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4th Quarter Reading Round-off

 Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Oops, I vanished off the face of the blogging planet again didn't I? Not only did I ignore my writing/studying blog but I also left this one to languish for 2-3 months. Sorry.
So I missed doing my Reading Round-offs for October & November, but I'm gonna chuck them in with my December reading now. It's not that many books when you realise that due to Nanowrimo (which I did attempt and failed again but not with such disastrous side-effects) I only read 5 books in all of November.

Here we go!

100. Misty Falls by Joss Stirling (1/10/2014 PM)
101. The Maze Runner by James Dashner (15/10/2014 AM) *RE-READ*
102. Talon by Julie Kagawa (15/10/2014 PM)
103. Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan (17/10/2014 AM)
104. Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle (19/10/2014 AM)
105. Frozen (Heart of Dread) by Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston (20/10/2014 AM)
106. Ghost of a Chance by Rhiannon Lassiter (21/10/2014 AM) *RE-READ*
107. Something Strange & Deadly by Susan Dennard (24/10/2014 AM)
108. A Darkness Strange & Lovely by Susan Dennard (26/10/2014 AM)
109. Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George (27/10/2014 AM)
110. The Sleeper & the Spindle by Neil Gaiman (30/10/2014 PM)
111. A Dawn most Wicked by Susan Dennard (30/10/2014 PM)

112. Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout (2/11/2014 PM)
113. 3 Weeks with Lady X by Eloisa James (6/11/2014 AM)
114. It's Not Me It's You by Mhairi McFarlane (9/11/2014 AM)
115. The Copper Promise by Jen Williams (17/11/2014 PM)
116. Winger by Andrew Smith (26/11/2014 PM)

117. My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins & others (5/12/2014 PM)
118. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (15/12/2014 PM)
119. The Falconer by Elizabeth May (17/12/2014 AM)
120. Half Wild by Sally Green (25/12/2014 PM)
121. The Selection by Kiera Cass (26/12/2014 AM)
122. The Elite by Kiera Cass (27/12/2014 AM)
123. The One by Kiera Cass (27/12/2014 PM)
124. The Selection stories by Kiera Cass (27/12/2014 PM)

125. You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane (29/12/2014 AM) 

October's Book of the Month

UNMADE!!! Holy crapsticks did this book put me through the wringer. There is a reason I dubbed Sarah "The Soul Destroyer" in my last post. But what a fantastic end to an amazing series even if some bits did utterly break my damn heart *sobs* I look forward to what she's gonna write next although I am fully prepared for it to stampede all over my feels again.
Honourable mention goes to Susan Dennard's Something Strange & Deadly series which I started in October although I still have to get hold of the final book (I have an email that I've been meaning to send for a month about that). It's such an awesome historical paranormal series with a fantastic heroine Eleanor who gets caught up with a ragtag bunch of people who are on the hunt for the Dead, the zombie creatures which are growing in number in Philadelphia. Eleanor is also trying to find out how the Dead are linked to her brother who has gone missing. There's action, society hijinks, Eleanor thwacking zombies with a parasol and well Daniel Sheridan. Need I say more?
Susan is also besties with Sarah J. Maas and they're doing an epic space opera story called Starkillers together on Tumblr which you MUST read!!

November's Book of the Month
Considering how I only read 5 books this month they were a bloody good bunch since 4 of them were rated either 4 or 4.5 stars out of 5. Top banana goes to It's Not Me It's You by Mhairi McFarlane which I was put on to by Twinnie Jess after her gushing review - I don't read a lot of general women's fiction, I am mostly a solid YA girl but this book has made me declare my love for Mhairi and vow to read everything she writes from now on. It's hysterically funny, like you're going to be sat reading on a bus holding back your ugly snorting laughs kind of funny. Her characters are amazing and so vivid that you want to be besties by the end. The romance actually caught me by surprise, it didn't come from where I expected but it was fab and made me stay up waaay too later to finish it.
Also Winger by Andrew Smith was an awesome YA Contemp that dealt with a great range of topics and shocked me to tears at the end but I am so fond of Ryan Dean now that I'm dying for the sequel Stand-off which is coming next September.
Also ALSO The Copper Promise by Jen Williams was the first in a fantasy series that had a bunch of characters that I fell in love with (Grumpy Frith included!) and a world that was so rich and extensive even in this first book so I'm really looking forward to where things will go in the second book The Iron Ghost which is due out next March.

December's Book of the Month
I think if you live in the UK you might just have heard about this one - like from everyone. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, it has been the book that has exploded in 2014 and was not only Waterstone's Book of the Year but also the National Book of the Year. I read it after hearing about it from all of my colleagues at Waterstones (where I worked this Christmas season! :D) and my god was everyone right to gush about  it! It's set in 17th century Amsterdam and follows the story of Petronella, an eighteen year old girl who gets married off to the extremely wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. He buys her an beautiful doll house replica of their house in Amsterdam as a wedding present and Nella finds a Miniaturist to make furnishings for it. But the exquisite works of tiny art which arrive from the Miniaturist are more than what Nella ordered and they start to tell an eerie story of what changes are coming in their lives at the Brandt house. Beautifully lyrical and suspenseful story that will linger in your mind long after you've finished it.
Honourable Mentions to Half Wild by Sally Green which I managed to read by fortuitous chance since an ARC was sent to my branch of Waterstones and I was able to borrow it before I finished there. I'll be doing a review that will hit the interwebs nearer the publication date of March 23rd. Also I finished My True Love Gave to Me and I was surprised that I enjoyed all of the stories, some I adored. I don't usually find that I like all of the stories in an anthology like this but this clearly was a magical collection of authors. Rainbow, Steph & Laini's stories were my ultimate favs which should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me.

So there we are! My Reading Round-off for the last three months and if you would believe it from October to now I've only had 2 re-reads! (that I've recorded because you don't need to know that I binged the entire Shatter Me series again when I was meant to be doing a writing assignment). But seriously guys I'm impressed that I made it only 2 out of 25 books read. It's probably a record.

I will be doing a Favourites of 2014 post soon I promise once I have all my reading statistics configured the way my nerdy brain wants them. I also want to do a 2015 Resolutions and goals post for both Reading and my Writing.

Hope everyone had a Great Christmas and Happy New Year if I don't see you before then!


September Reading Round-off

 Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Well hello there folks!! I know it has been quite a while since anything got posted on this here blog but that's because I've been rather busy over on my new writing/study blog Ray May Write fretting and procrastinating my way through September. Which has disappeared alarmingly fast, I'm less than a week away from my 24th birthday and only a few days away from the start of my two OU modules which is a little scary.

But I'm here today to do my September reading wrap-up and tell you what my Book of the Month is, it should be a fairly obvious choice if you follow me on twitter :P

Books Read in September
89. Mastiff by Tamora Pierce (8/9/2014 PM) *RE-READ*
90. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (11/9/2014 AM)
91. Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini (12/9/2014 PM)
92. Cross Stitch/Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (15/9/2014 PM) *RE-READ*
93. Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce (17/9/2014 PM) *RE-READ*
94. Trickster's Queen by Tamora Pierce (17/9/2014 PM) *RE-READ*
95. Speechless by Hannah Harrington (21/9/2014 PM)
96. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (23/9/2014 PM) *RE-READ*
97. Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan (25/9/2014 PM) *RE-READ*
98. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (29/9/2014 PM)
99. Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout (30/9/2014 PM)

Oops again with only 4 new reads out of 11 but who cares?

Book of the Month
This is an easy choice as you'll well know that I've been absolutely *dying* to read the rest of this after I got something like 25 chapters in over the YALC weekend. I had quite a time getting hold of a copy since I hadn't realised that the UK release date was over a week later than the US date so I expended rather a lot of stress and energy getting myself to Waterstones when they didn't have it in yet. *sigh* But when I did finally get my grubby mitts on a copy everything was right with the world. I devoured this book, I fucking loved this book and all its characters and the world and dammit I just love Sarah J. Maas ok? Heir of Fire was amazing and I don't quite know what I'm going to do with myself until the fourth book comes out. Thankfully we do have the epic sounding Court of Thorns and Roses due out in the Spring(?) so I can still get my Sarah fix before I find out what's cracking with Celeana. And I always have my re-read binge before the next release :P

Books I'm looking forward to in October
Now I'm going to keep the rest of this brief because I need to go be useful and help get dinner ready. I have a few things that I'm very excited for in October. One of them I finished this afternoon and have already flailed all over Twitter about - Misty Falls by Joss Stirling is part of a series that I adore and love to re-read over and over so I nearly had a heart attack in the library earlier when this book which technically doesn't even come out until tomorrow was already there on the shelf! Like a good addict I snatched it off the shelf and took it home to speed through. I may even re-read before I have to take it back to the library.

I'm also still trying my damnedest to get hold of a copy of Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan since I did my series re-read in prep for the release on the 25th and then no bloody bookstores near me have the book! So it will be the mission of early October to get it and see what Sarah the Soul Destroyer (as I shall call her to differentiate from Sarah of the Sexy Fae) has in store for me. From what I've heard so far, heartbreak and sadness but also perfection. So who knows what the fuck is going to happen?

There's also My true Love gave to Me which is the awesome sounding anthology of Christmas stories from a bunch of my fav authors. I am super excited for this and it should be a great book to read either in October or closer to Christmas when it'll really be fitting.

Anyways that's all I gots for you now, see you guys soon maybe.


August Reading Round-off

 Sunday, 31 August 2014

Good morning chaps! I know it has been a while since I posted on this blog but I have to own up to be being busy with a new blog that I've been setting up to talk about my writing and studying for the next year. So you won't see any more Writing Ray posts on this blog, instead they will be over on my new wordpress blog Ray May Write where I will also be posting about my experience studying two Open University modules at the same time.
While I know it won't appeal to everyone, I hope that some folk who may be interested in some of the things that crop up from studying a Creative Writing or French course might consider heading over there and following the blog. I am going to try and make my posts both interesting and informative :P

Right now that bit's over let's turn to this month's reading. It was a decent month compared to previous this year. 12 Books were read although there were 5 re-reads. BUT I will defend myself by pointing out that two *had* to be read before Isla came out! And another needed to be re-read before I read the second book since it had been a few years.

Books read in August
77. The Masterful Mr Montague by Stephanie Laurens (1/8/2014 AM)
78. A Rake's Vow by Stephanie Laurens (1/8/2014 AM) *RE-READ*
79. The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry (7/8/2014 PM)
80. Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (7/8/2014 PM) *RE-READ*
81. Lola & the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (8/8/2014 AM) *RE-READ*
82. Blood Red Road by Moira Young (8/8/2014 PM) *RE-READ*
83. Rebel Heart by Moira Young (13/8/2014 PM)
84. Isla & the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (14/8/2014 PM)
85. Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando (16/8/2014 AM)
86. Tribute by Ellen Renner (24/8/2014 AM)
87. Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo (26/8/2014 AM)
88. Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson (28/8/2014 PM) *RE-READ*

Book of the Month
This is going to be an easy decision because it's the book everyone has been waiting for since they read the first page of Anna & the French Kiss. After a wait that was a bit longer than we expected we finally got our mitts on Isla and the Happily Ever After on August 14th. Except it didn't go quite to plan since the UK pre-orders didn't get dispatched from Amazon so I had a very angry rant on Twitter before buying the e-book and devouring that instead. 
Stephanie is a sorceress I'm telling you - her words are pure magic and her characters make you laugh, cry, lust and generally FEEL ALL THE THINGS! Isla and Josh pulled me through a wringer of emotions, the ups had me grinning like a fool in love while the downs had me almost clutching my heart in the shared agony. It was a sublime ending to this trilogy of connected awesomeness and I am desperately awaiting whatever Stephanie writes next (Although I know she's got a short story coming out as part of the My True Love Gave to Me book which looks to be AMAZEBALLS).

Honourable Mention for Leigh Bardugo's Ruin & Rising (Grisha #3) the final book in her epic YA fantasy trilogy. It also had me running the gamut of feels and finished in a way that I hadn't really expected but really loved all the same. 
I had the really amazing opportunity to meet Leigh along with Moira Young (Author of Blood Red Road) when they did a Writing Q&A event at Birmingham Waterstones earlier this month. It was a fantastic day and I heard some excellent writing advice, even plucked up the courage to ask my own question and also got to chat books and writing with awesome folk. Jess did a great write-up of the event over here.

The week before that event Jess and I were in Birmingham for the David Levithan event. He did some readings from his new(ish) book Two Boys Kissing as well as answering questions from Steve Camden (Author of Tape) and the audience. It was at this signing that David told us that if we coming to see Leigh next week that we should ask her about her High school mascot. Me and Lily  of Whispering of the Pages actually asked Leigh about it as she was signing our books - her reaction went something like the pic below, followed by a vow to punch David in the face next time she saw time :P I also think that David had told fans at his Liverpool event to ask Leigh about it as well since she was tweeting after her event there about needing dirt on him stat. *hehehehe*

So it was a pretty awesome month since as well as going to these two events with Jess, I also went to see Brandon Sanderson (Author of the Mistborn trilogy and more recently the Stormlight Archives) in Nottingham with Le Boyf. He did some readings from a new book that is coming out soon as well as one from the third Stormlight book. I don't know what happened in that one since I had to go stand outside with the other naughty kids who hadn't read Words of Radiance yet since it would be spoilerific *hangs head*. Afterwards he signed books and I schlepped up with eight of the nine books that I own (fucking forgot the first half of the Way of Kings like an idiot) and got them signed, some personalised to me and some to Le Boyf since we've both read almost all of his books.

September is going to be a quieter month I think in terms of bookish things, I'll be gearing up towards starting my OU modules and there are no more author events for the time being so I gotta get to work.

Hope everyone had a good August, summer is nearly over!
Ray x


Writing Ray - Plot, plot, plot

 Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Now that I've completely destroyed the meaning of the word "plot" for myself I should say that this post is going to have nothing useful to other writers on the subject of plotting a book or anything else like that - for actual advice and helpfulness y'all need to check out Susan Dennard's website and her page of links to awesome blog posts For Writers because seriously she rocks and I've got the page bookmarked to my main toolbar.

This is more just a way for me to journal my writing process over the year so that maybe in another year or two I can look back and rofl myself into a stupor over my naive writer self and her daft assumptions about writing a book for the first time. For funsies and all.

Anywhoooo today I wanted to talk about the fact that I *think* I have the remaining scenes of my first draft plotted out - vaguely. Over the weekend while I was at my parents (and reliving my childhood by visiting Sudbury for like the 7th time) I busted out a crappy A3 pad I bought ages ago and grabbed some marker pens and mapped out about 8 scenes apiece for my two MCs for the middle section between when they meet for the first time and for the second.

It was a bit daft of me to leave the middle until last as by now it's been nearly 9 months since I wrote the First meeting scene and at least 3 since I wrote the second meeting so my thoughts about certain things and characters may have shifted slightly in that time - not counting the fact that I can be a fucking idiot and just forget I wrote some things - so getting everything to match up is going to be a challenge. One that will probably have to be sorted in the second draft.

So I now have two A3 sheets with my middle section planned out; some of the scenes on there have already been drafted so I really only have 12 scenes to write rather than 16/17 which is a bonus I guess. How long all those are going to end up being, I have no clue as yet. My original estimate of the book being 85,000 words is starting to fall short, it's looking like 95-100K will be more like a realistic endpoint for this book.

Setting up all the scene cards in my Scrivener project is delightfully fun and it will be even more enjoyable when I get to change the status of all those cards from "To Do" to first draft or something similar once I've written the actual scenes. Then once I've got all that done I might be able to say I've finished the first draft of my novel! *le gasp*

Now that will be exciting. For now I gotta keep chugging away at it and today's wordcount of 1113 words  has been rather lovely and helpful for getting me to a current overall wordcount of around 71.5K *holy shitballs that's a lotta words* So while the end may be in sight it won't do to give into complacency now.

But that's all for now folks. Carry on!
Ray x


Some things to check out

 Friday, 8 August 2014

Evenin' all this is just going to be a quick post with some links to stuff that has appeared in places not on the blog this past week.

Firstly today I was a guest poster over on my bestie's blog Jess Hearts Books as part of her Armchair Travelling feature. There was a post that went up yesterday as well as today's edition in which I talk about San Francisco! So please go have a look at those posts and all the fabulous places that the bloggers talk about.

And secondly earlier this week I made a rather large leap and posted up both the Prologue and Chapter 1 of my current WIP (the one I'm always tweeting about posting here about) up onto my Wattpad. It was very nerve-wracking after I posted them as Jess very awesomely tweeted about it and quite a lot of people went and read the Prologue... but not so much the first chapter. I resisted the urge to chew my hands off in anxiety. If you've not seen them and are interested, please click the links :D

Pretty please?

So that's all I wanted to say right now. I'll be going. 
Ray x


From Mah Youtube - Book Haul #29

 Thursday, 7 August 2014

Since I don't really keep up with the whole In My Mailbox/Letterbox Love memes anymore I just tend to do book hauls as and when I get a reasonable amount of books over my Youtube Channel RayReads. I did a vlog the other day so I thought I'd cross post it over here for you guys :) If anyone is interested in the preceding 28 book hauls there's a playlist of them on my channel page.

Books shown in haul
Eye of Minds by James Dashner
Rebel Heart by Moira Young
Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead
The Masterful Mr Montague by Stephanie Laurens
Three Weeks with Lady X by Eloisa James
Have a Little Faith by Candy Harper
Dictionary of First Names by Patrick Hanks & Flavia Hodges
The Breaking Point by Daphne du Maurier
Seeking Crystal by Joss Stirling

A mixed haul of various goodies, as you might tell from the vlog it's the Joss Stirling book that got me super excited because ever since I kind of ruined my copy of Seeking Crystal right after I bought it, I have been wanting to get a new copy. Now I have one and it's so beautiful I could cry.

So that's it for now, there may be something else I'll post about tomorrow... but you'll have to keep an eye on twitter for that... :P

Night folks
Ray x


Writing Ray - The Difference a Year Makes

 Sunday, 3 August 2014

So yesterday I happened to be pottering about on my Youtube channel and I saw a video I did last July entitled Why is Writing so dang hard? It was about 8 minutes of me grumbling about my difficulties with writing and how although I had several story ideas and many notebooks half-full with scribblings that none of it ever materialised into actual novel-sized pieces of writing.

In that video I showed two notebooks that had both got some notes on the first five pages or so - those are the notebooks for my current WIP that I have been working on this year. The yellow legal pad is now nearly full with plotting notes and scene snippets that I did in pencil (exclusively in that notepad I don't know why I just preferred it that way). The other notebook is not quite as full but it still has quite a lot of pages that are crammed with snippets, thoughts on characters and story timelines.

So if you think that a year ago, all I had an idea that was bouncing round my head, some scribbled thoughts and little else. Fast forward to now when I have nearly filled a notebook and have written **Monday Edit** nearly 67,000 words on this idea... that is some pretty awesome progress. Just since the start of 2014 I have written more than twice as much as my longest previous piece of writing.

According to Scrivener my book is currently equivalent to 215 pages in a paperback so when I get to my intended word goal it will be around 285 pages. If I overshoot a bit maybe it will end up as a round 300pgs. It will be a very strange thing indeed to have to print over half a ream of paper that will have my words all over them.

That's not to say that this year has been a cakewalk getting all this writing done. I've had to juggle my full-time job, my Open University studies and my home life while trying to write. My boyfriend has been amazingly supportive of me, even when he's nagging me to actually get my OU work done when I've been neglecting it for too long. But I think without the push from him last year to try and write this idea I might not have got started and I'd still be that grumbling non-writer lamenting the inability to get her thoughts out onto paper/pixels.

No gushy post about my writing progress will be complete without me mentioning, once again, the Amazing Alpha Reader/Slave-driver that is my best twinnie Jess. She has been my touchstone throughout this project. Every time I've sent her a scene to read I've been sat anxiously wondering "will she like it? What bits will she not like?" and when she sends me her feedback it all gets filed in the "Do not forget" part of my brain and when it comes round to editing this book those emails are getting printed out as the starting point.

So again, THANK YOU WITH SPRINKLES ON TOP Jess for keeping me locked in my Writerly Cage and rewarding me with cashews when I done good :P I'm pretty sure you're first in line for a dedication if/when this book gets itself into an actual printed format. You're the best first reader a girl could wish for.
Twinnie Jess on the left :)
  A year can change a whole lot, while I'm not 100% confident in my abilities as a writer (heck I don't like to think what the real percentage might be), I have irrefutable proof that I *can* get my ideas out in a reasonably coherent manner and create a story that at least one person wants to read. Which is a pretty damn good feeling. Who knows where I'll be next year? Charging ahead with edits on Book 1? Maybe have a first draft of Book 2? Be Plotting Book 3?? All of the above?!

I'm looking forward to finding out. I hope you guys don't mind me dragging you with me on the adventure.
Ray x


July Reading Round-off

 Friday, 1 August 2014

Well I honestly don't know where July vanished to. Rather oddly it feels like I'm already in the third week of the holidays when technically I only finished work last Friday O_O I'm guessing it's because I'm doing my voluntary work at the library that my brain is so mixed up.

But anyway this is going to be a fairly succinct round-off for the last month of reading. I know I've said I will do reviews for at least the YALC books I read this summer and I will honestly try but best laid plans and all.... Dude I frustrate myself with my apparent lack of will to do the things I say. Maybe I will get them done and then I can link them from here, who knows what'll happen?

July's Reading
65. Dead Romantic by C.J. Skuse (2/7/2014 PM)
66. Take back the Skies by Lucy Saxon (3/7/2014 AM)
67. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (4/7/2014 AM) *RE-READ*
68. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (4/7/2014 PM)
69. Scorpia Rising by Anthony Horowitz (6/7/2014 PM)
70. Lobsters by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison (7/7/2014 AM)
71. A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke (10/7/2014 PM)
72. Heart-shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne (17/7/2014 PM)
73. Glimpse by Kendra Leighton (19/7/2014 AM)
74. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski (19/7/2014 PM)
75. Persuasion by Jane Austen (23/7/2014 PM) *RE-READ*
76. Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve (25/7/2014 PM)

It was a pretty good month, only two re-reads would you believe it? *le gasp* and both excellent ones because seriously guys Persuasion is just one of the most feels-provoking Austen books and well Crown of Midnight is just plain fucking awesome.

Book of the Month
Out of the clutch of really fantastic books I read last month the stand-out book for me has got to be The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski. I had heard such amazing things about it that I had high hopes going into reading. It was such a vibrant fantasy world with two very distinct cultures and people, one that had been brutally suppressed by the conquering force and the other blithely lording it over them. The main character Kestrel is the daughter of one of the conquering Generals and living in the city that her father helped capture. When she ends up buying a slave for an outrageously large sum - something very unusual for her - she finds herself in an odd situation. What will she do with the sombre Arin? It was a vastly exciting and fast-paced story and the interactions between Kestrel and Arin are simmering with chemistry. Marie has created a fascinating world that I am really hoping we'll get to explore more of in the second book. I am already wracked with impatience for March 2015. *grabby hands*

Honourable Mentions
Really though so many of this month's reads were awesome - A Monster Calls had me crying at work in the library. Lobsters was full giggles and adorkable summer shenanigans. A Kiss in the Dark was heart-wrenching and tense. Heart-Shaped Bruise was inticingly aloof and surprisingly emotional for me at the end.

Blog Stuff
This has been quite a busy month for the blog, I did three MA-HOOSIVE posts following the awesome weekend at YALC which you can find here - Saturday, Inbetween Stuff, and Sunday
I did a rather odd Writing Ray post after I had a slight freak-out about my book and had to be talked down of the proverbial ledge of negativity. That post is here.
I also posted over here the video I did of my YALC book & swag haul - if you want to see that
I even did a Top Ten Tuesday post this past week because the topic was kinda awesome so have a nosy at that post if you like.
Yesterday's Writing Ray post was about the awkward questions you get from family/friends if you're a writer.

So that's everything I wanted to include. I may do another Writing Ray post in the next week and I want to really try and get a review done because otherwise I'll get months down the line and I'll have bloody forgotten what the books were even about let alone what I thought of them.

Have a great Friday folks, I'm gonna have a How to Train your Dragon rewatch tonight because I'm suffering from feels thanks to listening to the soundtrack for the last three days.

Ray x


Writing Ray - The awkward questions from relatives

 Thursday, 31 July 2014

Afternoon m'lovelies, I wasn't too sure what post I wanted to do today since I need to do a July Reading round-off post but I also wanted to share the rather awksies situation I found myself in yesterday while on a coach trip to Llandudno with my mother and Gran.

I was a last-minute replacement for my sister who injured herself at work the other week (how she still functions like a human I do not know - I'm sure she ought to be a cyborg by now) to help my mum push my Gran round Llandudno. Since I'm now footloose and fancy-free after finishing work I was like "sure, why not?" I haven't been to the Welsh seaside in forevs and if it was nice and sunny then it would be lovely albeit kinda sweaty if I was pushing the wheelchair.

Anyway this relates to my writing because rather than taking a book to read on the coach journey there and back I decided to take my notebooks for my current WIP which I've got back into writing recently. So there I am on the coach sat by the window angling my notebook away from my mother so she can't read what I'm working on when my grandmother pipes up asking me what I'm doing.

How do you go about explaining your Fantasy novel to your 74 yr old Grandma in a way that won't sound mental? How do you explain just the fact that you are writing down the ideas that dribble out of your head? I made some very vague references to it being a story similar to what I like to read and didn't say much else.

Then she asks the most irritating question that I'm sure most non-published writers get asked - "Are you going to get it published?" As if it's just a case of taking the handful of pages that fell out of your printer into a publisher, plonking it down onto a desk as is and being given a pretty, bound book straight back. I had to try and explain that not only is my book not finished, it is also going to require a fuck-ton of editing undoubtedly and then that's not even getting near to the mainstream route of queries, agents and publishers - if I get there at all.

I also found it bizarre how my family seem to have got this idea that I've been writing stories solidly since I was a child. Yes when I was younger I probably did (I can't honestly say I remember) but I have never finished a story in my teens/adult life so far. What do they think I've been doing for all this time? It was just so odd to hear my Gran talking about my "stories" as if I've done loads and they're just lying about my house waiting to be published. Dude I wish that was the case!

Another strangely awkward relative situation recently is that my mother is completely fine with the idea of my writing. To the point that she is more than happy for me to be doing a Creative Writing module as part of my Open University degree. I find this so unexpected and bewildering you wouldn't believe - I expected disapproval and hints to do something more worthwhile not... whatever it is that my mother thinks about it all.

So yea that was yesterday. In terms of actual writing it was a pretty good day - I got three pages hand-written for what is currently going to be my first chapter which has kinda ended up as 6 pages. Now I gotta type all that up into Scrivener and see what the finished first draft version will be. If you're really lucky maybe I shall post that and the prologue up onto my Wattpad.

If you care to have a read of a little snippet I put up last week which is related to my WIP but not actually part of the novel then take a mosey over here. Any thoughts or comments on that will be muchly appreciated.

Right I've spent too long writing this - getting distracted by other interwebby stuff. I may do another post soon on some of the music that has been part of my writing process more recently.

Ray x


Top Ten Tuesday - Authors you own the most books by

 Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is an original meme created by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Now I am a lady who gets attached to particular authors and then proceeds to buy ALL THE BOOKS they've ever written. Or at least multiple editions of the few books they did. So this topic is perfect for me.

Let's get cracking!

1. Tamora Pierce - MY QUEEN! Now I have 27 Books  by Tammy which is almost unprecedented I know. One is a duplicate copy of Trickster's Queen because my first copy has got a worrisome crack in the spine, it hasn't fell apart but one can never be too cautious in these cases! But yea, Tammy is my most owned author and will probably remain so for a long time to come.

2. Enid Blyton - This is not so significant when you think that I have all of the Famous Five books plus a few of the Secret Sevens. So 25 Books is almost a small Blyton collection.

3. J.K. Rowling - Now I bet some people are wondering how good ol' J.K. has got so high on this list when she's only really written 13 unique books but when you own two full sets of Harry Potter in english, plus 6 in French and 2 in Spanish it's gonna add up to an overall total of 24 Books.

4. Daphne du Maurier - If anyone has been following my blog/youtube since my Uni days y'all might remember that I developed a bit of an addiction to buying cheap copies of Du Maurier books whenever I found some I didn't have. This added up to a collection of 18 books that is predominantly unread *sigh*.

5.  Jane Austen - See entry no. 3, hell see this video here and you'll how it's possible to end up with 16 books by the lady who only had 6 published novels and 3 unfinished works. *facepalm*

6. Elizabeth Chadwick - Ditto as with Daphne, I bough TONS of her books while I was at Uni and many of them are still sat up on a shelf somewhere unread. 15 books man what am I doing?

7. Charlaine Harris - Even though I don't own the last Sookie Stackhouse book I have 14 books by her including the Harper Connelly mystery series. Might soon cull the hell of this collection though.

8. Sarah Dessen/Sir Arthur Conan Doyle/David Eddings/Stephanie Laurens/Maria V. Snyder/Richelle Mead (as of later today) - Ok the crazy tie is because I have 11 books by each of these authors. Richelle will be sneaking into this group once my copy of Silver Shadows drops through my letterbox :P

9. Ally Carter - Ally has got this group all to herself for now with just a mere 10 books, maybe more will join her in time :P

10. Trudi Canavan/Cassandra Clare/John Green/Georgette Heyer - This is another case of "How did *that* author sneak in here? I own 3 freaking copies of TFIOS and a french edition of Looking For Alaska that's how I have 9 books by John and these other authors.

So that's my top ten(ish) authors that I own the most books by! It's a seriously scary list when you think that all these account for nearly 250 books in my library! That is a quarter of all the books I own right there!

Anyone else got a similar addiction to buying multiple pretty editions of books by authors you love?
Have a great Tuesday folks!
Ray x


YALC Haul - from mah Youtube

 Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Since I don't know how many of yous guys watch my Youtube channel (you're not missing much I'll grant you) I thought y'all might be interested in seeing the video I made after YALC and dang if I didn't actually edit it a bit too! *le gasp*. It's basically just me going through all the books I bought and acquired while at YALC, along with the cool swag and signatures I got in the books I specifically took with me.

Books Bought/Acquired
The Manifesto on How to be Interesting - Holly Bourne
Landline - Rainbow Rowell
The Memory Keeper - Natasha Ngan
The Illusionists - Laure Eve
The Falconer - Elizabeth May
My Invisible Boyfriend - Susie Day
Glimpse - Kendra Leighton
You Don't Know Me - Sophia Bennett
The Shadow's Curse - Amy McCulloch
This Book is Gay - James Dawson
Naomi & Eli's No Kiss List - David Levithan & Rachel Cohn
Heart-Shaped Bruise - Tanya Byrne

I did also film a bit of footage while I was at YALC but nearly all of it was updatey stuff when I was in the hotel so I have not got round to editing that together, if I will at all since it's not exactly riveting stuff and y'all have surely had enough of me waffling at you about YALC.

As I have previously mentioned I am *hoping* to get to writing reviews of the YALC titles that I read this summer, providing that I don't have another freak-out about my writing abilities. So maybe you'll get to see some of those soon-ish.

And in additional addendum to my post on Sunday - the slightly special don't-mind-me-I'm-just-wigging-out post. I am either gonna post what I wrote post-freakout on a separate page on my blog (so it'll be accessible via the page bar) or to my Wattpad account. If you wanna give it a read that's fucking great but after I initially post it and tweet it out I ain't gonna mention it cos I don't want to feel like I'm forcing something y'all don't want onto you. *Edit* Above link now goes to the story snippet ^_^

Enough nattering though
Ray x


Writing Ray - Forget yesterday, write today

 Sunday, 20 July 2014

So if you were one of the 6 people who saw the post that was here up until this afternoon or if you saw my rather frantic twitter conversation late last night then you might know that I had a bit of a writerly freak-out yesterday. This sudden spiral into fear and self-doubt came over me after I finished an amazing fantasy novel that had me flailing all over the place when I realised how long I had to wait for the sequel.

Then that stupid little voice came nagging - "*Your* book will never be this good," it said like the little shit it is. "Why you haven't written anything for 2 months!" "What's the point of even carrying on with it? It won't be half as good as *that* book" Y'know the standard kind of negative shit internet trolls throw at you, except this was coming from my own fucking brain. *anguished wail*

I go through phases like this where a previously optimistic and happy mood just get shattered and dragged down by sudden negative thoughts. Then I find it very hard to feel good about any projects I'm working on and everything I do feels all rather futile and pointless - "It's all shit so why should I continue with it?" kind of mentality.

So I wigged out on twitter. Several people came to my aid; my ever-awesome bestie/twinnie Jess, the lovely Lily from The Whispering of the Pages and another kind twitter user. All had very helpful advice for me to try and motivate me back onto the horse when all I was thinking of was bolting and never looking back at my book again.

This morning, when I woke up at around quarter to nine I picked up the notepad and pencil I had put on my beside table before I went to sleep, stuck in my earphones and started to write. And I wrote. I kept writing even while I was in Wetherspoons getting breakfast with Le Boyf (who has to be credited for his awesomeness in not questioning why this particular Sunday morning I simply *had* to write and bring my notebook with me to breakfast). I finally finished the scene I was writing around 2pm-ish and felt pretty awesome.

12 pages of my yellow legal notepad (because those things are cool) were full of my scribblings. After two months of nothing but angsty thoughts that I should be writing but wasn't, I had gone and got 12 pages written. Fucking suck on that Negative Ray of Yesterday.

I then spent the next 2 hours typing up all my penciled pages into my Scrivener project - in a separate document since this scene is not necessarily going to end up in the book, I wrote it in 1st person POV rather than the 3rd person POV I've been writing the rest of the book in.

It turns out that I managed to write 1,944 words today. Nearly 2K of story that I didn't have before - regardless of whether it goes into the book or not, it has gotten me to write and think about my book, write from my main character's POV about a time in her life that was a fulcrum between the old and the new. What I've written today has given me a base to jump from to write the scenes between my main character and the person she meets for the first time in this scene.

I have to say a massive thank you to Jess & Lily for being so awesome so late last night - without you guys I may have spent the rest of the night bad-thinking myself to a point where I simply just put my notebooks away so they couldn't make me feel guilty about abandoning them. And Stupid Negative Ray would have simply said "It's for the best," without a second thought.

Thanks to you I didn't do that, I got up the determination to start writing and damn it I wrote for something like 4 hours! *super-massive squooshy hugs*

Now the only thing I have left to say is - Does anyone want to read what I wrote this morning? Just purely for the hell of it with no context if you don't want to know the whole spiel about my book. If so then please leave me a comment (heck leave me one even if you don't, I just don't get enough comments these days and it makes me a bit sad) and I shall either post it up on here or email it over depending on how chicken I feel.

So yea, let me know.

Sorry for being weird guys,


YALC Write-up - Sunday

 Friday, 18 July 2014

So this is it. The last post I going to write about YALC which was now almost one whole week ago. It’s very weird to think that tomorrow morning I’m not going to have to wake up at the ungodly hour of 7am (Positively late compared to some of the times people got up at in order to catch their trains last week). I am really looking forward to having a lie-in for the first time in nearly a fortnight. Although I can’t sleep the day away as I am starting my volunteer work at my local Library for the Summer Reading Challenge. May talk about that a bit later in the summer.

Anyways! Sunday at YALC – as you will know from my Fringe& Blogger Brunch post yesterday Jess and I got in the convention centre early to attend the Brunch and as the first thing we planned to do was get our copies of Half Bad signed by Sally Green we had a good chunk of time to kill before we needed to join a queue (god I love queuing – it’s so British :P).

So we ambled around the merch tables while it was quiet to snag some more of the adorable vinyl figures & bobbleheads – I got a Black Widow bobblehead because she is a *BOSS* and I love her to bits, as well as a Hodor figure for le Boyf because… Hodor.

Eventually we felt it was time to head back to the Book Zone to get a good spot in line for Sally Green so that we wouldn’t end up being too late to the I’m too Sexy for this Book Panel not long afterwards. Due to a very lucky coincidence Jess and I had our awesome Queue Buddy Charlotte join us for more chats while we waited, along with a fly-by visit from Lucy in her OITNB cosplay.

Once the signing started the queue moved pretty quickly and before you knew it I was stood in front of Sally, my brain suddenly devoid of all memory of what the hell happened in Half Bad and she asked me what I thought was going to happen in Half Wild. *blushes* This is the curse of my insane reading speed – I remember some books really well and others despite loving them drop out of my head as fast as I finish them. 

Afterwards we dashed over to the panel area to grab seats for possibly the most entertaining panel of the entire weekend. I’m sure most people have already heard about the most infamous comments from the panellists so I won’t reiterate them all here. I particularly liked Cat Clarke telling us how if she could go on a date with any fictional character she’d want to go on a date with Queen Cersei since she had just peed next to Lena Headey in the green room toilets. I think most of the authors at YALC were rather excited at sharing the green room with the various actors and actresses at LFCC.

Following hot on the heels of the panel was the Cat Clarke signing so we motored over to *another* queue to wait for her to arrive. Enter Queue Buddy Charlotte again to keep us company. I had brought my copy of a Kiss in the Dark for Cat to sign, which I finished recently and really enjoyed. Out of Cat’s four books the only one I've still not read is Torn so will have to sort that out soon. I have dug through my old posts to find my review of Entangled which I loved back in 2010, of her third book I told Cat “Undone undid me.” I think I will have to do a review of Kiss the Dark real soon…

We were meant to attend the Sisters Doing it for Themselves panel but as we hadn't actually had a proper meal on Saturday we decided to go and buy some food and sit down for a while instead. There followed nomming of delicious paninis and slouching on sofas up in the seating area upstairs. It was nice to just space out for a little bit after so many hours of intense alertness on bookish things. 

Rested and fed we toddled back downstairs with the intent of joining the queue for Sarra Manning's signing and found it remarkably shorter than expected for an author who has been around for so long. But this was more to our benefit as it meant we didn't have to wait long. During this time I had a bit of surprise when Stevie from SableCaught wandered over for a chat in an awesome wig that looked like it came from unicorns. I had waved a rather manic hello at Stevie the previous morning since I chickened out of actually trying to speak to her when I saw her at the Divergent premiere in March, so it was very lovely to speak to her. 

Sarra Manning was fab and when she snuck two books over to Jess from under the table I think my bestie was speechless for a moment or two. She has loved Sarra's books since she was 13 so I think that was one of the things that made her day. I am comparatively a Manning Newb having only read Adorkable - which I loved - so I really enjoyed seeing Jess have that moment with one of her favourite authors.

Once we had seen Sarra we wandered round to the next row of signing tables to catch Tanya Byrne to sign our copies of Heart-Shaped Bruise (mine being newly purchased that day and Jess's her awesome-looking proof copy). I have since read this book and I gotta say - wow - and hopefully will be compiling some more helpful thoughts into a review soon. 

I am fairly sure that I got my copy of the Killing Woods signed by Lucy Christopher after that but I didn't get anymore photos after this point so I'm not exactly sure. But I am very intrigued by the sound of her third book which promises to be as unexpected and intriguing as her debut novel Stolen which was a compelling and rather unsettling read. 

The day was beginning to wind down and the fatigue was starting to catch up to us but we'd heard from a little birdy in the form of Michelle from Fluttering Butterflies that all the books that had been hanging by ribbons on the book wall were going to be given away around 5 o'clock along with lots of other books, so we decided to loiter around until then. 

In the meantime Jess had the rather nifty idea of getting a copy of Matt Haig's Echo Boy for our friend Ellie of Book Addicted Blonde since we had planned to bring her copy of The Humans and Fangirl to get signed over the weekend but due to poor execution of said plan, hadn't managed it. But as you may have noticed by Ellie's tweets earlier this week after I went and gave her the book she rather liked this present :P

Right at the end of the day there was a lull in the book zone where nothing much was happening, I was sat on the floor trying to coax and curse my phone into actually updating twitter in spite of its inability to do so all weekend while Jess was over by the swag table chatting to some bloggy folk. All of a sudden there was a flurry of movement and a queue started forming! The Great Book Giveaway of YALC had begun! By the time Jess beckoned me over I had missed the jump and got ushered back down the line like a naughty queue-cutting gremlin. 

I was not lacking in people to chat to though and I got to have a fangirly discussion about my most favouritest (bugger you Blogger I'm using that word) author Tamora Pierce with Stevie who is quite possibly the only other person I know of who has read her books in this country. 

When the giveaway got started I was hoping to grab the copy of the Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski that I'd seen hanging from a ribbon - but alas it was long gone when I got there so instead I snagged a copy of the Falconer by Elizabeth May which sounds equally as awesome and since I bought a copy of The Winner's Curse from Waterstones today it all works out perfectly :P

After claiming our books Jess and I decided that we were done and decided to head off to grab some dinner before reclaiming our luggage and going to catch our train home. We had delicious burgers at a place called Byron on Earls Court Road and then got a cab from our hotel to Euston Station. Every time I am in a cab in London I do get awfully worried by the people driving around the city because I am always afeared that none of them actually have a license or know what driving is supposed to look like because dang if none of them have heard of lane discipline *chews hands*.

But we made it to the station alive and in time to buy some drinks before dragging ourselves practically a mile down the platform to get to our carriage (stupid A carriage being right at the front of the train). It was only a short wait until the train left and we were on our way back to Coventry. I tried to cram as much of Heir of Fire into my head while I still could since I had to leave the Kindle with Jess, finished or not. 

The return journey was kind of melancholy in the sense that we didn't want it to be over so fast. It had been such a whirlwind of fantastic conversations and meeting new people and authors and had felt so welcoming and warm that I know I'd give anything to go back there every weekend (although preferably in a better air-conditioned space with less of the non-YALC goers) and spend hours interacting with people who share my passion for books, reading and writing. 

But alas, the real world called... but at least we can escape into all the new worlds brought home from YALC when we need to get away. I know I will be spending many happy hours getting to know new characters and living their lives alongside them during this summer.

So that is it! Everything I have been able to dredge from my exhausted brain about last weekend. Anything I have neglected to mention is me being a derp and I apologise. Hopefully there will be other non-mahoosive posts coming soon as I attempt to write some GOD-DAMN REVIEWS! And when I have finished work for the summer I am also gonna do my damnedest to start writing again because I still owe Jess scenes! (nag me on Twitter people seriously)

Saturday Write-up is Here
Fringe & Blogger Brunch Write-up is Here
Jess's YALC posts for Saturday and Sunday

Now I shall be off to bed to sneak a bit of reading in before some much-needed sleep and tomorrow a lie-in! *huzzah*

Looking forward to YALC 2015 already guys.
Ray x


YALC Write-up - Fringe Event & Blogger Brunch!

 Thursday, 17 July 2014

Howdy folks, today I'm gonna be doing a somewhat *cough* shorter write-up of the events I went to in-between the two days at YALC. One was the Fringe Blogger & Author event organised by Sophia Bennett (Author of You Don't Know Me & The Look) which brought together over 50 UK YA authors and book bloggers and the other was the Blogger Brunch held on Sunday morning at Earls Court where a group of bloggers got to listen to four fabulous authors talk a bit about their books before they broke out the caffeine and croissants for general chat and mingling.

After the general mayhem of Day One at YALC Jess and I were damn near exhausted but after a quick freshen up and changeroo of totes we were ready to stagger back out of the hotel and down Earls Court Road to the nearby O'Neills pub. In the upstairs room there were already quite a few authors and several bloggers milling about mostly with cold drinks in hand because holy hell it was like a sauna up there!

I furnished myself with a deliciously cold Kopperberg (that doesn't look right but meh) from the bar and got some chips ordered because dang I was wobbly from lack of actual food all day - turns out cereal bars and cashews can only sustain you for so long before you feel really faint. It also turns out that if you guzzle down said cider then you are going to get tipsy almost instantaneously and have to take extreme care for the rest of the evening when speaking to people so they don't know how awfully wobbly and incoherent you are :S

I got to chat to several fab blogger peeps including Jenny from Wondrous Reads whose blog I've followed for possibly almost as as long as I've had my blog so like 4 odd years! Also chatted to another Jenny who was representing A Life Bound by Books - I had crossed paths with her so many times over the course of Saturday afternoon that it was starting to seem like we were following each other.

I also met Jim from YA Yeah Yeah, Carly from Writing from the Tub, Debbie from Snuggling on the Sofa, Faye from A Daydreamer's Thoughts and most likely a few others that I'm forgetting. *begging a thousand pardons*. I also was able to chat with Lindsay who has been great to talk about writing things on twitter these past few months since I've been having a damn good stab at writing a book -Lindsay is currently drafting on her second book in a YA Speculative series and editing the first and I gotta say that I shall be vair eager to read it when it gets published as it sounds tres intrigue :D

Once everyone had got settled Sophia thanked everyone for coming and encouraged us to buy raffle tickets (all the proceeds were going to the Siobhan Dowd Trust) for a chance to win one of seventeen awesome stacks of books. Then the photographic expertise of Jo Cotterill was called upon to get shots of all the bloggers and authors who came. Here be the Blogger pic - Can you spot me and Jess?

In the time before the raffle was drawn I scarfed down my chips to try and stabilise my super-wobbliness. Jim then got called upon to be the glamorous raffle assistant to help draw the winners; I actually got my ticket drawn so I got to pick from the amazing selection of book prizes.

I plumped for a stack containing books by Sophia Bennett herself, Kendra Leighton and Susie Day which all sound excellent and since all three ladies were at the Fringe event I was able to get them signed! Although pretty sure I looked rather like a plonker shyly sidling up them to ask for a signature. But had wonderful conversations with them all despite my inability by this point to string proper sentences together - I am very much looking forward to reading these three books. Thank you so much!

It was not much later after this Jess and I decided it was finally time for us to crash back to our hotel to sleep because we needed to be up in the morning to go to the Blogger Brunch! That being said I did read more of Heir of Fire (off Jess's Kindle, which she kindly lent to me for the weekend but then CRUELLY TOOK IT BACK ON SUNDAY NIGHT *sobs*) before I finally passed out for the night.

Next morning was just as early a get-up as Saturday and didn't bode too well to begin with because Mother nature is a bitch. But a hot shower and a pilfered cup of tea later and I was feeling a bit more alert and indulged in some more of Heir of Fire before Jess and I had to head out for the Blogger's Brunch. I did have the slight hiccup in that I had rather idiotically left my shoes out on the balcony overnight and of course - it rained. Cue 10 minutes of frantic hairdryering of my shoes to get them to a state of wearableness that wouldn't leave me with trenchfoot.

When we got to Earls Court we found that the queues were much more subdued and with the previous night's rain everywhere was considerably cooler *thank the gods* so Jess and I were able to just saunter round the building to Gate M where a YALC rep was waiting with a clipboard to let us breeze into the Con with no effort at all. Which was rather thrilling since it was only about 9:40 and we only had standard entry tickets :P

The Blogger Brunch had been organised by the lovely folks at Indigo (Uber thanks to Nina for letting me come along!) and we had the extreme pleasure of being able to meet James Dawson - Queen of Teen himself, Non Pratt, Matt Haig and Holly Black and hear them speak about their upcoming books, before we reverted to a more informal structure and everyone grabbed tea, coffee and pastries and mingled.

James Dawson was looking fabulously regal in his crown and was telling us about his new non-fiction book - This Book is Gay - which as you will quickly infer is about LGBT topics and issues. We all got an early copy of the book in our goodie bags and it looks to be a very interesting and informative read. James was passionate in talking about wanting this book to get into the hands of teens who may have questions about their sexuality especially as it's the kind of book he wishes he could have read when he was a teen. It's available from September 4th!

I did take with me my copies of Say Her Name, Trouble and The Coldest Girl in Cold town and the authors were all very lovely in signing them - James even drew little crowns when signing his books!

Overall they were both great events and I felt really lucky that I was able to go as they were quite small gatherings. I always tend to question my worthiness as a book blogger at these type of things since I've not actually done a proper book review for a couple of years. But everyone I spoke to was so nice and welcoming and I am really excited to get through all of their books during this summer.

Anyways it is getting late and I want to start a new book tonight.

My Saturday Write-up is here, Jess's Saturday & Sunday write-ups have now been posted so check them out! Stay tuned for my Sunday post.

Night folks!
Ray x


YALC Write-up - Saturday

 Wednesday, 16 July 2014

As a few of you might know I went to YALC last weekend with Jess and in short it was awesome. Like, seriously FUCKING AWESOME. Never has a weekend been so utterly devoted to books and the people who both create and read them and this was such an amazing thing to be able to attend. The whole weekend has already taken on a surreal quality in my mind and it's so strange to think that something that was 3 months in the planning (for Jess & me) was done and dusted in 48 hours.

We begin our epic tale on Friday when Jess & I got the train down to London in an attempt to avoid an horrendously early start on Saturday. Lugging our trolley full of books down several flights of stairs at Euston station was an exercise in strength and fortitude we could have done without, however when we finally arrived at our hotel we discovered it was all of a 400 metre walk from the gates of Earls Court, which was pretty handy.

At this point we felt rather tired; or what we previously knew as tired - our definitions got slightly skewed a day later - so we opted to spend our Friday evening chillaxing on my room's balcony with strawberries and sparkling rose like classy gals, enjoying the view of all the cosplayers leaving the LFCC preview evening and schlepping their way down the street. Then came the obligatory early night before the Morning of Mayhem that was destined to be DAY ONE AT YALC!

Saturday was fucking hot. I mean seriously hot. Like hotter than hell's muggy balls - hot. Ask anyone in Earls Court what they thought of the Con on Saturday and "hot as fuck" would have been their first answer. We got pre-baked outside in the immense queues for standard entry that snaked around a good length of the conference centre with only oohing and aahing over cosplayers to entertain us. When we finally made it inside after narrowly avoiding sunburn and getting into a minor argy-bargy with some snotty queue-cutters *ptuey*, we had to batter our way across the merch zone with our trolley in tow in order to get to the Book Zone. Obviously this was in the furthest corner away from the main doors so it took us a good 10 minutes or so to break free of the crush.

By the time we made it to the Book Zone information point we found that all of the Superfans Panel tickets had gone and that the places for C.J. Skuse's writing workshop had already been drawn - much to our dismay. So to commiserate we flung ourselves at the lovely Waterstones staff and swapped them handfuls of money for armfuls of books - so it worked out quite wonderfully. Then we plonked ourselves down in the awesome beanbags next to the even awesomer Book Wall in order to kill a bit of time before the signings started.

At this point we started chatting to Lily from The Whispering of the Pages  and had the first of several fab booky conversations with her over the weekend (I'm still rather jealous that Lily had C.J. Skuse as a lecturer at Uni). Then we made the slightly deranged decision to venture out of the relative quiet of the Book Zone and plunge back in to the smorgasbord of people in the LFCC merch area. Lots of shuffling, one Batman bobblehead and a growing sense of panic later we retreated to safety and joined an already impressive queue for Rainbow Rowell.

Jess, Charlotte & Lucy Queue Buddies !
This became the queue of legends; that defied all queuing logic and decorum, snaking hither and thither with the end of the line being an elusive pot of gold that no one could seem to find. We landed a spot about one and a half snakes from the start and were standing with a fabulous few ladies who became the Ultimate Queue Buddies as we chatted for the hour and god knows how much extra we waited for the signing to start. Charlotte & Lucy thanks for making the time pass so enjoyably!

During this time there were two awesome occurrences. Firstly I was able to dash over to C.J. Skuse's signing table and get my copy of Dead Romantic signed. There followed a lot of gushy fangirling about how much I loved Rockaholic and Pretty Bad Things and how much they helped me deal with some of the crazy shit I was dealing with back in 2011. Plus my glee about the fact my review of Pretty Bad Things is actually *quoted* in the back of Dead Romantic! C.J. was so lovely and wrote me such a nice message in my book and she even posed for a pic!

The second awesome occurrence during the Rainbow queue was due to the random happenstance of the Celebrity Wrangling Area (or the Green Room in common parlance) being tucked behind the Book Zone. We all got a rather gob-smacking surprise when Lena Headey (Queen Boss Cersei herself) came breezing through the queue right behind Jess! Needless to say there was quite a good deal of flailing amongst the Queue Buddies after that! Eventually Rainbow did appear and we slowly shuffled our way alond to get our books signed. I can't now remember what I said to Rainbow but I'm sure it was fangirly :P

Sashaying sideways from Rainbow's table I stopped at Lucy Saxon's and got her to sign my copy of Take Back the Skies. She was looking amazing in her Captain America Cosplay and I loved seeing the suitcase full of books that she brought to get signed - it's great to know that authors get just as fangirly as the rest of us :P

After all that we needed a bit of a break so Jess went to acquire more drinks while I stood pressed against a wall keeping me and the trolley out of the way of passer-bys. Then Jess dashed to her Blogger Workshop while I nabbed a seat at the Bring me My Dragon Fantasy panel. Alas I don't recall much of it as I was spacing out massively with the heat, dehydration and hunger plus I had to dash off partway through so I could sort myself out before I got in line for the Patrick Ness signing .

Another pleasant queue chatting experience whilst waiting for Patrick - and as we wound our way round the Book zone in the queue I managed to dive over to Amy McCulloch's table and get my copies of The Oathbreaker's Shadow and the Shadow's Curse signed. Amy was really nice and I'm really looking forward to reading and hopefully reviewing this duology in the next couple of months. (Pray to the reviewing gods for me so they send me some mojo).

While Patrick Ness was signing my copy of A Monster Calls, which I read very recently, I told how it made me cry while I was at work - he replied with "You're Welcome." Proof of what I had already suspected; that authors revel in the tears of their readers. :P Something I'm sure Jess would be quick to accuse me of as well *looks innocent*

We were onto the home straight now and at some point around this time (everything got real fuzzy towards the end of the day) I stumbled across Laure Eve on the Books With Bite stand and asked if she would sign my copy of The Illusionists. I didn't manage to read Fearsome Dreamer before I bought the second book but I've got faith that I'm going to really like this series so no worries.

The last two authors we met were Holly Bourne (who Jess was super-excited for since she got to exclusively reveal Holly's new book and she is quoted in the back of it :D) and Natasha Ngan. I got a pic of Holly as she was signing our copies of The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting
in her perfectly colour-matched dress. She told us how hard it had been to find a dress in the same colour as the vibrant page edges of the book but she succeeded magnificently!

Natasha was wonderfully chatty and really nice and I'm going to have to look into getting her first book The Elites after I've read the Memory Keepers as I mentioned to her how glorious I thought the cover was. I don't know how coherent I was by this point so I may just have drivelled at her most of the time we were talking.

So we had reached the end of everything we wanted to get done on Saturday and we had to get ourselves freshened up for the Fringe Blogger & Author Event at a nearby pub. So very wearily we trundled our way back across the now-slightly less crowded Earls Court (Managing to get this pic of the most awesome Castiel cosplay I saw all weekend on the way), so we could drop off most of our stuff at the hotel.

For me Saturday was generally a successful day, I did gripe and bitch about the heat, my crappy knees and the need for proper queuing lanes, but I really enjoyed myself and all the conversations I had with authors and bloggers especially since I've not felt like a proper book blogger for a few years as the last actual book review I did was in 2012. It was a really great opportunity to reconnect with the community and I do now have some of that blogging fervour back that I lost along with my confidence in reviewing. Maybe over the next few months when I'm not working full-time and in a strange limbo space of studying and whatever else I fill my time with I can start to ease myself back into writing reviews and articulating my thoughts and feelings about books like I once did.

Now if you have gotten this far you are to be commended as it's been a post of epic proportions and I'm only a third of the way through. There is still to come my write-up on The Fringe & Blogger Brunch events and Sunday at YALC itself. So stay tuned for those later this week.

Alas it is late and I must sleep because work tomorrow and grumpy Ray is not all that good at her job.


Hope you like this post folks!
Ray x


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