Friday, 26 June 2015

McQueen The Play

McQueen The Play tells the story of the famous fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who is referred to by his first name Lee for the majority of the play. Despite it being five years since McQueens death, interest in him has never been higher with an exhibition at V & A museum currently open as well as the play. 

Truthfully, I knew very little about McQueen himself. I think however knowing the bare minimum is enough and even if you're not his biggest fan before you go into the play it will not spoil your enjoyment at all. The play is wrote by James Phillips and it is predominately quite a serious play although it does offer some more lighthearted dialogue which had the entire audience chuckling. 

Walking into the theatre McQueen (played by Stephen Wight) is already on stage clearly having an internal battle with his mind. It took a few moments to notice that he was fiddling with a belt, the item of clothing famous known for assisting his suicide leading me to believe the play may in fact begin with his death. Thankfully this isn't the case! When the play begins Lee is soon introduced to Dahlia (played by Dianna Agron) who breaks into his house to steal one of his dresses. Lee ends up befriending her and the pair spend a whirlwind night together in London. Dahlia ends up being so much more than just a burglar after taking a pretty dress to wear. Acting from both Wight and Agron is superb. The pair work well together on stage and really bring to life their characters, it is worth seeing McQueen for their acting alone.

St James Theatre was the perfect venue for McQueen. It's small, intimate setting where every seat felt like being front row provided the audience with the opportunity to get really into the play. I know that I felt like that I was physically living through the night with Lee and Dahlia. The scenes were wonderfully portrayed throughout. My favourite being the opening scene where is was impossible to tell which of the mannequins were fake and which were real people. I also enjoyed how scenes changed, my favourite being when Lee and Dahlia took an underground trip. 

I went into the St James Theatre expecting the unknown. I didn't know what to expect or if I'd even enjoy McQueen at all. However, McQueen is an intense, intimate and enjoyable performance. Unfortunately the plays last show is 27th June so if you want to see the play you must hurry and get tickets.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Dream A Little Dream - Giovanna Fletcher

Giovanna Fletcher is one of my favourite authors. I absolutely love the way in which she writes her books, not to mention the fact the covers of her books always have the most beautiful designs. Due to this, I had high expectations for Fletcher's new novel, Dream A Little Dream. Well, it's safe to say that Giovanna Fletcher has completely stepped it up a notch from her other 2 books. Dream A Little Dream is fantastic!

Dream A Little Dream tells the story of Sarah. Sarah is in a job that she is never going to get the promotion that she was promised to get one day when she got the job and hasn't had a serious relationship since her ex Dan left her for Lexie. Sarah's parents think she's a disappointment, she has to continue seeing her friends (including Dan and Lexie) without letting them know that it does bother her hanging out with her ex but despite all this she's relatively happy. Then one day, Sarah starts having nightly dreams about being in a relationship with Brett Last, a guy she last saw years ago when he visited Sarah's university to see Sarah's friends brother. Dream Brett is everything Sarah wants from a relationship and her dreams about him even start to become a little raunchy. There's nothing wrong with dreaming about someone until the new guy starts at Sarah's workplace, who of course turns out to be Brett. Sarah just can't wrap her head around the situation. She knows everything about dream Brett and even makes herself look silly in some situations such as making real Brett, dream Brett's coffee order when real Brett doesn't even like coffee. Sarah is head over heals for dream Brett, can real Brett like her and ever live up to her dreams expectations?

I absolutely loved this story. Sarah's dreams were completely realistic which made is all the more believable how much of a tangle she was in when real Brett started at work. Sarah and her friends were all really normal people and relatable which only helped to make Dream A Little Dream a good read. I really like the way that Fletcher writes her books. I particularly like that she links all her books together - I noticed a sneaky mention of Billy Buskin from her debut novel Billy & Me in this book. This book isn't just your typical romance novel as the guy she's dreaming about technically doesn't exist and it also explores some pretty serious topics with Sarah's flatmate which I can't say what happens as it'll give away a big spoiler! 

My only gripe about this book is that I almost threw my kindle out the window at the end of the book. I was not happy with how it ended at all! I desperately need another book already about Sarah and Brett. I don't feel like I got enough closure on how they ended up for my liking. That certainly does not make Dream A Little Dream a bad book though, I just want to read more of it.  

I really enjoy reading Giovanna Fletchers books and personally I think Dream A Little Dream is her best so far. If you read this book and enjoy it as much as I did, Fletcher is also doing a few book signings this week around the country if you want to go and get your copy of Dream A Little Dream signed. 

Click here to buy Dream A Little Dream - Giovanna Fletcher from Waterstones. 

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Dismissed - Kirsty McManus

Brandon Thomas isn’t like other teachers. He’s very young and is a rock star on the side. Of course his good looks have every girl in the school swooning over him including Lizzie White. Lizzie isn’t the kind of girl who’d normally be besotted over a teacher; she’s quite mature for her age and smart. Unfortunately, Lizzie’s best friend, Taylor, see’s him first so automatically puts her stake in him and due to that fact that Brandon is forbidden to have any form of relationship with a student, a relationship between them both cannot happen. However, there’s something about Brandon that Lizzie just can’t get out of her head so instead of dwelling on it she throws herself into a relationship with classmate Gabe which ultimately only ends up confusing her feels and hurting her in the long run even more. 

Although I’ve read a lot of books from this genre, I’ve never actually read a book that focusses on a teacher student relationship before. Unfortunately that story plot just wasn’t for me. Although the age difference between Lizzie and Brandon wasn’t anything to be frowned upon, I just found the whole concept weird. I never had the whole crush on a teacher thing at school so perhaps that may have something to do with the fact I couldn’t jell with the story. Despite this, I still ended up reading Dismissed in a weekend so I think if you’re a fan of this kind of story plot you will absolutely love this book. 

Lizzie is a likable character even if Taylor does completely walk all over her. I particularly liked Lizzie’s loyalty when Brandon’s twin brother, Jason, invites Taylor back to his place which he shares with Brandon. Although she knew it was wrong to be in a teachers apartment, especially one that she has feelings for, she sticks by her friend to make sure that she doesn’t get into trouble. Even though she sticks by Taylor, Taylor isn’t so nice to her back which only escalates more and more as the book progresses. However, I think all the teenage characters are believable and illustrate the confusing emotions that you have as a seventeen year old. 

The adult characters are equally as well fleshed out. Brandon knows that it’s more than his lives worth to fraternize with students and he tries so hard to keep up the barrier he has between himself and Lizzie and does everything in his power to stop his brother from getting involved in his students too. His twin brother, Jason on the other hand was completely the opposite and flirts with any legal girl with a pulse. Interestingly it’s discovered later in the book that he in fact has another side to him. I actually would quite like to read a book told about Jason. My disappointment character was Lizzie’s dad. He’s portrayed as quite a main character but very little is revealed about him. However, I don’t think that the lack of information and detailing about him ruins the enjoyment of Dismissed one bit.    

Even though Ive discovered that books teacher/student storyline aren't my plot of choice, I think that if you’re a fan of young adult, forbidden romance book you will love Dismissed. 

Synopsis – 

The second Lizzie White lays eyes on her new English teacher Brandon Thomas, she is hooked. Brandon is young, cool and sexy - and nothing like the other teachers at her school. But of course he is forbidden from fraternising with the students or forming any sort out of outside hours relationship. And combined with the fact that Lizzie's best friend Taylor declared her feelings for Brandon first (and has therefore claimed theoretical ownership), Lizzie decides it's all too hard and focuses on a budding relationship with fellow student and class clown Gabe instead. But then Jason shows up. Jason is Brandon's trouble-making twin brother who seems to have no qualms about flirting with students or leaving a trail of broken hearts wherever he goes. Before she knows it, Lizzie is dragged into a confusing world of blurred lines and lustful thoughts, where loyalties are tested and true feelings are explored. 

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard

Mare Barrow lives in a world that is divided by the colour of blood, Red and Silver. Silvers not only live a better life than the Reds in general, but they are also gifted with abnormal powers such as being very strong or the ability to control fire. Mare has red blood and lives her life as a pickpocket in the poor Red village of Stilts. Mare has no skills, unlike her sister her was able to work for the Silvers, so she was just destined to be sent off to the war. That is until one night when her life changes forever and she is summoned to work as a Red servant in the royal household and her supernatural power that Mare didn’t know she had is revealed. Then suddenly before she knows it Mare ends up having to pretend to be Silver royalty and engaged to one of the Princes. Having to pretend to be Silver, Mare noticed more and more differences between Red and Silver so decides to secretly join the Red's Scarlet Guard who are fighting for change. 
I’ve read alot of mixed reviews about Red Queen so I held off a little while to read it but I wish that I hadn’t, I can’t even begin to explain how much I enjoyed this book. Truthfully when I started reading, I didn’t instantly love this book. It does take a few chapters to get into the world and to understand what is going on but once I did I was hooked and I just could not stop reading.  You are living Red Queen through Mare’s point of view and you really do feel every emotion that she does. I’m pretty sure that I went through every single emotion possible when reading Red Queen. I got far too attached to the characters so the betrayal in particular just tore me apart. Unlike most of the books in the this genre I didn’t see any of the twists coming which only added to why I loved the book so much. 
Mare is such a likable character and it was great to read it from her perspective. As a Red she hasn’t grown up with the ways of the Silvers and because of this she has her faults but at the end of the day is extremely loyal and brave, which for me this is one of the reasons that she was a good main character to read about. She had to learn fast who to trust whilst living as a royal and due to that you trust who she trusts. Mare tries so hard to do the right thing but it doesn’t seem to work out so great for her due to the constant manipulation and betrayal coming at her from every angle. Everyone she encounters isn’t just a two dimensional character, they all seem to have multiple layers and secrets that they’re hiding. I can’t wait to see how some of the characters will flesh out even more in particular Prince Cal. 
The love triangle or perhaps more accurately love square that is going on between Mare, Kilorn her best friend from her time as a Red and both Prince Cal and Maven is played out nicely. If you’re not into romance it’s not a huge part of the book but I think that it adds to the Red Queen. Personally, I’m very interested to find out how the love triangle will play out in future novels.  
I love the way that Aveyard has written this book. It’s been a long time since a book has grabbed me so much. The twists of the book were so brilliant and I can see it working so well as a film one day. I am so excited to see what happens to the characters in book number two, which I already need in my life despite it not being released for a long time. I completely predicted what would happen to Red Queen incorrectly so I just can’t imagine what twists are going to hit me in book two.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

VIP Polar Bear Experience - Yorkshire Wildlife Park

It's no secret that I love the Yorkshire Wildlife Park (click here for the post I've done about the entire park) and even less of a secret that my favourite animals in the park are Victor and Pixel the polar bears. So when the opportunity arose to go on a VIP Polar Bear Experience I couldn't resist.

The day starts off early, an hour before the park opens to the general public which only enhances the experience. For the whole time you're doing the experience it feels as though you're doing something really special as you're the only non staff members in the park for the duration. 

You're taken behind the scenes to help prepare the food that would later be used to feed the polar bears. We were shown the chart which shows what each animal in the park has planned for dinner each day which I found extremely interesting to see. On the day of my experience the polar bears were to eat a selection of fruit included pears and melon (which we helped to chop), eggs, horse meat and then a scatter feed of fish in the enclosure. Whilst in the food preparation area we were lucky enough to see one of the park's lionesses, Julie, staring at us from the other side of the bars.

We were then led to Project Polar, home of Victor and Pixel the polar bears where I got the opportunity to feed both the polar bears. It was incredible to see Victor and Pixel up close, you can't even begin to explain the sheer size of them until you're right next to them, in particular the size of 16 year old Victor. It was such a wonderful experience to be able to feed them both. Considering how big and dangerous polar bear are known to be in the wild, Victor and Pixel were so gentle in taking the food off the tongs. It's impossible not to want to spend all day with them! 

Having visiting the park quite a lot even the experience of being let into the polar bear enclosure to hide food and place toys for them was fantastic. It was so strange to see the view that Victor and Pixel will see and when you're down there yourself you really do get the feel of how large the enclosure actually is. It was unbelievable to then be able to open the gates that led Pixel and Victor into the enclosure and then watch them sniffing out the food I'd just hidden for them. 

The whole experience is then finished off in the park's Safari Cafe where you're treated to a complimentary breakfast before you're free to explore the rest of the park. The cafe service was great and the breakfast is delicious. 

The polar bear experience is quite expensive at £300 for two people but I personally thought it was worth every penny. How many people can say they've had the opportunity to feed not one but two polar bears? Vicky, the staff member who did my tour was fantastic. She was so enthusiastic about all the animals in the park and was more than happy to answer all our questions. I really love Victor and Pixel and to get so up close to them really is a one in a lifetime experience. If you know someone who loves polar bears and wants a more hands on experience with them or just loves Victor and Pixel then this really is a must buy experience for say a birthday or even just a treat. The park also offers VIP tours with other animals if polar bears aren't your thing. Yes it's expensive but truthfully I haven't stopped talking about it since, it was one of the best things I've ever had the opportunity to do.