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!

Thursday, 28 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!

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Classics: Ellen Brickley on I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

I Capture The Castle is one of my very favourite classics, so I was delighted when Ellen Brickley offered to write about it for my classics feature! A huge thanks to Ellen (who you should definitely follow on Twitter!)

Dodie Smith is better known as the author of 101 Dalmatians, but her coming-of-age novel I Capture the Castle is a YA classic.

Cassandra Mortmain's family live in genteel poverty, highly educated but somehow incapable of earning a living. When they hear that the owners of their rented castle are coming back from America, they are terrified that this will mean that they finally have to pay actual rent. Instead, Cassandra and her beautiful sister Rose are faced with two rich and handsome young men, and after a lifetime spent reading Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen. . . they're still pretty unprepared for what follows.

Dodie Smith wrote I Capture the Castle while she was living in America and homesick for England, and it shows. You can feel the dew and smell the bluebells. There would be lashings of ginger beer for tea, if the Mortmains had any money for ginger beer. Reading I Capture the Castle is like slipping back to a gentler time, not just because it's set in the 1930s (worrying close to a century ago. . .) but because Cassandra is so innocent (one of the dishy American landlords calls her 'consciously naive' and even Cassandra admits that he kind of has a point).

But the book itself isn't quite as innocent as all that. Cassandra summons elementals on Midsummer's Eve, hoists her sister to make wishes on a devil's head, and does something that she considers “wicked” among the bluebells. She encounters a lot of the things that have since become hallmarks of YA literature – first love, sibling rivalry, being the less pretty sister, an infatuated friend, disappointing parents, becoming an adult before she's quite ready, staying up all night, trying her first drink (a cherry brandy in the village pub rather than shots, admittedly). I Capture the Castle is one of my comfort reads but it doesn't shy away from the universal truth that bad things happen, and that all we can do as humans, sometimes, is handle it.

And when the narrator opens their memoirs by saying “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink”, you know you're in good hands.

Thanks again, Ellen! 

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 !

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Recent Links Recap

(Wow, I made it three weeks in a row and haven't flaked out yet!)

Kicking off with non-bookish links, a brilliant post from my friend Grace on being kind to your brain.

And another wonderful one from Caitlin on being realistic, and how the road to recovery being paved with pain and compromise. Although this one nearly made me cry, and also made me feel terrible for not realising how much pain one of my close friends has been in.

As someone who's apparently slightly too old to be a millennial, but who's completely blown away when I see the amazing things my talented younger friends are doing, I thought this Emma Gannon post on why millennials are working harder than ever, was great!

Also on the subject of hard-working people, fascinating post here on How Kat Cole Went From Hooters Girl to Running a Billion-Dollar Brand.

And an awesome post here by Julianne on getting older and eating salmon!

Onto books, and fantastic awards news, as Alex Gino's wonderful George won the Stonewall 2016 Children's Literature Award and Becky Albertalli's brilliant Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda won the William C Morris Award for best debut! An amazing week for Becky, with Simon Vs also on the YALSA list of best YA, along with Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo which I loved and Daniel Jose Older's Shadowshaper and Laura Ruby's Bone Gap which I can't wait to read.

Also the Amelia Bloomer list - best feminist YA and children's books - looks superb!

I'll probably plug this a lot over the next six weeks - sorry! - but speaking of lists, remember voting's open for Bookish Peeps Book of 2015!

Another great list - Shira Glassman's put together a list of SFF YA in 2016 involving f/f romance. I adored The Abyss Surrounds Us and am very excited for everything else on this list.

There've been so many fabulous Twitter chats in January, with others upcoming - I LOVED the first #ChatClassics, which Stacey from Pretty Books is running as part of the 2016 Classics Challenge, yesterday! For more chats, check out the Bookish Peeps calendar. (Don't miss #SundayYA tonight at 6pm GMT!)  On the subject of the challenge, Hannah had a great TBR post 

I have some recommendations for the challenge myself, and TBR books as well! My LGBT TBR is here and my children's classics recommendations and TBR here. I also got Perdita and Honor Cargill to post about PG Wodehouse here - they have differing views, but it made for a hugely entertaining post! Stacey also came up with an awesome idea for a feature, Shelf Swap (thanks Charlie for coming up with the brilliant name!) and I was really delighted to be the first person to take part!

I love the idea of Swoon Reads, the Pan Macmillan site where authors can submit their work and readers get to read, rate and comment on it. I adored Hanna Nowinski's Meg and Linus last year and was incredibly happy to see it get picked up to be published. I assumed that once it had been selected, it would be removed from the site - but for a limited time, it IS still there! It's on sale April 2017 and you REALLY don't want to have to wait that long to read this super-cute LGBT contemporary, so check it out now!

Having become friendly with quite a few recent/upcoming debut authors, I'm often asked for advice on social media from them. I always refer them to the outstanding Dahlia Adler, who's an expert on that and numerous other aspects of being an up-and-coming writer. She's updated her site guide to take you through the path to, and beyond, publication step by step - read EVERYTHING linked to here!

Another industry figure who's superb at social media is Juliet Mushens, agent to so many fabulous clients. Her Twitter tips here are a must-read. (Also you can vote for that post in the Book Machine blogging awards!)

Also in the great advice section, Chuck Wendig on self-care for writers, and in advice for bloggers, fab blogging commandments from Carly Bennett!

Going back to Dahlia, loved this cover for her upcoming Right of First Refusal, designed by super-talented Maggie Hall!

I'm a big fan of Marianne Levy's YA Accidental Superstar, released earlier this week, and loved the trailer and the playlist!

Anna James is new to Booktube but probably familiar to most of my readers (she's Elle's literary editor and used to work for the Bookseller, and is frequently to be found at top bookish events - like this one on feminism, with CJ Daugherty, Holly Bourne and Holly Smale, which she's chairing - see you there?) She filmed a really wonderful Top Five Books To Look Out For in January. The Portable Veblen, by Elizabeth McKenzie, sounds especially great! I was intrigued when Anna said of it "It's the sort of book that I think Katherine [Rundell] would write if she was writing adult fiction"

At Queer YA, Caro's put together a brilliant calendar of LGBTQIA+ cultural events in the UK!

Also, I loved this Buzzfeed list of upcoming novels with LGBT characters to look forward to! In particular it's great to see Riley Redgate's Seven Ways We Lie, and Nina LaCour/David Levithan's You Know Me Well there - I've read and loved the first, and can't wait for the second. Others that look especially interesting are Julia Ember's Unicorn Tracks, Meredith Russo's If I Was Your Girl, and South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf.

Al Kitching asked Twitter for advice on books for his two daughters, aged 13 and 15, who are reluctant readers. So many fabulous recommendations flooded in, and he was kind enough to Storify so others could benefit too.

Huge news for the fabulous Tristina Wright, as 27 Hours - better known to her followers as #queerteensinspace - was picked up by Entangled Teen for release in 2017. Lots of excitement over this one! Another big deal announced, as Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain will be writing a kids' book for Hodder, with a collection of recipes and stories with a modern twist! It sounds fabulous. And there's an American deal for a UKYA favourite! Will be thrilled to see Lauren James's wonderful The Next Together make it across the Atlantic, great acquisition Sky Horse!

Phil Earle's fabulous JustGiving to raise money for the flood-damaged Riverside School, which I tweeted about last week, has hit a huge £3630. If you'd like to donate, though, they're definitely hoping to make it to £4000.

Another fundraiser well worth checking out is the one for Bare Lit, the first literary festival focused entirely on writers of colour. Support - including pre-booking tickets - this February event here.

One of my aims for this year's to read more short fiction, so I've decided to support Fireside Fiction via Patreon - hopefully it'll remind me to check out their brilliant website more often! 

I think I've mentioned this event before, but definitely worth doing so again! Anyone in the North West who can get to St Anne's on Sea shouldn't miss Storytellers' Inc's Spinster Sunday - superb line-up of Holly Bourne, Non Pratt, Natasha Farrant, Sara Barnard, Jenny McLachlan and Keris Stainton.

Non is one of my very favourite authors; she's also one of the most knowledgeable people I know when it comes to YA. This piece for the Guardian, explaining why she feels no taboo should be off limits when writing for teens, is fantastic.

The awesome Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison blog tour continues! They selected dinner guests at Serendipity Reviews, took part in Daphne's awesome Bookish Firsts, and chose their best literary school trips on Pretty Books. Maura Brickell, who's organised the tour, has done a really superb job! More guest posts - over on Teens, we hosted Will Hill and Cat Doyle for 5-4-3-2-1

Maximum Pop posted about my friend Daphne's brilliant subscription box, Illumicrate. Remember there is a MAXIMUM of two weeks left to sign up for this - and that's assuming it doesn't sell out (it did last time!) Sign up here if you want to get the February box!

I am FINALLY getting better at Instagram (in fairness, getting worse would have been significantly more difficult.) However Bookstagram tips are hard to come by so this post by Word Revel is awesome! Can't wait for the rest of the series of tips.

Also I'm aiming for a blog post on music at some point soon, but in case I don't get round to it, want to leave a link for you to check out - Rosie Tee and Bryony Rose's gorgeous folk/electronica Infinite Home EP, which is free to download here and is wonderful.

Also on music - fascinating interview with Ron Chernow, who wrote the Hamilton biography which inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to write his amazing musical, talking about his work consulting with Lin-Manuel on the show.  And I loved this post by Hayley Sprout on Hamilton's brilliance!

And finishing off with films, on this blog, I posted about my top 12 films of 2015 inspired by Caitlin's year in review post last week.

Are there any brilliant posts you've written/read this week that I've missed? Leave me a comment with a link please!

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Classics: Perdita and Honor Cargill on PG Wodehouse

I'm a huge fan of Waiting For Callback, a fresh and funny YA contemporary novel with fabulous characters and particularly brilliant dialogue! When I decided that I wanted to bring my classics posts back for this year, I couldn't think of a better duo to ask to kick them off than mother and daughter debut authors Perdita and Honor Cargill, who are discussing one of my favourite authors, P.G. Wodehouse!

P: So Jim asked us to have a conversation about the P.G. Wodehouse novels for this series on classics.  Hon grew up on those books (mostly listening to them narrated by the brilliant Martin Jarvis).  I’m less of a fan. We had a lot of fun disagreeing…

I’ve always had a suspicion that part of the reason you and your dad are so in love with the P.G. Wodehouse books is so you can speak in code and exclude me.

H: Er…that’s a tiny bit neurotic (but having in-jokes with someone else who loves the same books is always good fun). You’re just prejudiced against these books.  You should take time to read them – I think you’d love them.  How can anyone not want to read a book called ‘Aunts aren’t Gentlemen’?

P: Then what is the main reason you love them?

H: The language, Wodehouse was a genius with words.  I am deeply in love with his similes. 
Secretaries (even better, the Efficient Baxter) ‘falling like gentle rain from heaven upon the lobelias below’
‘Aunt..calling to Aunt like mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps’
Honoria Glossop’s laugh ‘…like a squadron of cavalry charging over a tin bridge’

I could go on.

P: Aren’t they super dated comedies of manners about a long gone class system?

H: Not really, no. There is very little direct commentary about class – it’s very much a made up world - and in any meaningful hierarchy Jeeves definitely comes out top.  And if you’re going to start ruling out books on the basis that their subject matter involves the stuff of history you’re going to lose a lot of good reads…  Anyway I love a good comedy of manners.  It’s hard to be funny; Wodehouse was exceptionally funny.

P: But aren’t the plots all the same? 

H: Well I don’t think plot always has to be the most important thing in a novel but I have to admit there’s something in that. Plot devices like Wooster rewarding Jeeves by disposing of some offending piece of clothing or Jeeves coming to Wooster’s rescue when he’s got himself in yet another disastrous romantic entanglement do feature pretty regularly in that series....

P: Exactly, there’s always the stock ‘disastrous girlfriend’ character. And didn’t he just keep churning them out?

H: That’s not fair. His characters aren’t stock characters. There is a long list of disastrously unsuitable girlfriends but they’re unsuitable in a very different ways.  You couldn’t mix up Madeleine Bassett (‘The stars are God’s daisychain’) with Florence Craye (‘unable to see a male soul without wanting to get behind it and shove’)! Wodehouse plays on character types but develops them perfectly.  And look at how brilliantly differentiated and well developed are the voices of Jeeves and Wooster.
And as for ‘churning them out’ Wodehouse produced consistently funny and successful novels for decades – I think that’s the dream!

P: You have a point there…

Waiting for Callback is published by Simon & Schuster on 28 January 2016.

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 ! Also keep an eye out for the Twitter chat to go with the challenge, - the next one is on Saturday 16th January, TOMORROW, at 8pm GMT!

(c) David Locke, London 2015
(c) Becka Moor, 2015

Perdita: I used to be the least numerate tax barrister ever to practise at the English bar but now I'm writing at last and it's the best 'job' in the world - not least because I'm writing funny teen books with my daughter.

Honor: I'm 17, I'm in my last year at school doing A levels and yes, weirdly, I'm co-writing funny teen books with my mum and having so much fun with it. I used to do a bit of acting (mostly school but a tiny bit professional) and although Elektra, our main character, is nothing like me, I suppose that's where the germ of the idea for Waiting for Callback came from.

Twitter: @perditact
Instagram: @honorcargill
Facebook: Waiting for Callback (not ‘activated’ yet)
Good Reads: waiting for callback


Wednesday, 13 January 2016

2016 Classics Challenge - LGBT TBR

I wasn't planning on posting here today, and then I wondered about just a brief one line post saying "HEY, GUESS WHO STACEY AT PRETTY BOOKS CHOSE TO KICK OFF HER FABULOUS SHELF SWAP FEATURE!" (Spoiler: it's ME! Check out the post, in which I pick five books from Stacey's Goodreads shelves I'd love to read, and five from my own that I'd love her to take a look at.) However thinking about Stacey got me onto the 2016 Classics Challenge, which she's hosting, so a brief post seemed like a plan.

The aim is to read 12 classics in a year, one a month (or more, obviously!) using your own definition of classic. I am HUGELY excited about the upcoming #ChatClassics which she's hosting at 8pm GMT on Sat 16th January - THIS SATURDAY, yay! And it got me thinking about what I'm hoping to read. I'm aiming to read at least 6 children's classics which I'll talk about over at Teens on Moon Lane, and at least 6 LGBT adult classics which I'll talk about here. So for today, I thought I'd look at potential LGBT books I might read.

I am GREATLY indebted to this fabulous Tyler Coates piece on Flavorwire, which helped me identify 15 LGBT classics that look particularly interesting. (As a massive mood reader I try not to tie myself down to books, so I went for 15 to give myself a range to choose from.)

Are there any that you'd particularly recommend here? Let me know in the comments! And if it sounds like a fun idea, why not sign up to the 2016 Classics Challenge yourself?

Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin - Described by Katy as 'probably the most heartbreaking book in the world', and also recommended by Hannah as one of her favourite books, this sounds incredible but I'll clearly need to stock up on tissues!

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown - This lesbian coming-of-age story sounds absolutely fantastic, I've been aiming to read for ages and this WILL be the year.

Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet - French writer Genet's largely autobiographical novel, set in the Parisian underworld, sounds fascinating!

The Price of Salt (also published as Carol) by Patricia Highsmith - Charlie has wonderful taste in books and I've loved nearly everything she's ever recommended to me. I know she's read this and seen the film recently and really enjoyed both.

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin - I think Maupin's the only author on the list I've read anything by; I really loved The Night Listener. Somehow, I haven't gone back to him, despite urging from Keris Stainton and others to do so. I know this series is his most famous!

Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima - This 1949 novel about a young gay man in Imperial Japan sounds like a great read.

City of Night by John Rechy - I find stream of consciousness to be very very hit or miss, but when I like it I tend to REALLY love it (thinking, in particular, of The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon, which has one of my favourite passages ever.)

Funny Boy by Shyan Selvadurai - This is the most recent on the list by a decade or so, but I've been wanting to read more Sri Lankan-set fiction for ages (Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilaka, also set in that country, is one of my favourite ever adult novels) so can't resist including it. It sounds wonderful!

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu - Luna from Luna's Little Library, one of my favourite bloggers (and jewellery maker to star authors like Abi Elphinstone!) got me hooked on the brilliant Youtube series inspired by this book, which I adored! This is likely to be my first read, I think.

The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal - Vidal is another author I've been meaning to read for ages, and this is often described as one of his best books.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker - Hugely famous and recommended by several friends - described by brilliant bookseller Louise Corcoran as a book she can 'barely hand sell without getting teary' - this is one of the most recent books on my list, but I don't think ANYONE would deny

Tipping The Velvet by Sarah Waters - I think Sarah Waters is the author I haven't read who's been recommended to me most of the past 2 years or so. (Possibly not coincidentally, it was around the start of 2014 when I first met Charlie.) I know lots of friends are huge fans, I'm sure I will be too - when I can find some spare time I'm going to try and set aside a few hours to plunge myself into this one!

A Boy's Own Story by Edmund White - Another slightly more recent one, one of the 4 on the list, I think, to be published in my lifetime. This semi-autobiographical novel about the awakening of a queer teenage boy in the Midwest sounds perfect, I love coming-of-age stories!

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson - Massively recommended by Sophie over at So Many Books, So Little Time amongst others, this is one I've been aware of for ages without getting to.

Orlando by Virginia Woolf - I've never read anything by Woolf and this one, about a poet who changes from a man to a woman and lives for centuries, meeting key figures of English literary history, sounds fantastic.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Bookish Resolutions

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

1. Read 12 books for the #2016ClassicsChallenge - I still feel bad that I was so far away from my goal for the #2015ClassicsChallenge, hosted by Stacey, one of my best friends. However this year the challenge is back and bigger and better than ever, with 300+ people signed up and great things happening (including live chats! Don't miss #ChatClassics on Sunday at 8pm GMT) so I DEFINITELY want to complete it this time around.

2. Get better at Instagram - I'm trying to run an Instagram account for Teens On Moon Lane, the site I run for fab bookshop Tales On Moon Lane, and having so much fun doing it! When I briefly tried before I struggled but hadn't really got into the community aspect, now I'm more aware of hashtags and I'm commenting on people's photos and getting into interesting discussions I'm loving it.

3. Get better at Tumblr - As above, trying to run Tumblr for Teens on Moon Lane too. This is, so far, less successful, but I'm aiming to improve later in the year!

4. Run monthly #CountdownML chats for Teens on Moon Lane - Following last year's successful trial of #CountdownYA chats, I've switched the hashtag to tie into Teens on Moon Lane and am aiming, with help from Chelley, to run one every month. The first, which she hosted, was a huge success, and there are so many incredible books out this year that I'm sure the others will be as well.

5. Read more shorts - I love short stories and there are lots of brilliant ones available free/cheap online, as well as some intriguing anthologies. I definitely want to read and post about more this year. (I'm ESPECIALLY looking forward to Egmont's historical anthology Mystery & Mayhem, featuring Katherine Woodfine, Robin Stevens, Susie Day, Frances Hardinge and lots of other brilliant authors!)

6. Try to read in the morning - I tend to waste so much time in the morning not doing anything especially useful. I want to try and use the 20 minute or so bus ride to read as often as possible.

7. Keep records - Debbie gets upset with me when I don't have a clue what I've read/got, so I'm making a real effort to be better at keeping track. I'm using xCrini's amazing spreadsheet and it's REALLY helping me!

8. Help with Bookish Peeps - I'm thrilled by the relaunch of Bookish Peeps and can't wait to see votes for the Book of 2015 vote! I want to help Jesse make the forum into a really brilliant place for YA/MG fans.

9. Start books more often, give up on them sooner - I have a HUGE TBR pile for various reasons, mainly because I can't resist super-cheap stuff, and I'm trying to clear space. I'm getting much better at giving up on books I'm not enjoying, but I also want to actually try and start books soon after getting them - that way if I don't like them I can pass them on to someone else (at least when I can find other people with space!)

10. Stop getting so stressed - Most importantly, though, I want to go back to enjoying blogging more than I did at various points last year. I will forever be grateful to blogging for introducing me to so many incredible people, but there were times when it felt like a chore. With my new laidback approach (which weirdly is resulting in MORE frequent posts!) it doesn't feel that way for the moment, and I'm really hoping it stays that way. This, for me, is the key one - all of the others are things I'd like to do, this is the one I feel I NEED to try to do.

Do you have any new year's resolutions? Share them with me in the comments, or link to your post!

Sunday, 10 January 2016

2015 in review: Best Films

So last year was something of a hit and miss year for me stage and screen-wise. I went to a LOT of films, especially in the first half of the year, and a decent amount of stage shows. I barely watched any TV, partly because most of what I did watch completely failed to hold my attention - until relatively late in the year, when I discovered a few things I really enjoyed. For films and stage shows, I didn't see much that was really bad, but there was a fair amount of things that I found fairly boring. There were others, though, that really stood out - here's my favourite 12!

I've split into Good, Great, and Film Of The Year, then in alphabetical order in each section. Stage and TV posts to follow, by the way.


52 Tuesdays - could've lived without the subplot of the main character filming her new friends having sex, but a really interesting coming of age drama about a teen dealing with her mother's gender transition. Gender non-conforming actor Del Herbert-Jane, who went from being the film's adviser on gender transition to playing the role of the mother, is magnificent.

Far From The Madding Crowd - Wasn't sure whether to watch this as I was expecting it to be hugely depressing, Caitlin persuaded me it wasn't and I ended up really loving the chemistry between Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts, in particularly. Also gorgeous sets and costumes!

Girlhood - I know this had mixed reviews but I REALLY liked it, I thought the main girls were brilliant and the scene with them lip-syncing to Diamonds is one of my favourites of last year.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - I thought that this was a great adaptation of a really wonderful book (it's also nice to see some new actors in a YA adaptation rather than the same ones who seem to star in the majority of them!) Funny and moving, great script.

Trash - Another adaptation, this time of Andy Mulligan's MG novel, this stood out because of outstanding performances from the central trio of boys. I also thought it was really feel-good overall, which I like.


Mad Max: Fury Road - Oh wow, FURIOSA! I'm not generally big on action movies but the great reviews got me to give it a try and I absolutely loved. Tom Hardy is maybe my favourite actor of the past couple of years, but as good as he and Nicholas Hoult are, this is Charlize Theron's movie and she is PHENOMENAL in it. Just so, so great.

Selma - Loved this, a really moving and dramatic film, with David Oyelowo stunning as Martin Luther King. This felt like a powerful call to arms, praising King and his legacy while also underlining just how far we have left to go.

Slow West - I wish I'd seen more people talking about this because it was one I loved! A young Scotsman journeys to America to seek his love and employs a bounty hunter who has an agenda of his own for protection. This is incredibly violent in places - not something I'm usually a fan of - but there's some great moments, the cinematography is outstanding, and Kodi Smit-McPhee as the young man, Michael Fassbender as the bounty hunter and Caren Pistorius as the love interest are all fantastic. (It's currently on Netflix UK, btw!)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - By far the best of the Star Wars movies I've seen, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac are an incredible trio, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher are great, and I loved the humour as well as the action.

Theeb - Another massively underrated one, this Jordanian World War One drama about a Bedouin boy chasing after his brother as he leads a British officer to a water well is visually stunning and brilliantly acted. A mainly amateur cast, with Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat in the title role, are superb, while the story was completely gripping.

Special mention

Pride - I don't really feel I can put it as my film of the year as it wasn't actually released last year (and it was my film of the year for 2014, so to name the same thing two years in a row seems strange!), but I saw it for the second time when we went to a special screening followed by a Q and A with members of LGSM and it was just as wonderful second time around.

Film of the Year

The Martian - So, quite a few brilliant films, but this one - adapted from Andy Weir's novel - was the one which blew me away. I wasn't bothered until Debbie and Caitlin raved about it and I went in with low expectations simply because it's not my usual kind of film at all, but Damon is great, there's a wonderful mix of action and comedy, and it's so, so tense. Truly superb.

Links Recap

Another week, and more fabulous posts!

Starting with the most important posts - author Phil Earle is raising money for his son's school, hit hard by the Boxing Day floods, and has raised £1400 so far, and my friend Caitlin has started a blog on life with a chronic condition, books, and other things.  Please check out those two, even if you don't have time to read everything else here!

Also, we relaunched fab forum Bookish Peeps, which myself and Michelle help Jesse to run, and would LOVE to see more people there!

Right here, I posted some random thoughts on book blogging

If you're interested in blogging but not sure where to start, my friend Daphne is currently looking for a co-blogger for Winged Reviews, one of the best blogs going! Details here. And there's a brilliant review of Daphne's fabulous Illumicrate over on YA Midnight Reads - are you signed up?

Next week sees my friend Stacey's first #ChatClassics as part of the #2016ClassicsChallenge! 8pm GMT on Saturday 16th Jan. I'm working on a recommendations post for Teens On Moon Lane, but there's a few from me here in last year's post. I also loved Lucy The Reader's video on books she wants to read for it. The challenge also gets a mention in this awesome video by Reality's A Bore.

If your classics knowledge is red-hot, don't miss our Sporcle quiz!

I shared most of my favourite posts about looking back on 2015 last week, but since then have found this gorgeous one from Zoella, which I adored! I also loved best books of 2015 posts from Jess Hearts Books and Minerva Reads. And this one from Caitlin on books, TV and film!

There are SO MANY great chats coming up! Rebecca Wells, Ashley Herring Blake, and Mackenzi Lee have just announced the Bi YA Book Club. Details here.

The next #CountdownML chat is on 25th January, looking at late Jan/early Feb releases. I'm hugely grateful to Chelley from Tales of Yesterday for hosting the first, check out her post on it here.

She also had brilliant interviews on her blog with two of the authors who had books out last week, Marieke Nijkamp (This Is Where It Ends, which I'm hearing brilliant things about) and Lisa Williamson (paperback release of The Art Of Being Normal, my favourite YA book of 2015.) And a great one with Jessie Sullivan from wonderful publishers Stripes!

Lisa also did a fabulous 5-4-3-2-1 on Teens on Moon Lane, and the Guardian have an extract from TAOBN. Also doing 5-4-3-2-1, the excellent Rohan Gavin!

Also on Teens, great guest posts from Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison and Katy Birchall!

I was also on MG Strikes Back,relaunching my Happy Book Birthday feature with six fabulous authors!

Fab bloggers The Book Smugglers have moved into publishing and have already published some things by INCREDIBLE authors - including Kate Elliott and SL Huang, favourites of mine. You could be next! There's an open call for novella submissions.

Sadly I can't get up to Storytellers Inc on 7th February for their Spinster Sunday event, but it looks AMAZING! Holly Bourne, Non Pratt, Natasha Farrant, Jenny McLachlan, Sara Barnard and Keris Stainton are a dream line-up. Tickets now on sale.

I LOVED the fabulously talented ladies of Hamilton doing My Shot!

Also non-bookish but WONDERFUL, artist Brian Kesinger did some Calvin and Hobbes-style Force Awakens artwork which may be the cutest thing EVER!

I'm very excited for Nikesh Shukla's collection of essays from emerging BAME writers, poets, journalists and artists - and it was FANTASTIC to hear that my friend Wei Ming Kam will be one of the 20 people writing for it!

I also really loved Juno Dawson's Guardian piece on the need to talk about mental health without stigma.

I really like LD Lapinski's tweets and can't wait to read a novel by her. That got a LOT closer to happening as she signed with superstar agent Claire Wilson, whose clients include Katherine Rundell, Lauren James, Sara Barnard, Mel Salisbury, Alexia Casale and several of my other favourite authors! (And Louise Jones, who again I am DESPERATE to read a book by!)

This Kimberly Ito post on spoilers and trigger warnings is brilliant!

One of the best books I've read so far in 2016 was Eric Lindstrom's Not If I See You First; I requested after a brilliant Kody Keplinger review and interview with Eric - check them both out, then buy the book!

I love adult/all-ages colouring books (especially the fabulous Colour Me Mindful series!) Great post here by Sarah McIntyre on why she does, too.

And finally, there's a great Guardian calendar of upcoming events in children's literature! For best use, combine with the spreadsheet me and Debbie run, as that has more release dates.

Have you read any of the above posts? Are there any other fantastic ones I've missed recently? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Some fairly random thoughts on book blogging

After a reading slump which lasted through most of the second half of 2015 - it seemed to keep almost getting better, but never quite managing it - the latest book in Candy Harper's Faith series, Leap of Faith, seems to have finally snapped me out of it. I adored it; it was my favourite YA of last year, but rather than leave me wonder how I could follow it I ended up reading some great stuff straight after it. I loved Ella Lyons's novella Complementary And Acute, a boarding school romance between two girls, found Phil Earle's Superhero Street a fantastically funny read, finally got to Treasure Island for the #2016ClassicsChallenge after planning to read for much of 2015, and have just picked up My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante which has got off to an intriguing start. I'm even keeping track of what I've read for the first time in ages, using xCrini's amazing spreadsheet, which started off mainly to keep Debbie happy but which I'm finding surprisingly enjoyable.

I have tons of plans for this blog (as mentioned yesterday they won't necessarily just involved books, and the upcoming post I'm writing looks at stage and screen favourites of 2015) as well as for Teens on Moon Lane. And I'm going to keep up with the spreadsheet, and the cool plans I have, until I stop finding them enjoyable/useful. When I do, I'm going to stop, or pause. Because at the end of the day, blogging should be FUN and this is something I came so close to forgetting last year. This is the time of year that you see lots of advice being given out, and some of it's awesome, while some of it I disagree with. What I'd say is that really, there are barely any rules to blogging. I would say the only cast-iron ones were to be honest to your readers, and to avoid personal attacks. Other than that, do what you want. (Although my STRONG personal preference is to warn people if you're posting spoilers!) Post reviews, interviews, hauls, top tens, features, discussions posts - whatever you find interesting. Some people review everything they read, some people review a tiny percentage. Some stick to books that they absolutely love and want to scream about, some write insightful criticism of books they found problematic or disliked to warn others about them. Some blog most days, others once every few months. There WILL be readers out there who like what you do, whatever it is. Yes, there will be others who don't and that's fine - you cannot please everyone and it's a waste of time and energy trying. If people aren't keen on your blog there are hundreds of others they can read; there's no reason for you to try and change stuff to fit in. (Obviously, if you get criticism/advice you think is worth taking, go for it - but I'd be wary of making changes just because one or two people don't like the way you're blogging.)

Also, on a sorta-related note, I've just discovered Bookstagram and am amazed that I've missed out on such a wonderful community for so long. If you want a brilliant way to talk about books and make friends with people but you're not keen on blogging and/or just want a chance, I would massively recommend both Instagram and taking part in Twitter chats. We'll be running #CountdownML from @teensonmoonlane every month this year and would love to see people join in, while the recently started #SundayYA, run by Rachel, is always huge fun. In addition, the giants of the UK chat scene, Lucy The Reader's #ukyachat and Lorraine Gregory and Miriam Craig's #ukmgchat, are still going strong and are always superb!

So, here's to a wonderful 2016 for all of us! Whether you're blogging, Instagramming, tweeting, or just enjoying reading - have a FANTASTIC year.

Recent Links Recap

Okay, as mentioned the other day I'm not going for anything regular this year, but the links feature was fun to do a few times last year and there's already been some amazing posts in the first few days of 2016! Let's look at my favourite things I've tweeted about over the past few days.

Kicking off with a time sensitive one - in response to the floods that devastated Hebden, fabulous Sam Missingham has coordinated an auction of some amazing books to raise money for The Book Case. These end this afternoon (Sunday 3rd Jan) in many cases, and tomorrow in others, so it's well worth checking out NOW!

On this blog, I reviewed Candy Harper's Leap of Faith, third in the Faith series, which immediately became my favourite YA read of 2015.

Maximum Pop announced their shortlists for the MP! Awards 2015. Book-related ones include Best YA of 2015 - an easy choice, with Holly Bourne's Am I Normal Yet? being by far my favourite of the shortlist - and Booktuber of the Year, a far more difficult one because how can ANYONE pick between two people as amazing as Lucy The Reader and George Lester?

Keris Stainton's running her online writing course again, starting tomorrow. This is £50 for 8 weeks and speaking as someone who's done it before and found it really useful, I'd say that's an absolute bargain!

Dahlia Adler wrote about the #ReadWomen challenge. I can definitely see why people would do it (I'm not myself, mainly because about 90% of the books I read are written by women anyway) but would strongly recommend reading this before taking part; it raises some great points.

Speaking of Dahlia, I loved this post of hers about moving from writing m/f to f/f!
And this great YA Interrobang post on best 2015 covers is headed by a picture from Maggie Hall's stunning cover for Dahlia's Under The Lights, one of my favourites of last year!

Grace, who's one of my favourite bloggers, wrote a brilliant post about finally liking her body and another excellent one about 2015 and 2016 books. And she's selling some gorgeous things on depop  and Vinted.

As a big fan of Waiting For Callback by Perdita and Honor Cargill, I loved this review from Book Lover Jo!

Faye's posted about her new website, Daydreaming Designs, which is coming soon - I can't wait to see it!

I finally read Ella Lyons's gorgeous f/f romance novella, Complementary and Acute - a fun read for anyone who loves boarding school stories!

And I loved Nick Bryan's top TV shows of 2015.

There are LOTS of posts looking back on 2015 and looking ahead to 2016. A few I really enjoyed reading. 
Nina from Death Books and Tea
Daphne from Winged Reviews
Julianne at This Fleeting Dream  (which links to her awesome video on Candy Harper's Faith!)
My own top 12 of 2015 at Teens on Moon Lane and my end of year survey.
Lauren James
Fellow Hufflepuff Louise O'Neill. Yes, REALLY.
Ashley Herring Blake
Molli Moran with some super exciting book news - I am SO excited for One Heart Like Mine, f/f NA companion novel to One Song Away, which I adored.
(If you use NetGalley, Molli's upcoming book As You Breathe Again is available for request, by the way!)
And my two favourites of all, Louise Jones with her resolutions, and Sophie Heawood on what she's doing differently in 2016.

And as ever with a new year, reading challenges abound! A couple which look great - British Books Challenge hosted by Kirsty from The Overflowing Library and 2016 Classics Challenge, hosted by my friend Stacey at Pretty Books.

We're running monthly #CountdownML chats on Teens on Moon Lane and the first one took place last Monday, hosted by Chelle from Tales of Yesterday as I was busy watching a pantomime. I Storified it, though!

Also on Teens, fab 5-4-3-2-1 with Candy Harper!

And I wrote some Sporcle quizzes - one on YA/MG releases of last year and one on children's classics.

I discovered xCrini's amazing spreadsheet which I'm using to keep track of my books read in 2016.

And on that note, finally, we'll continue to update our spreadsheet with reviews as they come in for 2015 releases, but as of today British bloggers have written well over 1600 reviews for books which came out here last year - WOW!! A massive, massive thank you to Debbie for doing nearly all of the work on it. And here's the one for 2016!

Friday, 1 January 2016

New Year New Focus

So 2015 was a strange year in many ways. There were things I struggled with (thankfully nothing especially major, just a seemingly constant build-up of comparatively minor things which got to me at various points.) But it was also a year which, in many ways, was a brilliant one. I made some great new friends, got to know some wonderful people who I'd met the previous year a lot better, started running Teens on Moon Lane, and had countless fantastic evenings/afternoons out.

I also hit my 5th blogoversary here last week, and the combination of that and the new year has got me thinking about the answer to a question quite a few people have asked me "So what's the point of you having YA Yeah Yeah and Teens on Moon Lane?" 

It's a good question and I've been struggling to find the answer at times, and have considered giving this up more than once. However, while I've let YA Contemporary and Young Adult TV disappear, I'd be sad to see this go because it was the first blog I started and blogging has played such a massive part in my life over the last 5 years. Plus, there are some books it's not really appropriate to talk about on Teens on Moon Lane - Leah Raeder's novels, for example, are some of my favourites recently but the subject matter means I can't really recommend them on a site tied to a children's bookshop. In addition, it seems strange talking about US books with no UK publisher there, and there are a LOT of US books I want to import this year. (Partly because they seem to be ahead of UK publishers when it comes to representation of asexuality, which is close to my heart!)

So I think that I'll keep this blog for some bookish things - US books and adult novels, in particular - but I'll also branch out a bit. I've been really impressed by the way my friend Faye at A Daydreamer's Thoughts has changed her blog to be a lifestyle blog, still including great bookish content but also having other things there as well. I may post some brief theatre and film reviews, as it's hopefully going to be a year where I see a lot of great things, and I'm tempted to look at things like the links feature I tried a couple of months back. Then again, I might not.

Because one of the hardest things to learn in five years of blogging has been really, the most important thing about it to me is that I'm doing something that makes my life better. As I said, blogging has played a huge part in my life over the last 5 years, I think the vast majority of people I consider close friends are people I met through blogging/Twitter/book events, and I will forever be grateful to past-me for starting a blog on Boxing Day 2010. But I also know that I've felt pressured (nearly always by myself!) at times over those 5 years and it's caused me problems, so this is going to be a year of zero pressure blogging on this site. If I have something to post, I'll post it. If I don't, I won't. I've got some cool features I want to run, but I think I'll be posting them at times which suit me and the authors/publicists I'm talking to about them, rather than at any particular intervals. I have no idea whether the chilled, relaxed approach will last - but I'm crossing my fingers it does.

Very best wishes for 2016, everyone. Let's hope it's a really amazing year!