Sunday, 31 July 2016

Emp!re - The Vic Swindon, 27/07/16

On Wednesday evening, I managed to drag myself away from Pokemon hunting for a few hours, and with that time I decided to head down to The Vic to see local band All Ears Avow supporting Emp!re. I've never been disappointed by one of their sets, but I hadn't seen them since their headline show at The Vic over a year ago - it had been far too long.
I hadn't actually heard about their new EP, 'Reach (Side A)', so half of their set was new to me. Both 'Getaway Car' and 'Reach' can be found on the aforementioned EP, and I enjoyed both songs so much that I bought it at the show; I'll definitely need to give it a proper listen (and keep a closer eye on the band!). 'Weight of the World' is also a new song - one that the band have been playing on their recent tours - and while I liked the All Ears Avow that I've been seeing over the last year, this is an entirety new beast. There's been a noticeable shift towards the rock side of their pop-rock category, and while there are still tracks that you can dance and sing along to, it makes the set more emotionally involving and a whole lot more effective.

Waiting Games
Weight of the World
Better Now
Getaway Car

I hadn't heard of In Dynamics before the show, but their set ended up being my favourite of the evening. With a cleaner sound than All Ears Avow, their sound definitely leans towards pop-punk - the easy to dance to beats and catchy lyrics make it impossible not to enjoy them when you're listening to them.
Physical copies of their debut album, 'Everything I See', arrived on the morning of the show following its release two weeks ago, so I had to snap one up, and I've been listening to it constantly since. There's something very special about these guys, and when vocalist Beau Boulden thanked the crowd and said "we've never even been to Swindon before, so it's amazing that some of you guys know the words" and it's testament to the fact that this band are making waves.
I want to say more about In Dynamics, because I'm so excited about them, but other than saying that their set was pretty much perfect there's nothing else to say. I'm going to be keeping track of these guys, though.

A String of Losses
Another Minute
We Are Liars
The Weight of Wait
Existence Precedes Essence
Waking Life

(I couldn't find the title of In Dynamic's fifth song, please contact me if you were at the show!)

The first time I saw Emp!re they were supporting Tonight Alive and they had to fight with everything they had to stand out: they were opening, while second up were the captivating Zoax, and it meant they were completely forgotten by the end of the evening. I was excited to see them again, but I don't know if I would have bothered if All Ears Avow hadn't been on the bill.
I was pleasantly surprised by their set and they ended up really impressing me. It seems as though the last two years have done very good things for the band. Whereas before I complained that all of their songs sounded the same, now the subtle nuances of the songs are brought to the forefront, and Joe Green's stunningly high vocal is the cherry on top of a musically delightful cake.
However, I did still find myself getting a little bored. I hate to say that, because it was a brilliantly performed set, but I could feel my attention drifting. It might have been my desire to return to the Pokemon hunting, it might have been the fact that I'd had a long day at work as was looking forward to going to bed, but I just didn't enjoy the last half of their set as much as I did the first half, or the two other bands who performed in the evening.
I do have to congratulate the crowd on their reaction, though. Midweek gigs are never as successful as weekend shows, so to have such a notable turn out at a show on a Wednesday night? It was rather impressive. I've been to Wednesday shows in Swindon before that have had a mere handful of people in the room. It helped that All Ears Avow were on the bill - they can always draw a crowd, and are quite a success in our little town - but the crowd swelled again for Emp!re's headline set: not many people went home after seeing the band that they liked, so it gave the others a chance to perform to new faces.  
It was exciting when Emp!re decided to perform an encore - not many bands who come to Swindon have enough material to be able to come back after that "one more song!" chant, but the chanting was so raucous that it would have been rude not to reappear! However, it just didn't seem necessary at this stage. I'm holding out hope that the band will keep writing and releasing more varied music - they're missing that something special that will elevate them to bigger venues on their next tour.

I couldn't get Emp!re's setlist, because while Joe's voice is very impressive it can also be quite indecipherable. If you were at the show and know which songs were played, please comment down below!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

BookTube-A-Thon wrap-up

Last week, I decided I was going to take part in the BookTube-A-Thon. I created a TBR for the week, and I was supremely determined that I was going to complete all of the challenges - easy peasy.

So how many challenges did I complete?

The answer to that is...


Yep, I completed less than half of the challenges. I only managed to complete three because I counted finishing 'Paper Towns' towards two of them: both the book to movie adaptation and the book by your favourite author (okay, 'Looking For Alaska' is my favourite book and I hate all of the other John Green books I've read, but it counts!).
I managed to get halfway through 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' - it's really not long, so I should have been able to finish it, but I was taking my time because I wanted to enjoy it and remember it rather than rush to the end. I also managed to get halfway through Sarah Mlynowski's 'Don't Even Think About It', but the narrating style is really odd... I can't connect with it, so I'm struggling with that one.
That means I've only finished two books in the last week and a half! I'm definitely not back in my reading slump, because there's a very good reason for me to not be reading.
I mean I could use the excuse that I was spending a lot of time with my friends (well, one friend in particular... But we don't need to talk about that!), but I'm going to be completely honest: Pokemon Go is addictive is hell and I haven't been able to stop playing it since I got my new phone.
So really, the only thing I've managed to do successfully this week was getting to level 10 on Pokemon Go in less than 5 days.
Oh yeah. It's that bad.

TOP FIVE WEDNESDAY: Top five least likeable characters

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

5) All of the friends in 'Marly's Ghost'
After Ben's girlfriend Marly dies, his friends are all really pissed off that he won't get over it and go to their party.
'Nuff said. 

4) Noah Flynn
I don't like this book, but I really don't like Noah. 

3) Kelsea Glynn
More so in the first book than in the second installment, but Kelsea and her constant fantasies about the men surrounding her and complaints about how she looks so plain - GROAN!

2) Ben "Beez" Baptiste
When Ben's girlfriend gets sexually assaulted, he acts horrendously. He doesn't support her, he practically slut shames her and he doubts her when she is convinced her drink was spiked. 10/10 on the douchebag scale. 

1) Augustus Waters
Oh, the pretentiousness! 
We all know I hate Augustus Waters, so I don't even need to deign to explain this one.

I hope you enjoyed this Top Five Wednesday! Are there any characters you really don't like?

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten things books will make me do

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

So I haven't posted in a few days, but I have some good excuses.
First of all I participated in Booktube-a-Thon, which meant I was supremely busy reading (and my wrap-up of that will be coming soon).
Secondly, I bought a new phone.
How is that relevant?
Well, I bought it on Friday and I'm already on level 10 on Pokemon Go! so you could say I've finally gotten my priorities straight, and Pokemon hunting is the most important thing in my life. Whoops...

This week, Top Ten Tuesday is all about things that you've done or wanted to do because you've read about them in books. I like getting into the mindset of all of the characters I read, so I always want to learn and do things!

10) Get married
Marriage is the be all and end all in some books - particularly the Twilight series - and often the descriptions of the weddings are so beautifully written that it really makes me want to do it. Now, just to trick someone into spending the rest of their life with me! 

9) Write letters
Particularly because of 'To All The Boys I've Loved Before' by Jenny Han. Writing letters to the people I love has become something I've done very regularly (but then, to quote Maroon 5: "I wrote 200 letters I will never send"). 

8) Become a superhero
Since I've started reading comics, I've had the uncontrollable urge to fight crime and apprehend bad guys. It might be a bit dangerous, and I probably need to work out more to fit in the awesome costumes, but I can still try!

7) Go to summer camp
This isn't likely to happen at this point - I feel like I'm far too old to go to a summer camp! - but reading the adventures of the Lumberjanes makes me want to be able to experience it.

6) Buy a cute apartment
I have so many decorating ideas because of books, and I need somewhere to put them all! 

5) Travel
I never really experience wanderlust until I started reading so many books set in different places. Now I want to explore Australia, Canada, America... So many dream destinations. 

4) Spontaneously cut my hair
It's not a real YA novel if the female protagonist doesn't randomly - and sometimes inexplicably (*cough* Tris *cough*) - chop all of her hair off. I'm a big fan of cutting my own hair, and when I'm reading dystopian novels it's very hard to resist those scissors getting higher and higher... 

3) Tour with a band
When Penny in 'Girl Online' starts dating Noah, she gets to go on tour with his band around Europe. I'm a blogger and I write awesome music reviews, I deserve this access! 

2) Build a tree house
I could totally build a tree house that looked this awesome, don't doubt it!
I always wanted to build a tree house when I was younger, but 'The Year We Fell Apart' by Emily Martin has revived this dream.

1) Go on a road trip
Every good summer contemporary has a road trip. 

I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday! What do you really want to do thanks to books? 

Problematic 'Paper Towns'

Last week I shared that I was going to be participating in the BookTube Read-a-Thon. I'll be posting a wrap-up in the next couple of days letting you know how I did, but I couldn't stop thinking about how irritated I am with John Green's 'Paper Towns', so I wanted to get an individual post out about it. 

Margo is the BIGGEST Manic Pixie Dream Girl
The book is about her, but it's not her story.
I mean, Q even goes so far as to say 'I wanted Margo's disappearance to change me, but it hadn't; not really'

Quentin is pretentious
...Not Augustus Waters level pretentious, but he claims to be madly in love with this girl and isn't afraid to correct her every single time she makes a grammatical slight. It's nice to teach people, but don't be too cocky. 
Also, he doesn't seem to be able to get his head around the fact that he's not in love with Margo. He tells himself that she was "this girl who was an idea that I loved", but literally three or four pages later he's still confidently stating that he loves her... There's a disconnect.

It can get really uncomfortable to read. Straight away we encounter Margot appearing in Q's bedroom window with her face painted completely black, and then there's multiple derogatory uses of 'retarded' and jokes about brain-damaged babies... I shuddered multiple times at the language that John Green used. 

Because of those last two points, I've realised John Green should write for adults. Yes, young adult literature can have regular uses of 'one' and 'whom', but the language makes the characters feel archaic and stilted - that's the real reason that I can't connect with any of John Green's characters anymore. They don't feel like genuine teenagers

I'm glad that John Green only writes standalone novels and doesn't seem to be a fan of sequels, because the ending is ambiguous and leaves room for a follow-up. The big romantic kiss just as they're about to go their separate ways is cliched, but at least neither of the members of the couple die in this novel - it's a nice break from John Green's regular heart-stomping. 

And now for my thoughts on the film:

Why do Ben and Radar look so damned YOUNG?! 
I thought they were supposed to be seniors?!

Cara Delevingne shines as an actress
When Cara was cast I grumbled and groaned: most of the time if a model attempts to branch out into the world of acting it isn't a smooth transition. But you genuinely wouldn't think that Cara had been doing anything else - she's a breath of fresh air to watch, and you can visibly see her enthusiasm for the role.

"I have a brain, I'm going to Dartmouth.". Lacey's pretty and popular, and when she asks Q to tell her the first word he thinks of when he looks at her and he replies "beautiful", she's pissed off. It's a wonderful scene.

Q is a lot less pretentious. Film Q is so much better than book Q. Even if he does still proclaim love when he hardly even knows the girl.

Angela joins them on the road trip. Radar's girlfriend becomes a mentionable character, which is AWESOME.

However, the thing that is most mentionable - and definitely annoying - is that the plot is completely changed. They have to rush to Agloe and get back in time to go to prom. There's no terror about whether they'll find Margo in time, because she doesn't post the time she's leaving Agloe. There's much less tension, and it's not as effective as it is in the book. 

Also, Ansel Elgort has a cameo. Gross.

Other than the casting and the stupid, unnecessary changes to the plot, I actually enjoyed the film more than the book, so I'm giving it four stars.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

TOP FIVE WEDNESDAY: Top five recent wishlist books

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

I'm a huge fan of wishlists, and I'm constantly updating my TBR on Goodreads with the books that I really want to check out and can't wait to pick up. These are the five books that I've discovered recently and instantly started craving.

5) 'And The Trees Crept In' by Dawn Kurtagich
I still haven't read 'The Dead House', but anything that looks this creepy is a book that I need to read.

4) 'I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl' by Gretchen McNeil
I don't know too much about this one, but if it's as good as the cover implies then I am on board. 

3) 'Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity' by Elizabeth Kristin Clark
A book that features road trips and pizza? HELL YEAH. 

2) 'The Fate of the Tearling' by Erika Johansen
I fell in love with 'The Invasion of the Tearling', and now I can't wait for the third book in the trilogy to be released.

1) 'Inherited' by Freedom Matthews
Pirates? Good! Curses? Good! I'm excited to read this one, which I found through the #SundayYA chat. 

I hope you enjoyed this Top Five Wednesday! What books have you recently added to your wishlist?

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten best books NOT set in USA

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

Oh, this is FAR too easy! Being from the UK, I mostly read UKYA, which means reading books set in America is actually not the norm for me. I am going to try and choose some books from many different settings, though - I won't just go with UK, because I feel as though that would be cheating.

10) 'All of the Above' by Juno Dawson
The fictional setting of Brompton-on-Sea perfectly imitates any seaside location in the UK, making this book a delight to read.

9) 'Ferryman' by Claire McFall
Not a brilliant book, but set in Scotland and stuffed full with damp, dreary moors.

...wait, you didn't really think I was ONLY going to choose settings in the UK, right? That would be silly!

8) 'Asking For It' by Louise O'Neill
This is still fairly near to the UK, being set in Ireland, but the vocabulary and language used brings the country and the culture to life.

7) 'The Girl of Ink and Stars' by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
I'm not exactly sure where this one is set, but they reference Afrik and Amrica as distance places, so I'm assuming this one is some mysterious, far-off place in our world.

6) 'Anna and the French Kiss' by Stephanie Perkins
Okay, this one starts in America... But soon enough Anna is in France, where her romance begins.

5) 'Trash' by Andy Mulligan
The setting of this one isn't specified, but with the descriptions of the locations it definitely feels South American.  

4) 'Ultraviolet' by R. J. Anderson
I can't remember much about this book - other than the beautiful descriptions of Alison's synesthesia, which I'd never even heard of before - but apparently it's set in Canada. Who knew?!

3) 'Tomorrow, When The War Began' by John Marsden
This best-selling series is set in Australia, but I feel as though it would have been cheating if I'd just listed all seven of the titles (particularly because I've only read the first one...).

2) 'Girl Online: On Tour' by Zoe Sugg
I'm as shocked as you are that I'm putting one of Zoella's books this high up on a Top Ten list. Following Noah and his band on tour, we get to see lots of different - and under-appreciated - places in Europe, which makes it great for getting a feel for new locations.

1) 'Stolen' by Lucy Christopher
After Gemma is kidnapped from the airport, she's taken to Australia - the deep Outback, with lots of beautiful descriptions of the red, burning hot sand surrounding her.

I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday! What's your favourite book set outside of America?

Sunday, 17 July 2016

BookTube-A-Thon TBR

Tomorrow marks the start of BookTube-A-Thon, a week long read-a-thon with seven challenges.
"But Alyce," I hear you cry. "But Alyce, you aren't a BookTuber!"
It's a bloodydamn good point, but I'm going to participate anyway. Just try and stop me.

1) Read a book with yellow on the cover
My copy of 'The True Meaning of Smekday' by Adam Rex has a lot more yellow on the cover! I've mostly chosen this one because it's due back to the library fairly soon, so I need to get it read. 

2) Read a book only after sunset
For a book to read only after sunset, I needed to choose one that I thought I could read quickly. It had to be 'Don't Even Think About It' by Sarah Mlynowski - I've been anticipating it for a while, so I think I'm going to speed through it. 

3) Read a book you discovered through BookTube
This might be cheating! I discovered 'The 5th Wave' through BookTube, and I'd intended to read the sequel a couple of months ago... Technically I wouldn't have heard of it without hearing about the first book, so it can count towards this challenge. 

4) Read a book by one of your favourite authors
'Half Bad' is one of my favourite books of all time, and I keep procrastinating instead of reading 'Half Wild'. This'll be the perfect incentive to finally pick it up and continue Nathan's story. 

5) Read a book that's older than you
One of my friends loves this book, and he straight up asked me the other day whether I'd read it. I bumbled through some bullshit excuse about the fact that I wanted to listen to the original radio play rather than reading the book, but the truth is: I'm lazy when it comes to older books. It's why I'm forcing myself to do the classics challenge! So I'm going to FINALLY read 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy'. 

6) Read and watch a book-to-movie adaptation
As soon as I saw this prompt, I instantly thought of 'Paper Towns'. I know I can read John Green's novels insanely quickly, and based on how adorable the trailer was hopefully I'll be able to speed through the film too. 

7) Read seven books
If I can finish all of the books above, I'm going to throw myself headfirst into reading 'We Awaken' by Calista Lynne. I have a brilliant guest post from Calista just waiting in my inbox, because I want to read and review her novel before I post it... I should definitely work on this! 

Are you going to participate in the BookTube-A-Thon? It doesn't matter if you don't make videos, come and join me in my rebellion!