Bookish Event: YALC 2017 Top Ten :)

I went to my first every YALC this year!! YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention is part of London Film and ComicCon, has been running each year since 2014. So really it is a wonder I haven’t been already! Tbh I didn’t really know what to expect – I mean, I’d been fielding tips and suggestions from others who’d been before, had obsessively planned my schedule as soon as the programme had been released, and read blog posts on past event, but I still wasn’t sure what the whole thing would look like…

Turns out nothing could have prepped me for this three-day bonanza! This is just a snapshot of my YALC haul! I managed to catch up with awesome bookish people, buy yet-to-be-released books, meet my favourite authors, and somehow get some great ARCs and samplers, to name just a few things! There was so much going on during YALC that to avoid boring you with all of the (albeit wonderful!) detail, I’ve decided to sum up my first YALC by listing my Top Ten from the weekend ūüôā

  1. Catching up with bookish friends This was easily my favourite part of YALC. On the Friday, my little sister was my awesome wingwoman – she had an eye for the freebies, competitions and the most anticipated books on everyone’s lists. The weekend was spent with friends I’ve met through bookish events, namely Mary (@OhPandaEyes), Sally (@TheDarkDictator) and Xina (Xinahailey), YALC veterans who took me under their wing. Most of the holy grail ARCs that I managed to get my hands on were down to them knowing how and what to do – yay for bookish friends! ūüôā
  2. Benedict Cumberbatch¬†Let it be known that I saw Mr Cumberbatch five times on the Sunday alone, with my reactions varying from a high-pitched squeal from the first time to a “oh it’s Benedict again” by the last time – when I was even chill enough to take a decent photo!! We should’ve known it would be an interesting YALC when Ben made his debut whilst walking in on the now infamous Non Pratt head shave (for charity I hasten to add!!) He probably thought we were some weird cult. But then the fact he kept coming back suggests that he thought we were cool or just less crazy compared to the ComicCon floor (sadly, more likely).¬†
  3. Panel events The panel events at YALC were fabulous! I got to hear Taran Matharu, Samantha Shannon and others talk about what the science fiction & fantasy genre means to them. The Laini Taylor double whammy on the Saturday were definite highlights. The first was chaired by Kate Webber who is the most awesome and unapologetic fangirl ever! The second panel where Laini was joined by V.E. Schwab and Joanne Harris was easily my favourite though – I found it super interesting how huge authors like Taylor and Schwab credited Harry Potter and JK Rowling with their love of reading and writing.
  4. ARCs, ARCs, ARCs OK so as a newbie YALC-er, I didn’t realise how big a deal the ARC thing is… and it didn’t take me long to figure it out. Because at times it was like a Hunger Games bloodbath when ARCs dropped. I’m happy with the books I managed to get my hands on – I think Zenith was my holy grail of the YALC ARC haul but I was careful to make sure I only went for ARCs that I was interested in and would read. I heard that the ARC rushes had become a bit of an issue in recent years with things getting a little too heated and competitive, and I could see why this was the case… Getting Zenith was an experience I’m not in any hurry to repeat!!¬†
  5. Author signings Being based in London definitely has its perks – one is that authors almost definitely pass through whilst promoting their books or at the “worst” case, you can often find signed copies. However, there is something about being at YALC, meeting your favourite authors having just been at their event, or even just on the floor whilst looking around because they are also big YA fans!! It’s sometimes easy to forget they’re just as human as the rest of us and have their own author idols to fangirl over. I managed to get books signed by Taran Matharu, Tanya Byrne, Ryan Graudin, Alison Goodman, Karen McManus and so many more!¬†
  6. Freebies¬†You can’t really talk about YALC without mentioning the obscene amount of freebies on offer!! I adore book-related merchandise so this was something of a dream come true. I loved the different badges, posters, bookmarks, totes, postcards and sweets that were given away. The totes were perhaps the most useful thing (shout out to Scholastic for a much wanted short-handled tote, a godsend for petite people like me!) and BKMRK were MVPs being one of few to give them out. They really came in handy when you realised you had bought more books than you had anticipated…
  7. Meeting new bookish friends Alongside catching up with old bookish friends, one of my favourite things about bookish events like this are the opportunity to meet new people! I’m pretty shy, but at YALC you know that everyone there highly likely already has one thing in common with you – YA books! And this genuinely makes all the difference. Some of the best tips I got over the course of the weekend on how to “do” YALC were from striking up conversations with people in queues with me. It was also great to be introduced to bookish friends of friends and sharing first YALC experiences with other newbies.
  8. Cheap books!!!¬†I mean this goes without saying because none of us will say no to cheap books. I’d heard that offers put on by the publishers were pretty hard to resist, especially for books that weren’t even released yet – The Loneliest Girl in the Universe and Alex & Eliza were easily my favourite purchases! I’d also been told that the Sunday was the day when prices hit rock bottom… but I had not anticipated just how literal this was! OH MY GOD. NEW books were ¬£1 by the end of YALC and I managed to snag some great bargains. If I hadn’t accumulated enough books already by the Sunday morning, the afternoon made damn well sure of it!¬†
  9. Sweet stuff¬†One of the most common suggestions I saw whilst voraciously perusing YALC top tips was to take your own food because convention food is overpriced and underwhelming at the same time. The publishers’ stands did take care of your sweet tooth though! The amount of free chocolate and sweets on offer ensured you had a continuous sugar rush. My favourite had to be Penguin’s lemonade stand which was promoting Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index.
  10. Aching shoulders and exhaustion (!) Ok fine so this wasn’t a top ten as such because seriously So. Much. Pain. but it’s part and parcel of the experience! Plus it indicated I’d gotten a good haul of stuff each day which made me pretty happy. Being in London meant I didn’t have to drag around a huge suitcase of books, but honestly I can see why this would actually make sense! I’m also glad I did the full three days because I got to experience the ARC frenzy on the Friday, the events bonanza on the Saturday and the rock-bottom prices on the Friday but it did leave me exhausted so maybe something to think about for next time!

And there absolutely will be a next time! I already cannot wait for YALC 2018. I’m looking forward to going with a bit of experience under my belt so I can relax and enjoy myself a little more.¬†

Have you been to YALC or a similar book convention? Any tips that you’ve collected that you would be lost without? Let me know in the comments below. ūüôā

Bookish Event: Strange the Dreamer Signing

9 April will henceforth be known as the day that I MET LAINI TAYLOR!!! *hyperventilates* So ahem yes¬†I’d started Strange the Dreamer before the event – it came with the April Fairy Loot subscription box (yay!) but I knew there was no way I’d finish in time to meet Laini. And anyway, I wanted to savour the book because the way she writes is beyond beautiful that you just can’t rush it!¬†

Laini landed in the UK on Sunday and went straight to her Waterstones Piccadilly Strange the Dreamer launch event. Katie Webber, who is a self-confessed Laini Taylor fangirl, was chairing the event so it was guaranteed to be a good event – and it was.The event was totally sold out so as per usual, doing a recap for those who couldn’t make it and won’t be able to catch Laini on her tour of the UK.¬†Right, now onto the actual event and questions!

1. Katie started by asking how Laini got into writing, her inspiration and how she came to write Daughter of Smoke & Bone. 

Laini said that she’d always enjoyed world-building and found it came naturally to her, more so than storytelling. She ended up attending a writing workshop and was advised by the teacher to keep writing because “she was the real deal” – Laini said naturally that meant she did the exact opposite for ten years… art school! She explained that it was YA fantasy that bought her back to writing – specifically The Golden Compass and Sabriel. Reading these books she said she found her voice, and even though it was difficult, rediscovering fantasy made her the writer she is today.¬†

2. The second questions was one that a few of us were probably intrigued about Рwhere did Laini get the idea of Strange the Dreamer?

Laini said where with Daughter of Smoke & Bone¬†the characters and concept came fully alive and formed to her, the idea for¬†Strange the Dreamer¬†was in her mind for ages, and it was actually the first book she sold on proposal (where publishers buy the book based on an idea rather than a query/manuscript). Laini explained she had the idea of the muse of nightmares, and orphans of gods for a while and actually wrote the first 30 chapters of the first draft from Sarai’s perspective and with Lazlo as the love interest. It was only when she wrote from Lazlo’s POV that she realised it worked and he became the hero of the story!¬†Fun fact: ‘Strange the Dreamer’ was actually the name of his chapter initially.

3. Katie then asked about romance and how Laini writes love stories in her books – something I’m sure we all appreciate ūüėȬ†

Laini started off saying that romance was one of her favourite things about stories – and something not to be ashamed of. She explained that love is something that speaks to everyone, it’s elemental and resonates in some way or another with readers and that genres, especially romance and fantasy, create an instant connection with readers. Laini then said she has a rather lewd way of explaining this connection – called the ‘myth hole’ ūüôā She explained that its a part of us that yearns for stories of myths and legend and fantasy. Strange the Dreamer¬†and specifically the character of Laszlo who adores fairytales, was a love letter to fantasy readers.¬†

4. Katie next mentioned that Laini’s books deal with good and evil and asked whether that was a theme she consciously explores in her books.¬†

Laini explained that we are all a product of our circumstances and that the question of whether harm done to us can be undone¬†really fascinates her. Whilst the¬†Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy is set during a war, in¬†Strange the Dreamer¬†Laini wanted to explore the aftermath of war, and the concepts of forgiveness, healing and whether it’s possible to not react to the violence of our circumstances. Laini also said that the ‘evil ante’ in YA and books generally was too high that she didn’t want to compete and create a¬†villain so evil that it continued to up the ante – instead she decided that the villain in Strange the Dreamer¬†would be dead already. She summed up the book as a less Disney-esque plot which culminates in killing the villain, and a more Miyazaki-esque plot driven by ‘saving’ the villain instead.

This was easily my favourite question and answer from Laini – made even better by the fact that she mentioned that it was telling that the #1 and #2 books on the NYT Bestsellers list atm are The Hate U Give and Strange the Dreamer respectively – books that discuss violence, stereotyping and society, important topics of discussion¬†in today’s world.

5. Katie then asked¬†how Laini manages to write so beautifully (something we all agree with I’m sure!) Katie asked whether it was in the editing or if it actually flowed that way when writing.¬†

Laini confessed that her writing almost never flows, beyond the few shining parts in each book. Laini explained that she has to love the writing process every step of the way and so she often writes scene by scene, which often means lots of drafts until the heart of that scene clicks. She said that whilst she loves crafting sentences and, like world-building finds its easier, books are not so easy! Laini also mentioned that she weaves the world building with the plot and tries not to do to much up front anymore.

6. One of the Q&A questions was the usual writing tips – I’m always¬†curious about the different answers authors have for this question ūüôā

Laini’s first piece of advice was to get into the habit of completing works in progress even if it’s short, and to do this by coming up with a narrative arc and concluding it. If you have writer’s block, she suggested instead of coming up with two or three plot development options, come up with 10 or 20 including wild and wacky ones just to get the creative juices flowing and make you feel less restricted. Katie piped up that Laini has a blog Not For Robots where she’s shared lots of writing tips – so definitely check that out if you’re interested!

6. Final question was would Laini explicitly go back to the world of Daughter of Smoke & Bone (eep!)

We were all on the edge of our seats when Katie asked the question we were all dying to know the answer to. Laini basically made all of our lives by answering, yes with the way the trilogy ended, she thought it was ready for a return to the world of Daughter of Smoke & Bone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have you read Strange the Dreamer? Are you a long-time fan of Laini and her Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy?? Let me know in the comments below!

Bookish Event: Caraval & Wing Jones Signing

Yesterday was the Dark Societies event at Waterstones Piccadilly with the wonderful Stephanie Garber and Katherine Webber. It was a sold-out event so I wanted to do a recap for those that couldn’t make it.

Steph was on the UK leg of her Caraval tour whilst Kate was promoting Wing Jones. I’d been lucky enough to have met Kate at her Female Heroines event a few weeks back but this was my first time meeting Steph, plus I’d actually finished Caraval a few days beforehand and adored it, so I was super-duper excited. 

We started the event with Steph announcing that¬†she‚Äôd made a few handmade bookmarks for fans. She asked if it was anyone‚Äôs birthday recently or upcoming and I timidly put my hand up (on the 28th ya‚Äôll!) and STEPHANIE GARBER ACTUALLY GAVE ME ONE OF HER HANDMADE BOOKMARKS! I still can‚Äôt believe I have it ‚Äď look how gorgeous it is! Easily the best early birthday present ever.

Right, now onto the actual event and questions. I’ll stick to summarising a few of the questions, but we seriously got through a huge amount courtesy of the lovely Leila of the Post-Apocalyptic Book Club chairing.

1. Leila started by asking what the inspiration behind Caraval and Wing Jones was. 

Steph started out saying she‚Äôd read Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein and there was a particular scene where the characters and motivations are ambiguous ‚Äď it was difficult to tell who was telling the truth or lying, and what was real and what wasn‚Äôt. This actually was the birth of Caraval, as a game! She also explained that she loves Baz Luhrman movies and she remembers watching the party and fireworks scene in The Great Gatsby¬†which inspired the setting and atmosphere that Stephanie wanted Caraval to have.

Kate spoke about running track and country in high school and this inspired her to write specifically about a female runner. Wing‚Äôs character came fully formed and the dual heritage aspect was something that Kate knew she wanted to explore. The sibling relationship was important in Wing Jones¬†and Kate mentioned this was inspired by her own experiences with her siblings, whilst the multi-generational family that Wing has was also based on the close relationships she had with her grandparents – she’s glad Granny Dee and LaoLao have gone down so well with readers!

2. One of the questions was about magic in both books and how they dealt with it. 

Kate said that the first drafts of the book had magic in them, but that she decided in later drafts to remove this aspect. Instead, the final draft was rooted in reality but had hints of fantasy through the magical realism that Kate decided on. She liked that it was more subtle and left the book open to readers’ interpretations.

Stephanie said that for Caraval she wanted to go with something that was easy to slip into – a “non-indexed fantasy” if you like. In the book, she treats magic like religion, some people believe in it, others are raised believing it, whilst others still see its existence in things that happen. She didn’t want there to be any hard or fast rules and wanted to show magic as something elusive and unconfirmed.¬†

3. With both Stephanie and Kate being debut authors, one of the questions was on their journey to being published. 

Stephanie answered this in a really raw, honest and quite emotional way – I think the whole audience was hanging onto her words. She relayed her story from the 100-200 queries she’d sent out for other manuscripts and attended conferences with no luck to the point that people close to¬†her were suggesting she call off her attempts at becoming a writer. However, she knew she could do better and decided Caraval would be her last shot – she got eight agent offers and it kind of blew up from there!

Kate spoke about also having written multiple other works before Wing Jones (including the tree people one we’ve all heard about and are dying to read!) She said she had a great experience working with sensitivity readers for her dual heritage protagonist and she did it because she wanted to write responsibly – she was more worried about writing something harmful than being criticised for writing a dual-heritage character. Kate also praised the YA book community for being so supportive and said she was glad Wing debuted in the UK first (yay us!)

4. Leila mentioned that Wing Jones deals with tragedy and asked what motivated them to write their books. 

Kate said she wanted to write about what happens when someone you love unconditionally does something very wrong. She spoke about losing friends to drink driving and having friends who drove under the influence whilst growing up and she wanted to explore how a community responds to a tragedy where blame is apportioned. Ultimately, though Wing Jones is about a teen girl finding her own strength.

Stephanie said she wanted to tackle the same strength issues through Scarlett in Caraval. Growing up, she struggled with fear – she¬†explained there were parallels between herself and Scarlett in that it was her dream to be an author like Scarlett’s dream was to go to Caraval, but once the opportunity presented itself, fear kicked in. So she wanted to write about an unconventional female protagonist – although she loves badass heroines she wanted to validate the fear and timidness she and others feel at a young age.¬†

5. One of the last questions was about deleted scenes and if there were any they were really fond of. 

Kate mentioned she’d written a 6000 word kissing scene that although she loved writing had to be edited down a lot… especially as this was for NaNoWriMo and the scene made up more than 10% of her book! She also said she really likes metaphors and keeps them on standby as fallback options.

Stephanie said Caraval was quite short for a completed manuscript and she actually ended up adding more detail rather than cutting down. But she did say the clock scene in Caraval came about after her editor insisted the original setting of a cabin and Scarlett and Julian looking for clothes whilst half-naked was boring!

6. Final question was: Dante or Julian?

Kate was quick to say she was Julian all the way, whilst Stephanie controversially chose Legend – he is her favourite character even though she doesn’t trust him one bit! ¬†

Have you read Wing Jones or Caraval? Any recs to fill the WJ and Caraval shaped void in my life?? Let me know in the comments below!

Bookish Event: Sarah Crossan & Tanya Landman Signing

Bloomsbury hosted a book event with two Carnegie Medal winning authors: Sarah Crossan of¬†One¬†fame and Tanya Landman, author of¬†Buffalo Soldier. Landman was¬†named winner in 2015 and Crossan in 2016. The CILIP Carnegie Medals are the older and most prestigious children’s book awards in the UK.

An interesting thing both books have in common is that they are written by women and fall into the diverse fiction genre dealing with issues such as disability and race. One follows conjoined twins, Grace and Tippi, as they deal with growing up and the difficulties of their unique situation in beautiful and lyrical verse form. Meanwhile, Buffalo Soldier follows Charlie as she disguises herself as a man in order to join the American Civil War. 

I have to confess that I’ve not consciously read diverse fiction but this year with the shitshow that is 2016, and thanks to Twitter, I’ve become more aware of the importance of publishing and reading such books.¬†This was one of the reasons why I really wanted to go to this event. Both Sarah Crossan and Tanya Landman published their books before 2016 and have been on the scene and writing for some time. I was curious about what made them write about the topics they explore in their books at a time when diversity in fiction wasn’t as championed as it is now.


Chaired by journalist Harriet Minter, the event was fascinating and¬†I’ll do the usual Q&A summary for you guys.

1. Harriet started off asking Sarah why she chose to write¬†One¬†in verse?¬†Sarah said that she initially started writing the book in prose but that it wasn’t working. However, once she started to write in verse she realised it came more naturally. Sarah said what she particularly liked about this method was that it gives a snapshot of the characters’ lives and story and likened verse to photographs whereas prose was more like a movie.¬†

2. Harriet said that one of the things she’d noticed was that the two books explored the theme of a special bond between characters and asked the authors to shed more light on it.¬†Sarah said she’d met conjoined sisters whilst researching for the book and initially the plan was to explore how romance for one sister might affect their lives. But during her research she found¬†that many conjoined twins were perfectly happy as they were and it was this bond of sisterhood that she wanted to do justice. In¬†Buffalo¬†Soldiers¬†Tanya explores the bond between Charlie and her horse Abe. Her motivation was her own love of horses whilst growing up (and which saw her competing right¬†up until she was an adult!) and that she wanted to portray¬†the solace that people can find in their pets and animals and show the unwritten language of communication these bonds rely on.¬†

3. Harriet then asked Tanya to elaborate more on the fascinating topic of Buffalo Soldier and why she’d felt compelled to write a YA book on it.¬†Tanya said that once she found out about the Buffalo Soldiers she realised it was a piece of history that was missing from conventional accounts of the war. She said she wanted to put back the people and events that had been erased e.g. women and minorities and explore why these women had to go to such lengths to contribute to the war effort in the way they wanted to.


4. Harriet then asked about Tanya and Sarah’s experience¬†of writing diverse fiction.¬†Tanya said she had received flak for another of her books¬†I Am¬†Apache but not¬†Buffalo Soldier¬†but that there was reluctance from US publishers to release the book because of potential accusations of cultural appropriation. Tanya said that she wholeheartedly agrees that writers can write what they want so long as they do it empathetically but that they cannot switch that empathy off as soon as an author of color says they’re having trouble getting published because this is a real and genuine problem in the publishing industry. Sarah echoed that her US publishers weren’t keen on having conjoined twins depicted on the cover because it was too graphic. Both authors agreed that brutal issues and history cannot and should not be hidden – often children do not register these difficult issues and are not affected by them in the way an adult may be.¬†

5. Last question was the usual tips for budding writers!¬†Sarah recommended only writing if you feel compelled to and not for external nourishment or approval because that will never be enough to see you through the hideously long night and editing process. Tanya agreed and added that published authors shouldn’t frequent reviews of their books on Goodreads (a common refrain from many an author!)¬†

Have you read One or Buffalo Soldiers? Are you also new to diverse fiction or a veteran of the genre? Any recs for awesome diverse YA books?? Let me know in the comments below!

Bookish Event: Jennifer Niven & Holly Bourne Signing


Jennifer Niven, the New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places is in town¬†at the moment promoting her newest release, Holding up the Universe. I got to hear her chat to Holly Bourne on everything from oddest fan experiences to the upcoming movie¬†when she dropped by Waterstones last week. Holly was also promoting her new book, the finale to The Spinster Club series And a Happy New Year…?, but she was chairing the event and so we got to see her calling the shots and Jennifer in the hot seat.¬†

The questions were brilliant and as with all my event blog posts, I’ll summarise some of my favourite Q&As.

1. Holly started off with some quick fire questions, the first of which, and absolutely the most important question ever: which Hogwarts house is Jennifer in? Jennifer said she’d taken the official Pottermore quiz recently and had been sorted into Ravenclaw at which there was a squeal of delight from Holly, a fellow and enthusiastic Ravenclaw!

2. Second quick fire question: what was the book that was life changing or most memorable for Jennifer growing up? Jennifer immediately answered with¬†Judy Blume’s Forever ‚Äď she said it was the book that you would hide under your bed so your mum wouldn‚Äôt find it. Blume‚Äôs books resonated with her because they were about girls similar to her¬†and her friends and they inspired Jennifer to want to write similarly relatable books when she was older.¬†

3. Final quick fire questions: who is your book boyfriend?¬†Jennifer couldn’t resist answering with Finch (and who could blame her or disagree?!), but she did say if she had to choose a character that wasn’t hers¬†she would choose Simon from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

4. Now down to the serious questions, in Holding up the Universe, the male protagonist, Jack,¬†suffers from Prosopagnosia, or ‚Äúface blindness‚ÄĚ ‚Äď what made Jennifer choose to focus on that?¬†Jennifer said she has two family members diagnosed with it and had been aware of it and fascinated by it for some time. Once she asked one of her cousins how he overcame it and he said¬†he recognises people by ‚Äúthe things that count‚ÄĚ – the things they like about a person rather than physical attributes and Jennifer thought “wouldn’t that be great? If we could see beyond the way people look when we meet them?” And that was something she wanted to explore.¬†

5. In both¬†All the Bright Places¬†and¬†Holding up the Universe, Jennifer writes from a male and female perspective – what was the reason for that? Jennifer said¬†she likes knowing what the boy thinks ‚Äď in romance stories, you often have the girl painting a swoony portrait of their crush and you always wonder what is going through the boy‚Äôs head. She‚Äôd never written in dual narration before All the Bright Places,¬†but found she really liked it and so did the same with Holding up the Universe. Jennifer¬†shared that her editor casually mentioned that¬†she didn’t always have to write in dual narrative which was her way of saying “don‚Äôt do it for her current book” so her current manuscript is single PoV!

6. One thing Holly said she’d noticed was the theme of grief present in Jennifer‚Äôs books ‚Äď was that consciously or unconsciously done?¬†Jennifer answered that she’s unfortunately lost a lot of people close to her, including her mother who was always the first to read her completed manuscripts, so grief is a big part of her life. She said rather than carry around the baggage, she finds channeling it into her writing helps – after all if she‚Äôs going to be sad and cry about things, her readers sure as her are too. ūüôā

Holly said she’d been lucky in that she hadn’t experienced much grief in her life but one event that did stick with her was the death of her hamster. She arranged a back yard funeral complete with Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On blasting on the boombox (aww!) What she mistook as her parents’ profound grief and shuddering tears was actually them trying to keep from laughing out loud!

7. A question we’ve probably all been curious about: does Jennifer often get asked about the ending to AtBP?¬†Jennifer said she gets so many questions about the ending to AtBP, often is accused of breaking hearts (‚ÄúIt‚Äôs OK I didn‚Äôt need my heart anyway‚ÄĚ) and regularly asked for a happier ending. SO… she has now actually written an alternate ending! Holly said she liked the ending and thought it was fitting¬†because it shared the very honest message that love cannot fix mental health (agreed!)

8. What have been some of Jennifer’s strangest fan experiences?¬†The strangest presents she’s been given related to her books were All the Bright Places¬†themed flip-flops! She was also wearing a gorgeous ring, given to her by a fan who I actually met at the event (OhPandaEyes btw in case you were wondering – check her out on Etsy)!¬†Jennifer also said that as her love for Supernatural and Jared Padalecki is well-known she¬†gets lots of themed goodies made by fans and tagged in posts to the guys. She went to Supernatural con recently and finally met JP who¬†thought she looked familiar – Jennifer said she was thinking “yup, probably because my fans tag you in millions of tweets to me”. ūüôā

Holly chipped in and shared that her love for Keanu Reeves is also well-known amongst her fans. When KR was recently in London her Twitter blew up with notifications telling her about it. Now she knows that if her Twitter notifications go through the roof it’s not because she’s won some award but because KR is doing something interesting! 

9. Time for a controversial question: UK YA vs US YA? Holly asked this question because she basically wanted Jennifer to repeat her comments on this topic made in the green room before they emerged for the event (haha!) Jennifer admitted she prefers UK YA, notwithstanding some of her favourite American YA authors like David Levithan and Jandy Nelson, over US YA. She said she finds the latter to be increasingly self-conscious and a bit restrictive whereas UK YA is much braver and has more freedom.

10. Holly finished up by asking a question we were all dying for answers to: can Jennifer share any¬†gossip about the upcoming movie adaptation of All the Bright Places?¬†Jennifer apologised and said she couldn’t say much but that she had submitted the latest draft of the screenplay a week ago and that there’s probably one more draft remaining before it‚Äôs the version that will be used for actually shooting the movie! Elle Fanning has been attached to the project for two years and Jennifer said they are starting to look into casting Finch – apparently a shortlist of mostly British guys (eek!) and ran them past Elle whose first opinion was always very professional (commenting on their great acting abilities) and only then would the teenage girl kick in (commenting on how cute the actors were) which is just adorable!

Have you read either All the Bright Places or Holding up the Universe? Any casting choices in mind for Finch? What did you think of her answers? Let me know in the comments below!

Bookish Event: Our Chemical Hearts Tour


This time last week I was at Queen’s Park Books for Krystal Sutherland’s¬†Our Chemical Hearts¬†tour courtesy of a book club friend at QPB! OCH is Krystal’s debut novel and it sounds fabulous…

A quick summary of Our Chemical Hearts from Goodreads:¬†Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him‚ÄĒat least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent¬†college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change.

Grace isn’t who Henry pictures as his dream girl – she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl…


Katie Webber chaired the event asking some brilliant questions like the inspiration behind Our Chemical Hearts. Interestingly enough, this led to them talking about the science behind love and heartbreak and how apparently it is scientifically proven that a break up affects the brain the same way as a root canal Рnow no one can accuse you of being melodramatic when dealing with heartbreak *smug face*

Krystal had a Cinderella-esque journey with¬†Our Chemical Hearts,¬†¬†getting an agent 12 hours after submitting her manuscript and found out her book had a publisher when she had just started her first shift at The Body Shop. She got a phone call telling her the good news and spent the rest of the day selling bath bombs and rubbing moisturiser on strangers’ hands (anti-climax much?!) And this was all without any prior experience or contacts within the publishing industry so it is possible!

She and Katie are good friends which made the event feel more like we were just eavesdropping on a brilliant conversation – and it was writing that brought them together. They decided to become writing sprint partners –¬†something they highly recommend¬†to budding writers because it helps you to get used to receiving critique early on. Another tip is¬†to FINISH WHAT YOU’RE WORKING ON much as you¬†might want to cheat on it with a ‘slutty’ new idea (brilliant analogy!).¬†

Krystal finished off by¬†sharing some awesome news: Our Chemical Hearts¬†has been optioned for a movie and is scheduled to begin filming next year!! Her next project is also in the works, called¬†A Semi-definitive List of Fifty Worst Fears¬†(think that’s accurate – Krystal did admit the title¬†is incredibly long!) And on that note, Katie’s debut,¬†Wing Jones, already receiving rave reviews, is out in January 2017 so also keep an eye out for that!


Hot Key Books gave away some great goodie bags with a cover themed shade of Barry M nail polish and a handmade bracelet from Hodge Podge. I also got a signed copy of the book – itching to start reading it soon!¬†Have you read¬†Our Chemical Hearts? What did you think of it? I’d love to know what you thought so drop me a comment below. ūüôā

Bookish Event: Worlds Collide Tour with Rainbow Rowell and Leigh Bardugo


Worlds Collide Tour… Yes, it happened. And I went. Still rather surreal because the London event sold out in record time – this is totally unsurprising though because this tour brought together two huge stars¬†of the YA ‘verse. Rainbow Rowell and Leigh Bardugo are both New York Times¬†best-selling authors and BFFs in real life. It was Rainbow’s YA novels,¬†Eleanor & Park¬†and¬†Fangirl¬†which rocketed her to fame and she¬†returned to the¬†Fangirl¬†‘verse to write¬†Carry On. Leigh Bardugo meanwhile has two series under her belt already. The¬†Grisha Trilogy¬†books were published between¬†¬†2012 to 2014 and she returned to the Grisha ‘verse with her¬†Six of Crows¬†and¬†Crooked Kingdom¬†duology.

I’ve met Rainbow Rowell before during her last UK tour in 2014¬†but this was my first time meeting Leigh so I was super excited! I bought a new copy of¬†Fangirl¬†(my third… #noregrets) and¬†Ruin¬†and Rising¬†to get the exclusive tour t-shirt. The event started with Rainbow and Leigh chatting about how this event compared with their first ever promo events: Leigh’s was in a basement whilst Rainbow’s was in a bar and they agreed she’d come full circle with this one being held in a church! Leigh also shared that Kaz was originally called Baz but she changed it after Rainbow’s¬†Carry On. Leigh even managed to squeeze in a Hamilton reference within the first ten minutes and it set the fangirl tone of the rest of the event!


Rainbow and Leigh kicked off the event with dramatic readings from their two most recent books which seriously made my life. We started with¬†Carry On – the scene in the catacombs. Rainbow was Simon and Leigh, a brilliant Baz.¬†I cannot overstate how hilarious this entire section was. One moment that pretty much sums it up is when Rainbow hesitated to swear, and then Leigh pointed out she’d be swearing in a church no less! So Rainbow plucked up her courage and belted it out. Next they read from¬†Crooked Kingdom¬†– the scene where Nina explains the Princess and the Barbarian story to Matthias with Leigh as Nina and Rainbow as Matthias. I love this scene because of its wonderful cheekiness and awkwardness and these two had it down pat.

We then moved onto the Q&A section of the event and there were some interesting questions all around. I’ll summarise a few here for you guys.

1.What do you both think of diversity in YA? Leigh said YA authors tend to have experienced marginalisation growing up and their books are like giving the marginalised a voice. However, she also said that although YA often has lots of diverse characters, we need more diverse authors. Rainbow agreed that she wanted to write real and true stuff that was reflective of reality.

2. Is Kaz based on Al Capone? This elicited a brilliant response from Leigh – she said Kaz is the hipster Al Capone! “He was pulling eyes out before it was cool.” She also said¬†The Untouchables¬†was a huge inspiration for¬†Six of Crows.¬†

3. What is the inspiration for your characters? Rainbow said her characters don’t come to her fully formed – often it’s a train of thought that leads to a plot. This is how¬†Fangirl¬†came about, when Rainbow wondered what it would be like if she went to university now. Leigh said some of her characters come fully formed like Matthias. She compared the first draft to an awkward first date where she figures out if she likes the character (brilliant analogy!) One thing she does is to write lots of dialogue to ‘find’ the character.

4. What are your thoughts on the revision process? Rainbow said her first response was to question all of the edits (whhaaat, you don’t understand my genius!!) but that upon reflection she values it as it means someone is paying attention. Leigh said she dealt with critique by taking a walk, a shower, a shot (haha!)

5. What are your thoughts on taking part in NaNoWriMo? Rainbow said that Fangirl was a 2010 NaNoWriMo novel and talked about the myth of NaNoWriMo is that you have the perfect novel at the end. She said it was rather about coming up with a really good first draft to work on beyond November. Rainbow said she carried on working on Fangirl nine months after NaNoWriMo. Leigh said Ruin and Rising started out as a NaNoWriMo novel too!

6. Which of your fictional world would you like to live in? Leigh was reluctant to choose because the Grisha world is dangerous but she would choose Ravka and be a Fabrikator because she wants to live. Rainbow said she wanted to live in the Mage world because magic duh but that she’d want to hang out with Cath, Levi and Regan.

7. How did you write your books and do you have a day job now? Rainbow said she had to stop doing housework (which got a massive round of applause!) She said “If you’ve got kids that love you and a novel, who cares if your house is dirty?!” (Preach sister!)

8. How do you write evil but hot villains? Leigh answered that it wasn’t difficult as we’d think because ladies love evil (yaas indeed!) She said she got flak for the Darkling but she had no regrets because she wanted to show that all people who come into your life and appear charming aren’t always good and vice versa.

9. Which Harry Potter house and Patronus are you both? Rainbow said she identified as a Ravenclaw so was in denial when she was sorted into Slytherin. She also said she hasn’t taken the Patronus quiz because that’s not something that is assigned in the book. Leigh said she was Slytherin all the way and her Patronus is Stevie Knicks!


Although we were waiting for the signing for some time, it is testament to the success of these two ladies that the queue was still out the door at 10pm! Worlds Collide was easily one of the most fun events I’ve been to in a long time. Rainbow and Leigh are obviously BFFs and it came across in how comfortable together and played off each other really well. They’re also the loveliest people and wanted to talk to their fans even when being rushed. If you haven’t read *ALL* of their books I highly recommend you go and read them now. Go, now. Seriously ūüôā

Bookish Event: YA Fantasy Panel with Garth Nix and Co.


Lovely¬†readers, I have a packed event schedule for the next week so there‚Äôll be more bookish events posts over the next few days ‚Äď you guys are in for a treat! Also doing my first giveaway (which may involve signed books by YA Queens Rainbow Rowell and Leigh Bardugo!!!) so keep your eyes peeled for that…

Now onto business… Earlier this week, I went to the YA fantasy event hosted by Waterstones Piccadilly with a stellar panel of authors ‚Äď seriously. We had the legend Garth Nix (Old Kingdom/Abhorsen series), Melinda Salisbury (The Sin Eater‚Äôs Daughter series), Alwyn Hamilton (Rebel in the Sands¬†series), Paul Magrs (The Lora Trilogy¬†series) and Laure Eve (The Graces¬†series) with Buzzfeed‚Äôs Chelsy Pippin chairing.

It was fascinating to hear the authors talk about the fantasy genre ‚Äď from how they go about world-building, writing characters, and thoughts on the YA genre. To do all of the authors justice, I thought it would be fun to do this post in an interview style but please note this is very much a summary and not verbatim!!¬†

First question was how the authors find their inspiration – how/where do the ideas for their books and characters come from?

Garth Nix talked about the 21st anniversary of Sabriel (published 1995 in Australia!) and¬†how he never really left the Old Kingdom – there was no ‚Äúcoming back to it‚ÄĚ when Clariel was published in 2014 and Goldenhand this year. One of the oddest places that Garth has ever had an idea come to him was during a root canal! Melinda Salisbury said ideas never came to her fully formed but rather solidified over time whilst Alwyn Hamilton wondered what us normal people did during commutes or before bed because that‚Äôs when she gets her inspiration. Laure Eve echoed this, saying coming up with ideas for books was her version of worrying whilst Paul Magrs said he gets inspiration from his favourite childhood things and smashes them together ‚Äď Lost¬†on Mars is actually a mash up of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles¬†and Laura Ingell’s¬†Little House on the Prairie!

Next Chelsy asked how the authors went about writing strong female characters.

Garth found this question amusing saying he was always asked about how he wrote ‚Äústrong female characters‚ÄĚ as if they were a rare, fantastical thing. He found it odd that he was never asked how he imagined up his actually strange fantasy creatures which actually involves some strong imagination [I loved Garth so much more for this brilliant answer]. He said the answer was simple ‚Äď he wrote, and could write, strong female characters because that‚Äôs exactly what he was surrounded by growing up e.g. family members. He also gave credit to classic YA writers such as Tamora Pierce for her portrayals of female protagonists. Laure, Alwyn and Melinda chimed in agreeing that Pierce was a massive inspiration when they were growing up and for their female characters. Paul went back further and pointed to characters like Alice and Dorothy who were independent and curious young women and influenced his work.

World-building was bound to come up during an event with fantasy authors and come up it did!

Alwyn explained how she took her favourite parts of different worlds – Rebel of the Sands was a mash up of the Wild West and 1,001 Arabian Nights but she forced¬†elements of both to work together for example, iron was very important in the Wild West for horseshoes and symbolised luck whilst iron is thought to ward off jinn in the East. Laure spoke about how music was her biggest inspiration for world-building and how she tries to translate music and how it makes her feel onto a page when she writes. Melinda said she was very visual and atmospheric ‚Äď she comes up with scenes in her head and knows exactly how things like light and shadow look to build the world around these scenes. Paul said he likes to do it as he goes along, to keep it interesting and Garth agreed saying writing fantasy is like an iceberg where the book is only about 10% of the world that the reader sees (except authors like Tolkein who is a world-building genius).

There was a Q&A with the audience and one of the most interesting questions was how the authors feel about having their works pigeonholed into the YA genre?

Alwyn explained that whilst YA tends to be about teens it does not mean it is only for teens by any stretch of the imagination. Both she and Laure talked about how although the genre is about growing up, this is something everyone can relate to ‚Äď we can all remember the awkwardness, confusion and loneliness we felt at this point of our life and so the genre transcends age. Garth agreed and said that genres were less for readers and more for publishers in order to maximise commercial success of novels. He hoped readers didn‚Äôt pigeonhole themselves into genres they would and would never read. Melinda finished off by saying she thought it was a great shame if people rejected novels because of the YA tag because actually the genre is the vanguard of the publishing the world ‚Äď it is pushing the boundaries on issues like sexuality, mental health and gender.

The event was followed by signings and I went a little overboard with the books I must admit. Also, we were able to spend ages talking to the authors who are just the nicest, it was the most laid-back event ever *fangirls* What do you think about their answers? Are any of these authors your ultimate fantasy YA writer?


Bookish Event: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (No Spoilers!)


I was very lucky to have a friend buy tickets for herself and me to go and watch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. These tickets were booked a year in advance and so it’s weird to think I’ve now seen it and the whole experience is over *sad face* As promised in the title, there will be no spoilers in this post about the play itself, I won’t even mention the plot, characters or post photos which give away anything to do with it. Instead, I wanted to blog about the experience and share a couple of photos of the things I bought (so there are photos of souvenirs, also viewable online in the shop, but fair warning if you don’t want to see that stuff either!)¬†


Somehow, through a big dose of sheer luck (and a lot of avoidance of Tumblr and Twitter), I wasn’t spoiled at all with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.¬†Going into it, I knew very little besides the strapline, that it was set 19 years later and was about the next generation. I’d also glanced at the casting when it was announced but had mostly forgotten even that. I went to the launch of the¬†Harry Potter and the Cursed Child¬†screenplay¬†(round up of the event here) and managed to be really disciplined about not flicking through the book or¬†even reading the blurb (fangirl self-discipline ftw!)¬†


The whole experience was beyond anything I could’ve imagined! I was gripping my poor friend’s hand the entire time and she mine and there¬†were tears – won’t say if good or bad ¬†ūüėČ Before Part II my friend C and I met up with another Potterhead friend A, who was lucky enough to see it during the first few days of general release and we discussed our predictions for the second part. Suffice to say I was not at all prepared for the finale! During the intermission on the second night, I went a little overboard on the souvenir buying and my haul multiplied from the modest programme and magnet to the above. I ended up buying: a photo book of the making of the play, a programme, a tote bag, a t-shirt, a pencil, a postcard and magnet *sheepish*

I’m already trying to plan my next trip. I love the idea of experiencing something Harry Potter related for the first time – haven’t been many opportunities for this since¬†Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows¬†was published and so a play in the HP canon was beyond my, and I imagine many fans’, wildest dreams. I can’t wait for more people to watch the play so the fandom can start having discussions about the play and plot but until then I will most definitely be #keepingthesecret ¬†ūüôā

Bookish Event: Ransom Riggs Signing


Waterstones Piccadilly, my beautiful bookish enabler, how I love thee. Yesterday, my lil sister and I went along to the Ransom Riggs signing in celebration of his new release, Tales of the Peculiar, and for his forthcoming movie adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.¬†

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children¬†is the first book in the¬†Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children¬†series. The sequels,¬†Hollow City¬†(#2) and¬†Library of Souls¬†round off the trilogy.¬†Tales of the Peculiar¬†is a prequel of sorts and was published a few weeks ago. The first book follows Jake, a boy who has recently suffered a terrible family tragedy, as he follows clues in photographs left by his grandfather. The photographs lead him to an remote¬†island off the coast of Wales where an old¬†orphanage stands, derelict and abandoned. As Jake explores this deserted island and orphanage he discovers that the children housed in it were not entirely normal – slightly peculiar you might say. And also that the crumbling orphanage might not be as abandoned as it first seems…

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As lots of you may know, the Pecular¬† series is a brilliantly gothic series, with the best vintage photography interertwined in it’s pages. I love that it’s such a unique book and definitely one that you *have* to read in hardback or paperback. I love that the photography was the trigger for the novel and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it all translates onto screen!¬†

Ransom Riggs was joined by the illustrator of Tales of the Peculiar,¬†Andrew Davidson,¬†and it was just a signing rather than a talk/event and so it was pretty short and sweet. We also got given a gorgeous black canvas shopper as seen in the photos! So whilst we didn’t get to hear much from Ransom on the books, we did have¬†a little amount of time to chitchat whilst he signed. My sister and I were intrigued about the movie as Ransom had tweeted about attending the London screening with the cast so we ended up grilling him about that more than the series (sorry guys, I failed in bookishness).

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We asked him how it felt to have his debut novel adapted to the screen and what he thought about the casting choices. He replied¬†that it was utterly surreal (I can imagine!) to have his book turned into a proper movie with a worldwide release and that he was delighted with the cast, how he couldn’t have asked for a better Jake than Asa Butterfiled (totally agree btw!) and also the perfect director in Tim Burton. The cast of the movie is properly star-studded with Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Green, Rupert Everett and Judi Dench starring too. It is released in the UK on 30 September so watch this space for a movie review!

Finally, I kept (arguably!) the best news till last! Ransom was accompanied to the signing by his partner Tahereh Mafi of Shatter Me¬†fame. I follow both Ransom and Tahereh on Twitter and absolutely adore Tahereh because of her books and her lovely personality. Also her style is just on point – I can report that her footwear, deep mauve suede heeled boots were fierce as per ¬†ūüėČ She had copies of her new book, Furthermore,¬†on display too and we got that signed too. I can certify that she is absolutely the sweetest person irl – we asked her about their trip to London. She mentioned the screening and how proud she is of Ransom and seriously guys #relationshipgoals.¬†

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Furthermore¬†is a bit of a departure from Tahereh’s previous offerings in that it is a middle grade fantasy novel. The blurb: In a world brimming with colour and magic, Alice’s pale skin and milk-white hair mark her as an outcast. For the people of Ferenwood, colour and magic are one and the same. Alice is determined to prove her magical abilities and solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance. To do so she’ll have to travel into the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore. But nothing there is as it seems, and Alice may never find her way home…¬†

I love the cover of the book, it’s so magical and colourful exactly like the blurb describes and seems to me like it has a bit of an Alice in Wonderland vibe around it, probably because of the protagonist’s name and the description of the magical land of Furthermore. I’ll be reading this soon so you can expect a review of this soon too!


Are you a fan of Ransom or Tahereh’s books? Are you planning to watch the¬†Miss Peregrine¬† movie and what do you think about the casting choices? Let me know below! And #StayPeculiar ¬†ūüôā