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

 

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

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

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

 

 

BOOKBLOG: Lauren James

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe: a gripping, unique heart-racer

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“Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away? 
Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .”

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe (I’m going to call it Loneliest Girl in this blog, because well it’s a LONG title!) tells the story of Romy, who is the captain of a ship on its way to a new planet, with hopes to make it hospitable. She’s all alone on this rocket, with only audio/email messages coming from her therapist Molly. Something changes and suddenly there’s a mysterious stranger on the scene. This stranger is J, the captain of another ship, and Romy quickly finds herself falling for this mysterious stranger. When things start becoming a bit suspect, Romy discovers that J isn’t quite who he says he is…

I had seen SO MUCH about this book on twitter! Everyone was talking about it. I was SO ENVIOUS of all of the people who had advance copies. I needed to get my hands on it. I was elated when I heard they would be selling them at YALC. When it came to YALC, Kelly and I rushed to buy a copy (because we were afraid they’d run out of copies!) just to be sure we would get one. It has sat on my shelf since YALC but I was determined to read it before we did a SundayYA chat about it. AND READ IT BEFORE SUNDAYYA I DID. It took me all of about 4 hours to read. It is THAT GOOD. It’s so readable. Gripping. The kind of book that takes you by surprise (it certainly took me by surprise!) 

This book is very character centric and luckily for me, I loved the characters. Romy (the main character) and her story were very well written. The flashbacks of her memories growing up, her memories of the rocket were gorgeous to see. Her parents are very important to herboth in very different ways – I loved her relationship with her dad. Her relationship with her mam kept me very curious. The other character in the space world in Loneliest Girl is J: mysterious, handsome, seemingly perfect. Romy definitely falls for him fast. Her trust of him pulled the wool over my eyes. I didn’t like him from the start… there was something about him I didn’t trust. He was too convenient. He was the perfect, most sinister, creepy baddie though. He adds a brilliantly sinister dynamic to this book. Definitely kept me on my toes. 

I would recommend this book to EVERYONE. It is one of those that would appeal to SO MANY PEOPLE. It’s so clever and devious and delicious. I’m curious about the rest of the author’s work now… if they’re all this good I need to get them NOW (well, when September is over cause y’know book buying ban and all that!)

Have you read Loneliest Girl?
What did you make of J?
Do you think you’d cope with Romy’s life?

Let me know in the comments or on twitter! I’d love to talk about this book! 

S xx

BOOKBLOG: Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying: kept me guessing the entire time. I LOVED IT.

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“Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.
Sports star Cooper only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond.
Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.
Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.
And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about any of them again. He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it’s no accident. All of them are suspects.
Everyone has secrets, right?
What really matters is how far you’ll go to protect them.”

So I didn’t know that much about One of Us Is Lying before YALC – I had seen it being talked about and I had seen ALL OF THE PRAISE for it, but it didn’t quite ding my radar. However, having hear Karen talk about this book at YALC, I wanted to get my hands on it. I wanted to make my own judgement on it. 

It’s not a book that I would usually pick up BUT I am glad I did. My friend Kelly read this and kept telling me to read it, so I picked it up to read at the end of the #SundayYAthon (I had finished my 3 books, so was just looking for another book to tide me over). I read this book in a day. One day. All in all it probably only took me a few hoursit is THAT good.  

The story gripped me straight away – these 5 kids go into detention but one of them ends up dying and the rest of them are the suspects… what ensues is a rollercoaster of emotions, twists and turns galore and one almighty shock at the end. I personally didn’t see the suspect being the person it ends up being… I had my suspicions ALL ALONG. (Kelly had an immense amount of fun being the recipient of all of my texts about who I was suspicious of!)

I loved learning their secrets. I did not expect ANY OF THEM. 

The exploration of family relationships in this book is special too. There’s pushy dads, absent mothers, alcoholic fathers, run of the mill lovely parents, poorly sisters – all encapsulated in these 5 very complex kids. There’s scenes between father and son, with revelations really turning a father/son relationship on its head, which I loved seeing explored too. 

I loved Nate. Read this and try to tell me you don’t love Nate. Because we can’t be friends if you don’t (only kidding, but I do love him). He’s tough as a nut but then a total softie. Bronwyn was an interesting character – I definitely grew to like her. 

This book is brilliantly paced. I didn’t want to stop reading. I wanted to know what was happening at EVERY POINT. My suspicions of the killer changed every page. I just adored that. It’s such an easy book to read and read because the story is gripping

My goodreads review:

“What an absolute winner. 
Amazing plot. Characters. Stories. Surprises. Twists. I did not see them coming. I was led down many a wrong path. I had my suspicions and they were all wrong. 
All of this and a romance that I just adored? YES THANKS.”

I’d love to read more books like this! 

Have you read this?
Did you have a favourite kid?
CAN WE TALK ABOUT WHO YOU THOUGHT IT WAS?

Do you have any recommendations of books like this? Cause this was BRILLIANT and I want more like it in my life! Let me know! 

S x

#SamplerSunday

This past weekend, my friend Kelly (over at Kelly’s Ramblings) decided we would get some of the samplers we got at YALC read! It was really tough choosing the 5 we would read but in the end we came up with these:

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(I was in my trusty Starbucks, at the window, as usual on a Sunday!)

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First up, we read Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart. It was a great, very fast paced book. I was on edge the entire time reading the sampler! If the book is as fast paced as the sampler, I’m not sure my brain will be able to cope! The story seems to be very intriguing – a woman, who constantly changes her identity, running away from something and someone. The MC (Jule) is intense. I think she might be a polarising MC. I want to know more about her though, the glimpses we got I enjoyed. I will keep my eye out for this.

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Next, we read Clean by Juno Dawson. I love the look of this sampler! It was so hard to get a picture of though. The thing that struck me was the interesting dynamic between Lexi and her brother. He’s trying to help her. She’s mean and devious and doesn’t want his help, whereas he SEEMS TO BE just trying to help (blackmail does help!). Reading it I was interested and then her age is brought up and I was VERY interested. There’s quite a bit of swearing in this and I LOVED IT. This one definitely peaked my interest – I have so many questions: why is she addicted to drugs? What happened? I will definitely be buying this as soon as it comes out! 

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The third sampler we read was Tangleweed and Brine by Deirdre Sullivan. I picked this up after hearing her talk at YALC in the Fairytale panel and knew I needed to read it. I love a good fairytale. This one is based on one of my favourite fairytales of all time… one which is SO UNDERRATED – Rumplestiltskin. It took me a minute to get into it, but once I was in I was HOOKED. I loved that there was some back story and the illustration at the end was creepy and perfect. The other thing that struck me was that the girl in the story was imperfect: she has this incredible hair but she describes herself in such imperfect words. This is definitely one I’m going to be watching out for: it’s so atmospheric and beautiful that it needs to be in my life.

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Then we moved on to one of our faves, Holly Bourne. This sampler is of her new book It Only Happens in the Movies. Holly is one of my faves, she always gets it right and this sampler shows that this book should be very much of the same. There’s a brilliant speech by the MC in the sampler about women in films and it is so spot on that I wanted to cheer. Women in films are NEVER imperfect. Holly always gets this right. I really liked LouLou too. She seems like she’s going to be a great character. I have a suspicious eye on Harry. I can’t wait for this to be out in October. It’s going to be a good one. I can feel it in my bones. 

THE GRAND FINALE OF #SAMPLERSUNDAY.

For those of you who follow me on any of the social media you’ll know that Melinda Salisbury is my fave. When I heard there was going to be a sampler of her new (currently untitled) book #SorrowBook, I needed it. I needed it straight away. I have put off reading it because I knew that once I had read it, I would want to read the rest. And man was I right.

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I won’t embarrass myself by showing you the texts between Kelly and I, but suffice to say we absolutely adored and devoured this sampler. I was hooked in the first page. “A bridge built of starlight” just had me. I absolutely love Mel’s ability to instantly create a world: I always get sucked in. This world is no different. I know this is going to be an incredible book – I have a feeling there is going to be some MAJOR event happening in the book and that Sorrow will grow up to be quite the young woman. I am VERY EXCITED and March can not come soon enough. I could ramble on about this for hours. Just know I loved it and that you need to get your hands on it… if you can! (side note: I found out today it’s a duology and YAAAAAAAAAS)

Did you pick up these samplers at YALC?
What did you think of them?
Which of these 3 are you most excited about?

Let’s talk! I want to know your feels about these and any other samplers you picked up at YALC. Talk to me in the comments or on twitter! While you’re at it… take yourself over to Kelly’s post and see what she thought of these samplers – clicky click

S x

YALC haul

So… unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that this year was my first year at YALC. If you’re curious as to what my highlights of YALC were then check out my 2 posts about it: YALC #1 and YALC #2. These posts were dedicated to my highlights… today’s post is dedicated to my haul. ALL OF THE BOOKS. I hope you’re ready!

Samplers
(These are snippets of books that are to be released in the future. Generally a chapter or two)

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Hole In The Middle – Kendra Fortmeyer
Spare and Found Pars – Sarah Maria Griffin
Fire Lines – Cara Thurlbourn
The Space Between The Stars – Anne Corlett
Sorrow – Melinda Salisbury
It Only Happens In The Movies – Holly Bourne
Floored – Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson, Eleanor Wood

(also pictured: my gorgeous bag from Mel’s Books to Bags workshop… LOOK AT IT)

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Grave Matter – Juno Dawson
Clean – Juno Dawson
Hope – Rhian Ivory
A Shadowful of Shadows – Frances Hardinge
The Last Days of Archie Mazwell – Annabel Pitcher
Tangleweed and Brine – Deidre Sullivan

I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT SOME OF THESE. So so excited. Like I can’t wait for 2018 because SO MANY GOOD BOOKS. 

ARCs

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Blackbird – ND Gomes
The Truth and Lies of Ella Black – Emily Barr
There’s Someone Inside Your House – Stephanie Perkins
The Sacrifice Box – Martin Stewart
The Invasion – Paedar O’Guilin
The Arsonist – Stephanie Oakes

I wasn’t expecting to get so many ARCs! However, I was not leaving without The Invasion. Once I knew it was going to be given out, I NEEDED IT. So chuffed I got it. Can’t wait to read it!

Books I bought

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The Loneliest Girl In The World – Lauren James
(Early selling at YALC and I NEEDED TO GET ONE. Can’t wait to read this!)
One Italian Summer – Keris Stainton
(This was from my gorgeous friend Lizzie!)
Stolen – Lucy Christopher
(Someone in one of the queues recommended this to us, so Kelly and I had to buy it!)
Exodus – Julie Bertagna
(MyKindaBook were doing a ‘Mystery Book’ for £5, so I went for it! I have neither read nor heard of this, so I am excited to dig in!)

LOOK. I didn’t buy as many as I expected. And I didn’t even buy 2 of these! What a good human I am! I showed good restraint. 

So there you have it: my YALC haul. I’m sure there’s a few bits and bobs that I missed, but this is the vast majority of it!

What did you get at YALC?
Which of your books are you most excited for?
HOW EXCITED FOR FLOORED AND SORROW BOOK ARE YOU THOUGH?
(I may be a little excited)

Let me know in the comments, or on twitter! I would love to see your YALC hauls! 

S x

S4S – YALC want books

Hello! 

It’s Sunday again. How is everyone? Having a relaxing day? Tell me what you’re up to. I like a Sunday. It means it’s almost time for SundayYA. This week’s #SixforSunday theme is:

Six books YALC made me want NOW

  1. Goodbye, Perfect – Sara Barnard (out next year, boo!)
  2. Sorrow Book – Melinda Salisbury (C’MON IS IT TIME YET?!)
  3. Tanglewood and Brine – Deidre Sullivan (again, next year, boo!)
  4. Floored – Melinda Salisbury, Sara Barnard, Non Pratt, Lisa Williamson, Tanya Byrne, Eleanor Wood, Holly Bourne (still 2018. sad)
  5. Hero At The Fall – Alwyn Hamilton (2018 is winning on the book front)
  6. The Invasion – Paedar O’Guilin (I managed to get a proof of this, woop!)

What a year 2018 is turning out to be for books! So many wants!

Which books are on your want list?
Which books are you excited for in the future?

Let me know sharing them on your blog or on twitter, use the hashtag #SixforSunday! Keep your eyes peeled for an exciting #SixforSunday announcement in the next few weeks!

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