My First YALC!

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YALC is the Young Adult Literature Convention, and has been held in London for the past four years. It spans over a weekend, and promises days of bookish fun for all!

This year is the first time I’ve been to YALC, and it was awesome! It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but it was still a lot of fun (and it was actually better in some aspects). I thought there’d be more bookish merchandise for sale, but the stalls that were there were still cool (So. Many. Books.)!

The only negative thing I’ll say about it is that I had no idea what to expect, and upon getting there was quite stressed because I didn’t know what was going on. I think if the hosts of the event maybe put a little ‘What To Expect’ section on their site, it would be great.

The rest of the day when I was there was awesome – I met some lovely authors, listened to some cool panels and, of course, got a lot of bookish goodies!

The Haul

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So I got quite a lot of stuff at YALC (most of which were freebies) – all of which I couldn’t actually fit in this picture. I think I’ve got about 16 badges, a few samplers, one awesome BKMRK tote bag and some cool bookmarks and posters. I also bought a YALC tote bag and a Book Boyfriend candle from Geeky Clean (the owner of which I met yesterday, and she was really nice)!

I visited nearly all of the stalls, except for a couple which includes Fairy Loot – their stall had a queue all day (a lengthy queue at that), so I didn’t get a chance, but I’m really happy with the stalls I did visit!

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I also bought books, of course! I’m a bookworm and I was surrounded by books (literally – books were everywhere)! Here are the books I bought:

Hello Me, It’s You edited by Hannah Todd

The idea of this book is truly wonderful, and I’m really looking forward to reading it (though I know I’m going to get emotional haha). And the people at the stall that I got it from were really nice, too.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

I’ve wanted to read this novel for a while now, and since it was only £5 I just had to buy it!

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

This is a book that I should’ve picked up years ago, but always seemed to find something else to buy in its place. I’m looking forward to starting it soon!

Coming Up For Air by Miranda Kenneally

I got a free proof copy of this one, and since I used to read books by this author when I was younger, I’ve been wanting to read it since I knew of its release.

This Is Really Happening by Erin Chack

This was another free proof, and though I don’t normally read non-fiction, I’m looking forward to giving it a go with this novel.

Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

This book sounds rather hilarious, and I’ve read a book by the author that I enjoyed before. Also, it’s a hardback and was only £8, so how could I not buy it?!

Panel Events

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Genre-Bending

I was really looking forward to this talk, but unfortunately it was super busy and I sat right at the back, so I couldn’t quite hear what was going on half the time. V. E. Schwab had some interesting ideas on the literature hierarchy which I thought was really interesting, though!

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E. Lockhart

I really love the books I’ve read by E. Lockhart, so I really wanted to see this talk! Unfortunately I missed the beginning and the very end of it, but it was still really interesting to hear more about how the story of We Were Liars came to be! It was also chaired by Holly Bourne, so there’s a plus too!

Author Signings

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I met three authors yesterday! I first saw Carlie Sorosiak (who is in the photo above, excuse my weird face), who was really nice! I was the second person to get my book signed by her, and I’m so happy I got to meet her.

I also saw V. E. Schwab who was lovely! The queue for her was so long, and I think she was signing for at least four hours (but it was definitely worth the wait)!

I didn’t actually get to meet E. Lockhart (I was stuck in the queue for another author), but my parents were kind enough to go and get my book autographed for me. It’s a shame because I really wanted to fangirl about We Were Liars to her, but it seems my mom did for me haha!

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And finally, I got to meet Holly Bourne who was so lovely! Am I Normal Yet? means so much to me, and to be able to tell her that in person was so amazing (there’s a possibility I got sort of emotional after meeting her). She also high-fived my friend and I for starting our own feminist club, which we did after being inspired by her novels.

And that’s my day at YALC summed up! It was definitely worth getting out of bed in the ungodly hours of the morning to be there, and it’s an experience I won’t forget!

Thanks!

– Emma

Read On!

 

Books I’m Taking To YALC!

I’m going to YALC this weekend and I’m so excited! I thought I’d share with you guys the books I’m taking (though most of them are featured on my July Book-Haul post)!

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A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

My Review

This series is amazing. I’m currently reading the third book, and I love it! A Gathering of Shadows is my favourite book in the series, and I’m feeling like it could be the best fantasy I’ve read this year. I’m really hoping I’ll be able to see the author and get it signed!

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Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

My Review

This book is truly wonderful – it gives an honest insight into the mind of someone who has OCD AND is packed to the brim with feminism, so what’s not to love? I can’t recommend this book enough, because it really is brilliant.

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

I’m so intrigued by this books synopsis! I got it on my iPhone originally, but I can’t read on my phone (which I really should’ve thought of before downloading it, but oh well), so I bought the book! I’m excited to read this one soon, and I hope I can meet the author!

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If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

My Review

This novel was such a sweet read! I really enjoyed it, and with it being the first ARC I’ve been sent, I’m so excited to hopefully meet the author. The books layout is rather unique as well, with sections of script and quotes intermingling with standard prose, which really added to the reading experience in a great way!

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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

I love this novel! It’s such a clever, amazing book and words can’t fully describe how I feel about it, so I’ll just say that I have all of the feels. It would be amazing to meet this author, but the signing clashes with V. E. Schwab’s, and I don’t know how long it’ll take with queuing, so I think I might have to make a tough choice about who I go and see.

And that’s all the books I’m taking! I’ve got to say, I’m so proud of myself – I initially decided to take fourteen books, but quickly changed my mind after the weight of the books, and the completely realistic notion there are books for sale and I’m something of a book hoarder.

Have you read any of these books? Have you ever been to, or are you going to, YALC?

Thanks!

– Emma

Read On!

 

 

 

Book Review | A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

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Genre: YA/NA Fantasy

Publishers: Titan Books

Publication Date: February 23rd 2016

My Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Goodreads Synopsis:

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

This book was amazing. My gods! A Gathering of Shadows reminded me of my love for everything fantasy and why novels within the genre used to be my absolute favourite – they have this ability, if done well, to take you to another place when you need to escape reality for a little while, and that’s exactly what this book did for me.

Once again, the world-building was brilliant. Schwab is one heck of an author to not only be able think up this extraordinary world, but to also have the ability to then write about it the way she does. And don’t even get me started on the plot – because sheesh, how original can this novel be? How unique? I can’t think of a single novel with multiple Londons, a cross-dressing thief and magical wonders such as this (and by wonders I mostly mean horrors, but still).

There were two things I didn’t love about this novel:

  1. The gore again (I’m just not a person that enjoys reading such detailed descriptions).
  2. This book absorbed me into the story-line – which is a great thing in truth, because that’s the purpose of a book, really – but it completely over took my life the days I was reading it. You think I left the house whilst reading this book? Ha, guess again!

In all seriousness, I’m so impressed. I said in my review of the first novel, A Darker Shade of Magic, that I didn’t really feel like it held up to the hype surrounding it, but that definitely doesn’t apply to the second because wow. I’m sort of feeling like this could be the best fantasy I’ve read all year (and I read Lord of Shadows by Cassie Clare this year, so that’s really saying something).

‘Kell would say it was impossible. What a useless word, in a world with magic.’

It’s strange, but after reading AGOS I feel a lot more love for the first novel. I mean, it has all these wonderful characters in it, so how could I not love it? If I ignore Lila’s some of their violent tendencies, I really like our main characters! How the characters interacted with each other was lovely to read (the feels struck me, I won’t lie)! I feel like they were developed a lot more in comparison to the first book, as I felt a connection with them whilst reading – I actually cared what happened, and may or may not have shed a tear or two over certain events that took place.

We definitely explored the relationship between Kell and Rhy more in this novel, which I really enjoyed. On a side note, I think it’s of utmost importance that I express my love for Alucard (and mention that I’m pretty much shipping him with everyone in this book haha)!

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Something else I enjoyed were the multiple POVs from our characters. I thought it was clever how we could see what was going on everywhere – from Lila and Kell’s own escapades to the dark risings in another London. Sometimes changing from different perspectives can be a bit confusing, but I thought it flowed really well in this novel.

And have I mentioned yet that our characters are diverse? From gender identity to sexuality and race, I was really happy that there was so much representation going on. Their personalities were all starkly different too, and they each stood out, which was awesome. I also have to say one of our primary characters is a strong woman who doesn’t need anyone to fight her battles for her, and I love it!

I didn’t want this book to end. It was absolutely brilliant, and I’m so glad I read it. I was hooked from beginning to end – and that cliffhanger! What a cruel way to finish a book! I started the third book the day after finishing it because I couldn’t deal with not knowing what happens!

If you like fantasy novels, read this book! It took me by surprise, and I really can’t express how great a novel it is.

Thanks!

– Emma

Read On!

Book Harmony | Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

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I recently rediscovered the wonders of listening to music whilst reading, and realised I haven’t done a book and music pairing in such a long time! I’m hoping to write more posts including music in the coming weeks, especially Book Harmonys. Anyway, on with today’s post!

I read Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare when it published earlier this year, and I loved it. In my review, I all but swoon over it, and I’ve paired it with a song I love!

Kiss & Tell by You Me At Six

This song reminds me of Kieran and Mark’s relationship, and it’s one hell of a good song. I loved Kieran being so involved in LoS (and you might wonder how many ships I can include this dude in? The answer is a lot.), and I feel like we really see him evolve as a character. He’s still something of an enigma to us, but that’s half of the fun. Mark is just a sweetheart (and a bit like with Kieran, there are quite a few ships including him, too)!

What song would you pair with this book?

Thanks!

– Emma

Read On!

July Book-Haul!

I’m going to YALC this month and I’m so excited! I’ve already planned my schedule out, and have resigned myself to the fact that I’m going to have to take a cabin bag on wheels so my back doesn’t break from carrying all of the books. I just know that I won’t be able to refrain from buying books whilst I’m there haha!

Here are some books I ordered to take with me to YALC:

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A Gathering of Shadows & A Conjuring of Light by V. E Schwab

I really enjoyed the first book in the Shades of Magic trilogy, so I definitely wanted to carry on with the series. I then found out that the author is going to be at YALC (eek!) and couldn’t help but buy the rest of the books to take with me!

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How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne

I recently read and reviewed the first book in this series, and I loved it! Am I Normal Yet? was such a touching novel, and it was full to the brim with feminism, so I’m looking forward to that aspect being in this book, too!

 

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

I’ve heard a lot about this author recently, and I’m hoping this book holds up to all the good things I’ve heard about it! I’m intrigued by the synopsis, and I can’t wait to see where the plots goes.

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Who Runs the World? by Virginia Bergin

Um, I seriously wish I’d looked up reviews of this book before buying it because I’m having some issues with what I’ve read about it now. I can’t really say why or what, because I haven’t read the book myself and don’t want to spread anything in case it isn’t correct, but there seems to be a lack of understanding as to what sexism is when it comes to this novel.

Have you read any of these books?

Thanks!

– Emma

Read On!

Book Review | Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

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Genre: YA Contemporary

Publishers: Usborne Publishing Ltd

Publication Date: 1st August, 2015

My Rating:  🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Goodreads synopsis:

All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

This novel is so important! It packs an emotional punch that most wouldn’t expect going into it, and I think it could be a real eye-opener for people who don’t understand how mental health and sexism can affect people’s lives.

Before I start going in-depth about certain aspects, I want to quickly mention that the writing was really good – it flowed perfectly, and it was easy to get lost for a few hours within the chapters. I was completely swept up in the story, actually – it felt like I was almost going through what our main character was, which was such a vital part to the novel.

‘Bad stuff happens, people are mean, there are no steps you can take that ensure the world leaves you alone. All you can do is try not to be one of those people who contributes to the bad.’

I’m impressed with how OCD was depicted in this novel – I was surprised by how accurate it was. I’ve been left feeling emotionally exhausted after finishing it – we see our main character Evie struggling with her OCD, and it was so distressing to read for me, as I’m sure it was for everyone else who has read it. I have to mention how well thought-out it was to set it out with Evie’s Bad Thoughts interrupting the normal prose from her POV.

Evie has ‘cliche’ OCD – the typical washing your hands and cleanliness that most assume is all that OCD entails (which really isn’t the case). To see our author address the nature of Evie’s OCD through the character showing annoyance at feeling she is ‘cliche’ was important to me – it’s necessary for people to be aware that OCD is different for every person who experiences it, and is often not related to cleanliness at all.

I thought how our author expressed the effect Evie’s Bad Thoughts had on her, and the rituals that then appeared, could be a real eye-opener for people (and even the inclusion of Evie’s self-depreciation was so heartbreaking-ly accurate).

OCD, like many mental illnesses, is very misunderstood. It is not always washing your hands thoroughly and it’s not just liking organisation. It is both the Bad Thoughts and the after effects of having the Bad Thoughts. I feel like this book managed to show a glimpse into the nature of OCD, and I hope that all who read it can understand this mental illness better.

‘Because now people use the phrase OCD to describe minor personality quirks. “Oooh, I like my pens in a line, I’m so OCD.”
NO YOU’RE F***ING NOT.
“Oh my God, I was so nervous about that presentation, I literally had a panic attack.”
NO YOU F***ING DIDN’T.
“I’m so hormonal today. I just feel totally bipolar.”
SHUT UP, YOU IGNORANT BUMFACE.’

I’m so happy to say that this book was full to the brim with feminism! Besides seeing our MC struggle with her OCD, we also see her struggling to be a teenage girl in a world where sexism is still such a big issue. I won’t go into much detail because I really enjoyed discovering things for myself, but I will say you can expect some laughs as Evie goes through the usual trials and tribulations of dating, and the importance of the Spinster Club. My friend and I were actually inspired by this novel to start our own feminist club and blog with our other friend (which I’ll be sharing the link for the blog to very soon!)!

Am I Normal Yet? is such a crucial novel in this day and age, in terms of mental health awareness and the importance of feminism. I’m so thankful to Holly Bourne for writing this book, and I recommend it to everyone, because there are so many things to learn from it.

*I must mention this book isn’t appropriate for younger readers.

Topic Awareness:

  • Possible triggers for sufferers of OCD

Thanks!

– Emma

Read On!

‘Everyone’s on the cliff edge of normal. Everyone finds life an utter nightmare sometimes, and there’s no ‘normal’ way of dealing with it… There is no normal.’

July Reading Update & New Blog

I’m sad to say I think I’m in dangerous reading-slump territory at the moment. I have more free time on my hands, but I seem to be reading less and less as the days go on. I’m hoping that with YALC coming up I’ll be able to shake this slump off and start reading properly again though!

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Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

This book is really important! I’m just struggling to read it because it feels so close to home, if that makes sense, but I’m really excited because it’s full to the brim of feminism, and I’m hoping when I go to YALC I’ll meet Holly Bourne!

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

I finished reading this book a couple of weeks back, and I recently posted my review, which you can check out here. I really enjoyed this book, and just ordered the second book to read! I’m also hoping to see Schwab at YALC too!

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How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne or Who Runs The World? by Virginia Bergin

I have so many books on my TBR at the moment. I’m thinking I’ll either read the next book in Holly Bourne’s Spinster Club series, or Virginia Bergin’s new novel. But who knows, it could be a different book entirely!

On to the second part of my post!

If you’ve been a reader of The Book Crunch for a while now, you’ll know that I’m rather prone to making new blogs all the time. The Book Crunch is actually the only blog I’ve ever really stuck with though (this blog is my baby haha), but I have some exciting news!

My friends and I are starting a blog together! I’m not going to share any links yet because it’s still a work in progress, but I’m so excited about it! The new blog is all about feminism, and will likely feature posts about the strive for equality, not just in terms of sexism.

I’ll be posting more details about it soon!

Have you read any of these books?

Thanks!

– Emma

Read On!