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My Dream Book Panel!

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Recently, I was inspired by the lovely people at Eventbrite who asked me who I would want to see at my dream book convention? Dedicated readers will know I’m a huge fan of YALC and I spend way too much time dreaming about attending BEA or YALLWEST over in the U S of A, so it got me thinking… who would I *really* want to see? And what would I want them to discuss?

(And also, why haven’t I purchased my ticket to YALC yet?!)

First up…

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I’d like to see a panel on world building with authors who really know their stuff when it comes to creating weird and wonderful fantasy worlds. This panel would be all about writing fantasy, world-building and lots of tips for the audience on how each author works. We’d need only the best for this one so I’d pick:

  • V E Schwab, author of the Darker Shades of Magic trilogy
  • Laini Taylor, author of Strange the Dreamer
  • George R R Martin, author of the Song of Ice and Fire series

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I’ve been reading some super huge books recently, and so I’d like a panel with authors of some huge books to discuss writing fantasy, writing a huge quantity and how they have built their worlds. This panel would focus on authors who publish big books at a superhuman speed and so would feature:

  • Sarah J Maas, author of the ACOTAR and Throne of Glass series
  • Cassandra Clare, author of the Shadowhunters’ many series
  • Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn trilogy, among many others

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You can’t have a hyped book convention without some elusive authors with an exclusive talk. This panel would focus on the price and pressure of fame after a super hyped book, and their decision to stay in/out of the limelight. This would be the panel everyone would be clamoring to go to and would feature:

  • Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series
  • Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games
  • J K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series

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So many fantasies focus on royalty, and I think a panel focusing on the challenges and fun of writing about princesses, princes, kings and queens would be an interesting addition. I’d go for an range of authors, including:

  • Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries
  • Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles
  • Renee Ahdieh, author of the Wrath and the Dawn duology

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Now, I don’t think a book convention would be nearly as good without bookish friends and a heap of the amazing UKYA authors which have always made YALC such a special time. These authors I would probably listen to talk about Quorn cocktail sausages, but I’m sure they could come up with a few interesting themes between them!

  • Katherine Webber, author of Wing Jones
  • Non Pratt, author of Truth or Dare
  • Sara Barnard, author of A Quiet Kind of Thunder
  • Catherine Doyle, author of the Mafiosa trilogy
  • Holly Smale, author of the Geek Girl series
  • Lisa Williamson, author of All About Mia
  • Alice Oseman, author of Radio Silence
  • Sarah Crossan, author of One
  • Holly Bourne, author of the Spinster trilogy
  • and so so many more amazing authors!

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I’d love to see panels on topics such as diversity, mental health, feminism, disability, politics in YA, dystopias, LGBTQ, and so many more – I think sometimes the topic of the panel is what makes it so interesting rather than necessarily the speakers.

Check out Eventbrite’s conference page if you’re interested in hosting and organizing your own events!

So there are a few of my dream book panels! Who would you want to see? What would they talk about? Would you like to see some of my panels? Comment below, tweet me at @annalisebooks or create your own post – I’d love to know!

annalsie

 

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My YALC Reading List: Part 1

I’m sure many of you UK Book Bloggers (and perhaps even some of you from overseas!) have started seeing that the authors that will be attending the Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) in London in July have started to be announced! I’m still yet to buy my ticket (I should *really* get on that) but I’m already excited to meet new authors and old and new friends.

The first batch of authors was released a while ago and there’s a mix of YALC stalwarts and some new faces.

Last year, I wrote the YALC Reading List, which was a really useful exercise for me to get to know all of the authors at YALC and I went in as a bit of an expert – if I do say so myself – on the authors and their books. This year, I am more experienced in the book blogging world, but if you’d like to see this again, please do comment or tweet at me at @annalisebooks! You can find all my old posts about YALC 2016 on the blog and there’s a link to all ELEVEN parts here.

But back to YALC 2017, here’s the first part of my reading list…

This section corresponds to the authors announced in the first announcement, and there are some amazing authors there whose books I have already read (and some that I’m not interested in reading) so these are my unread titles…

  1. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
  2. The Other Half of Happiness by Ayisha Malik (Sofia Khan #2!)
  3. Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
  4. Windfall by Jennifer E Smith (thank you MyKindaBook for sending me this beautiful finished copy!)
  5. The Gilded Cage by Vic James

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What will you be reading for YALC 2017? Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks!

annalsie

 

Review: The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

The State of Grace
The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: advanced reader copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

The State of Grace is the YA debut of Rachael Lucas, and it’s an OwnVoices novel about a teenage girl, the aforementioned Grace, who has Asperger’s. It’s been a long time coming for actual autistic representation in fiction, and especially in YA, which is known for tackling different subjects especially around mental health (and disability, to an extent).

As someone with family experience of autism, there were touches here and there which really make this book special, little insights into the life of an autistic person and how autistic people are treated as people. This is what really elevated this book for me – this is a book crafted with care from personal experience and it’s relatable and understandable.

Grace is a realistic character and feels more ‘teenage’ than some YA heroines as she gets to grip with teenage love and deals with school bullies and teachers and being a teenage girl. The romance in this book is sweet and, although I’m tired of every YA heroine needing a swoony love interest, we also need to be aware of the desexualisation of disabled people and that relationships with and between disabled people can, and do, exist and flourish.

I also loved that this book was set in North West England and I’m pretty sure I spotted some of the places from my childhood in this book so it gets a big thumps up from me for that!

The State of Grace is a quick, sweet and funny read that fills a much needed gap in UK YA. A must-read!

View all my reviews

annalsie

Review: If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

If Birds Fly Back
If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: advanced reader copy received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

If Birds Fly Back is the story of Linny and Sebastian, set in a Miami summer at an old folks home called Silver Springs. Linny is still coming to terms with her older sister Grace’s disappearance and dealing with the pressure her parents are putting on her to become a doctor, and Sebastian has just found out who his father is, and has trekked from California to Miami to finally meet him. And then, Linny and Sebastian’s paths cross.

This book is written in dual perspective between Linny and Sebastian, which I really liked, and it’s sweet and adorable and nerdy – Sebastian dreams of being an astrophysicist and Linny wants to be a filmmaker, and we see physics quotes and film scripts throughout which up the cute factor.

Other reviewers have written about reading this book super quickly – I didn’t, I read this on the tube on my phone in the few moments I could get to a book and found the chapters the perfect length to dip in and out of. I will however say that this book is compelling, and the mystery element works really well here. Both Sebastian and Linny have really interesting premises, and I can definitely understand the addictive quality of this book.

This book also had a good dose of parents and complicated parental relationships, which is something I haven’t seen too much of in YA, and I loved the focus on where the characters will go after school, which is something so important and life-changing for many teens that we don’t always see in YA. I really liked Linny’s flawed friendship with Cass – I’m a big fan of friendships which aren’t perfect and unrealistic and Cass was a really interesting character in her own right. Sebastian also had a great (and realistic) friendship with his best friend back in California.

What I did notice throughout this book were the numerous bird references which were a really nice touch and not overdone.

If you loved Harriet Reuter Hapgood’s The Square Root of Summer, you’ll love this. The perfect summer read and a sure-fire summer hit.

View all my reviews

annalsie

Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Dislcaimer: Copy received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

Last January, Truthwitch was a book with a beautiful cover that was getting A LOT of hype around it. Written by the infallible Sarah J. Maas’ best friend, Susan Dennard, any fan of YA fantasy was desperate to get their hands on this brand new fantasy series about witches, friendship and elemental control.

Fast forward to January 2017, and I’ve *finally* read Truthwitch in anticipation for Windwitch, and I’ve come to the conclusion that all the hype was justified.
Truthwitch is the story of four main characters – Safiya, the truthwitch, Iseult, the threadwitch, Aedeon, the bloodwitch, and Merik, the windwitch. Truthwitch is Safi’s story, but the book focuses on all four main characters pretty equally throughout the book. I won’t go into the plot too much, but essentially Aedeon is in pursuit of Safiya and Iseult for Safiya’s truthwitch abilities, and Safi and Iseult escape the city on Merik’s ship. Each character is fleshed out with interesting and mysterious back story, and some of my favourite scenes were when we learnt a little more about each character’s background.

I also loved how the characters in this book have motives and no character is 100% good or evil.

As well as some pretty kick ass characters, the world building is extensive and original – I loved the different types of witches, some of which are completely new to me (threadwitches, for example). The world is so rich that some scenes almost come flying off the page as if they were on screen (especially some of the scenes with Safi and Iseult).

The friendship between Safi and Iseult was refreshing and a feature which I loved – rarely does a friendship in a novel eclipse any romances. Their friendship was well done and powerful.

The only reason this is a 4 star read rather than 5 stars for me was pacing – I felt this book was a little slow at times, or perhaps a little long at 400 pages.

Personally, I can’t wait to delve into Windwitch which I have heard is even better, and I look forward to returning to this beautiful world and its characters.
View all my reviews

annalsie

Review: A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

A Quiet Kind of Thunder
A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a proof of this book from My Kinda Book in exchange for an honest review.

Last year, I read a great debut novel that became the biggest selling debut YA novel of 2016. That book didn’t have a romance in it, which was (and still is) unusual for YA. Beautiful Broken Things focused on the friendship between two best friends and how that changed when a new friend entered the mix.

Sara Barnard is back in 2017 with a brand new novel, but this one *is* a romance. A Quiet Kind of Thunder is the story of Steffi, a teenage girl with selective mutism embarking on sixth form, and Rhys, a deaf boy who transfers to Steffi’s sixth form.

I’m always wary with books that tackle disability about how realistic and lifelike they are – there’s a really tendency for characters with a disability to be miraculously cured, but AQKOT feels like it has been well-researched and is sensitive. I learnt a lot about mutism and British Sign Language in this book, and it made me more aware and conscious about interacting with deaf people (for example, making sure they can read your lips if they are lip-reading).

This is a really special romance because Barnard gets awkward teenage flirting. The texts between Steffi and Rhys feel so real, and I fell in love with this book so quickly. I can’t really explain how much I loved the romance between these two, but it was cute and adorable and perfect.

I also really enjoyed how this book doesn’t shy away from sex. The sex in this book was realistic and well-done, and felt age-appropriate.

I can’t believe we’re only at the beginning of 2017 and this is already a very strong contender for my favourite book of 2017. An absolute must-read – and the cover is so shiny and beautiful and I think I need it on my shelf (I only have the proof!). Go and buy it now!

View all my reviews

Annalise x

The Changing Covers of… The Mortal Instruments Series

Welcome to the first in (hopefully) a series that I’m doing mostly for personal interest… ‘The Changing Covers of…’ will look at how different countries have envisioned the same book (and how that actually changes over time).

On the topic of covers, some covers suck. Other covers are brilliant, but then the publisher decides to go in a different direction. I have way too many series where the series starts with one cover, but ends with something completely different. Luckily in YA, we have some honest-to-goodness GORGEOUS covers, and I think TMI is no exception. Let’s get started!

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City of Bones, Early UK edition

This is actually the copy of City of Bones which I own, as I was an early adopter of the series and I live in the UK. The City of Ashes cover is similar (albeit red) and the City of Glass cover of this set was revealed… but the copy I received was of the original US editions (they decided to go in a different direction of what was then the last book!). I think this cover makes the series seem darker than it actually is, and although I picked up this copy due to rave reviews, I’m not sure this cover really reflects the fun of the first book.

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Mortal Instruments series, First US editions

These were the original covers for the US (and later the UK) – I love the covers for the last three books (with their bold use of colour) and I also love the cityscapes. These will always be the original covers to me.

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US edition, Redesign

Photo Credit: bibliomantics.com

I LOVE THESE COVERS. I think only after all the books were released into the wild, beautiful covers like this could come into existence. The spine art is amazing, and they go so well together as a set, with each book featuring one of the main characters. It’s becoming more and more difficult to resist buying a set of these.

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Photo Credit: mybooksareme.weebly.com

UK Redesign

I’m not such a huge fan of these covers – whereas the images are intricate and the colours bright, these books look a little boring to me (in comparison to the action-packed US covers). Not for me, unfortunately.

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Photo Credit: amyriadofbooks.blogspot.com

Germany

I like these, but they seem too fantastical middle grade for this series. I like the colours and the cityscapes, but not sure what if they set the right expectations for the books.

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Photo Credit: gbshortcake.com

Movie Edition

This cover came out when the Mortal Instruments movie was released – and I think overall it’s actually pretty good. It’s dark and mysterious, and I still prefer the US editions, but it’s not the worst cover I’ve seen (and I think it would work well even if it wasn’t a movie poster).

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Photo Credit: Shadowhunters.com

TV Show Edition

Not the edition I’d buy if I had the choice, but definitely a way of getting fans of the TV show into the book series!

Which are your favourite covers? Are there any here that you’d like to see featured? Tweet me at @annalisbooks or comment below!

Annalise x