Visit the Library from Home with Libby

Did you know that you can visit your local library and grab some books without even leaving your home?! The app: Libby gives you the power to browse your library’s collection and borrow a title.

I had heard of Libby, but never used it until my friend Michelle shared she downloads free Audiobooks from the library. Your local library has thousands of digital e-books and audiobooks FREE for you to download with your library card!

Libby gives you the power to:

  • Sign in to multiple libraries, with one or more cards for each library.
  • Download books and audiobooks for offline reading, or stream them to save space.
  • Sample any book with a tap — nothing to download or delete.
  • If you prefer reading on your Kindle, Libby can send your library books to it.
  • Try a zoomable graphic novel, or a picture book with read along audio.

Download on the Apple App Store or Get it on Google Play and dive into that story!

5 Book Series To Keep You Entertained During Quarantine

If you have been given the luxury of endless free time during our current situation, why not pick up a book and get lost in another world!?

Here are five book series to keep you entertained and engaged during quarantine:

Harry Potter | J.K. Rowling

I think it would be absolutely criminal if I neglected to mention the epic Harry Potter saga. J.K. Rowling’s 7 part series chronicles a young wizard’s adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

There is so much magic to gleam from all of these books. They truly are for every age of reader with teachings of equality (wizards of ‘pure blood’ vs ‘muggles’), relationships (friendships between the trio and others), facing your fears, and more.

Full of mystery, heart, and suspense, you will not want to miss out on the world-wide phenomenon known as HARRY POTTER. If you’ve seen the movies, the books are even better!

Title: Harry Potter
Number Of Books: 7
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Scholastic (in US) / Bloomsbury (in UK)
Publication Date: 1997 – 2007
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Purchase: Click Here

The Harbinger Series | Jeff Wheeler

Jeff Wheeler is honestly one of my favorite writers, I think he does such an incredible job building these fantastical worlds that are as dimensional as his characters. I found his work through Kindle Unlimited, a subscription service I use to read books, you can also purchase the series in paperback. My boyfriend literally spent all of 2019 reading ONLY Jeff Wheeler books.

I think the Harbinger books have everything that I love in a series:

  • Some kind of magic: The Mysteries
  • Strong female protagonists
  • Allusion to the British Class System: Cettie Pratt, an Orphan. Sera Fitzempress, a Princess. (Because if you know me, Downton Abbey is my favorite)
  • Suspense: I couldn’t put these books down!

Theirs is a world of opposites. The privileged live in sky manors held aloft by a secretive magic known only as the Mysteries. Below, the earthbound poor are forced into factory work to maintain the engine of commerce. Only the wealthy can afford to learn the Mysteries, and they use their knowledge to further lock their hold on society.

Title: The Harbinger Series
Number Of Books: 5
Author: Jeff Wheeler
Publisher: 47North
Publication Date: 2018 – 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Purchase: Click Here
Book One in Kindle Format Is For FREE on Amazon for the month of April! Download now!

The Tainted Accords Series | Kelly St Clare

The Tainted Accords series is ADDICTING. I swear I could not put these books down. Author, Kelly St Clare does an incredible job furthering the plot & character development on every page, which is why I couldn’t stop reading. I wanted to know more and more!

The Tainted Accords series centers around two worlds: Glacium, a frozen landscape with an icy culture and Osolis, a world burning with heat and full of fiery people. Now I know what you’re thinking, this sounds a little cheesy, Christopher. But honestly, it’s super fun.

Sometimes it takes death to show you how to live.
I know many things. What I am capable of, what I will change, what I will become. But there is one thing I will never know…
The veil I’ve worn from birth carries with it a terrible loneliness; a suppression I cannot imagine being free of.
Some things never change…
My mother will always hate me. Her court will always shun me.
...Until they do.
When the peace delegation arrives from the savage world of Glacium, my life is shoved wildly out of control by the handsome Prince Kedrick who, for unfathomable reasons, shows me kindness.
And the harshest lessons are learned.
Sometimes it takes the world bringing you to your knees to find that spark you thought forever lost.

There are more mature moments in this novel, regarding language, and physical intimacy. I would advise Middle Schoolers to wait a couple more years before reading! 😉

Title: The Tainted Accords
Number Of Books: 4
Author/Publisher: Kelly St Clare
Publication Date: 2015 – 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Purchase: Click Here

The Hunger Games Trilogy | Suzanne Collins

Don’t tell you haven’t heard the quote “KATNISS EVERDEEN, THE GIRL ON FIREEEEE” before?! The Hunger Games Trilogy was written by Suzanne Collins, who is from my home state of Connecticut. Though the series was popular before, the story rose to critical acclaim from the feature film series starring Jennifer Lawrence in 2012.

I recently re-read the books, having read them back in high school, and they are SO good! Suzanne Collins is an expert world-builder, creating the post-apocalyptic nation of PANEM. A world in which there are twelve (formerly thirteen) districts, with each district offering up a boy and a girl to fight in the annual HUNGER GAMES, a televised reality show of children fighting to the death.

WHAT? This premise is just wild and the books are just as insane, in the best way. There is so much empathy within the pages of this series and I highly recommend it. The highly anticipated prequel: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, comes out next month: May 19th!

Title: The Hunger Games Trilogy
Number Of Books: 3
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: 2008 – 2010
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Purchase: Click Here

Peter and the Starcatchers | Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson

You may have heard of Peter & The Starcatcher, a five time Tony-Award winning Broadway play. The novel, Peter and the Starcatchers (plural) is the source material!

Peter and the Starcatchers is a prequel to Peter Pan. And I know what you’re thinking: nowadays there is an overwhelming amount of prequels out there, what makes this one special?

  1. It’s really funny
  2. Barry & Pearson create a fascinating world and culture of Starcatchers (Don’t want to spoil anything else about that!)
  3. There are new elements to J.M. Barrie’s Neverland and the world of Peter Pan

My dad actually read this book aloud to my brothers and I when we were young, so I highly recommend this to elementary & middle school aged children. But I also think it’s a great adventure for all ages: Pirates, Mermaids, Magic, what’s not to love?!

Title: Peter and the Starcatchers Series
Number Of Books: 5
Author: Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
Publisher: Hyperion Books / Disney
Publication Date: 2004 – 2011
Genre: Fantasy, Children
Purchase: Click Here

I hope that these are some books that you might dive into, keeping you entertained and engaged during quarantine! Comment below with which book series I should read next. Currently, I am reading The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, which is really fun and a little cheesy ;).

I’m Writing A BOOK!

This past year I vowed to become a more dedicated reader, establishing a routine to pick up my kindle every night before bed. After reaching ‘my reading goal of 35 books’ I read 39 novels in 2018! Woohoo!

Whilst reading each book I would observe how they were successful and why. In books I loved, I realized:

  • There was never a dull moment: the plot progressed on every page.
  • I could personally connect to one, if not all of the characters on some level.
  • Each chapter left me wanting to turn the page and find out what happens next, thus reading later and later into the night.

Since I was little I have always wanted to be a writer. I have been fortunate to have several of my plays produced professionally, written a couple short stories, but in my adult life- I have never attempted to write a novel.

I had tried writing ‘books’ when I was growing up but always threw in the towel after trying endlessly to write the first chapter. “This is too hard. I don’t know what’s going to happen.” After writing several plays, I learned that planning out my story helps my writing immensely. I don’t have to think about what should happen next, I already know- I just have to focus on fleshing out the current moment.

After reading so many books this year, I have decided: I’m going to write my own novel. This is what I want to do next, be an author of my favorite genre of book: a young adult fantasy novel.

Since September I have been creating my own world: Midon, crafting characters like Morgan, Leon, Tabitha, and developing an epic story full of villains, magical quests, and fantastical powers. I have successfully outlined the first two books in the series and am currently working on the third (out of my expected four).

“The fantasy world of Midon is divided into four parts: Nexton, Corton, Susston, and Eracton. Each realm’s citizens possess supernatural abilities of sight: Nexus seers can touch an object and see that item’s past or future, Sussurus seers can communicate with spirits, Eractus can speak to one another silently in their thoughts, while Cortus seers can project their visions to people all over the continent. All four types of seers protect their own sacred relic that keeps the universe in balance.

On the millennium anniversary of the relics’ creation, Morgan discovers that she is part of an epic prophecy to protect the relics from falling into the hands of The Elice: a resurrected Darke cult. Join Morgan as she sharpens her sight, joins forces to protect the relics, and discovers more about her family history than she could’ve ever imagined.”

I know that writing a novel is going to be ten times harder than I already imagine it to be, and I know that I have not received a formal education in writing fiction, but this is something that I really want to do, and I’m going to do it! My goal for completing my first draft: approx 60,000 words, will be due on December 23rd, 2019.

Wish me luck!

2018: A Year In Review

This year could not have gone by faster. What the even heck! I swear that we just rang in the new year a month ago! I had so many wonderful moments in 2018, getting to continue stretching myself as an artist and a person.

I am so grateful for all of my friends and family for their continuous love and support. Below I have compiled my top 18 moments of 2018! 🙂

Top 18 Events in 2018

  1. Celebrated my 23rd birthday in rehearsal for Frog & Toad, Spring Awakening, and then going out to dinner with Travis & the amazing MMT Apprentice Company
  2. Raised $280 on my birthday for The Trevor Project
  3. Boyfriend Travis & I celebrated one year together in June.
  4. Traveled to Europe for the first time: family vacation in Portugal- see the video blog here
  5. Saw 22 movies #RequiemMoviePass (Mary Poppins Returns, Crimes of Grindlewald, First Man, Mister Rogers, Ant-Man, Jurassic World, Incredibles II, Solo, Isle of Dogs, Tully, Avengers, Quiet Place, Ready Player One, Jumanji, Wrinkle In Time, Love Simon, Lady Bird, Winchester, Black Panther, Call Me By Your Name, Insidious, and The Post)
  6. Read 39 novels- see the list here
  7. Saw 17 theatrical productions, the majority at Mill Mountain Theatre and two on Broadway (Waitress & Once on This Island)! AND HAMILTON!
  8. Taught 256 students in the spring & fall semester, and in summer camps.
  9. Travis & I traveled Emerald Isle, North Carolina to our friend Sammy’s beach house
  10. Performed on stage in Spring Awakening (Otto) and A Simple Gift (Sam Cameron) at Mill Mountain Theatre
  11. Traveled to Los Angeles to see Travis’s production of Spring Awakening
  12. I was Pikachu along with my boyfriend Travis (Ash) and friend Michelle (Jessie- Team Rocket) for Halloween
  13. I voted in the midterm elections
  14. I directed ‘Shakespeare’s The Tempest’, ‘Auditions’ (Write Stuff!), and ‘A Year With Frog and Toad TYA’.
  15. I wrote Mother Goose Tales, a short play for young audiences, that also had its premiere in May at Mill Mountain Theatre in May of this year.
  16. I wrote 18 articles for BroadwayWorld, my blog, and The Ensemblist
  17. I went back to Shenandoah to speak on an Alumni Panel
  18. I continued meditating every day currently, my streak is on day 595

Thank you if you were involved in my 2018– I am so appreciative of you making this year wonderful!

Book Review: The Line

On to the next book! I discovered recently that if you have an Amazon Prime account, there is a Prime Reading catalog, that has hundreds of Kindle books you can download and read for free. My last book: Treasure of Saint-Lazare: A Novel of Paris, was from that catalog and didn’t exactly do it for me. But J.D. Horn’s The Line was an awesome read- full of magic, witches, and fast-paced drama. When I finished this, I immediately bought the second book of the series (The Source) which I am currently reading.

“Savannah is considered a Southern treasure, a city of beauty with a rich, colorful past. Some might even call it magical…”

“To the uninitiated, Savannah shows only her bright face and genteel manner. Those who know her well, though, can see beyond her colonial trappings and small-city charm to a world where witchcraft is respected, Hoodoo is feared, and spirits linger. Mercy Taylor is all too familiar with the supernatural side of Savannah, being a member of the most powerful family of witches in the South.”

I was torn between starting two books, and thankfully The Line is what my boyfriend convinced me to read first. (He hasn’t read either book, but thought this one sounded cool…He was right!)

Many GoodReads reviews were in agreement that this book was entertaining but mediocre, and I can see both sides of the argument. At the beginning of the story, there are many metaphors that are repeatedly used; as if the author’s editor wasn’t focused for the first twenty pages. This book is no means Pulitzer Prize-winning, but the narrative and flow of the novel rapidly increases in quality and speed as the book goes on. There are so many layers of this plot that I continued gasping and was excited/appalled when things did not go as I expected them to.

The Line is told in first-person, my favorite perspective in literature, I feel much more immersed when the character communicates to the reader as if we were them like ‘I could feel my heartbeat quicken’ (not a line from the book, I made it up, trust me his words are far more compelling.) 

Recently I have been reading a lot of realistic fiction, and I missed the fantasy genre. Fantasy fiction is what made me fall in love with reading when I was a child, and I believe that’s why I like this book so much; it’s revisiting my favorite kind of story. The Line discusses magic in the realm of energy: witches are able to use their energy and shape it into magic, where other characters (non-witches) can perform magic- but only if they take energy from others, often stealing it from witches. 

I greatly recommend this book! Super quick read- couldn’t put it down! Buy it now on Amazon.com

DETAILS

Title: The Line (Witching Savannah Book 1)
Author: J.D. Horn
Series(?): Witching Savannah Series

Publisher: 47North
Publication Date: February 1, 2014

Source & Format: Kindle, borrowed from Amazon
Page Count: 298
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★★

Comment below if you’ve read The Line, let me know what you thought! 🙂

Book Review: Treasure of Saint-Lazare: A Novel of Paris

Most recently I finished reading Treasure of Saint-Lazare: A Novel of Paris. I borrowed this book for free on my Kindle as part of the Prime Reading membership on Amazon, and it was exactly the kind of book I needed after reading Little Women. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved Little Women, but this kind of gripping and fast moving story was perfect after such a lovely tale of four sisters, where not much happened other than some tragic deaths in the family and lovely romances…

The story of Treasure of Saint-Lazare follows protagonist Eddie Grant when his former lover (Jen) shows up in Paris with a letter addressed to his deceased father. Jen & Eddie’s fathers were special operatives in World War II and were in charge of tracking down and retrieving all the famous art the Nazi party stole. Combining MYSTERY and ART HISTORY, this book was bound to be my cup-of-tea. There were many fun and exciting surprises throughout the book, where I’d audibly gasp while reading.

Jen’s appearance in Paris is the catalyst for Eddie and his friends to embark on a dangerous adventure through the romantic city and even Sarasota to discover the most valuable Nazi loot that still has not been found; a famous ‘Raphael self-portrait’ with crates of gold- worth billions today. Those treasures are intended to finance the Fourth Reich.

Plot locations were straddled between Sarasota, Florida and Paris, France. When reading the author’s bio I learned that he indeed was from both spots as well. It was really interesting reading his descriptions of all things Parisian, how elegant and smooth the culture was compared to America. It was quite apparent that he definitely thought higher of France than he did of the States.

Action. Adventure. A manhunt with twists, turns, and surprises that make your heart race…”

One thing that I did not care for in the author’s narrative was how many American’s depicted in the story were overweight or obese. Granted I get it- ‘the greatest country in the world also has the greatest problem with obesity’. But it would just rub me the wrong way how the author was almost fat-shaming several of the characters. Yes, all individuals within a novel should be all shapes and sizes, it was just rude to paint the overweight people in such a negative light. 

Other than the occasional fat-shame and fleeting cliché crime-novel dialogue, I really did enjoy Treasure of Saint-Lazare. It inspired me to keep reading and discover what was going to happen- if this painting even still existed…

If I purchased this in the bookstore I would’ve been a bit disappointed, due to some thoughts stated above, but I actually enjoyed it as it had been a free novel through the Kindle Prime-Reading membership. If you want fast paced adventure then I think this is definitely a library borrow. It was a quick and interesting read.

Details

Title: Treasure of Saint-Lazare: A Novel of Paris (The Eddie Grant Series Book 1)
Author: John Pearce
Series(?): The Eddie Grant Series

Publisher: Alesia Press LLC
Publication Date: January 13, 2017

Source & Format: Kindle, borrowed from Amazon
Page Count: 252
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★