Saturday, 20 August 2016

#6Degrees: Unboxed to... (Guest post by Lisa Williamson)

I'm excited to have the brilliant Lisa Williamson taking part in 6 Degrees today! Lisa's debut, The Art of Being Normal, is one of my favourite books of the last few years.

Non Pratt's stunning novella Unboxed takes place over a single day. Another YA novel with a short timeframe is Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.

Set over a single evening, it charts the romance of Nick and Norah, brought together by their almost identical taste in music. The novel is co-written by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, who have gone on to pen a further three excellent books together. One of my very favourite co-writing teams is the hilarious and brilliant Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison.

Tom and Lucy's debut, Lobsters was widely regarded as one of the funniest books of 2014. The novels exploration of teenage sex is frank, funny, realistic and overwhelmingly positive, instantly reminding me of the representation of sex in Judy Blume's iconic Forever.

Forever is the story of Katherine and her boyfriend, Michael. It's widely considered one of the first books for young adults to portray teenage sexuality in a positive light, tackling virginity loss and masturbation alongside themes such as divorce, bereavement and family stress, all with Blume's trademark honestly and humour. Over 30 years after publication, it's is as popular and relevant as ever. Published a year earlier, The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger has also stood the test of time. 

The Cat Ate My Gymsuit explores parental relationships, body image and popularity. Its thirteen year-old narrator, Marcy Lewis learns to find her voice when her favourite teacher, Miss Finney is threatened with the loss of her job for her unconventional teaching practices. Marcy leaps to Miss Finney's defence, her protest resulting in a suspension from school and major rifts at home. Another teen making a stand is the wonderful Lottie in Holly Bourne's What's a Girl Gotta Do?

After being heckled on her way to school, Lottie decides enough is enough and launches a feminist revolution, calling out every instance of sexism she sees (with a little help from a rather loud clown horn). The climax of Holly's excellent Spinster Club trilogy, it's a smart, witty and important read for teenage girls and boys everywhere.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Release Day Blitz: Making Arrangements by Ferris Robinson

Really happy to be taking part in a celebration of the release of Making Arrangements by Ferris Robinson, which looks great!

Against all odds, cancer survivor Lang Ellis is celebrating the one-year anniversary of her “death sentence” when her beloved husband drops dead on the tennis court.
Devoted to him, she reels from the loss, focusing on her precious granddaughter but struggling with her bossy only child, Teddy, and his aloof girlfriend, Sarah.
With her historical family estate in jeopardy, Lang realizes her husband wasn’t as perfect as she thought.
The secret he carried to his grave can ruin her life.
If she lets it.

Information about the Book
Title: Making Arrangements
Author: Ferris Robinson
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 319
Release Date: 15th August 2016
Publisher: Self-Published
Author Information

Ferris Robinson lives in a beautiful part of East Tennessee with her husband and two dogs. The mother of three grown sons, she delights in the fact that her dogs obey her – more or less.

A former columnist for the Chattanooga Free Press, she is the editor of the Lookout Mountain Mirror and the Signal Mountain Mirror. Her work has been published numerous times in The Christian Science Monitor and theChicken Soup for the Soul’ series. She is a columnist at
The author of several cookbooks, including “Never Trust a Hungry Cook,” which she wrote in college and the “Gorgeless Gourmet’s Cookbook,” Ferris was featured on the cover of Women’s World magazine. Promoting her super-easy but healthy recipes, she made numerous television appearances and sold 10,000 copies of the Gorgeless Gourmet’s Cookbook, pre-Internet. Paid subscribers from every state in the U.S. received her newsletter featuring “practically fat-free recipes for super-busy people.”
Her book “Dogs and Love – Sixteen Stories of Fidelity” has 94 reviews on Amazon, and her other books include “Authentic Log Homes.” “Making Arrangements” is her first novel.


What do you wear the day after your husband dies? Lang wondered, damp from the shower. She put on her old sweatpants and Jack’s practically disintegrated Auburn sweatshirt because they were so soft. She wanted to feel something easy on her skin. She pressed the frayed ribbed collar to her nose and breathed in the sharp smell of aftershave and bacon grease. Jack’s smell.
Teddy sat hunched over the kitchen counter with Sarah and Katie D. on either side of him. Sarah leaned into him, her cloud of pale hair floating out over the back of Teddy’s brown sweater, hovering with static electricity. Lang watched the three of them for a moment from the doorway. She could hear murmurs of their sentences: Katie D.’s singsong voice, Teddy’s hoarse rumble, apologizing for something, and Sarah speaking so tenderly her voice didn’t sound human.
Lang closed her eyes, holding on to the doorjamb for balance, and felt Sarah’s words like they were something physical, covering her softly. Gently.
“Mom!” Teddy said, scraping the chair away from the counter. She jerked to attention.
He looked like he hadn’t slept in days; the collar of his button-down shirt was uncharacteristically wrinkled, and his azure eyes were flat.
“Oh! I didn’t hear you!” A. J. said, appearing suddenly from the hall bathroom. She looked Lang up and down, grimacing. “You still got that rubber band around your wrist.” Lang pulled the frayed cuff down to her knuckles, holding the soft fabric in her fists.
A. J. looked like a different person except for her crumpled tennis clothes. Her hair was styled and her eyes were bright and her skin was dewy. She looked like she’d found a day spa in the hall bathroom. Lang sniffed the air, detecting vanilla and deodorant.
“I smell something,” Katie D. said.
“Halston,” A. J. said, flapping her hands in circles about her neck in an effort to spread the heavy perfume around the room. Katie D. crinkled up her nose.
Lang ran her fingers under her own eyes, trying to remember the last time she’d looked in a mirror. She should have put on some makeup after her shower. Concealer under her eyes at least. She reached her hands out toward her son, then curled them into useless fists as she shook her head slowly.
Teddy wrapped his arms around her, and she felt her boy sink into her, collapsing for a second. His breath caught, and his chest shuddered against her shoulder.
“Shhh,” she said. “Don’t cry.” She felt him stiffen before he stepped away.
“How you holding up?” Teddy asked brusquely. “Who would have thought, huh? Sorry, bad joke. Dad would have laughed, though.”
Lang squeezed the edges of her mouth up into a semblance of a smile. No one would have ever thought Jack would be dead instead of her. Hilarious.


For the release day blitz, Ferris is giving away one e-book copy of the book to one lucky winner!

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Saturday, 13 August 2016

#6Degrees: Unboxed to... (Guest Post by Kayleigh from K-Books)

Really delighted to welcome fabulous Kayleigh from the awesome K-Books blog to take part in #6Degrees this week! Check her brilliant blog out and follow her on Twitter.

Unboxed is the new novel by Non Pratt, one of my all time favourite authors. She is one of the authors that I don't need to know anything about the book, I will just buy it. Another author who is one of my favourite's and on my auto-buy list is Jennifer L Armentrout. Unboxed has a great theme of friendship throughout the book, which is also a major theme in The Problem with Forever.

I was very lucky to meet Jennifer L Armentrout, author of The Problem with Forever, when she was in the UK in July 2016 at the Romance Author and Reader Event (RARE) in Edinburgh. Another author that I was lucky to meet at that event was Wendy Higgins so I'm going to jump to one of her books, See Me, which is a cute fantasy book including leprachauns and fae.

Linking with the theme of fae characters makes me jump to The Faerie Guardian by Rachel Morgan, which is one of my favourite series incuding the fae. The Faerie Guardian has a major kick-ass heroine. Linking to another series with a kick-ass heroine is Sarah J Maas' A Court of Thorns and Roses series and my favourite of that series so far is A Court of Mist and Fury.

ACOMAF is one of my favourite fantasy series and going with fantasy series is my link to Harry Potter. Harry Potter is my favourite fantasy series of all time, that I re-read over and over.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

#6Degrees: Unboxed to...

As ever, a huge thank you to Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman for letting me use their idea for the 6Degrees meme. If you want to join in, just start with The Unboxed and make your own chain of six books, linking in any way you like. (And remember to add the link as a comment!)

Unboxed - one of the most moving books I've read so far this year - was written by Non Pratt and there are many ways I could link it from there - either to one of her first two books, Trouble or Remix, which like Unboxed are superb, or to one of the authors whose YALC panels I missed as I was too utterly engrossed in Unboxed to put it down (but that one may be tactless, so I won't!) I'll also avoid the temptation to link to Leigh Bardugo because Non cosplayed brilliantly as Six Of Crows's incredible Kaz Brekker. (Seriously though this was AMAZING!) Instead I'll jump to I'll Be Home For Christmas, the upcoming anthology from Stripes which sees lots of UKYA authors - Non among them - telling stories about Christmas. I'm reading this at the moment (via NetGalley) and it's a really special book with lots of fantastic stories, and is raising both money for and awareness of Crisis, a fabulous charity.

One of the other authors in the anthology is Holly Bourne, whose Spinster Club trilogy, particularly the just released What's A Girl Gotta Do?, are some of my absolute favourite contemporary books. Funny, feminist, and justifiably furious, they are a call to arms as well as being a fantastic series.

What's A Girl Gotta Do? caused something of a Twitter storm last week with the #IAmAFeminist hashtag. Juno Dawson, author of lots of fabulous books (of which my favourite is Mind Your Head, her recent non-fiction book about mental health) wrote a superb piece for Glamour Magazine on being caught up in the storm.

Juno was at YALC where she was extremely busy - she took part in Ask YALC on Sunday, with Holly, Rosalind Jana, and Gemma Cairney, in addition to talking to You Know Me Well authors David Levithan and Nina LaCour on Saturday in one of my favourite panels of the weekend. You Know Me Well is a really wonderful books and it was fascinating hearing them talk about it.

And finally, You Know Me Well is centred around San Francisco Pride. Linking via Pride, it was amazing to hear from several booksellers I know that Lucy Sutcliffe's outstanding memoir Girl Hearts Girl, released here just before London Pride, has been flying off shelves! It's a gorgeous read which looks at coming out, finding love, and dealing with anxiety, and is a really inspirational book.

Friday, 29 July 2016

5-4-3-2-1: Louise Gornall

Special 5-4-3-2-1 today, over at this site rather than the usual home of Teens on Moon Lane (slight scheduling conflict and I REALLY wanted to get this one in this weekend, as it's with Louise Gornall and I'm incredibly excited to meet her on Sunday at YALC, where she'll be at the Chicken House stall from 1:30pm!) Louise's debut, Under Rose-Tainted Skies, is one of the best debuts of 2016 for me so far - although it's a difficult read as she captures main character Norah's mental health issues so, so well. Despite finding it tough going at times, I'm incredibly glad I read it - books about mental health are hugely important and, along with The Rest Of Us Just Live Here, Am I Normal Yet?, and Radio Silence, this is one of the best of recent years.

Over to Louise!   

Books you can read over and over again

There are some books you can't just read once, right? You know the kind. They don't even have to be your ultimate favourites, they just have to be brilliant. If you’re a reader it’s probably the book you turn to when you're suffering from Can’t Find A Good Book Syndrome. If you’re a writer it’s most probably the book you pick up when writer’s block kicks in. Here are five books that I have read, an embarrassingly large amount of times.

1.)    The Twilight Saga.
2.)    The Sky is Everywhere.
3.)    The Scorpio Races.
4.)    We Were Liars.
5.)    This Is Not A Test.

Brilliant books of 2016 (so far).

This list is already a decade long and we’re only in July. In particular, it’s been a great year for fantasy and contemporary novels -- and I have gone broke several times trying to keep up with all the greatness. I’ve been loving the intense topics that are being explored across the board in YA. p.s this list is anything but conclusive.

1.)    Radio Silence.
2.)    This Raging Light.
3.)    Firsts.
4.)    One.

Literary heroes

I was trying to come up with lists in which I could drop some of my favourite books from over time, but then when you start looking at your literary heroes and trying to pick titles, you discover that most of their back catalogue is too epic not include. And then you’ve already exceeded a five count before you’ve even reached your second author. So, instead, I thought I would drop the names of some literary greats, and you could go check out all their titles. It’s like cheating Jim’s system, but don't tell him that ;)

1.)    Malorie Blackman.
2.)    Jane Austen.
3.)    William Shakespeare.

Diverse must reads.

I couldn't not make a list that included diverse titles. I think YA is making great strides in becoming all inclusive. For me, personally, it makes my heart so happy to see mental health being explored in YA. I know I don't need to tell you guys how important it is for everyone to see themselves represented in great literature. So, this was a hard choice to make, but here are two amazing titles that stuck with me long after I turned the last page.

1.)    I’ll Give You The Sun.
2.)    Mockingbird.

A genre you’d like to explore more.

I’m primarily a contemporary writer, though I have dabbled in urban fantasy and horror before. I never seem to fall short of story ideas for a contemporary audience, and they always seem pretty cool... until I talk to my friend Claire. Claire is a fantasy writer, and the story ideas she has are, quite literally, out of this fricking world! I am so jealous of her world-building brain. When she asks me to brainstorm an idea with her, I actually start salivating. So, if there is one genre I’d LOVE to explore more…

1.)    Fantasy.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Girl Hearts Girl Blog Tour: Interview with Lucy Sutcliffe

I really loved Lucy Sutcliffe's memoir Girl Hearts Girl - a brilliant book about growing up,sexuality, and mental health issues which was a really lovely read. I was thrilled when Faye Rogers was able to arrange an interview for me!

1. When did you first start to think that your story would make a good book?

I think as our success on YouTube grew, I started thinking about how many people we’d managed to reach with just one click – and how many more I could reach if I found a different platform to tell my story. I’ve always loved to write, so I guess writing a book was a natural conclusion to that train of thought.

2. While the main focus of the book is on your acceptance of your sexuality, coming out, and your relationship with Kaelyn, I really appreciated how honest you were about your anxiety. How important do you think it is for teens to see that role models can suffer from mental health problems?

So, so important. Mental health has such a stigma surrounding it, and that makes it so much harder to deal with. I hate that mental health is still associated with shame. That’s why I was so honest about my experiences – I want people to know it’s okay to talk about it. I really hope we can one day get to a place where talking about our mental health is seen as normal and easy.

3. If you could give your 12-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Focus on the present. Panicking about the future and worrying about the past is such a waste of time.

4. You talk about how strange it was to see so many people following your videos - has that feeling gone away yet, or are you still surprised by the level of interest?

I don’t think the feeling is ever going to go away! It’s mind-blowing that people still watch them after all this time. All I can hope for is that people are always able to watch our videos and leave feeling better about themselves. 

5. What is your favourite thing about Kaelyn?

Her intelligence.

6. Do you have any plans for another book?

That’s a secret. 

7. If you had to describe your book in a tweet, what would you say?

An uplifting novel about the importance of love, respect and pride. Hashtag GAY.

8. Are you hoping to help inspire a younger generation?

Yes! In any way I can. Inspiration can change the world.

An inspiring, uplifting and sympathetic story about sexuality and self-acceptance, Lucy Sutcliffe's debut memoir is a personal and moving coming out story. In 2010, at seventeen, Lucy Sutcliffe began an online friendship with Kaelyn, from Michigan. They began a long distance relationship, finally meeting in 2011. Lucy's video montage of their first week spent together was the first in a series of vlogs documenting their long-distance relationship. Now, for the first time, Lucy's writing about the incredible personal journey she's been on.

Information about the Book
Title: Girl Hearts Girl
Author: Lucy Sutcliffe
Release Date: 24th June 2016
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Scholastic
Format: Paperback

Author Information

Co-star of the popular YouTube channel Kaelyn and Lucy which documented the long distance relationship she had with Kaelyn Petras. She and Kaelyn finally came together in August of 2014, ending the long distance element of their relationship.

She graduated from Plymouth College of Art and Design in 2014 with a degree in Film Arts

She works as a freelance film editor and author. She and Kaelyn's channel mainly focuses on advice videos for LGBT youth.

She was born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire to parents Sharon and Roger Sutcliffe.

There is a tour-wide giveaway! 3 copies of Girl Hearts Girl for 3 lucky winners!
Participants must live in UK or IRL.

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Tour Schedule

     Monday 18th July

Tuesday 19th July

Wednesday 20th July

Thursday 21st July

Friday 22nd July

Saturday 23rd July

Sunday 24th July

Monday 25th July

Tuesday 26th July

Wednesday 27th July

Thursday 28th July

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Stories from the Edge Blog Tour: A Parent’s Terror, By Bryony Pearce, Member of the Edge

Really delighted to have Bryony Pearce on the blog today talking about her story from the anthology Stories from the Edge, which features some of my favourite YA authors!

I was sitting in the school hall with my head between my legs, hyperventilating. A small group of teachers surrounded me, a tech savvy parent was hopping from foot to foot in front of me and a police officer was hovering, looking concerned. 

“Are you all right?” he asked, worriedly. 

“Not really.” I was trying to look less like a drama queen / wuss, but honestly, I kept having flashes of the talk that had just been given to a cadre of concerned parents. 

The police officer, realising that my state of distress was in large part his fault, edged awkwardly out of the hall, with a swift backward glance. “If you want to talk about it some more, you can get in touch via the school.” Then he fled. 

I pulled myself together and staggered from the hall, my head filled with horrible visions and determined to remove my children permanently from all access to the Internet. 

As I was busy deleting Google from my daughter’s iPad I stopped and thought. Perhaps I should speak to her first.

But this talk had scared the life out of me. 

When we were kids the worst we had to worry about was the old pervert in the house on the corner who stood watching the school bus go past stark naked and with his curtains open. I once saw a flasher behind a bush and one of my parent’s friends would make unsuitable comments in a creepy manner whenever he’d had a few drinks. ‘Let’s share stories of when we lost our virginity - you first.’ Um no.

These were all things easily dealt with. Easily spotted for what they were. 

But now I find out that my daughter is exposed to world far wider than mine, far more dangerous. She doesn’t just have to worry about closing her eyes every time her bus drives past ‘creepy corner’. Somewhere, perhaps on the other side of the country, or even the world, someone, right now, could be planning to try and groom her on the internet, seduce her into taking pictures, doing things she isn’t ready for, or even meeting up. Someone could be looking at a photo that I’ve put up, or that someone else has put up, and thinking ‘that child looks vulnerable.’  

I thought I was fairly technically minded. I’ve got a blog and a website – I made my website myself, using html and java script, for heaven’s sake - I use Twitter. Occasionally I use Instagram, if I remember to take pictures and put them up. I thought I was on top of things. 

But the policeman told us about chat rooms and picture sharing apps that I’d never even heard of.  Apparently teens don’t like Facebook, their parents keep trying to friend them. It puts them off. They go elsewhere.

The policeman told us about something going on right under our noses, something that happened in the local high schools. 

One night, on one of these new sites I hadn’t heard of, a group of local teens were chatting online when another asked to join them. He said the right things. Each thought he was a friend of one of the others. Once he was in their group, he was able to start branching out and joining others. Soon he was in several of the groups, groups with teens in that went to different schools from one another.

A parent of one of these local teens noticed that her daughter had become quiet and withdrawn, secretive, not letting anyone else see her phone screen when she used it. Eventually, when pressed, the daughter broke down, telling her mother that she was being harassed by this teenager online. That things had got out of hand and she didn’t know what to do. The mother looked at the messages her daughter had been receiving and was horrified at the content. She called the police. 

The ‘teen’ who had been allowed into the chat rooms, who had access to teenagers across a number of local schools, via social networking, was no teen at all. He was a middle aged man from a few miles away who was busy grooming three of the girls. Only one sharp-eyed mother stopped him.

This wasn’t a script for a film. This wasn’t happening in America (where all things are possible). This was local. To me. Happening at the high school my daughter would soon be attending. 

How can I protect her from things like this?

As I so often do with things that terrify me, I started to write a story to exorcise my demons. 

I wanted to write a story about Internet Safety with a heroine who, as all my heroines do, kick ass. But as it was a short story it would have to have a twist and I wanted to make sure that my story also conveyed to readers the information that the policeman had given us: make sure your children know not to give out any personal details, don’t post photos, don’t post images with your school uniform on, or local landmarks, nothing that will give away your position in the world. Don’t ‘friend’ people you don’t know in real life. Don’t believe what you see or hear on the Internet. If you think the big bad wolf had an easy time disguising himself as granny, think how easy it is to put up a picture of some random teenager and claim that you’re 16. I could tell you I’m a blonde, blue eyed figure skater, stick up a picture and you’d be none the wiser. Maybe I am, you don’t know.

I hope my story is entertaining, fun and that the twist gets you. I hope though, that it also makes you think. Do I do this? Am I being careful enough? Am I ‘friends’ with someone who has big sharp teeth?