A few months ago, I was invited to speak on a panel at Cheltenham Literature Festival. It’s hard to imagine that anybody would want to listen to me talk for a minute, let alone go to an hour-long event! The panel was chaired by Nicolette Jones and my fellow panellist was her daughter, Rebecca Clee.
I’ve been looking forward to this for ages but, even now that the event has happened, it feels surreal. I would never have imagined something like this could happen.
Travelling to Cheltenham, I was incredibly nervous. Excited also but mostly nervous! My worry beforehand was that nobody would turn up, and I’ve also been worrying that I’d seize up and wouldn’t say anything at all.
When I arrived, I eventually found the Writer’s Room, where I felt very out of place with some of the big names in the same tent! I felt very spoiled! Then I met up with the amazing Debbie, who made the day ten million times more awesome. I can’t think of a better person to share the day with!
I then got to meet both Nicolette and Rebecca. I’d like to thank them for being so lovely and very easy people to talk to – it made the whole experience brilliant. It’s fantastic when you get to meet people who are passionate about reading and are very happy to talk about books. I think that’s the magic of the festival!
Usually I’m on the other side of the stage watching the event so whilst I’ve been aware of the work that goes into each event, I only knew a fraction of the effort. From stewards to sound people to the people who make sure your festival experience is the absolute best one, everyone tries their hardest to make sure everything runs smoothly.
I had an incredible time and would love to do it again. It’s the best thing in the world to talk about books in front of people who love them just as much as you do, of all ages. We managed to cover lots of different topics, and I hope that everyone who watched enjoyed it and picked up lots of recommendations.
A massive thank you to Cheltenham Literature Festival, Nicolette and Rebecca for making my day extra special.
Trouble was my most anticipated novel of 2014 and so I was very excited when I was gifted a copy from the lovely Debbie at Snuggling on the Sofa. It feels as if I’ve been waiting for this book my entire YA-reading life. I cannot praise it highly enough.
Hannah is 15 and pregnant. Teenage years are hard anyway, so add a bump into the equation, and you have Trouble. The thing is, though, Hannah’s baby is fatherless. So when new boy, Aaron, steps forward for the role and offers to become a stand-in father, it’s unclear if he has ulterior motives or is just trying to be a good person.
Told in alternating perspectives, we get to know both of our protagonists, Hannah and Aaron, very well throughout and the thing that struck me the most about their similarities is that they’re both going through tough times. This leads for a very exciting read; with so many twists and turns it’ll give you whiplash. I’m usually a very good girl and get my beauty sleep, but Trouble kept me up reading until late (shhh…Don’t tell my mum!) because I couldn’t bear to put it down; I was hooked!
Hannah’s pregnancy was dealt with in a very good manner and it was easy to sympathise with her. Pratt has realistically portrayed her as a spirited British teenager, and conveyed her feelings to pregnancy and life so well. It was so good to get to know Hannah within the pages.
Aaron was such a complex character and so interesting. Because of the depth to his character, I enjoyed reading the chapters written from his perspective and it offered a nice contrast between Hannah’s character and his because they were quite different in many ways. He was so kind and caring towards Hannah and truly devoted.
I can’ t finish my review without talking about the authenticity of both Hannah and Aaron’s teenage voices. It makes me smile to think about it because it makes me want to shout from the rooftops about UKYA fiction. You all know how much I love it, anyway, and I think Trouble is right up there with all of the award-winning UKYA. It’s captured teen life so, so well, and I think this is a major selling point for those teens who don’t read as much as others: it’s so relatable they’ll fall straight into the story.
I don’t think I’ve read a book quite like Trouble before, so I’ll definitely be seeking more out now. It came at a time when I was in a bit of a reading rut and couldn’t get out of it. I can’t wait for you all to read it and love it just as much as I did.
Last week it was Bath Children’s Literature Festival, or Bath Kids Lit Fest, and, being lucky enough to live very close to it, I spent most of the week there.
The first day that I attended was Sunday and, before any of my events, I met up with Georgia from Books and Writers JNR and we spent nearly 45 minutes in Waterstones Bath (I love their YA section!). I bought The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater whilst Georgia bought Shipwrecked by Siobhan Curham. It was so nice to meet her, as we’ve spoken for quite a while now on Twitter and she’s always come across as really lovely – and she was!
The first event I went to was one with Karen Saunders and Mark Lowery. I briefly met Karen back in June so it was really nice to speak to her again, and I loved hearing about Mark’s book as it sounded so funny. I’m really
hoping I’ll be able to read it soon because I loved the parts he read out to us.
The other event in the evening was with David Levithan and I was really looking forward to it. I’d read Every Day a few weeks earlier in preparation and loved it. I met the lovely Charlie at the event who I’ve recently started talking to on Twitter after we both won copies of Every Day. Serendipity! It was really nice to hear David speak and read from Every Day. Afterwards, I got my books signed but accidently left Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares at home, which I was kicking myself for afterwards.
After a much needed rest on Tuesday and Wednesday, I got to interview Tanya Byrne on Thursday. I loved Heart-Shaped Bruise and she was such a lovely person too. I also got to meet Blondie at this event, who I’ve met again at another event too. She’s such an awesome person (you can see her talking at the end of the Tanya Byrne interview, with her brilliant hat)!
Friday meant an event with Malorie Blackman, which I went to with Becky. It was interesting to hear Malorie talk, especially as her plans for the UKYA conference had just been announced. The signing afterwards was so long and we were right at the back too. 🙁
Saturday was another crazy day. In the morning I went to a writing workshop with Siobhan Curham who was so lovely. I got to meet Sophie from A DayDreamer’s World which was nice. The workshop had a lot of stuff about blogging in it and I loved hearing about other peoples ideas for their own blogs. I really wish I had been to something like the workshop when I had just started blogging. After the workshop I stopped for lunch at Patisserie Valerie, which is heaven in a cake shop. I never thought I’d say it, but I couldn’t finish my cake. The next event was one with Alexia Casale and Janne Teller which I was very excited for. I got to meet Katerina briefly before the event when I was hanging around the production room upstairs. I really hope we’ll be able to meet again in the future now that she lives near, because she was so lovely, and I love talking to her on Twitter. I also met Marieke who is such an awesome person and it was so nice to meet her in person. I got to interview Alexia and, let me tell you, she is one of the loveliest people I have ever met and am ever likely to meet. I was blown away
by her kindness, and she was just amazing to meet. You all need to meet her!
Sunday was such a hectic day, but it was definitely the best out of the whole festival. After getting off to a rough start when one of the attendants made me sit right at the back, even though I had a ticket and was at the venue first, and after nearly falling down a massive drop, things turned awesome. I got to meet Debbie, Faye and Daphne, and see Katie again for the event with Sarah J. Maas. I’m a massive fan of the Throne of Glass books so it was great to hear Sarah talk. The signing queue was massive and we were sadly right at the end, which meant a mad rush to the Patrick Ness event right after. Daphne, having already met Sarah previously, saved us seats at the venue of the Patrick Ness event, but the rest of us still had to manically run across lots of streets, which caused lots of squeals and mad dashing. It’s something that I will always remember, and I really hope I get to meet these girls in the future because they’re just the best. Despite turning up late, we finally made it to the Patrick Ness event which was awesome and quite funny/weird at times. It’s one of those events that’s memorable because it had some very odd moments. Daphne sprinted to the signing queue so we were right up the front and I even have a special signed copy of More Than This, because Patrick signed it in the wrong place. That’s my claim to fame!
Bath Kids Lit Fest was so much fun and, writing this post, I realise how much I miss it. I met some incredible people and experienced so many amazing things. I need to send a million thank yous to Sarah, who made things extra special. She’s one of the awesomest people I know, so go follow her on Twitter if you don’t already! You’re really missing out! I also need to thank my parents for lugging me around everywhere. Also, thanks to my mum who finally worked out how to use the camera. No, Mum, you’re pressing the off button, not the button to take a picture….
Thank you to EVERYONE who was involved in the festival! I’m really hoping to see more of you at the festival next year! 😀