Book Reviews

ARC Review: Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway

32949202Summary: He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse in Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.

*I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge! Thank you for the opportunity!*

Release Date: February 5th, 2019


My Thoughts:  This book was different than I had expected.  It is billed as a fantasy novel, but other than being set in a fictional world, there were no fantasy elements whatsoever.  It read more like a historical fiction war story- which is cool, but I kept waiting for the fantasy aspect to emerge and it never did.  The fictional world is really in depth with complicated politics, which was amazing, but I found myself floundering without enough knowledge to fully grasp it all (I didn’t have the map in my ARC, and I think that would have helped me to understand it all better.  There will be map in the official release.) In addition to the fully developed world, the characters were also pretty well formed and interesting- Athan especially.  He was really likable and I empathized with him a lot.  There was a great contrast between him and Aurelia and their relationship was sweet, however; I didn’t feel like it progressed enough.  I loved their star-crossed lovers scenario, but I just wish there would have been a little more heat.  In fact, the whole book was pretty slow and there wasn’t a lot of action.  It was very politically focused, with intricate schemes and plans, and it felt like a set up for later action that didn’t come in this book.  The last few chapters were a bit more exciting as things came to a head, and I did enjoy the twists, but I didn’t feel like there was enough plot driven action for the first book in a series.  Overall, it was beautifully written with an interesting premise and characters, but it was a bit too slow for me to get fully on board.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List

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My TBR, both physical and mental, is constantly growing.  I should be better about actually getting to the books that are high on my list, but sometimes I just find a random one in an independent bookstore and I can’t help myself.  This week’s theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is 10 Most Recent Additions to my TBR!

What books have you guys added to your lists? Please send me more recommendations because I am an addict and can’t get enough books 🙂
Broadway Book Chat

Broadway Book Chat: Kaylee Olson

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!

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Kaylee Olson

Currently in Chicago at The Fulton Theatre

Instagram: @kaylee.is.the.olson


What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading- well, I am one chapter away from finishing- Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, I just picked up Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica at the supermarket, and I was in the middle of The Power by Naomi Alderman when I had to give it back to the library before leaving town for a contract. I like to read one book at a time, but occasionally I get caught up in a couple different stories.

What is your favorite book series?

My favorite book series would probably align with my favorite authors growing up. I adore everything that Tamora Pierce has ever written. But two of my favorites would be the Trickster’s Duet, and the Beka Cooper Series.  Which happen to be outliers from Tamora Pierce’s very first fantasy series (Song of the Lioness), which makes the interweaving story lines all the more fun! I was also impacted by the Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer. As the swashbuckling historical fiction greatly attracted my adventurous spirit.

What book inspires you and why?

When I need some inspiration, I turn to the book Terrier by Tamora Pierce. The story of a girl moving out of her family home to a rough city to pursue her dream and overcome her weaknesses to be the best she can- is a tale that I find highly relatable. Plus I love a little magic and crime thrown in the mix as well!

Which literary character would you like to play?

If I could play any literary character, I would play Delilah Bard from A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. She is a badass thief with a mysterious past and an even more mysterious future. She’s cool, tough, resourceful and ambitious. Besides, if this book was on stage it would probably have some super cool combat-dancing musical numbers.

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

As a strong member of the ensemble, I tend to play a multitude of characters in a single show. If I could befriend any of those characters, I think I’d like to hang out with “Daisy” my show girl character from the show Bullets over Broadway. She seems like a sassy, flirty kind of gal, who would know all the good speakeasies in the 1920’s.

What book would you like to see made into a movie/musical/play?50452730_241543356599567_4665375377370120192_n

If I could see a book brought to life, then I think Ink Mage from the Fire beneath the Skin Trilogy by Victor Gischler would be a fascinating movie. The visible element of tattoos providing magical power to help a deposed duchess regain her throne… sounds like I need some popcorn. Or, if I could see a book turned into a musical- that I could perform in, of course- I think that the book Caraval by Stephanie Garber would be fabulous. Two sisters swept away to the biggest most elaborate carnival-like performance, inlaid with a game where reality is challenged but the stakes are exceedingly high. I think they might need some showgirls in a musical like that. I’m pretty good at being a showgirl…

What is the next book on your reading list?

The next book on my hit list will be book 2 of the Kushiel’s Legacy trilogy by Jacqueline Carey, Kushiel’s Chosen. Because one cannot start a trilogy and not complete it!

Have you ever thought about writing yourself?

Once upon a time I had a thought in my head of being a writer. Then I realized, that it’s wicked hard; plots and story arcs and the proper use of semicolons was a bit more of a challenge then I knew how to tackle. If I ever find a story to tell, I may reconsider, but for now I’ll stick to book reading instead of book writing.

What show are you currently working on?

Tonight is opening night for me! I will be performing in a production of Chicago at the Fulton Theatre, dancing in the ensemble as well as playing Liz (one of the “Cellblock Tango” girls). Which will be my first speaking part EVER, so wish me luck!!

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

This production of Chicago is turning out to be quite spectacular! This glitzy, vaudeville version has been uniquely original and supremely enjoyable. But other than this most recent credit, the most gratifying show I have ever been a part of was Susan Stroman’s Crazy for You. I was honored to be a part of the 25th anniversary concert performance at Lincoln Center. To have the chance to work with the strong, incredibly brilliant, and legendary Susan Stroman, was an experience I will treasure for the rest of my days. The pinnacle of my career thus far, but only the beginning of my hopes and dreams for the future.


Happy Opening to Kaylee and the rest of the cast of Chicago at The Fulton Theatre! ❤


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 dear friend, Kaylee, for sharing with us! I love you so much!

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read in 2018

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Hello lovely bookworms! I have been in tech rehearsal for Cats this week, so my life has been absolutely crazy and filled with face paint, unitards, and sore muscles.  I have had very little time to read or blog, and missed two posts last week, but I am happy to get back to it with this week’s Top Ten Tuesday from That Artsy Reader GirlBooks I Meant to Read in 2018!

Did you get to all the books you meant to read last year? Which ones do I need to move up on my TBR? Let’s chat in the comments 🙂 Happy reading!
Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Authors I Found in 2018

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I found several authors that I had not read yet last year, and there were a few that really stood out to me.  This week’s theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is New To Me Authors I read in 2018.

Jacqueline Susann

I read and fell absolutely in LOVE with Valley of the Dolls.  I definitely want to check out Susann’s other books to see if they’re just as entertaining and addicting.

Stephanie Perkins

I put off reading Anna and the French Kiss for a long time because of the hype surrounding it, and I am so glad I finally read it.  Such a great, heart-warming romance with a smoldering build up.  I loved it and can’t wait to read the rest.

Laurie Forest

I read both The Black Witch and The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest last year, and I cannot wait for the third book.  It is such a great series with incredible world building and complex characters.

Morgan Matson

I really loved Save the Date.  It was such a sweet and refreshing story about family and growing up, and I totally connected to the characters and writing style.  I got another Matson book for Christmas, and I’m excited to see if I like her other work just as much.

Tahehreh Mafi

I started reading the Shatter Me series last year, and I enjoy it a lot.  What really hooked me was the novellas from Warner’s perspective.  He is probably one of my favorite villains ever, and I’m so looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Rainbow Rowell

Carry On was one of my favorite books of the year, and I am dying for the upcoming sequel.  My sister is also a huge Rainbow Rowell fan, so I have faith that I will enjoy the rest of her books too.

Alice Hoffman

The Rules of Magic was, without a doubt, my favorite book of the year.  I started with Practical Magic (a movie that I love), and was slightly underwhelmed, but The Rules of Magic really blew me away.  Definitely a book I want to reread and one I recommend to everyone.

Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman

The Illuminae Files were out of this world.  Literally.  I still can’t get over how much I loved them.

Stephanie Garber

I was late on the Caraval train, but it really grabbed me.  I read the sequel, Legendary, as well, and I am anxiously awaiting Finale.

Dhonielle Clayton

I LOVED The Belles.  It was such a unique and interesting world that completely fascinated me.  I have an ARC of the next book, The Everlasting Rose (EEEEEE!! Still freaking out about this!), and I cannot wait to see where the story is going to go.


I cannot wait for all of the new authors I can discover in 2019! Leave me some of your favorites in the comments so I can add them to the list! 🙂
Book Reviews

ARC Review: Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

39863269Summary: Jesse Lachlin is cursed.

So the town folklore says, but while Jesse’s had his fair share of tragedy, the only curse he believes is in his grandmother’s will: in order to inherit his family farm he must win the approval of his childhood best friend, the girl he froze out his freshman year, Scarlett Copeland.

Scarlett Copeland is psychic.

Glory Gardner tells Scarlett she has hidden psychic abilities, but Scarlett thinks Glory is delusional. What is real is Scarlett’s father’s irrational fears, controlling attitude, and the dark secrets at home. Scarlett may have a way to escape, but there’s a hitch: she’ll have to rely on the one person she used to trust, the same boy who broke her heart, Jesse Lachlin.

Each midnight meeting pushes Jesse and Scarlett to confront their secrets and their feelings for each other. But as love blooms, the curse rears its ugly head…

*I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge! Thank you for the opportunity!*

Release Date: January 22nd, 2019


My Thoughts:  This book was a great way to start off my reading year! I loved it. Scarlett and Jesse have a broken friendship, and each have secret darknesses of their own. When circumstances bring these two estranged friends together, their connection becomes deeper and more meaningful than it ever was, and they find the solace and help in each other that only true love can bring. This book deals with some pretty dark subject matter- abuse, loss, grief- but I thought all of it was handled extremely well.  To me it seemed very realistic and showed how complicated these types of relationships can be.  The writing was descriptive and emotional, and it really connected me to the characters.  The perspective switches between Jesse and Scarlett were effective, but I wish they would have had more distinctive voices for each character.  Even so, I was completely invested in both of their stories and the way they wove together.  While their relationship did seem to escalate pretty quickly, their backstory of being best friends made that connection seem real and not insta-lovey, and it allowed me to feel all the flutters that their sweet romance induced.  There was a slight mystical element with Jesse’s psychic cousin, Glory, but it wasn’t overwhelming, and added the perfect amount of magic, which felt an awful lot like hope, to a very real story.  This book was different than I expected it to be, but I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.  Definitely recommend.

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Discussion Posts · Tags

Cleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #7

I joined Goodreads a few years 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 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?

    Swapping Lives by Jane Green

31098What if a successful, single Londoner and a comfortable, Connecticut mother of two were to walk in each other?s shoes for a month? Vicky Townsley is the director of Poise! magazine and lives a glamorous London life. She has everything she wants?except marriage, children, and a house in the country. Amber Winslow has a stone mansion in Connecticut, two kids, and a nanny, but she hasn?t found the fulfillment she had expected from being a wife and mother. When she spots an intriguing contest in Poise! Amber impulsively enters, never expecting to be picked. 

A must-read for every modern woman who?s ever considered the road not taken, Swapping Lives is a warm and realistic chronicle of two women who do more than wonder if the grass is greener on the other side of the Atlantic.

My Thoughts: This book sounds fun, but it’s just not really on my radar anymore.  VERDICT: TOSS


She Went All the Way by Meggin Cabot

23226Success hasn’t spoiled screenwriter Lou Calabrese — it’s just given her a taste for luxury. And it’s put her in some bizarre situations — like in a helicopter en route to the wilds of Alaska, sharing too-close quarters with the last man she wants to be with: Jack Townsend! Once a sexy nobody whom Lou helped make a somebody, Jack’s just been dumped by a high-profile Hollywood airhead — who’s eloped with Lou’s longtime love! So what else could go wrong?

Well…

Their pilot could try to shoot the most adored man in America. They could crash land in the icy, mountainous middle of nowhere. And at the worst possible moment, when survival should be their only consideration, Jack could start wondering if maybe he wasn’t a wee bit too hasty for not giving this sexy screenwriter a second look — while Lou could start noticing how superstar Jack is kind of hot after all … 

My Thoughts: I mean it’s Meg Cabot so… this one is a no brainer for me. VERDICT: KEEP


Shoe Addicts Anonymous by Beth Harbison

1087075Helene Zaharis’s  politician husband  keeps her on a tight leash and cancels her credit cards as a way of controlling her. Lorna Rafferty is up to her eyeballs in debt and can’t stop her addiction to Ebay. Sandra Vanderslice, battling agoraphobia, pays her shoe bills by working as a phone sex operator. And Jocelyn Bowen is a nanny for the family from hell (who barely knows a sole from a heel but who will do anything to get out of the house). 
 
On Tuesday nights, these women meet to trade shoes, and, in the process, form friendships that will help them each triumph over their problems—from secret pasts to blackmail, bankruptcy, and dating.  Funny, emotional, and powerful, Shoe Addicts Anonymous is the perfect read for any woman who has ever struggled to find the perfect fit.

My Thoughts: This type of chick-lit just doesn’t grab me like it used to.. I’ve definitely gravitated away from the genre.. VERDICT: TOSS


Sleeping Arrangements by Madeline Wickham

194086Chloe needs a holiday. She’s sick of making wedding dresses, her partner Philip has troubles at work, the whole family wants a break. Her wealthy friend Gerard has offered the loan of his luxury villa in Spain – perfect.

Hugh is not a happy man. His immaculate wife Amanda seems more interested in her new kitchen than in him, and he works so hard to pay for it, he barely has time for his children. Maybe he’ll have a chance to bond with them on holiday. His old friend Gerard has lent them a luxury villa in Spain – perfect.

Both families arrive at the villa and realise the awful truth – Gerard has double-booked. What no-one else realises is that Chloe and Hugh have a history, and as tensions rise within the two families, old passions resurface. It seems that Gerard’s ‘accidental’ double booking may not be an accident after all…

My Thoughts: Ok.. I thought this was gonna be a toss for sure, but it still sounds appealing.  I’m surprised at myself. VERDICT: KEEP


Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

402013There are six things very wrong with my life:

1. I have one of those under-the-skin spots that will never come to a head but lurk in a red way for the next two years.

2. It is on my nose

3. I have a three-year-old sister who may have peed somewhere in my room.

4. In fourteen days the summer hols will be over and then it will be back to Stalag 14 and Oberfuhrer Frau Simpson and her bunch of sadistic teachers.

5. I am very ugly and need to go into an ugly home.

6. I went to a party dressed as a stuffed olive.

In this wildly funny journal of a year in the life of Georgia Nicolson, British author Louise Rennison has perfectly captured the soaring joys and bottomless angst of being a teenager. In the spirit of Bridget Jones’s Diary, this fresh, irreverent, and simply hilarious book will leave you laughing out loud. As Georgia would say, it’s “Fabbity fab fab!”

My Thoughts: I remember when I added this to my TBR, and it looked so funny.  I think I have too many other books on my priority list now.. VERDICT: TOSS


We’re making progress folks! I think I’m getting better at making decisions….  What do you think about my choices? Let me know in the comments 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019

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I am so excited for this new reading year, and there are a ton of books I can’t wait to get my hands on.  Here are my Top Ten Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019!  Bring on the new books! 🙂


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The Wicked King by Holly Black

January 8th


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The Gilded Wolved by Roshani Chokshi

January 15th


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A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

January 29th


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Enchantée by Gita Trelease

February 5th


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The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

February 5th


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Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

March 5th


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Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomy Adeyemi

March 5th


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The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton

March 5th


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Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi


April 2nd

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Finale by Stephanie Garber

May 7th

What books are you excited for this year? Let me know in the comments!! ❤

Book Reviews · Reading Challenges · The Classics Club

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann Review

581811Summary: Dolls: red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight-for Anne, Neely, and Jennifer, it doesn’t matter, as long as the pill bottle is within easy reach. These three women become best friends when they are young and struggling in New York City and then climb to the top of the entertainment industry-only to find that there is no place left to go but down-into the Valley of the Dolls.


My Thoughts: Y’all. THIS. BOOK. I can’t get over it.  It was completely and utterly addicting.  As a musical theatre actress, I can’t get enough of Old Hollywood and this book was everything I wanted.  I loved this view into the entertainment industry of the 1940’s-1960’s, and what I loved most was that it didn’t shy away from the darker side of the industry.  This book caused a huge stir when it was published in 1966, and I can see why.  It was still pretty explicit today, so I can’t imagine the scandal it would have caused upon its release.  The thing that I found so revolutionary about it, was the way it explored the female psyche and sexuality.  Looking back on it from today’s perspective, it really highlights the misogyny and what women were brainwashed to accept as reality, especially in terms of relationships.  This gave us a very interesting perspective into the three distinct and vibrant main characters, who all handle these situations very differently.  I loved all of three of them for so many reasons.  Their journeys were thorough and developed, and I understood each of them completely.  The plot was as addicting as the pills the girls consumed, and I could not put the book down.  This has easily become one of my favorite reads of all time, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

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Book Hangover

Monthly Wrap-Ups

2018 Bookish Wrap-Up

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2018 was a great year for me!  I read more than I ever have and also had some incredible experiences that created life-long memories.  I finished out the year with one of my childhood dreams coming true, rehearsing and getting ready to leave for the National Tour of Cats the Musical in one of my dream roles.  I will be blogging for most of next year from the road, and will hopefully pick up even more amazing moments and stories to share.  I could not be more grateful for everything this year has brought me, and I am so excited for what 2019 has in store!

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Books Read: 79

Pages Read: 29,041


5 Star Reads


4 Star Reads


3 Star Reads


2 Star Reads


1 Star Reads


Challenge Updates

Goodreads Challenge: 79 of 50

A to Z Challenge: 17 of 26

Classics Club Challenge: 5 of 50


 

Here’s to an amazing 2019! Happy reading bookworms! ❤