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Why I won’t be attending YALC this year

I’ve attended YALC for the past three years and I thought I’d be attending this year, but I’ve made the decision to give it a miss. I’ve been conflicted about this because I will have extreme FOMO, and I’ve made so many great friends in the bookish community who I’d love to catch up with over the YALC weekend. I’ve had some great times at previous YALCs, finally meeting twitter friends and making new friends over the weekend.

If you’re interested in my previous YALC posts, here they are:

YALC 2016: Day 1!

YALC 2017: The Wrap-Up

YALC, ARCs, and other Acronyms

 

  1. Cost

I mentioned this as one of my YALC hang-ups last year – it’s not cheap attending YALC. The biggest cost for me would be hotels (over £100 a night) and once you’ve added in train tickets and the ticket to the event itself, I’d be looking at over £500 for a weekend. I think I’d be happy to pay this if I didn’t have other problems with YALC, but I do (and I will discuss them below). 

It’s important to also factor in the cost of food and eating out (it’s lovely to have a meal after a long day at the convention, but it can still be expensive or awkward on a tight budget) and the fact that I cannot control myself when it comes to buying books. I bought a few books on recommendation of friends, and also got a few books pre-release (last year it was Loneliest Girl by Lauren James). The atmosphere of YALC can make it very difficult to stop yourself from buying books, and some events will have you running to Waterstones as soon as the event has finished to pick up the entire backlist of this inspiring author you’ve just discovered.

I’m not entirely sure what could be done about reducing the cost of YALC – potentially moving from a central London location, not being part of London Film and Comic Con… I’m not sure there’s an easy answer.

For me, I’ll hopefully be moving back to London at the end of this year and so next year’s YALC will be cheaper for me to attend. The money saved from not going to YALC I’m sure will come in handy too. 

2. Accessibility/comfort

From my experiences last year, YALC needs to be a lot more clued up around making the event accessible. My main concern is around proof drops being announced on Twitter and expecting attendees to run for ARCs, but there are also issues around long queues for authors and a lack of comfortable seating.

The seats last year for the panel events really hurt my back, and so I went to very few panel events. There’s a general lack of seating (and it’s even worse at LFCC) around the floor, and so I spent a lot of time sitting on a very hard floor, making my back and legs hurt. I’d love there to be more comfy chairs for people to sit around and get to know each other better.

3. ARCs

This is a big one for me – I’ve written previously about how the distribution of proofs and ARCs at YALC can be ableist, anxiety-inducing and I actually think they can ruin the spirit of YALC. Pitting bloggers against one another ruins the community spirit. Last year, I experienced pushing, shoving, long queues for proofs, and embarrassing challenges. The saddest part for me is that I had some bad first impressions of new bloggers, especially those who fought for (sometimes multiple copies of) proofs just to trade them away on Twitter days later.

So many publishers announce their giveaways on Twitter and often during popular panels which leads bloggers to have to decide between seeing their favourite authors and possibly getting their hands on a favourite new book. I shouldn’t have to carry around my phone all weekend, using up my data plan and running low on battery, just to be able to take part in YALC. 

On the ARCs themselves – I am overwhelmed with the number of books on my TBR pile, and some of the ARCs I got from YALC last year I didn’t end up reading because they were inundated with bad reviews. There have been some real gems that I’ve loved, but I don’t think it’s a particularly great idea this year for me to supplement my book shelves with another stack of books just before the big move (and also I think my bookshelves may actually collapse).

4. Attendees

At this moment in time, 75% of authors attending have been announced – and honestly, I have met and loved most of the list. It’s not a bad thing to have authors who have previously attended on the list, but no-one has been announced who I just have to go and meet because this will be my only opportunity. A lot of UKYA authors will be touring the UK with their future books, and there is plenty of opportunity to meet them at other times – and you’ll probably get to spend a little more time talking to them. 

I’m hoping to discuss this more in a later blog post, but I haven’t been impressed with the diversity of authors announced so far – for example, there are only a handful of BAME authors attending. I don’t want to comment on this fully now until the entire author list has been announced and the timetable has been confirmed. I’m also hoping to address soon the fact I’d love to see YALC better facilitated to introduce bloggers and inspire bloggers and vloggers to collaborate and create content, rather than the focus being on meeting authors, but again, I will address that once the full programme has been released.

5. Exploitative/uncomfortable atmosphere

I wasn’t sure whether to mention this, but LFCC is built on fans paying good money to buy a signed photograph and talk to their favourite star (quite often, but not always, a woman they’ve seen scantily clad on TV). 

It’s a majority male (but not exclusively male) event, with many popular fandoms represented (Doctor Who, Star Wars, Marvel Cinematic Universe, etc.). Cosplay for women (from a quick Google Image search) is often typified as tight-fitting with a heavy focus on boobs – that’s not to say that all women who cosplay dress that way, but that cosplay for women is almost expected to be overtly sexy, in a way that men’s cosplay just isn’t. 

Contrast this with the mainly young female audience of YALC.

I (and many other YALC attendees) have ventured down onto the lower floors of LFCC to see the stars of TV and Film, to look at the Funko Pops and to purchase a few choice items from the well-stocked market stalls on offer. I’ve never felt threatened or uncomfortable, but it’s easy to see why someone could. 

There are also sometimes awkward interactions between publishers and bloggers and this is mostly around ARCs and proofs and bloggers desperately wanting to get their hands on them. This is exonerated when publishers make bloggers perform silly challenges like dancing, lying on the floor, taking part in a game, etc. 

 

 

If you’re attending YALC this year, please don’t worry about my reasons for not attending – it is a great event where the whole YA community comes together for the weekend and I’ve made so many friends attending YALC in the past. 

Please let me know what you think, either in the comments or over on Twitter @annalisebooks x

annalsie

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I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman

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I picked up this book without really knowing what it was about – I loved Radio Silence so much that I would probably read Alice Oseman’s shopping lists. This book is so different and yet so similar in theme to Radio Silence – if you haven’t picked up any of Alice’s books yet, you should. She is one of the few (if not the only) authors talking about teenage fandoms, internet culture, Tumblr, and the soul-crushing and dream-destroying expectations put on teenagers today.

I devoured I Was Born For This in an evening (something I almost never do). The story is told through dual perspectives. Angel Rahimi is a hijabi travelling to London to meet her best ever internet friend for the first time, so that they can both see their favourite band, The Ark. Jimmy Kawa-Ricci is the transgender frontman of The Ark, struggling with anxiety and debating whether to continue with the band. The book takes place over one week in their lives, where they are thrust together in unexpected circumstances.

This is UKYA at its best – distinctly British characters who are both relatable and realistic, dealing with issues such as anxiety, making friends over the internet, being part of a fandom (or being the subject of many fans), and the pressure to succeed. It’s not often you come across these issues, even in teenage fiction – and the diversity of characters in this book didn’t feel forced or tokenistic.
Each character’s voice was distinct, and I was rooting for both of these characters throughout the book.

A unique and incredibly readable read, and one that should be on your pre-order list as it is essential UKYA fiction. If you haven’t checked out Alice’s other books, now is the time.

annalsie

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

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The Belles is a book that is completely up my street – it’s a thrilling court fantasy, with mystery and intrigue at every corner. I absolutely devoured this book – the language and writing is deliciously moreish, with vibrant descriptions unfurling the world of the Belles.

The Belles is the story of Camellia, one of six sisters who bring beauty to the fantasy kingdom of Orleans (based on New Orleans). The citizens of Orleans are born grey, and the Belles have the job of carrying out beauty treatments, changing the appearance and temperament of the citizens of Orleans at will. At the beginning of the book, the sisters are assigned a location where they will tend to the citizens – and Camellia is desperate to be favourite, assigned to the Royal family.

I raced through this book, desperate to know more about the Belles – I had (and have!) so many questions and can’t wait for the next book in the series. There are so many mysteries set up in this first book, and yet I still found the ending satisfying and unexpected.

This book wasn’t without its faults though – I’ll let other reviews talk about the treatment of queer characters in this book – and for me some of the characters were a little one-dimensional. For me, I didn’t find the flowery language too much, although other readers may find it a little grating. I must say I’m not the biggest fan of the cover design – I love the cover image and the design inside, but the back cover and title font feel a little childish to me. The blurb also contained spoilers for events that happen quite a way into the book.

If you’re looking for an exciting new court fantasy reminiscent of Red Queen or Everless, this is one for you. If you’re not, you should probably pick it up anyway.

annalsie

Review: Everless by Sara Holland

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So, I read Everless in 2017 and I never reviewed it… until now.

I really loved Everless – it’s set in a world where time is currency, and the poorer folk in this kingdom pay with their blood… literally. They go and have their blood drained and turned into coin. It’s a really interesting concept that I enjoyed a lot. (Does that sound creepy?)

Jules and her father fled from the nearby aristocratic estate (Everless) years ago, but she finds herself back there again after taking a job there to earn some money, to help her dying father. Everless is full of royalty, court drama, mystery, intrigue, secrets and magic.

When you’ve read as much YA fantasy I have, it’s sometimes easy to predict how the story is going to play out – but Everless is full of twists and turns and surprises, and I really loved the world-building. Put simply, Everless was a joy to read.

I’m really looking forward to the next book in this series (at least I think it will be a series?) and if you’re looking for some fun fairytale fantasy, give this one a go.

annalsie

2018 Resolutions

Hello all! I hope you are having a perfectly pleasant first weekend of 2018 – and it’s probably time I write my 2018 resolutions. These are 100% so I can look back next year and see which ones I managed to do, and I’m sure I’ve heard that if you write down your #goals, you’re more likely to achieve them.

As ever, please let me know which books you rate down below in the comments or tweet me at @annalisebooks – I’d also love to know your resolutions, so feel free to let me know or link me to your blogs/vlogs/instagram.

Low Book Spend 2018

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I have a gargantuan TBR and a huge book-buying problem – I can’t just buy one book at a time, I buy a full series before even finishing the first book, my NetGalley TBR is spiraling out of control.

The plan this year is to really limit the number of books I buy. There will inevitably be must-have buys this year and it would be counter-productive to set a total book-buying ban – but the aim with any new book should be to read it immediately, and I’ve found a lot of new books I buy end up at the bottom of a very very very large TBR pile.

I’m looking forward to seeing how much better my bank balance will be by the end of this year – and I’ll need it as I’m planning on moving back to London. I’ll be asking myself with every book ‘Will I read it as soon as I get home?’ and if the answer is ‘yes’, I’ll be recording all the money I spend on books this year.

If the answer is ‘no’, and I still want to read it, I’ll put it on a list in my ‘notes’ app and reassess the situation later on – books on that list are totally fine to purchase for birthdays and christmas.

#FinishASeriesAMonth

My second resolution is to try and finish a series a month – this is slightly different to @dani_reviews’ #ASeriesAMonth2018 challenge as I’ve started a lot of series but not finished them. I’m ashamed to say a lot of the books and series featuring on this list have featured on my previous resolutions blogs before.

I’m not going to set the series I have to finish, and instead pick up the ones that I fancy each month but here are some of the series I would like to finish this year, in no particular order:

  1. The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare (I have books 2 and 3 yet to read)
  2. The Illuminae Chronicles by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman (Just book 3 to go!)
  3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas (Just the 7th book – if it is released this year!)
  4. The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski (Books 2 and 3 to read)
  5. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (Books 3, 4, Fairest and Stars Above)
  6. The Red Queen Quartet by Victoria Aveyard (I’ve read Red Queen – I’d like to read these in close succession)
  7. Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo (I haven’t read either but I have read the Grisha Trilogy!)
  8. ADSOM trilogy by V E Schwab (I only have A Conjuring of Light left to read but it is a huge book!)
  9. Rebel of the Sands Trilogy by Alwyn Hamilton (I’m really looking forward to Hero at the Fall)
  10. Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead (I’ve had Silver Shadows and The Ruby Circle (books 5 and 6) on my TBR for years)
  11. ASOIAF by George R R Martin (I’ve read the first book – my aim is to read one book every 2 months throughout 2018)
  12. Lord of The Rings by J R R Tolkien (I haven’t even started – but I feel like these are must-reads for any Fantasy fan!)
  13. DIMILY trilogy by Estelle Maskame (Books 2 and 3 still on the TBR shelf!)
  14. Northern Lights trilogy by Philip Pullman (I read the first book in 2017 and really enjoyed it – just need to read books 2 and 3)
  15. The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis (I haven’t started these but they should be quick reads)
  16. The Passenger Duology by Alexandra Bracken

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#Brontë200 Book Club

I’ll be taking part in the Bronte Book Club with @lucythereader – where every two months, I’ll be reading a different Bronte classic. I haven’t read any of the Bronte books, so I’m looking forward to completing some classics and getting out of my comfort zone.

Document what I’ve read even if it’s not YA

I’ve seen a few people start Twitter threads showing what they’ve been reading – I’ve been reading tons of non-fiction recently and it can feel weird to talk about books that are so different and serious and scientific. I’d like to highlight some of the great books I’ve been reading that aren’t YA – although I’ll probably keep full reviews to fiction.

 

So there we have it – some pretty big resolutions for 2018! Do let me know what your resolutions are and link me to your blogs 🙂

annalsie

 

Why I’m NOT reading the new John Green book…

Evening book lovers!

Today is the 10th October and also the release date of the heavily anticipated new John Green book – Turtles All The Way Down.

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(Is anyone else underwhelmed by the cover? There’s exactly ZERO turtles.)

Unlike what feels like most of the YA community, I won’t be reading this (yet?).

Why?

The short answer is that I am on a book-buying ban and so all the books I’m desperately lusting after have been relegated to the christmas list.

The long answer is… I just feel meh.

I read Looking For Alaska years ago; it was one of the first YA books I read. There was hype around this book and it just didn’t do it for me.

I read The Fault in our Stars around publication day and thought it was ok, then reread it in preparation for the film and absolutely loved it.

Yet I still have two John Green books on my TBR (An Abundance of Katherines and Will Grayson, Will Grayson), both of which I have started and struggled to get through. Maybe John Green is just not for me, or maybe I should give his new book a chance (although the premise doesn’t excite me the same way a lot of YA books do?)

Please let me know if you’ll be reading Turtles All The Way Down, and if you have/haven’t read it, let me know why! I’d love to hear all of your opinions 🙂

annalsie

What will I be reading in Autumn 2017?

It seems to me like the past week everyone has fallen through a pile of crunchy autumn leaves and landed firmly in the run up to Halloween and Christmas. All the names on Twitter are spooky (except mine, I’ll make do with some emojis because I can’t think of a good Halloween name!) and the season of book release upon book release is here. Time to cosy on up with a warm drink and a good book…

The first thing you should know is that my TBR is (hopefully) currently at a standstill – I’m trying not to buy any books this month, and hopefully not until Christmas! This excludes Fairyloot boxes so the books from those will be added to my TBR (and I’m fairly sure I know what those books will be!) but other than that, I won’t be buying any books. This is partly because my TBR is super huge, especially after YALC, and partly because I need to save money!

I don’t like to give myself an overly prescriptive TBR because I never stick to them. I want to be free to be able to pick up any book and be able to read it – and equally, sometimes I won’t be in the mood for a particular book, even if, at another time, I would instantly devour it.

I’ve read 75 books so far this year(!) and hoping to get to a hundred so the goal is 25 books before 31st December…

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I’m reading a weird combination of books at the moment, but I’d like to finish Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (I’m really enjoying this one and reading in preparation for the film which releases November 3rd), Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine (non-fiction about gender differences), Northern Lights by Philip Pullman (first time reading!) and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (I have all of the rest of her books but just can’t seem to get through this one…).

My Kindle is nicely full at the moment – I’d like to read two of the Zoella Book Club, After The Fire by Will Hill and Girlhood by Cat Clarke before the year is out. I’d also like to read Fireblood by Elly Blake, before the final book in the trilogy is released in June 2018.

Hardbacks I’ve not got round to reading yet include Windwitch by Susan Dennard (in preparation for Sightwitch coming January 2018) and Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (I was so excited for this one last year and still have not read it… story of my life!). I was also sent a beautiful copy of Warcross by Marie Lu which sounds amazing.

In the Shadowhunters world, I want to get up to speed with all the books before The Queen of Air and Darkness is released, which has been pushed up to May 2018. Whilst I’ll be reading Lord of Shadows next year, I’d like to get up to date with Magnus Bane and The Bane Chronicles as well as The Midnight Heir.

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Staying with Fantasy, I have a wild ambition to read all the ASOIAF books and rewatch the entirety of Game of Thrones before the final season, and so I had better get on with reading A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin. I wasn’t the biggest fan of A Game of Thrones but I love seeing the foreshadowing that’s going on way back in the first books.

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Over to New Releases, I am so excited for A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Lueddecke and thank you very much to Scholastic for sending me a beautiful copy (this is such a gorgeous book!).

I also plan on reading my YALC haul – a lot of these books release in 2018 and it’s coming round fast! I’m hoping to get into City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty, The Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles, The Treatment by C. L. Taylor, This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada… as well as 2018 releases including The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, The Fandom by Anna Day and The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr.

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I’m also exciting to read more Margaret Atwood, and I hope to get through Alias Grace in time for the Netflix series that will be released in November.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I’m excited to see which books will be my favourites, and which may fall a little flat.

Have you read any of these books, and what are you planning to read this autumn? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me at @annalisebooks x

annalsie