February and March 2016 Monthly Recap(s)

~*~On The Blog~*~
It is the end of March. WHAT. WHAT. WHAT. I can't wrap my head around this. These past 2 months have absolutely flown by and I officially have less than months left in England. 51 days to be exact. My heart, it hurts. I was so busy in the month of February that I couldn't even get a recap up. And in the month of March I made efforts to properly explore England because I feel I have been neglecting it in favor of exploring continental Europe. Who is to say I should not take advantage of both in my short time here? In the next 51 days I have firm plans to travel to 6 countries, with a potential seventh, explore more of Europe, eat lots of food, and see three more shows. Life is good. Here's to learning a lot about myself, making all of the lifelong friends, ridding my life of negativity, traveling, indulging in foodie adventures, seeing shows, and somehow, among it all, finally managing to read again.

Books Reviewed:
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton - 5 stars
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab - 4.5 stars
Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke - 4.5 stars
Perijee and Me by Ross Montgomery - 4 stars
Titans by Victoria Scott - 3.5 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.
5. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare (eBook: 160 pages)
6. A Woman Killed With Kindness by Thomas Heywood (eBook: 128 pages)
7. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (eBook: 121 pages)
8. 'Tis Pity She's a Whore by John Ford (eBook: 176 pages)
9.  Perijee & Me by Ross Montgomery (Paperback: 233 pages)---
10. As You Like It by William Shakespeare (Paperback: 105 pages)
11. The Knight of the Burning Pestle by Francis Beaumont (Paperback: 160 pages)
12. Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley (ARC: 249 pages)
13. Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare (Paperback: 139 pages)
14. When We Collided by Emery Lord (eARC: 356 pages)
    DNF's of the month 
    1. None
    Total Pages Read This Month: 1,827 pages
    Total Pages Read This Year: 2,170 pages
    Total Books Read This Year: 14
    Total Books DNF'd This Year: 0
    • I was part of several blog tours featuring giveaways in this two month span, but unfortunately, none of them are still running.
    Lili's Travel Diary:
    • For my first travel diary of February, I took a moment to be grateful. Studying abroad has brought me closer to my family and certain friends, and I am forever thankful for that.
    • My first proper travel diary was all about my 2 day trip to Wales! Lots of sheep, lots of rain, a terrible tour guide, but amazing people were met and awesome friendships forged. <3
    • I did a post on my 21st birthday, which was so much fun. I had an absolute blast, but it was a hard day emotionally. I was flattered so many people here wanted to spend my birthday with me, but I was seriously missing my friends from home who I wish were here too.
    • The weekend before my 21st was spent journeying around Edinburgh, Scotland as a gift to myself, so naturally I did a travel post about it too. Edinburgh was my first big trip here in the UK, and I adored every minute of it, even if it snowed on me.
    • I also did a post on 20 more pieces of culture shock I have experienced since coming to the UK because my UK book people here requested it. Ask and ye shall receive!
    • I went to several UK book events and I realized they simply run differently than the events in the US, so I thought it would be interesting to do a book events comparison post.
    • I also did a post featuring Ten Travel Tips I have picked up along the way because I've learned to look out for certain things and keep an eye on certain life lessons. I thought it would be good to share for future study abroaders and world travelers. 
    • I also inadvertently stumbled into an interesting travel nugget about time zones. I thought it would be fun to share!
    • It took me just under a month, but I finally got around to starting my Paris recap! It ended up having to be a post series because I simply did so much in my four days there. First, there's post one here. Post two covers days two and three and all the unfortunate drama that went down there. And post three is my answer and reaction to it all after my last freeing solo day there!
    Discussion Posts:
    • I posted the third annual "To finish or not to finish...that is the question!" post. This post chronicles my struggle at finishing series. I am a bit disappointed as I did finish as many series as I did last year (this year's 6 versus last year's 14), but I did achieve my goal in finishing more long-standing series instead of just binging them all into completion.
    • My fifth post in my long-standing My Current Obsession series went up and this time it is talking about my immense love of Sherlock. Guys, I need all the Sherlock Holmes recommendations you can think of, pronto! Books, tv, movies...GO GO GO!
    • I typically don't include Top Ten Tuesday posts here, but I did a post featuring the ten best books I have read in the last 3 months. It's not saying much as I have not read a ridiculous amount of books in the past three months, but I am proud of my progress all the same. Plus, these three books are spectacular if I do say so myself.
    Guest Posts and Bonus Content:
    • I had an awesome time interviewing Lisa Maxwell, author of UNHOOKED, as part of her blog tour. I was so excited that Simon and Schuster had me for this amazing opportunity!
    • I got to take part in another fairytale related blog tour for Simon & Schuster, so I was in absolute heaven! Check out my stop for the Blackhearts Blog Tour by Nicole Castroman.
    • Oh, look! Three blog tours in the month of February and they were all fairytale themed! Absolute heaven x3! This was the first middle grade blog tour I've done in a while, so check out my post as part of Liesl Shurtliff's RED blog tour.
    • I kicked off the month of March by talking to one of my ultimate favorite authors, V.E. Schwab, as part of her A Gathering of Shadows blog tour. I loved this book, and I guarantee you will too.
    • My last blog tour of this period was for Jeff Zentner's amazing coming of age novel called The Serpent King. Thank you, Random House, for having me!
    ~*~What I've Been Watching~*~

    West End Shows:
    • I rushed Matilda for 5 pounds (less than $10) on a cold February morning and had an absolute ball. I definitely want to see this show back in the states just because I loved it so much and I am curious how they differ. I highly recommend this one! It is worth splurging on no matter what your age!
    • In The Heights is a show I regretted never seeing while it was on Broadway in New York City, so imagine my extreme delight when Jim invited me to see it with him (very cheaply!) here in London! I could imagine Lin-Manuel Miranda walking up and down that stage absolutely killing it as Usnavy. This show paints such a beautiful picture of The Heights and it absolutely ripped my heart out and left me crying on the floor. So well done.
    • Jim also invited me to Miss Atomic Bomb where we got to sit front row. It was an interesting show to say the least. Nice and enjoyable, but not worth spending a lot of money on. A bit over the top with their portrayals of the American South and general jokes, I don't regret seeing it but I also could have lived without it. It is also the only show I have been to in my short time here that I did not splurge on buying a program for. That in and of itself is very telling.
    • I went to see Guys and Dolls with my friend Amanda and absolutely adored it. She wasn't the biggest fan, but it is all open to interpretation. I will say I was a bit upset though because Jamie Parker, the future Harry Potter in The Cursed Child was supposed to be in it, but he was out sick for the day. My heart broke! I specifically picked this performance because it was his third to last one before he left to begin rehearsals. Oh well, even with that in mind, the show was great and perfect for old-school Broadway lovers looking for something entertaining, hilarious, and fun.
    • I got to see a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Hamlet while in Stratford-Upon-Avon and it was phenomenal! I have studied their performances several times over the years for classes, so to see one in person was a bit of a dream come true! They always modernize performances, so they brought Hamlet into modern times by putting him in college and making him kind of like a hipster. Plus, they had some seriously awesome African themes running through the background music and anything having to do with death (burials, funerals, ghosts, etc). So well done!
    • Billy Elliot is perhaps one of the best shows I have seen ever. I loved every minute of this show. This child star had more talent in his pinky toe than I do in my entire body, and I loved seeing him showcase it. Plus, learning a little more about British history is always nice. Just, wow, if ever given the chance to see this show, do it!
    • Christianna visited for a day and helped treat me to a show in the West End so we chose Phantom of the Opera. It was absolutely phenomenal! The Phantom rocked and it was just so well done, even if a touch overdramatic at times. I finally crossed such an important classic off my list, and I am so happy for it!
    • So, I started watching Aziz Ansari's Master of None because I was in search of a new Netflix binge and I hate to say it, but I gave up on it a few episodes in. It's funny because it's Aziz, but it just wasn't appealing to me the way I thought it would.
    • I am almost done with my Sherlock binge! All I have left is the January 1, 2016 special and I am fully caught up. I love this show, but it has seriously gone downhill in its series. Series three does not compare to series one or two.
    • I started and then proceeded to finish Jessica Jones in less than a week. This show is so freaking good! So dark, so twisted, so emotionally explosive and important. I am all about it. I highly recommend everyone give it a chance! I am so upset that season 2 does not come out until 2017 though, and I am even more upset about the fact that the reason it is delayed is because Luke Cage gets his own show. I don't care about him enough to want that, I just want more Jessica. And even more Kilgrave! David Tennant freaking killed this role!
    • I am watching this season of Survivor over here in London and it is still blowing my mind. So good! I will say I was rooting for Caleb even though I wasn't a fan of him on Big Brother, so his exit upset me a lot. With that in mind, I think this is turning out to be a really interesting season, so I have no complaints!
    • I haven't seen an episode of The Amazing Race in what feels like forever thanks to March Madness getting in the way, but I am watching this season too. I am not as invested since the only famous YouTube person I know is Tyler Oakley, but his team is killing it so I am happy. I also really like Blaire and her dad because of their relentless optimism. Lastly, the frisbee guys are serious competition and such good friends, so I like them a lot too. I don't really remember a lot of the other teams. Is that bad?
    • I streamed Grease Live over here in the UK and I absolutely adored it. I thought a few sequences were a bit lacking--Thunder Road immediately comes to mind--but overall it was very well done. I was pleasantly surprised by many of the actors and actresses, and Vanessa Hudgens absolutely killed it as Rizzo, even in the face of personal tragedy.
    • I also went to the cinema (I know it is not a theatre, Debbie!) to see Deadpool with a lovely group of people. I adored this movie despite its gore. Ryan Reynolds absolutely nailed this performance and I want a sequel pronto. I also learned that I like British theatres...they're big and comfy and you book your seats in advance which makes life so much easier!
    • While in Scotland, they forced me to watch the cult-followed American filmed entitled The Room. All I will say is that this is a movie you love to hate and can't help but quote from repeatedly, even if I was convinced they were making me watch pornography for the first 15 minutes. Who knew something so bad could be so entertaining.
    • I also watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone while here in London because, well, I felt like I had to, okay?!
    • I had a movie night with my girls in Greenwich where we watched Pitch Perfect Two and ate way too much junk food. I still stand by the fact that this movie just can't level up to its predecessor, so I am slightly concerned albeit still a wee bit excited, for movie numero tres.
    • Also ended up crashing another movie night for Bridget Jones 2, which I had never seen more, and now love so much. Bridget Jones, you my homegirl! I need movie number three stat!
    ~*~Reading Challenges~*~

    Fairytale Retelling Challenge:
    0/10 Completed
    • not yet
    Flights of Fantasy Challenge:
    3/30 Completed 
    • Remembrance by Meg Cabot
    • A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
    • Perijee & Me by Ross Montgomery
    Contemporary Reading Challenge:
    2/16 Completed
    • Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
    • When We Collided by Emery Lord
    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~*~
      London, I am still falling in love with you. I like you a lot, but I am also missing New York City more and more each day. I am emotionally ready to go home, but I am not ready to leave my friends behind yet. It's a constant war within my head and my heart.

      I came to England with the goal of exploring 10 countries. Let's see if it happens.
      5/10 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.
      • Edinburgh, 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.
      • Paris, 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.
      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.
      4/7 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!
      Sights Seen
      • Museums: The British Museum, The Tate Modern, The Natural History Museum, Charles Dickens Museum, The National Gallery, Sherlock Holmes Museum
      • British History: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, The Tower of London, Kensington Palace
      • Parks: Hyde Park, Regent's Park, Green Park
      • Theater: The Master Builder, Matilda, In The Heights, Guys and Dolls, Miss Atomic Bomb, Hamlet, Billy Elliott, The Phantom of the Opera
      • Random Fun: The Shard, Borough Market, Camden Market, Oxford Street
      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

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