Sweet Valley High Book

Young Adult books are such an important part of growing up. Considering there is so much media and other activities it is great that Young Adult books are still thriving and that bloggers such as the Mile Long Bookshelf covers these so eloquently. Here are four books by three authors that are so good that I want to share with you today.

Sweet Valley High – Francine Pascal

Ok I cheated a little, it is a series rather than a book. Originally penned in the 80’s (ebay have hundreds of these books going for next to nothing) compared to the rest of what I have written here Sweet Valley High is not hard hitting at all. The reason why I have included this series is because it played such an important part of my childhood. Sweet Valley High is about two 16 year old twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, who live in Sweet Valley – a suburb in California. The series charters their perfect life and what they get up in their escapades. I think everyone who read the books had such high hopes (and unrealistic) expectations about high school. High school for them was one big party with guys, cheerleading and hanging out in the Dairi Burger. When I started high school in the early 2000’s the closest to cheerleading was cross country (which I loved ironically) and the closest to the Dairi Burger was a Maccy D’s every Saturday with my parents.

I watched the TV series on SMTV (remember that?!) It is well worth buying a copy just to have a trip down memory lane or have a laugh at how stupid the plot lines were.

Photograph showing the books Student and Junk

Junk – Melvin Burgess

The book that got Melvin a lot of drama and the Carnegie Medal. Two teenagers, Gemma and Tar, both from very different backgrounds. Tar with two alcoholic parents and Gemma who feels suffocated by hers move to Bristol and get involved with the drug scene. Gemma ends up having to sell her body to fund her habit but wants desperately to quit and Tar steals. The story has different protagonists, gritty and does not shy away from the reality of drug using and living on the streets. As I said above, the book was heavily criticised because Young Adult fiction didn’t contain those themes in the 90’s.

Student – David Belbin

This book I bought a few years ago just after I had left University and I wish I had read it at the time. It tells the story of Alison, who moves away from her small village near merseyside to live the University life in Nottingham. The story explores many aspects of University life such as sex, dropping out, abuse and drugs as Alison navigates from her first to final year. It really is worth a read.

Love Lessons Book on a table

Love Lessons – David Belbin

Last but certainly not least, Love Lessons by David Belbin. I bought this back when I was a teen second hand. The story follows Rachel who develops a crush on a teacher Mike. The crush develops into something more and the story details their romance over Rachel’s GCSE year from both sides.

What are your favourite Young Adult books? Let me know in the comments below.

Photograph of a blogger breakfast

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to go along to a Blogger event. I have had this blog for nearly five years and have never been to an event! When I saw the Foyles Birmingham Blogger Brekkie advertised on the Birmingham Bloggers UK Facebook group I thought it would be the perfect starter event as I had been to Foyles before so knew the layout and I love books!

The Blogger Brekkie was advertised as a place to have the book shop to yourself for an hour, meet with other like-minded bloggers to chat and occasionally listen to a guest speaker. Brekkie was laid out, a table of freebies ranging from smarties to a few books (all of it which was YA) and a few other bits and pieces was laid out too. The best part was just having the opportunity to talk to other bloggers. It was really nice to speak to people who were from the region talk about blogging and what they did as a day job. There was a really good mix of ages as well, I thought it would be more 18-21 but it wasn’t.

Table with books, pencils and sweets

The benefits you get from going to the event’s is 25% of if you buy a book that day. The option to fill out the bloggerpicks (little handwritten notes you see in the shop usually from staff members saying why you should read this particular book) and the chance to be part of the blogger affiliate programme with Foyles where you get 7% of each purchase made from the site if a user clicks on your ad.

Crowd of book lovers in Foyles

I found Foyles very willing and actively wanting to work with bloggers of all audiences which I really liked and think it is a good ethos to follow.

It has certainly made me want to go to more blogger events so will be keeping an eye out for ones in and around the West Mids and further afield.

To book yourself onto the Foyles Blogger Brekkie, click here.

Belfast City Hall in January

I started off my New Year with a bang by spending a weekend in Belfast. A 40 minute plane journey from Birmingham airport and we were there.

Victoria Square Shopping Centre

Saturday was about exploring the City and doing a bit of shopping. We went to St George’s Market which was mainly full of small independent food stalls. It had a lovely quiet atmosphere and was fairly busy. We also had a gander around CastleCourt Shopping Centre and Victoria Square. Victoria Square has a dome for a roof and you can go up to the top and see great views of Belfast.

Image of a St Georges' Market stall with cheese

Image of a St George's Market stall selling mugs and postcards

St George's Market

In the evening we went to Granny Annie’s. It was a place that we happened to walk past and we were attracted by the outdoor decor and the inside certainly didn’t disappoint. There was live music and food. It was had a great atmosphere and was so busy. Definitely book if you want to go there. Granny Annie's Cocktail Bar

Granny Annie's Cocktail

On Sunday, I booked a coach trip to the Giants Causeway. I had booked the trip through Allen’s tour. The tour left South Donegall in the morning and snaked its way up to the Causeway. We stopped by Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. This bridge is part of the National Trust, and was erected in 1755 to reduce the reliance of a boat reaching the island as salmon fishing was a industry there. The island and the views were lovely but I didn’t find crossing the rope bridge that scary!

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

The Giants Causeway itself was lovely. I thought the basalt columns would be taller then they were but the fact that lava settled into those shapes is interesting (Geography geek coming out there!). Finally on the way back we went to the Dark Hedges – famous from being in Games of Thrones. Although by then it was dark so it was a bit pointless.

Giants Causeway

Hexagonal Blocks of the Giants Causeway

View from the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

At night we ate at Little Wings Pizzaria. The pizza was lovely (I had the Formaggi Caprini which is goat’s cheese, red onion, rocket and garlic oil). I had to get the nutella pizza for dessert – which is essentially nutella and chocolate ice cream on a base. The pizza’s are cooked in a wood stone oven. They were gorgeous.

Little Wings Pizzeria

On the last day we went on a famous Black Cab Taxi Tour around Belfast. The tour I took was the political tour where I learned about the The Troubles and the history of Northern Ireland and saw the murals on the walls and the Peace Lines. It was very interesting

I think Northern Ireland is lovely and I am glad I went for the weekend. Have you ever been to Northern Ireland, let me know what you thought or any suggestions on where I should go next!

Screenshot of Rebecca Merchant's podcast page

I was never really a podcast person, until I realised listening to the entire Ellie Goulding playlist on Spotify each day to and from work was a getting a bit too much. I decided to delve into the world of podcasts – and boy, I am glad I did.

#Girlboss – Sophia Amarouso

This popular podcast starts with Sophia reading out #girlboss moments that listeners send in via Twitter. Sophia then interviews females that have achieved success in their careers. The careers are mainly business based but contain a mixture of charity/ start-ups and women in senior positions of established organisations. Each podcast charters the guests work life from first job to lessons learned in each position.

The Unsorry Podcast

The Unsorry podcast by Sam Sparrow and Lea Rice where each episode talks about topics that women in their twenties and thirties often don’t talk about. The best topics I have listened too have been: Do you have to live the dream, Meditation – Bullshit or brilliant, Dealing with burnout, Difficult female friendships and Educating men on feminism.

Ctrl Alt Delete

Another popular podcast by Emma Gannon author of the Ctrl Alt Delete book. Emma interviews different people each week on a variety of different topics. The interviews with Estee Lalonde and Laura Bates author of Everyday Sexism are well worth a listen.

Death, Sex and Money

Last but certainly not least is the Death, Sex and Money podcast hosted by Anna Sale. This podcast claims to talk about topics that people don’t talk about enough and it is so true. Usually the podcast focuses on one person’s story and includes audio excerpts from listeners who have phoned in. Podcast’s I have enjoyed listening too (out of many) have been ‘I was more angry at God’, Falling in love with heroin, An Astronaut’s husband, left behind and In sickness and in mental health.

Have you got any podcast’s you think I should listen too? Let me know in the comments below!

An image of board games

What Christmas has taught me is that taking time away from the TV, laptop and phone is really good for you. Here are my favourite games that I like to play with friends or family:

The Logo Game

I like this game because I have a chance of winning! But also because it is not just about identifying logos you also need to know a bit about the company’s history – which I find quite interesting and makes the game trickier.

Linkee

My friend introduced me to this game so I had to buy my own. The aim of the game (see what I did there!) is that there are four questions which the answers all have a connection i.e the link. The team that works out the link first shouts Linkee and if they get it right they get a letter. The first team or person to make out the word Linkee wins! It is a really good game to play in with teams.

Playing Cards

Ahh the traditional playing cards, the pack pictured is a pack that my Grandma gave to me when I was in Primary School. Hours playing drinking games or to pass the time.

Uno

Another game I loved playing in primary school. The aim of the game here is to get as many points as possible and get rid of all of your cards. Again my pack I have played with since school.

Cards Against Humanity

A funny but rude game I certainly wouldn’t play with my parents! You get given cards with words and you have to complete the sentence that is show. The rudest wins and who makes the most rude sentences wins.

Sorry!

A game I loved when I was a kid. This game is simply getting your pawn’s around the board in the quickest first. The sorry! bit comes in as you get cards which stop other teams progressing round the book.

Cluedo

I wasn’t keen on this game at first but really enjoy it. This game is about finding out who the murderer is, where is happened and the weapon in this house by asking the other players questions.

What is your favourite board games? Let me know in the comments below!