Winged Reviews A UK young adult book blog for those a little bit older.

Bookish Firsts: Robin Stevens

Bookish Firsts: Robin Stevens

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On today’s Bookish Firsts, we have awesome debut author and real life Sesame Seade, Robin Stevens! Her book Murder Most Unladylike is simply wonderful (also called Murder is Bad Manners in the US). If you need convincing, just gaze at the pretty covers!



Bookish Firsts

With author Robin Stevens

What is the first book you ever read/remember reading?
It took quite a while for me to read confidently – so long that my teacher actually told my mother she was worried that my American accent might be causing problems. But then something just clicked in my head, and there was no holding me back. I’m sure this isn’t really the first book I read, but I have a very clear memory of reading The Hobbit and feeling so proud that I was finally reading on my own. I was amazed by the story – I hadn’t come across that kind of epic adventure before – and in love with the riddles Tolkien wove into the story. I was very angry about what happened to those ponies in the mine, though. I’m actually not sure I’ve forgiven him for it to this day.

What was your first signed book & who is the first author you ever met?
Both of these are the same: when I was fifteen, Diana Wynne Jones came to the Cheltenham Festival of Literature, and I went to see her. It was one of the most marvellous things that had ever happened to me. She was just as wonderful as her books, and she talked about her stories and characters in such a fantastic way. I already knew I had to be a writer, but watching her, I saw exactly the kind of writer I wanted to be. I took along my battered paperback of The Dark Lord of Derkholm for her to sign, and told her that Nick from Deep Secret was my favourite made-up person in the multiverse. It’s still one of my most treasured memories, and that signed copy has pride of place on my bookshelf.

004robin-authorpicWhat is the first book you ever wrote?
I’ve always written stories, even before I could actually write (when I was very young I thought that reading was a sort of telepathy that grown-ups could do, and was disappointed when my mother couldn’t read my scribbles), but the first full-length novel I completed was when I was sixteen. I was supposed to be revising for my GCSEs, so of course I wrote a book instead. It was about a vampire, a werewolf, a dragon and two witches, and I thought it was incredibly inventive. Then I realised that it was essentially a badly-done rewrite of Diana Wynne Jones’s Black Maria. Needless to say, it’s never going to see the light of day!

Thank you Robin for stopping by the blog! If you haven’t read Murder Most Unladylike yet, then go do it! It will completely charm you.

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London Book Events in August 2014

London Book Events in August 2014

It’s going to be such an amazing couple of weeks for fantasy and other book events thanks to all the amazing authors that are drawn in by Nineworlds and LonCon!

If you are like me and can’t make it to either, here are several ‘in between’ the cons events that will be happening:

Tuesday, 12 August

Fantasy in the Court at Goldsboro Books
Robin Hobb at Forbidden Planet

Wednesday, 13 August
Gollancz Festival at Waterstones Piccadilly and online throughout the day
Angry Robot and Titan Books Invasion at Forbidden Planet
Fantasy Faction’s Grim Gathering at Waterstones Kensington

Thursday, 14 August
In conversation with David Levithan and James Dawson at Waterstones Piccadilly
Seconds Launch Party with Bryan Lee O’Malley at Gosh

Friday, 15 August
Lauren Oliver at Hatchards Piccadilly

Saturday, 16 August
Comica Firecat Comiket: Independent Comics Market at The British Library

Sunday, 17 August
Blogger meet with Victoria Schwab and Amie Kaufman (email me if you are interested in coming)

Monday, 18 August
George RR Martin at Forbidden Planet
Scott Lynch at Forbidden Planet

Tuesday, 19 August
George RR Martin in conversation with Robin Hobb at Freemasons’ Hall

Thursday, 28 August
Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan at Waterstones Piccadilly

If I’ve missed something, please let me know and I can add it to the list!

Which events will you be hitting up in August? Either here or the rest of the UK?

I will be going to most of these (at least trying to run around like a headless chicken trying to go to as many as possible), so if you see me do say hi! I think it will be an exciting month and I can’t wait!

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Book Blogger UKYA Awards: Nominations

Book Blogger UKYA Awards: Nominations


Hi everyone, today I, along with a lot of my fellow bloggers, are really proud to announce that the Book Blogger UKYA Awards are open for nominations!

Please use the form below to nominate the books and authors that you love! You can nominate up to three books and authors per category, so choose wisely!

Nominations will stay open for two weeks until 24th August.

After then, the shortlist will be sorted and voting will begin on the 1st September.

Good luck to all the lovely books and authors and get nominating!

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Countdown to 7 August – Why YA? Guest Post from Tom Pollock

Countdown to 7 August – Why YA? Guest Post from Tom Pollock

Countdown 7 August

I’m so thrilled to host super cool author Tom Pollock to mark the release of the third and final book in his epic urban fantasy series, Our Lady of the Streets. Big congratulations to Tom for completing The Skyscraper Throne series and I look forward to reading it!

P.S. As part of the amazing Authors for Philippines last year, I bid to be in this book, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what sort of evil villain Tom has made me out to be. I promise it’s all made up. Really.

Guest Post from Tom Pollock

Why? Why? Why YA, eh?

(Title to be sung to the tune of Tom Jones Delila, obviously.)

Okay so there this question I get asked a lot, and it bugs me.

If you’re anything like me you’ve probably been asked it too. It usually comes when you’re chatting to someone about books you like, or when they come around to your house and see your shelves, or you tell them what you’re working on. They take a sip of their tea to make a bit of time, wrinkle their brow, smile at you in an ‘I hope this isn’t rude of me to ask’ kind of way, and say:

‘But why YA? Isn’t that a little bit young for you?’

If you’re anything like me, this question makes you want ‘a little bit’ to Eskimo kiss a piranha, because the implications are clear:

‘Shouldn’t you, you know, read books for adults, now? You know, proper books?

Shouldn’t you have put away childish things?’

Rudyard Kipling, you have a lot to answer for.

This expectation – that if you read or write YA, you ought to be a teenager – is bizarre, particularly so because it’s not one we hold for any other kind of fiction. I don’t need to be a Victorian to read books set (or indeed written) in the 19th Century, I don’t need to have battled a white walker to read A Game of Thrones, and if everyone who read books about serial killers actually was one, well, the population of Sweden would be considerably smaller for a start. In fact, every character we read about will be different to us, they have to be, otherwise it wouldn’t be fiction; it would be memoir.

Imagine a world where the only thing you were allowed to read was your own autobiography. Over and over again.

So what’s different about YA? Why do we think it’s normal for an adult to read about a mass-murdering cannibal psychiatrist, but not someone under the age of eighteen?

Part of it, I think, is the lack of clarity around the term. People tend to think it means ‘for young adults’ rather than simply ‘about young adults’. But I think ‘for young adults’ in this context doesn’t actually mean anything, or at least nothing we can identify in the text. What is this elusive quality that makes a novel exclusively appropriate to those of pre-voting age? YA books run the gamut across genres, styles, themes and structures, from the Spartan brutality of The Hunger Games to the multi-generational historical satirical romance of Life: An Exploded Diagram. The only thing all these books have in common, is that they’re about teenagers.

The other factor I think, is this:

There’s this lie.

It’s a lie that’s so deeply imbedded in our culture and our language that people rarely actually have to say it outright. It’s a lie that scared the crap out of me as a kid, and it’s this:

‘One day, you’ll grow up.’

Before you start fitting me out for a green felt hat and tights, it’s not the ‘growing up’ bit that I have a problem with: it’s the ‘one day’ bit. It frames the process of becoming an adult – of finding your place in the world and deciding who you are, as discrete, as a thing with an end point, a thing that stops.

Like all good lies it’s reinforced by stories and movies and common idiom, and well everything except our actual experience of life:

What do you want to be when you grow up?

When you grow up, you’ll understand.

…and they all lived, happily ever after.

It was that ‘ever after’ that so appalled childhood me. It was so permanent, so fixed, so static. ‘You’d better get this coming of age thing right’ it suggested, ‘because you only get one shot at it, and you’re going to have to live with the consequences forever.’

The good news? It’s not true. The world is way too complicated for it to be true.

We can’t just pick one way of living on the back of eighteen years life experience and expect it to last us for the next sixty. We’re always changing: changing the jobs we work, the countries we live in, changing in response to getting married or our parents passing away. We’re always growing, you can pretty much lose the ‘up’. So obviously books about growing and adapting and changing, about finding your place in the world and deciding who you want to be, will feel relevant to us, there’s no surprise in that.

So the next time someone asks me why I read YA, maybe I’ll say ‘I guess I’m still growing up. Why? Aren’t you?’

About Our Lady of the Streets

Our Lady of the Streets by Tom Pollock

Release: 7 August 2014
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books

Goodreads | Buy the Book

Four months ago, Mater Viae, the Goddess of London, returned from London-Under- Glass to reclaim her throne. And ever since then, London has been dying.

Streets are wracked by convulsions as muscles of wire and pipe go into spasm, bunching the city into a crippled new geography; pavements flare to thousand-degree fevers, incinerating anyone and anything touching them. Towers crash to the ground, their foundations decayed.

As the streets sicken, so does Beth, drawn ever deeper into the heart of the city, while Pen fights desperately for a way to save her. But when they discover that Mater Viae’s plans for dominion stretch far beyond London’s borders, they must make a choice: Beth has it within her to unleash the city’s oldest and greatest powers – powers that could challenge the vengeful goddess, or destroy the city itself.

About Tom Pollock

Tom is a long-time fan of science fiction and fantasy, and has failed spectacularly to grow out of his obsession with things that don’t, in the strictest sense of the word, exist. He studied Philosophy and Economics at Edinburgh University. He now lives and works in London helping to build very big ships.

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Bookish Firsts: Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow

Bookish Firsts: Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow

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Welcome back to Bookish Firsts, the aptly named feature where I ask guest bloggers and authors to talk about their bookish ‘first times’.

Today I’m really happy to welcome Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow. She was one of the first bloggers to support the feature on Twitter so yay!

Bookish Firsts

With Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow

What is the first book you ever read/remember reading?

The first book I ever read was probably Peter Pan, but to answer the second part of the question, the first book I remember best is Charlotte’s Web. The one and only time I’ve liked a spider!


What is the first book you reviewed?

I’m not sure now which book this was without going waaaay back to the start of my blog to find out, but I’m pretty sure it was Old Man’s War by John Scalzi – which, if it’s right, is also the first sci-fi book I committed to reading. (To sum up, I loved it and have bought/read every following book since!)


What is the first book you will pack on your upcoming holiday?

Oooof. Well, given that my first upcoming holiday is a trip to London for Worldcon in August, there will be many books packed! But for reading, it’s probably going to be Our Lady Of The Streets by Tom Pollock. Can’t wait for this one!


Thanks so much for being on the blog Lisa!

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