Top Five Wednesday: Ideal Mash-Ups & Anticipated Mash-Ups

You know those blurbs that say The Hunger Games meets The Fault in Our Stars meets Percy Jackson meets Harry Potter meets Game of Thrones meets Outlander meets Stranger Things? Okay, so maybe you haven’t seen that exact synopsis, but books blurbs tend to use other books or media that will entice readers to pick up said book. Today’s Top Five Wednesday is all about mash-ups that would make me want to pick up a book.

“A mix of Jenny Colgan’s Meet Me at the Cupcake Café and Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

The similarities don’t end in the authors’ first names. While I’ve predicted a To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before spinoff series following Kitty, I’d love to have a book with an NA-aged Lara Jean opening up her own bakery! Anyways, I’d love a mash-up of Meet Me at the Cupcake Café and To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before with a character with a family as great as Lara Jean’s and opens her own bake shop like Issy, who also has a great support system.

“A mix of Sex and the City and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl

Okay hear me out on this one. I want a mash-up of Sex and the City for its female friendship and four best friends alongside Cath’s passion as a fangirl and love for the Simon Snow series. Now picture four best friends and fangirls living in New York City, going to book stores, cookie dough cafes, author events, and more together. How awesome would that be??

“A mix of Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone and Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie

Moxie does feature female friendship, but I’d love a book where two female best friends, like Sloane and Emily (expect without the whole disappearing thing), team up together and spark a feminist revolution in their town during the summer. Because summer contemporaries are EVERYTHING.

“A mix of The Devil Wears Prada and Ashley Poston’s Geekerella

Okay this is definitely my most out there mash-up, but it can work as such: A girl begins working for a food truck connoisseur in hopes of getting a recommendation for a top-notch culinary school. Add in working for her boss being not such a piece of cake and a cute Harry Potter fan of a guy stopping by everyday, and my pre-order would already be in!

“A mix of Hart of Dixie and Emery Lord’s The Start of Me and You

I enjoyed Hart of Dixie for its small-town, Southern charm and I feel like that setting would mesh really well with a book like The Start of Me and You. After facing some personal struggles, girl enters for small Southern town for a fresh start and relationship opportunities.

Top 5 Wednesday is a collaborative group of book bloggers from various platforms who love sharing lists on Wednesdays. The T5W group can be found here on Goodreads.

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Today’s T5W topic and my own anticipation for some 2018 releases has made me consider what mash-ups have inspired me to add books to my TBR. Below are some of my anticipated 2018 releases whose mash-ups made me immediately add it to my TBR shelf on Goodreads.

Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Mash-up: “Chopped Teen Tournament and Kids Baking Championship”

Food Network’s Baking Championship series is among my favorite TV shows, and I especially loved this past season of Kids Baking Championship (reminder that I still need to try and make a unicorn cake). I also like putting on Chopped while I’m writing, so once I got to this mash-up, I knew I was sold. The book follows Rosie and Henry as they attend a prestigious cooking program in Paris who must cook like never before while sparks fly between them.

Love & Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonsalves

Mash-Up: “For fans of Becky Albertalli, Matthew Quick, & Ned Vizzini

Okay I admit that Becky Albertalli alone sold me on this mash-up, but I did enjoy Matthew Quick’s Silver Linings Playbook a few years ago. The book has been described as a darkly funny debut about a 19-year old student at Harvard who’s been consumed by love and grief. SIGN ME UP FOR ALL THE COLLEGE-AGED PROTAGONISTS

Would you be into some of the above mash-ups? What are some of your own? Share in the comments!

April Monthly Recommendations: Mental Health Rep

Monthly Recommendations is a group on Goodreads for Booktubers and bloggers alike. Each month, there’s a new topic, and this April is all about books with mental health representation. I feel like I’ve read a lot of books that feature characters who struggle with their mental health or have discussion surrounding the subject, but the books below are ones, in my opinion, that best represent mental health.

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Made You Up by Francesca Zappia- Francesca Zappia’s Made You Up is a book that I’d love to reread. I remember eating this one up in two sittings at the beach last summer.  Made You Up features a few characters with different mental illnesses, and our main character, Alex, has schizophrenia. As the novel goes on, we see what it’s like for Alex to live with her mental illness and she somewhat performs as an unreliable narrator as we try to distinguish what’s real and what’s not.

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Turtles All the Way Down by John Green- Although its received some mixed reviews, Turtles All the Way Down is one I’m sure you’ll find in many monthly recommendations posts this month. It was exciting to have another John Green book in the world in 2017 and Turtles All the Way Down is among my top three favorite John Green books. Aza’s mental illness just felt so real, and there were times where I felt sick to my stomach for her.

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We Are Okay by Nina LaCourWe Are Okay is a diverse read for many reasons, including its spotlight on mental illness. I don’t want to go too much into this subject for the sake of spoilers, but I was pleasantly surprised by We Are Okay’s depth and focus on family. If you need more motivation to pick up this book, just look at its gorgeous cover. It’ll be in your B&N shopping cart before you know it.

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The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan- The Astonishing Color of After is my most recent read, and I really enjoyed its mental health representation. While there’s plenty of magical realism, the book felt very realistic, as Leigh’s mother struggles with depression. Emily X.R. Pan demonstrates that there wasn’t a single or specific cause/reason behind her depression.

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Have you read any of the books above? What are some of your own mental health rep recommendations? Share in the comments!

MY NEW FAVORITE GRAPHIC NOVEL: The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Summary: Prince Sebastian Prince Sebastian’s parents are on the lookout for a bride for their son, the Crown Prince of Belgium. Instead of spending time looking for his betrothed, Sebastian would much rather put on dresses created by his best friend and seamstress, Frances, and take Paris by storm as Lady Crystallia. Frances is willing to do anything to protect Sebastian’s secret, but as Lady Crystallia’s identity becomes more at risk, Frances questions how much longer she can put her own dreams on hold.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018. I wouldn’t call myself a graphic novels connoisseur (I haven’t finish my Graphic Novels course at university just yet), but I’ve read a considerable amount and I’m always on the look out for more. The Prince and the Dressmaker caught my attention for its aesthetic and unique story. I blew through the book on a Friday night in about an hour, and I’m so glad I have my own copy so I can reread it again and again.

Aesthetically speaking, I loved Jen Wang’s use of pastels and bright colors. I liked her use of gutters and untraditional use of panels—I liked how she incorporated panels alongside quarter or half-page illustrations. One of the illustrations below gave me some Schuyler sister vibes! Frances’s dress designs were absolutely stunning! The first dress she creates for Lady Crystallia reminded me so much of Belle and I particularly loved the red dress Crystallia wears while playing cards.

 

Plot wise, the pacing was perfect and I enjoyed seeing Sebastian and Frances’s relationship develop more and more. It was interesting to see Sebastian balance his responsibilities as prince  alongside his nighttime adventures as Crystallia with Frances. I figured at some point it would all come crashing down, and I found myself fearing of turning the pages to witness Crystallia’s downfall! I also enjoyed our side characters, like Emilie and Peter, and it was fun to see Sebastian and Frances get into some funny hijinks. I found myself laughing along Crystallia’s day at the spa.

The ending of The Prince and the Dressmaker was heart-warming in a way I didn’t expect. I enjoyed how the themes of being comfortable with who you are and self-identity carried out throughout our cast of characters.

Overall, I loved The Prince and the Dressmaker for its gorgeous dress designs illustrations and Sebastian and Frances’s unique story and friendship. I want to read In Real Life by Jen Wang and Cory Doctorow soon, and I’m looking forward to diving into more of Jen’s work.

Have you read The Prince and the Dressmaker? Share in the comments!

Top Five Wednesday: Auto-Buy Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors

In honor of the Booktube SFF awards, today’s Top Five Wednesday is all about the sci-fi & fantasy authors whose books I must have in my hands the day they’re published. For the most part, I do buy all of the following author’s books, but your girl likes to save money and support her community by using the library. So while some books may not grace my shelves at home, they still hold a special place in my heart (and in the on-hold section of my library account).

Sarah J. Maas – I appreciate Sarah J. Maas’s writing so much because Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses really opened me up to reading both YA and adult fantasy. While I’m debating if I’m going to borrow Catwoman: Soulstealer from the library or buy a copy (I think finding a signed edition will influence my decision), I own copies of all of SJM’s books—her books are slowly, but surely turning my top bookshelf into its own.

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Marie Lu – I am here for whatever Marie Lu writes, and my love for her writing is well-known in my family. My mom cried for me when Marie gave me an ARC of Warcross in her regular signing line at Book Con last year, and I even got my non-reader of a dad to follow her on Twitter (I am well-prepared for the Wildcard cover reveal to drop). I just need the graphic novel version of Champion to finish my collection of her existing books.

Marissa Meyer- The gorgeousenss that are Marissa Meyer’s book covers may or may not influence my decision to buy them all. I would love to find an Owlcrate edition of Heartless with its white cover, and the only reason why my Lunar Chronicles books are a mix of hardbacks and paperbacks was due to my impatience for the Winter and Stars Above paperbacks to come out. The only Marissa Meyer books that I currently don’t own are the Wires and Nerve graphic novels. I’d love to see them come out in a box set in the future.

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While I love and support many SFF authors, I’d thought it would be fun to share some authors who I could see myself adding to my auto-buy list:

Katharine Arden- I loved Katharine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale because it was such a unique fantasy story with a lot of emphasis on folklore. I’m really looking forward to picking up the next two books in the Winternight trilogy this summer, and I can  see myself highly anticipating Katharine Arden’s future work.

Leigh Bardugo- I’m sure many of you are screaming at me through your screens right now (the Internet is great for at least one thing!) that Leigh Bardugo is not listed above. I obviously love the Six of Crows duology and I enjoyed Wonder Woman: Warbringer, but I feel like I can’t consider Leigh as an auto-buy author for the time being because I still haven’t read the Grisha Verse trilogy. I used to have no intention in reading Shadow and Bone and I know it has mixed reviews, but with King of Scars on the way and knowing that Leigh’s writing has grown, I’m going to give it a chance and borrow the trilogy from the library. Depending on my reaction, I’ll then be able to decide if I need to buy all of her books immediately. Six of Crows will surely find a way to my shelves one day and the Grisha paperback covers are too tempting.

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Top 5 Wednesday is a collaborative group of book bloggers from various platforms who love sharing lists on Wednesdays. The T5W group can be found here on Goodreads.

I love how many incredible female SFF authors there are! Who are some of your favorite SFF writers?? Share in the comments!

April Snow Showers?? :TBB Asks Spring Edition

 The Blended Blog’s TBB Asks series is always a fun way for me to jump into a new season. And I need a lot of motivation this spring, between the final month of the spring semester and the fact that it’s still snowing in April!! I had two snow days last week and I’m quite ready for this winter weather to be over. I already packed away my Uggs, guys!

 What 3 colors remind you most of spring?

Easter probably has something to do with it, but I’m really reminded of pastels, especially pink, yellow, and blue.

What is the first thing you add to your wardrobe in spring?

Overall in spring, I go for lighter and less bulky outfits, but this year I’ve broken out my sneakers! Sneakers, especially Nike and Adidas, have really been on trend this year outside of the workout world. On Easter, I added these pink Adidas to my wardrobe and they’ve become my go-to shoes.

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What is the first wardrobe item you ditch in the spring?

Uggs! I spent some time last weekend putting my Uggs away, and while my moccasins and Tasmans are among my all-time favorite shoes, I’m more than happy to put them away in hope of warmer weather.

Who mows the grass where you live?

My dad 🙂

What’s spring like where you live?

I always joke around that we really don’t get a full spring where I live (see mention of two snow days above). We spend the beginning of the season still in winter practically and then jump into summer-like days. By May, we typically hit sixty degrees Fahrenheit or above, but some days can be quite chilly or pure indicators of summer.

What’s your favorite thing about spring?

More daylight! It’s perfect for getting to go for runs after class and I love being able to read using daylight for as long as possible.

Are you a baseball fan?

Yes! I love the New York Yankees, and it was fun to watch a few games over Easter weekend and I love being able to flip a game on while tidying up or doing homework.

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Tulips or Daffodils?

Tulips

Favorite spring activity?

Getting to exercise outside without having to wear at least three layers.

Flowers in the ground or pot?

My mom and I love setting up potted plants and flowers all over our deck.

Car Wash or wash vehicles at home?

Car Wash for the first wash of the season, then wash at home.

When do you pull out your sandals?

The first sixty degree day! And as long as I have a pedicure 😉

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Are you a spring person? Share in the comments?

My Experience Seeing Carousel

If there’s one thing that I’m super appreciative of thus far in my college experience, it’s how many Broadway shows I’ve been able to see (which obviously surpass the quality education I’m getting and all of the incredible opportunities that have come with that). During my first two years as a college student, I’ve seen 5 Broadway shows! While Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen were generously given to me as gifts from my parents, I’ve seen Fiddler on the Roof and Waitress through my school, along with my recent show, Carousel.

If there’s one thing I’m super appreciative about seeing Carousel, it’s that I finally remember how to spell ‘carousel’ (that ‘u’ can really throw you, okay me, off). All jokes aside, I was really excited to Carousel for a few reasons:

  1. It’s considered a classic Broadway show, so let’s hear it for improving my Broadway education
  2. It was a preview! Carousel officially opens on April 12th, so this was my first ever Broadway preview. I don’t think it affected my experience too much, but at the end of Act 1, a few of the people from my group realized that they didn’t perform “June is Bustin’ Out All Over” (reprise).
  3. Jessie Mueller plays Julie Jordan! I love Jessie Mueller in Waitress– I listen to that soundtrack on the daily- so I was beyond excited to see her perform in this show. And yes, her voice and performance was amazing as always.

My best friend came to the show with me, and we had a great time hanging out outside of the school environment (especially because we are both currently stressing out far too much over this semester and classes for next year). We grabbed dinner at my favorite Irish pub beforehand- apologies for no photos of dinner, but we were in bit of a rush. We got to the Imperial Theatre twenty minutes before the show started, and while the line was a bit long, it moved quickly and we had some fun taking photos outside the theater. Since the show is still in previews, no pictures were allowed inside, but I managed to get sneaky shot of my playbill with my brand new bag (the star of many of my photos recently).

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I knew next to nothing about Carousel going in, so I didn’t know what to expect. I was a bit surprised to realize that the show’s title doesn’t have much to do with the plot, but I’m sure you could find some connections other than one of the main characters, Billy, working at the town’s carousel. Joshua Henry played Billy Bigelow and it was fun getting to see him perform, since he’s been in a few runs of Hamilton. Carousel follows a young couple, Billy and Julie, who are both unemployed, putting a strain on their marriage. Billy and Julie look to their friends and family in their small town in Maine for advice and help.

carouseloutsideCarousel features a lot of choreography and for someone who’s not used to heavily choreographed shows, other than Hamilton, it took me a bit to adjust to dancing over dialogue. While I wish there a bit more dialogue, all of the dances were amazing, especially Ballet performed by Louise in Act 2. Her dance didn’t need dialogue to convey her emotion. I really enjoyed Jessie as Julie and Joshua as Billy, but I wish we got to see them together a bit more. My best friend and I agreed that Lindsay Mendez, who performed as Carrie Pipperidge, stole the show for us! Her humor always had the audience laughing. My favorite number was its last, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (reprise). I’m excited to see the original cast recording hopefully come out soon.

Carousel was darker than I expected, but I think it added a bit more suspense to the show, and I would’ve never guessed its plot direction during the second half of Act 2. One of my favorite parts of the show was the various sets—my friend and I still can’t figure out how they made it look like people were really jumping into the ocean—and I think my favorite scene design-wise was for the backdoor. I loved the use of stars and how the dancers made up the gate/door.

Overall, I enjoyed Carousel a lot and I’m excited to see how it does at the Tony Awards in June. I’m hoping the show will get nominated for a few awards, since I think this is the only show I’ll be seeing this season.

Have you seen Carousel or any of its other adaptations? What Broadway shows have you seen? Share in the comments!

Review: The Little French Bistro by Nina George

Summary: Marianne is stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage.  After forty-one years, she has reached her limit, and one evening in Paris she decides to take action. Following a dramatic moment on the banks of the Seine, Marianne leaves her life behind and sets out for the coast of Brittany, also known as “the end of the world.”

Here she meets a cast of colorful and unforgettable locals who surprise her with their warm welcome, and the natural ease they all seem to have, taking pleasure in life’s small moments. And, as the parts of herself she had long forgotten return to her in this new world, Marianne learns it’s never too late to begin the search for what life should have been all along.

My Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

Nina George’s The Little French Bistro reminded me of some of Jenny Colgan’s work, who is one of my favorite adult contemporary/British contemporary authors. Jenny Colgan’s books, such as Meet Me in the Cupcake Café and The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, and The Little French Bistro all feature protagonists who are looking for a fresh start in life. However, George’s The Little French Bistro features an older protagonist named Marianne. Marianne and her husband, Lothar, have traveled from Germany to France to celebrate their fortieth wedding anniversary. As romantic and glamorous as a trip for two to Paris may sound, Marianne is extremely unhappy with her marriage and the way her life turned out. Also taking a much darker route, Marianne attempts to commit suicide in the Seine River. I was taken a back a bit from the novel’s darker themes, as Marianne contemplates suicide a few more times in the novel as she lives in Brittany.

George provides an interesting juxtaposition between Marianne’s happiness with her new life and her anger over the past, but I feel that her wish for her life to end didn’t fit in with later themes. I also had trouble connecting with George’s writing style, which may explain my confusion over Marianne’s desires. I didn’t enjoy the sudden instances of French or Bruton folklore, and I found it a bit confusing when French was incorporated (coming from a reader who’s only studied Italian and didn’t remember a drop of it). I read a translated edition of The Little French Bistro, so perhaps some of George’s language and techniques were lost in translation.

However, I did enjoy The Little French Bistro for it’s seaside village of Brittany. Most of the novels I’ve read that take place in France center around Paris, so it was fun to explore a new setting. There is quite an eccentric cast of characters, and while I had some trouble keeping track them, it was really sweet to see them become close to Marianne. I also liked getting multiple third person close POVs.

Overall, The Little French Bistro wasn’t my cup of tea, but I think older readers or readers who have gone through similar struggles like Marianne can relate to the novel more. The Little French Bistro seems to be much-loved and read novel, so I’m glad it’s now part of my read pile.

I received The Little French Bistro from Blogging for Books for this review.

Have you read The Little French Bistro? Share in the comments!