10 Things To Do In Summer

I’m pretty sure most people in school finished this week or next week. And six weeks can be a pretty long time, and you’ll run out of things to do, and you’ll become overtly bored. So here are 20 things you can do occupy yourself.

1: Volunteer

If you have quite a bit of free time, and want to give back to your community, you should sign up to volunteer at your local library or a charity shop. It’ll get you out of the house, and you could learn some valuable workplace skills which can help you get a job later. I volunteer at my library and I really enjoy it. I get exercise walking there and back and have met a lot of wonderful people I wouldn’t have usually.

2: Take up a new hobby

Whether it’s knitting, running, or learning an instrument, getting a new hobby and learning how to do the activity will fill the inevitable void left by school finishing. It’ll just give you something to do, so you’re not just sat around doing nothing.

3: Learn a language

I think that you can never go wrong with learning a language. You can do as little or as much as you want, and it could help you in the future if you learn quite a bit. I would recommend that if you’re studying a language at GCSE or A-Level, just focus on that language, don’t learn another, because your focus should be on your school subjects.

4: Read a book

I couldn’t write this post without including my favourite activity. Reading is perfect because there is something for everyone, no matter what you’re interested in. You can learn something new, or be transported into another world, whatever you want.

5: Go to the seaside

I mean, who doesn’t love going to the beach? If the weather’s nice, grab a beach towel and just head to the shore. You could go alone, bring some friends or go with your family. It’s always nice to get out of the house and do something different.

6: Binge a new TV show

We live in an age of binging. Thousands of hours of TV available to us at the push of a button. Now school’s out, there’s tons of uninterrupted hours to spend in front of your TV. I would highly recommend Brooklyn 99, which you can watch on Netflix.

7: Get a summer job

I think that a job is perfect if you want to earn some money, which everyone loves, as well as giving you something to put on your CV for work experience. You’ll learn valuable life lessons as well as meeting new people.

8: Do some babysitting or dog walking

This is another way of gaining some extra cash, and this may be a bit more enjoyable than getting a job in a cafe or something. And you could work more, getting more money, as you are technically self-employed so you can manage your own hours.

9: Join a gym

Now school’s finished, you may not have any opportunity to do some exercise, so joining a gym will allow you to get out of the house and get some exercise, so it’s a win-win, and a membership won’t be too expensive.

10: Rest

The most important thing on this list I think. It’s been a tough year for everyone, and we all deserve a bit of a break and a lie-in. So don’t wear yourself out during the holidays, there’s plenty of that to be done during term time.

One of Us is Lying: Spoiler Free Review

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus.

Plot: Five completely different people enter detention, but only four come out alive. The police determine that it wasn’t an accident, and Bronwym, Addy, Cooper and Nate are all suspects, especially when it’s revealed that the dead boy was about to expose all of their deepest, darkest secrets.

My comments: I, genuinely, absolutely loved this book. I read almost all of it in one day. It was captivating at every turn, with every chapter ending on a cliffhanger or a reveal, just something to urge you to carry on reading. It is truly masterful writing.

You follow the four perspectives of the suspects, which allows you to really understand the struggles in their lives, and how they could’ve played their part in the murder. This format really made me connect with the characters, and when something was revealed about them, I genuinely felt for them, and it really upset me. I fell in love with all of them, and watching them develop and become better versions of themselves made me so happy.

I genuinely couldn’t but this book down, there was never a good point to leave it, I just needed more all the time. And the big reveal at the end was so well done and written and wow. Words really can’t describe how much I love this book.

I think everyone should read this book, it’s got everything you want for a teen murder mystery, really.

Rating: 5 stars.

The Reading Rush 2019 TBR

First, let’s give some background:

The Reading Rush is a week long event, running from the 22nd to the 28th of July, where you try to read as much as you can. You’re given 7 prompts for books to read, but you don’t have to read 7 books during the week, you just get extra praise if you do. If you want more information you can check out the website.

I have got a list of 7 books to try and read throughout the week, and I’m on holiday all week, so I’ll have plenty of time to read, so I have high hopes for myself.

The first prompt is a book with purple on the cover and for that I’ve chosen “Batman: The Killing Joke”, a DC comic written by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland. In this comic, The Joker is released from Arkham Asylum with the intention of proving the only difference between the sane and the psychotic is madness and mayhem. He intends to use Commissioner Jim Gordon and his daughter, Barbara, to get his message across, and Batman is tasked with stopping him and saving two of his closest friends. My dad recommended this to me and gave me his copy, so I think it’ll be really good, as his recommendations are almost always reliable.

The second prompt is read a book in the same spot and I wanted a pretty short book for this one, so I could read it in one sitting, so I chose Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr Spencer Johnson. This is a self-help book which is accessible to all, and is almost about coping with change and looking at change in a positive way. Once again, my dad recommended this book to me and I think it will help me a lot, as my life is changing a lot in the coming months.

Prompt number three is a book that you were meant to read last year and for this I chose another comic, Spider-Man: Carnage by David Michelinie. This is the first comic that Carnage was ever in, and it’s kind of like a sequel to Venom. An evil alien symbiote merges with sadistic serial killer Cletus Kasady, and together they kill whomever they wish, bringing chaos everywhere they go. Spider-Man has to turn to his deadliest foe – Venom, the creator of Carnage – for help, as he can’t defeat him on his own. I love Carnage so much, by far my favourite character in the Marvel Universe, so obviously, the becoming of Carnage is a must-read for me! This was also a recommendation by my dad, and I am definitely looking forward to finally reading it.

The forth prompt is to read an author’s debut novel and I’ve chosen James and the Peach by Roald Dahl, because who doesn’t love Roald Dahl. This isn’t Dahl’s first novel, that is The Gremlins, and it’s near impossible to get for a reasonable price, so I went for his second children’s book. This is about an orphaned boy named James (obviously) who lives with his evils Aunts, and absolutely hates it. But when he discovers a humongous peach, he sees an opportunity to leave his bleak existence behind and set sail to New York with a group of insects. The main reason I wanted to read this book is because I haven’t read it in so long, and I’ve been in a really nostalgic mood lately, so it just seemed right. After re-reading Matilda and remembering why I fell in love with it, I’m looking forward to where James and his bug friends take me.

Prompt number 5 is to read a book with a non-human protagonist and for that I’ve chosen Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. This is about an angel and a demon who were sent to Earth thousands of years ago to do their part to aid Judgement Day. Their unlikely friendship develops through the thousands of years of knowing each other, and they go on adventures together on what I think is the last day on Earth. I picked this book up because I saw the adverts for the Amazon Prime TV show and thought it looked amazing, and it was right in front of me at the book shop, so I got it. If the book is anything like the TV show seems to be, I think I will enjoy it immensely.

The sixth prompt is a book with five or more words in the title and I decided on Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. This is about two boys – Aristotle and Dante – who are polar opposites, but they form an unlikely friendship and discover things about themselves and each other, helping to define who they are. This seems like a beautiful coming-of-age story and there are so many good reviews online about this book, and I think it’ll be a really nice story. I won’t lie though, the only reason I chose this book was because it’s the only book I own that is longer than five words.

The seventh, and final, prompt is to read a book that was made into a movie, and to watch the movie after reading it. I chose Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by JK Rowling, but I don’t think I’ll be able to watch the film, because I’m on holiday all week, and land back in the UK at 1am on the final day of the readathon. This story is a Harry Potter spin-off about a magic zoologist called Newt Scamander, who loses his briefcase in New York and the magic animals kept inside it are released into the city. Him and his friends have to traverse the city rescuing the animals, before they become a threat to the muggles (humans). I have already watched the film, and I really enjoyed it, so I’m looking forward to reading it also. I have 2 different copies of the book: I have the actual book, and the screenplay, and I’m not really sure which I want to read yet.

Overall, I am so excited to be taking part in my first ever readathon, and I think I will have so much fun with it throughout the week, even if I don’t read all of the books I’m planning on.

City of Bones: Review

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. Book one in The Mortal Instruments Series.

Plot: Clary and her best friend, Simon, go to a nightclub. While there, she sees two shady looking guys, but Simon doesn’t see them. They are demon hunters, and being able to be seen by Clary, a “mundane” or human, introduces her to a whole new world she didn’t know, full of vampires, werewolves, demons and Shadowhunters.

My Comments: This book is one of my favourite books of all time (even though the cover is so cringe), and I think Cassandra Clare is my new favourite author. Everything about this book was perfect for me: the romance wasn’t too cliche and soppy, there was a lot of action and tension, but also a lot of moments which really calmed it down and relaxed you. It is perfectly written, creating such a wonderful atmosphere in this hyper-realistic world which is so intriguing. I basically didn’t put this book down, I physically couldn’t.

I have truly fallen in love with everything in this series: the characters, the writing. I cannot get enough. I knew it was a good book going into it, as it is a cult favourite in the online book community. but it still completely blew me away. I’ve never read a fantasy book before, and I’m so glad that this is where I started. I’ve been introduced to a whole new genre, unlike anything else I’ve read, and I don’t think it could’ve been with a better book.

If you haven’t read a fantasy book, like me, and you’re looking for a place to start, I can’t recommend this book highly enough for you.

Rating: 5 stars.

Prom

It was my Leaver’s Prom on Friday, and in the months leading up to it I was not looking forward to it, and I didn’t really want to go. But on the day, when I got my hair and makeup done, I was really excited.

I think we all have mixed feelings about Prom, and all for different reasons. I think that it’s a good way to say goodbye to the people who you’ve known for the last 5 years, and it’s really the only time that everyone in a year group has a similar focus, so it just brings everyone together with the same cause. However, I think that the amount of money that some people spend on their outfits for this one night is astronomically high, and I know that it makes the people who don’t spend as much feel bad about themselves, and self-conscious, because I know that I felt this way. But on the night, I felt so gorgeous, even though I didn’t spend hundreds of pounds on my dress.

That’s the most important thing that Prom can do to teenagers. People who normally don’t feel pretty or have quite low self-esteem, can feel gorgeous, and love themselves, even if it’s just for one night.

Animal Farm & A Study In Charlotte: Reviews

Something a little different, but not really. Because I read both books so close to each other, and I didn’t want to do a post overload, and Animal Farm is so short (there’s not much to say about it), I decided to combine the two reviews into one.

A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro.

Plot: Charlotte Holmes – descendant of Sherlock – and James Watson – descendant of John – meet at a boarding school in America. A student who they’ve both had run-ins with has been found murdered, and the scene is copied out of a Sherlock Holmes Story, and Holmes and Watson are being framed for the crime. The book follows them around, trying to find the real murderer and clearing their names.

My Comments: I’m not really sure how I felt about this novel. I think I enjoyed it, but I had to constantly force myself to pick it up and read it. It wasn’t very intriguing but it was nice to read. Complicated, I know.

I thought that the characterisation was really good. Charlotte is so clearly a Holmes, and James is definitely a modern day John Watson, which is probably my favourite part of the book.

I’m not sure why I can’t really find the words to describe my feelings towards this book, but I did like it. I know that my review doesn’t really help, but if you love mystery and teen fiction, I think you will like it, because I didn’t really dislike it.

Rating: 3 stars

Animal Farm by George Orwell.

Plot: The animals on Manor Farm are sick of being underappreciated and underfed, so decided to revolt and overthrow the farm owner, Mr Jones.

My Comments: I really liked this book. Not from a creative point of view, but from a social and political one. It’s a commentary of communism, and I find politics quite interesting, when it’s not Brexit, so I enjoyed it immensely.

I think it’s the perfect length. It’s long enough to make the impact and statement intended, and if it was any longer it would be unnecessary and would get increasingly boring.

Rating: 5 stars.

How To Use College Transition Day Effectively

Over the next couple of weeks, most colleges will be holding transition days, where you go to the school for the day, and participate in lessons of your choosing. You will meet subject teachers, meet people who may be in your classes from September, and get a general feel of what it is like to go to that college / sixth form. In this post, I will give you a few ways that you can use these days to make your final decision about which school to go to, decide what A-Levels you want to take, and which note taking method may be best for you during lessons.

How to make your college decision:

These days are your first real experience of college life. I think they are so vital because each school offers completely different things, and some will be better for you than others. Use transition day wisely; pay full attention to your teacher, and the structure of the lesson, because even though you may not have that specific teacher, the likelihood is the lesson structure will be similar, if not identical throughout the faculty. For example, College X may have a more time specific structure – you have 5 minutes to complete this task – where as College Y may have more of a “take as much time as you need” structure. I know that I prefer to have a specific amount of time to complete a task, so I’m leaning more towards College X, because I prefer the structure, and I feel I will learn more effectively in that manner.

Not only are lessons structured differently, but the school day as a whole may be as well. You will most likely be at the school from 9am to 3pm, and will be escorted throughout the campus to your various lessons, so you will also get a feel of the grounds, and how busy it will be, as thousands of you move all move at once. You may feel more at ease in one school than another, and that will factor into which you choose in the end. Try to make note of even the littlest of things, because they may end up being the deciding factor.

Deciding what subjects to take:

You will try out three subjects on transition day, and they will be the subjects you put on your application. If you’ve changed your mind then on the day, go to a help desk if they have one and see if it is possible for you to participate in a different lesson. Even if you can’t, don’t panic, you will be able to change your subjects on enrolment day.

You will essentially be taught your first lesson of each subject on the day, and it will allow you to get a sense of the curriculum and lesson style, so you can really see if you think you will enjoy a certain course. I think it’s best that you do some of your own research on the subject before choosing it though, and not just go off one lesson you had. Take a look at the syllabus and also at YouTube, as people will have videos about their experience and opinion on the subject. For example, I didn’t know a lot about economics so I looked up the kind of things you learn during the course and stuff like that, and I think that it will be something I enjoy, as I enjoy finance and applications in the real world, which is basically what economics is.

At one of the transition days I’m attending, I couldn’t change one of my choices from sociology to chemistry, so if I can’t change on the day, I will take the sociology and I may love it, and decide to take it over chemistry in the end.

Overall, just go in with an open mindset, and actively take part in the lesson, so you can get the most out of it. Think that each lesson you have in the certain subject is going to be similar to this one, just with different content, but I definitely recommend doing some of your own research into any course you’re thinking about choosing.

How to find a good note-taking method:

So, you’re in three 60-90 minute lessons, which gives you 3 opportunities to experiment with note taking methods. For each lesson, use a different method, and at the end of they day, look over the notes you have made, and see which one you prefer.

Obviously, this isn’t a definitive method, as you need to use a note taking style consistently to really know if it works or not, but it will give you an initial idea of what to try at first, rather than going in on your first day completely blind.

Good luck to everyone on your transition days and results day, I hope you all get the grades you want and get into your first choice college!