Mr B’s Delightful Reading Spa

On Friday, I visited Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath. I took my sister to Bath and Mr B’s as a little treat and purchased a reading spa for us both!

Images of the shop

Pictures from the shop as seen on the shop’s website. Click on the image to get to Mr B’s website!

 Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights opened in June 2006 after the owners Nic and Juliette Bottomley fancied a career change- from lawyers to independent booksellers. This was a fantastic (and brave) choice. I can truly say that Mr B’s is an absolutely beautiful shop. It’s relaxing, appealing, packed full of books and has incredibly knowledgeable and welcoming staff.

Mr B’s shop is quirky. It’s got a rentable reading booth where readers can rent their own little space to have some quality reading time. There’s a beautiful bibliotherapy room. We all need some bibliotherapy and Mr B’s is a fantastic place to undergo bookish therapy! I loved the wall papered with comics and the bookshelves that seemed so personal. There’s even free tea and coffee for customers.

It’s no surprise then, that Mr B’s has twice been named the UK’s Independent Bookshop of the Year (2008/2011)

Mr B’s has more than just beautiful books. They have blogs, book groups, events, book recommendation lists and gifts for us bibliophiles. Check out their website (linked in the image below) for just an idea of what they do. It’s incredible!

As I mentioned, I purchased two Reading Spas for my sister Beth and I.  We met with the lovely Emma, who chatted to us about our bookish likes and dislikes over a cup of tea. She then disappeared off and found us a wonderful mountain of books to look through. Emma knew so much about each book she was recommended and sold them beautifully to us. We seriously wanted to buy THEM ALL. She then left us in some very comfy chairs to look through the stack and make some decisions about what beauties we were going to take away.  Luckily for us, Emma is going to email us the titles of the rest of the books!

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Here is the damage… but the oh so pretty damage. We also received bookmarks and Mr B mugs.

I absolutely loved my experience at Mr B’s. I’ll certainly be revisiting! I will be recommending this beautiful shop to many!

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The YALC Experience 12-13 July 2014

Photo credit: @Guardianbooks on twitter

Photo credit: @Guardianbooks on twitter

I was lucky enough to attend the first Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) in London this weekend.

This was my first experience at a convention/conference and it certainly WAS an experience. It was quite strange to be at an event within a massively popular event. YALC took place within the London Film and Comic Con which I’m sure a lot of you will be aware is massively popular. So amongst the bookish people, I found myself surrounded by some fabulous costumes including Spiderman, Poison Ivy, Elsa, Dobby and many, many more crazy costumes. I was impressed with how creative some people got.

Day 1

There were far too many people though and it was absolutely baking inside. Oh my goodness. 

Where the hell are the books?!

Despite being crowded there were a lot of things to see, and when I finally got in despite having an Early Bird ticket, my sister and I could NOT find the Book area. We got there at the end. Us bookish folk were shoved to the back, but that’s okay, because I was surrounded by books and my kind of people. I also got tickets for the panel that I wanted that day. Woohoo.

Ooh, I found the pretties!

Photo credit: @YALC_UK on twitter

Photo credit: @YALC_UK on twitter

The set up of YALC was lovely. Books everywhere and plenty of opportunities for those to pick up swag like badges, bookmarks, pens, wristbands etc. I loved that Hot Key Books arranged a book swap. Book lovers could swap one book for another. There were also plenty of places to purchase books from authors appearing at YALC and many more books.

The First Panel

The panel I went to on Day 1 was The End of the World as we Know it: The Ongoing Appeal of Dystopia. This panel included Malorie Blackman, Patrick Ness and Sarah Crossan. Malorie introduced YALC in Klingon and in costume. Of course. There’s no other way when at LFCC.  I felt like this panel was incredibly interesting and brought up some fantastic comments about Dystopia. We learned that no author on the panel really wanted to write a Utopian novel…because where’s the fun in that? I think some very valid points were made about how readers look for escapism in their reading and how it’s interesting to believe that in a world that’s turned crappy, that there’s a glimmer of hope somewhere.

Signings

I have to admit, I didn’t have a good experience with the signings.  I don’t think it helped that the authors I really wanted to see were the hugely popular and wonderful Malorie Blackman and Patrick Ness. I queued with my sister for an hour for Malorie Blackman, only for our line to be cut and be told that Malorie had to attend a talk 😦 Not her fault, but lots of fans were left disappointed. We gave up with Patrick Ness, just too many people and too little time for singings. We weren’t too disheartened though. We had had an amazing time.

I also loved catching up again with some lovely friends and spotting the bloggers I knew of, but I was too shy too approach.

Day 2- The day of 3 panels after another. Because…why not?

Trying to keep this day short and snappy, because I’ve wittered on a lot already and who knows if you’re even reading this far. Well done if you are! 😉

The queuing…

  • We got in much quicker. Yay, us!
  • It was less packed. I could breathe. Always a bonus.

I book swapped…

  • I managed to swap some books I’m not going to re-read and once I went back to the stand I had noticed they had gone. It gave me a really happy buzz to know that some book lover was going to enjoy my pristine condition books.

The three panels…

  1. The first panel was I’m Too Sexy For This Book with Cat Clarke, Non Pratt and Beth Reekles, chaired by the newly crowned Queen of Teen, James Dawson. This panel was incredibly funny. It’s the first time I’ve seen all of these authors and they just made me howl with laughter. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the phrase ‘sexy time’ used so much. The panel spoke about sex within YA. It was hilarious. The tone was er… pretty low and there were innuendos flying everywhere. Everyone seemed to be loving the panel. It certainly was a highlight of the panels I saw. Despite the hilarity, some important points were covered and covered sensitively by this panel of talented writers and the chair. Taboo seemed to come up a lot and how sex in YA can often stop school libraries stocking the book. It certainly made me reflect.
  2. Next up was Crossover-Not Just For Kids with Matt Haig, Meg Rosoff, Anthony McGowen and Nick Lake. It was chaired by David Maybury. He didn’t quite have control over the panel, but it wasn’t surprising with the rowdy bunch of authors he had! 😉 What I found fascinating about this panel was that no-one could really define what crossover was. I think Nick Lake made an interesting point when he said young adult readers are much more open-minded about genres. I completely agree and think that this is such a positive thing for the genre, if we can call Young Adult a genre. Sometimes adult readers can get stuck in one genre and never broaden their horizons. I know, I used to just read one genre…
  3. The last panel for me was Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves with Holly Smale, Julie Mayhew, Isobel Harrop and Tanya Byrne chaired by Sarra Manning. I absolutely loved this panel. I think they all come up with such interesting points. All of these writers are YA writers, but their books are very different. It was intriguing to see how they came to write their heroine. I think Holly Smale made a good point about wanting to create a character that does have flaws. It is SO important for readers to know their literary heroines make mistakes too. She also made such a good point about courage and courage not always being a physical thing, but for some, stepping out of their comfort zone is courageous. I totally agree. Last time I saw Holly talk, I found her quite inspirational and this hasn’t changed. I also loved that Julie Mayhew made the point that characters don’t always have to be likeable and that’s okay. For Julie as an author, as many authors I imagine, the most important thing is the character provokes a reaction. I completely agree with this. I often find myself not liking a character and I never see this as a negative thing.  

With that, my sister and I decided to head off. I had a long journey home and I have work tomorrow! I went home with some lovely new books, a fantastic experience, some good laughs and a wonderful weekend spent with my bookish sister and like-minded people.

RHCP Summer Blogger Brunch

Yesterday I attended Random House Children’s Publishers summer blogger brunch at Random House’s lovely offices in Pimlico alongside many other wonderful bloggers. This is the first time I’ve met up with fellow bloggers and I have to say, they were all absolutely lovely. It’s nice to be around so many like-minded people that don’t judge you for your bookish habits/obsessions!

The first thing we did was to help film Lauren Kate’s UK book trailer. Her book Teardrop is coming out in November. We had to write down the last thing that made us cry on a card. Luckily (for me) we were able to hide our faces as we were photographed. I can’t wait to see the result of this video. I’m also looking forward to reading Teardrop. I haven’t read any Lauren Kate books before so I’m intrigued…

Unfortunately Beth Reekles was unwell, so couldn’t attend as guest speaker. We did have her lovely editor Lauren Buckland to answer some questions and discuss Wattpad and Movellas. It was incredibly interesting.

The RHCP team told us about a few upcoming releases. All of which sound fabulous! I’ve highlighted the top five that I’m particularly looking forward to. (Click on the book image to take you to the Goodreads page, an easy way to add it to your TBR pile 😉 )

Far Far Away Tom McNeal

Published 4th July 2013

Published 4th July 2013

In a small town where nothing ever happens, everything is about to change..

Jeremy can hear voices. But when he admits this, the townspeople of Never Better treat him like an outsider. Life has been tough after his mother left and his father became a reculuse, but one voice in particular proves his salvation: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm. Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next.

But when a provocative local girl Ginger takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a heartbreaking chain of events is put into motion. As anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings..

Hurt- Tabitha Suzuma

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Published 5th September 2013

A new thrilling, emotional novel for teenagers from award-winning author, Tabitha Suzuma.

At seventeen, Matheo Walsh is Britain’s most promising diving champion. He is wealthy, popular- and there’s Lola, the girlfriend of his dreams.

But then there was that weekend. A weekend he cannot bring himself to remember. All he knows is that what happened has changed him.

Matheo is faced with the most devastating choice of his life. Keep his secret, and put those closest to him in terrible danger. Or confess, and lose Lola forever.

Stay Where You Are And Then Leave- John Boyne

Published 26th September 2013

Published 26th September 2013

From the bestselling author of THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS comes a moving and uplifting story of an ordinary boy’s search for his missing father during the First World War.

The day the First World War broke out, Alfie Summerfield’s father promised he wouldn’t go away to fight- but he broke that promise the following day. Four years later, Alfie doesn’t know where his father might be, other than that he’s away on a special, secret mission.

Then, while shining shoes at King’s Cross Station, Alfie unexpectedly sees his father’s name-on a sheaf of papers belonging to a military doctor. Bewildered and confused, Alfie realises his father is in a hospital close by- a hospital treating soldiers with an unusual condition. Alfie is determined to rescue his father from this strange, unnerving place..

Blackberry Blue- Jamila Gavin

9781848531062

Published 7th November 2013

Step into a magical world of enchanted forests, talking animals and wicked witches….A breathtaking collection of six brand-new fairytales by award-winning author Jamila Gavin.

Here are six magical stories to thrill and enchant you. Watch Blackberry Blue rise from the bramble patch; follow Emeka the pathfinder on his mission to sava a lost king: join Princess Desire as she gallops across the Milky Way on her jet-black horse.

These beautifully written and original stories will delight readers of all ages, and the stunning illustrations by Richard Collingridge will take your breath away.

The Ransom of Dond- Siobhan Dowd

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Published 7th November 2013

A previously unseen story by acclaimed, multi-award winning author Siobhan Dowd, with exquisite artwork by Pam Smy.

She’d known from the day she learned to walk what destiny awaited her.

Wonderfully atmospheric, this is the haunting story of Darra-who, as the thirteenth child to be born to her mither, is destined to be sacrificed to Dond, the dark god of the underworld. On the day she turns thirteen she’ll be rowed out to sea, where she will leap overboard with a rock tied to her ankle. She can’t think of a worse birthday present.

As ever, Siobhan Dowd’s compelling prose swells with emotion from the first page.

I’m so excited about these new releases and I can’t wait to get my hands upon a copy! Every blogger at the event was also given a goody bag with Cross My Heart by Carmen Reid, Rolling Dice by Beth Reekles and Teardrop by Lauren Kate amongst other goodies. I can’t wait to get stuck into these books.

The summer blogger’s brunch was a pleasure to attend. I loved meeting the RHCP team who are delightful and other lovely book bloggers.

Hay Festival 2013

Click on the image to learn more about Hay Festival!

Click on the image to learn more about Hay Festival!

I’m just back from Hay Festival! I had such a good time that I decided to do a little blog post about it. Hay Festival is a Literature and Arts festival which runs every year. It brings together writers, film-makers, historians, novelists, philosophers, poets and at night comedians and musicians. Hay is described as “a magical book town in the Black Mountains of the Brecon Beacons National Park.” It was absolutely beautiful and I was in my element surrounded by books, authors and like-minded people. This year was my ‘taster’ session so I didn’t spend long there, but I hope to rectify that next year!

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I went to Hay with my sister Bibliobeth. Our journey did not start so well, with our coach being hit by something on the motorway, which left its exhaust hanging off and left us waiting to see if it was safe to continue onto Newport. Luckily it was and on we went.

Can you spy Newport?

Can you spy Newport?

After a very long journey we arrived at our accommodation for the night. Which was lovely… even if the weather wasn’t so lovely.

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We were greeted with warm cheese and potato pie and biscuits. Lovely!

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The festival was brilliant. We had booked two talks which were 3 of the Waterstones 11 debut novelists chaired by Chris White who is on the panel at Waterstones to pick the 11 promising debuts of the year. We decided to go to this talk because we’re reading and reviewing the Waterstones 11 debut novels. The second talk was a Geektastic talk from Holly Smale and Andy Robb.

I really enjoyed the Waterstones 11 debut novels talk. The authors were Gavin Extence (The Universe Versus Alex Woods- review HERE), Kevin Maher (The Fields- review HERE) and Taiye Selasi (Ghana Must Go, see Bibliobeth’s review HERE). It was interesting to hear about how they came up with the ideas, their writing methods, how they got published and lots more besides. All of the authors were extremely likeable and their personalities really shone through. I definitely saw a bit of Alex Woods in Gavin Extence.

Next up was the Geek Fest as I like to call it. Holly Smale (Geek Girl, review HERE) and Andy Robb (Geekhood series) discussed their books and what the definition of geek actually is. This talk was particularly interactive with the audience which was great. Holly and Andy were really lovely. I certainly would have picked up Geek Girl if I hadn’t have already read it. There were more questions to the authors and some friendly debate about the likability of The Big Bang Theory. I thought Holly said some inspiring statements about being who you are and becoming comfortable in your own skin, liking what you like regardless of what other people think of you or label you as. It earned her a round of applause which was very well deserved!

After a wander around the festival (including a lot of time spent in the festival’s bookshop) we went into Hay to explore the bookshops. There are LOADS which are all packed with books, books and more books at very cheap/reasonable prices. We, of course, picked up some books and then made our way home.

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I can’t wait to arrange to spend more time at Hay next year. It was so much fun!