The “Tamara Attempts to Hold A Ridiculous Amount of Books” Haul

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I always tell myself I’m going to start buying less books, because there are ARCs and the library and books I already own but that usually lasts about two weeks, as you will see from the amount of books I have to show off in today’s haul… Then again, I haven’t posted a book haul since the end of November, and it’s the beginning of April so considering its been four months this isn’t that bad, right? (haha nope it’s terrible and I’ve run out of shelf space)

I Was Given These (So They Aren’t My Fault)

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At the end of December I participated in The Broke and the Bookish Secret Santa, and my Secret Santa sent me copies of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater. This are both uber popular books I hadn’t read yet so that was exciting!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith was sent to me by Quirk Books along with a bunch of posters and swag for their various books.

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I had the luck this year to win not one but two 2016 debut preorder giveaways. From Jamie @ Books and Ladders I won A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro. I read ASIC in fall and absolutely adored it. I look forward to reading it in finished hardcover format. Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles gave me a copy of The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig, a book I likewise enjoyed. This one also has glorious maps. Yes, mapS, plural. I am so in love with it.

All of the ARCs

Over the summer a new bookstore moved into the space right next to my school, and I’ve been hanging out there during my free period every day since fall. It’s an adult bookstore, but they were somehow sent a box of YA ARCs and the owner was kind enough to pass them onto me to read and review. Thanks to Subtext Books and Harper Teen!

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Behind the Canvas by Alexander Vance and Goldfish by Nat Luurtsema were sent to me by the marvelous MC @ Blame It on the Books who picked them up for me at a convention she attended. I hadn’t heard of Goldfish before, but she grabbed it specially for me because it features my sport, synchronized swimming! I’ve never seen synchro in a book before so this is super exciting. Thank you MC!

Releases, Releases, Releases

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Last we come to the new releases: All the fresh-off-the-press books that were far too tempting for me not to preorder/buy. I always think fall is the super book release heavy time, and is, but boy does winter have some great offerings as well. Sequels galore!

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All the new (beautiful hardcover) releases I bought/had preordered for me (thanks Mom) in the last few months are…

Have you read any of these books? Did you acquire any new books recently?

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11 #Bookstagram-ers You Should Be Following

It’s safe to say that I am obsessed with instagram. I have three accounts, I browse the explore tab in my free time, and I have many, many favorite accounts whose pages I frequent just to stare at all the pretty things they’ve posted in the past.

As a bookworm, many of the photos and accounts I like, post, and frequent of course fall into the category of ‘bookstagram.’ A whole community entirely devoted to photographing books in the most beautiful and eye-catching ways possible? Yes please.

In the interest of sharing this love of book instagramming with more people, and with this week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt of “Bookish People You Should Follow On Social Media,” I have made a list of my 11 favorite #bookstagram-ers. These are all accounts that I love and that inspire me, and hopefully you will love them too!

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#1 and #2: @twirlingpages and @blueeyedbiblio

If you’ve scrolled through bookstagram for length of time, you’ve almost definitely heard about both Alexandra and Emily. Their accounts and photos (and just general personality) are my very favorite. I don’t really want to admit how many hours I’ve spent scrolling through their feeds. or how many screenshots I have of those feeds stored on my phone They both also have pretty bomb blogs too.

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#3: @rookie.reads

This is obviously a feed after my own heart: just look at all that color! How every photo looks entirely unique! I also love how casual the pictures look, with all the props being everyday objects.

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#4: @mybookacademy

I’ve personally never been able to pull off the “cluttered photo” look, but Sally does it in every one of her photos in the most beautiful of ways. I love the use of twinkle lights and multiple books in each photo and hair accessories and snacks and everything. 

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#5: @infinitelynovel

I love how Kate always manages to keep a perfect balance of both clean and colorful in her photos, with all the bright books and props and the white background. The bear slippers and funko pop figure that often appear in her photos are also adorable.

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#6: @clockworkbibliophile

Olivia makes use of both book photos shot on location (books held up in front of a blurred background of nature are just my jam) and the classic “books posed on background of blankets/white sheets” in great ways that I really appreciate.

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#7: @bookishnessandtea

Ava has such a unique and different style when it comes to book photography! Her account contains everything from the classic #shelfie, to crazy photos of books in midair, (seriously how does anyone take those?) to books being read at the edge of a pretty blue lake.

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#8: @bookvibes

Rebecca’s photos are just so aesthetic. The use of dark colors and different sorts of lighting is stunning, and the background made out of book pages and the occasional appearance of different sorts of flowers and plant life is just gorgeous.

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#9: @seelieknight

Viktoria’s feed kind of just makes my life. Each photo is individually beautiful, and they all match somehow so put together they make something entirely breathtaking. I am amazed at the occasional picture that doesn’t contain anything overtly bookish but still fits perfectly with everything else. My goal in life is to be able to vary my photos as much and still have as put together of an account as this one is.

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#10: @em.emxx

Speaking of amazingly varied photos, Em also takes all sorts of very different bookish pictures in very different locations. Every one of the photos on this account are so colorful and beautiful. I also love and kind of wish I had Em’s outfit sense and closet.

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#11: Me! (@tamaraniac)

At the risk of sounding egotistical, I think my own bookstagram account is pretty fantastic. Check it out and follow it, maybe?

Do you enjoy #Bookstagram as much as I do? What are some of your favorite Instagram accounts? Let me know in the comments!

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Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1) by Cassandra Clare // Review

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Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1) by Cassandra Clare, Published by Simon and Schuster, Borrowed from the Library. Buy this book: Indiebound // The Book Depository

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

I don’t know much of anything about the Shadowhunters universe. I read City of Bones in middle school, didn’t really like it, and never bothered picking up the rest of the series. But a few weeks ago Lady Midnight was released and everyone was so excited about it and people were saying it was great so I got excited about it… And checked it out from the library when I saw the shiny new copy on display.

Lady Midnight is the first book in a new series that is a part of the larger Shadowhunters series. That whole description is a little confusing, yeah, but even for an “outsider” like me the book was easy enough to understand. There were a couple moments that had me going “wait… what/who are they talking about here?” but most of the time things were explained or introduced in a way that I thought worked well enough.

My main impression of Lady Midnight is: “good, but not great.” As in, I enjoyed it and can’t find anything but small flaws in it, but I also don’t think it’s the greatest thing ever or is any sort of new favorite. I want to continue this particular shadowhunters series (heck after the entire ending of this book how can I not) but it wasn’t the level of good where I finished it and was like “I need to read every single book in this universe so I can understand E V E R Y T H I N G!”

The only real issue I had with this book is that it occasionally felt so loooooong. After having read two 1000+ page books this month, ~600 pages sounded short but didn’t always feel short. The pattern was generally one slow chapter, three super fast chapters, another lull of a chapter or so, and then a good 50 pages where exciting stuff happened. The pacing just felt a little off. I think a few of the not-so-tense moments could have been condensed more and a few of the plot heavy parts maybe needed to be drawn out a tiiiny bit.

What I liked included…

  • The characters and team/family dynamic: I love books where large groups of characters work together closely in a team. In Lady Midnight that team was made up of a large family of siblings which was just all together adorable.
  • The magic/world: I will admit it; the shadowhunter world, while not monstrously unique, is pretty cool.
  • The plot: It dragged occasionally and sometimes took some unnecessarily detours, but the story as a whole was good and lined up well.
  • Mark Blackthorn (Mark is hilarious and precious and I love him)

4stars

Have you read Lady Midnight? Do you plan to? Do you think I should try the other Shadowhunters books? (the coordinating spines on the new editions are sure calling to me…)

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February 2016 Wrap-Up

February feels like it just disappeared on me, because I spent most of it doing a lot of synchro practice in preparation for the competition I had this past weekend and the next one that I have this weekend. (it’s a crazy schedule this year) Last week’s was in Colorado and was our “North Zone” competition, meaning it was for the north quarter on the United States. It wasn’t a high stress meet because we weren’t trying to qualify for anything this year, but some of the swims were pretty rough. We redeemed ourself on the final day though, and ended up taking 7th in Combo and 3rd in the Senior Team category.

This week’s competition is actually the Minnesota state meet. This meet is in a different category so we are trying to qualify for the next level (regionals) but that shouldn’t be too difficult, especially since we’re in our team pool for this one!

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Also, in a moment of experimentation I decided to start a personal/non-book related instagram and tried my hand at my first ever lifestyle-type-post this month. I really enjoy both of these ventures, so I do plan to continue with them.

What I’ve Been Reading:

February was a kind of poor reading month because I spent the beginning of the month waiting for the third Reckoners book to be released, (and kind of recovering from the most recent Mistborn book) and the second half recovering from it. So many Sanderson releases at a time is just not good for my health.

On the top of the books I finished I am currently halfway-ish through Rebel Spring (Falling Kingdoms #2) by Morgan Rhodes, and The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. I’m really enjoying The Way of Kings (it’s huge!) but am struggling a little bit with Rebel Spring. I want to like the Falling Kingdoms series but I’m just, well, bored.

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(as a side note: Sanderson’s next YA series, Apocalypse Guard, was announced today and it has been said it ties in with the Reckoners series so, hmmm. HMMM. Maybe I will get the extended story that I so want…)

Quote of the Month:

“… a sunrise, always changing, but beautiful the entire time.” Calamity by Brandon Sanderson, pg 137

Music of the Month:

I stole most of these songs from spotify playlists created by Alexandra @ Twirling Pages, and a few from synchro routines I couldn’t get out of my head…

On the Blog:

Reviews:

Features:

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A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro // ARC Review

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A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro, Published by Harper Teen, ARC received from the publisher through Red Ballon’s Teen Book Club in exchange for an honest review.

The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John Watson–wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who’s inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.

A Study In Charlotte is a delightful Sherlock Holmes retelling filled with witty jokes and wonderful characters.

Before I even picked up this book I was a little in love with the concept. I love the Sherlock Holmes stories, and I tend to readily jump into modern adaptations of those stories. Sometimes those adaptations work, and sometimes they really, really don’t. This was one that worked wonderfully.

“In that moment, I would’ve followed her anywhere” 28, ARC

studyincharlottereadingMy favorite part of A Study In Charlotte was how the characters were descendants of the original Holmes and Watson. I have found that adaptations of Sherlock Holmes never seem to truly capture the original duo, so I was glad that this book didn’t even try. Instead, in the book’s universe both Sherlock and John were very real people, and have families descended from them. Both the Holmes and Watson families are a bit odd and carry certain traits of their ancestors. I just loved that whole concept, with a bunch of Holmeses and Watsons running around and putting themselves in danger, and with the Watson and Holmes of the same age becoming friends and solving crimes. Adorable.

“With role models like him, it was surprising I wasn’t already in jail” 47, ARC

I also really enjoyed how it was set at a boarding school. I recently heard Rainbow Rowell speak about Carry On, and she talked about how setting novels about kids at boarding school is a great way to get rid of parents. (without killing them all) I was kind of thinking about that while reading this book, and wow was boarding school a great setting for this book. It really added to the whole mystery – students at the school are dying and it could be anyone on campus who they might be living right next too.

A Study In Charlotte did a great job with talking about tough topics. This book deals with some pretty sensitive things such as crime, addiction, sexual assault, and I think it did those topics a great deal of justice. It didn’t dumb anything down, and dealt with the victims in the situation kindly while still dealing with that situation as the dark, scary, and harmful thing it is.

Charlotte and Jamie were honestly the best Holmesian descendant main characters I could have asked for. They were so perfectly Holmes and Watson but also not at all, because Holmes and Watson are their great-great-great-grandparents and they’re their own people of course. Their whole dynamic was fantastic. (I love them so much) I also feel for Jamie quite in a lot of different little ways. He’s a very relatable character who has a lot of very relatable problems, along with a few problems that aren’t quite so common. (please love him like I do)

“We’re talking about Charlotte Holmes, here. I think she has complicated relationships with the skeletons in her lab. Nothing is straightforward to her” 197, ARC

In conclusion: Great retelling, great characters, gorgeous cover. If you love Sherlock Holmes stories, you won’t be disappointed! 

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A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro will be published on March 1st, 2016.

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