Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - Never Evers, Asking For It and The Wanderers

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

There are so many books I'm looking forward to in the next few months that I can't pick just one! So here are the three books I'm most excited about getting my hands on the coming months. 

There was a very exciting tweet from Chicken House this morning revealing that Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison, authors of the hilarious, honest and universally loved Lobsters, have a new book coming.

It's called Never Evers and across is its adorable cover! Hampsters, Haribo... what's not to love? 

About the book

Kicked out of ballet academy, Mouse is hating the school ski trip. Jack was sure it’d be filled with danger and girls, but hasn’t a clue about either. That’s until French teen sensation Roland arrives in the resort – and Jack’s a dead ringer for him.

After Roland persuades Jack to be his stand-in for a day, Jack, in disguise, declares his feelings for Mouse. But what happens when he’s no longer a pop star – will there still be music and magic on the slopes?

I loved Lobsters so am very much looking forward to this coming in January 2016! More info on the Chicken House website. 

One of the industry's most eagerly waited books of 2015 is without a doubt 
Louise O'Neill's follow up to Only Ever Yours which won the YA Prize this year.

Everyone who's read Asking For It thus far has brilliant/terrible things to say about it, in a good way!

Apparently it's a very uncomfortable read, but having heard Louise talk at YALC, I really can't wait to read it. 

About the book 

It's the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O'Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there's a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma. The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can't remember what happened, she doesn't know how she got there. She doesn't know why she's in pain. But everyone else does. Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don't want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town's heroes ...

Important is the adjective being most used to describe this. Coming in September from Quercus, so only 1 more month to go! 

Louise is going to have a great book birthday buddy in Kate Ormand whose new book The Wanderers is also coming in September from Sky Pony Press. I heard Kate talking about this at UKYAEtravaganza and couldn't wait to get my hands on it.

About the book 

Flo lives an eccentric life- she travels with a popular circus in which the main acts star orphaned children with secret shape-shifting abilities. Once Flo turns sixteen, she must perform, but she's not ready. In Flo's world, shifters are unknown to humans with the exception of a secret organization- "hunters." Hunters capture and kill. They send some shifters to labs for observation and testing--testing they don't often survive. When Flo's circus comes under attack by the hunters she and a bear-shifter Jett flee, but how long can they stay safe? 

I'm a huge fan of anything with a circus (Water for Elephants, Circus Mirandus, The Night Circus) so I think this is going to be right up my street.

And I didn't have to wait very long because it came through in the post today! This is whipping right to the top of my TBR and I can't wait to get started! 

Bookish love, 


Thursday, 23 July 2015

YALC 2015 - Key takeaways from a brilliant bookish weekend!

This time last week I was on a 6am train headed to London, buzzing with excitement to go to my 2nd YALC. With a weekend ticket in my pocket, I was geared up for three days of panels, workshops, agent area drop-ins and lots of bookish fun. And it certainly didn't disappoint!

What a brilliant weekend! Thanks to all the smart changes made by Booktrust, this year was even more enjoyable and successful than the last *thank you air-con!* I could go on and on about how great each event was but instead, I thought I'd share just some key things that I look from each event I attended:


Cosplay for Beginners 

Lucy Saxon as Draco and friends with awesome cosplay. Ginny had a real life Quaffle! And Ariel made her own corset!
- Break your first costume down into elements e.g. 
A Hogwarts uniform includes, robes, jumper, shirt, tie, trouser/skirt (+ tights) and shoes. 
Make each element one at a time and don't get overwhelmed by the scale of the costume.

- Factor in drying time of anything you create - paint can take up to 24 hours to dry.

- Make sure you bring a repair kit with you when you cosplay 
(duct tape, sewing kit and the mother of all cosplay saviours - the safety pin!)

- Join the UK Cosplay Facebook Group - like the book community as a whole, 
the cosplay community is super nice and super helpful to all.

- If you chose to wear a corset, make sure you break it in. Just like you would with a tricky pair of heels, practice wearing it. In particular, sitting down without dying... 

- Cosplay is like playing the piano: your sewing and crafting skills will develop in time so don't get down on quality at the start. Just get doing!

Creating Characters with L.A.Weatherly 

- The 3 Act Structure is your friend.

- The trajectory of the story depends on two things: what the characters want 
aka the emotional story line and what they need to do aka the main story line.
 One should drive the other.

- For examples of great characterisation, read anything by Stephanie Perkins 
(Anna and the French Kiss, Isla and the Happily Ever After etc)

- As an added, exclusive extra, L.A. Weatherly's new series of books was announced at this event: 

A video posted by Rachel Kennedy (@yabberingbooklover) on

Harry Potter Party!

- Loads of fun! Even more so because my house won the House Cup! Hufflepuffs ROCK!
Could it be due to the fact that we are particularly good finders...?

A video posted by Rachel Kennedy (@yabberingbooklover) on


YA: The Next Generation

Look at all the bookish peeps! 

- NaNoWriMo is awesome - both Taran and Alice started with it.
It's great for motivating yourself to hit a word count consistently.

- Publishing young is a Catch-22: The younger you are, the more impressive your book deal is. But the younger you are, the less seriously you seem to be taken.

- The best part of being a young writer is that you are closer to your readers in age and taste, making it that much easier to interact with them.

- Taran Matharu is an all-round awesome guy!

Cassandra Clare: Shadowhunters

Sarah Rees Brennan chairing Cassandra Clare 

-Lady Midnight is coming in March!

- The first book in The Last Hours series is called Chain of Iron. 

- Shadowhunter TV Update! Cassandra has been on the set of the new TV show, 
and can tell us that the actors are really approaching the roles differently.

- Harry Shum Jr had lots of intelligent, well thought out questions about Magnus' character. 
And although Magnus may not do any b-boying in the series, Harry does use his dancer experience to slink like a majestic magical panther (Sarah Rees Brennan's words, not mine)

- Cassandra Clare would be a Fairchild (because she has red hair and freckles) or Blackthorn (because she's an only child and would like to know what it's like to have a mental family)

Being a Girl 

Holly Smale, Hayley Long, Laura Dockrill, C.J. Shukse, Malorie Blackman and Anna James being boss witches

- We're a long way from being done with the feminism/equal rights debate, 
there is still a lot to fight for.

- We still need to see more examples of girls rescuing themselves and each other, 
not just deus ex machina style men coming in and saving the day

- We need to see more realistic, responsible representations of women. We need role models!

- Feminism is particularly important in YA because teens are learning about their gender roles. Honesty is important.

- Holly Smale is a boss: "Feminism is part of my voice. We need to chip away at gender inequality by chipping away at it with each new voice. My way is through humour - the best way to break down tropes is to laugh at them and yourself." 

- Girls are super harsh to each other. 
Flawed male characters are not publicly flogged the same way seemingly 'slutty' female characters are.

- We need to celebrate the differences between genders and people in general, not using the differences between what is feminine or masculine or otherwise to attack each other.

Agent 1-2-1 with Gemma Cooper

Book Wall over near the agents area. There were loads of bean bags and deck chairs this year = lots of comfy places to snuggle & read! 

- These are a great addition to YALC, and the agents are super happy for you to come an ask them whatever you want. I was so close to not doing this one, but I got over being nervous/having nothing specific to say and it was brilliant.

I can highly recommend!

Carrie Hope Fletcher's Book Club 

Carrie Hope Fletcher chairing Holly Smale, Malorie Blackman and Samantha Shannon
- I didn't take any notes for this, I just sat back and enjoyed all the awesome on stage!
Also forgive my terrible camera skills, I was fangirling to hard to focus *literally*

Judy Blume in Conversation with Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness and the charming Judy Blume 

- "No book or author is ever as important to you as those you read as a child or teen" - Patrick Ness on reading Judy Blume. *Preach Pat, preach*
It was evident Judy meant a lot to the people there, some girls opposite me were crying with the realness of it all.

- Judy wrote Forever because when her daughter was growing up in the 70s, all that was available to her were books with the message that when a girl gives in to her sexual urges, she is punished. Her daughter asked her if there could ever be a book where 2 nice characters do it and don't die... So Judy wrote books just about that. Being constantly fed that girls have no sexual feelings and that boys have no feelings is incredibly unhealthy - Judy wanted to change this.

- "Let's not pretend teens are in need of mollycoddling. Swearing is like tap dancing, it just feels good." - Judy Blume on explicit language

- Forever is a feminist book!

- In The Unlikely Event is the first story idea that came to her all at once - she'd never wanted to write about the 50s (the time period in which Judy grew up which she found frightfully dull) until she heard someone else talking about it and the story just popped into existence.

- The reason the 50s seemed like a boring time, she sees in retrospect, was that adults weren't telling them anything. The plane crashed details In The Unlikely Event happened close to Judy's house, and she never was told about it, saw the crash site, knew who died. This time was otherwise known as a time of secrets.

- Judy's writing ethos is just to tell the truth.


Non Pratt & A.J. Grainger

The workshop area was sectioned off this year. Whereas last year it was loud and hard to hear, this space was great. 

- Non Pratt is awesome and my new favourite.

- Be discerning if and when you pick an agent/editor: it's comparable to getting married. 

Bringing Sexy Back

Tom Ellen, Lucy Ivison, Louise O'Neill, Non Pratt and Daenerys & Dragons aka. James Dawson 

- Books and movies are actually being sexually sanitised. Everyone is so afraid to offend.

- Louise O'Neill has a cracking sense of humour. In fact, so does everyone on this panel. 
Funniest part of YALC by a mile!

- Louise O'Neill thinks that for many teen girls, sex is a performance. 
They are worried about appearing sexy/performing well (something I definitely felt as a teen)

- Realistic, responsible and honest YA has to be the antidote to pornography
where else are they going to learn about the emotional as opposed to mechanical lessons of sex
if not in books?

- Non Pratt points out that sex in her new book Remix forms the periphery of the story.
Yes sex is important, but there is far more friendship in teens' lives than sexual relationships, surely?

Taking Your Blog to the Next Level

Lucy the Reader, Jim from YaYeahYeah and Viv from SeredipityReviews 

- Advice - don't tweet negative reviews to authors.

- If you want your blog to be a diary of your reading, more power to you. If you want it to be something that people go to repeatedly for recs etc. write reviews for them. If you didn't like a book, then write the review for that person out there who will - all taste is subjective and someone will like it. Of course be critical, but be constructive.

- What defines a good blog: enthusiasm and being able to stand out from the crowd.

- Do you. Don't get wrapped up in comparisons, it leads to a deep, dark place...

Vlogging for beginners 

Lucy from The Book Belle, Amy from ShoutAme and Sanne from Book&Quills

- Equipment you might like to invest in: a tripod and any camera with filming capabilities. That's it! No need for fancy cameras, light boxes or editing packages etc. Just get started, learn cut, paste and delete and remember to film horizontally.

-  Tip: If you do buy a new camera, it's really helpful to have a flip screen.

- Film in the morning, when natural light is at its best. The panel tended to take a weekend morning and film several videos (swapping tops & hair between vids).

- Reviews tend to be the least popular posts (this is across the board of b/vlogging really) and hauls, wrap ups and tags tend to get the most views.

- The ideal length of a video is between 3 - maximum 6 minutes.

- Advice: Reach out to the community. Everyone is really nice and helpful.

- Tip for not getting stuck in a slump: Keep a list of video ideas you might like to make and if you're ever stuck for something to post, pop it up and get cracking.

And some other snaps from the weekend:

Tarot reading for The Accident Season - the line was huge! Very popular 

A girl in the signing queue for James Dawson had the most amazing Neil Gaiman inspired shoes! 

See you again next year LFCC :D

I was fortunate enough to be invited down to YALC with work and spend some time volunteering on the shared publisher table. As a result, I got to pick at all the leftovers with reckless abandon - look at all the swag!

And here are all the beautiful books I lugged home with me, seriously cannot wait to dive into them!

I can't recommend a trip down to YALC highly enough for any booklover. Gosh I hope it becomes a yearly occurrence...

Bookish love, 



Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Last Ten Books That Came Into My Possession

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

So here is a little peak into my bookshelf over the past few weeks. There's an interesting spread here,
from books I bought, those I received for review and those I stole from my sister's bookcase.  
So diving in first with those I received for review:

I am lucky enough to be on the Hot Key Books Blogger List and I was asked at the start of June which books I would like to receive from their list for that month. How To Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle and Almost Grace by Rosie Rowellrecent winner of The Banford Boase Award for her other title Leopold Blue. Both appealed to me as coming-of-age, summer road-trip/holiday stories. I quite enjoyed We Were Liars but had some serious issues with it, so my hope for HTBB is high. I'm currently half-way through AG and it's going to be my very next review. I'm enjoying it thus far, but it's just taken a turn for the odd that I'm intrigued to follow.

I also received This Is Not A Love Story by Keren David from Atom (which I previously reviewed here). I'm a huge fan of Keren and #TeamSalvage was my pick for the YA Bookseller Award.

I also won a copy of Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley from Chicken House. Circus Mirandus is about a young boy who's grandfather becomes very ill and the only hope is a mystery man from a travelling circus. I'm a sucker for anything with a circus (I have undying love for The Night Cirucs by Erin Morgenstern and Water For Elephant by Sara Gruen) so this is right up my street. And the giveaway was ridiculously fun - using the guide below, make your circus names  My circus name was Luna, The Magnificent Strong Woman.

I also received not 1, but 2 copies of The Next Together by Lauren E. James! Lauren is a fellow Nottingham Uni Alumn, and I'm super excited to read this. I'm going to be doing a giveaway of the 2nd copy at the beginning of August, so watch out! Also, isn't this a lovely print of Alice in Wonderland...

I then bought Remix by Non Pratt at Waterstones on Oxford Street, along with this amazing, beautiful, wonderful, every superlative out there for the graphic novel version of Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, with artwork by the grossly talented John Aggs.

Here is a little snap of my of my June Book Haul:

Believe it or not from the above, but June was a quiet-ish month for me. So to get to 10 books, we have to look back to May. I picked up A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I had heard so many good things about this book, and I was really in the mood for some fantasy after a lot of contemporary. I'm afraid it and I just didn't get on, just like with Throne of Glass series. I just don't think Sarah is for me sadly...

A photo posted by Rachel Kennedy (@yabberingbooklover) on

And finally, I have perused my sister's bookcase and temporarily stolen Paper Towns by John Green and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I am planning something on the run up to the release of the Paper Towns movie so keep your eyes peeled.

So those are the last 10 books that have come into my possession. It's been an awesome month, my first receiving review copies from publishers, and I have loved it! My TBR is about to explode with YALC this weekend. Follow me on Instagram for lots more bookish pics, reviews, updates and event reporting.

Bookish love,


Thursday, 9 July 2015

Review: This Is Not A Love Story by Keren David

Kitty dreams of a beautiful life, but that's impossible in suburban London where her family is haunted by her father's unexpected death. So when her mum suggests moving to Amsterdam to try a new life, Kitty doesn't take much persuading. Will this be her opportunity to make her life picture perfect?

In Amsterdam she meets moody, unpredictable Ethan, and clever, troubled Theo. Two enigmatic boys, who each harbour their own secrets. In a beautiful city and far from home, Kitty finds herself falling in love for the first time.

But will love be everything she expected? And will anyone's heart survive?  

Be warned, there are spoilers! 

Anyone who read my last review of a Keren David book will know I was an insta-fan of her work. She was my pick to win the YA Prize back in March (#TeamSalvage), so it should come as no surprise that I was chomping at the bit to read This Is Not A Love Story - thank you Atom for the review copy!

I'll say right off the bat that I did not love this as much as I loved Salvage. If you read my interview with Keren you'll understand that I had a really personal relationship with the story, so that could have a lot to do with it. That said, This Is Not A Love Story is a brilliant contemporary love story (despite what the title may have you believe) that I would definitely recommend.

Keren is the master of creating believable teen characters. She really understands people and their motivations, making her characters utterly relatable. For example, Kitty's desire to change herself into someone different and more interesting are definitely feelings I had as a teen. And the self-justifying way Kitty talks about Theo hits the nail on the head when it comes to unrequited/first love.

The male characters are a little less convincing for me personally. Theo's pining for Sophie is excellently portrayed, and yet another example of how Keren gets first love right. And Ethan is surly and alternative, which is a great comparison to the two other idealistic main characters. But neither of their motivations are overly clear to me, so some question marks did spring up throughout - for example, Theo being romantically interested in Ethan seems a little out of the blue to me. 

What's really stand out about This is Not A Love Story is the setting which is absolutely brilliant: Amsterdam = fascinating and fun! It totally made me want to visit  again... The descriptions Keren gives of the city are wonderfully evocative but never too heavy handed in a "This is Potsdammer Platz which is a big square with lots of beautifully crafted buildings and people and blah bleh blah..." way. And having lived abroad myself, Keren also describes the wonder of the new and different very eloquently.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and think I would have liked it even more if I had read it at 15 or 16. It's a great, light-hearted read that'd be great for a holiday and that I think teens will really enjoy.

Book received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.