YALC 2016 

For the second year in a row, I had the pleasure of attending the Young Adult Literature Convention or YALC for short. This year is the third time the event has been held and it was started by Malorie Blackman, author of the ‘Naughts and Crosses’ series. 

Last year I attended and was inspired some of the bloggers I met there. So YALC is the reason that this blog exists and for that reason I am fond of it. Unfortunately, I was only able to attend on the Saturday this year, which was probably for the best considering I was sick when I went. Nonetheless, I had to go, no matter how ill I was (also the tickets are non-refundable…)

The journey was a hassle to say the least and there were quite a few train changes throughout. I live in an outer borough of London so I’m quite lucky in that respect, but as I don’t travel that much it was still a struggle. But, so that I did not get lost, I just followed the masses in cosplay.

As soon as I got there I went straight over to the freebies table and crammed my tote bag full of them. I now have tons of posters, badges and little postcard things. There was even a temporary tattoo; how could I possibly resist?!

To be quite honest, one of the best part of the free stuff at YALC has to be the tote bags. And this year I got a ‘Lady Midnight’ one, which I’m supremely pleased with. 

After the freebie table had been well and truly raided, I spent a while perusing the book stalls. Of course, the sheer amount of books overwhelmed me and within a matter of minutes my money was gone and my bag was about ten times heavier.

A nice touch this year was the Waterstones pop-up store. Last year, it was just an elongated stall, but this year there were shelves and a cash register and everything.  Also the staff were all dressed up in there bookish cosplay.

It was here that I had the pleasure of running into V. E. Schwab , which was a complete surprise! She was kind enough to sign the copy of ‘A Darker Shade of Magic’, which I dashed to buy when I saw her there.

I actually only went to see one talk at YALC this year and that was the Squad Goals talk featuring my favourite, Holly Bourne. 

I don’t know why I sat so far back, but I left a bit early anyway, because I wanted to get in line for Holly’s signing. It was so nice meeting her and she signed some books I brought on behalf of my friend.

Something I was massively thankful for once agin this year was the chill out area. I was able to eat my lunch in comfort and flick through my freebies and purchases.

Speaking of purchases, here are all the books I obtained at YALC this year:

  • ‘The Versions of Us’ by Laura Barnett
  • ‘Changers’ the T Cooper and Allison Glock-Cooper
  • ‘How Not To Disappear’by Clare Furniss
  • ‘Illuminae’ by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • ‘Accidental Superstar’ by Marianne Levy
  • ‘Darkmere’ by Helen Maslin 
  • ‘Crow Moon’ by Anna McKerrow
  • ‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ by V. E. Schwab
  • ‘Contagion’ by Teri Terry
  • ‘The Warrior Heir’ by Cinda Williams Chima

I am very pleased with all my new books and the YALC event as a whole. It’s a great place to meet like minded people and make new friends. If you haven’t been yet I would definitely consider attending next year.



Creating Your Characters | Being A Young Writer #3

If you’re writing your story, you may be thinking that it doesn’t matter too much about your characters because your plot is the best thing since sliced bread. Well you would be very wrong.

Your characters, in my opinion, are the most important component to your book. It is your characters that connect to your readers and it is this connection on which the success of your writing relies.

But you may be a writer who struggles with characterisation in all aspects of the word. So today I’m going to tell you how I deal with writing my characters for them to seem realistic.

I think the most important thing to keep in mind is clichés. Although your characters may accidentally fit into some of them, you generally want avoid them. It makes your writing seem bored and does not mark it as individual.

Also, when giving information on your characters don’t go overboard . Yes it is important the reader gets to know the characters to create connections with them, but take it easy. Ease up on the accelerating pad and drop in facts here and there not all at once. Not only will this improve your writing style by making it less stodgy, but it will allow the connection between reader and character to be more gradual.

The next thing I’m going to say may sound completely ridiculous, but just go with it. Let the characters write themselves. Of course you will be the one churning out the words, but the character will make decisions within the plot based on traits you’ve given them. If you force them away from a decision, it won’t be realistic, because you will be going against their personality.

This is all just my opinion on the whole writing process and you may disagree and do things differently. I hope this helped.

[GUEST POST] How To Motivate Yourself To Write | Being A Young Writer #2

Hey guys, I’m Michelle and I blog at The Writing Hufflepuff Today I’m here to talk to you guys about motivation. Sometimes it’s hard to find motivation to write, even though we love to do it. So how do you find the motivation to finally start writing?

Just do it


Of course that’s easier said than done, because often even though we open our notebook or Word document, we’ll still stare at the empty page or even at our already written words and just close it again because ‘nope, not feeling it today’. I’d still advise you to try. I’ve found that sometimes it does really help to just do it. I wake up, thinking that I’m not going to write anything that day because I’m tired and without any inspiration. Then I open my document and all of a sudden I’ve written 2000 words. But like I said, it’s easier said than done.

Continue reading “[GUEST POST] How To Motivate Yourself To Write | Being A Young Writer #2”

Review of ‘The Girl of Ink and Stars’ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

girlofinkandstarsTitle: The Girl of Ink and Stars

Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Publisher: Chicken House Ltd.

Publication Date: May 5, 2016

Pages: 228

Blurb via Amazon: Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella dreams of the faraway lands her cartographer father once mapped. When her friend disappears, she volunteers to guide the search. The world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.

‘The Girl of Ink and Stars’ is Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s debut novel and what a debut it is. Hargrave paints a beautiful picture of a made up land and as I always do in made up lands within books, I want to explore them. But like the main character, thirteen year old Isabella, I was forbidden to explore at the start of the book, so I genuinely empathised with her frustration and longing.

Continue reading “Review of ‘The Girl of Ink and Stars’ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave”

Review of ‘Lady Midnight’ by Cassandra Clare

Lady MidnightTitle: Lady Midnight

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Publication Date: March 8, 2016

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 720

Blurb via Amazon: The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark-who was captured by the faeries five years ago-has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind-and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?
Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series. Continue reading “Review of ‘Lady Midnight’ by Cassandra Clare”

Finding Your Writing Style | Being A Young Writer #1

Hi guys! I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while and with Camp NaNoWriMo coming around very soon, I thought this was especially relevant. This is going ti be a series, but I don’t know how long it will be and there may even be some guest posts featured as part of it!

I myself am a young writer and have been wanting to write a novel for a long time now. I wanted it to be a YA novel, but I had never really set myself a preference on what genre I wanted to right in. I’ve tried sci-fi, contemporary, paranormal (multiple times) and most recently I am working on a high fantasy project.

Genre is a massive part of finding your writing style, because authors who write contemporary novels have very different styles to authors who write in the fantasy genres. Contemporary tends to focus so much more on emotion and bringing mundane things to life in a beautiful way. However, there are certainly similarities in that both writing styles can be rather poetic in how they flow and are read. Continue reading “Finding Your Writing Style | Being A Young Writer #1”

The Birthstone Book Tag

I haven’t done a book tag in ages and ages, so while I trawl my way through the last half of ‘Lady Midnight’, I thought I would feel the void on my blog with a nice book tag. I saw this one and thought it was unusual, but sounded fun.

GARNET (January) – Wards off negative energies: The darkest/ most evil book character:


It would have been impossible for me to not mention this book during this book tag, or any book tag for that matter! ‘Carry On’ by Rainbow Rowell is one of my favourite books of all time. It is seriously that good and it contains the Insidious Humdrum, a character that is just made up of darkness and evil. It would have been awful for me to not put it on the list. Continue reading “The Birthstone Book Tag”

The EU Referendum: What Now?

This is a blog for something that I am very passionate about; books. Normally they are all I talk about on here, but as a British national and citizen I feel very passionately about this too.

After  all the build up to this historic referendum and seeing so much of the ‘Vote Remain’ on my social media, I was genuinely surprised to wake up and find this. Britain has decided to leave the EU and for that I am happy, for the most part, but like everyone, the uncertainty scares me. I am watching the news showing the graphs of the value of the pound dropping down and down. We are no longer at this time, the 5th largest economy in the world, having been taken over by France. And to top it all of, Donald Trump has backed our decision, which is hardly what I would like to see.

Yes, you may be scared, I am too, but you have to remember that this will all stabilise. Right now, some of the television channels are definitely scaremongering, showing us the value drop for the pound, but completely ignoring the fact that it has already begun to stabilise. The banks have liquid funds people; they can give you loans still, you won’t lose your savings. It will all be okay in the end! Continue reading “The EU Referendum: What Now?”

The Return

So, as some of you may have noticed, I haven’t posted anything in about two months. This isn’t because I’m lazy, even though that can be true some times, but it is instead because I have had to revise for my GCSEs.

For those of you who are not in the UK or just don’t know, the GCSEs are massive exams for secondary school students over here. They are a massive deal and basically determine what I’ll be able to do for a career in the future. I would say that GCSEs are the UK equivalent of SATs in the US (I think).

I just wanted to say sorry for not posting anything for so long, but I didn’t forget about this blog. In fact, I’ve been coming back every so often to see how things are going. And I have been pleasantly surprised. It makes me so happy to see that even when I’m not posting content, people are still visiting the blog. It makes me feel as if what I am doing here is actually worthwhile.

This is probably the worst reading slump I’ve ever had since I started reading when I was two years old. I am getting increasingly annoyed at myself, because I just can’t bring myself to pick up a book, especially now when my examinations are actually taking place. Also, ashamedly, I must admit that even though I pre-ordered ‘Lady Midnight’ by Cassandra Clare, I am only on page 90 of about 700 and have been for quite a while.

On a more positive and exciting note, I will be attending YALC 2016 on the Saturday 30th July. This is especially exciting considering that it was this event which inspired me to start this blog and it’s just a great event. I’m not sure if the schedule is up yet, but I’ll be sure to keep an eye out.

Lastly, I was thinking that I would start doing more posts about issues that aren’t necessarily bookish. Look at the tag ‘Real Talk’ to see what I mean What do you guys think? Comment below if that would interest you.

❤ DW


Author Interview: Lisa Drakeford, Author of ‘The Baby’

So I was supposed to put this up ages ago, but I just got completely swamped with other stuff and I tried to do it, but my computer refused to work on WordPress. Anyway, here it is!


Daniel: To those who haven’t yet read ‘The Baby’, can you sum the book up in six words?

Lisa: Surprise. Babies. Have. Massive. Effects!

Daniel: What other YA books would you recommend to fans of ‘The Baby’ and why?

Lisa: Seed by Lisa Heathfield because it’s damn good YA fiction. Trouble by Non Pratt because she gets teenage girls. We Were Liars by E Lockhart because that island evokes a rawness which makes you ache. One by Sarah Crossan because….oh,it’s beautiful. Stolen by Lucy Christopher because she makes you feel things that you shouldn’t. Anything by Melvin Burgess because he’s the king of YA and anything by Kevin Brooks because he gets teenage boys.

Daniel: How happy were you with the ending of ‘The Baby’, without giving anything away?

Lisa: I was extremely happy with the ending. I was determined to make The Baby as real as possible. It’s set in five months with a month for each character. It would be totally unrealistic if, after every month each story was complete. That’s not real life. The Baby is a snapshot of the five character’s lives. Their lives will go on. (Indeed they have done, in the sequel which is sitting in my computer which nobody has seen.)

Daniel: Why did you want to deal with the issues of teenage pregnancy and domestic abuse in the book?

Lisa: I don’t really deal with teenage pregnancy – it’s more about teenage parenthood. Nicola’s baby is a ready-made pregnancy. She’s one of a handful of people who don’t know they’re pregnant until the latter stages of childbirth. That said, the UK has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Western Europe, so it doesn’t feel too unreal to include it. The grounds for Nicola’s pregnancy are fairly typical and have to be acknowledged.

Domestic abuse? I know it goes on and I’d like to think that someone might be able to relate to a destructive, twisted relationship which became difficult to deal with. Both Jonty and Olivia knew things were wrong but didn’t have the maturity to solve the problem. I’d like to think that by the end of the story the reader has a better understanding of how these things can happen. It was important that Jonty realised the consequences of his actions. I like to think that he did.

Daniel: What was the hardest part about writing about teenage pregnancy and/or domestic abuse?

Lisa: The domestic abuse was very difficult to write about. I didn’t want people to automatically hate Jonty. I wanted them to see why he did what he did and I didn’t want Olivia to be a tragic victim. They are both normal teenagers who let a difficult situation get out of hand. I hope I explained the behaviour rather than excused it. This was always my concern. It was forever at the back of my mind when I wrote it.

The pregnancy was less difficult to write about. I’ve had two kids of my own (albeit not when I was a teenager) so I know what kind of effect a baby can have on your life. And I’ve taught teen mums so I understand how isolated, lonely and scary that kind of life can be.

Daniel: Which character was the most interesting to write and why?

Lisa: It’s a toss-up between Jonty and Alice. I’ve taught so many Alices in my time. They’re adorable and fascinating and I loved the freedom she gave me to go into too much detail which even my editor couldn’t argue with. I enjoyed writing Jonty’s chapter because I think his character develops the most. He grows up over the five months and it was lovely to be able to write about this.

Daniel: Are you an avid reader and what kind of books do you like to read?

Lisa: I am – although incredibly slow. I’m currently reading The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. I started reading it at Christmas and it’s now the middle of February. That’s almost a criminal act. I couldn’t be a reviewer like you, that’s for sure. People might die of boredom waiting for my response. But I read anything (slowly) which I can believe in. This ranges from all the above mentioned YA authors, and when I allow myself an adult read, then I’ll always veer towards my tried and trusted favourites which include Tim Winton, Patrick Gale, Christos Tsiolkas, Julie Myerson and Jeffrey Eugenides. Most of these authors have written books for young adults as well, so my advice would be to seek them out. They’re fantastic.

Daniel: Which character in ‘The Baby’ would you say you were most like in terms of personality?

Lisa: Hahahaha – can I say Ben, he’s lovely? No, I’m not as nice as him but he has my music tastes. Olivia, I suppose. She’s a pretty standard teenager and I reckon I was just that.

Daniel: What would your advice to anyone writing a YA novel, especially one in the contemporary genre?

Lisa: I’d say do it. Do it NOW. I wanted to write a novel at 17 years old and I’m so cross with myself that I let 30 years lapse before I actually did. I let student life, a career, a marriage, a family and all the debris which they entail get in the way. That’s another virtual crime. Ooh yes, and talk to other writers, get inspired by them. And of course READ. Read, read and read.

Daniel: Finally, have you got any upcoming projects in the world of YA coming up in 2016?

Lisa: I have! Book 2 has just been signed by Chicken House and I’m so delighted by this. It took eighteen months from signing to launching The Baby so I’m really hoping this book comes out a bit quicker. I’ve already got my editing head on, so please, watch this space!

Thank you to Lisa for doing the interview and thank you to you for reading this.


❤ DW