Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Reads

It's Halloween, All Hallows's Eve and Samhain! What are you doing on this Friday night? Check out some of these creepy, spooky and/or scary reads.

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Halloween reads I have read:

Sweep series by Cate Tiernan
Cirque Du Freak series by Darren Shan
Conversion by Katherine Howe
Rooms by Lauren Oliver (currently reading)
Coraline by Neil Gaiman (watch the movie too)
The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh O'Brien
Balefire series by Cate Tiernan
Death Has a Daughter by Candice Burnett (Check out the Death's Dilemma as well)
Pet Sematary by Stephen King
Hex Hall series by Rachael Hawkins
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris

Check out anything by Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. I absolutely love their writings!

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Halloween reads I haven't read yet but will like to read:

The Diviners by Libba Bray
Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Jackaby by William Ritter
The Legion series by Kami Garcia
Doll Bones by Holly Black
Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs
The Network Series by Katie Cross
Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

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Do you have any recommendations for creepy, scary or spooky Halloween reads?

EDIT: 8:15 a.m. Harry Potter Treats!

Check out J.K. Rowling's 'malicious' story about Umbridge! Also, check out Pottermore for more HP treats!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Looking Ahead: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

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Cover reveal for Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver! How cool is this cover? I loved how the book title is a gradient and it is vanishing/disappearing into the background. I am a big fanatic when it comes to typography on book covers and this one does not disappoint. Be on the lookout for Vanishing Girls in March 2015.

Synposis (from goodreads):

New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping story about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.


Boston Book Festival 2014

Boston Book Festival was fantastic this year! I only attended events on Saturday and was able to attend two events I planned to see and one event that I wanted to see but wasn't my number one priority. Originally, I wanted to see Rick Riordan at the Kid's Keynote but of course you had to show up super early to even get seats. Even two hours prior to the event, there was at least 20 people in line. Because I was at a Harry Potter Ball in Salem the night before, I opted to go into Boston a little later than I planned to.

Trinity Church
However, arriving to Boston at 10:00 a.m. was actually not that bad. I was able to peruse around the area in front of the Trinity Church in Copley Square. There were dozens of tents and I was able to find one that were giving away free books. I was able to pick up a couple of ARCS and four finished copies. Surprisingly I found a book by Holly Black. Since I planed to see Holly later on the day, I figured it was worth keeping in order to get it signed.

Some of the books I was able to pick up.

Rick Riordan's panel was at the Trinity Church and right across from the main Boston Book Festival tent. I was able to see a table full of pre-signed Riordan books. I believe all the pre-signed books were from The Heroes of Olympus series. Riordan was the only author that did not have an author signing after a panel due to how insanely popular he is. I don't blame him either because I bet so many people would be in his line just to get their books signed. Plus, I would feel bad for little kids who have to stand in line for hours just to meet him and to get a book signed.

My first panel of the day ended being Fiction with a Twist. It was my only Adult panel but I enjoyed it very much. The guest speakers included Lauren Oliver, Ben Mezrich and William Giraldi. Robin Young was the moderator. The event was hosted in the Church of the Covenant which was gorgeous but then again most panels were held in churches. I arrived to the church around 10:20 and I was able to get a 5th row seat. The event started at 11:00 but at 10:55, the reserved seats opened up and I was able to snag a front row seat. I was super excited when the reserved seats opened up. During the panel, the authors touched upon their stories of characters that haunt us. The panel was very informative and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I am glad I was able to attend it. After the panel, autograph signings took place. I met Lauren Oliver and had her sign a copy of Delirium and a copy of Liesl and Po. The latter I had personalized and signed to my little cousin, Alicia.

Around 12:20, I was done with the signing and proceeded to the Emmanuel Church for the Middle Grade: Masters of Fantasy panel. Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Soman Chainani and Gregory Maguire were guest speakers. Roger Sutton was the moderator. I love how The Iron Trial and the The World Without Princes trailers were shown at the panel. It definitely amped up the vibe. Everyone was super excited. I wasn't able to get super close seats like the previous panel but I have to say 7th row is not that bad at all. I love how Chainani wrote his college thesis on Maguire's Wicked and now he gets to be a panel presenter with Maguire! How cool is that? I would love to present with one of my favorite authors.

The signing line for Black and Clare was suuuuuper long. I wasn't surprised by it. Clare signed three books and in City of Glass, she drew a picture of Church. Now, I have Church in City of Glass and in Clockwork Prince. Chainani and Maguire had pretty short lines. My friend Melissa (1/3 of Novelty Podcast) and I were able to be in the first 20 people who stood in the Black and Clare line. Afterwards, we lucked out being the last two to be in the Maguire line. Maguire was leaving at 2:30 sharp and we made it just before he left the venue. I know a lot of people were super sad that he left early. I plan to see Maguire again in December when he visits Cambridge.

Maguire was amazing when he sang a song from what he thought Baba Yaga would sing. You can see a picture of him above. "She sings when she is nervous and so do I," exclaimed Maguire right before he started singing.

Melissa and I went to Starbucks and Panera afterwards since we had a break between panels. Panera was sooooo gooood. I was looking forward to a sit down meal instead of eating snacks all day.

Last but not least, I went to the YA: Reality, Meet Fantasy panel. Panel guests included Scott Westerfled, Meg Wolitzer and A.S. King. Cathryn Mercier was the panel moderator. Even though my friend Melissa and I were there at least 45 minutes prior to the event, we got seats near the middle back. I guess it was good that we were near the signing area but I didn't expect the line outside to be so long so early. I anticipated Scott Westefeld's line to be long and I was right. Melissa was near the front of the line which was good since we were able to meet the authors near the beginning of the signing. I was able to meet A.S. King and I had her sign Glory O'Brien's History of the Future. King barely made it to the event. She said her flight was delayed and she just made it to the panel. She's such a trooper. Also, on Twitter, I heard that Lauren Oliver almost missed her panel earlier on in the day because her taxi got pulled over. Authors are super determined to make it to their panels and to meet their reader fans. I LOVE how dedicated they are. 

THANK YOU to all the authors, publishers, Boston Book Festival organizers and volunteers for making this event possible!

Books I got signed.

I will do another post about the panels in more detail. There is so much stuff that happened in one day but I hope you enjoyed reading about my BBF experience. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Conversion by Katherine Howe

Title: Conversion
Author: Katherine Howe
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication date:  July 1, 2014
Pages: 402
Source/format: Purchased, hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane comes a chilling mystery—Prep meets The Crucible.

It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.

First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.

Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .

Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s

My Thoughts:

I loved reading Conversion, especially since I live in the North Shore of Massachusetts and know a lot of the places that are mentioned in the book. I loved how each chapter is narrated either by Colleen Rowley in present day Danvers or by Ann Putnam in Salem Village. Even though the stories between the girls are quite different, they do sort of mesh together at the end of the book. I liked how there is a little bit of romance (but not too much), a little bit of gossip and a little bit of mystery. Katherine Howe's writing makes me want to read for hours. I could not put this book down. This book would be a great read after reading the Crucible in an American Literature English class. And because it's October, Conversion would make an awesome October read.

Meeting Katherine Howe

I was able to attend a release party for the book in Salem, MA back in July. The Salem Athenaeum was nice and cozy and the perfect size for the party. Howe did the speak to long about her book but what she had to say was very insightful. There were cheese, crackers and other h'oueuvres. I believe there were wine and water as well. It was nice to mingle with other people at the Salem Athenaeum and to meet Howe.

Unfortunately, I was not feeling well earlier this month when she had a party for The Penguin Book of Witches. I assume it was amazing since, again, it was held in Salem and at the Salem Witch Museum. If anyone is interested in meeting Howe and is around the Salem, MA area in November, she will be at the Salem Literacy Festival on Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 2:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Looking Ahead - The Name of the Blade

US edition

Synposis (from Goodreads):

Ancient Japanese gods and monsters are unleashed on modern-day London in this first book of an epic trilogy from acclaimed fantasy writer Zoë Marriott.

When Mio sneaks the family's katana -- a priceless ancestral sword -- from her parents' attic, she just wants to spice up a costume. But the katana is much more than a dusty antique. Awakening the power within the sword unleashes a terrible, ancient evil onto the streets of unsuspecting London. But it also releases Shinobu, a fearless warrior boy, from the depths of time. He helps to protect Mio -- and steals her heart. With creatures straight out of Japanese myths stalking her and her friends, Mio realizes that if she cannot keep the sword safe and learn to control its legendary powers, she will lose not only her own life . . . but the love of a lifetime.

UK edition

I first heard about The Name of the Blade by Zoë Marriott at BEA earlier this year. It's the first book in the The Name of the Blade trilogy. Originally, the novel was published under the name The Night Itself  by Walker Books in June 2013 in the United Kingdom. However, the novel will be released on November 11, 2014 by Candlewick Press under the title The Name of the Blade.

The second book in the trilogy is Darkness Hidden and it was initially released on July 3, 2014 by Walker Books. So far a US release date hasn't been posted on goodreads.

UK edition

If you like mythology, paranormal and fantasy, check out this series!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Looking Ahead: The Heir by Kiera Cass

How gorgeous is the cover art? I absolutely love it! So I am sure that everyone has heard about Kiera Cass releasing more books in line for the Selection series. Book #4 will be The Heir. Maxon and America have twins! Cass mentions the couple's twins' names are Eadlyn (girl) and Ahren (boy). Eadlyn is the first born and the heir. The book has a May 5, 2015 release date. You can check her website post for more information. I assume Book #5 will come out in 2016.

Prior to the new Selection book releases, there will be two novellas, The Queen and The Favorite. The Queen is about Amberly's Selection story and The Favorite is about Marlee. And yes, both novellas will be available as a print bind up!

Releases for the upcoming novellas:

The Queen - December 2, 2014 (e-novella), 64 pages
The Favorite - March 3, 2015 (e-novella)
The Selection Stories: The Queen & The Favorite (paperback) - March 3, 2015, 240 pages

Favorite Booktubers

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I started watching BookTube sometime in 2013. I've always been a fan of YouTube videos and decided to take the plunge with the visual and audio commentary of everything book related.

Here's a list of some of my favorite BookTubers.

Alita at abookaffair
Hannah at Bookables
Tzivi at cookieadditions
Liz at Elizziebooks
Rachel at evilclementine
Jesse at jessethereader
Kassidy at Kassidy Voinche
Kat at Katytastic
Catriona at Little Book Owl
Meg and Maddi at MegaMad4Books
Megan at Megan Olivier
Paige at PagebyPaige
Christine at polandbananasBOOKS
Tina at Regular Reads
Sandra at Sandra Reads
Priscilla at The Readables
Sophia at The Book Basement
Tiernan at TheBookTuber
Caitlin at YA BookwormBlogger

Who do you watch on BookTube? Do you watch any videos by BookTubers above? Do you have any BookTuber recommendations for me?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal

Title: Dollbaby
Author: Laura Lane McNeal
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Publication date:  July 3, 2014
Pages: 377
Source/format: Purchased, hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A big-hearted coming-of-age debut set in civil rights-era New Orleans—a novel of Southern eccentricity and secrets

When Ibby Bell’s father dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother Fannie and throws in her father’s urn for good measure. Fannie’s New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever been—and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum—is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannie’s black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets.

For Fannie’s own family history is fraught with tragedy, hidden behind the closed rooms in her ornate Uptown mansion. It will take Ibby’s arrival to begin to unlock the mysteries there. And it will take Queenie and Dollbaby’s hard-won wisdom to show Ibby that family can sometimes be found in the least expected places.

For fans of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and The Help, Dollbaby brings to life the charm and unrest of 1960s New Orleans through the eyes of a young girl learning to understand race for the first time.

By turns uplifting and funny, poignant and full of verve, Dollbaby is a novel readers will take to their hearts.

My Thoughts:

Dollbaby is definitely my favorite book I've read this year. Laura Lane McNeal has a way with words. The character development is amazing and there are so many twists in this novel.

This is an amazing coming of age story about Ibby. She moves in with her grandmother, Fannie, after her father passes away in an accident and her mother abandons Ibby on Fannie's doorstep. Ibby is introduced to Queenie and Doll. The four become very close overtime and are family to one another. I loved reading about Ibby as a 12-year-old, a 16-year-old and as a 20-year-old. Reading the characters in 4 year intervals really shows how the characters matured.

Fannie has many secrets to tell and I loved the way McNeal shows some of these secrets through mini flashbacks. I felt bad for Fannie. She went through so much throughout her lifetime, losing many of her loved ones but she was still able to regain her family through Queenie, Doll and Ibby.

The more I keep reading this book, the more I fell in love with the characters. I've grown attached to the characters and I am sad that I finished the book but it's definitely a book that I will recommend to everyone.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Anticipating Boston Book Festival

The Boston Book Festival is around the corner. BBF is an annual event in and spreads out through multiple indoor and outdoor venues in Copley Square located in Boston, MA. Authors, librarians and book lovers alike can enjoy panels, a street fair, live music and more. The festival is free and open to the public.

This year, the festival will be on Saturday, October 25, 2014. I am looking forward to the following events.

10:45 a.m. Kid's Keynote featuring Rick Riordan

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1:00 p.m. Middle Grade: Masters of Fantasy featuring Holly Black, Soman Chainani, Cassandra Clare and Gregory Maguire

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4:15 p.m. YA: Reality, Meet Fantasy featuring A.S. King, Scott Westerfeld and Meg Wolitzer

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Don't forget to check out the venue map here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Title: The Blood of Olympus
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication date:  October 7, 2014
Pages: 502
Source/format: Purchased, hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they're stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it "might" be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea's army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

My Thoughts:
Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
To storm or fire the world must fall.
An oath to keep with a final breath, 
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death 
-The Prophecy of Seven in The Blood of Olympus
Can I say that this final installment was beyond EPIC! I was looking forward to this book since I finished reading The House of Hades. What I loved the most in this book is how the relationships between the demigods strengthened.

The way Riordan builds the friendship between Reyna and Nico is perfect. I've always loved Nico. He is always brooding and thinking everyone doesn't want to be friends with him or to be near the son of Hades. But there is something about his personality that I love. The fact that he has some of the coolest powers makes it even better. I was super glad that he has found a place to call home and he does find a certain someone by the end of the book.

I wasn't too fond of Reyna when I first met her in the beginning of the Heroes of Olympus series but I absolutely love her in this installment. I loved how readers are able to learn more about her past and how she reunites with her sister. Reyna and Nico working together was perfect. I don't want to spoil it for everyone but Reyna has a pretty cool power that is used in conjunction with Nico's.

Another friendship I loved is the one between Annabeth and Piper. Annabeth usually takes charge in most situations but there is one situation where she places her faith in Piper's hands. Annabeth is scared in one scene in the book. She doubts Piper half the time but finally trusts Piper and not because Piper can Charmspeak.

My favorite passage between the two is the following:
"You cut the rope," Annabeth said. We're going to die down here!"
"...Fear can't be reasoned with. Neither can hate. They're like love. They're almost identical emotions. That's why Ares and Aphrodite like each other. The twins--Fear and Panic--were spawned from both war and love."
"But I don't...this doesn't make sense."
"No," Piper agreed. "Stop thinking about it. Just feel."
"I hate that."
"I know. You can't plan for feelings. Like with Percy and your future--you can't control every contingency. You have to accept that. Let it scare you. Trust that's it'll be okay anyway."
Annabeth shook her head. I don't know if I can."
"Then for right now, concentrate on the revenge of Damasen. Revenge for Bob."
A moment of silence. I'm good now." 
-Page 206
Annabeth finally admits that she is scared and that she needs help. It's very hard for her to let her guard down but she finally trusts Piper to lead the way.

Also, can I say John Rocco is an amazing artist! I absolutely love his artwork on the cover. And Disney-Hyperion did an awesome job choosing purple for the clothbound and orange for the inner lining. It's absolutely perfect for The Blood of Olympus.

Everyone knows that Riordan plans to write another series set in Boston with a boy named Magnus Chase. Everyone knows Annabeth's last name is Chase. Lo and behold that Magnus Chase is related to Annabeth.
"And my dad's relatives...I haven't thought about them in years. I have an uncle and a cousin in Boston."
-Page 393 
DUN DUN DUN! No one will know until The Sword of Summer of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard is released.

Do the demigods succeed in bringing the Athena Parthenos to Camp Half-Blood? Do both camps unite together to defeat Gaea and her minions? Go and read The Blood of Olympus now! You will not regret it!

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Author: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication date:  September 9, 2014
Pages:  304
Source/format: ARC from BEA

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Synopsis  (from Goodreads):

Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.

So he tries his best to do his worst - and fails at failing.

Now the Magisterium awaits him. It's a place that's both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . .  

My Thoughts:

The Iron Trial is a fun read. To me it's a mashup between The Heroes of Olympus series and the Harry Potter series. There are a lot of similarities between The Iron Trial and Harry Potter series to the point where some readers might think the Magisterium series is a rip off of Harry Potter. Thus being said, some of the plot twists were not twists for me at all because some of the things that happen in this book are similar to Harry Potter but it is not a Harry Potter rip off. Who doesn't like reading books full of magic and boarding schools? Three friends go to a magic school and a male mentor guides them through their journey. Sound familiar?

Black and Clare add their own flair to their world of the Magisterium. Students who have an affinity for magic don’t automatically receive a letter when they turn eleven to attend the school. Students must work hard to enroll into the school, only if they are worthy enough.

Masters will then choose three students to be their apprentices. These Masters are mentors will guide their apprentices until they finish school. There are five trials to complete, each trial to pass through each school year gate. They teach their students how to control their magic. Control is very important in this book and I assume in the entire series.

Instead of being witches and wizards, magical folk are called Mages or Masters. Mages are those who have the magical affinity and are being trained to study the five elements (earth, air, water, fire and the void). Once a Mage passes through all the Magisterium gates, one will become a Journeyman/Journeywoman Mage. When one masters all five elements, one will become a Master.

I love the cover art for this book. It's absolutely gorgeous and captures the book accurately. The book reads at a pretty decent pace but the Sand Room sections of the book moved fairly slowly.

I can't wait to read the next installment of the Magisterium series and I am definitely going to read each book of the series when they are released.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

MISTI-Con 2015: The Wizarding World Fair

Are you a big Potter fan? Love the books and movies? Do you want to meet up with other Potterheads and share your love for Harry Potter and the magical wizarding world?

Check out MISTI-Con, a Harry Potter convention. According to MISTI-Con's website, MISTI-Con creates an immersive magical experience at the Margate Resort in Laconia, NH, filling the need for a smaller, more intimate Harry Potter convention designed for adult fans.

MISTI-Con 2015 will take place at the Margate Resort in Laconia, NH. The Wizarding World's Fair will be from Thursday, May 21, 2015 to Monday, May 25, 2015.

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It is a more intimate gathering than LeakyCon. Having been to MISTI-Con 2012 and Ascendio 2012, I can say that I loved the smaller crowd at MISTI-Con.

This year there is a 24-hour common room, wizard rock, a craft fair, awesome panels, amazing cosplay, lit track, a masquerade ball, an opening gala, murder mystery dinner, a keynote luncheon and more! If you like Wrock shows, you must attend MISTI-Con's Wrock in the Wizengamot!

I hope to see you at the wizarding fair, but if I don't see you, MISTI-Con will be covered sometime after the convention. Most likely it will be the end of May or beginning of June since BookExpo America (BEA) is right after MISTI-Con. I plan to attend BEA if I can get the time off for work. And if I can, this will be an amazing week and a half. I will be covering BEA as well. 

Have a magical weekend.