Only Child Blog Tour

Blog Tour: Only Child – Rhiannon Navin

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‘We went to school that Tuesday like normal.
Not all of us came home . . .’

I was honoured to be asked to be a part of this blog tour for Rhiannon Navin’s debut novel. I had read and loved it before I was asked to take part. Before I start this review I want to be mindful of the past few weeks events in Florida, this review may be distressing as it also relates to gun violence against children.

Six-year-old Zach is having a normal day at school, that is until a gunman enters his school. Hiding with the rest of his class and teacher, Zach listens to the ‘pop’ in the school, something that he won’t forget. Thankfully, Zach and his classmates survive and after finally being reunited with his distraught mother he thinks everything is ok, that’s until Zach’s parents ask him where his older brother Andy is but he’s not coming home.

This novel is a whirlwind of emotion and is written incredibly well. Told solely from the perspective of Zach, making it even more heartbreaking, the innocence of a child makes all the difference. Seeing not only the horror of the day itself but the impact this has on a child and on a family in the aftermath, I don’t even know how to begin to describe the emotion. This isn’t an easy read, but it is an important one.

I’ve read novels before focusing on the subject of a school shooting, they’ve made me feel deeply sad but this was different. The simplicity of the way Zach tries to process what has happened and how his family changes. I also found it interesting that Navin showed raw emotion and didn’t hold back. She showed a mother who needed justice no matter what, a father coping with his youngest child and a little boy confused by the feelings he’s experiencing. Can he be happy and sad at the same time?

In times like these, I think this is a vital read, it may be fictional but this could quite easily be a reality for a child or young person at school. For this, I applaud Navin for her portrayal. There are no dark details in this, it is simply the force of emotion that moves you alongside Zach. I, of course, gave this five stars. I cannot recommend the novel enough to everyone. A heartbreaking, poignant read.

Thank you to the publisher, author and Netgalley for this early release.

Milestones

I’ve been thinking lately about milestones. I don’t know what it was exactly but I’m guessing it’s a combination of turning 21 (which I don’t understand why it’s a big deal in the UK), seeing more and more of the people I went to school with having children and getting engaged and a lot of my other friends graduating, starting careers and all that jazz. To put it simply milestones freak me out, I’m sure they do for most people. You’re supposed to do this, do that at a certain age, a certain time. For girls there’s a choice between being a mother and being a career woman, because we’re told we can’t have it all.

In some ways I’m lucky, I found the love of my life when I was 13 years old and we live together. Now we’re more than happy together, we’re both doing degrees we love and have careers that we want, but for everyone else it’s not enough. Everyone asks me when we’ll get married, when we’ll have a baby (never if). I just feel a bit stuck and part of that is because I am a woman. Ali NEVER gets asked when he’ll be a father, he’s asked about his job and what he’s going to do for work, it’s all pretty frustrating. I know that I’m an intelligent woman and I have big aspirations, so why do people ask about these ‘traditional’ things.

I’m in no way saying that people my age shouldn’t be married or have children, most of the women in my family had babies by the time they were my age and they’ve all taught me so much. My best friend became a mother at 17 and she’s one of the most awesome ones I know.The thing is my dream right now is walking across that stage to pick up my degree, being able to treat myself with money I’ve earnt and being happy. I will have children, I’d love to be a mum at some point but I wish people would understand there is so much more to me than the fact I can grow a human. I liked this picture below, it definitely made me smile.

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This isn’t an anti-children post, which is how some will read it, it’s just a frustration that sometimes I’m judged by these milestones when I have other amazing things going on. I hate that I have to think about body clocks and all that crap when I’m trying to plan things out about where I want to be in my life, because I’ve been bombarded with media listing risks and problems. Like I said why am I even thinking about this as a twenty year old!

I appreciate that this post might not make much sense, I don’t even know if it does to me, but I can’t be the only one who feels like this. Who knows how I’ll feel in a month, a year or ten but I just want it to be on my own terms, not because of supposed milestones and other people’s ideas of what happiness is.

Writer life.

I’d love to tell you all that all I do in life is write. That would be lying. I wish I could get up in the morning, open my laptop with a cup of tea and write page upon, page of an amazing novel which will sell millions of copies. That said I do write every day on this blog, songs, lists, notes. The most important part of that is the song writing.

When I can’t deal with life and I’m spiralling or even if I feel really happy I pick up a pen, or my laptop and I just put the pain (or lack of it) onto paper. I have a box of old lyrics books, scribbled notes here and there and if you go through either my room here or at home you’ll find diaries, old stories and piles of lyrics. I don’t know why but writing to me is one of the most incredible and liberating thing. If I want, no one will ever see some of the things I have written or everyone could.

Do I want to write something that would be a best seller? Of course I do. I don’t know if it will ever happen, but I might try. I might end up sitting in the uni library in the silence for hours and come out with nothing worth reading to anyone else. It’s just for me.

The songs are a different matter. I put the words on to paper and everyone who comes to our shows will hear what I feel. Some songs, like Breaking Point, are something I came up with because of the people around me and then later people I imagined, other songs are entirely different. If you look at Good Enough, which I was immensely proud of, it was really personal and the newest songs that we’re working on are even more so. It’s taken a year for me to not feel sick when I sing the boys my ideas for the first time, because it’s so personal to me. I know how ‘artistic’ of me, but this is me pouring my heart on to a page.

I don’t know what it is but I wrote a post ages ago, life through my fingers, about how it was the only way to make myself feel better. I said playing Piano wasn’t like writing and it’s not but I was wrong in some aspects. When I write some things, like this, I just write whatever and that how almost every creative thing of mine starts, I don’t think too hard at first. That’s a trait that used to get me in so much trouble during Art lessons at school, nearly 5 years since my GCSEs and I’m still like it…and why I didn’t take Art any further.

Writing, in all it’s beautiful ways is tiring, frustrating, liberating…sometimes everything.

Getting emotional and chicken… a normal Saturday with the boys.

Today has been tiring, emotional and fun. The band and I spent the afternoon practising for the Artss show on Monday and as much as I love the band sometimes it gets really hard. I’m singing songs that I wrote when I was absolutely cut up and sometimes when I give my all the emotion just kind of pores out and occasionally it can make me go back to how I felt when I wrote it. Living through those emotions can be really tough especially when I’ve been moving on and then I get stuck right where I was before, I lost what I thought was a good friend, actually a few ‘good friends’, learnt things that were hard on me and I got through it by writing on them and putting that emotion onto a page. It’s why a lot of No People Clubs songs are upbeat, when they’re upbeat it’s harder for me to get upset and think about it and today I did. Funnily enough this turned into a big thing for the band and we ended up opening up to each other before going back to the flat and ordering CFC (Chicken) and I actually felt so much a part of something that it made me really emotional. So right now I’m absolutely exhausted (emotions and a lack of sleep are an awful combination!).

I’m going to leave you all on that note and just finish by saying that I’m really excited about this band, if the boys can understand how much I put into my songs and accept it’s hard then they’re definately worth it. Watch this space.

Play every gig like it’s Wembley

King Freddie gracing the stage of Wembley, the way he held the crowd was incredible

 

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve always been in awe of Wembley stadium. I went with my parents to the old stadium when I was small we have pictures of me holding various trophies (what they were I don’t know) but the football wasn’t what started me off. So many of my favourite bands have played Wembley, although I haven’t been to a gig there yet I still wonder what it feels like. I think about what it would be like to stand on that stage with thousands upon thousands screaming back at you, a musicians dream.

So maybe I didn’t play Wembley last night for real but I certainly was in my head, the SU came alive! The boys and I finally took to the stage as an electric band…it was amazing. It helps when you have a friend in the crowd who knows the lyrics..that makes you feel like a bit of a rock star. I was nervous and panicked before hand honestly not knowing how to pull this off but we did it! The fun members of the audience (who didn’t sit miserably at a table) were moving and cheering through the whole set. Despite starting with a broken string the rest of it ran smoothly with very minor mistakes. I was just so grateful to all the people who showed up and cheered and just enjoyed our music.

I also ended up talking to people about the lyrics afterwards, it made me realise  that pain can actually be worth it. Try telling me that six months ago when my heart was broken! All the living I do comes out in the slightly messy way of my lyrics and last night I felt and lived them. The past is gone, I can’t change it and I can’t live in it so I’ve got something new to look forward too. My confidence has soared I feel like we could actually get somewhere with this (please like No People Club on facebook!). The best part was being compared to three of my idols after being told people want to buy our music, they were that into it!

The bottom line is that it’s times like these when I can accept myself for who I am, if it wasn’t for the depression would I have written the way I did? I don’t know but I do know that the hurt that went onto those pages is really paying off. So keep an eye out in the future, No People Club are on the way to the top…hmm this could mean a new tattoo.

Feeling inbetween

It isn’t often that I pour my heart into this blog, generally speaking I really think about what I’m going to write. Tonight it’s more of a need to write more than anything. I’ve found that University doesn’t solve everything, it makes you think even more about things. Since being home I’ve just felt this kind of restlessness about it all. When I’m at home I just want to be at uni but when I’m at uni I’m unsure and miss home. I want to be the girl everyone loves and wants to be around. I desperately want to go on nights out and have endless friends and to some extent I do. I always know someone where ever I go at uni, the only exception to this is on the bus, where I go to escape some times. The majority of the time I love uni but sometimes I get agitated, sometimes I get bored and wonder why I’m paying so much money or why I pay rent for halls when about 3 times a week it’s impossible to sleep. After that the sensible part reminds me that I’m over reacting and to think of all the good points again and how hard I worked to be here. 

My mind never stops, I’ll debate all of this every other day and I’ll never get the same conclusion. I want to go out, I want to just have fun like everyone else but sometimes I can’t. Yes I’ll admit that I’ve been poorly and just as the anxiety settles down and I’m ready for a night out my kidneys flare up and I’m stuck with anxiety again. I think I need to make myself go out, who knows I might even enjoy it but it’s the initial going that is the problem. I hate to feel like I’m blaming my illness but my anxiety does make simple things that little bit harder to deal with. I also have an issue of being ahead, I’ve spend so long working independently that in first year working with others is proving really difficult for me. At college I was normally 2 or 3 assessments ahead of everyone else and sometimes I can’t do that here and it is really hard. I don’t know if this is just a part of me or if it’s linked to my illness or both, I try really hard not to relate absolutely everything to what I have because then you just become a stereotype or a label, something I don’t want to be. 

I wrote this because sometimes I just need to let it all out and this is how I do it. I hope this could help someone else at some point as well. I love uni but sometimes I don’t. I love home but sometimes I need to get away. I feel like I’m going insane but maybe that’s normal for a student. I’ll keep plodding along as see how I go. Let’s just say this is going to be a very long year full of ups and downs…. 

Paramore, Paramore, PARAMORE

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Ali and I at Paramore 2013, Wembley Arena! 

Three years ago a self conscious redhead headed to the O2 Arena to see Paramore for the first time with her lovely boyfriend. They had just released their third album ‘Brand New Eyes’ and I was hooked. I first got into Paramore at the age of 13 (just before I met Ali actually!) and from the first time I listened to ‘Riot’ I was hooked. For some reason Hayley’s lyrics spoke to me and as cheesy as it sounds every album has helped me through various stages of my life. I wasn’t lucky enough to know about them when ‘All We Know’ was released, although I do still relate to those songs. For me ‘Riot’ was something else, here was a girl with beautiful orange hair (I’d always been a fan of gingers) who could kick ass and write great songs and as for the musicians? I couldn’t get those riffs out of my freaking head. I wanted to be in a band and partly that was because of Paramore. It wasn’t until ‘Brand New Eyes’ was released I could see them live, as a present my Mum ended up buying me and Ali tickets, I don’t remember specifics but the night was amazing and it made me love them even more. I came back from that concert with no voice what so ever, this time I thought I’d make the same mistake.

Now I was skeptical about this concert. I had read so many interviews that were Hayley based and seen videos where she was the center of attention, was this the Paramore I knew and loved? No it wasn’t I loved knowing about all five of them and I was worried that since the Farro’s left the show might feel empty. After running for multiple trains (damn busses again!) we finally arrived at Wembley (finally calm after my mum phoned ahead to check we weren’t going to miss them, we got there in plenty of time in the end) got our T-Shirts and waited for Paramore to begin. Before this was a support act called Charli XCX who in my opinion didn’t fit in with what we had paid to see. I began getting excited, all they had to do was put Hayley’s box saying ‘Paramore’ on the stage for the whole arena to start screaming and chanting. I turned into a fan girl. All my worries melted away as soon as they came on to new song ‘Grow Up’, a personal favorite of mine. Ok so the stage looked like there was a little too much room as the three of them ran about and Hayley’s new look was..different. As the show carried on you could see why people had made such a big deal. Hayley spoke with open honesty and you felt like they all cared about you. You could see how much the fans meant to them and how much fun they were having and they didn’t shy away from what had happened. I’m not ashamed to say I cried because this was music that had got me through so much and here was my idol telling us what they really meant. There was nothing lacking in ‘Paramore’ if anything you could feel how much they had grown up and together, especially in the little snippets where they played Ukulele it was damn adorable.

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Three of my heroes, they’ve still got it

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I will always be a ‘Parawhore’ 

My favorite part of the show? It’s not every night you see Wembley Arena transformed into the night sky by fans who feel like your family. ‘The Only Exception’ was incredible and even Hayley, Jeremy and Taylor were clearly shocked and grateful for the response. The song had meaning for me because I was standing with the man I loved again to the same song and more in love than ever. I couldn’t see Paramore without Ali it’s just become our thing really. We laughed, we danced, we got all sweaty and I don’t know if I can speak for Ali but I got that breath of fresh air in me that made me ready to record. As Hayley said ‘What ever you are going through, you’ll get through it. If we’re standing up here, you can get through whatever it is’ and I believed her, For All That Goes may be over but be damn sure you’ll be hearing about No People Club the new songs are amazing. I hold on to the feeling that music can transform your entire life. So here it is Paramore, I want to say thank you in advance.

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