Wednesday, 29 April 2015

YALC 2015 Line-Up Reaction

So, unless you've been living under a rock these past few months, you will know that YALC is back for 2015! The ace Booktrust team have been announcing the authors on the line up in stages, but now the full line up has finally been revealed. Here's what I'm really excited about: 

  • Malorie Blackman - I worship at the shrine that is Malorie, so not only am I incredibly excited that YALC is back under her steerage, I'm very happy to see she will be actively taking part again. Is it wrong to have her sign all my signed copies again? 
  • Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison- I set out to read the whole YA Book Prize Shortlist this year and made it to 6, Lobsters being one of them. I think it's absolutely wonderful and does a great job at capturing what it is to be a teenager. Can't think of better attendees for a Young Adult event than these two... excited to hear news about their new projects too. 
  • Alexia Casale - I attended Alexia's workshop on finding your voice last year and (what I could hear of it) was really great and insightful. The YALC team have learned from last year and have said they've sourced separate rooms at the new Olympia location to hold these workshops in. I literally couldn't be happier with this news so hopefully another fantastic Alexia workshop is on the cards. 
  • Alice Oseman & Samantha Shannon - a young author panel perhaps... intriguing. Check out Lucy at Queen of Contemporary's post on young authors (there's hope for us all yet).
  • Louise O'Neill - Winner of the inaugural YA Book Prize, Louise is a champion of women's rights, body image and all things feminist. I'm hoping she's going to take part in a girl power style panel on self-love and self-worth. 
  • Siobhan Curham - After the whole Zoella ghostwriter thing, I'm really looking forward to learning more about Siobhan and her work. 
  • Lisa Williamson & Melinda Salisbury - I saw both these ladies at Oxford on a panel together and they were both ace. I was hoping to wait to buy a copy of The Art of Being Normal in paperback but I just won't be able to hold off after seeing Lisa speak so well again. And Mel is just so endearing, I wanted to give her a hug the whole last time I saw her. Looking forward to these two! 
  • Lucy Saxon - Lucy was at YALC last year doing a panel on fandoms, and she cosplayed as Captain America. I'm counting on Lucy to lead the cosplayers this year - I'm already considering my Twylla/Melissandre/Scarlett Witch outfit... 
  • Laura Dockrill - Particularly excited about this one and can't wait to get my grubby mits on a copy of Lorali!  I got to hang out with Laura while doing some work experience (we had the best curry I've ever had in Aberystwyth) and I can't wait to hear her speak again. Her energy is so infectious and her lipstick and wardrobe so eye-popping, she's sure to be a highlight. She might even cosplay, if the rumours are to be believed. 
  • Carrie Hope Fletcher - I have been a Hopeful for a while now having discovered Carrie through Alex Day's channel back in the day. Anyone who doesn't know of Carrie or why she is YALC material, just watch below! Vloggers will take over the world! 

  • Cassandra Clare - Need I Say More?! Gah!!! So excited! I saw her at Hay last year and everyone in the line was covered in Runes. I'm sure YALC will be no different, I'll bring the Sharpies! 
And last but certainly not least, I take huge pleasure in finally being able to say that Judy Blume will be at YALC this year! Fangirl to the extreme. Judy is one of the pioneering authors who carved out a teen book scene. She's incredibly inspiring, just listen to her here talking about her reading experiences as a kid. 

I am also incredibly fortunate that the PR agency I work for is handling the publicity for Judy's new adult book In the Unlikely Event. So with my YALC tickets already booked, I might even be lucky enough to escort Judy to the convention, and I might just die a little bit *fingers crossed she doesn't see this because that's embarrassingly uncool* 

And with all the other amazing authors attending, I can't wait to discover some great new voices and stories. A huge congrats to Malorie and Booktrust for creating such an incredible line-up! Bring on July! 

So who's going to YALC then? Who are you excited about seeing? 
Can't wait to see you all there! 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Review: The Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lie #1: I'm not afraid. Lie #2: I'm sure I'm doing the right thing. Lie# 3: I don't care what they think of me. 

It's 1959. The battle for civil rights is raging. And it's Sarah's first day of school as one of the first black students at previously all-white Jefferson High. No one wants Sarah there. And certainly not the students - especially Linda, daughter of the town's most ardent segregationist. 

Sarah and Linda are supposed to despise each other. But the more time they spend together, the less their differences matter. And both girls start to feel something they've never felt before. Something they're determined to ignore. Because it's one thing to stand up to an unjust world - but another to be terrified of what's in your own heart. 

First off, my expectations going into reading this were quite high. I had heard a lot about it over Twitter and it was being picked out by booksellers in most of the Waterstones I went into. I'm also a huge fan of Noughts and Crosses and always seek to read something that affected me in that way. Growing up in a small, very rural part of the world, O&X's unique look at race touched me very deeply and made me think hard about the world. I was hoping for a similar experience with The Lies We Tell Ourselves. I won't say I was disappointed, but it didn't quite deliver the hard-hitting punch I wanted it to. 

Reading The Lies We Tell Ourselves was a similar experience to watching Remember the Titans for me: entertaining, interesting and touching at times, but not earth-shattering. It made me aware of what happened during segregation (not that I wasn't before) but it didn't have anything new to give, even with the LGBT element. It's not as powerful as I wanted it to be, but it was a very engaging and page-turning read. 

A lot of that is down to the dual narrative that flips back between Sarah and Linda. Their comparative experiences keeps the plot fresh and quick, despite the fact that I thought their voices weren't overly distinct. That said, there were shining moments for them, such as Sarah's insightful thought that 'Being good means being invisible." This is something that stood out to me as quite astute, as an eldest child myself. 

I did also enjoy the early development of Linda and Sarah's relationship, the animosity they had at the start and the barbed conversations between them were lovely. I really enjoyed watching Sarah break down all Linda's pre-conceptions and seeing Sarah let go of her carefully cultivated control. The same cannot be said for the later stages of their romance which to me seemed very convenient and tidy for a story that was so tumultuous. *Spoiler* their ride of into the sunset on a white horse/greyhound just didn't gel with the rest of the high-stakes goings on for me.  

I did like that the story ends with Ruth's voice. It makes it nicely clear that this isn't just one person's story of struggle and that just because it ends happily in Sarah's case doesn't mean the same for everyone else. It adds a bit of needed bitterness and uncertainty to the oddly Disney-like ending to Sarah and Linda's story. 

There are some production hangups that I can't quite seem to get over as well, mainly because they pulled me out of the story i.e. the small, cramped typeface and the odd additions of illustrations. Also the strange mix of American and UK English. The cover uses coloured while the rest of the book uses colored, a rather odd choice in my book... Or not my book as the case may be. 

Although this review may read negatively, I did actually really enjoy The Lies We Tell Ourselves. It's right up my taste street as I love anything that explores race in an interesting and tasteful way, which this certainly did. I have some criticisms about story, and definitely about the ending, but it is a good, interesting read and I would recommend it. Though I won't go shouting about it. 

I bought this book at Waterstones. Learn more about the book and buy here