Saturday, 31 May 2014

EVENT REPORT: 'City of Heavenly Fire' UK Launch Party

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to The Mortal Instruments: City of Heavenly Fire launch party in London. Unfortunately I couldn't go, so instead I held a competition and ended up giving my tickets to the lovely Paige Staff, also known as TheBritishBooktuber over on YouTube. Here is what she got up to at the event!
~~~
On Tuesday 27th May, eager UK fans of The Mortal Instruments series finally had the chance to glimpse and get their hands on the one thing every Shadowhunter around the globe has been waiting for: City of Heavenly Fire. After 2 years of waiting, approximately 520 TMI fans queued outside the Bloomsbury Theatre, London to attend a special fan event, the City of Heavenly Fire UK Launch Party, in order to become the first people in the country to receive the final instalment of Cassandra Clare's bestselling series – and, thanks to Amber from The Mile Long Bookshelf, I was amongst them!


The launch party began at 1pm and the event itself was held in the auditorium of the Bloomsbury Theatre. In my case, I had never been to the Bloomsbury Theatre before, so this in itself was a new experience, but what was to come was even more exciting. For the first hour of the event, fans had the choice to queue up for one of three things.


The first activity available was body art painting, where you were able to have glittering runes painted on your chest/arm/neck – personally I chose to have an angelic rune on my chest, a la Isabelle Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie. The second activity was rune nail art painting, courtesy of NAILS BY METS, who worked extremely hard to paint as many fans’ nails with black and white runes as possible in the one hour time slot. The third and final activity available was the 'Shadowhunter Selfie' where you were able to have your photograph taken with two guys dressed in typical black Shadowhunter gear and covered in runes.


Only whilst I was having my picture done did I notice how all of the nail artists, body paint artists and even photographers were dressed in black or covered in runes; I believe that this was a real testament to the enthusiasm of Walker Books as not only did it help everyone to get into the TMI spirit, but it also showed how much everybody attending the event admired and respected the books and the work Cassandra Clare does. Whilst queueing for these activities, a slideshow of quotes from the books and relating to Cassandra Clare's thoughts on writing played in the background. At the same time, the MC was reading out tweets which people had written with the hashtag #TMIParty – and the hashtag actually got trending WORLDWIDE!


At 2pm, everyone then took their seats to listen and watch an exclusive video message from Cassandra Clare, thanking everyone for coming, before she read an excerpt from City of Heavenly Fire. Unlike the prologue or Chapter 1 which were available to fans via the #TMITuesday, this reading was a random snippet from somewhere near the middle of the book, featuring Alec, Isabelle, Clary, Simon and Jace in a demon realm. It was the kind of excerpt where each character was gradually mentioned in turn, causing the entire audience to hold their breath, shout and squeal as each name was mentioned. After the reading, a special fan film screening of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie occurred, with Cassandra Clare setting the audience various tasks to do throughout the film (including): scream when Jace comes on screen; howl when you see Luke; boo when you come across Valentine. It would be an understatement to say that, as a TMI fan, I have seen the movie several times, but this fan film screening was unlike anything I had ever been to before. The crowd participation was incredible, the atmosphere was enthusiastic and electric, and it was almost unbelievable when you thought about how everybody sitting in the room was a fan of the books and loved them as much as you did.


Once the fan film screening had finished, I finally received my early copy of City of Heavenly Fire in a Waterstones goodie bag. Not only did the edition of the book feature a full colour pull-out character poster, but inside the goodie bag we were also gifted with a cover art postcard and a journal from The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie (which included pages for you to write on, quotes and character profiles). My fangirl heart was certainly beating faster than a Daylighter could run.

Overall, the City of Heavenly Fire UK Launch Party was an incredible, insane experience, especially as I had never been to a book or fan event like this before, and now I am certainly determined to go to a lot more.

Once again, I would like to thank Amber from The Mile Long Bookshelf, without whom I would not have been able to attend the event!


Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Blogging and Booktubing: A Tale of Two Bookish Communities

Once upon a time there were two little princesses, and they lived in a huge, beautiful kingdom. It had so much room, it was able to have deep blue, shimmering oceans; fresh, leafy forests; hot, dry deserts; areas of concrete and cultures otherwise known as cities... some called it 'the world.' Every morning and every night without fail, the sky would become streaked with pink, yellow, and orange watercolour. These two princesses lived on opposite sides of the kingdom and hardly ever met but, funnily enough, they both had long hair as gold as the sunset, and they were forever unknowingly wearing the same regal gowns. Another similarity they had was books - a burning passion for books. However, they both shared their bookish passion in different ways: the first princess would climb to the top of the tallest rock in the kingdom once a week, and she would shout about the books she had read to anyone who would listen. The second princess would carefully print her thoughts on scrolls, and once a week or perhaps even every day, she would hand these out to others who inhabited the kingdom. They were so similar, in fact, that they would constantly be mistaken for the other princess, even though they hardly ever got to meet. 

Book bloggers and booktubers are equally important to the publishing world, and equally amazing in their own ways. There has always seemed to be a divide between the two communities, though, and they rarely seem to mingle online. Book bloggers and booktubers tend to keep to themselves, unless you do both, like me. Even then, I'll admit I much prefer talking to book bloggers. Booktubers in general just don't seem as friendly and approachable.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about. This is.



I'm here to talk about a panel at BEA, called The Publishing Process: How Bloggers Have Changed the Game. I wasn't at BEA this year, but around 8pm UK time, Twitter flooded with angry tweets about the blogging panel which was apparently focusing on one particular booktuber. No book blogging. No booktubing. Just one booktuber.



It really frustrated me! I wasn't there so obviously I can't make a complete and unbiased opinion, but from the tweets I read it's clear that book bloggers were not being represented at all, or even appreciated. Um...American publicists, you realise book bloggers give huge amounts of publicity to books just as much as booktubers do, right?


I'm just sat here typing this from my little corner of England, and even here I'm devastated about how the panel seems to have been handled. Booktubing is not better than book blogging, both are equally effective, and I think telling book bloggers that booktubers are better was an especially bad move on BEA's part. And getting a booktuber who apparently doesn't even read blogs to be on the panel? What? I have nothing against this particular booktuber but...who decided that would be a good idea, especially on a blogging panel? Had I been there, I think I would've walked out, just like everyone else.


Both mediums each have a different reach, and that's understandable, but from what I've heard the panel wasn't handled very well at all. There are people saying the panel was wrongly named and it was actually supposed to be about publishers and how they work with booktubers, but still...BEA. Massive fail, dudes. Obviously I have no idea if the thing about having the wrong name is true or not, and personally I can't imagine such a big event which has been around for so long making a mistake like that, but there we go.

EDITED TO ADD: A member of the panel, author Alexandra Bracken, has tweeted an explanation about what happened. You can see it below. I really don't think it excuses what happened. Basically, they thought it was okay to say booktubers are superior because they didn't think book bloggers were in the audience to hear it. I also now think the misprint was a genuine mistake, but this explanation still doesn't sit well with me, because of what I just said above. What do you think?



Whatever happened, it definitely sparked some thought-provoking discussions. Contribute your thoughts, I'd love to know what everyone else thinks!


Sunday, 25 May 2014

Michael Gove Removes Classic Literature from GCSE Courses


The news that Michael Gove is removing certain pieces of classic literature from GCSE courses has predictably sent shock waves rippling around the world - not just Britain - which goes to show how loved these pieces of literature are by everyone...except Gove, that is. I'm pleased to welcome Zoe MacIver to the blog to share her opinion on the devastating news.

Michael Gove, the man in charge of education in Britain, is removing classic pieces of American literature such as Of Mice And Men, To Kill A Mockingbird and The Crucible from English Literature GCSE courses. And his reason? They're not pieces of British literature. They're not by British writers. Instead, these courses will be replaced by works of Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, a poem by the Romantics and a play by Shakespeare.

Now I'm not saying that Dickens, Austen and Shakespeare are bad and shouldn't be used. I studied a Shakespeare play this year and I believe I will be studying more in the next few years. But how, in any sense, is it correct to replace something of such importance as To Kill A Mockingbird, or the other works set to be removed from GCSE courses, when it deals with such issues as racism, prejudice and courage in the face of diversity. To Kill A Mockingbird teaches you so many valuable life lessons and has affected so many lives. On Twitter after these intentions were announced, people reacted. To Kill A Mockingbird and Of Mice And Men trended, and it was all people could talk about - authors, teachers, readers alike. Everyone became one force trying to protect their courses and the great literature featured within them.

I actually will not do GCSEs. I am Scottish and therefore I take part in a different set of exams known as National Qualifications. I do not believe I will be affected by these changes, although who knows. I am a week away from starting my courses for exams and I believe the first piece of literature I will read and study is To Kill A Mockingbird. I know the year above me studied Of Mice And Men, whilst others studied The Great Gatsby, another example of wonderful American literature that I'm sure will be removed from courses.

"One man shouldn't be able to take away some of the most loved books in print."

Gove has no right to take away books from us people in Britain, but that is what he is doing. Taking away books that he doesn't like and making up some reason, a reason that doesn't make sense? Apparently democracy has flown out of the window with his decision. The books we read have been fine up until now, so why change them? One man shouldn't have this much power. One man shouldn't be able to take away some of the most loved books in print.

Zoe is an almost 15-year-old reader of everything, who wants to be an author, and loves singing and Ross County FC! You can find Zoe on Twitter here.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

What do you love about the book blogging community?

You know when I did that survey asking for everyone's thoughts on the book blogging community and the results were really sad to read? I hate negativity. I love positivity. We all do. So this will be a similar survey but this time it's going to be about what you LOVE about our community. Just like last time there will be a results post at some point and, again, it's completely anonymous.



...and if you really want to share your negative thoughts on the community, you can join the other discussion happening in the comments on a previous blog post. As I said, answers will be shared in a results post just like this one so please bear that in mind when answering. Thank you, and happy blogging. 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Landline
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published by: Orion
Publication date: July 18th 2014
Pages: 354
Genres: Adult/Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.


Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it's been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply - but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they're supposed to visit Neal's family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can't go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

I literally just finished this book exactly three minutes ago, although by the time you see this it will have been a few months ago. I just want to hug you, Landline. I am so, so, so unbelievably grateful to have received an early copy in February. Winter is always so depressing so this really cheered me up!
Something I've noticed after reading Eleanor and Park, Fangirl, and now Landline, is that Rowell's writing is very distinct. Even if her name wasn't in big letters across the front cover, I like to think I would know she had written it. Her voice is different to others. You're pulled in to this world not dissimilar to your own and suddenly you are the main character, you do hate pugs and you are in a wrecked marriage. As strange as that sounds.

Georgie, Georgie, Georgie. My personality-clone. She has already made it onto my list of best protagonists ever. Then there was Alice and Noomi, her children. THE CUTE. IT KILLS ME. And Seth, her best friend. Why did she have to friend zone him? I shipped them so hard. Landline is subtly funny, and already I want to re-read it. However, I'm about to start Attachments by - yep, you guessed it - Rainbow Rowell, so I suppose it will have to wait...

On to the ending. I was thinking this would be a good opportunity for a sequel but then I thought...we meet people. Sometimes we lose them. We don't hear from them again and we never get to find out what happens in the next few chapters of their lives. I take back what I said about the anti-climatic endings of Eleanor and Park and Fangirl because I feel like I finally get it. A good book doesn't need a dramatic close of the curtain. A book shouldn't only be defined by its ending.

Since finishing the book I have been asked four different times whether I preferred it to Fangirl, but how can I compare the two like that? Fangirl is YA, Landline is Adult, and while they're quite similar in writing style, they're as good as each other. Read 'good as each other' as freaking amazing. You know that state you drop into after reading a good book, where you continue to sit there in appreciative silence, letting the book sink in properly? That. That is how I'm feeling right now.

If you hadn't realised already, this book is amazing. While it does have pretty bad side effects (refer to tweet above) you will love it, and you will want to hug it. It even includes pugs, people. PUGS. Overall, you must read this. Landline is everything I expected it to be and more, and while I really don't like how this review has turned out, if there is one thing you take away from it, let it be this: please get your hands on this book. Somehow. You will love it.

Can you believe I just reviewed a Rainbow Rowell book without using GIFs? Neither can I. I need a donut.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

WIN TICKETS TO THE 'CITY OF HEAVENLY FIRE' LAUNCH PARTY


As a book blogger I get invited to a lot of bookish events, most of which I can't attend due to various reasons. This morning I was invited to The Mortal Instruments: City of Heavenly Fire launch party which is in London on May 27th. I am such a huge fan of the series so I was extremely disappointed about not being able to accept the tickets (and I really wanted an early copy of CoHF...) So I'm giving one of you the chance to win a pair of tickets to the event! While there, you would be on a not-so-secret mission: to report from the event by taking photographs and making notes, like I did in my event report from the Divergent movie premiere. Your efforts wouldn't be for nothing! In exchange for me giving you the tickets, you would also get your event report up on The Mile Long Bookshelf where your writing and your photographs would receive a wide and excitable audience.

You can see an example of what would be expected of your event report here.

Tickets have already sold out for this event so if you didn't manage to get any when they were on sale, you don't need to worry because now you have the chance to win a pair - for free!

IMPORTANT DETAILS

- Competition will run on 'The Mile Long Bookshelf' website.
- Competition will run from 01:00am on 17/05/14 to 00:00 on 20/5/14.
- Entrants must be over the age of 13.
- Competition is open to UK residents only.
- Winners will be notified via email. Failure to respond to notification of winning the prize by 2pm on 21/05/14 forfeits the prize and the promoter will have the option to randomly pick another winner from the pool of entrants.
- Winner must write the event report on behalf of 'The Mile Long Bookshelf' within one week of attending the event. The promoter reserves the right to edit spelling and grammar in the event report, but it will all be credited to you. The event report must not be published online anywhere else - just 'The Mile Long Bookshelf.'
- The promoter will pick 1 winner based on whose entry sounds like they will do the best job.
- Prize for 1 winner will be 2x tickets to the City of Heavenly Fire launch party on 27/05/14 and a dedicated spot in 'The Mile Long Bookshelf' post schedule for the winner's event report.
- There is no cash alternative and the prize is non-transferable and non-refundable.
- If winner is under 16 then the guest must be his/her parent or guardian, whom is over 18.
- Travel not included.

WHERE IS IT AND WHEN?

Time and Date: Tuesday 27th May at 1pm – 4pm.
Venue: Somewhere in London. Details regarding the venue will be emailed to the winner.
 What will happen: You will receive an exclusive, early copy of City of Heavenly Fire upon arrival.
Join us at this special Shadowhunter Super Fan event and be one of the first people in the country to get your hands on a copy of City of Heavenly Fire, a day earlier than books will be available in the shops or for online retailers. Your copy will include a comic strip episode exclusive to Walker Books editions, and a full-colour fold out poster with new character art.
At our exclusive Shadowhunter Fan event there will be free rune body art painting, nail-art manicure bar, freebies, giveaways and a secret film screening to be announced!

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!


Thursday, 15 May 2014

Mini Reviews: The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop and Losing It by Cora Carmack

Title: The Isobel Journal
Author: Isobel Harrop
Published by: Hot Key Books
Publication date: 7th November 2013
Pages: 208
Genres: Non-fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought.

The Isobel Journal is no ordinary snapshot of a contemporary teenage life. A charming and vivid narrative scrapbook of the eighteen-year-old author's sketches, mini-graphic novels, photographs and captions, it captures her wit, her observations and her creative talent as she takes us through the three central themes in her life: 'Love', 'Friends, Art and Otters' and 'Me'. 

I am always happy to look at art. Always. Ever since I first discovered this book, I have been desperate to read it, so when a WHSmith gift card fell into my hands, I thought 'Why not?' I bought it.

The Isobel Journal isn't really what I expected, but nevertheless it was a nice way to spend the twenty minutes I had without Internet the other day. It brought out my arty side and I immediately felt inspired, which is always a good thing. Look - I even found my twin!

Screenshot from Book Haul #10 // Drawing from The Isobel Journal
This is a wonderfully quirky, fun and relatable journal that invites everyone who walks past it to have a flick through the pages, and to stare in awe at the gorgeous sketches and doodles inside. Do you really need more proof that this book is awesome? *sigh* Fine, here you go:

"My favourite pastime is probably lying in bed or eating snacks... or both at the same time."

However, I feel like The Isobel Journal wasn't worth the amount it's selling for; a lot of people on Twitter and Goodreads have been complaining about the price, including me. I get why it's so expensive - it's art - but I was disappointed as this was such a short read, and I feel a bit 'cheated'. Don't get me wrong, it's a lively, creative book and whenever I need inspiration for anything, I know I'll just be able to open The Isobel Journal and boom, hello instant inspiration!
Title: Losing It
Author: Cora Carmack
Published by: Ebury
Publication date: 28th March 2013
Pages: 288
Genres: New Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift.


As far as Bliss Edwards can tell, she's the last virgin standing, certainly amongst her friends. And she's determined to deal with the 'problem' as quickly and simply as possible.

But her plan for a no-strings one night stand turns out to be anything but simple. Especially when she arrives for her first class and recognises her hot new British professor.

She'd left him naked in her bed just 8 hours earlier...

It feels like every female book blogger has read this, and it was made out to be one of those 'love it or hate it' books. Me? I'm in the middle. It was good, but a few things irritated me. Firstly, the main love-interest Garrick is meant to be British. The author is American. Uh oh. I'm wondering whether the author actually knows anyone who is British, because Garrick just sounded like a normal American guy who calls people 'love' and who drinks tea every two seconds. At least he didn't go on about Corgis and the Queen. Ah, stereotypes... they made me cringe. Needless to say, his dialogue was written pretty badly and Garrick did not sound authentically British at all.

Secondly, Bliss Edwards was pretty annoying. She didn't really do much except get drunk or be pushed around by other people. Personally, I think the scenes where she was acting in her theatre class were best. The writing was better here - more descriptive, more authentic, and more interesting.

I admit, it was okay - it must have been, I kept reading, didn't I? - but it was disappointing at the same time. I wanted to enjoy it, and it had been on my wish list for a really long time, so it's a shame that I have to give this 2.5/5.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Author's Guide to Writing Review Requests

Authors! When sending out review requests to bloggers, you've told me that you mainly feel nervous and hopeful. You don't want to impose on people, and you don't take book bloggers for granted, either, but at the same time getting reviews of your book is vital.

As a book blogger, I know exactly how you can get our attention, and also how you can make us think 'nope, I'm not reading or reviewing that'.

Here's what we like

~ When you prove that you have read our review policies. If you don't know what a review policy is, it's a page which all book blogs usually have. It includes their preferred genres, what formats they accept, and how to submit a review request as this can vary from blogger to blogger.

~ When you use our names! It's a pet hate of ours when we receive review requests addressed to 'Dear blogger.' Less annoying - but still quite annoying - is when we're addressed by our blog names. If you use our actual names, it shows you've taken the time to read our blogs and gotten to know us.

~ We like it when you offer a book for a giveaway as well as the review copy. I know I'm not alone when I say that I love giving back to my followers, so if it's a good book then I'd love to pass that on. Obviously you don't have to do this - a lot of authors don't - but it's definitely a bonus!

~ When you comment on our blogs. I'm not fussy about this one, but I know a few bloggers like it when requesting authors do this. It shows you've taken an interest and you're not just sending out a bulk email to several thousand others.

Here's what we don't like

~ If we decline your offer of a review copy, please don't be disrespectful in your reply. There are many reasons a blogger might refuse your book - exams, work, not enough time, your book might not be in the blogger's preferred genre...

~ Please don't say something along the lines of 'I know you don't read erotica, but I'm sure you'll make an exception for my new novel...' No. We won't. If you know for a fact that we don't read a certain genre then you have clearly read our review policy, which must say we do not review that genre. You're just wasting other people's time, and your own!

~ Attaching a copy of your book to the review request email is something which irks a lot of bloggers I know. It's presumptuous. If we want your book, we'll ask for it.

~ Don't say we have reviewed for you before when we know we haven't. A lot of bloggers are disorganised but we're not that disorganised - we can look for your name in our inbox and if you're not there, then why have you pretended we're already acquaintances? It reflects badly on you. Sorry!

~ We don't like repeat review requests for the same book, especially when you send so many emails in a short amount of time that it becomes considered spam. If you don't get a reply, the blogger probably doesn't want to review your book. There's a small chance they could just be having email problems, but from my own experiences and from knowing how my blogger friends deal with review requests, it's likely they just don't want to review your book.

~ Please don't ask us to buy your book so we can review it. We're doing you a favour, the least you could do is offer a complimentary copy of your book.
----------
Hopefully this was helpful for authors who aren't sure what's acceptable and what generally isn't with requesting reviews from book bloggers. This blog post was not written with the intention to offend anyone, so I'm sorry if it has!

If you want to help other authors with the do's and don't's, please consider tweeting this blog post using the buttons at the bottom.

If you're a book blogger, do you have anything else to add? If you're an author, how has your experience been with requesting reviews so far? 


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Mini Reviews: Suzy P and the Trouble with Three by Karen Saunders and Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike

Title: Suzy P and the Trouble with Three
Author: Karen Saunders
Published by: Templar Publishing
Publication date: 1st January 2014
Pages: 342
Genres: MG/Contemporary/Friendship/Coming-of-age
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.


Suzy's off camping with her family and best mate Millie. Yep, you heard right... camping!

As if being stuck in a caravan in rainy Wales for two whole weeks weren't bad enough, to make matters worse, Mum's best friend's daughter, super-glam (and super-snooty) Isabella is coming too. When Millie starts spending all her time with Isabella, Suzy is devastated. 

Can her friendship with Millie survive when three is most definitely a crowd?

Feeling miserable? Need a fun, lighthearted read? Then this book will be perfect for you. Just as funny as its predecessor Me, Suzy P, this second installment shows Suzy, Millie, and their families on a camping trip. With a mad dog and a family friend's daughter who insists on getting between Suzy and Millie, nothing can go wrong, can it?

This book is perfectly relatable, and I'm sure everyone has been in the same situations as Suzy at some point. It was great that Suzy refused to change for other people, and I think this will send out a really good message to the younger teens this book is aimed at. I also loved that it revolved around a camping trip because I go camping every summer with my family and we've been doing that since I was 7 or 8 - it's nice to read about something you've done yourself! And then there were Amber's imaginative baby names, which were constant sources of humour throughout the book...

If you need more middle grade books in your life, put this one straight to the top of your list!
Title: Earthbound
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Published by: Razorbill
Publication date: 30th July 2013
Pages: 338
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback/Fantasy/Romance
Source: Review copy from the publisher.


Tavia Michaels is the sole survivor of the plane crash that killed her parents. When she starts to see strange visions of a boy she’s never spoken with in real life, she begins to suspect that there’s much about her past that she isn’t being told.

Tavia immediately searches for answers, desperate to determine why she feels so drawn to a boy she hardly knows. But when Tavia discovers that the aunt and uncle who took her in after her parents' death may have actually been responsible for the plane crash that killed them--and that she may have been the true intended victim--she flees for the safety of Camden, Maine, where the boy she sees in her visions instructs her to go.

Now, Tavia is on the run with no one to trust. No one, that is, except for her best friend and longtime crush, Benson.

Tavia feels torn between the boy who mysteriously comes to her at night and the boy who has been by her side every step of the way. But what Tavia doesn't know is that the world is literally falling apart and that to save it she will have to unite with the boy in her visions. Only problem? To do so would mean rejecting Benson's love. And that's the one thing Tavia Michaels swore she'd never do.

This is a guest review by the awesome Nikki from Fiction Freak! Thank you for filling up the gap I had in my bloggy schedule you fabulous Hogwarts-awaiting unicorn. 

I have absolutely loved all of Aprilynne Pike's other works - the Wings series, which was one of my absolute favourites, and Life After Theft which was an absolutely amazing read. But Earthbound? Earthbound fell...flat. Maybe it's because I had such high expectations, but either way, this book just didn't deliver.

This book was so absolutely cliche for me. There was the amnesia, there were "visions", a love triangle, and a few others that would be spoilers if I told you. The twists were predictable, save most of the world-building, and I was unimpressed by the "on-the-run" plot. There were so many times I missed something that happened too and I was confused too many times for comfort. I hated Tavia throughout the read. So. Much. She was just so impulsive and naive and I can't really handle those kind of characters. Not only that, when it turned out that people were lying to her, she ran away instead of trying to figure out the why in things. Hell knows it would've saved them a lot of trouble. But I have to give points for being so action-packed. Sort of.

The love triangle definitely wasn't my favourite, though that probably has something to do with me hating Benson. I found it cheesy with all the "fighting against destiny" sort of love that was going on and the "instant connection" she had with Quinn. Some love triangles work out. Some...don't. Benson irritated me because he was just so fake. I never trusted him and he always seemed to steer Tavia in the wrong direction. I wanted to punch him in the face. A lot. However, our mysterious Quinn Avery? I liked him even though we actually don't meet him. What can I say? Mysterious YA boys get to me!

I loved what world-building we saw. It's creative and just completely Pike! She takes a common idea and twists it to make it her own. So at least I loved that part? While Earthbound was disappointing, I'm definitely going to read the sequel, because guys. It's Aprilynne Pike! I didn't really like any of the characters and the plot was predictable, but the world-building was amazing, and with the way Earthbound ended? Yeah, I'm going to read it. Hoping it'll be better? Please?

Thursday, 1 May 2014

DISCUSSION: Balancing blogging with school and work


How do you keep organised? How do you juggle your blog with school work and your personal life?

These are both questions that I have been asked a million times, and my default answer always used to be "I don't!" But a few weeks ago I came to realise that I do...but in a strange way that probably only works for me.

If you watched my video on online schooling, you'll know that I attend an online secondary school instead of 'regular' school. School usually finishes at 12pm or 1pm depending on what classes I have, and I also have Friday free to do whatever I want because I don't have any classes that day. You might think I have loads of time to blog, but I don't. I have hardly any time for it at all. We get three big homework assignments a day which are usually due within two or three days, plus revision and editing videos and going out places and having - gasp - an actual social life...

That's why I said the way I juggle running a blog with school and other things probably only works for me. In the summer holidays of 2013, there was a day when I literally had nothing to do, and it was incredibly boring. So, what did I do? I grabbed the laptop and almost killed the keyboard by writing and scheduling twelve blog posts. And then I did it the next day. And the next. It was like I was possessed, but I had 36 posts of reviews, tags, discussions and giveaways scheduled. For once in my then-fourteen years of my existence, I felt organised. I was ahead of myself, and I've kept that up ever since. I am always at least a month ahead of myself with blog posts, because then I have time to do homework, film and edit videos, write columns for work, and anything else I have to do. At the moment I'm scheduled until the beginning of October but I've left a few gaps for urgent reviews.

If I've just finished a book and I'm desperate to review it instantly, well...I'm at an advantage. I go to school on the Internet. There is nothing to stop me from opening a new tab and writing a couple of sentences of a review. Usually I don't have to resort to this, but occasionally I'm just so desperate to get my thoughts down before I forget! Obviously, those who go to regular school won't be able to do this, unless you can act like a ninja and jot some thoughts down on paper while no one is looking. Advantage of online school: no one can see you!

This is going to sound totally not logical, but occasionally I prioritise blogging over homework. Not often, because most of the time I just want to get my homework out of the way so I can do fun things like sleeping. The thing is I don't let myself read another book until I've written my review for the last one, so it's irritating and sometimes stressful if I know there's a review that I need to write which I haven't done. This will bug me and I won't feel like doing homework, so I'll write the whole/most of the review and then do homework. You might think that sounds stupid but it works for me and I've never missed a homework assignment...

Had to fit a meme in here somewhere.
I also like to schedule more posts than usual in half-term so I don't have to blog as much during school time. I'm hoping this strategy will work through exam time, too, as I loathe taking blogging breaks. It's pretty much impossible for me to leave Blogger alone, as I've been blogging for half of my life...it is part of me, as weird as that sounds.

~My top tip for staying on top of things~

I remember late 2012 when someone asked me if I scheduled my posts or just wrote them and published them straight away, and I said no, I didn't schedule posts. They were shocked, and now I understand why; I can't bear to think about running out of scheduled posts and having to write and then publish one on the spot. So, if you're finding it hard to get organised with your blog posts or you're finding it hard to post regularly, the one and only tip I have is create a 'bank' of written posts. Try to find the time to write a few blog posts in one go, if you can - maybe during a hiatus or school holiday - and then line them up to publish at regular intervals which work for you. Leave the rest in drafts, and then when you realise you're out of scheduled posts, you can just go into your drafts and schedule a couple more pre-written posts. It's easier said than done, but it's so worth it, and you'll feel better. Trust me.

You can probably see loads of flaws in how I balance everything, but this way has always worked perfectly for me. I just thought it would be interesting to share how I personally do it. Reading this post back, I'm not really sure how I fit all that in, and it also makes me sound like I don't have a social life. I do, honestly! Sometimes. *cough* *retreats back into reading cave*

How do you balance blogging with school and work? Do you have any tips to share with others?