Beth Recommends: Fav Reads of 2015 Thus Far


I had been planning on doing this post anyway, but it’s this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic so I thought I might as well do it today! 

I cannot believe that 2015 is half over. It seems like just yesterday I was talking about my bookish new year’s resolutions! Craziness. So far 2015 has been a great reading year. I’ve read a ton of good books and have absolutely fallen in love with many of them. Here are my ten faves so far! 


1) Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
I absolutely fell in love with this book. It is amazing in every way. I wrote a review of this book right after I finished, but still haven’t posted it yet. My mind was left reeling. I had such a book hangover. My review was basically just me gushing—I might go back and polish it up though!
You should read this if you enjoy magical realism, and beautiful books about tough topics and growing up. Basically… EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS.

2) All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
This book gave me all the feels. It is about two teenagers that bond while contemplating death. The relationship that comes out of that is just so beautiful. This is a look at mental illness and what it’s like loving someone who suffers from one. I loved this book so, so much. 

3) Lumberjanes Vol 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson 
This is just the most awesome thing. The lumberjanes are essentially girl scouts but way more bada$$. The layout of these comics is amazing, the art is wonderful, it’s just… great. It was a pure joy to read. If you are into comics or graphic novels at all, this is a must. If you find yourself interested in them, give this one a go! It’s delightful and just tons of fun. PS I loved this so much that before I had even finished it I had bought myself a lumberjanes t-shirt. And am wearing it right now. Because it’s awesome. 


4) Diamond Head by Cecily Wong
This book is so freaking beautiful. It’s a sweeping multigenerational family saga that takes place in China then Hawaii, and I couldn’t out it down. I even cried at the end because it was so bittersweet. If you like stories about family, love, and secrets, try this one. 

5)Ms Marvel Vol 2 & 3 by G. Willow Wilson 
In 2014 I fell in love with Ms. Marvel when I read vol 1. Now vols 2 & 3 are out and I love her even more! If you haven’t read these yet, do it now! Ditto what I said about Lumberjanes. I.e. If you are into comics or graphic novels at all, this is a must. If you find yourself interested in them, give this one a go!



6) Amulet 1, 2, & 3 by Kazu Kibuishi 

This is a middle grade graphic novel series and it is just… magical. I love it. The art work is super gorgeous and the storyline is super fun! The characters are two kids, a brother a sister. They find an entrance to a magical world in their basement. It’s the best. 


7) Soulless by Gail Carriger 

This was my first foray into steampunk. Lindsay Rey recommended it in one of her wrap-ups and it really intrigued me. It is so much fun! It’s a comedy of manners set in steampunk England with vampires and werewolves thrown in. So. Much. Fun. At first I was thrown off a little by the whole steampunk thing, but I got the hang of it. It gave me a craving for urban paranormal fantasy and I’ve been loving this! Check this one out if you like to laugh! And/or if you like urban paranormal!


8) On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss

I’ve been reading more nonfiction lately than usual (although still not a lot). I remember when this one came out and I got around to reading it in May. It’s not super long, but it is super interesting. I was always intrigued by the anti-vaccination movement and so did not understand it. I still don’t really… But I do understand vaccines and immunity better! GET VACCINATED. VACCINATE YOUR KIDS. This book made the scientific stuff of immunity accessible. It was really neat learning about how our choices effect society and those around us. And this is coming from someone who does not read a lot of nonfiction, so don’t be afraid of it! It’s really good and I recommend it! 


9) The Winner’s Curse & The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski 

This YA fantasy series is a lot of fun. This one is about Kestrel and her home in Herran. Her people, the Valorians, conquered the Herrani and are now their overlords. This leads to a lot of tension and political intrigue! Pair that with top notch world-building, and you’ve got yourself a winner! If that sounds appealing to you, definitely check it out. I loved both books! 


10) Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raasch

This YA high fantasy is pretty great stuff. Meira is a teenage refugee living with a small group of others that have been exiled from their home for Meira’s whole life. They are fighting to reclaim their kingdom—Winter. Again, this one has some pretty great world building and political intrigue. It’s also got a neat magic system that determines the monarchy. I really liked this one and highly recommend it!






What are the best books you’ve read so far this year? 


Seraphina Audiobook Review!

Seraphina Audiobook Audible Rachel Hartman
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, narrated by Mandy Williams 
YA Fantasy
Audiobook
Published July 10th 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers

Seraphina is a beautiful epic young adult fantasy about…DRAGONS! And, well other stuff. Seraphina Dombegh is the daughter of a prominent lawyer in the Kingdom of Goredd. She’s a very talented musician that just joined the royal court. Just after she does so, a member of the royal family is murdered under very…suspicious circumstances.

Walking around Goredd, you might come across some people… that aren’t exactly like all the other people. They wear bells around their necks. Their talk is a little stilted. They value logic and abhor emotion. They look like people…but they are saarantri. They are dragons in human form. Human-dragon relations are a little… tense, but they have been relatively peaceful for the last forty years under Comonot’s treaty.

The Kingdom or Goredd has been at peace with dragons for forty years. Gored is now full of dragon ambassadors and scholars who are able to take the physical form of humans. As the treaty anniversary celebrations draw near, Prince Rufus is killed in a way that screams of dragon. The continued success already rocky treaty is becoming increasingly uncertain. 

Our heroine, Seraphina Dombegh, is the new assistant music mistress in the royal palace. She is called to play at the royal funeral, her extreme talent awing all present. With loyalties on both sides of the treaty, Seraphina begins to look into the murder of Prince Rufus with the help of the captain of the guard, Prince Lucien. Can Seraphina and Prince Lucien uncover the truth without Seraphina’s own secrets being revealed? 

I borrowed a copy of this audiobook from my library, and listened to it as I drove back and forth to work. At first it took me a little while to get into it. I found the narrator’s accent distracting and I wasn’t sure how I felt about the plot. As time went on, however, I began to appreciate the narrator, as she used pace and tone perfectly to draw me deeper into the story. 

Seraphina takes place in an extremely well developed and fully fleshed out world. The kingdoms and their people each have their own unique politics and characteristics. I loved the way the politics between the people of Goredd and the dragons evolved. At first I thought it seemed a little silly—dragons transforming into people, but I became increasingly intrigued as the story went on. Both of these peoples are so different, with different characteristics, traits, and cultures. But there are things they both share, if only they could let go of their prejudices long enough to see it. 

And that’s where Seraphina comes in. With her interests on both sides, she longs for each to see the merits of the other. Dragons are so logically minded, enjoying mathematical theorems and eschewing emotions. Dragons view people as weak, but interesting, plagued by disease that is emotion. Humans often view the dragons as cold monsters, capable of all sorts of evil. 

I love love loved this book. Excellent world building, character development, and political intrigue! I loved it so much. If you like high/epic fantasy, or just think dragons are cool, give this book a shot! 





Look out for my upcoming review of the sequel, SHADOW SCALE!

EPIC #BEA15 BOOK HAUL!

GUYS,

I finally got around to filming and editing my book haul from BEA this year! It was definitely interesting trying to gather up all my books and make sure I wasn’t forgetting any (which I probably was). It was really annoying because I had my video all edited and ready to go, but because of a lame computer glitch I had to do it all over again. YEAH. THAT’S COMMITMENT. You’re welcome. 😛 The video is posted on my booktube channel–FEEL FREE TO SUBSCRIBE (*shameless self-promotion*)

So, without further ado, HERE IS MY #BEA15 BOOK HAUL!

Thanks for watching!

#BEA15: MY EXPERIENCES



This year I was lucky enough to be able to attend the wonderful, the marvellous, the INSANE Book Expo America! For the last few years, this publishing trade event has been held at the Javits Centre in NYC.

So, I made my way to the city that never sleeps with my parents in tow. The first day of BEA was Blogger Con and I discussed by experiences of that in a previous post. You can read that post here.

Now. Let’s discuss the beast that is the BEA show floor. 
Day One. And, well, Day two. 

On the first day, I only got onto the show floor for an hour or two. It was a nice introduction because I hadn’t planned to go that day at all! Therefore, there was nothing on my list that I was rushing to get to. I just wandered about with Anne and Ashley of Lovely Literature and familiarized myself with the layout. This was really helpful because the next day was one of my most anticipated things—the AS King signing of I Crawl Through It! Because I now knew where the autographing area was, I was able to quickly and immediately make my way from the entrance to the lineup when the exhibit hall opened. It was great because I managed to be really near the front of the line for the 9:30a.m. signing! It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. However, because this was the first signing I had ever attended,  I was unprepared to be so starstruck. My brain fell out and I just smiled stupidly and excitedly. I didn’t even ask for a picture! I did that with basically all the other authors I met, but with my favourite it totally didn’t occur to me! #BEA15REGRETS


I had heard so much about how crazy the BEA show floor is. I think because of this I didn’t really find it all that bad! There were times when certain areas were congested, but on the whole the floor was definitely passable. I did, however, experience the craziness when it came down to in-booth signings. These are different than the signings in the autograph area—like where AS King was. These signing take place in the publishers booths. They usually have table type things set up where the signings take place. Sometimes the publishers are really great about lines. Sometimes… they are akin to Nazis.

There were few booths that let you line up early. I found that the publishers who didn’t were basically just in denial. Sorry guys, but if you have a hot commodity, people ARE going to show up early whether you like it or not. What’s important is how you handle that. Shout and condescend to the people who are there to support your author? Gripe and act generally petty and horrendous to people who buy your products and provide you FREE publicity? NO. Just NO. ESPECIALLY not to people who have the decency to line up neatly and out of the way. It’s just spiteful to tell people who show up AFTER them not to worry about that line because it’s not the “official” line; to purposely make the line somewhere the people in the “unofficial” line will have to scramble to get to, and then end up in the back. Chill the frig out and plan ahead for the early lines. We get it. There is limited space in the exhibit hall. You’re tired from working the booth all day for three days straight. But it’s not cool to treat the attendees like that. I experienced this a few times and honestly, it made me think quite badly of these publishers and certainly affects the way I will approach them and their products in the future. However, not all publishers were like this. Some were kind. They didn’t encourage early line-ups, but they didn’t actively go out of their way to make our lives hell either. I appreciated that. It was noted.

Ernie Cline!

Like I mentioned, on the second day of BEA, the first thing I did was go to the AS King signing. It was glorious. So, basically my life was made at that point. I had my day pretty meticulously planned out. I knew what I wanted to get to, and had just enough time to do it. Unfortunately, this left me at odds with the schedule of the ladies of Lovely Literature so we didn’t end up seeing each other again 🙁 


The next thing on my list was the Ernest Cline signing of Armada. This was an in-booth signing—my first big one. It was at the Penguin Random House booth. I got there after the “official” line had started but not too late—so I didn’t experience any problems. I was given a ticket and I waited in line! It was a really long line and I contemplated leaving it, honestly. I had to see Sara Raasch and I didn’t want to be late! However, it all worked out. And I managed to score a coveted copy of Armada! (Confession: still haven’t read Ready Player One yet… Please don’t kill me)

As I said, the next thing on my schedule was the Sara Raasch signing. All the way back in the autographing area (these two spots were like kitty-corner in a very, very large exhibit hall). The good thing though was that I was being a bit OCD about being places on time, so I was usually pretty early. Not like first-in-line kind of early, but mid-front-half-of-the-line early. I was a little bummed that Sara Raasch wasn’t signing ARCs of Ice Like Fire (I mean, come on!) but it was still nice to get an signed copy of Snow Like Ashes. It was great too because Sara was distracted when signing mine and signed it a bit differently than she had been signing other people’s… (She had been signing them “Let it snow…” but made an oopsy and “channeled Frozen” on mine :D)


ALSO, I met Kat from Katytastic and Jesse from jessethereader in line! Woohoo!! I saw them in line and stared at them like a creep for a while first. IT WAS HARD NOT TO LOOK AT THEM, OKAY? IT WAS LIKE THEY STEPPED OUT OF MY COMPUTER SCREEN. Again, I forgot to ask for a picture. Both with them, and with Sara. My brain. On the floor. 

At the end of all those shenanigans, it was around 11:30 and the next thing on my schedule wasn’t until 3:00. I decided to head down for lunch. I had planned on meeting up with Anne and Ashley for lunch but got distracted by all the pretty book things on the way. They ended up having to hurry to get to another signing. 🙁 So I took my time with lunch then meandered around and back up to the exhibit hall. While I was walking past Little, Brown I noticed what appeared to be Libba Bray. Signing books. And a HUGE line of people. 
Me and Libba Bray!


BUT BUT BUT BUT

Libba Bray was my 3:00!! I HAD WRITTEN DOWN 3:00. THE SCREENS ON THE WALL SAID 3:00. But… The handouts that I never picked up said 1:00… FRIGGITY FRIG FRIG. I morosely made my way to the end of the line. Thankfully there were tickets left or I seriously would have cried. 
Lesson learned: Double check the times online of the things you really want to do. Sometimes they change. 
It was okay though because I met some really cool people in line! That kind of happened a lot actually… 

The next signing I went to was for The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. Wee!! Then I moved on to Harlequin to get a signed copy of Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica. I may not have loved The Good Girl, but I didn’t hate it, and I wanted to give her next book a try. While waiting in line, I was asked to take a picture for a group of ladies. After I took the photo, one of the girls gave me a weird look and read my badge. Then pointed at her badge. We knew each other from Twitter! The other day Giselle from Bo-ok Nerd Canada tweeted me the names of some other Canadians at BEA and this girl was one of them! Kaley from Books Etc.! One of the other ladies in line with her was Melissa from Chick Lit Central. We chatted while we waited and it was awesome. It was like I was a normal person! I was speaking words! To other humans! Nice ones, even! (The other humans that is. Not my words. Not to say that my words were not nice, though. Whatever, you get it). 

Kaley and me!
When we got near the front of the line, I noticed the way the signing was set up was really weird. Instead of doing single author signings, Harlequin does “signing hours” that are based on genre. This was Women’s Fiction hour, so there were five or six authors signing… and you had to go down the line of all of them. I honestly didn’t know who these other authors were, or, if I did, I wasn’t really interested in their books. Just not my thing. However, I had to go down the line… And, of course, Mary Kubica was the second last one. IT WAS SO AWKWARD. After that I chatted some more with Kaley and Melissa (who are both REALLY AWESOME, check out their blogs) and then did a circle around the show floor again before heading out.  

Day three
Or, The Day I Met Mindy Kaling and My World Changed Forever

Kelley Armstrong and me!

On the third day, the first thing I wanted to go to wasn’t until 10:00. It was the Kelley Armstrong signing of The Masked Truth. I was really excited for this one! It is an adult thriller! I love thrillers. And Kelley Armstrong. I haven’t read her Otherworld series aside from Bitten, but I am obsessed with her Cainsville series. I bought the second book the day it came out. And I never do that! 

After meeting the lovely Kelley Armstrong, I headed over to the Midpoint booth for Liza Weimer’s signing of Hello? In line there I met a bunch of other bloggers! I met Sarah of You Should Read This, Tiff of Mostly YA Lit, Hazel of Stay Bookish, Cindy of Cindy’s Love of Books, and Lucy of Moonlight Gleam Reviews (sorry if I’m missing anyone)!
Hazel, Tiff, and me!
(Photo borrowed from Hazel’s Day 3 Recap on StayBookish.net!)
The rest of this day was mostly waiting around for the Mindy Kaling signing. I waited in line so long. But it was so worth it.  I’m not even going to bother discussing the line up shenanigans. (Publisher, you know who you are! I was decidedly unimpressed). BUT I MET MINDY KALING! And again bonded with bloggers in line! I spent like two hours hanging out with Sarah of You Should Read This! Mindy was just like I imagined her… Gorgeous, poised, generous, friendly… I LOVE HER. She called me by name and said she liked my glasses 😀 I AM NEVER GOING TO TAKE THEM OFF AGAIN. EVER. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to get pictures with Mindy… Boo. 

Celeste Ng!

It was cool too though because Celeste Ng was signing Everything I Never Told You in the booth right next to Mindy, and that was another one I really wanted. I was able to slip over and grab a copy! It was excellent! 


The very last thing on my schedule for #BEA15 was the Jennifer Niven signing of All The Bright Places. This was an excellent note to end on. All The Bright Places is a beautiful book that talks about loving someone with mental illness. It’s a book that means a lot to me and it was amazing to get to meet the lady behind it. When I told her her book meant a lot to me, she shook my hand. She was so, so kind—I almost cried! She got us all to sign her copy of All The Bright Places and gave out pins, post-its, and markers. It was great. 

Me and Jennifer Niven!

Well guys, that about sums it up. The highlights, anyway. 

It was so great to be surrounded by a bunch of people who love books as much as I do! And, my goodness. I got to meet authors! Living where I do, I never really get to go to signings and things like that! This was the first time! But it won’t be the last if I have any say in it! Even though meeting authors was SUPER AWESOME, I have to say my favourite part was meeting up with other bloggers. Hopefully if I got to BEA next year, I’ll know some bloggers better before we get there! 

All in all, I had an amazing experience at BEA and, if I am able, I will certainly be attending again. 

Coming up I will let you know what things worked for me this year and what things didn’t. I will give you some tips in case you plan on attending in the future! 

Don’t worry, I will also be doing a full book haul soon 😉 

“Second Life” by SJ Watson│Tour Review and GIVEAWAY [closed]!

Second Life by S.J. Watson
Psychological Thriller
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published June 9th, 2015 by Harper

Note: An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher for my participation in this TLC book tour and my honest review. All opinions expressed here are completely honest and completely my own.


This is the much anticipated second novel from the best selling author of Before I Go to Sleep!
 
From the publisher: 

She loves her husband. She’s obsessed by a stranger.
She’s a devoted mother. She’s prepared to lose everything.
She knows what she’s doing. She’s out of control.
She’s innocent. She’s guilty as sin.
She’s living two lives. She might lose both . . .



Julia’s life is rocked when her sister Kate is brutally murdered. Julia cannot wrap her mind around the senseless violence, and longs to figure out what really happened. There must be an explanation. A reason. A trail for her to follow. 
 
She befriends her sister’s flatmate and best friend. Through this friendship, Julia learns of Kate’s foray into the realm of online hookups. Julia decides that is where she must have met her killer. Julia makes her own profile to try to lure out her sister’s past hookups. However, as she digs deeper, she gets drawn into the world of online chatting and cybersex . . .
 
This book is certainly a page turner. I couldn’t put it down! When the main character’s life started spiralling out of control I just couldn’t look away . . . I didn’t particularly like the main character—but that was okay with me. I am kind of into that lately. However, this character was not totally unredeemable. If the character had been totally unredeemable, I might have had an issue. If you need a character you can particularly empathize with, maybe look elsewhere. 
 
I thought the premise of this story was really interesting, especially in this day and age. It shows the darker side of online interaction as well as the addiction that can develop. It explores secret lives and seeks to answer the question, how well can you really know another person?? 
 
The ending wasn’t exactly satisfying. But it wasn’t terrible. I understood the antagonist’s motivation, but it didn’t seem like . . . quite enough motivation. That being said, I did not see the twist coming, so that was a plus! 
 
Overall, I really liked this book. I didn’t like it as much as Before I Go To Sleep (that book is GOLD), but I did still enjoy it. 
 
(You can check out my review of Before I Go To Sleep here.)  

I recommend this book to those who like psychological thrillers and don’t mind not loving the main character. However, if you have read Watson’s first book, I remind you that this is a separate entity and you should not expect it to be the same as Before I Go to Sleep! It’s a very different book! If you are more into character driven stories, this one may not be for you. If you like face paced plot-driven ones, this one is something you should check out! 

 
About the Author
S. J. Watson was born in the Midlands and lives in London. His first novel was the award-winning Before I Go to Sleep, which has sold over four million copies in more than forty languages around the world. It was recently adapted into a major motion picture starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, and Mark Strong.
Find out more about S.J. at his website, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
 
S.J. Watson’s Tour Stops
To celebrate the release of Second Life, some bloggers will be reviewing S. J. Watson’s first book, Before I Go to Sleep!
Tuesday, June 9th: Fuelled by Fiction – Second Life
Wednesday, June 10th: Always With a Book – Second Life
Thursday, June 11th: Peeking Between the Pages – Second Life
Friday, June 12th: Why Girls Are Weird – Before I Go To Sleep
Monday, June 15th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books – Before I Go To Sleep
Monday, June 15th: A Bookworm’s World  – Second Life
Tuesday, June 16th: Kissin Blue Karen – Second Life
Wednesday, June 17th: My Bookshelf – Second Life
Thursday, June 18th: Kritters Ramblings – Second Life
Friday, June 19th: A Literary Vacation – Before I Go To Sleep
Monday, June 22nd: Why Girls Are Weird – Second Life
Tuesday, June 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller – Second Life
Wednesday, June 24th: From the TBR Pile – Second Life
Thursday, June 25th: Kahakai Kitchen – Second Life
Friday, June 26th: Staircase Wit – Second Life
Monday, June 29th: Sara’s Organized Chaos – Second Life
Tuesday, June 30th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books – Second Life
Wednesday, July 1st: Bookshelf Fantasies – Second Life
Wednesday, July 1st: Booked on a Feeling – Second Life
Thursday, July 2nd: FictionZeal – Second Life
Thursday, July 2nd: Mrs. Mommy Booknerd’s Book Reviews – Second Life
Friday, July 3rd: Kissin Blue Karen – Before I Go To Sleep

GIVEAWAY!

Harper has been kind enough to provide a copy of Second Life to one lucky reader! 
PLEASE make sure to read the Terms and conditions and follow the guidelines for each entry! Any entry that is not completed correctly will unfortunately be discarded.
This giveaway is open to residents of Canada and the U.S.

 

BEA BLOGGER CON 2015: My Thoughts and Feels!


As you may know, I went to BEA (Book Expo America) this year! AND IT WAS FREAKING AWESOME. 


I’m going to be doing a couple of posts about this trip. 
Here’s how I am going to break it down:
1)This post is my wrap up/summation of my Blogger Con experience. Here I will tell you what it was like and what I thought of the BEA Blogger Conference! 
2) I’ll do a separate post wrap up about BEA itself and what I learned. I’ll post any tips I have and what tips I read that actually panned out. 
3) OBVS I’ll also do a book haul, but I’m thinking this will be a video on my BookTube channel. 
4) I’ll also do a post talking about my trip and all the touristy shenanigans we got up to.

SO HERE WE GO.

If you spend much time on the bookternet, you’ll already know all about BEA. However, if you don’t I’ll fill ya in. Book Expo America is the largest publishing trade event in North America. Here publishers, authors, and related vendors come to show off their upcoming titles and authors. This event is attended by people that work in the industry, such as librarians, educators, booksellers, publicists, publishers, authors, the press, and yes, BLOGGERS!  A recent addition to this event is the the BEA Bloggers Conference.


BLOGGER CON 2015

My parents and I arrived in NYC the day before BEA began. It was pretty great! We became super tourists, and also made our way to the Javits Centre! We figured out how to get to and fro from our loggings! That helped the next morning so I wasn’t as stressed out 🙂 That being said… being not as stressed out doesn’t mean not stressed out. But I’ll get to that in a second.

The first day of BEA is Blogger Con. This is a conference devoted to us lovely bloggers and how to make our spaces better. This was held in “Hall A” of the Javits Center. I knew this and had a rough idea of where this was from out visit the previous day. However, my knowledge of its location was “down that hallway.” We didn’t go all the way down the hallway in our pre-show visit because, well, we were tired and hallway was long. I thought it would be okay though. Down the hallway. Hall A. Easy enough.

The day of the show, either we didn’t get up early enough or we miscalculated how long it would take us to get there (we stayed in Brooklyn), or whatever, but in any case, I was running late. Never having been, I didn’t know if this was going to be a big deal or not. To air on the side of caution, I decided to freak out just in case. Since I was freaking out, I lost most of my common sense and logic. I went down this hallway and frantically looked around for “Hall A.” I had no idea what this looked like. Was it a room? Is there a SIGN? WHERE DO I GOOOOOO. After a while of spinning around and looking like an idiot (no one asked me if I needed any help, by the way), I noticed a sign in the distance that had the word “bloggers” on it. It was obscured by an escalator and other signs promoting an ALA conference. Or was it ABA? Or AAP? I don’t know it was an American Association of some kind. I sped over to the registration table… And got my badge. And then went inside the big room behind the table. And then got a coffee. And a pastry. And it was really chill. 

But then, BUT THEN, I turned around to the greater room… and there were dozens of round tables surrounded by bloggers chatting with one another. I mean I saw these when I came in but I was mostly focused on the promised coffee and continental breakfast. When I took in all the people, I became painfully aware of the fact that I am not a social being. Not really in person (like right then, eeps!) and also I haven’t been that much online. These people were meeting up with FRIENDS. I didn’t have any there. I didn’t know a soul, online or off. I walked around a bit, pretending to know exactly what I was doing and where I was going. I ended up awkwardly perching on a chair at a half full table. They didn’t talk to me. I didn’t talk to them. But it was okay. I made it. And I had caffeine. 

After the initial shock and awkwardness wore off (who am I kidding? It never wore off), I made my way to the panels I thought would interest me. After a while, I looked around and saw that people were taking notes. And they all had the same pamphlet thingy that they were writing in. Where did they get those? And did they all just bring pens with them or something? I didn’t have a pen or anything to write with. So… I just became a sponge of sorts. An easily distracted sponge. 

Hey look! It’s Chritine Riccio from PolandbananasBOOKS!
After that first panel, I went in search of this pamphlet. That mission was a success! I had hoped that they were also maybe giving away pens too? But no such luck. On to the next panel. The panel I had planned to attend was completely full at that point… So I moved on to the other option. During each session they had two different panels going, each on a different “track.” One was aimed more toward beginners and the other a more advanced set. This panel that I went to didn’t really have anything to do with me, and wasn’t really what they made it sound like it was going to be… but it was okay.

After that, it was time for lunch. They handed out $15 lunch vouchers to be used in the food court. And let me tell you, that place was a ZOO. Not only that, but a $15 voucher just barely covered lunch. The food is SUPER pricey (ex. $10 for a premade tuna salad sandwich). And just so so, really.

One of the best things about the day was that Amanda Nelson of Book Riot was moderating a panel. I love the YouTube videos she does for BookRiot! She just seems so funny and nice and quirky. We don’t seem to have exactly the same taste in books, but I’ve definitely got some great recommendations from her! Before and after the panel I was tweeting about it (obvs) and my excitement. As it turned out, she read my tweets and recognized me from my picture! Afterward she came over to say hi and hugged me! Obviously my brain fell out and I lost all ability to form sentences and move my facial muscles, but the next panel started so I didn’t embarrass myself too much. But I also didn’t have the opportunity to redeem myself… She probably thought I was nuts… ANYWAY, she was really nice and it was AWESOME. 

At the end of the sessions, there was a sort of a drinks and networking hour. Although, it was more like a half hour… Anyway. At the end they were doing a galley (book) giveaway. THIS WAS A HUGE UNORGANIZED MESS AND I WAS NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT. Apparently they had more books last year to give away. And apparently there were not enough copies of each book for everyone to have one. Etc, etc. But instead of implementing any organization or guidelines or limitations, they were just like, the books are back there. And it was a MAD DASH. And people just grabbed anything and everything. There were people coming out of that mess with at least 15 books, and just grinning. While people like me stood back from the beast and waited for an opportunity to get even one book… I was pleased and lucky to be able to grab three.

Overall it was a great opportunity to learn and to network! I’d heard mixed things about this in previous years, but I enjoyed it this year. There were some things that I already knew, or didn’t care to know, but I thought on the whole it was a decent experience. However, there is definitely room for improvement. One thing that I decidedly did not like was that Blogger Con overlapped with the opening exhibit hall hours in the afternoon. Apparently in previous years Blogger Con was on a separate day. I think that is a much better idea! Do you want bloggers to actually attend your conference in the afternoon? And be happy about it? THEN DON’T MAKE THEM CHOOSE. I think it would also be a good idea to survey the bloggers that attend to see what they liked, didn’t like, etc, and what they would like to see in the future. Because we’re the ones paying to attend, and we’re the ones it is supposed to benefit. But, like I said, I did enjoy it this year overall

I had spent most of the day hopping about by myself, but I did end up making some friends by the end of it! I met the wonderful girls of Lovely Literature and they were kind enough to let me tag along with them. After the drinks/end of day thing, there was still some time left of exhibit hall hours! So, we made our way upstairs and poked around. It was great!

If you’re a blogger and are thinking of attending BEA 2016, I definitely do recommend giving Blogger Con a try. It may be hit or miss at times if you learn something, but you’ll definitely meet some other bloggers!