REVIEW: Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith

26 September 2013

Publisher: Particular Books
Published: August 7th 2012
Pages: 224
Book: For Review*
Format: Paperback, Finished Copy
Genre: Non-Fiction, Art, Humor, Crafts, Journal, Self-Help
For anyone who's ever wished to, but had trouble starting, keeping, or finishing a journal or sketchbook comes Wreck This Journal, an illustrated book that features a subversive collection of prompts, asking readers to muster up their best mistake- and mess-making abilities to fill the pages of the book (and destroy them). Acclaimed illustrator Keri Smith encourages journalers to engage in "destructive" acts-poking holes through pages, adding photos and defacing them, painting with coffee, and more-in order to experience the true creative process. Readers discover a new way of art and journal making-and new ways to escape the fear of the blank page and fully engage in the creative process. -from Goodreads
Having loved The Pocket Scavenger I was extremely excited when i had the chance to review Keri Smith's first book ever, having heard amazing things about it, and i am so glad i snapped up the offer. This book was amazing. Being an extreme perfectionist I found it quite hard to ''wreck'' as much as some other people so in the ended i opted for the 'wreck nicely' approach.
The subtitle of the book is: 'To create is to destroy' and the aim is pretty simple. All you have to do is fill in the pages of the book, following the prompts, and by the end of it, you should hopefully be more free-minded when it comes to art, able to think outside of the box and not be such a perfectionist. As my art teacher says, 'happy accidents' sometimes make the picture 100 times better than if you were to try and make everything ''perfect'' with nothing out of place.
"WARNING: During the process of this book you will get dirty. You may find yourself covered in paint, or any other number of foreign substances. You will get wet. You may be asked to do things you question. You may grieve for the perfect state that you found the book in. You may begin to see creative destruction everywhere. You may begin to live more recklessly."
Having already used one of Keri Smith's books i was pretty sure that she was joking here, but i didn't know to what extreme i'd be asked to wreck this book! Prompts like, 'take this in the shower with you', 'crack the spine' and 'hang this page outside and let people do what they want to it' made me cringe, which is why i haven't done them yet!
The instructions are simple:
1. Carry this with you wherever you go.
2. Follow the instructions on every page.
3. Order is not important.
4. Instructions are open to interpretation.
5. Experiment. (Work against your better judgment.)
One slight problem i had with the book was how thin the pages were. Considering the amount of things you are asked to splatter this book with (food, tea, paint) you'd think the pages would be durable but i found that even the slightest of thinks imprinted on the back of the page too, i was surprised to find. Maybe because the aim is to 'wreck', so you have to take everything in your stride, but for me, the 'nice wrecker' i found it painful to see my art work ruined by ink soaking through the page onto it.
Another slight issue some people may have with the book is, if you don't have much patience, this may not be the book for you. I know people who have finished the entire book but it took them around 4 years. So for people who like to see results quickly *cough* me *cough* , they may it hard to motivate themselves to try and complete this if they know it is going to take too long.
Overall however, I found Wreck This Journal to be a perfect pastime to unleash my inner 'recklessness' (to a point!) and had fun wrecking the pages of this book. It would the ideal gift for artistic minded people, or not, for that matter, as what i love about this book is that there is no right or wrong, you are free to interpret the prompts however you want. Neat, messy, colorful, dark, you can 'wreck' however you want!
*Thank you to Spinebreakers for sending me this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Author Guest Post :: Natasha Ngan & Giveaway

13 September 2013

Today, I have the lovely Natasha Ngan on the blog, to tell us all about her journey to publication with her debut novel, The Elites, which has just been released into the wild! (if you've not read it yet then FEEL MY WRATH!!)
I've always wanted to be a writer. Ever since I knew what a book was and how to read them, being an author has been my only dream. Ok, so I had a few other silly ones when I was young, like become a famous actress or get headhunted by the MI5, but writing books - that's been the one true dream I've always had. I was always scribbling away as a child, creating fantastical worlds and extravagant stories, often dubiously similar to things I'd recently read. But the urge to write and tell stories was there, and I've always felt comfortable with words.
 The Elites first came to me as a single line of text - 'There is a rumour that the Elites don't bleed.' If you've read the book or the preview on my publisher's website, you'll know that that it's still the first line! In fact, the prologue, which is the first thing I wrote of the novel, is still pretty much the same. It sums up the whole idea I first had for the book - a futuristic city where people would be streamed at birth according to their DNA into different jobs and class levels, and would be implanted with something called a birth-chip, a tracker that allowed - and prohibited - them access to certain areas of the city depending on their jobs, and would keep a record of their movements throughout their lives. 
I guess I've always been interested in dystopian narratives. If you think about societies across the globe, nearly all have dystopian elements, and governments have many ways of controlling and coercing us, whether we are aware of them or not. This linked with my interest in DNA and human nature - the nature/nurture debate - and The Elites was born. The focus on racial prejudice in the book is also something I've always been interested in, especially coming from a mixed ethnic background and growing up in two different cultures. It's an issue very close to my heart. 
The Elites took me around four or five months to finish, doing a chapter a day, working about four days out of a week. With a job and a fashion blog (Girl in the Lens) taking up most of my time, and a health condition that means I can't always work as much as I'd like, I had to squeeze in writing wherever I could. Luckily, I can get a 2,000 word chapter done in two hours or so if I'm concentrating, so it didn't take too long. As The Elites was the first novel I'd ever written, I didn't know if any of what I was doing was 'right', but I just followed my instincts and wrote a story I'd like to read. I think that, despite the tonnes of writing advice and schedules out there, that's all you really can do. And if you write a story you love, it'll shine through in every sentence. 
My road to publication was surprisingly quick once I'd sent off queries to agents. I even had an offer of publication the very next day after I sent out fifteen or so queries! Then after meeting with a few agents I decided on the very lovely and talented Nicola Barr at Greene and Heaton. The whole process took just under a month. Then Nicola and I worked on some edits, she submitted to a few publishers, and a few days later the wonderful Hot Key Books made us an offer! To be honest, I was still getting over the shock of having a literary agent, so it took a very long time for it to sink in that I now had a publisher too (it still baffles me!). 
With less than a month until The Elites hits bookstores across the world now, I'm still trying to get my head around the fact that my book is soon to be a published novel. It's dizzying to think about. But dizzying in a good way. So if you're a writer too, I can only encourage you to do what I did and follow those dreams! Write that novel you've been cradling in your heart all these years. Work day and night and every minute you can to get your story out. It's hard, and it's draining, and sometimes you'll feel like what on earth is the point and garhhhh how can a few little words be just so damn difficult to write?! But all I can say is it really is the best feeling ever to see even just one reader saying they loved your book - I'm talking about you, Hawwa!
Ahh thank you Natasha. :) So now - for all of you who haven't read her amazing book yet *evil glare*, I am giving away a copy for one of you to win..and best of all, it's International! So get entering! :D But first, here's a picture of the lovely cover *strokes own copy* and a synopsis.

Series: Standalone. (do i hear a cry of joy? YES!)
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Published: September 5th 2013
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult (YA), Fantasy, Science Fiction
Author's Website:
'There is a rumour that the Elites don't bleed.'
Hundreds of years into the future, wars, riots, resource crises and rising sea-levels have destroyed the old civilizations. Only one city has survived: Neo-Babel, a city full of cultures - and racial tension. 
Fifteen-year-old Silver is an Elite, a citizen of Neo-Babel chosen to guard the city due to her superior DNA. She'd never dream of leaving - but then she fails to prevent the assassination of Neo Babel's president, setting off a chain of events more shocking and devastating than she could ever have imagined. Forced to flee the city with her best friend Butterfly (a boy with genetically-enhanced wings), Silver will have to fight to find her family, uncover the truth about Neo-Babel and come to terms with her complicated feelings for Butterfly.
Packed full of adventure, romance, exoticism and the power of friendship, THE ELITES is a highly compelling and beautifully written novel from a supremely talented debut author.
the rules.
- Fill in the Rafflecopter below - please don't leave personal details in the comments section (for your own safety)
- This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL
- You must be 13 or older to enter.
- Nor, I, or the publishers are responsible for books lost or damaged in the post
- Aside from the mandatory entries  all others are optional but completing them could give you a better chance of winning :)
- Giveaway ends on 31st October 2013 at 12am.
- I will email the winner who must reply within 48 hours, otherwise the prize will go to someone else :(
- I'm going with the whole 'surprise!' element, so one of the mandatory entries is that you have to fill in your full address. This is because i can then just send your prize straight off so you will have a nice little package in the post if you win!..But don't worry...I'm not going to stalk you! *waggles eyebrows*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

doorstep delights #4

02 September 2013

its that time again where my book haul comes out. i take a terrible photograph. and fangirl about how i much i love what i got in the post. want to see what i received this week?..