YALC 2017

I had such an amazing time at YALC, it was my first time going and I went with my best friend Hannah (She has a blog and youtube). It ran from the 28th-30th July, and we had three day passes, and I am now absolutely exhausted after it!

Friday 28th

My train left my hometown at 7:08am, so needless to say it was an early start for me (5:30 was when my alarm went off!). I got to Olympia, where YALC was held, for about 9:15 though, so that wasn’t too bad. Hannah arrived not long after and we headed in straight away to get our wristbands. Because we were in quite early we got a YALC tote bag with various samplers and goodies in, which we got signed by the authors across the weekend. We both also bought lanyards to pin the badges that we had on, as most stands were giving away free badges!

We started off the signings with Hannah Witton, and proceeded to get so many signatures that I honestly can’t remember the order. A highlight was being Katherine Webber’s first YALC signing as I absolutely adored her book Wing Jones (I’d highly, highly recommend it!).

We also went for a wander around all of the stalls, looking at all of the free samplers and merch they were giving out. From the Fairyloot stall I got a candle (and a cushion cover on the Saturday). There were all sorts of competitions and things going on to get various arcs, one of which I won – I had to put a picture on twitter using a hashtag and they picked a winner at the end of the day (I won an arc of Things a Bright Girl Can Do).

We stayed in an airbnb for the first night, which was basic but had everything we needed and we just headed back to get an early night as we were both exhausted!

Saturday 29th

We headed out pretty early and got to YALC not long after it had opened, after stopping for breakfast on our walk there. It was easier to get in this time as we already had our wristbands, and we went straight in, wandering around the stalls (and Waterstones), and planning who to meet.

Hannah and I popped down to Comic-con for a little while, though I was very out of my depth as I have little interest in pretty much everything comic-con focuses on! It was still great to see however, especially seeing the effort that went into people’s cosplay. Would I go just for comic-con? No. Am I glad I have been? Yes.

We also met Sanne from the channel booksandquills (which I adore) and I’m quite proud I approached her, as I was too scared to approach other youtubers! She seemed so friendly (and indeed turned out to be once we spoke to her!) which made me more comfortable, and I’m so so glad we said hi as she was so lovely and had a picture with us.

V. E. Schwab and Laini Taylor were both signing on this day, and as Hannah was participating in a competition I met them to get our books signed. Later that day, they were part of a panel called ‘Books That Made Me’, which was really great to listen to (especially listening to V. E. Schwab basically fangirling over and recounting her stories of meeting Neil Gaiman).

Straight after the panel, Non Pratt shaved her head for charity, which was hilarious to watch as everyone was having a laugh. Not only that, but Benedict Cumberbatch walked in part way through and looked very bemused!

Sunday 30th

I started off the sunday alone at YALC as Hannah was at a baking event as part of her prize for the mentioned competition. The previous night we’d stayed in a fancy hotel courtesy of MyKindaBook (as part of Hannah’s prize) and it was gorgeous!

I went to a lot of signings in the morning, and generally wandered around for a bit, somehow managing to get myself an arc of The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven which I desperately wanted and had been trying to get all weekend. (I’ve started it already and it’s so so fab).

I got Countless signed by Karen Gregory, which was a book I adored and really hoped to get signed, and I also got a load signed by Non Pratt (two for Hannah and three for me – I’d got Truth or Dare signed on the Friday), and honestly she was one of the nicest people I think I have ever met. She was super chatty, which was lovely as I was on my own and can be a bit shy, and just generally seemed to be a lovely person (although pretty much everyone there seemed to be!).

Hannah joined me at around 1:30 ish (honestly I can’t really remember) – just after I’d met Sarah Crossan and gushed about how much I love her writing (oops) – bearing brownies, so we grabbed some drinks, nachos, and seats and took a moment from the crowds. We went to a few more signings; Moira Fowley-Doyle (who was so lovely – again), and Patrick Ness, who was the big name of the Sunday. We were lucky as they were handing out tickets with numbers on and we were fairly early on in the queue, and I know it got very long just in the short while we were watching them give them out. Patrick Ness was great, and as we finished up at YALC so early we went back down to comic-con to have a better look around. I still felt like a fish out of water, but it was quieter so much, much nicer to wander around and take it all in!

Thoughts

YALC was genuinely such an amazing experience and I’m so glad I went. I’m also very glad I took a large suitcase that was very empty on my way down because I gained / bought so many books whilst there (oops). It was fantastic to meet so many authors of books that I’d loved, and the community feel was strong, I noticed how everyone was comfortable and happy, which was so so good.

Hannah and I are already hoping to go next year (though for two or three days depends on whether I manage to get an internship or not!), and we’ve definitely learned a lot about what to do, how to organise it etc. Whether I could have managed a fourth day, I highly doubt, as I was absolutely exhausted – I got home at nearly 10pm on the Sunday night. It’s extremely intense for the three days, but so worth it.

You can view my book haul from YALC over on my Youtube channel: https://youtu.be/I6X_QfZ_hUU

August TBR 2017

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Whilst there may not be as many books on this TBR as last month, I’d say it’s equally as ambitious! I had a hard time narrowing down the few that I wanted to read most so this is subject to change, as I have got so many books that I’m excited about.

American Gods – Neil Gaiman

The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven

The Book of Luce – L. R. Fredericks 

Moxie – Jennifer Mathieu 

After the Fire – Will Hill

Orbiting Jupiter – Gary D. Schmidt 

Trouble – Non Pratt

I also hope to finish Les Misérables so that I can start on my reading list for uni (my 19th century Russian Lit module), as I don’t want to have that and loads of other long, dense books on the go at the same time. I haven’t added the books from the list to my TBR as I’m just going to work through them at a pace I can manage!

Top 3 June Reads 2017

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I read a total of nine books this month, which I’m happy with – though I wish I’d managed to read maybe a couple more. Nine is still really good for me though, so I’m not complaining too much! A lot of the books that I read I really enjoyed, and I didn’t give less than four stars, which is great!

BronzeStranger, Baby – Emily Berry

Oh my word this poetry collection was beautiful, I loved it so much. It is complex, I will say that, but I fell completely in love with it and can’t wait to reread it / pick up more by the poet! I highly, highly recommend it and totally agree with the hype it’s had.

SilverCountless – Karen Gregory

THIS. It focuses on both teenage pregnancy and eating disorders and let me tell you, it’s amazing. It’s difficult to read at times because of the subject matter, but it’s well worth it. I love books where romance isn’t the main focus of them, and this is definitely true for Countless – it is only hinted at very rarely – and it made me love it more as the focus was on the issues Hedda faces and that’s how it should be.

GoldThe Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

Need I say more? It lives up to the hype and the importance of this novel alone is enough to put it first on the list! It’s wonderful, challenging in so many ways, but an absolute must-read. If you’re unsure because of the hype or for whatever reason, pick it up. Even if you don’t enjoy it for the plot itself or the writing etc, the message it holds makes this book incredible.

 

 

July TBR 2017

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Okay so this month I have a huge TBR – my friend Hannah (over at Sprinkledwithwords!) and I are going to YALC at the end of the month so I’m trying to read as many as possible by authors that will be there. There are a couple of others that I’d really love to get to soon as well. It’s ambitious, but I’ve nothing else to do with my time so I’m going for it!

Physical books (not for YALC)

The Girls – Emma Cline (not pictured)

I have been wanting to read this since it came out and the paperback has finally been released so I’m super excited!

The Power – Naomi Alderman

I thought this looked good when I was looking at it on the new releases stand in Waterstones – then it won the Baileys women’s prize for fiction, so I guess it’s a must-read.

American Gods – Neil Gaiman

I started this a while back and was really enjoying it – I’m not too sure why I haven’t picked it back up but I want to finish it in July.

Loved – P. C. and Kristen Cast (Not pictured as it hasn’t been released yet!)

A NEW HOUSE OF NIGHT BOOK. A NEW HOUSE OF NIGHT BOOK.

YALC physical books

The Art of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson

Wing Jones – Katherine Webber (this has the most gorgeous sprayed edges!)

The Pearl Thief – Elizabeth Wein

Ink – Alice Broadway

A Darker Shade of Magic – V. E. Schwab

The Square Root of Summer – Harriet Reuter Hapgood

YALC ebooks

The State of Grace – Rachael Lucas

One of Us is Lying – Karen McManus

The Graces – Laure Eve

The Bone Season – Samantha Shannon

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin

One final ebook (I have to read it by July 15th)

The Ethan I was Before – Ali Standish

Review: The Princess Saves Herself in This One – Amanda Lovelace

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Genre: poetry, feminism, non-fiction

Publication Date: April 23rd 2016 by CreateSpace

Format: eARC from Andrews McMeel Publishing via Netgalley

A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.

(from goodreads.com)


The message in this collection is one of the most powerful I’ve read in a while. Every poem in here just screams empowerment and they really spoke to me. Some of the words in here I felt I really needed to read, and that’s why I loved this collection so much.

This whole book centres around the idea that women should be proud of who they are as females – in fact people should just be proud of themselves – and that they don’t need to depend on anyone to lift them up, so to speak. The title of the book really does sum it up. It is a story that is personal to the author – their own story of escaping abuse and finding empowerment – and thus I don’twant to say too much on the actual story, other than that it is incredible and inspiring.

The main issue I had with this book was the actual writing itself. Technicalities, I guess. As a creative writing student who primarily focuses on poetry, I do query whether some of the poems are truly poems – though I am most certainly not alone in thinking this and conclude that it is an issue that cannot be ignored and put down to pickiness.

Let me say this now: pressing enter after every line does not make a poem. What the ‘poem’ is saying is absolutely wonderful – the words themselves work beautifully. But leave it as a sentence maybe. It would work so, so much better. If you read other anthologies in a similar style, you’ll realise that a new line is begun because the word is particularly relevant, because starting a new line at that point symbolises something. I was often reading these poems and feeling as though enter was pressed haphazardly after a paragraph had been written – keep it as a paragraph.

I still loved this though. It was beautiful, heartfelt, and powerful, and something that I really felt that everyone should read (I then went and nagged my friend to read it!). Just because I didn’t feel as though the formatting of the words was relevant or particularly well executed, I definitely do not feel the same way about the words written and the messages within the book. Will I be picking up more by this author? Definitely. I’m looking forward as well to seeing how her poetry style improves and changes in her next book.

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars.

Review: Somewhere in Between – Katie Li

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Genre: YA, fantasy

Publication Date: August 25th 2015 by Kung Fu Girl Books

Format: eARC from Broad Universe via Netgalley

Two friends find a portal to another dimension and use this “in-between place” to avoid the stress of their everyday lives. What they don’t realize is that every time they enter, they alter reality. 

Pseudo-punk Magnolia and underachieving gamer-geek Rom are two unlikely friends who only hang out during their walks home together after school. When they find the a portal that leads to different worlds, they use the “in-between place” as an escape from their lives in high school, then later, after college. 

Their visits through the portal bring them teetering along a tight-rope of fantasy and reality, where they don’t always believe what is in front of them, not even their feelings for each other. 

The book is about changes—the ones that you can control, and the ones that you can’t. It’s about commitment and friendship. It’s about the stages in between where you have nothing but the unknown ahead of you.

Inspired by the work of Haruki Murakami and films like Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, Somewhere In Between is metaphysical coming-of-age story about defining love and finding yourself.

(from goodreads.com


I feel that the best way I can describe this book is confusing. I read it a while ago, and I freely admit that a year of uni has got in the way of me remembering this clearly, but even then, I distinctly remember being very confused as I actually read this book.

That being said, the concept was extremely interesting and I feel as though this book is definitely for someone who enjoys reading books that are ambiguous, odd and have a very fine line between what is real and what isn’t. That person isn’t me, though I still found it interesting. I’m that person who likes my questions answered (although I equally love philosophy, so who knows what I actually like), and when certain events happened in this book I struggled to work out whether the characters were deceived or whether they had actually happened. One thing I can’t stand is being confused by a book. (Again, just me – I’m also very easily confused, it’s actually frustrating).

I found the writing to be quite choppy, with the flitting between times and memories and places, all adding to the confusion. I found myself getting quite mixed up with what was going on and also as to who was who as a result of this. As for the writing itself, there was something lovely about it, though I couldn’t say what – it was just really pleasant to read.

The characters were very unique and I liked their quirks and differences, it made it easier to distinguish between them. Magnolia in particular I liked for her uniqueness and how she stood out from all of the other characters.

This was an okay read, though I didn’t enjoy it so much as I repeatedly got confused and honestly I don’t really know what happened. However it was also enjoyable if you take it for what it is; an ambiguous story where reality is distorted, and that is why my rating isn’t that low. Not everyone would enjoy this, but it’s okay, not everyone has to. If you’re the kind of person who likes a book that is different and slightly odd, mixed up with a contemporary feel, then this is probably for you.

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars.

Review: Beautiful Broken Things – Sara Barnard

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Genre: YA, contemporary

Publication Date: February 25th 2016 by Macmillan Children’s Books

Format: eARC from Pan Macmillan via Netgalley

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

(From goodreads.com)


I really enjoyed this book, I’m saying it now. I’ve since read Sara Barnard’s second book and loved that probably even more. It focuses on friendship and trauma and family and it really was a great read. Not that it doesn’t have problems, but it was really difficult to put down.

The principle problem I had with this book was Caddy. Honestly, this would probably have been a five star book without her. I understand unlikeable characters, such as Suzanne’s aunt (others may disagree with me here but her seeing Suzanne as a burden was just cruel after all she’d been through), but Caddy was ridiculous in some parts. She’s jealous of her best friend Rosie and her sister Tarin because her Rosie lost her baby sister when she was younger and Tarin is bipolar. I just cannot fathom how someone can be jealous of either of these things – she wants to be interesting, fine, but does she honestly want either of these things to happen to her? Really?!

Caddy is just selfish and shallow, she provokes Suzanne despite having researched what triggers mean and knowing that she will hurt her. I know there are people in the world who would act that way but I’d bet that they’re in general not nice people, but Caddy is portrayed throughout as a decent human being. It’s kind of confusing. Basically she’s jealous of Suzanne, jealous that Rosie has a new friend, jealous that Suzanne has had something happen to her in her life, regardless of the pain and upheaval it has resulted in. In short, she’s just jealous.

On the other hand, I loved the characters of Rosie and Suzanne, the latter in particular. Suzanne’s story was heartbreaking and painful and about recovery and it was so much more interesting that the main storyline. (Caddy’s life goal was to get a boyfriend. No, she’s not twelve). Rosie was a great character too, a little simple at times, but I felt that it was just the way she is; seeing the good in everything and wanting to do the best for everyone.

So much was happening in this book, with everything linking in places, but I found that I didn’t get confused. Barnard is such a wonderful writer and it was such a compelling read – I just wanted to read on and on and on, regardless of whatever stupid thing Caddy said or thought. It was genuinely such an enjoyable book and I was dragged in by the plot and its fast pace. I’d highly recommend this to any lover of contemporary YA, and Barnard has definitely become an auto-buy author.

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars.