The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang #BookReview

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It’s high time for Stella Lane to settle down and find a husband – or so her mother tells her. This is no easy task for a wealthy, successful woman like Stella, who also happens to have Asperger’s. Analyzing data is easy; handling the awkwardness of one-on-one dates is hard. To overcome her lack of dating experience, Stella decides to hire a male escort to teach her how to be a good girlfriend.

Faced with mounting bills, Michael decides to use his good looks and charm to make extra cash on the side. He has a very firm no repeat customer policy, but he’s tempted to bend that rule when Stella approaches him with an unconventional proposal.

The more time they spend together, the harder Michael falls for this disarming woman with a beautiful mind, and Stella discovers that love defies logic.

amazon uk amazon com

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This is one of those novels that I’ve seen everywhere and heard so much of that I was compelled to find out for myself what it was all about. I read some of the reviews beforehand but I either have a very selective memory or they didn’t really share what a good portion of the book was about. Okay, it could be that readers found it pretty evident that a novel about a gigolo is a novel involving sex, and it is, but I definitely didn’t realise how much bedsport would be involved. Either way, it sure wasn’t this that interested me in the novel. I love attraction and teasing but once they start to show off and there’s too much action and not enough steam, then I’m out. So yes in the end this made me cut off a star, I’m sorry not sorry.

What really made me want to read The Kiss Quotiënt was when I heard it was a novel about a woman with autism who hadn’t had a meaningful relationship yet nor any happy moments in bed. I wanted to get to know her. It was her autism that fascinated me and I wondered how she would look at the world from her perspective.

At the start of the novel Stella’s mother is urging her to find a partner and make work of her first grandchild. Enter male escort Michael who’s of course the most divine creature and loveliest lad on earth and who’ll help her to get her next date back wanting more.

I liked that the roles were reversed and even enjoyed knowing where the story was going. It’s not very surprising but I didn’t mind at all as I wanted a romantic story. What did stick out as a sore thumb however was that her autism was highlighted in her interactions with her parents, and with Michael’s family and friends, but between them there’s never any issue safe for an occasional unintended blip, meaning before he knows she has autism. Once he does, everything runs peachy perfect. A little too perfect for me though that a complete stranger understands her so well that her autism seems to almost disappear and it’s just a normal love story. I just don’t think it’s as simple as that.

I have to keep in mind though that this is not a psychological study and want it to be more than it is, it is a love story between two unlikely characters who happen to develop feelings for one another and the writer did make it an entertaining story. I loved the warm family feeling of Michael’s side, I loved the professions the characters were attributed and how they seem so perfect for them, Stella is an econometrist and Michael works in his family’s drycleaner and tailor’s shop, and even though the story isn’t really exceptional, it’s still sweet and lovely and I’m sure lots of readers will swoon over Michael. A perfect novel for some summery escapism.

I won a copy of this novel via a blogger’s giveaway. This is my honest opinion.

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Board games based on books

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Some books are turned into movies but did you know that some books are used as an inspiration for board games too?

Here are some books turned into board games. I apologize for the long list but I got a bit carried away… If you click on the title of the game it will take you to the site ‘Boardgamegeek’ where you’ll be able to find out everything about the game, how to play, ratings and even links to Amazon if you want to purchase the game.

Check these out and tell me if you’ve come across a favourite one in the comments if you like.

Discworld: Ankh-Morpork 

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Martin Wallace and Treefrog Games present Ankh-Morpork, set in the largest city-state in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. Lord Vetinari has disappeared and different factions are trying to take control of the city. Each player has a secret personality with specific victory conditions, which means that you’re not sure exactly what the other players need to do in order to win.

The action takes place on a map of Ankh-Morpork, with players trying to place minions and buildings through card play. Each of the 132 cards is unique, and “the cards bring the game to life as they include most of the famous characters that have appeared in the various books.

A team of artists have recreated the city and its residents for the cards, game board and box, with Bernard Pearson coordinating that team. Ankh-Morpork has been sublicensed to Mayfair Games for the North American market and Kosmos for the German market.

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle introduced a character named Sherlock Holmes in his novels.

You can capture the mystery and excitement of Holmes’ London in this challenging and informative game. You, the player, will match your deductive abilities against your opponents and the master sleuth himself, Sherlock Holmes.

In Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, you are presented with a mystery to solve, and it is then up to you to trace the threads of evidence through the byways and mansions of nineteenth century London. You will interview suspects, search the newspapers for clues, and put together the facts to reach a solution.

This is not a board game: No dice, no luck, but a challenge to your mental ability. The game has been thoroughly researched for Holmesian and Victorian accuracy so as to capture a feeling of that bygone era.

Tales of the Arabian Nights

Tales of the Arabian Nights is actually several games in one.

In the standard game, the players are characters living in the 1001 Nights universe, wandering about the map and having adventures. These adventures are designed in a sort of paragraph system, with the player to your left reading what happens to you and exposing the choices you have – choices that then lead to other paragraphs or outcomes. The characters evolve during their adventures, acquiring skills of various degrees of advancement to open up new options and various “statuses” (such as married, despondent, cursed, etc) which also affect play. The object is to become rich and come back to Baghdad.

Dune

Set thousands of years in the future, Dune the board game is based on the Frank Herbert novels about an arid planet at the heart of the human space empire’s political machinations.

Designed by the creators at Eon of ‘Cosmic Encounter fame, some contend that the game can best be described as Cosmic Encounter set within the Dune universe, but the two games bear little in common in the actual mechanisms or goals; they’re just both set in space. Like Cosmic Encounter, it is a game that generates player interaction through negotiation and bluffing.

Players each take the role of one of the factions attempting to control Dune. Each faction has special powers that overlook certain rules in the game. Each turn players move about the map attempting to pick up valuable spice while dealing with giant sandworms, deadly storms, and other players’ military forces. A delicate political balance is formed amongst the factions to prevent any one side from becoming too strong. When a challenge is made in a territory, combat takes the form of hidden bids with additional treachery cards to further the uncertainty.

The game concludes when one faction (or two allied factions) is able to control a certain number of strongholds on the planet.

Marrying Mr. Darcy

Marrying Mr. Darcy is a role-playing game where players are one of the female characters from Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. Players work to improve themselves and become more desirable as potential wives for the available Suitors. The ladies do this by attending Events and improving their Characters, but advantage can be gained by the use of Cunning. All of their efforts are in hopes of securing the husband that will make them the most satisfied character at the end of the game.

Game play is divided into two stages: the initial Courtship Stage and the concluding Proposal Stage.

The Courtship Stage is when players try to improve their Heroine’s chances of happiness by earning points playing Character Cards, and acquiring or playing Cunning Cards. The Proposal Stage begins when Event Cards have been played. In this stage, players will roll to see which Suitor proposes to them, decide if they will marry them, and calculate their final score.

A Game of Thrones (first book of the series)

War and chaos are engulfing the lands of Westeros. The great Houses are vying for control of the Iron Throne using the old tools of intrigue and war. Yet while the war for Westeros rages, grave dangers gather in the cold North, and an ancient enemy is gaining momentum in the distant East.

In A Game of Thrones: The Board Game, inspired by the book by George R.R. Martin players take control of one of the great Houses of Westeros. Via resource management, diplomacy, and cunning, they seek to win dominance over the land. Players must give orders to armies, control important characters, gather resources for the coming winter, and survive the onslaught of their enemies. A unique phase mechanic, battle resolution, and special ordering system make for an engaging game in which all players are actively involved at all times.

Dante’s Inferno

This is a fairly complex strategy game featuring resource management and trading. The objective is to move one of your player tokens to the 9th circle and defeat Lucifer.

The Shining

“The Shining” is a game based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. One player controls the evil and sentient Overlook hotel, the other the Torrence family, winter caretakers of the haunted estate. Using ambient hedge animals, terrifying phantoms and possibly human possession, the hotel tried to claim young, psychically gifted Danny as it’s own – by killing him. But Danny and his family will not go gentle into the dark night.

This game was designed with the knowledge and assistance of Stephen King, who was one of the first play-testers. It is available for free download at http://micro.brainiac.com/contest-games.html.

Sophie’s World

Loosely based on the book by Jostein Gaarder, Sophie’s World can best be described as a specialized game of Trivial Pursuit: Genus Edition aimed at the Philosophical and Hellenistic crowd.

Dr. Jekell & Mr. Hyde

The Gothic novel Dr. Jekell & Mr. Hyde was written by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. The game is still rummy at heart, with multiple suits of 5 cards each, with the twist being that the suits are designated J for Jekyll, H for Hyde, or J/H for suits that count as both Jekyll and Hyde. The unique mechanism in this version of MR is that there is a two sided card (the ‘identity card’) on the table next to the draw deck, which has Jekyll on one side, and Hyde on the other. At the start of the game, Dr. Jekyll is showing, but this can change if a “potion” card is played.

Metro 2033

Metro 2033 is based on the popular Metro 2033 universe created by Russian writer and journalist Dmitry Glukhovsky.

Tak

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Tak is a two-player abstract strategy game dreamed up by Pat Rothfuss in the novel “The Wise Man’s Fear” and made reality by James Ernest. In Tak, players attempt to make a road of their pieces connecting two opposite sides of the board.

Witness

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Witness is set in the world of Blake and Mortimer, a Belgian comic series started in the 1940s by writer/artist Edgar P. Jacobs. In the game, which is playable strictly by four players, you each represent one of four characters and your goal is to solve mysteries or crimes by sharing information with one another — but you are quite restricted in how you can share information!

Witness includes 64 cases for you to solve, and each case starts with an explanatory scene or image or both that someone reads or shows to the group. Each player then looks in his personal casebook to find information available only to his character. Players randomly decide who shares information first and in which direction, e.g., player A might whisper information to player B while player C talks to player D. Next, B will share both his information and A’s information to C while D talks to A.

After two more rounds of the most inefficient crime-solving system ever created, players read the conclusion of the case, which might offer additional information or another visual, then they each individually answer three questions about the case, with the group scoring one point for each correct answer for a final score ranging from 0 to 12.

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Did you know about these games? See anything you like? I knew there was a Lord of the Rings game and it doesn’t surprise me there’s a Game of Thrones boardgame but I had no idea there were so many others. I like the sound of Sherlock Holmes and the game Witness most of all… anyone want to play?

WWW Wednesday (05-06-2019)

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is a book list hosted by Taking on a World of Words, and I’m happy to participate today.

The three W’s are:
What did you recently finish reading?
What are you currently reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

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What I finished reading:

The Whisper Man turned out to be a great debut novel. It was creepy alright although perhaps not the creepiest I have read (The Changeling by Matt Wesolowski is still on top of my list) but it has enough scary elements to give you the chills nonetheless.

The Whisper Man by Alex North

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What I’m reading now:

I looooved Chris McGeorge’s first novel so much (Guess Who) and nobody’s happier than me for the chance to read his second novel via Netgalley. I like it so far but the mystery is still very much a mystery even if I’m halfway through so if it doesn’t give me a hint soon I’m going to get frustrated ;-). It’s a good read but I think it’s not going to top his first one.

Now You See Me by Chris McGeorge 

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What I’ll (probably) read soon:

When I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it! There’s lying involved! Who’s lying? Oh I love this kind of trope. This is the last book I signed up for to review on a blog tour and I normally don’t do many reviews for book tours, so that’s how much I wanted to read it.

Forget My Name by J.S. Monroe

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You are outside your front door. There are strangers in your house. Then you realise… You can’t remember your name.

She arrived at the train station after a difficult week at work. Her bag had been stolen, and with it, her identity. Her whole life was in there – passport, wallet, house key. When she tried to report the theft, she couldn’t remember her own name. All she knew was her own address.

Now she’s outside Tony and Laura’s front door. She says she lives in their home. They say they have never met her before.

One of them is lying.

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So that’s it, what are you reading this week? Share your link in the comments below so that I can come and take a look !

Living My Best Life by Claire Frost #BookReview

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Bell never thought she’d be facing her 40th birthday single. Recently dumped by her boyfriend of ten years, Bell is struggling to move on with her life – and surrender the fleecy pyjamas she’s been living in since January. Sick of being bombarded by #blessed on social media and feeling like her life doesn’t live up to everyone else’s, she decides it’s time for a change; time to find out who she really is, not who she thinks she should be.

Enter Millie, a successful online influencer posting under the handle @mi_bestlife. But as a single mum trying to make ends meet and stay ahead of the younger generation snapping at her heels, her Instagram feed is far more #BestLiethan #BestLife. With the internet trolls continuing to bring her down and an ex who cares more about playing football than seeing their son, Millie begins to wish her life was more like her filters.

It isn’t until Millie and Bell’s paths cross that the two women begin to realise what they’re missing. Will Bell finally learn to live life for herself? And will Millie see that she needs to start living for the moment and not for the likes?

amazon uk amazon com

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I was immediately interested in this novel when I read the title and I was even more convinced I was going to relate to the characters really well when I read the blurb. Bell and Millie are a bit older than usual – Bell’s next birthday is going to be the big 4-0 and Millie is in her early thirties – and I was happy to find they were fun but also responsible, mature women who happened to fall more into my age range. Bell and Millie are also both single, independent women with some emotional/relationship baggage already and some of it will certainly be recognizable to readers who are single after a long relationship and/or have had a break-up and are now a single parent. They are such normal and warm characters that I’d also love to have a Bell and a Millie and Wolf in my life myself after finishing my read. As much as I liked Bell and Millie though, it was little Wolfie who was definitely my favorite one, he just steals your heart away with his adorableness.

As I said, the title alone was enough to pique my interest. I might have expected it to be focusing on the lying more because I’m kind of used to it when reading my thrillers that people are pretending and putting on a mask, usually ending up being caught in a lie they can’t get out of it anymore. The people in this novel are smarter though, there’s no malicious intent and they are good characters, and lucky for them they have a friend who has their back and isn’t afraid to speak their mind. Overall it just really is a feel good book. There is of course some drama but it’s minor and if you need a novel to give you some pep, that is light-hearted and upbeat then this one’s a great choice.

Living My Best Li(f)e is a novel about warm friendships and a feeling of togetherness and community spirit, people working together towards a mutual goal. A few of the other characters in the novel seemed great too but I didn’t feel I really got to know them as well as I wanted, especially Ben and Suze would have been interesting to see more from. The storyline was rather predictable and I did miss some extra twists here and there to make it really stand out but I enjoyed the messages I could read between the linesI’ll let you discover them for yourself but I think one of them is pretty obvious in regards to social media. This novel contains a beautiful message to be more truthful to yourself as well as to others. It’s time to be happy with life as it is and not camouflage it to make it seem better just to get a few more likes. 

I received a free copy of this novel from Books and The City in exchange for my honest opinion.

Same book – different cover #11

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I’m back with 5 new book covers to pick and choose your favorite one. This is just for fun so there are no wrong answers! OK, I’ll go first, then it’s up to you:

Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox

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I’m going for cover n° 1. I totally get cover 2 and it is much creepier but I like the psychological thriller vibe more than the creepy horror vibe so that’s why I choose the first.

Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard

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Oh cover 1 without a doubt. It has such lovely soft colours, so inviting!

Never Tell by Lisa Gardner

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OK cover 2 because the red just screams danger and fire (and I know there’s plenty of both in the novel).

The Truth about Love and Dogs by Lilly Bartlett

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Well this is a special one. The author sent them to me asking for my and also your opinion so I really want to hear what YOU have to say about this one because for me, this is the most difficult one and I don’t really know what cover to choose. In the end I chose cover 2 because with such a title (which I adore btw) I really want to see a dog on the cover to make it extra sweet. If you look closely there’s one on the first cover too but you really have to look hard (well I didn’t see it at first sight). I just think I’d pick it up sooner at the bookstore if I saw the second one.

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracy Garvis Graves

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Very different covers… but I really like the first one. The first seems like a love story, the second feels like the book is tragic and sad…

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So that’s it. Tell me your thoughts! If you can’t get enough, check out Battle Of The Books #1 – #2#3 – #4 – #5#6 – #7#8#9#10

The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse #BookReview

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What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?

Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

amazon uk amazon com

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A beautiful story about change and the process one of the character’s goes through of finding herself again. The novel spreads an important and uplifting message, one that encourages everyone to stay true to yourself.

Are rich people really happier? At her introduction our main protagonist Nina thinks so. She was born into a rather poor family but then her future husband swept her off her feet instantly. It made her want to create a distance between her old life and her new one which also meant a certain detachment from her sister as well.

The difference couldn’t be bigger when her husband passes away. Not only does she need to deal with the loss of her husband and the boys of their father, she’ll have to take a step back from her posh lifestyle too.

Of course all of this doesn’t get resolved without any struggle. Just remember there’s always sunshine on a cloudy day, even if you don’t see it immediately it is present, it’s only temporarily hiding behind the clouds. It sure helps that good sisters do what good sisters do, which is sticking by their sister’s side when she needs it and it was sweet to see their dynamic.

I enjoyed the highs and lows of the story which made me feel for Nina and her children. I didn’t feel as sad and emotional as I thought I would feel, however, when reading about this broken family, but I have to admit by the end of the novel my throat closed up after all, and that made me even happier because it was a good feeling that caused it ;-).

The only thing that made me a little sad was the fact that they didn’t speak very highly of Finn and that felt a bit unfair. I don’t feel you should speak ill of the dead – unless they are bad people – and I just didn’t feel that he was. I was happy they gave it a twist in the end at least that was a bit more forgiving.

The art of hiding is a wonderful novel about grief but also hope and happiness and I certainly see myself reading more of this author’s books.

I received a free paperback copy of this novel from the author. This is still my honest opinion.

Degrees of Guilt by HS Chandler #BookReview #BlogBlitz @HSCinkpen @orion_crime @TrapezeBooks

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I’m changing up my schedule guys, there won’t be a review on Sunday because this beauty releases today in e-book and I just couldn’t resist getting involved. I’m super happy I did because Degrees of Guilt is absolutely brilliant!

Happy publication day to HS Chandler!

Degrees of Guilt blogblitz

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When you read this book, you will think you know every twist in the tale.

Maria is on trial for attempted murder.

She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead.

Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate.

She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out.

You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent.

You will be wrong.

amazon uk amazon com

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I enjoy stories that involve morals and put you on the spot. I adore novels that provoke a reader and make you question the side you’re on. I love novels that secretly make you want to cheer the bad guy on..  it’s wrong to do so and you feel guilty but ok not all that much because sometimes, you know, it just can’t be helped. Degrees of Guilt is exactly this kind of brilliant novel, it hits all the high notes. In hindsight, I have to admit the title kind of gives it away but I was still very much unaware of it when I started reading this novel. I was ready to judge and condemn but I’ve never felt so torn.

The novel did start chillingly, with a woman, cold and rational, standing beside her dead husband. She also admits to the crime right away. How could this court case go then, it’s all rather clear cut, right? Awful crime, no remorse, big sentence to be expected. Well you might be mistaken there. There was a lot of background story that explains her current predicament. The novel massively challenged me to take mitigating circumstances into consideration. How much can be excused and can you ever understand why someone would murder someone else? I don’t know if I could say it out loud but eh deep down I understood why she did it for one hundred percent. What the outcome, the verdict would be was a big mystery though, and what I wanted it to be and how the jury saw it and if we were on the same page at all, I can’t say.

At first there wasn’t a bone in my body that made me consider her innocent but as the days progressed it was obvious that she was a victim too, trapped in a loveless marriage. I have read plenty novels with disturbing content and domestic abuse before but the author detailed her daily horrors so perfectly, it was such a quiet venom that poured from the pages, it would melt the coldest of hearts. A big tipping point and a scene that had a big impact on me was when I read about the tampons. I don’t know why that stood out but I think it’s something that is just completely our (a woman’s) business and everyone else should keep out of it.

Even though I knew what she had done and saw the damage together with the jury, I couldn’t help sympathise with Maria almost from the beginning. I believed her, I wanted to believe her, although I didn’t really know why she felt the need to lie about parts of her story. Why would she do that? A tiny part of me did feel a moment’s hesitation there about her. I didn’t know what to think.

Degrees of guilt is a domestic drama mixed with fantastic scenes in the courtroom and let’s not forget the sizzles between Lottie and hottie Cameron. Gawd there’s electricity crackling in the air! Their game was tantalising to watch unfold and he was sooo hot I could feel my own cheeks burn ;-). I found it a bit odd to insert this into such a novel but then it did help to lighten up the story a little and in the end it just worked out brilliantly.

Degrees of Guilt is definitely one of the best releases of the year for me. The novel demands to take a stance about the justice in this case and what you think is fair, it is so heartfelt, you just can’t not think about it when you’re not reading it. What would you do if you were on the jury? I can tell you it’s a difficult one because our heart and our head speak a different language when reading this novel! I can’t believe this is the first novel by Helen Fields I read but it most definitely won’t be the last.

I received a free ecopy via Netgalley from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.