Monthly Wrap-Ups

February 2021 Wrap-Up

How is it already March? While February is the shortest month, it seemed to particularly fly by this year. I can’t believe it has been almost an entire year since the start of the pandemic. So much has happened in my life since then, and yet at the same time everything is still at a standstill. It is a wild contradiction that I am still figuring out the best way to navigate. I was pretty busy this month, so I didn’t get as much reading done as I would have liked, but I am hoping to make up for it in March!

Books Read

Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch ★★★★★

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah ★★★★★  

Isoldesse by Kimberly Grymes ★★

Favorite Book of the Month

Currently Reading

Challenge Updates

Goodreads Challenge: 9 of 100

Classics Club Challenge: 10 of 50

Broadway Book Chat: Maggie Malaney

February Reviews

• Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch • Isoldesse by Kimberly Grymes

February Posts

• Top 10 Tuesday: My Favorite Books That Were Written Before I Was Born • Cleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #32 • Top 10 Tuesday: Books With Forbidden Love • Top 10 Tuesday: Purple, Yellow, and Green Book Covers • This or That Book Tag • Top 10 Tuesday: Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud • 

Broadway Book Chat

Broadway Book Chat: Maggie Malaney

As an actor, every job you do, you make a new family.  There is something special about theatre and its ability to bring people together in a way that is unlike any other.  I have made so many amazing friends throughout my career, and many of them share my love of books and literature.  Since theatre brings stories to life, I thought I would feature some of my favorite performers (my fabulous friends and castmates) and see what their bookshelves look like! Welcome to my Broadway Book Chat!

Maggie Malaney

instagram: @magmalaney

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

What is your favorite book series?

I am embarrassed to say I haven’t read any book series since I was a kid. So I suppose Harry Potter or Hunger Games!  

Who is your favorite author?  What makes them special to you?

Before quarantine I didn’t take the time to read and cultivate my literary interests. I would read only about 3-5 books a year. Since the initial stay at home order in March I have read 30 books! I haven’t made any serious relationships with authors yet, but I have found a deep crush for Taylor Jenkins Reid. Her book Daisy Jones and the Six is so unique and so much fun! I’ve read Maybe in Another Life and have on my TBR list The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I love how different all her books are! 

What book inspires you and why?

I don’t think I have one specific book I am inspired by. I am really drawn to women’s stories written by women authors. I recently read A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum and truly is one of the best books I’ve read, I highly recommend. 

Do you have a favorite genre bubble or are you adventurous?

I’m adventurous forsure! I was on a thriller kick for a while, but I’ll try any genre really. 

Which literary character would you like to play?

I mean I know it’s already said and done, but I always wanted to be Katniss. 

If you could be friends with any of the characters you have played, who would it be and why?

I played Whatshername in American Idiot in college and boy would I love to have her drive and thrill for life (minus the heavy drugs obvi)

What book would you like to see made into a musical/play/movie?

I think it is in the works to be made into a movie but Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. 

What is the next book on your reading list?

Up next I have Girl A by Abigail Dean!

Have you ever thought about writing yourself?

haha No, I do not have the skills to be a writer, but sometimes I’ll write random thoughts/ poems in my notes tab in my phone, but I would never show anyone those. 

What show are you currently in/what was the last show you were in and who did you play?

Before the lockdown I was one week into rehearsal of Kiss me Kate at the Marriott Theatre in Chicago! Praying we can all get back to doing what we love soon!

What is your favorite show you’ve been a part of and why?

I would have to say the show we did together! – “Guys and Dolls” at the Fulton. It was the year after I graduated college and the first time I was like “oh I am really doing this, this is my life”; I remember looking around and watching everyone perform and just being so excited I was in the room with such talented performers doing what I loved and trained my whole life to do. 

Thank you to my wonderful friend, Maggie, for sharing with us! I would love some suggestions for new questions you would like to ask, or things you want to know from our performers.  Leave them in the comments and I will add them to future interviews!

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud

Happy Top 10 Tuesday my lovelies! In these crazy times, I’m probably not alone in needing a good laugh every now and again. This week’s topic, hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl, is Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud.

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

The Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

The Princess Diaries Series by Meg Cabot

Magic in Manhattan Series by Sarah Mylnowski

Again, but Better by Christina Riccio

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

This list was harder for me than I thought it would be! What books have made you laugh? Let me know ❤

ARCs · Book Reviews

ARC Review: Isoldesse by Kimberly Grymes

Friendships are tested, new alliances are made, and the truth of one woman’s actions from over a millennia ago are revealed.

Kenna and Meegan are college students dealing with upcoming finals, needy parents, boy drama, and what to do with their lives after they graduate in a few weeks. What they weren’t expecting was for Kenna to receive a powerful stone necklace that ultimately changes their plans for a relaxing summer.

Strange things begin to happen to Kenna, like being the only one who can see and talk to the mysterious old woman with a golden aura. Or how in her dreams, a man with vibrant orange eyes keeps appearing who may or may not be real. Though, not all of Kenna’s mysterious encounters are pleasant as she’s haunted by massive beings carrying long swords and wearing armor covered in black scales.

Besides solving the mystery of where the stone necklace came from, Kenna, Meegan, and their friends are taken to another world for a routine evolutionary assessment. The assessment gets sabotaged and causes more chaos for Kenna and her friends, especially for Meegan who is forced to open up and reveal her true identity and the magic she hides.

There’s one name that Kenna, Meegan, the Sendarians, and the monsters who’ve been hunting Meegan and her family for over a century all have in common…

*Release Date: March 2nd, 2021*

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review!*

This book was interesting and different. Let me just start off by saying that this cover is absolutely STUNNING and definitely drew me to reading this. The concept of this book is amazing and it has a super in-depth world that I really would like to see more of. The story is told in several POVs that show us different aspects of the plot that weave together, but it is only sometimes effective. I love the use of that narrative style here, but there were too many POVs for me and it made it a bit confusing to follow, especially because the world is so vast and layered with new information for the reader. There were several moments as it was piecing together that were very exciting and cool, but I think some editing could have been done in narrowing the storytellers down, while telling the same story, and creating a stronger narrative. I also had trouble connecting to the characters. I understood the idea of them, but never felt like they were dimensional, real people. They also seemed too young in the way they spoke and acted for me to believe these were almost college graduates. I really loved the concept and thought the plot was clever and unique-there were a few twists in there that worked incredibly well- but in general, this book just did not grab me enough.


This or That Book Tag

Hello lovelies! I found this tag over at Way Too Fantasy and it called to me and looked like a fun one to do. Here is the This or That Book Tag.

Read on the bed or the couch?

I like both equally I think… Bed at night with tea, couch in the morning with my coffee.

Read at night or in the morning?

Ooooh. Once again both. I probably read more at night in general, but lately I’ve been enjoying starting my morning with a chapter and my coffee when I can.

Male main character or female main character?

Female for sure. They’re easier for me to relate to. I won’t not read and enjoy a book with a male main character, but I am definitely more drawn to female MCs.

First person POV or third person POV?

Hmmm. This is tricky because I like both. I think for me it depends on the genre. For contemporary and romance I like first person, but for fantasy and historical fiction I prefer third person.

Trilogies or quartets?

Trilogies. I either want 3 or 10 haha

Libraries or bookstore?

Oooooh. This is a hard one. I love both so much. I think I have to say bookstore because I do love owning the books forever and adding them to my collection, but libraries are free and allow you to try books you’re maybe unsure about without commiting monetarily haha…. but I think overall I’d have to say bookstore.

Books that make you laugh or cry?

It might seem weird, but I love books that make me cry. I want to be emotionally wrecked by a book. Something that can touch my heart and connect to my emotions that much is special experience. Not that I don’t love to laugh while reading too, but I crave that deep connection to characters and stories.

Black book covers or white book covers?

Hmmm. I think black. They tend to look more dynamic on my shelf.

Character-driven or plot-driven? 

Character-driven FOR SURE. If you have a good character-driven story the plot is better no matter what. Characters are what create the emotional connection and most of the time when I feel like something is missing, it’s because of that missing character depth which in turn creates a lack throughout the rest of the novel.

Whew. Some of those were harder to choose than I thought they’d be. What would you choose? Let me know and let’s chat about it 🙂 I would love to hear other perspectives.

Book Reviews

Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch Review

Santorini felt like an island holding its breath. As if it were keeping in a secret…

Liv Varanakis doesn’t like to think about her father much, which makes sense—he fled to Greece when she was only eight, leaving her with just a few painful memories of their shared love for the lost city of Atlantis. So when teenage Liv suddenly receives a postcard from her father, who explains that National Geographic is supporting a documentary about his theories on Atlantis—and asks if she will fly out to Greece and help—Liv is less than thrilled.

When she arrives in gorgeous Santorini, things are just as awkward as she’d imagined. There are so many questions, so many emotions that flood to the surface after seeing her father for the first time in years. Liv doesn’t want to get sucked back into her father’s world. She also definitely doesn’t want Theo, her father’s charismatic so-called protégé, to witness her struggle.

Even so, she can’t help but be charmed by everything Santorini has to offer—the beautiful sunsets, the turquoise water, the sun-drenched villages, and the delicious cuisine. But not everything on the Greek island is as perfect as it seems. Because as Liv slowly begins to discover, her father may not have invited her to Greece for Atlantis, but for something much more important.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series (although all can be read as standalones) Love & Gelato, but the second book, Love & Luck, didn’t quite match my excitement. I am so happy to say that this newest installment is my favorite of them all. First of all, the chapter structure was so clever and really helped guide the story. Like all of Welch’s books, this one did not disappoint in the wanderlust department, and the gorgeous descriptions of Santorini helped me escape the freezing cold I’m currently living in and travel vicariously with Liv. I loved Liv and instantly felt connected to her. You could see the effect her father’s leaving had on her growth and her pain and struggle with it are painted vividly for us. Watching her protective shell crack and her truest self emerge as the story and her newfound relationship with her father developed was extremely endearing. In fact, all of the relationships in this book were very well crafted and real. I loved Liv’s relationship with her family at home, especially her bond with her mom, and her budding friendship with Theo in Santorini was adorable and gave me a nice slow burning and believable romance. The whole story of Atlantis is absolutely fascinating, and I loved getting to learn about it. I thought the tie in of her and her father’s relationship with the mysterious city was heart-wrenchingly beautiful and brilliant. I ugly cried for probably the last 100 pages of the book and was left feeling both emotionally drained and happily fulfilled.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Books With Forbidden Love

Happy Top Ten Tuesday my loves! It’s almost Valentine’s Day and I know I’m hoping to dive into some great love stories this week. This week’s topic, hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl, is a Valentine’s day freebie, so I’m doing Books With Forbidden Love, a trope I never tire of. I also love that there is a range of “forbidden”- between a witch and a witch hunter to a high society girl and her stable boy- there are so many good ones.

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

No Angel by Penny Vincenzi

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

Do you like forbidden romance? Which are your favorites? Let me know in the comments ❤

Discussion Posts

Cleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #32

I joined Goodreads a while ago, way before I started blogging, so my profile is kind of a mess.  I really want to clean it up so I can make better use of it.  I thought what a better way to do that than to join the Down the TBR Hole meme started by Lia @Lost In a Story! I am going to do it once a month instead of weekly, and hopefully make my Goodreads a pleasant and useful place to be again.

Here is how it works:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books

Decide: keep it or should it go?

Little Night by Luanne Rice

Clare Burke’s life took a devastating turn when she tried to protect her sister, Anne, from an abusive and controlling husband and ended up serving prison time for assault. The verdict largely hinged on Anne’s defense of her spouse—all lies—and the sisters have been estranged ever since. Nearly twenty years later, Clare is living a quiet life in Manhattan as an urban birder and nature blogger, when her niece, Grit, turns up on her doorstep.

The two long for a relationship with each other, but they’ll have to dig deep into their family’s difficult past in order to build one. Together they face the wounds inflicted by Anne and find in their new connection a place of healing. When Clare begins to suspect her sister might be in New York, she and her niece hold out hope for a long-awaited reunion with her.

A riveting story about women and the primal, tangled family ties that bind them together, Little Night marks a milestone for Luanne Rice—the thirtieth novel from the author with a talent for creating stories that are “exciting, emotional, terrific”

My Thoughts: This sounds like it could be interesting, but if I’m being honest with myself, I probably will never get to it. VERDICT: TOSS

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

From an early age, Kate and her identical twin sister, Violet, knew that they were unlike everyone else. Kate and Vi were born with peculiar “senses”—innate psychic abilities concerning future events and other people’s secrets. Though Vi embraced her visions, Kate did her best to hide them.

Now, years later, their different paths have led them both back to their hometown of St. Louis. Vi has pursued an eccentric career as a psychic medium, while Kate, a devoted wife and mother, has settled down in the suburbs to raise her two young children. But when a minor earthquake hits in the middle of the night, the normal life Kate has always wished for begins to shift. After Vi goes on television to share a premonition that another, more devastating earthquake will soon hit the St. Louis area, Kate is mortified. Equally troubling, however, is her fear that Vi may be right. As the date of the predicted earthquake quickly approaches, Kate is forced to reconcile her fraught relationship with her sister and to face truths about herself she’s long tried to deny.

Funny, haunting, and thought-provoking, Sisterland is a beautifully written novel of the obligation we have toward others, and the responsibility we take for ourselves. With her deep empathy, keen wisdom, and unerring talent for finding the extraordinary moments in our everyday lives, Curtis Sittenfeld is one of the most exceptional voices in literary fiction today.

My Thoughts: I remember really liking Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld and I’m fascinated by psychic abilities, so this book is exciting to me. VERDICT: KEEP

Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

Edward Warren, twenty-four, has been living in Thailand for five years, a prodigal son who left his family after an irreparable fight with his father, Luke. But he gets a frantic phone call: His dad lies comatose, gravely injured in the same accident that has also injured his younger sister Cara.

With her father’s chances for recovery dwindling, Cara wants to wait for a miracle. But Edward wants to terminate life support and donate his father’s organs. Is he motivated by altruism, or revenge? And to what lengths will his sister go to stop him from making an irrevocable decision?

Lone Wolf explores the notion of family, and the love, protection and strength it’s meant to offer. But what if the hope that should sustain it, is the very thing that pulls it apart? Another tour de force from Jodi Picoult, Lone Wolf examines the wild and lonely terrain upon which love battles reason.

My Thoughts: I’ve liked most of the Jodi Picoult books I have read and I think this one was added for author alone cuz this one doesn’t sound appealing to me. VERDICT: TOSS

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

A sweeping story told in letters, spanning two continents and two world wars, Jessica Brockmole’s atmospheric debut novel captures the indelible ways that people fall in love, and celebrates the power of the written word to stir the heart.
March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive.
June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.

My Thoughts: Scotland and World War I!? Plus its high Goodreads rating? I’m sold. VERDICT: KEEP

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar with her boardinghouse roommate stretching three dollars as far as it will go when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a tempered smile, happens to sit at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a yearlong journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool toward the upper echelons of New York society and the executive suites of Condé Nast—rarefied environs where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve.

Wooed in turn by a shy, principled multi-millionaire, and an irrepressible Upper East Side ne’er-do-well, befriended by a single-minded widow who is ahead of her time, and challenged by an imperious mentor, Katey experiences firsthand the poise secured by wealth and station and the failed aspirations that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her life, she begins to realize how our most promising choices inevitably lay the groundwork for our regrets.

My Thoughts: I have been wanting to read this book for so long and I own a copy, so I will definitely be getting to this one eventually. VERDICT: KEEP

What do you think of my decisions? Do you agree? Let me know in the comments! ❤

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: My Favorite Books That Were Written Before I Was Born

Happy Top Ten Tuesday everyone! This week’s topic, hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl, is Books Written Before I Was Born. I have decided to showcase my favorite books that pre-date my existence- so here are my favorite books that were written before 1992!

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë- 1847

Emma by Jane Austen- 1815

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier- 1938

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann- 1966

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett- 1989

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho- 1988

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck- 1937

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon- 1991

Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian L. Weiss- 1988

The Valley of Horses by Jean M. Auel- 1982