Top Ten Tuesday | Spring 2019 Releases That I’ve Read

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

Hello, friends! Yesterday, I told you all the Spring reads that I would like to get to that I haven’t read yet! Well, this week I’m going to tell you about all the Spring reads that I have read, thanks to all the wonderful publishers! (Click on each individual review for in-depth thoughts and trigger warnings!) 🌷🌸🌻🌺🌼

Once & Future (Once & Future #1) by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan

The Red Scrolls of Magic (The Eldest Curses #1) by Cassandra Clare & Wesley Chu

Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor #3) by Mark Lawrence

The Devouring Gray (The Devouring Gray #1) by Christine Lynn Herman

When Summer Ends by Jessica Pennington

Ghosts of the Shadow Market (Ghosts of the Shadow Market #1-10) by Cassandra Clare
(8/10 Complete!)

Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2) by Helen Hoang

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

I can’t believe how many of these that I absolutely loved! Have you read any Spring releases yet? Let me know your favorite so I can add it to my never ending TBR! And I hope you all are having the happiest of reading, loves! 💕

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Top Ten Tuesday | Spring 2019 Releases That I Want to Read

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

Okay, so this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a two part blog post! This week I’m going to talk about all the upcoming Spring releases that I’m excited for and that I haven’t read yet! Tomorrow, I’m going to talk about all the Spring releases that I’ve already read and reviewed! But here are the books that I’m hoping to get to this Spring season, and I apologize in advance for it being a little more than ten! 🌷🌸🌻

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Normal People by Sally Rooney

When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

The Tiger at Midnight (The Tiger at Midnight Trilogy #1) by Swati Teerdhala

Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan

If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

You Must Not Miss by Katrina Leno

A Prince on Paper (Reluctant Royals #3) by Alyssa Cole

We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1) by Hafsah Faizal

Finale (Caraval #3) by Stephanie Garber

I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

The Wise and the Wicked by Rebecca Podos

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Seven Blades in Black (The Grave of Empires #1) by Sam Sykes

Whew! That was A LIST! But I am seriously so excited for all of these releases and I hope they are all five star worthy! Let me know what your most anticipated Spring release is this year! And I hope you’re all having the happiest of reading! 💖

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Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

“Is it possible you willfully forgot about the biggest international event of the year because you don’t want to see your arch nemesis?”

I honestly do not think that any book has made me happier than Red, White & Royal Blue, ever. I laughed, I swooned, I cried, but, most importantly, I finished the last page and felt such a powerful amount of hope that transcends any amount of words that I could possibly string together for this review. This is easily the best debut novel I’ve ever read, and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if it ends up being my favorite book of the entire year.

First off, in this story, the characters are living in a world where the President of the United States is a democratic woman who was elected after Obama, and her 2020 reelection is quickly approaching. And I just need to take a minute to… *cries forever*! But this book really focuses on two young men, who happen to be very much in the media’s spotlight 24/7, because of the families they were born into. Oh, and one of them happens to be the First Son of the President, and up until this point he thought he was straight, that is until he finally is forced to spend time with his arch nemesis. And I’ll be damned, but this book made me simultaneously believe in love and believe in America.

Alexander Gabriel Claremont-Diaz – The First Son, who is quickly realizing that he is bisexual, but slowly coming out to those he feels safe with. Alex is also biracial (Mexican and white) and (thanks to my beautiful friend Alienor) confirmed to have ADHD!

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

Henry George Edward James Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor – A Prince of England, who is closeted gay to many in his family (and to all media), because he constantly feels the weight of the expectations placed on him by his family and his country.

“O, fathers of my bloodline! O, ye kings of olde! Take this crown from me, bury me in my ancestral soil. If only you had known the mighty work of thine loins would be undone by a gay heir who likes it when American boys with chin dimples are mean to him.”

Alex has followed Henry and his fame long before his mother became president. But at the start of this novel, both men officially meet, but quickly get into a very messy predicament at a royal wedding they were both attending, which ends up being a PR nightmare for both countries, but especially for Alex’s mom, who is up for reelection. So, they are both kind of forced to fake a friendship to appease the press to save face. But a fake friendship quickly turns to a romance, that leaves both men questioning what they are willing to risk, while the press is always watching.

“First, you’ve been, like, Draco Malfoy–level obsessed with Henry for years—do not interrupt me—and since the royal wedding, you’ve gotten his phone number and used it not to set up any appearances but instead to long-distance flirt with him all day every day.”

I also wanted to make sure that I stated in my review that the author is queer (I believe they ID as bisexual, like Alex!) And even though Alex and Henry are obviously queer in their m/m relationship, this book also has such a beautiful and full cast of diverse side characters! I’m completely willing to give my life for June, Nora, Pez, and Bea, right this very second.

Like, I absolutely loved the side characters in this book. Also, you all know that I am always here for strong sibling relationships, and this book has that in spades! Alex’s family in general was everything to me; both of his parents being so supportive and always putting him (and his pace) first really meant a lot to me and makes me so soft just thinking about it. Seriously, this book is found family and blood family goals.

The banter and one-liners were perfection. This author completely understands what it is like to speak and text in your twenties, and they have mastered the craft to perfection. I was either cackling like a banshee or clutching my pearls with heart eyes during all of Alex and Henry’s exchanges. Also, since there is an ocean in-between these two, they correspond a lot of the time through emails, all of which added five years to my life.

Speaking of those emails, the romance in this is just truly a tier above the rest! The dynamic that Henry and Alex are forced into, and then the new dynamics they are forced to overcome, makes for something that you can’t help but root for with everything in your soul. Also, they are truly polar opposites with their personalities, but seeing them together truly feels like you are witnessing soulmates interact. I hate to say this but, your OTP could never.

And obviously because of the setup of this novel, this book does not shy away from US politics, and you should for sure know that going in. But the most tears I shed in this book was when Alex talked about what he felt like to be a biracial kid, and how America truly is a melting pot of immigrants and how that is something beautiful, and should be celebrated, not shamed and something that people consider to be a crime.

This is a book about two men, both in their early- twenties, discovering what they want for their lives and for their countries. Both for themselves and together. In a world that is cruelly unaccepting to anyone who isn’t white and straight, or who are just deemed different. They find friendship, they find love, and they find their voices. And to this Filipino American, pansexual, whose grandparents are both immigrants, who a lot of times really struggles to find their own voice, it meant the world to me. I’ll carry this book with me forever and always.

Overall, this book was just everything I’ve ever wanted. Put your library holds and preorders in now, because I know that so many readers are not only going to fall in love with this tale, but it is going to be one of their favorites for the rest of their lives. I promise you, it is truly that good, and this truly feels like a once in a lifetime book. Casey McQuiston has created something that is going to mean so much to so many readers, and this book is going to bring so much joy to our much-needed world. I’m just forever thankful that I was able to escape into it for a little while, while doing everything I can to make my country’s 2020 and on just as hopeful.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and Trigger Warnings for homophobia (always in a negative light), talk of racism in media, anxiety depiction, talk of cancer (pancreatic) in the past, talk of past loss of a loved one, talk of past drug use, talk of attempted sexual assault (very briefly) in the past from a very minor side character, and (in my opinion) outing. Also, this is a New Adult novel, so there are many sexual scenes throughout this book, even though they are fade to black for the most part!

❤ I also gush about this in my February Wrap Up on BookTube!

Buddy Read with Kerri from Kerri The Book Belle! ❤

❤ I also read this for Contemporary-a-thon!

Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner

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“There’s something about witnessing something holy with someone you love, because you take that sacred thing and weave it, like a golden thread, into the fabric of your togetherness.”

Oh, friends! I feel so torn on this one. I do want to start this review off by saying that my dear friend Julie sent this to me, and a few of our other friends, as a traveling book so we could all record our thoughts and feelings with annotations! And, luckily for me, I was the last person to get the book, so I really loved being able to experience the story for myself, but to also see how my friends felt throughout their reading process, too!

But this is the very first book from Jeff Zentner that I’ve read, even though he has written so many of my best friends’ favorite book(s) of all time! And I’ll be honest, I was instantly completely captivated and enthralled by his writing and story crafting. I also love the Tennessee setting, the small town atmosphere, the poverty representation, and the spotlight on mental health more than I have words to express. But I was so torn on these two characters that it made for a truly strange reading experience that had me constantly conflicted at what to rate this story. (I’ll go into detail later in this review, but Delia’s storyline was easily five stars from me, where I still kind of want to hit Josie’s perspective with a one star!)

Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee is a story all about friendship, and growing up, and becoming the person you want to be, while surrounding yourself with people who unconditionally love you and who are willing to unconditionally support you. This tale focuses on two girls who have poured their hearts, their tears, their sweat, and many years into hosting Midnite Matinee, which is a show that is broadcasted on a few TV stations, where these two girls celebrate their mutual love for old horror movies. And these two girls, celebrating dated scary movies, have really carved out a piece of happiness for themselves and for so many watchers at home. Yet, their senior year of high school is steadily coming to a close, and they are both becoming more and more unsure of what the future of Midnite Matinee will be.

“Sometimes small and unspectacular things can be a universe.”

Josie / Rayne – Feeling the weight of her parents’ expectations, while also trying to balance her dreams of a career on television. She is very unsure which university she wants to go to; the one her parents want for her, which also has a once in a lifetime opportunity, or staying close to her hometown so that she can still make the show with her best friend.

Delia / Delilah – Living her life in fear that the people she loves will one day abandon her, after waking up to find her father gone when she was little. And she is trying to figure out if she is chasing her own dreams, or the dreams of a man who left her without a goodbye.

“Someday I’d love to know why the people with the least to lose are always losing the little they have.”

I would die for Delia. Completely. Her character was expertly done and she made me feel every emotion in the entire world. Josie? Not so much. I understand that you have to do what is right for you, and live the life you want to live, but Josie did so many things that I just thought were uncalled for and she really never seemed like a good friend or a good person, honestly.

There is also a romantic subplot with Josie and an MMA fighter who helped the girls on their show one night. His name is Lawson and I believe he is biracial (white and Latinx), and he was a joy to read. And between us? He could have done a whole hell of a lot better than Josie.

But we get to see both of these girls (and Lawson) got on a road trip to a horror convention, where they are going to put it all on the line, one last time, and try to make it big with their show. But during the trip, both girls learn a lot about themselves and the wounds they were pretending were healed.

I really loved how this book constantly talks about medication and normalizes the use of antidepressants. This is a constant theme for Delia and her mother, and this book also touches on how mental health issues can be passed down, and how it is important to make sure you are putting yourself and your mental health first and getting treatment.

“It wasn’t a perfect day, but it’s worth hanging on to.”

I will say that this book took a really unrealistic and very unexpected turn towards the end of the novel and it left a really weird taste in my mouth. It honestly felt straight up out of a cartoon or something, and I feel like it felt so out of place compared to the rest of the book.

I also feel like there was a last minute addition to this story that was very reminiscent of a John Green tearjerker moment, and… I don’t think the book needed it. Both girls (one likable, one not) and their struggles were valid and heartfelt enough to not add something that felt so out of the blue just to make the reader cry.

Overall, I really did enjoy this one. And I never really wanted to put it down. But that random, mustache twirling villain, and Josie being truly an insufferable character, I just can’t give this book more than a three star rating. But I am very excited to see what Jeff Zentner does next, and I am really looking forward to going back and reading his back-list, because this book truly held some of the most beautiful writing and a truly unforgettable character who I will carry with me forever.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for heavy abandonment, grief depiction, depression depiction, talk of suicide, brief mention of cancer, brief mention of loss of a loved one, and food and weight related things that could be potentially triggering.

Shades of Magic, Vol. 1: The Steel Prince (#1 – #4) by V.E. Schwab & Andrea Olimpieri

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“Here, our story begins…”

I read the entire A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy, and I ended up giving them all three stars. I am absolutely obsessed with Victoria’s mind and worlds, and her characters are truly some of the best I’ve read, but the plot and events always held me back from completely loving them. But when I found out we were going to get to learn more about Rhy’s father (adoptive father of Kell) and the events that lead him to being King, I knew I couldn’t resist. But here I am, still surprised that I ended up giving the prequel graphic novel series start three stars.

Maxim Maresh is only a prince in this brand-new graphic novel series, but he is the sole heir and the king in waiting in Red London. Yet, he wants to be so much more than that, and he wants to prove that he will be capable and earn his rightful place as king one day. Maxim and his family are also people of color, with obvious dark brown skin, but it is never stated what ethnicity in this made up alternate historical London. And he has earned himself the title of The Steel Prince because of his magical affinity with steel.

But in this bind-up, Maxim gets involved with pirates, and magical tournaments, and figuring out who he wants to be. Yet, this first volume barely mentions the parallel Londons, which (to me) is the coolest part of this world, completely. And then with this elaborate magic system finally being visualized, it just felt clunky, and like it missed the mark completely on something that could have been groundbreaking.

“You fight like a royal. Like the weapons are made of wood. Like no one means to hurt you. But this is not London, your highness.”

But my biggest problem with this graphic novel was honestly the art. Trust me, it kills me to say this, but I just never grew to like the style of this book. And especially with something as cool as the world of ADSOM, I feel like an artist really could have turned this into one of the most aesthetically pleasing series of all time, especially with red, grey, black, and white having such a pivotal role in this world. But I don’t have an art degree, so don’t listen to me. I’m just stating what I would have liked more for this story! The artist is still very talented. And if this is your favorite art style of all time? You are valid.

I still really enjoyed this bind-up and I can’t wait to see where the story goes next. I hope we get to see more cameos of characters we love, too! And if you are already a fan of VE Schwab and this breathtaking world, I bet you will absolutely love this addition! Content and trigger warnings violence, blood, and torture.

Okay, so like with every graphic novel that I review, I always do a breakdown on what happens briefly in each individual issue. So, the next portion of this review will have SPOILERS! Obviously, I won’t give away anything too pivotal, but I will talk about some of the themes that each issue had inside.

We get to meet Maxim, the prince and sole heir to the throne. We also get to meet the king, and his dad, Nokil. And we also get our first glimpse at Maxim wanting to be more than the prince in waiting, and he wants to prove himself and his fighting abilities.

We are introduced to Arisa, the pirate queen, and we get to learn about a tournament where the winner will fight her to prove themselves worthy. Also, we get to see the Black Torch, and you know my pub loving heart was so dang happy.

Isra, the pirate queen’s niece, and Maxim are both battling in the tournament where we see so many different magic abilities, and we learn there are no rules and anything goes.

Things do not go Maxim’s way, but he is rescued. Then, after, he receives a letter from his father, asking him to come. But he declines because he still has so much more to learn.

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Top Ten Tuesday | My Favorite Standalone Books

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

I feel like amazing standalones are hard to find! Especially since I’m a predominantly SFF blogger, living in a world that loves series! Don’t get me wrong, I always want more of my favorite worlds and favorite characters, but sometimes a good standalone is just so pleasing to read! So, I wanted to talk about some of my favorites today! 💗

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Circe by Madeline Miller

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Okay, friends! That’s it! I hope you enjoyed! Please, let me know one of your favorite standalone reads! I’m always looking for more! And I hope you are all having the happiest of reading, loves! 💗

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Dragons & Tea Book Club | April Pick

dragons & tea

Hey, loves! Okay, today we are announcing our April pick for the #DragonsAndTeaBookClub! I’m extra excited about this pick, because the author has made it on my end of the year favorite books lists for both 2017 and 2018! Also, I just love the author with my whole heart and soul and I’m not sure what the world has done to deserve her, or her prose which is a tier above most everyone. But the book we picked is an ownvoices Latinx Magical Realism story, all about a Latina girl and an Italian-Pakistani trans boy falling in love with each other. 💗

And we hope that you all will join us in our Goodreads Group, too! 🐉☕

But we also will be celebrating and talking with you all on Twitter and Instagram using the (hashtag) #DragonsAndTeaBookClub!

But without further ado, our April pick is:

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore


➽ The Dates & Breakdown:
April 8th: Page 1 – 56 – Bay of Trust
April 9th: Page 57 – 107 – Sea of Waves
April 10th: Page 108 – 156 – Sea of Tranquility 
April 11th: Page 157 – 217 – Bay of Dew
April 12th: Page 218 – END

Content and Trigger Warnings for:
Abusive parents, mention of death of a parent in the past, torture, blackmail, blood, & misgendering of trans characters (I’m assuming ALWAYS in a negative light!)
(From K’s Amazing Review!)

And if you’d like to be friends with me and Amy on any other platform:
🐉☕ Melanie: BooktubeInstagram | Twitter | Goodreads
🐉☕ Amy: BooktubeInstagram | Twitter | Goodreads