Friday, 26 August 2016

#AskAmber: Books, Bands and Tiramisu

Waddup, favourite Internet specimens? A while ago I tweeted to see if you had any questions for me (always awkward...) using the hashtag #AskAmber, and it turns out quite a few of you did. I've always done Q&As as videos on my YouTube channel (gotta get that promo in) so this time I decided to mix it up a bit and do it here on the blog.

Beaches are better than mountains because they're flat and I'm lazy. I don't drink because I don't like the idea of not being in control of myself, and relying on a drink for fun. I mean, I'm also underage, but it's not like that stops anyone... And as for tiramisu? Nope, I haven't had it. Yet.

Something I've come to realise over the years is that I don't have a favourite colour - I like them all. But the colour scheme in my bedroom is white, grey and yellow, if that means anything. There are two places I want to visit most in the world, and they are Paris and New York City. My favourite band is Cimorelli (any other fans here?) and my favourite food is my own version of the Californian burgers you can get at Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

I think the best things you can do are, firstly, to let them know that you are there for them and, secondly, to encourage them to get help. And if the help they get doesn't seem to work, remind them that there are so many other options and just because one thing doesn't help doesn't mean nothing else will. It's also worth asking them what you can do to make things easier for them.

As someone who has had to support my own friends with their mental illnesses, I also want to say that it's not your job to look after them. Support them and care for them when you can, yes, but you have your own life to live and if you find it's stressing you out/having an effect on your own mental health, don't feel bad for taking a step back. Professionals are there for a reason and while it's important to do what you can for your friend (and I know they'll really appreciate the fact that you're sticking with them through this) you have to remember to take care of yourself, first and foremost.

The first review I ever wrote was in June 2009 and it was for Bindi Babes by Narinder Dhami. I still love Dhami's books, but it wasn't Bindi Babes that made me want to write a review... it was Chicklish, one of the biggest book blogs in the UK. They were looking for reviewers and, after stumbling upon it, I applied. The rest is history...

If you haven't read The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare, don't highlight this: Jem. *cries* So there we go.

I LOVE THIS QUESTION. Teletubbies, apparently, although looking back it's more than a bit creepy. Tweenies, Mona the Vampire, Jakers!, Underground Ernie, Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids, 64 Zoo Lane, Come Outside, Lazy Town (I know...), Balamory (again, I know...), Charlie and Lola... I was also partial to a bit of Fireman Sam, although it gave me nightmares more than once. I was a sensitive child, clearly.

I don't mind dogs, but cats are way better - you know it's true. So I'd never pet a puppy again, because I could still have kitty cuddles and eat my favourite food. Boom.

Thanks for sending in your questions, and sorry I couldn't answer them all! If you want to watch the last Q&A I did, click here.

Monday, 22 August 2016

10 Reasons You NEED to Read The Graces by Laure Eve

Title: The Graces
Author: Laure Eve
Published by: Faber & Faber
Publication date: 1st September 2016
Pages: 432
Genres: YA Contemporary/Paranormal/Magic
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

1. The story focuses on The Graces, who are powerful siblings and minor celebrities in their town but for all the wrong reasons. Bad things happen around them. More specifically, bad things happen to anyone who challenges them. The Graces are almost four-dimensional and I was completely drawn in by them.

2. It's ridiculously gripping. There were so many little twists that I physically could not stop reading. Was I bored at any point? Never. I'd just be getting comfortable and, boom, plot twist, otherwise known as a metaphorical bucket of cold water to the face.

3. The Graces is a duology and, judging by the greatness of the first instalment, there's going to be a lot of hype about the second book next year. Best to get in early.

4. The attention to detail is phenomenal and the writing was so rich and vivid. It's one of those books that you finish and think, damn, I wish I'd written that. 

5. I was kind of in love with the setting. Picture this: a large house full of random but important objects, with a kitchen always full of the most delicious foods. The house is perched on a cliff, with sprawling gardens, and is right next to a beach. I'd want to live there if it wasn't so witch-y... but doesn't that sound like a beautiful place for a story?

6. The Graces messes with you. As the synopsis says... are things really as they seem?

7. There isn't enough witchcraft in books. The Graces, however, has it all.

8. This book is insanely good and I immediately craved more of Eve's enthralling way of storytelling. 

9. The dialogue is punchy, chilling and easy to lose yourself in. Before you know it, it's nearly 3am. (This actually happened. Last time I looked at the clock, it was 11pm. I was very confused.)

10. Without a doubt, this is one of my favourite books of 2016. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

In Which I Introduce You To Phillip

A few months ago, I got my first car. His name is Phillip. He likes petrol, being clean, and not going above 60 because he's almost as old as me which means, in car years, he's a pensioner. However, he's still looking fiiiiine.

Before Phillip, I drove a 1966 Beetle called... um, I don't think I ever gave it a name. Aw. We just didn't hit it off and now it's sitting unused somewhere, gathering rust and probably quite a lot of dust. Still proud of myself for learning to drive in it, though. Vintage cars are vintage for a reason.

Recently, a specialist car insurer for young drivers got in touch. (#Spon #spon #spon, don't ever say I'm not transparent.) They're called Marmalade and they're trying to get rid of the stereotype surrounding young drivers on the road. They wanted to know: is there a correlation between lifestyle choices and driving ability? Are the public's perceptions of what makes a good driver correct? Are young drivers actually stereotyped?

To that last question, I'm going to say a big fat yes. I've experienced so many annoying drivers who glimpse an L plate and go on a power trip. Only twenty minutes ago, some guy driving an unnecessarily large and annoying Audi decided to just keep on driving when he was clearly meant to stop, nearly ploughing into my side. LEARN TO DRIVE.

*takes deep breath* I'm not annoyed, I'm perfectly calm. Promise.

Marmalade have created a quiz to see if our lifestyle choices, like our music tastes and what kind of clothes we like to wear, affect our driving ability. Loads of research has gone into it which you can see here, and it's actually pretty fun! Here's what I got:

I do have good and bad days on the road but I think you'll find I'm a lot better than so-so. I even strap in my takeaway pizza. I am the definition of cautious.

I'm not entering because Phillip would get jealous, but after doing the quiz, you even have the chance to win a new Vauxhall Corsa which I can imagine is going to make someone's day. It's worth checking out the facts behind their research, too: interestingly, the age-group that most judges other drivers is... young people. I guess because we've had lessons most recently, so the 'proper' way to drive is more ingrained in us, whereas the older you get, the more used to it you are and the less you have to think about it.

Also, did you know bookworms are some of the riskiest drivers? 


What did you get on the quiz? And for a bit of fun, tell me your most embarrassing driving moments, if you dare...