Let’s Discuss! YALC Positives + Negatives

Hi readers! I know a lot of my recent posts have been about YALC, but after seeing a few posts around about the event, I’ve decided this one is too important a discussion not to have.

I want to start by saying there is absolutely no way I’m sh**ting on YALC or London Film and Comic Con as an event here. I had one of the best and most enjoyable weekends of my life there and I will definitely be attending next year. But, having had time to reflect on the event, it is no where near perfect. A lot needs to change to make the event more accessible and all around smoother in the future. If, instead, you want to find out what I ended up doing at YALC, read this post!

I’d also like to point out this post is highly inspired by Jenniely’s post about accessibility at the event. Go and check it out here!

The Positives

Virtual Queuing

This year, YALC adopted a virtual queuing system where you collected a numbered ticket each morning and used that to attend signings. I believe they handed these tickets out for the first hour and a half of each day, and at the end of the lines afterwards. The whole idea is that only 20 or 30 people will be physically queuing at one time, as they’ll start by letting in people who have tickets with numbers 1-30 and go up in 10’s after that.

Personally, I found this system worked pretty well. Depending on the speed of the author themselves, it meant I got to see everyone I wanted to, never got fully turned away after queuing, and never stood up for a prolonged period of time. Although it was a little annoying checking with the staff practically every 5 mins which number they were up to, it’s definitely more effective than just a normal queue, which they wouldn’t have the space for.

However, the whole VQ system itself wasn’t perfect. For example, we missed out completely on the whole thing on the first day because I’m pretty sure YALC didn’t Tweet about the system even being a thing until the morning of. Luckily we still managed to meet all the authors we wanted to, but only because Alice Oseman stayed for so long after she was scheduled to finish signing!

The Staff

Personally, I found the staff very friendly and helpful. I felt very welcomed when staff at both Penguin and Waterstones recognised me on the second day of the event, even saying hi to me by the last. But also, the Showmasters staff were very helpful in general and mainly very friendly and approachable.

The Schedule

The schedule and author list was definitely one of the most positive things for me. They were released early enough for me to properly plan and enjoy the event.

The Stalls, Authors and Panels

I couldn’t fault much about the stalls, authors or panels! Like I said above, I even had some staff recognise and say hi to me, and they helped me feel so welcome at the event. The stalls were so enjoyable to look around, and I only had one major issue which is discussed below. Every author I met was so friendly and I know at least a few stayed way behind to finish signing. Although I didn’t attend as many panels as I’d have liked to, the ones I did attend were brilliant, and I really enjoyed them!

The Negatives

The Stalls

As I’m sure you know if you attended, Simon and Schuster released ARCs of Infinity Son on all 3 days. The fact I didn’t manage to get one of these was my biggest disappointment of the whole event. For one, I don’t believe they ever announced a time when they would give the ARCs away, meaning I missed out on them the first day.

I arrived at 9:15am on the Saturday to find them all gone, so our group decided to get up at 6:15am on the Sunday to try and grab a copy. Then, they announced because of people stampeding to grab a copy, they would be raffling them on the Sunday. My main issue with this is that (forgetting it shouldn’t have even been organised like this in the first place), is it should have been one way or another. You can’t change halfway through, surely! Also, unfortunately unless they track who picked up an ARC on the separate days, people will try to grab more than one if they’re attending for all 3 days, meaning those of us who didn’t manage to pick one up lose out on our chance.

Organisation

I’d just like to quickly cover the organisation before the event. Although it was mostly great, the Instagram Q&A was, although helpful, full of spelling errors and things that just…looked bad on the organisers. The floor plan also never made it to the website itself, only appearing on social media like a day before the event, and only in good enough quality to read/print on Twitter.

The Queuing

I’m not talking about the signings here, instead I mean getting into the venue. To be fair, I found the system pretty good in many ways, especially on Sunday when I had all of my luggage with me from the entire weekend. But once we got inside, the positives ended. We were so crammed in, I accidentally nudged the woman behind me as I put my rucksack on, and she shoved me back so hard I actually stumbled. This very person proceeded to climb over my friend’s suitcase to reach the first lift, separating my friends from one another. I know this can’t really be helped as it is going to happen at events like this, but I felt like it should be mentioned.

When 9am rolled around, no one even took the barriers down and eventually we let ourselves through. Then came the stairs, which we had been told by staff that morning would be quicker to go up if we wanted to reach the YALC floor first. I, along with a few other people, went for this option, to find they were locked. Fun.

Accessibility and Disabled Access

I would just like to point out I am writing from the POV of a fully able bodied person, who still found issues with what should come as standard at such events. The major issue, which has unfortunately always been the same at YALC, is the lack of seating. Although there is a Chill Out Zone, I would be exaggerating to say it had 10 chairs in it. And those chairs were mainly blow up, very low, and had mostly gone down by Sunday. As someone who has absolutely no problems with sitting on the floor, it wasn’t exactly fun to sit on the floor for 3 days. Seating should be the easiest thing to organise at an event such as YALC, and I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it is for people with disabilities and health issues.

Water and other necessities

Yes, I have a whole section for water. But again, I’d like to point out water coolers should also be the easiest thing for such a big venue. Yet, water was not readily available, and you had to go to the cafe to have water bottles refilled (by what I’ve heard were grumpy staff who were not happy about this little arrangement). On the grand scheme of things, this was a very small issue, but it’s also one that shouldn’t be an issue in the first place. Otherwise, the venue is very hot. Especially seeing as it has a glass roof! Luckily, this is something YALC has realised, and they included a fan in the goody bags, which I thought was a brilliant idea.

God, I admire you if you made it this far in my post! You deserve a pat on the back and a medal! Although this ended up being super long and negative, I’d again like to point out that this event is absolutely vital to my calendar and I had endless amounts of fun. I’ll definitely be attending next year, with hope that these issues are sorted!

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon 2019 TBR

Hello everyone and welcome to my first ever readathon – so apologies in advance if this is a complete shambles! I’ve never taken part in any kind of readathon before, but my friend Faye over at A Daydreamers Thoughts decided to take part and added me to a discord chat. So here I am, having not taken part in my O.W.L.s (therefore using this year as kind of a trial run for now), suddenly deciding on my N.E.W.T.s TBR! I’m super excited for it!

What is the N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon? And how does it work?

The Magical Readathon is run by Book Roast on YouTube and is split into two parts: the O.W.L.s are in April and the N.E.W.T.s run throughout August. You aim for a profession using the wonderful career guide created by G (link below). Each profession includes the O.W.L and N.E.W.T levels you need to aim for to pass, including the level you need, that being A for Acceptable, E for Exceeded Expectations and O for Outstanding. Depending on your chosen profession, you’ll be aiming for more or less books than other professions!

If you complete your O.W.L.s in April, you can use these to dive into the N.E.W.T.s, but luckily for me it seems fairly straightforward to join in now. Once you know which exams you have to take, you can use the prompts letter to find out how to organise your TBR (link below). Each exam has different prompts, and you then pick a book to fit the prompt. Once you’ve completed them to the grade you need for your profession, you complete the exams! Hopefully if I’m not making sense it will become clearer as I choose my own TBR.

Useful Documents and Links

These are taken from the description in the 2019 Magical Readathon N.E.W.T.s video!

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My Chosen Career and TBR

After much deliberation, I chose to aim for the Magizoologist career! I only looked at careers I would actually be interested and felt I could achieve full marks for in a month, especially as this is my first ever readathon. Other professions I considered were Astronomer and Herbologist.

To pass my N.E.W.T.s I need an Outstanding in Care of Magical Creatures, an Exceeded Expectations in Charms and an Exceeded Expectations in Herbology. The way the N.E.W.T.s work is you must complete the prompt for A (Acceptable) before you move onto E (Exceeded Expectations) and then O (Outstanding). I’m going to aim for the required levels I need, but I’ll include the Outstanding prompts too in case I do end up reading more than 7 books.

Care of Magical Creatures

A: Book title that starts with the letter A, for Aragog!

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I picked up Attachments at YALC this year, and I’m itching to pick it up and finish my Rainbow Rowell collection.

E: Book under 300 pages

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I’ve been dying to pick up this beautiful novella since it’s release.

O: Grab onto Fawke’s tail! Read a book with a bird on the cover

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What better excuse to finally pick up Flame in the Mist?

Charms

A: Read a book you think has a gorgeous cover

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I managed to get this beauty at YALC from the Illumicrate stand, and I just fell in love with the cover.

E: Read a comic/graphic novel/manga (or book under 150 pages)

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I’m so excited to read volume 2 of Heartstopper!

O: Spongify (softening charm) – read a paperback

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I don’t need to reach Outstanding in Charms, but if I have time I will definitely be picking up my floppy ARC of Girls of Storm and Shadow!

Herbology

A: Mandrake! Quick – put your headphones on! Listen to an audiobook (if not – green cover)

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I’m not really an audiobook person, but I also don’t appear to have any obviously green books. I’m going to go with this ARC because it’s definitely mostly there!

E: Read a book between 350-390 pages

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Gosh, it’s harder than you’d think to find a book between 350-390 pages! But luckily this one is on my ARC TBR and I was lucky enough to win a copy at YALC over the weekend.

O: Read a book with a flower on the cover

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I don’t need to reach Outstanding in Herbology either, but if at the end of the month I find myself with extra time, I’m going to pick up The Marrow Thieves! Also, how pretty is this cover?

So that’s all from me for now! I’m super excited to work through my N.E.W.T.s TBR. Before I go, please let me know if I’m going about this the wrong way or if you have any advice for a newbie!

Are you joining the magical readathon this year? What career did you choose?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let’s Discuss! YALC 2019

Hi everyone! It’s time for my YALC 2019 masterpost, where I’ll take you through everything I did over the weekend, day by day. For those of you that don’t know, YALC is the Young Adult Literature Convention which takes place alongside London Film and Comic Con every year! This year was my first year going for the whole weekend, as I’ve been before but only for one day per event.

THURSDAY

Okay, Thursday was a day for travelling and it was hellish. Due to the insane heatwave we had in the UK, we managed to get one of the only trains going down to London and just about got out of the station before they stopped letting people in due to health hazards! We eventually made it down and luckily had a better and safer journey than some. We met up with Alex and Dan who we stayed at a hotel with and had some dinner before preparing for the next day!

FRIDAY

Panels: none
Authors met: Renee Ahdieh, Alice Oseman
Books acquired: 8

Unfortunately we didn’t make it to any panels on Friday due to just being so busy running around and entering giveaways and meeting authors! We still had the most incredible day, gathered more books than we all meant to and met some great people. Alice Oseman ended up staying for an hour and a half more than she was scheduled for to finish off her line of people!

SATURDAY

Panels: Mythical YA, The World of Illustration and Concept Art
Authors met: VE Schwab, Karen M McManus, Jim Kay, Malorie Blackman
Books acquired: 4

Saturday was so much fun and we managed to get in on a few panels! I bought fewer books and even went down to Comic Con, which was insanely busy and made me very grateful for how chilled out YALC is. What a beautiful building though!

SUNDAY

Panels: New Voices of YA Fantasy
Authors met: Lisa Heathfield, Samantha Shannon, Temi Oh, Kristen Ciccarelli, Natasha Ngan
Books acquired: 5

We ended up getting up way earlier for the final day to make sure we got everything we wanted. Unfortunately we missed out yet again on an ARC of Infinity Son but got early VQ tickets for the authors we wanted! We managed to meet every author we wanted to other than Lauren James who unfortunately couldn’t make it. I also picked up an ARC I really wanted, Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan, and had it signed!

That’s the day by day account! To finish up, below you can see (from the left), a pile of books I took to have signed, books I bought, books (already released) I acquired, and ARCs I won or got as buying incentives. What an amazing haul! I’ll be posting Stacking the Shelves twice this week, Friday for ARCs and Saturday for books I bought.

Not pictured above are books I bought for my boyfriend Josh and my bestie Courtney, and the items below, a cute bookish candle from Bookish Burns entitled The Shire, and a rainbow bathbomb from Geeky Clean!

And before I go, I’d like to share some photos of my YALC squad. From the left, we have Anna, Faye, me, Alex and her boyfriend Dan! These guys have been incredible from start to finish, made my weekend so much more enjoyable and full of laughter. Can’t wait for next year!

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #100

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga where we share books we’ve bought this week. Find out more and join in here!

Hi again everyone! I’m currently at YALC (yes, I promise I’ll stop talking about it soon), and today is going to be my last Stacking the Shelves post of books I bought leading up to the event. Next week I’ll have a YALC haul post and after that we’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming!

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Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive. 

Did I DNF this book? Yes. Did I also then buy a collectors edition? Again, that would be a yes. I just couldn’t pass up on the chance to have this signed by such a famous and admired author, especially as I might pick this up again sometime and adore it!

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There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from acclaimed author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books, This Savage Song is a must-have for fans of Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and Laini Taylor.
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives. In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A Darker Shade of Magic. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within.

And as she’s only signing 3 books per person, it’d be rude to not fill that 3 wouldn’t it? So I decided to try her other series, and I’ll also be taking City of Ghosts.

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The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant – and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

I was so excited to spot this in the window of my local charity shop, especially in an almost pristine hardback! It was only £2, and what a perfect time to spot it.

What have you bought this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Shop Update – Singular Bookmarks Available!

Hello lovely readers! You may or may not know that a couple of months ago I embarked on something I’d wanted to do for a long time – I opened an Etsy shop. My shop sells sets of bookmarks inspired by some of my favourite books and series. You can click the image below to check it out!

For a while now, I’ve only being selling bookmark sets, but as of today you can buy singular bookmarks!

These are of course cheaper than purchasing an entire set, and some of the singles available are pictured above. I’ve also revised my pricing, and I’m very happy with where my shop is heading!

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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T5W: Spring YA Reads

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Lainey and Samantha. You get a new topic every Wednesday, and you list your Top 5 books related to that topic. If you’d like to take part, join the Goodreads group, and add your name to the list of bloggers & booktubers!

Hi readers! This Top 5 Wednesday we’re talking about Spring books. For me, spring reads are contemporaries or romance, YA, and light and fluffy after the winter gloom. I definitely transition between more contemporary in the summer, and fantasy in the winter.

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Honestly, all Matson books would be perfect for the warmer seasons – but I think Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour and Second Chance Summer are vacation/summer reads, so I went with this one.

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My Life Next Door was one of my favourite reads of 2018, when I was starting to find contemporary a little predictable. However, this one still stood out for me as a really great read, and that’s why I’m including it!

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This book is definitely one of my favourites of all time – and it’s perfect for spring.

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I’ve heard very mixed reviews about Alex, Approximately, but I loved it. It’s definitely cheesy and predictable, but the setting and story embody summer romance.

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Of course spring is very much about new beginnings and blossoming starts. I think both Nicola Yoon’s books are perfect – but I wanted to include The Sun is Also a Star to celebrate it becoming a movie!

Which books do you love to read in spring?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: City of Ashes (#2) by Cassandra Clare

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Love and power are the deadliest temptations. Haunted by her past, Clary is dragged deeper into New York City’s terrifying underworld of demons and Shadowhunters – but can she control her feelings for a boy who can never be hers?

This book actually pleasantly surprised me! I liked it just a touch more than City of Bones and it felt like a perfect sequel to explore the Shadowhunting world further.

I just really feel like this book had everything, and it’s even more diverse than the first book. Firstly, we have this great mix of characters. Complicated families, complicated romance, complicated friendships. They’re all so real and relatable and I love that. Only certain authors can create such a big and diverse cast of characters and still have each and every one mean something in the story.

” “I’ve been thinking about you, too.”
“I really was sick. I swear. I almost died back there on the ship, you know.””

The thing I really felt was missing in City of Bones was here in City of Ashes. BIG action scenes with tons of Shadowhunters working together and blowing things up. These end up being some of my most memorable scenes and I just love them. The pages fly by!

Something else Clare is amazing at: making me not feel weird about the relationship two of these characters have. (I’m not going to say who because of spoilers for City of Bones, but think of the Lannisters and you’ll know who I mean). But honestly, hats off to her. I didn’t think anyone could make me read these private thoughts and not be sick all over the pages.

“”I know. Everytime you almost die, I almost die myself.””

I have one, tiny problem with this book though, that stopped it reaching 5 stars for me. I want to know more about the characters inner-workings. I feel like Clare is focusing so much on the bigger picture, that she’s missing so many gems that I think came with time and experience for her (as I didn’t feel like it was missing in The Infernal Devices). I wanted to see more of the thoughts/characteristics of side characters like Alec, that would just make me sympathise with everyone a little more!

Talking of Clare’s writing, it has definitely improved in this book! I have to say, this was also a pleasant surprise as I wasn’t expecting it to improve so rapidly, and it’s made me even more excited to see what’s to come in City of Glass.

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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