Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Hidden Gem Books In The Fantasy Genre

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish, here, inviting bloggers and readers to list their top ten for a certain category

Today my Top Ten Tuesday is the 10 Hidden Gems, in my opinion, of the fantasy genre. I hope you enjoy!

1) Magus of Stonewylde by Kit Berry
2) A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
3) The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
4) The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
5)Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond (I'm classing it as fantasy because of the superhero aspects)
6)Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima
7)Eon by Alison Goodman
8) Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
9) A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab
10) Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

I hope you enjoyed my Top Ten Tuesday this week! As always feel free to leave a comment below or @me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Monday, 28 August 2017

Cover Spotlight Monday: The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

Hi everyone! Today I've decided to spotlight one of my all time favourite series' because they just have the most gorgeous covers. It's of course The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare.

I adore these covers for many reasons but the main one is the fact that the three main characters are featured on the covers. Book one features Will, book two my beloved Jem, and book three Tessa. I love this specifically because it helps me to imagine the characters as I read, and also provides life to the covers rather than them just featuring scenery or objects.

Moreover I love how the titles seem to reflect each character pictured Angel; Will, for how he saved Tessa. Prince; Jem, for how he showed Tessa true love and kindness. Princess: Tessa, for the happiness she gave to Jem. It just makes them even more beautiful in my opinion.

Finally I love the backgrounds behind the characters, which really reflect the Victorian London period that the books are set in, and give the readers a real feel for the books, allowing them to picture every scene.

Really, I think these covers are simply stunning.

What do you think? As always do feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter, and thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Spotlight Sunday: Diversity Recs - Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Hello everyone! Today I have another Diversity Recs for you and this time it's one of my favourite reads of 2017! I'm of course talking about the wonderful Wing Jones by Katherine Webber.

For fans of David Levithan, Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell: a sweeping story about love and family from an exceptional new voice in YA. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

Wing Jones is a wonderful, inspiring tale about tragedy, love and ambition. It's a tale that makes you want to get up and go; to pursue those dreams you've always thought about but never actioned. It's also just a lovely, fun read to sit and enjoy on a relaxing Saturday afternoon. But more importantly it's amazingly diverse.

Wing is bi-racial, with one grandmother from China and one from Ghana. Her heritage colours the story so wonderfully, educational for those like myself who wouldn't know otherwise. Her grandmothers are each such unique, often hilarious, people who bring such a vibrancy to the story, even in some of its darker chapters.

What's so much more important though is simply the representation itself.

In YA there is such a vast range of genres, sub-genres, plots and cliches, but one thing that always seems a struggle to find - for myself and others I have spoken to - is diversity in everything from sexuality to race and culture. It does seem we're starting to see more of an influx in diverse YA but there's still a way to go; part of the reason why I wanted to create this series in order to highlight these often amazing stories that could go missed by those who need them. Wing Jones hosts a whole diverse cast, and it was so wonderful to read about them, but that cast could be so so important for any reader who may have before struggled to see themselves in what they were reading.

So I really do urge you all to read this wonderful story, even more so if it speaks to you personally. I'm pretty sure you won't regret it.

Do you have any thoughts about Wing Jones, or feel like sharing your own diverse rec? Feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

As always, thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Saturday Series: Love, Hate or Both? - Harry Potter

Hi guys! Just a quick post today for the next in my Love, Hate or Both series. I would have loved to make it longer but life once again prevented me from writing this prior to today, and I've been super busy. Here's hoping the long weekend will let me get ahead of the game for once!

It's no secret that I love Harry Potter. Hell I'm pretty sure everyone does. But the question is why? Why do I feel so attached to the story, the characters, the setting? It's not just a case of it being a beloved childhood book, that's for sure, and are there any parts I dislike?

I think, plain and simple, it boils down to family. JK wrote a story that, at its core, is about family. The family we have but also the family we make and I think that's a pretty universal concept. But moreover she's created a family within her fans. We can quite easily strike up conversation with someone else when it comes to Harry Potter.

What's your house?
Who's your favourite character?
Which book did you like best?

It's a phenomenon that has brought people together, that brings joy and wonder to all ages, and I think that's a wonderful thing indeed.

As for what I don't like, well... I wasn't too keen on certain characters' endings, but mostly I just get annoyed at not being able to find any Ravenclaw merchandise. Haha!

What do you love about HP? What's your house? Do feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the post!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Wish I'd Read In High School

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish, here, inviting bloggers and readers to list their top ten for a certain category. 

Hi everyone! For the Top Ten Tuesday topic today we were asked to choose something on a 'back to school' related topic, so I've chosen the books I wish I'd read in High School. These books weren't published when I was in High School but I feel that if they were I would have been a lot more interested in reading and felt a lot less alone. Enjoy!

1) The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury.

Did you expect anything else? If I'd read Mel's books all those years ago my YA addiction certainly would have spawned sooner haha.

2) Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kath Ormsbee.

The sexuality rep is amazing and much needed for those who struggle(d) with their identity.

3) Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima.

Another wonderful fantasy that would have had me reading sooner.

4) Harry Potter by JK Rowling


5) Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt.

To prove being geeky and loving comic con isn't 'weird'.

6) Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo.

More kick-ass fantasy.

7) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

As above.

8) Les Miserables - Victor Hugo.

So that I could have loved the story but also musicals earlier.

9) House of Windows by Alexia Casale.

Again to prove I am not alone.

10) Never Evers by Ivision and Ellis.

Just to get me through those hard days.

I hope you've enjoyed my TTT! Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your own link below if you have one, or @ me on Twitter, so I can take a look at your own TTT!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Monday, 21 August 2017

Cover Spotlight Monday: There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins.

Hello! Today's cover spotlight features one of my most anticipated releases of this year, a book that I luckily managed to get an ARC of at YALC and am so far really enjoying, and that book is There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. I absolutely loved Anna and the French Kiss and have been desperate to read this book since I heard about it.

Scream meets YA in this hotly-anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss.

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.

I've never been a big fan of horror films to be honest, but one genre I do love is the Mystery-Thriller, so a horror where you spend the entire film trying to work out who the killer is. Usually they're quite cheesy, but I'm talking Cry Wolf and My Bloody Valentine for example, which I adored. This book seems to me to be that genre but in novel form, and therefore it sounds amazing. The cover was revealed a few weeks back and so, while it's still fairly new, I really wanted to spotlight it in this series.

One thing that I really love about it is how simple it is. There's no over the top design, fancy lettering or special effects like gilded lettering. It's striking in its simplicity, the luminous pink colouring alone enough to draw the audience over. But what I love more about it is how creepy it is in spite of its simplicity also. It quite quickly reminded me of the scenes in horror films where the characters decide to explore an unlit house/room or are woken in the night, and conveniently don't turn the light on; they just use a flashlight instead, allowing any potential killer to hide in the dark. It's cliche, and silly, in the films, we shout at the TV for them to turn the light on, but at the same time it's so effective in heightening emotions and increasing our adrenaline and fear. That's exactly what this cover does. It freaks me out before I've even turned the first page, wondering what could be hiding in the dark, while the pink fluorescent lettering with it, though not red, gives the impression of blood. It's honestly just creepy, and that's why I love it so much.

What are your thoughts on the cover?

As always thanks for reading. I do hope you enjoyed the post. Feel free to leave a comment below or you can always @ me on Twitter!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Monday, 14 August 2017

Cover Spotlight Monday: The Fandom by Anna Day

Hi everyone! I'm back with a brand new cover spotlight and I do hope you're all as excited about this book as I am. Today I'm looking at the brand new cover, only revealed just last week, for Anna Day's The Fandom, due January 2018.

Cosplay ready, Violet and her friends are at Comic-Con.

They can’t wait to meet the fandom of mega movie, The Gallows Dance. What they’re not expecting is to be catapulted by freak accident into their favourite world – for real. Fuelled by love, guilt and fear, can the friends put the plot back on track and get out? The fate of the story is in their hands ...

A fast-paced, genre-flipping YA fantasy adventure from a brand new author, writing in homage to the best YA fiction.

I've been lucky enough to receive a proof copy of this book from the lovely Jazz Bartlett at Chicken House Books and am currently part way through. I absolutely adore it so far and was completely excited to see the cover finally revealed last week.

Isn't it beautiful? I can't analyse it in depth really as I normally do, being that I haven't finished the story, but I still want to spotlight it nonetheless. I think the thorns do give it a fantasy vibe, with feeling akin to sleeping beauty (the needle) or Russian folktales, but whilst also emphasising a real danger to the characters; for how useful would we actually be if we got transported into one of our favourite worlds, in truth? The tagline 'No story is worth dying for' really does emphasise that danger also, and makes the reader wonder what type of story the characters have gotten themselves into and what consequences it may have on them. Really I think the cover just does a good justice of making the reader curious about the story, enticing them to preorder, drumming up buzz, and of course persuading them to delve straight in come release day. It is simply gorgeous.

What are your thoughts on The Fandom's cover? As always do feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter, and thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Spotlight Sunday: Diversity Recs - Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Hi everyone! I'm back with recommendation number 2 in my Spotlight Sunday: Diversity Recs series and this time it's all about Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde!

When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.
Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.
Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

I absolutely loved this book for so many reasons. The story itself is just so wonderful, especially for someone who very much classes herself as a geek and loves attending comic conventions, but what I really adored was the amazing representation included within.

Charlie is one of our two main characters; out-going, loud, bubbly. She's a Vlogger who's broken into the acting ranks with a home-based (Australia) movie that's made it quite big and brought her to one of the world's biggest comic conventions. There she's all too happy to promote the sequel, until her ex-boyfriend appears. However, things start to look up when long-time crush Alyssa Huntington - another Vlogger - appears. Charlie's bisexual, and her suddenly blooming relationship with Alyssa brings a lot of issues to bear, both regarding her career and not, but what I really loved was how the author didn't shy away from the issues but instead brought them to the light. She discusses and addresses not just the sexuality itself but bi-erasure and homophobia. The issues Charlie and Alyssa face are real, powerful, and passionate, and as a reader who identifies as bisexual I found it hugely welcoming and beautiful.

Taylor meanwhile is the binary opposite of Charlie. Where Charlie lives for the light, Taylor is happiest following her lead. She loves her friends, loves being around them, but she's perfectly happy for them to take the attention. It's in these aspects that I saw a lot of myself in Taylor. She suffers from severe anxiety which makes a lot of things - especially attending the comic convention - very hard for her, and I could 100% understand every emotion she went through. More importantly though Taylor has Aspergers, which is a representation that seems to be rarely found in YA, even today. Though I did not personally understand everything Taylor went through in regards to her Autism, I empathised with her struggle, and found the book to be very informative. 

To finish, I also loved the anti-body-shaming messages the story portrays, again with regards to Taylor's storyline. Throughout her entire story which yes does include romance, she never once feels the need to change or adapt herself of her lifestyle, and that is such a wonderful message to portray. Taylor is perfect just the way she is, knows that herself, and it's a message we should all take to heart.

Overall I think this story really is just promoting love and kindness, self-belief and compassion, in all ways, shapes and forms. It's a truly uplifting and inspiring tale, as well as just being fun to read, and one that I really do recommend.

As always, thanks for reading, and I do hope you enjoyed this week's representation. Don't forget to tune in August 27th when another rec will be revealed, and feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Theatre Review: Les Miserables at The Queen's Theatre.

During my attendance to YALC two weeks ago I also attended The Queen's Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, London, to watch an amazing performance of Les Miserables. The Principal Cast on Friday 28th July were as follows;

Jean Valjean - Killian Donnelly
Javert - Hayden Tee
Fantine - Carley Stenson
M. Thernadier - Steven Meo
Mdm. Thernadier - Jacqueline Tate
Cosette - Charlotte Kennedy
Marius - Paul Wilkins
Eponine - Karis Jack
Enjolras - Hyoie O'Grady

Having watched the show for the first time in 2012, and owning both the 10th and 25th Anniversary DVDs, I knew I was in for a treat, but wow, I did not expect the almost 3 hour show to be as incredible as it was.

If you've seen the show, the movie, or read the book, you'll know first hand how powerful the story is. Valjean's journey to redemption against Javert's journey to conscience is a beautiful tale, where the characters both mirror and oppose each other. I simply adore it, and it never fails to make me cry.

One of the most powerful elements of the show however is the music. Heart wrenching ballads, intense ensemble pieces, and tearjerking instrumental pieces tell a story in themselves. As a big fan of the show and a lot of the numbers themselves, I always want to sing along and yet on July 28th I was so drawn to every actors' voice I could barely utter a word. Every member of the cast, be it principal or ensemble, were amazing, but two in particular really struck a chord with me.

I am a known fan of the character Enjolras, but Hyoie O'Grady's performance was incredible. Not only did he look the part, his voice rang out in clear clarity across the theatre, exuding the power of the character's poetic words in such songs as 'Red and Black', and during the intense barricade scenes. He was a joy to witness, his final scene drawing tears from my eyes. Being that Les Miserables is the actor's professional debut I cannot wait to see what the next few years bring for him.

Killian Donnelly meanwhile was a most impressive Jean Valjean. His acting was in my opinion completely flawless, drawing the audience in intently to the character, but it too was his voice which moved me. Listening to him sing I heard vibes of Colm Wilkinson, especially during 'Bring Him Home'; another moment that drew tears.

Of course, what makes Les Mis so incredible, at least in part, is the staging. A full size turntable is in use during many scenes which really helps to pull the audience into the story, and to incite sadness, especially during a certain barricade scene (If you know, you know).

But one of the most incredible parts of the evening was during the finale. As the final scene drew to a close and the bow began, the audience leapt to their feet; a standing ovation, and one well deserved. It was an absolutely incredible experience and one that I'll never forget.

In the two weeks since I haven't been able to get the night out of my head, and I honestly cannot wait until I can see this cast again (Now in just a few weeks time!).

I hope you enjoyed my review, and thanks for reading. As always do feel free to leave a comment below, or @ me on Twitter!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Saturday Series: Love, Hate, or Both? - Enjolras or Marius

Hello everyone! With YALC having drawn to a close it was time for me to decide on a new Saturday Series. Having ran a small poll on Twitter a few days ago for Les Mis fans as to who was preferred - Enjolras or Marius - this idea was born. In 'Love, Hate, or Both?' I will be discussing characters and series', and my feelings towards them. In the first, as this was how the series came to be, Enjolras and Marius. Spoilers for Les Miserables ahead.

Ramin Karimloo as Enjolras.
Nick Jonas as Marius.
Les Miserables 25th Anniversary at the O2 Arena.
I know the story of Les Mis like the back of my hand, but Marius has always annoyed me. Though I can understand Cosette's 'insta-love' due to her lonely childhood and the fact that Marius was probably the first boy to show any interest in her, I cannot understand Marius' reasoning. Later in the show, during the song 'Drink with Me', the Barricade Boys (Minus Enjolras of course - his only mistress is 'Patria') lament over the women they've loved, so surely Marius was not as isolated as Cosette had been. Yes Grantaire states 'Is Marius in love at last?' during 'Red and Black', but that doesn't mean he's never had a relationship before, and yet suddenly upon meeting Cosette for all of a second, he is ready to give up his commitment to the revolution. It just doesn't strike right with me.

We get a good understanding of and insight to Marius' relationships with his friends and comrades during 'Empty Chairs and Empty Tables', how the loss has left him grief stricken, and yet he shows up late to the Les Amis de l'ABC meeting during 'Red and Black' and shows little commitment to or agreement with the revolution and the statements Enjolras makes. Perhaps Enjolras is a little harsh in response ('Who cares about your lonely soul? ... Our little lives don't count at all') but he is right to a degree in the fact that they have been planning the revolution for a great deal of time before Cosette appeared, and yet Marius accuses him of not understanding his plight ('Had you been there tonight you might know how it feels...'). I know that Marius does later commit to the revolution during One Day More ('My place is here, I fight with you') but it's only shortly after, at the Barricade, that he is still lamenting over Cosette, whom he has only spoken to once since. It's my opinion, of course, but it's simply a little too insta-love for my liking, and probably the only part of the musical I don't 100% enjoy.

Enjolras meanwhile is more severe, yes, but his unwavering commitment - even in the face of death - is what I love so much about him. He's rich, beautiful, and yet all he cares about is the welfare of others. His determination to stand up to those opposing equality and rights, to fight to the death for freedom and peace for all, is something to be admired. So maybe he doesn't understand Marius' plight, but he understands the worse plight of many others to much more of a degree, so how can he be faulted for that? Even when faced with certain defeat and therefore death, when given one last chance to flee ('You have no chance, no chance at all. Why throw your lives away?'), he stands tall against the oppressors and gives everything he has left ('Let us die facing our foes, make them bleed while we can'). He knows they have failed but hopes others will see what they have managed to achieve and build on it; that one day his country will be free, even if not by his hand ('Let others rise, to take our place, until the earth is free!'). His death scene, how it is portrayed with him still clutching the revolutionary flag, never fails to bring tears to my eyes. He is certainly a character to look up to.

What do you think?

I do hope you enjoyed my first in the 'Love, Hate or Both?' series. Do feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter! Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Saturday Series - YALC Wrap Up - Day 3

Hey guys! Welcome to my final wrap up for YALC day three! I hope you enjoy it!

Day three was a much calmer, slower day than the previous two. I had no reason to go to LFCC (and was very glad of that!) and ended up sleeping in I was so exhausted! Still, it was an amazing day as I've recapped here.

By the time I finally got to YALC around 10:30 I had to go straight to Chris Russell's signing queue. It was a little long for my tired feet, but very much worth it. Chris was lovely - he's a Yuki fan too! - and I also managed to snag a copy of Blackbirds from the Harper booth while I was waiting (Well I had to dash from the queue but I was at the end anyway, so ;) ).

I quickly moved from there to Anna Day's queue, which was mad busy as Chicken House had been giving away loads of proofs, but I have already started Anna's wonderful book so it was more than worth it. I'm so so happy I got to meet her, and I saw Jazz again too.

I then met back up with the lovely Kat and together we got proofs of The Treatment by C. L. Taylor which were signed by the wonderful author, again from the Harper booth. Afterwards I went to the GeekyClean booth which I'd been eyeing all weekend and bought Unicorn Kisses lip balm, Sun Summoner lip balm, and Magical Girl perfume oil. They smell divine!

I then had one final whizz around the booths, where I bought some more wonderful books and got a lot more swag (Watch out for a potential giveaway once I've sorted through!). I also managed to snag a proof of The Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles which sounds so amazing. Here's what I got overall;

I really hope you enjoyed my day three wrap up. Check out days one here and day two here!

Thanks for reading, and as always do feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Saturday Series - YALC Wrap Up - Day 2

Hey guys! Welcome to my wrap up of YALC day two! I hope you enjoy it!

The morning started early once more, this time queuing in the hot sun. We were in fairly quickly though once it hit 9, and once again I was off around the stalls in search of more swag and books. I was trying to keep Saturday fairly light as I had four photo ops at LFCC but who can resist when the stalls are there, eh? I quite quickly managed to get a proof of The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart from Penguin, as well as two ACBYA titles from the freebie table; Odd and True, and Lumberjanes.

As soon as 10pm hit however I was off downstairs for a photo op with the amazing Richard Dean Anderson. A dream come true, honestly. Then it was back up to YALC for signings. I met the lovely Alice Broadway, author of Ink which I adored, who was amazing, and I also got to have a lovely long conversation with Gemma Fowler, author of Moondust. I'd thought I'd missed her signing so it was super lovely that she took time out of her day to talk to me. She is wonderful. I actually got the chance to hold a Q&A with her about Moondust earlier in the year, so it was lovely to actually meet her. You can see the Q&A here if you like.

With some time to spare I headed off around the stalls again for a little more swag, and managed to get another proof from Penguin, this time The Hazel Wood which sounds amazing. I also quickly got VQ tickets for Victoria Schwab and Laini Taylor, and got a second Laini ticket for Daphne (@WingedReviews) who was down on the YALC floor. I met up with her as well as Kat (@Kat_thebooknerd) for a short while, which was so lovely, whilst waiting to go for my rescheduled Chris Judge photo.

Chris Judge himself was so lovely to meet, but more importantly just before that I got to meet the wonderful Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of The Girl of Ink and Stars. She was so lovely, and recognised me from my blog, and I'm so glad I got to meet her as I missed her last year. While at the Chicken House stall I also got to meet the wonderful publicist Jazz Bartlett, who actually introduced me to both Kiran and Gemma's books, which was amazing!

My ADSOM t-shirt
Then it was time to meet Laini Taylor and oh wow, was I nervous, but she was so incredibly lovely! I also got to meet Victoria Schwab again, who confirmed ADSOM is now going to be a movie, which is awesome.

Last but not least I went back to LFCC for photos with Edge and Christian, who are childhood heroes. However, the organisation was an absolute mess, so I ended up exhausted and panicky afterwards which meant I had to leave and miss Non Pratt's head shave. Only when I got back to the hotel did I realise Benedict Cumberbatch had made an appearance, so I was especially sad about this, but I still had an awesome day! Here's what I managed to get;

I really hope you enjoyed my day two wrap up. Check out day one here and day three here!

Thanks for reading, and as always do feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Saturday Series - YALC Wrap Up - Day 1

As you all know, last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) in London. It was a wonderful, but exhausting (Hence why this post is a little late haha) weekend that I thoroughly enjoyed, and now I present to you my wrap up of each Bookerific-Day!

I arrived early to the convention where many other YA fans were already queuing and quickly met the lovely Cora (@Corazzz). I was more shy than I originally planned to be being I was very nervous about the first day and a bit tired from travel, but she was so lovely and it was wonderful to meet her.

When the doors finally opened and we were allowed in I quickly made my way up to the YALC floor and queued for my complimentary tote bag (With the weekend ticket). It was full of lovely bookish goodies, specifically exclusive samplers which I can't wait to read. I then had a quick zoom around the book floor for the exclusive goodies on offer, and was able to pick up two awesome ARCs - There's Someone In Your House by Stephanie Perkins, and Moonrise by Sarah Crossan. I'm super excited to read them both.

The first item on my agenda was Melinda Salisbury's talk with Tom Ellen, Lucy Ivision, Katherine Corr and Elizabeth Corr, which was awesome. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love anything Mel does (It's not even a secret really, ha). I had to leave part way through unfortunately to try and pick up another copy of Someone for Chelley Toy, and to go to my photo in LFCC with Chris Judge, but what I did catch was a wonderful insight into the process of collaboration.

Unfortunately my photo with Chris Judge had been cancelled as the actor wasn't well, which kind of threw me off my game a little. Had I had more thought I should have ran back upstairs to Mel's second panel, but as it was it put my schedule out of whack - so to speak - so I ended up walking aimlessly around LFCC to see what was on offer.

When I finally made it back to the YALC floor it was time for signings! YAY! I met the wonderful Laura Lam and Elizabeth May who were so lovely, and got to speak to Taran Matharu again, who gave me some lovely advice on my own writing (Which I have already been putting into practice!). In between signings I also had another wander around the stalls, picking up some more swag and a few wonderful books that were on sale early from Harper Collins, which were Editing Emma and Daughter of the Burning City, along with a copy of Soldier by Julie Kagawa as it was 3 for £10.

Before I knew it, it was time to see Mel once again, and to also meet Alwyn Hamilton. I'll be honest that I haven't read Rebel of the Sands yet but I'm super excited to, and Alwyn was so amazingly lovely. As always Mel was a gem and gave me a big hug (I may have brought her dinosaur stickers). She also told me the best news regarding the ending of The Scarecrow Queen. I won't say what here, but I mentioned it in a post here with a little ficlet, if you want to take a look. I got samplers of SorrowBook and Floored signed by her, while Floored was also signed by the lovely Sara Barnard who was with Mel.

All day I had been checking my phone for giveaways/competitions (As you do at YALC) and had been so far unlucky, but come the middle of the afternoon, everything changed. Seeing Usborne's giveaway for the awesome sounding The Extinction Trials (Jan 2018) I raced over to their stand, only to see many other people had beaten me to the punch. Luckily, upon seeing how many people had turned up before the password (You had to shout it) had even gone up, one of the staff decided to change the competition to 'first four to like the tweet'. My speedy fingers did not fail me, and I managed to grab an ARC. I'm so so excited to get stuck in.

I was leaving early that first day as we had tickets to the wonderful Les Mis. The show was awesome, I will say that, but I'll have a full review up soon. Before I left however I got two books from the Waterstones shop; Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivision as I missed their signing earlier, and Becoming Betty by Eleanor Wood. I can't wait to read them too!

So, overall, here's what I picked up on day one!

I really hope you enjoyed my day one wrap up. Check out day two here!

Thanks for reading, and as always do feel free to leave a comment below or @ me on Twitter!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

A Ficlet: The Happy Ending.

Hello everyone! So, those of you who know me - or have at least seen my tweets - know I'm a huge huge fan of Melinda Salisbury's The Sin Eater's Daughter trilogy. You may know that I also ship Merek and Twylla from this series very much. Major spoilers below!

This past weekend I was lucky enough to be able to attend YALC - the Young Adult Literature Convention - and met up with Mel once more. In my rambles about how much I loved the final book, The Scarecrow Queen, Mel revealed to me that the two characters do end up together in the end, maybe ten years or so from the book's close. So, with this in mind as I was caught in a post YALC slump yesterday, this little scene came to mind and I thought I'd share it with you all. It's very short but I hope you all like it.

The Happy Ending

"Do you, Merek Belmis, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, and promise to stand at her side in the ruling of Auremere?"
He squeezed her hand. She was radiant. A pure white dress inlaid with thousands of strands of green, blue and gold fit snug to her frame; a shimmering crystal sea. In place of any veil was her simple yet equally elegant crown. Her eyes sparkled with delight as they met his own, and his heart almost burst with joy.
He'd been in love with her since the day he laid eyes on her.
"I do."
"And do you, Queen Twylla Morvern of Auremere, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, and to have him by your ruling side?"
She squeezed back.
"I do."
"Then by the power vested in me by the kingdom of Auremere, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss."
In that second he swept her into his arms, kissing her as if his life depended on it. He knew it now probably did.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the court, I present to you Queen Twylla Morvern and Prince Merek Belmis."
The cheers were a boom of joy throughout the chapel.
"May Daunen watch over you both."

As she stepped first into the awaiting carriage, she turned and smiled at him. "I never imagined it like this."
He raised an eyebrow as he stepped in behind her. "You imagined it?"
She blushed furiously, looking to the window. "Well, you... We were."
"I'm joking love."
She sighed lightly, though still smiling, and leant into him as the door shut beside them. "Everything with Leif and then you were... You were dead. And then you weren't, and I... How could I have imagined this?"
"Psychic powers?" His smirk sent her heart beating wildly.
"And you were King."
"Now you're Queen."
She grinned. "Yes I am."
"But you're happy? Even if you didn't imagine it like this?"  He pressed a kiss to her temple, and her lids fluttered shut.
"Couldn't be happier."
"I love you, my Queen."
"I love you too, my Prince consort."
His laughter was like music on the air.

As always do feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below or @ me on Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Holly @The_Arts_Shelf.