Sunday 26 July 2015


This post is perhaps a tad late, but last weekend was the excellent YALC, and it was such a good experience this year that I have to write about it! YALC - the Young Adult Literature Convention that is also a part of the larger LFCC - is in it's second year, and they really improved upon the first one. Of course I enjoyed the first one a lot last year (you can see that post here if you really want to), but it was better organised and less crowded this year which made it a much more smooth and much less stressful experience! It also helped that I wasn't carrying a ridiculous amount of books around with me like I did last year.

(Books and some of the swag that I acquired! The books are Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne, Lobsters by Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen, Stone Rider by David Hofmeyer, Counting Stars by Keris Stainton, The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle, Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher and These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly!)

(Jo (@jowearsoldcoats), me and Bella (@cheezyfeetbooks). Picture credit to Michelle (@cloverness))

I can't really remember much of what I did at YALC because my memory is a bit shit and I didn't write anything down, but I shall try and recap things as best I can! 

Bella and I met up at the station on the Saturday and made the journey to Kensington Olympia, the new location for LFCC and YALC which seemed much more spacious because it was spread out over floors instead of all out in the same area. The YALC space was up on the second floor which had carpet and EVERYTHING so that was pleasant, and it was also a lot less busy than the main floor of LFCC. When we did eventually make it down to look at the stalls and shop around I was shocked by how much quieter (and less pungent) the YALC floor was. Anyway, I went to a few panels on the Saturday as there weren't any signings that I really wanted to go to, as well as going to the Hunger Games quiz at the end of the day. The Being a Girl panel (the panelists were Holly Smale, Malorie Blackman, Hayley Long, Laura Dockrill and it was chaired by Anna James) was probably my favourite, mainly because discussions about feminism in books and YA especially is always interesting to listen to, and there were some really great points made. There was also Carrie Hope Fletcher's panel (Samantha Shannon, Malorie Blackman and Holly Smale were on this panel as well) which was fun. It was mainly a discussion of why they wanted to be writers and talking about writing which was fun enough. We also just spent a lot of time pottering about looking at the publisher stands (which were great!) and chatting to other bloggers etc. The Hunger Games quiz was fun but I have a deathly fear of audience participation so I spent most of it constantly on edge that Caesar Flickerman was going to try and talk to me.

Like last year, the Sunday was probably my favourite day, even if I was quite tired and I accidentally slept in missing all but the last 10 minutes of the Blogger Brunch that morning. I still made it in time to pick up a goodie bag though, which had Jennifer Donnelly's new historical YA in it that I am DYING to read. We also got a 20% off voucher at the Waterstones at YALC which is where I picked up Am I Normal Yet?, Lobsters and The Accident Season for the signings that day. I also went to the Bringing Sexy Back panel (Non Pratt, Lucy Ivison, Tom Ellen, Louise O'Neill and James Dawson dressed as naked Danerys Targaryan complete with modesty dragons - one of which I'm pretty sure was Toothless. IS NOTHING SACRED, JAMES?) which was a lot of fun, as one would expect with that line up. As well as that, I went to the Fantasy panel (Ben Aaronvitch, Melinda Salisbury, Sally Green, Frances Hardinge and J P Smythe) which was interesting, but I was also sitting quite far back so couldn't really hear that much of it. It was a lovely day and I enjoyed the panels that I went to and the signings that I went to!

I can't really think of anything negative about this years YALC personally. I had a great weekend, I got to see bookish people, it felt a lot smoother than last year, I got books and I feel more passionate about books and the bookish community than I have for a while. Thanks so much to the YALC team who work so hard and who created a truly lovely experience! I hope to see you again next year, YALC!

Monday 6 July 2015

Some Stuff That I Like - Part 1

Correct, that is the vaguest of all vague titles but contrary to blog evidence, I have actually been reading stuff and watching stuff in all this time that I have not been making blog posts of mixed quality about the stuff that I have read. THIS IS THAT BLOG POST. Because I seem to have forgotten how to write actual reviews (??? I know but every time I sit down to write one it just seems like the worst, most poorly written and boring thing that I could possibly be doing. Sadly, this leads to a complete lack of blog posts because I'm not reading enough to do round up type things and I never have any ideas so????? I just do nothing?????) I thought I'd just do a big old round up of some stuff that I have liked recently so I don't feel like 100% a fraud. Just, like, 87% a fraud.


I have been relatively slow on the reading front because, well I don't know why actually. It's not uni because that wrapped up a while ago. And it's not that I don't want to read, because I do. It's just that nothing is appealing to me and I can't settle down and read a thing and I don't know how I always used to have at least one book on the go and then just went immediately into reading another one without really thinking too hard about it. I was so excited about summer because of all the time I'd have to do things but it stresses me out how much time I have because I want to do so much that I get nothing done at all. ANY HOO. This is not what any of us wanted, so have some recs instead.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli - I finished this book and then wanted to start rereading it immediately after. IT IS SO CUTE. I said this on Twitter many times while I was reading it and I'll say it again. It is the cutest darn book on this earth and I had the goofiest fucking smile on my face when I was reading it and it just made me so happy. I don't know if I liked everything about it, but that didn't matter to me when I was reading it because I was enjoying myself so much. It is a fun book and it is a cute book and it made me smile so you should read it. If it can touch my cold dead heart then there's no escaping it.

And now for some LGBT+ books which I also loved but are maybe not as joy-giving as Simon: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera and I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, coincidentally both yellow books because they want to trick you into thinking you'll have a pleasant time reading them. WRONG. YOU'LL JUST CRY but you'll love it so it won't bother you that much. I definitely liked More Happy Than Not more than IGYtS (even though they're not actually that comparable). There was something about Aaron and his life and his world that struck more of a chord with me than the twins in Nelson's book, and I think this is partially due to the writing style. Nelson has such a gorgeous style, but I personally found that to be a bit of a barrier between me and the characters. It sometimes felt that they were so buried in whimsy that there wasn't much else there? It is beautiful to read, though, and I know that there are a whole bunch of people out there who'll disagree with me. MHTN definitely just drew me in a lot more, though. It's probably one of my favourite books of the year, even if it is not a particularly happy one.

And while we're on the subject of books that are not particularly happy, let me draw your attention to All the Rage by Courtney Summers. It is a punch to the gut, but the best punch to the gut you'll ever get in your life. It is upsetting and hard to read and brutally honest and so angry and it is hard to look away from. When I was reading it I became so immersed in Romy's anger and Courtney Summers' anger at the injustice of it all. Summers is always good at tackling difficult subjects and equally difficult heroines, but she really blows it out of the park here. Romy is so engaging as a character regardless of whether you agree or disagree with her actions, whether you like or don't like her. I just love this book.

Now just to mix it up a bit, I'm going to end this on my favourite book of the past few evers, Uprooted by Naomi Novik. If you follow me on Twitter, you will have seen me going on about Uprooted pretty much all the time, and that is because it felt like it was written just for me. There are so many things that I love about this book - the main character Nieszka, the Dragon and the way it gently subverts your expectations. It feels familiar, but never old fashioned. There is the most stunning friendship between Nieszka and her friend Kasia, probably one of my favourite friendships in a book ever. It's my favourite kind of fantasy, and even if I did have some issues with the pacing at the end, that could never stop me from loving Uprooted in the way that I do. If you are reading this, and you have read Uprooted already and loved it because you are a good and sensible human being, please let me know if you have any recs for similar sort of books! I would thank you forever.

As the title would suggest, I'm hoping to do a couple more posts covering comics, games, films and TV shows that I've liked lately, if that would be of any interest? I really do want to get back into blogging at least slightly more frequently than I have been this past year!

Sunday 12 April 2015

It's UKYA Day, Hooray!

It's that wonderful time of year where, thanks to the wonderful Lucy (Queen of Contemporary) we get to celebrate the wonderful world of UKYA! 

UKYA has always been important to me (and by always I mean basically since I started reading YA and blogging because I wasn't actually aware of the concept of UKYA until then), and I think that this is mainly because it always seems more real to me. It presents a reality that is closer to my personal experiences than a lot of US books, which is not to compare them in quality. UKYA contemporary in particular always just seems to have the right tone and sense of humour that just makes it seem that much more real to me as a British teenager. There's also a great sense of diversity in UKYA that keeps getting stronger as books like Trouble and Remix by Non Pratt, Starring Kitty by Keris Stainton and The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson are released, and I sincerely hope that diversity increases in all YA. Those are all also brilliant books that you should read right now if you haven't already (apart from Remix which you should read as soon as it comes out on the 4th of June)
The Art of Being Normal,
about a trans teen
                                                                                                                              This has all been a bit contemp-oriented, but UKYA is also great for inventive and fun fantasy, sci-fi, horror, dystopia. You name it, we've probably got it (though you may want to refer to someone who actually knows about more recent/forthcoming release because I am ever so slightly out of the loop!) James Dawson is always good if you are looking for fun, creepy horror with books like Say Her Name and Under My Skin, though he's also making a move into contemporary with All of the Above which comes out later this year and will be LGBT+ (not to be confused with I. W. Gregorio's None of The Above, which I keep on doing mentally...). If you like disturbing Dystopian horror, then the winner of the first ever YA Book Prize, Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill is for you. It is one of the most unsettling books that I have read, but it is absolutely worth it. A truly chilling look at a future that feels all too close to the world now, and an excellent feminist book. If fantasy is what really gets you going, then I am always here to recommend Zoe Marriott's books. Personal favourites include FrostFire and Shadows on the Moon, and if urban fantasy is more your thing, then there's also her Name of the Blade Trilogy, the final book of which will be released in July, so there's plenty of time for you to catch up and join in the eager wait for it. There's also Laure Eve's Fearsome Dreamer duology, which has one of the most interesting worlds and genuinely mind-blowing plots that I've read in ages.  

This is pretty much the briefest of brief overviews of what UKYA has to offer, but it's not a bad place to start if you're looking to start reading UKYA. There'll be Q&A's all day with authors, as well as a couple of liveshows, all you need to do is check out the #UKYAday hashtag which I'm sure will be busy all day. There also several other brilliant posts celebrating UKYA today, so make sure to check those out! Have a happy UKYA Day, and may there be many more!                               

Monday 6 April 2015

A Darker Shade of Magic review

A Darker Shade of Magic
V. E. Schwab
February 24th 2015
Tor Books

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit. 

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

It is no secret to anyone who has spoken to me since I have read this book that I absolutely loved this book. I knew from the moment it was announced that it was going to be great, especially as Vicious had just been so good. I was right, as per, but I think anyone who reads that blurb and looks at that cover knows that they're in for a goodun'. I loved this book so much that I've come out of my sad university cave to spread the word, even if it is about a month late. 

There are many things about ADSOM that I love greatly. It's not a perfect book, but it is good and it is fun and what more do you want from a book, really? The characters were what really made ADSOM come to life, for me. And I think that it speaks to the quality of this book and to Schwab's skills that she can take characters that feel familiar and turn them into something new and fun. The tropes are there, but they never feel old or lazy or poorly used. It is difficult to pick a favourite of of Kell, Lila, Rhy and Holland because I genuinely loved them all so much. They all work so well together as a kind of unit in that it is their interactions with each other that really bring them alive. There is also more room for humour in this book then there perhaps was in Vicious which definitely helps to ease the reader into the world and into liking the characters, regardless of whether you agree with their actions. There is also mucho shipping potential in this book despite the lack of actual romance. I myself am partial to Holland/anyone, Kell/Rhy, Rhy/Lila. Rhy/Kell/Lila... Basically every possible combination. I have no shame. 

The world is incredible. It is built so well, and world building is very important to me. I felt like I had a real sense of the three main different Londons, the magic and the rules behind that magic and the logic of the world. It's not too complicated or convoluted, and the rules are firmly set up in a way that isn't info dumpy. That, and it's a fun a world. Who doesn't want to read a fantasy book about parallel Londons? WHO. It's a cool idea and it's brought to life in a great way, and even if the characters were what made this book for me, the world is a very close second. There are such distinct differences between the Londons, and they are all so beautifully drawn out, each with their own positives and their own drawbacks. Even Red London, seemingly the best with its relationship with magic is problematic in other ways. And I really like the whole interdimensional politics aspect of the book, the history of these Londons and their relationships with each other and how they get along now. Even though I figure they're probably kind of irrelevent, I'm also interested to know about the larger worlds of Red and White London, and how they have developed in comparison to Grey London (our 18th century London)

I enjoyed the pacing and the plot a lot, but for me this was also where I had some qualms. Personally, I thought the ending was too neat which is not essentially a negative, but I feel like this came at the cost of a (admittedly fairly small) plot thread. I haven't seen this brought up though so it's probably just me being a fusspot/not actually realising what was going on. It didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book, though. The pace is so fast and the world, the characters, the plot so engrossing that small issues didn't really bother me at all. There's also a lot of perfectly distracting angst in ADSOM, which is always good. I love me some good angst. Not too much angst, not too little angst. The fic writers are going to have a field day with ADSOM, let me tell you.

All in all, A Darker Shade of Magic was about as good as I was hoping it would be (ie, BRILLIANT), and I am so gosh darn excited about the sequel already that I might explode a bit when it actually comes out. Long story short, READ THIS BOOK. If you haven't already, that is. It has been out for over a month. You really should have already read ADSOM, let's be real. It's so pretty. Okay, I've stopped making sense. This book is turning me into an incoherent mess.

Sunday 8 March 2015

Some (Brief) Thoughts on the UKYABAs

So, if you are part of the UKYA blogging community, you probably definitely know that the UKYABAs were this weekend! It was so much fun to actually see people again because I haven't been to an event or anything for months, and I have missed being around book people a lot. It was also such a lovely event, and I so glad for all the winners because I can't even imagine the amount of work and passion that they put into what they do! I have rarely felt as proud of the UKYA community of so glad to be even a tiny part of it as I was last night, surrounded by some amazing bloggers and just great people. Plus there was cake and a special deal for us on the books that night!

I was technically nominated for best teen blogger, so I would feel like a bit of a dick if I didn't say thanks for that - so, thanks! I genuinely did not expect to be considered for anything, and even if I feel completely undeserving, I appreciated it so much! 

Anyway, I've really not got that much to say other than CONGRATULATIONS to all the winners, and everyone really. You all deserve it! And also thank you to Andy Robb for organizing the whole shebang, as well as High Street Kensington Waterstones, as well as all the publishers involved and authors. What a swell bunch of people. And that it was just such a lovely experience!

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