Top Ten Series I Can't Wait to Binge

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

Today's topic is a freebie, so I am choosing to attack some series that I can't wait to binge. I've realized that I am just so much better a binging series than waiting for the next book. In no particular order...

1. The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan- I vow to read anything given to me by the author of Percy Jackson, even if it takes a while.

2. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater- I read book one and enjoyed it, but also found myself thoroughly confused...though I attribute this to the fever I was running while reading it. Now that book 4 is out, it's time for a proper binge.

3. The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh- This duology sounds freaking amazing. I don't know what else to say. I'm so excited to have it in my life!

4. The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows- Another duology that everyone raves about. I can't wait to dive in!

5. The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger- I've owned this box set for years, and it's time to dust it off and put it to good use. Carriger is hilarious and witty, and I always love her worlds.

6. The Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter- I loved this series growing up, but I never finished it because my memory grew fuzzy. Time to remedy this mistake.

7. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski- I read book one and championed it, but was told book two had a major cliffy and to hold off until book three's release. Well, now that it's here, I'm ready for it!

8. Off-Campus by Elle Kennedy- Everyone needs a little romance in their lives. I think this will be my serving.

9. Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce- I have read the first book and enjoyed it, but didn't love it. However, the fandom love for this series is ridiculously strong, so I can't wait to get behind it for myself one day!

10. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir- Hello, fantasy. My name is Lili. I know I will love you, and I'm a bit of a dunce for waiting so long to read you.

~*~*~

Have you read any of your series? What did you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Let's Talk About It: Convention Season


2016 is the first year that I am not attending any of the big book conventions. I didn't attend BEA because I was in Europe, I am not currently attending ALA because I have my internships and no money leftover after Europe, and I won't be attending NYCC because I have so much going on in my last semester of school that I simply won't have the time or headspace to handle it.

When these realizations hit me, I was initially really sad. Sure, I'll miss the books, but I'll mostly miss seeing all my bookish people that I typically can only see at conventions. And yes, that sucks. But then I realized I don't really miss the books.

Sure, I asked a few friends to grab me anything that strikes them as a "Lili" book, as I would do for them, but I find myself a bit thankful that I am not attending any conventions this year. I feel an intense obligation and need to read a lot of the books I pick up at conventions, and I also always end up grabbing way too many books at conventions. I never read all of them because I don't have the time and something that sounded interesting six months ago doesn't always seem as interesting to me in the moment.

For the first time in over three years, my shelves have the space to breathe during convention season and I don't find myself freaking out and pushing myself to read constantly because I feel I have to. I am going at my own pace, picking up books as they interest me, and only requesting my friends to grab me books that I know I will love (unless the plot goes horribly awry). 

Such a mindset is hugely refreshing, like a breath of fresh bookish air. I feel so much less stress and no obligation, and I love it.

I can't say I am as sad about missing convention season as I initially was. I simply find myself staying of twitter for a few mental health days instead of fixating on something I can't have. Where's the fun in that?

~*~*~

I used to have major FOMO when it came to convention season, but I feel like I have finally gotten over that. Are you the same or different? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Review: The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: The Fixer #2
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 368 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher For Review
The Kendricks help make the problems of the Washington elite disappear…but some secrets won’t stay buried.

For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington, D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.

Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can—and cannot—be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she's about to discover firsthand that power always comes with a price.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I've got one word to describe my reading experience with this book...Woah. I am sitting there, minding my own business, loving being back in Asher's presence, and Barnes drops one author bomb after the other in rapid fire succcession. Seriously, I saw not one thing in this book coming. It's been over a week and I still can't word.

This is one of the best sequels I have ever read. Not an ounce of sequel syndrome can be found in these pages, and I just can't even human when I think about it because it was so addicting and fast-paced. Talk about how to write a thriller! Somehow Barnes managed to quadruple the high stakes found in the first book in THE LONG GAME, causing us that much more emotional trauma. All I can say is bravo. Bravo for keeping this cast of characters amazing and strong despite all the bad things that happen to them, and for giving us secondary characters (looking at you, Asher and Vivvie) who are worthy of their own series. One big bravo!

I will say there was a developing romance in this one too. It took some really interesting turns--by interesting I mean downright shocking--and I liked the added layer to the story. High stakes in life, in politics, in love, in friendship...you name it, and someone was hella stressing about it in these pages. It's part of the reason why this book was so addicting!

This book is not meant for younger readers. A lot of really intense, dark stuff goes down. I don't want to talk about it without ruining the shockingness (I've decided this is a word!) of it all, but I will say that there are a lot of things left open with this ending in the hope that there will be a third book. Go out, buy this book, read it, become an emotional mess, and buy ten more to force on other people so that we can get that third book!

4.5 stars

~*~Links~*~

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

Lili's Travel Diary #24: London Foodie Guide


In the beginning of my time in London, I severely budgeted myself when it came to eating out. About two months into my time there, I got sick of saying no to food invites. I decided that this was an area that I'd indulge myself in because I'm only here once. As a foodie, I did a lot of fun research looking for places to eat. This has resulted in this huge guide keeping track of all my memorable outings with my thoughts and recommendations! I hope any future world travelers or my British readers will use this foodie guide as a source of future food-related adventures!

It's not the fanciest thing to ever exist, but I sure as heck enjoyed eating my way through London and thought this would be kind of fun.

~*~*~
  • Balls & Co- This is a meatball restaurant, and I was really excited to go to it mostly because they had a vegetarian meatball dish made out of quinoa, beetroot, and feta! I really enjoyed them, though they're a bit overpriced so I do not see myself rushing back. This is a cute little destination perfect for a date night. Part of the appeal for me, really, was the whole vegetarian meatball thing. Make sure to request their complimentary parsnip crisps when you sit down because they are TO DIE FOR.
  • Borough Market- This is a market meant more for unique eats. I am a fan of the vegetarian Ethiopian stand, fresh fruit stand, home-made pasta stand that I can grab my spinach pasta from, the fresh cheese stands with all the free samples, and the Indian stand that has these fried onion things that are absolutely to die for. This is the market to go to if you want to stock up the kitchen or eat some street food that's a little more unique!
  • Camden Market- The best part about Camden Market is that if you want it, it is there whether it be food or clothing. I LOVE the pasta station here, but also the halloumi wraps, crepe pizza, and freshly squeezed orange juice. A little bit of everything, though it gets super packed on the weekends. 
  • Cereal Killer Cafe- This is a cafe that serves nothing but cereal. It was amazing for me because I went at my half way point here in London, so I was really craving the sugary goodness of American cereal. I noshed on the discontinued french toast crunch cereal and also some cinnamon toast crunch cereal. The best part about this adventure, though, was the stacked hot chocolate...coming in four different flavors, these gargantuan drinks will make any hot chocolate lover swoon. They cater to people with lactose intolerance and dairy allergies, which is a plus as well. If you manage to stop by, I recommend their Camden location over their Brick Lane location.
  • Chipotle- I am only putting this on here because I think UK chipotle is better than US chipotle. The guac is made with Spanish avocadoes so it is A+ and the food tastes so much fresher. I will never look at US chipotle the same again.  
  • Cutter and Squidge's Bakery- This bakery is famous for their biskies which is like a cupcake, cake, brownie, cookie combination. They're really expensive for a tiny desert and not that great. I would instead drop the money on the slightly more expensive but 100% delectable cakes because they are huge and absolutely delicious.  
  • Dishoom- This is a premiere Indian restaurant chain in London that I absolutely adored and it has a Bombay twist. The lines can get absolutely ridiculous and wrap around for blocks, so be sure to save yourself the hassle and make a reservation. I have gone for both brunch and dinner and I am all over it. This is the chain I miss the most.
  • Gourmet Burger Kitchen- LOVE ME SOME GBK! One of the best veggie burgers I have ever had, the Californian, is here. It's a bean burger made up of three different kinds of whole beans with avocado, lettuce, onion, cheese, and a chipotle sauce. My mouth waters just thinking about it. They also have a falafel base for vegetarians and an exclusive summer vegetarian menu. Their non-vegetarian menu is incredibly extensive, and if one of their burger combinations sounds more enticing you can replace the patty with a veggie patty too! I miss this place. 
  • Holmes Fish & Chips- I know you can seek out many fish and chip shops in London, but this one is my favorite. It's on Baker Street, feeding into the Sherlock Holmes fame of it, and was within walking distance of my dorm. I don't eat fish, so I pretty much go for the fish. And for less than three dollars I could get a double size order of vinegar chips and mayo. The guys there loved me so much that they even gave me discounts sometimes, which was wonderful. It was fun to have my own place, you know?
  • Hummus Bros- Avoid the Soho location due to hiked prices, but it's a hummus restaurant. Wraps, bowls, chips and dip...you name it and they do it. They also introduced me to a hummus guac combo that I am now slightly obsessed with. 
  • Ma Pluckers- This is a fried chicken restaurant with crazy popular reviews for its meat-based products. Yeah, I know, what was a vegetarian doing at a fried chicken restaurant? Well, they had a vegetarian supplement for chicken and waffles: fried halloumi cheese and waffles. DELICIOUS and cheap at only 4.5 pounds. And because I am a macaroni and cheese lover, I also had to indulge in their crack'n'cheez: a fried ball of macaroni and cheesy goodness that could have, honestly, served as its own meal. Once again, this macaroni and cheese dish is among London's best according to Buzzfeed.  
  • Maxwell's Bar and Grill- I went to Maxwell's on a mission: have a freakshake. They did not disappoint! They switch up their flavors each week, so you always have to ask the waiter what are the current flavors. They'll set you back 7 pounds a piece, but they are so large they can act as a full meal. They also have Monday Madness where everything on the menu is half off! Wonderful for us broke uni students. 
  • Melt Room- Super cheap by London's standards, you can get a grilled cheese classic or with the works for 4-7 pounds. This is a grilled cheese shop owned be a New Yorker in the heart of London. I went hard and got a macaroni and cheese grilled cheese. Holy cow, my love for this sandwhich knows no bounds. 
  • Mestizo's- I chose this restaurant for my 21st birthday dinner because I have been seriously craving Mexican food. It satisfied my craving, but still can't measure up to the Mexican food I can find in the US. I will say it is among the best I have had since coming here, though. I also was unaware of their *ahem* birthday traditions when I picked this restaurant. Unfortunately, these videos will exist forever.
  • My Old Dutch- This is a British pancake house, meaning it is a creperie. On Mondays everything on the menu was only five pounds (less than 8 dollars!). The crepes are, like, seven times the size of your head, and super filling. I am a fan of both the savory and the sweet. I loved the apple and cinnamon sweet crepe with ice cream and the eggs Florentine savory crepe.
  • Nandos- The chicken restaurant that everyone seems to be obsessed with. I am obsessed with all their sides and I love their caesar salads. Their veggie burgers aren't terrible, but not the best. Either way, every time I stepped foot in here I had to grab myself an order of peri-salted chips. I couldn't not have them. They are literally addicting. I hear there are a few Nandos here in the states in the Washington DC area, but that they have nothing but chicken and no vegetarian options. SO SAD :(
  • Prezzo's- This is an Italian chain here in London. A wee bit expensive, but not terrible for uni students. I went here for a friend's birthday because she enjoys it! It is at this restaurant that I realized no matter what, Italian food here is not as good as in the states. And, seriously, I am struggling to find some properly done pesto! 
  • Rabot 1745- We went here for my friend's brithday brunch. It is a chocolate restaurant! It's a bit pricy because, well, they somehow manage to put chocolate into everything (my toast had chocolate nib butter and my house chips had cacao ketchup), but it's nice for a celebration. You must try a hot chocolate!
  • The Diner- This is an American-style diner chain in Central London that I adore. The prices aren't terrible, their macaroni and cheese is among some of the best in London (according to Buzzfeed), and they have a special line for hard milkshakes and hard teas for those of us that are 18 and over.
  • Tortilla- The UK version of Chipotle that is slightly cheaper. Some people tend to have a preference for one or the other, but I just ate at whichever one I was closer to in the moment. The food is relatively the same, to be honest. At least, in my opinion it is.
  • Wahaca- This is a Mexican chain in the UK created by an ex Top Chef contestant. IT IS SO GOOD! Mexican is hard to come by in the UK, so this is some of the best I found. You order in little plates...so the typical person has 2-4 different things depending on how hungry they are. They have a ridiculous number of vegetarian options that I was all over, which was wonderful. Mexican food isn't always conducive to vegetarianism. I am going to miss this place!
  • Whetherspoon's Pubs- Pitchers of mixed drinks for 6-8 pounds, meals for 4-6 pounds for the most part. Decent pub fare, not OMG worthy, but it's cheap and satisfactory and there are many of them. 
 ~*~*~
 
Have you ever eaten at any of these places? This list is making me miss London food! It is just so much healthier and yummier...minus the lack of salt! haha

Waiting on Wednesday #74

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

My pick of the week is...
Metaltown by Kristen Simmons

Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen
Reading Level: Young Adult
Metaltown, where factories rule, food is scarce, and hope is in short supply.

The rules of Metaltown are simple: Work hard, keep your head down, and watch your back. You look out for number one, and no one knows that better than Ty. She’s been surviving on the factory line as long as she can remember. But now Ty has Colin. She’s no longer alone; it’s the two of them against the world. That’s something even a town this brutal can’t take away from her. Until it does.

Lena’s future depends on her family’s factory, a beast that demands a ruthless master, and Lena is prepared to be as ruthless as it takes if it means finally proving herself to her father. But when a chance encounter with Colin, a dreamer despite his circumstances, exposes Lena to the consequences of her actions, she’ll risk everything to do what’s right.

In Lena, Ty sees an heiress with a chip on her shoulder. Colin sees something more. In a world of disease and war, tragedy and betrayal, allies and enemies, all three of them must learn that challenging what they thought was true can change all the rules.

An enthralling story of friendship and rebellion, Metaltown will have you believing in the power of hope.

Why I Am Waiting 

I have devoured everything that Kristen Simmons has written, but this book looks awesome! While I enjoyed THE GLASS ARROW, I liked the ARTICLE FIVE trilogy more, so I cannot wait to see what this one has in store because the synopsis is screaming my name!!!! I don't know anyone who ISN'T excited for this one. Plus, who doesn't love a story with a strong friendship?

~*~*~

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 Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of the Year

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

There are so many amazing sounding books coming out in the rest of the year! It was so hard to pick just ten! You know...aside from this one:



In no particular order...

~*~*~

1. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab- It's Queen Schwab, do I really need to say anything else?
2. The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon- Yoon's debut novel wowed me in unexplainable ways, so I am so excited for her sophomore novel!

3. The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid- I have loved Kincaid since INSIGNIA came out, but this book sounds RIDICULOUS in the best way possible.
4. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff- Forget the gorgeous cover, just look at the synopsis and begin dying in anticipation alongside me.

5. Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige- Hi fairytale retelling, please sign me up.
6. Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge Oh wait, another fairytale retelling by a seasoned pro that has a tendency to skew towards the dark side? Sign me up x2.
7. Heartless by Marissa Meyer- Another fairytale retelling by a seasoned pro that skews dark?! Sign me the heck up x3.

8. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake- Blake is amazing when it comes to dakr atmospheres, and I happen to be a huge sucker for dark atmospheres.
9. Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter- A Russian fairytale?! ALL OF THE YES!
10. PS I Like You by Kasie West- There is nothing like a fluffy Kasie West contemporary.

Bonus 1: Caraval by Stephanie Garber- I know the book doesn't come out until early January, but I am counting it because it's probably the book I am most excited for.
Bonus 2: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi- I have already read this one, so I suppose it does not count. In case you're wondering, I loved it.

~*~*~

Are you eagerly anticipating any of these? Do you have any recommendations for me? Comment below with your thoughts and links to your own post!

First Day Anxiety


I was recently invited to join a series of panels on student success at my university. I have, unfortunately, chosen not to participate because they overlap with some of my working times and interning is my priority at this moment, but I've been thinking a lot about what I would say on those panels. I was recommended to the organizers by one of my bosses due to my experience. Most of our success stories stem from our performing arts department (Hey, Bardley Cooper!) or our business school who sign ridiculous entry level contracts months--sometimes even years--before they even graduate and incite envy in us all. That's not how arts industries work, you know?

Because of this, they don't really feature many English majors on these panels. My boss looked at me and was like, "you belong up there." So far I have had 7 internships in 6 semesters, I have studied abroad for 5 months, I have kept and advanced in an on-campus job for three years, am working on my thesis and honors requirements, and I am somehow managing to do all of this while graduating a semester early in December and remaining a Top 100 Scholar at my University.

I'll be honest, I never felt so dang proud of myself until someone else pointed out my accomplishments to me. And then, you know, I realized I am absolutely insane because I willingly put myself through all of this I repeat: I. Am. Insane. Driven, but insane.


I don't really know what I would do on these panels, either. My advice typically stems from "be yourself and show them how much you want this" to "seek out opportunities where you think you belong." You know, the obvious and relatively cliche stuff that is entirely true and has gotten me this far. The "nowhere to go but up" attitude that I have adopted to get me by.

And, I suppose, I would share about my anxiety. Before I start a new job of any kind, especially an internship, I tend to stay at home and become a nervous/excited mess. I don't get a lot of sleep, I prepare myself mentally, and I go in as an awkward mess. Seriously, I am the most awkward person ever and I don't think I'll ever fully overcome this. My first day, even if I know my bosses and love them to pieces, is always me hiding my anxiety because it's something new...a new group of people to impress with new tasks. Sure, they saw something in me and hired me for a reason, but that doesn't calm my nerves.

This has happened a lot over the past few years because I've had so many internships, and it doesn't get any easier for me. I don't think it ever will. Because, in the end, I think my nervous anxiety is a good thing. It reminds me just how much I wanted this, and makes me want to impress everyone even more. It never allows me to walk in comfortable, it forces me to carve out my niche of comfort as I grow with the company. It keeps me on my toes...ready, willing, and able to try new things. It never lets my ego grow because each position is like the first all over again. I am confident in my abilities, but that doesn't lessen any anxiety about the unknown. It does, however, make it fun to explore the unknown and gain more skills.

Do I wish I was less awkward? Sure. But, I suppose, it's simply who I am, and I like who I am, even if I am an insane, anxious, nervous wreck every time I start a new job. Just own it.

~*~*~

Does anyone else get really anxious when starting a new position? How do you handle it? I just kinda roll on in and take it one step at a time.

[A Slightly Late] May Monthly Recap


~*~On The Blog~*~
A week too late, but at least it is up!

May has been a ridiculous month for me...I returned home from Europe, which was hugely emotional to me. I began to readjust to being back in the states, only to take off to Disney. I am exhausted and missing Europe, and it's been a rough transition back, but I am excited to start my internships!

Books Reviewed:
My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows - 5 stars
The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury - 4 stars
Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell - 3 stars

Books Read These 2 Months:
I have challenged myself to read 75 books this year, let's see if I can! I'll be keeping track in this section.
16. Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell (Paperback: 62 pages)
17. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (ARC: 668 pages)
18. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (Paperback: 410 pages)
19. Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi (ARC: 395 pages)
    DNF's of the month 
    1. None
    Total Pages Read This Month: 1,535 pages
    Total Pages Read This Year: 4,045 pages
    Total Books Read This Year: 19
    Total Books DNF'd This Year: 0
    Giveaways:
    • I was part of several blog tours featuring giveaways in this month, but unfortunately, they are no longer running.
    Lili's Travel Diary:
    Discussion Posts:
    Guest Posts and Bonus Content:
    • John Corey Whaley stopped by to talk about teen anxiety on the blog tour for his book, Highly Illogical Behavior!
    ~*~What I've Been Watching~*~

    West End Shows:
    • I saw a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in The New Globe Theatre and died. This show is weird, but it was hilarious. The production modernized it, throwing in some Beyonce and Shakira lyrics where they'd fit, and it was so worth it for under ten dollars.
    • I also saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the West End. I booked the tickets before it was announced that it would be coming to Broadway, but I will definitely be seeing it here in the US as well. We got upgraded to front row mezzanine and I loved every minute of it!
    TV:
    • Survivor ended. I don't have much to say aside from the fact that I am happy Tai did not win, though I think we all know Aubry deserved that check and Michelle did not.
    • The Amazing Race also ended. I AM SO MAD THAT THE DANCERS WON. I really do not like Dana and they're in a toxic relationship. GAH
    • I fell a little behind on Orphan Black because I have been so busy and lost my UK Netflix now that I am back in the states, so I have to catch up soon.
    • The Bachelorette premiered and I have to say that this group of guys kind of annoys me? There's super-villains and a ton of "heroes" and I just don't like them. Aaron Rodgers' little brother? Give me a break, fame seeker.
    • I've recently become addicted to RuPaul's Drag Race. I am so happy with the way seasons six and seven turned out, and I'll be completing season eight soon! Just so funny and so much fun to watch!
    Movies: 
    • I saw Captain America: Civil War in cinemas in London and I really enjoyed it. It's not my favorite, and I would have liked more focus on Cap for the final movie in his personal trilogy, but it definitely advanced the plot. I am just so happy they didn't stay true to the comic books in this one.
    • I noticed The Spectacular Now on tv and finally watched it. I love Miles Teller and he and Shailene had ridiculous chemistry. I haven't read the book, but I was satisfied by the movie. It had a distinctly indie feel to it.
    • Joy was one of the movies on my flight home, so I watched it because she actually graduated from my university. She even gave the commencement speech at this May's graduation. I love Jennifer Lawrence, so there's no surprise that I loved this movie. GIVE ME ALL THE JLAW AND BRADLEY COOPER COLLABORATIONS PLEASE!
    • The Scorch Trials was only part of my in flight entertainment. My sister is obsessed with Dashner, so I watched to be able to talk to her. I haven't read this book so the movie was full of surprises, but I did really enjoy it! So many twists and turns, so much Dylan O'Brien <3.

    ~*~Reading Challenges~*~

    Fairytale Retelling Challenge:
    1/10 Completed
    • The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
    Flights of Fantasy Challenge:
    6/30 Completed 
    • Remembrance by Meg Cabot
    • A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
    • Perijee & Me by Ross Montgomery 
    • The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
    • Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
    • Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
    Contemporary Reading Challenge:
    4/16 Completed
    • Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
    • When We Collided by Emery Lord
    • Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell 
    • Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
    Backlist Books Challenge:
    9/12 Completed
    • Edward II by Christopher Marlowe
    • King Henry IV Part 1 by William Shakespeare 
    • The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
    • A Woman Killed with Kindness by Thomas Heywood
    • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
    • 'Tis Pity She's A Whore by John Ford
    • As You Like It by William Shakespeare
    • The Knight of the Burning Pestle by Francis Beaumont
    • Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare
    Contemporary Romance Challenge:
    0/6 Completed
    • not yet
    Finishing The Series Challenge:
    1/7 Completed
      • The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot
      ~*~Around London~*~
      I am no longer in Europe, and it hurts to write this post. :( I miss it.

      Countries
      I came to England with the goal of exploring 10 countries. Let's see if it happens.
      12/10 unlocked.
      • England- Though I have been here when I was 12, I am counting this because it is my home base and I plan on exploring the heck out of it.
      • Wales- I know this is not technically its own country, but I am considering it to be one for the sake of my travels. Lots of sheep, lots of rain, an interesting 24 hours.
      • Scotland- I spent the weekend leading into my birthday here and I had an absolute blast. I met some awesome people, saw some awesome sights, and got to ring in 21 in style.
      • France- Lots of drama this trip, but also a lot of learning about myself and falling in love with my new bestie, Eiffel. I am glad that I went on this trip, but I couldn't spend an extended period of time in this city. I didn't love it as much as I was hoping to.
      • Switzerland- I visited three different cities in a 4 day period in Switzerland and had an absolute blast being able to reconnect with an old co-blogger. Jenn made this trip so worth it, even if it was freezing and snowy at times.
      • Germany- Probably my second favorite trip of this entire adventure. I spent 2 days in Munich and 2 days in Berlin on a solo adventure to learn about myself and it was one of the most fun things I have ever done.
      • Denmark- I spent two days in Copenhagen and it was so fun! I am happy I went, but there's not a lot to do there. I couldn't imagine spending a very long period there.
      • The Netherlands- It was very rainy during my excursion there, but it was wonderful seeing Marieke and eating lots of yummy food <3 10/10 would recommend a weekend trip to Amsterdam for sure!
      • Spain- I spent a full six days in Spain, more days in any location except for London, and I already know that I need to go back in life one day. There is still so much left to see, but damn, did I love that country.
      • Portugal- I only spent two days in Portugal, but I know I have to go back one day. So much left to see of this beautiful culture.
      • Czech Republic- I loved this country. I want to go back one day, even if Prague is so small.
      • Ireland- So much beauty, so much pretty, so much fun. I could spend a long while exploring Ireland.
      Cities
      I want to explore England just as much as I want to explore Europe, so I am taking some day trips! My goal is to hit up at least 7 British cities because I believe that's an easily obtainable number.
      7/7 unlocked.
      • Cambridge- I got to see Ashley in Cambridge, which in and of itself is a highlight. This is a beautiful town, but we went on a Saturday where not many colleges were open, so it was a bit hard to properly tourist. Either way, I loved the environment and seeing a friend is so, so worth the trip.
      • Stratford-Upon-Avon- This was a beautiful little town, very nice for a day trip but nothing more. There's not a lot to do and it gets boring rather quickly, even for Shakespeare fans myself, but seeing a Royal Shakespeare Company production is definitely one of the highlights of this study abroad experience for me.
      • Windsor- We stopped in Windsor on our way to Oxford. I am counting this gem of a town because we spent about two hours there and nearly the entire time I stood there staring at the Castle in awe.
      • Oxford- I loved this literary city. Sure, some of the sights I wanted to see may have been closed. I got to see you Bodleian Library, but unfortunately I did not get to tour you :(. Either way, I had an absolute blast on this day trip. Plus, the Oxford Yik Yak game is on point!
      • Salisbury- An important name until you realize Stonehenge is located there! So cool! So happy I went, even if it's a place you can only spend about an hour of your time at.
      • Bath- Such a peaceful city! I loved exploring The Roman Baths which totally didn't smell as bad as I was expecting them to. And then I just did some exploring around the area, had some delicious ice cream, and even played a round of mini golf with a cute guy. All in all a great trip. 
      • Manchester- I got to see my friend Cait before I left, so I explored this quiet city for a day with a friend and loved every minute of it. So much cool architecture, so many museums. What a nice little city.
      Sights Seen
      • Museums: The British Museum, The Tate Modern, The Natural History Museum, The National Gallery, Sherlock Holmes Museum, The British Library, Victoria and Albert
      • British History: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, The Tower of London, Kensington Palace, The Globe Theatre, Stonehenge, Hampton Court Palace, Houses of Parliament, The Churchill War Rooms, Westminster Abbey, Saint Paul's Cathedral
      • Parks: Hyde Park, Regent's Park, Green Park, St. James Park, Primrose Hill
      • Theater: The Master Builder, Matilda, In The Heights, Guys and Dolls, Miss Atomic Bomb, Hamlet, Billy Elliott, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
      • Random Fun: The Shard, Borough Market, Camden Market, Oxford Street, The Globe, The London Eye, Warner Brothers Studio Tour
      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

      Top Ten Reasons I Love New York City

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

      I have been struggling to readjust to being home after being gone for so long. Everything is the same, but it's simultaneously different. One cat lost a ton of weight while the other cat gained it. A small restaurant on the corner changed its name. Roads are closed for construction so I can't remember how to get places. I have to build a routine that I so comfortably lived in before leaving that I don't entirely remember. So, because of this, I am not making this a bookish post but a post about being home because it reflects what has been on my mind lately.

      ~*~*~

      1. Land of Opportunity- New York City has given be a ridiculous amount of work experience, but it's also given me the ability to explore. I mean, I am starting to work at Nickelodeon as you read this post. How crazy is that?! If you told 12 year old me from a small town in New Jersey that this would be my future, I'd probably laugh in your face. It's crazy awesome, and I am so thankful for it.

      2. Getting Lost in a Crowd- I consider myself to be an ambivert, meaning that I exhibit qualities of extroversion and introversion simultaneously. Because of this, I like to be alone but I don't at the same time. I love that I can walk outside to a park and be alone among millions of people. It relaxes me.

      3. Diversity- My hometown is not ridiculously diverse and that's something I was really unhappy with growing up. We had the tiniest bit of religious diversity, but very little when it came to open sexuality or race. I made sure to go to college in a city where that wasn't the case because my tiny bubble of a hometown is not indicative of the real world. NYC has opened me up to many people I never would have met at home, and I am so thankful for that.

      4. Openness- NYC has taught me to be open to my peers. While I am, at times, solitary, I also love my friends, but my best friends are people I never would have imagined because we are all so different: a finance major that just landed a major position with Chubb insurance, a girl dedicating her life to the Olympics, a girl who is going into bridal marketing one day, the next big music manager, a world traveler who managed to graduate in three years, a girl who is KILLING THE GAME and had so many job offers she turned down Google, and only one fellow book nerd in Dana. I would typically keep to my people, and NYC has taught me that the best people aren't always similar to you. I actually can only name two English majors that I am close to, which is not something indicative of the person I entered college as.

      5. High Minimum Wage- THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! KEEP RAISING IT WORLD! I SUPPORT THIS! More monies than New Jersey, yes.

      6. The Subway System- This sounds so silly, but as someone who hates driving I am so thankful for the opportunity to hop on mass transit and get anywhere I want to go for under three dollars, no matter how far I travel. Plus, it runs twenty-four hours a day! After living in London, I am so thankful for our cheap subway fares and ability to never have to worry about getting home if our show lets out too late.

      7. Publishing Capital of the World- I am so thankful that the industry I have found myself in is headquartered in New York City. The signings, author events, conventions, and panels that occur here because of this are ridiculously amazing, and it helps me shape my future and meet my fellow nerds in ways I am extremely thankful for.

      8. Independence- Living in such a wild city means that I've really learned to be independent. While I naturally find myself leaning on my parents when I need them, I know how to fend for myself, and I am proud of the person I have become because of this. As cliche as it is, it excites me to be a young twenty something independent woman in NYC.

      9. Foodie Exploration Galore- As a vegetarian, I am limited food-wise at times. Not in New York City. And, even better, NYC is an amazing place for vegetarianism foodie exploration. Vegan sushi? You got it. The best veggie burgers I've ever had? Go for it. Vegan meat products? Sign me up for that protein, yo! You name it, I can probably find it here. I've learned to appreciate good food, and its worth dropping the money on if you can find something deliciously unique.

      10. The Ability To Do Anything- I can step outside and do anything. Eat, see a concert, go to Broadway, hit up the beach, see a friend, go out dancing, take some classes. You name it, I can do it without having to travel more than an hour. I love that I don't always know what my days consist of, which makes each day freaking awesome.

      ~*~*~

      Have you ever been to NYC? What did you think? Do you love it as much as I do? Comment below with your thoughts, and don't forget to share your own TTT post! <3

      Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

      Series: The Dark Artifices #1
      Publication Date: March 8, 2016
      Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
      Reading Level: Young Adult
      Pages: 668 (ARC)
      Source: Borrowed from friends
      In a kingdom by the sea…

      In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

      A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

      Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

      Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

      The darkly magical world of Shadowhunters has captured the imaginations of millions of readers across the globe. Join the adventure in Lady Midnight, the long-awaited first volume of a new trilogy from Cassandra Clare.

      ~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

      When I first borrowed LADY MIDNIGHT from a friend, I was extremely concerned. I was still in London and this book is a brick. It's more than a brick...it's a potential murder weapon it's so big. I read so little while abroad, so I thought realistically this book would never be finished. Well, several held trains and conveniently placed airplane rides later, I managed to finish this behemoth in less than six days. And, I have to say, I am satisfied with what I read.

      Clare falls into her usual recapping habits, which means reiterating nearly everything that happened previously in a very obvious way. As someone who hasn't read the last three books in The Mortal Instruments because I found myself satisfied with the original trilogy, she cleared up a lot of things I missed. Super appreciated and convenient for readers like myself, but I can also see it dragging a bit for readers who did read all the TMI books because of how repetitive it was for someone who didn't. With that being said, I do not think it's crucial to have read the TMI books and TID books before reading this new trilogy, but the prior knowledge I have from reading them definitely helped me put things into perspective and understand circumstances a little better.

      I will admit that she delivers a really strong female heroine in Emma Carstairs (a female who is just as strong as Jace, ya'll!), which was lovely. And an equally strong male in Jules Blackthorn, who is just as strong emotionally as he is physically. It's refreshing to see a Shadowhunter that is so ridiculously layered. I feel as if throughout Clare's many novels, her characterization skills have grown and I find myself really intrigued by this group of characters, especially the multi-faceted Blackthorn family that I can't get enough of. They all stand apart, but I have an extreme fascination for Mark specifically. Then there's also the fact that Jules and Emma are parabatai, but also in love, so it's interesting to see her exploration of forbidden love despite it being a trope that Clare has explored before. She seems drawn to such things, and since she's implementing it in a new way, I'm curious to see what happens in book two.

      My one frustration with this book is the villain. Dastardly and interesting, yes, but once everything was put together I had trouble believing that this entire crazy plot was put into effect for the reasons it was. Furthermore, we spend hundreds and hundreds of pages agonizing over this villain's identity and then suddenly--BOOM!--it clicks due to the smallest hint of a detail. It's just too conveniently timed, made a bit more inexcusable by the fact that I figured out who the villain was significantly earlier since it made absolutely no sense that it could be anyone else.

      Bonus points for the little bonus chapter at the end throwing us back to everyone's favorite couple. So full of cliches, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I wasn't happy to re-visit some old friends.

      All in all, this book is a-typical of Clare's style, but shows her growth as an author. Better characterization, lots of cliches, a villain that is simultaneously fascinating and lacking, murder, mayhem, forbidden love, many appearances by old characters, and lots of things going bump in the night. Clare's recipe for success gives us yet another new trilogy that I think readers will adore, and I am curious to see what will happen next.

      3.75 stars

      ~*~Links~*~

      Waiting on Wednesday #73

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

      My pick of the week is...
      Caraval by Stephanie Garber

      Publication Date: January 10, 2017
      Publisher: Flatiron Books
      Reading Level: Young Adult
      Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

      Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

      Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

      Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

      Why I Am Waiting 

      Ignore the fact that this isn't the best cover and instead zero in on that synopsis. That gorgeously enticing synopsis for any devoted fantasy reader like yours truly. Focus on it, breathe it, AND GET SUPER FREAKING EXCITED FOR IT! This is probably one of the books I am most eagerly anticipating right now, and I need it in my hands, like, yesterday. This debut promises to be killer, and I am so so so so so ready for it. I can't believe I am saying this, but can it be 2017 already?!

      ~*~*~

      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!