Photo of the Week

All signs point to Hogwarts.

15 Harry Potter School Supplies to Accio Brilliant Grades

School is just around the corner! If we learn anything from the Harry Potter series, it's essential for us to sort out our priorities for the upcoming term. Accio brilliant grades with these school supplies that'll add a little magic to your studying. Enjoy!


GeekyCon Day 3: The Last of the Panel Madness

Teenage Fandoms panel with Leigh Bardugo, Sabaa Tahir, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Veronica Roth, Katie Rain Hill, Jason Reynolds
Early Saturday morning, on what was the last day of panel madness, moderator and author Leigh Bardugo rounded up fellow writers for a glimpse into their own fandom obsessions. What books or media made these authors tick when they were younger? The revelations were surprising.

A common love for Harry Potter has brought millions of readers together but author Sabaa Tahir is one such admirer who wrote at length for the Washington Post about the pride of being a potterhead. Katie Rain Hill confessed a major love for another childhood favorite Rainbow Fish. Veronica Roth spoke about her love for the Animorphs series, citing the name for Tobias came from there.

Stepping outside of literature, Jason Reynolds revealed it was not necessarily a book that changed his life but a character: Uncle Jessie from Full House. This was the most surprising, and albeit entertaining at all, as he discussed at length how much actor Jon Stamos cool exterior on the show was similar to Reynold's father. People have a unique way of transforming us as teenagers just as books do. Similarly Leigh Bardugo's major escape growing up was the timeless music of Steve Nicks - an idol she had the pleasure and dream come true of meeting.

Perhaps none could beat, however, the dedication of Cynthia Leitich Smith whose love of the original Star Wars trilogy led her to see the films nearly 500 times during its original theatrical release. Granted she noted it was playing in a small Kansas town at a $1 theater, but still the iconic princess warrior Leia brought her to theaters again and again. Everyone nerds out over something. No one at GeekyCon is without their personal and passionate interests which have made them who they are today.

Real Feels panel; Stephanie Perks, Courtney Summers, Sabaa Tahir, Adam Silvera, Katie Rain Hill
Moderated by author Stephanie Perkins of Anna and the French Kiss, she and fellow authors Katie Rain Hill, Adam Silvera, Courtney Summers, and Sabaa Tahir delved into how to handle our emotions and struggles through a creative outlet. The struggled artist is a myth which often pervades the idea that we have to harm ourselves or allow the world to take advantage of us in order to create something meaningful. This 'legend' harms the potential tools we have to help ourselves through any crises. Writing and reading has the ability to heal and deal our scars no matter what form they may take by allowing us to express what most pains us. Finding characters or stories relative to our situation makes us feel less alone. If we create, we can not only release some of the struggles we face but also help pave the way for others.

Yes All Witches panel led by Steph Anderson
Speaking of paving your own path, Steph Anderson inspired con goers with just that pursuit in her Yes All Witches panel.  Imaginative, concise, and enlightening, the young Baccalaureate used pioneers such as J.K. Rowling, Walt Disney, and Oprah Wnfrey to define that every person starts out with an idea they can make a reality.

 In 2011, when the final Harry Potter film had been released, Anderson was struck with the idea to start a wizard wrock band. But, she faced several obstacles - would fans still be interested in a Potter band? would fans accept a female rock band after being told that all-male bands are what sells? how would she start something that there was no model for?

Upon sharing her story of navigating through obstacles such as sexist industry bosses and standards to make her now-hugely popular Tonks and the Aurors a reality, Anderson prompted all witches to ponder and pursue their own passions - they can do so through finding their own pioneers and learning from them, speaking up for themselves when others try to deny or downgrade their goals, and believing that Yes All Witches are capable of going after their dreams - no matter how big or small.

Back into the Pensieve panel: Hannah Panek, Olivia Dolphin, and Brad Ausrotas
"Dipping our faces" Back into the Pensieve, we returned to 2006 before the last Harry Potter book was officially released into bookstores. Hannah Panek, Olivia Dolphin, and Brad Ausrotas entertained and enlightened us another round of conspiracies fans thought be might be revealed in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Some theories were consider all-time faves such as Ron as a time-traveling Dumbledore, which drew on the correlations between Weasley and Dumbledores' scar above the right knee, hates being marooned, and that he left himself the Deluminator. Dumbledore Is Not Dead. Com was another crowd-pleaser since the website harbored on our denial and detailed every piece of evidence for why our headmaster would and should still be alive.

One of the least favored fan theories was that Harry was a Horcrux all along. His uprbringing with the Dursleys would be explained for why they were always so nasty towards him since the Horcruxes have a negative effect on its wearers / users. This one was negated by the fact that because Potter was a Horcrux, the horrific abuse by the Dursleys could be blamed for his own abuse.

Among the more heartbreaking connections made was that perhaps Filch's cat Mrs. Norris is actually his wife - a witch whose animagus transformation went horribly wrong. Filch, a squib, stays at Hogwarts in the hopes of learning magic to bring her back.

*mic drop* Soul breaks into a thousand pieces.

Leigh Bardugo, Jenny Han, Marie Lu, Tahereh Mafi, Megan Morrison, Stephanie Perkins, Jason Reynolds, Ransom Riggs, Adam Silvera, Sabaa Tahir
This has been one literature filled day, and the fun went on and on into the Author Family Feud. Bringing the hit television show to life with a special round-up of the convention's guests, Maureen Johnson moderated a game of Author Feud.

Breaking up into two groups, the Han family and the Bardugo family, the participants were surveyed with categories such as "Best Place to Hide a Dead Body in Disneyworld", "Things To Do When Trapped in an Airport", "Things that are Forbidden in Dystopia", "Signs You Are About To Die In Any Story", "Something You Bring Home from a Con", "Something You Find on A Writer's Computer". The points tallied back and forth with ultimately the Bardugo family bringing on the winning numbers as well as the laughs. This was one of the funniest panels I've been to at a convention. There really was nothing like this family feud.

I Was A Teenage Writer panel: Leigh Bardugo, Holly Black, Jenny Hann, Marie Lu, Megan Morrison, Jason Reynolds, Ransom Riggs, Veronica Roth, Adam Silvera, Sabaa Tahir
Similar to the first panel of the day, and sadly the final panel of the weekend for me, a full line-up of authors invited us to revisit the work of their childhoods and teenage years. Each author took a turn reading stories or poems from their earlier years as an aspiring writer. All the authors shared some really golden nuggets from their youth; such as Megan Morrison's poem about genetics and DNA from fourth grade, Adam Silvera's Cedric Diggory and Harry Potter slash fanfiction, Marie Lu's brief story of a robot named Rosedust, Veronica Roth's poems inspired by a little Britney Spears song Lucky. Holly Black absolutely stole the show with a tale that was so hilarious, we were all shedding tears from laughter. Every writer has to start somewhere, and nearly it's always an innocent, cringe-worthy and hilarious romp through our imaginations.  This has become a memorable panel for many of the con-goers, and I was happy that my first attendance to this panel did not disappoint. 

Win a Harry Potter Box Set by The Book People

J.K Rowling’s novels are newly available at and to celebrate they are giving away a special illustrated collection of the books, designed by award winning artist Jonny Duddle.

The special edition collectibles will make a spell-binding addition to any muggle’s book shelf – but they want it to go to a real Potter lover!

So, while it’s not a patch on the Triwizard Tournament, to enter the competition:

you need to post a picture (or a link to a picture) of yourself dressed as your favourite witch or wizard and – to prove your magical credentials – caption it with a spell.

Share your entry in the comments section below this post and The Book People will announce the winner at the end of August. Good-luck!

GeekyCon Day 2: The Panels Begin

Day Two contains a surprising amount of panels. During schedule before the event, I had been wishing for a Time-Turner so I could enjoy more of the awesome panels that were available. Unfortunately, that wish never came true and I still wish it did - but the panels I attended were entertaining and informative in their own right. Five panels in one day isn't such a bad feat after all. Here's my second recap at GeekyCon 2015.

This was my first time attending Dumbledore's Army. A workshop organized by the Harry Potter Alliance, attendees were divided into groups - Disney, Game of Thrones, X-Files, Doctor Who, and Avengers - and asked to create a possible campaign based on their fandom dealing with economic issues. Choosing the Disney group, and after we introduced ourselves, we immediately went to task over Disney princesses and the faces reflected in their films.

Princess Tiana from The Princess and the Frog immediately spoke to all of us and we brainstormed a campaign of Tiana's Place: Hopping towards Equality. Our aim was to raise awareness to the economic gap between not only races but gender as the cupcakes were sold at specific price points for men and women of different races. At the end of our discussion one person from each group shared their idea with the rest of the attendees. The passion and originality of everyone was very inspiring in taking fandom and using it towards activism.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be hitting the big screen next year. It was a perfect time by panelists Olivia Dolphin and Hannah Panek to get the ball rolling on discussing Fantastic Beasts and What You Need To Know. Sitting among the anxious fans waiting for any fresh news on the Harry Potter Spin-off gave awesome inspiration for how the next series of films will play out.

Among the facts highlighted and what we know about the series is that a wizarding school will be named in the United States, if there will be a villain in the film, and what the style of the film will be like. Many speculated that the series may be a journey of Newt's discoveries with magical creatures and perhaps an adventure type of film similar to Indiana Jones. Attending the panel was an imaginative outlet of where the new trilogy may tread outside out of the wizarding world as we currently know it.

Who says the internet isn't a jumping off point for a great career in fandom? No one, ever. GeekyCon began an initiative this year of tutoring attendees who want to take their passion for fandom and begin a legitimate career. In the Phenomonal Social Powers: Itty Bitty Content Space, the panelists shared ideas on using your passion to make your mark online.

Moderated by Jackson Bird, the panelists from Amanda Brennan from tumblr, Peter Hollens from YouTube, Thomas Sanders from Vine discussed the power of embracing your talents to create a brand. Each offered different ways to up your presence on social media; such as Amanda directed us to tag our posts on tumblr (it is more than five tags that will get you into the search engines). Engaging us with their knowledge and enthusiasm, their encouragement followed a simple but powerful advice that you fail automatically if you don't begin at all. Other suggestions that help to get started included fostering a community in your niche as well as posting what you love to make because you enjoy making it.

One of the refreshing aspects of GeekyCon is the safe environment for its attendees. No panel may have exceeded the welcoming energy as The Third Annual Body Image and a Way-Too-Conscious Culture Panel. Held by Tessa Netting, Jackie Emerson and Meghan Tonjes shared their personal experiences of body image, weight, and expectations. An emerging discovery was gradually dawned on us that we may all look different, yet we all share experiences of trying to live up to someones' ideal of what we should be; taking those expectations out on ourselves and our bodies. 

Offering support to the con goers who confessed their own conflicts, the trio of empathetic and tenacious women proposed tools for how we may start loving ourselves more strongly and to continue feeling confident in ourselves no matter what: 

- be aware of your own strength and using it
- know that people's negative views are reflections of themselves
- reclaim the words people have used as insults against you
- use positive affirmations towards your body and beauty
- take days for yourself - it's okay to have bad days
- remember that happy people do not tear each other down

You know you're in the midst of a major fanbase if you hail the glowcloud or imagine your local radio DJ's voice morphing into that of Cecil's creepy-calm tone. To cap off the day at GeekyCon, I'm of course talking about attending a panel centered around Night Vale, a podcast about a town where every conspiracy theory has come true. Moderated by the the ever hilarious Maureen Johnson probed the creators Cecil Baldwin and Jeffrey Cranor with actor Dylan Marron.

A collective passion for theatre garnered inspiration from radio plays. What started out small with very few listeners gained huge waves and followers after surpassing notable podcasts like The Nerdist and Mark Maron on Itunes. Baldwin and Cranor's process is admittedly simple; depending on everyone's schedules, the scripts will be written, narrated and published online within a timely manner. However, the accomplishment of the series from concept to fruition has become the success of an underground phenomenon gaining a bigger footing on tumblr every day; even the podcast series getting its own treatment into a novel ready to hit shelves this fall.

The Avenger's Book Tag

banner was made Kayly at My Open Sketchbook
I'm so excited to be partaking in this ultra-rad book tag. Natalie Patalie tagged me at her blog to participate in a challenge: sort books into Avengers' characters. Challenge accepted! Please forgive me that I did not make the answers solely Harry Potter based but it is included on the list! I hope you enjoy and I tag anyone who would like to continue on in this awesome idea.

Iron Man - a book that made you laugh out loud: 
Should You Be Laughing at This? Probably not, and what a way to start off a book tag. This was a book I picked up last year while participating in the Harry Potter Alliance Apparating Library at LeakyCon. It's filled with stick figure comics and drawings that are extremely inappropriate, hence the image below (which does not make me laugh). But of the doodles are completely offensive and some are kinda f-u-n-n-y.

Captain America - a book that sends a positive message:
A total contrast from my first pick, right? Harry Potter had to be included on here somewhere. Though it could easily fit below in Thor's prompt, one of the strongest influences from the series are the lessons I remember taught and learned from the characters.

Thor - a book with a characters strength you admire:  I'm not sure if Cath's passion for writing and fandom is considered a strength, but her struggle to accept individuality is certainly relatable. When college isn't what she expects or predicts, she finds ways to make it through opening up to others and continuing on her path. For me, her enthusiastic fangirling and finding a place of community in the Simon Snow series makes her "strong".

Black Widow - a book with a kick-ass female protagonist: Not everyone agrees with how this trilogy ended. Though my stance remains firmly in the middle of ambivalence to Veronica Roth's series, I absolutely love Tris.

Hulk-  a book that made you incredibly angry:
Coming off of the reading high that was Catching Fire (the second book in Suzanne Collins' trilogy), Mockingjay was a disappointment. The culmination of Katniss' fight against the Capitol was wrought with boredom. It was such a rushed, unsatisfying ending. Boo.

Hawkeye - an underrated book you think more people should pay attention to: Fairytales have always been retold throughout history. Most recently the genre is undergoing a major overhaul through Young Adult. If you enjoy a series that makes you feel like the author knows everything about the worldbuilding, complex characters, and unique worlds, The Lunar Chronicles is so much fun.

{BONUS} Loki - a book with a twist or surprise that tricked you: As always by Nicholas Sparks, The Choice is about a main character who has to make a life-altering decision involving the life of his life that will alter love, hope, and romance forever. *dramatic music* His premises are always similar but I did not see the twist coming for why the main character is put into a really compromising position.

Where Are They Now: Katie Leung

Today, August 8th marks the birthday of Katie Leung. In continuation with how Where Are They Now? series, we thought we'd take a moment to celebrate the talented actress' birthday and highlight her post-Potter career.

She first appeared on-screen in the fourth film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Leung waited four hours for a five-minute audition, and after answering query if there were any actresses from Scotland, she was invited back for a workshop. Later, she was given the role beating out 3,000 other aspiring actresses.

Her character Cho Chang is a fellow Hogwarts student hailing from the house of Ravenclaw. She becomes an object of affection for the Triwizard Champions Harry Potter and Cedric Diggory in the fourth film. Chang follows her heart's desire and begins to date Diggory.

Though in the book series Chang's development is respectable for a minor role, her on-screen appearances dwindled after the fifth film Order of the Phoenix. Her graceful and kind performance in the films is surely missed. Leung's appearances doesn't return for on-screen credit again until Deathly Hallows Part 2 when Chang joins her peers to stay at Hogwarts battling Voldemort's army.

Since the film franchise ended in 2011, and the actors have ventured forward in their own careers, it's fun to ask where is Katie Leung now?

Almost a year after the tale of Potter's quest, the Scottish native debuted in her first stage play Wild Swans, an autobiographical account of the playwright's family history spanning three generations of Chinese women.

Her career has garnered roles, especially in the television medium such as Father Brown (2014) and One Child (2014). She continues to flex her acting chops on the stage as well performing The World of Extreme Happiness (2013) and The Merchant of Venice (2014). Her work last year earned Leung a prestigious honor winning the BAFTA Breakthrough Brit honour. The title is given in celebration of future U.K. stars in film, television, and video games.

Earlier this year, she joined former co-star Tom Felton to unveil the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction at the Universal Studios theme park in Osaka, Japan. Leung continues to pursue her passion in photography and painting donating her work to auction for The Prince's Trust, as well as attending the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

GeekyCon Day 1: Opening Ceremonies and Epic Sing-A-Long

GeekyCon took flight like a golden snitch the night before with an special event at Universal Studios Orlando. I had the special privilege of attending with my sister where Harry Potter fanatics enjoyed the wizarding themed lands.

Gathering with fellow con goers on day one was an extra-special, hinting at an awesome weekend laid ahead. Fans for all things united for discussion and sing-alongs in meet-ups all day long. Opening ceremonies commenced with a musical performance and parody by the special guests in attendence. And, of course - a Disney sing-along. Three days to go already - it's hard to believe. I tried not to dwell on that too much and prayed a time turner would come into my possession in the next 72 hours.

Forgive my lack of a "real" photo from the meet-up, but I was so amped from attending GeekyCon and situating where all the meeting rooms were, I forgot. Once Upon A Time was my first meet-up chatting about all things Storybrooke; our faves (Regina, Hook, and Belle tied) and hate but love villains (Zelena). We also called on the writing gods to bring back Graham (played by Jamie Dornan). My "big" contribution to the discussion was suggesting we sort characters into houses. A mix of the heroes going into Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, and villains going to Slytherin - surprisingly a big lack of Ravenclaws.

Every GeekyCon commences with an opening ceremony and a greeting by the years' guests as well as creators. A dance off to Taylor Swift's Shake It Off was a good way to get off our excitement!

This year we rang in the convention with Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs declaring July 31st as Geeky Day. Melissa Anelli and Stephanie Dornhelm were on hand to receive the certificate marking the occasion that positive fandom is alive and blooming in Florida, and con goers extending their passion beyond the sunny state.

Kirstyn Hippe segwayed the presentation of Geeky Day. With a lovely set of songs, she performed some enjoyable numbers that captured the passion of parodying off of Harry Potter. I really loved her rendition of Ring of Keys and Horcruxes, a song she wrote for the short film I Ship It.

A show by the years' guests is how the evening caps off but celebrates the beginning of geeky pride. In this year's performance, an older Neville Longbottom (Jon Cozart) is taking up his post as Headmaster and professor of Herbology, only to discover some inner workings of Hogwarts that nobody ever expected. Plenty of videos of the ceremony will be uploaded, and let me warn: you'll never be able to get "Get Your Geek On" out of your head. You just won't.

Warning: shaky cam is shaky when you're trying to sing and record at the same time

The evening (for me) concluded with an epic Disney sing-a-long. This is one "panel" famous among congoers with whispers and excitement reverberating around the convention all day long. So, I knew I had to go and was not disappointed. When the doors open for a sing-a-long, you gotta take it!

With famous people a plenty on hand leading us, we opened with a Circle of Life, question Muggle objects with Under the Sea, went The Distance with Hercules, and collected all the Elsas on hand to let it go. A few more videos will be uploaded soon - so here is just a taste of what's in store.