This marks a full 6 months of actually putting out wrap ups every month and I am so proud of myself. Let’s congratulate me. This month I read 9 books, which is not my best but surpasses my monthly minimum of 8 so I’m pretty happy! I’ve read some cracking books this month, and had some disappointments. Let me know what your favourite this month was and how many you read!
1. Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian – 4.5 Stars
“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.”
I really enjoyed this one. It was a really classic, solid YA political fantasy. I know some people haven’t liked this one because it’s not particularly original, and I agree, but I don’t really mind that. It was well written and entertaining and I’m excited to get into the second book soon! Definitely for fans of YA political fantasies such as Three Dark Crowns and Girls of Paper and Fire.
2. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson – 5 Stars
“The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.
But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?”
This was such a surprising one! I adored this and completely was not expecting to. I haven’t enjoyed other YA thriller that much and have found them pretty average, such as S.T.A.G.S. and One Of Us Is Lying. But this was GREAT. It was exciting, kept me guessing, was so well plotted and intricate. Definitely goes up there with Truly Devious for one my favourite YA thrillers!
3. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater – 4 Stars
“Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.
The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.
Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.”
I like this series fine. This book was entertaining and whimsical, but I just feel like I’m missing something? Everyone adores this series so much and I just simply like it. We’ll see how it goes when I read the final book!
4. Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins – 5 Stars
“Millie Quint is devastated when she discovers that her sort-of-best friend/sort-of-girlfriend has been kissing someone else. And because Millie cannot stand the thought of confronting her ex every day, she decides to apply for scholarships to boarding schools . . . the farther from Houston the better.
Millie can’t believe her luck when she’s accepted into one of the world’s most exclusive schools, located in the rolling highlands of Scotland. Everything about Scotland is different: the country is misty and green; the school is gorgeous, and the students think Americans are cute.
The only problem: Mille’s roommate Flora is a total princess.
She’s also an actual princess. Of Scotland.
At first, the girls can barely stand each other–Flora is both high-class and high-key–but before Millie knows it, she has another sort-of-best-friend/sort-of-girlfriend. Even though Princess Flora could be a new chapter in her love life, Millie knows the chances of happily ever afters are slim . . . after all, real life isn’t a fairy tale . . . or is it?”
Was this the queer royalty romance of my dreams? Yes it was. I loved this so much, it was great and the characters were wonderful. I loved it much more than the first book, and I can’t wait to see what Rachel Hawkins does next.
5. Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan – 3 Stars
“A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.
A prince in danger must decide who to trust.
A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.
Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.
In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light.”
I won’t say much about this one because I wrote a pretty in depth review of it (here). It was pretty disappointing, honestly. It was so hyped up so I was expecting great things but I just found a lot of flaws in the plot and writing. Not sure if I’ll carry on with this series.
6. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory – 3.5 Stars
“Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.
On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…
After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can’t stop thinking about the other…
They’re just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century–or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want…”
This was just a fun, cutesy romance. I enjoyed it and it was the perfect lighthearted read for a summer afternoon. It was pretty badly written, honestly, and full of tropes and cliches but I did really have fun with it! I had to give it an extra half for the great racial awareness and our MC calling the LI out on his white privilege on multiple times, which was met with discussion and acceptance.
7. Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – 5 Stars
“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?”
This brings us onto my favourite book of the month! Another queer royalty romance, you say? Yes! And I’m so not mad that this subgenre has become a thing. This was a refreshing new take on a lot of old favourite tropes (enemies-to-lovers, royalty etc) and super super enjoyable, but also really important. The social climate of America, and hope for the future play a huge part in this story. It’s a message to say that the world is changing and the youth of today can make new history. It was heartwarming and beautiful. I listened to the audiobook of this at first because I’m on a book-buying ban, but as soon as I got into it and bought the book. I want to show through my patronage and money that this is the sort of content that I want to see. A romance book with actual explict gay sex scenes? I’ve never read something like that before and this is the kind of book we should all be supporting. I’m also delighted to hear that it’s been optioned for a film! Just pick up this book, go for it, I urge you!
8. The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty – 3.75 Stars
“Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.
But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.
In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.
After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for…”
I liked this one, but the first half was honestly quite dull and nothing much happened. It was all set up for the trilogy, which I appreciate because it’s a complex world, but there was just too much and it was too long. The ending was pretty exciting though, and I enjoyed it much more once I picked up the audiobook so I think I’ll be listening exclusively to the audio for the sequel.
9. The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield – 4 Stars
“The Provincial Lady has a nice house, a nice husband (usually asleep behind The Times), and nice children. In fact, maintaining Niceness is the Provincial Lady’s goal in life—her raison d’être. She never raises her voice, rarely ventures outside Devon (why would she?), only occasionally allows herself to become vexed by the ongoing servant problem, and would be truly appalled by the confessional mode that has gripped the late 20th century. The Provincial Lady, after all, is part of what made Britain great.”
This was such a fun, underrated classic! It’s the perspective of a middle-class 1930s housewife, with just the witty snippets of her life and thoughts. It was really enjoyable to read this throughout the month, just reading a couple of diary entries each day. It’s funny because her motherly humour is very similar to my mum’s, despite the 90 year time gap!