April Wrap-Up: I Finished My Last Semester of College! | My Semi-Hiatus ENDS HERE!

monthly wrap up

It’s finally May and I’M SO HAPPY! I’ve finished college FOREVER!! (not that it’s fully hit me–and probs won’t for another month or even till the fall).

This also means I now have time to ACTUALLY blog and read! So I’m announcing that my semi-hiatus has officially ended! From now on, I will regularly be posting (which will be about every 3 days or twice a week), actually responding to comments in a timely manner, and (hopefully) improving my blog hopping!

Despite finishing up the semester, I actually accomplished a decent amount of reading again! I finished a total of 6 books in April. Though half of them were for school, and the other half were erotic romances from Kindle Unlimited, but ya know, I’m okay with that. πŸ˜…

(Also, please be impressed that I’m posting this wrap-up during the first half of the month, lol)


BOOKS READ:

three books placed in front of a window

1. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Rating: 4.5 stars

This was such as unique and genre-defying novel! All of the characters are SO AMAZING and incredibly fleshed out and individualistic. Tho it’s sci-fi and involves space exploration/alien contact, it also deals with a lot of intense subjects like grief, depression, suicidal thoughts, and questioning faith (which I know is a turn off for manyβ€”including myself tbhβ€”but so many of the characters hold unique & unexpected perspectives on faith and it was super fascinating). Simply incredible! (Sad that I’ve heard iffy things about the sequel tho)

2. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

Rating: 4.5 stars

Y’all already what these books are about and how great they are, so I won’t linger. I loved diving deeper into the action in the 2nd volume, tho I still found it a bit slow at times. Totally here for all the bromances (that really should be romances, smh). Samwise Gamgee is my hero.

3. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien

Rating: 4.5 stars

Why does Tolkien write such INCREDIBLE BUT BITTERSWEET ENDINGS?!?

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Now for the smutty romance section of my monthly wrap-up…

4. Tangled Vows by Anna Stone

Rating: 3 stars

Have I mentioned I’m a hardcore Anna Stone fan now? I love the whole fake marriage leading to romance trope. (psst, how can I get paid to be someone’s stay-at-home fake wife???) But while I loved the dynamic, it definitely felt rushed; I kept expecting there to be a lot more to the story. Honestly, I thought these characters deserved a whole other book to flesh out their romance.

5. Smut by Karina Halle

Rating: 3.75 stars

I’ve waited so long to read this hate-to-love romance between two creative writing college students (who write their own smut together)! This story definitely worked up to the romance–nothing happened between the two characters until the second half. It was a super fun read and I also adored how Halle used the book to address the judgement that both (self-published) romance writers and romance readers face. Definitely gonna have to look into more books by this author.

6. Before You Say I Do by Clare Lydon

Rating: 3.5 stars

I was immediately struck by Lydon’s fleshed-out and confident writing style. I adored seeing the connection between Abby and Jordan. The ending was a total breezed-over HEA, but I adored it nonetheless. This book seemed to lean more towards romance than erotic romance. Will also be looking into more books by this author!


MAY TBR:

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I’m participating in the SeaMAYden-a-thon this May, and I’ve already posted my TBR here!

Additionally (and ambitiously), I’m hoping to finish up some of those books that have been sitting on my currently reading shelf for the longest time, but we’ll see. πŸ˜†


RANDOM LIFE UPDATES:

  • On April 30th, I finished the remainder of my final projects and officially FINISHED COLLEGE!!
    • Holy crap guys, I’m now like an adult adult and need to do things like find a job and ahhhhhhh (tho I don’t know how likely that is during quarantine, but I’m still gonna try)
  • My college’s English Department hosted a reading for senior creative writing students over Zoom and even though it was nerve-wrecking and awkward, I’m glad I got the chance to see the faces of my profs again and celebrate a bit with them ❀
  • On Easter, my housemates and I celebrated together by eating lots of yummy food–each of us made a different meal. I was in charge of dessert (yes, that’s a meal, and one that should be given greater importance), and I made individual chocolate cakes with gooey peanut butter centers. Under-baked them a bit, but they were still super rich & yummy!

six chocolate peanut butter mini cakes on a plate

  • I dyed my hair pink! Well, it’s more like I gave it a pink-ish tint, but still exciting nonetheless!
    • Yeah, as you can see by the pic below, not wearing gloves at first was a mistake
    • For anyone curious, I used Overtone‘s color-depositing conditioner (for brown hair), so it’s like a semi-permanent dye. You’re suppose to replenish it with their color-infused conditioners after washings, but I’m kinda bad at it so my hair has been fading a bit πŸ˜…
  • Managed to sneak away from my studies long enough to take some nice, meandering walks (and listen to an audiobook!). And I even remembered to document them with (cute?) selfies!
a young woman in a baseball cap and wearing earbuds
Can ya see the pink in my hair? Sorta?

How was your April? Read any good books to recommend? Did anyone else graduate or finish their semester? Are you also finding walking & baking to be helpful?

And seriously, if anyone wants/needs a friend to talk to, feel free to comment below or message me on Goodreads!

March Wrap-Up: Some Decent Reading Amid Craziness | My Semi-Hiatus Continues

monthly wrap up

Okay wow, how did March drag on forever but April is already like half over?? Didn’t April start like 2 days ago?

Well, despite the craziness of March, I still managed to read a decent amount: 6 books! (lol, thank you Kindle Unlimited trial for giving me access to all the smutty romances.) I actually managed to read a physical book for fun, which was such a nice change of pace (I’ve been having a hard time reading books for fun that aren’t on my phone).

And like the title noted, I’m still on my weird semi-hiatus thing which I noted here. I might try to squeeze in a review and/or a TTT post this month, but I have 3 weeks left of the semester, so I’m (hopefully) about to kick it into high-gear homework mode, so I’ll continue to be pretty absent. BUT COME MAY, when I’m done with college FOREVER, I’ll definitely be doing all the reading and blogging! It’s been so long since I’ve been fully active and I can’t wait to do more blog hopping and interacting with you all!

(Also wow, look at me posting a wrap-up in the first half of the month?!? Lol, what a concept πŸ˜… )


BOOKS READ:

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1. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott

Rating: 4.25 stars

A memoir by a Christian writer! Wasn’t expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. Really loved how real, honest, and different she was in talking about her experiences with religion. She’s also hilarious and reminded me of the memoirist Dawn Davies.

2. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Rating: 4 stars

Yes, I finally started and finished the first LOTR book! It was definitely a little slow for my tastes in the beginning, but wow, the characters are such a hoot! And my god, Tolkien is such an utterly astounding worldbuilder.

3. House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 4.25 stars

MY HEART! I started this shortly after the news of the pandemic came to fruition and my college kicked us to online classes, and honestly, this was the perfect comfort read! It was hilarious and dramatic and ahhhh, so much fun! Review to come soon! (either later this month or early May)

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4. Freeing Her by Anna Stone

Rating: 2.25 stars

The final book in the Irresistibly Bound series. Sadly, this one was my least favorite. The situation and attempted character background just felt extra forced and, if I remember correctly, the crisis was super short & weak.

5. Behind Closed Doors by Anna Stone

Rating: 3.5 stars

Oooh, this is gotta be one of my fav Anna Stone books, if not my all-time favorite! I adored that it was a work-place romance and that it had a twinge of mystery spun into it! Would def read this one again.

6. One Last Dance by Anna Stone

Rating: 2.5 stars

This one actually took me awhile to get through. I think part of it was that I’m just not big on dance/ballet books? Also, I really struggled with some of the messages and how utterly contradictory they were (e.g. one of the protagonists realized she needed to live her own life and not give it up for a lover and then went and did it again πŸ˜‘)


APRIL TBR:

  • Smut— Shhh, I technically already started & finished this book, but I’m still leaving it on here!
  • Aftershocks— Also already started this one. Got sent an ARC of the second one, so I wanted to check out the first book! Don’t usually pick up space sci-fi, but hoping it intrigues me.
  • The Downstairs Girl— Still have this checked out from my library. Fingers crossed I can squeeze it in during these upcoming crazy weeks!

RANDOM LIFE UPDATES:

  • Well, life got crazy, ya know, for everyone.
  • Managed to go out a few times for drinks with friends at the beginning of the month before the pandemic and social distancing guidelines were announced. So grateful we were able to do this.
  • Lol, I got invited to join some fancy honor society chapter at my college.
  • All my classes were moved to online for the rest of the semester, though I managed to get approval to stay on campus and continue living with my friends. Another thing I’m grateful for, because I know I would be extra stressed & unproductive at my house.
  • Went home for a bit and visited with my family and animals for spring break (luckily right before the stay-at-home order was announced for my state).
    • At my house, my roommate and I literally binge-watched all of season 1 of The Witcher in a 24 hour period. It was a time πŸ˜…
  • My housemates and I have been trying to struggling to stay on top of classes and our mental health, but we’ve managed to do a few fun things! We were suppose to go my friends’ formal, so because that was cancelled we had our own “formal” and got dressed up, had a family dinner, took pretty pictures and have a movie night. Here’s my fav pic from that night:

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Do I dare even ask how everyone’s March was? Hmm…I guess tell me about how your reading has been lately!? Any new book recommendations? How is everyone holding on? Please feel free to tell me about whatever down in the comments; I would love to talk you!

I hope everyone is staying safe & healthy! ❀

February Wrap-Up: Started a Trial of Kindle Unlimited and Now I’m Reading All the Smutty Romances, whoops

monthly wrap up

Dang it, I really meant to have this up at the beginning of March–where did the time go? I mean, I know where the time went…but I guess bonus points for me that it’s still March when I’m posting this?? (even tho it’s only barely still March)

So yeah, even tho this is super late, I am happy to say that I read a lot more in February than I did in January (7 books compared to January’s 2!). We’re half of them super smutty romances I got off Kindle Unlimited?? YEP, but smut books are still books, and thank goodness for them, because otherwise I’d be struggling with my GR goal (yes, I’ve been binge-reading them that much).


BOOKS READ:

book cover

1. What I Want You to See by Catherine Linka

Rating: 3.5 stars

I participated in the FFBC blog tour for this book in the beginning of February! It was an interesting read and definitely not like one I’ve read before. You can see my full review here.

two books on a light blue background surrounded by fake white flowers on a vine
Guys, I’m so proud of this image. Like, I actually took a bookish pic that I think looks pretty??

2. Blankets by Craig Thompson

Rating: 4.25 stars

We covered this graphic memoir in my Senior Seminar class! It was very intense, emotional, and captivating. And also SUPER LONG for a graphic novel (582 pages!). There are a lot of potential triggers in this memoir tho, so make sure to read with caution if you pick it up!

3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Rating: 4 stars

If you haven’t noticed yet, my lit class is working our way through JRR Tolkien’s works. The Hobbit was such a fun adventure and I’m so glad I’ve finally picked up this fantasy classic!

little women cover

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Rating: 4 stars

I actually picked up a classic?! Who am I? Well, actually my book club voted to read this book, so I didn’t really have a choice. πŸ˜… Though it definitely dragged it some places and was heavily ladled with morals, I was surprised to find myself growing to adore the March sisters and Laurie (especially Jo). The writing was easy to listen to (yes, I also actually listened to an audiobook!) and it was great to see the characters grow up. Shortly after finishing, my friends and I went out and saw the newest movie adaptation and omg, it was INCREDIBLE! I highly recommend it–it’s a definitely must see if you’ve read the book.

5. Being Hers by Anna Stone

Rating: 3 stars

6. Her Surrender by Anna Stone

Rating: 2.75 stars

7. Hers to Keep by Anna Stone

Rating: 3.25 stars

Immediately upon starting my Kindle Unlimited Trial, I found myself binge-reading Anna Stone’s BDSM f/f erotic romance series, Irresistibly Bound. I literally binge-read all four of these books within a week (I technically finished the last book in March, so you’ll see it in my next wrap-up!). I won’t deny that these books are very simplistic and formulaic, but the consistency was definitely a comfort and a nice palette cleanser. And I love how Stone’s characters’ relationships always stress the importance of communication. Hmm, I’m not sure that I could pick a favorite out of these. I love Being Hers because it particularly showcased communication and its importance. I enjoyed Her Surrender because one of the women was a sassy librarian and it had less BDSM elements. And I adored Hers to Keep for the relationship and the setting. Lol so basically I loved them all for different reasons.
I definitely plan to read all of Stone’s books now and continue to follow her career, so prepare to see more of her books in my future wrap-ups!


MARCH TBR:

  • The Woman in the Window– This month’s read for the book club I read
  • The Downstairs Girl– The next read for a YA book club I wanna participate in!
  • House of Earth and Blood– Come my spring break later this month, I am ready to devour this book
  • The Girl in Red– One of my GR groups is reading this is month and I actually own a copy so fingers crossed I can also squeeze it in, tho it’s relatively low priority

Well, these were my TBR plans at the beginning of the month, but due to the pandemic/my college shifting to online classes/my book clubs no longer able to meet, there’s not really any motivation to read these books. And I just finished House of Earth and Blood, lol. So for the rest of the month I will probably just focus on mood reading and finishing my current reads. (lol I say this as if there aren’t only 5 days left)


RANDOM LIFE UPDATES:

Honestly, February feels like ages ago and kinda irrelevant, so this will be a short list

  • Mid-Winter Break– Basically this was just a long weekend at the beginning of February where I got to go home! I got to see my fam and animals which was great but I also spent most of my time doing homework & studying for a midterm so it was not as relaxing as I had hoped
  • I was accepted to NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute! And one of my friends did to!
    • From today’s standpoint with the corona virus pandemic, I don’t know if the program will actually be able to run this summer. But if it doesn’t, I will likely defer to next summer.
  • Finally posted my 2019 Wrap-up! You can check it out here if ya want.
  • Had our first (and technically last) book club meeting of the semester. We read Little Women, which I mentioned above. There were only 3 of us there, but it was a fun discussion!
  • Finished a season of intramural inner tube water polo. Yes, you read that right. Water polo, in inner tubes! It was a fun and crazy season and even though we didn’t win the final game, we def won in my heart *not bitter at all here*.

How was your February? How are you all holding up? Have you read any of the books I mentioned?

Would love to talk with any of you, so please comment or feel free to friend & message me on Goodreads!

January Wrap-Up: A Rough Start on My Reading Goals, whoops + Beginning My Last Semester of College!!

monthly wrap up

Despite doing a lot of reading for classes, I barely finished reading any books in January?? And yes, we’re half way through the month again and I’m only just now wrapping up the previous month. (Sorry not sorry)

January was a decent but a little bit of an overwhelming month. Winter break quickly finished up and I returned to college for my final semester (EEEK!). It was great to be reunited with my friends and housemates, but I didn’t quite feel the same with classes and homework. 😝 Thank goodness I’m taking a lighter load of 3 classes (as opposed to 4) but they’re all fairly reading-heavy so in actuality it doesn’t feel that much lighter. As a result tho, I quickly fell off my writing & reading goals (which I talked about in my 2020 Goals post–my first and favorite post of January!). But I’m hoping (well maybe…possibly??) I can get back in the swing of things and get on top of my life. Fingers crossed. 🀞


BOOKS READ:

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1. The Will and the Wilds by Charlie N. Holmberg

Rating: 3.5 stars

My first read of 2020! It was a fun, quick & light romantic fantasy and a great palette cleanser! You can read my full review here.

2. Telling Secrets by Frederick Buechner

Rating: 3 stars

I read this short memoir for my senior seminar. Buechner showcases a lot of great writing, ideas, and character development, but I really struggled with how often he wrote from inside his head (as opposed to relaying a specific memory/scene). For only 106 pages, it took me awhile to get through this book.


FEBRUARY TBR:

  • The Unspoken Name— Buddy read w/ Sammie @ The Writerly Way! (Okay, technically this buddy read kinda already started AND ended, but shhh, I’m leaving this on here).
  • Little Women– Another book I’m already currently reading, but planning on completing this month!

I wish I could add more to this list, but even with a lighter load of classes, I’m still pretty swamped with lots of other readings to do!


Random Life Updates:

  • I started my last semester of college! AHHHH, how am I graduating in May??
  • Trying to remember how to do school after Winter Break was hard. I am still procrastinating. πŸ˜… Perhaps for my final semester I should actually learn to get my butt in gear and be on top of things?? Nahhh
  • I saw Melissa Albert on her The Night Country book tour! As always when getting my books signed, I was very awkward, but hey, at least I talked! I am so excited to pick up this sequel now!
  • Helped my mother take our cats to the vet and surprise surprise two of the 3 gained weight. My cat Lucky is now 17 pounds, eek! Also, we partly traumatized them in the process of trying to get all 3 of them to the vet (you get a discount if you bring all 3 in at once). It was a 3-person effort to get Lucky out from under my parents’ bed. πŸ˜… I swear all my cats are okay now though! And despite the weight concern, everything else about them came back as healthy!
orange cat hiding in a corner under a bench
This is my cat Gamer. He alternated between hiding under the bench in a corner and demanding to be petted.
  • Β I feel like there should be more to this list? But I guess I really did just spend most of the month procrastinating on homework, doing homework, hanging out with friends, going out for food, and oh, sorta scrambling to apply for things to do after college! (I did actually hear back from one but I’ll talk more about that in my February wrap-up πŸ˜‰ )

How was your January? Did you have a strong start to your goals or did ya fail like me? Do your animal companions also hate going to the vet? Have you read any of the books I mentioned?