Thursday, 22 September 2016

7 Reasons to Join a Society


I'm back at uni! Back to lectures and essays, seminars and study groups, student life and societies.

(You wouldn't know it didn't start until next week, would you?)

Ahem. Today I'm taking a small step outside of my blogging niche to talk about university societies and why you should join at least one. 

1. There Is Literally Something for Everybody

For anybody who doesn't know, a society is basically a club. There are all the normal ones like drama, dance, and debate, but there are also some really weird ones. At my uni, we have a circus skills society, a Quidditch society, and a tea society.

(Well, this is England.)

Yes, us Brits are famous for our circus skills.

2. You're on a Low Contact Hour Course

The fewer contact hours you have, the less likely you are to make friends on your course. Sorry, but it's a fact. Science students have it easy (socially speaking). English students, not so much. I wouldn't worry about it - everybody makes friends in their accomodation, after all - but joining a society is something to consider if you feel like you haven't met anyone you've clicked with yet.

3. Subject Societies

If you join nothing else, join your subject society. They're a great way to meet people on your course and they tend to throw awesome end of year parties.

4. Try New Things

Yes, you have to pay to join societies, but they usually offer free taster sessions during freshers' week. I tried fencing simply because I could. Make the most of the first couple of weeks and try everything that you've ever wanted to do. You might just find a new hobby.

5. Meet Students on Different Courses with the Same Passions

Despite what TV may tell us, not all science students are socially awkward nerds, and not all English students are hermits who live in the library. You get art students who like video games, computer science students who like reading, engineering students who like baking... Life is boring when all of your friends study the same course. There's no one to fly off the handle when they hear how many contact hours you don't have. 

6. Meet Older Students

Second and third years are very useful people to know when, three weeks in, everybody else is running around like headless chickens, losing their heads over housing. They can tell you if the situation really is as dire as everyone is making out and whether you really have to jump in with Nancy from your flat (you don't). 

(They're also good for making you panic because, "That's not how he wanted it done last year.")

Thank you, Ivy.

7. You Won't be Busy Every Night

Contrary to popular belief, there isn't always something going on at uni. Likewise, your friends are not always stuck to your hips. Alone time is a basic human need. Unfortunately, not everyone wants it at the same time. For those nights when you want to go out but your friends just want to huddle in their rooms, there are societies.

Are/Were you in any societies? What's the weirdest society that your university has?

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Creepy and Unexplainable - The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22396591-the-dead-house
5/5

"Yesternight upon the stair,
I met a girl who wasn't there
She wasn't there again today
I wish, I wish she'd...

...Carly." - Dawn Kurtagich, The Dead House, page 8

I cannot tell you what really happened in this story. The premise seems simple - twenty five years ago, Elmbridge High School burnt down and Carly Johnson went missing - but the execution is not. The story is told in everything from diary entries to police interviews to CCTV camera footage. On top of that, Carly is Kaitlyn and Kaitlyn is Carly. They share a body, one coming out during the day and the other at night. Dr Annabeth Lansing has diagnosed them with Dissociative Identity Disorder -

(You may know it under its old name, Multiple Personality Disorder.)

- But it's always been the two of them, as far back as they can remember. And there's another possible explanation. Something far more sinister... 

At the beginning of the story, all of the characters seem so trustworthy. Ari seems sweet, Brett seems hopeless (characters suffering from unrequited love always do), Scott seems funny. Naida is a loud, extroverted practicioner of Mala, a fictional type of magic with religious connotations. Kaitlyn, whose diary makes up much of the story, is full of bravado and anger. Of course she is, she's spent the last few months being told that she's a symptom rather than a person. But, as the story moves along, you realise that you don't know who any of these characters are at all. This is a story that runs on twists and ambiguity and I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say that I have been thinking about it ever since I finished it and I still have no idea what the facts are. Who was right, Dr Lansing or Naida? Arguments can be made either way, and neither can explain everything.

I loved this book because it was a creepy, unexplainable horror, but it almost lost a star on the setting. It's set in England. 

Things that The Dead House got wrong about England -
  • We do not have red cups at parties. I don't know if this is actually an American thing or just an American film thing.
  • We don't have juniors and seniors. Year elevens would be ordinary students in their final year of GCSEs and year thirteens would be sixth formers or, possibly, upper sixth. And I know this is an American thing.
  • Kaitlyn correctly states that Halloween is less of a big deal over here. However, she is saying this as if to point out that Naida having a Halloween party is unusual. Given the ages of the characters, it's not really.
Those are just the things that I remember.

The book itself is absolutely gorgeous. The edges of the pages have been printed so that they appear singed by fire, there are coffee cup rings on some of the pages, and there's a great picture on the inside cover.

I definitely recommend The Dead House. It'll keep you guessing long after you've turned the final page.

Recommend me some creepy books! And, if you've read The Dead House, tell me who you think was right, Dr Lansing or Naida?

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The Greatest Fantasy Series of All Time

Today we're linking up with The Broke and the Bookish to discuss the greatest fantasy series of all time.

(*Glares*)

I mean the greatest fantasy series of all time, in my humble opinion. 
  
The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21416690-the-invisible-library

Dimension-hopping librarians, steampunk London, and dragons and fae locked in a never-ending war. What's not to love?

Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan


I'm counting these together because they both revolve around the same world and characters. They're both brilliant for different reasons. Percy Jackson has the world's most sarcastic narrator and the twistiest of twisty plotlines. Heroes of Olympus has a ginormous cast of awesome characters and a gigantic metal dragon. 

(So which is better?)

Please don't ask me to choose between them.

Runemarks by Joanne Harris

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2444163.Runemarks

Post-Ragnarok Norse mythology with the greatest interpretation of Loki ever written. He even has his own prequel. The Runemark series has a huge cast of characters and follows multiple plotlines until everything comes together at the end. It also has hilarious character pages.

Half Bad by Sally Green

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18621194-half-bad

I love a good series about witches. The Half Bad trilogy is gory and sweary, light on the magic and heavy on the angst. If you pick up this one, be prepared to have your heart torn from your chest on a regular basis.

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater


The Raven Cycle is a beautifully written quartet that tells the story of four public schoolboys, one not-psychic girl, and a dead Welsh king.  

Burn Mark by Laura Powell

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11761452-burn-mark

Burn Mark is the story of a girl who was always meant to be a witch and a boy who really wasn't. Quick, gruesome, and unapologetically British. 

There are hundreds more, but I have to stop somewhere. 

Can you pick between Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus? Don't forget to link me to your Top Ten Tuesday post! 

Sunday, 11 September 2016

My 100th Post! Three Things I Know I Need to Improve about My Blogging


Get the flags out! I made it to one hundred posts! 

(*Waves flag*)

...It's an expression, Ivy. And at the very least try not to look exasperated. Every post after this one is going to have a giant ONE at the front of its number!

(Which makes this the perfect time to work out how to IMPROVE, yes?)

No.

(Yes.)

No.

(You have any other ideas?)

...Fine.

Three Things I Know I Need to Improve about My Blogging

1. Green Eggs and Comma Spam

Comma spam is my biggest writing flaw. It's like I see a sentence and I have to pepper it with commas. I've started trying to ask myself, does it sound right when you take a pause there?

(Not when it's every other word.)

2. Ideas. None of Them.

I either have loads of ideas, or none of them. At the moment, I'm running on empty. I'm hoping that, when I go back to uni, I'll have more because I'll be back to reading eight hundred books a week. I need to start keeping a list of my ideas, because it's no good having them if I forget them before I can write them up.

3. My Incredible Lack of Picture-Making Skill

Click on any blogging advice website, and it'll tell you that pictures are the most important part of any blog.


(I believe they refer to them as visual media, not pictures.)

Thank you, Miss Pedantic. 

I don't use a lot of pictures and, when I do, they're usually unedited and taken on my phone. Last month, I joined Canva in an attempt to ensure that every post I write contains at least one picture because Bloglovin' displays the first picture in your post.

Whilst I don't use a lot of pictures, I do use a lot of GIFs.

(Case in Point.)
  
Sometimes though, using GIFs makes me nervous. I get them from Giphy, a GIF sharing site, and, whilst I've been told that this is perfectly fine because they're uploaded there so that other people can use them, I'm nervous by nature. 

Where do you get your GIFs? Are there any improvements that you want to make to your blogging?

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Get the Flags Out! It's a Dystopian I Don't 100% Hate! (The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/851218.The_Supernaturalist
3/5

“In comic books, people with gifts became superheroes; in real life they became outcasts.” - Eoin Colfer, The Supernaturalist

I feel really conflicted about this one. I don't usually like the idea that the future is a terrible place, partly because it's depressing and partly because dystopian fiction couldn't exist without it, but I thought that it was done well in The Supernaturalist. The world-building was incredible. I loved the paralegals, who were somewhere between horrific and hilarious. "There are waivers to be signed," indeed. I also liked the idea of Clarissa Frayne and Cosmo's need to escape from it.

Unfortunately, I liked the whole escape-from-Clarissa-Frayne plot a whole lot better than I liked the fight-supernatural-creatures plot. At first, Stefan's group knew everything. Then they knew nothing.

As for the other characters, I liked Stefan. He was a bit like an older brother to Cosmo and Mona, which was nice. I liked Mona too, but I felt that the romance subplot between her and Cosmo was a bit rushed. Cosmo himself had little personality, but he didn't come across as boring because he was defined by his actions and by how much he wanted to fit in. I felt like his backstory justified both his lack of definitive personality traits and his goals. Ditto was a unique character, and I was reguarly amused by his sarcasm. At the same time, I felt like a certain twist involving him was a bit unbelievable. He's known Stefan for three years and Stefan never caught on? I also didn't like how Faustino was presented as all-knowing. It made things a bit convenient.

By the end of this book my excitement for it had waned considerably, but I think that middle grade readers who were particuarly fond of sci-fi and dystopia would enjoy it. As I said before, the world-building is flawless, and it is pretty fast-paced if you fancy a quick read.


Do you like dystopian fiction?

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

A Brief Guide to Book Blogging Acronyms

The book blogging world is full of acronyms. You're reading an MG book and loving it, but it's just like that YA book that you've had on your TBR pile for the last five years and the FMC is totally cliche. 
When I first starting reading book blogs, I had no idea what any of them meant.

(That makes sense. Online groups and communities have their own sociolects, just like groups and communities in real life.)

Right. It's easy enough to find the meanings using a search engine, and to ask the blogger for clarification if you're still confused afterwards, but I thought I'd compile a list of them anyway. That way, they're all in one place.


General

TBR Pile - To Be Read Pile. The never-ending stack of books that you're going to read next. To add a book to your TBR Pile means that you are interested in reading it.

TL:DR - Too Long, Didn't Read. I've seen this mostly on Tumblr blogs, usually at the bottom of a post. It seems to work like the 'in short' section that you find at the top of newspaper articles. The blogger will follow it up with the short version of their view, for example, not worth the hype, or READ THIS!

NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. Okay, so it's not exactly an acronym, but it's close enough for me to put it on here. National Novel Writing month is an event that takes place every November when people all around the world try to write 50,000 words in a month. I usually refer to it on the blog as NaNo, but each to their own.

WIP - Work In Progress. If the blogger likes to write, this is probably how they'll refer to their current project.

Age Groups

MG - Middle Grade. Usually refers to books aimed at 9-14 year olds, also known as American middle schoolers. 

YA - Young Adult. Usually refers to books aimed at kids aged 14 and over. The upper boundary is more than a little ambiguous. Does it end, like childhood, at 18? Or, as it's young adult, does it end somewhere in the region of 19-25?

NA - New Adult. Not quite adult, but definitely not suitable for kids as young as 14. 

Characters

MMC - Male Main Character. The hero of the work. I've seen this mainly on NaNo message boards to refer to a character that somebody is writing themselves, but it does pop up from time to time in book reviews as well.

FMC - Female Main Character. The heroine of the work. Used in exactly the same places as the above.

Social Media

FB - Facebook
  
GR - Goodreads. The holy site of all book bloggers. Many take daily pilgrimage. Most bloggers just write it in full, but I have seen one or two abbreviate it like this.

BL - Bloglovin'. Again, usually written in full.

Series

HP - Harry Potter

PJO - Percy Jackson and the Olympians

HoO - Heroes of Olympus

HG - The Hunger Games

TMI - The Mortal Instruments 

TRC - The Raven Cycle

LotR - Lord of the Rings

ASoIaF - A Song of Ice and Fire (Used interchangably with GoT - Game of Thrones)

ACoTaR - A Court of Thorns and Roses

I plan to update this post whenever I come across new abbreviations, so please help me out by leaving any more that you can think of in the comments. 

Sunday, 4 September 2016

August is Over (Sunday Post #6)

http://caffeinatedbookreviewer.com/the-sunday-post-meme
Hosted by the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
It's been unusually sunny over here in England, but now August is over. Some traitor must've told the clouds because it's raining. Again.

News From the Reading Front

The Hidden Oracle (Trials of Apollo #1) by Rick Riordan - 4/5 stars, review

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8) by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne - 5/5 stars, review

Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy - I don't rate classics because I like my head on my shoulders, thank you very much.

Lament (Books of the Faerie #1) by Maggie Stiefvater - 3/5 stars, review

Grave Peril (Dresden Files #3) by Jim Butcher - 3/5 stars

News From the Blogging Front

For the first time ever, this month's most popular post was a review: Unpopular Opinion Alert! - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child 

The least popular post was The Seven Heavenly Virtues of Reading, from all the way back in July. 
This month, I joined Bloglovin'. Although its primary function is to increase the number of readers coming to your blog, you can also discover some brilliant blogs through it. Of all the blogs I've started to follow since I joined Bloglovin', my favourites are...

Happy Writer is run by Christina, who used to run Christina Writes. She's posted some utterly excellent resources this month, like lists of Submission Oppurtunities, and Readathons. She also runs a weekly link-up called WIP Wednesday

British Baby Names posts names of the week, name lists, including lists for specific historical periods, and tends to go into quite some detail about etymology.

Hawwa Etc. is a blog with beautiful pictures that covers a variety of topics from travel, to art, to books.

Bookshelves and Paperbacks is a book blog with great photos.

How was your August? Don't forget to link me to your Sunday Post posts!