Red, White and Royal Blue

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Author: Casey McQuiston 

Published: May 14, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

ISBN: 1250316774/9781250316776

Synopsis from Goodreads:

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramablefriendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through?

Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.

Maybe there’s more than one dream for you, or more than one way to get there.

June

My Review:

This book was absolutely hilarious. The puns, the analogies and the wit had me laughing out loud the whole time. I kept see this book everywhere on social media alongside raving reviews. I’m happy I finally decided to read it. I also liked the historical background of the story, as well as all the letters from previous gay men and women in history that were provided. I enjoyed the idea that this type of political change could ever be possible in the United States as well as England. Mostly, I would love to live to see the day when there is a sitting female President of the United States.

I kind of fell in love with Prince Henry. I believe this was inevitable because his character is so likeable, and Alex’s descriptions of Henry were so full of affection…eventually. At first, they’re mortal enemies, and this enemies to lovers trope is also one of my favorites. I liked Alex as well, although his personality was a bit too much at times, which I think he was also aware of which helped a bit. I could also have done with a bit less angst, pining, and introspective musings from both of them. I did love all of Alex’s Harry Potter references, he took “The Prisoner of Azkaban” with him on one of the flights and I was in love with him too then 🙂

Not only did I love Henry and Alex’s relationship, I also really enjoyed how they interacted with June, Nora, Pez, and Bea. My favorite minor character was June, I liked how down to earth and supportive she was. Another minor negative for me was I thought the ending was a bit dragged out and I could’ve done without a lot of that. This book had me wishing we actually lived in a world where political changes like this could be possible, it had me thinking maybe they are within our reach. Love is love. 

A bit of a warning, the sex scenes were not SUPER explicit but there were some details mentioned as well as a lot of language used. It’s not as much detail as I’ve encountered in other books, but it’s there, so be warned. I apologize for how many times I wrote the word “love” in this review I just really really enjoyed this book. If you’re looking for a feel-good Contemporary Romance, I highly recommend this one.

The Institute

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

My bookstagram

Author: Stephen King

Publication date: September 10, 2019

Publisher: Scribner

ISBN: 1982110562

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”

In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.

As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of It, The Institute is Stephen King’s gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.

My Review:

No one writes like Stephen King. The characters in this book all had great character arches, even the minor ones. King can weave a whole backstory, and establish a unique personality for each one of his characters with only a few carefully worded sentences. Each character had a purpose and they were all somehow interconnected.

Luke was a great kid, he reminded me a lot of my own kid, so bright and kind and full of life. My favorite side characters were Kalisha and Nicky, but I did love all the kids. I felt for them. Now that I’m a mother of two I find that this happens to me more and more with stories involving children and I have been avoiding them, but I will endure anything for a good Stephen King story.

This story had me in the literal edge of my seat. It got my foot tapping, my breath catching, and my heart racing, like only a good thriller can. My only negative was that I felt like all this action and suspense was building up to something monumental, but the actual ending felt a bit anticlimactic. But to me it’s about the journey, not the ending, and the journey was amazing. I recommend this book to all Stephen King fans, old and new, and anyone that wants to read a good thriller/suspense.

The Bride Test

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

the bride test by helen hoang
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Author: Helen Hoang

Series: The Kiss Quotient, #2

Publication Date: May 7, 2019

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

My Review:

I was a little cautious about reading this book. I enjoyed the first one (The Kiss Quotient) so much and I didn’t want to ruin that feeling. I shouldn’t have worried, this book was just as enjoyable as the first one, and it could even be read as a stand-alone book. Hoang’s highly descriptive writing is phenomenal. Her stories are full of humor and had me laughing by myself at times. Her analogies and metaphors are hilarious and very unique. Thankfully, this was another buddy read so I was able to talk about the funny parts with my friend and I didn’t feel like a complete maniac.

The characters in this story had such big hearts (even if Khai did think his was “made of stone”). Hoang provided great insight into the mind of a high functioning autistic man, and she is able to switch back and forth from his character to the eccentricities of Esme, his immigrant “fiancée.” I really liked Esme, she was such a strong hard-working female character, and a great role model. I also liked that some of the characters from the previous book made appearances, especially Quan. I’m very much looking forward to Hoang’s next book which features his story.

If you need a funny and lighthearted read, then look no further! I highly recommend these books to all Contemporary Romance fans. Only negative for me was that the ending felt a little rushed, almost like she crammed a lot of important things at the end. Also, be warned once again about very explicit sex scenes. For those interested, her next book comes out May 5, 2010. I can’t wait!

City of Ghosts Mini Review

⭐️⭐️/5

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Series: Cassidy Blake, #1

Author: Victoria Schwab

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspecters, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspecters head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.

Likes:

I appreciated the fact that Cassidy’s parents were both alive, together, and had a good relationship with each other as well as Cassidy. I don’t see many healthy parent-child relationships in the YA/Fantasy genre -either one of the parents has passed away, or they’re estranged, etc. I really liked Jacob, Cassidy’s ghost best friend, I honestly thought he had a lot more personality than Cassidy herself. The descriptions of the scenery in Scotland were also nice and made me want to visit in the future.

Dislikes:

Maybe I’m just not a ghost story person? I went through this same disappointment when I read The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I had trouble getting into this story and found it very bland. I understood some of the parts were supposed to be scary, but I couldn’t get into it. I kept reading the book expecting it to get better, but it never did. When I was done I was not the least bit interested in reading the next book in the series at all, and I probably never will.

Conclusion:

If you love ghost stories you might enjoy this book, I know many people on Goodreads who loved it. I enjoyed Victoria Schwab’s other books, and I think her writing style is phenomenal. This book just wasn’t for me.

The Kiss Quotient

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

the kiss quotient by Helen Hoang
Picture from Goodreads

Author: Helen Hoang

Publication Date: 06/05/2018

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

I like you better than calculus, and math is the only thing that unites the universe.”

Stella

I completely devoured this book. I started reading it in the afternoon one day and unfortunately had to stop to get a few hours of sleep, and then I finished it in the morning. I fell in love with all the characters in this book, even the minor ones, especially Ngoai (Michael’s grandma). The plot was fast paced, and there was no fluff to fill gaps between time. For example, if their next date was on Friday the story skipped right to Friday without making us wait and filling the gap with useless pining. I love when stories are straight to the point.

People called it a disorder, but it didn’t feel like one. To her, it was simply the way she was.”

Stella

I became highly invested in these characters’ lives and wellbeing. I wanted them, or better yet NEEDED them to be happy. I appreciated the progress both the main characters, Stella and Michael, made throughout the story. They went through a lot of healthy personal and emotional growth, and learned to appreciate themselves and accept who they are. This was exactly the kind of feel good story I needed to balance out my dark TBR for this month. I highly recommend this light hearted read to all romance fans, and readers who need a little pick me up. Also, fair warning that the sex is very explicit and not shy on the details.

Have you read this book? Are you planning on reading book two? I know I definitely AM!

Godsgrave Mini Review

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Picture from Goodreads

Godsgrave is the second book in Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight series. This series continues to impress me and surprise me at every turn. It has lovable characters that I cheered for even though I knew he was probably going to kill a few of them off, I had the first book as precedent and I really tried not to get attached. Needless to say, I failed miserably. I fell in love with ALL the characters, including many of the side characters, Maggot and Belle to name a few.

That’s the power of words: twenty six letters can paint a whole universe.”

Wavewaker

The plot was gripping, and full of twists and turns. I admit it was a bit slow in the beginning as the narration switched back and forth between the past and the present, but once again Kristoff made the switch seamless. The story involved a series of master plans which only the narrator knew about, and we as the readers got to find out as a they developed. I love those kinds of plots, and once the action picked up I could not stop reading.

Never listen to fear…fear is a coward.”

Belle

I would highly recommend this series to all Fantasy lovers. I was very glad I had pre-ordered the last book in the series “Darkdawn” and that it arrived just a few days after I was done with Godsgrave, otherwise I would’ve been highly disappointed by that cliffhanger ending. Once again, a warning that this story contains very gory descriptive writing with explicit sex scenes.

When you take a person from the world…you take everything they were, too.”

Maggot