Saturday, October 22, 2016

Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon - October 2016

I made the last minute decision to sign-up for the readathon today! I was considering it before but as I have two books I want to finish by tomorrow, plenty more on my TBR, and a cold that'll stop me doing anything more adventurous, I decided it made sense to go for it!

In this post I'll be keeping track of how it goes. To begin, here's the Opening Meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

London, UK.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. I've heard so many good things about it. I only have a two book stack (check it out on Instagram and Litsy) of books I must read, after that I'm going to pick up whatever I fancy from my many overflowing piles.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Dinner! I'm not a big snacker, but I do have nuts and seeds on hand.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I need to finish 25 books before the end of the year to complete my Goodreads Reading Challenge...I'm quite behind! I'm also behind on all my other reading challenges, so I want this readathon to help me catch up.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I've been aware of this readathon for as long as it's started, but have never taken part before, being too intimidated! I'm looking forward to finally getting over this and hopefully joining in the many readathons to come!

And here's the End of Event Survey:

Which hour was most daunting for you?

Around hour 4-5 I started to flag so I switched from reading short stories to reading a novel!

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

The Rest of Us Just Live Here was fantastic and kept me engaged for the rest of the Readathon.

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season?

Nope! This was my first one, so I'm hardly an expert!

What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

I loved the use of social media, it really made me feel like I was part of something when I checked in on Instagram and Litsy and Twitter.

How many books did you read?

I had a good go at two, but I didn't finish either! I'm a very sleep-dependent person and I had a cold so I didn't stay up reading!

What were the names of the books you read?

The novel I was reading was The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness, and I was also reading the Doctor Who: 12 Doctors, 12 Stories collection.

Which book did you enjoy most?/Which did you enjoy least?

I don't think it's really fair to compare them but I found the short stories hard-going.

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I will definitely be a reader in future Readathons! It was a lot of fun!

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Villains in Books

I could not resist this topic as I love a book villain, especially one who is a little bit sympathetic or is extremely clever!
Top Ten Villains in Books

1. Voldemort, from the Harry Potter series - I thought I'd kick off with a classic and couldn't resist putting Voldemort on the list. He's got it all. He's physically frightening, creepy, wants to kill the lead character, wants to oppress all Muggles, you name it, if it's evil, Voldy wants to do it. Plus his middle name is Elvis in the French translation, which is très drôle, non?

2. President Alma Coin, from the Hunger Games trilogy - I know Snow is more iconic but Coin is ultimately more cunning, and therefore more interesting to me. I love it when a villain appears to be the good one but has a self-serving plan.

3. Speaking of self-serving, Piper Greenmantle in Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle is the queen of selfishness. She does whatever suits her in the moment without really thinking about it and that makes her much more scary then any of the other potential villains in this series.

4. Another villain that appears to be 'the good one' is Silarial, the Queen of the Seelie Court in Holly Black's Modern Fairy Tale series. The Seelie Court make a good show of being genteel but behind all that prettiness they're child-snatching monsters.

5. The Queen in The Sin-Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury has so much power she gets away with only the thinnest veneer of civility, which is quickly brushed away when things don't go as she had planned.

6. Opal Koboi, from the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer, is probably my favourite villain on this list. She pretends to be an upstanding businessfairy, but is actually deliciously evil and brilliantly cruel. It's so much fun to both see her put Artemis and the others in danger and get her comeuppance.

7. Opal seized power from her father, and another favourite villain who grasped power when she had the chance to get it is Circe, from Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy. She was the girl who wasn't gifted, who could only access power when her best friend allowed it, and when there was the risk that she would never be able to wield it again, she took matters into her own hands. I have a lot of sympathy for her - even though she does terrible things to get that power.

8. That's enough individuals - now let's move on to a villainous organisation. Rush Recruitment is the big bad of the Hobson and Choi series by Nick Bryan (my boyfriend - the fourth book is out today so I couldn't resist including them on my list), an evil recruitment agency/human trafficking organisation. They're genuinely terrifying, even though so far they haven't appeared that frequently, because they have their fingers in so many pies and commit such appalling acts.

8. In the marvellous historical fantasy Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho, the villain is really institutional prejudice. Everything would have gone a lot differently for the main characters had they not had to deal with racism and sexism throughout their lives - and a good part of the plot involves them fighting it efficiently and hilariously, in order to save the day.

10. Similarly, but more extreme, the villain in Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill is the entire goddamn system. Everything is hopeless for frieda and isabel because all the odds have been stacked against them. And that's the most frightening thing of all.

Let me know in the comments if any of your favourite villains are on my list, and if you've participated in this week's Top Ten Tuesday.

Top Ten Tuesday was created and is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Five More Contemporary YA Books to Read Before YALC

YALC is in ELEVEN DAYS TIME! But don't worry, there's still time to get some reading done...maybe just a little if you've got to work! If you want some moral support, the YALC Readathon Challenge is still open, and if my first recommendations post wasn't enough, I am here for you:

1. Counting Stars, by Keris Stainton

View on Instagram

Counting Stars is at the older end of YA, it could be called NA (New Adult), and it is my favourite of Keris' books that I've read so far. It follows Anna who moves to Liverpool after she finishes school to move into a shared house and work at a theatre, keeping her YouTube channel going all the while. Anna and her housemates deal with adulthood in very different ways, and it was really interesting and entertaining to see them work their way through grown-up problems for the first time. I wrote a draft of a NA novel last year and Counting Stars, although quite different from what I'm working on, confirmed my belief that it's important that we have more books featuring characters of this age. Keris will be leading a workshop on Writing YA on the Saturday at YALC.

2. Hacker, by Malorie Blackman

This is a really quick read so ideal if you haven't got much reading time in the next couple of weeks! Vicky's father, a programmer at a bank, is wrongfully accused of stealing a million pounds. To clear his name, she logs into the bank's system and tries to work out what has been going on. It was first published in 1992, so it is a bit dated - for a more detailed explanation, watch the video above - but it's still a quick read, ideal for younger teens.

3. Remix, by Non Pratt

Non will be joining Sophia Bennett on the 'Teenage Soundtrack: Music in YA' panel, and rightly so, as Remix is all about the power of music to bring friends together. I made it sound totally cheesy then, didn't I? It's not, I promise! Remix is about best friends, Kaz and Ruby, who are going to a music festival together. Their favourite band in the world is playing, and a bunch of their friends are going. In theory, this should be the perfect break from normality, but both of them have secrets they're trying not to let slip out... I did a full review of Remix here.

4. Lobsters, by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

Another book featuring a music festival is Lobsters, but it's quite different in tone - Remix is more serious, full of friendship and romantic dramas, whereas Lobsters is very much a heartwarming romantic comedy. The tag line is 'A socially awkward love story' and that is exactly what you get, as Sam and Hannah try and fail and try again to get together. It's very funny. In fact, I don't think I've stopped laughing at it and I read it months ago - lines from the book pop into my head sometimes and I start cracking up all over again. I would share my favourite line, the one I laugh at the most, but I don't want to spoil it for you. Just read it for yourself! The authors are leading a workshop on co-writing.

5. Nobody's Girl, by Sarra Manning

If festivals aren't your thing, why not take a trip to Paris with Bea, who has been obsessed with France ever since her mum first told her that her absent father was a Parisien. When she gets the chance to explore Paris for real, she can't resist - even though she was meant to be in Spain with her school's Mean Girl clique. She finds romance and adventure and gets into a lot of trouble with her mum. My full review is here.

Have you read any of these? If you haven't, get on it! While we're having this heatwave, why not roll with it and take copies of Remix and or Lobsters to the park? Go on! Join the Readathon!

Many thanks to Hot Key Books for sending me a copy of Counting Stars and to Walker Books for sending me Remix.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Five Contemporary YA Books to Read before YALC

As host of the 2016 YALC Readathon Challenge I've been thinking a lot about what books I would recommend by authors attending YALC. Hopefully I'll do several posts in this series, but I thought I'd start with five contemporary YA books, as that is my favourite genre!
1. Girl Out of Water, by Nat Luurtsema

View on Instagram

This is the first book I read for the YALC Readathon Challenge (go on, join me!) and it was a great way to *PUN ALERT* dive in - Girl Out of Water follows Lou Brown's attempts to find new friends and a new place in the world following her failure to get into Olympic swimming school.
It's funny (Nat is on the Funny YA panel), heartwarming, and deals with an issue I think is underexplored in fiction - coping with failure. Not everyone is going to succeed against all the odds. Sometimes the odds are never in your favour - and you keep going, like Lou learns to do.

2. Love Song, by Sophia Bennett

I have read some amazing books so far this year and plan to read many more - but I'm sure whatever happens this will be in my top five. I was not expecting to fall in love with a story about a girl who goes on tour with a boyband, but reader, I fell HARD.
I am really looking forward to the Music in YA panel!

3. London Belongs to Us, by Sarra Manning

Both Sarra Manning's 2016 releases. View on Instagram

If you've never read any books by Sarra before this is a great place to start - though if you're spoiler-averse you may want to read Guitar Girl and Adorkable first. An enormously entertaining love letter to London filled with snappy one-liners, it follows Sunny's pursuit of her wayward boyfriend (or is he ex-boyfriend?) over one night and features pastries, parties, perilous road journeys, dramatic confrontations and hairspray. There are also several girls you'll wish you could be friends with - highly appropriate as Sarra is on the #SquadGoals panel.

4. Boy Meets Boy, by David Levithan
Look at my beautiful hardback. Just look at it.

View on Instagram

If just gazing at the cover isn't enough to make you pick it up, this is an LGBT classic. It's a pretty straightfoward romance story with the usual tropes but it's set at a school where there isn't really any homophobia - it's a utopian vision of what school should be like, and although it's not realistic, it's lovely to disappear into a world where things are a little more as they should be.

5. My Secret Rockstar Boyfriend, by Eleanor Wood

From my 'Music March'. View on Instagram

This is a funny and surprisingly realistic story about Tuesday Cooper, a music blogger who starts getting comments from her favourite rockstar. One thing leads to another and he becomes the secret boyfriend of the title, getting her into trouble with friends and family alike. It's really interesting seeing how she deals with the mess she's in and moves towards adulthood.
What books by YALC authors do you recommend? Would you choose different books by these authors? Let me know! And don't forget to vote for your favourites!

Friday, June 03, 2016

The YALC Readathon Challenge 2016

There are two inspirations behind this bookish bonanza - traditional reading challenges, which I don't think have been done before for YALC, and the YALC Readathon, which was previously run by Jess Hearts Books (the creator), Michelle from Fluttering Butterflies, Vicky from Books, Biscuits and Tea, and Carly from Writing from the Tub.

I originally planned to start a YALC Reading Challenge months ago, because of the sheer number of authors who are going to be at YALC (the Young Adult Literature Convention) this year. I have a LOT of reading to do. And so have you! There are some amazing people on the list with fantastic titles under their belt.

However, I then got the flu. I could barely use my computer for the best part of three weeks thanks to muscle pain and fatigue that my doctor insisted was completely normal! Sure enough, I did eventually get better, but now I've lost so much time I decided to combine both ideas, and host the first Readathon Challenge!
Enough about me, onto the rules:

The books that you read for the 2016 YALC Readathon Challenge must be by authors who are appearing at YALC this year. You can see the list of authors who have been confirmed so far here. I also run the annual YALC Goodreads list, where you can vote for your favourite reads.

If you're unable to attend YALC this year, you can still take part in the challenge - there will be a lot of livetweeting during the convention! If you're not in the UK, why not sign up and sample some of the finest authors the British Isles have to offer, as well as some internationally successful reads?

This Readathon Challenge is open from today (3 June 2016) until the final day of YALC (31 July 2016).

Decided to take part?

Step One
Choose how long you want to readathon for - a weekend, a week, a fortnight, a month, from now until the 31st July, a single evening - it's up to you!

Step Two
Choose your level:
Convention Intention - read 1-4 books by authors who are appearing at YALC
Convention Attention - read 5-15 books by authors who are appearing at YALC
Convention Affection - read 16-25 books by authors who are appearing at YALC
Convention Perfection - read 26+ books by authors who are appearing at YALC

You can increase your level if you find yourself reading faster than you expected!

Step Three (optional)
Choose a Bonus Challenge, if you'd like, or more than one if you're feeling brave:

Happy Historian - previously, at YALC... read two or more books by an author who has appeared at YALC in the past and won't be there this year
Brilliant Bookswapper - read two or more books that you want to give away to another blogger or donate to the YALC bookswap
Radiant Reviewer - review two or more books by authors who are appearing at YALC

Step Four
Submit your link below!

If you have a blog, please link to a post that says what level and bonus challenge you have chosen, or update your reading challenges list, if like me, you keep them all in one place. You don't have to be a blogger to take part - if you don't have a blog, you can link to your Twitter or Goodreads instead. You can use the banner above if you wish :)

Personally, I am going to choose the Convention Attention level, and I'm hoping to read the following:

It's going well, I'm already part-way through Girl Out of Water and loving it!

After YALC I will do a post and link to my favourite reviews by people taking part in the challenge. You can also tweet about the challenge and share your progress by using the hashtag #yalcread

I hope you decide to take part in the YALC Readathon Challenge and have an amazing time!

Edited to add, here's a quick video in which I talk about the challenge:

Please note that the YALC Readathon Challenge is unofficial - I have no professional connection with Showmasters or Booktrust.


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