Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

redwhiteRed, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

I couldn’t wait to read this book and was over the moon to have my wish granted on Netgalley to access an advanced e-proof. I’m a sucker for fiction that involves royalty and when you combine royalty with an “enemy to lovers” story line I just couldn’t wait to dive in.

Red, White and Royal Blue has mistakenly been described as a Young Adult book, but it is actually a New Adult book. New Adult differs from Young Adult in that the focus is on characters who are of legal age and newly navigating adult life, for example, going to college and finding their feet in the workplace.

The New Adult category has a bit of a bad reputation as a category which just allows authors to dramatically sex up a YA book but this is certainly not true of Red, White and Royal Blue.
The LGBT love story of Red, White and Royal Blue was admittedly the main draw for me initially, but the plot of the book has so much more depth to it than that. It has a strong political message, really explores what it’s like to navigate first love and coming out and of course, it’s all set amongst the very glamourous and fascinating background of the White house and the British Royal Family.

Alex and Henry are the most wonderful characters and I was really rooting for them. McQuiston’s writing is so warm and detailed that it was impossible not to get drawn into their budding romance and then relationship. Alex’s cheekiness played off really well against Henry’s staid royal façade but you could really imagine the twinkle in Henry’s eye when he relaxed around Alex and started playing back.

The supporting characters in the gang were equally as brilliant and lovable. June and Nora were fantastic strong female characters and the friendship between them all keep me interested in the plot even when it wasn’t revolving around Alex and Henry’s relationship.

The whole message of the book is one of hope and the sub-plot of the election honestly had me gripped. I came for the romance and stayed for the politics, which I never thought I’d say! If only the real world followed the plot of this book we’d all be in a much better situation…

Red, White and Royal Blue is a fairly long book at 432 pages, but I sped through every page and felt a bit bereft once I was finished. I tend to mainly read a lot of YA because I find the plots tighter than adult books, but I really enjoyed the New Adult mix of the maturity of the characters in this book whilst also having a plot which sped along and was easy to read. I really hope we get to revisit Alex and Henry and the rest of the gang in the future. Even if we don’t get any new books I can see myself rereading Red, White and Royal Blue multiple times.

The Princess and the Fangirl, by Ashley Poston

pfThe Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston.

Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.

When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.

I was gifted an advance reading copy of this book from Quirk Books in return for an honest review.

I read Geekerella quite late in the year, last year, after having it sitting on my TBR shelf for quite a long time. It was one of those books that I knew I would love so I kept saving it for a time when I would really need a good book to get lost in. As predicted, I adored it, so much so that I found myself sitting in a cold bath in my darkened bathroom, hours after getting in and only coming to my senses when it became too dark to continue reading. The dreamy romance combined with the geekiness of the con and Starfield and the fairytale retelling trope (undoubtedly my favourite trope ever) was just completely perfect.

With this in mind, I’ve been desperate to read The Princess and the Fangirl since the moment I turned the last page of Geekerella and went online desperately searching for more books by Ashley Poston. Where the last book was a retelling of Cinderella, this book is a modern gender twist take on The Prince and the Pauper and it works SO well.

More of a companion novel than a true sequel, The Princess and the Fangirl follows a new protagonist as well as several reoccurring characters from Geekerella. Darien pops up enough for plenty of swooning opportunities, but at the same time the story is pretty much brand new and you could probably get away with reading it without having read Geekerella first without too much confusion (though you should definitely read it because it’s great.)

Everything I loved from the first book is present in this companion book. The Starfield fandom is so intricately developed that I absolutely forget it isn’t a real thing. I’m sold on it completely and really invested in what’s going to happen to the franchise. Romance is again central to the story, with a f/f relationship as well as a m/f one, which both develop so beautifully. I wasn’t a huge fan of Jess when reading Geekerella, but she definitely grew on me in this book and I enjoyed reading her chapters and getting to know her character and the reasons for her prickliness. I wanted to enjoy her blossoming relationship more than I could initially. I found myself really focused on the lies that I knew would catch up with her and it gave me minor anxiety thinking that they were going to crash and burn when they had such promise! Having said that, even with the lies there’s no denying that the chapter where she’s having a private dinner in a hotel room with her love interest was electric, so much chemistry.

Imogen was possibly my favourite character. I loved the simplicity of her love for Starfield and her, at times overzealous, passion. Another of my favourite tropes is hate turning to love, and Imogen and her love interest were the perfect depiction of this. I was rooting for them with every snide comment they flung at each other, hoping they would end up together.

I loved the Princess and the Fangirl so much. The romance, the con setting, all the geeky references and the continued story of the Starfield franchise. It was everything I wanted in a companion novel.

What if it’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Essentially this book is best described as a modern day gay Sleepless in Seattle and it was an absolute joy to read from beginning to end. Throw in tons of references to Hamilton, Dear Evan Hanson and fantasy novels and I was in heaven.

If you know me you know how partial I am to a love story set in New York and I was heavily invested in Arthur and Ben’s relationship from the beginning of their meet cute right to the end of the book. Arthur was like an adorable puppy dog and I honestly LOVE him, whereas Ben was a little more guarded and standoffish. I like both of them but at times I was annoyed at Ben for hurting my poor baby Arthur. I really enjoyed the fact that they had to work at their relationship but they were prepared to do so.

In addition to Ben and Arthur, their friends were also wonderful to read. Dylan is my second favourite character (after Arthur), I loved his friendship with Ben, his slightly crazy approach to his own relationships and his general outlook on the world.

I’m so sad I’ve finished reading this book, I really wasn’t ready to leave their little gang. I foresee a lot of rereads in my future.

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History is all you left me by Adam Silvera

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

History is all you left me is an intense read. Beautifully written and completely absorbing, for just shy of 300 pages you are sucked into the grief of Griffin and the other characters and it is a painful but profoundly moving experience.

The grief is so visceral I actually found it hard to keep reading in places, as if I really were intruding on a deeply personal experience.

In spite of how much I feel this book is a very powerful and well written novel, I did have a big problem when reading it- I just can’t stand Griffin. Mental health problems and grief aside, I just think he’s a poor excuse for a person. He’s so self centred, egotistical and manipulative that I struggled with parts of the book which required you to be on his side. I was almost never on his side. Theo and Jackson? Yes, Wade? Yes. Griffin? Hell no. I have no time for people who have to make themselves the centre of every situation and Griffin was the worst example of this I’ve ever read.

I loved reading the “history” sections and adored Theo as a character which ended breaking my heart over and over again as I fell in love with him and then remembered his fate. The gentle unravelling of their history beautifully mirrored the stages of grief- at times it was confusing, then as you learn more its sad and then you feel anger. I really felt like I’d been emotionally through the wringer when I finished this book and any piece of writing that is so powerful it has that effect on you has to at least be given four stars. Unfortunately, my intense dislike of Griffin meant I couldn’t bring myself to award five stars. He just annoyed me so much and Theo, Jackson and Wade deserved so much better.

This review first appeared on Goodreads on 9th December 2017

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Brighton Babylon by Peter Jarrette

Brighton Babylon by Peter Jarrette

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Peter Jarrette’s Brighton Babylon reads like a sitcom in novel form. Each chapter is a different anecdotal story about his life, featuring his group of friends who embody the vibrancy and uniqueness of true Brightonians. The coolness of these characters oozes from the pages. They are the life and soul of the Brighton social scene, flitting from job to job, partying and flirting outrageously with each other. Jarrette’s portrayal of the outlandish situations within the book are belly achingly funny and vivid- I could almost imagine myself being there with them.

I’ve frequently visited Brighton so the places within Jarrette’s book seemed familiar to me, however, I don’t think you can truly see Brighton unless you look at it through the eyes of someone who lives there. Brightonians have a knack of making everything about the city romantic somehow. Take for example Jarrette’s descriptions of the tramps that live opposite his flat- gross, drunken and urine stained though they are, he describes them with fondness grown from having become so used to seeing them as part of his Brighton world.

Brighton Babylon is described as being a novel. However, from the little I know about Peter Jarrette (who incidentally is somewhat of a Brighton celebrity) and the fact the main character in the book is called Peter Jarrette, I kind of got the impression that he has borrowed most, if not all, of these stories from his real life. The chapter in which he discusses being given a gagging order by an old employer to prevent him discussing them in his new book also added weight to my suspicion. Whether wrong or right, I found that this made the book more enjoyable for me. I loved the idea that these frankly barmy people actually existed in real life, and if you’ve ever been to Brighton you can quite well believe that they do. The wonderful characters that inhabit Brighton are what make it such a unique and wonderful city, and Jarrette has encapsulated this perfectly in his book.

This review was first published on and Goodreads on 6th May 2013.

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