June 2016 Wrap-Up + July TBR

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Science Fiction Recommendations: for the genre newbie, intermediate, + experienced reader

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Science fiction has long been my favorite genre. The first series of books I read for myself (Animorphs by KA Applegate) was sci-fi and it even manages to join two of my favorite things: science and technology and the study of the world, and fictional stories. I do know however that many people find science fiction reads a little too “gadgety” and scientific for them, and that many YA readers become a little lost when looking for sci-fi. Therefore I have devised this list of reads that I have personally really enjoyed, and have broken it in to three parts. The first for people who may not be a huge fan of sci-fi or may not have that much experience with the genre, the second for those who enjoy science fiction but may not want a huge dose of the “science” part, and the third for those, like me, who love sci-fi and are all in.

I have also designed the list to be a sort of sliding scale. The most beginner of the beginner sci-fi books are at the top, and the books become more intense and “advanced” as you scroll down. I hope you enjoy, and that you maybe even find your next favorite read!

For the Science Fiction Newbie

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

THEMES: Futuristic, Retelling, Romance, Robots

I really love The Lunar Chronicles for how much crossover potential it has. I know many, many people who generally don’t enjoy science fiction who love these books. They do have a lot of heavy sci-fi elements: they are set in the far future, the main character is a cyborg, there is space travel and robots and hacking… Yet they also have a lot of romance and slightly magical elements to soften that a little, and most of it has a very fantastically feel. I highly recommend these to anyone looking to get into reading science fiction… or just to anyone, really.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

THEMES: Dystopian, Superpowers, Found Family

While it is at its core science fiction, The Darkest Minds does not feel at all like science fiction. It is set in essentially contemporary times, (despite some important more ~dystopian~ details) and if you are less of fan of all the technology in science fiction, this series contains basically no gadgets. The scifi elements are eventually explained, but they spend most of the books just in the background. Instead this book is about a group of teenagers who just happen to have superpowers running from the law and trying to figure out where to fit in a world that doesn’t really want them anymore. It’s beautiful, and heart wrenching, and pretty thrilling, too.

The Accidental Hero by Matt Myklusch

THEMES: Superheroes, Alien Invasion, Genre Mashup

I love this book (and all of Myklusch’s work) so darn much but the hardest part of recommending it is actually describing it. The Accidental Hero is middle grade about a nation made up of Superheroes. It’s kind of the ultimate genre mashup, with magic and fantasy elements, but with all the aliens and the tech I would ultimately say it’s mostly science fiction. The characters are all great, the plot is a lot more complicated than it first appears, and while the setting seems clique and ridiculous it’s actually pretty captivating. I especially recommend this one to fans of superhero media and word play. Seriously… 80% of the names are some sort of play on words and it’s amazing.

For the Intermediate Sci-Fi Reader

Epic by Conor Kostick

THEMES: Virtual Reality Gaming, Futuristic Utopia

This is kind of your classic not-quite-perfect futuristic utopia, but with a twist: Any person in this book’s world has their economic and social status entirely determined by their standing in the virtual reality video game called ‘Epic.’ Legal disputes are not determined by a judge and jury but by one on one matches in the game’s arena. Earning virtual money through quests gets your family more food, better housing, and better work. It’s a really fascinating concept that makes for a fast paced, and somewhat mysterious, read.

The Lost Planet by Racheal Searless

THEMES: Space Odyssey, Adventure, Mystery

The Lost Planet is a space odyssey for middle grade readers and is so super fun while also getting into some super serious stuff. I really can’t tell you what this one is about without giving some sort of spoiler so I would say to read the summary and pick it up if you’re at all interested. I also think this one has a really eye-catching cover illustration.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

THEMES: Supervillians, Dystopian, High Tech Assassins

In Steelheart, when people develop superpowers, they become evil. David, the main character, saw his father killed by a superpowered ‘Epic,’ and since then has wanted revenge against them and all of the other people taking advantage of their powers to become tyrants and bullies. Steelheart is a book that contains a lot of really cool worldbuilding, (because Brandon Sanderson) with some great tech and characters that I love a ridiculous amount. This book seems pretty hit or miss for a lot of people but I really love it and it’s great if you love supervillains, cool powers, and moral complexity.

Insignia by SJ Kincaid

THEMES: Space Fights, Weaponized Teenagers, Politics

Insignia has been, and remains to be, my very favorite science fiction series. The plot is rich, and each of the books in this trilogy is even stronger than the one before. Essentially, in this book World War III is being fought over resources, by giant robotic spaceships. And those ships can only be controlled by teenagers. It deals with the moral issues of technology, using children to fight, and having corporations influencing governments, while also telling a really great story with fantastic characters.

For the Advanced Sci-Fi Reader

The Illuminae Files by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff

THEMES: Survival, Hacking, Space Ships

Though I love Illuminae, I would be the first to admit this is a pretty different kind of book. Hence, the placement into the “advanced” section of this list. This series is told not in a usual story format but through documents. Emails, IMs, photos, mission reports, interview transcripts… You name it, it’s probably in there. It seems like a story written like this would be pretty confusing, but once you get into it it’s really not. Besides the way it’s told, Illuminae is the story of the refugees fleeing from a bombed and destroyed planet, and everything that happens to them afterward. I thought it was so super captivating and just really cool.

The Martian by Andy Weir

THEMES: Survival, Space Travel, Comedy

You might have seen (or at least heard of) the movie adaptation made for this book. The movie was pretty great, but of course the book is much better. The Martian is about an astronaut that becomes stranded on Mars and essentially has to survive until he can be brought back to Earth… None of which is an easy feat. The most amazing thing about this book is that it essentially only has a single character, and yet manages to be hilarious and emotional, even when there is very little interaction between different people. Another amazing thing about it is how much real science is used. This might give a lot of people pause, as the technical explanations can get rather long and in depth. I thought they were fascinating and made the book even better, but it really depends whether you enjoy the science or not.

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