Sunday, May 28, 2017

MISTI-Con 2017: Day 2 Recap

MISTI-Con 2017 was absolutely fantastic! It was my third time attending MISTI-Con and it certainly won't be my last. As mentioned in previous posts, MISTI-Con is located in Laconia, NH at the Margate Resort. This year, the convention provided a way for Potterheads to return home for a 20 year celebration of Harry Potter. At the Margate, we are allowed to have full reign of the hotel and grounds sans Muggles! The Margate lets MISTI-Con use their whole entire facility for programming, events, meet ups, etc. Pretty much the hotel was transformed into Hogwarts for 5 days. Don't forget to check out my other recap for MISTI-Con 2017 here: Day 1.

DAY 2: FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2017

I woke up early to get changed for the day as Tina Goldstein and went to get some continental breakfast before my first panel. Unfortunately, it took me too long to grab breakfast that I missed out on the volunteer meet up at 8:30. However, I did make it early to the Felt Hat Making workshop that my friend's mom was teaching. I ended up assisting with table setup before everyone arrived. This workshop was limited to only 12 people and I was the first one because I was there so early. Jess was probably the second person who arrived. I loved learning the techniques of wet felting. At the last MISTI, I was graced with the opportunity to learn how to needle felt. Everyone ended up making a little witch hat out of merino wool. You can see mine in the picture on the left.

After the Felt Hat Making Class, I proceeded to the Madam Malkin's Clearance Rack in the Common Room with Jess. If you read about how my Day 1 went, I mentioned how I left my garment bag full of half of my cosplays and outfits at home. I took advantage of Madam Malkin's Clearance Rack and picked up some pieces so I can mix and match for the rest of the con. Fortunately, I was able to pick up quite a few pieces for a good price. I picked up a maroon colored Gunne Sax dress that was reconstructed for about $20. The dress has some gold detailing and the back has a black lace up. I'll show a picture of the dress in the Day 4 Recap when I wore the dress to the Yule Ball. I also picked up a black evening bag for $3, a black vest/waistcoat for $8 and a silver long skirt for $3. I ended up using everything but the bag during the con. I will post pictures of the vest and the skirt I wore for the Day 3 recap. Many people mentioned how the skirt reminded them of the invisibility cloak that Harry had. I'll have to call my skirt the invisibility skirt.

I ended up skipping the next panel in order to relax in the room for a bit. The con is ongoing with so many events and programming throughout the day so I knew it was important to recharge. I ended up eating some lunch at the Beach Bar with Alberto and Jess before wandering the grounds again. I had to get a cheeseburger because Jess pretty mentioned cheeseburger backpack at least ten times on Thursday into Friday. I caught the end of the Harp Twins's show at the Blackstone Lounge and bought two CDs from them. Camille and Kennerly are fantastic and I love how they interact with their fans! They love taking photos with everyone and they offered to sign the CDs. They also take their time talking with their fans. The twins' mother also helps out with the merchandise sales. Krissy, Seamus and Ni were there so we chatted a bit before I went to "A Brief Report on Potter Panic" panel.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty chill. I relaxed and caught up with old friends before getting takeout with Alberto and Jess. We ordered some Chinese food to eat in the room. So I never made it to the Merlie's at 7:00 but I did help Jess and Alberto carry up Lindt chocolates to the Common Room. We were able to bring up four aluminum trays full of house chocolates. Jess wrote down the names of the different types of chocolates and split them into four trays, one for each house. Let's say everyone adored them after the Merlies. I had to make a post on social media in order for the word to get around. Let's say Lockhart was bolting from the Merlies to the Common Room right after he found out about the house chocolates.

I ended up hanging out in the Common Room with Krissy and Seamus. I ended up taking pictures of Krissy's interpretation of possessed Tom Riddle complete with Tom Riddle's Diary. After awhile, we headed over across the street and I was able to see Krissy's room at the Slyther-Inn. The Margate recently renovated the Inn building
right before MISTI started pretty much. The updates were much needed and the place looks wonderful!

I did a costume change and threw on my silver invisibility skirt, tossed on the black vest on top of my white collared skirt and wore my black witch's hat. Krissy and I ended up going to the speakeasy event called An Evening of Duplicitousness and Debauchery at the World Famous Kneazle's Meow. I pretty much call it the Blind Pig like the speakeasy in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie. I mean I did find a poster of the Blind Pig outside of the Blackstone. There were wonderful acts including Lawrence Neals, Christine Evans and Paige Literati. Unfortunately, magician Nelson Lugo couldn't attend. My favorite acts were by Lawrence. There was an MACUSA auror raid during the speakeasy but it just added more authenticity!

I was too tired to head to the Unspeakable dance party, which I heard was marvelous! After the speakeasy event, I retreated back to the room for a show and changed into my PJs. I didn't leave my bed for a good solid 1-2 hours while I relaxed. I felt like sleep was more important than partying it up all night long since it was only Day 2 and I needed to take care of myself so I won't over do it and get sick. I ended up going to bed around 1:00.

Don't forget to check out the remaining days of MISTI-Con sometime this week. You can also search the hashtag #NicoleAtMISTICon on Instagram for some photos.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Star-Crossed Blog Tour + Giveaway

Thank you Liza Wiemer for this wonderful opportunity to participate in the Star-Crossed Blog Tour! Star-Crossed is unique and explores identity aimed toward young readers but will captivate readers of all ages. Barbara Dee's upcoming book, Halfway Normal, will be published in September 2017.

Title: Star-Crossed
Author: Barbara Dee
Pub. Date: March 14, 2017
Publisher: Aladdin
Pages: 256
Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleBook DepositoryIndieBound
Synopsis (from

Mattie is chosen to play Romeo opposite her crush in the eighth grade production of Shakespeare’s most beloved play in this Romeo and Juliet inspired novel from the author of Truth or Dare.

Mattie, a star student and passionate reader, is delighted when her English teacher announces the eighth grade will be staging Romeo and Juliet. And she is even more excited when, after a series of events, she finds herself playing Romeo, opposite Gemma Braithwaite’s Juliet. Gemma, the new girl at school, is brilliant, pretty, outgoing—and, if all that wasn’t enough: British.

As the cast prepares for opening night, Mattie finds herself growing increasingly attracted to Gemma and confused, since, just days before, she had found herself crushing on a boy named Elijah. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things backstage at the production are starting to rival any Shakespearean drama! In this sweet and funny look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to be the lead player in her own life.


"A sweet story of young love amid middle school theatrics. Mattie’s genuine inflections and stream-of-consciousness narrative resonate well with the early-adolescent experience. Readers cannot help but root for Mattie as she discovers bravery she never gave herself credit for, both onstage and in life."Kirkus Reviews 
"A sweet coming-out story for jr. high readers. The clever Shakespeare content is a bonus…VERDICT: A fine choice for middle school libraries in need of accessible LGBTQ stories and a great option for students reading or performing Romeo and Juliet."School Library Journal
"A star student falls for the lead actress of her school play in this welcome addition to the middle grade LGBTQ bookshelf…Dee thoughtfully dramatizes the intricate social performance of middle school, with its secret crushes and fierce rivalries. The book benefits from a memorable cast…Mattie’s narration is intimate and believable, and readers will be pleased to watch her grow from spectator to star."Publishers Weekly
"A sweet look at unexpected first love. Recommended."School Library Connection
School Library Journal “Popular Pick” for March, 2017!


What was the most challenging part of writing this novel?

My biggest challenge was getting Mattie's swirling emotions right, not telegraphing or overstating feelings which she hasn't acknowledged to herself. When the novel begins, it's never occurred to her that she might have a crush on a girl--in fact, she's just recovering from a hopeless crush on a boy. I had to keep one step in front of her as she figures it out--and I always had to keep in mind that she's a kid, with a kid's vocabulary and a kid's way of processing things. When you're writing middle grade, particularly in the first person, you have to get inside your protagonist's head and stay there, or the book doesn't work. You have to let your character breathe. Part of me wanted Mattie to come out and declare herself--but I knew that if I wrote her that way, I would be superimposing myself on my character, and that wouldn't be fair.

What has been the most rewarding about writing this novel?

Hearing how deeply it's touched readers. People are writing to me to say how much STAR-CROSSED means to them, sharing personal stories and gorgeous fanart. My books have never had this sort of reader response before, and I'm just overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude.

What has surprised you the most since the publication of this novel?

The fact that STAR-CROSSED, which is a middle grade novel, is being read by so many teens and adults. I honestly didn't see that coming!


Barbara Dee is the author of seven middle grade novels all published by Simon & Schuster, including TRUTH OR DARE (Sept. 2016) and STAR-CROSSED (March 2017). Her next middle grade novel, HALFWAY NORMAL, will publish September 5, 2017. Barbara is one of the founders and directors of the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival. She lives with her family in Westchester County, New York.
Website | Twitter | Facebook 


1 winner will receive a signed copy of Star-Crossed.

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

MISTI-Con 2017: Day 1 Recap

MISTI-Con 2017 was absolutely fantastic! It was my third time attending MISTI-Con and it certainly won't be my last. As mentioned in previous posts, MISTI-Con is located in Laconia, NH at the Margate Resort. This year, the convention provided a way for Potterheads to return home for a 20 year celebration of Harry Potter. At the Margate, we are allowed to have full reign of the hotel and grounds sans Muggles! The Margate lets MISTI-Con use their whole entire facility for programming, events, meet ups, etc. Pretty much the hotel was transformed into Hogwarts for 5 days.

DAY 1: THURSDAY, MAY 18, 2017

I got up at a reasonable time in order to pack last minute items before Alberto picked me up to head toward New Hampshire. We picked up Jess in Manchester before grabbing lunch at Subway before heading toward the Margate Resort for 5 days of magic in Laconia.

When we entered the Margate, we walked onto Platform 9 3/4 and arrived at Hogsmeade to start our journey toward Hogwarts. It was a wonderful feeling even though it was a 90+ degree day. It was simply magical. We had to wait about 30-45 minutes to check into our room but in the meantime, Alberto, Jess and I ran into Seamus and we decided to pick up our badges. Seamus and I were trying to figure where Krissy was. We looked through our registration bags and we found our badge, troll bogey candies, Puffs shot glass and some other promotional items. I also purchased a MISTI-Con T-shirt back when they had the early bird fundraiser. It's fantastic!!! Krissy finally made it to the Margate with time to spare before her tealogy panel.

Alberto was able to check in and we got the keys to our room. It's so nice to be back at the Margate. The staff are super nice and the Margate was made to be a makeshift Hogwarts for the family reunion. Coming back home was exhilarating. It was worth the 2 year wait!

I skipped out on the cosplay for today since it was way too hot to wear layers. I decided to wear my Hogwarts skater dress. Unfortunately, I left half my cosplay pieces at home such as my robes, two white short sleeve shirts, a skirt with keys on it and two dresses. However, I made do with what I had and still had a blast because of course MISTI-Con is what you make of the con.

The Lakeside building is where we ended up staying at and it was decked out with some awesome fan art. There were some afternoon programming before the Opening Feast at 7:00. Alberto and I went to Shaw's to grab waters and some food to eat throughout the next 5 or so days.

I was able to pick up my Pygmy Puff that my friend Nick made me. It is blue and bronze and shining brightly as a Ravenclaw. The best thing is that there is a pull string that makes the Pygmy Puff dance. I love it so much!

The Opening Feast was spectacular despite the raging heat beating on us. My roomies and I ended up sitting with Seamus, Krissy and Kelly and the feast. Although we were in the main tent, the air quality was horrendous. I was so hot just sitting. The Main Tent transformed into the Great Hall complete with a welcoming, a sorting ceremony, a grand feast as well as some entertainment. The Harp Twins swept me off my feet with their beautiful music. I love how Camille and Kennerly were able to play movie and TV show theme songs and classic rock on harps.

The food was pretty good. I had turkey, roast beef, butternut squash, cranberry chutney, cold pickled beets, coleslaw and a roll. Everyone had glasses of water and there was a cash bar for those who want Harry Potter specialty drinks. 

My roomies and I left the feast a bit early to retire back to the room since it was so hot. Thank goodness for AC! I immediately changed into PJs after a nice refreshing shower. I wandered the Margate for a bit and was able to catch a bit of Whose Wand is it Anyways? with Jess.

I actually went to bed around 11:30 pm on Thursday night knowing that the other days will be exhausting and possible full of late nights.

Don't forget to check out the remaining days of MISTI-Con sometime this week. You can also search the hashtag #NicoleAtMISTICon on Instagram for some photos.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

She's So Boss by Stacy Kravetz

Title: She's So Boss
Author: Stacy Kravetz
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: May 30, 2017
Pages: 191
Source/format: Paperback from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

Whether you already have an idea for a business or you're mulling how to turn the things you enjoy into a self-sustaining enterprise, this book will connect the dots. From inspiration to execution, there are concrete steps every young entrepreneur, creator, or leader needs to take, and this book shows you how. 

Packed with information and with the profiles of more than a dozen real-life girl bosses who have turned their passions into business, She's So Boss is about thinking big, aiming high, and becoming the boss of your thing, whether it's a blog about baking organic treats or playing guitar and putting your music videos on YouTube.

Specific features of the book include:
Profiles of some of history's great girl bosses: Eleanor Roosevelt, Madam C.J. Walker, Coco Chanel, Marie Curie, Lena Dunham, Michelle Phan, and others
Pop-up features, including lists of Ten Fabulous Girl Bosses, Ten Jobs You Wish Existed, Six Turned-Out-to-Be-Awesome Ideas No One Thought Could Make It, Signs You're Heading for an Epic Fail, and more

Real-life girl boss profiles showing the stages of development of more than a dozen girls who've transformed their visions into action
Eye-catching graphs, charts, and diagrams covering such topics as the Basics of Any Business, Financial Implications of Borrowing at Different Interest Rates, The Importance of Superstar Marketing, Anatomy of a Girl Boss, Portrait of the Diva Anti-Boss, and the Social Media Influencer's Flow Chart

Examples of logos, savvy packaging and branding ideas, great thank-you notes and other effective communication, texts never to send, and more

M Y  T H O U G H T S

She's So Boss is a wonderful guide to educate females how to start their own business. Stacy Kravetz does a remarkable job breaking down all the main aspects of how to be an entrepreneur. The book is divided into sections such as starting with an idea, brand awareness, how to utilize social media to promote your business and how to borrow money and eventually how to gain a profit.

Testimonials are scattered throughout the chapters about females entrepreneurs and what they learned from running a business. They also provide valuable tips. The layout of the pages is easy on the eyes and charts are provided to divide the information. Testimonials are in block quotes against a blue background.  Each chapter has a powerful quote by a female in leadership. Hearing positive advice from female peers and female founders encourage females to reach higher and that they can do whatever they set their minds to. Not only does this boost self-esteem for girls but it's empowering them. Tap into your interests and seek out a passion! Do what you love to do!

Although I do not run a business, I can use a lot of these tips in order to promote my blog or to help me in my current job when we plan to fundraise. My current students can benefit from a lot of the tips mentioned in this book. Whether you plan to start an Etsy shop or plan to launch a new product via Kickstarter, definitely pick up She's So Boss!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Title: Nimona
Author: Noelle Stevenson
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: May 12, 2015
Pages: 266
Source/format: Gifted by Nicole from The Book Bandit // Paperback

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it "a deadpan epic."

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit. 

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Nimona is a shapeshifter and desperately wants to be the Ballister Blackheart's villainy side kick. Ballister finally gives in and lets her join his team but she needs to leaner how to follow the rules. Nimona is a spunky girl at heart and she goes with the flow. However, she can be destructive with no form and structure. The backstory about Blackheart and Ambrosius Goldenloin provides enough context in order to understand the current plot. Their complicated relationship creates the perfect atmosphere for Nimona to thrive in.

Noelle Stevenson's illustrations adds a flair of whimsiness and the storyline is very easy to follow yet it's captivating. The color palette is muted with soft neutral colors except for Nimona who shines in red/pink because of her hair and Blackheart's cape. Speech bubbles have an organic hand written like text that offer personality to the graphic novel. The panel art is simple and not overly detailed which creates a fast paced reading session.

Readers who are looking for a graphic novel full of knights, magic, science and dragons will be thrilled to dive into Nimona. Themes of friendship, diversity and comedy can be seen in the graphic novel. Originally a webcomic, Nimona, graduated to print format. Nimona is a 2015 National Book Award finalist. Readers who enjoyed Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley will enjoy Nimona.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Title: Eliza and Her Monsters
Author: Francesca Zappia
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication date: May 30, 2017
Pages: 400
Source/format: e-ARC from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community, and has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea's biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

With illustrations from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums and snippets of Wallace's fanfiction, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

"That computer is my rabbit hole; the internet is my wonderland. I am only allowed to fall into it when it doesn't matter if I get lost." - ARC of Eliza and Her Monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters is part geeky, part adorable and one hundred percent addictive. In the vein of Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Eliza Mirk has an online alter ego where she is known as LadyConstellation, the creator of one of the most popular webcomics called Monstrous Sea. Just like Cath, Eliza pours her heart into what she is passionate about. Eliza feels more comfortable talking to her online friends since in real life people think she is weird.

A new guy named Wallace moves to town during senior year and it's fate that he is also a huge Monstrous Sea fan. Eliza debates whether to let him know that she is the creator of the webcomic but decides to ride it out that she is just a huge fan of the series and likes to create fan art.

One day Eliza's world starts crashing down when her identity of the creator of Monstrous Sea gets revealed. Eliza starts to have panic attacks and her anxiety increases. She even starts seeing a therapist. Francesca Zappia even touches upon grief through Wallace and what happened to his biological father. Warning, there are slight mentions of suicide and possible depression for those who are sensitive to those topics.

Francesca Zappia delves into two different types of families. The structure of each family shapes Eliza and Wallace differently. We have Eliza's family with a mom, dad, two brothers and her dog. On the other hand, we have Wallace's family where he lives with two step parents, a half sister and a step sister. It's good for readers to know that there are different varieties of families out there and there is no such thing as the perfect family. Everyone has their share of joy and distress.

Throughout the novel, Zappia includes illustrations from Eliza's webcomics which acts as a visual aid to show readers what Eliza is currently working on. Zappia also includes some of the conversation she has through an online forum. They add a more personal touch to the novel.

The interaction between Eliza and Wallace is perfect. There is no instalove and their friendship grows before their love blooms. Zappia breaks down stereotypes. Wallace who enjoys football can also love writing and reading webcomics. Even one of Eliza's brothers likes theatre and choir despite the love for sports and video games. Zappia reminds readers that we cannot judge people by their looks. There is more than meets the eye. We just need to scratch under the surface a bit to see it.

Readers who love fan fiction and fan art alike will devour this book! This book is made for people who like to geek out at home on forums and find themselves chatting with people online. There is no question that Eliza and Her Monsters is another favorite novel of mine. With its quirkiness, honesty and sense of nostalgia, I can relate to Eliza and all the people who live on that Monstrous Sea forum.

Eliza and Her Monsters is a novel to celebrate fandom. No matter what fandom you belong to, go out there and create something meaningful. I am sure someone will find your creation to be extraordinary and you will make at least one new friend. Fandom brings people together no matter what kind of lives they are living. Fandom is where people feel like themselves despite the tough things they have to accept in their lives.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Where to Find Me at MISTI-Con 2017

So the time is finally here! After two years of waiting for MISTI-Con 2017, I get to venture out to the Margate Resort in Laconia, NH tomorrow morning! Not only is the Margate allowing Harry Potter con goers to return home for a 20 year celebration of Harry Potter, but they are also allowing us to have full reign of the hotel and grounds sans Muggles! That's right, Muggle free zone! MISTI-Con is a 5-day Harry Potter immersive experience where Potterheads reunite with old friends like a family reunion. However, MISTI-Con is also a very welcoming and accepting convention where new friendships are being made every minute.

The Margate is located next to Lake Winnipesaukee, aka The Great Lake by MISTI-Con goers, is the perfect backdrop. Hagrid's hut, aka the Gazebo Beach Bar, is a wonderful place to grab some food and drinks. I will be staying in the main lodging building, The Lakefront Building, where the Common Room is easily accessible. The lake is right in the back of the building and the building also connects to the central hub where all the panel rooms are located through an underground tunnel.

The Main Tent will be the prime location for events like the Opening Feast, Bewitching Bazaar & Author's Alley and the Yule Ball. The Pavilion provides a the perfect area for dueling, the Merlies fashion show and the Wrock Festival (Wizard Rock)! For lodging, many of the guests end up staying at the Inn which is known as the SlytherINN. There you can find many parties such as the Snarry Suite and there will be many meetups. Images can be found on the MISTI-Con website.

My schedule is chock full of amazing events and hopefully you will find me pretty much everywhere.

THURSDAY, MAY 18, 2017

On Thursday I plan to leave my place around 9:30 and get to Laconia around 11:30-12:00. My friends and I want to get lunch nearby Laconia before heading to the Margate. Hopefully we luck out and we can check into our room early. If not we can just get our MISTI-Con badges and leave our bags in the car. Programming starts around 2ish so I plan to see a couple panels during the day. I know I have to make a market run in the afternoon to stock the fridge with some food for lunches and snacks. One thing about a con is that you shouldn't skimp out on meals. Fortunately, the market is right across the street from the Margate.

The Opening Feast is at 7:00 so we have plenty of time to get ready for the first big event of the very long weekend. Introductions to the convention will be made, there is an amazing feast that will kick off the weekend and The Harp Twins and Alchemy in Motion will be performing. I cannot wait to reunite with my Harry Potter friends and to meet new people. I hope to go to bed earlier than usual on Thursday since Friday-Sunday is going to be crazy busy.

FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2017

On Friday I plan to attend the Harry Potter Boston breakfast meetup before going to the wet felting mini hat making workshop. Madam Malkins is next on the list for consigned costume wears and Harry Potter memorabilia. I am torn between the HP ornament crafting workshop and belly dancing workshop so I guess it depends which one doesn't fill up fast. Also there is a Rhythm and Ribbons with Beau Batons workshop and a Fantastic Beasts themed panel at the same time.

Ahh..decisions to be made! The 3rd Merlies is a must and then there is a speakeasy event that sounds absolutely fabulous which is sold out. The Unspeakable event around 11:30 pm is a maybe. It really depends how tired I am. Food will be eaten during the course of the day. MISTI-Con always blocks off around two hours around lunch and also around dinner time for meals, napping, showering, etc. It definitely comes in handy to have time to unwind a bit. I plan to do sandwiches for lunch and probably eat out for dinners. Some of the dinner might be able to double as lunches.

SATURDAY, MAY 20, 2017

On Saturday the afternoon is going to be pretty crazy. I want to start off my day with Five Scenes We Didn’t See which is a panel by David Martin. Martin is actually one of my favorite panelists at Harry Potter cons due to his insightfulness and well thought out panels. He has some of the best panels. He has another one on Friday that I hope to make to as well. There is another Fantastic Beasts related panel during the day which starts the same time the Bewitching Bazaar & Author's Alley are open and when the Wrock Festival starts. I plan to scout out the Bewitching Bazaar which is the craft faire. There are many crafters and artists to support! I plan to volunteer at the Bewitching Bazaar & Author's Alley and the Wrock Festival for a couple of hours as well. It doesn't hurt to help out with the convention since it's run by fans for fans!

There is a Battle of Hogwarts mannequin photo shoot that I want to attend around 5:30 pm which runs for an hour and a half. I might want to pop by to take some photos. Leanna Renee Hieber is doing a panel around 7:00 pm and I have a lot of down time for the night which is a good time to wander around to see what everyone is doing. Popping into the Common Room is also an option. If I can stay up late, I will swing by to check out The Restricted Section with Quigley von Lugenschmidt at 11:30 pm.

SUNDAY, MAY 21, 2017

Sunday is the last big day of programming and events. I am starting my day early for a Snape related panel after breakfast. Mugglenet will be doing a podcast recording for their SpeakBeasty podcast. Casey Robin will be talking about how a fan artist grows into a full-time artist. There is also a panel about the relationship between Dumbledore and Snape which sounds interesting. I want to go to the tea with the Malfoys but it's sold out. I will be volunteering for Yule Ball prep for a couple hours of the afternoon. I have a lot of down time before the Yule Ball which is nice since the Yule Ball will be fantastically high energy and there are after parties at night. I might swing by the 1920's - 40's Dance Party at 11:00 pm if I have enough energy.

MONDAY, MAY 22, 2017

Monday is the last day of MISTI-Con and the Closing Ceremonies is in the morning. It's time to say farewell for now and to embrace for the next MISTI-Con which I hope will be happening in 2019!

I will definitely be recapping MISTI-Con in several blog posts so make sure you check out the blog sometime next week. I have a one week break back at home before I venture out for BookExpo in NYC! To follow me on my MISTI-Con adventures, make sure to check out my hashtag, #NicoleAtMISTICon.

Monday, May 15, 2017

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Thank you to Penguin for allowing me to participate in the #ReadADessen countdown tour for Sarah Dessen. I am super excited showcase What Happened to Goodbye. Don't forget to check out the other blogs that are participating during the tour and be sure to check out the giveaway at the bottom of this post.

What Happened to GoodbyeTitle: What Happened to Goodbye
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Speak
Publication date: April 9th 2013 (first published 2011)
Pages: 402
Source/format: Paperback from publisher. This is part of the #PRHPartner.

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

Following her parents' bitter divorce as she and her father move from town to town, seventeen-year-old Mclean reinvents herself at each school she attends until she is no longer sure she knows who she is or where she belongs.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Mclean Sweet is named after Mclean Rich, a basketball coach of Defriese University. Mclean can reinvent herself as Eliza, Lizbet or even Beth each time she moved. She took on another persona and it is her way to deal with her parent's divorce after her mother fell in love with another man. When the judge allowed Mclean to make the decision to decide which parent to live with, she ultimately stayed with her father with the promise to visit her mother during the summer and on holidays. Mclean and her father relocated several times. These moves allowed Mclean to try to find herself and to find out how she fits in but she still hasn't figured out who she really is.

When Mclean relocates for one final time, she ends up making friends as Mclean. Her father has a job to rehab the failing restaurant Luna Blu. Think the show Restaurant Impossible with Robert Irvine but not as intense. Because Mclean planned all her alter egos, she has trouble figuring out who to become friends with and who she wants to be as. In a matter of time, friends come to her instead of her seeking friends. Mclean is friends with Opal from Luna Blu; Riley who hangs out with stuck up Heather; Deb the quirky girl who knows a lot about tattoos, drumming for speed metal, building models and also next door neighbor Dave who comes to Mclean's need several times. She spends her time helping out Opal with a commemorative town model project along with her other friends.

I found the diversity of friends to be refreshing. Mclean doesn't stick to a cookie cutter stereotypical group to people to call as her friends. She has a good variety of people to find comfort in whether it be for advice, to catch up with or just to share interests with. It's time for Mclean to finally ditch the personas and to finally embrace who she really is. Instead of pretending to be someone she is not in order to protect herself from getting to close to someone, she decides to open herself a little bit to let others in. No more coming up with lies or hiding behind a mask.

Although Mclean's life is not filled with sparkles and rainbows, she tries to make the best of her situation regarding her parents being divorced. It's hard for her to spend time with her mother especially with her stepfather and her half siblings. The only stability she has over her life is the town model. As the model starts from beginning to end, readers can see the growth in Mclean's character development. She learns to become true to herself and learns that saying goodbye means there is always a chance to say hello again.

Sarah Dessen writes contemporary novels that can cover tough topics but she writes about realistic situations without sugarcoating anything. What Happened to Goodbye is a solid book a lot of teens can relate to especially about fitting in and how to deal when they're parents separate. Readers who enjoy Tell Me Three Things and North of Happy will devour What Happened to Goodbye.


Sarah Dessen is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen novels for teens, which have received numerous awards and rave reviews. Her books have been published in over thirty countries and have sold millions of copies worldwide. She is the recipient of the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association for outstanding contribution to young adult literature for her novels: Keeping the Moon, Dreamland, This Lullaby, The Truth about Forever, Just Listen, Along for the Ride, and What Happened to Goodbye. Her newest novel, Once and for All, will be released in June 2017. An NC native, she currently lives in Chapel Hill with her family.


Once and For All
Title: Once and For All
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication date: June 6, 2017
Pages: 400
Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Synopsis (from

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.




Enter for a chance to win one (1) set of Sarah Dessen’s books in paperback (ARV: $132.00). NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 17, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 1, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Books will be sent by publisher. Nicole's Novel Reads is not responsible for books lost or damaged in the mail. Good Luck!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Title: Always and Forever, Lara Jean
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date: May 2, 2017
Pages: 336
Source/format: Purchased//Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

M Y  T H O U G H T S

I am floating on Cloud Nine after reading Always and Forever, Lara Jean. Jenny Han surprised her fans with the most heartfelt novel in the series! Always and Forever, Lara Jean sparkles with its pop culture references, Lara Jean's pursuit for the perfect chocolate chip recipe, Peter's charm and of course the sisterly bonding between the Song sisters.

The novel dives in around Easter time during Lara Jean's senior year of high school. Everyone is waiting to hear back from college and Lara Jean is super nervous to see where she gets accepted to. Readers are reunited with returning characters and are introduced to some new faces. Always and Forever, Lara Jean is a roller coaster full of emotions with a forthcoming wedding, a death of a loved one and senior year with its ongoing anticipation of going off to college.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean shows realistic display of anticipation for the college waiting game. The excitement and the upset are both on point and the ups and the downs of relationships are true. But in the end, everything is worth it. Although people may have certain thoughts about Lara Jean's and Peter's relationship, it is ultimately Lara Jean's and Peter's decision that matters. Through best of times and the worst of times, they stayed strong. Both write their own story as they mature from book 1 to book 3. Although, I always rooted for a Lara Jean and John Ambrose McClaren shipping, Miss Han's ending of the novel brings the series full circle because, after all, it all started with a love letter.

The message in Lara Jean's yearbook from Peter is perfection! I don't want to spoil it but you MUST pick up this book if you've read the first two books in the series. For those who haven't read To All the Boys I've Loved Before, add it to your TBR list. In fact, marathon To All the Boys I've Loved Before, P.S. I Still Love You and Always and Forever, Lara Jean!

Monday, May 8, 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: May 30, 2017
Pages: 320
Source/format: e-ARC from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

"Keep it. Remember me. And don't tattle." - ARC of When Dimple Met Rishi

Dimple Shah got into her dream college, Stanford. However, there is this summer program called Insomnia Con in San Francisco that she wants to attend but she needs to find a way to convince her parents to her go. Dimple's parents are more concerned for Dimple finding a I.I.H. (aka the Ideal Indian Husband). All Dimple wants is to live her life and immense herself in web development learning from the best. Rishi Patel is the total opposite. He embraces his parents to find the perfect future wife. Rishi's parents knew Dimple would be at the Insomnia Con program and they already know Dimple's parents.

The first official meeting between Dimple and Rishi is priceless! Dimple seems to despise Rishi but overtime she warmed up to him and even they even become friends. She knows it's not his fault and even tells him to stay when he offered to go home early. Their budding friendship ends up turning into something more.

Sandhya Menon's debut novel is charming with just enough humor. This romantic comedy shares the views of two children of two sets of Indian parents. I found it refreshing to read a novel that shows two sides of a coin. Dimple is a quirky yet spirited, goal-orientated young lady who wants to advance her career. She doesn't care about arrange marriages; she wants freedom and her independence. Rishi, on the other hand, is a hopeless romantic trying to woo Dimple. He believes in tradition while Dimple finds the culture suffocating her. Rishi's passion is art but he sees it more like a hobby and not a practical field to go into for a career.

Dimple is a role model for teenage girls. It's okay to like math, science and technology. It's okay to wear glasses and not to wear any makeup. I wish I read about Dimple when I was younger. Nowadays STEM is pretty big in education, especially for females. STEM related fields are still male dominated. It's exhilarating to read about a career-driven young lady who is passionate about web development and not about makeup and boys.

When Dimple Met Rishi tackles the struggles of desires and passions. Dimple and Rishi both gather the strength to vocalize what they are passionate about and what they want in life. Dimple's passion is web development and Rishi's passion is art. However, even though they don't want to admit, the love they have for one another is strong and they cannot let it go no matter what they want in life. Do things that make you happy! Trust your gut feeling!

Menon writes When Dimple Met Rishi with sincerity. The novel is exuberant! I was smiling when I was reading the novel for most of the time. When reading When Dimple Met Rishi, I see myself through both Dimple and Rishi. I have never read a book where I see myself completely in. I can see a part of myself in Dimple and a part of myself in Rishi. Menon fuses culture, socio-economics and overriding gender stereotypes in this rom-com. When Dimple Met Rishi is a fluffy yet heartwarming read. I highly recommend it and it's definitely a new favorite of mine.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Book Sleeve Love

I have been obsessed with book sleeves lately. A book sleeve is a fabric pouch for your book. It keeps your book in good condition when you throw it in your bag when you commute. This prevents the pages and the cover from becoming bent, wrinkled or dirty. A book sleeve is generally made out of fabric and some kind of foam stabilizer to pad your book.

A book sleeve is a life saver for me since I commute a lot on the bus and train during the warmer months. I don't have time to read my book during a lunch break at work so I usually don't carry a book sleeve during weekdays. However, if there is a book event, I will put my books in book sleeves if I don't want them to be damaged. I love all the different fabrics of the books sleeves and some companies will have exclusive limited edition prints. 

The book sleeve makers that I normally follow have Instagrams. This is perfect because I set up notifications so I can see any new photos they might post of their upcoming sleeves they plan to sell. Check out the following makers of book sleeves that I highly recommend checking out!


1. The Cozy Life, run by Steffani, releases book sleeves on Mondays at 2:30 PST. I have the pleasure of purchasing two book sleeves from this shop and the quality is fantastic! I was pleased to see that she had a pre-order feature for her Beauty and the Beast design through her Instagram. It worked out well since she had a waiting list and she would contact people if they are still interested in a cozy. The Cozy Life provides book sleeves in three sizes. Sapling cozy fits e-readers. Pine cozy fits most paperback books and some small hardcovers. Redwood is a larger cozy and fits hardcovers and if you are lucky, some monster sized hardcovers like the Harry Potters.

Sapling - 7.5” x 5.5”
Pine - 9.5” x 7.25”
Redwood - 11” x 9”

2. Book Biff, run by Breanne, is currently going through a re-branding stage right now but her book sleeves are some of my very first that I have purchased. I have had the pleasure to purchase a couple Harry Potter related ones from her that I adore! She sells e-reader Biffs as well as standard size paperback Biffs. However, some of the standard size Book Biffs can hold smaller hardcovers as well.

Standard - 9” x 7”

3. Book Beau, run by Benita, may be the most well known book sleeve provider. Although, I haven't had to luck to purchase a Book Beau, I hope some of you will be lucky to snag one. Currently she has been running pop ups to give her audience a better chance of snatching a Book Beau randomly. FYI, her Book Beaus sell out in minutes or even seconds sometimes. Make sure you are a speedy mouse clicker. Book Beaus come in e-reader size, standard size and indie size (which holds slightly larger paperbacks).

E-reader - 8.5" x 6"
Indie - 10" x 8"

4. Story Time Sleeve just opened up a couple weeks ago but their prints differ from other companies which is a good thing. One of my friends purchased a book sleeve from this company and confirmed that it's good quality. So far there is one size Story Time Sleeves. The book sleeves will accommodate paperbacks and some smaller to medium sized hardcovers.

Standard - 10.5" x 8"

5. Story Hero, run by Becky, makes very unique book sleeves. Her Story Heroes are slightly more expensive than the other companies mentioned by the quality is impeccable. So far, she makes my favorite book sleeves. You get your money's worth due to the fact that the Story Hero has a Velcro flap closure on the top of the book sleeve and it also has a front pouch to hold your sticky notes and bookmarks. Each front pouch has a literature saying or quote. Also, the inside lining is water resistant! So far there is a standard size Story Hero but even the standard size can hold a lot. I was able to squeeze a medium size hardcover into it.

Standard - 10" x 8"

6. Book Bubbie, run by Diana, sells three types of Book Bubbies. She carries mini, standard size and hardback sleeves. For those who want the hardback sleeves, customers must put in a custom order. The mini size fits mass market paperbacks while the standard size fits regular to larger sized paperbacks and possibly smaller hardcovers.

Mini - 8.5" x 6"
Standard - 9"x 7.5"
Hardback - Customized order


1. The Book Sac, run by Dharshini, is located in Australia. I believe there are only one size Book Sacs but the fabric prints are distinctive. Book Sacs are released on Fridays at 8 am AEST and Mondayss at 9 pm AEST.

Standard - 10" x 8"

2. Melvis Makes, run by Melanie, is located in the UK. She makes a variety of items from Book Buddys to pencil cases. With the Book Buddy you can either purchase a pre-made one or you can get a pre-order one to choose what color lining you want. There are four sizes to pick from which include small, medium, large and extra large. For e-reader size, the seller will customize the size so the Book Buddy hugs your e-reader perfectly.

E-reader - Customized order with flap
Small - 9" x 7"
Medium - 10" x 8"
Large - 11" x 8.5"
Extra Large - 12" x 9.5"

3. Green Leaf Baby is located in Canada. The shop sells e-book sized book sleeves as well as standard size book sleeves. The book sleeves have a soft minky lining and they are made-to-order book sleeves. The seller also sells baby bibs, pouches and taggie blankets.

E-reader - Customized order
Standard - 10" x 8"

Monday, May 1, 2017

Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

Title: Something in Between
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication date: October 4, 2016
Pages: 432
Source/format: Finished copy from Ellie

Rating: ☆☆☆ 

Synopsis (from

It feels like there’s no ground beneath me, like everything I’ve ever done has been a lie. Like I’m breaking apart, shattering. Who am I? Where do I belong?

Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.

And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.

For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Jasmine de los Santos is a hardworking high schooler who wants to attend a good college. She makes sure her grades are high and she is currently a cheerleader at her school. She is lucky to be selected to receive the United States National Scholarship from the Department of Education. Unfortunately, she finds out her family does not have green cards. Jasmine's perfect life starts to crumble.

Something in Between is Melissa de la Cruz's first contemporary book and it's an important read for everyone. Not only are readers introduced to a diligent, over achiever Jasmine de los Santos but readers are introduced to immigration policies and what it means to be undocumented in the United States. Because of my current job, I can relate to what Jasmine is going through with finding out that her family doesn't have green cards and that they are in the United States undocumented.

The risk of being deported is very high. Students who are undocumented can attend school with no problems until they reach the college level. In order to receive federal aid through scholarships, work-study, federal loans, etc., one must be a citizen or be a permanent resident. Unfortunately those who are DACA students, get the short end of the stick.

Proving ones citizenship can be a struggle for most students in order to apply to college. Without the financial aid, they cannot attend school due to lack of money. Their parents work long hours in low paying jobs for a better life in America. All Jasmine wants is to attend college. Many students in her standing would want to do the same; they want to better themselves.

I applaud Melissa de la Cruz for introducing some of these issues to readers. Many do not know too much about certain immigration policies and de la Cruz educates readers about what is fact compared to what is fake news. This leads to less assumptions about immigrants living in the United States. De la Cruz breaks down stereotypes; she creates the foundation for readers to become more aware of what is going on in the United States in terms of immigration policies.

Something in Between is a thought-provoking coming-of-age novel I recommend to everyone. Not only is it enlightening but it's a vital novel to read during this time of age of the new presidency and the current issues raised in politics.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Lisa See's The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane Event Recap

I was fortunate enough to meet Lisa See at the Brookline Booksmith on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. I have been reading See's books ever since 2005 when Snow Flower and the Secret Fan came out. See is one of the very few adult fiction authors that I love. I have always had a fascination with historical fiction and books about Chinese culture ever since I read part of the Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan back in 2001.

Prior to the event, I already read an e-ARC version of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane and fell in love! The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is now my favorite book written by See. This book is fantastic for all ages and for those who want to learn more about the Akha ethnic group living in Yunnan China as well as the origins of Pu-erh tea. Check out my review for The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane here.

I arrived at Brookline Booksmith around 6:30ish and not many of the chairs were filled. I would say there were about six or so people waiting for the event. Closer to 6:55 pm, many of the seats were filled. See started her talk with an introduction about her research and inspiration for the book. She went to the movie theaters with her husband one day in Santa Monica and saw a Caucasian couple with an Asian adopted daughter. See saw the love between the family.

See's books are often about the relationships and emotions of mothers and daughters, which I love reading about. See managed to do a lot of research regarding transnational adoption and China's one child policy while being able to delve into the history of tea and the Tea Horse Road of Yunnan. The process of how Pu-erh tea came to be was an accident. Tea fermented when the tea was being traded from China to Tibet. The different levels in humidity and the temperatures along with the snow added in the creation of  Pu-erh.  Pu-erh tea became highly popular in Hong Kong and Guangzhou for Dim Sum.

See had the pleasure meeting the biggest importer of Pu-erh tea in China and was able to see the tea picking in action during the prime time of tea picking season. For The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, See researched 27 ethnic minority groups in Yunnan. In China, 95% of the people are part of the Han majority while the 5% represents 55 ethnic minorities. After settling on writing about the Akha people, See was able to visit a village and learn about their culture.

See's favorite chapter of the novel is the group therapy session when Hayley is in a round table discussion with other adoptees from China. See was able to reach out to 18-year-old to 22-year-old women who are adopted from China regarding their adoption process for accurate emotions and responses for Hayley's portion of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. Many of the women wrote long responses, some even up to 50 pages. Many were conflicted with their identity. Are they Chinese? American? Chinese American? Or are they something else?

See discussed a little bit of her ancestry and how her great grandfather worked on the transcontinental railroad and how you identify yourself with people around you. Charlotte, a college-aged young lady in the audience, has been corresponding with See for quite some time about her adoption experience and how she identifies herself. Charlotte's mother spoke about the adoption process and also how Charlotte was able to meet her birth parents via Skype. It was an exhilarating and overwhelming experience since it's very hard for children to reconnect with their birth parents. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is one of the deepest books written about a mother's and a daughter's love. It was mentioned during the talk that motherly love is when you "take pain and [you] carry it in the heart."

I was able to meet See and gush about how I have been reading her books since Snow Flower and the Secret Fan came out. See is one of the authors I have been wanting to meet in my life time and I relished the fact I got to meet her.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

Title: Lucky Broken Girl
Author: Ruth Behar
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication date: April 11, 2017
Pages: 256
Source/format: Finished copy from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆ 

Synopsis (from

Based on the author's childhood in the 1960s, a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant girl is adjusting to her new life in New York City when her American dream is suddenly derailed.

Ruthie Mizrahi and her family recently emigrated from Castro's Cuba to New York City. Just when she's finally beginning to gain confidence in her mastery of English and enjoying her reign as her neighborhood's hopscotch queen, a horrific car accident leaves her in a body cast and confined her to her bed for a long recovery. As Ruthie's world shrinks because of her inability to move, her powers of observation and her heart grow larger. She comes to understand how fragile life is, how vulnerable we all are as human beings, and how friends, neighbors, and the power of the arts can sweeten even the worst of times.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Ruthie Mizrahi and her family moves to the United States of America for a better life after her family escaped Castro's regime in Cuba. She doesn't like being in a remedial 5th class because she people make fun of her. Ruthie's only friend in class is Ramu, a boy who moved from India and also doesn't know English that well. Ruthie doesn't give up and eventually is switched into a regular English class.

Her parents work very hard to provide a better life for Ruthie and Ruthie's brother Izzie and to live the American dream. Life is tough but they have each other. Sometimes her parents miss Cuba but Ruthie loves being in the United States. Ruthie always thought that if she works hard, she can accomplish anything until the day of the car accident.

When Ruthie ends up getting into the car accident, it was hard to read. Her family was driving on a family trip to Staten Island and everyone was so happy. Then the next thing you know, the accident occurred. Everyone is bleeding, Ruthie is stuck in the car with a missing go-go boot and her leg hurts.

Ruthie ends up struggling in a body cast with a fractured right leg for about a year trying to heal. People get frustrated and some don't treat Ruthie the same. Ruthie blames herself for wanting so much and should have been happy being Miss Hopscotch Queen of Queens. She thinks that is she wasn't so selfish, none of this would have happened.

Ruth Behar takes her own life experience as the inspiration for Lucky Broken Girl, which is announced in the acknowledgments of the book. Behar describes in a realistic and honest voice about what a child feels when they immigrate to a new country and how they try to assimilate. Most of the time, we read and hear stories about adults immigrating. But what about children who are naive and have the sense of innocence? Ruthie wants to enjoy her life as a kid and wants to learn to become a better person. It's hard for her to make friends when kids ridicule her for not knowing as many things. Reading an immigration experience through a child's POV provides a new perspective.

Even though Ruthie is bedridden, she has a tutor visit her a few times a week to keep her updated with her education. A new neighbor, Chicho, shows her how to use paints to create art. Not only does she share her culture and religion with us but Ruthie doesn't give up. Even though Ruthie is headstrong, she succeeds in everything she puts her heart toward.

Ruthie doesn't see the world based on people's race and ethnicity. She embraces what New York has to offer! The innocence of a child is seen in this novel and you can see how she befriends people who are Mexican, Indian and even Belgian. Her letters to people at the end of most of the chapters are inspiring and show they she has hope. She addresses them to Frida Kahlo, God and Shiva. Ruthie welcomes everyone with open arms.

Lucky Broken Girl is a wonderful book about family, immigration, culture, hope and so much more. It's a wonderful middle grade novel for all ages.