Events, spoiler free

YALC 2019 Report

event report

So I’m only doing one YALC post this year as I only went for one day! I enjoyed myself but I defintley want to do more than one day again next year. I enjoyed myself for the most part but there was a bit of a winding down feeling and a this is all lets left look to some parts which got me a little down after seeing some of the awesome activities, giveaways and books others got during the first two days. One of the stands I was looking forward to the most was the Rock the Boat stand as they had a fun little Aurora Rising quiz and a tombola with a chance to win an AR proof but when I got there Sunday morning the person running the stall didn’t seem to have a clue what was going on and there was no tombola so I was pretty disappointed that we weren’t given the same opportunities as those who could make the other days.

I somehow managed to get to the venue on just before the event opened, with Sunday trains this is no small miracle and Gaynor (from paperbacks and pinot) and her daughter Biba spotted me and called me over, it was lovely to finally meet them both as me and Gaynor have been chatting online for a little while now and attending completely alone for the first time it was lovely to find a friendly couple of faces. Once the entrance line started moving we chose to take the elevator and I’m glad we did as those who had chosen to take the stairs were stopped for some reason and not allowed to go any further, resulting in a large group of people being stuck on the stairwell which sounds terrifying to me.

Once on the YALC floor all three of us headed to the Rock the Boat stand where we took part in the Aurora Rising quiz (once the person manning it read some instructions as they didn’t know what to do) me and Biba both got Alpha and Gaynor got face I believe! It was fun and we got little cards and badges with our roles on (although my badge didn’t match and was actually a face one). I picked up some Once and Future bookmarks as well as I was gutted we weren’t able to get them via preorder like in the US and I love the art of Ari and Merlin on them.

We headed to the Illumicrate table next and I picked up a badge for a friend and I entered the raffle, I was already starting to get frazzled by the heat in the building and finding it hard to think straight and am gutted I missed out on the Vicious pin. We went our separate ways for a bit after this as when I’d finished queuing I headed to the chill-out zone to try and cool down for a bit and get my head straight. Thankfully I’m actually pretty comfortable sitting on the floor as there were only a couple of chairs scattered about that I could see and I’m sure I had seen people asking YALC on Twitter about chairs in this area because, for a number of reasons, not everyone is comfortable sitting on the floor and they were assured there would be enough chairs, I’m fairly certain this was not the case. Nevertheless, I found a spot on the floor, had a drink and cooled down a little, I was still a little fritzed and over the next couple of hours I still found I had trouble with my words getting muddled up and constant sweating which was not fun and meant to had to sit down to try and cool off a lot.

The first author I got to meet was N.J Simmonds which was lovely as she was the first author I met at my very first YALC and her book “The Path Keeper” was the first book I brought, the new version was also the first book I brought at this YALC and let me tell you it’s beautiful! I can’t wait to read it! I battled the queue for the VQ tickets then wandered around for a bit, entered a couple of raffles (note to self, in future write on the back of raffle tickets so you know where they’re for and when they draw them) and then went to the signing for Christine Lynn Herman, author of The Devouring Gray. I know I was a bit off when I met her as I still didn’t have a clear head but I did manage to tell her how much I loved her book and Issac!

The hour or so after this was a bit of a blur but I did get to meet the lovely Kirstin from Barrington Stoke and popped over to say hi to my friends at Geeky Clean. I took part in the Vanessa Jones “Sing” panel and I’m so glad I decided to do it because it really helped to clear my head. It felt a bit like a drama lesson from back at school (I went to a performing arts school) and was full of improv games that were a lot of fun. I swapped some books at the book swap and had a little lunch before the “One small step for man, one giant leap for YA” panel. Sadly Lauren James, who was meant to be chairing the event had to pull out that morning after her dog (poor Ollie, hope you’re feeling better) got injured but Taran Matharu stepped in to join Alistair Renyolds, Temi Oh and Sasha Alsberg. It was a good panel and I regretted not bringing my Alistair Renyolds books to be signed because he seemed like he would be really interesting to chat too.

I had no panels or signings for another hour or so and decided to check out some of the books for sale, I was gutted the pop-up Waterstones had sold out of copies of the Gilded Cage by Vic James as I was meeting her later but did pick up a good few books such as We Hunt the Flame, STAGS, Lifes a Beach, Perfectly Preventable Deaths, GodsGrave, Jemima Small vs the Universe, Lady Smoke and The Kingdom and all were pretty good deals with most being £5 each or three for £10.

Next up I watched the Monsters and their maker’s panel featuring Kristen¬†Ciccarelli, Natasha Ngan, Samantha Shannon, and Taran Matharu with Eleanor Pender as chair. This was another great panel and I actually enjoyed it more than the sci-fi one which I was shocked by. I also bumped into Fiona from Felfira Moon Designs which was lovely (and I won a light fury pin!) Then headed to the Kristen Ciccarelli signing after, I again made an idiot out of myself and told her that I loved Asha and actually have a character in a dungeons and dragons game based on her.

I wound down the day by hanging out with the Geeky Clean Crew which now included Emily helping out too (if you’re reading this Em, I honestly don’t know where you get all that energy, you’re amazing) which was lovely and made me feel a lot more comfortable. Not long after Vic came to hang out as well and we got to chat, I told her how much I loved Sanctuary and how much it stressed me out which was fun, she told me she loved my hair and she signed my book! I’m kind of glad I didn’t look at what she had written at the time because I looked when I got home and welled up, she’d written “stay fantastic” in it. I know it might sound silly but I felt so honoured that this person who had written this book that I adored remembered my blog name.

After randomly bumping into Jason Mamoa while filming for my YALC vlog (see below) I headed down to the London Film and Comic-Con floor, grabbed some cake from the lovely Cake in a Jar and headed home. The trip back was actually really easy and fairly relaxed which was nice. I had just about enough energy when I got home to unpack a little and take a picture of my haul which I don’t think was too bad for a Sunday to be fair and I love some of the prints and posters I got, most of which are already up on my wall! Overall I did enjoy the event but I think I’ll defintley aim for more than one day next year so I don’t end up trying to fit everything into one day.

Did you go to YALC? If so how was your experience?

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book reviews, spoiler free

Sanctuary Blog Tour

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Sanctuary by V.V James

Rating: XXXXX

Published: August 8th 2019 by Gollancz

“The bad days were behind us, and our friendships and theirs were stronger than ever. Lies, lies, lies. And they all knew it.”

The small Connecticut town of Sanctuary is rocked by the death of its star quarterback.

Daniel’s death looked like an accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend Harper is the daughter of a witch – and she was there when he died.

Then the rumours start. When Harper insists Dan was guilty of a terrible act, the town turns on her. So was his death an accident, revenge – or something even darker?

As accusations fly and secrets are revealed, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a trial that the whole world is watching . . .

I received an e-Arc via Netgalley from Gollancz in exchange for an honest review. One of my friends has been recommending Vic James books to me for a couple of years now and I’ve never quite made it around to them but when she got mega excited after reading Sanctuary, Vic’s newest book I knew it was finally time and this witchy murder mystery was just the place to start.

Sanctuary, out August 8th, has been one of the most intense page-turning books I have read this year and has already become a firm favourite. I absolutely flew through it in just a couple of days. In the world Sanctuary is set in, almost everything is the same as we already know it except Witchcraft is a normal every day, mostly accepted occurrence with its own rules and state-mandated laws and such, which I found fascinating but also very grounded. I also loved the particular brand of witchcraft we see used with charts, herbs, hand gestures and energy as well as the fact that different witches from around the world use different varieties of spell casting derived from their personal culture and traditions. One particular detail I really enjoyed was the explanation that witches familiars are considered an important role as they are a witches connection back to the earth and nature. You could really feel Vic had done her research, there’s not a huge amount of really obvious world-building to be done but all the tiny details, as well as the big ones, were executed brilliantly and so organically as well as the general feeling of the town which almost felt like it’s own entity at times.

The story is told from three main points of view, two distraught mothers on either end of a possible murder and police officer, Maggie trying to unravel it all. Following these particular characters was a fantastic choice, watching events unfold from each ‘side’ was particularly interesting and then seeing how Maggie dealt with said information or revelation and the conclusions she then came to as a result, not to mention that she was fantastic at injecting a little humour into the narrative here and there which impressively didn’t feel out of place in a book that is otherwise fairly dark. I loved seeing how far each of the three women were willing to go to protect themselves, what they believed in and the ones they love as well as the way their friends and neighbours reacted to the turn of events. Every character, even ones who weren’t what I would call “main” supporting characters felt interesting and solid, I found most of these characters very easy to picture and each had memorable traits without falling into stereotypical troupes (for the most part). Sanctuary has an insanely interesting and thrilling narrative but it also very much feels like a startling study of the darker corners of human nature.

To start with, the plot seems simplistic in nature and like any other “whodunnit” kind of mystery with a few extra additions such as the inclusion of witchcraft but still enjoyable and as the story continues on it becomes a whole other creature full of secrets, lies, twists and turns leaving you pointing fingers every which way and really taking a good hard look at your own morals in the process. I’m not ready in any way shape or form to talk about that ending so you’ll have to wait for the spoilery book talk on Youtube for that because right now when I try to type about it I just bash my keyboard keys while making incoherent noises of pain and anxiety. Every secret feels expertly layered as each revelation becomes tangled in a web of persecution and fear, author Vic James has a terrifying gift and I can’t wait to read more of her books if this standard of writing is the norm because it absolutely blew me away.

Sanctuary is out August 8th but if you were lucky enough to have picked up an early copy at YALC or the beautiful green sprayed edges edition in July’s Illumicrate you may have already read it but if not make sure you check out your local bookstore or most convenient retailer to preorder if you fancy a twisty, witchy murder mystery with bite.

Trigger Warnings: Rape of a minor by an older minor, gaslighting.

Also don’t forget to check out all of these other lovely bloggers taking part on the Sanctuary blog tour too!

 

 

 

#SixforSunday, spoiler free

S4S – Summer TBR

So I have already posted a TBR for the month which is also sort of doubled up as my YALC TBR as well so I’m going to take the opportunity this week to use the Summer TBR prompt for this weeks Six for Sunday as a broader TBR of books I want to read over the next few months. There are a lot of books that have been out for a good while that I’ve been meaning to get to. I may have cheated a little bit and lumped some series of books together but I won’t tell if you don’t. You can find lots of awesome stuff, including some of the 2019 prompts for Six for Sunday if you want to join in over at Steph’s blog A Little but a Lot. 

Nevernight, Godsgrave and Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff
I am determined to finally finish Nevernight and get through Godsgrave in time for the Darkdawn release in September! I’ve loved what I’ve read of it so far but I made the mistake of sandwiching my reading of Nevernight between two blog tour books and ran out of time to finish it. Once I’ve worked my way through this months review books I’m dedicating August to getting caught up ready for the final book and Jay’s impending September visit to the UK as well!

Six of Crows and The Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
I made the same mistake with Six of Crows as with Nevernight and had to abandon it over halfway through which was painful because it’s SO up my alley, I LOVE groups of misfits, heists and morally grey characters and Six of Crows has all of these things. Then obviously I can move onto the Crooked Kingdom which will mean I’ll be caught up enough to finally read King of Scars although that’s not a summer priority for me.

Gilded Cage by Vic James
Since reading Sanctuary I’ve been desperate to read Vic’s earlier work, I’ve been hearing great things about this trilogy and I would really like to at least get the first one read before YALC (I’m debating trying to go Saturday too so I can meet her!)

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
I have been meaning to read this book and its sequels FOREVER. I think I just get worried they won’t live up to the hype I’ve heard sometimes but this is one of the reasons it took me so long to read the Illuminae files which have become my favourite books so I know I need to take the leap and I think this summer it might finally be time.

Ghosts of the Shadowmarket By Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan
The most recent book on this list, I’d really like to get this bindup of short stories read to start The Red Scrolls of Magic in the Autumn, I kept putting it on my monthly TBR but I think this is one that will have to wait until later in the summer as it is one of the only ones I have yet to buy.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
I’ve been debating reading this for a little while now. The sheer size of it has put me off time and again but earlier this year both the kindle and audible versions were on sale super cheap so I brought them both and now have absolutely no excuse not to finally listen to/read this book!

I’m so excited to finally read these damn books. I get distracted so easily so feel free to bug me and bug me about reading them!

What books are you looking forward to reading this summer and are any of them books you’ve been wanting to read for a while?