Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Characters I’d Love to Be Besties With

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Hello my lovelies!  This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl, is Characters I’d Like to Be Besties With.

1. Lara Jean Covey from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

2. Fred and George Weasley from Harry Potter by JK Rowling

3. Mia Thermopolis from The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

4. Tully and Kate from Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

5. Daisy Peshkov from Winter of the World by Ken Follett

6. Lyssandra from The Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas

7. Diana Holland from The Luxe Series by Anna Godbersen

8. Sookie from The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris

9. Bridget, Lena, Carmen and Tibby from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Anne Brashares

10. Emma from Emma by Jane Austen


What characters do you want to be besties with?

 

 

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Book Reviews

ARC August Review: Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford

37777083Summary: For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.


I am so happy about this book.  This was one of my most anticipated releases at the beginning of the year, and when I was able to snag an ARC of it I was thrilled.  Let me tell you, it did not disappoint.  It is SO unique, and as someone who reads a lot of YA Fantasy that is not something I can say a lot.  The world-building is fantastic and really interesting and I am enamored with the whole concept of the story.  I was fascinated by the oceanic world of Varenia, and its stark contrast to the ruling mountain kingdom of Ilara.  The Varenian’s unrelenting focus on beauty and perfection created such an interesting atmosphere and added such depth to the characters.  I loved watching Nor navigate the intricacies of this strange court intrigue, and the mystery surrounding the kingdom and how and why the relations between Varenia and Ilara were established.  The plot moved quickly and I thought the overall pacing was really nice.  I was fully engaged in the action throughout the story and it definitely kept me turning the page.  I really connected with Nor’s character and her relationship with her family, her sister Zadie most of all.  Nor’s relationships with her village were established so well in the beginning, that the new relationships she made in Ilara kind of felt a bit underdeveloped- including her relationship with her love interest.  I do wish there would have been more instances to back it up, but they did have chemistry, and I can understand Nor falling for someone who wasn’t entirely focused on her outer appearances for the first time in her life.  My only real and minor grievance with this book was the ending.  It wasn’t bad, and I did enjoy the twist, but it felt a bit rushed like the author wasn’t sure if there would be another book so she had to quickly close the plot in a way that didn’t quite work for me.  It seemed final, but there are still so many open-ended and not fully developed plot points and details that I am wondering about.  I’m really excited that there is another book coming out that will hopefully solve this issue for me.  Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to get back to Varenia and see what is going to happen next.

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Discussion Posts

Cleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #14

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?


The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht

11784464In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself.

But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. After telling her grandmother that he was on his way to meet Natalia, he instead set off for a ramshackle settlement none of their family had ever heard of and died there alone. A famed physician, her grandfather must have known that he was too ill to travel. Why he left home becomes a riddle Natalia is compelled to unravel.

Grief struck and searching for clues to her grandfather’s final state of mind, she turns to the stories he told her when she was a child. On their weekly trips to the zoo he would read to her from a worn copy of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, which he carried with him everywhere; later, he told her stories of his own encounters over many years with “the deathless man,” a vagabond who claimed to be immortal and appeared never to age. But the most extraordinary story of all is the one her grandfather never told her, the one Natalia must discover for herself. One winter during the Second World War, his childhood village was snowbound, cut off even from the encroaching German invaders but haunted by another, fierce presence: a tiger who comes ever closer under cover of darkness. “These stories,” Natalia comes to understand, “run like secret rivers through all the other stories” of her grandfather’s life. And it is ultimately within these rich, luminous narratives that she will find the answer she is looking for.

My Thoughts: This book has some major cred, but for some reason, the premise just doesn’t call to me.  VERDICT: TOSS


Loser/Queen by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Cammy Hall is what anyone would describe as a loser. She lives with her grandparents 7539827and has adopted their way of life right down to the comfortable shoes and early bedtime. And can she help it that she actually likes to knit?

At school, her skills with knitting needles and some yarn go completely unappreciated: people like Bekka Bell reign while Cammy and her best friend, the fearless Danish exchange student Gerdi, watch from the sidelines. Cammy’s used to being an outsider; after years of humiliating moments, her goal is simply to fly under the radar. Then she suddenly starts receiving mysterious text messages that lead her right to all the embarrassing secrets about the most popular kids in school. Cammy never expected to be able to climb up the high school food chain, and the agenda of the texter may be questionable but how can she possibly give up the chance to be Queen?

My Thoughts:  This book just seems kinda meh to me.  VERDICT: TOSS


666 Park Avenue by Gabriella Pierce

8479792._SY475_What if your mother-in-law turned out to be an evil, cold-blooded witch . . . literally?

Ever since fabulously wealthy Malcolm Doran walked into her life and swept her off her feet, fledgling architect Jane Boyle has been living a fairy tale. When he proposes with a stunning diamond to seal the deal, Jane can’t believe her incredible luck and decides to leave her Paris-based job to make a new start with Malcolm in New York.

But when Malcolm introduces Jane to the esteemed Doran clan, one of Manhattan’s most feared and revered families, Jane’s fairy tale takes a darker turn. Soon everything she thought she knew about the world—and herself—is upended. Now Jane must struggle with newfound magical abilities and the threat of those who will stop at nothing to get them.

My Thoughts: This one is tricky.  On the one hand, it sounds like it should be everything I could want in a novel, but on the other hand, it has a TON of mixed reviews- a lot of them skewing to the negative… It definitely won’t be high up on my list but maybe if I randomly come across it at the library…. VERDICT: KEEP (for now)


From High Heels to Handcuffs by Helen Goltz10463489

What makes a girl throw away a six-figure salary and a marketing career to enter thePolice Service? A) A mid-life crisis? B) Trying to escape a failing marriage? C) The search to reignite her passion for life? D) All of the above?For the author, it was ‘D’, all of the above. Nearing forty, childless, tired of her career and with the new-found discovery that her husband was cheating, the time had come to make some tough decisions. The author begins a journey to reignite her passion for life.From High Heels to Handcuffs is for anybody who has ever lost their footing in this world and wondered, ‘can I start again?’

My Thoughts: Honestly not quite sure how this made it onto my TBR in the first place…. VERDICT: TOSS


These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

9166559When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls’ golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It’s Brynn–shy, quiet Brynn–who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her. But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister. Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.

My Thoughts: I’m not the biggest thriller fan in general, and this one has really mixed and polarizing reviews.  I think I have more important books to get to, and if I’m going to read a thriller I think there are better options. VERDICT: TOSS


Let me know what you think of my decisions in the comments! If you have read any of these, I’d love to hear your opinions on them! ❤ Happy reading friends!

Reading Challenges

ARC August 2019 TBR

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It’s time for Read. Sleep. Repeat’s Annual ARC August! I love this challenge because it really kicks my butt into gear in catching up on all my ARCs.  I have 10 on my list this year, knowing I most likely won’t be able to get through all of them with my crazy schedule, but I figured I’d aim high.  Here is my TBR for the month, a bunch of upcoming releases and a couple backlogged books too.

What books are you guys reading for ARC August this year?

Monthly Wrap-Ups

July 2019 Wrap-Up

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I can’t believe it’s August already.  Time really flies! This past month has been crazy for me, as my tour played my “hometown” stop of Chicago for most of it.  I have been insanely lucky to have so many friends and family come out to support me and see the show, but that has definitely taken away some of my blogging and reading time.  I still managed to read some really great books and only missed a couple posts (oops- thanks for bearing with me).

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Books Read:

 

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller ★★★★

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim★★★★

Finale by Stephanie Garber ★★★

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo★★★★★

Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard★★★★★


Favorite Book of the Month:

 


Book Stores Visited:

Barnes and Noble- Kansas City, MO

Half-Priced Books- Kansas City, MO

Barnes and Noble- Chicago, IL

Unabridged Books- Chicago, IL


Currently Reading:

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Challenge Updates:

Goodreads Challenge: 35 of 100

Classics Club Challenge: 6 of 50


Broadway Book Chat: Emily Jeanne Phillips

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July Reviews

The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets by Molly FaderSpin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim Review • Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid •

July Posts

Mid-Year Freak Out Tag 2019 • Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite Harry Potter CharactersCleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #13 • Top 10 Tuesday: Auto-Buy Authors • I Have No Self Control: A Book Haul • Top 10 Tuesday: Settings I Want to See More Of •


Broadway Book Chat

Broadway Book Chat: Emily Jeanne Phillips from Cats

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

Emily Jeanne Phillips

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Currently playing Jennyanydots on The National Tour of Cats

www.emilyjeannephillips.com

Instagram: @emilyjeanne4 (Follow her. She’s hilarious.)

What are you currently reading?

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I just finished The Woman In the Window by AJ Fin.

What is your favorite book series?

Harry Potter.

Who is your favorite author?

I don’t currently have a favorite author! But I am starting to read all of Kristen Hannah’s books.

What book inspires you and why?

Becoming by Michelle Obama inspires me. She is honest and open about her time in the White House and her opinion on what’s going on with our country now. I think she’s brilliant and I would love for her to write more books.

Which literary character would you like to play?

The book I just read, The Woman in the Window, has a main character who is a woman and it’s a great thriller story. I’d love to play her if the book were turned into a movie.

What is the next book on your reading list?

The next book on my reading list is Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah.

Have you ever thought about writing yourself?

I have thought about writing a book about the psychology of auditioning.

What show are you working on now?

I am currently in the National Tour of Cats as Jennyanydots the tap-dancing Gumibe Cat!

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

My favorite show I’ve been of part of was a crazy off-broadway show called Attack of the Elvis Impersonators. I loved that experience because it got me my equity card and I bonded with a group of people who will forever be family.


I feature a new performer every month, so check back in August for our next guest! I would really love some suggestions for new 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! Shout out to my kitty cat sister, Emily, for sharing with us.

Book Reviews

Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

32620332Summary: Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ’80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.


“I think the difference between an actress and a star is that the star feels comfortable being the very thing the world wants her to be.” -Evelyn Hugo

WOW.  This book is amazing.  First of all, Old Hollywood drama? Sign me up! But what’s really special about this book is its characters.  The entire book is an incredible insight into humanity and the light and dark in everyone.  Reid has done a remarkable job with creating insanely realistic and flawed humans to fill this story.  Evelyn Hugo is one of my new favorite literary characters.  She somehow manages to be a conniving, cutthroat and manipulative woman, while still being loveable, feisty, and sympathetic.  The use of her seven husbands as chapters in her story is brilliant and sets up the layout of the plot so well.  I loved how it explored all of the different types of love, and how all of them are important and complex in their own ways.  While I loved her relationship with “the one love of her life” (no spoilers here), I actually hated that character- which just made the read even more emotional and fantastic for me.  I am still blown away by the complexity of every single character in this novel.  This book is entertaining, beautifully written, and has so many important messages and themes.  It’s definitely a contender for my favorite read of 2019.

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Book Hangover (1)

 

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I Have No Self Control: A Book Haul

So as most of you know, I am currently on tour with the Broadway Musical, Cats.  One of my favorite things about touring is getting to visit all of the amazing bookstores around the country.  However; as a bookaholic, this can make things difficult.  I have been living out of the same two suitcases for about 6 months now, and space is limited as you can imagine.  This fact does not seem to be able to deter me from book shopping, and I have wayyyy too many books with me on the road.  For all of you who will tell me to get a kindle, don’t worry, I have one of those too. 🙂 But how can I not buy the beauties I find in my bookish explorations!? Recently, my self-control has been extinguished and I have been on a book buying spree.  My luggage won’t thank me, but you know what? There are worse vices to have.

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My Book Haul

Broken Throne (Red Queen #4.5) by Victoria Aveyard

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Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) by Sarah J. Maas

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The Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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The Summer Trilogy by Jenny Han

And believe me, it’s a miracle I haven’t bought more.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Auto-Buy Authors

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Hello gorgeous readers! Here we are back at it again with another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, Top 10 Auto-Buy Authors.  I have been doing A LOT, probably TOO MUCH, book shopping lately, and this week’s theme is just perfect for my bookstore habit.

1. Kristin Hannah

One of my all-time favorite authors, anything Kristin Hannah writes I will read.  All of her books are so good and she writes characters that really stick to your heart and won’t let go.

2. Meg Cabot

I LOVE this woman.  She has written so many amazing series and standalones that have crossed so many genres and age-groups.  I have grown up with her books and I look forward to every single one of them, and could honestly do a thorough Meg Cabot re-reading binge sometime soon.

3. Ken Follett (Historical Fiction Only)

Ken Follett has written my favorite book of all time, Pillars of the Earth, but all of his historical fiction novels are up there with it.  His characters are SO well written and the stories he tells are incredible.  I haven’t branched into his war thrillers yet, just because that genre is not my cup of tea.

4. Katharine McGee

I fell in love with Katharine McGee’s The Thousandth Floor trilogy, and now I will buy anything new that she comes out with.  I cannot wait for her next series, American Royals!

5. Taylor Jenkins Reid

I only recently discovered Taylor Jenkins Reid, but her latest two books have quickly become two of my favorite reads of the whole year.  I definitely want to check out her other books, and all her future works.

6. Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass is one of the best series I have ever read, and I loved ACOTAR too.  I am so excited for her new series coming out in 2020.  I’m a die hard fan now.

7. Victoria Aveyard

I love the cinematic The Red Queen Series so much and I’m dying her Aveyard to write another book or series.

8. Kate Morton

Kate Morton has written some of my favorite historical fiction books.  They are beautifully written, a little gothic in style, and so haunting.  I’m obsessed.

9. Libba Bray

I was so enamored by the Gemma Doyle Trilogy as a teen, and I’ve recently become obsessed with The Diviners.  I’m such a fan of Libba Bray.

10. Leigh Bardugo

Ok, so I’ve only JUST finished my first Leigh Bardugo book, but I am obsessed and already know she is going to become one of my faves!


Who are your auto-buy authors? Let me know who I’m missing in the comments ❤