Monday, 17 February 2014

GUEST POST: Amy's Top 5 Books

Hello! Today I have a little treat for you in the form of a guest post by the lovely Amy Peet, from over at Amy's Notebook. She has written a rundown of her top 5 favourite books right now, and on her blog today is a guest music post by myself sharing what's on my playlist at the moment, so head over there too! Here's Amy's post; enjoy...

Sophie has kindly requested me to write a guest post for her blog and as she is always doing such great reviews, I decided that for my guest post I would review my top 5 books! Reading is a passion of mine as is music for Sophie, so for this post, I will be generating all my passion into short reviewing each book. 

“The Fault in Our Stars” John Green

TFiOS is a teen/young adult novel written by the multi-talented author John Green. TFiOS is an emotional story, about a 16 year old girl named Hazel who is suffering from thyroid cancer, and a 16 year old boy named Gus, with osteosarcoma cancer. The story follows the life of the two cancer patients and we shed multiple tears over their story in so many ways. We experience, life, death, heartache, happiness, fear and so many other emotions throughout the 336 pages in the book, but most importantly we experience love. It may sound cliché, but the love shared between Augustus Waters and Hazel-Grace Lancaster is so rich and pure, it’s indescribably loveable.

Quote: "I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labour has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.”

“Paper Aeroplanes” – Dawn O’Porter

P.A is yet another teen/young adult novel written by the ever so beautiful Dawn O’Porter. Paper Aeroplanes is a story about two 15 year old Guernsey schoolgirls in the mid-1990s. Flo and Renee share an unlikely friendship. In certain circumstances, opposites attract and that is exactly how it’s run with Flo and Renee. Flo is the studious, thoughtful type, whereas Renee is outgoing, ambiguous and sexually curious. With two very different home lives, it’s all a surprise when Flo and Renee become incredible best friends. Despite their very different lives, the two girls are bonded by their shared loneliness and dysfunctional home life. It’s not a story unless obstacles are thrown in the way; in this case it is namely Flo's jealous ex-best friend and Renee's growing infatuation with Flo's brother. With graphic content and some scenes of a sexual nature, P.A is a honest interpretation, laugh-out-loud funny and powerfully female novel. It is an unforgettable snapshot of small-town adolescence, and the power behind an unlikely friendship.

Quote: “What's the point in worrying about the future? Who says there will even be a future? What happens if you die tomorrow and all you ever did was sit in maths classes and play the clarinet and moan about your family? What good is the future to you then?”

“Before I Die” – Jenny Downham

I may only be half way through this book at the moment, but I have seen the film adaptation ‘Now is Good’ and although film adaptations tend to ruin the story quite so often, it’s fair to say I have a pretty good idea on how it goes.
Young Tessa is a teenage sufferer of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and after battling with chemotherapy for 4 years, she is now told her life is coming to an end. After coming terms with the situation reasonably well, Tessa creates a list of things to do before she dies including some very risky behaviour for her health. Alongside her best friend Zoey and recent love interest Adam, Tessa carries out her bucket list marking off each activity as she goes along. Once Zoey is resulted with a positive pregnancy test, Tessa makes it her wish to out-live her expectancy to see the baby born before she dies. With an overprotective father and a younger brother Cal who doesn’t quite understand, Tessa lives the life she has to the fullest never wasting a moment, battling cancer, life and love.

Quote: “There's a terrible stillness. I notice a small tear in the wallpaper above her shoulder. I notice finger marks grimed on the light switch. Somewhere down in the house, a door opens and shuts. As Zoey turns to face me, I realize that life is made up of a series of moments, each one a journey to the end.”

“Looking for Alaska” – John Green

Another teen/young adult novel by John Green is ‘Looking for Alaska’. Miles Halter aka ‘Pudge’ starts a new year at Culver Creek Preparatory High School in Alabama, where he meets new best friends The Colonel and instant love interest Alaska. Alaska Young, the wild, moody, unpredictable, beautiful and enigmatic girl that Miles Halter can’t help but fall for. With an obsessed for smoking and uncountable quirks, Miles finds himself oaring over Alaska, despite her constant attempts to set him up with Romanian friend Lara. During the book, Miles expresses his love for famous last words adding to his many quirks. After setting up the schools best prank ever, the unexpected turns as Alaska involves herself in a car accident causing the worst to happen. Miles and The Colonel are devastated, and spend the rest of the school term trying to fix life up for Alaska, and also trying to work out why she did what she did. Why was she so angry? Why did she drink so much? Why didn’t they stop her? Why did she have to go?

Quote: “What is an "instant" death anyway? How long is an instant? Is it one second? Ten? The pain of those seconds must have been awful as her heart burst and her lungs collapsed and there was no air and no blood to her brain and only raw panic. What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.”

“Dear John” – Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks is known for his many romantic novels and yes ‘Dear John’ is another one. It’s often known for the film adaptation but to be quite frank with you, ‘Dear John’ is a much better book. Savannah and John share a beautiful relationship after bumping into each other on the beach. Despite John’s work with the army, Savannah and John do all their best to keep their romance blooming overseas through uncountable amount of letters to and from each other. When John’s father dies, he returns home to mourn his loss and grieving arguments with Savannah take place. No story is complete without a disruption, and when Savannah becomes tired of the constant distance between herself and John and the infrequent visits home, she decides to move on with her life. Savannah remarries a family friend who is soon to die, leaving Savannah alone again. John later returns home where they meet for the first time since. 

Quote: “And when her lips met mine, I knew that I could live to be a hundred and visit every country in the world, but nothing would ever compare to that single moment when I first kissed the girl of my dreams and knew that my love would last forever.”

So that’s 5 of my favourite books! Have you read any?

Written by Amy Peet

Friday, 14 February 2014

Live Review: Newton Faulkner supported by Sam Brookes

Hello there, and welcome to my second gig review of the week! I have quite the jam packed schedule at the moment in terms of live music, with Bastille and Bombay Bicycle Club still to come next month! Excited. 

I actually saw Newton Faulkner back in October 2012, also at the 02 Academy in Newcastle; my cousin Mathew is a huge fan, so when the tour for his new album 'Studio Zoo' were released, I was expecting a text saying that we had tickets! I'm not strictly a massive fan of Newton's...I have all the albums and do listen to them now and then, but would never have gone to see him live if Mathew hadn't wanted to. However, saying that, he is definitely one of the best acts I've ever seen live, and thanks to 02 Priority, we got to be in the front row for the second time!

If you're familiar with Newton's music, you will know that he pushes the boundaries of what is possible when playing the guitar, and uses his incredible technical ability to create sounds and melodies that you can barely believe are coming from just one man! He uses the guitar as both a percussion and string instrument, providing booming rhythm and basslines from thudding the guitar in various places, and even changes the tuning of strings during some songs! The mind boggles. I think I prefer seeing him live because that's the only way you can witness the full impact of the genius of his guitar playing and effortless vocals, as well as his endearing and witty personality (I love the fact he makes cups of tea between songs!).

Also, in a rare occasion, Newton had some people accompanying him on stage! There was Beth Porter on the cello, support act Sam Brookes on guitar, bass and backing vocals (more on him later), and brother Toby Faulkner on vocals too. They didn't join in with every song, but having a group feel to certain numbers really lifted the whole show and, in my opinion, improved it from last year. 

There was a mix of tracks from each of Newton's 4 albums, with most being from his newest one, 'Studio Zoo', but also the big numbers he's probably most well known for such as 'Dream Catch Me', 'Teardrop', 'Clouds' and 'Write It On Your Skin', which was my personal highlight of the night! He always drops some unexpected covers in there too, and, not to spoil it for anyone seeing him soon, his rendition of a certain Justin Timberlake tune is both brilliant and hilarious. 

As previously mentioned, the support act was Sam Brookes, who definitely deserves a mention. When he walked on stage and started with a beautiful love song (the name of which I'm not sure of!), you could hear a pin drop as everyone in the venue was enchanted by his dreamy vocals and Newton-esque guitar playing. We even met him after the show to buy his album 'Kairos' and get our tickets signed! Support acts are really bringing it lately!

Sam Brookes
A brilliant performance all round, and someone I would definitely recommend seeing live!

Are you a fan of Newton Faulkner or Sam Brookes?

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The 1975: Gig and Album Review

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Hello there!

I've actually been meaning to write a review of The 1975's self titled debut album for a while now, but after booking tickets to see them live I thought I'd wait to include my thoughts from the gig too!

The 1975 first came onto my radar last summer, when their big singles 'Chocolate' and 'Sex' seemed inescapable! It felt like they shot to stardom overnight, especially when their album was released back in September and went straight to number 1 in the UK album chart. 

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This album was like nothing I have ever heard before; a little bit 80s (saxophone solo, anyone?), a little bit the indie of the 90s, and the rest melancholy electronica (XX-ish), the 1975 use a mix of sounds and influence to create something that is, to me, thoroughly new. From the dubstep beat of 'The City' all the way to the beautiful yet warped piano ballad 'Is There Somebody Who Can Watch You', this album fits perfectly together to make something that I just cannot stop listening to. 

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My favourite of the bunch is most definitely 'Talk!'; it's a cacophony of off-beat drums, atmospheric sound effects, wandering bassline and high pitched guitar strums, with lead singer Matt Healy's dreamy but angsty voice and relatable lyrics over the top. Just so cool. A close second is 'Heart Out', with a middle 8 to die for and the most cliche yet totally necessary saxophone solo I've heard in a while. My other personal highlights of the album are 'Settle Down', 'Sex' and 'Pressure', but to be honest, it's all pretty darn good.

On to the gig!

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I managed to get tickets to their sell-out show at the 02 Academy in Newcastle, Matt Healy's home town! And in homage to that, the lead singer wore the Toon Army black and white stripes (this caused some booing, which was immediately quashed!). The sound balance was all wrong at first and you couldn't hear the vocals at all, which got me in a panic! But it got sorted pretty quickly, and the show was a cracking one, playing most of the album as well as earlier tunes from their EPs. I wasn't sure what to expect of the band live, but they absolutely brought the songs to life, taking them from fairly easy listening to a really stage-worthy sound. 

The 1975 are big on visuals too, and that had a huge impact on the show; they've created a whole aesthetic around the band, with black and white imagery, grungy androgynous style and old school lighting that really brought the feel of the gig together. 

(There was also one support act that I feel I just have to mention; I'd never heard of Wolf Alice before Monday, but I'm definitely their newest fan! I recommend you all listen to them. Immediately.)

Here's a final gratuitous image of the rather beautiful Matt Healy.

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Probably the coolest guy in music right now.

Are you a fan of The 1975?

Thanks for reading!