Review: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

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Goodreads | Waterstones

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.
But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.
Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.

I think I’ve finally found it. Between The House in the Cerulean Sea and One Last Stop and Afterlove, I think I’ve finally found my favourite type of book. It’s the magical realism, the found family, the tragedy, the rip-your-heart-out-and-put-it-back-together-again type of book. It’s pure magic.

Put simply, I loved One Last Stop. It perfectly portrayed all of the things I have recently discovered I love about books. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and heartwarming all in one. It had a delightful mixture of strength and love and found family. A mixture of loneliness and togetherness. Of finding others but also yourself. I’m so glad I read it.

But, you know, that feeling? When you wake up in the morning and you have somebody to think about?

I both listened to and read One Last Stop, and I loved both experiences. I enjoyed Casey Mcquiston’s writing a lot more in this one than in Red, White and Royal Blue, and I found it translated to audio really well. The narrator was wonderful and perfectly portrayed the wittiness, love and hope of August’s story. Some of my favourite books have been read with a mixture of audio and physical reading, and this one was no different.

I loved August and Jane and the whole diverse cast of characters surrounding them. August felt vulnerable and real but I also found her really likable, and Jane was so easy to fall for through August’s eyes. I also loved how Jane gave us insight into the past, giving us a way to discuss LGBTQIA+ rights throughout history, and how that feels. I absolutely adored the entire cast of characters, especially the found-family in August’s flatmates and their friends. All of the characters had their own depth and backstories, conflicts and interests. They felt authentic and lovely.

Somewhere for hope to go? It’s good. Even when it’s bad, it’s good.

The thing I loved most was the impossibility, or at least improbability, of this book. It meant that truly anything could have happened, and this book could have gone down many different roads. It left me reeling with emotion but also feeling like my heart had been slowly pieced back together. I rooted for August and Jane every step of the way and I certainly won’t forget them in a hurry!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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Goodreads | Blackwell’s

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.
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. What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

What I’m slowly realising about myself as a reader is that I am definitely becoming more fussy when it comes to contemporary books. I had very high expectations of this book, especially because it felt like the most talked about contemporary of 2019 in the book community/on bookstagram. Maybe it just didn’t quite reach the high expectations I had for it, but I sadly didn’t quite feel the connection I was craving when it came to this book.

That being said, I can see why this book was so well loved. For a start, it’s just so refreshing to see an alternative history of the American presidents. Trump just doesn’t exist in this world, and that itself was such a joy to read about. Instead, we have a female president and a bisexual Latin FSOTUS, which felt like a breath of fresh air. Enter Henry, the Prince of England, and Alex’s (FSOTUS) enemy.

Thinking about history makes me wonder how I’ll fit into it one day, I guess. And you too. 

Both Alex and Henry are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality, and end up falling in love with each other. There is a lot of coming-out and coming-of-age discussions in this book, that also centre around being in the royal/presidential family. Although I can’t account for how realistic any of the handling or discussions around the sexuality of either of the characters, I did find them it all very entertaining to read about. It also really made me step back and think ‘wow, would it really be such an issue having a gay prince/bi FSOTUS? Huh, yeah, I guess it would‘. Reading this (completely unintentionally) around the same time as Meghan and Harry’s interview with Oprah also pushed this to the forefront of my mind.

I liked the characters in this book a lot, but I also felt slightly disconnected from them. I often had to double check which character was Henry and which was Alex, which may say more about how much I was paying attention to the story than about the book itself. Although I liked the wider cast of characters, I also felt disconnected from them sometimes. It was at times like these where I realised the book was written in 3rd person, and it did cross my mind that this book could have gained something from maybe being 1st person with alternate points of view. I also want to point out I felt like the enemies-to-lovers plot was a little rushed in my opinion, but I did enjoy reading about Alex and Henry’s relationship. There is a lot of smut in this book, but I don’t feel like it was overdone.

I kinda wish people still wrote like that. History, huh? Bet we could make some.

This book had some amazing quotes, and I really loved the writing. However, it felt a little long at times and it could have been more of a page turner with shorter chapters, in my opinion. I definitely did have goosebumps reading the end of this book, and I liked a lot about it. I just didn’t love it as much as I was maybe hoping to.

NB/CW: It is definitely worth noting this book is New Adult and contains somewhat detailed M/M sex scenes. Also contains alcohol use, mentions drug use, discussion of death of a parent.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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