Saturday, 25 April 2015

All I Know Now - Carrie Hope Fletcher

I’ve expressed my dislike for how many books are being wrote by youtubers before but I’ve been very interested in reading Carrie Hope Fletcher’s book since the moment it was announced she was writing one. I don’t see her as a youtuber myself as I’ve always just known her as Tom from McFly’s sister who had an incredible voice when she used to post songs up on her MySpace page and now more recently for playing Eponine in Les Miserables on London’s West End.  

Carrie Hope Fletcher’s debut novel, All I Know Now is the ultimate help guide for teenagers which is the main age of her youtube audience. As Fletcher is an avid reader herself I had high hopes of All I Know Now being a good book but unfortunately it wasn’t for me. I think I made multiple mistakes with reading All I Know Now. First of all, I’m the same age as the author so even though I have different stories to go with what is being wrote about I pretty much know all of the things are being covered so I didn't benefit from reading the book. The biggest mistake that I think I made with All I Know Now is reading the book in one go like you would a normal book. I really think that the best way to read this book is to pick it up when you need certain pieces of advice. For example, if you have a relationship problem, pick it up and read that chapter. I found reading it in one go to be a little boring but that may be due to the fact that I don’t need to know the information and advice that’s being given.   

Now the negatives are out of the way I can move onto what I enjoyed about the book. My favourite thing was how the book was laid out like a theatre performance, which I thought was a nice nod towards Fletcher’s West End career. It was complete with acts and even had an interval half way through the book. Fletcher has given herself the title of an honourary big sister and I’m sure alot of her audience do see her as a big sister. Personally I was quite comfortable talking about problems I had with a parent or friends when I was a teen but for those who don’t this book will be great for them. It doesn’t necessarily tell you how to live your life but more advises you on the right way to go about doing things such as what to do if you have an argument with a friend or how to cope with bullies. The advice given is accompanied with real stories from Carrie’s teenage years which only helps to reinforce how it is good advice to follow. I really enjoyed the way that the book is written too. The language used is very good for the style of book and the age range it is targeted towards, and at times it does feel like it’s a friend writing you a facebook message rather than just a book giving advice. I also think that the addition of useful contact information for various different help organisations at the back of the book was a nice addition for those who are seeking more help but may not be too sure how to go about getting it. 

If you know a teenage girl who likes Carrie Fletcher, she will love this book and it might even help her through the sticky situations every teenager goes though. If you’re an older fan of Carrie’s you may enjoy reading her anecdotes but probably won’t enjoy All I Know Now as much as her younger fans. If you want a copy of All I Know Now I’d pick up a copy sooner rather than later, or order online to avoid disappointment. My local Waterstones was nearly all out of stock, only two days after its release when I popped in earlier today. Fletcher is also undertaking a book tour in a few weeks at Waterstones so check out their events page to see if she’s coming to a Waterstones near you.   

All I Know Now – Carrie Hope Fletcher. Click here to buy from Waterstones.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Pepped Up - Ali Dean

Pepped Up follows the story of sixteen year old Pepper Jones. You'll quickly discover that Pepper loves running and is extremely good at it. I have to give author Ali Dean some major credit for every scene where Pepper is running. I don’t run unless I really have to in order to catch a bus, yet somehow with Dean's descriptions of Peppers running and training I felt the overwhelming urge to go for a jog every time I picked this book up to read. 

Pepper's life is complicated by one thing, or more specifically one person, her best friend and the school's football playing heartthrob, Jace Wilder. Pepper and Jace are neighbours but due to Pepper's parents dying in a car accident and Jace's parents abandoning him when he was young, they both end up being brought up by Pepper's grandma, meaning that their friendship is more like siblings. Unfortunately for Pepper she has started to see Jace as much more than a friend and little does she know her feelings are reciprocated. 

Personally I can’t see why Pepper likes Jace. The book is obviously playing at the good girl liking the bad guy kind of relationship but to me Jace just seemed a complete tool. I started to dislike him even more once he started becoming even more distant from Pepper when he started drugs. Despite drugs and drinking being a large part of the book, the author doesn’t glamourise it at all which I like. It certainly isn’t seen in a positive light. Jace was also very controlling of Pepper and didn’t approve of her dating anyone even though he doesn’t make a move to date her himself. Although he did have some moments where I started to like him on the whole I didn’t warm to him one bit.

The book tumbles through Pepper's feelings for Jace until the new kid in school and fellow runner, Ryan Harding, comes along. Although he is sporty like Jace, aside from that they're polar opposites. Ryan has only ever had one long term relationship, Jace seems to flirt with any female with a pulse, Ryan is laid back, Jace is uptight, the list of opposites is endless. Most importantly Ryan seems to really like Pepper as more than a friend, something that Jace fails to do. Before you know it, Pepper is faced with a decision. Can she be in a relationship with Ryan when she has such strong feelings for Jace? 

I found myself getting constantly frustrated at this book. Not because it was it was a bad book because it isn’t but because Pepper doesn’t end up with who I ultimately wanted her to. It’s my main issues with love triangles. Pepped Up has a sequel which I am very excited to read. I hope it’ll give me answers to questions that I have and find out how Pepper’s relationship progresses. If you’re a fan of young adult books and love triangle relationships you’ll love this book. I’ll certainly be adding Pepped Up book number 2 to my must read pile.

Pepped Up - Ali Dean. Click here to download the kindle edition

Synopsis -

Pepper Jones is ready for an epic cross country season. She wants to qualify for Nationals, and she’s willing to do anything it takes to make it happen. She can handle long miles and hill sprints, but boys? That’s an entirely different challenge.

Pepper’s never considered revealing her deeper feelings for her longtime friend, Jace Wilder. After all, he’s got the personal magnetism and good looks to hook just about any girl in town — and he has. Their friendship stands apart from high school social circles, and they’re both just fine with that (or at least they pretend to be).

That is, until running star Ryan Harding moves to town.

When it comes to running, Pepper’s goals are clear. But when it comes to Jace and Ryan, it’s nowhere near as simple.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Cinderella The Exhibtion

London’s Leicester Square has been the home to some of the world’s largest movie premieres over the years. Now, coming straight from the set of the movie, the square is home to a free exhibition full of many of the sets and props from Disney’s brand new Cinderella movie until the 10th April of this year. 

The exhibition itself requires a free timed ticket to attend which enables you to freely move around the exhibition without lots of people, allowing you to fully experience all that is to see without too much of a crowd around.

The first room of the exhibition is the heritage gallery which is full of never before seen artwork from the original cartoon Disney Cinderella film and various other Disney memorabilia. It’s truly a must see for any Disney fan. 

The next few rooms take on straight into the heart of the film with you being able to walk through, Cinderella’s home, the cellar, the garden, the palace forecourt and the royal ball. Unfortunately I am yet to see the new Cinderella film but that doesn’t devalue your enjoyment of the exhibition, however I’m sure it’ll only enhance your enjoyment of the film after you’ve seen the sets in person. Knowing the story of Cinderella so well it genuinely feels like you’re living the life of Cinderella herself as you’re walking through the set pieces. I personally enjoyed seeing the level of detailing in every single piece of the set, in particularly the costumes. 

The palace forecourt and the royal ball set rooms are my personal favourite. The golden carriage is simply stunning in real life, the level of detailing in it is wonderful. Then you walk into the royal ball and it takes your breath away. The outfits of Cinderella and the Prince are twirling around the centre of the room surrounded by the costumes of the various attendees of the ball. 

It comes no surprise that Cinderella’s dress has 10,000 Swarovski crystals all over it; sparkling away, it completely fits the fairytale ball gown image. Then as you think that nothing can top how beautiful the dress is, your attention to drawn to the glass slipper. 150 hours of design was undertaken to design the perfect glass slipper for the movie. Quite honestly, it doesn’t disappoint. I can’t stress how much photographs don’t capture just how wonderful it is in real life. It looks like something out of this world, which is very appropriate considering they were put on Cinderella’s feet by magic.

Just as you think it can’t get any better the exhibition gives you the opportunity to become a princess, something which I’m sure every female has dreamt about once upon a time. A free experience is available where through the magic of an iPad you are able to have a glass slipper put on your own foot. The photo is then emailed across to you for free. Males and females, young and old were queuing up to get this experience so it certainly isn’t just something for the little girls to get involved in.

Everyone who knows the story of Cinderella or is interested in film sets and seeing some fabulous costumes will enjoy the exhibition. It’s unbelievable that this exhibition is free and I would highly recommend trying to visit before it leaves London in April.  

You can book tickets to the exhibition online on Ticketmaster now or you can pick up a ticket in Leicester Square on the day that you wish you attend.   

For more information on the exhibition visit -

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Cats The Musical

Cats The Musical is something that reminds me of visiting London as a very young child. To this day I can still remember seeing the Cats signs outside a London theatre and wanting to go despite not knowing a thing about the musical. Despite the shows hit song, Memory, being one of my favourite songs from a musical I had still never seen the show up until last weekend where I attended one of the evening performances of Cats at London’s Palladium. 
Although my seat was up in the upper circle the first thing that you notice is the spectacular stage. I’ve seen many a West End musical production but the Cats stage is wonderful. The junk yard set spills out all around the stage and interestingly has 24 different exit and entrance points. Once the show starts it is clear that the lines between audience and performers is blurred with Cats appearing from all around the audience and with attendees of the production being invited on stage during the interval to meet one of the Cat’s, Old Deuteronomy. What I particularly liked is that once the show restarted after the interval, Cats started crawling back onto the stage before the house lights had even gone down.
The musical itself I found to be somewhat a disappointment. Although I didn’t have a clue what to expect from Cats, I had such high expectations and unfortunately it just didn’t reach them. The story revolves around the Jellicle cats who meet once a year at the Jellicle Ball. It is here that their leader, Old Deuteronomy chooses one cat to go up to the Heaviside Layer and begin a new Jellicle life. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch what a Jellicle cat was when it was it was explained at the beginning of the musical and although I got the grasp of what was going on I didn’t fully understand which ultimately I feel made me not get maximum enjoyment from the show. Although the musical wasn’t what I expected and I didn’t follow so much I can fully appreciate the dancing in the show. I’ve never really seen a show which focuses so much on the dancing element but Cats was high on its game with dancing. The entire cast are fantastic and at some points in the show they are extremely realistic to a cat. At this point I have to mention the superb designs of the Cats costumes, the level of detailing was incredible and truly helped you to believe you were watching real cats and not actors playing cats especially as every cat had its own unique colouring and markings.
Kerry Ellis, who is more known for her performance as Elphaba in Wicked, plays a fantastic performance as Grizabella the glamour cat. Who although isn’t on stage so much is ultimately one of the main characters. She provides a stunning performance of Memory arguably even matching Elaine Paige’s version. Her performance is one of those which make your hairs stand on end as it is so powerful and wonderful. It was everything I could’ve wished to hear for my first listen of Memory live in a theatre.
Although Cats wasn’t really my favourite musical at the end of the day it is a popular long running West End show and provides all the good elements of one. Considering my seat cost me only £20 and I still had a fantastic view I can’t complain one bit. If you’re looking to see a West End show that isn’t going to break the bank, go see Cats. However, my advice would be to perhaps do some background reading so you know more of the story. If you do chose to go and see the musical before it leaves London on April 25th go check out the Jellicle Ballroom in the Palladium which is open 2 hours before a performance. It is full of costumes from the show, art designs and free face painting. 
For more information on Cats The Musical click here

Thursday, 9 April 2015

McBusted - The Most Excellent Adventure Tour 2015

Within a few seconds browsing my blog it's pretty obvious that I'm a fan of McBusted which has only made it all the more difficult to write a reasonably unbiased review of their latest tour, The Most Excellent Adventure Tour. I'm completely loving the whirlwind that is McBusted but even despite claims from band member James that this tour was going to top the 2014 tour I was skeptical. They landed on stage in a Delorean on the 2014 tour and was jam packed full of hits from both bands, now armed with a brand new McBusted album would they be able to pull of a tour as good as the first? 

From the opening entrance video which see's the band placed inside an arcade machine, it is clear that the Most Excellent Adventure Tour revolves heavily around video games and all things retro. Popping up from below the stage onto the worlds largest working arcade machine and singing hit Air Guitar complete with a guitar hero game background, it set the tone for how the rest of the tour was to go. Air Guitar led straight onto new album track Hate Your Guts before continuing onto McFly fan favourite One For The Radio. The band continue to play hit after hit including McBusted single, Get Over It, What Happened To Your Band and one of my personal favourite Busted songs, Thunderbirds before heading off to the back of the arena for the b stage segment of the show. 

The band entered the b stage on a flying Delorean, creating parallels with the 2014 tour. The b stage section is notoriously known as being the more disappointing section of the show but McBusted completely dispelled this. Hits Air Hostess, What I Go To School For and Obviously completely kept the audience captivated. McBusted then performed Beautiful Girls Are The Loneliest which I feel is the perfect showcase of just how talented the band are, with just James and Danny preforming the song acoustically.  

It's not every day you see your favourite band walking through the arena to get back to the main stage in a mock up wedding, where Dougie makes a beautiful bride, Matt the groom and the rest of the band as bridesmaids throwing confetti around the happy couple. Echoing once more to last year's tour where Matt wore a dress during the same song, Crashed The Wedding. From then the setlist see's James riding round the stage on a bike for the appropriately named song Riding On My Bike before the band take the opportunity to embarrass the crowd with a kiss cam during All About You.

Then before you know it, it's time for the encore. Finishing with hugely popular songs 5 Colours In Her Hair, Shine A Light and Year 3000. The concert is just over so quickly and even despite playing a 2 hour set I'm sure all of the audience left the concert wanting even more. 

You know that a concert is good when there is not one moment in the entire set you could imagine planning running off for a toilet break. Every single song appears to be a crowd favourite with every person in the crowd singing and dancing along to every song with as much enthusiasm as the first. Although McBusted now have a self entitled album full of brand new songs to work with they don't seem out of place at all with them blending in perfectly with the classic hits of both Busted and McFly. I think the set list was a perfect mix of songs pleasing fans of both bands individually and fans that have joined since the McBusted hype.

The band are just really nice people and they still genuinely seem to be six people having the time of their lives on stage with their friends. I don't know know how long they can keep up McBusted before going their separate ways once again so I could not recommend going to see them more whilst you can . McFly and Busted have a real musical stigma revolving around them but they are really talented band. My opinion? Go to a McBusted concert, you will not regret it.

The Most Excellent Adventure Tour finishes in England April 19th.