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A Guide to Being a Busy Bookworm at University

So as you might’ve figured out from our descriptions or the many, many, many times we apologize during the year for university-caused absences, Chantal and I are hard-working students in two competitive fields of study. The ton of recreational reading we got done during school was a luxury we parted with when we enrolled at uni. Those of you who are in similar positions know what we’re talking about, I’m sure. The further into my studies I got, the less reading I was able to get done. Whereas I easily read 60 books a year during my undergrad studies, I’m now struggling to manage 50 books. During my internships, I also noticed how much less I was at home and yet got more reading done. The thing is: At uni, you always have some assignment to complete or studying to do, but I had no post-work obligations during my internships. Honestly, being back at uni pulled a break on my reading last semester. I am not surprisingly behind in my GR challenge, and I assume Chantal is, too. We don’t care about meeting the challenge per se but it allows for a direct comparison with our previous reading years which brings on nostalgia of times when we had more time to read.

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself whether this is going to be a page-long rant about how university has taken over our lives and so on. Actually, it is not.

Over the years, we’ve had to re-organise ourselves with regard to being bookworms – which means reading, reviewing, blogging, and bookstagramming. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. This post focuses on how to juggle one’s studies (or work) with reading which do not always go well together. We have to compromise a lot where book-related activities are concerned but we’ve found ways to get some reading (or blogging) done nonetheless. We’d like to share some of our tips and ideas with you. Please feel free to leave your own in the comments! From two bookworms to another, we’re always grateful for advice on squeezing in recreational reading into our busy schedules.

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Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Invictus by Ryan GraudinInvictus by Ryan Graudin
Published by Orion Children's Books on Sept 21st, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Sci-fi
Pages: 464
Goodreads

Time flies when you're plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far's birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he's ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far's very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

In this heart-stopping adventure, Ryan Graudin has created a fast-paced world that defies time and space.

3 Stars

I’ve only read one other book by Ryan Graudin so far, and I experienced similar issues with Invictus as I did with The Walled City. I haven’t yet read Wolf by Wolf, which is supposed to be amazing, but so far, Ryan Graudin has not made into onto my auto-buy list. I was cautious going into this, as time travel is difficult to impress me with. There’s always a flaw in the logic but this was not what fell flat for me in this book.

Invictus is based on an interesting concept and Graudin knows how to infuse her stories with scraps of knowledge, like ancient treasures long forgotten and slivers of foreign languages. Her characters, albeit not generic, have little life to them, and this makes it very hard to connect with the story on an emotional level. It is this, far more than the sci-fi element I had difficulty wrapping my head around, that makes Invictus forgettable for me.

“Did you know there’s a German curse that literally translates as ‘heaven thunder weather’? Himmeldonnerwetter?”
“Germans have the best words.”

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Anticipated Releases of Autumn 2017

Greetings, fellow bookworms! It’s been a year since we created this blog and wrote our first post on our most anticipated releases for the coming season, and it’s still one of our favourite posts to do. There’s just something exciting about browsing our TBRs on the lookout for upcoming releases. On the northern hemisphere, autumn is approaching fast, and you know what that means right? Lots of windy, rainy, and sunny days with golden leaves which makes for the perfect reading weather (naturally, if it’s turning spring where you live, that’s a lovely time to read as well). Now, we’re sure you have just as many physical or ebooks you already own which you should get around to reading, but what service would we do for the community if we didn’t point out more books to add to your never-ending TBR, am I right? Hence, we’ve put together a list of our most anticipated releases of autumn 2017 (autumn being September, October, and November where we live). The books are listed in order of publication date (as stated on Goodreads) and clicking on the titles will direct you to the respective Goodreads page (unless, of course, we were lucky enough to get an ARC and review it). We hope you find some intriguing books to keep you cosy with a cup of tea!

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Wonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo

Wonder Woman by Leigh BardugoWonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo
Series: DC Icons #1
Published by Random House on August 29th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Sci-fi
Pages: 384
Goodreads

She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

4 Stars

‘‘Sister in battle, I am shield and blade to you. As I breathe, your enemies will know no sanctuary. While I live, your cause is mine.’’

Going into Wonder Woman, I was both excited and apprehensive. Leigh Bardugo is one of my all-time favourite authors but I had hitherto only read fantasy novels written by her, never an urban fantasy/sci-fi and a superheroine origin story, at that.

Though Wonder Woman doesn’t read like Shadow and Bone or Six of Crows, I’m now convinced this woman can write any genre. Her magic for writing multi-layered characters, sassy dialogue, and electrifying plot twists will never cease to amaze me! Leigh Bardugo can do no wrong. 

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The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

The Library of Fates by Aditi KhoranaThe Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
Published by Razorbill on July 18th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 354
Goodreads

A romantic coming-of-age fantasy tale steeped in Indian folklore, perfect for fans of The Star-Touched Queen and The Wrath and the Dawn.

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn't enough.

The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

2 Stars

I read an excerpt on NetGalley and it captivated me immediately, so I decided to read the book. I am a puddle of disappointment, to say the least. I was unbelievably bored and the opposite of invested in the characters’ fates and the world. With the tale of the trees being chopped down at the start, Khorana also clearly advocates for climate change and nature awareness, which sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this book was a balloon of hot air – there is no other way to describe it.

The Library of Fates plays with an intriguing concept, namely the mash-up of a fantasy kingdom with the historical world, and entails a lot of elements from Indian mythology. The intriguing storyline I discovered within the first five chapters, however, turned into a wild goose chase with little substance. Instead of a captivating story, I got me some insta-love, underwhelming plot twists, and a rushed climax. I wish I could say I liked this more, as I was so excited for this coming-of-age fantasy with Indian falklore, but The Library of Fates was not for me, at all.

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The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Last Namsara by Kristen CiccarelliThe Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
Series: Iskari #1
Published by Gollancz on October 5th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 304
Goodreads

A gripping YA crossover series from a spectacular new voice in the genre.

Once there was a girl who was drawn to wicked things.

Asha is a dragon-slayer. Reviled by the very people she's sworn to protect, she kills to atone for the wicked deed she committed as a child - one that almost destroyed her city, and left her with a terrible scar.

But protecting her father's kingdom is a lonely destiny: no matter how many dragons she kills, her people still think she's wicked.

Even worse, to unite the fractured kingdom she must marry Jarek, the cruel commandant. As the wedding day approaches, Asha longs for freedom.

Just when it seems her fate is sealed, the king offers her a way out: her freedom in exchange for the head of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard.

And the only person standing in her way is a defiant slave boy . . .

THE LAST NAMSARA is an extraordinary story about courage, loyalty and star-crossed love, set in a kingdom that trembles on the edge of war.

4 Stars

I decided not to re-read the premise prior to picking up The Last Namsara but go in completely blind, and it was the best decision I could’ve made. This debut took me by surprise in the way it drew me into its world of dragons, gods, and magic stories. I WAS SO DOWN FOR THE DRAGONS. I definitely got some How To Train Your Dragons vibes from this, guys. Move aside Eragon, The Last Namsara has come to claim your place.

At first glance, The Last Namsara seems like your generic Young Adult fantasy, and I thought I’d grown tired of those. However, something about this book pulled me in. I was intrigued by the feisty but troubled main character, the character dynamics, the forbidden romance, and the gripping plot. Objectively, I could give a slightly lower rating due to the issues I had, but The Last Namsara had me so invested, racing through it within a couple of hours, that I cannot but give it 4 stars.

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Nina’s July Wrap Up

The last time I wrote a wrap-up was… last year. Both Chantal and I have struggled with blogging this year, and while I still find time to write reviews or gush about anticipated releases, the wrap-ups have been pushed to the sideline. From the amount of books I’ve read in July – and this year in general – you can tell that recreational reading is not going that well for me. Albeit being on summer break, I’ve been preoccupied with work and my thesis, but I’ve tried to at least get to the advanced reader copies (ARCs, for those of you unfamiliar with the term) in order to maintain a somewhat reliable feedback score on NetGalley. As a result, I’ve read 5 books this month and all but one of them were ARCs. ARCs can be a huge hit-or-miss, as not a great deal of people will have read them yet and you have barely any other opinions to rely on, so it’s no surprise that my average rating this month was not high. My July reads are listed (from left to right) in the order in which I read them. Clicking on the titles will lead you to my reviews.

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The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera

The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault RiveraThe Tiger's Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera
Series: Their Bright Ascendency #1
Published by Tor Books on October 3rd, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, LGBTQ+
Pages: 512
Goodreads

Even gods can be slain….

The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach―but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.

Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.

This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.

2.5 Stars

The most valuable member of the clan is the person who tells the best stories around the fire.

Frankly, anything blurbed by V.E. Schwab I expect to love. Alas, this was not the best story told around the fire, albeit showing immense potential.

Mid-book,I feared I was going to end up rating one of my most anticipated releases less than 2 stars. The first half lulled me to sleep, resulting in a lot of skimming. The second half was distinctly better than the first, the last 100 or so pages interesting even. From 5 stars to DNFs, you’ll see everything among this debut’s ratings, as it is a peculiar book and simply subject to individual taste.

The Tiger’s Daughter entailed a beautifully written same sex romance with two heart-winning heroines, but the action-packed fantasy I’d hoped for based on the premise was nonexistent. To me, The Tiger’s Daughter was more an epic love story than an epic fantasy novel. The storytelling – the point of view written in form of a letter – was not to my liking. Though the book ended better than it started, I lowered my rating to 2.5 stars because it couldn’t make up for the earlier amount of bored skimming.

FYI: In my understanding, this book is going to be published as adult fantasy, and its content warrants being shelved as such (or NA), but definitely not YA.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie ThomasThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Published by Balzer + Bray on February 28th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 444
Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

5 Stars

The Hate U Give instantly made the list of my favourite reads of 2017. You won’t find a lot of 5 stars among my ratings but this one was a no-brainer. I’d been expecting great things of Angie Thomas when this release was first announced, as it tackles an emotionally-charged topic in the US, and it did not disappoint.

When I was twelve, my parents had two talks with me. One was the usual birds and the bees. The other talk was about what to do if a cop stopped me.

This refreshing, daunting new voice deserves all the hype it’s getting. A lot of authors address and confront hard and controversial topics in their works, but Angie Thomas had her finger on the pulse of time with her debut. With its raw, realistic, and authentic narration, The Hate U Give tackles racism and the police violence related to it, but it digs far deeper than that – it uncovers a flaw rooted in our society. It takes a great deal of courage to make us and the world we live in look into a mirror, and Angie Thomas accomplished just that. No wonder so many readers said this book changed their lives.

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The Mid-Year Book Freakout 2017 Tag

Hey everyone! The MID-YEAR BOOK FREAKOUT tag has been popping up on book-related social media during the months of June and July, and it’s really popular among book bloggers and tubers. I thought it’d be cool to participate, especially since our friends’ posts have been so inspiring. This tag was created by booktubers Chami at ReadLikeWildfire and Ely at Earl Grey Books.

So far, 2017 has not been the best of reading years (perhaps coinciding with not having had a great year so far in general). In 2015, I had 20 books on my annual favourites shelf. In 2017, I’ve added 4 so far which isn’t very promising, is it? Due to my workload at university, I also haven’t been able to squeeze in a lot of reading time. I’ve read 21 books so far and I’m currently 4 books behind on my GR challenge. Nevertheless, I’ve read some really good books this year, and since this tag also talks about disappointments, you’ll be in for a few rants as well. Let’s begin with my bookish review of the first half of 2017, shall we?

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