Red, White and Royal Blue – Book Review

Red, White and Royal Blue – Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Fiction
  • Romance, LGBTQ, Young Adult
  • Paperback
  • 421 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.21

Alex is the son of the first female president of the United States. HRH Prince Henry has been his nemesis ever since he was rude to him at an event and dismissed him. When Alex gets drunk at a royal wedding and accidentally pushes Henry into the wedding cake, they are forced to spend time together and convince the press that it was all one big misunderstanding. After Alex has spent some time together, he discovers that Henry isn’t as shallow and boring as he thought he was and he certainly isn’t a prick. When Henry gets a little drunk at Alex’s NYE party, he kisses him out of the blue. It was a first time for Alex, but the question is: why did he like it so much?

“The next slide is titled: ‘Exploring your sexuality: Healthy, but does it have to be with the Prince of England?’ She apologizes for not having time to come up with better titles. Alex actively wishes for the sweet release of death.”

Casey McQuiston, Red, White and Royal Blue

This is probably one of the easiest reviews I’ve written so far. I absolutely LOVED reading this book. I loved everything about it; the characters, the plot, the feminist and LGBT touch, the writing, the romance, everything!

First of all, McQuiston’s writing is amazing. The dialogue is so incredibly smooth and funny and she kept the lightheartedness all throughout the book. The chapters were quite long, but McQuiston alternated between dialogue, e-mails and texts, which kept the pace of the story rather high. The inside jokes between Henry and Alex were hilarious and the writing just felt rather effortless, which made it very pleasant to read.

Red, White and Royal Blue is probably one of the most romantic books I have ever read. Now I’ve only recently been getting into romance novels, but still. It’s a little spicy at times, but in a very romantic way. I thought maybe the sex scenes would make me a little uncomfortable, but they really didn’t. Henry’s and Alex’s relationship was absolutely perfect. They are so gentle with each other and give each other space, even though they miss each other like crazy. The e-mails and texts back and forth made my heart melt. Their relationship is definitely swoon-worthy.

“Thinking about history makes me wonder how I’ll fit into it one day, I guess. And you too. I kinda wish people still wrote like that. History, huh? Bet we could make some.”

Casey McQuiston, Red, White and Royal Blue

McQuiston painted a wonderful picture in this book of a world where the most powerful country on earth is ruled by a woman and princes can be gay and have a gay marriage and still be respected and even adored. It is the perfect feminist and LGBTQ propaganda. Well done, McQuiston. Keep on writing that gay romance with a feminist touch to make the world a better place! We should all take a page out of your book (pun intended).

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The Wrath and the Dawn – Book Review

The Wrath and the Dawn – Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Adhieh
  • Fiction
  • Fantasy/Young Adult/Romance/Fairytale retelling
  • Ebook
  • 418 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.08

The Kingdom of Khorasan is ruled by a murderer. Every night Khalid, the caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride and every morning, he kills her. Until a 16-year-old girl named Shahrzad volunteers to be his next wife. She has a plan to avenge the death of her best friend and put an end to the needless suffering of families who have their daughters taken from them. Except her new husband, the boy-king, is not what she had expected. He is kind and compassionate and seems to have a soft spot for her. She is his first bride who has lived past the morning.

This was an absolutely gorgeous retelling of the A Thousand and One Nights fairytale. It is only loosely based on the story, which gave it the intrigue of the Arabian story while still remaining original and surprising in all aspects.Though I’m only just getting into fairytale retellings (Cinderella is Dead was my first one), this one was definitely nothing like anything I’ve ever read before. It definitely got me into the warm Arabian/Persian aesthetic with all its silk and sand and jewels. The names are very difficult to remember and differentiate, though. There’s Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran, Tariq Imran al-Ziyad and Rahim al-Dir Walad. You get used to it, but it takes a little while. Though the names are beautiful, they’re rather difficult to remember at times.

“So you would have me throw Shazi to the wolves?”

“Shazi?” Jalal’s grin widened. “Honestly, I pity the wolves.”

Renee Adhieh, The Wrath and the Dawn

The characters in The Wrath and the Dawn are wonderful and colourful. Though most of the side characters are still a little flat in the first book, the main characters are vibrant and have amazing character development. The book is written from the perspective of multiple characters, so that gives you some insight into information that some of the other characters do not have. It keeps the tension high and the story interesting. It is also a great way to show character development.

Adhieh has incorporated the enemies to lovers trope wonderfully and in a highly original way. Shahrzad’s new husband has killed her best friend and many other girls. She believes him to be a monster. No matter how much she tries to hate him, though, she feels there is much more to the story and to Khalid than meets the eye. The internal struggle to keep regarding Khalid as her enemy and plotting to kill him, while falling in love with him against her better judgement, is described beautifully and progresses naturally. Often the enemies to lovers trope can feel a little forced and considering what I knew about the story, I was afraid it would in this book too, but it didn’t.

“You are not weak. You are not indecisive. You are strong. Fierce. Capable beyond measure.”

Renee Adhieh, The Wrath and the Dawn

Khalid eventually reveals to Shazi the story behind all of the wives he has murdered. He tells her about his first wive, Ava. I obviously don’t want to spoil anything, so I can’t say any more about the story. I can tell you, though that it is a heartbreaking story. I had mixed feelings about Khalid throughout the book, until he told Shazi the story of Ava.

Definitely read this book if you like a fairytale retelling, if you like the Arabian/Persian aesthetic and/or if you like a good enemies to lovers trope.

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Rereading Harry Potter week 5

Rereading Harry Potter week 5

Hello fellow bookworms and welcome back to another week of rereading Harry Potter as an adult! We have left off at Ron and Harry arriving at Hogwarts by flying car, instead of the Hogwarts of Express, all because of Dobby’s attempt to keep Harry safe (though Harry and Ron don’t know that yet, shh). I’ve decided to slightly reduce the number of pages I read every week, because I noticed the posts getting way too long to stay interesting and I don’t want it to become dull. There’s just too much exiting stuff to talk about and I don’t want to skip anything.

Chapter Six: Gilderoy Lockhart starts off on the first day back at Hogwarts, at the breakfast table in the Great Hall. It is time for today’s post! If you’ve read the Chamber of Secrets before, you might know what’s coming: the Howler. I’ve always loved the scene where Ron receives the Howler from Mrs. Weasley. Imagine getting a letter from your mother that yells at you in front of every single person at school.

Since the chapter is called “Gilderoy Lockhart”, let’s honour him with a complete list of every annoying thing Gilderoy Lockhart did so far:

  • Dragging Harry in front of the camera at Flourish and Blotts;
  • Telling professor Sprout how to do her job;
  • Assuming Harry flew to school for the publicity;
  • Assuming Harry is handing out signed photos;
  • Telling Harry he’s not quite famous enough to be handing out signed photos yet;
  • Starting his first class off with a pop quiz on… himself!;
  • Releasing a cage full of pixies and then fleeing the classroom;
  • Constantly referring to one of his books;
  • Telling professor Snape how to do his job;

I’m sure this list will get much, much longer throughout the rest of the book. I had been wondering why Dumbledore would go with dimwits like Lockhart and Quirrel when they’re so clearly not cut out for the job, until Hagrid tells Harry and Hermione that people are starting to think that the Defense Against the Dark Arts job is cursed, so people aren’t too keen on applying anymore.

What I love most about rereading the Harry Potter books, is getting reintroduced to characters you only vaguely remember, because they weren’t that important for the story and/or they were left out of the movie. Characters like Justin Finch-Fletchley, for instance. I only remember him from the Lego Harry Potter games (don’t judge me, they’re a lot of fun) as a collectible Lego figure, but he’s not really in the movies. For those who don’t really remember him either, he’s a Hufflepuff boy from Harry’s year who they take Herbology with. Harry, Ron and Hermione are paired with Justin to repot the mandragoras. Isn’t it convenient, though that they always seem to learn the exact things in class that they need to complete that year’s self-inflicted deadly task?

The next character introduced is Colin Creevey. He’s the first-year who’s constantly asking for Harry’s picture and autograph. He’s also the boy who is going to be petrified by the Basilisk further on in the book.

Harry spends most of his first few days at Hogwarts trying to dodge Lockhart and Colin Creevey. On his way to the Quidditch pitch for his first practice of the year, Harry runs into Colin and he follows him to the pitch. As they’re about to start practice, the Slytherin team comes onto the pitch with special permission from Snape to train their new seeker. This new seeker is of course the pale boy we have a love-hate relationship with, Draco Malfoy. Draco calls Hermione a Mudblood and Ron accidentally curses himself to vomit slugs for the rest of the day. Never a dull moment at Hogwarts.

Harry is sitting out his detention that evening with Gilderoy Lockhart. Is it just me or is answering some fanmail kind of a mild punishment for something that almost got Harry expelled? Considering only last year, he was sent into a forest full of bloodthirsty creatures because he wasn’t in his bed at midnight. (Also, Harry doesn’t finish answering the fanmail until midnight, so.. double standards?) Although to Harry the Forbidden Forest is probably less of a punishment than spending the evening with Lockhart. Harry hears “the voice” for the first time in Lockhart’s office.

When Harry is in Filch’s office because he is being written up for dragging mud into the castle and Nick sends Peeves to cause a racket and get Harry off the hook, Harry finds Filch’s Kwikspell brochure. I knew Filch was a Squib (non-magic person born into wizard family), but I kind of forgot about it and it never really occurred to me that most of the student apparently assumed he was a wizard. I can’t really understand why, because they’ve seen him scrubbing and polishing and sweeping. If he were a wizard, he’d just wave his wand around. Filch mentions a vanishing cabinet that Peeves ruined. I love how Rowling is already foreshadowing the cabinet that is going to play such an important role 4 books from now. I can’t help but wonder if she already had plans, or if this is simply part of world-building. Either way, she’s a genius. I also love that Filch’s first name is Argus. I’m a bit of a Greek Mythology geek and apparently, so is Rowling, because Argus is a giant from Greek Mythology who has a 100 eyes all over his body and sees everything. Considering that Filch always seems to be everywhere at once, especially when you’re doing something you’re not supposed to be doing, the name seems rather fitting.

Am I the only one who loves book-Nearly Headless Nick far more than movie-Nearly Headless Nick? The movie version just completely lacks personality while the book version is so incredibly adorable. I just love the sir Nick who persuades Peeves to trash an office to get Harry out of trouble and invites him to his Deathday Party. He is such an underrated character.

At Nearly Headless Nick’s Deathday Party, Harry, Ron and Hermione run into Moaning Myrtle for the first time. On the way back from the party, Harry hears the voice again and decides to follow it. It leads them to the message written in blood: “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the heir, beware.” Hanging next to the words is a petrified Mrs. Norris.

Further on in the chapter, Ron is measuring his History of Magic homework. Yes, I said measuring. He was supposed to hand in a 3-foot long homework essay. I suppose they don’t do word-counts in the wizarding world.

Professor Binns tells the class the story of the Chamber of Secrets during the History of Magic class, which he believes to be a myth. Of course the story starts with the four founders of Hogwarts; Rowena Ravenclaw, Godric Gryffindor (remember Godric’s Hollow from book 7?), Helga Huffelpuff and Salazar Slytherin (Rule number one of founding schools: your name needs to be an alliteration). A while after the school was founded, there was an argument with Slytherin and he left the school, only he had built a secret chamber within the school that could be opened by his heir and used to purge the school of everything who didn’t belong.

Thank you so much for reading this week’s post about rereading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I’ll be back next week with chapter 10, 11 and 12 of the Chamber of Secrets, when it’s time for some Quidditch, some duelling and casually making some Polyjuice Potion in the girl’s bathroom. Subscribe to be kept up to date on my posts. See you next week!

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Every Book I’ve read in January

Every Book I’ve read in January

Hello my wonderful bookworms! It feels like it was just yesterday that we were enjoying Christmas Dinner and complaining about another year ruined by COVID and now January has already come to an end. Can we please make time slow down? How am I ever going to get through my TBR before I die? Okay, let’s not go there. January is already depressing enough.

Anyway, January has been a good reading month for me. I set a goal for 75 books this year and I’m already slightly ahead. I like to be a little bit ahead so that I don’t have to stress about finding the time to read. I’ve read a total of 9 books in January and these are all of them:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Rating: 3 out of 5.

My very first book of the year. A young shepherd goes looking for a treasure and his purpose in life. Short, sweet and a little disappointing at times. The writing was just fine, but I just didn’t always agree with the themes. Also, I really disliked the ending. Literally any ending would’ve been better. The book kind of gets you thinking, but since I didn’t much agree with the themes, I didn’t take much away from it. If you have this on your TBR, you can leave it there, for it is interesting and relatively short and easy to read, but don’t move it up on my account. If the themes speak to you, read it. Otherwise, it’s not worth your time. It counts towards your reading goal, though..

The Comfort of Others by Kay Langdale

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Heartbreaking, intriguing at times, but also very slow and occasionally dull. I liked, but not loved, this book. It peaks very early and I kept waiting for more, but it didn’t really come. Parts of the story were really heartbreaking and I noticed myself holding my breath while reading those, but most of the time I was just struggling through, waiting for something to happen. I linked a full review in the title and down below, including a summary of the story.

The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan (The Trials of Apollo #3

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The third part of the Trials of Apollo series, where the Greek God Apollo is punished by Zeus and sent to earth in the body of a mortal. Apollo is now 16-year-old Lester Papadopoulos, complete with acne and love handles. He is to stay on earth with 12-year-old Meg McCaffrey as his master until he has fulfilled his punishment. The books are set in the same world as Percy Jackson, so there are a lot of familiar faces.

I read the first two books in the series last year and since I made a New Year’s Resolution to finally finish some of the series I’ve started, I figured I’d start with this one. In The Burning Maze, Meg, Apollo and Rover (yes, Rover from the Percy Jackson series) have to find their way through the Labyrinth to rescue the next oracle in order to stop the emperors from taking over the world.

The Tyrant’s Tomb by Rick Riordan (The Trials of Apollo #4

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The fourth book in the Trials of Apollo series by Rick Riordan. Meg and Apollo set off from Camp Halfblood to Camp Jupiter, in the San Fransisco Bay Area. Camp Jupiter is the home of demigods that descend from the Roman Gods. The camp will be under attack soon and Apollo needs to find a way to defeat their enemies. That’s as much as I can say without spoiling anything. I loved this book. That’s all I will say.

Chess for Dummies by James Eade

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I started reading this Ebook AGES ago when I started to play chess with my boyfriend. I was a terrible chess player and he is actually pretty good, so I wanted to get on his level (or at least nearer to his level) so it would actually be fun for both parties. So I decided to do what I do best: read! Well, I owe mister Eade a great big thanks, because shortly after I finished this book, I won my very first chess game from my boyfriend, something I had never deemed possible. All kidding aside, the Dummies series is actually an amazing series to get into a certain subject with no prior knowledge. The book stays on the surface, but it gives you that push that gets you on a certain level. From there you can decide if you want to learn more. Chess for Dummies was very helpful to me! Now on to grand-mastery!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (reread)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I really hope I don’t need to explain the plot to you anymore. I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in January for my Rereading Harry Potter series of posts that will continue throughout the next couple of months. I absolutely loved rereading it. There were so many details that I had completely forgotten about and I loved meeting familiar characters for the first time again. It was just perfect. I linked the whole Rereading Harry Potter series so far in the book title. Check it out if you’re interested.

The Tower of Nero by Rick Riordan (The Trials of Apollo #5

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The fifth and final part of the Trials of Apollo series. Weirdly enough, this was actually my least favourite of the three Trials of Apollo books that I read this month. I loved the final battle, which covers about half of the book, but the first half was a little annoying, if you ask me. Apollo and his companions go underground to look for the Troglodytes, a weird lizard-people who wear hats and eat other lizards, but also pretty much everything that moves. I guess the Troglodytes were amusing enough, but also a little too weird for me. The ending was epic, though, and a little emotional. Still definitely worth the read.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Without a doubt my favourite read for this month. Honestly, it was so much better than I had expected. I was a little afraid that it was overhyped when I read it, but it really isn’t. The story is completely fictional of course, but I hope with all my heart that one day we will have a female president and she will have a bisexual son who falls in love with the queer Prince of Wales. Until then, I will just have to keep rereading this book on repeat. Full review is coming somewhere in the next week. Stay tuned 😉

Elevation by Stephen King

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Definitely the winner of the most-disappointing-January-read award. I had such high hopes for my very first Stephen King book, but alas. It wasn’t meant to be. Elevation is short, which is why I picked it as my first Stephen King book, but perhaps a little TOO short and frankly, it seemed a little rushed. I linked the full review in the title and down below.

I’m currently reading The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Adhieh, The Gifts of Reading by Robert Macfarlane and of course Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Stay tuned for updates and reviews on those! As always, thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you soon with more reviews, book recommendations and Harry Potter reading updates!

The Alchemist review: https://caffeineandcurlsbookblog.com/2022/01/07/the-alchemist-by-paulo-coelho/

The Comfort of Others review: https://caffeineandcurlsbookblog.com/2022/01/14/the-comfort-of-others-by-kay-langdale/

Rereading Harry Potter: https://caffeineandcurlsbookblog.com/category/harry-potter/harry-potter-reread/

Elevation review: https://caffeineandcurlsbookblog.com/2022/02/01/elevation-by-stephen-king-book-review/

Elevation by Stephen King – Book Review

Elevation by Stephen King – Book Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.
  • Fiction
  • “Horror”
  • Fantasy
  • Paperback
  • 192 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 3.67

Oh boy, did I have high expectations for this one. My very first Stephen King novel! I picked Elevation because I came across it at a bookstore once and it looked interesting. Also it was the shortest Stephen King novel I had come across so far. I have wanted to read Stephen King for ever, but the books are so ridiculously big (IT by Stephen King is 1116 pages, just to name one) that I was just kind of scared to. So when I came across this one, I figured: it couldn’t hurt to start with this one, right? Before I share my thoughts on this book, I’ll give you a short summary of the plot.

Scott Carey has been losing weight steadily for the past few weeks. He was delighted at first, only he doesn’t look any different than he did 30 pounds ago. And then there’s something else. When he steps onto the scale while holding all sorts of heavy things, he weighs exactly the same as he does naked. Scott consults with his best friend Bob Ellis, who is a retired doctor. As Scott keeps losing weight, he wonders what will happen when he reaches zero pounds..

So let’s begin by discussing the fact that this book won the 2018 Goodreads Choice Awards for the category horror. I’m sorry, but this is not a horror story. Mystery, okay. Sci-fi, sure, a little. Even fantasy is more believable, but please. Calling this a horror story, is an insult to actual horror stories.

Elevation only has a few characters that are introduced throughout the book, which makes sense since there aren’t enough pages to introduce any more. If you ask me, the story could’ve been a little longer. The story wasn’t at all bad, but the characters were extremely flat. There’s a lesbian couple who owns a restaurant that is going bankrupt because the whole town consists of Trumpies, so nobody wants to eat there. The couple’s dogs shit on Scott’s lawn and every time he tries to confront them about it, they tell him he just hates them, because they’re a same-sex couple. Extremely flat and uninspired. I’m not denying there are still (sadly) plenty of people who think like that, but this is just a very bad stereotype. Of course all the other characters are rich, middle-aged white guys and white church-going housewives.

The part that bothered me most, though, was the fact that you don’t get any explanation as to what caused Scott’s condition. If something weird is happening to your body, you want to know why, right? I would! But Scott just accepts that he is probably going to float away when he reaches zero and that’s that. The ending was probably the most disappointing part of the whole book to me.

The keyword in this review is obviously “disappointed”. This story could’ve been epic, if King had put in a little effort. Honestly, it feels like he had a deadline to make and he had something laying on a shelf somewhere and decided to just hand that to his publisher without even looking at it. There’s Stephen King on the front cover, so people will read it anyway, right? I could see that his writing is amazing, or at least could be amazing. I’m still planning on reading more Stephen King novels (I’ve got Misery and 11.22.63 waiting on my bookshelf), but I might wait a little bit.

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