Book Reviews · The Classics Club

Classics Club Challenge: Persuasion by Jane Austen

31298657Summary: Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen’s most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne’s family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?

Jane Austen once compared her writing to painting on a little bit of ivory, 2 inches square. Readers of Persuasion will discover that neither her skill for delicate, ironic observations on social custom, love, and marriage nor her ability to apply a sharp focus lens to English manners and morals has deserted her in her final finished work.


I loved this book.  I am a converted Austen fan and I think Persuasion is one of my favorites.  Anne is such a great character.  She is sweet, smart, and reasonable, and she deals with her crazy family with grace.  Her family is hilariously vain and annoying and I couldn’t help but laugh with them.  Austen is unparalleled for me in her sarcastic observations about society, and this book showcases them greatly in its supporting characters.  Anne’s relationship with Captain Wentworth is slow-burning and I loved their interactions and the build-up of their romance.  The story was short and sweet but so fully fleshed out and I was deeply invested in the characters.  The more Austen I read, the more I can’t decide which is my favorite.  I think this one is up there.

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Book Reviews

BOOK HANGOVER: American Royals by Katharine McGee

40102928Summary: What if America had a royal family?

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling. Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her. And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.



I am a HUGE Katharine McGee fan, and American Royals has been my most anticipated release of the year.  Boy, it did NOT disappoint.  This book was amazing.  The concept was so genius and the execution was superb.  The setting was beautifully created with a great mix of familiar and brand new aspects of our modern world.  I loved how America having a monarchy instead of a democracy affected the rest of the world’s history as well as its own.  There were so many clever bits here to show us the development of the world and I was sincerely impressed by the thought and detail of this reimagining.  As we’ve come to expect from Katharine McGee, the story is told from multiple POV’s and they work together seamlessly to create a deliciously dramatic plot that I could not get enough of.  I loved every single one of these characters, from the prim and perfect future Queen Beatrice to the conniving social climber Daphne.  They were all so well crafted and real and I am dying to find out what is going to happen to them.  This book has easily been one of my favorite reads of the year and I very eagerly and anxiously await book two!

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy

42613944._SY475_Summary: In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.

Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal’s” memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.

To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review.  Thank you to Blink for giving me the opportunity!* 

Release Date: October 1st, 2019


I cannot get over how cool and unique the concept for this book was.  The power to see, take and transport someone else’s memories, an ability which only some people have, was fascinating.  What was even more fascinating was the use of those memories after they were taken from their owners, like the rich taking happy memories to feel those good emotions, absorbing the skills someone spent years perfecting or using painful memories as a means of torture.  The whole idea really brings to mind how important our memories are to who we become as people.  The system of magic was handled so well and played a huge part in the world-building.  I loved Etta, and the more we learned about her backstory the more I loved her.  We meet her at such an interesting point in her life, and it was interesting to watch her try to pick up the pieces of her mistakes and deal with her grief.  The plot in the first half of the book was entirely gripping and I couldn’t put it down.  The pacing of all the little reveals about the past and its ripples were incredibly well done.  There was a great and unexpected twist in the middle of the book but after that the action kind of lost its luster.  It felt rushed through and they had very little obstacles until the ending.  Her relationship with her love interest was sweet and a bit of a slow burn, but I wish they would have had more heat and tension between them so we could really feel the build-up.  The ending was was smart, but I wish it would have been a tad bit clearer so I could have fully embraced the effects of its cleverness.  I’m torn with what to rate this book because I am still completely awed by the concept and the exciting plot of the first half, but in the end, I was left a bit underwhelmed.  Because of that, I have to give it a high 3 stars.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: The Exchange by M.F. Lorson

41039644._SY475_Summary: A time travel student exchange program goes awry when a group of 21st century teens discover love and friendship across time.

Ari hates the Institute and everything it stands for. But to save her father’s job, she’s agreed to help host a time traveling exchange student. She only has to behave for 3 months while he’s here, then off he goes back to 1903 where he came from. Easy peasy, right? There’s just one problem. The more time Ari spends with James the harder she falls for him.

Release Date: September 25th, 2019

 

* I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! *


This story is really cute, but I found that it was too ambitious for such a short book.  At roughly 200 pages, everything moves really quickly and doesn’t leave much room for anything other than the plot movement.  We didn’t really get any development in the characters or their relationships so while the plot was interesting and fun, I wasn’t able to get invested in it.  I really loved the plot and the whole concept, but time travel can be so tricky and there were too many holes left open.  The way the book ended made everything feel pointless because it didn’t answer any of the questions set up in the plot.  In short, the concept was great, but it needed a lot more development to become a fully fleshed out novel.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams

38856385Summary: Adventures in Babysitting meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this funny, action-packed novel about a coven of witchy babysitters who realize their calling to protect the innocent and save the world from an onslaught of evil. 

Seventeen-year-old Esme Pearl has a babysitters club. She knows it’s kinda lame, but what else is she supposed to do? Get a job? Gross. Besides, Esme likes babysitting, and she’s good at it.

And lately Esme needs all the cash she can get, because it seems like destruction follows her wherever she goes. Let’s just say she owes some people a new tree.

Enter Cassandra Heaven. She’s Instagram-model hot, dresses like she found her clothes in a dumpster, and has a rebellious streak as gnarly as the cafeteria food. So why is Cassandra willing to do anything, even take on a potty-training two-year-old, to join Esme’s babysitters club?

The answer lies in a mysterious note Cassandra’s mother left her: “Find the babysitters. Love, Mom.”

Turns out, Esme and Cassandra have more in common than they think, and they’re about to discover what being a babysitter really means: a heroic lineage of superpowers, magic rituals, and saving the innocent from seriously terrifying evil. And all before the parents get home.

Release Date: September 17th, 2019

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! Thanks to Delacorte Press for the opportunity!* 



I wanted to love this book.  I REALLY wanted to love this book.  It was one of my most anticipated releases of the fall, and while there are some really great aspects that I enjoyed, unfortunately, it just fell flat for me as a whole.  All of the characters were pretty surface level, so it was difficult to connect to, or really care, about any of them.  Everything moves really quickly, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think that in both the characters and the plot it hindered the book’s ability to become fully developed.  I loved the concept and the plot was really interesting and fun, but it wasn’t detailed enough to make an impact.  While I thought the way the spells worked was very clever and cute, the finer details of the system of magic didn’t make complete sense with the other things that were established in the world.  Overall, while this book was cute and had good bones, it wasn’t fleshed out enough for me and left me feeling very underwhelmed.

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Monthly Wrap-Ups

August 2019 Wrap-Up

MonthlyWrap - Up

This month sped by.  It was my last full month on tour with Cats and while I am super sad to be closing this amazing chapter of my life, I am excited to see what is next and to be home in NYC for my favorite season.  IT’S ALMOST FALL!  I’ve already had my first Pumpkin Spice Latte, I’ve got the fall candles lit, and I am ready for the temperature to drop so I can wear my sweaters and boots and cozy up with some blankets and my fall reads.  I am super excited for the new releases this month and to hopefully make some better headway on my reading challenges!

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Books Read:

Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford ★★★★

The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett ★★★★★

The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams ★★

The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter ★★★★

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo ★★★★

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han ★★★


Favorite Book of the Month:

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Book Stores Visited:

Barbara’s Books– Chicago, IL

BAM!– Hershey, PA

Shakespeare & Co. -NYC


Currently Reading:

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Challenge Updates:

Goodreads Challenge: 41 of 100

Classics Club Challenge: 6 of 50


Broadway Book Chat: Ben Bogen from Frozen

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ARC August Reviews

Crown of Coral and Pearl by Mara Rutherford • The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter • The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett •

August Posts

ARC August 2019 TBR • Cleaning Up My TBR: Down the TBR Hole #14 • Top 10 Tuesday: Characters I’d Love to Be Besties With • The Anticipated Releases Book Tag • Top 10 Tuesday: Books I’ve Read That I Want In My Personal Library •


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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Monthly Wrap-Ups

July 2019 Wrap-Up

MonthlyWrap - Up

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 •


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 Reviews

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim Review

42815556Summary: Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

*I received an ARC of this book in return for an honest review.  Thanks to Randomhouse Children’s for the opportunity!*


Ok. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book, and I was so wrong.  It’s really good.  It is a beautifully written story that has everything you could want out of a YA fantasy novel.  The adventure is epic and fun, the romance is swoony, the system of magic is interesting, and the main characters are wonderfully likable.  I absolutely loved the Chinese culture in this book, especially its influences on the magic system.  It all works so seamlessly and transports us to a really vibrant world that I can’t wait to see more of.  The whole story has a traditional folklore feel to it as well, which adds a level of maturity and simplicity in the storytelling.  Maia is a great heroine and really comes into her own by the end.  I loved her arc, but I do wish we could have seen it progressing a bit stronger throughout.  The chemistry and tension with her love interest are fabulous from the get-go, and the pace of their relationship was perfect.  The journey they take together is fun and fantastical and super fast-paced.  The ending packs a punch and left me wanting more.  I am so pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book and I cannot wait to see where this series goes.

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