YALC goodness

Hello friends!

Here we are, 2 weeks after YALC, and my gosh. I still don’t think I’m quite over the introvert hangover. I can’t be the only person who really needs to like be ALONE after weekends like this, can I?

For all, yes, YALC is exhausting, it’s also wonderful.
It’s bookish goodness for 3 days.
It’s friends who you don’t get to see very often.
It’s putting names to faces that you’ve only seen in their tiny little twitter face.
It’s standing in lines to meet your favourite authors.
It’s finding people who love the same books as you.
It’s telling authors that you loved their book so much it made them cry.
It’s speaking to publicists who have been so lovely and generous.
It’s learning about new books and finding new authors.
It’s seeing those people who you always get to see at these kinds of events.
It’s fangirling over that one person who you follow online, who you try and be all cool about and just end up being all shy and coy (lol, if you know me, YOU KNOW THIS). 

So anyway… I thought I’d wrap up MY YALC experience because as we know everyone has their own experience and everyone experiences it differently.

I had a quieter YALC this year than I’ve had in the past – there weren’t as many panels I wanted to sit and listen to and there weren’t as many books I needed to be signed as I’ve had in the past (which is good because it meant less queuing and less carrying of heavy books!). There were things I was DYING to see and people I was dying to meet, but I was glad of a quieter YALC.

Panels

I got the chance to sit in on some wonderful panels this year, from interesting insights into the world of toxic masculinity, fantasy, new voices (always one of my favourite panels) to social media in YA, it was all covered this year. It’s always lovely to see some faves again (shout outs to Queen Mel, Sara Barnard, Laura Steven, Bethany Rutter and Dhonielle Clayton, who is a hilarious chair) and meet some new faces, whose books I’ve either read or am planning on reading. It was great to finally meet Bex Hogan (Viper – a wonderful book, you should all read it NOW), Sarah Maria Griffin (who is hilarious), Yasmin Rahman (whose book I immediately ran and bought, and then consumed in a matter of hours on my train home) and Samuel Pollen (The Year I Didn’t Eat, which destroyed me).

I love the broad range of panels that you can go and sit in on at YALC – there’s always something for everyone!

Bookish fun

One of the best things about YALC is of course the bookish fun that can happen. I didn’t take as many pictures of the stalls and things this year (I guess I was having too much fun to!) but I always love how each of the publishers themes their stalls. The Penguin stall has amazing books which could be turned around so you could see the blurb on the back; Usborne had a WONDERFULLY bright stall and Scholastic’s stall was all seaside themed. The Walker YA stall had a hilarious “How you’re going to die” Scythe themed wheel, and when I spun it, apparently I’m going to die falling down a manhole while reading a book – it seems likely to be honest.

While I was at YALC, I managed to pick up samplers for 3 of the books I’m most excited for (you can find out all about those in a week or so when I do my #SamplerSunday blog post!): Melinda Salisbury’s Hold Back The Tide, David Owen’s Grief Angels and Laura Steven’s The Love Hypothestis. I am not going to lie… I had tunnel vision to get these. The publishers ran out of the samplers in the first two days, so I was CHUFFED when I managed to get my hands on them. (LBR for a sec, the first thing I did when I got into YLC was run to the Scholastic stand and get a Hold Back The Tide: I know where my priorities lie!)

I love that since I’m around bookish people I get to spend a lot of time reading. On the train down, I read The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg (Disney World meets dark, dystopian robot land) while my friend Charlotte read Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff. I also got quite a lot of reading done in the YALC house too. I was very lucky to be sharing an AirBnB with 4 of my favourite bookish humans, so it meant for plenty of reading time. I got all of The Kingdom read and then got through Evernight by Ross Mackenzie too (this was BLOODY BRILLIANT, again more on that next week). On the train back to the homeland, I read All The Things We Never Said by Yashmin Rahman (which I had picked up having heard Yasmin talk about it and I needed it) as Charlotte read Slay by Kim Curran (a book I adore… it’s such fun!)

Something else which I love about YALC and the stalls is that they’re almost always interactive. There was one this year about which superpower you’d have, who you’d like to be stranded on a jellyfish with and random others. My favourite one was from My Kinda Book to link in with the release of No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter (we all know I love this book, if you haven’t preordered it yet, please do, Bethany is a doll and this book is SO SO SO SO SO GOOD). The gorgeous pink hearts you can see are messages of encouragement people were leaving for strangers. Standing reading some of them gave me a proper lump in my throat: people can be so compassionate and kind. Some of them were hilarious too!

YALC always hosts a ton of workshops too and these can range from crafty, to chats, to writing workshops with authors and they’re always really well attended. I don’t go to many, in fact this year was only the second time I’d ever attended a workshop (I think!). Akemi Dawn Bowman (author of Starfish and Summer Bird Blue) had a workshop this year about self care and we had the chance to create an anxiety bracelet, so Charlotte and I tottled off to make bracelets. It was so lovely to just sit and be calm and creative in what had been a busy day of bookish goodness. We both created rainbow bracelets and I am still wearing mine now!

For anyone who follows YALC on twitter, you know that there is always a special guest appearance of a celeb or two who are just passing through. My firt year it was Benedict Cumberbatch; last year it was Jason Momoa, and again, this year, Momoa appeared. It’s always funny seeing these super famous celebs just sauntering on the YALC floor. I think I might’ve even spotted a few other celebs who were checking out the YALC floor at a fee points over the weekend. (And yes, Momoa is as gorgeous in real life as he appears).

#TakeawayYA

#TakeawayYA is not a staple of YALC: it is a tradition of me and my friends! #TakeawayYA was a hashtag started by my friends Cora, Kelly and I at our first YALC house 3 years ago and it’s something that has just STUCK. People always comment about how hilarious it is. It’s basically just me and my friends sharing the takeaway that we’re having. I love that we’ve created this daft tradition that is sticking around and I hope itstick around for years! (If you search the hashtag on twitter, you should get a few years worth of takeaways ha!)

And I think that’s it for my YALC experience. There is a whole lot more to say. I have a whole list of thank yous to say, but I have one of my ‘Letters to…’ coming up to say thank you to some people, so keep tuned for that in the coming weeks!

If you have any questions about YALC, or about what I got up to at YALC, please holler at me, I know everyone’s experience is different and I’d be more than happy to talk about my experience. I can’t talk for everyone! 

If you’re interested in my experiences from past YALC conventions, check out my posts YALC highlights (2018) , YALC #1 (2017)  and YALC #2 (2017).

Speak to you all soon,

S x

 

NYA Lit Fest

On Saturday, I had the utter joy of going to Preston for the second year of the NYA Literature Festival. (We’ll forgive the fact I had to be up at 5am and that there was some SERIOUS train anxiety going around coming home… I did get home at the time I was expecting, do not fear!) 

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I did a blog post a few weeks ago about all of the panels, and it was even better than I thought it could possibly be! It was a jam packed day of my favourite authors, some brilliant blogger friends and just a lush environment of book love!

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When we got to Preston, we got to the venue (a change from the venue last year and a massively better venue!) and were promptly given a stamp and told to go and have a root around. We went straight to the first panel, which saw Will Hill and M.A Bennett talking all things thriller books! That was a great panel to hear Will and M.A talk about their books and what they think makes a good thriller book. Exciting news when they both filled us in on the fact that there will be 5 S.T.A.G.S books and Will told us the synopis for his new bookdrug cartel, Mexican city and a missing family member. I’m looking forward to this massively!

If you haven’t read After The Fire, then PLEASE DO. It is incredible. I have prompty added STAGS to my TBR list!

Next up was one of the panels that I was most excited for: Feminism in Fantasy featuring some of my absolute favourites. Melinda Salisbruy (duh!) was chairing the panel featuring (the absolutely gorgeous) Laure Eve, (always brilliant) Samantha Shannon and debut author Rose Edwards. What ensued was an incredible talk all about feminism in fantasy, the different ways it is shaped and some great moments. A particular highlight was when someone asked the old “strong female character” question – many laughs were had around the room (for those who aren’t sure about this, check out Samantha Shannon’s twitter… she has THOUGHTS about this trope!) Promptly after this panel, I had to go and say hi to Mel (as usual, she had one of the longest signing queues!) 

I would whole heartedly reading anything by Mel, The Graces and The Curses by Laure Eve and, if you’re looking for something pretty epic, The Priory of the Orange Tree will keep you busy for a while! I’ve added The Harm Tree by Rose to my TBR too!

After the signing, it was time for a little spot of lunch. A massive change from the last time I was at NYA Lit Fest was that the university cafeteria was open, so we were able to have some food! I had the curry and it was delicious. Once I’d finished my lunch, I managed to sneak into the Inclusivity panel with the brilliant Aimee Felone – of Knights Of fame – talking to a fantastic mix of authors about all things diversity and inclusivity. It was fascinating listening to Non Pratt, Mel Darbon, Bali Rai and A.J.Hartley talking about their books and the issues their books deal with.

I would definitely recommend picking up Non’s books – they’re just so brilliant. After this panel, I’ve added a few books on my “to borrow” list from the library!

The second last panel of the day was brilliantly name Shame-less in YA. The gorgeous (and very pregnant) Katherine Webber was chatting with Laura Steven, Tamsin Winter and Melvin Burgess about all things shame. Shame is such a complex emotion, so it’s brilliant that it’s discussed in books in different and interesting stories in YA. I really enjoyed listening to the different interpretations of shame in their books. It was so insightful listening to the different authors talk about how their characters deal with shame and what it means to be “shamed”. One of my favourite takeaways from this panel was that (as Katherine Webber rightly said) we need two different words: one for shame the innocent feel and one for the shame that the guilty SHOULD feel. 

Again, I would COMPLETELY recommend both of Katie’s YA books (Wing Jones and Only Love Can Bread Your Heart) and you DEFINITELY need to get on The Exact Opposite of Okay and A Girl Called Shameless by Laura Steven. 

The final panel of the day came about and I was not ready for how emotional it would make me feel. Lisa Williamson was chatting with Sara Barnard, Alice Broadway, Akemi Dawn Bowman and Alexandra Sheppard about mental health in YA. I loved that there was representation for fantasy books, contemporary books and funny books on this one panel – so often we think of only contemporary books talking about mental health. This panel was just exceptional: talking about authors mental health, the importance of normalising the talk about mental health and the representation for everyone in books. I definitely did a little cry during this panel.

I’d recommend ALL OF THE BOOKS from these authors. I could be here a while listing them… so go and treat yourself. There’s something from all of these authors for everything! 

After this panel, there was one last signing and then we trotted off to the train station to catch out (very delayed) train home!

A massive massive congraulations to the organisers for this event. It was run so brilliantly and I was SO SO HAPPY to see so many of my favourite authors and some of my favourite bookish people in the same building! I can’t wait to see what the next NYA Lit Fest will look like! Bring it on!

Did you attend NYA Lit Fest?
What’s your dream panel to listen to?
If you could organise a bookish event, what would it be?

Talk to me! (Well done for getting though all 1000 words of this! You deserve a star!)

S x

NYALitFest

This past weekend, I attended a bookish event in the North. Listen again, A BOOKISH EVENT IN THE NORTH. (I know, I know, they’re becoming more frequent BUT IT’S SO NICE TO BE SOMEWHAT NORTH AND CELEBRATING THE BOOKS).

I was attending Northern YA Literature Festival, which was held at the University of Central Lancashire. It promised to be an interesting day, filled with incredible talks and even more amazing authors. Big shout out to my friends Charlotte and Cora for putting up with ALL DAY. Loved spending the day with #NorthernBookBloggers too!

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First up was a great chat about getting into published. Anna Day, Teri Terry and Danny Weston chatted all about their routes into publishing, writing and gave out some pretty stellar advice! 

“You don’t need to study creative writing to be a writer!” – Teri Terry
“Read your work aloud” – Danny Weston
“Get someone else to read it and give you feedback” – Teri Terry
“I get my dad to proof read your work” – Anna Day (this caused quite a giggle… with the rest of the panel asking how much he would charge!)

Next up was Feminism in YAa talk I had been REALLY looking forward to hearing! There was a surprise little 5 minutes from Laura Steven (author of the incredible The Exact Opposite of Okay), who retold the famous Monopoly board story (if you’ve not heard it, hit me up!) and talked about feminism in her book (it’s brilliant, please read it!). She introduced Katherine Webber, Matt Killeen, Annabel Pitcher and Lauren James. It was a brilliant panel talking about what it means to be a feminist and why we need to keep talking about the issue.

“You can’t be a bad feminist” – Katherine Webber
“Being a feminist means giving people the freedom to do whatever it is they want to do” – Annabel Pitcher
“Feminism in The Loneliest Girl came from feeling like an imposter during my science degree” – Lauren James
“If you want something, it’s OK to ask for it” – Katherine Webber
“You don’t have to write every day to be a writer” – Lauren James

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Next up came Alwyn Hamilton, who was originally going to just talk to us about the Rebel of the Sands trilogy, which I love BTW, but she managed to convince Samantha Shannon to come on stage and ask her a few questions! I could’ve listened to Alwyn talk about Rebel for hours. It’s a series I love…A LOT. 

“Not knowing the ending to your book is like reading a map without knowing your destination” – Samantha Shannon
“When wrtiting, don’t think about it being original, think about it as being creative” – Alwyn Hamilton
“Use your background, knowledge and passion to help you with your ideas” – Alwyn Hamilton

The final event of the day was Samantha Shannon chairing a talk with Holly Black, who I must say has the most incredible hair ever. Her passion for fairy tales and faerie spurred me on and I definitely will check out The Cruel Prince now. The highlight of this chat was most definitely Holly talking to us about her favourite fairy tale: the White Cat. The entire audience was gripped! A funny, interesting and charming chat. I really enjoyed it! 

“Never astral project” – excellent advice from Holly Black’s mam
“Getting the right name for your characters can give them a completeness and just feel right” – Holly Black

Take a peek at some of my other personal highlights of the day: drinking a Desperados in the train station, watching Melinda Salisbury’s unboxing of FairyLoot, chips in the train station, Taken Moons candles, chocolate and having reserved, front row seats like VIPs!

Thanks for dropping by! NYALit Fest was SO SO GOOD. I can’t wait for next year!

S x

 

Events!

Last week, during half term, the gorgeous people of Waterstones Newcastle brought to us 2 of my favourite authors: Holly Bourne and Tom Fletcher. 

Now it’s not very often we get authors in the North so often, so I was VERY happy when I found out they’d both be here! 

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Holly Bourne was here promoting her newest YA book – It Only Happens in the Movies. During the event there was a brilliant talk hosted by the gorgeous Katie Thistleton who asked many brilliant questions. Holly said some brilliant things about how YA books have a responsibility to be honest and how she feels like she needs to speak the truth in her books. She also mentioned how her writing process is heavily influenced through her work for charities which deal with giving people relationship advice. I think it’s brilliant that Holly is using her platform to inform teens, without being preachy.

After the talk there were games! I love a game. There was a quick quiz and then a few rounds of ‘Kiss, Marry, Kill’ – which is always a fun game to play!! (If you’ve any Kiss, Marry, Kill options for me, I would love to host a blog post using them all, tweet me or leave a comment with suggestions!) There was a Q&A with the audience too, where I tried to get some ‘Floored’ hints from Holly, but she remained tight lipped. The event was rounded off with a signing too!

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A massive shout out to the organisers for the goodie bags too! Another thing I loved about the event was that the price of the ticket for the event was redeemable against the book. This is SUCH a great idea, I’d love to see more events following this principal in future! The event was brilliant and it was so good to see such a good turn out for the event too! A few of the other #NorthernBookBloggers had managed to make the event too which was excellent. It’s always nice to get together with friends to talk about books. 

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Later on in the week, I finally got to meet the absolutely wonderful Tom Fletcher. He was in Newcastle as part of his promotional book tour for ‘The Creakers’ which I was lucky enough to get a proof copy and I loved it! It is so perfect for kids! A brilliant tale of adventure, fun and a bit of spookiness thrown in too. When I heard Tom was coming to Newcastle, I knew I needed to be there! I was worried I was going to be the only adult there, but there were more adults in the line than there were children, so that fear was a bit daft in hindsight! 

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I got there about 40 minutes before the event started and there was already quite the queue! The staff of Waterstones were lovely and kept checking everyone was ok, and once the queue was moving it moved quite quickly! Meeting Tom was lovely. He’s just so lush. He’s exactly the same as the person you see in his vlogs and things (he isn’t technically a Youtuber, but he is one of my faves to watch). As we waited in the queue, it was lovely to see that he was spending a little bit of time with each fan, not just signing and then that was it. I got my books addressed to my class, so that when I have my own class they can go in my class library and the kids can enjoy them! I told him all about how “Santa” sent my kids The Christmasaurus last year and he thought that was a lovely idea. It was so lovely to meet him and tell him how much I enjoyed his books. The people who were with him were lovely too! The photo lady took loads of pictures, so thank you lovely woman! 

Last week was a good week. I hope lots more events happen in the North East! Thank you Usborne, Puffin and Waterstones Newcastle for hosting such brilliant events!

S x

BATB Book Tea Party

A while back, I received an email inviting me to a Beauty and the Beast blogger event in London and naturally, being the MASSIVE BATB fan that I am, I accepted the invite and tottled off to London!

My day started at 3:30am – since I needed to get up and get on an early morning train down to London! I had managed to get first class tickets (I know, check me out!) as part of the Virgin Trains East Coast 1st Class Seat sale, for only £30. Bargain. I had numerous cups of tea, some pastries and a soft drink or two on my journey down… I could get used to this first class lifestyle! The staff on the VTEC train were lovely – it was 4:45am, I’m not sure I would’ve been so lovely!! I am not a morning person. On the train down, I started the incredible #ChangeBook, which the wonderful people of Stripes had sent me earlier in the week. A girl always needs some train reading material. 

Once I got to London, I hopped on the tube to Covent Garden and even though I was ridiculously early, I needed to get there. Luckily there was a Caffe Nero just along the street so I chilled out there before the event. The event was held in the incredible Covent Garden Hotel – a beautiful setting. The hotel was gorgeous, the staff were very helpful and, despite the fact I walked past it a few times, it was a joy to be there! They showed me to the cinema room (again, how fancy!) and I was introduced to some other lovely bloggers. I had a lovely surprise when my friend Becky (of Becky Bedbug fame) was there!! We had a lovely chat about all things teachering and blogging before the film started! 

Once the film was over, there was another gorgeous treat… AFTERNOON TEA. (Fanciest day ever) There were some beautiful sandwiches, amazingly delicious cakes and some incredible scone type things, which I may have had about 4. But hey, it’s there to be eaten! We were each brought a glass of Prosecco too, making it REAL afternoon tea.

As the afternoon tea continued, I got chatting to a few of the other bloggers and it was so lovely to finally get to meet one of the people I’ve been talking to on twitter for so long, my gorgeous friend Liv (of That Fiction Life fame) and the gorgeous Zoe (of No Safer Place fame). Becky, Liv, Zoe and I had a long coversation about Beauty and the Beast, Harry Potter, Dumbledore and unpopular book opinions. It was so much fun! It’s so lovely when you get to meet other bookbloggers and they are just as lovely IRL as they are on twitter. I have definitely made friends forever with these girls!

Alongside the afternoon tea there was a book swap. Each of the bloggers was asked to bring along a book which featured a strong, lead female characters, just as Belle is! I took along ‘Winterkill‘ and ‘Troublemakers‘ and in return I took ‘Aurabel‘ – a book I’ve been meaning to buy FOREVER because it is SO GORGEOUS. There were some brilliant choices brought along by the other bloggers too. You’ve gotta commend a book with a strong lead female character because women are brilliant.

Once the book swap was over and the Prosecco was drank, it was time to leave! I can’t wait to see the girls again next week at YALC.

Thank you so much to Disney UK and Juliana at Premier for the invite! I had an amazing day! Check out the #BATBBookTeaParty hashtag on twitter for more pictures and tweets about the day!

S x