Half term happy post

Happy Monday! Despite the fact I’m back to work today (we only had one week for Easter holidays), I thought I’d post one of my favourite posts: a happy post! I’m going to list all of my happy things from half term! 

Reading every single day. Sleeping in until I wanted to wake up. Having an alarm set for a good reason. Seeing my twiglets. Doing some tidying. Running. Wagamamas with my fave. Finally getting my ass back to the gym. Going to see people that I love most. Bullet journaling. Cute Snapchat filters. My book bitchez. Quilliams for me. Quilliams with my friends. Just having time to breathe. Looking forward to going back to work. Relaxing and not needing to worry. That feeling of waking up and being able to go back to sleep. Accidental naps. Exciting opportunities with teachers I properly admire. Sunshine and walks. Spending time just wandering because I have time. Texts from friends. Texts from colleagues. Texts from teacher friends. Book post. Laughing. Laughing so much you cry. Not feeling pressured to write blog posts. Starbucks and reading. Banana bread. Light mornings. Light nights. New trainers. New lipstick. Picking up books and devouring them in a matter of hours. Falling in love with characters and worlds. That feeling of tiredness before you crawl into bed. Bookish events with my faves. A bottle of Rekorderlig. Hugs from the twiglets. Texts from my brother. Books. Always books. 

What are your half term wins?
How do you enjoy spending your half term holidays? 

Talk to me! 

S x 

Happiness is…

Opening the door to my classroom. Positive feedback. Seeing how much progress my kids have made. Pictures from my kids. Reading books. Fenwicks Christmas Window. Texts that make me smile. Livin on a Prayer. The future. Reading books and knowing EXACTLY who to recommend them to. handing over the perfect book to a child and them just GLOWING with joy. Good morning texts. Listening to the radio in the classroom. Breakfast with my best friends. Chairing a panel with two authors I admire most in the world. My friends being happy for me. The pride you feel for your friends. Watching SimplyNailogical videos. Real pockets in trousers. Laughing with my mam. Seeing my twiglets. Going back to work and seeing the smiles on my kids’ faces. The run up to Christmas. Singing stupid songs. Newcastle United winning (finally). Spending time with my favourite Welsh human in the world. My reading rainbow display. Laughing and chatting with my TA. Doing the thing I love doing. Getting back to blogging. Being wrapped up warm with a cup of tea and a book. Books. Always books. My kids. Always my kids. 

If it makes you happy…

I’ve done 4 weeks of teaching now, so I feel this is a good time to write another happy things post.

Walking into my classroom every single morning. Having my own classroom. My kids drawing me pictures. Feedback from my first observation. The culture of caring in the classroom. Laughing with my kids. Making my kids laugh. Watching a lesson just take off on a completely random tangent, but the kids learning much more from that than they would’ve done my plan. Having confidence to go with my gut, rather than a piece of planning. Setting routines. Being able to call my classroom MY classroom. Watching my kids make progress. Seeing friendships blossom. Watching their kindness and consideration for each other. Hearing their conversations. Getting lovely feedback from parents. Recommending a book and hearing it was a 9/10. Showing persistence and finally making breakthroughs. Watching my kids succeed at something they struggled with. Listening to Frank Sinatra songs and my kids thinking he’s “cool”. Believing in each and every one of them. Reading our class novel at the end of the day. Celebrating our collective worship with the rest of the school. How keen they are to do well. How well they persevere. Their sheer determination. Their enthusiasm about Journey. Their enthusiasm about poetry. Their happy faces every day. My happy face every day. That tired, exhausted teacher feeling. Knowing I’m doing the one thing I’ve always wanted to do. 

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

Happy things – bloggerversary edition

Hello. It’s 2 years since I posted my first blog post. Today I’m celebrating all of the happy things that have happened over the past 2 years. All of the bookish brilliance. 

Making the best bunch of friends a girl can have. Having so much support it makes me burst with joy. Making a best friend. Having a bunch of people around me who make me laugh every day. Getting to chair events with my favourite authors. Being asked to chair events with my favourite authors. Getting to go to events with some of my favourite people. Vising London an awful lot for so many brilliant events. SundayYA. YALC. YAShot. Recommending books to people and them actually going out and reading/buying them. People reading my blog. Reading comments and tweet from people about my blog. Being known as “one of the book people”. Realising that it’s OK to post what I want, when I want. Shouting about all of the books. Having my blog be a place of positivity. Watching my friends absolutely boss this whole blogging world. Desert Island Discs. Hosting some amazing content from some of the people I love and admire the most in the world. Being stunned any time anyone recognises me. Having some of my favourite authors become my friends. Reading advanced copies of books from authors I absolutely adore. Traditions with friends. Getting stupid o’clock trains in the morning to go to events. Still reading. Still blogging. Still loving all of it. 

 

The everyone who has been here over the past 2 years,
You are all brilliant and you’re the reason I’m still here today. I’m so glad to be involved in a community that celebrates brilliance like the book blogging community. Thank you for listening to me shout about books. 
Love you all, here’s to more shouting! S x

YALC #2

Hello! Yesterday you saw YALC Highlights Part 1, today we have YALC Highlights Part 2. Bear with me. I just had such an incredible weekend that I need to talk about it. 

I hope you’re sitting comfortably with a cuppa (or equivalent).

Awesome authors
Now, I think awesome authors is a GIVEN when going to a book event BUT it is such a wonderful experience meeting these wonderful humans and getting to talk to them. There were SO MANY authors there that I admired, whose books have had a lasting impact on me that I was initially quite overwhelmed. The list was as long as my arm and the fact that I was going to get to meet them made me quite emotional. It goes without saying that there was a lot of fangirling going on, but being the awesome humans that they are they were all incredibly kind and some even fangirled back at me. Shout out to Tanya Byrne for fangirling at me for tweeting her so much about her story in #ChangeBook. As a reader you get to read these incredible collections of words that an author has produced and to get to go up to them and say this is my favourite part, or these character makes me so angry, or this part changed my life is an incredible part of the reader/author relationship. Kelly and I waited around a while for one of our faves Alwyn Hamilton, only to tell her that if she kills one of her characters we will NOT be her friend. I could talk for hours about the conversations I had with authors and how much I fangirled but no one needs to read that. (If you go to book things and see an author you love, TELL THEM). 

(see: Queen Sara, Katie Webber, Queen Mel, Non Pratt, Alwyn Hamilton)

Melinda Salisbury
Speaking of awesome authors, my queen was there. #QueenMel. For those of you who are unaware who this awesomely wicked human is, Mel is the author of my favourite trilogy of all time: The Sin Eater’s Daughter/The Sleeping Prince/The Scarecrow Queen. Now poor Mel puts up with me ALL the time being her number 1 fangirl, so when the schedule told me there was going to be a workshop, I NEEDED to be there. Kelly and I were very lucky to be in the queue early enough on the Saturday to put our names down and be in the chosen 10 to get into the workshop. It was brilliant fun. Her workshop was ‘Books to Bags‘ and we used ACTUAL TSED hardback books to make them into bags. The workshop was a lot of fun, although I’m not sure who allowed Mel to handle a staple gun. It was a gorgeous, informal environment to talk to her and a few others in the workshop. The workshop was filled with broken staple guns, talks of weapons, and laughtera perfect Saturday morning activity. Aside from the workshop, I got to hear Mel talk a few times and even managed to bag myself a Team Mel badge (even though I wasn’t on Team Mel for the quiz… I AM Team Mel in life though). The signing queue for Mel was of epic length but I had 1 copy of TSP to be signed so we waited in the queue. She is one of my favourite humans. Thanks to Mel for dealing with my fangirling this weekend (and forever)

Debut author talks
Yesterday I talked about the talks in general but 2 of my favourite talks were the New Voices talks. The first panel of each day included some brilliant new, debut author talks. When the schedule was announced, I scanned the New Voices talks in awe. I had read quite a few of the debut books, so going to hear the authors talk was a given. We got to hear about their journeys to becoming published, their inspirations and what surprised them about being published. I loved that all of their journeys were different and that the one thing that came out from all of them was that the book they have had published is a book that was special to them. These panels were only half an hour, chaired by the gorgeous Katie Webber, but they could easily have been hours long and I would’ve been happy! A few highlights included meeting Alice Broadway (gorgeous human and author of Ink), Harriet Springbett (who is a SundayYA regular and an all round gorgeous human), Karen Gregory (creator of Countless, which will break your heart) and Tamsin Winter (author of Being Miss Nobody, perfect for teenagers). Debut author talks are always great to go to because they will introduce you to new authors and new stories.

Non’s headshave
As #QuizYA was such a winner, Non had raised enough money to mean she had to have her head shaved. This delight came on Saturday night, after all of the panels had finished. The scene was set for an epic headshave in the name of charity. Authors and fans could pay £5 to cut a bit of Non’s hair off before the shave and PEOPLE DID. It was hilarious. So picture the scene: Non with hair cut off (Mel took GREAT JOY being first cutting hair), head being shaved by the lovely Carlie Sorosiack (If Birds Fly Back author) and almost 200 people watching this happen… only for Benedict Cumberbatch to walk past. BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH. HIS FACE. IT WAS BEYOND HILARIOUS. THERE WAS PANDEMONIUM. The head shaving had to be paused for a minute as everyone was laughing too much. Cumberbatch probably thought “yeah we’ll go this way, there’ll be no one there or they’re just bookish people, they’re chill” ONLY TO SEE 200 people watching a head shave. His face was a picture. If you search on twitter, I can guarantee you’ll see his face (side note: he became a YALC wanderer on the regular. I must’ve seen him about 7 times over the weekend, he said “good morning” to me at one point). The gorgeous Lucy Saxon took over the head shaving in the end, all whilst cosplaying. (Big shout out to Saxon’s cosplaying… Scorpius Malfoy on Sunday too. Brilliant)

Massive congrats to Non for raising so much money for charity. I think the last total I saw was about £2,800. Also, Non ROCKS the shaved head look. 

Books
Yes, yes, I know. I know. I went to a book convention, there would be books. BUT THERE WERE BOOKS. It was like book heaven. HERE HAVE THE BOOKS. HERE ARE SOME FOR FREE. READ THIS. HERE IS A SAMPLER OF A BOOK. There will be a blog post about my YALC haul, so I won’t go on for hours about it here BUT I must mention it. There were a few samplers I needed to have when I heard they were announced, so I gravitated towards those stalls first. Massive props to the people on the stalls, who designed them and who manned them, they did a brilliant job all weekend. I managed to get a few proofs of books which I am SO excited for (one in particular, I hassled the people for 2 days before the announcement). I’m hoping to do some ARCs for August so watch out for those. Come back in a few days for more details of the books I acquired. 

Okay, that’s enough words for today. I hope you’re still awake. There is one more highlights post to come. I will be back tomorrow with that post. YALC haul will be up next week! 

S x

YALC #1

Morning!

So it’s Wednesday, I am back from YALC and I am SO sad to be home. BUT today and tomorrow (and possibly the day after) I will be sharing my YALC highlights – there are MANY, but I have tried to keep it to 10 (or so). These posts are not going to be short, so grab yourself a cuppa and a biscuit (milk, one sugar for me and a bourbon thanks) for the ride!

So here goes… (they aren’t in any particular order, I have many feels)

YALC Highlights: Part 1

#QuizYA
For those of you who didn’t know, #QuizYA was a quiz organised by the gorgeous author Non Pratt to raise money for charity and if enough money was raised Non was going to have her head shaved. The quiz was held in the pub across the road from Olympia and all the quiz goers were split into groups with authors as team captains. My gorgeous Welsh friend Kelly and I made our way on to #teamBarnard (because Sara Barnard is one of our faves) and we were on a team with some absolute lovelies! There were some intense timed rounds with missing vowels and an Only Connect round of ‘find the link’ – we bossed them both, cause we clever. Other highlights of the rounds included London Underground… “HOUSE” (trying to find the underground stations with all the vowels), Comic book heroes and YA Book shortlists. It was a tight race to the top but in the end the best team was victorious. #teamBarnard FTW. 


Thank you so much Non for organising such an awesome night
. It truly is one of the highlights up there on my list! Made my YALC experience even more memorable. Can’t wait for next year now! 

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#takeawayYA
Anyone who follows me on twitter will know that I stayed in an AirBnB with 2 of my most favourite humans in the world, Kelly and Cora. We met on SundayYA and have become really close friends, so when we decided we were all going to YALC, we decided to share a house. As you do when you share houses, you have takeaway (because it would be rude not to). #takeawayYA quickly became a thing and a lot of people commented on how fun it was to see what we were eating! From Prosecco, to wine, to diet coke, Indian food, Chinese food and pizza… it was all covered. (Plus, it saved us cooking AND washing!) Sharing a house with my faves made my experience even more enjoyable. 

(see: Chinese, pizza, Nandos, Indians)

Panels
Another one of my favourite parts of YALC were the panels. There were some absolutely brilliant talks this year. It’s always really interesting to hear the authors talk about their books and discover more about the books and the authors that you love. I managed to make it along to all of the panels that I wanted to and tagged along with Kelly to some panels that she wanted to – this made me discover some authors I had never read and now that I really want to! The ‘Heroines‘ panel was a brilliant look at the highs and heroines in books written by some amazing female authors (Melinda Salisbury, Alwyn Hamilton, Laure Eve, Amy Alward, Sophia Bennett). ‘Writing What You Know‘ gave an insight into the authors and the well known phrase “you should write what you know“. This talk highlighted that whatever you write, be it what you know or not, that you need to treat the story with respect and do some research! (Alex Wheatle, Lisa Williamson, Rachael Lucas, Lisa Heathfield, Hannah Witton) I love when panels/talks introduce me to new authors that I never would’ve come across before and this is exactly what the ‘Myths, Magic and Fairy tales‘ panel did. In this brilliant chat, it was brilliant to hear authors talk about one of my favourite elements for books… MAGIC. I love any book that includes magic, so books that call upon magic and mythology are always a winner for me. This chat also introduced me to Deidre Sullivan, who is not only adorable but her books sound RIGHT up my street. I went straight over to Amazon to order a book or 2 of hers! It was also lovely to finally meet Paedar who wrote the incredible ‘The Call’ and hear about its origins (if you haven’t read this yet, what is wrong with you? Get on it!). Some brilliant myths were mentioned and I will definitely be reading some more! (Joanne Harris, Julia Gray, Laura Dockrill, Zöe Marriott, Deirdre Sullivan, Peadar O’Guilin) On Saturday, I also tagged along to the Laini Taylor and ‘Books that made me‘ panels with Kelly and they turned out to be really interesting. I haven’t read anything by any of the authors but I am definitely going to seek out Strange the Dreamer in particular. Laini seems like the loveliest person ever and Katie Webber did an amazing job chairing the panel (not just that one, she was an incredible chair all weekend!) Sunday brought me back to #teamBarnard as Sara was on the ‘Life advice‘ panel. This was one I KNEW I needed to get to from the moment I saw the schedule. It was a brilliant look at giving advice (or not giving advice and offering resources) and life. Sara was with Holly Bourne and Hannah Witton (who is gorgeous) on this panel and it was brilliant to hear them talk about everything from feminism to loneliness and bullies. The final panel I tagged along to was Patrick Ness (chaired by the awesome Juno Dawson). I was very lucky to have met both of these awesome authors in the past few months, but I went along anyway – it’s not every day you get to hear Patrick Ness speak! It’s always really interesting to hear authors talk and answer questions that I NEVER would’ve thought of.

My favourite quote of the weekend came from Joanne Harris when talking in the ‘Books that made me’ panel. 

“The authors who make you are kind of your family. You get to choose them”

Meeting twitterfolk
Being a twitterer (I do twitter on, I do apologise) I have made some amazing friends and I was super excited to meet them all at YALC. To say I was nervous however was also a truth. I was PROPER nervous. Here are a bunch of people who I have never met IRL and they’re finally going to see me IRL. I didn’t quite know what to do. Friday I was a bit shy and didn’t really introduce myself to many people but Saturday I knew I had to just bite the bullet. I am SO GLAD I did. (Seriously though, do it. GO say hi to those faces you recognise from Twitter. It is never as awkard as you think). Massive shoutout to one of my favourite humans in the world, Lucy (@ldlapinski on twitter, go follow her, she’s bloody awesome) for her amazing cosplay – look at how fierce she is. I was SUCH a fangirl and I apologise so much. (sorry for my face but LOOK HOW AWESOME)

I got to meet so many other wonderful twitterfolk and I REALLY slacked on the selfie front and it makes me sad, but here are some of my other fave faces and twitterpeople. (If you have a selfie with us in it, send me it! I want all of the memories!) 

(See: Liv, Lizzie, Grace, Zoe)

 

I think that’s enough for one day! Sorry for my rambling! Come back tomorrow for more YALC highlights!

S x