Waiting on Wednesday #71

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

My pick of the week is...
Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Reading Level: Young Adult
Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision—one lie to cover for her boyfriend—and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

Why I Am Waiting

Miranda Kenneally always delivers on the feels. She takes badass female heroines, makes them even more awesome by kicking major butt at sports, and gives them swoony men that are unforgettable. This is the contemporary formula for the three s's: success, swoonyness, and sexiness. I am 100% down to read anything this women writes. Make my heart SQUEEE ten times over forever, Miranda! Forever a Miranda follower. <3 Plus, I need to know who makes cameos in this one!

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Are you equally as excited for this book as me? Is there another book you are even more excited about? Please share your thoughts with me below!

Stacking the Shelves #112

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

I know, I know. You are probably wondering how I am managing to post an STS post while in London when I swore I wouldn't accumulate anymore books unless I came here planning to buy them. Well, it just so happens that all but one of the below books were shipped to my home in the states, so I only have to carry one home. I am proud of the way I am cheating this system. ;)

Gifted from Bekka (Thank you!)
signed A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Special Edition Rhys card

Gifted from my Mom (Thank you!)
 My Mom knows that my love for this book knows no bounds, so her contributions to my collection are something I am forever thankful for! <3 

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Have you read any of these? What are your thoughts? I can honestly say I love every book that got added to my shelves this week! What did you add to your shelves this week? Link below so I can discover some new books for myself!

Lili's Travel Diary #22: Stratford-Upon-Avon


A little over a month ago, on April 18th, I set out for a day trip that I planned on taking since I first decided to study abroad in the UK: Stratford-Upon-Avon. In case you don't know what this is, it is Shakespeare's birthplace. After taking a Shakespeare class last term that was my favorite class ever and taking a second Shakespeare class this term, making my love for him grow, I knew I needed to do this. When my friend Julia's sister visited from the states for a week and said she wanted to take a daytrip, I asked if I could join. I was beyond excited to head there.

Shakespeare's birthplace.
We bought a three house ticket to get into the family homes. This included entry to all Shakespeare attractions except for his wife, Anne's, cottage and his mother's cottage as well as an exhibit on the history of Shakespeare which we found to be super interesting. 10/10, highly recommend it. We didn't have the time to be able to get to Anne or his mother's cottage, nor did we have the funds. They're a bit farther out of the city center and we didn't arrive until around noon. If we arrived closer to 9 or 10 in the morning we may have had a chance, but that would require a 6AM wake up from London and we were not about that.

First up, we went to Shakespeare's childhood home. He eventually sold it to become a hotel, but he was still born and raised in this house. It was a really cool thing to see.
The original window in the room where he was birthed in was removed and put on display because so many wealthy guests of the past had carved their names into it in commemoration. You can see this depicted in the picture to the right.

Throughout his house there are also actors that perform parts of his plays and volunteers to keep you well informed. Because it was a bit cold on the day we went there weren't many actors around, which was a total bummer because I really wanted to witness Romeo and Juliet's balcony scene occur in the backyard!

The next stop on our ticket was Harvard House. It was the home of some of his family's childhood friends. It was not that grand, and there's not much to say about it. We were not in it long, but since it's part of the ticket we figured why not. It sure was beautiful to look at though! See picture to the left.

The last item included in our ticket was Hall's Croft, which was Shakespeare's first daughter's home. This was the most magnificent of them all, and there was quite a bit of history in there on top of a beautiful garden that we spent some time relaxing it. We spent most of our time in this home, and would say it is an absolute must visit next to Shakespeare's actual home. While Harvard House is not as important, this one cannot be skipped if you ever find yourself in Stratford.


One thing that the three of us really got a kick out of was all of the displays in the home. They have some donated furniture pieces and other pieces that were recreated to look like they did in the time period, but nearly everything had really fun and entertaining signs on them. The sign to the left reads "I am old and tired, please sit on something younger." haha

Shakespeare's grave
After we finished our tour of the homes, which only took a few hours, we decided to visit Shakespeare's grave. He is buried inside a church alongside his wife and several other important people in his life. What I found most fascinating about his grave is that his plaque refers to him as a poet and not a playwright. It just reminds you that even though he was a successful playwright in his time, he didn't grow to be the literary mega-man we know him as today until way after his death.

Noms
At this point in time, we were getting a bit bored. Stratford-Upon-Avon--smartly named because it is one of many towns named Stratford but this one is located directly on the River Avon--is truly a small town that is meant to be done inn a day trip. I couldn't imagine spending a night there. I do not think there's enough to do! The
best way to cure boredom is to eat, so we found a cute pub and I indulged in one of my favorite British pub fares: three bean chili with a side of well cooked chips. I am going to miss this stuff.

By the time we finished eating, we decided to take a long walk along the River Avon to kill time before the main attraction: A Royal Shakespeare Company performance of Hamlet. This was an item on my bucket list after analyzing so many Royal Shakespeare Company performances in my past classes, and I am so happy to have had the ability to cross it off my bucket list! We bought really cheap tickets for opening week because no critic reviews have come out yet, and let me tell you, this is one of the best performances I have ever seen of this play! They took Hamlet and still set it in Denmark, but they completed brought it up to date in terms of costuming (Hamlet was a bit of a hipster and I adored every minute of it) and even introduced some African themes for the background music and anything relating to death (burials,
ghosts, etc). You know the drill if you've read the play. It was so well done, and I am so thankful we did this.

However, because Hamlet is nearly three hours long, we didn't get back to London until around 2AM because trains just don't run as often late at night. I was 100% exhausted the next day, but I stand by the fact that that person was so, so worth it.

If you ever find yourself in England, a day trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon is so worth it. You must see a Royal Shakespeare Company production because they are often quite grand and well done, and it makes it all the more cooler being in his hometown. With all of that in mind, it is a small town. The girls and I kept asking ourselves how people could live there without going crazy, so I wouldn't stay there for anything longer than two days at the most. It's nice and it has turned into quote the tourist attraction, but it is, in the end, still a very small town. Even if David Tennant lives there when performing in Royal Shakespeare Company productions.

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Have you ever been to Stratford-Upon-Avon? Do you think you'd like to go? Have you ever seen a Royal Shakespeare Company performance? Comment below with your thoughts!

Waiting on Wednesday #70

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

My pick of the week is...
The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson

Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co (BYR)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Lia and Rafe have escaped Venda and the path before them is winding and dangerous - what will happen now? This third and final book in The Remnant Chronicles is not to be missed.

Bestselling author Mary E. Pearson's combination of intrigue, suspense, romance and action make this a riveting page turner for teens.

Why I Am Waiting

Did you read the ending of book two?! Did it make you ridiculously excited/anxious/nervous for book three?! Yeah, me too, hence why I need this book in my life, like, yesterday. Plus, look at the amazingly awesome cover. Bask in its glory. Prepare for the epic tale and probably battles within its pages. Mentally prepare yourself for the fact that this killer trilogy is unfortunately coming to an end. I never want it to end, BUT I NEED THIS BOOK NOW. Mary E. Pearson is ridiculously good at inspiring conflicting emotions, that's for sure.

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Are you equally as excited for this book as me? Is there another book you are even more excited about? Please share your thoughts with me below!

Top Ten Books That Will Make You Laugh (or at least chuckle)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

I had so much fun making this list! So, without further ado...

1. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton- This book literally had me laughing out loud. It's just so hilarious! The shenanigans, the modern quotes put into Tudor-era English, and the hilarity of it all. I just love this book to pieces.

2. Croak Series by Gina Damico- This entire trilogy has me dying of laughter because it is so funny. Humor is Damico's specialty and she knows it. When you meet Uncle Mort and the gang, you can't help but smile just thinking about them. I mean, a group of horny teen grim reapers is a recipe for hilarity after all.

3. Perijee and Me by Ross Montgomery- An adorably dark middle grade about a girl who befriends an alien that may or may not be trying to take over the world. Naturally, hilarity ensures.

4. The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot- Meg Cabot knows how to bring the laughs. She constantly has me dying as I read through this seven book series. Major dedication because the characters are so worth it. Cabot must have been a comedian in a past life.

5. Lick by Kylie Scott- A new adult romance about bands is guaranteed to be hot, but it is also ridiculously hilarious depending on which band member you're looking at. I'll give you the hint: this one has the really funny one it.

6. Alienated by Melissa Landers- An alien comes to Earth on an exchange program and has to learn Earthen words and ways of life. There are some very entertaining mix up's in here for sure. Landers took a really interesting concept and turned it into entertainment goal.

7. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan- It's Sarah Rees Brennan--one of the most entertaining authors I have ever seen at an event. Need I say more?

8. Dumplin' by Julie Murphy- Willowdean's love of herself is contagious, though her love of Dolly Parton may not be. She's cracking relatable jokes left and right, making her all the more endearing to readers.

9. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider- Robyn Schneider is the Queen of Puns. The original title of this book, Severed Heads and Broken Hearts, is a pun in and of itself when you think about the first chapter, after all.

10. The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes- When you combine The Art of War with high school shenanigans, hilariousness is bound to ensue.

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Have you read any of these books recently? Did you enjoy them? Are you looking forward to them? Don't forget to share your lists with me in the comments below! <3

Review: Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

Publication Date: May 10, 2016
US Publisher: Dial Books
UK Publisher: Faber and Faber
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 249 (ARC)
Source: From Faber & Faber For Review
Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But how can she prove she deserves a spot there?

Solomon is the answer.

Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa thrusts herself into his life, introducing him to her charming boyfriend Clark and confiding her fears in him. Soon, all three teens are far closer than they thought they’d be, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse, as well.

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

When I was offered a UK ARC of this book, I had to stop myself from jumping for joy. I fell in love with the idea of it immediately after reading the synopsis months ago, and I am so happy to report that John Corey Whaley delivers an amazing tale full of raw emotions, powerful morals, killer friendships, and Star Trek references.

To begin, it is worth noting that this is one of those stories about doing the right thing for the wrong reason. And, in this case, I think it works. Lisa decides to "fix" Solomon's agoraphobia so that she can get into her dream college's psychology program and write about how she's already on track to be an amazing psychologist. Naturally, it goes without saying, that this is her journey to discovering that people can't be fixed. I was a bit apprehensive because this idea has the potential to go horribly awry and get a bit offensive, but Whaley handles it with the finesse of a great, educated writer and uses this as a platform to help readers understand mental health more properly. Bravo.

I was also a bit worried about Lisa's characterization. She's not an outright anti-hero, but she is certainly an unlikable protagonist. Eventually, you learn more about her past and why she is the way she is and you begin to understand her more, but Solomon is so extremely likable that it is hard to truly love anyone who may be using him. Solomon's characterization is off the freakin' charts. I adored him. He is content with where he finds himself in life, but also curious and realistic about his future. What is it going to mean when he can't go outside? He pushes himself on his own, taking baby steps, and I adore it. I also really like Clark, Lisa's handsome water polo-playing boyfriend who is also a huge nerd. He finds a dear friend in Solomon that I don't think could ever be replaced. To be honest, I love Clark more than Lisa, but at times his characterization seemed too convenient to progress certain plot points.  With all of this in mind, Solomon's grandmother clearly steals the show and I want to clone her to have her all to myself, please and thank you. Bonus points for killer family dynamics and showing how important it is to have a strong support system around you whether you're struggling or not.

Told in alternating third person POV between Solomon and Lisa, I naturally found myself looking forward to Solomon's chapters because they explored agoraphobia and panic disorders--a topic I have witnessed but still have much to understand about. Whaley displays this beautifully and left the reader very satisfied. Lisa's chapters also had crucial plot points in them, even if they made you cringe at times, and helped round out the story as a whole. 

I have absolutely no complaints about this book. I put it down after flying through it in a single sitting feeling extremely satisfied and craving a sequel. I want more. I want more of Solomon's exquisite mind and story, and I want more of this awesome family and network of geeky friends. I literally ached as I turned the last page because the overall tale was satisfying, but I was not ready to say goodbye. Months later, I still don't want to say goodbye. Emotional, heartwarming, nerdy, and informative, I think everyone needs to read this book.
 

5 stars

 ~*~Links~*~
|Goodreads|Amazon|Book Depository|Author's Website|

FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for my honest review.

Waiting on Wednesday #69

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

My pick of the week is...

Publication Date: April 19, 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Reading Level: Young Adult
Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her pot-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them...until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett's stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off.

Why I Am Waiting

I think this book has a super unique and intruiging premise, which is what makes me so excited for it! Furthermore, I feel like many book bloggers can relate to Scarlett somehow because we use our blogs and other online forums to talk about our interests and lives. Sure, I seem to have a slightly better off reality than Scarlett Epstein over here does, but that doesn't mean I don't love my ability to escape into the Internet every now and then. I know I won't be able to read this book until I get back to the states, but that doesn't mean I'm not ridiculously excited to do so!

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Are you equally as excited for this book as me? Is there another book you are even more excited about? Please share your thoughts with me below!