the summer, I’ll say there’s no better time to read it; it’s definitely the perfect beachside or poolside companion. I’m so looking forward to reading what Hoang comes out with next (**cough**Quan’s story!**cough**)! 😉

Have you read The Bride Test (or The Kiss Quotient)? Is it on your TBR? Would love to your thoughts on it! Happy reading, book friends 🙂