Publisher: Penguin


Monday, June 04, 2018

In Conversation With Nick: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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In Conversation With Nick: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
The Kiss Quotient
Helen Hoang
Genre: Adult, Romance
Publication date: June 5th, 2018
by Berkley

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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 crave all of the other things he's making her feel. 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...
 
-A copy was provided by Berkley for review-

Nick (The Infinite Limits of Love) is the one who made me read this book so it’s only right that my review of it is actually just me fangirling over it with her. ENJOY!

Rashika: Nick left me here to write a review while she is showering and I don’t know what to say. IT’S HER FAULT I READ THIS BOOK. WHY ISN’T SHE HERE TO TALK? HMPH.

Nick: BACK FROM THE SHOWER! Let me just preface by saying this: Michael Phan is mine. No one is going to steal my book boyfriend from me.

R: Wow. UM. Michael is mine. I am sorry to break it to you. AND EVEN IF YOU READ THE BOOK BEFORE ME, IT DOESN’T COUNT. WE GET TO FIGHT IT OVER NOW. But speaking, didn’t you find it refreshing to kind of see how the heroine was the rich one showering the hero with presents??

N: Would you even have met him had it not been for me?????? YES. I totally loved that. And I loved that no one acted weird about it. Sometimes in romance books, you’ll have the gift-receiver act all irritated when the rich gift-giver gives them something they want, and it makes 0 sense to me. Stella was such a good bean, I loved her.

R: UGHGHGUGUHGHUG. WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS. He loves me more. Yes he does. He told me so. But also, yeah, definitely. It’s always the ‘prideful MC’ that won’t take any help even though they desperately need it. Stella is truly such a good bean though and I think like as much as I love Michael, she was also a big reason why I loved this book so much.

N: HE DOES NOT LOVE YOU MORE. HE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW YOU EXIST. Oh most definitely. There would be no The Kiss Quotient without Stella Lane. I loved that she was a smart STEM girl who had worked hard in a field that’s very male-dominated – I can go on 10000 words writing sprint about how much I loved seeing a heroine that is actively in a similar field of study of mine. Besides her obvious intelligence, I loved how aware she was of her autism and consciously worked to overcome the social anxiety that stemmed from that. She knew that she could be perceived as “cold” to others and she tried her hardest to not come across that way.

R: YES HE DOES. HE DOES KNOW I EXIST. WE HAD DINNER LAST NIGHT. I ATE WITH HIS FAMILY. Yeah, and I think Hoang herself made a conscious effort not just to kind of have an HEA story but also to have an open discussion about what it’s like to be on the autistic spectrum and how society perceives people who are on the autistic spectrum. Like there are moments in the story where like people try to understand Stella through their perceived social norms and Stella isn’t like that. She knows and she makes an effort to remind people of that in ways that are just SO STELLA. She is an adorable bean.

N: I think that may have been in your dreams, weirdo. YES to everything you said. I don’t claim to be an expert on autism – though I’m hoping to do some research into autism in the near future – but I found this book to be very eye-opening in many ways and I always appreciate when an author can teach me a thing or two. Helen does it so seamlessly too. Stella’s autism is very much a part of this story and Helen doesn’t shy away from the good and the bad.

R: YOU’RE THE ONE THAT JUST SHOWERED. YOU’RE THE WEIRDO. If it was a dream, it was a good one. Also yeah, I definitely cannot speak much to the kind of rep but also the book is #ownvoices and even if it won’t speak to everyone’s story, from what Helen has said, it’s really personal to her! But like also, you mentioned this earlier and like I think it’s worth mentioning again because Stella isn’t just her disability, IT’S SO GREAT TO HAVE ROMANCE NOVELS ABOUT WOMEN IN STEM. I love how much she loves her job and I LOVE ECON. IT WAS A GOOD TIME.

N: YES. I SHOWERED WITH MICHAEL. Autism rep is a little more complex because it’s a spectrum disorder so not everyone with autism will 100% relate. Though I guess you can say that about every rep. Anyways, how great was Michael’s reaction when he finally understood that she had autism? Ugh. Gosh. Michael was so perfect and I just want to love him forever and cry because real life men are trash. 🙁

R: NO YOU DIDN’T. SHUT UP. AND YES. HE was perfect and he wasn’t perfect because he was just accepting of the fact and doing the bare minimum, my favorite thing was that he didn’t like condescend to her about it and her feelings. He took time to understand why she was worried and why she felt the way she did. He also just, HE IS PRECIOUS. Like even before everything, he was so attentive and took time to make sure she is comfortable. He didn’t push her and he never really pushes her when she doesn’t want to be pushed. I LOVE him and no man will ever live up to him. THIS IS WHY WE FIGHT.

N: I was just about to say the same thing. I love love love heroes who take their time to make sure the heroines are comfortable. And here, there were MANY times when Stella wasn’t entirely comfortable in the bedroom and he went out of the way to make sure he was giving HER pleasure first and foremost. Boyfriend had some serious moves that had me dying, but more than his dirty mouth (hahaha!), I loved what a good person he was. I mean, the guy was basically selling his body to cougars so he could pay for his mom’s bills. And he never resented his mom for it. His focus was other people’s happiness, especially his family, and damn if that didn’t make my heart ache.

R: Yeah I am garbage for people who would do anything for their family. Did you ever read the Elementals series by Brigid Kemmerer? This is definitely off track but Michael who is the big bro in that series would literally do anything for his brothers and I MELT. I CANNOT WITH THESE AMAZING PEOPLE. I also think it’s 100% worth mentioning that the Michael has a great dirty mouth tho 😉 I mean, girls gotta have fun.

N: I DID! Maybe all book Michaels are great human beings! SHHH! You’re too young to be talking about dirty mouths, child. Also, can we talk about his tailoring skills??????? AND HE DESIGNED CLOTHES FOR STELLA. Imagine having a boyfriend who could make you the perfect clothes? WHY IS MICHAEL NOT REAL? *cries forever*

R: LEAVE ME ALONE. I DECLARED MYSELF YOUR MOM. (I thought you were gonna write cock when you were talking about his tailoring skills but then you didn’t) YES I LOVE IT. Also that just kind of plays into the flip on ‘traditional’ romance tropes that’s happening in this novel which is so much fucking fun.

N: WELL. That escalated quickly. I never knew you were such a perv, Rashika.
Right! I think it made the book very fresh. It stood out to me among all the romances I’ve read. Speaking of romance, I loved how the romance between Stella and Michael progressed here. It could easily have been super uncomfortable given that she is his client and the whole power dynamic with her paying him for his services, but I don’t know, man. Helen has got some magic in her writing because nothing about this relationship was icky to me. At one point, when Michael was taking her out on dates and having her meet his family members, I forgot that she had actually hired him. Their whole relationship was just so freaking sweet and shippy and adorable. I loved these two babies together.

R: You know me, I only read romance novels for the sexy times 😉 The only thing icky in this relationship is how you bully me into giving up Michael. I love him and you’re just jealous of our love for one another. But yeah, the romance in this boooooook. I think when you were talking about way back when, you mentioned there was a lot of smut but like for all the good quality smut there is, the romance is also so domestic. Like I love that we get to see them meeting each other’s families and building a trusting bond and eventually falling in love. I also love how Michael helps Stella build her confidence in her relationships with other people. Towards the end of the book, she begins to call out SO MANY PEOPLE ON THEIR BULLSHIT. Also like again, it isn’t just Michael who is helping her be her best self you know? Stella does the exact same thing for him. WHICH IS CHEESY BUT IDGAF.

N: Yeah, they were both very good for each other. *heart-eyes* I can’t wait to re-read this book 5 million more times because I can tell this is one of those books that I will never tire of. AND I CAN’T WAIT FOR HELEN’S NEXT BOOK! OUT JANUARY – wooo!!

R: ME EITHER. I AM GOING TO DIE WAITING so TA-TA BYE BYE. PLEASE COME TO MY FUNERAL, Y’ALL. Especially, Michael. Please come.

N: If you haven’t heard of this book, what cave have you been living in? BUT ANYWAYS. EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS BOOK EVEN IF YOU AREN’T A ROMANCE FAN. You won’t regret it!

4 Stars
4 Hot Espressos

OTP Playlist: Trouble Never Sleeps by Stephanie Tromly

OTP Playlist: Trouble Never Sleeps by Stephanie Tromly

Posted by on 04/27/2018 • 0 Comments

Today, I am bringing to you a playlist that I think encompasses Digby and Zoe’s relationship. This was slightly harder than I thought because well… I started off with a song in mind and like the fool I am, I never wrote it down. This hindered my initial search because all I could think about was WHAT WAS THAT SONG. Anyway. So. The general vibe Zigby & Zoe give me is fun and banter so that’s the general vibe of this playlist as well. Enjoy!

About the Book About the Author

Stephanie Tromly was born in Manila, grew up in Hong Kong, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and worked as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. She is currently on leave from her PhD program in English literature at the…

An Emotional 24 Hour Journey: I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

An Emotional 24 Hour Journey: I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

Posted by on 03/26/2018 • 0 Comments

I Have Lost My Way was my first book by Gayle Forman even though I’ve wanted to read a book by her for the past 5 years. I guess I am just going to have to go back and read more because I am in love with her writing style. I finished I Have Lost My Way feeling satisfied and warm gushiness from the good vibes in the book. However, upon hours of reflection, I can see that this book is not perfect for a number of reasons.

For starters, I was slightly uncomfortable with the way Forman wrote Harun’s story. Harun is a gay Pakistani-American. Throughout the book, we see his struggle with those identities and I felt like that struggle wasn’t really Forman’s to write about? I felt like she did…

A Fierce Adventure: The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras

A Fierce Adventure: The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras

Posted by on 03/05/2018 • 0 Comments

I am garbage for a good middle grade adventure so when The Mad Wolf’s Daughter was pitched to me, I was on board and wanted to gobble this book up. Good thing it wasn’t disappointing, amirite?

Here is the thing, among the sea of commercial fiction that dominates Middle Grade books, The Mad Wolf’s Daughter doesn’t necessarily stand out but thats not really a good or bad thing? Familiar tropes and adventures are good things and just because The Mad Wolf’s Daughter isn’t necessarily //different// doesn’t mean that it is a bad book or a mediocre book?

The thing about tropes (at least in my opinion) is that it all comes down to how the author uses them to enhance their story. You’re never going to read a book that is free of tropes…

Blog Tour: Between the Lines by Nikki Grimes

Blog Tour: Between the Lines by Nikki Grimes

Posted by on 02/23/2018 • 0 Comments

Occasionally, when a book is written in verse(partly in this case) and I need to review it, I break out my incredibly rusty poetry skills and write a review in verse too. I usually try to imitate the style of verse in the book but you know, it isn’t always successful.

This Book

Between the Lines follows the story

of eight teens.

It seems like a lot and is occasionally overwhelming 

and yet . . . 

Nikki Grimes has somehow found the balance so it isn’t

too much.

Between the Lines is so ordinary and yet extraordinary in the way it tells the story of

eight different children and how they come to embrace the power

of poetry.

The story of these eight different children is bound

to take you…

Liked But Didn’t Love: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Liked But Didn’t Love: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Posted by on 01/26/2018 • 2 Comments

I have no clue how I am supposed to start this review. I tried to explain to Nick how I felt about the book because we sorta buddy read it (she finished a day before I did) and it’s really hard to capture my overall reaction. There were bits that I loved but overall, The Wedding Date just didn’t make the impression I had hoped it would. It’s a total feel-good read and I want to see it on a big screen (this is the second time I am saying that about a book in the span of a month.)

I am a big romance reader but as Nick will tell you, I am really picky and want a very specific sort of vibe. I want the domestic scenes…

Dark & Rich: Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Dark & Rich: Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Posted by on 11/08/2017 • 11 Comments

I think there is this general conception that for a fantasy novel to be truly good, it needs to have about a 1,000,000 pages and at 304 pages, Beasts Made of Night is not a particularly long book. Do not and I repeat do NOT let that fool you. Tochi Onyebuchi packs a fucking punch in those 304 pages. World building? You got it. Adventure? You got it. A mother-fucking rebellion? YOU GOT IT. Beasts Made of Night isn’t just a great novel for fantasy readers but also for people too vary of the genre because of its reputation for long-winded novels that take lifetimes to get through.

Onyebuchi has a background in screenwriting and honestly, the high stakes and the quick pace of the novel really reflect this. For some people,…

What Julie Dao Learned While Writing Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

What Julie Dao Learned While Writing Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Posted by on 10/27/2017 • 2 Comments

Hey everyone! Welcome to Xpresso Reads’ tour stop for FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS. If you’re a fan of complex heroes & anti-heroes, this book should 110% be on your TBR. Today, we have Julie Dao on the blog talking about what she learned while writing FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS.

What Julie Dao Learned While Writing Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS is about a villain’s rise to power – or at least, Xifeng would be considered a villain in any other book where she wasn’t the star. Here, she is a dark and ambitious antiheroine who will let nothing stand in her way on the path to the throne!

As a result, the most common question I get is: was it hard writing such…