Saturday, 25 June 2016

Radio Silence

Radio Silence by Alice Osman

What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. 

Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken. Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…
She has to confess why Carys disappeared…

Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets. It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness. Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has. {Goodreads Summary}

"He smiled and looked away. 'Sometimes I think we're the same person...but we just got accidentally split into two before we were born."

The most important thing to tell you about Radio Silence is that it's different. It won't be like every other YA novel you read this year, or possibly like any YA novel you've ever read before. For a start, there isn't a major romantic plot line. Instead, it's friendship that takes centre stage; not only that, but a friendship between a guy and a girl, which most teen TV shows/novels like to suggest is impossible. Radio Silence felt very realistic throughout. Osman's characters are real teens, not book teens. 

I think Radio Silence has a really positive message when it comes to exam pressure and the stress of getting into university, which is such a huge problem for British teens and is easy to relate to. I saw a lot of myself in Frances when she went to her Cambridge interview. It's nice to find a book that reflects the impact this pressure has and also goes against the school-rhetoric that exams and university are everything. Carys was a particularly strong example of this. 

I loved that Radio Silence had a competent, involved adult figure who knew what was going on in her daughter's life and did her best to support and help her. Absent/incompetent parents have become an over-used trope in YA, and Frances' mother was refreshing. 

“You're an idiot,' said Mum, when I relayed to her the entire situation on Wednesday. 'Not an unintelligent idiot, but a sort of naive idiot who manages to fall into a difficult situation and then can't get out out of it because she's too awkward.” 

If you want to read something that is different, realistic and diverse, Radio Silence is a must. 

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Why We Love... Goodnight Spaceman

Picture Book Review: Goodnight Spaceman

With a forward by Tim Peake, Goodnight Spaceman is a must-have for any young space enthusiasts. It follows two boys as they get ready to fall asleep, imagining themselves going on a rocket into space to see their dad, who is an astronaut on the ISS.  There is some nice use of the ESA and Principia logos and it's a great way of introducing young readers to space terminology. There is also lots to point out and discuss in the adorable illustrations. Although both of the young children are boys, there are female astronauts on the ISS, so this book should encourage both boys and girls who dream of a future in space. 

Sunday, 12 June 2016

My Writing: Self-Publishing and Beyond

I am currently getting ready to query agents about Amber & Ice (which has a brand new title that I'm really excited about but am going to keep to myself for a little while longer).

This doesn't mean that I have given up on self -publishing. The Elements of Power trilogy will continue to be available as ebooks (and hopefully in physical copies when I eventually get around to it). I have loved my experience self-publishing and my writing is so much better for it. A&I wouldn't be the book it is without the helpful feedback I've received on Elements of Power from bloggers and reviewers. I have a better sense of what works well, where my weaknesses lie and have improved my pacing and plotting so much as a result. I now know that I'm good at character who polorise opinion; something I'm going to put to good use in the two other novels I have in the pipeline at the moment.

I've also learnt how to market and sell my work. Experience I never would have gained without self-publishing.

I'm proud of the sales I have achieved (and am still achieving, over a year after Air was published) with Elements of Power. I get such a thrill when I log into Amazon and look at my sales dashboard. Self-publishing has never been about making money for me, but about sharing my work and every sale is another person who is reading (and hopefully enjoying) the novels that gave me so much joy to write.

However, I know that my writing can be better. I know that the experience a good literary agent and editor can bring will be invaluable to my writing. And I still want to realise that dream of walking into Waterstones and seeing my name on the shelf. That's why I'm still searching for representation, even after my brilliant experience self-publishing.