Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Infinite possibilities: top five SciFi YA books by Meaghan McIssac

'Shadows' by Meaghan McIssac.
As a reader, I don't limit myself to one genre. But if I did, it would probably be SciFi. Why? I think it boils down to possibilities. Every great SciFi story, no matter how outlandish, how wild, how improbable, is made extra exciting by the idea that it could, maybe, just maybe, happen. Luke Skywalker could have become a Jedi a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Elliot could have found an alien in his backyard who needed to phone home. Maybe we could bring dinos back to life using fossilized tree sap. The universe is infinite! What's inspiring about stories under the SciFi umbrella is they make you feel like anything — for better or worse — is possible. And when anything is possible, the adventures have no limits.

So, in order to celebrate all things SciFi, I thought I'd share my top five favourite SciFi YA.

1. The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness
'The Knife of Never Letting Go' cover design.
I'd pick the whole glorious trilogy. But if I have to pick one of the three books for the purposes of this list, it would have to be The Knife of Never Letting Go. Todd Hewitt lives in a world occupied by men, and only men. He hears their Noise and they can hear his — every thought at all hours of the day. And not just the thoughts of men, but animals, even dogs. It's a loud life. Relentless. Until Todd discovers a lone patch of silence and his world changes forever. Spaceships. Aliens. Telepathy. Todd's world is one I love to visit over and over. Not least of all because Todd's voice is so unique, so honest, you trust him completely to navigate you through.

2. The Chrysalids
 John Wyndham

This is the book, guys. My childhood fave that started my love of all things SciFi. In a post apocalyptic world, mutations are considered blasphemies against God and must be destroyed. So when David discovers that he and a small group of other teens have telepathic abilities, they are forced to keep it secret. But like any good secret, it can't stay that way, and it's not long before David and his friends are on the run. This is one I'm desperate to see on the big screen — but I don't know how any movie could pull off the awesome "thought shape" parts and do it proper justice. If you haven't read it, go now, and together we can all come up with the best way to translate The Chrysalids to film, I just know it.

3. Glow
by Amy Kathleen Ryan

I love, love, LOVE
Glow. Mostly because if there were a mission to populate another planet in another galaxy, I like to think I'd have the guts to go. But anyway, fifteen-year-old Waverly was born aboard the Empyrean, a ship with just such a mission. It's one of two ships sent to populate a distant planet. And teenage life aboard the Empyrean is just about as normal as life back home — chores, parents, boyfriends. But then their sister ship, the New Horizon sends out a distress call. Something is wrong. And its up to the Empyrean to save them. But Waverly and her shipmates don't know, is that the crew aboard the New Horizon is anything but friendly. The setting of Glow—trapped on a ship in deep space—and the threat that lurks inside, makes for one claustrophobic read. I read it in one sitting.

4. The Fifth Wave
by Rick Yancey

Two words: alien invasion. I shouldn't have to explain. But I will. Cassie Sullivan has survived the first four waves of attacks from the aliens that have invaded earth. Everyone else on the planet hasn't been so lucky. And the few survivors that are left can't be trusted. Anybody could be one of them in disguise. And somewhere out there is Cassie's little brother Sam. And it's up to her to get him back. This action-
packed alien adventure is a major motion picture, and it's no wonder.

5. Red Rising
by Pierce Brown

If SciFi is all about possibility, then let's do all we can to avoid the possibility of a future like the one sixteen-year-old Darrow was born to. Society is divided by a colour-coded caste system, with Golds at the top, and Reds, like Darrow, at the bottom. When a family tragedy forces Darrow to reject the system, he'll have to become the very thing he hates in order to bring it down. Brutal, dark and dangerous, Darrow's world is both exciting and terrifying. And it's just the first in the series.

Movers cover design.So there you have just a few of my favourite SciFi YA offerings. It's time to get reading! And even if you think SciFi isn't for you, I have to insist that you're wrong — the endless possibilities means there's something in this genre for everyone. You can't not find a great story here. It's impossible! (See what I did there?) What are some of your favourite SciFi reads?

Tweet Meaghan your favourite SciFI reads

Find out more about Movers
Find out more about Shadows

About Meaghan:

Meaghan writes middle grade and young adult books. She loves to read them too. She used to draw a bit. When she was nine, she drew comics about a bird family who had a fuzzy orange caterpillar for a dog. They never ate him. After that, she gave a lot of embarrassing performances in her high school's musicals. She gave up on acting and decided to stick to telling stories. Meaghan packed up and left for the UK where she completed an MA in Children's Writing at the University of Winchester. Now, she's back in Toronto, reading and writing. Meaghan has one noisy beagle and one lab who doesn't stop eating. Meaghan is the author of an exhilarating, action-packed SciFi series. Movers is the first book in the series and Shadows, the second. Both are available online and from all good bookstores.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Sarah Crossan: a Case Study in Poetic Excellence

Carnegie Medal winner 2017, One, by Sarah Crossan.
Carnegie Medal winner 2016, One.

Sarah Crossan is undoubtedly one of the U.K.’s and Ireland’s most exciting writers. Breath-taking, heart-wrenching and unputdownable, her books stay with you months after you’ve read them.

Sarah writes with so much heart that it’s impossible not to relate to her characters and the themes in her books.

In Apple and Rain, Apple’s mother returns after 11 years but her return is bittersweet. Not everything is as it seems and when Apple discovers she has a sister, she re-discovers the meaning of family and realises what’s special in her life. The bond between siblings is something Sarah expertly captures on the page; so vivid that it feels as though the words shift and morph on the page to become an immersive, cinematic experience. In One, Sarah explores the power of love between conjoined sisters, Tippi and Grace. Told in beautiful verse, the words flow across the pages like a river; every word perfectly positioned to paint a masterpiece.

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan.
The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan
In The Weight of Water, Sarah tackles attitudes towards immigrants, an ever-topical discussion. Sentimental and thought-provoking, readers are taken on a journey by young narrator, Kasienka, as she is uprooted from Poland by her mother and displaced in England in search of her father. Simple in premise but rich in poetic detail, The Weight of Water will stun with linguistic precision, taking readers on an epic journey of emotion.

And let’s not forget Sarah’s first co-authored novel with, Brian Conaghan (author of When Mr Dog Bites and The Bombs that Brought us Together). Told in Sarah’s signature style, the story explores the lives of troubled teens, Nicu and Jess. The story shares similar themes to Sarah’s previous stories, including immigration (Nicu emigrates to the U.K. from Romania). Jess, who lives in an abusive, violent home, meets Nicu on a juvenile reform course after both teens are caught shoplifting. With an ending that is gut-wrenching and verse that is immensely powerful, this is definitely one to add to your TBR pile (right at the top!).

Moonrise by Sarah Crossan.
Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

Sarah’s new book, Moonrise, publishes on 7 September 2017 (in Ireland and the U.K.) and tells the story of Joe and his brother Ed, who’s on death row. The synopsis teases some questions:

What value do you place on life? What can you forgive? And just how do you say goodbye?

I’m anticipating another heart-breaking Crossan-esque story that will lift readers up and break hearts worldwide. What's your favourite Sarah Crossan book? Tweet me @YAfictionados or tell me in the comments below.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

#YAtakeover #CKG17 programme

The #YAtakeover: what is it?

YAtakeover logo.
YAtakeover logo
The #YAtakeover (the brainchild of blogger, Christopher Moore), was designed as a way to reach readers on a global scale, allowing avid readers of all demographics to connect with their favourite authors. While living in the U.K., I realised that most book launches and events took place in London and if not in London, predominantly in the major cities across the U.K., like Manchester and Edinburgh.

It's often not feasible to do author events in the more remote parts of the country but why should that prevent readers from spreading their love of reading, talking about what excites them with a community that values and champions their passion and getting the opportunity to ask some of Children's and Young Adult's most exciting authors their questions?

It shouldn't and that's where the #YAtakeover comes in!

The #YAtakeover is an online, Twitter festival that includes:

  • author interview panels (usually themed around issues ranging from taboo to fantasy and magic and everything in between);
  • general book discussion (around a theme or a particular book);
  • a quiz (a variety of visual questions with bookish giveaways for whoever answers the most questions correctly) and
  • competitions (where you have the opportunity to win the books our featured authors are discussing).

On 17 and 18 June, we'll be celebrating a very special #YAtakeover edition; with the announcement of the 80th Carnegie and 60th Kate Greenaway (CKG) Medals on 19 June, we'll be hosting author panels with previous winners in addition to shortlist discussion, competitions and our fantastic CKG-themed quiz). Join us on 17 and 18 June where we'll have some of the world's most prestigious Children's and YA authors taking part.

We have a competition running to win some of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway winning books. Simply join in the CKG celebrations by tweeting your thoughts or your favourite previous winners along with the #YAtakeover and #CKG17 hashtags.

The full #YAtakeover programme is now available.

Spread the bookish love.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Add some brand new books to your shelves this summer with a tweet

#YAtakeover and 80th/60th Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal anniversaries.
#YAtakeover / 80th Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal anniversary logos.
 As part of our #YAtakeover special edition, to celebrate the 80th Carnegie and 60th Kate Greenaway Medal anniversaries, we're giving away a copy of Tim Bowler's River Boy, Beverley Naidoo's The Other Side of Truth and Melvin Burgress's Junk.

How do you win these books?

It's simple. All you have to do is tweet to be in with a chance.

Tweet about the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals using BOTH the #YAtakeover and #CKG17 hashtags between Wednesday 16 June at 9am BST and Monday 19 June at 11.30pm BST. You can enter more than once. Some ideas for your tweets could be:

  • My favourite Carnegie/Kate Greenaway book was _____ #YAtakeover #CKG17
  • My favourite shortlisted book for this year's Carnegie/Kate Greenaway Medal is _____ #YAtakeover #CKG17
  • I'm currently reading (insert Carnegie/Kate Greenaway book here) by (author/illustrator name) #YAtakeover #CKG17

Or, on the day, feel free to answer some of the author questions and tell us what you think or ask your favourite author a question at the end of their panel using the #YAtakeover and #CKG17 hashtags.

Enter as often as you like.
Help us spread the bookish joy.

And most importantly, have fun.

The full #YAtakeover programme is now available.


Find out more information about The Other Side of Truth (Beverley Naidoo).
Follow Beverley on Twitter.

Find out more information about Junk (Melvin Burgess).
Follow Melvin on Twitter.

Find out more information about River Boy (Tim Bowler).
Follow Tim on Twitter.

Beverly Naidoo's 'The Other Side of Truth', Melvin Burgess' 'Junk' and Tim Bowler's 'River Boy'.
Beverly Naidoo's 'The Other Side of Truth', Melvin Burgess' 'Junk' and Tim Bowler's 'River Boy'

Monday, 10 April 2017

Blogging for Me

Me and drag superstar, Charlie Hides.
In the last year, I've had a lot going on in my life. Between mental health, moving my life back to Ireland, finally finishing my manuscript and the everyday admin, I've found it hard to focus on my blog. More than focusing on it, I've found it quite tough to stir up the passion to write. Don't worry, I'm still going to write. I used to tell myself I had to write twice a week and really, the only person telling myself this was me. No one else expects me to churn out two blog posts a week and really, I'd rather produce something really heartfelt and poignant - something that makes you think and/or feel - every fortnight than publish half-baked posts that aren't a reflection of me or this blog. More than any of this, I need to remember why I started this blog. I started it for me, to voice my thoughts and chat books and if someone loves what I do, fantastic.

So what does this mean for the YAfictionados blog?
It means a couple of things:

  1. This book will no longer be limited to book chat. I love books and bookish chat will remain one of the central tropes I'll discuss here but I also want to talk about my writing journey (especially if I manage to get an agent and find a publishing home - fingers crossed!) to help inspire others to write. I want to talk about some of the beautiful places I've visited abroad on my travels but also in my hometown of Dublin. I want to peel back the layers and let you guys (and girls) see a different side to me; to see beyond face value and get to know the different parts that make me, me.
  2. I won't be posting with any fixed regularity. I'll aim to post every second week but I'll only be posting when something strikes or moves me and really, when it feels like something worth sharing with all of you.
  3. I love reviews but my focus will move away from single reviews and look at some of the books I enjoyed reading in that particular month (a monthly round-up starting in May).
I hope you're all excited and be sure to share all your bookish thoughts with me on Twitter. I want to know what you're reading and what you're looking forward to reading this year.

I'm looking forward to sharing some of my mental health experiences and a bit more about my illness so subscribe and keep an eye out for 

Christopher Moore:

Christopher is a co-founder of the YAfictionados blog (@YAfictionados). He's currently working on his debut LGBT YA novel. When he's not reading, writing or blogging, he can found in coffee shops or baking in his kitchen (watch out for his book cookies!). He loves to travel and will read anything YA-related and some general fiction and fantasy.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Change your Perception and you Change the World

Tree shaped like a heart.
I attended a funeral of someone very dear to me on Wednesday This post isn't about sympathy and with all due respect, I don't want your sympathy and I don't want you to take this initial message as the actual message behind this post.

At the ceremony, in the crematorium and at the pub, I saw a community come together. There was no black/white, gay/straight, young/old binary divides. Everyone had tears in their eyes at some stage. I bit down on my lip trying to stop my own tears but it was near impossible. This was a woman that touched our hearts, changed our paths and transformed our lives and brought laughter and joy into our lives.

Everyone in that room had one thing in common: we were all there to show our live for some who had infinite love for all. We were brought together by love and understanding, compassion and celebration of a life that transcended so much. And in this moment, I had a thought. No one was thinking about prejudice (racism, homophobia, transphobia etc.). We weren't caught up with binary oppositions. It was our compassion and capacity to love, develop and understand that shone.

There are people out there that will carry their prejudices like emblems, like badges of honour and while some of these understand the hatred in their words, the vitriol that they poison future generations with, others do not. They are ignorant to the harm they cause. When they are shouted at on Twitter and attacked, their points are proven but if we show compassion to understand their point of view and ask questions to make them think, we can change perceptions. And if we cannot do this, if our fire and arguments fail, we can channel our energies into productive projects to further develop our own goals and the change we want to see. If we allow ourselves to be caught up in a viscous, cyclical process with a beginning and no end, we face frustration and emotional blocks that dam our positive energies, our capacity to love and our ability to bring about change.

At the risk of sounding morbid, our ultimate destination is the ground. Our compassion should be our common ground and if we can't approach things with compassion and try to encourage others with which we debate with to be compassionate, then we debase ourselves to their level.

I guess what I'm trying to say is to show love. Show understanding and compassion even in the face of adversity. Fighting fire with fire makes you that which you oppose and when we sling mud back and forth, we'll all get muddy and it's difficult to separate who is right and who is wrong. Our message is important and feels right to us but our approach is what can change opinion and instigate change. Do not comprise your integrity or compassion when you engage with thoughts you disagree with. It's incredibly difficult. It's not always easy; in fact, it's hardly ever easy but we need to be our best selves to change the world around us for the better.

Lena, you've thought me this if nothing else, in life and in death. Wherever you are, I hope you're at peace. Love always.

Christopher Moore:

Christopher is a co-founder of the YAfictionados blog (@YAfictionados). He's currently working on his debut LGBT YA novel. When he's not reading, writing or blogging, he can found in coffee shops or baking in his kitchen (watch out for his book cookies!). He loves to travel and will read anything YA-related and some general fiction and fantasy.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Blogging resource: key tips to get you started

Here are some of the key things I learned when setting up my YAfictionados blog. If you have any suggestions or comments, let me know in the comments below or tweet me.

Before you set up your blog

Blogs can either be self-hosted or hosted on a third-party site. I would advise using a platform such as Wordpress or Blogger. Every blogger will tell you different things about the pros and cons of each but it is up to you which you choose. Think about the type of content you want to write and go with the platform that gives you more freedom to do what you want to do.

  • Think about your post title. You want to draw in your reader. (How to…/Top 10…/Secrets of…/Why your…)
  • Write your first paragraph. Follow on from your post title and tempt your reader. Ask a question. Comment on some recent controversy and share your thoughts. Note a fact. Tell an anecdote.
  • Make your post scannable. Make it easy to read. Use headings, numbered lists and bullets, where possible.
  • Add a conclusion. Invite interaction. Ask readers to comment and if you want, point to another resource or to another of your blog posts.

Before you publish
  • Before you post anything, read through your article and edit, edit, EDIT.
  • Use an online grammar tool.
  • Ask a friend to look over it.
  • Whatever you do, read through your blog post at least twice before you publish it.

General tips and tricks
  • When you first start, content is more important than analytics.
  • It’s fine to have a look at what other bloggers are doing but make sure you represent your views. This is your unique selling point.
  • Ignore the haters.
  • Get personal.
  • Conquer one or two areas before you try to do it all.

Technical tips and tricks
  • Consider an email subscriber list.
  • If you’re hyperlinking outside your blog, make sure to click the box that opens it in a new window. You don’t want to encourage people to leave your site.
  • Use Alt tags. When you hover over an image and you see some text, this is an Alt tag. You don’t have to include an Alt tag but without an alt tag, the image isn’t searchable by search engines and you’re potentially cutting yourself off from clicks and views by not including this.
  • Make your hyperlinks descriptive.
  • Include keywords in your title and the first sentence of your blog post.
  • Install Google Analytics.
  • Editing an old blog post can move it up in the Google rankings.

How to build your network
  • Talk to authors. When you write a good review of their book, include them in the tweet. Get familiar with their publisher and include them also (can be found in the details on all book websites or by Googling it). Don’t link to a bad review. It can often back-fire on you and bring unwanted stress.
  • Try to channel your energies into talking about what you enjoy. Ask them if they’d like to write for your blog or do an interview. Send them the questions and give plenty of time.
  • Be mindful of who you ask. If you contact J. K. Rowling, it’s unlikely she’ll respond but don’t be discouraged. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Monitor local events at libraries, caf├ęs and bookshops. Converse and engage with other bloggers and influencers. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.

Getting the books you want to review
  • Bookshops
  • Libraries
  • Net Galley
  • Publisher ARCs
  • Blogger meet-ups


Penguin Random House (@penguinplatform/@PuffinBooks)
Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK)
Simon & Schuster (@simonkids_UK/@hashtagreads)
Bloomsbury (@KidsBloomsbury)
Hot Key Books (@HotKeyBooks)
Old Barn Books (@oldbarnbooks)
Electric Monkey/Egmont (@EMTeenFiction/@EgmontUK)
Macmillan (@MacmillanKidsUK)
Nosy Crow (@NosyCrow)
Usborne  (@Usborne)
Atom (@AtomBooks)

Bookstores to follow

Foyles (@Foyles)
Waterstones (@Waterstones and search for your local store’s Twitter handle)
Queen’s Park Books (@QPBooks)
7 Stories (@7Stories)

Christopher Moore:
Christopher is a co-founder of the YAfictionados blog (@YAfictionados) and is best known as the YAblooker. He is a twenty-five year old book blogger who has previously worked in marketing and consumer insight for various publishing houses and writes in his spare time. He loves to travel and will read anything YA-related and some general fiction and fantasy.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Carnegie Controversy: Thoughts from the 5%

The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals celebrate its 80th anniversay celebrating the best Children's books and with these longlist announcements, comes a wave of controversy. There's been much talk around the lack of BAME (Black Asian and Minority Ethnic) authors, particularly on the Carnegie list. I'm here to explore and combat the snub claims and controversy.

1. This is a prize based on literary merit, NOT the author.

Firstly, I invite you to take a look at the CILIP judging criteria for the Carnegie Medal. Nominations for the 2017 awards opened on 1 September 2016 and ran until 14 October 2016. The award is judged on style, plot and characterisation, not based on theme or the author. There have been some questions around the bias of these criteria but these are the criteria that CILIP have put forward; criteria that CILIP hold as being objective. No set of judging criteria will ever be 100% free of bias. When you look at literature, how do you put in place a set of criteria that ensures the best books (in terms of literary merit) appear on the longlist? It is impossible but CILIP have set out the criteria that allows the judges to award the best books and limit bias.

"The book that wins the Carnegie Medal should be a book of outstanding literary quality. The whole work should provide pleasure, not merely from the surface enjoyment of a good read, but also the deeper subconscious satisfaction of having gone through a vicarious, but at the time of reading, a real experience that is retained afterwards." – CILIP website

If we were to take into consideration, the cultural background of any author, it would shift the focus of the award, moving it from the story to the storyteller. Including an author on a longlist based on the colour of their skin or their ethnicity is incredibly patronising and moves the goalposts of the award.

114 titles were nominated by librarians and only 20 of these made it onto the longlist. That's 17.5% of the nominated titles or to put it another way, for every 5 titles that did not make it onto the list, 1 title did. The 20 titles that were selected by the judging panel were deemed to better meet the criteria than the other nominated titles. One Twitter user commented as follows (image, right).

Twitter can be a social vacuum and while it works for some things, I'm not sure it serves as the right platform to debate this issue  as this string of tweets shows. The first tweet talks about diversity generally  not diversity of the authors or the books. There is a wealth of diversity when it comes to the longlisted titles. I'm currently working on a spreadsheet and will post this when my research has been concluded.

No books by BAME authors were ignored and to suggest this damages an award that for 80 years, has promoted incredible Children's and Young Adult (YA) literature and encouraged a broad breadth of themes to be explored. It is worth remembering that all of the nominated titles were recognised and championed by librarians.

To suggest that judges haven't noticed the BAME authors on this list or that they "haven't seen the missing pieces of the puzzle... [and] have never experienced not being included" is ludicrous and damaging. How much research has this person done into the Carnegie Medal - the nominations and judging processes, the criteria and the judging panel itself? She is right in one respect though. The judges have ignored the fact that some of the writers are BAME as they judged on the books alone. To suggest they had time to read all of these books and research which ones where BAME and deliberately ignore them  or anything of the sort  is a bitter pill to swallow while they looked after their families, worked and carried out the everyday responsibilities that their lives dictate alongside the careful reading and judging (not to mention the meetings) in narrowing down 114 books to the 20 featured on the 2017 longlist.

The reference to "the Britain that the Carnegie wants to narrate" (image, left) is ridiculous. 50% of the authors on the longlist are British and many of the stories on the list are not set in Britain and it's this inclusiveness that makes the Carnegie Medal such a special award.

2. The BAME argument is flawed since there ARE BAME authors featured on the longlist.

Let me back-track slightly. I previously mentioned that BAME stands for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnics but the inflammatory tweets of the majority seems to suggest that there is no authors of ethnic minorities featured on the list when, frankly, this is a lie. Oxford English Dictionary defines an "ethnic minority" as:

"A group within a community which has different national or cultural traditions from the main population."

Ruta Sepetys (author of Salt to the Sea) is Lithuanian. Glenda Millard (The Stars of Oktober Bend) and Zana Frauillon (The Bone Sparrow) are both Australian. The Carnegie medal is awarded in the United Kingdom  the same country where CILIP is based  and so, in this context, these authors would be considered BAME authors. However, the argument seems to be less of one around BAME authors than it does Black and Asian authors and as my previous point outlined, the author him/herself is irrelevant in the judging of the nominated titles.

3. Every author should have the opportunity to write about whatever they choose to.

I don't think it's entirely fair to suggest that themes encompassing immigration, refugees, detention centres (etc.) are only rewarded if you're white in relation to the Carnegie Medal. It casts a negative light on the prize when it's one of the more inclusive awards out there. It looks at all books that have been published in the United Kingdom. It does not discriminate against authors outside of the U.K..

The kind of thinking implied by this tweet suggests that only Black and Asian authors should be able to discuss themes of immigration, refugees (etc.). This mentality that you should only write what you experience is dangerous thought because it limits the different lenses with which we can view important issues in our world and also limits discourse and discussion. This kind of thinking also has the potential to sway the kinds of stories that an author might tell rather than allowing them freedom to write from the heart.

If we had a write-what-you-are/write-what-you've-experienced mentality, then I should only write stories that feature a protagonist that is a gay man with a chronic illness. It's the equivalent of saying that I cannot write about witches because I am not a witch or because I am not female, I shouldn't write about female characters. This limits the infinite possibilities and perspectives that fiction offers us for both authors and readers.

4. Attacking the Carnegie questions 80 years of celebrating the best Children's and YA literature.

The criteria for this award are completely different to that of any other award as are the judges. Looking at the Costa Children's Book Award 2016, there were four books on the shortlist and no longlist published. Patrice Lawrence's Orangeboy was shortlisted for the award though only one of the titles on this shortlist, Ross Welford's Time Travelling with a Hamster, made the Carnegie longlist. The winner, Brian Conaghan's The Bombs that Brought us Together, did not make it onto the Carnegie longlist.

The judging panel also differed greatly from that of the Carnegie - an author-illustrator, a journalist/writer and the owner of a Children's specialist bookshop. The judging criteria too are also different:

"The judges’ brief is to select well-written, enjoyable books that they would strongly recommend anyone to read."

This is just one example but if you compare both prizes, the Costa Book Award is awarded to a well-written, enjoyable book (and there is nothing wrong with this) whereas the Carnegie is judged beyond surface enjoyment.

I'm quite saddened that The Guardian and particularly The Bookseller – the leading book industry media channel and magazine, have taken inflammatory opinions from Twitter and pasted them into an article alongside the generic opinion from CILIP's Nick Poole without looking at some of the other opinions on Twitter that counter and contrast the snub claims. All they have done is accelerate and misdirect attention towards damaging one of the world's oldest and most prestigious book prizes rather than allowing a platform for those that disagree. I'm annoyed too that CILIP released a generic reply to the controversy instead of producing an engaging article that tackles the claims of racism and inequality head-on. I understand that the judges are not allowed to comment which is unfortunate since some of the comments are targeted towards the judges who are unable to defend themselves.

One of the nominated authors raised an important point about the gatekeepers or diversity who, ultimately, are the publishers and everything is a ripple effect to this. A writer pens and submits their story, An agent only makes money when the author makes money and so, if the publishing industry dictates certain kinds of stories, the agent will likely supply these kinds of stories to publishers.

The lack of diverse stories on Children's and YA bookshelves would reinforce the claims this author makes but regardless of whether you agree or not, there is a clear lack of BAME stories on bookshelves. Instead of focusing on this issue, we're attacking the Carnegie; damaging 80 years of literary merit and recognition in the field. Inflammatory tweets are problematic and sometimes misleading, and do not provide a solution or a way forward so that we can focus our energies onto the positive ways we can push for change.


You're welcome to challenge my points and I suspect I may get some rather fruity comments tweeted my way. However, my opinion is my opinion and it is backed up by research. I won't be bludgeoned into submission by people that can shout the loudest and are suggesting a boycott of an incredible award that has done so much for Children's literature over the years and spit in the face of Andrew Carnegie, for whom the award is established (in his memory). What will a boycott achieve? What satisfaction will that bring other than to take away an accolade that rewards Children's author and further shrink the media coverage and awards that Children's books receive?

Matt Imrie, former CILIP Carnegie Medal judge, wrote an article on the controversy which I would strongly advise you to read. Matt raises some really important points and shines a light on the judging process for the Carnegie Medal.

To those that are "appalled" and "disappointed" by the longlist, I ask you:
  • How many of the longlisted titles have you read before you tweeted your views?
  • How many of the nominated titles did you read?
I'm willing to bet that the only people that read all 114 books are the judges themselves.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Christopher Moore: who am I and what do I want?

Harrow on the hill.
If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I’m a force to be reckoned when there’s something I want. 

I want you to know this. Not that I’m: 
  • A Blogger 
  • An aspiring author 
  • Irish 
  • Gay 
  • Tall 

In between work, book-tubing, blogging, reading, writing, sipping copious (and dangerous) amounts of coffee and packing my life into two suitcases, I have had time to reflect on what I want this year and here it is: 

  • To set up a Youtube channel that talks about my everyday experience including dating and the (often) ridiculous situations I end up in;
  • To continue to book-tube and collaborate with the magnificent Xina Hailey, fellow book-tuber, mentor and lifelong friend, and post a video every second Thursday from February 2017; 
  • To continue to interact with authors, support rising UK and Irish YA talent and chair panels and events wherever and whenever possible; 
  • To get an agent in 2017 for my debut LGBT YA title (keeping this one under wraps for now) and (fingers crossed) see it on my favourite bookshelves near and far (especially the lovely Queen’s Park Books); 
  • To be 100% unapologetic for who I am whether that be camp, feminine or otherwise; to listen to my head and follow my heart and own all of who I am so this year can be one of happiness and adventure; 
  • To try at least one new thing each month, whether that be a Rocky Road Hot Chocolate or climbing mountains; 
  • To diversify my blog and incorporate more personal experiences and cooking disasters (and triumphs) as well as the most beautiful books and round-ups each month;
  • Include alt tags, where possible, to improve accessibility to my blog.

Here’s to 2017. Here's to us. Here's to:

New Orleans.
Adventures in N'awlins
(and what looks like the Goblet of Fire).
Sunset at San Diego sunset.
Californian sunsets in vertigo-inducing cable cars.
Seymour Park, Vancouver.
My new home this summer
(not the rock - I'm not Ariel). Vancouver!
New Year's Eve celebrations in Club Revenge, Brighton.
NYE celebrations with this beauty
(not the strange, photo-bombing guy).
My twin cousins.
My beautiful cousins who brighten up my darkest of days.
Me and my friend, Kim.
Being silly.
Drinking coffee in Singapore.
Novel coffee ideas.
Me and Louise Gornall (Under Rose Tainted Skies).
Fantastic debut authors like the fab
Louise Gornall (Under Rose Tainted Skies).
Macaque monkeys at the Batu caves.
Sad little monkeys.
At work.
Being a werk-ing professional.
Non Pratt, me, Siobhan Curham and Juno Dawson.
People that inspire.
Left to right, Non Pratt, me,Siobhan Curham and Juno Dawson.
The River Liffey, Dublin, at night.
Rainbow pedestrian crossing.
Yes, more equality.
Me before undergoing my operation.
New beginnings as I underwent my operation
to amend the scars left by my major surgeries and
owning my chronic illness. 
Business class dining on our flight to Austin, Texas.
Flying across the Atlantic with my hero
(and her stashed bag of popcorn).
3-D coffee in Penang, Malaysia.
The cutest coffee you will ever see.
Bellinis and afternoon tea.
Bellinis and afternoon tea.

Gold temple statues in Penang.
The three wise monks.
My friend Zach, asleep on the train to Brighton.
Long days and longer nights. Bless.

Champagne in business class to Vancouver.
Business class (because you're worth it).

Our flight from Dublin to London in business class.
When a hero comes along...
treat her to British Airways business class
all the way.

Flight to Boston with my sister.
Family and my best friend
(by default).

MacRitchie Reservoir in Singapore.
More monkeys in Singapore.

March, 2016 - flight to Dublin for St. Patrick's Day.
Unexpected surprises with unexpected friends
en route to Dublin for St Patrick's Day.

Authors Krystal Sutherland, Katie Webber and Michael Grant wtih PR manager, Alice.
Bookish dream teams <3 .="" td="">

Book borrowing in Vancouver.
Canadian book communities.

The ruins in Rome.
Being on top of the world.
Baby koala in Singapore Zoo.
Baby koalas (do Amazon deliver?).

Komodo dragon in Singapore Zoo
Waving your claws in the air like you just don't care.

Rollercoasting by the coast.

Crowds during Austin Pride on the streets.
Austin pride and my small-town Utopia.
My Mam with Irish drag queen, Veda Lady.
Mam, stepping outside her comfort zone
and loving it.
Painting on the walls around the city of Penang.
The moments when you're too pregnant with food
 to give it your all.

Outside the Batu Caves.
Putting things into perspective.
The Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) magazine.
Book prizes and book addiction
(Hey - there are far worse addictions).
Bookish lights in my local cafe.
Bookish lights.
Painting at the Frist in Nashville, Tennessee.
Beautiful art that inspired my book.
Athena statue at the Parthenon replica.
The goddess of wisdom.
My friend, Xina at Tesco.
This weird and wonderful human being: K-POP FTW.
Me and Zach in Downtown Austin, Texas.
Moments that steal our hearts
and captivate the senses.
Pathway at Harrow on the hill.
The wonders closer to home.
Christmas jumper for my friend which I borrowed.
That Christmas jumper I bought for Zach and stole.
Navy Pier, Chicago.
 Navy Pier.
Water faucet.
Drunken moments where it seemed like a good idea
 to take the water faucet that fell off.
Alberquerque International Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico.
The places we have yet to see.

Sunset in Langkawi, Malaysia.
Sunsets in para-para-paradise.
Playing in the pool with my twin cousins.
Fun in the Sun with Twin 1 and Twin 2.
Zombie football player on the tube.
Missing the mark on the "sexy American football player" look
and becoming a zombie instead for Halloqween.
My best friend's wedding.
My BFF's wedding (and I blend
into the background. Literally).
Portland, Oregon.
Finding beauty in the everyday ordinary.
Sink the Pink event with drag queens, cabaret and girl band, Bewitched.
Sink the Pink madness.
Drinking Singapore Slings at the place of creation: Raffles Hotel, Singapore.
Drinking the original Singapore Sling.
Hotel room view in Malaysia.
Take-my-breath-away hotel room views.
Starfruit juice in Malaysia.
Starfruit juice for the star-in-training.
Meerkat at San Diego Zoo.
This cute little critter.
'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' prop.
Pride make-up for Boston Pride.
Being exactly who you want to be
and not who people expect you to be.