July Monthly Recap

~*~On The Blog~*~
July literally flew by! To the point where my Dad and I forgot to buy my August train pass because we looked up and were like, "oh...August starts on Monday." It's just crazy. It's been way too hot, leading to a lot of headaches on my part (I am such an old lady!), so I didn't get as much reading in as I would have liked, but I had a good month all the same. The exhaustion is real though. All too real.

Books Reviewed:
The Deal by Elle Kennedy - 5 stars
The Score by Elle Kennedy - 4.5 stars
The Mistake by Elle Kennedy - 4 stars
The Graces by Laure Eve - 1 star

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.
26. The Score by Elle Kennedy (eBook: 361 pages)
27. The Diabolic by SJ Kincaid (ARC: 403 pages)
28. Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine (Hardcover: 350 pages)
29. Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer (ARC: 391 pages)
30. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (eARC: 437 pages)

    DNF's of the month 
    1. None
    Total Pages Read This Month: 1,942 pages
    Total Pages Read This Year: 8,161 pages
    Total Books Read This Year: 30
    Total Books DNF'd This Year: 0

    Discussion Posts:
    ~*~What I've Been Watching~*~

    Broadway Shows:
    • My Aunt bought tickets for us to see WAITRESS as a belated birthday present to me. We both adored it and I died of laughter and even teared up at one point. This was definitely an amazing show to treat as my first Broadway performance since returning from Europe.
    TV:
    • Big Brother is still controlling my summer as it has for the past several years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. However, will that be sooner than usual with this upcoming fall?! I hope so! Pull a Survivor and have 2 seasons a year, please! (Also, get rid of Bridgette, Da'Vonne, and Michelle because they all annoy me. Okay thanks, bye).
    • I am an idiot that didn't realize The Challenge: Rivals III was on air so I binged the season and I am so ready for the final episode next week! I want Bananas and Sarah to win because they're working together the best, but dang, I hope nobody takes the prize for themselves. It would really disgust me if they did. Also, I want Jenna to come in second because I am sick of Vince blaming her for failures when he's decently sucky at times too. 
    • I am currently obsessed with The Great British Baking Show. Stay tuned for more information about that when the time comes!
    • I've been religiously watching anything on Nickelodeon for work, so many shows I can't name them all. What an amazing network to work for <3 Passing out while watching The Splat every night is making my nostalgia go on full blast.
    Movies: 
    • I saw The BFG and I freaking adored it. Like, quoted the book out loud while characters spoke obsessed. Mark Rylance did amazing and adapting one of my childhood ultimate faves to screen was so, so amazing. It is everything I didn't know I wanted.
    • Shortly after seeing the aforementioned movie, I also saw Finding Dory in a double movie day due to rain. I NEED A BABY DORY IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW! Again, the nostalgia was real and I adored this movie. Was it better than the first? No. Let's be honest, it would be impossible to top that. But was it well worth the money? Yes.
    • My Dad rarely comes to the cinema with me, so it was a big deal that he saw Star Trek: Beyond with me. It was super enjoyable, but not as good as its predecessor in Into Darkness. It felt like there was a plot that they took actual scenes out of because the movie was already long enough, and it was missing something because of that. So sad, but true. But the action sequences were amazing and Bones was a serious standout!

    ~*~Reading Challenges~*~

    Fairytale Retelling Challenge:
    2/10 Completed
    • The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
    • Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige
    Flights of Fantasy Challenge:
    11/30 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 
    • The Graces by Laure Eve
    • Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige 
    • The Diabolic by SJ Kincaid
    • Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine
    • Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
    Contemporary Reading Challenge:
    10/16 Completed
    • Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
    • When We Collided by Emery Lord
    • Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell 
    • Radio Silence by Alice Oseman 
    • The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
    • 738 Days by Stacey Kade
    • The Deal by Elle Kennedy
    • The Mistake by Elle Kennedy
    • The Score by Elle Kennedy
    • Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
    Backlist Books Challenge:
    11/12 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
    • The Deal by Elle Kennedy
    • The Mistake by Elle Kennedy
    Contemporary Romance Challenge:
    4/6 Completed
    • 738 Days by Stacey Kade
    • The Deal by Elle Kennedy
    • The Mistake by Elle Kennedy
    • The Score by Elle Kennedy
    Finishing The Series Challenge:
    1/7 Completed
      • The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot
        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

        Where do you get your reading habits?


        I think it is safe to say that most members of this community are prolific readers. We read more than the average person, are probably responsible for single-handedly keeping the industry alive because all we do is buy books, and can quote entire passages of our faves back to you without blinking an eye. In other words, we are the best people around and we own the world. Really, we've just discovered the power of reading and have never been able to let that epiphany go.


        This makes me wonder...where do we get our reading habits?

        Years ago, when I did a photography project for a class taking pictures of people reading their favorite books, I learned my Dad's favorite author was Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged. I was a little shocked just because I never pegged him for that type of reader. In truth, my Dad is barely a reader at all, so the fact that he had a definitive favorite book was a little surprising, too. Suffice to say, I do not get my reading habits from him, though he respects my love of books and let's me indulge in it endlessly...even if it means that there are random piles of books littered all around his apartment. If you ask me, it gives his home some character.


        My Mom, on the other hand, was once a major reader, though not in my lifetime. We have books everywhere and boxes upon boxes of books in the attic that belong to her. However, she's more of a mainstream reader. She has a lot of James Patterson (seriously convinced she owned every book he ever wrote up until a certain year) and lots of women's lit authors like Nora Ephron. She's also slightly judgmental of reading YA books for herself, which is frustrating for me but whatever floats her boat, right? She rarely reads now, but she once did.

        I think she was just happy to have a child that obsessed over books growing up instead of clothes or jewelry or boys.


        So, I think it's safe to say that I get my love of reading from my Mom. I remember growing up with Junie B. Jones and Nancy Drew because she wanted me to, though it was my Dad who first put a Harry Potter book in my hands, to be honest. However, I get my reading habits from neither of them. My preference for YA is not something either understands for themselves, though they both support. I choose to attribute this to the fact that YA wasn't really around when they were young adults themselves. They don't get what it's like to juggle 7 books at once as a 17 year old because they all come out at the same time and are just so dang good!


        Furthermore, my preference for fantasy is just lost on them. The few times I have ever seen my father with a book in his hand it has been sports related non-fiction, law related, religion related, or something like a murder mystery. My Mom likes mainstream bestsellers and women's fiction. And I prefer YA fantasy to anything else. This habit, I think, comes from the escapism methods I created for myself when it came to reading. If I am taking a break from reality, I am literally going to take a break from this world and teleport myself somewhere else, ya dig? That's not to say I don't read contemporary because I do, but I do find myself reading more fantasy than anything else.


        So, I wouldn't be the reader I am today if not for them, but I sure as hell will never be a reader like them. haha

        ~*~*~

        Where do you get your reading habits from? Are they kinda unique to your family like mine are, or are you able to talk to your relatives about the books you read because they read that way, too? I'd love to hear your stories below! As always, comments are always appreciated. <3

        Top Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want To Do After Reading

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

        I adore this topic, and I had so much fun putting this list together!

        1. Travel- I first read 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson during the one summer I spent at sleep-away camp. I recently satisfied this dream by spending 5.5 months in Europe, but it's now a dream that will never truly be satisfied. I always need more.

        2. Run a marathon- Reading Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally made me want to learn how to run in general, not just run a marathon. It would help if my coach was a really cute boy, though.

        3. Shoot a bow and arrow- I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for the first time in middle school. I realized I desperately needed to shoot a bow and arrow if I ever wanted a chance to survive a zombie apocalypse because ya girl is defenseless. Plus, Katniss is freaking awesome.

        4. Learn to paint- When I read When We Collided by Emery Lord, I was overcome with the desire to learn how to paint. Art is such a beautiful way to express yourself and get your emotions out, and I have not an artistic bone in my body. Perhaps when I have a job one day I'll take a painting class or two.

        5. Talk to ghosts- I am firmly in camp "ghosts exist" and after I read The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot I realized just how much I'd love to talk to nice ghosts instead of the freaky ones that scared me in The Tower of London when I was 12.

        6. Wait in line for a midnight release- I have never done this even though I am a dedicated fan in several different fandoms. After reading the novella Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell, I realized just how badly I want to do this one day!

        7. Own a magical coat- I think this is a dream that we all share after reading A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab.

        8. Solve a crazy political mystery in Washington DC- The Fixer series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes made me want to become a hardcore detective and save the world. I like adventure more than I realize. ;)

        9. Explore a desert- I've wanted to spend an evening in the desert for years after I did just that years ago during my birthright trip to Israel. Unfortunately, I was super sick, and I want to be able to properly appreciate it. After reading Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton my desire to visit a desert ignited ten fold.

        10. Ride a horse- I have ridden a horse a few times when I was younger, but The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater made me want to experience the bond between horse and rider so badly. Perhaps I'll try again one day.

        ~*~*~

        I had so much fun putting together this list, which proves how much reading can truly impact our lives. Do we have any book inspired dreams in common? Don't forget to share your lists below so I can be inspired to explore more things!

        My Current Obsession (6): RuPaul's Drag Race

        I've been aware of RuPaul's Drag Race for years. One of my best friends from college, Carolyn, was obsessed with it. Throughout freshman year, we'd often have study days where I'd glance over her shoulder and watch an old episode while I knocked out an essay. And then sophomore year rolled around where I ramped up my education to graduate early, had a 50 hour work week, and a lack of access to a television and I promptly let all of my television watching die. All those shows...dropped. The struggle was real.

        Fast forward a few years and I'm sitting in my friend's flat in London, once again knocking out an essay for my Advertising class and she's giggling maniacally in a corner and eventually loudly declared, "NOT TODAY, SATAN!"

        That was my re-introduction to the obsessive RuPaul's Drag Race. There's a ridiculous amount of herstory to the show and I don't think I could ever do it justice, but I am sure as heck enjoying it anyway.


        What a lot of people don't realize is that this series is huge in the United Kingdom. This is because they have the 4 most recent seasons on Netflix (the most recent season's trailer you can see above). Sure, I watched out of order because I had to finish Bianca Del Rio's season, but I was all over this show again.

        This show is just so important for the LGBTQIA community because it gives them a widely adored platform to be themselves and love it. One of the main morals throughout the reality series is the question: if you can't love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else? As someone who has many friends who have struggled in their pasts with love and acceptance, this show almost acts as a beacon of hope in some regards. It also showcases a part of a very important community that many people don't necessarily understand.

        And, let's not forget the fact that it is a piece of mainstream media that is prominent on the social scene. The word "sickening" is one of the most common pieces of slang in recent years, and I can say this because of my time spent interning at OED. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if another definition is added to the dictionary if its usage continues to rise.

        Did anyone really know what the heck a death drop was more than a few years ago or that the term "bitch" could literally be the most endearing thing ever?! Have we ever found enough people to throw so much killer shade that we could make an entire Olympics for reading queens to filth?! Seriously, this book lover is desperate to visit RuPaul's library! Were we just completely unaware that Drag Mother's are better than any sorority Big a girl could ever dream of?

        The list of absolute fierceness is near infinite. All I'm saying is that if you haven't discovered the greatness that is Snatch Game for yourself, you need to get on that pronto.

        Upon my return from London, it was announced that the next season of RuPaul's is going to be All Stars 2!


        I am so ready for it to premiere at the end of August! By now, I know the backstory to most of these ladies and I have some serious thoughts because this is a freaking great cast with a few key players from the older seasons, too. This show promises lots of amazing drag, and some even more amazing drama.

        I've got my eye on Katya and Ginger Minj for entertainment, Alaska for annoying catchphrases that we all love and the occasional bit of petty jealousy of her ex, some fashion risks from the intoxicating Detox, relatability and entertainment from the now hogbody-less Libra Adore Delano, and a whole lotta drama from Roxxxy Andrews.

        Photo credit: Entertainment Weekly / I thought this showed the queens the best!
        RuPaul's All Stars Drag Race season 2 premieres on August 25th. I highly recommend binging the show on UK Netflix or Logo's website here before then because it is so, so worth it. If your cable provider supports the network, you can watch past episodes easily.

        Now, I've gotta go because I have until August to learn how to beat my face and feel totally flazeda (love ya, Pearl).


        ~*~*~

        Do you watch RuPaul's? What was your favorite season? Who is your favorite winner? Who do you think will win All Stars 2? Who do you wish was in All Stars 2 that isn't?! SO MANY QUESTIONS! Comment below with your thoughts so that we can fangirl together.  And, you know, if you haven't watched yet then you gotta get on that! <3

        Review: The Graces by Laure Eve

        Series: The Graces #1
        Publication Date: September 6, 2016
        Publisher: Amulet Books
        Reading Level: Young Adult
        Pages: 335 (ARC)
        Source: From Publisher For Review
        In The Graces, the first rule of witchcraft states that if you want something badly enough, you can get it . . . no matter who has to pay.

        Everyone loves the Graces. Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace are captivating, wealthy, and glamorous. They’ve managed to cast a spell over not just their high school but also their entire town—and they’re rumored to have powerful connections all over the world. If you’re not in love with one of them, you want to be them. Especially River: the loner, new girl at school. She’s different from her peers, who both revere and fear the Grace family. She wants to be a Grace more than anything. And what the Graces don’t know is that River’s presence in town is no accident.

        This fabulously addictive fantasy combines sophisticated and haunting prose with a gut-punching twist that readers will be dying to discuss. Perfect for fans of We Were Liars as well as nostalgic classics like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the 1996 movie The Craft, The Graces marks the beginning of a new wave of teen witches.
        ~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

        I rarely request books these days because I have such little time to read. Because of this, I only request books I think I will really enjoy, if not love. I had huge hopes for this book ever since I met the author in the UK and heard her read out the first chapter at a book event. Thus, writing this review is really hard because I am supremely disappointed. This is not the book that I thought it would be.

        To put it simply, I was extremely bored with this one. I plowed through out of commitment issues (it's hard for me to say no to a book once I pick it up) and sheer curiosity about the weirdness I was reading. At some point, in the last seventy pages, things really pick up and I was really into it, but then everything was explained away nonsensically which only frustrated me further because I am having trouble finding aspects of the book that I like aside from the enticing synopsis.

        The main character is super unlikable, and I think that's part of the reason I struggled so much with this one. I am all for anti-heroes, but there's a difference between anti-hero and downright unlikable. Our main character never shares her name with us, but she calls herself River because that is her "true name." She is a very flat character that alternates moods every scene...sometimes she's shy and awkward, other times she is standing up to the bully, other times she is super cold, etc. I have no idea who she really is aside from the fact that she is extremely obsessed with the idea of witchcraft but also The Graces. She is just an obsessive character. She latches onto something so tight and never lets it go because she envelops herself in that something and forgets how to live without it. That something is the witchy Grace family. And it made me a little sick of reading about them.

        Also, it doesn't help that the book is extremely predictable. I will admit that Eve had me confused several times in the beginning, but the huge reveals in the end are easily seen a mile away. The foreshadowing is a bit too obvious, not allowing the book to have the BOOM! TRUTH BOMB! effect that it is going for.

        This isn't helped by the fact that the writing is a bit bland. I think that there is an amazing concept here, but the execution was lacking, which hurt my reading experience because it almost felt like there was no plot to me. It doesn't help when I come across weird lines that had me scratching my head like, "He smelled like a thicker, manlier kind of vanilla." I'm sorry, but what? I'd come across something like this and just kinda sit there trying to figure out what I just read. I had trouble picturing a lot of the things mentioned in this book. Eve's style of description just doesn't mesh with my brain.

        I am so sad to find myself ridiculously disappointed in this book because I had so much hope for it. C'est la vie, I suppose it just was not meant to be with this one.

        1 star

        ~*~Links~*~

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

        Waiting on Wednesday #77

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

        My pick of the week is...
        Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

        Publication Date: April 4, 2017
        Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
        Reading Level: Young Adult
        Juliet Young has always written letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

        Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

        When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither of them knows that they're not actually strangers. When real life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart. This emotional, compulsively-readable romance will sweep everyone off their feet.

        Why I Am Waiting 

        I love Brigid Kemmerer's writing! I used to devour her ELEMENTALS series that she published with Kensington, so now I am super excited to have a contemporary to read. Plus, look at the synopsis! I have a feeling that this book is going to explore some really dark, haunting themes and go places most YA books haven't gone before. I am so ready for it!!! I am a sucker for dark, beautiful novels and I know it.

        ~*~*~

        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 Eleven Books Set Outside the United States

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

        I had so much fun putting this post together, mostly because I didn't realize a lot of the books I read have travel in them. It's even more fun that I have visited many of these places on my own. It's amazing to look back on these books with that in mind. I also cheated and did 11 but something tells me y readers will forgive me!
        1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling - I know it's not explicitly clearly where Hogwarts School if Witchcraft and Wizardry is located, but JK Rowling has said it is in Scotland several times, the movie is filmed there, and it just seems right since Edinburgh Castle served as her inspiration for the castle. Having explored Scotland, I could see Hogwarts belonging there, so I'm rolling with it.
        2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - This is my ultimate favorite book ever. I love everything about it. Liesel and Max and Rudy and Mama and Papa and everyone. Set during the Nazi regime's rule in Germany, this book gives you a different look at a harrowing part of history.
         
        3. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson - Ginny goes on an adventure following the instructions in 13 little blue envelopes. They lead her to London, England first, and then she finds herself traveling to Scotland as well with a mysterious boy. I read this book while I was at sleep-away camp for the very first time, and though I've lost my copy, I still have the fondest memories of this adventure! I really need to reread this old favorite and start the sequel.

        4. Heist Society by Ally Carter - This book takes you to a ton of places, but the main heist in this book is to steal a valuable work of art from a London museum before the bad guys do. I ADORE this series, even more than The Gallagher Girls series, to be honest. I really hope Ally Carter writes more. Anyway, Kat is one of the best people to pull off a heist in the world despite the fact that she's still a teenager. Naturally, she does a lot of traveling to Europe with her crew, and I love every minute of it.

        5. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith - This is such a unique story! It takes place over a flight that eventually lands in London, England, where love may or may not blossom. It all depends on the statistical probability of love at first sight!

        6. The BFG by Roald Dahl - I swear this book was on this list prior to the movie's release! haha But anyway, Sophie's orphanage is located in England and Giant Country is out in the middle of who knows where, but the real world is in lovely London, England. I loved this book growing up, and I still love this story to this day. Plus, I adored the movie so there's that, too.
        7. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - High school students at a French boarding school? Sign me up! I love me some Etienne St. Clare.
        8. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Anna Brashares - Lena spends the summer in beautiful Santorini, Greece in this book. The pants truly get to travel the world in one of my favorite childhood favorites! This is one of the books responsible for giving me the travel bug, so it will always have a special place in my heart.
         
        9. The Scorprio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - This may be cheating since Thisby is a made-up place, but with all the Welsh mythology in this book (and many of Stiefvater's other writings) it is obvious that the island stares onto mainland Wales. Or...at least to me, I think.
        10. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - This book makes the streets of the capital of the Czech Republic come to life! I read this so long ago, and I never finished the series (so I must remedy that!), but I made sure to go to Prague on my recent jaunt through Europe because of the pictures this book painted in my mind. So. Well. Done.
        11. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer - This series goes everywhere...China, Africa, the surface of the Moon! You name it and this destination is explores. This is one of the reasons that I love this series so much. <3

        ~*~*~

        I really loved putting together this list, so please don't hesitate to link your lists below so that I can check them out and add some material to my reading list! Have you read any of these? What did you think? Don't forget to your thoughts in the comments below!

        Stacking the Shelves #115

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

        These past 2 weeks I somehow managed to accumulate many more books then expected!

        Bought
        This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

        Blogbound Con (Thank you, pubs and organizers!)
        Scythe by Neal Shusterman
        We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash
        Moon Chosen by P.C. Cast
        Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley
        All The Rage by Courtney Summers
        We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen

        Edelweiss (Thank you, Harper!)
        The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
        Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge
        Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

        Gifted from Andi (thank you!)
        All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

        Traded with Mary (thank you!)
        My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

        ~*~*~

        Have you read any of these books? I have read the last 2 at this point and I cannot wait to dive into the others! If you can't tell, I am on a huge fantasy kick right now (Hey, Harper!!!!!) and there was just so many cool books at blogbound! I used to love the House of Night series until it went to double PoV, so I got super excited when I saw MOON CHOSEN alongside some killer S&S fantasies and amazing looking Griffin Teen contemporaries! *breathes in and out* Let's do this!