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Blogtober Day 10: Blog tour: Jackson Saves an Owl by Darren Garwood and Carl Osborne

Blogtober Day 10: Blog tour: Jackson Saves an Owl by Darren Garwood and Carl Osborne

Hi there! Welcome to my stop on the Jackson Saves an Owl blog tour. I’d like to say a big thank you to Faye Rogers, for allowing me to get involved in the blog tour for this charming picture book. Zophia loves owls, so as soon as […]

Blogtober Day 9: Top Ten Tuesday: Longest books I’ve read

Blogtober Day 9: Top Ten Tuesday: Longest books I’ve read

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, but was recently relocated to That Artsy Reader Girl.    I don’t read many long books, because I have the attention span of a moth and struggle to focus on anything longer than 400 pages. I’m […]

Blogtober Day 8: You Me At Six – Sound Knowledge, Marlborough, 07/10/18

Blogtober Day 8: You Me At Six – Sound Knowledge, Marlborough, 07/10/18

Another Sunday, another trip to Sound Knowledge, this time to see the indefatigable You Me At Six. It’s been a busy couple of years for the band – this is their second full-length release in the space of eighteen months – and this show was the second of a string of album release shows, preceding two back-to-back tours at the end of the year.

Some people might have called the decision to independently release their sixth album reckless, but You Me At Six seem reinvigorated by the release of VI. Stylistically close to 2014’s Cavalier Youth, blending indie-rock with subtle hints of dance, compared to last year’s Night People this album is a marked departure for the five lads from Surrey.

This is a band who have decided to ignore the haters and produce the music that they want to make. Although it’s a more upbeat sound than the majority of their previous releases, the lyrics are bitter – most notably during Fast Forward, with Josh Franceschi barking “I might be down, but I’m not fucking out,” adding a vitriolic twist to a sentiment first explored back in 2010 with the release of Underdog.

Lead single 3AM was markedly improved in a live setting. While the recorded version verges on over-produced, the slowed down acoustic version of the track gave it a yearning, desperate feel. Meanwhile, Back Again was just as bouncy as ever, Franceschi’s falsetto on the chorus reminiscent of Brandon Flowers, the flamboyant frontman of The Killers.

We all know it’s the ten year anniversary of Take Off Your Colours: that’s why the band have two tours rapidly approaching – one to celebrate the release of VI, one to perform Take Off Your Colours in its entirety. They decided to celebrate the anniversary at the end of their set by performing Always Attract, but it unfortunately turned into a bit of a car crash. Franceschi laughed it off, joking, “I’ve murdered it!” and cutting the song early, but it’s good to know that the quintet have already started practising for what’s going to be a very special run. Even though it wasn’t the smoothest rendition, it was emotional to hear such an old song performed in an intimate setting like this, and was definitely a treat for the older fans in the room.

Setlist:

Fast Forward
Back Again
3AM
Straight To My Head
Always Attract

 

Meeting the guys after their set was a bit of a surreal experience, particularly because Josh was so infatuated with our daughter that he gave her a cuddle while we had our picture taken. (I’ll be honest, I’m a bit jealous).

Josh and Zophia

Zophia, Sean and I would like to say a huge thank you to the band for being so welcoming and lovely: we’re looking forward to seeing them at two of their Brixton shows later in the year (although Zophia will be staying at home for those!)

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 7: Review: The Case of the Missing Treasure by Robin Stevens

Blogtober Day 7: Review: The Case of the Missing Treasure by Robin Stevens

Back at the start of summer Robin Stevens released a short story narrated by Daisy Wells, in which the Detective Society and the Junior Pinkertons team up to investigate a string of museum robberies. I bought it the day it was released, but I decided […]

Blogtober Day 6: Review: The Invasion by Peadar O’Guilin

Blogtober Day 6: Review: The Invasion by Peadar O’Guilin

Continuing the events from The Call, you might expect The Invasion to be brighter than it’s predecessor, but that is not the case. While it seemed that things were looking up for Anto and Nessa, they’re torn away from each other and plunged back into the world of […]

Blogtober Day 5: Review: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say by Leila Sales

Blogtober Day 5: Review: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say by Leila Sales

When Spelling Bee champion Winter Halperin tweets an ill-advised joke about the skin colour of the latest winner, she finds herself the most hated person on the Internet… For a little while. But while the rest of the world are infuriated for a couple of days, they quickly move onto the next person to commit an online faux pas. Meanwhile, Winter’s life is shattered: the college of her dreams revokes her acceptance, and the Spelling Bee committee disown her, handing her rightfully earned victory to the boy who came second.

Winter’s mother – mummy blogger extraordinaire, the mind behind Turn Them Towards The Sun – finds her reputation damaged, too. In desperation she suggests hiring a company whose job is to flood the internet with good news stories about people who’ve said bad things, pushing their infamy onto the second or third page of the search results. This doesn’t sit right with Winter: she wants to BE better, not just LOOK better.

That’s how Winter finds a Reputation Rehabilitation Retreat. While all of her friends are packing for their first semester in a new town, Winter heads to Revive in the hopes that she can look inside herself and discover how she could be mean enough to say that in the first place.

I LOVED Leila Sales’ Tonight The Streets Are Ours, so when I saw her latest offering in the library eBook catalogue I hit the borrow button in the blink of an eye. If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say sounded like it was going to be a relevant examination of the outrage culture we’ve all experienced in some way, shape or form, and I felt certain that I was going to be on Winter’s side. If you’re hoping to show the bad side of internet shaming, you need to have a cast of characters who are sympathetic and easy to relate to, right?

Wrong.

This book is the definition of great concept, poor execution.

First of all, it’s hard to write a book like this when you’re explicitly stating the tweet that your character put out, rather than simply alluding to its poor taste. You can’t say anything too risqué, because there’s a chance you could damage your own reputation as an author, so you need to put a dash of terrible alongside a whole heap of not that bad. Due to this, Winter’s tweet is vanilla. I’ve only been on Twitter for five minutes this morning and I’ve seen a couple of tweets worse than Winter’s, so the internet exploding and her life imploding doesn’t seem realistic. Honestly, I think most people would accept Winter’s explanation – all be it begrudgingly – and move on.

Sales’ message is further undermined by the motley crew of characters Winter meets in Revive. Half of them shouldn’t be focusing on rehabilitating their reputations but should instead be taking legal action against the people who wronged them (particularly apparent in the case of the politician whose relationship was ruined by a data leak á la Ashley Madison, or the young girl coerced to give sexual favours to a band in return for them making her a member), while a couple of other characters seem like they need actual rehab, not just a place that will shift the way other people view them.

The last chapter is the most infuriating bit of the novel, so if you don’t want spoilers look away now. I was enjoying the story, even if I didn’t completely agree with the way that Leila Sales had chosen to deliver her message, and then came Winter’s big revelation. She decides to start offering her support to those who receive the same internet hatred that she did, sending emails telling people that things will get better. This sounds nice and harmless… Until Winter emails a journalist who catfished and outed gay politicians, saying that everything will get better and he’s not really a horrible person. Yeah… Nah. That guy is the WORST. Pretending to be gay and outing people is a heinous crime, and one that deserves immense levels of hatred.

That was the final nail in the coffin for me. I’d been questioning aspects of If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say, but I’d still been enjoying Leila Sales’ writing technique, so I thought I’d found enough to merit giving it three – or possibly four – stars. I was so close to dropping this to one star due after that inclusion.

It feels as though Sales knew what she wanted to say, but couldn’t think of the right examples to give her a good reason to say it. Perhaps the moral of this story should be: if you don’t have anything to add to a conversation, don’t say anything at all.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 4: Blog tour: Beardies’ World by Joyce Ives

Blogtober Day 4: Blog tour: Beardies’ World by Joyce Ives

Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Beardies’ World blog tour. First off I’d like to say a huge thank you to Faye, for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, and to Joyce Ives, author of Beardies’ World, who has written a lovely guest […]

Blogtober Day 3: Kodaline – Sound Knowledge, Marlborough, 30/09/18

Blogtober Day 3: Kodaline – Sound Knowledge, Marlborough, 30/09/18

With a bite in the breeze and the night drawing in fast, standing in the courtyard outside Cafe Thirty8 on Sunday evening proved that autumn has well and truly arrived. It’s the perfect season for listening to a band like Kodaline: their indie-pop is laced […]

Blogtober Day 2: Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’d love to meet

Blogtober Day 2: Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’d love to meet

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish, but was recently relocated to That Artsy Reader Girl

 

I’ve already met quite a few authors, but the list of ones I’d like to meet is almost unfathomably long. It’s been hard to choose just ten authors, but these are the ones I’d like to meet the most (whether because I’ve heard about how fun they are, because I love their books so much or I just have cool editions that I want to get signed!).

 

10) John Green

 

I have a love/hate relationship with John Green. Some of his books (Looking For Alaska, Paper Towns) are books that I’d count amongst my all-time favourites, but some of his books (The Fault in Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines) aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. I’d like to meet him, but I think the queue would be too crazy and I would probably give up on queuing and go home instead.

9) Rebecca Barrow

 

I’d love to meet Rebecca Barrow for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, because her debut novel You Don’t Know Me But I Know You is an emotional rollercoaster, and I’d like to thank her for writing a book which discusses teen pregnancy frankly, without any political motivation. However, I’d also like to meet Rebecca because she used to work for the same library system that I did, and I’ve heard so much about her!

8) Robin Stevens

 

I binged Robin Stevens entire Murder Most Unladylike series earlier in the year, and I’m eagerly awaiting the publication of the next book in the series, Death in the Spotlight (which is out in TWO DAYS! YAY!). Stevens’ writing reminds me of the classic mystery novels of my childhood, so it was a no-brainer when she became one of my favourite authors.

7) Becky Albertalli

 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was the book which helped me accept and embrace my bisexuality, so I’d love to meet Becky Albertalli in real life and thank her for writing such a brilliant book. She’s doing a few appearances in the UK with Adam Silvera this month, but I’m unable to get to any of them. Keeping my fingers crossed that she may be on the YALC lineup next year…

6) Travis M. Riddle 

 

Travis Riddle reached out to me shortly after the release of the cover for his book Wondrous. Not only am I a book blogger, I’m also a big fan of the band Waterparks, which is how Travis found me (he’s best friends with their vocalist, Awsten Knight). Over the past year or so Travis and I have talked a lot on Twitter, and he’s so funny – I’d love to meet him in real life.

5) Louise O’Neill

 

Louise O’Neill’s Asking For It is one of the best books I’ve ever read. She appeared at YALC this year, and I was highly tempted to go because I really wanted to meet her, but unfortunately it just didn’t pan out. I’m yet to read Only Ever Yours, because I’ve heard it’s just as difficult to read as Asking For It is. I’m not sure whether I can put myself through that pain again!

4) Roxane Gay

 

Roxane Gay’s non-fiction writing about feminism is some of the best that I’ve read. She’s equal parts funny and insightful, and although some of her observations are upsetting (particularly those which discuss the prejudice faced by people who are female and black, or female and fat) they’re also infuriating and inspiring.

3) Neil Gaiman

 

I’ve only read Neil Gaiman’s short stories (and not even all of those, as he has so many different collections) but I’ve enjoyed all of the ones that I’ve read. One of my ex-colleagues met him at the zoo a couple of weeks ago – his son literally ran into her! – so I’d love to meet him too.

2) Stephen King

 

Who wouldn’t want to meet Stephen King? He’s such a prolific writer, with over sixty books published, and his non-fiction book On Writing is one of the best creative writing advice books I’ve read. I’d love to meet Stephen King to quiz him on other discoveries he’s made about the craft of storytelling since releasing On Writing, but I know I’d end up unable to voice my questions, gushing compliments at him instead!

1) Jane Austen

 

I want to be best friends with Jane Austen. She’s savage as heck, which makes the fact that her novels got published way back in the early 1800s all the more impressive. She criticises high society, mocking friends and family members alike, but in such a polite way that you almost can’t believe what you’re reading! I know it’s impossible for me to meet Jane Austen, but if I could bring any author back from the dead for a dinner party, she would be at the top of the list.

 

Have you met any of these authors? If so, are they as cool in real life as I think they’re going to be?

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 1: Launch post

Blogtober Day 1: Launch post

Hi guys, I’m really disappointed in myself, because it’s been almost a month since I’ve blogged. I’ll be honest, I thought it was two weeks at the most… Until I logged in and saw my last post date, and was kind of horrified. Where did […]