Red, White & Royal Blue

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston: Review by Lost in a Book

Red, White & Royal Blue

Blurb:

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?

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4.5 Stars

Politics. *dreadful sigh* Books that revolve around politics are usually a hard limit, hell no for me. The day to day politics in RL are usually nauseating enough that I don’t want to read about them in my escape time. Red, White & Royal Blue drew me in with the cute cover/synopsis and I’m glad it did. For much of the book it was like this fantastical political dream world where the last two years didn’t actually happen and I was *totally* here for it. For the most part. This book had me smiling, laughing, sad, swooning, and full of hope from one page to the next.

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is all about politics. He lives and breathes them and dreams of one day becoming a politician that does the right thing- like his mother, the President. Alex is also a snarky smart ass and sometimes his antics get the best of him. Errrrr, or cause potential issues with diplomatic relations when he gets into it with uptight Prince Henry of Wales at a royal wedding. Now they have to pretend to be the best of friends as Alex grits his teeth and Henry puts on stoic front of impassiveness.

“So, you can hate the heir to the throne all you want, write mean poems about him in your diary, but the minute you see a camera, you act like the sun shines out of his dick, and you make it convincing.”

There’s more to both men than what meets the eye and as they continue on with this charade of friendship, walls start to crack. Alex and Henry gain so much understanding and common ground on what it’s like to grow up in the public eye and be held to impossible standards- unable to be who they really are.

I love the journey for Alex and Henry. From nemesis to lovers, it’s highly entertaining. Their friendship develops gradually over texts, emails and eventually face to face. The UST is thickkkkkk and the snark is highly entertaining. My first through when I found out they didn’t like each other was “please tell me there’s hate sex.” There isn’t. But, they have chemistry and witty banter in spades.

“I shall just have to make it the best orgasm of your life. What can I do to make it good for you? Talk about American tax reform during the act? Have you got talking points?” Alex looks up, and Henry is grinning at him. “I hate you.”

Alex and Henry get together fairly quick so there’s lots of intimate times but the sex scenes fade to black. You know what’s going on during the smexy times but it’s not explicit (which didn’t bother me because their relationship is *so* much more than sex). The build up to the kissing though… 🔥🔥. We are able to *see* their walls crumble completely as the tone of their correspondences change.

I LOVE all of the secondary characters. Red, White & Royal Blue has a diverse cast with multiple LGBT+ representations and races. There’s sassy wit, snarktastic humor, funny AF antics, and tons of pop culture references along the way.

So, remember how I was saying above that this is a refreshing take on politics and the bizarro world political fantasy land worked for me? It did. For a bit. However, it began to drag on the political parts around 50% and didn’t let up. I began skimming some of the political parts but my enjoyment for everything else never waned.

I totally adored Alex and Henry along with their patchwork family. I really like the format with texts and emails being an important part of their love story. I even day dreamed what-ifs with the fantastic idea that the political climate in the U.S. could be different. Recommended.

Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Strange the Dreamer Series

Strange the Dreamer & Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor: Incoherent Ramblings by Lost in a Book

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)

Blurb:

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer, #2)

Blurb:

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.

She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise.

She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this astonishing and heart-stopping sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

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5 Million Stars (probably not enough)

I’ve decided that I’m completely unable to do either of these books justice in full reviews. Impossible. The storytelling is exquisite. The world creation is impeccable. The audio is one of the best I’ve heard and Steve West (narrator) completely delivers. I love both books so hard (with book #1 slightly more) that along with the audio, I bought the hard copies to have on my nightstand. So, because I’m unable to live up to the books, I’ll be giving my breakdown of feels with gifs. You’re welcome. 😉

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now…

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both stories…

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the cliffhanger at the end of book #1…

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the wrap up of book #2…

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the audio…

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Laini Taylor…

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Over all feelings…

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Skating Through

Skating Through by Jennifer Cosgrove: Review by Lost in a Book

Skating Through

Blurb:

There are two things Ben Lewis has convinced himself he can never have at the same time: playing hockey and being openly gay. Hockey is looking to be his only choice. Until now. Being captain of the team and starting his senior year of high school is a lot to handle. Throw in a budding friendship with his crush, Marcus, and Ben is faced with deciding if he’s brave enough to take the next step.

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2.5 Stars

So…

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Skating Through didn’t grab me like I was hoping it would. I’m a huge fan of Y/A and coming of age stories. It wasn’t bad. Or good. It just… was??

Ben Lewis is a high school hockey player that’s firmly in the closet. He has a best friend named Ryan that’s his only source of companionship where he can truly be himself and the rest of the time isolates himself from real relationships. Ben has had a crush on a fellow student (Marcus) but hasn’t pursued anything for fear of outing himself to his team and family.

Marcus is bright, sassy, and refuses to hide. He can pull off any shade of hair and isn’t afraid to show his interest in Ben. Both boys rarely see each other until the summer before their senior year where they’re constantly in the same place and eventually form a friendship.

Other than that, nothing really happened. Yes, coming out of the closet is a huge deal. I don’t need dramatics in everything I read and can appreciate realistic situations and reactions. But for me, the main characters were boring. There was some odd story line through the plot about a historical connection. I think it was supposed to help drive the plot but seemed out of place- almost like it was added after the rest of the story was written. The “tell and not show” writing in this book is everywhere and drove me a tad crazy. There’s a lot of daily minutiae included on page but the meat of the story happened off page.

At least I liked their friends.

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If you’re looking for a sweet, no drama, low angst, rated G read, this could be for you. I like my YA or Coming or Age stories to pack a little more of a punch but YMMV.

Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff: Review by Lost in a Book

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)

Blurb:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

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5+++++++++ Stars

Illuminae

My feels on this book…

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My feels on the audio casting and their execution for this book…

 

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Illuminae is unique, riveting, gruesome, action packed, and intelligent. Throughout the entire “read” I was constantly in awe of the authors and the clever creativity required to write a book like this.

The blurb provides an overall scope of the book with Kady and Ezra breaking up, their planet being attacked, them being rescued by a nearby ship, and some of the things they encounter while trying to escape the enemy warship. Except, the blurb doesn’t do the story justice. This is way more than a romance. I hesitate even calling it that because the MCs are on separate ships for 95% of the book, have to communicate through computers, and much passes before they get on the same page (maybe a SciFi with romantic elements?). I’m not quite sure there’s a label that encompasses what this book actually is. But I damn sure loved it.

Illuminae is downright gruesome and not for the faint of heart. There were moments when I was squirming and others where I had actual tears running down my face. Legit face-leaking was taking place. Lotssssss of leaking.

This story isn’t written in the traditional sense and is instead composed of “a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more.” But don’t let that throw you off and keep you from diving into this addicting story.

AIDAN… Oh, AIDAN. What really surprised me was my ability to love *and* the level of my love for AIDAN. I had moments of rage/hate for “him” and then was swooning and professing my undying love the next moment.

Let’s talk about this audio. Hands down, the BEST audio I’ve ever heard. Ever. For real. It was everything I wish I could experience when I go see a book to movie adaptation. But it was better because it’s the actual book being performed and the only true way to describe what the cast accomplishes is to call it a performance.

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The story is captivating. It took a while to get through because I did audio and there were times I had to hold off because I needed to slow my heart after a nail biter scene or to deep breathe through my tears. Will I go on to book #2? Hell to the yeah… after I surround myself with fluff because this was INTENSE. I’m a fan. I’m amazed by the authors. I’m amazed at the quality of audio. 1 million% recommended.