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Top 5 Feminist YA by Holly Bourne, author of Am I Normal Yet?

42 Am I Normal Yet - Front cover




Am I Normal Yet? is the first book in a trilogy about a group of girls who set up their own feminist campaign group called ‘The Spinster Club’. I think YA gets a bad rep when it comes to feminism. So many people keep bleating out the dreaded words ‘Bella’ and ‘Swan’ – like Twilight isn’t a) TEN years old, and b) Not the only YA book out there. In fact, YA have LOADS of incredibly feminist books, and here are my top 5.

1) The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Most people know E C Lockhart for her haunting We Were Liars, but I have to say I actually preferred this book. Frankie is very much in love with her new boyfriend, but she can’t understand why she isn’t allowed into his secret boys-only club at their top private school. So she infiltrates it…

Why it rocks:
Frankie is the very definition of ‘kick-ass’ – you spend the entire book wishing you could be her. This book has incredible insight into the thirst of power, the complexities and contradictions of being a teen feminist who also wants a boyfriend. A top-notch quirky teen feminism manifesto!

Favourite quote: “It is better to be alone, she figures, than to be with someone who can’t see who you are. It is better to lead than to follow. It is better to speak up than stay silent. It is better to open doors than to shut them on people.”

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Guest Post Uncategorized

Q&A with Sarah Odedina

I’m very happy to be able to welcome Sarah Odedina to the blog today, talking about her new job at One World Publishing.

You’ve been a part of the publishing industry for a long time now. What first drew you to editing, and how do you view your role?

Before I started work as an editor I worked in the rights department of a couple of publishers.  My job was basically to sell books to foreign publishers who would publish them in translation.  I loved meeting people from lots of different places and finding out not only what they liked but what they thought would work for their market in terms of foreign books published in translation.  I wasn’t a particularly avid reader as a child (actually that is probably an understatement) but when I was a teenager and later went to University I really got bitten by the reading bug and began to read voraciously.  I wanted to work in publishing because I thought – quite rightly – that it would give me access to lots of books to read.  After working selling children’s rights for a few years I realised that books for young readers were not the dry and rather ‘vitamin enriched good for you’ texts that I had to read when I was young.  The area was really growing and writers like Jean Ure and Jacqueline Wilson, Debi Gliori and Jane Ray were revolutionising what was available for young people to read.  When the opportunity came up to work at Bloomsbury looking after the children’s list there, which did mean starting my commissioning life in publishing, I leapt at the chance.  I was pretty nervous as I had never actually edited a book before but I felt I knew and still know what makes a book work.  I felt that as a reader I could tell if a character didn’t ring true or the dialogue was slow or the plot wasn’t logical and in the end that is basically what an editor does – they point out things like that to authors who have a think about the comments and then decide how they are going to respond.    It is an exciting role.  I have the best job in publishing.  I get to talk to authors, listen to their ideas and then help bring those ideas to life.  I also get to work with designers on jackets and create a look for the book which we hope will attract and entice readers,   with sales on making sure that booksellers know the best points of the book to help them sell the book, and with rights who will be showing the book to foreign publishers.  It is quite a pivotal role in terms of the business, but basically the publishing business is a commercial game of pass the parcel from the author all the way to the hands of the reader.

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Guest Post

Samantha Shannon on the BBC YWA

bbcnssa2014_prizesWhen I was fifteen years old, I started my first novel. It wasn’t a particularly good novel, and fortunately it was never published — but it was a product of my uncontrollable need to write. I was lucky enough to discover my passion at an early age, and I wrote around every obstacle that stood in the way of my pursuit of it: GCSEs, A-Levels, UCAS applications, stress, and the need for human teenagers to get some sleep every once in a while. It wasn’t until I was nineteen, several years later, that I wrote ‘The Bone Season’, which was published in 2013. Although that first book never saw the light of day, it taught me a lot about how to fit writing in to my life, how to format a manuscript, and how to tell a story.


This year, the BBC and reading charity Booktrust have teamed up to create the BBC Young Writer Award to seek out young writers with a passion for their craft, whether they’ve been writing for years or have never put pen to paper before. If you’re a writer aged 14 to 18 and living in the UK, this is a fantastic opportunity to get your work read to the whole nation on BBC Radio 1. All you have to do is send in a short story of up to 1000 words on any subject. Entries will be judged by presenter Alice Levine, author Matt Haig, and me. As a judge, I will be looking for experimentation and courage in the entries — whether that’s in the mixing of genres, unconventional styles and voices, or an original and unpredictable plot. Here are four tips to help you get started.


  1. Don’t be afraid. It can be daunting to look at an empty Word document or a blank page, but think of it as an exciting prospect. This is raw material to be shaped purely with your imagination. You can create absolutely anything on this canvas.


  1. Make time. As an author, you often hear “I’d love to write, but I don’t have time”. If you really want to write, you’ll find time here and there. Whether it’s scribbling a sentence in your lunch break or squeezing in a couple of paragraphs before you sleep, there will be moments in your day when you can set pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard.


  1. It’s not too weird. Books are doorways to new worlds, new ideas, new ways of thinking. You don’t have to confine yourself to what’s been done before.


  1. And finally, trust your gut. Literature is incredibly subjective; there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to tell a story. Constructive criticism is great, and you might want to share your writing with someone to get an opinion on it — but remember, it’s your story, and nobody can tell it like you can. Follow your own instinct first.


samanthashannon_200_200The deadline for entries is 5pm (GMT), Wednesday 25 February 2015. For more information about the BBC Young Writers Award, please visit –

Blog Tour Guest Post UKYA Uncategorized

Keren David on UKYA Extravaganza | Guest Post

Blog Tour Button Picture

First it was a conversation on Twitter about why American YA books were higher profile than British ones. A hashtag was born – #UKYA. A website followed, and then the magnificent bloggers got on board.  #UKYAchat (thank you Lucy!) trended on Twitter.

There were new blogs, count downs, special projects. Last year there was YALC, which wasn’t strictly UKYA, but featured many British authors. The Bookseller has set up a new prize to celebrate UK (and Irish) YA and I am completely over-excited to be on the shortlist.  There’s a YA event for schools in Scotland, organised by author Kirkland Ciccone.

And NOW there is a new thing. An exciting thing. A thing for all of us. All the inclusiveness and friendliness and, who knows, maybe one day even Patrick Ness (see what I did there) of UKYA is coming to a bookshop near you.

Of course I’m talking about the UKYA Extravaganza. The brainwave of authors Kerry Drewery and Emma Pass (you are superstars) and the wonderful events manager at Waterstones Birmingham High Street it’s an afternoon of readings and signings and much socialising on February 28th. I’m very excited to be taking part, alongside 34 other authors.

The event sold out in just a few hours – wow! –  but don’t worry. I’m pretty certain this is just a beginning. I’m already hearing plans to stage UKYA Extravaganzas all over the UK.

We need events like these, because UKYA still doesn’t get the attention it needs in order to thrive. In the US, YA gets reviewed and read by adults as well as teenagers. Here, all too often, YA is labelled as ‘children’s books’ and hidden away in a dusty corner.  UKYA needs to be visible and mainstream, and appeal beyond a narrow age-banded market. Events like the Extravaganza help to do that.

Best-selling adult author Robert Harris called for more coverage of books on TV, this week, attacking the BBC for its poor coverage of books. A UKYA books programme on a mainstream channel is probably too much to hope for, but I’m already excited about the book bloggers taking to YouTube, and I predict we’ll see more YouTube action this year. Maybe someone could make a film about the UKYA Extravaganza?

Today Birmingham, tomorrow….you tell me!

Will you be attending UKYA Extravaganza in Birmingham?

Guest Post

Blogging from a non-blogger’s perspective – Guest post by Becky.

Today Becky is on the blog, talking about blogs from a non-blogger perspective. I love this post so much, and love Becky even more. 

I never really knew about blogs before I met Lucy, but when she told me that she had one I looked at it and I loved reading it. After a while I read more book blogs and I loved them just as much! When I finally got twitter I found some amazing new book bloggers!

Some people probably don’t see the point in reading blogs as they may not feel that they get anything out of it but there are so many good things that come from it:

You find out amazing new books to read, although this can become a problem as my TBR pile is way too big!

You find awesome people to fangirl with about books that you all love! It’s great to be able to tweet people and share your love of books together!



You develop a wider knowledge about books which makes you appreciate them so much more. Before reading these blogs I never knew about how books were published. When you know about all the hard work that goes into publishing them it makes you respect the people who put in all that hard work more!

If you’re not a book blogger, like me, but are still interested in reading then it’s a great way to share that love with other people and book blogs are also really interesting to read. There are so many benefits and the blogs aren’t just for other bloggers, they’re for everyone, whether you are an author, blogger, publisher or you just like reading!

If you would like to follow Becky on Twitter, you can do so at @beckycooke54

Blog Tour Guest Post UKYA

Countdown to 5th June: Kim Slater on the cover of Smart


Revealing the book cover process between author and publisher


UntitledOne thing that everyone seems to really love about Smart is its beautifully illustrated cover. It really stands out and serves as an excellent representation of the book’s content.

When I first got my book deal with Macmillan Children’s Books (MCB), my agent told me they were going to give the book an iconic cover. And boy, didn’t they just?

The amazing illustrator, Helen Crawford-White did a fabulous job as did the entire art department at MCB.

But the final version was the result of a rigorous and fairly lengthy process and began as a pooling of ideas between myself the author and my MCB Editor, Rachel Kellehar.

Publication date for the book is 5th June 2014 but the cover process began way back in June 2013, when Rachel emailed me with a Cover Dialogue. This was basically where we both discussed our ideas and impressions that could be moulded into the beginnings of a vision for the cover.

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Blog Tour Guest Post

Sealed with a Kiss Blog Tour: Rachael Lucas on Her Top 5 Romantic Novels

21943796Today I’m very lucky to have Rachael Lucas, author of Sealed with a Kiss, on the blog. I loved Sealed with a Kiss and my review will  be up later this week, but, in the meantime, here’s a bit about Sealed with a Kiss:

Kate is dumped on her best friend’s wedding day by the world’s most boring boyfriend, Ian. She’s mostly cross because he got in first – until she remembers she’s now homeless as well as jobless. Rather than move back home to her ultra-bossy mother, Kate takes a job on the remote Scottish island of Auchenmor as an all-round Girl Friday. Her first day is pretty much a disaster: she falls over, smack bang at the feet of her grouchy new boss, Roddy, Laird of the Island. Unimpressed with her townie ways, he makes it clear she’s got a lot to prove.

Island life has no room for secrets, but prickly Roddy’s keeping something to himself. When his demanding ex-girlfriend appears back on the island, Kate’s budding friendship with her new boss comes to an abrupt end. What is Fiona planning – and can she be stopped before it’s too late?

My Top Five Romantic Novels by Rachael Lucas

 – and this is such a tricky one to do that I’ve actually sneaked in six, and one is actually a whole series, but shhh, don’t tell… Continue Reading

Blog Tour Guest Post

Books I’ve Read Recently – Stella by Helen Eve Blog Tour

Hey everyone! I’m very lucky to have Helen Eve on the blog today, who is the author of Stella. She has written a great post about the books she has read recently, and I really hope you enjoy it.

GONE GIRL (Gillian Flynn)

I was slow to discover this book, but I loved the exploration of unreliable dual narrators, a beautiful anti-heroine and the intricacies of media representation.

THE BONE DRAGON (Alexia Casale)16116963

Narrator Evie both reveals and conceals harrowing details from her past in this haunting thriller which leads the reader, via magic realism, the beauty of nocturnal nature and the redemptive power of revenge, to a wonderfully unsettling conclusion.

DARE ME (Megan Abbott)

I loved the lyrical prose of The End of Everything, and the subject matter is equally dark in this high school-set crime thriller where a new cheerleading coach threatens the status of the current queen bee.

WHY WE BROKE UP (Daniel Handler)

A letter from Min to her erstwhile boyfriend Ed, this vivid colour-illustrated novel details the pain and angst of a teenage relationship gone irreversibly awry.

THE FIFTH WAVE (Rick Yancey)

A beautifully rendered father-daughter relationship was my favourite element of this dystopian novel detailing an alien attack that decimates most of the earth’s population.

THE TWISTED THREAD (Charlotte Bacon)

I found this boarding school-set mystery distinct in its primary focus on the reactions of adults following the murder of a popular student and the disappearance of her previously undiscovered baby.

TheFifthWavecoverTHE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL (Philippa Gregory)

I enjoyed the film but only recently read the book, and was pleased to discover that the sisterly dynamic between Anne and Mary as they vie for the King’s attentions in this historical interpretation was every bit as fascinating as I’d hoped.


Social media is almost a character in this book, such is its part in Amelia’s downfall and her mother’s subsequent investigation of her apparent suicide as she uncovers the rituals of a venomous school clique.


FOLLOW ME DOWN (Tanya Byrne), THE LIST (Siobhan Vivian), AMELIA ANNE IS DEAD AND GONE (Kat Rosenfeld), ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS (Sarah McCarry), BURN FOR BURN (Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian)

STELLA is out now from Macmillan Children’s Books.