Thursday, June 6, 2019

My Book Expo 2019 Experience

I recently traveled to New York City to attend what is essentially a book lover's version of heaven. Book Expo America is three days of being immersed in bookish nirvana with like minded people. You get to hear about the hottest titles of the fall/winter season, meet some incredible authors and make friends while waiting in lines.

I arrived into New York City an entire day early because I wanted to rest before heading into the conference and wanted some time to do things in the city. My first day there was Tuesday and I decided to go to the TKTS booth in Time Square and go see a play. I decided on seeing Burn This starring Kerri Russell and Adam Driver in the beautiful Hudson Theatre.

Part of my decision may have been made by amazing ads like this while I was waiting:

I enjoyed the play, particularly Adam Driver's performance. He's incredibly funny in this. It was a really fun experience and I definitely want to go see more plays next time I am in New York. It didn't hurt that I had an incredible view of the stage.

The next day was the first day of Book Expo. Excitement was high because Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo was to be given out that day. 

I, sadly, did not get a copy (and was literally next in line to get a ticket when they handed out the last one).  As expected there was a mad dash to the Macmillan booth when the floor opened at noon that day to get tickets for the afternoon signing. People were running and it was really chaotic and intense. I personally think authors as popular as Leigh Bardugo should not be in booth signings. It creates security/safety issues and this was a clear indicator of that. Hopefully they put her in the autographing area next time with advance ticketing. It controls some of the chaos. I was sad to miss out on my most anticipated book from the convention and cannot wait for it to be released so I can read it (or hopefully snag an ARC some other way).

The rest of Wednesday was mostly much more manageable (minus the Mackenzi Lee signing). I got to meet Billy Jensen and any murderino out there knows how excited I was by this. I was a whole mess of nerves so I had to let the person behind me go up first because I just couldn't be the first person to go up. He's incredibly kind in person and we had a laugh over Paul Holes not getting the idea of the Weekly Distraction segment on their podcast (The Murder Squad and you should totally check it out). It was one of the more exciting moments of Book Expo for me and I cannot wait to read his book!

I also manged to get in line for Mackenzi Lee's Loki signing. That line rivaled the Leigh Bardugo ticket race for the most chaotic part of Book Expo. Security had to come to handle the unorganized mess. I am sure this kind of reaction is amazing to both the author and publisher. It creates a lot of buzz and ensures your book is the talk of the Expo.I imagine it is less fun for the attendees trying to walk through the area or other exhibitors whose booth gets blocked or disturbed in the process. It was amazing to see Mackenzi again. She's always the sweetest and I am really excited to read Loki. 

I managed to snag a couple of other books on the first day. I left the conference with:

American Royals by Katharine McGee (goodreads)
Season Of The Witch by Sarah Rees Brennan (goodreads)
Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw (goodreads)
Chase Darkness With Me by Billy Jensen (goodreads)
Loki: Where Mischief Lies by Mackenzi Lee (goodreads)
Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky (goodreads)

There was a lot of buzz for Imaginary Friend as this is Stephen Chbosky's first novel in about 20 years. The publisher had a lot of drops and a signing to ensure that everyone who wanted to read this one got the chance.

Day Two was a much earlier start to the day and filled with after Book Expo fun as well. I also manged to get one of my other most anticipated books of the conference this day. I had a lot of things right at the beginning of the day so I went and got in line early. I, personally, love this part of Book Expo. Getting to chat with the other people in line is one of my favourite parts of the entire event. I met so many really nice muderinos and got to talk to some amazing book lovers as well.

I managed to meet Raina Telgemeier and get a signed copy of Guts which will promptly be given to my niece once I have read it. She's a huge fan and is going to love getting this book.

I also wanted to get My Dark Vanessa because it was one of the buzz selections on my radar before it was picked. Kate Elizabeth Russell was really sweet and there was quite a bit of buzz on the floor for her feminist Lolita inspired debut.

I managed to get a copy of Emery Lord's newest (which was one of my most anticipated) and I totally hugged the book the second I got it.

All in all I left the convention center with the following after the second day:

The Map From Here To There by Emery Lord (goodreads)
Guts by Raina Telgemeier (goodreads)
Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi (goodreads)
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (goodreads)
Cursed by Thomas Wheeler and Frank Miller (goodreads)
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (goodreads)

Cursed was an example of the show floor putting a book on my radar that hadn't been there previously. Hearing about it from other attendees and the people at the Simon and Schuster booth made me want to read it. It's going to be a Netflix show and it sounds like an interesting take on the King Arthur tale.

This was also the day that I was attending the My Favourite Murder book tour stop to celebrate the release of Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered! My friend Kelly (from Kellyvision) came to town to attend with me. We, of course, had to get Shake Shack before the event.

We do not have Shake Shack in Canada so I am always excited to have it whenever I go to New York. I usually end up having it twice. It started to rain and we had a disastrous time getting an Uber (which turned into us getting a taxi) but we made it to the Town Hall Theatre with time to spare for the event. The event was Q and A style with someone from the New York Times as the moderator. It was funny, and insightful. Karen and Georgia were lovely as always and it made me love the book even more than I already did.

I, obviously, love the swag and the fact that I have a signed copy of this book! It was a fantastic evening and the perfect way to end the second day.

Kelly left early on the third day and I headed over to the Javits Centre early for the last day of Book Expo. I was most excited to meet Renee Ahdeih and get another of my most anticipated books of the conference.

I also snagged a copy of the new Christina Lauren book! I love all of their books and this one sounds especially good. I love second chance romances so I think this will may end up be a favourite. I had to go brave the Macmillan booth to get tickets again, but this time was much more organized. It felt less chaotic but still energetic. I managed to get tickets for both the Cora Carmack and Jennifer L Armentrout signings.

The last day saw me leaving with the following books:

The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh (goodreads)
No Judgments by Meg Cabot (goodreads)
Twice In A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren (goodreads)
Rage by Cora Carmack (goodreads)
The Burning Shadow by Jennifer L Armentrout (goodreads)
A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer (goodreads)

I had missed all of the previous giveaways of A Heart So Fierce and Broken so I wanted to try to get a copy on this last day. I loved A Curse So Dark and Lonely and am looking forward to finding out what comes next.

I got to gush to Renee about how excited I am for The Beautiful! It has so many things I love: vampires, historical setting, New Orleans, and a murder mystery. I love the paranormal genre so I am happy to see vampires making a comeback.

That wrapped up my Book Expo experience this year. Overall it was a fun, more relaxed conference. It felt like the publishers had less on offer and were focusing on autographing sessions more than the typical galley drops (even though there were still plenty of those). I also noticed a lack of promotion of romance novels overall. There were a few sprinkled throughout but there are so many amazing sounding titles coming out. Berkley in particular has an incredible sounding autumn line up, but was there was two books being given out that were not romance. They did have Jasmine Guillory signing however which was great but it was promoting an older release instead of one of her upcoming ones. I hope the publishers realize there is a desire for those books to be there and make an effort to bring more in the future.

I had one half day in New York City before I left which I spent taking a true crime tour of the city. It was an interesting and surprisingly informative experience. The guide infused his stories with a lot of historical facts about the city and how the areas had changed since the events had happened. It was fascinating to hear about how drastically some of the neighbourhoods had changed. I also left with a few cases that I want to see if there are podcasts about.

I said goodbye to New York by getting some dinner and Stranger Things themed ice cream after the tour before my bus was scheduled to leave.

I always leave New York immediately wanting to go back. There's something about the city that feels pretty magical. I, once again, left rejuvenated and inspired by the book community. It's sometimes a lot but I honestly wouldn't have it any other way.

My hopes for next year are a bit more attention to crowd control and ensuring that safety concerns are dealt with in some manner (I do think they have gotten better at this overall though). I also wanted to shout out Sourcebooks for their lines/crowd control. It was excellent this year. The autographing area was also well planned.

Did you go to Book Expo? If so, what was the one book you were most excited to come home with and what was your favourite part of attending? For those who did not get to attend this year, what book would you have wanted to get? Let me know in the comments!

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