100 Days of Summer

Does anyone remember my 100-day resolutions? Well, it’s a little after June 23rd, so I thought I’d update you on my progress, and make some new resolutions for the summer!

The resolutions I made in April were:

 Keep blogging throughout term, doing at least 3 posts a week. I am fairly pleased with my progress on this. I let a few days slip past a couple of times, but also managed to post every day for a lot of the term.

– Make the effort to go out with friends, rather than mope about not going out. I pushed myself not to cancel plans because I didn’t feel like it, and because of that, I’ve spent some really lovely quality time with friends old and new.

-Earn some money. I did several experiments at the beginning of term, worked a crazily-well-paid lecture day and signed up to work at Open Day in September. I’ll be heading back to waitressing soon, to make even more money!

– Make some travel plans for the summer. I’ve started to think about this, and have plans to go to Bath, Hay on Wye, and very possibly to Green Man festival in Wales. I’m also off on holiday to Malta with my family and Boyfriend, and I’m going to keep planning day trips!

So, time for some new resolutions! The next 100 days will end on October 3rd, which is just a few days before the start of next term – a perfect amount of time for some summer plans.

– Get back on track losing weight. I plan to do the Couch to 5k (and now I’ve said that, I’m accountable for it!), and keep up my visits to the gym to make the most of my membership.

– Cut down on my crazy TBR list. I always get more reading done in the summer, but there’s an element of not buying books here too. I’d like to be under 150 unread books at the end of the summer.

– Be well prepared for my collections (mini-exams) at the beginning of next term. I have a translation paper and an essay paper, and I’d like to do well in them (not least because there’s a monetary prize for getting a first!).

– Enjoy the summer. This is possibly my last summer as a student, with a looooong holiday stretching out before me. I don’t want to waste it!

 

So, you might see some more lifestyle posts popping up while I make the most of my summer. I hope they’ll still be interesting to you!

What do you hope to achieve this summer?

Asha x

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Sunday Book Nook #3 – Chambers’s Etymological Dictionary

One of my geekiest qualities is my love of language. I have always loved words, how they fit together and in particular, where it might have come from. Fairly often, I’ll just stop in the middle of a conversation or a page, because the cogs just start twirling about one word and its origins.

This sometimes leads to conversations that go like this:

Asha playing Skyrim: “Hello Jarl. Yyyyaarl. Yeeee-arrrrl. Eeeearl. Hm. Oh! I bet that’s related to ‘earl’!” (correct).

Or, Asha watching The Apprentice: “Hey, that oud looks like a lute! Ooh! What if the English comes from the Arabic through French? Oud! L’oud! Lute!” (I was wrong on the coming through French, it’s just a corruption, but they are related).

When I have these flashes of inspiration/noise-mangling, I reach for a wonderful book, which is what I’m going to show you today:

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Sunday Book Nook #2 – Accidental Haul & What I’m Reading

I’m not meant to be buying any books at the moment… but then I found a new excellent second hand bookshop. With a very good fantasy/sf section. I think I was quite restrained, considering!

DSCF1552I picked up Odalisque, by Fiona McIntosh (book one of the Percheron series), The Desert Spear by Peter Brett (the sequel to The Painted Man), and Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder (the third book in the Study series about Yelena). All in really good condition for second hand – I don’t think Odalisque has even been read!

Most of today’s book love, though, has been devoted to reading this wonderful book in the sunshine:

DSCF1555You remember how much I loved Graceling and Fire? This is the sequel to Graceling. And it’s even better. I’m about halfway through, and it’s incredible! I’m torn between racing through it, or savouring every moment…

Have you read any of these? As always, any recommendations are very welcome!

Asha x

 

 

Hundreds of books, thousands of books!

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I read a lot of books. Usually somewhere between 140 and 200 a year. But I buy a lot of books too – last year around 250! This is a screenshot of my To Be Read spreadsheet, which I set up last year to keep track of the unread books I own (I’m still camera-less, but screenshots need no cable, huzzah).

Every book that comes into my room goes on this list, and I just delete them from the spreadsheet when I’ve finished with them (I keep a list of what’s read over here at Not Even Lions). I add information in the third column like B for Begun (as in, what I’m currently reading), N for Non-Fiction (I have a tendency to buy it and then not read it) and whether or not it’s borrowed. The fourth column shows what date it was bought, with C before a year indicating Christmas, and pre meaning before 2008 (but I can’t remember when) – this is just to remind me of the long wait some of my books have had, as I also keep a list of what I’ve acquired, when, and how much it was at Not Even Lions.

So, as of today, the list stands at 184 – when I got home from Oxford on Sunday, it was at 196, so I’ve made some progress! I doubt it will ever get down to zero, but that’s okay, as long as I get to everything eventually…

How do you keep track of your TBR list? Tell me about your organisation system in the comments, and let me know if you’d like a picture of the TBR books themselves!

Asha x

The Owl Reads!

Behold! Even though it’s term time, I managed to finish two books in the last week! Mini reviews up ahead.

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Green Rider – Kristen Britain
The Curse of Chalion – Lois McMaster Bujold

Green Rider by Kristen Britain

I originally picked this up in a spree in Blackwells, just because I was browsing the sci-fi/fantasy section and this book was so, so pretty! Just look at it! It’s taken me over a year to get to this; I think I bought it early in second year.

Karigan G’ladheon always seemed to be getting into a fight, and today was no exception. But as she trudged through the forest, using her long walk home to contemplate her depressing future, a horse burst through the woodland and charged straight for her. The rider was slumped over his mount’s neck with two arrows embedded in his back. Wherever his horse was taking him, he would be dead long before they got there… Karigan may be unable to save him, but she can swear to complete his final quest… [excerpt from blurb]

Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the gorgeous cover. It’s a sweet story, yes, but I’m still not sure if it was intended to be a YA fantasy or not (Goodreads and Wikipedia haven’t enlightened me!). I really don’t think that being YA fantasy is a bad thing – I loved Graceling and Poison Study recently, to name a couple – but Green Rider felt quite childish in its plot developments. I never really felt connected to Karigan, so it failed for me as a character-driven novel, but there was such light information about the Green Riders that it didn’t draw me in with the setting either. I felt the world was very lightly sketched, and no development had been done outside Karigan’s immediate situation – while I hate info-dumps on the magic system/the current king/etc, there are so many ways that the reader can learn about a world through the journeys of the characters.

I did enjoy Green Rider: it was a nice little fantasy. But it didn’t live up to expectations, nor to its more grown-up cover.

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

I was lent this by a friend, as a good place to get started with one of his favourite authors. As with Green Rider, I enjoyed it for what it was, but I couldn’t help but compare it unfavourably to Robin Hobb and Brandon Sanderson – and believe me, in that company, it definitely comes off quite shabbily.

Lord Cazaril has been in turn courtier, castle-warder and captain; now he is but a crippled ex-galley slave seeking nothing more than a menial job in the kitchens of the Dowager Provincara, the noble patroness of his youth. But Cazaril finds himself promote to the exalted and dangerous position of secretary-tutor to Iselle, the beautiful, fiery sister of the heir to Chalion’s throne… [excerpt from blurb]

This is a fantasy focused more on court intrigue and religion than on traditional magic, which was very interesting. Unfortunately, the intrigue wasn’t enormously intriguing – I found myself hating the wilful, beautiful princess Iselle, simply because she was intended as nothing but “Wow, a feisty, sensible princess who eventually solves all the problems of the kingdom and never has to deal with being sold off into an advantageous marriage, because she marries for love and peace. Yay, feminism!” I just felt like she was so untouchable as to be unbelievable.

This book reminded me enormously of Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson, which I’m going to lend to said friend in return, if he hasn’t read it. Now there is an instrumental princess, wrapped up in court intrigue and religion, who seems real. She is used as a pawn, forced into contact with destiny and the gods, and never manages to lose her humanity – but she struggles, instead of birds helping her get dressed in the morning.

Cazaril himself, the main character, I had no real objections to, but I didn’t find him as compelling as he could have been. He, too, had a sort of overcoming-struggles-to-be-the-chosen-one storyline, which apart from being predictable, he managed not to really react to. I think that maybe I just don’t click with the author’s style of characterisation, because I just found everyone a bit Stoic and samey. I like some grit and some crushing despair in my chosen ones. Otherwise it’s just wish fulfilment.

Another pet hate: renaming court positions for no real reason. I didn’t like ‘ser’ in ASOIAF, and I don’t like ‘roya, royina, royse, royesse’ here. They are exactly the same as ‘king, queen, prince, princess’, so why bother renaming them? If you’ve invented a new hierarchy, brilliant. If not, you just sound like you’re trying too hard to exoticise your setting.

Well, that review sounds a little harsher than I intended. I did enjoy this. I’m just baffled as to how it can be held in competition with the masters of the genre (Rothfuss, finish The Doors of Stone!), when it would be much happier next to Eddings and Lackey. Lovely, but not as deep as it thinks it is.

If you’ve read either of these, what did you think? What’s your favourite fantasy novel?

Asha x

New Books!

It’s been a little while since I posted, sorry. The first couple of weeks are always really busy, but I think I’m just about organised now. I’m going to try to post twice, maybe three times a week from now on.

So, being back in Oxford means being back in bookland, and it was only going to be so long before being in libraries all day made me long for book buying! Add to that the fact that I just got a sort-of job with Blackwell’s, the big awesome Oxford bookshop, that gives me a 30% discount on all books, well, let’s make that ‘so long’ into ‘about five minutes’. Without any further ado, here’s what I’ve acquired:

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From the £2 bookshop in town:

Sisters Red – Jackson Pearce

The Goose Girl – Shannon Hale

Listening to Britain – Paul Addison and Jeremy Crang

Oscar’s Books – Thomas Wright

From Blackwell:

Dracula – Bram Stoker (free)

Fairies and Fairy Stories: A History – Diane Purkiss

In Search of the Dark Ages – Michael Wood

Selected Poems 1923-1958 – E. E. Cummings

I’m so excited to get reading again! I’ll have to make some time, but I’m really looking forward to some of these. What should I read first?