BEA – Books Everywhere…Ahhh!

Where do I even begin?

The last few days have been incredible — and I know my tendency to blather on about things I find exciting, but I’ll try to keep my gushing to a minimum.

This year, I had the wondrous opportunity to attend BEA – Book Expo America – which, I’m convinced, is where all my dreams come from. My favorite wordsmith, Jane Yolen, along with her daughter, Heidi Stemple, ushered me to the convention as Morpheus and Hypnos would upon a dark steed (or in this case, their black Hyundai), through the perilous nightmares of New York City streets.

36 books, 21.5 miles, 3 car jump starts and 1 sippy cup later (and only one caffeinated beverage!), I’m back home, still reeling from how much was packed into the last three days.

My biggest take-aways from my first BEA:

The hype is real and it’s a lot of fun!  Now, here’s what I’m going to tell you… because somehow I missed this in all my preparations… What I failed to gather was an understanding as to just how much time I would spend standing in line.

My first stop was waiting in line for Neil Patrick Harris. Letdown #1: a billion other people thinking the exact same thing. Letdown #2: He might not get to sign for everyone. Letdown #3: Rather than a full galley copy, he was signing a sample.  Whoa, whoa… a sample? What is this?? I stood in line for 45 minutes for someone to hand me a 30 page pamphlet? Why would I want this signed? That’s when reality set in. I ditched the line.

Til I got sucked in again when I saw Anjelica Huston. (At least this time, it was a hardcover copy of the full book!) And again for Marie Lu. And Rainbow Rowell. And Lev Grossman. And Tim Federle. And Ally Condie… Though there were so many I missed! Garth Nix, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, David Levithan, R.L. Stein, Stan Lee, A.S. King, Alan Cumming, Jane Lynch, Gregory Maguire… and Grumpy Cat 😦

Luck was not on my side when it came to any author in the autographing area. Each attempt was thwarted by a early closed line, or a mile-long line of squatters. Squatters. You know, the folks that decide to sit down because they’ve been waiting in line since the night before the universe was created. That kind of patience extended ell beyond my threshold for this event. Whether I arrived an hour before a signing, or ten minutes before a signing, I never stood a chance. That’s another thing: expect your plans to be changed. All of the authors mentioned above were those I intended on meeting, but then again, I suppose meeting 1/3 of my list isn’t too bad.

Instead, I found my biggest rewards at book drops. That’s where a publisher births about 100 ARCs on a tabletop while people rush by and swoop them up. These lines, though also rather long, rush through rather quickly, usually yielding a satisfying three or four ARCs at a time.

What I missed out on the most were the author panels (many took place on Saturday, the day after I left when BEA became open to the public) but also on the conferences and talks. I inadvertently bypassed so many networking opportunities with other bloggers. Though, I should point out, the few that I met while waiting in lines were all lovely! Here’s to hoping I’ll get to attend next year!

In the meantime, I submit this list of acquisitions to my Sickness. These were not purchased! So based on my original rule set, they’re acceptable additions. With all of these new ARCs, I will need to revisit and reformat how to account for them… But until then…:

 

  1. Trial By Fire – Josephine Angelini
  2. Miles to Go – Connie Bailey
  3. Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas – Stephanie Barron
  4. Witch Island – David Bernstein
  5. The Iron Trail – Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
  6. Atlantia (sample) – Ally Condie
  7. The Emissary – Patricia Cori
  8. So We Read On – Maureen Corrigan
  9. Not My Father’s Son – Alan Cumming
  10. Hell to Pay – Garry Disher
  11. Endgame: The Calling – James Grey & Nils Johnson-Shelton
  12. The Magician’s Land – Lev Grossman
  13. Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography (sample) – Neil Patrick Harris
  14. Skink– No Surrender – Carl Hiaasen
  15. Bombay Blues – Tanuja Desai Hidier
  16. The Devil’s Intern – Donna Hosie
  17. Flying Shoes – Lisa Howorth
  18. A Story Lately Told – Angelica Huston
  19. Mastering Toby – Jan Irving
  20. Evil Librarian – Michelle Knudsen
  21. Amulet: Escape from Lucien – Kazu Kibuishi
  22. The Young Elites (sample) – Marie Lu
  23. On A Clear Day – Walter Dean Myers
  24. Last Winter We Parted – Fuminori Nakamuri
  25. Young Houdini: The Magician’s Fire – Simon Nicholson
  26. Clariel – Garth Nix
  27. King Dork Approximately – Frank Portman
  28. Mort(e) – Robert Repino
  29. Jackaby – William Ritter
  30. Landline – Rainbow Rowell
  31. Dataclysm – Christian Rudder
  32. I Became Shadow – Joe Shine
  33. Sway – Kat Spears
  34. A Sudden Light – Garth Stein
  35. Sisters – Raina Telgemeier
  36. The Black Butterfly – Shirley Reva Vernick
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We Have REACHED The End

Nearly three years later, I can finally say I’ve completed Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy. I looked over my review of Crossed, book two from the series, and realized now how brutal I was in critiquing it (I’m sorry!) After finishing this final entry, I now feel more familiar with the author’s tone and have a better understanding and appreciation for the trio.

matched crossed reached ally condie

When I first read Matched, I was coming off of a Hunger Games binge, so my expectations were set for something much more action-packed or thrilling. Matched was more subdued. The premise hooked me right away: soon after their 16th birthday, teenagers of The Society are introduced to their life match in a grand ceremony. They are presented with a data card to take home and review their match’s profile, but once Cassia inserts her data card, she sees the face of a boy who is not the same as the one she was matched with during the ceremony. Was it a glitch in The Society’s perfect system? Cassia finds herself in the middle of secret love triangle and soon discovers that The Society’s cracked facade is starting to crumble. With the help of her two potential matches, Cassia investigates the mystery of The Pilot — a fabled leader meant to head up The Rising and overthrow The Society.

To sum up Crossed, Cassia is wandering around the Grand Canyon with one of her matches (Ky) and a few more teens and discover tubes containing preserved tissue samples from the members of The Society that have all died… presumably to bring the deceased back in the future. We still don’t know who The Pilot is, but it’s got to be one of the three from this love triangle, right?

Reached gives us the collapse of The Society and the takeover of The Rising by the use of a widespread viral plague. Certain members that have been selected by The Rising (since birth) are immune, and therefore unharmed… until someone pops up with a mutated version and then everyone’s at risk. That’s a big “Oops.” Cassia and her two matches are tasked with helping to discover the cure. Ky becomes infected by the mutation, but of course, he survives and is ultimately paired with Cassia.

There were some unexpected curve balls: The Pilot was just a random guy. The Rising was actually created by The Society as a way to feign a rebellion, to gain the community’s trust, and ultimately still be in control of everyone. There was no big blow-out fight for Cassia’s love. In fact, the two boys were stayed friends throughout the entire trilogy… so a bit anticlimactic.

Overall, though, the series has a very steady flow. The first book gave us one point of view, the second book introduced a new point of view, and the third book gave us three. When I first read Crossed, I found this flip-flopping to be a bit forced, but in reading Reached, I found it to be part of a natural progression in the story-telling. Condie’s descriptions of the setting of the story are vivid and beautiful. All of her characters are likable, but I’m not sure if it’s because everyone in The Society is groomed to be regulated and well-balanced, or if there was lack of more interpersonal conflict. I didn’t find myself disliking any of the characters… and I had a difficult time deciding which of the two matches Cassia should ultimately end up with because everyone was so “nice.”

I definitely would not call this the next Hunger Games. But for a strong young female protagonist living in a post-apocalyptic futuristic society in the middle of a love triangle, it fits the bill.

Oh, and a band of Archivists ran a black market of smuggled historical papers, objects, and other such paraphernalia. My future as a librarian is now justified. 

Battle of the Books

People may think my book choosing methods are strange, but honestly, I just find it amusing. Considering my lack of interest in sports, a book bracket may be as close as I get to some type of Fantasy League. Here’s the breakdown:

I chose two books from eight different categories, yielding sixteen titles total. (Well, six. I doubled up on two categories.)

  • Stephen King Classics: Cujo vs Misery
  • Travel: A Year in Provence vs PTown
  • LGBT fiction: Will Grayson, Will Grayson vs The Brothers Bishop / In The Line of Beauty vs Hero
  • YA series (having 3 or more titles): Insurgent vs Rebel Heart / Beautiful Darkness vs Reached
  • Kindle Books (fiction): Ten vs Better Nate Than Ever
  • Fiction: Little Children vs Dogs of Babel

Once selected, I set the titles against one another in their respective categories and flipped some coins and followed the paths of the bracket tree. The resulting list will govern the order of the books I will read over the course of the next year. With my recent acceleration in reading (like reading 35 books in 14 weeks for class) I imagine this will be a breeze. I may push a title to the front of the list as an audiobook becomes available through OverDrive or my library.

  1. Reached
  2. Insurgent
  3. Cujo
  4. Dogs of Babel
  5. Hero
  6. Ten
  7. The Brothers Bishop
  8. A Year in Provence
  9. Rebel Heart
  10. Beautiful Darkness
  11. Will Grayson, Will Grayson
  12. In The Line of Beauty
  13. Misery
  14. Better Nate Than Ever
  15. PTown
  16. Little Children
Battle of the Books
Battle of the Books

Here we go!