Book Reviews

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – Book Review

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History, huh? Bet we could make some.

I just want to stay in this book forever.

I had the enormous pleasure of reading an early copy of this book through NetGalley, and I’m so grateful for that because from the moment I heard about this book, I knew I would love it. Sometimes, though, you hear about a book that sounds too good to be true, and it disappoints you because your expectations were way too high. In this case, I’m delighted to say that this book exceeded each and every one of my expectations.

Red, White & Royal Blue follows Alex, the First Son of the United States of America. In this wonderful fictional reality, the U.S. has a phenomenal woman as president, Madam Ellen Claremont. Alex Claremont-Diaz is her half-Mexican son who is one-third of the White House Trio, also made up of June and Nora (who are both exceptional women, owners of my heart). I completely adored the White House Trio, and the president, and the entire White House staff. Adored them. The fact that Alex and June were half-Mexican and very attached to their Mexican culture pulled my heartstrings. Being Mexican, I saw so much of myself reflected in them. I saw so many things of my culture that I had long ago forgotten, and was pleasantly reminded. I felt so connected to these characters for these, and many other reasons.

I’m already gushing and we haven’t even made it to Henry. Oh, boy. How should I sum up Henry? Henry is the Prince of Fucking England. Oops, sorry. I mean. His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales — no disrespect. Henry is the softest, most talented, most beautiful man I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Wow. Henry is a dream, but like a dream that you never want to wake up from. A dream that keeps on giving. Henry is all that is good in the world and then some. He also has the most amazing sister, Bea, who protects him fiercely. And the most glamorous best friend, Pez, who is honestly the best. So, yeah, I think we can all agree that this book stole my heart, entirely.

So now, the premise of this magnificent book, which is the hook that gets everyone. Alex and Henry are lifelong enemies, have always hated each other. But due to a small incident involving them ruining an expensive cake and jeopardizing the peace of their two nations, they’re forced to spend some quality time together. You know, just two guys that hate each other spending time. What could possibly happen next? Oh, wait, I know! It’s the best trope ever! Enemies to friends to lovers. And Casey McQuiston does it perfectly. Their relationship develops so naturally, and before you know it, you’re rooting for these two beautiful idiots to just kiss already because they’re obviously harboring very romantic feelings for each other!

You know, I usually love queer romances in books. That’s my favorite thing to read. I love the rep, and that’s what I’m here to read. But in this book, there was so much more. I came for the romance and stayed for all the other things. Among these things were all of the extraordinary side characters that were all fleshed-out and absolutely wonderful. Did I mention yet that they’re all super witty? Because they are. All of them. The banter they have is on another level.

The love between these characters is so heartwarming. All of them love and support each other. None of them are perfect. They’re all so flawed, but they love each other anyway. It’s great. So great.

And the politics. I gotta say, I’ve always been a bit of a history buff, so I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. I cried, simply imagining a world in which Ellen Claremont was the president of the U.S. and I’m not even a little bit sorry about that. That woman was badass and she could rule the world if she wanted to. Of course, she’s fictional so we kind of have to digress.

Whoa, I’m still so pumped after reading this book. It comes out in a month, but I can’t wait to get my own physical copy. I’m going to get as many people as I can to read this, because not only is it an amazing read that’ll lift your spirits, it’s also super inspirational and necessary. Also, the world must know Alexander Gabriel Claremont-Diaz because he is my child. That is all.

5 stars

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Book Reviews

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green – Book Review

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Even on this most terrible days, even when the worst of us are all we can think of, I am proud to be a human.

Well, this was super entertaining.

This book follows April May (still can’t get over her name being two months put together). She’s a twenty-three year old who becomes an overnight viral sensation upon her discovery video of Carl, a ten foot robot that shows up in New York. But there isn’t just one Carl. There are Carls all over the world. On top of these mysterious appearances, there are many other strange happenings in April’s life. All of it completely unbelievable, and yet totally captivating.

I’m not much of a sci-fi person, or a mystery person. But this book appealed to me. I’m not sure if it was because of the fleshed out characters, or because the prose was witty and had a humorous undertone at all times. I really enjoyed this. April was an excellent main character. I related to her impulsive, reckless tendencies. I understood her fear of intimacy. I was always rooting for her. And her quirky friends: Maya, Andy, Miranda, and Robin. These guys stole my heart from the beginning. I loved the way they worked together, all of them having April’s back. I even liked Carl, the fricken robot.

I loved the diversity, too. April was openly bisexual, and she never hid her attraction to others. I loved the way April saw her fame, and how she recognized the way it made her feel. It was so human. The concept of being human was challenged often, but in very interesting ways. There was a lot to philosophize, and puzzles to break, and pop songs to love. I especially loved the Queen shout out. Another reason to love this book, and Hank Green.

This book was incredible. I’ll be recommending it from now on. I can’t wait for the sequel!

4 stars

Book Reviews

It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura – Book Review

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And I remember that hiding the truth doesn’t stop things from being true. Not talking about things doesn’t stop them from happening. Pretending that a thing is something else doesn’t change its true nature.

This is a book of cheaters.

Sana is in high school when she’s forced to move to California. There, she meets Jamie, a beautiful girl she likes. Girl meets girl, and things are good for a while. I liked the diversity in this book. Sana is Japanese-American, and Jamie Mexican-American. They both have friends with the same backgrounds too. That was probably one of the few things I liked about the story.

I didn’t like Sana very much. At first, I could seriously relate to her. I’ve had many crushes on girls, unsure whether the girls even like girls in the first place. I loved everything about the first half of the book. But then, everyone started lying and cheating and it was a complete mess that I ended up kind of hating. There were also a lot of really harmful stereotypes expressed about Mexican-Americans that were really awful, and never really addressed.

I don’t have the energy to hate this book. It just makes me tired to think about it. This book had so much potential. I was sure it would be a new favorite. But it took all of the wrong turns.

2,5 stars

Book Reviews

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg – Book Review

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This summer. First time in my life I’ve been alive, really. I love it.

This book had me sold from the premise. It sounded like the perfect summery romance, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I listened to the audiobook, and the narration really brought the characters to life.

Max and Jordan are complete opposites. They don’t get along at first, even though Max jumps on board to help Jordan and his mom with their food truck business. Jordan and his mom are about to lose their house, and it all depends on whether Max and Jordan make enough profit from the food truck. It is a lot of responsibility for two teenage boys, but somehow, that’s how things play out.

I really liked the interactions between Max and Jordan. They made a really great team, and they always had each other’s backs. My favorite, by far, was Max. I loved that boy so much. He deserved all the good things in the world, but a really terrible thing happens to him, and that made me so upset. Jordan is also great, and I liked him a lot. Really bad things happen to him too. And then suddenly, it wasn’t a sweet summer romance anymore. It was a very upsetting story.

I understand that life isn’t all good times and sunshine, but things got so bad in this book that it just made it so hard for me to keep going with the story. I wanted to give up on it a few times, but the characters kept me going. I just hated so many of the scenes. It got to be too much for me.

I should warn that there are trigger warnings for rape, PTSD and abuse. Take these very seriously, guys. Stay safe!

3,5 stars

Book Reviews

Pet Sematary by Stephen King – Book Review

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Maybe she’ll learn something about what death really is, which is where the pain stops and the good memories begin. Not the end of life but the end of pain.

This book is so twisted.

I don’t know what it was, but while listening to the audiobook, this book made me feel ill. Granted, I have anxiety, so that might have been the reason why I had heart palpitations, headaches, bright red cheeks, and nausea while listening to this book. No book has ever made me feel this sick to my stomach. That should tell you how disturbing and upsetting it was. I’m actually convinced that this book somehow contains bad juju, or some curse that courses through your veins while you’re reading it. But I really can’t complain because it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.

I think it’s better to go into it not knowing much about it. Here’s what I’ll tell you: it’s set in Maine, it’s very much centered around death, grief, and loss, there are excellent characters that steal your heart, there are terrifying scenes that I will likely never forget, and it’s one of the most terrifying Stephen King books I’ve read to date.

Cats were the gangsters of the animal world, living outside the law and often dying there.

I have to say, I watched the movie a few years ago and figured I didn’t need to read the book. However, the new adaptation is coming out soon, so I decided to read the book before watching it. I thought I was prepared for what was coming because I knew to watch out for it, but I was wrong. I wasn’t prepared for anything. It was all shocking and gruesome and horrible. But I couldn’t put it down. I had to keep going.

Sometimes dead is better.

I’m not sure how I feel about death anymore. I’ve always feared it, but not for the reasons I fear it now.

4 stars

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang – Book Review

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I am not exaggerating when I say that this is the most beautiful book I have ever read.

This is a graphic novel set in the late 19th century France. It follows the lives of Prince Sebastian and a seamstress named Frances. The two of them strike up a friendship when Sebastian hires Frances to make him beautiful dresses that he wears when he becomes Lady Crystallia.

The story is fantastic. Sebastian and Frances come from two very different backgrounds, but they work so well together. They can be who they are with each other without any fear of judgement. And as their friendship grows, my love bloomed. I loved every single moment of this story, even the sad ones.

Sebastian stole my heart just as much as Lady Crystallia did. I was rooting for Frances every step of the way as well. I had the biggest smile of my face throughout the entirety of this. I laughed a few times, and I hugged my book at others.

The artwork was phenomenal. It was so bright and colorful and it accurately portrayed the giddiness I felt because of the story.

This story is described as a fairy tale, and I think that describes it perfectly. And I’ve never loved a fairy tale this much. This is a story I want to remember forever. A story I want to share with everyone. A story I didn’t know I needed this much, but now that I know it, I feel so grateful for it.

And that ending? Couldn’t have been better.

I realize I’m just gushing over how great this book is, but I don’t know how to talk about it in any other way. Just read it.

5 stars

Book Reviews

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson – Book Review

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Death is as normal as digestion. People move through life the way food moves through our bodies. Their natural usefulness is extracted along the way to help enrich the world, and when they have nothing left to give, they’re eliminated. Much like our bodies would clog up with excrement if we didn’t defecate, the world would do the same if we didn’t die.

Well, that was really good.

Shaun David Hutchinson is one of my favorite authors, but this book came as a surprise to me. I didn’t know about it until its release date. The premise had me hooked. I’m obsessed with all things death, including the living dead, or zombies as I like to call them. And sure, maybe this isn’t really a zombie book, but it was fun nonetheless.

Dino has just lost his ex-best friend before he had the chance to patch things up between them, and he’s in a relationship that feels a little one-sided. Then his ex-best friend, July, rises from the dead, and drama ensues. I had no trouble liking Dino. I loved his wit, compassion, and way of thinking. I liked his relationship with his sister who was about to be married. I also liked that his parents owned a funeral home. That’s awesome.

I was very sad to discover that July was so problematic. Of course, all of that was acknowledged and corrected, but it made me not like her…at all. This made it difficult for me to root for Dino and July to fix their friendship. The way I saw it, Dino was better off without her. I know July had some character growth, but I just didn’t feel much sympathy for her. Which is a lot to say about a dead person.

I absolutely adored Dino’s boyfriend, Rafi. A gorgeous trans boy with a cute accent, who gives back to his community, has a cool gaggle, and has so much love to give. I could never understand why Dino wasn’t completely head over heels for him. The root of the problem there was July, and that was yet another reason why I didn’t like her.

The story was great. I had a lot of fun reading it. But there were parts that had me annoyed, mostly at the constant bickering between Dino and July. They had the same arguments over and over, and it just got repetitive. I still enjoyed the adventures they had. The ending was satisfying. In the past, I’ve discovered that Shaun David Hutchinson’s books don’t have a concrete ending where things get solved and you’re left thinking over what happened. I’ve enjoyed those type of ending, but I’m glad this one was straight-forward. It fit the style of the book.

I really liked this book. It was perfectly gory. It’s not my favorite Shaun David Hutchinson book, but it was definitely worth the read. If you like books about death and friendship, give this one a try!

4 stars