Saturday, 29 August 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you looking forward to the sequel?

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Baby by Lisa Drakeford

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

1 party. 5 friends. 1 unexpected guest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is perfect for fans of Non Pratt. Overall, I loved this book as I knew I would, and I reckon it's the epitome of good UKYA. Fingers crossed Drakeford has something else in the pipeline because I would love to read more of her work, and I definitely recommend The Baby if you're after something a little different.
Saturday, 22 August 2015


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

GUEST POST: How to Spot Signs of Mental Health Problems in Teens

Today I'm happy to welcome the wonderful Grace Barrett of the Self-Esteem Team to the blog. The Self-Esteem Team, made up of Grace, Natasha Devon and Nadia Mendoza, recently released a book called The Self-Esteem Team's Guide to Sex, Drugs and WTFs?!!! with a foreword by Zoella. It's funny, honest and full of non-sugarcoated advice for young people on topics from mental health and body confidence to drugs and porn - and without being motherly and patronising.

The following guest post is on mental health and how to tell if you or your friend might be having problems. I think this post is incredibly important.

Anyway. I'll pass you over to Grace.

When things go awry in your brain it can be really hard to spot, because you live in there. Day in day out that's your home, changes are normally small at first and you're able to rationalise things in a way that makes sense to you - even if it doesn't make sense to anyone else. Likewise, spotting mental health issues in someone you care about can be tricky, too. Contrary to urban myths having mental health concerns doesn't necessarily mean you have conversations out loud with someone who isn't there or that you're salivating from the mouth, looking vacantly to the horizon.

All the research suggests that being aware of a mental health mishap early on is important. Starting treatment (be that therapy or medication) and monitoring yourself to see if it's progressing or changing is the key to recovery and/or living with it. So, how?

Get to know (yourself and your mates)

Having a handle on the norm; energy levels, sleep pattern, temper, relationships with others etc will help you notice if something's changed, both for yourself and your friends. If you feel you're getting frustrated more quickly than usual or that you're sleeping/eating much more or much less than before for example that might be a sign something isn't quite right. Also if you notice your friends making decisions that seem out of the norm for them for prolonged periods of time, it might be worth questioning their thought process. If things don't add up, tell them, challenge their desire to behave a certain way (if they can't give up that workout for one day, for example, this could be an indicator of an unhealthy relationship with exercise) be aware of these things moving forward.


Some people are really very good at appearing as their normal selves when everything isn't as it should be. It may not be that they're trying to deliberately hide things as such but that they're trying to act normally in order to feel normal, or that they don't want to bring the people around them down etc. The trouble is that all kinds of negative things can happen in the space between the reality you show to the world and the reality you're living - from negative thoughts to harmful behaviours. But if you already have good communication between friends and family it will be easier to let them know something doesn't feel right and also easier to spot it if you're the one on the other side. Sometimes telling someone you don't feel ok is more than enough to spark some sort of change or to dig a little deeper to work out what's going on.

Keep a diary

If you feel like something might not be right, each day write down the cold hard facts around how much sleep you had, what you ate and drank, the people you spent time with, the types of interactions you had and then how you felt during them. This will help you spot patterns in your behaviour and potentially things that might spark behaviour that doesn't feel like you or low moods etc. That gives you something to talk to the doctor or a family member about, it helps you rationalise your feelings and it can provide useful solutions for what to do next.

And remember, we're human beings. We are not supposed to be in a continual state of contentment or happiness. Eb and flow is what makes life wonderful however, if something really doesn't feel right, trust your instinct and try to get to the bottom of it. Once you have, you can develop strategies to make living in your brain easier. Ignoring a mental health issue normally doesn't make it go away, be brave and listen to your gut.

Grace is a musician. As well as producing her own material, she has toured the world as a backing singer for some of the UK's biggest indie bands. As a child, Grace was plagued with severe skin issues. Her eczema was so bad, she had to be wrapped in bandages and she also suffered with acne as a teen. When creams and treatments failed to work, Grace's interest in nutrition and wellbeing was sparked. Leaving home and plunging herself into the looks-driven music industry meant Grace had to conquer some confidence demons. Whilst curbing her skin issues by learning about food intolerances and so called 'alternative' therapies like meditation, she began to truly understand the link between physical and mental health. An advocate for maintaining the body's internal balance she advises teens on simple, affordable ways to look after their bodies and minds. 

Monday, 17 August 2015

5 Movie Adaptations That Are Better Than the Books

I'm sorry, but it's true; sometimes a book gets adapted for the big screen and the movie ends up being way better than the book ever was. It pains me to say it, but it happens. So, here are five movies that are better than their original books. All of these are well worth the watch, but you should still read the books first if you can - everyone's different!


If you've read my review of The DUFF, it'll be no surprise to you that I thought the book was a bit... meh. Luckily, the movie was funnier, wittier and far more enjoyable for me. In fact, I'd say it's on the same level as Mean Girls, and that's one of my favourite films! The plot differed a lot to that of the book, but I saw it as a good thing and I'd happily watch this time and time again.

I actually have the DVD to give away to one of you later in this post! And if you'd rather just buy it, the DVD is out today and also available to download. It's definitely worth the watch.

The Fault in Our Stars

...Yeah. There, I said it, I thought the film was better than the book. I love John Green's work, mostly, but I've always found it difficult to imagine the characters because they're always teenagers who spout profound sayings and quote entire passages from old books. And, really... who does that? The film, to me, made it seem much more realistic and it was also a lot more emotional. Plus, Shailene and Ansel are great actors.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

This is my least favourite Harry Potter book. I wonder if anyone else feels the same? It didn't grab me at all, and I remember being bored a lot of the time. The film, however, was excellent, just like all the others. *lovingly strokes box set*

Alice in Wonderland

I know, I know... such a classic, and yet I've never enjoyed the book, despite having read it more than once over the years. Please don't hate me. The Tim Burton adaptation is magical, though, isn't it?

The Chronicles of Narnia

Well, if you didn't hate me before, you definitely do now. Honestly, I was given the box set of these books years ago and, whilst I loved the first one, I wasn't a massive fan of the others. I might give them another go at some point, but for now I much prefer the films.

Now, about The DUFF... do you want the DVD? Of course you do, and if you're a UK resident then you're in luck because I have one to give away! Good luck. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Is there a movie adaptation you prefer to the book it's based on?

Thursday, 13 August 2015

I Need Your Help

As some of you might already know, I have chronic anxiety. This causes problems in my life in many ways, one of the biggest being that I can't go to a regular school or college. That's why, from halfway through Year 9 up until the end of Year 11, I attended an online school called InterHigh. It was perfect for me, and the fees weren't a problem because my old school paid them for the entire time I was there.

And I'd like to continue at InterHigh. It's my only option if I want to do A Levels. But my old school can no longer fund my place, and neither I nor my parents can afford the fees.

So, I'm asking you for help. I've never asked any of you for anything like this before, and please trust me when I say that I wouldn't be asking for this unless I needed it.

I need to raise £4,500 in four weeks.

This would cover:

  • The InterHigh school fees for the entire two-year course
  • Entrance fees for each of my exams
  • Other school fees (registration, admin) and textbooks

I don't want anxiety or money to stop me from getting an education, I don't want it to stop me from getting a job and I don't want it to stop me from doing whatever else I want to do in life. Simply put, if I don't raise the money, I can't further my education, and if I can't further my education, I'll struggle later in life. And, to be honest, that thought scares me. 

If you would like to pledge some money to my cause, whether it's £1 or £50, you can do so by clicking here. If you pledge, you'll even get rewards in return! These include but aren't limited to:

  • signed books
  • a handwritten thank-you letter
  • a card and present from me on your birthday
  • the chance to become a guest blogger here for 6 months
  • advertising space for authors and publishers

...and much more. To put this into perspective, if each of my Twitter followers donated just £1, I'd be way over my target. And if you can't donate, please don't worry! There are still things you could do:

  • Share the link on your social media
  • Share the link with your family, friends or anyone you think would be able to help
  • Tweet the link to a celebrity. No harm in trying, right? *cough* Taylor Swift *cough*
  • If you have anything you'd like to offer as a reward, please get in touch as I can add rewards at any time.

Anything you can do would help immensely, and I would be so tremendously grateful.

So, there we go. That's what's going on right now, and I'd really appreciate your support.

Thank you.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Air by Lisa Glass

Title: Air
Author: Lisa Glass
Published by: Quercus Books
Publication date: 4th June 2015
Pages: 340
Genres: YA Contemporary/Romance/Sport
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

What if a summer romance doesn't end in September?

Last year, one amazing summer was enough to turn Iris's world upside down. She met the boy of her dreams, the super-talented Zeke, and they set off on a pro-surfing adventure around the globe.

Now, one week in Miami could be enough to tear her life apart.

When Iris and Zeke take a break from competitions to relax on South Beach, Iris feels more than just the draw of the surf pulling Zeke away from her. Could following her heart be the biggest mistake she's ever made?

Summer is always fun, but it's even better when you have a new Lisa Glass novel by your side.

This time Iris and Zeke are in America surfing, promoting, and surfing some more. Gone are the bendy roads of Cornwall and the epic waves of Newquay; Iris's whirlwind adventure of an international pro-surfing career has just begun, and everything is changing... not always for the better.

Air has less surfing and more drama and, whilst I love the surfing aspect of the story, it was interesting to see what Iris and Zeke got up to out of the water. It was clear that their personalities had changed and developed massively since the first book, and it felt like I was catching up with old friends. It was nice being able to get to know them a little bit more.

There were parts that didn't quite succeed in holding my attention but, whilst I think I preferred Blue, I still loved many parts of this book. Iris was mature and responsible when it came to things like birth control, which is something I think should be more prevalent in YA fiction. You know I like it when authors mention 'taboo' subjects in their books. Iris didn't let herself be swayed by Zeke even though he was complaining about it which I thought was great.

And, if you didn't already know, Blue is currently in the process of being made into a film. How exciting is that? You have no idea how happy I am about this, and I can't wait to see it. I think it'll be a lot of fun and, hopefully, will lead to more people being introduced to the trilogy. Overall, I really enjoyed immersing myself in the surfing world again and I cannot wait for Ride which is released next year. These books aren't to be missed!
Sunday, 9 August 2015

5 Blogging Tips You Need to Know

Lately, I've seen lots of book bloggers scared or apprehensive to post things that aren't bookish. They want to... they just don't feel they can.

"It's a book blog! I'm only allowed to publish bookish content!"

"My readers are only interested in books!"

"I want to talk about make-up and photography, so I guess I'll have to start a new blog..."

No. I mean, obviously, do that if you truly want to. But you don't have to. You are allowed to do whatever you want on your blog because it's yours. You can start a new blog if you want, but you can also write about things other than books on the blog you already have and, yes, even if your blog has the word 'book' in the title.

There is no 'higher being' saying we must only post bookish content.

You know why people like your blog? Why they go back to you, time and time again? If you weren't you, your book blog would be bland and boring. There would be no human connection. It's your voice, your lifestyle, your personal experiences, your personality and your interests that bring people back. It's you that makes your blog different. People like your blog because they like YOU.

Things to remember:

  • Write what you like. If you enjoy writing it, your readers will enjoy reading it. It doesn't matter if the post is about photography when your blog is about books. People will read it anyway. The fact that your blog is bookish doesn't have to limit you.

  • We, as humans, are naturally nosy - you can't deny it. A behind-the-scenes insight into a blogger's life is always interesting, and people reading blogs want a human connection. They want to feel like they're chatting with a friend. So, if you're unsure whether to post something because it's not in your usual niche... just go for it. Because someone out there is going to relate and find it interesting. People aren't just interested in books.

  • Following the crowd isn't always the best way to go. You don't have to do a certain meme just because everyone else is. If your heart isn't truly in it, don't force yourself. Your readers will be able to tell you're not writing for the love of it.

  • In the book blogging community, there is sometimes pressure to be super professional in your reviews. Truth is, you don't have to be. It was only 2 or 3 years ago that I stopped forcing myself to sound sleek and professional. If it happens, it happens, but if you want to have fun with a review, go for it. You're allowed.

  • In the end, you do you. Stay true to yourself and, not only will you undoubtedly have way more fun with your blog, but your own style will develop and everything else will fall into place, too. 

What are your top tips for blogging?

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Opal Plumstead by Jacqueline Wilson

Title: Opal Plumstead
Author: Jacqueline Wilson
Published by: Random House
Publication date: 4th June 2015
Pages: 520
Genres: Middle grade/Historical/Family/War
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Opal Plumstead might be plain, but she has always been fiercely intelligent. Yet her scholarship and dreams of university are snatched away when her father is sent to prison, and fourteen-year-old Opal must start work at the Fairy Glen sweet factory to support her family.

Opal struggles to get along with the other workers, who think her snobby and stuck-up. But Opal idolises Mrs. Roberts, the factory's beautiful, dignified owner, who introduces Opal to the legendary Mrs. Pankhurst and her fellow Suffragettes. And when Opal meets Morgan - Mrs. Roberts' handsome son, and the heir to Fairy Glen - she believes she has found her soulmate. But the First World War is about to begin, and will change Opal's life forever.

I used to love Jacqueline Wilson's books when I was younger, but I haven't read one for many years. I thought I was too old, that they wouldn't interest me in the slightest anymore, but I was wrong. Opal Plumstead, at least, can be read and enjoyed by anyone of any age, and I was surprised to see that this book dealt with some really, really dark themes. Now I'm wondering if Wilson's other books do, too. Maybe this stuff used to fly right over my head because I was so young. It's strange, going back to a favourite childhood author.

Opal Plumstead doesn't fit in. Her teachers hate her, the girls at school ignore her, and she only has one friend. To make matters worse, Opal's sister is the favourite daughter. But life is okay. There's food on the table, books on the shelves, and Opal has big plans to go to Oxford. Then her father is arrested, Britain goes to war and Opal is taken out of school and shoved into a factory. Nothing is the same again.

To be honest, I didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. There were parts that really dragged and I felt that this book was unnecessarily long, but there were many aspects that I loved, Opal's intelligence being one of them. There were times when she used words that even I don't completely understand. This was great to see because, a lot of the time, children's books are incredibly simple with boring sentence structures and words that would better suit a three-year-old. It was refreshing and, this probably sounds patronising, but I'm all for books that inject challenging vocabulary into childrens' lives.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see feminist themes taking up a large portion of this book. Yes, I see it's on the cover now - I'm not the most observant person at times! I think it's wonderful that such a thing is being promoted in a children's book by one of the world's most popular authors.

Less serious, but it has to be said: Opal ended up working in a sweet factory and, no matter how old you are, that's always going to be fun and fascinating to read about. I want to go inside one. *adds to bucket list*

Overall, Opal Plumstead is well worth the read, especially if you're looking to re-visit a childhood favourite. Just make sure you have tissues ready...
I've also been given an Opal Plumstead goodie bag to give away to one lucky winner! Click the arrows on the widget below to see what's inside. This is open to residents of the UK and ROI only. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if you're bored and want a video to watch, I've also uploaded a video review of this book. If that's more your kind of thing, why not have a look? Enjoy!

Monday, 3 August 2015

Everything You Need to Know About Publishers and Review Books

I am asked how to deal with publishers and how to get review books all the time. In fact, it's not uncommon for me to receive messages from random people asking for all of my contacts. Whilst that's wrong on many levels, I get where these people are coming from, I really do. A few years ago, I had no idea how any of these things worked either, and lots of mistakes were made.

I'm far from being an expert, but I like to think I've learned a lot from those mistakes, and so when it was requested again that I write a post on how to deal with publishers and how to get into reviewing books, I thought I'd give it a go. Please take this post as a guide, not as a rule book! I'm not telling you what to do, just sharing how I do things.

Firstly, let's look at the generally accepted do's and don't's when it comes to publicists and review books. 

What I'm about to tell you will help you to be successful in getting books to review, but you don't need to follow these tips. The fun thing about having a blog is that you can do what you like with it. This is just a guide made up of comments I've seen around the blogosphere and my own mistakes and experiences.

  • DON'T email publishers asking for a book that was published ages ago. You can try and they might send it to you, but chances are you'll be ignored and you'll just make yourself look cheeky, like a Nando's. Heh. What I'm trying to say is that, if you want a book that has already been published but hasn't already been offered to you for review, you should probably just buy it. It's easier, quicker, less cringe-worthy, the industry gets money and you get your book. Or you could go to the library! Edit: Apparently publishers in the US love sending backlist titles! Unfortunately, that's generally not the same here in the UK.
  • DO be polite. When talking to a publicist, whether you're asking for a book or whether they've just offered you something, remember that you represent your blog and your readers. Also, publicists are lovely, generous people and deserve to be treated with respect. And if they're not lovely, because there are a couple who like to take advantage of bloggers, you should still be polite and professional. I think that goes without saying, to be honest.
  • DON'T ask other bloggers for their contacts. Once, a blogger who had only started their blog the day before sent me a message asking if I could give them the email addresses of all the publicists I speak to. This is wrong on many levels.
  • DON'T ask authors for review copies. I used to do this occasionally and I am physically cringing just remembering it. Something I didn't realise in my first year or two of blogging was that authors get a very limited number of their own books. If they want extras, they have to buy them - just like us! Asking an author for a review copy of their book is basically saying look, I want your book, but I don't want to pay for it. Ouch. (Of course, this is different if they themselves are offering you one.)
  • DON'T do the whole emotional blackmail/passive aggressive thing. If you see lots of bloggers getting a review book that you would also love to review but you haven't received, just tweet/email the publicist and ask, or buy it when it's published. Don't tweet them lots of sad faces or say that your day has been ruined and you think you might quit blogging because you don't have the book. Just ask. Are there are spare copies available? I'd love one to review! No worries if not though. I know it's embarrassing. I've been blogging for nearly a decade (#old) and I still feel shy and awkward about it, hence I don't do it often.

And please don't start a blog just so you can get free books. Sure, it's cool, exciting and the novelty for me still hasn't worn off, but if getting free books is the sole reason for you starting a blog then you might want to rethink your life choices. Blog because you love it. Read because you love it. It's obvious when someone is just in it for the freebies and it gives all of us a bad name, so please think carefully about approaching publicists for review books. Another tip - don't contact loads at once. You'll be quickly overwhelmed, trust me!

So, now we've covered that, how do you actually get on mailing lists in the first place?

Back in the day, I would scour publisher websites for hours, tracking down generic marketing email addresses. I would then send a quick email in the hopes that I had the right address, explaining who I was, asking if they had a blogger mailing list and, if so, please could I be added. I also asked that, if I had emailed the wrong person, I would greatly appreciate it if they could pass on my email to the correct department.

I don't do that anymore because, firstly, I don't need to and, secondly, effort.

These days, you can send 'em a tweet or wait for them to advertise that they're looking to add bloggers to their mailing lists, although not all publishers do the latter. They will probably then ask you to email some details. Here's the very, very important bit: do not spam them.

"But, Amber, what do I actually have to include in the email?" I hear you ask. 

Now, what I include might not be the norm - who knows? - but it's never failed me. Ever. So here we go.

  • Full name and address
Saves them having to ask, and saves you having to provide it every time you request a book. Simples.

  • Stats
For this I include my average monthly page-views, my follower count across my blog and all relevant social media, and sometimes my DA (Domain Authority) depending on whether I'm talking to a publisher or a PR company. If you have a YouTube channel, you can also include stats for that.

  • Book preferences
Do you like YA fiction? Adult? Non-fiction books about cooking, or wild dystopians? Let them know! Then they have a general idea of what you might be interested in hearing about.

And now for a little bit of myth-busting.

  • Someone tweeted me the other day asking how I get review books, because she thought they were only available for people in the US until she watched my videos. If there are publishing houses based in your country, there's no harm in seeing if they'll let you onto their mailing lists, and review books certainly aren't just available in the US. I know bloggers in Ireland, South Africa and Australia to name a few, and there's a huge blogging community in the Philippines - they all have review books available to them!
  • You don't need a certain amount of followers or views to get review books or to be noticed by publicists. There are other things, like blog tours and giveaways, which you might need certain numbers for, but generally for review books publishers approach people based on quality, not quantity. Although, obviously, good stats are helpful.

This is a massive topic so hopefully I've covered the key points, but if you have any questions feel free to comment or tweet me @MileLongBookS. If you're looking for more blogging tips and tricks, click here!

Good luck!

Just a quick note to say that I have a new Instagram account @themilelongbookshelf. I'd love it if you could give it a follow! For non-bookish, life-y photos, you can follow me @they_call_me_amber. And my July book haul went up on my YouTube channel a few days ago, so you can watch that here. Awesome. I'm off to paint my bedroom. Thanks for reading!