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Writing Ray - The awkward questions from relatives

 Thursday, 31 July 2014

Afternoon m'lovelies, I wasn't too sure what post I wanted to do today since I need to do a July Reading round-off post but I also wanted to share the rather awksies situation I found myself in yesterday while on a coach trip to Llandudno with my mother and Gran.

I was a last-minute replacement for my sister who injured herself at work the other week (how she still functions like a human I do not know - I'm sure she ought to be a cyborg by now) to help my mum push my Gran round Llandudno. Since I'm now footloose and fancy-free after finishing work I was like "sure, why not?" I haven't been to the Welsh seaside in forevs and if it was nice and sunny then it would be lovely albeit kinda sweaty if I was pushing the wheelchair.

Anyway this relates to my writing because rather than taking a book to read on the coach journey there and back I decided to take my notebooks for my current WIP which I've got back into writing recently. So there I am on the coach sat by the window angling my notebook away from my mother so she can't read what I'm working on when my grandmother pipes up asking me what I'm doing.

How do you go about explaining your Fantasy novel to your 74 yr old Grandma in a way that won't sound mental? How do you explain just the fact that you are writing down the ideas that dribble out of your head? I made some very vague references to it being a story similar to what I like to read and didn't say much else.

Then she asks the most irritating question that I'm sure most non-published writers get asked - "Are you going to get it published?" As if it's just a case of taking the handful of pages that fell out of your printer into a publisher, plonking it down onto a desk as is and being given a pretty, bound book straight back. I had to try and explain that not only is my book not finished, it is also going to require a fuck-ton of editing undoubtedly and then that's not even getting near to the mainstream route of queries, agents and publishers - if I get there at all.

I also found it bizarre how my family seem to have got this idea that I've been writing stories solidly since I was a child. Yes when I was younger I probably did (I can't honestly say I remember) but I have never finished a story in my teens/adult life so far. What do they think I've been doing for all this time? It was just so odd to hear my Gran talking about my "stories" as if I've done loads and they're just lying about my house waiting to be published. Dude I wish that was the case!

Another strangely awkward relative situation recently is that my mother is completely fine with the idea of my writing. To the point that she is more than happy for me to be doing a Creative Writing module as part of my Open University degree. I find this so unexpected and bewildering you wouldn't believe - I expected disapproval and hints to do something more worthwhile not... whatever it is that my mother thinks about it all.

So yea that was yesterday. In terms of actual writing it was a pretty good day - I got three pages hand-written for what is currently going to be my first chapter which has kinda ended up as 6 pages. Now I gotta type all that up into Scrivener and see what the finished first draft version will be. If you're really lucky maybe I shall post that and the prologue up onto my Wattpad.

If you care to have a read of a little snippet I put up last week which is related to my WIP but not actually part of the novel then take a mosey over here. Any thoughts or comments on that will be muchly appreciated.

Right I've spent too long writing this - getting distracted by other interwebby stuff. I may do another post soon on some of the music that has been part of my writing process more recently.

Ray x


Top Ten Tuesday - Authors you own the most books by

 Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is an original meme created by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Now I am a lady who gets attached to particular authors and then proceeds to buy ALL THE BOOKS they've ever written. Or at least multiple editions of the few books they did. So this topic is perfect for me.

Let's get cracking!

1. Tamora Pierce - MY QUEEN! Now I have 27 Books  by Tammy which is almost unprecedented I know. One is a duplicate copy of Trickster's Queen because my first copy has got a worrisome crack in the spine, it hasn't fell apart but one can never be too cautious in these cases! But yea, Tammy is my most owned author and will probably remain so for a long time to come.

2. Enid Blyton - This is not so significant when you think that I have all of the Famous Five books plus a few of the Secret Sevens. So 25 Books is almost a small Blyton collection.

3. J.K. Rowling - Now I bet some people are wondering how good ol' J.K. has got so high on this list when she's only really written 13 unique books but when you own two full sets of Harry Potter in english, plus 6 in French and 2 in Spanish it's gonna add up to an overall total of 24 Books.

4. Daphne du Maurier - If anyone has been following my blog/youtube since my Uni days y'all might remember that I developed a bit of an addiction to buying cheap copies of Du Maurier books whenever I found some I didn't have. This added up to a collection of 18 books that is predominantly unread *sigh*.

5.  Jane Austen - See entry no. 3, hell see this video here and you'll how it's possible to end up with 16 books by the lady who only had 6 published novels and 3 unfinished works. *facepalm*

6. Elizabeth Chadwick - Ditto as with Daphne, I bough TONS of her books while I was at Uni and many of them are still sat up on a shelf somewhere unread. 15 books man what am I doing?

7. Charlaine Harris - Even though I don't own the last Sookie Stackhouse book I have 14 books by her including the Harper Connelly mystery series. Might soon cull the hell of this collection though.

8. Sarah Dessen/Sir Arthur Conan Doyle/David Eddings/Stephanie Laurens/Maria V. Snyder/Richelle Mead (as of later today) - Ok the crazy tie is because I have 11 books by each of these authors. Richelle will be sneaking into this group once my copy of Silver Shadows drops through my letterbox :P

9. Ally Carter - Ally has got this group all to herself for now with just a mere 10 books, maybe more will join her in time :P

10. Trudi Canavan/Cassandra Clare/John Green/Georgette Heyer - This is another case of "How did *that* author sneak in here? I own 3 freaking copies of TFIOS and a french edition of Looking For Alaska that's how I have 9 books by John and these other authors.

So that's my top ten(ish) authors that I own the most books by! It's a seriously scary list when you think that all these account for nearly 250 books in my library! That is a quarter of all the books I own right there!

Anyone else got a similar addiction to buying multiple pretty editions of books by authors you love?
Have a great Tuesday folks!
Ray x


YALC Haul - from mah Youtube

 Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Since I don't know how many of yous guys watch my Youtube channel (you're not missing much I'll grant you) I thought y'all might be interested in seeing the video I made after YALC and dang if I didn't actually edit it a bit too! *le gasp*. It's basically just me going through all the books I bought and acquired while at YALC, along with the cool swag and signatures I got in the books I specifically took with me.

Books Bought/Acquired
The Manifesto on How to be Interesting - Holly Bourne
Landline - Rainbow Rowell
The Memory Keeper - Natasha Ngan
The Illusionists - Laure Eve
The Falconer - Elizabeth May
My Invisible Boyfriend - Susie Day
Glimpse - Kendra Leighton
You Don't Know Me - Sophia Bennett
The Shadow's Curse - Amy McCulloch
This Book is Gay - James Dawson
Naomi & Eli's No Kiss List - David Levithan & Rachel Cohn
Heart-Shaped Bruise - Tanya Byrne

I did also film a bit of footage while I was at YALC but nearly all of it was updatey stuff when I was in the hotel so I have not got round to editing that together, if I will at all since it's not exactly riveting stuff and y'all have surely had enough of me waffling at you about YALC.

As I have previously mentioned I am *hoping* to get to writing reviews of the YALC titles that I read this summer, providing that I don't have another freak-out about my writing abilities. So maybe you'll get to see some of those soon-ish.

And in additional addendum to my post on Sunday - the slightly special don't-mind-me-I'm-just-wigging-out post. I am either gonna post what I wrote post-freakout on a separate page on my blog (so it'll be accessible via the page bar) or to my Wattpad account. If you wanna give it a read that's fucking great but after I initially post it and tweet it out I ain't gonna mention it cos I don't want to feel like I'm forcing something y'all don't want onto you. *Edit* Above link now goes to the story snippet ^_^

Enough nattering though
Ray x


Writing Ray - Forget yesterday, write today

 Sunday, 20 July 2014

So if you were one of the 6 people who saw the post that was here up until this afternoon or if you saw my rather frantic twitter conversation late last night then you might know that I had a bit of a writerly freak-out yesterday. This sudden spiral into fear and self-doubt came over me after I finished an amazing fantasy novel that had me flailing all over the place when I realised how long I had to wait for the sequel.

Then that stupid little voice came nagging - "*Your* book will never be this good," it said like the little shit it is. "Why you haven't written anything for 2 months!" "What's the point of even carrying on with it? It won't be half as good as *that* book" Y'know the standard kind of negative shit internet trolls throw at you, except this was coming from my own fucking brain. *anguished wail*

I go through phases like this where a previously optimistic and happy mood just get shattered and dragged down by sudden negative thoughts. Then I find it very hard to feel good about any projects I'm working on and everything I do feels all rather futile and pointless - "It's all shit so why should I continue with it?" kind of mentality.

So I wigged out on twitter. Several people came to my aid; my ever-awesome bestie/twinnie Jess, the lovely Lily from The Whispering of the Pages and another kind twitter user. All had very helpful advice for me to try and motivate me back onto the horse when all I was thinking of was bolting and never looking back at my book again.

This morning, when I woke up at around quarter to nine I picked up the notepad and pencil I had put on my beside table before I went to sleep, stuck in my earphones and started to write. And I wrote. I kept writing even while I was in Wetherspoons getting breakfast with Le Boyf (who has to be credited for his awesomeness in not questioning why this particular Sunday morning I simply *had* to write and bring my notebook with me to breakfast). I finally finished the scene I was writing around 2pm-ish and felt pretty awesome.

12 pages of my yellow legal notepad (because those things are cool) were full of my scribblings. After two months of nothing but angsty thoughts that I should be writing but wasn't, I had gone and got 12 pages written. Fucking suck on that Negative Ray of Yesterday.

I then spent the next 2 hours typing up all my penciled pages into my Scrivener project - in a separate document since this scene is not necessarily going to end up in the book, I wrote it in 1st person POV rather than the 3rd person POV I've been writing the rest of the book in.

It turns out that I managed to write 1,944 words today. Nearly 2K of story that I didn't have before - regardless of whether it goes into the book or not, it has gotten me to write and think about my book, write from my main character's POV about a time in her life that was a fulcrum between the old and the new. What I've written today has given me a base to jump from to write the scenes between my main character and the person she meets for the first time in this scene.

I have to say a massive thank you to Jess & Lily for being so awesome so late last night - without you guys I may have spent the rest of the night bad-thinking myself to a point where I simply just put my notebooks away so they couldn't make me feel guilty about abandoning them. And Stupid Negative Ray would have simply said "It's for the best," without a second thought.

Thanks to you I didn't do that, I got up the determination to start writing and damn it I wrote for something like 4 hours! *super-massive squooshy hugs*

Now the only thing I have left to say is - Does anyone want to read what I wrote this morning? Just purely for the hell of it with no context if you don't want to know the whole spiel about my book. If so then please leave me a comment (heck leave me one even if you don't, I just don't get enough comments these days and it makes me a bit sad) and I shall either post it up on here or email it over depending on how chicken I feel.

So yea, let me know.

Sorry for being weird guys,


YALC Write-up - Sunday

 Friday, 18 July 2014

So this is it. The last post I going to write about YALC which was now almost one whole week ago. It’s very weird to think that tomorrow morning I’m not going to have to wake up at the ungodly hour of 7am (Positively late compared to some of the times people got up at in order to catch their trains last week). I am really looking forward to having a lie-in for the first time in nearly a fortnight. Although I can’t sleep the day away as I am starting my volunteer work at my local Library for the Summer Reading Challenge. May talk about that a bit later in the summer.

Anyways! Sunday at YALC – as you will know from my Fringe& Blogger Brunch post yesterday Jess and I got in the convention centre early to attend the Brunch and as the first thing we planned to do was get our copies of Half Bad signed by Sally Green we had a good chunk of time to kill before we needed to join a queue (god I love queuing – it’s so British :P).

So we ambled around the merch tables while it was quiet to snag some more of the adorable vinyl figures & bobbleheads – I got a Black Widow bobblehead because she is a *BOSS* and I love her to bits, as well as a Hodor figure for le Boyf because… Hodor.

Eventually we felt it was time to head back to the Book Zone to get a good spot in line for Sally Green so that we wouldn’t end up being too late to the I’m too Sexy for this Book Panel not long afterwards. Due to a very lucky coincidence Jess and I had our awesome Queue Buddy Charlotte join us for more chats while we waited, along with a fly-by visit from Lucy in her OITNB cosplay.

Once the signing started the queue moved pretty quickly and before you knew it I was stood in front of Sally, my brain suddenly devoid of all memory of what the hell happened in Half Bad and she asked me what I thought was going to happen in Half Wild. *blushes* This is the curse of my insane reading speed – I remember some books really well and others despite loving them drop out of my head as fast as I finish them. 

Afterwards we dashed over to the panel area to grab seats for possibly the most entertaining panel of the entire weekend. I’m sure most people have already heard about the most infamous comments from the panellists so I won’t reiterate them all here. I particularly liked Cat Clarke telling us how if she could go on a date with any fictional character she’d want to go on a date with Queen Cersei since she had just peed next to Lena Headey in the green room toilets. I think most of the authors at YALC were rather excited at sharing the green room with the various actors and actresses at LFCC.

Following hot on the heels of the panel was the Cat Clarke signing so we motored over to *another* queue to wait for her to arrive. Enter Queue Buddy Charlotte again to keep us company. I had brought my copy of a Kiss in the Dark for Cat to sign, which I finished recently and really enjoyed. Out of Cat’s four books the only one I've still not read is Torn so will have to sort that out soon. I have dug through my old posts to find my review of Entangled which I loved back in 2010, of her third book I told Cat “Undone undid me.” I think I will have to do a review of Kiss the Dark real soon…

We were meant to attend the Sisters Doing it for Themselves panel but as we hadn't actually had a proper meal on Saturday we decided to go and buy some food and sit down for a while instead. There followed nomming of delicious paninis and slouching on sofas up in the seating area upstairs. It was nice to just space out for a little bit after so many hours of intense alertness on bookish things. 

Rested and fed we toddled back downstairs with the intent of joining the queue for Sarra Manning's signing and found it remarkably shorter than expected for an author who has been around for so long. But this was more to our benefit as it meant we didn't have to wait long. During this time I had a bit of surprise when Stevie from SableCaught wandered over for a chat in an awesome wig that looked like it came from unicorns. I had waved a rather manic hello at Stevie the previous morning since I chickened out of actually trying to speak to her when I saw her at the Divergent premiere in March, so it was very lovely to speak to her. 

Sarra Manning was fab and when she snuck two books over to Jess from under the table I think my bestie was speechless for a moment or two. She has loved Sarra's books since she was 13 so I think that was one of the things that made her day. I am comparatively a Manning Newb having only read Adorkable - which I loved - so I really enjoyed seeing Jess have that moment with one of her favourite authors.

Once we had seen Sarra we wandered round to the next row of signing tables to catch Tanya Byrne to sign our copies of Heart-Shaped Bruise (mine being newly purchased that day and Jess's her awesome-looking proof copy). I have since read this book and I gotta say - wow - and hopefully will be compiling some more helpful thoughts into a review soon. 

I am fairly sure that I got my copy of the Killing Woods signed by Lucy Christopher after that but I didn't get anymore photos after this point so I'm not exactly sure. But I am very intrigued by the sound of her third book which promises to be as unexpected and intriguing as her debut novel Stolen which was a compelling and rather unsettling read. 

The day was beginning to wind down and the fatigue was starting to catch up to us but we'd heard from a little birdy in the form of Michelle from Fluttering Butterflies that all the books that had been hanging by ribbons on the book wall were going to be given away around 5 o'clock along with lots of other books, so we decided to loiter around until then. 

In the meantime Jess had the rather nifty idea of getting a copy of Matt Haig's Echo Boy for our friend Ellie of Book Addicted Blonde since we had planned to bring her copy of The Humans and Fangirl to get signed over the weekend but due to poor execution of said plan, hadn't managed it. But as you may have noticed by Ellie's tweets earlier this week after I went and gave her the book she rather liked this present :P

Right at the end of the day there was a lull in the book zone where nothing much was happening, I was sat on the floor trying to coax and curse my phone into actually updating twitter in spite of its inability to do so all weekend while Jess was over by the swag table chatting to some bloggy folk. All of a sudden there was a flurry of movement and a queue started forming! The Great Book Giveaway of YALC had begun! By the time Jess beckoned me over I had missed the jump and got ushered back down the line like a naughty queue-cutting gremlin. 

I was not lacking in people to chat to though and I got to have a fangirly discussion about my most favouritest (bugger you Blogger I'm using that word) author Tamora Pierce with Stevie who is quite possibly the only other person I know of who has read her books in this country. 

When the giveaway got started I was hoping to grab the copy of the Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski that I'd seen hanging from a ribbon - but alas it was long gone when I got there so instead I snagged a copy of the Falconer by Elizabeth May which sounds equally as awesome and since I bought a copy of The Winner's Curse from Waterstones today it all works out perfectly :P

After claiming our books Jess and I decided that we were done and decided to head off to grab some dinner before reclaiming our luggage and going to catch our train home. We had delicious burgers at a place called Byron on Earls Court Road and then got a cab from our hotel to Euston Station. Every time I am in a cab in London I do get awfully worried by the people driving around the city because I am always afeared that none of them actually have a license or know what driving is supposed to look like because dang if none of them have heard of lane discipline *chews hands*.

But we made it to the station alive and in time to buy some drinks before dragging ourselves practically a mile down the platform to get to our carriage (stupid A carriage being right at the front of the train). It was only a short wait until the train left and we were on our way back to Coventry. I tried to cram as much of Heir of Fire into my head while I still could since I had to leave the Kindle with Jess, finished or not. 

The return journey was kind of melancholy in the sense that we didn't want it to be over so fast. It had been such a whirlwind of fantastic conversations and meeting new people and authors and had felt so welcoming and warm that I know I'd give anything to go back there every weekend (although preferably in a better air-conditioned space with less of the non-YALC goers) and spend hours interacting with people who share my passion for books, reading and writing. 

But alas, the real world called... but at least we can escape into all the new worlds brought home from YALC when we need to get away. I know I will be spending many happy hours getting to know new characters and living their lives alongside them during this summer.

So that is it! Everything I have been able to dredge from my exhausted brain about last weekend. Anything I have neglected to mention is me being a derp and I apologise. Hopefully there will be other non-mahoosive posts coming soon as I attempt to write some GOD-DAMN REVIEWS! And when I have finished work for the summer I am also gonna do my damnedest to start writing again because I still owe Jess scenes! (nag me on Twitter people seriously)

Saturday Write-up is Here
Fringe & Blogger Brunch Write-up is Here
Jess's YALC posts for Saturday and Sunday

Now I shall be off to bed to sneak a bit of reading in before some much-needed sleep and tomorrow a lie-in! *huzzah*

Looking forward to YALC 2015 already guys.
Ray x


YALC Write-up - Fringe Event & Blogger Brunch!

 Thursday, 17 July 2014

Howdy folks, today I'm gonna be doing a somewhat *cough* shorter write-up of the events I went to in-between the two days at YALC. One was the Fringe Blogger & Author event organised by Sophia Bennett (Author of You Don't Know Me & The Look) which brought together over 50 UK YA authors and book bloggers and the other was the Blogger Brunch held on Sunday morning at Earls Court where a group of bloggers got to listen to four fabulous authors talk a bit about their books before they broke out the caffeine and croissants for general chat and mingling.

After the general mayhem of Day One at YALC Jess and I were damn near exhausted but after a quick freshen up and changeroo of totes we were ready to stagger back out of the hotel and down Earls Court Road to the nearby O'Neills pub. In the upstairs room there were already quite a few authors and several bloggers milling about mostly with cold drinks in hand because holy hell it was like a sauna up there!

I furnished myself with a deliciously cold Kopperberg (that doesn't look right but meh) from the bar and got some chips ordered because dang I was wobbly from lack of actual food all day - turns out cereal bars and cashews can only sustain you for so long before you feel really faint. It also turns out that if you guzzle down said cider then you are going to get tipsy almost instantaneously and have to take extreme care for the rest of the evening when speaking to people so they don't know how awfully wobbly and incoherent you are :S

I got to chat to several fab blogger peeps including Jenny from Wondrous Reads whose blog I've followed for possibly almost as as long as I've had my blog so like 4 odd years! Also chatted to another Jenny who was representing A Life Bound by Books - I had crossed paths with her so many times over the course of Saturday afternoon that it was starting to seem like we were following each other.

I also met Jim from YA Yeah Yeah, Carly from Writing from the Tub, Debbie from Snuggling on the Sofa, Faye from A Daydreamer's Thoughts and most likely a few others that I'm forgetting. *begging a thousand pardons*. I also was able to chat with Lindsay who has been great to talk about writing things on twitter these past few months since I've been having a damn good stab at writing a book -Lindsay is currently drafting on her second book in a YA Speculative series and editing the first and I gotta say that I shall be vair eager to read it when it gets published as it sounds tres intrigue :D

Once everyone had got settled Sophia thanked everyone for coming and encouraged us to buy raffle tickets (all the proceeds were going to the Siobhan Dowd Trust) for a chance to win one of seventeen awesome stacks of books. Then the photographic expertise of Jo Cotterill was called upon to get shots of all the bloggers and authors who came. Here be the Blogger pic - Can you spot me and Jess?

In the time before the raffle was drawn I scarfed down my chips to try and stabilise my super-wobbliness. Jim then got called upon to be the glamorous raffle assistant to help draw the winners; I actually got my ticket drawn so I got to pick from the amazing selection of book prizes.

I plumped for a stack containing books by Sophia Bennett herself, Kendra Leighton and Susie Day which all sound excellent and since all three ladies were at the Fringe event I was able to get them signed! Although pretty sure I looked rather like a plonker shyly sidling up them to ask for a signature. But had wonderful conversations with them all despite my inability by this point to string proper sentences together - I am very much looking forward to reading these three books. Thank you so much!

It was not much later after this Jess and I decided it was finally time for us to crash back to our hotel to sleep because we needed to be up in the morning to go to the Blogger Brunch! That being said I did read more of Heir of Fire (off Jess's Kindle, which she kindly lent to me for the weekend but then CRUELLY TOOK IT BACK ON SUNDAY NIGHT *sobs*) before I finally passed out for the night.

Next morning was just as early a get-up as Saturday and didn't bode too well to begin with because Mother nature is a bitch. But a hot shower and a pilfered cup of tea later and I was feeling a bit more alert and indulged in some more of Heir of Fire before Jess and I had to head out for the Blogger's Brunch. I did have the slight hiccup in that I had rather idiotically left my shoes out on the balcony overnight and of course - it rained. Cue 10 minutes of frantic hairdryering of my shoes to get them to a state of wearableness that wouldn't leave me with trenchfoot.

When we got to Earls Court we found that the queues were much more subdued and with the previous night's rain everywhere was considerably cooler *thank the gods* so Jess and I were able to just saunter round the building to Gate M where a YALC rep was waiting with a clipboard to let us breeze into the Con with no effort at all. Which was rather thrilling since it was only about 9:40 and we only had standard entry tickets :P

The Blogger Brunch had been organised by the lovely folks at Indigo (Uber thanks to Nina for letting me come along!) and we had the extreme pleasure of being able to meet James Dawson - Queen of Teen himself, Non Pratt, Matt Haig and Holly Black and hear them speak about their upcoming books, before we reverted to a more informal structure and everyone grabbed tea, coffee and pastries and mingled.

James Dawson was looking fabulously regal in his crown and was telling us about his new non-fiction book - This Book is Gay - which as you will quickly infer is about LGBT topics and issues. We all got an early copy of the book in our goodie bags and it looks to be a very interesting and informative read. James was passionate in talking about wanting this book to get into the hands of teens who may have questions about their sexuality especially as it's the kind of book he wishes he could have read when he was a teen. It's available from September 4th!

I did take with me my copies of Say Her Name, Trouble and The Coldest Girl in Cold town and the authors were all very lovely in signing them - James even drew little crowns when signing his books!

Overall they were both great events and I felt really lucky that I was able to go as they were quite small gatherings. I always tend to question my worthiness as a book blogger at these type of things since I've not actually done a proper book review for a couple of years. But everyone I spoke to was so nice and welcoming and I am really excited to get through all of their books during this summer.

Anyways it is getting late and I want to start a new book tonight.

My Saturday Write-up is here, Jess's Saturday & Sunday write-ups have now been posted so check them out! Stay tuned for my Sunday post.

Night folks!
Ray x


YALC Write-up - Saturday

 Wednesday, 16 July 2014

As a few of you might know I went to YALC last weekend with Jess and in short it was awesome. Like, seriously FUCKING AWESOME. Never has a weekend been so utterly devoted to books and the people who both create and read them and this was such an amazing thing to be able to attend. The whole weekend has already taken on a surreal quality in my mind and it's so strange to think that something that was 3 months in the planning (for Jess & me) was done and dusted in 48 hours.

We begin our epic tale on Friday when Jess & I got the train down to London in an attempt to avoid an horrendously early start on Saturday. Lugging our trolley full of books down several flights of stairs at Euston station was an exercise in strength and fortitude we could have done without, however when we finally arrived at our hotel we discovered it was all of a 400 metre walk from the gates of Earls Court, which was pretty handy.

At this point we felt rather tired; or what we previously knew as tired - our definitions got slightly skewed a day later - so we opted to spend our Friday evening chillaxing on my room's balcony with strawberries and sparkling rose like classy gals, enjoying the view of all the cosplayers leaving the LFCC preview evening and schlepping their way down the street. Then came the obligatory early night before the Morning of Mayhem that was destined to be DAY ONE AT YALC!

Saturday was fucking hot. I mean seriously hot. Like hotter than hell's muggy balls - hot. Ask anyone in Earls Court what they thought of the Con on Saturday and "hot as fuck" would have been their first answer. We got pre-baked outside in the immense queues for standard entry that snaked around a good length of the conference centre with only oohing and aahing over cosplayers to entertain us. When we finally made it inside after narrowly avoiding sunburn and getting into a minor argy-bargy with some snotty queue-cutters *ptuey*, we had to batter our way across the merch zone with our trolley in tow in order to get to the Book Zone. Obviously this was in the furthest corner away from the main doors so it took us a good 10 minutes or so to break free of the crush.

By the time we made it to the Book Zone information point we found that all of the Superfans Panel tickets had gone and that the places for C.J. Skuse's writing workshop had already been drawn - much to our dismay. So to commiserate we flung ourselves at the lovely Waterstones staff and swapped them handfuls of money for armfuls of books - so it worked out quite wonderfully. Then we plonked ourselves down in the awesome beanbags next to the even awesomer Book Wall in order to kill a bit of time before the signings started.

At this point we started chatting to Lily from The Whispering of the Pages  and had the first of several fab booky conversations with her over the weekend (I'm still rather jealous that Lily had C.J. Skuse as a lecturer at Uni). Then we made the slightly deranged decision to venture out of the relative quiet of the Book Zone and plunge back in to the smorgasbord of people in the LFCC merch area. Lots of shuffling, one Batman bobblehead and a growing sense of panic later we retreated to safety and joined an already impressive queue for Rainbow Rowell.

Jess, Charlotte & Lucy Queue Buddies !
This became the queue of legends; that defied all queuing logic and decorum, snaking hither and thither with the end of the line being an elusive pot of gold that no one could seem to find. We landed a spot about one and a half snakes from the start and were standing with a fabulous few ladies who became the Ultimate Queue Buddies as we chatted for the hour and god knows how much extra we waited for the signing to start. Charlotte & Lucy thanks for making the time pass so enjoyably!

During this time there were two awesome occurrences. Firstly I was able to dash over to C.J. Skuse's signing table and get my copy of Dead Romantic signed. There followed a lot of gushy fangirling about how much I loved Rockaholic and Pretty Bad Things and how much they helped me deal with some of the crazy shit I was dealing with back in 2011. Plus my glee about the fact my review of Pretty Bad Things is actually *quoted* in the back of Dead Romantic! C.J. was so lovely and wrote me such a nice message in my book and she even posed for a pic!

The second awesome occurrence during the Rainbow queue was due to the random happenstance of the Celebrity Wrangling Area (or the Green Room in common parlance) being tucked behind the Book Zone. We all got a rather gob-smacking surprise when Lena Headey (Queen Boss Cersei herself) came breezing through the queue right behind Jess! Needless to say there was quite a good deal of flailing amongst the Queue Buddies after that! Eventually Rainbow did appear and we slowly shuffled our way alond to get our books signed. I can't now remember what I said to Rainbow but I'm sure it was fangirly :P

Sashaying sideways from Rainbow's table I stopped at Lucy Saxon's and got her to sign my copy of Take Back the Skies. She was looking amazing in her Captain America Cosplay and I loved seeing the suitcase full of books that she brought to get signed - it's great to know that authors get just as fangirly as the rest of us :P

After all that we needed a bit of a break so Jess went to acquire more drinks while I stood pressed against a wall keeping me and the trolley out of the way of passer-bys. Then Jess dashed to her Blogger Workshop while I nabbed a seat at the Bring me My Dragon Fantasy panel. Alas I don't recall much of it as I was spacing out massively with the heat, dehydration and hunger plus I had to dash off partway through so I could sort myself out before I got in line for the Patrick Ness signing .

Another pleasant queue chatting experience whilst waiting for Patrick - and as we wound our way round the Book zone in the queue I managed to dive over to Amy McCulloch's table and get my copies of The Oathbreaker's Shadow and the Shadow's Curse signed. Amy was really nice and I'm really looking forward to reading and hopefully reviewing this duology in the next couple of months. (Pray to the reviewing gods for me so they send me some mojo).

While Patrick Ness was signing my copy of A Monster Calls, which I read very recently, I told how it made me cry while I was at work - he replied with "You're Welcome." Proof of what I had already suspected; that authors revel in the tears of their readers. :P Something I'm sure Jess would be quick to accuse me of as well *looks innocent*

We were onto the home straight now and at some point around this time (everything got real fuzzy towards the end of the day) I stumbled across Laure Eve on the Books With Bite stand and asked if she would sign my copy of The Illusionists. I didn't manage to read Fearsome Dreamer before I bought the second book but I've got faith that I'm going to really like this series so no worries.

The last two authors we met were Holly Bourne (who Jess was super-excited for since she got to exclusively reveal Holly's new book and she is quoted in the back of it :D) and Natasha Ngan. I got a pic of Holly as she was signing our copies of The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting
in her perfectly colour-matched dress. She told us how hard it had been to find a dress in the same colour as the vibrant page edges of the book but she succeeded magnificently!

Natasha was wonderfully chatty and really nice and I'm going to have to look into getting her first book The Elites after I've read the Memory Keepers as I mentioned to her how glorious I thought the cover was. I don't know how coherent I was by this point so I may just have drivelled at her most of the time we were talking.

So we had reached the end of everything we wanted to get done on Saturday and we had to get ourselves freshened up for the Fringe Blogger & Author Event at a nearby pub. So very wearily we trundled our way back across the now-slightly less crowded Earls Court (Managing to get this pic of the most awesome Castiel cosplay I saw all weekend on the way), so we could drop off most of our stuff at the hotel.

For me Saturday was generally a successful day, I did gripe and bitch about the heat, my crappy knees and the need for proper queuing lanes, but I really enjoyed myself and all the conversations I had with authors and bloggers especially since I've not felt like a proper book blogger for a few years as the last actual book review I did was in 2012. It was a really great opportunity to reconnect with the community and I do now have some of that blogging fervour back that I lost along with my confidence in reviewing. Maybe over the next few months when I'm not working full-time and in a strange limbo space of studying and whatever else I fill my time with I can start to ease myself back into writing reviews and articulating my thoughts and feelings about books like I once did.

Now if you have gotten this far you are to be commended as it's been a post of epic proportions and I'm only a third of the way through. There is still to come my write-up on The Fringe & Blogger Brunch events and Sunday at YALC itself. So stay tuned for those later this week.

Alas it is late and I must sleep because work tomorrow and grumpy Ray is not all that good at her job.


Hope you like this post folks!
Ray x


June Reading Round-off - the lazily late edition

 Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Well howdy there folks. As you might have guessed I had a bad blogger moment and disappeared from the interwebs for something like a week. My excuse? Pokemon... I had a little week-long binge on Soul Silver and it kind of distracted me from the readathon and everything else. So obviously I didn't finish anything during the YALC Readathon which continues my track record of being shit at readathons.

But anyways here is a brief-ish round-up of what I did finish during June. It was surprisingly quite a good month (if you ignore the Pokemon week)

June Reading
50. Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan (3/6/2014 PM)
51. Angelfall by Susan Ee (4/6/2014 PM) *RE-READ*
52. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (10/6/2014 PM) *RE-READ*
53. Captain Jack's Woman by Stephanie Laurens (10/6/2014 PM)
54. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (12/6/2014 AM) *RE-READ*
55. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord (14/6/2014 PM)
56. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (15/6/2014 AM) *RE-READ*
57. Reasons for Marriage by Stephanie Laurens (17/6/2014 PM)
58. Louder than Words by Laura Jarratt (18/6/2014 PM)
59. The Name on your Wrist by Helen Hiorns (19/6/2014 PM)
60. Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope (20/6/2014 AM)
61. Ark Angel by Anthony Horowitz (21/6/2014 PM) *RE-READ*
62. Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz (21/6/2014 PM)
63. Crocodile Tears by Anthony Horowitz (22/6/2014 AM)
64. Revived by Cat Patrick (30/6/2014 PM)

It was quite an eclectic month with a mix of Fantasy and Contemporary fiction plus a bit of Alex Rider re-reading. I have had the last two books in the series sitting unread for a year or two so I thought I'd finally finish them and then I could cull the books. I have now donated almost all of my Anthony Horowitz books (including 4 of the Power of Five series) to my school's library since they're likely to get far more well read by the students than they are by me.

Book of the Month
My favourite book in June was a bit of a surprise. I saw it on a table display in Waterstones last month and since I was buying some books to read during the readathon *or not as was the case* I thought I'd give it a go since the blurb sounded fascinating and the cover was beautifully intense. Louder than Words by Laura Jarratt is a story told from the point of view of a girl who hasn't uttered a word to anyone since she was six. Rafi is a really intriguing character as it's not clear why she stopped talking and over the course of the story the mystery begins to unravel and we get to learn more about her relationship with her brother Silas and her artistically distant Mother. I really liked the development of Rafi's friendship with Josie and the inclusion of quotes that the two of them like scattered through the book was lovely. The whole book had lots of thought-provoking moments and I got really invested in the characters - so much so that there was a point near the end when I got vair concerned and was almost shouting "Don't you fucking dare!" at the book. But yea excellent UKYA Contemp novel and y'all should give it a look.

Honourable mention goes to Joanna Trollope's modern rewrite of Sense & Sensibility. I have read the Austen original at least once so I thought I'd give this new take on the classic story a go. It was written for the rather awesome Austen Project which is getting bestselling authors to rewrite Jane Austen's novels in a modern setting. So far there has been Sense & Sensibility, and Northanger Abbey has been re-done by Val McDermid. Pride & Prejudice and Emma are due to be announced soon.

So that's what I read last month. I've had a pretty good reading month so far in July (actually finished some of the YALC titles I meant to read in June) and since this Friday me and Jess are heading down to London for YALC!!! *flails* Lawd knows I'm insanely excited and struggling to process the fact that it's finally here and I'm mere days away from meeting a whole fuckton of really awesome authors that I'm going to have to try and speak to reasonably normally. O_o

So speak to y'all again soon.


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