The Heart Principle By Helen Hoang – Review

“When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. Translation: She’s going to embark on a string of one-night stands. The more unacceptable the men, the better.

That’s where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second, and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex—he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she has just started to understand herself. However, when tragedy strikes Anna’s family she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves.”

Firstly I’d like to say a massive thank you to Atlantic Books and NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read the acr of The Heart Principle. I honestly didn’t think I would get approved so I was pleasantly surprised!

Over the last year or so I’ve made it a point to find and read more books by authors who are from different ethnic backgrounds and I’m a sucker when it comes to it. I love a story about someone who is different yet similar to me. Someone who I can relate to but also I can’t. I like looking at life through their lens and living vicariously through them doing things, experiencing things I never would in life. It makes me happy just like this book made me happy.

The Heart Principle is book number three in The Kiss Quotient series but can also be read as a standalone. I myself have not read the first two books just yet but now I most definitely can not wait to get my hands on them. Also if I’m being entirely honest I had no idea who Helen Hoang was until I joined book twitter and saw The Heart Principle everywhere to the point I was like I need to read this book right now!

I am going to try to keep this review shorter than usual just because I have been struggling to come up with the words to explain exactly how this book has made me feel. I don’t want to spoil the plot or give too much away because I really think you should pick up this book and give it a read. If you are 18+ that is. Helen Hoang deals with so many hard and deep rooted issues in this book that you are going to feel every emotion under the sun – that is a given. I cried, I laughed, I even got annoyed and felt as though Hoang had taken a peek into my own life and somehow managed to weave it into this story. This is a romance, a spicy romance but it’s also a slice of life.

Anna and Quan are one of the most realistically portrayed couples I have read in a recent book. Both characters are going through a lot, physically and emotionally. Neither is looking for love, just someone they can overcome a hurdle with and then never have to see again but things never go to plan and somehow these two end up intertwined in each other’s lives finding comfort in one another. They understand each other and because there are no expectations I think they are both more open and vulnerable with the other. Two damaged souls – one a little more broken than another find solace eventually together.

Quan has the exterior of a total bad boy; tattoos, leather jackets and even a motorbike. He looks like the kind of guy your parents tell you to stay the hell away from but he is so swoon worthy looks and personality wise. He is one of the most patient love interests that I have ever come across. He is the ying to Anna’s yang because she is the opposite of him in every way. She is a people pleaser, she never says what’s on her mind and she is so self critical that she is her own worst enemy. She is phenomenal but she is surrounded by people who think they know best for her and don’t support or appericatte or even listen to her.

This story for me is about self discovery and acceptance. Coming to terms with who you are and being okay with it. It’s a story about family and how hard it can be – all the ups and downs that come with expectations and pressure. A story about how meeting the right person can change your life for the better.

I think I am going to wrap up my review here. I think I’ve said a lot but at the same time nothing at all. I have to give this book a 5/5 for exceeding my expectations. I really felt seen reading this book and it got me questioning a lot of things in my own life. That’s what a great book does, it evokes emotions, it stirs up something inside of you. The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang is now available in the UK from all major book retailers so definitely get your hand on it!

Witchy Coffee By Erin Ritch – Review

A fanciful coffee shop run by magical women. A barista that’s still trying to figure herself out. And a small town named Windia where the residents drink coffee and get into everyone’s business.

When a stranger shows up in town and puts her family’s coffee shop in jeopardy, Florence Mackenzie has to step in and do something to protect them, whether that’s an Espresso Off challenge, sabotage, or a good old fashioned banishment spell. But after the Mackenize women try to create a buzz by experimenting with a new blend of coffee beans, the residents of Windia suddenly start falling in love with each other. Florence chalks it up to the spirit of the holiday season, but when she starts falling in love (with the competition, no less) Florence starts to wonder if there’s something more bewitching in the air – or in the coffee?

A clean witchy romance set on the enchanting Oregon coastline, Witchy Coffee is filled to the brim with magical hijinks, an authentic enemies-to-lovers romance, and the cozy atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest during the holidays. Settle in with a coffee and slip away to the little town of Windia, where the forest meets the sea and there’s a promise of magic in every corner.

Witchy Coffee – yes! That is the title of this cute and I mean cuuuutteee (just look at it) book. How on earth could I resist and say no when presented with the opportunity to get my hand on an (ebook) advance review copy? I love all things to do with witches in all and every capacity so there I was screaming YES!! I went into to this book kind of blind. I didn’t bother to read the description only because I was already sold on the title and I thought lets just go wherever this story plans on taking me, no expectations.

I just want to point out that the whole time that I reading this book I kept thinking, that it would make the most perfect Hallmark or Lifetime movie. You know those little guilty pleasures that you binge watch around the winter break!! So just like every romantic story ever (I mean this in the best way possible) Florence Mackenzie just got fired from her job and now she’s headed back to her quaint coastal hometown for the holidays. Where she encounters a few surprises – family secrets, a handsome man who is trying to buy out her family business and magical coffee beans.

This story is warm and fuzzy packed with amazingly bold women who will do just about anything to protect what is theirs. It’s full of fun and a little surprises. What makes it even more endearing is the small town relationships and sense of community portrayed throughout. It’s just the perfect amount of subtle witchy goodness with a sprinkle of clean wholesome romance – it kind of makes me want to pack my bags and move! Who knows I might even end up meeting the love of my life.

The story was pretty fast paced and I was able to get through it within a couple of hours but I will also put that down to it being an ebook so It just made a little quicker to read. If you love coffee, romance and magic I would most definitely recommend this book to you! It’s a perfect book to cosy up with and enjoy a hot beverage. I’m going to score Witchy Coffee 4/5 I love how sweet (yep sweet is the perfect word to describe it) this story is. I think for me I wish there was little more magic and just a tad bit more romance but overall I still enjoyed this read. You can pick up your own copy of this book from the 24th August!

She’s a killer – extract

If there was one thing Cecilia hated more than life itself, it was a liar. She hated liars, all different kinds of liars. Twisting truths, hurting others to feed their own egos just the thought, disgusted Cecilia to her core.

28th October 2017 was a night that she’d never forget. The cold autumn breeze rushing through her long curly hair, leaves scattered on the pavements. This was her favourite time of year. The only time when being spooky was universally okay. There was just something about carving pumpkins and drinking her latte with an extra dash of cinnamon, eating hot apple pies with a scoop of ice cream while watching the days slowly get shorter. This was the time of year Cecilia believed all things were possible.

Magical. That day was magical. They say love finds you when you least expect it, it surprises you. Cecilia can confirm that is very true. It was a chance encounter two blocks away from her favourite coffee shop. He wasn’t paying too much attention to his surroundings while he seemed to be having an argument on his phone. She was too occupied by the music playing through her headphones, eyes closed bobbing her head to the rhythm without a care in the world. In a fraction of a second, these two strangers collide.

Collided in a way that now their fates were intertwined. It was reckless yet so perfect, so rushed but still so slow. They were missing pieces to each other’s souls. Jamie was the answer to all of Cecilia’s prayers, he was perfection. He bought her flowers and showered her in gifts. He made time for her, he took her out and sometimes they just stayed in. He knew all her secrets she had let him in. He would make her laugh so hard that her jaw hurt from smiling. He was her rock when the waters were rough, her light in darkness he kept her warm through it all.

632 days of perfection. On day 633 Cecilia made her way to his house she was going to surprise him, no need to call ahead. A bag full of groceries for their date night meal she walked up the steps. She unlocked the door and headed straight to the kitchen. She was excited and knew that Jamie won’t be home for another hour. She sets everything down and starts to prep the vegetables and meat. 45 minutes later she is all done; he’ll be back soon so now it’s time to freshen up.

She heads to the stairs and stops to see something unusual, a trail of clothing just laying on the floor. Confused and startled she grabs a knife from the kitchen. Cecilia doesn’t take risks when it comes to her life or the lives of her loved one. She slowly makes her way up the stairs and paces herself at the landing. She scans the area to distinguish any anomalies. The door, Jamie’s door is ajar while the rest are wide open. She takes a few deep breaths in to calm her heart she tiptoes to his room.

Red, a burning fire filled with rage, full of compulsion. She lost all control, she was blinded that through all the commotion the begging, the cries not once did she stop. Blood so much blood, the sheets were filled with blood. Jamie and his lover lay there still covered in sin, motionless, horror painted all over their faces. She walked back to the kitchen and washed the knife clean. She sat down at the table and poured herself some food. Cecilia looked over to the empty plate by her side and laughed to herself. He would be enjoying this delicious dinner too if he hadn’t lied.

That one night (male pov)

Watching clouds until the sky is littered in stars, her hand in mine fingers interlocked, our hearts beating in sync. I knew we were thinking the same – wishing that this summer could last forever. That when the sunrises we wouldn’t have to say goodbye.

Erisah Adams was a breath of fresh air that you didn’t know you needed. Chaotic in all the right ways everything that I am not. Her spirit so free and intoxicating, she could reel you in with just one look. She is magical. How could one not be enamoured by her beauty?

I turned to face her, drinking in every ounce of her perfection. Her hand caressing mine as she speaks about her love of the night sky. How this is exactly where she would want to spend her forever. With me, watching stars on the sandy shores. Our bodies close but not close enough. I think…no I know this is love.

Six weeks that is all it took for her to somehow weasel her way into my heart and now I wasn’t sure I could let go. How was I supposed to go back to normal when all I craved was her. How was I supposed to function when my mind was only on her. Even in her presence, I needed to know her more. To memorise the way her eyes light up when she talks and boy can she talk so passionately just about anything it’s like she cares a little too much, she feels a little too much. How she laughs at the silliest of things, the sound warms my heart. I need to feel her touch so it is engraved into my skin. Her lips on mine so soft, so sweet her taste lingers in my mouth. She is my favourite flavour.

I knew I was in for an adventure when I packed my bag that’s exactly what I had hoped for but a whirlwind romance never could I have imagined, not even in my wildest dreams.

2am thoughts

Nights like these are reckless. Nights like these are not for the faint-hearted. They are tainted in the blood of your demons. The silence is eerie and the darkness is consuming. Your heart rate is racing, faster, faster, faster. You’re no longer tossing and turning trying to find comfort in your bed. The place where you lay to find peace, to find solace, your safe haven. Anywhere, you’d rather be anywhere but there.

You jolt out of bed scrambling in the darkness to find your phone. The very thing you that you spend each waking moment with, clutching to it as though it is your lifeline. The very thing you lock away after 11 pm so that you actually close your eyes instead of mindlessly scrolling torturing your fickle soul into the wee hours of the night.

Finally, you look down at the screen to see it’s 2 am. Only 2 am on a Sunday night. You walk towards your wardrobe and pull out the first pair of joggers you can find, grab a jacket and put on some shoes. You most likely look like you dressed yourself in the dark but that is exactly what you’ve done.

Slowly you tiptoe down your stairs carefully making sure the old wood doesn’t creak loud enough to wake the others. The softer your step funnily enough the louder the creak. You see the door and you’re out. Out in the fresh air, out in the open. The dimly lit street so quiet, so serene almost suddenly you feel at peace and you know exactly where you need to be.

Running, you’re running as fast as your legs can carry. The cold air grazing your skin. The cooling sensation making you feel more alive than you have in a very long time. You stop for a moment to catch your breath, you close your eyes – inhale… exhale… inhale… exhale… A few more steps that’s all it will take and you’re finally there.

Your home away from home, shining under the moonlight.

“Can you see me?”

You know that feeling, that delirious feeling of being in and out of consciousness. Watching as the world passes you by yet you’re frozen in a state of denial. A blur, a tangent feeling, circles, running; your mind buzzing. That is how I function most days.

I have places to be, people to meet. I pick up the pace and start to walk faster, faster my feet move a little faster

*ring ring*

I quickly check my phone. It’s Matteo again. I contemplate whether I should answer. I’m only a few moments away.

“Hello, I’m just around the corner. I won’t be long”

Nothing. I hear nothing.

“Hello!”

I can’t even hear him breathing.

“Matteo! If this is some kind of joke I’m going to kill you”

Still nothing.

“Fine, have it your way I can see you now anyway I’ll be there in a second.”

I run up to the boy with bright brown eyes, he’s smiling in the way your whole body reacts to joy. Nose crinkled, eyes barely open, dimple kinda smile – he keeps me sane, my Matteo. I’m going to marry him one day. I’ll be the perfect wife, have a few kids, fall in love with how imperfectly perfect we are for each other. This is the man I want till my dying breath.

Arms open I go to embrace my love. I feel his body next to mine – I feel at home so close to his chest hearing his heartbeat it’s my favourite sound. But why isn’t he holding me, why aren’t his arms around my waist pulling me closer, why is he standing still? I look up at my love. He isn’t smiling anymore. His brows furrowed in confusion.

“Baby, what’s wrong?” I’m starting to worry now too.

He doesn’t answer me, it’s like he doesn’t’ see me like I’m not there at all.

“Matteo, baby why aren’t you answering me? Did I do something wrong?”

He’s staring right at me, worry written all over his face. His eyes darkening, his lips pursing the way he does when he’s mad. I move back a little and he pulls out his phone.

He’s dialling a number, his eyes wondering. Why is he acting like this, so strange and out of character?

My phone starts to ring.

*ring ring*

Before I can say anything. He walks right through me.