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

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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!

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!

Nevernight Review

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
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Author: Jay Kristoff

Publication Date: August 9, 2016

Series: The Nevernight Chronicle #1

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 429 pages

Audiobook narrator: Holter Graham

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

Review:

I cannot believe it took me this long to start reading this series. The final book is actually coming out September 3, so now I’m left scrambling to finish the second one, but I’m glad I finally did. Nevernight was a mix of two of my favorite series: Harry Potter and Throne of Glass. It includes an enchanted library, scary monsters, ghosts, cats, dark magic, and assassins to name a few similarities. Just be warned that Kristoff does not hold back on the gory details or the sexual ones, so this should be for mature audiences only.

Beauty you’re born with, but brains you earn.”

Mia’s mom

The characters were well developed. One of my favorite things about this story was that Kristoff gives enough back story on all of them to justify their motives. There are some lovable characters, and some you love to hate. I always get attached to the animals in all the books, and my favorite was Mr. Kindly the cat. Mia was a likeable, strong, female character, and even though she had power, she was not obnoxious and full of herself (unlike Cealena from Throne of Glass). Mia actually reminded me a lot of Harry Potter, albeit a snarkier much much darker female version.

The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, those pages leave their marks on us.”

Chronicler

The pacing of the story was well done, it was action packed enough to keep me glued to the pages, but also it explained all the new lingo, words, and terms used in this new world. The story would switch seamlessly from the past to the present by using italics to differentiate the time frames. Kristoff also included little side stories in order to explain certain terms or remarks that were used, some of these small stories were hilarious and entertaining. The plot was fast paced with some twists and unexpected turns thrown in.

My only issue was with the audiobook version of this book. The narrator was a male, and the main character was a female which made it very awkward to listen to. He was a great narrator, but it’s always really weird for me to hear a male narrator doing a female’s voice, and with Mia being a main character he had to do it a LOT. I found that I enjoyed reading the digital book copy of this book much more, and I could add my own imagined voice for Mia instead.

Overall, this book was amazing! I would recommend this book to all mature Fantasy readers. I’m currently reading Godsgrave, the second book in this series, and I’m really enjoying it. Darkdawn, the third book, will be released next week.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Geekerella Mini Review

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

geekerella book by Ashley poston
Picture from Goodreads

She wears life like Elvis wore sequins, with no apology laced into the seams.”

Elle

Geekerella (Once Upon a Con, #1) by Ashley Poston was a fun and entertaining take on Cinderella. I personally love fairy tale retellings, and this modern take on it was no exception. Darien and Elle are two lonely teenagers trying to figure out who they really are in a world set on sticking a label on them. This story was fast paced, and once I started reading it was hard for me to stop. Sage was one of my favorite characters, she was strong and confident and lived life with no apologies. (the quote above was about her) I liked the character growth for both Darien and Elle. I especially liked that they were both eventually able to speak up and stand up for themselves.

I’m strapped to the pilot chair of my life, and my hands are tied.”

Darien

I took off one star from my rating for two reasons. First, the relationship between Elle and Sage felt forced at first. Suddenly this girl (Sage) that has never crossed two words with Elle wants to talk to her? AND she happens to have amazing sewing skills? Second, I don’t like it when girls fall in love with guys they barely know. Elle and Darien just shared a few texts and all of a sudden they were in love, but I guess it wouldn’t be a fairy tale if they weren’t. Overall, I loved this whole geeky world and how the author shines a light on the fact that just because you “cosplay” or dress up as one of your favorite characters, doesn’t mean pieces of your true self can’t shine through. Sometimes pretending to be someone else can help you figure out who you truly are.

Starlight, star bright, you can be anyone you want to be tonight.”

Elle’s Dad

I love Poston’s writing, and I will definitely be reading the next book in this series. Did you read the book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments 🙂

Reasons for Mini Hiatus

Some of you might have noticed I’ve been absent for a while. I took some time off from the blog to work on something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time. I’m happy to announce I finally opened my very own Etsy Shop! I’ve been designing my own bookmarks with some of my favorite bookish quotes from beloved series such as Harry Potter, ACOTAR, Throne of Glass, Shatter Me, and the Shadowhunter books. The hardest part for me was not the designing part, this part was actually a lot of fun and a great creative outlet. The printing, cutting, and laminating part was so tedious, but I guarantee you each one of these was made with a ton of love. Go check out my new shop!

A court of thorns and roses books and bookmark etsy listing picture
Deesreadingtree Etsy Shop

The second reason for my prolonged absence is the fact that my first born just started pre-school. This was so nerve wracking for me, but not for him, he was super excited and had been counting down the days until the start of school. He walked into class on the first day with his new haircut and a back pack that looked huge on his small frame. He then immediately headed over to play with some toys, and soon he forgot that mom and dad were even there. My husband and I stared at each other and then we shrugged, we tentatively waved goodbye (he blew a kiss back), and we slowly… begrudgingly walked out of the room. We both kept glancing back at the little piece of our hearts we were leaving behind.

But that is what I’ve come to realize parenthood is all about, you bring these little people into the world, you fall in love with them, and then you have to let them go. You have to let them spread their wings out in this cruel world, all the while hoping you’ve prepared them enough. This is however impossible to do, they have to make their own mistakes, you can only hope you’ve given them the emotional support and stability they will need in order to work through life’s struggles on their own.

fireheart thorne of glass by sarah j maas picture
My Etsy Shop

Well there you have it. I’m sorry I’ve been gone for so long. I’m currently attempting to catch up on my posts and all my reading. I HAVE done some reading while I’ve been gone. I read the rest of the Illuminae files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, reviews coming soon! I’m currently re-reading the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, because I desperately needed something good but lighthearted to read while going through all this turmoil. I will also write a post on that series soon! Thank you guys for being so patient.

Aristotle and Dante Review

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Aristotle and dante discover the secrets of the universe by Benjamin alire saenz
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I didn’t understand how you could live in a mean world and not have any of that meanness rub off on you.”

Ari

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz was an amazing read. I started reading this book one afternoon and was surprised to find myself finishing it up at 1:30 AM that same night. I was unable to put it down, and when I absolutely had to in order to do things like cook, eat, and take care of my two children, I switched to the audio book and had it plugged into one ear all day. I became so invested in these kids’ lives, which is my main problem when I read Contemporary Fiction. I keep having to remind myself that these are fictional characters, something I never have to do when I read Fantasy or Sci-Fi. But mainly this was just exceptional writing which kept me engaged and almost hypnotized.

One of the secrets of the universe was that our instincts were sometimes stronger than our minds.”

Ari

The first thing I realized while reading this book, was that Ari was just like me. I really wanted to know what would happen to this dark and heavily guarded boy. On the other hand, Dante was a lot like my husband, right down to his aversion to wearing shoes. Needless to say these characters were well developed and relatable. I could also relate to Ari’s family in many ways, one of the few differences being mine are Cuban and his were Mexican.

But I had learned to hide what I felt. No, that’s not true. There was no learning involved. I had been born knowing how to hide what I felt.”

Ari

The story follows these two boys through their last two years of High School, and two unforgettable Summers. The depiction of High School was so real, it really took me back to the days with no smart phones and limited phone access. Summer is also my favorite season, and I enjoyed their mundane way of spending it. Just two boys going swimming at the local community center, reading, and playing made up games. Those were the simple days, but also the complicated ones because it is the age when we attempt to figure out who we are. I recommend this book to anyone wishing to figure out the secrets of the universe along with these two amazing characters.

Mini Reviews

the girl the sea gave back by Adrienne young
Picture from Goodreads

The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

⭐️⭐️/5

I really enjoyed Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young, and I wanted to like this sequel, unfortunately that was not the case. This story takes place ten years after the events of Sky in the Deep. I thought Halvard was a great side character before, but he fell short as a main character in this book. Both him and Tova just had really bland personalities. Frankly, I found Tova to be a pushover with a lot of power in her hands.

The plot was slow going and I did not see any real action until I was halfway through the book. The back and forth between two years ago, ten years ago, and the present became really bothersome. I felt like just some explanation about what happened those years ago would have been sufficient, we did not need to be going back and forth in time every single time something about the past needed to be explained. Overall, I believe my expectations going into this book were set really high and maybe I’m being a bit harsh, but I would not recommend this one.

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Picture from Goodreads

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

I have said before that I will read whatever Bardugo writes forever and ever, and I will say it again. Her characters are always so unique, she can write scary scenes like no other, and the dialogue is amazing. Only bad thing, and this was totally my fault for not researching it first, but I didn’t know this book would ruin the rest of the Shadow and Bones series for me. Just a warning there are a lot of spoilers in this book for Shadow and Bones and for Crooked Saints. I bought this audio book on sale on the Audible app, and did not realize my mistake.

I loved Nikolai’s humor and how full of himself he is. He’s like the male version of Aelin from Throne of Glass. I also fell in love with Zoya, and I found it hilarious how terrified everyone is of her. I really missed Nina, from the Six of Crows series, and we also get a lot of her here. The plot is fast paced and there is constant action. The dialogue is full of humor, and I liked the playful banter between the members of Nokolai’s court. This book was really enjoyable and I cannot wait for the next one. I would totally recommend it if you have read all the other grishaverse books.

Illuminae Review

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Illuminae book by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
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Authors: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Publication Date: October 20, 2015

I would rather be numb than stand here in the light of a sun that can never chase the chill away.”

aidan

I have so many thoughts on this book that I’m struggling to put them all into coherent sentences. First, let’s start with the formatting. I struggled with it at first, but once I got used to it it read like any other book. I actually thought this book was an amazing work of art. It is comprised of emails, messages, descriptions of camera footage, audio recordings, pictures, and many other types of files.

You’re a speck of animated carbon and water with about seven centimeters of ballistics-grade ceramic between you and absolutely nothing. Ninety three billion light years of *ing nothing. No up. No down. No sky. No ground. Just endless dark shot through with tiny spears of sunlight older than you and your entire species stacked end to end. You want to feel small? Spend sixty seconds in a Cyclone’s cockpit…look out at nothing and feel it looking back. Then you know exactly how much you add up to.”

Ezra

The story is mostly set in space, which was described really well in my opinion (see quote above). Other than describing the inside and outside of the ships in perfect poetic detail, there was not much more world building to be done. We also get some maps of the ships as a reference. The main characters were adequately described, but I could have done with a bit more detail. The dialogue was where this book excelled, which is a very good thing since it was mostly dialogue. Conversations were full of humor and sarcasm in the midst of chaos, and they read like an action packed movie. I could almost hear the characters catching their breath as they talked, whispering, and shouting or screaming. It was very well done.

Miracles are statistical improbabilities. And fate is an illusion humanity uses to comfort itself in the dark. There are no absolutes in life, save death.”

aiden

The romance aspect of the book was great, and it did not take over the whole plot. I loved Kady and Ezra and I was rooting for them the whole time. They fought like a real couple, they compromised over their differences, and overall their relationship was very realistic. Emotions were described in such great detail that everything they could feel I also could. Their fear gave me chills, and their grief was so real it almost made me cry at times, but I don’t cry easily.

Part of being alive is having life change us. The people around us, the events we live through, all of them shape us.”

kady

I went into this book not really knowing what to expect and having no idea about what the plot really entailed, and I think that was the way to go. Many of the events caught me by surprise, and it was very refreshing to read something so different from the other stories I usually read. This book has definitely made me want more SCI-FI in my life, and I will be reading the second and third installments as soon as I can. I would recommend this series to everyone. Read it! I really don’t know why I waited so long.

The universe owes you nothing…it has already given you everything. After all. It was here long before you, and it will go on long after you. The only way it will remember you is if you do something worthy of remembrance.”

aidan