Romance

My Review: The Kiss Quotient: by Helen Hoang

Publish Date: June 5th, 2018
Number of Pages: 336 Pages
Publisher: Berkley
Genre(s): New Adult Romance, Contemporary Romance

Total Star Rating: 4 Stars

A revitalizing title that can bring back some fresh, much needed rekindling in the Romance genre! It’s a hard genre to stay into, I must admit, because by now it feels like everyone can agree on one thing: it’s so full of clich├ęs. Some are more forgivable than others, but there is certainly a surplus that really either need to be switched up by the creativity of the authors, or just be forgotten about entirely…and yes, I do mean the brooding, charismatic CEO’s with a fucked up past that turn to BDSM to hide their issues with…Thanks for that Twilight

Anyways, this novel luckily swerves away from that, and were left with something that just feels fresh and somewhat new of a concept, where someone with a mental disability–or condition?–is the protagonist.

For the most part, I enjoyed the book for what it was; some people who criticized this book took it too seriously in my opinion. It’s not meant to be some deep, lyrical look into the psyche of someone or whatever it is they’re dealing with in terms of their mental condition, but a romance novel…like jeez people, go read some J.D. Salinger or Nathaniel Hawthorne if you’re looking for deeper depictions of the human condition in literature.

This book was fun, a perfect mix of sweet and steamy, and a unique look into the mind of a young women who has a condition that affects millions of others in the world, odds are someone who you–yes you, the reader–has too.

What It’s About:

This story revolves around Stella Lane, an average 30-year-old in the Los Angeles area, and is someone who’s always been great with numbers–like, she’s actually obsessed with numbers, math, and algorithms and uses that to determine customer purchasing patterns. She’s a star in the office, but her personal life has some major room for improvement.

It turns out, she actually has Aspergers and is either not at all interested in something, or absolutely obsessed; there’s almost no in-between. At the ridicule of a coworker, Stella decides that in order for her to be considered “dateable,” she needs to work on her craft and gain some experience. What does she do then?…She hires a male escort to show her some killer bedroom techniques.

Michael Phan, the escort, meets her at a hotel bar and they both hit it off. With money woes of his own, he’s not in the position to turn down many offers that are thrown his way, and he has to admit that he’s not exactly being tortured when a cute little brunette comes to him and asks for some help.

Both of them absolutely did not expect much to happen after the night they met, but soon realize they’re feeling more than just lust, and there may or may not be more brewing underneath the surface. There might not be a whole lot of logic when it comes to love, but Stella and Michael both may be willing to try and figure it out together.

What I Liked:

  1. Using Mental Health to Drive the Plot! What’s truly unique about this title compared to others is how the author used a mental condition like Aspergers as a way to draw the plot and show conflict within the romance as something that comes between the two main characters. Mental illnesses and conditions have become such a big part of a lot of people’s lives nowadays, and it’s refreshing to see it start to carve its mark in literature. It can help people feel understood, that they’re not alone, and can also be inspiring to those that also have the condition. Also, it can enlighten non-affected readers and maybe teach them a thing or two about those that do have it, and help our overall understanding of it.
  2. The Perfect Mix of Sweet & Sexy! I’d said it earlier, but there is a great balance between two sides of the romance in this title. The main guy is an escort, so did you really not expect some sexy times to be had? C’mon….beside those heated moments, there are also the softer, warmer moments between Michael and Stella that were heartwarming and just make you go aww
  3. The Player Falls Hard! There’s something about this trope that always just gets me, sometimes even more than the “fake-dating” one in other stories. For this one, it’s when the confident, smooth, charming, alpha-male suddenly loses his edge because he’s met the girl of his dreams, and she’s thrown him off his game. For some reason, there’s nothing quite like it because of how it humbles him and makes him see the world around him differently–for starters, that it doesn’t revolve around them.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. First Love Interest is “Meh”…The plot is presented to you when a guy Stella works with gives her a hard time about her dating life, and is an absolute scum sucking d-bag in general. First of all, what prick makes a girl feel so bad about not having much experience in that regard? I mean, I feel like I don’t need to go into this big whole rampage about #Metoo and feminism, but this guy was also someone who Stella maybe saw right off the bat as a possibly romantic interest…what exactly does she see in him?
  2. Someone Call HR!…Continuing off #1, also pay attention to the conversation between Stella and this guy–I forget his name, not that it matters–and tell me the guy shouldn’t be having some sort of sexual harassment lawsuit shoved in his egotistical face?? I don’t know if it’s unrealistic or he’s really that sure of himself; all I know is the author made it glaringly obvious that you’re not supposed to like him in any way.

Conclusion:

A refreshing and heartwarming title that ads something new to the Romance genre: using Aspergers as a way to add conflict to the overall plot. The author herself has the condition, so you know the occurrences and information recorded is all authentic. A great title to read for anyone who loves the genre and is looking for stories with more original ideas included.

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Editorial Articles, Writing/Articles

NJGEntertainment’s Top 5 Reads of 2019!

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The year 2019 is quickly coming to a close, and the 2010’s are almost behind us! Frankly, it’s a gigantic relief and it makes me start to look back on the year I’ve had as a human being. I will admit it and say that it wasn’t necessarily an easy year, but I won’t bore any of my readers with the tragic details…

One thing it did teach me was who would really be in my corner when the going gets tough, and while I have my own inner circle, squad, tribe, fam, whatever slang term is appropriate for the times, books are always a warm presence in my life! Why not follow the trend and end the year with my top picks that I enjoyed throughout the last 11 months!

Looking back on the year of books that I’ve read—My Goodreads Reading Challenge was 65 titles—I’ve noticed a lot of the books I was drawn towards tended to be within the Romance genre. There were plenty of Fantasy genre selections too, but Romance kind of owned it this year; I believe it is because I am so happy to see how many LGBTQ+ titles are now out there on the market. Back when I was an angsty young lad trying to survive just growing up and figuring out my place in this crazy world—I totally still am by the way—there weren’t as many available, nor were the ones that were really marketed that well and/or showcased like they are now. Representation matters (in all positive forms)!

Below are my top five titles that really seemed to have stuck with me, and left a huge impression on me amongst the many titles I got my hands on. They are in no particular order because I simply loved all of them as they continued to ignite my passion for books, reading, storytelling, and be sure to click on the linked titles to see my full reviews (who knows, you may discover your next favorite title!)

I hope you all enjoy my selections, have a great holiday season and happy new year, and Thanks for Reading!

Red, White, and Royal Blue: by Casey McQuiston

An excellent addition to the ever-growing LGBTQ+ representation in literature, this book is an enemies-to-lovers romance between the bisexual first son of the president of the United States (who’s also half-latino) and the Royal Prince of Wales. Alex and Prince Henry were complete couples goals, and so much fun to read! This was Casey McQuiston’s debut novel, so I can’t wait to see what she comes out with in future book titles!

Check, Please! Book 1: # Hockey: by Ngozi Ukazu

Another LGBTQ+ romance to add to my selections, this time in Graphic Novel form. This story follows figure skater, vlogger, and baker–Eric Bittle–as he goes off to start his freshman year of college to continue competing on the ice, but instead joins the hockey team! It’s an adorable coming-of-age story as he juggles adjusting to a whole new world on the ice with bro-ey hockey jocks, discovering more about his sexuality, and deal with his growing crush on Jack Zimmerman, the Junior Hockey team captain! The hilarious, memorable characters and the gorgeous illustrations were what really drew me in, and I absolutely loved this first volume! I am also so excited for the second volume to release in print in Spring 2020!

New Camelot Trilogy (American Queen, American Prince, and American King): by Sierra Simone

A scorching, seductive retelling of the iconic Arthurian tale that involves a passionate, secret affair amongst the President of the United States, his wife, and the Vice President. Excellently written from multiple perspectives as the whole story is slowly revealed; these books are freakin’ hot and unlike any other romance/erotic title(s) I’ve ever read before! I can’t recommend these enough to anyone looking for something 1000x better than Fifty Shades of Grey!

Again, But Better: by Christine Riccio

A debut work of YA-Contemporary fiction from a well-known Youtube Book Reviewer, this novel was an ultimate feel-good, coming-of-age uplifting story that reminds us to live life to the fullest, even when we aren’t always allowed a second chance to do over our past mistakes! A little amateurish in terms of prose and plot, but this title helped me out of a rough patch and has an amazing message that can really speak to just about anyone who reads it!

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1): by V.E. Schwab

Probably my favorite Fantasy genre book I read this year, V.E. Schwab really impresses with this book for its unique, imaginative, multi-universe London setting based on color, a magical being who can travel between them to send messages while wearing a transforming overcoat, a cross dressing female pirate who hopes for more, and dangerous, dark magic that makes a surprise return after being believed to have been lost long ago…

There are my personally selected Top 5 picks for the year! It was hard to condense the many titles I’d read down to these 5, so maybe next year I’ll raise it to my top 10! There were plenty of other titles that I really enjoyed, and so I’m granting them their own little section of this post, check them out below! (The titles with links attached are ones that I’ve previously reviewed, the others are ones that will be on here soon!

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BONUS CONTENT:

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2019 Honorable Mentions:

The Wicked King & The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #2 & #3): by Holly Black

Ninth House (Alex Stern #1): by Leigh Bardugo

Him (Him #1): by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

Caraval (Caraval #1): by Stephanie Garber

It Ends With Us: by Colleen Hoover

The Captive Prince Trilogy (Captive Prince, Princes Gambit, and Kings Rising): by C.S. Pacat

The Kiss Quotient: by Helen Hoang

Verity: by Colleen Hoover

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So, there you have it! 2019 was filled with many amazing titles that made for a great year of reading! 2020 is just around the corner, and with the new year fast approaching, my plan is to get even more heavily into Fantasy genre titles/series to not only enjoy them, but to also start narrowing in on ideas on what I want another future writing project to be about: Yes, I want to write a fantasy novel/series sometime!

So far, all I’ve got is that I want it to include queer romance, mermaids/sirens, more found family dynamics as a group embarks on some sort of journey, animal companions/guardians, half-bird folk, possibly two ancient dragons destined to return and battle it out, and a secret school of female assassins! We’ll see what happens!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell