Monday, 5 December 2016

My Picks for Future Rounds of the #ZoellaBookClub

If you've been on the blog or on my YouTube channel recently (why not?) you might know that blogger Zoe Sugg has just released her second list of books for the #ZoellaBookClub in conjunction with WHSmith. And I love it. Not only does it get people reading, but our reading tastes seem to be pretty similar, meaning at least one of my favourite books gets a pretty new cover every time, and I get a bunch of book recommendations that I'll probably like. What's not to love? Seriously. Look at this stuff.

Loving the way YouTube stretches thumbnails. Stylish.

There are LOADS of books I would love to see included in future versions of the book club. I keep seeing Zoe's fans reading the books and I just want to comment and be like THESE ARE AMAZING BUT ALSO PLS READ THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS AND THIS THANK YOU GOOD DAY. But I stop myself because, y'know, I'd rather not receive a restraining order.

Anyway. Behold, utter greatness:

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso | Buy the book | My review

One of the most inspiring books I've ever read, and who doesn't love a bit of non-fiction?

When We Collided by Emery Lord | Buy the book | My review

This book made me so happy at a time when I really wasn't. It covers mental health accurately, respectfully, and in a hopeful way.

The Moonlight Dreamers by Siobhan Curham | Buy the book | My review

This is such a gorgeous book about a group of friends who come together with the aim of lifting each other up and achieving their dreams.

The Graces by Laure Eve | Buy the book | My review

I think Zoe would love this one. The Graces 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...

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne | Buy the book | My review

I am a big fan of Holly's books, as they focus on two of my favourite topics: mental health and feminism. I hugely related to this book and it is SO important.

Night School by C.J. Daugherty | Buy the book | My review

This series is seriously so much fun. A mysterious boarding school with a secret group of elite students? And with a sprinkling of romance? Um, yes please.

The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla | Buy the book

An important collection of essays by writers exploring what it's like to be BAME in Britain today. If you haven't heard of this book, then I have to ask: where have you been?

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard | Buy the book

Okay, so it's not out yet, and Sara's other book was in the first round of the #ZoellaBookClub, but I don't care. Steffi has selective mutism, Rhys is deaf, and both of them feel like they don't have a place in the world - until they meet each other. Everyone needs to read it.

Unboxed by Non Pratt | Buy the book | My review

I feel like the book club might be daunting for a lot of people e.g. if they have Dyslexia, or simply don't like long books. Unboxed is a completely brilliant short story about a group of friends who come together after the death of their friend and dig out their time capsule. Plus, it's written in a Dyslexia-friendly font on slightly coloured paper to make reading easier.

Some of these don't necessarily fit Zoe's/WHSmith's target audience, and there's the small matter that this, err, isn't my book club... but it was fun thinking about what I'd like to see next time!

What would you love to see in the #ZoellaBookClub?

Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Mile Long Bookshelf's 7 Year Highlights

Happy birthday, little blog - you're 7 today!

I'm not going to pretend this year hasn't been a struggle. When you've been blogging for so long that you've pretty much written about everything, it gets extremely difficult to think of fresh and interesting ideas. Because of that, I've been uninspired, demotivated, and... honestly, worried. For the first time in my life, there have been times this year where I've been unable to truly see a future for this corner of the Internet.

But I got through it, and I'm glad, because I really don't want this crazy adventure to stop. Here are some of my blogging highlights from the past 7 years...

Getting my first review request from an author...

I've just delved into my inbox, and this was on 23rd January 2010. I hadn't realised it was so soon after starting this blog?! I remember the moment like it was yesterday, though; I was SO excited that an author had initiated a conversation with ME! And she wanted to send me her book! The author in question was Leila Rasheed, author of Chips, Beans and Limousines, a book I still own today and which I doubt I'll ever get rid of. It's special to me.

...and super cool postcards!

A few months after my first review request, I got chatting to Kimberly Greene, author of My Sister's a Pop Star which I still recommend today. Kimberly sent me five postcards from around California, and wouldn't tell me when she'd sent them so that I'd be surprised when one arrived. On the backs of these postcards, she told me all about the area which was SO cool and incredibly kind.

Getting my reviews quoted in books

Just because I've been at this for a long time doesn't mean this is any less exciting for me. Seriously, I freak out at every stage of the process. Even after the book is published, if I see it in a shop, I'll run over and admire my name printed in an actual book for people to buy. My first quote was for the re-jacketed editions of Sue Limb's books in 2011, and since then I've been lucky enough to have my thoughts in or on The Graces by Laure Eve, Stephanie Perkins' Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After, Diary of a Mall Girl by Luisa Plaja, Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff, The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss, and more! WOO.

Going to the Divergent premiere

I walked a red carpet... and not because I jumped the barrier in a spontaneous act of badass-ery, but because I was invited to?! To be honest, I'm not a massive fan of the franchise anymore - the first film was incredible, but it's gone rapidly downhill since then. Going to the premiere was such a big thing for me, though, and it was the first opportunity I'd had to test myself since the utter shitstorm of December 2012 when the whole anxiety thing began. I'm still so grateful that I was invited because if I hadn't have been, I don't know when I would have felt able to start making steps to progress. And, y'know, I WAS IN THE SAME ROOM AS KATE WINSLET. Still not over it. (Here's my blog post and vlog of the day!) (I've since been on another red carpet. A Harry Potter red carpet. WTF?)

Going to YALC

The highlight of 2015 and 2016. This is such an amazing book convention and it seems like everyone's there, so it's the perfect opportunity to meet your favourite Internet people! Here's my recap from 2015 and my recap from this year if you're bored... (you shouldn't be. You're reading my blog. It's great.)

Going to college

'Going to college?' I hear you ask. 'How is that relevant?' If you missed it, in August 2015 I was forced to crowdfund my college education due to a bunch of different rubbish reasons. The whole story is linked above, but the bottom line is... we did it! I'm nearing the halfway point of my final year and it's going so well. I'm so happy that I was given this opportunity and, even though it can be very stressful sometimes, education should never be taken for granted. That huge essay you have due in tomorrow? You're lucky to have it.

Getting to visit publishers

I think I've only been to Penguin Random House and Pan Macmillan... I could be wrong. But I freak out (inwardly, because I'm on my best adulting behavior) whenever I step foot in one, because this is where the magic happens. I wrote about this in a bit more detail here, if you want to follow that train of thought further.

Getting verified on Twitter

I know this is incredibly mundane and not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. After all, a verification tick on Twitter is literally just a formation of blue pixels on a screen. However, it was really cool because I never expected to get verified (or not until I had a book deal under my belt, at least... PLS SOMEONE GIVE ME ONE) and now I can tweet my favourite band (no prizes for guessing which one) knowing that they'll see it. Omg. So much powaaahh.

Learning stuff

The book community is so incredibly clever and diverse. I've learned so much over the years that I'm not sure I would have known otherwise; things about feminism, mental health, racism, other cultures... my world has been made much bigger and much smaller all at the same time.

Making friends

I officially have more far-flung Internet friends than I do offline friends. Which is kind of sad, but also kind of awesome. Blogging has definitely brought a lot of cool people into my life, and for that I'll always be thankful.

Whether you've been reading my blog for years or days, what's been your highlight on my blog?

Monday, 28 November 2016

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Title: The One Memory of Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr
Published by: Penguin Random House UK
Publication date: 5th January 2017
Pages: 306
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary/Disability
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora's brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora's fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words "be brave" inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway - the land of the midnight sun - determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must "be brave" if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

Earlier this year you might remember I went along to the Penguin Random House UK offices to hear about their 2016 releases - and, included, was one very special 2017 release. That book was called The One Memory of Flora Banks and, having enjoyed one of the author's adult novels before, I was very much looking forward to her foray into YA. Needless to say, there was no way I could wait until nearer publication to read the early copy I found in my goody bag, so this review has been a long time coming!

Who is Flora Banks, I hear you ask? Flora is the rather wonderful protagonist of this story, and she can only remember things from the first 11 years of her life. Now 17, she only has new memories for a couple of hours before they slip away again as if they never happened. Her life consists of constantly writing things down on her arms and on sticky notes, and she will live in Penzance with her parents, no independence and the occasional thought that she is ten, not seventeen, forever. But when Flora's brother in Paris becomes extremely ill, her parents need to stay with him. For once, Flora is on her own - and this is her story.

Due to Flora's memory, certain things had to be repeated throughout the book. I can't deny that it added authenticity and made Flora's anterograde amnesia even more believable, but it could be a bit much sometimes. However, The One Memory of Flora Banks is completely brilliant and spectacularly done. Having never read about anterograde amnesia or even heard of it, Flora and her zest for life made me think about things I'd never even considered; just thinking about how Barr wrote this and kept track of everything makes my brain ache, never mind people who actually have anterograde amnesia and live every day with ink stains on their fingers, sticky notes everywhere and only a few lingering memories. Highly original and thought provoking, I'll be singing this book's praises for months to come. This is definitely one book you won't be able to stop thinking about in 2017.