Sunday, 21 December 2014

Looking Back on the Year... // PART ONE

It's almost Christmas and the end of the year, which means it's the perfect time for reminiscing! I've been adding to this post monthly so it's pretty detailed. 2014 has been interesting, to say the least...

January: The year started with a bang, as on New Year's Day I landed a job as a columnist in my local newspaper. I was actually shaking as I opened the email which said something along the lines of 'You've got the job!' I try not to write about bookish things because I feel like it's a good idea to take a break from that sometimes and to develop my writing in discussing other topics, so my articles are mainly about things which affect teenagers. So far I've written about issues such as bullying, body image, social media and more, although my favourite articles do tend to be those I write which are centred around books. I guess it's a habit!

Also in that chilly, wet January, I was featured in Shout magazine, a popular teen magazine here in the UK. They asked stereotypical 'girly' questions so obviously I decided to answer with the most geeky, bookish answers I could think of. It was pretty funny seeing my interview next to others which basically consisted of fangirling over One Direction. Also, I got a bit of self promo in there. Meheheh.

February: Nothing much happened in February, but I did get quoted three times in the Curious Fox catalogue which was a nice surprise.

This month also brought with it the Valentine's Ninja Book Swap which I participated in for the first time. The person chosen to send me books turned out to be Daphne of Winged Reviews, and she kindly sent me The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, both of which were at the top of my wish list at the time. Along with those she also sent me some cute magnetic bookmarks and stickers. Thanks again, Daphne!

I also hit 250 YouTube subscribers.

March: Firstly, my review was quoted on the cover of The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss, a heartbreaking book about a girl dealing with the death of her mother and the arrival of her new baby sister. I was so honoured to be quoted on such a great book. I'd had no idea my review was going to be used so that was another awesome surprise!

Towards the end of the month I hosted a giveaway for Divergent premiere tickets, and I was also given tickets to attend the red-carpet event myself. It ended up being the best day of my life and I met one of my favourite YouTubers, Jim Chapman, there too! You can read all about the event and see the photos here. I wish I could do it all over again.

April: Not much happened in April, but my review of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins did get quoted in Lola and the Boy Next Door, the next book by Perkins! As my absolute favourite read of 2013 I was so happy that it was Anna and the French Kiss which was quoted, out of all the other reviews I had written that year.

Towards the end of the month I was back in London. It was a really good day, although by the end my feet felt like they were about to drop off and I resorted to walking around London with no shoes on. I probably looked like a homeless person (I usually do anyway) but it was DESPERATE MEASURES. Oh, and I'm pretty sure I walked past Newton Faulkner in Stratford. Maybe.

May: May was great! Firstly, I had finally saved up enough money to get an iPhone 5s. I don't get bought things like that so I took matters into my own hands and it finally paid off.

The next thing that happened that month? In May 2013 I had sent a letter to one of my favourite people, Carrie Hope Fletcher. Not only does she make fun videos (a lot of them bookish!) but she also plays Eponine in Les Mis at the West End, and she has a book coming out next year which I am very much looking forward to reading. Anyway, a year later a letter arrived for me from Carrie! I thought maybe my letter to her had got lost in the post, or maybe she just wasn't going to reply. Basically I had given up hope (ooh, pun) so it was a lovely surprise when her letter arrived.

This was also the month where I was invited to the City of Heavenly Fire launch party, but unfortunately I couldn't go. Luckily, the publicist let me give away my tickets to someone else, and my winner had a great time! Check out her event report of the day to see what she got up to.

June: A few days into the month I told you all about my anxiety and panic attacks which is something I'd been keeping secret from the internet for over a year, and I was absolutely terrified about publishing the blog post. Things like anxiety and other mental illnesses don't get discussed very often and everyone seems to be scared of talking about them, so 1) I was worried the post might get hate comments, 2) I didn't want friends to hate me, 3) I knew full well that once the post was on the internet, it was there forever, whether I ended up regretting it or not.

Luckily, I haven't regretted posting it so far. I had been hoping that it would help people going through similar issues, and it did. I still get emails from people (some of them in other countries, which is so weird but such a good feeling) telling me it helped them to feel better. Thanks to those of you who were supportive.

I also got to ask Ansel Elgort (Gus in The Fault in Our Stars) a couple of questions for The Guardian - you can see his answers below! ASDFGHJKL SOMEONE HOLD ME. This was half a year ago and I'm still not over it. *dead*

Check back tomorrow for part two!

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. 

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