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

      Waiting on Wednesday #67

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

      My pick of the week is...
      Romancing The Nerd by Leah Rae Miller

      Publication Date: April 5, 2016
      Publisher: Entangled Teen

      Reading Level: Young Adult
      Dan Garrett has become exactly what he hates—popular. Until recently, he was just another live-action role-playing (LARP) geek on the lowest run of the social ladder. Cue a massive growth spurt and an uncanny skill at taking three-point shots in basketball and voila…Mr. Popular. It’s definitely weird.

      And the biggest drawback? Going from high school zero to basketball hero cost Dan the secret girl-of-his-dorky dreams.
      A tuba-playing nerd with an eclectic fashion sense, Zelda Potts’s “Coolness” stat is about minus forty-two. Dan turning his back on her and the rest of nerd-dom was brutal enough, but when he humiliates her at school, Zelda decides it’s time for a little revenge—dork style. Nevermind that she used to have a crush on him. Nevermind that her plan could backfire big time.
      It’s time to roll the dice…and hope like freakin’ hell she doesn’t lose her heart in the process.

      Why I Am Waiting

      I just found out this book existed and I screeched in excitement. Back in 2013, when I was still a baby blogger, I fell in love with Miller's debut, The Summer I Became A Nerd. I mean, my review is with my old centered formatting and everything! Either way, I adored this quirky tale about nerds and so did the world. It has over 7,000 Goodreads reviews, after all. Now, three years later, Miller has another nerd-tastic book coming out and I am all over it this summer! Here's to cute, entertaining reads full of nerdom, fluff, and infinite smiles. This is what Leah Rae Miller is good at.


      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!

      Ten of the Best Books I've Read Recently

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

      I decided that recently constitutes as the past 3 months since I haven't gotten a ridiculous amount of reading done here in London. However, the three non school-related books I've read since coming to London all managed to make this list. Limiting myself to only my most anticipated reads has really been working out in my favor!

      In no particular order...

      1. Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley- This book. I cannot express my love for this book. Keep an eye out when it comes out because everyone needs it in their life.

      2. Remembrance by Meg Cabot- What a solid, long-awaited, highly-anticipated, perfect ending to a series.

      3. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab- Though slightly filler-y at times, this was the absolute best filler book I have ever read. Schwab has done it again! <3

      4. Perijee and Me by Ross Montgomery- A super cute and also ridiculously dark middle grade about friendship, questionably evil aliens, and the concept of home. It releases in the states in September and I do not think it should be missed!

      5. When We Collided by Emery Lord- This book is really, really important to the growing focus on mental health in YA lit. I am so honored to be acknowledged in it.

      6. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard- A powerful female friendship that takes on the world, one crazy at a time. While it gets off to a slow start, this book is a ridiculously well-done high fantasy world. <3

      7. The Imposter Queen by Sarah Fine- Sarah weaves a ridiculously awesome world with even better characters and a love interest that can thaw even the coldest hearts.

      8. Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton- One of the best high fantasies I have read in a while, this is the wild west meets 1,001 Arabian Nights. I need nothing more than book two NOW.

       9. Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke- There is no way to describe this book besides oddly fairytale-esque. I highly recommend giving it a go.

      10. My Lady Jane by Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton, and Cynthia Hand- Laugh out loud funny alternate history with shape-shifting. Need I say more?!


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

      Lili's Travel Diary #17: Paris, Day 4

      Ah, yes. My final and best day in Paris has arrived. I woke up this morning having slept in the latest I have all trip. I managed to sleep until 9AM. This was a huge deal because when I am in a new place for a limited amount of time, my adrenaline is constantly pumping and I am all GO GO GO NOW NOW NOW. But today was a nice, calm day. I packed up my remaining items, took a peek at my schedule, and headed out to the train station to lock up my bag before I prepared to properly embrace my new friend, Tour Eiffel, properly.

      Armed with lunch--a bottle of wine and a baguette--I commenced my tourist photo shoot on the lawn. The day we arrived the lawn was actually closed off to pedestrians and I noticed some rowdy tourists knocked over the barriers so they could hang out on the grass and take their pictures. Who was I to shun this opportunity?

      Paris has the most beautiful skies!
      After finishing my baguette and dying from the carbs, I prepared to do the thing I was most excited about: go to the Top of the Eiffel Tower. Many people choose to just go to the second level because the views are still spectacular and its cheaper, but I am go big or go home. I didn't climb it because my legs hated me enough and I actually walked over 105,000 steps on this trip--effectively giving myself tendonitis--so I chose to pay a little extra to take the lifts to the top. It was crazy! They're like their own weird little roller-coaster that you observe as you get higher and higher faster and faster.

      Once at the top, I was absolutely freezing. It was cold and I was high up, but the views were so worth it. I spent a solid hour up there reflecting on life and taking it all in.

      It was really sunny and windy, as you can tell. Nobody will have a good hair day after doing this.
       See below for some amazing Parisian views.

      After I got cold enough to leave, I said goodbye to Eiffel and made my way to Sainte-Chapelle. I
      was in the last group given entry to the building this day because I showed up about 40 minutes before closing. It was free entry thanks to my Paris Pass, and I heard how gorgeous the insides were, so I knew I had to swing by. I was not at all disappointed. The interior of this Gothic style royal chapel is absolutely breathtaking.

      I then made my way back to The Louvre on foot to enjoy more of Paris. As a lover of museums, spending a mere two hours in here was not enough for me. I understand that the three girls I came with don't like museums as much as I do, so I knew I would be coming back on my own eventually to spend more time there. I think you could spend an entire day in that building, after all.

      As it started getting a bit darker out, I headed out on foot and enjoyed some of the beautiful bridges in Paris. Walking over the water and looking out at the Seine is a great way to just relax and think. This was such a nice way to see the city and give myself to fall in love with it again while I erased all prior memories. I mean, look at this beautiful view to the right!

      Eventually, I saw the sun was beginning to set, so I headed back to the Champs-Élysées to enjoy a pretty sunset and my last meal.

      When I got back to Gare du Nord to board my train, I was notified my seat got moved. This is another thing the group bickered about when purchasing our train tickets. When looking at Eurostar tickets, you are allowed to pick your seats. ALWAYS pick blue seats because they are guaranteed. NEVER pick orange seats. Because someone insisted we pick orange seats, we all had our seats moved on our way home. Every single one of us were in a different car and nobody was together because our seats weren't guaranteed. While this almost seemed like a kiss of fate for us with a greater force knowing just how emotionally taxing this trip would end up being, people who have good trips are going to want to travel home together and I don't want them to make the same mistake we did. It is safer to just pick a row of seats across from each other in blue than to pick a table in orange. This is what my gut told me while we were booking, and I should have listened to it.

      My Biggest Regrets

      I regret not going to Versailles on this trip. I let someone talk to me out of it, and I really shouldn't have because it was something I wanted to do, and should have done on my own because I wanted to so badly. I regret not standing up for myself and then having it thrown back in my face later on in the trip. But because of this, I know I'll make a huge effort in the future to one day get to Versailles, and I will see its beauty in my lifetime. I also regret not being able to go to the Musee d'Orsay. It is a branch of The Louvre, but it has a beautiful famous clock and several paintings I wanted to see. It was in our schedule, and then the same aforementioned someone moved it out at the advice of her parents, and it ended up being closed the day it was moved to. I repeat a huge travel tip: check all of your plans in advance instead of just assuming that they are open. This came back to bite us several times this trip. I regret not standing up for myself and just going off on my own to do this because looking back on this trip, I 100% had the time to do so. And, thirdly, I regret not standing up for myself in general, for allowing myself to be dragged around emotionally for no reason. I am not a pushover, and I shouldn't let people walk all over me and strong-arm me the way I was strong-armed on this trip. No more. This Paris trip was a month ago and a lot has changed. And one of those things is the fact that I am not taking anyone's manipulations, but it took a nearly ruined trip for me to get to this point...that, I regret as well.

      Learn from my mistakes as I have, and check out the places I didn't get to see so you don't have the same regrets as well.


      I will say that, with everything in mind, I still enjoyed Paris. I didn't love the city as a whole because it just wasn't OMG worthy to me, but I enjoyed my time there drama aside, though I couldn't see myself spending an extended period of time there. And yes, I'd be lying if I said this drama didn't taint this trip for me, but being able to get my thoughts down on paper really helped me sort through some things emotionally and get past some hurdles that have been hindering me since this trip. I learned a lot, and I have no regrets because I rather know true colors than continue along blissfully naive. I'd like to see someone try to treat me this way again, because I am no longer a doormat meant to be walked over and for that I thank this person who temporarily turned me into one. I wouldn't be at this point if you didn't drag me down.

      My Current Obsession (5): I am Sherlocked

      The last time I did one of these, I talked about reality television. Have no fear, I'm still obsessed with reality television, but I love regular television too. I haven't been doing a lot of reading here in London because I find myself constantly exhausted. I feel guilty for spending a full day inside, so I am outside at least once every day. I do a lot of traveling. I wake up at ridiculous times and fly in ridiculously late to save money. It all catches up to me. Because of this, I often find myself Netflixing as opposed to reading a book because it requires less brain capacity late at night when I'm already in bed.

      My current obsession is Sherlock. I knew that I had to properly watch this show here in the UK because I live on Baker Street. Yes, you heard me. My tube stop is the Baker Street tube station. I often find myself walking past the Sherlock Holmes Museum and the building used to house 221B Baker Street. When I exit the tube, a statue of The Great Detective greets me everyday. My favorite fish and chip shop, the cute little hotel around the corner...everything is Sherlock Holmes themed. I couldn't escape it, so I caved. 

      Julia and I starting the final episode. We made it!
      In the beginning it started as four of us: Julia, myself, Monica, and Mica watching together. Since then, Julia and I are the valiant two who have spent the last 2.5 months slowly watching an episode at a time together when we have the time to do so. We are absolutely obsessed. This past week we watched the final episode of series three. Some time in the near future we are going to watch the recent Christmas special, and then we get to join the rest of the world in the anxiety-inducing wait for series four in 2017. In the meantime, we can finally reward ourselves for finishing by visiting The Sherlock Museum. Much excite! Ah!

      Can we talk about that?! Anyone else see the rumors that Tom Hiddleston may be Holmes brother number three?! Say it is true! I want it to happen so badly!

      But anyway, allow the fangirling to commence.

      I cannot wait to watch this special!

      I suppose the easiest way for me to break down my immense and sudden obsession with this show is to make a list, as all obsessions can really only make sense in list format.

      1. Sherlock and Watson are ridiculously talented.
      I will admit that as I have moved through the seasons, I have noticed that the quality of some episodes have gone downhill. Some just aren't as good as the others, which is a shame because the producers have two AMAZING actors on their hands between Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Like, they are ridiculously talented and deserve to be utilized in awesome ways. Sometimes the producers do that, and other times they don't, but I will steadfastly watch all of their adventures anyway. I hear that Benedict is a bit of an ass in real life, though, so I am remaining positive in the fact that I think Martin Freeman must be awesome in person. And even if he isn't, I am 100% sure that these two are great friends in real life because their on screen chemistry is superb.

      2. The secondary characters add major depth.
      I don't think there is a single secondary character that I do not love. Sure, I am not the biggest fan of Sherlock's elder brother, Mycroft, but I can admit he is beyond well characterized and very well acted. I find myself absolutely adoring most of the secondary characters that come on screen, especially Mary, which is a nice change from Robert Downey Jr's and Jude Law's Sherlock Holmes interpretation with a not so likable Mary. There's Sherlock's land lady and dear friend, Mrs. Hudson, who houses him as a thank you for his help getting her husband killed in the past (I know, right?!). There's Molly Hooper, hopelessly in love with Sherlock and blind to his many flaws. Greg Lestrade, officer and friend who values Sherlock's work even when nobody else does. Irene Adler, who we rarely encounter, but when we do she undoubtedly turns Sherlock's world upside down. The list goes on and on. So rarely have I encountered a cast of secondary characters that I love as much as those at the forefront. 

      3. Jim Moriarty. 'Nuff said.
      I hated him, but I loved him. He was so ridiculously complex. The first time I met the illusive Moriarty, I was a bit shocked. I wasn't expecting him to be portrayed this way. He was dastardly, yes, but not what I imagined. Though I suppose an evil figure shrouded in shadow twirling a mustache running a criminal empire isn't what he truly would be either. Either way, the producers took a character that everyone has heard of and put a totally unique spin on him. He is despicable and crazy and engrossing all at once, and I think the series seriously went downhill when his character exited because he provided such a unique story. Wow. Just wow. Bravo with this one.

      *No picture here because that would ruin all the fun for people who haven't viewed it yet!
      4. The layout of the series.
      I know that this is a weird thing to love, but I seriously adore it. I love how each episode is a mini movie, allowing me to make movie nights out of it with my friend. Sure, it makes it a bit tougher to properly binge because it's tiring, but it allows it to become a group effort. It also allows us to get closer to the characters, I think, because we spend more time with them focusing on important sub-plots in their lives right alongside them. Sure, I know that Sherlock won't die even though it seems he may because there's still x more episodes and what would Sherlock be without a living breathing Benedict Cumberbatch acting in it, but that doesn't stop me from becoming so indebted with each new episode that I am constantly on the edge of my seat, breathing quickly, scared out of my wits, waiting to see what happens next. Plot twists galore with this movie-like set-up, and I have no complaints until I realize just how long I have to wait for the next series to be released.

      I just really wanted a GIF of that smile in here. I lurve it.
      5. We have a flawed character that truly embraces it, and we love him for it.
      I suppose what I love most about Sherlock is that he knows what his faults are, he's aware of them, and he embraces them. You either like him the way he is or you don't. He's crazy smart, super anti-social, and inadvertently condescending because he is lacking in understanding proper social interactions, but he is a die-hard friend in the end with a lot of heart that would go to any means for the few people that matter to him (Watson, Mrs. Hudson, Mycroft, Molly Hooper). He is so complex, and so disarmingly weird and attractive all at once. I also find the topic of his sexual orientation to be interesting because, at times, the producers play into fandoms by shipping Sherlock with Watson or other male figures while they also have him use his looks to his advantage with certain female characters. Really, they've gone on record talking about how Sherlock has no interest in intimacy and romantic ties because it clouds his brilliant mind, which makes him all the more fascinating and complex and, agh, I just love him and his big coat and mind temple and addicting smile. ALL OF THE SHERLOCK PLEASE. I truly do hope that the producers continue to work around Benedict and Martin's increasingly busy schedules (yaassss! Get the attention you both deserve!!!!) to keep this show on air for many more years to come.

      All images in this post were taken off of Google, and I do not own any except the one of Julia and myself.
      Do I have an fellow Sherlockians out there? I officially move that we be called the Sherlock Holmies as a fandom because it's just so fun. But anyway, I am on the Sherlock Holmes train and I do not ever want to get off. I'm almost caught up with Sherlock, and I mentioned earlier that I follow along with Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law's film adaptations as well.
      What other adaptations (books, film, television) do you guys recommend I check out this summer to fuel my new obsession? Comment below with your recommendations!

      Lili's Travel Diary #16: Paris, Days 2 & 3

      In case you missed it, I did so much amazing stuff in Paris that I decided to split my 4 days there into a 3 part post series. If you'd like to hear about my awesome day one, please click here!

      Day Two

      Day two started off with a quick French breakfast (one pain au chocolat please and thank you!) and then a bucket list goal of mine: Notre Dame! Not only was my inner child waiting for Quasimodo to appear around the corner, but my inner history nerd was squeeing in delight for this entire morning. Even if my legs hated me after that climb. Climbing Notre Dame gave me my biggest work out of my trip here. It absolutely killed my legs, but it was oh so worth it. You are given the opportunity to stop several times at different levels of the towers to see multiple views, and it was so breathtaking. The climb is free for Paris Pass holders and students who come from countries within the European Union (yes, if you study abroad, this counts). If you ever get to Paris, I can honestly say this is so worth it. This climb was one of my favorite parts of this trip, even though it was freezing. Once again, bundle up and be prepared for the windy weather up there.

      Below you will find several of the beautiful views from Notre Dame.

      I had to get at least one in with a gargoyle!

      And, last but not least, let's not forget to take a moment to admire Emmanuel, the bell of Notre Dame.

      Once we climbed down Notre Dame (thankfully it is so much easier going down!!!), we decided to go on a Seine River Cruise. This cruise was included with our Paris Pass, so we figured why not. Unfortunately, this cruise is where the drama started. I am choosing not to go into it because I want to remain positive with this post, but I will say that this is where I learned how important it is to choose your travel companions wisely. They need to have similar ideals to you. If you like to go off on your own, they need to respect that and vice versa. It doesn't work out when you have several people who are okay with separating and someone who simply is not. As someone who likes to go off on her own, I am making sure I only travel now with people who are okay with that and know my tendencies beforehand.

      With that being said, I'll be honest and mention that I spent a lot of this cruise in tears or absolutely shocked at just how much a person upset me, which is really unfortunate, but I did get some killer views of the Eiffel Tower. I would not recommend going out of your way to splurge on this cruise if you do not absolutely want to. It's nice, but the Parisian views are significantly better on land. And also I just don't associate this cruise with positivity of any kind.

      Moving on, we went on this terrible lunch adventure which didn't work out because the one restaurant someone wanted to go to closed at three and they didn't look it up beforehand. Piece of advice we learned on this trip: if you are actually planning to eat at a specific place and not just wander around for lunch, look up their hours! Some places apparently close immediately after a certain service time. I didn't know such a thing existed until this moment, really.

      After this not-so-great lunch mishap, we ended up at the Musee de l'Orangerie to get a quick glimpse at Monet's famed Water Lilies. This is a series of huge works, so the picture you see is a mere fraction of its beauty. I sat in this room and was absolutely mesmerized. I wish I had a talented bone in my body! haha

      Next we headed to Tour Montparnesse. This is yet another thing included in our Paris Pass. Montparnesse Tower is the tallest building in Paris, minus the Eiffel Tower. When looking at the Parisian skyline, it's all beautiful and then there's this big blob of a black building standing above all the rest. After erecting this attraction, Paris created building laws so as nothing else could ruin its skyline. With that in mind though, the views are pretty great! The plan was to watch the sunset from it, but again, no sunset! We did admire the views and relax a little, so peep this before and after of Paris in the daylight and Paris in the nighttime I took from its many observation points.

      Left daytime, Right nighttime

      We ended up finding a traditional Parisian restaurant. There was no English menu and most people spoke French, so it was a bit awkward for us to figure things out but nonetheless wonderful because we had an amazing time. I also got my first ever bite of creme brulee! Afterwards we headed home. I had an emotionally exhausting day on top of it being physically exhausting, and I was ready to turn in for the night to prepare for day three's adventures.
      The Louvre




      Day Three

      I was determined to put the past behind us and start anew on day three, so I woke up with a smile on my face as we headed straight for The Louvre! Built in an old palace, the museum itself is something worth beholding. We decided to start the day there so we could run straight for The Mona Lisa without having to deal with major groups of tourists like we would if we went in the middle of the day. Going into it, everyone told me that this painting would be the most disappointing aspect of this trip because, in the end, it is a small painting that you're over ten feet away from in order to protect it. I suppose that it was underwhelming in that regard. But to be in its presence after learning so much about it through grade school was awesome nonetheless.

      So this is what my hair looks like from the back as I artistically stare at this work of art.
      Also had to say what's up to my dear friend Venus de Milo.

      And let's not forget my obligatory tourist photo that took forever to stage, but makes me happy all the same.
      Can you tell that the sun was so badly in my eyes?
      After spending a few hours in The Louvre, we went to the The Avenue des Champs-Élysées. This is the boulevard for shopping in Paris. We walked up and down it, grabbed lunch at an Italian place because it is a touristy area after all, and then almost died while making our way to the beautiful monument at the end of the street: The Arc de Triomphe.

      Once again, climbing this monument is included in the Paris Pass, but students should be able to do it for free if not for a discounted price. Unfortunately, the fourth person in our group left half her Paris Pass at home and was not allowed to climb, but the ticket ladies forced the three of us up without her to stop holding up the line and we climbed away. Thankfully, this was the easiest climb we endured with a strategic resting point along the way.

      This is what nonstop climbing does to myself, Monica, and Julia (left to right), but the views were once again so worth it. I am so thankful for these two girls getting me through the emotional craziness of this trip and being my rocks here in London even today. I love them to pieces.

      Once we exited the arc, we headed back down the Champs-Élysées with a purpose. I would never forgive myself if I did not stop into Laduree for their overpriced but totally necessary macaroons. Walking inside is like a dessert lovers heaven because everything looks so delectable! I splurged on a fancier case as a souvenier that I am going to turn into a glasses case in the future and I have no regrets. Verdict: chocolate macaroons are still the best, but their vanilla is ridiculously buttery, and I liked their famous Marie Antoinette macaroon too. I went big by trying a green apple one, which didn't wow me, and their raspberry macaroon is what you would expect it to be.

      Nom nom nom
      Bathroom selfies with Mon are totally necessary when they're this fancy. We definitely did not belong here! haha
      Foodie goal achieved! I loved their Alice in Wonderland window decor.
      After we grabbed our goodies, we went to a wine tasting that was once again included in the Paris Pass. I think everyone should definitely do a wine tasting in Paris if given the opportunity. I brought a bottle of sweet white back with me that I'll be indulging in with my friend when she visits in May simply because it is a way of life in Paris. 

      Unfortunately, more drama went down at the wine tasting, but this time I had had enough. I left to go off on my own and explored the Tulerie Gardens for an hour and a half to allow myself to have peace of mind before joining up with my girls at the Centre Pompidou to check out their beautiful art exhibits and eat some street crepes for dinner. Again, this is a cool museum I could spend hours in. I'd highly recommend checking it out if you are ever given the chance. 

      In the background of the picture to the left you can see a smaller arch. This one was erected for Napoleon's triumphs, but he deemed it too small and instead ordered famous Arc De Triomphe we know today to be built in his honor.


      Once this night was over, all hell broke loose back in our AirBNB. I look back on this night and just shake my head. I learned a lot. I learned that if people are just going to hurl names at you over and over and threaten you repeatedly, sometimes friendship just isn't meant to be. With my shock factor at an all time high and confusion ruining my time in Paris because I just had no idea what was going on, I made the executive decision to go off on my own for my fourth and final day in Paris. The girls also made the same decision, and this was the best decision I could ever make because my last day in Paris was my favorite. I had a day to do the things I wanted to do with nobody bringing me down with emotional baggage. It made the memories of this trip so, so wonderful after these two days of tumult. 

      In retrospect, I suppose that's why I paired these two days together. Lots of drama, and it's easy to just forget about it all when you gloss over it.

      Stay tuned for the final post in this series talking about my final and best day in Paris!

      To Finish Or Not To Finish...That is the Question (Two Years Later)

      Over two years ago on March 22nd, 2014 the very post "To Finish or Not To Finish...That is the Question!" post went up. You can read it here if you like. I think it's pretty funny, actually. This post is pretty much admitting my weakness for finishing series. I suck at them. I am so good at quitting series it becomes a big deal when I actually managed to finish one. So I made a vow to go out of my way to finish more series following that post!

      ...And then the second installment of "To Finish or Not To Finish" went up in early April of 2015 a year later to commemorate the fact that I was able to make good on my promise to finish more series in that year. You can read that post here if you like!

      On a recently rainy night in London, a red flag went up in the back of my mind reminding me that it's been two years since I have made the vow to overcome my sucky series reading. Plus, this post series is kind of a yearly tradition at this point. I like looking back on my progress to see how much better I have gotten at this, especially with the help of Summer of Series!

      Unfortunately, I was not as successful this year as I was last year. Last year I managed to finish 14 series. It is worth noting that I read 100 books in 2014. This year I managed to finish a few series and bring myself up to date on many others, but I also only read 55 books in 2015, so that has something to do with it. Alas, let's check it out!

      Finished Trilogies/Series in the Last Year
      1. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
      2. The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta
      3. Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
      4. The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot

      Finished Companion Novel/Duology Sets in the Last Year
      1. To All The Boys I Loved Before & P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
      2. Frigid & Scorched by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

      As you can see, I am also working on appreciating backlist series more instead of just series that finish this year, so that is something I hope to continue this summer!

      What have these books taught me about my commitment issues? 

      Series: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
      Read November 2012 through November 2015

      This is the longest-running series I have ever managed to stick with from its immediate publication to its immediate end. It's not backlist or anything like that, and it shows me that I can be eager enough to complete a series without falling off the bandwagon--it is just has to be an amazingly well written series to make me want to do it. I do not regret falling off the bangwagon for certain series of my past anymore.

      Series: The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta
      Read June 2015 through June 2015
      Finnikin of the Rock, Froi of the Exiles, Quintana of Charyn

      Part of the reason I hate reading full series is because I am scared of hype. Since I haven't had the best luck with reading series prior to becoming a blogger, hype for a completed series is intimidating since I automatically worry I will not like it. This series proved to me that sometimes hype is deserved, and I really shouldn't let length or hype hold me back anymore. There's well over 1,000 pages between all three of these books and I binged them in maybe 2.5 days I was so into the story!

        Series: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
        Read July 2015 through July 2015
        Under the Never Sky, Through the Ever Night, Into the Still Blue

      This series taught me to never judge a book by its opening scene. Back in the day, I picked up the first book in this trilogy in a bookstore, read the first chapter, and put it back on the shelf. I didn't look back until some dear blogger friends told me it was among their ultimate faves in early 2015. I read past the really bad opening chapter and immediately fell in love. I have to be more ready and willing to open myself up to unique writing styles.

      Series: The Mediator by Meg Cabot
      Read February 2014 through January 2016

      I binged this entire series in February of 2014...all six books! And then a few months later they announced a 7th book written for adults and I was so ready for it! I am not primarily an adult reader, but this novel taught me that I really enjoy growing with my characters, and sometimes having a bit of closure that I have always secretly craved is enticing instead of leaving it to be open. Series can always be continued in the future!

      Series: To All The Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han
      Read May 2014 through May 2015
      To All The Boys I Loved Before, PS I Still Love You

      This duology proved to me why I dislike series so much--fear of committing just to be disappointed. I loved the first book in this series and when I got an advanced copy of book two I jumped at it. But let me tell you, there's so many things that I have to say about book two and very few of them are positive. I disliked the main character's voice, I hated her end decision, I was not a fan of how the people around her began to act. I just did not like this book and it left a bad taste in my mouth for the series as a whole since it's the final one. This is what I've been working to grow from when reading series...

      Series: Frigid by Jennifer L. Armentrout
      June 2013 through June 2015

      This duology taught me that I need to read more romance! I read both of these books at the time to get me out of reading slumps and though I had to suspend belief about certain things, a good romance can get any reader through a slump. I resolve to read more romance series in the future to get me out of slumps and also because they are quick reads that can satisfying my desire to just sit and read and get away from the world for a bit.