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American Royals by Katharine McGee

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I loved Katharine McGee's Thousandth Floor series (although I still need to read the final book!) so I was excited to see that she had a new release coming out. American Royals is the story about the American Royal Family, or what the country would look like today if George Washington became king rather than president. 

Beatrice is laser-focused on her role as future Queen. Samantha is grappling with being the "extra," the future Queen's sister with no real point or direction in life. The younger brother Jeff is trying to have a normal love life with a commoner, and Nina (the commoner) is struggling with having a royal boyfriend and best friend (Sam). And outsider Daphne is just trying to get her clutches into everything.

This story was told from something like 5 different perspectives, some of which were more useful than the others. Beatrice reminded me a lot of Elizabeth in The Crown, accepting her duty without hesitation (most of the time). I thought Samantha was way too entitled, Jeff was clueless, Nina was naive, and Daphne was just plain cruel. I didn't really like any of the characters except for Beatrice, and even then I think it was more that I felt bad for her rather than truly liked her. I did like the pop culture references in this book, and occasional nods to the British Royal Family, but overall I was pretty let down.

I honestly don't know if this is supposed to be a standalone or the first in a series. If it's a standalone, I'm super disappointed in the ending. And if it's a series, unfortunately I'm not sure I liked it enough to continue. **Sidebar: Just looked it up. It's a series. Crap. ** 

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

I received an ARC of this book at the ALA Annual Conference. American Royals by Katharine McGee is out now!

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I have finally started to venture out of my Christina Lauren romance cocoon and branch out to some other romance authors! Jasmine Guillory is one I've seen mentioned a lot, so I decided to pick up The Wedding Date. 

When Alexa and Drew are stranded in a hotel elevator together, Drew spontaneously asks Alexa to be his date to a wedding he is dreading: the wedding of his ex-girlfriend and his best friend. Alexa agrees, thinking it would just be a weekend of fun in her chaotic life, because after all, they live in different cities and Drew told her he doesn't do relationships. But when the two have a fantastic time at the wedding and want to keep seeing each other, things get complicated. What are they to each other, and how long can this possibly last?

I'm really falling in love with these romantic comedy reads. Yes, they're incredibly predictable. But I think that's why I like them! You can just enjoy the journey of the story rather than worrying about what will happen or trying to guess the outcome of the plot. I loved Alexa's character in this book, especially her confidence in herself and her high-powered job. I adored the side character Carlos as well, and thought he provided some great comic relief and support to Drew throughout the story. Overall it was a super cute and enjoyable romantic comedy.

Can't wait to pick up The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory next since it features Carlos as a main character!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Graphic Novel Mash-Up Review #2

Halloween is quickly approaching, so I have been all about the spooky reads! I just can't get enough of these, so today's mash-up review is for 3 middle-grade spooky graphic novels. Even though I didn't love them all, they will definitely set the mood for the Halloween season!

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreadds
Suee and the Shadow by Ginger Ly and Molly Park: In this story, Suee finds her shadow come to life right around the time that kids in her school are turning into zombies. Could her shadow be behind this, and if so, how does Suee stop it and get her friends back? This one really seemed like a knock-off of Anya's ghost to me, but not nearly as good. I liked the art, but the story left much to be desired.
2 out of 5 Stars

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel: When a ghost hunter comes into the human world, Garth is accidentally taken back to the spirit world with him. He has to figure out a way back before the evil mayor of Ghostopolis gets him, and he even gets to meet the ghost of his grandfather along the way. I loved this story! I really enjoyed this art style, and there were some super cool skeleton animals in this one!
4 out of 5 Stars

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads

Graveyard Shakes by Laura Terry: In this graphic novel, sisters Victoria and Katia go off to boarding school. When they get in a fight and Katia runs away, she finds herself in the underworld of a graveyard. Victoria has to find and help her before Katia falls victim to madman Nikola. Unfortunately this one was way too all over the place for me. It had some good lessons in it, but the story was extremely hard to follow and disconnected.

2 out of 5 Stars

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
This book was so unique and wonderful and I absolutely loved it! Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia is the perfect adult paranormal mystery thriller for this spooky season and was completely up my alley. Tuesday Mooney has always been a little odd. She wears all black, she's obsessed with all things dark and spooky, and she doesn't have a lot of close friends. But she's completely content with that. When a wealthy man in her city dies (who is named Vincent Pryce, btw!) and leaves behind a whale of a scavenger hunt, Tuesday finds herself teaming up with the few people in her life she has ever let get close to her, and finds out how much they mean to her in the process.

It's so hard to even summarize this book because so many different things happen. You get inside the head of multiple characters, each struggling with their own demons and identities. There's an amazing scavenger hunt that incorporates spooky things, Shakespeare, Poe, and all the other things I love. There are Stevie Nicks references, horror movie references, X-Files references, Salem references...need I go on? This book absolutely spoke to my weird girl heart. I adored Tuesday as a character and loved seeing her work through all the mysteries she was presented with throughout the story. 

It did take a while to read, just because there were so many different things going on that you needed to keep track of and file away. Dex, Dorry, and Archie were all great side characters and I was actually happy to follow their stories in addition to Tuesday's, when normally too many character story lines annoy me. My only real issue with this read was the ending. I thought it felt really rushed compared to how drawn out the scavenger hunt was in the majority of the book, and didn't like that there were some characters added towards the end who weren't necessary.

If you like scavenger hunts or spooky pop culture references, you would definitely enjoy this read.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Thanks so much to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an ARC of this read! Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia is out today, October 8th, so be sure to pick up a copy to add to your fall TBR!

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

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I got this book in an Uppercase box a long time ago, and it arrived right when I was in my "I hate fantasy" phase. I read around 20 pages and put it down, assuming I would never pick it up again. Well, now that I've started appreciating fantasy again, I decided to give An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson another try.

Isobel is a portrait artist, and painting is her craft. She protects her family through earning wards and spells by painting portraits for the fair folk. When one day, the faerie prince of the Autumn Court, Rook, appears at her home to be painted, Isobel is beside herself. 

The more time she spends with Rook, the more enraptured she becomes. She paints him as she truly sees him, with a sorrow in his eyes - a human flaw that Rook is furious to discover. Set on making Isobel pay for what she has done, Rook steals her away to face trial for the crime she has committed. 

I think the best word to describe this story is simple, and I don't mean that in a bad way at all. So many fantasy stories are drawn out, elaborate, and confusing, with many tiny elements and details to remember. These types of fantasy stories overwhelm me, and are the reason why I take frequent breaks from reading fantasy. This one was easy. It flowed well and was easy to comprehend. It's a standalone, so you don't have to worry about getting wrapped up in an extensive series. 

The writing was beautifully descriptive. Rook was enigmatic and brooding. Isobel was strong and family oriented. The plot made sense, was engaging, and I was definitely satisfied with the ending. There were magic forests and terrifying creatures, both of which I love! It was a quick read, and the perfect story to read and be engaged by, then put down and move on. Now I definitely want to pick up Margaret Rogerson's newest book, A Sorcery of Thorns!

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Black Spire by Delilah S. Dawson

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I am a huge Star Wars fan, but I'd never read any of the canon novels until now. When Black Spire by Delilah S. Dawson was released, I had to pick up a copy to read before my visit to Galaxy's Edge at Walt Disney World, a land featuring the Black Spire Outpost: the main setting for this read. Vi Moradi has been sent by General Leia Organa to the planet Batuu, specifically the Black Spire Outpost, to determine its feasibility and set up a new base for the Resistance. But the First Order is onto her, and sends a party to Batuu determined to find her and shut down her mission.

I can't even begin to put into words how much I loved this story. Vi Moradi was an amazing character with startling ambition, especially when faced with tremendous adversity. I couldn't get enough of the sassily morose droid Pook. All of the side characters were wonderful, and Batuu was so well described that when I walked into the land at WDW I felt like I was coming home.

Me outside the Droid Depot
with some blue milk!
I'm so happy I read this book before visiting Galaxy's Edge. It made the whole experience so much better for me. I recognized all the businesses, as well as understood the back story and characters present in the land. I was thrilled to have drinks at Oga's Cantina, especially after knowing how terrifying its mob boss owner was, and excited to grab a snack from Ronto Roasters. I even shrieked as I saw Vi Moradi herself, blue hair and all, running through the land on her quest to evade the First Order. If you're planning a visit to Galaxy's Edge at WDW or Disneyland, I highly recommend reading this book first!

After reading and loving this novel so much, I've decided to read all of the Del Rey Star Wars canon novels in order, starting with Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott, which just came out yesterday. I'm sure I've spoiled some things for myself, since Black Spire comes towards the end of the canon, but I'm totally fine with that if it means I get to experience more amazing Star Wars novels.

Bright suns!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
As a former Disney employee, I am all about theme parks! So when I saw that The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg was a read all about a high-fantasy, high-tech theme park, I knew I was going to need to read it! This story follows Ana, one of The Kingdom's "Fantasists," or human/cyborg hybrid princesses genetically engineered to make dreams come true. 

Ana's thoughts and feelings are supposed to be steady, restricted, controlled. So when she meets Owen, a park employee, and starts feeling emotions she shouldn't have and having thoughts and ideas that should never cross her mind, Ana starts to wonder if she is broken.

Chaos ensues as her "sisters," other Fantasists, start to have breakdowns of their own, ultimately resulting in being shut off for good. And when Owen is murdered and Ana looks incredibly guilty, what will become of Ana, the Fantasists, and The Kingdom as a whole?

I absolutely flew through this story and really enjoyed it! Of course I loved all of the theme park elements, and saw so much of Walt Disney World and other theme parks in this book. Theme parks are constantly competing with one another for the newest technology, the most personal experience, and the highest attendance, so it's not at all outside the realm of possibility that something like these Fantasists could be a reality one day. I loved the alternating chapters of Ana's point of view, emails, and interview material, and thought the story was pretty unique overall.

Fans of theme parks, fairy tales, and technology would absolutely love this read!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Cover Art Courtesy of Goodreads
I really adored both of Riley Sager's other books, Final Girls and The Last Time I Lied. I knew I was going to love this one as well, and I was right. Riley Sager's books are always BOTM picks, so I'm excited to have added this third one to my collection. Lock Every Door is Riley Sager's newest release, and it follows Jules after she moves into The Bartholomew in NYC as an apartment sitter.

Jules has basically hit rock bottom. She was laid off, she caught her boyfriend cheating, and she only has about $500 to her name. But when she sees an ad for a high-paying apartment sitter position in the posh Bartholomew and gets the job, she thinks fate has blessed her tremendously. 

Then come the rules: No guests. No spending the night away from the building. No engaging with the building's residents. But it's all worth it for that paycheck, right? Then Ingrid, Jules' new friend and fellow apartment sitter goes missing, and Jules realizes that things at the Bartholomew might not be so perfect after all.

Oh man this plot was good! There was absolutely no way to predict how this was all going to turn out! Honestly, this may be one of the most unique thrillers I've ever read. It was so easy to imagine the glamorous Bartholomew with its gargoyle statues and dark past. This story got better and better with every page and I enjoyed every minute of it. The elements using the old apartment dumbwaiter were so clever and added to the authenticity of the old building. The stories of the Bartholomew's sordid past were fascinating, and I loved the story behind Heart of a Dreamer, the fictional novel mentioned frequently in this book.

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager was engaging, twisted, and suspenseful. Just read it. If you're interested in Riley Sager's books, and Book of the Month, you can sign up using my link here, and we'll both get a free book!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars