5 Ways Gemina is like Illuminae (and 4 Ways it Isn’t)


If you’ve been around on here for any length of time than you probably know that when I read Illuminae for the first time last spring it entirely rocked my world. More recently I re-read Illuminae and than had the opportunity to read the upcoming sequel, Gemina… And I can tell you that it was likewise amaaaaazing. So much so, that I haven’t been able to talk about it much beyond keysmashes and long strings of capital letters. To spare you from a review filled with just that (seriously you should thank me for saving you) today I decided to talk a little bit about what make Gemina similar to it’s predecessor, and what makes it different… But in entirely the best way, trust me.


Totally Unique Format

Illuminae was fantastically created with all it’s pictures and documents and transcriptions. Gemina has all of that and even takes it a step further with illustrations and even more super cool things that totally wow-ed me.

Characters You Will Root For

Hanna and Nik are extremely different from Kady and Ezra, but their stories will still suck you in and make you root so hard for them to win.

So Many Censored Swear Words

It might just be me, but there sometimes large blocks of text in these books that slow me down because for some reason I have to take the time to fill in what each of the blacked out swear words would be. (what’s with that, brain?) Never fear, just like in Illuminae, everyone in Gemina swears like sailors and it’s all censored. Leaving you to wonder: if this is far in the future, are their swear words even the same ones we use?

Countdowns and Tension

You remember all those countdown clocks in Illuminae leading to all those bad things? Yeah, there are more of those and they are scary. 

Lots of Death

… With Illuminae’s death toll did you really expect anything different?


Intensity That Creeps Up On You

Illuminae started at a super intense moment, and through the book the hits just didn’t stop. In Gemina I found that the beginning didn’t seem very high stakes, but as the story went on all the elements from the beginning of the book slowly came together to create a lot of intensity. You just gotta wait for it a little bit.

Plot Points That Mess With Your Mind

I didn’t find Illuminae at all hard to understand, but Gemina… There is a moment that will make your head spin a little bit. Not in a bad way, but… Wow.

Creepy Aliens

In book one we had a creepy disease, and a creepy Artificial Intelligence. In Gemina we get some very chilling alien creatures thrown into the mix. I recommend reading parts of this one in daylight.

An Unlikely Character Team Up

Illuminae featured two main characters who had fought right before the book started, but who already knew each other very well and had done many things together before. Gemina, in contrast, features two main characters who seem like complete opposites and who never work together… Until they have to.

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June 2016 Wrap-Up + July TBR


I really thought that I would have some great things to share about my summer so far right here… But with synchronized swimming nationals June is always a bit of a lost month of long practices for me. As you read this I am actually at nationals right now. Afterward I’ll probably be writing a little post about the whole experience (it’s legit my last junior level competition EVER) so you can look forward to that if you want to see how it all goes!

Other things… Well, I saw the movie Zootopia twice this month and really loved it, and spent way too much time watching the live stream from Vidcon. Just putting that out there. I also drove to my college to tour stuff again and register for classes. I even saw the dorm room I’m going to be in next year AND met my roommate so that’s pretty significant.

illuminaefilessmall youknowmewellsmall smallvicious

What I’ve Been Reading

  • Illuminae (Illuminae #1) by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff (reread) ★ I love Illuminae so much and it basically was as intense the second time. I was super nervous even though I already knew what was about to happen… Serious props to this one.
  • Gemina (Illuminae #2) by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff SO GOOD. I may have enjoyed this one slightly less than Illuminae but it was good for so many different reasons than Illuminae was and I really loved it. I want the third book sooo much right now it’s a little sad.
  • Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire ☆ This was an odd little book. Interesting enough… But nothing really happened. And all the teased details of all the character’s different worlds really leaves me wanting more of each of their stories. Either way, this was a quick and different sort of read.
  • Vicious by VE Schwab ☆ I really LIKED this book but I found it a bit slow and the ending didn’t do a lot of what I’d hoped. My favorite parts were all the flashbacks in the beginning with Eli and Victor at college so when the “current time” stuff took over the whole plot I lost a little interest. The concept of the powers was really cool but not amazing. I liked the characters but didn’t feel a huge connection with them. Since I love both Schwab and super-villain stories I kind of thought this could be a new favorite but I guess it just feel a little flat for me.
  • You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan ★ So beautiful. I just want to read it again and again and again.

Quote of the Month

“I think you have to gamble in order to win.” – Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well

On the Blog

July TBR


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June ’16 Book Haul

As I recently wrote about in my post about my feelings on owning books, in May I decided I wasn’t going to be buying any books this summer. So, here I present to you my not-at-all-paid-for June book haul! Well, one of them was actually a preordered book acquired in March. But preorders don’t count.


In March I was lucky enough to meet Marie Rutkoski at her local tour event for The Winner’s Kiss, so I of course had to buy this (absolutely gorgeous) book. The Winner’s Trilogy is actually one of the few complete series I own and I love it so much.

winnerskisstabssmallNear the end of May was one of my personal favorite holidays: Independent Bookstore Day. For the occasion Tor put together A Pocket Companion for The Stormlight Archive by my favorite Brandon Sanderson so I of course had to pick up one of those. My parents were also kind enough to offer to buy me a book that day, so I choose the illustrated reprint for The Knights of Crystallia (Alcatraz #3), also by Sanderson. This is my favorite book of this middle grade series and I absolutely adore the illustrations. My favorite scene was illustrated so perfectly. I’m so ready to cry over the pictures in the fourth book when that reprint is published…

I was lucky enough to win a giveaway from the author for an ARC of The Diabolic by SJ Kincaid. Kincaid’s first trilogy (Insignia) is probably my favorite science fiction series ever so I am so pumped to dive into this book. I haven’t even fully read the summary but I know it’s going to be great. I’ve already heard many great reviews! I really hope people who love this book end up discovering Insignia, too.

Maggie Steifvater had a local event for The Raven King while I was unfortunately busy with synchronized swimming. I have not started the Raven Cycle series yet, (I know, I know, soon I promise) however an unknown someone from my store’s book club was kind enough to buy me a copy of Blue Lily, Lily Blue and have it signed to me by Maggie. I think I know who it was, but whoever did it thank you so so much! I really appreciate it.

The ARCs of The Sun is Also A Star, History Is All You Left Me, and The Secret Keepers were the first review copies I picked up from my new internship at Subtext Books here in downtown Saint Paul. Can’t wait to read and review these! (and gaaah they all have such pretty covers fall is gonna be beautiful)

Lastly, I found Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson in a box of used books the other day. I cleaned off a bunch of gross sticker-y stuff from the back and now it’s basically good as new! I have loved Matson’s other books, especially her most recent The Unexpected Everything so I know I’ll surely enjoy this read, and that it’ll be a perfectly summery read.

♥, Tamara

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I’m Over Owning Books: on the buying and keeping of books


When I first started blogging, I wanted to buy all the books. Every single one that sounded interesting. I’d go into a store and pick a few that I’d heard of, or that had a cool cover or synopsis. Later on I decided to become careful with what books I bought. To only buy books I basically KNEW I’d like or that I had already read and loved.

Now, I’m kind of over buying new books at all.

This year I decided I wasn’t buying books anymore. I’m going to college, I need to save money, I don’t have the space. I choose a few clear exceptions: book events I was already planning to go to, and books from my favorite author. (I reread Brandon Sanderson books so much that it just makes SENSE to own them)

In general, I don’t like to own stuff that isn’t useful. It’s not I-can-only-own-20-items-of-clothing minimalism. It’s that I don’t need that knickknack or that souvenir or that free thing. I’m fine with owning clothes, because they’re pretty necessary and I like to look good. I own a computer, because I need it for basically everything I do. I own cameras, because they allow me to capture the world around me. I’ve long said I own books because they contain stories I read and because they teach me things and because I love them.

I don’t know if I totally feel that way now. As intoxicating and beautiful pictures and huge full bookshelves are I don’t need a library in my house. I already HAVE a local library. I’ve said before that I only want to keep books I enjoyed. Before I meant the 4 and 5 star books. Now I mean the books I loved and that mean something to me. The will-definitely-read-again books.

That doesn’t mean I’m about to get rid of my whole book collection. Or that I’m never gonna be tempted to buy a brand new shiny hardcover ever again. Frankly, that would be drastic, and I need them for bookstagram. Plus, I want to support bookstores and publishers and authors, and most of what I own right now are favorites.

Much of the book community is wrapped up in book buying, however, there are ways to fully participate without purchasing. Don’t pick up all the new releases from the bookstore but from the library. You can go to book events and not feel the need to aquire every single book there. Even if I don’t buy every book myself I can use my platform to recommend books I liked to those who ARE buying books.

Because in the end the important thing is not owning the books, but loving the books.

What do you think? Do you love buying and owning books? Do you enjoying checking out books from the library? I’d love to hear your opinions + thoughts.

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The Best 2016 Books So Far

2016 is halfway over and as my “best books of 2016” goodreads shelf just hit ten books it is the absolute perfect time for this post! Today along with sharing these great books I’ll also be linking up with today’s top ten tuesday topic over on The Broke and the Bookish blog.


The Branderson Releases

These were bound to be talked about eventually, might as well get them out of the way to start with, right? So far I have managed to read 3 of the 5 (?) Brandon Sanderson books publishing this year. Unfortunately, unbelievably, one of the books, White Sand, managed to disappoint me so much that it didn’t end up anywhere near this list. Calamity also sort of disappointed me, in a completely different way, but I did love it so it’s still here. The Bands of Mourning just blew my mind, and was hilarious to boot. Elantris was not published this year, but I read the 10th Anniversary Edition (released in fall) this January and loved it, so I’m counting it.


The Debuts

A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro is amazing and the best Sherlock Holmes retelling I’ve ever read. I’m so super excited for the next book in this series. The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig was a magical time travel story with great maps. Both Heilig and Cavallaro were debut authors this year and are wonderful people so I highly recommend their books if you have yet to read them.


The Contemporary

I don’t love contemporary like some other genres so I find it a surprise that so far this year I have fallen absolutely in love with not one but TWO contemporary books! Granted, both had authors whose books I have previously adored…

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson, was a great summery romance, and You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan (dream team!!) is a great dual-perspective book about two gay teens in San Fransisco.


The Sci-Fi Fantasy

I read Truthwitch FAR before 2016 started and I thought it was really great with an interesting (though not 100% unique) magic system. Gemina by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff was a great sequel to Illuminae, and This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab was imaginative and fantastic.

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