Uni and reading

It’s that time of year again – school/college/uni is starting and after a wonderful summer of reading and relaxing, you’re suddenly inundated with work and time is something you don’t have. So when do you read? Your monthly TBR of maybe 10 books turns into a wrap-up of 3 and all you can wonder is, where did all the time go?

While I am enjoying being back at uni and seeing my friends again as well as getting away from home for a bit, I’ll admit that the initial excitement has worn off as the routine of writing up lectures and going into uni every day has taken hold. It will be different for everyone; I have some friends that are only in uni for 2 days a week, whereas I’m in everyday 9-5 with odd breaks – it just depends on your degree. But there’s still a hell of a load of work you have to do, so how exactly can you fit in reading when you have to sleep, eat, cook, clean, go to uni, write up your own notes, exercise, socialise and all the ten thousand other things you have on your to-do list?

Everyone says the secret is balance, you need to prioritise the important things like uni and work, then plan around what time you have left for socialising and doing things you enjoy which, in every bookworm’s case, is reading.

So I’m planning on setting aside time everyday to read, and when is the best time for this? At the end of the day when you’ve been to uni and done all your work. This means that giving yourself an hour or two to read every night is a reward for completing all your work and jobs throughout the day, but it can also act as an incentive. You just ended on a cliffhanger last night? Get all your work done as soon as possible and you can find out what happens! It’s a great way of ensuring you do what you need to do and will help keep you motivated when that looming pile of lectures that still need to be written up are looking very unappealing.

I am going into my third year at uni now and all I can say is, keep up to date with your lectures – make sure you do the work FIRST andΒ thenΒ you can carry on reading the rest of your book. But allow yourself days off from your approach of getting work done and then reading, by using the weekends or on other days off to read more or maybe finish those last 100 pages.

Balance. Hard to do, but so important. Don’t do too much of one thing and neglect the other – don’t spend all weekend socialising, letting that pile of work grow larger, but also don’t spend all day working and giving yourself nothing as a reward for getting it done. It’s taken me two years at uni to finally realise that I spend so much time wasted on my phone not achieving anything (bookstagram is a major distraction though) and I probably won’t learn my lesson this year either and get behind with work, but I am going to try and adopt this approach to ensure I cope with uni work and still manage to get uni work done as well.

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Here’s a tip list I’ve come up with for reading at uni:

  • do your work first, THEN read
  • set aside a portion of the day for reading but be flexible if your workload suddenly increases (likewise, if your workload decreases then take the opportunity to read more!)
  • don’t be too ambitious with your monthly TBR – you’ll just feel disheartened if you see all the books you didn’t have time to read
  • spend any opportune moment reading whether it’s in between lectures or on the bus/train home, but at the same time don’t exclude yourself from conversations and spending time with your friends/colleagues
  • see reading as a reward for getting your work done but equally, don’t rush through work in order to get reading
  • don’t compare yourself to others (little life lesson there) – there’s always going to be someone who manages to do all their uni work and can still read 20 books a month, you are you and be happy with what you achieve because what may be small to them, may be big to you and vice versa
  • enjoy reading!

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Let me know how you manage your time with school/uni/work and reading and if you have any tips then let me know in the comments! Good luck to anyone returning or starting college/uni as well πŸ™‚

The Bone Season book review

by Samantha Shannon (2013)Β Image result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star

β€œThere was no normal. There never had been. “Normal” and “natural” were the biggest lies we’d ever created.” – Samantha Shannon, The Bone Season

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At first I had quite mixed feelings about this book and whether I thought I was going to enjoy reading it – it is strongly hyped on Twitter and bookstagram and it had been on my TBR for ages, but finally I started reading it and all I can say is that I am so glad I did!

The Bone Season is about an alternate world where clairvoyants exist in secret amongst ordinary people but are hunted for their ‘unnaturalness’, set in 2069. Paige is a rare voyant and lives her life under the command of Jaxon, a mime lord and a strong and determined character that collects the best voyants and offers them protection and community in return for their services.

But when a terrible incident results in the capture of Paige, a whole new world is opened up to her and she realises that life isn’t what it seems as the mysterious Warden enters her life and suddenly her abilities are admired and not discouraged. But will Paige survive in Oxford amongst the Rephaite asΒ her gift as dreamwalker is discovered and humans are treated as beneath them?

What started off with a good pace and events occurring quickly to lead Paige to the main setting of the book, I did find it a bit difficult to get into simply because of understanding the world. Since everything was going at a good pace and a lot of information was woven into the story as it progressed, it left the reader feeling a bit lost and I had lots of ‘what is happening’ moments when I just decided to go with it and see what happens. However I liked this style of world-building compared to a lot of books which tend to dump a lot of information at the start and then getting on with the story, this book was more of a ‘get the story started and then explain later’ sort of book, which worked out in the end.

The first thing the reader notices is a basic map at the beginning of Sheol I and a sort of visual representation of the orders of voyancy which was a little daunting at first but I didn’t even really end up referring to it much throughout the book, but it was good to look at and help you understand the world more.

Each chapter was titled which is a rare thing in books to see now, and after tweeting the author, I discovered that each chapter title was the title of a poem by one of her favourite poets! Such a novel idea and I loved the chapter titles – they hinted only slightly as to what would happen in the chapter but gave nothing away. I loved the writing style and the entire world that was created, also the glossary at the back of the book was so useful!!

Paige was a great character however I think she just dealt with stuff a littleΒ too well and I don’t think she cried once during her predicament which makes things a little unrealistic. However Warden was the most intriguing character – we never really know which side he’s on till the end and I loved the air of mystery around him constantly, and how different his reactions and mannerisms were to Paige (being of another race – the Rephaite).

TBS really is an interesting and gripping read (I honestly did not want to put it down at times and I badly had a case of ‘just one more chapter’ at midnight!) which lead me to the rating I gave it. I did debate over whether to give it 4 or 5 stars, but given some of the things that happened and how the characters reacted, I decided to go with 4 in the end. But theΒ sign of a good book is that you enjoy and look forward to reading it, but also that you can’t put it down and TBS delivered.

I’ll definitely buy the sequel, The Mime Order, and I can’t wait to see more of Warden and see where the story goes next given how things ended in TBS.

The time has come for spoilers as I really can’t talk much about the book without giving some huge bits away so look away if you haven’t read this book yet and do not wish to see spoilers!

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Right, so where do I begin with this mammoth of a book?! It wasn’t even big by size but the story was chock-full of an entire world and history.

I guess I’ll start with Paige and her capture. It seemed crazy that she managed to stay hidden for so long from Scion but I did think we’d see more of her and Jaxon first before being taken down the route of Sheol I. I had no idea what to think when Paige encountered the Rephaite nor what to think about this race and their attitude towards humans. I thought at first that they were secretly gathering and saving lots of voyants to then lead a revolution against Scion, but I couldn’t have been more wrong! The Rephaite wanted to have these humans as slaves and it was so strange to read about how these gifted humans were seen as something so low and beneath everything.

I have just looked over my notes on what to review and all I have written down is:
– wtf is happening
– Scion
– Rephaite???
– cool set up – graph thing

Thanks past me, this is really helpful to future me.

Right, so I had heard a lot about Warden and he’s all over bookstagram as a ‘book boyfriend’ but I really wasn’t getting this vibe from him at all throughout the book. He seemed really distant to Paige at first and didn’t really try to talk to her or train her until much later. What really intrigued me is when Warden came into his house wounded and Paige decided to tend to him, and how Warden pretended that it had never happened afterwards.

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What game is he playing? I had a lot of these moments throughout the book, wondering what side he rooted for – the humans or the Rephaite, and just why he treated Paige so well but also seemed so serious all the time.

I felt that Paige really wasn’t responding to what was happening to her like a normal person – surely you would cry or have some sort of overwhelming period of beingΒ upset at being in this situation where you were more than likely to die (or at least try to be killed). However Paige didn’t and I’m still wondering whether this is because of her really really strong-willed character or because the author just didn’t want to make her more human-like.

No real moments stood out for me in the book till we got to the part where the humans were sent out to retrieve a target and dispatch of Jaxon’s gang. But again, Paige seemed no stranger to fighting and being under immense pressure, but I hated it when she got caught – I was really rooting for her to escape.

BUT

I really didn’t like the Nick storyline at all. Okay, so she fancied a guy who helped her out and kept her gift hidden when she was younger, fine. But to be so in love with him that when he confesses to her that he is in love with another, she runs off to the nearest club and goes to have sex with some randomer??

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Just calm down Paige. And then when Warden tells her that a clairvoyant and an amaurotic don’t mix and are like ‘oil and water’ but Rephaites are like ‘fire’-

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Of course they are Warden.

But I knew they would get together so it came as no surprise when they were caught snogging by no other than Nashira – Warden’s fiancee of sorts. But again, I was rooting for them to get together because it was so obvious from the start that that was going to happen. Warden is the mysterious stranger and Paige the young and naiive girl, so when he saw her deepest and most dark memory of the night she discovered that the man she loved did not love her back, it was bound to bring them ever closer.

I was quite sad to see them both part in the end – the title of the last chapter was ‘His Parting From Her’ and it couldn’t have been more obvious what was going to happen, but nonetheless still managed to bring sadness to my heart. I didn’t want them to split apart! But at least it leaves the promise of hope that they will be reunited in the next book.

Side note, I have one thing to say about Nashira:

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Seriously, what is her problem? Why does she hate humans so much? She was one strange character and I’m not sure what’s going to happen with the whole Rephaite hating humans thing that’s going on.

So I enjoyed The Bone Season and I’m intrigued to see where it goes in the next book!

β€œKnowledge is dangerous. Once you know something, you can’t get rid of it. You have to carry it. Always.” – Samantha Shannon, The Bone Season

 

Five book series I want to read before 2016 is over

There are soooooo many books I still have on my TBR and loads more to be released that I want to get, but I thought I’d do a post on five books that have already been released that I have yet to read. I’ve read a few trilogies and caught up on a few series this year but I still have many more series that I haven’t read yet and want to.

Here are five book series that I want to read before the end of the year:

#1 The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

I bought this book at YALC because it was signed by Samantha Shannon and it’s been on my TBR for ages of books to buy but I spotted it in the Works the other day in hardback for just Β£4! I had to buy it and I’ve just read the first one – I had heard so many amazing things about it and I actually really liked the book! And the series it going to be about six or seven books long! Love a long series.

#2 Poison Study by Maria V Snyder

This book sounds really intriguing and I know a couple of people that absolutely adore this series! I hope I can get round to it soon because it sounds like something I’d really enjoy.

#3 Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I finally read the Grisha trilogy this year and while I loved Shadow and Bone, I didn’t really like the other two nearly as much, however so many people love Six of Crows that I want to give the Grisha world another go and since this is only a duology I think I’d still be able to read it even if I wasn’t that keen on it.

#4Β The Wrath and the Dawn by RenΓ©e Ahdieh

While I have already read The Wrath and the Dawn, I still haven’t got round to reading the sequel in this duology and I really must soon! I loved the first book and I couldn’t wait for the sequel but it’s just been on my TBR for ages and I need to find the time to reread The Wrath and the Dawn before I start The Rose and The Dagger.

#5 Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

After having read the amazing Raven Cycle series, I definitely want to read more of this author’s writing and my friend raves about Shiver so I really think I should read this trilogy soon!

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There are still loads more book series that I want to read but I really want to try and read these series before 2016 is over! Which book series do you want to read before the year is up?

 

 

The Crown’s Game book review

by Evelyn Skye (2016)Β Image result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star

“Imagine, and it shall be.
There are no limits.” – Evelyn Skye, The Crown’s Game

Wow. Wow. Wow. This book was brimming with magic and the scenes were described beautifully so you really felt like you were discovering 19th century Russia. Every character was essential to the plot and explained brilliantly but this was not the kind of book to allow yourself to get attached to characters because, well, you’ll see.

I received The Crown’s Game in my July My Bookish CrateΒ box (see unboxing here) and I was thrilled to finally have it after having seen such good reviews of it online. Knowing this book was full of magic (since the July theme was magic, of course), I could tell it was something I was going to love and from the very first page, of which took place in a bakery (sold) it confirmed my suspicions.

The story follows two enchanters: Vika and Nikolai that have to participate in the Crown’s Game in a bid to become the tsar’s Imperial Enchanter, both of whom have been training their whole lives for this moment but, little do they know that only one can be allowed to live at the end of the game. However when they meet, their magic seems to have other ideas and as each takes their turn in the Crown’s Game, they find it harder and harder to harm the other and compete for their own life.

But this is not just a story of magic and slight romance, it’s also a story of family and friendships, both of which get tested as the game proceeds as both enchanters discover the truth of their past and who their family really is, as well as their friends. Pasha, the tsesarevich, also gets tangled up in the Crown’s Game as his friendships get tested and romance blooms. No one is safe as the past comes back to haunt the present and not even magic can prevent the inevitable…

The book is set in Imperial Russia in the 19th century and the descriptions of the world are amazing and it is constructed so well that you can imagine being there amongst all the action. This is one of those books that have a lot of new words but I didn’t look any up and still understood the story – it doesn’t require lots of looking-up of words or anything like that, but the different language woven into the story just augments the world-building – you can tell the author did their research!

Every character was brilliantly made. Nikolai, under the tutelage of Galina, is Enchanter One in the Game and Vika is Enchanter Two, mentored by Sergei, her father. Both these enchanters have a mysterious and hazy past and it isn’t until later on in the book that we learn of their family and where they originated. The air of mystery surrounding them captivates the reader as we try to figure out who they are as a character, especially given their choices with their turns in the Game, not fully understanding what drove them to their choices until we discover more of their past.

The Crown’s Game is a game to determine which of the two enchanters will become the tsar’s Imperial Enchanter and only one of which can survive. It’s a thrilling action-packed game which sees the skill of each enchanter put to the test as they try to outsmart the other and win the game. However we see conflicts between the enchanters and themselves as they get to know the other and suddenly winning the Crown’s Game isn’t everything they wished for…

The last third of the book takes a dramatic turn and multiple things happen that were totally unexpected, leaving your mind in a state of chaos and after you turn that last page… let’s just say I was more than relieved to find out there’s a sequel to this book coming out in 2017.

Right, so on to the spoilers because so many things happened in this book I must talk about! Look away now if you don’t want to be spoiled.

 

WHERE TO BEGIN. The Crown’s Game was just brimming of action and just when you thought one thing happened, BAM – something else just as disastrous and momentous was waiting round the corner ready to slap you on the face.

The first thing that really struck me was how the Crown’s Game was set up, in the fact that it involved the two enchanters just roaming around in the streets and not actually a full on face-to-face battle or duel with magic. It was certainly different and it worked really well in the end; it was interesting to see how they both favoured different sides to magic – Vika being stronger at manipulating natural elements and Nikolai preferring man-made things to control, matching their unique personalities.

The character that surprised me the most in the book was Pasha because he seemed so kind and charming at first, being friends with Nikolai and relishing going undercover and sneaking off from the palace to go on adventures with him, he was a sweetheart and we felt for him and his inevitable path as tsar he must follow. But when he discovered Nikolai was an enchanter, I knew, I justΒ knew he’d let us down and turn all cold towards his best friend, not even caring if he survived the battle on the island!! Also, his reaction to his best friend DYING as Vika was declared the winner, was pretty pathetic and I hope he feels wracked with guilt in the next book because he just stood by and let it happen.

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When Aizhana was introduced in the book in a very short chapter, I knew she would crop up again and be evil in nature. She was an inspired addition to the story and when we found out her past – well, things just got so much more interesting from there.

First off, she’s Nikolai’s mother – okay, that’s all right, quite interesting.

Second, she kind of died as she healed her son when he was dying and used the energy of maggots and worms to bring her back to life – erm, okay, getting a bit weird but she clearly loves him.

Thirdly, she KILLED all of the people in her tribe when she found out that they sold her son to Galina because they couldn’t cope with his magic – right… yeah, I’m thinking her time underground may have changed her nature somewhat.

Fourthly, she confronted the tsar and informed him that Nikolai is HIS SON and then KILLED him straight after – oh my god.

And finally, she found Nikolai, told him of all the people she has killed (for him?) that he is the tsar’s son and can probably lay a claim to the throne and he obviously tells her to sod off – I think she’ll be back with a vengeance in the next book.

I couldn’t believe he was the tsar’s son and PASHA’A BROTHER, I mean, how cute is that? To be like a brother to someone and then find out you are? Cute; I just hope Nikolai gets a chance to tell Pasha in the sequel and maybe even take up role as tsar, seeing as Pasha hates the role?

Another shocking thing that happened, before all of this Aizhana-killing-the-tsar stuff happened, was that Sergei died.

HOW SAD WAS THAT THOUGH? He gave Vika a bracelet that meant he would give her his life force to ensure her magic was the best and she could win the Game, but SHE DIDN’T KNOW and after she used so much magic to help the tsar and tsarina, is used up all of Sergei’s life and he died in his sister’s arms. I mean, that’s cruel because Vika had no idea of what she was doing and he loved her so much, despite not being her biological father, that was literally willing to die for her just so she didn’t.

Evelyn Skye surely does know how to drop bombshells in her writing.

But the biggest of all, was THE ENDING.

The charmed knife. Nikolai. Too many emotions.

Nikolai was going to SACRIFICE HIMSELF for Vika because he realised he loved her (even though they never kissed or anything, but that just makes it even more adorable) but BLOODY GALINA charmed the knife so that when Nikolai went to stab himself, it hit Vika and oh my god he brought her back and ended up dying himself.

I mean, Nikolai can’t die… He’s the best!

The book ended with Vika seeing Nikolai on one of the dream benches he made but what does this mean????? Can he come back? Did he really die? WHAT’S HAPPENING?

He has to come back, otherwise what’s the point? Nikolai is the best.

The next book is called The Crown’s Fate and IΒ think this suggests that he comes back and there’s a massive dispute over whether Nikolai or Pasha is heir to the throne, hence the fate of the crown is in question. Also, I think Aizhana will have a big part to play in making sure Nikolai gets the throne but I have no idea what will happen to the three characters now, given how each of them has lost a parent and their relationships have sort of been destroyed.

An amazing book, and one that I won’t be able to forget in a hurry.

β€œAs for whether the magic in The Crown’s Game is real, well . . . that depends. Do you believe in what you cannot see?” – Evelyn Skye, The Crown’s Game

September TBR

September you horrid month – it’s the month everyone has to return to school/college/uni and I’ll be going into third year *cue look of panic* so obviously I won’t be able to read as much as I like, but for the first two weeks of September dammit I am going to try and read as much as I can!

Books I plan to read in September:

  • The Bone Season

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  • Empire of StormsImage result for empire of storms uk
  • Ivory and Bone
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  • Vicious
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And that’s all I’m planning on reading this month since I’ll be starting uni, I don’t want to plan to read too many books if I won’t have the time but hopefully if I finish these then I might start some more books – if I enjoy The Bone Season then I might get the sequel, The Mime Order, and that’s all I’ll probably have time to read this month.

I hope everyone has a brilliant month of reading and to those who are starting or going back to school/college/uni, good luck and I hope you achieve what you want to this year!