Tuesday 5 February 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Best Bookish Memories

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

These are in roughly chronological order (allowing for me having a truly awful memory!)

1. Meeting Terry Pratchett - When I was at uni, I was a massive Discworld fan. Terry Pratchett doing a book signing at WH Smith was a massive event and it was brilliant to meet him and get some books signed!

2. Being accepted as a reviewer for The Bookbag - A few years ago, prior to the blog, I stumbled across the Bookbag and noticed they had vacancies for reviewers. I thought carefully for a few weeks about what to review as a sample, decided on the Great Gatsby, had about six attempts which went horribly wrong, borrowed Paul Torday's The Girl on the Landing from the library, raced through it and wrote a review with minimal editing. Sue and Jill, who run the site, liked it, and accepted me as a reviewer. My first couple weren't great, but thankfully they gave me some brilliant advice on how to actually write a readable review, and I've now done nearly 350 reviews for the site, as well as interviewing over 40 authors.

3. Reading The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson and setting up YA Yeah Yeah as a result - I started writing for the Bookbag in 2009, and at first was mainly reviewing adult books - I wasn't reading much teen stuff at that point. I gradually gravitated more and more towards YA books, really enjoying Lauren Kate's Fallen, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's wonderful Beautiful Creatures, and various others. The first which I absolutely fell in love with, though - and still possibly the best YA book I've ever read, neck and neck with Code Name Verity - was The Sky Is Everywhere. Just before Christmas I bought it from WH Smith at the station at Birmingham New Street simply because it looked so gorgeous. I nearly read it on the train home - I would have finished it but I had to pause to avoid bursting into tears in public. I'd been considering writing reviews of books I bought and borrowed from the library for a while (and in fact Nobody's Girl by Sarra Manning was actually the first I put on the blog, with The Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo second), but this was the one which really cemented my desire and gave me the kick I needed to start YA Yeah Yeah.

4. Interviewing Savita Kalhan - I think I may be up to 50 interviews - or certainly very close. Every author I've talked to has been so fantastic that it's hard to choose favourites, but a couple stick in my mind. This one does, because it was my very first ever interview and Savita, author of the fantastic Long Weekend, was so lovely to work with.

5. Receiving a review copy of Firebrand by Gillian Philip - By the time I'd started my blog, I'd already written a bunch of reviews for the Bookbag. However Gillian was the first author to arrange for me to get a review copy of one of her books, and it was a great feeling. (Also a fabulous book!)

6. Reading Night of the Purple Moon by Scott Cramer - I barely ever accept review copies from self-published authors, but Scott Cramer's polite e-mail and summary of his debut novel made me interested enough to tell him I'd take an e-book and try to get round to it in the following few months. A couple of days after that, I had a dentist's appointment and started reading it on the Kindle app for my iPod while waiting. I raced through it so quickly that I lost all track of where I was (impressive, as I hate going to the dentist!)

7. Emma Hearts LA launch - This was the first YA event I attended, and it was fantastic to meet Keris Stainton, Tanya Byrne and Tom Clempson, in addition to a host of brilliant bloggers.

8. UKYA last summer - Slightly less nervous than I was for the Emma Hearts LA launch, I was thrilled to see Keris again, meet more brilliant bloggers, and get to talk to a whole host of wonderful authors who I'm not going to attempt to list because I'll clearly leave some out and feel awful. A few highlights though - meeting Susie Day and Keren David, who run UKYA with Keris, and getting some fabulous advice on the just-launched YA Contemporary from Keren. Asking for recommendations for a fun, quirky book for younger readers and Keren recommending Dougal Trump - then introducing me to Dougal's 'co-author' Jackie Marchant. And getting Bluebell Jones rock from Susie!

9. Interviewing Karen McCombie - As I've said, all of my interviews have been great, but as Karen McCombie's Ally's World was one of the series which got me back into reading children's fiction after years of barely touching it, being able to interview her was a massive thrill for me!

10. EC Myers guest post - By the time Eugene contacted me to offer to write a guest post for YA Contemporary, I'd run a bunch already - however, his was really special as he was the first author who I didn't know (either in person or via reviewing their books) to volunteer to write for me, and I was so pleased that someone liked YA Contemporary enough to give up their time to write a post for someone they'd had no dealings with before. (It was a brilliant post, as well, with lots of recommendations for books I really should read!)


  1. I love coming here and seeing all the Jandy Nelson love. I completely, 100%, body and soul fell in love with The Sky is Everywhere. It was beautiful and mesmerizing and traumatizing and GAH. So happy to have found another fan!