Tuesday 21 April 2015

Event Report: Hot Key Books Blogger Brunch

On Saturday I was lucky enough to be invited to a blogger brunch with the lovely ladies at Hot Key Books. When I eventually found the office – it’s rather hidden away! – I got to catch up with some lovely bookish friends and have a spot of brunch.

The lovely James Dawson was ready and waiting to have a chat with us and sign some books before he rushed off to the Cambridge Book Festival. First of all, he took the time to thank us for everything that we do and the influence we have as a community – it was very nice to hear so thank you James! We then got to hear a little about his next book, All of the Above, coming in September. It’s a different direction for James – a contemporary LGBT romance that I can’t wait for.

Next up came the presentation! Rosi, Livs, Monique, Jen and Sanne all presented their favourite books from what Hot Key have coming up for the rest of the year. The ladies delivered a whole lot of enthusiasm, humour and general loveliness.

We also had the pleasure of listening to some of Hot Key’s authors present their own books to us!

First up was Lydia Syson who’s third novel, Liberty’s Fire, is out next month. She told us all about the civil movements and brewing revolutionary feelings in Paris in the 1870s. It sounds like a crazy amount of research needed to write a book like this!

Next up was Jess Valance’s debut, Birdy, coming up in July. It tells the tale of two unlikely BFFs, the bubbly, new girl rescuing lonely, quiet Birdy from friendlessness. And then everything starts to be a little…off.

Hayley Long is hilarious, and she has two books coming out with Hot Key this year. Being a Girl (June), the non-fiction companion to James Dawson’s Being a Boy, teaching teen girls everything they need to know about themselves. And then Sophie Someone (September), poor Sophie uncovers a secret that tears her whole world apart, and she tells her story in her own new language.

Julie Mayhew, author of Red Ink, is back with The Big Lie (August) this year. After one of her children asked her what would have happened if the Nazis had won WWII, she quickly discovered that there is very little from the voices of women and young people during that period of history. So Julie write it instead.

Lastly, the inimitable Laura Dockrill took to the stage and chatted to us about her first YA novel, Lorali, coming in July. With the mixture of Laura’s pitch-perfect reading and the absolutely brilliant instructions on how to turn yourself into a mermaid, this shot straight to the top of my wishlist.

So here are my most anticipated books for the rest of the year from Hot Key Books!

All of the Above, James Dawson
3rd September

When sixteen-year-old Toria Bland arrives at her new school she needs to work out who her friends are in a crazy whirl of worry, exam pressure and anxiety over fitting in. things start looking u when Toria meets the funny and foul-mouthed Polly, who’s the collest girl that Toria has ever seen. Polly and the rest of the ‘alternative’ kids take Toria under their wing. And that’s when she meets the irresistible Nico Mancini, lead singer of a local band – and it’s instalove at first sight! Toria likes Nico, Nico likes Toria, but then there’s Polly…love and friendship have a funny way of going round in circles.

Lorali, Laura Dockrill
2nd July

Colourful, raw, brave, rich and fantastical  - this mermaid tale is not for the faint-hearted.

Looking after a naked girl he found washed up under Hastings pier isn’t exactly how Rory imagined spending his sixteenth birthday. But more surprising than finding her in the first place is discovering where she has come from.

Lorali is running not just from the sea, not just from her position as princess, but her entire destiny. Lorali has rejected life as a mermaid, and become a human.

But along with Lorali’s arrival, and the freak weather suddenly battering the coast, more strange visitors begin appearing in Rory’s bemused Sussex town. With beautifully coiffed hair, sharp-collared shirts and a pirate ship shaped like a Tudor house, the Abelgare boys are a mystery all of their own. What are they really up to? Can Rory protect Lorali? And who from? And where does she really belong, anyway?

Counting Stars, Keris Stainton
3rd September

Six ‘friends’, one flat, big dreams…what could go wrong? When sixteen-year-old Anna drops out of school and moves to Liverpool, she feels like her life has finally begun. She’s working for an exciting theatre company, she’s living with some students that she hopes will become good friends in time, and their house is cute (if not slightly run down) and on a buzzing street lined with shops, bars, and buskers.

But although her new life is fun, it’s also a little overwhelming. And although Anna’s housemates seem to be a gang of firm friends (a gang that doesn’t seem to include her) they’re also a little mixed-up, and soon Anna can’t resist the idea of blogging and tweeting about her experiences, from the hilarious to the ridiculous to the little-bit scary. Online gossiping doesn’t count, right? But when Anna spills a bigger secret than she can handle, suddenly the consequences are all too real. She’ll have to prove she has the mettle to make it in the big city, or risk losing everything she thinks she wants.

Being a Girl, Hayley Long
4th June

From friendships to relationships, periods to body matters, this warm and wise book tells it like it is. Being a Girl is not all sugar and spice and everything nice. How can you possible survive school and even think about talking to your crush when you have spots in places you didn’t even know you had, your boobs are too big (or too small) and the friend drama is off the charts.

Luckily, bestselling YA author and sixth-form teacher Hayley long provides a straight-talking guide to puberty – from cattiness to kisses, being a girlfriend and everything in between.

With witty and black-and-white illustrations by Gemma Correll throughout, Being a Girl gives girls everything they need to know about surviving puberty, in an honest and humorous way.

Black Cairn Point, Claire McFall
6th August

Two survivors, one terrible truth.

Heather agrees to a group camping holiday with Dougie and his friends because she’s desperate to get close to him. But when the two of them disturb a pagan burial site above the beach, she becomes certain that they have woken a malevolent spirit. Something is alive out there in the pitch-black dark, and it is planning to wreak deadly revenge. One year later Heather knows that she was very lucky to escape Black Cairn Point but she is still waiting for Dougie to wake from his coma. If he doesn’t, how will she prove her sanity, and her innocence?

This is a chilling and atmospheric thriller from unflinching and award-winning writer Claire McFall.


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