Mind Your Head – Juno Dawson and Dr Olivia Hewitt talk about their new book, illustrated by Gemma Correll

On Thursday 21st January, I headed over to the first event at the newly opened Waterstones Tottenham Court Road (open until 11pm – try the cocktails!) to hear Juno Dawson and Dr Olivia Hewitt talk to Jo Elvin, editor at Glamour Magazine, about their new non-fiction book for teens Mind Your Head, illustrated by Gemma Correll. Continue reading “Mind Your Head – Juno Dawson and Dr Olivia Hewitt talk about their new book, illustrated by Gemma Correll”

Podcast: Using books for good, plus what we’ve been reading

It’s a topical one this week – Rob and Kate talk about whether books and reading can be a force for good in the light of recent events, and give you their thoughts on what they’ve been reading lately – Goldfinger by Ian Fleming and Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz for Rob, and Unbecoming by Jenny Downham for Kate.
Continue reading “Podcast: Using books for good, plus what we’ve been reading”

#UKYAday – loved that? Read this!

I’m a big UKYA reader, but then I’ve had a lot of practise – nearly 20 years worth of eagerly devouring fantastic books written for young people. I was lucky to be that age which coincided with the first big wave of books for teens, laying the foundation for the amazing range being published now. So, I thought I’d use those now-classics to recommend some newer UKYA writers you might like to try, if you haven’t already… Continue reading “#UKYAday – loved that? Read this!”

Review: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Two boys. Two secrets.

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. 

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan. 

When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long… Continue reading “Review: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson”

Review: This Book Is Gay by James Dawson

Whether you fancy boys or girls or both, whether you feel like a boy or a girl on the inside…you’re just you, right? With laugh-out-loud with and wisdom James Dawson smashes the myths and prejudice surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity and tells it how it really is. Us human beings are a complicated bunch and not one us should be labelled wrongly, just because we don’t fit somebody else’s idea of normal. Continue reading “Review: This Book Is Gay by James Dawson”

Review: Cruel Summer by James Dawson

Ryan is looking forward to spending the summer with his old school friends at Katie’s luxurious Spanish villa.  He hasn’t seen the gang since their friend, Janey, committed suicide a year ago.  He hopes this summer they’ll be able to put the past behind them and move on – until someone else arrives, claiming to have proof that Janey’s suicide was murder!  Ryan was hoping for sun, sea and sand.  Suddenly, he’s facing a long, hot summer of death, drama and deceit. Continue reading “Review: Cruel Summer by James Dawson”

Our new bookish adventures – 1st August

There’s lots happening behind the scenes at Adventures With Words at the moment, and there’ll be more reviews coming soon, but in the meantime, I’d like to share some of our lovely new arrivals with you.  No, not another royal baby but some fantastic reads that Rob and I have bought, received and even won!

Time Riders, The Last BanquetI try to take part in The Readers’ Book Club when I can, and I recently had a really strong recommendation from WDW Kate (@wetdarkandwild) to try the Time Riders series, so Rob kindly bought the first Time Riders book by Alex Scarrow (Penguin) and The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood (Canongate), for The Readers’ Bookclub, for me from Waterstones. Continue reading “Our new bookish adventures – 1st August”

YA Review: Hollow Pike by James Dawson

She thought she’d be safe in the country, but you can’t escape your own nightmares, and Lis London dreams repeatedly that someone is trying to kill her.

Lis thinks she’s being paranoid – after all who would want to murder her?  She doesn’t believe the local legends of witchcraft.  She doesn’t believe that anything bad will really happen to her.

You never do, do you?

Not until you’re alone, in the woods, after dark – and a twig snaps…

Hollow pike – where witchcraft never sleeps

Hollow Pike tells the story of Lis London – victimised and bullied at her old school in Wales, she’s moved hundreds of miles to live with her grown-up sister in Yorkshire, Hollow Pike to be precise.  But when she arrives, to her horror, she recognises the place she’s seen in her dreams, or rather her nightmares.
And things only go from bad to worse once she arrives at her new school, to find the cliques and outcasts even more pronounced, and a girl called Laura Rigg ruling the school.
On top of all this, Lis is sure there’s something strange going on.  Could some of the local tales of witchcraft be true?

I really enjoyed this debut novel from former teacher (and ‘Queen of Teen’ nominee) James Dawson.  It was immediately obviously that Dawson has worked with young people, and that he’s got a really good understanding of teenage relationships – much more so than some YA authors – as the dialogue and school situations were realistic, within the context of the supernatural/paranormal genre that Hollow Pike inhabits.  

I would say that I think this book is aimed at mid-to-older teens, given the age of the main characters (Year 11, 16 years old) and some of the topics covered (relationships, drinking, a bit of light swearing), but I really think the level of that content has been well-judged and shouldn’t put off any parents thinking of buying this for their daughter.  I say daughter because it’s very rare for boys to read books with a female protagonist.  I think that’s a bit of a shame, but I also think Dawson was aware of that when he chose his main character.  Many teenage boys would drop the book in horror at the mention of a tampon on page 316!

Dawson has also made good use of his own background in Yorkshire to create a really believable setting in Hollow Pike and Fulton.  Many people may know of the Pendle witch trials, which also, in part, inspired Raven’s Gate, the first in Anthony Horowitz’s The Power of Five series.  These real historical events, along with references to the Salem witch trials via The Crucible, add to the ‘is it real, is it teenage hysteria’ mystery of the book, helping the reader to empathise with Lis and her feeling of confusion and disorientation.

I was pleased to see that Hollow Pike won’t have a sequel.  It feels like a really well-rounded narrative, and I felt happy to say goodbye to the characters at the end of the book.  However, Dawson has written a second, which, according to his website is with his editor now; it is a thriller for young adults, but won’t have a supernatural element this time.  I’m interested to see what it might be able and will definitely be keeping an eye out for a publication date.  In the mean time, I’m certainly adding Hollow Pike to my list of recommended YA fiction.

Hollow Pike is published by Indigo/Orion Children’s Books
James Dawson is on Twitter – @_jamesdawson

Kate Neilan @Magic_kitten