Saturday, 29 August 2015

Everything You Need to Know About The Baby 2 by Lisa Drakeford

If you've read my review of The Baby by Lisa Drakeford, you'll know that I was desperate for a sequel.

Well, guess what? There is going to be a sequel, and I have all the details right here from the writer herself!

I ended The Baby in such an open way because to me, that's life. It doesn't end all gift wrapped and tidy. All my characters have shed loads more to give. There's a whole academic year left before any of them go to university for instance. And Jonty's story in particular has only just begun.

And also, maybe because I took so long creating my characters, I now can't seem to leave them alone; not yet. The Baby's ending has given me the chance to write a sequel. Without major spoilers I can't explain why, but if you've read it then you'll know there's a massive piece of unfinished business which needs sorting. In keeping with The Baby there's a dramatic event at the beginning and because I'm so obsessed – I'll show how it affects all five of my characters (again). Tiny, tiny hint here: this time it's Alice (and no, she's not about to become a 12 year old mum!) Josh, Bethany and Sandy make bigger appearances and (even bigger hint here) THERE'S A NEW CHARACTER who ends up on Jonty's front step.

I love writing. I've been doing it properly now for about five years. By day I'm a learning support practitioner but by night I write my stories. This means that I don't have much of a social life, to the annoyance of my family. I tend to write an hour every night. My fifteen year old, for instance has only ever known me slope off into the kitchen about 9 o'clock to shove him off the computer so I can do my writing. (He's okay now though, I've had to get him a laptop!) I have to be really strict with myself and I'm getting good at using my Sky Planner to record all the good stuff which seems to come on at nine. But of course the big perk of my day job is that I have school holidays. So here I tend to do most of my writing. I get up at ridiculous o'clock and type away madly with bed hair and no make-up. It's not a pretty sight.

But it's worth every single early morning to walk into a random book shop like I did the other day and see The Baby displayed proudly in amongst some spectacular others. I couldn't stop staring. It was the best feeling in the entire world. I'm still buzzing now.

OOH. How exciting does that sound? Who is the new character and why are they there? I'm very much looking forward to reading this, and hopefully you are, too! If you haven't read The Baby yet, now's the time to do it. Click here to grab a copy and then we can fangirl.

Are you looking forward to the sequel?

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Baby by Lisa Drakeford

Title: The Baby
Author: Lisa Drakeford
Published by: Chicken House
Publication date: 2nd July 2015
Pages: 223
Genres: YA Contemporary/LGBT/Friendship
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

1 party. 5 friends. 1 unexpected guest.

It's Olivia's seventeenth birthday party. The last thing she expects to see when she stumbles into the bathroom is her best mate Nicola giving birth on the floor. How could she, when Nicola had no idea this was coming either? She's so not ready to be a mum, and she needs Olivia's help. But Olivia has her own problems - a controlling boyfriend, Jonty, and lonely little sister Alice for starters. And then there's their friend Ben, with secrets of his own.

The party to end all parties has started something epic...

Coming home from my Business Studies exam, I was very much in need of cheering up. Luckily, this book was waiting for me and the premise immediately piqued my interest. Unfortunately, I had to wait until exams were over to read it, and as soon as they were I picked up this book and didn't put it down until I was finished. It's a rollercoaster ride of emotions and I need more.

From what I've seen in other YA books that deal with teenage pregnancy, as soon as the baby is born it's forgotten about and the main character or whoever gave birth to it goes on with everyday life. That's why I liked The Baby - it focuses on parenthood rather than the pregnancy, which is something I haven't seen done in YA before, and the baby wasn't instantly forgotten about, hence the name of the book. I also liked that it portrayed a mature, capable teenage parent who kept her baby and looked after her well. Again, this is something I rarely see in YA fiction.

Furthermore, The Baby boasts a diverse set of characters and covers a wide range of topics, from bullying and domestic abuse to friendship and homosexuality. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that I love books that tackle the gritty stuff that some people don't dare to write about, and this is definitely one of those books.

The one thing I wasn't massively keen on was the writing style. It made me feel detached from the characters and, whilst I cared about them and was interested in their lives, I wasn't as invested in them as I could have been. The fact that the book is split into five points of view didn't help, either - I liked that we got to see the world from each of their perspectives, but the chapters were so short that we only got little snippets. At the end, I felt like things were only just heating up and I really wanted to see what happened next. It was a bit of a cliffhanger ending, so hopefully there will be a sequel, but who knows? (Edit: I have news about this! More in the coming week.)

This is perfect for fans of Non Pratt. Overall, I loved this book as I knew I would, and I reckon it's the epitome of good UKYA. Fingers crossed Drakeford has something else in the pipeline because I would love to read more of her work, and I definitely recommend The Baby if you're after something a little different.

Saturday, 22 August 2015


This week has been absolutely insane. Last Thursday, I hesitantly pressed 'publish' on a campaign which, if successful, would change my life. I asked you all to help me raise £4,500 so that I could continue my education.

£4,500 is a lot of money and, to be honest, I didn't think it was going to happen.

But within an hour of the campaign going live, we'd raised over £500. The next morning, we were over a quarter of the way to reaching the target. The day after that, we were featured in both the paper and the online version of The Independent.

On Monday morning, I gave my first ever live TV interview on Sky News with Eamonn Holmes, which you can watch here.

On Tuesday, our campaign was featured on the MailOnline website - which you can imagine got some rather harsh comments but, as multiple people said on Twitter, if Daily Mail commenters don't agree with you then you must be doing something right.

I was invited to be on ITV's Lorraine show; a real-life piece was written about me on, and people I'd never even spoken to donated as much as they could.

And now it's Friday, and... we've raised the money. I'm going back to InterHigh so I can do my A Levels, and it's all thanks to you, whether you donated, shared the link or simply cheered from the sidelines.

I never, ever expected #HelpAmber to get this far - and I definitely didn't expect to be on live television! I can't thank you all enough and I hope you all know how awesome you are. You've helped me continue my education when I had no other options left and, despite being in pretty rubbish circumstances, I feel so lucky to have this amazing community around me.

One of the rewards I offered on my Crowdfunder was the opportunity to have your name included in my thank you blog post and video. So, in no particular order, thank you SO much to:

Charlie Morris
Ellie Warren
Sophie Waters
Holly Bourne
Sally Nicholls
Katie Grant
Alice Nuttall
Mel Rogerson
Cait Lomas
Emily Russell
Jane Skudder
Sue Ransom
Daphne Tonge
Dave Owen
Sara Barnard
Will Dunn
Lisa Heathfield
Stacey Woods
Narinder Dhami
Rhoda Kellar
Rachel Ward
Beth Reekles
Vicki Thomas
Kate Beeden
Beth Currie
Angie Marsons
Dave Burgess
Keren David
Lisa Rhianon
Jo Stapley
Zoe Ford
Imogen Howson
Emma Pass
Zoe Bestel
Chloe Morton
Kat Ellis
Keris Stainton
Jason Ford
Lou Morgan
Sophia Bennett
Lynn Schreiber
Amy Elize
Alicia Notarainni
Kirsty Stanley
Tamsyn Murray
John Bark
John MacLeary
Jim Ormerod
John Sparkhall
John Scriven
Charles Palmer
Jo Richardson
Lisa Williamson
Kim Curran
Maryline Van Puymbrouck
Chas Stewart
Steve Briddon
Helen Maslin
Noel Johnson
Rachael Digby
Jenny Glover
Lina Purtscher
Carolyn Schofield
Euan Blundell
Kiera O'Brien
James Erskine
Sarah Clare
Larz Bourne
Nick Toth
Bethan Barker
Gemma Conley-Smith
InterHigh Education
Tracey Askew
Caroline Sherwood
Stevie Finegan
Sarah Gilburt
Lizz Skelly
Daniel Love
Chelley Toy
Louisa Reid
Ruth Bennett
Chris Sivewright
Elizabeth Knights-Ward
Paula Hawkins
Lucy Spalding
Stuart Traynor
Denise Spreag
Rachel Evans
Jade Sumbilla
Becky Day
Eleanor Ford
Joanne Ang
Jo Morris
Perdita Cargil-Thompson
Sara Yasmin
Cat Doyle
Caroline Gos
Kate Holmden
Erin Lawless
Sarah Alexander
Stephanie B
Laura Delve

...and all the other people who donated, shared the link, and sent messages of support. I'm amazed at how many people got behind this. You're all WONDERFUL. You have my permission to buy yourselves a book.

And to the person who commented on the Daily Mail article moaning about my generation being entitled: yes, we are entitled - especially to education. Thank you for giving me mine. ❤