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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Calamity (Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson // Bullet Point Thoughts

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Calamity (Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson, Published by Random House, Purchased for my own Collection.

There are three major things you need to know: I love the Reckoners series with all my heart, Firefight was one of my top two favorite books last year, and I don’t know if I’ve ever anticipated a book as much as I anticipated Calamity.

calamitylightssmallCalamity was released on Tuesday, I picked up my copy on Tuesday, and it took me the rest of the week to read it as I went back and forth between “I want to finish this now!” and “Nooo I don’t want it to end!” I finished it Friday night and it’s been stuck in my head ever since. This series may be over, but I doubt this obsession will end anytime soon.

As this was a pretty momentous read I find that I really can’t relay my thoughts in any sort of coherent review manner. For this I’ve decided to just write out my thoughts in a (long) list of bullet points.

There is also  really no way to talk about Calamity at all without spoiling either the book in question or the previous two books in the series. In the way of Brandon Sanderson, even the first page of book three would spoil book two almost entirely… and so, everything is going under the cut because spoilers everywhere.

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A Touch of Spring (And Sweaters) #OOTD

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Monday, being Presidents Day, was a day off of school for me. (Thanks, Mr.President(s)!) My mother, the knitwear designer, wanted to take some photos of one of her new sweaters at the local conservatory, so I decided to take some photos of the outfit I had chosen that morning too.

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My very favorite room in the conservatory is the Sunken Garden because it is always filled with light and they switch out what kind of flowers are there depending on the season. During the holidays it had been filled with poinsettias, but they must have recently switched those out for pretty pink spring flowers.

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As it was pretty cold outside I was a little over dressed for the heat of the conservatory. Minnesota in February is really all about layers on layers on layers. I especially like this cropped sweater and button down shirt combo with my usual skinny jeans. I also love this layered necklace I bought at an art show in fall. With the bright red stone it’s so different from anything I see in stores!

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Ombre Beanie (knitting pattern) // Aeropostale Plaid Shirt (similar) // Delias Cropped Sweater (similar) // Aeropostale High Waisted Skinny Jeans // Layered Necklace (similar)

Bonus: Me attempting to imitate the statue’s pose. 😉

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My Favorite Bookish Maps // The Girl From Everywhere Release Celebration!

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Today is a very special day, in that it is finally February 16th, the release date of many, many books. (seriously. so many books.) Most notably, it is the release day for The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig, a super cool book about hand drawn maps, and time traveling pirates, and colonial Hawaii. If you haven’t heard much about this book yet you can read the full summary on goodreads, and if you’re interested in what I thought about it you can read my ARC review!

In honor of this book’s release me and a few bloggers have gotten together to have a blog release party, with each of us posting something related to the book each day this week. As maps are something super important to The Girl From Everywhere, (the book has multiple maps in it!) and because I loooove maps in books, today I decided to share a list of just a few of my very favorite bookish maps. 😊

Elendel from The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

Elendel Maplove cities. City planning is so fascinating, and it’s always cool to see how all the roads and main buildings end up fitting together in an urban area. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy peering out of airplane windows as I land in a new city. I love the Elendel map because it is a map of a fictional industrial city that is chock full of detail. All the streets and canals and railways are outlined and it is beautiful. It really looks to me like a real city, albeit a meticulously pre-planned one. (unlike how many real life cities are built) I like how it shows the full picture of where everything is and how the characters can get there, without spending too much time on what each building looks like.

more pictures of this map: official image (with color!)

The Alexander and The Hypatia from Illuminae by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff

illuminaeshipssmallThe illustrations of the space ships from Illuminae are much more diagrams than maps, but I found them much too pretty to leave out. These are some sleek ships. You can tell how the Hypatia is meant to glide more and is more refined, while the Alexander is a little bulkier and made to be roughed up. I also really appreciate the front view diagram for each, and all the information in the little boxes. This is the kind of stuff that really helps me fully visualize a setting.

more pictures of this map: official image (alexander)

carryonmapWatford from Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Out of all of these maps Watford is the most fun, probably because of all the color! I love how everything is in different shades of primary colors (even the grays are red or blue toned!) and I think the doodle-ish and wavy feel of it are a perfect way to represent this particular magic school. I also think this map does a great job of giving the reader an idea of all the major landmarks while not bombarding them with too much visual information.

more pictures of this map: official image / @twirlingpages / @thereaderbee

The Witchlands from Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

truthwitchmapsmallThe map of The Witchlands is a map of a fantasy world that is simply gorgeous. I don’t really have many comments about this map besides that because I am usually just too busy making complete googly eyes at it. Just look at the curve of the land and the little sea monsters and all the perfect shading! Ahhhh I love it.

more pictures of this map: official image (colored version) / @articbookss / @hafsahfaizal

What is your favorite bookish map?

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