The Essential YALC Guide 2019

[Last updated: 11.30am Thursday 25th July]

Here you can find out about early copies, proof giveaways, swag and fun activities at each publisher stall at YALC — you can find more information about signings, panels and workshops on their website.

For official YALC info, you can find the daily schedules here:  Friday // Saturday // Sunday.

Below you will find information listed by stall about fun stuff, early copies for sale, competitions and more. Pay attention to the key – some stalls are cash only, some card only and some both. It is recommended that you get cash out before you come to the show, as cash machines in Olympia often have long queues and sometimes run out of cash. There are several in the small shopping centre at Hammersmith’s Piccadilly and District line tube station (by the McDonald’s) and at the station at Kensington High Street. For more info on the area, check out my thread from last year.

It is going to be very hot again this year, so please be kind and considerate to your fellow attendees, but also authors and to the staff running these stalls who are on their feet working all three days, making the experience as fun as possible for us all, and will also be suffering with the heat. My top tips: bring fans, drinks and snacks, wear cool clothes, use the cloak room to store bags, be kind and look out for anyone who looks like they are struggling. 

This year I decided to organise the list by publisher/stall to make it easier for you to navigate YALC along with the map.

If you have anything you’d like to add to the YALC Guide, please DM me on Twitter, or drop me an email at hux.sewmanybooks AT gmail.com.

ANDERSEN PRESS [CASH ONLY] – Stall B1

  • Chinglish by Sue Cheung: competition, post your drawn 30-second self-portrait to Twitter. 5 winners per day chosen at 4.30pm.
  • Evernight by Ross Mackenzie: competition, tweet a photo of the proofs. 1 winner Friday & Saturday, chosen at 4.30pm.
  • All paperbacks £5, all hardbacks £10.

ATOM BOOKS [CASH ONLY] – Stall B3

BARRINGTON STOKE [CASH ONLY] – Stall A15

  • What Magic is This? by Holly Bourne: early copies for sale in the YALC bookshop. Show proof of purchase at stall to claim an A6 Holly Bourne print.
  • Letting Go by Cat Clarke: competition, visit stall to enter to win, one signed early copy available each day. Winners drawn at the end of the day.
  • The Starlight Watchmaker by Lauren James: buy from the YALC bookshop and bring proof of purchase to stall to claim steampunk/cog jewellery.
  • Free samplers showcasing summer/autumn YA titles by Cat Clarke, Eve Ainsworth, Holly Bourne, Lauren James and Elizabeth Wein.
  • Selection of books on sale for only £5.

BHC PRESS [CASH ONLY] – Stall C8

  • Meet N.J. Simmonds, author of The Path Keeper, who is running the stall this year.
  • Cover reveal of book two in the Indigo series, Son of Secrets.
  • Visit the stall for giveaways and signings.

BLOOMSBURY [CARD & CASH] – Stall B8&9

  • Friday 3.30pm, Karen Gregory will be signing I Hold Your Heart.
  • A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer: competition, tweet a photo of the proof & white rose on the stall to enter.
  • Signed Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas & goodies: competition, match the most quotes with the titles on the stall to win. 
  • Samplers of Havenfall by Sara Holland, and a Bloomsbury YA booklet full of Q&As, extracts & treats.
  • Enjoy exclusive artwork by Jim Kay of the Triwizard dragon from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Illustrated Edition. 

BKMRK [CARD NO CASH] – Booth A

  • The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave: raffle, 20 to win, pick up a ticket on Friday, winners chosen at 3.45pm.
  • SLAY by Brittney Morris: raffle, 20 to win, pick up a ticket on Saturday, winners chosen at 3.45pm. One winner will also win a VR headset.
  • The Liars by Jennifer Mathieu: raffle, 20 to win, pick up a ticket on Sunday, winners chosen at 2.45pm.
  • Signed King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo: 6 available per day, sign up for a chance to buy one, names drawn every day from 1pm.
  • Chill out in the Paper & Hearts Society zone, and swap books on the book-swap-shelf! 
  • On Saturday, take a polaroid with your pals to be featured on the Meat Market board.
  • On Sunday, celebrate the publication of Rose, Interrupted by Patrice Lawrence with everyone and cupcakes!
  • Free sanitary products in the YALC bathrooms, courtesy of The Hormone Diaries.

CHICKEN HOUSE [CASH ONLY] – Stall C14

  • Jelly by Claire Rees: buy your copy from the YALC bookshop, and pick up a free goodie bag from the stall.
  • The Loop by Ben Oliver: raffle, pick up tickets on Friday and Saturday. Winners drawn at 2.45pm.
  • Guess how many jelly beans there are in the jar to win a big bunch of YA books.
  • All paperbacks £5, all hardbacks £10.

ELECTRIC MONKEY [Not selling any books this year] – Stall C2

  • Chelsea High by Jenny Oliver: giveaway, take a post it featuring a role from Grease and try on an outfit, some roles mean you win! 10 proofs to win per day.
  • Samplers for The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven and Chelsea High by Jenny Oliver.
  • Play the Love Hypothesis chemistry bingo game to win a limited edition sampler, or enter The Exact Opposite of Okay caption contest.
  • Saturday 11.30-1pm, Aisha Bushby will be making origami paper stars on the stall. Join her, sign your social media handle inside the star, and you could win a signed proof of A Pocketful of Stars.

FABER & FABER [CARD & CASH] – Stall B10&11

  • Pet by Akwaeke Emezi: giveaway, win proofs, visit the stall for more info.
  • Giveaways to win The Curses by Laure Eve & In Paris With You by Clémentine Beauvais
  • Promotional material for The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds and Pet by Akwaeke Emezi.
  • Saturday 3.30pm: exclusive giveaway and signing with Alwyn Hamilton in the event space.

FIREFLY [CARD AND CASH] – Stall B2

HARPER 360 – [CASH & CARD] Stall B5

  • The Fowl Twins by Eoin Colfer: giveaway, Friday only, visit stall for more info.
  • Free Harper360 magazine showcasing new and backlist titles.
  • 1 sampler free with every purchase: The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy, and The Evil Queen by Gena Showlater.

HARPER VOYAGER [CARD AND CASH] – Booth D

  • Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron: raffle, pick up a ticket to win a proof and badge. 30 to win every day, winners drawn at 3pm every day.
  • Sign up to the Voyager newsletter to get a beautiful tote bag and a code for a free audiobook of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff, and be entered into a prize draw to win copies of Darkdawn, Kingdom of Souls, The Dragon Republic, Stormtide, Kingdom of Copper and After the Flood.
  • Pose with Mr. Kindly from Nevernight, and post your photo. The best one gets to take him home.
  • Colour in the cover of The Binding by Bridget Collins to win an exclusive tote and notebook.
  • Visit the Voyager instagram booth, and set up some beautiful photos to share on bookstagram.
  • Look out for messages in a bottle. Tickets to win exclusive prizes are hidden inside.
  • Each day Voyager are giving away samplers of Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao and Monstrous Heart by Claire McKenna.

HASHTAG READS (Simon & Schuster) [CARD & CASH] – Stall B12&13

  • Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed: competition to win a proof, fill out a ballot slip to enter. All entries get a badge for taking part.
  • Infinity Son by Adam Silvera: 100 given away per day from the stall, first come first served.
  • Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart: raffle, 30 proofs to win every day at 11am. 10 signed proofs also up for grabs.
  • Jackpot by Nic Stone: competition, play jackpot on the stall to win a proof.
  • Samplers of Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu, Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett and And the Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando.
  • Sign up to Hashtag Reads newsletter to win their biggest 2019 and early 2020 titles.

HODDERSCAPE [CARD ONLY NO CASH] – Booth E

  • Dark Age by Pierce Brown: early copies for sale, exclusively at YALC.
  • Fairyloot Exclusive edition of Finale by Stephanie Garber: competition, post a photo to instagram using the props to enter.
  • Buy any two books from the stall and pick a free gift: ARCs of Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan, The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh or The Return by Rachel Harrison, samplers of First Sister by Linden Lewis or The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson, or free Hodderscape goodies, including totes and badges.
  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers: giveaway, find all 10 planets around YALC to enter.
  • Saturday 1.30-4.30pm: free glitter tattoos in the activity area.
  • Free exclusive Laini Taylor tote with purchases of both Muse of Nightmares and Strange the Dreamer.
  • Sign up to the Hodderscape newsletter to win a bundle of YA and SFF books.

HOT KEY BOOKS [CARD & CASH] – Booth B

  • D.O.G.S. by M.A. Bennett: early copies for sale
  • Throne of Swans by Katherine & Elizabeth Corr: giveaway, 25 proofs per day, visit the stall to find out more.
  • Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo: competition, win a proof, visit the stall for more info
  • The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davies: competition, win a proof, visit the stall for more info
  • Samplers of Queen of Nothing by Holly Black and a big sampler containing chapters of Hot Key’s 2020 YA Books.
  • Friday, 10-11.30am: Deidre Sullivan will be doing tarot reading. Location TBC.

ILLUMICRATE [CARD AND CASH] – Stall A5

  • Saturday 1pm: Samantha Shannon signing on the stall.
  • Sunday 1pm: Kristina Perez signing on the stall. 
  • Exclusive YALC items for sale, as well as past Illumicrate books. 
  • A lucky dip for prizes and proof giveaways during the signings.

INDEPENDENT ALLIANCE [CARD & CASH]

  • Proof lucky dip — pick a shiny jiffy (the teaser words on the outside might help guide you…) and bag yourself a proof of a David Fickling Books novel.
  • The stall will be selling a wide range of books and graphic novels, from Granta, David Fickling Books, Europa Editions, Canongate, and Icon books including the Graphic History of Queer, Call Me By Your Name and The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson.

JOHN TARROW/TALLISTON [CARD & CASH] – Stall A14

JOSIE JAFFREY [CASH & CARD]

  • All seven novels available to purchase at discounted prices: pick up The Gilded King for £5 or the whole trilogy for £15. All books in the Solis Invicti quartet are £7.50 or £25 for the whole set. 
  • Beautiful enamel pin badges on sale for £2.50
  • Giveaway of early chapbooks of Josie’s latest short story, normally only available to Patreon supporters.
  • Every purchase gets a raffle ticket that enters you into a draw to win a totes, mugs and sets of pin badges. Winners picked twice a day.
  • Free stickers and bookmarks.

MELIA BOOKS [CARD AND CASH] – Stall C1

  • Pick up Tor US published titles right here.
  • On Sunday, pop over to the Illumicrate booth to Kristina Perez’s signing to potentially win Wild Savage Stars, the sequel to Sweet Black Waves.
  • Expect posters, sweets, pin badges, bookmarks, lovely company from our one and only Jamie-Lee Nardone, and prizes.

MY KINDA BOOK [CASH & CARD] – Booth C

  • We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal: early copies for sale on the MKB stall.
  • Wilder Girls by Rory Power: raffle, 100 copies to win, pick up a ticket, winners drawn at 3pm.
  • Friday 11am: win an Enchantée candle in lucky dip.
  • Saturday 11am: Wayward Son/Carry On by Rainbow Rowell themed Name That Spell competition.
  • Saturday 2pm: No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter themed “Empower a Stranger” message wall.
  • Sunday 10am: SING (Like No One’s Listening) by Vanessa Jones themed Musical Matches with free cupcakes.
  • Samplers of Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell.

PENGUIN [CASH & CARD] – Booth F

  • American Royals by Katherine McGee: giveaway, visit the stall on Saturday for more info.
  • Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett: giveaway, visit the stall on Sunday for more info.
  • Frankly in Love by David Yoon: free proof with the first 100 books sold at the PRH stand.
  • Fun freebies include a Percy Jackson sampler, Secret of the Commonwealth Oyster card holder, and Crossfire by Malorie Blackman inspired badges.
  • Look out for the Camp Half-Blood photo opportunities happening across YALC!

QUIRK BOOKS [CARD AND CASH] – Stall A9

  • Pick up xQuirk books on these two stalls.
  • Expect posters, sweets, pin badges, bookmarks, lovely company from our one and only Jamie-Lee Nardone, and prizes.

ROCK THE BOAT [CARD & CASH] – Stall A2

  • The Sky is Mine by Amy Beashel: ARC giveaway and signing at 12.30pm on Friday.
  • With every purchase, you can enter the tombola to win a book of your choice! Includes three rare proofs of Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (limited to one proof per person).
  • Free pronoun stickers, stickers for OtherLife by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, bookmarks for Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy, How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow and Aurora Rising.
  • Join the Aurora Academy: fill out a questionnaire to find out what member you are, successful applicants get a metallic pin badge with their sigil.

SCHOLASTIC [CASH ONLY] – Stall C3&4

  • Dead Popular by Sue Wallman: early copies for sale, if you buy you are entered into a draw to win an Instax mini camera.
  • Samplers for Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Exclusive Melinda Salisbury giveaway, details to be revealed!
  • Spend £10 on the stall and get an Alex in Wonderland by Simon James Green tote bag.
  • Take a Chance on Me by Beth Garrod discounted during the daily ABBA disco hour.
  • Friday 11.30-1.30: nail art themed on Under a Dancing Star by Laura Wood.

STRIPES [CASH & CARD] – Stall A3&4

  • Wranglestone by Darren Charlton: raffle, five exclusive signed proofs to win every day. Bring proof of purchase of Proud (photo of your copy/receipt/physical copy bought at YALC/proof of review) to enter. Winners drawn at 4pm every day. Darren will be at the stall on Friday afternoon to talk about the book!

SWEET CHERRY – [CASH AND CARD] Stall C10

  • Lily’s Just Fine (Galloway Girls Book 1) by Gill Stewart: on sale for only £5 with free bookmarks, postcards, charms and samplers for book 2.
  • Running several competitions included tweeting photos of their bookstagram corner, and guessing how many pins. Visit the stall to find out more.
  • Sign up to the Sweet Cherry newsletter to receive an exclusive Galloway Girls chapter.

TALLER BOOKS [CASH ONLY] – Stall B15

  • Battle Ground by Rachel Churcher: early copies for sale, £5 for paperback or free ebook.
  • Making Trouble by Rachel Churcher: ebook novella, free download available from stall.

USBORNE [CASH ONLY] – Stall C7

  • The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne: raffle, one ticket free with every purchase, two proofs to win every day, winners announced at 4.15pm. Also, look out for tear drops and visit the stall on Friday for some extra Holly Bourne themed activity.
  • Seafire by Natalie C. Parker: early copies for sale on stall.
  • Signed copies of My Secret Lies With You by Faye Bird, Birthday by Meredith Russo, Jemima Small Versus the Universe by Tamsin Winter, Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans, Slay by Kim Curran. All books 2 for £10, or rounded down by 99p.
  • Free pocket mirror with every purchase of Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans
  • Free Usborne 2020 sampler includes the first chapter of Holly Bourne’s The Places I Cried in Public, William Hussey’s Hideous Beauty, the new novel from 2018 YA Book prize winning author Will Hill, and more!
  • On Saturday, visit the stall to get your own personalised pep talk with the Pep Talk Takeaway.
  • Sunday 12.30pm: cover reveal for William Hussey’s Hideous Beauty in the Activity Area. Find out more, meet the author, and sign up for an early proof.

WALKER [CASH & CARD] – Stall B14

ZUNTOLD [CASH & CARD] – Stall A11

  • Selling lots of books including The Year I Didn’t Eat by Samuel Pollen.
  • Giveaways every day at 5pm — the best suggestions for the next YA bestseller wins!

ABRAMS & CHRONICLE do not have a stall this year, however they have sent samplers of Alice the Absent by A. G. Howard which should be available on the info table, and proofs of The Last Human by Lee Bacon, possibly at the info table as well.

Download this as a printable PDF below

BBC Young Writer’s Award 2018 & short fiction extract from Tabitha Rubens

Hello all!

Apologies for the quiet over here — I’m currently typesetting and polishing up 3 of Cups Press’ second anthology On Bodies. But I’m popping back today because I get to share something really exciting with you.

As you may know, I’m really into short fiction. I’m always on the hunt for fresh new voices for anthologies I work on, and meaty new collections to dive into. In fact, I did a post at the end of last year detailing my favourites, and those I was really looking forward to.

As such, I’m particularly fond of the BBC National Short Story Awards as they always introduce me to new voices or names I’ve seen floating around that I’ve always thought “yes, I need to read their work”.  This year, the thirteenth year of the awards, was a pretty tremendous one, because there was an all-female shortlist line up, collated in this handy pocket-sized book.

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Alongside from the main award is my personal favourite, the BBC Young Writers Awards. Open to writers aged 14 to 18 years, this year they saw a whopping 962 entries! There is a huge wealth of talent and passion in our teen population, and this shortlist always demonstrates some of the best and brightest. This shortlist this year has been phenomenal — impassioned stories of mental health, loss, desperation, and a desire for change.

I have the immense pleasure of sharing with you today an extract from Oh Sister, Invisible by Tabitha Rubens, a 16 year old writer from Islington in London. Oh Sister, Invisible is a poetic story of helplessness as a sister watches her sibling struggle with anorexia. A story of grief, and of courage, it is intensely personal and conveys the unique power of writing to convey empathy an experience. 

As such, please be aware this excerpt references eating disorders.

 

 

***

 

I was always sure my sister was woven from golden thread.

I was merely yarn.

She could stop the breeze with a fingertip and catch sunlight in her fists.

One warm summer night of a distant year, she dragged me from my bed and we climbed out of the bathroom window. With one hand on the drainpipe and the other gripping hers, I pulled myself after her and stretched out on the terracotta roof. We watched the fireflies circling the moon and decided what to be when we were grown.

June Solstice arrived and my sister filled my palms with honeysuckle flowers. She taught me to tease the string of nectar from the pale yellow petals and drop the sweet elixir onto my tongue. Dreams are made of such sweetness.

When the weather turned, and rain drummed across the ceiling, I’d play the piano so that I could hear her sing. My sister could sing as if the notes were alive; as though the crescendos were rushing through her blood and the symphonies reveling in scandalous secrets, unveiling their enigmas in a flurry of sound.

When my sister sung, the whole world stood still.

In mid-July joyful melodies filled the house: Italian love songs and the occasional musical ballad. But at the dawn of August, her preference diverged to tragedy, and her voice would waver in mourning, and break apart as she choked upon each accelerando. By September, her grief grew until she forced herself to settle on silence.

On Halloween I brushed her lips with indigo ink and plastered Titanium White over her prominent cheekbones. A skeletal silhouette stared back at me.

 

***

The winner of the awards is announced on the 2nd of October at the awards ceremony, beamed right into your ears via Front Row on BBC Radio 4, and the winning story will be made available in full on the BBC Radio 1 website.

In the meantime, check out the other extracts here, available to read or listen to. You can find out more about the awards and follow them via Twitter using the #BBCYWA hashtag.

***

The BBC Young Writers Award 2018 is in association with Cambridge University and First Story. First Story was started in 2008 by the writer William Fiennes (author of The Music Room and The Snow Geese) and former teacher Katie Waldegrave (author of The Poets’ Daughters) with the mission of changing lives through writing. First Story exists to bring talented, professional writers into secondary schools serving low-income communities to work with teachers and students to foster confidence, creativity and writing skills. Since 2008, First Story has run almost 400 residencies in schools, given 8000 students the chance to take part in weekly creative writing workshops, worked with 400 acclaimed authors and 500 teachers and librarians, published almost 400 anthologies, and enabled over 140,000 pieces of original student writing. More information here.

*sings* Space Books… I always wanted you to read some good Space Books (intergalactic yiiiikes) | Reading Round Up

I’m sorry but every time I went to write this post, that song came into my head. It is a problem.

Recently, I’ve had a real glut of space books. Sci-fi is a genre I do not read enough of considering my childhood diet of Star Trek and this planets interactive learning game I was absolutely obsessed with. Helpfully, while I was musing this, several arrived on my doorstep within a few days of each other. Three of four of these are mid series books (don’t worry, no spoilers here) but I hope that encourages you that several books deep, I’m still enjoying them!

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Firstly, I need to tell you about The Truth of Different Skies by Kate Ling. Ling previously authored The Loneliness of Distant Beings, followed by The Glow of Fallen Stars which followed Seren and the crew of the Ventura several generations deep into their space colonisation mission. The Truth of Different Skies takes us back into the Ventura’s past to the recruitment on Earth, and one girl called Bea, trapped in poverty, unrequited love and sickness in Wales. Seizing the chance to change her life, Bea travels to Spain to sign up for the mission, accompanied by her stepbrother and the boy she loves. It is the story of opportunity, of adventure and escape, fleeing a dying world to find a future for humanity at the other end of a beacon that reached Earth the day she was born. Technically a prequel to the other books of the Ventura Saga, this book works as a standalone and I think would be as good a place to start as The Loneliness of Distant Beings. With typical Ling twists and turns, my heart was repeatedly battered. This is Ling’s best novel yet and I’m eagerly anticipating more from her.

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Following on from the beginnings of a journey into space, it only makes sense for me to tell you about what happens at the end of that mission.  I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of Record of a Spaceborn Few, the third book from Wayfarer’s Saga author Becky Chambers. This book follows the people of the Exodus Fleet, one of the original colonisation missions from Earth, now a living relic amidst the colourful universe they call home. Told through the perspectives of six characters and the blog posts of Guh’lolean the Harmagian, the novel leads you through the uncertain future of the fleet through old and new eyes. When the immediate purpose of exploration is over, where does that leave the crew? And when disaster strikes in the fleet, everything they know about their way of life is tested; how can they move forward?

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Amelia’s Kitchen Candles made their own special marbled candle for Record of a Spaceborn Few, which you can buy here!

I fell in love with this book, though it did take me a little over half the book to understand where it was going, as from the outset the multi-POV characters don’t feel particularly connected — though of course Chambers guides you there and suddenly I found myself crying late in the book. If you find yourself thinking this, do stick with it. Following on from the intensely emotional A Closed and Common Orbit, the quietness of Spaceborn Few seems almost jarring in a way, but this is not a bad thing. One of the strengths of Chambers’ series is how flexible she is with tone and story, literally giving us a whole universe to explore along with her. As with her previous books, Spaceborn Few is a standalone book within the Wayfarer’s universe, and could feasibly be the point you start at, though I personally think reading them in order (A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet followed by A Closed and Common Orbit, then Spaceborn) works best. Record of a Spaceborn Few publishes on the 24th of July and you can preorder your copy below.

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Moving towards the more action-packed end of the space books selection for you today is Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray, the sequel to Defy the Stars. You may recognise Gray from several Star Wars books, so you can trust that she really does know how to write a space epic. Defy the Worlds continues the action, with Abel and Noemi now split apart from each other. When Burton Mansfield captures Noemi (after she flees Genesis to search for a cure for a deadly plague), Abel finally comes face-to-face with his creator after a race through the stars. Where I felt the first book questioned morality and human nature, Defy the Worlds considers more the power of wealth and privilege, and what people will do to keep themselves alive… No matter the gruesome costs. This is another thrilling story of belonging, family and falling in love, and I’m absolutely dying for the final book in the trilogy.

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If any of these have tickled your fancy, let me also recommend some others in the back list, such as Katie Khan’s Hold Back the Stars, a brilliant utopian novel of falling-through-space-to-our-deaths-with-the-love-of-my-life that will make you bawl, or Malorie Blackman’s gender-swapped Othello in Space, Chasing the Stars. Or Lauren James’ short but punchy and incredibly eerie The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. If you fancy something incredibly brutal, may I recommend Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, a Battle Royale in space as a working class man infiltrates the ruling class to bring them down from inside.

What’s your favourite space book?

Thank you kindly to Hot Key Books and Readers First for sending me Defy the Worlds, to Hodder Books for sending me Record of a Spaceborn Few and to Hachette Childrens for sending me The Truth of Different Skies.

Please note all Book Depository links are affiliate links, in which I earn a small commission for the sale.

A Night at the Theatre | Theatrical Blog Tour

To imagine my life without the theatre in it would be very difficult. I’ve been lucky enough to spend time both in the seats and on the stage. When the lovely team at Usborne asked me to write a little about my love for the theatre in order to celebrate the release of Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt, I leaped at the chance.

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My earliest memories of the theatre all involve my tiny grandma, Betty Little. She would pick me up in her little red Mini, which had absolutely no suspension whatsoever, and we would head over to the Rhyl Pavillion, a theatre that literally had a waterpark known as The Sun Centre attached to it for most of my childhood (I’m always a little bit surprised that other lobbies don’t have a slight odour of chlorine). We would watch all manner of shows, with a bag of Werthers Originals between us — surreptitiously unwrapping each sweet without causing any sound was all part of the experience. I loved seeing stories unfold before me, the rush of excitement knowing that anything could happen.

Throughout primary school, I was regularly on the stage — I was Mary twice, a fox cub in Fantastic Mr Fox, the lead girl in this really strange musical that seemed to be a rip off of both Rocky Horror and Petshop of Horrors (I just played the sample of Looking for the Action, a song which has haunted my memory for 20 years), and one of the ugly sisters in Cinders, amongst others. I remember playing Mary Jones, a young Welsh girl who walked miles to get a bible from Bala, more than once; the scent of the plastic fish and bread I was supposed to mime eat so very vivid twenty years later. My childhood is punctuated by learning lines, being fitted for costumes made of impossibly shiny material, the drying sensation of the heavily painted lipstick and of Jonathan Fisher-Jones and I trying to box people in during the waltz part of Cinders, just to make it a little more fun.

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My parents absolutely pegged me for a theatre kid, but as my high school had no real drama program and we couldn’t afford the local theatre school, my thespian days were over and I focussed more on my voice. Our high school put on annual summer concerts at the very same theatre I spent my childhood, in which I would usually insist on singing at least two solo pieces. I belted out I Dreamed a Dream, the intonation entirely copied from Ruthie Henshall as I’d never heard another version sung. I bounced along to the achingly sweet Walking Back to Happiness, a song I was gifted by my music teacher due to my low rich voice. I performed a definitely-too-raunchy version of Fever while wearing a plunging dress and a feather boa in my final concert, aged seventeen. And in between these performances, we ran around the backstage and its corridors, walked by so many before us. We would find hallmarks of previous visitors, consigned to history like ghosts — a rogue lipstick, a song list, a sign designating whose dressing room was whose. Those memories are some of the happiest of my teenage years, the giddy rush of performance and the camaraderie of local showbiz.

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This year, I’ve been incredibly lucky to see some fantastic shows. My dear friend Ruth and I have made a pact to go see as much theatre in the next year or so as possible, and my musical obsessed friend Lauren has promised to show me all her favourite shows when I move to South London later this year. I howled with laughter at Verity Rushworth’s performance of History of Wrong Guys from Kinky Boots. I sobbed extensively through Hamilton, a musical that occupied every waking thought of mine in 2016. I marvelled at Laura Linney’s almost chameleonic ability to switch between the characters of Lucy Barton and her mother in the monologue adaptation of My Name is Lucy Barton. I marvelled at the dialogue and playfulness of Friel’s Translations at the National Theatre, all the time thinking of how colonialism scours the land.

Each experience so different but unforgettable to all my senses; the collective held gasp of the audience, the sooty vapour of stage smoke, the change in lighting to draw the eye. Theatre’s all-sensory nature amazes me, and even a bad play can still be an interesting night.

And this is what I think Harcourt’s novel Theatrical explores so effortlessly — not only the life behind the scenes, but that brought to the stage, the life in the seats. I was completely absorbed into Hope’s story, not only her swoony romance but her work managing the stage, which Harcourt has clearly researched extremely thoroughly.

Here’s the blurb for you:

Hope dreams of working backstage in a theatre, and she’s determined to make it without the help of her famous costume-designer mum. So when she lands an internship on a major production, she tells no one. But with a stroppy Hollywood star and his hot young understudy upstaging Hope’s focus, she’s soon struggling to keep her cool…and her secret.

Theatrical is the perfect summer novel, not only for theatre lovers, but for anyone who has ever wanted to follow their passions and dreams.

You can pick up your copy of Theatrical here:

Hive (UK) // Book Depository (International)

Why not go check out the other stops on the tour and learn about other people’s relationships with the theatre.

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Thank you kindly to Stevie Hopwood for inviting me to be on the tour and for sending me a reading copy of Theatrical, and to Maggie Harcourt for writing it.

Please note that Book Depository links from this site are affiliate links.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden | 1 Minute Reviews

Now, I know that Spring is immediately around the corner and we’re all begging for some sunshine but I’m going to encourage you to take a step back, think of the deepest winter colds and dive into The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. The first in a new series, this novel is the quintessential wintry fairytale set in medieval rural northern Russia.

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Vasalisa Petrovna (Vasya) is the daughter of a farmer and a woman who hears the call of the forest, who knows her last act will be bringing Vasya into the world. Strong and brave, Vasya regularly visits the dangerous forest, converses with the house-spirits, rides like the wind and tries to defy the limited expectations thrust upon her. Raised on the stories of housekeeper Dunya, told by the warmth of the oven, Vasya soon realises that these tales are not fiction, but very much real. And she can feel the rising darkness in the forest.

As new characters enter Vasya’s life — her stepmother Anna, her new sister Irina, the preacher from Moscow — she must fight to stay true to herself and protect the forest that she loves and fears

Ahhh I loved this book so much. It’s just the perfect intersection of folklore and whimsy and danger and brilliance. This is my favourite kind of novel, a blend of tidbits of history mixed with folk legends added to an original, exciting story.

Arden’s descriptive and lyrical prose constructs a fascinating, rich world and the harsh realities of Lesnaya Zemlya, which you can read more about on Penguin’s blog.

The story is itself is a slow burn, following Vasya as she grows into a young woman facing marriage and the fears and mistakes of the adults around her. Arden successfully builds tension with every new mention of the waning house-spirits and the ice-blue eyes and the mysterious stranger in Moscow; it creeps upon you like frost up a window pane.

I really enjoyed the terse relationship between Vasya and Father Konstantin Nikonovich, both so determined that their understanding of the world is correct. Despite him playing a sort of antagonist role alongside Vasya’s stepmother Anna, I ended up having a lot of sympathy for this man so completely out of his depth in poverty and the harsh winter

This is marketed as a literary fantasy in the general fiction or possibly SFF sections of bookshops, but I think it would be readily enjoyed by fantasy young adult fans (and for the sake of gift giving, I can’t think of any content unsuitable for teens).

Also, Arden has helpfully included a glossary in the back, which I urge you to glance over before you start reading.

I strongly recommend you pick this book up, especially those of you currently enjoying a Spring snowfall as it is a book that begs to be read in the dark of the night before an open fire while snow falls outside. I was very delayed in getting round to it, having been bought it for my birthday by my wonderful friend Grace. Don’t be like me, don’t wait, especially if you also live for chilling fairytales and brave intuitive girls, because this is the book you need to be reading right now.

Once you’ve read The Bear and the Nightingale, pop back here and read the prologue Katherine wrote about Marina that didn’t make the final cut — however she advises you actually read the book first due to spoilers!

The second book, The Girl in the Tower, is published in hardback on the 25th January so you’ll be able to swoop from one to the other and commiserate with me as we wait for the next instalment of the Winternight saga.

Get it here: UK (Hive) / International (Book Depository)

What to read next:

My Favourite Anthologies & Publishers to Watch| Reading Round Up

I love a well-curated anthology. There is nothing better than diving into a book that feels like a lucky dip of voices, many of whom you’ve never read before. I also love the flexibility you get with an anthology; only got 10 minutes, no problem! You can read a few poems, maybe even a whole short story or an essay in that time. They are the perfect commuter companion and excellent options for busy times like Christmas, when you want to grab some quiet time before you’re called away again.

I leapt at the chance to create a series of anthologies at our micropublisher 3 of Cups Press. Our first, On Anxiety, launches in January and you can preorder it still through our website shop. There are more coming in later 2018 too – keep a particular eye out for February book fans!

But until then, here are some of my favourites to keep you going!

Also, a quick note, in writing this, I realised this quickly became a love letter for all the independent presses that I know and love, who you should throw some of your book money at in the coming year. These guys do fantastic work and I want them to stick around!

Okay, let’s go.

change.PNGA Change is Gonna Come is the wonderful young adult anthology that features only BAME authors, created by the team at Stripes publishing. The book features twelve authors, contributing ten short fiction pieces and two poems. Change represents the future of publishing – voices that have been historically untapped, stories yet to be told. It is an absolutely divine book of exceptionally high quality, and not one of the stories felt like a duffer. I’ve actually read the anthology twice – once back in August when I was in the middle of Kickstarter hell, and just this last month so that I could refresh my mind. In particular, Aisha Bushby’s piece made me sob on my dog and Tanya Byrne’s Hackney Moon is just the most wonderful queer love story that I have ever read. I want more from all these authors immediately. Stripes and Little Tiger Press also produced the wonderful collection I’ll Be Home For Christmas last year, and in my opinion are a publisher to watch.

Sliding over to non fiction, my first recommendation is The Good Immigrant is an awardimmigrant.PNG winning collection of essays from BAME people living in Britain, collated and edited by the wonderful Nikesh Shukla. This is an extremely timely collection about what it means to be an immigrant or a person of colour in the UK today. The collection includes 21 voices in essays covering their wide ranging experiences and perspectives. It is so difficult to say anything about The Good Immigrant that hasn’t already been said by many, many people. Believe the hype; this book is fantastic and essential reading for anyone living in the UK. From Nikesh Shukla and his wonderful agent Julia Kingsford, we now have The Good Journal, a quarterly literary magazine featuring BAME authors and artists, and The Good Literary Agency, launching in 2018.

Did you know The Good Immigrant was published through Unbound, an independent publishing crowdfunding platform. They produce the most magical books and you must go check them out. I particularly recommend you check out Cut From the Same Cloth and A Country to Call Home, which are both still in the funding process. Check them out!

9780995623828It would be remiss of me to discuss anthologies without looking at Nasty Women, another stunning and award winning anthology released this year. What does it mean to be a woman in the 21st century? What does it mean to stand up against misogyny, racism and classism alongside sexism? Independent Scottish Publishers 404 Ink seek to answer this question in this excellent collection of essays and interviews from a number of brilliant women. Originally released as a Kickstarter that was 369% funded, the Nasty Women collection is now widely available, as is their first edition of the 404 Ink Literary Magazine, Error. The collection covers a wide range of topics – the feminist leanings of foraging, accountability in the punk scene, classism within the arts, the difficulty of living multiple racial identities, the struggle of loving Courtney Love. I feel that this collection would stand up well in a feminist starter pack of sorts, as we continue to gather around the rallying moniker of Nasty Women. Buy a copy for the young and old women in your life; there is something for everyone here, and while you’re at it, check out the other books and magazines produced by 404 Ink.

For both Nasty Women and The Good Immigrant, every single essay made me pause for thought and I enjoyed reading a single article then setting the book aside, allowing them to settle in my mind. While this meant it took me longer to read these books, it allowed me the extra time to connect to the voices and their experiences.

I’d like to add a quick recommendation for How Much the Heart Can Hold as well, a fiction anthology developed by Sceptre around the seven types of love, which they added a further story to by Phoebe Roy (also featured in Change) when the paperback was published. I enjoyed this immensely earlier this year, and have been in the process of seeking out works from the authors featured in the book. A great one to dip in and out of too.

In the meantime, I have a lot on my shelves that I’ve been dipping in and out of recently and so haven’t had time to review properly, but I wanted to mention them now:

  • Know Your Place edited by Nathan Connolly and published by Dead Ink Books. this book is essays about being working class, in the style of The Good Immigrant.
  • The Things I Would Tell You edited by Sabrina Mafouz and published by Saqi Books: an anthology of essays from British Mulsim Women.
  • 2084: A Science Fiction Anthology edited by George Sandison and published by Unsung Press is an anthology of science fiction short stories all about what the year 2084 could look like.

That’s all for now, I think. Tell me, what are your favourite anthologies? Which projects are you most looking forward to next?

The History of Bees by Maja Lunde | 1 Minute Reviews

This is undoubtedly a strange way to begin a review, but I should tell you that I really like bees. Ten years ago (yikes) I was studying Zoology at the University of Liverpool and had the joy of learning about bees across several modules – their waggle dances of communication, their societal structure and, sadly, the way their populations have been crashing due to Colony Collapse Disorder.

This time of my life coincides with one of the three timelines in The History of Bees, a wonderful novel told from three narrators spread across 250 years – William in England in 1851, Tao in future China in 2098 and finally George in the USA in 2007.

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After recovering from a bout of depression, naturalist William is determined to invent a new form of beehive, in order to catapult him and his children into fame, particularly his beloved heir Edmund.

George is a beekeeper, battling against modernisation in the farming industry whilst also trying to keep his business afloat, though his wife just wants to move to Florida and his son doesn’t seem to want to farm at all.

Far in the future after the collapse of the global bee population, Tao is a human pollinator, gently transferring pollen to fruit trees – an incredibly challenging manual job in a world falling apart due to the loss of essential biological processes. When her son suddenly becomes ill and then is taken by mysterious authorities, Tao sets out on a harrowing journey to find her child.

The History of Bees is a haunting story about families, the weight of being a parent and a child, the expectation of futures that could be built or destroyed in an instant. The parents themselves are so focused on their children becoming one way or another, not quite seeing the potential in them that manifests differently or – in William’s case – overlooking all his other children.

All three strands of narration kept me hooked, particularly the disturbing but quite imaginable future imagined in Tao’s storyline. This is a book that fans of Station 11, The Bees (well of course) and Never Let Me Go would find a lot to like – reader friendly speculative fiction, rooted in our own world, while the late 1800s timeline reminded me a lot of parts of The Essex Serpent. Of course, the storylines all tie in together at the end, which is immensely satisfying.

If like em you like complex family dramas and dystopian future storylines, you will be pleased to discover their combination here. The History of Bees is a fantastic, clever novel that touches upon our possible future of environmental collapse, seeking to warn us about possible ecological futures but also the dangers of parenting with an endgame in mind. I really do not think this should be missed.

The History of Bees is currently available in hardback, with the paperback publishing in April 2018. You can get it here.

What to read next:

Thank you kindly to Simon and Schuster for sending this copy over to me.