Thursday, October 31, 2019

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Title: Winterwood
Author: Shea Ernshaw
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: November 5, 2019
Pages: 320
Source/format: e-ARC//Publisher
Synopsis (from

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep comes a haunting romance set deep in the magical snow-covered forest, where the appearance of a mysterious boy unearths secrets that awakens the enchanted, but angry, woods.

Be careful of the dark, dark wood . . .

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.

But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Nora is descended from a long line of Walker women who bear magic and are consider daughters of The Wicker Woods. Two weeks ago, a storm blew four feet of snow over Jackjaw Lake and Fir Haven. Two weeks ago a boy went missing and one boy was found dead. The woods are rugged, unkind and should be untrusted but Nora still walks through them because she is drawn to the woods. She always finds lost things in the woods during a full moon. After finding the missing boy from Jackjaw Camp for Wayward Boys in the woods, Nora feels connected to him. Oliver is changed by the woods.

Nora is the girl that lives across the lake. The boys at the camp tell Oliver to beware of the Walkers because the Walkers are witches and they cannot be trusted. Winterwood invokes magic within you. It's the magic of believing yourself and honoring your own power and history. While Nora's mother tries to stamp out the Walker lineage, Nora embraces it.

Shea Ernshaw's writing is gorgeous and atmospheric. She breathes life even into inanimate objects like The Wicker Woods. Winterwood is written in alternating POVs. Readers experience what Nora and Oliver experience. Ernshaw's novel is spellbinding and the descriptions are vivid, suspenseful and mysterious.

There are some instances in the book where there is a lot of repetition such as how Oliver shouldn't trust Nora or how Nora shouldn't go into the woods. At first it was bothersome to read but then again, it could be part of the characters'' own internal monologue and how their thinking patterns look and sound like. 

I enjoyed reading the excerpts from the Spellbook of Moonlight & Forest Medicine. The excerpts included information about the Walker women like Florence and Willa. The Walker women remind of the Owens from Practical Magic. Both the Walkers and Owens are witches and the women who fall in love with men who come and go.

Winterwood is a well-written intriguing novel to read during a crisp autumn night with a mug of tea while curled with a blanket on the couch. Readers who enjoy Practical Magic, The Rules of Magic and Halloween Town will fall in love with Winterwood. It's the perfect October/November read.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

LeakyCon 2019: Day 2 Recap

I attended my first LeakyCon this year. LeakyCon 2019 (aka LeakyCon 10) was hosted at the Seaport Hotel and the World Trade Center from Friday, October 11, 2019 to Sunday, October 13, 2019. The first LeakyCon was held in Boston’s Park Plaza in 2009 and it’s fitting how LeakyCon 10 returns back to Boston for the 10 year anniversary. For those who don’t know what LeakyCon is, LeakyCon is a Harry Potter fandom convention by Mischief Management. It is also one of the annual conventions Mischief Management hosts. Earlier this year, during the summer, LeakyCon 9 ¾ was hosted in Dallas, Texas. Occasionally two LeakyCons will occur in one year. There have been some international locations such as Dublin, Ireland and London, UK.


The commute wasn't too bad in the morning but the rain was coming down and it was so windy. I met up with Jess outside of the World Trade Center to give her the LeakyCon badge. We ended up going to the Marketplace to look at the wonderful and creative Harry Potter masterpieces that were being sold there.

Afterward, we ended up attending the Spotlight: Wizarding World Actors panel with Stanislav Yanevski, Louis Cordice, Chris Rankin, Luke Youngblood and Dan Fogler. For those who don't know, these are the actors that played Viktor Krum, Blaise Zabini, Percy Weasely, Lee Jordan and Jacob Kowalski. It was definitely a well attended panel and it was interesting to hear what the actors have to say about what Harry Potter means to them. We also got to hear about their experience with filming for the movies. I might do a mini recap on some of the main stage events in a later post.

Jess and I went to An Excess of "Phlegm" and the Lack of Femme which was a very insightful panel regarding females within the Harry Potter wizarding world. The discussion was geared toward the personalities of different females with the series and how they are portrayed. Jess and I skipped the next panel slot to get some lunch at Shake Shack. Burgers and shakes always cheer me up. It was nice to get away from the con for a bit to refuel. I definitely noticed more people at the World Trade Center on Saturday compared to Friday. I know Saturdays are usually the busiest days for cons in the general. Not everyone can take off on Friday from work and school.

After lunch, walked around the Marketplace and around the venue before heading to the Potterheads of Color Meetup. Everyone at the meetup split up into pairs for 5-10 minutes to talk about how they got into Harry Potter and what they love about Harry Potter. We regrouped and then sorted ourselves according to our Hogwarts Houses. This was the first time where the Ravenclaws dominated! I have never seen so many Ravenclaws in one area. Also, we had the biggest house group compared to the other houses. Go Claws! At the end of the meetup, we took house photos and a group photo. It was definitely a fun meetup to meet new people.

I made a beeline to the Amphitheater to get a good seat for The Other Chosen One: A New Musical. I didn't take any videos of the musical since it's the first live read through but can I say that it was fabulous! I cannot wait to see a full version of this equipped with costumes, sets and a full cast. For those who don't know, this musical is in the eyes of Neville, aka the other Chosen One. We see what goes on at Hogwarts while the golden trio is hunting Horcruxes. Neville, Ginny and Luna, the silver trio, navigate Hogwarts, stand up to the Carrow siblings, and reunite Dumbledore's Army. It's an emotional tale of friendship, love and standing up for what is right - until the very end. I highly recommend seeing this if the musical moves forward.

Some of the panels I missed on day 2 of LeakyCon include Nowhere Safer than Hogwarts: Magical Security and its Faults, Credence: Human or Beast? and Time Travel in the Wizarding World: The When, the How, the Why, and the When. There was just way too many panels this day to attend to. I definitely needed a time turner.

After LeakyCon, I met up with my husband and a couple of friends to celebrate our friend, Mike's, 30th birthday. Look at this awesome photo I took when walking across the bridge near the Boston Children's Museum. I love the lights and the clouds look ominous. I wonder if a Dark Mark will appear.

Have you been to LeakyCon or a Harry Potter fan convention before? What is your favorite part of attending a con? Do you cosplay?

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

LeakyCon 2019: Day 1 Recap

I attended my first LeakyCon this year. LeakyCon 2019 (aka LeakyCon 10) was hosted at the Seaport Hotel and the World Trade Center from Friday, October 11, 2019 to Sunday, October 13, 2019. The first LeakyCon was held in Boston’s Park Plaza in 2009 and it’s fitting how LeakyCon 10 returns back to Boston for the 10 year anniversary. For those who don’t know what LeakyCon is, LeakyCon is a Harry Potter fandom convention by Mischief Management. It is also one of the annual conventions Mischief Management hosts. Earlier this year, during the summer, LeakyCon 9 ¾ was hosted in Dallas, Texas. Occasionally two LeakyCons will occur in one year. There has been some international locations such as Dublin, Ireland and London, UK.


I was fortunate enough to get two badges for LeakyCon through a transfer for a very good price. I gave one badge to my friend Jess, who attended LeakyCon on Saturday and Sunday. My commute into the city on Friday was a long one due to the morning work commute traffic. The Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center are located in the Seaport area of Boston, which is one of the most expensive parts of Boston. Since I live fairly local, I commuted every day to avoid the high costs for the hotel. Unfortunately, we were hit by a very nasty Nor’easter for a few days and Friday was pretty horrendous to walk around near the Seaport area. It was very windy and it rained off and on.

I left my place pretty early on Friday so I can get in line to pick up my badge. Will call opened at 8:30 am. Because I had a Marauder’s badge, I wanted to take advantage of the 9:00 – 10:00 am Marauder’s badge exclusive hour for the Marketplace (aka vendor/dealer’s room and artist alley). I visited my usual go to’s like The Colorful Geek, Elhoffer DesignJordandené and Fox Estacado Arts. However, I found some great artwork at PRL Creative and Alexandra Brodt Illustration. Kat Cave Studios showcased wonderful Harry Potter themed ceramics. I might have to consider Jayme Twins and Bright Threads Co. for future holiday gifts. Lapels and Spells/Laserbrain Patch Co. are the go to for amazing enamel pins and patches. They are located in NH! Speaking of enamel pins, check out BUNCEandBEAN. Lauren Fairweather is always wonderful to chat with. I love her music and her YouTube channel. Waxspurts Candle Co. had wonderful smelling candles and Pop Soap had delicious smelling soaps and bath and body products. Simona Sew Works displayed most Luna Lovegood items I have ever seen in one area. Tea & Absinthe carried an amazing array of tea and gifts. Unfortunately, Riddle’s Tea Shoppe couldn’t make it due to an unexpected emergency.

The Marketplace was fabulous! I love seeing how creative everyone is. The best part is the most things being sold at the Marketplace are Harry Potter themed. I love supporting independent artists and creators. After the Marketplace, I attended the Spotlight: Stanislav Yanesvski. For those who don’t know, Stanislav is the actor who was Viktor Krum in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This was an excellent panel. Great questions were asked by the moderator and the fans asked good questions as well. Afterwords, I attended Harry Potter in the Age of Activism: Why S.P.E.W. Failed and Dumbledore’s Army Thrived. The PowerPoint provided good information and it was visually pleasing. The two panelists work at Florida State University and handle a lot of student programming in a student development capacity. This was a very insightful panel and I hope to use some of this information I learned with students in the future.

I was already getting tired at LeakyCon so I skipped a panel slot or two so I can walk around and rest. I needed to refuel with food and water. The panel I was most exciting about for the day was Wait and See: Gatekeeping in the Wizarding World and Beyond. I love hearing about social justice issues within the Wizarding World since it hasn't been discussed in much detail until more recent years. Unfortunately, I had to miss the Ravenclaw Meetup during the same time slot, but at cons you really have to just stick with your gut instinct. It’s okay to miss some things and to talk care of yourself. Self-care is super important. Plus, some of the best memories at a con usually happen spontaneously. They are never planned. It’s all about being at the right place at the right time.

I ended the Day 1 of LeakyCon with a fabulous panel called Fantastic Scores and Who Conducts Them. The panelists discussed who their favorite HP soundtrack conductors are and also came up with a list of conductors who would have been a great fit to create music for the Wizarding World. We even got to hear some sound clips which was a nice addition to the panel.

I left the last panel a little early to walk back to the lobby of the Seaport ­Hotel in order to meet up with some friends who were heading to the Committee for Mediterranean tapas and for some drinks. We had about 20 people split between two tables. Although the price for the tapas were kind of high, draft beers were only $6.00 and I was with great company. It’s always nice to reunite with old friends and make new ones, especially within the Harry Potter fandom.

My first day at LeakyCon was pretty chill. It was low key, not stressful and enjoyable for the most part. I didn’t have to stand in lines besides waiting to use the restroom. I have heard horror stories of previous LeakyCons being Line Cons so I was happy to see that it was the complete opposite. I am not sure if it’s because the Boston location is smaller in number compared to the one in Dallas, but I am not complaining. It’s the perfect amount of people at that venue. Check out later this week for my LeakyCon 2019: Day 2 Recap.

Have you been to LeakyCon or a Harry Potter fan convention before? What is your favorite part of attending a con? Do you cosplay?

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Grace Tour with Kim Liggett Recap

I had the pleasure to attend the Boston stop for The Grace Tour at the Brookline Booksmith on Tuesday, October 8th, aka pub date for The Grace Year. I was so excited to see Kim Liggett along with moderator/author Sasha Alsberg and authors Holly Black, Rory Power and Libba Bray. I have been a huge fan of Kim Liggett’s books since I was fortunate enough to get an ARC of Blood and Salt at BEA 2015. Since then, Kim has published five books!

I met up with my friend Rachel for some ramen before heading over to Brookline Booksmith. I wanted to make sure I got a good seat so Rachel and I went to the bookstore fairly early. We browsed the store a bit and met a few YA book lovers. Rachel couldn’t stay for the event but I was so happy that I was able to see her for a little bit that night.

The panel itself was pretty hilarious. Sasha started off with an icebreaker. She asked everyone what is the most outlandish plot they wrote. She mentioned that she had a story where Justin Bieber and Criminal Minds merged together called FBI Girlfriend, Pop-Star Boyfriend.  Holly mentioned that she wrote Nights of the Silver Sun in which she mentioned she probably meant Moon. She wrote the story in 8th grade about the Interview with the Vampire mashed up with another book/show. Rory wrote a persuasive piece when she was 14-years-old about how a girl who convinced her parents to lease a horse for $20.00. Libba mentioned "all my crazy ideas have been published." She also talked about a vampire movie musical. Kim exclaimed she didn't start writing until she was 40 or so. She also said that there are no books in her drawers but at one point she had an idea for a necrophilia romance which was shot down.

Sasha talked about how The Grace Year is hauntingly beautiful yet she asks Kim, how do you scare your readers without showing it. Kim mentioned, "I don't think it's more horrifying compared to what we see everyday" when she talks about The Grace Year. With sexual assault, the Me Too Movement and how people are treated everyday, the apple is not far from the tree. Kim talks about how even thought she writes horror, she is afraid of everything.

Sasha discussed he mean girl trope and about what invokes girl on girl hatred. She mentioned about how there is a competition and how it can provide a story line and character development. She asked all the authors how do you tackle the mean girl trope and what do you think about it. Kim talked about how it is so easy to do. Girls should have offered a more helping hand. They shouldn’t bully. Kim mentioned about how this “book changed me. I changed how I view women. I grew up with Tierney.” Rory talked about how she “loves mean girls.” Her book has 40 mean girls stuck on an island. She talked about how “everyone sucks” and talks about feminism. Holly mentioned how we shouldn’t allow girls to be mean in fiction. Girls should have a complete set of emotions and not just being mean. Libba discussed about thinking about the internal misogyny and found families. There are so many ways to express feelings and sometimes people are not allowed access of rage. We need to practice being in the ring and to forge friendships. It’s about sparring and giving edges. Sasha talked about how girls should be empowering and there should be a mutual respect among people.

Sasha asked, "If your character lives until 80-years-old, what would they tell their grandchildren?" Rory thinks fondly about how her main character broke a nose over an orange. Holly mentioned how Aurora tells her children how Prince Philip ate a mouse heart. Kim exclaimed how Tierney tells how the grace year ended. Libba said two camp.

In terms of mythology, Sasha asked Holly how she crafted her fairytale world and what she did for research. Holly talks about Brian Froud and Alan Lee’s book called Faeries and the movie Labyrinth. These frightening and folkloric creatures of nature intrigued her. She did a lot of research on England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. I love Brian Froud's work on faeries in general. I highly checking out his works and Amy Brown's.

Hearing from the authors about if they plan the twists and turns before the ending was fascinating. Libba talked about how she doesn't plan at all. She explores the human condition. Libba also mentioned about the project when she says "Help me, Baby Jesus." And the response is "Jesus can't help you." She goes where the series goes and where it takes her. In terms of being a plotter or a panster, Libba mentions how she puts the characters through so much and they go through so much growth. Of course she is panster.

Kim exclaimed that things get worse before they get better. She knew all of her story at once after getting inspired to write The Grace Year. This has never happened before with other novels. She was at Penn Station and noticed a family in front of her. There was a girl who was 13 to 14-years-old. There was a man passing by. He stared at the girl and looked up and down. A woman passed by and she looked at the girl but with a look of sadness. The girl was going back to boarding school. The parents were relieved since the girl was tucked away for a year, keeping her safe. It’s a brutal system. It’s a gut punch. The beginning and ending was written during the trip to DC. “I had to write the book,” Kim said. It was a profound and weird experience but she knew she had to have this story be told.

Sasha asked the panelists about how they feel about backlash when they kill off a character or if they put the character through a tough feat. Sasha talked about how she appreciates the invoking of emotions. Holly feels like a message is being sent in a bottle. She disconnects with sending emotional and angry feelings and how someone receives it.

The authors discussed about what was one thing they wish they knew before they published books. Rory said that she was lazy and said yes a lot to things. She didn’t know what she was getting into. She learned how the brain thinks and how to control her impulse. Sasha exclaimed that she wished she took a public speaking course and she learned that editors don’t edit the whole book for you.

Sasha talked about creativity and asked the authors about “what is something that refilled the creative well beyond your writing?” Sasha mentioned about how she likes to paint. Kim used to be a backup singer in the 80’s. She had Aqua Net hair and she started being a backup singer when she was 16-years-old. Kim fell in love with stories this way. She mentioned about how deep hurts come from young adulthood. It’s the heard of the matter. Everything else are symptoms. Right now, Kim doesn’t sing anymore. She had massive stage fright. She stepped in front to do a showcase and she froze. Normally, she doesn’t see everyone since she is not in the spotlight. Kim exclaimed how living your own life refills the well. She had a lot of life experience and she talking about enjoying yourself. Libba is a frontwoman of a band. She writes and records music. Occasionally she will have some performances. Rory watches TV such as Criminal on Netflix. Holly loves gothic interior decorating.

Sasha had several rounds of lighting speed questions and answers.

1. What is your favorite toothpaste?
Some answers included Sensodyne, Biotene and Tom’s.

2. What is your favorite writing instrument?
Libba: Pen and paper
Kim: Rollerball
Rory: Laptop
Holly: Laptop

3. What is your least favorite word? You cannot use moist.
Libba: Trump!
Kim: Winger
Rory: Fester
Holly: Carbunkle

4. What is your favorite baking dishes?
Libba: Seamless
Kim: Brisk chicken
Rory: Microwave
Holly: Pumpkin bread
Sasha: I can't bake cookies at al.

5. What is your favorite fall snack.
Libba: Pumpkin spice..."souls of my enemies"
Kim: Apples
Rory: Cheez-its
Holly: Coffee

6. Coffee or wine?
Libba: Coffee!
Kim: Coffee!
Rory: Yes!
Holly: Ditto

7. What is your favorite city?
Sasha: London
Libba: Providence...and all 14 that live there.
Kim: Rome
Rory: Edinburgh
Holly: London and Edinburgh

8. What is your least favorite clothing?
Sasha: Socks
Libba: Bra
Kim: Bra
Rory: Tights
Holly: Bra

Sasha asked the authors what they are reading currently or what they just finished reading. Libba mentioned Wilder Girls, Three Women and Middlegame. Holly said Wayward's Son. Sasha then ends her series of questions with, "What is next for you?" Sasha talked about an urban folklore fantasy. Libba said a vampire music musical but she really is working on the last book of the Diviners series, King of Crows. Kim is currently working on two novels. One is adult and one is YA. Both has to do about what ring women together. Rory is working on a new standalone that is coming out in 2020. She describes it as corn of horror and field of nightmares. Holly is finishing up the highly anticipated Queen of Nothing.

Sasha opened up questions to the audience. One reader/teacher mentioned how they are introducing social justice themes into their curriculum for their students. They asked the authors what is one thing you wanted to hear as a 16-year-old? What did you want to know? The authors talked about rules and permission. They are not trying to play by the rules to win because rules aren't set up for us to win. We need to dismantle the system. You don't have to ask for permission to do this.

Someone asked Rory about the integration of girls discovering queerness and the exploration and how that is natural. Rory responds with how it's an important element. It's not just one particular experience. She poses the question, "Do I want to be her or be with her?" Another person wanted to hear Rory talk more about the antagonists vs. protagonists. Rory mentioned, "Everyone is a protagonist in your own story." She loves terrible girls. Rory talks about how the darker parts of a story is acknowledging parts of themselves.

The panel ended with a signing and I was so excited to see Kim again. I saw Kim a couple time back in 2015 at BEA and the Boston Teen Author Festival when Blood and Salt was published. I haven't seen her since and I was ecstatic when she told me she will be around the Boston area in October. Of course, I made sure to block it out on my calendar. It was so great to be able to catch up for a few minutes with Kim and to congratulate her on her 5th published novel! I have been a fan since Blood and Salt, which is her debut novel. Definitely check out all of Kim's novels which include Blood & Salt, The Last Harvest, Heart of Ash, The Unfortunates and The Grace Year.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Salem Literary Festival Recap

I had the opportunity to attend the Salem Literary Festival in Salem, MA on Sunday, September 22nd for the YA Day. The festival ran all weekend with programming for children, teens and adults. Hotel Salem, Salem Public Library and The House of Seven Gables were venues for the panels and events. YA Day was hosted in The House of Seven Gables, which is a fantastic location. Not only was the festival well organized but the weather was perfect. Because Boston Teen Author Festival take a break this year, the YA Day was a fantastic replacement for this year.  YA Day took place in The House of the Seven Gables for all of Sunday.

I managed to attend four panels on Sunday with time for lunch. It was a fun filled day in Salem before all the crowds starts pouring in for the month of October. I am very fortunate to live a town away from Salem so commuting back and forth was pretty easy.

The first panel I attended was Meet the Debuts with Laura Sibson, Janella Angeles, Ryan La Sala, Joe Moldover and Rebecca Kim Wells. Lauren Cepero moderated and Alexandra Villasante couldn’t make it to the panel due to car issues. Not only do I love hearing panels about books in general but hearing about debut books is encouraging because there are always new authors sharing their stories with us. Ranging from various genres, there is a book from this panel for everyone.

I didn’t attend the second panel because I wanted to get some lunch and to have enough energy for the rest of the day. I took some photos around Pickering Wharf and met up with Ellie and her friend to grab some pizza at Flying Saucer. Afterwards, we headed back to The House of Seven Gables for the Something Wicked: Witches & Historically Inspired YA panel. Originally, Adriana Mather was going to moderate the panel but because Rebecca Podos and David Elliot were both out sick, there was a modification to the lineup. Instead of just having Adriana have a one-on-one conversation with Kendall Kulper, Mackenzi Lee moderated the panel. Adriana and Kendall talked a lot about their witchy books. I was particularly interested when all three authors discussed how they researched their books and what inspired them to write their books.

I had a mini break between panels which was nice because I got to enjoy the outdoors. The House of the Seven Gables has a beautiful courtyard area and being the near the water was calming. Ellie, Janella, Ashley and I chatted for a bit in the courtyard. Janella was getting ready for the next panel while Ellie, Ashley and I walked around near the water and laid down on the grass.

After the mini break, we attended the Dragons, Dreams, and a Drag Queen Sorceress: YA Fantasy panel with Janella Angeles, Rebecca Kim Wells, Erin Cashman and Ryan La Sala. Matthew Phillion moderated the panel. The last panel but not the least was the Chemistry, Mischief, Escape and Assassins in YA with Meredith Goldstein, Erin Callahan, Adriana Mather and Mackenzi Lee. Ashley Hern moderated the panel.

All the panels were fabulous on this YA Day. Although the event was small, it was a good size to  capture enought buzz and interest. I always enjoy seeing teens get all excited to meet their favorite authors, to get books signed and to take photographs with people they admire.

After all the panels, there was an all author signing to conclude the day. I was so happy to meet with with Adriana Mather. I haven’t seen her since her launch party for Haunting the Deep a couple years back. So it was nice to catch up and she always has the best events in Salem. I am hoping all of her future events will have a stop in Salem. Maybe I am being biased because I love Adriana Mather's books, Salem and because I am fortunate enough to live near Salem.

Ryan and Janella were able to talk about their debut books which are being published very soon. Attendees were able to pick up ARCs of Reverie by Ryan La Sala and Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles at the signing portion of the day. Ryan and I were talking about Sailor Moon and anime. He even drew a little Sailor Moon when he signed my ARC of Reverie. Janella is fantastic and this is her first every signing event as an author! She has always been on the other side of the table reading books and meeting authors but the Salem Literary Festival is definitely a milestone event for her! All and all, the event was a wonderful start to the fall!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Where To Find Me At LeakyCon 10

This weekend is LeakyCon 10 and it’s my first time attending a LeakyCon. The first LeakyCon was hosted in Boston 10 years ago and LeakyCon is returning back to Boston to celebrate its 10th anniversary. LeakyCon is the most well knowns and largest Harry Potter convention around. I have been other Harry Potter conventions before like MISTI-Con, Leviosa and Ascendio but never a LeakyCon. This year, LeakyCon is taking place at the Seaport Hotel and the World Trade Center from Friday, Ocotber 11th to Sunday, October 13th. There was another LeakyCon 9 ¾  took place Dallas, TX during the summer of this year. LeakyCon will be taking place in Orlando, FL in 2020.

I was not able to attend the first LeakyCon due to attending Anime Boston which happened during the same weekend as the first LeakyCon. Although I heard mixed things about LeakyCon, Boston is super close to where I live and I figured I would give the con a chance. I will be doing a recap of my experience sometime later this month.

I have a handful of friends who live in the Boston area or so who will be attending the con. I am planning to meet up with my friend Jess for part of the con. She can only attend Saturday and Sunday but I am ecstatic she is able to attend. A few friends are flying/driving up to Boston. However, I am excited to meet new people while reuniting with old friends.

There are a lot of programming I am looking forward to but I pretty pumped to see what the LeakyCon Marketplace has to offer. There are so many fantastic vendors attending such as Elhoffer Design, BUNCEandBEAN, Jordandené, Fox Estacado Arts, Lauren Fairweather, The Color Geek and Waxspurts Candle Co. to name a few. Unfortunately, Riddle’s Tea Shoppe will not be able to attend this year.



Registration opens at 8:30 am tomorrow, Friday, October 11th. I am hoping to travel to Boston a bit earlier to get some food before picking up my badge at will call. I normally travel into Boston during the weekdays for work, so it’s not a huge deal for me to travel into Boston. My commute ranges from 1-2 hours, depending on traffic.

Since I was fortunate to get a Marauder’s Pass through a transfer for a very good price, I am planning to take advantage of the early opening to the Marketplace which opens at 9:00 am for Marauder pass holders. Normally the Marketplace opens at 10:00 am for general admission.

Afterwards, I wanted to check out some of the following programming events: Spotlight: Stanislav Yanevski, Science in Harry Potter, Harry Potter in the Age of Activism: Why S.P.E.W. Failed and Dumbledore’s Army Thrived, Wait and See: Gatekeeping in the Wizarding World and Beyond and Fantastic Scores and Who Conducts Them. Unfortunately, there a bunch of panels going on the same time so I have to miss out on some since there are so many amazing panels competing against each other. I want to attend the Ravenclaw Meetup but it’s during the same time as Wait and See: Gatekeeping in the Wizarding World and Beyond. Wait and See is a panel that is a must for me!

I am planning to meet up with a group of friends who attended MISTI-Con for dinner to end the day. 


I am torn about whether to start my day with Spotlight: Wizarding World Actors or J.K. Rowling, Giftedness, and the Ghost of Ravenclaw. I really wish these two weren’t at the same time slot because both sound fabulous! Lorrie Kim always has some of the best panel presentations. An Excess of "Phlegm" and the Lack of Femme and Wandlore: An Ancient and Mysterious Magic are both during the second time slot. During mid-day, Time Travel in the Wizarding World: The When, the How, the Why, and the When will take place and at the end of the day I definitely want to attend the Potterheads of Color Meetup.


This day is chock full of so many fantastic programming events that it will be hard to decide what to do. I need a time turner for this day! I will be starting my day with Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Harry Potter Cosplay. Two other panels are running during the same time as the cosplay panel. I am also interested in Managing The Hogwarts Houses and Ethnic Communities in the Wizarding World. I am super stoked about the MuggleCast Live! event. I have been a MuggleCast podcast listener ever since they launched in 2005ish. You Cannot Deny, the Wizarding World's Got Style is also running during the same time slot as the MuggleCast Live!

The Potter Puppet Pals Performance is going to be hilarious. I always love a good Potter Puppet Pals show. Potter Puppet Pals usually perform at the Yule Ball at the Mideast in Cambridge, MA in December. I also saw them at ConnectiCon years back. Neil and co are such a great team orchestrating some of the best Harry Potter comic relief.

I must attend the  Spotlight: Dan Fogler event. I am a huge Fantastic Beasts fan and I cannot wait to hear more about Dan and his role as Jacob Kowalski. Speaking of Dan Folger, I am planning to do a photo op with him on Sunday. I will end my day with Obscurus and Patronus: Expressions of the Soul in the Wizarding World and Credence: Human or Beast?

Will you be attending LeakyCon 10? If so, please let me know and maybe we can meet up! 

Friday, October 4, 2019

Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao

Title: Our Wayward Fate
Author: Gloria Chao
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: October 15, 2019
Pages: 320
Source/format: e-ARC//Publisher and ARC from Emma of Miss Print
Synopsis (from

Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu knows that as the only Asian person at her school in middle-of-nowhere Indiana, she must be bland as white toast to survive. This means swapping her congee lunch for PB&Js, ignoring the clueless racism from her classmates and teachers, and keeping her mouth shut when people wrongly call her Allie instead of her actual name, pronounced Āh-lěe, after the mountain in Taiwan.

Her autopilot existence is disrupted when she finds out that Chase Yu, the new kid in school, is also Taiwanese. Despite some initial resistance due to the "they belong together" whispers, Ali and Chase soon spark a chemistry rooted in competitive martial arts, joking in two languages, and, most importantly, pushing back against the discrimination they face.

But when Ali’s mom finds out about the relationship, she forces Ali to end it. As Ali covertly digs into the why behind her mother’s disapproval, she uncovers secrets about her family and Chase that force her to question everything she thought she knew about life, love, and her unknowable future.

Snippets of a love story from nineteenth-century China (a retelling of the Chinese folktale The Butterfly Lovers) are interspersed with Ali’s narrative and intertwined with her fate.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Ali Chu is the only Asian person in her middle-of-nowhere Indiana high school until Chase Yu arrives being the new kid. Ali gravitates toward Chase because she finds out he is also Chinese American and Taiwanese. They bond over similar traditions, food, culture and language. It's her way of connecting with her true identity. No longer will she have to wear a façade pretending to be someone she is not. She is not Allie, but Ali like the mountain in Taiwan. She doesn't have to pretend she likes eating those horrible PB&J sandwiches just to fit in.

Although Ali and Chase become more than friends after awhile her parents don't want Ali and Chase to be together even though they are both Chinese. Both families hide secrets from their children regarding their history or their plans for their children. The families are saving face. They want better for their children. Ali discovers what her mother has been hiding from her when she journeys to China. Her mother wants to carve a better path for Ali because Ali's mother did not find happiness for most of her life. Ali's mother lives in regret and doesn't want Ali to live a life of regrets as well.

Ali and Chase make a cute couple. Both are sarcastic in their own way and they get each other. With their Chu and Yu puns, it keeps me laughing throughout the whole novel.
Gloria Chao writes books about her history and origin but she also writes for her readers who can relate to what she goes through. With American Panda, she writes about family expectations with a prestigious college and going into medicine when in fact Chinese folk dance is her passion. In Our Wayward Fate is touches upon how Kung Fu is something she wants to pursue. She fights the patriarchy with her main characters. Ali fights sexism. She does things that men can do. Chao delves more into cultural identity in Our Wayward Fate compared to American Panda.

Chao weaves the Chinese folktale of the Butterfly Lovers, Zhu Yingtai and Liang Shanbo, within Our Wayward Fate to connect Ali to China. The park dedicated to the lovers is the only reason why Ali agreed to go to China and to appease her parents, especially her mother. At first, the excerpts of the Butterfly Lovers halted the flow of the book but it made sense later why the excerpts were inserted within random chapters.

Our Wayward Fate is one of the most relatable books for me. Even though my family is not Mandarin speaking, I can picture myself being in Ali's shoes being an Asian American in a sea of White people. I can understand how she feels when microaggressions are thrown at her. The writing resonated with me. I grew up in Boston, just like Ali did before she moved to Indiana. However, I ended up attending public school from 4th grade to 12th grade in a very affluent and very White suburban town west of Boston.

Chao navigates how Ali approaches her cultural, racial and family identities. Who is Ali? How did she learn to appreciate her Chinese heritage and to become the real Ali. What made her shed her feeling of impostorism and trying to fit in with her peers. Instead of blending in with everyone else at her school, she steps up and owns her heritage. A turning point is when Ali tells her friends that her name is Ali and not Allie. She becomes empowered to embrace who she truly is.

Our Wayward Fate has a feminist approach while exploring racial and cultural identity. Our Wayward Fate is a coming-of-age novel that is important and needed in our society. Check out this fantastic #OwnVoices novel.