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Monthly Archives: April 2014

YouTube is one of my main sources of procrastination as I’m sure it is for so many people. Recently I’ve discovered a branch of it that I can’t get enough of and I’m delighted that the question this week means that I get to share it with you. Enjoy!

What are some YouTube channels everyone should be checking out?

I should note that these channels will only interest you if you love books and discovering new authors to check out. BookTube is a community of vloggers on YouTube who share their bookish adventures and musings over the internet and I can’t believe I haven’t found these people before. It’s no secret that I am a huge bookworm and I love discovering books and authors that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. BookTube is great for that and as I watch the same handful every few days, I feel like I get to know them. They become almost like friends that I’ve never had a conversation with. I know that sounds really weird but I’ve grown to trust their opinions and look forward to their videos.

Book hauls are my favourite kind of book vlogger videos. This is where a vlogger will show off all the books they’ve accumulated over the last month or so and it’s the best way of discovering new books that you might be interested in. A lot of the BookTubers that I subscribe to are American or Canadian and they often get books that aren’t released yet in the UK, so I often have several releases to look forward to. However, some of my favourite BookTubers are British and these are the ones that I often feel the most affinity with. Complaining about the quality of British paperbacks and the lack of high profile book signings are things that I relate to and I can laugh and moan with them.

Almost my entire subscription list on YouTube are BookTubers and I’ll just share a few of my favourites with you here:

A Book Affair

April Brooks

Benjamin Of Tomes

Beth June 327

Bookish And Nerdy

The Bookish Bunny

Books And Junk

The Book Kitten

The British Book Nerd

Cold Tea And Crumbs

Cozy Tea Reads

Helene Jeppesen

Jesse The Reader

Kassidy Voinche

Katytastic

Kit Kats Can Read

Lexie Reviews

Little Book Owl

Megan Olivier

Peruse Project

The Princess Gummy Bear

Sarah Churchill

Sophie Reads Books

So if you love reading and discovering new genres, I’d subscribe to a few (or all!) of these if I were you. May your BookTube addiction commence!

 

 

 

 

 

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mcbustedlogoGIG: McBusted Tour
BANDS: McBusted, The 3 Dudes, VIX, EOfE
VENUE: The O2, London
DATE: April 24th 2014

Like many girls my age, the announcement of McFly teaming up with James Bourne and Matt Willis was possibly the best news of the year. Tickets for the tour were highly coveted and I was so excited and lucky to get one! Both Busted and McFly were big favourites during my pre-teen and teenage years and I knew that to go back to that time for one night would be a truly amazing, magical experience. In fact, I was praying so hard that they wouldn’t be a let-down, so my expectations were incredibly high.

Midlands pop-rock band EofE (East of Eden) took to the stage first and warmed the crowd up with their energetic edgy riffs and strong beats. They’re a four-piece who were clearly delighted to be playing such a huge venue at such an early stage in their career and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Slightly darker and heavier than McBusted, they are a promising upcoming talent. Next up was McFly’s Danny Jones’ sister Vicky under her stage name VIX with her band. After her brief stint on The Voice, she is back on stage and belting out some big power rock ballads.

Bringing the average age of the room down a notch were South Carolina trio The 3 Dudes. These three brothers are still just teenagers playing pure pop-punk. Tinny guitars and crashing beats may remind you of early Busted even though these kids were babes-in-arms on the release of What I Go To School For. With big success in the homeland including having a song sampled on a Taco Bell advert, they definitely got teen hearts racing in London.

McFly's Dougie Poynter (left) and Tom Fletcher perform as McBustedThe introduction to the main event was like none I’d ever seen before. Excitement built as the screens showed a film of Busted’s split announcement back in 2005. Flip forward to the present and we see McFly in a dressing room getting ready for a show. Back in 2005, James and Matt suddenly realise that they are needed in the future and jump into a car to race to the show. In true Back To The Future style, we see the logo on the McFly drum change to McBusted. The stage then opened up and Matt and James arrived in the car on the stage and joined the McFly boys as the supergroup launched into Busted’s Air Hostess which became You Said No and then Britney and Who’s David? Danny did a brilliant job at filling in for the missing Charlie and a fresh twist was put on these huge Busted classics. After some chat and cheeky anecdotes, the band played McFly’s debut 5 Colours In Her Hair and then into Obviously before bringing things down with a beautiful rendition of Busted’s Sleeping With The Light On. The arena went silent and everyone joined together by raising their phones in the air and creating the illusion of a night’s sky as the band played the tearjerking break-up song.

mcbusted2The screens then cut to a hilarious series of interviews with some redhead characters played by the band members, all talking about a supposed UFO sighting in a small Texan town. McBusted’s humour shone through every second of the performance and this was one reason the gig was such an amazing night. These interviews led to a giant UFO floating above the crowd which the band emerged from, playing McFly’s Star Girl. After some more crude discussions and messing around, they played the quite obscure Busted track Nerdy and then McFly’s Room On The Third Floor.

Returning to the main stage, Thunderbirds Are Go was blasted out quickly followed with an unexpected cover of The Jackson 5’s I Want You Back. Recent McFly was visited in the atmospheric Shine A Light before ending with Busted debut single What I Go To School For with huge inflatable footballs and basketballs being passed around the crowd. At this point, my voice was hoarse from shouting lyrics to every single song played but I was still delighted at the encore. The screens showed a section of Tom’s wedding speech which has now reached over 13 million views of YouTube but then was interjected with James and Matt who rubbished it. When the screens went off, the lights flew up and with Matt looking beautiful in a long white wedding dress, they played Crashed The Wedding. Bringing it down a notch, Tom performed the beautiful All About You before the band finished on a comical note with Year 3000 complete with a giant inflatable triple-breasted woman’s chest pinned to the ceiling.

To say I went home ecstatic and thrilled is a huge understatement. In fact, the following day I’m still buzzing from what an amazing fun-loving night it was. I’ve not been to a gig where I’ve had as much fun as I did and I’m delighted that my expectations weren’t disappointed. McBusted have so much banter and they really gel well as a six-piece. I only hope this tour isn’t a one off and they continue to keep playing shows together.

*Photos are not mine.

This week I delve into some of my creative ideas and hopefully give you some insight into my dreams outside of this blog. I think most creative people will have more than one answer to this question, so let me know your answers too!

What genius ideas have you had which turned out to be unoriginal?

For me, these will all be writing based. I’ve been trying (and failing due to the wonders of the internet) to start my own novel for the last couple of years and I am determined to really set my mind to it soon. However, coming up with a premise that hasn’t been done is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I read a lot of young-adult dystopian fiction and that genre is so huge now but it feels like a lot of writers are just re-inventing ideas that were created years ago. Original content becomes rarer every day as long as there are people writing, drawing, creating.

I had the idea for writing a book based entirely in the format of instant messaging. I even wrote a short passage presented as an old MSN conversation in one of my creative writing seminars during my last year of uni and got some great feedback from it. I was also advised by someone that reading a whole book in this style might be a bit jarring to read and the use of emoticons in a novel wouldn’t really work properly. So on this advice, I regrettably put that idea to bed.

Only for the following year to produce The Twitter Diaries by Georgie Thompson and Imogen Lloyd-Webber. This is a chick lit book written in the form of Twitter direct messages between two young professional women. I’m not the biggest lover of cheesy chick lit but because of the format, I picked it up and read it. It was certainly not dissimilar to the idea that I’d had (although the story was rubbish) and I was ever so annoyed at myself for not following it through and indeed for not having the idea earlier, when I could have written something before the release of The Twitter Diaries. Perhaps I will follow it up in the future but of course, it will now be unoriginal.

I’ve also had the idea for writing a series of seven novels based on the deadly sins. Up until very recently, I was convinced this was a totally cool, original notion but I then watched a YouTuber who included three books in a series based on the deadly sins in one of her book haul videos. My heart sank to put it mildly. However, this is an idea that I first dreamt up years ago and I’m determined to use it in some form or another.

So those are my unoriginal but brilliant ideas. I find it so difficult to let go of ideas that I love but that someone else has already done. It’s weird how attached you get to them and I wonder if that’s where all the unoriginal books, music and films come from. An idea that someone loved too much to sacrifice in the name of being original.

 

At first glance this question might suggest that I’m about to reveal dodgy dark secrets to you all but I’d never do something so stupid to the huge anonymous canvas that is the internet. Of course, I do things online that no one knows about and I think anyone who spends a significant amount of time online has similar secrets. In fact, I don’t believe anyone who denies it. It’s quite funny because unless you are doing something you really shouldn’t be then there’s not really any need to keep them secrets but there’s kind of an unspoken rule that we have to. Here’s what I get up to online that you didn’t know before!

What secrets and hobbies on the internet do you keep from your real life friends?

For a long time, I kept blogging a secret. Why? Because I was a little afraid of criticism. Writing for me has always been a release and something that I would quite like to be good at. I never wanted anyone to read my blog and comment on terrible sentence structure or grammar or point out that my posts were dull. When I first got into writing, which was as a teenager, this would have knocked my confidence completely and so I kept it a secret for a long time. For the same reason, I kept my poetry secret too. On my very first blog, which was a Livejournal, I’d post a mixture of diary entries, poems and general rants about the kind of things 15-year-olds feel the need to talk about. It was writing that wasn’t for any particular purpose other than something for me to do but it meant enough for me to hide it from the real world.

When I went to university, I was entrusted with a student blog where I could record my time at Aberystwyth for prospective students. This I kept from my housemates because I didn’t want the floods of questions and possible criticisms. As it happened, one of my housemates did eventually stumble across it during the first year and it was then common knowledge although it only ever came up in conversation a few times over the three years. Other than fear of being told it was rubbish, I can’t really say why I kept it secret. I guess I’ve always been shy about showing my talents and risk being called a show-off, so I just keep quiet about my personal ventures.

Recently, I have been getting into the rather nerdy hobby of online quizzing. I’ve always loved quizzes and puzzles in all their forms and I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with them. Naming all the countries in the world or all original Pokemon is great fun for me but I know how not fun it is for most other people, so I don’t tell anyone because I probably won’t be able to talk about it with them. BuzzFeed quizzes are also very addictive but it’s not really a secret that I love them as they seem to be pretty popular!

So there you go -nothing too sordid, just a bit weird!

 

I wouldn’t say that I’m not a fan of films but my tastes do tend to be quite narrow. There are many genres of films that I’m simply not interested in, which may make me sound small-minded but it’s true. Films are normally between 90 and 140 minutes long, which in my opinion isn’t long enough to fully develop characters and stimulate enough action to make the film interesting. So, most films sacrifice one for the other. Books have the freedom to do both and I think this might be one reason why I prefer reading to watching films. However, this question is about films and due to my limited film knowledge, I can only reference films from the genres that I do enjoy. Naturally, you’ll probably have a whole different opinion!

What movie has the best opening scene?

I can think of a few that I know I’ll always remember. The narration behind the opening of Matilda is a lovely simple passage that reminds us all that we are all different and special. “Everyone is born, but not everyone is born the same. Some will grow to be butchers, or bakers, or candlestick makers. Some will only be really good at making Jell-O salad. One way or another, though, every human being is unique, for better or for worse.” It just tells us that everyone is good at something no matter how little or apparently meaningless that talent is to the outside world. Matilda was one of my favourite films when I was growing up and there was a point in my childhood where I’d watched it so often that I knew pretty much the whole script by heart.

Obviously there is always the opening scene of Up too. The characters of both Karl and Ellie as children are so likeable and you fall in love with them right away. This, of course, makes the subsequent scene even more upsetting. However, throughout the film we’re left with the reminder that theirs was true love in its purest form. They remained loyal to each other in life and Karl continues to love and cherish Ellie’s wishes after her death. While that is unbearably heartbreaking, it’s also somewhat uplifting. Yes, it’s a cartoon but it gives us hope that true love and romance never dies.

I also find the opening scene of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 incredibly powerful. When you’ve followed the saga through seven films already and just emerged from the dramatic cliffhanger ending of Part 1, the haunting choral tones, the Dementors flying over Hogwarts and the figure of Snape standing in an alcove of the castle is one of the most heart-moving moments in the series. It’s so simple but it holds so much weight when you’ve invested so much time and love into the series already. It’s almost as if the whole series is sighing during the calm before the storm, which makes up the entirety of the last film. So powerful and moving!

As always, let me know what your favourite movie openings are in the comments and leave any questions you might have for future AskAlex posts!

Divergent-UK-PosterTITLE: Divergent
STARS: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort, Mekhi Phifer, Kate Winslet
DIRECTOR: Neil Burger
RELEASED: April 4th 2014

As a big fan of The Hunger Games and dystopian stories in general, Divergent was a film that I had earmarked to see for a long time. I read the book by Veronica Roth at the beginning of this year and although I didn’t enjoy it as much as The Hunger Games, it was still a fast-paced enjoyable read. The trilogy of books is incredibly popular amongst teens and so the cinema was packed with excited youngsters on the film’s release date and I can’t pretend that this didn’t affect my experience of the film somewhat. Once I’d got past the squeals and overexcited hyperactivity, which did actually take some doing during the more risque scenes, I was able to sit back and enjoy it.

Divergent follows Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), a teenage girl who lives in a society split into five factions -Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the kind), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave) and Erudite (the intelligent). When they come of age, the teens of the society take an aptitude test to determine which faction they truly belong in. Tris and her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) were born into Abnegation but their test results cause them to rethink their true calling. Tris’ results reveal her to be a Divergent meaning that her aptitude test is inconclusive because she possesses qualities important to multiple factions. Divergents are extremely rare and are in fact considered dangerous by the government and because of this, Tris must keep her status secret. Although they are free to choose their faction, they must never return to their faction of birth and therefore their families, if they decide to transfer. Without too many spoilers, Tris is then thrown into turmoil as she fights to prove herself worthy within her chosen faction while encountering dangerous people and situations. Through it all, she meets and falls in love with the handsome, mysterious Four (Theo James) and she finds herself in trouble when powerful Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) learns of her secret and threatens to wage war against her and other Divergents.

As with most literary adaptations, Veronica Roth’s novel was much more entertaining, however the film did stick relatively close. There was a particularly blood-spattered scene in the book that was omitted from the film and I can only assume that producers thought it would be a little too much violence for a film that teens would be going to see. I think it would have added to the competitive nature amongst the initiates though as I felt that this was something that was lost that seemed to be an integral part of the book. There seemed to be a lot more of a friendly vibe amongst them in the film that was a bit off-putting for those that know the novel. The topless Four scenes also fell a bit flat for me although that wasn’t because Theo James doesn’t have a great physique -oh boy, he does!- but I did feel that it was something that was done for the cameras and the young female audience rather than something that was necessary for the character.

I’m not sure the casting was quite on point as Shailene Woodley doesn’t really have the kind of look and manner that I imagined Tris to have. Tris and Caleb’s sibling relationship wasn’t given much screen time and it was only towards the end that we even remembered Caleb. I know that Shailene and Ansel Elgort are also playing the roles of Hazel and Gus in The Fault In Our Stars this summer and I was keen to see how they played both brother and sister and young, doomed lovers. However, I didn’t really get to see much of them in Divergent.

It is a great dystopian full of action, danger and corruption but I would strongly recommend the book over the film. Don’t go into it expecting another version of The Hunger Games, as they really are very different. In my opinion, The Hunger Games is a better series with more developed characters but Divergent is still an exciting and engaging watch.