Tuesday 15 August 2017

London Film and Comic Convention with YALC!

Every year London is host to LFCC - the London Film and Comic Convention and for the last 4 years it has also hosted YALC - Young Adult Literature Convention, this is an awesome opportunity to meet authors, publishers, book sellers and other book geeks!
I didn't think I would be able to go this year as we are having our hours cut at work and just overall my husband and I are short of money. However this year the convention also fell on the same week as my 1 year wedding anniversary and my best friend - being the truly awesome person she is - bought us tickets as an anniversary present! So we got to go on the Saturday (29th July)
We always dress up when we go to these things so we had to come up with a costume. We wanted to stay more on the book character side as we knew we would spend more time in the YALC part than the comicon itself. One of my favourite book series is the Skulduggery Pleasant books by Derek Landy, and my husband has just finished reading the series for the first time and loved them too, so we decided to go as Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain.
Here we are dressed up: -
There was a stand advertising the new book in the series - Resurrection- (which is awesome by the way) so we had our photo taken by it, disappointingly Derek Landy himself wasn't there - we had hoped he would be as he has been at all the previous 3, but we tweeted him our photo and he said we were 'cool' so I'm happy!

Once there I had a few authors I wanted to see, unfortunately due to my University course I haven't read as much over the last couple of years so some of the authors I hadn't heard of and out of the 7 I wanted to see only 3 were there on Saturday, the others were spread over Friday and Sunday.

However first up was an author I had wanted to meet for years. I had been invited to the book launch of her very first book back in 2013 but I couldn't get out of work and I had been regretting it ever since. So now after her 6th book in the series! I finally got to meet her. It is of course, the lovely - Holly Smale!!!! She was due to arrive at 11 and we started to queue at about 10:30, I was at the front of the queue, and my wonderful husband went to buy me the 'Sunny Side Up' special novella as it was the only one I didn't have and I wanted a full set. He got back just in time, and Holly was kind enough to sign all 8 of her books. and then she also posed for a photo

I took my Valkyrie costume off and replaced it with my Geek Girl glasses for the photo.
Holly was really nice and willing to talk. She asked me if I had any questions about her series and like a total idiot I froze and couldn't think of anything. I just told her that I loved her books, that they made me laugh out loud and that I would be looking forward to her next project.
Of course for the rest of the day I thought of about 30 questions I could have asked her, but never mind, maybe next time.

We then spent some time exploring the comicon - it was hot and very crowded. There were loads of fab costumes, I saw captain Jack, Baymax from Big Hero 6, some Daleks, a few Doctor Who's, many superheroes and lots of others. There were stalls selling loads of realy cool and very geeky things, but it was so busy!
I was carrying a backpack with me, containing all the books I wanted to get signed that day -13 in total so by this point I was flagging. We headed back up to YALC where is was calmer and cooler and had a lunch break.
We met up with my best friend and her boyfriend, dressed up as Yoda and a character from Avatar - they looked fab, but stupidly I didn't get a photo of them.
We explored the stalls, picked up some free bookmarks, badges, bags and even a mug from one. There was a Harry Potter stall and I managed to solve the potions riddle from the first book and one a gold star and lollipop for my efforts along with the knowledge that I was just as clever and logical as Hermione! I was so proud. My friend couldn't solve it and the ladies at the stall said not many people had managed to do it - so GO ME!

After lunch I met Will Hill - I saw him a few years ago when I first started reading his Department 19 series, now I have read all but the newest one I wanted to see him again and tell him how awesome I thought they were. Unfortunately I only own book 1 & 2 and couldn't afford to buy the rest before I went, so he just signed book 2 for me (i did the first one last time). However he was glad that I liked his series and was still  a fan, he had just released a new book which is what most people were getting signed, so it was refreshing to still see a Department 19 book he said. He was very nice and we had a good chat. I didn't manage to get a picture with him, but I'm glad I met him again. Now I want to read the last book in the series even more, so look out for the review in the coming few weeks.

We then wandered round a bit more, said goodbye to my friend as she had to leave and then headed back upstairs. It was 3pm by this time and we were both knackered (having been up since 5am!) so we decided to head to Zoe Marriotts table and start queuing. We were an hour early so we took the chance to sit down and relax a little bit, putting down our bags and taking off our shoes. We got talking to some other fans in the queue and I bumped into one of my other friends so we had a chat.

I was a bit disappointed because the book stands had sold out of all of Zoe Marriotts new books so I couldn't get one, however I had an old copy of 'The Swan Kingdom' and 'Daughter of the Flame' that I had read years ago and I still think they are beautiful covers so I had taken them with me.
At just after 4 o'clock I met Zoe and she was so friendly. She was astounded that I still had her original books and said how much she had loved the covers and was sad when the publishers changed them. I said how much I enjoyed her work and that I was looking forward to reading her new stuff. We then took a photo together
She was so nice and happy to talk, I am definitely going to be reading her other books and I hope to see her again sometime in the future.
After that we decided to leave and make our way home, exhausted but very happy.
Next year I think I will take a wheelie suitcase to carry my books - a lot fo people there had done that and after carrying the wait of 13 books on my back all day I was exhausted and in pain, so I will definitely follow their example next time - and maybe then I can take even more books!

Have any of you been to YALC?
Who did you meet?
Who would you like to see in the future?


Book Review - The Prince of Mist

Title: The Prince of Mist
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Publisher: Phoenix
Release Date: 27th May 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1444000443

In 1943, Max Carver's father - a watchmaker and inventor - decides to move his family to a small town on the coast, to an abandoned house that holds many secrets and stories of its own. Behind the house Max discovers an overgrown garden surrounded by a metal fence topped with a six-pointed star. In the centre is a large statue of a clown set in another six-pointed star.
As the family settles in they grow increasingly uneasy: Max’s sister Alicia has disturbing dreams while his other sister, Irina, hears voices whispering to her from an old wardrobe. With his new friend Roland, Max also discovers the wreck of a boat that sank many years ago in a terrible storm. Everyone on board perished except for one man - an engineer who built the lighthouse at the end of the beach.
As they learn more about the wreck, the chilling story of a legendary figure called the Prince of Mist begins to emerge...

My Review
This was the only book by Zafon that I hadn't read so when i spotted it on the library shelf I had to grab it. It's a fairly short book at just over 200 pages. In fact I read it in one sitting. Made all the more readable by Zafon's amazing stroy-telling powers and mysterious events that keep you hooked throughout.
When Max and his family move to a small beach-side cottage he isn't sure what to make of it, especially when he finds a strange blocked off garden with some creepy statues, one of a clown and the others as circus performers, even stranger Max swears he sees one of them move. As events around the beach front start to get even stranger the secrets of the old lighthouse keeper start to emerge. The Prince of Mist was a story, a cloaked man would grant you anything your heart desires if you just ask. What they don't know is that the wish comes with a price and if you don't fulfill your end then he will come back for you. But it's all just stories, right? Max, with his sister and his new friend Roland must discover just what happened all those years ago with the sunken ship and why the lighthouse keeper is so nervous, and just what could the Prince of Mist want after all these years.
The story has a romance element between Roland and Alicia but it isn't forced, it seems very natural and I like the couple together, the mystery will keep you hooked to the end and you won't see the twist coming. There are some spooky moments but mostly it's just exciting and will keep you turning the pages. I had finished it before I knew it, the ending is very satisfying if not a little sad, and as always I wanted more.
This one is aimed at younger readers and is the perfect introduction to his works.

My Rating

Book Review - Marina

Title: Marina
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Publisher: W&N
Release Date: 26th September 2013 
ISBN-13: 978-0297856474

In May 1980, fifteen-year-old Oscar Drai suddenly vanishes from his boarding school in the old quarter of Barcelona. For seven days and nights no one knows his whereabouts. . . .
His story begins in the heart of old Barcelona, when he meets Marina and her father Germán Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Oscar to a cemetery to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the fourth Sunday of each month. At 10 a.m. precisely a coach pulled by black horses appears. From it descends a woman dressed in black, her face shrouded, wearing gloves, holding a single rose. She walks over to a gravestone that bears no name, only the mysterious emblem of a black butterfly with open wings.
When Oscar and Marina decide to follow her they begin a journey that will take them to the heights of a forgotten, post-war Barcelona, a world of aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons; and a dark secret that lies waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city streets.

My Review
I think that Carlos Ruiz Zafon is one of the greatest writers ever, I have read all of his books and I just can't get enough, he is a master story-teller, able to weave a whole world around you and capture you within the story. I am always swept away by him, there is something almost poetic about his writing, it just flows off the page and really captivates me.
This was one of the last books by him that I had to read and whilst I was waiting for the next book in the series I was reading to come out, I thought I would fill my time with this. I expected it to last me a few days at least but I read it in 2 sittings, starting it in my lunchbreak one day then finishing it all the next afternoon. I just didn't want to stop reading, it was addictive.
Oscar is captivated by the old mansion house and it's strange occupants, a young girl called Marina and her father German Blau. He discovers that they are actually very nice people and he develops a crush on Marina. When she tells him of a mysterious old woman who visits the graveyard every month, on her own, cloaked in black Oscar is intrigued, but as they start to investigate her past, they uncover more than they bargained for. Dodgy dealings, dark secrets and creepy experiments. Soon the two of them are fighting for their lives and the truth. 
I loved Marina as a character, she's very fiery and has a great sense of humour, yet she also has a vulnerability that makes her very likeable. Oscar is almost the opposite, he's a bit thoughtless and rushes headfirst into situations, but he's also goofy and rather sweet. 
Once again Zafon delivered a top class story, with enough chills and thrills to keep you hooked. The living dummies in the shed made my skin crawl, but I couldn't stop reading. 
A little bit scary for younger readers, but overall another fantastic book.
If you haven't read his books, I highly recommend him. The Shadow of the Wind is truly spectacular.

My Rating