Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bunbury 2K15: The Music, The Food, The Fun

Walk the Moon- Photo by Kari Becker
I attended the Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio, with my sister, Kari over the second weekend in June. We were provided with free tickets to review the show, but all opinions throughout this post are our own. This post will be a mix of bands, food, and other festival notes. I will have future Bunbury posts too, so if you have any specific questions, please let me know and I'll answer those later!

Friday, June 12

First off, the main band of Friday was Walk the Moon (at least for my sister and me). The leading artists for each night were actually The Black Keys, The Avett Brothers, and Snoop Dogg (yeah, that was a bit random to me too.) With an already full weekend and some random rain, we didn't see any of the main bands. However, we saw the artists that we really wanted to check out and that's the main thing I think!

Walk the Moon - Photo by Kari Becker
Walk the Moon were a lot of fun and definitely high energy. My sister was closer to the stage, but she still had to use the two screens on both sides of the stage to get photos. There were a ton of people, but Walk the Moon is a Cincinnati band, so it makes sense. One of the changes for the main stage this year is that there was another large screen further back from the stage so it allowed people in the way back to really see what was happening on stage. I stayed back for most of the shows on the main stage, so this was great!

Walk the Moon- Photo by Kari Becker
Like I said above, there were some random rain showers that were a bit of a bummer. This seems to happen a lot at Bunbury, which is interesting since this year's show was moved from the second weekend in July to the second weekend in June. At any rate, where Bunbury is located, there are two big bridges so a lot of people just hung out under there until things died down. I was pretty soaked by the time I reached one, but it was still better than standing in the rain non-stop.

Saturday, June 13

Graceful Closure- Photo by Lauren Becker
On Saturday, I immediately went to the stage where Graceful Closure would be playing. This stage is here every year, but what was different is that there is another, new stage to the left of it. Bunbury limited its stages this year which meant less walking between them, but it also limited the amount of artists that could play. I think it also caused a lot of congestion throughout the festival too; I talked to some other people that had been to previous festivals and they all seemed to agree that it was a lot more crowded, for whatever reason.

Graceful Closure is from Columbus, Ohio, which is one thing I love about Bunbury. They are always featuring more local artists that I didn't know before. I listened to a few of their songs before the show, so that's why I decided to see them live. They were a lot of fun, but I still think "Chasing Fears" is my favorite from them.

Graceful Closure - Photo by Lauren Becker
The singer/guitarist and drummer are brothers, and the guy on keyboards (photo above) is an old friend. I always like hearing how people know each other within a band!

Graceful Closure - Photo by Lauren Becker

Graceful Closure- Photo by Lauren Becker
I think the band did a good job at interacting with the crowd. They even played some cover songs, which was nice for those that didn't really know their lyrics yet.

Graceful Closure- Photo by Lauren Becker
And finally, some girls in the crowd were yelling for them to play Echosmith and the lead singer was like "Oh, you've seen Youtube" because they have a cover of "Cool Kids" on there. He let the girls all come on stage to help him out, because he hadn't sung the song in awhile. These girls were all from England and Ireland, which is kind of awesome. Unfortunately, they didn't really help with the song, so another girl came on and helped a bit more, which is nice! It was still a fun, spontaneous moment.

Later that night, I went and saw Kacey Musgraves. She was an interesting addition to the festival as she's mostly country, but I think she fit in really well. She was a lot of fun and quite humorous! 

Kacey Musgraves- Photo by Lauren Becker
I knew some of her music beforehand, but I really fell in love with her stuff. She has two albums out now (the second was just released this month) so I need to buy those!

Kacey Musgraves- Photo by Lauren Becker
There isn't a whole lot to say about Kacey besides the fact that I think you should check her out. She's fun, down to earth, and perfect for fans of country and those that aren't so sure! She's very real, and I love that.

Sunday, June 14

Brand New - Photo by Lauren Becker
On Sunday, I had to see Brand New because they have been a favorite of mine for years and I've never seen them live. Sorry the photos aren't that great - I was taking them off the back screen on the main stage because I wasn't that close to the actual stage. This was a good show though and they played a nice mix of older and newer songs, which is nice!

Brand New - Photo by Lauren Becker
One of my favorite songs by Brand New is called "Jesus Christ" and they played that, which really made my night. I wasn't sure if they would! Overall, it was a nice show and I'm happy to say that I've seen them live now.

All About That Food

Most of what my sister and I ate over the weekend were things that Bunbury had offered in the past. For example, we both had a smoothie from Maui Wowi. One of the things that were new is that they had flavored ice and oh goodness, this was fantastic. I had it Saturday and Sunday. Most flavored ice is mostly ice in my opinion, but these guys were not stingy with their flavoring!

On Saturday as well, my sister and I both got noodles from Island Noodles. We were going to bring some home for my mom but by the time we went back, they had closed up for the night (this was Sunday, I believe at that point).

Despite some of the usual, Bunbury did mix it up a bit this year with some new items. For one, they had Auntie Anne's pretzels and lemonade which I love and it tasted great. However, I don't think they are equipped for a festival. They had to make the pretzels at their truck and then bring them all the way to the booth where people ordered, and they only had so many pretzels each time. You stood in one long line to order and then another to wait for pretzels.

Photo by Kari Becker
And finally, on Sunday, I had Hungry Bros. Food Truck which is located in Cincinnati and just opened this past Spring. They were so good! We ran into a couple friends after Brand New so we all decided to go here and the friends both got something called Kevin Bacon something. Sorry I don't know the full name! I tried some and oh so yummy!

Photo by Kari Becker
The photo of the Kevin Bacon is above. I personally had a root beer float, which believe it or not, I have never had before. But seriously, amazing. I really love having cold options at festivals because it's so hot!

That Other Booth

Photo by Lauren Becker
And finally, I should mention that there were some merch booths as well as other booths to buy clothes, jewelry, etc. This one is called Arnar Limited and a friend of mine was helping to work the booth all weekend. My sister ended up buying one of the pocket tees you see in the photo. They are really cute and they look super comfy. My sister really likes the one she got. There was a girl there under the booth sewing on the pockets herself, which was cool to see.

And that's it! Sorry for the long post, but I didn't want to break everything up too much. If you have questions, let me know!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hole In My Life by Jack Gantos

Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: In the summer of 1971, Jack Gantos was an aspiring writer looking for adventure, cash for college tuition, and a way out of a dead-end job. For ten thousand dollars, he recklessly agreed to help sail a sixty-foot yacht loaded with a ton of hashish from the Virgin Islands to New York City, where he and his partners sold the drug until federal agents caught up with them. For his part in the conspiracy, Gantos was sentenced to serve up to six years in prison.

In Hole in My Life, this prizewinning author of over thirty books for young people confronts the period of struggle and confinement that marked the end of his own youth. On the surface, the narrative tumbles from one crazed moment to the next as Gantos pieces together the story of his restless final year of high school, his short-lived career as a criminal, and his time in prison. But running just beneath the action is the story of how Gantos - once he was locked up in a small, yellow-walled cell - moved from wanting to be a writer to writing, and how dedicating himself more fully to the thing he most wanted to do helped him endure and ultimately overcome the worst experience of his life.

Review: Jack Gantos is a writer of popular middle grade fiction, but before he ever got to that point, he was arrested for helping to sail a boat to New York City full of drugs in order to earn ten thousand dollars. I read Jack Gantos last semester (in the fall) for my children’s fiction course, and this semester (the spring), I read Hole in My Life for my young adult literature course. It was interesting to read how a young man was able to drastically turn his life around. Young Gantos was not a bad kid, but he obviously made some really bad decisions that led him on his path to jail.

Much of the book focuses on Gantos finishing high school and how he ended up meeting the people who were smuggling drugs. It takes a bit to get to the parts about his time in jail, but I didn’t mind this. Honestly, I’m hesitant to read books set in jails, especially true stories, but this was an assigned book, so I plunged in, not sure what I would think.

Overall, I liked Hole in My Life. It’s a short, quick read that shows the consequences of one’s actions, as well as the necessity to have passion and positive goals in one’s life. Despite the lessons one can learn from this book, it never felt preachy. Each chapter was almost like an essay in Gantos’ life, where everything eventually comes together to complete one full story. As for the chapters about Gantos’ time in jail, they were tough to read, but it was helpful knowing he gets out of prison and ends up on a better path.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Let's Get Beyond Tolerance Blog is BACK!

For those that aren't aware, I started an LGBT entertainment and news blog for a YA audience back in 2010 and I posted there until 2012. Time goes by and it's difficult to run one blog, let alone two or more, so I ended up not posting there anymore. However, I have been wanting to bring it back for awhile now and with marriage equality in the United States, I thought it was the perfect time. Please visit the blog now to see the first post of 2015.

This blog, titled Let's Get Beyond Tolerance, was created with authors Catherine Ryan Hyde and Lee Bantle, and they will continue to be part of it in the future with random thoughts and reviews. I will be the main author of the blog though.

The blog already has some followers from back when we first created it, but I don't know who is paying attention so I'd really appreciate it if you could spread the word, follow the blog, etc. If you have something you want us to feature on the blog, get in touch.

The same rule for comments that I do here applies there too, which means that if you leave a comment on that blog, I will visit your blog (if you have one) and comment on one of your posts. It's all about building relationships and keeping in touch.

If you have any questions, let me know! You can contact me here: lauren51990 AT aol DOT com or leave a comment on either blog.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ask Me Anything - Answers!

My goofy selfie in the NYC hotel for BEA

It's been about a month since I had my Ask Me Anything post, and now it's time I finally shared the answers to all your questions.

What is your all time favorite read ever? My favorite book? I usually say The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

Favorite movie? I'm sure I could name many, but I really love Life as a House.

What is your favorite place you've ever visited? I haven't been to that many places, to be honest! I guess New York City because I've been there a few times and there is always something fun and exciting to see/do.

Growing up, what did you aspire to be and why? When I was younger, I was interested in being a teacher. For the most part though, I've always wanted to be an author because I love books!

What was the best part of BEA for you? Making connections with some publicists! It was great to feel more a part of things.

What do you hope to have achieved by the time you are 30? I would love to have a book published, but at the very least, having an agent/publishing deal by that point. I also really hope I've visited England by then!

How was your weekend at BEA? Did you get all the books you wanted? BEA was a lot of fun. I didn't get ALL the books  I wanted, but I got many, and it was fun to find out about new titles while there.

What was the absolute best part of BEA (and the worst part, while we're at it!)? As I said above, I got to meet with some publicists and make more connections, which was awesome. I also really liked walking around and talking to smaller publishers, etc. The worst part? Probably just all the walking you do in NYC in general. I have sensitive feet so they were so sore.

When did you discover your love for books? I don't remember ever NOT liking to read. I used to read all the time as a kid, just like I do now.

I want to know all the HP-related stuff: favourite book in the series, favourite character, house choice, wand choice, patronus choice?? 

Book - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and then Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Character: Draco Malfoy
House Choice: Slytherin (I'm a Slytherin on Pottermore actually)
Wand Choice: I don't know! I'd love a darker wood, and unicorn hair would be fun.
Patronus Choice: Hmm...I really like Penguins! :)

Do you have anything special that you do on your birthday each year? Any rituals, besides birthday cake and presents? I don't really! My family usually goes out to eat (birthday person's choice) but the place differs every year, for the most part.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

'89 Walls by Katie Pierson

'89 Walls by Katie Pierson

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: College is not in the cards for Seth. He spends his minimum wage on groceries and fakes happiness to distract his mom from the MS they both know will kill her. It’s agony to carry around a frayed love note for a girl who’s both out of his league and beneath his dignity.

Quinn’s finishing high school on top. But that cynical, liberal guy in her social studies class makes her doubt her old assumptions. Challenging the rules now, though, would a) squander her last summer at home, b) antagonize her conservative dad, and c) make her a hypocrite.

Seth and Quinn’s passionate new romance takes them both by surprise. They keep it a secret: it’s too early to make plans and too late not to care. But it’s 1989. As politics suddenly get personal, they find themselves fighting bare-fisted for their beliefs and each other—in the clear light of day.

Review: '89 Walls was an emotional read about teenagers Seth and Quinn, who are falling for each other when it might be too late. College is fast approaching and Seth doesn't plan on going, while Quinn is going to another state. Seth's mom is suffering from MS, and while she loves Seth and wants him to succeed, she also relies on his help as they can't afford a nurse to come stay with them. As for Quinn, she is from a well-to-do family who doesn't have to worry about money and she knows that she can easily leave home to attend college and better herself for the future.
It seems like an odd pairing, but they work for the most part. They do have issues that they have to overcome and they don't always agree on things. Their relationship starts as antagonistic in social studies class, as Quinn tends to parrot her father's conservative views and Seth likes to fight back with more liberal thoughts. These obviously come from their life experiences, but they have a lot to learn from each other.

There are a lot of adult themes in this book, and I feel like Pierson handled it well. I liked that the book took place in 1989 because it's interesting to see how things are different, and yet still the same, in today's time. '89 Walls was worth reading, but it wasn't a favorite of mine. I would still recommend it to those that like contemporary/realistic novels that deal with some tougher topics.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Geek Physics by Rhett Allain

Geek Physics by Rhett Allain

Review by Lauren

Source: copy for review (Wiley/Turner Publishing); all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Have you ever wondered whether a human could really fly with wings like a bird’s? What about how many zombies you could actually drive through? Or whether airplanes could save fuel by using iPads instead of paper safety manuals? How about whether Superman could really punch someone into space?

In Geek Physics, Rhett Allain, a physics professor and Wired’s popular Dot Physics blogger, finds intriguing questions buried in familiar movies and TV shows, video games, viral videos, and news hooks and walks readers through the fascinating answers from a physics perspective, without all the complicated details. Geek Physics appeals not just to the geek oriented but also to anyone who loves pop culture and technology.

With illustrations, basic equations, and easy-to-read graphs and diagrams, each chapter not only covers the most popular subjects from Allain’s blog, like lightsabers and McDonald’s drive-thrus, but uses those questions from a less technical approach to teach basic physics concepts. What better way to explain the nature of light than to consider how Gollum could see in the dark?

Review: I was really excited that I received this book for review because I knew some of the information would be really fascinating. I'm not a science person; it was always a class that I struggled with. However, Allain does a pretty good job at breaking down the science so I understood most of what I read. There were some sections of the book that I wasn't as interested in, like sports related questions, but I really liked most of it.

My favorite section was definitely chapter two as that related to all things superheroes. You have the question "Would the Hulk break up the road whenever he jumped?" and even the topic "The physics of Thor's Hammer". I won't give anything away, because that would defeat the purpose of the book, but it's interesting to see how real life physics can help answer some of these unrealistic questions, as we don't really have superheroes!

This is definitely a good fit for those that like science, of course, but it's also good for people that are interested in learning random facts, like technology, and enjoy various aspects of pop culture. Father's Day has just passed, but I could see a lot of fathers enjoying this one!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge

Eeny Meeny by M. J. Arlidge

Review by Lauren

Source: copy for review; all opinions are my own

Official Summary: Two people are abducted, imprisoned, and left with a gun. As hunger and thirst set in, only one walks away alive.

It’s a game more twisted than any Detective Helen Grace has ever seen. If she hadn’t spoken with the shattered survivors herself, she almost wouldn’t believe them.

Helen is familiar with the dark sides of human nature, including her own, but this case—with its seemingly random victims—has her baffled. But as more people go missing, nothing will be more terrifying than when it all starts making sense....

Review: I am fascinated by stories such as these - the psychological thrillers that seem too insane to be true, yet you know that they could occur in real life. This isn't the book for everyone though. It's intense and full of horrible little details. At the same time, the pages move quick and you're left in suspense until the very end as to what is happening and how Detective Helen Grace will make it through.

Eeny Meeny is the first book in the Helen Grace series, and it was a huge hit in Europe before finally making its way to the U.S. this month. Helen Grace is a tough cop who everyone either looks up to, wants to be, or is a bit afraid of, but she knows how to get the job done. This new string of killings though has her baffled. Two people are kidnapped with the option of either them both starving to death or one person using the gun they are left with (only one bullet) to kill the other captive. If this is the route they take, they are set free, and yet, they will never really be free of what they were forced to do in order to survive.

Just this idea had me instantly fascinated and it was curious to see what the captives ended up doing and when. The book is told in third person point of view, so you are given insight into a variety of characters. You get both captives (during each kidnapping), Helen Grace, other cops on the case, and even some past memories and thoughts of the kidnapper (these are in italics in my advanced copy to differentiate from the rest of the book).

Overall, I loved this novel and it would be a great choice for people like me who like the psychology behind crime. I can't wait to read more from Helen Grace. The international editions of the next two, Pop Goes the Weasel and The Doll's House, are out now. The fourth title in the series, Liar Liar, is released this September.