What is it about YA books: A look at its popularity and fandoms

Over a decade into the boom in Young Adult Literature and 2014 looks like it is still yet the year that the Young Adult genre is going to be cemented as a true force.

There were 30,000 Young Adult titles published in 2009, which is a massive increase from the 3,000 titles in 1997. In the same year, publishing companies’ total sales for YA exceeded $3 billion and it has been publishers’ favourite bet ever since. To add, according to an artice in The LA Times, more than a dozen publishers has launched young adult imprints. And finally, with websites such as Epicreads releasing lists of “The 15 Most Anticipated YA Books Coming” every month since September in 2013 to date, it is evident that YA popularity is as strong as ever if not growing even stronger.

The genre mainly targeted at teenagers has become so popular in the past years that it has been recognized as a separate genre from Children’s and stores and libraries started having entire separate sections with rows of shelves entirely dedicated to YA. Continue reading “What is it about YA books: A look at its popularity and fandoms”

Shoreditch ‘Meows’: The Rise of Cat Cafés

Cats are running the interweb, that’s a fact. Now, it seems like they are taking over the real world.

Lauren Pears, owner of Lday Dinah’s Cat Emporium

Shoreditch is set to be the home to London’s very first cat cafe. Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium is opening soon, near the trendy Brick Lane, at Bethnal Green Road. The café was granted planning permission in September and ever since, the team behind Lady Dinah’s have been busy taking care of the cats and working on the building to get the Emporium fit for cats and people.

Lauren Pears, an Australian-born entrepreneur, introduced the idea of a cat café in the UK in a crowd funding campaign at the beginning of the year. It proved to be really popular and garnered much support and raised a total of £109,510. As we draw closer to Lady Dinah’s grand opening, the excitement hasn’t wavered. Continue reading “Shoreditch ‘Meows’: The Rise of Cat Cafés”

My favourite insect. Actually, the only insect I like.

I love butterflies. I am obsessed! From bookmarks to candle holders, I love everything butterfly. I bought books because they have butterflies on the covers; they are such an eye-candy on the bookshelf.

As much as I love the metal, plastic or wooden butterfly decors, nothing would beat the real ones. The adorable flutters of their wings and their amazingly vibrant colours are just some of the simple miracles of nature. It just so happen that they are my favourites. Unfortunately for me, the blasted weather here in England doesn’t allow for much butterflies. I came from a tropical country where the butterfly population thrives, so it comes as an immense frustration that I don’t see them around. Even during the freaking summer! Continue reading “My favourite insect. Actually, the only insect I like.”

Stephenie Meyer’s ‘biggest fan’ queued for almost 13 hours to meet the author

A horde of eager fans flocked to Waterstones Piccadilly and waited in line from dawn to twilight for a chance to meet bestselling author Stephenie Meyer. Out of the hundreds of people who willingly sat in one of London’s busiest pavement, 23 year-old Sinead Tobin Belmont claimed the place at the top end of the line.

Faithful fan, Sinead, arrived outside Europe’s biggest bookstore way before it was even open, sat at the foot of the door and patiently waited for the event to start. She said: “I arrived at 5:30 am and was waiting for twelve and a half hours before the event started at 6pm.” Now, that’s what I call dedication! Thankfully, for her, the day turned out to be England’s rare, dry and even sunny kind of day.

Continue reading “Stephenie Meyer’s ‘biggest fan’ queued for almost 13 hours to meet the author”

Zoofari mobile zoo to visit Islington high street


UK’s largest mobile zoo is to pay Islington a visit this spring. Zoofari will bring the safari experience to the local residents from 11th to 12th of April as it sets up a place at the heart of N1 centre in Upper Street.

Children and families can come and meet some of our scaly and furry friends from 11am to 3 pm.  Animal handlers are going to be on-site to educate guests and also provide entertainment for them with actual animal interactions. Shoppers and visitors can spend time with the animals and have fun at the event for free.

Lynn Glover, centre manager of N1 Islington, said that they held the same events last year and they proved to be really popular with the shoppers.

During the events there are going to be 8-10 animals on show. Zoofari parades animals ranging from meerkats and wallabies to tarantulas and varieties of reptiles. Sarah Gilmore from Zoofari said: “We have various animals that we bring along to shows. The most popular are the meerkat and the skunk.”

Local mum Kerry Smith, 28, said: “It’s only up the road, so we’ll probably go to it.” She thinks her two toddlers would enjoy it especially her son. “He will definitely enjoy it. He’s crazy about animals!”

The Zoofari organization, with the tagline “Let the zoo come to you,” uses the animals as ambassadors of their species in the wild to raise awareness on ecological issues and raise funds for conservation projects at the same time.

Stephenie Meyer London fans on hours-long wait to meet her

The bestselling author of the Twilight novels attracted hundreds of fans to London for her book signing at Waterstones Piccadillythis week. Fans started queuing for as early as 5 am outside Europe’s biggest bookstore for the 6 pm event.

Fans sitting in the busy Piccaddilly pavement outside Waterstones Photo from The Host Movie UK

This is the Stephenie Meyer’s first event in the UK after her last visit in 2007. Hence, it is not surprising that the throng of excited fans took this chance to meet their idol. Sinead Tobin Belmont, a 23 year-old Dubliner who now lives in London, came with her husband and was the first person on the line. She said that she was also first in the queue to buy some of Meyer’s book when they were released and added: “I wanted to carry on my own little tradition of being first and knowing that despite what anyone may say about themselves, I am the biggest fan.”

On March 5th, the waiting crowd of teenagers to 50 year-olds created a friendly and a tad crazy atmosphere.  Some were sharing stories and saying hello to passers-by to pass the time. A particular fan came with a sign saying ‘Honk if you’re happy’ and held it up to the passing cars while others screamed and cheered  at the sound of the car horns.

Meyer arrived on time and was welcomed with delight from cheering fans. The author was described to be graceful, nice and friendly during the event. She chatted, posed for photographs and signed copies of her novels for around 200 aficionados.

The signing was part of the publicity tour for the movie adaptation of The Host, another of the author’s bestsellers. The science fiction and romance novel penned by Meyer in 2008 sold millions of copies worldwide and will soon be released on the big screen in March 29, 2013.

First cat cafe in UK to open after crowdfunding success

Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium will be opening soon in the East End of the city after successfully reaching their target in the crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo.

This means that cat and coffee lovers in London will be able to enjoy them both at the same time. The crowdfunding campaign for the cat cafe closed on 15th of February and raised a total of £109, 510, which is a little over its original funding goal of £108, 000.

Lauren Pears, an Australian-born entrepreneur, is to introduce the very first cat cafe in the UK. After reaching the target, she said that Lady Dinah is registering the business, scouting for properties and talking to suppliers so that the cafe would be on a roll as soon as possible. “A heartfelt thanks to our many lovely supporters. You are the reason we can share the cat love,” she posted on the cafe’s website.

Lady Dinah is targeting customers whose living circumstances or busy schedules won’t allow them to have pets of their own which are proving to be very common in London.

Cat-lover Stephanie Sandro, 22, thinks that the cat cafe is a good idea. “I can’t have my own cat at my accommodation. Not only that they don’t allow cats but my roommate is also allergic to feline hair,” she said. “Having that cafe would ease the frustration of not having a cat of my own.”

Leanor Calaca, 33 year-old artist, said: “I’m currently keeping my pets in Portugal with my mum and I can tell you I miss them dearly. Having a place I could go to for a snack and a purring cuddle would be a dream.” She also added that this is a lovely idea to take some sociable pets out of shelters into more pet-friendly locations.

London Unitarian congregation celebrates equal marriage

The congregation headed by an atheist minster and is also the oldest non-conformist church  in England celebrates the milestone for equal marriage in the UK as it gets passed in the British House of Commons.

The Unitarian congregation has been great promoter of equal marriage rights. Rev. Andrew Pakula who serves as the minister of both Newington Green Unitarian Church and New Unity Church in Islington’s Upper Street said: “This congregation pledged we wouldn’t do any straight marriages until we could do the equivalent for same-sex couples.” This refusal of the Church to do any legal weddings in 2008 was its way of making a stance and pointing out the discriminating aspects of the previous laws on marriages and civil partnership against gays and lesbians. Rev. Pakula added: “We only do the thing that we could do for both which is to do a blessing. A wedding blessing or partnership blessing – we do that.  But we don’t any of the legal stuff.”

But after 400 MPs favoured the legalisation of gay marriages with an overwhelming majority against the 175 who voted against it, this means that the suspension of any weddings within the Church can now be lifted. This is a great outcome of the campaign movement the Unitarian churches previously participated in.

For future campaigns, as a congregation that emphasise on open-mindedness and promotes equality, Rev. Pakula said that “We are actually looking at what we are going do next and I think we are most focus on the harm caused by income inequality.” He described it to be a huge and growing problem and believes that it should be tackled urgently.

Thriving through the ‘tension between certainty and ambiguity’

The banner in front of the Unity Church in Upper Street is sure to catch every passer-by’s attention. “Heathens and heretics welcome!”, it says in big bold letters. This phrase is not something normally associated with a church, if at all. But then, churches don’t normally have an atheist minister.

Rev. Andrew Pakula is from America and he came here six years ago to head the Unitarian churches in Upper Street and Newington Green. He earned a PhD in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and joined the biotechnology industry. Eventually, he left his career as a scientist to pursue a ministerial vocation. Nonetheless, he remained an atheist and even anti-religious in some ways.

A common way of dividing the world is into the religious and the atheist. Here arises the conflict between Rev. Andy’s stance about faith and religion and his job. It is intriguing or rather confusing because of the whole baggage of stereotypes associated with religion. On the contrary, he said that the word religion can mean a bunch of different things and “Depending on how you use that and what you consider to be a religion, it can be quite different.”

When you look at the fundamental core of Unitarianism the fog of confusion starts to evaporate. Rev. Andy said, “I call it a ‘way’. Let’s call it a way.

Continue reading “Thriving through the ‘tension between certainty and ambiguity’”