YALC Wrap Up | 2017

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YALC 2017 is now officially over, and it truly was an amazing three days. I spent the weekend with my sister Jess, and our lovely friend Liv who joined us for Saturday – I am absolutely exhausted from all the walking, standing and chatting, but I wish it could be YALC all year round. After one smashed honey pot, one missed train, and one forgotten ticket, we arrived at YALC on Friday morning laden down with books and snacks, and bouncing with excitement (quite literally).

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Review – After the Fire

33357614Title: After the Fire
Author:
 Will Hill
Published by: Usborne
Publication date: 1st June 2017
Pages: 496, paperback
Genre: YA, contemporary, cult fiction, thriller

‘The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade.’

Father John controls everything inside The Fence. And Father John likes rules. Especially about never talking to Outsiders. Because Father John knows the truth. He knows what is right, and what is wrong. He knows what is coming.

Moonbeam is starting to doubt, though. She’s starting to see the lies behind Father John’s words. She wants him to be found out.

What if the only way out of the darkness is to light a fire?

***

This is another book that has been on my shelf for ages, just waiting for me to pick it up. I find books about cults immensely fascinating, so I was very excited to read After the Fire. I started this book at around three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, and proceeded to spend the rest of the day reading it. I was utterly gripped from start to finish.

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Classics Crackdown

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This summer I decided it was time for me to have a classics crackdown – alongside YA, of course. I want to read more, and read widely, discovering books I love from hundreds of years ago, as well as keeping up with all the wonderful YA being published. I may be giving myself too much to do, but I suppose only time will tell. And I thought I would begin sharing all my classic-related endeavours with you, lovely reader (though I am sure these posts will be quite infrequent, as after all, this is a YA blog).

I’m beginning with something super fun and interesting: my compulsory summer reading list. Or rather, my summer reading list-that-is-kinda-voluntary-but-I’ll-read-them-all-anyway-because #OVERACHIEVER.

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Review – Orbiting Jupiter

30335557Title: Orbiting Jupiter
Author:
 Gary D. Schmidt
Published by: Andersen Press
Publication date: 2nd March 2017
Pages: 192, paperback
Genre: YA, contemporary

A heartbreaking story, narrated by twelve-year-old Jack, whose family is caring for fourteen-year-old Joseph. Joseph is misunderstood. He was incarcerated for trying to kill a teacher. Or so the rumours say. But Jack and his family see something others in town don’t want to.
What’s more, Joseph has a daughter he’s never seen. The two boys go on a journey through the bitter Maine winter to help Joseph find his baby – no matter the cost.
 

***

I was intrigued by this book as soon as I read the blurb for the first time, and I knew it would be quite different from the other books I read. Once I started, I was so absorbed in this book that I finished it in virtually one sitting; I could hardly turn the pages fast enough!

I adored the writing style in this book – I thought is was very engaging, and it really put across the voice of Jack, who is only twelve years old. It was also so interesting to follow the story, which was told from Jack’s perspective but really about Joseph; we get to see Joseph develop and grow with his new foster family, and Jack offers a very detailed view as to how he treated by the teachers and pupils once he started school.

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Review – If Birds Fly Back

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Title: If Birds Fly Back
Author: 
Carlie Sorosiak
Published by: Macmillan’s Children’s Books
Publication date: 29th June 2017
Pages: 352, paperback
Genre: YA, contemporary, romance

Linny has been living life in black and white since her sister Grace ran away, and she’s scared that Grace might never come back. When Linny witnesses the return to Miami of a cult movie star long presumed dead, she is certain it’s a sign. Surely Álvaro Herrera, of all people, can tell her why people come back – and how to bring her sister home?

Sebastian has come to Miami seeking his father, a man whose name he’s only just learned. An aspiring astrophysicist, he can tell Linny how many galaxies there are, how much plutonium weighs and how likely she is to be struck by a meteorite. But none of the theories he knows are enough to answer his own questions about why his father abandoned him, and why it left him in pieces.

As Sebastian and Linny converge around the mystery of Álvaro’s disappearance – and return – their planets start to collide. Linny’s life is about to become technicolor, but finding the answers to her questions might mean losing everything that matters.

***

If Birds Fly Back is another one of the stunning debuts released in 2017, and I had been dying to read it for ages. I finally sat down to read it (borrowing my sister’s ARC), right before the book launch, which I went to and had a blast!

I loved the alternating POVs between Linny and Sebastian. If Birds Fly Back is an example of a dual narrative done well – it was always easy to distinguish between the two of them because of the strong characterisation, and as both of them had there own stories to tell, the individual storylines unfolded really well.

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Does blogging change you as a reader? | discussion

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Ever since I was old enough to pick up a book and understand the words on the page, I have been reading. Starting with Biff and ChipThe Rainbow Fairies and Harry Potter, I have felt my reading develop throughout my life. I started my blog in October 2016 – not even a year ago, but the way in which I read has already been transformed completely.

Firstly, I read a lot more. For about a year or so prior to starting my blog, my reading had slowed down a fair amount. I still always had a book on the go, but I just did not prioritise reading. Now, however, I try to give myself at least an hour to read every day, preferably more. This is because there is just so much to read – books I requested and need to read in order to review them, books I have marked down for various reading challenges or events, and of course, the books on my ever-growing TBR. And on top of that are those random books that I pick up, and then buy/borrow, books that I’ve never heard of before and that don’t fit into any of the above categories, but still demand to be read. So yeah. Lots more reading gets done now. And running a blog, and having a community to share my opinions with makes reading feel rewarding in an entirely new way.

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Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

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It’s a little past the middle of the year now, but I was recently tagged in the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag, and I thought it looked like a lot of fun (it also gives me the opportunity to rave about the books I’ve loved so far this year, which is also fab). I was tagged by Annike and Zoe over at Twin Tales (go and read there tag here!), so thank you very much!

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2017?

This is a nightmare of a question – how can I be expected to pick one book, when I have a list of about ten? I think what I’ll have to do, is pick my most recently-read favourite, and that is 1984 by George Orwell. I read this last week, and was absolutely blown away. I also feel like this is a book I will be rereading a lot, as there is just so much to it, and the story is so complex.

2. Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2017?

This is an easy answer: The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury. I read The Sin Eater’s Daughter in 2016, but really fell in love with this trilogy at the beginning of this year. The second and third books in this series are so stunning, and I could hardly bring myself to put them down!

3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To?

So many. Too many, in fact. Just a few are When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli – the list is endless. Above all, however, I am desperate to read Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare; I’m so annoyed with myself for not having read this yet, and I know that when I do, it’s going to leave me an emotional wreck.

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YALC: Schedule Reaction

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YALC is getting closer and closer, and the full schedule has now been released! Today I thought I’d go through the best bits (in my opinion, anyway), and if you want to see the full schedule, you can find it on here, as well as frequent updates on the YALC Twitter page.

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A slightly blurry picture of the Cassandra Clare talk at YALC 2015.

On the Friday, I’m especially looking forward to the panel on ‘Writing What You Know’, with Alex Wheatle, Lisa Williamson, Rachael Lucas, Lisa Heathfield, Hannah Witton and Katherine Webber, as well as the workshop on ‘Writing your own YALC zine’. I am also already feeling torn between the panel on ‘Heroines’ and the workshop on ‘Creating Writing From Your Own Experience’, which are on at the same time!

On Saturday, there are quite a few panels that I am really looking forward to, including ‘Who runs the world?’ (which clashes with the ‘Books to Bag’ workshop, eek), ‘Writing from real events’, ‘Unconventional romance’, and ‘Myths, magic and fairytale’, as well as a panel with E Lockhart.

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Burn, Rewrite, Reread

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This is a tag I found ages ago on Kelly’s blog, and I thought it looked super fun. So I enlisted the help of one of my friends, who wrote down the titles of some books I’ve read, and I picked out three at a time to burn, rewrite or reread!

Truth or Dare, The Hate U Give, Flight of a Starling

 

Reread – The Hate U Give

Rewrite – Truth or Dare

Burn – Flight of a Starling

This was super hard, but at the end of the day, I cannot burn The Hate U Give, and I would really hate to rewrite it (as part of the reason this book is so powerful is that it’s own voices). And as Truth or Dare is an absolute favourite of mine, I can’t burn that either. So sorry to Flight of a Starling which, as much as I love it, had to be burned in this round.

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