Jun 30, 2012

Saturday Sweet Links: the writer's edition.

I am always compiling an ongoing list of links/quotes/videos and I've noticed a trend in the list recently, so this weeks Sweet Links edition is for the writer...

An incredible video for aspiring writers/artists/musicians/anyone:

Great articles:
Leave Out Any Extra Words That You Don't Really Need from Caragh O'Brien
The Writing Affliction by Lauren DeStefano <---excellent article my friend Melissa shared with me.

"There is also no 'wanting' to be a writer. There’s wanting to be published, sure, and there’s wanting to be better. But if this is your path, then in all probability, there comes a day in which you reach the awareness that you just ARE a writer." -Lauren DeStefano 

 Great blogs for writers:

I love this list of blogging topic ideas.

If you have any to add to the list, please share.
Happy Saturday!


Jun 28, 2012

the.book.chat. {audiobooks}

It's Thursday again!
This week we are talking about audiobooks!  I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this topic.  You can share your favorites or you can just share your thoughts in general.  As always, anything goes!


I've only listened to three books on audiobook, so I'll give you my review on those three.

1. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
I "read" this for a YA Lit class in college.  I was so busy reading so much for school, when I found this audiobook at the library, I decided to listen to it during my long commutes.  It was my first experience with audiobooks and it was a very pleasant one.  Not only is this an excellent book, the audiobook, I think, made it even better.  Because the story took place around a Mexican family, the reader's accent and fluency in Spanish made the story that much more authentic.  I often found myself sitting in the driveway not wanting to get out of the car because I was too enthralled in the story.
As for the novel itself, I would say it's geared towards readers ages 10-16, but even I enjoyed it immensely.  It is such a beautiful story and it gave me a new perspective on a very controversial issue. I highly recommend it.
4 out of 5 stars

2. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
This was one audiobook where I felt reading the book would have been better simply because of the reader.  She had this very high-pithched, valley-girl voice.  It was almost unbearable at first.  I got used to it after a while, and I think it fit the story in a way.  I learned that the reader makes all the difference.  Room by Emma Donoghue was one audiobook that I could not even finish the first chapter because the readers voice was so unbearable.  It was an adult's voice read as a child's voice.  I just couldn't take it seriously.
As for Along for the Ride as a novel, I thought it was good, not great, but good.  I think it's probably just not my style.  The story was nice and there was a good amount of depth to it considering how I expected it to be on the shallow side.  I know there are many Dessen fans out there, and as far as contemporary teen lit goes, I can see why she's so popular.
3 out of 5 stars

3. Fire by Kristin Cashore
I love, love, love this book and audiobook. After listening to half of this book in my car, I chose to rent the physical book itself so that I could read it when I wasn't in my car. I couldn't get enough!  This did create a minor problem though because it was hard to find where I left off on the audiobook when I got back in my car. I actually preferred to listen to the audiobook because I enjoyed the reader's voice so much.  She had an exquisite British accent so that even when I was reading the book in bed at night, I was reading it with a British accent in my head. Ha! There were times I would find an excuse to drive somewhere just so I could hear it. 
As for the novel itself, I cannot rave enough about Kristin Cashore.  She is quickly becoming one of my favorite YA writers.  The world she has created in Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue is so enthralling and consuming, I never want to leave.  On top of that, her female characters are some of the best in her genre.
5 out of 5 stars

Well there are my reviews.  All in all, I would say that the reader makes all of the difference when it comes to audiobooks.  I love getting audiobooks from the library and putting them on my iPod.  It's just too easy.  Unfortunately, I can't listen to them all the time because the boys are adamant on not letting me enjoy them.  This is all I hear from the backseat:  "What happened?" "Who did that?" "Why is she crying, Mom?"  So I just turn on Kids Place Live instead.

Can't wait to hear your thoughts!  Link up below.

Next week's prompt: Your favorite author.


Jun 25, 2012

Bonnaroo (part 3)

You're not getting sick of hearing about Bonnaroo yet, are you?  Well, there are many more Bonnaroo posts coming.  Now I give you the last two days of our fantastic music festival experience...
Part One
Part Two

If you read part two, you know that we stayed up until the wee hours of the morning on Friday, which means that waking up to that oven-roasting sensation at 8am on Saturday was not pleasant.  I started the day with a pounding headache that even the magical powers of my Acai berry juice could not fix.
We were on day four of being shower-less and while I didn't feel ridiculously gross, thanks to baby wipes and sponge baths, my hair looked awesome {shaking head}.  By this point, we had heard about a little deal going on in Centeroo with a Garnier Fructis booth giving free hair shampoos and braidings.  We decided today was the day we would head straight for that booth to get our number and then hang out around that area until our number was up.  When we got our number, they were at 45...my number was 226.  It was going to be a while.  Lucky for us, there was a small shady stage across the way that I had wanted to check out.  We found some shade, parked our picnic blanket and spent the day listening to some cool small performances.

 One of these performances was a fiddler named Casey Dresden.  Not only did he play the fiddle amazingly, but he also had these cool pedal gadgets by his feet so that he could record his own music and play it in loops to create what sounded like an entire band playing.  It was mind-blowing.  He did a rendition of Billie Jean and then shared a song he wrote from his unborn child's heartbeat.  Seriously, so talented!

Our number was getting close and my headache was subsiding when I was able to catch a small set by Dawes at that same stage. Dawes played a bigger set on Friday but it was conflicting with St. Vincent so I missed it.  I liked Dawes before this day.  Now, I love Dawes.  The best part was that they didn't expect this small 30 minute set to draw a crowd at all, but that area became so packed when they came on.  Being a part of this amazing band's set in such an intimate setting was my #2 favorite moment of Bonnaroo.

Moments after singing When My Time Comes, my time came...for hair washing.
 You have no idea how pleasant this was.  Thank you Garnier Fructis. Thank you!!
They even braided it up nicely for us.
Nikee does NOT have a funky bun on her head.  That is just the top of someone else's head. :)
Unfortunately, my headache returned.  And this was also the moment when my weepy emotional'ness came to a head and I had to just lose it.  I knew I was going to miss my babies, but I really didn't think it would be that bad.  There is something about being so removed from your regular life, with no attachment or sight of the outside world that does something to you.  After my "moment", I felt much better.  I had to reassure Nicole that I really was having a fantastic time, but sometimes Moms just need a moment.

The rest of Saturday involved camping out at Which Stage for Punch Brothers, Childish Gambino, and then watching the sun set while listening to The Roots.  We called it an early night and fell asleep back at our camp to the sound of Red Hot Chili Peppers playing not too far away.

Sunday morning we woke up to the sound of water falling on the tent.  It wasn't a pleasant way to wake up, considering how much we were looking forward to Sunday's lineup.  If you recall, I was terrified of it raining during Bonnaroo.  But what was I going to do? Just go home?  Of course not.  We shrugged it off, packed our ponchos and chose the shoes we cared least about.

First stop that day was Grouplove.  Again, the tent was packed but we still hung out around to hear them play.  This was also the day we decided it would be best to arm ourselves with a good beer buzz on account of the mud and wet everything.  So that was a fun start to the day.

After Grouplove, we headed over to What Stage together.  The sky behaved itself all day and held the rain at bay while also protecting us from the brutal sun.
Then it was time for The Beach Boys. 
The Beach Boys, people!
Kokomo, Surfin' USA, Good Vibrations, California Girls...
We heard them all.  Honestly, I didn't expect to enjoy The Beach Boys so much.  It was freaking fantastic!  We boogied our butts off for a good hour. 
  Then it was time to split up again.  This is when the major custer-F@#%  on the Bonnaroo schedule occurred.  Bon Iver, The Civil Wars, Fun., The Shins and Young the Giant all conflicted at this major time slot.  It was brutal.

My personal priority was Bon Iver.  From the get-go, I knew I had to see Bon Iver no matter what.  Nicole's priority was Fun..  I hated to split up like that, but there was no way around it.  So I hung around What Stage so I could move my way up and get a good spot to see my favorite band while Nikee claimed her spot at one of the tents to see her favorite band.
I had some time to kill up at the front of the crowd while we waited for the show to start so I made friends with my new neighbors.

Bon Iver was...ugh...amazing.  Just amazing.  I knew they were, but I was skeptical as to how they would sound live on such a big stage.  To my very pleased surprise, they sounded even better live than recorded.  It was pure bliss.  They played all my favorites and I chanted the lyrics to Skinny Love along with my new friends. The best part had to be when Justin Vernon asked the crowd to sing along to the refrain "what might have been lost" in the song Wolves.  He requested that we, and I quote, "bust a whole in the sky".  I'm pretty sure we did.  It was the #1 Bonnaroo moment for me. 

After Bon Iver finished playing, it was a mass exodus as everyone headed out to see one of three amazing bands: The Shins, Young the Giant, and Fun.. My first choice was The Shins.  However, since I was going it alone at that moment, I chose to wander around to all three and see how they all compared judging by their live performances.

Of course, The Shins are...well, The Shins.  They are one of my favorite bands of all time, and seeing James Mercer live was pretty incredible. Their tent was pretty full, but I was still able to get a good spot. Still, I only stuck around for a couple songs.  It was just that they were a little mellow, and I just finished listening to a whole hour of mellow, and I wanted something more so I headed out to see what Fun. was up to. 
The Shins at Which Stage
I wasn't getting anywhere near Fun..  Their tent was packed.  Most people that we talked to that weekend had expressed their excitement at seeing Fun., and since they are one of Nicole's favorite bands, we were really excited for them.  She was somewhere in that crowd, probably as close as one person can get, and I knew there was no way I was getting to her at that moment, so I headed over to see what Young the Giant had going on. 
The crowd around Fun.'s tent
I could hear Young the Giant's set from pretty far away, and I was immediately drawn to them.  I was majorly surprised by how much they were rocking their tent.  I think because they knew they were up against some big competitors, they had to show their stuff.  I was able to catch a few songs, and one of those songs happened to be my favorite on the album, My Body.  Oh man.  What a great job they did.  I was pretty proud of them, and I really think they are one of the next big bands on the scene.  Watch out for these guys.
Young the Giant moving the crowd
That would be the last song I would hear at Bonnaroo.  After Young the Giant's set, I had to go find Nikee.  She emerged from Fun.'s crowed covered in confetti with an ear-to-ear grin.  I'm so glad she got to see the band she wanted to.

We shared stories and pictures and then decided that we would prefer leaving that night rather than staying until morning.  Neither of us could stand the thought of another night in that tent, especially with the rain returning.

So, we walked through the Bonnaroo gateway for the last time.  It was a bittersweet goodbye.
Goodbye Bonnaroo!
Returning to civilization was pretty exciting.  Our first stop was Sonic for some much needed fried food goodness.  We ate a lot of granola and fruit all week.  I have never enjoyed cheesy tots so much as I did right then. 

I will give my final thoughts, share some tips and videos later this week.  But for now, that is the Bonnaroo 2012 story from start to finish!  Hope you enjoyed reading about our adventure.

Read my tips and final thoughts here


Jun 21, 2012

the.book.chat. {books I've been meaning to read}

It's Thursday! 
For this week's book chat, I'm hoping for everyone to share those books that have been sitting on their to-be-read shelf for too long.  I think it would be cool if everyone could visit the other book chatter's posts and hopefully share some experience with the books on everyone else's lists.  Does that make sense?

This week's chat doesn't involve any heavy-duty writing, unless you want it to. I know many of us are busy with moves, vacations, company and what-not. 

Hope you join in!


Here is my list. 
I've started this book probably 10 times.  I have friends who adore it.  I just cannot seem to get into it. What am I missing?  I refuse to see the movie without reading the book, and I have to see the movie because I am obsessed with Baz Luhrmann...so I guess I'll be reading this one by Christmas.

This is one of my mom's favorite books and it seems right up my ally in genre and content.  I think it's the size that intimidates me.  It could be used as a doorstop.

I really did not love The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; however, I love Lisbeth Salander and from what I hear this book has more of her in it. 

I won this book in a blog giveaway a few months back.  It sounds so interesting and unique, but I lack motivation for some reason.

I own this one.  I love everything else I've read by Maggie Stiefvater.  I have heard great things about this series.  What is my hold up?  Could it be the under-whelming cover?

 I loved Pride and Prejudice and I have a feeling I would love this one even more.

My TBR list is pretty large.  110 books as of right now. These are just a few of the books that have been sitting on that list for years.  Am I the only one with a shelf full of books to be read, and yet keep buying new ones and reading those instead? 

If you've read any of these, I would love to hear your thoughts.  Are they worth forcing myself to read them or should I continue avoiding them?

Can't wait to see what you have.  Link up below.

Topic for next week: Audiobooks.  Do you listen to audiobooks?  Do you consider that "reading"?  What are your favorite audiobooks?


Jun 19, 2012

Bonnaroo (part 2)

The Bonnaroo saga continues...
(to read part 1, click here)

Friday was definitely my favorite Bonnaroo day.  That morning we had breakfast and chatted with our neighbors as we did every morning.  We were camped next to two very nice girls from Maryland, and we were glad to share our canopy with them.  It was fun sharing stories from the day before and laughing it up over our cereal bowls. Around 1pm, we headed out for Centeroo again.  This time our walk was cut shorter due to the opening on a new entrance.

We tried to see Tune-yards, but the tent was so packed again (yay for Tune-yards!) so we decided to just head over to Laura Marling's tent.  Again, we just chilled in the shade and listened.  Laura Marling has an incredible voice, and I really enjoyed her sound.  So much so, that I chose to stick around rather than head over to where Two Door Cinema Club was playing.  Do I slightly regret this?  Yes.  But in my defense, I was already going to be leaving my friend for the majority of the day, so I decided hanging out with her a bit longer was more important.  I can live with it, but I did hear they put on a great show. 

That afternoon came the time when we would have to split.  Nicole was sticking around the tent we were at to see Fitz and the Tantrums.  Her sister saw them at Coachella and told us it was un-missable.

I really, really wanted to stay and enjoy the show...but...
I couldn't miss Avett!
The nice thing about going alone to a big show is that it is easier to work your way up without getting in anyone's way.  I found a peaceful spot to sit until the show started.  The Avett Brothers were playing on What Stage, which is the biggest stage with huge screens and is set on an decline so almost anyone can see and hear.  For this show, I wanted to be IN that crowd.  I wanted to be up and singing and dancing along with some fellow Avett lovers.  It was such an amazing show.  They played all of my favorites and even some of their rarer hits like Laundry Room and Murder in the City, which sounds like a morbid song, but is really so beautiful.  Again, I found myself tearing up with how much I missed by boys.  I mean, with lyrics like these, who wouldn't?

"I wonder which brother is better
Which one our parents love the most
I sure did get in lots of trouble
They seemed to let the other go

A tear fell from my father's eyes

I wondered what my dad would say
He said I love you
And I'm proud of you both,
in so many different ways"

They sang it at the mic together; it was just so chilling.
One of the best moments was seeing everyone with their three fingers in the air...
"Three words that became hard to say
I and love and you"

I love The Avett Brothers!!

After that show, I ran, practically skipped, back to the tent where Nikee was. She was also experiencing a live-music high after what was apparently an incredibly fun Fitz and the Tantrums show.  

She saved me a spot the tent because the next show up was another major favorite of mine.  
St. Vincent!
I told you Friday was the best.
Look at how close I was!  Nikee saved us the best spot against the rail on the side of the stage.  The security guards were passing out free bottles of water and we were close with no one in front of us and without being stuck in a nasty crowd.

St. Vincent, not surprisingly, put on a great show.  She is just the cutest little thing, but she gets crazy dirty down with that guitar. Singing Cheerleader along with her and practically climbing over the guard rail with excitement was one of the top 3 moments of Bonnaroo for me.

The woman played a theremin for goodness sakes!

And did a little crowd surfing, of course.
She rocked our socks off.
After St. Vincent, we caught about 15 minutes of the Foster the People set, and then it was time to make our way over to the big stage again to see Radiohead.  Just us and 80,000 other people.  It was so packed, and we were so far away.

When you're as far back as we were, the music becomes the background sound to the goings-on around us.  This was definitely when we had the most fun mingling with people.  Everyone is so friendly, and no one is pushy or rude.  I was kindly offered acid and pot, which I graciously declined, but for some reason felt gratitude toward the offer.  I met people from all over the world, and I have never felt more comfortable turning to a complete stranger and striking up a conversation.
Even though I didn't really get to enjoy the full Radiohead show, I was pleased to hear Idioteque (a rare favorite of mine) and Lotus Flower.  They had a pretty cool light show going on too, which I'm sure a few of my neighbors really got a kick out of. ;)

After about an hour of that show, we made our way over to Silent Disco where Mark Foster of Foster the People was scheduled to DJ for 30 minutes.  The line was so effing long.  Like 2 hours long and by that point, I was so drained.  Finally around midnight, we made it in and were given our headphones just in time to hear Mark Foster say "Thank you, goodnight!"
 Even still, we were not disappointed, we hung around to hear DJ Equal and DJ Kwik-e-Mart (real names).
We danced our butts off until 3am, which may seem late anywhere else, but not at Bonnaroo.  Centeroo was still crazy busy and bands were still playing to packed houses until well past 4am.
Bonnaroo is for the young and hardcore.

Friday was definitely my favorite day.  I was still full of energy and the shows were all just so good.  Saturday was different story.

Read part 3 here.
Excuse the bad-quality photos.  iPhones do not make good concert cameras, FYI.