Book Review – American Royals

“That was the thing about success, it could be even more draining than failure.” 

Title: American Royals (American Royals #1)

Author: Katharine McGee

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Publication date: September 3rd, 2019

448 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

What if America had a royal family? 

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling.

Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her.

And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

Review

“All I know is that when I need to eat my feelings, my feelings taste like Wawa milkshakes with extra M&Ms.” 

katharine mcgee, american royals

American Royals is set in an alternate reality where George Washington created a monarchy when helping America achieve it’s independence instead of a democracy. Now, 200 some years later his descendants still rule America. Princess Beatrice is first in line for the throne and must marry – but will her love of a commoner win out over royal duty? Princess Samantha knows she is the spare – it’s painfully obvious even in her code name of Sparrow. She is the wild child because she knows she will never be tasked to rule. Prince Jefferson is third in line and is unknowingly caught in a love triangle with his potentially dangerous ex-girlfriend and his commoner childhood best friend. Who will win out?

American Royals is deliciously dramatic. It is exactly what I would imagine when envisioning America with royalty. There is love, love triangles, unrequited love, and forbidden love – it is love tropes galore! I also adore how the author built in a breaking of the fourth wall in several instances – some lines like:

“Elect the king or queen—what a funny concept. Everyone knew that elections only worked for judges and Congress. Making the executive branch pander to the people, go out begging for votes—that could only end in disaster. That structure would attract the wrong sort of people: power-hungry people with twisted agendas.”

Katharine mcgee, american royals

The author makes a clear statement about how politics is today but with a cushion of fiction and snark, and I adore it. I also enjoyed the characters, who were all SO different. They each have their own “main” personality points or plot lines, but each have a separate, more secret plot or personality quirk that strongly affects who they become by the end of the series.

One thing I didn’t like was how closely part of the plot aligned with the move First Daughter with Katie Holmes. The King’s daughter falls in love with a guard. It’s different, but is too strongly related for my taste. I think it needed a new element to make it more unique.

However, THAT ENDING. Talk about shocking and cliffhanger-y. I’m so glad the decision was made to turn this into at least a duology because so much more of this story DESERVES to be told.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – House of Salt and Sorrows

“We are born of the Salt, we live by the Salt, and to the Salt we return.”

Title: House of Salt and Sorrows

Author: Erin A. Craig

Publisher: Delacourte

Publication date: August 6th, 2019

403 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

Review

Nights like this were meant to be shared, remembered, and talked about for years. Skies like this were meant to be kissed under.

Erin A. Craig, House of Salt and Sorrows

In a retelling of 12 Dancing Princesses, Annaleigh is one of eight sisters left after four died tragically. The family has suffered so much loss, and Annaleigh can’t help but wonder if it’s too much loss to just be attributed to bad circumstances or coincidence. She starts to think the most recent death was a murder, so she starts investigates. The more she finds out, the more she realizes she has no idea what is happening in Highmoor – and everything and everyone is in question. Will Annaleigh figure out what’s happening before more death comes to call?

House of Salt and Sorrows is seriously dreamy and magical. Whereas it is a serious story with death and terrible things happening, you can’t not notice the fairytale feel and magical essence to the writing. I was able to read this book in one sitting, it captured and held my attention throughout. There was even a bit of a mystery element to it as you tried to figure out who is bringing the darkness down on the family – and I totally didn’t see the ending coming until it was there.

Annaleigh was a good narrator, she is a middle sister and is somewhere in the middle between oblivious and too suspicious, if that makes sense. Her older sister seems completely oblivious to everything happening around them, but one of her younger sisters seems too involved in the mystery – even seeing visions and ghosts. I think it was a good decision to make someone in the middle be the narrator, and then experience the whole spectrum from the outside.

I very much enjoyed House of Salt and Sorrows, and goodness just look at that cover?! Absolutely amazing. I loved that it was a standalone and the whole story was wrapped up in one book. If you’re looking for retellings with magical qualities, or a ghost story go check out House of Salt and Sorrows!

Happy reading, folks!