YALC 2022 Recap (Day Two)

This year was a strange year on a myriad of fronts, as for the first time, Hannah and I had also booked to go on non-consecutive days, the Friday and the Sunday as those were the days with the authors we most wanted to see (well Hannah wanted to see some authors on the Sunday, I was pretty much set with Derek Landy and Neal Shusterman on the Friday). Initially, I wasn’t sure if I was going to come back on the Sunday when I found out Hannah couldn’t make it, but after meeting Heather on the Friday, and seeing that there were some events in the Agent’s Arena that I wanted to go to, I decided that I would go back after all. I was actually quite grateful for the chance to rest my feet on the Saturday as when we do back-to-back days, I obviously don’t get that!

I headed out a little earlier on the Sunday morning as the event was due to start earlier, so I set off just before 10 and as with Friday, there was already a train at Clapham Junction when I arrived, so I just had to hop on. I have to say, I am very grateful for the direct Overground link between Clapham Junction and Olympia as it makes travelling to YALC so much less stressful.

I was quite surprised when I arrived to see quite a large queue there, as I had timed it so I would arrive after the event had started in the hopes of avoiding the queue. I definitely hope they go back to having separate entrances for YALC and LFCC next year because that was one of the main benefits of having a YALC specific ticket, and it was just a bit chaotic having everyone in together. Anyway, I knew I wanted to get food, so I made a quick pop across the street to the Tesco Express to grab another meal deal. It was clear the YALC/Comic-Con crowd had already invaded, as they were almost clean out of water, but thankfully there was one large bottle left. Then I headed back and joined the queue.

Thankfully, it was actually fairly fast moving even though it looked long and it was only about 10-15 minutes I was actually waiting in the queue before I got through the bag check, had my ticket scanned and hand stamped, and headed upstairs.

My first stop on Sunday was the BKMRK stand as I had seen that they were doing a proof giveaway for Ruta Sepetys’ I Must Betray You, which I had missed on Friday. Sadly, I missed it again, their post on Twitter had said it was going on throughout the morning but the proof must have been claimed pretty quickly! However, my stop there was not a total loss, as they had Collectors Editions of Crooked Kingdom out, which I was very excited to see, as I had not seen them there on Friday. I picked up one of those for my collection, and it came with this gorgeous little metallic Grishaverse bookmark to celebrate Shadow and Bone’s 10-year publication anniversary, which was lovely.

I then proceeded to once again wander round the stalls, as both the agent events that I wanted to do were in the afternoon, so I had a little time to kill before then. I wanted to find the VQ stand to see if I could get a ticket for Jacqueline Wilson’s signing as I would have loved to have met her, but from checking Twitter, it appeared they had all gone, so that seemed like a lost cause. I actually managed to get a proper look at the Harper Collins stall as it wasn’t quite as packed as it was on Friday, although there still wasn’t anything there I wanted to buy. Unusually for me this year, the three publishers that are usually sure-fire hits that I end up buying a lot from at YALC, Harper Collins, Hodder & Stoughton and Bloomsbury didn’t have anything I wanted this year.

I had a little nose around Waterstones, and I did spy one book that I’d seen on Friday that I thought was quite interesting, The Secrets Act by Alison Weatherby, but I noticed that the publisher was at YALC, so I decided to go to their stand and see if they were selling it there as I thought I might get it for cheaper. Sadly, it was only being sold at Waterstones, but I decided I wanted it enough to pay the regular price and headed back to the Waterstones stand to get it. The plus side to this was that it meant I filled up my Waterstones stamp card, so I now have a £10 balance to spend on a book of my choosing (which I will probably save up to contribute towards the next hardcover I want as this is what I always do!)

I felt like I stuck my foot in it slightly at the HarperVoyager stand, as a girl who was looking at the books there was looking at the Nevernight series and asking about the order of the books. The woman working at the stand wasn’t sure off the top of her head, but I knew, and I mentioned that Nevernight was the first book. That was fine, she seemed quite relieved I’d helped out, but then the girl asked me how I found it and I couldn’t lie….so I said I didn’t finish it, which was awkward! I did however, really talk up the Daevabad trilogy to her, so I hope that slightly redeemed my putting her off the Nevernight series. The woman at the stall was really lovely though, I asked her to tell me about Threadneedle, a book I’d seen at the Waterstones stand that I thought sounded really cool as it was published by HarperVoyager, and when she explained it was about (witches in modern day London), it definitely sounded up my street, so I ended up going back to Waterstones to pick up a copy. This made me feel much better about putting off that girl from buying Nevernight!

I spent a little while longer wandering around the stands, and I stopped at the Agents Arena to sign up for the 1-2-1 pitching sessions with an agent, as I felt like working on my pitching skills was not a bad idea, and I’d enjoyed doing it the last time I did it at YALC. I also stopped by Hannah’s (KingdomBooks) stall again just to see how things were going for her!

By this point, my feet were getting a little sore, and it was after 12 and I was hungry, so I scoured the chill out zone for an empty space and sat down to eat my lunch. There weren’t as many options I liked available when I got to the Tesco Express that morning, so I ended up with a Ham and Cheese sub, more fruit and water and the Ham and Cheese sub was a little overstuffed with mayo!

Following lunch, I decide to look around and see if I could find Heather, who I’d met on Friday as I knew she’d planned to be there for the whole weekend and I managed to find her, Malin and a girl called Andie browsing around one of the stalls. We headed off in search of food (for them, obviously I had already eaten) and they mentioned that they’d missed out on getting their books signed by Brigid Kemmerer as her line had been too long. I mentioned that I’d seen her signing at Waterstones earlier (sometimes authors do unofficial signings at Waterstones as well as their officially planned ones, the first year I met VE Schwab, I didn’t go to an officially planned signing, Hannah and I just came across her in Waterstones and I asked if she could sign my books!) so we headed back over to the Waterstones stall and luckily, she was still there signing. Heather and Malin were very lucky as they were the last couple of people to be able to get their books signed before Brigid and her team headed off for lunch! It was also quite fun watching Malin frantically scramble in her bag to find her books to get signed, there’s nothing that makes a bookworm move with more urgency than wanting to get their books signed by a favourite author.

By this point, it was getting fairly close to the time that I’d signed up to pitch to an agent in the 1-2-1’s in the Agent’s Arena so I left Heather and the others browsing and headed back over there. The agent I pitched my book to, Julie Gourinchas was really lovely, despite my being incredibly nervous and I think a little difficult to hear behind my mask! She gave me some really good advice about leading with my character’s emotional arc when I pitched rather than the world building which I had done initially, and that I should definitely watch Avatar: The Last Airbender as it sounded like a good comp title for my book given what I’d told her it was about (the similarities were completely accidental, I didn’t initially set out to write something similar to ATLA). I definitely still need to work on my pitch a lot, but I felt better for having done it as I think I have some useful things to improve for next time.

After the 1-2-1, I didn’t have too long to go before the How To Get A Job In Publishing Talk, which I had found out earlier in the day was due to start at 2pm rather than the 3pm time given on the schedule. I did have a quick scan around the floor for Heather and Malin, but as I really didn’t have much time to go before the talk, I ended up just heading straight back to the Agents Arena and taking a seat in there. It was nice to finally have a chance to sit down for a bit after all the walking around I’d done in the two days I’d been there! There were some nice American girls sitting next to me, and I heard them talking about S.A. Chakraborty, so I ended up chatting to them about the Daevabad trilogy, and recommending that they get The City of Brass.

We didn’t have to wait too long for Eleanor, Natalie, Stephen and Demet to come in and the talk to start. Eleanor, who was hosting the panel, introduced the panellists and then for the next hour we got to hear about their various roles in publishing and they gave advice about applying for jobs, ways to get into the industry and skills that would be useful to have. It was a really interesting talk; they were all really engaging speakers and it was clear how passionate they all are about what they do. It was especially interesting to hear Natalie and Demet talk as sales and production are two areas of publishing that I don’t know a huge amount about. I definitely felt like I had more knowledge by the end of the talk, and that I will be able to use what I’ve learned to hopefully make my next publishing applications stand out more.

After the talk they opened up the floor for questions, but I always feel a little uncomfortable asking questions in front of groups, so I spoke with Eleanor briefly after the talk was finished to ask a few questions about her work in marketing and publicity, just to find out a little bit more about her day-to -day work and what kinds of things would make an application for a marketing and publicity role stand out. Listening to her talk about her job definitely confirmed for me that this kind of role would be something I’d enjoy although I don’t think I’m quite artistic enough to design my CV to look like a book page as she mentioned someone else doing!

When that talk was finished, I was largely done for the day, the agents’ arena events were mainly what I’d come to YALC on the Sunday for so I decided to see if I could find Heather and hang out with her for the rest of the day. I wandered around, but I couldn’t find her anywhere, so I sent her a message to find out where she was, but before she replied, I managed to find her in the huge Alice Oseman queue. We decided to meet up when she was done, so whilst I waited, I browsed around the stalls some more, even though there wasn’t really anything left I wanted to buy, as there wasn’t much else to do.

After Heather was done in the signing queue, we met up with Malin and Andie and went around for a last scour of the stalls before we left, though that was really mostly Malin and Andie, as Heather and I had both agreed that we were pretty well done and ready to go home at this point (though Heather did end up completing her collection of the Shatter Me series as she saw they were on offer at the Electric Monkey stand). Whilst we waited for the others, we just stood and chatted for a bit, and got a picture together.

When the others were done book shopping, and had collected some raffle prizes they had won, they were still waiting on a couple more competition winners to be announced, but Heather and I both decided that we wanted to head off so we said our goodbyes and made a beeline for the lift (as Heather had a rather heavy suitcase to carry!).

Heather was waiting for Tom to arrive, so we stood and chatted for a bit whilst we waited and then when he arrived, we all headed over to the station together (thankfully for everyone, the Olympia Overground station is just opposite the convention centre). I had to go pretty quickly as my train was about to arrive, and the others after it had been cancelled, so I said my goodbyes to Heather and Tom and headed over to the other platform where my train was coming in.

In previous years, I’ve always ended up staying quite late on my second day at YALC as we always seem to end up with an author we want to see being one of the last signings of the day and then them having a really long queue, so usually, I’m not out till 6, and then it takes me a good couple of hours to get across London and get home, but this year as I didn’t have any signings on the Sunday and I now live in London, I was out and on the train home by just after 5 and back at my house before 6, which did make a nice change!

Despite my initial misgivings about going by myself, I ended up having a really lovely weekend and made a great new friend in Heather, who I’m definitely going to stay in touch with and hopefully we’ll be able to meet up at YALC again next year. I cannot wait for Hannah to be back with me next year though, it wasn’t the same without my bookish partner-in-crime!

Me and Heather
My Sunday Book Haul

Full weekend haul, including swag

So there we go, that was YALC 2022! What do you think of my haul? Have you read any of these books? Which should I prioritise to read first (excluding the pile on the left as those are the books I brought from home to be signed and I’ve read all except Thunderhead)? Anyone else at YALC last weekend? Did you have fun? Anyone now thinking of going to YALC next year? Basically talk all things YALC to me in the comments!

YALC 2022 Recap (Day One)

Hi everyone! This is a little later than usual this year, so I do apologise for that, the first part of this week has been very busy with various different things, I had a job interview to prep for and do, I went to a local jobs fair, I’ve had other blog posts to write and an article to do for The Indie, all of which meant I just didn’t get around to sitting down and writing this till today!

Anyway, for any new readers who have started following the blog since my last trip to YALC in 2019, welcome! YALC is the Young Adult Literature Convention, created by Malorie Blackman back in 2014 when she was the Children’s Laureate, it’s the biggest convention for young adult readers and authors in the UK, and it’s basically three days of bookish heaven, with publishers having stands to sell books, panel talks with authors, book signings, industry related talks with agents and publishers and much more bookish fun.

Obviously because of the pandemic, YALC was cancelled in 2020 and 2021, so this was our first year back since 2019. Things were a little different this year, as due to construction on the Olympia building where the convention is held, our usual area had been moved and we were instead on a mezzanine above London Film and Comic Con which is held at the same time as YALC. Added to this, my friend Hannah who usually goes with me had to pull out last minute so in addition to it being a completely new area this time around, I was also going by myself for the first time since I started attending YALC back in 2015. All things combined, it’s safe to say that whilst I was excited for my first YALC back, I was also much more nervous than I usually was!

On Friday morning, for the first day at YALC, I set off a little later than I usually would, as my family has just moved back to London and as Clapham Junction is only ten minutes from Olympia via the London Overground, and I didn’t want to get there too early as I knew I’d only be standing in a horrendous queue for ages, I set off from home just after 10 am. There was a train due pretty soon after I arrived, so I just hopped on it and headed straight for Olympia. It was definitely so much less stressful than when I had to lug my stuff on the train from Cambridge like most of the previous years I’ve been!

Once I arrived, I clocked the entrance (as this had changed from previous years) and then headed straight for the Tesco Express which I’d got food from previously at YALC (we learned after the first year to never buy food in the venue as it was ridiculously overpriced). Once I’d picked up my meal deal from Tesco (including a very large bottle of water because it’s always boiling at YALC!), I headed back to join the queue, though there wasn’t much of one and it was very fast moving. As usual, I had to present my bag for searching before I went in, and once that was done, I presented my ticket to the man on the door, had my hand stamp and then I headed on up to YALC.

The first thing I did when I went in was to go to the loo, and then I made a beeline for the VQ tickets table. As with 2019, they had decided to implement ticketing for all the signing queues, so you got a ticket with a number and joined the queue when the group with your number was shown on the whiteboard. I was fairly pleased with this as it has generally worked well in previous years to avoid horrendous queues, though I will admit, not so much this year (more on that later!). I picked up tickets for Derek Landy and Neal Shusterman who were the two authors I wanted to see that day, I was surprised to find I had a fairly early number for Derek (no 16) as I had arrived about an hour after YALC started, but obviously no such luck for Neal, I ended up with no 115!

Tickets safely in the pocket of my bum bag, I headed around to the entrance and set to wandering around the stalls, as both of my signings were later on in the day. I started off at the Penguin Random House booth, and saw that they were giving away ARCs of Karen McManus’ new book, Nothing More To Tell. Hannah loves her books, and I knew she’d been bummed to miss out on seeing Karen, so I decided to enter the giveaway for her. The woman on the stall gave me a raffle ticket and offered me a flashlight, which she said if I shone it on the post it note near Karen McManus’ picture on the stall wall, I would be able to find out the time that the raffle would take place. I did so, and found that the time was 6.05, a little longer than I’d been planning to stay this year given that I was on my own, but I knew it would mean a lot to Hannah if I won, so I kept the ticket and planned to come back later on.

I then worked my way down the line of the stalls, stopping first at the Hot Key Books stand. The woman running the stall was really nice and complimented my book stack earrings (which was a running theme throughout the weekend, I will definitely have to wear them again next year). She recommended Raybearer by Jordan Ifeuko to me which I’d seen several times in Waterstones and been attracted by the pretty cover, so I ended up buying that, plus another book for Hannah which I won’t reveal here in case she reads this!

I got a couple of books from the Del Rey stand, after spying The House of Sorrowing Stars by Beth Cartwright and being drawn in by its super lovely cover, I asked one of the women manning the stall about it and the concept sounded really interesting. I was also really pleased to hear that the author was British because I do sometimes feel like I lack in the British fantasy author department, so I’m really excited to try it and see what I think. I also got The Conductors by Nicole Glover as it was one I remembered being intrigued by when I saw it on Netgalley a while back, it’s basically a fantastical take on the Underground Railroad of the 1860s, when slavery was coming to an end.

I then stopped by the Andersen Press stand, and the guy manning the stall asked me about what kinds of books I liked. I explained that I liked a mix of everything, but that I was very into historical and fantasy as my main genre, and that I’d really enjoyed Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls, which is a book Andersen Press published. We chatted for a bit, and he ended up recommending We Played With Fire by Catherine Barter to me, which I bought as it sounded very up my street: feminism, mediums, horror and a historical setting? All winners in my book! In a change from previous years, the large majority of stalls actually took card this year (everywhere taking card is one of the very few good things to come out of the pandemic) but this stall was still cash only. Luckily, I had anticipated needing some cash, so did have some to use on the rare stalls like this one that needed it.

I had a nice chat with the woman on the Electric Monkey stand, and was thrilled to hear that Holly Jackson had a new book coming out in December of this year, as I really enjoyed A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder and am currently making my way through the sequel. I was also super excited to see that they had copies of Kill Joy, Holly Jackson’s prequel novella to A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder, as I tried to get it for World Book Day last year but my order got cancelled, so I was finally able to pick it up and complete my set of those books. I also bought some pins from Ethereal Curiosities, a Grishaverse snow globe pin, with Os Alta on it, and an Addie La Rue themed pin.

At this point, I was getting a little tired, especially after having to wade through the crowds of people at the Harper Collins stand and not actually finding anything I wanted to buy there for my effort! It was also getting close to lunchtime at this point, so I decided to head off to find somewhere to sit and eat my lunch. Before I did though, I made a quick stop at Hannah’s stall (not usual YALC Hannah, this is our other friend Hannah who has come with us to YALC for the last couple of years), she was selling her services as a book artist this year, she does custom sprayed edges, stencilling, cover designs, all sorts of cool things and you can find her stuff on Instagram @kingdombookdesigns. She was super busy with customers, so I just stopped quickly to chat to her and her mum before heading off to eat.

Despite the three years between this event and the last one, YALC still hasn’t got any better at providing seating, so I just had to look for any open spot on the floor and sit there to eat, I had my tuna and cucumber sandwich, fruit and some free chocolates that I’d picked up on my way around the stand (I definitely did not milk the free food as much this year as I should have, although having said that, it did feel like there were less places giving away chocolate and sweets than there have been!).

After I’d finished lunch, I noticed that people were starting to queue for the Neal Shusterman signing. I had planned to do another trip round the stalls and come back later, as I had quite a late on number for the signing, but there were already quite a lot of people in the queue, it looked like more than my number, so I asked someone who was already waiting and she said that they’d not been doing the numbers and everyone had just started to form a queue, so I decided to stay in the line in case by coming back later, I ended up even further back in the queue than my number.

Whilst in the queue, I met some lovely fellow bookworms, Malin, Lucrezia and Heather and we got to chatting about books whilst we waited for our turn in the queue. This is one of the things that I love about YALC, it’s perfectly acceptable to make conversation with random strangers in signing queues because you clearly have at least one thing in common if you’re waiting for the same author to sign your books. One of the Showmasters team came down to the line to get our names whilst we waited, she had a little bit of trouble spelling Lucrezia’s name and it was quite funny to see the look of surprise on her face when I told her my name was Jo as she had clearly been expecting to have to do another one that needed spelling! It was a nice surprise that this even happened because we’d been told before the event that Neal wouldn’t be doing any dedications but we were told he’d decided to do one dedication for everyone which was very sweet considering that his line was very long and dedications take extra time!

When we got to the front, I of course manage to embarrass myself by holding up the queue as I scrambled around to get my camera sorted for a photo. Neal was really nice though, and Lucrezia took a photo of us on my phone. I love that he adds the date to his signature in his books as well, it’s really nice to have that reminder of the day! Once I’d had the books signed, and parted ways from Lucrezia and Malin, I headed off for another round of the stalls. It actually hadn’t taken anywhere near as long as I thought it would, we’d made it to the front of the queue by 3, and the signing had started at 2, so I still had a good hour before my Derek Landy signing.

I’d seen most of the stalls by this point, but I did manage to find a couple more books that I wanted to buy. The Rock The Boat stand had copies of Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley, which I had kept seeing the beautiful cover of and decided that since it was only £5 (plus it was signed), that I would actually get the paperback rather than getting the audio version as I had originally intended to. I also stopped by the Simon and Schuster stand and got a copy of When The World Was Ours by Liz Kessler. I don’t usually read much middle grade, but I find WWII stories fascinating (enjoy always seems like the wrong word for books about a war that millions of real people died in) so I decided to go for it.

Once I was done perusing the stands, I headed back over to the signing area to join Derek Landy’s queue, as it was nearing four. This one was much better organised than the Neal Shusterman queue, and as I had a fairly early number, I didn’t have to wait around too long. Derek asked if I had any questions for him, and as always when anyone asks me this, I completely blanked! It had almost two years since I’d read Seasons of War (the book I was getting signed) so I didn’t have any questions fresh in my mind about it. I just said that I was a little behind on the series so I didn’t have any immediate questions. I did ask if we could get a photo, which we did and I once again embarrassed myself by looking super awkward and not quite understanding that he wanted me to lean on the book I’d brought. But hey, it’s traditional for me to make a fool of myself in front of Derek, and since Hannah wasn’t there this year, I had to do it enough for the both of us!

I was a little bit at a loss of what to do after that, as I’d perused the stands enough by that point and there weren’t any talks or workshops that I wanted to go to. My feet were getting quite sore at that point and I honestly was considering going home, but I wanted to stay until the Karen McManus raffle was called at 6.05 to see if I’d won the ARC for Hannah. So, I found a place to sit down and as I had my iPod with me, I decided to listen to a podcast for a bit.

Very luckily for me, Heather who’d I met earlier in the Neal Shusterman signing queue, saw me sitting by myself and came over and asked if I wanted to come and sit with her and her partner, Tom. I cannot overstate how relieved I was to have someone to sit and talk to, as I’d spent most of the day by myself! Anyway, they were both really lovely and we all sat and chatted for a bit, and then Tom and I sat and chatted for a while longer whilst Heather was in the signing queue for Melinda Salisbury.

After about an hour or so, we headed off to find Heather though I will admit, it took a while before we did because there were just so many people, it was hard to make out individuals in the crush! Once she had got her books signed, we headed over to the Penguin Random House area as it was almost 6.05, and time for the raffle winners to be announced. There was quite a large crowd there waiting for the raffle, so clearly a lot of Karen McManus fans!

I was pleasantly surprised that Penguin were giving away a stack of ARCs of Nothing More To Tell rather than just the one, as it meant better odds for everyone. Obviously, a lot of people had left before the end, as they kept calling numbers and no one came forward to claim them! Eventually they managed to get someone who was there to give away the first ARC, but this kept on going throughout, I think hardly any of the ARCs went to the initial number that was called out. Sadly, I was not one of the lucky winners (sorry Hannah!). I don’t think I’ve ever actually won anything in a giveaway at YALC, Hannah won an ARC of Into The Crooked Place at our last YALC, but I’ve only ever got ARCs by being one of the first 100-150 odd in the queue for The Fandom and The Exact Opposite of Okay in 2017.

By the time the raffle finished, I was really done for the day and ready to head home. I said my goodbyes to Heather and Tom, and stopped by the Head of Zeus stand to pick up a copy of The Wolf’s Den on my way out. I’d been toying with buying it for the entire day, and now we’d reached the end of the day and I was still thinking about it, I decided to just go for it. I also made one last stop at Hannah’s (Kingdom Books Hannah) stall before I left, just to say goodbye and see how her day had gone, and we had a quick chat before I left to head home.

On a normal YALC year, when I’m not by myself Hannah (YALC Hannah) and I tend to go somewhere for dinner afterwards, but as it was just me, I just got the first train back to Clapham Junction and headed straight home. Honestly, I was pretty wiped after the exciting day of bookish fun, so I was quite glad to just come in and collapse straight onto the couch! Considering how nervous I was about going by myself though, it ended up being a really good day, especially meeting Heather and Tom, and I actually ended up leaving feeling excited about going back on Sunday rather than nervous about doing another day by myself (though obviously I cannot wait to be back with Hannah (YALC Hannah) for the weekend next year because it just wasn’t the same without her!).

Here are some pictures from Day 1 of YALC:

Me with Neal Shusterman
Me with Derek Landy

My Friday book haul

My Friday signed books
My signed copy of Challenger Deep
My signed copy of Thunderhead
My signed copy of Seasons of War (I now have signed copies of all Derek Landy’s books I think, well definitely all the Skulduggerys anyway, I think I might not have third book of the Demon Road trilogy signed, but I can rectify that next time!).

YALC 2019 Recap (Day Two)

Yesterday, Day Two of YALC got off to a very early start. We decided that we wanted to get there early because we knew Victoria Schwab’s signing queue was going to be virtual tickets and we knew that the earlier we got there, the lower number we would be able to get. Of course, the best laid plans go awry, and we had quite a lot of stuff to get together, as we were all heading home after so despite wanting to get there for nine, we didn’t actually arrive until about 9.30. Thankfully, the queue was not very long, so we got in quite quickly.

We made a beeline for the VQ tickets, and got our tickets for Victoria Schwab, and Malorie Blackman later on. Sadly, apparently everyone at YALC was a really eager beaver, and we were like 280+ in the signing queue, so we were a bit worried because when we were in the same situation with Tomi Adeyemi last year, we didn’t get our books signed, but never fear that didn’t happen this year (more on that later). Whilst we were waiting Hannah grabbed us some beautiful Shades of Magic prints that were being given away by I think FairyLoot, which you’ll get to see at the end of this post.

Once we had got our VQ tickets, we headed over to the Orion booth as we’d heard they were doing a Ninth House ARC raffle throughout the day. It wasn’t quite time yet, so we wandered around for a bit, and came back for our raffle tickets at 10.

I was scrolling through Twitter after that and I found that the lovely Charnell (of Reviews From A Bookworm) had a spare VQ ticket for Victoria Schwab with a much lower number than mine and she very kindly gave it to me, which Hannah and I were both really grateful for, as we both desperately wanted to see her, and knew the higher number you had, the more chance the queue got cut off before it got to you.

We wandered around for a bit after that as we knew we wouldn’t be right away in the Victoria Schwab queue, and I got some great stuff from Illumicrate and Fable and Black, an amazing Priory art print, a Shades of Magic enamel pin for my bag and a Shades of Magic keyring. I also got a free ACOTAR mug with my purchase which was lovely, and got entered into the raffle for Ninth House, as well as their other proofs. Hannah (author Hannah, not blogger Hannah), also bought quite a few books, and I got two new ones, Ink, Iron and Glass and Thief of Lies. Hannah (BooksLifeandOtherOddities) got the two books from HarperCollins she’d wanted to buy the day before, Gentleman’s Guide and Fawkes (she couldn’t decide between that and Romanov and I said I liked Fawkes better).

Once we were done there, it was past time for us to get into the VE Schwab queue, as I’d been longer than I thought at Illumicrate and the queue moved quite quickly! We got in though, and had the happy surprise that Victoria was personalising one book, having been told prior to YALC that she wouldn’t be doing dedications. Since we were kind of sharing the VQ ticket, so we both got through early and didn’t have to come back when the numbers were in the 200s, I got two comics signed and Hannah got her copy of Vicious dedicated, which made her day. The queue was long, so we didn’t have much time with V, but I managed to tell her that Vengeful was going to be my next read, and that I was super excited. Apparently she’s had people either really loving it or really hating it, so I told her I’d tweet her what I thought when I was done (I’m sure I will really love it, I will not be tweeting her telling her I despised it! I started it today and I’m already enjoying it).

When we’d finished in Victoria’s queue, we decided it was time for lunch, but none of us had bought any because we’d come straight in to get VQ tickets, so we headed out to the Tesco across the road to buy lunch and then got back in using our stamps. We sat by the book swap to eat, and I got a chicken and bacon sandwich, a big bag of quavers and fruit. We also had more of Hannah’s cookie dough brownies.

We had some time to kill after lunch as our next signing wasn’t until four, so we wandered around for a bit longer. I was basically done book buying, but Hannah (author Hannah) had catching up to do, and boy did she, she ended up with a massive stack of great books. I wanted to go to the Samantha Shannon signing, and Hannah (blogger Hannah) wanted to go to the FairyLoot stand for a Caraval announcement at 1, so we went our separate ways for a bit.

Samantha’s queue was quite long, but Hannah brought me a cupcake from the FairyLoot stand, which was lovely, and I was glad I waited even if I didn’t have a book to sign this year, as she signed the Priory print that I bought from Illumicrate and I got to tell her how much I enjoyed Priory. Apparently she’s working on a companion which will have many more dragons, which I was very excited to hear about! Samantha is always so lovely, and it was great to get to see her as I didn’t think we’d be able to since her official signing was on Sunday (thanks Illumicrate for organising the Saturday one)!

By the time we’d done that, it was getting close to 2pm and Hannah (author Hannah) had quite a long journey home, so she wanted to get going. We got the obligatory picture of all of us on the YALC sign, and said our goodbyes before going our separate ways. We then headed over to the Karen McManus queue, where Hannah got her copy of One of Us Is Lying signed (I just waited, as I didn’t have anything for her to sign).

After that, Hannah and I really didn’t have that much to do, so we spent a lot of time sitting and chilling. Hannah won a copy of To Best The Boys from FairyLoot for telling them how many anniversaries they’d had (I’d told her it was 3) so she was very happy about that. I was only one number away from winning the Illumicrate raffle for Kingdom of Souls, so that was annoying! We spent a lot of time checking if we had won different raffles (we hadn’t, Hannah really wanted to win a copy of Slay, but even with three numbers we didn’t get there) and just sitting and chatting.

I tried in vain to find more bats for an Into The Crooked Place arc of my own, but didn’t find any, so I’ll just be sharing Hananh’s. It wasn’t a total waste though, watching bookworms frantically scouring a very large convention centre for plastic bats in hopes of winning an ARC was pretty darn funny.

When it hit 4, we were really just waiting for Malorie Blackman’s numbers to get to ours. We were getting a little cranky because we were quite tired, and only really had that left to go, we both had very little money (and space) so there was no more book buying and there wasn’t much else we wanted to do. We took up residence on some bean bags near the stand and kept periodically going back and forth to check if our numbers were up yet.

Whilst we were waiting, we noticed that Alwyn Hamilton’s signing queue had pretty much finished and since we’ve seen her every other year that we’ve been at YALC, and she didn’t have a large queue anymore, we decided to go over and say hi and get a picture. She was so lovely, she knows us by now (we’ve seen her every year for five years, always at YALC and always together!) and seemed really happy to see us. We told her that we had photos of us over the years at YALC, which she loved and that we were super excited for her new book, The Notorious Virtues. We got a picture and she signed our Notorious Virtues Invites (which apparently might get you something cool!) and it really perked us up, because at that point we were getting a bit cranky with waiting for Malorie Blackman’s queue.

We still had to wait, I think about another 40 minutes to an hour after that before we finally got to the front of Malorie’s queue. She was so lovely though, we thanked her for setting up YALC in the first place because it’s been such a huge part of our bookworm lives over the past five years and commiserated that we missed her rapping in Klingon because we weren’t there for the first year. I also said that Noughts and Crosses was my first YA book when I was 11 and that I was super excited for Crossfire and she thanked me and said that she hoped I wasn’t too scarred from it. We joked that we were still here, so it couldn’t have been that bad. It was lovely to meet her, we probably would have got a photo, but by that point, we were quite sweaty and gross and needed to get home, so we didn’t (one day!). We definitely understood why her line was taking so long when we got there, she really loves to chat to readers (which is awesome)!

When we were done with Malorie, we made a beeline for the exit pretty sharpish, as it was about 6 o’clock by that time and we both needed to make our trains home. We picked up my bag from the cloakroom, and staggered towards the exit, laden down under the weight of all our books.

We walked back to High Street Kensington station, and got the tube. Hannah got off earlier than me as her stop was direct, I had to change at Edgware Road, and then get another train to Kings Cross. Thankfully when I got there, my train was already waiting on the platform so I didn’t have to wait very long and I got home much earlier this year, about 8.15 which was nice!

I had another amazing year at YALC, and I cannot wait to go back again next year, it’s my favourite annual bookworm tradition!


Us on the YALC sign


Meeting VE Schwab (yes we are fangirls, can you tell?)


Trying to win a copy of FairyLoot’s Finale (we didn’t, Hannah ended up buying one from Hodderscape).


My signed Malorie Blackman book


Signed comics!


Saturday signed books


Entire weekend haul

20190728_190951New addition to the VE Schwab merchandise


Weekend swag

20190728_190859Shades of Magic print

20190728_190906Shades of Magic pin

IMG_20190727_221232_525Us with Alwyn Hamilton

20190728_190845Gorgeous Priory print signed by Samantha Shannon


Hannah and I fulfilling our demigod dreams!


Meeting Samantha Shannon!

So what do you think of the books I got? Any I should desperately prioritise? Anyone else been at YALC this wekeend? Did you have fun? Who was your favourite author to meet? Let me know in the comments, I’d love for the YALC fangirling to continue a little longer!


YALC 2019 Recap (Day One)

Hi everyone! If you haven’t seen me excitedly squealing about YALC for the last month or so, that’s okay, you haven’t missed much, just the usual business of fangirling excitedly about spending the weekend with my friends and meeting loads of authors and getting books signed and generally just adding many many books to my TBR. If you’re not familiar, YALC is the Young Adult Literature Convention, created by Malorie Blackman five years ago, when she was the Children’s Laureate, it’s the biggest convention for young adult readers in the UK, and it’s absolutely brilliant.

My YALC experience this year was a little different, as I usually go down on the Friday morning, since I don’t live very far out of London but this year, as my parents were already down in London, I went down on the Thursday night. I’m not going to lie, I was quite stressed out about getting down this year since a lot of trains were cancelled due to the hot weather. I spent the entire day at work obsessively checking the trains and getting increasingly more and more stressed as I saw all my trains getting cancelled. Thankfully, I managed to get out of work slightly early and get on a train to Brighton which stopped at St Pancras, otherwise I’m not sure what I would have done!

So on the Friday morning, as I was staying in Clapham Junction with my parents, I didn’t have far to go at all to get to YALC, I just got on an Overground train to Kensington Olympia, which was only about ten minutes and that was lovely, it took a lot of the usual stress out of the morning of YALC. I was a little confused when I got there as to which queue was which, as there were two, but after going to get my food from Tesco, I was directed to the one day queue. I had seen a much longer one but it turned out that was the queue for people with three day tickets.

Whilst I was waiting, Hannah (my friend, you might know her as Books, Life and Other Oddities) arrived, and the queue actually moved quite quickly because it was very short. We had our tickets scanned, and after a quick bag search, we headed up to the YALC floor. We made a beeline for the Waterstones where I bought a copy of Malorie Blackman’s new book, Crossfire. I then realised that I couldn’t find my phone, and panicked because I had literally just had it to use our tickets to get in. We retraced our steps and eventually went back downstairs and found it with the Showmasters staff on the front desk.

After that little fiasco, we got VQ signing tickets at the table for all the signings we wanted to go to that day (they were giving out tickets for all the authors at the beginning of the day as a precaution) and then headed over to the Agents Arena for the pitching workshop. I’d want to get to YALC by 11 on Friday, specifically so I could go to that workshop, but I didn’t find it as useful as I’d hoped? Most of the advice was pretty similar to the talk from last year, and the agent spoke quite quietly so I couldn’t really hear her. Still it was good to know that I’m on the right track with my submission letters and that there’s nothing I’m doing wrong there.

We had a while after the agent’s talk, as our first signing wasn’t until two, so we wandered around the stalls for a bit. I bought a couple of books from the HarperCollins store, Sherwood for me, and a book for a friend as well. Hannah spotted a couple of HarperCollins books that she wanted too, but decided to come back later for them, as she didn’t want to carry them around all day (fair enough!). I also bought Gina Martin’s Be The Change, as that’s a book I’ve been wanting to read, I think what she did with her upskirting law is so awesome and I’m super excited to read it.

After wandering for a bit, we both decided that we were hungry and that it was time for lunch, Hannah had brought food from home and I’d got a meal deal from Tesco. Hannah had also brought Cookie Dough brownies, which were delicious. We had lunch right near the book swap and Hannah had brought some old books to swap, so she found several more from the book swap that she wanted. I didn’t have any this year, as I left most of my unwanted proofs in Scotland (and to be honest, probably could not have fit many more books in my bag!).

When we were done with lunch, we saw an announcement that Hot Key Books had hidden bats around the centre, and to win an ARC of Into The Crooked Place, Alexandra Christo’s new book, which Hannah and I were both really excited about. We don’t usually do well at these kinds of things, but Hannah spotted a bat on the YALC sign, so she won the ARC! I did try to find a second one, but sadly, I was beaten to it (we really want to know where they hid that fifth bat because we couldn’t find it anywhere!) and Hannah is going to lend me Into The Crooked Place when she’s done!

After that we honestly just milled about for a while, all the authors we wanted to see on the Friday were in the afternoon, our first signing wasn’t until 3, so we had the luxury of being able to be quite chilled about what we did. We confused a lot of people by sitting on the tables next to the workshop area, but it was quite nice to have somewhere to sit that wasn’t the floor! Hannah bought Enchantee from My Kinda Book, as I’d been telling her since January how good it was and she’d been desperate for a copy (I couldn’t lend her one, as I got it from Netgalley) and she also got the Grisha trilogy from BKMRK. I saw two of the books that I’d bought at Foyles the week before and could have got at YALC for cheaper, which was annoying (and have since seen someone post a picture of the third in their YALC haul) but oh well, at least I saved the bag space!

Our first signing of the day was at 3, and it was Laura Steven. We had relatively early tickets in her signing queue, so it didn’t take long before we got through. I got A Girl Called Shameless signed, and Hannah got her sampler of Laura’s upcoming book, The Love Hypothesis. You’d think we’d speak to authors about their books, and we did a little, we commiserated about everyone having a Danny, and she told us an awkward story about her “Danny” that didn’t make it into the book but we mostly fangirled about her dog, Obi! She didn’t seem to mind though. She’s such a lovely person, I hope I get to see her at another event when her new book comes out.

Once we were done with Laura’s queue, we had a bit more time before our next signings (Derek Landy and Eoin Colfer) so we just chilled for a bit again, it was nice not to be running from one signing to the next like we had been in previous years, and it gave us some time to rest our feet. We had relatively early tickets in Derek’s queue, so we didn’t have to wait all that long after his panel before we could go over to the signing queue. I definitely felt like the queues were handled better this year, my only complaint was that in previous years, they had a little whiteboard which showed what numbers they were at in the virtual queues, so you didn’t have to be constantly asking (but I’ll get to that more in my post for tomorrow).

As always, Derek was awesome and so funny. I told him that I’d read Bedlam since the last time we met, and that I really enjoyed it. He asked us if we had any questions, but honestly, I didn’t have any that weren’t spoilery and Hannah isn’t caught up on the new series yet, so I couldn’t really ask any (though he seemed to quite enjoy teasing Hannah about revealing potential spoilers). I did ask if he knew how many books there were going to be in this new arc and apparently he does but isn’t allowed to share yet and Hannah was very pleased to find out that Vex is in Bedlam. We also got our annual awkward photo with Derek to add to our growing collection.

Once we were done with Derek, we made it over to Eoin’s queue, and thankfully we had quite low numbers for that queue as well so we didn’t have to wait too long for that queue either. Hannah and I both read Artemis Fowl when we were teenagers and are really excited for the film, so it was really cool to get to meet Eoin. Only I had a book to sign though, because Hannah had lost her copy (which I bought her for her birthday when we were in school) but it did mean that she had a good story to tell Eoin!

By the time we were done with Eoin, we had to head off pretty sharpish, as I think it was just after five, and we had dinner plans with Zoe and Hannah (our other friend who came to YALC with us last year). They both got a bit annoyed at us, because it took us a while to get across London in peak time traffic, but we got there eventually!

After Hannah gave us a tour of her work and we picked up her phone charger, we headed off for dinner at Conchigilia, this lovely Italian place that we really like. I had a delicious pizza, as did Zoe and the two Hannahs both had pasta. It was great to get to catch up with Zoe as I haven’t seen her in a while, and the other Hannah as well and we had a really lovely meal.

Once we’d finished dinner, we headed our separate ways from Oxford Circus, the two Hannahs and I back to Clapham Junction and Zoe back home. All in all, it was a really great first day of YALC and we were all very excited for the Saturday!


Us with Derek Landy!

20190728_191326My Friday signed books

20190728_191401My Friday Book Haul

20190728_191417My signed Laura Steven


My signed Artemis Fowl

20190728_191434One of my signed Skulduggery books (I only need two more signed now and then I have the full set!).

YALC 2018 Recap (Day One)

Hi all! If you haven’t heard me excitedly shouting about it for the last month, or are new to the blog, then you might not know that I had a very fun bookish weekend this weekend: on Friday and Saturday, I was at YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention held at Olympia in London where for three days at the end of July, UK, Irish and some American authors come to sign their books, do panels and workshops and there are agent talks and it’s all generally just a lot of fun! This year, I went with my friend Hannah again (yes the one who appears in all these posts, she has her own book blog now, BooksLifeandOtherOddities, so you should definitely follow her) but we also added a new face this year, Hannah’s friend, also called Hannah (yes our group chat was incredibly confusing), so we go to show off YALC to a newbie, which was fun!

I had organised all my stuff the night before, so basically all that was left to do in the morning were some last minute checks that I had everything and then I was on the bus on the way to the station. I spent the entire journey down to London finishing Children of Blood and Bone as I was hoping to meet Tomi Adeyemi on Saturday (more on that in the next post), which by the way, I am absolutely obsessed with now, you guys were not wrong, that book is AMAZING.

My journey from Kings Cross was a bit of a nightmare because they stupidly decided to do engineering works on the Olympia line on the biggest weekend of the year for that station, so I first had to get a tube to Edgware Road, which then got stopped for a while at a red signal and then finally a tube to High Street Kensington, where I then got a bus to the convention centre. Unsurprisingly with all that, Hannah and Hannah both beat me there! We got some food from the Tesco Express and then some cash out before we headed into the convention centre.

Once we had put our extra bags in the cloakroom, we arrived just in time for the talk on pitching and submission letters in the Agents Arena, which Hannah (YALC friend Hannah, not new Hannah, this is going to get super confusing) and I both really wanted to go to, so we all went into that. It was really helpful, I took a lot of notes and feel a lot more prepared now for querying than I had before. We had to practise elevator pitches and I was completely awful at it, could not get either of my novels down to two lines! Some people came up and read their pitches but Hannah and I were too nervous to (new Hannah did though and hers was really good, she’s an author though, so it’s understandable!).

After the submission letter talk, they had several other agents come in and join Danielle (the agent who had been giving the talk) and we then had the opportunity to have five minutes to pitch our novels to the agents. I was really nervous but I decided to do it, and I’m glad I did, because the agent I pitched to, Polly Nolan (PaperFury’s agent!) was so lovely. She said she actually thought she had heard of my blog (I was wearing one of JennieLy’s lanyards with my blog name on it) which was so nice to hear, gave me some great advice on my book and said she thought it sounded very marketable, which was wonderful to hear! Of course, I would still want to keep writing it whatever, but it is great to hear someone in the industry say they think your book would have a chance at selling well.

After we had done all of the agent talks we wanted to, it was nearing the time for the panel we wanted to go and see on the Centenary of Women’s right to vote in the UK, so we had our lunch (I had a chicken and bacon sub and a really big bag of quavers, it was great) and then went to Waterstones so that Hannah (YALC friend Hannah) could buy Hero At The Fall for Alwyn Hamilton’s signing which was soon after and I could buy Louise O’Neill’s book (The Surface Breaks) for her signing. I also convinced Hannah to buy Louise O’Neill’s book Asking For It, because you know, I’m a book pusher and it’s a really great book.

We then headed into the panel and it was good, if a little bit loud, we might have actually enjoyed it more if we hadn’t been so close to the front! It was interesting to hear all the writer’s points about feminism and voting and female characters in YA, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with all their answers (there was a little too much focus on strong female characters having to kick butt rather than different kinds of strength and one of the authors was talking about Ballet Shoes as an example of where the more masculine female character isn’t described as plain, which she totally is, she mentions on more than one occasion being jealous of her older sister who is seen as prettier than she is). For some reason, it had gone completely over my head that Katherine Webber was American, so I was a bit surprised when I heard the American accent, even though I totally shouldn’t have been!

Anyway, after the panel, we headed to the signings. Alwyn’s queue was ticketed, so we got our tickets and then left to go to the other signings we wanted to. Matt Kileen’s was thankfully short, so we went to see him and I told him how great I thought his publicity team’s proof packages were. I probably should have said how great I though his book was, but it was what came into my head at the time! We also went to Sally Nicholls’ signing line and got her book signed, that was relatively quick as her queue wasn’t too long.

Once we had got those signed, we went to find the seating area, because we were a little bit tired after having quite an intense morning! I have to admit, YALC really should improve their seating, bean bags on the floor and a couple of chairs aren’t good enough, especially for people with disabilities who need to sit.

We kept going back and checking if our numbers were up in Alwyn Hamilton’s queue after that, but it took quite a while, so we mostly sat and waited. We did explore the stalls a little, I bought Bygone Badass Broads from the Abrams Books stand which I am super excited to read. By this time, I was also desperate for the loo, so I was quite thankful for the break. Alwyn’s queue took a long time to get moving, because she wanted to make sure she chatted a little to everyone which I thought was super sweet, but I think the staff supervising the signing were getting a bit stressed with how long it was taking!

We finally got to Alwyn’s line, but even near the front, it was still going quite slowly. We noticed that Louise O’Neill was doing her signing quite close by, and were told that she was about to leave and we really wanted to get our books signed. A man in Alwyn’s queue very generously agreed to save our spot for us, so we dashed back, grabbed our books and got Louise to sign them before she left. Naturally we didn’t really get a chance to talk to her much as she needed to leave, but we told her we were looking forward to reading them and she thanked us for coming!

Then it was finally our turn in Alwyn’s line! We’ve been to so many of these by this point that she knows who we are by now, and she said it was lovely to see us again and we just chatted for a few minutes about the con and all the fun we’d been having. We asked her about her next book and she said she’s currently editing it at the moment and I got to actually commiserate with a real life published author about editing woes because I am also editing at the moment-WHAT IS THIS LIFE! We got a photo and then left, having reached I think peak fangirl for that day!

Alwyn’s signing was our last signing of the day, so we had some time to chill a bit after that. We sat for a little while and then we wandered around the stalls as we hadn’t really got a chance to see many of them yet. I picked up This Is Where It Ends from the SourceBooks stand, which I was pleased with, as I got it for £2 cheaper than I would have if I’d bought it at Waterstones earlier (there were a couple of times through the weekend where I saw books I had already bought that I could have got cheaper at YALC, so it was nice to finally get a win on the money front!).

We wandered round more of the stalls, Hannah (new Hannah) chatted to a lot of the stall holders, but Hannah and I mostly just wandered looking at all the pretty things. We spent a while at a new stand that I don’t think was there the past few years, that sold cool bookish mugs and I got an amazing one that says “If My Book is Open, Your Mouth is Closed” which is basically my motto for life. We finally stopped at the Hot Key stand and all three of us bought a copy of To Kill a Kingdom, which was part of the 3 for £10 deal. All of us had quite a light book buying day, Hannah (new Hannah) bought four books, To Kill A Kingdom and then the first three Throne of Glass books, which I told her she should buy (yes, I do book pushing even on people I’ve only known for a matter of hours) and Hannah (YALC Hannah) bought I think five books, Asking For It, Hero At The Fall, To Kill A Kingdom, Caraval and The Raven King. Honestly I preferred it that way, because everything I bought this year is something that I really want to read, so I won’t have to worry about losing interest in it, like I have done with some books I’ve bought in previous years.

We decided to head after that, it was only about 5.15 and the con was still open for another hour or so, but all three of us were quite tired and we didn’t want to hit all of the stalls on Friday, otherwise we would have had nothing to do on Saturday. So we then left and headed off to have dinner at the Pizza Express near Olympia. Hannah (new Hannah) wasn’t particularly hungry, but Hannah (YALC Hannah) and I were, so I had Lasagne and Hannah had pasta. I also polished off a rather delicious cheesecake dessert. There was a thunderstorm outside so we chatted for a while inside the restaurant about our day and general life stuff before leaving.

We then had to go our separate ways as Hannah (YALC Hannah) had to head home and Hannah (new Hannah) and I, had to go to our Travelodge in Kingston. I was a bit nervous about sharing a hotel room with someone I hadn’t met before that day, but I shouldn’t have worried, we talked pretty much constantly on the journey back as we’d got to know each other over the course of the day and despite me worrying that Kingston might be a bit far out, we actually made it to our hotel in about an hour.

So yeah, we made it to our hotel and just kind of chilled for a bit before heading to bed relatively early (I mean it was 11.00 but that is pretty early for me!) as we were both quite tired from our intense day of bookish fun! Our first day at YALC was definitely a success though and we were both super excited for the next day.

My signed copy of Orphan Monster Spy

yalc 2018 17

My signed copy of Hero At The Fall

yalc 2018 18

My signed copy of Things A Bright Girl Can Do

yalc 2018 19

My signed copy of The Surface Breaks

yalc 2018 22

My Friday haul, purchases on the left, signed books on the right (The Surface Breaks is both a purchase book and a signed one!).

yalc 2018 14


Us with Alwyn Hamilton


A quick selfie between stall shopping!


Enjoying dinner after a hard day of YALCing! Sorry for the blurry photo 🙂

YALC 2018 Recap (Day Two)

Yesterday, Day Two of YALC, got off to an early start. Hannah (new Hannah) and I got up at around 8am. We were expecting Hannah (YALC friend Hannah) to arrive at our hotel at 8.45, but she overslept, so we decided to just meet at the convention centre. After getting ready for the day and checking that we had cleared everything from our hotel room, we checked out and headed to the train station, making brief stops at Wilco (both of us had family members to buy birthday cards for) and Costa for some breakfast, Hannah had a latte, I had a chocolate Frostino and a blueberry muffin.

Once we had got our breakfast, we headed to the train station and confirmed which train we had to get, since the overground train to Olympia still wasn’t running, darn engineering works! We got on the train to Wimbledon and then got the District Line to Earls Court. We were meant to get the bus all the way to Olympia but we unfortunately got off early (as the stop said it was Olympia train station-it wasn’t) and then had to walk the rest of the way!

After a longer than anticipated walk, we finally made it to the convention centre and met up with YALC friend Hannah. When we got up to the YALC floor and had checked our bags in the cloakroom, Hannah (new Hannah) wanted to go to a talk on Careers in Publishing and so YALC friend Hannah and I decided to go get lunch as we hadn’t yet had the chance to.

Once we got back up to YALC, we decided to wander around for a bit. Hannah got the last Ace of Shades at the HarperCollins stand, which she was very happy about because I’d told her how good it was. I tried to talk her into buying the new Skulduggery Pleasant but she’s waiting for the paperback. I was slightly disappointed that they had sold out of An Ember In The Ashes as I would have liked to get that one, but was pleased to hear that Fawkes had been so popular and sold out as I’m really enjoying that one at the moment. We also picked up a French Translation Quiz at the Faber and Faber stand, as Hannah quite wanted to win In Paris With You in order to read something that her French penpal would be able to find in France. I also took a free YALC cupcake off them (to celebrate five years) as we had missed them the day before. For a day old cupcake, it was actually quite good! I also bought a metallic bookmark from a stand which I can’t actually remember the name of (sorry!) which had a Throne of Glass quote in it, so I was super excited about that.

By this time, Hannah (new Hannah) had finished at her talk, so we sat for a bit and tried to complete the French translation quiz-I’m pretty sure we only got like 5 or 6 of them and at the end of the day, YALC Hannah and I just filled in random books!. After this we wandered around the stalls some more. We all bought books at the MyKindaBook (Macmillan) stall, Hannah (YALC Hannah) and I got Alex & Eliza as we both love Hamilton and Hannah (new Hannah) got a copy of Heartless as I had told her it was really good and it actually turned out to be signed by Marissa Meyer, and it was the only one of the copies that was!

When we had finished wandering around all the stalls, new Hannah decided that she wanted to leave (so from now on when I refer to Hannah, I’m talking about YALC Hannah-thank you for bearing with me in the Hannah confusion), but before she left, we wanted to get a picture of all of us in front of the YALC sign. We had to settle for behind as there were people sitting in front, but the picture was still nice!

We then said goodbye to new Hannah and got into the queue for Tomi Adeyemi virtual tickets. We got 156 & 157 which we didn’t think would be a problem (more on that later) and then headed off to eat lunch because by this point we were very hungry. I had a chicken, bacon and sausage sandwich (which yes, was as good as it sounds) and some fruit.

Once we had eaten lunch, we went back to Waterstones, so that Hannah could buy The Song Rising before Samantha Shannon’s signing at two. We kept periodically checking in at the Tomi Adeyemi signing, but our numbers were quite far back, so we weren’t too fussed when they hadn’t been called yet. We sat in the Samantha Shannon queue and chatted to the two girls behind us, one of whom I think really didn’t like me and I’m not quite sure why, as she was kind of passive aggressive towards me and then later pushed in front of my friend and I in the queue which yeah, wasn’t great. Most of the time when I meet people in queues at YALC they’re really nice, but there’s a first time for everything. We liked chatting to her friend though so it wasn’t so bad!

Samantha was fairly chatty, so though we were near the front of the queue, it was a while before we met her. She was so lovely though, she asked if she’d met us before and we said that we were at her event in London with VE Schwab and Neal Shusterman in March and she actually remembered us, which was so sweet, since all these authors meet so many people every year! She said she hadn’t signed many Because You Love To Hate Me copies before, and I said that I had run out of Bone Season books for her to sign and that Hannah and I both really wanted to read Priory, which she thanked us for. She even signed my copy on her story, which was great as that was what I had wanted and she didn’t have to, it took a lot longer to find than the title page! We also joked about how sharing Priory between three of us in different parts of the country was going to be difficult and Samantha said it was so big it could easily be split into three parts, which we loved! Both Hannah and I agreed that she and Alwyn were our favourite authors of the weekend and I bemoaned that her curl game was so much better than mine!

Once we were done with Samantha’s line, it was really just a waiting game for when our number would come up in Tomi’s line. We had thought they’d be further along since it was a while since we lasted checked but they were only up to 110! We decided we didn’t want to stand and wait, so we went back to the comfy sitting area and made friends with a girl from Comic Con, Koshani who was really lovely and was also waiting for Tomi.

We kept going back in the hope that our number would come up, but by the time it hit three, Tomi’s official signing was over, and our only chance of meeting her was if she stayed longer. She could only stay another twenty minutes and her line was cut at 120, which was such a bummer because I had just finished Children of Blood and Bone the day before and really wanted to tell her how much I loved it. We sat with our new friend for a while and commiserated, there were I think over 100 people who didn’t get the chance to meet Tomi, and while I totally understand that she had to leave, it felt like the whole thing could have been organised better on Showmasters end, because there were a lot of disappointed people!

When we knew we weren’t going to meet Tomi, we decided to do a final run of the stalls before our last signing at four. Hannah bought the next three Throne of Glass books at the Bloomsbury stand and I got the Gryffindor 20th anniversary edition of Chamber of Secrets (I want to get a full set of house editions, so I have a Hufflepuff and a Gryffindor, will get a Slytherin and Ravenclaw with the next two twentieth anniversary editions). We also entered a proof competition to win The Way Past Winter, which, spoiler alert, we did not win and we got Clan cupcakes (inspired by COBAB) from the MyKindaBook stand, which made us laugh because the woman behind the stand told us to pick the one which called to us and we said we just wanted them all!

We decided to get in early for Laura Steven’s signing line as we didn’t want to get burned again like we had earlier with Tomi, so we were there even before she was! We sat for a while and then she arrived and took a picture of her signing queue, which we thought was super cute because we would totally do that if we were authors. She swore when she found out her line was being ticketed, which she apologised for, but I found it endearing, because I probably would swear too if I found out that many people had liked my book and wanted it signed. When we met her, she commented that she hadn’t seen her proofs in a while as we were some of the few in our signing group that had them, and she had apparently given all of hers away, She was super lovely, I told her how adorable I thought her puppy was and she said he was but also super mischievous, to which I said, that our dog Otis was the same as a puppy. She asked us who our favourite character was and we said Ajita which she loved as apparently Ajita is inspired by her best friend, also called Ajita. She was super lovely and we got a really nice photo with her before leaving.

After that we were pretty much done, we did one final sweep of the stalls and Hannah won a proof by tweeting a funny story. We were going to stay a little longer but we had dinner plans and we had seen everything so we left.

We then got messed around by several different London bus drivers before we got the right bus to get to the restaurant we were going to. It took us forever to get across London and we were fifteen minutes late for our reservation, but thankfully they hadn’t given away our table and we soon met our friend, Zoe. We had a delicious dinner, Zoe and I had pizza, mine was a delicious calzone and Hannah had pasta. It was great to have a chance to all catch up and was the perfect end to a great weekend.

Once we were done, I had to head back to Kings Cross to get my train home. Sadly I had missed all the fast trains thanks to the leisurely Italian service and I didn’t really get to say a proper goodbye to my friends as I had to run for the train. Still at least I got home, even if it was on the slow train and I didn’t get back to my house till quarter to midnight. It was a very long, but very awesome two days and I cannot wait to go back again next year!


My YALC Saturday haul (left is bought, right is signed)


My signed copy of The Exact Opposite of Okay


My signed copy of Because You Love To Hate Me


Us with Samantha Shannon (see this is the level of curl game that I aspire to have!)


Us goofing around at the InkRoad stall


Us with Laura Steven


Laura Steven looking the actual cutest while signing our books!


The delicious YALC cupcake


A Jo and two Hannahs living their best lives in front of the YALC banner


My entire weekend haul!

So what do you think of my haul? Did I make good choices? Anyone else been at YALC this weekend? Did you have fun? Anyone actually manage to meet Tomi Adeyemi? Anyone now want to go to YALC next year who has never been before? Basically talk all things YALC with me!

Jo Talks Books: Updated Tips For YALC Newbies (2018)


Hannah and I at YALC 2017

Hi everyone! I’m so sorry I didn’t get another discussion post for you done in June, with my Writing Corner posts and reviews and everything, I just didn’t have the time to write another one. Since YALC is just around the corner (FRIDAY PEOPLE, I AM SO EXCITED), I decided that my discussion post this month would be less of a discussion and more of a list of tips for people attending the convention this year. I did a tips post back in 2016, but I wanted to update it for you guys, since a couple of things have changed since 2016 and it’s always useful to have a fresh list of tips! Here we go, my top tips for attending YALC for the first time:

  1. Don’t worry about arriving before 10-you can actually avoid the queues if you arrive later

Okay so this one is kind of contrary to my top tip from 2016, but you actually don’t need to be there from ridiculous o’clock queuing to get in. I mean you can arrive at 9 and wait in the queue for an hour if you’re desperate to be the first in, but don’t sweat it if you’re a little late, there will still be people on the doors, there are all day and you might just avoid having to stand there sweating in a long queue-you’ll be doing enough of that inside the con! Also if you need to duck out during the day, you can, they stamp your hand so you can get back in if you leave the building.

2. Wear light and comfy clothes and shoes

It gets SUPER HOT in the convention centre, so please, please wear light and comfy clothes. I know it might seem fun to wear an extravagant and heavy cosplay costume, but you will boil and regret it later, so consider the heat when planning your cosplay. Also, I know this seems obvious, but consider bathroom manoeuvrability when planning your costume-you don’t want to have to be fiddling for hours just to go to the bathroom! Make sure the shoes you wear are comfortable also, there is a lot of walking and standing and not much seating (though I’m hopeful they might have changed that this year) so you don’t want your shoes to be rubbing all day!

3. Bring your own food and plenty of water (stowed separately from your books to avoid accidents though)

Food in the convention centre is super expensive, so you would be wise to bring your own, there is a Tesco Express just across the street from Olympia, so you can get food and water before going in, which I would very much advise! It’s going to be over thirty degrees on Friday and I think just as hot on Saturday and Sunday, so make sure you have plenty of water, you will want it!

4. Get cash out before you go in

Only the Waterstones stall and I think the odd other one take card, most stands are cash only. There is a cash machine just across the street from the building, so you can get cash just before you go in, though if you want to avoid potentially large queues for cash machines on the day, then I suggest getting money out beforehand.

5. Make use of the cloakroom

A lot of people bring suitcases and whilst that’s great, they can be kind of unwieldy, so I suggest bringing a separate bag to use for the books you want to get signed and stowing your suitcase, or any extra bags you have, in the cloakroom for the day. It’s at the far corner of the convention centre, near the agents arena (or at least it was last year, they might have changed where things are this year) and only costs £1 to use.

6. Bring a phone/IPod/Camera to take pictures with AND make sure it is fully charged before you go

You’ll probably want to take pictures with your favourite authors whilst there, so make sure you bring something to take pictures with. Also make sure that whatever device you are using is fully charged, because unless you have a portable charger, there is only one or two plugs in the convention centre, so if you run out, there’s a good chance you may not be able to use it for the rest of the day.

7. Only pick up the proofs you really want, otherwise you’ll end up with a whole load of books you’ll never read and deny other people who really wanted said proof of the opportunity to read it

So in the last couple of years, publishers at YALC have started giving away a load of free proofs-yay for us, free books that we get to read early! But only get the ones that you are really interested in reading, it will save space in your bag for books you want to buy, will make sure that everyone who actually wants the proofs can get them and will save you time because you don’t have to read something you don’t think you’ll like. It can be so easy to get overexcited because FREE BOOKS, but be picky and only get the proofs you are super excited for, not just random ones that you only pick up because they’re free. This kind of goes for books you buy as well, you don’t need to buy every single book you see, tempting as it might be-I have a lot of books from YALC that I’ll probably get rid of without reading because I just picked them up because they’re cheap!

8. Make sure you follow all the publishers and YALC on Twitter and have your notifications turned on

Publishers announce proof drops on Twitter-though I think they’re changing how they do things this year, but they’re still bound to have updates on Twitter, so you want to make sure you are following all the publishers so you can be updated. JennieLy has made a list of publishers on her Twitter account, so follow her and find out the publishers and you’re golden! Also make sure you follow the official YALC twitter account, they have lots of useful tips and bits of information on there that you will want to know.

9. Plan out who you want to see in advance-and take note of any clashes

YALC is a busy few days and it’s much easier to enjoy yourself if you’ve planned out who you want to see, what panels you want to see, what books you want to get signed and everything, in advance. That way, you won’t be rushing around like a headless chicken trying to do everything! If you know what times everyone’s signings and talks are, it is a lot easier to plan your time accordingly and make sure you get to see everyone you want to see.

10. Make sure you bring extra bags

You will be picking up a lot of stuff throughout the day, so it’s important to make sure that you have enough bags, so make sure you have enough places to store them and take advantage of any free tote bags that you get given during the day!

11. Bring a friend, and also make sure you interact with other people

Bookworms are really friendly, but it can be daunting going to these kinds of events alone, so I would definitely recommend going with a friend or a group of people. I’ve been going with my friend Hannah for the last three years and we’re bringing along another friend (also named Hannah) this year, and it’s so much more fun having someone to share your time with. But even if you do take friends, make sure to try and interact with people there, bookworms are so friendly, and you have to do something to pass the time in those long signing queues.

12. Have your money in an easily accessible place

I’ve had problems the last few years having to root around in my bag to find my money, so learn from my mistakes! This year, I’m taking a bumbag instead of my handbag and I think it’s a really great option, because it frees space in your main bag for more books and it means your money is easily accessible throughout the day and so I would definitely recommend!

13. Do take breaks throughout the day

It can be tempting to just rush around from panel to panel, signing to signing and buy all the books and I have definitely done that before, but when you’re getting tired, take some time to have a breather before rushing off to your next thing. Authors sign for several hours and the busy ones are ticketed, so you have time to take a breather, don’t refuse it!

14. Make sure you know if an author’s signing is going to be ticketed and get your ticket!

For really busy authors that are expected to have long queues, YALC has a ticketing system in place. They’ve refined this since the first time I had to use it and it’s a lot better now. If an author’s signing is ticketed, there will be a person standing around giving out tickets. Find them, get your ticket and then relax until your number is held up on the whiteboard (you may have to go back several times). Don’t miss out on the tickets, because if it’s a ticketed signing and you don’t have a ticket? Yeah, you’re not meeting that author. Last year both Alwyn Hamilton and Samantha Shannon had ticketed lines, so I suspect they might again, Tomi Adeyemi I would guess is likely to be ticketed and it’s already been announced that Tom and Giovanna Fletcher will be ticketed. Also take note of any limitations on number of books that can be signed; they usually don’t put a limit in, but check, you don’t want to look like an idiot by having more books than you’re allowed to have signed. Most signings won’t have a limit though!

15. Check the underground route before you go

If you’ve been to YALC before, or live somewhere with a direct link to Olympia, then this won’t be a problem, but if you’re new, getting to YALC via the underground can be a little confusing. You need to get to Earl’s Court underground station on the District Line and then change from there onto the special train for London Olympia (it only goes to Olympia, there are no other stops). If all else fails, follow anyone in cosplay because they are likely going to LFCC and YALC too.

16. Have fun!

YALC is an awesome weekend that only comes around once a year, so have a great time! Make the most of getting to see all these great authors and picking up free proofs and getting all these great books and just have the best time you can-I know I certainly will, there’s a reason Hannah and I go back every year!

So that’s it, that’s all I have; a slightly more comprehensive list of tips than my last one, though I know there are a few repeat tips in there! If anyone who has been to YALC thinks I’ve missed anything and wants to chime in with advice of their own, by all means do. Who else is going to YALC? Who are you all most excited to see? What days are you going? Basically chat to me about all things YALC in the comments-and if any newbies have anymore questions, feel free to ask, I have a fountain of YALC knowledge that’s only useful once a year, so use it!

If you are going to YALC, then by all means, say hi, I don’t bite (at least not often). I don’t know what I’ll be wearing yet, but I bought one of JennieLy’s beautiful lanyards, so if you see someone with a Hufflepuff lanyard, with my name (Jo Elliott), my blog’s name (BookLoversBlog) and my twitter handle (@iloveheartlandX) on it, then congrats, you found me!

I won’t have another discussion post for you this month, as I honestly just won’t have time, but I will be back with another one in August, about an as yet undecided topic! Also, I did an interview with Rachel Coleman over at Bookmark Chronicles which should be on her blog sometime in the next few weeks, so please follow her and give that a read when it comes out. Before then, I will have a new Top Ten Tuesday post on Tuesday, so stay tuned for that.


YALC 2017 Recap (Day Two)

It was another early start yesterday for day two of YALC, Hannah and I got up at around seven o’clock, got ready and headed over to the train station in Windsor. We bought our tickets and then waited for the train. We got a little confused because we thought our train was going to be on the other platform, but it turned out it was already there, so we had to run before we missed it! Luckily we did get it, just in the nick of time. On the train, we basically just chatted about how much fun we had on Friday and our plans for the day, who we were looking forward to seeing etc. We got off at Clapham Junction and then changed to get a direct train to Olympia. It was a relatively quick journey, we left Windsor at around 8 and arrived at Olympia by 9.20.

Once we arrived at Olympia, we headed over to the Tesco Express opposite in order to get breakfast and lunch for the day. Then we headed inside, there wasn’t really a queue at all, so we got straight in. We were early for the first event that we wanted to go to, so we had time to put my phone on charge and go to the bathroom before that. We also got into the queue to get proofs of The Fandom and managed to get a copy each.

The first thing we went to was a talk on publishing in the Agents Arena. It was such a useful talk, even though I’m not at the stage of submitting my novel to an agent yet, it was great to hear about the process, what’s involved, what to do, what not to do etc and I took a lot of notes that I’m sure will be useful when I finally do start submitting my novel to agents. I definitely recommend going to one of these kinds of talks if you’re looking to get your book published one day.

After that we went over to the Chapter 5 stand as we had heard they were giving away a proof of The Beast’s Heart to the first person who came over with a photo of them with a fairytale cosplayer (we had got a picture with someone dressed as Red Riding Hood earlier, she even had a basket and a stuffed wolf) at 10.45, sadly we were too late though!

We then decided to go over to Waterstones so Hannah could buy the books she wanted to get signed for that day. The queue was so long, that I stood in the queue whilst Hannah went to get the books she wanted. It turned out I had to dash to get my own books when she was at the till as I had totally forgotten I wanted to get the rest of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone books. Luckily I got them though!

It was then time for Vic James’ signing, but on our way there we got slightly distracted because we found out that Ed McDonald was giving away free cupcakes for the launch of his book Blackwing, so we went to the stall were those were being given out and got one before heading over to Vic James’ signing. Luckily we had time in the queue to finish our cupcakes! Vic James was lovely and encouraging when we told her we were both writers and that we’d one day like to do an event like that and she said she hoped we enjoyed her book (as we’d said we were yet to read it).

Once we’d done that we were a little uncertain of what to do because our next signings didn’t start until one. We went to check on my phone and Hannah found out that Benedict Cumberbatch was downstairs at LFCC so we went to find him. We had no luck and came back upstairs pretty sharpish because it was crowded, hot and kind of smelly down in the LFCC room. The YALC room actually felt breezy after that.

There was a massive queue for the loo when I got there, but I was so desperate so I just had to wait. By the time I got out Hannah had got a ticket for the Laini Taylor signing, I got one too but they wouldn’t let her get one for me whilst I was in the loo, so our numbers were quite far apart. Hannah agreed to wait with me though rather than going in early which was nice of her. After we’d got our tickets for Laini Taylor, we raced over to the person giving out the Victoria Schwab queue tickets and got them. We were quite far back in the the queues for both authors, so we decided to just go and sit and eat lunch considering we would be waiting for a while.

We just wandered around a lot after that really, not doing anything in particular, just looking at stalls. I swapped a book I had bought in a mystery book buy yesterday and Hannah got a proof, although she later switched that for something else. We had to keep checking back on the queues to see if our numbers came up. We sat and chatted for a bit as well. We dashed for proofs of The Exact Opposite of Okay when they were announced and both got one. We took a picture with a girl in a really cool Belle cosplay. We got more free cupcakes, this time from the My Kind of Book stall. Finally, our numbers came up for Laini Taylor, so we joined the queue. We still had to wait for quite a while when we were in the queue but eventually we got to the front. Laini was lovely, she signed our books, I told her that I had enjoyed Daughter of Smoke and Bone and she said I hoped I enjoyed the others. It was brief but nice to meet her and hopefully if I meet her again I’ll have read even more of her books.

We then dashed to the VE Schwab queue. By this time Hannah was desperate for the loo, so I held our place in line and waited whilst she went. I asked if she had a signing limit since her queue had been ticketed and was so long (I think there was over 200 people who had tickets!) but the woman running the queue said she’d sign as many as you had. I was worried Hannah wouldn’t get back in time as the queue was pretty fast moving, but she did. We finally got to the front and I probably made a complete fool of myself, but Victoria was so lovely, especially considering she’d already signed 120 odd people’s books before us! I told her how much I loved her books and that A Conjuring of Light was my favourite book of the year and she loved that. She’s honestly just one of the nicest authors I’ve ever met and hats off to her because she did two panels and signed for four hours, the woman is an absolute superstar!

I was desperate for the loo by this point, so I dashed in there quickly and then we went into the talk that was going on, simply so we could sit down for a bit. I liked the topic but we didn’t really know the authors so we ended up leaving it early. After this we again just wandered round for a while, I picked up a copy of The Diabolic at the Hashtag Reads stand, Hannah picked up some more proofs. We attempted to find the girl in the red cloak to get an Everless proof, but weren’t able to. We also practised waltzing for reasons which will be explained shortly!

At 5’o clock, there was a proof giveaway of The Beast’s Heart, something Hannah and I had both really wanted all weekend. There were people lining up to wait for it quite early before the giveaway and we recognised one of them as the girl we talked to in the Derek Landy signing queue last year! So we chatted to her a bit before the giveaway started, as well as the other people. We had to waltz in order to win the proof and Hannah and I did it pretty badly, so it’s not too surprising that we didn’t get it!

After we were done there, we decided to go into the last panel of the day, The Books That Made Me, with Victoria Schwab, Laini Taylor and Joanne Harris. I loved this panel, it’s so interesting to hear authors talk about the books that made them readers and writers! Victoria Schwab’s story about JK Rowling really resonated with me because she is also one of the main reasons why I am the reader and writer I am today, so it was so cool to hear someone else say that.

We stayed afterwards to see Non Pratt’s charity headshave but it was taking longer than we thought so we decided to head out (and regretted it later, because it turns out we missed Benedict Cumberbatch!). We saw Victoria Schwab on our way out and asked if we could get a picture with her (as we weren’t allowed during the signing because of how many people she had to get through) and she graciously agreed.

Once we had done that, YALC was essentially finished for the day, so we went to get my bag from the cloakroom and then left, emerging into the pouring rain! We made our way back to Olympia station and then after working out where I was going, I said my goodbyes to Hannah and we went our separate ways.

Here are my pictures from Day 2 of YALC:

IMG_0556[1]My haul, from top to bottom we have:

  1. The Exact Opposite of Okay
  2. The Fandom
  3. The Diabolic
  4. Dreams of Gods and Monsters
  5. Days of Blood and Starlight

IMG_0559[1]My signed books from Day 2, we have:

  1. Dreams of Gods and Monsters
  2. Days of Blood and Starlight
  3. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
  4. Gilded Cage
  5. Our Dark Duet
  6. Vicious
  7. The Unbound
  8. The Archived
  9. A Conjuring of Light
  10. This Savage Song

IMG_0574[1]Us with Victoria Schwab!

IMG_0575[1]Us with the massive YALC sign!

IMG_0561[1]My signed and personalised Schwab, we could only get two personalised, so naturally I picked this as one since it’s one of my favourite Schwabs!

IMG_0562[1]Signed Vic James

IMG_0563[1]Signed Laini Taylor

yalc 2 - CopyUs at the Electric Monkey stand with Laura M Steven, author of The Exact Opposite of Okay.

I had such an amazing weekend at YALC this year and we are definitely going back again next year. This is a tradition I hope will continue for a while! I’m so happy with everything I got this year and I can’t wait to dive in to all my new books.

So what do you think of my book haul? Any you’ve read? Any you want to read? What should I read first? Who else was at YALC this year? Did you enjoy it? Did you see Benedict Cumberbatch? Which authors did you see? Which days did you go? Who wants to go to YALC next year who didn’t get to go this year? Basically just talk all things YALC to me, I’m having withdrawals already!

I will have my #RockMyTBR July update for you guys tomorrow, so stay tuned for that!

YALC 2017 Recap (Day One)

Hi all! It’s that time of year again, time for another YALC wrap up post (well posts!). These always seem to come around way too quickly, I spend the entire first half of the year waiting for YALC and then before I know it, it’s over and I’m writing one of these posts again! If you don’t know/have not been on Twitter in the past month/or reading my blog, YALC is the Young Adult Literature Convention, where for three days at the end of July, Young Adult authors (mostly UK but some Irish and US as well) come and talk about books and sign books and basically celebrate books with all of us book nerds. There are stalls, talks, signings, workshops and it’s all a lot of fun really. As usual, I went with my friend Hannah, we’ve been going together since our very first YALC event back in 2015.

I had pretty much got everything ready the night before (including a mad run around the house when I thought I had lost my 16-25 railcard which turned out to be on my desk chair all along), so all I had to do in the morning was get the last of my things together, get dressed and go. My mum drove me to Royston station where I got the train to London Kings Cross. I spent the entire journey down to London reading The Mime Order, as I knew I was going to meet Samantha Shannon that day!

When I was almost at Kings Cross, I got a text from Hannah saying that she had already arrived at the convention centre (one of the rare occasions where she has been the one waiting for me, not the other way around), so I rushed to get the next underground train heading towards Kensington. After a couple of delays, first getting to Edgware Road and then getting from there to High St Kensington, I finally arrived at Olympia and met up with Hannah. We first went to buy food from the Tesco across the road and then we headed into the convention centre (the guy at the door recognised Hannah because she had been in and out so much whilst waiting for me, which made us laugh a lot).

We got up to the floor, but Hannah realised she didn’t have any cash, which you need for most stalls at YALC, so we had to head back out to find a cash machine. Luckily we didn’t have any trouble getting back in, because we both had hand stamps and the man at the door knew Hannah quite well by that point. We wanted to go to the Publishing 101 talk in the Agents Arena but we couldn’t find it, so we decided we would go to the one the next morning instead. At this point I really needed the loo and Hannah needed to charge her phone so we went our separate ways and then met up when we were both done.

I had a big suitcase full of books, but this year we actually found the cloakroom, so after taking out all the books I needed, I paid a pound to leave my bag there for a day (which I would definitely recommend as lugging a suitcase, plus all the books I had to get signed and any books I bought that day would have been a lot!). We then went over to the Waterstones store, where Hannah bought books for all the authors she wanted to get signed that day. and I got Samantha Shannon’s The Song Rising and Elizabeth Wein’s Rose Under Fire. I then realised I had left my copy of Code Name Verity in my bag, so I had to go back to the cloakroom to get it. I probably really annoyed the woman manning the cloakroom but she was very nice about it!

Our first signing of the day was Katharine and Elizabeth Corr, whose book The Witch’s Kiss I had picked up at YALC last year. I hadn’t actually read it yet, but they didn’t seem to mind and were very lovely!

The signings for Melinda Salisbury and Alwyn Hamilton were quite soon after that, but they were both ticketed, so we got our tickets and then left to wander around for a bit, as the next signing we wanted to go to was Elizabeth Wein’s signing and it wasn’t for a while. I finally got a copy of A Court of Wings and Ruin from the Bloomsbury stand (and managed to persuade my friend to get a copy of Throne of Glass). I also bought a copy of Frostblood from the Chapter 5 stand. We had lunch whilst we were waiting as we figured it would be a while.

We actually managed to get to Elizabeth Wein’s signing before Melinda’s or Alwyn’s as their queues were quite big (though we were in the thirties in the queue so not too far back). Elizabeth Wein was lovely, & she drew a very cute rose in both mine and my friend’s copies of Rose Under Fire. Once we were done with hers, we checked back and Melinda Salisbury’s line and our numbers had come up so we joined the queue. It did take a while to actually get to the front, but Melinda was lovely (I swear I haven’t had a bad experience meeting an author yet, they’re the nicest people) and told us she hoped we enjoyed her book. We then got into Alwyn’s queue, as our numbers had come up by the time we had finished with Melinda. The queue was still quite long, so whilst we were waiting, we both got tickets for Samantha Shannon’s queue (quite luckily, ones next to each other, as I got mine from a girl who had got two and then Hannah got hers). The ticketing system has been much improved since last year, we felt, it was actually better that more of the lines were ticketed because it allowed you to do multiple signing queues a bit more easily and they seemed to anticipate which authors were going to have big queues and implemented the tickets quicker.

We finally got to meet Alwyn and she was so lovely, she remembered us from years past which was awesome and chatted to us for quite a bit, as well as letting us take a picture which was great. I think Hannah and I are both agreed that she’s one of our favourite authors we’ve met at YALC!

Once we were done with Alwyn’s line, we moved over to Samantha Shannon’s since we had numbers pretty early on in the queue. Hannah left me waiting as she wanted to get her book signed by Taran Marathu who was signing at the same time. She’d left me with her bags, and I already had quite a lot, but thankfully I made friends with the girls behind me in the queue who very helpfully moved some of the bags for me. We chatted about books and who else we wanted to see that weekend before Hannah returned.

We soon got to see Samantha Shannon and she was, like all the other authors we met absolutely lovely. I told her I had enjoyed The Bone Season and was really enjoying The Mime Order and that I was near the end. She warned me that the ending was brutal, and yet I was still super shocked when I finally finished it today. She also told us a funny story about how she had been signing once and had spelled a girl’s name wrong in all of her books because the girl hadn’t corrected her and she just assumed, so now she never assumes how to spell people’s names! She had a load of different pens for signing and let us choose which one we wanted as well as putting a Scion stamp in our books, hers was definitely my favourite signing of that day.

When we were done with Samantha Shannon, we headed right over to the Laure Eve queue (most of Friday really was just skipping between one signing queue and the next!). Laure asked to borrow my book to check something for the person before us, which we thought was a little strange, but it turned out she was writing a quote from the book in French and had to check that she was getting the quote right, as it had been a while since she wrote the book. We talked for a bit, she was again lovely and told us she hoped we enjoyed her book.

After all that excitement, we finally got a bit of a breather, as the next authors we wanted to see weren’t signing until 4, so we had a good hour until then. I managed to pick up an early finished copy of Daughter of The Burning City at the HQ stand, which was awesome as I can’t wait to read that book. I also picked up a copy of Spellslinger at the Hot Key books stand, which I was so happy about as it sounds like such a good book and has a gorgeous cover! We then sat and chatted for a bit until it was time to go to the last signings of the day. It had been quite a hectic day at this point, so we were glad for the break!

Once it was time, we headed over to Teri Terry’s signing queue. It was quite long, so I left Hannah there waiting to go and check on the Sophie McKenzie queue. That was actually really short which surprised me as she’s quite a big name YA author, but it was so short I managed to get my books signed whilst there. She asked me why I’d chosen the books I had to get signed, and I told her that Split Second was my favourite of her books and that the Girl Missing series were the first of her books I read (that and the Medusa Project). I also told her about the time I missed my bus stop because I was so engrossed in one of her books, which she found funny. She was so lovely and I’ve been wanting to meet her for so long, so I’m really happy that she was nice! I then went back to the queue with Hannah and waited to get our books signed by Teri Terry. She was also lovely, and she signs her books Teri squared, which we thought was really funny!

We then went back over to Sophie McKenzie’s signing for Hannah to get her book signed, she asked if Hannah had read the book she was getting signed and she said she hadn’t but that I had recommended it to her. She then said she hoped Hannah enjoyed it before wishing us a good YALC and saying goodbye.

It was quite early when we were done, around 4.30 ish but there wasn’t anything else we wanted to do, we had got all the books we wanted signed, seen all the stands and weren’t interested in the last talk of the day, so we decided to duck out early. I got my bag back from the cloakroom and then we left to head back to Hannah’s place in Windsor, to eat a massive amount of pizza and watch Harry Potter. All in all, a very good first day of YALC!

Here are some pictures from Day 1 of YALC:


Me and Hannah with Alwyn Hamilton



My YALC Haul from Friday, it’s a little blurry so from top to bottom we have:

  1. Frostblood
  2. Rose Under Fire
  3. Spellslinger
  4. A Court of Wings and Ruin
  5. Daughter of The Burning City
  6. The Song Rising

IMG_0558[1]The books I got signed at YALC on Friday, again it’s a little blurry so we have (again from top to bottom):

  1. Rose Under Fire
  2. The Witch’s Kiss
  3. The Graces
  4. The Sin Eater’s Daughter
  5. Traitor To The Throne
  6. The Song Rising
  7. The Mime Order
  8. The Bone Season
  9. Code Name Verity
  10. Every Second Counts
  11. Split Second
  12. Sister, Missing
  13. Missing Me
  14. Girl, Missing

I also got Book of Lies by Teri Terry signed but like an idiot I forgot to include it in the picture!

IMG_0568[1]My signed Alwyn Hamilton



My signed Samantha Shannon books (so pretty no?)

IMG_0573[1]Signed Sophie McKenzie

IMG_0564[1]Signed Elizabeth Wein (it might be kind of hard to see the rose but it is there!)

IMG_0567[1]Signed Melinda Salisbury (when Hannah saw the inscription, “All that glitters isn’t gold” she said, darn you just ruined one of my favourite songs!)

IMG_0565[1]Signed Katharine and Elizabeth Corr

IMG_0566[1]Signed Laure Eve

IMG_0577[1]Signed Teri Terry

That’s all for day one, stay tuned for my Day Two recap very soon!

YALC 2016 Recap (Day 2)

Yesterday (Day 2) began incredibly early as we had to make our way up to London from Southampton where we spent the night (well early morning really since we didn’t go to bed till 1am). I woke at 6 when both mine and Hannah’s alarms went off but she didn’t wake up until 6.30. I had turned the light on, I’m sure me getting changed made noise and she was still dead to the world. Eventually I decided to turn on a second alarm and just left it ringing whilst I went to brush my teeth and she finally woke up. Once she had got ready, we both got in the car and she drove back to Windsor which took far less time than it had the previous night. We dropped her car off at her house and then walked to the Windsor train station. We arrived just a few minutes before the train to Slough left, so I went to the train and got a seat whilst Hannah got her ticket as I had more bags and couldn’t really run. I was worried she wouldn’t make it in time, but she did.

We chatted on the train about YALC and the authors we met on Saturday and what we were planning on doing that day and who we were excited for etc. We arrived at Slough in plenty of time and luckily the next train to Paddington was leaving pretty quickly. We got the train to Paddington and when we arrived it was around 9.30, so we decided to go and get breakfast in Paddington as YALC didn’t begin until 10 and we had planned on arriving later anyway to avoid the queue! We went to Costa, I had a blueberry muffin and a berry smoothie, Hannah had a chocolate muffin and a chocolate cooler. We were looking for somewhere to buy lunch and a cash machine since Hannah owed me some money (as we’re going on holiday with another friend of ours this weekend and she owed me money for the hostel) so we got the tube from Paddington to Edgware Road. We didn’t manage to find the Sainsbury’s but we did find a cash machine. Once we’d done that we went back to the tube station.

My ticket didn’t go through the barrier at Edgeware Road, so I went over to the person on the barrier to show her it. She said my ticket had been refused because it was only valid for one Underground journey and I had used it to get out at Edgeware Road (which the lady who I bought the ticket at Cambridge from hadn’t explained to me, she said that I could get around on the Underground on it and never mentioned I could only use it for one journey, although I had already used it for several underground journeys yesterday!). Anyway the ticket lady was very rude and not at all helpful. I had an oyster but it was one that the tenants in my family’s house in London had left and it was expired, so I ended up having to buy another ticket which sucked as it cost another £8. I was a little grouchy after that but as soon as the topic turned to books, I forgot about the rude ticket lady (well not totally forgot but it was put to the back of my mind anyway!). We got the tube from Edgeware Road back to Paddington and then got the tube from Paddington to Earl’s Court. We didn’t have to wait too long before a train to Olympia arrived.

Once we arrived at Olympia, we decided to go and find food before we went into the convention centre. We went to the Tesco Express across the street (which we somehow didn’t spot last year!) and I got a sandwich and a water and Hannah got a popcorn. We then went back across the street and there was no queue so we got straight in! We had our tickets scanned, and then got the lift up to level 2 where YALC was. We went to the toilets first and ran into Josephine Boyce who we met yesterday which was pretty cool! Where else can you go and run into an author in the toilets? We had decided that yesterday, since we did mostly signings on Saturday, would be more of a stall shopping day. We had a look round a few of the stalls, picking up freebies (mostly food!) and then at the Accent YA stand, Hannah and I both bought a copy of The Deepest Cut and Hannah bought another book (can’t remember the title) so we could get the 3 for 2 deal. We found out that Natalie Flynn (the author of The Deepest Cut) was signing, so we went over to her table and got our books signed.

After that we went and sat down for a little bit and I ate my lunch. We then wandered around the stands some more, I bought two books at the Chicken House stand, Under Rose Tainted Skies and Fire and Flood and Hannah bought Under Rose Tainted Skies to get signed later. We did some more wandering around the stands, I bought Burning from the Bloomsbury stand because it sounded great. We also went to the Electric Monkey stand and Hannah bought a book called Shift, which I asked to borrow once she was done with it! The Electric Monkey stand was really cool, it was set out like a diner and they gave us “menus” with all of their books on it. We wandered around a little more and then we went to the Waterstones bookshop and Hannah convinced me to buy You Against Me by Jenny Downham (a signed copy) as she has read it and said it was really good (I know the first and last time of the weekend when Hannah pushed me to buy a book, not the other way around!) and I convinced her to buy The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich (also signed) because I want to read it but I’m not sure whether I’ll like it or not, so I wanted her to try it first! I also actually remembered to get her points on my card this time! Score!

After that we went back over to the Chicken House stand for Louise Gornall’s signing. Her queue was pretty long and I thought that was great, it’s great when a debut author has lots of people wanting them to sign their book. As with all the authors we met, she was really lovely and seemed quite happy to talk to us and I was so happy that she did so well because she must have been really nervous with it being her first signing and all!

Once we were done in Louise’s signing line, it was nearly time for the main event of the day, the thing we had come on Sunday for, Maggie Stiefvater’s talk. We went and sat near the entrance to the main stage and just talked for a bit but I was getting a little stiff sitting down so I decided to go around the room finding the clues for Chicken House’s Fever Code game. I managed to find four of the codes (out of five) and we worked out two of them easily and managed to work out the third with a little help from the internet! We couldn’t work out the fourth one though and by then it was time for the talk.

Maggie Stiefvater’s talk was easily the best one of the weekend. I was worried that she wouldn’t be as funny in person as she is on Twitter but I really shouldn’t have, the woman is hilarious. Her talk was essentially a half an hour long stand up comedy set. I also worried that Hannah (who has not yet read The Raven Cycle) might get spoiled for the last book, but she didn’t, the talk was mostly Maggie telling funny stories with the occasional bit of The Raven Cycle thrown in and she had me and Hannah in stitches for the entirety of her talk. We had planned on leaving early so we could get a good spot in the signing line but we were having so much fun and we wanted to hear the Q&A (which was just as hilarious as the talk). We ran out after to get a good spot in the queue but it was huge already. The queue was so massive that they implemented ticketing so we had to queue to get tickets. We tried to get a good spot in the queue for the queue, but we unfortunately were not fast enough and ended up being 226 and 227. We went to see Louise O’Neill who was doing a signing, I didn’t have a copy of either of her books as I read Asking For It as an e-copy and Only Ever Yours is in storage in Scotland, but I just wanted to tell her I liked Asking For It. She was really nice and talked to us for a bit and offered to take a photo with us which we accepted (there was no one else there at the time so it wasn’t like we were holding up a queue of people who actually wanted their books signed).

We then decided to just go and sit for a bit because we knew it was going to be a long wait. We sat and read for a bit and then decided to try and find the fourth Fever Code game clue. We couldn’t find it anywhere though, so we went to the Chicken House stand to get a clue where it was. It turns out it had been taken down, but the lady on the stand found the clue for us and let us see it. Luckily it was quite easy to work out! We went to sit back down for a bit longer and we finally worked out the answer to the last clue (again with a little help from the Internet) and went back to the Chicken House stand to put it in the box. We read for a bit longer and then we went over to the Chapter 5 stand for the chance to win a proof of Caraval. Sadly the game was a throwing game, which both Hannah and I suck at. Although to be fair, everyone in the line sucked at it. The people running the stand thought that they would have to do several rounds of the game as there were so many people there but all but one of us missed, so that made it easy for them (the game was throwing a sweet in a jar). Hannah did get pretty close though, so that makes me feel slightly better about not winning the proof.

By the time that was over it was about five o’clock but our numbers still weren’t up on the board at Maggie Stiefvater’s signing (we had been watching the numbers of books you could get signed go down slowly through the hours, it had started at 4 and was now down to 2. Hannah and I were kind of peeved about this because it meant that we would now get less books signed than those who got tickets for the front of the line, we wished they’d just put the low signing limit in at the start, which would probably have made the queue go faster, but I digress). We decided to do one last round of the stalls and I bought one more book, Wintergirls as it was discounted down to £3.

After our last round of the stalls we decided to just sit and wait over by Maggie’s signing area. It took a while and we were worried that after all that time it would reach 6 o’clock and we wouldn’t even get one book signed (which was what the limit was down to by now). Our number group finally came up on the board and we got into the queue. We met a really nice girl in the queue who was a writer and she told us about her book which we said sounded really good and if she ever gets it published we want to read it! We chatted with her until our turn to meet Maggie finally came. It was brief, she just asked what our favourite book in the series was, I said The Raven King (which I got signed) and Hannah said she hadn’t read the series yet but couldn’t wait to. I think she would have liked to talk to everyone more but the staff were hurrying her along at this point (she had been signing for three hours after all! Seriously what a trooper!). She was so lovely though, especially considering how long she had been signing for. We did get a picture (although it’s not the best one of us, so I won’t be including it in this post! Maggie looks hilarious though!).

After that, it was the end of YALC and time for us to leave. We found a girl who had been at the Maggie Stiefvater signing on the way out and she was really nice, so we ended up talking to her and she was heading back to the same place as us (we were going to King’s Cross, she was going to St Pancras, so same place) and so we got the tube all the way back together. Once we got to the station we said goodbye to the girl (her name was Laura) and then went to WH Smith so I could get a sandwich for dinner. Hannah then helped me to get all my bags of books onto the train before we parted ways and that was the end of our incredible YALC weekend.

Here are my pictures from Day 2 of YALC:


My signed copy of The Deepest Cut.


My signed copy of Under Rose Tainted Skies.


My signed copy of You Against Me


My signed copy of The Raven King! (Like I said earlier, I do have a picture of us and Maggie Stiefvater, but I’m not going to share it because it’s not a great picture of me or my friend)


My Sunday Book Haul


All my YALC swag!

louise o'neillUs with Louise O’Neill

IMG_0237[1]My whole weekend book haul

I had such a great weekend this year and so did Hannah, we’re already planning our trip to YALC for next year! I feel like I did much better this year, both in terms of swag and the number of books and signed books I have.

What do you think of my book haul? Any you’ve read? Any you want to read? Which should I read first? Anyone else go to YALC this year? Did you enjoy it? Which authors did you see? Which day (or days) did you go? Anyone who wants to go to YALC for the first time next year have any questions? Basically, talk to me! I love hearing from you guys!

I will have my #RockMyTBR post for you tomorrow (or maybe Wednesday depending on how much time I have after doing Top Ten Tuesday and blog hopping tomorrow!) and my new Top Ten Tuesday post, so stay tuned for those!