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Life, Law & Libros

May Book Reviews: The Short Version

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The semester is over! I'm still waiting on one grade, I start a new job on Monday, and I need to get clerkship applications out the door soon, but I'm finally reading for fun again. And I'd like to keep reading for fun as much as possible while the summer lasts. (I technically read some of these in March, but close enough.)

So, let's talk about those books I've been reading!

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There is too much. So we're going to do reviews -- the short versions. Right to the point. All the important stuff in one small paragraph. Like a magic towel that doesn't expand. Compact. Words.

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Ahem. Yes. Mini-reviews ahead!


May Book Reviews
The Short (Short) Version


Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
Series: Castle Glower #1
Genres: MG, Fantasy
Published on October 1, 2011
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Final Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis:
Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celia's favorite days. That's because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing to itself. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one - other than Celia, that is - takes time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and reportedly killed, it's up to Celia with her secret knowledge of the Castle's many twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom.
Review:
I really, really liked this! Celie and her siblings are wonderful. The magic castle is surprising and mischievous. The villains are fun to hate. The story picks you up and doesn't let go until the last page. Despite some seriously dangerous and dark situations, Tuesdays at the Castle remains a fun, lighthearted read perfect for middle graders and adults alike. I'm looking forward to continuing this series.

A big thank you to Nicole for including this in my #TBTBSanta package!

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Where to Shop for Bargain Books

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I wrote about how to make money while buying books online a couple months ago. But there's nothing like the excitement of digging through a stack of physical books.


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Or you just don't want to pay shipping. Either way, here are a few places to check out on your next book hunting adventure!

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Book Covers by Imprint

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I've been labeling the books I read by publisher/imprint for a few years now. I think Goodreads should have an option for this, but considering how long it took to get the reread feature added, I'm not holding my breath.

Today's Top 10 Tuesday topic is "cover theme freebie," so I thought it would interesting to compare sets of book covers from different imprints! I pulled from my Goodreads "read" list and publisher labels and saw some interesting trends in the process. Turns out, I read imprint hop a LOT. I've only read more than five or six from a select few. I also tended to stick with an imprint when I found an author or series I liked.

Harper Teen

Margaret K. McElderry

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Beauty and the Beast Movies & Book Recs

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I loved Beauty and the Beast as a kid! It had a bookworm, magic, fantastic music and beautiful animation.
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I watched it again recently and still loved it, despite the Stockholm syndrome issues.

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I finally saw the new live-action Beauty and the Beast yesterday. I thought it was really entertaining! Best part of the film, hands down: Gaston. He was absolutely brilliant.

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Finals Week: May the Course Be With You

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It's that joyous time of the semester again: final exams.


It is a little stressful.


Okay, maybe a LOT stressful.

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Geekerella by Ashley Poston (3 stars)

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I'm a nerd. Liking superheroes, space explorers, etc. is more "mainstream" these days, but it's still fun to see books dive into full blown geekery!

I received a copy from the publisher for review. Thank you, Quirk Books!
Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Series: n/a
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Fairy tale retelling
Published on April 4, 2017
Published by Quirk Books
Final Rating: 3 stars
Synopsis:
Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

Review:
Geekerella is readily recognizable as both a Cinderella retelling and a paradise for nerd references. The geek in me loved being in on the secret code and reading about characters who love genres I do.

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5 Ways to Work Your Working Vacation

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I'm spending my spring break doing pro bono work in Atlanta. In between business hours, there's a bit of breathing room to have a little vacation time. A working vacation! :)

I came with a majorly long to-do list--so the trick is making myself work during my free time--but the same principles can be used for better, more fun purposes.




1. GET UP EARLY

It's super tempting to spend every possible second in bed and not face the work day until you absolutely have to (aka, every day at home). Here's the thing: don't. Set your alarm for an hour or two earlier, wander down to the continental breakfast (with or without your phone/laptop), sit down and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. What says vacation like a relaxed breakfast?

Bonus: now that you're up, leave for the office early and do a little exploring. See the sights on your way, take a detour through a park or just enjoy the walk.

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Hunted by Meagan Spooner (3 stars)

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I'm torn about Hunted. It's kind of like a jalapeƱo BLT with buffalo sauce? You love the taste while eating, but your stomach isn't quite as pleased after.

This eARC was provided through Edelweiss for review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Hunted by Meagan Spooner
Series: n/a
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Fairy tale retelling
Published on March 14, 2017
Published by HarperTeen
Final Rating: 3 stars
Synopsis:
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Review:
Hunted takes a familiar fairy tale and injects it with danger and vengeance. This Beauty is more Katniss than bookworm. She has a bow and she knows how to use it.

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The Forbidden Fortress by Diana Peterfreund (2.5 stars)

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I reviewed the first book in this series, Omega City, a while back and really enjoyed the mix of conspiracy theories and adventure. (I also loved Peterfreund's YA Persuasion retelling, For Darkness Shows the Stars, if you want to check that out.) Unfortunately, The Forbidden Fortress didn't quite live up to its predecessor, but there are definitely weird things ahead for the next book.

Spoilers for Book 1 ahead.

This eARC was provided through Edelweiss for review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
The Forbidden Fortress by Diana Peterfreund
Series: Omega City #2
Genres: MG, Sci-fi, Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller
Published on February 14, 2017
Published by Balzer + Bray
Final Rating: 2.5 stars
Synopsis:
Gillian Seagret is not having a great summer. Her mother’s come back from Asia with plans to move Gillian and her brother across the country, and her conspiracy theorist father is away promoting his new book on Omega City—without her! Though Gillian and her friends were the ones to find the lost doomsday bunker, no one seems care about their thoughts on the whereabouts of its creator, Dr. Aloysius Underberg, or even learning the truth about the Shepherds, a mysterious organization ready to stop at nothing to keep Underberg—and Omega City—a secret.

All that changes when Gillian and her friends are invited to speak at a lecture series at Guidant—an advanced technology company. Gillian feels like they’re finally being recognized for their adventures. The Guidant campus is full of wonders, from self-driving cars to robot waiters, and the future-focused employees seem like worthy heirs to innovators like Dr. Underberg.

But there are secrets here, too—a radio station that plays nothing but coded numbers, and an island that doesn’t appear on any map. And when Gillian and her friends uncover evidence that the Shepherd conspiracy goes deeper than anyone suspected, it’s up to them to infiltrate the Shepherds’ secret base and expose them… before it’s too late.

Review:
Gillian and friends reprise their role of meddling kids in the follow-up to Omega City with touches of The Jetsons, Interstellar and Planet of the Apes.

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How to Make Money Buying Books

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If you're a book buying addict, you love books. You love getting them, reading them, re-reading them!

You may love spending all that money a little less. But just a little. Books are worth it.

But, just in case your wallet has you in tears, here are a few ways to make a little money while buying all those books. So you can buy more books! ;)

Disclaimer: I'm not being paid for any of the following referrals. They're just services I've used and not hated. :)

Ebates is probably the easiest way to get money back from a variety of places. If you haven't used them before, you sign up for free, start your shopping trips at their site and get a percentage of your purchase back. The amount varies per store. It's small, but it adds up, especially if you buy a ton of books. (Side note: definitely start here for bigger purchases like flights and hotels. 2-5% of that is huge.)


The bad news: Amazon only offers cash back on a few categories, and books aren't one of them.

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New Year's Resolutions

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Happy New Year, everyone! It's that time again--the time when we all make resolutions that, by and large, we either can't keep or don't intend to. :)

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I have a couple of completely doable resolutions this year, like putting a stamp in my passport (which I need to renew...). I'm always worried about unnecessary spending and time, etc., but I've decided I want to make this a priority. I want to rediscover that love of wanderlust. And I want to do something with the present, not just plan and save for the future.

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Yum-Yum Bento All Year Round by Watanabe & Ogawa (4 stars)

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If you follow me on Instagram, you know I've dabbled with bento lunches and food art. Some of my better efforts looked like this:

So when Quirk Books offered me a book by bento experts, I was excited to see what the masters could do.


This book was provided by the publisher for review. Thank you, Quirk Books!
Yum-Yum Bento All Year Round by Crystal Watanabe & Maki Ogawa
Series: n/a
Genres: Nonfiction, Cooking, Bento
Published on December 27, 2016
Published by Quirk Books
Final Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis:
Yum-Yum Bento is back with 52 more easy seasonal-themed bento lunches.

From the depths of winter to the height of summer, a beautiful lunch can brighten any day. Japanese bento boxes are portable and pretty meals packed with healthy portions and plenty of cheer. And they re outrageously cute! With Yum-Yum Bento All Year Round, you ll fall in love with 52 tasty, in-season lunches. Spring into make-ahead action with packing tips, tutorials, side dish recipes, and more. From summer Sunshine Smiles to Christmas Gingerbread Friends, there s a bento just perfect for your lunchbox today.

Review:
The thing I love about this book, besides the super cute pictures, is that it's a great starting point for people interested in cute bento lunches AND a great seasonal/holiday activity book for those who want ideas for special occasions.

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The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (3 stars)

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I'm a sucker for fairy tales, and after loving Uprooted, an adult fantasy inspired by Eastern European lore, I was psyched to try this. Historical fantasy filled with Russian lore? Count me in!


This eARC was provided through NetGalley for review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Series: [Untitled Series] #1
Genres: Fantasy, Historical
Published on January 10, 2017
Published by Del Rey
Final Rating: 3 stars
Synopsis:
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

Review:
The Bear and the Nightingale is a lovely winter's tale of magic and madness.

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3-Year Blogoversary

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Booked til Tuesday passed the three-year mark in December!



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#TBTBSanta Recap

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I had a blast participating in #TBTBSanta this year! #TBTBSanta is short for the Broke and Bookish Secret Santa.

The whole massive program is put together and hosted by the amazing Jamie at The Broke and the Bookish. Major thank you to her for putting in untold hours and effort making this happen!

I had a great time putting together my Santee's gift and waiting anxiously to see her reaction. I also really loved opening my Secret Santa gift.

My Secret Santa was Nicole of Pop Crunch Boom Books. To put it mildly, she nailed it.

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