Sunday, 28 September 2014

Balancing School Readings with Leisure Reading.

Hi everyone! I hope that you are all doing well. I have been away for a little and I apologize. School recently started up again and I have been incredibly busy. I also haven't been reading as much as I would like unfortunately.. but after some time management and planning this past week, I am here now with some tips on how you can balance your school readings with leisure reading. 

If you are a university student like me, then you will most likely have tons of academic readings assigned to you every week, which unfortunately take up a good chunk of time also. After reading about 300 pages of a history book, the last thing you want to do is well, read. You get this burnt out feeling and the free time that you do have, you may choose to spend elsewhere. Lately for me, I've been watching tv (fall tv season just returned) or honestly, going outside and enjoying the last of the good weather! I am still however buying books and receiving books and I do want to read - it is just hard when you are in a slump and you are exhausted. So how can you balance both? 

Image from weheartit 

1. Prioritize your books. If you are a fellow blogger, you will receive ARCs. If you know that you cannot handle a lot on your plate at the moment, hold off on receiving ARCs, so there is not as much pressure or simply speak to the person you are dealing with and let them know that school is really hectic at the moment so your reviews will be slower. Pick a book that you want to read THE MOST. By prioritizing your books a little, you will find yourself making time to read it because you are enjoying it.. and also, it helps to get rid of the ~forced~ feeling. 

2. Shorten your To-Be-Read List. To remove the pressure, simply lessen your TBR pile. Instead of aiming to read 5 books this month, just aim for one. Small goals are a lot easier to manage with your school work. 

3. Time Management. I am finding that setting aside a specific time to read during the day really helps with your hectic school schedule. I set aside about 45 minutes to an hour a day after school work to read for pleasure. It is a designated time solely for leisure reading!

4. Take reading breaks. I am doing this a lot lately! I will read a bit of school work for one class for example and then reward myself with a reading break with reading for pleasure. The only problem with that is that it can get confusing.. so pick a shorter book or some comic books to read in between of your home!

5. Realize that it is OKAY if you simply don't read. Let's be real for a moment you guys. School is definitely the priority here. If reading for pleasure is getting in the way of you finishing your homework readings and completing your assignments, that is simply a big NO-NO. It is okay if you can't read for pleasure while juggling your school work. There is nothing with that. If you can try and make time once a week to read for pleasure that's great. I find that even if I don't have time, I try to make time at least once a week, because it helps me just enjoy my school readings more (especially with dryer material that you sometimes need a breather from) and also helps you pick up your reading speed. Don't make things difficult for yourself and add unnecessary pressure. If you can't read this month, that's okay! Try for next month.

I am not sure if these were really great goals, but that is how I've been managing lately. I try my best to read as much as I can, when I can, but unfortunately sometimes it does not happen. I have been known for reading super fast, but it seems it has finally caught up to me.

This post is also a kind of ~update~ of how things will proceed. I am juggling course work, a teaching position and research work so it is quite hard to find time. So reviews will be a lot slower than before, but you can still track my reading progress on goodreads and on twitter. I will try and have a post up per week and I am still taking requests for reviews through email, so simply shoot me an email, since for me ARCs do take priority to ensure reviews are out on or before release date. Anyways, I hope that these goals have helped in some way. Let me know in the comments below if you are trying to find a happy medium between school readings and leisure readings. I would love to hear your tips and ideas on how to effectively manage both! 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Review: Claudine by Barbara Palmer

The Premise: The story follows a postgraduate Yale Student named Maria Lantos who is currently in her masters and studying eighteenth-century literature, specifically classic erotic fantasy narratives. Maria is actually also Claudine, a persona she takes on when she engages in her role as an high-end escort. She is discreet with all of her clients and anonymous and is sure to only engage with them only once. Everything seems to be going fine in Maria's life with her juggling both her day life and her night life, until a murder occurs and she is somehow linked to it. Along with that, the lines between her two lives begin to blend together making things a lot more complicated for Maria. The story follows Maria through many of her engagements with specific clientele, her daily school life and her relationships with Lillian (her hair dresser/confidant) and Andrei, her right hand man and best friend. The reader follows Maria through all of this while also getting snippets of her past to fully grasp what led to the idea of "Claudine" to begin with.

My overall thoughts and review: When I was first sent the premise of this story, I was immediately intrigued by the fact that Maria was a student and there would be focus on the eighteenth-century literature that she studies, but unfortunately that was only a small snippet of the text and somehow I thought the story of an actual eighteenth-century erotic text would be interwoven within the text. Moving aside, let me begin to say that I have no problem with erotica novels, the sex part does not bother me as long as there is more to the story than simply that. It is important to me that characters like Maria can stand alone as a fully-formed character without the sex. The erotic scenes in my opinion were done tastefully and were not the overall focal point of the text which was significant. It did demonstrate to the reader kind of the "inner workings" of the process of an escort and how much work (I'm assuming) goes into preparing for everything. I enjoyed reading from Maria's perspective and learning things about her past and just overall, how things work in the life of an escort. It was nice to see her moments with Lillian and Andrei and just how sweet their little 'family' was. The storyline of the murder being woven in was also intriguing. It did have me reading quite quickly towards the end to find out who was behind everything and confirm my suspicions. Time in the narrative also moved quite quickly and in my opinion, certain scenes could have been replaced with more character building scenes for Maria, Andrei and even Lillian.  I applaud Palmer for being able to write erotica fiction in a tasteful manner, and building a character like Maria to be more than simply an escort, but where the text falls short for me is that it was predictable. I think that if you are a fan of other erotica thrillers such as the Fifty Shades of Grey series, this is definitely the better written and more enjoyable alternative. This also brought me back to the days of the tv show Secret Diary of a Call Girl, which I personally love because of Billie Piper, so this is definitely similar to that!

My rating of the book: 3/5 stars.

Claudine will be released September 2, 2014! Let me know if you plan on reading Claudine and your thoughts on it below in the comments!

Also! Fun fact.. Barbara Palmer is actually a pen-name for a best-selling, international award-winning novelist! You can find out more about her here or on twitter at @barpalmer!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me from Penguin Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own.