At long last, we’ve made it to the last of my posts recapping Book Expo and Book Con! While Sunday is generally less of a headlining day than Saturday, it was still a lot of fun and there’s lots to cover!
My sister and I started out the day skipping the line for the show floor and instead lining up to get samplers of King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. I’m not normally one for samplers and I made no attempt to grab one during Book Expo, but I wound up getting a couple of Grisha pins when I walked by the Fierce Reads booth during Book Expo and wanted to get the last one I was missing, so we lined up for sampler and pins. Unfortunately the line was pretty slow once they started giving them out because they tried to encourage you to take a photo op with the crowns they were giving out, which was neat, but my sister and I weren’t that interested and just wanted to grab our stuff and go.
We did eventually make our way through the line, and then we split up. She wanted to see Bill Clinton speak since she’s never seen a president or former president speak in person, so she went to the panel he was doing with James Patterson about their new book.
I agree that it’d be cool to see, but I had a signing near the end of her panel, so instead I went to the We Need Diverse Books panel. I’m a huge fan of the We Need Diverse Books organization and what it’s accomplished, but I thought the panel was just ok. It didn’t really cover much new territory for me, so I snuck out a bit early to start lining up for Rebecca Roanhorse’s signing since the first 100 people in line would receive free copies of her upcoming book, Trail of Lightning, and people line up like crazy at Book Con as soon as there’s a whiff of a free book.
As it turns out, the line wasn’t that bad and I had no problem getting a free copy and getting it signed. I actually wound up reading this one almost right away since we got copies maybe three weeks before it’s on shelves, and I really enjoyed it, so I’m really glad I got it signed. And I’m really excited for some of Roanhorse’s other upcoming books! I desperately need the sequel to Trail of Lightning, and she’s also working on a matriarchal fantasy inspired by the Anasazi cliff dwellers as well as a book for Rick Riordan’s imprint. So she’s definitely an author to watch for me.
Since my sister was still in her panel by the time I finished and I had nothing else planned for a while, I decided to line up for Naomi Novik’s signing, where they were giving out arcs of Spinning Silver. I was there an hour early, and there was already a massive line waiting. I didn’t realize, but apparently there was a ticket drop before the signing, and that’s why the line was already nuts. I wasn’t that invested, but since I had nothing else to do, I stuck around. Turns out the booth didn’t honor the unofficial line, so it turned into a mob attacking the woman handing out tickets. I refused to fight for one and approached the mob cautiously, but then the guy next to me turned out to be an employee who was also handing out tickets, so I wound up getting one. But dang, what a disaster.
I found out later from the guy manning the line that they actually had someone go to the front, middle, and end of the line to hand out tickets, and they do that because they want people who don’t realize that others will line up for tickets to still be able to walk up at the time of the ticket drop and get a ticket. I get it, but I’m not sure I agree when it becomes such a disaster like that. It’d be way more orderly and fair if they just honored the unofficial line.
Anyways, my sister met me in line and filled me in on her panel (she enjoyed it a lot), and then she took my copy of The Displaced and went and found a bench to read on while I waited out the line. And sure enough, I eventually made my way to the front and was able to get a signed arc of Spinning Silver! I actually haven’t read any of Novik’s books yet even though a number of them are on my TBR, so I’m really excited I was able to get this and will definitely read it before it comes out next month!
After that I reconnected with my sister, though not before stopping at the Norton booth and buying copies of Gulp and Packing for Mars by Mary Roach for $5 each. Actually, while there weren’t all that many free books at Book Con this year (as far as I’m aware), there were some really good book deals! A few of the publishers were lame and only selling full price books that weren’t signed or anything, so there was pretty much no incentive to buy those and schlep them around all day. But a lot of publishers were running some pretty good sales or had signed copies, which was pretty cool.
My sister and I then headed to the Romance and Resistance panel, which I have to admit I wasn’t all that excited for even though Sarah MacLean was on it. I just feel like it’s a topic that’s been kind of overdone lately in the romance sphere. But it actually wound up being a pretty awesome panel! I’m not sure how long the moderator has been reading romances for (a few of her comments made it sound like not long), but the authors were great and brought new life to the topic, and overall it was just a fun panel.
Actually, my sister and I were so impressed with KM Jackson and Aya de León that we wound up stopping by Barnes and Noble later to pick up copies of some of their books. Unfortunately they didn’t have the specific Aya de León book we were looking for and they only had one copy of the KM Jackson book we wanted, so I let my sister use my Barnes & Noble coupon to buy the last KM Jackson book, and I ordered the two I wanted online along with a copy of Rick Riordan’s latest book, which I decided I really want to read after seeing him in person at Book Expo.
Anyways, after the romance panel we checked out a panel featuring LGBTQ+ authors. Honestly, I was mostly there for Mackenzi Lee, and wholly crap did she light up the room when she started speaking! She just has so much energy and is so passionate about her work that you couldn’t help but be swept up in her enthusiasm. The panel overall was engaging and interesting (though I didn’t care for the moderator; she was definitely saved by having great panelists), but Lee definitely stole the show for me.
I was actually planning to skip Mackenzi Lee’s signing even though I had tickets because it overlapped with a panel I was really interested in and it required a book purchase, and I already own copies of her books that I want. But after seeing her on the panel, I decided I needed a book signed by her, so I ran upstairs as soon as the panel was over to stake out an early spot in the line. Unfortunately there were already a lot of people there, but I had my fingers crossed that I’d still be able to make the start of my panel or be maybe five minutes late. As it turns out, it wasn’t until I had already bought a copy of Bygone Badass Broads, which I settled on getting signed so I could give my original copy to my sister, that I realized the line was moving way too slowly for me to make my panel. So while I was a bit agitated in line, it was awesome to get to meet Mackenzi Lee and tell her how much I enjoy her books and her YouTube recommendations video, and she had a pile of these great “I Ship Percy + Monty” buttons. Fingers crossed I can see her again when Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy comes out!
On a side note, I dislike that Book Con paired Mackenzi Lee’s signing with Dhonielle Clayton’s. Since I had attended The Belles book launch in New York, I talked for a minute with her about what an amazing job she did designing the decor for the event (seriously, it was so cool!), but I felt like a lot of people just awkwardly stood in front of her while waiting to talk to Mackenzi Lee. Maybe she was ok with it, which is all that really matters, but I definitely thought it was a less than ideal situation.
Anyways, after I got my book signed, I sprinted back down to the Toxic Male Syndrome panel, where my sister was saving a seat for me. Unfortunately I was 15 minutes late, so I missed a third of the panel, which I was really looking forward to because it’s a topic I haven’t seen on a panel before and Alisha Rai was on the panel, and she’s awesome. But it actually didn’t seem like I missed too much. I’m not sure what the deal was, but what I caught of the panel was just ok. No one was jumping out of their seat to talk and there wasn’t a ton of back and forth. I enjoyed it, but I don’t remember a ton of it. My sister was thrilled we went to it, though, because she was able to get a copy of one of Aya de León’s books when she walked in! So she left Book Con a very happy camper since she got a free book of her own.
So there you have it! A very comprehensive look at what my Book Expo and Book Con experiences were like. It was definitely a lot by the time I was at the Javitz for five days, but it was so much fun that it was totally worth it for me. I had a blast, and I hope I get the chance to go again next year!