Ash Princess

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Author: Laura Sebastian

Published: April 24, 2018

Series: Ash Princess Trilogy, #1

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 1524767069

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.

Captive animals grow to love their captors all the time, even when they beat them. It’s not surprising that you love one of yours.”

Ash Princess

My review:

Sebastian’s writing is succinct and poetic in nature. I enjoyed how fast paced the story was, and how it dropped you in the middle of the action, not stopping until the bitter cliffhanger ending. Theo was such a strong main character. The whole time she had me questioning whether I would’ve made the same decisions she did if I was in her place, and whether I could ever be strong enough to withstand the things she did. There were a lot of ethical and moral dilemmas presented in this book, and as similar as I found this story to Throne of Glass, I felt like it went a lot deeper into issues of morality and duty than the first Throne of Glass book ever did.

As traitorous as it makes me, I can imagine it. A life where a crown—gold or ash—doesn’t weigh heavy on my head. A life where I’m not responsible for thousands of people who are hungry and weak and beaten every day. A life where I can just be a girl, kissing a boy because she wants to”

Ash Princess

At some point I feared this was going to turn into a Religion heavy story. It’s okay when stories include Gods and Goddesses and different made up religions and religious entities, but I don’t enjoy it when religion takes the main stage. I found it a bit boring and frustrating that many of these characters, including Theo, had powers but they did not use them for fear of not being allowed into the “After” and rejoin their friends and families. In my opinion, Fantasy books which include magic should have people that can USE their powers. I’m hoping this changes in the future books. There was also some “insta-love” which is always annoying.

Why would the gods allow us to suffer like we have for the last decade? Why wouldn’t they have struck the Kalovaxians down as soon as they set foot on Astrean soil? Why didn’t they protect us?”

Ash Princess

Now, I know it seems like I have a lot more dislikes than I do likes, so how can I give this book four stars? The negative aspects were mildly inconvenient, but they did not make the whole story for me. Also, this has been one of the only Fantasy books that has made me tear up since the ending of Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas. I really liked Theo, and I connected with her and her struggle. I’ve now moved on to the second book in this series, Lady Smoke, and I’m enjoying that as well. I have been trying to catch up with this series for a while, and I’m glad I’m finally reading it. I recommend this series to all Fantasy fans.

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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

My bookstagram

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
My bookstagram

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!

City of Ghosts Mini Review

⭐️⭐️/5

My Bookstagram

Series: Cassidy Blake, #1

Author: Victoria Schwab

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspecters, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspecters head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.

Likes:

I appreciated the fact that Cassidy’s parents were both alive, together, and had a good relationship with each other as well as Cassidy. I don’t see many healthy parent-child relationships in the YA/Fantasy genre -either one of the parents has passed away, or they’re estranged, etc. I really liked Jacob, Cassidy’s ghost best friend, I honestly thought he had a lot more personality than Cassidy herself. The descriptions of the scenery in Scotland were also nice and made me want to visit in the future.

Dislikes:

Maybe I’m just not a ghost story person? I went through this same disappointment when I read The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I had trouble getting into this story and found it very bland. I understood some of the parts were supposed to be scary, but I couldn’t get into it. I kept reading the book expecting it to get better, but it never did. When I was done I was not the least bit interested in reading the next book in the series at all, and I probably never will.

Conclusion:

If you love ghost stories you might enjoy this book, I know many people on Goodreads who loved it. I enjoyed Victoria Schwab’s other books, and I think her writing style is phenomenal. This book just wasn’t for me.

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!

Godsgrave Mini Review

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Picture from Goodreads

Godsgrave is the second book in Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight series. This series continues to impress me and surprise me at every turn. It has lovable characters that I cheered for even though I knew he was probably going to kill a few of them off, I had the first book as precedent and I really tried not to get attached. Needless to say, I failed miserably. I fell in love with ALL the characters, including many of the side characters, Maggot and Belle to name a few.

That’s the power of words: twenty six letters can paint a whole universe.”

Wavewaker

The plot was gripping, and full of twists and turns. I admit it was a bit slow in the beginning as the narration switched back and forth between the past and the present, but once again Kristoff made the switch seamless. The story involved a series of master plans which only the narrator knew about, and we as the readers got to find out as a they developed. I love those kinds of plots, and once the action picked up I could not stop reading.

Never listen to fear…fear is a coward.”

Belle

I would highly recommend this series to all Fantasy lovers. I was very glad I had pre-ordered the last book in the series “Darkdawn” and that it arrived just a few days after I was done with Godsgrave, otherwise I would’ve been highly disappointed by that cliffhanger ending. Once again, a warning that this story contains very gory descriptive writing with explicit sex scenes.

When you take a person from the world…you take everything they were, too.”

Maggot

Nevernight Review

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
My bookstagram

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 🙂

Gemina and Obsidio Mini Reviews

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

obsidio by amy kaufman and jay kristoff book
Picture taken by me

Obsidio and Gemina are the last two books in the Illuminae Files series by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. These books were both amazing, though not as great as the first Illuminae book in my opinion. I think what I really missed fromthe first book was the killer infected people. I found them absolutely terriffying. Also, AIDAN (the artificial intelligence in charge of the ships in the first book) was still super creepy in these last two books, but its abilities were diminished and he/it became a bit predictable.

Every story needs its hero. And its villain. And its monster.”

Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Gemina had the mind-sucking alien like creatures which were interesting. Here we were introduced to Hanna, the daughter of the man in charge of Jump Station Heimdall, and to Nik, her drug dealer. These two end up holding the fate of the whole universe in their hands after a wormhole malfunction. Hanna became one of my favorite characters, because she could be a badass and look good doing it at the same time. I also loved Nik’s little cousin Ella, she was hilarious.

Live a life worth dying for.”

Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Obsidio was about bringing the whole story together. I liked seeing all the main characters working for the same team and fighting for their survival on the last book. We are also introduced to the last two characters: Asha and Rhys. What I really liked about Asha was that she was just a regular person, she didn’t have super computer abilities like Kady, or crazy fighting skills like Hanna, but she still managed to make a difference.

Perhaps bravery is simply the face humanity wraps around its collective madness.”

Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

These last two books were fast paced, but there was enough character development to make me fall in love with all the characters and become invested in their survival. The story dealt with the possibility that not everything is black or white, and the plot was full of gray areas. The “bad guys” thought they were doing the right thing. The “good guys” were forced to cross lines they would otherwise never cross before. I would recommend this whole series to everyone. Before Jay Kristoff and Amy Kaufman’s books I was never a big fan of space settings, but they made me change my mind.