Tag Archives: ya fiction

YALC: Event recap and book haul!

I can’t believe I was lucky enough to be able to spend a day at YALC, on Sunday! If you haven’t heard of the Young Adult Literature Convention, it’s the first ever of its kind on such a large scale in the UK, and was organised largely by Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman. I’m not sure if a second YALC for next year has been officially confirmed (But I really hope there will be another!), but this year it took up a section of the main hall for the London Film and Comic Con. It ran over Saturday and Sunday, hosting panels, workshops, talks and signings, and the list of authors attending was unbelievably exciting!

I’ve been excited about attending YALC for months, ever since Malorie Blackman announced the event online. I’ve been to quite a few blogger’s and author’s events over the last few years, but not a convention entirely based around books. So I was basically trying not to jump out of my train seat and I was trying to stop myself from squealing as I travelled up to London. I arrived earlier than the normal standard entry, to join a blogger’s breakfast with some other bloggers and booktubers – plus authors Matt Haig, Holly Black, Non Pratt and BoyQueen James Dawson. Thank you to the people who organised this pre-YALC event – it was so fun to get to talk to so many lovely bloggers, meeting new people and talking to friends I’ve met previously again! (Shout out to Alix Long who I talked to most, and is super awesome).

I won’t go over all of the panels I went to in detail as I’ll babble on a lot. Here are some (very blurry) pictures from events I went to, below! I did also attend a How To Get Published panel with Sally Green & Phil Earle, but was too far back / too short to get a good picture. I also caught the last few minutes of Crossover: Not Just for Kids panel, but didn’t include a picture below as I wasn’t really there for much.

Top two, Blogger’s breakfast; Third, I’m too sexy for this book; Fourth, Sisters doing it for themselves; Fifth, Sally Gardner and Holly Black in conversation.

PicMonkey Collage Events1

Also, below are pictures of the majority of authors I met at signings, and talked to in between events. It was so amazing to be able to meet so many brilliant authors in one place! I loved Lucy Saxon’s (Take Back the Skies) cosplay. It was also brilliant to finally be able to meet Holly Smale (Geek Girl), as not only am I a huge fan, but I’ve also tried to get to at least three of her past events, every time having to miss it for various reasons. Thank you to every one for signing my books!PicMonkey Collage Authors1‘Scuse me in some of the pictures, being generally un-photogenic / having my eyes closed half of the time 😛

Basically, YALC was fantastic. I enjoyed the day so much – I got to meet so many authors and bloggers. The day went so well and I think the panels were all really interesting, thought provoking, and a lot of them were hilarious (eg James Dawson & the I‘m too sexy for this book panel). I only wish there was more than fifteen minutes between each panel – I ended up missing quite a few parts because fifteen minutes was too little time to get my books signed during the signing slots that overlapped, for me.

At the end of the final panel with Holly Black and Sally Gardner in conversation, YALC announced that there would be a huge book giveaway- of all of the books that had been hanging on the awesome book wall, plus more stocks from various places. So, I spent the last… half hour, maybe, of the convention getting some really awesome books. At the end of the giveaway, when most was gone, staff said you were allowed to take multiple books at a time. And also, of course, I bought books earlier in the day. So overall, this was the YALC book haul… *deep breath*

PicMonkey Collage

I’m really looking forward to reading everything! There are quite a few books I managed to get at YALC that I’d love to read asap over the summer. I’m hoping to make a Summer TBR post soon, so a few titles may reappear there.

Finally, to wrap up – I loved YALC (and LFCC as a whole!) and I love all of the people who made it possible. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever been to, and I’m so grateful I was able to go and see so many people! It was really nice to meet lots of great bloggers, though I’m sad I missed some bloggers and authors. And, of course, thank you to all of the authors and interviewers who hosted some really memorable panels. The day I spent there was great, and I’m sure the Saturday there was just as amazing. I really hope YALC comes back next year!



Book Review: My Brother’s Secret by Dan Smith

Published May 2014 by Chicken House books.

20554182Goodreads Synopsis: Germany, 1941. 12-year-old Karl Engel is looking forward to joining the Hitler Youth, like all boys his age.

But when his father is killed, his rebellious older brother Stefan shows him things that leave his faith in the Führer shaken. Who is the real enemy? What is the meaning of the flower sewn inside his brother’s jacket? Karl soon finds out, as he becomes involved in a dangerous rebellion.

My Review: I really got into Historical YA Fiction last year, but this year I haven’t really gotten the chance to read that much! That’s a big reason why I was really excited to read My Brother’s Secret. I really wasn’t let down; it was a really enjoyable book, with lots of twists, and packed with emotion.

My Brother’s Secret reminded me a lot of The Book Thief: if you’re a fan of Markus Zuzak I definitely recommend this. It’s got similar themes of friendship, and rebellion, and is set in World War Two Germany. The story follows Karl Friedmann, a boy who is passionate about the Hitler Youth and serving his country. But after his father is killed in action, his thoughts about and pride in his country start to change, and he begins to discover that Germany has its rebels, and that he might be becoming one of them.

Right from the beginning I was really stuck into the story. I loved how the setting was described. Dan Smith’s writing is really likeable. I could almost feel like I was there, in Karl’s underground bomb shelter, riding across the fields with Karl’s best friend. The writing is really captivating and brought a lot of imagery.

The characters were all well developed. Karl’s personality changes a lot over the course of the story and I found it really interesting, to see him transition from being so passionate about Germany and the Fuhrer to committing rebellious acts. One character I would have liked to hear more about, though, definitely would be Karl’s brother. The story is centered around Karl’s discovery of his sibling’s rebel Edelweiss Pirates group, but for some reason I don’t think I saw… enough of him? The plot is mainly centered around Karl discovering the ‘other side’ of his village. I think I would’ve liked to hear how his brother joined the Edelweiss Pirates (The really interesting, real life group of rebels).

Overall, My Brother’s Secret was a really well written novel! I really loved Dan Smith’s writing. The plot was pretty unpredictable, and the last few chapters were so action-packed and shocking, I couldn’t put the book down. Karl was a really great main protagonist. I really loved how much he developed over the course of the plot. My Brother’s Secret really captures the impacts on German people in WW2. I’ll definitely be looking out for Dan Smith”s other title, My Friend the Enemy, now!

My Rating:


I received a copy of My Brother’s Secret from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.