Book Expo America a.k.a. When 90% humidity, sleep deprivation and hours in line can’t stop you from having the time of your life.
So, remember how I said I knew what to expect from BEA going in? Well, when the time came to actually go in, all of that disappeared from my brain. I wandered in 1000% lost and thank god I just stumbled into the right signing line, otherwise I might still be roaming Javits. But it only took me an hour or so to get accustomed to the layout and pretty soon I was darting all over the place.
The poster size competition got rather out of hand.
Richelle Mead signing stacks of her new adult series.
Amy Tan interviewed in front of audience at the Downtown Stage.
This, I would soon discover, would become my life for the next 3 days. I was on my feet 9-5 thanking God that there was a Starbucks on the convention floor. I was powered by adrenaline and caffeine – and the kilos of books on my shoulders meant nothing. It was friggin’ Disneyland.
One of the best things about BEA: the bloggers. I met the lovely Mara (Girls in Capes) that first day, who introduced me to both Susan (Read This, Eat That) and Feliza. It was a lot easier to approach publishers in pairs, so some of the best publisher experiences I had were with them and Tania (Literary Cravings). (Excluding one awesome argument about Sansa Stark over at Source Books – nothing gets the blood boiling better than the Game of Thrones!)
So, yes, you do have to stand in line a lot at BEA – but that is one of the best parts. It gives you an opportunity to talk to fellow book lovers, learn the gossip, find out about books that you might not have otherwise heard of, exchange ARCs and, well, have someone watch your bag while you pop over to grab a coffee and/or publisher. Seriously, people, even if you aren’t British, you’ll quickly love the BEA queuing.
The signing area filled up super quick.
Cutest book poster at BEA – by far!
Amanda Sun with the MLP version of her main character.
I followed the advice online and checked a bag the first afternoon. On days 2 and 3 I made sure to bring along a wheelie bag as I had to walk a lot after the convention to get back to my hotel and on to the theatre. NYC may be walkable, but it was rather like walking in an oven while carrying your own coffin.
… I don’t do well in the heat.
Anyhow, I met so many authors while I was there they’ve actually rather blurred in my mind. Though I know the US often sends dozens of authors out on tour together, we have nothing like that in the UK. To see 2 or 3 at once is highly unusual – but at BEA? Well, Harlequin had Elizabeth Scott, Julie Kagawa, Amanda Sun, Katie McGarry and Dawn Metcalf together not once, but twice. That’s kinda amazing
So, for the record, I met: Victoria Schwab (super lovely), Amanda Sun (super, super lovely), Richelle Mead (!!), Ally Carter, Brandon Sanderson, Maria V. Snyder, Jonathan Maberry, Eve Silver, Teri Brown, Holly Black, Anna Jarzab, Leila Sales, Jennifer Castle, Sarah Dessen (!!), Marie Lu, Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan, Elizabeth Scott (sweetest person ever), Amy Tintera, Ellen Datlow, Alice Hoffman, Kendare Blake, Cat Patrick & Suzanne Young, Romily Bernard, Lauren Myracle, Dan Krokos, Elizabeth Norris, Katie McGarry, Dawn Metcalf, Dot Hutchison, Ted Dekker, Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner, Julie Kagawa, Sean Williams, Deborah Noyes, Michael Pocalyko, Amy Herrick, Faith Erin Hicks, Sarah Jio, and Tyler Whitesides.
Jonathan Maberry looking shiny in his comic book shirt of awesome.
Elizabeth Norris signing her already-released novel Unravelling.
Marie Lu signing extracts and posters at the Penguin booth.
In case you hadn’t noticed: I had an amazing time. I met so many amazing people and would highly recommend that you all give it a go sometime – whether as a blogger or as a power reader. However, I’m also glad I took the evening off from author events: it gave me much-needed time away from the chaos and the opportunity to bleed money on Broadway (Matthew Broderrik! David Hyde Pearce! I couldn’t possibly keep away.)
In this month’s wind-up: Kim Newman steals the stage at the House of Commons (he get’s that from Moriarty’s side), Ally Carter reveals herself to be up to no good (but in a really good way), and George R. R. Martin continues to torture me (unsurprisingly).
I started with my first Sarah Dessen book, Last Chance (review here), which was rather sweet and certainly left me wanting more from the author. I then started on Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D’Urbervilles by Kim Newman. The book is basically a recount of the Sherlock Holmes cases from the point of view of his Sebastian Moran. Unfortunately I only read the first few stories in the book, as you really need to have a good knowledge of Doyle’s canon to appreciate them. As I have yet to finish all of the original stories – and didn’t want to encounter any spoilers! – I decided to put the book on hold. Shame, as I was really loving it! I also got a chance to meet the author this month (more below!).
Next up was A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin… which I still haven’t finished. But not for lack of trying, however. I am enjoying many of the narrators – but others just drag the book out like mad. But I did finish Season 2 of Game of Thrones this month so… that kinda counts, right?
As Clash of Kings took up so much of my reading time – despite not being finished – I only got two other books finished this month. First of these was Heist Society by Ally Carter – which was OMG amazing. Seriously, I absolutely adored this book. Next up was The Holders by Julianna Scott, which I had trouble getting into at first, but then absolutely flew through. Reviews for both of those books coming up soon.
The Events: The Stranger’s Room Repast
Programme and Invitation
Kim Newman gives a toast
Earlier this month, my mother invited me along to a rather special literary dinner: The Sherlock Holmes Society of London‘s annual dinner in the House of Commons. It’s an annual tradition for the society and, every year, they invite a special guest to address the society. Past guests include Stephen Fry, Colin Dexter, Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, to name but a few! This year, author Kim Newman was invited.
Kim Newman was an absolute treat: he gave a very funny talk, spinning a tale about Moriarty and where he may well be now. It was so well thought out, and so well delivered, it made me want to finish his book! (Something I plan to do in parallel with reading the rest of ACD’s work.) Perhaps I should also pick up his Anno Dracula?The evening was a black tie event for members only and I expected great things. The preparation alone was great fun, and the dinner itself was everything it claimed to be: fantastic food in a stunning setting, rich in history, and a night of people speaking about literary characters.
Society member Calvert Markham also gave a fantastic toast in honour of Doctor Watson – I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. He is not a writer (to the best of my knowledge!) but he could sure spin a tale. He had the room hanging on his every word – it was one of the highlights of the evening!
In short, a great night – thank you mum!
Highlights from the month:
Double Dog Dare: 2 books taken off my TBR pile.
Last Chance by Sarah Dessen
New Authors: 3 new authors read.
Personal challenges: I’m still working on A Clash of Kings, dammit!
Published by Hodder Children's Books, Speak
Genres: Contemporary YA, Young Adult
Add to Goodreads
Colie expects the worst when she's sent to spend the summer with her eccentric aunt Mira while her mother, queen of the television infomercial, tours Europe. Always an outcast-first for being fat and then for being "easy" - Colie has no friends at home and doesn't expect to find any in Colby, North Carolina. But then she lands a job at the Last Chance Café and meets fellow waitresses Morgan and Isabel, best friends with a loving yet volatile relationship. Wacky yet wise, Morgan and Isabel help Colie see herself in a new way and realize the potential that has been there all along.
Published as Keeping the Moon in the US.
Thoughts: Sarah Dessen is one of those authors I’ve heard a lot of rave things about; she’s considered one of the very best Contemporary YA writers. And though I was not over-the-moon for Last Chance, I was certainly hooked on its author.
Last Chance is a novel about overcoming one of the toughest things in life: the terrible perception you have of yourself. The main character, Colie, has had a life of bad experiences – and she’s learnt to expect more of them to come. But while I really loved what Dessen did with Colie over the course of the novel, I can’t say I ever came to love her. She was fine, but I never really “got” who she was. Her main role was as the “doormat”, but taking that away seemed to leave a blank slate.
Which, now that I think of it, might have been what Dessen was going for. I guess Colie was still working out who she was – as a “work in progress”, I guess a blank slate would be just what she wanted. Hmm…
Anyhow, the real standouts of Last Chance are Colie’s supporting cast of characters. There’s Isabel, the bitchy, so-truthful-it-hurts, supermodel-look-a-like waitress who starts off as the main antagonist but slowly becomes the greatest friend you can have (and my favourite character in the novel, to boot). Morgan, the soft-hearted waitress with hearts in her eyes and a quick temper. Mira, the eccentric artist-turned-card-writer who sees a good side to everything – even the most broken of appliances. And Norman, the boy who is written off as an “artist hippie type” but turns out to be the most observant of the lot.
Gorgeous, gorgeous characters. I am going to miss them. And are they worth picking up the book for? In a word: yes.
Bottom line: Overall, a great introduction to Dessen’s writing. While I wish the main character had had a bit more character, her friends more than made up for her.
This month, I have quite a few books I “have” to read – for blog tours and author meetings and whatnot:
- Last Chance by Sarah Dessen – This book kicks off my YA Contemporary Challenge (though, being half way through it, I have noticed that the writing is a bit dated).
- Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D’Urbervilles by Kim Newman – I will be meeting Kim next weekend and really want to have read his book before I do.
- The Holders by Julianna Scott (kindle) – I’ll be part of the blog tour for Julianna’s book next month, so need to read it ASAP!
- A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin – I’ve decided to finally finish this mammoth book this month. I’ve read half of it, and plan to do a readalong-with-the-show in order to get through the second half.
- The “maybe” book: Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead – Again I’m half way through this and really want it done with already!
And… that’s all! I’m not putting too many books on my reading pile, as I am swamped with work as is. If you’ve read any of these – or if you are really looking for a review for one – let me know!