Tuesday, 20 November 2018

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Why We Need to Support UKYA & MG Authors of Colour

Why We Need to Support UKYA & MG Authors of Colour

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu MandannaBear with me, this is going to be a long one. Today, I want to talk about something I feel is incredibly important; how readers of UKYA & MG should support our authors of colour. When it comes to diversity, although the US still has quite a way to go, the UK is very far behind. A lot of the diverse books published in the UK? They're books written by US authors. In 2017, CLPE launched a study, Reflecting Realities - A Survey of Ethnic Representation within UK Children’s Literature 2017, which found that only 1% of children's books in 2017 featured a BAME character. The study looks at all children's books, not just YA & MG, and it doesn't say how many of that 1% of books were written by BAME authors, but you can bet that some of those authors, if not the majority, were white.
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Monday, 19 November 2018

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Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan (eProof)


Published:
6th November 2018 | Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Natasha Ngan's Website

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honor they could hope for...and the most cruel.

But this year, there's a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after--the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king's interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king's consort. But Lei isn't content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable--she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.

Natasha Ngan's lyrical, searing, visceral fantasy, Girls of Paper and Fire, will remind us how precious freedom is--and the price we must pay to achieve it.
From Goodreads.

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Trigger Warning: This book features kidnap, sex trafficking, sexual assault, rape, violence, sex shaming, and animal cruelty.
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Friday, 16 November 2018

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How Blogging Has Changed My Reading

How Blogging Has Changed My Reading

Today, inspired by Laura of Boats Against the Current's post, Has Blogging Changed Your Reading Habits?, I thought I would share with you guys how becoming a book blogger has changed reading for me.

I Read More

Before blogging, most of the time, I read books belonging to my Dad, as it's through his high fantasy books that I discovered reading, and he let me borrow whatever I wanted - but he only had so many book, and I didn't like the sound of everything he has. Then I discovered urban fantasy, and would be buying books as I discovered them, and when I could afford them. But then I became a book blogger, and after a while, started getting sent ARCs pretty regularly. There was no more waiting until I had money to buy a new book, I had books to choose from whenever I finished a book.

I Read Faster

Since becoming a book blogger, I've definitely found that, on the whole, I read faster. Before blogging, reading for pleasure was just that. While I still read for pleasure now, I also review everything I read, so I'm conscious of how long it's taking me to read something, and may choose to read over other activities I enjoy in order to have the book finished in time to review it. Whereas before, finishing a book just meant I finished it; there was no rush to finish a book, and I would take more time reading.

I also think reading more has generally made me quicker at reading, almost like a skill - you do something often enough, you get better at it. I'm by no means a hugely fast reader - it can take me about three days to read an average sized book - but it's faster than I used to read. I read more in an hour now than I did before.

It might sound like I force myself to read, but I don't, and I actually enjoy that I get through book quicker now, as it means I get to read many more books sooner.

My TBR Has Grown

To epic proportions. I may read faster now than I did before blogging, but I don't read quite as fast enough to keep on top of my TBR. But it's not just down to ARCs.

Being a blogger introduced me to the book blogging community, and we're always sharing reviews on our blogs, or recommendations on social media. I'm more aware now of the books available, and of what might interest me. This is also down to being a children's bookseller. And being a bookseller, I get staff discount, and so I end up buying so many more books now than I used to.

I Read YA

As I said at the beginning of the post, I used to only read high fantasy, and then urban fantasy, too, from any age category. But becoming part of the book blogging community, I soon discovered YA outside of urban fantasy, and it's now what I read most. I love that I discovered YA, because I now read from so many different genres, and while I'll always love high fantasy, and it will always feel like home, I have discovered so many different kinds of books that I adore. Contemporary, romance, thrillers, and many more. Being a book blogger has broadened my horizons when it comes to the scope of what I read.

I Read Diverse Books

Speaking of broadening my horizons, I read more diverse books now. I'm pretty sure I didn't read any diverse books before becoming a book blogger, or even very many in the first few years of blogging. Because of my privilege, it just wasn't something I was even conscious of. I didn't pay attention. But now, it's something I'm very aware of, and I now actively seek out diverse book. Not only do I seek it out, I also keep track of how they are diverse, and also set myself diverse reading goal. The majority of the books I read now either feature marginalised protagonists, are by marginalised authors, or - and more likely - both.

I Read Some Non-Fiction

Through book blogging, and reading the various books I am now aware of and have access to, I have discovered feminism (thank you, Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill). Wanting to educate myself more on the things I've been reading about, I've started to read feminist non-fiction, and learning more about intersectional feminism, I've also been looking at non-fic to help me understand the experiences of marginalised women and non-binary people, like Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, Cut by Hibo Wardere, Trans Britain by Christine Burns, and so on.

I don't generally enjoy non-fiction, so I don't read it too often. Fiction is where my home is and what I enjoy, so if I'm not in the right mood for non-fic, I just don't take it in. But when I am in the right mood, non-fic has opened my eyes and I've learnt so much. But I still have so much to learn, so I keep adding to my non-fic TBR so they're there when I'm able to read them.

I Have an eReader

...and read eBooks. Go back a few years, and I would have said I will never have an eReader. I was all for physical books, and eBooks would never match up. But when authors would start publishing short stories as part of a series as eBooks only, and I don't like reading books on my computer or phone. So I had to get an eReader. And then I discovered NetGalley, and even more books were available for me to review for free. Part of the reason I read much faster now is that I have an eReader. I get through eBooks much faster than I do physical books, I think it has something to do with just pressing a button over actually turning a page. And due to my monstrous physical TBR, where available, I now request books on NetGalley over physical ARCs because I'm running out of space. And although in general I do prefer physical books, I really do love my eReader. It makes things so much easier.

So that's how book blogging has changed my reading! Now over to you? How has your reading changed since becoming a book blogger/booktuber/bookstagramer? Or, if you're a reader/viewer instead, how has reading/watching book blogs, booktube and/or bookstagram changed your reading?

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Tuesday, 13 November 2018

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Let's Talk Bookish Swag

Let's Talk Bookish Swag

One of the really awesome things that has come of being a book blogger for nine years and a children's bookseller for six is that I get sent swag, made to help promote and create buzz around books being published. Over the years, I have acquired quite a larges collection of bookish swag, and thought today I'd discuss the various kinds of swag, and my opinions of them!

Tote Bags

Five tote bags, two black, one navy, one red and one natural

Who doesn't love a tote bag?! I have to say, tote bags are probably my favourite. They're just so handy and useful! And I have so many! Here are just a few I have, but I have loads. I have a bag full of tote bags. Most of them come to me through being a bookseller, but I get a few as a book blogger. I do love them!
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Monday, 12 November 2018

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Review: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Broken Things by Lauren OliverNetGalleyBroken Things by Lauren Oliver (eProof) - It’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods.

Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.

The only thing is: they didn’t do it.

On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous.
From Goodreads.

Trigger Warning: This book features animal cruelty, discussion of violent murder, discussion of bad experiences in foster care, implies - though doesn't outright show or say - child abuse.
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Friday, 9 November 2018

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Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah HarknessA Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (Bought) - Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew in the stunning first volume of the No.1 internationally bestselling ALL SOULS trilogy.

A world of witches, daemons and vampires. A manuscript which holds the secrets of their past and the key to their future. Diana and Matthew - the forbidden love at the heart of it.

When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it's an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she's kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana's discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire geneticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels...
From Goodreads.
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Tuesday, 6 November 2018

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On YA Books, the Teen Audience, and Reading YA as an Adult

On YA Books, the Teenager Audience, and Reading YA as an Adult

Trigger Warning: In this post, I mention my sexual assault.

Today I want to discuss a few things inspired by a blog post by Vicky of Vicky Who Reads, The May Ways YA Books & The Community Isolate Teens. It's a really important post that I feel anyone who reads YA as an adult, or who works in the publishing industry, or writes "for" teens* should read. For the most part, Vicky talks about how teenagers - who YA is aimed at - do not have a lot of money to spend on books, so when it comes to what books are published, based on what sells, it's the adult YA readers who have control of that, because it's adult YA readers who have the money to spend. And what sells tends to be YA with older YA characters, or characters who act like adults with a YA story. This means that Vicky, and other teens, while they enjoy these books, they don't feel they necessarily reflect teen experiences or represent teens. It also means that there are fewer books for those teen readers who are around 13, because most YA tends to feature older teens, and they're not so interesting for younger teens. Vicky herself spent about two years not reading because she didn't feel there were any YA books that about younger teens. It's a really interesting and thought-provoking post, and I really recommend reading it, especially before continuing reading this post.
Continue reading On YA Books, the Teen Audience, and Reading YA as an Adult