Let’s Discuss! Planning for YALC 2019

Hi everyone! I keep seeing these posts and really wanted to add my own tips and tricks, so here we are.

I’m lucky enough to be going to YALC for all 3 days this year! I’ve been twice before, but only for one day at a time. This year it’s become possible to go for the whole weekend so I took my chance. I didn’t want to write this post from the prospective of something I know loads about as I haven’t done the whole weekend before, so instead I’m just going to lead you through what I’m doing in the lead up to the big weekend. Posts I’ve found helpful while planning are this one at Connie Reads and this one at For the Love of Books!

What’s YALC?

YALC stands for the Young Adult Literature Convention and is probably the biggest YA event we have in the UK. It takes place at London Olympia as part of London Film and Comic Convention, or LFCC. The convention is full of stalls, authors, publishers, workshops and talks.

1.Organise your travel beforehand

This is a big one for me. I’m staying at a hotel that’s a short tube ride away from the convention hall itself, and I’m having to get down to London on a train and a few tubes. I’ve actually never been on the tube in my life and it absolutely terrifies me! To prepare, I’ve done full research on how I’ll be getting there, home and to and from the convention hall each day.

2. Pack well and plan what to take

Of course I’m prioritising books and will be taking a suitcase for my books and a backpack for clothes (because of course clothes are less important). Luckily as YALC is in the summer I can travel fairly lightly! Each day I will either take my suitcase to YALC with me for my books, or my backpack, depending on how many books I need to have signed that day. I’ll also take a fair number of tote bags for extra purchases!

3. Take food and water

Food in London, and the Olympia, is expensive. YALC has a small cafe and have confirmed on Twitter this cafe has facilities to refill water bottles for FREE. I believe the Olympia itself (on lower levels) also has fountains. I’m eating breakfast at my hotel, taking food for in the day and having dinner out. If you need somewhere cheap for snacks or lunch, stop at the Tesco Express opposite the venue!

4. Make use of your ticket

This may sound like a stupid thing to suggest, of course you’re going to use your ticket! But what many people may not realise is that on the floors below you, London Film and Comic Convention is happening and if you’re into that stuff, it’s brilliant. It’s free to enter with your ticket so if you have a lull in the day (hard to find, but still), make sure you go and have a wander around if you can.

5. Take cash

This is one of the things I’m really going to prioritise this year. Many of the stallholders will take card I’m sure but having cash will be so helpful! It’ll also help me budget, as I’d like to stick to the cash I take out (let’s see how well that goes).

6. Check the schedules, and the floor plan

The YALC programmes are now available here, and the floor plan will be available at this link. I’d recommend printing these off before you leave, and circling/highlighting signings and events you want to attend.

7. Use Twitter (and other social media)

Social media is definitely your friend when it comes to YALC. I’m going to be turning on notifications for the publishers that are there, so when they tweet about ARCs/competitions I should see it right away! I’ll also have notifications on for YALC, the venue and my favourite authors, so I can know of any changes or unforeseen circumstances. If I can, I might also pick up a portable charger to make sure my phone stays charged for the whole day!

8. Take a notebook

I have a little notebook and pen handy to take with me, which already has lists of authors I want to see and my full itinerary for travelling.

9. Wear loose, light clothes and comfortable shoes

I cannot stress this enough. Yes, there are places to sit down and chill. If I recall, some of these in previous years haven’t been all that great (beanbag chairs in the chill out zone etc). But the reality is, you’re going to be on your feet, queuing and walking for most of the day. The venue is also HOT, with a glass roof!

Still have questions? Drop them below or check the official YALC FAQ. And if you see me over the weekend, come and say hi!

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let’s Discuss! New Designs in my Etsy Shop

Hi everyone! As you may or may not know, I’ve owned an Etsy shop since earlier this year where I design and print bookmarks. These range from quotes, to fandom, to TV shows! Due to me moving house, starting a new job and finishing up my first year of uni, I unfortunately haven’t been working on the shop or keeping up with it as much as I’d like. But recently, I finally got around to having a lot of new designs printed and I thought today I could show you a few!

If you’d like to make a purchase, any orders made before 12noon GMT tomorrow will be sent out on the same day!

Want 10% off? Use code SAVE10 at the checkout.

I didn’t have any generic, non fandom bookmarks and I thought these would make perfect gifts for the bookworm you don’t know which fandoms they’re part of! You can find it here for just £1/$1.30.

I just had to make some Anna and the French Kiss inspired designs, and I’m so happy with how my little hand drawn icons (the heart, rose and star) turned out. You can buy the set here for £2.90/$3.76.

How could I make new designs without including some Harry Potter ones? The pattern one might be my favourite so far! This set is also just £2.90/$3.47. Or if you just want one, they’re £1/$1.30 each and can be found on: Hogwarts is my Home, pattern and always.

I used to have a bookmark I could use in bookstagram photos that I’d hand painted myself, and loved it. I thought I’d take inspiration from that and make some #bookstagram designs! You can buy both here for £1.90/$2.47, the watercolour one here for £1/$1.30 or the galaxy one here for £1/$1.30.

This set was the first of my new designs, and I spent so much time trying to get each one unique to the colours of the books! The Raven Cycle is one of my favourite series ever, so it meant a lot to make these. You can buy the full set here for £3.20/$4.15.

You may or may not know that I’m a massive fan of the TV sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S, so I jumped on the chance to make a bookworm crossover! This set is just £1.90/$2.47.

Love, Simon has some great quotes, and I wanted to try my hand at making one in this style. The quote reads ‘Everyone should have to declare one way or another, & it should be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, whatever’. This two bookmark set is also £1.90/$2.47. Just want one? Find the Love, Simon design here for £1/$1.30 and the quote design here for the same price.

And last but not least, my boyfriend Josh has also pitched in and joined me this time! We both watched and loved The Umbrella Academy, and he wanted to take his own style to make this gorgeous 3 bookmark set for my shop. You can find them here for £2.90/$3.76.

Again, any orders made before 12noon GMT tomorrow will be sent out the same day, and if you’re thinking of making an order use the code SAVE10 for 10 percent off! Click the banner below to browse.

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let’s Discuss! DNF’ing Books

Hi all! You might be sat there wondering what on earth this title means. Well, for those of you who don’t know, DNF stands for Did Not Finish in the book community. And I’m here to talk about it!

What is DNF’ing?

Marking a book as DNF’d means you decided to put it down part the way through without completing the book.

Why would this happen?

For example, someone could DNF a book because they decide they didn’t like it, or the writing style isn’t for them, they don’t understand what’s going on, or maybe it just isn’t the right time for them to read it right now. I’ve definitely put books down before knowing it’s not for me right now but I’ll probably pick it up again in the future!

Why is this important?

It really depends on the reader to whether you DNF a book or not. I spent a long time never, ever DNF’ing books under any circumstance, determined to see it all the way through. It’s only in recent times that I’ve decided it’s not worth my time anymore.

And I think it all comes down to that – sometimes it’s just not worth your time to carry on reading a book you just know isn’t for you. Sometimes that could be temporary, sometimes forever.

When do I, personally, DNF a book?

I’ve been thinking about this subject because I recently decided to mark A Darker Shade of Magic as DNF’d. This was for a number of reasons:

  • I didn’t understand the full extent of the book
  • I decided I didn’t much care for the characters
  • I didn’t want to pick the book up at this particular time
  • I didn’t have any intrigue to the outcome of the story

This was a really hard thing for me to do, as obviously this is a very hyped read. But personally, it definitely wasn’t the right time for me. I’ve put it aside for now with the intention of maybe trying it again at some point in the future.

Where do you stand on DNF’ing books? Do you ever do it?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Blog Tour: The Storm Crow Q&A

Hi all! I’m honoured to be taking part in the blog tour for The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson. I have a review coming a little later and for now we have a Q&A with the author herself!

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for sending me a proof copy and making this interview possible. Before we begin let’s see a little about the book itself!

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In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.
That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.
But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.

And now for the interview with Kalyn. Thank you for being with us Kalyn!

1. For those who don’t know, can you sum up The Storm Crow in a sentence or two?

a. The Storm Crow is a young adult fantasy about a princess who ignites a rebellion to bring back the magical, elemental crows that were taken from her people in order to protect her kingdom from an enemy empire.

2. What inspired you to write The Storm Crow?

a. I read an article about a little girl who fed her neighborhood crows. They brought her gifts in return, which inspired a short story I wrote about a princess trapped in a tower and the crows that brought her pieces of the world. The idea stuck with me and later evolved into a kingdom whose entire way of life was based on magical crows.

3. The Storm Crow is your debut novel – how does it feel having your first book out there in the world?

a. It’s incredibly surreal! Most the time it doesn’t feel real, and then every once in a while something will really drive it home, like seeing my final copies or doing a signing for people who have actually read it.

4. Do you relate to any of your characters? If so, which?

a. I relate to all of them in different ways. Thia’s depression, Kiva’s loyalty, Caylus’s love of baking. I’d say I’m closest to Kiva though!

5. How did you find writing about depression/mental illness? It must have been an emotional journey!

a. It definitely wasn’t easy. I had to take a lot of breaks from writing and editing those scenes, but in the end, it was very cathartic.

6. And finally, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt while writing a debut novel? Any advice for budding writers?

a. Write the story you love! Don’t worry about trends or doing what you think readers want. Write your story

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let’s Discuss! My Trip to Dublin

Hi all! I’ve briefly mentioned recently that I was travelling to Dublin to meet Sophie from Mind of a Bookdragon, and today’s post is all about that!

A little background: me and Sophie met through the bookish Instagram community years ago. We’re not exactly sure of the year, but we think it’s about 5 years! We’ve talked a lot since then, and video called, but never had the chance to meet as I live in the UK and she lives in the USA. Until now! We were lucky enough to find ourselves close enough for me to pay her a visit, so I flew over for the day to Dublin, which is a brand new city for me!

This is the exact place Sophie and I saw each other (and of course ran to give each other hugs) for the first time! The photo of us was taken just minutes after we first saw each other 🙂

We spent a very full day exploring the city, which Sophie knows better than me and showed me around. It’s such a beautiful city!

We visited The Book of Kells and the Long Room together, and we were definitely the perfect people to see this place with. I believe it’s from this scene in Harry Potter.

Other adventures were bookish and non-bookish! By complete chance, I happened to be visiting on the day of the Pride Parade, which we went to see. It was absolutely brilliant and so fun, it really gave the city a different vibe and I felt so lucky to be there to see it.

We also went to the castle, the National History Museum, the Library and St Stephen’s Green, among many other places while exploring the city together! We also visited so many bookshops, including Hodges Figgis which is the Irish version of the British bookshop Waterstones and Ireland’s Oldest Bookshop.

Thank you again to Sophie for the many years of friendship and for our long awaited day together. I can’t wait to do it all again one day 🙂

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let’s Discuss! Books I Love But Never Mention

Hey readers! I’ve had this post idea for so long (like over a year), and I’m finally getting around to doing it. You know those books that just fade into the background but still deserve to be shouted about? Maybe they’ve been overshadowed, or aren’t talked about enough, or you read them years ago but still love them. These are those books for me!

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Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true
.

I definitely think this one is overshadowed by Everything Everything! As much as I love both books, this one deserves to be talked about too..and I’m so excited for the movie.

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Mitsuha, a high school girl living in a rural town deep in the mountains, has a dream that she is a boy living an unfamiliar life in Tokyo. Taki, a high school boy living in Tokyo, dreams that he is a girl living in the mountains. As they realize they are changing places, their encounter sets the cogs of fate into motion. The light novel is written by director Makoto Shinkai of the animated film Your Name.

This one is a little different, mainly because I would usually talk about the movie, but I adore the light novel version too.

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It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.
Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.
But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

I do not see this book enough! It was one of my favourites of 2018, and was such an important read for me.

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On the anniversary of her daredevil brother’s death, Jaycee attempts to break into Jake’s favorite hideout—the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum. Joined by four classmates, each with their own brand of dysfunction, Jaycee discovers a map detailing her brother’s exploration and the unfinished dares he left behind.
As a tribute to Jake, Jaycee vows to complete the dares, no matter how terrifying or dangerous. What she doesn’t bargain on is her eccentric band of friends who challenge her to do the unthinkable: reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

I reckon this one is the most underhyped on this list, because it’s one of my favourite books ever but is never talked about. This book focuses heavily on grief and friendship, but the most awesome thing ever is that it’s set in abandoned buildings in Ohio. They’re real places too – how cool is that?

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Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

I mean, I can’t exactly say this book is underhyped. It was actually my favourite book for a long time, but the reason I don’t mention it much anymore is because I don’t know how I’d feel about it if I read it now, and a big part of me doesn’t want to risk reading it in case I don’t enjoy it!

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Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves. 
Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.
That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Another really underhyped book that I adored when I read it. Romance and time travel? Yes and yes.

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In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.
Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

I loved this book, but I read it all the way back in 2016. I’m desperate to get my hands on The Rose and the Dagger, but I just don’t have time right now to reread the first one.

Other books I don’t mention enough are The Raven Cycle, Six of Crows and A Court of Thorns and Roses! Who else is excited for Call Down the Hawk in November?

Which books do you love but never talk about?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Pride Month: LGBTQIA+ Books I Love

Hi all! I’ve been seeing some great LGBTQIA+ books around for Pride Month, and have been reading some myself. Today’s post is about some of my personal favourites I’ve picked up over the years, so if anyone needs recommendations for Pride Month reads, here you are!

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A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.
Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

This is definitely one of my favourite all time contemporaries and LGBTQIA+ books ever. I adored this read, and it’s one of the first I recommend to people.

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Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close – until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.

Another of my favourite all time contemporaries! I’d love to reread this book as it’s been a few years since I picked it up.

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Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.
That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.
Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

I had to include a few fantasy reads in here and this one is one of the best! I can’t wait for the sequel later in the year.

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17 year old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.
But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective. 
Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?

I only recently read this book (review here) and it was so interesting, because not only did we have the f/f relationship but also Bengali culture.

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Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?
Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.
That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.
When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

You Know Me Well stands out from other LGBTQIA+ books because it focuses first on friendship, and second on relationships.

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Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore, and he’s sort of got a boyfriend, even if he’s kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.
Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.
They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…

I couldn’t write this post without including the beautiful Heartstopper webcomic and graphics novels! How cute is this?

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Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.
Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.
But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?
Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a
third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?

I considered posting about Love, Simon but I think What If It’s Us is the more underrated read from these two authors and I love how it focused on the struggles of the relationship after, not just the meeting of these two characters. I also love History is All You Left Me, my favourite Adam Silvera book!

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In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

I only finished this book the other day (review here), but it’s still on my mind. I really enjoy reading LGBTQIA+ relationships as a subplot, and it worked so well in Girls of Paper and Fire.

I also recently read Meet Cute (review here), which includes a few LGBTQIA+ short stories perfect for Pride Month! Which LGBTQIA+ books do you love and recommend?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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