King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard – Book Review

Warning: spoilers if you haven’t read the first two books in the series!

In Aveyard’s penultimate instalment of the Red Queen series, we once again join Mare, Cal and the Red Guard on her fight against the oppressive system in the Kingdom of Norta. After the events of Glass Sword, Mare is confined to Maven’s palace as a puppet, her once strong, fear-inducing powers now reduced to nothing. As the rebellion continues without her, Mare must watch from the sidelines. Cal, on the other hand, the exiled prince, will stop at little to get her back…

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Heading into the GCSE exam period – what I wish I had known this time last year

The time is almost here for GCSE students to take the exams they have been working so long for; it’s an opportunity to show the hard work that they’ve been putting in to learning the new, tough GCSE syllabus introduced for most of the GCSE exams last year. I took my GCSEs last year, so the experience and process is fresh in my mind! Here is a brief list of some things which I wish I’d known before I had gone into the exam period.

  1. Mindset is key. However much revision you have done, having a positive mindset is so important. So many times, I have heard “I’m going to fail, I know nothing”. Try and say to yourself “I am going to try my very best in this exam, answer as many questions as I can and show the examiner my best”. This will help you to mentally prepare before the exam. As you are preparing to go into the exam hall, try and think about this, instead of running through any last-minute knowledge.
  2. Focus on yourself. Some people will be flexing their knowledge before the exam, others may claim that they are doing no revision (not always true). Exam period is one time when you can focus on yourself. These kinds of people will just take you off-track, and distract you from what is truly important. If the environment in a form room or canteen between exams is stressing you out, take a breath of fresh air or head to the library.
  3. Extract yourself from social media. I decided to delete Snapchat and Instagram through the exam period, as I felt like I may be tempted to scroll through photos when I should be either revising or having some time off. I found that I didn’t miss it too much, and I didn’t distract myself with what other people were doing, or feel intimidated by seeing people’s photos of their revision. I did like to check twitter from time to time to see the latest GCSE memes, which kept me going through the exam period!
  4. Don’t dwell on what went wrong. If an exam doesn’t go exactly as planned, then try not to spend too long worrying about it – If you found the exam difficult, then chances are, you are not the only one, and the grade boundaries will reflect this. It’s best that you try and focus on what’s coming up next, and how you can prepare yourself for that.
  5. Be organised. Try to make sure you have every piece of equipment you need (especially for Maths exams). Arrive for your exams around 10-15 minutes before they start, to help you to get into the right mindset, and to be able to calm yourself.

I wish everyone taking their GCSEs the best of luck!

Alyssa x

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard – Book Review

In Aveyard’s second instalment of her fantasy series Red Queen, we return to the Kingdom of Norta. After the events of Red Queen, Mare, Kilorn and Cal are on the run from the evil and wicked King Maven. As a Newblood, Mare has Red blood (the colour of common people in Norta) but also the superhuman powers of the elite Silvers. With a list of the others who share her Newblood status in hand, Mare embarks on a mission finding and recruiting these individuals to the rebel organisation, the Scarlet Guard.

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – Book Review

In Norta, the colour of your blood defines you – your social status, your occupation, and whether or not you have superpower-like abilities. The elite Silvers exploit the Reds, sending them to the front line in the North and using them as their servants in their lavish residences.

Mare is a Red, and every day she becomes closer to being conscripted on her seventeenth birthday. After a chance encounter, she finds herself serving the King in his summer residence. One day, however, something happens to Mare that makes her question her identity – she appears to have Silver abilities but Red blood, so the royal family decide to declare her as a long-lost princess, to prevent any questions being asked. Mare is thrust in to the Silver world, engaged to a Silver prince. She now has the chance to take down the oppressive system that has caused her family and community so much pain and suffering. This won’t be easy; she must dodge the jealousy, lies and rivalries of the royal courts to try to bring justice to her people.

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Turtles All the Way Down by John Green – Book Review

In John Green’s latest novel, Aza is faced with a dilemma when the billionaire father of a childhood friend becomes a fugitive. When her best friend Daisy hears about the $100,000 reward for information leading to his arrest, the pair begin to look into anything that may lead them to his whereabouts. However, through the investigation, Aza becomes much closer to the fugitive’s son and childhood friend, Davis Pickett. Being a supportive friend to Daisy, a good student and investigating the case is a lot, but Aza must also learn how to cope with thought-spirals and intrusive thoughts caused by her anxiety and OCD. 

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Release by Patrick Ness – book review

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Release is one day in the life of seventeen-year-old Adam, a gay teen with a homophobic preacher father from Washington. It’s a big day for him, with heartbreak, love, secrets being told, relationships breaking down; Adam will learn a lot from today…

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Every Day by David Levithan – Book Review

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Every day A wakes up in a new body. In order to make it through the day without the person suspecting that they are being possessed, A must access the person’s memory in order to learn their routine, personality, likes, dislikes, relationships and how they act towards others. For one day, A must live their life for them, making decisions in their best interests. It has always been like this for A – their surroundings and physical body changing daily. Then one day, A finds themself in Justin’s body, Rhiannon’s boyfriend. As he moves through the day, he grows closer and closer to Rhiannon – he has found someone he wants to be with every day, a constant when everything around him is changing.

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Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda – Book Review

Fragments of the lost

A month after a terrible flood took her ex-boyfriend Caleb’s life, Jessa is asked by Caleb’s mother to tidy their house to prepare them for moving. As she begins to sort his belongings, she learns more and more about the boy she thought she knew. As the memories overwhelm her, she begins to piece together his story, until she’s left with a picture that is unrecognisable – what exactly happened on that bridge, and was it his fault?

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Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas – Book Review

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After winning the competition to be crowned the King’s Champion, assassin Celaena Sardothien is tasked with the dispatching of anyone who dares to challenge the King of Adarlan’s rule. As she has already suffered at the hands of this ruthless king, she offers all of her targets the opportunity to flee, to never be seen again. However, with every death she fakes, she puts the lives of the people that matter the most to her at risk – Dorian, Chaol and Nehemia. As she learns more about the King’s court and it’s secrets, she must decide which side she is on and how much she is willing to sacrifice…

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Charlotte Says by Alex Bell – Book Review

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In the chilling prequel to Frozen Charlotte, Bell explores the dark secrets behind the Dunvegan School for Girls. In 1910, Jemima takes up a job offer after a devastating fire at her home, claiming the life of her mother. Wishing to start afresh, She travels to the school’s remote location on the Isle of Skye. She is not prepared for the horrific events that follow. Without headmistress Miss Grayson on her side, she begins to uncover the sinister truth surrounding the “accidents” happening to the school’s students. The weirdest thing about it all? It seems to have something to do with the spooky “Frozen Charlotte” dolls that the girls play with…

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