Thursday, March 27, 2014

NoVa Teen Book Festival: A Day of Panels and Attempted Witticism

NoVaTEEN Book Festival | March 8 2014 | Arlington

NoVa Teen Book Festival was on March 8th in Arlington, Virginia. Some of my book club buddies were going and the girls from Books and Sensibility (link to their post about the event at bottom) Jess and Kat were too. The day promised a heaping butt load of author chats and personal time with some favorite writers.

The Festival started at 10:00 am with the opening remarks from Phyillis Reynolds Naylor, author of the "Alice" books and "Shiloh." I had seen Phyllis talk at The National Book Festival, heard of "Shiloh" but never read it and never heard of "Alice" so I wasn't too interested. It was a Saturday; my ten hours of sleep could not be compromised. 

The halls of the high school transformed into a book store
When I did get there at 11:00, I caught Kat and Jess going into the first panel with Lamar Giles, Ellen Oh, Sarah Guillory as speakers and Meg Medina and Diana Peterfreud as moderators. They were talking about diversity in YA. Lamar brought up that his book was about a little seen member in YA, the young black male protagonist. He commented that he hadn't seen many YA books that were accurate for that voice. Ellen Oh also talked about wanting to see more Asian main characters. Not really sure what Sarah Guillory said about her book since I don't think it sounded like it had too much diversity in it (small town white girl wanting to get away from guessed it, small town.) 

The role of the moderator got a bit confusing in this first panel as Diana and Meg were as large a part of the conversation as the actual panelists.

Anyway, next I went to a smaller Breakout Session with Ellen Oh and Marie Lu. Marie was the big attraction of the event so her first breakout session was full by the time I got there (damn you beauty sleep!). I knew I had to get to the next one since it was her last. Kat, Jess and I raced out of the auditorium to get a seat in the classroom the session was being held in. 

We got some of the last seats in the back. That's Kat, Jess and I in the right corner of the photo!

Taken from
 I didn't realize that "Legend" was so popular! I guess I got out of the loop about that somewhere. I had tried to read it a while ago but it didn't keep my attention so I was onto the next. I bought a paperback copy to get signed at the Festival since I know Marie lives in Los Angeles and I might not have the chance to meet her again if I did like the book. Also, I usually buy at least one book at events like these. 

Marie just seemed like the sweetest person ever. Ellen Oh was her usual outrageous self, telling it like it is. They shared that they are critique partners; you could tell how proud they were of each other and how close they are. Definitely an interesting dynamic between them .

Marie talked about a future book set in Renaissance Italy that was like the X-men. She divulged how her main character in the book was going to turn evil (guess it's not a spoiler?). It sounded so interesting to me. I would definitely pick it up. 

When the session was over, Marie was pretty much chillin' so I went up to her. I told her how young she looked compared to her author picture (Compliment? Dunno. I meant it to be though I'm not good at the whole talking to other humans thing). She seemed to take it as one. I honestly didn't recognize her from her author photo. 


I think she looks better naturally but whatever. 

Here's pictures of me getting my picture taken. Thanks stranger for the picture Inception!
I ended up staying in the main auditorium for most of the Festival instead of other breakout sessions. I had heard the authors I'm interested in talk about their books at other events (except Marie Lu) so I just wanted to hear their opinions on other topics instead. 

The next panel was on Survival: How dire circumstances and high-stakes situations unite and shape characters to defeat the odds with Kristen Simmons, Claudia Gray, Meagan Spooner and moderators Lisa Maxwell and Jessica Spotswood. The moderators in this panel really pushed the questions back to the panelists; it was endearing to see authors wanting to help promote other people's books. Don't ask me what was actually said at the panel. 

The last panel I listened to was about Bad Boys. I like Victoria Schwab a lot after seeing her the last time she came to the area (only a few weeks before the festival) and thought she would be fun to listen to about this topic. And of course she was. This panel had Elisa Nader and Aimee Agresti as moderators and featured Elle Cosimano, Erica Cameron and Victoria Schwab as panelists.

Marie Lu was the last speaker of the day. She was introduced by Ellen Oh. Marie talked about the books from her childhood that affected her, the weirdly grim stories she used to write when she was younger, and about her books. 

The day ended at the Arlington Library across the street from the high school the Festival was held in. I thought it was going to be really busy and crowded but it was actually really quick. Two minutes in the Marie Lu line and two in Victoria Schwab's and I was done. 

When I was getting "The Unbound" signed by Victoria Schwab I said I had just seen her at the Bethesda library. She said that she remembered me because I have a memorable....

I thought she was going to say face Which is better thing to be memorable for in my opinion. I thanked her for coming back to the area because she knew I wanted my book signed. Since I got "The Achived" at her last signing (I just liked how she described it), I said she must have known I now wanted "The Unbound" signed. So kind of her to come back just for me. 

She laughed. Oh Markella, your attempts at witty banter is even more embarrassing when recounted. 

All the authors

Anyway, it was a great event! About 300 people came for 24 authors. This was the first all day panel event I have ever been to. I thought it might feel a bit like school. Luckily, it didn't. Hope I can go back next year!

More posts about NoVa Teen Book Festival:

Also, I made a tab about author events coming the the Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia area. I don't promise I get everything but it's a good place to start. Email me if you hear of any others!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Divergent Movie Review

2 days ago, Sandie (thanks again!) from the YADC Facebook group posted a message to ask if anyone wanted to see the Divergent screening as a plus-one on a press pass.

1 day, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds later, I replied:

Stephanie from the blog No BS Book Reviews also got a ticket so we decided to meet up.

After a few issues with a guy who thought he was the movie theater's bouncer (Hey, Efff you guy! I'm a semi-VIP yo), Sandie breezed in with her press pass and Stephanie and I got to our VIP seats. And I saw no less than 3 of my fellow book-clubers there!

Photo: VIP movie premiere for #Divergent Fangirling right now.

Now I'll be honest, I was a teeny tiny bit less excited by this movie than I had been when the Hunger Games came out. However, I was still embarrassingly, pee-my-pants, over-the-top, a-25-year-old-shouldn't-fangirl-so-hard-for-a-book-for-teens excited!!

So yeah....

On to the review!!

I think this was one of the best executed YA adaptations to screen I've seen yet! I actually got bored with the Hunger Games movie part way in (but I also get bored easily). Catching Fire is probably my number 1 adaption but this is a really close second. Don't get me started on some of the others.

What I loved about the casting:

1. Shailene Woodley was awesome as Tris. I think she had the whole un-compassionate but still loving characterization down. She was weak in ways but so tough. I loved her acting in this movie.

2. Theo James was delicious as Four. I had my doubts because of how much older he looks than Tobias is supposed to be, but I think it worked. He was strong, sensitive and charismatic.

3. All the other characters, especially Peter and Christina, were cast perfectly! Peter was so absolutely hilarious that, at times, I really wanted to root for him.
4. The dynamic between Tris and her Mom was awesome and heart-breaking. 

What I loved about the story/plot:

1. It was still exciting even though I knew how it would turn out! Though I haven't reread the book since the first time, I do remember most of the story. Yet still I held my breath when Tris is about to choose her faction or hoping some characters make it to the end when I knew they wouldn't.
2. I think it would be easy to follow for someone who hasn't read the book.
3. The pacing was good consistently.
4. Stuck very close to the book but didn't include so much info as to overwhelm (Cough* Vampire Academy* Cough)

What I loved about the movie visually:

1. The costumes were great for each faction. I think they really represented them well.

2. The Ferris wheel scene was perfect.

3. They used the Chicago skyline and surrounding area. You had no doubt where this was set.  

What I loved most:

1. It was FUNNY! When it MEANT TO BE FUNNY. Sometimes you watch these movies and the serious scenes make you laugh. I think once or twice the audience laughed during a smexy scene with Tris and Four, but for the most part, the humor was spot on.
2. The relationship building between Tris and Four was adorable and well paced but maybe a teeny touch of insta-love. Them holding each other at the end of the movie was incredible.

Not my favorite things:

1. Some of the smexy parts with Tris and Four were awkward...but still hot so it's forgiven. There were a few cheesy lines too.

2. The science/ society explanation was lacking. If I didn't read the book, I don't know if I would have known what was going on on that front.
3.Errrmmm can't think of anything else....I missed the scene with Veronica :-(((

Things they changed:

1. Some of Tris' fears were cut out. It didn't bother me. 
2. In one of Tris' fear landscapes, Four is in it and it was a little weird. (no spoilers). You'll see what I mean. 
3. Four and Marcus didn't look similar at ALL.
4. Some characters are left out.


I give the movie a solid A! 

It was heart:

Go see it now* and bring you're non-bookish friends too! Everyone will love this one!

*Okay, not NOW now since it comes out tomorrow but you know what I mean....

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When are YOU seeing Divergent? Also watch the Red Carpet tonight!


Yahoo will be live streaming the Red Carpet at the Divergent World Premiere tonight, Tuesday March 18th at 6pm PST (9 EST) Here's the link:

I was lucky enough to latch on to a plus-one press pass for the premiere at my local theater. When will you be seeing it?

Look for my review of the movie tomorrow!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Early Review of the Divergent Soundtrack -- Should you buy it?


The Divergent soundtrack for the movie comes out March 11 2014! I found this website giving a free listen to all the songs until March 10th: I thought it might be fun to review the album since I love to listen to what they pick for movies I'm excited about; I think it will reflect how the movie will turn out and if the movie has the mood of the book.

Now, I am not the most discerning person when it comes to music. I find 90% of my music on the radio and the other 10% from Pandora's random picks that sound like songs I already like so I just want to say that these songs picks are my personal preference. I'm not discouraging anyone from buying this album or the songs, I'm just saying what I would or would not buy. 

In general, I don't like anything too out there, if it has a good beat and I can hear what they are saying, I usually like it. 

On to the review:

   I wrote notes next to the songs when I could even think what I liked or didn't like about it in italics and whether I would buy that song or not in bold. Clearly, I don't think I should count on a career as a music critic anytime soon. 

  1. Zedd - Find You (ft. Matthew Koma and Miriam Bryant)- Liked it, upbeat and romantic BUY 
  2.  Ellie Goulding - Beating Heart- Most advertised for the soundtrack- I think it captures the feel of the book BUY
  3. Pia Mia - Fight For You (ft. Chance The Rapper) -My favorite song. Loved Pia Mia's soft voice. I think the rapping ruins the song. I don’t think it needed it. MAYBE
  4. Ellie Goulding - Hanging On (I See MONSTAS Remix- Dance song BUY
  5. Snow Patrol - I Won’t Let You Go- This was just ehh to me DON’T BUY
  6. Woodkid - Run Boy Run-  Not my style DON’T BUY
  7. Tame Impala & Kendrick Lamar – Backwards - Reminds me of the song from the Twilight soundtrack DON’T BUY
  8. M83 - I Need You - Couldn’t tell what they're saying that well DON’T BUY
  9. A$AP Rocky - In Distress (ft. Gesaffelstein)-  Didn’t like at all  DON’T BUY
  10. Pretty Lights - Lost and Found (ODESZA Remix)-  Too remixy DON’T BUY
  11. Skrillex - Stranger (with KillaGraham from Milo & Otis and Sam Dew)-  DON’T BUY
  12. Big Deal - Dream Machines-  Just Ok MAYBE
  13. Ellie Goulding - Dead In The Water- Reminded me of Tris BUY
  14. Woodkid - I Love You Reminded me of a Halloween song. MAYBE
  15. Banks - Waiting Game - BUY
  16. Ellie Goulding - My Blood - MAYBE
There are 16 songs on this album. Most were fast paced and up tempo, which I think bodes well for the movie.

Who will like it: Honestly, I'm not sure who would like the whole thing. It has some rap, some of what I consider emo, some pop. I really only liked the pop songs. I guess people who like a whole mix on genres. 

So that's 5 BUYS, 7 DON'T BUYS, and 4 MAYBES. In my opinion, I wouldn't buy the album as a whole but a few songs. I choose my music based on one question: If I was in a car for 6 hours, could I listen to the whole album without getting annoyed by most of the songs? (I take long distance trips a lot.) This failed that test for me.

What I would have made the album better for me; I wish there was one slower, romantic song on the album. 

Favorite Song --  Zedd - Find You (ft. Matthew Koma and Miriam Bryant)
Least Favorite -- A$AP Rocky - In Distress (ft. Gesaffelstein) 
Best for Gym -- Ellie Goulding - Hanging On or Zedd - Find You (ft. Matthew Koma and Miriam Bryant)
Most romantic -- Zedd - Find You (ft. Matthew Koma and Miriam Bryant)
Funnest: Zedd -- Find You (ft. Matthew Koma and Miriam Bryant)
Best movie fit -- Ellie Goulding - Dead in the Water

Let me know what you think if you get to listen to it!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Will You Be There? NoVa Teen Book Festival: Arlington, Virginia on March 8th

It's so hard to find when signings/ author events/ book festivals are without just Googling and hope for the best (which is what I spend at least a half an hour of my day doing). So I decided to create a page on my above tabs where I list all the events in the DC/ MD/ VA area that I can find. I might actually be moving to a different state soon so we'll see if I have to change the page or do both.

Anyway, this weekend is the NoVa Teen Book Festival in Arlington, Virginia. 
NoVaTEEN Book Festival | March 8 2014 | Arlington
Where: Washington-Lee High School, Arlington, Virginia
When: March 8 2014
Doors Open at 9:30AM, Panels start at 10AM, Signing is at 4PM
Cost: Free!

Here is a list of the authors attending and the books available to buy:

Aimee Agresti
__ILLUMINATE (Book 1, paperback)
__ INFATUATE (Book 2, hardcover)
Jenna Black*
___ REPLICA (Book 1, paperback)
___ RESISTANCE (Book 2, paperback)
Hannah Barnaby
___ WONDER SHOW (paperback)
Erica Cameron
Elle Cosimano
___ NEARLY GONE (Hardcover)
Lamar Giles
Claudia Gray
___ SPELLCASTER (Book 1, paperback/hardcover)
___ STEADFAST (Book 2, hardcover)
Sarah Guillory
___ RECLAIMED (paperback)
Marie Lu
___ LEGEND (Book 1, paperback/hardcover)
___ PRODIGY (Book 2, paperback/hardcover)
___ CHAMPION (Book 3, hardcover)
Meg Medina*
Elisa Nader
___ ESCAPE FROM EDEN (Hardcover)
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor*
___ I LIKE HIM, HE LIKES HER (Paperback)
___ PLEASE DON’T BE TRUE (Paperback)
Lea Nolan
___ CONJURE (Book 1, paperback)
___ ALLURE (Book 2, paperback)
Ellen Oh
___ PROPHECY (Book 1, paperback)
___ WARRIOR (Book 2, hardcover)
Diana Peterfreund*
___ FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS (Book 1, paperback)
___ ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA (Book 2, hardcover)
Jennifer Rush
___ALTERED (Book 1, paperback)
___ERASED (Book 2, hardcover)
Victoria Schwab*
___THE ARCHIVED (Book 1, paperback/hardcover)
___THE UNBOUND (Book 2, hardcover)
Elizabeth Scott*
___ HEARTBEAT (Hardcover)
___ LIVING DEAD GIRL (Paperback)
___ LOVE YOU, HATE YOU, MISS YOU (Paperback)
Kristen Simmons
___ ARTICLE 5 (Book 1, paperback)
___BREAKING POINT (Book 2, paperback)
___ THREE  (Book 3, hardcover)
Jon Skovron
___MAN MADE BOY (Hardcover)
Meagan Spooner
Jessica Spotswood
___BORN WICKED (Book 1, paperback)
___STAR CURSED (Book 2, hardcover)
Cristin Terrill
Amy Brecount White
___FORGET HER NOTS (Hardcover)

I have only read Victoria Schwab's The Archived which I really liked. I picked up the book when she was in MD last month for a book signing. I'm trying a new thing of not buying a book unless I absolutely want it, even if the author is there to sign. However, I made an exception because I loved how Victoria talked about little dead things and writing dark. As it turns out, I really liked The Archived and want to get The Unbound signed now so that worked out. 

I have Meagan Spooner's book Skylark which I bought at a signing without knowing anything about it (this was when I was a signing newbie), read three pages, and put it down. Haven't picked it up since. 

Anyway, what's nice about this event is that it is not only a signing but all day panels on a variety of topics such as "How dire circumstances and high-stakes situations unite and shape characters to 
defeat the odds" and "An exploration into the appeal of bad boys and the girl MCs who love them."

Sounds awesome, right? RIGHT? 

Some specifics about the event I learned from the website or other sources:
- Park near Door 5. It's near the auditorium where the event will take place. 
- You can bring three books from home to get signed. The rest you have to buy from there. Seems fair to me.
- Panels are from 10 to 4 and the signing FOR ALL AUTHORS is at 4 across the street at the Arlington Central Library 
- You can come and go from the event as you please but for some things, seating is limited. 
- If you can't stay for the signing but live in the area, you can ask a bookseller there to get the books signed for you. So nice of them. 
- Doors open at 9:30 AM

For the event schedule:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Authors Are My Rockstars: Author Events 2013-14 Part 4

Part 1 Stephanie Meyer, Kami Garcia, Lauren Oliver
Part 2 Maggie Stiefvater, Elizabeth Wein, Rainbow Rowell
Part 3 Veronica Roth, Patrick Ness

September 23 2013

This had to be the most embarrassing signing I've ever been to. I don't know what's wrong with me most of the time. It's like my mind says: NOOOOO DON'T DO THAT and my mouth says: I JUST DID. WHAT YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT.

I swear that when I'm doing embarrassing things, I know what a bad idea it is but I either 1. want to see what's going to happen or 2. am too stupid to stop myself. 

So now you're wondering what I did that was so embarrassing. As I've said before, I make it so I am at the front of the line for signings. This time was no different. I hopped up and got to be the first person in line. Now, I want to be in the beginning of the line but not the first person so I can have a little time to think. I tried to get another lady to go in front of me but she wouldn't budge. 

So I went first. I only have one book of Holly's and haven't really fallen in love with her style so I didn't buy anymore. Anyway, I got my book signed and asked for a picture. The woman behind me said she would take it. I am crazy about pictures with authors. I would almost rather get a picture with them than a signature. 

This is the first picture:

It was ok but I didn't really like it so I asked for another.

This was worse. Instead of saying the first was ok, my mind said: NOOOOO. Be awkward in front of this line of people and ask for another. So I did. Holly signed the woman who took my picture's book before taking a third picture with me. It was unbearably embarrassing to stand there waiting. Then the woman said she shouldn't do the next picture since she was obviously bad at it and walked away. The girl behind me said she would take it. 

Third try:

Now I love this picture but God do I wish I had been normal and not asked for it. I can't even describe the shame I had when I walked out of the room and thought about what I did. I apologized to Holly before I left like four times, saying that I just wanted a nice one because I probably would never get to meet her again. She said it was ok and she was nice about it  but she was probably thinking: WHAT A WEIRDO. 

And I am. A weirdo. Le sigh. 

November 11 2013

James Dashner was an interesting character. He started his talk by saying he had nothing planned to say. He might have matched me in awkwardness.

Mostly he talked to a bunch of teenagers in the back who kept yelling things. Then there was the awkward silences. I have to say, it made me feel better about myself. 

January 29 2014

My very first signing of 2014! Now, I never read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children but, like I said before, I am kind of obsessed with Tahereh Mafi and wanted to see what her husband was like. 

His story about how he got his book deal was very interesting. I'm surprised his books got as popular as they did with such an nontraditional publisher. I wanted to see what all the hoopla was about so I bought the book and got it signed. 

Now, I was there an hour early so I bought a grande coffee at Starbucks. BAD IDEA MARKELLA. By the time the signing started, I had to pee sooooo bad. I got my picture with Ransom then practically sprinted to the bathroom. 

In the stall, I paused for a moment. Where was the book?!? I finished up and ran out. Luckily, a bookstore staff held it for me as I left it with Ransom. Close call there. 

Next Time:

Stephanie Perkins, Megan Shepherd, Victoria Schwab, Ellen Oh, and Jessica Spotswood

Marissa Meyer


Dark Days Tour: Tahereh Mafi, Veronica Rossi, Sophie Jordan, and Kiersten White