Monday, May 20, 2019

Review: Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins

Her Royal Highness
Rachel Hawkins
Release: May 7, 2019
Goodreads Amazon
Millie Quint is devastated when she discovers that her sort-of-best friend/sort-of-girlfriend has been kissing someone else. And because Millie cannot stand the thought of confronting her ex every day, she decides to apply for scholarships to boarding schools . . . the farther from Houston the better.

Millie can't believe her luck when she's accepted into one of the world's most exclusive schools, located in the rolling highlands of Scotland. Everything about Scotland is different: the country is misty and green; the school is gorgeous, and the students think Americans are cute.

The only problem: Mille's roommate Flora is a total princess.

She's also an actual princess. Of Scotland.

At first, the girls can barely stand each other--Flora is both high-class and high-key--but before Millie knows it, she has another sort-of-best-friend/sort-of-girlfriend. Even though Princess Flora could be a new chapter in her love life, Millie knows the chances of happily ever afters are slim . . . after all, real life isn't a fairy tale . . . or is it?

The first Royals book, which was retitled Prince Charming when it became a series, was one of my favorite books of last year. It's a warm fuzzy read that stood out in a month where I read a lot of Royal Romances. So my expectations for Her Royal Highness were pretty high. And it just didn't quite live up to them.

I love the alt-history of the Scottish royals, which gets developed much more in this second book. And I love the supporting cast of students at Millie's boarding school, though it seems as though she only meets four people the whole time so there could have been more of them. I also enjoyed reconnecting with Daisy and Miles and Prince Sebastian from the previous book. But I never really felt invested in Millie and Flora. 

Part of that is that Royals/Prince Charming was so obviously inspired by Pretty Woman that I kept looking for the 80's movie reference. While there are some classic Rom Com moments like the dance lessons and the teaching a skill that requires one character wrapping their arms around the other, Her Royal Highness doesn't seem to be a Julia Roberts retelling (Maybe there's a little Notting Hill in there?) and I really wanted it to be.

I also felt like the book ended abruptly, though it's certainly a movie-worthy ending. Again, that may be partly due to my expectations since I don't read a lot of YA. It's not like I want a 17 year old to get married at the end of the book, but I want to be convinced they've gotten their HFN at least. Maybe Millie and Flora will return in a later book to help with that.

Still Her Royal Highness was quick, fluffy romance good for summer reading. Someone who goes in with fewer expectations that I had will likely enjoy it more than I did. If you've been craving a queer princess story, this might be the book for you.


My reviews of other books in this series:

Growing Pains Place
Read a Young Adult book

2019 Library Love Challenge
Library Love Challenge
Book 16/12

Friday, May 17, 2019

Weres Wanna Know: What Are Your Weird Bookish Habits?

I was recently having a conversation about bookish habits with members of my book club and it quickly became apparent that a lot of my personal ones are not very common. So it got me to thinking about some of my weirder bookish habits and I thought it would be a good topic to discuss. And what better way to do that than with a list.

Note on the comics used in this post: They are from the Reading Quirks webcomic and all credit goes to The Wild Detectives and Laura Pacheco. Each comic is hyperlinked to go to their respective Instagram pages.

1. I Go Reread My Favorite Scenes in Books On Bad Days
You all know that I'm a serial rereader. But I have this thing where when I'm having a really bad day I'll go reread my favorite scenes in my favorite books. Sometimes it results in me rereading most of the book but in the long run I'm okay with that. This is how I battle my bouts of depression and stress and some days I just need the comfort of a familiar world that is not our reality. If you ever get a look at my favorite books on my Kindle, you'll see a ton of bookmarks and highlights for each book for this exact purpose. I can go directly to the scenes I want to reread. I never realized this wasn't a common thing.
 2. I Ignore Everything While Reading
Okay. I really thought that this was totally normal bookworm behavior. I ignore everything while I'm reading. I don't hear my phone ring. I ignore eating and drinking. I'm completely oblivious to everything going on around me. Like I don't even realize when someone is trying to talk to me while I'm reading. It drives my family crazy because if they try to tell me something while I'm reading I'll never remember it. I really can't be the only one who does this, right?

3. I Can Immediately Reread a Book Upon Finishing It
I have a tendency to start rereading a book or series immediately after finishing. It's usually because I'm not ready to be done with these characters and these worlds so I can't move on. I will sit and reread a book over and over again and never get tired of it. Case in point: Hello. My name is Rose Red and I have read Red, White, and Royal Blue five times since the middle of April. I used to do this more when I was younger but I still tend to do it quite a bit. Especially this last year, I've found myself finishing reading a book to immediately go back and reread my favorite parts or immediately start a reread via audio. I know I'm not the only one who does this but I haven't heard of very many people who do though.
 4. I'll Put Series in Order at the Bookstore
I know I can't be the only one who does this but it bugs me to go into a bookstore and see series out of order on the shelves. My local Barnes & Noble is terrible about this but it's especially bad in their manga aisle. The manga series are hardly ever in the correct order even though most of them have numbers on their spines. There's just something about it that drives me crazy. Most of the employees at my local B&N are familiar enough with me and my habit to ask how much of the manga aisle I put to rights while I was there. Come on. Fess up. I'm not the only that does this, right?

5. There are Books Everywhere in My House
This is probably more common in the book blogging community than my book club, but I have piles and piles of books in the weirdest places in my house. I tend to keep most of my library on my bookshelves but I'll have a pile in the living room and on my nightstand. I've even kept piles in the bathroom and the kitchen in the past. What can I say? I just like having easy access to books. It's not unusual for me to roll over and knock a pile of books and manga off the other side of my bed.

6. I'll Own Multiple Copies of a Book Just to Lend Out
I'm a bit jaded but I don't want to send my signed books or my hardcovers home with friends just in case they don't ever give them back or they damage them in some way. So to circumvent that, I'll pick up used copies or the mass markets of my favorite books to lend out. I've even been know to go out and buy the paperbacks of my favorite books specifically for lending out purposes. I store the books to lend out in a box in my closet. I know it sounds weird and paranoid but I have lent out like 15 books in the last year from my lending library that I haven't gotten back. I just don't want to chance that happening with the nice versions of my books.

7. I Can't Put a Book Down Mid-Chapter
I know this is more common but I can't put a book down when I'm in the middle of a chapter. I have to finish it no matter how tired I am. It doesn't make sense but it's something I've always done.
8. I'll Buy Multiple Copies of a Book All at Once
So... let's talk about a kind of bad habit I've gotten into. I tend to buy multiple copies of books all at once. Let's take the latest Mercy Thompson book as an example. I bought the hardcover, the ebook, and the audiobook. Hell, I preordered all three of them. Obviously, the hardcover is for more Patricia Briggs collection. The ebook is to read and the audiobook is for rereads. I've gotten better about only buying ebooks until I've read them and know I want a physical copy for my collection. But with my favorite authors, I tend to buy at least the physical and ebook editions of their books.

What about you?
What are your weird bookish habits?
Do we have any in common?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

We Love Lists: Books I Want to Read This Summer

This week is an exciting week! The classes I'm teaching at the community college have wrapped up and I've gone from working three jobs down to one. So my summer vacation starts now! I'm going to have so much time on my hands!

My goal is to read as much as physically possible before classes start again in the fall. This summer I'm going to low key be doing my own #SummerofSciFi and reading as many sci-fi books as I can. And like every summer (all year actually), I'm going to try and read as many queer books as possible for Pride month. I have a huge list of books I want to get to but I'll only mention a few of the ones that are catching my attention right now.

The 5th Gender by G.L. Carriger
Gail Carriger wrote a sci-fi romance novel and I need it in my life! I'm so curious to see how it turned out! I know I can expect lots of laughs, an intriguing plot, and a few sexy times but other than that I have no clue what to expect. My plan is to read this as soon as it hits my kindle on Saturday.
The Salvagers Series by Alex White
A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe is my book club's pick for this month so I'll definitely will be reading it. I actually really have no idea what this is about. Several of my friends who have similar reading tastes to mine have loved both books and can't quit raving about them. I'm excited to read them. If I love the first book, I'll definitely be picking up the sequel soon after.

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
I know. I know! I can't believe I haven't read this one either. I need to read it this summer before her new novella releases in September. I know I will probably love this as soon as I let myself read it but I'm also hesitant because I'll be out of Becky Chambers books to read. I am glad I waited until summer because it wouldn't feel like summer if I didn't read a Becky book.

The Universe After Series by Drew Williams
The Stars Now Unclaimed was one of my favorite books of last year and I'm so excited to have the sequel in my hands! I do want to reread the first book before I dive into the second one though. Have I mentioned how much I love reading sci-fi books during the summer? I'm so excited to be doing #SummerofSciFi!

Running with Lions by Julian Winters
I recently read Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and it got me into the mood for all the queer contemporary romcom books I can get my hands on. I really meant to get to Running with Lions last summer but was defeated by the Great Reading Slump of 2018. I won't be stopped this year. I have this on my TBR list of things to read during this year's Pride month.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
 Amazon is putting out a tv series based on this book with David Tennant playing one of the main characters so, of course, I need to read the book. I've read a few of each author's solo work and I'm really excited to read a book they co-wrote together. Also, this book sounds so intriguing! But then again, what book about a misplaced antichrist wouldn't?

I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
This book is one of my most anticipated books of the year! It's a love story with non-binary main character written by a non-binary author. I think it's the first book of its kind to be published and I'm so excited that we're getting stories like this now! I love me a groundbreaking book. Plus, I've heard nothing but awesome things about it and can't wait to read it soon! Probably during Pride month.

Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse 
I'm kicking myself that I haven't gotten this book read yet. Trail of Lightning was another of my favorite books from last year and I'm dying to know what happens next after the end of the last book. I literally have no clue where this story will go and I'm loving it! I think this will be one of the books I read ASAP.

Reticence by Gail Carriger
I finally read Competence last month and boy howdy! I loved it! And it is making me impatient to get my hands on Percy's book. I just want to watch him fall in love and I want to know who that lucky person is. At the same time, I'm sad to be seeing this series end.

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
You all know how much I loved The Illuminae Files. So when Jay and Amie described their newest book as The Breakfast Club meets Guardians of the Galaxy, I knew I needed it. I had an ARC but wasn't able to get to it before it came out so I started listening to it on audio this week. I'm loving it so far! Also, this audiobook is produced by the same people who did The Illuminae Files and it's amazing as expected! Yay! For full cast audios!

The Heart of Iron Series by Ashley Poston
This is my book club's August book and I'm so excited to read it! I decided to wait on reading this last year when I learned it was a duology even though the second book doesn't come out until this July. You can so bet your butt that I'm going to be binge reading both books soon after the sequel comes out. This series is roughly Anastasia in Space and I'm totally here for that.

The Indranan War Series by K.B. Wagers
I read the first book in this series back in January and I've been telling myself that I need to pick up the sequels to find out what happens next to Hail and the gang. I'm intrigued to see where the story will go in the next two books.

What books do you want to read this summer?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren


The Unhoneymooners
Christina Lauren
Release: May 14, 2019
Goodreads Amazon
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley
Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancĂ© is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky. 

Enemies to lovers ✔️
Forced cohabitation ✔️
Ridiculous TV movie-worthy coincidences ✔️

The Unhoneymooners is totally my catnip. I really enjoyed the unhoneymoon part of the story, but I just couldn’t love the book overall. Something about it bugged me.

There’s a disconnect between how Olive sees herself and how others see her that’s never really addressed: She’s very observant and she’s not usually wrong. (Except maybe about Ethan.) But that isn’t something her family and friends seem to know about her. They don’t believe her the one time she tries to tell them what she sees. It breaks my heart that they don’t value that quality in her and all the charm of the rest of the story isn’t quite enough to make up for it.

The fact that most of this happens toward the end of book only makes it worse. Even Ethan didn't really do enough to redeem himself after that. The rest of Olive's family certainly didn't. So when they get their Happy Ever After, I was much more frustrated than happy. I expect to have warm fuzzy feelings at the end of a Christina Lauren book so The Unhoneymooners was a bit disappointing.

3/5  stars

My reviews of other books by Christina Lauren:
My Favorite Half-Night Stand
Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating

Friday, May 10, 2019

Early Review: Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Red, White & Royal Blue
Casey McQuiston
Release: May 14, 2019
Goodreads Amazon
A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends...

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?

I don't read a lot of contemporary romances which is a shame because the last five or six I've read have been phenomenal! Back in February, I kept seeing several of my bookish friends talk about this new adult romance they were reading and all of them were just raving about it. I found myself curious so I looked at the book's synopsis on Goodreads. A queer romcom where the main characters/love interests are the First Son of the United States and the Prince of Wales?!? Dear Lord, I needed this book in my life! So I immediately went to Netgalley to request the ARC.

Okay. Buckle up, guys, because I'm so ready to absolutely rave and gush about how perfect this book was. I'm calling it now. Red, White and Royal Blue will be on my Top 5 Favorite Books of 2019 list if not my overall #1 favorite of the year. It was everything my little queer heart wanted and needed! I'm more than a bit obsessed with it and I can't stop thinking about it. Case in point: I have reread it three times since reading it for the first time during the Romanceopolyathon in April. It makes my heart grows three sizes too big every time I think about the romance and the characters.

The voice in this book is spectacular! You all know how much I love good banter and this book had it in spades! The dialogue felt so real! It's a bit crass. More than a bit smart while being hysterical and romantic. I loved the writing in this book so much! I loved how the author included tweets, texts, and emails as part of the narrative! The emails between Henry and Alex were everything! I’m literally the heart-eyes emoji every time I think about them.

I loved how politically and socially relevant it was! I don't know why I was so surprised by the amount of politics in this book especially since the story is told from the perspective of the First Son of the United States but I was. But I also loved how seamlessly they were integrated into the story and how much they added to the narrative. I was also deeply fascinated because it felt like a true look behind the White House curtain. The political issues are so relevant to our current political climate. It was also a little bittersweet reading about this amazing female president that won the 2016 election. I loved that the Claremont-Diaz family and the royal family were fictional but had these wonderful real life optimistic parallels.

I love me a relevant woke book and I'll stop gushing about that aspect of it because I haven't talked about the characters and the romance yet! It was the perfect enemies to fake friends to friends to lovers book I didn’t know I needed in my life. The meet cute disaster! The bickering and the banter! The romance! Alex's bisexual awakening was written in this perfectly believable way that made my heart ache in all the best ways. I also couldn't stop grinning like a fool at all of Alex's Oh Shit! moments and at how adorable the romance between Alex and Henry was. It was extremely gratifying seeing how they brought out the best in each other and how they let in the people around them.

Let's talk about the friendship and family dynamics and how perfect they were. I absolutely adored June, Nora, Bea, and Pez! The total support that they gave to Alex and Henry made my heart ache and tear up in places. I love seeing positive sibling relationships in books and the ones in this one were perfect! June and Alex! Henry and Bea! I loved it so much! I also loved Alex and Nora's friendship! It's always so refreshing to read about an opposite gender friendship that doesn't turn into the romance. I am low-key obsessed with all the relationships in this book. I loved Alex's parents and his relationship with them. Also, his relationship with Zahra was so great!

Also, can we talk about how amazingly diverse this book is? I loved how extremely and truly diverse the entire cast was, in so many meaningful ways. It has a biracial (half-Mexican, half-White) and bisexual main character with a diverse cast with both racial and sexual representation across the board. This book is everything I want to see more of in books. I'm always saying that I want to see more of my favorite and slightly overdone tropes made queer. This book embodies all of those wants and it is a great example at just how good a queer remaking of our favorite tropes can be. 

Reading this book was like reading a romcom movie and I can't get the thought out of my head about how much I want this book to be made into a movie. I loved that the film options have sold and I want it to be made so badly! I feel like it would be one of those movies I would gladly watch a million times. It would have all the best beats and tropes of a romantic comedy. So yeah, I loved this book a lot a lot. Is one book too early to make Casey McQuiston an autobuy author? Because I’m pretty sure she’s just officially made my auto-buy list with this book.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  5 / 5 Stars

Book 16- LGBT Lane- Read a NA LGBT Romance

Read to complete the New-to-You Author Challenge for the Romanceopolyathon.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

We Love Lists: Books Both Me and My Mom Love

Mother's Day is this weekend so we thought I'd do a special list post for the occasion! What better way to celebrate mom than by talking about books we both love!

I don't know if I mention this enough but I got my love of reading from my Mom. Our house growing up was filled with books and the library was a twice weekly stop for our family. She's the also the one who encouraged and supported me in growing my personal library. She would always read what we were reading especially if it was a book or series we were loving. I actually can't remember a time she didn't pick up a book I raved about.

As I got older, my Mom started telling me about the books she loved and got me into some of my favorite series! I would have discovered urban fantasy as a genre a lot sooner if I had listened to her. So let's talk about the books both me and my Mom share a love for.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
When my sister and I started fighting over who got to read the newest Harry Potter book from Grandma first, my Mom decided that she needed to read them too. Soon she was just as obsessed with them as we were and reading them out loud to my Dad on the couch. I can remember how she was the first instigator on seeing the first movie and planned a whole day around it just so we could see it opening night. Harry Potter will always be special because it was my childhood. But it's also special because it was the first series my Mom and I both shared a love for.

The Psy-Changeling Series by Nalini Singh
I'm proud to say that I was the one that got my Mom into this series. When I started binging them back in 2015, I couldn't stop raving about how good they were to my Mom. I guess my incessant gushing was enough to get her to pick the first book up. I think she did it to get me to shut up about it but then fell head over heels for it too. Now, we both countdown the days for a new Nalini Singh book. My mom will steal my Kindle so she can also read my ARCs just so she doesn't have to wait either. This is probably the series we talk about the most.

The Badlands Series by Morgan Brice
This one was a surprise shared love for me. I love a good queer love story but my mom is usually not a fan. But she loved this one too! It was such a relief that she did! I didn't even know she had picked it up until she asked me if I had the other books in the series. Also, it was nice that I wasn't the only one so caught up in the mystery that I wanted the romantic bits to be over with fast. Like mother like daughter, right?

The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne
The Iron Druid Chronicles was one of those series that we both picked up around the same time unbeknownst to each other. We played phone tag for about a week trying to tell the other to read it. After we found out that we both had finished all the available books at the time, we discussed it for hours. It was amazing!

The Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews
I'm the one who found this series first and it took a couple years to get my Mom to pick it up. But once she did, she was so mad I hadn't forced her to read them sooner. She then proceeded to marathon all of Ilona Andrews' books. I think it's safe to say that I got my binge reading tendencies from my Mother.

The Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs
Mom is actually the one who read the Mercy Thompson books first but I'm the one who told her about the Alpha & Omega books so we both get the joint credit of introducing each other to the Mercyverse. This is another series that we both count down to. My Mom actually absconded with my Kindle a couple weeks ago so she could read my ARC of Storm Cursed first and I haven't been able to finish it yet because of it.

The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger
I'm the one that got my Mom into Gail Carriger's books and it's always fun to watch her read one for the first time. I apparently also inherited the ability to cackle like a madwoman at funny moments in books from Mom. The Parasol Protectorate is my Mom's favorite of Carriger's series. I'm trying to get her to pick up her San Andreas Shifters books soon because I think she'll love them just as much.

The Night Huntress Series by Jeaniene Frost
 My Mom is the one who picked up Halfway to the Grave after reading my co-bloggers rave about the series and convinced me to finally pick it up too. It was fun kind of reading them at the same time for the first time together. Mother-Daughter book clubs should be a thing. My Mom and I would be all over that if it revolved around UF and PNR books.

The Immortals After Dark Series by Kresley Cole
I had no idea until recently when my Mom asked for book recs that she's been reading the Immortals After Dark series for years. Neither of us had thought to inform the other about the series at the time, but now we read the newest books together and discuss them after. It's so fun! We both have different favorites which makes it fun to talk about which book is better.

 The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward
My Mom definitely was the first one to read this series first and I'm not ashamed to say that a stole the books off her romance shelf to read without her knowledge when I was home for Christmas vacation. I later admitted it. We both have had issues with some of the books in this series. But I'll admit it's been fun discussing what we didn't like about certain books instead of raving about each one. We both agree that Rhage is the best Brother hands down.

What books do you and your mom both love? 

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