STRANGE THE DREAMER – #YARoomChat and Book Meet

Hi everyone! WOW, well I don’t know about you, but this month has been great for us so far! Not only have there been a TON of amazing new releases, including Strange the Dreamer AND next month’s Book of the Month, The Upside of Unrequited, but we also had our Autumn Picnic last weekend! It was amazing to see so many people braving the cold to come and join us to chat about books and eat the delicious sweets that our guests kindly prepared. You can see all of our photos on our Facebook Page, and there are also some on our Instagram!

This coming Monday, we have our monthly Twitter chat – #YARoomChat! As our Book of the Month is Strange the Dreamer, we’ll be talking all about Laini Taylor’s spectacular new book. As always, the chat will be spoiler-free and you’re more than welcome to join in, even if you haven’t read or finished reading the book! We’re also lucky enough to be joined by Hachette Australia’s YA department, Date a Book!

Strange YA Room

And then in a couple of Sundays, we have our Book Meet at Dymocks, where we’ll be able to chat IRL about our love for Strange the Dreamer! There’ll be a special surprise for those that join us on the day, so make sure you don’t miss out! We’re looking forward to seeing both old and new faces. Grab a free ticket today so you don’t forget!Read More »

Autumn Picnic

Hi friends! If you haven’t already seen, we’re holding another picnic this Sunday! We’ll be meeting in the same place as last time, where we’ll be sharing sweets and talking about everything bookish.

If you’re thinking of coming, please grab a free ticket through our Eventbrite link so we know how much food to bake – and bring something for us to share! We hope to see you there! ❤

THUG Book Meet

Hello friends!

It’s hard to believe another month is almost over, isn’t it? We had our March Book Talk a couple of days ago, where we discussed the powerful and important novel The Hate U Give. It was amazing to get the chance to chat with the author, Angie Thomas, last week via Skype and it was equally as great to hear everyone else’s opinion.

We also held our monthly #YARoomChat on Twitter, where we were joined by readers all across Australia (and a few from overseas too!) to talk about what we loved about The Hate U Give and why it’s such an important and timely novel.

In case you missed it, here’s a video of the interview with Angie Thomas that we uploaded to our YouTube channel! Check it out!

Next month, we’re super excited to be reading Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. Make sure you grab your copy to join in the fun! Our next Book Meet will be held on Sunday 23rd April – we hope you can join us!

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Take a look at some of our favourite reviews of The Hate U Give, written by our book club members:

5 Reasons Why You Must Read THE HATE U GIVE – book review by Sarah

The Hate U Give Review (Spoiler Free) – book review by Bec

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – book review by Angel

Author Q&A

Hello again, friends! Today we’re bring you something really special – an interview with author Harriet Springbett! If you haven’t seen our last post yet, check it out to learn a bit more about Harriet’s novel – Tree Magic – and to hear more about the ideas behind it!

We were interested in learning a bit more about Harriet’s writing style and her tips for aspiring writers, so she was kind enough to give us a bit of an insight into her writing world! Enjoy!

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What does your usual writing routine look like? Do you prefer a particular place to write in? What time of the day do you get the most writing done?

I started to take writing seriously in 2005 and an integral part of that decision was to allocate myself a specific writing time and then stick to it. I’m definitely a morning writer – this is when I have the most ideas and energy – so I write every weekday morning. Having a routine makes it easier to treat writing as a job. I think about my story and take notes at other points during the day (and night) too, but this is bonus time. My regular evening runs even count as work time, as this when I play through new scenes in my head. It’s often the best time to solve my characters’ conflicts.

Sunlight is very important to me, and I tend to follow the sun around the house, sitting to write where I can see outside – or sitting outside whenever possible. This means there are tables every room. My current favourite place to write is in my tiny dressing room, squeezed between hangers of clothes, just because it has a huge window, the morning sun and a view over lots of spring flowers.

What was the most difficult part about writing Tree Magic, and would you do anything differently when writing your next novel?

Finding a title was difficult, but my longest challenge came from settling on the best approach to creating the novel. I’m totally fascinated by the creative process in general, and I love discovering parallels between writing and other arts. My first (bottom drawer) novel was tightly plotted and didn’t leave enough room for creativity. So I decided to let Tree Magic (my second novel) grow organically. This was more fun, but it required massive editing. My latest novel, Red Lies, White Lies, is a combination of the two methods, and I feel much happier about this. I’ve used the same approach for my current novel: I’ve plotted the main motivations and conflicts but have left room for the characters to do what they must within this framework.

The most complicated technical aspect when writing Tree Magic was probably finding the right voice for Rainbow’s age as her story progresses: she’s 13 at the beginning and 18 at the end, and teenagers change a lot between those two ages. My own kids were very young at the time and I had their voices around me all day, so this didn’t help. They’re teenagers now, so I feel very in tune with the YA books I’m reading and writing at the moment.

If there was one thing you could change about the publishing industry, what would it be?

That’s an interesting question, as the poor publishers have already had to cope with huge changes over the last 10 years. As an idealist, I guess I would replace the big publishing houses with a multitude of small publishers, all with equal resources. That would make the whole sector fairer – but it sounds rather Animal Farm-ish, doesn’t it?

Do you prefer the writing or the editing stage?

I love thinking up ideas and pulling them together to make a story in my head, and I love editing. The actual writing is the hard part for me. It’s where you have to take risks. I’m a very slow writer because it takes time to get into my fictional world and make the decisions for my characters using the right words. Although this part can be laborious, scary and fill me with self-doubt, it is also the most exciting part. It’s when the magic happens. It’s when the characters pick up the scent of the story and run with it.

To help myself through this long part, I often stop writing in the middle of a scene. This makes it easier to pick up the next day. I start every session by reading back to the beginning of the scene and editing a little, to get back into the swing of it, and then I continue writing. It’s a big mistake to finish at the end of a scene, so I start a new one, even if I know I’ll change it all the next day. As a Jodi Picoult once said: “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?

I’ve learnt so much over the past 12 years that it’s difficult to find just one piece of advice. I guess I would tell them to write short stories before attacking a novel. The turnaround time is faster, so you can learn from your mistakes more quickly and have fun experimenting until you’re clear about how and what you write. Only then, once your training has warmed you up, should you embark on the marathon of a novel.

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Thanks to Harriet Springbett for answering our questions and giving us an insight into her writing methods! These tips have been really useful, and we’ll definitely be using them in our own writing endeavours. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Tree Magic!

Tree Magic by Harriet Springbett

51WAlm0W2vLRainbow’s magic hands can shape trees at her will, but her gift is dangerous and has fatal consequences.

From England to France, through secrets, fears and parallel worlds, Rainbow’s journey to understand her powers takes her beyond everything she’s ever known.

To find the truth, she must also find herself.

Magical-Realism, Metaphors, and Ideas

A few weeks ago, we were lucky enough to receive a copy of Tree Magic, a new YA debut by Harriet Springbett. We utterly adored reading this magical and intriguing novel. Set in England and France, this alluring tale follows Rainbow, a girl who can shape trees at her will. As well as being a novel about overcoming fears and fighting her way through parallel worlds, it’s also a touching coming-of-age story about finding yourself.

We were thrilled to have the opportunity to learn a little bit more about how Harriet came up with this fascinating concept. Here’s a little piece Harriet wrote to be featured on our blog… Read More »

The Hate U Give

It’s finally starting to feel like March! We’re so thrilled to be reading The Hate U Give with you all this month, and we’re already looking forward to meeting up to discuss what we loved about this book, as well as holding our Twitter chat later in the month! If you haven’t got your copy of our Book of the Month yet, we recommend picking one up as soon as possible so you can join in the fun!

Our Twitter chat will be held on Monday 20th March at 7.30pm AEDT where we’ll be discussing the themes and ideas behind The Hate U Give, and then, as usual, our Book Meet will be held on the last Sunday of the month – Sunday 26th March, 2.30 – 4pm at Dymocks Melbourne! Free tickets for the Book Meet will be released soon, and we hope you’ll be able to join us!

Until then, we’d love to see your photos and reviews of The Hate U Give. Make sure you use the hashtag #theyaroom on Instagram and tag us in your reviews! We’d love to share them with everyone else, and you might even be featured on our social media.

We hope you love The Hate U Give as much as we do!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

hateugive_10-10snap Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighbourhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.

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Caraval Book Talk WRAP UP!

Yesterday we held our second ever Book Talk – crazy, right? How did that month go so quickly? In case you hadn’t already guessed from the title of this post – and if you weren’t able to make it on the day – we were discussing everything Caraval at our meet up! It was amazing to have so many people there, with familiar faces as well as a few new ones.

For this month’s Book Talk, we were lucky enough to be meeting at Dymocks in the city! It was a fantastic location, and it was so atmospheric to be surrounded by all the books. Not to mention, the cafe below us served excellent food and drink, and it was lovely to be able to order something and munch on it as we talked!

We began the Book Talk by introducing ourselves and what we were currently reading, which is always a fun way to get to know one another, and then gave a quick summary of how we each felt about Caraval if we’d read it. The majority of the who joined us had read Caraval, so it was easy to reference particular scenes and characters, but it was such a fun afternoon even for those who hadn’t had the chance to read it yet!

Soon we began talking about how we felt about specific characters and how we felt about some of the big twists and reveals, as well as discussing more general things such as the relationships between siblings, the overall aesthetic of the book and its layout, and arguing over which edition is the prettiest. Our favourite part was, by far, talking about our favourite lines in the novel. So many feels!

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We went around in a circle and discussed how people rated Caraval as whole, and there were mixed reviews, to say the least. The average rating would have to have been around the 3.5 star mark. Lack of character development and world building seemed to be a common criticism among the group. Could it have been all the hype? All our heightened expectations for what was said to be an amazing YA fantasy read?

A few members of the group really enjoyed the story and the way it developed, despite the slow start of the novel. It just goes to show how everyone’s taste in books varies! And that is OKAY!!!

After discussing the rating, we all gushed over the book covers, especially the US hardcover *insert heart eyes emojis* *insert drooling* Although, the UK paperback was the most popular cover of choice, and several ARC copies also floated among the group.

With the cover and rating out of the way, we moved on to our favourite characters and our least, and surprising, the least favourites definitely all of the main characters. Some of the group couldn’t even pick a favourite! “Picking a favourite means I have to have liked them to begin with” one member said, and sadly, many of the members seemed to agree.

As for Sarah and I, Dante and Julian were by far the most engaging and favourable characters.

We talked and talked over coffee and freshly squeezed juice before we had to eventually wrap up another amazingly successful bookclub meeting by introducing our BOTM for March, which is the one and on The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which faces the very real and confronting topic of police brutality in the United States.

Starr is only sixteen years old when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Kahlil, by a police officer.

The Hate U Give, THUG for short, is an important and diverse story which demands to be heard. Not only is this book set in a contemporary setting, it faces real issues that many young adults may not be aware of, and we are so grateful to be reading this with you all in March.

Can’t wait to see you all at our next Book Talk!