Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

One Last Stop [review]

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on June 1, 2021
my rating: 3 stars
Goodreads avg:
4.02 (as of 2022-08-06)
Spoiler-free review

disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. Quotes have been taken from the advanced copy and may differ from the final publication.

Jane is spun sugar. A switchblade girl with a cotton-candy heart.

I wish I could put my finger on why this didn’t quite work for me. Maybe I went in with my expectations too high: I loved Red, White and Royal Blue and I was so excited for McQuiston to put out a sapphic romance as well. Most of my friends — people I share reading tastes with — gave the book five stars. But I was able to put this down for four days after hitting the halfway point because I didn’t feel compelled to continue.

Looking back, I think I found August a little unbelievable as a character. In fact, her whole group of friends made me feel more like I was reading a sitcom than a story I could really immerse myself into. I read plenty of sff and horror, so I don’t necessarily need realism in my books but I do need to feel like the characters are real people and I just didn’t get that here. I found myself skimming a lot throughout the second half of the book because I really just wanted to finish it.

That being said, this book still made me really emotional! That McQuiston can tug on my heartstrings in a story I’m not attached to is a testament to their writing. I had to put down the book at one point because I was reading during downtime at work and didn’t want to cry in front of any customers. I think if I had read it earlier, I may have gotten along with it better so I would definitely take my outlook with a grain of salt — especially because I’m in a clear minority.

Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Red, White & Royal Blue [review]

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on May 14, 2019
my rating: ★★★★★
Goodreads avg: 
4.50 (as of 2019-05-14)
disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own. All quotes have been taken from the advanced copy and are subject to change upon publication.

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

A big-hearted romantic comedy in which the First Son falls in love with the Prince 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?

I put this on my TBR when I saw it on Reads Rainbow’s Enemies to Lovers rec list (PS pls follow their blog, Charlotte and Anna share some wonderful stuff and are always beefing up my to-read list!). I was #BLESSED with a review copy from Netgalley and have spent the last week and a half getting my heart destroyed by this book.

Straight people, he thinks, probably don’t spend this much time convincing themselves they’re straight.

RW&RB is a skillful combination of both the “enemies to lovers” and “fake relationship” tropes, although the fake relationship is a fake friendship rather than fake dating. The main character, Alex, is a bisexual biracial angel who falls in love with the (extremely gay) Prince Henry of Wales after plenty of angst and a lot of drama. I will admit it’s a little instalove-y, if that’s something that bothers you. Luckily it’s not something I mind and I found their relationship so, so precious!

[…] Henry, who knows him. Henry who’s seen him in glasses and tolerates him at his most annoying and still kissed him like he wanted him, singularly, not the idea of him.

The side characters are equally wonderful and McQuiston does an incredible job of fleshing them out. The two we see the most are Alex’s older sister June and his best-friend-sort-of-ex Nora who is openly queer, although I don’t think she uses any particular label on-page. There are several other queer side characters, including a trans woman and a pansexual character. I love that this book kind of demonstrates how we gays tend to stick together, since I’d say a good 95% of my friends have identified as lgbtqia.

He rolls onto his side and listens, trails the back of his hand across the pillow next to him and imagines Henry lying opposite in his own bed, two parentheses enclosing 3,700 miles.

Besides containing a truly unbelievably cute romance, this book explores discovering your sexuality, politics, and mental health. Alex and Henry have very different feelings about their lives in the public eye, and the expectations set upon them as the children of leaders conflict with what they’d prefer to do with themselves. Henry also deals with depression, which is touched on but isn’t the focus of the story.

“Ugh! Men!” she groans. “No emotional vocabulary. I can’t believe our ancestors survived centuries of wars and plagues and genocide just to wind up with your sorry ass.”

Overall, I just loved this book more than I can even convey. I cried several times reading it and am positive I’ll return to it in the future. It’s fluffy, it’s steamy, it’s political, and it is quite honestly PERFECT. Casey McQuiston is heading straight to my insta-read author list.

Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook