Sunday, 31 July 2016

Spotlight Sunday: Books on Tour - YALC

On Friday I had the chance to attend the UK's only Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) for the second year running. Though I was only there for just the day, I thought I'd use this Sunday to recap my adventures in books.

Though I only arrived late due to coming from up north and a long train journey, I headed straight to the Books with Bite stand to sign up to their newsletter and get some awesome swag and a tote. I managed to get myself a Crooked Kingdom sampler (Currently reading 6oC), 6oC signed bookplate, and Summoner Books badges. I also got some more fabulous swag from the freebies table, including a Roseblood poster!

I then headed to the Atom stand for a signed copy of On the Other Side for a friend, and then to Waterstones for another copy of The Inquisition (for another friend), plus Half Wild and Unboxed for myself. After that it was time for the signing session for Melinda Salisbury, Taran Matharu and Sally Green.

Heading to Taran's queue first to make sure I got my friend's copy signed, we had a wonderful chat about the Summoner series, and he even remembered me from last year. Very happy start! I chatted to Sally about living around the same area as her and she even mentioned that the train Nathan would have taken to the council would have been the same one I took that morning. Super awesome. Then I joined Melinda's still snaking (Slytherin joke!) queue but it was totally worth it because once again she was so amazingly lovely! She gave me and devilish look when I said Merek needs a happy ending (Sad face) and then hugged me when I gave her a Slytherin pin I'd bought for her. Queen Salisbury of Slytherin!

I pretty much meandered around for the rest of the afternoon, spotting Chelley Toy and Stevie Finegan but being too shy to say anything, and gathering swag and books from all the different and amazing publisher stalls. I even managed to get a proof of Stealing Snow from the wonderful Bloomsbury team!

I also met the lovely Holly Smale again, who also remembered me from last year. We had a lovely chat about Geek Girl, specifically Wilbur and Jasper who I just adore. GG is one of my all time favourite series' so it was wonderful to meet Holly again.

After some more meandering and book buying I noticed a gathering of people around the signing area about 20 minutes or so before Victoria Schwab's signing. Alarm bells ringing I decided it was probably a good idea to join the just formed queue and get ahead of the game so to speak. Victoria was clearly going to be an extremely busy signing, and I'm so glad I did, it was mad!

Meeting Victoria was like a dream come true, and she was super lovely. We talked about her books and I told her how much I love Kell and Rhy. She even showed me some awesome fan art someone gave her and called Kell her baby. She seemed a little bit in awe of how many people were waiting for her and so I even told her I pretty much came because she was there; I'd been unsure beforehand because going for one day is so exhausting. It's certainly a moment I'll not forget!

After Victoria's signing I was done for the day. There were other things I would have liked to stay for but I knew I should look after myself first. That's con rule no1. Despite a slight panic back at Euston (Too many people!) I got the train back home and had experienced such a wonderful day.

I'll definitely be going again next year, and fingers crossed it'll be for the whole 3 days! For anyone who hasn't yet been, I really do urge you to. It's amazing!

Thanks for reading!


Monday, 25 July 2016

Tip Top Tips: YALC

YALC is this week! While I'm sure most of us, myself included, are still not wholly prepared, I thought I'd share my tips from attending last year for the first time (alone!) in the hopes it might help with some of the immense preparation for all.

1) Don't rush.

We all want to do everything. All the time. But sometimes you've got to take in the atmosphere too and make some memories. So don't rush. Take it all in. Enjoy. Remember. You'll thank yourself later.

One of my personal highlights that I remember vividly is Sarah Rees Brennan asking me my favourite TMI characters. Without thinking I said 'Jem' then, realising he wasn't really in TMI (technically not a MC), averted to 'and Magnus'. Somehow Sarah thought I meant as a couple, and the sidelong glance from Cassie had me in stitches once I was home. So yes, take it all in folks. YALC is one of a kind, as are the authors who attend.

2) Sustenance

The key to any convention. Do not underestimate queue length, both signings and the food itself. Be prepared.

3) Comfortable shoes

Another big one. Don't underestimate how important healthy, comfortable feet are. You'll be on them most of the day!

4) Give it a go!

Don't be afraid to let loose and try everything on offer! Being alone and anxious I was too scared to try much and I do regret it.

5) Polite, not pushover

I say this more from experience. Conventions are filled with people all with their own wants and fun packed agendas. Polite society and etiquette still applies of course (we are British) but don't be a pushover. I.E;

There was a competition for an ARC of House of Shattered Wings. Go to the Gollancz stand and shout 'wings' once they've tweeted to do so. I saw the tweet within seconds of posting and by the time I got there, the proof was still up for grabs. But people were in front of me looking at the books so I politely waited for a gap. As I did, someone sidled alongside me, shouted, and that was it.

So yeah, be polite, never rude, but don't be a pushover. Not when it comes to competitions anyway *wink face*

6) Bring a friend

What helps with both anxiety and not being a pushover is if you have a friend. If there's someone you can attend with, go with the phrase 'the more the merrier'. It helps.

7) Books, books, books

Bear in mind how much you take with you and how much you buy. You'll have to carry it all home in the end!

8) Take it easy

Just as with not rushing, take it easy. I ended up having a panic attack last year because I did too much, didn't eat right, bought too much, was alone, and was tired, hence the tips here. It's not something I intend to repeat or want anyone else to feel, so don't underestimate breaks and taking care of yourself.

9) Be careful where you roam

Part of what triggered my anxiety was heading down to the LFCC floor which was mad busy and packed to the rafters. So have fun, but be careful where you go and when.

10) 3 is better than 1

What's better than breaks and meticulous planning, trying to find the line between fun and keeping happy? More time of course. If you can attend all three days, it should improve pressure and anxiety because you simply have more time and less rushing.

11) Cash, not dash

The convention operates mainly on cash, so make sure you have plenty. You don't want to spend part of your day dashing to cash machines. It wastes time and could lead to potential purchases being taken by someone else.

12) Ears and eyes open

Announcements such as changes to signing times, panels and signing queues are usually by Twitter, so keep an eye out, or an ear for stewards. It certainly helps keep track and makes sure you don't miss anything.

So those are my tips for YALC! I really hope you've found at least a few of them useful.

Thanks for reading!

Holly @TheArtsShelf

Sunday, 24 July 2016

ARC Review: Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith.

I received a proof of this wonderful book from the lovely Georgia Lawe and Curious Fox Books. This in no way affects my opinions or rating.

It is Clara who is desperate to enter the labyrinth and it is Clara who is bright, strong, and fearless enough to take on any challenge. It is no surprise when she is chosen. But so is the girl who has always lived in her shadow. Together they enter. Within minutes, they are torn apart forever. Now the girl who has never left the city walls must fight to survive in a living nightmare, where one false turn with who to trust means a certain dead end.
Information about the Book
Title: Children of Icarus
Authors: Caighlan Smith
Release Date: July 2016
Genre: Dystopian
Publisher: Curious Fox Books
Format: Paperback 

This story has been compared to the Maze Runner and maybe there are some similarities but I think Children of Icarus more than holds its own against the competition, a truly unique book in its own rights. The story follows an unnamed protagonist, a meek teen who has no desire to be chosen as Icarii, one of the special children who enter the unknowns of the labyrinth in search of eternal life. That's Clara. Her best friend.

But when Clara prays for both of them to be chosen, her life becomes a nightmare.

I think what I loved most about Children of Icarus was the protagonist's journey. She not only learns to stand up for herself, she grows as a person, and it was a joy to witness. I was cheering for her the entire way through.

What I also loved was the setting. Smith didn't just create a fearsome labyrinth within which these teens have to survive, she steeped it in mythology, adding reason to every action, monster and twist. Despite the fantastical, the story seemed as real and believable as you or I. It was therefore not just a setting I became sucked into, one that conjured images of fear and bloodshed, but a setting that I learnt from and that fostered a yearning to know more about the mythology it was steeped in.

The supporting characters really helped to make the book also. No one was purely hero or villain, they all had their own reasons and motivations, even if some were selfish or not quite clear in this first of a series, and that made them all intriguing to follow, trying to guess their next move. They truly made a story where it was difficult to discern what was going to happen next, and who might survive, while the fact that our protagonist had no name pulled me even further into the story; as if I were fighting to survive instead.

All in all, Children of Icarus is a wonderful book. I recommend it to any fans of YA dystopia and award it a well deserved five stars!

Thanks for reading!