(Un)Covered Round-Up: March-May 2016

I may have mentioned that I write a column for idobi about song covers. Here are the ones that have been posted since March!

AND, even though I wrote a review of V.E. Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows here, I also wrote a review for idobi, which you can check out here!


Liebster Award Part 3!

Thanks so much to Katie (katiejaysbookblog) for the nomination! I appreciate it and you should check out her blog!


1) What are your hobbies?

Reading, writing, drinking tea, and eating (I’m joking about that last one)(not really, though).

2) Whats your favorite book?

Outside of the Harry Potter series, my favourites include Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted and Robin Benway’s Audrey, Wait!.

3) What fandoms (if any) are you in?

Harry Potter, of course, and Sherlock, to a certain extent (I have a fondness for Sherlock gifs!).


4) What’s your favorite music?

I’ll listen to anything, but I gravitate towards pop-punk and alternative. My top five bands are: You Me At Six, Panic! at the Disco, All Time Low, The Maine, and either Fall Out Boy or Paradise Fears, depending on my mood!

5) Pancakes or Waffles and why?

Well, #wafflesaturday is my favourite day of the week (that’s when my sister makes waffles for breakfast), so I’m going to say WAFFLES!

6) Left or Right handed?

Right handed.

7) What was the last movie you saw?

In theatres: The Peanuts Movie, which I loved. At home: Legally Blonde Two: Red, White & Blonde which I couldn’t remember at all.


8) Where are 3 places you’d like to visit?

Ireland, Greece, and San Francisco!

9) Would you rather have your favorite character come into your life or be inserted into your favorite novel?

Ooo, this is a tough one! I’d say be inserted into my favourite novel; I’ve always wanted to visit Hogwarts, and the world in Ella Enchanted is just as magical, full of goblins and fairies and attractive princes. Audrey, Wait! takes place in LA, which I wouldn’t mind visiting either!

10) Favorite beverage?

Tea! I have a large, almost ridiculous, collection (mostly from England, because the Brits really do know their tea).


I <3 Helena Bonham Carter.

11) What are your goals for 2016 (if any)?

My goal is to read at least 120 books, finish a manuscript (any of them that are currently in progress), and possibly start querying agents (once I finish writing something!).

Thanks again, Katie!

I’ve done the Liebster award twice before, so I won’t nominate blogs (mostly because I don’t have the brain power to come up with questions), but here are the last eleven blogs I followed – you should check them out!

Shelly’s Rambles
Mud and Stars
Cafe Book Bean
That’s So Jacob
Untamed Shrews
The Geek Couple
The Worn Bookmark
RedHeaded Book Lover
Wanderlust: Becoming a Traveler
Ana Spoke

Top Ten Albums of 2015 [+ link to Mind the Gap]

As usual, I’ve made my list of the best albums of the year, including links to any reviews I wrote on them. You can click here for a playlist featuring two of my favourite songs from each release!

top ten of 2015

1) That’s the Spirit – Bring Me the Horizon
2) American Candy – The Maine
3) American Beauty/American Psycho – Fall Out Boy
4) Future Hearts – All Time Low
5) Life’s Not Out to Get You – Neck Deep
6) Blurryface – twenty one pilots
7) Life in Real Time – Paradise Fears
8) Automatic – Don Broco
9) Sounds Good, Feels Good – 5 Seconds of Summer
10) Vikings – New Politics

There was lots of other good albums this year, including Knuckle Puck’s Copacetic, The Wonder Years’ No Closer to Heaven, Young Guns’ Ones and Zeros, Muse’s Drones, We Are Harlot’s self-titled debut, and Nate Ruess’s solo release, Grand Romantic.

What made your list of best albums?

She wants to dance like Uma Thurman

If you ever want to witness a 20-something year old completely lose her mind, you should come with me next time I see Fall Out Boy live. They’re one of those bands that I can scream over for days, and their live shows are always amazing.


I saw FOB yesterday for the fifth time (fourth since they came back from their hiatus). No matter how many times I see them, I will probably still lose my voice right around the time when they play my favourite song, “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me”.

The weird thing about this concert was the other bands on the bill. The “Boys of Zummer” tour is a co-headliner, so even though FOB closed, they were preceded by an hour-and-a-bit long Wiz Khalifa set.

I don’t really like Wiz Khalifa, to be honest. I appreciate what FOB was doing, partnering with a band outside of their “scene”, and they (FOB) have always had a hand in the hip-hop world. And I even get that there were a lot of fans there to see both fans. But I don’t always appreciate reeking like secondhand pot smoke (because I’m secretly an 85 year old who shakes her head disapprovingly at kids these days and their mari-ju-ana).

Plus after the two Wiz songs I know*, everything else just sorta sounded the same.

*I know the chorus of “Black and Yellow” and the only reason I know “Roll Up” (which I didn’t realize was a Wiz Khalifa song) is because The Ready Set once covered it for a Punk Goes Pop compilation.

Before Wiz came out, we were also treated to a Hoodie Allen set. Again, not really my type of music, but his one of his songs – which he said was inspired by early 2000’s pop-punk staples like Green Day and FOB – was something I could get behind.

After what felt like centuries (see what I did there?), FOB came out and made it worth the wait (and the lingering pot smell, plus the beer that somehow ended up on my sweater even though I wasn’t drinking).

They were incredible. Opening with “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” seemed like a bold move; even though it’s one of their biggest songs, it’s something you’d expect to hear in the middle of the set. But it worked. One of the reasons I love hearing “Sugar” live is to hear the call-and-response between the band and audience: Patrick will start off belting “AM I MORE” then he steps back from the mic, letting the crowd shout “THAN YOU BARGAINED FOR YET? I’VE BEEN DYING TO TELL YOU” before he comes back in on “ANYTHING, YOU WANT TO HEAR…”

Patrick’s live performance has improved so much since this DVD was made (in 2008).

Maybe you have to be there, but it’s a wonderful feeling, being part of a crowd of 15,000+ (the amphitheatre has a capacity of 16,000 people), all yelling the same words.

FOB doesn’t really talk much on stage; in fact, any talking is usually done by Pete and even he’s gotten better (sometimes he rambles about stuff and you’re just like “dude, get to the part where you play a song!”). Not this time, though – there was minimal talking, which meant they fit a lot of songs into their allotted hour and a half (18 songs in total, including a drum solo, and two acoustic songs performed on the mini stage near the lawn seats).

This being a tour in support of their most recent album, American Beauty/American Psycho, they obviously played quite a few new songs, including a gorgeous acoustic version of “Immortals”, the majestic “Irresistible”, and, of course “Centuries”. I was also really happy that the seats around us were empty because when they played “Uma Thurman”, I was able to, well, dance like Uma Thurman.

Like I said, I could go on about FOB for hours. They’re always incredible live, and, even though they don’t play as many songs from Take This To Your Grave or Folie a Deux as I’d personally like (only “Saturday” and “I Don’t Care”, respectively), they’re so much fun and have so much energy. If you’re a FOB fan, I highly recommend catching them the next time they tour through your area; it’s always good to have a night of dancing and singing-until-you-lose-your-voice once in a while.

An Ideal FOB Setlist [re-direct to Mind the Gap]

Happy Monday!

As you may (or may not) recall, I’m the co-creator of Mind the Gap Zine, a new pop culture website. Every other Monday, I talk about music there, so I’ll be creating a post here (on bellsiebooks) redirecting you to my latest post, if you’re interested.

In honour of seeing Fall Out Boy for the fifth time on Wednesday, I created my ideal setlist by picking my three favourite songs from their six full-length albums and putting them in some sort of order that probably only makes sense to me.


You can check my setlist out here! And check back here on Thursday for my concert review!

Liebster Award Part 2!

You guys! My ego is going to explode from all this blogger love: I’ve been (re)nominated for the Liebster Award by two people, SJ (Delirious Antidotes) and Cassie (Book Reviews & Haikus)! Thanks so much SJ and Cassie! Please go check out their blogs :)

I love answering random questions, so here we go!

Sidenote: when I was 17-18, I spent half my time on Facebook filling out those random questionnaires that you could post as notes, so this is pretty much my jam.


Last time, I used the standard turquoise-y one, this time I wanted the pretty pink badge!

Questions from SJ:

1) Let’s kick this off with a little bit of self promotion, as it never did any harm: tell me about a project, website, post etc. that you want to draw attraction to. (URL’s are allowed)

My friend Jane and I are working on a pop culture website which we’re both very excited about! It officially launches on June 1st, but you can check out our snazzy home page here!

2) How did you/do you cope with exam season?

I made a lot of notes. Mostly on graph paper because, for some reason, it helped me focus (I was an English/French major, so I actually had to go out and buy graph paper, come exam time).

3) Who is your favourite band/musician?

How much time do you have?? I can narrow it down to my top five (in no particular order): You Me At Six, Panic! at the Disco, All Time Low, The Maine, and Fall Out Boy.

4) What is your favourite book?

One of my most favourite books of all time is Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.

5) When did you start blogging?

I started my blog in August 2013. I started talking about books in October 2013, and I’ve been reviewing ARCs/giving books actual ratings since April 2015 (before, I just talked about whether or not I liked the book).

6) What is the best advice you have ever been given?

“Everything happens for a reason”. It’s not really advice so much as a proverb (is it even a proverb?) and I know it’s somewhat cliched, but it’s something I hold on to.

7) Explain the title of your blog.

My oldest sister nicknamed me “Bella” when I was little; she still calls me that and so now my three nieces call me “Bella” as well. When she was about three (she just turned nine), my oldest niece figured out that “Bella” and “books” both start with “b”, and thus she christened me “Bellsiebooks”.

8) Tea or coffee?

Tea! I have a borderline absurd collection of tea, but I love it.

9) What is your least “politically correct” opinion?

That’s a tough one…I don’t know how to answer that!

10) What did you think about before you fell asleep last night?

I’ve been telling myself stories to fall asleep ever since I was a child. For years, it’s been how I’ve worked out plot points for the books I’m trying to write.

Questions from Cassie:

1) What are three things you want to do/accomplish in life?

a) Publish a book (multiple books, ideally)
b) Become a kids’ book editor (or work in marketing for kids’ books…I’d take anything at this point)
c) Travel the world

2) Do you have a favorite musical genre and/or musician/band?

Pop-punk and similar genres (pop rock, metal, “emo”, etc). Please see above for my top five bands!

3) What was your first concert?

I saw Bon Jovi on the “One Wild Night” tour in 2001 with my sisters (I was 11).

4) Who is your favorite author? [If you don’t have one, what’s your favorite book genre?]

I love many authors, including Neil Gaiman, Libba Bray, Melissa Marr, and J.K. Rowling. I read a lot of YA (which is a category, not a genre), and I tend to enjoy contemporary or paranormal/supernatural/urban fantasy.

5) What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

I cannot possibly pick just one!! Ella Enchanted has been one of my favourite books for 17 years (I read it when I was 8), but I’m always swooning over some book or another.

6) When do you read most?

When I was working, I’d read on the morning commute and then continued for a bit when I got to work. Since my internship ended a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been reading a lot more at night.

7) What’s your preference: “real” physical books, e-books, audiobooks, or a mix of all of them?

Real books!!! I have a Kindle (which I stole from my dad) for my NetGalley ARCs and I sometimes use my phone if I don’t want to carry the e-reader around, but I much prefer the feel of physical books.

8) If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?


9) What fictional character would you like to be friends with most? Why?

Oh, so many! Anyone from the Harry Potter universe, of course, but sometimes I wish I had a tiger friend like Hobbes (he’s furry and good for conversation!). And if we’re going outside of books, then I’d want to be BFF’s with Marceline from Adventure Time because she is my hero.

10) Do you have hobbies besides reading?

I write and I’m a huge music fan, so I’m constantly a) updating my collection or b) attending a concert.

11) What’s your favorite food or drink to have while reading?

I don’t really eat/drink when I’m reading, but I guess tea. And I’ll eat chocolate at any time of the day, so I wouldn’t say no if someone were to hand me a piece of Dairy Milk while I was reading :)

Thanks for reading! And thanks again for the nomination(s)!

You may recall that I was nominated for this award in April, so I’m not going to officially nominate blogs. However, here is a list of the last 10 blogs I followed – you should check them out too!

a bookworm’s escape
thoughts and afterthoughts
Becca and Books
Owls and Things
Just my humble life
Barda Book Talk
Hardcovers and Heroines

She’s an American beauty, I’m an American psycho

Last week, Fall Out Boy released a new album, American Beauty/American Psycho. I decided that instead of doing a full review, I would write about my feelings on a track-by-track basis and highlight my favourite lyric from each song. If there’s one thing Fall Out Boy excels at, it’s writing lyrics.

1) “Irresistible”

Favourite lyric: You look so Seattle but you feel so LA

The majestic horns at the beginning make this the perfect intro to post-Save Rock & Roll Fall Out Boy. It was one of the singles they released leading up to the album, and I think it really sets the tone for the rest of the track list.

2) “American Beauty/American Psycho”

Favourite lyric: And I’m the best worst thing that hasn’t happened to you yet

When this song/video initially dropped, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. It has a solo-Patrick Stump vibe, which I love (unlike a lot of people, I actually really enjoyed his solo album, 2011’s Soul Punk). By the time I listened to it a third time though, I was hooked. Sidenote: it’s also ideal if you want to do jumping jacks.

3) “Centuries”

Favourite lyric: I can’t stop till the whole world knows my name/Because I was only born inside my dreams

Our first taste of new FOB music came out in September, and I can’t even count how many times I listened to it. I initially described it as “massive“, and I still stand by that. It was still hard to determine what the rest of the album would sound like based off this first single, but it gave us an idea of what to expect.

4) “The Kids Aren’t Alright”

Favourite lyric: And in the end, I’d do it all again/I think you’re my best friend/Don’t you know that the kids aren’t alright

This was another song released before the album, and I loved it right away. One of the strongest songs (in my opinion), this almost-but-not-quite-a-ballad track is the one that I think, lyrically, sounds the most like FOB’s 2008 album, Folie a Deux (does anyone else get “What A Catch, Donnie” vibes from it?), which is a good thing.

5) “Uma Thurman”

Favourite lyric: I’ll keep you like an oath/”May nothing but death do us part”

I never knew I wanted to dance like Uma Thurman until I heard this song. It’s impossible to sit still while this is on. You wouldn’t think sampling the theme song from The Munsters would work, but FOB proved us all wrong.

6) “Jet Pack Blues”

Favourite lyric: She’s in a long black coat tonight/Waiting for me in the downpour outside

My favourite part of this song is the chorus. Just when you think Patrick Stump’s voice has reached max power, he belts out something like this.

7) “Novocaine”

Favourite lyric: If you knew what the blue birds sang at you/You would never sing along

This is my least favourite track, which is not to say I don’t like it. It just isn’t as impressive as some of the others and, unfortunately, it comes right before one of my favourite cuts, which means I have very little patience for it.

8) “Fourth of July”

Favourite lyric: You and I were fireworks that went off too soon

Like “American Beauty/American Psycho”, I was a little “meh” during my first listen. Then I listened to it a second time and that was it. I LOVE this song. I can’t get it out of my head which is fine because I don’t ever want it to leave me.

9) “Favourite Record”

Favourite lyric: You are the song stuck in my head/Every song that I’ve ever loved

This is another one where the lyrics remind me of old-school FOB. I don’t know this for a fact, but it feels like a throwback to “Dead on Arrival” (“I know I’m not your favourite record”). It doesn’t has as much pizazz as the other cuts, but it’s still pretty solid.

10) “Immortals”

Favourite lyric: I am the sand in the bottom half of the hourglass

A slightly different version of the song they did for Big Hero 6, I have two words: dance party. Listen to this and “Uma Thurman” back to back if you want an amazing workout.

11) “Twin Skeleton’s (Hotel In NYC)”

Favourite lyric: I just wanna throw my hands in the air and scream

This final track reminds me of Panic! at the Disco (and since I love P!ATD, this is a good thing). I think it’s “ohs” near the end, but it has a bit of a Vices & Virtues-vibe, doesn’t it? Either way, it’s an excellent closer, and I think it would flow really well into “Save Rock and Roll” if it was played live.

Best concerts of 2014

This year, Ro and I hit 30 concerts. 30!!!! This was a personal best for us, and it was our goal for 2014 (we were unbelievably excited when we bought tickets for that last show). There were a couple of duplicates – some favourite bands that came to town on more than one tour – but we also saw a few bands we’ve never seen live before.

This list is pretty much in order, but the lines sort of blur once you get past the top ten. Yay live music!

1) Bring Me the Horizon – December 5 (Wembley Arena)

2) Panic! at the Disco – February 1 (Sound Academy)

3) You Me At Six – October 13 (Phoenix)

4) Fall Out Boy – June 25 (Molson Amphitheatre)

5) The Maine – March 1 (Hard Luck Bar)

6) Paradise Fears – August 12 (Mod Club)

7) Twin Atlantic – December 10 (Rivoli)

8) Taking Back Sunday – April 8 (Kool Haus)

9) Andrew McMahon – November 5 (Opera House)

10) The Ready Set – October 30 (El Mocambo)

11) The 1975 – May 6 (Kool Haus)

12) Nick Santino – November 10 (Hard Luck Bar)

13) Bastille – October 15 (ACC)

14) Deaf Havana – February 15 (Rivoli)


Riot Fest – September 6-7 (Downsview Park)

I’m so ready for the 2015 concert season. I can’t wait to see what our total will be this year!

Best albums of 2014

This year, for my “Best of” lists, I decided to do something a little different. Instead of listing 10 albums, I went with 14 (because it’s 2014, obviously…); and, instead of just making a list, I put them into completely made-up categories, that sort of hint at why I consider them the best of this year, along with my favourite song.

Without further ado:

A favourite band’s new album that took a while to grow on me:

Cavalier Youth – You Me At Six

Latest incarnation of a talented singer:

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – Andrew McMahon (in the Wilderness)

Concept album/sequel to another concept album:

The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways – Crown the Empire

“Sing-alongs and headbanging are unavoidable”:

Happiness Is… – Taking Back Sunday

Scottish album that took forever to come out, but it was worth it:

The Great Divide – Twin Atlantic

Country-style old school rock ‘n’ roll:

Big Skies – Nick Santino

“Finally new music from these guys!”:

Losers & Kings – The Downtown Fiction

Dance all night:

The Bad & the Better – The Ready Set

If all female-fronted bands sounded like this, I would listen to female-fronted bands more often:

White Noise – PVRIS

Unapologetic pop-punk (from a Welsh band, no less!):

Wishful Thinking – Neck Deep

Final album from a band that’s been around for over a decade:

Lowborn – Anberlin

Solo music from a guy in a popular (fun.) band:

Strange Desire – Bleachers

Pure pop-rock:

Oh, What a Life – American Authors

Guilty pleasure:

5 Seconds of Summer – 5 Seconds of Summer


Most magnificent/unexpected single:

Centuries – Fall Out Boy

This list doesn’t even include those albums released in 2014 that I haven’t listened to in full yet, such as This Wild Life’s Clouded, not to mention any re-releases (The Maine’s deluxe edition of Forever Halloween), or albums by bands that I love(d) that left me feeling a little “meh” (Breathe Carolina’s Savages).

Heavy metal broke my heart but I’ve never been in love before

A couple of weeks ago, Fall Out Boy, after a few days of teasing, released their new single, “Centuries”:

MASSIVE is the only word I can think of to describe this song. I don’t even know how many times I’ve listened to this since it came out.

Since they’re still riding high from last year’s Save Rock & Roll, they didn’t need to make a “comeback”, but if they did…this would have been the perfect song to start with. It’s a natural progression from SRAR while still being new/different enough that it’s not just a regurgitation of a previous single. Plus, Patrick Stump’s range is incredible – every time you think he’s sung as high as he can, he comes out with something like this.

About a week or so before FOB’s new song, Cobra Starship finally released new music for the first time since 2011’s Night Shades, with a radio-ready single, “Never Been in Love Before”:

I’ve been anxiously waiting for new Cobra music – unlike FOB, they never officially announced a hiatus, but the lack of music seemed to indicate that they weren’t doing anything. I have to admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of Night Shades and was really hoping for something more in the vein of 2009’s Hot Mess, or – ideally, in a perfect world – 2007’s Viva la Cobra.

I don’t love this single. It sounds like generic pop song and, if I hadn’t known going in who it was, I would not have recognized Gabe Saporta’s voice. I’m all for bands trying new sounds and I completely understand being influenced by other bands but this single, to me, doesn’t even have a Cobra vibe. All in all, a little disappointing. I’ve only listened to it 3, maybe 4 times, and each time I feel a little sad. I desperately wanted to like it, but I just can’t.