Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Hunger Games PARTY!!

Did you know that I have a blog that features just party ideas and crafts? Well, I do! It's called All Grown Up Parties and if you need help planning a party, I'm happy to help. The link is actually on this page on the right hand side of the blog. However, I wanted to post the links from my wrap-up of the Hunger Games party I threw back in May. More posts to come so follow along!


I didn't go crazy when it came to decorating, but I did try to be fun and different.

check it out!


This is where I really went crazy! You can't have a party without some type of food, right? I had so many ideas for this that I had a ton of options! It went over well though.

check it out!

Games and Prizes

Even adults like to play games and win prizes, so I came up with two games and a few different prizes. I think everyone had fun with these, so I suggest using them for your own HG party. You even get to see my costume in this post (I was Primrose Everdeen).

check it out!

If you host your own party, of any theme, I'd love to post about it on the blog...and again, if you need help planning, I'd be happy to offer assistance!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Journey Gym - Part I Review

Journey Gym

Review (Part I) by Lauren

Check out the website or here.

I was sent a Journey Gym for review, but all opinions are my own

The Journey Gym is a great invention. You just pack it up and bring it along on trips out of town, to the park, to a friend's house! It allows you to keep up with workouts even when you aren't home, and I find it better than going to an actual gym, because I always feel a bit uncomfortable there. As a college student, I want to keep up with working out and being more healthy, but our schedules are so hectic, that can prove problematic. Enter the Journey Gym! I start back to school August 20 so I'll have to do a Part 2 review for how it's going during school time.

My first review is just to let you know a bit more about the product-

The Patented Journey Gym

The journey gym is a complete, lightweight, compact and durable universal gym. It is efficient in giving users a total body workout and will allow anyone to use it as their primary source of resistence, cardiovascular, and circuit training. The journey gym comes with:
  • 30 resistance bands (five on each side plus ten additional bands) for a customizable resistance system of 5 to 75 pounds per side.
  • One set of adjustable handles so resistance only begins when you are in the correct position.
  • Full set of legs which are used to raise the gym into a stair stepper for a full cardio workout.
  • A workout DVD specifically designed for the gym with a 5 minute set-up video, a 10 minute circuit tone workout and a 20 minute circuit strength workout.
-the above info can be found here!

So far, I've only done the 10 minute circuit tone workout because I need to get used to the Journey Gym, as well as build up my resistance, since I never used to regularly work out. I love the DVD though. It allows you to go at your own pace...so even if you don't do as many in a set, it still helps as long as you keep going until the end of the minute. To explain, each "round" is a minute, and that really just means you do a particular exercise for a minute and then the lady on the DVD explains how to do the next one. You work with the resistance bands, as well as the gym in general. If you look at the picture on top, you can see that the gym is raised off the ground and this allows you to do some up-and-down exercises, as I like to call them, as well as other things!

The above photo gives you an idea of what you can find inside your Journey Gym. I love that the board is the carrying case for the other parts. It certainly makes it easier to unload and put back together.

If you're interested in this product but you aren't sure what it all entails or if it's right for you, then check out this offer-

Try any Journey Gym Package for 30 Days for just $14.95

plus shipping and handling

Overall, I like the product. I think it's great for just about anyone but especially:

*parents- especially with young kids
*people that travel a lot

I admit that the price is a bit daunting, but if you're fully invested in working out, being more healthy, and you think this would be a better option for you than an actual gym membership, you should think about trying the 30 Day Trial I mentioned above.

Look out for my Part 2 review to come soon. I want to see how the gym works for me when I'm in school and able to use it on a more regular schedule.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Album Review - I Call Fives

I Call Fives

Self-Titled Album

Like the band on facebook

Review by Lauren

Music sent for review, but all opinions are our own. Photos sent for promo purposes only.


Track List:
1. Late Nights
2. Obvious
3. Backup Plan
4. The Fall Guy
5. Stuck in '03
6. Enemy
7. Wrong Things
8. Two Sides To Every Story
9. We Were Right Together and We Were Wrong Together
10. Regrets and Setbacks
11. Sleep Well

Review: All the songs are upbeat. I can picture myself rocking out to this band live or in the car, and I love that! Good vocals, pretty good lyrics, and a sound that might not be terribly unique but reminds me of the bands I loved back in the day that have either changed sound or disbanded for the most part.
If you're a pop/rock fan, I would certainly recommend you give them a listen!

Now let's break down the review based on songs-
Late Nights- Upbeat, the type of pop/punk I loved in high school but seem to be falling by the wayside lately. (New Found Glory-esque).

Backup Plan- I really enjoyed the meaning behind this song because I know people in my life that have become backup plans for another person and it’s never fun. This is a big reason I love pop/punk bands…they tend to talk about the things in life that most people can relate too.

Stuck in '03-
 “I was listening to Take This To Your Grave,
So Long Astoria and Nothing Gold Can Stay”
I have and love the albums Take this to Your Grave (Fall Out Boy) and So Long Astoria (The Ataris). Nothing Gold Can Stay is New Found Glory, which I didn’t realize was mentioned in this song when I originally thought this band reminded me of them.
Listen to it now!
Enemy-Short song, anthem for not fitting in. The line “I'm more than happy to not fit in (with your friends)” would be perfect for chanting live.
Two Sides To Every Story-Alright, so it has some immature lyrics, like calling someone the personification of evil in the opening lines. However, I can relate to feeling like someone never listens to your side of the story and therefore, I love this song. It fits my life, and those are always the best, when it comes to my personal tastes.
We Were Right Together and We Were Wrong Together- Another song whose lyrics I can relate too. I just like the idea that two people can be good and bad for each other. Not personally, as I’ve been there, but to have that thought presented in a song is nice to hear.
Regrets and Setbacks- A positive message song about pushing through and forgetting all the haters. Every good pop/punk band needs one of these songs.
Unfortunately, the band isn't touring close enough to me so I can't see them live, but I do believe they would be really fun to see in concert and if you're interested, go check out a show! Click the photo below for tour dates!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Amazing, Magic Knight - Movie Reviews

The Amazing, Magic Knight - Movie Reviews by Lauren

The Amazing Spiderman

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are one adorable couple...on-screen and off. I thought this was a great movie. I liked the other Spiderman films, even though I only saw the first two, but this new adaptation was different and it worked for me. Peter Parker is in high school, he falls for Gwen Stacey and not MJ, and the villian is called The Lizard. This particular film really built up the characters, and personally, I love that. I like getting to know these superheroes as people so I can actually feel for and relate to them. I would certainly see this again! I can't wait for the next one!

Magic Mike

Magic Mike is probably not what everyone thinks it's about. Yes, there are male strippers and sure, that's nice. I like the dancing and the performance of it and there are a few very good-looking men. However, Magic Mike is also a drama. Mike doesn't want to be a stripper his whole life. He wants to start his own business, he wants to fall in love, and while he tries to help The Kid (a new stripper he brings into the business), he is falling down a dark tunnel and Mike does what he can to save him, for his sister's sake. It's a good movie though. I'd watch it again, and I think a lot of people would like it, but it's best to go in knowing what type of movie this is and it's not just a "feel good, look at hot guys" type of thing.

The Dark Knight Rises

To be honest, I'd never seen Batman Begins or The Dark Knight, so I went to the trilogy showing where you get to watch both films in the series and then the newest, The Dark Knight Rises, at midnight. It was essentially nine hours of Batman, so it's a good thing I really liked all the movies. I would say that The Dark Knight is still my favorite, but I really enjoyed Dark Knight Rises as well. Tom Hardy made a great villian in Bane. He's a bit layered and I appreciated getting to know more of his past in the end of the film. I know some people didn't like Josepth Gordon-Levitt's character but I'm not a comic book Batman fan, so I wasn't bothered by the path his character, Blake, took and I actually thought it was cool. Overall, great acting, awesome characters, and an interesting storyline that seemed to blend the first two in the trilogy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review: Breaking the Devil's Heart by H.A. Goodman

Breaking the Devil's Heart by H.A. Goodman

Review by Lauren

Author sent a copy for review, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: When Stewart and Layla recruit a demon to spy on the Devil, their decision takes them on whirlwind ride through the afterlife. Journey alongside this young couple in H. A. Goodman's new novel, Breaking the Devil's Heart, and join forces with a teenage Angel outcast to bankrupt Satan's underground Company and save Heaven from civil war. H. A. Goodman's Breaking the Devil's Heart is a rollercoaster afterlife experience that tests a young couple's love, their grasp on reality, and the essence of human nature. What happens when Stewart and Layla tour Hell's Marketing Department and Stock Exchange? What happens when their relationship is tested by Satan?

Review: When the author first wrote me about possibly reviewing this book, I was immediately interested. However, it said it was a Logic of Demons novel and I figured that meant it was part of a series. When I inquired about reading it without having read the first, I was assured this was a stand-alone novel. After finishing the novel, I now understand that the books might be part of a similar universe, but they are able to be read and enjoyed as their own novels. I'm also quite curious to check out Logic of Demons now that I thoroughly loved Breaking the Devil's Heart.

Yes, that's right. I loved this book. I don't normally rate books because it's hard for me to figure out just what number a book falls under. With this, though, I'd happily rate it a 5/5 and tell you, in the words of the lovely Mimi, to BUY. Buy it now!

Breaking the Devil's Heart is an intellectual, yet exhilarating, ride through the afterlife. Stewart and Layla were wonderful people in their life, but after they suffer a horrific death, they must make a choice: become an Angel or go another route and be an Observer. They both choose the latter as they feel they can more easily fight evil and the Demons that peddle said evil (via the Formula) in the Hell known as The Company. Goodman has created a unique premise for how the afterlife works, basing it on very real premises like the Stock Exchange and a Ponzi Scheme. The Boss, in this case though, is Satan (and Satan is a woman, despite most people depicting a red male with horns and a tail).

Stewart and Layla are in love and they believe in the basic goodness of human nature among others, but their faith is tested in many ways throughout the novel. They come face to face with demons that have done reprehensible things to people while they were living and they even venture into the past to witness crimes against Freedom Riders and even the Jews during the Second World War. Breaking the Devil's Heart is filled with historical and philosophical references, but it never reads like a history book and I believe most readers would easily connect and relate to Stewart and Layla's very human personalities.

It's obvious that Goodman brought in many of his own life experiences to the world he created and it made reading the book that much more interesting (I'll include the author's bio below so you know what I mean). Breaking the Devil's Heart is one of the most unique, exciting, and thought-provoking boks I've read in awhile. It's equal parts action and heart and would be fabulous on the big screen. I highly recommend you dive into this world!


Author's Bio- H. A. Goodman is a former financial advisor for Morgan Stanley and Charles Schwab as well as a former LAUSD history teacher. He has a degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California and has also worked at the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute. His debut novel, Logic of Demons, has received rave reviews from over 35 book blogs and review sites. In 2012, H. A. combined his love for fantasy and philosophy to create a whirlwind ride through the afterlife in Breaking the Devil’s Heart.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Oscar Wilde Would Approve of Bunbury!

This is my last Bunbury post! Thanks for all the comments and I'm sorry if these posts weren't as interesting to you as some of my other ones. I have a lot planned for this week from book reviews to movie reviews, maybe those will be more your speed.

Oscar Wilde?!

Confused about the title of this post? The Bunbury Music Festival gets its name from one of my favorite plays - The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. Bunbury is a fake friend that allows you to get out of doing something you don't want to do in order to go off and have fun...AKA Bunburying!

I do suggest you look into the Bunbury Music Festival for next year though and you can even like them on facebook if you want to know who all is playing next July!

Sawyer Point- Festival Grounds
photo by Kari Becker

Thanks to my friends that attended Bunbury for letting me know some of their likes and dislikes!

What did you like about Bunbury? (from the music, to the festival, etc.)

I definitely loved the music at the festival, they had a great line-up for their first year. I also really liked how there were other things to do there, such as Techbury and the Craft Beer Village, where you could get a taste for local beers you may have not had before. The thing I liked most about Bunbury, though, was the organization. I heard many of the bands comment on how great the festival was compared to others, and they are absolutely right. The organizers had the fans in mind when they planned it (setting up water stations, allowing kids in free, allowing re-entry, etc.).

-Kyle Greely

One of the things that I really liked about Bunbury was that it was a music festival that I felt had the perfect combination of local bands and well-known headliners which made it a very worth while experience. I not only got to see some of my favorite bands such as Grouplove, Scars on 45, and Deathcab for Cutie but I also had the chance to discover tons of new bands, many of them being local bands that I can now listen to in smaller venues around the city! I honestly didn't realize how awesome of a music scene Cincinnati has and Bunbury has definitely opened up my eyes to this!


I LOVED Bunbury. The music was great, the festival was well put together, and the people were a lot of fun. You could never tell this was their first year. They did a great job containing such an open space.

-Amy Foppe

There were a ton of amazing bands and people. The atmosphere in general was just really great and friendly; everyone was there to hear some great music.

-Chelsea from The Glitter Pox

Ohio River view from the festival
photo by Kari Becker

I loved the set up of the festival and I hope that it's still at Sawyer Point next year. Having it by the Ohio River allowed for some nice breezes and the area was more open and relaxing than other festivals I've been too (Warped Tour, Bamboozle in New Jersey). During the headlining sets, there were videos on both sides of the stage for people in the back to see the band up close, but there were also boxes in the corners of the screen that had someone doing sign language through the whole set. I loved this and thought it was a wonderful addition! Food-wise...I was a big fan of the smoothie stand. Perfect for a warm day, and it's like you're eating and drinking something refreshing!

-Lauren Becker

sign language in the bottom left hand corner
photo by Kari Becker

What would you like to see changed or added next year?

Next year, I'd like to see another great set list (obviously), and more food options. There was a decent variety, but there is definitely room for improvement there. Also, I hope they don't take the popularity for granted and raise the price next year. The fantastic price ($100 for a 3-day pass) was a HUGE incentive to go to the fest.

-Kyle Greely

I will definitely be attending Bunbury 2013! If they were able to get so many great bands to play for the first year, I can't imagine the bands they will be able to bring to Cincy in the future! I think the venue was perfect because it was definitely big enough for everything that was going on but I was still able to be close enough to the bands to the point that I felt like I was at a more intimate concert at a smaller venue.


I definitely plan to attend next year, given they get some great acts again. I think the Globili and the Bud Light stages could be swapped, making Bud Light the main and central stage. (If they could get the stage itself bigger.) It had a larger lawn and every one seemed really smashed in at Globili.

-Amy Foppe

Would love to see a few smaller bands in between the larger sets. There were a few that I loved seeing, but I really love finding new bands and supporting them. Also maybe have the merch/meet & greet station a little more organized or easier to access, but it was awesome to be able to meet some of the bands, regardless!
-Chelsea from The Glitter Pox

I don't really have much I'd want to see added. I really just want certain things to stay the same, and like Kyle, I do hope the prices don't go up! I was lucky to get a press pass this year to provide coverage of the festival, but I still agreed that the price was good for a three day festival. I would, however, like some more options for food as well. A lot of what I saw was a bit too heavy for a hot day, but I liked that they included local options!

-Lauren Becker

Cool stage on the edge of the river. Don't you like the seats going down?
photo by Kari Becker

What bands did you love seeing this year?

I loved seeing The Airborne Toxic Event, Ra Ra Riot, Weezer, City and Colour, and Death Cab for Cutie especially.

-Kyle Greely

 I loved seeing Kevin Devine and Airborne Toxic Event. Kevin had a fantastic and laid back set at the acoustic stage. And Airborne put on a great show at Globili. Weezer was probably my favorite headliner, which surprises me since I was more excited for Death Cab for Cutie going into it. But Weezer had a great set list of all their classic songs and you could feed off their energy. Death Cab for Cutie were also great to see again. The crowd was more relaxed and it was a great show to just sway and sing along to with friends. A perfect end to a great weekend. :)

-Amy Foppe

Another view of the park- festival grounds
photo by Kari Becker

Chelsea from The Glitter Pox was the one friend I had that did not live in the immediate area, so I wanted to ask her a few questions about traveling to Bunbury for those of you that live semi-close to Cincinnati and might want to go next year!

1. How far did you have to travel to get to Bunbury, and what made you decide to go to this festival?

I'm from Cleveland, a little over four hours away. It's great to see a festival in Ohio that's reasonably priced and with such an amazing lineup. Ohio is home to a lot of great bands, so it's awesome seeing some music recognition for the state.

 2. Would you go to Bunbury again next year, and would you suggest the festival to anyone else you know?

Yes! Absolutely! I had an amazing experience. It was a fantastic first year, and I'll definitely be back again. Already have post-Bunbury blues.

Overall, I loved it! :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Headlining Bands- Jane's Addiction, Weezer, Death Cab for Cutie

Its been one crazy weekend, so I apologize for pushing some of these posts back. I will, hopefully, have a ton going up this week though so keep reading! Today, I'm happy to share some of the pictures for the headlining bands we saw at the Bunbury Music Festival.

Jane's Addiction

photo by Amy Foppe

Unfortunately, this is the only photo we got of Jane's Addiction...it was quite crowded...but they were the headliner Friday night and kickstarted the whole weekend!


photo by Amy Foppe

With the classic "W" light, Weezer rocked out on Saturday with classic hits like "Buddy Holly" (a personal fave of mine) and "Beverly Hills" !!

photo by Amy Foppe

photo by Amy Foppe

Death Cab for Cutie

photo by Amy Foppe

Finally, on Sunday night, Bunbury Music Festival ended with a slightly more low-key performance by Death Cab for Cutie!

photo by Kari Becker

photo by Kari Becker

photo by Kari Becker

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Listen to the Fans, Get Our Bands!

I know I said to look out for the headliners post today, but I'm writing with little time so, instead, I'm going to share the bands that I (and some friends of mine) would like to see play at next year's Bunbury festival. There will be another post with their comments as well...but that will include what they did and did not like, as well as the bands they loved seeing during the first year of Bunbury. Keep an eye out!



Next year I'd like to see bands like Band of Horses, Arcade Fire, and Fleet Foxes if possible. I think they would really mix well with the type of music we had this year.

-Kyle Greely


Really loved Margot & the Nuclear So and So's, 1,2,3, Airborne Toxic Event, Neon Trees, and Grouplove. Would love to see them all come back, actually, but would love to see some new bands play, too!

-Chelsea from The Glitter Pox


Not including the bands I enjoyed this year, I'd really like to see The Spill Canvas, Armor for Sleep, and Ed Sheeran next year! With someone like Kevin Devine playing this year, it made me realize that Ed Sheeran would probably fit in quite well at Bunbury.

-Lauren Becker


I would also like to see Ed Sheeran play next year, as well as Mayday Parade and Paramore.

-Kari Becker


Who do you want to see?!

Even if you live too far (and are unable to travel) to attend next year's Bunbury, what bands would you like to see rock it out?

The Music that Started the Day (With Videos and Pics)

Obviously, when one goes to the Bunbury Music Festival, they are going for the music first and foremost, so this post is all about the "smaller" bands that played. By small, I mean not the headliners...that post will hopefully be up tomorrow!

I'd love to know what you think about these bands, if you are going to look any up that you hadn't already heard of, and if Bunbury is a music festival you would attend next year! I know I plan too!

I did not attend all of these sets, but friends of mine did and they are providing the pictures!

photo by Kyle Greely

You might think you don't know anything by OAR, but I'm here to tell you that you're probably wrong...from what I saw of the set, I knew two songs, and they were quite enjoyable to watch. I particulary liked the horn section!

This was the main stage. To be honest, I thought the bigger bands would have been better off playing at the stage you see below...because there is more open space for fans. However, I don't know if the stage would be big enough for the band playing.

"Love and Memories" by OAR
Ra Ra Riot
Photo by Amy Foppe
I liked where this stage was located. There is a lot of open room. I spent most of my time listening to this band while sitting on a blanket, so it was quite comfortable! But as you can see, the stage is kind of small...so the headlining bands are better off at the other stage; I just think the open space would have been more accomadating to a bigger band.
"Can You Tell" by Ra Ra Riot
The Airborne Toxic Event
photo by Amy Foppe
The Airborne Toxic Event put on one heck of a good show! They are definitely a band I want to listen to even more than I did before Bunbury, and I'd certainly see them live again. I really appreciated what they said about working with the Wounded Warrior Project as well! Very inspiring!
"Gasoline" by The Airborne Toxic Event
Kevin Devine
Photo by Amy Foppe
I did not get to see Kevin live, but I really enjoy his song "I Could be With Anyone" and my friend Amy is a fan, so check him out!
"I Could Be With Anyone" by Kevin Devine (LOVE this video)
Neon Trees
Photo by Kyle Greely
I know, I know...I need to listen to the Neon Trees music that is not on the radio. However, I do really love "Animal" and "Everybody Talks." Unfortunately, I did not personally get to see them play live...so I can live through the photos with you all!
Another Neon Trees shot
Photo by Amy Foppe
"Animal" by Neon Trees
There you have it...these are some of the bands/acts that were featured at this year's Bunbury. Be on the lookout for the headliners post, what we did and did not like about the festival, what we want to see next year, and more!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Big Bang Theory and Other Geeky Gifts

Leonard and Sheldon had to have the gadget from their favorite 1960’s film, and nothing completes a geek collection like a time machine, right? What was your best online geek purchase? What are you still missing (besides The Big Bang Theory Seasons 1 & 2 on Blu-Ray) from your collection?

When it comes to buying things, I do have quite a bit of a geeky taste and I'm certainly a bit addicted to online shopping. However, I can't really think of anything that I've bought online that is sure to be seen as geeky. I'm a big Starkid fan (they are famous for the Harry Potter musicals) and I did buy their live DVD online, and that's a bit geeky for sure!

As for my next geeky purchase, I really love the site ThinkGeek and there are so many things that I want from this site. I definitely recommend checking them out. One such item would be these Sun and Moon jars-

Aren't these adorable?! I want my own personal sun and/or moon. They would make a fun party addition!

You know what else you need for your party? THE BIG BANG THEORY!

The Big Bang Theory: The Complete First and Second Season on Blu-Ray Combo Pack

I have been hired by Warner Bros WBWord division to raise awareness for 'The Big Bang Theory.'

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wearcast- Personalized Shirts for Bunbury and More!

Wearcast - wear what you love, love what you wear

Visit the wearcast website

Post by Lauren and Kari

Wearcast is a Cincinnati company who offered personalized Bunbury shirts for all concert-goers. These shirts allowed you to pick the design you wanted, the band's you most wanted featured on your shirt, and more.

My favorite design on the site is the Mixtape and I went through the process just to let you know how easy it was to do:

I picked the design, I added three bands (Weezer, The Airborne Toxic Event, and Death Cab for Cutie), and then updated my shirt so the band names appeared on the mixtape. Above the tape reads Bunbury 2012. I left the size at a large and continued and this is what I would have gotten-

Men's crew shirt, the color of this shirt is blue, it's a large, and it's $20, shipping is $5, and in the end, you would get a personalized Bunbury shirt for only $25!


Bunbury will donate $1 to the Save the Bees Foundation for every shirt sold. Because sometimes it’s nice to bee generous.

You can use Wearcast for your own personalized shirts as well, which includes group orders (perfect for teams, wedding parties, birthdays, etc.)  Their website states-

Your Style.

Wearcast gives people more control over what they wear, with the added finesse of individual personalization. So go ahead, be part of something bigger. Let Wearcast help you shine in it.


On Sunday at the Bunbury Music Festival, Kari talked to a member of the Wearcast team in the Techbury tent and asked them some questions. The following is the information she learned about this up-and-coming company!

*Wearcast is a new company, having just become official in the beginning of July. Bunbury was their first chance to show off their creative shirts!

*Before the festival started, the company opened up the personalized Bunbury shirts for pre-order, allowing those that bought the shirts to pick them up at the festival. They only had this open for four days, however, but the total order was about thirty shirts! Obviously, you can still order shirts today on the website and have the shirts mailed directly to you!

*As mentioned earlier, they are a local company (Cincinnati, Ohio) and they came up with a creative means of allowing people to get the shirts they want, especially for a festival setting. There is even a couple Friday the 13th designs (Sliced n' Diced and Killin' It Friday) since the festival started on that day.


This a great company just starting out and I definitely recommend supporting them if you need personalized shirts! I think the pre-order idea for Bunbury was great and I hope they get to work with the festival again next year so more people are aware of the option. It would have been fun to pick up the shirt on site and wear it during the day!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti

How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life by Sheila Heti

Review by Lauren

Copy sent for review, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary:

Reeling from a failed marriage, Sheila, a twentysomething playwright, finds herself unsure of how to live and create. When Margaux, a talented painter and free spirit, and Israel, a sexy and depraved artist, enter her life, Sheila hopes that through close—sometimes too close—observation of her new friend, her new lover, and herself, she might regain her footing in art and life.

Using transcribed conversations, real emails, plus heavy doses of fiction, the brilliant and always innovative Sheila Heti crafts a work that is part literary novel, part self-help manual, and part bawdy confessional. It's a totally shameless and dynamic exploration into the way we live now, which breathes fresh wisdom into the eternal questions: What is the sincerest way to love? What kind of person should you be?

Review: This book is called a novel from life and in the summary, it mentions that it's a blend of fiction and what seems to be real life. When you're reading this, though, I couldn't tell what was made up and what was based on real life. I suppose that adds a layer to the book that makes it more interesting. You're reading about the main character, also named Sheila, and how she's so desperate to know how a person should be that she compromises who she is...and you can't help but wonder, what parts of this girl's story were the author's own?

Despite the wonder, this is still a fascinating book. It's something that leaves you with questions and makes you wonder about yourself and those in your life. It's hard to read at times because you don't want Sheila to keep putting herself in demeaning relationships, mostly with Israel, who essentially wants control through sexual means. And this book is quite sexual. Israel is straight-forward about his requests and Sheila often compares things to sex. There is even a whole chapter devoted to Sheila's obession with Israel in a sexual means. If this is something that bothers you to read, then I wouldn't recommend the book...and I'll admit, sometimes I was tired of reading Sheila's thoughts about sex and wanted to know the point. In the end, though, I think I got it, and it shows that these are all parts of Sheila's life and how she evolved.

I highly enjoyed Marguax. She's not always the best friend, but it was real in that way. Sometimes she said things that pushed Sheila away, but she would always come back and make sure they were on the same page.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is how it's set up. There a few different acts, with the chapters starting over in each new book, as if the book was a play in and of itself (as Sheila is blocked when trying to write her own play within the story). Sheila also buys a tape recorder to record conversations she has with people and these are transcribed within the book, as if you are reading a play. There are even emails included throughout, but instead of being set up like normal emails, they are written as a 1.2.3. method.

For example, this is an excerpt of an email Marguax sends to Sheila, which is about her being upset Sheila bought the same dress as her-

5. when you said that you'd only wear it out of town and never in toronto, it sort of seemed reasonable.
6. but not really, since of course we only exist in pictures.

That last line was one of my favorites, as it's kind of true in a way...besides our own memories, our past most clearly exists in photos. Intriguing, isn't it?

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It's quite unlike anything I've ever read and it does raise some interesting questions. I did find a few parts to be a bit preachy in a way, but nothing that isn't easy to get past.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Getting Ready for the Bunbury Music Festival

Musical festivals are not new. When I was younger, I went to Warped Tour all the time, though that was a one-day, moving festival. However, I did attend Bamboozle twice a few years ago and that is similar to the upcoming Bunbury festival...as it was over one weekend and took place in one spot: New Jersey. This time, though, I get a weekend festival that is right by me. The Bunbury Music Festival is debuting this year in Cincinnati, Ohio...so if you live here or near by, you can still look into tickets. Otherwise, check out my posts this weekend and let me know your thoughts about the bands, the festival, and whether you would make the trip next year!

Each day of the festival there is a headlining band, meaning that nobody else will be playing at the same time. You watch this band to finish off the day! In case you can't see the poster above, it goes as follows-

Friday: Jane's Addiction

Saturday: Weezer

Sunday: Death Cab for Cutie

I imagine I will see all of these bands this weekend, but I'm most excited for Weezer and Death Cab for Cutie.

Leading up to the night, there are a variety of bands playing on different stages and these are the ones I definitely plan to make it too. Friday only has one band, which just means I have time to check out some other acts!

Friday: Airborne Toxic Event

Saturday: Manchester Orchestra, Kevin Devine, and Weezer

Sunday: Neon Trees and Death Cab for Cutie

If you're curious about all the acts playing at Bunbury, as well as their set times, check that out here.

Remember, there will be quite a few Bunbury-related posts coming out....but I'd love for you to come by and leave your thoughts. You don't need to be at the festival to enjoy the music talk!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

We're All Mad Here- A Gift Guide for Alice in Wonderland Fans

I love coming up with gifts that all have a common theme, so that people can have a "gift basket" of items that go together in some way. I decided to start a new feature where I have Gift Guides full of items that reflect a certain theme. Some of these gifts might be more expensive, so while you might only be able to buy one of these things, they are still sure to please!


Gift Guide for Alice in Wonderland Fans

In honor of a friend who had her first baby, a girl named Alice, a few days ago

Eat Me Bar- Alice in Wonderland Fruit and Nut Bar

Curious! A fruit and nut bar inspired by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Open up the box and you'll find games, puzzles, and quotes from your favorite Wonderland characters.

Get your own bar from Always Fits for $3.99

Alice in Wonderland Poster Text

This Alice's Adventures in Wonderland poster is created using the entire text of the book.
Dimensions: 20x24" - 51x61cm
Get your own poster at Always Fits for $39.99

Alice's Pawfect Tea-Party Kit


Drink Me Potion, Chocolate Pocket Watch, Tea Cookies, Alice's Eat Me Candy Cake, Herbal Cinnamon Apple Tea, and Cheshire Cat's Hmmm Anymore Cream?

A "Read Me" booklet - Chapter Seven- "A Mad Tea Party" and Play Me CD - Alice's Pawfect Tea-Party

You can purchase your own kit at the Storybook Tea Kit Company for $24.99

Alice perfume from the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

Curiouser and curiouser. Milk and honey with rose, carnation and bergamot

Get your own Alice in Wonderland perfume for $17. 50

This shop also carries other Alice character's perfumes like The White Rabbit and The Queen of Hearts among others

Monday, July 9, 2012

Review: Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley

Wild Ink: Success Secrets to Writing and Publishing in the Young Adult Market
by Victoria Hanley

Review by Lauren

Copy from publisher, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: What do you need to know to break in to the flourishing young adult (YA) market? With humor and a solid grounding in reality, author Victoria Hanley helps readers understand the ins and outs of the YA genre, how to stay inspired, and how to avoid common mistakes writers make in trying to reach teens. This book includes unique writing exercises to help readers find their own authentic teen voice and dozens of interviews with YA authors, blogging experts, editors, and agents to give inspiration and guidance for getting published. Chapters include writing exercises and self-editing techniques tailored to YA, along with encouraging words on dealing with self-doubt, rejection, and lack of time.

Review: This is the second edition of Wild Ink and it's great for anyone that wants to know more about writing and publishing for the YA market. To be honest, when I went through the book, I knew a lot of this information already...as I've been scouring the web for awhile on all types of tips as I hope to one day publish a book (and most likely YA). However, this is still a nice book to have as it gives you a one-stop for all the information you need and not everyone that wants to write YA has the time to find everything they need to know online.

The book includes tips on writing in various point of views and in different tenses (an issue I often deal with when trying to switch things up) and even a section on dialogue and finding your Inner Teen Voice.

The section that most people might really appreciate is how to Submit Your Manuscript and on page 130, you get a rundown on writing a query. It took me awhile to learn how to do this and you still need critique help, I personally believe, as you write them...queries are the few paragraphs that make an agent interested in your work. They are difficult to write, because it has to be short and sweet, but able to grab attention. This book reminds you that you aren't obligated to get a response (even if it sucks) and that you will be playing the waiting game most of the time. Publishing is a slow business. I get that. But I think it can be worth it!

My favorite section, which is near the end, has interviews with YA authors such as M.T. Anderson, Nancy Garden, and Stephanie Perkins. There are fiction writers, non-fiction writers, and even those that do graphic novels. You get a lot of interesting and wide perspectives from those that are doing it well in the YA world these days.

Overall, this is a handy guide that many would be very grateful to have on their bookshelf!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Intelligence on The Big Bang Theory

photo give for promo purposes

Penny and Leonard have a… complicated relationship. Even after going on a date, Penny ends up breaking things off with Leonard fearing she isn’t as smart as the physics genius. Have you ever felt intellectually inadequate? Has a date ever felt that way with you? Did you end up working it out?

One aspect of The Big Bang Theory that is interesting to watch is Penny and Leonard's relationship. They are very different people...and yet, I at least, want them to work it out for the long haul. To be honest, I've never dated anyone so I've never had to deal with the issue of a boyfriend seeming smarter than me (or even less smart than me).

As for feeling intellectually inadequate in general? I suppose we all have unless we're Sheldon Cooper and believe we're smarter than everyone! I think I'm relatively smart and because I read all the time, that helps with learning new things and becoming more aware of issues. However, I have known plenty of people (especially in class) that say things that make me go "Goodness! I would never have thought of that" or whatever and it is a bit discouraging sometimes. But, in the end, I'm doing alright and I think intelligence comes in various forms...book smarts, street starts, even common sense!


What do you think though? Any personal stories of feeling less-than-intelligent?

The Big Bang Theory: The Complete First and Second Season on Blu-Ray Combo Pack

I have been hired by Warner Bros WBWord division to raise awareness for 'The Big Bang Theory.'

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire + Make it a Gift

Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire by Francesca Simon

Illustrated by Tony Ross

Review by: Lauren

Copy from publisher, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Henry is up to his usual mischief.

Four new stories in which Horrid Henry terrorizes his classmates at a school sleepover in the museum; plays with Perfect Peter and tricks him into handing over all his money; gets out of writing his own story for Miss Battle-Axe by adapting one of Peter's; and meets the Nudie Foodie, a celebrity chef, who comes to the school to improve school dinners. No more burgers! No more chips!

Review: I thought this was the perfect book to review for July 4th, America's Day of Independence, because the author, Francesca Simon, is an American author who now lives in London with her family. Horrid Henry is a much-beloved series and the Zombie Vampire edition is by no means the first collection.

This one, however, includes the following stories (spoilers are included in the brief summaries!)

Horrid Henry Writes a Story- Henry steals his little brother's story for a class assignment. When he is made to read it in front of the kindergarten class, he realizes that it's Peter's classroom and he has to change it in order to not be found out...unfortunately, he proceeds to scare a bunch of little kids!

Horrid Henry and the Nudie Foodie- Henry's school has a chef come to help them create healthy food for the cafeteria. Henry hates this and tries to sabotage the food...except he ends up liking it!

Horrid Henry and the Mad Professor- Henry tricks his brother into playing a game that devoids Peter of most of his money and candy...until their mom finds out and makes Henry give the money back (but he already ate the candy, so he's happy).

Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire- Henry and Peter's classes are having an overnight at the museum. Henry tells Peter and his friends lies about their teachers, in order to frighten them...and it works!

Horrid Henry's stories are fun and it's easy to see Henry in a lot of little boys...he gets in trouble, he doesn't want to hang out with his little brother, and he doesn't follow directions very well...and I'm sure a lot of younger readers would really enjoy him! Each story is just long enough, with a lot of alliterative names (Horrid Henry, Perfect Peter, Rude Ralph, etc.) that I'm sure would be fun to read aloud.

These stories are obviously not for my age group, but they were fun to check out. I know some adults are said to find them quite amusing, and I suppose I agree in a way. They are more of the chuckling, shake your head at Henry's craziness as opposed to laugh out loud.

One aspect of the stories that I love, though, are the illustrations done by Tony Ross. They remind me a lot of the drawings you find in Roald Dahl books (which I enjoyed growing up!) and there is at least one drawing on each spread (meaning if you open the book, at least one side will have an illustration).

Make it a Gift

If you think you know a boy or girl that would enjoy this or any other Horrid Henry book, I suggest adding the following movie to make it a proper gift!

Dennis the Menace on DVD is a perfect addition to Horrid Henry, as he's another young boy prone to getting in trouble...while making viewers laugh!