Shifter Wars | Book Review

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: Shifter Wars ~ Werewold Dens #1

Author: Kelly St. Clare

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 420

Categories: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance, Fated Mates, Werewolves

When Mum died, I inherited a lot more than a pack of lies.

I landed a $410,000 debt.
Discovered her previous surname.
And her real place of birth.

Desperate to uncover the truth, I drive to a tiny dot on the map called Deception Valley.

Coincidental name? Nope.

There, I find her secret family—because she had one of those too.

How many lies are we at? Honestly, I’ve lost count, but local gossip captures my attention. Apparently, Mum’s other family play laser tag every Wednesday. Not even joking. Laser tag.

What the hell is this place?

In hindsight, the massive guy with honey irises was my first major clue. Unusual eyes for a human, right?
Perfect eyes for a werewolf.

But sexy supernaturals, thongs, and mounting financial strain aside, Mum’s past is buried somewhere in this valley, and I need to dig up the truth or find a way to live with her lies.

What do you do when neither option will leave you unscathed?

  • World Building ~ if you read Kelly St. Clare’s previous series Vampire Towers, just know this one is similar except with werewolves and Laser Tag. I read these series because it’s so unique to base the plot around a game. It’s creative and holds my interest. The story takes place in Deception Valley but this quaint town isn’t all that it seems. The “laser tag” game between humans and werewolves are action packed.
  • Characters ~ Andie is struggling with her mom’s death and debt, trying to finish college and just found out she has family in Deception Valley. She isn’t quite a badass yet, as she’s learning the ropes about laser tag and the war between the two sides. Alaric/Sascha is a Sigma – he gets what he wants and yes he wants Andie. Their connection is electric but Andie fights it as long as she can, but you can’t do much when you are fated. I liked the supporting cast also in the werewolf clan and the human one.
  • Romance ~ Andie and Sascha are inevitable, fated mates but sort of like Vampire Towers where they had levels to achieve mate status, it happens in Shifter Wars also. But the built-up tension between them is definitely there.
  • Writing ~ I enjoy this author’s writing because of the humor and the stories are fast paced. I read this in one night and am ready to read book two when it publishes. It’s total escapism.
  • Triggers: stalking, toxic relationship, grief
  • It’s got a cliffhanger ending – but book two comes out in December, yay!

Solid start to a new series and I just enjoy how the author keeps things creative with throwing a game into the story. It’s creative, unique and keeps things fresh! I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

💙 ~ Yolanda

Heart Bones | Book Review

My Rating: 4/5

Title: Heart Bones

Author: Colleen Hoover

Format: eBook (KU)

Pages: 338

Categories: contemporary, romance, new adult, poverty, drug abuse

Life and a dismal last name are the only two things Beyah Grim’s parents ever gave her. After carving her path all on her own, Beyah is well on her way to bigger and better things, thanks to no one but herself.

With only two short months separating her from the future she’s built and the past she desperately wants to leave behind, an unexpected death leaves Beyah with no place to go during the interim. Forced to reach out to her last resort, Beyah has to spend the remainder of her summer on a peninsula in Texas with a father she barely knows. Beyah’s plan is to keep her head down and let the summer slip by seamlessly, but her new neighbor Samson throws a wrench in that plan.

Samson and Beyah have nothing in common on the surface.

She comes from a life of poverty and neglect; he comes from a family of wealth and privilege. But one thing they do have in common is that they’re both drawn to sad things. Which means they’re drawn to each other. With an almost immediate connection too intense for them to continue denying, Beyah and Samson agree to stay in the shallow end of a summer fling. What Beyah doesn’t realize is that a rip current is coming, and it’s about to drag her heart out to sea.

My Attention: read in one night

World Building: Kentucky to Texas

Writing Style: easy to read, good character development, emotional

Crazy in Love: yes

Triggers: drug abuse, child neglect, broken family, death, overdose, poverty

  • Beyah goes from her mom over-dosing to living with a father she hardly knows. Beyah is a strong character for someone who has been broken and damaged all her life. Her story is heart-breaking. I just wanted good things for her.
  • Samson is mysterious and handsome. I liked how Beyah judges and we as the readers start doing it too because we only know what they know of him. He’s hiding a lot of secrets which come out in a shocking way.
  • It’s all about Beyah and Samson. Beyah finds all her guards giving way the more she spends time with Samson. They are both damaged and that’s why they are drawn to each other. From the moment they met it was intense between them.
  • The twist in the end was heartbreaking. But I’m glad Beyah did what she did.
  • Some tough topics are covered in this book: poverty, drug abuse, sexual assault – this book is about survival and the kids that fall through the cracks in society. What happens to them? How does someone like Beyah who had an addict mother, take another path in life – talk about strength and determination.
  • The way how Beyah didn’t tell her dad that her mom died, bugged me! Like…that would be the first thing I’d say, I think. But I understand her secrecy, she was trying to protect herself the only way she knew how. But seriously…the way she tells him – I guess I wanted more of a conversation on that between her and her dad.

Heart Bones is heartbreaking. We have Beyah and Samson who has been beaten by life at such a young age, they have both done everything to survive (good and bad). They find each other in all their damaged state and fall in love. I honestly still feel bad thinking about Samson after the story – but glad it had a happy ending.

💙 ~ Yolanda

A Curse of Ash and Embers | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: A Curse of Ash & Embers

Author: Jo Spurrier

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 272

Publication Date: 11/3/20

Publisher: Voyager

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Witches

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

A dead witch. A bitter curse. A battle of magic.

Some people knit socks by the fire at night. Gyssha Blackbone made monsters.

But the old witch is dead now, and somehow it’s Elodie’s job to clean up the mess.

When she was hired at Black Oak Cottage, Elodie had no idea she’d find herself working for a witch; and her acid-tongued new mistress, Aleida, was not expecting a housemaid to turn up on her doorstep.

Gyssha’s final curse left Aleida practically dead on her feet, and now, with huge monsters roaming the woods, a demonic tree lurking in the orchard and an angry warlock demanding repayment of a debt, Aleida needs Elodie’s help, whether she likes it or not.

And no matter what the old witch throws at her, to Elodie it’s still better than going back home.

Thank you to Voyager and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC!

My Attention: it couldn’t hold my attention

World Building: Black Oak Cottage, witches and a mystery to uncover

Writing Style: atmospheric

Bringing the Heat: none

Crazy in Love: nope – not crazy

Creativity: magic, witches and monsters

Mood: mixed feelings

Triggers: violence

My Takeaway: Elodie is a strong and brave young woman who can take care of herself.

  • I enjoyed the story of Aleida and Gyssha, the witches of Black Oak Cottage. When Elodie meets Aleida, Black Oak Cottage isn’t in good condition. We learn about Gyssha’s demise and then more about the witches’ history but Aleida is pretty fierce.
  • The female characters in this book are strong. Elodie is a great character because she is literally just turned out from her home. Her step-father wants her gone and unfortunately her mother agrees it’s time for her to go. She’s a young woman, away from family and home. Elodie is smart, and isn’t afraid to ask questions. I liked her inquiring mind as she met different people like the wizard.
  • The writing is wonderful and atmospheric. There is action and danger to keep things somewhat exciting.
  • Unfortunately, I found myself bored at times reading this story because it moves slowly like a mystery.
  • Would have liked a little more romance, but that’s a personal thing for me because I love romance in my stories.

This book may have not captured my full attention but many people who read young adult fantasy will enjoy this story very much. It has witches, action, danger and a girl named Elodie who finds a new home in the most unexpected place.

The Ravens | ARC Review

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: The Ravens

Authors: Kass Morgan & Danielle Paige

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: 11/3/20

Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers

Categories: Witchcraft, Magic, Young Adult, Sorority, Romance, Contemporary, Thriller

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Kappa Rho Nu isn’t your average sorority. Their parties are notorious. Their fundraisers are known for being Westerly College’s most elaborate affairs. But beneath the veil of Greek life and prestige, the sisters of Kappu Rho Nu share a secret: they’re a coven of witches. For Vivi Deveraux, being one of Kappa Rho Nu’s Ravens means getting a chance to redefine herself. For Scarlett Winters, a bonafide Raven and daughter of a legacy Raven, pledge this year means living up to her mother’s impossible expectations of becoming Kappa Rho Nu’s next president. Scarlett knows she’d be the perfect candidate — that is, if she didn’t have one human-sized skeleton in her closet…. When Vivi and Scarlett are paired as big and little for initiation, they find themselves sinking into the sinister world of blood oaths and betrayals.

Thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

My Attention: read in 2 days

World Building: Westerly College in Georgia

Writing Style: easy to read

Crazy in Love: some romance

Creativity: Sorority of witches

Triggers: violence, gore

My Takeaway: Don’t mess with a witch.

  • Love the diversity of these college witches, they come in all skin colors and races. The sisterhood between them shows even between Vivi and Scarlett who have a rough start with one another.
  • The story is fun and even creepy at times. Even though these witches don’t mess with black magic, there is a villain who does! The twist is something I guessed earlier in the story but I did like how it took to the next level creepy.
  • I enjoyed learning the history of Kappa Rho Nu. The witches being Tarot Card signs is different and it worked!
  • Scarlett is not as perfect as she seems! She has secrets and they catch up to her and her best friend Tiffany.
  • I like the ending when it gets super dark and creepy! Definitely gets me in the mood for Fall reading and Halloween. The story reminded me of The Craft (movie) and Sabrina (Netflix show).
  • Vivi was a little weak. She’s this girl dying get away from her tarot reading/fortune teller mother and a life of always moving around. I liked the reveal at the end explaining why her mom raised her that way but personality-wise, Vivi had strong magic and that’s it! I just wanted a little more from her.
  • The love triangle involved Scarlett, Vivi and Scarlett’s ex-Mason. It didn’t overtake the story, thank goodness.

This story made me want to rewatch the movie The Craft so bad! The Ravens is fun, creepy, witchy and we got sisters who have each other’s backs. It’s perfect for the Halloween Fall season.

🎃 ~ Yolanda

The Midnight Lie | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2

Title: The Midnight Lie

Author: Marie Rutkoski

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 358

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Gods, F/F Romance

Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.

Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.

But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.

My Attention: read in 2 days

World Building: interesting world or Ethin – there is a caste system, there is a wall that separates the wealthy and poor, but there is a mystery also…why is there no history about Ethin, Nirrim and Sid tries to find out.

Writing Style: beautiful, lyrical, delicious

Crazy in Love: slow burn 

Creativity: a place that doesn’t know it’s history? How is that possible – well the Gods are involved, that’s why

Triggers: violence, physical and emotional abuse, oppression

  • The writing is so delicious, I felt like I was eating this book up, word for word! It’s what kept me reading even though there are so many mysterious elements to this story – like the Elysium bird, Nirrim’s past, and Sid. The world of Ethin alone is mysterious.
  • The world-building was like peeling an onion layer by layer, very slowly. We are introduced to Ethin, a beautiful city but split into castes. There is the High Kith who live behind a wall in decadence, then the Middling and Half-Kith. The only thing about this is that we are limited to Ethin, though Sid is from beyond the sea…it made me want to learn more about the places around Ethin – but if Nirrim doesn’t know it’s history, then no one else does either – hence the limitation.
  • Nirrim is a complicated character. She is abused by her foster mom, Raven but she believes it’s love even when so many people tell her it isn’t. Also she has a male lover, not that she loves him – but she gives into him because she thinks it’s what she’s supposed to do. But when Sid comes along, everything about her life comes into question.
  • There is a running theme in this story, “It is as it is.” But when Sid asks Nirrim questions about Ethin, about it’s rules, or why there is no history, Nirrim starts becoming unsatisfied with the saying “It is as it is.” That’s when secrets about Nirrim’s life and Ethin are revealed.
  • Now the slow burn between Nirrim and Sid was so good because the flirtation, on Sid’s part was packing heat. From the moment they met, Sid in all her flirtatiousness, mystery and wild reputation was so enticing, how could Nirrim stay away?
  • A lot of the mystery gets revealed at the very end of the book – so finding out information was a bit frustrating because we get bits and pieces. Who is Sid and where is she from? Is she telling the truth? Who is Nirrim’s mother? What is Ethin’s secret? So many questions…some were answered, a few others I hope will be revealed in book two.
  • Raven, Nirrim’s foster mom abuses her and it’s awful when Nirrim believes it’s love. But is it realistic? Very. It’s the only “mom” she’s ever known, but wow – Raven was something else. Glad Nirrim stood up to her eventually.
  • I didn’t know this was somehow connected to the author’s previous work The Winner’s Trilogy which I read so long ago – I did not recognize any names at all if they were in The Midnight Lie haha. But I don’t think you need to read that trilogy to enjoy this book.

I devoured the lyrical writing of this story, though sometimes it was frustrating because I wanted more information about Nirrim, Sid and Ethin. I get it all by the end and then some! The story covers some hard topics like abusive relationships but Nirrim goes through quite a transformation from the start to the end of the book. I look forward to reading the next book in this series if just to enjoy the way this author puts sentences together.

💕 ~ Yolanda

The Song of the Marked (Shadows and Crowns, #1)| Book Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: The Song of the Marked (Shadows and Crowns, #1)

Author: S.M. Gaither

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 512

Categories: Fantasy, New Adult, Magic, Gods, Enemies to Lovers

A Devastating Sickness 

For decades, the Kethran Empire has been plagued by a strange illness that leaches the very life and soul from its victims.

The Girl Who Survived 

Casia is one of the Fade-Marked—one of the few people who caught this sickness and lived. Why she lived is a mystery even to her and the outcast crew of mercenaries she calls her family. It also makes her an intriguing target for the young, enigmatic king-emperor, who claims he wants to work alongside her to find a cure. 

Unfortunately, working alongside him also means working with the handsome but infuriating captain of one of the most prestigious branches of the Kethran Army.

A Soldier With No Past 

This infuriating Captain Elander also has secrets: A past that Cas can’t seem to uncover, a powerful but strange brand of magic, and a deep distrust of the very monarch that he’s sworn to serve. She feels oddly drawn to him in spite of these things…

But can she really trust him?

The Fate of an Empire 

As the bodies pile up and strange monsters begin to wreak havoc throughout the realms, Cas and Elander will have to work together to protect their world whether they trust one another or not. Because one thing is clear: Something ancient and evil is stirring in the shadows of Kethra.

And the empire will not survive its full unleashing. 

But how can they save a world where nothing and no one is what they seem to be— including Cas herself? 

My Attention: read in one day

World Building: epic – the Kethran Empire is ruled by a King-Emperor who wants to eradicate people with magic, and there is a Fading Sickness infecting the kingdom and they have to find out the source of the illness

Writing Style: flowed very well

Crazy in Love: enemies to lovers 

Creativity: I enjoyed this world of magic and Gods

Triggers: violence, thieving, anxiety

My Takeaway: Definite Sarah J. Maas vibes and I’m here for it!

  • Love the cover and usually I’m wary about KU Fantasy ebooks because I find them way too short, I mean yes I love that the next installment usually comes out in 3 months but THIS one, is a nice lengthy 500+ which surprised me. I was reading it without knowing the page count and was wondering why it was taking me so long to read (not long…but usually I can devour these short book series in a few hours and usually can binge the whole series in one night). So I am impressed with this one!
  • There is Throne of Glass vibes all over this book BUT there are enough difference to make it exciting. Cas reminds me of Celaena (badass heroine, etc…) but I like that Cas is different enough with her bouts of severe anxiety and needing to take care of her foster mom, Asra. Cas has a fun crew of magic wielders around her, all with different personalities.
  • The world building is addictive: there is a Fading Sickness in the empire, and Cas is one of the few who has survived it. Why? I love the process of finding out why and that plot twist in the end. Total cliffhanger!
  • Enemies to lovers, which is my fave – Elander is dark, blessed by a Death God, and their banter was fun. He was mysterious and she is reckless which makes them a hot combo. And yes there is a sex scene, they need more haha but…we shall see what happens between them!
  • This story was a fun ride, with villains, secrets, fights, danger, Gods – so much to digest but it’s an exciting start to the series.
  • There are a lot of things to discover yet, like Darkhand’s role in the beginning and then he disappeared. I’m sure the story will come back to that but he kind of was introduced and then forgotten.
  • Varen the king-emperor…oh boy, so what will happen now that the truth has been revealed?
  • And Elander…just give me more of him and Cas, and I’ll be happy!

This is the first book I’ve read from S.M. Gaither and I know it won’t be the last. I’ll have to binge her previous series! If you like stories like the Throne of Glass series, you will enjoy The Song of the Marked. I know I’m ready for book two to arrive but I have to wait until January! I was craving a fantasy with an enemies to lovers romance, lots of action and detailed world building and this totally hit the spot.

😍 ~ Yolanda

Daughters of Jubilation | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Daughters of Jubilation

Author: Kara Lee Corthron

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: 10/13/20

Publisher: Simon Shusters Books for Young Readers

Categories: Racism, Magic, Sexual Abuse, Romance, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Jim Crow South

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

In the Jim Crow South, white supremacy reigns and tensions are high. But Evalene Deschamps has other things to worry about. She has two little sisters to look after, an overworked single mother, and a longtime crush who is finally making a move.

On top of all that, Evvie’s magic abilities are growing stronger by the day. Her family calls it jubilation—a gift passed down from generations of black women since the time of slavery. And as Evvie’s talents waken, something dark comes loose and threatens to resurface…

And when the demons of Evvie’s past finally shake free, she must embrace her mighty lineage, and summon the power that lies within her.

Thank you to Simon Shusters Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

Let’s break it down:

My Attention: very intrigued

World Building: Jim Crow, South Carolina while Kennedy is President

Writing Style: it flowed well

Bringing the Heat:  🔥🔥

Crazy in Love: Clay and Evvie are definitely in love 

Creativity: I enjoyed learning the magic of Jubilation

Mood: bittersweet

Triggers: rape, sexual assault, physical abuse, violence, racism, n-word, stalking, murder

My Takeaway: Take back your power when someone steals it from you!

  • The book takes place in Jim Crow South Carolina so the writer gives it the distinct accents and sayings from that area.  You can feel change is in the air with JFK as president, but some are skeptical, and others are hopeful that change may or may not happen.  
  • I liked the concept of jubilation as being magic that black women have passed down in their families because it was magic for protection.  Jubilation was used to counter some of the horrors of slavery that black women experienced and like Clay’s grandmother says, she didn’t realize they would still need to use jubilation today.  
  • Evalene and Clay’s relationship isn’t insta-love though their sex scene seems quite instant.  She crushed on him for a long time and he finally notices her and things go fast.  But then as their relationship grows, they take time to date and so it slows down which is nice, because then we get to know both of them well.  They are obviously crazy about each other.
  • Indigo, Evvie’s mom, gives her the talk about using protection without shying away from the topic.  Go mom!
  • Evalene is an interesting character – she’s at times impulsive and because she’s so new with her power, sometimes can’t control it.  But she learns how to do it with help from her eccentric grandmother and she needs it to help battle a demon from her past. 
  • I don’t mind cursing in books but if you don’t like cursing, then this book might not be for you because it has a lot of it.
  • Evalene has a dark past and it is traumatic.  The ending is very sad and bittersweet.

Daughter of Jubilation is a story about battling demons from the past. Jubilation is a gift of magic, born in a time of slavery to help black women deal with the horrors happening in their lives. Now Evalene has inherited this magic to face a stalker that hurt her a long time ago but she can’t do it alone. Evvie uses her jubilation to try and protect the people she loves and to break free from the past.

💕 ~ Yolanda

Incendiary | Book Review

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2

Title: Incendiary (Hollow Crown, #1)

Author: Zoraida Cordova

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 384

Categories: Magic, Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.

Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.

Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace.

When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez’s top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.

But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything.

My Attention: read in 3 days

World Building: epic world building inspired by Spanish Inquisition era

Writing Style: flowed nicely, story slowed down a bit in the middle

Crazy in Love: so in love 

Creativity: Moira people have magic, Whispers are the Moira rebels fighting the king of Puerto Leones

Triggers: grief, violence, death, torture

My Takeaway: Who can you really trust?

  • That cover is pretty amazing!
  • I liked learning about the world of the Moira, people with different magic. Renata is a Robari, she can take memories and even do it to the extent to kill or “hollow” out a person. Other magics include persuasion, illusions and reading minds. The Moira have been pushed out of their homes and they are being hunted by the King of Puerto Leones. Now the king has a weapon that would ensure the destruction of the Moira for good.
  • Renata is a Robari so a lot of what her character does is taking memories and examining them. But her past is a mystery to her – she remembers some things, but not everything. This is a weakness for her. She’s a fighter, she’s tough and brave, but because she can’t fully face the memories of her past, there are things she misses and it causes her to make some mistakes. I thought it was fascinating to watch her deal with feeling like an outcast with both the rebels and being in the palace.
  • There are some twists and turns in this story that was like putting together a puzzle. But I could only really piece them together through Ren taking memories. It definitely drew an unexpected picture of evil Prince Castian!
  • This story is dark – I mean the Spanish Inquisition, with all that torture? 😒
  • The story starts off fast, with action but it dies off somewhere in the middle. Then picks up again to finish strong. I think what was missing for me was Prince Caspian making a real appearance throughout the book. He is there at the beginning and the end, the middle felt like a mystery and slow…I just wished he was there throughout the whole thing, just to give Ren someone to battle.
  • The beginning starts off with no world building, you get thrown into the story with a lot of action – so I did have to get my bearings.
  • So that cliffhanger ending…what the heck is going to happen in book two?!

This story grew on me. I found the world building interesting, even though the rebels with magic versus the king who hated magic trope is pretty similar to many young adult fantasy books out there. I think the Spanish Inquisition inspiration makes it stand out. Renata with her missing memories and taking memories is a fascinating character, and so is Prince Castian who we still don’t really know much about! And yes, I will be reading book two because that ending was pretty crazy.

💕 ~ Yolanda

Red, White & Royal Blue | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Red, White & Royal Blue

Author: Casey McQuiston

Format: eBook (KU)

Pages: 421

Categories: M/M Romance, American Politics, LGBTQIA+, Family, Royalty, Adult, Contemporary

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

My Attention: read in 3 days

World Building: the political First Family world of the USA and the Royal family of England

Writing Style: dialogue was great, moved fast

Crazy in Love: so crazy, the first son and a royal prince 

Creativity: Love how we get a fictitious peek at the American political life, on the verge of a re-election campaign, and what being a royal in England would be like if one was a gay prince

Triggers: homophobia, anxiety, depression, grief

My Takeaway: Love is love and sometimes you have to fight for the one you love.

  • This is an enemies to lovers queer romance that had a lot of spark to it. I can’t say they are true enemies since the hate was one sided and misunderstood. I loved the dialogue between Alex and Henry, there were some pretty funny scenes. Alex is the loud, confident one and Henry is the quiet, mysterious guy. There is a lot of love making, a lot of it were booty calls at first but things change between them with romantic emails and confessions.
  • I love Nora and June who rounds out the White House Trio with Alex. They are young, ambitious, smart, and a force to be reckoned with! Alex’s parents are divorced but they work together to help each other out the best they can, so they have a modern family. Alex and June are also half white and half Mexican which adds to the diversity of this story.
  • Alex is on a road to self-discovery in this story. Henry is gay and always knew he was. Alex has been with girls, but has fooled around with guys too and just never thought he was bi, until Henry. I liked that we got into Alex’s thought process when he felt confused about his past and actions.
  • There are some mental health issues touched on in this story as well. Henry’s dad passed when he was a child, and he has his moments of depression, a wall that at times Alex can’t understand or get through. But he wants to know and understand. Alex on the other hand keeps moving, jumping from project to project so he doesn’t have to stay still and deal with life issues like his parents divorce.
  • I went into this thinking it was a young adult book, but with how many times they have sexy scenes, I’d say it’s more like a new adult/adult book. It didn’t get super detailed though, but you know what happens. Thing is Alex and Henry are apart most of the time, because they live in different countries, so the romance grew mostly through texts, phone calls, emails and the occasional hook-ups.
  • Alex was the main character…but he wasn’t my favorite. Like I said, he’s a firecracker or a tornado, he was busy and overwhelming. I related more to Henry who was quieter haha. I guess that’s why they work, opposites attract. But Henry has a great scene where he finally explodes and it was quite emotional.
  • Since Alex is the First Son and his mom is the first female President of the USA, and from Texas – I thought the take on White House life was fascinating and optimistic. In current reality? I’d say it’s volatile haha, but yes there is American politics in this book.

Overall, I had fun reading this one, and I think it’s the first true M/M romance I’ve read. I’ve read books in the fantasy genre where there are M/M relationships. Red, White & Royal Blue is an enjoyable queer romance that has fun dialogue, sexy scenes, a great cast of secondary characters, and a happily ever after.

💕 ~ Yolanda

You Should See Me in a Crown | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: You Should See Me in a Crown

Author: Leah Johnson

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 328

Categories: Contemporary, Young Adult, F/F Romance, Racism, Sickle Cell Disease, Friendship

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

My Attention: read in 3 days

World Building: Campbell County, Indiana – where prom is the event of the year

Writing Style: easy to read, flowed beautifully

Crazy in Love: cautious in love 

Creativity: a prom giving away prize money? I can see the appeal of running for prom court!

Triggers: racism, outing, mention of death, illness, homophobia

My Takeaway: “I was born royalty. All I had to do was pick up my crown.” ~ Leah Johnson

  • Liz Lighty, is smart, talented and queer. Only her friends and family know but now she’s running for prom court because there is a money prize she needs to attend the college of her dreams. So everything about her now is in the spotlight at school – who she talks to, who she hangs with and who she likes.
  • The f/f romance was so cute and Amanda’s promposal was a winner! These two don’t have it easy dating each other but it’s obviously easier for Amanda because she’s a new girl, quirky and white. Liz is black, in Indiana and queer. She has it harder on all levels but they try to make it work and mostly do with some challenges.
  • For me the friendship stories really stood out in this book. Liz has a different crew of friends, each with their own quirks and talents – but Gabi is her best friend. Gabi is also all in with helping Liz win prom court, but it gets too be a bit overwhelming for their friendship. And an old friend, Jordan, reunites with Liz because they are both running for prom court – but they have a troubled past and relearn to be friends again.
  • The message of taking the crown for your own is empowering. Liz stays classy while fighting for her right to run for prom Queen despite her race and who she loves. I absolutely loved that moment when her friends help her come up with her motto! It was so inspirational.
  • I can see this one as a movie or tv show.

This story is an inspirational story about a black girl, Liz, who is trying to be prom queen and win a crash prize in a small conservative town while being queer. What starts off as a story about winning money to attend her dream college ends with a girl who takes the crown by being unapologetically herself. YES. “Eff your fairy tale.” 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

💕 ~ Yolanda