Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling


The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Review by Lauren

source- book was a gift from a friend

Official Summary: When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils...Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Review: A friend had given me this novel as a Christmas gift, and I finally found the time to read it. Luckily for me, it worked out that I could post this on J.K. Rowling's birthday and I figured nothing could be more fitting!

For those of you who don't know, The Casual Vacancy is the first novel that Rowling published after all things Harry Potter. It's also her first adult novel. While it received mixed reviews, I really found myself loving it.

I'll admit, it can read kind of slow in the beginning and I was a bit worried it would turn out boring or simply not my thing. That didn't happen though. As I kept reading, I found myself fully invested in the story and the characters within. I liked that everyone had their problems. They were all faced with hardships, yet they never seemed overly heroic. They had their moments where you disagreed with the actions they took or the things they believed in...but it just made the story all that more realistic.

The Casual Vacancy follows various point of views, and it took some time to grasp who everyone was, but once I did, things started to flow. You get teens, adults, men, women, "insiders", "outsiders"; in simple terms, this novel fully encompasses the town of Pagford. It's a form of writing that I felt really worked for the novel. Everything starts to unravel a bit after Barry Fairweather dies, so it makes sense to focus on all the different people that his life and death affected. With him gone, drama unfolds and secrets are eventually revealed.

While it may not be good for everyone, I would recommend giving The Casual Vacancy a chance. I personally think Rowling did a tremendous job in her first adult novel. It's a literary book, very much different from Harry Potter, but I think if people push through, it could be worth it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bubble World by Carol Snow + Interview


Bubble World by Carol Snow

Review by Lauren

Released Today - get a copy now!

copy sent for review, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Freesia Summers lives on the island of Agalinas, a hidden Pacific paradise somewhere off the coast of California. She has everything a girl could want: her own ocean-view balcony, a pink itty car, singing peacocks, and a magical bubble that lets her talk to her besties and keep track of her de-vicious clothes.

If Freesia's life seems too good to be true, well, there's a reason for that. And when a blackout lands her in an unbeautiful place -- and in an equally unbeautiful but oddly familiar body -- reality hits her head-on. Freesia is not who she thought she was, and her world will never be the same. Reality, in her opinion, is hugely overrated.


Review: I was certainly intrigued by the summary when I was first offered to review this book, but I was a bit worried that it would be too much of a cutesy novel for my tastes. While that can be good for the lovely summer weather, it doesn't always work for me. However, I found that once I got into the story, I really enjoyed it.

Freesia thinks she's a typical girl who just happens to live on a great island. She has awesome friends, a loving family, and totally awesome clothes! Things are definitely not what they appear though and since I don't want to give away too much (it really is more exciting to learn for yourself), I'll just say that Freesia has a lot more to learn about the "real world."

I definitely thought the beginning was a bit slower than the rest of the novel, but that's mainly because it's about Freesia's life and introducing readers to the perfect island. This is important, of course, as where Freesia lives holds the secrets of this story. Regardless, it picks up more as we get into the blackouts and Freesia beginning to question things. This doesn't take too long either so you should certainly push forward to this point to see if Bubble World is the fit for you!

In the end, I did enjoy this book and I thought it had a very unique concept!

Interview with Carol Snow

1. Bubble World has a very intriguing summary. Can you tell us what genre(s) you would place the book under without giving anything away?

Kirkus Reviews called it “a nifty sci-fi comedy,” so I’m going with that. (It’s important to include the “nifty.”)
 
2. Is Bubble World meant to take place far in the future, and how much of the "world" did you have to create?
 
The story happens in a slightly altered version of the present day. As for the magical island of Agalinas, which is the setting for much of the story, I based the geography on Catalina Island, which is off the coast of Southern California (and one of my favorite places). For island attractions, I called on my inner fifteen-year-old to envision a teen utopia.
 
  3. Freesia is a very interesting name. It certainly seems to represent all things summery. Was that your ultimate goal when picking the name? Were there other name ideas before Freesia?
 
       I wanted something unusual but not too weird, and a flower name seemed appropriate for a girl who is all about looking and feeling pretty. Usually I rely on baby name books to help me name characters, but this time “Freesia” popped into my head, and I went with it.
 
      4. If you could make a soundtrack for the novel (songs that fit the world/characters/scenes), what would you include?
     
      I’ve been waiting years for someone to ask me this question! I’ve created a playlist on Spotify: Bubbleworld I listened to and refined this playlist all the time while I was writing the book. It really helped me envision Freesia’s world … though let’s just say that my family is pretty much done with reggae and ukeles.
 
 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Review: Anna and the French Kiss + Music Pick


Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Review by Lauren

bought a copy

Official Summary: Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.


Review: I think this title is misleading...and by title, I literally mean the words Anna and the French Kiss. It makes it sound like a cutesy romance, perfect for the pool and not much more. But Anna is a lot more than that. Yes, it's about romance, but within that, there are issues with communication, moving past what's comfortable, and learning to listen to your own heart. Apart from the love, Perkins touches on family issues, school problems, and everything that comes with being an American abroad.

I'd read many rave reviews for this book before finally picking up my own copy, and boy, am I glad that I did! It was romantic, hilarious, frustrating, and lovely. It was fantastic following Anna as she explored Paris and it makes me want to go even more! I loved meeting a boy like St. Clair, who might be adorable and sweet...but who is also just a regular teenage boy in many ways. That was a refreshing change from most YA love interests.

If you love Anna, then you get two companion novels (Lola and the Boy Next Door and the soon-to-be-released Isla and the Happily Ever After). I'm excited to read more by Perkins and I hope the rest of you give her a shot, whether the title works for you or not! You just might be surprised.

Music Pick for this Novel

The song that I felt was a good fit for Anna and the French Kiss was Paris (Ooh La La) by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

I feel like it sums up Anna's frustrations and enjoyments when finding herself falling for St. Clair quite nicely...especially with the reference to Paris!



Please Please Please...with a Cherry on Top?

 
Don't forget to grab free e-book copies of Michael Harling's novel and non-fiction works!

At the same time, please please please enter the cover contest giveaway!! It's just for fun; you don't need to be a fantastic artist. This isn't a hardcore contest. We're just trying to spread the word about the novel and Michael Harling and see what fans can come up with when given the chance to "choose" the cover!

If you have any questions, please let me know!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bunbury Food Attack

Photo Source
The Food of Bunbury
 
by Lauren Becker and Julie Hammond

One of the most important aspects of a music festival...apart from the acts playing...is the food. If you're going to spend a whole day at a festival (and for Bunbury, that's three whole days in a row) then you're going to need some good food to keep your energy up! Of course, there is plenty of beer for those that want it...but if you're like me, you want other forms of hydration. I purchased a bottle of water for 3 bucks, which is honestly not bad for a festival. Plus, I got to keep the lid so it didn't heat up as fast.

Most delicious though was the smoothie I got from Maui Wowi (photo above). I remember it being good last year and this was year was no different. So so refreshing and just the right size! I got a regular size for 6 bucks, but a small was $4 and if you bought your largest smoothie in a plastic tiki cup, you paid $8. I ended up choosing the Mango Orange which was so tasty. You could choose between that, Strawberry Banana, and Black Raspberry.

Along with my smoothie, I visited the lemonade/pretzel stand and got myself a pretzel with salt. You can ask for it without too, so that's nice. The lemonade and pretzels were together but they had two lines depending on what you wanted...though I did notice one girl getting a lemonade also ordered a pretzel and they didn't comment, so that's cool. Obviously, the pretzel is nothing fancy but it was tasty and better than others I've gotten at sports games, etc.

And finally, I got some Dojo Gelato, which was very good. Julie talks about it below, so I'll give the "floor" to her now-

Julie Hammond's Food Thoughts

Dojo Gelato is a recent Cincinnati favorite.  While the handmade classic has only been around since 2009 it’s easily one of the best gelato shops in the city. If you want to experience amazing gelato, you must try the sea salt caramel. However, since Dojo makes coffee flavored drinks and ice cream specials, I highly recommend the Affogato (Two scoops of gelato drowned in espresso).


Photo by Julie Hammond

If you're a bacon lover you will be delighted by the Urban Grill Food Truck (photo above). Three slices of bacon are served with maple syrupy goodness on a stick. While it's quite messy, there's no denying that it's one tasty treat.  To complete your breakfast cravings roll on by Taste of Belgium- waffles that will satisfy any sweet tooth.


Photo by Julie Hammond
 
It's a complete shame that Island Noodles (photo above) isn't a local restaurant. Island Noodles has one of the best teriyaki chicken and noodle dinners I've ever had the experience of tasting.  While the long line might discourage some from this grand tasting adventure, it is worth the wait! Not only is the food mouthwatering, but the portions are large enough for two or three people.

If you're looking to spice up your Bunbury experience then you must check out Arloi Dee Thai Bistro. The bistro has everything meatballs to Thai noodles and wontons-you will not be disappointed but be prepared for zingy flavor.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Reviews: Let it Bleed and Lust for Life


Let it Bleed by Jeri Smith-Ready

Review by Lauren

copy from her website

Official Summary DO NOT READ SUMMARY IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THIS SERIES: Con artist-turned-radio-station-manager Ciara Griffin hopes to settle into a normal un-life as a fledgling vampire, with the help of her immortally hot fiancé, grunge DJ Shane McAllister. But she has bigger problems than finding a sane blood donor and a new home for those boxes of mac ’n’ cheese. Ciara’s best friend mourns her like she’s dead instead of undead, and her own maker clearly wishes she’d never been born (again). Worst of all, the WVMP crew calls a Code Black: hippie vampire DJ Jim has murdered a pair of humans—humans who share Ciara’s true last name.

That’s when trouble rolls out the red carpet, straight into Ciara’s life. At Shane’s first live concert, Ciara finds herself face to face with her Irish Traveller cousins, a not-so-welcome family reunion that might hold the key to Ciara’s anti-holy blood. Jim’s spiral into madness makes Ciara an unwilling prize in his deadly feud with Shane. As Ciara clings to what’s left of her humanity, she’ll need her new vampire strength—and old con artist cunning—now more than ever.

Review: Most of the time, when an author offers up a novella online, it's an additional part of their story but not a necessity to read. This is not the case for Let it Bleed. If you want to learn more about this book (3.5 in the WVMP series) then visit Jeri's website. However, for now, all you need to know is that Let it Bleed cannot be skipped if you want the full story of Ciara and the vampire DJs.

Let it Bleed might not be a full WVMP novel, but it still ups the stakes for the final novel, Lust for Life. Ciara's biological family shows up and makes things more complicated...especially since one of the DJs is slowly losing their mind and has killed their relatives. Yeah, not fun. Ciara definitely cannot catch a break.

I don't want to give too much away, because I know a lot of you haven't read this series yet. Let's just say that Jeri is awesome for being willing to offer up a novella in order to give her fans a full story. It's still free at the moment, but soon you'll have to pay a bit to get Let it Bleed. Get it now if you can, sure, but it's always a nice idea to support authors when you can...especially ones as awesome as Jeri!

In the end, I love that Let it Bleed shows how even the "good guys" can have their problems.


Lust for Life by Jeri Smith-Ready

Review by Lauren

copy sent for review, but all opinions are my own

Official Summary- AGAIN, DO NOT READ SUMMARY UNLESS YOU'VE READ UP TO THIS BOK: Ciara’s con-artist parents taught her three keys to survival: keep low, keep quiet, and most of all, keep moving. But managing WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock ’n’ Roll—not to mention becoming a vampire herself—has kept her in one place long enough to fall madly in love, adopt an undead dog...

. . . and make more enemies than she can shake a stake at.

A psychotic DJ, a wanna-be necromancer, and a posse of vengeful hippies would all love to see Ciara get her day in the sun—literally. To protect Ciara, her fiancé, Shane, has traded his flannel shirt and guitar for a flak jacket and crossbow. If she survives to walk down the aisle, will she recognize the man waiting at the altar?

In this final chapter of the award-winning WVMP RADIO series, Ciara must decide who to trust, who to love—and who to kill.


Review: I'm sad to see this series end. I loved the unique take on vampires, how important music is to the characters throughout the series, and obviously, how awesome the characters are in general. They might not all be good, but they are certainly layered and there are many you can't help but love despite their bad decisions...while others are simply so much fun to hate!

Music has always been a key ingredient in what keeps the WVMP vampires sane, but it's something that Ciara clings too as well. I've always loved the references to various artists and songs, and Lust for Life upped the ante when it comes to music because it becomes so much more than just a fun pastime. It was a nice way to take the musical influence and I loved it!

Again, I don't want to go on and on about the books because I do want people to read this and I'd hate for the big things to be ruined. Lust for Life is certainly an exciting read and a wonderful conclusion to the series. You have to read it to find out how it all ends but wowee, I didn't see that coming!

My Sweet Lollipops Deal Offer

I wanted to make sure everyone saw Julie's comment on the Lollipop page!

Hi, I'm Julie @ My Sweet Lollipops.. If you want to place a order, I will give this group a fun discount. You will receive 6 lollipops $12.00 I also design , so if you have something fun coming up, they are fun to share.. Just convo me a message on Etsy, and let me know you are part of the Shooting Stars Mag....https://www.etsy.com/shop/MySweetLollipops

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wishing on a Shooting Star With T.M. Goeglein


The sequel to Cold Fury, Flicker and Burn, is coming out August 20th! Pre-order now on Amazon or The Book Depository!

Wishing on a Shooting Star
 
Guest Post by T.M. Goeglein

For the record, every human being in the history of the world has wished for something. Even cavemen sat around a fire (did they have fire?) watching stars cross the sky, hoping for grilled dinosaur or less back hair.  If I were fortunate enough to see five shooting stars in a row, I’d wish –

For long lives, perfect health, and uninterrupted happiness for my little son and daughter (I wish this everyday, anyway).

That I could bounce through time, witnessing all of the amazing historical moments I’ve heard and read about to see if they actually happened the way I was taught.

That I owned a tree that bore golden fruit, like, 14K apples or grapefruit or something that each weighed sixty-five pounds.

That I could smoke without it hurting me; that’s why I chew tons of bubble gum.

That readers like the stories I write. I do it for them as much as for myself.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Literary Party: Bookworm Party Favors


Itz Whimzeycal Design Studio

Review by Lauren

Check out the website here!

product sent for review, but all opinions are my own

Review: Another fun product I was able to utilize for my literary themed party were the bookworm party favors available at Itz Whimzeycal. I knew I wanted something that really fit my theme of a group of girls coming together to celebrate our love for books. These favors are the perfect thing! I was sent supplies to put together ten girls, which ended up being the perfect amount (I have a couple left over that I hope to use in the future).


When you receive your favors, the girls are already adorned with their ribbons, and you get the plastic dome for the treats, and the white board for underneath. The white part has a ribbon attached so you can pull the bottom out of the plastic dome and eat whatever is inside! All I had to do once I received my items was to hot glue the girls on top of the plastic dome, fill it up with treats, and push the white bottom up into the dome and voila! Everything is together and it looks fantastic!

I ended up choosing gummy worms to put in my favors as they represent "book worms" but the shop tells you:
 
Containers can hold up to one cup of candy such as
- M&M's
- Skittles
- Gumballs
- Chewy Lemon Heads Candy
- Mike & Ikes

You have plenty of options for your next party as to what type of favors you want too. You can go with the bookworms like I did (which went over well with my guests!! Everyone seemed to find them adorable!) but there are other ideas too! There are bumble bees (perfect for a baby shower), the classic princess collection (any girl would be sure to love this), and so much more!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Give Gift Guide Ideas!

do not own- source


Late last year, I started doing gift guides with various themes. You can see one of them here; All Things Halloween. I love looking up gifts for people so I thought it would be fun to continue this "series" if you will.

Therefore, I need to know: what type of gift guide posts would you like to see? School-themed gifts? Things for baby showers? Anything!

Please leave a comment!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Literary Party: My Sweet Lollipops


My Sweet Lollipops

Review by Lauren

products sent for review; I paid for shipping; all opinions are still my own

Visit My Sweet Lollipops on Etsy

I mentioned last month that I was planning a literary themed party for some of my girlfriends. I ended up getting strep throat the day that I was supposed to have it, so it was put off for about a month. However, the party finally occurred this past Thursday and I think it was a success!

Adding to the atmosphere of the party were my literary themed lollipops from Julie at My Sweet Lollipops. When I had contacted Julie about possibly doing something for the party or even just the blog, I mentioned my love for her Alice in Wonderland lollipops. As such, she sent me some Alice pops for the party...as well as my choice of any other book. I ended up going with Harry Potter, as it was a more modern book I knew most of my friends enjoyed.

The above photo was taken from the etsy shop, so you can get a closer look at the Alice lollipops. Aren't they adorable? I do want to note that some of the photos are a bit difficult to see when you first open up the wrapping. As funny as it sounds, just lick over the photo and it will become shiny and easier to view!

These lollipops were a wonderful addition to my food table. I actually used my cake pop stand to have them more noticeable! I think the look turned out well. As for the taste, I tried one of the white Alice suckers and really enjoyed it! A couple of my friends went with the black and had mixed opinions on what they thought it tasted like (one said grape, the other didn't think so) but both of them seemed to enjoy it overall. While the party was for girls only, a guy friend came over afterwards and I gave him some lollipops to try out. He wanted more to bring home, so I happily obliged!

Another positive that I want to note is that these lollipops do last. I had them ready to go for my party last month, but since I had to postpone, I was worried they wouldn't taste as good once I rescheduled. Julie assured me they would be fine, and each lollipop is individually wrapped so that's certainly nice. Obviously, I had nothing to fear!


My Sweet Lollipops is a fantastic shop that was super easy to work with! You can visit her shop to find all sorts of fun designs, perfect for all your party needs, or you can contact Julie about a special design. I could imagine authors having these lollipops made with their own book covers! It's something I would do!!

Thanks again to Julie for offering me some lollipops to try out and share with my friends. As for the actual Literary Party, I'll be posting about that on my party blog ASAP!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bunbury Saturday Night!

Tree Climber; photo by Julie Hammond

Bunbury Saturday Night

Post and Photos by Julie Hammond

Chairlift; photo by Julie Hammond


Chairlift started off my particular night with a twist. Their music reminded me of a mix of the game theme song Zelda and “Gotta Catch ‘Em All”. The band was a quirky cute collaboration that was a perfect start to the Saturday night lineup. Twenty One Pilots played an array of songs but my favorite song was the hit, “Holding On To You”. There were so many avid fans that some resorted to climbing trees in order to see the band better! The majority of the crowd seemed to know the words to each song and was singing along. It was especially amazing when the lead singer stepped on an amp, climbed the stage and began to sing to the crowd. The audience screamed their approval by the dare devil stunt.

We Are Scientists; photo by Julie Hammond

We Are Scientists had hands down the best banter between each song they played. While their music was as enjoyable, the banter was what made watching them a particularly delight. The band encouraged the crowd to shout out answers and was both witty and smart. “After Hours” had each fan dancing, singing and laughing. They were the best band to watch if I entirely based it on the set as a whole

 
Cake; photo by Julie Hammond
 

The tree dwellers were back by the time Cake rolled in. “I Wanna Love You Madly” was an exhilarating song that made many sway and giggle. Couples everywhere swooned along with Cake and their catchy lyrics. MGMT ended the night with a slam. Trippy images played in the background as the band took the stage. A blow up doll and whale were passed along the crowd and soon became crowd surfers. By the time “Time to Pretend” was played, everyone was dancing and crowded amongst the stage. It was a great end to the Saturday night crowd. 
 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Beat the Heat Swap Reveal


I love blog swaps! It's fun to get to know new bloggers and receive some fab goodies in the mail. I also really like shopping for other people! Due to some odd numbers, I didn't shop for the person who shopped for me.

Instead, I gave items to Lin from Linny's Vault--- you can see what I gave her here!
Lin was also the co-host of this Beat the Heat swap; thanks so much!

As for the person who gave to me, that would be Katie at Katers Potaters.

Everything I received is shown above, but here are a few closer-up photos.


I got two lovely photo frames. One even has Memories at the bottom, which is cool! The Love Is All You Need square is actually hanging from my bedroom mirror right now!


I got some Crystal light packages, fun summer cookie cutters, key caps, and a lovely tumbler that reads "May All Your Days Be Filled With Umbrella Drinks." Cute, huh?


Finally, I got two nail polishes, some cucumber scented face wipes, a cute notebook, and Baby Lips balm. I am so happy to finally have Baby Lips because I've been wanting to try it, and it's awesome! Also, I used the notebook for my Bunbury notes this past weekend...came in handy! Love the polish and hope to do my nails soon.

And I love those cucumber wipes. Where can I get more? Anyone know?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Bunbury Friday Night


Glowing balls during Fun. Photo by Julie Hammond
A Bunbury Friday Night (the music)

Post by Julie Hammond


Tegan and Sara set (all photos are taken through the screen). Photo by Lauren Becker


Friday night was jam packed with Fun (Pun intended)! Tegan and Sara gave a great kick off to the night with a poignant but sweet serenade. Their songs invoked both a fiery passion and complete giddiness throughout the crowd. It’s hard to imagine that the Canadian duo started in 1995, but became popular in 2001, because each song is unique and modern.  The majority of the set list derived from their new album, Heartthrob but they did play a few classics like “Living Room” and “Back in Your Head”, which had this writer dancing and jumping for joy.


Photo by Lauren Becker
Walk the Moon, a local band, has recently gained more attention in the past year and was an instant favorite of the crowd that night. Many Bunburians were wearing war paint, and to war we went. The band was rather interactive with the audience and each band member seemed as entranced by the music as the crowd. It was a constant upbeat mix of happy tunes that made everyone dance and sing along.
Fun.'s Set. Photo by Julie Hammond
Fun, was just that-it was a whole lot of action packed fun. The band genuinely looked like they were having the time of their lives and loved every moment of performing. Nate Ruess brought out the stops with his impeccably honey smooth voice that hit every note with poise. Every song gained more momentum and egged on the audience. Both confetti and glowing balloons were projected into the air that night during the band’s hit singles like “Carry On”, “Some Nights” and a personal favorite-“We Are Young”. It would be physically impossible to not sing or at least dance along to the music. It was truly a great way to kick off the weekend.

J.K. Rowling Published Under a Pseudonym

photo from article
 
We all know that J.K. Rowling's adult debut was The Casual Vacancy...but sneaky author that she is...she published an adult mystery novel under the name Robert Galbraith. The first book, in what appears to be a new series, is titled The Cuckoo’s Calling.

You can read all about the novel and its unmasking over at The Telegraph.

J.K. was quoted as saying:

I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.
 
Personally, I love mystery novels so I really want to check this out. I love J.K. (of course!!) but it's also a novel that just sounds good.
 
Here is the summary for those interested: After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, thelegendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.
 
You can buy the book as a hardcover or kindle edition on Amazon.
 
What do you all think about this J.K. Rowling novel? Will you check it out?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bunbury Band Interview: Bethesda


Bethesda, questions answered by Shanna, Dan, and Eric

Interview by Lauren
Visit their website and Listen to Their Music!

Bunbury Guests: Catch Bethesda on Sunday 7/14 (tomorrow) at the Lawn Stage from 3:30 to 4:15
  1.   Your song "Go" is reminiscent of She and Him. Do you find that particular comparison accurate at all? How would you describe Bethesda's sound?

That song has never gotten that comparison before (at least no one has told us), but we are very flattered. We love when people compare us to great musicians, because it means that they are thinking of us in the same thought bubble as some of the best in the business – and that never gets old! I think it is fair to say that we have a very wide range of influences that come across in our music. What is unique about our band is that everyone in the band writes their parts for each song. That means the musical influences of each band member (and we have 6 total) are present on every single song. As a result, I feel we have a very original sound that can be reminiscent of many different bands at the same time. 

If we had to describe our sound, I think we would say that it is high-energy indie rock with a folk lean and an emphasis on stories. We strive to be original and write songs that we love. We never intentionally grasp at a certain sound and avoid any sort of schtick as a band, and I think that helps keep everything fresh. But we highly encourage comparisons from anyone who listens to us and sincerely wish to be on each of their playlists by the end of our show.



 2. Bethesda's music includes a mixture of instruments, including keys and the banjo. Was including these sounds in your music always the goal, or did it evolve when you met the various band members?


I think it is a combination. When we started, we had very open minds about what Bethesda was going to be. Mainly, we focus on building a soundscape that does each song justice. Sometimes this means playing the instruments that we are best at, and sometimes it means pushing ourselves to learn a new instrument (or at least a part on a new instrument), because that is what is best for the song. We are a vision band. We compose the bones of a song and then talk about the story. We envision the song as a complete intentional composition and then add whatever is needed in order to get the sound we are looking for. 

We are actually quite a bit more stripped down and raw on this record, as most of the instrumentation are instruments that we are relatively competent at playing. On previous records we have had bells, euphoniums, trumpets, weird percussive instruments, shouts and anything else we could come up with. That being said, adding talented musicians like Christopher Black (keys, violin) and Jesse Scaggs (lead guitar, banjo) in the past year and a half certainly helps :)! Maybe on the next album we will start and end each song with amateur saxaphone solos...who knows!?



 Bethesda's Video for the Song "Go": check their site to download the song for free!






3. As residents of Ohio, how do you feel about the state finally having its own music festival? Were you able to attend Bunbury last year at all?


Unfortunately, we were unable to attend Bunbury last year, but friends of ours did and we heard all of the great buzz surrounding it. So, it was a no-brainer to accept the invitation to play Bunbury this year. Ohio has a great long list of wonderful festivals that get a lot of local/regional attention and are building a few that get national attention, and we are very proud to be a part of growing Ohio's reputation for putting out and hosting great music! That being said, Bunbury has arrived on the scene with a bang! They are curating one of the top festivals in the nation in only their second year. We have all kinds of Ohio love and as a natural result – all kinds of Bunbury love! We can't wait! 



4. What musical acts are you currently listening too?


Well, whatever is on the top 40 ya know....if everyone is singing it, it has to be good...right? Hahaha (joking of course)

In all seriousness, though, we are all over the map on this one as there are six of us, and we all listen to very different music. We have an appreciation for most musical genres and can be found listening to vastly different music on any given band van ride. We love creative, original music that builds up and is honest, rather than degrading and pre-packaged. We are really digging our Bunbury playlists right now, though, and can't wait to catch these guys live!! Shanna and I (Eric) have our 6th year wedding anniversary this Sunday, and are getting to see Belle and Sebastian - a band that frequently found its way onto the mixes we made for each other while dating. So they are getting a little bit of extra attention lately. Sorry for the cop out answer – but it is the God's honest truth. :) One thing we can all agree on? EIGHTIES! 


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bunbury Music Festival is Almost Here!

It's that time of year again! I have once again been lucky enough to receive media passes for the Bunbury Music Festival this weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio. Therefore, you will probably see a lot of posts in the next week about Bunbury - the music, the set-up, the festival in general. I try and keep my blog posts to only one a day but since not all of you care about Bunbury or the music, I will try and include two posts certain days! Regardless, you should check these posts out just to see if attending this festival would be of interest to you or anyone you know next year...plus, we can talk music if you're interested!

For those of you curious who all will be attending this year's Bunbury, you can find the lineup (and times they play) for every day this weekend here!

twenty one pilots

One thing I hope to do at Bunbury this year is find some new music - or hear more from the artists that I know a little bit by. An act that I'd love to see live (they play Saturday at 5:45) is twenty one pilots. A lot of you might know their song "Holding On To You."

Tegan and Sara

As for a band that I already know and love is Tegan and Sara who play Friday night. I can't wait to see them live, as I never have before. You should definitely check out their single "Closer." So good, and very catchy!

Overall, this should be a great festival! I love that the location is the same, and more than anything, I'm excited to have a local music festival!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Top Ten Best Movie Adaptations


Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and the Bookish - link up with them every Tuesday. As for me, sorry this is late...but it's still Tuesday where I'm at!

Top Ten Best Movie Adaptations
in no particular order
 
I'm one of those people that tends to enjoy any movie adaptation based on a book. I understand that they are different forms of art and not everything that I love about the book will be included in the novel. Therefore, I'm going to try and focus on some books that I love whose movie I also highly enjoyed...you may not agree, but hey, that's half the fun!
 
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: for those that are picky about the movie version of books, I think the first HP film was probably the most accurate in terms of details. At any rate, I loved all the movies so I figured I'd stick with the first instead of filling up my list with eight HP movies.
 
2. A Walk to Remember: this is the one and only Nicholas Sparks novel I've read. I actually finished this the morning before I saw the movie. Great film though; both the book and movie are very emotional.
 
3. The Hunger Games: I think this was fairly close to the novel...I loved how they really showed the difference in lifestyle between the districts and the Capitol.
 
4. Of Mice and Men: great book, and I think the movie was very well done. I still see Gary Sinise and think "George!"
 
5. Bridge to Terabithia: this is one of those childhood classics so I know many probably didn't enjoy the movie, but I personally loved it. I was a fan of the two main actors (Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb) at the time so that probably helped. Regardless, I still felt the emotion of the story and that's the main thing.
 
6. A Streetcar Named Desire: I just read this play and saw the film for the first time this past semester. I highly enjoyed both, but I do think seeing the movie is one of the best ways to "live" the story. I love reading plays, but it's nothing compared to seeing it...so the next best thing to seeing the play is watching the movie. Marlon Brandon is fantastic---you'll hate him, but the acting is great!
 
7. The Lovely Bones: this is a bleak novel, and I think the movie really grasped that. It showed the horrific nature of this man, who preys on young girls. The scene in the bathroom is just terrible, but very well done cinematically.
 
8. Watchmen: this is actually a graphic novel that seems to  read both like a graphic novel and a narrative novel. It's definitely something that would be difficult to turn into a film, but I love the movie just as much as the book. The ending is changed --- which might upset people, but it actually makes a lot of sense in the film and I almost wish it was the real ending.
 
9. Holes: another book I loved as a child. I was so excited when they made it into a film, and I honestly love it. It's one of those movies that you can just sit down and watch whenever. I liked the eclectic group of boys in both the novel and film.
 
10. About a Boy: there is a bit changed, from what I remember, between the book and movie...but most of that is in terms of cutting certain character's down and focusing on the bigger, more important aspects of the story. I love this movie and have for a long time. I actually saw the movie before I read the book, but now I love the book and want to read it again (it's been awhile if you can't tell) and Nick Hornby has become a favorite author.