Monday 9 November 2015

Weekly Recap: 3rd - 9th Nov

Okay, carrying on with the weekly recap idea I started last week after some nice feedback - thanks everyone! (Links are ones I've tweeted this week, which doesn't necessarily mean they haven't been around longer, by the way.)

I linked to a couple of other posts from the Gay YA's superb Asexual Awareness Week last week - it closed with Morgan York's wonderful post "Instant Attraction Can't Be Real" - The Tale of An Angry Teenage Demisexual. Oh wow, I loved this post SO MUCH. It was an incredible week and there are tons and tons of great links below but because demisexuality tends to be talked about so little, and for personal reasons (Like Morgan, as a teen I didn't know the word 'demisexual' existed), this really is one which I would love absolutely everyone to read.

This is one reason diversity in fiction is so important. People who don’t see themselves reflected in fiction are more likely to remove themselves from it. They are more likely to be confused about why “everyone else” seems to see the world differently, unaware that people like them exist and their voices just aren’t being heard.

Another excellent article is Alison Evans on 'the never-ending process of coming out as genderqueer'  (Heard through Leah Raeder, who is herself nonbinary and whose new NA release Cam Girl (not out over here but DEFINITELY worth importing!) has an incredible genderqueer love interest and is a must-read for over 18s. (Note the NA and over 18s bits. This is very, very, VERY not YA, and NSFW. But AMAZING.) For more on Cam Girl, don't miss this brilliant Book Baristas review!

Also hugely important, Bali Rai's great interview over at Luna's Little Library (part of her Diversity Month; I also loved this post introducing it!)

"It isn’t worthy to want more diverse characters in fiction. It isn’t about an agenda (although perhaps there is one now). It isn’t about discriminating against middle class, hetero able-bodied white people either. It’s about rebalancing the playing field. It’s about asking for real, true representation. It’s about making sure that everyone in Britain feels that literature is something for them too – rather than something for other people."

As Bali mentions in that interview, the change in publishing is extremely slow. "It is still as difficult today, for a British BAME teen to read about him/herself as a central character, as it was when I was a teen. Or maybe just slightly better."

There ARE people pushing for that change, though, and for writers from different backgrounds to succeed. A couple worth a look - Megaphone is a new writer development scheme, specifically aimed at BAME (Black, Asian or other Minority Ethnic) writers who would like sustained support as they write their first novel for children or teenagers.

Author Kit de Waal is funding a Creative Writing scholarship at Birkbeck, University of London, for a "budding writer from a low-income household or a marginalised background."

And yet another must-read here, from Kayla Whaley, on Microagressions And Erasure of Disability in Diversity Discussions.

I've talked to several people recently who are really keen to see more (and better) representations of disability in YA fiction. That said, it's always important to support the books that are already out there - Corrine Duyvis has put together a great list of #ownvoices books here.

Other great lists I've come across recently - Bustle's 16 of November's Best YA Books To Keep You Warm This Winter. Lots look fabulous, especially Joelle Charbonneau's Need, and Dahlia Adler's Just Visiting. (Speaking of Just Visiting, there's a great review from A Reader Of Fictions!)
10 audiobooks for children to listen to (great to see Sophia Bennett's You Don't Know Me on there!)
Hereville's 'Must Have Graphic Novels For Any School Library' (A couple of years old, though, so add in Miss Marvel!),
Jassy Fizzle's Books That Deserve All The Prizes
An especially important one is Kelly Jensen's Black Girls Matter: A YA reading list.

As always, LOTS of great lists on Nicole Brinkley's fuckyeahyoungadultlit Tumblr, while there are a staggering amount of amazing links listed in this incredible post from Ava Jae, which is a must read for anyone interested in diverse books with great representation!

And speaking of superb representation in fiction, the Duet Books anthology Summer Love - stories about characters across the LGBTQIA spectrum, written by authors also from the LGBTQIA spectrum - has been reduced to £6.87 on the Book Depository at the time I write this; a huge bargain.
Charlie in a Book's review is perfect reading for anyone on the fence about reading it (or check out mine.)

Talking of diversity, it's very, VERY cool to see We Need Diverse Books partnering with Scholastic to offer a special collection of diversity-themed books!

While I rarely review for the Bookbag any more (because let's face it, I rarely REVIEW anymore!) I'm still an avid reader of the site, which was my gateway into the bookish world online, and was thrilled to see some of my favourites, including Abi Elphinstone's The Dreamsnatcher, in their brilliant top 10 2015 books for confident readers.

And for authors rather than specific books, I loved Samantha Shannon's UKYA recommendations!

As mentioned, I'm looking at things I've tweeted this week - not necessarily things written this week; occasionally I stumble on things late. And then there's posts like this one - Justina Ireland on 'bootstrap equality' - which I know I included last week, but I'm putting in again because it is so, so great. Please read.

And one which I've tweeted about MANY, MANY times which always gets a great response is Dahlia Adler's fantastic series of posts giving publicity advice to upcoming debut authors - a must-read!

Buzzfeed have a look at the Harry Potter Colouring Book here while Melinda Salisbury, author of The Sin-Eater's Daughter and the upcoming The Sleeping Prince (both Scholastic) has kindly let me post a photo of one of her completed pages.

From The Harry Potter Colouring Book (Studio Press). Pic by Melinda Salisbury

I can't quite imagine it will surpass the brilliant Colour Me Mindful books by Anastasia Catris for me - they're SO GREAT, as the gorgeous below pictures from Lady JulianneDebbie and Grace and her sister show - but I'll definitely be buying this one.

From Colour Me Mindful: Seasons by Anastasia Catris (Orion). Pic by Debbie

From Colour Me Mindful: Seasons by Anastasia Catris (Orion). Pic by Julianne.

From Colour Me Mindful: Butterflies by Anastastia Catris (Orion). Pic by Grace
From Colour Me Mindful: Butterflies by Anastastia Catris (Orion). Photo by Grace (coloured by her sister, though!)
On the subject of Harry Potter, one of my favourite posts of the year to put together was this one to celebrate JK Rowling's 50th birthday - around 50 people shared their favourite moment from the series on MG Strikes Back!

Anna from Enchanted by YA rounded up YA Shot, including a lovely mention for the workshop which I did with Daphne.

I love the shortlist for the Irish Book Awards - great to see Louise O'Neill on it twice, for RTÉ Radio 1 The Ryan Tubridy Show's Listeners Choice Award  and the Specsavers Children's Book of the Year - Senior Award, with Sarah Crossan's incredible One also being in that category.

There's a great Shelley Diaz post here on the audience for YA novels. I love reading YA. However, I agree with Deborah Taylor's quote "It would be such a tragedy for teens to be guests in their own category... I understand that publishers want to take advantage of adult interest in YA. But YA novels’ primary audience should be teens."

I LOVE this brilliant Lauren James post, a Snapchat between the two lead characters in her wonderful The Next Together! Also great is Lauren's friend and fellow Claire Wilson client Alice Oseman, with this Writing And Studying Is Not Impossible guest post.

Following on from the brilliant news about a hopeful screen adaptation of Becky Albertalli's Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, which I referred to last week, it was great to see Marjorie Ingall at The Tablet introduce the 'First Annual Marjorie Ingall Buy-This-Book-For-The-Young-Adult-In-Your-Life-Right-Now Award', or Mibby, so that she could give it to this outstanding book!

And there was great TV news for another author I really like, with Gemma Burgess - who writes the Brooklyn Girls series (third of which, Coco, is just out from Quercus) selling True Love, an hourlong romantic dramedy, to American network ABC.

SCWBI magazine Words and Pictures had a really interesting interview with three independent booksellers about how they buy children's books.

Of course, certain booksellers - including my friend Louise! - had to deal with The Apprentice candidates in the episode aired this week. I only lasted half an hour, but most of my Twitter timeline watched. Great pieces on it from Yasmeen Ismail and Nicolette Jones.

I adored this AbsoBookingLutely post on 'weeding' your school library - great advice for librarians! Especially the section on books on puberty.
"I’m not even kidding, you should read every book in this section. Make sure it’s not body-shaming, homophobic, heternormative, cisnormative, or just plain gross. Make sure it doesn’t just describe sex as peen-in-vageen. Does it talk about consent? Does it say that being gay is a phase? Does it encourage young girls to shave off their body hair? Does it promote masturbation for boys but not girls? READ EVERY BOOK. Take the time. This shit can fuck kids up. A library is a place of answers, and if the answer to ‘I think I’m trans’ is ‘lol no it’s a phase, literally trans people don’t exist’, then think carefully about the effect your books are having on students.
Replace any gross books with James Dawson’s non-fiction. Trust me on this one."

And this one on history books.

"DO YOU HAVE ANY BOOKS ABOUT PEOPLE WHO AREN’T WHITE? Prioritise that shit. Make space in your budget. You don’t need 10 copies of The Fault In Our Stars, you need some motherfucking history books about people of colour."

Speaking of James Dawson, who recently announced he was starting 'a very long journey into living as a woman' (he's asked that for now, we continue to use he/him/his when talking about him), I loved this Maximum Pop piece on the supportive reactions of the YA community to this news.

And with lots of YouTube stars likely to be hitting the bestseller lists soon, James makes some great points about the publishing industry's need to harness their popularity in The Bookseller

Also I was super-thrilled to win a signed hardback of Jennifer Donnelly's These Shallow Graves by taking part in the #TSGMurderMystery from Hot Key, definitely one of the coolest publicity ideas of the year!

Michael Rosen's impassioned criticism of the new SPAG test for KS2 children was a great article in the Guardian, which had a tremendous week. Others I really enjoyed in the paper are Imogen Russell-Williams on children's non-fiction and Daniel Jose Older's Do Black Children's Lives Matter If Nobody Writes About Them?

This video of Daniel Jose Older, in which he talks about the issues with picture book A Fine Dessert, is also incredibly powerful.

While The Guardian was definitely the paper that impressed me most last week, I also loved this Telegraph post with pictures from If It Fits, I Sits: Cats in Awkward Places, published by Orion.

Back to The Guardian, this piece on the way male friendships can disappear in your 30s really hit home. As I mentioned on Twitter, this is basically where I was when I moved out of my parents house for the first time since uni (although at that time I was in my 20s.) In the town I moved to, I didn't know anyone except work colleagues, and being super-shy really struggled to make friends. Thankfully, while that nearly happened when I moved to London (a quick check of old e-mails sent reveals that I'd blanked out a three month period when I was REALLY unhappy and ready to move back up.), I ended up finding some of the best friends I've ever had. (I'll stop there; my tweets already drew the response from Melinda Salisbury "You're getting emotion all over my timeline.")

Also on the subject of friendships, I think one of the hardest things I've ever had to learn was when to walk away from a toxic friendship. Author Molli Moran, whose One Song Away is still one of my favourite ever NA reads, is brilliant on that subject here.

Speaking of friends, it's awesome to see fantastic people in the book blogging community doing brilliant things! Daphne, one of my best friends, is about to send out her Illumicrate subscription box - I can't wait to see people's reactions on receiving it! Daphne has been very busy - she was over on Gollancz's blog last Friday, with a brilliant post on reasons to read/reread The Falconer.

Meanwhile The Book Smugglers' publishing venture gets better and better - I loved The Case of the Little Bloody Slipper, a fabulous fairytale/film noir mash-up by Carlie St George, opening the Spindle City Mysteries! I also adored this brilliant Book Smugglers review of Frances Hardinge's superb The Lie Tree.

Another of my closest friends, Stacey, has been telling me about some of her plans for the 2016 Classic Challenge, which sound amazing! I have sadly been fairly hopeless at keeping up with the 2015 Classic Challenge, but WILL do better next year. Hopefully!! Over on Stacey's blog recently, author Holly Webb, who's written Return to the Secret Garden, posted about why people should read children's classics.

And I know several people following me are looking for book-related jobs - there are some GREAT ones out there at the moment! Foyles event co-ordinator (closing date 15th) and assistant to amazing agent Juliet Mushens (closing date 13th) stand out.

Lots of people I know are doing NaNoWriMo this year, although I'm taking a year off. Regardless, I read and loved this Rainbow Rowell pep talk!

The FCGB announced their Children's Book Award 2015 shortlists. I haven't read everything on there, but would definitely recommend Polly Ho-Yen's Boy in the Tower and Sarah Crossan's Apple And Rain - I'd love to see them win!

Emily June Street's feminist steampunk novel, Velocipede Races, sounds amazing! It's fully funded on Kickstarter after just a week, but there's 2 and a half weeks left if you want to sign up for any of the fabulous rewards on offer at great prices.

Adding reviews to the spreadsheet (now up to date, as far as I'm aware!) always exposes me to SO MANY incredible reviews from British bloggers. Some of my favourites found this week.

The Light That Gets Lost by Natasha Carthew, reviewed by Jill at The Bookbag.
The Imaginary, written by AF Harrold and illustrated by Emily Gravett, reviewed by Debbie at Snuggling on the Sofa.
Monster by CJ Skuse, reviewed by Sally at The Dark Dictator.
Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, reviewed by Stacey at Pretty Books.
Birdy by Jess Vallance, reviewed by Orli at Blame MyBookshelf.
Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne, reviewed by Bella at Cheezyfeet Books.
Stonebird by Mike Revell, reviewed by Leanne at Thoughts About Books.
The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell, reviewed by Darren at Bart's Bookshelf
The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury, reviewed by Anna at Enchanted by YA.
Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison - joint review from Michelle at The Unfinished Bookshelf and Jasmine at Jassy Fizzle.
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, review by The Arts Shelf.

The reason for actually getting round to updating the spreadsheet, instead of leaving it all to Debbie as usual, was so that I could write a quiz about it for Teens on Moon Lane - the most reviewed books of 2015 amongst British bloggers.

Also, we e-mailed a number of publicists about an idea tying into the spreadsheet and were thrilled to get an amazing response with so many people liking it! More details soon, but we're very grateful to all the publicists who replied to us supporting the idea and sending details of upcoming releases. A couple that especially look great - Nicci Cloke is fabulous so her YA debut Follow Me (Hot Key) is sure to be brilliant while Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock's The Smell of Other People's Houses (Faber), set in Alaska in 1970, sounds seriously intriguing, as does Laini Taylor's new Muse of Nightmares (Hodder & Stoughton).

And while those were new to me, The Square Root Of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood (Pan Macmillan) is on I've been desperate for for ages - great to see the cover reveal on Maximum Pop!

One that, as far as I'm aware, isn't coming out over here is Meredith Russo's If I Was Your Girl, "about a beautiful, intelligent, blonde transgender teen girl who forms a loving bond with a straight male high school football player." Written by Russo, a transgender woman, this sounds AMAZING. (Also I LOVE that cover, featuring transgender model Kira Conley!)

Speaking of plans for 2016, I'm very happy to be bringing the Happy Book Birthday feature back to Middle Grade Strikes Back as a monthly feature, restarting on 7th January! Looking for a few more birthday-themed questions like the one in that example - any ideas, anyone? Leave me a comment!

Over on Teens on Moon Lane, I finally posted the Top Ten Books I'm Too Scared To Read For Halloween post that I'd been working on for what seems like ages, and also posted Top Ten Debut Authors Whose Next Books I'm Excited For.

I also brought back an old post from YA Contemporary, Ten Reasons To Read Undeniable by Liz Bankes - I'm going to try this as a review style for a bit and see how it goes - and firm favourite 5-4-3-2-1 continued with The Light That Gets Lost author Natasha Carthew, and The Imaginary author AF Harrold (big thanks Bloomsbury for setting those two up!)

My friend Gracie is 4 weeks into her radiotherapy; I'm really looking forward to celebrating the end of it with her soon. Her fabulous fundraiser for Little Princess Trust is now on £1785 - please consider donating, or spreading the word about it.

And talking of Gracie, I loved her post about the awesomeness of the UKYA book blogging community!

Joanne Stapley's Bookish Spinsters continues, with a great post from her on Sex And Female Sexuality.

Most of the weekend has been spent watching Master of None, which I was hooked on after a few episodes - I was first alerted to it by the wonderful Bim Adewunmi's Buzzfeed post! There's also a great NY Times review of it here. Additionally, I enjoyed reading writer/star Aziz Ansari talking to EW about Indians on TV, one of my favourite episodes of the show.

When not watching that, I've been listening to a lot of Karina Ramage - check her out on Soundcloud!

Other than staying in marathoning MON, I went out a fair bit - I had a great time at the STREAM festival, really enjoying Girl Power with Jenny McLachlan, Lucy Saxon and Katy Birchall, and then Emily Drabble's great chairing of James Dawson and Laura Dockrill. I then headed to Guildford (DON'T ASK about the journey there!) for a brilliant event featuring a fabulous quartet of authors, Holly Bourne, Mel Salisbury, CJ Daugherty and Alexia Casale. A really excellent event, and great to catch up with my friends Faye, Laura and Caroline there.

I also went to the theatre with Debbie to see Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games. The dancing was great, and we both enjoyed it, although the set - including footage on a big screen of unicorns, and a seriously corny villain - weren't particularly to my tastes! We got reduced price tickets, and felt it was good value for money for that, at least.

Have there been any great posts I've missed? What was the highlight of your week? Leave me a comment!

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