Wednesday, 31 December 2014


This is going to be a slightly longer and different blog post to what I would usually do. With 2014 coming to a close and 2015 beginning I felt it was appropriate to blog about some of the things that I really enjoyed in 2014 and would recommend that others would check out too. Some of the things may not have been released etc in 2014 but I just discovered them in this year or they have been a big part of my life in one way or another in 2014. I also figure that this blog will also be a good one for me to look back on in the future to see what I was enjoying this year.

For me one of my musical highlights of the year was McBusted. They joined forces at the end of 2013 but 2014 has brought a sell out arena tour and an album. I'm sure I've mentioned in posts before how much of a fan I am of both Busted and McFly so I was thrilled that they created a super group. The tour they did early in the year is up there in one of the best live concerts I've ever seen, it was so well thought through and I loved the set list. The newly released self titled, although I don’t feel any of the tracks are stand outs like Crashed The Wedding or 5 Colours In Her Hair, it is a very good album from beginning to end. 

It is hard to not feature Taylor Swift as part of this blog. I think you'll be hard pushed to find someone who wouldn't agree that 2014 has well and truly been the year of Taylor Swift. She undertook a sell out world tour at the beginning of the year including five dates at London’s 02 Arena and released her new album, 1989, towards the end.  Although her 1989 album isn't my personal favourite that she's released you can't deny that her new pop sound has taken the world by storm and she still remains to be one of my favourite musicians. For that reason alone I would have to recommend that you listen to Taylor Swift. I'm choosing 1989 for this blog post solely on the fact that it was released in 2014, however, I would strongly suggest listening to her back catalogue too.

I read a lot of books in 2014 – 46 to be precise. Some of them better than others. Looking at my goodreads ratings on the 46 books I only rated three that I read this year with a five star rating so I will recommend those. The three books that I rated five stars are

  • The Time Of My Life – Cecelia Ahern
  • Not Without You – Harriet Evans
  • Not In The Script – Amy Finnegan
Me giving a five star rating on a book involves the book completely taking over my life. When I am enjoying the book so much my entire life tends to revolve around it, it’s all I think about and what’s happening in the book tends to affect my day to day mood. For example, I end up worrying about things the characters in the book are worrying about. I completely enjoyed these three so couldn’t recommend them more.

I managed to see a few musicals in 2014. However, all of them but one I have seen before. For that reason my favourite of 2014 is going to have to be Cinderella. It was such a magical performance of the tale and the songs are just so catchy. Although it isn’t in the UK yet and is shutting on Broadway very shortly if you find yourself in distance of the US tour of it and you love the story of Cinderella I’d say it’s definitely worth checking out.

My two stand out theatre performers of the year are Savannah Stevenson and Carrie Hope Fletcher. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful performers I think they both are and they both have been a pleasure to meet at stage door after I saw their respective shows. Savannah Stevenson is currently performing as Glinda in Wicked London. I’ve said before in a blog post how impressed I am with her portrayal as Glinda and I’m so excited to hopefully get to see her in Wicked again, everyone in the cast is unbelievably good I really couldn’t suggest going to see it more. Carrie Hope Fletcher is currently playing Eponine in London’s Les Miserables and very recently played Beth in the final arena tour of War of the Worlds. Carrie Hope Fletcher is someone I’ve been aware of for a number of years but getting to see her in theatre just put emphasis on how ridiculously talented she is. She leaves the cast of Les Miserables in June and I definitely think she’ll be someone to watch out for in the future.   

I’m going to leave this blog post at this otherwise it’ll just be far too long. I think that covers some of the main things of 2014. I hope anyone reading this had a good 2014 and will have an even better 2015.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Wicked The Musical - London

Wicked the musical is based on Gregory Maguires novel and tells the back story of the Wizard of Oz witches. Although as expected, references are made to the film I don't think it is a requirement to have seen it to be able to thoroughly enjoy the show. The story focusses around popular girl, Glinda Upland and outcast Elphaba Thropp who is the governors green daughter. Glinda and Elphaba start the musical hating each other but unexpectedly they end up being friends. The pair meet at Shiz University and before you know it a love triangle has formed with Fiyero (played by Jeremy Taylor) and they even get a trip to visit the Wonderful Wizard of Oz where their fates will be sealed.

London's Elphaba is currently being played by Jennifer DiNoia, who despite making her West End debut has been in six different Wicked companies in four countries so she is very familiar with playing the role of the green witch. Her performance is very impressive and she so effortlessly belts out Elphabas songs including Wicked's most popular song Defying Gravity. Unfortunately her run in the London production is only limited and DiNoia's final performance will take place 31st January.

My personal favourite character in the musical is Glinda the good who is currently being played by Savannah Stevenson. I have been in the audience for multiple performances of Wicked so have experienced many different actresses play Glinda but Stevenson is by far my favourite. From her entrance to the stage by bubble, Stevenson brings so much energy to the performance and has the audience in stitches particularly during the song, Popular. Stevenson managed to play both the funny and seriously aspects of Glinda perfectly. 

DiNoia and Stevenson act together so incredibly, it's hard to believe they've only been working together for just a few weeks. They are an incredible pairing and if you get the opportunity to visit a show in London I can highly recommend Wicked. It's so obvious that both actresses know their characters inside out and exactly how they want them to come across to the watching crowd and I feel that really comes across in the performance.

Wicked has been in London for almost a decade now and even on the Christmas Eve performance that I attended, the theatre was almost full. It's no wonder the musical is still so popular, the story is heartwarming and funny, the set is visually stunning and I can guarantee you will be leaving the theatre singing along to some of the songs biggest hits. You are truly transported through the story thanks to the sets and costumes. The differences between the sets and costumes are phenomenal. I think Wicked is one of the best musicals for the entire family in the West End right now and if you haven't seen it yet you certainly need to plan a journey to the Apollo Victoria to see it. 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Not In The Script - Amy Finnegan

I really enjoyed this book. I'm a sucker for books which dip into the realms of being famous, I’m fairly sure everybody has imagined being famous at some point which I find makes these type of books enjoyable. Unfortunately I've read far too many books where it doesn't work so well but Not In The Script puts you straight into the famous world so perfectly.

Emma is an actress whose previous relationships haven't been so successful. Her heartbreaks have been broadcast all over the media and her first kiss even happened on screen. Due to this she decides to not date her co stars ever again. Of course she is then cast in a tv show with her long term crush Brett and model Jake, which makes her struggle to stand by her no dating decision. Before she knows it the tabloids are falsely claiming that she is dating Brett but the truth is she has very strong feelings for her other co star. Emma is such a normal person despite her job, even studying for a degree on the side, which I feel makes it so much easier to like her and relate to her. 

Jake is such a wonderful character. If you have a list of fictional characters you wish were real he would most certainly make the cut. He started his career as a model, wants to gain a business degree, cares from his mother who is wheelchair bound due to a stroke and is just the perfect gentleman to Emma. He never pressures her for their friendship to cross the relationship line despite how much he wants it to, which only adds to the list of reasons why I like him so much. At the beginning I wasn’t so sure about Jake but then before you know it you're completely absorbed by Jake's loveliness and charm.

Although the plot is really just following the stories of Emma and Jake on and off set don't let it put you off. I assure you that you'll be pleasantly surprised by how good this book is, I know I was. Everything about this book was superb. I really enjoyed the fact the book was told from both Jake and Emma's perspectives. It provided the book with extra details from both characters and really helped you like the characters even more than you already do. The romance aspect of the book was certainly a slow burner but it worked so well within the book, I genuinely don't think I would've preferred it any other way. What I enjoyed the most is how realistic their relationship felt despite the jobs that they do being far from normal.

Honestly this book was just adorable. If you want to read a book which will leave you smiling at every page this really is the book for you. I enjoyed this book so much I've gone and ordered myself a physical copy of the book for my collection, which sadly is now something I only do for my favourite books. I could not recommend this book more. This is author, Amy Finnegan’s debut novel and if this book is anything to go from her future books are only going to be must reads.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Christmas With Billy And Me - Giovanna Fletcher

When a conversation about books comes up in my daily life it doesn’t take me long to recommend one of Giovanna Fletcher’s previous two published novels to others. Being a fan of Fletcher’s work, I was thrilled to hear that a short story sequel to her debut novel, Billy and Me was being released entitled Christmas With Billy and Me.
The book continues just a few months later from where Billy and Me left off. The story follows the tales of famous actor Billy, who it is revealed is currently taking a break from acting, and tea shop owner, Sophie. Since taking his break, Billy is living with Sophie in the little village of Rosefont Hill and helping her out with the running of the tea shop which is ideal for the busy Christmas period. 
Sophie receives an anonymous email to the tea shop’s email inbox asking if she would mind assisting with a romantic Christmas Eve proposal that would happen in her shop. Sophie can’t resist helping out and you’re left puzzled throughout the book about who the mysterious gentleman is who is proposing. I was hoping that it would be Billy proposing to Sophie which to me would’ve completed their love story perfectly but a few pages in it is quickly revealed that this isn't the case. Billy not being the proposer doesn’t ruin the book at all and I was very happy with whom it turned out to be.
Christmas With Billy and Me was disappointingly short with it being only fifty pages long. I appreciate that it was just a short story novel but I could’ve quite easily read another novel based around Billy and Sophie. However, with it only costing £1.99 for the physical book (which is exclusive to Waterstones stores) and 99p for the eBook you can’t be too disappointed. If you enjoyed Billy and Me I would highly recommend reading this short story. It is heart warming story and I can guarantee you’ll be in the festive mood after reading which makes it perfect to read in the run up to Christmas. Hopefully Fletcher will be writing another book based around the tales of Billy and Sophie in the near future as I know I am itching to read more about them and to see them get their happily ever after. 

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Hollywood Ending - Punk Ass Kids Tour

Fresh from the Turn Up Tour across the pond in America came Hollywood Ending with their UK Punk Ass Kids Tour. I'll keep this blog fairly short due to the fact that the show was almost identical to the Turn Up Tour show that I recently reviewed.

I attended two dates of the Punk Ass Kids Tour, one at The Wardrobe in Leeds and the other at The Garage in London with VIP tickets for both dates. Once again I have no bad words to say about the VIP with the band. They genuinely are some of the nicest people that I've ever met so if you go to a show of theirs do try and get a VIP ticket if possible. You also get the added bonus of being able to watch the band soundcheck, something which is more intimate and acoustic than the rest of the show.

Brad Kavanagh supported at both dates and Leeds gained an extra support in the form of Hill Valley High. Unfortunately I only managed to catch the last song of Hill Valley High's set but the crowd was certainly enjoying it. Brad Kavanagh already seemed to have a reasonable fanbase in the crowd with many singing along to his very catchy songs. For those who weren't aware of his music he slipped in covers of Rixton's, Me and My Broken Heart and Ed Sheeran's, Sing.

Hollywood Ending put on a high energy show at both dates that I attended. The set list was identical to the Turn Up Tour with the exception of You being switched with Girls, Girls, a song from the new EP. The band know exactly how to work the crowd and I can guarantee that everyone in attendance would've enjoyed the show. I attended both dates with people where Hollywood Ending wouldn't fall into their usual music tastes but both left having enjoyed the concert. For me, considering the band are young, it astonishes me just how professional performers they are.

For a band that is unsigned and writes and produces their own music they are certainly making an impact. Every single person in the crowd knew the words to every song including new ones which are yet to be officially released. I was skeptical about how UK crowds would react with Hollywood Ending being less known in this country but they certainly gave the Americans a run for their money. 

The bands music is completely and utterly my taste in music so I may be a little bias but if you see Hollywood Ending are performing at a venue near you I would definitely try make the effort to see them. For the £10 admission fee I can guarantee you'll have a good night seeing them perform.

Hollywood Ending's new EP, Punk Ass Kids is available for preorder on iTunes now

McBusted TourPlay

It's been over a year ago now since James Bourne and Matt Willis of Busted joined McFly on stage at their 10th year anniversary concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. Since then it has led to both bands forming the supergroup of McBusted and the collaboration has just gone from strength to strength from the minute it was officially announced last year. In the past year McBusted have sold out over 30 arena tour dates and Hyde Park in London. Now they're gearing up to release the first McBusted single, Air Guitar which is followed by a self entitled album on the 1st December and rumours are flying about another McBusted Tour. 

Yesterday I went to go and see McBusted's film TourPlay at a Vue Cinema. TourPlay documented the arena tour earlier in the year showing the tour from when the tickets were put on sale to seeing the live performances filmed from London's O2 Arena and Hyde Park. 

If you want to relieve the memories from the tour or if you weren't able to see it at the time this film is for you. Although seeing the concert in person was much better than on a screen it was worth seeing to see it again and to see the bonus behind the scenes clips slotted in between the songs. It was very interesting to see things such as how skeptical the band were about even selling out the original 11 tour dates, Danny revealing being starstruck that Tom knew Busted, then to see the tour actually be put together.

Although it was obvious when seeing the concert the film really emphases how close they are as a band. They've been friends for a lot of years and performing as a six piece seems a real natural thing for them to do. In the clips of them from backstage on then tour they seem genuinely good friends and it's so nice to see it documented. It is revealed constantly how the band are having such a good time it how the timing for McBusted is perfect. Right now all 6 members are having the time of their lives so for the time being it looks like we'll be seeing a lot more of McBusted.

I have loved Busted and McFly for over half of my life now so for me seeing my favourite bands on the large screen was fantastic. At times even a little emotional. Seeing clips of McFly from backstage of the Wonderland tour (the bands first ever arena tour back in 2005) flash up on the big screen for example really makes you realise how much they've grown up and you've grown up with them. At points I t is a real trip down memory lane. For a fan of McBusted this film, especially seeing it at the cinema, is everything you could want. I really enjoyed reliving the tour and seeing the backstage going on's. 

Unfortunately Tourplay was only shown for two nights at Vue Cinemas around the country so if you want to catch it the DVD is currently scheduled for release November 24th. 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Rodger and Hammerstein's Cinderella

On my recent trip to New York City I decided to go and watch Broadway shows. The one I was most eager about seeing was Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Cinderella has been remade on countless occasions and I can almost guarantee that you’ll have seen the Rodger and Hammerstein Cinderella before. My personal favourite is the 1997 movie staring Brandy. Cinderella is suitable for all ages, this performance was certainly family friendly but not childish enough to only be appreciated by the younger visitors.

Keke Palmer is currently playing the lead role of Cinderella and is the first African American to play the role. Looking at the Playbill, Palmer has appeared in everything so is well known in America. I however had never heard of her. Despite this, I didn’t go and see it just because of who was playing Cinderella. Personally, I thought she did a great job at playing the lead. Although vocally she may not have been as strong as the likes of original Broadway Cinderella Laura Osnes, I still found her performance enjoyable. I’ve read quite a few negative reviews of her performance but when you take into consideration it is Palmer’s Broadway debut and she is only 21 years of age I think they’re undeserved. Staring alongside Palmer as her stepmother is The View host, Sherri Shepherd and Joe Carroll as Prince Topher. 
The production itself was everything that I had expected Cinderella on stage to be like. Its magical stage effects were just superb at times. For example, one minute Cinderella is in her rag clothes and the next her clothes literally fly off her and she appears in a ball gown. The show was certainly visually fantastic at times! Quite amusingly in this performance Cinderella doesn’t lose her glass slipper but in fact hands it to the Prince, which received roaring laughter from the crowd. The songs are songs that you will have guaranteed to have heard in previous versions of Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella are so wonderful and will be stuck in your head for days. I know I’ve had the soundtrack I bought at the production of repeat since I left the theatre. 
Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella is only going to be showing at the Broadway Theatre in New York City until January 3rd 2015 so if you want to see the show you’d better grab your ball gown and glass slippers before it’s too late.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Solo Travelling

Travelling alone has a certain stigma around it. When you tell people that you are going on holiday alone you get the same reaction. Shock that you're going on holiday alone and many a mention of how brave you are. The lady I was sat next to on the airplane even asked if I didn't have any friends! It really shouldn't be the case. I'm far from brave just because I'm ok with spending time with myself!

I'm writing this in the departure lounge of Newark Liberty International Airport waiting to go home after a very successful solo holiday to New York City. During this trip I did things many people say they would never do alone, I attended Broadway shows, I went to a concert, I even ate in restaurants alone. People don't even do these things alone at home let alone on holiday and honestly I don't get the problem. 

You call all the shots. If you decide to go visit an attraction such as an art gallery you have no one moaning that they don't want to go, you can spend as long or as little time as you wish looking at the exhibitions with no one rushing you on. Isn't that the dream holiday? I know on this holiday in particular I attended Broadway shows that I wanted to see, no compromises happened. I decided what I wanted to go and see and when I wanted to see it and I bought a ticket without any worries that my companion wouldn't want to attend. Not every holiday will require you to get tickets to an event but I found that an advantage of going alone is you will tend to find good individual seats are available at the front even if you book very last minute. 

I ended up attending a concert alone this trip too. For one I don't think anyone I travelled with would be keen to go to a concert whilst in New York and I don't know if I would've got a ticket in the first place if I was with someone else. I didn't feel alone at the concert, I was talking to people about our favourite bands and songs and once the band were on stage it was very easy to forget I was alone. Who talks to someone when the artist is on stage performing anyway? This isn't the first time that I have actually attended a concert by myself and I wouldn't hesitate in doing it again. The big advantage of a concert is that you have something very big in common with the other people at the venue, you're all there to see the same performer. If you want to stand at the back by yourself you can but I find if you want to talk to people you have the concert artist in common to talk about.

For me the big issue with solo travelling was food. I have actually only ever gone to New York alone so this may not apply to other places. As well as tourists, New York is full of single business travellers. Due to this many restaurants cater for people alone with many restaurants suggesting that you sit at the bar and have your food there. Eating alone isn't as bad as you picture it being, particularly when you're surrounded by other people eating alone. I know the first time I went to New York alone I ate pretty much all my food from fast food takeout restaurants. This time I decided I wasn't doing this. You quickly realise the only person missing out on eating nice food at good restaurants is yourself. Do you really want to come back and tell people you only ate at McDonalds because you didn't dare go into a restaurant to eat by yourself? Plus you end up missing out on all the delicious food that is on offer.

Personally when it came to New York sightseeing I really enjoyed going solo. I put my headphones in and just walked. No one bothers stopping you to ask if you want a bus tour or other tourist attractions. You can just walk to wherever you want to, you can stop and look in whatever shops you want to look at, you can stop for a drink at a coffee shop that you like the look of, who doesn't want to do that on holiday? 

People don't think that you're at all odd in going alone. No one would even know that you're alone. I believe that the only thing that holds you back from solo travelling is yourself. Once you get through that barrier you'll have up full of all the worries about travelling alone you'll realise it isn't half as bad as you imagined it to be. 

I'd be lying if I said it's better than travelling with a companion. I wouldn't chose to go on holiday alone unless I had to. New York is a city I feel very comfortable in having visited many times, however if I want to visit a place I'd never been and none of my friends wanted to go or could afford to go then I wouldn't hesitate considering going alone. If you aren't sure about going on holiday alone or even just attending a concert alone, just do it. I can one hundred percent guarantee that it won't be as you expect it to be. If you go in with the attitude that it's odd to be alone then you won't have a good time, but if you go in with an open mind I can assure you'll have just as good of a time as if you had a travel companion with you.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Hollywood Ending - Turn Up Tour

Due to a bizarre series events which would be an entire blog post in itself, I ended up with a ticket to go and see Hollywood Ending on my recent trip to New York City. I have tickets to go and see the band perform during their Punk Ass Kids tour when they return to the UK at the end of the month so it was a pleasant surprise to be able to catch the Turn Up Tour in New York.

Support came from three bands. The Millennium, This Is All Now and Astro Safari USA. The Millennium started off the evening, getting the crowd nicely warmed up and even did a cover of Toxic by Britney Spears. This Is All Now was my favourite out of the supports and I have since downloaded their album. Despite the guitarist rushing off stage to be sick they did a great set and the crowd was loving them in particular after a cover of 5 Seconds Of Summer's popular song, Good Girls. Last on was Astro Safari USA who were my least favourite support band of the night. The bands music wasn't my taste of music and the rap style was the complete opposite to the others. From where I was positioned you could see band members from Hollywood Ending singing and dancing along in the wings throughout the support acts suggesting that they picked some of their personal favourite bands to support them. 

From then it was time for Hollywood Ending the band everyone had come to see. Having seen them for the first time only a few months ago as a support act I was very interested to see how they would pull off a headlining show. Truthfully, I thought they were fantastic. The high energy they brought to the stage didn't falter once throughout the set. It is clear that the New York City show was an important one to them with it being lead singer Tyler's home state and the crowd didn't disappoint in making it a memorable.

Hollywood Ending came onto stage performing upbeat song One Wish from their debut EP before heading straight into a cover of the Friends theme song, I'll Be There For You. Although I'm sure they've played this as a cover every night it felt an extra fitting song to cover whilst being in the home of Friends. The band proceeded onto Don't Let Me Down, which was obviously a fan favourite with the crowd even singing along to the rap in the middle of the song. Two new songs were performed on the night, Zero Gravity and Punk Ass Kids which were just as catchy as the bands other songs and seemed to go down with fans with some already knowing the words. Strangely enough one of the songs that got the biggest reaction was Grocery Store Rap, a song they posted on YouTube two years ago. Although it was very different it proved that they are capable of performing in a style different from their normal sound and fans clearly appreciated them performing it. Before you know it it was time for the encore of the latest single Freak Like Me and a cover of The Monkees hit I'm A Believer.

My only negative about the show is that they didn't perform for long enough! Hollywood Ending were only on stage for around an hour. I don't know if it was due to a venue curfew but I personally would've enjoyed a longer set. I certainly wasn't ready for them to go off stage when they did.

I was able to meet the band before the show and I have to say that they really are genuinely nice people which only adds to the bands likability. In my opinion with their catchy songs and infectious personalities it won't be long before Hollywood Ending are the next big thing. The band are currently tying up a tour of the US but they are on the way to the UK at the end of the month with concerts nationwide. If you see that they're performing at a venue near you I would highly recommend going. I know I for one cannot wait to see them again on there return to England.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Life In Outer Space - Melissa Keil

Life In Outer Space is set in Melbourne, Australia and the story revolves round geek and movie fan, Sam Kinnison and his friends Allison, Mike and Adrian. The group of friends keep themselves to themselves at school until new girl Camilla Carter starts their school. 

For me it is very important for me to like the main character and Sam truly is such a likeable character. From just a few pages in you are constantly routing for him. I know I became quite attached to him by the end and in many moments I so desperately wanted to leap into the novel and tell him the obvious to help him. Sam's friends are just as likeable and although they were not main characters I felt like I knew enough about each character for me to form my own opinions on them. They were featured enough to form opinions but not enough to detract from the main plot of Sam and Camilla's storylines. I tend to find one of the main characters unlikable in a novel. Despite this I very quickly warmed to a Camilla. She was such a well written character and her friendly, kind, shy at times personality won me over straight away.

Unusually this book was written from the males perspective. I tend to read books from the females. However, this did not put me off one bit and to be honest I don't think I would've enjoyed the book anymore if it was from Camilla's perspective instead of Sam's.   The book essential is just following Sam's day to day life but please don't let this put you off as it makes it so relatable. 

I just absolutely loved this book. What astonishes me most of all is that Life In Outer Space is in factor author Melissa Keil's debut. A fan of young adult books or not I couldn't give this book more of a recommendation. If you're looking for a lighter read but still want a heartwarming novel then this is for you. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will definitely be reading another novel by Keil. I have given this book 4 1/2 stars out of 5 solely for the fact that it did take me a couple of chapters to get hooked to the novel. 

4 1/2 stars out of 5

Life In Outer Space - Melissa Keil. Click here to buy from Waterstones

Friday, 5 September 2014

Kate Bush - Before The Dawn Tour

Before I start this review it's worth making note of the fact that I wasn't born for years after Kate Bush was originally very well known and I was merely accompanying someone who really wanted to go to the show. Due to this my review is based from someone who knows only two Kate Bush songs (one of which she didn't perform) and didn't really get the hype over her comeback concerts.

You could feel the excitement surrounding Kate Bush's comeback shows from the second I got to Hammersmith, after all these are her first set of concerts in over 30 years. A definite buzz could be felt from around the Hammersmith Apollo which only magnified in size when I took my seat. The excitement was emphasised when Bush took the stage to an astonishingly loud standing ovation. 

The concert itself was split into three very distinct sections. The first seemed for me seemed a gentle introduction to Bush. It was all about her and her voice as she sang through her songs. Honestly I had never heard of any of the songs she was singing in this section so I found it to be a little boring. However despite this the crowd was loving every minute of it and gave standing ovations after every song. On reflection is was enjoyable to be able to see her perform with little theatrical elements. 

It was when hit song, and the only song of the night that I knew, King of the Mountain was played when things started to get really interesting. It had suddenly turned into the kind of Kate Bush concert that I had described to me. It was visually astounding and frankly just plain strange at times but it was easily my favourite section of the night. It begun with confetti falling from the ceiling and then before you know it Bush was stranded at sea. It was simply the best theatrical production that I've ever seen during a concert. A helicopter flew over the crowd, strangely masked fish men patrolled, a living room was brought on and the stage was transformed into the ocean to name some of the effects. I found it impossible to draw my eyes away from the stage. Despite the fact that I thought the effects were fantastic I found that I paid very little attention to what was being sung. Usually I attend a concert to listen to my favourite songs being sung live whereas in this section of the Before The Dawn concert it celebrated theatrical elements more than her singing. I do think though that perhaps that wasn't a bad thing as the other sections did put more emphasis on her vocal performance. 

After a short interval the third section based on album Aerial began. Some lovely sky visuals were projected in this segment which provided a nice balance between the first two parts of the show. Interestingly the final section featured Bush's son Bertie McIntosh, who portrays the painter that on the album was originally played by Rolf Harris. Bertie even managed to get a newly penned track to sing himself. I felt the addition of Bertie provided a break from Bush's unique vocals. However, I'm sure fans who came would have probably preferred another Kate Bush performance in its place.

Kate Bush certainly gave her fans a show staying on stage for three hours. It was refreshing too to be watching a concert without a sea of cameras. The forced camera ban certainly made the audience appreciate what was happening on stage rather than what was happening through a screen. Although the concert wasn't one of my favourite events I've attended I honestly don't think my opinion matters. Because for the thousands of fans lucky enough to have a ticket to see her on her comeback at the Apollo it certainly was a night they wouldn't forget for a long time and well worth the wait. 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Popshack Live

Popshack Live is a concert targeted at teenagers hosted by popular YouTubers and Radio1 DJ's Dan and Phil. Popshack featured various up and coming artists, YouTubers and X Factor contestants. I attended the live event at the London's Indigo venue at the O2 last Saturday.

Considering the concerts target audience was teenagers I found Popshack Live to be very poorly organised. Tickets were so late in being dispatched that many, including myself, had to face fairly long but thankfully quick moving queues at the box office in the evening to pick up tickets. Due to this I was very concerned about what the organisation of the concert would be like.

I had VIP tickets to Popshack meaning that I had entry to a meet and greet before the show started with various bands and artists who were performing at the event, including Hollywood Ending the band I was attending the concert to see. Despite my concerns about organisation, the meet and greet soon cleared my doubts and was actually put together brilliantly. It's the first time I have attended a meet and greet which wasn't rushed at all. The room was incredibly hot and we had to wait a fairly long time to get into the meet and greet area but I think everyone in attendance would agree that it was completely worth it. It was refreshing to be able to actually have conversations with the artists instead of the usual quick hello and photo. Due to not recognising any other artist I only met Hollywood Ending, but from glances around the room every performer involved in the meet and greet session seemed to be making a effort to spend lots of time with fans who wanted to meet them.

The concert itself featured performer after performer, many only performing one or two songs each. Each artist performed a cover song which managed to get the crowd singing along throughout. Covers included hits like Teenage Dirtbag, I'm A Believer and Everything Has Changed. I really enjoyed that artists covered a popular song as it made performances much more enjoyable to know a song that was being sung. Performers included the likes of Union J, Matt DeFreitas, Bribry, Kingsland Road and Connie Talbot. Between performances hosts Dan and Phil kept things entertaining by doing live Dan vs Phil challenges, some even featuring the acts who we're performing. 

I thoroughly enjoyed my meet and greet experience and I did enjoy some of the acts but overall Popshack Live wasn't for me. However for the target audience I think this concert is fantastic. The audience seemed to know who every performer was and were constantly screaming with delight throughout every song that was sung. Considering the minimum ticket price was £15.00, a price I believe is quite achievable for a 15 year old to afford, it was a good evening. For the teens who are wanting a fun evening with their friends seeing some of their favourite singers and YouTubers I think Popshack Live fits the bill perfectly. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Ratatouille Ride - Disneyland Paris

I was lucky enough to experience the brand new Disneyland Paris Ratatouille ride, L'adventure totalement toquée de Rémy, during the soft opening last weekend. Based on the Disney Pixar film, Ratatouille, the ride itself is set inside a beautiful square complete with a cobbled pavement and a water fountain. To make the square more Ratatouille themed, beady eyed visitors will notice items such as customised rat manhole covers and rats decorating the fountain. As with everywhere in Disneyland Paris the square comes complete with a restaurant - Bistrot Chez Remy, and a gift shop. I had a quick peek into the restaurant as it is situated right by the rides exit and it looks magnificent. I am very eager to visit the restaurant on my next visit to Disneyland Paris. 

The ride itself is like nothing I've ever experienced before. The queue somewhat shrinks you down to the size of a rat before you've even sat down on the ride. You are made to feel like you're queuing on a roof top before being welcomed to the ride by Gusteau and being invited to collect a pair of 3D glasses. The immersive area to queue makes time pass quickly and before you know it you're being ushered onto the ride.

You ride the attraction in a rat shaped car which vaguely resemble the films lead rats Remy and Emile. The cars can fit in two rows of three people. From the moment you start to move the car glides effortless around the attraction. The ride shrinks you down to the size of a rat and you're being chased by Skinner and kitchen staff out of the restaurant. You fly under carts for example and genuinely feel like you're zooming around the kitchen. However, a sneaky look behind you will quickly reveal that you're not even moving at all despite feeling like you are. The 3D effects and the simulator that is in place on the ride are just superb. Just when you thought the ride couldn't get any better it throws some great 4D moments in. You are slightly sprayed by water and even roasted in an oven with fake (but very realistic looking) flames. 

I'm a frequent visitor to Disneyland Paris and it hasn't really had any amazing new rides or locations for a number of years. I should've ignored my skepticism that the ride/expansion wouldn't meet my high expectations as the ride was simply fantastic. Any review cannot capture just how wonderful the ride is and I just cannot recommend going to visit enough to experience it for yourself. It's truly a must visit attraction for the entire family. Well done Disneyland Paris!

If you want to visit Disneyland Paris and experience the attraction for yourself it opens to the general public on July 10th and is situated in the Walt Disney Studios park.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Fault In Our Stars - John Green

I am very late in reading John Green's book The Fault In Our Stars. It is now a worldwide sensation and has even been adapted into a film which is currently out at the cinema. From watching the film trailer it didn't look like it was going to be my type of book. After countless recommendations I decided to give the book a read after putting it off for a long time. I almost feel bad writing a negative review about a book about young people with cancer but it was one of the most boring books that I have ever read for most of the way through. The book follows the friendship of two teenagers with terminal illnesses.

I couldn't connect with the characters at all. The two leads Hazel and Augustus are two of the most boring people I have ever read about. They seem completely obsessed with their illnesses and don't speak like normal teenagers would. Yes I appreciate the fact that I don't know what a teen with cancer is feeling but I'm sure they act nothing at all like Hazel and Augustus do. For example, half a page is dedicated to Hazel discussing how unfair it is that eggs are solely served at breakfast. Simple plot points like that fact the couple share their first kiss in the Anne Frank museum and then the other visitors applauded frustrated me and it was enough to put me off the book until the next incident that frustrated me came along.

I can't say all bad things about this book. At the end of the day it did still end up managing to make me cry whilst reading on public transport at a certain point in the book. The last 20% or so of the book was a real turning point. I found some moments incredibly heartwarming and it really showed the value of family, love and friendship when it mattered the most. Although I didn't enjoy reading about cancer and the negative aspects that come with the disease if the entire book was more like the last few chapters I would've enjoyed it much more.

I do like the idea that Green has written this book. Not many books highlight the struggles of teenage cancer and for it to have been turned into a film too can only be a good thing in raising awareness. Unfortunately for me the book falls a little flat and it didn't meet the high expectations that people had given me. It did keep my attention towards the end but for most of the book I just wanted to skip through chapters to get to the end. I didn't enjoy reading about teenagers with terminal illnesses but I think you should read this book if you enjoyed the film. If like me you're just reading to find out what the hype is about I wouldn't recommend that you read it. Personally I didn't enjoy it therefore couldn't recommend it to others to read.

2 stars out of 5

The Fault In Our Stars - John Green. Click here to buy from Waterstones

Saturday, 21 June 2014

How To Date A Nerd - Cassie Mae

Zac is everything I love from a love interest in a young adult novel. I wish I could say the say the same about the other main character Zoe. Zac is kindhearted and would do anything for the people he loves. Zoe on the other hand only cares about fitting in at school.

I'm sure most people can at least somewhat relate to this book. It follows the story of Zoe who is struggling with a dual identity. She loves nothing more than to speak Elvish whilst reading an X-Men book. Unfortunately speaking Elvish is not the way to get into the popular crowd at school so she changes who she is much to her neighbour Zak's dismay. Zak, who is known as King Dork at school, was Zoe's best friend when she was still openingly into geeky things. In the process of becoming popular Zoe says some horrible hurtful words to Zak which causes them to not be friends. However, when Zoe needs help learning how to drive a manual car, Zak is the only one who can help her. Slowly but surely Zoe learns the important life lesson of being herself. 

I really enjoyed reading the story itself. Many will be able to relate to the struggles of fitting in at school. Zoe however takes fitting in to the extremes and says some very nasty things to the people who love her the most. A trait which I find makes her very unlikable and I find it astonishing that she is forgiven so easily for her actions and the things that she says. 

I'm giving this book 3 stars out of 5. Although I really did enjoy the storyline of the book I just disliked Zoe too much to give it a higher rating. I think however I may be a little older than the target age audience for this book. For a reader who is at high school and struggling with pressures of becoming popular I would recommend this book. Although Zoe is horrible most of the way through in the end she does what is the right thing and I feel younger readers would benefit from reading this.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Just In Case - Chrissie Manby

Just In Case is a short story following the lives of twins Clare and Rosie. The twins are as opposite as they come, Clare is uptight and dresses smart whereas Rosie is a carefree actress whose day to day dress code consists of tutus. Rosie and Clare are forced to spend a week literally in each other's shoes when a mishap with their suitcases forces them to have to wear each other's clothes.

I found the book very predictable. From the opening pages I soon established what would happen at the end. However, if you're looking for a book you can read in a couple of hours and don't mind it being predictable it's a good choice especially as it only cost 99p to download this book for kindle. I was going to give this book less stars out of 5, but considering I was hooked and didn't put it down once I started reading I upped my star rating. I would be very keen to read a full length novel from Manby. 

Saturday, 7 June 2014

One Direction - Where We Are Tour

No matter what your opinions of them and their music, it is undeniable that One Direction are one of the most popular bands on earth right now. I found myself with a ticket for their first show at Wembley Stadium last night. 

Support came from Australian group, 5 Seconds Of Summer who had also supported One Direction on their previous Take Me Home tour. They performed a number of crowd pleasers including recent hit She Looks So Perfect and new single Don't Stop. They certainly were a perfect warm up band and managed to get the crowd singing along to every word.

Despite the fact that One Direction have easily sold out the 90,000 capacity stadium for 3 nights, I just don't think that they had enough stage presence for a venue as large as Wembley Stadium. I have seen them at various points over the years and I have to say that it was the worst performance that I've ever seen them do.

It was revealed by the band that it had been 4 years since they were formed as a band at Wembley Arena and now they were performing at a sold out Wembley Stadium. Unfortunately despite this the band didn't seem as excited to be there as the fans were. Very little conversation took place and although at times they did look overwhelmed to be there I believe that their hearts didn't seem to be in it. Perhaps they were simply just too overwhelmed, but whatever the reason it didn't come across so well.

Although I thought it was one of the worst performances I've seen the band do it was a fairly enjoyable show. You can't deny that their biggest hits such as Live While We're Young and Kiss You, are very catchy and they didn't fail in getting most of the crowd up dancing when they sung them. I wasn't aware of a few of the album tracks from the newest album that they performed. Surprisingly this seemed to also be the case with many of the people stood near me, many of whom started playing on their phones when some of the more unknown tracks were performed. Wembley Stadium was the perfect venue for the hits but some others seemed to fall a little flat. The stand out songs at the concert were McFly penned Don't Forget Where You Belong which saw all the stadium light up throughout, previous album song C'mon C'mon and What Makes You Beautiful which arguably got the biggest cheer of the evening.

For the atmosphere alone it was worth going to the concert. I had access to the front standing zone with a good view of the stage and the very large runway. A big fault I thought was the fact that the band were not constantly shown on the screens. Although I had a perfect view of everything anyone any further back would've been struggling to see the band at all. The show was full of pyrotechnics and to see Wembley Stadium all lit up was fantastic. The major flaw of the stadium itself was the sound. I fully appreciate how loud a One Direction concert can be but at numerous points during the show, particularly when it was band member Niall's turn to sing, the crowd was so loud you couldn't hear him at all, just the sounds of screaming. With this being my first Wembley Stadium concert, I'm not too sure if this was a case of bad sound or if the crowd were just that loud.

Obviously if you're a huge fan of One Direction you will love the concert but if you're only a fan of the hits I would advise giving this tour a miss, save the £50 minimum admission fee and go see the movie when it comes out in December instead. 

Monday, 2 June 2014

McBusted Tour 2014

Today marks the end of the 2014 McBusted arena tour. I was lucky enough to experience not one but four tour dates, three of which I was in the front standing zone dubbed the OMFG zone. I have been a fan of McFly, James Bourne and Matt Willis for as long as I can remember so you can expect this review to be slightly bias.

I saw support acts Young Brando, E of E, The 3 Dudes and Hollywood Ending over the various dates I attended. The only one of the bands that impressed me was Hollywood Ending, an up and coming band from America, whose set featured catchy pop hits not too far away from the McBusted sound. Not so surprising when you discover one of the members is in fact James Bourne's younger brother. 

I was excited for the McBusted tour from the second it was announced. I have heard skeptical opinions about the super group collaboration, McFly haven't been able to sell out an arena tour for a number of years, Busted split up 10 years ago and this new venture didn't feature Busted member Charlie Simpson, could both bands really pull off this tour? The simple answer is yes. 

The concert begins with a flashback to January 14th 2005, a date that is engraved in any Busted fans mind. The press conference where Busted announce that they are to split is shown. Busted members James Bourne and Matt Willis then have to undertake a mission to go back to the future in order to perform with McFly. They appear on stage in a real life Delorean car before McFly literally pop up onto the stage. The introduction was very well thought through with the Back To The Future film references for McFly and the press conference for Busted and was a great way to introduce both bands onto the stage.

Considering they had only debuted McBusted at McFly's Royal Albert Hall concerts a few months earlier the whole band were playing tight together. It was like they always have been one band and not two.  The tour is just one hit after another, from the first chords to Air Hostess to the last strum of Year 3000, fans were singing along to ever word. You'd be surprised at how many hits the bands have had between them and the tour proved that collectively they're musical force to be reckoned with. The biggest surprise for me was that all 6 members of McBusted had the biggest smiles on their faces throughout the concerts. It was refreshing to see them all genuinely seeming to be having the time of their lives whilst on stage. Something which was never seen with Busted. For Busted members James and Matt the tour is the first time since Busted that either have performed to a sell out arena but for not one second would you think that it has been ten years. Both still ooze stage presence, perhaps even more so than when they were in Busted. 

It soon becomes apparent that the big selling point of the McBusted tour is Busted. The set list is jam packed full of Busted songs with a few of McFly's biggest hits squeezed in for good measure. Is this necessarily a bad thing? I don't think so. When they're performing the songs it genuinely feels like McBusted are performing them and not McFly singing Busted songs and visa versa. 

I feel as though all the band members have realised that this tour is more likely than not going to be a one off so have pulled out all the stops for the tour. From the Delorean entrance to the flying UFO bstage, the whole tour is just a whole new level to anything that McFly and Busted have ever done apart.

If you went to see the tour because you wanted a Busted reunion tour or you're a McFly fan or like me have supported them all over the years, the tour was definitely a success. Whether McBusted continue or the band members go back to life prior to McBusted, I'm very happy that they did the tour. I don't think anyone will look back at it and see that it hasn't been an accomplishment. Quite honestly it is one of the best live shows that I have seen in a long time and I'm so glad to have been in the crowd to witness it.

Sunday, 1 June 2014


I don't pretend to be a film expert and I don't often go and see films unless I really want to go and see them. Today, I went to go and see new release, Maleficent, which stars Angelina Jolie as the lead.

Maleficent is the hidden story of Disney's Sleeping Beauty villain. We all know the story, evil fairy Maleficent curses Princess Aurora, Aurora fulfils the curse by pricking her finger on the spinning wheel before being awoken by true loves kiss. The Maleficent film follows this plot still but from Maleficent's perspective. The film begins with us being introduced to a care free young Maleficent. We're introduced to her wonderful home in the moors where fairies and other mystical creatures live which looks visually stunning on screen. It doesn't take long before a human boy, Stefan, stumbles across the home of the creatures. Maleficent falls madly in love but it isn't long before Stefan wrongs her and steals her wings in order to become king. Maleficent seeks revenge so attends King Stefan's daughter Auroras christening, to gift her with the curse. 

Angelina Jolie is wonderfully cast as Maleficent, if I could have imagined how cartoon Maleficent would've looked as a real person, Jolie fits the bill perfectly. She portrays the heartache that Maleficent encounters wonderfully. It is worth going to see this film just on Jolie's performance alone.

I expected to see more of an evil Maleficent in this film. However, the scene where the curse is gifted upon Aurora is fantastic. You truely see Maleficent's wrath and for me is the stand out scene of the film. For the duration of the film you see a different side to Maleficent, the side that grows attached to the young Aurora and realises that she made a grave mistake in cursing her. 

Although this film is no match for some of some of Disney's standout films of late such as Frozen and Pirates of the Caribbean it certainly didn't disappoint. If you are a fan of the original Sleeping Beauty or are just eager to see Angelina Jolie's latest film, I wouldn't hesitant in recommending that you see the film. 

4 stars out of 5.

Maleficent is out in cinemas now. 

Saturday, 31 May 2014

50 Ways To Find A Lover - Lucy-Anne Holmes

For me 50 Ways To Find A Lover by Lucy-Anne Holmes was a complete wildcard book. It was a book that was recommended to me but has just been sat on my bookcase for a while. Putting off reading it for so long was a mistake; it really was an enjoyable read.

The lead character of the book, Sarah Sergeant, is an actress, though her acting career hasn't really taken off at all. Her parents see an advertisement looking for contestants for a new reality television program created to find love and mistakenly decide that it would be the perfect acting opportunity for Sarah. Reality tv is exactly the type of ‘acting’ role that Sarah didn't want to do but it makes her realise how pathetic her love life has become. 50 Ways To Find A Lover is about the ways in which Sarah attempts to find a relationship.  Her dating challenge started off reasonably successfully with speed dating, meeting someone she dubs Perfect Paul, who unsurprisingly turns out to be not so perfect. Sarah documents her attempts at finding the one through her online blog which is met with mixed relations from her friends and people that she dates. Her attempts at finding love include dates with a goth and a dad and his gay son.   

This book isn’t for everyone. Strong language is used frequently from the early pages of the book, so if you’re easily offended by it then this book probably isn’t for you. I found the language quite shocking when I started but once I got into the book it didn’t bother me at all. I really enjoyed the way the main character Sarah is written. I found her humour and general fumbling through life made it a pleasure to read. At many occasion throughout the book I actually found myself laughing out loud at some of the things that Sarah says and does. Yes, I it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but honestly if you’re looking for a book to read and are up for trying a book you probably wouldn’t have considered reading, I would recommend 50 Ways To Find A Lover.

3/5 stars out of 5

Saturday, 24 May 2014

You're The One That I Want - Giovanna Fletcher

Newly released You’re The One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher is the follow up to her debut novel Billy and Me. Having enjoyed Billy and Me, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of You’re The One That I Want and it did not disappoint.

The story begins present day at Maddy and Roberts wedding day where it soon becomes apparent that the bride has feelings for the best man Ben, who she has been friends with since she was very young. You’re straight away presented with Maddy’s dilemma of whether or not she’s walking down the aisle to marry the right man. At first I thought it would just be a case of Maddy having a crush on both men but it is soon discovered that it is a lot more complicated than that. The story flashes back to when the trio are 9 year olds and plays out the story across the years from both Maddy and Ben’s points of view until the age of 26 – Maddy’s wedding day. The story being told from both perspectives worked extremely well, the only negative I can find is that it would’ve been nice to have chapters seeing from Robert’s perspective. I personally found I found myself siding with Ben a lot of the way through due to the fact we aren’t told what Robert is thinking. Despite this his best friends chapter’s involve him in the story just as much as themselves. The only chapters from Robert come in the form of occasional snippets in between chapters which I only discovered to be parts of his wedding speech once I’d read several. I found myself absorbed in the book from an early stage, finding myself dying to know why Maddy ended up walking down the aisle to marry Robert. The characters themselves are quite relatable. Fletcher has created scenarios in the book which are easy to identify with making you have empathy with the three leads throughout. Due to this you share all the same pain and happiness the characters do whilst reading which I always class as a sign of a good book. I enjoyed the book the whole way through until the epilogue. Although it was nice to have closure on the characters, I personally would’ve liked a slightly different ending. Regardless of this I did enjoy being able to see how everyone’s happily ever after panned out and it definitely didn’t spoil the book at all.

You’re The One That I Want is everything that you want from a book. It was a delightful read which I think that would be the perfect book to take for a holiday read. Once again Giovanna Fletcher’s book has left me eager to read more from her and I can’t wait to see more of her books on my selves in the future.

4 stars out of 5


Hello to anyone who is reading my blog!

I have created this blog to post book reviews, concert reviews and just my own life ramblings. I've been feeling for a while that I want to get back writing more so this is my attempt in achieving this. I've currently just finished reading recently published book, You're The One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher, so that will more likely than not be my first review post on my blog.

Hope you enjoy reading my posts.