Hollow Pike by Juno Dawson

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Author: Juno Dawson

Publisher: Orion Books

Feeling: Secretive

★★★★★

Rarely does an author’s debut novel accomplish everything it sets out to do. Hollow Pike sets up a premise, introduces us to its characters and takes us on a journey that ticks every box the reader is looking for it to fulfill. The novel itself first came out in 2012 and is not my first foray into Juno Dawsons’s writing. I had previously read Say Her Name when it was released in 2014, a novel which also falls into the Young Adult Thriller/Horror genre, and shortly before picking up Hollow Pike I had finished listening to the audiobook of Dawson’s first adult nonfiction work The Gender Games. In fact, it was listening to The Gender Games that had me itching to finally pick Hollow Pike up from my shelf having acquired it shortly after finishing Say Her Name. This is not a review of The Gender Games but I think it is safe to say that the book had to be pretty good to have me jumping straight into another work by that same author.

Hollow Pike, as I have mentioned, is a Young Adult book that could be described as a thriller or even horror novel. Due perhaps to the flexibility of Young Adult writing, where Dawson herself feels authors are freed from the confines of a single genre, Hollow Pike offers a little more than goosebumps. The book follows Lis who has recently moved from her high school in Wales to one in Hollow Pike, Yorkshire, after a bad bought of bullying at her last school. Bullying, moving, new environments, making friends and first romances are all prevalent themes throughout the novel; all accompanied by a good, creepy mystery.

I feel as though I have seen this comparison made elsewhere but if you have seen the 90s cult classic film The Craft I think that is the immediate comparison anyone will make when reading this novel, I certainly did. Thankfully Hollow Pike followed its own story but I do think if you enjoyed the former you will enjoy the latter (and vice versa). If you know The Craft though, then you will know it is all about witchcraft, and witchcraft lingers too over Hollow Pike.

It resembles The Craft in another way. Similarly to the way I felt when reading Say Her Name, Hollow Pike to a certain extent reminded me of a self-aware teen horror film such as Scream. Even more like the genre of TV show in this vein that seems to have garnered more popularity over the past couple of years; shows like Scream Queens and the serialized version of Scream. Although I would say this book is less gore and more mystery, which is a good thing in my books. There does, however, seem to be a film-like quality to Dawson’s novels.

The mystery itself was a fun rollercoaster of switching between suspects, certain you must be right this time. The characters were endearing and the cheese factor was just right. The book set itself up to be something and delivered exactly that to the reader; I was not disappointed. So all in all this was the perfect Young Adult thriller read for me and exactly what I needed when I read it.

Want to pick up a copy using my affiliate link? Click here.

 

Time Management Made Simple

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No matter the life you lead it probably requires some sort of time management. Sometimes it feels as though the world around us thinks we all have time-turners stashed in our back pockets when loading our plates with daily tasks. Whether it is simply balancing your workload for school or university or juggling multiple work loads from your actual paying work to your creative pursuits, I hope I can help you with your time management with a few simple tips that have always worked for me.

Falsify Your Deadlines? (Creating Personal Deadlines)

This is my number one tip for time management and that is simply because it has always helped me. I don’t know about you but time makes me anxious (inconvenient given how it’s always there). Because of this, I like to take a little control when it comes to my deadlines. If I have a big project due on a certain date, assuming I’ve been given more than a week’s notice, then I will always put the deadline in a few days earlier in my diary than it is really due. At university this was usually a week ahead of an essay deadline but there is obviously room to tweet this tip to the piece of work you are dealing with. I would then, without hesitation, work to my new, self-imposed deadline. This significantly decreased my personal anxiety at having a deadline. Despite my treating the new deadline as seriously as if this was really the day an essay was due in, almost always completing my work for that day, simply knowing that if I missed that deadline I wouldn’t affect my overall grade put me at ease. It is also effective if you have multiple projects like essays due in on the same day or very close together. Set new, evenly spaced deadlines for each project, one of which may be the original deadline. It helps to take the pressure of that one date and to focus your mind on each item individually.

Start Early

Or, in other words, as soon as is humanly possible aka when you know what you have to do. If you have an essay deadline presented to you, and it’s possible, get started as soon as you leave the classroom. Starting early is good for multiple reasons. For one, you leave time for emergencies or changes of heart in the direction you want to take your work. It also means you can do smaller amounts of work over a longer period of time. This leaves space in the day for self-care and other projects you may also have to complete. The one complaint I hear most often when it comes to the ‘start early’ advice is an apparent lack of motivation; according to some people they require the fear of an impending deadline to accomplish anything. And do you know what, that’s fine, if it genuinely works for you. But I would ask you to consider whether it genuinely does. Does leaving things to the last minute destroy your mental health? Is what you hand in the best it could possibly be? Are you getting dissatisfying results? Then maybe it’s not working for you. Don’t sit around waiting for motivation or inspiration to strike. Find it. Power through or at least sit-down and try. A little bit of writing, or whatever output your creating, is better than nothing. And nothing is what you’ll have if you don’t at least attempt to start the project.

Manage Your Tasks 

I’ve touched on this briefly already but it is important to consider individually. You might have multiple work projects on the go, or essays for uni, or you might have a project you are working on for work and another for university that are completely unrelated. You need to consider each project individually and then come up with a plan as to how you will finish each item on time whilst not forgetting about what else you have to do. Sit down with each of your deadlines in front of you and start allotting time to each of your tasks. How much time does each project require? Not everything needs as much of your time so turn your time into units such as days or hours and section off allotments to each item; prioritise according to due date and importance. If you have a plan you are less likely to spend an excessive amount of time perfecting one project only to realise that you have left yourself an impossibly short amount of time to do another two pieces of work before they are due. With time allotted you can also focus on each task with the enthusiasm it deserves by not allowing yourself to get distracted and waste time dwelling on your other pieces of work.

Take Time Off (Yes, really!)

Or, in other words, take care of yourself. What I mean by this is that you shouldn’t fool yourself into thinking you can do more in a given space of time than is possible. Be realistic with your deadlines and equally importantly, wherever possible schedule time off. Your brain will function better, your work will come out better and you will feel far more satisfied if you take time off. Not to mention, time away from a project can often give you a fresh perspective when you return, and a new lease of life. The ability to do this is also made all the more possible when you follow my previous pieces of advice.

I think you can tell from this post that each of these pieces of advice works best for me in conjunction with the others. Learning to manage your time is a process and can take practice but with all of this in mind it is, I honestly believe, the simplest advice that serves us the best.

Hopefully this post was helpful for some of you. If you would like to hear me talk in more detail about how I manage my time when studying then I have a whole video dedicated to the topic, which you can watch below; like any practical advice, a lot of what I say applies to more than just school and university.

In the meantime, the best of luck, and do let me know if you have any more helpful tips for managing your time in the comments.

Must Visit Green Spaces in Edinburgh

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All pictures are my own and were originally posted on my Instagram account.

Edinburgh has always struck me as unique in its ability to be a bustling capital city where you can easily turn a corner to wonder if you have accidentally stumbled into the countryside. In this post I want to share with you four of my personal favourite green spaces in Edinburgh, from extinct volcanos to magical fairy gardens and much, much more.

Arthur’s Seat & Holyrood Park

There is nowhere I love in Edinburgh more than Arthur’s Seat and the surrounding parks. It is the one place in Edinburgh that I miss now that I live in London, as I truly cannot find anything comparable in the hustle and bustle of the UK’s capital. Arthur’s Seat itself is an extinct volcano and it is surrounded by expanses of greenery, multiple lochs and is attached to Holyrood Park where, surprise, surprise, Holyrood Palace is situated. Once you find yourself roaming the hills around Arthur’s Seat you forget you are in a city. It’s a beautiful place to escape to, never too busy especially if you explore the areas off the beaten track. I’ve spent a lot of my life in this park: playing imaginary games with friends, walking our dogs, rolling eggs on Easter and just taking time to myself to walk and unwind as an adult.

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Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

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Title: Stay With Me

Author: Ayobami Adebayo

Publisher: Canongate Books

Feeling: Astonishing

★★★★★

This book was first put on my radar when it was longlisted for The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction this year (2017). And let me tell you, I will be forever grateful it did. For me, the experience of reading this book demonstrates what is so magical about the Women’s Prize for Fiction, as without it I may never have picked Stay With Me up. Which would, I assure you, have been a great loss for me.

The book itself takes place in 1980s Nigeria and predominantly follows Yejidi, whose husband Akin, in the very first few pages of the book, takes a second wife without informing Yejidi that he is about to do so. Although he is not alone in their circle of family and friends to marry multiple women he did so against the express wishes of his first wife. The reason that Yejidi’s life is suddenly turned upside down is due to her inability thus far in their marriage to conceive a child and the pressure that has incurred from Akin’s family to find a wife who can. From that point on nothing unfolds as you might predict.

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International Women’s Day 2017

Around the world, the 8th of March is International Women’s Day. Originally founded in 1909 by the Socialist Party of America, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the women who have fought for change and is an opportunity to discuss current issues faced by different people across the world and what can be done to initiate change, inspired by those who have gone before us.

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight just a few individuals, groups, projects and reading materials that you can watch, read, follow and get involved in.

You can also watch my International Women’s Day Reading List video here.

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10 Books Reading Challenge

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That’s right everyone, I have met my Goodreads reading goal for 2017! We are two months into the year and I’ve already hit that coveted goal, so why bother reading any more for the next ten months? Bring on the TV binge watching.

I know that last year when I changed my Goodreads reading goal to 10 books I had a few questions about why I’d set my challenge to such a ‘low’ target. Since this is a number I have decided to stick with I thought I might address the issue of ‘why’ in a wee blog post.

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The Arrival of Missives by Aliya Whiteley

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Title: The Arrival of Missives

Author: Aliya Whiteley

Publisher: Unsung Stories

Feeling: Expectant

★★★★

Prior to reading this novella I had read Aliya Whiteley’s other short novel The Beauty and a selection of her short stories; all of which deeply unsettled and disturbed me (The Beauty genuinely gave me nightmares). This is not a criticism, however, Whiteley’s writing is beautifully addictive and I was ready to read anything she wrote. I, therefore, instantly requested a copy of The Arrival of the Missives upon its release. For one reason or another, it took me a few months before I actually got a chance to read it but as soon as I arrived back at my parents home in Edinburgh for Christmas, where my books currently reside, I picked it up off the shelf. A decision I do not regret! I sped through this book, I quite literally could not put it down and it has made me all the more excited to see what Whiteley comes out with next.

The premise of the story begins with our protagonist Shirley, a 17-year-old girl about to complete her schooling and living on a farm in rural, post World War 1 Britain. We are made aware from the offset of the novel that she has feelings for her 24-year-old school teacher Mr. Tiller who returned from the war permanently injured. It is her intention, however, to make her feelings known to him now that her schooling is coming to an end in order for them to be together. From that point on absolutely nothing goes as you would expect it to.

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