Recap

London Film & Comic Con and YALC Recap, Part 2

YALC

Time for Part 2 of my recap! I posted Part 1 last week – on 12th July 2014, I went to London Film & Comic Con and YALC, where I met up with various book bloggers and saw lots of exciting people!

I think the combination of the crowds, which made it really difficult to get ANYWHERE, plus the ridiculous heat just made me, well, less interested in looking at stuff. Honestly, we spent the large majority of the day queueing. I spent an hour in the queue to get my book signed by Malorie Blackman, who was absolutely lovely. She made a comment about how well thumbed my copy of Noughts and Crosses was, and how she liked to see that – so I explained I’d had it since I was about ten, and that both me and my sister had read it multiple times.

Malorie Blackman
Malorie was lovely!

After this was another queue to see Kristian Nairn. The photo shoot started about half an hour late, so we were queueing for about an hour total. It was all very quick, although that of course made the system very efficient and meant that lots of people could have their photos taken, but it was kind of annoying after queuing for so long. When Kristian saw that both me and Kerry were having our picture taken together, he just held out both his arms which was really cute!

After meeting Kristian, we were going to head over to the other building which held the games and comic book areas, but after seeing yet ANOTHER hour long queue… we gave up. Which is a shame, because after walking through a crowd that took twenty minutes to pass, then realising we’d have to queue to get back into the building we’d just left, I didn’t really have the time (or the patience…) to go and say bye to everyone. I did see Amber and Tatum again before I went, in the queue (UGH) for Rainbow Rowell, which I wanted to join but… queues. We managed a quick chat but I’m sad that I didn’t get to talk to Amber as much as I’d hoped to! And also before leaving we bumped into Claire again, along with Hanna.

Hodor
Hodor

Whilst I enjoyed my day, there were a few problems. The air-con was apparently broken, and on one of the hottest days of the year, in a hall with thousands of people it was NOT ideal. It was absolutely boiling in there, everyone was sweating and I was constantly thirsty. Of course I drank the water I’d brought with me in no time, and there was naturally ANOTHER queue for any of the cafes – and then everything was over-priced. I got so sick of queueing, fed up with all the crowds and people constantly bashing into me and bashing into other people and I was starting to feel a little anxious.

BUT I got to meet some of my awesome blogger friends. Although I didn’t get to spend us much time with any of them as I wanted (I hung out with Claire the most), it was nice to finally meet people, however briefly. YALC definitely needs its own space next year, I think they would sell enough tickets to make it worth it. I also feel that YALC on its own would be a much calmer atmosphere.

We did also spot quite a few celebrities apart from the ones mentioned above: Paul McGann (my 4th Doctor Who cast member!), George A. Romero, Isaac Hempstead-Wright (who towered over us, embarrassing), David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Anthony Head, Adjoa Andoh (my 5th Doctor Who cast member!) and Summer Glau. I was a bit sad that I didn’t get to really see Lena Headey or David Wenham – or Stan Lee, but there was definitely no chance of that! And my gosh, if Michael Fassbender was there then I’d buy tickets in a heartbeat. There was also some SERIOUSLY amazing cosplay there, from such a wide variety of fandoms!

George A. Romero - I'm surprised there wasn't a bigger queue for him?
George A. Romero – I’m surprised there wasn’t a bigger queue for him?

In conclusion: a good day but hampered by the heat, the QUEUES and the lack of time with blogger friends!

Recap

London Film & Comic-Con and YALC Recap, Part 1

YALC

For much of June and the first part of July, you may have seen me chatting on Twitter about LFCC/YALC, also known as London Film and Comic Con and Young Adult Literature Convention. I’ve always liked going to conventions, I’ve been to the London MCM Expo quite a few times, and I went to Bristolcon last October. So me and my friend Kerry (my frequent companion on these sorts of things, we also went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour and the Doctor Who Experience together) decided it would be a great thing to do before I went off to university. We eagerly bought our tickets to LFCC, and then to my delight I discovered there was a new addition to LFCC this year: the Young Adult Literature Convention. And not only this, but many of my blogger friends were planning on going!

Cue weeks and weeks of Twitter chat, WhatsApp conversations and much fangirling. Then finally the big day arrived, and after getting our train at 8.05am, we reached Earl’s Court at about 10.15. And OH MY GOSH, THE QUEUES. Claire had been there since about 8.30, and had already warned us of the queues – but we thought that by the time we got there, on the end of the Early Bird ticket slot, the queues would have died down and we’d be fine. Oh, how wrong we were… the queues, of which there were many and it wasn’t entirely clear which one we were supposed to be in, snaked around and around Earl’s Court. Luckily, the Early Bird queue was constantly moving – but it still took us a good forty minutes to get in, which gives you some idea of how crazy it was. Not to mention that it was an absolutely boiling hot day, and there was no shade.

When we FINALLY got inside, Kerry went straight to the queue to buy tickets for a photo shoot with Finn Jones (Ser Loras Tyrell in Game of Thrones. I took this chance to go and hunt down some book bloggers! I headed straight for the book area, where I spotted Amber and Tatum, and had a brief chat with them before they had to move on. It was already so packed in there, and absolutely boiling, and it was going to get much, much worse… I then found Claire over at the bean bags, and we grabbed some swag from the freebies table (Egmont tote bag, a couple of badges, a few samplers and some postcards) before meeingt up with Natalie quickly, and Claire gave her a ticket to the Dystopian panel (where Amber and Tatum had gone) because she didn’t feel like going.

Claire & I take a sneaky shot with Adam Brown (photo taken by Claire)
Claire & I take a sneaky shot with Adam Brown (photo taken by Claire)

Then it was time for a wander! We didn’t really go too far because it was just so cramped – they’d definitely let far too many people in, there were queues everywhere for various photo shoots and autograph sessions, not to mention the crowds around the dealers stalls – but we did manage to grab a sneaky photo with Adam Brown, who plays Nori in The Hobbit! We also bumped into Asti briefly! Mostly we just checked out which celebrities were nearby and tried to look at the stalls we could actually reach… We met up with Kerry again, who managed to get a ticket for Finn Jones, and also bought a ticket for me and her to meet Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor in Game of Thrones!

The three of us wandered around looking at the stalls, and when I went I was prepared to go in and pretty much spend all my money (‘sorry Leiden, I can’t pay tuition fees now, I spent all my savings on comic book merchandise and books’), but actually… well I only ended up buying the one thing: a Tyrion Vinyl Pop figure (I was going to get Magneto but he doesn’t exist…).

Mostly freebies, the only things I paid for were the Skittles and the Tyrion figure!
Mostly freebies, the only things I paid for were the Skittles and the Tyrion figure!

That’s the end of the first part of my recap, look out for the second part next week! Otherwise I think this post would get a bit too wordy…

Recap

A Trip Through Time And Space

Doctor Who Experience

Warning: this post will be image heavy!

On Saturday 21st June 2014, me and my friend Kerry went on an adventure through time and space… we took our space transport/Kerry’s car across the galaxy/Severn Bridge, passing many obstacles/the £6.40 toll on the way – until we finally reached the strange land known as… Cardiff. After a long and arduous journey through the cosmos/down the M4, we came upon this terrifying sight:

Daleks Ahead!
DALEKS AHEAD!

Following the signs warning us of Daleks (perhaps a foolish choice?) we eventually reached our destination: the Doctor Who Experience in Porth Teigr, Cardiff. Words cannot describe how happy it made me to see more and more people sporting their Doctor Who t-shirts and costumes as we got closer and closer. As we got there quite early, we decided to have a browse in the shop first. It was actually a LOT smaller than we expected, and much more reasonably priced than the Harry Potter Studio Tour shop, although some items were still a bit pricey. Anyway, when we finally queued up, we were told that there was no photography in the first bit of the tour, which has an interactive element to it.

Eeek!
Amazing artwork in the lobby. That you’ll probably forget about.

I don’t want to tell you much about the interactive part of the tour because I want it to be a surprise for anyone who is planning on going. However, if you don’t mind spoilers, then click under the cut to read about my favourite part. [spoiler]One room was pitch black as we entered – then suddenly some of the lights came on really quickly, and there were a couple of Weeping Angels littered around us. Then the lights flickered and the Angels had ‘moved’! AHHH I WAS ACTUALLY TERRIFIED. It was so well done![/spoiler] Overall, the exhibition was actually quite a bit smaller than we’d expected, but it still had a decent amount of props and costumes. Now to share some photos!

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Some of the amazing costumes on display – a mix of original and replica.

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The first and fourth TARDIS consoles.

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That oh so familiar sign, and the infamous scarf!

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Creepy Peg Dolls, and the Face of Boe.

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OOD! and the Silence – wait, what? What was I talking about?

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I made a new friend, he didn’t like my offer of a Jammie Dodger though; got my eye on you…

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I was strangely disappointed by this Weeping Angel… there was only one.

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Genuinely sad that I couldn’t go inside.

The whole tour and experience didn’t actually last too long: we were in there for about an hour and a half (basically as long as it takes to drive there), but I suppose you can spend as long as you like in the main exhibition bit. So after leaving the experience, we decided to do some sightseeing around Cardiff. Spoilers for Torchwood below.

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The fan-made shrine to Ianto Jones in Mermaid Quay (by the ‘official’ Torchwood entrance), with the plaque the BBC put up afterwards.

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The secret Torchwood entrance by the Millennium Centre!

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It was a gorgeous day, so we finished off with some sight-seeing of the city, including the Millennium Centre, Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay and an open top guided tour bus!

Have you visited the Doctor Who Experience?

Recap

Glamour Book Club with Laini Taylor & Lauren Owen

On 30th April I had the privilege of attending Glamour Book Club, held in a very swanky private members club in London and featuring Laini Taylor and Lauren Owen!

If you’ve not heard of either of these lovely ladies before, then Laini Taylor is the author of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy which comprises of Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight and Dreams of Gods & Monsters. Lauren Owen has just released her debut novel, The Quick.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor days of blood and starlight
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor The Quick by Lauren Owen

I was excited before attending the event, because not only was I going to meet some wonderful authors, but also some fellow bloggers! Asti from Oh, The Books!, Kristy from Book Nerd Reviews and Daphne from Winged Reviews were all going to be there. Me and my friend Emily got there first, and I recognised Asti and approached her in my awkward way, and she introduced me to Kristy. We then proceeded into the event and got our free cocktails (gin and tonic). Daphne turned up a bit later, and we hung around chatting for a while – next to the goodie bags, trying to work out what was in them… – before the event proper started.

Thoughts from Laini Taylor:

  • Laini said she was currently reading the Expanse series of books by James S.A. Corey, which I was happy to hear as I recently read and reviewed the first book, Leviathan Wakes.
  • She has a new series and new standalone planned. And some science fiction – eeek!
  • When asked about how she starts to write, Laini said she starts writing in the middle of the book and works from there.
  • We spoke a little about the film adaptation of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It hasn’t officially been given the green light yet, but Laini was off to meetings about it a few days after the event, so maybe we’ll hear more soon. She said she doesn’t think it would be fair to speak about her fantasy cast, mostly because no guy could ever live up to Akiva’s looks!
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone came about when Laini was avoiding writing her current book at the time: a book about ballerinas in space!
  • She said that you just have to make as much time as you can to write – and don’t procrastinate too much!
  • Apparently Laini hasn’t had a single negative fan experience. Let’s hope it remains that way!
Me, Asti & Kristy!
Look who I found! (l-r) Myself, Asti & Kristy. Daphne disappeared off somewhere when we snapped the photo! I’d been walking around London since 10am so was pretty exhausted and flustered…

Thoughts from Lauren Owen:

  • Lauren said she was currently reading The House of the Vampire by George Viereck. I’ve not heard of this one before, it’s a Victorian Gothic horror novel.
  • She’s currently writing a sequel to The Quick. This was actually her original idea for the book, but she sort of ended up working backwards.
  • Lauren won a prize for her dissertation, and her professor then referred her to an agent who approached her interested in her work.
  • She urged budding writers to go out and talk to people, and discuss their experiences.
  • Her favourite books include Little Women, Anne of Green Gables and Watership Down.
  • She has mostly stopped herself from reading reviews online as she finds the constantly changing viewpoints and criticisms confusing – if one person loves part of the book and another hates it, I guess you don’t know what to do either way!
  • She did a lot of research to prepare for her book, and admits that sometimes she got distracted by it.

After the talk, we got the chance to meet the authors and get stuff signed. It didn’t take too long, as it was a fairly intimate gathering, and I had my photo taken with Laini:

Me with Laini Taylor!

They were selling books there, and I didn’t really want to buy The Quick at the time because I’m not a hardback person at all. I’m going to wait for the paperback to come out, so I asked Lauren to also sign my copy of Daughter of Smoke & Bone (as I had nothing else for her to sign) and basically made a huge, flustered fool of myself, and did not explain in any eloquent manner that I WILL be buying her book once it’s out in paperback. I still feel embarrassed when I think of that moment. Ugh. I’M SO SORRY LAUREN.

Guys. I'm forever going to be awkward when it comes to meeting authors. How on earth do you keep your cool??
Guys. I’m forever going to be awkward when it comes to meeting authors. How on earth do you keep your cool??

And that was the end of a great night! Me and Emily had to go and catch our train home (I live a ninety minute train journey from London) so we couldn’t hang around for too long, especially as our route back to the station was made difficult by tube strikes. But it was a great evening, despite the embarrassment I caused myself – I got to meet some awesome bloggers and fantastic authors, and the goodie bag was most definitely worth the ticket price! It included three books (Angelfall by Susan Ee, Dracula by Bram Stoker and Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little), some great headphones that I’ve already used lots for gaming (I like to immerse myself), some Hotel Chocolat chocolates, a candle, nail polish and some other beauty samples. I would definitely be up for attending another Glamour Book Club event! The only downside was when me and Emily received one of the dirtiest looks ever from a member of staff at the club for no apparent reason… probably because we’re not paying members, all dressed up for dinner!

Recap

My Trip to Hogwarts, Part Two

Last week I shared the first part of my trip to Hogwarts, aka the Warner Bros Studio Tour. Now, as promised, it’s time for part two! Firstly these images which didn’t want to work last time:

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The pendulum was pretty hypnotic… and remember this??

It’s the Riddle gravestone, as featured in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. After spending forever in the first area of the tour, we came to the outside bit – which of course meant Privet Drive, the Knight Bus and BUTTERBEER!

Butterbeer

It was surprisingly tasty – it reminded me of Iron-Bru a little bit.

Privet Drive and the Potters’ house in Godric’s Hollow.

The next section of the tour was to do with ‘movie wizardry’ – anything to do with special effects, animatronics, CGI etc. For example, this selection of goblin heads and mandrake plants…

It was smaller than the first area, but there was once again just so much stuff that you wouldn’t notice on screen. It’s insane how much effort and dedication the people who worked on the films put in, considering that most of their work would barely be noticed. It just goes to show how truly passionate and enthusiastic everyone working on the Harry Potter films was.

Baby Thestral!; you go around the corner and ARAGOG IS HANGING ABOVE YOUR HEAD AAHH

Then it was onto the next part of the tour, another part in which I could have just stayed all day… Diagon Alley. When you watch the films you really don’t see enough of this place. There is so much stuff in EVERY shop window, and once again the set designers and prop creators and everyone else went above and beyond to create this amazing set.

Gringotts; a shop I don’t even remember seeing once in the films but they made the shopfront and filled up the window anyway. Amazing!

Ollivander’s wand shop; Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment with Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes in the background.

Florian Fortescue’s to the left, including the table on the roof; Eeylops Owl Emporium, my dream shop.

I WANTED TO GO INTO FLOURISH & BOTT’S SO BADLY; Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes! I never even noticed that the man had a body before…

Fred or George, or both?; this was so cool, the ‘sick’ actually came out of her mouth (that sounds really weird out of context…)

Quality Quidditch Supplies, I don’t like the look of that Beater stick in the bottom left of the window…; loving the mannequins in Madam Malkins.

You too could own a Pygmy Puff or Kneazle!

Then it was onto the last area: concept art and scale models. If you’ve not looked at any Harry Potter concept art, then I strongly advise you to do so; there’s such an amazing array of different styles and interpretations, all of it absolutely stunning.

The architect that designed Hogwarts (does anyone remember seeing this statue in the films??); a paper Burrow!

Now, this next bit – which was also the final part of the tour – made me feel really emotional. It was beautifully set up – you walked into this dimly lit room, and there was a HUGE scale model of Hogwarts, with the main themes from the films playing in the background. It was pretty much the highlight of the experience for me, and brought on this massive rush of nostalgia. I wanted to shed a few tears there and then for this series that has, and always will have, so much meaning for me.

Can I buy a replica of this scale model please? Thanks.

The absolute last part of the tour (before the shop, of course) was the interior of Ollivanders – but each wand box had been individually labelled with the names of the cast and crew. It must have taken forever! It was, combined with the amazing tear-inducing Hogwarts scale model, a perfect way to finish the tour.

As for the shop… well we had every intention of going in and stocking up on some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, and maybe another souvenir or two. These plans were scuppered when we saw the price of them – £.7.95 a packet. Um. No. Everything in the shop was hideously expensive, which I suppose shouldn’t have been a surprise, so we actually didn’t buy anything… maybe next time, as we’ll be more prepared. The only disappointing part of an amazing day!

And that’s it for my account of the tour! Have you visited the Warner Bros Studio Tour? Which was your favourite bit? If you haven’t, what would you like to see?

Recap

My Trip to Hogwarts, Part One

Warning: this will be an image heavy post!

All through January and half of February, you may have seen me getting a little bit excited about visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tour on 19th February. Me and my best friend had been meaning to go for a while (well pretty much since they announced it, although we have been prepared for this since the age of nine or ten…), so I said I’d take her as a birthday present. After a LOT of trying to work out when we could both go (we work totally different hours), we finally settled on a date and booked it. Only to realise that it was half term week, arrgh! Meaning that the tour would be full of annoying little kids… And then the other problem – getting to Watford Junction without breaking the bank. Although we live only an hour and a half from central London by train, the prices were suddenly incredibly steep, not to mention the getting from London Paddington to Watford Junction itself. Thank goodness for the National Express, is all I can say.

Giant chess pieces outside the main entrance!

When the day came I had some fears – I thought the tour might be ruined by all the little kids running around, as we’d inadvertently booked during the school holidays, and just the thought of taking THREE coaches to get there left me feeling tired. But luckily, the tour was full of people from all age groups, which was really nice. People like us who’d obviously grown up with the series, younger fans and small children, older fans, families. Basically, everyone there was a huge nerd for the series and it felt like one big Harry Potter fan party, which was pretty awesome.

But now, onto the tour itself!

The main lobby is pretty cool – loads of photos of various characters around the walls, the shop entrance which is SO enticing, and the Ford Anglia! And a Starbucks, which seemed kind of… surreal. We got there a bit early for our slot so were tempted to go into the shop first, but one of the staff members advised us to line up first as we’d end up in the shop anyway – of course. And it was good advice, as the line moved pretty quickly.

The entrance lobby, featuring character photos and the Ford Anglia.

After queuing up, you enter a small room which features posters of the films from all over the world – it was fun trying to spot the different languages and countries. There, one of the guides explains the tour to you (and the rules – no touching of the exhibits, boo!), and then you go on to a little cinema where you watch a film about the creation of the studio tour. Which is in stages J and K, funnily enough! And then… into the Great Hall. I could’ve spent HOURS in that bit alone, but unfortunately that’s the only part where your time is limited. Here are some snaps I took of the Great Hall and various props and costumes within:

Hufflepuff uniforms; the Slytherin table; Slytherin uniforms; Gryffindor uniforms; Hagrid, Fang and Filch; Dumbledore and his owl lectern; wider shot of the Great Hall.

I barely heard what the tour guide was saying when I was in there, I was feeling pretty emotional and just soaking everything in. I’ve quite literally grown up with the Harry Potter series: I read the first book not too long after it came out, when I was eight or nine, and fell in love. The first film came out when I was eleven, meaning that I was the same age as Harry, Ron and Hermione with each film. It’s always been a series that I’ve absolutely loved and followed, the excitement of each book and then film was almost too much every time! So you can imagine how it felt, to be in this place that was so familiar from my childhood – to actually be there. Unfortunately, our time in the Great Hall came to an end, and we were moved on to the main area, which you can walk through at your leisure. Here are some of my favourite bits from the main hall:

The ice sculpture from the Yule Ball, from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Dumbledore’s office; tapestry from the Gryffindor common room.

The Potions classroom.

The Burrow, home of the Weasley family.

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Amazingly detailed Death Eater mask; the fountain from the Ministry of Magic.

All the Umbridges; AWESOME CASE OF THINGS THAT I WANT AND NEED IN MY LIFE.

Wizard money that you never actually see in the film but they made it anyway (how awesome is that?); book heaven.

I’M SO SORRY I CANNOT STOP WITH THE PHOTOS. It is really difficult narrowing down the things I want to show you all, I took almost 350 photos whilst we were there. I’ve decided to split this post into two parts, meaning I can show off MORE pictures and not have to worry quite as much about loading times. So this is it for now, next week I’ll post about the outside area onwards (which means Butterbeer!) Next week I’ll post the rest, and round up my feelings about the whole thing (SPOILER: IT WAS AMAZING.)

Have you been to the Harry Potter Studio Tour yourself, or would you like to go? What is your favourite thing about the series, or is there something you REALLY want to see from the films – be it a prop, costume or set?

Past Features, Recap

Weekly Roundup #32 + meeting Mary Beard!

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My ‘Weekly Roundup’ is where I share the books I have received in the past week, whether bought, gifted, borrowed etc.

Bought

  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers – I think I first spotted this one through following Felicia Day on Goodreads. I’m not sure how romance-y it is, so I don’t know how much I’ll like it, but we’ll see! It is about an assassin after all…

Won

  • She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick – I won this from Goodreads. I’ve seen it around a lot recently and heard some good things about it.

On Sunday, I got to meet Mary Beard!

I also just wanted to quickly share some photos from this Sunday, when I met Mary Beard at Cheltenham Literature Festival. If you’ve not heard of her before, she is a classicist and a Don at Cambridge University. She’s written some fantastic books and made some wonderful TV shows, and I really, really admire her.



Her talk was about her recent book, Confronting the Classics, and how the ancient world is often presented in the modern day. It was really fascinating, and I plan on getting hold of her book at some point – sadly the hardback is £25 and I can’t really afford it right now. I told her that I’d studied ancient history and archaeology, and my plans for the future: I want to be a museum curator. It was so wonderful to meet a big role model of mine!

I got her to sign my copies of Pompeii and It’s A Don’s Life, and she even added in an extra message after I told her of my plans! Now all of the books that I own written by her are signed – when I was working at the festival last year I picked up a signed copy of All in a Don’s Day. That was also the last day of the Cheltenham Literature Festival – now to look forward to next year’s line-up!