2017 End of the Year Book Survey

Hi friends, and happy Saturday!

How are you? Can you believe it’s the last weekend of 2017? I love the calls for reflection and organization that come with the start of a new year, and from conversations with friends, I know I’m not the only one. That in mind, I’m hoping to use today and tomorrow to tend to my planner, look ahead to a few 2018 projects, and, of course, read my final book of the year (!!).

Speaking of books, I’m really excited to participate in Jamie’s annual end-of-the-year reading survey. I completed it a few years back, and I enjoyed the opportunity to look over and assess the books I had read. 2017 personally proved an excellent year for reading, and I know I can name numerous titles that I will surely recommend for years to come. There are a number of novels coming your way, so I have only three final notes: I tried my utmost best to name books only once (variety!), I kept to the bookish questions only, and HERE‘s the link if you want to join in on the fun too.

Number of books you read: 52 (but we’ll see if I can fit in one or two before Sunday night!)
Number of re-reads: Just one! I love to revisit Caroline Kennedy’s A Family Christmas every holiday season.
Genre you read the most from: YA contemporary, per usual.

1 Favorite Books1. Best book you read in 2017?
Everything All at Once by Katrina Leno, We Are Okay by Nina LaCour, and How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore | Is it okay if I cheat a bit at this question? Though I read fewer books in 2017 than I would have liked, narrowing down my favorites still proved difficult. I settled on the three above, all of which entered my life at exactly the right time (and I will gladly gush about them to anyone who asks). Literature at its finest.

Runner-ups, because three just wasn’t enough: Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert and The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

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The Hamilton Book Tag

Hello!

I make it no secret that I love musical theater. I’m not one to act – I feel much more at home behind the curtain than in the spotlight – but that’s not to stop me from seeing various productions, reading up on my favorite shows, and listening to soundtracks again and again. Ever since my sister and I first downloaded the Hamilton album in the fall, we’ve fallen in love with the hit musical – it wouldn’t be a night of late studying without it playing in the background. You can only imagine my excitement, then, when I came across The Hamilton Book Tag on the Cuddlebuggery blog; I went straight to writing my own edition, because who wouldn’t want to pair Hamilton songs with some good books?

A few notes before we get to the fun: These songs are listed in chronological order for your listening and organization needs. All the credit for the tag goes to Maureen {thank you!}. I did my best to explain the story behind each song, because this tag isn’t any fun if you have no idea what’s happening. Finally, if you haven’t already listened to the Hamilton soundtrack, let me urge you to do so HERE! :) Are you a Hamilton fan? What are you currently reading?

All Four StarsOne of the first songs in Hamilton is “My Shot,” in which Hamilton moves to New York and joins in the fight for American independence. It’s fitting, then, that the song would be used to feature a go-getter, a character who goes after what they want regardless of the obstacles in their way. It was a description that instantly brought to mind Gladys Gatsby, the pint-sized food critic in Tara Dairman’s All Four Stars; despite the difficulties that arise {and there are plenty}, Gladys takes the opportunity to do what she loves. {reviews: 1 / 2}

Rebel Belle“The Schuyler Sisters,” the song where the production’s three leading ladies are first introduced, happens to be one of my favorite tracks, not in the least because it’s led by the talented Renée Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo, and Jasmine Cephas Jones. I was happy to match their number with one of my favorite books: Rachel Hawkin’s Rebel Belle. Like the Schuyler sisters, protagonist Harper Price proves to be an intelligent, strong, and admirable main character, and I only wish more people would give her story a try. {review}

NimonaJonathan Groff {perhaps you know him from Glee or Frozen?} was the first to play King George on Broadway, and he absolutely nails the role, as any listener or viewer can gather from his first solo, “You’ll Be Back.” The song serves as a reminder to the colonists of his power and authority, though be warned: it’s sung with a healthy heaping of funny lines. Who in literature reminds me of his character? None other than Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, the nemesis to Lord Ballister Blackheart in Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona.

Goodbye Stranger“Satisfied” is, hands down, my favorite piece in Hamilton – my sister and I are known to play it more than a few times in one afternoon – and it would be a delight to see it sung live. In the actual production, the number is staged so that the audience’s perspective is twisted; you return to a previous song {“Helpless”} and see it again from Angelica’s point-of-view. I can only imagine the panic attack it causes in a stage manager, but I can pair the track with Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger, a masterful middle grade fiction told in multiple voices.

The Mysterious Benedict SocietyKing George returns with yet another hilarious solo; in “What Comes Next?,” he asks the American people what they plan to do following the Battle of Yorktown and the end of the war. As a history nut, I love to put the context behind the song, but as a bookworm, I can only wish for, as the prompt asks, more installments of The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart. Another book would be awesome, indeed. {review}

Burn for BurnThe finale of Act I, “Non-Stop” is used to describe Hamilton’s accomplishments to Aaron Burr; he is, in a sense, “non-stop” as he writes much of the Federalist Papers, attends the Constitutional Convention, and becomes a successful lawyer. Now, I’ll use the phrase to describe how I read Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian’s incredible Burn for Burn trilogy, which is to say: without break. How can you stop at only one book when the cliffhanger practically begs you to check out the next one? {review}

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneThe opening number of the second act, “What’d I Miss” marks Thomas Jefferson’s return to the United States {for those who slept in US History, he was serving as the American minister to France beforehand}. A catchy number, it highlights many of Jefferson’s contradictions in policy, demonstrating not only the talent of the actor playing Jefferson, Daveed Diggs, but also that of the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda. History and creative references aside, the song is a perfect match to my reading of Harry Potter – having just started this past summer, I’m only a decade or so late. {review}

Monument 14Things get even more interesting when Hamilton sings “Say No to This,” the first of many songs devoted to his affair with Maria Reynolds {interestingly enough, played by the same actress who fills the role of Peggy Schuyler}. As explained here, it’s the “first major sex scandal in the United States’ political history,” so it’s only appropriate that we’d chat our guilty pleasure reads, such as my own: Emmy Laybourne’s Monument 14 novels. They are not particularly well-written, nor are they all that taxing, but are they entertaining? You bet. {reviews: 1 / 2 / 3}

Absolutely TrulyImmediately after “Say No to This” comes “The Room Where It Happens,” the number in which Burr explains and shares his take on the famed Dinner Table Compromise {another history lesson: this was a meal between Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison over the matter of the nation’s capital}. Others have expressed their wishes to be put in a high-fantasy world, but I’m a small-town, Stars-Hollow-inspired girl through and through. A day in Pumpkin Falls, the charming setting of Heather Vogel Frederick’s Absolutely Truly, sounds lovely. {review}

The MarvelsBrian Selznick be praised. Few authors can combine two mediums – the visual and the written – as eloquently as he, and his makeshift trilogy, beginning with the award-winning The Invention of Hugo Cabaret, proved him more than worthy on anyone’s auto-buy list. Like the song “The Reynolds Pamphlet,” which presents a situation the audience likely didn’t expect, Selznick combines two seemingly unrelated stories in a unique manner in his latest novel, The Marvels. It’s good.

Little WomenAt risk of spoiling anything, the reprise of Stay Alive is one of the saddest moments in the show, tying Hamilton and his wife, Eliza, over the death of a loved one. There too is a death that never fails to make me cry in the classic Little Women; I’ll have you guess which character that is {hint: I can’t watch Claire Danes without thinking about this scene}.

The Fault in Our StarsFinally, the last number in Hamilton is the touching song, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story,” sung by the cast and company as they craft Hamilton’s legacy. If you listen to the soundtrack all the way through, your emotions will be running high, and the finale does nothing to help that – it’s quite the powerful track. Similarly, though John Green’s writing wasn’t my cup of tea, I can’t discount the impact he had on YA literature and its readers with his bestseller, The Fault in Our Stars. {review}

Have a terrific Thursday! :)

Psst. Are you too a theater fan? {Let’s be friends}. Read my interview with stage manager Jean Compton, browse the Musical Moodboards archives, and look into Emily Adrain’s acting-centered debut, Like It Never Happened.

My Favorite Pinterest Accounts

Hello!

Study after study has shown that in today’s society, there are more ways to connect with one another than ever before, due, in large part, to social media. I can reach out to my distant relatives on Facebook, compliment a blogger’s site on Twitter, and post a snapshot from my afternoon to my friends on Instagram – and that’s in just one day! I’ve grown up with these accounts, and I still have to wrap my head around that sheer fact.

I’m among the many who have a love-hate relationship with it all. However, for whatever cons that come with social media, there are a number of positive benefits to these accounts as well. Though it has waned in popularity since its initial introduction, particularly with the addition of recommended pins, I still find Pinterest a valuable artistic resource – and, with that, I consider it my favorite form of social media. Some people utilize it like a memory board, saving useful pins for future reference, but I like to approach it as a creative challenge: how do I develop an aesthetic that fits my creative vision? And, hey, if you’re looking for a simple way to pass the time, you could do worse than refreshing your Pinterest feed.

If you’re in need of new accounts to follow, I’ve got you covered: below you’ll find five bloggers and/or creatives that I enjoy pinning from. Who or what do you look to for visual inspiration?

Abby IngwersenAbby Ingwersen @laceandlilacs | If you want a feed to satisfy your wanderlust, I think you could do no better than to follow Abby Ingwersen. A blogger and an avid Francophile, Abby frequently pins stunning photographs from around the world, some of which are her very own! Furthermore, I’ve found inspiration in her pins – in the form of recipes, quotes, or fashion – countless times. It’s no wonder she’s garnered so many earnest followers across her online presence – she has a cool-girl vibe that’s hard to beat.

Alex RyAlex Ry @alexandriary | I have a soft spot for good typography, and from the looks of her pins, it appears that Alex Ry, a photographer, designer, and creator according to her bio, does as well! I’ve come to expect stunning examples of hand-lettering and graphic design from her feed {it’s no wonder I’ve found many of my favorite artists through her pins}, and she’s careful to keep them consistent with her minimalistic sense of style. Alex is a gem on Instagram too; clearly, you can’t go wrong by following her.

Bri EmeryBri Emery @designlovefest | Just like her ever popular blog, Design Love Fest, Bri’s Pinterest feed could very well be “where type and images totally make out.” I adore the quirky and colorful pins she finds, whether it’s outstanding hand-written type, boundary-pushing photos, or something as silly as a poodle sitting at a dining table. Bri has curated a feed that’s unique to her, if fun to follow, and I think that’s using Pinterest right.

Dorothy WDorothy W. @dorothyw | Dorothy is another blogger with a popular Pinterest feed, and for good reason: she applies her love of all things stylish, bright, and witty to her posts and pins. A college student majoring in childhood education, Dorothy shares an abundance of florals, a number of good quotes, and plenty of preppy outfits on Pinterest; on her blog, Prep in Your Step, she shares productivity tips, organizational supplies, and lists galore. In other words? If I need a quick reason to smile, I know where to look.

Elise JosephElise Joseph @pennyweight | Finally, Elise Joseph works as an art director and a brand developer, careers that have clearly developed her eye for aesthetics. Elise’s feed has remained one of my favorites since I joined Pinterest, for I can count on her elegant taste and sense of color for a lovely batch of pins. If you, like me, have any interest in interior design, high fashion, or cool art pieces, I’ll send you to her account now {and then, perhaps, you’ll want to check out her blog}.

Have a delightful Monday!
B