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Everything Alyce: August 2015

Friday, 28 August 2015

FRIDAY PLAYLIST: Reading Festival 2015 edition (Part 2)

Welcome to the second installment of the Reading Festival playlist! As you're reading this, I'm on my way to Reading festival, so it only seems appropriate to share some more of the bands I'm excited for with you. Here goes:

10) PVRIS

If this was just my list, PVRIS would be at the top, but because we've already seen them two times this year they only just made it into the top 10. 

Alyce wants to hear: 'Holy'. 

Liana wants to hear: 'My House'. 

9) Pierce The Veil
Much in the same vein as the other low rankers, Pierce The Veil should be much higher! It's their first appearance at Reading festival, and I'm sure they're going to smash it. 

Alyce wants to hear: 'Hold On 'Til May'.

Liana wants to hear: 'Caraphernalia'. 

8) No Devotion
I adore No Devotion, so seeing their first ever festival performance will be unforgettable. 

Alyce wants to hear: 'Death Rattle'.

Liana wants to hear: 'Permanent Sunlight'. 
(Hear the song here!)

7) The Wombats
The Wombats were off the grid for a little while, but it's brilliant to see them back in action with a new album and festival appearances. 

Alyce wants to hear: 'Kill The Director'. 

Liana wants to hear: 'Moving To New York'. 

6) Twin Atlantic
We missed a lot of Twin Atlantic's set last year, so we're hoping to see a bit more this time around.

Alyce wants to hear: 'Free'.

Liana wants to hear: 'Make A Beast Of Myself'. 

5) Bastille
I liked Bastille much more a few years ago than I do now, but it's about time we finally saw them live.

Alyce wants to hear: 'Flaws'. 

Liana wants to hear: 'Pompeii'.

4) New Found Glory
I've seen New Found Glory before, but Liana hasn't! With 'Vicious Love' being one of the best songs released this year, their set should rock.

Alyce wants to hear: 'My Friends Over You'.

Liana wants to hear: 'Vicious Love'. 

3) Limp Bizkit
If 'Golden Cobra' didn't exist, we would both be more excited about this set - it's definitely going to be a mixed bag. 

Alyce wants to hear: 'Rollin''. 

Liana wants to hear: 'Behind Blue Eyes'. 

2) Panic! At The Disco
Again, I've already seen Panic! At The Disco, but this is going to be one of the best sets of the weekend.

Alyce wants to hear: 'This Is Gospel'. 

Liana wants to hear: 'Ready To Go (Get Me Out Of My Mind)'.

1) Simple Plan
Simple Plan. Do I need to say more?

Alyce wants to hear: 'Summer Paradise'. 

Liana wants to hear: 'Shut Up'.

And that's it! Keep an eye out for my Reading review coming up early next week, and wish me luck on this (potentially soggy) weekend!

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Thursday, 27 August 2015

Bring Me The Horizon - Oxford O2 Academy, 27/08/15


This is going to be a short review, because I'm heading off to Reading festival in mere hours, but I had to do a quick write-up about the show I just saw Bring Me The Horizon play. As one of two warm-ups for their performances at Reading and Leeds festival this weekend, this show was unmissable, and it's one of the highest quality concerts I've ever attended. 

Opening up were Turbowolf, who are also playing Reading and Leeds this weekend, but in a much smaller slot. 
At the start of their set I was blown away - they have a frenetic energy that was completely palpable, and vocalist Chris Georgiadis was bounding around the stage in a nonstop flurry of movement. 'Rabbit's Foot' was the only Turbowolf song that I knew prior to attending their set, and while it didn't completely blow me away it definitely got me moving and singing along. It didn't feel as effortless as the recorded version, which is a flawless track, but perhaps it was more charming because of this difference.
I was surprised by how brilliant the crowd reaction was - when you're opening for someone of Bring Me The Horizon's status, it's always going to be touch and go seeing how the crowd react to an lesser known band, but they really seemed to get on board and put a lot of effort into their responses. The banter between the band and the crowd was a bit lacking, with Chris telling the audience "the name of our band is Turbowolf, so if I say 'what is the name of our band?' you will say..." and then asking us if we could count to eight - I think it was supposed to come across as funny, but seemed patronising instead which made the encounter a little uncomfortable. However, when mentioning the fact that he wanted the crowd to boogie, it was easy to have a giggle along with Chris, and it made the crowd dance that little bit better.
On the whole I enjoyed Turbowolf, even if their songs did all start to sound the same aroundabout halfway through their set. If I can get to see them at Reading, I'll definitely try to, because I can imagine their festival performance might feel more relaxed - they were a little bit out of their depth with the size of the crowd tonight. 

Setlist: 
-
Rabbit's Foot
American Mirrors
The Big Cut
Good Hand
Solid Gold
A Rose For The Crows
Read + Write
Let's Die

Unfortunately I didn't know the first song on the setlist! 

Now, for the main event. After seeing Bring Me The Horizon headline Wembley Arena way back in December, I was ecstatic to finally experience one of their smaller shows - because of how popular they are now, they hardly ever perform in venues of this size. 
Kicking off with 'Happy Song' was a stroke of genius! Playing one of their most recent songs first really sucked the crowd in, and the fact that it was the second ever performance of the song live made it feel extremely special. If it sounds good on recordings, it sounds as good - if not better - live, and I could tell that once again I was going to be blown away by their show. And I wasn't wrong. 
The majority of the songs performed were from 'Sempiternal' (with one song each from 'Suicide Season' and 'There Is A Hell, Believe Me I've Seen It. There Is A Heaven, Let's Keep It A Secret' respectively) and that album is their best by far, so it's not surprising when the songs sound so perfect live. But with 'That's The Spirit' coming out in two weeks time, I'm thinking it could surpass 'Sempiternal' as their best release - if it gets to number one on the album charts, that will not be a surprise at all. 'Happy Song' and 'Throne' were both performed to such a high calibre and I fell in love with them more than I had just hearing them on the radio. The crowd reaction to both songs was also immense: when songs have only been out for a handful of weeks, and the majority of the room already knows all the words to both? That's a well-loved band, right there.
Despite the fact that this was a warm-up show for a much bigger festival performance, the band really did throw everything they had into every song. I couldn't fault their energy, because they didn't let up through the entire hour of their set, and it's amazing to see that from a band who haven't done any performances at all in the last eight months. If you can see a band live, hear and potentially feel the nuances of each individual instrument (therefore proving that it's being performed live) and still think it sounds exactly like the album recordings - that is the sign of a damn good band. And there wasn't a single moment that made me wince, or fell flat, or didn't come across as well as it could have - they were all brilliant. There were times when the crowd seemed to be lacking (for example when vocalist Oli Sykes was attempting to get the crowd to sit down and jump back up, there was quite a bit of refusal) but I think that's the only issue when a very heavy, mosh-orientated band start leaning towards a more pop sound - some fans will only like the lighter music and will not want to get involved in the crowd antics, and I think it might take the band some time to come to terms with that development.
The only complaint I have is that the set was much too short, but that was to be expected - you can't play four 20 song sets in a weekend and expect to survive! Due to the length of their set, it was much more about cramming as many songs in as possible, rather than interacting with the crowd. It meant that it might have felt a bit too professional and polished - there wasn't really any opportunity for the members to shine as people instead of just musically. 
However, other than that this was one of, if not the best concert that I've ever been to. If you've seen Bring Me The Horizon live in a larger venue, you'll know what to expect: the fact that the energy never lets up, that the crowd is absolutely insane and the sing alongs don't stop coming. If you put that under a magnifying glass and increase it by a thousand, you'll be able to understand what this show was like. The intro to 'Shadow Moses' was spine-tingling, as were 'Can You Feel My Heart?' and 'Sleepwalking'. The vicious and malevolent sentiments portrayed in 'House Of Wolves' and 'Antivist' were made much more effective, and it was brilliant to see everyone singing along and putting their middle fingers up in the air. 
I don't even care that I saw Bring Me The Horizon tonight - I'm still looking forward to seeing them perform again at Reading festival on Saturday. You can keep an eye out for my review of that show, and I'm betting it's going to be a fabulous one. 

Setlist: 
Happy Song
Shadow Moses
House of Wolves
Go To Hell For Heaven's Sake
Throne
Chelsea Smile
Can You Feel My Heart?
Sleepwalking
Antivist
-
Blessed With A Curse
Drown

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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

TOP FIVE WEDNESDAY: Top five book series I wish had more books

(Top Five Wednesday was created by GingerReadsLainey. Find out more at the Goodreads group!)

Hey again guys! Another week, another Wednesday - time is going so quickly recently. This week, Top Five Wednesday is focusing on the series that we wish had more books.
Now, I have a confession. I am not good at finishing series. So I think if I'd actually finished more series, I would have had a much harder time making this list. In fact, I'm probably going to rewrite this list when I've got more finished series under my belt - but for now, let's go!

5) The Twilight series
If I only want more novels to mean 'Midnight Sun' is here, does it count?

4) The Divergent series
I know we have 'Four', the collection of short stories based on Four's character, but I just think it might be even better if we had a novel set in the future following Four and the rest of the gang after the events of 'Allegiant'. The epilogue left much to be desired, but it also left things quite far open - I would enjoy exploring this world even further. I also just think that there's much more potential! The last novel didn't really do anything for me, but I think with a bit more time and careful crafting that that could change. 

3) The Shiver series
Partly because it's still one of the only series I've finished, partly because I love Maggie Stiefvater's writing - I would love more 'Shiver' books. I know we have spin-off novel 'Sinner', but I think another story focused on Grace and Sam could be breathtaking, if the right length of time was left between installments, and another plot line could be created. But then, to be honest, I'd probably read about these two grocery shopping if Maggie wrote it. 

2) 'To All The Boys I've Loved Before' duology
I haven't managed to read the second novel yet, because I don't want it to end - but is two books really enough to tell Lara Jean's story? I love her so damn much. 

1) 'The Host' series
I know there are more books on the way, but it doesn't really count if they haven't been released yet! If I want more Twilight novels because I want to read 'Midnight Sun', I want more from 'The Host' because it's one of the best books I've ever read - I just think it's so inventive and so emotional, and it's really bloody brilliantly written.

I hope you enjoyed my Top Five Wednesday! If you can think of any series you really wish had more books, please leave your comments down below - it might give me the motivation to finish more series because I really need to start getting around to it.

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TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten books that would be on your syllabus

(Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish!)

Hello, and welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday! This week, I'm putting on a teacher's hat and sharing with you the books I would teach if I taught YA 101. I know, I know, it's a very broad topic, but I don't really have any specialist areas in YA (apart from dystopian, I suppose, which I would hate to teach) so I'm just going for generalities today.

10) 'Before I Die' by Jenny Downham
I was torn between 'Before I Die' and 'The Fault In Our Stars', but I really do love Jenny Downham's writing, so I would mind analysing it with a class.

9) The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
As a book blogger, I really should have read Harry Potter by now - alas, I have not. But if I was teaching YA 101 I would force this as a required read upon myself, because I really need some motivation to pick it up.

8) 'Every Day' by David Levithan
This novel brings up such interesting questions about identity, the self, and what it would be like to change bodies every day, so I think the debates and discussions this could cause would be enlightening and unmissable.

7) 'Fangirl' by Rainbow Rowell
If you're going to teach any class, you need to teach 'Fangirl' - and make sure that your students know that fanfiction is not bad, and that you don't make them feel horrendous for doing what they love!

6) 'A Court Of Thorns and Roses' by Sarah J Maas
If you're going to talk about YA, you need to talk about fairy tale adaptations - they're a huge part of it. This is my personal favourite (so far) so I'd need to include it.

5) 'The 5th Wave' by Rick Yancey
I'll include 'The 5th Wave' not only because I love it, but it gives me a brilliant excuse to talk about H. G. Wells' 'The War of the Worlds' which is one of my favourite books of all time.

4) 'Ready Player One' by Ernest Cline
I'd set this text towards the end of the year, so that summer homework could include playing and perfecting many, many vintage video games. Exciting times all around!

3) The Divergent series by Veronica Roth
Partly to warn against the dangers of bad series enders, but partly because the first novel is a work of genius. It would also be great to have a unit that discussed the differences with book to movie adaptations - my media qualification would come in very handy.

2) 'The Art Of Being Normal' by Lisa Williamson
I know, I've gone on about 'The Art Of Being Normal' quite a lot recently, but it's sheer and utter brilliance. I think it would be interesting to teach my class about transgender and about acceptance - it would also be a great way to make sure they were all tolerant of others and not bullies, otherwise I'd get them kicked off of the course.

 
1) 'Looking For Alaska' by John Green
My favourite novel of all times. It brings up a lot of heartfelt and emotional questions, and it allows very sensitive topics to be broached, so I'm sure it would be helpful for a lot of students to study it and learn about it in my class.

I hope you enjoyed my Top Ten Tuesday! If you were running a class, what would your speciality be and what books would you teach to your students? Leave your comments down below to let me know.

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Friday, 21 August 2015

FRIDAY PLAYLIST: Reading Festival 2015 edition (Part 1)


Hello, and welcome to the first part of a special two part Friday playlist! This time next week, my bags will be packed (hell, I might even be on the train - I've forgotten what time I'm leaving Swindon!) and my excitement level will be through the roof, because it's a week today that Reading festival begins. 
I thought to celebrate the fact that the festival is back, I'd do a two part playlist featuring all of the bands that I'm excited about seeing. But that is not all! I'm attending the festival with my mummy, Liana, so she's chosen the songs she's excited about from these bands too, making this a bumper playlist! Sit back, relax, and get ready to hit that play button... 

20) Metallica
Neither of us are massive Metallica fans, but it felt rude not to include the rockiest headliner in this playlist!

Alyce wants to hear: 'Enter Sandman'.

Liana wants to hear: 'Whiskey In The Jar'.

19) Fort Hope
We've seen Fort Hope a couple times this year already, but they always smash their set so it's not a problem with us to see them again.

Alyce wants to hear: 'Control'. 

Liana wants to hear: 'Plans'. 

18) Royal Blood
We were meant to be seeing them support Foo Fighters at Wembley Stadium, but then stupid Dave Grohl broke his stupid leg! It'll be good to finally see them again.

Alyce wants to hear: 'Figure It Out'. 

Liana wants to hear: 'Ten Tonne Skeleton'.

17) Nothing But Thieves
They were brilliant supporting twenty one pilots, and following their touring stint with Young Guns it'll be interesting to see how they've developed over the last nine months.

Alyce wants to hear: 'Trip Switch'. 

Liana wants to hear: 'Itch'. 

16) Mumford and Sons
Neither of us are huge Mumford and Sons fans, both liking a few of their songs, but it'll be interesting to see such a vastly different style of music live.

Alyce wants to hear: 'White Blank Page'.

Liana wants to hear: 'I Will Wait'. 

15) All Time Low
The only reason All Time Low are so far down is because we're attempting to be more excited for the bands that we haven't seen yet. This, combined with the fact that neither of us were too impressed with 'Future Hearts'.

Alyce wants to hear: 'Poppin' Champagne'.

Liana wants to hear: 'Weightless'.

14) We Are The Ocean
After the release of 'Ark' We Are The Ocean are the strongest they've ever been, and it'll be brilliant to see their new songs in a festival environment - but we have seen them this year, so here they are. 

Alyce wants to hear: 'Do It Together'.

Liana wants to hear: 'Shere Khan'.


13) Don Broco
'Automatic' as a full album is pretty good, but depending on what songs they choose to play it's either going to make or break their set.

Alyce wants to hear: 'I Got Sick'. 

Liana wants to hear: 'Money Power Fame'. 

12) Neck Deep
We keep seeing Neck Deep, so in all reality they should be lower down this list, but we're both looking forward to hearing the new songs from 'Life's Not Out To Get You' live. 

Alyce wants to hear: 'Gold Steps'. 

Liana wants to hear: 'Can't Kick Up The Roots'.

11) Bring Me The Horizon
On the one hand, it's FREAKING BRING ME THE HORIZON. On the other hand, we will have seen them two days before we see them at Reading, so we're trying to chill out and not get too super excited over their near-headlining performance.

Alyce wants to hear: 'House of Wolves'. 

Liana wants to hear: 'Happy Song'. 

So that's the first ten bands we're excited about - stay tuned to find out who will make our top ten, and then make sure you check out my Reading festival review that should be coming a couple days after the festival wraps up!

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Thursday, 20 August 2015

'The Art Of Being Normal' by Lisa Williamson - SPOILER FREE REVIEW



"Normal is such a stupid word," I say, anger suddenly rising in my belly. "What does it even mean?"
"It means fitting in," David replies simply.
"And that's what you really want? To fit in?"
"Not all the time perhaps. But a lot of the time, yes, I think it would be a lot easier to just blend into the crowd."

I'd been hoping to finish 'The Art Of Being Normal' before going to see Lisa Williamson in Oxford, but alas life and work got in the way and I've only just managed to finish it.
Telling the stories of two vastly different teenagers, 'The Art Of Being Normal' is Lisa Williamson's debut novel and it is a doozy. We follow David, a transgender teenager who has been unable to come out to his parents, and Leo, the new kid at David's school who is struggling with his past - and the fact that he thinks he's getting feelings for a girl he's just met. David's story gets laid out pretty quickly - in the first chapter, in fact, in a flashback to primary school when an eight year old David announced that he wanted to be a girl when he grew up. Completely contrasting to this, Leo is a closed book: we know that he's moved schools, but we have no idea why, and he's not exactly willing to revisit his past with us. All we know is that Leo used to go to the school over in Cloverdale - a highly rough area that has an extremely bad reputation - but he's now moving over to Eden Park, where the people all seem to have enough money to live comfortably without a second thought.
These combined aspects make for extremely interesting reading. Knowing everything about David, it's very easy to empathise with him and relate to him: when he references "the stranger looking back" from the mirror, and we see him being horrendously bullied by one of his fellow students, it's impossible not to fall in love with his character and want the very best for him. However, because Leo is so completely different we're not quite sure what his motives are - there's a rumour going around school that he got expelled after flipping out and using a junior hacksaw to chop off one of his teacher's fingers - and for a while it does seem as though he's capable of anything, because he is a complete enigma.
Due to this, I found that I was enjoying Leo's chapters a lot more (well, I say enjoying, but I mean reading faster - I loved every page of this book, so it's not like I preferred one point of view to the other) and I flew through his sections and would have happily read the entire book from his viewpoint. I don't know if it was the linguistic choices of his idiolect (using "Geroff" and "Mam" frequently perfectly invoke the imagery of the young lad from the council estate), the constant questions that were cropping up through his chapters, or his dry and blunt personality, but I just left like I connected with him in a deeper way and fell completely head over heels in love.
Don't get me wrong, I loved David too! He's extremely sweet and adorable, and his constant worries about how to tell his parents about wanting to go through gender reassignment are very easy to empathise with. He seems like a little puppy dog a lot of the time, and if he was real I would just give him a huge cuddle and pat him on the head. I just found that sometimes his sections were harder to read - possibly because of finding it harder to relate to a transitioning character, but partly because he was just rather different from me as he didn't seem to do much outside of school so most of his chapters seemed to take place in the school environment.
This is a really hard review to write, because I want to go into detail about everything. There is so much more I could talk about, but I think this novel is one that really makes more of an impact if you allow yourself to experience the twists and turns without already knowing about them. Luckily, I hadn't had any spoilers for this one, and I do wonder if I wouldn't have loved it as much if I had.
Trust me, I want to tell you all how much I loved every sentence in this novel. Too often, I'll be enjoying a book but a section will stand out as unnecessary or as needing some work on it, but this is one of the first books this year where I found myself getting completely wrapped up and reading fifty or seventy pages at a time without making a single note for my review. It sucks you in and it's impossible to put it down, no matter how cliched that may sound!
I don't know if it was the story that Lisa chose to tell, or her writing style, but it absolutely blew me away. I'm going to admit, I've been a terrible person this year because I haven't read nearly as much UKYA as I'd been intending to, but this novel is definitely the best UKYA I've read all year - if not in the past two or three years. It's certainly the best debut novel I've read in a very long time as well - I can't remember the last one that had me so emotionally involved! I'm trying to think of bad things to say, so this isn't just a gushing review of me proclaiming my emotions, but I'm afraid that's exactly what it needs to be!
If you haven't read 'The Art Of Being Normal' yet, please pick it up. If you want to read something unique and refreshing, something that takes you outside of your comfort zone and really makes you question your existence and the society around you, this is the book for you. If you are transgender and are scared of coming out to your parents, this is the book for you! If you've never known anything about transgender and think you'd like to learn about it, this is the book for you. Seriously, just read this book.
At the panel with David Levithan, Lisa mentioned the fact that she was already in the process of writing her second book, and I'm going to be stood with my hands out in a grabby motion until she has finished it. I need more of her writing, and I need it NOW! Until then, I'm just going to go and re-read 'The Art Of Being Normal'. Wake me up when her second novel is out...

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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

#NewDayNewNormal tour goes to Oxford!

If you haven't heard of the #NewDayNewNormal tour, where have you been hiding - under a rock? In the Sahara desert? This tour is a coming together of great minds - David Levithan (YA author extraordinaire who recently released 'Another Day', sequel to his bestselling 'Every Day') and Lisa Williamson (who released her mind-blowingly good UKYA debut 'The Art Of Being Normal' earlier this year).
Because David writes a lot of novels about gay teenagers and Lisa's debut is focused on the life of a transgender teenager who hasn't yet come out to his parents, this evening held a lot of discussion about gender, sexuality, identity and just being able to feel comfortable as yourself.

                         

The discussion was chaired by Chloe Combi, author of 'Generation Z' - a non-fiction collection of stories from the lives of teenagers that she interviewed all over the UK.


To start off the evening, both David and Lisa read from their books. 


If you've already read 'Every Day', you'll know the story of A, but just in case you haven't here's a brief synopsis. Every day, A wakes up in a different body. It's always been this way, since he was born, so it's just the way he's used to living. He goes through life not making any differences to the bodies that he inhabits and after his twenty four hours with them he passes on through, hardly thinking about them as he trudges through his next day. Until he becomes Justin and meets Justin's girlfriend, Rhiannon, who finally gives him the urge to start connecting and show her who he really is. 
'Another Day' is the companion novel to 'Every Day' - it tells the story from Rhiannon's perspective. As David himself said: "We say 'I love the you inside of you', but do you really love the you inside of you?", so the novel focuses a lot on Rhiannon coming to terms with the way that A is, and how she still thinks she might be falling for him.
In 'Every Day', there is a day in which A wakes up in a super hot, supermodel-esque body, and he goes on a date with Rhiannon. David read the section in 'Another Day' that told this day from Rhiannon's perspective and - let me tell you - it's hilariously written.


As I've already mentioned, 'The Art of Being Normal' tells the story of a transgender teen, David, who hasn't yet come out to his parents about his desire to become a girl. As David is fourteen he's starting to go through the male puberty and he can feel his body changing, so he takes himself through almost daily 'inspections', during which he measures his height, his weight, his penis size and takes stock of various other aspects of his body such as his chest, feet and hands. Lisa chose to read the passage that contained David's first inspection - telling the crowd gathered that it was a different excerpt from the one she'd been choosing to read so far, and it was in fact her first time reading this one out loud, but it was an utterly poignant section that made the entire audience focus, think and empathise with David's plight.

Whereas David's reading was filled with dry comedy, Lisa's exhibited the anxieties and frustrations that teenagers feel in these kind of situations and was very emotionally provoking - two similar readings, but also vastly different. 



Following the two readings, Chloe sparked off the discussion asking why the authors thought that issues surrounding gender had resonated with the readers so well. Lisa acknowledged the fact that there was "not that much" transgender fiction, but gender fluidity is all about "not feeling in a box anymore", which is why teenagers seem to relate to it so easily - they don't want to be labelled and fitted into neat compartments. David agreed with this fact, describing Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox as "bold for speaking out", and stating that lesbian and gay people have only been accepted in the mainstream because of "people telling their stories", showing exactly how important it is to have a voice and to speak up.   

When asked about how it was becoming the characters, David said that it was "much simpler" with 'Another Day' because Rhiannon was a character he already know - it was easier to get into her head already knowing the story and already having her character developed. Lisa shared the fact that she used to work at the Gender Identity Development Service, meaning that she'd "heard so many stories from so many different teenagers" that it just felt natural to tell their stories through her writing.
David asked her why she decided to write a female trapped in a male body, rather than vice versa, and Lisa told him that "the character just came like that", admitting that the first chapter was the first thing she wrote and that it stayed pretty much unedited (which I think is impressive, because it's a highly effective first chapter!). 

Talking about domestic abuse and why teenagers got into relationships that "are abusive and not good enough", Lisa shared a personal story - that she hadn't had a relationship until university, and the first one that she had was almost verging on abusive. She admitted that there was "so much pressure to just be in a relationship [...] I wanted to be the one that changed them, that made it all better", which I think is a theme that crops up time and time again in YA, because it's very easy to want to help the people that you love, even if you're sacrificing yourself. 
In 'Another Day', Rhiannon's relationship with Justin is abusive too - though David did admit that they're horrible to each other, a "mutual hot and cold". He agreed thoroughly with Lisa, stating that "that's what our starter relationships are - compulsion to be part of a pair", but he wrote about it in 'Another Day' because he "wanted to show how extraordinarily complicated it is". 

Chloe referenced the fact that both novels had powerful family dynamics, in which the child that doesn't fit the "norm" struggles to fit in. Lisa agreed with this and said that was the "thing in Britain [...] not talking about important stuff". She said that while working with the Gender Identity Development Service, it could often take years of constant meetings and counselling for the families to finally open their minds and become accepting of their children, but that it did happen eventually. Both authors said that they'd received a lot of messages from teenagers asking about their problems, possibly due to an inability to talk with their family members, and David admitted he would refer them to a hotline or another help service, because "I'm a fiction writer. I can solve problems very easily, because I make them up".

When asked about the teenage habit of "yearning for the future vs. living for the day", David stated that you should "focus on the present with the implication of the future", so the "present tense becomes predominant", while Lisa acknowledged she did this frequently as a teenager - she always wondered if "maybe I'll get to be a cool grown up" when she did grow up, and that it's okay to look forward to the future because things will be different. 

Asking about whether "as a society we are growing our perspective [...] becoming acceptive of many different kinds of people", Lisa said there would always be "pressure on how to look, how to dress" and that teenagers were feeling the same pressures she felt growing up from "one billion different places". David agreed, saying "normal is always someone else", but reiterating the fact that people telling their own stories is a positive things, because they will have a change on their immediate world which will then have a domino effect of change outwards - that it's "much harder to say David is wrong than gay people are wrong". 

In the final question of the official discussion with Chloe, she asked about "how we can make schools more inclusive". Lisa shared that when she finished school she was "given so few options" and that it was "very confusing [...] I left school thinking "I don't know". I just wanted some guidance that was realistic" - the exact same thing that happened to me when I left my sixth form this time last year. She said there "needs to be conversations" about school and about "having tolerance". 
David admitted he was "lucky" because he attended a good school, and that in America bullying was "almost like drunk driving" - everyone knew it was bad, but it wasn't until people decided to campaign that anything started getting changed. He said that he thinks young people need to understand that "life also goes on outside of school", stating that there are things you can do with your friends in your free time, such as making Youtube videos or starting a band, that can be something to look forward to in amongst all the negatives. He also joked that the alternative to school was "being stuck as home with parents all day" and that when you look at it that way it makes school look very appealing. 

After the discussion between the three authors, it was opened up to the crowd for their questions. 

Being asked about whether the UK and US were in step with "dismantling normalcy", David said that due to social media the "generations are aware of what's going on elsewhere" and this gives them the knowledge that they can be themselves because it's being accepted in other places - they can "let their freak flags fly". Chloe mentioned the fact that the "gay scene" was much more prevalent in America before it was in the UK, to which David quipped "we had the openly gay scene, you guys had plenty of buggering going on!". 

Chloe asked whether there was a trend amongst young people to aspire to "not just being normal [but] being perfect", to which Lisa agreed, especially when in relationship to school and exam pressures and the feeling that "you MUST get these fantastic grades". Chloe shared the fact that she had been invited to talk at a school recently - not disclosing which one - but she'd learned that the students there were told that a B was a fail; they had to get A or A*, or they were failures. 
In relation to aspiring to be perfect, Chloe asked David about the theme in 'Another Day' of chasing the perfect day, to which David said he thought that the notion of happiness was much more important - teenagers are always told that their priorities should be getting good grades, finding a partner, having high attendance, but they're never told to aspire to be happy. 

An audience member picked up on the fact that both books have multiple perspectives - 'Another Day' having Rhiannon and A, and 'The Art Of Being Normal' switching between David and Leo. He asked hat the authors learnt about their characters through the different eyes observing them. Lisa said it was a lot of fun - sometimes she would write a chapter from both points of view and then switch it around, other times she would get bored and switch from Leo into David on a whim. 
David noted that he'd been facing a real challenge with 'Another Day', and that was "why does Rhiannon go with this?". In 'Every Day', the audience has much more access to A, so we know that he's a good guy and he'll treat Rhiannon brilliantly, but because of how completely unbelievable his constant body switching it, what makes Rhiannon decide that he's being honest and not having a laugh at her expense? He said it was good to "have a character [he] respected and liked and have them have to prove [their worth]", and also admitted that due to writing so many collaborative novels he finds that he's learned to take the other point of view more easily. 

Asking David whether he'd every write another novel to add to the 'Every Day'/'Another Day' series, David said "very probably", that a sequel is set up in 'Another Day' and he "will write it". He shared the fact that when he finished the novel, his editor turned to hi and said "you do know this means you have to write another book", but he said it would take a few years of working on it.

Someone asked whether writing LGTBQIA fiction was more difficult than general fiction, to which Lisa said she felt a "level of responsibility" and "wanted to do it authentically [...] and feel truthful", but that writing general fiction is hard too. David agreed, saying "gay character are what I like to do", before sharing an anecdote about the author of 'Brooklyn', Colm Toibin, in which he was asked repeatedly in an interview about why he chose to write from the point of view of a woman. Colm turned to the interviewer, saying "I should only write novels about gay Irishmen in their fourties? [...] That's a very narrow demographic", and David said that "readers are willing to read outside their identity" which means that his novels have a wide range of appeal.

Being asked about the popularity of dystopian fiction, and whether there was two camps of YA readers - realistic or fantasy - or a blur, David proclaimed that was a "massive blur", before giving his definition: "what defines young adult literature is emotional truth" and that "The Hunger Games has that as much as Looking For Alaska has that", before name dropping Rainbow Rowell and Holly Black for their respective success in their respective fields in YA. Lisa agreed that "most readers read really widely". 

Chloe asked whether they each felt a sense of responsibility, whether they felt as though they were laying the ground for future writers, and David said that he felt he needed to kick open as many doors as possible because he knows "exactly who kicked upon the doors [he] walked through". 

The final question of the evening was actually my question - I asked whether either of the authors would consider writing an asexual character. David said "yes" instantly, saying that he has "one idea I have been developing with an asexual main character" but he's still developing it, but saying that he's been talking to a few other authors and we can expect some asexual releases in the next year. Lisa also agreed, but she's "in the midst" of her second novel. She said that she would like to explore many different things in time, though. 

After the Q&A session was over, we had an opportunity to meet the authors, so obviously I jumped at the chance. David is the sweetest man ever - I had FIFTEEN of his novels and he didn't mind signing all of them, which definitely surprised me! He even said that because of the pile of books we had to get a picture, and I wasn't going to refuse him, was I?
I'm doing a blog post about my signed novels pretty soon, so you'll have to wait until then to see the adorable dedications David wrote. 


I also met Lisa - she gave us postcards with 'The Art Of Being Normal' book cover on them, and we had a lovely chat! 


I'd like to say a huge thank you to David and Lisa for coming to Oxford, and to Waterstones Oxford for hosting the event! This was the first book tour I'd ever been to, and I'm definitely going to try to go to more in the future. 

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TOP FIVE WEDNESDAY: Top five character tropes I hate

(Top Five Wednesday was created by GingerReadsLainey. Find out more at the Goodreads group!)

Hello, and welcome to another Top Five Wednesday! This week is the top five character tropes that I hate, which is difficult because when I had to do five tropes I loved some of those were ones that I loved to hate. So it's taken me an INSANE amount of time to come up with this post.

5) The "I'm in love with my ex-boyfriend's relative" trope
eye roll animated GIF
Elena Gilbert falling for Stefan AND Damon Salvatore. The new novel I picked up, 'Going Vintage', talking about a girl falling for a new boy after her ex cheats on her, only to find out that new boy is her ex's cousin. Can we just keep away from relationships with relatives, please?

4) The chosen one trope
You're a special little snowflake and you need to save the world - I understand, I really do. But do you need to be completely self-sacrificing, high and mighty with your friends and a complete and utter moron while you're doing it? (Surprisingly, these above points are not aimed at Tris Prior, but every "chosen one" *cough* Clary from The Mortal Instruments *cough*). 

3) The best friends become enemies trope
Preach it, Hayley. Off the top of my head I can't think of any YA examples (apart from 'Stella' by Helen Eve, but I hated the entirety of that novel so that's not a surprise) but I can feel that they're right on the tip of my tongue - I'll have to edit some in later as an when they come to me. But I do find this a lot in TV shows - 'Pretty Little Liars' being one of the best examples - and it just irritates the bejesus out of me. 

2) The love triangle trope
I put love triangles on my favourite character tropes too, but I mentioned the fact that some of them can be written terribly. 'Twilight' is the worst of the bunch, but at the moment 'The Selection' isn't that far behind because there just doesn't seem to be any real reason behind it apart from nostalgia. It might get better over the rest of the series, but if it makes me feel like pulling my hair out at any point then it needs to be on this list. 

1) The insta-love trope
Well, ya can't. I'm talking to you, Bella Swan (seems to me I've mentioned Twilight too much today!) - avert your eyes from pasty Edward and learn to live a little before throwing your life away.

I hope you enjoyed my Top Five Wednesday! Leave your comments down below - I can't wait to see what tropes everyone else hates. 

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