BOOKS & HBO Max: February 2021 Wrap Up

February felt like the longest and shortest month ever – which I guess kind’ve makes sense since February is the shortest calendar month. This is was an intensely busy month for me grad school wise. Once I finish and submit a major assessment for my master’s in early March, grad life *should* get slightly more calm before I graduate in May. We also got a ton of snow where I live in the US – I actually don’t think location matters too much because everywhere in the US seems to have been slammed by snow over the past few weeks – which meant a few more remote work days and plenty of trips out to my car to clean off snow. 

I am super excited though that the weather seems to be warming up, and it’s staying light out for longer at night. Going for walks and runs after school and getting fresh air to such a big stress reliever for me, so I’m really looking forward to spring weather. As you can probably tell below, the biggest stress reliever for me in February was reading and watching TV & movies. I was definitely on more of a reading kick early on in the month, but I totally admit my HBO Max subscription got to me and I leaned into TV and movies way more than usual. 

I’ve so far read 8 books in February, which I’m pretty content with considering my school schedule and that I’m currently reading a certain 700+ page fantasy read. I have reviews coming or already published for all of the books below, so I’ll just be sharing my star ratings. 

Love in English by Maria E. Andreu (ARC) | 4/5 Stars

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes | 4.5/5 

Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure by Amy Kaufman | 4/5

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel (ARC) | 4/5 

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MINI LIFE UPDATES & ALL THE BOOKS: January 2021 Wrap Up

I can’t be the only one shocked that the first month of 2021 is almost over. My first few days of January started out fairly relaxing, having stayed home for New Years and reading a few books & watching tons of Kara & Nate before I jumped into my full time clinical internship for my master’s program. Aside from diving into full time work life this month, I also have a mini life update – I’m living at my grad school! Being on a college campus during a pandemic is a very different experience – picture masks everywhere a and really only going into the building you live in and the campus mailroom – but it feels surprisingly more normal than expected. 

Between being back at school – which means binge-watching all the shows & movies with my roommate- and having a full time academic schedule, I expected my reading life to suffer a tiny bit this month, but I still managed to read 9 books. I’m hoping to continue to carry on this reading energy throughout the rest of the semester. What’s slightly helping my reading is that since I’m on a laptop all day for my clinical and grad classes, I enjoy taking my eyes away from any screen at night and turning to a book.  

Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli (ARC) | 4/5 Stars

I decided to start off my New Year with one of my most anticipated releases that I was fortunate enough to read early for review (coming in April!), Becky Albertalli’s Kate in Waiting. I loved the emphasis on self-growth, friendship, relationships, growing up, & so much more. After enjoying it so much, I may make my reread book of February as Becky’s The Upside of Unrequited, aka my favorite book of her’s! 

We Came Here to Forget by Andrea Dunlop | 4.5/5 

Although I am content with the books I chose in January,  none of them screamed FAVORITE books of 2021 — but if I had to choose a favorite, it’d be Andrea Dunlop’s We Came Here to Forget. I loved the plot, following a former Olympic skier who relocates to Buenos Aires after a family tragedy.

Lucky Caller by Emma Mills | 4/5 

I was craving a YA contemporary and decided to finally pick up the only Emma Mills book I hadn’t yet read, Lucky Caller. I ended up enjoying it more than expected – the school radio premise was done well and like Emma Mills’ other books, I liked its quiet feel and emphasis on friendship. 

Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza | 4/5

Books about politics, let alone one about an election, might not be everyone’s cup of tea right now, but Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win was a really enjoyable read. I liked how much it explored what it’s like for a woman to run for government vs. a man. I’m still not sure how I feel abut the ending though. 

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman | 4.5/5

If there’s one fluffy read I would recommend this month, it’s hand down The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany. I loved the plot, the setting in Italy, and the themes surrounding family and love. If you’re a fan of Chanel Cleeton’s Next Year in Havana and want something a little more lighter, I definitely recommend picking this one up. Read More »

What I Read & Watched This Weekend: January 2021 Edition 

Is it just me, or is anyone still feeling some of the 2020 burnout seeping into the first few weeks of the new year? I can’t get into too much detail, but I started the first full week of my clinical practicum for my master’s program this week. Although I had a nice week getting back into the swing of things, I was absolutely drained by Friday afternoon and probably didn’t get as much work as I would’ve liked to over the weekend. I think my goal for 2021, or at least this semester, is to not let work pile up on me on Sunday and instead try to divide some work over both days of the weekend. Anyway, what I really did enjoy over this weekend was getting to cozy up with a few reads and deep dive into some travel vlog watching. 

What I Read

I try to read at night as much as I feel during the week, but my mind tends to favor mindlessly watching TV over reading.

Halfway through this week, I found myself missing reading, so I think it was Thursday night that I began Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza. This might not be the most comforting read for some, given politics & division in the US – & yes like many, last Wednesday’s news coverage of the Capitol definitely kept me glued to the couch and away from reading – but I really enjoyed it. The book follows Silicon Valley COO Charlotte as she moves her life and her family back to her home state of Pennsylvania as she runs for Senate. This was a really smart but super readable & addicting read that delved into female representation in politics, as well as the family & relationships intricacies Charlotte must deal with as she runs for office. Read More »

READING, STRESS, & TV WATCHING: November 2020 Wrap Up

How are you? I think the word ‘draining’ could be used to summarize 2020 overall, but November was a particularly tiring month for me. You likely know that COVID cases have risen once again in the US, including the state where I live & go to school. November was also a super stressful time grad school wise, with a ton of final projects and deadlines coming up within the next two weeks. It’s absolutely crazy to think that in less than two weeks, the fall semester will be over and I only have one semester left until I finish my degree. And once again, despite all the hectic-ness & school work, I’m actually so surprised that I still managed to read 9 books this month! These were all super solid reads for me, and I either have reviews published or reviews coming soon for all the books below. 

I read some of my most anticipated books of 2020 in November, and I’m happy to report to report that they did not disappoint. While I loved some more than others, this was a great reading month overall. 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab | 5/5 Stars

Snapped (Snapped #4) by Alexa Martin | 4/5

Crazy Stupid Bromance (Bromance Book Club #3) by Lyssa Kay Adams | 4/5

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd | 4/5 (reviewed in my What I Read & Watched This Weekend post)

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren | 5/5

Simmer Down by Sarah Smith | 4/5

Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb | 5/5

Love & Olives (Love & Gelato #3) by Jenna Evans Welch | 4/5 

The Wedding Party (The Wedding Date #3) by Jasmine Guillory | 4/5 

I’m also currently reading Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory, the fourth book in The Wedding Date series, and I’m absolutely loving it! I hoping to have it finished midweek!

I talked about watching Dash & Lily (Netflix) and Clouds (Disney+) in my What I Read & Watched This Weekend post. I still found myself re-watching Gilmore Girls, but so many good shows (helloooo Virgin River S2) came out on Netflix during the week of Thanksgiving. I now feel like I’m behind on shows, even though I felt just last week I had nothing new to watch. I don’t want to complain too much though because I’m so looking forward to some serious Netflix binge-watching over winter break.

The Mandalorian S2 (Disney+) – The second season of The Mandalorian came out at the end of October. I was disappointed that Disney only puts out one episode a week… but then life happened and I’m now three episodes behind, oops. This is definitely another show I’ll be catching up on either this weekend or during winter break because I can’t be without Baby Yoda for too long. 

Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions (Disney+) – I thought I’d actually do school work after school on Wednesday afternoon, but Disney+ decided to drop Taylor Swift’s recording sessions for Folklore and I immediately needed to watch. I loved hearing the stories behind the songs, especially when it came to the Betty/James/August dynamic. ‘august’ and ‘illicit affairs’ were my favorite songs to listen to. 

The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix) – The Queen’s Gambit hype finally got to me, and I’m really enjoying it so far! There’s definitely a lot of chess talk, but you don’t need to know much at all to be enticed by the show. I’m 4 episodes into it so far. 

Sugar Rush Christmas S2 (Netflix) – I originally thought I would save Sugar Rush Christmas for December, but my sister and I found ourselves binge-watching the first 5 episodes of season 2 on Saturday. Sugar Rush is seriously my favorite baking competition show. It’s definitely the only American baking show where the judges are actually nice and not too critical, and I always love the holiday twist. It was a little weird watching since the show was filmed pre-COVID and there’s a lot of hugging and little social distancing (is it me, or was I not the only one who was disappointed to learn that they film holiday shows SO early in advance??). I’ll likely watch the sixth and final episode of season 2 sometime this week – I wish there were more! 

Continued watching: The Bachelorette (ABC), Below Deck (Bravo) 

Reviews

MY NEW FAVORITE HOLIDAY ROMANCE: In a Holidaze Review

MOST ANTICIPATED ROMANCE OF 2020: Crazy Stupid Bromance Review

2 YA Reads & A Much-Loved Thriller: Recent Mini Reviews

Contemporary Romance Mini Reviews: November 2020 Edition

MY NEW FAVORITE V.E. SCHWAB BOOK? : The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue Review

A 2020 YA FAVORITE: Chasing Lucky Review

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea & Tomorrow Review & Inspired Recipe

A POTENTIAL FAVORITE ROMANCE AUTHOR?: Party of Two Review

Other Bookish Fun

Holiday TBR: 2020 Edition

End of Year Book Tag: 2020 Edition

 

What do you read & watch in November? Any recommendations for me? How are you doing? Share in the comments!

March 2020 Wrap Up

It’s an understatement to say that this March wasn’t the best. I’ve shared some more details below and in some posts this month, but March was definitely an adjustment to a new type of normal for me, having moved home from my last year of college two months early. I am very appreciative of all the people in my life during this time, but the following books and TV also were the perfect way to find comfort.

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I’m so especially that I read so many incredible this month- at least five of these are favorites of 2020 and contenders of being my #1 favorite book of 2020!

Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett (ARC) | 5/5 Stars

I think I finished Chasing Lucky on the last day in February, but forgot to add it to my February wrap-up. I haven’t met a Jenn Bennett book I haven’t loved, but this May 2020 release nailed everything I love in a YA contemporary.

Blitzed (Playbook #3) by Alexa Martin | 5/5

Blitzed follows one of my favorite characters in the Playbook series, Brynn. I loved the romance and the recurring cast from the first two books.

break your glass slippers by amanda lovelace | 4.5/5

I know I’ll be revisiting a lot of the poems in this new favorite Amanda lovelace poetry collection of mine.

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NEW YEAR, SAME FANGIRL: January 2020 Wrap Up

January 2020 has been one of the busiest months of my life. I spent so much time with my friends this month, went abroad (for the first time ever) to Ireland, and jumped into my final undergraduate semester. Between friends, school, and abroad, I didn’t have too much time to dedicate to reading in January- and I’m content with that. I really enjoyed the books that I did pick up, as well as the TV and films I was able to also watch this month.

whatireadnew The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper (ARC) | 3/5 Stars

The Gravity of Us delivered on its NASA and space-premise, but I just wasn’t a fan of the chemistry between the main characters and character development.

The Risk (Briar U #2) by Elle Kennedy | 5/5

The Risk is my favorite book in the Briar U series! I loved everything about this book, and I can’t wait to read the last book in the trilogy- even though I am putting it off for a bit longer because I don’t want to be done with the Off Campus world yet!

You’re Not You by Michelle Wildgen | 4/5

You’re Not You was a really enjoyable adult contemporary and I’m interested in watching its film adaptation.

Together We Caught Fire by Eva V. Gibson (ARC) | 3/5

Together We Caught Fire is definitely a unique YA contemporary romance and provides an in-depth look at a lot of issues. However, I was not the biggest fan of the character and plot development and relationships.

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Recent Additions to My TBR: 2020 Releases and Backlist Edition

As much as us readers do our best to make our TBR piles smaller, we love adding even more books to them just as much- if not a bit more!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been adding more 2020 releases and a few backlist titles that I’ve always had my eye on to my TBR. I have a pretty solid idea of the books I’m going to be reading in February, focusing on some review copies, rereading, and hopefully a backlist book or two. But me being me and often straying away from my TBRs, I wouldn’t be too surprised if a few of these make an appearance in my February reading life.

2020 Releases

Most Likely by Sarah Watson (Release Date: March 10)- You had me at The Bold Type meets future female president of the United States. Most Likely follows four best friends as they head into their senior year of high school together, with one of the girls destined to become the future president of the United States. I’m so intrigued to see how this book comes together, between the four main characters and how- and if-the identity of the future president is revealed.

They Went Left by Monica Hesse (Release Date: April 7)- Having loved Monica Hesse’s Girl in the Blue Coat and The War Outside, I can’t believe I didn’t know about this 2020 release until I was scrolling through Twitter earlier this month! They Went Left is set in in a similar time period as Monica Hesse’s other two YA books, taking place in 1945 and following Zofia’s life after being liberated from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

The Betrothed by Kiera Cass (Release Date: May 5)- 2020 may just finally be the year in which I read a Kiera Cass book- and no, it still won’t be The Selection (but maybe one day!). The Betrothed is set to be a YA historical romance. Having loved so much new adult and adult contemporary romance lately, I’m ready to delve into the genre.

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My Most Disappointing Reads & DNFs 2019

When you read 100+ books in one year, you’re unfortunately bound to have some disappointments and books unfinished like this fangirl did. As much as my 2019 was filled with so many great reads (see my 30+ book favorites wrap-up), I had some books that I did not enjoy as much as I had hoped and didn’t enjoy enough to finish. This post is split between my most disappointing books of 2019 and the books that I did-not-finish (DNF).

I will say that just because a book made my disappointing books and DNFs lists does not mean that I didn’t enjoy them at all or that other readers of course wouldn’t enjoy them way more than I did.

Most Disappointing Reads

When Summer Ends by Jessica Pennington

When Summer Ends is the type of book that I should’ve really DNF’ed. Everyone knows that I love reading summer contemporaries during the summer, and I was really looking forward to reading one of Jessica Pennington’s books. That being said, I really pushed myself to stick with this book and honestly ended up skimming through the last one hundred pages or so to find out the ending. The book is told through two perspectives, Aidan and Olivia.  I unfortunately did not find myself invested in either character and the general plot.

The Queen of Nothing (Folk of Air #3) by Holly Black

Andddd here come the books that will get the most screams from my fellow readers. I admit that I was never the biggest fan of The Cruel Prince and never really understood the hype around it… until I read and absolutely loved The Wicked King! I had such high expectations for The Queen of Nothing. But by the first 100 page mark in QoN, I had no idea where the story was going and it stayed that way throughout the rest of the book. So much of the story was built around the Cardan vs. Madoc conflict and I really didn’t understand much of what was going on. Even with the one steamy scene, Cardan and Jude’s chemistry just felt so off.

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WINTER BREAK READS & TV WATCHES: December 2019 Wrap Up

With the fall semester officially over, much of my December was spent reading and watching up TV. Unfortunately, I basically had a cold when I came home from school for winter break that lingered around until Christmas. It went back and forth from going away to getting worse over the course me having it, likely not being helped by my winter break job either.

In short, feeling a bit under the weather gave me more of an excuse to spend some time resting and catching up on all the books and TV shows. While I’m really content with the amount and the actual books I read, I’m also glad I spent a lot of time this month with family and best friends. I had such a great, but very busy fall semester with an already equally busy January and spring semester ahead that it’s been really nice to relax and recharge.

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My December reading was primarily split between some (okay, two) fantasy conclusions and plenty of contemporary and contemporary romance.

Archenemies (Renegades #2) by Marissa Meyer | My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I’ve really enjoyed this superhero-inspired series from Marissa Meyer so far, although I feel that Archenemies suffered from middle book syndrome.

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams | Rating: 5/5

My favorite read of the month, my love for The Bromance Book Club inspired the rest of my contemporary reading in December.

The Queen of Nothing (Folk of Air #3) | Rating: 2/5

I had such high hopes for The Queen of Nothing given my love for The Wicked King, but was unfortunately really dismayed with this trilogy conclusion.

One Day in December by Josie Silver | Rating: 5/5

The only strictly holiday read on my December TBR, I’m so glad I finally got to One Day in December because I loved it so much!

How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian (ARC) | Rating: 4.5/5

I also got a small start of my 2020 review reads with How to Build a Heart, which featured many of my favorite YA contemporary elements with its own twists.

Intercepted (Playbook #1) by Alexa Martin | Rating: 5/5

Hi my name is Haley of Fangirl Fury and sports romance is one of my new favorite genres, much in thanks to Alexa Martin’s Playbook series.

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2019 5 Star Predictions Results

Many of you likely know by now that I love to create themed or different types of TBRs. One of my new-to-me TBRs in 2019 was a 5 Star Predictions to-be-read list, in which I chose 6 backlist books that came out before 2019 that I believed would be 5 star reads for me. Out of the six books I chose, I only read 4 out of 6.

I still have to read Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. In an effort to get to more backlist titles on my TBR, I plan on picking it up from the library in 2020. I did not pick up I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman, partly because I lost interest in its synopsis, partly because my local library system does not have it and I’m not sure if I want to buy my own copy (it’s also not sold here in the US).I also created a 5 Star Prediction list for 2019 releases and posted my results a few weeks ago. 

I ended up enjoying all the books on my TBR. The books that ended up not receiving 5 stars were only slightly off.

 My Correct Predictions

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti- A Heart in a Body in the World basically earned a 5 stars from me as soon as I started reading. I really couldn’t let go of this book, in love with its fantastic cast, story, and writing style. After surviving a horrific tragedy, Annabelle decides to run 2,700 miles across the country, followed by her grandfather and brother in a RV. It’s definitely a very relevant book, following a hot-button issue here in the US. While heart-breaking, Deb Caletti approached the situation and Annabelle’s reaction so incredibly well.

My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih- My Real Name is Hanna was such a unique historical fiction read set during the Holocaust, following a Jewish girl whose family is forced to go into hiding in the woods when the Gestapo raids their Ukrainian village. I learned so much while reading this book, all complimented by Tara Lynn Masih’s beautiful and vivid writing style.

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