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

YALC highlights

Hello!

How are we all today?

So, a little over a month ago, I went to YALC and had the best time. Today I’m going to share some of my highlights from the weekend and then in the coming week I’m going to share my YALC haul, including books I bought, books I got, samplers and all the bookish swag! These highlights aren’t in any real order!

Seeing Jason Momoa
It seems that every year there is a celebrity who wanders through – last year it was Benedict Cumberbatch, this year Jason Momoa. At first, YALC was mania because he had appeared, but by Sunday it was like “oh hey, there’s our pal Jason”. Now that man is ATTRACTIVE. His arms are incredible.

Kaz Brekker
Massive massive shout out here to my gorgeous friend Layla, who cosplayed as Kaz Brekker (from Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom). The cosplay was absolutely amazing. She’d been telling me for months that she was going to cosplay, but seeing it for real was something else. Massive heart eyes from me.

Quiz time – Floored Quiz and Big YALC Quiz
I bloody love a quiz, so when I saw that there was a quiz on the schedule for YALC I was over the moon. I have some very amazing friends who also managed to get me a ticket for the Floored quiz which was happening on the Friday night. The Floored quiz wqas amazing. Last year, I was on the winning team (#teamBarnard for life) but this year, my team decided we’d let someone else win, so we can in a respectable last! It was brilliant fun, with lots of different rounds (some which had questions I did not know the answers to!), including a music round and a picture round. (I love a quiz).

Then on the Saturday night it was time for the Big YALC Quiz, hosted by gorgeous Katie Webber. There were 2 teams of authors who had to answer bookish related questions. There was a very funny pictionary round and some charades too. Many laughs were had that night.

Panels
One of my favourite things about YALC is the variety of panels that you can go and see. Last year, I adored the New Voices panels and was GUTTED this year that they weren’t back – celebrating new authors is SO important, so I’m hoping that they come back for next year! I got the chance to go to quite a few panels this year and it’s always fascinating and, as cheesy as this sounds, a priviledge to hear authors talk about their books – you don’t get to do that often! It’s lovely to see the wide variety of topics talked about. This year there was everything from looking at the publishing industry, to sci-fi, to Frankenstein and dystopian books.

My favourite panel this year hands down was ‘My Body, My Way’ featuring Charli Howard, Charly Cox, Laura Dockrill and Laura Steven, chaired by Dhonielle Clayton. Laura Steven is one of my favourite newest authors and I’ve been lucky to see her talk a few times, but I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to see her again. She’s a brilliant human, and The Exact Opposite of Okay is exceptional. This panel dealt with some pretty hard-hitting topics including self image, the impact of the media and being kinder to ourselves. There were a few moments in this panel that I got very emotional, crying at one point. What they were talking about just hit a massive chord with me. As well as tears, this panel made me feel pretty empowered. Seeing brilliant women talking about looking after yourself and being kinder to each other is pretty motivational! There was also a hilarious moment in the panel when it was announced that David Tennant was going to be at YALC and Dhonielle (who was an exceptional chair) was SO CONFUSED. Many giggles were had.

There were LOADS of brilliant panels that I could mention also – if you’d like me to talk about others that I loved, let me know and I’ll do another blog post!

#TakeawayYA 
Last year, during YALC, my friends and I started #TakeawayYA on twitter, sharing the takeaways we had and I had so many questions as to whether #TakeawayYA would be back. Something that was started in jest has become something that we make an annual thing!

Celebrating books!
Now, this is probably a given being that YALC is like “Christmas for books”, but it is so so incredible to be part of something that celebrates books and their authors so unashamedly as YALC does. There’s just such a brilliant buzz at YALC celebrating books I love and discovering new books that I’ve never heard of! I always come away from YALC with a recommended books list and a TBR that is excessively long. I love being around people who love books as much as I do. We’re very passionate us bookish folk.

Seeing authors I love
It’s quite surreal to see people you respect and adore and them be excited to see you back. Whether they’re authors I’ve met before, or they’re authors that are brand new to me, it’s so amazing to get to speak to them and fangirl about their book. It’s still mad when authors say “oh you’re Steph from twitter, I saw your tweets about my book” (a la Tom Pollock!)

Some brilliant memories for me from YALC weekend:
– Having coffee with Kelly and Katherine Webber and Melinda Salisbury just came and joined in the fun. It was a very cool moment and inside my head I was fangirling out. I love Katie and Mel an awful lot (not that you’d ever guess that!)
– Getting the chance to hug my love Sara Barnard – I adore Sara with everything that I am. I must’ve gone up to Sara’s signing table at least 5 times!
– Going to see Non Pratt/Alwyn Hamilton and them being like “oh no, not you again”. I love a bit of author/reader banter.
– Seeing Kiran Milwood-Hargrave just casually strolling around and being able to fangirl with her about her new book was lush. Kiran is an absolute darling, and you should definitely read her books.

My bookish friends
I was very lucky that I got to live with some of my very best friends at YALC – massive shout out to Kelly, Cora and Rosie for being YALCHouse pals! We don’t see each other very often because geogrpahy, so being able to spend so much time with these girls made me so happy.

On top of YALCHouse, seeing so many of my fvaourites at YALC was an absolute joy. Shout out to Charlotte (who I’d only seen a few days previously) who ran out of the lift to me and would hug me every time she saw me! It’s so amazing to meet my online friends in real life and get to talk to them and see them for more than an hour at a time. Some friends I only saw once or twice over the weekend because they were at LFCC, whereas others I got to see for longer and that was lush. Seeing people I adore (hello, Lucy and George) and for real fangirl over is always an absolute delight of YALC too!

There you go! My YALC highlights. Does this post do my YALC weekend justice? No, but it’s a very good start.

I would say to anyone who is thinking about doing YALC to seriously do it. I adore YALC, I’ve been two years in a row and I just think it’s a wonderful time of year to be a bookish person.

Did you go to YALC this year?
What were your highlights?
Who were you most excited to meet?

Thank you for getting through this EPIC post! I didn’t think it would be this long!

S x

BOOK BLOG: Matt Haig

Notes on a Nervous Planet: like reading a book from your clever and caring friend

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“The world is messing with our minds.
Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index.
– How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad? 
– How do we stay human in a technological world?
– How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious?
After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him.”

I’m a massive fan of Matt Haig’s work (both fiction and non-fiction) so when I found out there was going to be a “follow up” to Reasons to Stay Alive, I knew I had to get my hands on it. (I use that term loosely as it’s not really Reasons to Stay Alive 2, it’s more a companion, a friend). Notes (as I will refer to this book as because it’s shorter to type and shorter to read for you all!) explores the world – our technologically savvy, somewhat dependent world – and what the crutches of social media, technology and abundance are doing to us as a world. 

You’ve probably just read that and thought ‘OH MY WORD, what a depressing sounding book’ and you’d be wrong. Notes is enlightening, it’s uplifting, it’s brilliant. As someone who has a presence online, I am aware of the fact that my phone is never far from me, that I tweet a lot, that my instagram is updated regularly… so reading this was something that I think was the beginning of something for me: awareness. An awareness of the fact that this morning I scrolled and refreshed twitter 4 times before I realised that really nothing was going to happen if I didn’t refresh twitter. That’s what this book is all about: awareness. 

There’s a chapter in this book from the perspective of the beach. Yep, you read that right… the beach. It might be one of my favourite chapters from the book. The beach doesn’t care what you look like, it doesn’t care if you have a “beach-ready body”. It’s a beach. It’s sand and water. The beach doesn’t need you to be ready, it just needs you to be there (and even then it doesn’t NEED us to be there!) 

I’d recommend this book to everyone. Whether you’re a social media fan, a Matt Haig fan or not. It’s not a book that I can sing and dance about because it’s not a book that sings and dances itself – it’s a book that’s a bit like a friend. It’s there, imparting wisdom, some silliness and some comfort – all of the things that I love about Matt Haig’s books.  

To coincide with the release of this book, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a ticket to go listen to Matt talk about this book at Newcastle Central Library. It was a great night and Matt even read the chapter from the beach, which definitely made me chuckle. This is the second time this year I’ve met Matt and he was just as wise and charming as the first time! 

Massive thank you to Waterstones Newcastle for bringing Matt back to Newcastle! 

If you’re interested in any of my other reviews of Matt Haig books, check them out:

Have you read any Matt Haig books?
Have you read Notes on a Nervous Planet?
Do you, like me, get super nervous when meeting authors?!

Let me knw your thoughts in the comments! 

S x

YALC top tips!

Hello!

Today I’m sharing some of my top tips for how to get the most out of YALC.

Now, I’m by no means a YALC pro, but from going last year there’s a few things I learned that I thought might be useful to share with everyone going this year!

  1. Have breakfast
    Don’t make the mistake I made of not having something to eat BEFORE you get to YALC. Eat some breakfast, your body will thank you when you can still function later in the day.
  2. Carry snacks/water with you
    Yes there’s a cafe, yes there’s a Tesco across the road, but I tell you once you’re in the room of YALC goodness you may not want to leave. Plus, the cafe gets busy and from what I remember isn’t the cheapest option! Stock up from Tesco in the morning!
  3. Prepare for long lines
    Now, this is in particular for authors who don’t do events often. If I think of this year’s line up, I think FOR SURE the longest line could be for Tom and Giovanna Fletcher. However, prepare to queue. I’m not sure what system they’ll have in place this year, but be ready to queue to meet your faves… they’ll love you for waiting!
  4. Know what you MUST see
    Have a schedule prepared. If like me, you need to know what’s going on and who you’re seeing when, what signing you’re doing when… check out the YALC website (they’ve announced the schedules for the days) and get a copy – highlight/make yourself a list of what you’re doing.
  5. Don’t go overboard on the proofs
    IT IS SO EXCITING SEEING ALL OF THE PROOFS, but take the ones you’re going to read, the ones you’re most excited for. Don’t just take everything because you can. (Think about it… you’re going to have to carry them anyway!)
  6. Prepare to run into people you talk to online
    Last year I did NOT expect to run into so many people I knew online. I don’t know why I thought this. But go and say hi, don’t be shy. I can guarantee all of these people will be excited to see you too.
  7. If you feel overwhelmed, remember that’s OK
    A LOT is happening. You’re allowed to feel overwhelmed and take a minute to yourself.
  8. See as much as you can
    It’s not every day you get to be in the same room as some of your favourite authors and some of your friends from online – try and get as much in as you can, without exhausting yourself!
  9. Introduce yourself to people
    Say hello to people, especially if they’re people you recognise. YALC is a great opportunity to say hi to those people you see on twitter/that publicist who sends you books. The people of YALC are the loveliest.
  10. Cosplay if you want
    I’m VERY excited because at least 2 of my faves are cosplaying this year and I’m very excited to see it! (I’m not cool enough to cosplay, but if it’s your thing do it!)
  11. Check to see what the deal is with workshops
    If there’s a workshop you are DYING to go to, check with the people who are working the event what the sign up deal is. Last year it was sign up on the morning and once the slots were full, that was that. I don’t know what the deal will be this year, but just ask!
  12. Prepare to ache
    You’ll ahve sore arms and legs, possibly an empty bank account, but you’ll also leave with a very full heart once your experience is over.

Whether you’re coming to YALC for 1 day or the whole weekend, it’s an incredible experience to meet people, share the bookish love and enjoy being your most bookish self. Last year was incredible. I absolutely loved it. 

If you want to read about my YALC experience last year, you’ll find 2 blog posts – YALC #1 and YALC #2.

Let me know if you’re coming along and I’ll say hi!

S x

YAShot 2018

Last weekend saw the brilliant day of YAShot finally come upon us and what a day it was! From authors to awards, coffee to chilling, friends to feelings… lots of fun was had by all.

YAShot is a brilliant, one day bookish event held in Uxbridge, which features tons of brilliant authors doing panels, workshops and in conversation events. There’s also the chance to go to signings and generally just have a lovely bookish day! I went down with my gorgeous Kelly on the Friday and we met some fellow bloggers for tea. It was so lovely to meet some new faces – ones I’ve been talking to forever online! That’s the other beauty of these events… people who you talk to online become people you’ve spoken to in real life. There’s nothing quite so surreal as “You’re Steph, aren’t you?”. Yeah, that’s weird. 

On Saturday, Kelly and I had arranged to do ALL of the same panels because that’s us. We come as a pair now.

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The first panel we went to was Power, Privilege & Inequality, which saw Helena Coggan, Mark Huckerby, Vic James, Nick Ostler and Samantha Shannon, chaired by Phyllida Shrimpton. It’s always interesting to hear people talk about their books. Having read Gilded Cage, I was excited to hear Vic James speak. I now need to read some of the other books because the authors made some interesting points!

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The next panel we stayed for was How relationships shape women’s lives featuring Holly Bourne, Emma Craigie, Leila Rasheed & Sufiya Ahmed. It’s always really interesting hearing about different authors and their influences behind their books. I love hearing Holly Bourne talk, she’s so effortlessly cool and funny. There were some very interesting points made in this chat, which hit quite close to something that was going on in the YA world at that time.

I then found myself sauntering off to Uxbridge Library to hear my absolute fave Melinda Salisbury talk with Alwyn Hamilton about their books. The title of the ‘in Conversation’ was Stories for Change. I just adore these two women and their books. It was so gorgeous to listen to Mel and Alwyn talk together about their books with such love. It was clear from the conversation that they’re both clearly fans of each other’s books! Hearing interesting information from the two ladies, along with a lot of laughter is ALWAYS a good thing.

Following the in conversation with Mel and Alwyn, Kelly and I went down to get some books signed! We both took our Goodbye Perfect proofs and finished copies to get signed and Sara Barnard was darling enough to sign them both! It’s mad seeing authors I love for reals actually recognise me and WANT to speak to me. We also pestered Mel and Alwyn for a moment or two… sorry signing queues!

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After a quick bit of lunch and a cup of coffee with a friend, we then checked out Privacy, entertainment & technology featuring Lauren James, Laura Steven (who is just a babe, I love her a lot), Nicci Cloke & Kerry Drewery. There were interesting conversations had around portayals of social media in books, the dangers of technology and why its important that they’re included in YA books.

Then there was a mad dash to go get signings from Laura and Lauren back at the library!

In our bags was a 10% off code for Waterstones Uxbridge, so Kelly and I took this time off to go and explore Waterstones and see what delights they had for us. We both picked up In Your Light by Annalie Grainger after the recommendation from none other than Katherine Webber (who is a firm fave of ours!)
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The final panel we watch was Family, Faith & Identity featuring Sita Brahmachari, Simon James Green, Antonia Honeywell, chaired by the gorgeous Katherine Webber. This was a brilliant panel, which at one point I definitely did not cry at. Story telling is amazing and I am definitely moved by it… a lot!

And there you go! Those were all of the in conversation and panels I went to at YAShot. Come back tomorrow to find out all about the UKYABAs!

S x

Bookish events

One of the most amazing parts of being a blogger is going along to bookish events. Bookish events are an incredible opportunity to meet other bloggers, publishers, authors – all of the amazing book people that the book community is filled with.

Now don’t get me wrong, book events can be pretty scary if you’re going for the first time, if you’re going on your own, if you have to travel far to get to them, if you don’t feel like you know anyone… I know that. My anxiety levels when I went to UKYACX (one of my first ever bookish events) will attest to that, but once you’re at the event, your nerves will hopefully subside.

Bookish people are like none other. I’m yet to go to an event where I don’t feel welcome. It’s amazing the amount of people who are there who are just as nervous as you are. There’s no shame in that whatsoever. It’s exciting and scary. But it’s all of these emotions that make it even more of a buzz. 

In the coming months, there are some VERY exciting bookish events coming up that I am attending that I thought I would share with you all. See if you can make them and then pop along too! If you need a friendly face, I am always around to say hello! Tell your twitter friends that you’re going too – there’s bound to be someone you know going. Knowing someone at an event is always a lot more fun!

Next week brings 2 very exciting events… one of which I am TERRIFIEDEXCITEDNERVOUS for; one which I am quite looking forward to because books, authors, my best people and blogger get togethers.

img_2080(look at me casually hanging about on the poster… I am FINE *Ross Gellar voice*) 

Event number 1 sees the joining of 2 of my absolute favourite authorsMelinda Salisbury and Alice Broadway. For those who do not know, they are the authors of the incredible Ink/Spark and The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy/State of Sorrow. They’re both coming North on Wednesday 11th April at 7pm at Waterstones Newcastle to talk of rebellion and rule breaking. As well as incredible young women, world building and other such incredible things.

This promises to be an incredible event… I mean. Possibly. I KNOW the authors will be wonderful and brilliant. I’m not sure about the chair person *wink*. Yours truly is chairing, and I’m not entirely sure HOW this is my life. WHY AM I BEING TRUSTED WITH THESE INCREDIBLE AUTHORS? WHY ARE THEY LETTING ME DO IT AGAIN? (I have chaired one panel at Waterstones Newcastle this year already, it was SUCH FUN). Like, it BLOWS MY MIND that I’ve been asked to chair an event with my 2 of my favourite ever authors. So yes…

Please come along if you can! 7pm on Wednesday 11th April (next Wednesday… I am NOT ready ha!) Tickets are available online: clicky clicky or in store! £3 for 2 authors! BARGAIN. There will be a signing after too. I love a signing!

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YA Shot logo

Event number 2 happens later in the very same week! I shall be turfing myself off to Londres to go to YAShot! YA Shot is a one-day annual festival based in the centre of Uxbridge (just on the outside of London). The event takes place on Saturday 14th April. Over 50 authors are involved. There are workshops, panels and ‘in conversation’ events (plus book-signing sessions) in the Uxbridge Civic Centre and Uxbridge Library. There is also a programme of fantastic blogging and vlogging workshops as part of the UKYA Blogger Awards in the evening.

Like the Newcastle event, there’s moments in this where I am like HOW IS THIS MY LIFE? I will be involved in an “Ask A Blogger” session (6:30-6:55pm) with two of my fellow Northern bloggers, Charlotte and Rebecca! WHY IS THIS A THING? Who wants my advice? HAHA. Seriously. But come along if you’re there! We will have a lovely chat about blogging.

On top of all of this, I have also been shortlisted (ME SHORTLISTED HAHAHAHA) for Best Newcomer in the UKYABAs. I’m up against some pretty tough competition, so am not holding my breath. I’m not entirely sure HOW this happened. How I’m up for an award is beyond me. If you nominated me, in any stage of the process, then I would absolutely love to hug you (so please shout if you feel confident!)

So yes… YAShot. Tickets are £20/£15 concessions and are available here!. If you want to know more about the programme, check out the link here! Some very interesting talks on!

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The third and final event I am currently attending this year is none other than the incredible YALC. I had SUCH A BLAST last year. It was TERRIFYING. But it was just brilliant. YALC solidified my “I’ve found my people” stance on the book community!

YALC is the UK’s Young Adult Literature Convention – a celebration of the very best young adult books and authors. YALC takes place each year as part of the London Film and Comic Con. It’s held across a whole weekend. It runs in the same building (but on a completely different floor to) as Comic Con. Last year there were some incredible cosplayers! I’m going down for the whole weekend, spending it with some of my absolute best friends, and I can’t wait. YALC is just one of those “omg you’re ________ from twitter, aren’t you?” kinds of events and it was so lush last year. I met so many of my twitter pals, I fangirled over some of my twitter gods (sorry Lucy/Grace/Hux) and met so many incredible authors.

Closer to the event I’m going to post my “YALC hints and tips” post! Reflecting on last year made me think of a few things for going back a second year! 

Tickets are available for single days, or for all 3 days! You’ll find them all here.

And that’s it! Those are the book events I’m so far booked up for this year!

Have you got any book events lined up?
Are there any book events you’d like to go to?
What’s your dream book event?

Talk to me in the comments or on twitter! Don’t be scared to tell me you’re coming along. I’ll say hello if I know you’re coming!

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

 

Q&A with Katherine Webber!

Katie Webber is one of my favourite authors, one of those MUST BUYS MUST TRY TO ACQUIRE BOOKS FROM. Wing Jones is one of those just incredible books that comes along and smacks you in the face. When I was asked if I’d like to do a Q&A with Katie as part of the NYA Literature Festival celebrations, I JUMPED AT THE CHANCE
Enjoy guys! 
1. Where did the inspiration for Wing Jones come from?
The idea of writing about a girl runner had been bouncing around in my brain for years. I ran track and cross country in high school  and while I loved parts of it, I also found it very difficult! I used to fantasize about being a naturally talented runner, and it just coming effortlessly. So when I finally sat down to start what would become WING JONES, I had all these questions about this girl runner character. Who was she? Why was she special? Why was she running? Why didn’t she know she was a talented runner? Wing’s brother Marcus came next, and then her grandmothers, and the whole story went out from there. 
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2. What is your writing process? Do you go for a set number of words a day? Or do you just write as and when you can?
It depends if I’m drafting or editing! When I’m drafting I try to just get as much written as I can, but when I’m editing it is a slower process. Sometimes it will take me days to perfect a certain scene, and most of that time I’m just thinking and trying to work it out. I like to write at home in my office or in my living room with writer friends or at the British Library. 

3. There’s an incredible sense of “believe in yourself” in your books, is this a message you want your readers to take from Wing?
Absolutely! My biggest message would be to believe in yourself, and that you are stronger than you think you are. I hope this comes across in my next YA book too. 

4. You’ve written for children and young adults, how were the two processes different?

It was a completely different process! I really enjoyed doing something so collaborative. Working with my husband Kevin was a lot of fun, and I think for this particular project I couldn’t have written it on my own, so it was great to have a partner.  The whole process is very different from how I write YA, and I think it was good for my brain to work a different way. It is definitely difficult at times co-writing it, but worth it in the end! 

YA is where my heart is, but I loved writing for a different age range. And it was really great to work on something so collaborative. And I LOVE having a book with illustrations.

The planning process is very different. Writing collaboratively requires a lot more structure. Kevin and I spend a lot of time brainstorming and then we write a very structured outline that we don’t deviate too much from. For my YA novels, I rarely have an outline, and when I write a first draft, I tend to see where it takes me. I’m writing to find the story.  After my first draft, sometimes I’ll make an outline or write a synopsis that I can use as a reference while editing. My YA books require more rounds of edits, and SAM WU requires more planning and outlining. 

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5. How has your debut year been?

I’ve had the best debut year! I’m so grateful to my wonderful publisher Walker books, to all the readers who have supported the book, to all the authors who have been so welcoming and wonderful! And of course to all the amazing bloggers who shouted about the book and got behind it–it makes a huge difference to a debut author. I’m so grateful to be an author and try to enjoy every part of the experience. 

6. What’s next?
My next YA novel is out this August with Walker books. The title is ONLY LOVE CAN BREAK YOUR HEART and it is set in the Palm Springs desert. It’s about a beautiful, popular girl named Reiko Smith-Mori who has secrets and cracks in her heart, the boy who thinks she’s perfect, and what happens when they both want something the other one can’t give them. It’s about family, friendship, and finding yourself. 
Image result for only love can break your heart katherine webber
As a reader of all of these 3 books, I can say that they are all wonderful in their own ways. I would recommend them HIGHLY. The kids at school are loving Sam Wu, and I know so many of my blogger pals are a fan of Wing Jones. I can’t wait for them all to meet Reiko!
Northern YA Lit Fest

Northern YA Literary Festival

University of Central Lancashire, in association with their new BA in Publishing, are hosting The Northern Young Adult Literature Festival on Saturday 24th March 2018 at 53 Degrees in Preston. Doors open at 10am, with the events staggered throughout the day. Best of all, it’s free!

S x

BOOKBLOG: Holly Bourne

It Only Happens In The Movies: heart-breaking and moving.

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“Audrey is over romance. Since her parents’ relationship imploded her mother’s been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn’t mean things are easy. Because real love isn’t like the movies…

The greatest love story ever told doesn’t feature kissing in the snow or racing to airports. It features pain and confusion and hope and wonder and a ban on cheesy clichés. Oh, and zombies… YA star Holly Bourne tackles real love in this hugely funny and poignant novel”

When I heard that Holly Bourne was writing a new book, I knew I needed it straight away. When I heard Holly Bourne was going to be doing an event in Newcastle (which I sneakily found out at YALC, a few weeks before it was announced!) I knew I needed to be at it, regardless. It isn’t often that events come to Newcastle, so I was THERE. If you’re interested in my blog post about the event, you’ll find it here: Events!

But onto the book. The main event. I managed to NOT buy the book before the event, despite everyone shouting about it, I was good and MY GOSH was it worth the wait. It is just incredible. It broke my heart in so many places, that even now a few weeks later I am still putting my heart back together. In ‘Movies’ (let’s call it Movies, cause it’s much shorter), you meet Audrey: a teenager, trying to get through life, despite everything falling apart around her. Her mam is struggling a lot with the separation from her husband; Audrey gets a new job (where yes, of course, there is a handsome young man for her to fall for) and she’s trying to deal with the stress of exams and the future. She split up with her ex and there’s reminders of him everywhere, she gave up things when they split up that she regrets. She’s just trying to keep everything together, when it just seems to be falling apart.

She gets a job at a cinema and things in her life outside of home perk up from there. She gets to meet some amazing friends. Does a bit of acting. Learns how to make guacamole. Confronts some sexism. Kisses a boy. Pulls apart some romantic comedies. Fights against stereotypes (there is an amazing monologue from Audrey in the sampler that I needed the book for). While all these things seem to be going well, her mam is falling apart. Her mam is REALLY struggling. She’s not coping, at all. She seems to have good days. She has really bad days. Audrey needs to often balance looking after herself, with looking after her mum. 

I just have so many feelings about this book that I will never get them down in a way that does this book justice. Audrey is brave and bold. She’s brilliant. Keeping herself together while everything with her mam is falling apart must be the hardest thing ever. My heart broke for mam. My heart broke for Audrey. I cried for a good 20 minutes after finishing this book. WHAT DID YOU DO TO ME BOURNE?!

The thing that stands out for me about this book is that it deals with very real problems, without shying away from them. Mam’s struggles. Audrey’s worries about her past relationship. The relationship between Audrey and her mam. Audrey’s brother. The feminism shouting. I just adored it. 

Go on. Read this. You won’t be disappointed. 

Have you read It Only Happens In The Movies?
Do you have any favourite romantic films?

I am a fan of a romantic film, so go on, shout some at me. I (totally don’t) need more in my life. Leave me a comment, or catch me on twitter (@eenalol)

S x