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24 July 2017

Packing for YALC (YALC #4)

This week. I'm hauling myself down to London this week for the Young Adult Literature Convention ,at London Film and Comic Convention. How has it sneaked up on me so quickly when I'm writing about it every week? I haven't even started packing. Or narrowed down my books.

YALC is the UK’s Young Adult Literature Convention:
a celebration of the very best young adult books and authors.

So what am I packing?

Well, clothes. And books. Obviously. I'm going for the whole weekend and it's a book convention. They're kind of necessary things. Oh and toiletries and makeup, because they're kind of required too. And a hair brush if I can find one (does anyone else's go missing all of the time?).

But what about the wee bits? The extra bits that I'm squeezing into my suitcase? Let's have a neb.
  • A portable charger and cable
    Last year I only went for a day and took a single charge bank, and thank goodness! I was constantly checking Twitter and Instagram to see if I could find people and that drained my battery pretty quickly.
  • A plain white kindle cover
    I am not going to take a lot of books down, mainly because I know I'll buy plenty. But a kindle cover is small and light and as it's plain I can get authors to sign it! Plus I read a lot on my kindle nowadays.
  • A poster tube
    I ended up with about ten posters last year from just one day, and by the time I'd dragged them around in my bag all day and then 300+ miles home they were pretty rough around the edges. Not this time!
  • Permanent markers
    OK, so there are in my bag pretty much all of the time anyway for literary graffiti in pub toilets (shhh) but they're pretty handy for when you stealth attack authors unofficially and get them to sign stuff.
  • Ear plugs
    OK, so these are mostly for the accommodation. I live in a pretty rural area with not much noise apart from a few planes overhead, so I pretty much always need ear plugs to sleep in London. Noise makes my eyes hurt (I'm weird) so I'll probably have some in for part of the event too.
  • Haribo
    If you meet me at pretty much any bookish event ever, I'll have a bag of Haribo Starmix stashed somewhere about my person. Sometimes I just really need the sugar. And yes, I share.
  • A paper fan
    It was BOILING last year. I'm from proper up North where the hottest it gets in summer is 18 °C and you don't wear a coat out even in winter, so these Southern climes really don't suit me. I'm hoping this will prevent the Melting Makeup which afflicted me last year.
  • Print outs of EVERYTHING in triplicate
    This is because I will lose something. I always lose something. Like that time I bought my tickets for the train at the station and had lost them by the time I got to the ticket barrier...
I'm still debating on whether to take a flask, as I didn't last year and I was gasping for a cuppa by the end of the day. But this year I am also staying right around the corner, so I can pop back to base to replenish my tea needs. Hmmm...

What are the little extras you take when you travel?

21 July 2017

Blog Tour: Review: The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara

One summer, property seeker, Serendipity Parker finds herself on the beautiful west coast of Ireland, hunting for a home for a wealthy Irish client. But when she finds the perfect house in the small town of Ballykiltara, there's a problem; nobody seems to know who owns it.

'The Welcome House' is a local legend. Its front door is always open for those in need of shelter, and there's always a plentiful supply of food in the cupboards for the hungry or poor. 

While Ren desperately tries to find the owner to see if she can negotiate a sale, she begins to delve deeper into the history and legends that surround the old house and the town. But for a woman who has always been focused on her work, she's remarkably distracted by Finn, the attractive manager of the local hotel.
But will she ever discover the real truth behind the mysterious 'Welcome House'? Or will the house cast its magical spell over Ren and help her to find true happiness?

Source: Review Consideration | Blog Tour

5 Words: Community, friendship, attraction, history, belief.

What a perfect summer read!

I have to admit, I wasn't feeling it when I started. It was miserable and raining outside, it felt like summer has disappeared, and I wasn't hooked from the start. But five chapters in that all changed. The weather outside was still awful, but it was summer in my head and I couldn't put the book down.

I loved the setting, although I did roll my eyes a wee bit at some of the stereotypes.

I didn't really like the main character so much, I thought that Ren was rather bull-headed and unsympathetic. When she talked so much about her own heritage and wasn't prepared to respect someone else's, she rubbed me up the wrong way. But I loved Kiki. She made for some truly hilarious moments and reminded me of my sister.

There are various sub plots in this story, and my favourite of these was the one that revolved around the mystery of the Welcome House.

The Summer of Serendipity is fun and at times fanciful, perfect for a summer escape.

Book Beginnings #48

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading Girlhood by Cat Clarke.
We always have a midnight feast on the first night back. Because that’s what you do at boarding school, right?
Boarding school books are my catnip, and this one is off to a cracking start. I feel it really sets the scene and the tone of the story.

I go this book from the lovely Rachel for my birthday. It is another YALC read (although the author is no longer appearing) and my third Zoella Book Club read. And I can't wait to get stuck in.
A spider has woven its web across the porch and sits in the middle, at head height. A face full of spider is never a good start t the day.
Urgh, I know this feeling! It's the worst.

I can't wait to find out more and get properly started on this, as I have high expectations. So many people have loved it.

20 July 2017

The Mid Year Freakout

It's half way through the year, and I'm having a Mini Mid Year Freakout. I am behind on my reading challenge by six whole books (eek!) and to be honest I'm starting to feel like my blog is stagnating. So looking back seems like a good way to perk myself back up and remind me why I book blog in the first place.

This started as a book tag which I saw on rosiefrecklereads and Pretty Purple Polkadots, and I'm stealing it for myself. I don't usually join in with tags, but I couldn't help myself.

I have read 76 out of 150 books this year for my Goodreads Challenge, and I am currently 6 books behind.

The Best Book of the Year So Far
Fir by Sharon Gosling. It was so chilling, I got so caught up in the story. I ended up a wee bit afraid to go outside in the snow and the dark.

The Best Sequel of the Year So Far
Naondel by  Maria Turtschaninoff. Although it's technically set before Maresi, it's the second book in the Red Abbey Chronicles. It was moving and powerful and... I just want to read it again already.

A New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To
And Then We Ran by Katy Cannon. A road-trip story about following your dreams and embracing the unexpected, I don't think I need any further reason to want to read it!

Most Anticipated Release for Autumn/Winter
Tarnished City by Vic James. I suppose this is actually a late summer release as it's due out in September, but I can't wait. Gilded Cage was one of my favourite reads last year.

Your Biggest Disappointment of the Year So Far
Windfall by Jennifer E Smith. There was so much hype, but I just expected more. It was nice.

Your Biggest Surprise of the Year So Far
Wing Jones by Katherine Webber. Yup, I judged this by the cover. I looked at that trainer and thought Sport and Nah and I was so wrong.

Your Newest Favourite Author
Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff. I keep on going on about this author and her books and my excitement that Maresi has been optioned by Film4.

Your New Favourite Character
Margot & Me by Juno Dawson. Margot is amazing and I loved reading her diary entries. I'd happily read a book of just her diary entries.

Your Newest Fictional Crush
Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi. I fell in love with Nina straight away, flaws and all. Especially her flaws.

A Book That Has Made You Cry
One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton. I was in bits reading this book. It was wonderful and absolutely heartbreaking. Perfect.

A Book That Has Made You Happy
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu. This book made my heart so happy, and it being part of Zoella Book Club just made me even happier. #MoxieGirlsFightBack

The Most Beautiful Book of the Year So Far
Following Ophelia by Sophia Bennett. The writing is beautiful and slightly decadent, rich with research and passion. I was absolutely blown away by it and can't wait to see what happens next.

Some Books You Need to Read Before 2017 Ends
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
The Treatment by C.L. Taylor
Another Place by Matthew Crow
Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls

What has your year of reading been like so far?

17 July 2017

Planning My Days (YALC #3)

When the YALC schedule was released I reached peak excitement - it's really happening, I'm going, and I'd better get planning what I'm doing on the days so I know which books to take.

YALC is the UK’s Young Adult Literature Convention:
a celebration of the very best young adult books and authors.
These lists below is definitely not exhaustive - I've already met a lot of authors at previous events and had my treasured babies signed. These are the ones that I'm going to haul books 300 miles for. I'm definitely going to find time to talk to a couple others too, so depending on how my packing goes (check back next Monday) I'll probably see a lot more.

That said, this is just the stuff that's high up on my list. I'm very much a pantser rather than a planner for everything, so I'll probably definitely not make all of these, I'd just like to try.


  • Heroines
  • Thrillers
  • Decorative Containers
    I'm not really crafty at all, but this sounds fun and I like trying to do crafty things.
  • Regency Dancing
    I can't dance. At all. But I think this will be hilarious.
  • Sophia Bennett
  • David Owen
  • Kevin Brooks
  • Teri Terry
  • Emily Barr

  • New Voices
  • Genre-Bending
  • Unconventional Romance
  • Myth, Magic and Fairy-Tale
  • Nail Art
    I missed this last year and NOT THIS TIME. I am getting pretty, bookish nail.
  • Books to Bags
    I've always wanted to do this, although for my kind of bag I'll probably need a large print encyclopedia.
  • Glitter Faces
    Non is doing something incredible for charity!
  • Vic James
  • Alex Bell
  • Zoë Marriott
  • Peadar Ó Guilín

  • Fandom
  • Writing and Social Change
  • Life Advice
  • Suffragette Nails
  • Charm Bracelets
    I think these will be the perfect keepsakes for the event.
  • Chris Russell
  • Rebecca Denton
I am going to be exhausted by the end, but I know it's going to be amazing and totally worth it. Even with the inevitable the sore back from hauling books around.

Are there any authors you'd love to meet?

15 July 2017

Blog Tour: Review: Little Boy Found by LK Fox

When He Found His Little Boy, Nick Thought The Nightmare Was Over... It Was Only The Beginning.

One rainy morning, just after Nick drops off his young son Gabriel outside the crowded school gates, he has a minor collision with another car. The driver won't surrender his insurance details, so Nick photographs the licence plate.

When he gets home, he enlarges the shot on his phone and spots something odd about the picture-Gabriel in the back seat, being driven away by a stranger.

Nick needs to know what happened to his boy, but losing Gabriel turns out to be far less terrible than the shock of finding him. Now, to discover the truth, he must relive the nightmare all over again...

Be warned, this is not another missing child story: what happened to Nick and his son is far more shocking. 

Source: Review Consideration | Blog Tour

5 Words: Family, guilt, blame, mystery, lost.

Straight away, I was a little thrown by the story. The narrators are wonderfully unreliable, especially at the start when you are getting to know them.

I do have to say that I wasn't expecting the two narratives, and it was very confusing at first, but I definitely appreciated Ella's perspective and timeline. I think at times I preferred it.

This was a nice mystery, a comfortable mix of predictable and surprising. I found that at the beginning I was very angry at how Ella and Nick were treated by the people around them. I really liked how the school showed sympathy to Nick and how over the years the attitude of the parents was the thing that slowly turned hostile - I could understand both sides, who would want the reminder on their doorstep?

This is a perfect ebook when you need a thriller.

14 July 2017

Book Beginnings #47

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading After The Fire by Will Hill.
I sprint across the yard, my eyes streaming, my heart pounding in my chest.
I have heard a lot about this book because of SundayYA and Zoella Book Club, and I am buddy-reading again with my lovely librarian friend. This is another YALC read (I feel like I'm powering through them!) and my second Zoella Book Club read.

This first line is pretty intense. It's off to a fast paced start and I hope this continues.
He stares into the rapt faces of our younger Brothers and Sisters, then turns and looks up into the nearest corner of the room.
This book is very sinister, and I think this line from page 56 really captures that without giving away too much. And I really want to keep reading to find out everything there is to know about Moonbeam's life.

10 July 2017

Booking Everything (YALC #2)

It's creeping even closer to YALC and the excitement is building. This is the second in my month of Monday YALC posts, so check back every Monday to find out more. #YALC2017.

Last year I booked everything super last minute, pretty much on a whim. This year I booked a few months in advance. So here's some top tips for if you're still on the fence about booking, or if you're only half way through the process.

YALC is the UK’s Young Adult Literature Convention:
a celebration of the very best young adult books and authors.

What prompted me to book last year was someone tweeting that Virgin Trains East Coast has a sale on, and it covered YALC weekend. I'd just been paid my bonus, everyone around me on Twitter was talking about it, so I did it. I booked the first train on the Saturday morning and the last train on the Saturday night. I grabbed a Saturday day ticket. Then I had a week to panic about what I'd done.

Step One  - Figure Out How Long You're Going For
How long do you want to go for?

Which day(s) can you go?

This will have to be the start of your plans. The YALC Schedule is now up, so have a look and decide who you want to see most, and what you want to do the most. Once you've decided, book your ticket.

It's also worth taking a peek at  the photo sessions for LFCC in case there's someone you really want to get a photo with, you can either purchase the shoots at the same time as your tickets or book them after.

Book your YALC Tickets.

Step Two - Check Your Travel Options
My biggest obstacle to any event in London is always the price of travel. At the absolute minimum I tend to be looking at £65 each way for a standard ticket. But if you shop around you can get them cheaper.
  • Go Direct
    When I went direct to the carrier, I ended up with two First Class tickets for a total of £56 because of the sale. Unlimited tea and free wi-fi for the win!
  • Split Tickets
    When I went to YAShot later in the year I split my tickets at Split Ticketing. This brought my price down and I didn't have to switch trains (but I couldn't reserve a seat).
  • Avoid The Trainline
    I always thought they'd have the best prices, especially for late bookings, but it's always been at least £10 a ticket cheaper elsewhere.
  • Can you Coach?
    Depending on how far away you are, it may be worth getting the coach. For me it'd be a maximum of £25 each way, but it would also mean around 8 hours of travel just to get to London.
Book your Travel Tickets.

Step Three - Book Accommodation (If Needed)
The only time I've actually stayed in London for an event was for YAShot and I stayed at the Travelodge right around the corner. Think about how far away from the venue you want to be, whether you want to be able to walk to the venue or if you're fine taking the tube.
  • Check Chain Hotels
    They are pretty much always at popular locations, cheap and cheerful and you know what you're going to get.
  • Airbnb
    You can find all sorts on here, from a room in a family home to a whole property to yourself.
  • Student Accomodations
    If Halls are empty, then university's are not making money from them. A lot of uni's allow you to rent student accommodation during the holidays and it's usually super cheap.
Book your Accommodation.

Step Four - Print Everything
If I ever have important tickets or reservations, I print them in triplicate and store them in all sorts of weird places. I am constantly forgetting or misplacing things, so it helps me feel at ease.
  • Print Everything
    Make sure you have hard copies of everything you need, like tickets and reservations and booking confirmations. Make sure you read it all through.
  • Print It Again
    No harm in having a back-up or two. Especially if you're like me and lose everything, always.
  • Go Digital
    Save copies of any print-outs as documents or even screen shots on your phone, and email them to yourself. This way you have a digital copy and worst case scenario can access your emails to get at a digital copy.
Print it all.

Step Five - Jump for Joy

Join in all of the chats about YALC before the event to pick up all sorts of tips and tricks, arrange to meet people at the event, start narrowing down which books you're going to take... You've done the hard bit, it's pretty plain sailing from here.

Are you going to YALC? What's on your top tip for booking?

07 July 2017

Book Beginnings #46

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence. This is my first time

I am currently reading The Call by Peadar Ó Guilín.
On her tenth birthday Nessa overhears an argument in her parents' bedroom. She knows nothing about the Three Minutes yet. How could she? The whole of society is working to keep its children innocent.
To be honest, I didn't find this the strongest of openings. Based only on these lines I wouldn't have continued. But I give books a five-chapter chance to hook me and this one hooked me good.

I have seen a lot of people talking about and recommending The Call, and the people of Twitter picked it as my first YALC read, so I finally picked it up and I'm buddy reading it with my librarian bestie, five chapters a day.
In the following week two boys are Called from Year 6, both with unhappy outcomes. That's three boys in a row, and the superstitious girls of the college are finding it hard to sleep.
For some reason, if you pick just a couple of line from anywhere in this book it doesn't really work. 

This is quite frustrating because as a whole, so far this book is pretty marvellous and addictive and I've really struggled not to race through it. I'd find this book super easy to devour in one sitting. By this point, I'd already convinced my reading buddy to add an extra five chapters on to our daily chapters, and once she'd caught up she convinced me to add yet another five chapters.

I'm now over half way through and I can't wait to finish!

03 July 2017

YALC Reading List (YALC #1)

It's now YALC month and I can barely contain my excitement. Check back every Monday in July for a different post about the event, from what I'm reading to what I'm packing, what the big day entails and my wrap up. #YALC2017.

YALC is the UK’s Young Adult Literature Convention:
a celebration of the very best young adult books and authors.

I did one day of YALC last year and it was exhausting and exhilarating in equal measure, so I can't wait to do the whole weekend this year. Give me a shout if you're going to be there because I'd love to meet some fellow bookworms.

There are a lot of authors coming this year that I've already met last year at YALC, at YA Shot and at UKYACX and I am super excited to meet them again and have an opportunity to fangirl be their personal cheerleader.

As I was looking at the list of authors attending I noticed that there are a fair few I haven't read yet. And as I looked a little closer I realised that I actually have a lot of their books sitting on my shelf right now, unread.
As you can see, I'm planning to read two YALC books each week before the event. If you follow me on Twitter you can even have your say as to which I will read and when and I'll be holding regular polls to decide which one to pick up next.

Are you going to YALC? What's on your reading list?