Sunday, 7 February 2016

Recent Links Recap: 31st January - 6th February

Recent links feature continues, with some brilliant posts around the internet!

I loved Debbie's January in review, and Caitlin's, and this bookish one from Maximum Pop!

Caitlin's blog is still a must-read, by the way - this post on not feeling guilty for not reading (or for anything else you're not doing) is especially great.


Superb post here by Samantha Asamadu about Bare Lit Festival, happening in a few weeks time! Sadly I'm away for that weekend so won't be able to make it, but if you're around I'd strongly suggest going - it looks brilliant!

Brilliant interview with mother/daughter writing duo Perdita and Honor Cargill on the Waterstones blog!

Monday marked the start of Faye's Finish It Feb, which I should probably have signed up for if I could remember WHICH books I'm halfway through at the moment...

There's been a fair bit about Trinity College's consent classes - I thought this piece written by Carl Kinsella, talking to Hannah Beresford, one of the students putting the classes together, was excellent.

One of my favourite things to read was a fascinating Racked post on Kendra Scott, 'The Jewelry Queen of Texas'.

Fabulous Gillian Berry post telling people to stop what they're doing and watch Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - I couldn't agree more!

I'm still newish to Instagram but really enjoying it - and I'm loving Dahlia Adler's #AuthorLifeMonth!

Brilliant post by Sarah on reading A Month In The Country for the Classics Challenge! (Remember to sign up on Pretty Books if you want to do the Classics Challenge yourself, by the way!)

MG Strikes Back launched #CoverKidsBooks! Great responses from various people, with Charlotte Eyre's awesome article here and the campaign immediately bearing fruit as the TES announced new plans to have kids and teachers reviewing books.
 

Yet another brilliant Mugglenet author takeover, this one by Alwyn Hamilton, author of the just-published - and completely wonderful - Rebel of the Sands!

The HUGE book news for me is that Fox (previously known as Sarah) Benwell has just announced that Kaleidoscope Song will be published in the US by Simon Teen! And also amazing TV news as VE Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic is being adapted for screen, with the author writing the pilot episode herself.

Lauren Laverne with a great piece for the Pool, probably my favourite non-bookish website at the moment, on how some amazing women thrive on Twitter.  

Also a really fantastic piece on the difference between anxiety and panic attacks by Louise Jones.

I love Rosalind Jana's writing and can't wait for her book later this year! Brilliant post here on tearing up the fashion rulebook.

And a must-read post from John Underwood on cancer for the BBC.

Louise O'Neill, superb as always, about the revenge porn at UCD. (DON'T READ THE COMMENTS, though.)

Lots of awesome novels on the Branford Boase longlist! I would LOVE to see The Art Of Being Normal get the win, but there are a lot of others I love here as well. Special congratulations to Annalie (AJ) Grainger for being one of the very few people (but not the only one, as Nick Lake pointed out!) to make the longlist in the same year as author AND editor, for writing Captive and for editing Lauren James's The Next Together.

Great to see Perdita and Honor Cargill's Maximum Pop Twitter takeover went so well - highlights here in a brilliant piece by Grace.

And a fabulous post from Grace on her own blog on meeting and greeting the greats.

One of my favourite sci-fi novels for a long time was Emily Skrutskie's debut The Abyss Surrounds Us, out next week! I love this interview with her on Lloyd Reads.

An awesome opportunity for 7 - 13 year olds to write with the fabulous Abi Elphinstone at half-term here! An another really cool opportunity for readers aged 10 - 14 to join the Best of the Best Children’s Book Award judging panel here!

And also on Caboodle, brilliant giveaway for signed copies of Katherine Woodfine's brilliant The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow, and sequel The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth, which I can't wait to read, along with a Fortnum & Mason hamper!

Fans of colour, please don't miss the chance to get a free NineWorlds membership via Con or Bust. 


The first BatNon and Robin event, last year, was awesome. I'm sure the second, focusing on events, on Monday 14th March will also be awesome - don't miss the chance to sign up!

And another excellent opportunity for authors that week, with Scott Pack doing a Guardian masterclass on how to pitch your novel to publishers


Lots of authors I really love are using Ko-fi, which allows people to buy them a coffee to show their appreciation for them. This is a really cool way to help people out - especially those I admire and whose blog posts and tweets I'm hugely grateful for, but who don't have books published yet so I can't buy them. (Or whose books I already own all of!) Here's a handful of people to consider supporting - and who you should definitely be following on Twitter! Katherine Locke (and her cats!), (@Bibliogato), Nita Tyndall (@NitaTyndall),  Justina Ireland (@JustinaIreland), Tristina Wright (@TristinaWright), Hannah Moskowitz (@hannahmosk), Camryn Garrett (@dancingofpens), Kayla Whaley (@punkinonwheels) and Sarah Hollowell (@sarahhollowell).

Speaking of Justina, by the way, I've learnt a LOT about diversity from following her. This recent post on 'Diversity 101: An Introduction to the Diversity Discussion' is superb.

It was National Libraries Day yesterday and there've been some outstanding pieces about it - this Guardian post from an anonymous librarian is excellent as is Cathy Cassidy's.

On my blogs - my bargain hunter's guide to London theatre tickets and my January stage, screen and bookish events recap.

On MG Strikes Back, our biggest ever happy book birthday feature!

And on Teens on Moon Lane, Perdita and Honor Cargill with our first ever joint 5-4-3-2-1, an awesome one from Sara Barnard and the launch of #6degrees! A huge thanks to everyone who's taken part in the meme so far - check out posts from Viv, Darren, Katrina, Sophie, Chelley and Mikayla. It's running all month, so plenty of time for you to join in on your blog/Tumblr/Instagram or in our comments section!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

January Recap

Having seen some awesome January recaps - I particularly liked Debbie's and Caitlin's - I thought I'd do my own, to share some of the brilliant things I did last month!

Screen

I got a Cineworld Unlimited card at the start of the month - finally tempted away from the Curzon! While I loved being a member of the Curzon for the last 2 years and have seen so many amazing films there, the chance to see films with friends more often (Debbie, Stacey and Faye also have Cineworld unlimited) persuaded me to make the switch and I definitely haven't regretted it; there have been some great films already with some fabulous friends.

Highlights - despite having never seen any of the Rocky films, I went to see Creed and really enjoyed it. It's a brilliant underdog story, and while Stallone is excellent, I'm stunned that Michael B Jordan's incredible central performance wasn't recognised with an Oscar nomination. I also thought Tessa Thompson was superb and loved the chemistry between her and Jordan.

As a big fan of Michael Lewis, who does a great job of making books about the financial world engaging and accessible, I was keen to see The Big Short (even though I haven't read this particular book). I thought that Adam McKay and Charles Randolph's script, and McKay's direction, did a brilliant job of making the subject of the 2007-8 financial crash easy to follow. Lots of outstanding performances here, with Steve Carell perhaps the pick of them. It manages to be funny while also (justifiably) incredibly angry about the way ordinary people have been completely screwed over.

I read The 5th Wave when it was first released, reviewing for The Bookbag but never got around to the sequels despite enjoying it. I was intrigued to see the adaptation and jumped at the chance to go with Stacey. This was really enjoyable; Chloe Grace Moretz is excellent as Cassie and I thought the screenwriters did a great job of converting it to film. In particular, the most important revelations were brilliantly done. The pacing could be improved slightly, admittedly, although that was an issue I had with the book as well. The theme of survival in the immediate aftermath of an alien invasion sets it apart from dystopian releases like The Hunger Games and Divergent and I'd be interested to see the sequel.

Film of the month for me though was Room, which I saw with Debbie and Stacey. I've never read the book and had managed to avoid spoilers, which I think really added to my enjoyment of this one so will try and avoid saying anything specific about it - however there's an exceptional central performance from the wonderful Brie Larson, it contains perhaps the tensest scene I can remember seeing in the cinema for ages, and I thought this was outstanding overall. Of the Best Picture nominees I've seen (5 out of 8 so far), this would have my vote.

I was less impressed by Youth (but it has a great soundtrack), Joy (superb Jennifer Lawrence performance but terribly paced) and The Danish Girl (well-acted but problematic in many ways.)


Stage


(Side note: I wrote a few days ago about sites, and an app, that I use to get cheap tickets, which is the main reason I was able to see six things this month!)

Oh wow, what an AMAZING month for stage shows! I saw two of my favourite actors live, with Adrian Lester outstanding in Red Velvet, which I got a cheap ticket to last minute, and Ralph Fiennes wonderful in the title role of The Master Builder, which I saw with my sister, her boyfriend, Faye, Debbie, Caitlin and our new friend Lili, who's just moved to London for a few months. I wasn't sure about seeing an Ibsen play because I didn't know how easy it would be to follow, but I'm so glad I grabbed tickets after Caitlin suggested it. It was much easier to follow than I'd feared, surprisingly funny early on, and built to a stunning (if admittedly predictable) climax.

I also saw two really fun dance shows - the first #DanceYA of the year saw me, Charlie, Annalie, Sarah and Rachael head to Sadler's Wells for Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty. As ever with Bourne, this was a spectacular show and I loved the set and costumes as well as the choreography and dancing. The second #DanceYA was just last weekend, with me and Debbie going to see Sadler's Wells Sampled, where we saw performances from some of the upcoming shows at Sadler's Wells and the Peacock. Everything here was enjoyable and I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of them in full, but while I was expecting the highlight to be 7 Fingers, who I adore, the combination of Julia Hiriart Urruty and Claudio González in pieces choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui were the best of the night. I don't think I've seen tango performed live before but am now incredibly excited for their show m¡longa next month!

Shows of the month - I've been trying to select for ages but just can't choose between two completely outstanding productions. I saw In The Heights for the second time in about six weeks, heading to Kings Cross Theatre with Grace. Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical is a gorgeous story with some great songs, while the dancing blew me away. I've already booked to see again in a few weeks time and am hoping to maybe catch it once more before it closes as well! I also saw Guys and Dolls, an old favourite of mine, getting 2nd row stalls seats with Debbie thanks to Last Minute. Jamie Parker - soon to become Harry Potter in The Cursed Child - was brilliant as Sky Masterson, heading a great cast overall. (Siubhan Harrison as Sarah, Sophie Thompson as Adelaide and David Haig as Nathan Detroit round off the central quartet.) Sit Down You're Rocking The Boat was amazing, with an incredible response from the audience - thunderous applause at the gaps in the song as well as at the end - and the choreography from Carlos Acosta and Andrew Wright for all of the songs was utterly spellbinding. I think it's also got my favourite book of any musical - Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows did such an outstanding job when they adapted Damon Runyon's stories to form this show! Parker's performance somehow has me even more excited for The Cursed Child, which I didn't think was even possible, also.


Other cool stuff

It was great to catch up with friends at various points after being away for Christmas - it was especially lovely to go out for a meal with most of my book club to celebrate Debbie's birthday, while our actual book club meeting this month was improved hugely by us playing Pictionary instead of Telestrations! I also went to the British Library's Alice in Wonderland exhibition with Caitlin - I'm so bad at keeping track of exhibitions and things that I knew nothing about this until Caitlin asked if anyone was interested! It was a really cool one to go to, though; it was fascinating to see the different editions throughout the years and so many varied adaptations. (It also made me realise that I think I've only ever seen or read adaptations rather than the original, which is definitely going on my TBR list for Stacey's 2016 Classics Challenge!)

For bookish events, I saw Juno Dawson and Dr Olivia Hewitt talk about Mind Your Head - the very first event ever at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road! With the wonderful Jo Elvin chairing, it was an interesting talk and it was great to see so many people turn out to celebrate this really excellent book. The other Waterstones event I went to was Anna James chairing a dream panel of Holly Smale, Holly Bourne, and CJ Daugherty at Waterstones Piccadilly. This was, as you'd expect, awesome, and while I'd love to try and give you the highlights it would probably double the length of this post! Thankfully, over at Maximum Pop, Sophie has it covered! (Huge congrats again, by the way, to Sophie and Grace, who both joined Maximum Pop in January - such brilliant news!)

I also took part in a panel myself! Jon Walter was kind enough to invite me to join in a discussion in Lewes, which he chaired. Along with brilliant authors Jenny McLachlan and Rob Lloyd-Jones, and four teen readers, we discussed social media - whether it's essential to YA/MG authors, what sites are best to use, and a host of other things. It was a very interesting discussion and it was awesome to hear which sites people used. (Big surprises for me were that Tumblr was barely mentioned, Twitter seemed much more popular amongst the teens and their peers than I thought it would be, and several teens were huge fans of Wattpad.)

I also joined my regular quiz team of Tim, Tara and Jen, to win the quiz at the Grapes Limehouse once more, beating Sir Ian McKellen again!



In addition, there will be a books recap over on Teens on Moon Lane later in the week - I read more than I have done for ages, so it's taking a while to write, even focusing on just the very best stuff. However I wanted to draw special attention to my book of the month, Laura Nowlin's This Song Is (Not) For You. I have wanted to see some really well-portrayed asexual representation in YA for a long, long time, and to find it in this book makes me incredibly happy!

So, a busy month! February seems somehow even more packed - I loved The Sleeping Prince launch a few days ago, and have several others coming up! Plus more theatre tickets, three films to see in the next day and a half, and other stuff.


Have you written a January recap post? Link me!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

London Theatre Tickets - A Bargain Hunter's Guide

I've been asked a bit how I see so many shows at the theatre, and I'm expecting several similar comments when I post my stage and screen recap in a few days' time, so thought I'd share some of the sites I use. My philosophy is to see ALL THE THINGS wherever possible, even if that means going for less than ideal seats - in fairness, I find most of the theatres in London have few really bad seats (and Theatremonkey is invaluable for avoiding them!)

LastMinute.com - I went with Debbie to see Guys and Dolls a few weeks ago, expecting to be stuck towards the back of the theatre as we'd paid just £15 each, and we somehow ended up with second row tickets in the stalls! This was AMAZING and if you're not bothered where you sit you can get some very nice surprises like this.

WestEndTheatre.com - Taking a chance on Showstopper: The Improvised Musical as I'd heard mixed things, me and Debbie found tickets for it for just £15 each here. This was well worth seeing, and we got great tickets in the centre of the stalls for that price.

LoveTheatre.com - Hit and miss at times in terms of bargains but occasionally have some great things! I saw Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games (again with Debbie!) for £10 each last year.

Sadler's Wells/The Peacock Theatre - The two Sadler's Wells theatres are the ones I go to the most often as I love dance! (I also organise frequent #DanceYA trips to both.) With tickets starting from just £15 at the back of the stalls (great view!) and £12 towards the back of the second circle in Sadler's Wells, and most shows having 20% off if you book two shows at the same time, there are huge bargains available. We've seen too many brilliant shows to list here, but stand-out are The 7 Fingers' Traces, Rasta Thomas's hip-hop Romeo and Juliet, and a couple of wonderful Matthew Bourne productions.

PWC Previews - The Old Vic does half of the tickets for each of the first five previews of most shows there for just £10! I've seen The Lorax, in the stalls with my friend Stacey, and The Master Builder (with Ralph Fiennes starring!) in the dress circle with Debbie, Caitlin, Faye, Lili and my sister and her boyfriend thanks to this. Tickets can go VERY fast - they go on sale on a Monday 5 weeks before the start of the production - but they're well worth trying to book if you get a chance!

Today Tix - I've only used this once, but was really happy to get a decent seat last week to see Adrian Lester in Red Velvet for just £20 instead of £55! I'd entered the lottery on the iPhone app, where you can win £15 front row tickets (you enter on the day, find out around 4 or 5 hours before the performance if you've won, and then have an hour to pay and claim your tickets) and lost out; however was offered a cheap ticket which worked perfectly for me.


Also, of course, going to the theatre in person can be rewarding with some great day seats available! I've  had front row tickets for Rock of Ages at the Garrick for £25, and a great stalls seat for Handbagged for £20, I think.

The TKTS booth in Leicester Square comes highly recommended by many, although it's ages since I've used it I seem to remember getting some good stuff.

Are you a theatre fan? Are there any sites or other places to get cheap tickets that you'd recommend? I'd love it if you left me a comment!

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Recent Links Recap 24th - 30th Jan


More links I think you'll enjoy reading! Not that many this week, simply because I've been so busy I haven't read that much myself, but hopefully the quality makes up for it.

Last week we had the second #CountdownML chat on Twitter, looking at releases from 28th Jan - 22nd Feb - check out our full preview here, highlights of books we've read/are looking forward to reading here, and the Storify of the chat here!

It's been a great week on Teens on Moon Lane - I'm really thrilled to have just announced that from next Saturday, we'll be running a YA/MG version of the wonderful #6degrees meme which Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman originated -thanks so much, Annabel and Emma, for letting us do this! Check out full details here.

I'm really hoping that lots of people will participate in the #6degrees meme - for other opportunities to join in with fun stuff, BookTube channel Bookish Brits are looking for love month contributors and Faye is running Finish it Feb again - sign-up here!

Also on ToML, our 5-4-3-2-1 feature continued with the author of The Island, Olivia Levez, taking part, and Clare Furniss wrote us a brilliant guest post about the inspirations for her new novel How Not To Disappear.

And on this blog, Robin Stevens wrote a fabulous post about the Trebizon series by Anne Digby - just reissued by Egmont with gorgeous Lucy Truman illustrations! And I really enjoyed writing a Top Ten Tuesday post pairing recent YA/MG releases with classic books (inspired by my participation in the 2016 Classics Challenge!)

Offline, it's been a superb week for doing great things! I'll talk about cinema and theatre in my planned stage and screen monthly recap - maybe up later this week, I hope - but other wonderful things included a brilliant time at book club last Sunday having spent a great afternoon on the Saturday checking out the Alice exhibition at the British Library, bookshopping, and eating cake with my friend Caitlin - she has an awesome post about the weekend, and the power of good weeks, here.

It was also fabulous to catch up with Debbie, Sophie and Grace - and to congratulate Sophie and Grace on their new roles with Maximum Pop Books! - for a meal prior to the Waterstones Piccadilly event with Anna James chairing a panel on Feminism in YA on Thursday. The panel - Holly Bourne, Holly Smale, and CJ Daugherty - was just as lively and interesting as you'd expect from that combination, and Sophie wrote a wonderful recap for Maximum Pop.

In between doing ALL OF THE THINGS, I've been trying to vote in the Great Big Childrens' Book Poll, but there are some TOUGH decisions to be made! Matilda or Hermione for best hero?! If you'd like to choose from a wide range of brilliant heroes, evil villains, and 21st century classics to be, vote here at National Book Tokens!

I've also been reading (a lot more than usual, this month!) Again, hoping to do a monthly recap soonish but one of my favourites is a book that's not published here, but which I picked up in Foyles after reading about it on the Bloomer List, Betsy Cornwell's stunning feminist steampunk Cinderella retelling Mechanica. I was delighted to finish it to be greeted with the news we have a sequel AND prequel coming, and to see fan art for it from Laya, one of the most talented fan artists I've ever seen!

It's been a big week for several of my favourite bloggers and sites - today is the sixth birthday of my favourite Tumblr, Pretty Books! Amazing job over the last 6 years, Stacey!

Oh No Not Another Blogger got to interview Emma Gannon, who I think is incredible - loved this interview!

And Mara, one of my favourite people on Bookstagram, got to give Buzzfeed some brilliant advice on creating the perfect reading nook!

Also even more great bookish news, as YA Shot announced details of their scheme for author visits to schools and libraries, and of the next YA Shot festival - I can't wait for this, having loved last year!

Of course, the HUGE news in the world of YA and MG books was that Frances Hardinge had won the overall Costa award - a magnificent achievement!

Finally, after lots of talk earlier this week about the importance of brilliant cover designers it's always great to see new ones from some of my favourites! Maggie Hall is one of the best around and her cover for Dahlia Adler's Out On Good Behaviour, which sounds incredible, is stunning as always.

Anything I've missed this week? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Friday, 29 January 2016

Classics: Robin Stevens on Trebizon by Anne Digby


As a huge fan of the Trebizon books I am THRILLED that Egmont are bringing them back to shelves of bookshops everywhere! The first three, complete with gorgeous new Lucy Truman illustrations, were rereleased yesterday  - so to celebrate I'm delighted to have fabulous MG mystery author Robin Stevens on the blog talking about them.

Trebizon: True Modern Classics

Many of the books I loved most as a child were given to me by my father. I have endless memories of him coming into my room with stacks of Enid Blytons and Arthur Ransomes that had been part of his childhood – and because of that, they became my childhood too. Those series are what stick in my mind when I’m asked to nominate my own children’s classics, because they were the books that my father thought were important enough to pass on to me.

I think that’s key to what a classic is: a book that you want to share, even years after you first read it. As I’ve grown up I’ve realised that there’s a particular joy in passing on a book. There were certain books that I couldn’t wait to give to my niece and nephew as soon as they were old enough for them, and that I already know I’ll give to any children my friends and I have. The characters in them feel like friends, and their plots are still rich and exciting no matter how many times I read them.

My father was in his fifties when he had me, and I was born in 1988, so I missed the Trebizon books when they were published for the first time. My boarding school books were Malory Towers, the Worst Witch and Harry Potter. Now that I’ve finally discovered them, though, I can see why so many of my friends are such devoted fans of the series. As far as I’m concerned, boarding school books should be as much fantasies as Narnia – even people who went to boarding schools crave Malory Towers, because there’s never been a real school like it – and that’s exactly what Trebizon delivers. They’re joyous slices of boarding school life that perfectly tread the line between fantasy and reality. And, much to my delight, they’re even mysteries – although a much gentler brand than my own. No dead teachers here, just disappearing students and mysteriously stolen motor vehicles, but the crimes are all solved by a warm and loving group of friends who fall in and out of favour with each other in a beautifully realistic way.

I’m delighted that from February this year, the Trebizon books will be back in print, and book lovers will have the chance to pass them on again. They’re both fresh and nostalgic, and they work on first reading as much as on repeated rereading. They’re everything a classic should be!


Robin Stevens is the award winning author of the Murder Most Unladylike series, which follows the adventures of schoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong.



Thanks for a fab post Robin!
 
If you enjoy reading classics, or if you want to read more, why not join the fantastic Classics Challenge hosted by my friend Stacey over at Pretty Books? It's a great way to find other classics lovers, discuss books, and get and give recommendations. Check out this post and don't miss the hashtag

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Modern YA/MG Books Paired With Classics for the 2016 Classics Challenge

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

Today is a freebie week, which I always like, and I've been thinking so much about the BRILLIANT 2016 Classics Challenge which my friend Stacey runs at Pretty Books - check out details here - that I thought I'd pair up some classics with more recent books that would work as good companions!

Gemma series by Noel Streatfeild and Pea's Book series by Susie Day - My favourite Streatfeild series, I think this is sadly out of print, but I love the relationship between siblings Ann, Lydia and Robin and their film-star cousin Gemma who comes to live with them. Similarly, the relationship between Pea and sisters Tinkerbell and Clover is wonderful in Susie's quartet which FEELS like a Streatfeild-era classic - while also completely modern.

Dracula by Bram Stoker and Department 19 series by Will Hill - I read Dracula for the 2015 Classics Challenge (one of the few I DID manage to read!) and found it a brilliant book. However, my favourite vampires are still the ones in Will Hill's incredible series - the last of which, Darkest Night, has just come out in paperback. Seeing the descendants of Dracula characters working in a shadowy organisation devoted to protecting the world from vampires, the five books are outstanding.

Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton and Trebizon series by Anne Digby - Stretching it a bit to claim Trebizon are recent but they ARE currently being rereleased, with gorgeous Lucy Truman illustrations, by Egmont. I think these are fascinating to read together because they show how much school stories changed in the course of a few decades - the romance which forms a fairly major part of later Trebizon books would have been completely unthinkable for Blyton.

Danny The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake and Demolition Dad by Phil Earle, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie - I've seen Earle's first foray into MG described as 'Danny The Champion of the World in lycra' and it's a perfect comparison! Danny is my favourite of Roald Dahl's books - I love the relationship between the title character and his poacher father - and Demolition Dad brings us a similarly warm and funny bond between Jake and his dad George, who wrestles as The Demolition Man. Also they're both great pairings of author and illustrator - Dahl and Blake, of course, constantly delighted readers when working together, while I adore the way Sara Ogilvie brings Phil Earle's characters to life in both Demolition Dad and the upcoming Superhero Street, which is also a fantastic read.

The Owl Service by Alan Garner and Bone Jack by Sara Crowe - Both of these are contemporary stories mixed with old legends, with Garner's characters reenacting the myth of Blodeuwedd and Crowe's lead Ash caught up in the tradition of a 'stag race' which takes an incredibly sinister turn. Each of the two authors writes wonderful prose and creates truly compelling characters, too.

The Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper and The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater - Like Susan Cooper's books, Maggie Stiefvater's quartet (the long-awaited final book comes out in less than 2 months!) are modern stories heavily inspired by Welsh myths - King Arthur in Cooper's case, and Owain Glyndwr/Owen Glendower in Stiefvater's. They also both have superb groups of main characters whose relationships are intriguing to read about.

Poirot series by Agatha Christie and Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens - I am a huge, huge fan of Poirot, and one of my favourite books is Cat Among The Pigeons, which sees the Belgian detective turn up quite late in the novel to solve a series of murders. For modern detective stories, I adore Robin Stevens's duo of Wells & Wong, and think Poirot would be impressed by the pair's resourcefulness and bravery.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and The Last Immortal by Alex Marlowe - I'm keen to read Shelley's classic Gothic novel, but also really enjoyed Marlowe's modern Gothic, first of a series, which sees Dr Frankenstein's son reanimated in the 21st century to reform the super-team his father had led - consisting of Jonathan Harker from Dracula and his daughter, both now vampires, a werewolf, a gargoyle and Dickens's Artful Dodger. Really brilliantly paced and with some outstanding action sequences, this is great.

Othello by William Shakespeare and Chasing The Stars by Malorie Blackman - I was sticking to books I've read, for the modern ones at least, but then Malorie Blackman's newest novel - a space-set love story based on Othello - got announced yesterday and how could I NOT include it? The former Children's Laureate is one of the most consistently brilliant authors out there today and this sounds phenomenal.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Jane, The Fox and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault, translated by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou - I've seen the play of Jane Eyre but not read yet; however it's one of the books I'm hoping to get to for the 2016 Classics Challenge! Britt and Arsenault's graphic novel is a favourite of recent years for me. Arsenault's muted depiction of heroine Hélène, which fills with brighter colour only as the bullied girl finds solace in Jane Eyre, her favourite book, is superb. Britt's story, which sees Hélène start to gain courage and confidence, is also excellent.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Recent Links Recap

Time-sensitive ones to start off with! Tomorrow, Monday 25th Jan, is the next #CountdownML chat! See what books we're talking about and read a preview of our personal favourites and most anticipated.

(Also on Teens on Moon Lane, Top Ten Recent Additions To My TBR and 5-4-3-2-1 with Jon Mayhew and Tamsin Cooke and on this blog, Ellen Brickley on I Capture The Castle)

And speaking of chats, there's an #ownvoices chat TODAY, Sunday 24th Jan, at 2pm EST (which I'm FAIRLY sure is 7pm GMT) - that should be wonderful! Also on #ownvoices, great giveaway being run by Corinne Duyvis - check out details here!

There was a really interesting #SundayYA chat last week about disability - one common theme was that people are looking to read more #ownvoices novels featuring disability and neurodiversity. There's a list on Dahlia Adler's site of some of the ones out there. A recent post of Dahlia's that I'm guessing I'll be recommending a LOT is her epic What We Aren’t Talking About When We Talk About Feminism in YA, including a ton of recommendations.

Obviously that post is likely to get expensive (because ALL of Dahlia's do!), this one also might - Caitlin's ode to her Dr Martens has me really wanting to buy myself a pair!

I'm a big fan of Marianne Levy's recently released first YA novel, Accidental Superstar, and also really enjoyed this Independent on Sunday post she wrote on school bus journeys.

I really enjoyed Stacey's post about graphic novels and her Storify of #ChatClassics! And another great Storify here, Nita Tyndall on the difference between romantic attraction and sexual orientation.

Fab to see Laura Lam, one of my favourite authors, interviewed on the brilliant Mugglenet.

The fantastic #NeverEvers blog tour is continuing to be amazing, love this post on So Many Books, So Little Time on best books written in collaboration!

Phil Earle was announced as Booktrust's writer in residence - what a brilliant pick!

Awesome to see the Publishers' Publicity Circle Annual Awards Shortlist - lots of fabulous publishers I know there!

I love this wonderful Emma Gannon post on mistakes companies make on social media.

I also thought this Sarah Maria Griffin post on how Bowie queered the handsome prince in Labyrinth was superb, as was this Meagan Rivera post on struggling with internalised misogyny and Paulette Perhach on savings accounts, 'The Story Of A Fuck-Off Fund'.

Also I ADORED Kat Kennedy on Cuddlebuggery's advice, Book Blog Like Nobody's Watching and Sali Hughes on how kindness is more important than Telling It Like It Is.

Another great advice post here, Maggie Stiefvater's Shy Introvert's Guide To Signings!

Yet another, Sarah McIntyre's tips to schools on how to prepare for school visits from authors!

And a really original blog tour post here, with Chelle writing a short story as part of the What Makes Us Human tour.

What have been your favourite posts of the last week? Share them in the comments!