Book Review: Red, White & Royal Blue

Netgalley!! Thank you, thank you. I got approved to read an ARC of Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and I crushed it over my vacation to Ireland/Scotland. This one was read on many of the buses during the day tours to cool landmarks.

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Synopsis: A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry 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?

This book was freaking adorable. The main character Alex represents a millenial perfectly. He is the poster child for America and everyone knows who he is. He goes on a little bit of a self discovery where he finds out more about himself in ways he didn’t think he would (and they involve a prince).

This book is a great representation of a healthy LGBTQ+ relationship that spurs from a friendship. And by friendship, I mean that they hate each other and then are forced to be friends to appease the media and then actually become friends and then more. It made me so happy to see that they made each other happy. The way that they feel about each other is hard to express but Casey McQuiston made the love feel very real and something that one hopes for in a relationship.

Also, Nora is the epitomy of awesome. She is Alex’s best friend and is bisexual, 100% amazing and very sarcastic but will always get to the point right away. She is that friend that will tell you how it is even if it is difficult for you to see.

His sister June is also such a sweetheart. She is so caring and does everything a protective sister can to make sure that Alex is well looked after and stays out of trouble. She is the sister I would want if I had siblings.

The only thing that I wasn’t a huge fan of was the political aspect of the book. I love that they made the president a female for 2020 but aside from that, I am not really into politics and tend to avoid that subject in conversation. However, it was done in a way that kept it interesting and easy to follow so the book still progressed at a nice pace.

Overall, I would recommend this book. It is a fun LGBTQ+ book with a lot of new ideals that our future could really use and it just made me happy to read it.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can buy this book on Book Depository and Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me as an ARC kindle version by Netgalley to read and give my honest review.


I did some book hauling while I was away on vacation because who doesn’t like UK book covers. Check out the video below to see what book I picked up!

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Book Review: High School Queens

Hey bookworms! I am just finishing up my vacation and I have some reviews for you since I managed to crush a couple books while I was away. I will also have a post coming soon about my vacation and everything I did. But for now, here is my latest review. This one was called High School Queens by Zachary Ryan.

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Synopsis: They all thought they did a masterful job of keeping their secrets close to their chest. These stupid fools thought they were the high court of this kingdom, but they had no clue who was really pulling the strings. You might wonder to yourself, who would be that heartless to make them backstab their friends, expose other’s secrets, and lose their morals? You don’t need to know who I am, but you better remember my name, The Marked Queen.

Danielle, Andrew, Delilah, Aman, and Jasmine all are now faced with a mysterious villain whose one goal is to ruin each of their lives. They must protect their secrets at all cost, or they’ll be the next victim on Marked Day. They know what’s at stake, and they’ll stop at nothing to continue being: the rich spoiled girl, the normal teenager, the girl who isn’t banging the principal, the straight vlogger, and the girl who isn’t her dad’s punching bag. What happens when The Marked Queen changes up the game just in time for prom? Will each of our favorite puppets survive? Or are they willing to backstab each other just to keep up their personas? The only thing lost at this prom wasn’t going to be their virginity.

So, I have never read a book that was this dramatic before. BUT, I absolutely loved it. I was skeptical when I started it but quickly fell into the dramatic high school atmosphere of what the popular kids must feel like. They were so savage to each other with insults and backstabbing, it was very intense.

I have never seen Gossip Girl but based on what I have heard about the show, I feel like this book is very similar and may have drawn some inspiration from it.

All of the characters were very easy to follow and I enjoyed learning about each of their stories. There was LGBTQ+ inclusion in this book which was a plus for me as I believe it was represented well in how it was spoken about and reacted to.

Every chapter would end with the marked queen talking to you and I really liked this because it would leave it as a question of what devious thing was going to happen next. She speaks with spite and disdain for the characters as if she is above them all and it makes sense when you find out who she is.

I honestly want to read the next book in this series. It has its hooks in me and I can’t get enough of it. This might just be my sassy side coming out for this one because I am not like any of the characters in real life but I guess I like the drama in a setting where I am not a part of it. This must be why reality TV is becoming something I like to watch.

Overall, I would recommend this one to anyone who wants a dramatic, fast-paced book about some teens just trying to get to prom. If you have any sass at all, you will like this book.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and Book Depository or find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format by the author to read and give an honest review.


Is anyone taking part in the Harry Potter Magical Readathon? Here is my video showing the books I chose to read for my OWLS! Let me know in the comments if you are participating.

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Book Review: Roses in December

OMG Bookworms! I go to Ireland tomorrow. I am so freaking excited. I did a lot of reading this week to get my OWLS in for the Magical Readathon. So far I have completed Defense Against The Dark Arts and now having completed this book, I have completed Herbology. Speaking of this book, it is called Roses in December: Haunting and Macabre Tales by Matthew De Lacey Davidson.

The book Roses in December lying on a blanket

Synopsis: Roses in December is a short story collection which defies categorization. Some of the stories are haunting – others are deeply troubling.

A man receives a religious vision in his ordinary back garden; a nuclear physicist in Australia experiences a great surprise where he least expects it; a duct-tape salesman unsettles his faithful customer; Voltaire does not put his best foot forward; someone makes a grim discovery upon waking up in a prison; a psychiatrist does his best to treat a political extremist; a nineteenth-century photographer goes about his usual (and highly unusual) business; and a wealthy neighborhood in Montreal becomes the scene of an immense and avoidable tragedy.

This book was too short. I loved it and wish there was more of it to consume my time. It has over 20 short stories in it and they are all so different yet exciting. Some of them are super eerie and when you are finished you are like “heck yes, I love when they leave it with such an ominous tone”.

The last one is very sweet and I believe the author wrote it about someone very special to him. It is about life and how it moves on but we always stay connected to those that are close to us, be it family or not.

You will not get bored reading this book as each story is only 4-5 pages each and the book itself is only around 115 pages. I find that I am a big fan of short story collections and will continue to find more of these to read. Especially dark, thrilling ones.

If you like short stories then I suggest picking this one up.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and Book Depository or find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format by the author to read and give our honest review.


Is anyone taking part in the Harry Potter Magical Readathon? Here is my video showing the books I chose to read for my OWLS! Let me know in the comments if you are participating.

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Book Review: Rarity of the Century

I received an ARC of this book way back when I started up the blog and finally got around to reading it as I am trying to make progress on the blog book TBR when I don’t have paid reviews coming in. This one was called Rarity of the Century by Fawzy Zablah and I am using it as my book for “defense against the dark arts” book (had to start with the letter R) in the Magical readathon.

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Synopsis: Chucho, an aimless tramp of Palestinian/Latino descent, has reached a lull in his young adult life that he surmises is directly linked to a long ago, barely spoken of family tragedy that left him an orphan.

After a brief stint and stellar downfall in the fetish porn industry, he is forced to move back home with his flamboyant uncle in South Beach and get a job at a Brazilian steak house. Just as he is getting used to his new position in life, he falls for the hostess Shiraz Zirel who first torments him via her unattainable beauty and then by ignoring him.

Frustrated with Shiraz, Chucho decides to give up on love. But when a Rapture event of unknown origins occurs over all of South Florida, Chucho and Shiraz find that they are the sole survivors. In fact, Chucho realizes with new-found excitement, they may be the last two people on earth.

Can they be together? Are they fated for love? And what is that strange thing in the sky over South Beach anyway? As the star-crossed lovers journey to investigate the inexplicable phenomenon, they encounter a mysterious, yet familiar third survivor that will force them into a fight for their lives.

I’m honestly not really sure what I just finished reading.

There were 3 different viewpoints of the story. It was essentially the same story being retold from the 3 main characters perspectives so a lot of what was happening was already known and it left little to the imagination. I did not like one single character in this book. They were all pretty conceited in the way they thought about and treated others.

There was no love in this book. It was just people using other people for sex. And don’t get me started on the sex. There was so much emphasis on the man being dominant over the woman and how she was supposed to be his “slave”. *Pardon my french* but are you fucking kidding me?! Men and women should be treated equally in a relationship and there were so many parts of this book where they were treated worse than a dog (I also don’t condone treating any animal poorly). I realize that this may be used to build a nasty character but honestly, it was too much for me to enjoy the book.

Also, trigger warning that there is a lot of rape. It made me feel uncomfortable reading these parts. The second trigger warning I would add is that there is quite a bit of racism towards people of Jewish descent. There is a line where the character says that he wants to be Hitler. I had to pause when I read that and think to myself, what was the author trying to achieve with this?

And then the whole post-apocalyptic thing. It never explains how this came to be. I was kind of waiting for an explanation to tie everything together at the end but nope. No explanation at all.

I feel bad about this review because I was hopeful for an interesting book but I just found myself cringing a lot while reading. I believe that the author had an idea and they tried to make it into a story but it did not feel complete in my opinion. I hope that this rating doesn’t make the author feel like there book is not good. This was just my personal opinion of how I felt about the book but someone else might like it.

*I always hope that authors will continue to write regardless of bad reviews to push through and work on their dreams. You guys make the creations that we love to consume as readers.*

Book Rating: 1/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us as an advanced reader’s copy in physical format by the author to read and give an honest review.


I recently uploaded my Booktube Newbie tag video so check it out below if you are interested. I would love it if you subscribed but that is completely up to you!

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Book Review: The Warrior Heir

It’s about time I bust back into the world of……FANTASY! I started a new series that was recommended to me by my boyfriend (yes, I am bisexual if you didn’t know…surprise). The first book of the series was called The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima and I loved it. I feel like I have been reborn into the world of books. Either that or I read a lot of duds so this one brought me back up to good standards of books. I probably just missed fantasy because it has been so long since I have read this genre.

The Warrior Heir book on a bookshelf

Synopsis: Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity. Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high schoolers. Then one day Jack skips his medicine. Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before. And it feels great – until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts.

Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself: he is Weirlind, part of an underground society of magical people who live among us. At their helm sits the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game – a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death. The winning house rules the Weir.

As if his bizarre heritage isn’t enough, Jack finds out that he’s not just another member of Weirlind – he’s one of the last of the warriors – at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.

This book was a really great start to a series. The main character Jack reminds me of Percy Jackson and the series seems to have that kind of vibe going for it. I love anything to do with magic so it was nice to jump into a series with a lot of promise.

Honestly, the book started right away with a pretty intense action scene and I had decided to just read a little before bed. 100 pages later and now 2 am, I finally decided to go to sleep.

The book even caught me off guard at points which I loved. I hate when a book is too predictable.  The magic system that is built in this series is really cool. There are different types of magic users and they all have their own special sets of skills. Wizards are the all-powerful ones but then there are sorcerers, enchanters, and warriors that each have their own unique abilities. The warriors are very rare and the different wizard families will pit them against each other in battle. The winning wizard family gains control over the society if their chosen warrior wins in battle.

It reminded me of the Hunger Games as well (which is a good thing) in the sense that young teenagers are put into a fight to the death situation that they don’t really have any control over.

I can’t wait to dive into the second book in this series because I am not ready to be done with this magical world the author has created and the wonderful cast of characters that she has built up and fleshed out. Did I mention that all the characters are very well fleshed out?! Because they are! The only character I found slightly annoying was Jack’s aunt Linda. She just bothered me for some reason.

I have to read a couple of other books but I know I will be thinking about this series in the back of my mind until I jump into the next one. All in all, if you like fantasy or any of the series I have mentioned above, then give this one a chance.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from my boyfriend’s bookshelf and read it because I wanted to (and he wanted me to as well).


I recently uploaded my Booktube Newbie tag video so check it out below if you are interested. I would love it if you subscribed but that is completely up to you!

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Book Review: The Last Straw

Hey bookworms. I am busy over here getting ready for my trip in less than 2 weeks now but I still have had a little time to read. I recently finished The Last Straw by Ed Duncan so read below for the review.

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Synopsis: When a teenage girl witnesses a carjacking gone bad, she is marked for death by a crime boss with no apparent motive. A black lawyer and a white enforcer with an unlikely history forge an uneasy alliance to protect the girl from a hit man with an agenda of his own.

After they find out that the crime boss is the father of the black teenage carjacker, Paul Elliott – lawyer and close friend of the witness’s family – begins counseling them.

As the long-simmering feud between Rico and John D’Angelo reaches boiling point, bodies start to pile up in rapid succession… and old scores will be settled.

This book was just alright for me. I would classify it as an in the middle book because it was fast paced which I liked but it wasn’t very descriptive and I found it jumped from scene to scene quite quickly.

It was an interesting concept and I haven’t read many novels with hired killers pitting up against each other before so that was fun. There was a lot of conflicts and it showed a part of the underground/black market business side that is not normally viewed by the reader. I’m not sure how to classify Rico. I feel like he is an antagonist with a heart because he kills people for his job but in this book, he doesn’t want to hurt a teenager.

I will say that the book did have some hard-hitting sections of racism and how people dealt with it. It was kind of sad to see how the color of one’s skin affected some of the characters in ways that it really shouldn’t. We are all humans regardless of skin color and I would never judge someone based on that. But I see how the author did this to make some of the characters have that bad moral side to them.

This was the second book in a series but you could read it as a standalone because the author makes sure to catch you up on everything that happened in the first one. They refer to it quite often and it helps with the plot.

Overall, it was a quick read. If you like the crime genre and want a fast read for commuting to work or just a break from some heavier, more intense books then give this one a shot.

Book Rating: 3/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author in physical format to read and give an honest review.


My latest video talks about my review of Armada by Ernest Cline and I refer to this book at the end. I also have a giveaway on right now until Thursday so make sure to enter!

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Book Review: Drift by Clare Littlemore

We have another review from Sara! She was so excited to find out that this author reached out to us again to review the next book in her series. Sara read the first two book in this series and absolutely loved them so let’s read on and find out how she felt about the third adaptation. It is called Drift by Clare Littlemore.

P.S. Sara makes really cool little yarn creatures as a hobby. You can check out her Etsy shop called Adorkable Little Crafties!

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Synopsis: Quin believed that a life away from The Beck would make her happy. But when a cruel twist of fate forces her to leave sooner than planned, she struggles to come to terms with her new reality. Haunted by memories of the people she left behind, she finds herself wishing she was back in Patrol, with Cam by her side.

Cut off from The Beck, the escapees carve out a new existence on a small island. Tentative bonds are formed, but as disputes surface and rebellion is threatened, Quin quickly realizes that their new home isn’t the sanctuary she had imagined. And when one of her fellow citizens is willing to go to desperate measures to save those he loves, he puts the entire community in danger.

As they hatch a daring plan to save themselves, Quin is faced with a terrible choice: protect her friends or follow her heart.

Drift is the third in the Flow series, which follows Quin as she battles to forge a new life in unfamiliar territory without the man she has come to depend on.

This novel is an excellent sequel in the Flow series. I love how it picks up right where Break left off, with Quin and her friends traveling away from the controlling Beck society to their safe haven of fellow resistance citizens. This novel is about the struggle of the newly situated citizens and their attempts to develop their society and make a life for themselves in their new home, called the Crag. They are met with other groups of people, struggles between the citizens for power, and then a drastic illness.

This is an exciting and captivating read. I love the world that Littlemore has built, and I love seeing how it develops beyond its initial boundaries, both physically and emotionally. The characters are well developed and relatable, the interpersonal struggles are well formed without being cliche, and the struggles they face make it feel like a survival novel alike to Hatchet and more of this genre.

Again, Littlemore leaves us with quite the cliffhanger. I can’t wait for the next book! I eagerly awaited this one and I’ll eagerly await the next, as I can’t wait to see what happens with this small, strong society trying to recover and rescue the Beck from the Governance. The world feels so huge and well developed, and we’re so invested in the lives of the citizens who remain in the Beck. The exploration of this world Littlemore has created is so fun.

This series really belongs with the young adult dystopian heavy hitters like the Hunger Games and Divergent. I’ll definitely be recommending it to any young adult fans, both teen and older. Another success! I can’t wait for the sequel.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author to read and give an honest review.


I also released a new video onto book tube recently so feel free to watch it here and make sure to like and subscribe if you like it!

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Book Review: The Fourth Courier

Hey bookworms! I have another review! It has been a while but I have been working on reading, making videos and planning a trip so that is why. This time, I read an advanced reader’s copy of The Fourth Courier by Timothy Jay Smith.

The Fourth Courier (Arcade)

Synopsis: It is 1992 in Warsaw, Poland, and the communist era has just ended. A series of grisly murders suddenly becomes an international case when it’s feared that the victims may have been couriers smuggling nuclear material out of the defunct Soviet Union. The FBI sends an agent to help with the investigation. When he learns that a Russian physicist who designed a portable atomic bomb has disappeared, the race is on to find him—and the bomb—before it ends up in the wrong hands.

I quite enjoyed this book. It is a nice feeling when an author sends you a book to read and you have no idea what you are going in to but then find yourself caught up in this web of mystery and intrigue.

The characters were well fleshed out and they had just enough backstory to let the reader know all the details they needed to for the story to progress.

There is a heavy influence of LGBTQ+ in this book which I wasn’t expecting from this type of genre but I must say I am happy in the way it was used and glad that genres are branching out and including this type of representation.

I felt myself wanting to know what would happen next and kept myself up late at night to just get through the next chapter…..and then the next one…..and so on. This made me pretty tired at work for a couple days as it was a recurring situation :P.

Polish is also a part of my ancestry so it was interesting to read a book that was set in Poland. I had never really thought about the country or what it looks like over there but the book gave me a pretty good visual image of the economy and what it takes to survive day to day in such a place.

Overall, it wasn’t perfect. It had its little flaws where I would questions a character’s decisions sometimes but it was a solid novel with an intense sequence of events and I would be happy to read more by this author in the future.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author to read and give an honest review.

The author also provided us with an interview he conducted. Check it out below to get to know about him a little bit more.

Timothy Jay Smith (S#1)

THE FOURTH COURIER: AN INTERVIEW WITH TIMOTHY JAY SMITH

You have a new novel coming out, The Fourth Courier, set in Poland. What’s it about?

The Fourth Courier opens in the spring of 1992, only four months after the collapse of the Soviet Union. A series of grisly murders in Warsaw suddenly becomes an international concern when radiation is detected on the third victim’s hands, raising fears that all the victims might have smuggled nuclear material out of Russia.

Poland’s new Solidarity government asks for help and the FBI sends Special Agent Jay Porter to assist in the investigation. He teams up with a gay CIA agent. When they learn that a Russian physicist who designed a portable atomic bomb is missing, the race is on to find him and the bomb before it ends up in the wrong hands.

My novels have been called literary thrillers because I use an event or threat—a thriller plot—to examine what the situation means to ordinary people. In The Fourth Courier, Jay becomes intimately involved with a Polish family, giving the reader a chance to see how the Poles coped with their collective hangover from the communist era.

How did you come up with the story for The Fourth Courier?

The Fourth Courier book goes back a long way for me. In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and Solidarity won the first free election in Poland in over sixty years. In the same year, Mikhail Gorbachev introduced new cooperative laws in the Soviet Union, which was an area of my expertise. I was invited to the Soviet Union as a consultant, which led to my consulting throughout the former Soviet bloc, eventually living for over two years in Poland.

At the time, there was a lot of smuggling across the border between Russia and Poland, giving rise to fears that nuclear material, too, might be slipping across. While on assignment in Latvia, I met with a very unhappy decommissioned Soviet general, who completely misunderstood my purpose for being there. When an official meeting concluded, he suggested we go for a walk where we could talk without being overheard.

I followed him deep into a forest. I couldn’t imagine what he wanted. Finally we stopped, and he said, “I can get you anything you want.” I must have looked puzzled because he added, “Atomic.”

Then I understood. In an earlier conversation, there had been some passing remarks about the Soviets’ nuclear arsenal in Latvia, for which he had had some responsibility, and apparently still some access. While my real purpose for being there was to design a volunteer program for business specialists, he assumed that was a front and I was really a spy. Or perhaps he thought, I really did want to buy an atomic bomb!

Have you always been a writer?

In the sense of enjoying to write, yes. I actually wrote my first stage play in fourth grade and started a novel in sixth grade, but I didn’t become a full-time fiction writer until twenty years ago. The first half of my adult life I spent working on projects to help low income people all over the world. I always enjoyed the writing aspects of my work—reports, proposals, even two credit manuals—but I reached a point where I’d accomplished my career goals, I was only forty-six years old, and I had a story I wanted to tell.

What was the story?

For over two years, I managed the U.S. Government’s first significant project to assist Palestinians following the 1993 Oslo Accords. One thing I learned was that everyone needed to be at the negotiating table to achieve an enduring peace. So I wrote a story of reconciliation—A Vision of Angels—that weaves together the lives of four characters and their families.

If anybody had ever hoped that a book might change the world, I did. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to bring about peace in the Middle East, but I’ve continued writing nevertheless.

The Fourth Courier has a strong sense of place. It’s obvious that you know Warsaw well. Other than living there, what special research did you do?

Warsaw is a city with a very distinctive character. It’s always atmospheric, verging on gloomy in winter, and the perfect location for a noir-ish thriller.

I had left Warsaw several years before I decided to write a novel set there, so I went back to refresh my memory. I looked at it entirely differently. What worked dramatically? Where would I set scenes in my story?

It was on that research trip when all the events along the Vistula River came together for me. There was a houseboat. There was Billy’s shack, and Billy himself whose “jaundiced features appeared pinched from a rotting apple.” There were sandbars reached by narrow concrete jetties and a derelict white building with a sign simply saying Nightclub. Fortunately, Billy’s dogs were tethered or I wouldn’t be here to answer your questions.

My main character is an FBI agent, and I didn’t know much about it. A friend, who was an assistant to Attorney General Janet Reno, arranged a private tour of the FBI’s training facility in Quantico. That was before 9/11. I don’t think that could be done now. Maybe for James Bond himself but not for a wannabe writer.

If I was going to write a novel about smuggling a portable atomic bomb, I needed to know what a bomb entailed. Weight, seize, basic design, fuel? How would a miniature bomb be detonated? So I blindly contacted the Department of Energy. I explained what I wanted and was soon connected to an atomic expert who agreed to meet with me.

We met on the weekend at a Starbucks-like coffee shop in Rockville, MD. We met in line and were already talking about atomic bombs before we ordered our coffees. He had brought basic drawings of them. He was an expert and eager to share his knowledge.

Can you imagine having that conversation in a café today, openly looking at how-to schematics for building an atomic bomb while sipping skinny lattés?

You’ve mentioned ‘scenes’ a couple of times. I know you also write screenplays. Do you find it difficult to go between the different formats or styles?

The sense of scene is crucial to my writing. It’s how I think about a story. Before I start new work, I always have the opening and closing scenes in my head, and then I ask myself what scenes do I need to get from start to finish.

I think it comes from growing up in a house where the television was never turned off. My sisters and I were even allowed to watch TV while doing homework if we kept our grades up. Sometimes I joke that canned laughter was the soundtrack of my childhood. I haven’t owned a television for many years, but growing up with it exposed me to telling stories in scenes, and it’s why my readers often say they can see my stories as they read them.

For me, it’s not difficult to go between prose and screenplays. In fact, I use the process of adapting a novel to a screenplay as an editing tool for the novel. It helps me sharpen the dialogue and tighten the story.

In your bio, you mention traveling the world to find your characters and stories, and doing things like smuggling out plays from behind the Iron Curtain. Was it all as exciting as it sounds?

It was only one play, and yes, I confess to having an exciting life. I’ve done some crazy things, too, and occasionally managed to put myself in dangerous situations. Frankly, when I recall some of the things I’ve done, I scare myself! By comparison, smuggling a play out of Czechoslovakia in 1974 seems tame. But I’ve always had a travel bug and wanted to go almost everywhere, so I took some chances, often traveled alone, and went to places where I could have been made to disappear without a trace.

It sounds like you have a whole library full of books you could write. How do you decide what story to tell and who will be your characters?

I came of age in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, so I developed a strong sense of social justice. That guided my career choice more than anything, and when I quit working to write full-time, it was natural that I wanted my books to reflect my concerns. Not in a “big message” way, but more in terms of raising awareness about things that concern me.

For example, take Cooper’s Promise, my novel about a gay deserter from the war in Iraq who ends up adrift in a fictional African country. It was 2003, and in a few days, I was headed to Antwerp to research blood diamonds for a new novel. I was running errands when NPR’s Neal Conan (Talk of the Nation) came on the radio with an interview of National Geographic photographer Jodi Cobb about a project on modern-day slavery. It was the first time I heard details about human trafficking, and was so shocked by its enormity that I pulled my car off the road to listen.

I decided on the spot that I needed to find a story that touched on both blood diamonds and trafficking. When I went to Antwerp a few days later, I visited the Diamond District as planned, but also visited a safe house for women who had been rescued from traffickers.

In The Fourth Courier, you team up a white straight FBI agent with a black gay CIA agent. Even Publishers Weeklycommented that it seemed like an ideal set-up for a sequel. Do you plan to write one?

Probably not. My to-be-written list is already too long.

I’m close to finishing the final edits on a book set in Greek island village, which is more of a mystery about an arsonist than a thriller. I’ve already started a new novel set in Istanbul about a young refugee who’s recruited by the CIA to go deep undercover with ISIS. I’ve never written a novel set in the States but I have the idea for one.

To date, my books have been stand-alones with totally different settings, characters, and plots. I try to write what I like to read: smart mysteries/thrillers with strong plots and colorful characters set in interesting places. I suppose like me, I want my stories to travel around and meet new people.

You’ve had gay protagonists or important characters since your first novel over twenty years ago when gay literature had not yet become mainstream. How would you say that affected your choices as a writer, or did it?

Friends warned me that I shouldn’t become known as a gay writer because it would pigeonhole me and sideline me from consideration as a serious writer. At the time, I think the general public thought gay books were all about sex and more sex. Of course, already there were many emerging gay literary writers; it was more stigma than reality.

The world of thrillers and mysteries is still largely uninhabited by gays. Hopefully I am helping to change that. I also hope that my novels expand my readers’ understanding of homosexuality in the places where I set them. In The Fourth Courier, the gay angle is key to solving the case. In my other novels, too, the plot turns on something gay, and the way it does is always something that couldn’t have happened in the same way anywhere else because of the cultural context.

What do you want your readers to take away from The Fourth Courier?

What motivated me to write The Fourth Courier was a desire to portray what happened to ordinary Polish people at an exciting albeit unsettling moment in their country’s history. I hope my readers like my characters as much as I do—at least the good guys. The people are what made Poland such a great experience.

The Fourth Courier is my thank-you note to them.


I also released a new video onto book tube recently so feel free to watch it here and make sure to like and subscribe if you like it!

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Book Review: Armada by Ernest Cline

What’s up bookworms? I hope you are all reading your hearts out. I know I am. Over the past 3 weeks, I participated in my first ever buddy read with J.W.Martin from Storeys of Stories and we read the book Armada by Ernest Cline. We did about 2 chapters a day and fit in extra when we had time but stayed pretty consistent. Each day we would message each other about the stuff that happened in the book and give our predictions for what we thought would happen. It was quite fun and we plan to do another in May. For now, you can read my review below!

The book Armada by Ernest Cline on a bed

Synopsis: Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

If you loved the nostalgia in Ready Player One then you will like this book because it is stuffed with it. It has many references to Star Wars, Star Trek, pretty much any Sci-Fi film franchise you can think of. This made me very happy.

Zach is a lovable character that takes you on a journey of life as a nerdy kid. He has his two best friends (both named Michael) by his side and they are all extreme gamers who log at least 15 hours or more a week on their favorite game, Armada. The author introduces more characters along the way that I’m very fond of. I can see this book potentially being made into a movie.

One thing I would say is that the conclusion of the novel seemed very forced and too fast. I was hoping for more action and intense descriptive fight scenes (they still are there but it seems to wrap up and move onto the next scene too quickly). The book has so much build up to the finale so the least they could do is extend it a little longer to satisfy the reader with that juicy explosion of an ending. This was the area where the book fell short for me and the reason I gave it a 4 star rating instead of a 5 star rating.

Overall, I would suggest this book to anyone that wants a fast-paced science fiction page-turner.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can buy this book on Amazon or Book Depository and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money and read it because I wanted to.


I also released a new video onto book tube yesterday so feel free to watch it here and make sure to like and subscribe if you like it!

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Book Review: Lure by Jeff Marschall

Hey bookworms. I went and read another book again. I have to stop sticking my nose in all these books. This one was call Lure by Jeff Marschall and it was my first medical thriller book.

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Synopsis: In the cold harsh winter of the Canadian Prairies a secret is about to be unearthed. Medical resident John Mueller finds himself serendipitously in possession of a professor’s coveted research. On the run, John evades enemies and authorities, unsure of who he can trust along the way. John must decode the professors past in order to understand the magnitude of what he has uncovered. While searching for explanations he ignites a new romance and rekindles an old one. But as John begins to realize the magnitude of his discovery, the ultimate decision of how to proceed with this knowledge is far from clear. As he struggles to predict the ramifications of the research, he will ultimately shoulder the responsibility of deciding whether its knowledge will benefit humanity or accelerate its path to destruction.

So this book did not keep me interested. I have quite a few things to say about it, to be honest. Let’s start with the fact that a lot of the characters were very one dimensional and did not have much going for them.

At points, I wasn’t sure if I was reading a medical thriller or a Harlequin novel. There were a couple sex scenes that were quite explicit and it seemed like very much what you would expect to see if you cracked open a heterosexual chauvinistic male brain and took a peek inside.

The thriller part lost me as well. It was more of a soap opera drama vibe that I got from the book. Not once was I really “thrilled”. I kept hoping for something to catch me off guard but it never came.

The ending was also quite disappointing. It was wrapped up very quickly in the last 2% of the book. It seemed like it was all condensed to just finish the book without any thought into if it was a good ending or not.

That being said, I did like that it was set in Saskatchewan as this is a part of Canada and I don’t believe it gets highlighted enough. I mean, there were other places that it was set in, not just Saskatchewan but it was cool to at least have some of it there. This may just be a Canadian pride thing but I love my country and I like when books are set in its beautiful landscape.

Overall, I can’t really say it was good. There were medical terms throughout and it was somewhat interesting but I am glad I am moving on to the next book. Maybe medical thrillers just aren’t my thing. But remember, this is just my opinion. Maybe someone else out there will really like this book. Who knows?

Book Rating: 2/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author in ebook format to read and give an honest review.

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