Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020

Hello my darling readers! There is a lot of darkness in the world right now, and one of the light spots for me has been reading and discovering new books. Even though a lot of releases have been pushed back due to Covid, it just helps build the anticipation. This week’s topic, hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl, is Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020.

Majesty by Katharine McGee

Is America ready for its first queen?

Power is intoxicating. Like first love, it can leave you breathless. Princess Beatrice was born with it. Princess Samantha was born with less. Some, like Nina Gonzalez, are pulled into it. And a few will claw their way in. Ahem, we’re looking at you Daphne Deighton.

As America adjusts to the idea of a queen on the throne, Beatrice grapples with everything she lost when she gained the ultimate crown. Samantha is busy living up to her “party princess” persona…and maybe adding a party prince by her side. Nina is trying to avoid the palace–and Prince Jefferson–at all costs. And a dangerous secret threatens to undo all of Daphne’s carefully laid “marry Prince Jefferson” plans.

A new reign has begun….

I know I keep talking about this book, but it is 100% my most anticipated book of the whole year!

Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove #2) by Shelby Mahurin

After narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Dames Blanches, Lou, Reid, Coco, and Ansel are on the run from coven, kingdom, and church—fugitives with nowhere to hide.

To elude the scores of witches and throngs of chasseurs at their heels, Lou and Reid need allies. Strong ones. But protection comes at a price, and the group is forced to embark on separate quests to build their forces. As Lou and Reid try to close the widening rift between them, the dastardly Morgane baits them in a lethal game of cat and mouse that threatens to destroy something worth more than any coven. 

I enjoyed Serpent & Dove and I am excited to see where the story goes in this sequel!

Warmaidens (Gravemaidens #2) by Kelly Coon

Just a few moons after escaping the tomb in Alu, Kammani and the other runaway maidens have found refuge in the city-state of Manzazu. There, Kammani has become a respected healer, especially among the warriors she’s brought back from the brink of death. Now that the nightmares of Alu are fading, she can finally decide whether or not to take Dagan’s hand in marriage.

But when an assassin murders a healer he believes is Kammani and attempts to kill the displaced queen of Alu, the maidens realize they’ve been found.

Hungry for revenge, Manzazu’s queen wants to strike back at Alu with her fiercest weapons—her scorpion warrior maidens—but Kammani knows that war harms more than it heals. To save the innocents and any chance of a future with Dagan, Kammani must take down Alu’s ruler before their lives burn up in the flames of war. 

I was absolutely fascinated by Gravemaidens and I am eagerly awaiting the 2nd book in this duology!

Kingdom of Sea and Stone (Crown of Coral and Pearl #2) by Mara Rutherford

Ever since Nor was forced to go to a nearby kingdom in her sister’s place, she’s wanted nothing more than to return to the place and people she loves. But when her wish comes true, she soon finds herself cast out from both worlds, with a war on the horizon.

As an old enemy resurfaces more powerful than ever, Nor will have to keep the kingdom from falling apart with the help of Prince Talin and Nor’s twin sister, Zadie. There are forces within the world more mysterious than any of them ever guessed–and they’ll need to stay alive long enough to conquer them… 

Crown of Coral and Pearl had one of the most unique worlds I have ever encountered. Yet another sequel I am anxiously awaiting!

Lightbringer (Empirium #3) by Claire Legrand

In this epic finale to the Empirium Trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claire Legrand, two queens, separated by a thousand years must face their ultimate destinies.

Queen Rielle, pushed away from everything she loves, turns to Corien and his promises of glory. Meanwhile, whispers from the empirium slowly drive her mad, urging her to open the Gate. Separated from Audric and Ludivine, she embraces the role of Blood Queen and her place by Corien’s side, determined to become the monster the world believes her to be.

In the future, Eliana arrives in the Empire’s capital as a broken shell of herself. Betrayed and abandoned, she fights to keep her power at bay—and away from Corien, who will stop at nothing to travel back in time to Rielle, even if that means destroying her daughter.

But when the mysterious Prophet reveals themselves at last, everything changes, giving Rielle and Eliana a second chance for salvation—or the destruction their world has been dreading.

This trilogy and I have a love/hate relationship. The first two were slow moving and sometimes hard to get through, but MAN did that plot twist in book two throw me. I’m ready to finally read the conclusion and put this baby to rest.

The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor

In this contemporary romcom retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma by USA TODAY bestselling author Jillian Cantor, there’s nothing more complex—or unpredictable—than love.

When math genius Emma and her coding club co-president, George, are tasked with brainstorming a new project, The Code for Love is born.

George disapproves of Emma’s idea of creating a matchmaking app, accusing her of meddling in people’s lives. But all the happy new couples at school are proof that the app works. At least at first.

Emma’s code is flawless. So why is it that perfectly matched couples start breaking up, the wrong people keep falling for each other, and Emma’s own feelings defy any algorithm?

Emma is one of my all time favorite books, so obviously I couldn’t pass up a modern retelling.

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

This book was supposed to be published in June, but was postponed until August. It sounds creepy and romantic and there is something about a magical circus that just gets me excited.

Eventide by Sarah Goodman


Wheeler, Arkansas, 1907

When their father descends into madness after the death of their mother, Verity Pruitt and her little sister Lilah find themselves on an orphan train to rural Arkansas.

In Wheeler, eleven-year-old Lilah is quickly adopted, but seventeen-year-old Verity is not. Desperate to stay close to her sister, Verity indentures herself as a farmhand. But even charming farm boy Abel Atchley can’t completely distract her from the sense that something is not quite right in this little town. Strange local superstitions abound, especially about the eerie old well at the center of the forest. The woods play tricks, unleashing heavy fog and bone-chilling cold…and sometimes visions of things that aren’t there.

But for Verity, perhaps most unsettling of all is the revelation that her own parents have a scandalous history in this very town. And as she tries to unearth the past, sinister secrets come with it—secrets that someone will go to violent lengths to protect….

I’m not normally a thriller person, despite my obsession with Criminal Minds and Law and Order: SVU, but this book seems really cool. I love historical fiction and small town scandal and hopefully won’t get too spooked to read it. It also says fans of Libba Bray will like it and that’s enough for me.

Hush by Dylan Farrow

How do you speak up in a world where propaganda is a twisted form of magic?

In the land of Montane, language is literal magic to the select few who possess the gift of Telling. This power is reserved for the Bards, and, as everyone knows, the Bards have almost always been men.

Seventeen-year-old Shae has lived her entire life in awe of the Bards—and afraid of the Blot, a deadly disease spread by ink, which took the life of her younger brother five years ago. Ever since, Shae fears she’s cursed. But when tragedy strikes again, and her mother is found murdered with a golden dagger—a weapon used only by the Bards—Shae is forced to act.

With a heart set on justice, Shae journeys to High House in search of answers. But when the kind, fatherly Cathal, the High Lord of Montane, makes Shae an undeniable offer to stay and train as a Bard, Shae can’t refuse.

Through this twisty tale, Shae endures backbreaking training by a ruthless female Bard, tentative and highly-forbidden feelings for a male Bard with a dark past, and a castle filled with dangerous illusions bent on keeping its secrets buried.

But sometimes, the truth is closer than we think. We just have to learn to listen.

Who doesn’t love a feminist fantasy book? Also, this cover is absolutely stunning.

Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch

Liv Varanakis doesn’t have a lot of fond memories of her father, which makes sense—he fled to Greece when she was only eight. What Liv does remember, though, is their shared love for Greek myths and the lost city of Atlantis. So when Liv suddenly receives a postcard from her father explaining that National Geographic is funding a documentary about his theories on Atlantis—and will she fly out to Greece and help?—Liv jumps at the opportunity.

But when she arrives to gorgeous Santorini, things are a little…awkward. There are so many questions, so many emotions that flood to the surface after seeing her father for the first time in years. And yet Liv doesn’t want their past to get in the way of a possible reconciliation. She also definitely doesn’t want Theo—her father’s charismatic so-called “protégé”—to witness her struggle.

And that means diving into all that Santorini has to offer—the beautiful sunsets, the turquoise water, the hidden caves, 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.

Jenna Evans Welch’s books always transport me to a place I desperately want to be, and especially now that travel has been put on a major hold, I want to be in Santorini with Liv.

What releases are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments! ❤

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Re-Do- Popular Books That Lived Up to the Hype

Happy 10th Birthday Top Ten Tuesday! This meme has brought me so much inspiration, connection, and fun, and I am thankful to both The Broke and the Bookish and That Artsy Reader Girl for giving it to our bookish community! To celebrate Top Ten Tuesday’s 10th birthday, this week we are updating an old Top Ten Tuesday post. I have decided to do my post from July 2018, Popular Books That Lived Up to the Hype, and add 10 more books that I have read since then to the list.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

This series has some of the most dedicated fans and hype that I have ever experienced. I was afraid to read it, but finally decided it was time, and listened to the audio-book, which was narrated by the incredible Mae Whitman, and was totally absorbed into this world. I immediately ordered the next two books and am excited to finally understand what everyone is so obsessed with.

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

I’m already a huge SJ Maas fan, so I was pumped for this book. It was a bit of a struggle for me to get into at first, but it really came around to being a great read. The world is so vast and new and I am looking forward to seeing where it goes… cuz it’s SJ Maas. We know it’s gonna go somewhere crazy.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

I loved this book. It was so sweet and charming and the narration on the audio book was superb.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

THIS BOOK. I read it in one day because I could not put it down. The story was haunting and beautiful and the mystery created such a fantastic level of suspense. I didn’t want to read this one because of all the hype, but I am glad I did.

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

This was one of my favorite reads of last year. The romance had every level you could possibly want. It was sexy, emotional, sweet, complicated, and just made my heart happy.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

This series was amazing. The world of the Grisha is fascinating and lush, and the atmosphere of this book is overwhelming in the best way. I loved the characters, I loved the writing, I loved the story, I loved it all.

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

Y’all. This might possibly be the best series finale I have ever read. Period.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Oh I love love loved this book. I devoured it so fast. I was completely and utterly enthralled by this story and the character of Evelyn Hugo. What a brilliant book. I can’t say enough good things about it. If you haven’t read it, just do yourself a favor.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

This book was so well done. I loved the twist on Beauty and the Beast, which is my favorite fairy tale, and I thought it was so clever.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

This book brought me back into loving YA Contemporary. I was late to the game, but man, am I glad I finally got there. This is one of my all time favorite trilogies.


Redhead in a Blue Convertible Review

Buckle up. The ride is about to begin…

British doctor Sarah Farnsworth’s life spirals out of control when she loses a patient during surgery, then soon after, loses herself.

When it looks like she will be lost forever, the road of fate leads her to a blue convertible owned by the mysterious Billy Caldwell.

She is informed Billy has twenty-four hours to get out of town and needs her help to get all of his affairs in order.

But why does he have to leave? And what is the big hurry?

As they drive around Atlanta in Billy’s ragtop, visiting the people and places dear to him, Sarah realizes the crisp, October air has breathed new life into her due to her new friend.

What she doesn’t realize is Billy has been watching her. For years.

And someone has been watching Billy. For decades…

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thanks to author Ivan Scott for the opportunity!*

Redhead in a Blue Convertible by Ivan Scott is an uplifting read- similar to something you might see on The Hallmark Channel. The idea was sweet, but it was a bit over the top, surface level, and old fashioned. Our main character, Sarah, who I couldn’t help but picture as Emily Blunt, is a renowned surgeon with an overbearing and cruel mother (think Mamma Grey from Grey’s anatomy) who has raised her to have no self esteem. When she loses a patient during surgery, her life spirals out of control and I felt for Sarah’s struggle with grief and self-doubt. To help her come out of her shame spiral, her best friend and boss, Steve, sets her up with a job driving for the mysterious billionaire, Billy Caldwell, for 24 hours to help get his affairs in order. Billy takes Sarah all over the city of Atlanta to meet his friends and give her a day she will never forget. The events get more and more lavish and fanciful as the night goes on and Billy helps to bring Sarah back out of her shell. My main problem with this book was that the characters were really one dimensional. The only qualities Billy had, and it was mentioned a lot, was that he was extremely nice to everyone and that he drank Four Roses bourbon. There was a slight mystery to his circumstances, but it wasn’t developed enough throughout the book to make the pay off worth it at the end. In fact, I thought it felt a bit disjointed and seemed to come out of nowhere. Sarah’s main personality trait was her constant use of British slang, that no one seemed to understand (even the most common phrases). She also had a lot of, what I thought were, unrealistic reactions to men’s behavior towards her- it was clearly apparent that this book was written by a man. The two of them were supposed to have formed this incredibly deep and meaningful connection, but I, unfortunately, didn’t feel it. There wasn’t enough there for me to believe in them. Even though each event of their day together was fun, I didn’t understand how they added to Sarah’s supposed journey back to the light. There wasn’t enough connection between the events and Sarah’s character arc. It seemed that just because she had one epically great day that all of her problems were fixed instead of her actually learning something and growing throughout the experience with Billy. While the overarching story was sweet and well-intentioned, Redhead in a Blue Convertible didn’t fulfill my expectations of what it was set up to be.


The Mid Year Freak Out Book Tag 2020

Hi everyone! This year is a mess, plain and simple. One of the only things that has brought me solace is reading, and I am so glad that I have been able to escape into other worlds, because right now ours SUCKS. I have been doing The Mid Year Freak Out Tag every year and since I am frequently on the verge of freaking out lately, it feels like the right time to do it for 2020. I’m a little behind on my reading goals (which is annoying because I have no excuse), but I am hoping that I can get back on track with some good, quick reads soon.


This series has given me so much life lately. The characters are fantastic, the setting is amazing, the story is gasp-worthy and dramatic and I am living for it.


Like I said, this series is everything.


I still cannot believe that I haven’t read this finale yet. I have been dying to know how it ends, but since I don’t own any of the other books, as I usually get them from the library, I can’t bring myself to purchase it. I’m going to get it on my kindle with a birthday gift card soon though!


It’s funny, because American Royals was my answer to this last year. I CANNOT wait for this sequel. I am obsessed with this story and Katharine McGee and September is too far away.


I didn’t dislike this book by any means, but my excitement for it made it a let down for me. I wanted it so badly to be as good as The Selection, and it just wasn’t as enthralling.


Both of these books made me giddy and were some of my favorite reads of the year so far. Highly recommend.


I gotta go with Santa Montefiore who wrote my favorite book this year so far. Her books have been around for a long time and I really have no clue how she escaped my radar for so long.


AHHHHH. It pains me to say that I haven’t really found a major new fictional crush this year. I did really like Jack from Tweet Cute by Emma Lord though.


Kitty Deverill from The Deverill Chronicles by Santa Montefiore.


I was on the subway reading this and I started crying and I had to try to hold it together because I was in public.


This was a re-read from my middle school days, but it brought me so much joy. It inspired a whole discussion post about re-reading old favorite books.


I know this came out last year, but I finally watched it and I was blown away. This adaptation was absolutely stunning. Also, Amy has always been my favorite and Florence Pugh’s performance was perfection.


I really enjoyed writing my post about re-reading old favorite books. It was very therapeutic to talk through and brought me a lot of joy.


I can’t get over the cover of this book. It is so beautiful *heart eyes*


This is just the tip of the iceberg really.


Top 10 Tuesday: Books On My Summer 2020 TBR

Happy Tuesday my lovelies! I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump the past few days, but I’m hoping I can get back some good books soon. I have so many books that I am looking forward to getting to, so this summer’s reading is looking up! This week’s topic, hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl, is Books On My Summer 2020 TBR.

Majesty (American Royals #2) by Katharine McGee

Is America ready for its first queen?

Power is intoxicating. Like first love, it can leave you breathless. Princess Beatrice was born with it. Princess Samantha was born with less. Some, like Nina Gonzalez, are pulled into it. And a few will claw their way in. Ahem, we’re looking at you Daphne Deighton.

As America adjusts to the idea of a queen on the throne, Beatrice grapples with everything she lost when she gained the ultimate crown. Samantha is busy living up to her “party princess” persona…and maybe adding a party prince by her side. Nina is trying to avoid the palace–and Prince Jefferson–at all costs. And a dangerous secret threatens to undo all of Daphne’s carefully laid “marry Prince Jefferson” plans.

A new reign has begun….

Now and When by Sara Bennett Wealer

There’s something about Truman Alexander that Skyler Finch finds incredibly annoying. Actually, several things: his voice (grating), his arrogance (total know-it-all), his debate-team obsession (eyeroll), and his preppy vibe (does he iron his shorts?). She does her best to avoid him and focus on the important stuff: friends, school, and her boyfriend, Eli. His promposal was perfect–just like he is–and the future is looking bright. Or is it?

For some unexplainable reason, Skylar’s phone is sending her notifications from the future . . . a future in which, to her horror, she appears to be with Truman. As in, romantically. As in, Skyler cannot let that happen.

But trying to change the future means messing up the present, and what Skyler sees keeps shifting. Classmates disappear and reappear, swap partners and futures. Turns out there are no actions without reactions, and life doesn’t come with a road map. But sometimes the wandering leads you exactly where you need to be, and people–like glitchy phones–are full of surprises. 

Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Legacy of Orïsha #2) by Tomi Adeyemi

After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they could’ve imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji, but of nobles with magic ancestry, too.

Now, Zélie struggles to unite the maji in an Orïsha where the enemy is just as powerful as they are. But when the monarchy and military unite to keep control of Orïsha, Zélie must fight to secure Amari’s right to the throne and protect the new maji from the monarchy’s wrath.

With civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must discover a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart

A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Curse Breakers #2) by Brigid Kemmerer

Find the heir, win the crown.

The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom.

Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments #2) by Cassandra Clare

Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City’s Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. 

The Secret of the Irish Castle (The Deverill Chronicles #3) by Santa Montefiore

It is 1939 and peace has flourished since the Great War ended. But much has changed for the Deverill family and now a new generation is waiting in the wings.
Martha Wallace came to Dublin from her home in America to find her birth mother. But instead she has lost her heart to the impossibly charming JP Deverill. Then she discovers that her mother comes from the same place as JP, and her fate seems sealed.

Bridie Doyle, now Countess di Marcantonio and mistress of Castle Deverill, is determined to make the castle she used to work in her home. But her flamboyant husband Cesare has other ideas. And as his eye strays away from his wife, those close to the couple start to wonder if he really is who he says he is.

Kitty Deverill has come to terms with her life with her husband Robert, and their two children. But then Jack O’Leary, the love of her life, returns to Ballinakelly. And this time his heart belongs elsewhere… 

A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden

A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favourite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears.

A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future, but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him.

Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids.

The War of the Twin Swords by Julia Goldhirsh

On the night before her Choosing, there were whispers of war in the air.

After binding herself to Clarent, Opal is given a grim prophecy of her future. Alone and ostracized from her clan, she finds an unlikely ally in the sorceresses’ leader, Joan.

Joan is the reason the Sorceress clan wants to attack. She’s prophesied to pull Excalibur from its stone. But her clan wants its powers for a darker purpose.

They have to band together to stop the Sorceress clan’s invasion. Excalibur is on their side, but they’re outnumbered five to one. Can Opal escape this war unscathed?

Or will her prophecy come true?

The F List by Alessandra Torre

There was a lot I did to get to this point, to get 42 million followers. Some of it I was proud of, most of it I wasn’t.

There was a group of us, all internet celebrities, and everyone wanted in, which is how six of us ended up living in this mansion, a camera always on, the public always watching. Two months and nine carefully scripted TV episodes that would get us more of the three F’s we were desperately chasing.

Fame. Fortune. Followers.

I knew my role. I was Emma, the unlikeable one. The dark villain with the devious smile. The package of dynamite that would blow up any chance of peaceful living and harmony.

Cash knew his role. He was the good guy. The lovable one. The one that everyone, even the darkest cast member of them all, would fall in love with.

They were supposed to just be roles.
None of it was supposed to be real.

My heart didn’t get that memo.

What books are on your Summer TBR’s? Anything you’re super excited about?

Discussion Posts

#TBT- Re-reading Old Favorites

I’m not a re-reader. With the exception of Harry Potter, which I usually read every year, once I have finished a book, I move on. There is a certain guilt in feeling like I shouldn’t waste time living in worlds I have already experienced with so many exciting new stories to get to. Something has changed though, and I have recently started having very strong urges to re-read old favorites.

In this crazy time of uncertainty and stress, I find myself wanting to crawl up inside books that bring me comfort and a sense of familiarity. Books like Twilight and The Princess Diaries series are calling to me from the shelves in my bedroom at my parent’s house. My excitement and anticipation for new stories is still here, but deep down I’m fighting the urge to revisit the feelings of contentment that these old stories stirred in me once upon a time. It probably doesn’t help that I am back living with my parents and sisters again, in ways reverting back to the time when these books meant so much to me, and worrying about what the future will bring. I have talked to a few people about this feeling, because it is a strange and new one for me, and I have found that I am not alone. Several of my friends have been grappling with the same urge to re-read their old favorites as well! I finally gave in the other day when I found an old middle school favorite, Bras and Broomsticks by Sarah Mylnowski, with an inscription from my grandma who has been gone for a few years now. The lightness my heart felt, for the first time in a while, was incredibly rejuvenating. The story held such meaning for me as a pre-teen, and revisiting it as an adult still brought me so much joy. This is gonna sound corny, but I could actually feel the love in the pages- both from my grandma and from my pre-teen self. I had so much fun experiencing Rachel and Miri’s shenanigans again, and also scream laughing over the descriptions of the “cool” and “unstylish” 2000’s clothing. The story is heartfelt, witty, and still relatable today, and while the stakes are high- it was middle school, when were they not?- it is, overall, a very simple and lovable story. I needed it.

“To my Darling Alexandra, Happy Spring and never forget your bra! 🙂 Love, Ome” April 2005

New stories are exciting, but there is also an excitement in knowing you’re about to experience something you love again. With my ever growing TBR and trying to stay up to date for my blog, I always feel the pressure to push forward into new books. I don’t think that feeling will ever go away, but I have been reminded that sometimes it is ok, and maybe even necessary, to give your self a break and give in to the desire to look back at some guaranteed happiness.

Have any of you been feeling the re-reading urge too? What are your go-to comfort reads?

Discussion Posts

Cleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #24

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?

Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Embrace the Forbidden

What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.
Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but it isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

My Thoughts: For some reason, I’ve never really been able to catch on to the whole Fallen Angel thing. This book has a high Goodreads Rating, coming in with 4.11 stars, but many MIXED reviews. It seems people either loved this book or hated it fiercely. As someone who HATED The Fallen series by Lauren Kate, I am intrigued to see how I would like this version of fallen angels. VERDICT: KEEP

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

The wondrous Aimee Bender conjures the lush and moving story of a girl whose magical gift is really a devastating curse.

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.

The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale about the enormous difficulty of loving someone fully when you know too much about them. It is heartbreaking and funny, wise and sad, and confirms Aimee Bender’s place as “a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language” 

My Thoughts: A friend recommended this to me so long ago and I completely forgot about it. It sounds like such an interesting concept and I am intrigued to see its execution. VERDICT: KEEP

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Illuminating Peter Mayle’s South of France with a touch of Laura Esquivel’s magic realism, Chocolat is a timeless novel of a straitlaced village’s awakening to joy and sensuality. In tiny Lansquenet, where nothing much has changed in a hundred years, beautiful newcomer Vianne Rocher and her exquisite chocolate shop arrive and instantly begin to play havoc with Lenten vows. Each box of luscious bonbons comes with a free gift: Vianne’s uncanny perception of its buyer’s private discontents and a clever, caring cure for them. Is she a witch? Soon the parish no longer cares, as it abandons itself to temptation, happiness, and a dramatic face-off between Easter solemnity and the pagan gaiety of a chocolate festival.

Chocolat’s every page offers a description of chocolate to melt in the mouths of chocoholics, francophiles, armchair gourmets, cookbook readers, and lovers of passion everywhere. It’s a must for anyone who craves an escapist read, and is a bewitching gift for any holiday.

My Thoughts: This book sounds super sweet and fun and I remember liking the movie, but I probably won’t get around to reading it with so many other things on my TBR…. VERDICT: TOSS

More Like Her by Liza Palmer

A brilliant, hilarious, and touching story from the author of Conversations with the Fat Girl, Liza Palmer’s More Like Her is smart, funny, though-provoking women’s fiction in the vein of Emily Giffin, Marian Keyes, Meg Cabot, and Jane Green. More Like Her is the story of a seemingly perfect woman who’s the envy of her friends, neighbors, and co-workers…until the life of the object of their jealousy spectacularly, unexpectedly, and disastrously explodes. A novel of secrets, disappointments, false impressions—and what really goes on behind those suburban picket fences—More Like Her is ultimately about facing reality and appreciating everything that life has to offer.

My Thoughts: This kind of story used to be my favorite, but is not really something I’m that interested in reading anymore. I love the author’s that Palmer is compared to, but I most likely won’t ever pick this one up. VERDICT: TOSS

Good Christian Bitches by Kim Gatlin

For Heaven’s sake Never let God get in the way of a good story. Good Christian Bitches is the lighthearted tale of Amanda Vaughn, a recently divorced mother of two. To get a fresh start, she moves back to the affluent Dallas neighborhood where she grew up. In an Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Desperate Housewives on steroids style, her old friends are already out to destroy her reputation. In the whirling midst of salacious gossip, Botox, and fraud, Amanda turns to those who love her and the faith she’s always known. Will the Good Christian Bitches get the best of her, or will everyone see that these GCBs are as counterfeit as their travel jewelry?

My Thoughts: I added this when it was turned into a TV show and looked like the trashy, scandalous, fun show I like to indulge in every once in a while, but it never held my attention. VERDICT: TOSS

What books would you have kept? Do you agree with my decisions? Let me know in the comments! ❤

Discussion Posts

Book Con 2020: Book Conline

I have been wanting to attend BookCon for the past couple years. It’s always on my birthday weekend and living in NYC, I really have no excuse for not going. This was the year I was going to go…. and then Covid happened. BUT there was a silver lining and that was BookConLINE! The lovely people at BookCon made all of the BookCon panels available online via their Facebook group on May 30th-31st, and we got to experience some of the magic from the comfort of our own homes. I absolutely loved having this opportunity and listening to the truly fantastic groups of authors sharing their insights and their work with us and I came away feeling so inspired.

My Favorite Panels

The Magic of World Building

Dhonielle Clayton, Sabaa Tahir, Ransom Riggs, Naomi Novik

It was so cool getting insight into building a fantasy world and all of the different techniques these authors use. They had some really interesting pointers.

Epic YA

Victoria Aveyard, Adam Silvera, Nic Stone, Marissa Meyer

I loved the conversations in this panel. They discussed how the state of the world affects how they tell their stories and the importance of Epic YA Fantasy in both terms of escapism and as a mirror for the issues we face.

Witches, Ghosts, and Vampires, Oh My! Brining Back Paranormal

Claribel Ortega, Daniel José Older, Holly Black, Kat Cho, Isabel Sterling, Zoraida Cordova

This panel was so much fun! They discussed all things paranormal and where they get their inspirations and what else they would like to explore.

Contemporary Fictions and Modern Day Storytellers

Sandhya Menon, Jenna Evans Welch, Melissa de la Cruz, Margaret Stohl

Getting to see where some of my favorite YA Contemporary authors get the inspirations for their stories was so wonderful. I loved getting to see into their writing processes.

Cassandra Clare in Conversation with Holly Black

Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

Witnessing two brilliant minds discussing their work and their processes and seeing their friendship and camaraderie was just so cool. It’s also exciting to hear about all the new stuff they have coming out in the future.

Are You There BookCon? It’s Judy and Jenny.

Judy Blume and Jenny Han

THIS PANEL WAS ICONIC. I could not stop smiling the entire time.

The Broken World

Justina Ireland, Tahereh Mafi, Adam Silvera

I love dystopian books and it was very interesting to see the thought and processes that go into developing these worlds and stories.

Did you attend BookConLINE? What were your favorite panels? Let me know in the comments! ❤

Monthly Wrap-Ups

May 2020 Wrap-Up

As we get into these summer months, I am constantly trying to find the joy and hope in this world and the uncertainty that surrounds all of us right now. It’s such a scary time for everyone, and as Broadway keeps pushing back its reopening, my unease and anxiety of what world I will be returning to in the, hopefully near, future grows. It’s not always easy, but one thing I can say is that reading has given me those moments of freedom and escape and I am eternally grateful that I have such a big love of books.

Books Read

Kill Code by Clive Fleury ★★★

Collide by Nina Walker ★★★★

The Betrothed by Kiera Cass ★★★

The Shadow Wand by Laurie Forest ★★★

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins ★★★★

Bras and Broomsticks by Sarah Mylnowski (Reread) ★★★★★

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare ★★★★

Favorite Book of the Month

Currently Reading

Challenge Updates

Goodreads Challenge: 36 of 100

Classics Club Challenge: 9 of 50

Beat the Backlist: 22 of 50

Broadway Book Chat: Mandy Striph from Mamma Mia!

May Reviews

My Summer of Love and Misfortune by Lindsay WongKill Code by Clive FleuryThe Betrothed by Kiera CassThe Shadow Wand by Laurie Forest


May Posts

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Must-Haves for a Harry Potter Party • Cleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #23 • Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Books I Wish I Had DNF’d • Top 10 Tuesday: Reasons Why I Love YA • The Fantasy Book Tag • 

Broadway Book Chat

Broadway Book Chat: Mandy Striph

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!

Mandy Striph

Most recently seen as Tanya in Mamma Mia! at Actors Playhouse in Miami!

Instagram: @mstriph

What are you currently reading?

I’m almost finished with The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, the author of The Poisonwood Bible. I love the way she constructs narratives.

What is your favorite book series and why?

The easy answer is Harry Potter. That series was fundamental and I grew up right in the heyday. But in terms of longevity, Sherlock Holmes. I’ve fallen back in love with those stories over and over and over. It is definitely the catalyst for my love of crime stories.

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

Alexander Dumas. The Count of Monte Cristo really hit home when I was a teen. So much angst, a sense of righteousness, a desperate yearning for love amid betrayal against a romantic adventure background? How could I not be enraptured?

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

I’m pretty open. I usually gravitate toward fiction, especially American or BritLit. Lately, memoirs have been a bigger part of my reading lists.

What book inspires you and why?

As a person? Becoming. Michelle Obama’s story and journey are so accessible in her memoir. She makes me want to be a stronger person. Creatively? The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. The imagery and inherent magic of this story is so intense. I wanted the circus to be a reality for me. The whimsical storyline made me want to write and create.

Which literary character would you like to play?

Irene Adler, romantic frenemy of Sherlock Holmes. It’s rare for women of that era to be portrayed as clever without solely relying on feminine wiles. She’s a fictional feminist icon.

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

Tanya from Mamma Mia. She is exactly who she wants to be and has everything she wants. Laid back, fun, wealthy? She’d throw a helluva party. And you KNOW there would be all kinds of interesting and/or sexy people at her soirée.

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

The Night Circus. The magic and romance would be enhanced through music. Adam Guettel would create a beautiful score.

What is the next book on your reading list?

The Wind-up Bird by Haruki Murakami.

Have you ever thought about writing yourself?

I have. Mostly comedic romantic (or maybe even erotic) fiction. Something that would be pure, entertaining escapism.

What show are you currently working on and who do you play?

Right before coronavirus caused a full stop for the arts, I was Tanya in Mamma Mia at Actors Playhouse in Miami. I had a blast.

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

Also hard to say. The national tour of Beauty and the Beast was my first job out of college and so foundational. I made life long friends on that tour. That said, I’ve done multiple productions of Mamma Mia as Tanya and that show (and character) has a very special place in my heart.

I’ve been loving your posts during quarantine about books and their perfect cocktail match. How do you decide what goes best and which is your favorite combination so far?

Pairing cocktails and books seems like a natural marriage. Who doesn’t love a beverage while they cozy up to a book. I choose my pairings on a variety of factors. If the main characters are drinkers I’ll do a crash course on their favorite beverages. If the book is set somewhere specific, I may highlight cocktails that feature native spirits. Sometimes it’s about theme or feel. Clean cocktails for delicate storylines or cocktails created by badass female mixologists to compliment female authors.

Follow Mandy’s book and cocktail pairings on her Instagram @mstriph

I feature a new performer every month, so check back for our next guest! 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! A huge thanks to the amazing Mandy for sharing with us. ❤