Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Title: The Hating Game
Author: Sally Thorne
Release Date: August 9, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.

If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth-shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.

Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Title: The Kiss Quotient
Author: Helen Hoang
Series: The Kiss Quotient #1
Publish Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Berkley

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...

Review: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

Title: House of Earth and Blood
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Adult
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Bound by blood.
Tempted by desire.
Unleashed by destiny.

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.

Relationship Advice For My Younger Self

If I could recount the number of times I have mentally-face palmed at my younger self for stupid mistakes, I would probably give myself a concussion. There's no doubt that I have made many mistakes that I regret due to sheer ignorance and inexperience. I wish that I had a relationship-guru back then to advise on approaching relationships so I wouldn't have messed up so bad and dug a rabbit hole for myself. However, having emerged from bad experience, I believe that the best teacher is experience itself; there is no other way to learn something than to have experienced something first. No amount of advice from Quora can beat personal experience--and thankfully, I believe that I now have had enough experience to know how to navigate the realm of relationships without hitting any unexpected land mime. Here are the dating tenets that I would say to my 17-year-old self: 

Music: Past, Present, Future

This morning, I talked to a friend about how difficult it was for me to form an opinion on something. It was as if I didn't have emotions anymore. That made me realize that I was not properly accessing my brain's emotional side because I was suppressing how I felt about everything

In addition to my feelings of trauma, I have been dealing with issues of emotional repression. Emotions are an area of struggle for me. I don't like being over-dramatic and emotional, and I prefer to keep emotions to myself. I don't want to feel anything to avoid feeling my pain and suffering; however, it's not healthy. To be emotionally healthy, you need to unlock your feeling brain to work with your thinking brain. You cannot think without feelings, so trying to block that facet of your brain will not help you in the long run. You need to process and let out your feelings healthy so that repressed feelings do not manifest into anger, sadness, or grief through physiological symptoms. Emotions need to be let out and processed regularly, whether through art, writing, or music. Stifling yourself by avoiding emotional outlets will only lead to a further mental block where you don't even know if you exist because you do not think and feel to form judgments. 

Cars: a Public Transit Tragedy

I still don't have my driver's license, despite the fact that I was eligible to obtain one some three years ago. Aside from the usual excuses of a busy schedule and a forgetful mind, my reluctance to join the ranks of licensed drivers can be attributed to my mixed feelings on cars.

Cars, to me, represent the wasted potential of public transit. Part of the reason that they are so prevalent in Toronto today is because of the failure of the government and taxpayers to continue to invest in infrastructure, and I think that is tragic.

Review: Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

Title: Sex and Vanity
Author: Kevin Kwan
Genre: Romance, Fiction, Contemporary
Publication Date: June 30, 2020
Publisher: Doubleday Canada

The iconic author of the bestselling phenomenon Crazy Rich Asians returns with a glittering tale of love and longing as a young woman finds herself torn between two worlds–the WASP establishment of her father’s family and George Zao, a man she is desperately trying to avoid falling in love with.

On her very first morning on the jewel-like island of Capri, Lucie Churchill sets eyes on George Zao and she instantly can’t stand him. She can’t stand it when he gallantly offers to trade hotel rooms with her so that she can have the view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, she can’t stand that he knows more about Curzio Malaparte than she does, and she really can’t stand it when he kisses her in the darkness of the ancient ruins of a Roman villa and they are caught by her snobbish, disapproving cousin, Charlotte. “Your mother is Chinese so it’s no surprise you’d be attracted to someone like him,” Charlotte teases. Daughter of an American-born-Chinese mother and blue-blooded New York father, Lucie has always sublimated the Asian side of herself in favor of the white side, and she adamantly denies having feelings for George. But several years later, when George unexpectedly appears in East Hampton where Lucie is weekending with her new fiancĂ©, Lucie finds herself drawn to George again. Soon, Lucy is spinning a web of deceit that involves her family, her fiancĂ©, the co-op board of her Fifth Avenue apartment, and ultimately herself as she tries mightily to deny George entry into her world–and her heart. Moving between summer playgrounds of privilege, peppered with decadent food and extravagant fashion, Sex and Vanity is a truly modern love story, a daring homage to A Room with a View, and a brilliantly funny comedy of manners set between two cultures

On Moving On

Whenever I have time aside from occupying my life with busyness, such as when I'm on autopilot playing the piano or in the car alone with my thoughts, I always think about things that I regret doing. Sometimes, I just can't seem to silence those thoughts from my head and continue on with my life. Whether it would be shame or embarrassment, things I have done in my past affect me emotionally in a way that disturbs my day to day functioning. For those of you who don't know, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which was a result of past trauma from a terrible first relationship that left me in an emotionally unstable trainwreck. As a survivor of sexual assault, I experienced a manic phase that left my life in shambles due to things I did that I had no control over--things that still to this day haunt my conscience as much as I try to push these thoughts away.