Saturday, 30 April 2016

Reading AND Revision - Finding a Balance

It's that time of year again. The fine-liners and highlighters are out. The mind maps are up on the walls. The text books are spread across every surface. Exam season has arrived, and you're probably not too happy about it. No matter what you do with your free time, whether that be reading, or going out, grinds to a halt until it's all over. But that doesn't mean that you can't read at all.

1. Develop a Routine
At some point or other, your teachers will tell/have told you to 'create a revision timetable,' but that doesn't work for everybody. You don't have to timetable when you each subject, however it's great to have set times of day in which you revise, and in turn, set times when you are taking a break. Over time, doing revision from say 10-3 becomes habitual, and you will instinctively make time for it. By having this set time, there's also going to be time to read. 

2. Take a book wherever you go.
Whether it be on public transport, or waiting for a friend, there are going to be minutes where flashcards aren't at hand, and you have nothing to do. So instead of taking out the phone to check Twitter or Facebook, pull out a book instead. Even if you only read a few pages, that's still better than nothing. 

3. Throw reading completely out of the window
Yes, this does go against everything I'm trying to say, but it's still a valid point. Whilst focussing purely on revision for the next week/month will mean that reading doesn't even feature in your life, just imagine how many books you'll be able to read after exam season is over. It won't help you reading right now,  however think of all the books you'll have the time to read after this is over. That can be a great motivator to plough through revision. 

4. Make Reading a Reward
If you're here, then we can assume that reading is something you love and are passionate about - so why not make it a reward for revising. 1 hour revising? Why not read a chapter? 2 hours revising? Why not read a few more?

Maybe, hopefully you might find these tips useful. Although reading is fun and a wonderful thing, there are times that it needs to be set aside, and if these tips don't work then perhaps this is just one of those times. At the end of it all though, it can be guaranteed that you will feel a lot better for having higher grades than being further along in the Goodreads Challenge. 

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Gone Out. Back Soon

Yep. It's come around again.

It doesn't feel like very long since I was last saying this. But we're back again, in exam hell. Thankfully, at AS Level, I have less exams than I did at GCSE last year, and, to my relief, they're all over the course of 20 days instead of 2 months like in 2015. But that doesn't mean there's any less work, and I reckon that by the time this goes live I'll still be tearing my hair out over something or other - even if I spend ridiculous amounts of time revising. 

So, I'm taking a break. From social media, and from blogging. I adore writing here, and over the past few years it's become one of my greatest creative outlets, however sometimes you need to stop, and set aside the things you love doing for the things that give you a future you love. Now, even more so than last year, as much I'm spending so many hours on studying, I'm scared. I'm scared that I won't get the right grades, and these are grades that universities will see when I apply in the autumn. Exams first. Blogging second. 

I'm not quite sure when I'll be back yet, but my last exam is on May 31st, so it will be soon after that. A few posts have been scheduled so go live between then and now, but it will be the blogger-reader interaction that will be gone for now at least. I won't have time to visit other blogs or reply to responses here or on other platforms. My reading has also slowed down, which I hate, but has to be done. Without reading, I don't generate new ideas, so taking a break is a necessity. 

Good luck to anyone else who has exams too. Hopefully the ceasing of online presence between now and June will be worth it - because I have so many different posts going live over the summer. Anyway, I'll see you soon. 

Tuesday, 5 April 2016


The It Girl - Team Awkward by Katy Birchall

Team Awkward (The It Girl, #2)Everything Anna does is going to be seen by more than 10 million people, then she's determined to find something that she's really good at. Everyone else seems to have a 'thing' - especially the new girl at school, who's been distracting Connor with their shared love of art. Luckily the school sports day is looming, and Anna is limbering up! What could go wrong?

Reading Birchall's debut in May, I found it witty, light hearted, and a pick-me-up in book form. I still stand by that, but compared to The It Girl, Team Awkward was disappointing. 

Presumably, this a case of it depends on what you have already read, because it was my past reading experiences that meant I didn't enjoy this as much as perhaps I would have had I not read Geek Girl by Holly Smale. In many ways, The It Girl series is very similar to Smale's Geek Girl series. Actually it's similar in the reasons as to why I gave up reading the Geek Girl series. Truth be told, if there were any more books in The It Girl series, I'd definitely choose not to read them. 

Anna came across as naive, foolish, and immature. She never really acted her age, and that was difficult to read. Something that has also regressed in Team Awkward is that the writing was undeniably juvenile. Book 2 in the It Girl series felt like another case of an adult author trying to hard to get into the mindset of a teenager, and really missing the target. That sounds harsh, but I'm 17, and I've never heard a teenager speak or act like that, and I'm certain that their internal monologue doesn't sound so young either.

Front Lines by Michael Grant

Front Lines (Soldier Girl, #1)1942. The fate of the world rests on a knife’s edge. And the soldiers who can tip the balance . . . are girls. Set in an alternate World War II where young women are called up to fight alongside men, this is the story of Rio Richlin and her friends as they go into battle against Hitler’s forces. But not everyone believes that they should be on the front lines. Now Rio and her friends must fight not only to survive, but to prove their courage and ingenuity. Because the fate of the world is in the hands of the soldier girls.disappear?

Shouldn't it be her boyfriend Dylan, who makes her feel this way - not Miss Murray, her English teacher?

I don't know where to begin with Front Lines, but it was fantastic. How about we start with this;

“You’re a girl.”

“No, sir, I’m a sergeant.”

Like Team Awkward, this was an unsolicited proof copy. I wasn't aware of this novel even existing, but upon reading the press release, I was immediately intrigued. 

Michael Grant's alternative history of World War Two was fascinating, and a breath of fresh air. There was so much diversity within this story, because not only were many of the soldiers women, but two of the three soldiers we followed were from backgrounds whose we don't always consider looking from when learning of history. Rio was white, Frangie was African-American, and the most interesting perspective of all; Rainy was Jewish. Front Lines felt like it ticked a lot of the boxes many YA books currently fail to do so when it comes to bringing something new to the table. 

This book was great, and a great new entry in the YA fiction world. But I personally wouldn't continue the series. I'd highly recommend that you - yes you- do, but I think one book was enough for me. History is fascinating, but this period of history just isn't something that I'm interested in reading more of right now. However, as soon as I read this, I passed it onto my brother, and he loved it, so that's a start.

Thank you so much to Electric Monkey at Egmont for sending me these books for review.