March Monthly Recap

~*~On The Blog~*~

Unfortunately for me...this was not a favorable month review wise.

Books Reviewed:
A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger - 3.5 stars
Fifty First Times: A New Adult Anthology by various authors - 3 stars
The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle - 2.5 stars
Death Sworn by Leah Cypress - 2 stars
Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell - 1.5 stars
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy - DNF (0.5 stars)

Books Reviewed on Tynga's Reviews:
Shadowland by Meg Cabot - 4 stars

The Broadway Review:
  • I introduced this new feature here if you want to check it out! This feature is dependent upon audience interest, so please comment on any of the reviews if you still want me to keep it!
  • My first review went up of ONCE. It got two thumbs up and a harrowing journey to the tickets on a freezing Saturday morning. Check it out here.
  • My second review went up of Idina Menzel's new show IF/THEN. It didn't wow me the way I was hoping, but at least I can say I've seen Idina perform live on stage. See why I'm slightly skeptical here!
Discussion Posts:
  • I shared a post on why I have anxiety over finishing a series and ask all of my readers to help me with therapy here! Does anyone else find the prospect of actually finishing a series to be daunting?
College Blogging 101 Posts: 

~*~What I've Been Watching~*~

TV:
  • Well, I watched season two of Once Upon A Time. Again, I loved it. Lots of new risks and plot twists galore, but I have to say that Charming's character gets the award for some of the most obvious and worst dialogue ever written. Tweet me if you want to discuss. Because I finished season two, I watched the first half of season three as a marathon that ended three minutes before the midseason premiere of season three occurred. Talk about being a winner. Wow...just wow. That was a killer season and can I say I ship Captain Swan so hard?! If you don't, then don't even look at me. Also, I freaking loved Peter Pan and nobody can judge me for it. If you like retellings then you simply must watch this series! The midseason premiere of season three did not disappoint and it promises some amazing wickedness to come!
  • My mother and sister are huge reality television buffs, so over Spring Break I caught up on Survivor so that I could continue to share my thoughts on the shenanigans with them now that I'm back in school. Honestly, this year's twist of Brains vs. Beauty vs. Brawn is rather entertaining and intriguing. Would definitely love to discuss it with anyone on Twitter if there are other fans hiding in the shadows! With that in mind...Trish, you make me cringe. Your kids are probably hiding somewhere from embarrassment with your antics and stupidity these days.
  • Hello! The premiere of Dancing With The Stars happened this month and I loved it! I can't say I'm not a fan of our two older contestants but I'm really loving the pairings this year (and I'm hoping this new twist sucks because I don't want anyone to change partners). I hope Cody Simpson gets voted out soon and I can't wait to see Amy, Meryl, and Charlie own the stage. It's also really nice to see that Maks is back because I missed him a lot. With that in mind...I really hate the new co-host, even if she was once his partner. No sharing thoughts on who has left because I don't want to ruin it for anyone who may have some catching up to do!
  • I have started watching Once Upon A Time in Wonderland because I'm really curious about the spin-off. Of course, when I get nine episodes into the first season they announce they're cancelling it on the next episode (either 14 or 15). This episode has already been filmed and was not planned to be the series finale, so it makes things even worse because odds are the overarching issues that have kept me watching will not be solved. I don't know if I should continue or not! With that in mind, I want another spin-off, either in Oz or Neverland if you ask me.
Movies:
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants ended up being a movie night pick between my friends and I because we wanted to watch an oldie that made us happy. Needless to say, I loved it just as much as I did the first time. I don't think I'll ever get tired of this movie (or the books).
  • I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel on a whim. I wanted to see it because, hello, it's Wes Anderson and his master storytelling techniques. Plus, the cast in this movie was absolutely absurd. My friend had a digital ticket for the first showing of the movie in Union Square's VIP showroom. Unfortunately, the morning of the showing, she was really sick. 35 minutes before it started she texted me her ticket and told me that if I didn't accept she'd kick me in the shins. Needless to say I accepted the ticket and ran for the Subway. I made it into the theater just as the final preview began, settled in on my comfortable balcony chair that I had no idea movie theaters actually had freaking balconies and enjoyed the ride. I laughed so unbelievably hard and highly recommend seeing this if you like quirky comedies with insane and outlandish stories in the best possible way. With that in mind, I would not recommend seeing it with a parent. I feel as if certain parts of it can be slightly awkward.
  • The Veronica Mars Movie came out during my Spring Break. Right before Spring Break I was having an issue at college. Nothing big really, I just found out someone close to me lied about something very important and I couldn't wait to get away. I think this is why my Dad ended up inviting himself to see the movie with me instead of making me go alone, but I'm totally cool with that. I constantly flailed and laughed and, wow, I was just happy throughout the entire showing. My one complaint is that the ending seemed slightly rushed, but I'm hoping it was only that way since it seemed as if the movie was being set up for a sequel. But the sequel is the new mystery series that Rob Thomas is writing...so I'll see what's going on with that eventually.
  • I saw Divergent with my friend Tabitha and I was oddly satisfied. They mostly stayed true to the book and only altered miniscule things that didn't both me as much. I was worried about the casting of Four and was really happy with him, as I was the entire cast. Really loved the Dauntless training and the actor who played Eric was damn brilliant. Ansel Elgort's running though...ouch. I say give this one a chance if you have the opportunity to. I don't have much else to say because I don't want to ruin anything for anyone.
Do you have a monthly recap or thoughts on anything I'm reading/reviewing/watching? Share your thoughts below! Every comment is greatly appreciated! <3

College Blogging 101: A High School Student's Perspective


College Blogging 101 is a weekly meme hosted by Lili's Reflections where a variety of hosts answer questions and give advice in regards to blogging in college. The purpose of this is to help upcoming college students and to create an open discussion forum. If you would like to write a guest post, please fill out this form. If you have a question you want answered, please fill out this form.

This post shares some advice about college from the perspective of a high school student! Brought to you by Summer from Blue Sky Bookshelf, the purpose of this post is to share unique experiences and show that you really aren't alone with your worries, woes, fears, and struggles.

~*~*~*~

Unless you have some cool superpower, if you're a high school senior, worrying becomes your unpaid job. Unpaid is key because worrying does nothing for you. But this isn't about the psychological effects of worrying and negativity. This isn't even exclusively about high school seniors, but since I am one, I connect with that grade level the best. I think here's the question that's most present on many high schoolers' minds: How will I continue blogging while at college?

Being in high school while blogging is hard enough as it is. Homework, immature classmates (sorry, kids, the immaturity is still there in ages 18-21), extracurriculars, possibly a job, running into the realization that growing up is not fun, and that the TV lies. I realized this past fall that there's way more into applying for colleges than what I thought. I can't apply to any college I want because it turns out that out-of-state wants my first-born child. I couldn't just fill out the basics about me, there were essays involved. Essays that could determine your life, not just a grade. So I admit it, I think "college" and instantly think of "the death of blogging."


I guess I've been more fortunate than others because I've been taking college classes since junior year and a full-time college student since this past fall thanks to dual-enrollment. That doesn't cancel out my worries though. I have the little fears that every college student has like FOOD and the fear of being in the bigger pond. Harder homework, bigger expectations, less time, more stress. Sweet baby cupcakes, I'll have a roommate who is not my little sister and could possibly be every single nightmare rolled into one. I could have so many papers to write that two weeks have passed by and I realized I never read one line out of my latest ARC. I know I'm not the only one with these fears.

Instead of just saying hello to the hardships and bye to blogging, I have a a couple tips, all closely related. Like I said, I still live at home and am not at all an expert on college blogging, but so far, these little tips have helped me out during the stress of this crazy senior year.

List it out. I can't recommend this enough to anybody in any stressful, time-crunching situation. MAKE A LIST. My mom has always said that if you put all your to-dos and worries on paper, it gives you a little more peace in your mind because they're not all rattling inside, demanding to be remembered.



Prioritize and reward. I currently have 11 items on my to-do list that I must get done today before 6pm. 60% is school related, 39% is blog related, and 1% is other (usually fitness related). I like to put my most important items on the top, but I don't even try to label a first, second, third, etc. I make myself finish one thing (usually it's finishing an assignment for school) and then tell myself I can do a blog related thing such as replying to comments, then I can get up and either un-numb my bottom by doing a couple exercises or appease my stomach with bread. Holding off on blogging doesn't always seem like a reward, but you come to realize when compared to schoolwork, it is.


Think little. First of all, stop picturing ALL the things you have to do. Just stop. Now, when you're trying to accomplish goals, make little ones. At least, try to conquer the little ones at first. No, unless you've procrastinated and that huge paper is due in a couple days, put that aside for now and think about each of the smaller goals one at a time. Your progress through your list will go faster and by the time you reach the fifth goal, you won't be as exhausted as you would be if you tried to knock out the 10 page essays first. "I'll finish my 200 word discussion post for history class. Okay, done. I'll go reply to the comments on my last blog post. After my peanut butter, I'll study for a little bit..."

Believe me, list-making or anything similar will help you with your sanity. If you've tried list-making before and discovered that it somehow gives you more negativity in life, you either: don't know how to properly make a list, are thinking in the wrong mindset, or are pathetically crazy in a rare breed, at least to me.

High schoolers, shout-out to the seniors, you aren't alone. Your worries are real and felt by many. Of course, my biggest advice to all of you is to read this feature because there has been great advice (thanks, Lili and others).


Thank you, Lili, for having me!

~*~*~*~

Thank you for stopping by, Summer! I'm so thankful to have had your unique perspective!

Every comment is appreciated! Please share your thoughts and any similar experiences you may have had.

Review: A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Poppy
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 291 (Paperback)
Source: Gifted
Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorcé dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée's son? Whitley's one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great.

Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her stepbrother...at least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.

Filled with authenticity and raw emotion, Whitley is Kody Keplinger's most compelling character to date: a cynical Holden Caulfield-esque girl you will wholly care about.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I'm a little surprised I enjoyed this one as much as I did, mainly because the main character is so unlikeable and insufferable. This month I haven't had the best run with main characters that are meant to be unlikable. Because they're so polarizing you either love them or hate them. I normally love them, but recently I've been hating them. A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHTMARE has fixed this dilemma of mine. Though Whitley has a drinking problem, it is easy to understand why because her family is so, well, sucky. This book unfortunately does fall cliche to the terrible parenting norm, which sucks, but it's taken in a new direction when Whitley's once useless father eventually re-marries into a rather remarkable step family. It's obvious why Whitley doesn't trust them, thus I find myself liking cliches that I typically despise.

Undoubtedly, the best part of this story is Whitley's journey to self-discovery. She learns that despite her terrible upbringing and how she views herself, she really does have a chance in life. She can find love and happiness and people that truly care for her because she deserves it. She can confront and conquer her demons whether it be drinking or her father being a terrible father. She can finally stand on her own two feet, and that's what made this story worth it.

Another beautiful part of this book is Keplinger's brutal honesty. She depicted what it is truly like to be a teen growing up today and I could relate to a lot of the book because of this. Really, Keplinger is my go-to for brutal honesty and realism. But, I have to admit it, I felt she exaggerated certain things to the point of unbelievability. The first novel I ever read by her was THE DUFF so I had high expectations of A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHTMARE. The lack of realism at certain moments made this book fall just short for me.

What really bugged me was the cyber-bullying. This is a major problem today and Keplinger had the opportunity to educate us on a serious and growing topic that is causing many suicides if she had Whitley deal with it properly. Instead, she had Whitley brush it off as if it was nothing. I understand that our main character has thick skin, but that's what others think before the cyber-bullying truly takes them to their breaking point. It didn't go that far with Whitley, but I loathe the fact that this was not dealt with the way it could be. This one aspect of the plot had so much potential and it was not even close to being met. It should be a big deal!

In the end, I suppose I'm harping on the negatives because I so desperately wanted this to be a homerun novel. I really enjoyed it and I recommend it for any teen looking for a realistic interpretation of our everyday life as well as a solid and unique coming of age story. If absentee parents bother you, don't read this, but this is definitely for you if you like a cute and entirely unconventional romance found through a long and hard journey of self-discovery.

A warning for parents and young readers...there is cussing and underage drinking in this novel as well as forceful sexual situations that are not in great detail. I wouldn't recommend this for anyone under the age of fourteen.


3.5 stars

~*~Links~*~

Waiting on Wednesday #46


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine.
My pick of the week is...
 

Perfect for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell, Love and Other Foreign Words is equal parts comedy and coming of age--a whip-smart, big-hearted, laugh-out-loud love story about sisters, friends, and what it means to love at all.

Can anyone be truly herself--or truly in love--in a language that's not her own?

Sixteen-year-old Josie lives her life in translation. She speaks High School, College, Friends, Boyfriends, Break-ups, and even the language of Beautiful Girls. But none of these is her native tongue--the only people who speak that are her best friend Stu and her sister Kate. So when Kate gets engaged to an epically insufferable guy, how can Josie see it as anything but the mistake of a lifetime? Kate is determined to bend Josie to her will for the wedding; Josie is determined to break Kate and her fiancé up. As battles are waged over secrets and semantics, Josie is forced to examine her feelings for the boyfriend who says he loves her, the sister she loves but doesn't always like, and the best friend who hasn't said a word--at least not in a language Josie understands.
 ~*~Why I Am Waiting~*~
Um...for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell. Need I say more?

Every comment is appreciated!

Top Ten Things on My Bookish Bucket List


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

In no particular order...

1. Go to ALA. 
I've been to BEA, but I've yet to have gone to ALA. Since I worked in a library for nearly two years as my very first job, I'd really love to go to ALA as both a book nerd and lover of libraries.

2. Go to comic con.
Again! BEA but no comic con, even though it's held right here in New York City once a year! I want to go for the overall experience. The books are a plus, but I feel like this is an out of this world convention that'll take me to new places.

3. Read a book entirely in another language.
I can speak enough Italian that my Italian professor thinks this is a definite possibility for me. One day I've got to put this to the test! One of my favorite foreign films is based off of a best-selling Italian novel. I kind of want to give it a chance!

4. Read a 1,000+ page book.
I've read an 800 page book, but I've yet to read a true epic tale. I want this to happen one day...and I want to be so impressed that the time was well worth it and I was left completely floored.

5. Own a house where I have an entire room dedicated to being a personal library and reading room.
Does this one really need any explanation? One day I will own a house and that house will have an entire room meant to be my own personal library and reading room. Until the day comes where there's so many books that I can't fit that awesome chaise lounge in it anymore so then I'll have to buy a bigger house that has a library room and a separate reading room.

6. Meet Markus Zusak, give him a hug, and get him to sign my copy of THE BOOK THIEF.
Pretty self-explanatory. He is my favorite author after all and I do live my life with the belief in the power of words that he has endowed in me.

7. Meet all my bookish friends!
This'll be hard because there's so many of you, but I'll meet every single one of you some day. 

8. Get a job in the publishing industry. 
It's going to happen one day, people! I'm working towards a publishing degree after all!

9. Write a book.
I never want to publish it, but I want to write a book before I die. I feel like it's a huge accomplishment that would make me happy.

10. Finish the Harry Potter series.
One day I'll be able to say goodbye. I'm just not ready to yet!

Share your TTT lists with me below!

College Blogging 101: How an English Major Balances Reading


College Blogging 101 is a weekly meme hosted by Lili's Reflections where a variety of hosts answer questions and give advice in regards to blogging in college. The purpose of this is to help upcoming college students and to create an open discussion forum. If you would like to write a guest post, please fill out this form. If you have a question you want answered, please fill out this form.

~*~*~*~ 
Anonymous asked...

How do you balance pleasure reading and academic reading as an English major?

I know that this seems like a daunting task, but it is not. However...I can give you some advice on how to manage this from personal experience.

1. Stay up to date with work!
Don't join the procrastination nation. At times I've fallen victim to this ideal and it most definitely came back to haunt me.
Don't be like this.
What I found that killed me the most my first semester was long-term reading assignments. I would get a month to read six chapters in the textbook, put it off and say I've got time, only to realize my test is in three days and I have to cram six chapters worth of reading into three days. It's terrible. It stresses you out and takes away from your normal reading time and it also makes you lose sleep. It's hard to recover from lost sleep during the school year. Trust me...I've tried.
So my best piece of advice is don't procrastinate. Stay on top of things so that no sneaky assignments and deadlines reduce your reading time. If you have a month to read six chapters, space it out so that it takes you the entire month to read all of the chapters and you only have to do a few pages in a sitting. It's rather glorious what proper time management can do for you, even if it sounds rather terrible. Get to work!


2. Be smart with your schedule.
After your first semester at college you are going to start to create your own schedule. Obviously there are some courses that you can take for fun. My school offers a course on Harry Potter and our final paper is twenty pages on how we plan to defeat Voldemort. You bet your ass that I'm going to take this one day, but my major courses come first. Don't stock up on the electives and find that you have to take four English/Literature courses in one semester. That's way too much reading (even for those of us who love it) and it's a huge time suck.

I also recommend finding a class schedule that works for you and doing your best to make that happen. For example, this semester is my ideal schedule. I only have classes three days a week. Monday's I'm out of class by noon, but all of my friends and my entire floor are busy until at least six, so I sit in my lounge and knock out at least a full book every Monday. It's glorious and it's my way of building reading time into my schedule. Tuesday's I get out of class at three and those are my days to do work because most people still have class by the time I'm out and my floor is still relatively quiet. I'm in class from 10:30am on Wednesdays until 8:20 at night. It's a long day, but rather enjoyable because of the classes I have scheduled for it, so I tend to go upstairs and relax while my Thursdays are for sleeping in, school work, and my actual job. It also helps that my Wednesday night class tests us solely from the textbook so I just read eARCs on my iPad in class for two in a half hours because I prefer to read the textbook. You will find your own schedule in due time and if it works out the way you want it to, you'll inadvertently find that you gave yourself a lot of reading time because it's your ideal schedule for a reason. If not, when you pick your courses, try to build in some time for reading time!

3. Take advantage of course substitutions if your school offers it.
I'm an English major for a reason...I like to read and analyze text. But, like every sane individual, I'm not a fan of reading textbooks and Olde English tends to make my eyes water often. So, I took advantage of the course substitutions that my school offers me after I talked to the head of the English Department. I found out that though I need a certain number of 300 level literature courses and 300 level English courses (two separate things, my dear friends) to satisfy my major requirements, I could substitute certain courses that will work towards my degree but save me some textbook reading.

For example, this semester I am taking a History of Film course. This is under our Film and Screen Studies major. I discovered that as long as the Department Chair approves my choice of course (which she did), I can get any FSS course to replace an English 300 level course (even if that FSS course is not a 300 level course) because our Film and Screen Studies major was born out of my school's English department. The old head of the English department is now the head of our FSS department and happens to be my Professor. So instead of meeting twice a week to analyze Ye Olde English in a 300 level course (rather hard), I meet once a week for three hours where I watch an old black and white movie and then spend an hour discussing it in an FSS 202 level course. And this counts towards the requirements for my major!
 
4. Read everywhere and anywhere.
As I mentioned above, I built reading time into my schedule on Mondays and inadvertently stumbled across the ability to read in class every Wednesday night. I built the reading time into my schedule to guarantee I get at least two books done a week. But I've discovered that I'm reading a lot more then that because I read everywhere. I read on the subway, I read in my room, I read in the park, I lay across my lounge's couch and read while surrounded by 15 people. The one thing that I discovered about college is that people are more curious than you think. They often take your thoughts about random suggestions into consideration. I've gotten more then one person to borrow one of my books when I was done because my description of it interested them.

But my favorite part about all of this is that my floormates (all 44 of them) are accustomed to walking out and finding me in the lounge with a book in hand. They know I am reading and that this is my "me" time even if I'm surrounded by people. They get that this is part of me and just let me do it, just as this one guy on my floor has to watch a movie a day because he's obsessed and is often found Netflixing it in the lounge until four in the morning or that other guy tends to run laps around the floor really late at night because he gets antsy if he didn't get to the gym that day. We all have our weird little isms that define us and we all live with each others without asking questions. So never allow your love of reading to be something you're ashamed of. A lot of people may laugh that you can read so much, but they'll never look at you any different because of it. Odds are people will respect you a lot more for it because it's a pretty damn awesome habit.

And the last thing I have to say is this...college will be stressful, but if you love reading enough, you'll force yourself to find a way to make time for it. Even if it's not always easy.
~*~*~*~
Share your thoughts with me! If you're already in college, how did you balance pleasure reading with academic reading? If you're not in college, do you have a type of plan or did you find my advice at all useful? I'd love to hear your thoughts below! Every comment is appreciated! 

To Finish or Not To Finish...That Is The Question


When it comes to finishing a series...I suck. A lot. I'm the sucky series finishing fairy because I actually do everything in my power not to finish a series. I sit here and I really want to finish that series, but when I get to that last book I have a staredown with it and wimp out and crawl in the corner. I discovered that this was a legitimate problem I had when I confessed to Gillian that I have yet to read the entire Harry Potter series only because I'm mentally unable to say good-bye, even though I've seen all the movies. Naturally, she blew up on me in a friendly manner and outted my issue to her entire follower base without putting my name out there and I've been in rehab for it ever since.

And by that I mean I've just been forcing myself to grow the lady balls to say good-bye to beloved characters because not all of their stories end badly. Even though some do. And those are the books that make me curse Gillian for putting me through a metaphorical rehab. You know...every time I read one of those series where something bad happens in the end I just curl up in a ball and wonder if this entire rehab process is worth it. I want to relapse into my old ways of ignorant bliss.


But, I have to say, that I'm thankful that I'm beginning to finish series's. It was an issue of mine before I began blogging and I feel like blogging plus Gillian made me realize that I'm being an overemotional idiot. As Alexa puts it: I'm not ready to let the magic go. Honestly, she hit the nail on the head.

I feel like there's a finality in finishing a series. Sure, I can pick it up and re-read it again, but the characters that are close enough to my heart to make me want to continue their story are now having their story end, and that means that I have to say goodbye. Hopefully their stories end in a good way that doesn't involve a death that will make me bawl my eyes out because painful goodbyes are always the hardest. Plus, if I cry, which I feel is an inevitability these days, I will not be tempted to pick up that series for a re-read. It all stems from irrational bookish fears, you see.

It really isn't pretty.

Prior to blogging I only ever made it through two series as a whole throughout roughly five years of nonstop reading:

1. The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer
2. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

One of those gives me some of my favorite childhood memories and one of them made me cringe but I finished the series because I simply couldn't allow my sister to finish a series before I did when I am the family reader, not her!

Since I began blogging...I have finished many series that I probably would not have discovered if not for blogging and am awaiting the final releases of many more series that I'm experiencing anxiety over finishing. Some of the finished series include:

1. The Girl of Fire and Thorns Series by Rae Carson highly recommend!
2. Something Strange and Deadly Series by Susan Dennard highly recommend!
3. Croak Series by Gina Damico highly recommend!
4. Wings Series by Aprilynne Pike
5. Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi highly recommend!
6. Legend Series by Marie Lu highly recommend!
7. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
8. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins recommend
9. The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot highly recommend!

I finished The Mediator Series a day before writing this post and it's actually what prompted me to write this post. See, Christina found out I have never read any Meg Cabot before because I did not enjoy the one book I read by her and she was outraged so she sent me this entire series for Christmas. I've been marathoning it to the best of my ability and I got beyond attached to the characters. And well...my problem was expressed on twitter because, on more then one occasion, I've had to take to twitter to express my emotional trauma caused by this series to Gillian, Christina, and even my friend Jackie.

And well...the tweet below happened.

It seems that my problem will forever be with me and I've yet to master my bookish rehabilitation. However, I've learned to overcome this fear by just forcing myself to allow my curiosity to get the better of me. Out of the many series listed above, I can only say one ending wrought the emotional destruction I truly truly fear, though several did cause me to tear up. I'm beginning to have faith. It just so happens that that faith doesn't actually make me pick up that final book and make that final leap until I stare at it and hyperventilate for an hour...or two or three.

To this day there are two series whose final book still eludes me because I can't say goodbye. It doesn't matter that I know how they end, my bookish journey with them is not complete. And I know they'll be complete one day, I'm just not mentally prepared for them...

Until next time:

1. Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
2. Jessica Darling Series by Megan McCafferty

You will be read...eventually. Harry Potter...I am marathoning you this summer even if it KILLS me.


Do you have this issue or is this all one huge problem that I've caused for my bookish anxiety? How do you tackle the ending of a series? Are you the complete opposite of me? If so, how do you deal with it? Share your thoughts below! It seems I need everyone's therapeutic help.

Review: Fifty First Times: A New Adult Anthology

Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Reading Level: New Adult, 18+
Pages: 700 (iBooks App)
Source: Bought on Sale
You always remember your first time...

Whether it's the couple who decides not to go through with it, the two boys who finally aren't ashamed, the newlyweds whose wedding night could very well be their last night together, the deaf pair who have no choice but to take body language to a new level--or, of course, the two young lovers fumbling and laughing, getting everything wrong. These are the memories that will never fade.

Join nineteen fantastic authors as they pull back the curtain and give you a peek inside that one intense moment in their characters' lives when everything changes and nothing will ever be the same again.

Featuring stories from some of the hottest names in New Adult, Young Adult, and Romance including New York Times Bestselling authors J.Lynn/Jennifer Armentrout, Molly McAdams, Sophie Jordan, and Carrie Ryan.

NOTE: These stories are works of fiction. If you want to know about our first times, you'll have to buy us a pet monkey first.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

This will be a really simple overall review since I analyzed each story individually below. I have to admit that this book is overall satisfying. I'm not a big fan of anthologies, but after seeing a friends review of this I decided to check it out. I've been trying to get back into the new adult genre for a while now and I felt like this would be a solid gateway to discover some new authors. I really like my new adult novels to mean something instead of being an excuse to throw a lot of sex at readers, and I've got to admit that this book definitely satisfied that. There's something in here for everyone, though it's mostly contemporary, but they've got both some steaminess and a whole lot of sweetness with laughter sprinkled in between.

In all actuality, I only found myself struggling with a few of the stories. I enjoyed many of them and absolutely loved a lot more then I thought I would. I'm now on a crusade on twitter to get Melissa Landers to write a new adult novel because she's so amazing, but that's beside the point. The point is that this book served its purpose in introducing me to some new authors as well as making me find a few whose writing styles simply weren't compatible with my taste. This isn't just an anthology about first times, it's an anthology about looking at the past, learning about yourself, discovering love, and learning to do things outside of your comfort zone. One story in particular involves attacking your ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend with pretzel sticks from a roof while you were drunk--suffice to say there's a lot of laughter too.

The male leads are both as obnoxious as they come and as dreamy as they can get. I won't say anything more since you can find out my thoughts below, but Kai, Ollie, Ben, Hunter, Blake, and Rick are definitely some of mew favorites. I could use more of them and less of some others. Either way, this anthology will satisfy everyone's inner romantic.

However, I've got to take a moment to rant. Avon Impulse is published under HarperCollins...yet there was some seriously bad editing in here. There were a lot of typos or words misplaced and some words were pluralized when they weren't necessary. This should have been looked at thoroughly one more time before it made it to final publication. I have to dock points for this. All of these typos seriously disrupted my flow of reading.

I have to say that I think everyone should give this a chance if they're looking to get into the new adult genre or discover new authors. This is the perfect gateway into accomplishing both those tasks and it also helps you discover what type of reader you are!


3 stars

~*~Links~*~

If you want to see a small analysis for each specific story, check out what's below after the "read more" option!

Top Ten Books on my Spring 2014 TBR


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

In no particular order, a bunch of books I can't wait to read this Spring...
 
1. The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
2. The Falconer by Elizabeth May
3. One-Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

4. Scan by Sarah Fine & Walter Jury
5. The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell

6. Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan
7. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
8. The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

9. Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins
10. #Scandal by Sarah Ockler

~*~Bonus~*~
Already read both of them and loved every minute of them.

1. Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard
2. On The Fence by Kasie West

Don't forget to share your TTT posts with me below!

The Broadway Review: If/Then

Date Seen: Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Seating: Row F (6th row) Mezzanine
Cost of Ticket: $5
Ticket Source: Pace University Honors College
Rating: One Thumb Up
A contemporary new musical set where choice and chance collide.
Tony Award Winner Idina Menzel stars as Elizabeth, a woman rebuilding her life in New York City, where she discovers a world of infinite possibilities.
Fate and free will. Destiny and design. In one moment, Elizabeth will lead parallel lives.
This is the story of both.

 ~*~The Journey to the Tickets~*~

I wish I had some exciting tale for this part like I did with ONCE and many of my other shows, but the truth is that my tickets to IF/THEN conveniently fell into my lap at the proper time. I attend Pace University as an Honors College student and I take great pride in that. I'm heavily involved with the Honors College and I'm friends with the head of the college, the honors academic adviser, the project coordinator, and the three student aides. They're my extended family by default, you see.

The Honors College is given a certain stipend every year in order to provide discounted opportunities for Honors students, whether it be ice skating or seeing one Broadway show per semester. Last semester's Broadway show was BIG FISH, which I happily attended, and this semester's show just happened to be IF/THEN. You bet I e-mailed like hell to get myself on this ticket list and I'm happy to say I was able to enjoy the show with friends.

Moral of this story? If you want to go to college in New York City and have very good grades, come to Pace University where you can join the Honors College and get to see a Broadway show each semester for five dollars. Oh, and the people are pretty damn awesome too. ;)

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

To put it bluntly, this is not the show that I was expecting. However, I saw this show while it is still in previews, so that means there is a lot to change. For example, the day I saw it they happened to add in a brand new scene for the very first time and a few days after I saw it they completely changed the opening number. With all things still being ironed out, the show can definitely get better. But I stand by my assertion that the show isn't worth seeing if you have to pay more then fifty dollars to see it. I also know that I'm not alone in that opinion. To change this opinion you would need a serious script re-write.

I was sitting between my friend Jaclyn (who got me this wonderful ticket) and my friend James. Look at the adorableness that is James and I below.
He's pretty damn awesome and he knows it.
But it quickly became apparent to all three of us that this was a little too similar to RENT. Depressing and with all the same crowd-pleasers (lesbians, gays, and inter-racial couples), it was lacking a bit in originality. The three of us, I quickly discovered, are emotive showgoers and when all three of us reacted in the same way, you know something was wrong. Let me explain:

1. Le Gasp.
There's a certain moment in the play that was written in with poor taste. The musical number accompanying this moment was brilliant, but the actual moment had all three of us gaping like fish because it was shocking and unexpected. I really would write it out (and to my knowledge it is still there which pisses me off).

2. Le What.
Basically, the musical is a double life musical with Idina in the lead role. Her name is Elizabeth so the two separate lives are differentiated by her character being named either Liz or Beth. One of them wears glasses (don't ask me which because I seriously got lost) and you can guess that there is a character change because Idina suddenly has the same exact outfit on but with a different jacket. Each girl has a different love interest, except one of them (Beth, I think) actually has two even though one of them is so off the charts that we know he isn't a serious contender. And the love interest from the other persona suddenly becomes someone else when she's not in that persona so there's, like, ten different couples going on in this show. Apparently there was a difference in the lighting background color to help us figure out what character we are currently watching, but that didn't help at times. Actually, it was useless most of the time.

3. Le Laughter.
I just wasn't impressed with anything...There were certain scenes that were well-done, but not enough to leave a lasting impression. What I will say is that the show is pretty funny, though the humor is geared towards an older audience. And furthermore, a lot of it is geared towards New Yorkers. I found myself laughing often, but a few rows in front of us there were some people that never really got the joke, and that's how I easily picked out the tourists with James.

4. Le Yay!
Idina belted...for half a song! Not exactly what I was expecting out of her, but at least I can say I saw Idina Menzel in a lead role before she leaves Broadway. Unfortunately, she can't be in too many more shows, you know?

5. Le Ughhhhhh.
I'm just going to say this...the show is depressing. The ending is interesting, but some viewers and myself agree that this is not a show a middle-aged audience will see. It's got some serious mid-life crisis woes in it and they're out of this world depressing. They depressed me. A lot. I can't imagine watching this show as a viewer who may be at risk of experiencing some of these moments as I watch instead of in my past or later in life. Just agh, if you want a happy show this is not for you at all.

My one biggest complaint about this show is the way they cast it. Obviously Idina is the lead, the universe in this show literally centers around her. And then from there we have the ensemble and then everyone else. See, everyone else in the show that is important enough for us to actually know their name is just everyone else. They're all beneath Idina. And then beneath them are the few ensemble members (who are clearly understudies to most of the leads) that'll shine when they get the chance. Until then, they dance and walk in the background at the park, harmonize, and occasionally get their own line in a song. Since Idina isn't what a lot of people expect (though I promise huge fangirls will be satisfied) the show just wasn't as big and powerful as it could be. 

After the show I was able to get the main casts autographs. At one point in time I was a mere two feet away from Anthony Rapp, Idina Menzel, and LaChanze while they signed my playbill. It was absolutely marvelous. There was a fainting episode with a friend of mine and I discovered I'm secretly a superhero because I somehow managed to make sure she didn't crack her head on concrete while I went into shock because that was actually happening. I was shaking a solid twenty minutes after guys, it's like it was all in slow motion. All in all, a very eventful night. One thumb up for originality and laughter, though it did not leave a lasting impression and I can only describe its current showing as satisfactory. I can't see this show continuing on once Idina leaves. She is what makes it, and even then she wasn't what I thought she would be. I'm choosing to clear away certain moments in this show so that she will always be wickedly frozen in my mind. See what I did there? har har

To learn more about IF/THEN, check out the musical's official website here!

To read my first Broadway Review of ONCE, click here!

Please note: this is a new feature dependent on audience feedback about whether you want me to continue it or not.

College Blogging 101: How Commuting Affects Your Blog


College Blogging 101 is a weekly meme hosted by Lili's Reflections where a variety of hosts answer questions and give advice in regards to blogging in college. The purpose of this is to help upcoming college students and to create an open discussion forum. If you would like to write a guest post, please fill out this form. If you have a question you want answered, please fill out this form.

This week's guest post discusses how commuting will affect your blog, as asked by an anonymous questioner. Nelli from The Anti-Trafficking Independence Project. Nelli is a very good friend of mine at college and it's so amazing for me to see my bookish world and my real world colliding in such a positive manner. Unfortunately for me, Nelli is a commuter. I don't get to see her as often as I'd like, but when she told me she wanted to help out with the new meme, I couldn't pass it up! Plus, the post is full of Star Wars gifs!

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How does commuting to college affect your blog?

Commuter life is all about time management.
Depending on your schedule, you adjust sleep, school, and work to accommodate your arrival and departure times. You need to look at bus or train schedules to know what times to frame your daily activities; you also have to factor additional time on bad weather days or technical malfunctions. Those things aren’t easily predicted and tend to happen on days when you need to rush home. I like to think of it this way: the way a person handles a delayed commute reveals their true character. I’ve seen people curse beautifully and throw temper tantrums, while others talk with strangers. It’s easy to assume that commuters are independent and always on the go; but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the time to sit down and enjoy life’s moments. We crave the same amount of affection, respect, and companionship every person gets. It’s just that when we get into “commuter mode”, we really like to catch our bus, train, or ferry. 
 

As a commuter from New Jersey who attends school in New York City, my one hour (and an extra half hour on bad days) commute isn’t as terrible as people think it is. It’s occasionally time consuming and irritating; but life is full of those moments, so I try not to let those things ruin my day. Personally, morning commutes are an ordeal since I’m barely awake and not ready for human interaction at 6AM in the morning. But the best part of early commutes is the sunrise I catch on my way to the city; and I sometimes see people perform random acts of kindness that make life seem more real. Evening commutes are just as jam packed and eventful as morning commutes; but the great thing about them is that since everyone is heading home, people are more subdued since they’re worn out by the long day they had.
I can’t honestly say that I love commuting. I’m not a morning person and I have days when I just want to stay in bed and teleport myself to the city. But besides saving money, commuting’s taught me a lot about time management skills. Since commuting has you frame your personal life around your commuting schedule, it makes you plan ahead for things and also makes you think about your priorities. As a full time student loaded with extracurricular commitments, my priority list goes in the order of academics, extracurricular activities, and blogging. Your list may differ, and that’s okay! We all have a different set of priorities. Once you have your priorities figured out, you’ll know what has a higher importance on your to-do list. From there, you plan your schedule around when you’re most productive and when you would like to take time off, so that you can deduce how much time you’ll need to get things done. Eventhough I’m a grouchy morning person, I’m actually more productive in the morning; therefore, I make sure to get some morning classes so I’m not wasting the day away.  I’m really old fashioned in that I still rely on planners to write down my classes and to-do list, but it’s the best system that works for me. As you get used to your commuting schedule, you figure out along the way the times you work best (or the times you prefer being at school), how to put yourself first, and know who or what is worth missing your next ride. You have to or will sometimes make sacrifices with your priorities - and that’s only because life is something you can’t plan to the last detail. You learn to go with the flow.
When it comes to commuting and school work, the main thing you’ll end up doing (just like with other things) is breaking big tasks into smaller chunks. I sometimes choose to do one or two readings during my commute so that by the time I get to school or home, I can make an outline or free write my thoughts out. Once that’s settled, I set aside 25 minutes to sit down and start the assignment, going along with the outline I made previously. Now you might be wondering, “How is she able to focus for 25 minutes straight without distractions?” I give credit to mytomatoes.com 


I’m not kidding when I tell you mytomatoes.com is the queen of almost all time management solutions. (At least for me, anyway. It depends on your personal study habits.). This amazing website was shared with me by one of my favorite professors at school, and without it I would not have survived last semester’s never ending demand for research papers. The website is used simply as a 25 minute timer: for every 25 minutes of work you do and its successful completion, you write it down and earn a tomato! Obviously the more tomatoes you earn, the more accomplished you’ll feel. You are also allowed to take breaks in-between depending on how long you need. So my routine is to sit down, draft the blog post (or start an assignment), take a break, do some other school work or other things I have to do, and then return to the blog post to add to it or proofread it. It usually takes me at least two days to complete a blog post, since I like to spend a few hours away from the post to avoid overthinking about it. But in essence, the same principle applies: making a to-do list to figure out my assignments and other tasks, prioritizing them by their level of importance, and sitting down to getting the work done with mytomatoes.com. Time flies by so much faster when you’re a commuter; maintaining a schedule or even a to-do list will prevent you from freaking out about lost time. Value your time, and time will love you back for understanding how precious it is.
While mytomatoes.com is one of the biggest reasons I am able to get work done, another thing that’s important to remember is to work when and where you are most productive. Again, as with everything I’ve mentioned, this varies for each person and depends on your study habits. Especially for commuters, I can’t emphasize this enough. Time is already taken away from you because of travel time to and from your destination; why waste the rest of it when you only have a limited amount of hours per day? I have friends who are more productive at night than they are during the day, and some of them work better under pressure. As a commuter, play up to your strengths and be completely honest with your feelings. Just because something sounds like a fabulous idea for others (such as a “group study session” in the library with your closest friends), it doesn’t mean you have to go along with them. Putting yourself first is essential to your happiness. 



Just like with academics, maintaining your blog is a full-time commitment. You need to set aside time to brainstorm, write, and proofread posts, and to think of ways on how to grow your blog. There will be times when inspiration for posts will make you feel you’re at an all-time low; after all, you have other assignments to think about. But inspiration has a way for coming unexpectedly, even just through people watching. It’s easy to get lost in your own world while constantly travelling back and forth between places, but don’t let that have you miss out on the world in front of you. The littlest things can sometimes be the biggest source of inspiration. Keep a small notebook with you to jot down spontaneous ideas, or keep notes on your phone. Don’t let an idea fly away the moment it comes.
While I make dealing with commuting life sound simple and straightforward, I’m not joking when I say the above takes a while to get used to. Eventhough I’ve been commuting for almost two years, I find myself adjusting to some things. Last semester was particularly challenging since it was the first time I had to manage my time between a full course load, extracurricular activity involvement, and two internships. And while I enjoyed everything that happened last semester, it was also difficult because I got sick with huge colds three times, I had mental breakdowns that led to extreme headaches, and several of my friendships were majorly affected. The point of telling you about my amazing yet stressful semester? Because of my not-so-great management skills with my additional responsibilities, I began to feel stressed for no reason and started to blame my commutes for everything. And while commuting is an additional responsibility, it should never become one of your worries. If it comes to that point where you blame your commutes, then that means one of two things: 1. You’re not meant for the commuting life and should stick to dorming or finding a place to live nearby and 2. You need better time management skills. (Please note that the harshness of that statement was not meant to personally insult or offend anyone. It’s just me being shamelessly honest.) Improving my time management skills is something I’m definitely working on this year as I’ll probably be commuting for the rest of my undergraduate years.
I don’t hate commuting. But I don’t exactly love it either. It’s safe to say I have a love-hate relationship with it. There are good days and bad days, but you need a mix of those to keep life interesting. You can’t gain back any lost time, but the journey home (or anywhere) is always a welcome one. 

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Thank you so much, Nelli, for this amazing post! It covered every question I could possibly think of in regards to blogging while being a commuter student! 
Next week's post: I answer the question of managing the English major's workload of required academic reading with pleasure reading.
Next next week's post: Kris from Imaginary Reads discusses how to balance pleasure reading with a heavier than average workload, such as her double major.
Please share your thoughts below! Are you a commuter student? How has blogging affected your life?