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.