Sunday, December 28, 2014

Top Ten Goals for 2015

In just four days (whaaaat?!?), my 2014 goal list will come down from it's designated spot above my desk. It'll be replaced with my 2015 goals! I still have to review what I accomplished in 2014, but I know I achieved some of my goals, didn’t achieve others and even set a couple aside. (The year I accomplish everything I set out to do will be one for the books!) Here’s the goals that will be hanging above my desk this coming year!


1. Edit my WIP, Aspen!

I wrote Aspen in NaNoWriMo 2014 and have a whole draft that’s just over 55000 words. It needs a lot of editing though, and some more meat! (Fifty thousand words is a little short for YA fantasy.) I also hope to give it to beta readers this year.
            Stretch goal: Query agents!

2. Participate in and win my fourth NaNoWriMo.
3. Write a short story and submit it for publication.

I’ve written a few short stories in my time, and I’ve entered a few contests but trying to get one published would be another way to work on my writing skills and gain experience in the submission and publication process.

4. Read 60 books

            Stretch goal: 70 books
5. Read the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot

Last year I re-read the Harry Potter series and this year I decided to continue the tradition of re-reading a series. I’ll make sure to include Royal Wedding which comes out on June 2!
6. Read 7 diverse books.

Last May I decided to support the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign by reading more diverse books. I pledged to read eight books, but only managed to read four by the end of the year. I'm setting the goal a little lower for 2015 in hopes I'll get to all seven books!
7. Read 7 books from my own bookshelf that I have yet to read.

I started this in 2014 and read four books from my own shelf. I own plenty of books that I haven't read (unfortunately!), so I'm picking seven to read in 2015. 

8. Keep posting weekly on my blog, which will turn three in May!
9. Comment on five other blogs each month in an effort to connect with other readers and writers.
10. Continue being active on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram.

Happy 2015!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Most Anticipated Teen Releases: Winter 2015

It's winter. Again. It's cold and snowy and UGH. Why does this season have to happen every year? If you can't tell, winter isn't my favorite. Though I am looking forward to these awesome upcoming YA releases! They'll surely keep me cozy in the dark months ahead!

December 23

This Shattered World—Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
What it’s about: Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met. Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists and Flynn is the rebellion’s leader. Desperate for any advantage against the military occupying his home, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape base together, caught between two sides in a senseless war.

Why I’m excited: Because These Broken Stars is a brilliant, epic science fiction tale, and I’m expecting the same from this companion! I’m a little heartbroken that Lilac and Tarver aren’t the main characters of this book, but I have high hopes for Lee and Flynn!


January 13

The Darkest Part of the Forest—Holly Black
What it’s about: Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries' seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once. At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointy as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking. Until one day, he does...

Why I’m excited: Because this book sounds like a fairy tale. But it doesn’t sound like one I’ve heard before, and if anyone could write a new fairy tale, it’d be Holly Black!


January 20

All Fall Down—Ally Carter
What it’s about: Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things: She is not crazy, her mother was murdered and someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay. As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her -- so there's no one she can trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands. Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can't control Grace -- no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

Why I’m excited: BECAUSE A NEW ALLY CARTER SERIES! Squeeee!!! Ally Carter's other series, Gallagher Girls and Heist Society are two of my all-time favorites. They have an easy, elegant greatness that I adore!


February 10

Red Queen—Victoria Aveyard
What it’s about: Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own. To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

Why I’m excited: Because this debut fantasy is being billed as similar to Graceling by Kristin Cashore, which is one of my favorites! Plus, it promises betrayal, which almost always makes for a good read. 


The Shadow Cabinet—Maureen Johnson
What it’s about: Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming. Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they’ll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself—and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.

Why I’m excited: Because Maureen Johnson is one of my favorite YA personalities, and this third book in the series promises to be a thrilling read! I've really grown to love the Shades of London series for it's solid writing and general Londonness, so I can't wait to dive into this one!


March 3

The Winner’s Crime—Marie Rutkoski
What it’s about: A royal wedding is what most girls dream about. It means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin’s freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? For Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. She’s working as a spy in the court. If caught, she’ll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can’t help searching for a way to change her ruthless world . . . and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret. 

Why I’m excited: Because I already know it’s awesome! I got ahold of the DRC and flew through this second book in the series. There’s one scene with Kestral and Arin that tore my heart to pieces in the best and worst imaginable way. Also, the cliffhanger! I can’t wait to see this jewel on the shelves.


March 10

Orphan Queen—Jodi Meadows
What it’s about: When Princess Wilhelmina was a child, the Indigo Kingdom invaded her homeland. Ten years later, Wil and the other noble children who escaped are ready to fight back and reclaim Wil's throne. To do so, Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate the Indigo Kingdom palace with hopes of gathering information that will help them succeed. But Wil has a secret—one that could change everything. Although magic has been illegal for a century, she knows her ability could help her save her kingdom. But magic creates wraith, and the deadly stuff is moving closer and destroying the land. And if the vigilante Black Knife catches her using magic, she may disappear like all the others. . . .

Why I’m excited: Because I have this DRC waiting in my queue of books and I’m eager to dive into my first Meadows novel. Invasions, illegal magic, vigilantes… YUM.


What books are you looking forward to in the new year?
Stay warm! Happy Holidays!

*Book descriptions were adapted from those on

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Top Ten Books I Read in 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Check out their blog—it’s awesome!

This year was full of great YA! The books I read were fantastical, suspenseful, mysterious and unputdownable. I struggled ranking these gems-- it was tearing my book-loving soul to pieces! So, here are my top picks for 2014, listed by author's last name, four of which I reviewed in my Six Star Reviews blog series.
Ruin and Rising: This book (actually, the whole series) is engrossing, well-written and unique. I cringed, cried and questioned the status of soulmates (because a certain character was so amazing).

Prisoner of Night and Fog: This novel reached into my chest and wrapped its pages around my heart and tightened. I flew through it, somehow both appalled and intrigued. An outstanding debut of 2014!

A Thousand Pieces of You: High concept. Layered mystery. Big reveals. Marguerite’s story is intriguing, intelligent, and so unputdownable that I engulfed it in just one day!

Heir of Fire: This is the third book in one of my favorite YA fantasy series! I was happy to take my time with this tale (it's a tome!) and really dive into Celeana’s newest adventure (on a new continent with new characters)!

Cress: I mean, who can say no to fairy tale retellings? I know I can’t! The stories of futuristic versions of Cinderalla, Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel intertwine and the tales only get better as the series progresses!

Panic: This tale is crazy, daring and risky. If you’re looking for a read in these winter months that will remind you of the humid summer, pick up this book about bravery, fear and freedom.

Kiss of Deception: This book is the very definition of unputdownable! Top-notch romance, an intricate world and the play of characters kept me reading, and the unbearable cliffhanger left me dying for more.

Isla and the Happily Ever After: This book has spine-tingling, heart-wrenching romance and some of the best cameos I’ve ever read in YA. I wanted to savor this tale of suspenseful romance, but instead I devoured it in just one day!

Winner’s Curse: This is a story that shouldn’t be missed, about a love that pulls at the heart and soul in all the right places. It’s an expertly plotted tale of masters and puppets, imperfections and strengths and bonds that are forged and cast aside in the time of war.

Afterworlds: Clever, well-woven tales of two girls and their stories. Darcy’s path toward publication in NYC and the whirlwind after the terrorist attack Lizzie lived through could be stand-alone tales, but they are so much better together.

Honorable Mentions:
Narrowing the list down to ten books was hard, so I just had to include Mortal Heart and Dreams of Gods and Monsters as honorable mentions! They were so close to the top ten! I actually reviewed these two (as well as The One by Kiera Cass) in this blog post from late spring!
What are your favorite books of 2014? What are your thoughts on my list? Are there any books from my list you'd include on yours? Are there any notable ones you wouldn't include? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Short List of Bookish Gifts

Need something for a bookish friend? Check out some of the awesome things I've found while perusing the internets!

For the Tea Drinker… who loves Alice in Wonderland
Drink me! Check it out here.

For the Christmas fanatic… who loves Harry Potter
This can be printed on a pillow! Check it out here.
How can I say no to this Harry Potter and Home Alone mash-up sweatshirt? Check it out here.

For those who accessorize… and love TFIOS
Actually, I have one rather similar to this. It's pretty and subtle! Check it out here
Okay? Definitely. Check it out here.
For the big kid at heart... who loves Peter Pan
Gorgeous! Check it out here.
For the love of YA
Ooooh yes. Big books are the best! Check it out here.
Wishing everyone a happy, safe, festive, adventurous, fantastical holiday season! 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

What I'm Taking from NaNoWriMo into December

After 50000 words, the 50001th is anticlimactic. It was probably an ‘and’ or ‘the’, maybe something fancy like ‘tree’ or ‘unicorn.’ In the end, I don’t know exactly which word it was, because that word is unimportant. NaNoWriMo may have a goal about writing 50000 words, but it’s not about any particular word, it’s about what they mean together. It’s about what 50000 words make together. For me, 50175 words make the better part (as I'm not quite finished) of a first draft of a novel.

This is the third time I’ve won NaNoWriMo, and I’ve written about lessons I’ve learned and how I've won. I’ve written about my struggle to commit, the muddy middle and about being a pantser. I even wrote a NaNoWriMo pep talk just last week, but I’ve never written about the future.

After writing 50175 words in November (probably more because I plan on adding some today), I take three important things into December and 2015 with me: A nearly finished first draft, momentum and a sense of accomplishment. To complete the first draft before the end of the year, I need to keep up my current momentum. I’ll celebrate my accomplishment, but I’ll also remember that the hard work (editing) has yet to begin.

Please note: what I’m taking into December with me has nothing to do with word count. Seems crazy, but it's true! Maybe you didn’t make it to 50000 words this year, which is absolutely fine, because in the end, you can still have all those things I mentioned above. You still have the workings of a first draft as no matter if it’s 25000 words or 40000 words, it’s a beginning that you didn’t have before. You still have the momentum of November, pushing you forward. And, I truly believe that you should feel accomplished for committing to NaNoWriMo, writing however many words you wrote and moving forward with that.

NaNoWriMo novels might be drafted in November, but they’re edited in December and beyond. For me, I plan on finishing my draft in December and dive into editing in the New Year. No matter how many words you wrote in November, it was more than you had at the beginning and therefore I share my congratulations with you.
*raises mug* Congratulations and Happy December!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pep Talk from Jamie Mitchell

I know what you’re thinking, and trust me, I’m thinking the same thing. Why would you read my pep talk? You don’t know who I am.

Not when you can read pep talks by greats. Veronica Roth and Tamora Pierce have written pep talks for this year’s NaNoWriMo participates. Other famous authors and bloggers have written them this year and in the past. And you read them because they’ve made it. Brandon Sanderson has made it. Rainbow Rowell, Scott Westerfeld, Marissa Meyer—they’ve all made it.

I haven’t made it. I’m a relative nobody in the publishing world. I’m writing this NaNoWriMo pep talk expecting very few people to see it, because I haven’t made it as a writer. I am a writer, yes, but I’m not famous. I haven’t even written a book that’s agent-ready, let alone editor or publisher-ready. All I have under my belt is a few full drafts that are products of NaNoWriMo madness.

By now you’re thinking, this isn’t much of a pep talk. Give me another paragraph or three.

Yes, I may be a nobody in the publishing world. My blog has decent pageviews but doesn’t have many followers. I don’t have an agent, let alone a publisher.

But I’m still writing.

I’m not writing with the goal to be Rainbow or Veronica or anyone else that already has a name in publishing. I’m writing to be me. I’m writing to see MY name in print. That’s what I want. I want to be able to write a book (ideally a great one) that snags an agent and an editor and a publisher and then the GOAL—the absolute goal, which if it happens, I will likely bawl and take a millions pictures acting like a crazy person in the YA aisle of the bookstore—is to have MY book on the shelf.

I admit it'd be nice if my book sold well. I’d throw a happy dance party if it made it to the NYT bestsellers list. I’d love to be able to write full-time. And I still hold these dreams close to my heart. But even if no one reads my book except my mom and boyfriend (though I admit I’ll be sad if that’s the case), I’ll know I accomplished writing a book and getting it published.

So when you write, don’t write to be the next big name. Don’t write to be the next Gillian Flynn or Rick Riordan or whomever it is that you idolize. Write because you want to write. Write because the story is pouring out of you like a waterfall, glinting in the sunlight and thundering in your ears. Write because you have a story to tell and it needs to be on paper even if it doesn’t vault you to author celebrity. Write even if you become the Van Gogh of the publisher world. Write even if no one reads it, not even your mother.

Write for you.

Now, stop reading this, and write.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Teen Books-to-Movies 2015

It’s almost time for Mockingjay – Part One!!! I’m unbelievably excited, but this post isn’t about my JLaw obsession. It’s about a few upcoming movies based on YA books, which is really becoming a thing (which I’m happy about of course!) The Divergent and Maze Runner adaptations did well in theaters. The Fault in Our Stars movie did outstanding, and of course the Hunger Games movie adaptations can’t be stopped. Here’s the next batch of YA books to movies, some that will surely be hits and some that might, however unfortunate, prove to be misses.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part One
Release Date: SOON! Less than a week! I’m so excited! (BTW, that’s November 21.)

In District 13 after she literally shatters the games forever, Katniss Everdeen works to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends.

Why I’m Excited: Because the Catching Fire movie cliffhanger was amazing! Peeta’s in the grasp of President Snow and Katniss is in District 13 and I need to know what happens next! Even though I do know, of course, but I want to see what happens next. I have to admit I’m nervous about the cliffhanger that’s surely coming at the end of Mockingjay Part One. Actually, Emma Stone made me nervous about it long ago…

"I feel like if Mockingjay is split into two movies, they’ll end the first one at Katniss and Peeta’s reunion. Like it’ll show him ring her neck and Boggs punch him and then boom credits and we’re all just sitting there like this." -Emma Stone on Hunger Games

Release Date: March 20, 2015                Status: Post-production

Beatrice Prior must confront her inner demons and continue her fight against a powerful alliance which threatens to tear her society apart.

Why I’m Excited: Because Insurgent was my favorite book in the Divergent series and I’m eager to see how they adapt it to the big screen! Though I am skeptical about Tris with short blondish hair, the first teaser trailer’s pretty cool.


Release Date: 2015                               Status: Post-Production

A young girl finds herself in a reform school after therapy since she was blamed for the death of a young boy. At the school she finds herself drawn to a fellow student, unaware that he is an angel, and has loved her for thousands of years.

Why I’m Excited: Because this is finally happening! This was one of the first books I read when I was getting back into YA five years ago. I didn’t think the movie was ever going to be made, then it looked like it was going to be a TV movie but now IMDB says it’s coming to theaters! Woot!

Also, ICYMI… Paper Towns is filming!


Also, two of my favorite YA books have been optioned! I’ll leave you with the awesome announcement:

Sunday, November 9, 2014

This year for NaNoWriMo, I’m a Pantser

I’m in the midst of my third NaNoWriMo experience. (Third!) This is the ninth day, and right now I'm on pace to finish on time. Achieving the daily word count has been relatively easy so far (did I just jinx myself? I hope not), but now that it’s closing in on the middle of the month, I’m waiting for that to change. (Remember this post on the muddy middle?
I committed to this NaNoWriMo with a concept I dreamt up two months ago. I had plenty of time to prepare an outline, write character and setting profiles and even a prologue before November 1st. However, life happened *cough* vacation *cough* and I didn’t get to it. In the days before NaNoWriMo, I had to make a decision. Should I use precious time at the beginning of November to work on and finalize an outline and profiles? Or should I try something different?

On a whim, I decided to try something different. I decided to become a pantser. Meaning I write by the seat of my pants with no outline, little preparation and only an idea of what I want the story to be and where I want it to go.

Honestly, the word pantser has always frightened me. I’m a plotter. I’m organized. I like outlines and extensive lists and detailed documents and notes on calendars. My boyfriend regularly calls me Monica from Friends for my organizational skills (and occasionally my clean freak nature). But truthfully, the plotter thing hasn’t been working for me lately. And last month, someone told me that using the method I'm not accustomed to can get me out of my comfort zone.

So I decided to try it. Armed with only a concept document (ten pages of random ideas and loose scenes), I dove into NaNoWriMo. Every day when I sit down to write, I let the characters lead the way with only a few gentle nudges on my part toward my vague idea of an end.

And I’m happy to report that being a pantser has been working for me. I’ve written 15000 words in eight days!

*raises half-full glass of orange juice* Here’s to being a pantser! May it continue to work for me.


Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried the one that’s outside your comfort zone? Did it work for you?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Six Star Reviews: A Thousand Pieces of You

The highest rating a book can get on Goodreads is five stars. Five stars means the book was awesome, worthy, well-written, etc. But sometimes I wish I could give six—YES 6—stars. These instances are rare, but there are some books that stand out that extra bit. They are truly unputdownable. They are not just great, but extraordinary. They speak to me, and I love them.

Here’s a book that deserves six stars:

A Thousand Pieces of You—Claudia Gray

Marguerite Caine grew up surrounded by cutting-edge scientific theories, thanks to her brilliant physicist parents. Yet nothing is more astounding than her mother's latest invention—a device called the Firebird, which allows people to leap into alternate dimensions. When Marguerite's father is murdered, all the evidence points to one person—Paul, her parents' enigmatic star student. Before the law can touch him, Paul escapes into another dimension, having committed what seems like the perfect crime. But he didn't count on Marguerite chasing him.

With the help of another physics student, Theo, Marguerite chases Paul through various dimensions and wildly different lives-- a grand duchess in a Tsarist Russia, a club-hopping orphan in a futuristic London, a refugee from worldwide flooding on a station in the heart of the ocean. In each new world Marguerite leaps to, she meets another version of Paul that has her doubting his guilt and questioning her heart. Is she doomed to repeat the same betrayal?

There are a thousand things I love about A Thousand Pieces of You. Seriously. And if I had a couple days to spare, I’d write a giant list! But I don’t because it’s NaNoWriMo time, so I’ll just share a few of the reasons why I love and devoured and couldn’t put down this book!

First of all, Marguerite! She’s got backbone! She’s smart and brave! She’s not genius-level like her parents, but that just makes her relatable. At the start of the novel, she’s reeling because Paul, a graduate student who works for her parents, killed her dad and she’d highly interested in revenge. However, Paul used the one and only Firebird to escape where no one could follow. So when another grad student, Theo, says he has a couple spare Firebirds, Marguerite jumps at the chance to chase Paul through the multiverses.

The concept of the novel, while complex, is well-explained in the beginning and goes a little something like this: The Firebird, an invention of Marguerite’s mom, allows a person to leap into alternate dimensions. However, Marguerite has to exist in that dimension to be able to travel there, as she takes over that person’s life temporarily. Interesting, right? And what makes it even more interesting is the alternate dimensions themselves. Some have progressed faster than our world, and therefore have better technologies (like when Marguerite travels to a futuristic London), some have progressed slower than our world (like when she travels to a Tsarist Russia) and some have just progressed differently (like when she travels to an underground station due to worldwide flooding).

The concept itself is killer. And then there’s the plot! I won’t say much, because it changes so quickly that even saying something from Marguerite’s first jump to futuristic London is a spoiler. One thing though: keep an eye out for hints. There are plenty tidbits that factor into the final twist, and it’s awesome to see them all come together. (Speaking of "Come Together", the Beatles don’t exist in some of the alternate dimensions, because they didn't meet!)

Also, Paul and Theo! Argggg I want to gush over one of them in particular but that would be a spoiler. So I’ll gush over both! Paul killed Marguerite’s dad, but we learn through flashbacks that he’s not a faceless killer. Since he was a grad student for Marguerite’s parents he spent a lot of time in their house and was practically family! Paul was brilliant, quiet and socially awkward, and we learn in the flashbacks that Marguerite had a connection with him. Theo is also one of Marguerite’s parents’ grad students, yet he’s a social butterfly and takes Paul under his wing so much so that they have a brotherly love going on. This dynamic makes things interesting as they travel through the multiverses.

A Thousand Pieces of You is everything. It’s mystery, fantasy and historical fiction. There’s suspense, love and enough twists to put a crick in your neck! It hits the shelves Tuesday, November 4, and I’ll be grabbing my copy that day! How could I not have a cover that lovely and a story that intriguing on my bookshelf?

A Thousand Pieces of You is a 6 out of 5 stars book, and I can’t wait to stroke its spine and smell its pages and wrap it (carefully) in my arms and squeeze it (gently) onto my bookshelf.

My recommendation: READ THIS BOOK. (Especially if you like gutsy females leads and/or intricate plots and/or ALL THE GENRES and/or the idea of fate.)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Jamie's Favorite Wizarding World Things

Wizarding World of Harry Potter was an experience of a lifetime for me! Hogwarts Castle, Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, King's Cross, Platform 9 3/4, the Knight Bus, Ollivander's... and that's just the tip of the Sorting Hat when it comes to what I experienced at Universal Orlando. Of course, the park's not perfect, but there’s so much to explore and discover, especially now that there are two parts—Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. I spent two days at Universal, and went back and forth between the parks four times (three of which were on the Hogwarts Express)! Here are my seven favorite things from my Wizarding World experience:

7. Sweets
There's so much candy that I'm getting a sugar high just thinking about it! I dived into the selection at Honeydukes in Hogsmeade and Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley. And yeah, I'm bringing home an assortment of sweets, including chocolate frogs, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, jelly slugs, Fainting Fancies, and a Honeydukes container with fruit balls. (That's right, fruit balls.)


6. Photo Ops
There were just so many! It felt like I was handing my camera to my boyfriend every other minute and begging him to take my picture in front of this or next to that. Here are some of the best ones!

The Knight Bus

Muggle entrance to the Ministry of Magic

12 Grimmauld Place

The Vanishing Cabinet in Borgin and Burkes

5. Performances & Character Actors
Photo ops went from good to great when there was someone to pose with, like the Stan Shunpike look-a-like and the Hogwarts conductor below! Also, I was awed by the performances! I managed to catch the Hogwarts Choir in Hogsmeade and Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees in Diagon Alley. (Also, check out the Ravenclaw student who's pointing right at me!)

Knight Bus conductor

Hogwarts Express conductor

Hogwarts Choir

Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees

4. Hogwarts Castle
It’s just so pretty!

3. Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes
When I walked into Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, I was wowed. (That's a lot of w's.) It's how I pictured it, except that I imagined it about five times bigger. Being able to walk inside and explore was amazing! The intricacies, including the tightrope Umbridge and the fireworks on the ceiling, made me love it even more! 


2. Hogwarts Express
Riding on the Hogwarts Express is awesome! It could’ve been a longer trip (though I understand why it wasn’t) and they could’ve gotten an actress to voice Hermione that sounded more like her, but the stations, the train, the cabins, and the view out the window are great!


1. Butterbeer!

No explanation needed.

Have you been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? If so, what did you enjoy about the experience? If not, are you planning on going? If you are, what are you most excited about experiencing?