Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Mini Reviews: Blackout by Emily Barr and The Escape by Lynda La Plante

Title: Blackout
Author: Emily Barr
Published by: Headline
Publication date: 6th February 2014
Pages: 97
Genres: Adult/Psychological Thriller/Mystery/Suspense
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from Quick Reads.

You wake up in a strange room, with no idea how you got there.

You are abroad, in a city you have never visited before.

You have no money, no passport, no phone.

And there is no sign of your baby.

What do you do?

Being a short story, I didn't expect to like this as much as I did. Blackout is bone-chilling, dark, and horrifyingly realistic. Written from the point of view of a woman who after giving birth suffers from mental illness, I found it fascinating to read, and some parts were just shocking. I'm glad to have finally found a book about a character with mental illness, though, as there don't seem to be many around. It seems like quite a 'taboo' subject, even though it shouldn't be.

Even though Blackout is only 97 pages long, it had a lot of substance. It's a story that keeps you guessing, and I was thoroughly creeped a good way. I haven't read many psychological thrillers before - although I would like to - but this is definitely a brilliant one! Haven't read it? You should! Don't have enough time? It's only 97 pages long, you have no excuse. ;)

The writing style is very simple and usually this irritates me, but for this book it worked well with the protagonist and the condition she was in. I loved this book, and I'll definitely be looking around for more of Barr's work.
Title: The Escape
Author: Lynda La Plante
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Publication date: 6th February 2014
Pages: 100
Genres: Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from Quick Reads.

Is a change of identity all it takes to leave prison?

Colin Burrows is desperate. Recently sent to prison for burglary, he knows that his four year sentence means that he will miss the birth of his first child. With his wife's due date fast approaching, he had hoped that the prison authorities would allow him to be present for the birth, but they have said no.

Sharing a cell with Colin is Barry Marsden. Unlike most of the inmates, Barry actually likes prison life because he has come from a very difficult family and been in and out of a series of foster homes. In prison, he has three meals a day and he has discovered a talent for drawing. So he is upset that he will have to leave on parole soon.

Sad to see his cellmate looking depressed, Barry hatches a plan to get Colin out of jail for the birth. It's a plan so crazy that either it will fail and get both men in deeper trouble, or it might just work. 

The Escape is incredibly detailed considering it's only 100 pages long, and I literally could not put it down. The friendship between Colin and Barry was so sweet and I found myself feeling sympathetic towards them which might seem strange seeing as they're prisoners, but they hadn't done anything insanely bad. It broke my heart to think that the prison wouldn't let Colin be there for the birth of his son, and this book was genuinely a roller-coaster of emotions.

Do I recommend it? Yes. My only issue - the reason I rated this book 4.5 instead of 5 - was that it didn't have any big twists or a climax. I'm all for simplicity, but sometimes a book needs something like that. Still, it's a great book!
Sunday, 23 February 2014

Book Blogging Goals + Resolutions for 2014

I've never made a list of goals or resolutions for my blog, but according to my Business Studies teacher (I knew that class would come in handy for something...) having goals to work towards makes you more focused and motivated. I know it's practically March, but I didn't have any space to post this in January or earlier in February.'s my list. Let's hope these happen, but I won't be too fussed if they don't!

Book Blogging Goals
  • Reach 500 GFC or Bloglovin' followers.
2013 was great because I moved from 100 GFC followers to nearly 400, and from 0 Bloglovin' followers to over 300. In 2014 I would love to reach 500 on both! There's no reason for this, I just like stats... #weird. Oh great, I've started using hashtags on Blogger. There's a clear sign I need a Twitter break if ever I saw one...
  • Reach 500 YouTube subscribers. (If you're interested in making that happen, you can subscribe here...xD)
Since starting to 'booktube' in July, I reached nearly 300 subscribers. Again, 500 would be a really nice number to reach before the end of 2014. I don't want it to happen too quickly though, I think that would be too overwhelming... is that weird?... Don't answer that.
  • Get to 200,000 page views.
I have just over 100,000 at the moment and it'd be nice to double that! 
  • Reach 200 newsletter subscribers.
If you didn't know, I send out a monthly newsletter with exclusive tips, giveaways and, of course, blogging news. Link is in the sidebar. ;)
  • Read at least 100 80 books.
Since coming up with that goal, I have actually changed it to 80, as I feel like trying to read 100 books is a bit ridiculous considering this is probably going to be the busiest year of my life. *cue sad violins playing in the background*

Book Blogging Resolutions

  • Take more time over editing my videos.
  • Improve my reviews.
  • Write more personal posts.
  • Say 'no' more often to blog tour requests, except those I am genuinely excited about.
  • Stop accepting review books unless I desperately want them and know I'll read them. This is going really well so far!
  • Keep track of the ARCs I receive, with their review deadlines etc. I am using Octavia's 2014 planner for this. It's amazing, and it doesn't cost a lot!
What are your blogging goals and resolutions for 2014? If you don't have any, it's not too late to make them...

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Interview with Jack from The Book Stop!

Today please give a warm welcome to one of my favourite bloggers Jack from The Book Stop! He has been blogging for less than a year but The Book Stop already has a dedicated following and his reviews are the best out there. Read on to find out his aim in life (spoiler: it includes macarons) and his absolute favourite YA book, amongst other things...
Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

Hi Jack! Welcome to The Mile Long Bookshelf that is possibly a few miles longer than the title suggests. *passes you Doritos* Only the best snacks here! To start off, tell us a bit about you and your blog The Book Stop.

If the best snacks were here, there would be macarons. I'm underwhelmed. ;P

I ate them already.

Anyway, let's get started *grabs pack of Doritos* So, I like Doritos and macarons. My goal in life is to eat a popcorn macaron. I live in Ireland, I recently joined and am addicted to Pinterest, and I desperately wish I knew what I wanted to do when I'm older. Oh, and I like to read sometimes too. My blog, The Book Stop, is almost one year old. It's basically a place filled with my thoughts on books, reviews and the like if you're into that sorta stuff. :P

How did you decide to start book blogging and how did you find out about book blogging in general?

Early 2013, I joined Goodreads as a way of motivating myself to read more. Seeing other people's reviews on GR inspired me and I started writing my own short reviews of books I'd read. In April, I then decided to take it a step further and start a book blog. I had no idea how big and welcoming the community was. I used to look at blogs like The Mile Long Bookshelf and never would of thought of speaking to, let alone becoming friends with the people who run such professional, popular blogs. I've just fallen in love with the blogging community. It truly is a fantastic thing.

*takes Doritos from you* That’s enough now, they’re mine. What is your favourite book?

^_- Don't even try, Amber. *takes packet of Doritos from pocket* I always carry a spare. ;)

Wow, my favourite book? That's a tough one. Recently I read How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff and have said it's my all time favourite YA. Yes, that's right Amber. MEG ROSOFF. :P

We can no longer be friends. 

As for my favourite adult novel, I simply couldn't choose. I feel like I have a lot more to explore before I can officially crown one my 'favourite'.

What are you reading at the moment?

Currently halfway through This Is The Life by Alex Shearer. Although, Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis is resting right in front of me, just waiting to be savagely read!

I'm surprised you didn't start reading that book as soon as it arrived!  What do you think you’ll be doing in ten years time?

Probably hiking through the Himalayas, or sky diving, or asking my butler to bring me gourmet Pringles while I count my millions. But you know, just a guess.

Sounds pretty casual. Sure you don't want to aim for something higher? ;P Can you give us a tip for new book bloggers who might be reading this?

Write what you want. Don't try and fit into blogging trends, or try to copy other blogs. Make your blog stand out, but keep it real and try to communicate to your readers in a relatable way. Show off your personality. And maintain honesty in your words.

So true. Bloggers, take note of those words of wisdom. What do you like doing other than blogging?

For fun, I like to hang glide on a Dorito.


But seriously, I got a camera for Christmas and I can't stop taking pictures. You will find the most random photos on my camera roll! I also really like eating, drawing, throwing stones across the road... ._.

I also love admiring my emoji stickers.

And stalking people on Pinterest. Watch out.

And I'm a twitter-addict too, obviously.

...Same. Again. Except throwing stones across the road. That's, erm, quite a unique hobby. What are the first two things you would do if you took over the world?

Turn everyone I don't like into a food of my choice so I could eat them. And enforce a new law that states all countries must have the moon emoji on their flag. I'm sure you'd agree.

Of course I agree. Everyone, vote Jack to take over the world. Do unicorns exist?

You tell me, Amber. You tell me.

Plot twist: You're talking to one right now. If you had to listen to either Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber or Lorde for the rest of your life who would you pick?

Lorde, obviously! Why'd you even include the other two, Amber? You must be obsessed with them.

Because you totally didn't add Lorde into the question yourself. What do you want your blog to achieve before the end of 2014?

I want it to be the most famous blog on the planet. Just kidding, just kidding. I'd like to get into a comfortable routine of posting with my blog, find ways to make it more unique, and develop my reviews and writing in general.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Amber! I loved answering these questions. See ya! *runs away with all the Doritos*

Thanks Jack! ...But give back the Doritos.

Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

Sunday, 16 February 2014

DISCUSSION: Pros and Cons of Affiliate Links

For those of you unfamiliar with the term 'affiliate link', it is a link which includes an ID unique to you. The link will usually lead to a product - for example, my affiliate links go to Waterstones and The Book Depository - and if anyone buys something through your link, you get a small minuscule percentage of the profit.


  • If someone does happen to bother clicking your link, it makes your affiliate stats look good. Yay!
  • ...and if they bother to buy something through your link, you get a few pence. Not pounds. Pence. (Unless they buy a lot. In which case, cha-ching, although it's still a tiny amount in comparison to what they've spent. For example, someone spent £99 on Amazon through me the other day and I got a fiver. Not bad, but not great, either...)


  • With most affiliate programs, you will have to pay some money to actually join in the first place. For example, I had to pay Waterstones £5 before I could join their program. 
  • You won't get that money back until you have made a high amount of money through your link. As I said before, you get a couple of pence for each purchase, and most people don't bother to buy things on affiliate links. Unless you're like Zoella, it'll take you a looooong time to build up enough money in your account to actually withdraw some.
  • People might get the wrong idea about your blog/website suddenly having affiliate links and adverts. I introduced affiliate links on to my blog before I got a job when I had absolutely no income. Each year I have to buy a ton of school books and this usually comes to over £100, so that's why I started with affiliate links.
  • Affiliate links aren't likely to make you a lot of money. 


My mother's blog is in the art niche, and she actually makes quite a nice amount of money through her affiliate links each month. Then again, she's affiliated with lots of different programs. I'm thinking the reason book blogs don't make much money from being affiliates is because book blogs aren't a typical niche to be in, and, let's face it: they're not as popular. I bet people in well-known niches make much more money through affiliate links! 


Affiliate links won't bring in loads of cash, and definitely not in book blogging. Personally I am going to keep the links because even though I don't make much money through them, they do get a lot of clicks so they must be pretty useful to some people, and there's no chance of earning any money through affiliate links if you don't actually have any, right?

How successful are affiliate links for you? If you don't use them, would you want to?

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Title: Far From You
Author: Tess Sharpe
Published by: Indigo
Publication date: 27th March 2014
Pages: 341
Genres: Young Adult/Mystery/Contemporary/LGBT
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Four months ago her best friend Mina died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong - a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered. Forced into rehab for a drug addiction she'd already beaten, Sophie's finally out and on the trail of the killer. But can she track them down before they come for her?

Far From You is the perfect YA novel. It has everything you could possibly want: Action, mystery, twists and turns that you don't see coming, a brilliant plot and a diverse range of characters... I'm struggling to write this review, because how am I supposed to put the perfection into words? When I finished reading the book, I tried to form proper sentences and didn't really work, as you can see:

This is definitely one of the best books I have read in a long time, and I was very surprised when I turned to the back cover and discovered Far From You is the author's debut, as it reads as if she has published hundreds of successful novels before! I was completely in awe of the author's ability to write about difficult topics such as murder and drug addiction with such realism and sensitivity - it wasn't over the top, and I felt like I was part of the friendship group, getting caught up in all of the drama.

Far From You whizzes backwards and forwards between three different time periods, and I thought I would have issues with this, but I didn't because it's so expertly written. I loved knowing what had happened in the past, and this added to the feeling that I was there. Far From You is a very easy book to get immersed in, and it is beautiful yet gritty and emotional at the same time.

The protagonist Sophie goes through so much - she nearly dies twice which leads to a serious and permanent injury, she deals with drug addiction, she tries to cope with her best friend's murder, and *spoiler* the confusion surrounding her sexuality, which no one knows about except her and her dead best friend. *end of spoiler* To spend months being treated for drug addiction, and to then track down the murderer of her best friend? That takes serious bravery.

Of course, at some point during the story Mina's murderer is found. This isn't a spoiler because you know it's going to happen as the tension starts to build. When it was finally announced, all I could think was: Oh my god. I did not see that coming. I LOVE books that keep you guessing, because there are so many possibilities and you just have to keep reading! Would it be weird for me to hug this book?

This definitely isn't the best review I've ever written, but have you ever tried to write about something that is too perfect for words? You may have seen me endlessly recommending this book on Twitter...well, now you know why! I adore this book and I hope you will give it a go. My favourite book of the year so far! Far From You is bittersweet, unsettling, and truly enthralling. It's better than cake - definitely a must-read! 5/5.
Monday, 10 February 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published by: Macmillan
Publication date: 30th January 2014
Pages: 459
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life. Without Wren, Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She's got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone. Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realising that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible...

Fangirl. What can I say about Fangirl? To be honest, I'm in a bit of a book hangover. While I attempt to write my thoughts, please look at these lovely GIFs that pretty much sum up how I feel right now...

...and you know I don't usually use GIFs in my reviews, so Fangirl must have been pretty special. A book named after me? I was bound to love it. I have always adored the pure realism in Rainbow Rowell's books - she doesn't write anything extravagant or mind-blowing. She writes about life. She doesn't show the world in a glorified halo, instead she tells it like it is. And that, mes amis, is the sign of an awesome book.

You know those books where all of the characters are the same? Characters with no flaws, and all with the same voice? Finally, I have found a book that is as far from that as you can get. Each person in Fangirl had a million flaws, and I loved it. Cath, with her shy, quiet, fan-fiction filled lifestyle, Reagan with her, erm, strong language, and Levi with his 'I don't read' attitude. Yeah, that's his biggest flaw, but I'll let it slide.

Rainbow Rowell has perfectly captured what it's like to be a fangirl (although she left out the downsides, like the extortionate prices of fandom merch...*cries*) and I know that fangirls worldwide will relate to this book. There wasn't a page that went by without me laughing or sending my favourite quotes to Hawwa...

Only one thing disappointed me, and that was the ending. Fangirl is over 400 pages long, and there was all this build-up and tension towards the end, and then...nothing. It just ended. That was it. Nothing exciting, nothing dramatic. Some might appreciate the simple ending, but I was just left feeling disappointed by it. Thankfully, the rest of the book made up for it, but still!

Now I understand why everyone has been raving about this book. It's like a happier version of Eleanor and Park, and I was fangirling with a fangirl over Fangirl, it is SO good! Realistic, fun, and relatable, this is a book you won't be able to put down.
Saturday, 8 February 2014

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Published by: Harper Collins
Publication date: 2nd February 2012
Pages: 489
Genres: Young Adult/Dystopian/Romance/Thriller
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Three flying for each member of the family I left behind.

Sixteen-year-old Tris is forced to make a terrible choice. In a divided society where everyone must conform, Tris does not fit.

So she ventures out alone, determined to discover where she truly belongs. Shocked by her brutal new life, Tris can trust no one. And yet she is drawn to a boy who seems to both threaten and protect her.

The hardest choice lies ahead.

Divergent has been niggling away at the back of my mind for months. Practically everyone has read it, and when others found out that I hadn't read it, they recoiled in shock, disgust and horror...okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating slightly, but that's what it felt like. I had previously owned a copy but I lent it to someone and I have no idea what happened to it. Then Harper Collins emailed me offering the trilogy for review, and I thought "Why not?" I accepted. The trilogy sat on my bookcase for a couple of months, getting pushed further down the TBR every day. Maybe I was scared to read it because it's so hyped, or maybe because it's quite long and I don't have much time for long books...or maybe they were just excuses. I needed a kick up the butt, so I decided to do a 'buddy read' with Charli where she read City of Bones for the first time, and I read Divergent for the first time. Here is what I thought.

Divergent is a book that instantly pulls you in with it's unique world-building and mysterious atmosphere. It was interesting to read about such a divided world and the consequences that eventually came from the societal divide. This is a book full of tension, mystery, and difficult choices; it is also a story of friendship, family and the natural strength that comes from those when you're in a tricky situation. I was hooked from the start.

Having heard people talking about the plot and the characters since it was published, I found Divergent quite predictable. I'd also read the main Allegiant spoiler a while ago, so it felt strange to already know the fate of some characters who were so new to me. That's not to say Divergent wasn't enjoyable, because it was. Tris was such a brilliant character and her flaws made her even more likeable - reading about female characters who are perfect gets boring after a while, and because of that I found Tris refreshing and intriguing to read about. Four was the same, although it took an annoyingly long time for them to get together. I shipped them from the start and it's clear Veronica Roth just loves to torture us...

Some of the descriptions in Divergent were simply gruesome, and I found myself cringing a lot, especially at the eye socket/butter knife bit. *shudder* At times I felt the plot slowed down quite a bit which was disappointing as I just wanted the book to keep picking up a train. Did I just almost make a reference to Dauntless?...

Overall, this is a pretty good book. Suspenseful, thoughtful and completely thrilling - I couldn't put it down!
Saturday, 1 February 2014

Red by Alison Cherry

Title: Red
Author: Alison Cherry
Published by: Quercus
Publication date: 2nd January 2014
Pages: 309
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Top student.

Beauty queen.

Girlfriend of the hottest football jock.

Felicity's got everything.

And it's all down to her red, red hair.

Felicity lives in Scarletville, the world's only redhead sanctuary, where red hair is celebrated, protected - and the key to success. But Felicity has a secret. A red hot secret. And if anyone finds out, she's finished. Because Felicity's a natural blonde. And in Scarletville, blondes need not apply.

'Red' is set in Scarletville, Iowa; a town where redheads are the superior race, and blondes and brunettes are thought less of. Redheads are popular, more successful, prettier and well respected, whilst people with other hair colours are invisible to society. Felicity is one of the most popular girls in school, and she has everything to lose. So when someone finds out she's not naturally a redhead and threatens to tell everybody, Felicity does whatever it takes to keep her secret exactly what it should be. A secret.

I expected to enjoy this book. It looked intriguing. Exciting. Different. Sure, the summary sounded a little unrealistic but I thought 'Maybe the writer can make it believable.' She didn't. It wasn't. My hopes of the plot maintaining any realism were crushed when it said Felicity was on her way to 'History of Redheadedness.' Really? I'm sorry but that just made me cringe. I appreciate it was probably an attempt at humour and, don't get me wrong, I'm all for humourous books, but this just failed miserably.

The book was very cliche, and it was all a bit too Disney for my liking; the ending genuinely reminded me of High School Musical. The concept, I'll admit, was an interesting one and I liked that the author was exploring racism in more depth and putting a twist on it. I kept reading because I wanted to see if Felicity would be exposed, and I was desperately clinging onto my hope of Felicity finally standing up for herself and what she believed in.

That brings me to another point. I liked Felicity a lot, but some things about her just really annoyed me. She wouldn't stand up for herself against her mother, and instead of telling anyone responsible about being blackmailed by Gabby, she just did what she was told. I just wanted to shake her, to be honest. There was such a clear route in which everything could go right, and it got a bit frustrating to watch, after a while.

Contrary to what I've said, I did enjoy this book, just not as much as I'd hoped. There is a character called Jonathan who became the main love interest, and he made the book so much better! I wish there had been more scenes with him and Felicity as he was the only character I genuinely liked. It was interesting to see how the redheads acted towards people who didn't have red hair, and I felt sorry for all of them. It made me sad to think that hair colour could be so important to people, and it was definitely thought-provoking.

So, 'Red' was an interesting read and not your mainstream YA contemporary. I liked it, but I wouldn't really recommend it. It just felt like it was lacking something, and the writing style was very simple. The concept had a lot of potential, but I don't think it lived up to what it could have been, unfortunately.