The Way You Make Me Feel (Maurene Goo) | Goodreads | 4 stars
This book took me a while to read, but not because I wasn’t enjoying it. I’m glad I took it slow most of the time – it’s a nice book to savor.
This is Maurene Goo’s third book, and I think it’s my favorite. I really liked her second book, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, but I didn’t actually like the love interest, which took some of the book’s glow away. I liked the love interest in this one, though, along with just about everyone else. Clara’s relationship with her father was probably one of the best things about this book (and I remember really liking the father-daughter relationship in the second book as well), but there were a lot of great friendships as well. One of my few complaints is less against the book and more about me – Clara starts the book with some friends who she drifts apart from over the course of the book, and I just don’t do well with those kinds of friendships – I never want to see a friendship end unless it’s really toxic. Again, though, that’s a me thing, not a “shame on you, book” thing.
If you’re the type of reader who loves reading about food, especially culturally-specific food (Clara’s dad runs a food truck that serves Korean and Brazilian fusion food, thanks to his Korean-Brazilian heritage), this will be the book for you. I’ve never been the type of person who really likes food-heavy scenes, but I really liked seeing how Clara and her father’s heritage shaped them. Her father’s family was from Korea and immigrated to Brazil, where he was born, and then her father came to the US when he and his high school sweetheart (a relationship that quickly soured, but in a way that made for good story lines and character relationships) were pregnant with Clara. Almost every single character, main and secondary, are people of color, with some sexual diversity as well. I’ve never been the type of person who wanted to visit Los Angeles, but this book makes me rethink that.
This was a short book, so it would have been easy to rush through it, but I’m glad that I savored it instead. If things continue the way they have, then Goo’s next book will be even better and another great addition to my shelves.
The Kiss Quotient (Helen Hoang) | Goodreads | 2 stars
*Hmm* I think this is another case of “It’s Me, Not You,” but I am having trouble getting all the hype. And yeah, the great hype is part of the reason I rated this so low, but it just didn’t work for me. I love romance in books, but I don’t really reach out for Romance Books with a capital R, and so maybe that’s on me.
The Autism rep in this book seemed great, and since the author has Autism, I think it’s positive rep as well, but as someone who doesn’t have Autism, I’m obviously not an authority on the subject. I wanted to see the rest of the book be just as revolutionary as the rep, but it wasn’t – there was a lot of romantic angst, the love seemed pretty insta-lovey, and there was way too much misunderstanding/bad communication. On the one hand, everyone needs to see themselves in romances, and that is the revolutionary part, but on the other hand, I just wanted more out of it. So, that’s why I think it’s a case of the “Just Me”s – I’m not a romance fan and I expected something from this book that it didn’t need to do.
So, yeah, I’m disappointed. I didn’t really care about the characters, especially Michael and his possessiveness and general angst, which made it hard for me to be invested in their romance. I think I would have liked this as Stella’s story without the need for the romance, but obviously this is a romance book and dual POV, so the book couldn’t just leave Michael on the side of the road and forget about him.
Obviously, there are a ton of rave reviews, and if you’re more into romance than I am, then this will be a better choice for you. I’m still curious to see what else Helen Hoang writes, but I’ll keep my expectations lower. If there’s less romantic angst (and some of that romantic angst seemed really unnecessary – a guy Stella know forces unwanted kisses on her, which just seemed like a way to make him into a bad guy and make Michael look better when it was unnecessary), then hopefully it’ll work out better for me.