Fall Semester Favorites

My first semester has been officially over for a while now and I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on the entire experience… As well as planning for next semester. I thought today I’d share a few of my new favorite things during this fall semester.

Doctor Who

This is actually a pretty recent one. I was obsessed with Doctor Who in middle school, and that obsession waned in high school. But I recently re-discovered it and I absolutely love it again! I really liked the latest seasons – Clara is a great companion (I love the interludes of her teaching) and I think Capaldi makes a really amazing doctor. He might just be my favorite doctor of the reboot.

Quarter-Zips and Down Vests

What I didn’t realize about moving to Illinois is that the climate would be different enough that my normal go-to outfits wouldn’t be quite right. I’ve found myself favoring sweatshirts over sweaters, and sometimes full coats are just too warm. My style has also changed a little too, and I’ve started to like the more preppy-style of fleeces with collars and down vests.

Staedtler Pens

I really like to write my lecture and class notes in a bright variety of pen colors. It helps me see where each lecture started and ended, and it also just makes me happy. I started out the year with a pack of colorful gel pens, but they were pretty much dead by the middle of the semester. During a weekend trip to Chicago I made a stop in an art store and purchased a set of steadtler pens, and while I’d shied away from them before over the increased cost, let me tell you they are worth it. The glide super well and barely bleed, and they have a beautiful color selection.

Best Friends Whenever

So, this was the series I marathoned over labor day weekend when everyone had gone home and the dorm was empty except for fellow out-of-state-ers. It was only the second week of school, too, so I really didn’t have much homework. I had been eye-ing this particular Disney channel series since it was first released (yes, I regularly watch TV and read books for 12 year olds…) and when I saw it was now on Netflix it was kind of a done deal. This show is basically about two high school friends who together are able to time travel thanks to experiments by their science-genius neighbor, and I marathoned it hardcore.

The Secret of a Heart Note

I didn’t read a ton during the semester, but out of the books I did read this was one of my favorites! It is super adorable, and the descriptions of flowers and plants were just gorgeous.

What have been some of your favorite things lately?

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My Favorite Books of 2016

The end of the year is upon us, so it is time for me to share my favorite books from 2016! I read quite a few less books this year than last year, so I had a bit less to choose from, but I still think I had some good picks this year.

the start of something new: favorite first in a series

One of the first books that really wow-ed me in 2016 was This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. I loved the setting and the plot, and I can’t wait to see where the second book goes.

following through: favorite sequel or part of a series

Last year my very favorite book was Illuminae, and my favorite second book was Gemina. It was SO FANTASTIC. If you like science fiction and haven’t started this series… Well, you definitely should.

finest finale: favorite conclusion

A lot of my favorite series had conclusions this year, but I didn’t find myself loving any of them. Actually, even though I liked but didn’t absolutely love Six of Crows, the best conclusion I read this year was Crooked Kingdom.

single and proud: favorite standalone

You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour was everything I hoped it was and more from this amazing pair of authors. I can’t even describe it… It was so good and I read it in a day.

best dressed: favorite cover

I haven’t read it yet, but The Sun Is Also A Star has one of the prettiest covers I’ve seen. The colors are wonderful, and I just love the texture of the jacket.

fantastically fantastical: favorite fantasy

I’m going to cheat and say Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, because I read it this year, and technically the edition of it I read was published this year…

super science-y: favorite sci-fi

I was super happy when I learned the author of one of my favorite trilogies, SJ Kincaid, would be writing a new science fiction book! And the book, The Diabolic, was no disappointment.

dream team: book(s) with the best friendship/squad

For this category this year I couldn’t pick just one book, as I read two with very different, but extraordinary, groups of characters.

The first one was The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson. It was as sweet and heartbreaking as any other Matson book, and it also had one of the most realistic, and fun, group of teenage friends I’ve ever read about.

Another book with a great group of characters was The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson. I just loved how hilarious and great this group was.

ship ship ship: book with the best romantic relationship

I only read it recently but I loved the ship in The Secret of A Heart Note. Overall, just a really cute book.

standing ovation: favorite book of the year

Unlike last year, it took me a while to decide what my very favorite book from this year was. While I really liked a lot of what I’ve read, there weren’t many that surprised me or which I was unbelievably amazed by.

However, there was one book that I think was really of the highest calibre, and I know is one I will read again and again. A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro was a fresh and clever Sherlock Holmes retelling with great characters, an intriguing mystery, and a world with so many possibilities. I’m really hapy this is a book I read.

What were your favorite books from this year?

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Timekeeper by Tara Sim (SST Review)

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Timekeeper by Tara Sim, Published by Sky Pony Press, ARC received through Sunday Street Team. 

“In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.”

The first thing that grabbed me about Timekeeper was the premise: instead of time running clocks, like it does in the real world, the clocks actually ran time.

That initial premise that I was so excited by in the summary led to some seriously cool worldbuilding. There’s the whole principle of the clocks, yes, but another thing we see in this book is that due to the clocks in this world, the industrial revolution happened early. So yes, Victorian gender roles are still a thing, but they’re not as much of a thing. One thing I often dislike about historical fiction is that it sometimes feels like it gets hung up on the facts of the time a little too much and that makes it boring or tedious for me. (The girls are either totally excepting of their life or are a huge “rebel.” There’s no in between. Meh) But, as a historical fantasy Timekeeper was able to make its own rules, which was fun.

One thing I didn’t like was the changing perspective in the book. I found it pretty jarring. In the first half of the book, the narrator was always Danny. Then, around the second half of the book, different perspectives start to be thrown in. We hear from different mechanics and see things that Danny certainly couldn’t have seen and it was just a little weird. I get that it was important information, but I think it could have been done a better way.

I also didn’t love the storybook bits of the mythology or “history” of the clocks. Again, important information, but the delivery was jarring. I wanted more world building, and those bits did sort of provide it, but not as much of it as I really wanted. I still have so many questions. 

Everything else, however, was solidly great. The characters were different and fun, and the plot was really engaging. The romance was pretty cool too, and I’m glad it wasn’t part of every aspect of the plot. Overall: a great steampunky read.

4stars

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The Dorm Room

Hi, everyone! It’s been a while. I’ve been super busy here at college, but today I am pumped to share with you what my dorm room looks like. 😊

As you may know, I am attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. One great thing about this school is that it has some pretty nice dorms. But I also get extra lucky in that I am living in the second newest dorm building on campus. It’s not a dorm freshman have resided in during past years, but as I am living in the Honors Living-Learning Community I got what I would say is one of the nicest rooms on campus.

dormdoor

Another cool thing when picking housing at U of I is that you not only get to choose a roommate and hall, but you get to pick your very specific room number. (and as a sophomore and up you can even reserve an entire side to side block of rooms for you and your friends/teammates/sorority sisters/basically anyone) As the nerd I am, I looked at the floor plans for my building before choosing a room, and therefore got one of the four largest rooms in the hall. Seriously, I knew it was bigger, but this place is huge.

My roommate is named Maya and is a sophomore in Engineering. She is seriously the greatest but I’m not going to be displaying her side of the room because that would be weird.

dormbed

The first thing on the left (my side) when coming into the room is my bed. I have this awesome rainbow striped duvet cover that was new this year, and a really soft blanket that my swim coach gave to me as a graduation present. On the wall, I have a strand of twinkle lights (nowhere near the advertised 10 ft) a caricature drawing I had done during one of our orientation events, and a row of photos. Some that I’ve taken, some of me, and a few from this last year’s swim team photo shoot. I’ll probably be adding more to the walls eventually, but at least they’ve gone from “utterly blank” to what could be considered minimalist. You can also kind of see the container I’ve been using as a bedside table in the bottom corner of the picture.

desk

Next is my general desk area. I have some shelves with cups, my camera, books, notebooks, and my camera. Then my desk with my bookshelf and just general work area. Off to the side, I have a full-length mirror and a hook with my Rainbow Rowell tote bag and sheet-music umbrella hung from it.

On my bookshelf I have Every Day by David Levithan, (which I am reading for a class!) the (now completed) Alcatraz series by Brandon Sanderson, and a plethora of fall ARCs that either have yet to be released or are already out into the world. I’ve “decorated” the shelf with my time turner necklace, my New York Yankees cap, and a rubber duck that I was given when I joined the synchronized swimming club here at school.

deskcloseup

On the back of the desk, there’s a metal panel where I’ve been keeping magnets, bookmarks, and have taped up other postcards and things.

fullroom

There’s my dorm room! What other kinds of things do you think I should hang on my walls? What other college type things would you like to see posts about? Make sure to let me know in the comments!

♥, Tamara

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Fall 2016 TV Shows I Want to Watch

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Ah, new fall shows. The trailers I see everywhere, the shows that look interesting, all the pilots I watch in the first few weeks before I become too busy to keep up with any television at all… I usually compile a list of the shows that I want to watch, and today I thought I would share my list of the most promising fall 2016 TV! I probably won’t actually watch any of these until summer… But it’s fun to pick out which I’d actually like to see.

Today I am linking up with the Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday feature as their topic this week is all about television shows! So grab some popcorn, because I have a whole list of trailers for you to watch.

Designated Survivor (ABC)

Of all the new shows premiering this fall, this is probably the one that I want to watch the most. Political TV dramas aren’t a huge interest of mine or anything (besides the recent Braindead) but I love this premise of someone who never thought they’d be, and was never really meant to be, the president suddenly having to take over the role.

Designated survivors are totally a real thing too. It’s sort of morbidly fascinating.

Mech X4 (Disney XD)

I kind of love Disney’s live action shows. Some of them are outright terrible, I will admit, but occasionally there are some that have some actually great moments. This is one of very few coming this fall, and it looks pretty intriguing to me. It could be good… As long as it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Pitch (Fox)

I don’t think I have actually watched a Fox show since Glee. From this trailer, Pitch looks a lot more like a movie to me than a 20 episode television show, but it still seems promising. The premise is that the main character is the first ever woman to be a Major League Baseball player. I’m interested to see what kind of longer plot this show will come up with.

Time After Time (ABC)

Every major network seems to have a time travel show this season. Fox’s Making History, (which is so extremely not my style) NBC’s Timeless, … Even CW’s Frequency appears to have time travel elements. I don’t know why there has been a sudden rise in time travel plots, but most of them feature characters from the present traveling to the past. Time After Time, in contrast, shows characters from the past in the present, which I find much more fun. This is one I might ultimately skip, but I want to at least watch the pilot.

Luke Cage (Netflix)

I actually have yet to watch any of the Netflix original shows. But I think the upcoming Luke Cage would be a great place to start. A darker Marvel superhero who spends his time as a vigilante for just his specific neighborhood.

APB (Fox)

I’m cheating a little on this one since I believe this is actually slated to premiere in mid-season, not fall. APB centers around a police force who some sort of tech-creating billionaire (I think? It’s unclear from the trailer) essentially buys control over, before tricking it out with a bunch of cool gadgets to help the law enforcers be able to do their jobs better and more efficiently. This essentially looks like a more legitimate version of Person of Interest, but I do enjoy cop shows with a twist, so I’ll be trying it out.

What TV Shows or Movies are you looking forward to this fall?

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