Book Review – A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Hey lovelies!

I have been meaning to write this post for a while. It’s been a long time since I posted a book review. I do struggle to find the time to read books, so I’ve just joined the book club in my village and my first meeting with them is tomorrow (20/05/19). I’m hoping that as a result I’ll have to ensure that I make time to read and therefore can write more reviews on this blog.

Anyway, let’s get to it! Today I’m going to review A Discovery Of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

Why I chose to read this book:

I first watched this as the series on Sky (I think it was Sky, might be wrong) back in October and absolutely loved it so I had to read the book. There are two more in this series; the trilogy is called All Souls and I am definitely going to get reading the next one as soon as possible. The next two are called Shadow of Night and The Book of Life.

My thoughts on the story:

I loved it! One of the best books I think I’ve ever read. Certainly better than the series as all books are but as I loved the series so much I was rather intrigued if this would still be the case. I think that this book is beautifully written, and captivates the reader constantly; the story just flows seamlessly. I love the fact that Harkness has used these mythological creatures and turned them into her own excluding the common stereotypes. For example, a good witch with remarkable powers that she does not wish to use, a vampire that can still go out in daylight and doesn’t fly, and especially a daemon who’s characteristics are predominately that they are highly intelligent and diligent. I also love the idea of vampires using modern technologies such as mobile phones; I found this somewhat amusing.

My 5 favourite characters:

  • Diana Bishop – The protagonist. I really like Diana. She’s a strong, independent, stubborn and intelligent woman and really likeable. Even when being protected by vampires she still holds her own, and her character doesn’t allow herself to be controlled or protected to a certain extent, despite the danger she is in. Although Matthew does his best to look after her, she is still resilient and able to make up her own mind. I also like that she likes to eat, talk about relatable!
  • Matthew – I also really like Matthew. Although it seems like he underestimates Diana a little, it is clear that this is because he really cares about Diana, and I think he finds the fact that he cannot control everything she says or does attractive, because he is so used to people doing whatever he wants and finding his vampiric beauty and charisma difficult to resist. I feel that his character may change slightly in the next two books, as hinted by Hamish when he warns Diana ‘he wont be the same Matthew where you’re going’, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out through the series.
  • Ysabeau – Although at first Ysabeau is less than warm and friendly, I liked her from the off. She is truly a caring mother for Matthew and is certainly wary of Diana which is understandable given the circumstances of her husband’s death. I do nevertheless like the fact that she warms to Diana when she sees how much Matthew loves her and becomes really concerned and caring for her.
  • Sarah – I’m slightly biased with this as I know that Sarah was portrayed by one of my favourite actresses, Alex Kingston, in the series, however I think that character of Sarah is brilliant. There are many similarities between her and Ysabeau, both are protective of their family and wary of outsiders. Sarah is sassy and straight talking and is not afraid to stand up for her beliefs. She’s also very fond of coffee so let me tell you I can totally relate girl.
  • Sophie – although Sophie only appears near the end of this book, I think there is plenty of time to show her characteristics. She is seriously kind hearted and can see the good in everyone. She is not bothered by anyone else’s species and treats everyone with respect. She’s a total dreamer which I love, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Harkness develops her character and how it pans out with her child in the next two books.

What rating would I give?

5 out of 5. There is nothing that I do not love about this book. Harkness is incredibly talented and I’m so excited for the rest of the trilogy. I’d 100% recommend this to anyone looking for a fabulous modern fantasy novel.

Thanks for reading!

Miche xx

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Starting University? Here are my thoughts and tips!

Hi everyone,

So it’s been four years since I started my history degree at Oxford Brookes University, and just over a year since I graduated with my 2:1 with honours. Looking back, there are so many things I enjoyed, so many things I wish I’d done, and so many tips I wish I had been given. If you’re about to start your course, I wish you the very best of luck, and I hope you have the most wonderful few years of your life!

Graduation Day, June 2017. A proud moment!

Five aspects I enjoyed:

1) Meeting some wonderful new friends. Megan, Rachel, Lucy and Lily really made my university experience, and I’m so thankful for these amazing girls💖

2) Learning about parts of history I’d never have learnt about if it were not for my professors. Fascinating facts and interesting viewpoints made the subject so enjoyable. The professors and lecturers have a fountain of knowledge and it’s just wonderful.

3) The feeling of getting a piece of coursework back with a good mark. After disastrous A-Levels and barely scraping through to even get to university in the first place, I was overwhelmed when my first ever piece of coursework came back marked as a First.

4) The fact that I can proudly say that I have a degree! It’s a huge accomplishment and such a wonderful reward after all the hard work in my education.

5) Just being a student! The perks of being a student are awesome. Need a new dress? Student discount girllll. Want to burst out crying? You’re studying for a degree it’s fine, it’s understandable! Not ready to adult? Don’t worry, you’re a student, you have your whole life ahead of you, enjoy being young. I wish I was a student again!

I look awful and exhausted, but here is me just about to finally hand in my dissertation! All that hard work, done!

Five aspects I wish I had done better:

1) I wish I’d been more sociable and gone out more. I’m not a clubbing person or heavy drinker, and I’m quite a socially awkward person, but I do wish I’d pushed myself to really enjoy or just try the so-called “student lifestyle” before I became an adult with a full-time job and a mortgage. I let my anxiety stop me doing a lot, and I wonder if pushing myself to socialise more would have helped me.

2) Not procrastinated. Every student is guilty of this I’m sure, but I wish I’d tried to get work completed earlier, studied harder and not left everything to the last minute and caused myself unnessary stress. Those all-nighters could have been avoided if I’d have just got on with it!

3) Spoken to my professors, lecturers and staff leads more. I felt awkward asking for help when I needed it, which is the worst thing I could have done. I should have communicated when I was struggling.

4) Taken the opportunity to use Oxford University’s Bodleian Library. In my third year I could have filled in my form and had unlimited access to the Bodleian Library, an opportunity that I let slip. Always take every single chance that you are given!

5) Worked less. I worked hard throughout university, often working at least 30 hours a week alongside my full-time degree. Needs must to have been able to afford to live, and to have been able to save, as I didn’t have any other financial support. I managed to get a mortgage with my fiancé within months of coming out of university which was amazing and meant we got the perfect house at the best time, but I do think it meant that my studying slipped a bit, especially with my dissertation.

An ordinary day in the life of me, studying for and writing up a paper in the library

My Five Top Tips:

1) Study! Sound obvious, but make it your top priority. You probably won’t get the opportunity again. Be organised, don’t leave everything to the last minute, and always try your best. The rewards outweigh everything.

2) Read! Read all of your course materials and then some. I didn’t, and I feel that with some areas I struggled because I didn’t always have a profound understanding of the topics. Anything to help!

3) Make the most of your student discount. I barely used mine because I always forgot about it, and I miss it now. I could have saved a fortune!

4) Don’t be afraid to ask questions! At the risk of repeating what I have written above, talk to your professors and lecturers and staff leaders! They are there to help you and better you, and they will always assist you in any way possible.

5) Embrace it. Make the most of your time and university, studying a subject you love, spending time with your amazing friends, laughing and loving life. Your degree, and those 3+ years, will go by in a heartbeat. Make the most of it! Whenever you think that you can’t do it, that you’re going to fail or that you’re wasting your time, please remember that you are doing great and it will all be worth it in the end!

Are you starting university? If so, what uni are you going to and what are you studying? Or have you been/are you still attending uni and are there any tips you would give to freshers? Let me know in the comments below!😘

Thanks for reading!

Michelle x

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I took a trip to the library & I am getting back into reading.

Hey guys!

I have to admit, that I haven’t been into a library for anything other than non-fiction books for my university degree since I was doing my GCSEs. Terrible, for someone who spent their childhood reading. All my friends and family knew that I was a huge bookworm, but I haven’t had the time to really read for so long. In college and university I was in full time education and working almost full time hours around it, and at university I only had time to read the book specific for my course – history. In the year and a bit since I graduated, my fiancé and I have brought our first house which was a complete doer-upper, and needed so much work doing to it so that for the last year, any time we were not at work we were decorating or building or sorting or whatever. This is also why I wasnt really able to blog before. Now, as we’re gradually getting more time to relax now that almost everything is done, I’m so keen to get reading around blogging in my spare time! I asked a few of you amazing people on Twitter to recommend me some books, which I will be on the look out for, but in the meantime I chose three books at random from the little village library I went to (I live in a small village, the nearest library is about a 10 minute drive away in a bigger village – all good fun). So now, no more excuses, nothing else should get in my way!

So here are the three books I chose:

Fly Away by Kristin Hannah

Murder By The Barrel by Lesley Cookman

Take Me Home by Daniela Sacredoti

I will review all of them on my blog once I’ve read them.

Has anyone read these books before or anything by these authors? If so, let me know in the comments!

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Joyland by Stephen King – Book Review

Hi everyone, here is my brief review of ‘Joyland’ by Stephen King. I haven’t written a book review since I was at college but I wanted to have a go, so please don’t expect anything amazing with this. Hope you enjoy!
I am pretty sure that we all know who Stephen King is. He seems to be the godfather of horror stories, known for his dark novels that inspired some riveting horror movies, such as It and Carrie. His 2013 novel, Joyland, is no exception to the rule. A mystery/crime novel set in a South Carolina amusement park in 1973, this story was bound to incorporate an element of terror and fear, and it does just that. However, considering the truly dark abhorrent nature of other novels by King, this is in my opinion more tame than some of his other works.
The synopsis reads as follows: “College student Devin Jones took the summer job at Joyland hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart. But he wound up facing something far more terrible: the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and dark truth about life – and what comes after- that would change his world forever.” Instantly, we are reminded of the basis of every King novel – death and darkness. We are also introduced to our protagonist Devin, who is hung up on the demise of his first taste of love. As the story begins, I was instantly reminded of the start of a stereotypical rom com, whereby the protagonist would try something out of their usual comfort zone to escape the memories of their first love and end up finding love in a truer form. However, our guy Devin is extremely heartbroken about losing his beloved Wendy Keegan, and throughout the novel we are reminded of it again and again and again. Although I think this element of the story is important to the plot as it’s a contributory reason to why Devin is at Joyland in the first place, I don’t think it really adds anything to the overall narrative by keep repeating it. I feel as though it makes the character of Devin come across of rather mundane and dull. Notwithstanding this, the synopsis certainly intrigues the reader and encompasses an element of mystery, encouraging you to really want to read the story.
After a descriptive start, the storyline really gets going when the character Emmalina Shoplaw, who’s name Devin describes as it being “hard not to picture a rosy-cheeked landlady out of a Charles Dickens novel”, tells the ‘ghost story’ of why the Horror House ride at Joyland is considered to be haunted, after the vicious and gory unsolved murder of a young woman on the ride a few years previously. The character of Rozzie Gold, aka ‘Madame Fortuna’ offers a further element of mystery and spookiness when her seemingly nonsense prophecies begin to come true. I definitely think that this helps to keep the reader compelled and interested in the plot and encourages you to attempt to figure out the mystery. I can’t speak for everyone but I certainly felt that the revelation of who the murderer is was rather shocking, but it makes total sense. It certainly brings that sense of “of course, why didn’t I think of that.” I really think that this revelation makes the book resonate in your mind and gives you the euphoric feeling when you finish a good book. This is certainly a reason why I like this book – the wow factor. King really conveys how ingenious he can be by cleverly playing with the mind of the reader. Despite this, I do think that after this revelation the story ends rather abruptly. There isn’t really much of a structured ending, and I think at it was quite odd to not have the opinions about the killer’s identity from notable characters such as Mrs Shoplaw, Tom and Erin especially after they were so essential in building the discovery of the murder and subsequent haunting. Another thing I disliked about the book was the fact that although this book is set in the summer of 1973, it seems to jump around between prior to that summer and to years after and the present day. As such I personally found that it was difficult to keep up with the story line at times.
Overall, I did really enjoy this book and it has made me really want to read some more of King’s work, and although there were certain aspects that I didn’t particularly like, I would really recommend this to anyone who enjoys a spooky sort of mystery story.

My rating: 3 of of 5 stars

Thank you for reading!

Michelle xx

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