Book Events, Uncategorized

October Book Events

This month I have been to numerous book events and I really enjoyed attending all of them.

The first was an event called ‘The Brontes: Life at the Parsonage’, part of the Cheltenham Literature Festival. The event was chaired by Libby Purves and it featured Bronte biographer Juliet Barker and Lauren Livesey, who works at The Parsonage Museum. Their discussion gave a fascinating insight into the private and public lives of Branwell, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, and I enjoyed discovering little anecdotes about the famous siblings, such as the fact that Branwell could apparently write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other, while continuing a conversation in English!

I have read several of the Brontes’ novels, including Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and Agnes Grey. This means that actually I only have three books left, and then I have read all of their novels. The ones I have left are Charlotte’s other three novels: The Professor, Villette, and Shirley. I’ve started reading The Professor on my Kindle and so far it is really good. I love the way that Charlotte immediately establishes the character of the protagonist William Crimsworth’s brother, Edward. I’m particularly intrigued to read Villette, as I’ve seen some newspaper reviews of it that claim that it is by far the best of Charlotte’s novels, better than the much more famous Jane Eyre and deserving of more fame than it has received. But actually, it is Shirley that I predict I will enjoy the most, Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 12.08.09.pnghaving read a brief synopsis of it.

I read this synopsis in ‘The Brontes: their complete novels in one sitting’. This is one of a series of books that introduce a reader to all the works of a famous author – others include ones on Shakespeare, Hardy, Austen and Dickens. These are really useful little books, with a mini biography of the author, famous quotes from them and synopses for their books and stories. I definitely recommend collecting them!

Of course, once I finish reading the novels of the Bronte sisters there will still be plenty to enjoy, including all their poems and short stories. I recently saw one of Anne’s poems on Twitter and I think it’s beautiful and poignant. It’s called ‘The Captive Dove’ and the link is here:


The next three events I attended were all YA events. I went to the Bath stop of Sarah J. Maas’ ‘Empire of Storms’ tour, which was in the most beautiful venue with glittering chandeliers. It was chaired by Lucy Saxon and she asked great questions, and the event was hilarious and really enjoyable. It was the third time that I had met Sarah J. Maas, and meeting her never gets old. She was actually the first YA author I ever met.

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I then went to Laini Taylor’s event in Cheltenham. I have wanted to meet her for so long, so it was wonderful to be able to. She spoke about her upcoming novel, ‘Strange the Dreamer’, which publishes in March, as well as about her award-winning story collection, ‘Lips Touch’, and her mesmerising ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ series. She also spoke about her experiences as a writer and her writing process, which left me feeling very inspired. I loved attending her event and I am really looking forward to her return to the UK next year.

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The most recent book event I attended was actually this past Tuesday. It was the Worlds Collide London event featuring Leigh Bardugo and Rainbow Rowell. The event was great fun: Leigh and Rainbow did a hilarious reading from each of their books, told us more about their characters and writing processes, and answered lots of questions from their fans. ‘Crooked Kingdom’ is one of the very best books I’ve read this year, so it was fascinating to find out more about it – especially the fact that Kaz Brekker’s name was originally supposed to be Baz!

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This year I have been able to meet almost all of my favourite authors, whether it’s been at large events like YALC or at specific tour stops. So many YA authors have come on tour this year to the UK from the US, including, aside from the ones listed above, Rachel Caine, Jennifer L. Armentrout, V. E. Schwab. It’s been so enthusing and inspiring to meet them all, and I’m so glad that they came to the UK! I hope they’ll be back again soon!




Book Events, Uncategorized

A post-YALC post!


YALC – the Young Adult Literature Convention – happened this past weekend and it was amazing! I had the most fantastic time, as indeed I did when I attended the event for the first time last year. I left YALC feeling inspired by the authors I’d met and the panels I had watched, fulfilled because I’d looked forward to this year’s convention since the moment the last one finished and I enjoyed it just as much as the previous one – if not more! – and just…content (although I did have quite bad backache and shoulder-ache from all the books I either purchased or got for free…no matter, though, the awesome books were all definitely worth it!).

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Here are some of the things I loved about this year’s YALC!

  • YALC this year was bigger and better! Last year YALC took up only about half of the second floor of the building, but this time we had a whole floor to ourselves! There was much more space for publishing houses’ stands and for the HSK Waterstones shop. It was so much fun to walk around the whole space and browse all of the fantastic stands – there were so many wonderful books on offer at each stand and I loved being surrounded by piles and piles of novels, as well as the traditional YALC Wall of Books. 


  • FREEBIES! I queued very early on Friday morning outside YALC and the wait for the doors to open was definitely worth it as when we all entered there was a large table full of freebies, from books, samplers and proofs to wristbands and posters. What I loved most of all was that there was a bucket of wrapped up books with little teasers on them (such as ‘contemporary romance’, ‘coming of age’ etc.). The mystery of what book might be inside was really exciting and it was a lovely idea! Inside the package I picked up was a proof copy of Harriet Rooter Hapgood’s ‘The Square Root of Summer’, and I’m really looking forward to reading it as it is a book I’ve had my eye on for a while and heard good things about. Additionally, lots of the publishing stands were giving away proof copies of their upcoming novels – I was particularly excited to pick up copies of ‘The Deviants’ by C. J. Skuse which comes out in September and also a copy of ‘A Torch Against the Night’ by Sabaa Tahir – that last one had me over the moon and put a massive smile on my face because I loved ‘An Ember in the Ashes’ and I was not expecting to receive an early copy of this sequel. I’ve heard glowing reviews of both of these novels. On the Friday of YALC, I went home with 18 books (unfortunately for my back!) and at least 10 of these were free! 


  • I was also ecstatic to be able to buy slightly early copies of two of my most anticipated upcoming reads – ‘Nevernight’ by Jay Kristoff and ‘Royal Tour’ by Amy Alward. I’m currently reading ‘Royal Tour’ and having just as much fun doing so as I did reading ‘The Potion Diaries’. I also picked up samplers of ‘The Graces’ by Laure Eve and Laini Taylor’s ‘Strange the Dreamer’, both of which I am very excited to read!


  • COVER REVEALS! The covers for two of my most anticipated books of 2016 were revealed at YALC – the third book in ‘The Sin Eater’s Daughter’ series by Melinda Salisbury, which we found out is going to be called ‘The Scarecrow Queen’ (what an awesome title!)  and the cover for ‘Wing Jones’ by Katherine Webber. Both covers are stunning! Melinda Salisbury was also giving out copies of a short story she has written, set in the Sin Eater world, and I can’t wait to read that. Her storytelling skills are simply amazing!


  • It was fantastic to attend the exclusive YALC ‘A Monster Calls’ panel featuring Patrick Ness and the young actor who is going to play Conor in this upcoming film. I read ‘A Monster Calls’ just before YALC in anticipation of this event and it is a wonderfully poignant and beautifully written novel. We watched the trailer at the start of the panel and it was phenomenal. I cannot wait to see this film as it looks like it truly captures the spirit of the novel. It was really interesting to learn how the book came about – the original idea for the story was Siobhan Dowd’s – and how it was adapted for the screen, as well as to hear from Lewis about his audition experience and the challenges involved in filming this movie. 


  • All the panels I attended at YALC this year were really enjoyable and interesting. I wish I could have attended more of these and of the workshops and the events in the agents’ area, but unfortunately I could only attend the convention on the Friday and half of the Saturday this year. The panel I was most looking forward to this year was the panel about magic on Friday morning and it did not disappoint! It was fascinating to learn more about the magical systems in the novels of Sally Green, Taran Matharu, V. E. Schwab and Melinda Salisbury, and more about what inspired them to write their fantasy books. Additionally, I really enjoyed the panel about rebellions in YA – it was a very though-provoking panel as the panelists discussed the different forms of rebellion, from smaller, individual acts to large-scale acts, and also how far one can go with rebellion in YA- with regard to violence, for example. I left the panels feeling very inspired to continue my own writing projects. 


  • Finally, it was wonderful to meet the authors at YALC! I especially loved meeting V. E. Schwab as she is my absolute favourite writer – if you haven’t read ‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ or ‘This Savage Song’, correct that immediately! I asked her about her book titles as I think they are all amazing and she told me that ‘A Gathering of Shadows’ went through seventy different titles before that one was chosen. I’d never imagined that! It was also great to meet Melinda Salisbury, Taran Matharu and Alwyn Hamilton, three more of my top authors. The signing queues were very long, but the authors made time to have a conversation with each of their fans which I thought was very generous of them. I imagine their wrists must have been aching from all the signatures! 


I would like to say a huge thank you to all the team behind YALC for all their hard work and for making it such a special and fantastic event! YALC is my favourite weekend of the year and attending it and meeting authors, bloggers, vloggers, readers and publishers brought me great joy. It also reminded me of what a warm, inclusive and welcoming community the book community is and how wonderful it feels to be a part of that. I’m already excited for next year’s event….but in the mean time I am going to read the twenty or so books I got at this year’s event! 

Book Events, Uncategorized

Advice for YALC!

Last year I attended YALC – the Young Adult Literature Convention – in London for the first time and I absolutely loved it. It was amazing to meet the authors of some of my favourite books, including Marie Rutkoski, Melinda Salisbury, Moira Young and Cassandra Clare. I loved watching panels and hearing about different authors’ experiences and writing advice . These panels left me feeling very inspired and eager to write more of my own writing projects. I also attended a talk by agents about the road to publishing a novel and this was both really interesting and really useful; I made lots of notes!

In short, I had the best time at YALC and I am bursting with excitement for this year’s convention. I will be there for the Friday and Saturday – I have a weekend ticket and would have loved to go for the whole weekend but I have another engagement on the Sunday. I wanted to write this post about what I learned from my first YALC experience particularly for people who are going for the first time this year as it contains some pieces of advice that I wish I had known before going last year, as well as some things that I will be doing the same this year.

Here are my top five bits of advice; I hope you find them useful!


When I went to YALC last year I didn’t have a twitter account and I think that it would have been really useful to have one during the convention. It makes it really easy to stay updated with all things YALC if you follow the main YALC account and there is lots of information on there about finding the building, what entrance to use and what’s happening. This is really useful especially if you’re travelling to the convention on your own and you’re a bit nervous, as I was.

There’ll also be lots of bloggers tweeting about what the authors are saying in panels, which is really interesting, too, and best of all sometimes there are competitions for people at YALC which are posted on twitter – for example, some publisher stands present at YALC post on twitter a key word that you can come to the stand and say in order to win goodies! I found there were lots of these competitions on the final day of YALC – the  Sunday.


Most of the publishing stands only take cash not cards, so it is really important that you bring some notes or some change with you if you want to buy anything – I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be tempted to buy more books (no matter how many you have brought with you!) as soon as you enter YALC, which is on the top floor of the building, because as soon as you walk in you are greeted by a multitude of fabulous stands from different publishing companies (as well as Waterstones) which are full of fantastic reads! Last year, within maybe a quarter of an hour of walking into YALC, I had two more bags full of books.

Last year I purchased the majority of the books I wished to have signed in advance of YALC  (or I already had them) and I brought them with me. However, it is always useful to also bring some money with you in case you decide to buy more books to get signed. I found that sitting in on panels and hearing the authors talk about their books made me really want to buy and read the said books. In particular, I really wished to purchase and have signed ‘The Potion Diaries’ by Amy Alward after hearing about the author’s inspirations for this novel. I bought it straight after the panel and I’m so glad that I did – I read it after YALC and I loved it!

In addition to bringing cash, I’d advise that you bring lots of water and snack food, as it can be hot both inside the venue and outside when you are waiting in the queue to get in (suncream might be useful too – although when you are queuing it might be quite early in the morning, I have very fair skin and get worried that if I am standing in the same place for a while I will burn). Because it is a long day you can also get very hungry.


Last year I went to YALC with a large rucksack. This was useful in that it could fit a lot of books and clothes in (I went straight to YALC from Paddington Station so I had all my things for staying over in London with me at the event on the first day, and all my books for all three days) and I still had my hands free. However, what I hadn’t anticipated was that, because I was wearing tops without sleeves, the straps of the rucksack rubbed my shoulders and this was irritating and quite painful. I got backache quite quickly, too. Additionally, my hands weren’t free because I immediately bought more books and had to carry them in other bags!

What YALC do which is really helpful is that, if you have a weekend ticket, they give you a YALC cloth bag, which is not only really pretty and nice to have as a memento of the event, but it is easy to carry and can actually fit a surprising amount of books and other items in it. I think actually this year I will bring a main bag which can go over my shoulders (and isn’t a rucksack or suitcase) and will bring inside it several cloth bags. Luckily I’m travelling on the Thursday so will only have on the Friday the books for that day with me, rather than all my books for the whole weekend as I did last year.

If you find during YALC that your bag is painful, take a seat, have a rest for a bit and put it down beside you. This is one of the great things about panels – not only are they fascinating because you hear from all the awesome authors, but they are also a chance to sit down and relax for about 40 minutes. There’s also a really great space next to a wall of books where you can sit down on deck chairs, and there is plenty of room on the floor next to the signing areas as well. You can also take your bag off and keep it near to you when you are in the signing queues, and you can also sit down while waiting in them if you wish to.

It might be a good idea to think about what kind of bag you will take – suitcase, backpack, handbag etc- before you travel to YALC and to fill it with books just so you can get a feel of how easy it will be to manoeuvre and whether it will be uncomfortable to have with you for the whole day.


One thing I didn’t pick up on or consider until quite far into last year’s YALC is that, if you want to be at the front of an author’s signing queue, you can just not go to their panel and queue up about 40 minutes before in front of the table with their name on. This helps to speed you up as you avoid the rush of everyone leaving the panel and joining the signing queues. It’s therefore really useful if you want to see numerous authors in a particular signing slot as it guarantees you will have more time to get round them all, but it is a shame to miss an author’s panel, particularly if they are one of your favourite authors. It depends what your priority is and what your timings are. Last year I did a bit of both, sometimes going to the panel and then queuing for longer, sometimes not going to the panel and being further ahead in the queue. I tended to do the latter when it was the last event I wanted to go to for that day.

It’s a good idea to keep a keen eye out for any signing queues that are being ticketed. This very rarely happens but if a particular author is very popular and the queue is likely to be very busy, you go to their signing table, pick up a numbered ticket and come back later. This happened last year for Cassandra Clare, but I didn’t realise straight away that the queue was being ticketed and so I was just waiting near to the table. I therefore nearly missed getting a ticket, which would have been really sad as she was one of the authors I was most excited about meeting! There may not be any audible announcements about an author’s queue being ticketed (although things might be different this year) so keep an eye  on the signing table, on the twitter page (@yalc_uk), and also ask others if you are unsure.

Additionally, if you are in a signing queue on your own and wish to have a photo taken with the author, don’t be afraid to ask the person behind you in the queue! Everyone is very friendly and will likely be very willing to take a picture for you. There will also probably be people who work for the event at hand to ask. Make sure there’s room for lots of photos on your phone, that your phone is charged and that you back up your pictures where you can in case your phone gets lost. You can get for iphones cases which act as portable chargers, and they are perfect for events like this.


Finally, YALC is such a wonderful event and it only comes around once a year, so make sure you make the most of it! Have a good look at the timetables before you go and make sure you not only look at the panels and signings, but also at the agent and workshop area events. I only went to one talk last year, Publishing 101, and I wish I’d gone to more. You sign up for these on the day. Last year there were also things happening around the floor – you could get your hair done like Lorali and have Shadowhunter runes painted on you. There’s so much going on at YALC and so much to enjoy, so do as much as you can!

Additionally, don’t be afraid of making conversation with the person next to you in a signing queue or panel. Everyone in the book community is so friendly, inclusive and welcoming, and remember – you are among like-minded individuals who share your love of YA fiction, so you probably have a lot in common and lots to talk about! It doesn’t matter if you attend YALC on your own because there are so many wonderful and welcoming people that you are unlikely to feel lonely.

Also, if you need any help about YALC in general, there is an information point near to the entrance and the people there are happy to help, or, if you would like some more information before the event, you can ask questions to the YALC twitter account. Additionally, if you need help with choosing books from the fantastic array on all the different stands around the room, the booksellers and publishers will be very willing to advise you.

Before you know it, YALC will be over for another year, so chat to as many people as you can and join in with as much as you can! It’s a fantastic event for book lovers, and every day I attended YALC last year I both went and came back buzzing with excitement. I’m feeling that excitement now and cannot wait for YALC 2016 to begin!