2019 Series TBR Results

t’s the end of 2019, and my relationship with series is very much still complicated.

Back in January, I chose six series to prioritize on my TBR for the year. Three series had just one more book coming out, while I wanted to start and read all books published so far in the other three series (two of them also had their series finales published in 2019).

I’m here today to admit that I didn’t get to all the series and books on my priority series TBR. And yes, I still deserve all the fangirl screams for the one series I didn’t get to at all. As you’ll see below, said series is an absolute must for my 2020 TBR plans. However, I’m really content with my series progress overall: having read the three series conclusions, starting one series, and starting a trilogy that had been on my TBR for far too long.

Completed Series Goals  

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden // The Winternight trilogy – Katherine Arden’s The Winter of the Witch was the first book that I completed on my 2019 series TBR. Overall, I loved the atmospheric writing and various relationship developments and character growth throughout the Winternight trilogy, although I expected a lot of disconnect from the main character and plot in the final installment.

The Toll by Neal Shusterman // The Arc of a Scythe trilogy – The most anticipated book on my series TBR, The Toll marks a bittersweet ending to my reading experience with the Arc of a Scythe trilogy. This series is worth all the hype and more, developing on so many plot threads and themes with each installment. The Toll wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned as the series conclusion when I first picked up Scythe, but I still absolutely loved it and was a really satisfying series finale.

IMG_3563

Queen of Ruin by Tracy Banghart // Grace and Fury duology – I wish Tracy Banghart’s Grace and Fury duology got much more attention because this is such a fantastic feminist, dystopian-like series. This seems to be on theme with the series finales on this list, but I didn’t LOVE Queen of Ruinas much as I had hoped. I still really enjoyed it, but it lacked in climatic moments. However, having also re-read Grace and Fury this year, I have still have much love for the first book and the world-building within.

Read More »

Holiday Baking Recipe: Inspired by Christmas at the Cupcake Café

If there’s three things in life that I love it’s books, baking, and the holiday season- and it’s my forever mission to combine these three loves as often as I can! As many of you know, I always read holiday-inspired books during November and December. Last December, I read Christmas at the Cupcake Café, the standalone sequel to Jenny Colgan’s Meet Me at the Cupcake Café.

One of the reasons why I enjoy this series following a woman’s cupcake-inspired bakery is that it features real recipes at the start of its chapters. I’ve said in my reviews for both books that I’d love to try one of the recipes for myself. In honor of the holidays, I finally decided to revisit the book and test out the recipe for the Hot Chocolate Brownies featured in Chapter 13 of Christmas at the Cupcake Café! I’ve included recipe cards below, but I also recommend looking at my tips as well.

IMG_4035

Read More »

If We Were Having Coffee: The Fall Semester Edition

One of my goals with each blogging year is to incorporate more lifestyle posts and life updates. I usually talk about some of my life happenings outside of my bookish and fangirl life in my monthly wrap-up posts and some blog and book tags. In 2020, I’d love to dedicate more getting to-know-me posts. But while there are still 3 weeks left in 2019, I am going to be starting this a bit sooner! I’ve seen the If We Were Having Coffee post float around the blogosphere, but I first saw it written by Jamie of The Perpetual Page Turner.

Some of you may have been able to tell from my monthly wrap up posts that life has been super busy since school started again back in August. This semester was super-rewarding while also stressful in a number of ways. I think it’s about time that I’d fill you on a few things that have happened over these few months, what I have planned for winter break, and some of my plans for 2020!

If were having coffee together IRL, I’d probably be drinking caramel or vanilla-flavored coffee. I’ve only had one holiday Starbucks drink so far this season, which was a Caramel Brulèe Latte.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I am currently reading, The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black. I just started this one on Sunday before diving into my final papers again.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my senior year has been my favorite year of college. This fall semester is definitely my favorite semester of college—here’s hoping that the spring may beat it! I spent so much time hanging out with my best friends and I seriously wouldn’t trade this time and memories with them for anything. Some of the highlights include nights out in our college town, apple-picking, our many Halloween celebrations (college students can’t seem to decide when to celebrate when it lands in the middle of the week, so we celebrate two weekends in a  row), and visiting one of my best friends at her school for the weekend.

I don’t want to give away too many details away because I’d like to still keep where I attend school private for now, but this semester I attended class twice in a week in NYC. I was able to learn more current topics and career opportunities in one of my majors and get to visit companies in the industry. I commuted about four hours per week, which made for the perfect reading time (and yes, homework time during peak stress periods).

img_3916.jpg

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about my English senior capstone paper on Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give. This was my first time studying a YA book in college, and I discussed the tension between THUG as a novel and as a commercial product. While I ultimately decided not to go down the thesis route given my other commitments this year, I’ll be again discussing THUG and diverse books in my media and communications senior capstone.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my senior year has been the most stressful year of college. I had the most amount of homework and research projects that I’ve ever had in college. My student life basically looked like this in the fall: 8 credit NYC semester, my English senior research class, my last literature seminar to complete my English major, and working two jobs on-campus. When it came to the coursework, I at least really enjoyed working on my senior research and NYC projects. I think it’s finally safe to say that I did not enjoy my seminar on British Romanticism in the least bit, but I unfortunately did not have at lot of options when it came to literature classes this year. I’ve also run into the more “typical” college senior stress, aka trying to figure out what I’ll be doing with my life in May, between applying to internships and entry level jobs and considering grad school.

IMG_0970

Forever thankful to my best friend for capturing part of my presentation on her Snapchat.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about my upcoming study abroad trip in January! My 2020 will be starting in the best way possible because I will be going to Ireland during the first two weeks of the year! Going abroad during college has been a dream of mine and I am so happy that I finally have the opportunity to do so over winter break! Ireland has always been on my travel bucket list because of my heritage. This trip will also mark my first time going abroad. I’m definitely going to be leaving some room in my suitcase to bring back a UK book edition or two… or maybe the entire Harry Potter series, who knows. I’m going to have pre-scheduled content still up on the blog while I’m away, but I likely won’t be able to respond to comments and other blog-related things until I’m back in the US. I also plan on doing a post or two on my trip later in January.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m trying to read as much as I can in December. I put a bunch of books on hold during Thanksgiving Break from the library in preparation for my winter break reading.

Although I was able to read more this fall semester than I have in previous years at school thanks to my semi-commuting life, I wish I was able to read as much as I had been in the summer. It was a rough transitioning from reading 14-15 books per month to adjusting back to 4-6. It’s not even so much that I was worried about the numbers, like hitting my Goodreads challenge, but I genuinely missed having more reading (and blogging) time.

newfireborder

If we were having coffee, what would you talk about? What would be your drink of choice? What are you reading in December? Share in the comments!

ALMOST EVERYTHING I WATCHED: Favorite TV Shows 2019

Even though I feel like I dedicated more time to reading, given the amount of books I read, I also dived into a lot of TV this year. I’m always on the hunt for TV shows that I know I’ll likely enjoy from the get-go or will only take a few episodes to get into. With a few exceptions, the biggest theme of my TV watching in 2019 was watching shows with episodes between 20-20 minutes. I feel like I watched a lot of shows in 2018 and even earlier in the year that were hitting the near the 60 minute mark, so I think my head was just ready for some lighter and shorter episodes. As per usual, comedy also made up most of my watching.

Favorites

Derry Girls S1 & S2 (Netflix)

I’m likely going to say this about nearly every show on this list, but I love everything about Derry Girls! This show is set in 1990s Ireland and follows a group of very dysfunctional friends growing up in Derry. Only six episodes per season at 25 minutes each, I highly recommend binge-watching both seasons available on Netflix over one day—even though you’ll be on one of the worst TV show hangovers after.

Sex Education S1 (Netflix)

My friends kept telling me watch Sex Education back in March and I’m so glad they did. The premise- a socially awkward teenager provides sex guidance to his classmates inspired by his growing up with his sex psychologist of a mother- completely sold. I’m so excited for season 2 in January.

Grace and Frankie S1-S5 (Netflix)

I spent June and July absolutely obsessed with Grace and Frankie. The show had been on my radar for a while and I can’t believe I didn’t watch it sooner because it’s become one of my all-time favorite shows. Grace and Frankie is one of the few shows that is guaranteed to make me laugh out loud every episode. I recently got my best friend to watch it, and it’s been so fun re-following it along wit her. I definitely see myself rewatching a few episodes before Season 6 premieres in January.

Workin’ Moms S1-S3 (Netflix)

Workin’ Moms was the first show I dived into when I moved back home for the summer. The show follows a group of friends who are all dealing with the challenges of being working mothers while also finding themselves in a wide range of shenanigans and relationship problems. There’s definitely some mature content, aka sex, in this one that makes for a lot of funny moments. This is another gem that my best friend and I are both obsessed with.  We texted non-stop when S2 dropped this summer, and we had both finished S3 during by the second weekend of the fall semester. We’re unfortunately in for the long haul when it comes to S4 being available in the US, since it airs first on CBC and then goes to Netflix US after. It’s set to air in Canada during winter 2020, which means we likely won’t have it in the US until 2021.

The Politician S1 (Netflix)

If I can only show one show on this list to have the next season immediately, I would hands-down choose The Politician S2. I loved everything about this dreamed, and it definitely reignited my celeb crush on Ben Platt. Its 40+ minute episodes had me hooked throughout each episode. It definitely has a bizarre moment or two- it truly is a blend of AHS, Glee, and American Crime Story meeting high school politics- but it works so, so well! I’ve also been listening to the music/covers from the show non-stop. I’m so happy that we only have to wait until June for S2.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel S3 (Prime)

Considering that I’ve only watched three episodes so far, I am cheating a bit with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but how could I not love the latest season of one of my all-time favorite TV shows?? Based on what I’ve watched so far, I’m once again in love with the cinematography and how much this show gives me Gilmore Girls vibes. I’m also so interested in each other character’s development this season, and I really don’t know what to expect from Midge and Joel’s relationship.

Read More »

HOLIDAY READING RECS: Holiday Books I’ve Read

Although I am a firm believer that the Christmas spirit can be found anytime of year, I especially love bringing some holiday cheer to my TBR in December. I love reading holiday or Christmas-inspired books during this season to fully embrace the holidays, a cup of hot chocolate and a cozy blanket included. I have two holiday books on my TBR for this year, Cynthia Hand’s The Afterlife of Holly Chase and Josie Silver’s One Day in December—which also means give me all of your holiday book recommendations in the comments!

Since I’m always on the hunt for a holiday book, I will be discussing all of the holiday-inspired books that I’ve read over the past few years, along with a few favorite books of mine that feature holiday scenes for your own holiday TBR hunting purposes. 

IMG_3867.jpg

Let It Snow by Lauren Myracle, Maureen Johnson & John Green- Let It Snow is hot on everyone’s holiday book radar this year, thanks to its recent Netflix adaptation. Let It Snow is always the first holiday book that comes to my mind, being that it was one of my first ever YA books back in elementary school. I’ve read it at least two times, and I have some more reread motivation thanks to Netflix.

 My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins- Another YA holiday book classic, My True Love Gave to Me is made up of twelve holiday short stories from twelve YA authors. Each story is so cute and has its own little quirks. Last Christmas, I went back and reread a few of my favorite stories. I would love for Jenny Han’s story, “Polaris is Where You’ll Find Be,” to be turned into a full book, and Rainbow Rowell’s “Midnights” is now also featured in her two story collection, Almost Midnight. 

Christmas at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan- Although technically the sequel to Jenny Colgan’s Meet Me at the Cupcake Café, Christmas at the Cupcake Café can be read as a standalone. I have much love for the first book, so this Christmas fangirl was more than excited to reunite with this world following a woman’s adventure opening a cupcake bakery. As expected, there was so many Christmas-y desserts, and Jenny Colgan included recipes to some of them! This book is also partially set in New York City, allowing readers to get a taste of the city winter wonderland.

IMG_6630

IMG_6719

Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm- Considering that I consider myself to be a holiday book conssieur, I was pleasantly surprised last year when I picked up Stephanie Kate Strohm’s Prince in Disguise last December, only to find it out that it takes place during Christmas! If you love books about weddings, royalty, or Christmas (or like me, all three put together), look no further than Prince in Disguise. The book follows Dylan, who is whisked away to Scotland for the holidays to serve as maid of honor in her reality TV star sister’s wedding to a Scottish laird-to-be.

My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff- If there’s one book that deserves ALL the stars for its festive spirit, it’s Shani Petroff’s My New Crush Gave to Me! The book follows Charlie’s mission to find the perfect Secret Santa gifts for her crush. Charlie spends the season experining new and old Christmas traditions, as well as celebrating Hanukah with her best friend.

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston-  This 2019 holiday-inspired release has deservedly been on the top of everyone’s holiday TBRs as well. 10 Blind Dates is another book that deserves all the stars for its holiday mood, as Sophie spends Christmas with her entire extended family while also, as the title suggests, being set-up on ten holiday-inspired dates.

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak- Seven Days of Us follows one very dysfunctional family’s Christmas, having to stay inside quarantined. Although I loved its family focus, I wish there had been a touch more of the holiday spirit.

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Graynor & Heather Webb- Last Christmas in Paris is the perfect blend for holiday and historical fiction fans. The book takes place during World War I and is told over a series of letters and other exchanges between a couple separated by war.

 What Light by Jay Asher- I admit that I don’t remember much about Jay Asher’s What Light, but why wouldn’t I enjoy a book that takes place on a Christmas tree farm??

Books with Christmas Scenes

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling- If you’re not the biggest fan of holiday books but still want some festivity in your reading life, the season makes for one of the best times of the year to read or reread Harry Potter. Each book involves chapter(s) set during Christmas.

Rainbow Rowell: Landline, Carry On, Fangirl, and Eleanor & Park It’s probably no coincidence that my favorite author happens to have so many books that feature scenes during the holidays. Whether you’re looking to read the entire book or just reread the holiday scenes, I’ve broken down where and how each book interweaves Christmas

  • Landline– Set during Christmas time
  • Carry On– Christmas-y chapters, about half way through the book
  • Fangirl – Chapter 20
  • Eleanor and Park– Chapters 32-33

newfireborder

 What holiday books have you read? Any of the above? Share in the comments!

Favorite Bookstagrams 2019

It’s time to wrap on my favorite bookstagram(aka book Instagram) and blog photos of 2019!

My book and blog photographing ways really changed in 2019, mostly in thanks to receiving a Canon Rebel T6 for Christmas last year. As someone who used her iPhone to take all of her photos in 2017 and 2018, I think cell phones definitely provide great quality, but I have to admit that I do prefer my camera. It frees up so much storage on my phone and the quality is better. I wrote a post back in February on how I bookstagram, where I give advice for using both a phone and camera to take photos.

I definitely put more effort into my bookstagrams this year, but I have not dedicated too much to actually taking photos. I obviously love the end result, but taking photos for both the blog and Instagram are super time consuming– I’m lucky if I get 6 different photos done in an hour. I really want to dedicate at least two hours a week while I’m home for winter break stocking up on photos.

January 

Screen Shot 2019-11-30 at 8.15.37 PM.png

February

Screen Shot 2019-11-30 at 8.15.27 PM.png

March

Screen Shot 2019-11-30 at 8.16.03 PM.png

April

screen-shot-2019-11-30-at-8.17.15-pm.png

May 

screen-shot-2019-11-30-at-8.18.25-pm.png

Read More »

ROMANCE  & CONTEMPORARY LOVE: Fall Mini Reviews

Monthly mini reviews are hit or miss for me, depending on the amount of books I read and if I have enough thoughts & feels to dedicate entire reviews for them. I read the following three books- a new adult romance from my favorite NA author, an adult romance from a much loved writing duo, and a debut contemporary- in October and November 2019.

The Chase (Briar U #1) by Elle Kennedy 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Ever since I read the last book in the Off-Campus series back in May, I have been highly looking forward to starting Elle Kennedy’s spin-off series, Briar U. The series follows new and old characters involved in new relationships in the (hot) hockey playing world that is the fictional Briar University. The Chase follows Summer, the sister of Dean (the male lead in The Score), as she transfers to Briar U after being kicked out of her Ivy league school after a freaky sorority party accident. When she’s not welcome into Briar U’s chapter, Summer finds herself living with three of the Briar U hockey players, including the tattoo-covered, quiet, artistic and video-game designer Colin, otherwise known as Fitz.

IMG_3822

I was so excited when I found out The Chase’s male lead was Fitz because he was one of my favorite secondary characters in Off-Campus. Summer and Fitz definitely have a slow burn romance, as the two spend the majority of the book not being together. I wish their relationship had progressed sooner, in that nothing really happens in the book until their relationship really begins to bloom. However, I loved getting to follow the characters and their everyday. Much of Summer’s everyday follows her life as a fashion major, dealing with a creepy professor, and the struggles that come with her learning disability. Elle Kennedy incorporates a lot of mature themes with #MeToo vibes. Set in his senior year, Fitz finds himself competing for a full time position at a big video game company.

Read More »