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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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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

YALC, ARCs, and other Acronyms

Afternoon readers (or whatever time it is where you are),

Inspired by the brilliant @hollieeblog, I thought I’d talk about some of my hang ups from last weekend – YALC 2017. Now, I love going to YALC, meeting up with existing friends, making new friends, and generally sharing my love for books with so many people who make the YA community great. The panels and workshops are so inspiring, that they make me want to revitalize my blog and write one or two thousand bestselling novels.  YALC is consistently one of the best weekends of the year for me.

However, it would be wrong to say that it is not without its flaws, and I thought I’d discuss them here in more detail.

Cost

This one is pretty unavoidable, but the sheer cost of getting to YALC is fairly large – a hotel booking during the weekend in the summer in Central London is likely to set you back a few hundred pounds. The ticket itself is £56 (I think!) which isn’t badly priced, but the cost of food, drink, travel, etc. add up quickly and so maybe YALC isn’t as accessible to everyone as it could be, especially to teenagers from outside London. I think moving YALC would mean fewer authors and fewer attendees, but I’d love to see YALC North emerging in the future to offer a lower cost option bringing the YA Community together. I would also recommend YAShot (April 2018)!

LFCC itself isn’t cheap – meeting the celebrities and getting autographs adds up very quickly. I didn’t get any photos or autographs this year (although I did see Benedict Cumberbatch, Pamela Anderson and Natalie Dormer around the YALC floor…) but if this is something you’re interested in, prepare to save up.

Accessibility

I’ve heard a few horror stories about accessibility this year, with LFCC not responding to emails and queue-jump wristbands for those who simply cannot queue running out. I am by no means an expert on accessibility but there were two issues for me: 1. seating and general comfortableness, and 2. the ableist ways of getting proofs/ARCs/goodies.

YALC is generally the best floor to be on for those with social anxiety and claustrophobia – the lower floors can be overwhelming, but YALC (for the past two years, at least) has had wide open spaces and quiet areas. The problem this year was that there was little seating, and I was sat down for a large proportion of the event. The seating in the panel area itself was uncomfortable so I didn’t attend many panels, but the other option of the thinly carpeted concrete floor was little better. Better seating helps everyone – and it also allows new conversations to start up rather than joining a large spread of people complaining about sitting on the floor.

This year there was a mad rush for proof giveaways – and some publishers more than others gave their proofs away first come first serve, or made attendees do silly challenges. The ability to run (and to run fast) was required to have a chance on getting most of the ARCs – and the challenges often required you to find a partner (and as someone who came to YALC alone in her first year, that thought terrifies me!) or throw your dignity out of the window.

ARCs/Proofs

There were a lot of highly anticipated proofs this year at YALC which was exciting, but made me anxious all week thinking about how upset I would have been if I had missed out (not my best trait!).

ARCs really do bring out the worst in people – for some, there was queuing for five hours instead of enjoying the panels, there was shoving and elbowing, there was confronting other people in queues. I’ve been very very disappointed in those who attended YALC, took multiple copies of the limited proofs on offer, then proceeded to trade them away almost immediately – that isn’t the spirit of the bookish community, especially when many book lovers have paid a considerable amount to attend and possibly get a copy of their favourite author’s next book.

This behaviour was more prevalent when proofs were limited – and I think there’s an onus on publishers to expect high demand for proofs and limit the damage. Making giveaways of proofs fairer (BKMRK and Chicken House did this particularly well) and reducing the anxiety of attempting to get a proof would go down very well next year.

I’d also like to see a reduction in the use of Twitter to announce giveaways – carrying around a charger and using up all the data in my plan shouldn’t be the way to enjoy YALC. Publishers announcing giveaways during popular panels is also annoying!

Lack of Blogger focus

Now, I’m not saying I only want ARCs to go to the most prolific bloggers – but I feel there needs to be more emphasis on why proofs are given out at these events, and that is to ensure reviews and buzz pre-publication. My first YALC two years ago had some brilliant events about blogging and vlogging that inspired me to set up this very blog, and to discover this amazing community. I felt this year it would be easy to attend YALC without even hearing the words ‘book blogging’.

I’d love to see YALC switch its focus a little from authors to bloggers/bookstagrammers/booktubers.

Part of this is because just by the very nature of a UKYA event, a lot of the authors have attended YALC before. They are all amazing and brilliant and interesting speakers, but it’s rare to have an author who you won’t bump into at another event in the next year (which was good for me as I brought very few books to be signed!).

A more blogger-focused event would inspire more bloggers, inspire existing bloggers and ensure more buzz around certain books. I’d love to see publishers fully embracing this and setting up ‘bookstagram’ areas where you can snap a picture of your new book, for example. I love YALC, but I love it because I can meet up with my favourite online friends away from the keyboard – and I’d love to be able to meet online friends a little less awkwardly!

 

Apologies for the overly negative post – I’d love to hear your thoughts on the weekend, what went well and what didn’t, and whether you agree with mine!

annalsie

 

 

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

 

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

 

Wing Jones Photo Tour!

Wing Jones is the much anticipated debut novel from Katherine Webber, publishing 5th January 2017 in the UK. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing’s speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants…

I loved Wing Jones and you can read my review here.

Katherine Webber was born in Southern California but has lived in Atlanta, Hawaii, Hong Kong and now in London. For several years she worked at the reading charity BookTrust, where she worked on projects such as The Letterbox Club which delivers parcels of books to children in care, and YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention. You can find her on Twitter @kwebberwrites

Throughout January, over 40 bloggers will be participating in the #WJphototour – a photo blog tour documenting Katherine’s path to publishing her debut novel. From childhood memories that inspired her writing to her time living in Atlanta and Asia that influenced the book to authors she’s met over the years right up to receiving her first finished copy of the book, follow along to see Katherine’s author life unfold! Keep an eye on the hashtag to see the latest photos!

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This picture makes me laugh so much (thank you Stacey for capturing this moment!) Even though I’ve done a lot of events, this was my first ever official WING JONES event, where I was talking about my own book and not someone else’s. It was at the Walker Christmas Blogger evening, and it was so wonderful to do my first WJ event with so many friends and lovely people. I am so grateful to have so much support for this book—it means the world to me!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this stop on the Wing Jones photo tour and the book itself as much I have!

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