The Good, The Bad, & The Hilarious Parts Of YALC 2017

IT IS TIME TO TALK ABOUT YALC 2017.

This year, I made plans. Big plans. I booked a weekend ticket, I got time off work, I made plans to stay at a friend’s house during the event (she was on a Mediterranean cruise – poor her), and found online friends to spend time with. This year, I was killin’ it.

YALC 2017, despite attending for the last two years, has been a completely different experience than any other years I’ve been there. It was bigger, more crowded, and I felt so much more confident in myself where everyone I hung out with I had met over our love of books on the internet. I also happened to receive a lot of free books!

Here are the overwhelmingly good parts of YALC 2017.

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THE GOOD

The Talks

While only getting around to a few talks, the ones that I did watch were absolutely fantastic. I loved the genre-bending panel (and not just because V.E. Schwab was on it) but it really spoke to me. I often struggle with what category I want my stories to be in; I often worry about what will be marketable, what neat little boxes publishers and agents will want my idea to fit into in order to sell it. But this talk gave a bigger perspective: right what you love, change things up, don’t restrict yourself.

Another fantastic talk was In Conversation With Patrick Ness, which I had watched last year but mainly revolved around the release of the movie adaptation of A Monster Calls. This year was all about Release, Ness’ newest…release. A book I adored and read in about a day. He and Juno Dawson (who was a FANTASTIC chair and I honestly wouldn’t have minded if it was In Conversation with Juno Dawson and Patrick Ness) talked deeply about #ownvoices, about Patrick’s books, and writing from experience. It was incredible how Ness can stop for a second, think about his answer, and come up with most poetic thing I’ve ever heard. There’s a reason this guy’s a writer.

The Kindness of Strangers

I made a whole blog post about stumbling across some strangers who comforted me during my first few days at work, but YALC ended up being not only the kindness of strangers, but the generosity of strangers.

It’s news to no one that YALC 2017 was the year of rushing for arcs (which I talk about the negative side later on). People were poised at the ready, with Twitter on their phones and publishers’ accounts notifications on. It felt a little like The Hunger Games, however I had no ARC in mind that I was excited about getting. If I got some, then hey, I got some. When Story HQ dropped a three ARC giveaway, I was excited; one ARC wasn’t even professionally bound, it was that early of an ARC! I looked on the table and saw only a few left of a book called Blackbird. I wasn’t that interested, but hey ho I got one and I’ll be reading it soon enough. I looked up the other two that were being given away, and one was called City of Brass. When I read the synopsis, I was already hooked. A historical fantasy set in the Middle East. The final cover even had a silhouette of The Hagia Sophia. I got instant And I Darken/Now I Rise vibes, and needed it. While everyone at Story HQ was preoccupied with ARCs of Zenith, I thought maybe they had a few to giveaway, however, they informed me that they had 6 left.

6 LEFT.

It’s Saturday night, I’m thinking it’s worth a shot.

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And lo and behold, as I’m running out of options, SUNDAY MORNING SOMEBODY MESSAGES ME. This lovely person doesn’t even want to swap a book with me, she’s just going to straight up give me City of Brass.

I get to YALC, and I find her; she’s got a suitcase full of books, and just pulls out City of Brass like it’s no big deal and hands it to me. OH. MY GOD.

This happened multiple times throughout the weekend, where a girl had won a copy of A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne M. Harris, my friend Anna’s favourite author. She had met the girl before she had won it, and had mentioned that she didn’t even know who Joanne M. Harris was, and so when we saw her later on, I beelined straight for her and was willing to swap for it. She brought it the next morning, wanting nothing in return, and I told Anna, who had a little cry of joy.

BOOKISH PEOPLE ARE GREAT.

The Queuing System

I was actually really pleased with the way in which *some* of the queues for author signings were handled this year. While last year I stood in a line for an hour to meet V.E. Schwab (which wasn’t so bad because I met one of my good friends, Kate!), this year it was first come first serve for a ticket with a specific number. When your number was called, you went in a queue of about 20 people. For Laini Taylor, I was 177. Bleh. But it meant that, when I knew they were at numbers 1-20, I could continue to wander around YALC and LFCC without worrying about losing my place. It was the same with Patrick Ness, where I grabbed a ticket despite not being sure about getting my stuff signed. My friend Anna suggested I take a ticket, because at least I have a place in the queue if I decide to get something signed. And I did! .

Granted, there were definitely some queues that were all over the place; people joining despite their number not being called, organizers not even knowing which authors would be popular (putting V.E. Schwab and Laini Taylor on at the same time…whose idea was that???), and queues snaking around publishers’ stalls and blocking them and other walkways. But overall, the queuing system has definitely improved since the last two years!

Meeting Bookish People!

Before I showed up, I knew YALC would be different. Not only was I attending with friends from Twitter, I also knew I would be meeting online people for the first time ever. Usually, I go to YALC with one friend from university, but since she was on that epic cruise, I took it into my hands to surround myself with new people.

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From left to right: Bex, Jess, Anna, Me, Liv, Kate

While I mostly stuck with Anna (@aliterarypotion) and Kate (@coffeeinonehandbookintheother), we ended up meeting a whole bunch of new people who I’d only known from Twitter including Katherine (@writinghideout), Bex (@MyShelfMySelf), Jess (@bookendingsendings), Liv (@Livescape), Vicky (@hunguponbooks), Christine (@weereader), and Nazy (@readinghijabsy)! It was great to be around people who were obsessed with books just as much as I am, especially ones in the same online communities as I am. It felt like we all kinda knew each other already!

THE BAD

Unfortunately, with all experiences, the bad parts can often feel like they overshadow the good and the hilarious. YALC, for the last few years, has been a major event in my calendar, and I hate to say that YALC 2017 has been the year of negative experiences and criticisms that I want to share as feedback to the organizers but also to future attendees as a warning of what to possibly expect in 2018 (if they haven’t sorted it already).

Publisher/Reader Power Imbalance

I could write a whole blog post just on this section. I have so many thoughts about the straight up lack of disrespect publishing representatives had for paying guests who were attending YALC. The event, while encompassing all the good stuff I mentioned earlier, can also be described as one big book marketing campaign. Publisher’s stands are there to promote and sell, and what better way to promote upcoming titles by creating buzz with limited advanced reading copies (ARCS) to lucky individuals who took the time to travel far and spend money to attend YALC. However, the process in which the representatives chose who got what, throughout the event, became more and more disrespectful and panic inducing.

The publishers created an environment of hostility and aggression as they tweeted out challenges or even just ‘we have five copies! first come first serve!’ which meant hoards of people stampeding into others and causing a ruckus. They made up challenges off the top of their heads, including making people run to their stall and lie on the ground for no reason, or refusing to tell people what they were giving away at what time, forcing people to constantly refresh their Twitter feeds or even just loiter around their stalls for two hours. A rep from one publisher in particular had the audacity to yell “Dance monkeys! Dance!” when they got a crowd of people to wave their hands in the air to win some books. Some publishers couldn’t even be bothered to put a proper queuing system in place and a number of people suffered panic attacks from being crushed in sudden surges of people, many of whom had no idea what was going on. Publishers didn’t tell us how many arcs they had and didn’t count people in order to send people away, instead people queued for ages only to be disappointed. All the running also meant that many attendees with physical and mobility difficulties did not have a chance at receiving any freebies.

The publisher stands had too much power; they exploited the excitement and passion of many teenage readers by making them literally do anything they wanted for a book, and injuring people in the process. Story HQ and Hodderscape were particularly horrific; Hodderscape making people do stupid things in the 30 seconds they’d tweeted about it, while Story HQ just refused to be organised and caused panic attacks and took no responsibility for the crowds of people blocking other stalls.

While I’m naming and shaming, I also should be naming and congratulating. Penguin Platform did their arc giveaways a little differently, and instead offered raffle tickets to win arcs, and also hid arcs in certain places without tweeting about it, meaning if you stumbled upon an arc, you got it. There were no crowds, there was no mass hysteria. BKMRK (previously Books with Bite) and Chicken House also did a good job by announcing giveaways an hour before, letting people arrive on their own time and also directing queue flow, providing enough arcs for a good portion of people (about 150 a day).

Free stuff is fun. Feeling like the ant under the boot of a publisher is not.

Seating and Layout

If you’re a YALC veteran, it’s a normal occurrence to find yourself standing around or finding decent floor space, but as the convention gets bigger, gets more popular, I am surprised by the lack of seating, especially when there was so much empty space with no signing tables or publishers stalls. Yes, there were lots of seats in the panel area, but you couldn’t have a proper chat with your mates or just a place to read because there was a talk going on right in front of you. There is a cafe, but it’s small and often crowded, and there’s a bean bag area which, if you have mobility issues, you’ll probably have trouble getting out of them once you’ve fallen in (I didn’t even try out of fear). I saw a lot of attendees this year with crutches, walking sticks and wheelchairs, so a place with tables and chairs just to take a breather would have really helped many.

THE HILARIOUS

Laini Taylor Signing

This is probably a mixture of hilarious and heartbreaking. Hilarious now, but kind of heartbreaking at the time. It was no lie that Laini Taylor’s signing queue was going to be one big thing that would last for hours. I managed to snag the prized position of person 177 in queue, and was left to my own devices until my number was called. It would be a while.

Strange The Dreamer is not a small book. The whole of Saturday I had this thing in my bag, on my back, weighing me down. I loved Strange The Dreamer, so much more than I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and I was thrilled that I would be meeting Laini Taylor for the first time and I could tell her how much I fell in love with Lazlo Strange (what a puppy!!). We walked, we shopped, we sat around waiting for City of Brass ARCS to drop (they didn’t…despite telling me that they would at some point. You’ve already read my annoyance with Story HQ you know what I’m on about), until eventually, my and my friends’ numbers were called.

Due to the fantastic member of staff in charge of Laini’s queue, we were only stood there for about ten minutes before finally meeting Laini. I immediately forgot about the two hours I’d had to kill before my number actually being called, and was ready to meet an author I had only just begun to appreciate.

When she opens my book…and sees her signature already there.

“Oh, I’ve already signed this.”

“….what.”

“Did you buy this from Waterstones?”

“Umm, yeah.”

“Oh I pre-signed those. Have you read the book?”

“Yes! I loved it!”

“Oh dear, maybe you forgot you bought a signed one then :). Here, I’ll personalize it.”

“Thanks.”

And that was the end of my two hour wait and a 12 hour carrying of an already signed Strange The Dreamer. What an idiot.

Non Pratt Head shave

I feel like, if you attended YALC and maybe if you didn’t, you know what I’m going to talk about. I’ve watched vlogs and read other blog posts about it and people asking each other ‘where were you during the Non-Pratt head shave?’. I was pretty damn close to Non, but on the farther side of where the ‘incident’ happened, and so saw practically nothing but people jumping out of their chairs and screaming and cheering.

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“what cult ritual nonsense is this??”

 

Yes, Benedict Cumberbatch walked in on us all chanting ‘SHAVE! SHAVE!’ as an author had her head shaved on stage. There is nothing that I can say that hasn’t already been said, but it was damn hilarious.

Benedict Cumberbatch Madness

In fact, Benny-C made so many appearances that weekend that it was getting kind of annoying. The door he would enter the floor from and the door to his green room were so far from each other that he continually had to walk the whole length of YALC with bodyguards that kept multiplying each time I saw him. I understand why his green room was upstairs at YALC; if you left YALC and went into LFCC, the place was PACKED and people were no doubt expecting Benny-C. For us, we were just happy to see him for a minute and then continued to get excited about books. Our floor was a safe floor, and the worst he got was a few of us sprinting to get good pictures of him. He even walked past people and said hello and asked how they were. What a lovely chap.

And that was my YALC 2017! I had such a fantastic time, met new people, got a shit ton of books, and even spotted a few celebrities. I’m still on a little YALC high and have been scrolling through Twitter looking for blog posts and vlogs so if you’ve posted, let me know!

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Our Dark Duet By Victoria Schwab

Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: 13th June 2017
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Goodreads

Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human, no matter how much he once yearned for it. He’s a monster with a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own. 

So now I’m sad that another V.E. Schwab series is over.

In the space of 3 months, two endings to two very popular series were released, and while I devoured them both in a matter of hours, I had forgotten that once I’d finished them, THAT WAS IT.

Our Dark Duet is the sequel to This Savage Song, about a monster boy who dreams of being human, and a human girl with the fate of becoming monstrous. While the feel of the setting and themes may seem familiar to very genre-specific stories, this series is dripping with that Schwab passion that makes it so much more special than just an apocalyptic monster-book.

I love Schwab’s female characters, and Kate Harker is no exception. I read somewhere that Schwab likes to make her female characters Slytherin’s and my gosh, as a Slytherin, does that make my heart sing. Kate is fearless but also afraid, 100% done but also 100% willing to fight for what is right (or at least her version of right), an icy character with soft gooey centre…somewhere in there.

I love August too. Schwab has a knack for writing what I like to call ‘Hufflepuff Boys’; they’re loving, will do anything for their family, and they ARE the soft gooey centre! While the warring parts of the cities have closed in however, August has changed; he’s closed off, with-holding, and jumps at the chance to fight. I liked his character development – war changes a person, but obviously I love him for who he is which is a soft monster with a knack for playing the violin.

A thrilling end to another V.E. Schwab starred series!

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A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: 28th February 2017
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Goodreads

The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise. Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive? Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible. And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

I always find it a lot harder to review books I adored as opposed to books I hated.

It’s harder because what do I say that doesn’t sound like I’m being a mushy, soppy loved up reader? With negative reviews I can be cold and professional, almost academic sounding with my shade, but when it comes to love, how can you turn it into a review?

Let’s talk about the series as a whole rather than this book itself, to avoid spoilers.

tumblr_omlwvhTmhw1u04fedo1_540I’ve fallen in love with the Shades of Magic series. I fall in love often but maybe not this hard, and especially not with a high fantasy series. High fantasy can often come across as samey and stereotypical, often missing great opportunities to do something different as this is a genre where the possibilities are endless. You are literally creating a world with the power of your brain and language, and yet so many books are filled with cliches and things you’ve seen before. Things that, though may seem relatable and familiar to our world, still aren’t what makes a story in high fantasy so imaginative and immersing.

But Shades of Magic has always been about spreading your imagination far and wide; different Londons, folded over one another like the pages of a book, in universes that are similar but also not, hiding secrets and magic and evil. Already, you’re handed that and you know already that this series is not like the others.

But then you get the characters who aren’t stock, aren’t just what would expect in a high fantasy novel. They’re all lovable, even the villains, even the side characters who still have enough agency and personality to be someone you can actually picture rather than just an extra. But obviously, the main characters; Kell and Lila Bard are funny, witty and you can feel comfortable going on this cut throat journey with them as they make it through multiple Londons, learning different languages, and becoming accustomed to different cultures.

And of course, A Conjuring of Light was the bittersweet ending that I wanted but also didn’t want, because it meant never waiting to see what happens next. This series has all my praise, and I guarantee you will love it too.

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This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab

Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: June 2016
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ .5
Goodreads

Plot: Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

ADSOM and AGOS are two of my favourite books from this year.

I absolutely adore them, and while I now have the need to devour everything that V.E. Schwab writes, I am constantly aware of the fact that I may, by accident, compare any of her other works to the Shades of Magic series.

I really loved the idea that this story had; monsters among men, inhabiting the same space, despite the true natures of humans and monsters alike, how their motives can be intersected. Who is the monster? Are we not all?

I loved August and Kate so frickin’ much; both so different in their own way. You have August Flynn, violin playing monster and all encompassing puppy/cinnamon roll. He doesn’t like what he is, he can’t accept it, he just wants to fit in.

Kate Harker has something to prove. Burning down chapels and slaying monsters just so she’ll be noticed by her big boss father, who runs one side of the city, protecting the humans from what lies in the dark. She’s ruthless and fearless, yet traumatized by the violence of her past, she’s trying to fight for what’s rightly hers.

Both Kate and August complimented each other, with no explicit romance (THANKYOU) but such a strong friendship that should be portrayed more in YA. Boys and girls can have strong relationships without romantic or sexual implications.

The only thing that really bothered me was parts of the plot; some came across unoriginal and the stuff in urban fantasy that you’ve obviously read before. It’s a shame, and I think it’s because of how original and incredible ADSOM is, it’s set me up to be disappointed more. But I’ll definitely keep going on with this series, I’ll most likely follow everything V.E Schwab writes because I get like that.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

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Marvelous Male Characters

Gosh, I love a good companion post.

A while back I wrote a post inspired by readbyzoe’s video on her favourite fictional females. And because I’m a sucker for follow ups, I decided to compile a list of my favourite male characters. Getting in this list is tough; you gotta be original, different, and written down well. Male characters often succumb to those stereotypes, the seemingly good and bad ones. There’s the too perfect guy, the one in all the rom-com who ruins real men for the rest of the men loving population. And of course, the ‘bad boy’ which is the literal reason I do not trust some authors’ opinion of what love is supposed to be.

This list is one of complex, interesting, and diverse male characters who I would read about over and over again.

I want to point out I’m going to say “I fell in love” a lot throughout this post, and I don’t mean it in the sense you may fall in love with a real person. I mean…do I? I use the term “fell in love” to mean a multiple of things, but in this case, it’s the writing. I fell in love with the writing.

Alucard Emery
(A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab)

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The minute Alucard Emery was introduced, I instantly fell in love. I can’t believe we go through the whole first book (A Darker Shade of Magic) without having Alucard’s snark and not even missing it because we didn’t even know it existed at this point. His character adds a whole new dimension to the world of Red London, a whole new aspect that expands on what we know from The Golden Trio (Kell, Lila, and Rhy. I don’t know why I’m calling them this). He’s suave, mysterious, and adventurous. He’s also a frickin’ pirate. A PIRATE. I love how you’re second guessing him all the time, you don’t know the true nature of his feelings, not until the very end anyway.

Ronan Lynch
(The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater)

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I knew Ronan Lynch would be a fave from the very first time we meet him in The Raven Boys. But it wasn’t until the second book, The Dream Thieves, do you really dig your nails in deep and say “Yep, this character is for me”. All the characters in this series are incredibly complex and amazing, but Ronan is a whole other ball park. An angry, confusing character, Ronan says and does things you wouldn’t expect. He has a harsh shell with a soft centre, which creeps slowly to the surface the further you read. I cannot tell you how excited I get when a chapter starts and it’s in Ronan’s POV. He’s a fan favourite, and you can tell in the way Maggie Stiefvater writes and even just talks about him that she is in love with him too.

The Darkling
(The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo)

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Oh, now, who doesn’t love a good villain? A villain who you can’t get enough of, who you love to hear speak of ruling the world, twisting his manipulation powers to the max, making life for the protagonist actual Hell. The Darkling is one of the most well-written villains I’ve come across, and it’s because you believe him too. This man/being is not a good person. He is evil and wicked and all those horrible things, but a good villain can take you over to his side, and that’s exactly what Leigh Bardugo has done with The Darkling. Fans love him, fall in love with him, and sometimes it’s for the wrong reasons. You just know that’s what he wants, he’s got you believing in him and he isn’t even real. That’s a good villain.

Noah Sweetwine
(I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson)

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Noah Sweetwine is quite possibly the cutest cinnamon roll you will ever come across. One of the protagonists of one of the best books out there, Noah is that character that goes through so much crap and still comes out (haha) semi alright in the end. While I feel his story peetered off at the end in favour of his sister, Jude’s, storyline, I found Noah’s plot to be a whole lot more interesting and even more believeable. By the way, if you haven’t picked up a Jandy Nelson book yet then what are you doing.

Cassel Sharpe
(Curse Workers by Holly Black)

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I have no idea why this series isn’t talked about more in the book community. It’s literally an intricate and slick magic system mixed in with the mob. But anyway, the protagonist, Cassel Sharpe, goes through shit. He’s powerful, and a lot of bad people know it. He’s the youngest son of a family of dodgy con men and swindlers, and he just wants to live a normal life, date normal girls, and go to his normal school. He’s funny, daring, and self-aware. This series is very underrated, I suggest you pick it up!

Tell me some of your fave male characters; what are qualities in a male character that you love to read about? Maybe male characters you hate? I know there are some I hate…maybe that’s for another post.

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Top 5 Wednesday // Fave Character Names

I don’t know if it’s me, or if it’s a writer thing, but I have a weird thing when it comes to names. I love them, but I’m also extremely picky. When it comes to choosing names for my characters, it’s like putting new shoes onto them. Some feel too big, others too small. They may just not fit right, and we’ll have to take some others out for a spin.

But sometimes, and this often happens a lot, there is THE name. The one that you only need to try once, and you know it’s perfect. A name is a part of a person’s identity, their personality, in real life and in fiction. One name can describe a thousand things about a character, and I use them often for symbolism and metaphors. I feel I like a simpler name as opposed to some of the ones often used in fantasies, the ones with too many symbols. I ain’t so big on those. So, without further rambling, here are my top 5 character names!

Simon Snow
(Carry On/Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell)

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So I love this book already, but when a name just works, it’s fantastic. Simon Snow sounds like a superhero name; Marvel and DC love to alliterate the first and last names of their characters and honestly, I get it. It does sound heroic, and considering Simon is the chosen on in Carry On, I don’t blame Rainbow Rowell for choosing something so simple and comic souding.

Blue Sargeant
(The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater)

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Despite it being a popular colour, Blue’s name is significantly odd. The only character I know with the same name is Bloo from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and that’s only because the character was a blue blob…a literal blue blob. But Blue Sargeant is nothing but ordinary, a psychic amplifier with a psychic family who goes to hunt Welsh Kings with her friends (and one in particular who likes to call her Jane).

Victor Vale & Eli Ever
(Vicious by V.E. Schwab)

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Along the same vein as Simon Snow, Victor Vale and Eli Ever are best friends turned enemies, both with supernatural powers that ultimately, make them one superhero and one supervillain. But the question is, who is who in this tale of the grey between good and evil. This wasn’t my favourite book by V.E. Schwab, but I definitely saw it’s appeal. I was very hopeful in the outcome of some things, but they just didn’t happen. I’d give it a read anyway because it’s a very interesting deconstruction of the superhero genre (and because the names are great!)

Jaxon Hall
(The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon)

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I don’t know if it’s just me, but a two syllable first name with a one syllable last name just always fits perfect for me. It sounds like someone important, with a name that’ll be spoken through microphone or on plaques. Jaxon Hall is the king of the criminal underground in The Bone Season (or, at least in my eyes). He’s mysterious, charming, and ruthless, with a name that no one forgets, especially not after what happens in The Mime Order…

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme created by gingerreadslainey.

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TTT // 10 Of My Most Recent 5 Star Reads

TTT is Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

After having a browse of my Goodreads shelves, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am super frivolous when giving out 5 stars. While trying to upkeep the reputation of stone cold bitch, I am also super empathetic. I hate giving out middling ratings like 3 stars; what can an author do with that? How they improve on a rating that basically translates to “Eh.” And then, there’s the lower ratings, which I only really give if I have strong negative feelings about a book.

But, apparently, I’m easily impressed, so we don’t need to worry about that. Here are my 10 most recent 5 stars and why I gave them 5 stars.

The Sky Is Everywhere & I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

I read tumblr_o4p7rgh8n11tymrywo1_540The Sky Is Everywhere recently whilst in sunny Spain. I wasn’t feeling too well, so while the family went off on a full day’s trek, I stayed in the villa and read this book in one sitting on the roof. I felt like I wasn’t in Spain anymore, but in California, with the characters, feeling the things they felt (I told you I was empathetic). The writing will leave you completely enamored. Jandy Nelson is a genius with the written word.

I’ll Give You The Sun was my first dip into the wonderful world of Jandy Nelson, and it was rec’d to me from a lovely person at YALC (who I understand was just trying to sell me books, but I’m sure also love the story, so I trusted them). What I’d be opening the page to, I did NOT expect. Gosh, if I thought Rainbow Rowell was a fantastic contemporary writer, then Jandy Nelson is up there with her, battling it out for top spot in my mind. Every character is vibrant, flawed, and uuuuuugh.

 

A Darker Shade of Magic & A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schagoswab

After getting A Darker Shade of Magic purely on a whim, from the first chapter I knew I was in for a good’un. ADSOM is full to the brim with delicious descriptions of character, of setting, and even of costumes. Every character is rich in personality and flaw and you end up loving every single one, regardless of their level of evilness (which sometimes can make you love them more anyway).

I didn’t have to wait for A Gathering of Shadows for long (oh, the joys of getting into a series late), and was once again blown away from the sheer detail and imagination put into these books. Just give them a read, and you’ll become obsessed.

 

11250317The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

This was a library book pick that I had no idea about. I’m not a big fan of historical fiction, and I’m not too fussed about Greek Mythology. I picked this up on a whim and ended up crying at 10pm on a Saturday night while listening to Death of a Bachelor by Panic! At The Disco. Oh, the symbolism. Get ready for your heart to literally triple in size. I wrote the review for this not ten minutes after reading it because I could just not keep my thoughts inside.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black20958632

I’ve just been recently disappointed by Holly Black with The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, but this book was beautiful. A metaphor for growing up, along with faeries and magical creatures and cute LGBT+ love. It mixes fantasy with real life contemporary so much so that it makes it look normal to have faeries living in the forest near your house.

The Dreadreamthievesm Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys was fine. The Dream Thieves was something else. Who knew I could find interest in a book about cars when I don’t give two shits about ’em? Book 2 in The Raven Cycle is the most popular I reckon, because Ronan Lynch is a precious sinnamon roll. Kavinsky, the book’s antagonist, is also a rich and developed, fucked up character who makes everything more interesting. I read this whilst on a week off from work whilst also taking part in Nanowrimo. Honestly, just read it.

Landline and Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Here she is, the light of my life. There is not a Rainbow Rowell book I havencarryonhotchocolate‘t liked yet. Apart from Fangirl, which as 4 stars, I’ve given RR 5 stars for all her other books. Landline is the most recent one I’ve read, an adult contemporary about juggling life when it’s at it’s busiest. It was so perfect, so much so that I read on the bus; a very dangerous thing for me to do.

Carry On was one for the best books I read in 2015. When you read a passage, and you have to put the book down and stare into space and bask in it, then you know you’re on to a corker. Raimbow Rowell is fantastic at character heavy stories, and Carry On is a great example.

Six of Crogrishaandcrowsws by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo has literally become the queen of my bookish heart. Every story she writes captures my attention so easily and so quickly. I received Six Of Crows as an ARC through work, and so got to read it a few months before it was released. The Grisha Trilogy is one of my all time favourite series, and I was concerned that Six of Crows might not be of the same caliber. But it is, and so much more. It’s grittier, more feisty, and rag tag team of misfits is my jam. I bought the fancy hardcover version and went to get it signed by LB at a talk she did, where she gave thoughtful and insightful answers to each and every question. She and her writing are who and what I aspire to be.

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