Patrick Ness

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The Second Young Adult Literary Convention (YALC) 2015

Published September 5, 2015 by bibliobeth

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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

 

June 2015 – Chrissi Cupboard Month #3

Published June 1, 2015 by bibliobeth

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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!

February 2015 – “Real Book” Month

Published February 1, 2015 by bibliobeth

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There’s nothing like the smell, feel and look of a real book to a bibliophile like myself. And now that February has rolled around, it’s time for another “Real Book” month where I will attempt to reduce the number of books crawling into every inch of my home. Hmm, there doesn’t seem to be much difference in my real books since the last time I had a real book month in August. Guess you just can’t stop a book addict!

More Than This – Patrick Ness

Night Film – Marisha Pessl

All The Birds Singing – Evie Wyld

Fifty Shades Of Feminism – Lisa Appignanesi

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

The People In The Trees – Hanya Yanagihara

The Bees – Laline Paull

The Tale of the Duelling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness and Recovery – Sam Kean

The Ask And The Answer (Chaos Walking #2) – Patrick Ness

I am so excited by this list I can hardly type. Some of them have been on my TBR for a long time, like Fifty Shades of Feminism, Night Film and Miss Peregrine’s Home, others are from new favourite authors that I just HAD to include like More Than This and The Ask And The Answer by Patrick Ness and others are books I have acquired fairly recently and simply can’t wait to read. What do you think of my list, fellow book-lovers?

A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

Published November 25, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

What did I think?:

I don’t even know where to start with this review, A Monster Calls is one of those books that will take your breath away. Not only is the premise incredibly sad but it was an idea conceived by the author Siobhan Dowd who tragically passed away from cancer before she was able to write the story. Patrick Ness took the project on and combined with the beautiful illustrations by Jim Kay, it stands out as one of those rare and powerful books that touch something in your heart and remain with you forever. Our main character is a boy called Conor whose mother is beginning treatment for cancer, although the prognosis is unfortunately not good. While this is happening Conor is having terrible nightmares and problems at school including bullying. Then it seems that others at his school, including teachers aware of his mother’s illness don’t really know how to talk to him and wherever he goes he is conscious of their pitiful glances. If all this wasn’t more than enough for a young boy to deal with, his father has moved abroad building a different life for himself with his new wife and child and doesn’t seem to know how to interact or support Conor in his time of need. Furthermore his grandmother, who looks after him when his mum is having her treatment is a bit prickly and does not conform to the stereotype of a loving, spoiling gran so they also have a difficult relationship:

“He didn’t like the way she talked to him, like he was an employee under evaluation. An evaluation he was going to fail.”

Then the monster comes. Fashioned from an old yew tree in the front garden, it appears just after midnight (obviously) and attempts to terrify Conor. However it is rather taken aback when Conor refuses to be terrified, after all Conor has in his words “seen a lot worse,” and his fears run a lot deeper than an old creaking yew tree. Conor dismisses the visit as just a nightmare, but then nightmares don’t leave bits of themselves behind like leaves and wood, do they? When the monster returns, he tells Conor that he will visit him again and each time tell him a story, three in total and then he expects Conor to tell him a fourth – THE TRUTH.

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I don’t want to say too much more about the plot of this book as one of the many beautiful things about it is discovering the secrets yourself. I just have to re-iterate how blown away I was by it. Patrick Ness has already established himself as one of my new favourite authors with The Knife Of Never Letting Go, but with A Monster Calls he cemented it for good. I really appreciated the dark humour that ran throughout the story that made the heart-breaking moments so bitter sweet and I finished the story feeling emotionally exhausted but exhilarated at the same time as I knew I had just finished something incredibly special, the likes of which are rarely seen in a generation. I must also urge anybody who hasn’t read it to plump for the illustrated version – Jim Kay’s drawings also add a little something extra to the story and are truly gorgeous. I think this book would also be a must-read for anybody who has lost someone they loved, or a child in the same position as Conor that risks losing a parent.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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

Published July 25, 2014 by bibliobeth

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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?!)

The Knife Of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) – Patrick Ness

Published July 3, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

What did I think?:

The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first book I have read by multi award winning author Patrick Ness. I have only one criticism – why did it take me so long to read one? The story is set in the future, where both the history, the present and the days to come look pretty bleak. The settlers in Prentisstown are all men, as something referred to as the “Noise germ” has killed off all the women in the community. This germ also had the unsettling effect of amplifying all thoughts, so everyone can hear what the other thinks. Our main character is a thirteen year old boy called Todd Hewitt, who is a month away from when he is officially recognised as a man. Todd is the last person in the town to become a man (as there are no women left, there are also no children) and something crucial will happen on this momentous occasion where he may finally learn the town secrets.

However, whilst out walking his dog Manchee (who talks, as all the animals do), Todd learns something that both terrifies him and causes him to flee the town, unsure of where to go, but trusting in the men that raised him who say it is imperative that he leaves. Armed with a large hunting knife, a journal that belonged to his mother that he has been told will help him on his travels, and the ever-faithful Manchee he hurries away before the leaders of the town hear his thoughts/plans and try to stop him. After a short while, he comes across the most incredible discovery of his life – a young girl. But weren’t all the females eliminated from the Noise germ? Apparently not. The girl, whose name is Viola becomes a handy side-kick for Todd as they continue to flee from Prentisstown and the angry leaders of the town, including one of the creepiest characters I have met in the literary world, Aaron the preacher, who means to silence Todd for good. His interest in Viola though is a bit more suspicious and leads to the two children racing for their lives. Along the epic journey, there is immense danger, violence and heartbreak for the two friends. Todd must also deal with the new truths that are revealed which not only lead him to disregard his previous beliefs, but force him into becoming a man well ahead of his time.

This is an absolutely incredible book that I loved every minute of. I’ve got to admit that I didn’t really like the character of Todd to begin with, but as the story continues, it is hard not to change your opinion as the whole world that he has known flips upside down. Now, a talking animal always gets the thumbs up from me, but Manchee has to be up there with the best animal characters of all time. (Another one for me is Wilbur the pig but anyway…) He’s quite a dopey personality really, with a fairly limited vocabulary that mainly consists of “Poo, Todd! Poo!” when he needs to do his business, but he is fiercely loyal, protective, amusing and so loveable, I challenge anybody not to have a little fuzzy feeling for him. I honestly believe that this story has something for everyone, we have adventure and action, emotion and suspense. Patrick Ness blends all these elements with real finesse and so flawlessly that it produced a story of epic proportions which really stands out from the crowd in the YA genre at the moment. The author used an interesting and clever technique of  mis-spelling words/using incorrect grammar when Todd’s thoughts are expressed, as a teenager with little literary skills may “see” these words. He also wasn’t afraid to get a bit gruesome at times, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I thought made for a thrilling and for one event in particular, slightly upsetting and jaw-dropping story. So, after all my gushing, all I can say is if you haven’t started the Chaos Walking series yet, what in the world are you waiting for?

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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WWW Wednesday #44

Published June 11, 2014 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday, and thanks as ever to MizB for hosting.

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..

•What are you currently reading?

•What did you recently finish reading?

•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?:

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I’ve just started this YA read from Matt Haig whose other works The Humans and The Radleys I’ve enjoyed so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in. This is also the fifth book on my Chrissi Cupboard List (please see my previous post HERE) and I’m really pleased I’m getting through them so quickly.

What did you recently finish reading?:

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The fourth book on my Chrissi Cupboard list this was also my first Patrick Ness novel. And now I understand what all the fuss is about. Hopefully my review will be up in about a weeks time, but trust me – it’s an awesome read.

What do you think you’ll read next?:

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Up next is the debut novel from James Dawson, whose other novels Cruel Summer and Say Her Name I’ve read and reviewed recently and loved. Really looking forward to this one too!

What are you reading this Wednesday? Please leave your link and I’ll come pay you a visit! Happy Reading Everyone.