Tag Archives: blogs

The UKYA phenomenon

If you are involved in bookish debates online, and you read YA novels, including  those written by UK authors, you may well have noticed a definite upswing in the way UK-specific YA is promoted and talked about lately. There has also been an incredible amount of attention very recently on the YA blogging community in the UK in particular. There are even awards for UKYA bloggers: and not just one set, but two! One is organised – and voted on – by authors and publishers and has an awards evening in March – very exciting! The other is blogger-run and allows us to all nominate and vote for each other in a range of categories.

Momentum in promoting UKYA in particular has been gathering over the past couple of years, but seems to have really exploded right now. There are regular UKYA Twitter chats and even a very wide range of social events (often in London of course, but not exclusively). It’s a great time to be part of this community.

UKYA extravaganza lineupOne of the most exciting things recently to come out of the UKYA phenomenon, as far as I’m concerned, is the UKYA Extravaganza being held in Birmingham Waterstones on 28th Feb. I’m planning to be there with my daughters, both of whom are excited at the prospects of seeing authors whose books they’ve loved (and me – I’m very excited too!!) The YA dept in Birmingham Waterstones have been great at building a community locally and holding lots of events. It’s so good to see big events going on outside of London.

I have always found the UKYA blogging community to be amazing and welcoming. I have attended a few events and am always surprised to be welcomed as part of ‘the gang’, even though my blog is tiny compared to some of the stars of the group. There are people who manage to post every day, many of those posts reviews (how do they do that??), people getting thousands of hits every day due to the consistent quality of their posts, and people who seem always to be on Twitter chatting about their recent reads AS WELL AS posting blogs daily. I think some of these superstars are secretly a front for a whole team of people 🙂 Recently, several of these superstars have posted about their feelings on the community. If you’ve ever considered started up in book blogging, do take a look at what they have to say about it all:

Old Year, New Year: Looking Back and Looking Forward

OK, so here’s the obligatory turn of the year post, but don’t worry, I’ll keep it relatively quick – just follow the links for full reviews of anything that catches your eye.

Review of 2013

Top 5 UKYA Reads of 2013:

Top 3 International YA Reads of 2013:

Top 4 Adult Finds of 2013:

Top 4 for Children in 2013:

And looking forward…

I will continue with the current plan of blogging once a week for the most part, with an occasional additional post. I’ve been very behind with my reviews and have been quite upset/worried about it, but I really can’t do any more at the moment. And there definitely are more important things for me to worry about than how often I’m blogging!

Another plan is to include a review each month that comes from the TBR backlog. I’ve got a few review copies waiting their turn patiently, but also there are books I’ve bought or been given that just haven’t been getting the attention they deserve. I think that should change 🙂

I’d also like to bring in a few non-review posts. I haven’t done enough of those for a while. So, I’ll stick with weekly reviews and add in occasional other posts, about reading, writing, teaching, feminism, family stuff etc.

Here’s to more enjoyable and non-angsty blogging in 2014!

Knowing When to Let Go

… is definitely half of the battle. I have not been a good blogger (or reader) lately, having just got too bogged down in other things (arguably, other things which are more important).

I think it’s time to accept that:

  • one post a week will have to be good enough for the time being for this little blog
  • I am behind on my Goodreads goal and am not going to make my target (but really, how important is that?)
  • my TBR pile/shelf is frightening, but staring at it paralysed in fear rather than picking a book to read is not the way forward 🙂
  • I have not updated my reading challenges (i.e. the British Books Challenge) in quite some time and, again, this is not a life-and-death thing – I’ll try again next year, perhaps

In my defence, I have been a very busy little bee and have been involved in three book projects over the last six months or so which will be publishing in January and February, all of which have been by turns a lot of fun and terrifying beyond belief. I have also spent far too much time in being anxious about all that I have to do, rather than simply doing it. Oh, for the luxury of a calm mind… But, I have (mostly) got it all done now and am promising myself an actual break over Christmas.

So I will be here, but only once a week until at least the New Year. If you do want to follow me here at the Hearthfire, I would suggest that you sign up with feedburner or by email (in the right sidebar), or follow me on Twitter to see when I have a new post up.

Popping in to wave and give a quick update

I’m still in the midst of extreme busy-ness, and have been struggling somewhat, but I’ll be back very soon. Next Friday, the 11th October, I’ll be relaunching regular posts with reviews and teachery/readerly/writerly content.

Thanks for being patient with me. I think all bloggers hit a wall at some point and I’ve just not had the time for posting lately – much textbookish work as well as a new school post. Sometimes, something has to give and this time, it’s the blog (better than my sanity, I hope you’ll agree!)

Hellloooo! (General update – plus dog pic)

I’ve been pretty absent online lately. Sorry about that. It’s mostly due to starting a new job (yay!) and being pretty busy with writing projects (also yay!), leaving me little time for blogging (and tweeting, as it happens).

I just wanted to check in and say I am here, I’m ok and regular service will soon be resumed 🙂

Thanks for your patience. Here’s a cheery picture of our dogs to make it all better.

Reviews coming up include:
Witchfall by Victoria Lamb (loved it – read Witchstruck first; both are ace)
Emily and Patch by Jessie Williams (a truly lovely read – definitely recommended)
Bones of the Lost by Kathy Reichs (great for Tempe Brennan fans)

April’s A – Z Challenge

A couple of years ago, I completed the A-Z in April blogging challenge. You blog for 6 days a week (Sundays off!), draw your theme from a different letter a day, and work through the alphabet. I had a great time and met quite a lot of great bloggers doing it, many of whose blogs I still read. I haven’t become someone who does it every year though, and at the moment I’m quite glad not to have that pressure of daily blogging. You also really have to commit to visiting others’ blogs which is, of course, a pleasure and often a delight, but does take up time.

Some of the blogs that I read regularly are doing it though. Perhaps you’d like to go and visit them and give them a cheer?

Nettie at @nettiewriting is doing a fascinating A-Z of Glasgow and all things Weegie. It’s building up into a brilliant series of vignettes of Glasgow over the years.

Writer DJ Kirkby’s A-Z has so far included short fiction and information drawn from her writing and her day job as a midwife trainer.

Maria at First Draft Cafe is a writer taking writing as her A-Z theme. She’s been sharing tips and advice, and the occasional nugget from her WIP.

Rosalind Adam is Writing in the Rain features a unique A-Z. She’s doing a song title and lyrics from each of four decades: the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. It’s such fun!

For more A-Z blogs (there’s a massive list of all those signed up), visit the challenge’s online home.

Time for a break!

I’ve had some difficulties keeping up with everything lately, so I’m going to take a blog break of a fortnight over the school Easter holidays. I’m expecting this will allow me to return refreshed and ready from Monday 8th April.

Have a lovely Easter!

An Early New Year’s Resolution

I came over here today to do my December monthly round up, but I’ve decided not to do them any more. They’re time-consuming and don’t really add anything. So I’ll just stick to the three times a week routine here, and updating my teacherly website regularly too. I’ve set up a Facebook page this month that I’m using to feed English- and Language- related stories and to show when I’ve updated the website (along with occasional blog links too), so if you were reading the website update stuff, just click on the Facebook feed link on the right and ‘like’ the page to get the updates in your timeline.

Thank you for reading and Happy New Year!
Here’s to a fab 2013.

UK YA Book Bloggers Secret Santa: Thank You!

This year, I signed up to take part in the first UKYA-specific book blogger secret santa and it was so much fun!

The lovely Lynsey at Narratively Speaking organised the whole affair. We were all asked some questions by email to indicate our tastes and current bookish desires, and then each of us was allocated someone to purchase our gifts for. I had a lot of fun choosing mine: stalking the blogger’s goodreads lists to make sure I didn’t choose anything they already had etc. I received my beautifully wrapped gifts in the post in plenty of time for Christmas – in fact, they were the first under my tree!

Like a good girl (yes, certain other bloggers, I am looking at you!) I waited until Christmas Day to open my lovely gifts and the anticipation did not lead to disappointment, I can tell you! My lovely Secret Santa sent me two books I’d specifically wished for, plus three others to discover, AND some lovely cookie candy canes.

  • Entangled by Cat Clarke (I’ve wanted to read her for ages; I’m looking forward to a tautly-written UKYA thriller)
  • The Apothecary’s Daughter by Charlotte Betts (this caught my attention on a blog sometime last year; it seems like the kind of historical I enjoy)
  • Defiance by C J Redwine (this sounds like a YA fantasy with feminist overtones, so I’m pleased this was selected for me)
  • My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (I’d never heard of this, so am curious to read this contemporary family/romance story which several of my Goodreads friends rate)
  • Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby (this sounds like an interesting contemporary with comments to make about fame and celebrity)

I’m taking this opportunity to publicly thank my lovely Secret Santa, and the lovely Lynsey for organising it all. I hope everyone who took part had as much fun as I did, and I look forward to enjoying my books over the next few months.

Why There Are No Negative Reviews Here at the Hearthfire

Firstly, it’s not because I’m super-nice. Although, of course, I am quite nice 🙂

My reasoning is simply that:

  • life’s too short to continue reading a book I’m not enjoying 


  • there are already so many good books that I can’t read them all and people still keep writing them 😉 


  • if I haven’t read the whole of a book, I don’t feel I should review it

I know not everyone feels this way, and I do see the whole professionalism argument, but at the same time, I’m not a reviewer or book blogger by profession.