Mini-Reviews: Quick Middle Grade Reads (Isabella for Real + The Bronze Key)

Isabella for Real by Margie Palatini, Published by HMH Books, ARC received from the publisher through Red Ballon’s Teen Book Club in exchange for an honest review. Buy this Book: Indiebound // The Book Depository.

This was cute! A nice little middle-grade romp intensely focused on one huge Italian-American family in New Jersey. It all starts with a ridiculous case of mistaken identity, and you meet a lot of interesting characters. It’s also written somewhat like a script, with takes and scene changes, and has a couple of scenes in a comic book form.

What I Liked:

  • Isabella’s eccentric relatives.
  • The food talk. Mmm. I want to eat it all.
  • Interesting concept with unexpected internet stardom being the thing to actually cause the problems.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Changing from the comic book parts to the written parts felt very abrupt. I enjoyed the illustrated parts the most, so I almost wanted the entire thing to be a graphic novel?
  • It was very confusing at the beginning. It was a while before anything was actually explained.
    Not very exciting. The conflict was there but didn’t feel like a big deal.
  • It ended up being a sort of full circle situation with not much resolution.

On the plus side, Isabella for Real was very short. But it was also not very exciting and not as unique as I thought it would be.

Isabella for Real will be released on October 11th, 2016.

3stars

The Bronze Key (Magisterium #3) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, Published by Scholastic, ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Buy this Book: Indiebound // The Book Depository.

I am going to go ahead and say that this was the best book in the Magisterium series so far. It was more unexpected than The Copper Gauntlet, more exciting than The Iron Trial, and it made me more emotional than either of them. After reading The Bronze Key I want to both scream and cry. In a good way… But also in a very bad way. I am in PAIN. And shock… because I still can’t quite believe it.

I guess you’ll just have to read it.

What I Liked:

  • A fair bit of character development.
  • TONS of plot development.
  • Unexpected and exciting.
  • Seriously I don’t know where they’re going to go from here because this is the kind of stuff I’d expect happening in the last book.
  • Strong third book to lead to the second half of this series!

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The romance stuff was so unneeded; I don’t get why that was in there. Ugh.
  • Why?
  • Why?
  • Why?!

I can’t wait (in a mean way) for everyone else to read this book, so people can share my pain. Also, I don’t know how I’m going to wait more than a year for the fourth book. 😭😭😭

The Bronze Key (Magisterium #3) will be released on August 30th, 2016.

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One Last Time

I’ve lived in the same place my entire life. Saint Paul, Minnesota. The Twin Cities. I love it here: I really do. We have mountains of independent bookstores, (including three focused on young adult lit) a great art scene, an incredible library system, and basically every kind of store or restaurant you could ever want.

But, I’ve always been a sort of restless person. I get exhausted by doing the same thing day in and day out. I love discovering new places. My family has always traveled as much as possible, and that’s something that’s very important to who I am. I knew that for college I couldn’t stay in the same city… Or really the same state.

In a few days I leave for that (somewhat) far away college. The University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, about 7 hours and 500 miles from my childhood home. Even though I’m ecstatic to live somewhere entirely new, I still know I’m going to miss it here. So in this last week I’ve tried to fit as many of my favorite things as I can, while still participating in a few hometown activities that I’d never done before.

aug9smallFirst, I know I am seriously going to miss all the favorite books that I can’t possibly bring with me to college. I know it’s cliche to say but I am missing them already. I want to re-read them all simply because I will suddenly have no access to them. Part of it is silliness, part of it will probably prompt me to bring a few more book than I intended, and for part of it… Well, I’ve done a little re-reading. I read The Accidental Hero by Matt Myklusch, and am working on reading the sequel, but I don’t know if I’m going to make it before Tuesday. I also think I’m going to be adding Sanderson’s Alcatraz series to my bag so I can revisit before the final book is released. Pretty sure I’m more excited for that book than I am about turning 18.

I’ve been spending a lot of time with friends. Any chance I get. On Thursday all of my greatest friends from my school orchestra took a trip to a lake beach. We did a little swimming, even though I kind of hate swimming in freshwater. We grilled burgers and brats and ate chips and cookies. One of my friends gets there and pulls out a knife and cutting board to cut tomatoes and onions and lettuce for the burgers, and then pulls out his own grill to make the food on instead of using the (slightly questionable) parkside grills. We don’t call him superman for nothing.

That night I picked up the first season of The Newsroom from the library and finally got one of my other friends into watching it. I adore that show. It’s witty, fast-paced, and fascinating. Even in it’s third or fourth watch it stands up completely.

I went to my first baseball game. I had wanted to do that this summer. I thought it wasn’t going to happen since the brand new field caused the tickets to be constantly sold out. But then miraculously my family won a pair of tickets at the farmers market, so I went off with a friend to see the Saint Paul Saints play the Sioux Falls Cardinals.

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We had a grand time drinking a malt, watching the game, amusing ourselves by observing the 3rd base coach named Sheldon who was for some reason wearing dress shoes and a hitter’s helmet, (jersey number 23!) and laughing at the antics put on between innings.

Lastly, I’ve been watching the Olympics. I love the Olympics so much. I managed to get access to NBC’s live streams of allll the events and I’ve been jumping around to whatever looks interesting. Fencing! Badminton! Sailing! This morning commenced the Synchronized Swimming competition with the Duet Free Routine Preliminaries, and obviously I watched the entire thing. My favorite performances were Russia, Spain, and Japan, though the US looked very good!

Looking forward, tonight I have a going away/graduation party of sorts, (I was too busy with synchro earlier this summer to have a traditional grad party) and on Monday I have my final YA Book Club at the Red Ballon Bookshop. This group has been so good to me. It got me into ARCs and reviewing, and led me to meet many great authors. I’m hoping I’ll be seeing this group again soon, even if I will no longer be high school age.

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Brandon Sanderson signing in April 2015 and the Penguin Teen tour in March 2016.

Even though I will be super busy now going into College, I’m planning on staying active on here with all my reviews of fall books and college adventures. And remember, you can also find me talking and live-tweeting synchro on my Twitter, and posting pictures on my latest reads on my Instagram.

♥, Tamara

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How to Choose What Books to Bring to College

Next Tuesday I leave home to move to college. I have many worries about moving in, and a few of those have to do with my books. I’m not necessarily worried about having enough reading material: I’ll be bringing my kindle and I can always check out ebooks from my home library. I am somewhat worried about having the right reading material. What if I want to re-read that one favorite book that I can’t easily get from the library where I am?

I also am worried about having enough material for my bookstagram. Probably the silliest sounding of my worries… But it’s a pretty big part of my life.

While I don’t yet know 100% whether I’ve made the right choices in the books I’m taking with me, today I’m going to be talking a little bit about my thought process in choosing books. Hopefully I can help out a fellow book blogging college freshman!

How many books do I really read in a semester?

On average, I read about 4-8 books per month. In my first semester of college I will be away from home for about four months: half of August, September, October, November, and half of December. By that count I should be bring about 20-40 books with me.

Okay, that number is ridiculous, and I know it’s ridiculous. I won’t be bringing 40, or even 20 books. For one, I can bring less because ebooks. Secondly, with my classes and extracurriculars I will probably be reading on the low end of my average.

Will I be acquiring any books while I’m there?

Short answer for me: No. There are really no bookstores where I’m going, and there is only one book being released soon that I know I will be buying.

Think about the space:

College dorm rooms are notoriously small. For me this is really not an issue. My dorm room is huge, (huge!) comes with a small bookshelf, and books are actually really easy to store. But if you have a really small room with little storage space it’s something to consider.

Which books do I bring? What will I want to read?

This is hardest for me because I am a huge mood reader. I’ve decided to bring a mix of my usually genres: middle grade scifi / fantasy, ya scifi / fantasy and contemporary, and one or two adult books.

I have also decided to bring pretty much all paperbacks and ARCs. They’re lighter, easier to carry, and easier to store.

Other things:

  • Most of the ARCs I’m bringing are upcoming fall releases. I have a lot of released ARCs but most of those will be staying at home. That way I’ll have books for review, and I can stay on top of new releases without buying any new books.
  • I have absolutely no idea what kind of books the university library or the local library there will have.
  • I’m planning on not exchanging books until the end of the semester, but I do have a long fall break where I’ll probably do some bookish reshuffling.

There you have it! My entire (not so) foolproof plan for choosing what books to bring to college. I’m not going to show you exactly what books I’m bringing because frankly, I’m not entirely decided yet, and I probably won’t be until the day I leave. It’s going to be weird not to have my bookshelves in my room… They might actually be one of the things I’m going to miss most about home.

What about you: Are you a college student? Do you bring books with you to school? How many? Do you have any tips on how to choose what to bring?

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Why I Love the Olympics + The Olympic Book Tag

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The olympics have long been one of my very favorite events to look forward to. There is just something about them: The camaraderie between competitors and countries, the bringing together of the best of the best athletes. It’s just amazing to me. I love hearing the life stories of the olympic athletes, and every year the olympics seems to bring about some sort of heartwarming story too.

I personally am an athlete myself, and as my sport is Synchronized Swimming, the summer olympics are kind of by default my favorite. I love to watch the swimming and diving events best, though the gymnastics and even the different races are great to watch to. Probably the high point in my time loving the olympics has been four years ago when I was able to go to the London 2012 olympics and see my sport competed live and in person.

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This week when I saw that Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight had made an olympic themed book tag in honor of the summer olympics in Rio (which start tonight!!!) I had to jump on the chance to complete it just in time for the opening ceremonies happening half a continent away from me.

Opening Ceremony : A Book You Loved From the First Page

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It starts out funny and it stays funny… While also becoming amazingly insightful and complex. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Though be prepared a good part of it is simply made of satire.

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July Wrap-Up + Harry Potter Release Party

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Harry Potter Releasing

Unless you have had no access to the bookworm community lately you probably know that on Saturday night the bound script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released! With all of the local bookstores in Saint Paul I had a plethora of release parties to choose from, but I of course had to go to Red Balloon Bookshop’s: partly because I love their events, and partly because that is the store where I so many years ago attended the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. (I was 8, by the way)

The store was wonderfully decorated, everyone was dressed up, we participated in a fun scavenger hunt through the store, there was cake for Harry’s birthday, and we all counted down to midnight. Even though the series is over it was great for everyone to come back together in their love for it for this release. I guess you could say it was sort of ~magical~

Traveling

At the very beginning of this month I came back from Nationals in New York, (we did moderately well) and then halfway through the month my family took a little trip to San Diego, California in which I learned to surf (!!) and took many pictures of palm trees. I also made a travel diary type video of the trip.

Packing for College

It’s happening. I don’t have everything together yet, but I have an idea of everything. I’ve been thinking about filming a “dorm haul” video and writing a post about the books I’ll be bringing, so you can look forward to that.

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What I’ve Been Reading

On the Blog

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