YALC 2019 Day One: It’s not YALC without a Jason Momoa sighting.

First off my journey to YALC 2019 started with me deciding not to even go. I caught a train on the Thursday night and it was cut short and was only taking me to Doncaster. I was then told I could travel to Sheffield and then St Pancras but my sister sent me a screenshot that they were all cancelled.

Cue meltdown and me getting off the train halfway to Doncaster and waiting on a platform for half an hour for my boyfriend to pick me up. My boyfriend and hero offered to drive me down to London himself but by the time he got to me and down to London and back it would’ve been 2am. He had work at 8am.

So he took me to Pizza Hut and we planned a cute weekend and I accepted not going.

Until the next morning when I saw the trains were running normally. The biggest reasons I didn’t want to travel on the Friday was getting stuck at some random station all day and having my suitcase on me all day. I decided missing out because of a suitcase was childish. I dived out of bed, got dressed and woke my boyfriend up to tell him I was going.

We raced to the bus stop and missed the bus to the train station, but instead of accepting all the signs from the universe I shouldn’t be at YALC this weekend my boyfriend drove me to nearest train station. On the train down I noticed there was already some controversy brewing at YALC. Everyone was forced to queue in the rain and they were let in one by one. Meaning some people got to all the freebies while others were still stuck on the queue #drama.

I finally got to YALC at 12 and I met up with my bookstagram besties Emily and Sammy. Sammy had bought me The Dragon Republic and the Priory of the Orange Tree print that Illumicrate were selling because we didn’t think I was going to make it. I thought I would need to pay her back but she let me keep them as a birthday present! I then went round and entered all the raffles with Sammy for Darkdawn, Kingdom of Souls (not for me I was giving it to a friend as I was lucky enough to get one already) and the stack Illumicrate was giving away everyday.

I ended up buying two pins from Fable and Black at the Illumicrate stand – one for Vicious and another for Priory of the Orange Tree. Illumicrate were doing a lucky dip with every purchase as well as entry into two raffles one for the day and one for the weekend where they would email the winner. The girl before me in the lucky dip pulled out a white disk and got to choose from two sets of coasters and a set of cards from the ACOTAR special edition box. I commented to Sammy that I would 100% choose the cards and I remember the girl in front picked the coasters. Then it came to my turn with the lucky dip and what do you know I pulled out another white disk and got to choose the cards as my prize.

I also visited one stand (forgot the publisher) who were giving away an ARC with every purchase and I just missed out on Midnight Beauties (Steph who was with us picked up the last one) and I got Wild Savage Stars instead.

Later on in the day Sammy and I happened to walk by the Hot key Books stand just as one of the women was telling a girl that to get an ARC you had to find a “rubber something”. I told Sammy this then as we walked forward Sammy spotted rubber bats on the big tables in the events area. She grabbed one and then pointed one out to me behind a sign. We had found these bats before they had even announced on twitter that you had to find them to get an arc. So at 2 we went back and claimed our copies of Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo.

I didn’t have any books for authors that were signing that day but I did stand with Sammy in one queue and got talking to this girl behind us. Turned out she was staying in Loughton and I was staying in South Woodford (On the same tube line) and she said “oh well maybe I’ll see you on the train back” and at the time I laughed but I knew I was leaving early to see my friend so I definitely wouldn’t see her.

One thing you should know about YALC as it’s super common to see celebrities from the London Film and Comic Con because the Green Room they all chill in is on our floor. So instances of Jason Momoa walking by saying Good Morning are not uncommon which is pretty cool. I did most of my celeb sighting on Saturday however when we discovered the entrance to the Green Room. More on that in my next blog post.

I left YALC at 3pm to have dinner with my friend at Westfield in Shepherds Bush. When we got the tube about 4 hours later I remembered what the girl had said and I told my friend. Less than ten seconds later THAT same girl from YALC got onto the tube and sat down next to my friend. I don’t think I’m telling this story right but it was hilarious at the time and a pretty freaky coincidence.

Book Review: The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X. R. Pan

Synopsis

Leigh Chen Sanders is sixteen when her mother dies by suicide, leaving only a scribbled note: ‘I want you to remember’. Leigh doesn’t know what it means, but when a red bird appears with a message, she finds herself travelling to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time.

Leigh is far away from home and far away from Axel, her best friend, who she stupidly kissed on the night her mother died – leaving her with a swell of guilt that she wasn’t home, and a heavy heart, thinking she may have destroyed the one good thing left in her life.

Overwhelmed by grief, Leigh retreats into her art and into her memories, where colours collide and the rules of reality are broken. The only thing Leigh is certain about is that she must find out the truth. She must remember.

With lyrical prose and magical elements, Emily X.R. Pan’s stunning debut novel alternates between past and present, romance and despair, as one girl attempts to find herself through family history, art, friendship, and love.

Publication Date: 22nd March 2018

I liked the way this story was written, how the author used colour to describe feelings, I had an inkling that was going to happen going into the story and I wasn’t disappointed. This story is very artistic, there is a lot of emphasis placed on colour and music and how they make you feel and in turn represent feelings. If I was more arty I would have loved this book more, while I found the approach interesting I couldn’t entirely relate, and so the book wasn’t as magical or thought provoking as it should have been.

The logical part of me thinks colour is subjective. What I might consider purple, you may think is pink and this is further confused when applying colour to emotions. Colour has been used beautifully through this book to describe an emotion or feeling but at times I felt it was inaccurate as to what I would consider the colour of an emotion to be. What you are left with then is a character that is at times harder to understand and relate to, when the colour was right it was right but when it was wrong it was wrong. Colour is so differently interpreted even across cultures let alone individual people and while I loved the concept a lot I think it changed my reading experience slightly.

In the beginning we are presented with a mystery, Leigh is an average teenage girl who returns home one day to find her mother has killed herself. On the day of her mother’s funeral her mother seemingly returns as a bird who wants her to go to her grandparents in Taiwan. The story is told in both the present and flashbacks and memories as Leigh tries to workout the last thing that her mother wanted to know before she killed herself.

“I want you to remember” scribbed on a note that was dumped in the bin. But what does she want Leigh to remember?

It often felt like this story was on a loop – scenes were repeated so many times I started to get annoyed. There were moments that mattered, that were made important by Leigh’s feelings or thoughts, but when these moments were repeated they mattered less and less. I got bored of how many times I read about Leigh not being able to sleep, how many times she discussed or thought of the bird, how much she envied Feng and felt like a stranger with her grandparents, how much she clearly liked her best friend but thought she had ruined it. It went on and on. It felt like this story was a handful of very original thoughts that were recycled again and again.

Whilst I love magical realism I didn’t feel like it added much to this story in the end. The most poignant part of the book for me was in the last few chapters. All the magic of the smoke memories did nothing to convey the sense of loss and grief, that the realistic and heart-wrenching conversation between Leigh and her dad towards the end of the book managed to achieve.

DISCLAIMER: I was given this eARC by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 3/5 stars