Monday, May 16, 2016

BEA16 Recap: Amazing and Exhausting Fun!

Hello friends!
I am back from another year of Book Expo America. I absolutely love this event. It is such an amazing opportunity to connect with fellow bloggers and book lovers, meet authors who wrote some amazing books, network with publishers and bloggers, pick up some exciting fall releases, and learn about books that flew under your radar.

This year was the first year it was outside of New York so I was interested to see how Chicago would do it. And the answer, amazingly! I was super impressed with McCormick and their efficiency, adaptability, problem-solving, and general presentation. It was fantastic! Next year is back to New York but I'm almost considering doing ALA instead because that is in Chicago. I do think one of the things that made it great for me was the fact that we stayed at the hotel right across the street. It was so convenient and I could just roll out of bed and head down there in the morning and then get back there immediately at the end end of the day to nap and chill. It made for a much more relaxing experience rather than having to lug everything back to my brother's place in the Bronx during my New York BEAs.

Plus this trip was made infinitely better because I was staying with a group of delightful and fun blogger friends. There were twelve of us total staying in three rooms so there was lots of hang out sessions before and after the show floor. Sure we got on each other's nerves because we are introverted Internet people but they are so lovely. I loved spending time with them and I already miss seeing their real faces and not their avatars. Michelle, Christina, Rachel, Octavia, Shelly, Britt, Becca, Katie, Nikki, Angie, and Pili (click on their names for their blog links) you all made this BEA so amazing.

I also think that because this was my third BEA I knew what to expect. Or should I say, I knew to expect the unexpected. You can never fully prepared for Book Expo America but you can know what you need to do to get ready and what it will be like when you get there. And you can make a plan of attack that makes you less anxious. That's what I think what I was able to do this time. I'm not an old pro yet, but I'm getting there maybe.

Pre-BEA: Before all the craziness happened

Before the official start of BEA I headed to Chicago to meet everyone. I headed to the airport about 10:30AM for my 12:45 flight. When I get to the airport I got the call that my flight was delayed. But it was was only about a half hour delay so I head there anyway so I can eat some lunch before the flight. And ugh, what a rough flight. The weather delay made sense with the turbulence on that flight on both take off and landing. But I got to Chicago in one piece. When I got there I met up with Christina and we got coffe and waiting for Nikki, Wendy from Book Scents, and Jess from Gone With the Word to get to the airport so that we could share an Uber to the hotel. We stuffed five people and eight suitcases into one car. It was a tight squeeze but a totally fun ride. When we got to the hotel we dropped off our suitcases and then decided we wanted to go to Target to get snacks and drinks for the week as well as anything we may have forgotten. A lot of the group was like "let's get wine" and I was over here like "where's the jerkry?" BEA Pro-Tip: high protein snacks. But when we finished at Target we headed back to the hotel to wait for the rest of our group to get dinner. We ended up going to Lou Malnati's, which came very highly recommended. It took forever to get a table and our food but t was totally worth the wait and seriously delicious Chicago deep dish. After that we just went back to the hotel, chilled and talked and laughed. Naturally.

Day One: I thought this would be the easy day.

The first day of BEA was the half day. So before it all began we went out for breakfast with some other bloggers at Yolk. Wendy planned it and there was a great group of ladies there. Plus, holy giant portions, Batman. I had a five egg omelette you guys. It was freaking huge! I only ate half of it.

So then after breakfast we headed back to the hotel before going to the conference hall to get in line. We figured with there not being much happening there wouldn't be much of a line but we still went down at 11:30 to get in line because we're early birds. Before I realized it the line was huge and there was no structure to it so obviously when the doors opened there was a free-for-all and everyone flooded in. 

Day 1 Book Haul
It's honestly all a blur where I went and when. All I know is that I went around to get schedules of drops so I could make a plan of when and where I was going to go. Plus I stopped by some of the smaller publishers to ask about copies of books I wasn't sure would be there. That's how I ended up getting a copy of Ghostly Echoes which is so exciting! Mostly it was just drops that day but it was still super stressful. I think it was partially anxiety and partially that I didn't have a plan. The highlight was getting to meet Michael Dante Dimartino and getting a copy of Rebel Geniuses, getting How to Hang a Witch which I didn't even know what would be there, and that I got books in drops that meant I to get later in the week so it opened up my schedule a lot. Lowlights were the Harper drop for Three Dark Crowns where they wouldn't let us line up early and we just had to hover in the way on all sides of the booth and the stupid dice game at Little Brown. I got lucky and got wild card so I got the book I wanted but it was silly that they didn't just let us pick.

But all in all it was a good day and I got some great books. It was crazy and hectic but it was a good way to jump back into the craziness that is BEA. After that our group decided we needed Shake Shack for dinner so we headed downtown courtesy of this amazing Lyft driver who was blaring hip hop and R&B music. Octavia was in the front seat singing and at one point a bus driver stuck in traffic next to us rolled his window to compliment the music. Seriously you guys, Uber and Lyft drivers are the unsung heroes of BEA. After a delicious burger and cheese fries which which was jut what I needed for cure my exhausted hangriness, we wandered I around a souvenir shop for a little bit before heading back to the hotel where I promptly passed out. 

Day 2: Where I Lack Self-Control

After the stress of being unprepared for the first day of BEA, I made sure I had a plan for this day. So after a quick coffee stop I headed to the entrance at 7AM to wait for the doors to open. The line wasn't too bad and it let me meet and chat with some bloggers that I've been following for years, like Jessica from A GREAT Reader and Nikki from Take Me Away. I was really impressed with McCormick for seeing that the line was crazy the day before and put up ropes to direct things. It was fantastic. When the door opened there was a mad dash to Macmillan for their 9AM ticket drop for in-booth signing. After the embarrassment last year I didn't run but I did get there fast to get a ticket for Kristen Simmons Metaltown signing. After that I was went to Harper for their 9:30 drop of Replica and a few other books. After that I went back to Metaltown and met the very sweet Kristen Simmons. Then I headed to the autographing area for the signing of Of Fire of Stars. I was going to use my Front of the Line Pass but it wasn't too bad so I decided not to. At that point they told us they would run out of books so instead I decided to just drop off my books at my suitcase and catch the last bit of the YA Buzz Books Panel. It was great and I was able to get some books I'm really excited about. After that I headed to Bloomsbury for their 11:30 drop. 

Day 2 Book Haul
I first went to line up at Harlequin and relax a bit but I heard that the 1pm ticket drop for Macmillan was crazy. So Michelle stayed in the Harlequin line to get all the books that we would share and I went to Macmillan to get us both tickets. But it definitely was pure insanity. It seemed like a good idea at the time to have all those tickets get picked up at the same time but they wouldn't let us line up beforehand so there was a ridiculous amount of people crowded in to the space in front of their booth. It got overwhelming very quickly. But they finally moved us to a line and I got a ticket for Vassa in the Night and one for Michelle for Stacey Kade. They only let us get two each so Britt very sweetly agreed to get David Levithan for Michelle and Vassa for herself. At that point I needed another stop at my suitcase so I went to drop off mine and Michelle's books before getting water and relaxing a bit before the afternoon stops. Then it was to Little Brown for another dice game. Which is where I saw the amazing Laini Taylor and got a picture with her and some other lovely bloggers and got a copy of And The Trees Crept In thanks to Ashley from Books4Nerds for swapping me. Then a few other stops before heading to Disney for their Iron Man in-booth with Aion Colfer who was so nice and asked me about my piercing. They were supposed to have mocktails but by the time I got there they were gone, which was fine. I just stopped by Harper to see if there were still books from their 4pm drop of The Female of the Species and The Thousandth Floor. There was so I grabbed them and headed back to the hotel exhausted. I only wanted 14 books but I ended up with 21! Although some were books I was hoping to get the next day so it freed up the schedule a lot.

When I got back everyone was really tired and hungry but we relaxed before a bunch of them headed to all the publisher parties. Those of us who did my go to any parties stayed at the hotel hanging out. We were trying to decide if we wanted to order food so and the expression "because I'm so hungry I could eat my eggs" seemed hilarious to us. We ended up getting Chinese food and having a Hamilton singalong. It was perfect.

Day 3: All the Signings and Waiting.

Friday was the third and final day of BEA. I was absolutely exhausted and ready to go home to nap for days but I was so sad for it all to be over. I woke up early and ate those eggs that I was so hungry I could eat the day before stopping to get coffee and heading to McCormick to get in line. There were a ton of ticketed authors this morning so I knew a lot of people would be in that line early so I didn't get there quite so early but I wanted to get a good spot. Once again I met and chatted with some very sweet bloggers and bookish people while waiting in line. One of them even told me she heard there were tickets for Maggie Stiefvater's signing left if I was interested. And I love me some Maggie so I grabbed one.

In general this day was much more laid back but that was also because for me it was all about the signings which I hadn't been at many earlier in the week. So I bounced from place to place all morning basically. First I went straight to Macmillan for their 9AM ticket drop so I could get tickets for Leigh Bardugo and Stephanie Garber. Then I went to Maggie's line to stake out a good spot. After that I went to the 9:30 drop at Penguin Random House for The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon before heading back to Maggie. I love seeing Maggie so that was amazing but there we so many people with Front of the Line Passes so it was a little disheartening to get there early and not get through the line right away, but I was doing that later so I couldn't be too mad. And then I went to Macmillan to meet Leigh Bardugo. I met her last year but I forgot to take a picture so of course I had to take one this year. When she looked at my name, she made my life, by saying she loves it and that I sound like a badass steampunk female heroine. Seriously, Leigh Bardugo loves my name! Then I went over to another Fierce Reads lady, Marissa Meyer. This was when I was using my Front of the Line Pass, and I felt bad cutting off Nori from Read Write Love 28 but she was so sweet about it and we joked that it was payback for her doing it to me at Maggie. Marissa was so sweet and I made sure to get a picture because I love her books. And then finally, back to Macmillan for Stephanie Garber signing her debut, Caraval. It was a very Macmillan morning.

Day 3 Book Haul
At that point I needed to get off the floor and relax so Nikki and I decided we needed lunch and a real lunch, not just the snacks we were carrying in our bags all week. So we went down to the cafeteria and grabbed delicious $6 hot dogs. Wendy had raved about them the day before so I knew it would be good. After that we headed to Penguin to check on the line for the afternoon drop of Gemina. It was already starting but not too crazy so I went to the signing of Stalking Jack the Ripper with Kerri Maniscalco. She was so sweet and remembered me from Twitter. And then it was back to PRH for Gemina. I ended up in line with some fellow Sanderson Army members, Jessie and Dani from Ageless Pages, who I had not had a chance to chat with much during the week so it was great to hang out with them in that massive two hour long line. The nice thing about that too was that I was able to go make some pit stops during that line. I went to a few other publishers, grabbed a drop at Disney, and MET JAY KRISTOFF! He was just hanging around and so I got to talk to him a bit and take a picture. Everyone wanted to see how small they were compared to him but I'm tall so I wanted to compare that. But seriously, wow he is a giant! Then I was able to get a copy of Gemina and with my BEA complete I headed back to the hotel.

Photo Credit: Octavia
That night was the Blogger Dinner so after resting up a little bit and getting changed we headed to the restaurant which was only about a mile away. And despite our exhaustion and the fact that it was raining we still decided to walk over there and it was actually a nice walk. The dinner was also totally fantastic. It was planned by Octavia from Read Sleep Repeat and Whitley from Reading With a Vengeance. They had fun things like bookish drinks to order, a banner to sign, and a raffle with fun prizes. Plus I was able to talk to some people I didn't get to meet during the week like Rashika from The Social Potato and Mishma from Chasing Faery Tales, they were both so nice. And I finally got to meet Jessie from Goldilox and the Three Weres who I have been chatting with forever about fantasy books among other things. She was as amazing in person and it was so great to talk IRL. The dinner was great but by that point I was mentally and physically drained so I headed back to the hotel BEA officially over.

And now that I am back home, still tired and groggy from a week of non-stop excitement, lines, being on my feet, and lack of sleep I miss it. It was so much fun. It was great to see all the friends I made at past conferences and meet new friends this time around, it was great to meet amazing authors both of books I love and books I'm excited to try, and it was great to find out about all the new books for the upcoming season. I took home a total of 41 books, more than I wanted but I'm excited about all of them. I can't wait to start reading and to share my thoughts here for you all.

Total BEA Book Haul

Did you go to BEA? What did you think? If you didn't go what would have been the one book you would want to grab? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. Great recap and pictures. I wish I could have stayed for the blogger dinner. I had a great time at BEA though. It was even more amazing than I thought it would be. :)

  2. It makes me so happy that you went to Lou's! It's my favorite place for deep dish and I've tried all of the major places in Chicago! It was so fun finally meeting you in real life at the blogger dinner too! I'm glad you had an awesome time at BEA!

  3. Nice!! I loved meeting you in real life!! It was so fun!! I ended up passing on the blogger dinner, because by the time Friday night rolled around, I was worn out. And I was planning on attending Book Con despite the shudders some of my friends gave me! LOL! So I stayed in and attempted to get some rest. But it was still an incredibly fun week!

    Lou's was awesome! I was worried I wouldn't like it being a think crust girl, but deep dish wasn't as bad as I thought it would be! LOL!

  4. It was so fun to hang out with you a bit during BEA!

  5. great post BEA is definitely on my Bucket List! Thanks!

  6. Cassiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!! I MISS YOU SO MUCH GIRL!!
    Great recap! I really need to work on mine this week!

  7. I sounds like you had the best time, Cassi! I am so glad you had fun and were able to hang out with so many awesome bloggers. I am so jealous you got to meet Marissa Meyer, I hope that I will one day get the chance to meet her. There are so many awesome books that I would have picked up (can't pick just one). lol. So where is this pic with Jay Kristoffh?!? I've seen several of him with shorter people, but I really need to see him beside you to get a better understanding of how tall he really is. :P
    Again, I am so glad you had a blast. And you got so many awesome books (several I'm really excited about)! I hope you enjoy reading them! :D

  8. It was so great to finally meet you in REAL LIFE! It was so much fun hanging out and talking books. Can't wait for our BEAreunion.


  9. Thank you for braving the "not a line-line" at Macmillan for my tickets!! You and Britt are my heroes :) BEA was a blast and I have the next whole YEAR to talk you into going to NYC!!!

    1. Oh yeah-- and next time you're hungry, think about your unborn children before you decide what you're going to dine on.