Bookish Event: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Midnight Launch!!

It has been a very long hiatus lovely readers and for that I apologise! But to make up for it, I’m restarting this blog with the ultimate post – the midnight launch of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! Warning – photos galore ahead!

I was lucky enough to snap up tickets to Waterstones Piccadilly’s midnight launch of the newest instalment in the Harry Potter saga and I managed to get back to the UK just in time to actually attend – cue much jetlag and deliriousness (apparently the ultimate way to Fangirl!) 

I went with four Potterheads friends and we got queueing outside before 10pm when the store was due to open. Whilst in line we got given gold envelopes that contained a gorgeous floor map, a bookmark, our book token, and our complimentary drinks vouchers. When we go inside my friends and I made a beeline for the quiz because one of my Potterhead friends is a self-confessed super fanatic and we wanted to give the quiz a shot…

Needless to say we won 😉 Although the question of which county Malfoy Manor is did stump us longer than it should’ve – we eventually guessed through a process of elimination and got full marks (14/14 right)! Our prize was a goody bag each of a gorgeous bottle of butterbeer, a puzzle, a HP chocolate lollipop and some choc coins! Btw that butter beer is never being drunk obv.

We then went on to do some of the other activities on offer which included face painting, cake decorating, photo booth, film props, sweet shop, wand shop and book shop – I think the sweet shop was easily my favourite and I confess I did go a little over the top with my haul 🙂 

Finally we began queueing for the book and the line looped all around the stairs and out of sight – it was so long. Whilst in the queue we created some gifs for Pottermore and got interviewed by some film crews! At midnight we shouted the countdown at the top of our lungs and sang happy birthday to Jo. 

When I finally got my hands on my book I couldn’t stop screaming!! I think I jumped up and down for about 10 mins straight outside Waterstones (I’m probably on some news footage somewhere…) To finally have it in my hands was an amazing feeling. However, I have vowed to not read it until I watch the play in October which might as well be 19 years later 😉 

Let’s just hope I don’t get spoiled in the meantime #keepthesecret

Did you go to a midnight launch? Or did you do anything with your friends to ring in the launch? What are your plans for reading Harry Potter and The Cursed Child? 

Shout about it in the comments below (and remember no spoilers about the book pretty please!)

Bookish Event: Alice in Wonderland Exhibition

 Alice in Wonderland Exhibition

Venue: British Library, London

Admission: Free entry

Dates: Until 17 April 2016

Rating: ♄ ♄ ♄

The British Library is currently hosting a special exhibition on Alice in Wonderland to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the novel’s publication. I had to make two attempts to visit before I actually made it inside the exhibition – it was that busy the first weekend! It does show though just how popular and enduring this children’s classic still is 🙂

The exhibition is nicely separated out into two sections – one is a fun timeline of the story itself told in a bit of a storyboard style and using original illustrations from various iterations of the novel. There are definitely some of the more classic and recognisable illustrations and quotes that many visitors will recognise. The timeline section is a nice summary of the plot and gives you a chance to relive the classic tale which has featured in many a childhood in the space of 10 boards.

FullSizeRender (3)

The second section displays Alice in Wonderland memorabilia and through them tells the history of the novel – everything from manuscripts and first editions to illustrations showing the more modern interpretations of Alice in Wonderland. I found it fascinating to find out who the character Alice was based on, how the original manuscript looked and how society has taken Alice and her story and reimagined it in many different ways throughout the ages. The Picasso-style interpretation of Alice and the Carlsberg beer advert were probably my favourites!

FullSizeRender (5)

The best thing about the exhibition was that it was interactive and engaging – it was very photogenic and I did find myself taking a few pictures! The storyboard section will definitely appeal to kids whilst the adults among us who remember growing up with the novel will likely find the history of the book interesting. I also liked that the exhibition was brief and didn’t try and overload visitors with information. The items on display tell their own stories and it was fascinating to see how a novel written in 1865 is still so relevant and loved today.

FullSizeRender (4)

The exhibition is on until 17 April and so I would definitely recommend a visit if you’re a fan and what better time to visit than during the Easter break? There’s also a pretty awesome gift shop with items, such as notebooks, candles, home ware, Etsy-like jewellery and obviously different editions of the book itself.

Bookish Event: In Conversation with E. Lockhart

We Were Liars and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

We Were Liars and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Gosh it’s been a while! And I apologise for the awol-ness! But not to worry as I have a slew of posts in the pipeline to update on all the bookish things I’ve been up to (promise!) 🙂 Now, on to the reason why you’re actually reading this post…

Emily Lockhart does not need any introduction. She wrote We Were Liars which you may have heard about… It is a book that has had readers raving about the characters and writing style as well as agonising over the ending. In testament to just how popular this book is, We Were Liars has just won best YA book at the Goodreads 2014 book awards. Emily’s second book to be published in the UK is The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks whilst she’s written lots of children’s and YA fiction in the US already.

E Lockhart and Anna James

E Lockhart and Anna James from The Book People. On the back of Emily’s hands she has written the words “Read” and “Widely”

Anna James, from The Book People, led the discussion and we got to hear Emily talk about everything from her childhood to her book recs. Emily explained that the storyline of Liars was influenced a lot by her childhood. She used to split her time between a commune, where she lived with her mother, and Martha’s Vineyard with her grandparents in the summer and that’s where the idea behind Cadence and Beechwood came from. Emily said she was fascinated by the idea that a ferry journey could take you to “another life – the summer life”.

Emily mentioned she most associated with the character Gat from Liars, which I wouldn’t have guessed. She explained Gat was an outsider invited into a world of privilege (like Heathcliffe from Wuthering Heights *fangirls*) and Emily likened it to her experience as a scholarship student in a prestigious private school – belonging but not belonging at the same time.

Emily signing books

There were some funny anecdotes like how both Liars and Frankie came about – Liars was conceived because Emily wanted to write about “real estate” (genuinely not making this up!) whilst a lunch with an editor led to an unplanned book deal and Frankie was born. And talking about choosing mottos for characters in Liars, Emily talked about some of the great sayings she’d come across such as “never read anything larger than your house” – one I think should apply to all of us booklovers 😀

Now for all you budding authors out there Emily had some top tips for undergoing the editing process. She said she tries to distance herself from editors comments for the first few days until she’s calmed down. Then she begins with the smallest edits first until even the big edits feel manageable. Butt Emily said if an edit still feels wrong after a week or two, she goes with her gut and sticks to her guns as all authors should.

On the left: "Don't let anyone underestimate you" One the right: "Be a little kinder than you have to... P.S Don't eat yellow snow"

On the left: “Don’t let anyone underestimate you”
One the right: “Be a little kinder than you have to… P.S Don’t eat yellow snow”

Emily also let us in on her favourite books and authors:

Finally, we were also treated to a teeny tiny teaser about Emily’s next book. All she would divulge was that it would have a “little bit of murder” so keep your eyes and ears peeled!

Have you read Liars or managed to get your hands on Frankie yet? Have you read any of Emily’s recommended books above? I’d love to hear about it so let me know in the comments below 🙂

Bookish Event: In Conversation with Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan

I was lucky enough to go and see Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan at Waterstones Piccadilly earlier this week. Maureen Johnson, Queen of Teen winner 2012, is author of the award-winning Shades of London and Scarlett series while the wonderful Sarah Rees Brennan’s is author of the best-selling The Demon’s Lexicon and The Lynburn Legacy series. It’s hard to sum up Thursday’s event so I think it’s best to start off with a photo from the first few minutes…

So where are Maureen and Sarah...?

So where are Maureen and Sarah…?

That is not an empty shot where my timing/photography skills were so poor that I didn’t manage to get Maureen and Sarah in the shot. No siree. They’re in that photo and virtual cookies for you if you can guess where 🙂

… Yes Sarah and Maureen were hiding. They randomly decided to hide behind the banners in Waterstones Piccadilly, the flagship (and largest) bookshop in Europe. And if that doesn’t make you adore them, I don’t know what will.

So that kinda set the tone for the rest of the event. It was more a comedy stand up performance cum catch up with best friend – with the audience as deliriously happy flies on the wall. It was a hundred miles an hour with topics changing faster than you could say “Pleeease tell us what happened to Stephen?!”

MJ and SRB Book Stack

The Name of the Star and The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson and Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

The event started off with an earsplitting squeaking contest (as you do) followed by Sarah and Maureen sharing lots and lots of anecdotes. I tweeted a snapshot summary which you may have seen if you follow me (if you don’t, you should!) and that wasn’t even a fraction of it. Behold a list of only some of the topics covered in the space of just one hour:

  • Chilling in cemeteries a la Sarah (she’s searching for Emmeline Pankhurst’s grave)
  • A flirting and stalking peacock that took a serious liking to Maureen in Ireland
  • Greencest and the potential continuation of A Study in Sink, Maureen’s John & Hank Green/Benedict Cumberbatch charity fanfic…
  • Sarah’s 3 minute book summaries – and a demo with Fifty Shades of Grey no less, which was obviously hilarious
  • Dinosaur porn – it’s a thing, ask Sarah who is highly knowledgeable on the topic…
  • Crazy fan experiences, featuring fairies (who wanted to buy Sarah’s books using their currency of buttons) and The Hoff although not at the same time, which is a shame really
  • Benedict Cumberbatch and Maureen thinking “he would do it a number of times” – you can make of that what you will…
  • Cabbie lies, wherein Maureen and Sarah masquerade as NASA experts and “those doctors that treat babies” when making small talk with taxi drivers
  • Why rational adults are not allowed in YA novels – “because they wouldn’t let our protagonists engage in plot” duh.
MJ and SRB

Sarah and Maureen speaking about approximately 50 million topics

One serious moment saw Maureen speaking about her Coverflip project, where she called on her thousands of Twitter followers to re-create covers of popular books imagining that the authors were of the opposite gender. Twitter responded, brilliantly illustrating the different biases for covers created for female authors and male authors. Maureen explained that in the publishing world readers hold a lot of power: “reading culture is changed by readers demanding change from publishers” and that it is our responsibility, alongside authors, to call for the changes we want to see.

Maureen and Sarah signed their books and gave out little goodies. The third book in Sarah’s Lynburn Legacy series was also on sale – a month before the release date which was a treat! All in all, it was the best fun I’ve had in a while and I seriously can’t remember the last time I laughed so much.

MJ and SRB Signed Books

Signed goodies!

Have you been lucky enough to hear Maureen or Sarah talk at an event? Are you fans of their books? Let me know in the comments below!

Bookish Event: In Conversation with David Levithan and James Dawson

  Two Boys Kissing This Book is Gay

Earlier this week I went to an event at Waterstones Piccadilly which hosted David Levithan and James Dawson, two authors who have written some of the best LGBT* YA fiction available.

The event was kicked off with David reading from his popular book, Two Boys Kissing, about two boys who try to break the world record for the longest kiss. David gave us a short background about the book – that it was based on a true story and that it initially started off as a short story. David’s reading was mesmerising, I always find there’s something unique about an author reading from their own book – you hear it being read how they envisaged it being read. James also read his favourite part from the book and it was great to see the obvious emotion that he felt reading the passage.

David Levithan reading from his book Two Boys Kissing

There were some funny moments like when James told us about his teenage crush on Dean Cain, the actor who played Superman in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and how he still finds him attractive (google him and decide for yourself
:D). But there were also some serious moments. James and David spoke about the different experiences of public acceptance and LGBT* culture between different generations. I also agreed with David’s opinion that the internet had both improved and worsened the experience of LGBT* youth nowadays. He believed the internet provided people with a sanctuary but also allowed mistakes, which would have gone unnoticed before, to be broadcast quickly and viciously online.

On diversity in YA fiction, David said that “We need diverse authors, we need diverse books. But there doesn’t need to be a direct correlation between the two” – authors should never feel they aren’t “qualified” to write about characters from different backgrounds to them. 

photo 1 (1)

Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Every Day, Say Her Name

James also read from his hotly anticipated book, This Book is Gay (released 4 September 2014). The book is written in a really fun and conversational way making it refreshingly different from your average non-fiction book. He gave us an insight into writing the book and how he’d turned into a nag asking people to share their experiences for the book to strict deadlines. James also joked about releasing a new edition called “This Book is Gayer” which I think would go down really well! 

James Dawson reading from his book This Book is Gay

James Dawson reading from his book This Book is Gay

David and James finished off the conversation with their current recommended reads. They both agreed that Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith was an absolute must-read and David also recommended The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith for fans of his and Rachel Cohn’s book Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

It was a great event and I met some lovely bookish people including one David Levithan fan who had been at Waterstones since 2pm (the event began at 6.30pm!) and had hauled 15 of his books all the way from Somerset! I also managed to get all my books signed and get a photo with David too – bonus! 

photo (4)

Have you read any books by David Levithan or James Dawson? Have you been to a book event lately? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below 🙂