Book Reviews

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


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

Book Reviews

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi – Book Review

Related image

I didn’t believe it was possible to hide a woman’s beauty. I thought women were gorgeous no matter what they wore, and I didn’t think they owed anyone an explanation for their sartorial choices. Different women felt comfortable in different outfits. They were all beautiful.

I had a feeling this book would be special. The premise alone had me intrigued. I know this story is very personal to Tahereh Mafi, and I understand why. This is the story of Shirin, a young Muslim girl in high school in 2002. Being a Muslim in 2019 can be difficult, but a year after 9/11? That girl’s life could not have been harder. I loved Shirin from the start. My girl was fierce and badass and she could handle herself. I also liked her brother, Navid. He was such a good big brother. Protective, but not overdoing it. I loved his group of friends and how they were all sort of big brothers to Shirin as well.

When Shirin met Ocean, I knew there would be trouble. They had an attraction that I didn’t really understand, but I knew existed because Shirin would not stop thinking about Ocean. I’m not sure what it says about me, but I never rooted for the two of them. That’s not to say that I thought the romance wasn’t good, but I was never truly invested in it. However, I quickly realized that since this was a Tahereh Mafi novel, the romance would lead the entire story. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But part of me wanted to focus on the more present issues.

I wanted to know more about Shirin and Navid’s breakdancing club. The scenes were so few, and I didn’t really learn much about the subject. Also, I wanted desperately to know more about Shirin and Navid’s parents. In the one scene they appeared, I ate up their wonderful interactions with Ocean. I wanted more. So much more from them. But for some reason, Shirin described them as completely careless and indifferent towards her. I didn’t understand why this was, but there was no explanation given. I think this was a failed opportunity to learn more about Persian culture and get a deeper insight into this family that I cared about so much.

Regardless, I think this book is important. Muslim stories are so scarce, but so needed. We need more OwnVoices novels. I hope to read more books like this one!

3,5 stars

Book Reviews

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren – Book Review

Image result for josh and hazel's guide to not dating

“I learned a very important thing that day: my mom would never try to change for a man, and I wouldn’t, either.”

Hazel is an eccentric woman who has no filter, and usually gets into pretty interesting and messy situations. Hazel was a lot of fun. I learned to love her right away, and I was always rooting for her happiness. Years after college, Hazel runs into Josh, a guy she used to like but knew would never date. They quickly strike up a quirky friendship and set each other up on terrible dates. It’s pretty obvious where this is going, but I didn’t find it predictable. It was a really enjoyable read.

I loved Hazel’s relationship with her mom. She was such a cool person, and it was clear how much she had influenced Hazel’s confidence. I loved Hazel’s relationship with Emily and David as well. There was so much love in this book. I liked how Emily and Josh jokingly fought to be Hazel’s best friend. It was adorable, especially because of how much Hazel enjoyed it. I thought Josh was great, too. He was so sweet, and I wanted nothing but good things for him.

The romance was nice, but it didn’t sweep me off my feet. There were never any moments where I felt giddy or thrilled. I was just content throughout the whole thing. The book was great, but it wasn’t anything special. I love Christina Lauren’s writing style. These women are incredibly talented, and they work well together. I still hold Autoboyography to sort of a gold standard. However, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating was really lovely. Pick it up if you’re into friends to lovers romances!

3,5 stars

Book Reviews

Landline by Rainbow Rowell – Book Review

Image result for landline rainbow rowell

“Nobody’s lives just fit together. Fitting together is something you work at. It’s something you make happen – because you love each other.”

This was the only Rainbow Rowell book I had left to read, so far. I’m hoping she writes a lot more in the future. I’ve loved Rainbow Rowell for many years. Her books are charming, even when I don’t completely love them. This was one of those books where I wasn’t blown away, but I also enjoyed my time with it.

Landline follows Georgie McCool as she tries to balance her career as a TV writer and her married life with Neal. Due to her sudden workload during Christmastime, Georgie has to stay in California while Neal takes their children to Omaha. During the course of the book, Georgie reminisces on the days when she’d gotten to know Neal. This all happens when she discovers that the landline phone at her mother’s house is a direct line to the twenty-something version of her husband, before they were married. Somehow, Georgie gets to talk to him in the past.

I was really into the premise of the story. The characters felt solid and so real. I understood the message as well. Sometimes marriages are really hard. People drift apart even when they love each other. People in love can have unhappy marriages. And it took this bit of magic for Georgie to realize just how much she loved her husband, and how she wanted to drop everything to be with him. The flashbacks to the earlier years between them were nice, though this is where my problems with the story begin.

I knew I was supposed to be rooting for Neal, obviously. He’s Georgie’s husband, and he’s the only love interest in the book. I get that, I do. However, Seth was the most amazing character to me. Maybe it was the way he was described, but the man sounded incredible. First of all, he was a TV writer, he was very loyal, focused, trustworthy, hard-working, and he loved Georgie a lot. Yeah, I understood that he was just her friend, but between him and Neal, I would have chosen Seth. Also, the way the story set it up, it sounded like Georgie’s first choice had been Seth, but she’d settled for Neal. Maybe I misread that, but I could see why it would be that way. Seth was the whole package. And Seth didn’t growl.

One of my many problems with the book was Neal. I couldn’t find the charm in Neal–at all. He was very bland and dull. I usually love awkward artsy characters, but Neal bored me. So much. And his growls? Why the hell did he growl so much? It was so unnecessary. He scared me sometimes. Sue me, but if I’m having a normal conversation with someone and they growl at me? I will never want to talk to them again. I mean, was he secretly a dog? Ridiculous. Anyway, since I didn’t love Neal, I didn’t love the romance.

I thought that Georgie blamed herself for everything, when she really shouldn’t have. Prioritizing her career wasn’t a bad thing. Working during the holidays on her dream TV show wasn’t a bad thing. Neal threw a fuss about it, made her feel like she was doing something so wrong. Maybe I’m a selfish person, but being a TV writer is my dream job. I was so upset when Georgie slacked off on her show because she couldn’t stop thinking about Neal. I loved Seth even more for trying to talk some sense into her, but she treated Seth like crap.

I realize this is starting to sound like a rant rather than a review, but I have a lot of thoughts about this book. It’s a good thing. I love books that make me rant. Despite all of my issues, I really liked the book. It was worth reading. I loved the magic of it all. I loved that there was a phone that could connect you to the past. That was a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to more Rainbow Rowell books!

3 stars

Book Reviews

Seeking Perfect by Jeri Bronson – Book Review

Image result for seeking perfect jeri bronson

This book deals with a lot of heavy issues, but it has the perfect balance of fluff to make up for it. Seeking Perfect is a romance novel following Jesse, a girl on her senior year of high school. Her home life is a daily struggle, with a drunk, neglectful mother who steals all her money, and her mom’s awful boyfriends tagging along. Jesse is set on going to college and leaving her life behind, and she wants nothing to get in the way, but then she meets Derek.

I went into this book expecting a lot of terrible scenes with Jesse’s mom, but I was surprised by the amount of great people Jesse had in her life. Jesse worked at a bookstore, whose owner, Charlotte, was like a mom to her. She got to have a home away from home, and it made her life a little easier. Not only did she have Charlotte, but also Russ, Charlotte’s husband, and Jeremy, Charlotte’s son. These were all wonderfully sweet characters who offered Jesse nothing but love and support, and I was so grateful for them.

Derek was also really nice. I had a few issues with him wanting to “fix” Jesse. I didn’t like the way he kept saying that. He said the same thing about his ex-girlfriend, Missy. He was always upset about not being able to “fix” Missy, making her a better person. I don’t think it’s ever a guy’s job to fix a girl. I also didn’t like the way Missy’s character was very stereotypical and mean. I understand she was the villain of the story, but a villain should be complex. Those were my main issues.

The romance was sweet. I thought the bond between Jesse and Derek was believable, if a bit too rushed. I was happy with the way things wrapped up, and the epilogue was great. I should mention trigger warnings for attempted rape and violence. Those were big things that suddenly happened and had me kind of queasy.

If you’re into contemporary romance with warm characters, you should definitely check this one out.

3,5 stars

Book Reviews

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – Book Review


“I have a theory. Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them.”

This was a pleasure to read. Although I don’t read a lot of romance, I was immediately intrigued by the premise of this book. This sounded like the perfect, lighthearted enemies-to-lovers cliche story ever, and I needed to read it. I’m so happy I did.

The Hating Game follows two characters who hate each other, Lucy and Josh. They’re also both assistants to the two CEO’s of a publisher. They basically run the business. What I found most endearing about them was their little games they played every day to tease each other. They found so many ways to argue with each other, but their underlying tension was obvious. See what I mean about cliches? I love them.

I was instantly hooked by Lucy. As a narrator, she was a bit unreliable when it came to Josh, but I really loved her. She was sweet and kind, and I couldn’t help but agree with everyone else who called her adorable. I also almost instantly loved Josh. He was so grumpy and feisty, always ready with a sassy comment, but that made him interesting. Most of all, I loved how obsessed these two were with each other.

As far as the romance goes, I thought it was well paced. At times, I struggled with the repetitiveness of it, but overall, I was satisfied with how everything played out. There was some drama, but it never got to be too much. I always appreciate minimal drama in romance.

There were so many great moments that made me smile or laugh. I can tell that this will be one of those books that when I see it at a bookstore, I’ll smile with the memories it left me. I would love to re-read it someday. And I’ll definitely be reading anything else Sally Thorne writes.

4 stars

Book Reviews

Let it Snow: A Review

This book is three different short stories by three different authors, but all the stories are interconnected. The side characters in one story are main characters in another and so on. All of the writing styles are kind of similar to each other as well, so the whole book flows together nicely.

The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson: This was a nice story to start out with. It set the stage for the book as a whole rather well. Jubilee isn’t my favorite character ever, but she isn’t that disliked much either. All the other people in it are great though.

A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle by John Green: This would have to be my least favorite of the stories. Most of the characters annoyed me a lot. The plot annoyed me. The romance annoyed me. I wasn’t into it.

The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle: If I have to choose a favorite, it would have to be this one. Probably just because it is the last one, and gets to wrap everything up neatly and that usually is my favorite part of books. It did talk about miracles and angels too much for my liking, but it made up for it with a pig.

Overall, this book gets four out of five stars. It’s a good Christmas book that I probably won’t ever reread, but would recommend it if someone asked for a nice Christmas book.