In which I talk about Sloss Music & Arts Festival

Living in Mississippi means that it’s sometimes hard to find cultural events to attend, which is why when a friend of mine told me about Sloss Fest in Birmingham, Alabama, I was totally down. This was the second year for Sloss, a two-day music and arts festival featuring three stages of music, food trucks from local restaurants, a whole slew of tens for local and regional artists, and lots and lots of hot weather.

Sloss Music & Arts Festival is held at the Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, a National Historic Landmark, which is super cool. Like it says on their website, Sloss Fest is “about more than 30+ bands on 3 stages, it’s a celebration of the unique, creative culture that makes life in Birmingham so special.” Birmingham really is a wonderful city, so I was excited to experience something else there.

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There were some really cool bands at the festival – from Fitz & the Tantrums to Death Cab for Cutie to Jr. Jr. to Grouplove – playing on three different stages. Two of the stages were set across a wide open lawn from each other and one was on the other side of the entrance in a giant, metal shed. Thankfully, there was one big tent in the middle of that open lawn for shade and two free water fill-ups. Unfortunately, the gates didn’t open till after noon, so it was HOT HOT HOT. I know that the festival coordinators had absolutely no say about the weather but it was approximately the temperature of Hades that weekend. The good thing was that everyone else was just as sweaty so nbd.

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One of the coolest parts of the festival was the booths for regional and national artists. I was super excited to find out that Fur Turtle – who has created posters and art for one of my favorite musicians, Joshua James – was going to be there. He was one of the first artists we sought out when we got to the festival on Saturday, and I immediately saw a twenty one pilots poster in his booth. I, of course, had to have it, and I’m super excited with my purchase. This is what the poster looks like (image from Fur Turtle’s website).

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My favorite performance on Saturday was Grouplove on the Steam Stage. I might’ve loved them even more live than I do recorded. Grouplove’s two singers – Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi – were phenomenal, jumping around, head-banging, rocking out, and singing to their – and all of our – heart’s content. It was impossible to look away from them because they are so obviously passionate about music and in love with performing. Their music had everyone jumping and dancing despite how hot it was. Such a great performance.

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I also saw Death Cab for Cutie (who was cool and relaxed and maybe a bit boring in parts but still super fun to see live) from the front row and Logic (who is a really talented rapper; couldn’t stay for his whole set though).

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On Sunday, my favorite was definitely Jr. Jr., despite the fact that earlier in the day, they were 30 minutes late for their signing (my friends and I waited for almost an hour to meet them and their whole band didn’t even come). Even though I was annoyed with the signing debacle, their set was awesome. They sound exactly like their recorded albums, which is rare and wonderful.

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And this is where the weekend got a little disappointing. My friend and I went over to the Shed stage to see The Struts for a few songs and then head over to the other side to see Fitz & the Tantrums. Of course, the sky took it as the time to let the rain fall. It was a relief because it had been so hot, but they had to postpone all of the sets to avoid ruining the equipment or electrocuting all of us. Because they had to postpone it though, we weren’t able to see either of the sets because we were going to another show that night (Parachute).

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But you know what? Despite the HOT weather and the rain and the late bands, I had a fantastic time at Sloss Fest, and I would definitely go again next year.

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ARC Review: Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter

Ghostly EchoesAuthor: William Ritter

Genre: YA, historical, paranormal

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Publication Date: August 23, 2016

352 pages, hardcover (340 ARC)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: Thank you to Algonquin YR for providing an ARC of Ghostly Echoes at BEA!

Ghostly Echoes was one of the top books I was hoping to get at BEA. I LOVED Jackaby and Beastly Bones, and I could not wait to dive back into New Fiddleham with these characters. I was not disappointed. (And I got to meet William Ritter, which was awesome!)

I absolutely adore these characters and this world so so much. Everything about these books is just…charming. But I think the best part of Ghostly Echoes is that it’s a bit darker than the other two books in the series so far.

The third book in the Jackaby series focuses a lot on Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly owner and resident of 926 Augur Lane, and finding out what happened to her all those years ago. She becomes a huge player in this books, and I loved seeing her strong spirit (no pun intended) and attitude. The way that Jenny’s murder, and all of the characters’ pasts play into and connect to the plot really helps you feel drawn into this one.

And, as always, I loved Abigail’s personality and drive. I especially enjoyed learning more about Jackaby’s past, and I’m excited to see more of that in the fourth book – thank goodness for book four!

It’s kind of hard to review this one without any spoilers, especially because it’s book three in the series, so I’ll just say that I could talk about how much I love this series all day, and you should probably just go ahead and read them all.

The bottom line: This is a quick, fun read full of adventure, folklore, mythology, people and creatures, ghosts and possession. Ghostly Echoes –might– have been my favorite Jackaby book, but we’ll have to wait for book four to be sure.

Rating: 9 – practically perfect

Book Review: Summer Days and Summer Nights

Summer Days and Summer NightsAuthor: Stephanie Perkins (and various others – each listed by their story below)

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Publication Date: May 17, 2016

400 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

After reading My True Love Gave to Me, a collection of short stories edited by Stephanie Perkins, last year, I was super excited to hear that she was doing another collection. Everything from the cover to the list of contributing authors had me looking forward to a wonderfully sweet and fun collections of romance-y stories perfect for summer. It wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. There were several stories that I LOVED (Leigh Bardugo’s was probably my favorite) but quite a few that I did not like. I’ve broken it down by story below.

“Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail” by Leigh Bardugo: Pretty cool! I like romantic stories that have a bit of fantasy mixed it. I totally love Eli. Bizarre but in the absolute best way. Just further proves how much I love Leigh Bardugo’s writing. What a perfect way to start the anthology.

“The End of Love” by Nina LaCour: Her writing is so wonderful and sweet. This one was lovely. So good to have LGBTQIAP+ representation, but like LaCour’s Everything Leads to You, it’s not an issue in the story. It just is.

“Last Stand at the Cinegore” by Libba Bray: Meh. I wanted to like it more than I did. Kinda cheesy, and not in a good way. The plot is a bit muddled and the humor didn’t make me laugh.

“Sick Pleasure” by Francesca Lia Block: Not really what I was expecting. Not exactly bad either. You feel like you’re in a daze for the whole story and it’s not really all that happy. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing?

“In Ninety Minutes, Turn North” by Stephanie Perkins: Obviously cute but rather predictable. I adored North and Marigold in the first book, so I was looking forward to seeing them again, but the story was one of those “Will they/won’t they?” kind of stories, which was pointless. I obviously love Stephanie’s writing, but it wasn’t as good as I was hoping.

“Souvenirs” by Tim Federle: Sadder than I was expecting but I liked it. Realistic. I’ve decided that I just really like Tim Federle’s writing style. I know a few people who don’t like the way he writes or his characters, but I’m drawn to them. I’m not sure if I can really articulate why. They have a bit of dry humor and personality that I like.

“Inertia” by Veronica Roth: What an interesting concept. It was the only story in the book that was sci-fi, which was cool. I don’t think I really connected to the characters in the way that I should have, but the idea was too cool to not like it.

“Love is the Last Resort” by Jon Skovron: Super unique. I could see this as a movie in the vein of The Grand Budapest Hotel. I don’t know if you guys have ever watched that movie or other Wes Anderson movies, but the dialogue and plot are kind of…awkward and strange but in this wonderfully funny way that totally works. At least for me.

“Good Luck and Farewell” by Brandy Colbert: Lots of feels in this one. I liked the diversity, families, and love – both romantic and not. I haven’t read anything by Brandy before, but it makes me want to pick up Pointe.

“Brand New Attraction” by Cassandra Clare: I’ll be honest. I didn’t even finish this story. I don’t know why Cassandra Clare has this weird obsession with incest, but it grosses me out. Direct quote from the story: “He reminded me of a cup of coffee: wet, hot, and bitter. I tried to decide if it was immoral to lust after your step-cousin. I figured it wasn’t. We weren’t actually related. No shared blood.” Just…why?

“A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong” by Jennifer E. Smith: Cute and awkward and adorable. I love Jennifer E. Smith’s books, and I could definitely see this one being an entire novel. I wish it was, tbh. I liked that the love interest was different.

“The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” by Lev Grossman: Unique and interesting. The end wraps up too quickly though. Must like Veronica Roth’s, the idea behind this one made me like it so much because of how unique it was. A cute romance too.

Favorites: Leigh Bardugo’s, Jennifer E. Smith’s, Jon Skovron’s.

Least Favorites: Cassandra Clare’s (DNF), Libba Bray’s.

Bookish News from around the Web 1

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been a little MIA on the blog recently. I’ve had a lot of things going on in my personal life that have made it hard to feel motivated and I’ve also just not felt the desire to blog. I’m really sorry about that, but I’ve been trying to think of new, fun ideas for the blog. Posts that would inspire me AND you, that would be fun for you to read and for me to write. One of the things that came to mind was to highlight awesome, interesting, exciting bookish news/posts from around the web to showcase. This could be anything from book deals to movie adaptation trailers to fanart to quizzes to anything that catches me eye. I hope this sounds like something you’d like to read! Let me know what you think in the comments.

YA MOVIE ADPTATION NEWS! Nicola Yoon posted that they’ve cast Amandla Stenberg (who played Rue in The Hunger Games adaptation and will play Starr in The Hate U Give adaptation) as Maddy and Nick Robinson (who was in Jurassic World and The 5th Wave) as Olly in the film adaptation of Everything, Everything. I’m super excited to see the incredible Amandla Stenberg in more movies! Check out the article about the casting HERE.

WONDER WOMAAAAAN MOVIE! Comic Con is this week in San Diego, and they released the first full length trailer for the Wonder Woman movie which is coming out next year. It look fantastic, and I’m super excited to see a comic book movie about a female superhero! Watch the trailer below.

BOOK DEALS! I’m sure you guys are aware by now how much I absolutely love Becky Albertalli, right? If not, where have you been? Either way, you know it now. I ADORE Becky and both of her books (Simon vs. and The Upside of Unrequited – which is out next year), and this week it was announced that Donna Bray at Balzer + Bray has bought TWO MORE BOOKS by Becky, which will be out in 2018!

HISTORY WAS MADE! It was announced last week that Dr. Carla Hayden was approved as the 14th Librarian of Congress. Hayden made history because she’s the first female AND the first African American to lead the Library of Congress. How cool is that?!

BOOKISH ART! A few weeks ago, I finally read Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, which I am absolutely obsessed with. The sequel, Crooked Kingdom, comes out later this year, and I’ve got grabby hands for anything that has to do with it. Leigh tweeted out these gorgeous pieces of art with each of the main characters on them that I’m heart eyes over. My favorite is the one of Jesper, which is below, but you can see the ones for Kaz, Inej, Wylan/Kuwei (LOVE THIS ONE TOO), Nina, and Matthias on Twitter. All of the art was done by Kevin Wada, and you can check out his other art on his website.

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Okay, that’s a wrap! What do you guys think about this type of post?

Top Ten Tuesdays: Facts about me

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Ten Facts About Me (bookish or just general about you facts or ten facts about you as a blogger…whatever you want)

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  • I love to travel. I’ve been to ¾ of the United States and five countries (yes, I am counting England and Scotland as separate countries – so I’ve been to: Scotland, England, Ireland, Spain, and Italy). I usually take at least one road trip a month. I just love seeing new places, meeting new people, and experiencing as much of the world as I can.
  • I have a Master’s degree in Publishing Studies from the University of Stirling in Stirling, Scotland. My dream is to one day be a literary agent or a publicist, and I have had internships doing both of these things as well as in editorial, marketing, and communications.
  • I want to move away from Mississippi. Like, yesterday.
  • Other than reading and traveling, my favorite thing to do is go to concerts. There’s just something about live music that gives me life.
  • I also really, really love book festivals. I’ve been to lots (both in the US and Scotland) and have had the pleasure of working at three. What could be better than a bunch of bookish people (authors, bloggers, publishers, librarians, and readers) getting together in one place?
  • I’m a bit of a picky eater. Here are some of the things I don’t eat: ground beef (which means no hamburgers and tacos), cucumbers, oranges (acid reflux sux), bananas, carrots, almonds/cashews/pistachios. But honestly, I eat way more now than I did when I was a kid.
  • I hate cherry flavored things; it reminds me of cough syrup/cold medicine.
  • I can’t drive 55.
  • I currently live on ten acres of land, but I really want to live in a city. I love public transportation and being able to walk places. I’d definitely pass out before I got anywhere where I currently live.
  • I want to get another tattoo soon. I have plans for my next several, and I think my next one will be another bookish tattoo.

Graphic Novel Review: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

NimonaAuthor and illustrator: Noelle Stevenson 

Genre: YA, graphic novel

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publication Date: May 12, 2015

266 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

I feel like I say this a lot – but how the heck did I not read this sooner? You guys know I love comics and graphic novels, and I’d heard about how amazing NIMONA was from a lot of friends. And yet, I just now read it. BUT at least I finally did because I LOVED it.

This graphic novel is hilarious and weird and dark. It’s super strange but in all the best ways. I love that all of the characters are both good and bad, light and dark, which is how I think all people are. Nimona was a little bit crazy and murder-y but also just wanted to be loved. I loved that instead of wanting to be the hero, she wanted to be a villain. You don’t get that very often, and you guys probably know I’m a sucker for villains. Plus, the actual villain, Lord Ballister Blackheart, was not as evil as you might think. Yes, he wanted revenge, but he was also against killing. Like I said – dark and light.

Nimona is sassy af, and I think this really comes across in Stevenson’s wonderful illustrations. They are deceivably simple – simple line work but lots of details, flat colors but lots of them. I really loved these illustrations. I also loved that Nimona is kind of curvy.

The bottom line: READ IT READ IT READ IT. I’ll definitely be checking out Stevenson’s other comics after reading this (already placed a hold on LUMBERJANES at the library). If you like dragons or sassy MCs or villains or silly names or fun illustrations or science or metaphors, you should definitely read NIMONA.

Book Review: Ollie’s Odyssey by William Joyce

Ollie's OdysseyAuthor: William Joyce

Illustrator: Moonbot

Genre: Children’s fiction

Publisher: Atheneum

Publication Date: April 12, 2016

304 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

What a cute book! I absolutely loved following along with Ollie on his A-venture to get back to his boy, Billy.

Ollie is a Favorite, a super high honor for a Toy. Zozo, a creepy little clown toy, has never been anyone’s favorite, and he and his Creeps (clockwork-esque Toys made by Zozo) search out and kidnap favorites to make them forget their kids forever. One day, Ollie is toynapped at a wedding, and both Billy and Ollie go on their biggest A-venture ever to find each other.

This book would be super fun to read at bedtime with kids – a chapter or two each night before bed. The illustrations are wonderful and really capture the personality of these toys. Plus, Ollie, a Handmade – stitched together by Billy’s mom and resembling a bit of a teddy bear and a stuffed rabbit – is the absolute cutest thing, and I just wanted to reach in and cuddle him.

The bottom line: Highly recommended for kids AND adults. Honestly, I recommend all of William Joyce’s books – if you didn’t know, he’s the writer behind the book that Meet the Robinsons is based on (A DAY WITH WILBUR ROBINSON) as well as Rise of the Guardians (based on his Guardians of Childhood series).

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I enjoyed that have less than 2,000 ratings on Goodreads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten Books We Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings On Goodreads

You guys, how do some of these books have less than 2,000 ratings? Some of them even have less than 1,000! Seriously, go check these books out. Just trust me. 🙂

My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin // Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett // When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds // The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert // Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu // Firecracker by David Iserson // To Be a Cat by Matt Haig

The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day // Rivers by Michael Farris Smith

What are some of your favorite books with less than 2,000 rating on Goodreads?