James Dawson

All posts tagged James Dawson

Under My Skin – James Dawson

Published October 9, 2016 by bibliobeth

23582973

What’s it all about?:

Meet Molly Sue. Once she’s under your skin there’s no getting rid of her…

Seventeen-year-old Sally Feather is not exactly a rebel. Her super-conservative parents and her treatment at the hands of high school bullies means that Sally’s about as shy and retiring as they come – but all that’s about to change. Accidentally ending up in the seedier side of town one day, Sally finds herself mysteriously lured to an almost-hidden tattoo parlour – and once inside, Sally is quickly seduced by its charming owner, Rosita, and her talk of how having a secret tattoo can be as empowering as it is thrilling. Almost before she knows what she is doing, Sally selects sexy pin-up Molly Sue, and has her tattooed on her back – hoping that Molly Sue will inspire her to be as confident and popular as she is in her dreams.

But things quickly take a nightmareish turn. Almost immediately, Sally begins to hear voices in her head – or rather, one voice in particular: Molly Sue’s. And she has no interest in staying quiet and being a good girl – in fact, she’s mighty delighted to have a body to take charge of again. Sally slowly realises that she is unable to control Molly Sue… and before long she’s going to find out the hard way what it truly means to have somebody ‘under your skin’.

What did I think?:

Under My Skin is yet another fantastic YA read from the huge British talent that is James Dawson. After the brilliance of Say Her Name, I wasn’t sure if the author would be able to write another blinder and while this story isn’t as inherently terrifying as its predecessor, it’s an entertaining and compelling read and cements James Dawson as true YA royalty.

As I was reading Under My Skin, I kept thinking of a Point Horror book I read when I was younger called The Perfume where a teenage girl is taken over by a malign force that makes her do terrible things. In a similar way, this is what happens to seventeen year old Sally Feather although the wrestle of control is with a tattoo that Sally is talked into getting on her back, an American pin up girl called Molly Sue. At first, when Molly Sue starts to talk to Sally, she is excellent for boosting her fragile self-esteem and confidence but before long, Molly Sue starts to want more control of Sally’s body and mind, to do with as she pleases (and NOT good things by the way).

I loved Sally as a character, in fact she very much reminded me of myself when I was at school. I could have certainly done with a milder version of Molly Sue for myself perhaps! My favourite character had to be Molly Sue herself though. Bold, brassy, super-confident and just a little bit crazy she was the perfect villain in this exciting novel which was so easy to read that I pretty much finished it in one sitting. I also enjoyed the characters of Sally’s friends, who seem to be her only joy amongst the terrors and  deadly social politics of high school. I think I’ve mentioned in previous reviews of the author’s work that he has a real talent in writing believable teenagers and believable adolescent situations and this book took me right back to this confusing and to be honest, slightly traumatic time! This is a fabulous book for the target YA market but is also one that more than a few adults (like myself) would enjoy for sure.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Advertisements

YA SHOT – 28th October 2015, Uxbridge, London

Published October 21, 2015 by bibliobeth

yashot

What’s it all about?:

YA Shot is a one day event for young adult and middle grade fiction in London where seventy-one authors will participate in talks and book signings. It has all been organised by the lovely Alexia Casale, author of The Bone Dragon and House of Windows who decided on a YA Shot five-word “ethos,” that it should be generous, passionate, inclusive, challenging and fun and she has put together a fabulous programme that is sure to excite anyone who is enthusiastic about young adult fiction.

Tell us more?:

The event in partnership with Hillingdon Borough Libraries and Waterstones Uxbridge will host various “panel” and “in conversation” talks throughout the day at different sites all within easy walking distance of each other. There will also be an opportunity to attend workshop events hosted by bloggers and vloggers active in the UK at the moment.

What kind of talks?:

There are so many talks planned that look so interesting! I will be trying to attend as many as possible (that is, until I have to go host one of the workshops with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads in the afternoon!)

The ones I’d love to go to include:

11.30am – 12.30pm Playing with Time: Historical fiction and historical settings – Chaired by Natasha Farrant with Lucy Coats, Rhian Ivory and Alison Rattle

12.45pm – 1.45pm Crime and Punishment: Fictional wrongdoing and human rights – Chaired by Laura Jarratt with Cat Clarke, Keren David and Emma Haughton

2pm – 3pm Trigger Warning: Exploring sensitive issues in ethical ways – Chaired by Alexia Casale with Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne and Louisa Reid

12.45pm – 1.45pm Treasured Land: Nature as a character and concern in YA – Chaired by Piers Torday with Lisa Heathfield and Anna McKerrow

4.40pm – 5.40pm Tragedy! Tackling sadness in fiction for younger teens – Chaired by Candy Gorlay with Jane Elson and Aoife Walsh [MG event, suitable for children aged 7-11 as well as adults]

Aagh, I can already see I’ve got a clash and am going to have to think carefully about which talk I want to go to! This is only a small sample of what’s on offer and I can honestly say I think there’s something for everyone.

Don’t forget the workshops as well! Chrissi Reads and I are hosting one at 3:45 pm about How To Get Started With Blogging. If you’re new to the blogging world or already have your own blog but want to know a bit more about getting things going, please come along and we shall try our best to make it worth your while. We’ve also got Michelle from Fluttering Butterflies and a member of the Bookish Brits who will be talking about group projects and reading challenges, Benjamin of Tomes who will show you how to get started with vlogging, Debbie from Snuggling on the Sofa and Daphne of Winged Reviews who will show you how to develop your brand and increase your followers and Jim from Ya Ya Yeah and Wei Ming Kam of Rare, Medium, Well Done who will discuss diversity in literature. To name a few!

Which authors are going to be there?:

I’m just going to throw a few names out there:

Alexia Casale (obviously)

Piers Torday, author of The Last Wild series

Jane Elson, author of A Room Full of Chocolate and How To Fly With Broken Wings

C J Daughtery, author of The Night School series

Tanya Byrne, author of Heart-Shaped Bruise and Follow Me Down

Emma Carroll, author of Frost Hollow Hall and The Girl Who Walked On Air

Holly Bourne, author of Soulmates and Am I Normal Yet?

Cat Clarke, author of Undone and The Lost And The Found

James Dawson, author of This Book Is Gay and All Of The Above

And that’s just a few of them.

Where can I buy tickets?:

Tickets are still available from the YA Shot website. Online orders will close at 6pm on Tuesday 27th October but there may be some available on the door on Wednesday 28th October.

Any more information?:

Please see the official YA Shot website which will tell you everything else you need to know. Maybe I’ll see you there!

yashot

 

The Second Young Adult Literary Convention (YALC) 2015

Published September 5, 2015 by bibliobeth

YALC2015

 

Apologies for getting this post up a bit late but here’s what happened when my sister Chrissi Reads and I visited YALC for the second year!

YALC is the brain-child of previous Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, who was awarded an OBE for her services to children’s literature in 2008 and from the moment appointed has been incredibly passionate about getting young people to read.

The programme for 2015 involved exciting author talks, workshops, book signings, competitions and much, much more. If you’re a big YA fan, this is the one event you don’t want to miss out on. And for bloggers, it’s a brilliant way to meet your favourite authors (and perhaps even other bloggers finally face to face) scour the beautiful books on offer from their Waterstones partner and perhaps even meet one of your all-time favourite idols. Judy Blume and Patrick Ness, I’m talking about you!

This year, YALC was kind enough to add on an extra day and after making sure we definitely had three day tickets we toddled off to Olympia, London where it was being held this year alongside London Film and Comic Con. First of all, thank you so much YALC for the priority queue jumping! Alongside a bunch of Storm Troopers, Walking Dead fans covered in (fake) blood and many, MANY scantily clad women we entered the centre, making a bee-line for the YALC section, of course. We decided we weren’t going to attend any talks that day so enjoyed grabbing our free tote bag and noticing with delight that the Book Wall from last year had indeed returned!

bookwall

Oh yes. Happy times slouched on the bean bags or deck chairs recovering from all the YALC excitement and meeting up with blogger friends old and new. I think Saturday was probably our best day for talks, the first one we went to was YA: The next generation with Alice Oseman, Lucy Saxon, Helena Coggan and Taran Matharu, chaired by Samantha Shannon. It was a great opportunity to hear about the state of YA fiction right now and be introduced to some promising new talent. Before a spot of lunch we also attended the Being A Girl talk with Hayley Long, C J Daughtery, Holly Smale, Malorie Blackman and Laura Dockrill chaired by Anna James. The talk centred around strong female characters in YA (hooray!) and there’s nothing better than a bit of feminist girl power to get you in the mood for a bit more book hunting in the fabulous Waterstones book area.

malholly

Carrie Hope Fletcher did a brilliant job of hosting the next talk: Carrie Hope Fletcher’s YALC book club with Malorie Blackman, Holly Smale and Samantha Shannon. The authors all talked about how they approach writing individually and some of their tips and advice for wanna-be authors was truly inspirational. Then came the talk I was looking forward to the most: Judy Blume and Patrick Ness in conversation!! Excuse me while I fan myself.

nessandblume

Patrick was a fantastic interviewer and asked the questions everyone wanted to know. I was a huge Judy Blume fan when I was growing up and I came away feeling like I knew Judy Blume personally – she is such a sweetheart and really funny to boot. Patrick Ness is one of my most recent favourite authors and I was absolutely determined I was going to meet him and get my treasured copy of A Monster Calls signed.

Yes, it was time to join some signing queues. After a pitiful performance last year with NO books signed this year I swore was going to be different and spying a beautiful graphic novel of Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman I snapped it up and joined her queue. She was just as nice and down to earth as I had imagined her to be and although I was terribly starstruck I managed to string a couple of sentences together at least! I also managed to pin down the lovely Alexia Casale and she kindly signed my copy of House Of Windows, her second novel which I was very excited to read. After waiting for a little while, it was finally time to meet Queen Judy Blume to get my copy of her new novel, In the Unlikely Event signed. She was also really sweet and friendly even if I did make a bit of a fool of myself by dipping her a little curtsey as I approached the signing desk. (I didn’t mean to – it came out sub-consciously!)

Sunday dawned bright and sunny and we went to two talks, Mental health in YA with Matt Whyman, Brian Conaghan, Annabel Pitcher and Holly Bourne chaired by Imogen Russell Williams. This was a fantastic talk about a very important subject quite close to my heart and although we left the talk a bit overwhelmed, the authors did a great job of bringing mental health to the forefront. The second talk followed the very popular “sexy” panel at YALC 2014 – Bringing sexy back with Non Pratt, Louise O’Neill, Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison chaired by the wonderful James Dawson. This talk was just as laugh-out-loud funny and brutally honest as last year’s talk as the panel discussed the role of sex in YA novels. Oh my goodness, and James Dawson’s costume? It had to be seen to be believed!

toosexy

Believe me, the photo does not do it justice.

The other highlight of the day was finally managing to meet Patrick Ness and get my book signed. I even had to miss his talk, Sir Terry and me just to make sure I was in the signing queue. He was lovely and I know he spoke to me and I answered but for the life of me I couldn’t tell you what he said, I was in my own excited little world.

So, that’s it! YALC over for another year. We had a brilliant time and it was just as successful if not more so than last year. Thank you to all the organisers and authors for making it an event to remember.

Here is my swag!

IMG_0396

See you in 2016, YALC. I can’t wait already!

 

This Book Is Gay – James Dawson

Published August 22, 2015 by bibliobeth

22074335

What’s it all about?:

Former PSHCE teacher and acclaimed YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it’s like to grow up as LGBT. Including testimonials from people ‘across the spectrum’, this inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know – from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes, how to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell’s hilarious illustrations combined with funny and factual text make this a must-have read.

What did I think?:

With its bright rainbow cover and “look at me” title, This Book Is Gay is no shrinking violet. Thank goodness for that! This is a frank and humorous look at sexuality across the LGBT* spectrum that is surely a godsend to teenagers in today’s world who are confused or curious about their gender preference and even as a heterosexual female, I found this book to be an entertaining and fact-filled journey where there is always something to be learned.

James Dawson is brutally honest about the fact that despite his experience in sex education for youngsters he is by no means a complete expert, he just talks about what he knows. I’ve read some reviews on this book and the main criticism seems to be that he doesn’t really explore other types of sexuality, for example asexual and pan-sexual preferences. Yes, this is the case but sexuality in general is such a huge topic and I feel if he was to explore everything in detail the book would lose something of its undeniable charm.

Most of the information I read I was aware of before but I was also surprised to learn a few things as well. There are also certain things I have a mental image of thanks to James that I don’t think I will be able to get rid of for a while! e.g. how to pleasure a man – DO NOT shake it like a tomato ketchup bottle! The author also covers a wide variety of topics from how to come out and the ins and outs of gay sex to gay icons and stereotypes. The most important message he covers through the novel however is that it’s okay to be yourself, to be unique and to fancy whoever floats your boat be that man, woman or both. This is a fantastic statement to send to all teenagers as we all remember how tough adolescence is, regardless of sexuality and I have to applaud James Dawson for this.

As well as this, the author provides testimonials from real teenagers across the globe as they talk about their own experiences with sexuality. And if this wasn’t enough, a comprehensive list of places to go to for more information, phone numbers and websites is provided at the end of the book so people can make use of the services that are provided but perhaps little known about. Finally, the illustrations by Spike Gerrell which accompany James’ hilarious and honest text are just the icing on the cake and provided quite a few laugh out loud moments for myself and the people that I immediately thrust this book upon. I highly recommend this book for anyone curious about sexuality and especially for those struggling teenagers out there. It’s a hugely important read that I can only hope will be stocked in school libraries and be referred to in sex education classes for years to come.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

thisbookisgay

June 2015 – Chrissi Cupboard Month #3

Published June 1, 2015 by bibliobeth

photo

It’s June. And that means…. (drumroll please) it’s Chrissi Cupboard Month!

My lovely sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads gives me books on a regular basis, and as she reads at the speed of light I have had to acquire a cupboard in my bedroom purely for her books. Unfortunately, with all my other books and huge TBR pile, I’m not getting through them as fast as I’d like so I would like to dedicate the month of June to reading books purely from the Chrissi Cupboard. I will obviously be reading my short story every week and our Kid-Lit and Banned books for the month of June, but I’m hoping the majority of books will be from this cupboard. Here are the first ten I am planning to read and review:

Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neill

Under My Skin – James Dawson

The Beloved – Alison Rattle

The Assassin’s Blade – Sarah J. Maas

Something Strange And Deadly – Susan Dennard

Cress – Marissa Meyer

The Giver – Lois Lowry

The Last Leaves Falling – Sarah Benwell

Checkmate – Malorie Blackman

Monsters Of Men – Patrick Ness

I’ve picked each of these books because they are ones that I’ve been wanting to get to for a while now. I am honestly looking forward to each and every one of them! Have you read any? What are your favourites? Let me know!

December 2014 – Chrissi Cupboard Month #2

Published December 1, 2014 by bibliobeth

photo

It’s December. And that means…. (drumroll please) it’s Chrissi Cupboard Month!

My lovely sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads gives me books on a regular basis, and as she reads at the speed of light I have had to acquire a cupboard in my bedroom purely for her books. Unfortunately, with all my other books and huge TBR pile, I’m not getting through them as fast as I’d like so I would like to dedicate the month of December to reading books purely from the Chrissi Cupboard. I will obviously be reading my short story every week and our Kid-Lit book for the month of December, but I’m hoping the majority of books will be from this cupboard. Here are the first ten I am planning to read and review:

Everneath – Brodi Ashton

Golden Boy – Abigail Tarttelin

Roof Toppers – Katherine Rundell

The Wrong Boy – Suzy Zail

Half Bad – Sally Green

Knife Edge – Malorie Blackman

This Book Is Gay – James Dawson

She Is Not Invisible – Marcus Sedgwick

Legend – Marie Lu

Throne Of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

I’m really looking forward to each and every book in this challenge and have a sneaking suspicion that there might be a couple of 5-stars hiding in there! Let me know if you’ve read any and what you think. Hooray for Chrissi Cupboard Month! For Chrissi’s fabulous blog please click HERE.

The First (but hopefully not the last) Young Adult Literary Convention (YALC) 2014

Published July 25, 2014 by bibliobeth

download (5)

YALC is the brain-child of current Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman, who was awarded an OBE for her services to children’s literature in 2008 and from the moment appointed, has been incredibly passionate about getting young people to read. Alarming statistics show that only 3 out of 10 young people read daily out of school, and a fifth say they would be embarrassed if a friend saw them reading.

images (6)

Malorie Blackman (photo from http://www.theguardian.com)

Malorie says…

“We are incredibly lucky to have such a wealth of fantastic children’s authors and illustrators in this country who create incredible stories for young adults to enjoy.  It’s so important to encourage, sustain and where necessary instil a love of reading in our teenagers.  Reading opens doors and creates life opportunities. That’s why I want to do my utmost to promote YA books for all our young (and older!) readers.”

All hail Queen Malorie! YALC promised a fantastic line-up of events, including panel talks with authors, intimate workshops, a publishers stand with goodies galore and an opportunity to purchase a wide range of YA fiction from sponsor Waterstones. Having bought our Early Bird Tickets for both days (Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th July) my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads were very excited to experience all the delights YALC had to offer. So, how did it go?

DAY 1 – Saturday 12th July

Our introduction to YALC

London Comic Con – the craziness!

Photo from nintendo-insider.com

I have never experienced the pure craziness that is the London Comic Con, and couldn’t believe the immense crowds both outside Earls Court and inside where moving around became a bit of a mammoth task. After finally locating the YALC section at the back of the huge hall, Chrissi Reads and I let out a huge sigh, gritted our teeth and began to move through the crowds. (What things we do for our love of books!). We also weren’t prepared for the amount of people in strange and wonderful costumes – we recognised Spider-Man, Batman, The Power Rangers, Darth Vader and some Stormtroopers and…er… Half-Naked Lady? It was quite an experience! What was funny though was how quickly we got used to seeing costumed superheroes wandering around, checking texts and posing for photos and it became entirely natural to see Iron Man for instance, desperately seeking the toilets.

After locating the YALC Book Zone, our first task was to get some tickets for the first panel talk – The End of The World As We Know It with James Smythe as chair and also featuring Sarah Crossan, Patrick Ness and Malorie Blackman to talk about the dystopian genre, why they think it’s so “hot” right now, and what they see as the future of the genre. Malorie Blackman officially opened the proceedings in a fabulous costume and speaking in Klingon, and Patrick and Sarah provided some witty and interesting insights into the world of dystopia. Does it represent the fears teenagers have for their future? And is there also some hope and positivity in these worlds that young people can cling on to for comfort?

Day One YALC

James Smythe, Sarah Crossan, Patrick Ness and Malorie (Klingon) Blackman

Photo from http://www.theguardian.com

The talk was very entertaining and I was especially excited to see Patrick Ness (my new favourite author) who did not let me down and had me in fits of giggles. Next, it was time to see what else YALC had to offer. We visited publishers stands where I managed to bag some bookmarks, a cute YALC badge and even some advance copies of books I’m quite excited about. This included There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake and Solitaire by Alice Oseman. And where Waterstones are selling books, it’s compulsory to buy some! I picked up Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman and the illustrated edition of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Then we visited a couple of stands where other YA authors were promoting their work and I picked up The Narrows by James Brogden and Dystopia by Anthony Ergo, both authors were absolutely lovely and took time to talk to us. At the Hot Keys Book stand, they had a fabulous idea going where you could bring in a book and swap it with another which is where I acquired a copy of Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd.

After all that book buying and walking around it was time to go home, shoulders feeling the extra strain but incredibly happy bloggers! Bring on Day 2.

DAY 2 – Sunday 13th July

Talks, talks, oh and a Book Wall!

The next morning, Chrissi Reads and I were up bright and early but we were still not prepared for the enormous queue that awaited us when we arrived at Earls Court. Looping right round the building it ended up in the underground parking space and then looped a bit more. We needn’t have worried however, as soon as the doors opened at 09:00, the queue moved very fast and it was a little easier to navigate our way to the Book Zone to make sure we had all the tickets for the talks we wanted to see. The first talk didn’t start for a while, so it was the perfect opportunity to curl up on a bean bag and read under a Wall of Books.

YALC

The Book Wall at YALC

Photo from http://www.theguardian.com

Sooner than we knew it, it was time for the first talk which was set to be interesting with the title: I’m Too Sexy For This Book, featuring the newly-crowned Queen of Teen, James Dawson at the helm and also featuring Cat Clarke, Non Pratt and Beth Reekles. The talk was absolutely hilarious and dragged down into the gutter at times but always in a fun way, with innuendos galore and lots of “sexy fun time.” Where do you draw the line with sex in young adult novels? Shock announcement – yes, some teenagers do actually have sex! All panellists agreed that if the sex is portrayed in a positive and educational way, it cannot be a bad thing. Personally, I remember Judy Blume’s Forever feeling quite graphic to me as a teenager, but I think I also learned a few things that I may have got the wrong information about otherwise.

The next talk was Crossover: Not Just For Kids, the panel consisting of David Maybury as chair and authors Nick Lake, Anthony McGowan, Meg Rosoff and Matt Haig. They explored how novels such as The Hunger Games and The Fault In Our Stars are being read by adults as well as teenagers and the possible reasons for this. They certainly made me feel more comfortable about being an adult YA fan, and Nick Lake made the very good point that a lot of books we consider classics now would actually fit into the YA genre quite well, for example The Catcher In The Rye and Oliver Twist.

Our final talk was Sisters Doing It For Themselves with chair Sarra Manning and female authors Tanya Byrne, Julie Mayhew, Isobel Harrop and Holly Smale. This again was a great bunch of authors with fantastic insights into the role of our modern day heroine in YA fiction and heroines that inspired them personally in literature. We had a range of answers here from Tanya Byrne who took inspiration from people around her, Sarra Manning who had a soft spot for “mad girls” such as Sylvia Plath and one of my own personal favourites, Anne of Green Gables who was Holly Smale’s heroine.

YALC – THE END?

So it was time to drag our weary bodies back home, we had an absolutely fantastic weekend and it was worth every minute queueing and being bumped by crowds. Thank you to Malorie Blackman for putting on a great programme, all the authors who came and gave talks and thoroughly entertained us, and all the publishers and people behind the scenes that made the event possible.

YALC – this time next year? (please?!)