REVIEW: Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston

41150487._SY475_Title: Red, White & Royal Blue
Author: Casey McQuiston
Rating: ★★★½

The first slide says: SEXUAL EXPERIMENTATION WITH FOREIGN MONARCHS: A GRAY AREA. Alex wonders if it’s too late to swan dive off the roof.”

What is this book about? Red, White & Royal Blue is a warm, amusing story about self-discovery and an enemies-to-friends-to-lovers romance between Alex, the First Son of the United States, and Henry, the Prince of England.

What did I like? Who could help but love these characters? Alex and Henry were such soft, tender-hearted men and I felt giddy the entire time as their relationship and feelings unfolded between them. I also really enjoyed how funny the book is. It’s no secret I’m a big fan of rom-coms, and some of the one-liners in this book were absolute gold. 

“How dare Henry come into Alex’s house looking like the goddamn James Bond offspring that he is, drink red wine with the prime minister, and act like he didn’t slip Alex the tongue and ghost him for a month.”

What didn’t I like? For whatever reason, this book seemed to really drag. I think it’s because at some parts of the book, the plot seemed to stall out which left me inpatient for it to get on with already. I also found some of the political aspects of the story to be unrealistic and overly-romanticised for the sake of the novel, which is fine-it’s fiction, but bothered me enough that I don’t think I enjoyed the overall story as fully because of it.

Overall thoughts: Red, White & Royal Blue is a heart-warming, romantic story about two young men coming to grips with who they are and who they want to be. As always, I absolutely loved the hate-to-love aspect of the story and Alex and Henry are such wonderful characters it’s hard not to root for them throughout the book.

Monthly Wrap-Up: December 2019

Hello! It’s the last monthly wrap-up of the year, can you believe it?! I’ve been off from school and work for the past two weeks and it has been so wonderful to have a break and some time for myself. Since I didn’t have any new releases from this year left to read, I got to catch up on a lot of ARCs that had been piling up.


43979540STARSIGHT: After finishing Skyward at the end of last year, I knew the sequel was going to be one of my most anticipated releases for this year. And while I really enjoyed Starsight and thought it was a fantastic sequel – plenty of action, great new characters, lots of continued world-building – I really missed the characters from the first book that I had loved so much and I spent a lot of the book wishing they would reappear.  ★★★★

41721210DIAMOND CITY: This is a case where the book started out really strong but slowly lost steam as the story went on. One thing I thought was great was the world-building–a world caught between industrialization and religion. The struggles between the two sides felt very believable and added depth to the story. I also really loved the main character, Aina, and the intriguing relationship she had with the Blood King.  ARC received through #booksfortrade on Twitter.  [review]  ★★★½

46378697A MURDEROUS RELATIONS: This series is usually so much fun to read. For what I assumed was the last book in the series it was extremely underwhelming. There was hardly any action or plot and I was very bored the entire time. And the thing that irritated me the most was that after all the angst and sexual tension built up between Veronica and Stoker, the moment when they finally got together was bland and completely unsatisfying.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley. ★★★

42248816SCAVENGE THE STARS:  This story is a gender-bent retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo, which is not something I had every read before. A quick google search of the synopsis helped me appreciate the cleverness of this book much better. I really enjoyed reading this book and I’m really looking forward to the sequel and seeing what happens next for Amaya and Cayo.  ARC received through #booksfortrade on Twitter.  ★★★½

42595554FOUL IS FAIR: The book is a loose retelling of Macbeth that revolves around a group of teenage girls enacting revenge on a group of prep boys after one of the girls was assaulted at a party. The first major issue I had with the book was the writing. To put it plainly: I couldn’t stand it. The scenes were very abrupt and the way the dialogue was written felt so stilted and unnatural. My other problem with the book was that a lot of the things that happened felt very far-fetched and unbelievable.  ARC provided by the publisher.  ★★

book coverBEYOND THE SHADOWED EARTH: This is a companion novel to Beneath the Haunting Sea rather than a sequel. The story is about Eda, who makes a small appearance in the first book as the antagonist. Honestly, the thing I enjoyed the most about this book was Eda. She’s not written to be a very likeable character–she manipulated, lied, and murdered her way to be Empress. This is a redemption story for her and I really enjoyed reading about her growth as a character.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [review]  ★★★

48341787._SY475_TO HAVE AND TO HOAX:  I’m so thankful the publisher reached out to be about reviewing this book. This was the best of two genres: rom-com meets historical romance. After an argument led to a falling out between them and cold detachment between the couple for the past four years, James and Violet begin a series of hoaxes and manipulation in the attempt to up-stage one another while insisting there are no feelings left between them.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [review]  ★★★★★

25614492SALT TO THE SEA: This is actually my third time picking this up. I had DNF’d this two times previously before getting even a quarter of the way through. Ruta Sepetys did an excellent job of grabbing my attention throughout the novel and telling some very compelling stories with the characters. I found myself loving Florian, Joana, and Emilia and was intrigued (although very disturbed) by Albert. The author once again has told a marvelous story about a period of history that is often unremarked upon.  [review]  ★★★★½

42867745._SY475_HUSBAND MATERIAL: Unfortunately, I had to call it quits shortly after the halfway mark. I skimmed quite a few parts from the remainder of the book, so I fairly good idea of what happens and I’m sorry to say that had I finished it, my final opinion would have been just as bad. The first issue I had was the overly descriptive writing. My second issue is that the “love interest” – if you could even call him that – was terrible.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [reviewDNF @ 58%

43822778TWICE IN A BLUE MOON: I usually love Christina Lauren books, but this one was not my favorite.  Half the book is told in the past, and half is told present day which didn’t really work here. Because of that, the present day part of the felt very rushed. I think that had the story been told totally in present day with flashback chapters between, it would have worked much better. That being said, the writing was as wonderful as always and the love story was very touching.  ★★★½

42281865ASHLORDS: The premise is unlike any other I’ve read. The story is about three characters from three very different backgrounds as they enter an annual competitive race featuring phoenix horses. The concept of phoenix horses and using alchemy to rebirth different breeds of the horses was so well-developed and extremely interesting. Once I got into the meat of the novel, it was hard to pull my attention from its pages.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [review]  ★★★½


OTHER

WWW Wednesday #24 | Top Ten Tuesday: Books with a Wintry Setting | The ABC Book Challenge – T | Young Adult Fantasy Standalones of 2019

Monthly Wrap-Up: November 2019

Hello everyone! So I as I was writing this post, I realized I totally forgot to write my monthly wrap-up for October. Whoops! I haven’t been as active with writing posts or reviews the past few months because of school which is kind of a bummer. It’s hard watching your blog really grow and make huge strides for the first half of the year and then watching those numbers dwindle away simply because you don’t have enough time for reading and blogging 😔. I’m hoping to catch up on a lot of reading over winter break. I’ll have two weeks off from school and work and I plan to spend most of it relaxing!


42292077._SX318_THESE DIVIDED SHORES: I was one of the few people who enjoyed These Rebel Waves, so I was really looking forward to the sequel. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to thrill me as much as I had been hoping. The plot and characters continued to be well written, but there was just some compelling aspect missing that was present when I was reading These Rebel Waves. But overall it was still a great sequel and conclusion to the series.  ★★★

44046860THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB: I loved this book so much! When I first read the synopsis, I knew I had to read this book as soon as it was released. The entire concept of the plot was amazing: in order to fix his marriage, the protagonist enlists the help of his buddies and historical romance novels. Um, YES. From the steamy romance to the adorable twin girls, this was such a cute, heartwarming story and I can’t wait for more from this author.  ★★★★

42771754SUPERNOVA: There was no better finish to this amazing trilogy. A lot happened throughout the pages and the action never stopped! There were definitely a few clever twists placed and the book went in a few directions that I had not been expecting. Also, THAT EPILOGUE. Like, how is no one else talking about that HUGE reveal?! I really hope it means a spin-off or a novella is in the works! This was such a fun, exciting series and I loved reading every minute of it.  ★★★★

43220998._SY475_THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE: This is a beautiful story about a period of history that I was wholly unfamiliar with prior to reading this. This is my first book by Ruta Sepetys and I can see where all of her high praise comes from. Set in Spain 1957 following the end of the Spanish Civil War, this was not something I had learned about before and so it was very eye-opening. It blew me away with it’s gorgeous writing, compelling characters, and thought-provoking story.  [review]  ★★★★

26032912._SY475_QUEEN OF NOTHING: The wait for this book was agonizing, but it was totally worth it! It was so great to be back in Faerie with Jude and Cardan and all of the other characters I’ve enjoyed reading about. However, there were a couple of things that left me a tad disappointed. First of all, this book felt really short? Not just page-wise (which was much shorter in length) but also plot-wise it felt kind of rushed. I also missed the angst and tension between Jude and Cardan. Obviously, we needed to get to the love part of a hate-to-love relationship, but it just felt really quick and I would have appreciated a bit more build with the feelings.  ★★★★

40148425._SY475_WINTERWOOD: Shea Ernshaw really excels at writing deliciously atmospheric stories. She does a great job of tying in mystery with magic, and writing it with such beautiful words and descriptions. Because of how The Wicked Deep ended, I spent a majority of the book trying to solve the mystery surrounding Oliver, and I was pleased that I was correct! However, the little plot twist involving Nora and her nightshade took me totally by surprise and I thought it was very well done. The ending to this book was much more satisfying than The Wicked Deep, and therefore I enjoyed the story better!  ★★★

43263331THE BEAST OF BESWICK:  This was a fun story by a new-to-me author! I actually won this book from Bookish First and after I read the excerpt and became totally intrigued by the story! The plot is basically Tessa Dare’s The Duchess Deal meets The Taming of the Shrew. I found Astrid to be a remarkable heroine whose POV I enjoyed reading and I really loved the interactions between her and Thane! I was not disappointed in the slightest by the romance and I will be reading more from this author in the future!  ★★★★ 


OTHER

The ABC Book Challenge – S | WWW Wednesday #23 | Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Fanart, Part II | #ARCstravaganza: Diamond City | The ABC Book Challenge – R | WWW Wednesday #22 | #ARCstravangza: The Nameless Queen | The ABC Book Challenge – Q

Monthly Wrap-Up: September 2019

Hello fellow book lovers! September was a hard reading/blogging month for me. I have been feeling very overwhelmed with the amount of work I have to do for my classes and so unfortunately I just didn’t feel up to reading or writing blog posts 😦 And then I felt guilty and anxious because I felt like I should be. Hopefully October will be a better month and I will get out of this reading rut!


INTO_THE_CROOKED_PLACE6INTO THE CROOKED PLACE: I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves Six of Crows or Ace of Shades! This book has a lot of similar elements that made it enjoyable, and yet it also had a plot that was entirely unique. The story is told through the POV of four characters and while I loved all of the characters, I think it could have lost a POV or two without losing the essence of the story.  ARC provided by the publisher.  ★★★½

44291755GRAVEMAIDENS: This was really not what I had been expecting. It was necessarily bad, it just didn’t impress me all to much, especially since I think I had really high expectations going into this from all the praise I had seen/heard over it. I tried really hard to like the protagonist, but she treated some of the other characters in the book really poorly and it made it hard to enjoy reading things from her perspective.  ARC received through #booksfortrade on Twitter.  ★★★

40972652THE WALLFLOWER WAGER: You know I’m in a reading rut when I rate a Tessa Dare book anything less than four stars. I was really looking forward to Penelope’s story, but there was just ~something~ missing from this one that usually makes me fall head over heels over Dare’s books. I think there was just not as much of a build-up of tension that I usually look forward to in these books.  ★★★½


36199084._SY475_THE KISS QUOTIENT:
I really wish I had read this so much sooner. This is a book that I had been constantly hearing about, yet it kept getting putting off reading. Let me just say that this book was worth every bit of hype it has gotten. I loved that this is an #ownvoices novel featuring a high-functioning autistic woman and diverse characters. Stella was a fantastic protagonist and I resonated so much with her! It was very easy to root for her and her happy ending.  [review]  ★★★★★

37539001CAPTURING THE DEVIL: Audrey Rose and Thomas have such a special place in my heart and this was a fantastic end to a wonderful series! First of all, this book had so much damn angst and romantic tension throughout the pages it’s like Kerri Maniscalco wrote it specifically for me. I absolutely adore this series and I can’t wait for whatever the author has next up her sleeve!  ★★★★


36321739THE NEVER-TILTING WORLD:
Don’t feel fooled by this rating. I almost DNF’d this literally like five times. It took me almost T E N days to finish this. I was planning to only rate this 2 stars, but I have to give the book credit: things really picked up during the last quarter of the story. I wish the whole book could have been as exciting as that last bit. I went from not wanting to finish this book to looking forward to what will happen in the sequel.  ARC received through #booksfortrade on Twitter.  ★★★

43189874._SY475_WELL MET: This book so so much fun to read. I absolutely cruised through it. This is a contemporary romance that was perfect way to end the summer. From the hate-to-love romance to the RenFaire shenanigans, there was really nothing to dislike about this story. I wasn’t aware that this was the author’s debut novel because it’s so well written and constructed.  ★★★★


42613944._SY475_THE MEMORY THIEF:
This is another book that was taking me forever to get through, except I was so bored that I had to stop. When I dread the thought of reading a book, that’s usually a pretty good sign that I should just quit while I’m ahead. The story itself is okay, although there are so many memory flashbacks that it was becoming extremely annoying and I started to skip over them to get on with the story.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  DNF @ 51%

44131124._SY475_THE PRENUP: This was a cute story! This was a new to me author and I had only happened upon this title from another blogger’s post about new contemporary romances this summer, but I’m glad I did because I enjoyed this! Fake marriage is one of my favorite tropes and I loved how it was handled in this book. My only complaint? Not enough (or any) steamy scenes  🔥 #sorrynotsorry. There was soo much build up in the tension between them and no resolution for us a reader!  ★★★½

OTHER

Contemporary Romances That Had Me Swooning This Summer | The ABC Book Challenge – O

REVIEW: The Candle and the Flame – Nafiza Azad

39821312Title: The Candle and the Flame
Author: Nafiza Azad
Rating: ★★★★

I try not to be too predictable, but if a book’s synopsis features the word djinn there is a 100% chance I will be reading it. I went into The Candle and the Flame without knowing too much about the plot, but I thoroughly enjoyed this immersive, beautiful story.

The Candle and the Flame is a slow-paced novel. Books without a whole lot of action are really hit or miss with me, and while I struggled at first with the pacing, the story really hits its stride by the middle. The third person omniscient narration was an adjustment as well, and although I would have preferred first person, I think the third person was excellently done and fit the tone of the book perfectly.

The writing was absolutely gorgeous. I loved how diversely rich in culture and history the book was; the author’s descriptions paint a vivid picture for the reader. There were a lot of words and terms that were unfamiliar to me, but a wonderful glossary is included in the back of the book (which I didn’t realized until I had finished). However, if you’re naturally inquisitive like me, it was simple enough to Google the words to learn more about them.

Nafiza Azad has mentioned that this is a book about women being women, and I couldn’t agree more. There were numerous female characters, each with distinct personalities and likes/dislikes, which made them unique in their own fantastic way. I really loved all the different characters, relationships, romances, and the political intrigue featured in the story. I honestly wish the book had been a bit longer because I would love to have seen what happens next!

The Candle and the Flame was an excellent, beautifully written debut. I had been waiting for its release for months and it was definitely worth the wait! I look forward to reading more from Nafiza Azad in the future.