Tea & Book Chat: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson (Shades of London #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read The Name of the Star which is the first book in Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson is the second book in The Shades of London series and it picks up shortly afterThe Name of the Star ends, with our heroine, Rory Devereaux, recovering from the events of the Jack the Ripper-like serial killer from the first installment.  She’s living with her parents, having not been able to return to school, and all of her communication with her ghost police friends has been cut off.  Unfortunuately, I think The Madness Underneath suffered from second book slump syndrome but there were still some redeeming elements, especially toward the latter half of the book.

Rory is left with a huge scar and many trust issues while she’s cooped up in her parents apartment.  She can never talk openly with anyone about what actually transpired in the bathroom at Wexford and the few friends / colleagues she can trust, she’s had no contact with and no idea of how to get in touch with them should she want to.  Early on, Rory makes the very brave decision of returning to school and instead of wallowing in self pity, she finds herself empowered by her past.  She sets out to find a purpose for herself and she willingly puts herself in new and similarly dangerous situations.  She opens herself up to a new therapist who seems too good to be true and she reconnects with some familiar faces. The Madness Underneath is a discovery period for Rory.  She’s transitioning into her new life and coming to terms with who and what she is now.

The Madness Underneath

A big reason why I did not enjoy this installment as much as the first is because there was a lot less action and a lot more internal monologue.  This also means there is a lot less of the story dedicated to the supporting characters.  I wanted to know more about Boo, Jazza and Alistair.  I never warmed up to Rory’s boyfriend Jerome and I very much disliked the ending in regard to Stephen.  It was unexpected to see the relationship form between Rory and Stephen and while I suppose it makes sense on some level, I had a hard time believing them together.  It seems more like a choice based on limited options.  My friend Cassie lent me the ARC of The Madness Underneath so I could read the original ending which was changed prior to being published and I liked it a lot more than the ending the publisher chose to use.

Final Thoughts:  The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson is a disappointing follow up to The Name of the Star.  It suffers from second book slump syndrome and while it’s not completely unejoyable, it just did not live up to the excitement of the first book.  I will be continuing on with the story because there are some redeeming qualities and I feel invested enough in the characters that I want to see it through but I am not as eager to pick up the third installment as I had anticipated.

Rating 3

After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Deveaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance to get back to her friends. But Rory’s brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she’s become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades–the city’s secret ghost-fighting police–are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it’s too late.

In this follow-up to the Edgar Award-nominated THE NAME OF THE STAR, Maureen Johnson adds another layer of spectacularly gruesome details to the streets of London that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake (Anna Dressed in Blood #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read Anna Dressed in Blood which is the first book in the duology by Kendare Blake, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

After devouring Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, which is the first book in the duology, I was eager to start Girl of Nightmares because I had to know what was going to happen to Cas, Thomas, Carmel and Anna.  I’m really pleased that Kendare Blake chose to tell this story as a duology instead of stretching it out into a trilogy.  While I enjoyed Anna Dressed in Blood more than Girl of Nightmares, I felt very satisfied with the conclusion.  I would love if one particular thing could be addressed in a short story at some point, but overall there is definitive closure.

While the first book focused largely on Anna, the second book dealt more with Cas’s emotions following the aftermath of book one.  The pair were the perfect compliment to one another and I loved learning more about the history behind Cas’s world although I truly wished for more of Anna’s perspective because of what a strong willed and non-damsel-in-distress character she is.  Anna is a scarier read overall, but Girl of Nightmares certainly has its moments (ie. the Suicide Forest).  There seemed to be so much at stake in the second book and having already grown attached to everyone every tension-filled situation weighed heavily on my heart.  Almost every decision made in Girl of Nightmares had the potential to be life altering, and absolutely was in some cases.

Girl of Nightmares

In the first book, Anna was my clear favorite character but in the second, Thomas earned that place.  I was so invested in his relationship with Carmel and his unwavering loyalty toward Cas even when others were dismissing him.  Plus, Thomas is the perfect comic relief.  For a series that’s so beautifully creepy and terrifying, Thomas still managed to make me laugh out loud at points.  My favorite Thomas scene involved his reaction to something he ate during Cas and his quest for information.  Cas, Carmel and Thomas each bring something vital to the table and together their trio is a force to be reckoned with.  We’re also introduced to a new character whom I would love to read about in a spinoff series.  She’s an intelligent teenager who enjoys a good challenge.  She’s the kind of character who can disagree with someone fundamentally but still manage to get along with them on other levels.

Final Thoughts:  Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake provides a very satisfying conclusion for fans of Anna Dressed in Blood.  Blake continues the story with her signature imagery which flawlessly blends the beautiful with the horrific.  The stakes are high in this installment and the tension runs deep for all the characters involved.    If you’re a fan of horror and flowery language you should definitely give this duology a read!

Rating 5

It’s been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can’t move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they’re right, but in Cas’s eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he’s seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he’s asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong…these aren’t just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn’t know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn’t deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it’s time for him to return the favor. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: The One by Kiera Cass (The Selection #3)

**Warning! If you haven’t read The Selection and The Elite which are the first two books in The Selection trilogy by Kiera Cass, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book, The Selection and the second book, The Elite instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

The One by Kiera Cass is the third and (sort of) final book in The Selection series.  I say sort of because a companion series has begun being released but the overall story arc four our main character America concludes in this installment.  After experiencing a bit of second book slump with The Elite, I was worried that The One would end up annoying me but I still felt compelled to finish because I just couldn’t go on not knowing whether America ends up with Maxon or Aspen.  I was pleasantly surprised while I devoured this book in just the tow days it took me to read it.  The One has ended up becoming my favorite of the three books for a number of reasons.

First of all, the stakes kept getting higer as the end drew nearer.  I mentioned in my last review that the politics in The Selection world were part of what kept me hooked as the series progressed and The One focused largely on the wider world outside the palace than on the love triangle America found herself involved in.  Threats from the Rebels, both North and South, continue to worsen and it becomes too dangeous to even step outside.  Everything surrounding the revolution is action packed and intense which causes emotions to run rampid.  I even found myself tearing up duing the last two chapters which was completely unexpected and quite frankly, makes me feel like a bit of a dork.

The One

America managed to be less annoying than she was in previous books (this is largely due to the focus she devotes to the politics of her world as opposed to her two suitors).  I even found myself warming up to her and her thought process which I had previously written off.  I felt proud of her for the way she handled scenes with her family and I started feeling confident in her ability to rule as Queen.  I also loved how the relationship between the final four girls shifted during the latter half of the competition.  People can surprise you and that is exactly what happened.  Maxon is wonderful as always and I appreciate the subtle ways he begins to defy his father.  I had high hopes for the ending of this series and Kiera Cass’s ending more than delivered.  I think I might have lost it if anything had gone differently.

Final Thoughts: The One by Kiera Cass is the best book in The Selection series beyond a shadow of a doubt.  The characters make a much stronger impression and their growth throughout the series culminates into some of the most heart wrenching, exciting and intense scenes I’ve had the pleasure of reading.  The One is more than anything I could have wished for as the conclusion to this story.  It continues to read as a fast-paced regal reality show with serious political undertones and it’s possibly the most addictive series I’ve read to date.

Rating 5

The time has come for one winner to be crowned.

When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.  (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read The Knife of Never Letting Go which is the first book in The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness is the second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy and it is a doozy.  The story picks up right where it left off in The Knife of Never Letting Go with Todd and Viola arriving in Haven.  The characters undergo some serious development in this installment and Patrick Ness blurs the lines between villains and heroes.  Seriously, this book will make you question everything and there will be so many feelings.  It’s taken me a while to even get into the mental headspace to write this review because of all of the mind games Ness has played with everyone in this book so I hope I can articulate everything as best as possible!

One of the aspects I enjoyed the most by far in this book is the dual narratives between Todd and Viola.  In The Knife of Never Letting Go, Viola is a supporting character and we do not get to experience her inner thoughts and motivations firsthand.  All of this changed in the second book and the result added so much more to the story.  When Todd and Viola arrive in Haven, the Mayor is already in control and he has named himself President.  He separates the males from the females so our two main characters have unique experiences on their own which provides a major contribution to the shaping of their characters.  It also leaves the characters with nothing but their faith in each other while they’r ebeing manipulated by major players in the civil war they’ve found themselves involved in.  Throughout the entire story I found myself really missing Manchee.  Angharrad was pretty okay but that horse did not fill the void.

The ask and the answer

I am still amazed at how many issues Patrick Ness was able to cover in what for me was such a quick read.  The Ask and the Answer touches upon war, terrorism, genocide, racism and feminism.  The most intriguing topic which is what hooks the reader is the ongoing war because it leaves you with so many conflicting feelings and so many questions.  Whenever there is a war it involves at least two sides who each believe that what they’re fighting for and the casualties they sustain during their pursuit is in the name of what’s right.  But how can characters determine what’s right when both sides have done wrong?  In this case, we have Todd working for the Mayor turned self-declared President and Viola aligning herself with the resistance, all the while attempting to maintain their loyalty to each other.  There are so many life altering events that occur in this second installment that I’m eager to pick up the last book.

Final Thoughts: The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness is a very emotionally heavy read.  While the story is fast paced and the characters are compelling, the mind games that come along with war can be tiring, but I assure you it’s worth it.  This second installment is high intensity and it tackles many important issues.  Each of the main characters shine as they relay their experience on the opposing sides of the war.  Lines will be blurred and feelings will be felt!

Rating 6

We were in the square, in the square where I’d run, holding her, carrying her, telling her to stay alive, stay alive till we got safe, till we got to Haven so I could save her – But there weren’t no safety, no safety at all, there was just him and his men…

Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss. Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor’s new order. But what secrets are hiding just outside of town? And where is Viola? Is she even still alive? And who are the mysterious Answer? And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode…

“The Ask and the Answer” is a tense, shocking and deeply moving novel of resistance under the most extreme pressure. This is the second title in the “Chaos Walking” trilogy. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Winter by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #4)

**Warning! If you haven’t read Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Fairest which are the first through fourth books in The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book Cinder, and the fourth book Fairest, instead if you’re not caught up on the series yet!**

I can’t believe that the end to The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer is already upon us.  It’s been so long sinceCinder debuted and each year we’ve been introduced to new characters in a new installment, all of whom contributed to the major overarching storyline.  I vividly remember being drawn to the gorgeous design of Cinder‘s cover and I devoured the entire story in one sitting because I was so enthralled.  While there was some predictability within the series, I still found myself loving almost every minute of their action packed adventure (with the only lack of interest surrounding Scarlet and Fairest).  Winter is absolutely the greatest series send off I could’ve ever wished for.  I’ll be gathering some of my thoughts in this review but if you’re looking for a very in depth account which includes spoilers, you should check out the video Cassie, Melissa and I recently posted where we discussed Winter for our Spines With Wines book club.

Meyer struck the perfect balance of characterization and world building in her development of The Lunar Chronicles.  I was fascinated to learn about Luna’s landscape and political system, as well as the republic currently operating on Earth.  The descriptions of some of the places in the palace, particularly Levana’s Throne Room are so easy to envision and the need for rebellion is evident.  While all of the aforementioned elements intrigued me, I do believe it’s the characters who kept my heart in the story.  I struggled with reading Scarlet, not finding myself as interested in her story but I continued reading because I had to know what would happen to Cinder and Prince Kai.  When I got to the third installment, Cress, I couldn’t have been more pleased that I decided to continue.  Cress and Thorne easily became my favorite characters and their romance is so endearing.  There are four definitive ships, each with a very different type of love and each of which I grew to deeply care about.  And not a single one is a love triangle.

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The newest character who we caught a brief glimpse of in Cress and Fairest is Princess Winter.  I initially liked her and as the story progressed I grew to love her.  She’s the perfect fractured fairytale counterpart to Snow White.  Winter is so kind that she would rather give up the use of her Lunar gift to her own detriment than make a potentially bad decision for someone else.  She’s fair and just and while many view her as slightly nutty, Winter’s mind is much more sound than she’s given credit for.  I loved the scenes between Scarlet and she and their way of getting along is heartwarming.  As for the rest of the crew, Thorne is hilarious as ever, Cinder is forced to make tough choices after she becomes the face of the rebellion under her true identity as Princess Selene, Kai and Cress show bravery beyond measure, Iko provides the perfect amount of comic relief, and Levana is just as evil as ever.

Final Thoughts: Winter by Marissa Meyer is the perfect conclusion to The Lunar Chronicles series.  If you’re a fan of fractured fairytales, you should not hesitate to start the series.  I would suggest reading the books in publication order (despite Fairest being a prequel) and I would encourage anyone to give Princess Selene and her squad an opportunity to work their way into your heart.  Every thing is wrapped up nicely and the conclusion is satisfying.  The Lunar Chronicles is indeed a fairytale from start to finish.

Rating 5

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss #3)

**Warning! If you haven’t read Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door which are the first and second book in the Anna and the French Kiss companion trilogy by Stephanie Perkins, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book, and the second book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins is the third and final book in the Anna and the French Kiss companion series.  I was hesitant going into the book because of the mixed reviews I had read but I feel awful for ever having doubted Stephanie Perkins because I really loved everything about Isla and Josh!  In fact, my final ranking of the series in order of favorite to least favorite is 1. Anna, 2. Isla and 3. Lola.  I’m honestly devastated that this series is over and I’m really hoping Stephanie Perkins will revist the world she created whether it be as short stories or further books following other secondary characters (particularly Meredith).

I went into Isla and the Happily Ever After expecting a formulaic third couple with the romance following the suit of Anna and Lola but this was the first of the pleasant surprises I encountered while reading.  Isla and Josh become a couple very quickly.  Instead of spending the majority of the book chasing each other, they’re clear on their feelings from the beginning and the reader is able to enjoy many more of the awww moments between them.  I really enjoyed spending less pages on the build up and more on the actual relationship.  Of course there are doubts and angst as with any high school romance, but I thought each character’s concerns were valid.  I also really loved that while the book is about the love between Isla and Josh, it’s also largely a story about each of the characters figuring out what they want in life.  Josh is certain of his future and Isla is anything but.  Also notable are the secondary characters, particularly Isla’s best friend Kurt.  Kurt is mildly autistic and since he hasn’t perfected social cues, he’s Isla’s complete voice of reason and truth, even when it’s not what she wants to hear.

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The second surprise I encountered is that I had expected the majority of the book to take place in New York City because of the cover which depicts the NYC skyline and the fact that Anna focused on Pairs and Lola on San Francisco (with their covers each depicting the correlating skyline).  However, Isla and Josh largely took place in Paris as well.  And at the same high school Anna and Etienne attended.  You may remember their artistic friend Josh would dated Rashmi?  Well, that’s the same Josh who woos Isla.  Isla is briefly mentioned in Anna as well but I honestly never would’ve put those pieces together if it hadn’t been spelled out for me.  Part of my love for this book is because of all of the interconnectivity between past characters. While there is less physical involvement of past characters (until one part which just melted my heart and made me sob in public), their spiritual presence is of the upmost significance.

Final Thoughts: I am so sad this series is over and I absolutely forsee myself re-reading all three companion novels by Stephanie Perkins.  Isla and the Happily Ever After is exactly that.  I adored the romance between Isla and Josh and I was immediately drawn to each of their characters as individuals.  It’s exciting to revisit the school in Paris that started it all and experience the interconnectedness between each tale.  Overall, I loved Isla and the Happily Ever After and I would urge anyone who has heard negative reviews to ignore those!

Rating 5

Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: The Elite by Kiera Cass (The Selection #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read The Selection which is the first book in The Selection trilogy by Kiera Cass, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

The Elite by Kiera Cass is the second book in The Selection trilogy by Kiera Cass.  It picks up right where the first book left off, with America still in the running to win the love of Prince Maxon and become the next Queen along with five other girls.  I felt so conflicted upon finishing this books because I know that it’s not “good,” and yet I couldn’t put it down.  Just like the first novel, I was hooked from the beginning and Kiera Cass managed to get me invested in the characters even though they make me want to scream at points.

Sadly, I did not enjoy this book as much as the first.  I liked it and I was able to read it quickly but I found that the majority of elements that bugged me about the first book tended to be amplified in book two.  The main annoyance being America’s indecisiveness.  She constantly flip flops between Aspen and Maxon and she tends to think she truly loves whoever happens to be in front of her at the moment.  I’m not the biggest fan of love triangles as it is and America’s back and forth is mostly getting on my nerves.  I’m not convinced she should be with either guy at this point. But that being said, JUST PICK THE PRINCE AMERICA JEEZE.

The Elite

I did however love that this book delved more deeply into the political situation the country is in. I think the politics surrounding the republic and the attacks by rebels from the North and the South are what tended to hold my interest the most throughout the story.  It’s clear that whatever the outcome of the series, the characters are living in a world where change is necessary.  I really hope that in the next book the characters will recognize the bigger events happening and put their own minor issues aside to help the overall kingdom.

Final Thoughts: The Elite by Kiera Cass, book two in The Selection series, is just as fast paced and addicting as the first.  The insufferable love triangle between America, Maxon and Aspen continues and America’s constant back and forth is an annoyance throughout the entire story.  If you liked the first book and you’re looking for a mostly mindless read, I would suggest continuing on with the series.

Rating 4

The Selection began with thirty-five girls.

Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon’s heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America’s chance to choose is about to slip away. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

BookTube: October and November Wrap Up

I didn’t get a chance to post my October Wrap Up on my blog so I figured this would be the perfect place to insert it if you had missed it on YouTube.  Unfortunately I barely read any books in November (hangs head in shame) but I’m PUMPED for December reading because I WILL make my Goodreads goal.  If you have any suggestions of books to read that are very quick paced please let me know!

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Kristin

BookTube: Spines With Wines Book Club: Winter By Marissa Meyer

Last night, Cassie, Melissa and I reconvened for our second monthly Spines with Wines book club! This month we read Winter by Marissa Meyer which is the conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles series.  We had feelings.  You can watch the full book club below and share your feelings on this series ender!

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Kristin

Tea & Broadway Chat: Hamilton

Last week I had the pleasure of seeing Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Hamilton on Broadway and I’ve been singing and humming the music ever since.  I feel a little late to the hype train since the show opened Off-Broadway back in February of 2015 (it re-opened ON Broadway this past August) but I wanted to add my voice nonetheless in case there is some strange reason why you haven’t heard about the historical rap musical turned phenomenon that’s sweeping the nation.  The show chronicles Alexander Hamilton’s life, focusing on his time in New York and his contribution to the formation of our nation, and it’s inspired by the biography written by historian Ron Chernow which has now been added to my TBR list.  The show is really something special and while your brain’s intrigue quadrant may switch off when you hear it described as a historical rap musical (like mine had initially), I would urge you to give Hamilton a shot anyway because the show really strikes a chord.  I can’t wait to see Hamilton win every last Tony award it qualifies for come 2016.

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There really isn’t one specific element that can take all of the credit for making Hamilton everything that it is but rather it’s the harmonious combination of everything that works in its favor.  One of the most notable aspects of the show is the diverse cast.  Instead of casting the Founding Fathers as middle aged white men, Lin cast hispanic and black men in their roles and he gave a much stronger voice to the women of the time as well.  In fact, the only middle aged white man in the show is King George who’s musical contributions sound akin to The Beatles which provides a nice contrast between the old ideas of government and the progressive new views in America.  King George is a very silly character and his mannerisms lend comic relief in an otherwise stressful, tense and sad story.  The main characters in Act I are Hamilton, Burr, LaFayette, Mulligan, Laurens, Washington and the Schuyler sisters Angelica and Eliza (who becomes Hamilton’s wife).  Act II trades LaFayette and Mulligan for Jefferson and Madison, who are played by the same actors respectively.

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The first act of the show is full of hope and excitement while the Revolutionaries are plotting to win the war against England and perpetuate momentum for the United States citizens who think they’re fighting a losing battle.  My favorite song from this act is “My Shot” sung by Hamilton, Burr, Laurens, Lafayette and Mulligan.  It’s about seizing any opportunity that arises and not giving up your shot to change things no matter what the cost may be.  Another favorite line which perfectly captures the sentiment of Act I is “look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.”  It first is heard in The Schuyler Sisters song and is repeated several times throughout the show.  It’s so perfect! I can’t think of anything more exciting than living in Manhattan and laying the groundwork for a new free nation.

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Once Act I comes to an end and the American’s have won the war, things seem to be in a really good place.  Then comes Act II which basically rips your heart out.  Alexander spends the majority of this act writing like he’s running out of time to create the Federal Reserve system, opposing Thomas Jefferson and everything he stands for, being unfaithful to his wife and then self sabotaging himself by writing the Reynolds Pamphlet in an effort to uphold his legacy despite it ruining his chances of ever being President, and getting into further disputes with Aaron Burr culminating in the fatal duel between the pair which ultimately causes Burr to be remembered for killing Hamilton.  My three favorite songs from Act II are “The Room Where it Happens,” a catchy number performed primarily by Burr about wanting to be involved in the most pivotal moments in history, “Hurricane,” performed by Alexander Hamilton which leads to the Reynolds Pamphlet and most of all, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story,” performed by the remaining members of the show but focuses on Eliza.  Once Hamilton has been killed, it’s up to her to tell his story and despite writing herself out of the narrative for a while after Hamilton admitted to being unfaithful, Eliza lives for an additional 50 years.  She spends that time interviewing every soldier who Hamilton worked with, reading and sifting through years of his writings, speaking out against slavery and establishing the first private orphanage in New York City.

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The stage setup for Hamilton seems rather simple at first glance.  It’s very wooden and there are minimal props throughout the show but there is a spinning turntable in the center of the stage which enhances many of the numbers.  One of the best uses of the turntable is during the duel scenes.  The characters explain the stages of a duel and they rotate around the stage in a clockwise motion until they get to the final stage.  The turntable also looks beautiful during the aforementioned “Hurricane” in which the stage is lit to look like the eye of a storm.  I also love the costumes the characters wear during the show.  The girls looks lovely in their ballgown style dresses and the men don uniforms during Act I while in Act II they switch into to ensembles more similar to what we would recognize from old history books and paintings.  I really enjoy Hamilton’s rich green satin coat and ruffle front blouse.  It’s so entertaining to witness the juxtaposition of such modern music to old fashioned clothing on the late 1700-1800’s.

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I would honestly love to see an entire play about Eliza and Angelica and their roles in the revolution so I’m thankful that Lin gave them such a strong voice in Hamilton.  It’s a great reminder that there are a ton of people who were involved that don’t always get the credit they deserve in U.S. history textbooks.  I struggled a lot with history throughout school, always finding it boring, and I wish there would have been more resources like Hamilton to have turned to because my interest level would’ve sparked.  Obviously, the founding of our nation is important and interesting but it wasn’t until Lin filled in the blanks with his take on their personal narratives that I truly felt invested in and more connected to that time.  I tweeted it the other day and it absolutely stands true, if I could somehow get in contact with high school me and tell her how obsessed I would become with a historical rap musical about Alexander Hamilton I would assume future me had gone crazy somewhere along the way.  The entire show is a musical so it’s easy to follow along with the soundtrack at home if getting to NYC is unreasonable for you.  I know I’ll be listening to this for years to come and I really hope I’ve convinced you to give Hamilton a shot.

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If you’ve seen Hamilton and have any thoughts on it or just want to gush about it together PLEASE contact me because I literally want to talk about it with EVERY ONE but sadly I don’t know that many people who have seen it.
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Kristin
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