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Book Review: The Bride Test

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang is the second book of The Kiss Quotient trilogy. The main characters of this installment are Khai Diep (Michael Phan’s cousin from The Kiss Quotent and Quan Diep’s younger brother) and Esme Tran. This whole romance trilogy is connected by a couple themes: various shades of autism, Vietnamese-American immigrant perspective, and the Michael-Quan-Kai big family.

Plot

Khai Diep steadfastly avoids relationships because he thinks he is unable to love due to the way he processes emotions. His mom takes it into her own hands and goes to Vietnam to find him a bride. Esme Tran, chosen by Khai’s mother, flies to California to seduce Khai into marriage. With such a premise, you can be sure there will be lots of LOL and fun awkward moments!

One thing I didn’t expect was how big of a role Quan Diep played in this book. That just makes me love his character more, especially going into The Heart Principle (No 3).

Own Voice

I love that Helen Hoang is writing stories based on her experiences. The authenticity shines through all the books. Perhaps more so in The Bride Test than in the other two because the female protagonist is Vietnamese. In the first one Stella Lane (I think) is white and in the third one Anna Sun is Chinese-American. I’d definitely say I liked Esme’s voice best because she’s such a fighter. I mean, Stella and Anna are endearing too, however, they are extremely privileged with regard to their economic backgrounds.

Steam

I gotta say, Helen Hoang is pretty steamy. The Bride Test has some fun scenes, but I think The Kiss Quotient had more smutty content. The Bride Test for me has more humor and heart.

All of the books can be read as a stand-alone and not in order, but trust me, I think you’ll fall in love with these boys!

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Book Review: The Heart Principle

I am so in love. Helen Hoang!!! Scream!

Okay. The Heart Principle is book 3 in The Kiss Quotient trilogy, and since they work fine as stand alones I started with Anna Sun and Quan Diep (QUAN DIEP STAND) because Anna Sun is a classical violinist so hello! I am sure we can related. And gosh did we relate.

The Tropes

What could be better than a contemporary romance (The Heart Principle isn’t a rom COM, not at all) with these tropes: badass bike boy whose got tattoos all over his body and goody Chinese-American violinist girl trope? How about if the badass boy is a cancer survivor and goody violinist girl is autistic? Yeah. I told you it ain’t a rom COM because I don’t think it’s got comedic elements at all, despite the fun and light cover. It’s actually really sad, honest, and so, so romantic.

Anna Sun

As a classical violinist I am just in AWE of Helen Hoang’s portrayal of Anna’s struggles with her music. It’s spot on. I mean, granted, it’s on the extreme side of the representation, but Anna is kind of an extreme girl. When she’s good, she’s so good and pleasing to everyone. When she snaps…let’s say certain precious things get shattered. Permanently.

Anna’s family situation is so relatable on so many levels, that I seriously had to skip some pages because it was so triggering to read it portrayed just like that on the page. Take heed readers, I’m not kidding, it hits home and stabs our hearts especially if you’re a Chinese diaspora.

Quan Diep

Quan. This guy is FIXED my favorite fictional guy this year! Adam Carlsen from The Love Hypothesis can move aside because Quan Diep is the most sensitive, kind, caring, COOL, patient, cutest boyfriend ever. Seriously girls, you are going to fall hard for this Vietnamese biker man. His character is so three dimensional it feels like I might run into him anytime!

Autism Representation

Let’s also not forget how amazing it is to have an autistic author write characters with various representations of being on the spectrum. I seriously learned so much. What a lot of valor it takes to be unapologetically yourself, whatever state it is.

I immediately tried to get my hands on physical copies of The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test, and am so excited to start reading them.

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A New Series!

My blog besties, I’m sorry to update y’all kind of late on this new scifi project I’ve started (!!!!). After Elements (Nishaverse #3), I had already plotted out the next book in the series. It’s set to be a standalone happening a couple of years after the final events in Elements. However, as the Muse usually whispers in odd ways, I got this idea…

When the Muse Whispers

Ok it’s not really sudden because I’d been thinking about it for a while. Plus there was this phase of my life back several years ago when I was just obsessed with theoretical physics, string theory, M-dimension, and all that. I’d always wanted to write a story that happens in several dimensions at the same time, and how they (the characters, the dimensions) relate to each other.

Then I kid you not I hear this TikTok sound that’s trending (below) and BAM that was what got this sci-fi romance draft started. So obviously we know that I’m clearly not over my obsession with theoretical physics. Second I am probably having too much fun on TikTok. BUT DO NOT JUDGE THE MUSE! If it comes, it comes.

What’s It About?

So what do we know about this new series? Well, the setting is in Nusantara (the new capital of Indonesia) 25 years from now. Our heroine is inspired by the Netflix Arcane series – Jinx and also her sister Vi. This new series is a young adult science fiction romance. Aaaand, of course, there is a parallel world to which they travel.

I wrote and wrote (and wrote) earlier this year. After the first draft was finished (March 2nd) hubby read it and gave some crucial feedback. This was a very important worldbuilding aspect I hadn’t been able to grasp: how time works in the parallel world they travel to. I also had to go through the whole draft and change ALL the tenses. I’d written it in third person past tense but then felt that first-person present tense was what the story needed.

Draft 2.0

I finished the second version of the draft earlier this month (April 2022) and am now just letting my wonderful beta readers and editor go through it (slay through it is probably more accurate). I’m nervous but well that’s just part of it. In the meanwhile, I’m doing as much reading of classic sci-fi for reference: Dune, Ancillary Justice, and The Left Hand of Darkness. I also plan to check out 2 mangas for reference: Full Metal Alchemist and H2O. I just need to find them…

If you have science fiction recommendations for me, let me know! To read some of my other works, visit the shop. Every purchase helps this wayfaring author, so thank you, readers!!

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Book Review: The Love Hypothesis

The Love Hypothesis book is such a sensation on booktok! It comes up in my feed at least once a day. Which is a good thing. When the tide rises, everyone benefits – in this case when people start to get into romantic comedies with women in STEM protagonists…now that is COOL. My review does have SPOILERS so beware!

I just love that the author herself is a scientist. In fact Ali Hazelwood has a PhD and is a neuroscientist professor. That’s what I’m talking about! Women can rise as high as we let ourselves be. We can encompass as many different fields as we want. Life is too short to downplay ourselves so GO TAKE THAT SHOT.

That aside my thoughts for this book is like almost everyone else’s. It’s cute, sweet, and I definitely couldn’t put it down. The hype is real, unless you hate the fake-dating trope then well, maybe pick up something tragic. Like Romeo and Juliet-sorry I just watched the new West Side Story directed by Steven Spielberg and am all tragic-ked up. Anyway in order to make this not just another book review about The Love Hypothesis, let me try to take a different angle.

One Thing I Wished Was Different

There is just one thing that I kind of wish could have been different about this book. In the part where Tom sexually harassed Olive, she was able to overcome the issue because of an accident. Olive accidentally recorded the harassment on her phone. Then she accidentally played the recording for her friends, which is how they found out. Thus she accidentally has proof.

Then, she goes to Adam, who luckily is an awesome guy (we all love Adam). He takes care of the problem for Olive. Sweet. Really, it’s melting. But sadly, more often is the case where survivors don’t have proof at all. Because of that, they get even more abused. And even more often still is the case where survivors tell their loved ones, but even with proof their loved ones blame them. Victim blaming.

So instead of getting comfort and help, survivors often get shamed on even more. I know this from my own experience, and from my work as an activist in sexual harassment campaigns in Indonesia. So if it could be different, I wished Olive had intentionally spoken up, and then have Adam help her take care of the problem, instead of letting Adam simply take care of it for her. Because then, Olive wouldn’t just be sweet, she would also be kick-ass.

All in all though, I really enjoyed this rom-com and will be opening myself up to the genre more.

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Book Review : A Court of Silver Flames

A Court of Silver Flames is the newest, steamiest book in Sarah J Maas‘ series A Court of Thorns and Roses. Nesta Archeron, the older sister of Feyre Acheron, is the heroine (or rather, antiheroine) of this book. Careful, spoilers ahead.

Nesta Archeron

Nesta was changed into a faerie when she was forcefully dipped into the cauldron by the evil King of Hybern. In the process, Nesta’s will of steel won. She made a pact with the cauldron, taking more from its dark powers than it wanted to give her.

As a result, Nesta has unimaginable powers which make even Rhysand, the High Lord of the Night Court, shudder with fear. What would happen if Nesta turned all dark and decided to unleash her powers? Of course, it doesn’t help that Nesta is also emotionally traumatized over the death of the Acheron sisters’ father. She spirals down a pit of frustration, despair, turning to alcohol and sex to keep her body going. Here Feyre steps in and commands an intervention.

Nesta is moved to the House, a magical place on top of ten thousand stairs that could be reached only by climbing those stairs or flying. For those that do not have wings like Rhysand, Azriel, or handsome Cassian, then they had to be carried by one of those three hot guys. Not too difficult, considering Nesta and Cassian’s undeniable attraction for each other.

“Nessian” Steam

In addition to being relocated to a safer environment, Nesta is also required to do physical training. Guess who her trainer is? None other than the General of the Ilyrian army: Cassian himself.

Words of warning: A Court of Silver Flames has a lot of smut. Nesta and Cassian (or “Nessian” as the fandom calls it) are steamy hot. At some point they are friends-with-benefits with each other, which always makes for juicy relationship yumminess. I do like this, but A Court of Silver Flames was not branded as smut so some readers might have a problem with that, cuz really there was a lot of sex.

Another aspect that I liked was the Valkyries, an order of women warriors which Nesta reinstated with the help of some friends: Gwen and Emerie. This friendship was a pleasant surprise.

Overall I thought this book was long and to be frank boring plot wise, mostly because the author uses exactly the same twist devices as she did for the previous books. It did have some bright moments here and there though. I honestly kept going because of the delicious smut scenes. An author I would recommend if you like dark steamy books is Katee Robert.

Have you read A Court of Silver Flames? What did you think?