ELIZAAAAA: Love & War Review

Summary: As the Revolutionary rages on, newlyweds Alexander and Eliza Hamilton are determined to truly start their life together. But when Alex is pulled to the battlefield by his own wish and Eliza is needed at her family’s estate, the two are  forced to fight for a better future- for their country and their marriage. As the war comes to a close, Alex and Eliza’s marriage is again threatened. Eliza struggles to build a home for herself and the couple in New York City, while Alex is swamped in his law practice, especially when a trial bring his against his greatest rival, Aaron Burr.

 My Rating: 3/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

I’m completely overdue for some Hamilton fangirling. Am I only the person who hears Lin/Alexander’s “ELiZaaAAAAAA” from “It’s Quiet Uptown” when they think of her? I think after I finish writing this review, I’ll be exploring Red Bubble for some Eliza stickers like it.

After loving Melissa de la Cruz’s Alex & Eliza last summer, I was really looking forward to picking up the sequel, Love & War. While I enjoyed Love & War for certain reasons, this one unfortunately didn’t live up to Alex & Eliza for me.

Once again, I lovedddd Eliza. My favorite part about reading this now-series is getting to learn more about Eliza, who we relatively spend little time with in Hamilton: An American Musical. Yes, even I admit that there is some moping from her about her marriage with Alex and how little time the newly married couple gets to spend with one another, but I honestly enjoyed Eliza’s “slower” chapters. It was fun seeing her with her family at the Pastures and getting to start a new life in New York City. Outside of being a bit frustrated with her husband, I think Eliza truly is an intelligent and strong protagonist. And don’t be fooled by Peggy and Angelica, this girl has plenty of sass.

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And now on what or who most disappointed me about Love & War: Alex.

I didn’t mind reading both Alex and Eliza’s perspectives in Alex & Eliza, but almost from the get-go, I was not here for Alex’s POV. I skim read at least two of his chapters and those chapters were probably two most important chapters in his storyline. And I never skim read unless I’m reading for school. I really wasn’t interested in the battles and while I didn’t mind learning about Alex’s law practice, I was often left bored during the court trial. From loyalists to important government folk, I also lost track of all the people Alex refers to.

While I love Eliza’s speech and sass at the very end of the book, the ending just felt so flat to me. In my opinion, it’s true purpose was to provide for a easy sequel to the third book. I’ve seen a few other bloggers say this about Love & War and even reading the book’s blurb, the book is sort’ve anticlimactic. As a contemporary reads girl, I can deal with anticlimactic; give me all the fluff. I enjoyed seeing the more mundane and yes, romantic, things, like Alex and Eliza sneaking off to a corner during a party or buying furniture together for their new home. But when it comes to historical fiction and Love & War, so many of the “big” moments the book’s blurb promises just fell flat.

Overall, I enjoyed Love & War for Eliza’s perspective, but I was not into Alex’s POV and storyline in this one. Given’s Melissa de la Cruz’s past work, I’m not really surprised Alex & Eliza is turning into a full-fledged series. Being the Hamilton trash that I am, I will most likely be reading the next book, and I wouldn’t mind just getting Eliza’s POV in that installment.

Have you read Love & War? Are you a Hamilton fan? Share in the comments!

ARC Review: I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott

Summary: A Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton is one of the most important figures in American history. However, little has been said about his wife, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, who some argue is the true hero of Hamilton’s story. As the daughter of a respected general, Eliza is used to meeting the soldiers and dignitaries coming in and out of the Schuyler household. But no one’s captured her attention as strongly as Alexander Hamilton, George Washington’s most prized aide. Told from Eliza’s point-of-view, I, Eliza Hamilton explores Eliza’s life as she helps her husband shape the nation.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

I started reading I, Eliza Hamilton the second weekend in September. I was home that weekend and thankfully didn’t have too much schoolwork so I dived right into reading. If you’re new to Fangirl Fury, this fangirl has been obsessed with Hamilton: An American Musical since her senior year of high school. I’ve been one of the lucky few in the scheme of things (more like in the scheme of the impossibility of getting Hamilton tickets) to see the show on Broadway, and last year, Ron Chernow came to my school and talked about Alexander Hamilton and his role in the musical. That being said, Susan Holloway Scott’s I, Eliza Hamilton was one of my most anticipated releases of 2017. My only “disappointment” of Hamilton is that we really don’t get too much time with Eliza herself. I, Eliza Hamilton is completely told from Eliza’s point of view and tracks her life from the moment she meets Alexander Hamilton in the late 1770s to his death in 1804 (sorry if you have not finished the Hamilton album yet, but it’s a historical fact that Alexander died from dueling with Aaron Burr).

While I, Eliza Hamilton is a fictional narrative, the amount of research Susan Holloway Scott did is evident throughout the novel. Being the Hamilton fan that I am, which basically means that I’ve seen almost every interview with Lin Manuel-Miranda about the show, I’ve learned that the musical is obviously not one hundred percent accurate. Sorry folks, but Hercules Mulligan was not the flower girl at Alex and Eliza’s wedding (the Schuylers made up the majority of their wedding guests).

It was really cool though to read more about some of the characters from the musical. For example, Eliza discusses the duel between John Laurens and Charles Lee, we get interaction between the Schuyler sisters, Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson make a few appearances, and of course, there’s the dreaded Reynolds Pamphlet.

My favorite aspect of reading I, Eliza Hamilton was how hard it was to put it down! While we can tell through Eliza’s language that she’s an eighteenth-century woman, the writing felt modern and it was quite easy to understand Alexander’s dilemmas in the political world as he explains them to his wife. I read I, Eliza Hamilton over one of the busiest weeks of my fall semester, but you better believe I read at least fifty pages before going to bed each night. Speaking of Alexander and politics,  Susan Holloway Scott clearly illustrates is Eliza’s help to Alexander. Alexander would talk to Eliza about the problems facing Congress and the nation and look for her opinion, and Eliza would often help write and proofread Alexander’s various writings, from essays and correspondences to Washington’s Farewell Address. Amidst raising their family and helping her husband in any way she can, it was amazing to understand how strong of an individual Eliza was herself.

In conclusion, if you love Hamilton, you will love I, Eliza Hamilton. If you enjoyed Melissa de la Cruz’s Alex and Eliza, you will love I, Eliza Hamilton, especially since it expands past Alex and Eliza’s wedding. If you want find yourself belting out “Helpless” or “Burn” and needing more Eliza, you will love I, Eliza Hamilton. And most of all, you will love Eliza Hamilton for the hero she is.

I was fortunate enough to be sent a galley of I, Eliza Hamilton from Kensington Books. Thank you for helping expand my love for Eliza and the Hamilton story.

Do you plan to pick up I, Eliza Hamilton? Share in the comments!

A Fangirl Fury Q&A of Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

Being the Hamilton fan that I am, I knew it was time to pick up Melissa de la Cruz’s young-adult novel Alex and Eliza. Alex and Eliza tells the love story of how Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler met. The Revolution isn’t stopping the Schuyler family, one of the wealthiest families in the young nation, from hosting a ball in honor of their daughters. Peggy and Angelica are ready to dance and flirt the night away, but Eliza can’t help thinking how silly it is to be spending time at a ball when there are soldiers who need her. But when General Washington’s right-hand man, Colonel Alexander Hamilton, arrives with some bad news, Eliza’s mind turns to other matters, including some that include her heart. In honor of Fourth of July week coming to a close here in the US, here’s a spoiler-free Q & A all about Alex and Eliza.

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Mini Q & A:

Q: If I enjoy Hamilton: An American Musical, how much will I like Alex and Eliza?

A: You will LOVE Alex and Eliza. If I had one “disappointment” about Hamilton, it’s that I wish we had more time with Eliza. Obviously, I understand that all of the major components of Alexander Hamilton’s life couldn’t be thoroughly expressed in the show (but if Lin Manuel-Miranda did that, I’d be all for it). Even though the novel isn’t 100% historically accurate (newsflash: Hamilton isn’t either), Alex and Eliza gives us a longer interpretation of how Alexander and Eliza met and everything leading up to their marriage. In addition, I feel that we get to see more of Eliza’s personality (and of course Angelica and Peggy are along for the ride too). I also admit to ignoring Melissa de la Cruz’s physical descriptions of Alex and Eliza and envisioning Lin as Alex and Phillipa as Eliza.

Q:How much is this like Hamilton: An American Musical?

A:While there’s no signing or dancing, we get to interact with a lot of the characters from the first act of Hamilton. Beside Alex and the Schuyler sisters, our favorite commander in chief and some of Alex’s friends (one may be French) make appearances in the novel.

Q: Alex and Eliza is a historical fiction read. What were some interesting aspects of the novel being set during the Revolutionary War?

A: Alex and Eliza takes place from 1778 to 1780. I found it really interesting reading about the characters’ wardrobes choices, from powdered wigs to larger than life ball gowns. Marriage often comes up in the novel as well, as the Schuyler sisters are forced to consider the size of their partners’ fortune. It was a reminder of how marriage was used back then to increase a family’s wealth and power.

Q: Alex or Eliza?

A: Eliza! I enjoyed reading Alex’s parts, but I would have been satisfied (you know there had to be a pun somewhere) if the book solely centered on Eliza. I loved how she was different from her sisters and how she made it a priority to be involved in the war as much as possible. It was also funny to see her not be so impressed with Alex at first sight.

Q: Is there interaction with other characters outside Alex and Eliza?

A: Yes! My favorite side characters in the novel included Angelica, Peggy, and Aunt Gertrude. I loved getting more character development from Angelica and Peggy. Unlike Hamilton, Melissa de la Cruz doesn’t adopt the idea that Alex and Angelica at some point had feelings for each other. Instead, we see Angelica disapproving Eliza’s interest in the poor orphan. It’s Peggy, who has a close friendship with Alex, that cheers the couple on. My favorite side character had to be the Schuylers’ Aunt Gertrude, who was just so unconventional and was such a great role model for Eliza. I loved her humor!

Have you read Alex and Eliza? Share your thoughts and feels in the comments!

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Minor Characters

Happy Wednesday! I’ve recently decided to participate in Top 5 Wednesday. If you haven’t heard of Top 5 Wednesday, it’s a huge collaborative group of book bloggers from any platform who post list of their top 5 favorite things every Wednesday. The category for each week changes, and for this week it’s favorite minor characters. My top five minor characters are from a mix of different mediums.

Dol from Vicious by V.E. Schwab – Dol is the perfect sidekick because HE’S A DOG AND HOW COULD YOU NOT WANT A DOG AS YOUR SIDEKICK? Sydney and Dol just make the best team in one of the best books ever- sorry, but I will not stop screaming my love for Vicious from the rooftops.

Alis from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas – Alis is one of the best components of the Spring Court. She has a quick wit and was one of the few members that actually helped Feyre in the long run.

Samuel Seabury from Hamilton– “Farmers Refuted” is one of my favorite songs (frankly, I love every song from the show) in the first act of Hamilton. I love how Samuel Seabury goes back and forth with Hamilton throughout the tune, and seeing his character come to life when I saw the show made the song even better.

Tigris from Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins– I loved seeing Tigris come to life in Mockingjay: Part 2, and I really enjoy learning about her part in the resistance. Having a The Hunger Games movie or reread marathon is a must for me this summer!

Jean Ralphio from Parks and Recreation – I’ve been re-watching Parks and Recreation a lot lately (when am I not is the true question), and my love for Jean Ralphio has only grown. I love his interaction with Ron the most, as Jean Ralphio’s humor and Ron’s bluntness makes for some funny scenes. It’s weird to think that the creators of Parks and Recreation considered making Jean Ralphio a love interest for Leslie!

Who are some of your favorite minor characters? Share in the comments below!

Ron Chernow Talk

2017 continues to be another year of Hamilton for me! Last week, Ron Chernow gave a forum discussion at my school. Ron Chernow is the author of a Alexander Hamilton, aka the 800 page (!!!) biography that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to write his hit-musical about the founding father. I actually bought the book right after seeing Hamilton back in January, but I’ve only read a few sections that mainly focus on his relationship with Eliza. I’m really enjoying it so far  because the book reads more like a narrative than a history lesson.

Over 800 people came to the discussion, and it was so cool to see that many people interested in Hamilton in one space. Chernow began his talk by discussing some key points about Alexander’s life. As seen in the musical, he joked that Hamilton loved to talk, which helped him a lot as Washington’s right hand man and later Secretary of the Treasury. He also explained how Burr and Hamilton came to their famous duel. Despite what the show depicts, it wasn’t just the election of 1800 that caused them to duel (side note: the Drunk History episode does a fantastic job making this point as well and features Lin as our narrator!).

 

Chernow soon transitioned to talking about Hamilton: An American Musical and how he became involved in the project. He admitted that he was a bit skeptical of Lin’s idea at first, but Lin’s passion and determination won him over. When he recalled the first time Lin sang “Alexander Hamilton” to him, Chernow sang the entire song on stage! It was so genuine and funny, I just couldn’t stop smiling! He also shared some behind the scenes information about the show.I knew that the characters’ type of singing had something to do with their age, for example, Jefferson sings jazz while the rest of the characters have moved on to rap. However  I never knew that the characters’ appearance above their neck was purposely modern-looking, while their outfits were inspired by eighteenth and nineteenth century wear.

Toward the end of the discussion, Chernow answered questions from the audience. Many of the history teachers in the crowd thanked Chernow for making history fun again. They said that Hamilton has  inspired to students to learn more about Alexander Hamilton’s time in history, as well as easily incorporating the musical into their lesson plans. My hands-down favorite questions came at the end by two children, who asked what Chernow’s  favorite song was (“Satisfied”) and if he would sign their books (yes). Overall, it was so exciting to have Ron Chernow at my school and hope to attend more Hamilton-esque events in the future.

My Most Anticipated Spring Releases

From standalones to series finales, there are so many YA books coming out this spring. I’m anticipating all the fangirl feels this season!

Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz– A YA retelling, Melissa de la Cruz’s Alex and Eliza follows the fateful night Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler meet at the Schuylers’ ball. Being the massive Hamilton fan that I am,  I’m excited for this book to come out on April 11,yet I’m a bit skeptical. I’m not sure if we really need a YA retelling of how the couple met, similar to how we “needed” a young adult version of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J.Maas– Since A Court of Mist and Fury reaffirmed my belief that Sarah J. Maas is the queen of fantasy, I cannot wait to get my hands on ACOWAR (Sarah said that this abbreviation is quite fitting to the story). I don’t know what to expect in the final book of this Beauty and the Beast retelling turned retelling of Hades and Persephone turned I don’t know what else yet. ACOWAR comes out May 2.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han– Oh, the series finale that will cause all the tears. I’m so happy Jenny Han decided to add another book to her To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series. This book perfectly captures love and family-relationships, and there’s so much baking! With her father’s wedding, high school graduation, and college all on the horizon, Lara Jean has some big decisions to make about her future and of course her relationship with Peter. Always and Forever, Lara Jean better colem with Kleenex on its release day,May 2.

Our Dark Duet by Victoria SchwabOur Dark Duet is the final book in Victoria Schwab’s Monsters of Verity duology. This Savage Song, the first book in the duology, was my the first Schwab book that I’ve ever read and I’m absolutely obsessed. The duology takes place in Verity, a city divided by monsters. We follow Kate, the daughter of a man who the monsters are even afraid of, and August, who just wants to prove that he’s more than the monster everyone thinks he is. While I’m sad that the series is ending on June 13th, I can’t wait for Augustus and Kate’s story to continue in Our Dark Duet.

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen– Sarah Dessen, the queen of YA contemporary, comes out with her thirteenth novel on June 6th. Once and for All follows Louisa, the daughter of a wedding planner. Having been to more weddings than most people will in their lifetimes, Louisa is quite over the whole happily ever-after thing. Ambrose is determined to get Louisa out of her funk, especially when he begins to develop feelings for her. Mixed with humor, love, and weddings, Once and for All sounds like the perfect summer contemporary.

What books are you most anticipating this spring? Comment below!

My Experience Seeing Hamilton

Since February 2016, I’ve been absolutely obsessed with Hamilton. And when one is obsessed with this musical about Alexander Hamilton, one knows that there’s a 0.00000001% chance of ever being able to see it due to its high demand and extremely expensive tickets. That being said, you can imagine my shock when I found two tickets underneath my Christmas tree. My parents first played the tickets off as a joke gift, as they were wrapped in a bunch of The Children’s Place bags. I’m just five feet tall (or so they tell me) so I’m used to my height being the source of most ha-ha moments. What I thought would be a pair of kids’ pajamas turned into an envelope with two tickets to the room where it happens.

So on January 8th, 2017, my mom and I set off on our experience seeing Hamilton. Beforehand, my mom had never listened to the show besides listening to my constant renditions of “My Shot”. We went the day after a huge snowstorm and it was still really cold out. So naturally at the train station, I stepped into a huge pile of slush while getting out of the car, my feet freezing and my once-black boots taking on whatever what was in that pile. Once we got into the city, the weather and my feet warmed up, the latter thanks to a pair of fuzzy socks from Duane Reade.

Since we already had our tickets, my mom and I weren’t in a rush to get to the theatre, and we had a great lunch at The Pig N Whistle (next way to my heart: food from an Irish pub). We arrived at the Richard Rodgers Theatre around 2:30 and there were just people on people on people in line. Even with the crowds, we went into the theatre quickly and had time to splurge $60 on the classic Hamilton tee and mug.

While we sat in the second row of the rear mezzanine, I could see the stage with no problem. Before the show even started, I was completely mesmerized by the lights. The lights hit the stage so that it looked like there were “Alex”s spelt all over the stage. As soon as “Alexander Hamilton” started,  I began judging how this cast sounded compared to the album. Unfortunately, by the time I saw the show, the original cast had left for other projects (even though there was a small part of me that hoped that Lin would make an appearance).I quickly stopped because the singing and acting were amazing. Jordan Fisher played John Laurens and Philip Hamilton, and I was in love with the character he brought to each role . While Javier Muñoz, aka ‘Sexy Hamilton’ didn’t perform as the title character, Michael Luwoye bought a lot of emotion and humor to Hamilton himself.

Hands-down, my favorite part of the show was the humor. Between Laurens drunkenly slumping over Burr during “The Story of Tonight (Reprise)” to King George III stomping his foot for his spotlight to turn blue, I couldn’t stop laughing. My mom loved every scene that King George III was in, both of us agreeing that Rory O’Malley completely stole the show as the monarch. Overall, I couldn’t stop smiling throughout the entire show and I’m so lucky to have had this experience seeing Hamilton. I ordered the Alexander Hamilton biography, the book that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the show, right when I got home because I needed more! The author, Ron Chernow, is coming to my school in a week to give a talk about his book so my Hamilton experience will most definitely continue throughout 2017.