Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Authors I Found in 2018

TTT-Big2

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! 🙂
Advertisements
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.

Untitled design (4)

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

TTT-Big2

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! 🙂


26032887

The Wicked King by Holly Black

January 8th


39863498

The Gilded Wolved by Roshani Chokshi

January 15th


43204703

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

January 29th


36613718

Enchantée by Gita Trelease

February 5th


39863237

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

February 5th


40597810

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

March 5th


39122774

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomy Adeyemi

March 5th


39080472

The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton

March 5th


x400

Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi


April 2nd

40381392

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.

Untitled design (5)

Book Hangover

Monthly Wrap-Ups

2018 Bookish Wrap-Up

MonthlyWrap - Up

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!

IMG_1140


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! ❤

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: My Top Ten Reads of 2018

TTT-Big2

I read 79 books this year and 31 of them were 5 star reads.  I was super lucky in having such a great reading experience this year, but there were 10 books that rose above the rest for me.  This week’s theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is celebrating our favorite books from 2018.

10. The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

25740412

I LOVED The Black Witch.  I bought it after reading the controversial reviews about it, and I am so glad I did.  The sequel came out this year as well and it was just as good as the first.  I can’t wait to see what is next because the world building and character development in this series has been so great.

9. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

17167166

I am obsessed with this whole series, but this one really stuck with me and got me hooked into the rest of the series.  I also just love Chaol in this one.

8. The Diviners by Libba Bray

7728889

I don’t know what took me so long to start this series, but I CANNOT wait to read the rest of them.  I was so addicted to the plot and fell in love with the characters and their powers.  Also the 1920’s time period was so fun.

7. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

the-great-alone-kristin-hannah

Kristin Hannah is one of my favorite authors and her latest novel did not disappoint.  I sobbed like a little baby and these characters wormed their way into my heart.  I would love to see this made into a film.

6. Emma by Jane Austen

6492390

Emma is now one of my favorite classics.  I have become such an Austen fan and I think Emma is my favorite of her characters.

5. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

1278752

This book haunted me for days and gave me one of my biggest book hangovers of the whole year.  It was also one of the first books I read in 2018 and it still stood up against all the rest.

4. Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

23395680

I still can’t get over this series.  It took me for a ride I was completely unprepared for and I loved every minute of it.

3. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

23734628

This book is hilarious and so insanely clever.  I loved the world of magic and the language of the story and this is definitely a book I could re-read several times and never get sick of it.  I CANNOT wait for the sequel!

2. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

581811

This. Book.  I am obsessed.  It is one of new favorite books of all time, and I will recommend it to anyone and everyone.  It was so revolutionary for its time and is still  completely relevant.  I can totally relate and reveled in the ins and outs of the entertainment industry, and there is nothing better than Old Hollywood Glamour.  Unfortunately, the movie ruined the book, but you can’t win them all.

1. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

34037113

Here it is, by far my favorite book of the year.  This book is absolutely STUNNING.  The writing, the characters, the story, the quotes.  It just takes the cake for me.  It’s pretty close to perfection.


What were your favorite books this year? Let me know in the comments which books I need to add to my 2019 TBR! ❤ Happy New Year everyone!

Broadway Book Chat

Broadway Book Chat: Lauren Lukacek from Love Never Dies

Broadway Book Chat

As an actor, every job you do, you make a new family.  There is something special about theatre and it’s 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!

Lauren Lukacek

Lauren Lukacek

From the National Tour of Love Never Dies: The Phantom Returns

www.laurenlukacek.com

Instagram: @laurenlukacek

What are you currently reading?

I’m in the middle of David Sedaris’ latest collection of essays, Calypso.  I’ve loved reading his stuff since my mom first gave me Me Talk Pretty One Day when I was in college.  A lot of the comedic essays I write (about being an actor in New York and all the craziness that goes with it) were inspired by his work.

What is your favorite book series?

I’m not really a book series kind of gal! I did get through all of The Hunger Games books, which I really enjoyed.  But I love reading paper copies of books rather than digital books, and it’s hard to travel multiple books while touring.  A lot of books that I read on tour were hand me downs from other cast members that I found on the free table or that the women’s ensemble kept passing around for an informal book club.  It was easiest to conserve space by reading something and then letting it go.

Who is your favorite author?IMG_8532

I have a huge soft spot for Rosamunde Pilcher.  After college, my mom introduced me to Shell Seekers and  I got hooked on her storytelling.  She has a wonderful way of describing the ins and outs of daily life in a captivating way.  I also love her novel September, which follows some of the same characters as Shell Seekers and expands on the live of characters that were mentioned in her other novels.

What book inspires you and why?

I love Gillian Flynn’s writing style.  Her thrillers are the best kind of writing that draws you in and keeps you turning the page.  She doesn’t give you all the information up front.  Plus her metaphors are some of the best I’ve ever read.  She can pair two unlikely things together to paint such a vivid picture of the situation, you feel like you’re watching it instead of reading it.

Which literary character would you like to play?

Ooh, this is fun! I would love to play Vida Winter from The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.  This is one of my favorite books!  I love the complexity of her character — she’s a mystery to everyone that meets her and she constantly changes her story about her childhood.  The novel begins when she summons a local writer to come stay with her and write down the true story of her life before she dies.  How fun would it be to to play her at different ages, with all the things that happen to her in her life? Just such a well written novel and a great story that I would love to tell.

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

Oh man! I would definitely be friends with Carrie Pipperidge from Carousel.  She’s spunky and fun – and one of those honest friends who will tell you exactly what she is thinking without sugar coating anything.  I adore her wacky sense of humor — and her positive attitude.  She’s a good, loyal friend.

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

I used to say they should make The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows into a movie — but they just made it into a really cute Netflix movie! They did a great job with it.  Highly recommend the book and the movie as well.  It’s a quaint, feel good novel.

I would love to see Broken For You by Stephanie Kallos adapted into a musical.  There are a lot of colorful characters in that one that would be fun to see on stage.  The two main characters are women, one of whom is in her seventies — and we could always use more female roles, especially older ones. Plus I would love to see how they would create the mosaic at the end, maybe they could digitally project it onto a screen. Would be fun to see!

What is the next book on your reading list?

I got really into Ernest Hemingway last year after visiting his home in Key West, FL.  I finished A Moveable Feast while I was on tour, which is his recollection of his time living in Paris as a struggling writer with his first wife.  His writing is so simplistic and straightforward.  I learn so much about being a writer just by reading his works.  Now I have A Farewell To Arms waiting for me when I get back to New York after the holidays. 

IMG_1073Have you ever written anything yourself?

Yes! I love to write.  I think it’s so important to have a hobby outside of performing to keep life balanced when performing opportunities are limited.  Writing is that creative outlet for me.  I started writing when I was young, encouraged by my amazing mother who also writes.  I’ve written essays, comedic sketches, TWO novels and I even took a class where I wrote a spec script for television!  I wrote the novels with the help of NaNoWriMo, a nonprofit that encourages you to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, which breaks down to 1667 words a day.  I’ve done it eight years and completed the word goal twice! It’s a great way to stop making excuses not to write and to turn off your inner editor.  The goal is quantity of words, not quality, so even if you feel like you’re writing terribly, you just have to keep going.  The main idea is to get the words down.  I love the audacity of the program — writing a novel in 30 days feels so ambitious and when I complete it, I feel like anything is possible.  It’s a great feeling.  I’m hoping to start editing my novel in the new year and keep that momentum going.

What show are you currently working on?

I just closed the first national tour of Love Never Dies, the sequel to Phantom of the Opera.  I was a showgirl dancing behind Meg Giry, who became the headliner of a vaudeville act since we last saw her in the first Phantom.  We were the North American debut of the musical and played 41 cities in 16 months!  It was an incredible experience getting to meet and work with Andrew Lloyd Webber.  I’m currently enjoying some down time with family for the holidays.

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

I love love loved my time on the first national tour of Cinderella from 2015-2016.  Right before that, I had been a non-union actor for six years and things had been difficult.  I earned my Equity card with that tour when I was cast as an immediate replacement.  I covered Marie, the fairy godmother (I got to fly!) and Madame, the wicked step mother, two very different roles.  I got to go on for both multiple times! Plus I loved my ensemble track.  Dancing in the ball every night in a huge gown was so romantic. 

I also adored the cast, who were all so kind and welcoming when I joined the tour.  I made some great, life long friends there.  Our principals were very inclusive and set the tone for the rest of the cast to be kind, just like the theme of our show. 

I pinched myself daily.  Plus the income from that show allowed me to travel to Europe for the first time during a layoff, a lifelong dream that I couldn’t afford before.  I truly couldn’t believe my good fortune when I booked that show.  It was such a magical time in my life.

You can check out some of Lauren’s essays on her website www.LaurenLukacek.com!!
Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Hope to Find Under the Christmas Tree

TTT-Big2

Happy Holidays bookworms! Like many book addicts, I always have a long list of books I’d love for Santa to bring! In fact, I’d be happy with only books for Christmas.  This week’s theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is Books I Hope to Find Under the Christmas Tree, so I picked a select few that I’ve been eyeing to feature on this Christmas day post ! 🙂 I hope everyone has a holiday filled with new adventures to read ❤

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Books on my Winter TBR

TTT-Big2

Since I am leaving for tour in January, I am currently trying to get through as many hard copy books as I can before I have to live mostly out of my kindle (we’ll see how long I can hold out before needing a real book…) This week’s theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is My Winter TBR, so here are 10 books that I am looking forward to getting to (most likely on my kindle) this winter season while I am on the road!


16060716

Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2) by Libba Bray

26032887

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black

32949202
Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway

34433755
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

39863269
Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

40074277

Lovestruck by Kate Watson

40212098
The Dating Game by Kiley Roache

41068252
Collide (The Color Alchemist #4) by Nina Walker

13188676
Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi

36613718
Enchantée by Gita Trelease