Monday, December 30, 2019

Disappointing Reads of 2019

Oh boy here we go with a controversial disappointing reads of 2019. I read a lot of books in 2019 and enjoyed a lot of them...but there were also some that I didn't enjoy as much as I thought I would. And today we're going to discuss them. 

Let me preface this post by saying that I don't necessarily hate these books, just that I think they fell flat in comparison to my personal expectations or the hype surrounding them. Some of these I even rated pretty high. However, all of these books were very hyped up in the bookish community and all of them fell flat for me. 

There are only four on this list, which I'd say is a pretty good number since I read over 130 books in the course of 2019. However, some of them were some of my most anticipated reads which means that them being on this list is a bit sad for me.

Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, #2)Up first: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. Oh my god this book was boring. I hate to say it, but it was boring. There were genuinely some really good moments, but the fact that this book was so long really did not help the story. What would have made it better for me, personally, was if it was a lot shorter and we got rid of a bunch of filler stuff so that those really good scenes were able to shine through. I will admit that I cried in this book, but it took until the ending for that to happen. This book was so hyped and Lady Midnight was so good...and I'm very sad I didn't like this one as much.

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1)
Next we have Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan. I was really excited going into this book and I'll admit to having high expectations that were severely let down. I almost DNF-ed this book, but since I'd been sent a copy to review I forced myself to finish it. At first, I was so in awe of the ending that I was like "alright that was a solid 3.5 or 4 stars." However, the more I thought back on it, especially now, the more I realized how much I actually disliked it and how much the ending did not make sense. I think if I were to re-rate it, I'd give it a 1 or 2 stars max. This is one instance of a book being on this list and me actually not liking it at all. I don't even care enough after the cliffhanger to even think about picking up the sequel. 

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)
Then I have Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. It hurts me that this book is on this list because I did enjoy it, I do plan on reading the sequel, and I have the most beautiful edition of this book. But everyone and their mother was hyping this book up to the extreme. Everyone was acting as if it was the greatest thing ever. And while I found the characters likeable and the writing to be beautiful, I finished this book and was left feeling very underwhelmed. The one redeeming thing for me, though, is that the sequel can pick up right where this one left off and hopefully more things will actually happen.

Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle, #1)Lastly, I have another book that makes me very sad to put on this list: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I genuinely do not know why I didn't like this book as much as I'd hoped. Maybe the hype got to me. Still, every time I look back on this book and what happened, I feel as if I should have enjoyed it more. It's by two of my favorite authors, the characters were all interesting, the story was compelling, and it had a lot of my favorite things in it.  Yet, for some reason, I was disappointed. Maybe I was just in a reading slump at the time. I do plan on rereading it in anticipation of the sequel, so hopefully my feelings will change for the better when that happens.

So those were my disappointing reads of 2019. I did rate books lower than these, but most of those were books I wasn't thinking I'd love anyway so they didn't actually disappoint me. I'm hoping that 2020 is a year filled with amazing books where none of them disappoint me at all, but we'll see!

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Anticipated 2020 Book Releases

Hey everyone! We are at the start of my favorite time of the year: the holidays and winter break! This is my favorite time of the year for a few reasons, the first being Christmas, the second being winter break and time off school, and the third being all the amazing bookish blog posts I get to write this time of year! I love wrapping up the year and looking forward to the next one, which is what I'm going to be doing in this post today.

This upcoming year (and decade in general), are promising to bring a lot of amazing book releases. I have many upcoming releases on my radar and preorder list, but I thought I'd narrow it down to my top 10 to share with you all! Some of these are coming very soon, others may be months away, but I'm excited for all of them nonetheless!

Image result for a fallen hero sara noeAt number 10, we have the second book in the Chronicles of Avilésor by Sara A. Noë, Phantom's Mask. The first book, A Fallen Hero, was one of my favorite reads of 2019 and I've been eagerly anticipating any news on the second book. We have no cover yet but there is a title and an excerpt already that have me so excited for its release.

Image result for an ember in the ashes seriesNumber 9 we have the fourth An Ember in the Ashes novel by Sabaa Tahir. While I admit that I haven't yet read the third book in this series, that's only because I am planning on doing a complete series binge when the final book releases. There's no confirmed release date yet but based on a lot of stuff from the author's writing updates, I hope it will be coming in 2020.

Image result for kerri maniscalcoFor number 8 I have Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco. This is another book with no cover yet but we do have a synopsis that is absolutely killing me! I absolutely adore Kerri's Stalking Jack the Ripper series and I am so excited to see what she's going to do next. This one is the first in a new series and is set to come out in the fall!

Image result for trying to live with the deadAt number 7 I actually have two books but they're within the same series: the 8th and 9th novels in The Veil Diaries series by B.L. Brunnemer. It's no secret that this series is one of my favorites and we're finally approaching the end (well, is it the end when there's a sequel series following the same characters but a different storyline?). I cannot wait to reread the entire series in anticipation of the newest book, which should be out in January while the last should be out later in the year.

Image result for witchlands seriesFor number 6 I have the fourth Witchlands novel by Susan Dennard. There's been some talk that it's not going to come out until 2021, which would be sad, but as of right now there's still a chance it will  be 2020 so I'm going to include it on this list. This is a series I discovered at the end of 2018 and binged in the first few months of this year. I absolutely fell in love with the characters, the world, and Susan's writing. I cannot wait for the next book!

Image result for empirium trilogyNumber 5 we have Lightbringer by  Claire Legrand, the final book in the Empirium trilogy. I am absolutely stoked for this book. After the cliffhanger in Kingsbane, I've been desperately needing to know what happens and we're only a few months away (okay, like 10 months away but still). I'm sad the trilogy is coming to a close but I'm also excited to finally have resolution with the characters and a (hopefully) happy ending.

The Empire of GoldAt number 4 I have The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty. This is the third and final book in the Daevabad trilogy and I'm so excited. I discovered this series at the beginning of the year and, after binging them rather quickly, I am dying to know what happens next. I'm already planning a reread of the first two books and I'm just so excited for when the time will finally arrive.

Image result for sarah j maasFor number 3 I have the fourth A Court of Thorns and Roses novel. While it's not confirmed to be out in 2020, the most recent announcement said it would be coming at the end of 2020, so I'm holding out hope for it. I'm so excited for this spin-off novel and I can't wait to see how Sarah writes these new character perspectives and new story.

Shelby MahurinAt number 2 is Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin, the sequel to Serpent & Dove aka my favorite book of 2019. I absolutely adored Serpent & Dove and I cannot wait to get more of the characters, magic system, and high stakes in the sequel. I also just know that there's going to be an absolutely gorgeous cover for it to match the first one.

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1)And, lastly, we have House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas. This is the first book in Sarah's new adult fantasy series and I am so excited for it. ARCs have started going out and I have serious jealousy at everyone who's gotten one. I already have four editions preordered and I know that more will probably follow. I have such faith in Sarah and I cannot wait to read a new story from her set in a contemporary fantasy world!

Thanks for reading!

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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Book Review: "The Caged Queen" by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Caged Queen (Iskari, #2)
Title: The Caged Queen
Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Series: "Iskari" #2
Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Length: 400 pages
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Date Started: December 23, 2019
Date Finished: December 27, 2019
Rating: 4 // 5 stars
Book 1 Review

*I was sent a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own*

I was so excited to dive into this book since I'd enjoyed The Last Namsara so much. Because this was a companion novel, I was excited at the prospect of stories from different characters points of view. Not only that, but the synopsis for this particular installment got me super hyped for it.

I will say this book definitely had a different feel than the first one and that wasn't a bad thing. The first book was very action-packed with lots of high-intensity, high-tension scenes. This sequel companion was more laid back in terms of action scenes, but there was always a feeling of tension and unease throughout which I really liked.

From when I started this book until I finished it, I could barely put it down. The political scheming and internal battle our main character goes through kept me enthralled. Those two main things were what kept this story moving.

I really enjoyed the characters. Our main character, Roa, while flawed and definitely not perfect, was actually really enjoyable for me. I also really liked the side characters, though, like the first book, I wish we'd gotten to see even more of them. Dax was wonderful as always and I also liked getting to see some of the characters from the first novel make a reappearance.

Overall, I really enjoyed this installment. I think there could have been a few more high-intensity scenes, especially at the end, but I liked the story anyway. It was a quick read that sucked me in from page one and I can't wait to continue on with the next novel in this companion series.

Thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Twelve Days of Christmas Book Tag

Hello all! The holiday season is upon us and I recently found a Christmas-themed book tag that I just absolutely had to do. It's the Twelve Days of Christmas Book Tag and it combines two of my favorite things: Christmas music and books! This tag was originally created by Lizzie Loves Books on YouTube and if you're interested in her tag, you can find it linked there. There are twelve questions and each one corresponds with a different day of Christmas, so, without further ado, let's go ahead and dive in!

The partridge stood alone in the pear tree. What is your favorite stand alone?

I think I have to go with Internment by Samira Ahmed on this one. I read it at the end of 2018 and it was one of the most impactful books I've read in a while. It deals with so many real world issues and I don't think my eyes were dry for the last  quarter of the book.


Love is in the air! Who is your one true pairing?

I have to go with either Aelin and Rowan or Rhys and Feyre for this one. Both of them are Sarah J. Maas pairings and I love both of them so much. I think both pairings are different from each other and each set of characters just seem to fit in their own ways.

Image result for rowaelin
Art by @faeriereverie

In the spirit of threes, what is the best trilogy you have read?

I think I have to go with The Dark Elements by Jennifer L. Armentrout for this one. Every book in the trilogy just absolutely hits the spot. I love each of them and it's probably my favorite JLA series to date.

White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements, #1)

Since series usually consist of four or more books, what is your favorite series?

My favorite series is Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. It's been my favorite series for a while now and I absolutely love it. I've had so much good come from this series and it means so much to me.

Image result for throne of glass

One ring to rule them all! Who is your Favorite Villain/Antagonist?

I honestly can't think of a specific character for this one. One of my favorite things in a book, though, is when a character or group of characters struggle against an internal battle or against another group (such as a small group of rebels trying to overthrow a corrupt government). I guess my favorite books aren't always Good vs Bad but deal with people trying to create change in an imperfect situation.

Creation is a beautiful thing. What is your favorite world/world-building?

The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty has an amazing, vivid, and complex world. I fell in love with the world from page one and I cannot wait to return to it when the third book releases in 2020.

Image result for the daevabad trilogy

Who needs seven swans when all it takes is one good animal sidekick? Who’s your favorite animal sidekick?

Abraxos from the Throne of Glass series. He's the cutest and reminds me so much of Toothless. He also plays quite a big role in the series, so he really was the first animal sidekick to pop into my head.

Image result for abraxos throne of glass
Art by mialythila

Milk is so 18th century. Which book or series takes beverages/food to a whole new level?

The first one that popped into my head was To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han. Lara Jean is constantly talking about baking and all the things she creates throughout the trilogy. It's only  natural to immediately think of that when this prompt comes up.

Image result for to all the boys i've loved before book

Dancing is just one skill of a Lady! Who is your favorite kickass female lead?

Since I've done too much SJM already, I'm going to go with Lou from Serpent & Dove for this one. She goes through so much and has already been through so much. She's funny and strong and overall an amazing character.

Image result for lou serpent and dove
Art by Monica A. Borg

How about your favorite leading lad?

Once again barring any character from the Sarah J. Maas megaverse, I've decided I'm going to go with Thomas Cresswell from the Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco. He is one of the best male characters I've ever read and I am honestly in love with him. He's sweet and kind and fights for what he wants, but mainly he's just the most charming character I've ever read.

Image result for thomas cresswell
Art by PhantomRin

What is your favorite book or bookish thing with musical influence? (It can be about music, reference music a lot etc.)

The Veil Diaries by B.L. Brunnemer was the first series to pop into my head when this prompt came up. While it's not heavily about music, the main character does join a band and music is used a lot throughout the books. It's also one of my favorite series!

Image result for the veil diaries

Drum roll please…what is your favorite read of this year?

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin definitely takes this spot! I fell in love from page one and read this massive book so quickly. I've been wanting to reread it ever since I finished but haven't had the time yet! It was such a stunning book and I can't wait for the sequel to come out in 2020. If you'd like to know more of my thoughts, you can find my review here.

Thanks for reading!

You can follow my bookstagram here. A brand new giveaway will be posted soon!

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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Studying Abroad in London: The End of London

It's finally last study abroad post. I can't believe how fast this semester flew by. It was, honestly, the best semester of my life. I'll talk more at the end since I still have a few days to wrap up, but overall I'm just so grateful for this experience and everything that happened while I was here. 

December 16, 2019

On Monday, Isaac and I slept in very late. I was up late and neither of us had gotten much sleep through our naps so it was really nice to sleep in. After we woke up, we went and got groceries and food to eat for Monday and the next couple of days.

While we were eating, we just sat on the couch catching up on The Apprentice and cuddling. We finished off Psych, which was bittersweet since we'd been binging that together all semester. However, the second movie is coming out (hopefully) in 2020 so we'll hopefully be able to watch that together!

That night, I went and watch Isaac play football in a league thing (soccer for my American friends). It was fun to watch him play and I did get to see some other people I knew, so that was nice. It was pretty cold  by the end, though. Afterwards, after having been home for a while, we decided to go on a midnight trip to Tesco for snacks to eat while watching movies. 

December 17, 2019

We woke up pretty early on Tuesday so that I could be awake for my bag collection since I was shipping a second suitcase home rather than bringing two suitcases through the various airports. It ended up not getting collected until 2 pm, which was a bit unfortunate since I was pretty tired.

I did work on my last essay for a bit. I got it outlined and a little less than half of it written before I decided to be done for the day. Then Isaac and I just cuddled on the couch watching various TV shows before getting ready to go to dinner.

We went to dinner at a steak restaurant with his parents which was really enjoyable. It was a very laid back meal and I enjoyed everything I ate. The steak was to die for and I would definitely go back. The only issue of the night was when the card machine stopped working right as we were going to pay so we ended up being there for quite a bit longer. But it all added to the experience of an amazing night.

December 18, 2019

We slept in again on Wednesday before I worked on my essay for a little bit more. We had our last camembert session while watching the movie Yesterday. It was a pretty good movie, if a bit long. Afterwards, I finished up my essay and got that turned in so that I wasn't worrying about it while traveling through airports.

We ordered Chinese food that night so that we could eat that while watching the finale of The Apprentice (UK). It was a good episode and I'm happy with how it turned out. After that, we just packed up my stuff and got things organized for the next morning.

We tried to go to sleep early since we had to wake up and leave early, but I couldn't fall asleep. I didn't want to sleep because I didn't want morning to come where I was going to have to leave. We ended up staying up pretty late talking and, in my case, crying about leaving. 

December 19, 2019

We woke up pretty early and got on the road. I took a Dramamine, less than my usual dose, and I thought it would work. We stopped at McDonald's to grab some breakfast for the road on our way to Heathrow. The lower dose of Dramamine evidently didn't work as I started to really feel my motion sickness when we were getting on the busier road and actually ended up throwing up right as we got to the airport.

Sadly, Isaac couldn't park anywhere so we had to say a quick goodbye outside, which was really sad for me. It meant that I wasn't crying like a mess inside the airport, though, so at least there's that. I got through check in, bag drop, and security really easily. I was feeling better after throwing up, but I wanted to get some breakfast so that I could take Dramamine for the plane ride. I ended up just eating half a bowl of soup before heading to my gate--I was pretty lucky since, right as I got there, they  started calling my group early.

I got boarded very easily and ended up not having a seat partner for the entire flight. It was nice. I fell asleep right after take off and ended up sleeping through the lunch delivery--when I asked about it, they said they'd bring it but I guess they forgot so I didn't get any lunch. Luckily I was awake when they passed out snacks later. By the end of the flight I was pretty bored and glad to finally land in Chicago.

I got through passport control and customs easily. I had to take a shuttle over to my proper terminal and had to check back in through security which was fun. I was able to get over to my terminal easily after that and ended up going to Chili's for lunch. My first taste of "proper" chips, salsa, and guac since August. It was so yummy. I also picked up some Chex Mix, Cheetos, and proper Kit Kats since I was really missing those.

I found a place to sit on my computer after that and wrote a blog post and just messed around a bit for a few hours. Then it was the first of many gate changes. By the time I finally got on my flight, it was two hours delayed and we'd gone through five gate changes across two different terminals. When I was finally on my flight, there were two screaming toddlers behind me the entire way. I generally don't care about kids on flights but at that point I was so tired that I was ready to yeet them out the window.

By the time I landed in Peoria and got back to my house, I'd been traveling for 22 hours. It was a really long day. But I finally made it home. 

And I'm home! Well, I'm actually at my dad's right now getting ready for Christmas, but it still stands. It was a rough couple of first days trying to adjust, especially since my suitcase still hadn't shown up. I think it's going to continue being rough trying to adjust to a different way of life again and deal with missing Isaac. But I'm just glad to have gone in the first place. It was an amazing semester that I'm never going to forget. I may feel cliche saying this, but this semester in London changed me. I loved it and I can't wait to go back.

For past weekly diaries, check out my study abroad page here.

Thanks for reading!

You can follow my bookstagram here. A brand new giveaway will be posted soon!

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Monday, December 23, 2019

Studying Abroad in London: Last Days & An Early Christmas

It's time to wrap-up my second to last week in London! At the time I write this, I'm already home and have been for a few days. But there's still so much I did in the last week and a half abroad and there's plenty for me to talk about. So, without further ado, here we go! 

December 9, 2019

We slept in a little bit on this day before Isaac and I got lunch and I headed to my last tutorial of the semester. It was a chill meeting that went pretty well and was over quickly enough that I got out relatively early in the afternoon. That was it for classes and tutorials! After that, I just had to finish all of my assessments.

When I got back we watched Psych for a while before heading to the library where we stayed most of the night. I had to make serious progress on my biggest assignment of the semester so that I could finish it all on Tuesday. When we finished there, we headed back to the flat, ordered chicken, and watched Psych till late. 

December 10, 2019

We slept in pretty late on Tuesday before going to get lunch and chilling throughout the afternoon. I booked a study room a bit later so we ended up picking up dinner to go and bringing it to the library. We ate that and I got all settled in for the next few hours.

I worked for a long time on my creative writing portfolio. It was comprised of 5 short stories, each of which had to relate to a different excursion outing we did in London. Trying to write all of these in a short period of time and revise them was so draining creatively. I definitely want to explore a few of the pieces further and maybe make them longer, but for now I am burned out on writing. By the time I revised everything, formatted the portfolio, and turned everything in, we'd been at the library for EIGHT hours.

We got back a little after 2 am and watched some more Psych before crashing hard from exhaustion. 

December 11, 2019

Again, Wednesday we slept in before heading to lunch. The lunch that day in the diner turned out to be Christmas roast that was a nice surprise and super yummy for the equivalent of cafeteria food. The British really do know how to do roast dinner.

That afternoon, I went to a farewell celebration with a friend of mine, Sarah, that was put on by the abroad team. We got a swag bag and free food and drinks before the presentation started--I tried mince pie and mulled wine! The pie was alright but the mulled wine was delicious. Then there was just a short presentation and information session about leaving, options for further studies at Roehampton, and general stuff.

After that, Isaac and I chilled for a bit before getting ready to go out. We--Isaac and I with a group of our flatmates--went to Revolution Putney, a bar/restaurant/club that Isaac works at. It was a really fun time. The food was really yummy and we got quite a few drinks to try that were nice.

When we left Revolution, we went to a chicken shop up the street that Isaac and I liked. It sells some of the best chicken I've ever had and I knew I wanted to have it at least one last time before I left London. A bunch of us got it and then brought it back with us. When we got back, we hung out in the kitchen eating and just chilling.

A little later, Isaac and I went back to his room to play some video games since neither of us were really tired. Not to brag or anything, but I definitely kicked his ass. After the video games, we stayed up pretty late just talking before we finally fell  asleep.

December 12, 2019

We slept in late again before Isaac went off to go vote. We got to hang out for a bit before he head to head to work. In the end, I mainly just hung around all day, though I did sit in the kitchen for a bit at dinner time before retiring to my room to get some work done. I revised and turned in my second longest assignment of the semester and then did some other blog-related stuff before I started in on another assignment that I had due on Monday.

December 13, 2019

On Friday, we slept in and then packed up half of my room into one suitcase. Isaac's family was in town so we managed to send it with them, which I'm still grateful for since I didn't have to drag it on two trains.

I'd like to say I worked on my essay when Isaac went to work, but I didn't. I worked on Christmas presents for a bit before falling asleep actually really early and not waking up until Isaac got back hours later. 

December 14, 2019

On Saturday, we both slept in before continuing packing up the rest of my room. Isaac went to work and I just continued working on Christmas presents and packing for a bit. I was really hungry so I ended up ordering food and Skyped my dad while I ate.

When I got off Skype, I was bombarded with hugs from my flatmates. We were all hanging around to say goodbye and there were a lot of tears involved. It didn't hit me at first that this was goodbye, but the tears came when I started to think about the fact I wasn't going to see all of them for a very long time, if ever again.

After the hug fest, I worked a bit on my essay and packing before Isaac got back from work. 

December 15, 2019

We decided not to sleep and instead just finished packing and cleaning before catching the earliest train to Basingstoke since we wanted to be there by noon and it was already 5 AM. I did take a Dramamine-induced nap on the train and then we both napped when we got to Isaac's house.

After our long nap, we hung out with his family for an early Christmas which was really fun. We opened a few presents and then had an absolutely amazingly delicious Christmas dinner (I'm still thinking about it a week later) followed by desert while we played some of the new games that had been opened.

We all vegged out for a bit and ate watched a show I'd never heard of before. Snacks were brought out and were so tasty. Isaac and I both passed out on the couch, though, during that. We ended up going to bed early after that.

I forced myself to only take a short nap, though, before making myself get up and finish my essay that was due then next day. I managed to finish it and turn it in relatively quickly, even though it's not the best essay I've ever written, before reading a bit on my phone and falling asleep. 

Overall, it was a pretty good week. I was mostly focused on my final assessments and packing to leave, but I also had a great last few days with my flatmates. I still have a few more days to talk about in my next (and final) post but I can already say that I'm home and feeling very homesick for London already. What they say about struggling to adjust back to normal life is definitely true. But that's all talk for the next post!

For past weekly diaries, check out my study abroad page here.

Thanks for reading!

You can follow my bookstagram here. A brand new giveaway will be posted soon!

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I am a "BookishTextDesign" Influencer! Use my code LAUREN10 for a discount off your bookmark purchases! Check out the shop here

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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Studying Abroad in London: Date Nights & Gift Giving

This past week was pretty chill with a few exciting events here and there. I had a lot of homework that I was starting on (and am still working on) but I mostly spent the week hanging out with Isaac and my other flatmates to get some quality time in before I leave in 9 days. Anyway, without further ado, let's go ahead and jump straight in!

December 2, 2019

Monday was a pretty chill day. The strikes were still going on so we slept in and just chilled for a bit since we didn't have lectures. I continued working on homework throughout the afternoon and then it was time for the flat Secret Santa!

I had been excited about Secret Santa for days since I'd gotten my gift all put together and wrapped and cute so when the time finally came for it I was pumped. We all gathered in the kitchen and did the system with one person opening at a time and then guessing who it is.

The funniest moments were when people were opening their gifts but the wrapping was completely extra, such as one of our friends who Isaac had. He wrapped their gift in approximately a million shopping bags and taped each individual one and so they had to open all of those to get to the gift. It was hilarious.

I also got an amazing Secret Santa present from one of my study abroad friends: a bookstore gift card! Obviously I love books and I've already spent it but I've been so excited since I opened the gift and saw that.

After Secret Santa ended, Isaac and I retreated back to my room to watch some more Psych and open our advent calendars! I'd never had an advent calendar before and I love it so much, especially because it means I get a daily dose of chocolate.

(Also, I thought I had pictures of that night but I apparently don't, which is very sad)

December 3, 2019

Tuesday was very chill. It was the last day of the strike so neither of us had lectures and were able to sleep in. Other than sleeping in, we didn't do much other than watch Psych and get lunch, though I did do some homework.

December 4, 2019

Wednesday morning I did have to wake up at a reasonable time so that I could go to a tutorial in place of class. It was my last scheduled event for that class, so once I turn in my creative portfolio on the 11th I'll officially be done with it!

After my tutorial I went to lunch before watching Psych most of the afternoon with Isaac. He had to go to work that evening so I made myself dinner and then headed to the library to work on homework for a few hours. 

December 5, 2019

Thursday was a big day for us, aka our day out in London. We--being me and Isaac--woke up at a reasonable time so that we could catch our train into Central London. Luckily, we didn't have to go far so I was able to avoid having to take dramamine. We arrived at the Victoria Palace Theatre a little bit early for Hamilton.

After I'd seen Hamilton the first time, we looked up tickets to see if there were any cheap ones left this semester so that Isaac could see it and we were lucky to find a pair for less than 40 pounds each. We were the very last row of the theatre where there was absolutely no leg room but I still enjoyed the show, though I wouldn't get those seats again. Last time I saw Hamilton, I was closer and in the Stalls so I was able to see emotions and characters easier, but this time, because we were so far back, I could see how all the dancing and choreographed bits worked as a whole, which was cool.

When Hamilton got out we hopped the tube over to Leicester Square to go to the Christmas Market there. Surprisingly, it was quite tiny, especially compared to the one in Edinburgh. However, we were then able to walk to the Trafalgar Square Christmas Market, too, so it was like a two-for-one.

We were quite lucky on timing because when we got to Trafalgar Square, they were actually doing the tree-lighting ceremony there. Apparently the tree in Trafalgar Square is the most famous tree in London and is actually a gift from Norway every year. A bunch of the officials and important people  from Norway were there to give speeches and help light the tree, so it was quite cool to see that since we weren't planning on going to it.

After that, we wandered over to Piccadilly Circus and found a restaurant to have dinner in. It was a steak restaurant and quite busy. I had a really nice meal, though I think Isaac and I both agreed the other steak place we'd gone to before was better.

When we left dinner, we wandered around a bit to some different souvenir  shops to find a very specific item. It took us going to SIX different souvenir shops before we finally found it, so that was definitely an interesting experience.

We then started walking towards Waterloo station. We took a new bridge over the Thames and ended up at another Christmas Market, which was cool. There was also a bookstore there so we browsed for a bit before going through the rest of the market and then hopping a train back to campus.

When we got back, we just hung out for a bit watching Psych before bed.

December 6, 2019

I missed my alarm on Friday and was almost late for class, but I was able to get ready in five minutes so I just barely made it. It was my last lecture of the semester, though, so I didn't want to miss it. Plus, our lecturer gave us chocolate and we did a little Gothic-themed quiz which was fun.

After class, Isaac and I went to lunch and then just chilled for a bit before he had to go to work. While he was gone, I worked on some homework and watched Netflix. He came back early and brought CHICKEN. I about died--it was the best chicken tenders I'd ever had--and I get so hungry whenever I think of them. We watched Psych while we ate and ended up going to bed pretty late.

December 7, 2019

We slept in again on Saturday before getting lunch and then Isaac had to go to work. I made myself dinner and hung out with my flatmates for a bit before I dived into a long night of homework. 

December 8, 2019

On Sunday, it was pretty much the same. We slept in, got food, and then went to the library where I worked on homework. When we got back, we stayed on brand and watched some more Psych to round out the week. 

Well there you have it! Another week in the books. The next week is not going to be very interesting  for most of the week since I'm just going to be cramming in homework and stuff so that I can enjoy my final week here. I can't believe it's the 10th right now and I got home in in just 9 days. I'm both excited and sad to be leaving. I obviously miss everyone back home and when I do go home I'll be able to see my family and books and have Christmas, but I'm going to miss my friends and London, but especially Isaac. Hopefully I can make the most of this last week and a half!

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Studying Abroad in London: Strikes & A British Thanksgiving

After the whirlwind weekends of Paris and Edinburgh, it was nice to just have a chill week off. Still, there were plenty of things that happened. I visited Isaac's hometown again, I had a British Thanksgiving, and I started getting serious about final assessments.

The reason why we visited Basingstoke and I didn't go to any lectures was because lecturers across the UK were striking from November 25th-December 3rd. There were a variety of reasons as to why, but if you're interested in knowing more, check out this article

November 25, 2019

After getting into Basingstoke rather late on Sunday, we slept in pretty late before heading to the grocery store to pick up stuff for dinner and breakfast. On our way back, we stopped and got lunch to take back and eat while we watched some shows.

When we finished lunch, I got started on being productive on blog posts and whatnot while we watched shows on the couch. After a while, we started in on making dinner--steak! I love me some steak and potatoes. Once we finished eating, Isaac headed off to football while I continued being productive on blog and school work. 

November 26, 2019

Tuesday was another lazy day in. I made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and then we ate them while catching up I'm A Celeb and some more Psych for the rest of the day. At the end of the day, we ate dinner with Isaac's family before we all sat around playing games and eating candy. Not to brag or anything, but I totally kicked ass at Words with Friends. After games, Isaac and I watched a couple episodes of Psych before heading to bed. 

The other exciting thing that happened on Tuesday was that I hit 100,000 blog views! I've been doing this for so long and I can't believe that I finally hit 100k!

November 27, 2019

On Wednesday, in typical fashion, we slept in late and watched Psych all day before Isaac went off to play racquetball with his dad. After that, we ate dinner and packed up the rest of our stuff to head back to campus. On the way back, we stopped at ASDA to get groceries before finally getting back to Roehampton. 

November 28, 2019

On Thursday we slept in and didn't really  have a productive day. I got jealous over seeing everyone's Thanksgiving meals on Snapchat and Instagram before I went to the one the college hosted with one of my friends.

It was a nice meal. The food was good and you could tell that the college really put a lot of thought into it. As a Thanksgiving meal it wasn't that great, but as a regular old dinner it was fantastic. I got  bacon-wrapped turkey, a bunch of veggies, and even mac n cheese. Afterwards, I went back to my room to watch Psych with Isaac and eat ice cream. 

November 29, 2019

We slept in on Friday again before going to lunch and then heading back to be productive. I made a day-by-day schedule of all the assignments and other things I had to get done before the end of the semester since I want to finish them before the 13th.

Isaac had to head to his first day at work so I stayed in the library until almost midnight working on various blog and homework things. It was almost midnight before I got back to the dorm where I continued working on things before I fell asleep waiting for Isaac to get back. 

November 30, 2019

On Saturday we slept in before getting lunch. After that, I worked on homework and hung out with Isaac throughout the day until he had to go to work again. Instead of being productive, though, I watched Christmas movies and then started reading a book for review.

I stayed up reading and to let Isaac in after he got done with work. I ended up finishing the book a bit after Isaac got back. By the time we ended up falling asleep, it was about 5 am. 

December 1, 2019

We obviously slept in on Sunday before spending the day  working on homework and studying. Afterwards, we went and got food for dinner before watching Psych before bed. 

It wasn't a particularly exciting week but I did enjoy every day of it. I know next week will be a bit stressful with how many assignments I have to do but I'm still going to try to make the most of it before I have to head back home to good ol' Illinois.

For past weekly diaries, check out my study abroad page here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

November 2019 Wrap-Up!

So November was a very eventful month in terms of traveling and exploring. I only managed to read three books, but I did enjoy 2 of them so I'd call it a win. I'm thinking that December will be a more productive month in terms of reading since I'll be on winter break back home and not really doing anything except spending time with my family and reading. But, anyway, let's just dive into November!

Title: A Match Made in Mehendi 
Author: Nandini Bajpai
Rating: 4 // 5 stars 

Title: Mrs. Dalloway
Author: Virginia Woolf
Rating: n/a -- read for class
I ended up DNF'ing this partway through. I had to read this for a class presentation but, as I didn't have to focus on the novel as a whole and instead just on excerpts, I can DNF it and not feel any worry. I really wanted to get through the entire thing but I. just. couldn't. I get that there's an actual plot. I get there's social commentary and all that jazz. But I just don't care because it's so boring. I can understand it fine if I read closely and annotate in the margins but that takes so long. At this point, I've already spent almost three and a half hours on this book and not gotten even halfway? But because I spent so much time on it I'm damn well counting it towards my reading challenge. I could have read an entire novel I actually wanted to read in that amount of time. Overall, I just don't care enough at this stage of my life to even attempt to finish this. It's just...not good.

Title: The Last Namsara
Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Rating: 4.25 // 5 stars


October 2019 Wrap-Up
Studying Abroad in London: Mormons & A Welsh Adventure
Studying Abroad in London: A Very Harry Potter Week
Studying Abroad in London: A Parisian Adventure
End of the Year Book Tag: 2019 Edition
Thanksgiving Book Tag: 2019 Edition
Studying Abroad in London: Edinburgh Adventures

Thanks for reading!

You can follow my bookstagram here. A brand new giveaway will be posted soon!

To get more awesome content like this post, click the follow button to the right!

I am a "BookishTextDesign" Influencer! Use my code LAUREN10 for a discount off your bookmark purchases! Check out the shop here

Get free worldwide shipping with Book Depository using my affiliate link