How to Get Yourself Organised for YALC

How to Get Yourself Organised for YALC

Being organised for YALC is fairly important to making sure you see every panel you want to attend, meeting your favourite authors and getting all your books signed. Last year was the first year I was properly organised and for me, it worked incredibly well. It is fairly simple but quite effective and this year I’ve been trying to think of ways to improve it but genuinely, it’s a good system that I’m absolutely doing again this year and I’ve already began the organisation process.

So to help myself become more organised, I created three separate notes on the Notes app on my phone, each note representing the days of the con (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). I then pulled up the YALC site which has the programme for the weekend on it (you can find the 2019 programme here). The programme is split into Friday, Saturday and Sunday so using these, I then wrote on each note which author’s I wanted to see, including the times.

As you can see from the note to the left, I wrote in the books I wanted to take by each author. This is really helpful for in the evenings as it means I can organise myself really quickly for the next day rather than stressing or potentially forgetting which books I need to take with me.

I then wrote down the Panels that I wanted to attend. This year, I’m not sure I’ll be attending that many panels, if any at all, as I personally prefer browsing the stands and speaking with friends, but who knows!

Now onto the next section, ARCs. This isn’t a section that you can do every year at YALC. Last year I was able to do this thanks to this blog post put together by some fantastic bloggers (Check out Jenniely’s blog for it this year). I can’t even explain how helpful it was to have this available to us prior to the weekend. Having this list meant that I was able to get even more organised as I could make sure I was where I needed to be for when ARCs went out, or for when raffles and competitions were going on.

Thanks to the blog post, I was able to research many of the books that were being given out prior to the event so I could make sure I was only really going to the books I wanted. In 2017, I came back with so much stuff that I genuinely struggled to get it all home so I wanted to be more selective in 2018. I’m definitely going to be even more selective this year and make sure I only pick up books that I really want or I know I will definitely be interested in and pick up.

When organising myself for the ARC drops, I made sure to include the times, the booths and the book so that I was fully prepared. I actually copied all the information about the books I wanted from the blog post onto one big note and then separated that one out onto my individual day posts.

As well as ARCs on the blog list, there was also mentions of samplers that were going out. I’m not sure if I’ll be adding this section in for 2019 as I don’t really read samplers that often. They are nice to have and can be really useful if you’re unsure whether to buy a book and want a taster for it, but I do find that I end up picking them up and then not reading them and they do take up space in my case which I could be using for more books. But, just because I don’t really want to pick up samplers this year, that doesn’t mean that you can’t see how I organised for them last year.

As you can see for last year, I had a separate section for samplers and I did end up picking up quite a few. I mean, this sampler list is just from Friday. I do believe I picked up all the samplers on this list and (contrary to what I said earlier), I did actually read quite a few of them.

Throughout the weekend, you’ll probably pick up all of the samplers that you want, but it can be nice to spread them out which is what I did over the weekend so that I wasn’t carrying a tonne of samplers round on just one day.

As you can see at the bottom of this picture, there is a heading for Finished Copies and that’s because My Kinda Book were doing a giveaway for Three Dark Crowns which I was able to get a copy of. It’s useful to note down the times of when finished copies are being giveaway.

As well as the ‘Finished Copies’ heading, last year I also had a heading for ‘Other’. This is because My Kinda Book had a small event where you could have your lips done in a funky design and they were giving away cupcakes. If you know me, you’ll know I’m a sucker for just food in general, especially book themed food so I just had to note that down as something that was happening.

So that’s how I organised myself last year. This year, I am organising myself fairly similarly. I am aware that another YALC 2019 Ultimate Guide shall be going up within the week of YALC, so once that is up, my notes for each day will absolutely be updated to include any ARCs, samplers or other things going on.

To the left is what my Notes for each day currently look like. As you can see, I’ve separated out which books I need to take from the authors just because I do have multiples for some authors so it’s easier to look at it in a list like this. Other than that, my organisation system has stayed the same as last years.

I really hope that you’ll find this useful is you’re struggling to get organised for YALC. There’s still plenty of time to get organised and please feel free to use this system. It’s so handy as everything is on your phone which you’ll need anyway for any tweets that the publishers put out about any giveaways!

Don’t forget to check out my post from last week where I share my YALC top tips!

 

5 Years of Being a Reader

5 Years of Being a Reader

I was originally going to post this back in March to celebrate my two year anniversary since I made my blog, but also to celebrate the fact that I’d become a born again reader just over 5 years ago. I missed that opportunity but decided that I wanted to post it around my birthday, so here I am.

I always find it a bit funny when I say ‘oh, I became a reader 5 years ago’ because I’ve always been able to read, firstly, but I’ve also enjoyed books my whole life. When I was younger, I was absolutely obsessed with the Rainbow Magic books which I called ‘the fairy books’. I collected all of them and would read them over and over again. I also had a very mild obsession with any book by Cathy Cassidy which then led me to spam the author’s ‘send me a message’ box on her website about how to become a writer because I so desperately wanted to be like her.

That was then followed by my Twilight phase, which was closely followed by my Harry Potter stage, which I haven’t ‘grown’ out of and never will. I proceeded to read basically nothing but Harry Potter and hate on a book that used to be my favourite, Twilight. Honestly, if you took any of the seven books by J.K. Rowling off my shelf between 2009 and probably now, I can guarantee that there is a bookmark in at least one them. It got to the point where I would open Deathly Hallows up and I could start reading from wherever it had fallen open to.

After that, I read The Hunger Games and that was the main subject of my last bookish obsession which was over the Christmas of 2010. Following that obsession, I didn’t really read much up until 2014. I hope you’ll appreciate that I had to go to back 5 years on my Amazon account to find out the date that I bought the book that would push me back into the world of books again. It was the 19th April 2014, I was just out of college, working full time and not entirely sure what I was going to do with my life. All my friends were at University and I didn’t really know many others who were working like me.

It’s safe to say that I felt a little lonely without my friends around which is how I came across book blogs. I can’t remember exactly how I even stumbled onto book blogs, but I did and now I’m here, 5 years down the line. Book blogs were my little safe haven over that year when I was working. I probably shouldn’t admit it, but sometimes when I was bored at work, I’d quickly check over all my favourite book blogs to see if any new posts had gone up. I’d say the most influential blog that really helped me get back into reading was Jamie’s of The Perpetual Page Turner. Jamie introduced me to quite a few books, but the main book I have to thank for me becoming a reader is Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. It will always have a special place in my heart because of the fact that it helped me get into reading again. I haven’t stopped since!

So what does being a reader mean to me?

Being a reader has become an experience I never expected. Being a reader has given me so many opportunities. I became a bookstagrammer because of it after seeing others use the platform to encourage a love of books and to talk about current reads, I started up a (failed) book blog and I started up this blog. This blog has taken a lot of work and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best person for consistently posting but it’s something I’m really proud of. As well as the opportunities I’ve had to create content, I’ve also been to book conventions and signings which have enabled me to meet some of my favourite authors.

The most unexpected but best thing that being has reader has given me over the last 5 years is friends. As I said, when I joined this community, I was feeling a little lonely but I feel far from that now. I have friends from so many different places and I speak to people from all over the world. Being able to make friends and bond with people over books is something truly magical. I’m so lucky that becoming a reader again has given me the chance to meet so many amazing people and I am truly grateful for all the friendships that reading and being a member of this community has given me.

Being a reader is more than just reading books, it’s everything to me now.

Because of reading, I’ve been able to meet authors I love the work of, travel to completely new worlds, gain a better understanding of the world and people. I’ve also been able to go to YALC every year which I never would have known about if I hadn’t joined the book community and I’ve been able to work with several different publishers which has been an incredible and unbelievable experience. Sometimes I do ask myself, how in the world did any of this happen? The simple answer is that I found books again and that has given me all of this which I am so grateful for.

I’d love to hear from you if reading has changed your life too! Have you always been a reader or, like me, did you always enjoy books but properly fall in love with them more recently? Is there a book that made you become a reader?

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

 

Title: Girls of Paper and Fire

Author: Natasha Ngan

Pages: 380

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Published: 2018

Source: Bought (Paperback received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

Rating: ★★★★


Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king.
It’s the highest honour they could hope for…
And the most demeaning.

This year, there’s a ninth girl.
And instead of paper,
She’s made of fire.

Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class in Ikhara. Ten years ago, her mother was snatched by the royal guards, and her fate remains unknown. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl whose golden eyes, whose rumoured beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. There, Lei does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.


Girls of Paper and Fire has been on my TBR since I picked it up at YALC in 2018. I (shamefully) didn’t pick it up until May of this year and I instantly regretted the fact that I had waited so long to get to it.

Before going into this book, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from Girls of Paper and Fire. All I really knew was that it had a pretty cover and that, from the blurb, I was interested to find out more. I did also know that there was quite a bit of hype surrounding this book and that piqued my interest too. I was intrigued to find out why this book had so much hype and whether it would live up to it.

Thoughts

Girls of Paper and Fire is set in Ikhara and follows our main character, Lei. Lei’s mother was taken ten years prior to when we meet her in this story and we can see how that affects her though she is content with her life. Lei is an intriguing character to those in Ikhara because she is the girl with golden eyes, eyes that shouldn’t belong to her. She gets taken from her home to become a Paper Girl at the King’s palace and that is where our story really starts.

Girls of paper and fire by natasha naan lay flat on an open copy of Girls of paper and fire on top of a wooden box, surrounding by a grey blanket. The books cover has a pair of eyes surrounded by hair covering part of the face, with the title in a large font across the bottom two thirds of the book, with the authors name at the bottom. The cover is a dark purple, hot pink with bits of gold throughout the hair covering the face.

I enjoyed the writing of this book and felt that the writing really settled into the story more as the book went on. I did find that the pacing was a little bit slow at first, which could be down to the slight reading slump I was in, but after the first 100-150 pages, I felt that the pace was then consistent until the last 50 or so pages when the plot really began to amp up and everything started to come together. The pacing did work for this book although I did feel it could have been a little quicker, but this did mean that it gave enough time to take in all the information given to us. I found the pacing and writing went well together, especially towards the end.

I did enjoy the plot of this book and found it to be quite interesting but also a little sad at times. The plot centres around Lei and her position of being a Paper Girl along with 8 others. The girls can be both supportive of each other and also mean. I mostly enjoyed the scenes when Lei was with certain characters as they felt more nerve wracking than others. The book explores themes of LGBTQ+ relationships and forbidden love within an environment that especially doesn’t permit it. The book also deals with themes of loss and grief and how both are dealt with. Overall, I thought the plot was interesting and solid.

As mentioned, we follow the character, Lei. Lei is quite a defiant character who deals with a lot throughout this book. After being taken from her family and all that she’s known, the wound of losing her mother is torn open again as she looks for answers as to what happened to her. Lei also fights the system in this story, displaying her strength and belief for what is right. I quite enjoyed her character and felt sorry for the situation that she had been forced into. As well a Lei, there were a few other girls in this book that Lei befriends that I liked. Though the Paper girl’s are not exactly close, we see glimpses of how they feel and because of that, I found myself warming to quite a few of them.

I thought that this was a great novel from Natasha. If you didn’t know, this is not actually her first novel, her first novel, The Elites, was actually on my TBR for a while but I never managed to get to it. Like many, Girls of Paper and Fire is my first introduction to her writing and I’m looking forward to reading more of it.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, I read this book when I was in a little bit of a slump so had I not been in a slump, I do think that I would’ve enjoyed this book more. Because of that, I have given it a more generous rating because I do genuinely think that it would’ve been a top read, had I not been going through a slumpy time. Other than that, I really enjoyed this book and felt that the ending of it has been set up quite well for the sequel. I’m excited to read what happens next in Girls of Storm and Shadow.

Make sure you check out the rest of the posts on this blog tour where you can find plenty of other Girls of Paper and Fire content!

WWW Wednesday || 17/7

WWW Wednesday || 17/7

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted Taking on a World of Words that I thought would be fun to get involved with. It involves answering three WWW questions about recent reads.

This week I’ve read a fairly decent amount, if I do say so myself. I didn’t take full advantage of the weekend for reading but I did manage to get through some graphic novels instead. I’m hoping that I can keep up this momentum for reading but I do really need to start concentrating on revising for my first ACCA exam that I’ll be sitting in August. It’s probably come at a good time as YALC usually puts me in a bit of a reading slump so I can really focus on my exam. But then, I might use reading as a way to procrastinate from revising…who knows?

I’m not sure how much reading I will get done over the next week in all honesty because it’s actually my birthday in two days (19th) and so I have plans all day, although I think I can sneak in a bit of audiobook listening, and then I do have some plans for the weekend. We’ll see how much I can get done but I definitely want to finish my current read over the next week!

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faisal. I wasn’t sure what I was quite in the mood for but it’s on my July TBR and it’s out within the first week of August so I decided to pick it up now. I want to have it finished before YALC as I don’t really want to take it down with me, but also I don’t want to have to put it down half way through and go away for 5 days as I know I’ll find it harder to pick back up again after a short break.

What did you recently finish reading?

Over the last week, I read The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh, which I read the majority of (save for 33 pages) in one evening – the writing is just so addictive! I also read Heartstopper Vol 2. by Alice Oseman and Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I actually only have one YALC book on my TBR for July which I’m planning to read when I go down on the train to London, if I haven’t picked it up before, and that is A Girl Called Shameless by Laura Steven. The last book on my July TBR is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone which I need to read in order to complete my O.W.L.’s ready for the N.E.W.T.’s in August. Both readathons are hosted by BookRoast on Youtube.

What are you reading this week?

The YALC Survival Guide: Tips and Tricks to Help you Survive the Convention

The YALC Survival Guide: Tips and Tricks to Help you Survive the Convention

YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) is fast approaching and I couldn’t be more excited. In case you don’t know, YALC is the biggest UK bookish event that takes place on the last weekend of July every year and is held in London, as part of LFCC (London Film & Comic Con).

2019 is going to be my third year attending YALC and with that, I’d consider myself leaning more toward Veteran status. I thought I would compile a handy little guide of tips and tricks to help you get through YALC. Whether this is your first YALC or you’ve been before, I hope you can take away something from this!

  1. Wear comfy clothes and shoes – This is a pretty standard piece of advice, but after the heat of last year, I feel like I should definitely stress the fact that you will absolutely want comfy clothes and shoes. I’m not sure what the weather will be like this year but definitely try and plan to the it because you don’t want to be too hot if it’s boiling again. Comfy shoes are also a must because you will be on your feet for so much of the day in signing queues and just walking round the convention floor.
  2. Be prepared for a lot of standing – I mean, you can sit on the floor too or try to finding seating but take it that you’ll be standing a lot of the time at YALC, which is also another reason why you should take comfy clothes and shoes with you.
  3. Take a backpack, especially if you’re there all weekend – I wouldn’t recommend taking a shoulder or cross body bag unless you aren’t taking a lot of books around with you. Backpacks are honestly your best friend at an event like this. The past two years I’ve taken a small backpack with me and then have ended up with tote bags full of books. My shoulders do start to hurt after a while and so this year, I’m taking a larger backpack (only a school sized one) and I think this will be much better for me as the weight of the books will be spread across my back rather than on just one side.
  4. Try to pack lightly before YALC, you’ll be taking a lot of books home – Both years I’ve come back with a LOT of books including the books I’ve taken down with me. When I say a lot of books, I mean way more than I actually intended to bring back. Both years I’ve taken a small suitcase with me and a holdall just in case and both times I’ve needed the holdall because apparently I have no self control. I’d suggest trying to pack lightly for your way there, but the other alternative is to just take a bigger suitcase. I’ll be taking a medium sized suitcase down with me this year just because I really cannot be bothered to try and cram a load of books into a smaller one. Plus I know I’ll probably end up hauling a load of books back with me. So your options on this one: pack lightly, or if you know you’re taking a lot of books down, just take a bigger case.
  5. Try to be organised – Organisation is your new best friend when it comes to YALC. I’ll be doing a separate post on how I stayed organised myself last year because it honestly did wonders for me at the event and helped me know exactly where I needed to be and when. I’ll be organising myself the same way this year so I’ll absolutely be sharing that with you guys.
  6. Twitter and battery packs – Sounds a little weird but make sure you have your Twitter notifications on for publishers whilst at YALC. I’m not sure how much they’ll be tweeting this year, but the past two years, they’ve been announcing when ARCs that they’re giving out will be dropping so its useful to have these turned on. If you do turn them on though, be warned because you’ll want a battery pack for your phone and you might also want to watch your phone data!
  7. Make sure you have snacks and water – The days at YALC can be so long and you’ll probably find that you’re inside all day. I’d absolutely recommend having snacks and water on hand at all times. Unfortunately with the heat last year, there weren’t any water fountains but hopefully YALC will make accommodate fountains this year but who knows? There is a small cafe in the venue and several other food vendors in LFCC but if you’d like the cheaper option (which we probably all do), there is a Tesco Express just across the road from YALC.
  8. Make sure you have plenty of money – Probably a bit late to give you this tip as we only have one more payday between now and YALC but I’d recommend taking plenty of money with you. The publisher stands at YALC have quite a few discounts that you may want to take advantage of but there’s also a Waterstones stand so if you don’t have a book for an author to sign, you can purchase it there. There’s also the opportunity to buy books that have been released early at YALC. My advice is to take more than you’ll need just in case. That way if you need it, you’ve got it and if you don’t use it all, then you’ve got money left over!
  9. Take a look at the map beforehand – You’ll want to have a look at the map beforehand as it’ll tell you where each vendor is. It’ll also help you get organised as if there’s an early copy of a book you really want, you don’t want to be running round like a headless chicken because you can’t find the booth you need to be at!
  10. Take a lanyard or some form of identification if you’re a blogger or booktuber – Lanyards are great things to take if you’re a blogger or booktuber. YALC is a great way to meet not only friends, but also publishers and it can give you the chance to really establish connections. I took one last year and whilst I consider myself fairly unknown in the book community, it was nice to be able to talk to publishers and say that I have a blog.
  11. Head down to LFCC – Not exactly a YALC tip but all YALC goers have access to the LFCC floor which I would definitely recommend going down to and checking out. There are loads more vendors down there and it’s just so fun seeing all the cosplays.
  12. Have fun! – YALC is the biggest YA convention in the UK and it’s also the convention that people travel from afar too. It has a great atmosphere and it’s so nice to see everyone without screens and the distance between each other. Don’t be afraid to be excited if there’s a book you want or an author you love because we all feel that way about another book or author and we’re all here because of our love of books. The most important thing about YALC is that you do have fun. Some of my best memories are from YALC and I really look forward to it every year.

I hope these tips are helpful and that they can help you get yourself prepared for the convention. Look at for my post on how I get organised for YALC which will be coming soon!

Review: Finale by Stephanie Garber

Review: Finale by Stephanie Garber

 

Title: Finale

Author: Stephanie Garber

Pages: 468

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Published: 2019

Source: Bought (also received an early copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

Rating: ★★★★★


Welcome, welcome to Caraval…all games must come to an end.

It’s been two months since the last Caraval concluded, two months since the Fates have been freed from an enchanted deck of cards, two months since Tella has seen Legend, and two months since Legend claimed the empire’s throne as his own. Now, Legend is preparing for his official coronation and Tella is determined to stop it. She believes her own mother, who still remains in an enchanted sleep, is the rightful heir to the throne.

Meanwhile, Scarlett has started a game of her own. She’s challenged Julian and her former fiancé, Count Nicolas d’Arcy, to a competition where the winner will receive her hand in marriage. Finaly, Scarlett feels as if she is in complete control over her life and future. She is unaware that her mother’s past has put her in the greatest danger of all.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun―with lives, empires, and hearts all at stake. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win…and those who will lose everything.


If you know me, you’ll know that I absolutely love the Caraval series by Stephanie Garber and that it is actually one of my favourite series in the entire world. Because of that, Finale was one of my top three most anticipated reads of 2019 and I had high expectations going into it. It’s always a little scary going into a book that you have high expectations for because of the worry that it won’t live up to the hype or it won’t live up to the ideas you have in your headd but I was left feeling happy with the way that this series concluded.

Like both Caraval and Legendary, Finale was full of magic. I was expecting this book to feature a game that was more risky than the last and to be full of more adventure. I was not disappointed and it definitely met the expectations I had for it. It featured all the magic and adventure that I’ve loved ever since I first read Caraval back in 2017 and I just loved being back in this world with all the characters I’ve come to know and love.

Thoughts

Without spoiling too much, Finale is set in the same place as in Legendary and features much of the same characters from the previous book. It follows on from the events of Legendary fairly closely afterwards and of course, features another one of the famous games of Caraval. Although, as already mentioned, the stakes are higher in this book and the magic more prominent than ever before.

Unlike the previous two books, this book features two points of view, both of which we have read from already, those being Scarlett and Tella. I quite liked being able to go between the two and was happy that Stephanie had made the decision with this book to actually write it from both PoVs as opposed to just the one. I liked following both of the sisters as I think that in this book, they both have fairly unique PoVs. As well as seeing both Scarlett and Tella in this book, we also see a few other characters that are heavily featured in the previous two books which re both important to both Scarlett and Tella’s storylines.

The writing in this one was much the same as the previous two books. It was fast paced, magical and had me wanting to read and turn every page as fast as I could. I was completely engrossed in the story as the writing has a certain way of just pulling me into the story. I felt that the writing was quite descriptive, meaning that I was able to imagine things quite clearly in my mind – something that the map at the front of each book is also quite helpful in aiding. The writing definitely helps to make the plot more fast paced as it pulls you forwards through the story.

I really enjoyed the plot of this book. It felt a little different to the plot of the previous two books as it felt like there were more twists and turns and that there was also more complications to deal with and resolve throughout this book, however that kept it interesting. I felt quite invested in the story but also in characters as I already knew them. It was quite comforting to step into a world with characters that I already familiar with. Stephanie makes it she easy to just fall into the plots of her books.

This book does deal with quite a few differing themes including love, family, friendship, forgiveness and healing. All of these are explored in some detail throughout this book, particularly love and family.

Final Thoughts

Finale was such a good book and I’m so glad that my expectations of it were met. I thought that Finale was a great conclusion to this magical series. Although I definitely felt like I was left wanting more, I did also feel quite satisfied by this book. Although we won’t be getting any more books in this series, I’m looking forward to reading whatever Stephanie brings out next. If you’re looking for a magical and fast paced read, I’d absolutely recommend checking this out. If you need anymore encouragement, you can read my post on 5 reasons to read the Caraval series here.

Remember, it’s only a game…

WWW Wednesday || 10/7

WWW Wednesday || 10/7

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted Taking on a World of Words that I thought would be fun to get involved with. It involves answering three WWW questions about recent reads.

Over the last week, I’ve actually read a fair amount! I’m quite happy that I’ve essentially made up for about a week of not reading anything by reading 3 this week. Here’s to hoping I can keep that up for the next few weeks, especially with YALC coming up!

What are you currently reading?

I just picked up The Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh last night after I finished The Wrath and the Dawn.

What did you recently finish reading?

I finished S.T.A.G.S. by MA Bennett and I have to say, I didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much as I thought I would which was disappointing. I then read Book Love by Debbie Tung, which was a cute book full of bookish cartoons. I then finished The Wrath and the Dawn just last night!

What do you think you’ll read next?

Depending on when I finish my current read, I’ll be moving onto We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faisal which is released in the UK in August. I want to read it before I head to YALC, ideally.

What are you reading this week?