Double Review: The Unspoken Name by A.K Larkwood and Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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The Unspoken Name

by A.K Larkwood

eARC, 436 pages

Published February 11th 2020 by Tor Books

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does. She will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice. On the day of her foretold death, however, a powerful mage offers her a new fate.

Csorwe leaves her home, her destiny, and her god to become the wizard’s loyal sword-hand — stealing, spying, and killing to help him reclaim his seat of power in the homeland from which he was exiled.

But Csorwe and the wizard will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

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I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

I have a really complex feelings regarding this book. The beginning was intriguing, with the explanation of the House of Silence and ritual Csorwe supposed to do. Her rescue as well her life in Grey Hook. However, even then, there’s always something that make me unable to 100% enjoy the book. The writing was really dense; the world was really unique but it was filled with a lot of description. And yet, I feel like it’s not explained well, we’re left to figure much on our own and it took me a while to get my bearings. It also caused zero connection with the characters, as it was more telling than showing and the characters felt like they’re impersonal and just… there.

As the story continues, the writing and disconnect I felt makes it hard for me to enjoy the story. In fact, picking up this book felt like a chore, because it’s not something I care nor I want to spend time doing. Not to mention, the story is full with twist and turns. While this is something I usually enjoy, I felt really lost because the writing is already pretty dense and I felt loss all the time! I just want to get this over with, tbh 😭😭😭

After finishing the book though, I have to commend the planning and complexity of the story, especially since this book was a debut. I think it’s very ambitious, however I feel like the execution largely fails me. I also think the current climate affect my reading experience- staying at home means a slow day and I guess I was just wanting a quick/fast-paced read. I guess it’s a case of me instead of the book, but in the end this book just doesn’t work for me.

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Red, White & Royal Blue

by Casey McQuiston

ebook, 432 pages

Published May 14th 2019 by St. Martin’s Griffin

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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?

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It took me two tries to finished this book, but reader, I finally did it! 

I was flying through the book at first, but around the 50% mark I got bored. The romance is cute, yes, but it has too many sexy times and smut, which have never been my preference. I love the banter, I love the pining, I love the hide-and-seek with the press. But I don’t enjoy the whole physical description of what they’re doing and honestly, I skimmed a good chunk of it.

Almost a year later, I was at home and in need with a feel good read. I finally picked this book back up and finished it!

I still love the characters, I honestly thinks they are a gem! I love how all of them are very supportive of each other, from Ellen and Oscar’s amicable and supportive relationship, Bea and Henry + Alex and June siblings relationship, Ellen parenting (I love her powerpoint), as well as Zahra and Shaan protectiveness. It also helps that all of them are sarcastic little shits, I just love them! 😂 I also really love the plot (when it’s actually there), it discussed a lot of important topics from the obvious ones of sexism, racism, homophobia and invasion of privacy, but also about finding yourself in the midst of all the spotlight and white noise that comes with the fame, as well as the legacy that comes with being in their position. The writing is just fantastic, managed to get me through the whole range of emotion the characters felt.

But as with the first time, my problem remains. The book is just too long, repetitive and too romance-heavy. I skimmed a lot of sexy times when I first read it; the fact that I still skimmed some parts this time means it’s just way above my tolerance level 😅 I love the romance, but I honestly feel the physical intimacy overshadows everything else and that’s why I can’t give this book full 5 stars as I skimmed a good chunk of it. It’s certainly a feel good one, so I have no complaints especially since it’s something I am looking for.

Still, I applaud the author for coming up with this book, she really set out what she aims for as she said in the acknowledgement, which is to give its readers hope. Maybe it was meant hope after the 2016 election, but it still works for me in this truly terrifying time. This book distracted me, made me laugh and fell in love with the characters all over again, and also gives me hope. Especially because of the ending, which was just perfect and made me really happy. I can’t stop grinning, it’s certainly the euphoric mood I was looking to bask in!

tasya


7 thoughts on “Double Review: The Unspoken Name by A.K Larkwood and Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

  1. That sucks that The Unspoken Name flopped for you 😕. The synopsis sounded really neat though! Oof, I haven’t read Red, White, & Royal Blue yet, and I probably won’t for a while 😅.
    Lovely reviews, Tasya 🙂!

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  2. Oh I totally understand your feelings re: Unspoken Name! Like, the worldbuilding felt really interesting, but it also felt super blurry at the same time and there were a lot of gaps in my understanding of it? And I WILL finally get to RWRB one day! The characters sound wonderful, but I’m also kind of iffy about the length! I’m not used to romance books being longer than ~300 pages. 😀

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  3. Yikes, The Unspoken Name sounds like such a chore to get through. I hate when books sound so promising but end up being disappointing. And while everyone has been raving about Red, White, and Royal Blue, I just haven’t really felt any desire to pick it up. I am not that into romance or contemporary novels, so I don’t think it will be for me. Awesome reviews, Tasya!

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