Monday, 15 December 2014

MINI REVIEWS: Memory Stick by Polly Smart and Good Shit, Bad Shit by Dan Marshall

Title: Memory Stick
Author: Polly Smart
Published by: Huck and Pucker
Publication date: 1st September 2014
Pages: 144
Genres: Non-fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Need a place to store all those moments, ideas and experiences, both crazy and everyday? Fill this journal with memories to create a record of who you are and what makes you tick. Download your brain into MEMORY STICK! 

I've been a big fan of Huck and Pucker books for a long time, but I'd never actually owned anything of theirs - I just admired from afar. But then I was lucky enough to get my hands on two of their books in one go, and the next week was filled with lots of fangirling and creativity.

Memory Stick is a "place to stick your memories, of course! A place where 'the best idea ever' jostles for attention with your most embarrassing moments; where ticket stubs and autumn leaves are stashed for safekeeping, because they represent so much more than the sum of their parts - each item represents a memory. Memories are the best kind of treasure and this book is your Aladdin's cave to dip into and enjoy for years to come."

'Memories are the best kind of treasure' is a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with; that's why I started blogging in the first place and why, instead of wallpaper, my bedroom walls are covered in photos. That's partly the reason for my YouTube channel too, because in years to come, I'll be able to see myself exactly how I was at fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen. As soon as I read that sentence, I knew I would love this journal.

Usually when books like this are released, they're almost exactly the same as the original interactive book, Wreck This Journal, which I'm sure you've all heard of. The Pointless Book by Alfie Deyes, for example, while still really fun, was almost an exact copy of WTJ. Memory Stick is the first book I've found that hasn't tried to be another Wreck My Journal. It's completely unique and I could sit for hours filling it in, which I suppose is perfect now it's the Christmas holidays. I also think this would be great for long journeys, no matter how old you are.

The other thing I love about this book is that you don't need to be an artistic genius to have fun with it. I've found that a lot of people are put off buying books like this because they don't feel like they're good enough at art, but you're not meant to make the book look perfect. Just make it you, and a nice little place to keep your memories - it doesn't need to look like it belongs in a gallery!

From an artistic point of view, though, my favourite thing about Memory Stick is that the pages are made from fairly good paper. Most books like this have incredibly thin pages, so while they encourage you to paint or glue or draw, you can't because everything bleeds through. It's seriously, seriously annoying. Memory Stick is the first book of this kind that actually has decent quality paper, and to be honest, I think that calls for a party because that's hard to find.

Overall, if you're looking for a fun book you can mess around with at random, this is the one, I think! It's especially good for relieving stress or procrastinating. Not that I condone procrastinating, obviously. ...Excuse me while I tidy my room to avoid having to write the next review, which is less than positive...
The next review contains strong language due to the book title.

Title: Good Shit, Bad Shit
Author: Dan Marshall
Published by: Huck and Pucker
Publication date: 1st September 2014
Pages: 160
Genres: Non-fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

There's good shit and there's bad shit. No matter what kind of shit's happening in your world, this journal will help you get through it. Scribble away your stress, ink your indecision and transcribe your triumphs – whatever it takes to tackle life's many little ups and downs!

When I first took these books out of the envelope they came in, I actually thought I would have way more fun with this book than Memory Stick. Before flicking through the pages, I thought Good Shit, Bad Shit would be funnier and more entertaining, However, I was wrong.

While I really like the concept of this book and the pages within, it's incredibly repetitive, like I said in this video. There are only six original pages in this book... and then they repeat. I know that's because this is more like a diary than a 'pick a page at random and complete it' book, but if I wanted to complete a page for a second time, I could photocopy it. I guess it just disappointed me that there was so little variety, especially when this book sells for £7.99.

The activities are still fun and, just like in Memory Stick, the paper is excellent quality which is exactly what you need when you're writing in books (shock horror) so that's a definite plus. If that sounds like something you'd enjoy then go for it, but if you like a bit more variety like I do, this will probably be a bit of a disappointment, unfortunately!

Friday, 12 December 2014

My First Novel

You've seen my blog posts from when I was 7, but have you seen my schoolwork from when I was 6? Nope... but you're about to. To give some context, my class went on a trip to a local nature reserve. When we came back, we were asked to write an account of what we had done, complete with keywords from a word bank and our own illustrations.

Oh dear.

I've blurred out locations and faces for obvious reasons, but I'll leave all my spelling mistakes in there for your enjoyment. I'm sure you'll be able to tell what 6-year-old me meant, and if you can't, I've corrected my mistakes at the bottom of this post. ;)

"'My Trip to [location]' - Author Amber, Illustrate Amber."
"We went on a coach to [location.] First we had a puppet show. Next we went pond dipping and we all cort some crechs. I fawnd a snaell."
"Next we had a picnic lunch. I had my favrot crisps. I saw a dragonfly. I saw a speshel plants."
"After lunch we went over the brige and bridge and droo some lovelee plants. I droo a hosetale. It was a brileet time. Next I got on the coach. I felt happy on the coach. Finally we got back to school. We all made a wordbangk."
 Oh, I am so glad my spelling and drawing has improved.

At least, I hope it has.

Should I do more posts like this? I know exactly where my literacy book is from when I was 5...

Cort = Caught. Crechs = Creatures. Fawnd = Found. Snaell = Snail. Favrot = Favourite. Speshel = Special. Droo = Drew. Lovelee = Lovely. Brileet = Brilliant. Wordbangk = Wordbank. 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Why I Don't Care That Zoella's Book Was Ghostwritten

On November 25, Zoe Sugg published her debut novel, Girl Online. Sugg, otherwise known as Zoella, a YouTube sensation with over 6 million subscribers, broke records after the book sold 78,000 copies in its first week.

Suddenly, her face and her book were everywhere.

However, the book wasn't written by Sugg alone. In fact, YA author, Siobhan Curham, helped. A Penguin spokeswoman revealed to the Telegraph, "to be factually accurate you would need to say Zoe Sugg did not write the book Girl Online on her own."

Instantly, my Twitter timeline exploded with people saying they were "fuming" and that it was an "outrage."


Related: Zoella's Writing a Book?! (Video)

I've been a fan of Curham for a few years, and a fan of Sugg for a few months. Maybe I should have felt deceived. Maybe I should have been angry. Maybe I, like many other bloggers and authors I once respected, should have been tweeting sarcastic comments about Sugg and her "mermaid hair" along with her supposed inability to write.

But I didn't. I didn't care at all.

The only thing that bothered me was that a 24-year-old woman was being attacked by millions for doing what many other famous 'authors' have got away with. Authors I once liked and respected were picking on her looks. Her looks. 

Seriously? This isn't a school playground.

People are disgusted that a book was ghostwritten. I'm disgusted that there are people out there who think it's okay to attack someone because of it, no matter who it is.

I'd just like to clarify that it's absolutely fine to not like Sugg and/or her book. It's more than fine. What isn't fine is picking on her spelling, her grammar, her looks, and other things that are completely irrelevant yet have the power to make someone feel incredibly low about themselves. And why would you want to contribute to that?

No, Sugg didn't write her book alone, but she had a lot of input. The story was hers. The characters were hers. Imagine you're offered a book deal from the biggest publishing house in the world. You have to have a ghostwriter because you're a high-profile person and it's a high-profile book. You still put a lot of effort in. You're proud, and grateful for the opportunity.

Then you wake up one day to angry emails, tweets, comments and articles in some of the world's biggest newspapers tearing down your book and you as a person because you didn't say you had a ghostwriter. Aren't ghostwriters called ghostwriters for a reason?

It wouldn't be nice, that's for sure.

Related: Girl Online by Zoe Sugg (Review)

Books are ghostwritten all the time. There will be books you've read and enjoyed that were ghostwritten and you might not even know it. I respect that Girl Online being ghostwritten has disappointed people, but in the grand scheme of things, it's one book in a world of many - is it really that important?

Not really.

Some say it will give a harmful impression to her young fans who might suddenly think it's really easy to publish a book. I think anyone of any age who might have dreams of writing a book is smarter than that. Some say it will be harmful to the publishing industry. Admittedly I don't know as much as some about how the publishing world works, but surely the money from Girl Online's success will help to fund books by other authors?

Another argument is that Sugg doesn't deserve the book deal when there are writers out there desperate to get their books published. Is that Sugg's fault? I don't think so.

At the end of the day, books are ghostwritten all the time. Ghostwriting has been around for longer than Sugg has been on this earth and, out of the 78,000 people who bought Girl Online in its first week, I bet loads of them rediscovered their love of reading because of it. How can that be bad?

I enjoyed the book, and I'm not the kind of person who buys something just because of the name on the front. If Girl Online had someone else's name on it, I still would have gone out of my way to read it. I'm sure that would be the same for many.

It's an innocent book. Aren't there bigger things to worry about?

As Patrick Ness said, "Gosh, the outrage couldn't be because she's young, female, writes for teens, and got famous outside of traditional media, could it? Because, you know, the outrage about Wayne Rooney's memoirs was EXACTLY the same as Zoella's... oh, wait, no, it wasn't.  Funny that."

If you want to support Siobhan Curham, you can browse and buy her books here, and read about her involvement with the book here on her wonderful blog. To find out more about Zoe Sugg, you can check out her YouTube channel here.

What do you think?

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