Hi everyone! Wow, it’s hard to believe yet another month has passed! April was a busy month for us, as always, and we’re so excited for what this month will hold!
As you may recall, at the beginning of April we had our Autumn Picnic! Even though it was rainy, we still had a lovely time indoors, feasting on all the snacks everyone brought and chatting about what we’ve been reading recently! I don’t know about you, but picnics are one of our favourite things to host. We’re already planning our next informal get together!
As usual, we hosted our Twitter chat and our Book Meet at Dymocks, where we talked all about our Book of the Month – Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor! Everyone really loved this book, and we’re so pleased we had the opportunity to read it with y’all. Here are some reviews from the people that joined us at our Book Meet!
And of course, here’s Sarah and Alex‘s review of Strange the Dreamer.
As April came to a close, we revived our YouTube channel by adding some more content! We’re planning on uploading twice a week, and we’ve already been planning some interviews to share with you soon. Make sure you check out our videos if you haven’t already! We’d love to hit 100 subscribers by the end of the month.
And finally, we’ve been planning our upcoming Twitter chat and Book Meet for our May Book of the Month – The Upside of Unrequited! If you haven’t already got a copy of this gorgeous book, please do! We can’t wait to chat about it, and we’d love for you to join in. Tickets for our Book Meet will be released shortly, but in the time being, mark it into your calendar! It’s going to be a fun afternoon, as always. We even have a special surprise!
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!
Take a look at some of our favourite reviews of The Hate U Give, written by our book club members:
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
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.
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!
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.
Hi friends! We hope you’ve had a great month so far. With Sarah off in Middle Earth for half the month and everyone starting school again for the year, getting back to work or sorting out their uni timetable, there hasn’t been much for us to organise this month! However, we’ve been looking forward to our Caraval Book Talk all month and we’re so thrilled that it’s now only a few days away!
Earlier in the week we held a Twitter chat that revolved around the themes and ideas behind our Book of the Month – Caraval by Stephanie Garber. It was lovely to have so many people joining in with the chat and it was so entertaining to read your answers. We could hardly keep up at times with the amount of enthusiasm you were all showing! We were joined by readers who loved the book, readers who hated it, and some who hadn’t even read it, but we all had a great time musing over what magical books are our favourites and what we thought of Caraval‘s unique layout.
If you haven’t already heard, this Sunday is our Caraval Book Talk! It will be held at Dymocks, 234 Collins Street, and will run from 2.30 – 4pm. There’ll be drinks and snacks available for purchase from the lovely Dymocks cafe and we’ll also be selling our March Book of the Month – The Hate U Give! If you’re going to be joining us on Sunday, you can find us upstairs in the cafe area surrounded by books and empty coffee cups.
We’ve also just announced our April Book of the Month, which is Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor! There are some really exciting things we’ve got planned for the next couple of months and we can’t wait to tell you more about them. In the meantime, we’ll see you all on Sunday!
Get your free ticket for our Caraval Book Talk here!
Frequently Asked Questions
I haven’t read your Book of the Month! Can I still come to the Book Talk?
Of course! We totally understand that not everyone will have the time to read our Book of the Month. While we will be discussing our BOTM at our Book Talk, we’ll ensure that nothing major is spoiled for you. A lot of the questions will be based around general themes and ideas, so there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to add to the conversation anyway! We’d love to see you there.
I’ve never gone to a Book Talk before. Help!
That’s absolutely fine! We’re just starting off too, so we’re not 100% what we’re doing either! But trust us, we don’t bite. We’d love to have you at our Book Talk – it’s a lot of fun and you’re guaranteed to meet a whole lot of bookish people! It’s a very relaxed environment, so there’s nothing to be nervous about.
Does it cost anything to come to the Book Talk?
Nope, it’s free! We just ask that you get a ticket from our Eventbrite link so that we know how many people will be joining us so we can cater for the group. There’ll be drinks, snacks and books available for purchase from Dymocks, so you’re more than welcome to bring some money and grab something there, but there’s no obligation to do so! They do make pretty good hot chocolate though 😉
I booked a free ticket through your Eventbrite link but now I’m unable to attend. What should I do?
That’s fine! It would be great if you could let us know so we’re not waiting for you on the day. You can tweet at us @TheYARoom_Melb or send an email to email@example.com. We hope you’ll be able to join us next time!
I love your The YA Room shirts! Where can I get one?
Aww, thank you! These are custom made from an online site, but we’re planning on opening a little non-profit ordering shop. More information will be released soon!
First and foremost, we’d like to take the time to thank Alison for answering this informal interview, as well as the ongoing support they’ve given both Sarah and I this month!
For those of you reading, Alison Evans is the genius behind our BOTM ‘Ida’, which hit shelves this month, and was voted by YOU to be selected for our very first book club read! And might we add, what an amazing selection! Alison was kind enough to answer a few questions for us and I’m here to share their answers. LET’S GO!
There are too many that I love, though if I had to choose, Spec Fic is my favourite at the moment.
Right now, The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth.
Favourite quote? “It is words that are to blame. They are the wildest, freest, most irresponsible, most un-teachable of all things. Of course, you can catch them and sort them and place them in alphabetical order in dictionaries. But words do not live in dictionaries; they live in the mind. If you want proof of this, consider how often in moments of emotion when we most need words we find none.” –Virginia Woolf
Favourite TV Show?
I’ve only seen the first three seasons but I really love The X-Files.
Favourite Disney film?
Alice in Wonderland
Favourite author/s (if you can choose)? Jorge Luis Borges for exploring such huge ideas so succinctly and beautifully.
Fruit pies with custard and/or ice cream.
Pizza or Pasta? Pizza
Gelato or Ice cream?
Movies or TV Shows?
Disney Channel or Cartoon Network?
Cartoon Network, though to be fair I haven’t ever watched the Disney Channel.
Paperback or Hardback?
Physical Books of E-books?
E-books just for sheer convenience. In my perfect world every physical book purchase would come with an e-book copy. I guess an enby can dream!
Bookmarks or doggie ears?
Doggie ears, I am literally incapable of using bookmarks properly, somehow.
Morning or Night?
Now that we’ve gotten to know Alison a little more, it’s time for some book related questions! (Don’t worry, we’ve kept the spoilers out of it)
What influenced you to be a writer? Was writing always something you wanted to pursue? Did any authors or idols influence your decision?
I always loved reading and then I discovered fan fiction and it blew my teenage mind. Anyone could write stuff, and their stuff was really good! If they could do it, I could do it. Then I started writing AU stuff, and then realised that my AU stuff was so AU it was basically not fan fic anymore, so I started writing my own things. And my first true love, Harry Potter, definitely influenced me the most when I first started. Rowling’s characters are so alive and I love them, I wanted to create worlds and people like that.
If you could change or add anything to your novel, would you? And if so, what would you change/add?
Don’t ask me this or I’ll cry!!! I haven’t looked at the printed book too closely because I now there will be things I want to change.
What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
Writing the very start for the first time because anything can happen, or doing the second draft where I get to tighten everything and get rid of plot holes and make sure characters don’t switch names halfway through for no reason (the reason is because during the first draft I forget names a lot).
What about your least favourite parts?
When most of the editing is done and you’ve read the thing a hundred times in the past week and you KNOW something is missing but you just can’t figure out what.
Did you ever have moments of self-doubt? How did you overcome those emotions?
Literally all the time. I try to remember that everyone feels like this and it’s okay. I guess I just keep pushing through despite the self-doubt. NaNoWriMo is actually very good practice for this! There’s no time to question yourself, you just have to write.
Who was the first person you ever shared your writing with?
My mum! She’s always so encouraging.
Was your novel always going to have the sci-fi time travel aspect? If not, what changed/influenced your decision?
Yep! The parallel universes were the seed of the whole story from the very beginning. I’ve always loved sci fi but so often the characters were the same protagonist again and again, the straight cis white guy who gets the girl and the gender binary stays very much intact.
How has your identity formed the characters you’ve written about?
Like I said above, I wanted more characters like me in Sci-Fi. The words “bisexual” and “genderqueer” are not very often used and so I put them in there, explicitly, so that queer teens could see they weren’t alone.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring writers?
Write a lot and keep going! Someone’s going to love it.
After receiving votes from most of you on Twitter, we’re super excited to announce that our Book Of The Month for January is Ida by Alison Evans!
Ida is published by Bonnier and is available at many bookstores in Australia right now, including Dymocks! Make sure you grab a copy so you can join in all the fun and come along to our meet-up at the end of January. It’s also fantastic that Alison is a local Melbourne author, and they’ll be joining us to discuss their latest novel! More details will be revealed soon.
Here’s a synopsis of Ida!
How do people decide on a path, and find the drive to pursue what they want?
Ida struggles more than other young people to work this out. She can shift between parallel universes, allowing her to follow alternative paths.
One day Ida sees a shadowy, see-through doppelganger of herself on the train. She starts to wonder if she’s actually in control of her ability, and whether there are effects far beyond what she’s considered.
How can she know, anyway, whether one universe is ultimately better than another? And what if the continual shifting causes her to lose what is most important to her, just as she’s discovering what that is, and she can never find her way back?
Ida is an intelligent, diverse and entertaining novel that explores love, loss and longing, and speaks to the condition of an array of overwhelming, and often illusory, choices.