Book Review: Extraordinary Means – Robyn Schneider

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The life you plan isn’t the life that happens to you’ 

Lane’s a hard worker, he’s getting perfect scores, in the model UN and looking at a straight streak into Stanford, internships and Wall Street, that is until he gets a drug resistant form of TB which gets him sent to a boarding school for sick teens. While Lane thinks his life is over, it’s really just beginning and it teaches him something he’s never encountered before. Meanwhile troublemaker Sadie has has more than enough of Latham House and thinks that nothing will change until a past face catches up with her.

I have to start this review by saying that I am in love with this novel and I’m kicking myself for not picking it up earlier. While some people have hailed it the new The Fault in Our Stars I think that’s a brush off, not only is this novel completely different but it also doesn’t do Schneider’s writing justice, this is not a rip off of John Green although I think fans of his will appreciate it. I picked this up in a book haul and completely fell in love with it from the first chapter. It’s perfectionist characters like Lane (our protagonist) that I really fall in love with because I recognise them and I understand them, being a total perfectionist myself.

Extraordinary Means has a host of characters you can see walking around your head while reading. There are very few books that I get this emotionally involved in, that I pour over and finish in a matter of hours rather than days. What Schneider has managed to create is not one but four lovable characters, each with their own individual personalities that you can hold in your heart from the first page they’re mentioned to the last and I for one like to imagine after the novel and what the future holds.

This kind of novel is tricky, a lot of teenagers locked up for their own good dealing with being a teenager as well as being sick. There are a lot of people who write about illnesses but TB is something we no longer considered as a threat, it’s mostly wiped out, right? In this novel it’s very real and I for one sat and thought long and hard about what it must be like living with a contagious disease, taken away from everything and having to start a new. This is the power of these types of novels they make you think not only about the plot in the novel, but also about the wider world and the people in it. Would we react as people in the novel do? Would we care about the people living without a cure? It’s definitely worth a think, especially after seeing it through Lane and Sadie’s eyes.

I have to say that was one of the best parts of the novel, having two different perspectives was a nice change to a lot of YA literature. Seeing the side of a boy and a girl and their different reactions and emotions. While Lane is newer to the boarding school and a more relaxed way of life this is all Sadie has known for a long time, the differences are what makes this novel fantastic.

I have to give Extraordinary Means 5 stars *****. I read some Goodreads reviews that I felt were quite harsh on a novel that was superbly written. I finished this book in a matter of hours, it’s always going to have a place in my heart. Beautifully written and incredible…don’t try and compare this to any other book because you won’t find one.

Review by Chloe Metzger

5 Confessions of all workaholics and how to beat them!

Workaholic is a word that sums me up whether I like it or not, be it in my job, my course, my hobbies I work damn hard and sometimes forget that I’m not supposed to be working 24/7, non stop. I notice this more when I get told to stop tidying and just sit down doing something I like rather than cleaning or organising or doing extra reading. So I decided to write another one of those lovely lists but, well, a helpful one (I hope).

1. I over organise.

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No word of a lie my calendar is always jam packed, when it isn’t I feel a little odd. I try and over schedule my entire life. So after having something on every single night of the week ( any paying for it a little bit), I realised that this is one of my workaholic traits.

How I beat it: 

Making sure that if I’m planning everything I leave myself time to relax or do what I want. Of course right now with my spine I don’t have much of a choice, but I have learnt the value of rest. If you know you’re going to be busy make sure you also have some relaxation time planned too, even an hour or two. Trust me it’ll make you happier and healthier!

2.  I put a lot of pressure on myself! 

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I am a perfectionist. In uni, in work and in a lot of other things. Now I don’t have a pushy family, they’re happy when I’m happy. It’s me who puts pressure on myself to be the best of the best, get constant firsts and good results at work. Although it’s good to aim high, sometimes it’s absolutely exhausting!

How I beat it: 

This is possibly one of the hardest things to beat. It’s taking me a long time to accept that I don’t have to be perfect all the time, that getting a 66 instead of a 70 isn’t terrible. That not working every single shift at work doesn’t make me a bad worker. This goes hand in hand with planning me time so that I can accept and be happy with who I am.

3. I drive my friends/family/boyfriend crazy with things that aren’t happening for months.

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‘But these books have to be read in the next 6 months’- really NOT an issue

How I beat it: It’s good to have a plan but now I have a laptop I focus on the month ahead, not 6 months ahead and try and take it a little bit at a time without worrying about things to come. I write a to do list for the week and focus on that instead of whats happening in 3 weeks time.

4. Not sleeping enough 

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Not having enough time to sleep is a bad move! It will effect my mood, my appetite, the way I am around other people. All in all a lack of sleep is one of the worst things for me.

How I beat it: PRIORITISE! Make sure I know what needs to be done and what can wait until the next day. Also asking for help doesn’t show weakness it shows strength. When I really can’t cope and know in advance there is usually the option for an extension at uni and my bosses are there to talk to if I’m struggling and need support.

5. Not eating properly

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This happens to a lot of people I know. Personally I get so into a project or piece of work that I keep going and going until I physically have to stop. One of my first open days for work, I kept putting off my lunch break because I was enjoying the day so much one of the older girls pulled me aside and reminded me I needed to eat, no matter how exciting this all is.

How I beat it: If you’re in an office, make lunch plans with someone else in the office. If you’re at home maybe set an alarm on your phone. I’m the worst at forgetting to eat if I’m absorbed in something but these usually work! Another thing is have regular smaller snacks, sunflower seeds are one of my favourites or a good old chocolate bar. Remember your body is your machine! Treat it well because you’re going to need it to succeed in whatever you want to do!

As always I love to hear from you guys! So fellow workaholics, what are your confessions and have you found a way to stop/get around them? Let me know!