Currently Reading: Red, White, & Royal Blue

CR - RWRB

I feel like I waited 84 years for this book to come out. I’ve been waiting to read it since the deal was announced and it. did. not. disappoint. I devoured this in a day. RED, WHITE, & ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston is a New Adult romance that follows Alex, the son of the first female president, and Henry, the prince of England. The two are privately sworn enemies, but when a very public fiasco forces them to work together. To save international relations, they fake a friendship for the tabloids. Only that fake friendship quickly turns into a secret relationship that they must hide from the tabloids or risk upending the monarchy and Alex’s mother’s reelection campaign.

This book is rife with millennial humor, and I have not laughed out loud at a book so much in years. The cast of characters is absolutely amazing, easy to fall in love with and keep you on the edge of your seat rooting for them to get their happy ending.

Pick up this book if you like: humor, romance, LGBT reads, NSFW romance, endearing characters, sibling dynamics, turkey-related situational humor, and a breath of fresh air.

Currently Reading: The Wicked King

CR - Wicked King

When I read CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black, I enjoyed it but wasn’t on the level of hype as everyone else until around the last third of the book. And then I read WICKED KING. I’m officially fully invested. Which is not to say that the first book isn’t good, I just really, really like all the court intrigue, conniving, and back-stabbing that takes place at the end of book one, which, to my immense delight, is the primary focus of book two.

Black’s world of faerie is dark and lavish and full of intricate details. The court machinations are such a joy to be surprised by. As someone who typically guesses plot twists before they happen, I’m always pleased when I’m surprised.

This is also a GREAT enemies-to-lovers trope. Jude is a mortal girl brought to live in faerie after a faerie kills her parents. In order to survive, Jude learns to play the game of court from a young age. The youngest prince of faerie, Cardan, torments Jude constantly to hide his feelings for her. (This is a little yikes, but bear with me.) Jude is awful. She is cunning and ruthless and will do anything to gain power for herself in a world that wants to give her none. Cardan is also awful. He is the youngest prince, will likely never rule, and he is spoiled and indulgent and the one thing he wants (Jude) he can’t have. The reason this works so well where other enemies-to-lovers fail is that neither of them is suddenly ‘forgiven’ for all their awfulness. They’re both still conniving, and they’re still enemies. Which makes for some very charged moments. And Black draws it out, makes you wait and long for them to just-kiss-already, and it’s so, so worth it.

Pick this up if you like: faeries, lush worlds, enemies-to-lovers, court intrigue, morally gray characters, and complex sibling dynamics.

Currently Reading: Wicked Saints

CR - Wicked Saints

WICKED SAINTS by Emily Duncan was one of my most anticipated reads of the read and it did not disappoint. The story follows Nadya and Serefin, who are on opposite sides of a holy war. Nadya is the last cleric to whom the gods speak and imbibe with their powers. Serefin is the High Prince of the neighboring country that practices blood magic, which is considered heresy by Nadya’s peoples. After Serefin hunts down Nadya and she narrowly escapes, Nadya joins forces with the enigmatic, can-we-really-trust-him Malachaisz, a blood mage who defected from his home country and is now determined to kill the king. There are so many ways anything and everything can go wrong with this plan, and the will-they wont-they chemistry between born enemies Nadya and Malachiasz sucks you in and keeps you reading to the very end.

Pick up this book if you like: theology, enemies-to-lovers, goth af magic, LGBT reads, Polish/Russian-based fantasy settings. You won’t be disappointed.

Looking Back

I’ve been posting gratuitously about #ThursdayAesthetic on here, but last week’s theme was a really cool learning experience for me. The theme was “past project”, and I decided to go all the way back to the first manuscript I ever completed: OF MONSTERS & WOMEN.

Now, this isn’t the first thing I ever wrote, and it’s best that my early days of Harry Potter fanfiction are lost to antiquated fan forums and dead hard drives, but finishing a full manuscript was a big hurdle for me. I started writing when I was around 13/14, and didn’t finish an entire story until I was 21.

I used to write out of order, simply writing whatever scenes I felt inspired to write. This ended up with a lot of half-finished stories, because once I ‘discovered’ the ending of a story, I didn’t have much motivation to go back and finish the journey. OM&W was the first story were I wrote chronologically, and I think that’s why I actually managed to finish. I’ve continued to write chronologically ever since.

Anyway, as prep for this week’s aesthetic challenge, I went back and revisited this manuscript. I braced myself for the worst, and surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Sure, there were lots of comma splices, run-on sentences, and paragraph-long dialogue tags. The fact that I could identfy these flaws, however, just shows how far I’ve come as writer since writing OM&W. The plot, however, was so much stronger than I remembered. The subplots were all necessary and subtly interwoven. There were far too many secondary characters, but I fell in love with the main characters all over again.

OF MONSTERS & WOMEN is about two girls:
Veronica: The dreamer. She hoped this was going to be a love story. Instead, she discovers she’s the last descendant in a long line of witches. As such, she is the only one who can break the curse placed on the pack of alpha wolves that now stalk her and her roommate.
Blake: The realist. With the werewolves go, hunters follow. Blake begins training with the hunters to protect herself and her roommate. When she stumbles upon lore of warrior women sworn to protect the witches, she realizes that her and Veronica’s fates might have been entwined all along–and it might be the very key to breaking the curse.
It’s a silly, tropey self-insert paranormal romance with more love insterests than you can shake a stick at, but it’s a fun read (if I may say so myself). I’d love to revisit/rewrite it one day and let these girls kick ass, take names, and get the guy in the end, too.

 

[AES] PAST PROJECT

top mid: veronica hale; bottom right: blake bennett

 

 

SaveSave

Currently Reading: The Grisha Trilogy

After devouring Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone in one day yesterday, I’m now onto Siege and Storm! I fell in love with Bardugo’s writing in her Six of Crows duology earlier this year and have been itching to get my hands on her first series. I was worried about reading backwards and that her first series wouldn’t have as much finesse, but I’m absolutely enamored. Bardugo creates such well rounded characters, and I love the main character Alina. Her blunt manner of speaking is so refreshing in a heroine, and I love the ordinary-ness and effortlessness in her humor. Cannot wait to dive further into this second book.

Currently Reading: Across the Formidable Sea

ATFS

The death of her beloved father changes Laura Elliott’s life irrevocably. The spirited young American has barely begun to recover from her loss when her mother remarries – to a British earl. The two of them are whisked across the Atlantic to the green expanses of Coventry, where Laura finds herself adrift in high society, unable to fit in and lonelier than she’s ever been. Then, two new people enter her life and turn her world on its ear. Her stepfather’s new accountant, the handsome and accomplished Graham, shows her the kindness she has been missing since arriving in England. But Sarah Byrne, a modern young woman from the toughest part of Birmingham and youngest sister of its notorious crime family, has intentions of pulling Laura in an entirely different direction. As Laura manages her new friendships, she finds herself faced with the questions that plague twenty-year-olds in every era: who she is, what home means to her, and what the consequences of her choices will be.

Across the Formidable Sea by Claire Laminen