Review: Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston

Review: Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuistonRed, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
Published: May 14, 2019
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five-stars

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?

When a book has a lot of hype I tend to stay away from it until the hype has died down. It is a method that has worked for me in the past and I usually stick with it. But after the 5th person told me I needed to read Red, White and Royal Blue immediately, I went against my norm and went with the crowd. And as much I hate saying it, the hype was real for this one and it was 100% warranted. This book was beyond amazing and fantastic and all those perfect adjectives you can think of. It was perfection in a book.

Red, White and Royal Blue is the story of Alex, the first son of the United States, and Henry, the Prince of Wales. Alex has hated everything about Henry for a long time and when that hate comes to blows at a Royal Wedding damage control needs to take place. The plan is perfect. Henry and Alex will save face by doing one simple thing, pretend to be best friends. But for these two nothing is ever simple, especially when feelings get added to the mix.

First and foremost, Red, White and Royal Blue is so much more than a love story and I think that is why I loved it. It is a story of finding out who you are and a story of acceptance, of yourself and by others. It’s a story of putting aside what is expected of you and just being you. Alex and Henry do not have easy lives and this unexpected romance complicates them even more. But through it all, they managed. And they managed to make me laugh and cry and swoon right along with them.

It is so hard to review a book you loved as much as I loved Red, White and Royal Blue. Finding words feel impossible. I want to tell you everything that I loved but I want to leave the mystery for you too. I want you to be able to feel what I felt when I read it the first time. The one thing I can leave you with though… I want to live in the world that Casey McQuiston has created.

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Blog Tour: Excerpt of The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

Blog Tour: Excerpt of The Idea of You by Robinne LeeThe Idea of You by Robinne Lee
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
Published: June 13th 2017
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When Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of a prestigious art gallery in Los Angeles, takes her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band, she does so reluctantly and at her ex-husband’s request. The last thing she expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s disparate worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways. And for Solène, it is as much a reclaiming of self, as it is a rediscovery of happiness and love. When their romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her new status has impacted not only her life, but the lives of those closest to her.

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About Robinne Lee

ROBINNE LEE is an actor, writer and producer. A graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, Robinne was born and raised in Westchester County, New York. Robinne has numerous acting credits in both television and film, most notably opposite Will Smith in both Hitch and Seven Pounds. She recently completed shooting Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, playing Ros Bailey. Robinne currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. The Idea of You is her first novel.

las  vegas

 

 

I suppose I could blame it all on Daniel.

Two days before my planned getaway to Ojai, he showed up at the house in a tux with our daughter, Isabelle, in tow. He’d left the car running in the driveway.

“I can’t do the Vegas trip,” he said, thrusting a manila envelope in my hand. “I’m still working on the Fox deal and it’s not going to close anytime soon.”

I must have looked at him in disbelief because he followed that up with:

“I’m sorry. I know I promised the girls, but I can’t. You take them. Or I’ll eat the tickets. Whatever.”

An unopened package of Da Vinci Maestro Kolinsky brushes was lying on the entry table, alongside a set of thirty-six Holbein watercolors. I’d spent a fortune at Blick stocking up on materials for my artist retreat. They were, like the trip to Ojai, my gift to myself. Forty-eight hours of art and sleep and wine. And now my ex-husband was standing in my living room in formal black tie and telling me there’d been a change of plans.

“Does she know?” I asked. Isabelle, having retreated immedi- ately to her room—no doubt to get on her phone—had missed the entire exchange.

He shook his head. “I haven’t had time to tell her. I thought I’d wait and see if you could take them first.”

“That’s convenient.”

“Don’t start, okay?” He turned toward the door. “If you can’t do it, have her call me, and I’ll make it up the next time the group’s in town.”

It was so like him to have a Band-Aid for everything. To walk away from commitments guilt-free. Would that I had acquired that gene.

Isabelle and her two girlfriends had been counting down the days to see the band August Moon, a quintet of handsome lads from Britain who sang pleasant pop songs and drove tween girls mad. Daniel had “won” the tickets at the school silent auction. Paid some formidable amount to fly four to Vegas, stay at the Mandalay Bay, and attend the concert and a meet-and-greet with the band. Canceling now would not go over well.

“I have plans,” I said, following him out into the driveway.

He slipped around the back of the BMW and withdrew a cum- bersome bag from the trunk. Isabelle’s fencing equipment. “I assumed you would. I’m sorry, Sol.”

He was quiet for a moment, drinking me in: sneakers, leggings, still damp from a five-mile run. And then: “You cut your hair.”

I nodded, my hands rising to my neck, self-conscious. It barely reached my shoulders now. My act of defiance. “It was time for a change.”

He smiled faintly. “You’re never not beautiful, are you?”

Just then the tinted window on the passenger  side  rolled down and a sylphlike creature leaned out and waved. Eva. My replacement.

She was wearing an emerald-green gown. Her long, honey- colored hair twisted into a chignon. There were diamonds dan- gling from both ears. It wasn’t enough that she was some youngish, stunning, half-Dutch, half-Chinese star associate at the firm, but that she was now sitting in Daniel’s 7 Series in my driveway look- ing every bit the princess while I was dripping sweat—now, that stung.

“Fine. I’ll take them.”

“Thank you,” he said, handing over the bag. “You’re the best.” “That’s what all the boys say.”

He paused then, screwing up his aristocratic nose. I anticipated a response, but none was forthcoming. Instead he smiled blandly, leaning in to do the awkward divorcé cheek kiss. He was wearing cologne, which he’d never done in all his years with me.

I watched him make his way over to the driver’s side. “Where are you going? All dolled up . . .”

“Fund-raiser,” he said, getting into the car. “Katzenberg’s.” And with that, he pulled away. Leaving me holding the baggage.

 

I was not a fan of Vegas: loud, fat, dirty. The underbelly of Amer- ica convened in one garish skid mark in the desert. I’d visited once, years before, to attend a bachelorette party that I was still trying to forget. The smell of strip clubs and drugstore perfume and vomit. Those things linger. But this was not my adventure. This time I was just along for the ride. Isabelle and her friends had made that clear.

They spent that afternoon running circles around the resort on a quest to find their idols, while I followed dutifully. I had be- come accustomed to this: my passionate daughter trying any- and everything, setting her mind and forging her way. Isabelle and her American can-do spirit. There was trapeze school and figure skat- ing, musical theater, fencing . . . She was fearless, and I loved that about her, envied it even. I liked that she took risks, that she did not wait for permission, that she followed her heart. Isabelle was okay with living outside the lines.

I was hoping to convince the girls to visit the Contemporary Arts Center. It would have been nice to squeeze some real culture into the weekend. To imprint something worthwhile upon their im- pressionable minds. I’d spent countless hours trailing my mother through the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston as a child. Following the click of her Vivier heels, the scent of the custom-made fragrance she bought every summer in Grasse. How knowledgeable she was to me then, how womanly. I knew the halls of that museum as well as I knew my third-grade classroom. But Isabelle and her cohorts had balked at the idea.

“Mom, you know at any other time I would say yes. But this trip is diferent. Please?” she’d implored.

They’d come to Vegas for one reason only, and nothing would thwart their mission. “Our lives begin tonight,” Georgia, with the silky brown skin, had proclaimed on the flight in. Rose, the red- head, agreed, and the three quickly adopted it as their mantra. No expectation too high. They had their whole lives ahead of them. They were twelve.

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Review: The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You – Lily Anderson

Review: The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You – Lily AndersonThe Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
Published: May 17th 2016
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four-stars

Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West--and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing--down to number four.

Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben's, including give up sleep and comic books--well, maybe not comic books--but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it's time to declare a champion once and for all.

The war is Trixie's for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben's best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben's cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie's best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they're on--and they might not pick the same side.

I was told by a lot of people to read The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You. Gail actually told me to read it so much that I bought the book one day when I was with her. But then the book just sat and sat. Finally I just decided to pick it up and I’m so happy I did. It was cute and adorable and nerdy and fun. 

The Only Thing… is about a group of students that go to the super smart kid school. They are all nerdy geniuses that could test out of high school but instead go to a super competitive school for nerds together. Trixie is the main character and she has a goal Senior year and it is to beat her nemesis, Ben West, in class ranking. That’s all Trix wants and she is going to get it. That is until her best friend starts dating Ben’s best friend and weird things start happening at school. Soon Trixie has no idea what she wants. All she knows is she needs to stop what’s happening and she may just need Ben to do it.

I truly loved this book. It was predictable, but one of those predictable books you don’t mind. Ben and Trixie had amazing banter and were super quick witted. I loved watching their idea of the other change slowly and not over night. And I loved the friends they had that aided this change. They both needed a shove in the right direction and they got it. Truly the only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars was because it was slow in the beginning. But once it got started it really kept me sucked in.

The Only Thing… is definitely a book I would recommended.  It had a great mystery, a great friendship aspect, and a great romance. There were a ton of nerdy references (I admit I only understood about half) and ‘geek duels’. It was just a fun book that I would recommend. But man I needed more kissing. 😉

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Reading Goal

In January I look forward to setting my Goodread reading goal. Some years I have read my face off and have been super successful and some years I am an epic failure. This year I have fallen just around my goal which makes me super happy.

I had wanted to read 125 books in 2016 and I am just 7 away with a month to go. Totally a doable task I think. But that leaves me trying to figure out what books I want to end my year with. Well, these 7 have made the list (baring anything I’m dying for to show up in my mailbox or on Edelweiss or Netgalley)

Reading GoalHow to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore
Published by Imprint
Published: January 31st 2017
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Keep your enemies close, but your friends closer.

Olivia Clayton has mastered the art of tearing others down to stay on top. She and her best friend, Adrienne, rule their small southern town like all good mean girls do--through intimidation and manipulation.
After Olivia suffers a family tragedy and catches Adrienne sleeping with her boyfriend, Olivia is over it. She decides to make a change--but it's impossible to resist taking Adrienne down one last time. Up to her old tricks, Olivia convinces golden boy Whit DuRant to be her SAT tutor and her fake boyfriend. But when it starts to feel real, Whit gets caught up in Olivia and Adrienne's war.

Olivia may ruin everything she touches, but this time she won't go down without a fight--not if it means losing Whit.

And definitely not if it means losing what's left of herself.

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Reading GoalHard Hitter by Sarina Bowen
Published by Berkley Books
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From the USA Today bestselling author of Rookie Move comes the second novel in the series that s hot enough to melt the ice.

He s a fighter in the rink, but he s about to learn that playing nice can help you score...

As team captain and enforcer, Patrick O'Doul puts the bruise in the Brooklyn Bruisers. But after years of hard hits, O'Doul is feeling the burn, both physically and mentally. He conceals his pain from his coach and trainers, but when his chronic hip injury becomes too obvious to ignore, they send him for sessions with the team s massage therapist. After breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, Ari Bettini is in need of peace of mind. For now, she s decided to focus on her work: rehabilitating the Bruisers MVP. O'Doul is easy on the eyes, but his reaction to her touch is ice cold. Ari is determined to help O'Doul heal, but as the tension between them turns red hot, they both learn that a little TLC does the body good..."

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Reading GoalRules of Contact (Play-by-Play #12) by Jaci Burton
Published by Berkley
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In the new Play-By-Play novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Unexpected Rush, a football player who knows how to win on the field needs a better game plan for his love life.

A defensive end for the San Francisco Sabers, Flynn Cassidy is used to being in the spotlight—he just doesn’t enjoy it. But if getting in front of the cameras will help his new restaurant succeed, he’s willing. Now if he could just meet a woman who loved him and not his fame…

After her divorce, Amelia Lawrence is thrilled to start over as head chef at Ninety-Two. It’s just the opportunity she needs to heat up her career—if only she wasn’t wildly attracted to her sexy new boss. Their chemistry might be sizzling hot, but Amelia has no intention of being burned again.

Flynn can’t get enough of Amelia, and Amelia loves every second she spends with the tough yet tender Flynn. But trust is a hard-fought battle for both. Breaking the rules of contact and surrendering to their passion was the easy part. Are they willing to risk their hearts to win at the game of love?

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Reading GoalWait for Me by Caroline Leech
Published by HarperTeen
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The perfect blend of sweet romance and historical flavor, Wait for Me, from debut author Caroline Leech, brings a fresh new voice to a much-loved genre.

It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country?

But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him—from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany—the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate.

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Reading GoalFireworks by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer + Bray
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From the New York Times bestselling author of 99 Days and How to Love comes a stunning new contemporary novel—all about boy bands, girl bands, best friends, and first love—perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson.

It was always meant to be Olivia. She’s the talented one, the one who’s been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, is the levelheaded one, always on the sidelines, cheering Olivia on.

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.

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Reading GoalThe Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
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Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West--and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing--down to number four.

Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben's, including give up sleep and comic books--well, maybe not comic books--but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it's time to declare a champion once and for all.

The war is Trixie's for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben's best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben's cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie's best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they're on--and they might not pick the same side.

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Reading GoalHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5) by J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré
Published by Scholastic Inc.
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Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected...
Suspense, secrets and thrilling action from the pen of J.K. Rowling ensure an electrifying adventure that is impossible to put down.

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How did you do on your reading goal?

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Book Promo – Christmas in Paris by Anita Hughes

Book Promo – Christmas in Paris by Anita HughesChristmas in Paris by Anita Hughes
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
Published: October 4th 2016
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Christmas in Paris is a moving and heartwarming story about love, trust, and self-discovery. Set during the most magical week of the year, the glorious foods and fashions of the most romantic city in the world are sure to take your breath away.

Isabel Lawson is standing on the balcony of her suite at the Hotel Crillon as she gazes at the twinkling lights of the Champs Elysee and wonders if she’s made a terrible mistake. She was supposed to be visiting the Christmas tree in the Place de la Concorde, and eating escargots and macaroons with her new husband on their honeymoon. But a week before the wedding, she called it off. Isabel is an ambitious Philadelphia finance woman, and Neil suddenly decided to take over his grandparents’ farm. Isabel wasn’t ready to trade her briefcase for a pair of rubber boots and a saddle.

When Neil suggested she use their honeymoon tickets for herself, she thought it would give her a chance to clear her head. That is until she locks herself out on the balcony in the middle of winter. Thankfully her neighbor Alec, a French children’s illustrator, comes to her rescue. He too is nursing a broken heart at the Crillon for the holidays. With a new friend by her side, Isabel is determined to use her time in the city of lights wisely. After a chance encounter with a fortune teller and a close call with a taxi, she starts to question everything she thought was important.

Amazon || B&N || Indiebound

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About Anita Hughes

Anita Hughes is the author of Island in the Sea, Rome in Love, French Coast, Lake Como, Market Street, and Monarch Beach. She attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program. Hughes lives in Dana Point, California, where she is at work on her next novel. For more information about Anita and her books, visit anitahughesbooks.com.

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Praise

“Christmas. Paris. Star-crossed lovers. Yup, it’s the perfect holiday read!” —Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dashing Through the Snow

“Gorgeously festive and evocative, this is a compelling story filled with characters you truly care about. I adored it.” —Melissa Hill, USA Today bestselling author of The Charm Bracelet

“I was instantly transported back to France, once again strolling the Champs-Élysées, taking in the scents, the sights, the taste of Paris.  It doesn’t get any better than falling in love in La Ville-Lumiére, the City of Light, during the most magical time of year.  Delicious, delectable, and delightful!” —Donna Kauffman, USA Today Bestselling Author of Starfish Moon

“Hughes bring her signature combination of haute couture and high-society romance to Paris, adding a touch of magic and allowing us to live vicariously through Isabel as she falls in love in the most glamorous city in the world—and buys labels most women can only dream about. A charming modern-day fairy-tale romance.”Kirkus Reviews

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