How to cope with school/college

I’ve always hated school because there’s so much hidden competition and the students are pretty much put against each other in lessons that aren’t taught in sets. Because of that, there are bullies and people feeling inadequate or thick because they can’t quite keep up or because they always get a few marks less than the person next to them. However, it’s time for everyone to go back to education and there are a few easy ways to get through the school year without a mental breakdown…

First off, remember it’s just a year until the summer holidays. That’s 190 school days. That will go so quickly if you force yourself to not let yourself get down about school. Force yourself to have fun and do not wallow! Listen to music in breaks, be around friends, read a book and just do anything you can to enjoy it. Make your work exciting and interesting by using colours to revise/take notes, doodle a picture which helps the notes to make sense. A stress ball or something else which you can fiddle with to distract yourself in lessons, may also be useful. I used a tangle and I also had a couple stress balls given to me so they helped to distract myself from where I was and to just focus on the learning. If you can’t see a year being short, do it week by week.

Secondly, remember there are so many other people just as stuck as you are. If it’s year nine and you need to pick GCSEs, remember that everyone is thinking this is a big deal and everyone’s worried about picking the wrong ones but it honestly doesn’t matter..the only necessary ones are maths, English and science and they’re compulsory so the rest don’t matter really. If you’re taking GCSEs, remember that everyone is worried about messing them up, even the people who seem not to care in classes. I saw people who had never done a single piece of homework and who barely came to lessons, have melt downs because they thought they’d failed their maths GCSE. It affects everyone, and if you put the work in over the whole year, you’ll do as well as you can do so there’s no need to worry about that. And if you’re choosing/doing A levels, then you should know that by this point, everyone is worried about their future and the people who didn’t try in school are realising they won’t be able to be a lawyer or a doctor, whereas the people who did the best they could are realising they could be anything they want. And if not, if you didn’t do as well as you expected, there are still plenty of things you can do.

My course only needed 5 A*-C grades (including maths and science) but if I got the highest grade possible, I’d have a distinction* which is roughly equivalent to 4 A* A levels. This course could lead on to me working in a guide dog training centre, animal rehab centre, animal behaviour work, vet nursing, wildlife research, grooming or even farming as well as many more. It’s important to look at where you actually want to be eventually before choosing a course at this stage. If I’d done sciences, it would be much harder for me to get an animal job because I wouldn’t have practical experience. So, sometimes BTECs are better for your future.

Bullying is a harsh thing to happen to anyone but unfortunately it does happen (really only in high school, rather than college). It’s not easy to deal with and can seriously damage some people, but there are ways to deal with it although they’re the things everyone knows to do but are too afraid to. You could make it boring (if it’s verbal) by just not reacting and ignoring it because then they’ll move onto something else that’s fun for them. If it’s physical, of course you can stand up to them but only if you won’t get hurt yourself and if you don’t swap it to you bullying them. The best option is to tell a teacher you trust and you know will do something to stop it. If it carries on after that, tell them again. It’s important that it’s stopped and the bully is only getting what they deserve so do not let them make you feel bad for it.

High school doesn’t last very long and after that, your life starts to form with college course choices, jobs and you will start to realise what you actually want from life. After high school, it’ll all be fine.

Two weeks at Dogs Trust Loughborough

I’m on an animal care course at the moment, and it means I have to do 150 hours of work experience a year. This year, I chose to do 90 of them at Dogs Trust, Loughborough and it was the most enjoyable two weeks of my life so far.

My first day was spent getting to know the rules and protocols of the centre, and where everything is. I also walked a few dogs to learn routes which were good for the dogs and how to avoid other people walking dogs which could have issues with other dogs, such as fear or reactivity. From that day, I spent a lot of time in with the puppies since a litter of American Bulldog puppies had arrived at the centre (about nine/ten 11 week old and two 5 month old), and there was a lot of jobs to be done so extra help was useful to them. I helped with weighing, micro-chipping, feeding, cleaning out, exercising and socialising the puppies.

Something interesting I learnt was that the Dogs Trust won’t use any negativity at all with the dogs, so that means no saying “no” or pulling them around. They believe that if a dog is couped up all day in a kennel (there really isn’t enough time to walk them all to the extent they need), then it deserves as much freedom as possible when out on walks. This means that they have the full length of the lead and can go anywhere they want, obviously unless it’s dangerous for the dog or other dogs/people. They can sniff as much as they like and are let off lead as much as possible in paddocks which prevent other dogs from interrupting them. Positive reinforcement was the only way they trained the dogs and there were a lot of treats involved! There was also a homework house which let the dogs relax in a normal environment and also allowed the carers to see if there were any obvious issues which would be likely to happen in a home. For example, one dog had an issue with people sat on chairs/sofas when he first got there, so the homework house helped him to get used to that. Another dog was very reactive to the doorbell and to strangers entering her house, so it gave the carers the opportunity to work with her on that issue specifically, obviously making these dogs easier to rehome and more desirable.

I also watched some training with two sighthounds (Dennis the lurcher and Bowie the lurcher) where Dennis was being muzzle-trained so that he could leave the centre fully trained in case the new owners wanted to muzzle him when off lead since a lot of lurchers have a high prey drive. Also, Bowie was being trained to wear a cone since he was going to have his eye removed (he was blind) at the same time of his castration, so they wanted him to be used to it so he wouldn’t be excessively stressed.

I figured most people reading this would be most interested in seeing photos of puppies and dogs so I thought I’d tell you the stories of some of the dogs there which are sadly quite typical in rehoming and rescue.

These are a few pups from the litter of 9/10 week old American Bulldogs. They were handed in to the centre since the person who bred them couldn’t find homes for them so the dogs trust took over. They arrived on the Monday I started there and by the time I left (two weeks later), they all had homes. They’ve had no bad experience, no trauma and no incident which has left them “damaged”, so essentially, the people who adopted them now have an American Bulldog puppy for £120, whereas they would normally cost from about £400-£1500. However, people will tend to shy away from rescued puppies because they’re “damaged” and unpredictable, which is silly because these puppies hadn’t had a chance to become damaged.

This is Olympia, another American Bulldog puppy, from the same owner, but she’s five months old. There were two at this age and the other went straight into foster (then was adopted by her foster family 2 weeks later). She was nervous but not hugely and once I’d walked her a few times and spent time with her, she happily gave me hugs and let me walk her without a fuss. She was fine with other dogs and people once she got to know you, and she too was rehomed during my second week, after arriving on the same Monday as the litter.

This is Lady, another puppy who is a five month Beagle cross Cocker Spaniel. She was a little more nervous than Olympia and less sociable with other dogs if they were too full-on and bouncy. She took longer than Olympia to become fine with me but it happened eventually and she greeted me every morning and let me put a harness on her and check her feet when she picked one up (it was just grass stuck in her pad). She too found a home before I left.

A special case is Dennis the lurcher. He has a problem in the bones in his forelegs which isn’t clear in the photos because he also doesn’t enjoy standing still. His wrists touch and are growing inwards which will soon become a huge problem as he’s only eight months old and still growing. He will need expensive surgery to fix his legs and until then, he won’t be up for rehoming because of how expensive it’ll be, but when he does go up for rehoming, he won’t be available for long because he’s lovely. He’s very attractive of course, but he’s also the most sweet-natured dog ever and all the staff love him because he’s just so simple to work with and so loving to everyone and everything.

A lot of the dogs in rescue are bull breeds, especially staffies because they get treated badly/roughly because of the breed which causes them to show aggression towards kids, cats, other dogs etc.. This then gives them a bite record, enforcing the assumption that all bull breeds are nasty and aggressive and can’t live with kids or other dogs. This means they get left behind, even though a lot of their behaviour can easily be manag20160817_110316ed or is actually non-existent since the bites were provoked. I don’t know the history of him, but this is Kevin, a staffie. He’s the only staffie (I think) that volunteers are allowed to walk and the sweetest little ball of wiggles ever. He greeted me like I was his bestest friend in the whole wide world and then spent the whole walk looking up at me and wagging when we made eye contact. He sat for me when I got a treat out of my pocket, before I even said anything, and he was no problem seeing other dogs. However, he isn’t currently reserved, probably because he’s a staffie and people assume the worst. He’s young and bouncy and can live with older children as well as other pets, so he won’t have ever bitten.

 

I think a lot of people are happy to buy puppies from breeders or even puppy farms unknowingly, before they consider a rescue dog, just because they think all rescue dogs are aggressive or going to kill their children or run away at the first chance. All my dogs are rescue dogs, most of the people I know’s dogs are rescued and from just two weeks at the Dogs Trust, it’s obvious that with the right care and consideration for the dog, any issues can be worked through. Any puppy from a breeder can also have these issues too. Any dog can be triggered to become aggressive or reactive or nervous, it just takes the wrong experience. If you take anything from this post, take away the thought that rescuing changes these dogs’ lives. Most dogs hate kennels and once in a home change and become a completely different dog. A dog which is aggressive or easily frustrated in a kennel can become relaxed once it’s in a home and can be given plenty of exercise with the same regular family members. If you can’t have a dog because of where you live or because of money etc, think about volunteering with your local rescue because most of the time, they need the extra help and on top of that, you can spend a day working with dogs and helping to find them homes too. And because I know why you’re really here, here are some more photos of the dogs I met!

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Walking puppies..

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Hydrotherapy treadmill.

Meet The Squad! (Furry Friday #1)

It’s our first furry friday and I thought I should introduce the animals which will be involved in the furry fridays. First off, I should explain that me and my family are involved with a Facebook group/charity which helps with various things like rehoming, socialisation, raising awareness and generally a lot of support and advice is given by them. It’s based in Leicester (England) and helps the specific breeds under the “sighthound” banner but there are a few other dogs in the group. Here is a link for those interested: https://www.facebook.com/leicestersighthounds/?fref=ts

First off, we have the first dog in the family, our very own Jessie. She’s a patterdale terrier crossed with a border collie (we think!) and we got her from the Dogs Trust in August 2010. Her favourite things are water, tennis balls and food and she’s got a huge personality… She’s a very vocal dog and tends to make little grumbling noises to herself when no one’s even near her but she will also grumble when people are stroking her but she does enjoy it and will make it clear if she isn’t enjoying it. She loves to swim and will also spend hours in water, picking up stones from the bottom of the water and leaving them in a pile by the edge. We don’t know why, she’s just a bit quirky..

Secondly, we have my dog, Hunter who is a saluki/collie lurcher so is basically insane. He’s a year younger than Jessie, he too was from the Dogs Trust and we got him in March 2011. His favourite things are food, running and agility. He likes to chase his friends, but he does prefer to be the one in front winning the race. We think it’s the saluki in him that makes him proud but he is quite a snooty dog. However, he does love to be stroked and hugged and he will often snuggle in further so that it looks like you’re squashing him. 

The baby of the family is Shadow the bull lurcher who we rescued directly from the original owners at the age of about eight months. Since then, he’s matured into a beautiful and very obedient/eager to please dog, but he does have severe reactivity problems, which makes walking him difficult because other dogs have to be avoided where possible so that he doesn’t become stressed. His favourite things are cuddles, playtime and running. He’s gradually built up friendship with a few other dogs and he likes to meet up and run with them as well as Hunter. He really does give the best hugs but he also doesn’t realise that his claws hurt, a lot, so that’s a problem sometimes..

These are our guinea pigs, Nutmeg (white) and Fudge (black). You’ll probably mostly see Nutmeg because she seems to enjoy posing and is a lot more relaxed out of the cage than Fudge is. They love to eat, squeak (a lot) and sleep. They really enjoy cucumber and apple and cuddles.

Finally, these are my gerbils, Tom and Jerry. These are rescued from being abandoned and Tom is pretty feisty/aggressive as heck so you probably won’t see much of him either. They love to chew and dig, and Jerry likes to investigate things outside the tank, but Tom prefers the safety of the glass walls around him.

Every month, the last Friday will be Furry Friday, where I’ll tell you what’s been happening with my pets and what they’ve been up to, complete with photos of course!

Review: Girl Online (Zoe Sugg)

20160823_160005Title: Girl Online

Author: Zoe Sugg

Publisher: Penguin

Release: Out Now!

Genre: Contemporary

Which animal is similar to this book? I believe this book resembles a panda for the reason that they’re cute and playful but also endangered. This book is very fun and amusing at times, but also has quite serious aspects, such as the topic of the main character’s anxiety and issues in social situations. Pandas seem like very low-stress animals since they’re very funny in their behaviours, but also have that serious side of being highly endangered.

The blurb says: Penny has a secret. Under the alias Girl Online, Penny blogs her hidden feelings about friendship, boys, her crazy family and the panic attacks that have begun to take over her life. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets Noah: a gorgeous, guitar-strumming American. Suddenly Penny is falling in love – and capturing every moment of it on her blog. But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny’s cover – and her closest friendship – forever.

This novel is funny as well as interesting and the voice of Penny leaves the reader feeling connected to her. As someone who also suffers with anxiety, and as someone who has watched all of Zoe’s videos on anxiety, it was nice to read about someone who has it to the same level I do and who has found ways to cope with it. It was also nice for the character to be so in control of it that she could do what she wanted to most of the time, and to not let it control her life.

The social structure of the story is realistic and the way it all plays out, although un20160804_163746likely to happen to anyone in my life ever, it does read as plausible and realistic too. It’s easy to read and keeps the reader hooked, making it impossible to put down.

I loved this story, the characters and the voice the characters were given, so I would give this 9 pawprints out of 10!

Review: Sing (Vivi Greene)

20160823_155504Title: Sing

Author: Vivi Greene

Publisher: Harper Collins

Release: Out now!

Genre: Contemporary

Which animal is similar to this book? In my opinion, this book resembles a flamingo. A flamingo among other flamingos will look similar to the others around it as they’re all pink and have long legs and beaks. However, to someone who knows flamingos, or to a flamingo of course, they all look different; one may be a deeper shade of pink, or it may have a paler shade of orange on its legs or a more hooked beak. This book follows the same themes as a lot of YA novels do; romance, friendship, self-discovery etc, but it does it in a new and interesting way, which separates it from the others. Therefore, it’s a flamingo to me, as it has the same positive themes many novels do, but presented in different ways.

The blurb says: The Multiplatinum Biggest Hits and Biggest Heartbreaks of Lily Ross are one and the same. I chose this… I get to make music and sings and live my life in front of millions of people. I don’t get to be normal. I’m just the fool who keeps trying. But this summer is going to be different. 

As a Swiftie, the main character of this book reminds me of Taylor Swift, specifically of the year she decided to ditch songs about guys/romance and wrote songs about friendship and other subjects not often written about in the music industry. The story focuses on this character, Lily Ross, a pop star who’s just getting out of a relationship with another pop star. She decides to go on holiday to a small, remote island with just her friends to distract herself from the stress of her upcoming tour, and the media twisting her breakup.

Overall, the story is fun to read as well as emotional with some humor thrown into the plot too. Despite the fact that the main character is an international pop star, she’s very easy to relate to and also very likeable although some of her actions had me questioning her decision-making skills. It’s very well-written and the characters have good voices which make them seem like people you could really know and be friends with.

Another positive about the book is there is a dog in it! The love interest for Lily h20160804_162555as a dog called Murphy which is great because dogs are great and where are all the dogs in books?

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and it kept me engaged, so I would give it 7 out of 10 pawprints!

A Five Year Old’s Top Four

So I have this cousin and he’s a bit odd. Keep that in mind as you read this very short post.

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He’s only just five and is starting to read for himself, but he’s always been read to since he was a baby. He’s also been into a variety of books over the years that he has been able to make his opinions clear and he loves to get excited and enthusiastic about books and reading. He’s loved Julia Donaldson in the past (he still does of course, she’s fabulous!) but now the books which are read to him are longer and more complex.

The funniest books, in his opinion, is the entirety of the Winnie The Pooh collection (A.A Milne), because he enjoys the differences in characters as well as the humour.

The best book to read to his sister (2years old) is Peepo! by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. He says it makes her laugh which makes him laugh and he likes to see her laugh hysterically. Also it’s her favourite book too!

His favourite books to read himself are the Paw Patrol “Step Into Reading” series which uses simple words to teach children phonics. When asked which was his favourite, he replied with an emphatic All of them!” so he loves them all equally. I’ve heard him read these out loud and they’re great for using small words to create an interesting story which I’m sure is difficult! He loves them because he clearly loves the TV series and there’s a book for each character with different stories too. The ones he has came in a small cardboard box for them to be kept in which makes it easy to keep them all together because it’s obvious when one’s missing.

However, his favourite book ever is Daisy Eat Your Peas by Kes Gray. He says he likes it because it’s funny and he reads it regularly. It’s also his favourite book to read before bed time as well as his favourite ever. His favourite line in the whole book is apparently ‘”I don’t like peas” said Daisy’. He said he likes to join in on the lines he knows and knowing him, I’m sure he becomes quite enthusiastic reading it!

Review: Geek Girl series (Holly Smale)

20160804_173138Titles: Geek Girl, Model Misfit, Picture Perfect, All That Glitters, Head Over Heels (also available: All Wrapped Up, Sunny Side Up and Geek Drama)

Author: Holly Smale

Publisher: Harper Collins

Release: All out now!

Genres: Contemporary and comedy.

Which animal is similar to this book? To me, this book resembles a young giraffe. Giraffes are known for their grace and beauty since they’re so elegant in the way they walk and carry themselves. However, young giraffes are neither graceful nor elegant. A young giraffe will continuously trip over and stumble since their legs are obviously so long compared to their body. This book is beautiful and charming, but there are parts of it that make me, as the reader, cringe because I don’t want them to happen to the characters. Just as it would hurt an animal lover to see a young giraffe struggle through the first portion of its life, it hurts to see the characters metaphorically and literally stumble through their lives, affecting themselves in often negative ways. However, it helps to believe that the characters and the plot line will eventually mature into having a beautiful and much happier theme. 

The blurb of the first book says: Harriet Manners knows a lot of things. Cats have 32 muscles in each ear. Bluebirds can’t see the colour blue. The average person laughs 15 times per day. Peanuts are an ingredient of dynamite. But she doesn’t know why nobody at school seems to like her. So when she’s given the chance to reinvent herself, Harriet grabs it. Can she transform from geek to chic?

This is a lovely series following the life of geeky Harriet Manners who has always been a victim of bullying, unpopular and obsessed with facts. She has a lack of social skills which is sometimes painful to read, knowing she’s saying/doing the wrong thing in the situation. The friends she has throughout the series are good and a variety of people, with her best friend being Nat, who is interested in fashion. The premise is that Harriet has the chance to become a model as she is spotted at a fashion show unexpectedly. This obviously is a shock and is hard to adapt to since she’s spent her whole life not bothering with her appearance as such, but she slowly learns what it’s all about.

This series is a wonderful read which is not only hilarious, but emotional as it follows Harriet’s life, downfalls and successes. It’s impossible to put down any of the books, and you’ll find yourself emotionally attached to the characters. Another good point about these books is that they don’t end with bad cliffhangers; although there are questions about where the story will go, the ending isn’t left off, so there is closure!

Each of these books is amazing in its own way, Holly Smale is a fantastic writer and captures Harriet’s voice beautifully in a way that makes it easy to picture her and to imagine what she is like. It’s also very easy to see how she gets into the situations she does as one thing leads to another and I feel if I was put into that environment, I would react very similarly to her, so it’s easy to find ways to relate to her, as well as to the other characters.20160804_163103

The Geek Girl series is my all-time favourite series, so it easily gets 10 out of 10 paw prints! Go and read them right now!

Review: Generation Next (Oli White)

20160804_172532Title: Generation Next

Author: Oli White

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Release: Out now!

Genre: Contemporary

Which animal is similar to this book? I would say a lion is very similar to Generation Next because the book itself is fun. It’s very funny, easy to relate to (despite the characters being internet sensations, the way they think, act and speak is a good representation of how teenagers would think, act and speak in those situations) and it is also very sarcastic and witty. However, it has a dark side which is where all the drama of the secret texts and anonymous phone calls comes in. There’s a danger within the fun of being famous online, and I think that this means its animal is a lion. Lions are territorial, often seen as being aggressive and will fight to the death if necessary. On the other hand, they’re also very lazy and will roll around playing all day if food isn’t needed. They do some stupid things and can be seen (especially in zoos/safari parks where a variety of toys are available) doing some hilarious activities. If you don’t believe me, just google “funny lion video” and you will be amused for hours, possibly days. Therefore, Generation Next is a lion because it’s fun but also dangerous. 

The blurb says: Things haven’t been easy for Jack recently – life as a teenager has its ups and downs. But when he switches schools and meets a new group of friends – who are every bit as geek as they are chic – his luck seems to be changing. Together they create Generation Next, an incredible new kind of social media platform. What if your instagram account grew by hundreds of thousands of followers overnight, and big companies were fighting to offer you photoshoots? When GenNext suddenly goes viral, Jack and his friends are thrust into a crazy world of fame that is as terrifying as it is awesome. Because somebody out there is determined to trip Jack up at every step. If he doesn’t stop them, soon his new friends – and the girl he might be falling for – will be in danger…

How to best describe this book in few words? Girl Online (Zoe Sugg) meets Gossip Girl (Cecily von Ziegasar).

Generation Next follows the story of Jack Penman, a teenager who has moved school due to severe bullying. It shows his growth in character over the story as he overcomes the bullies from his past. His new group of friends set up a social network platform which is designed with teenagers in mind and goes viral very quickly, forcing them to fame quickly. This book explores the positives and negatives of fame, and of the businesses involved in companies such as in Generation Next.

There’s romance, fun, friendship and danger as well as the mystery of who is behind the threatening behaviours. It’s emotional as well as an easy read and will interest the reader from the start since the story starts off in the middle and backtracks to show how the characters got to this point, which is very engaging. It’s fantastic and reflects the author’s personality well! I also really like the way the characters handle the theme of bullying which appears throughout the story in various ways; I feel it demonstrates a good understanding and is a realistic response.20160802_160912

Overall, I enjoyed this book and it was quite an easy read whilst also leaving me on edge throughout it. It was definitely near impossible to put down, so I give it 8 out of 10 pawprints!

 

Review: Only Ever Yours (Louise O’Neill)

 

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Title: Only Ever Yours

Author: Louise O’Neill

Publisher: Quercus

Release: Out now!

Genre: Dystopia

Which animal is similar to this book? This book resembles a peacock, in that it’s daring, challenges the ‘normal’ and still is a success. A peacock should be a victim, it should be uncommon and hunted continuously due to its bright colours and huge feathers. In the same way, this book is brave and steps out of most YA books’ comfort zone as it addresses issues so rarely discussed, and in such a blunt and honest way. The story works well and puts across its message in a very clear way, just as a peacock portrays its message clearly to potential mating partners and enemies alike.

The blurb says: frieda and isobel have been best friends their whole lives. Now, aged sixteen and in their final year at the School, they expect to be selected as companions – wives to wealthy and powerful men. The alternative – life as a concubine – is too horrible to contemplate. But as the intensity of the final year takes hold, the pressure to remain perfect becomes almost unbearable. isobel starts to self-destruct , putting her beauty – her only asset – in peril. And then, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. frieda must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known…

The story follows the journey of frieda and isobel (the lack of capital letter is used to symbolise their lack of importance in the world the book is set in) as they go through their last year of education. The goal is to be beautiful and appealing to men so that they can marry the richest and most important men. The school has a ratings system, in which the girls compete against each other in terms of appearance and ‘ladylike’ behaviours.

The book perfectly amplifies the pressure put on young girls in our society to be good wives and to be the perfect kind of beautiful. It puts it in a setting which seems implausible and absurd, but at the same time, isn’t far off what girls around the world experience everyday. It explores feminism and the idea of girls enforcing the idea that girls need to be beautiful, and that they can make it more of a competition.

It deals with issues such as bullying, eating disorders, self-hatred as well as the social pressures within a group of girls. The book is emotional, complex but also very enlightening and forces the reader to think about society in a very different and blunt20160804_163103 way.

Overall, this was definitely in my top favourite books I’ve ever read, so I’d give it 10 out of 10 pawprints!

 

My Experience of YALC 2016

My first experience of YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) was two years ago when it was based at Earl’s Court and shared a floor with Comic Con. It’s safe to say that I loved it, although since I had bad social anxiety, it was a little too crowded and crammed together for me.
However, this year, it was so much better because it had its own floor, meaning it could spread out and also have a lot more to it. The area for the panels was so big this year, that the previous system of ticketing panels was deemed unnecessary. There were a lot more stands and stalls, along with an area for workshops and another for learning how to get published from agents. Another big plus was that because it was separated from Comic Con, it was mainly bookish people which was nice because they’re all polite and so kind towards other bookish people which was a big improvement of the squashed-together queues from the previous time I went.

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I was there for the full weekend, and my weekend was fully packed because there was so much I wanted to do! Friday started with the 11am panel, Magical Systems in YA and it was so good! It was funny, interesting and I enjoyed it of course. Next, we rushed off to the ‘humor in YA’ panel, which was obviously hilarious and made me fall in love with all the authors involved even more. Our final panel of the day was My Teen Diary, hosted by the hilarious Juno Dawson and the equally hilarious Lisa Williamson. Naturally, this too was funny and was worth staying until the end for. During the Saturday, we also went to signings for Nat Luurtsema and Harriet Reuter-Hapgood. The highlight of Friday, for me, was meeting Holly Smale as she’s fantastic and my favourite author. I was so nervous waiting in the line though, because I’d cosplayed Harriet Manners (from her Geek Girl series) and was worried it wouldn’t be clear that’s who I was. However, there was no need to be worried as she’s very sweet and seemed genuinely excited about my costume and even asked someone to take a photo of us for herself!

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I returned on Saturday challenging Saturday to rival Friday’s level of excitement for me. We started off with the Resistance and Protest in YA panel, which was so good and also very popular. Next we moved on to the Friendship in YA panel, in which, I realised I love Holly Bourne and her honesty. The last panel we went to that day was the Music in YA panel, which was easily my favourite that day because it was so funny and Non Pratt was the Queen of sarcasm and humour! Throughout Saturday, we also went to signings of Natasha Farrant, Chris Russell, Non Pratt, Keris Stainton, Sophia Bennett, Alice Oseman, and Anna McKerrow. On top of that, we went to the Writing With the Tarot workshop with Anna McKerrow, which was fun and relaxed which is good because I was worried it would be competitive and difficult to do since I don’t know how to read tarot cards. The highlight of Saturday was Keris Stainton remembering us from an event we went to, years ago.

Sunday was tiring because we had to take all our bags to YALC so that we could get the bus home straight after, so the cloakroom was very useful! We first went to listen to the New Voices panel, which was funny and also interesting because they had some good advice to offer about drafting, being published and procrastinating. Next was the Morally Complicatedd YA panel, followed by the Harry Potter Party later in the day. This consisted of a cosplay competition (the prize was presented by Natalia Tena, which was clearly a lovely surprise for the winner!) There was also a competition for the houses to compete in, with games such as a quiz and passing a balloon through the lines without using hands. I left after the cosplay competition because my anxiety made it impossible  to be surrounded by strangers, but the cheers and laughter could be heard from anywhere in YALC. During Sunday, we also went to signings of Claire Hennessy, Catherine Doyle, Juno Dawson, Holly Bourne (since her line was so long the other day), Louise O’Neill and Maggie Stiefvater, whose queue was so long that it was ticketed and ran through the entirety of the Harry Potter Party. There was also a photo booth with props relating to Harry Potter which was fun and quite empty when we went, because everyone was either waiting for Maggie Stiefvater or joining in with the Harry Potter Party.

Overall, I loved YALC 2016; it was fun, interesting, exciting and so far, the highlight of my Summer! I met some of my favourite authors, was inspired to start this blog after seeing how supportive and nice bookish people are and I also picked up a multitude of books at YALC and after YALC from a list I created whilst there. Would I recommend it to other people? Of course! It’s a lovely place to be, whether you go for one day or the full weekend, it’s worth it. 20160802_13320220160801_211845