Sunday, 31 July 2022

EVENT RECAP: An Evening With Cassandra Clare

You don’t have to look too far around my bookish platforms to know that the Shadowhunter Chronicles are a huge part of my life as a reader. The Mortal Instruments was one of the first series that really pulled me into YA fantasy and encouraged my descent into the online book community. For over a decade, Cassandra Clare’s novels have been a constant for me. 

I’m lucky enough to have met Cassie twice before. The first time was back in 2012 and it was my first ever book signing so I was absolutely petrified. The second time was during the promotion for the City of Bones movie, which was a much bigger event. I had a wonderful time at both events, so when I found out Cassie was returning to the UK this year and visiting a city nearby, I just knew I had to go! 

Chester is one of my fave photography spots

The event took place in the Storyhouse Theatre in Chester, one of my favourite cities. If you ever get a chance to visit, then you’re in for a treat. Before the talk started, I was able to pick up my exclusive copy of City of Gold, which is absolutely gorgeous. 

My seat was quite near to the back, but I still had a perfect view of the stage. There was even an adorable cardboard cutout of the characters featured in The Last Hours, which is the series Cassie was focusing on during this tour. 

The atmosphere was so welcoming, and everyone was making conversation with each other before the talk started. As someone with social anxiety, it’s always great when I’m in an environment I feel relaxed in, and I was able to chat to the people around me. 

The first half of the event was an interview with Cassie, discussing the series and what may possibly happen to the characters in the final book. She also spoke about her inspiration when it came to locations and fashion within the story. 

During the second half, she answered questions submitted from the audience and online viewers. Cassie also spoke a bit about her upcoming adult novel, Sword Catcher. If I wasn’t sold on it before, I definitely am now. Hearing her describe the story left me desperate to read it because the concept sound so fascinating. Needless to say, I’m excited for it to be released! 

After the event, there was an opportunity to take a picture with Cassie in a Covid-safe way, using a book-like structure for The Last Hours, which I absolutely adored! It’s such a fun way to take a memorable picture. We were also given signed bookplates for Chain of Gold. 

I’m so glad I was able to meet Cassie again. I’m just starting to dip my toes back into book events post-pandemic, and this was organised in a way that helped me feel safe and kept my anxiety at bay. Here’s to hoping I get to make it to more events this year!

Monday, 11 July 2022

EVENT RECAP: Wirral Kids Book Fest

On June 5th, us bookworms in the North got to enjoy the first ever Wirral Kids Book Fest, hosted by Bear Hunt Books with the help of Wirral Unplugged. As soon as I found out the festival was happening, I knew I had to sign up as a volunteer! I've never been able to travel to a book festival before, so with one happening right on my doorstep I was determined to help out as much as I could. 

i helped arrange the tables of books we had for sale on the day and of course i created a little Heartstopper section

The festival took place in the fabulous Bloom Building in Birkenhead, with the profits from food and drink bought on the day going to the mental health charities that the building works with. 

The first slot for the day was a reading of Fantastic Frankie by Jess Rose. I was the not-so-glamorous assistant who turned the pages! We then had some activities for the children, alone with some balloon creations for them to play with.

The next event was for Tsunami Girl by Julian Sedgwick, who gave a fascinating talk about the place and people that inspired the story. I also ended up being the person who volunteered for his little trick at the end! The talk got me super interested in the story so I purchased a copy of the book and got it signed afterwards.

The next event for the day was a joint talk with Vasti Hardy and James Nicol. They set up a table filled with props that connections to their books, and invited people up to select one. It was fun to hear about what inspired their characters and stories. 

We ended the day with a chat from neurodiverse author Emily Kenny, talking about her debut novel The Extraordinary Adventures of Alice Tonks. There was a fun section at the end for people to create their own hero or villain for a story. 

I'm so glad I decided to volunteer. As anxious as I am, I was less of a mess than I expected to be so I'm proud of myself for being able to help out. It's exciting to finally be having book events close to home, and I can't wait for next year! 

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

EVENT RECAP: An Evening With Simon James Green

From the moment I first picked up Noah Can't Even back in 2017, I've been an avid fan of Simon James Green's novels. I can't recommended them enough to literally every reader I come across. I've said it time and time again, but his books are ones I desperately wish I'd had back when I was in high school, but I'm so happy that teenagers today get that opportunity. 

With how little I manage to travel, I've never been able to make it to any of Simon's events or signings before, so I was over the moon when I found out he'd be stopping by my favourite local bookshop, Bear Hunt Books! I even ended up painting a little window display for the shop to celebrate. 

For the event, we got given a fascinating presentation from Simon that covered a range of LGBTQ+ topics such as a brief history on Section 28 and discussions about how even though we've come a long way, we still have so much more we need to do. We also spoke about the recent pushbacks Simon has faced after being banned from giving a talk at a Catholic school

I got the chance to chat with Simon and get some books signed after the presentation. I showed a lot of restraint and only took three books with me to the event, something my shoulder is immensely thankful for. But I absolutely had to take my beloved copy of Noah Can't Even, and my personal favourite You're The One That I Want, which was my top book of 2021. Simon also kindly signed the tote I painted of the cover last year!

My copy of Gay Club! was already pre-signed signed from the preorder, but it was given the adorable Gay Club stamp!

I had such a fantastic evening and I'm utterly grateful to Simon for being so lovely, and to Bear Hunt Books for making it happen. It was my first book event since pre-pandemic times so it was great to get back out there! 

Bear Hunt Books has signed copies of Simon's books available in store, so pop in if you can!

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

REVIEW: Gay Club! by Simon James Green

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre:  Contemporary
Release Date: May 5th 2022
Buy the Book: Bear Hunt Books

Barney's a shoo-in for his school's LGBTQ+ Society President at the club's next election. But when the vote is opened up to the entire student body, the whole school starts paying attention. How low will the candidates go to win? Buckle up for some serious shade, scandals and sleazy shenanigans. It isn't long before it's National Coming Out Day - for everyone's secrets!

But when the group faces an expected threat - and a big opportunity - can the club members put politics aside and stand united?

Simon James Green is the award-winning author of a number of beloved LGBTQ+ YA novels, including NOAH CAN'T EVEN, HEARTBREAK BOYS and YOU'RE THE ONE THAT I WANT. Perfect for fans of GLEE, HEARTSTOPPER, and BOYFRIEND MATERIAL
Me, here to yell about how much I love the latest Simon James Green novel? Shocking, I know. As someone who is always screaming from the rooftops about how much I adore Simon’s novels, it’s a surprise to absolutely no one that Gay Club! was one of my most anticipated stories of the year. I immediately dropped everything once my copy popped through the letterbox. 

The concept of having a race for the president of an LGBTQ+ society was something that drew me in as soon as I read the blurb, especially since I’m constantly searching for stories that openly discuss the wide range of sexuality and gender labels. Gay Club! gave me everything I was looking for and more.

Our main character, Barney, is the definition of a cinnamon roll. I admired his determination to make everyone feel part of something, and his speeches throughout the story completely warmed my heart. The back and forth between Barney’s competitor, Bronte, and one of his best friends, Maya, provided the lovers-to-enemies-to-reluctantly-working-together trope that I needed. Bronte and Barney’s race for president lead the humour-filled drama in the first half of the story.

Danny Orlando was a particular favourite character of mine. As the popular footballer in the school, I adored his more complicated journey throughout the story and felt so proud of him by the final chapter. He’s a perfect example of how confusing it is to figure out who you are and what you stand for.

  • TWISTS AND TURNS. When I say I couldn’t predict a single thing in this story, I mean it! I genuinely had no idea what wild and hilarious event would occur next.
  • CHARACTERS TO FALL IN LOVE WITH. These characters are going to stay with me for a long time. It’s impossible not to love their friendship group. Where’s my squad who cooks food for each other during weekly movie nights?
  • IMPORTANT MOMENTS. Whilst Gay Club! is filled with the comedy writing we’ve come to expect from Simon, there are scenes that provide a harsh reminder of how far we still have go when it comes to acceptance. There’s a particular scene during a game of football that broke my heart because it’s all too real for so many young queer people.

I can’t stress enough how important stories like this one are in helping young people to feel like they belong. My expectations were high, and yet it still managed to go above and beyond! With such a fun cast of characters and packed full of inspiring messages, Gay Club! is easily my favourite read of the year so far.

Royal Rating:


Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Painting a Heartstopper Window Graphic

How are we all holding up after Heartstopper? Personally, I gave myself a headache from crying on the morning it first aired and I've already done a complete rewatch. I don't have words to describe how important this story is to so many people, and how I wish I'd had it when I was a teenager. If you're interested in my full thoughts, then my discussion video is over on my Booktube Channel

So whilst I was busy sobbing my heart out over how perfect the adaptation was, I got an incredible opportunity from my favourite bookshop, Bear Hunt Books. Last year, I painted the cover for the first Heartstopper graphic novel onto one of my denim jackets and I got an overwhelming amount of love for it on social media. I've since painted a few Heartstopper related things! When the shop reached out to me about painting a window graphic, I was so excited to give it a try.

I could use to help me get the sizing right. I had a huge, paper Nick and Charlie lying on my floor for a week, scaring the life out of unsuspecting family members.

I worked on the window with chunky Posca pens. Although I usually use Posca for detailing on my fabric paint projects, using them on glass was a completely different experience and I definitely panicked that I wouldn't be able to pull it off. But here's the finished result!

I used my templates by sticking them outside and drawing the lines from the inside. I didn't take into account how the thickness of the glass would change the way I'd have to draw, so I winged it a little but I'm super happy with how it looks! 

sitting proudly outside my first window graphic

I absolutely loved getting the opportunity to challenge myself and share some Heartstopper wholesomeness, so a huge thank you to Bear Hunt Books for letting me give it a try. If you happen to be in the area, please pop down and check the place out - be sure to show me any pics! 

Bear Hunt Books is also hosting the Wirral Kids Book Fest on June 5th, with some fantastic author events including a limited workshop with YA writer Cynthia Murphy, so grab yourself a ticket if you can, and I'll see you there!

Thursday, 17 February 2022

REVIEW: If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales & Cale Dietrich

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Hodder Children's
Genre:  Contemporary
Release Date: January 6th 2022
Buy the Book: Book Depository

Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.

On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?

Over the past few years, I have fallen down the rabbit hole that is boyband books. I never used to enjoy them very much, but ever since I discovered KPOP, I’ve been interested in reading books that focus on musical artists and fandom, both the good and ugly side of the industry. So it’s a surprise to absolutely no one that from the second I read the blurb for If This Gets Out, I was desperate to read it.

The book is a split POV between two members of the band Saturday, Ruben and Zack. Ruben is out to his family and friends, but management for the band won’t allow him to be out publicly. He’s dealing with that decision in his own way until his friendship with Zack develops into an unexpected romance, and the two of them are forced to think about their futures as public figures, and how it affects their personal lives.

My favourite character in this book switched every few chapters. I JUST LOVE THEM ALL SO MUCH. I appreciated the contrast in each member’s personality and experiences. Ruben has known he’s gay for a long time and is confident in his sexuality. But Zack has always believed himself to be straight, so his story revolved more around him coming to terms with the fact that he’s attracted to Ruben and might label himself bisexual.

Our other and members, Angel and Jon, are just as loveable in their different ways. Getting to know more about Angel’s troubles and feeling increasingly worried for him was one of the more heartbreaking aspects of the story that had me dreading yet eagerly awaiting the next chapter.

  • FICTIONAL BOY BAND. Need I say more?
  • Discussions about the industry. Saturday is a fictional band, but there are plenty of harsh truths to be found within the pages of this book. The entertainment industry still has a lot of changes to make when it comes to diversity and allowing artists to be true to themselves.
  • Fandom positivity. I’ve read plenty of stories about bands, and a lot of them tend to focus on the negative side of fans. Whilst it’s obviously important to discuss the toxic mindset that can exist amongst a fanbase, it was refreshing to see that the fans within this story weren’t painted in a completely bad light.

This book was such an enjoyable and wholesome read, and I loved getting to know the characters. It also gave us a darker look into the industry and common problems that artists in the public eye must face. I was swept away by Saturday and I loved every second of it!

Royal Rating:

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Worry Tree from Queer Up by Alexis Caught

Hello, my fellow bookworms! Today is my stop of the blog tour for Queer Up by Alexis Caught, a guide for LGBTQ+ and questioning people, as well as those who are curious and want to learn more. I’m so happy to be able to take part in the tour for this wonderful book because it’s packed with stuff that is close to my heart. 

In this empowering and uplifting book, award-winning podcaster Alexis Caught sets out to help queer and curious teenagers explore their LGBTQ+ identity and understanding. Alongside the author's personal experiences are first-hand stories from notable LGBTQ+ figures, providing a inclusive account of what it means to grow up queer. With chapters on questioning, coming out, friends and family, love, sex, shame, pride and allyship, this is insightful, thoughtful and reassuring book is essential reading for any questioning teen and their allies looking to support them. 

The aspect of this book I’m going to be discussing today is an exercise named The Worry Tree, a perfect tool for those of us who find ourselves overthinking and worrying more than what is typical. 

It’s something I talk about frequently on my blog and social media, but I’ve suffered with mental health issues throughout my teens and adulthood. It was something that I didn’t even begin to understand until I saw discussions on social media and realised that the things I was feeling had labels and reasons. I would definitely say that my confusion over sexuality contributed to that in some way. Growing up, I felt like I was the odd one out because I wasn’t following the same sort of paths as my peers. The older I got and the more I learned, I was able to answer some of the questions I’ve always had about my sexuality. Not all of them just yet, but that’s okay. 

The Worry Tree is a tool to help us break our worries up into smaller, more controllable chunks. It’s similar to tasks I was given during my time in CBT, and those tasks helped calm me and feel like I could handle things a bit more. 

I’m so glad I was able to take part in this tour and have the opportunity to read Queer Up. It’s a book that I desperately wish I’d had when I was younger and needed to feel like I belonged. 

Be sure to check out the other wonderful blogs taking part in the tour:

Friday, 15 October 2021

My New Favourite Bookshop: The Opening of Bear Hunt Books

There’s nothing I love more than an indie bookshop. My options for browsing them in store are usually pretty limited unless I’m visiting a major city because there just aren’t enough of them around the country. So I was absolutely thrilled to find out Bear Hunt Books was opening in Bebington, just a twenty-minute walk away from where I live! 

Bear Hunt Books is a Children’s and YA bookshop with a fantastic range of diverse books. As someone who has always been passionate about bringing the best reads to young people, this shop is literally perfect for me! I just had to visit on the opening day last week, which happened to fall on National Bookshop Day. I was blown away by the incredible selection of books available! 

The LGBT shelves are still growing but there’s already so many fantastic stories! I was thrilled to spot some of my faves, like Simon James Green and Alice Oseman books, and was able to discover some exciting new reads as well. 

I’ve been seeking out more graphic novels lately, so I was thrilled that the shop had a shelf dedicated to them. I immediately found one that I knew would be coming home with me. From the YA shelf, I found a book that I’ve had on my TBR list for a while because I’ve seen it in a few Pan Rep recommendation posts, so I’m excited to get started on it! 

we all had a giggle when we realised the sign had come to the shop as gothic novels rather than graphic novels, but it suits spooky season perfectly! 

Also visiting the store on opening day was author Sally Nicholls, who’s book An Island of Our Own was one of my favourites in 2015. Sally kindly signed my beloved ARC copy of the book and I was given some amazing swag for Things a Bright Girl Can Do, which I’m so excited to read!

Even though my area of expertise is always the YA market, I was hugely impressed by the wide range of inclusive books for children of all ages. It’s absolutely the type of shop that young people need – I know I would have loved to have a place like this when I was in school. 

I’m definitely going to be popping in whenever I can. I have a feeling a lot of my future books are going to come from here! If you’re in the area, you absolutely need to drop in and take a look. 

the books and graphic novel that came home with me!

i also got these adorable Heartstopper postcards

Special shoutout to owner Michelle, who was super lovely and welcoming! Thank you for allowing me to photograph your beautiful store.

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