An Adventure in Book Hunting #2: Albatross Books

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As some of you may know I sell antique and vintage books on Etsy. It’s a hobby that allows me to do one of my favourite things – buy old books – without feeling too guilty. It’s not really about making money (although that’s nice too), it’s about the joy of finding beautiful old / rare books, researching their history and giving them a new home. In this new feature I will be sharing some of my finds with you!

Albatross paperbacks – various

Found: Ebay

These caught my eye because of the striking covers and their resemblance to the classic Penguin books, but I’d never heard of Albatross. When I delved into the history of the publishers it all became clear…

  • Christmas Holiday by Somerset Maugham. 1947
  • These Foolish Things by Michael Sadleir. 1937
  • Strange Glory by L.H Myers. 1938

History

Albatross Books was a German publishing house based in Hamburg that produced the first ever modern mass market paperback books. Founded in 1932 by John Holroyd-Reece, Max Christian Wegner and Kurt Enoch, the name was chosen because “Albatross” is the same word in many European languages.

Based on the example of Tauchnitz, a Leipzig publishing firm that had been producing inexpensive and paper-bound English-language reprints for the continental market, Albatross set out to streamline and modernise the paperback format.

The books in the series, also known as the Albatross Continental Library, were produced in a new standardised size (181 x 111 mm), which became known as the Golden Ratio – still used today. They used new sans-serif fonts developed by Stanley Morison among others, and were color-coded by genre, with green for travel, orange for fiction, and so on. The series was so successful that Albatross soon purchased Tauchnitz, giving itself an instant 100-year heritage.

The outbreak of World War II brought the Albatross experiment to a halt, but by then Allen Lane, founder of Penguin Books had adopted many of Albatross’ ideas, including the standard size, the idea of covers using typography and logo but no illustrations, and the use of colour coding by type of content. Lane later hired Kurt Enoch, co-founder of Albatross Books, to manage Penguin’s American branch. (Wiki)

More info here: Publishing History

Inscriptions/Features


Two of the books are signed and dated. One is unreadable but one clearly reads 1938. In These Foolish Things there is an original ‘postcard’ from Albatross books reading:

‘Dear reader,

If I have not yet chosen that special book you want me to publish, would you not care to select it yourself? A free copy is sent of every book published at a reader’s suggestion to whoever proposed it first. On receipt of your card you will be informed if the book in question has been suggested already and if not it will be read at once.

Hoping yours will be the first suggestion, I remain,

Yours sincerely,

The Albatross’

Purchase

I’ve found a few copies of Christmas Holiday in slightly better condition than mine over  on AbeBooks  for around $35, but haven’t had much luck with the others, so hopefully that means they’re pretty rare. I’m selling these three as a set for just £20 as they’re not in the best condition but still readable! I also have a sale on the moment with 1/3 off selected items. 

Do these books mean anything to you? I’d love to hear more about the history of  Albatross.

Release by Patrick Ness #BookReview #LGBT #YA

releaseTitle: Release
Author: Patrick Ness
Series: n/a
Format: Hardback, 287 pages
Publication Details: 
May 4th 2017 by Walker Books
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary; LGBT
Disclosure? Nope, my copy came with a ticket to the book launch – I was under no obligation to post a review. 

Goodreads 

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Inspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume’s Forever, Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn, 17. It’s a big day. Things go wrong. It’s intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches…

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It’s a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won’t come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course.


Review

You should all know by now that I love Patrick Ness, so I was of course very excited about his new release, Release, especially considering my friend Dora and I got tickets to the premiere of the book tour.

I posted about the whole shebang here. It was such a great night with insightful and inspiring discussions that my already high expectation bar was pushed through the roof…and I can’t help feeling a little deflated by the whole thing now that I’ve finished the book. SAD PANDA.

Adam Thorn is a gay 17 year old with a bad-boy magnet best friend called Angela, a strict preacher father, and a couple of ex-boyfriends who have treated him pretty terribly. What could go wrong, I hear you say!?

I loved everything Patrick Ness said when discussing this book – the need for diversity in books to reflect the world we live in, the need for YA books with gay protagonists to not shy away from sex scenes, all of it, but it just felt a bit forced here and I think the story suffered because of that.

Release is actually quite a subtle book, and whereas I don’t think that’s a bad thing, I just wasn’t expecting that from all the passionate discussion points in the book launch. I’m not sure this is quite the book Patrick Ness thought he had written. It does spotlight some important issues, but I felt like it needed more drama to really pack a punch. In trying to make it tender, I think a lot of its potential was quashed.

Running alongside Adam’s story is a strange, morbid fairy-tale allegory about a faun and a queen who is actually the ghost of a recently deceased fellow student of Adam’s, and this just did not work for me at all. It came across as a bit pretentious to be honest and I ended up skipping nearly all of these sequences after about a third of the way through. VERY SAD PANDA.

It’s actually quite painful to slag off one of your favourite authors, but I’d be a pretty rubbish book blogger if I couldn’t be honest with myself about how I feel about a book. It has some lovely moments, and is of course written beautifully. And I love everything Patrick was wanting to say with Release, but I think maybe he tried a bit too hard and didn’t quite manage to pull it off.

unicorn rating 3

 

This Week in Books 17.05.17 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next. 

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I barely got any reading done last weekend/this week so my answers are the same. Fail. I blame Eurovision for giving me a 3-day hangover -LOL! My WoW and and New on the Shelf  answers are different though, so read on…

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Now: The Marsh King’s Daughter  ~ Karen Dionne // The Time Machine ~ H.G Wells

I haven’t got stuck into this yet, but I have a good feeling about it. And I’m almost, finally, done with The Time Machine which I’ve been trying to read at lunch times.

Then:  Release ~ Patrick Ness

I think because I went to the book launch and listened to Patrick speak so passionately about his book that I had very high expectations and so I was a little disappointed by Release – but only a little. It was a beautiful book, I just got slapped by the hype-monster. Gah! My review will be up soon.

Next: ???

I’m really not sure this time. I’m going to let my mood decide at the time.

New on the Shelves

Netgalley: 

Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit was my WoW last week so I was pleased to get approved!

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I’m Waiting On…

I saw this on a few blogs last week and seem to be on a bit of a thriller kick so I’d like to give it a go!

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There’s trouble in paradise. . .

For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight’s retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy. It should be paradise, but it’s turned into a nightmare.

Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes. After everything they’ve been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all – where has her husband gone?

 Expected Publication: June 1st 2017 by Penguin

 So that’s been my week in books, now why don’t you tell me about yours!?

This Week in Books 10.05.17 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next. 

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I’m very happy this week because it’s Eurovision week. If you don’t know what that means I’m sad for you, LOL! Bring on Saturday.

Anyway, this is what my week has looked like:

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Now: The Marsh King’s Daughter  ~ Karen Dionne // The Time Machine ~ H.G Wells

I haven’t got stuck into this yet, but I have a good feeling about it. And I’m almost, finally, done with The Time Machine which I’ve been trying to read at lunch times.

Then:  Release ~ Patrick Ness

I think because I went to the book launch and listened to Patrick speak so passionately about his book that I had very high expectations and so I was a little disappointed by Release – but only a little. It was a beautiful book, I just got slapped by the hype-monster. Gah! My review will be up soon.

Next: ???

I’m really not sure this time. I’m going to let my mood decide at the time.

New on the Shelves

I didn’t buy any, or request any books this week. Go me!

 

I’m Waiting On…

Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit

Because…I just saw this on Netgalley and thought it sounded intriguing. I hope I get approved!

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YOU’D DIE FOR YOUR FAMILY.

BUT WOULD YOU KILL FOR THEM?

***

Family is everything.

So what if yours was being terrorised by a neighbour – a man who doesn’t listen to reason, whose actions become more erratic and sinister with each passing day? And those you thought would help – the police, your lawyer – can’t help you.

You become afraid to leave your family at home alone. But there’s nothing more you can do to protect them.

Is there?

Expected Publication: Jan 25th 2017 by Orion

So that’s been my week in books, now why don’t you tell me about yours!?

Top Ten Tuesday: Gimme More #TTT #weneeddiversebooks

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is… Top Ten Things On Our Reading Wishlist. All those things that make you think I WANT MORE OF THIS IN BOOKS!

I haven’t done one of these in a while. I really felt like joining in this week, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to think of ten…

  1. Multi-cultural families: Inspired by something Patrick Ness said at his recent book tour premiere, and my recent read of The Inexplicable Logic of my Life I think there definitely needs to be more books featuring multi-cultural families. For example, a Scottish father and a Caribbean mother and how their children embrace (or not!) being part of two different cultures.
  2. Mother/Daughter relationships: For Mother’s Day one year I tried to do a top ten of books with great mother/daughter relationships (inspired by Gilmore Girls) but could barely come up with a handful. More please.
  3. Indigenous protagonists: I want to read more stories from the perspectives of indigenous people, from Shawnee tribes-people to Inupiats and everything in between.
  4. Cults: Why aren’t there more stories featuring cults? I’ve always found the idea of cults fascinating, and surely there’s lots of mileage you could get out of a story like that. It could be a horror, or a contemporary YA, a psychological thriller….all would make a great cult story.
  5. Unicorns: Obviously. Grown up, magical but kick-ass unicorn stories please.
  6. Happy Singletons: It really annoys me that there’s not many books about people being single AND happy. It does happen, people!
  7. Damaged guys: This one’s a bit shameful but yeah, I always fancy the damaged, broken guys in books (& tv/film)…I can’t be the only one, right!? More please.
  8. Letter writing: I’m scraping the barrel a bit here but I miss stories were the characters write letters to each other rather than texting all the time. I also haven’t read a good book in diary format for ages.
  9. Allergies: I’m allergic to lots of things and it’s a complete pain in the arse. I’ve only just realised that I haven’t read many books where a main character has allergies. Could be interesting.
  10. Nordic Settings: I know there’s quite a lot of Nordic-based adult fic out there, but I haven’t seen much of that going on on the YA scene. Yes please.

Whoop! I did it!

What’s on your book wishlist? And please let me know if my answers sparked any recommendation ideas!

Reading Round-up: April 2017 #BookReviews

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Welcome to my new post where I discuss any books that I read in the month which for one reason or another didn’t warrant a full review. This is a way for me to keep track of what I’ve read but without the pressure of having to write comprehensive reviews for them all. 

There were three books I read this month that I didn’t end up reviewing in full…

The Last Act of Love ~ Cathy Rentzenbrink

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I’m not one for memoirs really, but I’ve heard Cathy talk before and thought she was amazing. She’s also coming into my library to do a talk in celebration of World Book Night so I thought I had better read her book first. I’m so glad I did, it was soooo good. Completely heart-breaking, but also bursting with energy and joy in places. It’s a must-read for anyone.

One False Move ~ Dreda Say Mitchell

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I read this one lunch-time as it’s a Quick Read aimed at less confident readers. It was a fast-paced story about a young woman trying to keep out of jail but facing many difficulties along the way. I enjoyed it, and now I have something I can recommend to some of my customers at work who are put off by larger books.

Six of Crows ~ Leigh Bardugo

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So many people have raved about this book, and a few have personally told me to read it because I will love it even more than The Grisha Trilogy so I feel quite bad in saying this – I just could not take this book in. I read it pretty quickly, but a couple of weeks on and I don’t think I could even tell you what happened. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood – IDK. But I think I’m done with the Grisha world for now.

AOB

{that’s any other business for those of you that’ve never had the misfortune to have a job where people say that all the time}

 

This Week in Books 03.05.17 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next. 

Hi guys, happy Wednesday. Here’s to another four-day working week – hurrah!

This is what my week has looked like:

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Now: Release ~ Patrick Ness // The Time Machine ~ H.G Wells

I HAD to read this next after going to the book launch last week. I love Patrick Ness even more now! I also started listening to The Knife of Never letting Go (reread), which I got in the goodie bag – it’s my first ever audiobook. Weird I know!

Annnnnd, I managed significant progress on my ‘lunch-time read’ The Time Machine so I’m going to persevere. Not much left!

Then: The Inexplicable Logic of my Life ~ Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Last night I finished TILOML. I loved it. I was worried it couldn’t live up to his previous book, Ari & Dante but I didn’t have to worry. Another beautiful book by Sáenz.

Next: ???

I’ll probably make a start on my June ARC – The Marsh King’s Daughter.

New on the Shelves

Bought:

I didn’t mean to buy any books this week, but then I saw these two mega discounted and…well..Sigh! I’m trying to read more non-fiction these days.

 

 And these from the Patrick Ness Goodie bag:

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I’m Waiting On…

 

Weycombe by G.M Malliet

Because…I haven’t read a good mystery for a while and the setting of this one sounds great!

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 Weycombe is the chocolate-box village of everyone’s dreams. For American Jillian White, a gated life of pleasure and comfort with her titled English husband was a fantasy come true. But the murder of a local estate agent mars the village’s so-pretty surface. Are people actually dying to live in Weycombe? Jill investigates, piecing together clues along the snaking paths and winding lanes of her adopted village. She knows truth has many versions, depending on who is doing the telling. And that few can be trusted in Weycombe, where nothing is as perfect as it seems.


Expected Publication: October 8th 2017 by Midnight Ink

So that’s been my week in books, now why don’t you tell me about yours!?

This Month in Books: April 2017 #Bookreviews #MonthlyRoundup

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April was good. A group of friends and I rented a cottage in Yorkshire for a weekend which was lovely. Easter was fun. I spent it eating a lot and watching classic films with friends. Perfect. I also started to get my mojo back in the reading and blogging sense – a huge relief after a couple of bad months!

April 2017 Stats

Total Posts: 9 (-5 from previous month)

Books Read: 5 (+1)
The Wingsnatchers ~ Sarah Jean Horwitz
One False Move ~ Dreda Say Mitchell
The Last Act of Love ~ Cathy Rentzenbrink
Six of Crows ~ Leigh Bardugo
Sucktown, Alaska ~ Craig Dirkes
The Breakdown:
Genres: YA (2/5); Children’s Fiction (1/5); Memoir (1/5); Crime/Thriller (1/5)

Formats/Sources: Advance Copy (2/5); Digital (2/5); Hardback (0/5); Paperback (3/5) / Owned (1/5); Borrowed (1/5); For Review/proofs (2/5)

Most Surprising: The Last Act of Love
Most Disappointing: Six of Crows
Most Exciting: The Wingsnatchers I guess
Most Swoon-worthy:  Six of Crows
Most Beautifully Written: The Last Act of Love

Reviews

Most Viewed Posts

  1. This Week in Books 17.04.17
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  3. This Month in Books: March

Promos, Guest Posts and other Highlights

Awards

TBR Shelf Update

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Earlier this year I decided I HAD to do something about my physical TBR shelves. Each month I’ll be doing a quick update to see how I’ve done. See my original post here, and my updated TBR list here. 

Previous TBR Count: 84

Books Added: 1

Books Read: 2

Remaining: 83

That was my month, how was yours?

Sucktown, Alaska by Craig Dirkes (Out Today) #BookReview #YA

Title: Sucktown, Alaskasucktown
Author: Craig Dirkes
Series: n/a
Format: Digital ARC, 350 pages
Publication Details: 
May 1st 2017 by Switch Press
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

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Looking for a great adventure, eighteen-year-old Eddie Ashford stumbles into a job as a reporter in tiny Kusko, Alaska, a place so remote that bush planes are the only way in or out.

When the job and the place, which sits on the flat and desolate tundra and not in the stunning mountains he’d imagined, turn out to be disappointments, Eddie thinks maybe it’s time to bail.

But three things tie him there: 1) Taylor, a girl who might be a little too pretty and a little too smart for him; 2) Finn, a new friend who is an all-around good dude but also happens to be a small-time pot dealer; and 3) Eddie’s empty wallet, which means he can’t afford to transport himself and his possessions back to civilization.

Despite every good-guy instinct inside him, Eddie flirts with trouble as he tries to find a way home.


Review

As most of you already know contemporary YA is usually a little bit marmite for me. I either really dislike it, or I love it. Sucktown, Alaska has ruined that theory because I thought it was good, but not great.

The story is about Eddie. A seventeen year old who has flunked out of college for partying too hard. To make amends he has bagged himself a job as a journalist in the remote village of Kusko, Alaska, to prove that he can apply himself. If he can stick it out for a year, he will be allowed to continue his studies.

I was drawn to this book because it’s not often I read YA books from the male perspective, well, not straight males anyway. And I’ve always wanted to visit Alaska, there’s something just so raw about it that appeals to me.

I think Sucktown, Alaska has a lot going for it. The thing I enjoyed the most was the realness of it. Eddie is a real guy. He’s a man’s man, if not an immature one. At times he can be vulgar and obnoxious like any teenage boy. He has moments of sweetness and loyalty but he’s also monumentally stupid, and objectifies women.

Nothing is sugarcoated in Eddie’s story. Alaska is portrayed as a harsh place to live, especially in winter. I wasn’t aware of the state’s tribulations with alcohol and drug abuse, and in turn the prolific amount of bootleggers, and the story inspired me to learn more about the place instead of just thinking it looks pretty. Good stories do that, inspire.

However, on the whole I was a little bit disappointed with the story. It had a gentle pace and I felt like more needed to happen. Eddie starts selling drugs about half way through the story and considering that seemed the main plot point I wondered why it took so long to get to it.

I feel like there were things missing. Relationships, mainly. Eddie’s infatuation with Taylor was pretty superficial, and I thought more should have come out of his relationship with his boss/landlord. The only really meaningful relationship was between Eddie and the husky dogs, and maybe his drug-dealer friend.

I do think Sucktown, Alaska is a good coming-of-age tale for young male readers. I don’t think there’s enough of that. We see Eddie grow up a lot during his time in Kusko. He’s pretty hard on himself about his past discretions and needs to let that go. He’s a good guy deep down, he just needs to learn how to care about himself and other people, and by the end he’s done just that.

Overall, there was a lot I enjoyed about this book, but it needed an extra injection of action or romance to make it a must-read. I’m surprised by how many bad reviews there are on Goodreads, and I urge you to not be put off by them. I guess some people can’t handle the sometimes vulgar mind of a seventeen year old boy, but I for one think that was what made it a realistic story.

unicorn rating 3

Patrick Ness Release Premiere @ Curzon Soho – Be more LA, YA! #BookLaunch

Last Wednesday was the premiere launch event for Patrick Ness’ new release, Release, and I was there (not to rub it in or anything), but yayyyy!

For any of you who don’t know, Patrick is the author of several (amazing) YA books including The Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, and A Monster Calls which was adapted for the screen recently. He also penned the BBC series Class which has ties to the world of Doctor Who.

The night consisted of an on-stage interview with Patrick, a Q&A with the audience, and a signing. We also got pretty amazing goodie bags (see bottom of post) not to mention the new book a week before its release. *Happy Dance*

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© Alex Dimopoulos for Walker Books

 

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© Alex Dimopoulos for Walker Books

 

Before I get into some of the topics discussed, let me just say that it’s all paraphrased by me as I didn’t take notes, and my memory is pretty terrible at the best of times, never mind after a tipple or two 😉

Firstly, Patrick discussed  the new book, Release, which is a day in the life of Adam Thorn, ‘the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything.’ 

Patrick talked about being sick of reading gay YA books where the climax of the relationship is two boys holding hands under a tree. It’s not real. Real teenagers have sex. Yes, even gay ones. A great discussion about sex in literature ensued, with Patrick saying that he needed a book like this as a teenager; where gay sex is portrayed in a tender, sweet, and honest way. For books to omit loving, gay sex is damaging. Teenagers think there’s something wrong with it (them), and they turn to other things to explore like porn and Grindr.

He talked about hating the phrase ‘coming to terms with your sexuality’, explaining that he doesn’t think it’s something you have to come to terms with because it’s just who you are. It’s the world’s problem if they can’t handle that. Feel the fear, but do it anyway.

 

 

The discussion about how LGBTQ teens are represented in literature then turned to a broader look at diversity, and Patrick talked about his (many!) nephews and nieces, many of whom are mixed race and multi-cultured. And that’s what the world looks like, if that isn’t represented in books, then it’s not realistic.

Diversity shouldn’t be a tick list, but if that’s what it takes to make sure all people are represented then so be it. He talked passionately about the importance of stories being a mirror. I can’t remember who he said the quote came from but it was that in all good stories, the protagonists are like mirrors – all readers should be able to see themselves in the character – but I whole-heartedly agree with him when he said that it’s only people who are always represented who think everyone can see parts of themselves in characters. And that’s why he didn’t hold back in this book, and The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Recognising yourself in a story is magic… and the world is screaming out for more diverse stories, just look at Angie Thomas’ current success with THUG.

He urges everyone to write their story. If you are not mirrored in the books you read, write that story. Don’t ask permission. Write anyway. Writers don’t just write. They write anyway.

We were then led to the age old YA Vs Adult fiction debate. His definition for the genres was so perfect it made me jaw-drop:

 

YA tends to be about exploring boundaries. Adult tends to be about being trapped by those boundaries.”

 

The book snobbery surrounding YA was mentioned and I loved Patrick’s response. He believes it shouldn’t be a battle. YA shouldn’t be fighting against Adult Lit. There is good stuff everywhere. If you can’t admit that there’s good stuff in other genres you sound like a cult leader (LOL!). His analogy to LA always being slagged off by New Yorkers cracked me up too. Does LA give a shit what NY thinks? Nope. LA says ‘no worries man, come on over and have a good time anyway. Maybe you’ll leave with a different attitude.

Be more LA, YA. Be more LA.

While I agree with him completely, I do get exasperated having to explain the Young Adult genre to people. I work in a prison library and I’m constantly trying get prisoners to engage with reading. I think YA would be perfect for them, but they look at me like I’m mad. But why would you/I read that? It’s for children. Sigh. But no more, I’m going to be more LA, too!

There was lots more discussion, but those were my favourite parts. I’ve also been left with the need to read Mrs Dalloway, and Forever by Judy Blume -both of which inspired Release, and both of which have passed me by.

After the talk and Q&A, my friend Dora and I (and the other 200 -that’s a guess- people) queued to get our books signed. And this is where I feel the need to apologise. The queue was long. I had plenty of time to come up with something great to say to Patrick Ness as he signed my book…

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© Alex Dimopoulos for Walker Books

I could have told him what I’ve just told you about being more LA at work. But no.

I could have told him I loved The Rest of Us Just Live Here so much because it reminded me of a Buffy spin-off show concentrating on the minor characters at the school who aren’t in the know about Buffy and the Hellmouth. They witness all the weird shit, but aren’t let in on the big secret. But no.

I could have asked him how he could possibly enjoy redrafting more than getting the story down initially. About how I splurge out all these stories but find it impossible to transform them into a not-hot-mess. But no.

What did I say,  Readers?

I said *dons voice of stupidity* are you bored yet? I mean really. What a Knobular. I can only apologise. Patrick was of course extremely sweet regardless.


Thanks to Walker Books, Waterstones and Curzon, (not to mention the wonderful Patrick Ness himself), for putting on such a great night!

Photographs my own unless otherwise credited.