Sunday, 29 September 2013

Literary Dinner Party Tag

1.  One character who likes to cook.   
As soon as I read this question, one character came to mind: Mrs Weasley from the Harry Potter books. She's motherly, kind and she always seemed to be cooking. Mmm, food...


2.  One character who has money to fund the party.  
Lucius Malfoy, another person from the Harry Potter books - sorry! The Malfoy family is very wealthy...although, in reflection, having the party in creepy Malfoy Mannor might not be the best place...

3.  One character who might cause a scene.
Jace from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Sarcastic, witty and full of one-liners, he thinks he's better than anyone, and he is always up for a fight!

4.  One character who is funny/amusing.
Archie from Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind by Andy Robb is HILARIOUS. The dinner party would be pretty boring without him.

5.  One character who is super social/popular.
Rhiannon from Every Day by David Levithan. She's quite shy but she always seems to be surrounded by friends and the majority of people in the book like her. She also sounds super nice!


6.  One villain.
Voldemort. But, y'know, he'd have to be in a separate room to us, his lack-of-nose would freak me out.

7.  One couple (doesn't have to be romantic).
I'm going to go right ahead and pick Jace and Clary, from - you guessed it! - The Mortal Instruments series. Oh my god I SHIP THEM SO MUCH. Although I ship Jamber more, obviously.

8.  One hero/heroine.
He's not exactly a hero in the traditional sense but I really respect Augustus Waters as a character. He is from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and I NEED HIM AT MY DINNER PARTY, OKAY?

9.  One under-appreciated character.
I'm going to choose Madeline from Brooklyn Girls because even though she starts off as quite mean, I feel like she has a story to be told and I think she seemed quite vulnerable underneath. I think she'd be interesting to talk to.

10.  One character of your own choosing.
Katniss from The Hunger Games because she is so badass and awesome; plus, she is one of my favourite female characters of all time. And she could teach me how to do the perfect plait...

I tag Sophie from A Day Dreamer's World and Hawwa from It was Lovely Reading You.

Who would you invite to your dinner party? If you do this tag, link me up in the comments and I'll check it out!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Interview with author David Levithan and GIVEAWAY

Today I am so, so, so happy to welcome David Levithan to the blog. I had a lot of fun in this interview and don't forget to read to the end, where five lucky winners can each win a copy of Every Day!

Hi David! Welcome to The Mile Long Bookshelf, it's an honour to have you here. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your new novel (which I loved), Every Day?
Hello, Bookshelf!  My new novel, EVERY DAY, is about a person, named A, who, since birth, has woken up in a different body and different life every morning.  A has gotten used to living a disconnected, featureless life … until a girl named Rhiannon comes in and makes A feel attachment for the first time in ages.


How did you actually come up with the idea of Every Day? A lot of books seem to recycle the same plot over and over again, but yours is completely different to anything I've read before.
Thanks for saying so!  I honestly don’t know where the idea came from – I just loved the notion of waking up in a new body every day, and never having a set body of your own.  For A, this means having led a genderless, raceless, parentless, friendless, religionless, appearanceless life – so there’s no outside definition, only inside definition.  That intrigued me.  As did the question of whether, from Rhiannon’s point of view, a person can love someone who literally changes every day.

How long, roughly, does it usually take for your books to get from inside your head to retailers, readers and reviewers?
For EVERY DAY, I had the idea for the concept … and then put it on the back burner for a couple of years.  Then, after I wrote THE LOVER’S DICTIONARY, I was pondering what to write next, and the idea came back to the front.  It took me about a year to write, and then another year to publish.

If Every Day was in the casting process for a film, who would you pick to play A and Rhiannon? Quite a tricky question, considering A is always changing!
I would want A to be played by a different person for each day – so that’s a lot of actors.  And I honestly don’t know about Rhiannon.  Elle Fanning is the first person who popped into my mind, although goodness knows there are many, many other possibilities.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why?
I love living in Hoboken and working in New York City.  You’ll never get me away from here (except to visit).  Why?  Because everything happens here.  And it’s where most of my friends and most of my family lives.

Good point! Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Don’t pressure yourself to get published.  Pressure yourself to continually improve your writing.  And don’t be afraid to fail.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you? Sorry, I had to ask!
True story:  Last week after a long day, the class I teach got out at 10:30pm and I was walking down Sixth Avenue to the subway.  I had my headphones on – as I always do – and I decided to rock out to Katy Perry’s “Roar”.  I may have been semi-silently singing along.  I was definitely dancing to it.  And in doing so, I rubbed shoulders with a passerby – who ended up being Elvis Costello.  So yeah.  I felt all of my indie credit dissolved in a moment.

Hahaha, oh dear! I'm really looking forward to your next book. Is there anything you can tell us about it?
The next book that’s going to appear in the UK is HOW THEY MET AND OTHER STORIES – which contains a whole lot of stories about love, including one I wrote when I was 16.  One story, “Starbucks Boy”, is perhaps the one I’ve written that the most people have related to – it’s about having a crush on a way cute barista.  Not that that has EVER happened to me.  *blushes*

I'm looking forward to it. Thanks for your great answers, David!
Thank you, Amber!


That is possibly one of the most awesome things that has ever happened on this blog. *gradually stops fangirling* You're probably wanting a copy of Every Day now, aren't you? Aw go on then, if you must! Don't say I never treat you guys! ;D

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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Title: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Published by: Quirk Books
Publication date: 3rd June 2011
Pages: 352
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Hardback
Source: Review copy from the publisher


A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience.

As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here - one of whom was his own grandfather - were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason.

And somehow - impossible though it seems - they may still be alive.

When Jacob's grandfather dies at the beginning of the book, he leaves his monster stories (which no one except Jacob believes) and photos of creepy things like levitating girls and invisible children to Jacob. He is always going to psychologists and after a while he goes to a Welsh island called Cairnholm. There, he discovers the most peculiar thing - a portal to a time loop. An entrance to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

This book is possibly one of the most interesting books I have ever read. It contains real unaltered photographs of, I assume, the characters in the novel. They're quite eerie and some are just downright creepy!

Please ask me if you want to use these photos.
The book as a whole was quite slow and it took a while to build up to anything. However, when something big did happen, it was really exciting and I found myself sat on the edge of my seat! (Figuratively speaking. Because I was actually in bed whilst reading this. ...On the edge of my mattress, maybe?)
Jacob is really easy to empathise with as he is blatantly an outsider and he has no friends. His naive belief in the tales his Grandfather told him and then his dismissal as he grows older is something we can all relate to. After his Grandfather's death, he feels the only way to escape his own grief is to go to his Grandfather's old refugee home. But he comes face to face with adventure along the way and he needs to solve the cryptic message his Grandfather left behind.

I loved the characters, they were excellent! They obviously weren't your typical book characters and it was all just so original and fun to read. The writing was strange, but good. It wasn't full of emotion or humour or anything, but it kept the book going. Normally I wouldn't like that writing style, but I really enjoyed it!

I did have one problem with this book and that was with the time-travel. I found it really hard to follow the rules of time travel and it just confused me in general. Other than that, the book was brilliant and highly original; I especially liked the photos dotted around the book! This isn't just a book - it is art.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Interview with author Andy Robb


Guess what? I have legendary author Andy Robb here today to tell you all about his geeky (but awesome) books, and he also tells us who he would hate to be stuck on a desert island with (sorry, Biebs) as well as what events you can find him at this year.

Hi Andy! Welcome to The Mile Long Bookshelf! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your awesome book 'Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind'?
Hi Amber – it’s a pleasure to be here! Close Encounters is the first in the Geekhood books and it focuses on Archie, a self-confessed Geek. We meet him about a year after his parents’ divorce, when he’s starting to get used to the new step-figures in his life, in the form of Tony (his mum’s boyfriend) and Jane (his dad’s girlfriend). Archie’s got a couple of coping mechanisms up his sleeve: there’s his mates, Ravi, Beggsy and Matt, with whom he paints miniatures for Role Playing Games and there’s his Internal Monologue (IM). The IM’s like an extra character, who lives inside Archie’s head and you get to see what he really thinks about certain things and people, although he might be acting in a completely different way.

And amidst all this, a girl, Sarah, walks into the equation. A girl who Archie likes. And then it’s a decision as to whether to leave his Geekhood behind to get her to like him – or carry on as he is and hope for the best.

Well I'm currently reading it and I love it! How long did it take your book to get from inside your head to retailers, readers and reviewers?
About a year, door to door. Once I’d finished the first draft, my agent took it to a book fair and it came back with three publishers interested. After some real head-scratching, the reins were handed to Stripes Publishing, who've done a fantastic job. I think what I wasn't prepared for was just how long the editing process can take – but it was peculiarly good fun to do.

You're stuck on a desert island with Justin Bieber and One Direction. Who do you kill first?
I’ve taken advice from my son on this one and it’s The Bieber.

Wise choice! If 'Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind' was offered a movie deal, who would you pick to play the main characters?
I do know, but I’m going to keep it quiet! I wrote Archie in a way that I hope everyone can create their own version of him that’s entirely personal to them. Once you associate a Big Name with a character, the two become almost inseparable and I wouldn't want that. So, in the event of a film, I think I’d like the part to go to an unknown actor.

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Have a point of view or something you want to ‘say’ in your writing. A book is where you can put that theory to the test – and it’ll inform which direction the story takes and what the characters do.

Sorry, I have to ask this...what is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
Curse you and your inquisition! Actually, I do tell this story at events I do; it didn't go into the book, but it happened when I was 13. The long and short of it is that I had an Enormous Crush on a girl in my class and ended up telling her. Which was the point at which I passed out. Needless to say, I didn't get the girl.

What is your favourite food?
Chips made by my mum. She’s told me the secret to making them but, even though I've tried, I just can’t get them to taste just the same.

If you're working on a new book right now, can you tell us more about it?
I’m working on two: one YA and one Middle Grade. The YA book features a character as far from Archie as you can get. The Middle Grade book one was inspired by my son and should be a bit of a laugh.

Sounds good! Finally, what events can we see you appearing at soon?
They’re stacking up! Here’s a link to my website, where you can catch them as they arrive: www.theandyrobbsite.co.uk

Thanks, Andy!
Thanks for the interview, Amber!

Monday, 23 September 2013

BLOG TOUR: Interview with Lucy Christopher

Today I am honoured to be kicking off the blog tour for The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher. I read the book a couple of months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I'm pleased to be interviewing Lucy now!

Hi Lucy! Welcome to The Mile Long Bookshelf! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your fantastic novel, The Killing Woods?
I’m a dual citizen of Australia and Wales and I lecture Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. The Killing Woods is my third book, and it was definitely something of a trial. My first two novels, Stolen and Flyaway, were very thoroughly planned and came along relatively easily, at least as far as these things go. The Killing Woods, on the other hand, is the product of three years intense discovery, both within the story, and, I think, within myself as well. I learned about the events in the novel with the characters, as I was writing them. It was a much more difficult, but I hope, also a rewarding writing journey.

What inspired the game that some of the characters play in the woods?
Firstly, I should say – stop reading now if you want to go into the book spoiler free!

In essence, the game is a sort of “capture the flag” type war game. The characters wear buckle-fastening dog collars around their necks and go in to the woods at night, with the goal of forcefully removing the opponents’ collars while keeping their own. The winner is the one with the most collars.

As for the inspiration? To be entirely honest, I don’t know. It just evolved with the book. That sounds like a copout answer, I know, but in truth the story that is now on the pages of The Killing Woods is one of many different versions of this story – this book was originally going to be set in Nigeria, and I’d originally intended for a reality TV element. Those, and many other aspects of the story, have fallen away as I’ve re-written The Killing Woods, and the game is just one of things that evolved out of the process. If I could trace some sort of inspiration to it … well ….umm … I am intrigued by games of war and love playing paintball; I also tend to be interested in any physical activity that tests our abilities against wild nature.

How long did it take The Killing Woods to get from inside your head to retailers, readers and reviewers?
Too long. Far, far too long. It (almost) took me as long to write this book as it did both my previous books combined. My publishers were actually happy to have taken an earlier draft, but I could never get myself to a place where I was happy with it. I still want to tinker with it even now! That said, the audio book has an added bit, and the American edition is changed in a few small ways too. I’ve obsessed over this book for more than three years, and I’m so relieved to be able to finally feel like it’s finished.

If The Killing Woods was offered a movie deal, who would you pick to play Emily and Damon?
This is very difficult for me to answer currently. Right now, I’m actually working on adapting my first novel, Stolen, and my mind is full of casting for that. But, in a general sense, for both book adaptations actually, I like the idea of bringing in an actor who has a few credits to her name and has had a little experience, but isn’t too widely known. Also, because of the age of the characters, anyone I’d have my eye on now would probably be aged out by the time a movie went into production.

But, just to answer in the spirit of the question, I imagined the looks of Team GB high jumper Robbie Grabarz when I wrote the character of Mack, and I did find photos online of young actors who I imagined when I was writing Emily and Damon, though unfortunately I’ve forgotten who they are and where I got the photos. Still, maybe someone like Liam Hemsworth or Alexander Ludwig for Damon. Still not sure about Emily.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Yes. Not to plagiarise Nike, but essentially … Just Do It. Writing is a craft like any other: you need to practice it to get good at it. Write at whatever opportunity you can – whether that be writing stories or novels, or just something like letters and emails. Just engaging with the practise of telling a story to someone – in whatever form – is the best kind of advice I can give.

What is the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to you? Sorry, I had to ask. :D
Of course, no problem. I don’t blame you at all for asking, if you don’t blame me for not answering. ;) My embarrassing things are just for me to know (and laugh about!). Let’s just say one event contained a tepee late at night and a lot of guy ropes...

What is your favourite food?
Does Ice Cream count? If it does, Ice Cream. If not, I’ve got some family in Spain, and when I go there they make me all these incredible, local Spanish dishes. So rustic and powerful and homey. I make them at home sometimes, and it reminds me of summer in the Basque country.

Are you writing a new book and if so, can you tell us about it?
I am just beginning to feel out a new novel for teenagers though I already have a picture book text that is with my agent currently, waiting to be sold. I’m not sure I am ready to tell anyone very much about my new teen novel yet … only that it contains a horse, a boy with eyes like the sea, a kickass dog, and some lizards.

Thanks Lucy!

Hopefully you enjoyed my interview with Lucy! You can see my review of The Killing Woods here. Don't forget to check out the next stops on the blog tour!

Lucy's website  Twitter  Facebook  Buy her books

*Head shot credit to Rolf Mariot.



                                                                                   
                                                                      


Sunday, 22 September 2013

Books are my Bag GIVEAWAY

Books are my Bag is a national campaign for bookshops and it will be running right up to Christmas 2013. It launched on 14th September with the Big Bookshop Party and that's when bookshops across the UK and Ireland turned the high streets orange. Book lovers visited their favourite bookshops, bought books, joined in with their parties, met authors, entered the Books Are My Bag competition and they also bagged the best tote bag ever - the bright orange Books Are My Bag tote!

You can check out what's new with the campaign by visiting the Facebook page or following the Twitter account. Remember to use the hashtag #booksaremybag!

Can't get to your local bookshop? Don't worry, I'm giving you the chance to win a Books are my Bag t-shirt, the iconic Books are my Bag tote bag, two Books are my Bag balloons and a bookmark! The t-shirt is massive, as you can see, but it's still amazing!


Are books your bag? Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win!

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Friday, 20 September 2013

50 Facts About Me Tag

I've seen this tag going around on lots of beauty blogs recently, and although I haven't actually been tagged, I decided to bring it to the book blogging corner of the Internet. So, here we are! It may seem simple; just write 50 facts about yourself, yeah? But it's actually quite hard.
  1. I'm British but I hate tea and I don't look like Emma Watson. Shocking, right?
  2. Sour Cream and Onion Pringles take up 99% of my diet.
  3. I am a perfectionist. I will spend hours over something to make it perfect and, if it isn't perfect, I'll get really stressed.
  4. I'm one of the biggest fangirls you will ever meet!
  5. I'm really sarcastic, like Jace from The Mortal Instruments...ehem.
  6. YouTube is MY LIFE.
  7. My favourite YouTubers are Emma Blackery, Cherry Wallis, Cimorelli, charlieissocoollike, danisnotonfire, Amazing Phil, MacBarbie07, StilaBabe09, BeautyBySiena, Jack and Finn, LukeIsNotSexy, Jenna Marbles, Catrific, Zoella, Alex Day, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Michelle Phan, Ryan Beatty, Megan and Liz, Christina Grimmie and Daily Grace. 
  8. There's this thing, I can't remember what it's called but it's basically Dyslexia with numbers and I think I have it.
  9. I'm very immature and people look down on me for it. I find that quite sad because I'm having fun and they're clearly not. ;)
  10. I overuse smileys. Whoops. :P
  11. All of the members of my favourite band and their brother all follow me on Twitter. OH YEAH *fist pump*
  12. I find making graphics really fun, so, if you want me to make you one then just let me know.
  13. You can usually find me staring at my phone screen as I scroll through Facebook and Twitter for...hours...
  14. When I was little I had a heart murmur. This usually means you have a hole in your heart, but I didn't because I'm, erm, awesome like that. :P I think mine has healed now though. Hopefully. :)
  15. I haven't seen the City of Bones movie yet but I REALLY hope they film City of Ashes!
  16. My mum is an artist and I've inherited her love for all things creative, yay. :)
  17. I like those quote pictures that seem to clog up Tumblr. I know they're mainstream but...meh...
  18. This is taking way longer than I thought it would.
  19. I ship loads of people, for example: Dramione, Romione, Clace, Malec, Sisabelle, Phan and more. Try and guess who they are. :D
  20. I have 7 guitars.
  21. As you may have guessed by my last fact, I play guitar. I also play piano.
  22. I really like dance, but I haven't done it as an extra curricular since I was 7, so I never really got a chance to pursue it as more than just a hobby. 
  23. I used to be a cheerleader and I came 3rd in  Nationals and 2nd in Regionals. Yaaay.
  24. I really enjoy photography! Must. Get. A. Tripod.
  25. I'd really like to run a fashion blog but I doubt I'd have time, with this blog and school and GCSEs...
  26. I've been using a computer since I was 2 years old. 
  27. I'm 15 next month which is a bit weird seeing as, mentally, I am a 10 year old. xD
  28. ...Is the date of my birthday. 
  29. I don't have an e-reader which sucks because most publishers are turning to 'paperless publishing'. -_-
  30. I use Twitter far too much.
  31. I despise Justin Bieber and One Direction. Sorry. :/
  32. My personality is kind of weird, because I'm mainstream in some ways but not mainstream in others? I don't even know if that makes sense...like, I love some mainstream music but I also like old stuff like Pink Floyd and Nirvana...:P
  33. CATCHING. FIRE. IS. OUT. IN. NOVEMBER. That's not even a fact about me but OMG.
  34. For my IGCSEs I'm taking Business Studies, Childcare, History and Geography, along with the core subjects.
  35. I'm half French and apparently I descend from Irish people. Does that make me...Frishlish? What an awesome word I just created.
  36. I've only ever met one author (Cathy Cassidy) but several times. She's lovely, by the way!
  37. I've always wondered why Tippex isn't the same colour as paper? Our world allows us to make amazing pieces of technology, yet we can't even get the colour of Tippex right...-_-
  38. It really annoys me when I get a review request starting with 'Dear blogger' or 'Dear Long Bookshelf'. Um hello, that isn't even my name...
  39. I'm a Shadowhunter. Don't know what that means? Silly little Mundane.
  40. I'm a Witch at Hogwarts. Don't know what that means? Silly little Muggle.
  41. People think my hair is black but it's actually really dark brown. Well, it was purple and now it's faded to blue but it's usually dark brown...
  42. I got all A*s in my End of Y9 Exams which was unexpected. o.O Still can't believe it.
  43. I like making other people happy.
  44. VW Campers are awesome.
  45. I wanna go to Los Angeles. Now. Please. :P
  46. In 10 years me, Sophie and Rita are going to the Library Hotel in NYC whilst we attend BEA. Yep. #IWish.
  47. For some reason people on the Internet think I'm really confident but I'm not, I'm really shy. :P
  48. I say ASDFGHJKL a lot. It's practically my motto.
  49. ONLY ONE FACT LEFT OMG WHAT DO I SAY THIS IS LIKE TRYING TO PICK ONE THING TO WISH FOR.
  50. Did you know that when you write something and then put a ;) on the end of it, it sounds really wrong? ;)
Yaaay, the 50 Facts About Me tag has officially made it's way into the book blogging world! I'm going to tag six people, but only do it if you want to! :)

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor and Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published by: Orion
Publication date: 28th February 2013
Pages: 336
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift.


Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn't stick out more if she tried.

Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book - he thinks he's made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor...never to Eleanor.

Slow, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose.

Eleanor and Park is set in 1986 in Omaha. It all starts with Eleanor not being able to find a seat on the school bus...except for an empty one next to Park. For a few weeks, they exchange mix tapes and comics, but they never exchange any words. As their feelings for each other continue to grow, they fall in what can only be described as young love.

For a few months now I have been seeing reviews of this book and others by Rainbow Rowell. What intrigued me was that I have never seen a negative review of any of her books! When Fiona of Eventide Reads sent me her copy (thank you!!) I was eager to try this out for myself.

Eleanor is a very complex person. Her home life isn't exactly the best; her step-dad is abusive, she shares a tiny room with her four younger siblings and there is hardly ever any food in the house. On top of all of that, she gets bullied at school, she sees herself as fat and ugly and nothing ever seems to go her way. I think her dry wit was brilliant! I've been reading books with over the top humour lately, so it was refreshing to read something so subtle, yet fantastic. She doesn't even attempt to fit in - she constantly wears men's clothes, she doesn't bother with her hair and she just generally doesn't act like the stereotypical teenage girl. Rainbow Rowell (why wasn't I called Rainbow? Instead I'm stuck with the second colour of the rainbow-_-) did an excellent job of showing that you don't need to try and fit in. Just be yourself and the right people will like you.

I loved Park! Usually in books, the guy always does something that screws everything up, but Park seemed like a decent guy. The fact that he gave Eleanor - a girl he barely knew - his comics was really sweet and I liked that he took the time to create mix tapes for her. He was caring, generous and understanding - yay! Park is different from the usual love interests in YA, and that contributed to my list of 'Reasons Why I Love This Book'.

Usually I'm not a fan of books that are set in the past. However, a few days ago I read Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone which was set in the 1990s, and I realised I really don't mind them! In 'Eleanor and Park', I actually kept forgetting it wasn't set in the present day because it wasn't that different. That's a good thing, by the way!

There is a MASSIVE twist in this book and it startled me! It jumped out of nowhere. I won't go into too much detail but I'd just like to say that the author did a great job of even keeping the reader in the dark about what was going on!

The ending of the book frustrated me. How could it end like that? It doesn't even have a sequel. It really depressed me. My poor mum had to witness me go 'ARGHHHH' really loudly, throw the book across the room (I swear it was the first and last time, it's not damaged!) and then I picked it up and hugged it (shush, you.) Do you want to see my reaction for yourself? I live-tweeted it...it's scary, be warned.


I'm really not a fan of cliffhangers, especially when there is no sequel. The book was brilliant up until that point, but the ending really annoyed me!

Overall, this was a truly enthralling read! It wasn't at all what I expected, but it was a pleasant surprise. It has somehow restored my faith in the human race and the story has been expertly crafted. Now I'm really excited to read Attachments and Rainbow's upcoming novel, Fangirl!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

GUEST POST: One in a Million: Writing Series Fiction by author Lil Chase

It’s a daunting task to write a book. So many words. So many plot holes to trip over. Avoiding the danger of boring the reader.

But if an author has faith in their idea, or in their protagonist, they might choose to write a series. Perhaps a trilogy, or quartet. Or, even more impressively, a set of books with the potential to go on forever, like Sweet Valley High or Beast Quest.

Image

In 2010 Quercus read the manuscript for Boys For Beginners and before signing me they wanted to know if I had anything to follow it up with. I sent them a three page synopsis continuing the story of the main character Gwynnie. I also sent five sentences of an idea called ‘Locker 62’.

They offered me a two book deal. But they wanted Locker 62.

My agent said this was better than a follow up book for Boys For Beginners; "Now you have two cracks of the whip". i.e. if the readers don’t like one Gwynnie book, they are not going to like the sequel… but they might like Secrets, Lies and Locker 62 (as it became). Sad as I was to be saying goodbye to Gwynnie and her friends, this made a lot of sense and it felt very freeing.

So after the liberation of publishing two stand-alone books, why now am I writing a series?

At the end of last year I sent my editor a third stand-alone book called The Queen of Clubs. The pitch was: ‘Two sisters: rival clubs’. She liked the idea, she liked the writing… but did I want to write a series? I said, ‘Heck yeah!’ before I realised what I was taking on.

The elements of the story had to be bigger. The hook had to be hookier. When writing a series there are two concepts to work on: the novel’s concept (which could remain as two sisters with rival clubs). And the series’ concept, which could be:

  • A original premise – for example, each chapter covers the lives of two protagonists on 15 July, for twenty years (One Day)
  • A prevailing conflict – the problems of loving someone who is a vampire (The Vampire Diaries)
  • An intriguing character – Percy Jackson / A Wimpy Kid
  • A vivid setting – a boarding school for training witches and wizards (Hogwarts)

Locker 62 had an original premise – a locker stuffed full of secrets. But once all the secrets had been cleared up I knew there was no more that could be done with it. More secrets? More investigation? The idea would quickly become tired.

I also crossed conflict off the list. Dragging out the issues between the two sisters seemed tough to do book after book after book. (Although it can work very well in comedy like Horrid Henry or My Sister the Vampire.)

My main character – Lara – though complex, fun and funny, is very much an ‘everygirl’. She could easily pull off two books, even three… but a whole series that stretched on forever?

This left the setting. Of course I could make the setting an ‘everyschool’ like Grange Hill. But I wanted my idea to be better than that, hookier: a school with something special about it. I quickly dismissed stage school and boarding school because it’s been done before – rather well – and I haven’t personally experienced either.

Write what you know…

I went to an all-girls school. The local boys’ school started taking in girls, and I was the exact right age to join. I could not think of anything more thrilling than being one of those girls. The novelty of it. The excitement. Being surrounded by boys – a dream! And as it turned out, only about twenty girls enrolled that year. To me they were the luckiest girls in the world.

But when I asked my male friends about them, they weren’t that bothered. The novelty quickly wore off. Suddenly I felt sorry for the girls. Being surrounded by boys – a nightmare! They only had a few girls to talk to, who’s to say they’d find a good friend?

So that was my series idea: ten girls enrolling in an all-boys school. The conflicts in each book could arise from each other or from the boys that surrounded them. A setting rich in possibility. I pitched the idea to Quercus and they went for it.

The Boys’ School Girls is due for release in August 2014.

Top tips for writing series fiction:

  1. Come up with a series concept with the potential to produce lots of stand-alone concepts.
  2. Before writing the first book in the series, know about all the players, even the bit parts. Characters should have three-dimensions in stand-alone books; four, five or more dimensions in series fiction. They will need to have clear personalities, but have the ability to surprise the reader (and sometimes the author!).
  3. No one notices your mistakes like a fan. Write a series bible. Start straight away. Note everything from full names to nick names to haircuts to siblings’ names.
  4. Each book must have a satisfying ending – whether stand-alone or series. The conflict raised in the individual book must be resolved by the end of that same book.
  5. But leave some threads hanging. These threads can be picked up in other books and the loyal reader will feel rewarded by noticing. i.e. Lara’s best friend Abby has a sister who is chronically ill. This is mentioned in passing in book 1, but will a major subplot in book 2.

Lil is the author of two books - Boys For Beginners (2011) and Secrets Lies and Locker 62 (2012) both published by Quercus. You can see Amber's review of Boys For Beginners here.

Buy her books here  Website  Twitter  Facebook

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Cosy places to read

The other day I was browsing the Internet for sloth memes, as you do - sloths are cute, okay? - and then I started searching for images of the cosiest places to read. I thought I would share my favourites with you!


I would LOVE a book nook like one of these! They're gorgeous and they look so comfy and relaxing. There are some relatively easy tutorials on making book nooks online, but I simply don't have the space for one. 

Do any of you have a book nook?




This post is a scheduled post from the 24th July 2013.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Undeniable by Liz Bankes

Title: Undeniable
Author: Liz Bankes
Published by: Piccadilly Press
Publication date: 23rd July 2013
Pages: 224
Genres: New Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher


Gabi is so excited - she's spending the summer working as a runner on her favourite TV show. It's a dream come true! Plus it's perfect for distracting her from The Break-Up - especially with all those gorgeous actors around.

And then there's Spencer: student, extra, expert flirt. Everything with him is fun, exciting - and uncertain. Things between them are hotting up when he lands a minor role in the show. So is it make or break for them? Is Spencer undeniably the one for Gabi?

Gabi is ditzy, hyper and a little bit mad, so it's no surprise that the way she meets Spencer is by falling off a train. When she discovers they will be working together for the summer, secrets are told, secrets are kept and the sense of endless possibilities buzzes around them. It's undeniable that there is something between them, but the road of love never does run smooth.

The characters were well formed and believable, but the thing is...I didn't really like Gabi. Or Spencer. They had their good moments when I was cheering them on or laughing at things they said, but most of the time they kind of annoyed me! I judge characters based on this: Would I get on with them in real life? Would I at least like them? And this time, the answer was sadly no, to both of them.

However, I really liked the secondary characters! Gabi's little sister Millie was hilarious. We didn't actually see much of her, but there is a scene where her and Gabi are on the phone having typical sibling banter and I was genuinely laughing out loud.
And then there was Gabi's Granny, who was really cool and not your typical nan (although she reminded me a lot of mine.) She didn't act old at all and her and Gabi were almost like best friends, or as much as you can be with your own grandma.
Next we have Max, Gabi's ex. For most of the book, I didn't like him. We saw flashbacks of him when he was in his relationship with Gabi and to be honest he seemed a bit gross, most of the time! But towards the end of the book he seemed like a much better person so that was good.

The plot was okay but it wasn't much different from books I've read before. I hate to say it, but it's true! Girl goes to city on a summer job, girl finds boy, they have a fling. The book is full of humour which is great and probably my favourite thing about it! I think a lot of people would enjoy 'Undeniable' as a light, summer read but sadly it just didn't work for me.

It was nice and short so that's something (I've been reading way too many long novels, lately) and it didn't require much thought so it was fun to escape into for a while. My rating for this book is 3/5.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Bones
Author: Cassandra Clare
Published by: Walker Books
Publication date: 2nd July 2007
Pages: 512
Genres: Young Adult/Paranormal/Romance/Dystopian
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought.


When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder -- much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing -- not even a smear of blood -- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know...

Clary encounters the dark side of New York City - and the dangers of forbidden love.

This is a book that has been majorly hyped, and with the release of the book-to-film adaption just a couple of weeks ago, I'd be surprised if there is anyone in the world who hasn't heard of it. For a few months I was pretty intent on not reading the series because firstly I didn't want to be disappointed when they've been hyped so much and secondly I like to be different. Yes, I'm a book blogger but that doesn't necessarily mean I want to read what everyone else is reading! However, after months of torture persuasion from Lucy and Zoe, I caved in and bought the whole series. A risk, but the whole series was on sale for just £6.99 which is a saving of about £32 - who could say no?!

If you've been reading this blog from the beginning, you'll know just by looking at the cover of this book that it's not something I would usually go for. The thing is, I have never seen a negative review of the series so I thought if everyone else likes it, chances are I will too.

I'll admit, I did run into a few problems whilst reading the novel. The author didn't seem to stick to her plan. By that, I mean she would say something and then completely contradict it on the next page. For example, a few of the characters were at a party. She wrote that there wasn't a band there, and then on the next page she mentioned a band playing. Another example of this is when they were going to a hotel. Jace knew exactly where the hotel was, and then on the next page it said they had spent an hour looking for it. If you know exactly where a place is, surely you wouldn't spend so long looking for it? I know I'm being picky, but even debut authors make sure not to make mistakes like this, and Clare has written a lot of books in her time.

Another (but the last) fault I found with the book was that occasionally the characters would act a little stupid. An example is when they were being chased somewhere (don't worry, that's not a spoiler) and when they were trying to escape they ran upstairs instead of downstairs. Hmm.

The problems I have highlighted don't majorly affect the story, luckily. I know I was being picky, but when a book has been so hyped and when an author has written so many books, you don't really expect to see any basic problems at all.

Now I'll get on to the positive things. OH. MY. GOD. This book...I LOVED IT SO MUCH. I'm not going to confer to the stereotype and say 'Omg this is the best book ever read it now k bye' because in all honesty, it isn't the best book ever. However, it was absolutely fantastic and I was completely blown away! I felt ALL THE FEELS. Heartbreak, empathy, urgency, horror, compassion. As soon as I finished the book, I went straight to Twitter and it turned out me and Hawwa had finished the book at exactly the same time! Caps lock ensued. Here is just a small preview of what you may have missed, and whilst I'm on the subject, I apologise for clogging up your Twitter feeds last night. It was, erm, a book emergency.


Anyway. The world that Clare has built is beautifully detailed and I really felt like I was there. The book took me a while to get in to, but that seems to happen with every book I read these days so I stuck with it and I am so glad I did! The characters were all so diverse and it added even more originality. Obviously I have fallen in love with the book and I really hope the other books in the series will be just as good, if not even better. The concept is brilliant - people who can hunt demons. Shadowhunters. Fighting to the death. I just loved all of it!

The main love interest Jace was full of witty comebacks and hilarious one-liners. All the banter had me laughing out loud! I loved the fact that on the surface, he didn't seem to care what anyone thought but you could tell that inside he was quite vulnerable. Clary was awesome, too! She wasn't afraid of much and she coped with her Mother's death well. She fully immersed herself in the world of Shadowhunters and she was so headstrong and determined. Simon, her best friend and part of a love triangle, kind of annoyed me a bit at the beginning but I grew to like him as the book went on.

And then the twist near the end of the book. WHAT?! I honestly did not see that coming at all! Woaaahh. That has to have been the best plot twist ever. People who have already read the book will know exactly what I'm talking about here.

'City of Bones' really is an emotional roller coaster of a book and I was surprised at how much I ended up loving it. It's spectacular and I think, no matter what your favourite genre is, that you'll love this too. What a sensational book! Now...onto Book 2. :)


                                                                       

Friday, 13 September 2013

GUEST POST: My Favourite Topics in YA by Sophie from A Day Dreamer's World

Visit Sophie's blog!
First off, a huge thank you to Amber for letting me Guest Post on this blog! I'm so excited to be posting here as I love reading this blog!

Young Adult novels deal with a variety of different topics from war and conflict to bullying and standing-out. There are so many books out there can hit the nail on the head when it comes to dealing with certain themes in YA. There can be a lot of controversy over certain topics appearing in books like when John Green's novel 'The Fault in Our Stars' caused the YA Sick-Lit Argument by the Daily Mail. It also heats up a lot of online discussion but, what I think, is these authors are so talented and are able to get our attention and then teach us about these topics - which can be hard to discuss in the real-world.

War and Conflict are two of the topics that are hard to talk about in so many ways. It's constantly in the news - but, where does it all begin and end? I love reading books which allow us to understand war and it's consequences, and also, show what could be our future. 'The Hunger Games' is my favourite novel and I think one of the reasons for this is the way it deals with conflict. There's the conflict that first starts the annual games - the Dark Days - and what happens in Mockingjay. I love how Suzanne Collins was able to go: "Look, this could be our future. We should stop fighting and think about our actions." You can look at how successful 'The Hunger Games' is and see how the message is really getting across.

Illness is another topic that is tip-toed around and through books, you can start to have the smallest idea of what it's like. We'll never be able to understand, and I hope I never will but, it makes us more aware. 'The Fault in Our Stars' is a popular novel that deals with this. If you didn't need tissues during the novel, or realise how well John Green dealt with illness...I truthfully don't know what to say. And it wasn't happy-ever-after which I think is definitely an important thing to point out. Life isn't a fairy-tale after all.

There also never seems to be an end to Bullying - or the length these bullies will go too.  They want to break you down to a place where you'll never be able to get back up. I believe it's so important for young people to understand it's not just okay to bully someone and also, what to do if you are getting bullied. Books that deal with this really well are 'Finding Cherokee Brown' by Siobhan Curham and 'Geek Girl'(which is also all about being proud of who you are) by Holly Smale.

Which themes do you like to see in YA Novels? Do you think they're a good way to educate people about bullying etc?

Thank you so much to Amber (once again) for allowing me to get in on her blog's awesomeness for the day!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

HOW TO: Add a Post Divider on Blogger

Hi everyone! This is my first 'How To' post which is a bit daunting, but I've wanted to do it for a while. Today I'll show you how you can add a post divider to add a bit of a twist to your blog design!

What is a post divider?
Can you see the black lines in between the top post and the post below? That is my post divider and as the name suggests, it divides your posts. It is a thin image that is the same width as your blog posts and you can customise them however you want to really easily.

Okay so how do I make one?
Firstly you need to know how many pixels your post divider should be. Go to Template and click Edit HTML, hit CTRL and F on your keyboard and a search box should pop up. Type 'main-wrapper' without the quotes and find the highlighted section. There you will find the width of your blog post space.

If that doesn't work for you, go to Template, click Customise and then click Adjust Widths. There you will find the width of your whole blog and your sidebars. To find the width of the blog post area, subtract the width of your sidebar from your whole blog width and you will have the answer! 

Still with me? I hope so! Next, you need to create your divider. There are some great free online photo editors where you can make beautiful graphics; some examples are PicMonkey and Pixlr. Mess around with the patterns and textures, and see what works for you!

After that, resize the image using the same website by putting in the measurements you collected at the beginning.

You're almost done, I promise! You need to find somewhere to host your image. Personally, I normally use Photobucket. Upload it!

Then, go back to Blogger and click Layout, and then Add a Gadget. Select Add HTML/JavaScript. Back on Photobucket, look for the Direct Link for your photo. Copy and paste it into the Add HTML/JavaScript box back on your blog.


Click save. You're done! See how easy that was? If designing your own post divider doesn't seem like something you want to do, I found this little pack of post dividers which you can use for free, and then do the steps which I included above.

Your blog looks pretty damn cool now (not that it didn't before!). If you followed this tutorial to add your own post divider, I'd love to see what you created so feel free to link me up in the comments below! And if this tutorial didn't work for you then you can ask me questions in the comments or on Twitter (@MileLongBookS) and I'll try my best to help you. :)

Would you like me to do more 'How to' posts?