Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Looking Back on 2015 | PART ONE

Well, that year flew by, didn't it? Before we look back on 2015, I just want to mention some things that happened right at the very end of 2014 after I had posted my wrap-up: On Christmas Day I got a new job, a few days later I was listed as one of The Guardian's Top 10 Best Book Blogs, and I won Best Vlogger in some blogger awards that I've actually forgotten the name of...sorry! An awesome end to an awesome year, though.

Now for 2015!

January: Alastair Stewart from ITV News retweeted my article out of the blue, which was really strange as I've been watching him deliver the news on TV for my entire life. I took a screenshot because why not.

I was later quoted in the paperback edition of The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss which I wasn't expecting. They used a different quote from the one in the hardback edition - I prefer this one!

Next, I was lucky enough to get an early review copy of Love, Tanya by Tanya Burr as well as exclusivity to the prologue and a photograph from the book's photo shoot. This resulted in Tanya sharing a couple of my posts on Twitter and Facebook, which led to me getting 15,000 views in a day. That's never happened before and it was crazy to watch the numbers going up, up, up... I always say bloggers shouldn't obsess over their stats, but when something like that happens it's impossible not to. It really was mind-blowing.

I also found a random forest in my town that, somehow, I'd never noticed before. I've lived here for my entire life. Observant.

Towards the end of the month, I started my first ever blog feature called Monthly Favourites - imaginative name, I'm sure you'll agree - where I shared my favourites of the month with you, whether they were books, beauty products, gadgets or even food. I couldn't not include food. I've since stopped doing this feature monthly (which kind of defeats the purpose...) but I might come back to it at some point.

Then my second guest post went up on the Penguin blog. This time, it was an interview with the wonderful Jennifer Niven.

February: At the beginning of February I wrote a piece for The Guardian about teen mental health issues and why we need to see more of them represented in YA fiction. They're extremely common in young people, and I don't think this is anywhere near being covered enough. You can read it here.

A few days later, Walker Books sent me a few copies of The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. My challenge was to vlog as I left them in random places around my local area for people to find and keep. You can see my vlog from the day here. One of the places was my local hospital, and I think I'll be dropping books there again because it's such a nice idea and it had never occurred to me before. I was also mentioned in this article in The Bookseller about the campaign.

I was then nominated - and shortlisted! - for the UKYA Blogger Awards in two categories. The UKYA Blogger Awards were voted for by industry professionals so this was especially cool and I was really surprised to be considered. I was up for Blogger's Blogger and Champion Teen Blogger.

March: Spring arrived! To celebrate International Women's Day, I had another piece in The Guardian where I recommended 5 of the best feminist reads in YA. You can read that here.

Then the results of the UKYA Book Blogger Awards were announced. These awards are different to the ones I previously mentioned, they just have very similar names! These ones were voted for by bloggers, and I won Most Fun Blogger whilst coming second in Best Teen Blogger and Best Oldtimer.

And then in the other UKYA Blogger Awards, the ones voted for by industry professionals, I won Champion Teen Blogger! When people win awards they're always like, "Oh, I'm so shocked, thank you" but you can tell they thought they were going to win. I actually didn't. I have never been so surprised in my life. I still have no words. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it to the actual award ceremony but you can see my name being announced in this video by Michelle at Tales of Yesterday (who also won an award, and deservedly so!)

A few days later, I went to Twitter HQ in London for a Q&A with Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Veronica Roth. This was such a cool experience and I'm still really proud of myself for going despite my anxiety. After that, I whizzed over to Leicester Square for the Insurgent World Premiere. It was a great day, and I got a slice of pizza on the way home. Pizza is life. If you want to know more about the event, check out my event recap here.

On the 20th very, very early in the morning, I rolled out of bed and made my way to the nearest field to watch the eclipse. I missed about an hour of school for it but, hey, next time we have an eclipse I'll be nearly 30, and after that, 92, so I figured it was okay.

The next day I went to see Cimorelli at the O2 Academy in Islington, London. Nearly two years beforehand, they'd sent me a letter (yes, an actual, old-fashioned letter) saying they couldn't wait to come to England and hoped they would see me. And then it really happened. They only had one UK date in their entire European tour so I'm unbelievably happy I got to go.

Just before the month closed, I was interviewed for the True Face website. The website is managed by author Siobhan Curham and runs alongside her book of the same name. I love both, and this interview is probably the best one I've ever done. The questions were so interesting!

April: I was lucky enough to be sent a custom jacket with my blog logo on it! How awesome is that? I actually reviewed it here and I'm quite proud of that post so it would be awesome if you could go and read it.

On the same day I went to Cambridge Literary Festival to see Sally Green and Juno Dawson in conversation with Charlotte Eyre from The Bookseller. It was such an interesting panel and I made lots of notes which you can see here.

I passed 400,000 views and also had a new post up on Penguin Platform, the new Penguin blog dedicated specifically to the YA genre.

I got up at 5am to watch the sunrise. From a graveyard. It was on my bucket list, okay? And it wasn't that creepy. (It was.)

One night I spontaneously decided to go to a local light festival where artists had designed pretty presentations or even short films to project onto buildings around the area. It was certainly different! One of them was a short film about a girl who drowned, and it had music with it. It was so creepy. Awesome though!

May: On May 7th I met Carrie Hope Fletcher at Waterstones Piccadilly which was fun and you can read about that here. The next day, though, I had my last day of lessons. That was it. School was done. ...Until the 18th, when my IGCSE exams began and my life became utter hell for a few weeks. Gross.

On the 22nd, deciding I wanted a revision break, I went up a church tower to take photos of my town from above. Guess what? After nearly 17 years of being absolutely fine with heights and combined spaces, this is where I realised that, actually, I hate both. So that was... fun.

On the 30th, I went to a photoshoot where I had photos taken for a feature in a national newspaper. It was fun, and the photographer was giving me photography and journalism tips along the way. I wasn't anxious at all, either, which was a good surprise! Unfortunately, the piece never went to print as it was put together too late and therefore ended up not being as topical as it would have been had it been organised maybe a week earlier. Still got paid, though, and it was a fun experience.

The next day I hit 1,000 YouTube subscribers. FINALLY.

June: My exams finished on June 10th! Writing this in June so I haven't seen my results, but I think I did alright in them. Except Maths which I am 100% sure I failed completely. The other papers were quite generous, luckily - they were all on things I was confident on, and thankfully none of the stuff I wasn't sure about came up!

On June 13th I went to Slide The City, a massive slip n' slide the length of 3 football pitches near London. Whilst I had a good time and I'm glad I went, I don't think it was worth the money, the staff were rude and I wouldn't massively recommend it. It was just... meh, really. But Brooklyn Beckham was there. *shrug*

The week after that, we went to a manor house just up the road because they had an open day. A photo which you can see below was taken of me in which I look very creepy. I didn't mean to look scary, it just kind of happened. Story of my life, right there.

Some more things happened, such as getting a signed copy of Sprinkle of Glitter's book, writing a piece for Moving On magazine, appearing in the Dork Diaries book trailer and having my first ever conference call. Just thought I'd include that last one because it made me feel like an adult. Heh.

Then, on one of the hottest days of the year, I spent the day at the park with my best friend. I'm putting that in here because, whilst seemingly normal to most of you, it was the first time we'd hung out properly outside my home for a couple of years due to my anxiety. Yay.

Oh, and I went for lunch with my grandparents which is another thing I haven't been able to do in a long time.

Make sure you check out Part 2 tomorrow! What are your 2015 highlights?


  1. This is such a lovely post and it looks like you had an awesome year! Can't wait to see what you were up to in the last few months of the year : )
    Kate AKA

  2. Wow, you've had such an amazing year!! Definitely something to be proud of :)

    Alice //

  3. Wowser, Amber! Excuse me while I go crawl in a hole with my top viewed blog post number of 894. Ha ha. But seriously this is spectacular, and I still haven't read part two yet. I started having paralyzing anxiety, and horrible panic attacks after my son was born. I hate it when I see people tweeting that it never gets better (especially this one author who has a lot of followers on Twitter) because that isn't always true. After about fifteen years of it, I started getting better little by little, and although I still get panic attacks, there are only a hand full a year and less severe, and I very rarely have extended periods of anxiety. So there is hope for sufferers. I think there is some comfort to be had just knowing this. Anyway, keep up the great work. You are more successful than most 30 year olds I know!

    1. That means a lot to me, thank you. I really hope to make even more progress next year so I can eventually get to the stage you're at now. Happy New Year! :)