TBR Tuesday: My YALC Reading List

It’s mid-July, and what does that mean? It’s now officially less than two weeks until the annual bookfoolery of the Young Adult Literature Convention, henceforth know simply as YALC. 

Now, last summer was my first time ever visiting YALC, and I didn’t really know what to expect, and basically missed every important thing that happened because I couldn’t stop looking at the books. This year I’d like to be more prepared.

So, in an attempt to get myself ready I’ve made a small list of books that have leapt to the top of my TBR in time for the event.

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“Sorcerer to the Crown” by Zen Cho

“In Regency London, Zacharias Wythe is England’s first African Sorcerer Royal. He leads the eminent Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, but a malicious faction seeks to remove him by fair means or foul. Meanwhile, the Society is failing its vital duty – to keep stable the levels of magic within His Majesty’s lands. The Fairy Court is blocking its supply, straining England’s dangerously declining magical stores. And now the government is demanding to use this scarce resource in its war with France.

Ambitious orphan Prunella Gentleman is desperate to escape the school where she’s drudged all her life, and a visit by the beleaguered Sorcerer Royal seems the perfect opportunity. For Prunella has just stumbled upon English magic’s greatest discovery in centuries – and she intends to make the most of it.

At his wits’ end, the last thing Zachariah needs is a female magical prodigy! But together, they might just change the nature of sorcery, in Britain and beyond.”

 

I’ve heard great things about this book, the first novel in a trilogy. I’m a big fan of ‘The Oversight’ and ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’ and I’m getting similar vibes from this. Also, that cover is gorgeous, which definitely helps.

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‘The Bone Season’ by Samantha Shannon 

A dreamer who can start a revolution

For the past two hundred years the Scion government has led an oppressive campaign against unnaturalness in London.

Clairvoyance in all its forms has been decreed a criminal offence, and those who practise it viciously punished. Forced underground, a clairvoyant underworld has developed, combating persecution and evading capture.

Paige Mahoney, a powerful dreamwalker operating in the Seven Dials district of London, leads a double life, using her unnaturalness illegally while hiding her gift from her father, who works for the Scion regime…”

 

I’ll admit, the first time I read this book I wasn’t exactly its biggest fan. But, a) it’s been three years and b) since then I’ve started reading a lot more YA again, so now is probably the time for a reread. Especially, since I have copies of book two and three.

I can’t actually remember what it is that I disliked from that first read either…

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“The Call’ by Peadar O’Guilin 51npgx4offl

“3 minutes and 4 seconds.

The length of time every teenager is ‘Called’, from the moment they vanish to the moment they reappear.

9 out of 10 children return dead. 

Even the survivors are changed.

The nation must survive.

Nessa, Megan and Anto are at a training school – to give them some chance to fight back. Their enemy is brutal and unforgiving. But Nessa is determined to come back alive. Determined to prove that her polio-twisted legs won’t get her killed.

But her enemies don’t just live in the Grey Land. There are people closer to home who will go to any length to see her, and the nation, fail…”

It should be pretty obvious from the books I read that I LOVE faerie stories, the darker the better, and, honestly, this book sounds exactly like something that I want to read!

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“Strange the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor 

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“The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around – and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

 

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries – including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?”

Yes, I know, how have I not read this already? I’ve had a copy pretty much since release day but it’s so enormous in physical size that I haven’t actually got around to carrying it around with me. I will make a concerted effort to finish this in time, though I’m not feeling particularly optimistic about braving the signing queue!

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One author who I am entirely up to date for is the wonderful, incredible V E Schwab. I met her twice last year, once at YALC and once at a Waterstones event and she is honestly one of the loveliest people. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get my copies of ‘Our Dark Duet’ and ‘A Conjuring of Light’ signed this year!

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Are any of you lot planning to go to YALC this year? If so, who are you most excited to see?


 

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Friday Feelings

The one thing I’ve noticed whilst looking back through my archive is that I’ve never really posted anything more personal, or personable. I’d like to start posting more than reviews, so consider this my first foray.

This week has been a bit weird, to be honest. I got the phone call last night to say that my grandma had died, and I’ve nowhere near processed that yet, so I’m going to find some solace in books and the beach this weekend.

Currently, as part of my final placement for medical school, I’m working on a tiny archipelago of islands off the North of Scotland. It’s pretty unusual to not feel as if you’re being blown off your feet…it’s also pretty unusual to leave the house in anything other than a waterproof jacket. It is, however, ridiculously beautiful. I went for a run today down by the beach and the water was so clear that you could see the seabed from the end of the pier, a rarity when it comes to Atlantic waters. The splendid isolation has meant that I’ve managed to get at lot of reading done, and, also, a lot of writing.

It’s pretty unlikely that any of you know about my writing, I tend to keep quiet about it around anyone other than my beta. That’s not because I don’t want to talk about it, I’m just at the stage of my manuscript where talking about it takes away from actual time that could be spent editing it. I will say a couple of things: it’s enormous, four POVs, sitting at about 180k words; it’s high fantasy, because who can help writing about mages, but also very character driven (and incredibly queer).  The one thing that I realised whilst writing it, is that I just can’t understand the mentality of writers who think that diversity is ‘forced’. If your eyes and heart are open to the world that you live in and the people in it, writing a book with characters of different races, genders, sexualities and health needs is never ‘forced’.

Currently Reading

  1. Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

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I actually finished this book just before I started writing this post, but I’m still working out my thoughts for a formal review. One of the initial reasons I picked it up, apart from the plot which is an awesome mix of ghouls, blood magic and classical alchemy, is the rarity of non-eurocentric fantasy written by a POC author. I’ve read ‘fantasy Middle Eastern’ novels in the past written by people without Middle Eastern heritage which have just left a bad taste in my mouth. Saladin Ahmed is, by his own definition, Arab American and it was really awesome to read a fantasy that was respectful to the culture it drew upon. I’ll definitely by picking up other media written by him in the future!

2. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

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I’m on a bit of an epic fantasy binge at the moment. I’d had this book sitting on my kindle for a while, slightly daunted by the sheer size and density of it, but decided to pick it up on a whim after finishing ACOTAR last week. It’s very different to what I expected, much more political and keeping more of a distance from the characters than some of the YA books I’ve been reading recently. It tells the story of the displaced peoples of Lumatere, a land that has been magically sealed by a powerful curse, and their struggle to break the spell on their homeland. I can imagine that it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s beautiful and painful but very slow.

3. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Tor, whose short stories are my go to for cerebral sci-fi and fantasy, were giving away this novella for free earlier this week, and I’d heard great things about it even before that. I am not disappointed…at all. The novella deals with a school that has become the safe haven for children and young adults who have returned from faerie and found themselves increasingly lost and disillusioned in the ‘real world’. I haven’t read that much yet, but already I’ve fallen in love with the writing style and our protagonist.

Currently Watching

I’m one of those people that’s really rubbish at finishing TV series or sitting through movies, which is hilarious because I often read books in one sitting. Two series that have managed to keep my attention currently are ‘The Expanse’ (S1), which is giving me all the nostalgic Battlestar Galactica emotions, and ‘Attack on Titan’ (SNK, S1), which somehow I never ended up watching until now…yeah, I don’t understand either.

I’m also permanently watching ‘Critical Role’ between the new episodes and my current watch through from the beginning (I’m on episode 20). It always reminds me that I need to find a D&D group I can actually play in, rather than being perma-DM. It’s a sad fact that I’ve never played D&D as anything other than the Dungeon Master…I want to play as the Elf Ranger I’ve meticulously built a backstory for, oops.

Currently Playing

Sadly, my Xbox, with my copy of ‘Mass Effect: Andromeda’ and my beautiful alien girlfriend, is a good 1000 km away right now. Whilst away from home, I’ve been playing ‘Baldur’s Gate’ on my laptop, which I’ve been really enjoying. It’s a huge jump from the graphics of ME:A to the near pixel art of BG, but the story’s so good that I’ve barely noticed to be honest.

Coming Up

So, in the next month I’ve got some cool stuff coming up. Look out for an interview with a Elise Kova that I’ll be posting towards the end of the month, and another cover reveal that I’m very excited about.

There’s also be some reviews for much anticipated May releases and the answers to a  tag that I’ve been nominated to do.

As always, if you have any queries or suggestions for content you’d like to see more of, the blog contact form and my email are always open.