It feels almost wrong to be posting about books with everything going on in the world right now, but I need this little corner for my own mental health and well-being. The murder of George Floyd and the ensuing protests for justice have once again shown me how little Black lives mean in the structure of American society. This is nothing new to me. I’ve known this for practically my whole life, considering I’m Black. Mixed and light-skinned, yes, but still Black. But I realize that I am privileged in so many ways and I, and everyone else who has certain privileges, needs to use them for good. Not just during times like these, but always.
While I and many others may not be able to physically join the protests for various reasons, we can still use our voices to speak out by signing petitions. We can donate. We can confront the racism that exists in our own lives, in our social groups, in our families. We must continue to shout to the world that Black lives matter.
Please join me in that. We cannot stay silent, now or ever.
Now, back to books.
Disappointed to say that I didn’t read much in April and May, two months that went by fairly quick. And what I did read… well, there were more duds than good reads.
(And please note, all of these reviews and my end note were written in April and early May, so my tone is a little more light-hearted than these times currently call for)
Here’s what I read in April and May…
(all summaries and covers from Goodreads)
1. Romancing the Throne by Nadine Jolie Courtney
For the first time ever, the Weston sisters are at the same boarding school. After an administration scandal at Libby’s all-girls school threatens her chances at a top university, she decides to join Charlotte at posh and picturesque Sussex Park. Social-climbing Charlotte considers it her sisterly duty to bring Libby into her circle: Britain’s young elites, glamorous teens who vacation in Hong Kong and the South of France and are just as comfortable at a polo match as they are at a party.
It’s a social circle that just so happens to include handsome seventeen-year-old Prince Edward, heir to Britain’s throne.
If there are any rules of sisterhood, “Don’t fall for the same guy” should be one of them. But sometimes chemistry—even love—grows where you least expect it. In the end, there may be a price to pay for romancing the throne…and more than one path to happily ever after.
1.75 out of 5 stars
This wasn’t great. I didn’t enjoy reading about Charlotte or Libby, plus the writing felt awfully American at times for a book set at an elite British boarding school starring British characters. Just awful, petty drama. Even if I had read this as a teenager, I don’t think I would have found myself excited by their drama—and this is coming from someone who loved the Gossip Girl books.
2. Trashed by Mia Hopkins
He burns for her. Lucky for him, she likes to play with fire. . .
My name is Eddie Rosas, but everyone calls me Trouble. Since I got out of prison six months ago, I’ve had one goal: find my father, whatever the cost. My older brother says I need to move on. He also wants me to leave our gang, East Side Hollenbeck, and go straight, but I can’t—not until I uncover the truth about our family and its missing piece.
One problem? I’m distracted. My distraction’s name is Carmen Centeno. Smart, passionate, and tough as hell, Carmen is a woman from the neighborhood who’s built her career as one of the city’s top chefs. She’s a master of creating pleasure both in and out of bed. But when our connection deepens, how can I show her I’m not the trash everyone says I am?
The pressure’s rising. Carmen deserves a man she can depend on. And when the ghosts of my past rise up, I’ll have to outsmart them—or lose my shot at a future with the only woman who believes in me.
4.25 out of 5 stars
This one started off with a bang. Like, literally. The two characters are getting it on in the prologue. That’ll hook a reader.
I enjoyed this one A LOT more than I did the first book in this series. It seems all the concerns I had in that one were addressed and fixed in this one. Can’t wait for the third book in the series now.
3. Now & Forever by Susane Colasanti
What if your boyfriend was the world’s biggest rockstar?
Sterling is crazy in love with Ethan. Not only is he the sweetest boy she’s ever met, but he’s an incredibly talented guitarist, singer, and songwriter. And since forever, he’s believed he has what it takes to be a star.
When Ethan becomes an overnight sensation, he’s thrown head-first into the glam world of celebrity-and so is Sterling. Before she knows it, she’s attending red-carpet premieres, getting free designer clothes, and flying around the country to attend Ethan’s monumental sold-out concerts.
It’s a dream come true…but whose dream is Sterling living? And what do you do when “forever” comes to an end?
1 out of 5 stars
but I would give it negative stars if possible
I was hesitant to start reading this because I’m in the middle of writing something about a boy band and didn’t want this to influence me. Whew. No worries about that. If anything, it showed me what I didn’t want my story to be like.
The two MCs are literally saying “I love you” after a month of dating. A month!! And oh my god it’s all so cringy. It’s like watching 12 year olds try to flirt, and these characters are supposed to be seniors in high school. It’s embarrassing. And the references to things in pop culture, like youtube videos and memes, that become inside jokes with them is just… I physically shuddered while reading this. Whoever edited this and let this woman get away with writing those scenes needs to take a good, hard look at their choices. If they’d actually done their job, this book would have been half as long. I am genuinely angry about how bad it is.
And the irony is that the FMC wants to be “a book publisher” all because she hates typos!!! I genuinely can’t. I cannot. She wants to “preserve the English language.” Well, I think the first step for doing that is to make sure books like the one she’s in get some decent editing.
The relationship is awful. Sterling is awful. Ethan is awful. I don’t think I’ve hated characters this much in a long time.
I might have given this book 2-stars if I’d read it as an 11 year old. But I can’t imagine this book is marketed towards readers that young considering all the lovey-dovey crap. I’m sure someone out there enjoyed this book, but it sure as heck wasn’t me.
4. Royal Watch by Stacey Marie Brown
There are many stories about regular girls meeting a prince, falling in love, and living happily ever after…blah, blah, blah.
This is not that story.
As a lowly Baron’s daughter, I sit on the outskirts of the noble circle, watching the royal family from afar. Exactly where I’d rather be. To me that world was anything but magical or fantasy, their lives under a relentless microscope, controlled by traditions and expectations. I was the girl dreaming about becoming a veterinarian and surrounding myself with animals instead of people.
A wallflower who suddenly bloomed, I somehow nabbed the attention of the arrogant, but undeniably handsome, Theodore Alexander Philip Robert David Livingston.
The Prince of Great Victoria.
I never imagined falling in love with a prince, but I did.
When Theo comes back from the Royal Air Force with an extremely sexy, but extremely arrogant new bodyguard, Lennox Easton, everything is flipped upside down. Tattooed, mysterious, and cruel, our mutual hatred for each becomes even more complicated when I move into the palace, becoming the official girlfriend of Prince Theo, and now under Lennox’s watch.
Thrown in a society which controls my every move, social media viciously coming after me, and paparazzi looking for any juicy gossip, my world becomes a cage. Glided or not, my life becomes nothing as I imagined, I find myself turning to the very last person I should.
When family secrets start to surface from the past, old enemies come for revenge, along with blackmail, forbidden love, and devastating revelations.
Everything is set to bring me down and even take my life.
I knew loving a prince would come with sacrifices, but when you give up everything …when does the fairytale become a nightmare?
1 out of 5 stars
Oh, boy. This did not start off strong. To be honest, the first chapter reminded me of a typical Wattpad teen fiction story from 2013. “I’m a late bloomer! I used to be ugly but now apparently people think I’m pretty! Oh, I’m an outsider! The popular kids are stupid! I’m not like other girls! The prince has fallen in love with me!” That was an immediate strike against it. Actually, all the characters were awful. Plus, the actual writing was so hard to follow. Choppy sentences, phrases that didn’t quite make sense even after reading them a few times, etc. I was immediately turned off by it.
Still, I gave it a chance, hoping it would get better. Or at least be edited better.
I don’t know why I held out hope.
The second chapter was somehow even worse. I managed to get through the eighth chapter, but that was it. Skimmed the rest, but I probably should have just DNF’d it.
5. The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow
This novel of the drug trade takes you deep inside a world riddled with corruption, betrayal, and bloody revenge.
Art Montana is an obsessive DEA agent. The Barrera brothers are heirs to a drug empire. Nora Hayden is a jaded teenager who becomes a high-class hooker. Father Parada is a powerful and incorruptible Catholic priest. Callan is an Irish kid from Hell’s Kitchen who grows up to be a merciless hitman. And they are all trapped in the world of the Mexican drug Federaci.
From the streets of New York City to Mexico City and Tijuana to the jungles of Central America, this is the war on drugs like you’ve never seen it.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Okay this took me literally forever to read (it’s really long, okay!!) but holy CRAP. This was… so good. So good. It would have gotten a full five stars if it had been just a little shorter and a tiny bit less dense (it could feel very history book-esque at times), but I was absolutely hooked on this. Can’t wait to read The Cartel.
6. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.
Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…
3 out of 5 stars
I sped through this book. With short chapters and less than 400 ebook pages on my iPad, it felt like a quick, entertaining read. After every chapter, I was always left wanting to turn the page, which is always encouraging. That said, the ending… hm. After thinking about it for a while, I’m gonna say I didn’t really care for it. I found it… disappointing. The first 2/3rds of the book would have been a 4-star read for me, but the last 1/3 definitely knocked it down to 3.
Wow, two months and I’ve barely read anything. I’ve lost my five-book lead on my Goodreads Challenge, which I figured would happen eventually. Considering I’ve been in quarantine this whole time, thought I would have had more time to read than ever, but work has gotten much busier. And since I no longer have that eight-hour roundtrip commute to NYC every month, my once dedicated reading time is gone. Still, I’m really hoping to read more this summer.
Have you read anything good lately? Any suggestions for me? Let me know in the comments!