book reviews, spoiler free

The Starlight Watchmaker review

44097002The Starlight Watchmaker by Lauren James

Rating: XXXXX

Published July 15th by Barrington Stoke

“Doesn’t it get tiring being judged for who you are all the time?” Ada asked, “and treated like you’re less than other people?”

Wealthy students from across the galaxy come to learn at the prestigious academy where Hugo toils as a watchmaker. But he is one of the lucky ones. Many androids like him are jobless and homeless. Someone like Dorian could never understand their struggle – or so Hugo thinks when the pompous duke comes banging at his door. But when Dorian’s broken time-travel watch leads them to discover a sinister scheme, the pair must reconcile their differences if they are to find the culprit in time.

A wildly imaginative sci-fi adventure from YA star Lauren James, particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 13+

At the Quiet at the End of the World event a few months back Lauren announced that she would be releasing a novella with Barrington Stoke later this year and as time went on we got a title, a cover reveal and synopsis for The Starlight Watchmaker which I’ve been excited for ever since.

I don’t normally go into much detail about publishers but I really wanted to rave about Barrington Stoke for a moment. They are a fantastic publisher who have been helping dyslexic and reluctant readers for over twenty years by working with writers and illustrators to publish super readable books as well as adding little adjustments like using a unique, dyslexia-friendly font specially created to make reading easier, Accessible layouts and spacing stop the page from becoming overcrowded and even Heavier paper with a gentle tint helps reduce visual stresses, their motto is every child can be a reader and I think reading can be so daunting for young children today that we need to do everything we can to create a space and opportunity for all readers, including those who might be reluctant or have difficulty reading for pleasure. I had read a couple of Non Pratt’s books published by Barrington Stoke previously and loved the shorter book format and just how effortless they felt to read which can be really motivating and confidence building.

I reached out to Barrington Stoke about Lauren’s new title and the lovely Kirstin sent me a proof to review in exchange for an honest review. At just 128 pages it is an extremely short read but oh the wonders Lauren can work with 128 pages. The Starlight Watchmaker is set in a universe that feels like magic and science, the academy that Dorian attends and Hugo works at is incredibly diverse, full of all kinds of sentient creatures from across the galaxy. It was absolutely refreshing to read all of these fantastic descriptions of different races and species, I was fascinated in particular with one of my favourite characters, a student like Dorian called Ada (Lady Ada de Winters – short for Adedeneumdora) who is essentially a mountain that can walk around and will eventually become a planet all of her own just like her mother, the planet Zumia. She’s well spoken, smart and fantastically quirky as well as being a brilliant departure from the usual humanoid looking alien lifeforms we usually see.

Hugo is an android and an absolute sweetheart who I love, he’s a hard worker making the best of a bad situation who enjoys what he does and is mostly content but finds himself yearning for more, things like friendship and freedom, not to mention he really likes plants. Our other main character, Dorian is a fifth-year student but also a Duke who comes to Hugo for help but comes across a little brusque at first and perhaps a bit to forward which could be misconstrued negatively but I think he really grows and learns over the course of the story and you learn more about him as well as Hugo and see how they react to each other.

Somehow, even in under 200 pages Lauren managed to fit a nice little twist into the story, the plot is simple but honestly all the more enjoyable for it, the narrative is fast flowing and straight forward but conveys every detail and emotion needed. This entire book is akin to a nice chilled glass of juice on a hot day or that feeling when you step out of your morning shower, it’s refreshing and soothing and the moment I finished it after reading it the first time I managed to put it down for five minutes before I decided to pick it back up and read it all over again. The story is well rounded and unlike with some short-form works where I find myself  wanting more in an unsatisfied way, I found The Starlight Watchmaker to be the perfect bite-size piece of cake, it felt complete and whole and I felt like I’d been on a journey after reading it which is why I read, to be whisked away on adventures and feel a better person at the other end. This is a beautiful tale of friendship and I cannot recommend it enough.

The Starlight Watchmaker will be available on July 15th, don’t let it’s smaller size fool you, it’s a fantastic little read and one that can definitely be enjoyed by a variety of ages.

Advertisements
spoiler free, WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday 22nd May 2019

So WWW Wednesday from Sam at Taking on a World of Words is back (it didn’t go anywhere I just didn’t take part last week), instead of every week I’m planning to do this every fortnight instead to prevent it from being very repetitive as I don’t often read especially fast but if you want more updates however feel free to check out my Goodreads account.

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Nexus by Lindsay Cummings and Sasha Alsberg. I’ve been excited to read this since finishing Zenith a couple of years back. Zenith had some problems I feel but overall I really liked the premise and story and knew I wanted to come back for the next instalment. I’m just shy of halfway through and there have been slow moments here and there but overall I’m really enjoying it and can’t wait to see how it all ends!

What did you recently finish reading?

The last book I finished was The Starlight Watchmaker by Lauren James, it’s the first novella I’ve read in a little while and it really made me miss short form stories (more to come soon!) It was a super cute read and especially powerful for such a tiny book, I can’t wait to share my review with you.

What do you think you’ll read next?

It wasn’t on my original TBR but my next read will be X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga by Stuart Moore. I hadn’t realised it was coming out but when I saw it pop up on my Twitter feed I knew I needed to read it. The Dark Phoenix Saga is one of my all-time favourite comic arcs and I’m so excited to see it in novel form, not to mention the film is out pretty soon now so I’m feeling all the Jean Grey hype.

What are you reading at the moment? What did you read last? What are you planning to read next? Let me know in the comments or leave links to your own WWW Wednesday posts.

Briefing note: In case you didn’t see my post on Twitter yesterday I just wanted to apologise for the lack of review this week. I had one all written and scheduled to go as I’ve been back and forwards to a ton of different appointments these past few weeks for me and my little man so it felt good to have posts in place still that I didn’t have to worry about until I realised I had a release date for yesterdays review totally wrong by a big difference and I just didn’t have the time or ability to change it or write a new one in time. Instead, I’ll be posting a different review this week instead and possibly a video by the weekend with any luck! Thank you all for bearing with me and I hope if anyone did manage to read the review before I took it down again that you enjoyed it. Normal schedule will be resumed next week. 

book talk, Bookish Discuussions

Lauren James – The Q&A at the End of the World

53224052_378396186074861_4618236736906985472_n

Happy release day to The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James today! You may have seen my spoiler-free book review earlier in the week but today I’m so excited to share with you a Q&A session Lauren was lovely enough to do for me despite her busy schedule so thank you so much Lauren for finding the time so close to launch and the team at Walker Books for setting this up for me, it’s not every day you get to interview one of you’re favourite authors!

I loved hearing about the physics question that ultimately served as inspiration for The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, was there anything in particular that inspired you to create The Quiet at the end of the World?

I was reading a lot of science non-fiction, which I try to do as often as possible because it always inspires new ideas for my writing. I was reading Seven Brief Lessons in Physics, which was discussing extinction.
It said, “We are a short-lived genus of species. All our cousins are already extinct. We are perhaps the only species on Earth to be conscious of the inevitability of our own mortality. I fear that soon we shall also become the only species that will knowingly watch the coming of its own collective demise, or at least the demise of its civilisation.”
It was the first time it occurred to me that it is a one hundred per cent probability that the human race will one day go extinct. It might be a hundred years from now or a hundred billion years, but it’s going to happen.
Which means that there’s probably going to be the last generation of people who will know that they’re the last people to ever live. That seemed to me to be an incredibly pressured situation to find yourself in, especially if there’s no hope of a cure.

Lowrie and Shen often wonder just what mark they might leave on the world after they’ve gone and how they might leave a message for others to find in the future, what would you leave and how?

Ooh, good question! I would love to create some kind of message in hedgerows. You know how hedgerows around fields in England have been there since medieval times? I’d write a message across miles of space by planting hedges to create letters. Super long term, large scale communication!

What skill would you most like to learn from the surviving populace in the lead up to the extinction of the human race?
Lowrie and Shen learn loads of stuff, like mudlarking and kickboxing and engineering. I think if it was me, I’d want to learn something really useful like first aid and medicine. Knowing how to set a broken bone seems like it would be totally vital.
Creatively, I think I’d like to learn how to make stained glass from scratch. Just because that’s something I’m planning to take up as a hobby myself anyway!

Time travel has featured heavily in your books before and in Quiet Lowrie asks Shen, “If you got one turn in a time machine, what time period would you visit?” How would you answer this question yourself?

Such great questions! I became slightly obsessed with the Cambrian explosion when I was writing the book, which was 500 million years ago when life on Earth was evolving. I would definitely go and take a look at that in person. This is also Shen’s answer, because we are pretty similar people.

At the start of each chapter, we see an entry in Shen and Lowrie’s Discovery Log book, (the beanie baby tag was my favourite) other than the ones that were more plot-relevant how did you pick the others?
A few of them are things that I’ve personally found, either at car boot sales or at the tip or genuinely in the ground. Others are ones I’ve seen on mudlarking social media accounts (yes, that’s a real thing – tidelineart is my favourite.) And a few are my wishlist items of things I’d love to find one day!

Did you have a favourite one and were there any you were particularly fond of that didn’t make it into the finished book?
I actually split up scenes to make more chapters so I could use all the ones I wanted! I was quite selfish about it, because I liked them so much. My editor wasn’t sure the logbook entries would work, but I persuaded her to let me write them – and I’m very happy with how they turned out.

We see a lot of struggles throughout this book but also adapting and working through difficult times, was there anything in particular that you struggled with while writing Quiet and did you have to adapt to solve any problems?

Finding Lowrie’s character was quite tough. I really wanted to write about another female scientist, as I do in all my books, but I didn’t want Lowrie to feel exactly like Romy or Clove. So it took me a while to find the right style of intelligence for her – she’s an engineer, so she’s very physical and thinks in terms of the mechanics of things, but struggles with the more fact-based side. Once I had worked that out, she clicked into place, but it did take a while to get her voice right.

We learn about characters Maya and Riz through old posts on social media, what do you think future generations might think of us if they were to see a slice of the activity we experience on social media today?

I think they’d be completely perplexed by how much we were all focussed on politics and debates over land boundaries, when we should have been trying to reverse climate change and save the world. We’re on the brink of destroying the planet and I think in the future it’s going to seem crazy that we knew that and yet did nothing about it.

I couldn’t finish this Q&A without asking about Mitch, a firm favourite in my heart and I couldn’t help but wonder how you decided which coloured lights to use for different answers and reactions? Did you have a list or go with what felt right? As a reader, I felt that the colours fit with his emotional responses really well and helped to build his personality for me.

I love Mitch too! The coloured lights were a very late addition – originally he made beeping noises. When I changed it to flashing lights, everything clicked into place. I definitely didn’t make a list or think too much about it – I just chose them instinctively. I like to imagine that the lights are part of a broken LED screen that would have originally displayed actual pictures and text. But only a few of the LED lights still work, so the lights seem to appear at random.

Lauren James was born in 1992 and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. She is the Carnegie-nominated British Young Adult author of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, The Quiet at the End of the World and The Next Together series.
She started writing during secondary school English classes, because she couldn’t stop thinking about a couple who kept falling in love throughout history. She sold the rights to the novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university.
Her books have sold over fifty thousand copies in the UK alone and been translated into five languages worldwide. She has been described as ‘Gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘A strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly.
Her other novels include The Last Beginning, named one of the best LGBT-inclusive works for young adults by the Independent, and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, which was inspired by a Physics calculation she was assigned at university. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. The Quiet at the End of the World considers the legacy and evolution of the human race into the far future.
Lauren is published in the UK by Walker Books and in the US by HarperCollins. She lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the Guardian, Buzzfeed, Den of Geek, The Toast, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2020. She lectures in creative writing at Coventry University, and works with Writing West Midlands, providing creative writing courses to children through the Spark Young Writers programme.
You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James, Tumblr at @laurenjames or her website http://www.laurenejames.co.uk, where you can subscribe to her newsletter to be kept up to date with her new releases and receive bonus content.

book reviews, spoiler free

The Quiet at the End of the World

32716442The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James

Rating: XXXXX

Published: March 7th by Walker books

“We live in the quiet at the end of the world. The slow winding-down clockwork motions before life stops completely. Time is slipping through our fingers.

How far would you go to save those you love?
Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking for artefacts from history and looking for treasure in their once-opulent mansion.

Their idyllic life is torn apart when a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice . . .

I’ve been SO excited about this book! Since Lauren revealed her next book would be about the two youngest people left alive on earth I was already intrigued and then as we got more and more information this easily became one of my most anticipated reads of this year. I was lucky enough to be gifted an early finished copy from Walker Books in exchange for an honest review and I genuinely screamed a little when I opened a package and found this gorgeous book inside. Reader, you will not be shocked I think, to hear that I was certainly not disappointed by any means and I will do my best to keep this review as coherent as possible, I promise.

The Quiet at the end of the World is a stand-alone story, so although I recommend Lauren’s other books (especially the Loneliest Girl in the Universe) you don’t need to have read them to enjoy this book and not connected to each other (at least in anyway that seems apparent at the moment) so don’t worry if this is your first Lauren James book!

The Quiet at the End of the World features a one-page prologue and if I had needed any more persuasion to read this book this would have absolutely tipped me over the edge. It’s simple yet super effective and quintessentially a style I have become to identify as Laurens. The rest of the book itself is paced exceedingly well, moments that might have otherwise been a little quiet and slower paced, like the beginning are sprinkled with great pieces of information to help you create this eerie, mostly abandoned and degraded vision of London that main characters Lowrie and Shen inhabit as what their day to day life consists of and what it means for them and the people around them. The book only continues to up the pace as the story unfolds and let me tell you it is a wild ride!! The plot is so cleverly put together, filled with breadcrumbs and questions and more mysteries but in true Lauren James fashion, even when I thought I knew where everything was going she STILL managed to pull a fast one on me and knock me for six. Unfortunately for me, this happened at one in the morning when I had decided to just read one more chapter, I nearly gave my poor husband a heart attack and didn’t sleep until the sun was already starting to peek through the bedroom curtains.

52703757_326794144856054_4360831564376965120_n

Somehow it just manages to get even better from there and although there are some slower moments here and there for you to catch your breath they are, again filled with brilliant and useful information in the form of social media posts from Maya and Riz who I would also consider main characters in this book and to me, every bit as important as Lowrie and Shen. Not going to lie, I’m dreading the thought of anyone ever going back to look at my social media posts, heck I wrote them and even I hate going back over them sometimes!

The characters in Quiet felt so memorable and real, like most of the other information in this book it felt organic as we learnt so much about everyone. Although Lowrie and Shen are probably considered the main characters, as above I would argue that Maya and Riz are equally important and I felt that I knew them almost as well as Lowrie and Shen to some degree. There’s also Mitch the bot who is honestly the loveliest, sweetest thing and I love him to pieces despite his seemingly limited mode of communication which I think is Quiet possibly one of my favourite things in the book, it was done so well and although Mitch cannot communicate with words, Lauren has done a brilliant job at having his personality shine through regardless. There is, as expected a little romance in this book and it didn’t overly bother me as it felt so natural, I enjoyed the relationships that were present with or without the romantic element and although one or two times I did feel that I definitely read those bits faster on occasion to get back to the “main story” I still enjoyed them. Lauren has a gift for creating great connections and wholesome, healthy relationships that I will never get sick of.

This book made me cry, it made me laugh and it made me yell uncontrollably at 1am and I would absolutely do it all over again. I would say I wish it was longer as I read it in under forty-eight hours but I think it was honestly a perfect length, I will definitely have to read it again at least a few times and I cannot wait to do so. Lauren James is both an evil genius and a wizard with the spell she weaves with her newest book, it’s essentially a dystopia but it’s so full of warmth, love and light, a book that sounds like it should make you feel hopeless and impossibly small instead inspires hope and a greater sense of worth and your place in the world and the legacy of the human race. The Quiet at the End of the World is classed as a Young Adult book but I think it could appeal to any age group who feels comfortable with the subject, there is a lot of reflection and contemplation that can be done about the human race and its future as well as what exactly makes us human which I think could lead to some great discussions and certainly makes one reflect on themselves and future generations. The Quiet at the End of the World is out Thursday March 7th and defintley well worth checking out!

Stay tuned for all things Quiet at the end of the World this week, already lined up I have a special Q&A with author Lauren James, coverage of the Quiz at the end of the world event and a book talk video. I’m so excited I’ve even whipped up a mood board below for the occasion.

Are you excited to read The Quiet at the End of the World? Have you checked out any of Lauren’s other books? What would you do if you were one of the yongest people left alive on earth?

D0bWOrFWwAAzaHe.jpg large

 

 

 

 

book reviews, spoiler free

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe Review

32601841.jpgThe Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

Rating: XXXXX

Published September 7th 2017 by Walker Books

“Love takes so much energy, and it just leads to pain. I think it’s probably best for people to be self-sufficient. If I was strong enough to be independent, then I wouldn’t be so desperately lonely. I’m sure of it,”

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?

Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.

Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.

But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?

Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .

I stumbled across this beautiful book at YALC in 2017 on early sale at the Waterstones stand and although to me it looked like it was probably just a contemporary, maybe set in space? (I know contemporaries can be good too, I’m just not usually as interested in them). After I read the blurb I figured it was maybe a cross of Fangirl and the lake house somehow? Either way, I couldn’t say no to that shiny, sparkly cover. That and on behalf of Walker to celebrate the books release I’d just had a sparkly makeover so figured the least I could do was to check out the book they were promoting (and that sweet sweet cover). I had no idea that The Loneliest Girl would end up being one of my absolute favourite books. Two years later and now eagerly awaiting Lauren’s new book “The Quiet at the End of the World” which is out in early March, I decided to revisit the book that started it all for me, “The Loneliest Girl in the Universe.”

20429854_10154585038311581_4739497302352058764_n.jpg

The first time I read The Loneliest Girl I found out far too late that this book is a thriller. It starts off fluffy and light, very much in the vein of Fangirl, despite the darker sides to Romy’s backstory and her situation it feels like boy meets girl but are thousands beyond thousands of miles away from each other, cute emailing ensues etc. When I realised it was a thriller it was far too late to turn back, I was utterly hooked and terrified at the same time. I want to say that it’s different the second time around but to be honest it still pulls you in, lulls you into a false sense of security and makes you complacent so that when it really gets going you still feel like you’ve hit the floor at the bottom of the stairs when you were convinced there was one more step. This book is a wild ride that will not let you go, as the story goes on you recognise that feeling when you know something bad is going to happen but you can’t stop looking anyway and it is WORTH IT.

51748854_383029572490458_2357272953365725184_n

Romy is a fantastic character, she’s realistic and relatable despite living her entire life on a spaceship she is wracked with anxiety and real fears and wants that just really hit a note with me and from having spoken to others who have read this she has the same effect on them as well. There are only a small number of characters in this book and I think in a lot of other books I might have found that boring but it works so well with The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, it adds to Romy’s isolation and you feel how important any kind of communication between the small number of characters really is and makes you appreciate them all the more which I imagine is the same case for Romy. This is one of my favourite aspects of the book because it really puts you in Romy’s shoes and heightens so much of the story.

The science is fantastic and fairly easy to wrap your head around instead of the pages of confusing words that don’t actually make sense together or sound ridiculous like you find in some Science Fiction books, strangely especially the adult ones… I now realise after having read Lauren’s other books that this is always a defining feature as well as featuring female scientists in prominent roles which gets a huge thumbs up from me! I actually found out after reading this book for the first time that it was inspired by a physics calculation Lauren was tasked with completing while at university! How cool is that?!

52065921_832516483784362_4803701220113907712_n

If for some reason you haven’t checked this book out yet I highly recommend you do so, it’s only a short read and you can even buy a personalised and signed copy from Lauren’s Etsy store (it’s a dangerous place) there are pin badges and different versions of the books of which I now own all of…my personal favourite is the doodle in my US copy of a space cat because I like space. and cats. You get the idea. Don’t forget you can also preorder The Quiet at the end of the World, I just read the prologue and I HAVE CHILLS.

52373464_553774801772563_4573247938028896256_n

book reviews, spoiler free

The Last Beginning Review

24550848The Last Beginning by Lauren James

Rating: XXXXX

Published October 6th 2016 by Walker Books

’Clove Sutcliffe, you are doing things no human has ever done before. You are groundbreaking. You are unique. Do not cease to function due to inappropriate emotional weakness.

The epic conclusion to Lauren James’s debut The Next Together about true love and reincarnation.

Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives.

But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove’s investigation?

For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future, and failure could cost the world everything.

After I finished The Next Together I dove STRAIGHT into its sequel The Last Beginning and this book was even more than I had hoped it would be. Although technically chronological (sort of) it IS a sequel it feels like so much more than that, it feels almost like a puzzle piece we didn’t quite realise was missing from the first book or an extra dimension to it as well as a following on from it as well as happening at the same time in points and…Okay it’s hard to explain which is kind of a part of why I loved it so much, I like books that make you smack your self in the head and yell “of course! How had I not noticed or picked up on that before I’m such an idiot” etc and this book had a lot of that and “ooooh” “ahhhh” and “of course that makes sense!”

I’m not sure who I loved more, Clove who makes some questionable choices (don’t we all) but ultimately does her best and feels like a character I know inside out, Ella, the “love of Clove’s life” who is brash, cocky and overconfident but wants to help and do the right thing just as much as Clove does OR Katherine and Matthew who I didn’t quite realise until reading this and their extra short story (which I’ll be reviewing next!) may actually be my favorite couple ever and lets not get started on Spart the sassy A.I who loves to watch soap operas. Turns out I love them all for different reasons and that’s what really made this book for me, yes I may not have liked a lot of the things Ella said for did at times but that’s just how she was and it made sense and as I’ve noticed in another book I read this week you don’t have to like an agree with a character’s behaviour or actions for them to be a character you enjoy or appreciate.

I’ll admit I did find some of the time travel staff rather confusing but honestly when it’s it a little brain ache inducing? Clove’s timeline is chock full of paradoxes and it kind of gets explained how that works a little but I just spent 15 minutes trying to explain it and I have no words but I promise you it kind of makes sense when described articulately. Articulate description is another reason I enjoyed this reason so much, even when time travel was making my brain hurt it made sense, (mostly) everything was described in a reasonable way and made sense even if the paradox explanation seems a little vague but we’re talking time travel here so how it works is more speculation anyway. The Last Beginning however breathes a bit more life into the idea.

39115531_661948514191475_8998666752451674112_n.jpg

Speaking of breathing more life into ideas this book completes The Next Together for me and has raised my (already fairly high) opinion of it. This book has the questions to my answers and I have to keep reminding myself they are in fact in two seperate books. I aplaude Lauren James for being able to keep all of this (the timeline especially)  in her mind for long enough to get it to the page and to have done so in such an interesting, intriguing and fun way while also telling us the stories of these people along the way, it’s honestly fantastic.

It feels strange to give this book a XXXXX and The Next Together XXXX when although I loved the heck out of this book I now feel like the first is my favourite but it is the happenings and events that occur in THIS book that add to my appreciation of its predecessor so I feel changing my ratings would be unfair. If you are considering trying this duology I recommend buying both books at the same time so you can dive out of one and straight into the sequel, you will not be dissapointed.

Also most importantly Romy, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is mentioned by name (and title) at the end of The Last Beginning and honestly that just made me whole day.

Mini review to come of the two Next Together novellas later this week.

 

 

Events

YALC Day Two Recap

38033533_10155377690551581_3846537689134268416_n

Day Two of my YALC recap is here (yes two weeks later I’m aware). The Saturday of YALC was a great one but easily the most grueling. I had a lot of signings I wanted to get to, three of which were straight after a panel and with very popular authors but I’ll go into more detail about that later.

My first stop of the morning was to the Hot Key Books stand where I signed up for a Siren makeover and grabbed a copy of To Kill a Kingdom to get signed by author Alexandra Christi, I had a digital ARC of the book and loved it so knew I had to get a hard copy. The lovely ladies at the stall also made an easy extra two book sales by informing me that M.A Bennett would be around to sign books later too so I grabbed a copy of The Island and then also telling me that their books were 3 for £10 and I nabbed a copy of Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray after loving her work on Star Wars: Bloodline and Leia, plus I was in a very spacey kind of mood.

38000400_10155377689611581_991614361309020160_n

37971802_10155377689871581_2064893016035819520_n

On the way to get my Siren make up done I also paid a quick visit to the Ink Road Stall after having a lovely chat with the ladies there the day before. I figured I’d pop over and say hi, see how they were doing etc and I also wanted to pick up a sampler for Summer Bird Blue when I spot Akemi Dawn Bowman just sitting behind the stand  – which is fine she’s an actual human being who is allowed to sit etc but I just hadn’t expected it as she wasn’t signing until Sunday. I mumbled about how much I loved Starfish and then got super nervous and kind of ran away. I’m an idiot but plucked up the courage after a quick sit down and a drink to head back and say hi properly. She was SO lovely and signed my sampler for me as I wouldn’t have my copy of Starfish with me until the next day and we took a picture together, it was lovely and was a super awesome start to the day. Apart from the running away bit obviously.

37979847_10155377689696581_6838901022698504192_n

Next up were the signings for the Floored authors! For some reason I assumed that all of the authors would perhaps be at a table together and we’d all queue in one line then when we got to the front we would work our way across each of the authors and DONE. Alas it was not to be! I think I got this idea from the fact that all of the authors were represented on the timetable by a picture of the Floored book cover whereas when they’d been shown on other days they had different pictures, i.e Non’s was Giant days (and I’m an idiot and didn’t take Floored for her to sign with me when I met her then!). The way it was shown said to me that it was a special signing session for Floored but I was horrified to discover when I got to the signing area that we actually had to queue individually for almost every one of the authors and they were NOT small queues by any stretch of the imagination. I managed to only miss Melinda Sailsbury and Non Pratt in the end telling myself I was likely to see them at more events and possibly YALC next year thankfully as I absolutely had to sit down for a but and have something to drink etc. I’d brought a big bottle of juice squash I’d left in the freezer over night and it was an absolute live saver each day so I’ll definitely be doing that again next year.

38746724_2149667351729905_1261963865189515264_n

As you can see I managed to bump into Melinda Sailsbury later on and she was more than happy to sign my copy of Floored for me as she was a bit miffed that the Showmasters staff cut her queue off and didn’t tell her when she was more than happy to keep on signing. As much as I liked the extra space we have on the YALC floor I wonder if it’s time for a bit more of a move around so we have more space for signing queues or a better application of the virtual queue ticketing which I think is a great idea when used right.

Before heading off to the “Among the Stars” panel I met up with a load of the girls from the SundayYA group and got a few group pictures taken (one of which is the header for this post). Again it was lovely seeing everyone and OH MY GOSH Layla’s Kaz cosplay was STUNNING.

38008785_10155377689996581_1271387495883341824_n

I was SO excited for the Among the Stars panel that I can’t even explain. I literally wore a spacey outfit for the occasion. The panel featured Becky Chambers, Lauren James, Lindsay Cummings, Sasha Alsberg and was chaired by Samantha Shannon. The panel was to discuss space and creating worlds that none of us have had the chance to go to except in our authors wonderful books and it did NOT disappoint. I was lucky enough to even be able to ask a question (who would you chose to take to space with you?). Not to mention at the end of the talk Lauren James revealed the cover for her new book “The Quiet at the End of the World which I am SO SO ready for already. Also look at this cover it’s gorgeous!!

37984079_10155377690291581_1599672350490492928_n

Next were the dreaded signings. I had been anxious all day about getting to all three authors in their two-hour signing slots because they’re so very popular. I joined the Sasha Alsberg queue first and was super pleased to have managed to get in quite near the front. We (me and Mel) were in fact in the first thirty which meant we won a Geeky Clean Zenith Bath Bomb (which I had inadvertently helped design while wicking candles for a super secret NPC thing). Meeting Sasha was AMAZING. I could talk and talk about Zenith and my copy is FULL of tabs as it was my very first ARC/review copy I had ever had and I’d read it twice so I mean it when I say it is FULL of these little tabs. Sasha loved going through asking me what each colour meant and I was a little embarrassed as a few were frustrated or annoyed bits but she told me it means so much to see a copy of her book like that and I thought I was going to cry which is totally lame. Sasha’s channel was the very first booktube chanel I ever watched and she got me hooked on Shadowhunters so I’m so glad I got to meet someone who had already had such an impact on me. It was also so lovely that she had brought bookplates signed by Lindsay along with her too as Lindsay couldn’t make it as she’s getting ready to have her baby soon and it was such a nice little touch. P.S Don’t ask about the picture we had taken together because I made a face at Steph and that was the picture I got so I’ll include one of us talking while she went though my tabs instead!

38057383_10155377690121581_7633402584421629952_n

37989692_10155377690546581_3564645585199824896_n

While I was in the queue for Sasha I started to feel a bit dismayed about getting through the other queues as they were building fast. Thankfully the lovely Jenn and her boyfriend were next to us in the Becky Chambers queue and her boyfriend offered to take mine to get it signed which I am super grateful for as I don’t think I would have been able to make it through all of them. I do wonder whether YALC need to consider the types of authors they’re all having signing at the same time and weather or not these are authors people are going to want to meet all of and perhaps stagger them a bit more?

Thankfully I did manage to make it through the queue to meet Lauren James! I absolutely LOVED her book that released early at YALC last year “The Loneliest Girl In The Universe” and was that weekend actually reading her debut book “The Next Together” (which I reviewed on Tuesday if you want to check it out) so it was even more fantastic than normal to meet her. Being one of my top favourite authors and an instabuy for me I was so happy to get this chance to talk to her and get excited about her new book etc.

37958119_10155377690391581_456887303709655040_n

The day was coming to an end fast and I had one more signing to get to and that was for Laura Steven, the author of The Exact Opposite of Okay which is another book that really resonated with me and my teenage years. It was lovely to have a nice chat with her and let her know how grateful I am for this fantastic, funny and important book she’s written as well as telling her much I couldn’t wait to get hold of the sequel coming next year!

37985298_10155377690531581_5791889486010908672_n

It was a long old day and my only real problem were the way some of the signings were done to be honest. The overground wasn’t running that weekend so I had to get the district line back to Liverpool Street, I ended up on a wrong tube but it all worked out pretty good in the end. Mainly because I met a super adorable Dog who wanted to sit with me have strokes and share my fan. Win/win situation. I’ll be back tomorrow for my Day Three recap and my all round sum up!

38071725_10155377692786581_979330217971548160_n

I couldn’t not post the picture of this good boy!