Book Reviews

Review: The Iron Flower (The Black Witch Chronicles #2) by Laurie Forest

35750305Summary: Elloren Gardner and her friends were only seeking to right a few wrongs, but their actions have propelled them straight into the ranks of the realm-wide Resistance against Gardnerian encroachment. As the Resistance struggles against the harsh rulings of High Priest Marcus Vogel and the Mage Council, Elloren begins to realize that none of the people she cares about will be safe if Gardneria seizes control of the Western Realm.

With tensions heating up in Verpacia, more and more Gardnerian soldiers continue to descend upon the university…led by none other than Lukas Grey, now commander of the newly rebuilt Fourth Division base. Though Elloren tries to keep him at arm’s length, Lukas is determined to wandfast to her, convinced that she has inherited her grandmother’s magic—the prophesied power of the Black Witch. As his very nearness seems to awaken a darkness inside her, Elloren finds it more and more difficult to believe that she’s truly powerless, as her uncle always claimed.

Caught between her growing feelings for the rebellious Yvan Guriel and the seductive power offered by Lukas Grey, Elloren must find a way to stay true to what she knows is right and protect everyone she loves…even if that means protecting them from herself.

My Thoughts: I was so excited to get back to the world of The Black Witch Chronicles with The Iron Flower.  It was one of my most anticipated releases of this year, and it definitely delivered.  We pick up right where we left off at the end of The Black Witch, and I immediately became reabsorbed into the story of Elloren.  While she can sometimes be a bit whiny and victim-y, I can’t help but feel for her and root for her to succeed.  She recognizes and is disgusted by the privilege that she comes from, and wants to do everything in her power to fix the horrible things that her people are doing.  All of the characters in this series are very well developed and interesting, and we only add more layers in this book.  The love triangle between Elloren, Yvan, and Lukas is great and continues to grow. The sexual tension between Elloren and Yvan almost killed me with anticipation and I wanted to scream at them to BE TOGETHER ALREADY.  Their relationship has grown so much and is the ultimate slow burn.  This world that Forest has created is incredibly vast and detailed, and we got to experience so much more of it this time.  We deal a lot with the politics happening in and around Verpacia, and it’s all super dark and I can’t wait to see how things will end up.  SO much happens in this book and I never knew where it was going to go.  The ending was very satisfying and had a great build leading up to a huge cliff hanger.  I am along for the ride, and I can’t wait to see what is going to happen next.

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Broadway Book Chat

Broadway Book Chat: Hannah Cruz from Hamilton

It's Liberation Day.

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 cast mates) and see what their bookshelves look like! Welcome to my Broadway Book Chat!

Hannah Cruz


Currently playing Eliza in the national tour of  Hamilton! 

insta: @thisishannahcruz

twitter: @heyhannahcruz

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie.

What is your favorite book series?IMG_7004

Growing up I was thoroughly obsessed with the series Pendragon I remember writing the author, D. J. MacHale, and telling him I would be perfect to play one of the girl characters ‘Courtney Chetwynde’. Which was not true at all. She was like a soccer star and I could never get through any sporting event without crying. But you know, acting.

Who is your favorite author?

Ron Currie Jr. hands down. His books changed my life.

What book inspires you and why?

Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr. It was the first book I read by him. It’s the first time I heard the nihlistic voice in my head on the page and I felt seen.

Which literary character would you like to play?

So. Many. What comes first to mind is the character of ‘Claire’ in (you guessed it) Ron Currie Jr.’s The One Eyed Man. She’s not exactly likable but man there’s so much to mine there. It would be a blast.

IMG_7003If you could be friends with any of the characters you have played, who would it be and why?

Eliza for sure. What an incredible person. I am still learning from her every night. Never mind living to be 97 and continuing her husbands work but FORGIVING him after all he put her though..I don’t know if I could ever achieve that. I’d love to actually speak to her on that.

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

I have always said Girl Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen would make a fantastic play. I always said I would write it but never sat down and put it to work.

What is the next book on your reading list?

Anthony Kiedis’ bio Scar Tissue! The Red Hot Chili Peppers are my favorite band and I can’t wait to crack that one open.

What is your favorite show you have worked on and why?

Hamilton has been such a ride. Just telling the story every night is such a rush. It’s exhausting and it’s taking everything I’ve got, but I love it.

Catch Hannah and the rest of the cast of Hamilton on tour around the US!

I feature a new performer every month! I would love some suggestions for questions you would like to ask, or things you want to know!  Leave them in the comments and I will add them to future interviews! Thank you to my insanely talented and beautiful (inside and out) friend, Hannah, for sharing with us! ❤

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: My Favorite Villains


There is nothing like a good villain.  This week’s theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is celebrating the villains that we all love to hate.  Here are 10 of my favorite baddies.

Maven Calore from Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I love Maven.  He is complicated and tortured and so hateable while still retaining a sympathetic air.

Warner from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Warner quickly became one of my favorite villains.  The novellas from his point of view are genius.  Another complex character that I just can’t get enough of.

Cersei Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

Cersei is EVERYTHING.  I am both simultaneously excited for and dreading what is sure to be the most epic comeuppance ever.

Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter by JK Rowling

I just hate her.

William Hamleigh from Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

One of the first villains to make me so angry it actually seeped through into my real life.  I threw the book, and to this day I have yet to hate a character as much as I hate William Hamleigh.

Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

Miranda Priestly is just a raging biotch.  And while I do love the book version, I have to say that Meryl’s interpretation in the film just perfection.

AIDAN from Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Is AIDAN a villain? Still not sure, but they sure did some MESSED UP things.  I freaking LOVE this character though and how cuckoo-bananas it is.

Ernt Allbright from The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Another semi-villain.  Ernt isn’t inherently bad, but because of his past and environment, he becomes the villain of this story and it isn’t entirely his fault.

Grand-Mere from The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot

In the movies she is so nice, but in the books she is Mia’s foil in everything and I LIVE for her, her poodle, her tattooed eyebrows, and her sidecars.

Severus Snape from Harry Potter by JK Rowling

While Snape got a hero’s ending, throughout the entire series he is a completely hate-able and miserable human being.  I think he is one of her best written characters, and I love how morally gray he is.

What do you think of my choices?  Do you love to hate any of these characters? Let me know in the comments. ❤

Book Reviews

Review: Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

30079439Summary: If you’re not careful, you can spend your whole life looking for what you’ve lost.

One stormy summer in a small Irish town, things begin to disappear. It starts with trivial stuff—hair clips, house keys, socks—but soon it escalates to bigger things: a memory, a heart, a classmate.

Olive can tell that her best friend, Rose, is different all of a sudden. Rose isn’t talking, and Olive starts to worry she’s losing her. Then diary pages written by someone named Laurel begin to appear all over town. And Olive meets three mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel, and her twin brother, Rowan, secretly squatting in an abandoned housing development. The trio are wild and alluring, but they seem lost too—and like Rose, they’re holding tightly to painful secrets.

When a tattered handwritten spellbook falls into the lives of these six teenagers, it changes everything. The spellbook is full of charms to conjure back that which has been lost, and it lists a part for each of them to play in the calling. It might be their best chance to set everything back to rights, but only if they’re willing to pay the price.

My Thoughts: I was totally absorbed in this book.  The writing style was beautiful and mysterious, just like the story itself, and the unique voices of the characters helped the mystery of the plot unfold in a stunning and completely engaging way.  The characters were super diverse and all of them had their own quirks and strong personalities.  I loved that there were LGBT characters, but that it wasn’t the focus of the story.  It was just who they were, which I felt was refreshing in a YA novel.  The weaving of all the different perspectives was very effective in telling and unraveling the story.  I thought the pacing was fantastic and the twist was satisfying, even though I kind of called part of what was happening.  The only thing keeping me from giving this book a full five stars, was that at times I felt that the actual spell and how it worked was a tad bit confusing, but I still really loved the concept of it.  I wish we could have gotten a better explanation about Jude and who he was, but I guess that is just part of the mystery of the spell.  The whole vibe of the book was spooky and yet seductive at the same time.  A perfect fall read.

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Fall Book Tag

It took long enough, but it is FINALLY starting to feel like Fall here this week in NYC.  I thought it was the perfect time to do the Fall Book Tag created by Bionic Book Worm!  Make sure you check out her blog too because it’s fabulous!




I chose The Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory because I have never read anything like it.  It was a princess-spy novel, and I thought the whole concept was super clever and original.





Jaw on the FLOOR.  I was dead at the end of this book.  I can’t believe I have to wait so long for the next one now, because my mind is still reeling from that ending.





I just LOVED this book.  I’m super close to my family, so it gave me the warm fuzzies to read about such a fun and tight knit fam.  The writing was very relatable and just made me happy.




I’m obsessed with The Sookie Stackhouse books.  This one has all the colors and is a perfect “spooky” fall read.




This series is the epitome of non-stop action.  My heart was racing the ENTIRE time, through all three books.  Such an incredible concept and brilliant execution.




I love Anna Godbersen, and her Luxe Series is one of my all time favorites.  When I saw she was coming out with another book in the same time period, I freaked out.  This one is next on my TBR and I am so pumped.


I tag anyone who loves a good pumpkin spice latte ❤
Book Reviews

Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

34499221Summary: Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

My Thoughts: This book has been on my radar for so long, and I finally got my hands on it.  There was a lot of hype surrounding this one, and I’m happy to say that it lived up to it.  I was drawn into the story immediately, as Christo built the world in such an immersive way.  Each kingdom was painted in a beautiful and detailed picture, regardless of how much time we spent there.  Learning the politics of the world was interesting, and I would love to have more time in each setting.  Her use of sirens was something that I have little experience with, so I was completely open to the concept and to how their abilities worked.  There were definitely hints of The Little Mermaid, while still holding its own as a completely new story.  Lira was a very interesting and unconventional heroine.  I had no idea what to expect, and couldn’t wait to see what her journey was going to be.  I loved how dark these sirens were, and Lira’s internal conflict made for an intriguing plot and built up a complicated main character.  I absolutely loved Prince Elian and his pirate crew.  Each member of the crew was well developed and their banter was always entertaining.  Elian was definitely swoon-worthy, and I really enjoyed seeing his relationship Lira develop; however, I wanted a little more chemistry between them.  There was definitely an undercurrent of it, but I could have used a bit more sexual tension.  Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  It was exciting, had a strong world, some great characters, and was a super unique story with elements of a beloved classic.  What more could you ask for?

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Book Reviews

ARC Netgalley Review: The Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory

38532225Summary: For fans of The Princess Diaries and The Royal We comes a fun and daring novel about a modern-day princess who teams up with a spy to find out what happened to the fiancé who left her at the altar—and who just might get her own fairytale in the process.

Princess Theodora Isabella Victoria of Drieden of the Royal House Laurent is so over this princess thing.

After her fiancé jilted her on their wedding day, she’s finally back home after spending four months in exile—aka it’s back to press conferences, public appearances, and putting on a show for the Driedish nation as the perfect princess they expect her to be. But Thea’s sick of duty. After all, that’s what got her into this mess in the first place.

So when she sneaks out of the palace and meets a sexy Scot named Nick in a local bar, she relishes the chance to be a normal woman for a change. But just as she thinks she’s found her Prince Charming for the night, he reveals his intentions are less than honorable: he’s the brother of her former fiancé, a British spy, and he’s not above blackmail. As Thea reluctantly joins forces with Nick to find out what happened the day her fiancé disappeared, together they discover a secret that could destroy a centuries-old monarchy and change life as they know it.

Funny, fast-paced, and full of more twists and turns than the castle Thea lives in, The Royal Runaway is a fresh romantic comedy that will leave you cheering for the modern-day royal who chucks the rulebook aside to create her own happily-ever-after.

*I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review!*

My Thoughts:  This book caught my eye on Netgalley with “Fans of Princess Diaries,” and it did not disappoint.  I fell in love with Princess Theodora’s feisty demeanor and confidence.  She was raised to be a princess and she is unapologetic of that fact, but she was she was still very relatable.  I absolutely loved her relationship with Nick, and they had great, undeniable, swoon-worthy chemistry.  The development of their relationship was gradual and believable, and  I was rooting for them the entire time.  The world building was fantastic, including a full and well-planned history of the country, Drieden.  It was a seamless addition to the world as we know it, and I wish it was a place I could actually visit.  The plot is super quick and definitely delivered on the promised twists and turns.  I’m not generally a spy novel person, but I really enjoyed the story of this one.  I never knew who to trust and it kept me guessing until the end.  The reveals were timed and spaced out well, keeping the pace and energy up.  There was plenty of action and I loved that it never got too dark.  They were dealing with some pretty heavy stuff at times, but it never got dragged down.  I think the idea of a romantic comedy/spy novel is really clever and original, and this one just worked.  It was an incredibly enjoyable read, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a fun royal adventure.

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Get to Know You YA Tag

a baby shower for amelia

I found this tag on Thrice Read, and I thought it looked like fun.

Favorite book of all time?

I mean, not including Harry Potter, I’d have to say Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

Favorite book five years ago?

Still Pillars of the Earth.

Favorite duology/trilogy/series?

Harry Potter, The Kingsbridge books by Ken Follett, and The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot.

Last book you read?

The Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory.  I really loved it.  Review coming soon!

Last book of poetry you read?

Ummmm….. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein? I don’t really read poetry.

What book most influenced your life?

Most recently, You are A Badass by Jen Sincero.  It really helps me keep my mind focused and positive in a difficult business.

Book that made you ugly cry?

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.  Really, anything by Kristin Hannah.

Book that made you laugh?

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.  It has quickly become one of my favorite books and I think the world of magic is both incredibly clever and hilarious.

Character you’d like to be for a day?

Random Hogwarts student number 17.  Just get me there.  Or Blair Waldorf.

Book so good you dreamt about it?

Harry Potter.  Multiple times.

Book you DNFd?

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It still hurts me to admit it, but I just couldn’t get through it.  There is a chance I’ll give it another try someday, but for the foreseeable future it’s a no-go.

What book are you most excited to read?

SO MANY.  How do I even answer this question!?  I guess right now, I’d have to say The Towering Sky by Katharine McGee.  I love this series, and I can’t wait to find out how it ends.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: The Longest Books I’ve Ever Read


I love big books.  I love being able to dive into a huge adventure knowing that I’ll get to live there for a while.  This week’s theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is The Longest Books I’ve Ever Read.  I have read a lot of really long books (most of them written by my man Ken Follett), so there might be some that I am forgetting.  I got the page count from Goodreads, so depending on the version you might have to give or take a few pages.  Here are the longest books that I’ve read in descending order:

The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon (Outlander #5)

1,443 pages


The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (The Kingkiller Chronicles #2)

1,037 pages


Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett (The Century Trilogy #3)

1,098 pages


The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

1,038 pages


Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

1,037 pages


World Without End by Ken Follett

1,014 pages


Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

985 pages


Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

973 pages


Winter of the World by Ken Follett

940 pages


Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

936 pages


What is the longest book you have ever read?  Have you read any of mine?  Do you prefer longer or shorter books? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
Book Reviews · Reading Challenges

Netgalley Review: Toil & Trouble edited by Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe

36426163Summary:  A young adult fiction anthology of 15 stories featuring contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era.

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

Glinda the Good Witch. Elphaba the Wicked Witch. Willow. Sabrina. Gemma Doyle. The Mayfair Witches. Ursula the Sea Witch. Morgan le Fey. The three weird sisters from Macbeth.

History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations.

Bold. Powerful. Rebellious.

A bruja’s traditional love spell has unexpected results. A witch’s healing hands begin to take life instead of giving it when she ignores her attraction to a fellow witch. In a terrifying future, women are captured by a cabal of men crying witchcraft and the one true witch among them must fight to free them all. In a desolate past, three orphaned sisters prophesize for a murderous king. Somewhere in the present, a teen girl just wants to kiss a boy without causing a hurricane.

From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together—magically or mundanely–has long frightened society, to the point that women’s rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. Toil & Trouble delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points of view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored.

My Thoughts: What a cool book.  As everyone knows, I love witches, so I snapped up the chance to read this collection of short witchy stories as soon as I saw it on Netgalley.  It is a collection of 15 short stories, all written by different women, involving magic, witches, and femininity.  The most amazing thing about this collection is the diversity.  Every story is vastly different from the one before, including the characters, writing styles, forms of magic, concepts, etc.  We got so much variety, and yet they all worked well together as a cohesive collection.  There were definitely some stories that I enjoyed and connected to more than others, but I think there is truly something for everyone in this collection.  My favorite stories were “The Gherin Girls” by Emery Lord, “Beware of the Girls With Crooked Mouths” by Jessica Spotswood, and “Why They Watch Us Burn” by Elizabeth May.  “Beware of the Girls With Crooked Mouths” was so captivating, and I loved the system of magic and the plot of the story.  I could have easily read (and want) an expansion of this story into a novel.  “The Gherin Girls” I loved because of the sisterly relationship (I really connected to these characters) and the subtle, yet well developed magic in it.  “Why They Watch Us Burn” was an incredible way to end the anthology.  It was completely haunting, terrifying, and scarily relevant.  I rated each story with a star rating and then averaged them to get my overall rating for the collection and it came out to a solid THREE STARS, but some of these stories are worth so much more to me.  There was a quote from “Why They Watch Us Burn” that really resonated with me, and I’m sure will with a lot of women.  “The most terrifying thing in the world is a girl with power.  That’s why they watch us burn.”

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