Sunday 16 June 2024

Fun Things to do this Summer in London | Festivals, Food, Theatre and More...

Summer in London is always brimming with vibrant events and 2024 is no exception. Whether you're a music lover, theatre enthusiast, or just looking for a fun day out, there's something for everyone. Here's a roundup of some must-see events happening in the city this summer.

Taste of London Festival: From 12th-16th June the Taste of London festival is back at Regent’s Park, featuring top chefs, interactive workshops, and a variety of gourmet delights. This event is perfect for those looking to explore the culinary scene and try new dishes from some of the best restaurants in the city.

BST Hyde Park: BST Hyde Park is back and bigger than ever. This year's lineup is stellar, featuring Robbie Williams, Andrea Bocelli, Kylie Minogue, and Stevie Nicks among others. The festival promises not just incredible music but also gourmet food, drinks, and a posh VIP area for those looking to splurge a bit. It's happening across weekends in June and July, so mark your calendars!

Somerset House Summer Series: From July 11-21, Somerset House will host its Summer Series, offering a magical experience in the heart of the city. Expect performances from Pip Millett, Corinne Bailey Rae, and legend Patti Smith, among others. This series is known for its eclectic mix of artists and intimate setting in the iconic courtyard. A perfect summer outing!

Kaleidoscope Festival: Taking place on July 13 at Alexandra Palace, the Kaleidoscope Festival is a treat for those who love a mix of music and more. The lineup includes Soul II Soul, Ministry of Sound Classical, and Erol Alkan. Beyond the music, enjoy comedy, science workshops, and acrobatics. It's a festival that truly lives up to its name and offers a colourful array, suitable for every interest.

Wireless Festival: From July 12-14, Finsbury Park will be buzzing with the sounds of Wireless Festival. With headliners like Nicki Minaj, Doja Cat, and 21 Savage, it's a haven for hip-hop, R&B, and grime fans. Expect high energy, massive production, and plenty of surprises.

Mean Girls the Musical: Running until October 27, Mean Girls is finally in the West End. This adaptation of the classic film by Tina Fey is just as hilarious and entertaining. It's a must-see for fans of the movie and anyone looking for a good laugh. We loved it on Broadway!

Kew the Music: Kew Gardens will be hosting its annual Kew the Music series from July 9-14. This year's lineup includes fantastic artists like MIKA, JLS, and Beverly Knight. Enjoy an evening of great music in the beautiful setting of Kew Gardens. Bring a picnic or indulge in the delicious food and drink stalls on offer.

Zoo Nights at ZSL London Zoo: For something a bit different, check out Zoo Nights at ZSL London Zoo, running until July 26. Enjoy live music, street food, and after-hours tours of the zoo. It's a unique way to experience the zoo and learn about its nocturnal inhabitants.

Hampton Court Palace Festival: Just outside London, the Hampton Court Palace Festival from June 11-22 offers an enchanting setting and a fantastic lineup, including Tom Jones, Sam Ryder, and Paloma Faith. With the historic palace as a backdrop, it's a concert experience like no other.

Battersea Park in Concert: This August, Battersea Park will transform into an open-air concert venue featuring classical (Proms in the Park), West End (A Night at the Musicals), and jazz music (Ronnie Scott's Jazz Orchestra). Perfect for a summer evening, attendees can enjoy live music while indulging in delicious food and drink​.

London's summer calendar is packed with incredible events that cater to all tastes. Whether you're into music, theatre, or unique experiences, you'll find plenty to enjoy in the city this summer. So, grab your tickets and get ready for an unforgettable season!

If you have an event happening between June and August that you'd like added, just send us an email, we'll be updating this post throughout the Summer.

Wednesday 12 June 2024

Magic, Love, and Books 'A Novel Love Story' by Ashley Poston Enchants | BOOK REVIEW

A Novel Love Story by Ashley Poston
Published: 25th June 2024 by HQ

Ashley Poston’s A Novel Love Story is a delightful dive into the whimsical world of Eloraton, where books are not just read, but lived. This book is a love letter to every book lover out there, capturing the joy, escape, and sense of home that only a good story can provide.

The story follows our protagonist, Eileen Merriweather, who discovers the mysterious and quaint town of Eloraton—a place that gives off major Once Upon a Time vibes. Here, books are not mere objects but gateways to a world where characters come to life, in fact the whole town and its inhabitants are taken straight from her favourite book series. Eileen’s journey intertwines with the enigmatic and charming Anderson, whose minty eyes and brooding personality grow endearing over time. Together, they uncover secrets that bridge the magical and the real, leading to a plot twist that, while somewhat predictable, still feels satisfying.

Now, I can see how A Novel Love Story could be a marmite book. Some might find the magical realism a bit perplexing, or the plot holes a tad frustrating. But I’m firmly on the loving side of this divide. Poston's magical realism is reminiscent of Carrie Hope Fletcher’s style—grounded yet sprinkled with magic. Even if I didn’t fully understand all the magic, I believe that was sort of the point, adding to the charm and whimsy of the narrative.

The characters’ small acts of service and quiet signs of love were heart-melting. Anders’ minty eyes may have been mentioned a few times too many, and his “sweetheart” endearment seemed to come out of nowhere, but these quirks added to the unique charm. And let’s not forget the sheer celebration of books. The story encapsulates the pure joy and escape that books offer, a sentiment every bookworm will resonate with.

While I guessed the big plot point early on, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment. The journey was filled with so many quotable lines and tender moments, that guessing the twist felt like being in on a delightful secret rather than a spoiler.

I’ve never experienced those intense feelings for a book series where the characters felt like family, except maybe during my The Fault in Our Stars phase (which we won’t talk about). However, A Novel Love Story gave me a glimpse into what that might feel like. It made me think of how fans describe their love for the Addicted/Calloway sisters books and the Boys of Tommen series—real-world versions of Eloraton.

In short, if you’re a lover of books and magic, A Novel Love Story by Ashley Poston is a must-read. It’s a heartwarming celebration of the magic found in the pages of a book, filled with endearing characters and enchanting moments. Highly recommended!

Reviewed by Olivia

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Sunday 9 June 2024

What's on in Surrey this Summer? | Music, Family Days, Food and more...

Surrey is brimming with events that promise to make your summer unforgettable. From open-air concerts to charming village fairs, here’s a roundup of the best events happening in Surrey from June to August 2024.

The Doyle Carte Island Series: Set against the stunning backdrop of the River Thames, the Doyle Carte Island Series is a highlight of the summer. This series of performances includes a mix of music, theatre, and comedy, all taking place on the picturesque island. It’s a unique experience that combines culture with natural beauty.

Hampton Court Palace Festival: The Hampton Court Palace Festival is back from June 11-22 and offers an enchanting setting and a fantastic lineup, including Tom Jones, Sam Ryder, and Paloma Faith. With the historic palace as a backdrop, it's a concert experience like no other.

Guildford Summer Festivals: This summer, Guildford has a fantastic lineup of events. From a Chilli and Cheese Festival, to GuilFest with headliner Sam Ryder as well as a Craft Festival and family fun days. The town will be bustling and certainly have something for everyone. Don’t miss the chance to explore Guildford’s historic charm while enjoying a variety of cultural activities.

Touring Theatre: Surrey is home to a number of regional theatres including Woking and GLive, both of which have jam packed schedules this summer. At GLive you can catch Strictly's Anton and Giovanni or Horrible Histories, whilst Woking has The Tiger Who Came to Tea and An Officer and a Gentleman among many others.

Surrey Beer Festival: Line you stomachs, because Molesey is playing house to the Surrey Beer Festival on the 15th June. Including a large range of ales to try, prosecco, cider, slushie and cocktail bars, a large selection of food, live music and a kids zone, it's sure to be a fun day out.

Painshill Live Summer Lates: The annual Painshill Live Summer Lates music sessions return to this stunning garden landscape from 19th June-11th July. Take a picnic and enjoy great music in the beautiful surroundings of The Great Lawn. Acts include: Rick Parfitt Jr Band, Absolute Bowie, The Rat Pack Tribute, Abba Revival, Oasish and more.

Make the most of your summer in Surrey with these fantastic events, offering a blend of culture, food, and family fun. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

If you have an event happening between June and August that you'd like added, just send us an email, we'll be updating this post throughout the Summer.

Wednesday 5 June 2024

Jesus Christ Superstar on Tour is an Electrifying Experience | New Victoria Theatre Woking | Review

Jesus Christ Superstar (Tour)
New Victoria Theatre

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the current UK tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, and it was a nearly perfect theatrical experience. From the moment the curtain rose, I could tell this production was something special. Having seen it previously at the Barbican Centre, I knew what to expect but I was really pleasantly surprised with how well the production has translated for touring.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's show, a rock-opera-musical has one of the most intricate and powerful scores I've personally experienced in the theatre. The vocal demands from every performer, whether the high as mountains soprano tracks or the booming bass of Caiaphas, every role requires strength, integrity and control which this cast deliver in spades. Alternate in the role, Charlie McCullagh's portrayal of Jesus is astounding. Taking on the role with the quiet swagger of a popstar, it's evident why he'd garner a following and his kind, charismatic persona, makes his eventual crucifixion incredibly moving and powerful. Vocally, you cannot fault his performance, (his Gethsemane is firmly in my top performances of 2024) every single note is supported and intentionally performed and the emotion imbued into each moment is magnetic to watch. Shem Omari James' Judas is equally compelling, delivering a nuanced and passionate performance that adds layers to the character and leave you questioning his motives long after the curtain goes down. The chemistry between the two leads is palpable, making their dynamic and relationship both riveting and heartbreaking. Hannah Richardson completes the trio perfectly, bringing a tenderness to Mary almost acting as a mediator throughout. Her voice is soulful and she really made the iconic songs feel new and refreshed.

Musically, the production is outstanding. The orchestra deliver Andrew Lloyd Webber's iconic score with vibrant intensity. The contemporary rock-infused arrangements breathe new life into the familiar tunes while still honouring the original spirit of the musical. This is an incredibly well-oiled machine of a show that seems to have paid meticulous attention to making every single moment hit with astounding intensity.

Visually, the show is a feast for the eyes. Tom Scutt's set design is innovative, using modern elements to create a versatile and dynamic stage, without the need for any huge set changes. Equally, his costumes, blending traditional and modern styles, are simplistically striking and allow for some really interesting moments, especially towards the end when some characters literally get Jesus' blood on their hands and bodies. One of my favourite elements of the musical is Lee Curran's lighting which is continually awe inspiring as it enhances dramatic moments and add a layer of symbolism that beautifully complements the narrative. Whilst I don't always understand the meaning of Drew McOnie's choreography, I find it incredibly arresting and love the frenetic energy that it brings to the stage.

The only minor drawback for me, is the occasionally overpowering sound mix. At times, the balance between the orchestra and the vocalists is off, making it difficult to catch all of Tim Rice's intense and often witty lyrics. However, this was a small blemish on an otherwise stellar production.

In my opinion, this touring version of the classic show is a must-see. It’s a masterful revival that pays homage to the original while bringing a fresh and contemporary twist. Whether you're a long-time fan of the musical or experiencing it for the first time, this production is sure to leave a lasting impression. Impeccably performed, it's one of the most moving and powerful shows I've seen this year and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

Reviewed on Tuesday 4th June 2024 by Olivia
Photo Credit: Paul Coltas

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}

Experience the Magic of Live Music at the BST Hyde Park Festival 2024

As summer approaches, London gears up for one of its most anticipated events of the year—the BST Hyde Park festival. Known for its incredible line-up of artists, electrifying atmosphere, and stunning location, BST Hyde Park 2024 promises to be a festival to remember. Whether you're a seasoned festival-goer or a first-timer, here's everything you need to know to make the most of this spectacular event.
A Star-Studded Line-Up

BST Hyde Park is renowned for attracting some of the biggest names in music, and this year is no exception. Headliners for the 2024 festival include legendary acts like Stevie Nicks, Andrea Boccelli, and Robbie Williams. These iconic performers will be joined by a diverse range of artists, from emerging talents to established stars, ensuring a rich and varied musical experience. Each day of the festival will feature a different headliner, giving attendees a unique concert experience every time.

More Than Just Music

While the music is undoubtedly the main attraction, BST Hyde Park offers much more than just live performances. The festival is set in the heart of one of London's most beautiful parks, providing a picturesque backdrop for the event. Festival-goers can enjoy gourmet food stalls, craft beer stands, and artisan vendors, making it a feast for the senses. Additionally, the festival features various themed areas, chill-out zones, and even family-friendly activities, ensuring there's something for everyone.
Sustainability and Community

BST Hyde Park is committed to sustainability and community engagement. This year, the festival organisers have implemented several eco-friendly initiatives, including a comprehensive recycling program, eco-friendly food packaging, and initiatives to reduce plastic use. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own reusable bottles, which can be refilled at water stations throughout the venue. The festival also supports local charities and community projects, reinforcing its role as a positive force within the local area.

Tips for a Great Festival Experience

Plan Ahead: With so much to see and do, planning your schedule can help you make the most of your time at the festival. Check the official BST Hyde Park website/app for set times, site maps, and other essential information.

Stay Comfortable: Wear comfortable clothing and shoes, and be prepared for all weather conditions. Hyde Park's open space can be unpredictable, so packing a lightweight poncho and sunscreen is a smart move.

Stay Hydrated and Nourished: With all the excitement, it's easy to forget to eat and drink. Make sure to stay hydrated and take advantage of the diverse food options available to keep your energy levels up.

Travel Smart: Public transport is the easiest way to get to and from Hyde Park. Plan your route in advance and consider staying nearby if you want to fully immerse yourself in the festival experience.

Respect the Park: Hyde Park is a historic and beautiful space. Respect the environment by disposing of your rubbish responsibly and following the festival's sustainability guidelines.

BST Hyde Park 2024 is set to be an unforgettable celebration of music, community, and summer fun. With its exceptional line-up, beautiful setting, and commitment to sustainability, it’s no wonder that this festival has become a highlight of London’s summer calendar. Grab your tickets, gather your friends, and get ready to make some incredible memories at BST Hyde Park!

For the latest updates, ticket information, and detailed schedules, be sure to visit the official BST Hyde Park website.

See you in the park!

photo credit: Jennifer McCord

Tuesday 28 May 2024

How to Plot a Payback by Melissa Ferguson book review: a hilarious and heartfelt tale of revenge, unexpected love, and personal growth.

How to Plot a Payback by Melissa Ferguson
Published: 2nd April 2024 by Thomas Nelson

Melissa Ferguson's How To Plot a Payback is a delightful rom-com that combines humour, heart, and just the right amount of drama. The story centres around Finn Masters who is ecstatic to secure his dream job as a writer for the hit sitcom Neighbors. His excitement, however, takes a nosedive when he learns that he will be working alongside Lavender Rhodes, the actress he has blamed for his troubles since their teenage years. Intent on getting his revenge, Finn devises several schemes to undermine Lavender. Yet, as his plans comically unravel, Finn starts to question his feelings and realises that Lavender is not who he thought she was. The narrative unfolds through a series of humorous misadventures and touching moments, ultimately leading to an unexpected romance. To sum it up, the book is a hilarious and heartfelt tale of revenge, unexpected love, and personal growth.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to receive an arc of Melissa Ferguson's Meet Me in the Margins, which I fell in love with, so when I saw she was releasing a new book, I knew I had to get my hands on it and I'm glad I did because it was just the dose of romance and joy that I needed. Melissa's writing is not only strawberry sweet, it's also addictive and gripping. I found myself swooning at a lot of Finn's thoughts about Lavender and was really rooting for the duo as a couple but also individually.

One of the book's real strengths is how well the characters are developed. Finn is incredibly relatable; his grudges and insecurities make him both lovable and occasionally exasperating. Lavender starts off as the supposed villain but gradually reveals her own layers, showing her struggles and strengths. The chemistry between them is electric, keeping readers invested as they navigate the chaotic world of Hollywood and their evolving relationship. Their journey is full of ups and downs, making it a compelling read from start to finish and making their unexpected happy ever after even sweeter.

As I say, the dynamic between Finn and Lavender is great, filled with witty banter and comedic misadventures. Finn's attempts at revenge often backfire, leading to laugh-out-loud moments and surprising twists. I did find Finn's revenge plots a bit ridiculous and they sort of took away from the realism of the story at times but there was also a good balance of sincerity which toned things down.

Also, while the story is highly entertaining, some elements might feel a bit predictable, and the pacing can occasionally slow things down. However, these are minor quibbles in an otherwise charming and engaging read that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

The side characters and jobs of the two leads add to the charm of the story. Set against the backdrop of Neighbors (I was picturing the Australian show but i don't know if that's truly the vibe haha) we get a look at the inner workings of a writers room, and meet a host of lovable and hateable characters, all of whom add to the story and world.

How To Plot a Payback is a fun, feel-good romantic comedy that will leave you smiling. It's perfect for fans of lighthearted, character-driven stories with a touch of Hollywood glamour. If you're in the mood for a book that balances comedy with genuine emotion, give this one a try. 

Reviewed by Olivia

{AD PR product- book gifted by publisher}